The River

Friday, January 30, 2004

The Awesome Destructive Power of the CPM*

(*corporate power media)

Howard Dean has joined the list of victims of U.S. corporate media consolidation. Dean shares this distinction with Dennis Kucinich and the people of the formerly sovereign state of Iraq, among many others. Dean was stripped of half his popular support in the space of two weeks in January while John Kerry – tied in the polls with Carol Moseley-Braun at seven percent just two months earlier – rose like a genie from a bottle to become the overnight presidential frontrunner. Both candidates were shocked and disoriented by the dizzying turns of fortune, and for good reason. Neither Dean nor Kerry had done anything on their own that could have so dramatically altered the race. Corporate America decided that Dean must be savaged, and its media sector made it happen.

--snip, all the way to the conclusion--

The rich men’s voices [corporate media] must be de-legitimized in the eyes of the people, who already suspect that they are being systematically lied to and manipulated. African Americans have an advantage in this regard, since we are used to being lied to and about.

No society in human history has confronted an enemy as omnipresent as the US corporate media. Yet there is no choice but to challenge their hegemony.

The world can be changed, but only by changing the way others see their world.

[please read the rest of the article and tell me if it's not the smartest thing you read today.]

via the invaluable Benedict Spinoza at American Samizdat

What we know

Dennis Kucinich knew it

And said so

Thousands of bloggers knew it

And said so

Intelligence experts knew it

And said so

Newspaper columnists knew it

And said so

Millions of protesters worldwide knew it

And said so, loud and clear

George W. Bush knew it

And lied, and continues to lie

Dick Cheney knew it

And lied, and continues to lie

Condeleeza Rice knew it

And lied, and continues to lie

Donald Rumsfeld knew it

And lied, and continues to lie

Colin Powell knew it

And lied, and continues to lie

Corporate media mouthpieces knew it

And lied, and continue to lie

What did they all know?

Iraq had no WMD

Iraq was not a grave and gathering threat

Iraqi citizens did not deserve death and DU

"Iraq has not committed any act of aggression against the United States. Iraq was not responsible for 911. No credible evidence exists linking Iraq to Al Qaeda's role in 911. Iraq was not responsible for the anthrax attack on our nation. The United Nations has yet to establish that Iraq has usable weapons of mass destruction. There is no intelligence that Iraq has the ability to strike at the United States."

-- Dennis Kucinich
U.S. Representative Swearing-In Ceremony
Sunday, January 5, 2003; Cleveland, Ohio

(quote via Public Domain Progress)

Thursday, January 29, 2004

This man should be President

But even if that never happens, Dennis Kucinich is doing good work for the people of the United States.

You've gotta read William Rivers Pitt's

Dennis Kucinich and the Question:

Cuz take away our Playstations
And we are a third world nation
Under the thumb of some blue blood royal son
Who stole the Oval Office and that phony election
I mean
It don't take a weatherman
To look around and see the weather
Jeb said he'd deliver Florida, folks
And boy did he ever…

And we hold these truths to be self evident
#1: George W. Bush is not President
#2: America is not a true democracy
#3: the media is not fooling me
Cuz I am a poem heeding hyper-distillation
I've got no room for a lie so verbose
I'm looking out over my whole human family
And I'm raising my glass in a toast…

- Ani DiFranco, “Self-Evident”

The three most powerful letters in American politics are ‘FDR.’ Franklin Roosevelt unleashed a political revolution so powerful and complete that it required the incredible extremism of the Bush administration to bring it to heel. That is not to say the revolution wasn’t flagging before George took the Oval Office chair. Democratic Presidents and Presidential hopefuls have been running on Roosevelt rhetoric since the titan died in his fourth term, but the facts on the ground are clear. The country has been steadily retreating from the legacy of FDR for decades.

Enter Dennis Kucinich, Democratic congressman from Ohio, former Mayor of Cleveland, and candidate for President in 2004. There is not a single polling indicator that puts him above ten percent support at this point, and he managed only a 1% showing in the Iowa caucuses. Pragmatism dictates that he is merely tilting at windmills, but a closer look reveals something far different in play.


via One Good Move

Also, I hear Pitt has joined the Kucinich campaign as press secretary. Cool.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

World's Oldest Curmudgeon Tells All

We’re here with the Oldest Curmudgeon in the World. While he slips under the radar of most busy Americans, we were persistent in our efforts to locate him. Hopefully, you’ll find his cranky perspective as bracing as we did.

So, Mr. Curmudgeon, what do you think about the American administration?

Look, these people are insane. You have to work off of that premise from the start. They are not “Americans,” they have no loyalty to a people and a democracy that was, up until now, still limping along as a hopeful experiment. And the media, my God. People from other countries are just aghast when they see it. They wonder how you people can live here. How do you stand it when you are subject to the most nauseating drumbeat of fear and innuendo, with no real content, no practical, rational voice to speak of. It’s nothing but one big smirk. How do you get up in the morning, when they tell you every second of every day that you either conform to this business-centric, homogenized ideology or there is something wrong with you?

Oh sure, you have a few stalwarts in the media, remnants from a bygone era, but they spend all their time mildly objecting to just a miniscule portion of the bullshit. You can’t bail out a sinking boat with a dixie cup, let alone sail the high seas.

I’m detecting a metaphor here: So is America the Titanic?

Oh yeah. Except you never hit the iceberg. You don’t have a disastrous hole in your ship. You have a manageable breakdown. Your best and brightest could fix it in a heartbeat. But you’ve got this mad captain and he’s willing to let the ship go down rather than share the glory.

Yeah, you people are going down. Do you even realize that most of the rest of the world live their lives without constant threat? You’ve been at War since 1940s – WWII, the Cold War and now the War on Terrorism. And there was one more little one, as a sort of bridge between the Cold War and TWOT – the war on drugs. That worked out pretty well, as they can now use all they learned about demonizing those who differ in that “war” and expand it to protesters, liberals, etc. It’s all the same to them.

