Journalist Anna Clark traces the toxic politics that poisoned the people of Flint - from the actions of state and local officials under financial emergency management, to the large-scale structural problems deep within American society - of racialized, strategic inequality, and the corrosion of the notion of a universal, public good.
Anna is author of The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy from Metropolitan Books.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Imagine you are an ape, living in a vineyard with your small tribe. The grapes growing there are ripe and sweet. Humans have not been seen in these parts for several months. The weather is warm. Are you not delighted?
This is just one of the mental exercises you can employ to rejuvenate and salve your spirit after catching a glimpse of the Thing currently occupying the office of President of the United States.
It happens. You've done your best not to think about it, but it's impossible to avoid an inadvertent reminder now and then that one of schlock-capitalism's most grotesque abominations is right now operating inside the Oval Office – inside one of the most august theatrical settings in our governmental drama – scribbling his shitty signature on morally deformed executive orders like he runs the joint.
It's a jolt to the system to see him there, that weird-ass bullshit piece of shit, with his shitty suit and shitty hair and his puckered ruined horrible face, warped by decades of being wrapped over a tiny, hard little pea-gravel crumb of a soul. Watching him meeting with GOP Senators, as little respect as I have for that bunch, is nevertheless jarring, like walking in on a grumpy cat in a dunce cap using your hotel room toilet.
One of the foundational principles of our government, it always seemed to me, was that the President was to be considered a human being, a citizen among citizens, not a special human being, but a normal human being, not a nobleman, not an aristocrat, not a monarch invested with Divine Right. That he was nevertheless accorded a colonial slave-built mansion with its own bowling alley and other luxuries came off, at least to me, as counter to the egalitarian spirit of the social mission of the USA.
Having so self-indoctrinated, I'd believed myself immune to feelings of undue respect for the office per se. Respect for the man occupying the office could be earned through respectable behavior, but there was nothing particularly sacred about the seal, the desk, the office, the house. Those were only worthy of respect as the accoutrements of a respect-worthy man inhabiting them.
Richard Nixon brought disgrace to his office, but even so, he never seemed unworthy of actually sitting at the desk. It was just a desk. He wore a suit and tie, like any other desk-sitting... read more
In 1932 – (85 years ago) – Japanese aircraft began an unprovoked bombing of the Chinese city of Shanghai. Japan had invaded northern China a year earlier and established a puppet state there called Manchukuo, as a base from which it could attack the rest of China. Now it followed up its bombing of Shanghai with an attack on targets around the city by thousands of ground-based troops. The bombardments and fighting between Japanese and Chinese forces continued for several weeks until the League of Nations helped negotiate a cease-fire. Some thirteen thousand Chinese were killed, and about five thousand Japanese. Along with being one of the important precursors to World War II, the battle marked Japan’s establishment of the so-called “comfort women” system, which forced local women into sexual slavery to keep Japanese troops less inclined to revolt against their superiors.
In 1964 – (53 years ago) – an unarmed US Air Force T-39 carrying a flight instructor and two pilots took off from the US air base in Wiesbaden, West Germany, on what was called a routine training flight. Within an hour the airplane flew off course, over the so-called “Iron Curtain” into East German airspace, and the crew did not respond to the air controllers’ frantic calls. The plane was shot down by a Soviet jet fighter and all three crewmembers were killed. The incident sparked an ugly Cold War dispute. Soviet diplomat Giorgi Kornienko called the flight “a clear intrusion” and a “case of gross provocation.” Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk called the downing of the plane “a shocking and senseless act,” and Senator Hubert Humphrey called it “an act of brutality, force, and premeditated slaughter.” But US Senator Barry Goldwater, a former Air Force pilot and a Republican candidate for president, expressed skepticism. He told reporters: “It’s kind of hard to believe that all your navigational equipment would go out at once on that plane.”
In 1986 – (31 years ago) – at Cape Canaveral, Florida, engineers from aerospace contractor Morton Thiokol urged managers at NASA not to launch the space shuttle Challenger, warning that cold weather and ice conditions at the Cape would prevent key components of the launch vehicle from working safely. But the... read more
May wrote the article The Patient War: What awaits Trump in Afghanistan in the February issue of Harper's.
Flint's latest writing is Chicago's Brutal Example for Jacobin.
Brian is a lawyer practicing in Philadelphia, we'll also talk about his piece I Have A Scream for Counterpunch.
Natasha wrote the recent pieces Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Got Punched—You Can Thank the Black Bloc and Anti-Fascists Will Fight Trump’s Fascism in the Streets for The Nation.
Dog Section Press is releasing the book Advertising Shits In Your Head: Strategies for Resistance in February. You can read the first chapter here.
Hopefully this changes everything.
