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Jun 3, 2023·edited Jun 3, 2023

One of the lies that apologists for empire like to tell us is that the American Empire may be brutal, unjust, self-serving and arbitrary, but that only thr Empire can keep peace.

This lie was blown up when China got the Saudis and Iranians to make peace, while the United States Department of State seethed with rage.

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The pieces that really go up my tail lately, leaving out the domestic ones, are the ones in the likes of the Guardian -

"The world still needs a policeman. Let’s hope the US doesn’t quit the job"

https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2023/mar/26/us-world-policeman-american-isolationism

"The moment has arrived: Biden must give Ukraine all it needs to win"

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/may/28/the-moment-has-arrived-biden-must-give-ukraine-all-it-needs-to-win

Get absolutely fucked up, down, and sideways. Don't tell us what to do. With our tax dollars. Add an extended, prolonged rant here about our slimeballs in government who encourage this anyway and put us in this position.

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The election of Obama did more to neuter the antiwar movement than anything Dick Cheney could have done, not even if he were made Maximum Leader And President For Life.

Once Obama took office and failed to end any wars, not to mention started a bunch more, pointing this out was a criticism of St. Barack and therefore doubleplus wrongthink.

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And yet, i saw more criticism from odd places back in the day than i do about Ukraine. The Atlantic, of all rags, for one, did a pretty harsh critical series. Charles Blow, of all people, was also very critical. Crickets on Ukraine though.

Maybe one difference was that Terror Tuesdays were supposed to be kind of on the down low until it got out. Ukraine couldn't be on the DL obviously, so it had to do the freedom fries with us or against us thing again. Which requires propaganda and a large population of dumbfucks to swallow it whole.

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Fun fact that i remembered and just googled to make sure - Dianne Feinstein was one responsible for viewing the footage from Obama's drone strikes. I think i'd welcome Alzheimer's if it was my job.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/02/13/171904178/sen-feinstein-says-intelligence-committee-reviews-drone-attacks

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Lord Obama killed little children with his beloved Hellfire's on just his third day in office, and then he never stopped doing it. He never stopped smiling either.

Our leaders are genuine psychopaths.

"Daniel Hale, a former intelligence analyst in the drone program for the Air Force who as a private contractor in 2013 leaked some 17 classified documents about drone strikes to the press, was sentenced on Tuesday to 45 months in prison.

The documents, published by The Intercept on Oct. 15, 2015, exposed that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. For one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The civilian dead, usually innocent bystanders, were routinely classified as "enemies killed in action.""

https://www.salon.com/2021/07/27/the-price-of-conscience-drone-warfare-whistleblower-gets-45-months-in-prison/

"Mr Bryant says he reached his breaking point with the US military after killing a child in Afghanistan that his superiors told him was “a dog.” Mr Bryant recalls the moment: After firing a Hellfire missile at a building containing his target, he saw a child exit the building just as the missile struck. When he alerted his superiors about the situation after reviewing the tape, he was told “it was a f***ing dog, drop it.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-military-drone-nazis-brandon-bryant-a9324011.html

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Jeebus wept.

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As divided as Americans arenon idpol, the Uniparty tolerates no dissent from empire.

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Thinking about it more, the election of Trump really threw a scare into the MSM.

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Not all of them. As documented by Matt Taibbi himself, on occasion.

This one is from before the 2016 election.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/25/yes-donald-trump-has-been-good-for-the-media-business/

IIRC, both Moonves (CBS) and Zucker (CNN) openly stated that they loved Trump because he was good for ratings.

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I have always thought Obama's first staff meeting in office was when his Secret Service guy pulled out his service pistol and put it to Bari's temple and he was told how things worked.

Barack would have fun, play with some drones so he could get his bloodlust out and then retire with a big ass credit card and a nice, well guarded house along with a job narrating stuff on Netflix. He just needed to keep his mouth shut.

"You get to make the speeches and we get to make things happen. Are we clear?"

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Every winning candidate since arguably Bush 1.0 (“Kinder, gentler America”) has run for office as a non-interventionist, and then morphed into John McCain immediately upon taking the Oath of Office. Not only that, but each president has arguably been a more reckless imperialist than his predecessor.

I don’t pretend to know how the process works, or even if it is the same for every president, but the results speak for themselves.

