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Sunday, May 24th

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Chris Hedges: Killing Ragheads for Jesus

American Sniper“American Sniper” lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society—the gun culture, the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate right as a “Christian” nation to exterminate the “lesser breeds” of the earth, a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of critical thinking and artistic expression.

Many Americans, especially white Americans trapped in a stagnant economy and a dysfunctional political system, yearn for the supposed moral renewal and rigid, militarized control the movie venerates. These passions, if realized, will extinguish what is left of our now-anemic open society.

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The real American Sniper was a hate-filled killer. Why are simplistic patriots treating him as a hero?

Bradley Cooper as American SniperI have to confess: I was suckered by the trailer for American Sniper. It’s a masterpiece of short-form tension – a confluence of sound and image so viscerally evocative it feels almost domineering. You cannot resist. You will be stressed out. You will feel. Or, as I believe I put it in a blog about the trailer, “Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper trailer will ruin your pants.”

But however effective it is as a piece of cinema, even a cursory look into the film’s backstory – and particularly the public reaction to its release – raises disturbing questions about which stories we choose to codify into truth, and whose, and why, and the messy social costs of transmogrifying real life into entertainment.

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Alex Baer: The Humble Spud, Global Lifesaver

Humble spudAny loose familiarity with current events, whether from last week or on back to 1492, and it's difficult to remain feeling upbeat and not beat up.

There is always terrible news. Things can always get worse of course, but they can't always, automatically, get better -- not using the same downhill-gliding autopilot that Reality tends to use. Rarely is there both good and amazing news. Today, there is some of both -- news that may even turn the world upside down.

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Alex Baer: Arcs, Rings, and Running Out of Mario

TimeNo more timely time to consider Time itself than right around the time we all make the consensual, arbitrary, stolid-but-capricious agreement to watch every midnight tick of the clock one night a year and swap out calendars, jumping from one felled tree to another in the roaring river of Time, as we log-drivers all shoot the mandatory rapids, trying to balance, stay upright, not get soaked or knocked in the drink, not get socked in the head by something large, unyielding, and not likely to stop at skull, once it gets up a head of steam, develops a mind of its own, aimed at our own head-meat.

When alive, those de-limbed trees blitzing the white-water once counted time on an arc far longer than the beings who felled them. Time is more relative than we think -- perhaps more than we can think.

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Alex Baer: Year-Ender Benders and Synapse Slips

year endSo, here we are, just about to be slammed up alongside The Big Day, and I haven't a clue what to get you for the advertised Consumption Festival, for the co-opted Pagan Fest, for the sparkly Celebration of Lights, now that we've turned the corner on the darkest day of the year...

If only we could have already turned the corner on the darkest year in some years, too.

Of course, I suppose we should have all been braced for some fine holiday jeer, once Dick Cheney remorselessly rode back into town, sharing with us his trust-less leer and his lopsided sneer, riding in his throne of delusion, high atop a fetid holiday float constructed of bile and manure, throwing out razor-bladed candies for the kiddies, and certificates of replacement freedoms to be made good some day, drawn up on the backs of harrowing sets of torture photos and memos.

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Bruce Enberg: It's Only Common Sense

Common senseIt's been widely reported that Wall Street bankers won a guarantee of bailouts from Obama's budget. It's true that they did get the 'Push Out Rule' eliminated from the Dodd - Frank Act so that they can continue to use depositors' money to back risky financial instruments. It was junk like derivatives based on collateralized home loans that crashed the banks in 2008. But, this doesn't guarantee the banks themselves will be bailed out, only that the FDIC will pay out the insurance on deposit accounts up to the legal limit.

There were six other provisions attached to the House Bill that would have gutted Dodd - Frank, but thanks to Senator Elizabeth Warren those were all killed. So if the Wall Street banks crash again the FDIC will be able to take a meat ax to them the way they do to smaller banks. That won't keep crooked bankers from sucking billions from them between now and then, but there is such a thing as 'Claw Back' to recover ill gotten gains when this happens. It just depends on who is in charge at the time, President Warren for example could be such a person.

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The Rank, Reeking Horror of Torturing Some Folks

Gitmo prisoners"Let me put it plainly: these people do not belong on my television. They belong in prison, for the crimes of theft, torture and murder. They shattered the lives of thousands of American soldiers and millions of Iraqi civilians. They savaged the American economy paying for it all, and several of them got very rich in the process.

They should be in orange jumpsuits and fetters, picking mealworms out of their gruel while shuttered in very small, very grim, very inescapable metal rooms."

I wrote that back in June of this year because I thought I knew the whole deal. I saw all the pictures from Abu Ghraib, knew about the so-called "Black Sites" where innocent prisoners were sent to be torn apart, read all the books, and listened to the words of those who endured these seven hells and lived. Quite a crowd of people, including several prisoners who cannot be accounted for to this day, did not survive to tell their tale.

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