It is not feasible to treat the American public as if they were intelligence analysts being trained in a classroom to acknowledge and overcome their mindsets. Probably no one has ever won an election in the United States by telling citizens how ignorant or biased they are.

—Paul Pillar, Why America Misunderstands the World, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 166.

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This afternoon I am wondering what Teilhard de Chardin would think about Donald Trump.

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It’s 2017

It’s 2017, and questioning the recent report on Russia hacking the DNC has in the last couple days gotten me told by an old history teacher friend that I’m taking Trump’s position, told by someone I don’t know on Facebook “if you believe that Putin is so pure, there’s nothing stopping you from moving to Russia.”

I’m pondering that statement this morning. It’s 2017, and questioning the veracity of US intelligence prompts the suggestion that I can move to Russia. So much of my hair is white now. It’s a cool, gray morning here. The sky turning from gray to blue, quiet morning sounds bring back memories of GE’s Re-entry Division, Rockwell International, SAC, the Pentagon, the Nevada Test Site, ignorant angry Americans, men and women of various ages telling me I can go to Russia.

I’m enjoying Paul Pillar’s Why America Misunderstands the World. Pillar’s analysis of the historical factors behind American exceptionalism seems to me accurate.

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Stop the Bombing

I am in Vietnam–who will console me?
I am terrified of bombs, of cold wet leaves and bamboo splinters in my feet, of a bullet cracking through the trees, across the world, killing me–there is a bullet in my brain, behind my eyes, so that all I see is pain
I am in vietnam–who will console me?
from the sixoclock news, from the headlines lurking on the street, between the angry love songs on the radio, from the frightened hawks and angry doves I meet a war I will not fight is killing me-
I am in vietnam, who will console me?

A framed print of this poster hung in my living room when I was growing up. I am thinking of Corita Kent this evening. I am thinking of Daniel Berrigan, Denise Levertov, e.e. cummings, and Robert Lowell. My thought does not take the form of 140 character packets.

Why, at a meeting earlier today to plan anti-Trump inaugural activities, could organizers not write a leaflet with coherent sentences?

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The American Prism

Hartz noted in the mid-1950s that the distinctive American ethos he described can lead to either messianism or isolationism, with a tendency to oscillate between the two. “An absolute national morality,” he wrote, “is inspired either to withdraw from ‘alien’ things or to transform them: it cannot live in comfort constantly by their side.”

—Paul Pillar, Why America Misunderstands the World, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 16.

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I Know Kung Fu

BBC today:

In two tweets issued on Wednesday morning New York time, Mr Trump said: “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.

“They used to have a great friend in the US, but… not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”

In revisiting various science fiction dystopias I last night rewatched The Matrix. As with Equilibrium, The Matrix shows resistance as being quite physical, with quite a bit of running and shooting. In reality power is contested much less kinetically.

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CIA New Hire Orientation

He began by telling us how fortunate we were to be there; We were the cream of the crop, representing a mere 1 percent of all applicants. Then he said something that has stayed with me all these years later: “The greatest threat facing America today is the threat of Soviet Communism.” This was January 1990. The Berlin Wall had fallen the previous November.

—John Kiriakou, The Reluctant Spy, (New York: Bantam Books, 2009), 23.

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America at War with Itself

Resistance is no longer simply an option. The promise of shared rule has been eclipsed and given way to the promise of a large stock portfolio for some and the despair and anxiety of facing daily the challenge of simply trying to survive for hundreds of millions more. One consequence is that a market economy expands into a market society, making it easier to normalize the notion that capitalism and everyday life are inseparable. As authoritarian power becomes more concentrated, it pushes democracy into a twilight existence where corporate domination and militarization become more menacing, and where organized and collective resistance become an urgent necessity.

—Henry Giroux, America at War with Itself, (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2017), 134.

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Thought Crime

A man in France was sentenced to two years in prison this week for repeatedly visiting pro-ISIS websites, even though there is no indication that he planned to stage a terrorist attack.

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