••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Showing posts with label phobia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label phobia. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

two weeks ago i became aware of a right-wing response to the state of the union speech on the human events website. the column by john hayward claimed obama misquoted lincoln and strongly suggested that he did so in order to usurp our freedom. i looked at the comments, saw that nearly all supported hayward, and jumped in to defend the one commenter who pled for reality. naturally i got sucked into responding to counterattacks and wound up posting about 75 comments over the next few days.

along the way i looked at the original transcript of the SOTU and saw that obama did not represent lincoln's idea as a quote. then i did a google search on a few words from hayward's excerpt of what he 3 times called lincoln's speech and found out it wasn't even a speech but some notes lincoln made in 1854. obama had paraphrased a short passage.

if you're interested in the combat, check it out here.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


we can laugh now. i just hope this sweet mirth won't turn bitter in our bellies...

Monday, January 30, 2012


Ken Aden is running for congress as a Democrat in Arkansas. Aden’s campaign manager, Jake Burris lives in Pope County, a highly conservative area in Central Arkansas. Sunday evening, as Burris and his children returned to their Russellville home, they found something horrific.

Someone had murdered the family cat, and written the word “liberal” on the body with a black marker. One side of the cat’s head was bashed in and an eyeball was hanging out of the socket. The cat’s body was left on the front porch and was discovered by one of Jake Burris’s children. [more]

Thursday, December 15, 2011


MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, 11AM: So you may not hear Mitt Romney say "Keep America American" anymore. That’s because it was a central theme of the KKK in the 1920s, it was a rallying cry for the group’s campaign of violence and intimidation against blacks, gays and Jews.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 5PM: During the 11AM hour on MSNBC we reported on a blog item that compared a phrase used by the Romney campaign to one used by the KKK in the 1920s. It was irresponsible and incendiary of us to do this and showed an appalling lack of judgment. We apologize to the Romney campaign.
that's breitbart's idea of disgusting? then what's this?:
In the hours immediately following Senator Ted Kennedy's death, Breitbart called Kennedy a "villain", a "duplicitous bastard", a "prick" and "a special pile of human excrement."
and did breitbart apologize? MSNBC did, tho perhaps they shouldn't have.

then again, which did he mean is "disgusting," the accusation or the apology?

it must have been the latter. breitbart has nothing against accusing people. he's accused obama of trying to "foment a revolution."

Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween, #7,000,000,000

that's scary!
isn't that scary, boys and girls?
trick or treat!?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

the ticket

well, he doesn't want to go back to the articles of confederation like some "conservatives," but close enough.

he'd just castrate rule of law, the presidency, and the american people by ending judicial independence, forcing the government to rely on regressive forms of taxation, and taking away popular election of US senators.

of course it goes without saying that he'd abolish gay marriage and abortion.

here's a summary:

1. Abolish lifetime tenure for federal judges by amending Article III, Section I of the Constitution.

The nation's framers established a federal court system whereby judges with "good behavior" would be secure in their job for life. Perry believes that provision is ready for an overhaul.

"The Judges," reads Article III, "both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."

Perry makes it no secret that he believes the judges on the bench over the past century have acted beyond their constitutional bounds. The problem, Perry reasons, is that members of the judiciary are "unaccountable" to the people, and their lifetime tenure gives them free license to act however they want. In his book, the governor speaks highly of plans to limit their tenure and offers proposals about how to accomplish it.

"'[W]e should take steps to restrict the unlimited power of the courts to rule over us with no accountability," he writes in Fed Up! "There are a number of ideas about how to do this . . . . One such reform would be to institute term limits on what are now lifetime appointments for federal judges, particularly those on the Supreme Court or the circuit courts, which have so much power. One proposal, for example, would have judges roll off every two years based on seniority."

2. Congress should have the power to override Supreme Court decisions with a two-thirds vote.

Ending lifetime tenure for federal justices isn't the only way Perry has proposed suppressing the power of the courts. His book excoriates at length what he sees as overreach from the judicial branch. (The title of Chapter Six is "Nine Unelected Judges Tell Us How to Live.")

Giving Congress the ability to veto their decisions would be another way to take the Court down a notch, Perry says.

"[A]llow Congress to override the Supreme Court with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate, which risks increased politicization of judicial decisions, but also has the benefit of letting the people stop the Court from unilaterally deciding policy," he writes.

3. Scrap the federal income tax by repealing the Sixteenth Amendment.

The Sixteenth Amendment gives Congress the "power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." It should be abolished immediately, Perry says.

Calling the Sixteenth Amendment "the great milestone on the road to serfdom," Perry's writes that it provides a virtually blank check to the federal government to use for projects with little or no consultation from the states.

4. End the direct election of senators by repealing the Seventeenth Amendment.

Overturning this amendment would restore the original language of the Constitution, which gave state legislators the power to appoint the members of the Senate.

Ratified during the Progressive Era in 1913 , the same year as the Sixteenth Amendment, the Seventeenth Amendment gives citizens the ability to elect senators on their own. Perry writes that supporters of the amendment at the time were "mistakenly" propelled by "a fit of populist rage."

"The American people mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century by giving it an unlimited source of income (the Sixteenth Amendment) and by changing the way senators are elected (the Seventeenth Amendment)," he writes.

5. Require the federal government to balance its budget every year.

Of all his proposed ideas, Perry calls this one "the most important," and of all the plans, a balanced budget amendment likely has the best chance of passage.

"The most important thing we could do is amend the Constitution--now--to restrict federal spending," Perry writes in his book. "There are generally thought to be two options: the traditional 'balanced budget amendment' or a straightforward 'spending limit amendment,' either of which would be a significant improvement. I prefer the latter . . . . Let's use the people's document--the Constitution--to put an actual spending limit in place to control the beast in Washington."

A campaign to pass a balanced budget amendment through Congress fell short by just one vote in the Senate in the 1990s.

Last year, House Republicans proposed a spending-limit amendment that would limit federal spending to 20 percent of the economy. According to the amendment's language, the restriction could be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both Houses of Congress or by a declaration of war.

6. The federal Constitution should define marriage as between one man and one woman in all 50 states.

Despite saying last month that he was "fine with" states like New York allowing gay marriage, Perry has now said he supports a constitutional amendment that would permanently ban gay marriage throughout the country and overturn any state laws that define marriage beyond a relationship between one man and one woman.

"I do respect a state's right to have a different opinion and take a different tack if you will, California did that," Perry told the Christian Broadcasting Network in August. "I respect that right, but our founding fathers also said, 'Listen, if you all in the future think things are so important that you need to change the Constitution here's the way you do it'.

In an interview with The Ticket earlier this month, Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said that even though it would overturn laws in several states, the amendment still fits into Perry's broader philosophy because amendments require the ratification of three-fourths of the states to be added to the Constitution.

7. Abortion should be made illegal throughout the country.

Like the gay marriage issue, Perry at one time believed that abortion policy should be left to the states, as was the case before the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. But in the same Christian Broadcasting Network interview, Perry said that he would support a federal amendment outlawing abortion because it was "so important...to the soul of this country and to the traditional values [of] our founding fathers."

the full title of perry's book is Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.

i wonder if his presidential campaign is really a book tour in disguise. i wish!

