There is something deeply weird about humanity. … This phrase does not refer to our skills with language or our use of tools or ability to change our environment, remarkable though these are. It refers to our astonishing degree of altruism: our kindness towards other members of our species. We possess an unparalleled sensitivity to the needs of others, a unique level of concern about their welfare, and a peerless ability to create moral norms that generalise and enforce these tendencies.
— George Monbiot. Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis
Democracy is under siege. Authoritarianism is on the rise. This is true, not only in America, but in the UK and other parts of Europe as well. Bills in the US Congress that are highly unpopular are passed by politicians who are equally so. The elected officials at the local and federal levels work for their donors, not for the people who elected them. How can this be happening? In the developed world? In the 21st century?
Dark Money is the inside story of how 400 of the richest people in America are putting their money to work to bend academia, the media, churches, and the courts to their self-interest. If you want to understand what is happening at the political — and to some degree, cultural — level in America today, you must read this book.
Jane Mayer’s deep research and lucid writing is the perfect companion to Nancy MacLean’s brilliant work, Democracy in Chains. While Democracy in Chains is about the philosophy and ideology that underlies the thinking of those on the far right, Dark Money is about the players, their money, and how they are propagating their narcissistic values and beliefs to change the face of America.
As it subtitle states, Democracy in Chains is a deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America. It is the utterly chilling story of the ideological origins of the single most powerful and least understood threat to democracy today: the attempt by the billionaire-backed radical right to undo democratic governance. … [they are on] a stealth bid to reverse-engineer all of America, at both the state and the national levels, back to the political economy and oligarchic governance of midcentury Virginia, minus the segregation.
Read this book if you want to understand what is happening in America today.
Last summer I had a Delta flight out of La Guardia bound for Detroit. It was a Saturday morning and the airport was swarming with passengers, the gate area for my flight was like a mosh pit. As we approached the time to board, a gate agent announced that the flight was oversold by seven passengers. An audible groan rippled through the waiting area as we all clutched our boarding passes and jockeyed further for position in the boarding process. This was not going to be easy.
The Delta / traveler negotiation process began when the agent offered the usual $400 travel voucher for anyone willing to take a later flight. In a delightful New York accent, a lady standing beside me smirked, “They’ll pay more.” Sure enough, moments later they announced that a $500 voucher was now available to any travelers with flexible travel plans. I smiled as I acknowledged the prophetic power of my fellow traveler. As my plans did not feel flexible, I gratefully made my way onto the plane.
After the plane was fully loaded, with the last few passengers jamming bags into the overhead bins, a voice rang out over the airplane announcement system that Delta still needed one more passenger to give up their seat. This time, however, they had upped the ante.
When you live in times of authoritarian rule one of the first things that end up in the cross hairs is culture. We believe firmly that artists and writers and dramatists and actors and musicians play a vital role in defending the integrity of who we are as human beings.
— Jeremy Scahill, on the Trump’s Cabinet of Killers and Why Orange is the New Anti-Black episode of The Intercepted.
I have never been more grateful for organizations like the ACLU and the plethora of lawyers we have in this country. Likewise, I am inspired by the power of our marches and protests as we stand up for our values. But, in addition to the direct tangible actions we can take, we also need a 100 million voices writing and singing and laughing and, in general, sounding our barbaric yawps over the roofs of the world.
“Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”
— Carl Sagan, astronomer and author (1934-1996)
I heard a reporter on a recent Economist podcast say that, in light of the growing UK economy, creating jobs is a good thing.
It seems to me that creating jobs is not only a good thing, creating jobs is the thing. What other purpose is there for an economy?
Here’s what I mean. An ‘economy’ is kind of a meta-thing that emerges whenever two or more people get together and decide that working together to meet everybody’s needs is more efficient than everyone trying to each meet 100% of their own needs (like, say, some kind of off-the-grid survivalist). Economies emerge in all kinds of places: prison economies, school-yard economies, national economies, global economies.
I just finished The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Wow. It’s easy to see why it won the Pulitzer Prize.
I was born in Canada, and have lived in Arizona, the Midwest, Colorado, New Mexico, Northern California, the UK, the Northeast, and now the South. It is the South that has been the most perplexing. This book has helped me understand not only the South, but the rest of the country as well. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was:
A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.
But there is another basic requirement, and I can’t understand now how I forgot it at the time…