Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bump and Gradgrind

Let's take a break from the trumped-up war on ISIS for a moment and turn our attention to the terror right here in America. Specifically, let's talk about the war on youth, and even more specifically, the war on poor students and unionized teachers.

Michelle Obama got one thing right at her "Reach Higher Prep Rally" in Atlanta the other day. She jokily referred to her traveling partner, neoliberal anti-union Education Secretary Arne Duncan, as her partner in crime.

What the Obama administration is doing to public education is indeed a crime: its cruel, billionaire-fueled Race to the Top-Common Core agenda is actually the antithesis of education. It's been called child abuse across the ideological spectrum. It's teaching children to un-think, to consume instead of to create, to compete instead of cooperating and caring for others.

To be fair, education in the age of Obama is only the latest variation on a classist theme as old as the oligarchy itself. It was the same scam in the last gilded age. Nearly a hundred years ago, British philosopher Bertrand Russell had capitalist education pegged as "the road to money, not the gateway to wisdom... a means of acquiring superiority over others; it is infected through and through with ruthlessness and glorification of social inequality."

Don't take my word for it. Let Mrs. Obama explain the goals of neoliberal education for herself... but only after her obligatory cool mom-in-chief (TM) dance routine, performed in a futile attempt to fire up her student audience:

Mrs. Obama: Well, I’m here today because all of that that I just mentioned -– all those tests, all the papers, the extracurricular activities –- here -- and I want you all to listen to this -- all of that stuff isn’t just important to get you through the day or even this year. Everything you are doing in school right now is critical to the rest of your life.
Study to the test, build up your college résumés through nonstop extracurricular activities, because the rest of your lives depends upon how well you can do the soul-killing Gradgrind. Getting enough sleep, kicking back once in a while, stopping to smell the roses, painting a picture, or reading just for fun? Not part of the neoliberal equation.
That’s why I’m here -- because I want you all to succeed. And I want you to understand how people like me go from being kids like you to standing here as First Lady of the United States. (Applause.) That’s my message to all of you and to all the students across the country who may be watching this today -- that your time in school is extremely important. And what you do here each and every day will set you up to achieve so many of the dreams that I know you have for yourselves in the years ahead.
Here's where Mrs. Obama departs from the pedantic Gradgrind teacher in Dickens's Hard Times and goes full Josiah Bounderby. That's the annoying up-by-the-bootstraps capitalist fraudster who inflicts guilt on a whole classroom full of inmates by incessantly bragging how, through sheer dint of grit and hard work, he rose up from the gutter to become rich and famous. He is such a "bully of humility" that at one point in the novel, his bloviating causes Gradgrind's daughter Louisa to literally pass out.

But, I digress... if you want to grow up to be Michelle Obama, here's what you need to do:
So first, the prep part. And one of the reasons why we’re here at Washington High is because you all already have a great head start. You have got teachers and counselors who are doing everything they can to help you get to college. Your school offers classes that give you college credit. And you’ve got access to special programs that will prepare you for careers in health sciences, business, finance.
Business and finance to serve the needs of Wall Street. Health sciences so that you may prolong the lives of Wall Street financiers, corporate CEOs and the rest of the .01% who possess more wealth than half the planetary population combined. Forget history, art for art's sake, theater, classic literature, the mental adventure and joy of learning. Those things will not help you succeed. Those things will only make you happy. Those things will only help you to think. And independent thought by the lower classes is anathema to CEOs and financiers. It makes their positions at the top of the teetering heap very, very tenuous.
So the first thing that you can do to prepare yourself for the future is to take advantage of all the resources that are right here for you. And to do that, you have to show up to school every day. Yes, attendance matters. You are not going to learn or get the support that you need if you’re not here. And then once you’re here, you have to completely commit to learning all that you can –- in other words, when you’re here, you have to challenge yourself. You just can’t -- you can’t be hanging out. You can’t just coast through. You can’t just take the easy classes. You’ve got to stretch yourself.
Since the students whom Mrs. Obama is addressing are mostly "of color" and from lower income families, there is that implicit racist assumption that all they want to do is have some fun, hang out, and skip class -- that is, when they are not taking easy-way-out classes like art or drama or music. It is an assumption that these kids need to be taught ethics and morals on a fairly continuous basis, lest they fall into the morass of critical thinking. Would the First Lady be talking this way to a group of students at the elite Chicago Lab School, or Phillips Andover Academy? Of course not. Nor, for that matter, would Nancy Reagan or Hillary Clinton ever have gotten away with scolding students at an all-Black school.