Monday, July 25, 2011

speculation about what caused the norway massacre has degenerated into finger-pointing and simplistic solutions, as usual.

the simplistic category includes "If one counselor or youth had a gun on them and shot back at this guy, he would of killed far less people." [exact quote; don't blame me for the phrasing]

the fingers point all over the map: at cops, right-wingers, christians, islamophobes, atheists — i almost said "you name it" and put myself among the oversimplifiers.

i find it ironic that some christians defend what they view as their side by blaming atheism because a few prominent atheists have attacked islam, like richard dawkins, below.

it's surprising that such a smart guy would say "in the former christendom ... there's more of a historical tradition of questioning." dawkins ought to recall that christianity, at islam's present age, sent inquisitors to interrogate questioners of the faith, often quite harshly.

i'm willing to admit i don't have too many answers, tho i suspect more information couldn't hurt, but i can't deny that some react violently when overexposed to information (not necessarily misinformation) that alarms or provokes them.

for now i'll just call for more light. if we humans want to avoid a mass throat-cutting, we need to wake up. few of us think clearly as we sleep.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

eml from media matters
Here [is] today's news [item] from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of [the] story.

Wall Street Journal Spins Fracking Study To Downplay Risks
A Wall Street Journal editorial obscured the fact that a Duke University study strongly suggested methane from a natural gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, contaminated water supplies. Read More

Here are [yesterday's] news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of each story.
Neal Boortz Uses Mythology To Say The Bush Tax Cuts "Worked"
Writing in the Atlanta Journal Constitutionsyndicated radio host Neal Boortz perpetuated the myth that tax cuts increase revenue to bolster his argument that the Bush tax cuts "worked." Economists have said the Bush tax cuts reduced revenue and had little positive impact on the economy. Read More
Washington Times' History Of Anti-Gay Attacks
The incoming editor of The Washington Times, Ed Kelley, recently suggested he was not familiar with the newspaper's long history of anti-gay attacks, saying the only controversy he had heard on the issue was "a change in whether or not the term either civil unions or gay marriage or something, whether or not there were going to be quotes used around the term or not." In fact,The Washington Times has long history of extreme rhetoric and smears against the LGBT community. Read More

Here [is 6/24's news item] from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of [the] story.
Fox Panel Teams Up To Promote A Bushel Of Misinformation On Health Care Reform
A seven-minute segment on Fox News' America Live featured a deluge of falsehoods and distortions about President Obama's health care reform record, including the false suggestion that PricewaterhouseCoopers found that health care reform is responsible for rising costs. In fact, Pricewaterhouse found that reform is "expected to have minimal impact on [the] medical cost trend in 2012." Read More

Here are [6/23]'s news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of each story.
Another "Indoctrination" Freakout: Right-Wing Media Attack MD's Environmental Literacy Education Requirement
Right-wing media have attacked a recent Maryland State Board of Education ruling that requires high school students to be "environmentally literate" before graduating as "indoctrination" and "brainwash[ing]," while using it as an opportunity continue the right-wing's longstanding war on climate science. Read More
Right-Wing Media Strain To Portray Obama's Speech As A "Mission Accomplished" Moment
Following President Obama's speech announcing the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, right-wing media have strained to portray the announcement as a "mission accomplished" moment. However, Obama acknowledged that "huge challenges remain" in Afghanistan and "[w]e'll have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we've made." Read More
Right-Wing Media Launches Kitchen Sink Attack On Obama's Afghanistan Speech
The right-wing media reacted to President Obama's address on troop withdrawals in Afghanistan by dredging up familiar, petty attacks, such as criticizing the number of times Obama referred to himself, and claiming the address was a "campaign speech" instead of a "war update." This follows a long history of the right-wing media launching frivolous attacks over speeches Obama makes on all manner of issues. Read More
Fox Uses Oil Reserve Announcement To Demand More Drilling
After President Obama announced that the U.S. will tap the Strategic Petroleum ReserveFox News figures falsely suggested that government restrictions are encumbering domestic oil production. In fact, drilling is nearing a twenty-year high, and countless economists have explained that expanded U.S. oil production is not a solution to high oil pricesRead More
Right-Wing Media Attack Vargas With Stereotypical, Anti-Immigrant Vigor
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, recently revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant. Right-wing media responded with virulent anti-immigrant attacks, with Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail writing: "kick the lying, illegal alien Jose Antonio Vargas out." Read More

Here are [6/22]'s news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of each story.
Plane Falsehoods: Krauthammer Continues To Misinform About Boeing's Alleged Union-Busting
Previously, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer misinformed the public on a National Labor Relations Board complaint that Boeing illegally moved jobs away from a unionized facility, claiming that "paying off the unions to [President Obama] is more important than a healthy export economy." Krauthammer spread more falsehoods in a Washington Post column in which he suggested that the NLRB is a political organization "trying to get the [South Carolina] plant declared illegal" because "Democrats need unions." Read More
Beck Guest Falsely Claims Oil And Gas Companies Get "Zero" Government Subsidies
On his Fox News showGlenn Beck hosted several oil and gas industry executives to attack President Obama's energy policies and tout fossil fuels. During the show, Beck hyped the false claim by one of his guests, the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, that "the oil and natural gas industry gets zero subsidies" from the federal government. Read More
Fox News "Headline" Is A GOP Press Release
Fox News adopted its "headline" for today straight from a press release from the office of Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, claiming that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that "government spending as a share of our economy will increase by nearly 70 percent by 2035." In its long-term budget outlook, CBO projected that spending would increase from 24.1 percent of GDP in 2011 to 27.4 percent in 2035. Read More
Fox Protects Investment By Attempting To Spin Lack Of Enthusiasm For GOP Field
Fox News has recently tried to spin GOP voter dissatisfaction with the 2012 presidential field by suggesting it is a manufactured Democratic talking point designed to "handicap" the candidates, when, in fact, polling has consistently shown Republicans are dissatisfied with the GOP field. This spin comes as Fox is investing a significant amount of resources into promoting the GOP presidential candidates. Read More
With Renewed National Focus On Immigration Reform, Fox Revs Up Anti-Immigrant Campaign
As immigration reform has re-entered the public debate, Fox News has spent the past several weeks misleading on the issue and slanting its news coverage to paint immigrants in a negative light. Read More
Jon Stewart Gets It Right About Fox News
Fox News has attacked Daily Show host Jon Stewart for claiming that Fox News viewers are "the most consistently misinformed viewers" of cable news. However, Stewart was correct -- Fox News consistently misinforms its viewers, and its viewers are found among the most likely to hold misinformed beliefs about current events. Read More

Here are [6/21]'s news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of each story.

Eric Bolling: Fox News' In-House Corporate Lobbyist
Fox NewsEric Bolling has been promoting what he described as his own stimulus plan, a plan centered on tax breaks for multinational corporations on money currently parked offshore. Bolling's proposal is remarkably similar to a plan reportedly promoted by corporate lobbyists during a Washington, D.C. conference on June 15 - the day before Bolling discussed his plan on Fox News. Read More
Fox Still Misrepresenting NLRB's Case Against Boeing
Fox News has repeatedly suggested that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is engaging in unlawful or "anti-American" activity by filing a complaint against Boeing for deciding to build a new plant in the "right to work" state of South Carolina. But the NLRB complaint alleges that Boeing moved to South Carolina in retaliation for union workers' decision to strike, and experts say that allegations in the case represent an "absolutely standard violation" of federal labor law.Read More
Fox Hyped McKinsey & Co. Study But Ignored Admission That It's Not A "Predictive Economic Analysis"
After hyping a McKinsey & Company survey that predicted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPAC) would cause millions of employees to lose their employer-basedhealth care coverage, Fox did not cover that McKinsey & Co. admitted that their findings were not meant as "a predictive economic analysis." Fox further failed to note a study reinforcing President Obama's claim that employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) markets would be virtually unchanged by the health care billRead More

Here are [6/20]'s news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of each story.

