The River

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Radically adept fiction

Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Two)


I slid in to the back seat facin' forward next to Murdoch, and looked around at the surprised faces of a couple of his flunkies. Probably some FOX producers or equal low lifes. You had to understand the food chain in this environment. "Nice limo as usual, Murdoch." Then, 'cause I couldn't resist - I'd likely only get this one shot, and I figured I might as well use it right off 'cause this could turn ugly right quick, so I said, "Rupie, you ain't pissed at what I done to your boy, Hannity?"

The low lifes in the expensive suits looked like they wanted to be anywhere but here. They were savvy enough to know shrapnel kills, and if you can be seen, you can be hit. I thought they did a pretty nice job of meltin' into the car's plush upholstery.

Murdoch smiled, "R.E., no one who knows him likes that pompous mick, least of all me. But he does his job without too much whining, and the plebes like him. He's got good ratings. Besides, I thought it was pretty funny - a nice touch puttin' his dick in his hand, and pretty good photos, too." The Execs weren't sure how to react to that, so they stayed blank. I could see as how these were the kind of slime that floats to the top -= good corporate survival instincts. Still smilin', but his voice went cold, "I've told you - Don't call me Rupie." Then, the smile dimmed, but the voice warmed ever so slightly, "Give the other disk."

"Hey, Murdoch, I only had the one disk."

"R.E., give me the fuckin' disk. I won't have you damage my property by putting those photos out, so give them to me...NOW."

Well, I ain't the brightest guy on the planet, but seein' as how the limo had moved into the Garden's underground lot, and I was past security, I could see no point on playin' this game no further. Eventually he'd find out that I had already distributed other copies and send a few of his goon squad lookin' for me, but for now...I reached into the brief case and handed him the original disk with the photos on it.

"Thank you, R.E.", the smile back, and maybe even a trace of warmth. "So, are you back in the business?"

"No, Sir," I said, 'cause sometimes bein' polite with these ego-types goes a long way to how far you get to play the game. The difference between me and the slime was, I wasn't doin' it for a pay check, at least not anymore. "I'm here in the capacity of what you might call a reporter, Murdoch."

"For who? Who gave you a shot at reporting? And why, your talents are so much better used pursuing other endeavors," that last part meanin' collectin' pay-offs for him and his ilk.

"Well, Murdoch, I'm writin' for "Radically Inept"."

"And just what publication or network owns Radically Inept," he asked in a fairly surprised tone. That wouldn't last.

"Well, Murdoch, it's a small blog."

He laughed. The bastard laughed and I couldn't blame him, but I did anyway. Fuck him. But I smiled. Like I've said before, I may not be the brightest bulb, but I ain't burnt out yet.


Part one here

Who invited this guy?

New piece over at The American Street as part of my weekly gig: Waiting for the light to change

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Dear Glenn Instapundit Reynolds,

Naomi Klein kicks your ass, repeatedly. A girl. I refer specifically to her new Harper’s article, wherein she kicks not only your pasty butt, but also the ass of every officechair instawarrior out there blogging for bloodshed. As long as you can watch it on TV.

She’s well beyond such cheap thrills, however. She went to Iraq. Got accommodations in Baghdad, and listened to bombs go off in nearby hotels. She’s seen it firsthand, bucko. She’s seen what kind of world your boy thinks is cool.

Yeah, Glenn, you made it through grad school and got a teaching gig, but she’s smart. She’s cute too. I think she’d enjoy talking with me, but I know she’d be wondering why she was wasting breath on you. Should this meeting Naomi scenario come to pass, I’ll be sure to buy her a drink – somewhere else – so we can discuss what makes some smart people so fucking stupid.

In reading her article, I was reminded of the play I saw Saturday night, "Killer Joe" by Tracy Letts. Seen any good plays in Knoxville lately? (ah, that was a cheap shot, Glenn, I know there’s culture in even Southern university towns, despite the professors.)

I didn't much care for it. I want character arc. I want at least one sane character with a functioning moral compass to identify with. But then, you look at the one-dimensional simplicity of certain cretinous presidents and web loggers, and you think, damn, spot-on social commentary. And this play did have true to life details, a good sense of the absurd, and caricatures with more than two dimensions. If that makes any sense.

