Seymour Hersh, writing in the London Review of Books:
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
Both The New Yorker and The Washington Post declined to run this story, with the Post reportedly expressing concerns about Hersh's sourcing. The Obama administration has called the thrust of Hersh's story "simply false."
I am afraid I have to protest. I do not belong to the circle of philosophers. My profession, if one can even speak of it at all, is political theory. I neither feel like a philosopher, nor do I believe that I have been accepted in the circle of philosophers, as you so kindly suppose.
Arendt is now perhaps best remembered for her book about World War II war crimes, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. It's controversial in part because Arendt tries to strip Eichmann and other Nazis of their bogeyman status, revealing them as nothing so much as bland bureaucrats. She didn't absolve them of their evil deeds, but she did strenuously make the case that they were ordinary people...
Duck Dynasty is in its fourth season (51 episodes!), which is amazing because superhuman strength is required to reach even the middle of a single 20-minute show. The one I watched, "Spring Clean Pong" (it was first screened a year ago), opens with the beards picking berries (Mama, we are told, makes the best pie with these here berries). The men shake a tree, the berries fall, and the men pick the berries from the ground. One of the beards decides to eat a berry he has just picked—but almost immediately he spits it out and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "Damn! That berry tastes terrible." Another beard, pointing at something on the ground: "Did you pick it up from right there? You did? Because that's a coon turd [not a berry]." This is entertainment? And why in the world is a city person like me even watching this nonsense? Because the hicks who make the duck calls have decided to make wine.
The Macklemore & Ryan Lewis vs. Pearl Jam vs. Slog Holiday Charity Challenge continues, and Pearl Jam fans have jumped ahead!!! Could it be the energy from Pearl Jam's amazing hometown show on Friday night?! They wouldn't stop playing even when KeyArena turned the lights on—that's how much they love their fans, and rightfully so, because their fans are the kind of people who are coming out in droves to support YouthCare's Orion Center.
TOTAL $$$ RAISED SO FAR FOR THE ORION CENTER:
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fans have donated: $13,443.14
• Pearl Jam fans, taking the lead!: $16,228.27
• Slog fans (hearts!): $5,425.00
And Seattlish fans are still donating too, to the tune of $750!
TOTAL $$$: $35,846.41
Then again, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis had a pretty good day yesterday... if you consider picking up a bunch of Grammy nominations a good day. "Same Love" is up for Song of the Year, people. It makes you tear up a little bit, doesn't it?
About 74 percent of those that YouthCare sees were physically or sexually abused at home, while 40 percent left home or were kicked out because of their sexuality. YouthCare and the Orion Center help our city's homeless young people by providing daily hot meals, a clothing bank, shelter beds, GED classes, job training programs, and help finding permanent housing. These are our city's exploited and forgotten kids: We want to keep the Orion Center fully funded and operational for the next year. We're a third of the way to our goal!
Let's do this. Donate to the Orion Center right now!
And Seattlish fans can go here to give and make a note that it's on behalf of Seattlish/anti-Dan-Savage! And, of course, if you give at least $25 to the Orion Center, then forward us your receipt and your commenter handle, we'll give you a commenter tag on Slog that says SLOG FAN, MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS FAN, or PEARL JAM FAN! Your choice!
Now, onward! And remember: the fans that raise the most for the Orion Center by December 24th WIN the title of the Best Fans of the Best Band or Best Blog in the Universe Forever!
Captionless photos run through Aaron Huey's book of photos from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota like an unruly river, some to the edges of the pages, overflowing the banks of what we see. There's beautiful bleakness, mostly free of context—maybe because, as Huey told me, "the more time I spend [at Pine Ridge], the more confused I am about what to do with it."
As a journalist for National Geographic and Harper's, Huey became a righteous advocate, exhorting the federal government to honor the treaties and give back the Black Hills. You may have seen his "Honor the Treaties" poster campaign with street-art mogul Shepard Fairey.
But there are problems.
Brrr: Seattle police are driving around with a van picking up cold homeless people and bringing them to shelters.
Eww: Cops are still monsters, says Gawker.
