May 8Liked by Bill Astore

I turned 70 this year, so I share the same sentiments as you, Bill. It's shocking in the extreme to realize how far we have sunk in the last 60+ years since Eisenhower warned us about the dangerous and deadly military industrial complex. If Eisenhower were alive today, he would be denounced and demonized as a "woke Marxist" by the current cabal of right-wing neocons that control the foreign policy agenda in this country. In my lifetime, ideas and policies which were once relegated to the right-wing fringe are now totally mainstream. The political narrative has shifted so far to the right that even the social programs of the New Deal are under threat, more so than ever before. It is clear that for the 1% there can never be too much concentration of wealth and power. If this madness is not stopped quickly, we may simply be overwhelmed by the multitude of threats staring us in the face---nuclear war, climate change, and social disintegration. The clock is ticking.

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May 8Liked by Bill Astore

I think it is miraculous that we are still here. While man does have the ability to reason, that ability is far behind the desire to consume without limit. As for nuclear weapons, they will be with us as long as the the love of power. The great equalizer, with them even tiny North Korea can stop Uncle Sam cold. Tiny nuclear armed Israel can wreak havoc in neighboring countries secure that it will not be challenged.

But think for a minute how incredible are our times. Only in the past two centuries have we been able to throw off the childish ideas of religion, trading ignorance for actual knowledge of how life on Earth developed. The double helix, quantum theory, relativity, the electronic computer, AI, are all from the most recent blink of the eye in human history. I am astounded when I so easily look for and then find information on the Internet, so far beyond the encyclopedias of old wherein man was vain enough to believe he had condensed almost all of human knowledge. Do any of you recall the awful card catalog system at the libraries? We are in heaven.

That's the good. The bad is that the life of the most intelligent creature is occupied not with self development and discovery but with mindless consumption and the endless churning of popular culture. Obesity is ever increasing. As global warming threatens, driving around alone in an large and empty pickup truck has never been so popular. Each day as I ride around town on a bicycle, I see literally hundreds of cars for each fellow cyclist, yet no car, despite hundreds of horsepower, can go faster in urban America than the 22mph average, only twice what I do on my bicycle. Household debt endlessly climbs. Self storage lockers bulge with unused stuff. All this while people stare dumbly at flat screen frenzy and billions go into the passive observation of professional sports where it makes no difference who wins, except to spur more spending.

Irrationality and vanity are the cohosts of mankind's time on the stage, not unrelated to the fact that so many people are unhappy amid unprecedented plenty. Stop and think for a second of how wonderful it is to have hot and cold running water in a home heated in winter and cooled in summer, to have warm clothes, to have modern medicine even if we had no more than common pain relievers!

What to do in this absurdity as annihilation threatens so well documented by BA? I take note of the famous humble people, Jesus, Gandhi, the Buddha, who quite accurately saw the sorrow and offered an alternative; to stop thinking of the desiring self and act with humility and service. I make this my practice. While I won't go to the point of cleaning toilets as did Gandhi, I see the value of his statement that the only salvation for a man is to put himself last. I do look for litter and pick it up, I always return grocery carts for others to use, I am always on the alert for service, such as telling others their brake lights are out, or stopping to remove some object blocking the street. My daily obsession is "what can I do for others?" Being unconditionally kind is a wonderful thing. Extending trust with no guarantee that it will be returned is a wonderful thing in that it turns the mind toward benevolence and away from competition and victory. And all of this is entirely in the head, driving daily and unpredictable activity that make me feel good about myself.

This boils down to wanting for nothing while being constantly impressed with what we have such things as hot and cold running water, let alone that we can understand our universe at long last. I honestly don't think humanity has long to go before a crash, either a nuclear disaster or simple collapse of a system that can no longer support billions of people most of whom cannot support themselves for more than two weeks without it. Every business wants more business. Every leader sees growth as the solution to all ills. Simple reason says the end is inevitable, but peace of mind is still possible for individuals. As Gandhi is reported to have said: be the change you wish to see in the world. Though I would add, but don't expect a happy ending.

The irony of man, under capitalism, is that once his intelligence has liberated him from mythology to present him with facts that tell him he must modify his behavior; that the cornucopia must be used with restraint, he ignores what facts tell him, and blindly continues to satisfy his insatiable desire. The marvelous instrument of the human brain goes unused. Desire trumps knowledge, we eagerly exploit each other.