Mostly, it was in your face, much like if a psychopath became president of the yoonited states, and a whole lot of people thought it would be cool to ride shotgun on his killing spree. And not just the powerful, but all manner of geeks with Internet access, suburban security moms, and free-market lovin zombies. And most especially pundits.

Speaking of which, in the play, a moronic redneck family hires a killer to off the divorced and obviously disliked mother. For the insurance money. To pay off drug dealers. And just for some cash. To buy useless crap for their trailer. Keeping it short, Glenn, so you’ll stay with me here. See, the whole thing rests on the fact that we take for granted a rather profound moral abyss. And everything that flows from that is necessarily tawdry.

Damn, read those last two sentences again, Glenn. I’ll wait. Use that lawyer-trained mind for a change. Because I just described not only Killer Joe, but Killer George, Dick, Donnie, Colin and the rest.

If I just lost you, Glenn, you obviously haven’t been trying to better yourself by learning from your betters, i.e. Naomi Klein. If you read her article -- without having a nervous breakdown caused by the sudden realization of pitiful inadequacy and cowardly behavior – I’m sure you too will see it’s hell murderers create when they pull a caper, not democracy.

These Bushcons figure they can use overwhelming brutality – your much beloved “precision” bombs, Glenn -- to stun a populace, a country, in order to rob it blind. It’s in the article, and in the play, which ends in a spiral of violence. Like Baghdad, where Naomi Klein went. To report back, for us. Just be a man and thank her for it.

Or you can go back to your trashy trailer with the 8X10 glossy of Bush on the wall, you can figuratively join Killer Joe and the Smith family, who are, after all, like you dumb enough to vote Republican. You can choose big media bullshit, and refuse to engage with a culture that grows from North America’s roots.

Or you can read Naomi Klein. You can go down there, general, if you have the nerve. Nietzsche said it, so it must be true: What does not destroy you makes you stronger.

A word of advice for Kerry

for Thursday's debate, from Friedrich Nietzsche: "Fanatics are picturesque, mankind would rather see gestures than listen to reasons."

Sunday, September 26, 2004


I just saw the author and photographer of "Homeland" on Book TV. The book is about "trouble in the heartland." Looks promising. Check it out.

Friday, September 24, 2004

If Bush spoke the truth

This is what he would have said to the U.N. and the world. As you might guess, it is not pretty.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

On seeing the natural-born artist in your child

My amazing just-turned- five-year-old girl sang us a song the other day. It was about the fish in the sea. She made it up as she went along. She referred to the porcupine fish and its defenses, the clown fish and some others.

But I was most struck by the lyric, “the fish can’t see the stars.”

Born poet, I’m tellin ya.

Other times over the past two years or so she’s come out with:

When having a picnic on the front lawn and looking out at the trees and sky during a quiet moment: “Daddy, where was I before I was born?”

When her parents were planning a meal including lamb: “We don’t eat baby sheep!”

When eating dinner: “Is the chicken happy that we eat it?” (If it had a good life and we respect it, “yes,” I answered. So, “no,” I didn’t say.)

When her mother played the tiger for a second time in a make believe game at bath time: “So this is a recurring character?”

After viewing “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”: “Did the Grinch make himself happy?”

When naming the ballet she was about to perform: “It’s called Spirit of the Summit.”

But it’s not all “magic in the air,” as she termed a make believe game in which she plays a fairy. One night she became so upset with a parental decree that she flew into a rage so intense that she couldn’t articulate any words for at least five minutes.

That night, enjoying a peace not unlike the feeling after the passing of Hurricane Ivan, I read the following apropos passage from “The Courage to Create” by Rollo May:

When I use the word rebel for the artist, I do not refer to revolutionary or such things as taking over the dean’s office; that is a different matter. Artists are generally soft-spoken persons who are concerned with their inner visions and images. But that is precisely what makes them feared by any coercive society. For they are the bearers of the human being’s age-old capacity to be insurgent. They love to immerse themselves in chaos in order to put it into form, just as God created form out of chaos in Genesis. Forever unsatisfied with the mundane, the apathetic, the conventional, they always push on to newer worlds. Thus are they the creators of the “uncreated conscience of the race.”