Here's what Chuck is reading to prepare for Saturday's show:
The Patient War: What awaits Trump in Afghanistan - May Jeong [Harper's]
Chicago's Brutal Example - Flint Taylor [Jacobin]
I Have A Scream - Brian Foley [Counterpunch]
Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Got Punched—You Can Thank the Black Bloc - Natasha Lennard [The Nation]
Advertising Shit In Your Head: Strategies for Resistance - Anonymous [Dog Section Press]
And further recommended reading:
Key Trump Donor Stands to Profit from Order to Approve Keystone XL, Dakota Access Pipelines - Steve Horn [DeSmog Blog]
Think the Women's March wasn't radical enough? Do something about it - Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor [The Guardian]
The decimation of the Democratic Party, visualized - Phillip Bump [Washington Post]
Assessing Obama - Jacobin
Trump Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself - Das Magazin [Antidote Zine]
Inaugurating a New Movement - Michell Chen [Dissent]
Ordoliberalism and the Death of Liberal Democracy - Salvage Zone
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
After the superwealthy have taken control of everything, what is going to happen to all the excess people? I mean, assuming the superwealthy continue on their current course of commandeering all the resources and phasing out human labor, what's going to happen to all the people they don't need? If those people begin to grow food for themselves, should they find somewhere to do so, won't the superwealthy eventually find out and take the arable land for their own profit? If they hunt and fish and gather, won't their land be taken away and turned into hunting, fishing, and gathering resorts for the superwealthy? And the pre-existing communities: if they aren't picturesque enough to bring in tourism dollars, and they can't farm and they can't get jobs and they can't hunt, fish or gather, how will they live?
I've heard estimates to the effect that 40% of the people on Earth at the moment are unnecessary to the people who matter: they're unemployable, they're in the way, and their misery isn't even necessary as a warning to the existing workforce not to ask for too much. 40% of humanity could be shed just like that. It's a wonder someone or some corporation or cabal of corporations hasn't taken care of this by now.
They're probably waiting to see how large the percentage can grow. It's entirely possible that the superwealthy could whittle the number of people necessary to keep them ecstatically comfortable down to, say, a few thousand per person who matters, or PWM. And better to massacre all of the expendables in one big lump than to do it piecemeal. Better from a PR standpoint. Then again, maybe they're actually doing it piecemeal as we speak.
But if so, they're doing it very slowly and in an extremely disorganized way. It's worth examining why they haven't taken more definitive, prompt action to eliminate the expendables.
It probably wouldn't be much fun to be a PWM without the ability to go to, say, a town on the Amalfi Coast, where people are living as you assume they've lived for a long time, for dinner on a pleasant piazza overlooking the Mediterranean where you are served a bowl of the most divine soup, and the jasmine petals fall from the trees into your soup, and you are meant to eat them, they compliment the soup deliciously. And you wander the narrow streets with your trophy spouse, passing picturesque... read more
In 1793 – (224 years ago) – King Louis XVI of France was led to a carriage and escorted by more than a thousand horsemen and armed citizens to the Place de la Revolution in Paris, where a huge crowd awaited him, along with a ragtag group of executioners. His failure to address his country’s economic crisis had sparked a revolution, and the new National Assembly had found him guilty of treason and stripped him of his crown and title. Upon reaching the scaffold, the ex-king loudly proclaimed his innocence to the crowd, and then was seized and shoved into the guillotine. Moments later, the heavy blade came down and separated his head from his body. One of the executioners, a young man of about eighteen, grabbed the severed head and held it high for the crowd to see. After a long moment of silence, a few people shouted: “Vive la Republique!” Others in the vast crowd picked up the phrase until it became a repetitive chant, growing louder and louder for more than ten minutes. Nine months later, Marie Antoinette, the ex-king’s wife, was beheaded in much the same way.
In 1941 – (76 years ago) – in Bucharest, Romania, a rebellion against the head of state, General Ion Antonescu, by Legionnaires of the Iron Guard, a right-wing Orthodox Christian paramilitary group, boiled over into an anti-Semitic pogrom. For the next two days, mobs of local people rampaged through the city’s predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, ransacking and burning down synagogues, businesses, and homes. Thousands of people from all walks of life were dragged into the streets, beaten, and tortured. Some were also slaughtered and mutilated, and still others were taken out of town and shot. By the time the bedlam died down, some 125 victims of the pogrom were dead.
In 1968 – (49 years ago) – near the US Air Force Base at Thule, Greenland, an American B-52 bomber carrying four hydrogen bombs experienced a cabin fire in flight. The whole crew was forced to bail out, one crew member being killed in the process. The burning airplane crashed onto the ice in nearby North Star Bay, not far from an indigenous Inuit settlement. The fiery crash ignited conventional detonators on the H-bombs, which in turn ruptured the bomb canisters and spread plutonium and other radioactive debris for miles. The subsequent cleanup operation by US and Danish personnel failed to... read more
Kevin wrote the recent article On Chelsea Manning's Freedom at Shadowproof. He has covered the Manning case since the very begining.
Laura just posted the article Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again” at Counterpunch.
Henry is author of the essay Militant Hope in the Age of the Politics of the Disconnect for Counterpunch and War Culture, Militarism and Racist Violence Under Trump for Truthout.
Rebecca wrote the article Trumpism and the Davos Man for n+1.
Bruce Dixon wrote the recent articles Mocking, Marching, Stopping the Hate and Dumping Trump Are Not Enough and Is It Time To Revoke John Lewis’s Lifetime Civil Rights Hero Pass? for Black Agenda Report.