Antigonish 2021

(With apologies and thanks to William Hughes Mearns.)

Yesterday while on the mall
I saw what mattered not at all;
it doesn’t matter still — don’t call.
And if you say it does … what gall!

In their monuments of stone,
each storied prez now all alone,
George and Abe and Franklin Dee
could hardly give a fig, you see:
“Nine-El-What?” they seem to say.
(Does Congress feel the same today?)

The Times, The Post, the News Mu-see
Agree, agree, agree, agree:
“There’s not a thing that’s new to see,
so just get lost, and leave us be.”

— Mark Channing Miller

It’s About 9/11

This is a blog primarily about 9/11. What follows below is the Rev. Scott Gunn’s selection of a verse from the Bible for the Tuesday of Easter Week and his commentary on it. A priest in the Episcopal Church and executive director of the Forward Movement, Gunn was probably not thinking of 9/11 and its challenges. — MCM

   

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” — Acts 2:37

By Scott Gunn

The Bible is filled with great sermons, and Peter’s in the second chapter of Acts is one of the best. At the end of a very persuasive talk, the crowd is convicted. “What should we do?”

I have been there. Maybe it was a great sermon, an article I read, or a conversation with a wise friend. Like those Israelites, I say to myself, “What should I do?” And then, usually, inertia wins out, and I do nothing. The moment of conviction passes by, and I convince myself the status quo is fine.

What’s different for this crowd in Acts? Throughout the whole book, the Holy Spirit is the center of the show. The crowd listens to and is guided by the power of the Holy Spirit. Too often, we claim the Holy Spirit’s involvement in making us feel better about what we might have done anyway. But when the Spirit’s wind blows, it’s toward something that we could only have done by God’s grace.

3 Obits, 1 Column

As great as I want to become or as great as I think I am, I can always go to the edge of the ocean, stand there and realize I am nothing in comparison with the universe. — Craig muMs Grant

   

I often criticize the New York Times for participating in—leading—the mainstream media’s conspiracy of silence regarding Executive Branch nonsense explanations surrounding the attacks of September 2001. Yet nearly every day exemplary reportage is to be found in its pages. Take today.

Why Not Say What Happened’: That is the title of the last book of the literary critic and cultural historian Morris Dickstein, who died at 81 last Tuesday. Its subtitle is “A Sentimental Education.” Nine-eleven “truthers” such as this blogger immediately think the book just might be about that thing, even by someone as well educated as Dickstein was. His obituary did not indicate that to be the case. But the title of the 2015 book just might be a sly dig at the MSM of this century concerning the crime of it (so far). His Times obituary will send readers looking for a book or two of his or of authors whose works he considered. 

Bamboozled’: That is the title of the 2000 Spike Lee movie that included Craig muMs Grant in its cast. Bamboozled also describes what most of the world was in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and in declining percentages over the years still is. (Although there is no way Lee could have known this.) The actor and playwright muMs died last Wednesday at age 52, reportedly from complications of diabetes. “Strange Fruit” is what he titled his “2003 … spoken-word album … from [the title of] the song about lynchings famously recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939,” the Times reported. HERE is a video of her singing it. muMs’s preferred name stands for “manipulator under Manipulation shhhhhhh!”

“Today,” he told the Baltimore Sun in 2003, “strange fruit means we’re the product of everything Black people have been through in this country — Middle Passage, Jim Crow, segregation. It’s a new way of looking at it. The metaphor of strange fruit means life and birth for me, where it used to mean lynching and death. Blacks have been doing that for years, taking the bad and flipping it, making the best of a bad situation.”

I Feel Victimized’: That is what the lawyer Bretton Sciaroni said in the 1980s of being exposed for “a legal opinion [he] had drawn up as a 35-year-old lawyer in Washington justifying a behind-the-scenes deal in which profits from arms sales to Iran were used to fund the Nicaraguan rebels known as the contras, despite a law severely limiting such assistance,” the Times reported. Sciaroni reportedly died this month at his home in Cambodia, where one of his legal opinions in a more than 30-year career there served to justify Prime Minister Hun Sen’s “seizure of full power in a violent 1997 coup,” the Times reported.

And . . .

My 18 Years in Solitary Confinement’: That’s the headline over the top op-ed column in today’s Times, by guest columnist Ian Manuel. He entered the Florida prison system at age 15 in 1992. He had shot a woman when he was 13 during a robbery in which he was coached by older teenagers. She survived. Manuel, who is black, was charged as an adult. Advised by his court-appointed lawyer to plead guilty, Manuel was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. This highly effective piece of writing on solitary confinement is a taste of what to expect in his forthcoming memoir, My Time Will Come.