This requires an intensity of emotion, a heightened vitality – for is not the vital forever in opposition to death? We could call this intensity by many different names: I choose to call it rage. Stanley Kunitz, contemporary poet, states that “the poet writes his poems out of his rage.” This rage is necessary to ignite the poet’s passion, to call forth his abilities, to bring together in ecstasy his flamelike insights, that he may surpass himself in his poems. The rage is against injustice, of which there is certainly plenty in our society. But ultimately it is rage against the prototype of all injustice – death.

Juan Cole has a graphic illustration of the entirely predictable* nightmare scenario that the neocons have created in Iraq: If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?

(*by thousands of progressive bloggers and other voices)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I have a new post over at The American Street: Back to the future with Bushco.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Is our candidate learning?

A while back, the Happy Tutor suggested we need to replace our pundits with art critics.

I thought, yes. And if only English majors ruled the world. But that’s beside the point.

The point is, we live in media space, and it’s far different from what we might term reality. Reality is intransigent, the school of hard knocks, cause and effect, aging, death – you might not like it, but you give your life meaning by dealing with it. By contrast, the media environment can be manipulated, and our once modern, fixed reality is now a post-modern media creation. Meaning and values barely register.

If it’s true that you best deal with reality or reality will deal with you, it’s also true that you best deal with the media as post-modern, or the post-modern media will deal with you.

Nobody knows this better than the Happy Tutor, or for that matter, Karl Rove. Rove would appreciate the following from the Tutor:

Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Patriot Act, The Clean Air Act, Shock and Awe, Operation Infinite Justice, the Armies of Compassion - what are these but fictions in miniature, script ideas to be pitched? Rubes might ask if they are true, but let us ask if they are tasteful, intelligent, well-made, compelling, believable.

We might also ask, do they work? Do they mesh with the media and our myths? And they do – on the surface, but the surface is all we’re dealing with. They aren’t tasteful or intelligent, but as surface phenomena they are well-made, compelling and believable.

I don’t think you can fight them by simply calling them wrong, pointing to the lies and corruption, because media debate doesn’t work that way. It’s too fluid for that. Facts are always changing, and in any case recognition of the importance of undisputed facts is missing. You need refutation of the other side’s myths, but you’d better have a strong presentation of your own, which should take for granted that the opposition is wrong.

So in the Swift Boat case, it’s fine to say the vets are tied to Bush and they are engaged in egregious lies and dirty politics, as the Kerry campaign did, but your most high profile and potent response would be to hammer your counter narrative. Let campaign operatives make noises about dirty politics, but have Kerry embody the counter narrative by saying things like, “I served honorably in Vietnam and I’m proud of that. My experience with the difficulties of war make me the candidate in this race who understands when to go to war, and once the decision is made, how to conduct it. My actions would enhance America’s reputation, not tarnish it.”

Compare that to “Bush is wrong about the war.” The audience is left with the idea he or she should be against Bush and Iraq, but for….what? Kerry doesn’t make a case on what they should be for.

Kerry has to give the public a counter narrative, which is all about that hot concept right now -- framing.

So far, Kerry seems to want to concentrate on Bush, to break down Bush’s narrative. But that’s a fool’s errand, because after four years, the Bush story is too well established. Your trying to sell a new product. If the new one looks so good, the old one is automatically going to suffer. Besides, there are enough liberal newspaper columnists, reports from Iraq, economic reports, etc. to chip away at the Bush facade.

The Republican team seems to intuitively understand this need to always move forward, to disregard facts and forcefully put forth your image, your narrative.

When they were under attack for Swift boat lies, they performed the necessary damage control, but they mostly ignored the charges and kept to their “strong, decisive war leader in the present” theme. And they offered a competing and self-serving story: “Bush calls for halt of 527s.”

When it was time for Bush’s Vietnam-era service to come under attack, they offered a competing narrative – a forgery scandal. Right now, liberals should be ignoring the forgery charges while hammering Kerry’s main themes dealing with the present. Kerry should say, “I showed courage and conviction during Vietnam (as opposed the TANG story that casts doubt on Bush’s character), and I will bring my experiences to bear while leading America through challenging and troubled times today.”

People seem to be waiting for Kerry to be bold and declarative. All but the right wing brand loyalists know that Bush has screwed the pooch. We look to Kerry, but he is running as not-Bush, and it’s hard to buy a negative.

