Podcast Show #21

The Boiling Frogs Presents Chris Hedges

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Chris Hedges gives us a quick sketch of his latest book “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle”. He discusses the real role of the US media as one of the main culprits in promoting a sense of exceptionalism by disseminating fantasy, and poisoning civil and political discourse with entertainment and trivia. He talks about the spectacle surrounding Barrack Obama’s presidential campaign and his function as a brand just like any other commercial commodity brand advertised and promoted by corporations, the last decade’s coup d'état in slow motion, and much more!

ChrisHedges2Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at the Nation Institute and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University. He has written nine books, including Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, and the best-selling American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. He spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and served for eight years as the Middle East bureau chief of The New York Times, where he shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism, for coverage of terrorism. Hedges also received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. His weekly column is published on Truthdig

Here is our guest Chris Hedges unplugged!

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  1. Chris Hedges really lays it out. It is stark. I hope it is a worst case type version, but of course seeing more of the truth would always be hard to take, the brutallity that we are so sheltered from. I’m babbling but some comment is deserved. Great show!

  2. Great Interview !! I too am surprised that he lasted 10 years at the NY Times. AS far as to the question of what can we do to wake people up, stop them from voting the same clowns into office, I can only say that It’s important to keep reaching out to people. We must understand that for the longest time the MSM has had people brainwashed. For the most part, everything people knew as far as news, politics etc has come from the TV or the newspapers, all controlled by the same people. I see today that this isn’t the case with the younger generation. The younger generation seems to have a better grasp on the fact that the MSM is just telling lies and a lot of them get their news from alternative sources. The internet, as a medium to provide truthful news from around the globe is very powerful and I think we are just starting to see the effects of it. Seeing major papers starting to charge for online access, almost going bankrupt and the fear the powers that be have about the effect of alternative media is a clear indication that there is an awakening among the younger people and they are worried. It is common to hear the younger crowd talking about 3rd part candidates and most don’t buy into the whole left/right garbage. I think we will see this in the near future greatly benefit us as this younger generation matures. They are not as brainwashed as I once was.

    Thank You all for your great work here. :]

  3. Ouch! This was again a very deep thinking guest. @ joetoad: I am afraid it will be even worse.

    Chris Hedges’ remark about a deep undertow of American culture “If you are motivated enough, reality is never an impediment to realizing what you desire” is something that Europeans like me can often see clearly. We, in we part admire the optimism and in part we have an underbelly feeling of the deep irrationality and especially the maladaptation to the world it entails.

    Psychology used to have a term for this state of maladaptation: neurosis. A neurosis is the poor ability to adapt to one’s environment, an inability to change one’s life patterns, and the inability to develop a richer, more complex, more satisfying personality (wikipedia – neurosis). Like Jung I think that widespread individual neuroses translate to the political level. Consequently I think this term might explain much of Sibel’s concern about the difficulty of how to get the masses moving.

    As far as I recall, Karen Horney – one of the more scientific of the psychoanalisists – described the initial phase of a neurosis an inflated sense of self esteem (American exeptionalism), this is followed by externalization (blaming everyone but oneself, e.g. terrorism), next hopelessness and lethargy (expected for the post Obama period?), and finally sadism and self destruction.

    When the American masses realize they have been duped massively, they will respond conform the intellectual luggage the have, which is full of deeply engrained maladaptations to reality. This will lead to a clash between disfunctioning ideas and substandard social skill on one side and reality on the other. Reality will win.

    Before American society has relearned realistic coping skills it will pas a neurotic phase. Which according to Dr. George Boeree (Wikipedia – neurosis), will involve:
    “…anxiety, sadness or depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion, low sense of self-worth, etc., behavioral symptoms such as phobic avoidance, vigilance, impulsive and compulsive acts, lethargy, etc., cognitive problems such as unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, repetition of thoughts and obsession, habitual fantasizing, negativity and cynicism, etc. Interpersonally, neurosis involves dependency, aggressiveness, perfectionism, schizoid isolation, socio-culturally inappropriate behaviors, etc.

    As meager consolation: the US is not the first to pass through collective madness. Great empires have set examples in the past.

  4. Hedges is right re: the lack of unity among the left. IMO, it seems like it’s more about who gets more airtime and sells more books than an actual united front.