Imagine what you could do without these fear and death merchants feeding off of you. Yeah, I’m speaking of the Bush family, the Carlyle Group, the CIA. They are running loose. Their Psyops on you will be one for the history books.

Whoa, Mr. Curmudgeon, you are out there. What do you mean by all this Psyops stuff?

Here’s your first clue: There is no war on terrorism. The phrase should always have “phony” in front of it. Yet everyone in your consensual illusion must pay homage to the “war on terrorism.” Housewife in Toledo: “oh yes, I’m worried about the terrorist threat.” It would be funny if it wasn’t so freaking sad. And even when you oppose something -- and take your pick, you true patriots must be busy as hell -- you mention this bogus war, as in “why are we in Iraq when we should be concentrating on Al Qaeda.” “Why aren’t there more police everywhere keeping us SAFER from the terrorists.” They are laughing. They LOVE that. “Haha, even our opposition is trapped in the maze we devised. They are actually worried about Osama-with-a-cellphone.”

I can’t believe you had a national dialogue on whether you are safer with Saddam gone. Give me a freaking break. He was a scummy, dictatorial president, much like your own. Why the hell would he try to mess with you? Sure, if you made his life hell, which you were. Sheeit, I might strike at a big bully if he wouldn’t leave me the hell alone, but freaking war? Saddam was not that insane. Palaces and posters everywhere, enforced hero worship, sure, but at least the people were better educated than you are. They would have sent him packing eventually, but that would have meant an empowered populace, and that’s where your leaders draw the line.

Look, you are not “safer” since Saddam was captured. You are never “safe.” “Safety” is only guaranteed for the dead. Everyone else, it’s up for grabs. Your chances of dying from a terrorist act are practically non-existent. Now, sure there’s plenty to worry about regarding your health, particularly the gutting of public oversight of harmful and even predatory business practices. Pollution, contamination, industrialization of food – these are the worthwhile “adversaries.”

It’s very simple: Who is making money off of all this? Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney asked that, and she was viciously attacked and demonized. Corporations, the media, they are your Agent Smith. “You have two choices, Mr. Anderson. One of them has a future.” This is what they tell you every day, and their future ain't "free" or democratic.

Ok, ok...So you don’t think we’re going about things the right way?

You’re good with the understatement.

What, complete corruption masked with high-sounding ideals? Saying one thing and doing the opposite? That’s a prescription for disaster, and no one, except maybe Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, and Howard Dean, are saying anything about it. And look at what they did to Howard when he was effective in getting that message to the people. A friend of mine in corporate America said a coworker asked him if he liked Dean, and he said, “yeah.” This was before the Iowa caucus. And she says, “he scares me. He’s so angry. Did you see on TV what he did to that poor old man who was trying to ask him a question?” Who knows what the freaking context was; she sure didn’t. She had no idea that there was an effort across your corporate media to plant that idea in her head. How many other unsuspecting people cast about for someone else in Iowa and New Hampshire because they’d been similarly mislead?

Did you see what Diane Sawyer did to Howard and Judy Dean in that interview? That ain't right.

Look, I saw Dean on TV on the night of the New Hampshire primary. He could really blow a hole in this media straightjacket you people suffer from. I may be a curmudgeon, but he’s a freaking doer, okay? He’s out there doing it. On TV. Taking the hits. It’s a wonder he doesn’t scream more often. But you people aren’t ready for a politician with the talents of a James Brown. Night Train! Yeeaaaagghhh! Nah, you prefer democrats who blow some weak-ass sax, purse their lips and say they feel your pain, while giving ground on every meaningful thing you can think of.

Anything else on your mind? Any final thoughts for our readers?

Terrorism, no matter who does it, is a crime. Killing 20,000 Iraqis on false pretexts? Yeah, that’s terrorism, and it’s a crime. And it’s not even disguised, everybody knows, as Leonard Cohen sang, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax – you’re inability to recover anything meaningful from your culture. You’ve got to take back the means of production, the language, make it real. Make it new. I find saying “freaking” a lot helps. But that may just be me.

Anyways, crime – whether spectacular or not -- can be dealt with democratically agreed upon laws. Even Hitler was put on trial. In the State of the Union address, Bush tried to discredit this idea. Not because it’s not true. No, precisely because it IS true. And it is a truth that would stop his rapacious agenda, were it to be allowed, which is why it isn’t.

The U.S. will answer to no one, he said. We freaking hate this guy, and anyone who says you shouldn’t is nuts. He will be remembered as one of the most reviled figures in modern history. You’ve got your work cut out for you this year. Take a vacation next year, because if he is not stopped in 2004, people are going to wonder why. It will be on your heads. Prove you still have a democracy, or prove it’s dead. It’s that stark, and it’s up to you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

George Carlin:

Q: You're known as a very liberal comic. Are you trying to change people's political views when you go out there? Do you have an underlying agenda?

A: No. First of all, I'm not liberal. I'm just about (being) anti-United States. I don't like the way this country operates. I think we've ruined this place. And I think it's largely because of businessmen. And businessmen are not liberals. So if that makes me a liberal, then that's just an association. It's not a choice. ...

I do not care about changing anybody. Nobody. I go out there to show the rest of the Americans how badly they're doing. This country has been, for about 180 years now, badly mishandled. And it's been in the wrong hands. It's been in the hands of the business interests.

And a lot of the beauty of this country has been shattered by them. The physical beauty and the kind of institutional beauty that was originally built into this place - this experiment, this magnificent experiment in democracy is just being shredded to pieces by these right-wing Christians, the Ashcroft branch of Republicanism. (They're) just shredding the rest of the Bill of Rights which hadn't been shredded already. (But) they'd been doing a pretty good job on it up until then, anyway.

Q: Do you feel like this country has progressed any way, shape or form in the past 20 years?