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The late great Bill Hicks, had a theory about that.

https://youtu.be/B8IvKx0c19w

Me, I think that no one can get within 2000 kilometres of the Oval Office unless they are proven, tested, psychopaths.

*Zelenskyy ran on a Minsk, peace with Russia platform, but he was never in charge.

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I've heard the theory.

I suspect without evidence that the process is more like "Yes, Minister".

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Thank you.

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I guess the last guy wasn't a 'real' president cause he busted your truth.

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The only reason we didn't get a hot war with Iran was because of Iranian forebearance.

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He tried to coup Maduro. He told the Nato vassal states that they needed to double their contribution. He tore up the INF Treaty.

The list goes on.

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Possibly they get there and realise they have no power. They act according to script. The machinery of empire

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Nah. They know the score. They tell the people what they want to hear in order to get votes, then continue with The Program once in office. This is their role.

My earliest big political memory is Johnson winning in a landslide as the peace candidate. Surely he knew what the deal was. Heck, he was President already.

"They told me if I voted for Goldwater we'd get into a war. They were right. I voted for Goldwater and that's what happened."

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That's the basic plot of "Yes, Minister" in a nutshell.

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Obama was all for everything. He needed no incentives. Obama was built from the ground up to take ultimate power on behalf of the MIC and the Deep State.

Obama was the "Candidate from Langley".

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Obama didn't need to be shown the 'other angle' of the Zapruder film. He was a "company man" from the get-go.

https://covertactionmagazine.com/2021/10/01/a-company-family-the-untold-history-of-obama-and-the-cia/

IMO, only Trump was elected president without long-term grooming by the security/surveillance state, even though he did have ties to the old guard. In Obama's case they had the perfect "Manchurian Candidate" because of his previous ties to faux-left CIA cut-outs and proximity to deep cover assets.

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The "resistance" to the war ON Vietnam was almost entirely predicated on the fear of being drafted.

Once the draft was gone, the so called "Anti-war" movement petered out.

America is perpetually at war and has been since it's inception.

But yes, for sure, Obama made killing babies from space cool again.

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founding

It also divided the nation. My husband, a carpenter, was a draftee to VN and there during the Tet offensive. For all his too short life members of the anti-war movement--mostly those w/ student deferments or draft board derferments-- wore their anti-war cred on their sleeves, but it really was about the draft. The draft boards picked and chose and were very local in deferring those who were called up who had the right connections or student status to avoid the draft.

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Well, that isn't 100% the case. I took part myself in a massive anti-war march prior to BushCheney's illegal invasion of Iraq. At another one (or series of them) in San Francisco and Berkeley I think they arrested 2,000 people in a week or something like that.

Ditching the draft - in practice, anyway since Selective Service was only ruled unconstitutional in 2019 - did a lot to disincentivize anti-war protests, but so did several other things. One has been the gradual criminalization of dissent through harsh anti-protest laws, "free speech zones" and brutal police crackdowns. Or surveillance, infiltration and neutering of the dissident groups. Another has been an increase in secrecy and the use of drone warfare. And of course yet another is the AUMF under which American Presidents can simply take unilateral military action and tell the public about it after the fact. The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, consolidation of media and what amounts to domestic neoliberal austerity/anti-welfare politics make it such that most people don't even know what's going on and when they do, they can't afford to take a day off work to attend a protest. To wit: We're fucked.

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And now they're talking about Biden throwing a Hail Mary and bringing Obama on as his VP instead of Kamala. LOL

https://themessenger.com/opinion/bidens-2024-hail-mary-name-barack-obama-as-his-running-mate

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Man, the Guardian has taken a sharp turn to the Right lately, no? It was weird when they printed all that bullshit about Jeremy Corbyn when it seemed like he might actually take some power, but now they don't even try and hide their authoritarian bent.

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The sick joke of it is they still think that they're "the left". Which of course parallels the state of our politics.

Think about it though, they were basically right back when Tony Blair was PM and threw in with Bush. And you had Peter Mandelson saying that New Labour was intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich.

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Whatever MI5 told The Graun must have really put the fear of God into them.

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Yes. It really started to go downhill fast after the Snowden affair.

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They threaten, they blackmail, or they bribe.

Works (almost) every time. And the few that holdout get Corbyned or Watered.

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Usually, it's not necessary to go that far.