Fox News Maligns Scientists With Baseless Accusation Of "Doctoring" Sea Level Data
Following the lead of the Heartland InstituteFox News trumpeted the utterly baseless claim that scientists at the University of Colorado are "doctoring" sea level data to "exaggerate theeffects of global warming." In reality, the scientists used a standard and transparent procedure performed by other research groups around the world, and even the climate skeptic cited by Fox News objects to the implication that the group engaged in scientific wrongdoing. Read More
Fox Hosts Official From Extremist-Linked Pro-Gun Group To Distort Link Between "Carry Laws" And Crime
Fox & Friends hosted John Velleco, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America (GOA), to argue in favor of concealed weapons laws by dubiously claiming that "crime goes down" when "a state tries to relax concealed carry laws." But according to PolitiFact, crime data shows no "straight-line correlation between states with 'right to carry' laws and crime rates"; moreover, GOA's executive director has been tied to militia groupswhite supremacists, and has a history of extremist rhetoric. Read More

Thursday, June 09, 2011

paranoia strikes deep
(you can't make this stuff up)
seriously damaged

hoo boy! off come the gloves! radical right's real agenda revealed at last!

just got the following eml from townhall.com

and this guy calls himself the public advocate of the US?!

oh, man! what GRANDEUR! what PERSECUTION!

where are the guys in the white coats when you need them?!

[showing text only]:
Dear Pro-family American,

The Radical Homosexuals infiltrating the United States Congress have a plan:

Indoctrinate an entire generation of American children with pro-homosexual propaganda and eliminate traditional values from American society.

Their ultimate dream is to create a new America based on sexual promiscuity in which the values you and I cherish are long forgotten.

I hate to admit it, but if they pass the deceptively named “Student Non-Discrimination Act,” that’s exactly what they’ll do.

Better named the “Homosexual Classrooms Act,” its chief advocate in Congress is Rep. Jared Polis, himself an open homosexual and radical activist.

That’s why I need you to act quickly -- right away -- to protect our nation’s youth.

I have prepared the official “Protect Our Children’s Innocence” Petition to Congress for you to sign.

Please click here to sign it right away so I can rush it to the Capitol with thousands more.

You and I must defeat this disastrous legislation.

You see, the Homosexual Classrooms Act contains a laundry list of anti-family provisions that will:

*** Require schools to teach appalling homosexual acts so “homosexual students” don’t feel “singled out” during already explicit sex-ed classes;

*** Spin impressionable students in a whirlwind of sexual confusion and misinformation, even peer pressure to “experiment” with the homosexual “lifestyle;”

*** Exempt homosexual students from punishment for propositioning, harassing, or even sexually assaulting their classmates, as part of their specially-protected right to “freedom of self-expression;”

*** Force private and even religious schools to teach a pro-homosexual curriculum and purge any reference to religion if a student claims it creates a “hostile learning environment” for homosexual students.

And that’s just the beginning of the Homosexual Lobby’s radical agenda.

In fact, it will set them up to ram through their entire perverted vision for a homosexual America.

My friend, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this is not a fight we can afford to lose.

That’s why Public Advocate is leading the fight against this immoral legislation.

This is a battle for the survival of American values and the fact is, there’s no time to waste.

The Homosexual Classrooms Act will turn America’s schools into indoctrination centers and its classrooms into social laboratories -- and they’re pulling out all the stops to pass it.

You see, they’ve disguised the bill’s wicked purpose behind an innocent name: “The Student Non-Discrimination Act.” Not only that, but they’re waiting to introduce this legislation in order to keep it under the radar.

The Homosexual Lobby knows that if pro-family Americans like you and me have time to alert the public of their radical agenda, they’ll have no hope of success.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

"This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile," he said in an unscripted remark. Using the word "crusade" to describe American retaliation to September 11 was counter-productive in the extreme. It recalled one of the darkest chapters in Christian history, the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims by marauding Christian "holy warriors" in repeated attempts to capture Jerusalem.

Bush never used the word again but "crusades" has been a gift that keeps giving for Osama bin Laden and his followers who say they are waging war against "Jews and crusaders," a conflict they still hope to turn into a permanent clash of civilizations.

"Al Qaeda and its affiliated ideologues ... want to create a homogenous, undifferentiated Islam on whose behalf they speak and a coherent master narrative which justifies their action," Marc Lynch, who heads the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, wrote in a recent essay.

Conflating terrorism and Islam and thus creating a mental connection between the two, in other words, serves al Qaeda's cause.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

“Climate change is real, and man is causing it,” Mr. Hill said, echoing most climate scientists. “That is indisputable. And we have to do something about it.”

A rain of boos showered Mr. Hill, including a hearty growl from Norman Dennison, a 50-year-old electrician and founder of the Corydon Tea Party.

“It’s a flat-out lie,” Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. “I read my Bible,” Mr. Dennison said. “He made this earth for us to utilize.”

Skepticism and outright denial of global warming are among the articles of faith of the Tea Party movement, here in Indiana and across the country. For some, it is a matter of religious conviction; for others, it is driven by distrust of those they call the elites. And for others still, efforts to address climate change are seen as a conspiracy to impose world government and a sweeping redistribution of wealth. But all are wary of the Obama administration’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide, a ubiquitous gas, which will require the expansion of government authority into nearly every corner of the economy.

“This so-called climate science is just ridiculous,” said Kelly Khuri, founder of the Clark County Tea Party Patriots. “I think it’s all cyclical.”

“Carbon regulation, cap and trade, it’s all just a money-control avenue,” Ms. Khuri added. “Some people say I’m extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too.”

Thursday, October 07, 2010

"My thoughts are these, first of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don't know how that happened in the United States," she said. "It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States."

Dearborn, Mich., has a thriving Muslim community. It was not immediately clear why Angle singled out Frankford, Texas, a former town that was annexed into Dallas around 1975.
Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly called Angle's comments "shameful." He said tea party groups inaccurately spread the word that his Detroit suburb was ruled by Islamic law after members of an anti-Islam group were arrested at an Arab cultural festival in June because a Christian volunteer complained of harassment.

"She took it as face value and maligned the city of Dearborn and I consider that totally irresponsible," he said. "If she wants to come here, I will take her on a tour. I will show her we follow the Constitution just as well as anyone else."

Angle, a Southern Baptist, has called herself a faith-based politician. Among her positions, she opposes abortion in all circumstances, including rape and incest and doesn't believe the Constitution requires the separation of church and state.

Angle is in a dead-heat race against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Boiling Mad:
Inside Tea Party America

“The beauty of Boiling Mad is that it’s room-temperature calm. With fresh and surprising reporting, Kate Zernike cuts through the hype on both sides to show the Tea Party as it really is, not as partisans depict it. It’s a complete, balanced, incisive and important account of a reactionary movement that’s changing the country.”
--Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One

Product Description
A surprising and revealing look inside the Tea Party movement—where it came from, what it stands for, and what it means for the future of American politics

They burst on the scene at the height of the Great Recession—angry voters gathering by the thousands to rail against bailouts and big government. Evoking the Founding Fathers, they called themselves the Tea Party. Within the year, they had changed the terms of debate in Washington, emboldening Republicans and confounding a new administration's ability to get things done.

