The River

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Among the ancients, those who excelled in employing the military invariably emphasized authority over the realm and investigated the thoughts of the feudal lords. One who is not fastidious about the weightiness of tactical power will not know the relative imbalance of the light and heavy, the strong and weak. One who is not particular about probing emotions will not know hidden evils or the transformations of movement and rest. For heaviness nothing is more important than being thoroughly knowledgeable; for probing nothing is more difficult than raising everything. In affairs nothing is more difficult than invariably being successful. A true Sage can undertake these three.

Therefore, military techniques that achieve a hundred victories in a hundred battles are not the height of excellence. Rather, subjugating the enemy’s forces without engaging in combat is the pinnacle of excellence. The pinnacle employs plots and plans; the next highest, human affairs; the lowest undertakes warfare by attacking. Those who employ plots and plans mystify and confuse the enemy’s ruler, secretly influence his slanderous ministers to affect his affairs, muddle him with sorcerers and soothsayers, and cause him to respect ghosts and serve spirits. They cause him to indulge in colors and embroidery while cheapening the value he places on grains and foodstuffs, thereby emptying out his granaries and warehouses. They send him beautiful women to unsettle his mind and dispatch skilled carpenters to inveigle him into constructing palaces, rooms, and high towers in order to exhaust the state’s wealth and dissipate their strength in labor, thus changing the ruler’s nature and inducing licentious practices.

When he has become extravagant, brutal, arrogant, and dissipated, his worthy ministers will bite their tongues, unwilling to provide correctives or support. When he grants overflowing rewards and perverts the punishments, determining them solely by his own happiness and anger, the orders of government will not be implemented. When he believes in divination and looks for ghosts; contravenes the loyal but advances sycophants; publicly holds private audiences but lacks wise men in government; provides positions to those he loves and rank to those without merit; rewards people without achievement but pardons crimes because he is happy and perverts the laws to execute people when his is angry, then although there are laws, the ruler is merely indulging his inclinations and orders are not implemented. When he believes in divination by turtle shell and milfoil casting; when sorcerers and soothsayers, sycophants and slanderers, the strange and the skillful, are favored and prevalent within his gates; and whatever he considers correct is actually incorrect, what he terms “incorrect” all correct, a chasm separates the ruler and his ministers.

When you block off the ruler’s access to external information and debauch him with licentiousness, attack him with the lure of profits, pleasure him with music, nurture his tastes, and cause him to regard the deceitful as the trustworthy, the trustworthy as the deceitful, the loyal as the rebellious, and the rebellious as the loyal, then those who offer loyal remonstrance will perish while sycophants will be rewarded. When he exiles worthy men to the wilds, retains menial men in official positions, issues urgent orders, and imposes brutal punishments, the people will not sustain his mandate to rule. This is termed “overthrowing the ruler through secret plots without fighting.” When the destruction of his state has thus been achieved, if you follow up with troops, the ruler can be captured, his state subjugated, his cities seized, and his masses scattered.

-- Li Ch'uan of the T'ang dynasty in "Techniques for Secret Plots", cited inThe Tao of Spycraft, Ralph D. Sawyer; pgs. 243-244

Monday, August 28, 2006

What's the big idea?

Lenin is offering a Youtube of a great television interview with Noam Chomsky that appeared on BBC2 on February 14, 1996.

A piece sums it up here.

With Marr's The Big Idea, we had a chance to see ideas that have been casually dismissed by the mainstream pitted against one of the media's finest. The result was fascinating. We saw that journalists like Marr are intelligent, lucid and rational, but only within parameters that preclude a deeper understanding of what is really happening in the world. We saw how the illusion of media diversity is maintained by presenting superficial and trivialized versions of the true dissident position. Above all, perhaps, we saw how journalists are intellectual herd animals who instinctively seek safety among the tried but rarely tested cliches of the mainstream: Watergate proves we have an anti-establishment free press, media-coverage virtually ended the Vietnam war, and so on. Normally this tactic succeeds in eliciting eager nods of agreement, or a humble shrug of 'I suppose you're right'. When confronted by a Chomsky, however, the facade of great expertise and intellectuality that is the stock-in-trade of the journalist, and which is normally so intimidating, quickly crumbles. Interestingly, the reaction of the viewer to the spectacle of this intellectual debagging is not surprise but relief: 'My God, I was right all along, and I thought it was just me!'

