Prime-Time, Fantasy Unity-Time DNC Puts Disney to Shame

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

(from the BernieSanders FB site on the Monday of the DNC in Philly)
I hear and share the disappointment of many here. Yet I understand that the solid, seriousness of the programs discussed by Bernie in his national campaigns & rallies, about education, healthcare, banks, prison, TPP and more, ARE important for the future of this nation and indeed the world. That these issues are rebutted or glossed over by the Machine-DNC is galling at best.

— Their campaign is based upon fear of Trump and intimidation, but not of the vision and courage to make our democracy work for us all, as it COULD and SHOULD.Berners At Convention

— While Trump clearly is the Beacon for Bigots, this Elite-driven DNC represents the cold, calculating lengths to which our corporate oligarchy is willing to go to maintain THEIR control over the Power Structures of the Nation and to marginalize America’s People from any process of governance.

— They could, in a flash, nominate Bernie, roundly defeating Trump, their declared nemesis and bringing new millions of people into the process. But for those heartless vultures, Bernie is the UNDECLARED nemesis they set out to destroy … and basically DID.

—Then they BLAME the Victims (an old Dem favorite Game): don’t yell, don’t complain, don’t boo, don’t be disrespectful, don’t leave the party … etc. It is a childish playground bully mentality that is reflected SQUARELY in our current foreign policy. We do what we WANT to do to whomever we name or blame, … then cry: “Do not complain, do not fight back, resistance is futile”, etc. — OR, we’ll attack you, drone you, steal your election … whatever.

— You SEE, WE too … are treated … as Enemies if we seek fairness, economic justice, participation, … democracy. That’s how they have treated the Sanders movement: as enemies. There is a war on democracy in the USA, and Dems do their part, when not pretending that it does not exist.

— So all their sweet staged words do NOT compensate. We are their enemy, they thus are ours … or at least enemies of democracy, fairness, decency, and our Constitution … and of their OWN Rules, to be honest. Their “superdelegates” (Supermen?) are REQUIRED to vote for Sanders who is the most likely to win, but they will NOT.

— I, for one will NOT sleep with the enemy.

Robert Jensen’s reflections on Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Thanksgiving Anxieties, Political and Personal — the holiday taken with a grain or two of salt.

In his op-ed piece below, Robert Jensen, journalism professor from Austin, wonders: “Don’t many of us feel just a bit uncomfortable with a holiday that is defined by obligatory family gatherings that often cover up unresolved strife and/or apathy; thoughtless overeating simply because so much food is available; spectacle sports that have become painfully close to Roman gladiator contests; and relentless consumption that often involves buying stuff that many people don’t really want and no one really needs?”


Thanksgiving Anxieties, Political and Personal

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
By Robert Jensen, a Truthout Op-Ed

“Are you the guy who hates Thanksgiving?”

The man posing that question on my voicemail continued with a sharply critical comment about one of the essays I have written in recent years about the holocaust-denial that is at the heart of that U.S. holiday. My first reaction was not to argue but to amend: “I don’t hate Thanksgiving—I just think it’s appropriate to critique a celebration that obscures the reality of the European conquest of the Americas.”

That description is accurate, at one level—my rejection of Thanksgiving is more intellectual than emotional, a political decision to reject that distortion of history. Whatever the actual details of the 1621 celebration involving Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians (and there is ongoing debate about various factual claims), Thanksgiving is one way the dominant culture minimizes or denies the larger historical context of Europeans’ genocidal campaign against indigenous people to acquire the land base of the United States. Without that genocide, there is no United States. For the victors’ descendants to take a day off to give thanks without acknowledging that seems, well, just a bit sociopathic.

I have taken several cracks at making this case, from several different angles,

“No Thanks to Thanksgiving”

“Why We Shouldn’t Celebrate Thanksgiving”

“How I Stopped Hating Thanksgiving and Learned to Be Afraid”

“The Meaning of Thanksgiving”

and I continue to believe the argument is sound and that we should all take it seriously. Until we can tell the truth about our history, there is little hope for the future. But rather than restate that case, this year I’m thinking more about the questions raised by that one word, “hate.”

I recognize that my discomfort with Thanksgiving can’t be explained completely by a judgment based on an intellectual argument. I don’t hate Thanksgiving, in some irrational way, but it’s true that as an adult I have never really much enjoyed the holiday, even before I developed a clear political critique. Some of the sources of that discomfort are mundane: I’m a vegetarian who comes from a dysfunctional family, and I don’t care for football or shopping. So, a holiday identified with turkey and traveling home doesn’t have much to offer me. I get by just fine without the NFL, and the increasingly inescapable connection between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the pathological consumption cycle known as “Christmas shopping” makes me surly.

OK, so maybe I do hate Thanksgiving, but my critics should at least recognize there are some perfectly rational reasons behind the emotional reaction. As with most human responses, the intellectual and emotional elements are intertwined and hard to tease apart. If I can acknowledge that about my critique of Thanksgiving, it seems only fair that the staunch defenders of the holiday do the same. Is not the intense defense of Thanksgiving also in some ways an emotional reaction?

