Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Indie Revolution

Though it may sound somewhat paradoxical, “Indies of the world unite!”

It occurred to me recently just how much I have dropped out of mainstream society. The music I listen to is of the independent variety, bands you have never heard of and yet ones that are capable of producing brilliant music without the assistance of the corporate machinery. The authors I know are indie authors, the news I consume comes from non-establishment sources, the movies I watch are increasingly indie films. I have joined a food co-op in order to support local farmers, and try to buy as much as possible from local and small businesses. I try to avoid chain restaurants and support the mom and pop eateries. I am trying really hard to build an indie career.

In short, I have become an indie. The corporate world has little appeal to me anymore. When I was younger I wanted nothing more than a Quarter Pounder and Fries, was content with viewing whatever sequel was playing at the multiplex. I walked down the path of least resistance and didn’t contemplate much where it was leading me.

But in the back of my mind, the pit of my stomach, or perhaps in the depths of my soul, there was a voice telling me that the path of least resistance was not leading to a very healthy place. As I learned and grew, I began to realize that McDonald’s cheeseburgers were not very good for me, the environment, the local community, or the animals that gave their lives to up my calorie count. But for years, even after realizing it was not the best thing to do, I couldn’t seem to keep away. Even today I am not completely safe from the occasional Big Mac attack.

McDonald’s is no different than any powerful corporate entity. They appeal to the weaker aspects of our humanity, lull our adult capacities to sleep while preying upon our more childish desires and fears. Corporations are like that, because they don’t care about people but profits. If they do profess to care about people it is only so that they may increase profits. Corporations are means by which normal human moral concerns are stripped away in order to reduce human interactions into economic transactions. If you belong to a corporation and suggest that moral considerations be placed above economic ones, you will be punished for it.

So being a human being, I have rejected the corporate mentality that says everything can be reduced down to financial transactions that are to the benefit of corporations. That the only goal in life is to be of worth to the corporation and the corporate society so that you will be richly rewarded for your strengthening of it. I am attempting to reclaim my humanity from the corporate paradigm just as our forefathers sought to reclaim their humanity from the influence of their rulers across the ocean. And like our founding fathers, we will need to work together in order to accomplish our independence. We must define ourselves as a group so that the corporate media must recognize and react to us rather than ignore us and our argument.

The line that divides the two differing narratives—the indies and the corporatists—is quite evident, though corporate media, propaganda, and marketing have done all in their power to blur and obscure that line. On one side of the line is art for art’s sake, the other, art for profit’s sake. On one side is food for humans, the other, profit and dominance for Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland. On one side is…well, you get the idea.

I am well aware that corporations deliver necessary goods and services to people, and that I myself am far from being independent of them. I type these words on a Hewlett Packard laptop using Microsoft Word, use AT&T, Facebook, and other corporations as means to share this message with others. Corporations are necessary to us in so many ways, at least in the world as it now is.

But they have become the master rather than the servant to humanity. Let not their necessity convince us that we are hypocrites for suggesting they have become too powerful. This situation must be dealt with, human beings must find within them the desire and the power to reclaim from corporate entities and a corporate mindset their own destiny. Corporate-produced material goods, food, and media, are not always possible to avoid, but we need to become conscious of our relationship with them and reduce our dependence as much as possible. We need to go about the business of creating an environment that puts human rights and interests above corporate ones. And that is what I refer to as an indie revolution.

We need to, as much as possible, become independent of the corporate entities that seek to own us as they own any other commodity. The very notion of “indie” is a call for independence, for freedom, for autonomy. Go see a local musician perform live, buy local art, read that which is written by indie authors and journalists. Buy from local farmers and shop at local stores. Once you begin looking at life through an indie lens you will see all the decisions you can make and the power you have to alter the world in which we live.

The line that is blurred must be made clear. The corporate media must react to the reality of the indie revolution. And we must define the terms, must not allow the corporate media to shape the debate. We must not react but instead demand they react to what it is we, real live human beings in the pursuit of human values, see as the way forward to a better world.

To this end, it must be made clear that corporate media is no longer the voice of authority, that their very corporate values disqualify them from being allowed to shape our view of the world, because the only view of the world they can give us is a corporate one. Let the line be drawn quite clearly and always remind corporate interests that they are not on humanity’s side of it.

