Manufacturing Dissent Since 1996
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B g bonds

Money from these bonds is not earmarked, so it just goes into the general fund. There is no knowing if the bond I bought was used to expand settlements, was used to build an apartheid wall, was used to buy weapons. They're doing that intentionally. They know that people don't want to directly support war efforts or that it would be better if you could say, “The bond money was going purely to infrastructure projects” or something of the sort, but they don't do that. There's no disclosure or transparency. Once it is in the general fund of the treasury, it can be used for anything. The far right finance minister Bezalel Smotrich, a man who is deeply committed to the project of genocide against Palestinians, is technically in charge of these general funds. I's a very scary thought.

Clark Randall, a past guest, and Lucy Randall who co-wrote The Nation article, "How Israel Bonds Put the Cost of the War in Gaza on US States and Municipalities: After October 7, Palm Beach County, Florida, bought $660 million in Israel bonds. A new lawsuit argues that it’s a bad deal for taxpayers."
Clark is an independent journalist and PhD student at Brown University. His work considers questions of race, class, and finance in the US and internationally.

Lucy is a freelance journalist and an immigration lawyer representing asylum seekers in New York City.

Clark was on last August to talk about his Boston Review article, "Bond... read more


Posted by Alexander Jerri
Spring breakers

I have my world builder hat on and my world builder gloves and boots. Of course, can’t forget my world builder safety goggles. I hastily contrive a fertile crescent from what’s lying around my mind. Rolling hills of green, a forest of cedar trees. A couple of rivers that will one day be called the Euphrates and the Tigres. I’m gonna say it’s about eight thousand years ago, before the marking up of a lot of clay tablets with stories. There’s not a great deal materially left from that time that could refute me. It was an oral culture, but before the advent of most of the oral traditions that were later recorded, and most likely adulterated, in more tangible fashion. So long ago, people had only in the previous four thousand years even come to sense themselves as distinct from all the other things in the world.


Most of what people created were stories and songs and rhythms. Those items were constructed of vibrations. Almost as soon as they were appreciated, they would blow away in the wind like a sake cup of pure oxygen served as an amuse-bouche at an irrationally expensive trendy restaurant. Or a burp. But much more important than a quarter cup of gas because these vibrations were early strokes sculpting the kind of species we were going to become.


I take it back, forget about the geographical location. This could happen anywhere. I’m going to tell you a story now, and this is just between you and me and the invisible power of wishing: there once was a time when the vast majority of people were intelligent, contemplative, and respectful of each other, even of those less intelligent, contemplative, and able-bodied.


Everything was so new no systemic ideas of disdain, prohibition, or guilt had yet taken hold. No one knew what laziness was. All the labor – the tending of the wild growth from which food was gathered, the grinding of seeds into pastes and powders, the weaving of plant fibers, the caring for what domestic animals there were – all that took at most a couple of hours each day. The rest of the day was for finding out what being a human was all about. Because, however long people had been in existence, there were always freshly-minted people coming into existence who barely knew what was going on around them. Or inside them, and had yet to explore the nature of the relationships woven around and through them.

They weren’t savages.... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri
Your best life now

For the current job I’ve been hired to do, one of my duties is to open a tab of Instagram stories or reels or whatever they’re called and let them play, one after the other, on a dedicated iPhone on the desk next to my computer. About an hour and forty minutes takes care of all the new ones each day. I’m also tasked with monitoring and responding to regular Instagram posts, messages, and comments. The most onerous thing about it is the influencers.


No one really knows what an influencer is or how they become what they are. Maybe there are already detailed treatises on the subject, but those would be premature. The true historic scourge of the influencer has yet to ripen and play out in its fully poisonous catastrophe.


Tied for most onerous is being exposed to the inspirational motivational pep-talk life-coach-y messaging of so much Instagram content. It’s not only influencers who are responsible. Such admonishments, aphorisms, and quotations are in fact most often posted by your rank-and-file poster of content, of which there is a multitude. Millions upon millions of foot soldiers parroting and re-posting self-help and positive-attitude formulations from the likes of Dale Carnegie and Khalil Gibran, misappropriated, out of context, often misattributed or garbled, some of it initiated by influencers, some just scraped from the walls of the web while gathering acorns and bluebird feathers for a cyber-dreamcatcher.


I conflate the inspirational and the motivational into one grand annoyance for a reason. They annoy me. They annoy me grandly. I begin at a negative philosophical position. Announce to me what you consider to be a universal truth, and my initial reaction is, “No it isn’t,” and we may proceed from there.  

