Oliver Stone has the same gripe with Barack Obama as he did with George W. Bush—namely, they both stand for American Empire, and he does not.
Stone is a three-time Oscar winner, has made over 60 films, including “Platoon,” “Wall Street,” “JFK,” “Nixon,” and “W.”,and is generally regarded as one of the legends of his trade.
In his new book and Showtime series, The Untold History Of The United States (co-authored with Professor Peter Kuznick of American University), Stone highlights what he feels are neglected figures and choices in the American journey. In conversation, Oliver Stone is amiable, keeping an open mind to views that differ from his own, but never willing to back down when he thinks you are wrong.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with him at the Soho Grand hotel in New York, where we discussed his new book and series, the difference between Pro-Empire Liberals and Anti-Empire Liberals, uniting the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, which direction our nation will go over the next four years, sex scenes in “Nixon,”and whether Harry Truman was more like George W. Bush or Sarah Palin.
We have to be thankful to Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of our more theatrical solons, for dramatizing the way in which the Israel lobby intimidates members of Congress: by asking Chuck Hagel if he could name a single Senator who was so intimidated he merely underscored how thoroughly each and every one of them is cowed. The whole spectacle of this public interrogation, with its tiresomely repetitive demands for pledges of undying loyalty to Israel, brought home the truth of Hagel’s remark.
Of course Hagel couldn’tsay that, but the ugly reality resonated in the immense silence that followed this exchange. Interestingly, Hagel didn’t back down: He said “I don’t know.” As to what motivates any particular member of Congress on any specific “dumb thing” they do – well, he couldn’t know, could he? But of course, everybody knows about the Israel lobby: and if its power and vindictiveness were ever in danger of being forgotten, then surely the battle over Hagel’s confirmation has reminded us.
To anyone who lives outside the Washington bubble, there was something profoundly weird about the ritualistic invocations of undying loyalty to Israel, a country mentioned 135 times in the course of the hearing: Afghanistan only merited 27, while al Qaeda got 2 and Mali one. One would have thought Hagel had been nominated for Israeli Defense Minister instead of the top civilian in the Pentagon. As he faced the pro-Israel “inquisitors” – as Sen. Angus King put it – the educational value of this political drama was worth far more than all the books and articles one could possibly read.
The national security state has an annual budget of around $1 trillion. Of that huge pile of money, large amounts go to private companies the federal government awards contracts to. Some, like Lockheed Martin or Boeing, are household names, but many of the contractors fly just under the public’s radar. What follows are three companies you should know about (because some of them can learn a lot about you with their spy technologies).
Shakespeare’s Polonius offered this classic advice to his son: “neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Many of our nation’s Founding Fathers emphatically saw it otherwise. They often lived by the maxim: always a borrower, never a lender be. As tobacco and rice planters, slave traders, and merchants, as well as land and currency speculators, they depended upon long lines of credit to finance their livelihoods and splendid ways of life. So, too, in those days, did shopkeepers, tradesmen, artisans, and farmers, as well as casual laborers and sailors. Without debt, the seedlings of a commercial economy could never have grown to maturity.
Ben Franklin, however, was wary on the subject. “Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt” was his warning, and even now his cautionary words carry great moral weight. We worry about debt, yet we can’t live without it.
A few days ago, I heard Greg Gutfeld — a self-styled libertarian and host of Fox News’ Red Eye — grieve the “death of private property” in his comment on homeless people squatting in Bank of America-owned houses. As a free marketer, defender of private property, and a libertarian, I’m always offended, or at the very least peeved, at the predisposition of ostensible libertarians like Gutfeld to make common cause with the likes of Bank of America, member of “the brotherhood of thieves who prey upon labor.” Given many self-identified libertarians’ instinctive reactions about private property, the subject is observably susceptible to all of the difficulties that attend hazy definitions and even more confused applications of the definitions we actually have.
George Takei says there’s a not-so-secret mission — or two — behind the bitingly funny videos and Facebook updates which the “Star Trek” legend posts regularly to his 3.5 million Facebook followers, who grow by 40,000 per week.
“I think my new image as a comic observer of society happened as a result of a very serious mission I have,” he explained in an interview on my SiriusXM OutQ program this week, while also weighing in on Jodie Foster’s coming out; President Obama’s embrace of gay rights in his inaugural address; Arnold Scwharzenegger turning his back on the gay community; Tennessee Sen. Stacey “Don’t Say Gay” Campfield; and being an openly gay entertainer spearheading LGBT rights.