It’s no wonder so many lefties on the Web are practically screaming for the Kerry campaign to establish a theme and drive it home. Suggestions abound. You can almost feel the collective will urging Kerry on, because so many of the aware and the discerning – the art critics – can see beyond the Bush public image, and the reality it masks is truly a sad spectacle.


UPDATE: The Kerry campaign needs to get a clue. Look at the stories coming out of Kerry’s appearance before the National Guard. They are terrible for Kerry. They emphasize Kerry accusing Bush of living in a fantasy world of spin. He says we deserve a president who can face the truth and tell the truth. Not sure who that is, because Kerry is incapable of making a strong, declarative statement. He doesn't say,“As president, I will face the truth and I will tell the truth to the American people. We can do better.” No, that would be something an undecided voter could identify with. You can’t just try to shoot down the fantasy world of spin, which is backed by the media, you have to offer a better fantasy world.

Look at how well Cheney deflected Kerry’s charge: while Mr. Kerry said "leadership starts with telling the truth," Americans "also know that true leadership requires the ability to make a decision." Simple to understand. We offer true, decisive leadership. Fits their theme. Assumes that the charge against them is bullshit. Slides the focus from truth telling to “true leadership," from Kerry's story to theirs. Kerry is getting his ass kicked.

Psst. Tired of that weak-ass media shit? Want the good stuff? Here. And if you really think you can handle it, check this out.

Just doing my part to clean up the real drug problem.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

From Typewritergate to Al Qaeda

it’s the same – direct attention away from the damaging truth.

A former aide to Senator Bob Dole, Stanely Hilton, is bringing a lawsuit -- "U.S. Taxpayers, et al Vs. Bush, et al" – charging Bush, Cheney, Rice, Mueller, Tenet, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft with complicity in 9/11.

The Blogging of the President has a link to an audio download of an Alex Jones interview with Hilton, plus more information on his lawsuit. I listened in and took some notes (not meant to reflect exact wording, but faithful to what was said):

We have evidence, documentary, witnesses, that officials in the pentagon, military, airforce say there were many drills, rehearsals for 9/11 before it happened. That’s why Bush says he saw the first plane hit the building on video. We have docs that say Bush ordered 9/11.

There were drills that morning – that was the smokescreen for the stand-down. 5 or 6 of these, one for exactly what was happening on that morning.

(They’ve released an official NORAD, “is this real world, or an exercise?” – ed.)

There were 35 drills for two months before 9/11. On 9/11 Bush thought it was a drill. That’s the only explanation for why he appeared nonchalant.

All planned. He’s guilty of treason and mass murder.

Now they are using the chief justice to harass and threaten me personally.

They had all these drills. They admit it, but their defense has been, it was a surprise. We didn’t know.

(“Maybe you better publicly declare that you’re not planning suicide,” says Jones.)

So obvious to me that without any doubt this is a gov. operation and amounts to the biggest act of treason.

NSC docs indicate Bush ordered 9/11. Part of series of docs part of the drill docs. These planes were flown by remote control. Computer chip in nose allows military to take control of plane. Docs indicate the green light to order this to go. No drill. The drills were clearly a dress rehearsal.

Passenger jets were involved in one drill.

You make the people focus on the decoy -- the 19 highjackers -- while the guilty person is sitting in the oval office.

Many believe he is a puppet and in many ways he is. The fact is Bush personally ordered.

The media interested in maintaining the official gov. fantasy.

These Arabs couldn’t even steer those planes down the runway.

Stakes are high when you have a world historical case of treason.

They are laying low now because of increasing number of people who are challenging them.

Zogby poll. Half of new Yorkers think government knew about it. Any thinking person who looks at it…

They are not dumb individuals. That’s why they have the Patriot Act. They have to have political oppression. Every criminal gov. has done this. Nazi Germany, Moa Tse-Tung…etc. you have to have this mechanism in the law.

Their goal is a one party dictatorship. Pursue their political ends with their blood brothers, Saudi Arabia.

Detention camps at the RNC, setting the precedent for martial law.

The irony is the number one terrorist in the world is sitting in the white house. World record for hypocrisy, sheer brazen chicanery and fraud.

Painful to know who these people are, to see them put America in a shredder. Forced mental health testing. It’s all happening in our face.

I’ve studied the psychology and history of totalitarianism. World empire dominated by technological means to dominate not only their own country but the world.

