Consilience Productions
Essays

America's Empire of Bases - In this essay by Chalmers Johnson, a leading intellectual who taught at U.C. San Diego & Berkeley (Chair of the Political Science Department and Asian Studies) from 1962-92, the Great Taboo - The American Military Empire - is discussed in lengthy detail. Arguing that our leaders are devoted to a new "Baseworld," where we already support nearly 1,000 military bases worldwide, Johnson forces us to ask the question, "Where is all of that $400 billion military budget actually going?"

What it Takes to Make a Student - This fascinating article from Paul Tough of the New York Times outlines what it will really take to transform our education system. A must read.

Jefferson, Madison, Newdow? - Kenneth C. Davis, author of "Don't Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned," discusses Michael Newdow's appearance before the Supreme Court, where he argues from an atheist's point-of-view why we should ditch the phrase, "under God," from the Pledge of Allegiance. Davis debunks the common misperception that our Founding Fathers wanted religion to be a major part of the Constitutional process.

For instance, says Davis: "In the debate over the place of God in public America, few framers are cited more often than Ben Franklin. In the summer of 1787, with the Constitutional Convention haggling over the nation's fate, Franklin proposed opening the day's meetings with a prayer, a proposal often cited by public-prayer advocates. But these advocates leave out the rest of the story. After Franklin's motion, Alexander Hamilton argued that if people knew that the delegates were resorting to prayer, it would be seen as an act of desperation. Then Hugh Williamson of North Carolina pointed out that the convention lacked the money to pay for a chaplain, and there the proposition died. Franklin later noted, "The convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary."

Wouldn't Jefferson and Madison and Washington be proud of Michael Newdow?

Harvesting Poverty
The New York Times has been running a very powerful set of editorials concerning our Farm Policy (and those of Japan and the EU) and how it is affecting farmers around the world (not to mention taxpayers in this country!). Editorial writer, Andres Martinez has been traveling to Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe to report on the damaging impact that these agricultural subsidies and trade barriers have on farmers in developing nations. The NY Times has archived all the essays and are available on the web.

Examining Islamic Militancy
Commentary since September 11 has produced a cognitive dissonance among Americans about Islam, the world’s second largest religious tradition. On the one hand, selected Muslim leaders declare that "Islam is a religion of peace" and President Bush asserts repeatedly that the U.S. has no quarrel with Islam, "which is a good and peaceful religion." On the other hand, taped messages from Osama bin Laden and Sulaiman abu Gaith, the five-page document of suicide bomber Muhammad Atta, and large public demonstrations supporting bin Laden in Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq and Gaza reveal clear connections to a militant Islam.

This excellent essay explores what we know about Islam around the globe, and addresses some of the reasons for anger towards America that exists pre and post 9/11.

Missed Opportunities in Stem-Cell Research
George Q. Daley, M.D.. Ph.D., published an article recently in the New England Journal of Medicine outlining how Bush's restrictions on federally-funded stem-cell research has led to lost opportunities for breakthrough research to help cure some of today's very serious diseases. We have reposted this essay on our site.

The Lesser Evils
This essay, which appeared in the May 2, 2004, issue of the New York Times Magazine, is a MUST read for the essential dialogue we must all have regarding civil liberties in our new world of post 9/11 terrorism. There is absolutely no partisanship in this essay, and we hope our government leaders institute many of the suggestions in this article.

Letter Writing
This lost art form needs a resurgence in order to help bring about positive change in our society. A concerned citizen implores you (dear reader) to start writing more letters to your representatives, media, school boards, corporations, etc. Download a copy of a recent letter to Howard Dean, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Paternity Test: Franklin vs. Jefferson - Between Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, which Founding Father did the most—by far—to promote and shape the future of public education in America? (Hint: He also published a periodical with the same name as this one.) This essay will alter forever your opinion of Franklin & Jefferson. Beware!

The Professor Takes The Gloves Off
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman tells how he found his voice, why Bush makes him miss Nixon, and why he insults Fox News whenever he can. This interview, dated November 12, 2003, is almost chilling in it's portrayal of our current administration. According to Krugman, we are quickly on our way to becoming a Banana Republic - hard to believe, right? There are many truths laid out here that make us worried for Krugman's safety (and that's hinted at in this interview).

Times Magazine Person of the Year for 2011: The Protester
No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square, it would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. In 2011, protesters didn’t just voice their complaints; they changed the world.

Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged TV News
As we creep closer and closer to the Big Brother Society that Orwell wrote about in 1984, one can truly wonder if we haven't arrived already after reading this article from the New York Times: "Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production." George Orwell would be proud.

Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy
Privately, and sometimes publicly, leading Democrats will admit that the party's shrinking influence has its roots in the most basic problem of ''message.'' Despite having ruled Capitol Hill for a half-century, during which time they successfully enacted a staggering array of innovative programs, Democrats have been maddeningly slow to adapt their message to the postindustrial age. ''The truth is that a lot of the people who ran the Democratic Party in the 70's and 80's ran it into the ground,'' Simon Rosenberg, of the New Democrat Network, said. ''The imperial Congress was in charge of America for 50 years, but we lost our way, and we've got to fight back.'' Read this essay, which appeared in the July 25, 2004, edition of the New York Times Magazine, for an idea of how George Soros and other wealthy liberals will be creating the Phoenix Group to fund the next direction of the progressive movement.

The Beat Generation and the Tea Party
American freedom is a many-splendored thing, and multifaceted too. "We drove in his old Chevy," Kerouac says, with portentous joy, in "On the Road." In the course of the exuberant tirade that gave birth to the Tea Party, Rick Santelli of CNBC referred to the '54 Chevy, "maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit." That might be as close to a convergence of different ideas of American freedom as our tortured polity will ever come.

The Strange Success of #OccupyWallStreet - Read this important essay detailing how the movement got started and why it's stymying all professional pundits when they try to analyze and understand it.

We All Built That - From transportation and public health, to education and housing, the federal government has been instrumental in creating the kind of society Americans have wanted across the decades. Those efforts have been far from perfect, and certainly the federal government is not the answer to all our problems. But taken together, they make the case for “big government” by reminding us how seriously the federal government has taken its constitutional task: to promote the general welfare.

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