|Image: dustinphillips via flickr CC license|
In his latest column, Jon Talton writes:
Friends keep telling me of the coming working-class revolt (Mark Thoma writes about such here). I’ll believe it when I see it. Civil insurrection is certainly likely as America continues its downward course, but it will play out with minorities burning their own neighborhoods and the whites and other better-offs retreating even deeper into suburban apartheid. The Revolution in a nation of dolts could only be caused by taking away television, video games, smart phones and cheap gasoline. Then, to the barricades!
In most media, it seems to be taken for granted that the economy is recovering. It’s not, and it’s not going to. Jon Talton is one of the few astute writers on the subject. From his latest column:
|Is Jared Loughner a “ballet mom?”|
Gov. Jan Brewer has a solution to the state’s Medicaid shortfall. Eliminate the program.
Read the rest.
I’ve long argued that America’s self-image - “the land of the free,” a culture of autonomy and independence - is in sharp contrast to its reality, which is that of an extremely bovine, conformist culture. The fact that it is also an illiterate culture, in which people are told what to think rather than taught how to think, is not coincidental.
In his latest column, Jon Talton says it well:
Unlike previous generations of Americans, we are largely an easily commanded people, rather like the Germans or Russians of old. Decades ago, Americans genially agreed to be drug-tested in order to get or keep a job, even though this “guilty until proven innocent” technique is of dubious constitutionality. We submit to hundreds of new national security agencies sucking at the taxpayer trough, not least one with the queasily un-American name of “the Department of Homeland Security.” Nary a peep about this in the land of the free and home of the brave. We meekly wait in lines, not least those at the airport. It’s difficult to imagine the World War II generation submitting to pat-downs, much less those that tamed/stole the frontier. But neither have the swindles of the banksters, widespread economic distress and the rule of the fatcats produced the protests of an older America. No, give us a Kinect or an iPad, a call-center cubicle and an H.R. rulebook, and we’re as happy as a baby with a pacifier.
In response to this post, someone asked me what local journalists I respect.
Here in Phoenix, although we have a mostly-dysfunctional media, there are some excellent journalists struggling against the corporate suppression of news.
Even though the Arizona Republic is known among local journalists as The Repulsive, it still has such fine reporters as Dennis Wagner and Robert Anglen, and columnist Laurie Roberts. Sadly, it no longer has Charles Kelly, Jon Talton, Mark Shaffer or David Leibowitz, but it has retained the dull and predictable E.J. Montini (does he ever leave his office to do any reporting?) and its resident Latino Uncle Tom, Richard Ruelas (who for an embarrassing few years was the paper’s metro columnist along with Montini - a double act of impressive ineptitude).
Terry Greene Sterling, who writes for various publications, is a meticulous and relentless reporter, and so is John Dougherty, who recently ran for the U.S. Senate.
My alma mater, Phoenix New Times, no longer has Dougherty or Sterling or M.V. Moorhead on staff, but Stephen Lemons does outstanding coverage of Arpaio and the local nativists, and Robrt Pela’s cultural reporting and commentary is insightful and elegant. (Pela is not on staff there, but does a lot of freelance for the paper.)
T.V. reporter Joe Dana does strong work, even in the face of vicious personal slurs from Arpaio’s henchman David Hendershott. (I rarely watch T.V., so there may be other reporters worthy of mention that I don’t know about.)
The Arizona Guardian is one of the better news sources here, perhaps the best, though the level of talent among its reporters varies widely.
Farther afield, in Tucson, lives Charles Bowden, a truly great reporter and one of the greatest living writers in English.
Jon Talton reminds me of the character played by Kevin McCarthy in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He knows what’s going on, he’s right, it’s obvious to anyone who looks, he’s trying to get people to look - and they don’t want to know.
From his latest column:
A measure of our mass delusion can be found in Phoenix, where Greg Vogel of the Real Estate Industrial Complex was talking about “the Valley” growing from 4 million to 8 million people over the next 35 years. This was not a conversation from 2006 but from last week. Just where the 1) water; 2) the people; 3) the capital will come from in post-crash America he doesn’t say.