To this end, we must view corporate politicians as what they are, employees of a corporate system that places profit above human wellbeing and the planet that allows for our existence. I will not tell you never to vote for a corporate politician, though I personally find it foolish, but if you do so without making it clear that you and not they are the master in the relationship, you have given away everything that is important to you for the promises of liars.

To this end we must embrace an indie lifestyle and build an indie movement that places human values and human perspectives above corporate profit and growth. If corporations say they wish to serve us, then let them serve us, but no longer should we allow them to be our masters.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Letter To Mark Zuckerberg

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

     Thank you for giving me an update on the upcoming changes for Facebook. Like 99% of Facebook users, I never made it past the first couple paragraphs, but I’m sure it’s all good. I know our well-being is your primary concern so I have no need to read the fine print.

Just curious, though. How did you know what changes we wanted without asking us? I don’t recall ever seeing any of my Facebook friends making a suggestion and you commenting, “Ooh, good idea.” Where then did your ideas for changes come from?

Surely they were not made out of financial interests. I mean, you’ve already made more than enough out of this business venture than you ever dreamed possible, right? After all, the idea wasn’t yours and the necessary algorithm wasn’t yours, so I’d say you’ve done very well for yourself, far better than the people who had the idea for Facebook and the initial formula. You wouldn’t be that greedy or self-centered, would you? Oh, I know your personal net worth has fallen $11 billion since the news of Cambridge Analytica broke, but that is a mere blip on the screen. People have short memories and the fact that you’ve been using users’ data in ways they never imagined won’t stick in anyone’s mind for too long. Technology such as Facebook has wiped out any sort of long term memory or capacity for sustained action.

And surely the Facebook changes are not occurring because of government pressure. I know you’re better than that. Facebook was your creation (sort of), and I know you hold it to be a sacred responsibility to insure that it is used for the betterment of humanity. That is, after all, why you (sort of) created it, isn’t it? Oh, I know it was originally envisioned to be a hookup site for coeds, but it has matured since then, just as you have. It has become far more than its originators intended, and is now a platform where people from all over the world can share ideas and information in order to make the world a better place. Oh, initially we didn’t know what to make of it and got in a lot of fights with relatives and total strangers over politics, but most of us have grown in our understanding of internet etiquette since then. We, the myriad users of your (sort of) creation, have made Facebook something far beyond what it was originally intended. Surely you must see how cool that is. Surely you must have a glimpse of its potential in making the average person more engaged and empowered. And surely you must see that as a good thing, right?

I have faith in you, Mr. Zuckerberg. I have faith that you are not in this just for money or prestige. I believe you will accept responsibility for your (sort of) creation just as you accepted $75 billion for its success. Such a brilliant man as you must be humbled by the good fortune and the position you have found yourself in. So, confident that you wish to serve Facebook users as they would wish to be served, I offer you a few suggestions:

1. If someone likes a page I create, they should be able to see all of my posts, not just random ones. This is very confusing and inconvenient for both the follower and the followed. It’s like sending things in the mail with no idea if they will ever get to the addressee. For someone who liked a page, it’s like subscribing to a magazine and only getting a couple of issues. This is a direct communication between two parties, there is no need for you to get in the middle.

2. It is not your job to decide what news or posts I am permitted to see. Your job is more that of a postal worker than a censor, a really, really really well-paid postal worker. A postal worker does not rifle through my mail and throw away what he deems inappropriate.

3. I would like to know how others see my posts. I notice sometimes on my feed I get to see conversations between a Facebook friend and an utter stranger. I also notice sometimes that a friend will end up responding to something I wrote on someone’s post who is a complete stranger to the other friend. Why does this occur? It has the effect of dampening discussion because we can never assume who is reading what we write, and I can’t help thinking this might be intended. Pleas assuage my perhaps irrational concerns by making things more clear.

4. Make Facebook users feel they can trust you. This goes way beyond branding and marketing. Such things are superficial and, quite frankly, are means to manipulate consumers. We see through your behavior the person you really are rather than the image you seek to present to us. We know in our guts even if not on a conscious level. And quite frankly, anyone who has earned over $50 billion from selling our data and subjecting us to advertising and manipulation isn’t someone I want to put my trust in. You have profited obscenely handsomely from your relationship with us, and so long as you do not give back in a very real and meaningful way, you have no cred with us.