Jobs: The latest jobs numbers are in from the Bureau of Labor Statistics! To summarize: Older workers are doing ok, the death of manufacturing has been exaggerated, pay hasn't budged for restaurant and hotel workers, and there are still millions of long-term unemployed folks.
Blech: Oh JP Morgan, does your villainy know no bounds? (It appears the answer is yes, as this story is about corruption in China.)
Hah: Morale is down at the National Security Agency.
Boo: The FBI, by installing malware on someone's machine, can "covertly activate a computer’s camera—without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording."
Wow: Some Syrian refugees fleeing war are settling—of all places—in Gaza.
Apartheid: The Israeli military allegedly shot and killed a boy named Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi in Ramallah and attacked a Palestinian commemoration of Nelson Mandela yesterday.
Filmmaker Jesse Freeston offers a disturbing and comprehensive look at last week's elections in Honduras and argues they're just another piece of the country's unfolding and internationally-backed coupism:
He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys.
Remember the Candlelight Vigil for Nelson Mandela: It's tonight at the International Fountain at Seattle Center, at 6:30 p.m. Goldy explains why Nelson Mandela was such an important man.
Seattle Forms Socialist District: Well, not really, but Kshama Sawant did really well in what will be her home council district. For more district analysis, look here. Plus, you should see this overview of where Seattle's most conservative voters live.
Where's Your Pot At? Check this handy map!
Shape Up or Ship Out: Chief Pugel basically tells the SPD to stop being racist and embrace reform.
Speaking of Cops in Need of Reform: The sergeant who threatened Dominic Holden has been placed on leave.
Fifteen Miles for Fifteen Dollars: Goldy covers the minimum wage march.
Valuing Santa Over the Presidency: Dan Savage says the GOP is blowing itself up over stupid shit.
White Man Insists He's Not Racist: What we need is a Clippy-style software robot who can tell you how to avoid being dumb when you're charged with racism.
Slog Hates Chimps: Or at least, you don't think chimps deserve human rights.
Nobody Loves Slugs: Go die in the cold, invertebrate scum.
You Have Lots of Opinions About Typing: And many of you had suggestions for Jen Graves's typing-related pains.
Give Big to the 2013 Holiday Charity Challenge! All the information you need is right here. If you give more than $25, remember to forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your fancy commenter tag. Help your favorite band (or blog) win the title of the most givingest musical act (or bunch of lazy, self-hating stoners) in the history of charity!
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fans: GIVE HERE!
• Pearl Jam fans: GIVE HERE!
• Slog fans: GIVE HERE!
It's a beautiful statement, brave and necessary. I hope our Olympic athletes—and athletes from Canada and France and Germany and the UK and Australia and Norway and New Zealand and everywhere else—show similar bravery in Sochi. Thank you, Elton, for speaking out.
Remember the Christian radio host who accused Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll of plagiarism?
The Christian Post has a story on the fallout from the accusations, the centerpiece of which is a blog post from a recently departed producer on the accusation-making radio show (bolds mine):
All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.....Those who have the temerity to call out a celebrity have tremendous courage. The easiest thing in the world is to do fluffy interviews with fluffy guests on fluffy books. So hats off to those like Janet who have the courage to ask at all. And my own opinion on Mr. Driscoll is that despite the bravado, despite the near silence of his Reformed peers and enablers, his brand is damaged, and damaged by his own hand.
Read the whole thing here.
(Speaking of Mark Driscoll, have you read Lindy West's exhaustive roundup of his awfulness? You must!)
From this week's I, Anonymous:
Okay, Seattle (I'm talking to you especially, Ballard): Enough with the merchants and others who want our money being SO NICE AND FRIENDLY to us seniors, when the rest of the known universe looks down their noses or looks away at shades of gray. (Hey, sorry I'm a boomer able to retire on a pension, ha-ha.) Anyway, what's with this "How's your day going so far?" question I get from checkout people at different stores? Well, my day goes about like yours—schlepping around doing this and that and trying to avoid phony checkers at the store (yay for self-checkout). I guess what I mean to say is that when it comes to customers, honesty and genuine human behavior wins, so stop with the stroking of the seniors. Stroking is not something we like.