Must show the people and force them to face this horror.

Who knows what they will do next. Their capacity for ingenuous creation of these events. My guess is they will try another tactic to get people’s attention away from 9/11. Another stunt to win election although it seems he’s running against a straw man, a ghost.

Enough people will get outraged and they will be exposed.

Their whole operation depends on us being naïve and not recognizing evil.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Imbalanced society, balanced coverage

The NPR Morning Edition hosts had a good time this a.m. yukking it up about the raft of political books out now. The piece centered on the fact that books supporting conservatives share the same shelf space with books supporting liberals! Haha. And the titles alone, they said, made for good reading, because they were so clever and colorful.

So they took turns reading the titles, alternating left and right in that “I’m barely keeping a straight face” way.

The vapid piece attempted to impart a balance to the political publishing phenomenon. It was particularly infuriating because the right wing and left wing books are not equal, just as Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh are not equal. To generalize, you’ve got leftist who argue a strong point of view intelligently, and you’ve got right wing extremists who launch completely dishonest attacks, posit the other side as dangerous and treasonous, and promote fascist worship of the state. It pretty much mirrors the two political parties themselves, that is, if the democrats actually did represent the left, instead of the squishy center.

Meanwhile, the press remains neutral and balanced and a good entertainment value.

But not the least bit funny.

More on Kerry's problem

The slogan "War is not the answer" can be extended like a brand. Seymour Hersh comes out with his book on the prison scandal, he finally gets a mainstream outlet or two to talk to him about it, and Kerry can come out and say "Torture is not the answer."

The subject is that no one in the administration has been fired over 9/11 lapses, the Abu Ghraib situation..."No accountability is not the answer."

And why not "A $477 billion deficit is not the answer"? You don't even have to mention the phony war on terra.

You take a phrase that liberals and progressives have used and given exposure, and you make it your own. You bring it into the mainstream.

A real leader could do it, a courageous leader. Too bad we have a candidate who can't take this stand because his actions show he is a "go along to get along" warmonger.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Kerry's problem

The war on terrorism is THE issue of this presidential campaign.

Josh Marshall was musing on a possible signature message for the Kerry campaign, one that can define the candidate and serve as an umbrella for a host of other sub-themes.

Currently, the broad war on terrorism Bush campaign theme is: We removed a dictator threatening our safety. America is safer because I am taking the fight to the terrorists rather than sitting back and waiting for them to attack. Fighting them over there instead of over here. And we’re not turning back.

It’s working.

Kerry’s theme has changed practically weekly. Last I checked, it was: W stands for wrong. The wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place.

His problem with this slogan is that the average voter will wonder, “Why are you complicating something so straightforward as war lust? You want to go back to when we were sitting ducks waiting to be attacked?”

Marshall asked readers for ideas on a new, hopefully killer theme for Kerry. I thought of a few likely candidates (no pun intended), although they aren’t in slick, refined slogan form.

Where is Osama?

Kerry’s problem: Bush could pull Osama(or an actor) out of a hat. We got him! Told you we were working on it.

Iraq war not worth it.

Kerry’s problem: Kerry puts a limit on how much he’d spend to protect you.

Are you safer than you were four years ago?

Kerry’s problem: Yep. No attacks on American soil.

Iraq is a mess. I would conduct this war better. (this was a message at one time)

Kerry’s problem: Americans don’t see Iraq as a mess, just a struggle against terrorists. We’re having problems over there because they hate freedom.

I would have been on the job on 9/11.

Kerry’s problem: How can you criticize our President who was as surprised as we were on that day? How can you politicize their deaths?

We need to consider foreign relations in our war on terrorism.

Kerry’s problem: Bush is stronger on the war issue; he would never ask for a permission slip to protect Americans.

Bush is creating more terrorists in the war on terrorism.

Kerry’s problem: You can’t reason with terrorists’ insane desire to kill Americans. They are barbaric.

War is not the answer.

Kerry’s problem: None. This is the only point of attack that works. It is discredited in the media, but, given a skilled messenger, the people would respond to it anyway, because it is the truth.

Our problem: Howard Dean knew that, and that made him too dangerous. The media conspired to scuttle his campaign. The fact that Dean talked about busting up media concentration didn’t help.

