Curated books, articles, documentaries, podcasts and other material from the current press and academia about American Delusions
If you are struggling to get your head around how racism works you will probably find it helpful to have a general framework as a guide. This one hour lecture from 2017 features an overview by Brown University Professor Tricia Rose of the structure of racism and how it works in the US (approx. 29 minutes). Then follows a case study by Samuel Rosen, senior researcher, How Structural Racism Works Project at Brown, of how —>> read more –>>
The May 21, 2020 Issue of the London Review of Books contains a review article, “The Corrupt Bargain” by Columbia U. Professor Eric Foner1. It is a wonderful review of the history of this peculiar institution, The Electoral College. In the midst of his survey of the history of the electoral college system he notes: A candidate can carry a dozen or so large states by small margins and capture the presidency while trailing far —>> read more –>>
Essay explores the grim reality of life in one small corner of America within the broader landscape of the bottom 90%.
Over 90% of plastic materials in consumer items and packaging end up in landfill dumps. Time for industry to take responsibility for their waste.
Recently Noted – challenging views of Justice Clarence Thomas – the intractable nature of white racismOctober 15, 2019
A challenging take on the state of racism in the US. Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson reviews books on Clarence Thomas and his views on countering intractable white racism.
The New Yorker published “Value Meal: Impossible Foods wants to save the world by inventing a better burger” by Tad Friend in the 9/30/2019 issue. During the introductory paragraphs the following statistic was cited: Every four pounds of beef you eat contributes to as much global warming as flying from New York to London—and the average American eats that much each month.
Recently Noted – Overthrow: 100 Years of US Meddling & Regime Change, from Iran to Nicaragua to Hawaii to CubaAugust 22, 2019
We’ve written quite a bit about the US Empire. A key component of this US foreign policy is regime change. Here is a list of the posts here on this topic. Recently Democracy Now! ran a 22 minute discussion of the history of US regime change actions over the last 100 years plus. It features discussion with Stephen Kinzer the author of many books on the history of American foreign policy.
The recent controversies surrounding Joe Biden’s anti- school busing collaborations with racist politicians from the south has for the moment aroused new comment on segregated America. The New York Times published an excellent review of the history of school desegregation by Nikole Hannah-Jones, “It Was Never About Busing: Court-ordered desegregation worked. But white racism made it hard to accept.” As the article notes the yellow school bus has been in use for almost a hundred years. —>> read more –>>
Recently Noted – Robert Reich: Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Rest – a new video presentation
Robert Reich provides us with an accessible, brief analysis of why the rich and corporations are feasting while the rest of us experience the rigors, oppression, and discipline of the capitalist marketplace. Only a bit over 4 minutes long.
It is not often that one can make a judgement that is nearly absolute in its accuracy. Most things in life are complicated, complicated by circumstance, money, class, family, just plain errors in judgement, execution, and on… But, when it comes to the American justice system you come face to face with a system that is a gigantic fraud. This is as close to an absolute truth as one is ever likely find in our —>> read more –>>
We have written earlier about the fact that effective legal representation and trial by jury is a rarity making one of our cultural icons a complete sham. As Jed Rakoff has noted: In actuality, our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight. The outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone. In 2013, while 8 percent of all federal criminal charges —>> read more –>>
- Why Innocent People Plead Guilty" by Jed Rakoff in New York Review of Books 11/20/2014 accessed 6/24/2017
Hudson NY and Its SWAT Team State St Hudson NY 6/12/2018 – photo by Lance Wheeler for Columbia-Greene Media. Even here in our little city of Hudson NY (population ~ 7,000) we have a police SWAT team, benignly referred to officially as the Columbia County Shared Services Team. There has been plenty of concern over its use here in the last couple of years, most recently in June of this year. The website CityLab has published —>> read more –>>
- https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/08/militarization-of-local-police-isnt-making-anyone-safer/568900/ accessed 09012018
- http://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2018/08/14/1805161115.full.pdf accessed 09012018
Reich’s latest cartoon does a good job of describing the changes in the US economy, weaker on the underlying political campaign by the rich and corporations to restructure the economy to their benefit. Worth the 6 minute viewing time.
At a time when the Republicans are transferring income and wealth to the rich and corporations over 40 million Americans fall below the official poverty line.
Inequality in wealth and income is a continuing global crisis. The World Inequality Report 2018 defines the problem based on wealth ownership and the transfer of public wealth into private hands. Their are solutions but they require political organization and will.
