About Blake Fleetwood

Blake Fleetwood Blake Fleetwood was formerly on the staff of The New York Times and has written for The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, The New York Daily News, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Village Voice, Atlantic and the Washington Monthly on a number of issues. He was born in Santiago, Chile and moved to New York City at the age of three. He graduated from Bard College and did graduate work in political science and comparative politics at Columbia University. He has also taught politics at New York University. He can be reached at jfleetwood@aol.com.

Taking on the Great God of Exceptionalism

American Exceptionalism

Time was when the U.S. was really truly exceptional in many areas — in the 1950’s and 1960’s  —- after the rest of the world’s manufacturing was destroyed in World War II. But in those years, there wasn’t much talk of American Exceptionalism. It was so obvious, especially in the economic sphere, when the U.S. accounted for 50 percent of the World’s GDP. But, America was also clearly superior to the rest of the world in terms of education, civil liberties, social mobility, science, health care, and a host of other areas. And most importantly, the ideas — our ideas,  that were at the formation of the American Revolution: liberty, equality, free trade, the rights of the governed, etc — … Continue reading

NPR — WLRN Backs Down on Banned Book and Author Interview

What Lies Across The Water Stephen Kimber

NPR’s Miami affiliate back-tracked yesterday after canceling an interview with author Stephen Kimber because the subject was “too incendiary and fears of a negative reaction from certain segments of the community.” (See original emails below) Yesterday, after repeated calls to the station from this author, Joseph Labonia, general manager of the station, overruled his program director host,  Joseph Cooper. Labonia said, in a public spanking — that noted that Cooper was not part of the news team: “We want to do more than express a mea culpa, however. We want to make this right. As a result, WLRN’s news division (to which Mr. Cooper does not belong) will be interviewing Stephen Kimber, the author of What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of … Continue reading

Is The President a Little Jealous of Edward Snowden?

obama-national-security

“I was going to do it, really I was.” This is the essence of President Obama’s remarks last week when he announced an overhaul of NSA procedures and the secret courts and secret opinions. “I called for a thorough review of our surveillance operations before Mr. Snowden made these leaks… ” In other words, “He stole my thunder.” President Obama respectfully mentioned “Mr. Snowden” seven times in his remarks and almost seemed jealous of the whistleblower’s influence. He didn’t call Putin “Mr. Putin” The president said last week: “As I said at the National Defense University back in May…we have to strike the right balance between protecting our security and preserving our freedoms. And as part of this rebalancing, I … Continue reading

Whistleblowers Necessary for a Free Press

Bradley Manning

In a well-orchestrated effort to get ahead of the story, this week the Obama administration released a trove of secret information about domestic spying and the rules of how the domestic phone records may be accessed and used by intelligence analysts. And yesterday, the president met with congressional leaders to assure them that the secret NSA programs would be adjusted. But, the administration efforts failed miserably in heading off the growing outcry and only raised more questions than they answered. Too little, too late. Even as senators debated the program, The Guardian published a 32-page presentation,  downloaded by Edward J. Snowden, that describes a separate surveillance activity by the agency. It gives NSA analysts access to virtually any Internet browsing … Continue reading

Is Edward Snowden the Only American Who Remembers the Words of the 4th Amendment?

Edward Snowden

This week an unusual bipartisan effort from 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats almost succeeded in an attempt to cut off funding for the NSA’s collection of phone data by 205 “yes” to 217 “no” votes. But the movement to curb the NSA’s secret power over American citizens has now spread from the fringes, the wing nuts, of the Republican and Democratic parties to considerable mainstream support which the New York Times now calls “unstoppable.” Even backers of the NSA’s sweeping surveillance policies now admit that changes and more transparency are likely, as the politics of the issue are changing rapidly. Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said there are serious meetings to find accommodations to widespread public misgivings … Continue reading

“Perhaps, in such times, loving one’s country means being hated by its government.”

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden is a loyal American. Perhaps the most loyal American of us all. How many of us are brave enough to do what he did? How many of us would choose to give up family, a home in paradise, a high paying job, to help his country. How many of us would sacrifice our own future, for the future of America’s democratic ideals and freedoms? I am not that brave. But history will judge Snowden as the hero that he really is. Thank you Edward Snowden. All loyal Americans are in your debt. – —————————————————————— Snowden has also exposed a double standard in America’s laws and its politics. For more than 50 years the U.S. has harbored and trained Cuban exile terrorists who … Continue reading

Squandering the American Dream with Wasteful Spending

Do we really need 234 military golf courses around the world, an $80 million military ski resort in the Bavarian Alps and a parade of unnecessary weapons, ships, and planes?It is increasingly obvious that our enormous untouchable “military” budget is not always being used for our national defense.Likewise, our massive health care budget, both public and private, is not making us any healthier. Much of the spending is squandered by inflated payments to a bloated medical establishment. Why does a simple colonoscopy cost Americans nearly $7,000 when the same procedure costs $700 in the rest of the advanced nations? Healthcare and military costs are the elephants in the American economy. All other spending is minor compared to spending on healthcare … Continue reading

Kerry Should Stay in Senate, Romney for Secretary of State

RomneyObama

President Obama had lunch yesterday with Mitt Romney and one of the topics they discussed was Romney’s plan for making “government more efficient.” Obama has praised Romney for his work in running the Olympics and for his skills that could lend themselves to making the government work better, said Jay Carney, White House spokesman. Certainly Romney has great passion and experience for restructuring and downsizing inefficient companies. If any organization is dysfunctional and outrageously expensive for what we get in return, it is the Department of Defense… a Mitt Romney, when not catering to right-wing Tea Party zealots, surely recognizes that. Maybe Romney could outsource some of these defensive duties to our erstwhile allies overseas. Does the Pentagon really need … Continue reading