To listen to, and believe, mainstream journalists like Marr - who is undoubtedly an honest and sincere individual - is to be stifled and bemused by a necessarily superficial, misleading and confusing version of the world that cannot make sense because it cannot address the real issues. Marr is not a liar and he is not a crude propagandist; he is the unwitting product of a system that selects for the ability to talk intelligently and convincingly about anything and everything, so long as it is not genuinely costly to power. The crucial factor is that individuals are able to do this sincerely and with the firm conviction that what they are saying is the uncompromised, freely-expressed truth. This, in the end, is the real genius of the modern system of thought control-it is very subtle, invisible, and its greatest victims are often not the deceived but the deceivers themselves.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What do I think?

(Frank asked)

I think I’m watching a TV show. I think all of us have watched so much TV that we have become TV. We have become watchers of others' lives, and these lives have no meaning other than – the asshole, the smart aleck, the evil mastermind, the goofy one, the neurotic, the hooker with a heart of gold. They've been slotted in their one-dimensional roles, but we have escaped their fate. We’re watching them, not the other way around.

I think the War on Terror is, for the majority of Americans, a TV show. Unreality is our reality. The United States of Fantasyland. This state of affairs gives enormous power and advantage to the owners of mass media. They do indeed control the horizontal and the vertical. The “TV show” frame excludes everything of importance and spins simplistic and increasingly fear-based yarns.

Do we hear about the obscene U.S. defense budget and what it buys? The military-industrial complex? The crimes of the CIA? Elections stolen? The Project for a New American Century?

Oh sure, details leak out here and there, but they are nothing compared to the torrent of American exceptionalism, if not fascist sentiment, underlying most of the mainstream media.

You’ve seen it written all over: have we learned nothing from the depredations of Nazi Germany? There are two answers to that question. The first is that yes, the principles established at Nuremburg illustrated lessons learned. And the second answer is, yes, lessons learned, best find ways to make this acceptable.

You listen a typical Israel-backing neo-con, such as Alan Dershowitz, and you realize you are listening to an insane man. The patter goes something like this: Whatever depredations I commit, I did it because I had to according to a threat that I imagined, and I did it for my enemies’ good, to civilize, democratize, and freedomize them.

Or to put another way, mass murder and torture is the highest path to societal improvement, which is needed to stop mass murder and torture.

The circular logic allows batshit people such as Dershowitz to stand up on the world stage and proudly crow: It’s not fascism when WE do it!

Why isn’t this idiocy exposed? Because the world situation is like a bad movie that we are fascinated with but don’t care about. Lives are either blown away cinematically or vaporized when you turn off the TV. For the most part, all these cathode ray and celluloid lives become our playthings, objects, hence no feeling for them one way or another. Luckily, the fine writer, director and actor can break through these limitations, but that’s the rare exception, hardly consequential and no one serious gives it credit, if I may slip into a Chomskian tic.

It’s like we’re caught in the one-dimensional glass. I read a “cute” review talking about how Snakes on a Plane was one of those so-bad-it’s-good movies. Glurge begets glurge. glurge appreciates glurge, glurge pops up everywhere and says, “haha, you know, I just play glurge on TV. And this is just a gig. And I do need to get paid, after all.” And the next thing you know, it’s a glurge world after all. Wait, was there something else? An alternative?


What's "glurge"?

Common themes in glurge are man's relationship with God or children protected by angels or cute animals. While most glurge is of a Christian nature, glurge may also be associated with other religions, atheism, patriotism or nostalgia.

Glurge sometimes contains a menacing subtext of fatalism or xenophobia. In such examples, happiness and success are linked to following the message's religious or social beliefs; education, hard work, and achievement are irrelevant or subversive. People not members of the favored group may be portrayed as sinister and untrustworthy, and the deaths or misery of such people ignored or even celebrated if it brings one of them to accept the beliefs of the missive.

-- Wikipedia


So why not torture someone or drop bombs on civilians? You do it, it’s done and then you go to the commercial. The screams aren’t real. The over-salted popcorn is. Then it’s bedtime. Another exciting day with new realities created, old ones incinerated

No time to think. Economies are huge, the number of people, the size of everything, the buildings, the corporations, the munitions and the armies – people sit atop these hierarchies with tremendous power but no connection. The captain of the Titanic probably had more feel for the ocean. It’s like a drug, I imagine. Or as Kerouac said, it’s just so easy and pleasurable to be a cretin. And it affects society all the way down.

Who among the powerbrokers has any on-the-ground control or feel for anything? Everything happens on screens for the top people. Didn’t Bush famously say he sees how hard the war is on the TV screens? Or was it the Internets?

They’re creating new realities which they then watch on TV in order to get clues on how to create and script the sequel. It’s war for the sake of control over programming. It’s “The New Iraq: An oppressed people find freedom and democracy with the help of the Americans. Staring the digitally animated corpse of John Wayne.”