    When Cindy Sheehan spoke out, many on the left were frankly jealous of her getting so much attention. Who the hell are you to speak for us? Then understandably she took a break. Now she’s back with her own radio show. Good for her for establishing her own channels to get the word out.

    On many progressive stations, I hear the same professors or authors pushing the same books about the lack of unity on the left. Why the Great Global Meltdown happened. And it’s like, hang on a minute. I know this stuff. Tell me something I DON’T know.

    Like any large group, the left is a dichotomy of the world. From one end of the opinion spectrum to the other. Yet, Hedges is right when he says that the Democrats haven’t and won’t ever come thru on actual change. I won’t bore you with lots of examples that you’ve heard and read a million times already.

    Instead, consider someone like Allan Nairn. He’s one who’s calling for a non-violent revolution here. How? First, by making the existing laws re: torture and more actually mean something. Now, they’re only convenient soundbites for politicians to push before elections. Yet in reality, most of those in power who torture do it to help to maintain power.

    Obama says we must fight terrorism. Yet, he’s using terrorism to fight terrorism. And not once does anyone on the MSM say, this is ****** up. Blair on trial for war crimes? You could say Obama as well.

    Now, what’s the weirdest thing going on today? Mayor Bloomberg in NYC is starting his run for 2012. Can you name one other person who can literally buy the election with their own money? Does this bother anyone?

    He’s doesn’t answer to any special interest group. How do explain AIPAC?
    Will he give up Bloomberg News if he did win? Is the public ready for a unmarried President living with his girlfriend in the White House? At this point, they’ll put up with anything else. So probably no big deal.

    What’s the answer for uniting the left? I don’t know.

  5. Isn’t something surreal and Orwellian when a site like the “Huffington Post”, which proclaims itself as “alternative media”, bans people for telling the truth? I mean seriously. I didn’t attack anybody in an ad hominem way or without proof of accusation (like racism and eugenicists with a proven track record).

    Nope, all I did was actually research their crimes, used their own words and credible documentation of their “deeds” …..


    We’ll see who gets the last laugh if In have to spend millions on advertising to expose the true nature of the Beast (holy crap, religious overtones are just too scary in this context).


    pardon the language

  6. Damn, this gentleman is awesome. I feel like moving to France to pick up a trick or two right now!

    Way to place the issues in their true historical context. I sometimes look around and can’t connect what my abstract analysis of the situation informs me and the apparent normality around me. I don’t live in a town decimated by “free trade” (e.g. Detroit’s 50% unemployment rate) , I live in one which actually benefits from this nexus of international compradores selling out their countries for a few measly scraps (e.g. Colombia’s FTA backers).

    We are definitely gonna be living in “interesting times”.

  7. mcthorogood says:

    I’ve been following Chris for a while. The first part in finding a solution is to define the problem, which Chris does very well. Now that the problem has been defined, what can be done about it?

    I ran across a link posted by zaknick in a comment on NYT: Home to Disgraced Editors, … The linked essay “The Origins of the Overclass” written by Steve Kangas does a good job in exposing CIA machinations. This in turn led me to Steve Kangas’ site which he set up before he died in 1999, Liberalism Resurgent.

    Joe Bageant also does a good job in characterizing rural America conservatives in his book, “Deer Hunting with Jesus”. Now, the only thing that all these librul minded authors need to do is to write a book on how to solve all our problems, or to stand up as leaders.

  8. Watch out for Paulson’s new book. In it, he claims that Russia tried to destroy the State’s economy. Now, what’s even worse? People will actually buy this book ($29.95, but marked down 30% at your favorite bookstore).

  9. Any chance we could get Chris Hedges and Allan Neiman together on a podcast?

  10. Just saw something online re: Berbie Sanders. And here’s a thought why there aren’t more third party politicians.

    Sanders is a Socialist Senator from Vermont. And that’s perfectly ok. Everyone knows that he is. Yet, it’s almost illegal to publically say that.

    People can roast Obama alive with all kinds of sick racist crap. But, nobody ever goes after that Evil Socialist Sanders.

    In the past, the Communist Party was banned in the States. Now, you can be a Socialist in Congress. But God help you if you ever publically admit what everybody already knows.

  11. Any comments on Obama’s new plan to kill Americans abroad who are “terrorists”?

  12. 344thBrother says:


    “”Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power

    Published: February 12, 2010

    WASHINGTON — With much of his legislative agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities…

    “We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff…””

    peace and good things

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