Examining a cynical, fake-patriotic Facebook meme

Instead of making yourself a tool for those whose agendas run counter to the best interests of the nation that flag represents, how about stepping back and asking  who’s playing you, and why?

This meme came across my Facebook feed earlier today.


Obviously somebody has an issue with Colin Kaepernick (and other black athletes) protesting injustice in America by refusing to stand during the national anthem. Continue reading “Examining a cynical, fake-patriotic Facebook meme”

Father of Muslim soldier’s message to DNC is powerful, but laced with manipulation and irony

Remind me – Khizr Khan’s son died in which war, again?

The headline and video couldn’t be much more compelling.

WATCH: Muslim Father Of Fallen Soldier Tells Trump ‘You Have Sacrificed Nothing’

The soldier’s father, Khizr Khan, could not be more right about Donald Trump, a narcissist of the first order, and maybe even a sociopath, who has spent his life serving nothing but his own insatiable, infantile id. Continue reading “Father of Muslim soldier’s message to DNC is powerful, but laced with manipulation and irony”

Security vs privacy: RadioLab and the case for the surveillance state

Homeland Security PrecrimeWe all love freedom and the Constitution. But is it really that simple?

I’m a huge fan of a good debate. And by “debate” I don’t mean the sort of ginned-up scream-lie-and-spinfests we have come to associate with the term in the past few decades. No, I mean spirited, intelligent, thoughtful exchanges between parties with honest, good-faith disagreements. Lucky me, I tripped across one today.

My new friend – the lovely Christine – recently turned me onto RadioLab, and I’ve been streaming some of their podcasts while I work out. Today I listened to one that’s as fascinating as it is disturbing. It’s called “Eye in the Sky,” and if you’re plotting any crimes I suggest you give it a few minutes of your time before you pull the trigger, so to speak. Continue reading “Security vs privacy: RadioLab and the case for the surveillance state”

How can we best honor our fallen heroes on Memorial Day?

Honoring those who died in service doesn’t mean forgiving those who put them in harm’s way.

Today America honors its war dead, those who gave their lives in the service of freedom – not only ours, but in many cases they died to save innocent people in far-flung corners of the globe. This isn’t idle rhetoric, either. Ponder what the world might have been like had the Allies lost World War II.

Unfortunately, in recent years I have grown more cynical about “freedom” and those who died for it. Continue reading “How can we best honor our fallen heroes on Memorial Day?”

Celebrating Memorial Day in an age of military aggression

The best way to honor our fallen heroes is to make sure there aren’t any more of them.

Today I honor our war dead, but I’m mad as hell that our leaders, corrupt and sociopathic as they so often are, have killed so many without cause. I’m enraged that some of these deaths are regarded by our society as less worthy of honor than others. And I’m livid with the certain knowledge that plans are afoot, even as we celebrate this holiday, to send more young men and women off to die in dishonorable, even criminal actions.

Perhaps we will keep this in mind as we enter election season, which will be rife with scoundrels wrapped in flags, scoundrels whose idea of honor and patriotism is sending other people’s children off to die in service to corrupt financial or bigoted religious agendas.

Continue reading “Celebrating Memorial Day in an age of military aggression”

Honoring the men who made Memorial Day possible

Today is Memorial Day, the annual holiday where we pay tribute to those who gave their lives in service to their country.

As always, not enough attention is focused on the men who made those ultimate sacrifices possible. for example:

  • William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, whose baldfaced lies propaganda brand of yellow journalism sucked the US into the Spanish-American War.
  • “Give ‘Em Hell” Harry Truman, who decided that the best way to contain China and/or the Soviets was to get involved in Korea.
  • John F. Kennedy, who reviewed the American experience in Korea and concluded that it worked so well we should take the same show on the road to Vietnam.
  • Lyndon Johnson, who inherited Kennedy’s unsuited deuce/seven and saw an opportunity to go all-in.
  • Bush the First, who realized te importance of protecting democracy in Kuwait.
  • Bush the Second and his minions Rumsfeld, Powell and Cheney, who cocked up whatever “evidence” was necessary to get our brave young future Memorial Day honorees into Iraq where they could put an end to all those WMDs and snuff out al Qaeda, which was in Pakistan, which is in Iraq.

Continue reading “Honoring the men who made Memorial Day possible”

Obama’s expanding crimes against our civil liberties: what if he’s right?

Much has been said and written about Mr. Obama’s distressing record on civil liberties. Many have gone so far as to argue that he’s worse than his predecessor, that he has assumed powers that are strictly forbidden by the Constitution, that he has begun acting more like a king than a president. These critics have a mountain of objective data from which to draw in making their case.

