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on October 29, 2012
Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan are touring the country with a new book that everyone should have and read. "The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope" is a history of the Obama Years in the form of a thematically organized collection of columns -- columns that grew out of the reporting done by the most useful show on our airwaves: Democracy Now!

How quickly we forget, or even never knew, this recent history -- history that will never make it into school-approved history books. Reading this book, I was reminded of watching, for the first time, the movie Fahrenheit 911 by Michael Moore who wrote this book's introduction. That movie recounted basic facts about recent years, many of them familiar to anyone who'd been paying attention, and yet the information came as a shock to most moviegoers. This book would come as a shock to most readers.

A column from November 10, 2010, included in the book, begins, "If a volcano kills civilians in Indonesia, it's news. When the government does the killing, sadly, it's just business as usual, especially if an American president tacitly endorses the killing, as President Barack Obama just did with his visit to Indonesia." Who recalls that episode now? Who remembers the crises that jump in and out of our media: the cruelties imposed on Honduras or Haiti? This book brings together a full four years and moves us to ask where each story has now gone.

Here we read a history of teasing: There's going to be accountability for foreclosure fraud very soon. No, really. Any day now. Any month now. We've launched a new study into, um, an investigation of a review procedure capability program. No, seriously. Investigations are underway into the crimes of Rupert Murdoch. Really, we mean it.

Too many of these columns end with references to pretended federal efforts of law enforcement that were never heard from again. There is no doubt an office somewhere in the FBI in which people are paid to calculate the ideal timing for pretending to pursue justice in one cause or another, and the ideal timing for switching over to silence and forgetting. But it all looks laughable and offensive if you read four years' worth of it all strung together.

This book encourages placing events in context and practices that habit. "Just before this Sunday's election in Haiti," Goodman and Moynihan wrote on March 23, 2011, "President Rene Preval gave Aristide the diplomatic passport he had long promised him. Earlier, on January 19, then U.S. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley tweeted, referring to Aristide: 'today Haiti needs to focus on its future, not its past.' [Aristide's wife] Mildred was incensed. She said the U.S. had been saying that since they forced him out of the country. Sitting in a plane a few minutes before landing in Haiti, she repeated the words of an African leader who criticized abuses of colonial powers by saying, 'I would stop talking about the past, if it weren't so present.'"

Part of the recent history reviewed here is the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement. As our government/media work to rewrite those stories, Goodman and Moynihan remind us of the days when people in Cairo held up a sign that read "To: America. From: the Egyptian People. Stop supporting Mubarak. It's over!" This collection takes us through the occupy movement and numerous other stories that are ongoing and developing, serving as an ideal primer for those now getting or staying involved.

The current crisis in Syria, for its coverage of which Democracy Now has been criticized, is too new and does not appear in the book.

Enough is included in this book for disturbing patterns to emerge without comment from the authors. Here, for example, are four years of empty threats to our government from our people. Many have probably forgotten Bill McKibben's statement in August 2001: "Our hope is to send a Richter 8 tremor through the political system on the day Barack Obama says no to Big Oil and reminds us all why we were so happy when he got elected. The tar sands pipeline is his test." Apparently there was no plan for what to do on the day (after day after day) on which Obama did not remind them why they were so happy. There was no contingency plan for his failing the test. There was no comprehension of how this guaranteed that he would choose to fail the test. And there is now forgetfulness of the growing ludicrousness of past promises and past pseudo-threats to power. Move the goal posts. Declare a new showdown. Avoid reading this book.

The themes of the book include many that never entered the recent Obama-Romney debates. Among them: race, and the death penalty. The themes of the book are not presented in isolation, but in interconnectedness. A Chicago police officer, Jon Burge, goes on a torture spree. "Where did it all begin?" ask Goodman and Moynihan. "One thing is clear: In 1968-69, Burge was an MP at the U.S. Army's Dong Tam camp in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, where captured suspected Viet Cong soldiers were allegedly interrogated with electric, hand-cranked field telephones supplying shocks. Torture techniques similar to this were rampant under Burge's command in Chicago." On October 6, 2010, Goodman and Moynihan wrote:

"News broke last week that the U.S. government purposely exposed hundreds of men in Guatemala to syphilis in ghoulish medical experiments conducted during the late 1940s. As soon as the story got out, President Barack Obama phoned President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala to apologize. Colom called the experiments 'an incredible violation of human rights.' Colom also says his government is studying whether it can bring the case to international court. ... Ironically, the Guatemala study began in 1946, the same year as the Nuremberg tribunals, the first of which tried Nazi doctors accused of conducting heinous experiments on concentration-camp prisoners. Half of those accused were put to death."

Numerous such connections are pointed out in the book or inevitably arise in the reader's mind. The U.S. Supreme Court in the Troy Davis case finds it constitutional to kill an innocent person. President Obama creates a drone program the serves primarily to do that very thing on a large scale.