And from the comments section:
The Macklemore & Ryan Lewis vs. Pearl Jam vs. Slog Holiday Charity Challenge continues, and now the fans of Seattlish, America's Second-Greatest Blog™, are throwing in their support for YouthCare's Orion Center too! Of course, fans of Seattlish also want "to stop Dan Savage's tyranny!"—that's one Seattlish donor's own words—which is great—whatever gets you to donate!
Everyone who is giving is helping the Orion Center to provide food, shelter, safety, and alternatives to homeless youth in our city. The high today here in Seattle is going to be a whopping 29 degrees, so you only have to step outside to understand a little bit of the tremendous importance of the work that YouthCare and the Orion Center does. Now, the new totals!
TOTAL $$$ RAISED SO FAR FOR THE ORION CENTER:
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fans have donated: $13,143.14
• Pearl Jam fans have donated: $ 8,536.27
• Slog fans have donated: $5,030.00
• Seattlish fans have donated: $410.00
TOTAL $$$: $27,119.41
THIS IS SO GREAT. You are all absolute angels. Haven't given?! Now's the time! Donate to the Orion Center right now!
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fans: GO HERE TO GIVE!
• Pearl Jam fans: GO HERE TO GIVE!
• Slog fans: GO HERE TO GIVE!
• Seattlish fans: GO HERE TO GIVE and you can make a note that it's on behalf of Seattlish/against Dan Savage!
Yesterday's winner of the EMP prize package: Macklemore fan and Slog commenter A_Mang, whose story was touching:
WHY I WANT TO EXPERIENCE MUSIC AT THE EMP:
Today is my birthday! I'm turning 36, which means it's my year in the Chinese Zodiac—the year of the snake. This is an important birthday for me, as I just got clean and sober a little over five months ago. I'm a Macklemore fan for obvious reasons, and have been since 2005.
I've always enjoyed the EMP, especially the amazing lighting and video effects in the Sky Church. I've dabbled in lighting design and control as a hobby, so it's always been a joy for me to visit there.
Now that I'm not using (and I was using absolutely the wrong drugs), I seek out and relish opportunities to get into a different headspace while clean and sober. Great music, great lighting, and an all-around sensory experience is a fantastic way to do that. That's why I would be thrilled to get to experience music at the EMP.
Excellent. Now, onward! And remember: the fans that raise the most for the Orion Center by December 24th WIN the title of the Best Fans of the Best Band or Best Blog in the Universe Forever!
P.S. Give at least $25 to the Orion Center right now, forward us your receipt and your commenter handle, and we'll give you a commenter tag on Slog that says SLOG FAN, MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS FAN, or PEARL JAM FAN! Your choice!
Here's a compelling—and depressing—longread for your Saturday morning: young homeschooled adults are fleeing their fundamentalist and, all too often, abusive families. They're also confronting "Christian" activists and legal organizations whose efforts have made it easier for homeschooling parents to isolate, terrorize, miseducate, and abuse their children.
Jennifer’s rescue coincided with the emergence of a coalition of young former fundamentalists who are coming out publicly, telling their stories, and challenging the Christian homeschooling movement. The website that linked to Jennifer’s story was Homeschoolers Anonymous, launched in March by two homeschool graduates, Ryan Stollar and Nicholas Ducote. Their goal was to show what goes on behind closed doors in some Christian homeschooling families—to share, as one blogger puts it, “the stories we were never allowed to talk about as children.”
As of October, Homeschoolers Anonymous had published nearly 200 personal accounts and attracted more than 600,000 page views. For those outside the homeschooling movement, and for many inside it, the stories are revelatory and often shocking. The milder ones detail the haphazard education received from parents who, with little state oversight, prioritize obedience and religious training over learning. Some focus on women living under strict patriarchal regimes. Others chronicle appalling abuse that lasted for years.
Growing up in California and Oregon, Stollar wasn’t abused, but he met many other homeschoolers who were. His parents led state homeschooling associations and started a debate club in San Jose. The emphasis on debate in fundamentalist homeschooling was the brainchild of Michael Farris, the founder of Patrick Henry College, and his daughter Christy Shipe. Farris believed debate competitions would create a new generation of culture warriors with the skills to “engage the culture for Christ.” “You teach the kids what to think, you keep them isolated from everyone else, you give them the right answers, and you keep them pure,” Stollar explains. “And now you train them how to argue and speak publicly, so they can go out to do what they’re supposed to do”—spread the faith and promote God’s patriarchy.