Boiling Mad is Kate Zernike's eye-opening look inside the Tea Party, introducing us to a cast of unlikely activists and the philosophy that animates them. She shows how the Tea Party movement emerged from an unusual alliance of young Internet-savvy conservatives and older people alarmed at a country they no longer recognize. The movement is the latest manifestation of a long history of conservative discontent in America, breeding on a distrust of government that is older than the nation itself. But the Tea Partiers' grievances are rooted in the present, a response to the election of the nation's first black president and to the far-reaching government intervention that followed the economic crisis of 2008-2009. Though they are better educated and better off than most other Americans, they remain deeply pessimistic about the economy and the direction of the country.

Zernike introduces us to the first Tea Partier, a nose-pierced young teacher who lives in Seattle with her fiancé, an Obama supporter. We listen in on what Tea Partiers learn about the Constitution, which they embrace as the backbone of their political philosophy. We see how young conservatives, who model their organization on the Grateful Dead, mobilize a new set of activists several decades their elder. And we watch as suburban mothers, who draw their inspiration from MoveOn and other icons of the Left, plot to upend the Republican Party in a swing district outside Philadelphia.

The Tea Party movement has energized a lot of voters, but it has polarized the electorate, too. Agree or disagree, we must understand this movement to understand American politics in 2010 and beyond.

About the Author
Kate Zernike is a national correspondent for The New York Times and was a member of the team that shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. She has covered education, Congress, and four national elections for the Times and was previously a reporter for The Boston Globe. She lives with her family outside New York City.

Excerpt. © All rights reserved.
Honestly, it was hard not to stop at the spectacle on Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington, where several thousand Americans had gathered to celebrate their anger on a perfect spring day. There was Representative Michele Bachmann, conservative darling and all Minnesota nice, cheerfully raging against "gangster government." "Two years from now, Barack Obama is a one-term president!" she taunted, the words echoing off the surrounding walls. There was the rapper performing a Tea Party anthem, the former Saturday Night Live star singing a song called "A Communist in the White House." It was easy just to scan the now-familiar signs—BARACK HUSSEIN HITLER, GO BACK TO KENYA—and conclude that you had seen all you needed to know.

But to truly understand the Tea Party, to understand how these protesters with goofy hats and "Don't Tread on Me" flags had become a political force powerful enough to confound a new administration and unhinge the Republican Party, you had to cross Pennsylvania Avenue and head down a steep escalator to a small auditorium inside the Ronald Reagan Building. Watch a crowd of a few hundred, dressed mostly in the sneakers-and-Dockers uniform of the typical older tourist, sitting rapt as a panel of conservative activists in their twenties explained how to take over the country. It was Tax Day 2010, and these Tea Partiers young and old were marking it with a seminar that blended modern managerial advice and leftist organizing tactics.

At the podium stood Brendan Steinhauser, a twenty-eight-year-old college football‚Äìloving Texan who had voted for Ron Paul in 2008 and could quote from the classics of Austrian economic theory but included among his heroes Bayard Rustin, the gay black civil rights leader who conceived the 1963 March on Washington most remembered for Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The Tea Party movement had started out small, Steinhauser told the crowd, in the hundreds, but now, some polls showed that 25 percent of Americans supported it—remarkable growth in just one year. That percentage could reach fifty-one, he said, but he needed the help of the people in this room. "It's got to be a prime focus of what you do," he urged. "If you have twenty-five people there on your first monthly meeting, you should shoot for fifty, ask everyone to bring a friend. Try to set goals for yourself, set out where you want to be at the next meeting. Only if we focus on our numbers, check ourselves against other groups, are we going to get there."

There were two books every person in the room should read, Steinhauser said, repeating the titles twice, because most everyone was taking avid notes: Dedication and Leadership by Douglas Hyde and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The first, he explained, outlined how the Communist Party recruited in Great Britain, the second would help them understand the marketing of social phenomena—sneakers, but also ideas. "If you read those two books and apply the lessons and tactics learned in those," Steinhauser said, "I think you're really going to help yourself and really become a true community organizer."

"Uh-oh," someone said loudly. Others groaned.

"Don't reject that label! Embrace that label!" Steinhauser insisted. "True community organizers are what this movement is all made of. We don't like that term because now we have a Community Organizer-in-Chief who got his lessons from Saul Alinsky. I say, let's read Saul Alinsky, let's read Rules for Radicals, and let's use it against them!"

The crowd was his again. "Yeah!" people cheered, sustaining their applause.

"Do we need to do better to reach into new communities? Absolutely," Steinhauser continued, looking out at the sea of faces, almost all of them white. "I encourage all of you: recruit in the cities, the inner cities, in the suburbs, in the rural areas, in the barrios. It doesn't matter, wherever you live, wherever your neighbors are, get them involved and then go to some other part of town and get people involved who maybe you don't know. Maybe they're not in your social circle, they don't go to your church. You need to go and get to know these people and let them know that this is the kind of movement that welcomes everyone, that encourages everyone to participate. Only if we do that can we reach our goals." As the crowd cheered, he pressed on: don't give up on the apathetic, the people who voted for the Democrats. "Maybe they voted for Nancy Pelosi the first time, maybe they've had a little buyer's remorse," he said. "But don't write them off. Go out there, recruit people, bring new blood, new faces into the movement. Focus on that. There is nothing more powerful that we can do for this movement than to go out there and recruit our friends and families and strangers to become a part of it."

The contrast was striking: the panelists on stage were baby-faced despite their suits and stylized stubble, while the people in the audience were "seasoned," as one young panelist gently put it—twice their age or more. When one young speaker mentioned the importance of using social media like YouTube, an older woman with a drugstore disposable camera and a flag brooch wrote down carefully "U2."

But this was how the movement had grown, this mashup of young and old, abhorring the left but learning from it. It was what made it so contradictory, and so combustible.

Loosely assembled and suspicious of anyone claiming to be its leader, the Tea Party had allowed the rallies and the signs to serve as the public face of the movement. But to stop at what you saw there was to miss what the Tea Party was, and how it had swiftly burrowed its way into American life and wiped out the promise of a postpartisan politics that had accompanied the election of President Obama in 2008.

Its critics dismissed the Tea Party as "Astroturf," looking like a grassroots movement but actually fake and manufactured by big interest groups. Puppets of the Republican Party, they said. Cranky old conservatives hung up on abortion and gay marriage, now upset that a black man they didn't think was a citizen was living in the White House. Who could take seriously people who wore tricornered hats and inveighed against the Communist threat twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall? It was all a media creation. Just ignore them; they'll go away.

Certainly the Tea Party had been fertilized by well-connected Washington groups like FreedomWorks, where Steinhauser worked, and also by Glenn Beck, the newest star at the Fox News Channel, who created his own brand of Tea Party by calling for his fans to join "9/12 groups," which were to return the country to the unity of purpose it felt in the days after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. But even aside from these well-connected supporters, the Tea Party was an authentic popular movement, brought on by anger over the economy and distrust of government—at all levels, and in both parties.

It certainly had its fringe elements: the birthers insisting that President Obama was a Kenyan-born Muslim infiltrator, the people carrying posters of Obama as a witch doctor, those who insisted the federal government was going to sequester its citizens in reeducation camps. As some Tea Partiers clamored for states' rights, it was impossible to ignore the echo of the southern segregationists from the 1950s and 1960s—little surprise that the movement had failed to attract nonwhites in proportion to their numbers in the country at large. Still, this fringe did not define the Tea Party.