When rich kids "hang out," there is no price to pay. Minorities just normally have to work at least three times as hard as whites, because that's the way it's all set up. Michelle Obama never mentions changing the oppressive status quo -- she simply gives a "pragmatic" and  simpering pep-talk to the victims of the oppressive status quo. Don't ever dare challenge your oppressors as inherently unjust, kids. Just challenge yourselves. Work till you drop.
Because here’s the thing -- studies show that when you’re working hard and stretching yourself, when you’re struggling to solve a problem or read a book or write an essay, you’re actually making new connections in your brain. The brain is just like a muscle -- it needs exercise. And remember -- I want you all to remember, nobody is born smart. You become smart by thinking hard and challenging yourself. And that’s how you’re going to prepare your brain not just for college, but for the rest of the challenges that you’re going to face in life. And that doesn’t happen right away. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes planning -- and let me tell you, it takes a whole lot of courage. And I know this from my own experience.
OK. You knew the ubiquitous, guilt-inducing Personal Responsibility Profile in Courage was coming sooner or later: 
I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Neither of my parents went to college. But I set a goal for myself: I wanted to go to Princeton University. So I sketched out a plan to get there –- which classes I needed to take, when I needed to take my SATs, when I needed to apply for financial aid. And I worked incredibly hard to execute that plan.My school was halfway across the city, so I had to get up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning just to get to school, to study in the morning. Had to stay up late at night doing my homework because it took me forever to get home. And when I didn’t understand something, I had to drum up the courage to ask for help, and believe me, there was a lot I didn’t understand going to high school.
Studies show that adolescents who are chronically sleep-deprived are at high risk for mental, emotional and physical problems, both now and in later life. So if Michelle Obama isn't exaggerating when she brags about getting only a couple hours sleep at night in her teenage years as the price for an Ivy League education, it is no wonder that there was a lot she didn't understand in high school. The girl was exhausted and "stretched" to the breaking point! But I guess the health risks were well worth it. She's still here, after all, and looking pretty damned good. (thanks at least in part to servants, hairdressers and make-up artists on call 24/7.)
In other words, I had to take control of my education, had to set my own course for my future. And here’s the thing that I do know, which is why I am here and I’m not anywhere else in this country -- I am here because I know that every single one of you can do that, too. I know that. If I can do it, you can do it. There is absolutely no excuse. You are no better or no different than me. I didn’t have money growing up. I didn’t grow up in a nice neighborhood. But I am here.
Ah, the Bill Cosby/Oprah "no excuses" cudgel, the vapid noblesse oblige of helicoptering into Atlanta... when she could have gone to Detroit! But that would have been so awkward. A lot of those kids have had the water turned off in their homes because of their parents' inability to pay. And that would not go well with Mrs. Obama's corporate "DrinkUp!"(TM) campaign in conjunction with the bottled water industry.  She saved her high-priced water gig for a group of wealthy (and non-scolded) students at a private New York City school. Meanwhile, her Let's Move initiative is partnering up with an entrepreneur who invented a talking water fountain get people fired up (TM) as they slurp. Wish I were kidding. But I'm not. 