As a teenager, Stollar toured the national homeschool debate circuit with a group called Communicators for Christ, sharpening his rhetorical skills and giving speech tutorials. Along the way, he found himself increasingly disturbed by what he saw. He met families that follow the concept of “Quiverfull,” wherein women are submissive to men and forgo contraception to have as many children as God gives them. He encountered entire communities where women wore only denim jumpers for modesty’s sake, where parents burned their daughters’ birth certificates to keep them at home, where teenagers practiced “betrothal,” a kind of arranged marriage. He met homeschooling kids who dealt with the stress by cutting themselves, drinking, or developing eating disorders—the very terrors their parents had fled the public schools to avoid. “Even as a conservative Christian homeschooler,” Stollar says, “I was constantly experiencing culture shock.”
A decade later, Stollar, who lives in Los Angeles, was still hearing the stories from his peers. The ex-debaters and homeschoolers were now grappling with the fallout from their childhoods: depression, mental illness, substance abuse. “I was starting to see these patterns emerging,” he says, “and we all felt that they came from the same places.”
One passage from Nelson Mandela's writing that I have seen quoted frequently since his death is:
But then I slowly saw that not only was I not free, but my brothers and sisters were not free. I saw that it was not just my freedom that was curtailed, but the freedom of everyone who looked like I did. That is when I joined the African National Congress, and that is when the hunger for my own freedom became the greater hunger for the freedom of my people. It was this desire for the freedom of my people to live their lives with dignity and self-respect that animated my life, that transformed a frightened young man into a bold one, that drove a law-abiding attorney to become a criminal, that turned a family-loving husband into a man without a home, that forced a life-loving man to live like a monk. I am no more virtuous or self-sacrificing than the next man, but I found that I could not even enjoy the poor and limited freedoms I was allowed when I knew my people were not free. Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.
This rang a bell with me: Eugene Victor Debs, upon being sentenced to prison for anti-War work:
“Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
Of course, we can honor Mandela, but Debs remains a footnote in American history, because socialism.
Matika Wilbur is the kind of photographer who calls ahead. She laughs loud and makes friends easily and sleeps on the couches and floors of her subjects. If she gets sick, like she did this past August, after too many nights with no sleep, driving through the American West with her camera, she is offered an actual bed, and actually takes it. In August, it was Steven Yellowtail who insisted she take his bedroom and he would sleep on the family couch. He'd never met her before. He only knew she was a friend of his older sister's and that she was doing something she wouldn't be able to do unless she had couches and beds and floors to sleep on. What she's doing is spending several years—as long as it takes, and as long as the grant money and Kickstarter funds last—visiting and taking pictures of every Native American tribe in the United States.
She's been traveling a year so far, at the wheel of her improbable black sports car, one woman following her own grand vision. But...
Here in Seattle, the city has identified a half dozen potential replacement models for its fleet of around 300 cop cars, tested them for more than a year, and said it will announce a winner in the next few months.
But while city spokespeople say the process is going smoothly—and it's partly on hold now while the mayor's office changes hands—the union representing roughly 1,200 Seattle cops seems to feel otherwise, claiming that a decision was already made by officers and then rejected at city hall.
In the November issue of the Guardian, the newspaper of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild (SPOG), vice president Sergeant Ty Elster complains that the city ignored cops' recommendation. He writes that "after many months of SPOG members testing, evaluating, and researching vehicles," when the cops announced their pick, "City Hall didn't like our selection."
What was that winning vehicle? A Ford Interceptor SUV.
Just picture it: A brand-new fleet of hulking police SUVs cruising the city while the department tries to soften its image. The department is currently under a federal consent decree that contends police have used excessive force and racially biased tactics. Not to mention the city is also trying to meet new climate goals.
Pot Party Celebrating Legalization Goes Down: Check out the dude jammin' in the bright pink pants when they cut to the live reporter.