Nor could you explain it as simple partisan politics. While most Tea Partiers were Republicans, they were fighting hand-to-hand with the party establishment in places like Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Colorado, and Arizona, by mounting primary challenges to establishment candidates once considered sure to win, and seeking to take over the Republican Party in much the way that Barack Obama's presidential campaign had won the 2008 Democratic primaries, by sending supporters out to become captains of their local voting precincts. By the spring of 2010, many of the most active Tea Party organizers regarded the rallies the way casual Protestants do church on Christmas and Easter—the perfunctory appearances. They were too busy operating as a kind of shadow party, hosting candidate forums and meeting with officials—Democrats as well as Republicans—who solicited their opinions and sought their blessing. They were planning not just for the midterm elections that fall, but for the long term. And this wasn't just in off-the-grid Idaho or the Deep South. The Tea Party was everywhere—along the Eastern Seaboard, which Barry Goldwater said in the early 1960s he would saw off because there were no votes for conservatives there, and in swing districts where elections that determined control of Congress were often decided by a thousand or so votes and where presidential candidates fought every four years for the fickle middle ground.

To dismiss the grassroots popularity of the Tea Party movement was to discount the panic set off by the Great Recession, the growing anger about the staggering debt and the bailouts of carmakers, insurance companies, and the banks that had made it possible for people to buy houses they could not afford. It was to ignore the widespread and growing distrust not just of government, but of all the establishments Americans once trusted unquestioningly: doctors, banks, schools, the media. And it was to forget the opposition that had greeted attempts to overhaul the nation's health care system—or really, any ambitious progressive agenda since the 1930s—and the cycling of conservative insurgencies within the Republican Party. The Tea Party was not going away; in one form or another, it had been with us for a long time.

How big was it? In April 2010, fourteen months after the first Tea Party rallies, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that 18 percent of Americans defined themselves as "supporters" of the movement....

The Whites of Their Eyes:
The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History

Jill Lepore is a national treasure. There is no other writer so at home both as a trenchant scholar of American history and as an on-the-scene observer of our present-day follies. She etches the connection between past and present with a wisdom, grace, and sparkle that makes this book even harder to put down--if that's possible--than her previous work.
(Adam Hochschild, author of Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves)

Product Description
Americans have always put the past to political ends. The Union laid claim to the Revolution--so did the Confederacy. Civil rights leaders said they were the true sons of liberty--so did Southern segregationists. This book tells the story of the centuries-long struggle over the meaning of the nation's founding, including the battle waged by the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and evangelical Christians to "take back America."

Jill Lepore, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, offers a wry and bemused look at American history according to the far right, from the "rant heard round the world," which launched the Tea Party, to the Texas School Board's adoption of a social-studies curriculum that teaches that the United States was established as a Christian nation. Along the way, she provides rare insight into the eighteenth-century struggle for independence--the real one, that is. Lepore traces the roots of the far right's reactionary history to the bicentennial in the 1970s, when no one could agree on what story a divided nation should tell about its unruly beginnings. Behind the Tea Party's Revolution, she argues, lies a nostalgic and even heartbreaking yearning for an imagined past--a time less troubled by ambiguity, strife, and uncertainty--a yearning for an America that never was.

The Whites of Their Eyes reveals that the far right has embraced a narrative about America's founding that is not only a fable but is also, finally, a variety of fundamentalism--anti-intellectual, antihistorical, and dangerously antipluralist.

About the Author
Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at the New Yorker. Her books include New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, winner of the Bancroft Prize.

Invisible Hands:
The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Looking beyond the usual roster of right-wing Christians, anticommunist neo-cons and disgruntled working-class whites, this incisive study examines the unsung role of a political movement of businessmen in leading America's post-1960s rightward turn. Historian Phillips-Fein traces the hidden history of the Reagan revolution to a coterie of business executives, including General Electric official and Reagan mentor Lemuel Boulware, who saw labor unions, government regulation, high taxes and welfare spending as dire threats to their profits and power. From the 1930s onward, the author argues, they provided the money, organization and fervor for a decades-long war against New Deal liberalism—funding campaigns, think tanks, magazines and lobbying groups, and indoctrinating employees in the virtues of unfettered capitalism. Theirs was also a battle of ideas, she contends; the business vanguard nurtured conservative thinkers like economist Friedrich von Hayek and his secretive Mont Pellerin Society associates, who developed a populist free-market ideology that persuaded workers to side with their bosses against the liberal state. Combining piquant profiles of corporate firebrands with a trenchant historical analysis that puts economic conflict at the heart of political change, Phillips-Fein makes an important contribution to our understanding of American conservatism. Photos. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist
Although many books have been written about American conservatism, most concern its cultural or political manifestations, and almost all bring bias to the subject. The contribution of Phillips-Fein to this literature is distinctive in two respects: she maintains neutrality and produces original research on American business executives and public-relations specialists who created conservative organizations from 1933 to 1980. Although scholarly in tone (her work originated as a dissertation), the book is highly readable for its absorbing historical background about contemporary conservative advocacy outfits, such as the American Enterprise Institute. In their variety of characters and degrees of indignation about the iniquities of the New Deal and its descendants, the individuals introduced range from the reasonable to the strange, which enlivens a narrative of free-market conservatism’s incubation in the 1940s and 1950s. Detecting a union-busting agenda behind the liberty-proclaiming rhetoric of business leaders, Phillips-Fein nevertheless allows them a fair hearing about their roles in, ultimately, the electoral victory of Ronald Reagan in 1980. A valuable addition to the history of conservatism. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Starred Review. Combining piquant profiles of corporate firebrands with a trenchant historical analysis...Phillips-Fein makes an important contribution to our understanding of American conservatism. (Publishers Weekly)

Starred Review. Engaging history from a talented new scholarly voice. (Kirkus Reviews)

Product Description
“A compelling and readable story of resistance to the new economic order.”—Boston Globe

Invisible Hands tells the story of how a small group of American businessmen succeeded in building a political movement. Long before the “culture wars” of the 1960s sparked the Republican backlash against cultural liberalism, these high-powered individuals actively resisted New Deal economics and sought to educate and organize their peers. Kim Phillips-Fein recounts the little-known efforts of men such as W. C. Mullendore, Leonard Read, and Jasper Crane, drawing on meticulous research and narrative gifts to craft a compelling history of the role of big and small business in American politics—and a blueprint for anyone who wants insight into the way that money has been used to create political change. 16 black-and-white photos

About the Author
Kim Phillips-Fein won the Bancroft Dissertation Prize for her research on Invisible Hands. She has written for The Nation, The Baffler, and many other publications. She is an assistant professor at the Gallatin School of New York University and lives in New York City.

