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September 23, 2014
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Peace and Justice Files

The madness of mobs, the wisdom of crowds and the paradoxes of democracy

The days before the recent elections were filled with interesting, heartfelt, and vociferous debates among my circles of online friends and correspondents—not about any of the candidates, mind you, or any of the particular issues involved, but rather about whether or not we should even bother to vote.  Read more

A devil’s response to Paul Harvey

MEMO

FROM: Screwdisk, Executive Vice-Demon for Sales,

HellCorp North America

TO: Regional Field Agent Scumbucket, Tempter Second Class

RE: “If I Were the Devil,” by Paul Harvey

My dearest nephew,  Read more

Governing from the center (Part 2)

Last month I wrote about the difficult effort to find the political “center”—or for that matter, to even define it. For some, this elusive center presents an opportunity, and their search is motivated by a sense that there might be advantage to be gained by formulating an attractive vision of a unifying, centrist politics. They calculate that the right person, with the right set of “non-partisan” positions, could leverage people’s frustrations with business-as-usual and draw a strong following.  Read more

Governing from the center (Part 1)

One of the things I appreciate about social media sites like Twitter and Facebook is that they expose me to many things that I might otherwise miss. Usually, these items are posted by the people and organizations I follow, but every once in a great while I actually see a relevant and interesting advertisement. The other day, for example, my eye was caught by an ad on Facebook.

“Click ‘Like’ if you are tired of the gridlock in Washington, D.C.” it said.  Read more

Your counter-fascism toolkit

According to numerous public health studies, just washing your hands on a regular basis—a simple, mundane activity if ever there was one—actually provides one of the most effective measures for preventing the spread of many diseases. Preventing the spread of the “social disease” called fascism is a bit more complex, but many of the preventive measures that are available to each and every one of us are similarly simple and mundane.  Read more

Fascism is like herpes

Last month, we started exploring the concept of “fascism;” in fact, we barely scratched the surface. It’s a fascinating topic that one could explore for years, but my interest in the topic is more practical and immediate. Does fascism, in all its brutal and vicious glory, stand any chance of taking hold now, here, in America, and if so, is there anything we can do to prevent it?

To address such questions, I think I have found a useful metaphor.  Read more

Fascism 101

“You, you, fascist!”

There are very few words in our political vocabularies that are more emotionally loaded, while at the same time more saddled with multiple, not-quite-identical meanings. When a Google search on “Bush fascist” yields 5.2 million hits, and a search on “Obama fascist” yields 5.9 million, you have to wonder just what this word is supposed to mean, anyway.  Read more

Noblesse oblige?

It was just another sleepy spring day in sophomore English class, some 40 years ago, when I was tapped for the National Honor Society (NHS). I may still have the little pin in a box somewhere, along with a certificate bearing the NHS motto—two simple French words that at the time made no sense to me whatsoever: “Noblesse oblige.”  Read more

The cost of freedom, now in easy monthly payments

(A scene from the near future...)

“Hello?”

“Hello, is this Mrs. Joanne Commoner?”

“Yes, this is Joanne.”

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Commoner, this is Staff Sgt. Mark Striker with the U.S. Army, 14th Fundraiser Battalion. How are you this afternoon?”

“Good afternoon, Sergeant! Thank you for your service!”

“At ease, Mrs. Commoner. You may be seated. And thank you for your kind words. By the way, Mrs. Commoner, I am required to inform you this conversation may be monitored or recorded for quality control purposes.”  Read more

Come out, come out

After literally decades of struggle and suffering, folks in the LGBT (etc.) community can finally point to some strong, concrete gains in their quest for social recognition, acceptance and respect. The notion of marriage equality is gaining support across the nation, the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is now just a vague memory, and even the Boy Scouts of America have begun reconsidering their homophobic stance. More than at any time in recent history, they can feel the freedom to be exactly who they are, and no longer worry about concealing themselves behind an artificial facade.  Read more

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