I ask anyone reading this to tell me if he/she believes that the pace of life has showed any sign of slowing over the years of one's life, no matter what your age is now. Now tell me if you think the trend will reverse.

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May 8·edited May 8Liked by Bill Astore

Bill, I’m sure you know about the famous British mathematician, philosopher, logician, atheist, pacifist and public intellectual, Betrand Russell who passed away in 1970. He had a huge influence on mathematics, logic, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science and analytic philosophy in his time. Some still claim he was the greatest intellectual to have ever lived.

On 20 November 1948, he shocked observers by suggesting in a speech that a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union was justified. Russell argued that war between the United States and the Soviet Union seemed inevitable, so it would be humanitarian to get it over with quickly and have the United States in the dominant position. He argued, humanity could survive such a war, whereas a full nuclear war after both sides had manufactured large stockpiles of more destructive weapons was likely to result in the extinction of the human race.

Russell later relented from this stance, instead arguing for mutual disarmament by the nuclear powers. And spent the 1950s and 1960s engaged in political causes related to nuclear disarmament. The 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto was a document calling for nuclear disarmament and was signed by eleven of the most prominent nuclear physicists and intellectuals of the time.

In 1957 he wrote a letter to US President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Khrushchev, urging a summit to consider “the conditions of co-existence”. Apparently, Khrushchev responded that peace could be served by such a meeting. John Dulles, US Secretary of State, replied for Eisenhower. The exchange of letters was published as The Vital Letters of Russell, Khrushchev, and Dulles. I don’t have any knowledge about the content of this exchange of letters. I need to research that.

In 1958 Russell wrote an article for the American magazine, The New Republic, elaborating his views on world peace. He urged that all nuclear weapons testing and flights by planes armed with nuclear weapons be halted immediately, and negotiations be opened for the destruction of all hydrogen bombs, with the number of conventional nuclear devices limited to ensure a balance of power.

And of course, he passed away without seeing acceptance of any of his ideas. Thanks for the great essay today Bill. One of your best.

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Beyond sad and shocking to read this, Bill. For too long, it seems like a death cult is in control. We die. They don't. It's an agenda. Secret.

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The all too grim reality to quote another Pink Floyd Song is: "Money-- so they say is the root of all evil today" "But if you ask for a rise (raise) it's no surprise they're giving none away"-- the 1% that is...! Maybe not the best Band and Song on your subject matter, but not too bad as they say. Unfortunately the modernization brings some jobs, and that's just the plain facts. Its a Runaway Train now, and where it crashes/stops and finally comes to rest I just hope it rests on the other side of the mountain from me! I'm wishing that Dr. Carl Sagan was still with us for his wisdom & guidance. People like Greta Thunberg & Sir Richard Attenborough thankfully "are" still with us so there is still some hope...

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As so often, an excellent piece, Mr. Astore. I hope that people will take your message seriously.

On the insane dysfunctionality of American society and the dedication of American government to perpetual war, including Rassenkampf against Russia dating back to before WWI, can I recommend to you and your readers the latest episode of George Galloway's "Mother of All Talk Shows", that should be accessible here (unless blocked where you happen to be in the U.S. "open forum of information and opinion"):


And on nuclear (what must now be called) "American roulette", can I recommend to you the clear and sane message of the perpetually demonized President Putin, that should be accessible here (unless, again, blocked where you happen to be):


Some of your readers may dislike hearing what Galloway (and his two guests in this episode) and Putin have to say; but that's indeed the root of the whole problem. That, and the fact that American "democracy" leaves voters with no sane person left to vote for. And the United States wants to provide "leadership to the world"? (Most of the world is now opting out of that racket, in case you don't know.)

God bless you for your sanity, Mr. Astore.

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Caitlin Johnstone’s 5 May piece “The Kremlin Did Not Kill Itself” is very relevant to any discussion about the future of this nation, and begins as follow:

“Your rulers do not care what race you are. They do not care if you are gay, transgendered or nonbinary. They do not care how many bullets you are allowed to have in your gun. They do not care whether you are allowed to have an abortion or not. They do not care if you are racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic or fatphobic. They do not care about diverse representation in politics or media, and they do not care about any lack thereof. All they care about is that we all keep thinking, speaking, working, consuming and voting in ways which keep them rich and powerful and keep us poor and powerless. And they will happily keep us arguing as intensely as possible about the things they do not care about so that we don't turn our attention to the things they do care about.