Washington Rules:
America's Path to Permanent War

From Publishers Weekly
U.S. Army colonel turned academic, Bacevich (The Limits of Power) offers an unsparing, cogent, and important critique of assumptions guiding American military policy. These central tenets, the "Washington rules"--such as the belief that the world order depends on America maintaining a massive military capable of rapid and forceful interventions anywhere in the world--have dominated national security policy since the start of the cold war and have condemned the U.S. to "insolvency and perpetual war." Despite such disasters as America's defeat in Vietnam and the Cuban missile crisis, the self-perpetuating policy is so entrenched that no president or influential critic has been able to alter it. Bacevich argues that while the Washington rules found their most pernicious expression in the Bush doctrine of preventive war, Barack Obama's expansion of the Afghan War is also cause for pessimism: "We should be grateful to him for making at least one thing unmistakably clear: to imagine that Washington will ever tolerate second thoughts about the Washington rules is to engage in willful self-deception. Washington itself has too much to lose."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* The U.S. spends more on the military than the entire rest of the world combined and maintains 300,000 troops abroad in an “empire of bases,” all part of a credo of global leadership and a consensus that the U.S. must maintain a state of semiwar. The Washington consensus, across administrations dating back to the cold war, is that the world must be organized in alignment with American principles, even if it means using force. Bacevich, with background in the military at the rank of retired army colonel and the perspective afforded by academia, offers a vivid and critical analysis of the assumptions behind the credo of global leadership and eternal military vigilance that has become increasingly expensive and unsustainable. He details American misadventures from the Bay of Pigs to the invasion in Iraq, and the most prominent figures (“semiwarriors par excellence”) behind the credo, notably Allen Dulles, director of the CIA in the 1950s, and Curtis LeMay, director of the Strategic Air Command during the same period. The credo of global leadership and hyper-militarism is so ingrained and resilient in the U.S. psyche that it survived even the doubts that surfaced after the miserable failure of U.S. military might in Vietnam. Whatever their party or philosophy, all presidents want to project an image of toughness that has made them vulnerable to the credo, at great cost in American dollars and lives. Bacevich challenges Washington (the president, Congress, and the military industrial complex) as well as citizens to rethink the credo that has directed national security for generations. --Vanessa Bush

"Eloquent and, above all, passionate. . . Any serious foreign-policy thinker should heed his call."

"Engaging and insightful. . . A timely analysis and critique of contemporary and historical defense policies. His writing style is anything but wonkish, and he is great at the clever turn of phrase. . . . Thought provoking."
The Washington Times

"Vivid and critical analysis of the assumptions behind the credo of global leadership and eternal military vigilance that has become increasingly expensive and unsustainable. . . . Bacevich challenges Washington (the president, Congress, and the military industrial complex) as well as citizens to rethink the credo that has directed national security for generations."
Booklist (starred review)

"Valiant. . . Discards long-held 'habits of conformity,' rethinking America's mission abroad. . . Welcome thinking by a former military man who has seen the light."

"An unsparing, cogent, and important critique of assumptions guiding American military policy."
Publishers Weekly

“To say that Washington Rules is a breath of fresh air in the debate over U.S. foreign policy would be like comparing a zephyr to a hurricane. Writing with Force-Five fury, Andrew Bacevich lays bare the dogmas and shibboleths that have animated national security doctrine for the last half century and produced an Orwellian nightmare of permanent war in the name of permanent peace. This passionate, often discomforting book brings rare clarity to a subject of urgent importance for all Americans.”
—David M. Kennedy, author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

“Against a national strategy gone astray, Bacevich offers a unique combination of rigorous analysis and emotion-powered protest. May it be widely read, may it disenthrall us from the academic generals, militant academics, and cynical politicians who insist that we must invest blood and treasure in mud-brick Afghan villages, while China invests in advanced technology.”
—Edward N. Luttwak author of The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire

Washington Rules is the author's shorthand for the American conviction that we always represent the good and the pure in international affairs. His powerful book clearly demonstrates how threadbare this idea has become.”
—Chalmers Johnson, author of the Blowback Trilogy and Dismantling the Empire

“The hard-earned insights of this veteran, analyst, insider, and parent will resonate with people across the political spectrum and offer a serious, riveting, and authentically personal critique of U.S. power.”
—Amy Goodman, host and executive producer, Democracy Now!

“Bacevich presents compelling and alarming evidence that our nation is locked into a counterproductive global military presence sustained by power projection and interventionism by military force. A must-read for all those concerned with America’s future.”
—Lt. General (USA, Ret.) Robert G. Gard, Jr., PhD

Washington Rules dissects the convictions that have turned the United States into a warrior nation—a country devoted to military solutions that do little, if anything, to enhance its security or advance the well-being of its citizens or the foreign peoples on whom we inflict our illusory benevolence. A brilliant historian’s analysis of what ails America, this book should be read by every national officeholder and and by all who care about America’s future safety and prosperity.”
—Robert Dallek, author of The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953

Washington Rules exposes well-entrenched assumptions that for decades have underlain ineffective and costly U.S. policies. Bacevich shines a bright light on the meaning of national security and what it requires, while addressing fundamental but long-ignored questions about America's place in the world and the role of military power.”
—Paul R. Pillar author of Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy

Product Description
The bestselling author of The Limits of Power critically examines the Washington consensus on national security and why it must change

For the last half century, as administrations have come and gone, the fundamental assumptions about America's military policy have remained unchanged: American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, to prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and to be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. In the Obama era, just as in the Bush years, these beliefs remain unquestioned gospel.

In a vivid, incisive analysis, Andrew J. Bacevich succinctly presents the origins of this consensus, forged at a moment when American power was at its height. He exposes the preconceptions, biases, and habits that underlie our pervasive faith in military might, especially the notion that overwhelming superiority will oblige others to accommodate America's needs and desires—whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods. And he challenges the usefulness of our militarism as it has become both unaffordable and increasingly dangerous.

Though our politicians deny it, American global might is faltering. This is the moment, Bacevich argues, to reconsider the principles which shape American policy in the world—to acknowledge that fixing Afghanistan should not take precedence over fixing Detroit. Replacing this Washington consensus is crucial to America's future, and may yet offer the key to the country's salvation.

About the Author
Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of colonel. He is the author of The Limits of Power and The New American Militarism. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He is the recipient of a Lannan Award and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Excerpt. © All rights reserved.
Introduction: Slow Learner

Worldly ambition inhibits true learning. Ask me. I know. A young man in a hurry is nearly uneducable: He knows what he wants and where he's headed; when it comes to looking back or entertaining heretical thoughts, he has neither the time nor the inclination. All that counts is that he is going somewhere. Only as ambition wanes does education become a possibility.

My own education did not commence until I had reached middle age. I can fix its start date with precision: For me, education began in Berlin, on a winter's evening, at the Brandenburg Gate, not long after the Berlin Wall had fallen.

As an officer in the U.S. Army I had spent considerable time in Germany. Until that moment, however, my family and I had never had occasion to visit this most famous of German cities, still littered with artifacts of a deeply repellent history. At the end of a long day of exploration, we found ourselves in what had, until just months before, been the communist East. It was late and we were hungry, but I insisted on walking the length of the Unter den Linden, from the River Spree to the gate itself. A cold rain was falling and the pavement glistened. The buildings lining the avenue, dating from the era of Prussian kings, were dark, dirty, and pitted. Few people were about. It was hardly a night for sightseeing.

For as long as I could remember, the Brandenburg Gate had been the preeminent symbol of the age and Berlin the epicenter of contemporary history. Yet by the time I made it to the once and future German capital, history was already moving on. The Cold War had abruptly ended. A divided city and a divided nation had re united.