Another way to earn our trust is to stand up to the powers that be who seek to tell you how to run your business. When you sit in front of congress and they are telling you what to do, you should make it clear that you are not a government agent and it is not your job nor your inclination to impose censorship. Instead, what we saw was a man who was willing to go along with anything in order to maintain and grow his already obscene personal wealth. No amount of marketing and “average Joe” posts are ever going to wipe that image out of my mind.

I want to believe, Mr. Zuckerberg, I want to think that there is something more to you than a person who is willing to do whatever it takes to make as much money as he possibly can. But you have to show me a sign, a very real and palpable sign. It will have to cost you, not only in dollars but in the smooth and cozy relationship you have with the powers that be who also put their own interests above the rest of society. This is how trust is built, Mr. Zuckerberg. It costs. At quite a young age, you’ve already won the game of making money. It is time to move onto a more meaningful existence.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Jack London Quotes On The Press

American journalism has its moments of fantastic hysteria, and when it is on the rampage the only thing for a rational man to do is to climb a tree and let the cataclysm go by.

London, Jack. The Other Animals

"I spoke of the professional men and the artists as villeins. What else are they? One and all, the professors, the preachers, and the editors, hold their jobs by serving the Plutocracy, and their service consists of propagating only such ideas as are either harmless to or commendatory of the Plutocracy. Whenever they propagate ideas that menace the Plutocracy, they lose their jobs, in which case, if they have not provided for the rainy day, they descend into the proletariat and either perish or become working-class agitators. And don't forget that it is the press, the pulpit, and the university that mould public opinion, set the thought-pace of the nation.

London, Jack. The Iron Heel (p. 112).  . Kindle Edition.

This behavior, on the part of the capitalist press, was nothing new, Ernest told us. It was the custom, he said, to send reporters to all the socialist meetings for the express purpose of misreporting and distorting what was said, in order to frighten the middle class away from any possible affiliation with the proletariat.

London, Jack. The Iron Heel (p. 119).  . Kindle Edition.

 "It will make a sensation," I asserted. "Didn't you see the reporters scribbling like mad while he was speaking?" "Not a line of which will appear in to-morrow's papers." "I can't believe it," I cried. "Just wait and see," was the answer. "Not a line, not a thought that he uttered. The daily press? The daily suppressage!" "But the reporters," I objected. "I saw them." "Not a word that he uttered will see print. You have forgotten the editors. They draw their salaries for the policy they maintain. Their policy is to print nothing that is a vital menace to the established. The Bishop's utterance was a violent assault upon the established morality. It was heresy. They led him from the platform to prevent him from uttering more heresy. The newspapers will purge his heresy in the oblivion of silence. The press of the United States? It is a parasitic growth that battens on the capitalist class. Its function is to serve the established by moulding public opinion, and right well it serves it.

London, Jack. The Iron Heel

Look up the reporters that kept Jackson's case out of the papers, and the editors that run the papers. You will find them all slaves of the machine."

London, Jack. The Iron Heel (p. 43).  . Kindle Edition.

I got hold of Percy Layton. He was a graduate of the university, had gone in for journalism, and was then serving his apprenticeship as reporter on the most influential of the three newspapers. He smiled when I asked him the reason the newspapers suppressed all mention of Jackson or his case. "Editorial policy," he said. "We have nothing to do with that. It's up to the editors." "But why is it policy?" I asked. "We're all solid with the corporations," he answered. "If you paid advertising rates, you couldn't get any such matter into the papers. A man who tried to smuggle it in would lose his job. You couldn't get it in if you paid ten times the regular advertising rates." "How about your own policy?" I questioned. "It would seem your function is to twist truth at the command of your employers, who, in turn, obey the behests of the corporations." "I haven't anything to do with that." He looked uncomfortable for the moment, then brightened as he saw his way out. "I, myself, do not write untruthful things. I keep square all right with my own conscience. Of course, there's lots that's repugnant in the course of the day's work. But then, you see, that's all part of the day's work," he wound up boyishly. "Yet you expect to sit at an editor's desk some day and conduct a policy." "I'll be case-hardened by that time," was his reply. "Since you are not yet case-hardened, tell me what you think right now about the general editorial policy." "I don't think," he answered quickly. "One can't kick over the ropes if he's going to succeed in journalism. I've learned that much, at any rate."
And he nodded his young head sagely. "But the right?" I persisted. "You don't understand the game. Of course it's all right, because it comes out all right, don't you see?" "Delightfully vague," I murmured; but my heart was aching for the youth of him, and I felt that I must either scream or burst into tears.