And, if those of us on different sides of the Thanksgiving divide can recognize the complexity of our reactions, can we consider whether there are any shared values before concentrating on disagreements? I feel alienated from the dominant culture on Thanksgiving, not because I dislike the idea of gathering with others to give thanks but because of both the larger political context (about which I recognize my critics and I disagree) and an increasingly numbed culture (about which my critics and I may find common concerns).

In other words: Don’t many of us feel just a bit uncomfortable with a holiday that is defined by obligatory family gatherings that often cover up unresolved strife and/or apathy; thoughtless overeating simply because so much food is available; spectacle sports that have become painfully close to Roman gladiator contests; and relentless consumption that often involves buying stuff that many people don’t really want and no one really needs? Of course not everyone in the United States has access to all these markers of affluence, but these Thanksgiving Day routines are more the norm than aberration.

These reflections are not confined to one day; we live in this corrosive culture 365 days a year. For me, much of what is considered “normal” in the United States isn’t very appealing. I think we eat too much cheap food, are spectators to too much cheap entertainment, and buy too much stuff (some of it cheap and some expensive, but all costly to the larger living world). And many people struggle with family dynamics that are stuck in unresolved pathologies which quietly coerce people into ignoring problems for the sake of family “harmony.”

I have long felt that at the heart of Thanksgiving is a denial of reality and an exercise in numbing ourselves, individually and as a culture. I am not claiming that everyone’s celebration of Thanksgiving is defined by these negatives; individual experiences vary widely, of course. But the alienation I’m describing is not hard to understand, and not limited to a few surly people on the margins.

And whatever one’s personal relationship to the holiday, the political question remains: Why is it “normal” in the United States to celebrate a holiday that is based on a profound distortion of history? That kind of inquiry should lead us to related questions.

— Why is it “normal” to embrace the hierarchy and wealth inequality of corporate capitalism, even though most of us claim to hold moral and/or theological principles that are rooted in the centrality of human dignity, equality, and solidarity? How compatible is capitalism with the values that are essential to a decent human community?

— Why is it “normal” to assert that we are the world’s most advanced democracy, without acknowledging that the concentration of wealth in the U.S. economy has left most of the population outside of the formal political process? Are capitalism and democracy compatible?

— Why is it “normal” to express concern about environmental issues without ever questioning an economic system that is obsessed with the very growth that is undermining the integrity of the ecosystems on which are own lives depend? Is capitalism compatible with a sustainable human presence on the planet?

I do not believe there are simple answers to those political questions but I’m pretty sure they are relevant questions, and I can’t imagine dealing honestly with the steadily mounting problems of social injustice and ecological unsustainability unless we face such questions. I’m also pretty sure that my personal reaction to Thanksgiving raises relevant questions about our family relationships and culture that also demand an honest accounting.

And I am absolutely certain that in both political and personal arenas, denial is an impediment to meaningful progress. If we can’t deal honestly with these problems, it’s unlikely that we will have much to give thanks for in the years to come.


Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue (City Lights, 2013); and We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out.

A Nation of Faith

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

It’s the Twin Towers All Over Again.

We must be blessed to have such prescient beings holding power in our nation. For the all-knowing people who have made recent major decisions, have not had to show or prove anything before acting in our names with our resources. Truly this is a nation of faith.

Within days of the calamity of September 11, this government announced that it knew who had perpetrated the event. It gave an ultimatum to the Taliban government in Afghanistan to turn over members of Al Qaeda they deemed culpable, or the US would put together an military force to remove them from power.  Within weeks the US government did amass that force and did take over the nation of Afghanistan as their response to the disaster that took nearly 3,000 lives.

Many say the warnings for this event were numerous and clear, but ignored. Nonetheless, the Bush Administration acted boldly with energy to show the world we would not be toyed with.

Comes the new calamity of the credit system meltdown. Within days we had announced the necessary bold new plan to save the credibility of the markets. It was “time to act” we were told, not time to debate.

In neither case was there ever a proper or thorough investigation before dramatic and drastic actions costing the nation huge quantities of material and human resources.

This latest disaster arguably will ultimately result in the deaths of far more than 3,000 people. Starting this winter with heating payments, the loss of residences and the need to put aside medical expenses in favor or covering housing — any of these can and likely will prove disastrous to the least able among us.

With Katrina, there was a cause and effect involved in the pre-storm lack of repair to levees, and the post-storm lack of readiness and coordination that resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and the uprooting of families, the unparalleled loss of homes, heritage and history.

Again there was no proper investigation. No one blamed has ever been tried or brought to justice, nor remedies sought other than bluster or bravado.

There was no reason to believe in ANY of these cases that an adult human process had taken place to determine causes and mitigate the circumstances. Yet, at the direction of those in positions of power, billions have been spent to prop up broken systems and bruised egos, and ensure the continuity of basic inequity of wealth and power distribution in the nation and world.

It is time for us not to accept this masquerade of civilization, and to  investigate, remove, and punish those responsible for the growing list of of abuses of power and reason. As our current “2-party” system only collaborates with these smoke-and-mirror games, it is incumbent upon the citizens for their own survival to come together around new political structures that respect our Constitution, and empower the people’s — not the corporate — agendas.