Let's to the gradgrind, though:
To the juniors and seniors, you all should be working hard to execute your plans. You should be studying for the SATs and ACTs. Let me tell you, my daughter, who is a junior, is studying for her tests right now. She studies every weekend, on the weekdays, in addition to her homework. I’m just telling you what one kid is doing, but I know that every kid in her school is doing the same thing. Got to fill out that FAFSA form, look for those scholarships and those grants that are out there just waiting for you. Got to start working on those college applications and essays starting now.
What utter bullshit. The Obama children will be accepted to the colleges of their choice, whatever their grades or test scores. The private school they attend does not teach to the test, nor even have class rankings. The Obama children are also traveling extensively, having fun, and do not spend all their waking hours grinding away like their mom. I guarantee it. There is no comparison between the Obama children and the students at Booker T. Washington. But the students at Booker T. Washington are supposed to feel something (guilt), knowing that the Obama children do their homework religiously even though it is not a prerequisite for their "success." The SATs are a for-profit, moral imperative when you are a child in America. To prove it, they've gotten rid of the creative and expository writing sections. Too hard, even for rich kids.
You’ve got to figure this stuff out. And the Internet is an incredibly useful resource. You can find all sorts of information online at websites like -- we’ll make sure your counselors have that information. -- if you haven’t heard of Khan Academy, it is a free, online educational resource, and they’ve created this new platform to help young people like many of you prepare for college. They’ve got all sorts of videos, checklists to help you plan your high school classes and activities; to search for schools that fit your needs; to fill out your college scholarships and applications. So thanks to websites like these, it’s easier than ever to before to take the steps to prepare yourself for the future.
Khan Academy, heavily subsidized by billionaire school privatization advocate Bill Gates, also aims to substitute online courses for living, breathing teachers. The Internet, even in homes where electricity is spotty, is such an incredible source! So what a nice, sneaky neoliberal shout-out by Michelle Obama. And don't even get me started on all the rip-off student loan predators out there, kept in business with the help of "partner in crime" Arne Duncan. A couple of examples of his perfidy are here and here.
MRS. OBAMA: But here’s the thing –- even if you’re working hard and doing everything right, there will still be times when things don’t go according to plan. That ever happen to you all?
 MRS. OBAMA: Stuff just doesn’t work out. Maybe something goes wrong in your family or with one of your friends. Maybe you don’t do as well as you wanted on the SATs or the ACTs. Maybe you fall behind in classes. And when things like that happen, it’s easy to get down on yourself. It’s tempting to just give up. But trust me, that’s just not the answer.
At this point in the speech, one of the human props standing behind Mrs. Obama gave in to gravity and suddenly crumpled to the floor in a dead faint. Exhaustion? Disgust? Hunger? Sleep deprivation? Humility-bullying victim? Named Louisa Gradgrind? Who knows. But the first lady was at the rescue with her reliably firm moral support:
She’s okay? It’s okay, that happens to a lot of people who have to stand up for a long time. We need one of our medics here. We’ve got a young girl who fainted. But it happens all the time. She’s going to be okay. Sometimes standing up -- if anybody is starting to feel tired standing up, bend your knees -- and eat your breakfast and lunch. (Laughter.) You okay? Make sure she’s okay, too, right here. Right here. Everybody else feeling okay?
Wow. Since when does fainting happen all the time? In the New Normal Serf Economy, I suppose it does. Mrs. Obama is right. A lot of these kids don't get enough to eat, given that a bipartisan cabal in Congress drastically cut food stamp funding last year. Maybe a trip to a Talking Water Fountain will knock some fear and sense and fullness into them! 

But whatever. Once the unfortunate optics of a crumpled-up heap of insensate human flesh were removed from Mrs. Obama's sight, she forged right ahead:
MRS. OBAMA: Are you all still fired up and ready to -- are you listening to me? STUDENTS: Yes!

 MRS. OBAMA: Do you hear what I’m telling you? STUDENTS: Yes!

MRS. OBAMA: Because I’m giving you some insights that a lot of rich kids all over the country -- they know this stuff, and I want you to know it, too. Because you have got to go and get your education. You’ve got to.
Oh, wow... not again. The kids are never allowed to forget where they come from, are they? They get condescendingly treated to the insider-y Secrets of the Rich, so that they too can aspire to become Rich on three hours of sleep a night, and lots and lots of Gradgrinding and Bounderbying. It's the dogma of Personal Responsibility... a dog-whistle to the racists and the plutocrats out there watching in TV land that these kids who have already showed up have to be further prodded, poked and guilt-tripped into working hard! Besides being a grind, you gotta have Grit and Determination. (TM) Plus, live up to the legacies of Booker T. and MLK! (the sanitized version of MLK, that is -- not the socialist part where he marched with striking sanitation workers, nor the pacifist anti-Vietnam war rhetoric part.)

I would be absolutely fired up if Michelle Obama suddenly snapped, developed some grit and determination of her own, and urged the adolescents of  America to help get the money out of politics, demand social and economic justice, march for civil rights instead of cramming for standardized tests, and question just why the hell it is that the post-Jim Crow social contract dictates they have to work so much harder than their more affluent peers, just to avoid being slammed into prison.