"Yes, Minister" and Noam Chomsky's takedown of Andrew Marr are all most instructive examples.

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The Corbyn era really unmasked a lot of the media for me. It was nasty. Now Starmer is almost Stalinist in his authoritarian control of who gets to stand for election. Imagine the media panic and outrage if manufacturing consent suddenly appeared on the best seller list.

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Maybe you missed the footage of the UK storm troopers, I mean police, smashing The Guardian’s hard drives? That scene didn’t make it into Laura Poitras’s film since Luke Harding kept it and showed it himself, which was how I saw it. It was hit level shocking.

Probably sent a message they understood. I read it rarely theses days, but at least there are a couple of thoughtful columnists from time to time.

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The "funny" thing is that the whole hard drive exercise was purely performative. The MI5 knew damn well that once information makes it into the digital 'wild' there is no containing it, just intimidating people from discussing it.

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I’m not sure those headlines indicate a turn to the right as much as a turn to the insane.

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Jun 3, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

After the British government urged and oversaw The Guardian's destruction of the hard drives that contained the Snowden revelations, even though the NYT had the same info, the website appears to have transformed into the handmaiden of the establishment and its security services, with management occupying a seat on the UK’s Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee aka D-Notice Committee, which issues "advisory" publication notices to media called D-notices.

https://declassifieduk.org/how-the-uk-security-services-neutralised-the-countrys-leading-liberal-newspaper/

Under Kath Viner, who succeeded Rusbridger, the paper has been much less critical of the spooks, with hagiographic coverage of security chiefs. Its vaunted investigative team is no more. It has also attacked Corbyn, Assange, and has moved heavily into identity issues, the go-to distraction from serious news these days.

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It was obvious when that all happened. Same in the USA, where even fringe media like Democracy Now!, Truthdig, and The Intercept were subverted. The only feeble opposition remains in outlets that are entirely reader supported.

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Rusbridger resisted, and after he was gone so was the old Graun. Shame.

https://youtu.be/bSnNvKnbzYg

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"Yes, there may be a global nuclear war, but at least "PTUIN!" will never hack another US election!"- a True Believer

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“Biden must,” opines The Guardian. That is why there is an OffGuardian plus MediaLens.

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It's not just the Graun that is always demanding the someone "must" do something. Or what, they'll scweam and sthamp their feet?

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And potentially peace in Yemen, which has suffered maybe as much as Ukraine, but barely covered by Western media.

Also the US trying to make countries whose economies rely on trade with China to ruin themselves by ceasing trading with China.

Sanctions always hurt the people more than they hurt the regimes.

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Sanctions always strengthen the targeted government. They are really just an anti-competitive subsidy for US business. The Nordstreem pipeline bombing is a perfect example.

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The sanctions always seem to be for going against US interests, then the western media spins this as being about human rights, as if the US who have for a long time allied with authoritarian dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and many others besides, as well as engaging with their own human rights abuses. They can't take the moral high ground any where while they persecute journalists like Assange and bolster tyrants when it suits their geopolitical and economic agenda.

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Sanctions go against the interests of the average Western person, in favor of the interests of Wall Street. Just like everything else They do.

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Same with war, tax the people to boost shares for the weapons manufacturers. So people getting super rich off war and working tax payers getting hit with inflation and stagnant wages. As George Carlin used to say, it's a club, and you ain't in it.

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ruining themselves "In the short term". But agree that a criminally run country should not be forced to forgo its relationship with its future overlord (China) because a criminally run country (US) says so.

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I've never encountered that apology. It's always spreading freedom and democracy, with a side order of well-intentioned mistakes.

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I've heard it many times, usually as a fallback from the Eagle Flag Freedom talk.

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You mean in private conversation? I had in mind media.

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Someone else I think provided some media examples. I've also seen them.

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founding

To mangle Leibniz, the best of all possible empires.

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Jun 3, 2023·edited Jun 3, 2023

A poster below reminded me of one of the most insightful things I've ever seen in a Hollywood production. Delivered, of course, in the Alan Metter masterpiece 'Back to School,' starring Rodney Dangerfield (and a very young Robert Downey, Jr.) Why, you ask, is this movie a masterpiece?

