Violence in the lab

There was a popular professor at CSU East Bay who in any normal department would be a dream teacher. She was enthusiastic, bright, and likable. Her assignments were always exactly, even on those occasions when I thought they seemed too trivial, what she said they were—no more, no less. And I was impressed by her personal integrity. I took my first research methods class from her, and later, a graduate seminar in political communication.

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Capitalist Libertarians’ difficulty with separation of church and state

Reacting to last night’s passage of same sex marriage legislation in the state of New York, journalist, human rights activist, and temporary National Security fellow at Enduring America Josh Shahryar tweeted, “Dear Sen. Ruben Diaz of the New York State Senate, read up a little on ‘Separation of Church and State’.”[1] But the ignorance which Shahryar refers to, and as I’m sure he’s well aware, has become a common feature of U.S. political discourse. So I’m less interested in the follies of Diaz and more interested in those of some politicians who believe they have a firm grasp on religious freedom, and recite it along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, while interpreting freedom and the U.S. Constitution as a mandate for unfettered property rights. In particular, I’d like to point to Ron Paul, Representative of the 14th District of Texas and once again a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and to his son, Rand Paul, who is now one of Kentucky’s senators.

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  1. [1]Josh Shahryar,, June 24, 2011,!/JShahryar/status/84469099157131264

How reckless is too reckless?

Forget for a moment that this is an outgoing United States Secretary of Defense with whom I have many disagreements:

Aboard the Pentagon jet on his last foreign trip as secretary of defense, Robert Gates takes a moment to peer across the American horizon—and the view is dire: the U.S. is in danger of losing its supremacy on the global stage, he says.

“I’ve spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower, and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position,” he tells NEWSWEEK, seated in a windowless conference room aboard the Boeing E-4B. “It didn’t have to look over its shoulder because our economy was so strong. This is a different time.”

A pause.

“To tell you the truth, that’s one of the many reasons it’s time for me to retire, because frankly I can’t imagine being part of a nation, part of a government … that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world.”[1]

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  1. [1]John Barry and Tara McKelvey, “The Defense Rests,” Newsweek, June 19, 2011,

Kicking a dead horse

Having been unemployed for two years since I graduated with a Master’s degree, I feel intense nausea when fully employed people tell me about what it takes to reduce unemployment. Kim Brooks argues that it is time to kill the “liberal arts” degree, by which she means any degree which cannot clearly justify its existence in the job market.[1] On Truthdig, ARK points out in response,

Some might argue, however, that the real failure belongs to the crafters of broken domestic economic policy, not professors, artists and intellectuals. . . . That the “real” world is currently managed by men and women who have no visible concern for the welfare of the academy or the life of the mind and are principally and disastrously motivated by profit does not seem to factor large in [Kim Brooks’] search for an answer.[2]

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  1. [1]Kim Brooks, “Is it time to kill the liberal arts degree?”, June 19, 2011,
  2. [2]ARK, “Enlightened but Unemployed,” Truthdig, June 19, 2011,

Time to take the toys away.

That the United States has an unhealthy relationship with war might be inferred from a history in which there are only sixteen calendar years—since 1775—in which its armed forces have not been deployed against somebody somewhere in a hostile situation[1] and from Tom Engelhardt’s ability to count six wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and the Global War on Terror) in which the country is now engaged in his introduction to an article by William Astore in which the latter reprises Chalmers Johnson’s comparison of militarism in the United States to that of the end of the Roman Republic.[2] That this president has an unhealthy relationship with war might be inferred from his decision to override the advice of Defense Department and State Department lawyers and to refuse to seek Congressional approval for our adventure in Libya.[3]

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  1. [1]David Benfell, “A peace loving nation,”, October 18, 2009,
  2. [2]William J. Astore, “Siamese Twins Sharing the Same Brain: How the Military and the Civilian Are Blurring in Washington,” TomDispatch, June 14, 2011,; Tom Engelhardt, “Tomgram: William Astore, American Militarism Is Not A Fairy Tale,” TomDispatch, June 14, 2011,; Chlamers Johnson, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (New York: Metropolitan, 2006).
  3. [3]Charlie Savage, “2 Top Lawyers Lost to Obama in Libya War Policy Debate,” New York Times, June 17, 2011,

An Anarchist in Sacramento: A Reflection on How Our Social Structure Threatens our Survival

As I sat in front of the Rubicon Brewing Company in Sacramento Saturday, I remembered a reason why I might suddenly have felt a nostalgia for that town that morning. I first moved there in 1976 with my mother, having left high school a year early (with a Proficiency Certificate, but I like to call myself a high school dropout anyway), and was then about to start college at Sacramento City College.

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Cold buildings and hot air: the Main Street choice between empty and hateful words

There’s so much manipulation of unemployment numbers[1] that we probably shouldn’t draw any conclusions from any of it. A better gauge can be found in the boarded-up shops, the nearly vacant shopping centers, the people waiting in “soup kitchen” and food pantry lines, the people standing on street corners and on median strips with signs, the foreclosure notices, the vacant homes, the “bank-owned” real estate signs, and the many other signs of distress in the real world. But last night, U.C. Berkeley Professor and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich asked on Twitter, “Will [today’s] job report be the wake-up call Washington needs? D’s [Democrats] can’t run on Medicare or rely on R’s [Republicans’] crackup. It’s jobs and wages.”[2]

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  1. [1]Tyler Durden, “Art Cashin Explains Why The ADP Conundrum May Soon Be Resolved,” Zero Hedge, June 2, 2011,
  2. [2]Robert Reich, Twitter, June 2, 2011,!/RBReich/status/76485314755039232