The top-of-the-pyramid sitters, too, are victims of the warped TV culture, a repellent mixture of bullying, triumphalism, fear, and over-inflated self-regard. Moral cretinism is cool! Just ask the United States of Israel.

The human, natural, down-to-earth stuff just isn’t as exciting as the fantasies and the clever retorts, not if you’ve been raised without access to what might make it exciting – honor and respect for real contributions to society, honor and respect for the cyclical nature of life. But that’s being wiped out, warred upon, because it threatens. Pyramids crumble when alternatives and independence flourish. Didn’t Iraq and Iran have some alternative ideas about their oil, much like that troublemaker in South America, Hugo Chavez?

“They” (and they is defined as some fuckers who share this planet and have tremendous military and media power) find the power to shape reality intoxicating. Pretty soon they’re playing with lives, sacrificing hundreds here, thousands there, setting up oh-so-useful gulags, rattling the cages of all the little people who might not like this “new order.”

And as the power has grown more and more concentrated -- with the technology, the economies, the systems -- the fantasies have grown dark, which is reflected throughout our culture. Some day people will look back and say with awe, “they went and sat in dark theaters to be brutalized for two hours.”

In effect, the system is in control. The system and the uber-dominant system-culture empowers the rulers and people like them, who then find they have the power to keep feeding dark new realities into it.


Stop! Who wrote this shit? Rewrite.

Shhhh! David Denby gave it five stars in the New Yorker. And it’s the number one film. Five more like it coming out next summer.


Ah well, I guess we can still read a book or a blog. Preferably a book. Something hit me when I was reading Jerry Mander’s “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television.” I thought, “leaders are just as subject to the cognitive distortions of this culture as anyone.” It’s a closed loop, much like Dershowitz’s reasoning. It was a chilling thought.

I’ve come to accept that their sad ideas will play out. They’re fucking Nazis, and they use all their tools – media, concentrations of industrial capital, nuclear terror – to narcotize, brutalize and terrorize. It’s as hypnotic – for them and us – as Aliens 1, 2, and 3.

But I still wish I could kick in all the TVs, abolish all the channels, even the educational ones, and, ya know, set my people free.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It bears repeating

I've learned a lot about both Israel and the United States in the last five years -- most of which I fervently wish I didn't know. I learned very quickly in the wake of 9-11 that the neoconservatives in the US claim an ideological right -- the Zionists in Israel a theological right -- to do whatever they want to whomever they want whenever they want, and those who question their increasingly bloody aggression are labeled "anti-American" or "anti-Semitic." Those who protest are ostracized from both religious and patriotic society (not to be confused with "civilized" society) and are immediately bombarded with ridicule and vicious ad hominems. Some receive death threats. Some receive death.

I learned that there is a vast difference between Jews, or people of Israel, and the warmongering Zionists who control the state of Israel, just as there is between most American citizens and the cowardly neo-fascist chickenhawks who control the United States. The people of both regimes cry out against the barbaric genocide and ethnic cleansing perpetrated in their name -- they shriek, they march in protest, but the world media pushed the "mute" button long ago, and no sound emerges from the weeping masses. As these two "democracies" force their way across the Middle East, it's as if Charles Manson is stalking the innocent with a mad dog on a leash. Neither can be reasoned with, and no living creature in their path is safe. But it is easy to tell where they've been, because the landscape is littered with rotting corpses of innocent men, women and children, with mass graves and displaced millions fleeing for their lives.


By the way, have you read The Sheds yet? It's only 19 pages.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What's My Line?

is proud to call Toronto her home.
likes both snails and oysters.
hates phones.

-- Vada Malbro

I dunno, judging from the short story The Sheds, it's creator of modern fables. Check it out, topical literature that packs a punch. No pun intended.

Big Brother - fascist TV

Reflections on reality TV as destiny from across the pond, by new-to-me blogger ob fusc. It's too hard to pick out an excerpt. Read the whole thing, as they say.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Is Cheney planning new attack on the U.S.?

Yes, by October, so he can justify an attack on Iran, according to Canadian economics professor Michel Chossudovsky.

The announcement on August 10 by the British Home Office of a foiled large scale terror attack to simultaneously blow up as many as ten airplanes, conveys the impression that it is the Western World rather than the Middle East which is under attack.

Realities are twisted upside down. The disinformation campaign has gone into full gear. The British and US media are increasingly pointing towards "preemptive war" as an act of "self defense" against Al Qaeda and the State sponsors of terrorism, who are allegedly preparing a Second 911. The underlying objective, through fear and intimidation, is ultimately to build public acceptance for the next stage of the Middle East "war on terrorism" which is directed against Syria and Iran.