A: Everybody's got more jet skis and Dustbusters now and sneakers with lights in them. They've got more cheese on their thing that they buy. They get double helpings. See, Americans measure all their progress in the wrong way. They measure by quantity and by gizmos and toys. And not by quality and by things that are important.

The most interesting thing to me is that the things that people would seem to have the most right to have - that is to say health, food, shelter and a job are the things that are last on the list. To me, that is fundamental. Those are the things humans most need to function, and we have placed them at the bottom of the list. So I think that says a lot about national character and priorities.

via Another Day in the Empire

My two cents

With every line, New York Times columnist William Safire sneers his disdain for everyone and everything even remotely liberal, while adhering strictly to Bush’s hard-right ideology, flying in the face of facts with obfuscation and manipulation.

His service to the State is to provide two minutes of hate.

Monday, January 26, 2004


I go outside for a cigarette. Roll-your-own type, not because I’m cool, just because Drum is the only tobacco I truly enjoy. The fact that it makes me look cool is a bonus. Of course, the chinos and button down shirt sort of negate that.

I stand looking at the day, 5-story brick and glass corporate outpost at my back. Gray-white sky and lots of bare-limbed trees. I exhale, adding my own puffy cloud to the mix. It’s Monday. Back in the flow. Good to get away from the computer, where I’ve spent the morning. I’m trading one addiction for another. This one, the smokey, smelly, tactile one, seems healthier at the moment. The other sends me through the glass, down into a world of power and politics, schemes and machinations that are both fascinating and debilitating.

It’s nice to do nothing but pull on this cigarette. I feel the paralysis of information overload progressively dissipate with each cancer-causing drag. My clothes slowly loose their warmth, take on the smell of outside. I wonder how long I can stand here, if anyone will miss me until my 3 o’clock meeting. I could just commune with these trees, this sky. Ask them who they’d pick for President. See what they think of public welfare and private gain. These trees, this tobacco, me. I breathe it all in, I let it go.

The cigarette’s a nub, looks just like a roach. I decide to leave it on the concrete at my feet, let people wonder: Did somebody get high here?

The path of least resistance

The onslaught is remarkable. There is an agenda at work. An effort to engineer society to acceptance of anti-democratic ideas. To wipe out democracy, and accept a ruling elite, a new world order. They are aiming for the day that the masses will think it’s always been this way, life is harsh, totalitarian control is necessary, we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

For example, they are coming after education. Haven’t we accepted already that there isn’t enough money to pay for good public schools (but billions for oil wars and moon shots), that testing and more testing will solve the problem?

In response to the State of the Union address, independent journalist Greg Palast posted some observations on funding testing while underfunding our schools:

"By passing the No Child Left Behind Act," you said, "We are regularly testing every child ... and making sure they have better options when schools are not performing."

You said it ... and then that little tongue came out; that weird way you stick your tongue out between your lips like the little kid who knows he's fibbing. Like a snake licking a rat. I saw that snakey tongue dart out and I thought, "He knows."

And what you know, Mr. Bush, is this: you've ordered this testing to hunt down, identify and target for destruction the hopes of millions of children you find too expensive, too heavy a burden, to educate.

Here's how No Child Left Behind and your tests work in the classrooms of Houston and Chicago. Millions of 8 year olds are given lists of words and phrases. They try to read. Then they are graded, like USDA beef: some prime, some OK, many failed.

Once the kids are stamped and sorted, the parents of the marked children ask for you to fulfill your tantalizing promise, to "make sure they have better options when schools are not performing."

But there is no "better option," is there, Mr. Bush? Where's the money for the better schools to take in the kids getting crushed in cash-poor districts? Where's the open door to the suburban campuses with the big green lawns for the dark kids with the test-score mark of Cain?

But whatever the classification of the student, the curriculum, too, is being targeted, at least in Georgia (also a pioneer in electronic voting).

Addressing sweeping changes the State is proposing for K-12 curriculum, high school history teacher Joseph Jarrell writes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" will not be mentioned. The development of democratic government in Greece and the fall of the Roman Empire will be skipped. Jesus, Muhammad, the Buddha and Confucius are not to be found in the new curriculum. Great civilizations like ancient Egypt will no longer merit study, and the concept of feudalism will not be discussed.

The present 11th-grade U.S. history course covers the Exploration period to today. In the proposed changes, teachers will spend two or three weeks discussing the foundation of our country, with the remaining time devoted to studying events from 1876 to the present. Gone is any mention of the Louisiana Purchase or Lewis and Clark. There will be no discussion of Indian removal and the Trail of Tears.


Certainly it is a constant challenge to complete the present curriculum. I often feel as though I am running a marathon; however, like any runner, I feel a sense of pride when my students and I complete the race. I know that those who have passed the course have learned an enormous amount.

Would it be easier to teach less? Of course. Would the new curriculum reduce my workload? Doubtlessly. But like so many other history teachers, I know that while claiming to seek the road to excellence, educrats are really leading us down the path of least resistance.

There is also a sinister element to the changes. States are facing new federal mandates to improve test scores. Interestingly, states can devise many of the tests used to measure this improvement. While mandating that we teach less, Georgia will prepare assessments that test less. Interesting formula: teach less, test less, brag more.

Imagine a similar approach with math. Teach half the multiplication tables and test only the half that is taught. Surely scores would rise and the headlines would scream that math scores improved! But students suffer when perception becomes more important than learning.

That, of course, would be students in the public schools. In private schools, as in other privatization schemes, those with money will benefit at the expense of the public. Besides, it’s so much easier to get an ignorant populace to accept its repression.

Say hello to... The Red Pill

You may never be the same.

Friday, January 23, 2004

This is what we're fighting

Here it is, layed out in all its incestous glory -- the takeover of every democratic, public-centered ideal and institution by a closely connected cabal of private interests.

The GOP, Inc. - Selling Public Policy as a Commodity

Further down the rabbit hole:

Local View: War is the ultimate crime

The choices are clear: Tyranny or Enlightenment

Debate post mortem

I caught a bit of the debate last night. Took me a while to find it. Didn’t know it was only on Fox. And isn’t that just wonderful. Fox gets wrap their crap around it, and guide viewers to the proper response.