Liberalism: 1) Bill Clinton pressured South Africa under Mandela to "adopt trade policies that benefited U.S. corporations while restricting South African access to drugs treating HIV and AIDS," and 2) NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio ran against stop-and-frisk but looks set to continue it.
Feckless: The SEC isn't including a proposal to force companies to disclose political contributions to shareholders on its regulatory agenda. Thanks, SEC!
Meth House: College students renting a home in Bellingham started feeling "dizzy and lethargic" before they realized something was amiss.
Petty Republicans Scupper State Climate Change Panel: "No, no, no. You started this fight," insisted Rep. Shelly Short when Governor Jay Inslee expressed his disappointment at the panel's lack of progress.
HD 106906: Shouldn't exist.
The Van Damme stunt in Gaza, minus the corporate messaging:
"We gotta beat back the bank attack!" chanted homeowner Janie Mair and her supporters from SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction) this evening, outside the Bank of America branch on Beacon Hill. Leading that chant through a megaphone in the freezing cold? City council member Kshama Sawant.
Mair was a human rights journalist in China (some of her friends died in the Tiananmen Square uprising), according to SAFE organizer Josh Farris. She emigrated here, but when Mair was injured, her mother fell ill, and the recession hit, she began falling behind mortgage payments, Farris explains. Due to SAFE's protests, Wells Fargo has delayed the auction of her home, but Bank of America is trying to foreclose on Mair's sister's Beacon Hill home and refuses to negotiate with the family, he says.
You'll recall that another South Seattle homeowner, Jeremy Griffin, faced foreclosure at the hands of Wells Fargo this summer. Sawant was arrested on the property along with several others when the King County Sheriff came to evict him.
"We really respect Kshama because she got arrested with us defending Jeremy's house, which has had a really good impact on Jane's negotiations with Wells Fargo," says Farris. "She's obviously leading the way, by showing how little leadership we've seen from the other representatives."
As I asked Sawant whether she supports SAFE's call for a moratorium on evictions, she was already nodding and saying yes. She's interested in organizing a forum that brings together people concerned about the minimum wage, wage theft, and fair housing—working class issues in Seattle—she added.
First they bought Marvel Comics, then they bought Star Wars, and now Disney bought Indiana Jones, too. I'm betting they're going to recast Indy, James Bond-style, rather than try another Harrison Ford outing. I think every one of my childhood obsessions is now owned by Disney.
Remember that time when I got very excited at my discovery that the former directors of the Frye had collected a bunch of photography and donated it to the Hutch? And all those in-depth questions I had, about comparing the Frye collection with the photo collection and...
Well, it turns out that what's at the Hutch is the Kullman Collection, donated in 2010 by the family of Frederick S. Kullman, an attorney who'd lived in Bellingham. Full press release (I don't think I was on their list in 2010—now I believe they have added me, most likely to keep me from erroring them in future).
How did I get this so wrong? Evidently there is a plaque that names the collectors. I missed this entirely. GAHH. But a word in my defense: What you see in the gallery is not the usual gallery-naming convention. The namers' names (the Greathouses) are writ large across the top of the wall, with the collectors' names smaller. I did not notice any plaque. This plaque may be a little more obscure than is best for clarity's sake.
Anyhoo. The collection is notable regardless of who put it together; it's just not Frye-related.
This was, however, a pretty great comment comparing W. Eugene Smith's all-sweetness portrait of his children to Franz von Stuck's lurid painting Sin:
Thanks to everyone for playing, and my apologies to all of you, to the Hutch, and to the Kullman family.
Seattle Transit Blog has maps and more.
Read Slog's comment threads or the op/ed page of the Seattle Times (pretty much the same level of trollery) and you might think that a $15 minimum wage is CRAZY TALK—the idiotic far-fringe ramblings of commies, morons, and Aztlán revolutionaries. Anybody who knows anything about economics, the critics argue, knows that a $15 minimum wage would be a job-killing/small-business-destroying disaster.