My mind never stops challenging, though, and this morning I woke up in a contrary mood. I find myself asking a simple what if: what if President Obama is, in fact, doing the right thing? What if his routine abrogations of the law are necessary? I’m not arguing that this is the case, but the question seems worth considering. Continue reading “Obama’s expanding crimes against our civil liberties: what if he’s right?”

Nature publishes instructions on how to make a Frankenstein monster

My doctoral dissertation addressed what I called the “Frankenstein Complex.” So guess why this story bothers me.

Today, a scientific journal published a study that some people thought might never be made public at all.

The paper describes experiments that suggest just a few genetic changes could potentially make a bird flu virus capable of becoming contagious in humans, and causing a dangerous pandemic. Continue reading “Nature publishes instructions on how to make a Frankenstein monster”

Obama is talking the talk. Must be campaign season…

Yesterday, on Facebook, one of my friends posted a graphic of the president and this recent quote, which is making the rounds:

I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare…

And today, over at the Great Orange Satan, msblucow has an interesting poll up aimed at gauging how likely voters are to support Obama’s reelection bid in 2012. More to the point, why they are likely to vote for him (or not)? If you click through to the poll, there’s a series of questions that asks if the president’s actions on a series of issues make you more likely to vote for him, less likely, undecided, or do his actions and policies have no effect. Continue reading “Obama is talking the talk. Must be campaign season…”

The lesson that bin Laden learned from Reagan

There is a particular narrative about Ronald Reagan and the end of the Cold War that has always struck me as compelling. I bought the argument at the time and I think I still do, to some extent, even though I’m hardly a Reagan fan.

The story goes like this: Reagan was able to finally win the Cold War and drive a stake through the heart of the Evil Empire because he realized that the Soviet economy was already badly overextended trying to prop up the war machine. All he had to do was accelerate the arms race, dramatically increasing military spending (while also amping up the sabre-rattling rhetoric) and that would force the Russkis to bankrupt themselves trying to compete. Continue reading “The lesson that bin Laden learned from Reagan”

DJ Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 27 – a song you think would be an effective instrument of torture

It seems that America now officially believes in torture as a primary tool of investigation. And back in 2008, I did a little story on how, believe it or not, we are using music as an implement of torture. So I suppose today’s challenge has a dark side, huh?

Mercifully for those suspected terrorists in captivity, DJ EIT (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) lacks imagination (although, +1 for the “Barney Theme Song” and Meow Mix jingle). Still, nothing at all from the Disco era? Continue reading “DJ Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 27 – a song you think would be an effective instrument of torture”

Memorial Day weekend: open thread

Memorial Day at Arlington National CemeteryIt’s Memorial Day weekend. As we honor our fallen, let’s also reflect on the larger question of war and on the reasons these dead heroes are too often asked to give up their lives.

S&R invites our readers to offer their own favorite poems of war and memory. Or stories. Or personal recollections. Whatever.

I’ll start. This one, from Yehuda Amichai, isn’t about America, but I think the message probably resonates for all of us.

Memorial Day For The War Dead

Memorial day for the war dead. Continue reading “Memorial Day weekend: open thread”

A simple country boy’s solution to the budget “crisis”

Some conservatives see all these fact-laden critiques of our various GOP manufactroversies (see Ryan, Paul) and wonder where are the Democratic plans to solve the financial crisis? (I have been asked this, quite vehemently, myself.)

The informed reply goes something like this:

  1. The crisis isn’t real. It’s been fabricated by the neo-liberal politicians whose goal is to eliminate all taxes on rich people and bust structures like unions that afford the non-hyper-wealthy with some leverage in the American political economy. It. Isn’t. Real.
  2. You’re blaming the wrong people. Continue reading “A simple country boy’s solution to the budget “crisis””

30-Day Song Challenge, day 11: a song by my favorite band

I know that there’s no such thing as a band that everybody likes, and I’m fine with the idea that some people can’t stand my favorite band, U2. I don’t always understand the objections, but so what. I am puzzled when people flat-out misunderstand fairly obvious poses, like Bono’s Macphisto or The Fly characters, which were explicit Pop Star parodies aimed at the vapid, corrupt nature of the modern entertainment complex. “Oh, look, Bono has bought his own hype!” Ummm, no, Bono is offering a critique of the hype, which you’d know if you’d pay closer attention. What, you think “IT’S YOUR WORLD YOU CAN CHARGE IT” is a typo? Continue reading “30-Day Song Challenge, day 11: a song by my favorite band”