Toward the end, I thought it odd that Peter Jennings said they had 15 more minutes, but first a commercial break, and Lieberman keeps talking and they cut away, and then they never come back to the debate. It’s just Fox talking heads, quickly praising Lieberman’s pro-war stance. Did I miss something? I do kind of look at the TV askance when I watch, or whatever it takes to keep my distance – drink a beer, yell. I’ll let you in the living room, TV, but you will not take over.

There was a remarkable moment that I would have expected from Kucinich or Sharpton, but it came from Edwards. He got a superficial question (and there were many, focusing on the horse race, images, positioning, etc.) and he turned it back rather forcefully. He said the questions and discussion were off track, that they should be talking about the 35 million in poverty in the world’s wealthiest country, that children were going to bed hungry and that it was morally wrong. We keep talking about us, and shouldn't we be talking about them (pointing at the camera here, at, well, me, at The People). Yes! I thought, shine a light on the Republican Party’s moral bankruptcy. That's a promising line of attack.

You know those bumper stickers are so right: The Moral Majority is neither moral nor a majority. The Christian Right is neither Christian nor right.

Sharpton made a good point about how the Democrats would win if they could convince all the non-voters that it is worthwhile to vote.

Regardless, we’re screwed good and proper. But might Edwards be a JFK-type who could make us care? The man speaks well, has the looks and the charisma.

These are just my impressions. I know next to nothing about Edwards. I am hardly optimistic, and I find it hard to argue with many of the points John Chuckman, a free-lance writer and retired chief economist for Texaco Canada, makes here, including, “No likely Democratic candidate is going to produce a greatly more rational and decent United States.” Because, he states elsewhere in the piece, “The truth is that even if a moderately liberal person were elected President, he or she would face exactly what the Clintons faced for eight years, a hideous and relentless assault with opportunity for few meaningful accomplishments. The American Congress is so conservative, and has demonstrated itself so lacking in courage or imagination or largeness of view, that only the most modest changes can be expected under any president.”

I think the consensus is, though, that Anybody But Bush (ABB) is a start.

Still, I can't shake how feeble that seems.

I'm with Howard Beale, from Paddy Chayefsky's "Network":

You've got to get mad! You've got to say, "I'm a human being, goddamn it! My life has value!" I want you to go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

Thursday, January 22, 2004

We are the Majority

by Bernie Sanders

How do we build a political movement in this country that represents all of the people and not a handful of millionaires?
The middle class is collapsing, the people on top are making out like bandits, and the poorest people are struggling just to keep their heads above water.

Today, the concentration of wealth and income in this country is not only greater than at any time since the 1920s, but it is far greater than in any other major country on Earth.

It is not acceptable that the wealthiest 1 percent of the population owns more wealth than the bottom 95 percent.

That's not America.

It is not acceptable that the 13,000 wealthiest families in this country earn more income than the bottom twenty million families.

It is not acceptable that the greed of corporate America has resulted in the CEOs of large corporations earning over 500 times what their average worker makes.

That's not America, and we're going to change that.

Today, the largest employer in America is not General Motors. It is Wal-Mart, which pays people subsistence wages and minimal benefits. It is now being sued by workers in twenty-eight states because the company is not even paying the overtime it should be paying.

But it's not just Wal-Mart. It is the transformation of the American economy that Congress is not talking about, that the President certainly is not talking about, and that the media is not talking about.

In the last three years alone, we have lost over two-and-a-half-million manufacturing jobs that were paying people decent middle class wages. And when you talk about patriotism, and when you talk about the American flag, what is corporate America doing by throwing American workers out on the street, moving to China, moving to countries where people can't even form a union or stand up for their rights? Let's talk about patriotism. Let's talk about investing in America and expanding the middle class.

Corporate America essentially is saying the hell with the American worker, the hell with the United States of America. We will do anything we want in order to make more and more profits.


found it on Seeing The Forest

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Adverse reaction

Well, who else? Who else watched the State of the Union address and saw a boot stomping a human face forever?

Who else cringed repeatedly? Who else felt revulsion for not only the man delivering the speech, but for the perpetual heart-burn, permanent-grimace look on Cheney’s face? The smug satisfaction on Ashcroft’s? The malice on Rice’s? And the blankness of Rumsfeld’s visage? Who else searched in vain for compassion and empathy? For human feeling and care?

Who else felt unease at the entire media event’s inability to reveal truth? Who else thought, when will the little boy stand up and say it? The cliché that applies to all Emperors? The one that could remove the scales, break the spell? Who else thought: it can’t and it won’t happen, until a movement overwhelms and shakes the country from its slumber.

Did anyone else find the looks of exasperation and disapproval on Ted Kennedy’s face the only rebuttal even remotely adequate? That is, in addition to the applause when Bush said the Patriot Act was due to expire next year. Did others notice the look on Bush’s face when this happened? The one of hate and disdain during the pause before he continued his sentence, asking for (surprise!) renewal of the heinous, and brilliantly named, legislation?

Did anyone else see a TV reporter or pundit mention the applause for the end of the Patriot Act? I didn’t (is anyone surprised?).

Did anyone else go to bed later thinking “George Orwell, 1984, yes, but Invasion of the Body Snatchers is also one of the scariest, most prescient works to be committed to both paper – and, in a similarly shuttered and frightened America, celluloid.”?

Is there anybody out there?

Just wondering.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

John Kerry wins the Iowa Caucus? John Edwards second, and Dean a distant third? WTF?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Corporation as 'psychopath'

The film shows how a well-intentioned evil rules our lives

Katherine Monk
Vancouver Sun
Saturday, October 04, 2003

At its heart, The Corporation is a documentary about the well-intentioned evil wrought by over-educated white men who think they know what's best for the world.