Simply this: there is a subplot where Thornton Melon, Dangerfield's wealthy salt-of-the-earth, plus-size suit chain owner hires Kurt Vonnegut to write an analysis of Kurt Vonnegut fiction. Melon is failed by his professor on the assignment because 'whoever wrote this paper knowns nothing about Kurt Vonnegut.'

It was the harbinger of the academic/government/entertainment nexus that we know today. Any deviation from orthodoxy is clearly fraudulent. Mediocrity is the safest course, because the alternative is cancellation. Being noticed is a terrible risk.

Ironically, Kurt Vonnegut would have an awful lot to say about today's unholy academic/government/entertainment partnership.

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Alfred Hitchcock’s granddaughter was once assigned to write an essay on Hitchcock. The teacher didn’t know who her family was. She asked her grandfather to help her write it. She got a ”C-“.

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Back in the 50s I believe, there was a contest with a prize for anyone who could, "Explain the theory of relativity", in 5000 words or less. So of course someone asked Einstein if he would be entering? To which he replied, "I don't think that I could do it."

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Musician Emilie Autumn found her Wikipedia page all wrong. Her corrections were knocked back. So she got her fans to bomb the page with corrections. Even that didn't work.

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founding

Don't know this person. But my exp. with Wikipedia is that they will flag "new" editors in situations like this. Her fans would count as new editors.

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Al Czervik, Monty Capuletti and Thornton Melon all voted Trump.

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"I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries – the realists of a larger reality."

—Ursula K. Le Guin, Portland Monthly, 2014

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Yes, wasn't that in her acceptance speech for some writing award late in life? I know I quoted it in an early episode. Oh, The Utopian Imagination on Naomi Klein: "In Russell Brand's interview, Naomi asks "What does the world look like after we win?" She states that we need a vision, a revival of the utopian imagination. I talk about the arrogance of hopelessness, and propose AA groups for activists addicted to it. We need to find our people, who take seriously that we will win and develop pragmatic visions. I quote Ursula K. LeGuin's speech that "Hard times are coming ... We'll need writers who can remember freedom." I suggest that our utopia-planning committee fall madly in love with each other and rigorously challenge ideas while adoring the person--something for which Russell's viewers are perfect."

https://youtu.be/BTxuuSnRrZI

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I loved your discussion of The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. I listened to this last night. Ursula KLG is my favorite science fiction writer and my book has a dedication to her, along with Eduardo Galleano, Anthony Bourdain, Howard Zinn and David Graeber "who imagined the future and illuminated the past by the bright lights of (extra)ordinary people." I told her once that I'd tried to name a daughter after her but the damn sea witch had hijacked the name.

https://www.amazon.com/How-Dismantle-Empire-2020-Vision/dp/1733347607

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founding

Always liked Graeber, too bad he passed away prematurely.

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Yes, my book is based on his Debt: the First 5000 Years in the anthropology of money, and I also use his views on restructuring the economy and anarchy in my final section on the decentralized system I've developed. His posthumous book with David Wengrow on The Dawn of Everything is another tome that changes everything, particularly the view of patriarchy as the way things have always been.

Now we include women as "honorary men" as Ursula called them or patriarchs without penises as I call Hilary, Nuland and their ilk. Here are two episodes I've done on their book: https://thirdparadigm.substack.com/p/when-mothers-ran-the-world

https://thirdparadigm.substack.com/p/muskrat-love-and-anarchy

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founding

Loved that book, Debt! Read it a couple of times.

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Wow! That's a long book to read twice but I've referred back to it so many times, it may add up to that too ;-)

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Congrats on actually writing a book, when most of us just talk. Hope it does well.

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Thanks for your kind words, Jan. It was eight years of research, writing, three major edits, trying to get a publisher. Then two more of learning In-Design to format for self-publishing, hiring illustrators and cartoonists, working with printers and bookstores.

When Russell Brand, on a group zoom, asked me to put in the chat how to get it, I said my question was whether I should put it on Amazon and dance with the devil, even though Amazon was everything it was against. He said, "Dance with the devil but don't go home with him."

There are some who refuse to buy it because of that and it's a real double-bind. You need to also become your own international distributor to be 'pure'. So it's trickling out in the 2 yrs it's been there but it's a real joy to talk to people from Australia, Japan, Nigeria and all over the US about my ideas. Hopefully the pennies I've made Bezos will be counteracted by preventing his wealth from controlling our labor and resources ;-)

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Do you read Michael Hudson? It looks like your research/writing would dovetail with his.

