If you can get someone to pay you or feed you while you do all of that, then by all means do it. Otherwise, your second best option is to listen to Noam Chomsky. Chomsky knows an incredible amount of information and is brilliant at analyzing it. He does so without any theory or pretense, using a vocabulary that any high school graduate has mastered.
Not to worry: David Barsamian has conducted a series of interviews with Chomsky between March 2003 and February 2005, and has consistently asked penetrating and provocative questions. These interviews have just been published as "Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World." You can buy the book or the audio compact disc and I highly recommend doing so.
If you're familiar with Chomsky, he will still manage to surprise you with analyses of recent events that you've never imagined before. If you're not familiar with Chomsky, this book is probably an ideal place to start. Chomsky is one of the most quoted writers ever and is extremely well known in many countries around the world. He appears on mainstream media in many countries as well, just not his own, the United States. Some years back, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting ran a headline: "Chomsky Appears on PBS, Western Civilization Survives." But that was Chomsky's one and only appearance on airwaves that clearly have a lot of space for intensely boring pundits predictably mouthing the same corporate-corrupted logic.
To find out why the US corporate media is horrified of Chomsky, you need only listen to him for a little while. He compares accepted United States' actions to identical but reviled actions by other states. He pulls out quotes from the past articulating almost the exact same position that the US media has just announced as a new breakthrough in human civilization. He points out areas in which the United States is unique among industrialized countries and questions whether they are desirable or necessary: such as our uniquely high level of fear and insecurity or our uniquely high level of religiosity. Chomsky is not out to soothe our souls and comfort our cherished misconceptions. He wants us to see the world differently and to act to change it, but to drop the also uniquely American idea that political change can be fast and easy: one demonstration or election means little, he warns us; we need long-term tedious activism.
I'd love to quote a dozen examples from the book, but they're not really aphoristic. You need to read a few paragraphs in most cases to get the point. But part of what makes Chomsky's arguments so powerful is the historical cases he pulls out of his memory. I'll offer one example. Chomsky sees the recent US attack on Iraq as having been contingent on Iraq offering absolutely no threat to the United States (exactly the opposite of what Bush alleged). Chomsky offers another example of this pattern:
"President Kennedy was trying to organize the hemisphere to support his terrorist attacks against Cuba, which were very severe. Generally, other countries in the Western Hemisphere just have to do what they're told by the United States, or they're in bad trouble. But Mexico refused to go along with the campaign against Cuba. And the Mexican ambassador said, 'If we publicly declare that Cuba is a threat to our security, forty million Mexicans will die laughing.' "
The danger in reading Chomsky is that millions of Americans will die laughing every time they turn on their televisions.
David Swanson is creator of MeetWithCindy.org, co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, a writer and activist, and the Washington Director of Democrats.com. He is a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and serves on the Executive Council of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, Media Coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as Communications Coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Swanson obtained a Master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1997. His website is www.davidswanson.org