With a new book, “Oh Myyy! (There Goes the Internet),” and a musical headed to Broadway — “Allegiance,” which focuses on the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II — Takei, who became a regular on “The Howard Stern Show” in 2006, a year after he came out as gay, says all the attention is even more wonderful because it can serve a higher purpose.
WASHINGTON — For members of Congress from big cities, the West Coast and the Northeast, gun control has jumped to the top of the agenda. For those elected in red state America, the issue is regarded very differently.
That could cause Democrats big political problems, complicating the quest for new laws in Congress and perhaps threatening Democrats in the 2014 congressional elections.
Since American democracy is in the process of disintegrating, it might be worthwhile to reflect on the nature of the phenomenon, and the sources of its dialectical death. In 1982 the eminent French scholar, Pierre Manent, published a study of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the two volumes of which came out in 1835/40. Manent’s work was subsequently translated into English under the title Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy; Harvey Mansfield of Harvard University contributed a Foreword to it. Mansfield writes:
Democracy produces a sense of independence in its citizens, a sentiment that each is a whole because he depends on no one else; and the democratic dogma [sic] states that every citizen is competent to govern his own life. Hence democracy is not merely, perhaps not primarily, a form of government; or it is [a] form of government that almost denies the need for government. And as a society, democracy is antisocial; it severs individuals from one another by pronouncing each of them equally free. All the traditional relationships are broken or weakened….Above all, democracy does not know where it tends and where it should go.
The blurb on the back cover of the book states that “Pierre Manent’s analysis concludes that the growth of state power and the homogenization of society are two primary consequences of equalizing conditions.” We are, of course, living with these consequences nearly 180 years after Tocqueville’s first volume.
“The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas.” ~ Journalist Lewis Lapham
The pomp and circumstance of the presidential inauguration has died down. Members of Congress have taken their seats on Capitol Hill, and Barack Obama has reclaimed his seat in the White House. The circus of the presidential election has become a faint memory. The long months of debates, rallies, and political advertisements have slipped from our consciousness. Now we are left with the feeling that nothing has really changed, nor will it.
This is not by accident. The media circus leading up to the elections, the name calling in the halls of Congress, the vitriol and barbs traded back and forth among people who are supposed to be working together to improve the country, are all components of the game set up by those who run the show. The movers and shakers behind these engaging, but ultimately trite, political exercises are the elite, the so-called upper class, who benefit from the status quo. This status quo is marked by an economic crisis with no end in sight, by the slow but steady growth of a police state aimed at the lowest rungs of society, and a political circus which keeps us enraptured long enough that we don’t question what’s really going on.
Whenever I speak or write about California’s pension and public debt problems, I always hear from well-intentioned, conservative- and libertarian-minded people who want me to consider their solutions. Most of their ideas – caps on this kind of spending or that, changed pension formulas, public votes, etc. – are sensible enough, but they always miss the main point.
That is, they misunderstand the nature of government. They think that government is an institution that does all these necessary things and can therefore be reformed. But government is a vast force-based enterprise designed to take as much money from the public and give as much of it as possible to the clients of government. It’s a wealth transfer and any genuine services government provides can be done better, cheaper and more humanely in the private sector.
When it comes to pensions, there’s no technical problem. In about three seconds, I can craft a non-radical, extremely modest plan that ends unfunded pension liabilities. Starting tomorrow, public employees no longer receive defined-benefit plans and instead get a 401/k-style plan like typical private-sector serfs. What are they going to do, quit en masse and get private-sector jobs? I hear readers laughing now.
As someone who has typically placed themselves on the left of the anarchist movement, a common trend I have noticed emerging among my so-called “comrades” is that much of the left’s philosophy is becoming indistinguishable from the socially conservative movements that most anarchists have traditionally opposed.
Ironically, instead of being based upon infiltration by jingoistic traditionalism of the Neo-Conservative variety, anarchism’s descent into social conservatism is born of a preoccupation with social justice, and idealistic desires to eliminate anything and everything that is deemed to be “harmful”, “oppressive” or “anti-social” and could potentially interfere with the typical anarchist goal of a utopian society.
Totalitarian humanism is now the left’s equivalent of Neoconservatism.
The motives may indeed be different and the methods employed can often vary but the conclusions and consequences of this philosophical outlook can often be no different to those of Neoconservatism or any other conservative pro-state movement in terms of its ideas regarding how to approach controversial social issues such as pornography, prostitution, hard drugs and so forth. If put into practice, then the outcome would ultimately be the same: The imposition of moral values upon people who do not agree with them and have no desire to conform to a rigid ideal about how humans should behave.
