Two for the Road — Other Voices

1 Jul

One fears that the rising tide of toxic politics precludes actually discussing real and serious problems. The people who are taking the maxim “the government that governs least is one that governs best” to a senseless extreme don’t (or can’t) explain how they would as private citizens or as a committee/mob solve a poisoned food supply or polluted waters. Trying to follow the jejune announcements and pretzel logic of what fills up the so called public conversation is itself an exhausting and diminishing task.

Finding evidence of thoughtful and humane commentary, out of what my friend Steve Schlow refers to as the information shit-stream, is almost a biological imperative. For those people who suffer or are at risk for suffering a kind of cognitional malnutrition, there are still some verbally-attuned people offering their thoughts to their afflicted fellow sentient beings.

Tom Englehardt (Mission Acomplished)who spearheads Tomddispatch regularly joins writers like Rebecca Solnit, Nick Turse and Andrew Bacevich) in analyzing and elucidating the perilous world around us. His recent bulletin “The Militarized Surrealism of Barack Obama Signs of the Great American Unraveling” strikes me as particularly lucid. And distressing:

If Obama framed his Afghan remarks in a rhetoric of militarized super-national surrealism, then what he had to say about the future of the war itself was deceptive in the extreme — not lies perhaps, but full falsehoods half told. Consider just the two most important of them: that his “surge” consisted only of 33,000 American troops and that “by next summer,” Americans are going to be so on the road to leaving Afghanistan that it isn’t funny.

Unfortunately, it just ain’t so…

… I know the president said, “Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.” And that was a foggy enough formulation that you might be forgiven for imagining more or less everything will be over “by 2014” — which, by the way, means not January 1st, but December 31st of that year.

If what we know of U.S. plans in Afghanistan plays out, however, December 31, 2014, will be the date for the departure of the last of the full Obama surge of 64,000 troops. In other words, almost five years after Obama entered office, more than 13 years after the Bush administration launched its invasion, we could find ourselves back to or just below something close to Bush-era troop levels…

Former Timesman Chris Hedges (The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress)is a little further down the rabbit hole making his critical take on America, it’s exceptionalism and imperialism more ardent His recent Truthdig column, Gone with The Papers offers a lucid view of the changing media landscape and its impact on community

We are losing a peculiar culture and an ethic. This loss is impoverishing our civil discourse and leaving us less and less connected to the city, the nation and the world around us. The death of newsprint represents the end of an era. And news gathering will not be replaced by the Internet

A democracy survives when its citizens have access to trustworthy and impartial sources of information, when it can discern lies from truth, when civic discourse is grounded in verifiable fact. And with the decimation of reporting these sources of information are disappearing. The increasing fusion of news and entertainment, the rise of a class of celebrity journalists on television who define reporting by their access to the famous and the powerful, the retreat by many readers into the ideological ghettos of the Internet and the ruthless drive by corporations to destroy the traditional news business are leaving us deaf, dumb and blind.

Englehardt and Hedges, two for the road.

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