Sunday, August 14, 2016


1. The New York Times Review of Books project/article entitled "Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart" - at upwards of 40,000 words in five chapters, it's really more of a free book than an article - is an amazingly civic-minded gift to the people of the United States and, indeed, the world at large. Editor Jake Silverstein explains:
This is a story unlike any we have previously published. It is much longer than the typical New York Times Magazine feature story; in print, it occupies an entire issue. The product of some 18 months of reporting, it tells the story of the catastrophe that has fractured the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis. The geography of this catastrophe is broad and its causes are many, but its consequences — war and uncertainty throughout the world — are familiar to us all. Scott Anderson’s story gives the reader a visceral sense of how it all unfolded, through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Accompanying Anderson’s text are 10 portfolios by the photographer Paolo Pellegrin, drawn from his extensive travels across the region over the last 14 years, as well as a landmark virtual-reality experience that embeds the viewer with the Iraqi fighting forces during the battle to retake Falluja. 
It is unprecedented for us to focus so much energy and attention on a single story, and to ask our readers to do the same. We would not do so were we not convinced that what follows is one of the most clear-eyed, powerful and human explanations of what has gone wrong in this region that you will ever read.
Would it be overly dramatic to suggest that anyone who wishes to be well informed about the current realpolitik owes it to himself and to his fellow countrymen to not only read this thing from beginning to end, but also to get as many of his friends and neighbors to do so, as well? If so, so be it. I stand by that statement, and urge you all to read and share and help to spread.

2. Mark Ames, one of the intrepid sleuths behind, has dug up a fascinating historical document: a Koch-funded article for REASON Magazine that purports to teach far-right "libertarians" how to woo (i.e. trick) liberals and lefties into coming over to their cause! It begins:
I wouldn't be the first to point out how embarrassingly easy it has been for rancid Koch libertarian front groups to convince those on the Left that they are all on the same team. As Salon writer Tom Watson wrote, the event is "fatally compromised by the prominent leadership and participation of the Libertarian Party and other libertarian student groups [who stand] in direct opposition to almost everything I believe in as a social democrat." 
What hasn't been revealed until now, however, is how the libertarians got so good at fooling their lefty marks. For that you have to look back 35 years, to an amazing series of articles in the Koch brothers' REASON magazine in which prominent libertarians lay out to a new generation of followers a playbook of "tricks" to fool earnest leftists, liberals and hippies into supporting their cause. 
If you really believe that these events are about promoting freedom and humanitarianism, you're going to be even more disturbed by what libertarians had to say about conning liberals in their more unguarded moments, before their "tricks" worked and they were able to pull off these big DC "strange bedfellows" events like clockwork. 
One of the most shocking strategy articles comes in a REASON article headlined "Marketing Libertarianism" written by Moshe Kroy, and published in the February 1977 issue.
The article is chock-a-block with eyebrow-raising admissions and nakedly mercenary libertarian evangelism of the type anyone unlucky enough to have ever had a friend going through an Ayn Rand phase will be all too familiar with. It's also pretty hilarious. Highly recommended!


3. There's trolling, there's epic trolling... and then there's Sam Hyde. The jagged, Satanic wit behind much of the more "problematic" output of Million Dollar Extreme - arguably the most potent comedic trio to emerge since the passing of The Three Stooges - delights in sowing confusion and discord wherever he goes, perhaps never so much so as when he posed as a finagled his way onto the stage at a TEDx event at Drexel University last year. His performance has become the stuff of legend, and with good reason. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Watch it here, now.

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