But that would take real Thought, leading to a social upheaval of epic proportions. Therefore, public education in the Age of Obama avoids the teaching of independent thinking like a plague of Ebola.

"Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin, more than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless to the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. It sees man, a feeble speck, surrounded by unfathomable depths of silence; yet it bears itself proudly, as unmoved as if it were lord of the universe. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.” -- Bertrand Russell.


David said...

"a dog-whistle to the racists and the plutocrats out there watching in TV land that these kids who have already showed up have to be further prodded, poked and guilt-tripped into working hard!"

I agree with everything you say here - but I fail to see the flaw in this. The truth is, the kids DO have to work hard - HARDER - than others. And unless they do, they have almost no hope.

Back to my agreements with you: I am part of a work that delivers some important experiences common to every kid in white suburban America but denied to almost every inner city minority kid. The work is transformative - and a significant percentage of them will escape the ghetto in which they have been imprisoned.

I joined this work because I *totally* agree with what you are saying - and this is one way that a few of us have found to do something about it.

(Other concerned folks: be creative!)

Pearl said...

I just sent in the following comment to the article 'Legacy of war"in the nytimes and already have l7 recommendations.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Albert Einstein

Jay - Ottawa said...

I have a dream. I hope it isn’t crazier than the Arne Duncan nightmare of stuffing students with information, its retention to be measured in tests.

What if these tired kids might be given a Jubilee Year, say, in the sophomore year of high school? A year without written homework, without tests, without grades.

Along with the research about teens’ sleeping needs, let’s schedule the first class in that year no earlier than 10:00AM. The only task for the students in that jubilee year is to read outside of class, come to class to think out loud about the assigned subject, and then to go and read some more.

Read what? For the sake of discussion, how about starting here?

…. “The Syntopicon (volumes 2-3 of the set) is an index of 100 fundamental concepts that built the Euromerican mind and cultural vision. To give you an idea, here is a sample of the Great Ideas: Art, Beauty, Cause, Chance, Democracy, Desire, Emotion, Eternity, Family, God, Good and Evil, Government, Habit, Happiness, History, Immortality, Infinity, Justice, Labor, Language, Life and Death, Love, Mathematics, Matter, Memory, Oligarchy, Progress, Prophecy, Quantity, Religion, Rhetoric, Sin, Soul, State, Time, Truth. War and Peace, Wisdom.... you get the idea: Big Ideas.” ….

Are big, boundless ideas too much for sophomores? (I put this question to anyone but the educationist administrator class.) Students might read up on a big idea alone or with a group and pursue it further by reading segments of classic works that form The Great Books Series. Discussions would follow in a classroom setting. Perhaps an essay or two during the year.

The federal government will be told to shift a big percentage of funds budgeted for computers to the purchase of old sets of the Great Books and other classics for school libraries, assuming there are still libraries and librarians in high schools.

Teachers would NOT come from the regular staff but from capable community volunteers for a class or two per year. The logistics of lining up discussion leaders from the community will be the only task we ask of the administrators. Others (not the educationist administrators) will pick the candidates to be asked to volunteer as a teacher for a topic within their expertise. In time, there will be a repertoire of knowledgeable volunteer/expert/thinkers to choose from.

What kind of volunteers? Aim high. Ask a Zephyr Teachout –– or some other available law professor –– to talk about Corruption or the Law, if that’s the topic students choose to think about for a while. Get a retired history professor to come in to guide a student discussion about, say, the attractive but suspect idea of Progress. Then a mathematician talking about mind-blowing concepts in his or her field, not formulas. A biologist talking about anything in his subject. Etc., etc. We mean to encourage the discussion of ideas, meaty subjects to lead students to think for themselves, alright, but in a more informed way thanks to their reading. I’m striving for the spirit of a storied French salon during the Age of the Enlightenment.

The above may be too idealistic, too old fashioned, too Western and too dependent on the old –– but not altogether discredited –– dead white males curriculum. So, adjust it. Now that we’ve been educated for decades by feminist scholars, we can add to the old canon those great books written by women. And then from authors from Latin America, Africa and the Far East.

To sleep, to dream, perhaps to think more deeply. That’s the challenge. And especially to read well about a few timeless topics during one whole jubilee year for which there is no test.

Denis Neville said...