Interestingly, the documentary itself sprang from the minds of two similarly educated white men who think they know what's best for the world -- but don't blame Rhodes scholar and University of B.C. law prof Joel Bakan, nor award-winning film-maker Mark Achbar for their white skin, their male gender or the inherently bourgeois baggage that comes with living in a privileged society such as Canada.

They really did have good intentions when they set out more than five years ago to make a movie about one of the least understood, yet most prevalent, forces in the world today: The Corporation.

Moreover, they brought some female energy into the equation when they pulled in Galiano Island film-maker, and Video In alum, Jennifer Abbott to edit the 400 hours of collected footage and turn it into something coherent, watchable, and ultimately compelling.

[please click more] (UPDATE: this and subsequent links have been corrected. The River regrets the errors.)

I found this in a recent Yule Heibel post, which called to mind a Curtis White article from way back in 2001 called “Our Pure War with Islam.” An apropos snippet:

Randy Hayes of the Rainforest Action Network once told me of a talk he had with the uber-CEO of the Mitsubishi Company. Hayes said he was able to convince this CEO that Mitsubishi's program of global devastation for short-term profit was not in the long-term interest of either the planet or the company. Hayes achieved this moment of clarity only to have it followed by a far larger and more monstrous clarity for both himself and the Mitsubishi head: Mr. Mitsubishi had no idea how to change the practices of the company because the logic that drove the company was both systemic and autonomous. This system at which even CEOs must look with apocalyptic horror is part of the ecology of Pure War and is not available for political discussion, let alone democratic debate. In short, it is not responsive to the will or the interests of the human beings living within it. Virilio calls this situation the "State as Destiny."

All this in turn reminded me of a post from my former life and former blog. At this point in blogger history, a certain blogger who shall remain nameless once scolded people like myself for being deluded hippies who didn’t “get it.” He was upset because we had taken issue with the arrogant attitude of another blogger, a friend of his. He painted critics of his buddy's behavior as unrealistic dreamers. He said something about how we should shut up and go read Joseph Campell while real men such as himself and his buddy got on with the real business of America. This business includes profiting from an illegal, not to say criminal, military invasion that has seen our State murder some 10,000 or more civillians, not to mention the thousands of needless deaths of Iraqi army personnel (and the loss of hundreds of our own sons and daughters). While this was going on, this blogger gleefully posted on how to best profit in the stock market from the war. As Bob Somerby would say, try to believe this person is a respected A lister.

Anyway, that’s what inspired (thanks, dude!)…

Blogland Inc.

Hi. First day on the job? Welcome. I can help you get started.

It’s not really a job, is it?

Well, no. Ha. Just, you know, everything is, when you get down to it.

Yeah, but I have a job. I came here to get away from it.

Sure, sure. I understand. Friggin boxes they try to put you in….ahem….right this way….here’s your cube. I hope you like it. Good light, nice chair, and fast Internet access.

Okay, thanks. Guess I’ll….hey, where’d he go? Hmmm…well guess I’ll settle in. I’ve heard so much about this. I read To Blogland and Beyond, I subscribed to the newsletter…and now, here I am. Damn, where’d he go? Where is everybody? Guess I’ll fire up this computer and get started….hmmm, this is easy….let’s see…which template?….no, too flashy…yeah, that’ll work…we’ll call it High Water, that about sums it up professionally, politically, globally. And, of course, it’s one of Dylan’s best songs in ages. Okay….(typing) “What am I doing here? What are you doing here? Assuming there’s a you here. Assuming there’s a me here. Hello, you. Welcome to High Water. Where we write on the Web….because we can.” …..Now, just hit “post”…okay, looks good….here goes…. "click"

Think I’ll stretch my legs. Wonder if there’s a coffee maker around here….God, it’s quiet. I can here myself thinking. Thinking: “it’s quiet.” Maybe I’ll post something about that….where is everybody? I’ll just walk down this way, past this row of cubes. Damn, they’re all staring intently into their monitors. I don’t want to break their concentration. Ah, here’s the coffee maker. Wow, an espresso machine….and it automatically makes a latte as I enter the little break room. Amazing….mmm…good stuff. (machine LED display flashes, “Enjoy your beverage. Blog on.”).

Okay, back at the cube. It’s weirdly quiet. But I can hear “tap, tap, tap.” It sounds like rain. Sort of. (opens blogger, types “What is the sound of one hand blogging? Tap……..tap…….tap….. What is the sound of ten thousand hands blogging? A revo-fucking-lution. A friggin thunderstorm. We’re here, We’re on the net, and we aren’t gonna take it anymore.”) Damn, should I post this? What the fuck? I don’t know what I’m doing…I don’t know who “we” is….but I’ve read about shit like this…who know’s, somebody else might groove to it, besides, it’s just a blog…."click" (Stands up to look over cube walls. Sees nothing but windows and far walls.)

(phone rings…answers on third ring, after recovering from odd sensation of hearing a phone.) Hello?

Hey Joe, what are you *doing*, man?

Who is this?

The ruler of blogland.

The what?

Look, I know what you’re thinking. Ruler? Fuck the rules! Right? We all feel that way…until we figure out how to use them…to make a little scratch, know what I’m saying? It takes a little while. You start out young and idealistic. Believe me, I get it.

Are you….

Don’t worry about who I am. I’m just an entity, like you, floating in this new space I’ve created. I might be who you think I am. I might be somebody else. Shit, out here, it’s hard for even me to know.

Yeah, I hear ya. But does it have to feel that way in the physical world as well? This is one gray building, with gray cubes. Reminds me of work, which is not what I expected at all.

Joe, ya gotta get with the lingo. It’s not “physical world”; it’s “meatspace.” Hey, it’s technology. The sense of style, the groovy, go with it thing is way over. Let’s review this little puppy we call the Internet. It’s all about making money, which is what (at the end of the day) everything boils down to. And whether you’re cool or not. The net is neutral, and essentially soulless. Haven’t you seen all the warblogs?

Fuck them.