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I love Michael Hudson! That's very perceptive of you to pick up on how my ideas correlate with his. The third section of my book is called World on FIRE for his Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector. I apply his research in several places especially for why debt should always be denominated in the borrower's currency. He and Pepe Escobar are doing great work on Russia and Ukraine, which I talk about in episodes like: https://thirdparadigm.substack.com/p/ukranian-peace-and-us-petropocalypse and https://thirdparadigm.substack.com/p/putin-peace-petrodollar-pain.

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Nice. I'll check out some of your videos when I have the chance. I must be an anomaly these days because I prefer print to video, but everyone else seems to really like the latter. I suppose all the better if you can reach more people.

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Thank you, Mango. I think you're in good company, especially on Substack. I started doing YT two years ago, responding to Russell Brand's Luminary interviews. US Petropocalypse was one of the first I put on Substack, with barely a blurb on it, and it blew up! I don't know if Substack promoted it somewhere or people were hungry for info on the petrodollar and Ukraine. In any case, I felt foolish that I'd written hardly anything when most of the 6000+ never watched the video. Although it did get me 200 subs, most of whom may be disappointed that I haven't covered that topic since. Now I make sure to include text, if not a full transcript. Sometimes I write first and then read or paraphrase, especially with extensive quotes. But whichever one I do second feels more stilted. And yes, I don't monetize but my objective is to get my ideas to enough people that they gain some traction, as we're looking for what to do while this system collapses.

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This story & dialog broke my heart. Seems that's what truth does: breaks our hearts open and re-minds us. I want to live on the line between the yin/yang: man, it's thin and wavy. (Haven't figured that out yet.) Literature seems a prism to wisdom, something the news of the world rarely reveals. It usually lands like more noise, evidence of the rot. Drawing the parallels between literature & current events, as Matt & Walter have chosen, is an extraordinary opportunity. Deeply grateful.

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I must say again how much we appreciate having a written version of your words. We absorb each form of communication in unique ways. A more complete understanding occurs when we experience both.

Thank you again Matt & Walter

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I believe the majority of humanity (60%?) does not believe the misery of others is a price to pay for their own comfort, and they make choices and changes when they are able, while also supporting and protecting themselves, their families and communities. The remainder of humanity seem to believe life is a zero-sum game. I'll go with the former.

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You are typing this on a phone or laptop made with exploited child labor, so you actually do believe that the misery of others is an acceptable price to "support and protect yourself". The only difference is the other 60% of humanity is honest about it.

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You have no idea, nor do I, if child labor was used to make my phone or laptop. To take one part of this, the battery, there is child labor used in the cobalt mines of the DRC but cobalt is also mined in the US and Canada. There's no misery of others that I would tolerate in order to buy stuff. Then there's the investigative journalists and others who use laptops and phones to expose misery. Should they quit trying to make a better world because KateLE has pointed her finger of judgment?

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I appreciate you further exemplifying my point.

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People like you are in the "misery loves company" crowd and I find those kind love attacking others in order to present yourselves as morally superior. I guess this is a way to alleviate guilt for the bad choices one makes. Like Robin DiAngelo and her attack on (white) people. She talks about her own racism and then magically goes on to extrapolate her racism to others with pale skin. Misery loves company.

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"People like you", huh? Okay, here goes: You posted a comment specifically pointing a finger of judgment at 40% of the country (most of whom you presumably don't know), then complain about the pointing of a finger of judgment when it is turned back around towards you. In the process of pointing your finger of judgment, you pat yourself so hard on the back that I fear for the bruising you surely suffered. It is comedy gold to then complain about someone else attacking others in order to present themselves as morally superior (you know... the very thing you yourself are doing).

"There's no misery of others that I would tolerate in order to buy stuff.". Again, if you use any electronics; wear any clothing that you have not grown, harvested and weaved yourself; drive a vehicle produced after 1980, or basically engage in the modern economy in any way at all, then you are specifically tolerating the misery of others in order to buy stuff.

Admittedly, I'm weird, but yes I do think that pretending I am not a part of the whole mechanism because that would give me the sads is a morally inferior position to admitting my hypocrisy out loud. Misery clearly does not love company, otherwise we would not hide it away so that we can be shocked! shocked! that such things happen to such a moral person as a good upstanding member of the 60%.