The United States of Israel will once again slaughter civillians and their means of support in the name of defending itself. The right-wing media of talk radio and Fox News has been gearing up for this, preparing people to cheer on the attrocities (the mainstream right-wing media will just decline to wake up its snoozing audience). After all, they don't recognize our right to exist, 'cause freedom drives 'em crazy, right?

I agree with Lohmann, freedom-hatred actually is at the root of the problem -- if you define freedom as the unfettered ability of the United States of Israel to bomb, maim, torture, destroy, control, occupy and plunder.

UPDATE: Xymphora:

People forget that the inventor of the ‘war on terror’, the war we are fighting at great expense and inconvenience but can never win, is a guy called Benjamin Netanyahu. He set out the basic principles in books and in a famous speech (or here) he made at the Jewish Agency Assembly Plenary meetings on June 24, 2001 (note the date). On the morning of September 11, Netanyahu said:

“It’s very good. Well, it’s not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy [for Israel from Americans].”

Friday, August 11, 2006

How to Create the United States of Israel

1. Send $5 billion annually to Israel, at least two thirds of which is for military expenditures

    1. Use for massive purchases from U.S. weapons manufacturers
    2. Use in setting up lobbying and media/PR thinktanks for the bribing and/or coercing of government and media officials
    3. Allow obscenely wealthy weapons manufacturers to recycle profits to politicians, buy broadcast outlets (NBC, etc.)

2. Engineer a spectacular televised suicide bombing on U.S. soil

    1. Should unfold gradually and finish with buildings falling in surreal manner on television for maximum distribution of fear
    2. Merges Israel’s situation with the U.S. situation: both at war with Muslims (to be referenced as “fanatics who hate our freedoms,” “terrorists,” and, for the really gung-ho “Islamofascists who want to take over the West”)

3. Use military to invade and occupy Middle East countries that fail to answer to Imperial power in their midst

    1. All resistance to occupation becomes “terrorism” (see second bullet point of step “2")
    2. Occupation and war crimes, now a joint venture of the United States of Israel, become a “fight against terrorism”
    3. Always refer to use of overwhelming weapons superiority to bomb helpless civilians and their ragtag armies as a “war” or “conflict.”

4. Use false flag operations (see step “2”) to prevent the diplomacy and peaceful solutions that would stall aggression designed to bring region’s resources into sphere of Imperial elite.

    1. Paint anyone who attempts to expose the criminality as anti-American or an anti-semite (see last two bullet points of step "1").
    2. Perpetual war, perpetual security state, perpetual war profiteering and looting – aka The United States of Israel


"The basic, fundamental notion that somehow we can retreat behind our oceans and not be actively engaged in this conflict and be safe here at home, which clearly we know we won't -- we can't be."

-- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney

Actual headline: Chaos takes hold across the globe

Remind you of anything? Maybe a scene from the movie "V for Vendetta"? The one where the High Chancellor barks that he wants more stories in the media that induce fear so the populace will want to turn to the police state government for protection.

What we need right now is a clear message to the people of this country. This message must be read in every newspaper, heard on every radio, seen on every television... I want *everyone* to *remember*, why they *need* us!

Yes, we are living in a comic book, behind which lies a deadly reality. For example, the Palestinians live with the deadly reality of tanks and soldiers on their land, killing them at will, bulldozing their houses, and controlling their movements. Thanks to the comic book U.S. media, this is not a story of brutal occupation and colonization facing a popular resistance, but of the Israeli good guys versus the evil terrorists.

This is brought out nicely in the film, available online, called Peace, Propaganda & The Promised Land.

If, like me, you have allowed propaganda techniques of the U.S. media, clearly delineated in the film, to obscure the enormity of Israel’s crimes, you owe it to yourself to watch this one-hour-and-19-minute film.

And while you're in front of the computer, you might also want to watch British MP George Galloway defend Lebanon and treat a newscaster with the contempt she deserves.

UPDATE: Actual headline II: Terror Threat Revs Up Joe. ROFLMAO. What else can ya do? Poor Joe, the man has the same level of dignitude as his good buddy Bushmonster.

Friday, August 04, 2006

There is so much high level bullshit to rail against one scarcely knows where to start.

So true. Ever since Bush was installed, it has been steadily increasing, with spikes during new attrocities such as Israel's terrorist bombing of the people of Lebanon.

Check out Frank Paynter's rant, linked above. He does know where to start and he says it well.

Me, I need a cold one, or three.

UPDATE: Five-star railing in the same vein by Alex Jones in this clip in the movie "Waking Life."

via Shem at Black Box