Arne Duncan announced recently a new focus on special education:

“President Obama has said that we are stronger when America fields a full team. Unfortunately, too many of the 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities in this country leave high school without the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in a 21st century global economy. While the vast majority of students in special education do not have significant cognitive impairments that prohibit them from learning rigorous academic content, fewer than 10 percent of eighth graders with disabilities are proficient in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Too often, students’ educational opportunities are limited by low expectations. We must do better. That’s why the Department is changing the way it holds states accountable for the education of students with disabilities. We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel.”

So shift from monitoring state compliance with the Individual’s with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), examining procedural compliance, to looking at “outcomes” for 6.5 million students with disabilities, using Results-Driven Accountability - including participation in state curriculum assessments and data on reading and mathematics achievement for disabled students using the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Duncan will require proof from the states that kids with special needs are actually making academic progress. Tests will supply the proof. States that don’t comply with the new guidelines might lose federal funding.

Special ed kids competing and being successful in a 21st century, global economy?

More testing will help special education students?

“We don't need IEPs-- we need expectations and demands. We don't need student support and special education programs-- we need more testing. We don't need consideration for the individual child's needs-- we just need to demand that the child get up to speed, learn things, and most of all TAKE THE DAMN TESTS. Because then, and only then, will we be able to make all student disabilities simply disappear.” - Peter Greene, Curmudgucation

Has never-been-a-teacher Arne Duncan ever taught children with disabilities?

Duncan’s DOE’s 11.5 billion dollar commitment to special education in the country? With 6.5 million special education students eligible for services that amounts to an underwhelming $1,769 per student nationwide. The Council of Exceptional Children notes that in 40 years the federal government has never fulfilled its promise to fully fund IDEA.

There is a reason they are special education children, and that’s because they have a disability. That’s why they take special ed classes. Duncan’s solution? Make it harder for them to succeed? By raising expectations they will suddenly lose their disability and compete successfully in the 21st century global economy?

Reply from a veteran special education teacher:

“This is why so many special education teachers are quitting. I have taught students with severe intellectual and multiple disabilities for 20 years. I have always given my students opportunities to access a variety of challenging educational and life skill activities, but in reality some days I am just glad to see one of my student smile, hold their head up or reach out to grasp an object with their hand. I would challenge him to come spend a day in my classroom and then tell me that my students are just faking their level of abilities and that all they need are more challenging curriculum and testing. It is time for teachers to stand up for themselves and their students and say “let people who have actually taught students with disabilities make the laws that effect their education.”

Jay - Ottawa said...

“Here we go again.”

The article by Charles Blow on Obama’s stupids in reaction to ISIS is worth a read, as is Karen’s say now moving up to third place in the comments.

Denis Neville said...

@ Jay - Ottawa

On not doing stupid stuff...

Andrew Bacevich:

“Destroying what Obama calls the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant won’t create an effective and legitimate Iraqi state. It won’t restore the possibility of a democratic Egypt. It won’t dissuade Saudi Arabia from funding jihadists. It won’t pull Libya back from the brink of anarchy. It won’t end the Syrian civil war. It won’t bring peace and harmony to Somalia and Yemen. It won’t persuade the Taliban to lay down their arms in Afghanistan. It won’t end the perpetual crisis of Pakistan. It certainly won’t resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

All the military power in the world won’t solve those problems. Obama knows that. Yet he is allowing himself to be drawn back into the very war that he once correctly denounced as stupid and unnecessary — mostly because he and his advisers don’t know what else to do. Bombing has become his administration’s default option.

Rudderless and without a compass, the American ship of state continues to drift, guns blazing.”

“We don’t get it. We truly can’t imagine what it was like. We can’t imagine how dreadful, how terrifying war is—and how normal it becomes. Can’t understand, can’t imagine. That’s what every soldier, and every journalist and aid worker and independent observer who has put in time under fire and had the luck to elude the death that struck down others nearby, stubbornly feels. And they are right.”

“Is there an antidote to the perennial seductiveness of war? And is this a question a woman is more likely to pose than a man?” asked Susan Sontag, “Looking at War,” The New Yorker,

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Denis Neville:

Thanks for the quotations from Andrew Bacevich and Susan Sontag.