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That was supposed to be 40%

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Jun 3, 2023·edited Jun 4, 2023

Wow. Listening to the last 20 minutes or so of your discussion was...therapy. You both said several things that so perfectly describe the work culture of the Federal Government (how the mediocre end up in charge, for example) it's as though you've been at my meetings and reading my work emails. Walter's bit about constantly having to show our tokens of enthusiasm was particularly reverberant: right now, it's the culture wars--everyone is to display pronouns, consider race at all times in all interactions, apply equity (spread it like peanut butter, maybe) to every action taken, and so on. During the last administration, it was to show enthusiasm for "energy dominance," "loyalty to the flag," and other rah-rah slogans.

The pressure for all Federal civilian employees to hold the political views of the party in power seemed to start in the post 9/11 rally against terrorism when if you didn't, in your heart, support every policy that came out from 2001 to about 2005, you were "letting the terrorists win." It used to be possible to stay quiet and let the political stuff blow by like the weather, though. Now things are getting weird. The pressure to demonstrate adherence to the correct values is constant. To remain silent is to risk being accused of not "engaging," "being a team player," or some other wrongthinking sin. As a result, the government workforce is more and more comprised of people who don't spend much time thinking about whether or how their personal views align with what they are told to believe. It's much easier to just adopt the views that are provided. People are pronouning like their lives depend on it. Your tax dollars at work.

Anyway. I love this podcast, I really enjoy your discussions, literary references, and insights. I look forward to many more, as I wait for the drone strike...

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Always appreciate the incisive and witty interchange between you two. “Those who Walk Away” an interesting choice, particularly as you apply it to our current political landscape. Walter’s comment about Comey’s new detective novel very funny, humor being one of the things seemingly in short supply in Omelas (maybe reason enough to exit the place).

I used to teach this story to my high school English class to haunting effect and illuminating discussion. I’ve read it myself many times, and the after effect changes, because the moral stance is complicated by the clarity of the absolute nature of the child’s misery. Walking away changes nothing in her condition. Staying to oppose it is not an option the story offers. (btw the child in the story is always referred to as “it”). So, like Melville’s “Bartleby” it becomes not a story about changing things for the better, but saying “NO” to what is.

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Since you taught this story, maybe you can explain one thing to me. How is that the child looks six but is actually 10 if time passes? I realize I may reading it too literally...

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Not sure, but think the detail suggests that the child is stunted by neglect and near starvation. And that its condition of being a child will never be outgrown, which is essential to the story and our profound sense of the injustice.

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Not only is the child 10 but looks six, this child must be this way for as long as Omelas is a place to walk away from. The child is a metaphor.

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“Is universal harmony worth the tears of one tortured child?” Dostoevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov”. I guess we have always known the answer, but this is such a high bar for the humankind.

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If all the literature lovers would read 'The Brothers Karamazov' I think the whole world vibe would rise.

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It's next on my TBR.

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founding

It was the first book I re-read on COVID lockdowns and I agree with you.

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Anyone reading "Enemy Literature", goes on a watch list.

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How do they know what we're reading?

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You just told them.

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I know. I have a small bag packed with essentials in case they knock on my door at night to take me away.

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Thank you both for doing these very important literature discussions. And than you both again for giving us these transcripts.

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Thank you for the great discussion of a fascinating short story. I had the pleasure of being seated next to Ursula at a sci-fi convention dinner many years ago. Wonderful woman. Ursula, as was the habit of my dear mother, transported the remaining dinner rolls into her purse!

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That is hilarious. Most of us have stashed rolls in our purse. Haha!

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I had a student in one of my 11th grade English classes last year who was obsessed with this story. Interestingly, he was a kid who very rarely did any work in class, ADHD, lots of attendance issues. A fun kid to talk to, but passing very few classes. He turned in what was supposed to be a personal essay, but it was just a rewrite of Omelas. I told him, I know that story, that's an amazing story, but can you write something more original? This wasn't the assignment. He tried to incorporate his own ideas, make it more like an essay, but in the end I think he really just wanted to share that story because it hit him so hard. I think he wanted to be one of the ones who walk away. Maybe part of that was not buying into the whole "success" model of education. Not sure what happened with him, but he was certainly not on track to graduate. Who knows? Maybe he walked away.