Cost of War – $5.6 trillion for US wars 2001-2017 The Watson Institute at Brown University has just released an updated report: United States Budgetary Costs of Post 9/11 Wars Through FY2018: A Summary of the $5.6 Trillion in Costs for the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Post 9/11 Veterans Care and Homeland Security by Neta C. Crawford. This report includes many war costs that the official Pentagon figure of $1.52 trillion leaves —>> read more –>>
- Department of Defense, “Estimated Cost to Each Taxpayer for the Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.” July 2017, http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2018/Section_1090_FY17_NDAA_Cost_ of_Wars_to_Per_Taxpayer July_2017.pdf
- page 32 of the Watson report
- Wikipedia provides an extensive, exhaustive even, list of estimates: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War
Corrective History The NYTimes posted a bit of Turkey Day corrective history: “Most Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong” By MAYA SALAM “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth,” from 1914, by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe borrowed from NYTimes Adaptive Turkeys The Trump pardoned two turkeys yesterday at the White House. But, no surprise for us here in Columbia County, wild turkeys are doing just fine. Once again the NYTimes, ever on spot for trending issues, has an article —>> read more –>>
The Prison Policy Initiative has released a new study “Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017”. In a pattern that is similar to the fate of men in our mass incarceration system that charades as justice, 60% of those in local jails are there because they cannot afford bail. 29% of these women held for lack of cash are charged with drug offenses.
The NY Times published an interesting article by Max Fisher and Josh Keller, “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer” on 11/7/2017. The analysis shows that there is a strong correlation between the high level of gun ownership and mass killings. No other factors are well correlated. Are you surprised? Read the article here >>>
Otto Budweiser beer delivery The shape of jobs in the US and around the world it’s changing rapidly. On 11/5/2017 NBC News reported: Self-driving trucks One year ago this week a truck rolled into history as it traveled from a Colorado brewing plant to a warehouse 120 miles away carrying 45,000 cans of Budweiser beer. The early morning run was done using a truck developed by a start-up called Otto, now an Uber subsidiary. Though there —>> read more –>>
The National Geographic has a running list of the Trump regime’s efforts to save the environment for capitalism. A Running List of How Trump Is Changing the Environment – “The Trump administration has promised vast changes to U.S. science and environmental policy—and we’re tracking them here as they happen.”
Capitalism, Monopoly, Oligopoly and John Oliver Capitalism does a number of things very well. Concentrating power, wealth and income is one of them. Though we naturally focus our attention on wealthy individuals, fat cats, tycoons, money bags, but corporations, the legal entities with personhood (at least in the US) are also recipients of this concentrating power. John Oliver in his HBO program “Last Week Tonight” took on monopoly and oligopoly. His focus on the airline —>> read more –>>
More evidence that today’s segregated America didn’t just happen out of individual choices and preferences. The 1930s redlining of neighborhoods by the Home Owners’ Loan Corp, a New Deal housing agency, has had long term effects of segregating people.
The US has the worst maternal mortality rate by far of any developed country in the world.
Ira Katznelson (see my earlier post “Affirmative Action for Whites – began in the 1930s”) wrote a brief opinion piece in the 8/13/2017 NYTimes, “Making Affirmative Action White Again” that encapsulates the real history of affirmative action for whites.
New Trump focus on race reminds us, “All of the liberal praise for civil rights has produced no results over these six decades excepting the ritualized celebration of African American History Month. This is so embedded in our calendar that even Trump issued another executive order announcing it.”
Recent NYTimes article broadly acknowledges what every other developed country has recognized for decades, healthcare is not a good candidate for market control.
A report about an amendment to the defense budget that would end the 2001 AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force) that has provided legal cover for more than forty military actions around the world without Congressional oversight, just the decisions of three Presidents.
Mirror, Mirror 2017:International Comparison Reflects Flaws and Opportunities for Better U.S. Health Care from Commonwealth Fund.
Capitalism is driven by a single internal logic that requires the transformation of people and nature into commodities to produce profits. This logic is amoral and the system, excepting for external controls by government and social institutions, just churns on.
from the New York Times an article that covers some earlier history of the US healthcare industry. How Did Health Care Get to Be Such a Mess? By CHRISTY FORD CHAPIN “The problem with American health care is not the care. It’s the insurance. Both parties have stumbled to enact comprehensive health care reform because they insist on patching up a rickety, malfunctioning model. The insurance company model drives up prices and fragments care. Rather than rejecting this —>> read more –>>
Companies must externalize as many costs as possible in free-market capitalism. Without adequate government protections you will end up with this kind of environment. from the New York Times: Nearly 14,000 Companies in China Violate Pollution Rules By EDWARD WONG “Environmental inspectors in northern China have found that nearly 14,000 companies, or 70 percent of the businesses they examined, failed to meet environmental standards for controlling air pollution, according to a state news agency report. The inspectors working —>> read more –>>
Giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations has been basic to every Republican since Hoover. President Reagan piled on with trickle-down economics. I wrote about it here: Trickle-Down Returns to Enrich the Rich. Now the great state of Kansas proves again the tax breaks do not generate more jobs or income excepting for the rich and corporations through their lower tax payments. It’s a great day: Kansas legislature pulls the plug on Gov. Brownback’s failed —>> read more –>>
An enormous entitlement in the tax code props up home prices — and overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy and the upper middle class.