London, Jack. The Iron Heel (p. 49).  . Kindle Edition.

The papers made no mention of the book, but they misreported him beautifully. They twisted his words and phrases away from the context, and turned his subdued and controlled remarks into a howling anarchistic speech. It was done artfully. One instance, in particular, I remember. He had used the phrase "social revolution." The reporter merely dropped out "social." This was sent out all over the country in an Associated Press despatch, and from all over the country arose a cry of alarm. Father was branded as a nihilist and an anarchist, and in one cartoon that was copied widely he was portrayed waving a red flag at the head of a mob of long-haired, wild-eyed men who bore in their hands torches, knives, and dynamite bombs.

London, Jack. The Iron Heel (pp. 118-119).  . Kindle Edition.

Possibly one of the most amusing spectacles of to-day is the attitude of the American press toward the revolution.  It is also a pathetic spectacle.  It compels the onlooker to be aware of a distinct loss of pride in his species.  Dogmatic utterance from the mouth of ignorance may make gods laugh, but it should make men weep.  And the American editors (in the general instance) are so impressive about it!  The old “divide-up,” “men-are-not-born-free-and-equal,” propositions are enunciated gravely and sagely, as things white-hot and new from the forge of human wisdom.  Their feeble vapourings show no more than a schoolboy’s comprehension of the nature of the revolution.  Parasites themselves on the capitalist class, serving the capitalist class by moulding public opinion, they, too, cluster drunkenly about the honey vats. Of course, this is true only of the large majority of American editors.  To say that it is true of all of them would be to cast too great obloquy upon the human race.  Also, it would be untrue, for here and there an occasional editor does see clearly—and in his case, ruled by stomach-incentive, is usually afraid to say what he thinks about it.  So far as the science and the sociology of the revolution are concerned, the average editor is a generation or so behind the facts.  He is intellectually slothful, accepts no facts until they are accepted by the majority, and prides himself upon his conservatism.  He is an instinctive optimist, prone to believe that what ought to be, is.  The revolutionist gave this up long ago, and believes not that what ought to be, is, but what is, is, and that it may not be what it ought to be at all.

Revolution and Other Essays

It chanced that a cub reporter sat in the audience, detailed there on a day dull of news and impressed by the urgent need of journalism for sensation.   He was not a bright cub reporter.   He was merely facile and glib.   He was too dense to follow the discussion.   In fact, he had a comfortable feeling that he was vastly superior to these wordy maniacs of the working class.   Also, he had a great respect for those who sat in the high places and dictated the policies of nations and newspapers.   Further, he had an ideal, namely, of achieving that excellence of the perfect reporter who is able to make something— even a great deal— out of nothing. He did not know what all the talk was about.   It was not necessary.   Words like revolution gave him his cue.   Like a paleontologist, able to reconstruct an entire skeleton from one fossil bone, he was able to reconstruct a whole speech from the one word revolution.   He did it that night, and he did it well; and since Martin had made the biggest stir, he put it all into his mouth and made him the arch-anarch of the show, transforming his reactionary individualism into the most lurid, red-shirt socialist utterance.   The cub reporter was an artist, and it was a large brush with which he laid on the local color— wild-eyed long-haired men, neurasthenia and degenerate types of men, voices shaken with passion,

London, Jack. Martin Eden (pp. 380-381).  . Kindle Edition.

