John Buell

John Buell has a PhD in political science, taught for 10 years at College of the Atlantic, and was an Associate Editor of The Progressive for ten years. He lives in Southwest Harbor, Maine and writes on labor and environmental issues. His most recent book, published by Palgrave in August 2011, is "Politics, Religion, and Culture in an Anxious Age." He may be reached at jbuell@acadia.net

Articles by this author

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Friday, July 01, 2011
Born on the Fourth of July?
Lately our political leaders talk a lot about borders. It is an article of faith that we must “secure our borders.” But is the concern for secure borders really a matter of our physical safety, a desire to protect ourselves from violent criminality? Or are we trying to reassert or reclaim clarity, vigor, and validity of the nation state itself in an era that makes nationalism increasingly problematic?
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Thursday, May 12, 2011
Osama and the Culture Warriors
Okay, let me get this straight. A vast swath of land along the Mississippi is now drowning, with an end to the spread of the flooding still weeks away. The Southeast is recovering from a series of tornadoes historic in both scope and intensity. And Texas seeks to recover from the worst forest fires in 90 years and the most severe drought in a century. Yet what seems to concern our leaders and the corporate media the most? Even in death, Osama bin Laden is the focus of attention.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Faces of Government
I had dinner the other night with one of those villains, a "faceless bureaucrat" working as a wildlife biologist for the Department of the Interior in northern Florida. A college friend of my wife, she had spent many years in research on endangered species, and now has moved into an administrative position where she supervises the research of other wildlife scientists.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The Personal Automobile Makes for a Bad Romance
Reading about another tragic life-altering car crash here on Mount Desert Island reminded me of an old newspaper headline. Ten years ago a newspaper in Saskatchewan, which has a population slightly less than Maine’s, ran an eye-popping headline: 165 People Killed! 7,562 Injured! Over $100,000,000 in Property Damage! Provincial Government Helpless! Expects Same Carnage Next Year!”
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Spirituality, Economics and Nature
The United States lags the world in responding to climate change. Guardian columnist George Monbiot points out that as the scientific consensus grows, skeptics gain ground. Though I find the consensus persuasive, science probably won’t win this argument. Social and religious values play a big a role.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Are We Bidding Farewell to Advocacy Journalism?
With the passing of Daniel Schorr and the forced retirement of Helen Thomas, are we bidding farewell to "advocacy journalism," the journalist who makes news rather than reports it? I think not. All journalism is advocacy of one sort or another. That Thomas and Schorr have no clear successors hardly demonstrates the passing of advocacy journalism. A journalist's questions neither are nor can be merely neutral and descriptive. Advocacy journalism remains a staple of the D.C. press corps, but it is advocacy on behalf of the privileged and the powerful.
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Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Afternoon Spent Listening to Talk Radio
Recently on a dull Sunday afternoon I tuned in a local talk radio program. Talk radio generally pains me, not so much because of the content as the tone. Tone and content are not fully severable, but talk radio often conveys less a consistent position than diffuse anger, dogmatic certainty, and contempt for those of differing views and ways of living.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Recovering from Deficit Obsessions
The politics of private and government debt provide an occasion to contest both conventional economic theory and related moral narratives. The old story is that a profligate working class and indulgent governments spent themselves into deserved ruin. Yet as The New York Times reports, the wealthy are now defaulting in dis-proportionate numbers on investment housing loans. But as Robert Reich points out in his blog, working-class Americans "went into such deep debt ... because their wages didn't keep up. The median wage ... dropped between 2001 and 2007. ... [T]he only way ...
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Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Spending Not the Cause of Our Problems
"Runaway government spending" is an easy target now. It is not the cause of our problems. Government spending will not "crowd out" private investors. It is essential in stimulating the demand on which the private sector and even our ability to sustain healthy debt to gross national product ratios depend.
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Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Corporate, Religious Terrorism
Why won’t our leaders call BP a terrorist, a label readily applied not only to Faisal Shazhad but also to radical Muslims? Even if BP is indicted, few will question its right to the best defense money can buy even as police limit Shazhad’s Miranda rights. Our knee-jerk silencing of all radical Muslims while giving BP endless benefits of the doubt limits our ability to assess critical problems.
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