While the Occupy movement would not have existed as a national phenomenon without the corporate media, Democracy Now was there first and stayed with it longer. Getting more people to watch Democracy Now must be an easier thing that getting the corporate media to favor the dismantling of corporate power. Goodman and Moynihan, who barely sleep, and who are driven by the urgent moral need to confront the horrors the corporate media rarely notices, are on their way to a town near you. Welcome them.
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on January 16, 2013
A series of in-depth, interesting/informative new stories in written versus broadcast form. As with the broadcast version several reports have follow up stories providing the in depth reporting so lacking from the flash in the pan corporate media. I purchased it originally for my Kindle and found it perfect reading for my daily commute. After reading the first couple of reports I bought a hard copy to share with friends. A must read for anyone serious about being informed.
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on January 2, 2013
Outstanding book. It's a collection of her columns, so you needn't read it all at one go.

It's an odd thing in our society; one hears much denigration and resentment of government, yet very little in the way of substantive, fact-based criticism. It's as if we are meant to be diverted by the "circus sideshow" of Reps v. Dems, and never notice the actual policies that affect our lives, and how much the two teams have in common. Nor are we meant to notice that the "leadership" may reflect very poorly what is thought or felt by their constituents. Ms. Goodman's book, with it's case studies, brings these questions into focus. Bravo, her!
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on June 16, 2013
I thought I was reasonably well informed as to how Iraq came about, what happened there, who was involved. Reading even a small part of this book revealed I had in fact been only slightly informed. This makes me ashamed to be an American. It makes one feel the need to somehow get even with Bush, Wolfowitz, and so many others. Wonder why the hostility in that part of the world? Read this book and you will no longer have doubts. So sad. . . . .
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on May 13, 2016
This book is a collection of Amy's weekly columns from '10-'12. Though the events may be dated, we must always remember that history repeats. The ideas and sharp political analysis espoused by Amy are simply timeless. Moreover, I just feel smarter having read this book!
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on May 25, 2013
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "Ben Bagdikian - The media conglomerates are not the only industry whose owners have become monopolistic in the American economy. But media products are unique in one vital respect. They do not manufacture nuts and bolts: they manufacture a social and political world."

2- "Mohamed Nasheed - It's easy to beat a dictator, but it's not so easy to get rid of a dictatorship. The networks, the intricacies, the institutions and everything that the dictatorship has established remains, even after the elections."

3- "Taniguchi - Nuclear power and mankind cannot coexist. We survivors of the atomic bomb have said this all along. And yet, the use of nuclear power was camouflaged as "peaceful" and continued to progress. You never know when there's going to be natural disaster. You can never say that there will never be a nuclear accident."

4- "The election of Barack Obama, the son of an African, was a historic moment in the fight against racism. But unless U.S. cours are open to addressing wrongs, past and present, corporations will still feel free to go abroad and profit from racist and repressive policies."

5- "People who are against hate are not a fringe minority, not even a silent majority. They are silenced by the chattering classes, who are driving this debate throughout the media."

6- "Anaya Roy - In this context of inequality, one doesn't need radical instruments of redistribution. One only needs a few things, like decent public education or access to health care or some sort of reasonable approach that says enough of this massive spending on war."

7- "David Graeber - Debts between the very wealthy or between governments can always be renegotiated and always have been throughout world history...It's when you have debts owed by the poor to the rich that suddenly debts become a sacred obligation, more important than anything else. The idea of renegotiating them becomes unthinkable."

8- "Dwight D. Eisenhower - We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."

9- "Margaret Mead - Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

10- "Le Carre - Victims never forget, and the winners do. And they forget very quickly."

11- "Kennedy - The erosion of all these institutions, I think, of American democracy have forced people who care about our country, and who care about civic health, into this box of civil disobedience and local action."

12- "Luis Iriondo - We have to look to the past to understand the present, to create a better future."
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on February 28, 2016
A wonderful book -- each chapter taken from a time in the past when one socially significant issue arose -- but potentially depressing at it exposes the waste and fraud of our government, often making me wonder and worry whether there's any hope.
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on October 25, 2012
If you appreciate great journalism about the real issues, this is just the book for you. A compilation of her weekly essays, this book is well organized and extremely moving. Amy Goodman is an incredible journalist and writer, always investigating very side and looking out for the little guy in this money driven, corporate world. She is an incredible lady, and this book perfectly captures her many experiences and her intelligence. It's a fast read and a must read for anyone who wants to learn the full story about American politics, and not just the stories the mainstream media or the parties deem important.
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on December 18, 2012
Ms.Goodman is the kind of investigative journalist that all of the rest should aspire to be. With the possible exception of Greg Palast. He is also very good.
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on May 29, 2013
A few of the articles appear repetitive and become tedious. However, these are powerful reminders of the paths we have taken as a society, and the shame that we have put on our humanity.
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