But if a $15 minimum wage is as far outside the mainstream of economic and political thought as its critics imply, you wouldn't know it from the official reception pro-$15 marchers received on the steps of Seattle City Hall yesterday. I saw at least five of the nine council members who will vote on a proposed ordinance greet marchers at the end of their 15-mile trek from SeaTac—Mike O'Brien, Nick Licata, Sally Bagshaw, Jean Godden, and of course Kshama Sawant. And Bagshaw and Godden went so far as to show their support by serving the marchers coffee.
Bagshaw and Godden are hardly radicals.
The fact is there's nothing radical about suggesting that the minimum wage should be higher in Seattle than it is in much of the rest of the state. Nearly everything is more expensive in Seattle—housing especially—and minimum wage workers here simply need higher pay than their counterparts in, say, Yakima or Ferry counties. Whether that number should be $12 or $15 or $20, well, that boat has already sailed. By refusing to participate honestly in this debate opponents have passed up the opportunity to participate in calculating the proper number. So $15 it is, and the majority of council members seem comfortable with that.
Turns out, it's the Seattle Times editorial board that is far outside of Seattle's political mainstream, not the $15 minimum wage advocates. So if the editors want to remain relevant in this debate it is time for them to stop simply dissing the proposal, and to start suggesting ways to make it better. There is room for compromise in terms of the length of time it takes to phase in a $15 an hour wage, the types of businesses that might be exempted, and whether or not to include a tip credit, for example.
But to flat out argue against a $15 minimum wage in Seattle isn't just a losing argument, it's an argument that has already lost.
Tariqa Waters is the owner, curator, and painter-of-Andrew-Jackson. I just happened on Martyr Sauce walking by last night, during the grand opening. It was pretty grand. Most galleries aren't half this energetic right off the bat. Martyr Sauce advertises itself, right on the nutritional label, as 100 percent of your daily needed iron intake, and made of:
Ingredients: Piss, Distilled Vinegar (contains 2% or less of the following) Irreverence, High Fructose Cough Syrup, Non Hydrogenated Snake Oil, Street (and/or) Book Smarts, White Privilege, Black Rage, Natural Flavor, Artificial Color.
The first show is paintings by Elizabeth Lopez. Waters found Lopez working at Seattle Art Museum. "That's where all the rogue artists work, at the cafeteria and gift shop at SAM," Waters says. Martyr Sauce's next opening is the first Thursday in January; scour the low-wage workers at local museums to guess who it might be.
This Guardian special report should be required reading. It uncovers anti-government programs sponsored by think tanks that are funded by the Koch Brothers and corporations like Philip Morris, Kraft, and GlaxoSmithKline. Here are some of the programs sponsored by the think tanks listed in the Guardian report:
• "Reforms" to public employee pensions raised by SPN thinktanks in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania;
• tax elimination or reduction schemes in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, Nebraska and New York;
• an education voucher system to promote private and home schooling in Florida;
• campaigns against worker and union rights in Delaware and Nevada;
• opposition to Medicaid in Georgia, North Carolina and Utah.
These programs are being pitched in 34 states across America. But one of the most extreme programs is unfolding in my home state of Maine:
In its grant bid, the Maine Heritage Policy Center asked for $35,000 to support a "research and demonstration project" that would "release residents from extreme government dependency". It would turn the state's poorest area into what the Portland Press Herald describes in its report from Washington County as "a gigantic tax-free zone".
Dubbed "FreeME", the initiative would eliminate state income tax and sale taxes from residents and businesses until the economic conditions in the county rise to the statewide average. The hole in the county's income from lost tax revenues – estimated at $35m a year by the think tank – would be filled through budget cuts.
Lots of people don't know this because they think of the state as nothing but lighthouses and lobster, but Maine is a very poor state. And once you get away from the relative affluence of the Portland area in southern Maine, you'll come across some areas that resemble Appalachia in terms of poverty. Combine that poverty with one of the teabaggiest governors in the country, and you've got a fertile testing ground for Koch-style libertarianism. I'm sure the business opportunities presented by a "tax-free zone" are appealing to the international corporations behind these think tanks, too. If this idea becomes a reality, the residents of Washington County will be paraded around by the conservative media as examples of what America could be like under the "power" of unfettered capitalism. They're planning to experiment on forgotten and ignored Americans like lab animals.