For Americans who had known Berlin only from a distance, the city existed primarily as a metaphor. Pick a date— 1933, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1961, 1989—and Berlin becomes an instructive symbol of power, depravity, tragedy, defiance, endurance, or vindication. For those inclined to view the past as a chronicle of parables, the modern history of Berlin offered an abundance of material. The greatest of those parables emerged from the events of 1933 to 1945, an epic tale of evil ascendant, belatedly confronted, then heroically overthrown. A second narrative, woven from events during the intense period immediately following World War II, saw hopes for peace dashed, yielding bitter antagonism but also great resolve. The ensuing stand-off—the "long twilight struggle," in John Kennedy's memorable phrase— formed the centerpiece of the third parable, its central theme stubborn courage in the face of looming peril. Finally came the exhilarating events of 1989, with freedom ultimately prevailing, not only in Berlin, but throughout Eastern Europe.

What exactly was I looking for at the Brandenburg Gate? Perhaps confirmation that those parables, which I had absorbed and accepted as true, were just that. Whatever I expected, what I actually found was a cluster of shabby- looking young men, not German, hawking badges, medallions, hats, bits of uniforms, and other artifacts of the mighty Red Army. It was all junk, cheaply made and shoddy. For a handful of deutsche marks, I bought a wristwatch emblazoned with the symbol of the Soviet armored corps. Within days, it ceased to work.

Huddling among the scarred columns, those peddlers— almost certainly off-duty Russian soldiers awaiting redeployment home—constituted a subversive presence. They were loose ends of a story that was supposed to have ended neatly when the Berlin Wall came down. As we hurried off to find warmth and a meal, this disconcerting encounter stuck with me, and I began to entertain this possibility: that the truths I had accumulated over the previous twenty years as a professional soldier—especially truths about the Cold War and U.S. foreign policy— might not be entirely true.

By temperament and upbringing, I had always taken comfort in orthodoxy. In a life spent subject to authority, deference had become a deeply ingrained habit. I found assurance in conventional wisdom. Now, I started, however hesitantly, to suspect that orthodoxy might be a sham. I began to appreciate that authentic truth is never simple and that any version of truth handed down from on high— whether by presidents, prime ministers, or archbishops— is inherently suspect. The powerful, I came to see, reveal truth only to the extent that it suits them. Even then, the truths to which they testify come wrapped in a nearly invisible filament of dissembling, deception, and duplicity. The exercise of power necessarily involves manipulation and is antithetical to candor.

I came to these obvious points embarrassingly late in life. "Nothing is so astonishing in education," the historian Henry Adams once wrote, "as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts."1 Until that moment I had too often confused education with accumulating and cataloging facts. In Berlin, at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate, I began to realize that I had been a navØf. And so, at age forty-one, I set out, in a halting and haphazard fashion, to acquire a genuine education.

Twenty years later I've made only modest progress. This book provides an accounting of what I have learned thus far.


In October 1990, I'd gotten a preliminary hint that something might be amiss in my prior education. On October 3, communist East Germany—formally the German Democratic Republic (GDR)—ceased to exist and German reunification was officially secured. That very week I accompanied a group of American military officers to the city of Jena in what had been the GDR. Our purpose was self-consciously educational— to study the famous battle of Jena-Auerstädt in which Napoleon Bonaparte and his marshals had inflicted an epic defeat on Prussian forces commanded by the Duke of Brunswick. (The outcome of that 1806 battle inspired the philosopher Hegel, then residing in Jena, to declare that the "end of history" was at hand. The conclusion of the Cold War had only recently elicited a similarly exuberant judgment from the American scholar Francis Fukuyama.)

On this trip we did learn a lot about the conduct of that battle, although mainly inert facts possessing little real educational value. Inadvertently, we also gained insight into the reality of life on the far side of what Americans had habitually called the Iron Curtain, known in U.S. military vernacular as "the trace." In this regard, the trip proved nothing less than revelatory. The educational content of this excursion would— for me—be difficult to exaggerate.

As soon as our bus crossed the old Inner German Border, we entered a time warp. For U.S. troops garrisoned throughout Bavaria and Hesse, West Germany had for decades served as a sort of theme park—a giant Epcot filled with quaint villages, stunning scenery, and superb highways, along with ample supplies of quite decent food, excellent beer, and accommodating women. Now, we found ourselves face-to-face with an altogether different Germany. Although commonly depicted as the most advanced and successful component of the Soviet Empire, East Germany more closely resembled part of the undeveloped world.

The roads—even the main highways—were narrow and visibly crumbling. Traffic posed little problem. Apart from a few sluggish Trabants and Wartburgs—East German automobiles that tended to a retro primitivism—and an occasional exhaust-spewing truck, the way was clear. The villages through which we passed were forlorn and the small farms down at the heels. For lunch we stopped at a roadside stand. The proprietor happily accepted our D-marks, offering us inedible sausages in exchange. Although the signs assured us that we remained in a land of German speakers, it was a country that had not yet recovered from World War II.

Upon arrival in Jena, we checked into the Hotel Schwarzer Bär, identified by our advance party as the best hostelry in town. It turned out to be a rundown fleabag. As the senior officer present, I was privileged to have a room in which the plumbing functioned. Others were not so lucky.

Jena itself was a midsized university city, with its main academic complex immediately opposite our hotel. A very large bust of Karl Marx, mounted on a granite pedestal and badly in need of cleaning, stood on the edge of the campus.

Briquettes of soft coal used for home heating made the air all but unbreathable and coated everything with soot. In the German cities we knew, pastels predominated—houses and apartment blocks painted pale green, muted salmon, and soft yellow. Here everything was brown and gray.

That evening we set out in search of dinner. The restaurants within walking distance were few and unattractive. We chose badly, a drab establishment in which fresh vegetables were unavailable and the wurst inferior. The adequacy of the local beer provided the sole consolation.

The following morning, on the way to the battlefield, we noted a significant Soviet military presence, mostly in the form of trucks passing by— to judge by their appearance, designs that dated from the 1950s. To our surprise, we discovered that the Soviets had established a small training area adjacent to where Napoleon had vanquished the Prussians. Although we had orders to avoid contact with any Russians, the presence of their armored troops going through their paces riveted us. Here was something of far greater immediacy than Bonaparte and the Duke of Brunswick: "the other," about which we had for so long heard so much but knew so little. Through binoculars, we watched a column of Russian armored vehicles— BMPs, in NATO parlance— traversing what appeared to be a drivers' training course. Suddenly, one of them began spewing smoke. Soon thereafter, it burst into flames.

Here was education, although at the time I had only the vaguest sense of its significance.


These visits to Jena and Berlin offered glimpses of a reality radically at odds with my mos...

Dismantling the Empire:
America's Last Best Hope

Product Description
The author of the bestselling Blowback Trilogy reflects on America's waning power in a masterful collection of essays

In his prophetic book Blowback, published before 9/11, Chalmers Johnson warned that our secret operations in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe would exact a price at home. Now, in a brilliant series of essays written over the last three years, Johnson measures that price and the resulting dangers America faces. Our reliance on Pentagon economics, a global empire of bases, and war without end is, he declares, nothing short of "a suicide option."

Dismantling the Empire explores the subjects for which Johnson is now famous, from the origins of blowback to Barack Obama's Afghanistan conundrum, including our inept spies, our bad behavior in other countries, our ill-fought wars, and our capitulation to a military that has taken ever more control of the federal budget. There is, he proposes, only one way out: President Obama must begin to dismantle the empire before the Pentagon dismantles the American Dream. If we do not learn from the fates of past empires, he suggests, our decline and fall are foreordained. This is Johnson at his best: delivering both a warning and an urgent prescription for a remedy.

About the Author
Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, is the author of the bestselling books Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis, which make up his Blowback Trilogy. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, the London Review of Books, Harper's Magazine, The Nation, and TomDispatch.com. He lives near San Diego, California.