They’re media stars, Joe. And who are you?

One man with a blog, damn it. You can’t be who I thought you were. And I’m not at all sure what I’m doin here. But I am free to post whatever the hell I feel like, right?

Sure, man. I just think you have potential, so I thought I’d jump in here and try to help you out.

Uh, no thanks.

Joe, Joe, Joe. The road you’re headin down…I can see it already. That’s friggin 1968; that's 2002. Get with the program, Joe. You have potential kid. There’s money to be made here. Look at the pornographers. They know…they know what sells and how to exploit it. It’s beautiful, really. Embrace the dark side, man….heh, heh…. You know it’s just a scam. You can make some money off this thing. It’s what the smart people are doing. Look at the bubble…if you didn’t make a shitload then…well….I know, you’re a latecomer. You’re still poor as dirt, right? That’s okay. We need new blood, but let’s get rid of those quaint revolution notions right now. (hangs up)

Ruler of blogland? Ha! What a joke. Sure, there are restrictions, forms, the Total Information Awareness program. I know I had to pass a test and pay an entry fee….and sign a form saying that technology is neutral and has no power to change me or anyone else. But still, I thought I was free to post whatever I wanted…

(Opens blogger, types) “What are we doing here? On the net, with technology….We relatively rich, mostly white, somewhat educated writers. Anybody out there have an answer to that one? I don’t think so. Yeah, I’ve posted about how communication, self-expression, connecting can be a revolutionary act, and could even lead to revolutionary changes. But aren’t the warbloggers communicating and connecting with audiences many times the size of whatever number of intrepid souls who might be out there reading this? Why do I think what I’m doing is more important? What’s the difference?
But is it important? To me, certainly. Maybe to some others. But it’s a small community we’re talking about here. Blogland is the only place I know of where this is going on. Is the trend toward communication, human connection that ultimately sweeps away the dark fantasies of twisted rulers and brings to the fore social and economic justice? Or is there a ruler of blogland, a final arbiter on what is happening, or what can happen? And mustn’t he or she, figurative or real as the case may be, be overthrown?

I feel something out there, beyond these cube walls, pushing at them, bowing them to the point of collapse. Something is happening…Mr. Jones.” ….click…


(A few weeks and many posts later…)

Wow, a personal e-mail…, click

“It’s a battle, man. It’s always and forever a battle. It’s human nature. Without conflict there’d be no interest, no heat. But there’s also love, caring, cooperation, discussion, negotiation, and compromise. Unfortunately, the latter must battle the former. Hee, hee. I wrote a poem about it here
But you’re right. Something may very well be happening. It’s time. The wheels are turning. A counter to the soulless ghouls in charge must rise up. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction…hee..I can’t help it, I’m a metaphysical mofo, but ya gotta shake it off, roll with it, but most importantly be yourself. Find yourself. Because without personal change, political change is just an illusion. Ya know what Lou said “self-knowledge is a dangerous thing. The freedom of who you are.” Always liked that line.
Anyway, like yer blog. Keep it up. And get some comments. This one is pretty good: I can help you with it if you need it.



PS: Loved “ruler of blogland.” Great stuff!


(Many e-mail exchanges, Instant Messenger chats, phone calls, and discussions over beers later, Jack takes Joe to meet his buddy, PainterMan, and his friend, TheLakeofFire.)

PainterMan: There’s a small band of us. We’re putting together guerilla networks. Even with Blogland so heavily regulated, even though they've convinced people that you have to pass their tests, use their software and even go to their building to blog, we’ve been able to make connections with some bloggers, just as Jack did with you. And now we’re growing, areas of affinity coalescing into something that may yet break the bounds of cyberspace. This is the kind of thing they give lip service to at Blogland. They hype a few media stars, even warbloggers, and fleece the masses at the door. That’s their plan, anyway. They are looking to expand Bloglands across the nation. Corporate sponsorships. It’ll be like TV for the elite.

You started connecting with Jack here right away, and he found me one night when he was fooling around with his puter and found Blogaria, the underground alternative to Blogland. But remember, anywhere there’s a coherent signal, these jerks have instrumentation, even Blogaria, I’m afraid.

You got a warning and it was swift. They move fast now, they’re feeling threatened so they’ve stepped up their efforts to cut off communication.

Joe: So you’re an underground blogger?

PainterMan: Yeah. You should see my blogroll – subversives all. But you can’t see it, because you haven’t patched into OUR matrix -- yet. It’s small, yes, but at least it isn’t restricted, you just have to know where to look. At least it hasn’t been co-opted to become just another business, with hierarchies and status-junkies, and puffed up wankers of every type.

Joe: I don’t know. They weren’t too bad, seemed to want to help…

PainterMan: Yeah, sometimes they feel you out first. To see if you can be molded and made useful. You’re on dangerous ground now. You could disappear. In fact, you will disappear, but it’s all in how you choose to, and whether it’s you that chooses. You still have that choice, Joe. You still have freedom, but it comes at a very high price right now.

Joe: So I was right, and I didn’t even know it.

Jack: That’s right. Keep writing. Exercise your voice. Use your own computer and log into the underground network. Sure, what brought you here has been co-opted. But we want something more….Like Lakefofire here…

TheLakeofFire: “All my powers of expression and thoughts so sublime / Could never do you justice in reason or rhyme…You can always come back / but you can't come back all the way.”

Aye, and you can’t, can ya? But you can’t tell me the attempt isn’t the main thing. Heh, yeah, I’ve seen your stuff. Keep at it. It’s all you can do. Add your light, Joe. And when “the ruler of blogland” tells you people don’t do that anymore, tell him “they do as long as I’m doing it.”

Jack: And if it finally gets co-opted, which it will, at least you made the attempt to create and to change things…even if it is all an illusion, at least it’s a beautiful one. “Beautiful vision, stay with me all of the time. The oneness, the oneness, the oneness…red robe, red robe, red robe, let your red robe go. Bit bop, bit bop, big breasts, behind the stadium, sha la, la, la, la, lalalalala la-di-da.”