@Jay - Ottawa:

I think that your suggestion of an educational "Jubilee Year" for American high school students, where "The only task for the students in that jubilee year is to read outside of class, come to class to think out loud about the assigned subject, and then to go and read some more" is outstanding, as also is your tentative topic list. (I would, however, suggest that the junior year might be preferred over the sophomore one, for reasons of better academic and emotional maturity). There's no doubt that many students graduate from American high schools without the competencies to be engaged citizens of a properly-functioning democratic republic, let alone truly good human beings. Of course, you realize that many of the powers-that-be wouldn't want either of those things to occur, as they run counter to the current operation of our economy and politics.

My comment at the NYT on Charles Blow's "The Cost of War" column:

"It's difficult for the country to avoid a manipulated path to war when there is so much profit to be made in military conflict... when politicians' greatest fear is being labeled weak... when the mass-media mostly serves not as critic of but as partner in fear-mongering and nationalistic/exceptionalist chest-beating... and when too many citizens have the critical thinking abilities of a chamber pot, and almost seem to enjoy getting figuratively dumped into, periodically."

Jay - Ottawa said...

I saw your comment in the Times, Fred; it was picking up votes. The comments almost universally up to that point are in agreement with Charles Blow, although the Rimabots are there, as usual, pretending the WH has nothing to do with the dark side.

The comments at Sardonicky and other favored sites are also near unanimous in decrying Peace Prize Obama’s partiality to arms in the air, if not boots on the ground. And yet we’re going to war again. How come?

The polls at the trashy sites like Fox, MSNBC, CBS and CNN tell us most of the country is behind Obama’s move back into Iraq and now Syria too. Those polls are probably accurate, although it took much lying propaganda and fear mongering to bring the country that loses so many wars around to being gung-ho for one more war.

Iraq–––Sheep. Afghanistan––Sheep. 2008––Sheep. TARP and the other giveaways to banks and corporations––Sheep. The wipe out of OWS––Sheep. The mortgage fallout––Sheep. NSA revelations––Sheep. Surveillance everywhere––Sheep. Income disparity––Sheep. Carbon madness––Sheep. Syria––Sheep.

The activists are few; the sheep are many. Apathy is what Arne and his predecessors have been striving for for ages: Mission Accomplished.

The US populace is easily amused and distracted. It has lost its capacity to think for itself. No matter how much it’s prodded, it is incapable of revulsion and revolt.

Denis Neville said...

Is change on the horizon? Or, will it be the continued surrender to today's delusional fables of freedom and the politics of fear?

Dani Rodrik asks, “How do politicians who are unresponsive to the interests of the vast majority of their constituents get elected and, more important, re-elected, while doing the bidding mostly of the wealthiest individuals?”

“A politician who represents the interests primarily of economic elites has to find other means of appealing to the masses. Such an alternative is provided by the politics of nationalism, sectarianism, and identity – a politics based on cultural values and symbolism rather than bread-and-butter interests. When politics is waged on these grounds, elections are won by those who are most successful at “priming” our latent cultural and psychological markers, not those who best represent our interests.”

Case in point, Karen, in her response today to Krugman:

“Is the timing of the latest outbreak of war fever a coincidence, or what? Look over there, proles, ISIS is coming!! Pay no attention to Big Oil, Halliburton, the antisocial financiers pulling all the political strings behind the fascist curtain. We're told to be afraid of the atrocities over there in hopes that we'll ignore the real terror over here: the clear and present danger of plutocrats gone wild.”

Glen Ford, “Obama has put both Wall Street and U.S. imperial power on new and more aggressive tracks – just as he hired himself out to do.”

“From this country’s earliest tycoons to the latest batch of family capitalists, Steve Fraser finds one overwhelming, unifying trait: a deep-seated belief, in a country that worships self- or family-made money, that the more billions you have, the more you should be listened to. In his upcoming book, The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power, Fraser explores how, in our second (even more) gilded age, others with little money also came to believe that, rather than resist it.” - Tom Engelhardt, “Steve Fraser, The Return of the Titans,”

annenigma said...

Re: Polls

The corporate news media spews propaganda to their audience, then polls that same audience to see how effective their propaganda campaigns have been. Of course their audience would seem to support going after ISIS after all the fear mongering and hype, but to translate that to the rest of the public is absurd. It also ignores how these bombing campaigns MUSHROOM.

Personally, I think Obama has lost his mind. Bombing Syria without its consent? That's an Act of War and Russia will not stand for it. Obama is trying to add a notch to his belt, his very own war: WWIII.