768: Empires and Illusions Shows


On Saturday, September 28th, your bitter blind broke gap-toothed radio show host Chuck Mertz interviewed…



Investigative Journalist Anabel Hernández Reports on Narcoland’s Secret Bureaucracy

Not every soldier in the Mexican drug trade carries a gun. Many carry badges, or briefcases, or business cards. And the functionaries behind the drug cartels inflict their own sort of violence on Mexico. Politicians, civil servants and entrepreneurs are complicit partners in the drug trade, and manage to profit from the drugs and violence flowing through their country,  working and profiting in secret. Until Anabel Hernández wrote her book. She talks with Chuck about the operations of Mexico’s drug cartels, their partners within government, and how difficult it will be for the nation to split the two apart.

Anabel Hernández is the author of Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers. Anabel has worked on Mexican national dailies including Reforma, Milenio, El Universal and its investigative supplement La Revista. Last year, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers awarded Anabel with the Gold Pen of Freedom.


Deepa Kumar Explains How Islamophobia Became Empire’s Best Excuse

Remember Islamo-Facism? However ridiculous and illogical the construction of the term sounds now, it did its job. It implicated a religion as a target, added on another scary word, and helped get us into a protracted, multi-front, decades-long, extrajudicial killing campaign. It almost doesn’t matter what word came after Islamo because Islam is the target, and has been for decades before 9/11. In her new book, Deepa Kumar calls Islamophobia “the handmaiden of imperialism.” She calls in to discuss the ways fear shapes and fuels foreign policy, and her own experiences dealing with Islamophobia in America.

Deepa Kumar is an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University and author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire.  She also wrote 2007′s Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike. You can find speeches and more work at Deepa’s website.


Professor Ian Lustick on the Enduring Success of the Two-State Failure

When hopes for a peace plan are compared to the last days of a comatose Francisco Franco, or a balloon bursting, or deck chairs on the Titanic, you might want to rethink that plan. Ian Lustick made those comparisons in his New York Times opinion piece on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Two-State Illusion. He talks to Chuck about the impossibility of a two-state solution, why everyone involves still clings to the notion, and America’s investment in face-saving futility.

Ian Lustick is a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. Ian is the author of Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank-Gaza and Trapped in the War on Terror.


Historian Deepak Tripathi Looks Over the Shoulder of the Last Hegemon Standing

The myth of American exceptionalism is so deeply ingrained in our national consciousness that we no longer see the world as it is, but as we wish, arranged around our greatness. This pre-Copernican approach to foreign affairs “promotes a state of mind which becomes addicted to self-worshipping and misinterpreting others. Assertions of exceptionalism humiliate and radicalize, and often do not recognize the extent of resistance they produce” writes Deepak Tripathi in his Al Jazeera opinion piece The illusion of American exceptionalism. He gives us a lesson in our own history and a look at our future if we don’t learn from it.

Deepak Tripathi is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Deepak is a former BBC journalist who set up their Kabul office in the early 1990s and was the resident correspondent. He has reported from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Syria as well. He is the author of Breeding Ground: Afghanistan and the Origins of Islamist Terrorism.


Nicole Aschoff Takes This Job and Loves It

In her first installment of This Game is Rigged, Irregular Correspondent Nicole Aschoff explains how the future of “bad” jobs  is sort of the future of jobs in general, who controls the way we talk about economics, and why we never connect “low cost” with “low wages.” She recently examined how these issues came to a head in the Dollars & Sense article We’re Not Lovin’ It: Low-wage workers fight to make bad jobs better.

Nicole Aschoff spends her time thinking about capitalism and teaching about sociology. Nicole’s work has appeared in the Socialist Register, Jacobin, and Dollars and Sense. She is currently working on a book about the auto industry and spending too much time indoors. You can find her work at This Game is Rigged.


Laura Carlsen Reports on Mexico’s Citizen-Ran Campaign for Environmental Justice

Last week, Mexican citizens gathered to give testimony and present evidence of the massive environmental crises inflicted on their communities by private industry greed and government blindness. This week, Laura Carlsen gives us the story of that panel, on which she was a juror, and what they found.

Laura Carlsen is a Foreign Policy In Focus columnist and director of the Americas Program for the Center for International Policy in Mexico City. She has been appearing on This is Hell! for several years and we got tired of only speaking with her once a year, so this marks her first Irregular Correspondent report.


Jeff Dorchen Tastes the Edge

In the first live in-studio Moment of Truth since a super long time ago, Jeff Dorchen tells us way too much about his fluid intake habits, remembers an America covered in hippies, imagines a Kombucha organism flapping around a neighbor’s drink, and finds Ivan the Terrible’s funny bone.


Producers Alexander Jerri and Spencer “Thunderball” Thayer break a CD player, fix it, and break it again.