Despite what they would like you to believe, feminists are not for “equality”, they are for the special interests of women specifically, while ignoring very real instances of inequalities against men. If feminists were truly a group oriented toward supporting equality for all, they would focus their message on the empowerment of personal accomplishment rather than trying to convince the world of the demonic, oppressive nature of men while engaging in selective brainwashing propaganda targeting not only men to degrade their accomplishments, but towards the women who are not feeling the imaginary sting of male dominance. Theirs is not a message of empowerment and equality, but rather of guilt, shame, and demands of respect without merit.
HONOLULU, January 26, 2013 ― With national optimism now at a historical all-time low since the Carter Administration, many are wondering whether or not America’s best days are behind us. Scarce employment opportunities and rapidly rising costs of food and energy have made life increasingly difficult for young and old alike.
For a perspective on the declining fortunes of America and what’s next for an entire generation of young persons looking for both work and a sense of self-value in the middle of the worst “recovery” in U.S. history, I sought out economist and author Aaron Clarey.
Clarey, famously known to fans as “Captain Capitalism” from his highly popular blog, believes that there are “serious structural economic problems with the U.S. economy” and has published a new book entitled Enjoy the Declinewhich tells readers how to brace for the coming time of trouble.When I asked Clarey if he thought there was a D.C. policy solution to this crisis, he told me that would involve serious reform to entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and constitutionally eliminating corporate taxes – a therapy seen by many contemporary legislators as so controversial that Clarey concedes “in other words, no, there’s no hope whatsoever.”
Leave it to enterprising Americans to always find a loophole in the midst of ever-expanding government regulation.
While thousands of Seattle residents lined up for hours to trade their handguns, rifles and family heirlooms away in exchange for up to $200 in gift cards as part of the city’s latest gun buyback program, gun collectors who have seen prices for assault rifles and firearms accessories almost triple since November took advantage of a huge opportunity. More…
In this edition of Attack the System, Keith Preston discusses the results and voting patterns of the 2012 Presidential Election. Keith’s analysis got lost in the shuffle at Counter-Currents, but despite the time throw, it is still well worth listening to.
Usually this is a derogatory term for those anarchists who are not deemed “thick” enough in their prescriptions for a stateless society.
It is becoming more and more accepted among anarchists that this is a bad thing and that mere opposition to the state is not sufficient to achieve true freedom or equality. The idea that humans must be radically remodelled to achieve statelessness is gaining prevalence. This blog exists to be a bulwark against this creeping moral tyranny.
For most anarchists, the motivation for seeking statelessness is the recognition that most value systems are undecidable. It is an acceptance of pluralism and a rejection of using violence to impose values. We are perfectly fine with despising one another, so long as the hatred does not cross the line into coercion. Live and let live.
The new Center for Ethics, Law, and Society at Sonoma State University in Northern California has caused quite a stir among our academic community during the first week of classes, as well as from those outside SSU. More…
This is an ex cathedra statement, not an invitation to debate. It is made in view of certain comments recently posted on this blog.
The problem with anti-semitic conspiracy theories is that they involve continuous selection. Therefore, you take the fact that Karl Marx was a socialist, and overlook that he was a racist and cultural conservative. You take the fact that Mahler was a musical revolutionary, and overlook that he was a German nationalist. You wholly overlook people like Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises, or Paul Gottfried and Meyer Schiller. You also overlook how many poisonous lefties there seem to be in Israel, calling for open borders and the demotion of Jewish symbols.
Jews tend to be opinionated and vociferous. There are Jews arguing fluently on each side of every argument. You can put together a very convincing theory of Jewish subversion by selecting certain opinions of certain Jews, and ascribing these to all or most Jews. You are left with a composite Jew that may exist in a few instances, but is not representative of the Jews we meet in our everyday lives.
You could, by using the same method, but applying a different principle of selection, prove that Jews were sexually-repressed white nationalists with a tendency to convert to Roman Catholicism. You will also find examples of the resulting composite. Again, it will be unrepresentative.
The truth is that we’ve messed our civilisation up by ourselves, and would have got where we now are even if every Jew in the world had fallen dead c1870.
A Florida man has been sentenced to prison — again — for threatening to kill the president of the United States — again. Stephen Espalin says he only made the threat to get free medical care, though, and it wasn’t the first time he tried it either.
Espalin, 57, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after he threatened the life of then-President George W. Bush back in 2001. He apparently didn’t learn his lesson, however, and told investigators just a few years later that he would kill Pres. Barack Obama with a homemade bomb.
While being treated for heart attack-like symptoms at a Boca Raton, FL hospital in December 2010, Espalin, according to the Sun Sentinel, told Secret Service agents that he had shipped a bomb to the White House only hours earlier.