If nothing else good comes out of this election, you can at least take comfort that someone provided a shining example of how to communicate intelligently and effectively.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Kerry forged documents!

I just read a USA Today story on typewritergate. To sum up: FBI forensics experts think they are forgeries. Some font experts say they aren’t. Killian is dead, so we can’t talk to him, but we talked to people who knew him. They doubt the story.

Which of those two groups of experts mentioned carry more weight with the public? Doesn’t the FBI want “just the facts, ma’m”?

You, reader, should doubt the authenticity of the CBS story.

THE story, the one in the media following the CBS 60 Minutes II story, is that the documents may be forgeries. It’s exactly the same tactic as the Swift Boat flap. Get authoritative sounding people to cast doubt and make the opposition defend the accusations.

What is the public left with?

“I doubt Kerry is telling the truth about his Vietnam service. I doubt he was as heroic as he says he was. He brought up the subject, causing the Swifties to come forward.”

“I doubt those documents are authentic. They might be, but they probably aren’t. If not, this might be a dirty trick by the Kerry campaign.”

The media protects Bush. Always. This is why incumbents usually enjoy an advantage. The media aligns with the powerful, not the populace. The populace has serious doubts about Bush and finds him unsatisfactory. They attempt to express this through demonstrations, 527s such as, letters to the editor. These activities are all cast in the shadow of doubt. Who are they? Why do they say such things? To our mainstream-as-presented, they are a yapping dog, a not-to-be trusted “other.”

Also, notice the difference in images used for Switfboat and Doc Forgery stories. Bush is shown in typical “brave soldier” type photos – inside a jet cockpit, in uniform smiling jauntily and confidently for a portrait. Kerry was shown in candid newspaper shots from when he was protesting the conduct of the war or in basic fatigues standing around in Vietnam with some other soldiers. The difference between the two is that the Bush photos contradict the AWOL charge, while the Kerry photos are very neutral and can be read into easily with the “bad soldier, traitorous protestor” story.

The overall upshot: you should doubt Kerry’s claims on his Vietnam service record, and you should doubt news report claims (i.e. Kerry claims) about Bush’s Vietnam-era service record. Doubt Kerry. Doubt him, doubt him, doubt him. Vote for him? What are you, a loser?

Don’t hold your breath for anything definitive to ever come out in the media about either one of these issues. It’s all about doubt. Fight the status quo (Bush)? Ten highly credentialed authorities are lined up to dispute you.

The average undecided American continues to doubt Kerry, cares little about what Bush did 30 years ago, and wonders why the Kerry campaign is stuck on the past.

Next up: Kitty Kelley.

How it will play out: Crazy accusations illustrating the desperate, dirty politics of the Democrats. Nothing definitive, so take it all with a grain of salt. Look at the kind, smiling face of your U.S. President provided with each story. Contradicts this partisan bickering doesn’t it? At least he isn’t stooping to any of this. People will say anything.

Upshot: In the present, Bush is a fine Christian and a good president.

I’d love to jump on all the points the Democrats are scoring, how the Texas Air National Guard story is still alive and that hurts Bush, but I scrutinize message nuance for a living. Follow the pictures for your clue on what the words mean.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Administrative note

Hey folks, you can use the blogger-provided comment form now, which is better because blogger doesn't delete comments after a certain period of time, and haloscan does.

I left haloscan up so as not to delete previous, still-existant comments. But if we switch over to blogger comments, I can eventually get rid of haloscan, once they've done the service of erasing existing comments anyway.

When Blobjects Rule the Earth

By Bruce Sterling

...we need to understand that our bloodstreams are our dumping grounds. So are our lungs and our livers. If we could visualize that, if we knew and could prove what had gone wrong inside of ourselves, if we could put a digital medical imaging screen on our bellies, our lungs and our livers, and make those invisible problems visible, then everything would become different. If that knowledge was attached to every object in our possession, the objects that were killing us would vanish quickly.

That wouldn't be easy to do. But in the year 2004 it is no longer unimaginable. It could be done.

