January 29, 2015

Why not you and I?

Guest: Greg Perry, Vassar student and Editor of the “Chronicle,” Vassar’s hard hitting, political journal, talks about freedom of expression at an elite, liberal arts college.

Greg and I had a good talk about racism and American imperialism. Greg's journal is all about printing the opinions that liberals hate to hear, that we live in a pervasive racist society that few white liberals want to understand. Perhaps their privilege gets in the way. Perhaps if they realized that racism is an integral part of the system, they would have to do something about it. 

I found my self defending the system at times. Not because I think it is defensible, but because I don't want Greg's generation to be overwhelmed with the power and omnipotence of the empire. Yes, it is all one gargantuan system, but we can chew away at the wires and short circuit what we can. 
A little mouse got into the wires
At the central clearing house in Buenos Aires.
One little mouse short circuited the computers,
Says a press dispatch from Reuters.
Hooray for the little mouse
That fucked up the clearing house,
And threw the Stock Exchange in a spin
And made the bankers cry.
So much for the electronic brains,
That run the world of banks and aeroplanes,
And if one little mouse can set them all awry,
Why not you and I? - Malvina Reynolds 
So to Greg and the students at the Vassar Chronicle, I say, "Why not you and I?"

January 21, 2015

Keeping one step ahead of the censors and the secret police

GUEST: Helena Cobban, a British writer and researcher on international relations and the Middle East, will talk about the company she founded, Just World Books.

There are people in the media exploring ways to keep uncensored information available to the public. Helena Cobban worked as a Middle East correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, the go to newspaper in the US if you wanted to read news articles unfiltered by the big corporations or your government. 

Book publishing seems to be a continuation of her efforts. Gaza is off limits to the US mainstream media. Why not a Gaza cookbook that shows Palestinian culture and cuisine? Can one read a book about family cooking and then look the other way while Israel slaughters 500 Palestinian children in Gaza? Our politicians are paid by the Israel Lobby to ignore war crimes. Ordinary citizens who read cookbooks are much more apt to start a moral debate about apartheid. 

Also fascinating is the technology that allows for the instant printing of books like this. Technology seems to keep one step ahead of the censors and the secret police. Or is it the human spirit that keeps reasserting itself?

January 8, 2015

Corporate control needs to be completely dismantled

GUEST: Jasmine Gripper, Early Childhood Campaign Coordinator & Statewide Advocate for the Alliance for Quality Education, discusses the need to defend public schools against a hostile, corporate takeover.

Ms. Gripper never wavered from her basic theme, that children deserve better than charter schools run by billionaire investors. 

So many things about our society are troubling, but racism in education has to be one of the worst. Public schools are starved in funding by the states and by the federal government. Rich districts therefore end up with obscenely more money than poor districts, since local property taxes play an ever increasing role in paying for schools. 

None of this is the fault of teachers or students. But the inequity is used to sell corporate controlled charter schools to people of color. Starving the public schools creates an opening for billionaires like Bill Gates and the Walton Family to come in and privatize inner city schools. Instead of schools being controlled by parents and the community, they are run like factories to return the highest profit to investors.

Are all capitalist systems this destructive of the common good? Maybe it is just the obscene American system of corporate control that needs to be completely dismantled if we the people are to achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

January 1, 2015

The greatest purveyor of violence in the world

GUEST: Josh Rubner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and former analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service, discusses his new book, “Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.” (prerecorded)

This is the first part of a talk given in December of 2014. Josh Rubner tells it like it is about the suffering in Gaza, and the US role in letting Israel get away with murder. 

Many things about our system upset me: its corruption, its greed, its materialism, its racist criminal justice system. But I have to admit, what bothers me most is my country's part in the slaughter of the Palestinians. To have our Congress vote to support the most recent attack on Gaza, while over 500 Palestinian children were being killed by US supplied weaponry will go down in history as a vivid example of how the empire lost its moral compass. There is no excuse for our government committing such heinous crimes. 

Granted, 500 children dying may just end up being a footnote in some history book. But the chapter will be on America's war crimes, from Korea to Vietnam, and continuing through the carnage the US has caused in the Middle East. What country will be publishing this history book, I do not know. Whether the human race will even have a history that extends that far is another open question. 

What I do know is that my country has been "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" for my generation. And like Martin Luther King, Jr and many before him, I grieve for what my homeland has become.