It made this blogger think of a prisoner in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp since 2007, the Pakistani citizen Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, currently 55, who is termed “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks” in the 9/11 Commission Report. Presumably much of the time of this al-Qaeda member’s detention there has been spent in solitary confinement; the form of torture called waterboarding has been used in interrogations of Sheikh Mohammed and others. In 2010 the Guantánamo Review Task Force recommended him for prosecution of war crimes. One wonders when his trial will begin, or began, and how much of it will become known to the public.

— Mark Channing Miller

 

 

Power

Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute sent this out on Thursday. It’s from a book he has coming out in September, Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival. (Click on More … for the whole excerpt.) — MCM

   

Understanding PowerBy Richard Heinberg 

Homo sapiens is Earth’s unequivocal champion at gaining and wielding power. We shoot probes to other planets and plumb the depths of the seas. Each year our species extracts and processes 100 billion tons of natural resources that end up as consumer products and building materials. In order to obtain these resources, we move more soil and rock than are displaced by all of nature’s forces combined—including wind, rivers, rain, volcanoes, and earthquakes. We do so much mining, transporting, manufacturing, and waste dumping that, purely as a side effect, we’re also significantly and perilously altering the chemistry of our planet’s atmosphere and oceans. That’s power. More …

Don’t Mention It

We didn’t start this war,” the top editorial in today’s Springfield Republican says about the Afghanistan war. (Emphasis on the first-person plural pronoun added.)

If “we” didn’t, who did?

Why, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Of course Afghanistan did. Specifically, the Taliban did, by hiding Osama bin Laden and his gang.

It says right here: “The al-Qaeda hijackers, under the direction of Osama bin Laden, had trained in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Thus, our response, which began on Oct. 7, 2001.” (Emphasis added.)

“On Sept. 10, 2001, there were few in our nation that gave Afghanistan much thought,” the editorial writer recalls. “A good many, perhaps, couldn’t even have pointed it out on an unlabeled map.” (Emphasis added.)

The editorial doesn’t mention that the Afghanistan war was the first in a string, “but leaving it unfinished, with the nightmare sure to follow, is not a viable option.”

The editorial doesn’t mention that members of al-Qaeda were actually Saudis rather than Afghanis.

The editorial doesn’t mention that Pakistanis could have been useful in finding the al-Qaeda suspects — if indeed “we” wanted to find them.

The editorial doesn’t mention any counter-narrative reporting on the capture and killing in 2011 of someone captured in Pakistan in a Navy Seals operation reputed to have been Osama bin Laden, who reportedly had been living there for years. (Well, Seymour Hersh didn’t win any prizes for the 10,000-word report headlined “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” in a May 2015 issue of the London Review of Books. It’s well worth looking up, though.)

The editorial doesn’t mention that the alleged box-cutter-wielding al-Qaeda operatives who — barely able to fly any airplane — allegedly managed on Sept. 11, 2001, to take over four airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, and, outcrafting civil and military professionals, fly them into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and a side of the Pentagon, killing thousands and causing the Towers and a third WTC skyscraper, Building 7) to neatly collapse into their own three footprints.

The editorial doesn’t mention that the Taliban were formed and trained and equipped in the 1980s in a joint U.S.-Pakistani-Saudi effort to get Soviet forces out of Afghanistan, end Soviet influence there, and help end the Soviet Union itself.

The editorial doesn’t mention any number of inconvenient facts that would conflict with the Executive Branch / mainstream media narrative.

It does start with a paragraph design to enlist readers’ allegiance: “WITHOUT A DEADLINE,” it begins, “A NATION THAT gets itself involved in a military conflict, especially one that’s being waged in some far-flung land, can end up finding itself fighting endless wars. And nobody wants that, right?”

No matter that “deadline” is primarily a newspaper word, and that governments don’t announce deadlines when entering wars. So the very first sentence is a distraction.

Nevertheless, the editorial continues, “that’s the thinking of many people, left and right, who would like to see the U.S. military less involved in overseas battles. And, although the argument would seem to hold water, at least in theory, in many cases it tends to fall to pieces upon consideration of the specifics.”

The editorial feigns understanding of the ignorance and therefore lack of understanding by “many people” who are inconsiderate of specifics.

It then launches patiently into an explanation of why, in the words of its headline (in the Republican’s print edition), “Finishing job isn’t fighting endless war.” The editorial does so with the help of the first-person plural (“we,” “our” or “us”) 17 times, at least once in each remaining paragraph.

We’re all in this together — you, me, people who read Us, people who read People, people who watch “Oprah,” Oprah herself, people who read Foreign Affairs, the editorial writer himself or herself. We’re interested in certain specifics, but not others.