It's possible to live in a cleaner way. We live in debris and detritus because of our ignorance. That ignorance is no longer technically necessary. Those who know, know. Instead, our problem is becoming obscurantism, which is a deliberate hiding of the facts by vested interests who know they are injuring us. Such acts of evil must be combated. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Wanting to know, wanting to do it, that's half the struggle right there. Our capacities are tremendous. Eventually, it is within our technical ability to create factories that clean the air as they work, cars that give off drinkable water, industry that creates parks instead of dumps, or even monitoring systems that allow nature to thrive in our cities, neighborhoods, lawns and homes. An industry that is not just "sustainable," but enhances the world. The natural world should be better for our efforts and our ingenuity. It's not too much to ask.


by way of Sandhill Trek

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A Lime Was Having Sex with a Lemon

On a candy wrapper at BlondeSense.

You can also read Pissed Off Patricia over there. I used to look forward to her words at Public Domain Progress (and yours too, Michael), but now she's at BlondeSense. A Floridian, she got hit by hurricane Frances, but she's okay. (Glad to hear it, Patricia.)

BlondeSense pointed out an interesting conversation, on TV no less, between Pat Buchanan and Tim Russert, which included this priceless quote:

MR. BUCHANAN: This is the fundamental point. Are they attacking us because of who we are and what they believe or are they attacking us because of what we do? I believe it is our policies, not our principles that are causing these attacks. Osama bin Laden wasn't sitting in some cave in Afghanistan and stumble on the Bill of Rights and go bananas. It is because of what we are doing. Most fundamentally, it wasn't Israel number one. Number one, Saudi Arabia, female soldiers, American soldiers sitting there on the land of Mecca and Medina.

Friday, September 03, 2004

RNC wrapup

A few observations on the RNC, which I mostly watched for the past two nights (and which has ruined my week).

-- 9/11. At least three fourths of the convention was about 9/11, war, and the fear of threats to our safety.

-- For all the seriousness and solemnity one would think 9/11 would evoke, there was an awful lot of laughing, jeering and cheering. Tasteless exploitation because it “feels good.”

-- The “People of Compassion” slogan should have been completed with “are outside Madison Square Garden.”

-- What mostly came through when Bush and Cheney spoke was a naked desire for power and control, and a condescension, if not contempt, for both their opposition and their cult followers (i.e. all of humanity).

-- The cult. A cult of extremism. Reactionary. Smug. Oblivious to its crass stupidity.

-- The disconcerting feeling that something is very wrong when this cult is accepted as normal. There is a very large elephant in the room, and it is not benign.

-- The Republicans know how to produce propaganda – regular repetition of short films designed to humanize Bush, a “reporter” on the floor of the hall, and bald lies, because why the hell not?

And one note on the rest of the campaign:

-- The lesser evil *is* lesser. That *does* mean something. These people must be stopped. Kerry needs to fight and fight hard, starting now.

P.S. For some of the best RNC commentary on the Web, see the Rude Pundit:

The Last Vestiges of Decency

Dick Cheney, Meet Bernard DeVoto

God Hates Bush

The Terminator Vs. the Bushwomen

Oh, Thank Heaven For September 11

Feel the hate

Excellent Paul Krugman column on the convention.

"But the vitriol also reflects the fact that many of the people at that convention, for all their flag-waving, hate America. They want a controlled, monolithic society; they fear and loathe our nation's freedom, diversity and complexity."


"Mr. Bush, it's now clear, intends to run a campaign based on fear. And for me, at least, it's working: thinking about what these people will do if they solidify their grip on power makes me very, very afraid."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The horror

What an unsettling few hours in front of the TV last night. What a horror show.

It was, of course, the Republican National Convention.

It was so disconcerting that when this cold as ice technocrat/killer, known to most as Vice President Dick Cheney, was addressing the nation, my wife had to remove herself from the room because she was becoming physically ill.

She had managed to concentrate on her book during Zell Miller’s speech, even though I kept saying “oh my god, look at him.”

If ever a man’s countenance was rigid with hate, it was Miller’s last night. His whole body was rigid. The object of his hate? John Kerry and the Democratic Party. Apparently, Kerry and his traitorous followers are causing Zell to feel as if terrorists are about to eat his family. In fact, he seems to think they want to help the terrorists to do so.

This, it seems, is the strange zombie world of Zell Miller.

If I were a Hollywood producer, I’d be looking for a script about an evil demagogue with the ability to shoot lasers out of his eyes. I’d cast Zell Miller and I wouldn’t even need special effects. You want Friday night frights? Put that man up on the big screen, staring into the camera. The audience will feel those lasers and be chilled to the bone.