Joe: (swats him on the back) Hey, snap out of it. He does this sometimes…

PainterMan: Here, he needs one of these (hands Joe a tinfoil hat). And here’s one for you too.

Jack: Thanks, but I’m naturally stoned.

PainterMan: No it’s to keep the thought probes from detecting you. This way you CAN get stoned, without worry, and the pointy end does double duty as a one-hitter.

Jack: And if my thought-dreams could be seen, they’d put my head in a guillotine.

PainterMan: Exactly.

TheLakeofFire: Dylan. That sucker will be listened to a thousand years from now.

Jack: And it certainly helps if you have a killer blues band behind you.


Okay, I think I’m on this underground network….ah, yeah, I’m patched in. here we go…

“Welcome, comrade, brothers and sisters armed with nothing but imagination and spirit. To start your own, free blog choose your user name and password and click “continue”….

Monday, January 12, 2004

Villainy as a Pretext for Being Presidential

Thom Hartmann:

This archetypal transformation of George W. Bush from spoiled, rich pretender-to-the-presidency into the caped (well, flight-suited) SuperGeorge, Defender Of All Things Good And Right has had a powerful impact on the American people, and Rove hopes to ride it to victory in 2004.

But there is a weakness in it, which the Democrats can use to stop Bush's demagogic PR machine and ongoing destruction of American democracy.

Howard Dean was the first to raise a fist full of Kryptonite against SuperGeorge when he suggested we should internationalize the efforts against al-Qaeda and involve more police agencies. Dean's speeches - particularly his speech on foreign policy - make clear that while he realizes the very real danger al-Qaeda represents, he also knows that Bush's superhero go-it-alone posturing is doing us - and democracy itself - more harm than good.


We must repeatedly remind the American people that a horrific crime - not an act of war - was inflicted upon us on 9/11. Like the crimes of the IRA against the citizens of Britain, the crimes of the November 17th terrorist group against Greece, or the crimes of the Red Brigades against Italy, it will be best fought by investigators, intelligence operatives, and the highly effective web of police agencies that stretch across the world. Although less filled with shock and awe, these able people can bring al-Qaeda to justice without further elevating bin Laden or extending his reach and influence.

By recasting bin Laden from a super-villain into a banal criminal, we weaken support for him around the world. And we also deflate the heroic SuperGeorge action figure in the minds of average Americans, allowing more rational statesmen and women to bring this great nation back to the peace we held through so much of the last half of the 20th century.


via WTF Is It Now?

Friday, January 09, 2004

E-mail/blog reply

>>on 1-8-03, Chlora wrote:

This guy [Greg Brown] is awesome! Thanks Bruce.



I’m glad you liked the lyrics I posted. I guess you are unfamiliar with Greg Brown. I discovered him about 5 years ago (hard to believe it’s been that many). Leigh recently asked me how I found Brown. I said it was just like anything else, you find something you like, a writer, an artist, and then you learn who they like, or they are mentioned in the same breath with some other folks you’ve never heard of and you make a mental note to investigate. It all depends on your interests. Singer-songwriters have always been a big one for me.

The first Greg Brown CD I purchased was Slant 6 Mind. I also own Further In and a Live Barn-Aid thing he is on. The first two are highly recommended. I’ve played Brown for both Leigh and a fellow music nut you “know,” Ray Sweatman. Neither shared my enthusiasm!! To be fair, Leigh didn’t hear much, and Whatever It Was, which was playing when she was in the living room, is a bit depressing. And Ray was rappin about some ESL adventure or something on his balcony when Brown came up on my mix CD playing on his stereo inside. Loud enough to be heard, but still.

Consequently, when Brown came to town lo those many years ago, before kids and 9-11, I went to see him by myself. And I heard the same question when I went to the men’s room. How’d you hear about Greg, one guy asked another, with that air of “damn, ain’t we the lucky few who got our asses out here to see this guy.” He’s one of those artists you have to discover. He ain’t gonna be trumpeted by The Media. It’s just one of the way’s you know he’s the real deal. Hearing his music is another. :)

I never explored Brown’s earlier music, nor did I buy a recent release, Covenant, which I’ve heard some of and think is worth owning. Guess I didn’t want to journey alone. Now, my friends are catching up with me ;-). And a friend of Leigh and I recently discovered Brown (that’s how I heard Covenant), so I’ve been getting back into the songster.

Over the holidays, we were in a Borders and I had a bit of a windfall in my pocket, so when I saw that a Greg Brown Essential Recordings compilation had been put out by Red House, I jumped on it. The fact that it also contained a DVD disc with a 46-minute documentary on Brown clinched it. I’m glad I did. The documentary is great. And the CD provides highlights from all those earlier albums that I can’t really afford to buy. So if you are new to Greg Brown, this is a good place to start.

Thought I’d pass along that tip. Here’s the link to his label, Red House Records:



Thursday, January 08, 2004

Writing Our New Story

By Dave Pollard

If Thomas King is right, and stories are all we are, then it seems to me we have two choices in life. We can either live the story that others have written for us, or we can write our own story.

The story of our culture, the story others wrote for us, teaches us:

that we are at heart sinful, lazy, untrustworthy, in need of salvation or redemption

that our world is a place of danger, frightening, cruel, brutal, plagued with scarcity and adversity

that we should do what we're told by our betters, and be grateful for what we have

that the world was created for man and man alone, as his dominion

that we should multiply and fill the earth, regardless of the consequences for the rest of life

that we should spend our life working hard and acquiring, because our worth is measured by what we own

that our heroes are fighters, warriors, those who struggle and conquer and overcome

that no matter what we do, god will forgive us and clean up our mess before it gets too bad

There are several novel resources that those of us who find this story unsatisfactory, counter-instinctive, and dangerous, can use to write a different story, a New Story


The list above is in red in the original post. Click more and don't miss the green list, the different story.

