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Rebecca Gordon, Consider the Alternative

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Yes, I know, I know. There are all-too-modern ways to keep your friends’ addresses, phone numbers, and emails, but this old guy still uses an address book. Unfortunately, the pages of the one I’d kept for endless years finally grew so worn, so tattered, that I bought a new one and, name by name, copied my contacts, my friends, my family from one to the other.

That, however, proved anything but a straightforward process for two reasons: first, there were some people whose names I no longer remembered. When I stared at them on that page, nothing — nothing! — came to mind. Yes, they had once been contacts, if not friends, and now they were gone, forgotten, just as if they had dropped off some brain cliff. And believe me, that was a daunting feeling. How could I have forgotten them? Sigh.

And then there were those other names, the ones I hadn’t forgotten, not at all, but they no longer existed on this planet. They are dead and, take my word for it, that was daunting, too. As I copied that book, page by page, skipping their names, I was, in my own fashion, consigning each of them to the ashes of my personal history, as those who know me will, in their own fashion, do to me someday. It’s hard to take in.

And here’s what’s made it harder yet. I recopied that book more than a year ago and already there are a couple of people I cared for in the “new” one who no longer exist. Names that have gone where all of ours go sooner or later — into the trash bin of history and even of memory. But of course, there are better and far worse ways to get there, as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon reminds us today. And sadly, this country’s version of my address book can be grim indeed. Tom

Stumbling Towards Old Age

And Looking for Someone to Lean On

For twelve years starting in 1982, my partner and I in San Francisco joined with two friends in Seattle to produce Lesbian Contradiction: A Journal of Irreverent Feminism, or LesCon for short. We started out typing four-inch columns of text and laying out what was to become a quarterly tabloid on a homemade light table. We used melted paraffin from an electric waxer to affix strips of paper to guide sheets the size of the final pages.

Eventually, we acquired Macintosh computers, trekking to a local copy shop to pay 25 cents a page for laser-printed originals. We still had to paste them together the old-fashioned way to create our tabloid-sized pages. The finished boards would then go to a local commercial printing press where our run of 2,000 copies would be printed.

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John Feffer, More Butterflies, Fewer Billionaires — Unrigging the Global Economy

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It’s strange to try to come to grips with this increasing wreck of a planet. When you’re my age, you have to wonder about the future. That’s especially true in a world where the two top greenhouse gas emitters, the historically most massive one (the United States) and the present leader (China), are now involved in — and it’s a phrase that, given the temperatures this summer, should be a lousy joke — a new Cold War. Who cares that China was essentially flooded out this summer with fierce coastal storms and 433 rivers rising to dangerous levels? Almost four million people were displaced from their homes, including 1.2 million around that country’s capital, Beijing. Who cares that the U.S. was smoked out and distinctly overheated? (Phoenix, Arizona, experienced a record 55 days above 110 degrees this summer). As for ice on this planet, kiss it goodbye.

Joe Biden only recently visited Vietnam (Vietnam! A country from which we can, of course, draw no lessons whatsoever) to create a new global order around opposition to… yes… China. Who cares if such an “order” helps ensure that we’ll all be burnt out of the building (or planet, if you prefer) in the decades to come? What could China and the U.S. possibly do together on such a planet? Count on one thing: neither Joe Biden nor Xi Jinping seems to have the slightest idea.

Yes, China is moving fast — faster than the U.S. — on green energy, but faster, too, when it comes to using coal to transform the world into a new hell. And yes, Joe Biden has indeed taken some steps to reduce this country’s green footprint (just not enough of them) at a moment when the Trumpublican Party is preparing to toast us all. But it should be obvious that none of this is faintly enough. Only on a planet where the rich and poor countries, the Global North and Global South, related differently would we have a chance of making a true difference when it comes to the growing catastrophe of climate change. And with that in mind, let me turn you over to TomDispatch regular John Feffer, whose superb weekly column at Foreign Policy in Focus is always a must-read. Consider with him how this planet might indeed still be saved. Tom

Welcome to the New Green Colonialism

One Last Shot at Reducing Global Inequality and Saving the Planet

In a fit of madness or just plain desperation, you’ve enrolled in a get-rich-quick scheme. All you have to do is sell some products, sign up some friends, make some phone calls. Follow that simple formula and you’ll soon be pulling in tens of thousands of dollars a month -- or so you’ve been promised anyway. And if you sell enough products, you’ll be invited into the Golden Circle, which offers yet more perks like free concert tickets and trips to Las Vegas.

Still, I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that there’s a catch. If you don't sell a pile of products or sign up a ton of friends to do the same, the odds are that you’ll end up losing money, no matter how hard you work, especially if you take out loans to build your “business.”

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Clarence Lusane, White Nationalism and Donald Trump

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At an earlier moment in history when anti-immigrant and racist feelings were soaring, a silent film, The Birth of a Nation, helped revive the Ku Klux Klan. That movie had been adapted from a novel with the ominous title The Clansman (whose author was a friend of then-president Woodrow Wilson). The Klan’s membership would soar in the wake of its 1915 release. Three hours long, D.W. Griffith’s movie would also be the first blockbuster, a revisionist version of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era that proved the deepest sort of put-down of freed slaves, and a film in which the Klan all too literally rode to the rescue.

President Wilson would, in fact, make it the first film ever screened in the White House. Of it, he reportedly said: “It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” Let such a past be a reminder that there’s nothing new under the American sun when it comes to the rise of white nationalism or of Donald Trump (who, in June 2015, rode down that infamous escalator into the presidential campaign to lambast Mexican “rapists,” among others). The man who, in 2024, hopes “to take back that beautiful, beautiful house that happens to be white” fits into a long, grim American tradition, even when he repeatedly accuses the three Black prosecutors with cases against him of being “racist.”

In such a world, let TomDispatch regular Clarence Lusane, author of the gripping history Twenty Dollars and Change: Harriet Tubman and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice, explore the rise of a new white nationalism and just how Klannish Donald Trump’s Republican world has already become, not to speak of what our future might be like if he were once again to occupy “that beautiful, beautiful house that happens to be white.” Tom

The Political Rise of a New White Nationalism

The GOP Has a Klan Problem That Is Not Going Away

In 2020, The Daily Show ran a segment in which statements by Republican leaders, including Donald Trump, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and various Fox News personalities were juxtaposed with those made by Ku Klux Klan leaders like former Grand Wizard David Duke and former Imperial Wizard Bill Wilkerson. Fired Fox News commentator Tucker Carson, for instance, screeches manically that, because of immigration, “eventually there will be no more native-born Americans.” Immediately following that comment comes former Grand Wizard Duke saying, “We’ve got to start protecting our race.”

Donald Trump is then shown at a rally (with several Black people behind him wearing “Blacks for Trump” T-shirts) saying about Covid treatments, “If you’re white, you have to go to the back of the line. Discriminating against white people!” Again, there's a cut to Duke stating, “There is racial discrimination going on right now in this country against massive numbers of white Americans.”

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