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He sounds like he might have been on the Autism spectrum.

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Almost certainly. He was getting help from the Special Ed department as well. As I said, really nice kid. He may have pulled it together this year. I don't teach there anymore, so I really have no idea. I was just struck by the reference to the Omelas story, which I've loved for a very long time. I don't think it was ever officially part of the curriculum, but I shared it with students looking for a certain type of story during the 33 years I taught English. These days, I'd be reticent to offer something that potentially triggering to any student. Many of them know suffering all too well, or they feel intense anxiety over the suffering of others.

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Yes, I have a son on the spectrum so know all too well what you're talking about.

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I have two nieces on the spectrum, both adults now. Blessings to you -- many challenges, but also rewards.

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Once upon a LONG time ago, I'd read all of Le Guin's books written up to that date, and found her to be one of the more-compelling scifi writers. The article/discussion uses one of her stories as a launching point for discussion, and it's worth reading and thinking about.

To me, the point of the discussion/article (not necessarily the point of Le Guin's story, but the article) is to demonstrate the lost art of having an intelligent discussion about a book or story.

I don't necessarily agree with the discussion that the two writers are having in this article as much as I agree that there is this need to demonstrate HOW to have a discussion in a world where interpersonal communication has been reduced to blasting off a few sentences in a "comment section," whereupon others either absolve you or condemn you via a sort of galloping, impromptu Spanish Inquisition.

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Child sacrifice is as old as humanity, as old as the natural instinct among the majority of people to protect rather than sacrifice children. It has been done always and everywhere for religious, cultural and economic reasons. I think that this child is actually a long-suffering god, Jesus or perhaps Prometheus. There seems to be an element of magical thinking in child sacrifice, that if we sacrifice that which is most precious to us that we will be rewarded with an unknown something that is even more precious. Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac just to prove that God is always right despite the apparent contradictions between His promises and his commands. Agamemnon sacrificed Iphigenia in order to appease the goddess Athena and get permission to launch the senseless and brutal Trojan War. There is an ancient Jewish saying that to save one life is to save the world. I think that that is what those who walk away are trying to do, perhaps at the same time hoping that others will follow and in the end the deed will finally be done.

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She wrote a bunch of stuff, but I’ve only read Left Hand of Darkness and Lavinia. All good. By the way, her parents were both anthropologists, so she grew up in that atmosphere. A very sad story is the one about Ishi, the last survivor of a California Indian tribe. Somehow academics ended up with custody of Ishi, who eventually pined away for his people. Le Guin’s parents were the academics in charge.

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The story of Ishi was written by Theodora Kroeber, wife of Alfred, Ursula's father. Ishi was a brilliant book and in no way diminishes the tragedy of a tribe's immolation. It was a clear-eyed look at consequences and humanity. One of my favorite books of Le Guin's is The dispossessed, another story of an attempt at a superior social organization. It is now a decrepit paperback copy, but I hang onto it, even so. She also wrote a post-apopcalyptic story about a woman who gathered up books and preserved them for those people who were left and who, she knew, would need them. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the name of that one?

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Very interesting, Dave, I didn't know that history. LHD might be my favorite book. I often refer to the character Estraven's comments about borders and how can you say you love this landscape but not the one over this imaginary line? I use one of his speeches (although that might be the most valid use of the pronoun 'their') as an introductory quote to my book:

"I never had a gift but one, to know when the great wheel gives to a touch, to know and act ... A great delight it was to feel that certainty again, to know that I could steer my fortune and the world's chance like a bobsled down the steep, dangerous hour."

That's what I'm trying to prepare for--the time when the great wheel gives to a touch.

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I think you'll like Lavinia, especially if you're familiar with the Aeneid (and of course the Iliad). There is a story that Le Guin learned Latin in her old age so she could read it in Virgil's original language.

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Since Ursula is the only author with a dedicated shelf in my library, I was able to go right to it. I remember reading it before but I might read it again since last night I came up dry on any new sci-fi I wanted to read. I barely avoided The Karma of Untruthfulness by Rudolf Steiner, which I'm slogging through. As a fellow sci-fi aficionado, any suggestions?

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Actually, not a sci-fi aficionado! Most of what I read of sci-fi is old and out of date, I'm afraid.

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Great sci-fi is never out-of-date! :)

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