“Be a blessing and you will get blessed.” Yes, because the universe is a transactional venue, like global free trade, or a vending machine! You put your blessings in the slot, and you get a candy bar!

“Turn ‘I hope’ into ‘I will.’” Your attitude makes all the difference when they come to shut down your drag queen story hour, blow up your power station, shoot your offspring, or fire randomly into your house of worship!


Tell me “The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice” and I will say to you “tell me that again and the arc of my foot is gonna bend... read more

Jan 9 2023
Posted by Alexander Jerri
Good grief bad grief

Last Friday, December 9, 2022, in Detroit, in the midst of a performance by Cyrus Chestnut and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra of selections from the Vince Guaraldi score of the cartoon Christmas special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” someone shouted a slur that either was the N-word or included the N-word. None of the news outlets are saying. The orchestra maintained their focus. Audience members interviewed afterwards expressed disgust with whoever shouted the slur. WXYZ, Channel 7 news in Detroit, reported the story, as did the newspaper—whatever newspaper means these days—The Detroit News.  


Cyrus Chestnut is black, as are some members of the DSO, as are people who were in the audience that night. Charlie Brown, a fictional figure, is, despite his surname, white. In the Lieber and Stoller song, “Charlie Brown,” written for and recorded by The Coasters, all members of which were black, Charlie Brown was probably black. But the N-word slur-slinger most likely targeted the players rather than the subject of the music.


Vince Guaraldi, the composer, was white, although his mustache was black. Nevertheless, it seems clear that the slur was aimed at the black instrumentalists on Friday.


I should add that I’m only assuming it was the N-word based on the way all the news outlets have skirted around what exactly was shouted. It was definitely an anti-black term of derogation, but it could have been the Coo-word or the Sp-word. Those possibilities seem doubtful, especially the latter, given the reported reaction of the audience.


But it’s odd no one’s reporting that it was the N-word. As a euphemism, it’s the most easily communicated via the press. Maybe there’s an unwritten AP-style rule whereby an outlet is supposed to give the N-word the least amount of publicity possible, even in its euphemistic form.

The article in The Detroit News has a comment section. If you can imagine, the comments section is inhabited by a grotesque menagerie of primates throwing feces. There are comments denying that the occurrence ever took place, despite the vast number of witnesses and the fact that the Orchestra announced on its Facebook page its sadness in regards to the incident.


“The DSO is deeply disappointed by an incident that took place towards the end of Friday night’s concert when an audience member shouted a... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri
Lies poster

This is the time of year when my thoughts turn to the dark cave of ancient European winter solstice traditions. I don’t know what all the specifics are, but I know that Yule was a macabre time when the countryside was skulked by goat-headed demons, wooly wildmen brandishing knobby clubs, vengeful ghosts, hammer-wielding butchers, and other pagan shades visiting comeuppance, disproportionate or otherwise, upon the gullible, myth-hectored children of Europe. And from this I derive comfort. I crawl into that dim thought-cave and hibernate till early January.


As I drift off, I ponder. I ponder, ruminate, daydream, and consider. What is the nature of this historical period we’re living in? Is this really the rightwing version of the Age of Aquarius as it’s advertised to be? If so, what shall we call it? The Age of Acquisitus? The Age of Cupiditus? The Age of Non compos mentis? The Age of Nefarious, Precarious, Usurious, You Serious?


It’s clear that the fascist chaos-mongers of today feel themselves to be simultaneously the functional equivalent of, the revenge upon, and the antidote to the radicals of five and six decades ago. Milo Yiannopoulos, James O’Keefe, and Dinesh D’Souza think they’re the Yippies of the new millennium. The nationalist, nativist, and white supremacist militias consider themselves justified by, as they justifiably retaliate against, not just BLM or the Presidency of Obama, but also the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, and the American Indian Movement from “back in the day.”


And their rank-and-file Paleoconservative fellow travelers in the voting and non-voting-on-principle mass of Americans consider themselves “hip” to the “anti-establishment” message today’s groovy thought-masters are laying down. The execrable Jordan B Peterson has no better analogue in the past zeitgeist than Alan Watts of yore.


Of course, these analogues are not one-to-one. Alan Watts championed the probably mythical founder of Taoism, Laozi, whose work he had some grasp on and whose message he attempted to pass along in relatively good faith, while the bullying Peterson champions a Nietzsche distorted through his own pet peeves and crotchets with, more than likely, an eye to one day setting up a franchise of motivational churches.


The ambition of the Abby Hoffman-wannabes is protracted fame as... read more