The meritocracy myth

Back in 2009, Glenn Greenwald had a typically scathing attack on the ruling classes taking care of their own and their progeny and the cozy relationship that has developed between the media and the families of those they supposedly cover.

They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it’s really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from. There’s a virtually endless list of politically well-placed guests equally qualified to talk on such matters.

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Information in torture report starts to leak out

The White House and the CIA are still resisting calls to release even the 500-page Executive Summary and conclusions of the 6,300 page Senate torture report. It appears that while the full report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the US government’s torture practices has not been leaked (as yet anyway) elements of what it contains are coming out.
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A man, a plan, a canal, Nicaragua

What with one thing and another, I had been completely unaware that there are plans to build another canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, to compete with the existing Panama Canal. This canal will be built by the Chinese and will go through Nicaragua. The graphic from McClatchy gives a good idea of the huge scale of the project. The engineering challenges are massive. [Read more…]

Snowden’s ‘ancestors’ come forward

I have written before about the secret COINTELPRO spying program that was set up by the FBI in 1956 against those people the government considered enemies, although they were mostly engaged is legitimate political activities. As now, the covered up its spying and other wrongdoing in thick layers of secrecy that enabled it to brazenly lie to the public about its activities, while simultaneously saying that they had to protect the country from its enemies, which in those Cold War days were the Dirty Reds. One feature of authoritarian states is that they need an enemy, external or internal, all the time in order to justify their policies and will manufacture one if necessary. [Read more…]

On the issue of banning commenters

There once was an old man in a family who loved to tell the same hunting story over and over again. At family gatherings, the man would try to find some cue that would enable him to insert the story into the flow of talk. On one occasion, he became increasingly frustrated at the lack of an opening in the conversation so he finally took his walking stick and rapped the ground sharply. In the startled silence that followed, he said, “What was that? A gunshot? Talking of gunshots, that reminds of the time …” [Read more…]