“That is sufficient for me.”   The cub was trying not to look worried.   “No decent reporter needs to bother with notes.” “That was sufficient— for last night.”   But Brissenden was not a disciple of quietism, and he changed his attitude abruptly.   “Martin, if you don’t poke him, I’ll do it myself, if I fall dead on the floor the next moment.” “How will a spanking do?” Martin asked. Brissenden considered judicially, and nodded his head. The next instant Martin was seated on the edge of the bed with the cub face downward across his knees. “Now don’t bite,” Martin warned, “or else I’ll have to punch your face.   It would be a pity, for it is such a pretty face.” His uplifted hand descended, and thereafter rose and fell in a swift and steady rhythm.   The cub struggled and cursed and squirmed, but did not offer to bite. “Sorry my hand played out,” Martin said, when at last he desisted.   “It is quite numb.” He uprighted the cub and perched him on the bed. “I’ll have you arrested for this,” he snarled, tears of boyish indignation running down his flushed cheeks.   “I’ll make you sweat for this.   You’ll see.” “The pretty thing,” Martin remarked.   “He doesn’t realize that he has entered upon the downward path.   It is not honest, it is not square, it is not manly, to tell lies about one’s fellow-creatures the way he has done, and he doesn’t know it.” The worst of it is that the poor boy will keep on this way until he deteriorates into a first-class newspaper man and also a first-class scoundrel.”

London, Jack. Martin Eden (p. 385).  . Kindle Edition.

“I’m afraid I’ve numbed my hand in vain.   The young man cannot reform.   He will become eventually a very great and successful newspaper man.   He has no conscience.   That alone will make him great.”

London, Jack. Martin Eden (p. 386).  . Kindle Edition.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Media's War On Spirituality

Spirituality is either the result of having a comfortable enough place to reflect upon the meaning and purpose of human existence, or else it is the result of such suffering that one has no choice but to retreat inward in search of ways to cope. The most spiritual among us are those who embrace both ends of the spectrum, those who forsake physical comforts in order to have the time to focus on the meaning that can be found in simplicity. I refer to the religious, who can be found in any primitive society, from Buddhists to Taoists, to Christians, Muslims and Jews. And I refer to primitive societies because I wonder if it is even possible to retreat from the modern society that now exists.

Economically, we should have arrived at a point where we are all comfortable enough to afford the time and space necessary to reflect upon spiritual matters, but the economic engine that was so good at creating convenience and answers to physical want also demands of us our undivided attention. A capitalist economy soon realized it needed to become a consumer society in order to further itself, so that wealth creation went from beyond the merely physical to the psychological. In order to maintain a system that can give happiness on merely a physical level, they needed to eradicate from people’s consciousness any thoughts of achieving happiness through non-economic means.

When people are neither actively purchasing or consuming or else creating goods or services for others, they must either be lulled into a stupor or else be driven to distraction by emotional provocation. They must be given constant distractions so that their thoughts never stray to the spiritual perspective, which revolts in the face of such mindless creation and consumption. To distract from the spiritual, they must never let minds stay too long on a single subject. A mind left alone too long might start out on a path of self-directed thoughts. Interrupt it every few minutes or even seconds, and the mind is forced to respond to outside stimuli and forget whatever internal ideas that might be bubbling beneath the surface. Scatter the pieces of the puzzle at regular intervals, and the puzzle solver will never be able to put them together to form a coherent image.

Thus we have commercials on television to take us from those very rare instances when a compelling argument or narrative is taking place. And what was once an every fifteen minute or so break has become more frequent. Live shows, that once had a single camera resting upon a scene for moments at a time as it played out, have been replaced by the hyper-editing introduced to us on MTV in the 80’s.

News channels not only give us one story, they give us many concurrently. They have the narrative spoken by the host, but they also have a running stream of information below it. Add to that the constantly shifting graphics all about and the mind is always in motion, never permitted to orient itself.

This is not a stylistic choice, not some mere fad that has come and will then move to some other style. The immense amounts of information that is thrown at you on CNN and elsewhere is not an attempt to keep you as informed as possible in a hectic and changing world, it is a way to insure your mind is always kept busy, because a busy mind is always concerned with the surface noise, and is never able to plunge the depths of issues. The media has created a kinetic Potemkin village, one of pure flash and no substance. It is not merely useless, it is distracting. No useful knowledge can be gained from such a system of information dispersal. It does not permit you to connect with your rational nor spiritual aspects, it merely demands you absorb. It does not give, it demands obeisance.

It—the media—is not there to inform you. It is not there to help you become a more active member of a democratic society. It is there to keep your emotions heightened so your intellect is never in the driver’s seat. It is there to prime you for the people who make the commercials and pay the bills. It is there to wear down your defenses. And since it is so all-encompassing, it inevitably will. When it does not leave you feeling stupid it will leave you feeling helpless. And for those most in its control, you will be left feeling intelligent and powerful while having a grasp neither on truth nor on the reins of power.