These same laser-shooting eyes would also have the power to divine which are the good, god-fearing people and which are the evil terrorists – within the narrow confines of a totalitarian worldview. If I were a Hollywood producer, that’s the kind of script I’d commission. As you might guess, it’d be apocalyptic in tone.

As the plot progresses, the tight-lipped, mass-murdering vice president and his media representative (the president), whose smirking obliviousness and casual fascism resonates with the technology-dominated society at large, give Miller more and more power. They are awed by his megalomaniacal conviction and find it quite useful.

Until….(this is the third reel, menace and dread have been building) one night at their secluded and lavishly appointed secret compound, Miller, seated with a leg casually crossed over one knee, looks over at the VP. Miller’s countenance grows dark (darker than usual, as when he is addressing the faithful during rallies), and lasers shoot out of his eyes, incinerating the VP, causing his cocktail to fall to the ground in slow motion.

Miller smiles for the first time in the entire movie. It is, without a doubt, a Boris Karloff type moment for the ages. My director may or may not decide to switch suddenly to black and white, show flashes of lightning and have thunder roll out over the soundtrack. He may even superimpose Frankenstein on Miller’s face for a moment. Perhaps Dr. Frankenstein instead. Perhaps both. His call.

At any rate, at this point, the President looks over and says, “whoa, cool. Can you teach me to do that?” He sounds exactly like Keanu Reeves. It’s the only comic relief in the movie. It’s also the last thing he ever says.

It’s all downhill from there. A cover story is disseminated through the media. Miller becomes the next presidential candidate. Fear of his laser-shooting eyes keeps all subordinates in government and media in line, and he “wins” the presidency through mass market manipulation, fear mongering of unprecedented levels, and the hypnotic quality of his hate.

Most of the rest of the world is repulsed, but any expression of same is explained in the Miller-cowed media as anti-American hatred and terrorist/evil sympathy.

In the final shocking revelation, it is learned that Miller has been secretly building an army of men with the hatred necessary for laser-shooting eyes. The final image is of this army marching in a denuded, alien landscape, firing their lasers at anything that moves.

Eh, what am I sayin? These Republicans and their convention should be putting the horror movie out of business. It comes over the airwaves now, unbidden and seemingly inescapable.

Tune in for the revolting conclusion tonight.

The truly scary part? It's not "only a movie."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The not-so-happy tutor


But, it is also true, that when people are convinced of a future, it tends to happen, because they adjust themselves to it. "Your cause it hopeless, your will in this prison, your work will be forgotten; we will rule for 1,000 years." Such remarks are meant to become true by destroying hope. Today many believe that "nothing can be done" about neoliberalism, it just is. And that becomes a self-fulliflling counsel of despair. The counter-myth is Emergence, that from our entrepreneurial Ayn Randish selfishness God's will be done. There seems on all sides an agreement that we cannot posit a goal and work towards, that indirect consequences will prevail, and that all is in the lap of the gods. You see that in a remark made in passing on an email is by Lenore Ealy, that we can only hope to make "small changes."

Well, folks, let me tell you another truth. In wealth planning circles it is a cliche, first adumbrated by Paul Schervish at Boston College, that the rich are "super agents" and create their own realms. They don't give to a college; they start one (Templeton College at Oxford.) They don't work for a business, in a market, they create new market and new way of doing business (ebay); they don't pay taxes, they get the tax repealed (estate tax); they don't curry favor with politicians, they get their son elected President. They don't trade in pounds, they corner the market and nearly bankrupt the Crown (Soros). They don't bitch about the news, they create FOX News as part of a much larger empire that drives the right wing message from Borneo to Toledo. The don't complain about westerm imperialism, they train terrorists and start the endgame (Osama).

The Logos - ok. But the wealthiest do not wait for the holy spirit. They are the holy spirit on earth, they are in touch with god or the life force. And through strategic intervention, including strategic philanthropy, they do create large chunks of the world they want to live in.

We are waiting around for Emergence, while those who can make it Emerge left or right are fighting for the wheel. We in the back seat chatter, about how the system is self regulating. BS. The system is a pyramid where most of the power is way over our heads. You want to read tomorrows news tonight, go to Heritage or AEI.

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