I'm going to say something intelligent.

Next week.

Watch for it.

UPDATE: Just kidding.

Two from Greg Brown

(I listened to Slant 6 Mind on the way to work today.)

Whatever It Was

She's got a slant 6 mind and a supercharged heart,
The little princess is singing about her parts,
She says, "Come hither", but when I get hither she is yon.
I was looking for what I loved. Whatever it was, it's gone.

TV spreads and tension mounts,
Like a guy in a bra it's the idea that counts,
It's a picture of a picture of a whore holding a picture of a john.
I was looking for what I loved...

In the chemical fields by ammonia light,
I would offer my prayer to the Corn Goddess tonight,
but they chopped off her head and stuck her body out on the lawn.
I was looking for what I loved...

My generation takes what it can get,
Are you surprised that the kids are all upset?
They're looking at Nothing and Nothing turns away and yawns.
I was looking for what I loved...

Can't go to the country - the country isn't there,
It got chopped up and mortgaged and vanished in thin air,
It's a paint-by-number and it costs a million bucks down at the pawn.
I was looking for what I loved...

An electronic head and feet of clay,
gonna be a lotta roadkill on the Information Highway,
Someone stole the video of the everfresh and lovely dawn.
I was looking for what I loved...

You might be streetwise. You might be real bad,
I guess you forgot that you also are a dad,
Your kids won't forget it when they're trying to find someone to lean on
I was looking for what I loved...

The little towns are lying on their faces,
All that's left are fading parking spaces,
It's been quite a week, there was a drive-by shooting in Lake Wobegon.
I was looking for what I loved...

A Native American told me this whole deal's a mistake,
and this implosion is just icing on the cake,
If the Great Spirit is gambling, I'd say the con is a bigger con.
I was looking for what I loved...

Speaking in Tongues

A wild high cry flew up out of our brother
He was moaning and shaking, shining like the sun
He fell down like a dead man, Some people helped him up
He was all right, He was just speaking in tongues

When someone was sick we gathered all around them
and lay our hands upon them, all of us, old and young
We prayed that God Almighty would heal them
Our prayer was in English, but we was all just speaking in tongues

When I really feel my way back to that church and them people
the little hairs stand up all over me
and I hope that this nation like that congregation
will give it up and pray for our soul, which is in misery

and that one day we may lay our hands on one another
and seek the healing for ourselves, this earth and our young
and sing that old song of many colors, many rhythms
and listen with our hearts to the speaking in tongues.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004


Whataya mean, Dean?

I dunno. It's a word. It might mean something.

I'm not political watcher. Yeah, I keep abreast, in my way, but maybe I'm too sensitive or something, but I can't watch, or I just don't want to right now.

Occasionally, on my way to work, I'll listen to a few minutes of NPR. Used to listen all the time, and to Democracy Now, but things change, habits change. This is a good thing.

Anyway, that's another tangent and another post. Maybe. Sticking to the subject at hand -- Howard Dean -- I was listening to a Democracy Now report on the debate in Iowa. They provided a clip where each participant got to weigh in on NAFTA. It started with Kucinich saying that he would repeal NAFTA and challenging Dean to take a stand for or against NAFTA. I like Kucinich, but this came off as a bit histrionic. You don't like NAFTA, good, but let's get into it with a bit less stridency.

Like Dean finally did. But first, the moderator went around to everyone else for a response, ending with Dean. Everyone else, including Braun, jumped on Kucinich with a canned "we can't put up walls to free trade and sacrifice jobs/economy to protectionism etc." speech. Kucinich should have anticipated this, instead of leaving himself open to being portrayed as an idiot, basically.

Dean responded last and best. He began with, "I don't think anyone on this stage is for walling off free trade," or words to that effect. I don't even remember what else he said, specifically, something suitably bland for his 30 seconds, but that was enough to impress me. He let everyone else jump on Kucinich and make themselves out like fools by characterizing an extreme (on the surface) statement with their own extreme and hollow pronouncements, then took the reasonable person's route of actually conceding that the people you are debating are not a blithering idiots. By extension, this means he also is distinguishing himself as the candidate who doesn't assume the electorate is stupid.

Now I'm not a Deaniac or anything. But he's good. He reminds me of Clinton. Smart and skilled in communicating, and probably about as liberal, which is to say not very, when it comes down to it.

But right now, someone wicked smart and level-headed is a good start.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Happy new year, everybody. I’m back at work, hence back here as well.

This is me talking. I’m not “writing” anything today.

The hardest thing to write is yourself. Unless you’re Doc Searls.

But I must write something FOR myself this morning, before I start work. I’ll be writing my own evaluation today. The boss will have final approval, of course. I believe I’m in some weird pocket of corporate america, where it’s relaxed, come to work, do what needs to be done, and don’t worry too much about all the bureaucratic, hierarchical bullshit.

So there’s that. I have much else to do, but rather than just do it, I prefer to ignore it until it becomes, uh, more challenging. This is a serious character flaw.

Perhaps I should not write “me.” This is after all, a public forum. Actually, I'm a go getter who gives 110 percent to everything and my talents add immeasurably to the success of any enterprise or organization upon which I focus. There, that's better.

I should stick to something safe, like the weather. It turned cold last night, after temps about 20 degrees above normal over the last few days.

How about politics? The big question there seems to be are we or are we not safer since the capture of Saddam? If we keep framing it up like this, we’re getting nowhere. But that is the point, for the “framers.”

The form really does have a tremendous affect on the content. And content would be nice, I know, but like I said, I’m not writing today.

If this seems disjointed it’s because I edit too much, BEFORE it’s even out. This works so well in person, that my presence usually goes unnoticed. Or at least unappreciated, as far as I’m concerned.

But here in blogland, my pixels glow with the same intensity as yours. Rather democratic really. Of course, you have to put something up, tippity tap on the keyboard and hit publish before any of that stuff becomes real.

Wow, 2004. How’d that happen? “Time is a jet plane.”