A captain ready to drive himself and all around him to ruin in the hunt for a white whale. It’s a well-known story, and over the years, mad Ahab in Herman Melville’s most famous novel, Moby-Dick, has been used as an exemplar of unhinged American power, most recently of George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. But what’s really frightening isn’t our Ahabs, the hawks who periodically want to bomb some poor country, be it Vietnam or Afghanistan, back to the Stone Age. The respectable types are the true “terror of our age,” as Noam Chomsky called them collectively nearly 50 years ago. The really scary characters are our soberest politicians, scholars, journalists, professionals and managers, men and women (though mostly men) who imagine themselves as morally serious...
by Greg Grandin on Melville's novella Benito Cereno (based on the sailing memoirs of Amasa Delano Chapter XVIII
) the differences in the political economy and whaling vs. sealing, and the origins of the American empire.
This that you call Ursus maritimus, this polar bear. This is a being who came from somewhere and is going somewhere. It's not locked in time. And that—the great resistance to Darwin is, I think, he told us that it's all moving. And it's headed in no particular place. And then particular physics comes along. And quantum mechanics come along. And these physicists tell us the same thing. "It's really fuzzy out there."
A few days ago, without much notice, PBS broadcast the final episode
of the Bill Moyers Journal
. Moyers devoted his final segment to an interview with essayist Barry Lopez
—whose writing, Moyers said, has "set the gold standard for all of us whose work it is to explain those things we don't understand." (Transcript.) [more inside]
Bill Moyers' discussion
with two expert analysts of health care, Trudy Lieberman, director of the health and medical reporting program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and Marcia Angell, senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Can You Spot a Lobbyist?
Who made up the bulk of the audience when Congress began work on health care reform legislation? Lobbyists, according to this photo ID-crowdsourcing project, part of Dollar Politics
, a new NPR investigative series. Bill Moyers shines some sunlight too, with Some Choice Words for 'The Select Few.'
Bill Moyers Interviews Former Cigna PR Chief Wendell Potter
Cigna's former head of Corporate Communications discusses about how Insurance companies have fought against public health care in the U.S, How wallstreet's demands drive up profits, how they do it, and why he quit. transcript
Bill Moyers interviews George Soros on the financial crisis.
Soros discusses market fundamentalism and the causes of the current crisis, as well as what can be done, and how this meltdown will change the global economy. (via The Big Picture) [more inside]
"The story of how high officials misled the country has been told. But they couldn't have done it on their own; they needed a compliant press, to pass on their propaganda as news and cheer them on."
Bill Moyers returned to PBS last night with this documentary
) examining the mainstream media's role in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq.
The Plantation Mentality
The veteran broadcast journalist Bill Moyers spoke on Friday before 3,500 at the opening of the National Conference on Media Reform in Memphis. He announced his return to the airwaves and outlined his vision of media reform. "As ownership gets more and more concentrated, fewer and fewer independent sources of information have survived in the marketplace; and those few significant alternatives that do survive, such as PBS and NPR, are under growing financial and political pressure to reduce critical news content and to shift their focus in a mainstream direction, which means being more attentive to establishment views than to the bleak realities of powerlessness that shape the lives of ordinary people."
Bill Moyers: Theocrats and ideologues in charge of US government.
Moyers: For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad, but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
Republican environmental politics as usual?
While the president's policies seem to be standard for his party, Bill Moyers thinks there's more than meets the eye. On receiving Harvard medical school's Global Environment Citizen Award, Moyers posits that destruction of the environment isn't just good for big business, it's a self fulfilling prophecy of the apocalypse. Not just any old apocalypse, it's The Rapture
, complete with plagues for the non-believers and immmediate ascension to the right hand of God Himself for the righteous.
Two days after Moyer's speech, Science magazine looks at the scientific consensus on global warming
. If you're having a hard time explaining all this to your kids, don't worry, your tax dollars are hard at work
"If Tom Delay is acting out of his Born Again Christian
convictions in pushing legislation that disadvantages the poor every time he opens his mouth, I'm not saying he's not a Born Again Christian, but as a the Lord's humble fruit inspector, it sure looks suspicious to me. " - Bill Moyers interviews Joe Hough.
"Our nation can no more survive as half democracy and half oligarchy than it could survive 'half slave and half free'"
(alternative non-PDF link
). "Understanding the real interests and deep opinions of the American people is the first thing. And what are those? That a Social Security card is not a private portfolio statement but a membership ticket in a society where we all contribute to a common treasury so that none need face the indignities of poverty in old age without that help. That tax evasion is not a form of conserving investment capital but a brazen abandonment of responsibility to the country. That income inequality is not a sign of freedom-of-opportunity at work, because if it persists and grows, then unless you believe that some people are naturally born to ride and some to wear saddles, it's a sign that opportunity is less than equal. That self-interest is a great motivator for production and progress, but is amoral unless contained within the framework of community. That the rich have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more homes, vacations, gadgets and gizmos, but they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else."
Bill Moyers "tends the flame of democracy."