— Mark Channing Miller

‘Look …’

Last Thursday President Biden, standing at a lectern at the White House, spoke to the nation. Here is some of what he said:

“Look, do you know what we have to do … ? Tell the truth. Follow the science. Work together. Put your trust and faith in our government to fill its most important function, which is: protect the American people. No function is more important. We need to remember the government isn’t some foreign force in a distant capital ….”

“Last summer I was in Philadelphia, and I met a small-business owner, a woman. I asked her, I said, ‘What do you need most?’ I’ll never forget what she said to me. She said, looking me in the eye, she said, ‘I just want the truth. The truth. Just tell me the truth.’ Think of it. My fellow Americans, you’re owed nothing less than the truth.”

“It’s never, ever, a good bet to bet against the American people.”

*

Actually, the president’s complete first sentence above was “Look, do you know what we have to do to beat this virus?”

The address was about the virus. The virus dominates the news and many people’s consciousness in the United States and elsewhere. It is effectively erasing much of what has gone before, the way the Trump presidency did before it ended, with a big push from the virus.

— Mark Channing Miller

Notes, 3-12-21

The Chief Speaks: Yesterday’s editions of the Springfield Republican (and masslive.com) carried Holyoke Police Chief Manuel Fero’s response to Officer Rafael Roca’s 43-minute YouTube soliloquy accusing the department of corruption and racism. Subscribers can read it HERE. Chief Fero deals specifically with four of the allegations and refutes them. The whole (so-far) four-part episode is notable for its showcasing the future of communications in this era of Internet access. The four parts are Roca’s Internet speech itself, his being placed on administrative leave for not taking it down, the newspaper’s publishing a story on it, and the chief’s refutations in a second news story of some of Roca’s assertions. This blog mentioned the first two parts HERE.

That’s the Way the Paper Crumples: On Tuesday, atop page D1 of the New York Times’s weekly Science section a story inside was teased with the words “Why does paper crumple the way it does? ‘Geometric frustration.’ ” (The story originated with a study by several Harvard Ph.D candidates on paper crumpling. The study’s lead author, Jovana Andrejevic, a student in applied physics, and her colleagues “delved into fragmentation theory, the principles explaining how materials like rocks break into smaller pieces.” She is pictured in one of nine illustrations.) Perhaps at Harvard and MIT scholars are already tackling the physics, and chemistry, of how the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and Building 7 on Sept. 11, 2001, collapsed into their own footprints, pretty much identically, two of them reportedly having been flown into by hijacked airliners loaded with jet fuel (kerosene).

‘Centrist’ Is New Attorney General: Former federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland yesterday began his first full day as U.S. attorney general, having been confirmed in a 70-30 Senate vote Wednesday. He is best known as President Obama’s 2016 nominee for a Supreme Court seat whose nomination was blocked by then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The New York Times story by Kate Benner notes up top that “the former prosecutor and widely respected federal judge [has] the task of leading the Justice Department at a time when the nation faces domestic extremist threats and a reckoning over civil rights.” Near the end of Benner’s report is that as a deputy to a deputy attorney general in the Clinton Administration he “oversaw the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing which led to the conviction and execution of Timothy McVeigh”; that and his supervision of “high-profile cases” including that of Unabomber Ted Katzynski and the Atlanta Olympics bombing ”helped cement Judge Garland’s reputation as a fair-minded centrist.”

Edward Curtin Writes: This has been a good year so far for blogger/author and former sociology professor Edward Curtin (not that 2020, in which his Seeking Truth in a Country of Lies: Critical & Lyrical Essasys was published, wasn’t). Specifically, two of his 2021 entries are well worth one’s time and follow-up reading of books recommended. Chronologically, they are “JFK, Allen Dulles and Indonesia” and “Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms.” As with some of the best essays by educators who can write, each is an engaging course syllabus for a previously little explored field of study. Their topics are little explored because too often the entire spectrum of the media labor mightily to keep them that way. (One lapse was the 1982 movie “The Year of Living Dangerously,” in which viewers were introduced to the notion that there was a country called Indonesia, much less a coup there that installed someone named Suharto.) The first essay is a review of JFK vs. Allen Dulles: Battleground Indonesia, by historian Greg Poulgrain (Skyhorse Publishing). Another day (or two) I may try to do justice to both of them.

Andrew Bacevch Writes: Andrew Bacevich is, among other things, a retired Boston Univeristy professor, author of 11 books, and president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, whose writings, like Curtin’s, deservedly crop up on various websites. His latest is titled, on Consortium News, “The Blob Insists on Clinging to an Obsolete Past.” The Blob, in this case, is the Biden administration with its seeming determination to sanctify a 20th century way of conducting foreign policy two decades into the 21st.

— Mark Channing Miller

 

‘9/11’ Realities

HERE is a live Zoom presentation from last December titled  “Fascinating Forgotten Facts About 9/11.”