Excerpt. © All rights reserved.


During the last years of the Clinton administration I was in my mid-sixties, retired from teaching Asian international relations at the University of California and deeply bored by my specialty, Japanese politics. It seemed that Japan would continue forever as a docile satellite of the United States, a safe place to park tens of thousands of American troops, as well as ships and aircraft , all ready to assert American hegemony over the entire Pacific region. I was then in the process of rethinking my research and determining where I should go next.

At the time, one aspect of the Clinton administration especially worried me. In the aftermath of the breakup and disappearance of the Soviet Union, U.S. officials seemed unbearably complacent about America's global ascendancy. They were visibly bathed in a glow of post–Cold War triumphalism. It was hard to avoid their high-decibel assertions that our country was "unique" in history, their insistence that we were now, and for the imaginable future, the "lone superpower" or, in the words of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, "the indispensable nation." The implication was that we would be so for an eternity. If ever there was a self- satisfied country that seemed headed for a rude awakening, it was the United States.

I became concerned as well that we were taking for granted the goodwill of so many nations, even as we incautiously ran up a tab of insults to the rest of the world. What I couldn't quite imagine was that President Clinton's arrogance and his administration's risk taking—the 1998 cruise missile attack on the al- Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, Sudan, for instance, or the 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, during the Kosovo war—might presage an existential crisis for the nation. Our stance toward the rest of the world certainly seemed reckless to me, but not in itself of overwhelming significance. We were, after all, the world's richest nation, even if we were delusional in assuming that our wealth would be a permanent condition. We were also finally at peace (more or less) after a long period, covering much of the twentieth century, in which we had been engaged in costly, deadly wars.

As I quietly began to worry, it crossed my mind that we in the United States had long taken all of Asia for granted, despite the fact that we had fought three wars there, only one of which we had won. My fears grew that the imperial tab we were running up would come due sooner than any of us had expected, and that payment might be sought in ways both unexpected and deeply unnerving. In this mood, I began to write a book of analysis that was also meant as a warning, and for a title I drew on a term of CIA tradecraft. I called it Blowback.

The book's reception on publication in 2000 might serve as a reasonable gauge of the overconfident mood of the country. It was generally ignored and, where noted and commented upon, rejected as the oddball thoughts of a formerly eminent Japan specialist. I was therefore less shocked than most when, as the Clinton years ended, we Americans made a serious mistake that helped turn what passed for fringe prophecy into stark reality. We let George W. Bush take the White House.

He was a man superficially well enough qualified to be president. The governor of a populous state, he had also been the recipient of one of the best—or, in any case, most expensive—educations available to an American. Yale College and Harvard Business School might have seemed like a guarantee against a sophomoric ignoramus occupying the highest office in the land, but contrary to most expectations that was precisely what we got. The American public did not actually elect him, of course. He was, in the end, appointed to the highest office in the land by a conservative cabal of Supreme Court justices in what certainly qualified as one of the most bizarre moments in the history of American politics.

During his eight reckless years as president, Bush, his vice president Dick Cheney, his secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the other neoconservative and right-wing officials he appointed, war-lovers all, drove the country as close to the precipice as was humanly possible. After the attacks of 9/11, he would have been wise to treat al-Qaeda as the criminal organization it was. Instead, he launched two wars of aggression in close succession against Iraq and Afghanistan. The irony was that had he done absolutely nothing, the political situations in both countries would likely have resolved themselves, given time, in ways tolerable for us and our allies based on the constellation of forces at work in each place. Instead, his policies entrenched Shia Muslims in Iraq, repeated all the mistakes of other foreign invaders—particularly the British and more recently the Russians—in Afghanistan, and enhanced the power of Iran in the Persian Gulf region.

As a result of his ill-informed and bungling strategic moves, President Bush left our armed forces seriously depleted, with worn-out equipment, badly misused human resources, and staggering medical (and thus financial) obligations to thousands of young Americans suffering from disabling wounds, including those inflicted on their minds. Meanwhile, our high command, which went into Afghanistan and Iraq stuck in the land war doctrines of World War II but filled with dreamy, high-tech, "netcentric" fantasies, is now mired in the failed counterinsurgency doctrine of the Vietnam era. That's what evidently passes for progress in the Pentagon these days. Its officials still have hardly a clue as to how to deal with nonstate actors like al-Qaeda.

At the same time, the Bush administration paved the way for, and then presided over, a close to catastrophic economic and financial collapse that skirted national and international insolvency. Fueled by huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, profligate spending on two wars (as well as future wars and the weaponry to fight them), the appointment of Republican ideologues to critical positions of trust, and accounting and management practices that exacerbated just about every other problem, the Bush administration plunged us into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

As if these failures weren't bad enough, during Bush's tenure the armed forces were authorized to torture Muslims captured virtually anywhere on earth; the Department of Justice turned a blind eye to the clandestine electronic surveillance of the general public; and the Central Intelligence Agency was given carte blanche to kidnap terror suspects in other countries and transfer them to regimes where they could be interrogated under torture, as well as to assassinate supposed terror suspects just about anywhere on the planet. From Afghanistan and Iraq to Lithuania, Thailand, and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the United States set up an offshore system of (in)justice, including "black sites" (secret CIA prisons) that put many of its most outrageous acts beyond oversight or the reach of the law—any law. In the meantime, the United States also withdrew from many important international treaties, including the one banning the production of antiballistic missiles.

The history books will certainly record that George W. Bush was likely the single worst president in the history of the American republic. Nonetheless, they will also point out that he merely accelerated trends long under way, particularly our devotion to militarism and our dependence on the military-industrial complex.

In 2008, faced with a truly dysfunctional government, the American people unexpectedly demonstrated that they got the message. The presidential candidacy of Barack Obama reignited a long-dormant idealism, particularly among those who believed, on the basis of their own lives, that the political system had been rigged against them. The national outpouring of enthusiasm for this African American presidential candidate led many around the world to believe that the American people were ready to abandon their infatuation with imperialism. They assumed that we were exhibiting a desire for genuine reform before the trends of the Clinton-Bush years became irreversible.

During his campaign Barack Obama promised to close our extrajudicial detention camp at Guantánamo Bay; restore legally sanctioned practices, particularly within the Department of Justice; provide nearly all citizens with health insurance and other life support systems that are routine in most advanced industrial democracies; take global warming seriously; and implement any number of laws that were being honored only in the breach, including those protecting personal privacy. Obama's proposed reform program was massive, long overdue, and popularly welcomed.

Conspicuously absent from this lengthy agenda, however, was one significant sector of American life. Only those of us who had long watched this area noted Obama's silence and were alarmed for what it suggested about his future presidency. This omission concerned the massive apparatus that enables what I have called our global "empire of bases" to exist and function. In the campaign, he said little about the armed forces (other than that he would like to expand the Army and Marines), the military- industrial complex, the Pentagon's failure to account properly for the vast sums it spends, the growing clandestine role of our proliferating intelligence services, or the subcontracting of extremely sensitive national security tasks to the private sector.

Given the degree to which, as this book emphasizes, the Pentagon and the powerful forces that surround it have played such a crucial role in leading this country to the edge, this campaign omission was anything but auspicious. It is undoubtedly true that a presidential candidate determined to take on these forces might have had a difficult time cutting the Pentagon, the "intelligence community," and the military-industrial complex down to size. Unfortunately, Obama did not even try. The ev...