“This doesn't mean those other issues aren't real concerns, and in fact our rulers stand everything to gain by exacerbating the injustices involving issues they don't care about in order to keep attention in those convenient areas. But the solution to the problems our rulers don't care about is the same as the solution to the problems our rulers do care about: overthrow our rulers.”

Continued at https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-kremlin-did-not-kill-itself-notes

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Thank You, Bill, for yet another excellent thought-provoker.

i turn 77 this year, and with an additional 17 years of exposure, i can only unequivocally agree with Your conclusion that the Best Years of Your and my Country are most definitely behind us. And behind a whole bunch of other Americans’ nation, country, and homeland, as well.

And i also agree completely with Your assertion that “It wouldn’t have to be this way” for the same reason You cited Dorothy Day: “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

That is the ONLY reason that America is in the state that it is in: Because a critical mass of taxpaying and voting Citizens are perfectly willing and content to accept whichever politicians for President and Congress ~ along with their promises, proposals, programs, and policies ~ that America’s Ruling Political Class [RPC] chooses to jam down their throats for the current election cycle. And then that same critical mass lets them get away with it by either re-electing those RPC Errand Boyz and Girls, or accepting an RPC-designated substitute at the next cycle.

i have stated several times here on BV that “A nation and its people get the government that it and they deserve.” To which You have objected each time, declaring: “You deserve better, Jeff. We ALL do.”

How do You think Dorothy Day would respond to that declaration, Bill? Based on what “We, The People” have actually, really done about what this government has done all over the planet since, first, the end of World War II, and then especially since the end of Cold War I: Do You think that she would think that “we deserve better”?

[Note: Americans’ fervent calls for Putin to be tried in The Hague as a “War Criminal” for Ukraine is beyond pathetically laughable. It ignores our whole panoply of American War Criminals since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, up thru Indochina, Central America, and our post-9/11 “Forever War” from Southwest Asia to the Middle Est and beyond, to the present day in that same Ukraine. But that is a separate rant.]

Your solution to this is for America to “not accept” and to “reject” what this nation’s system of government and governance as owned, operated, commanded, and controlled by that RPC has done, is doing, and plans to do. The question then becomes: How to best do this?

Do You honestly believe that writing the President and/or challenging Congress would accomplish Anything? Especially This President and This Congress? And as mass shootings in America continue to get more frequent and Americans quite reasonably have genuine cause for genuine concern about “Where Next?,” how many Americans are prepared to join a mass protest demonstration, the perfect setting for several mass shootings all in the same place and at the same time?

And how many Americans would have no problem at all with a bunch of unpatriotic America Hating protestors being gunned down on the streets of Washington, DC, or anyplace else?

So again, the Question becomes: How can a critical mass of Americans be mobilized to effectively fight against and ultimately prevail over ~ first and foremost ~ America’s Trillion Dollar-Plus War Machine?

Because unless and until that happens, America’s current “Decline” will continue degenerating into its “Fall.” And a lot sooner than even the bleakest-minded of Realists [as opposed to mere Pessimists] can imagine.

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Such a great article. So as a 73 year old I am convinced that even if there was a revolution that completely turned the US away from what we are today; a revolution that eliminated nuclear weapons, reduced defense, saved the planet, provided health care etc. etc. I would not live to see it anyway. Despair is not an option, at least that is what I am told, but hope is dwindling. JW

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On January 3, 1970, in a eulogy at a military funeral in Van Nuys, California for a young American helicopter pilot killed in Vietnam ~ five months after Neil Armstrong's "One Small Step"; three and a half months before the first Earth Day; four months and a day before four more young Americans were killed in a place called Kent, Ohio; and seventeen months after returning from my second year in Vietnam ~ i asked a question that i have been pondering ever since:

“Given what Humans know about the Universe, Earth, Life, and Ourselves from our Natural, Social, and Human Sciences; and, given what Humans can do in that Universe, on and to Earth, with Life, and for Ourselves thru our Hard and Soft Technologies: Why, then, is there still Poverty, Hunger, and Disease, Illiteracy, Injustice, and Inequity, Ecocide, Genocide, and Democide, Insecurity, Tyranny, and War?”

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