In the two-part, 97-minute program, psychologist Fran Shur and physics teacher David Chandler host researcher Mike Berger, who responds to questions and comments from them and others.

Some years ago, Berger says, he sold his plastics recycling business to devote more time to exploring the mysterious world of “9/11” and the challenges of getting to the bottom of it. He introduces his talk as follows:

“There has never been a shortage of solid evidence that contradicts the government narrative about what happened leading up to and on 9/11. Fran Shure has written extensively about the psychological resistance to ‘hearing’ the 9/11 false flag evidence. Furthermore, even when presenting a simplified outline of the evidence, we tend to re-energize unconscious 9/11-related trauma, especially for those of us who lived through that day. … I will attempt to present a truth-telling narrative that empowers, rather than invalidates, our ability to make sense of our world, to make the world a better place, and to be change agents.”

The program is cosponsored by Colorado 9/11 Truth and 911truth.org.

 

An Officer Speaks

Rafael Roca is a Holyoke, Massachusetts, police officer who has been placed on administrative leave for relating on YouTube allegations of corruption and systemic racism in his department. The Video is HERE.

A news story in this morning’s Springfield Republican, by reporter Stephanie Barry, is HERE. (Only subscribers can read it online, as the newspaper would like to stay in business, but there may be copies of today’s paper still on newsstands.)

I just posted the video on Facebook. The officer makes a factual error or three in his 40-plus-minute presentation, but overall it rings true. I don’t want to spoil it for readers of this blog by going into any more detail here.

What is this doing in a blog principally about falsehoods by the Executive Branch of the federal government concerning the September 2001 terrorist attacks — covered up by servile news media outlets abetted by sheepish politicians everywhere? Everything.

Either Roca is one of the slickest conmen in the Republic, or this is just the start of something new.

— Mark Channing Miller

Biases

Everything below the three dashes is today’s reflection from the Center for Action and Contemplation. The parts in italics are by Richard Rohr. The other parts are by Brian McLaren. For the original including footnotes, click HERE. Some readers may see a similarity in the description of one kind of bias to an observation of Upton Sinclair’s. — MCM

   

By Richard Rohr and Brian McLaren

CAC faculty member Brian McLaren has done thoughtful and helpful research about what makes us see things so differently from one another. He identified thirteen biases that we outline today. Being a former pastor and an excellent communicator, Brian found a way to make these complex ways of seeing simple and memorable. He writes:

People can’t see what they can’t see. Their biases get in the way, surrounding them like a high wall, trapping them in ignorance, deception, and illusion. No amount of reasoning and argument will get through to them, unless we first learn how to break down the walls of bias. . . .

Confirmation Bias: We judge new ideas based on the ease with which they fit in with and confirm the only standard we have: old ideas, old information, and trusted authorities. As a result, our framing story, belief system, or paradigm excludes whatever doesn’t fit.

Complexity Bias: Our brains prefer a simple falsehood to a complex truth.

Community Bias: It’s almost impossible to see what our community doesn’t, can’t, or won’t see.

Complementarity Bias: If you are hostile to my ideas, I’ll be hostile to yours. If you are curious and respectful toward my ideas, I’ll respond in kind.

Competency Bias: We don’t know how much (or little) we know because we don’t know how much (or little) others know. In other words, incompetent people assume that most other people are about as incompetent as they are. As a result, they underestimate their [own] incompetence, and consider themselves at least of average competence.

Consciousness Bias: Some things simply can’t be seen from where I am right now. But if I keep growing, maturing, and developing, someday I will be able to see what is now inaccessible to me.

Comfort or Complacency Bias: I prefer not to have my comfort disturbed.

Conservative/Liberal Bias: I lean toward nurturing fairness and kindness, or towards strictly enforcing purity, loyalty, liberty, and authority, as an expression of my political identity.

Confidence Bias: I am attracted to confidence, even if it is false. I often prefer the bold lie to the hesitant truth.

Catastrophe or Normalcy Bias: I remember dramatic catastrophes but don’t notice gradual decline (or improvement).

Contact Bias: When I don’t have intense and sustained personal contact with “the other,” my prejudices and false assumptions go unchallenged.

Cash Bias: It’s hard for me to see something when my way of making a living requires me not to see it.

Conspiracy Bias: Under stress or shame, our brains are attracted to stories that relieve us, exonerate us, or portray us as innocent victims of malicious conspirators. [1]

Richard again: I don’t know any other way to be free of all these biases except through the contemplative mind. I see almost every one of them within myself–at least at some point in my life. I also believe there are enough good-willed people out there who, if presented with a list of these biases, have the freedom to investigate, “How can I let go of that? How can I move beyond that?” [2]