But as powerful and omnipresent as the media is, it needs your help. It requires you to betray your most basic values in order for it to be effective. If you stay true to the values your parents and your teachers and your religious institutions have sought to instill in you, the media cannot control you. It may dress itself up as your mother, but it will never tell you to share with others. It may say it speaks for Christ, but it will never tell you to cast your bread upon the waters. It may quote from revered historical figures, but it will do so only in order to corrupt the spirit of what they have said. Peace and love are perhaps the most revered words echoed by family and church, but they will never be spoken in the media, because peace and love don’t help sell automobiles. The degree to which you do not hear the Sermon On The Mount Spoken on your television is the degree to which the media is working against your best interests and the interests of all humanity.

What can you do to escape from the insidious influence of the media? Find a source untainted by it. Pick up an old book, watch an old (black and white) movie. Step outside your era because it is only in this way you can step outside of the cultural milieu created by a media that has become both incredibly concentrated and far-reaching. If you must consume current media, then listen to genuinely independent news, art, and music. Get outside and in touch with the physical world around you, with whatever nature is left to you. Dig in the garden, walk in the woods, listen to the birds. Rebuild the connections that were all your forefathers ever knew so that you have a frame of reference built on something of substance.

It is time to step away from the television and get out in the streets. It is time to stop listening to the lies and start speaking the truth. Because here is the idea most feared by a mechanized and monetized media, the secret it seeks above all else to keep from you: that you are in control not only of your own life but are part of a society that can direct the future for itself, without the need for them. We as rational and caring human beings can construct a world where lying and coercion will be unnecessary, where force will be seen as a tool of the unjust. Because in order to build a functional society, you don’t need to be controlled, you need to be liberated.

Saturday, May 5, 2018


I chanced upon our local paper, a USA Today tendril, and was captivated by this headline: The Smell Of Death Still Fills Mosul (Subhead: Bodies of Islamic State terrorists and their victims strewn among the rubble a year after liberation fight). From the text of the article comes this line “Nearly a year after…city liberated from the Islamic State, a putrid odor still fills the air from thousands of corpses left in the rubble.” This, more than fifteen years after the United States invaded Iraq under false pretenses. Fifteen years of untold catastrophic loss of human life, culture, history, and human suffering. Being in another country for fifteen years is not war, it is occupation. American children who were then three years of age are now old enough to join in the next major operation that will no doubt occur within the next year or two.

And yet in all that time no one has been held accountable for their selling of a war that has caused so much suffering and had nothing to do with the narrative of Weapons of Mass Destruction that was so arrogantly thrust down our throats by the mainstream media, think tanks, our politicians, and intelligence agencies. Nobody who was then in a position of power told the truth, and yet no one in any position of power has been taken from that position. The status quo remains the same. The only difference is that those who lied to us then were promoted while those who told us the truth have been banished from the major arteries of information dissemination. As a result, those who pushed the war have become emboldened by the fact that they suffered no consequences for their criminal behavior. They have been taught the very unfortunate lesson that they can act with impunity, and you can bet it is a lesson that has been learned. Why, even at this moment that are actively en-

Holy shit! I just saw that Russia hacked the DNC emails. WTF? It’s true, I just heard it from the Washington Post who quoted anonymous sources within intelligence agencies. I can’t believe Russia would-

OMG!!. Russia hacked the Vermont power grid. What the hell is going on?

Okay, never mind about that. Apparently, they didn’t—


Okay, I guess the French government said after the election that there was no evidence of Russian interference. Which, I guess if you think about it, means that the U.S. totally influenced the French election by claiming Russia tried to influence the French-

Hold EVERYTHING!. This is how insidious the Russian plot to subvert our free and fair election system--which has time after time provided us with the best of all possible candidates--really is. They actually used Pokemon Go to influence voting. Holy shit, there are apparently 13 Facebook trolls saying things about American politics that doesn’t jibe with what CNN is telling us, including a picture of a buff Bernie Sanders. RT is allowing people like Chris Hedges and Jesse Ventura to say things and Jimmy Dore and Caitlin Johnstone and Jill Stein and anyone to the left of Hillary are being used as useful idiots by Russia and Russian bots on Twitter are encouraging distrust of our honorable and glorious mainstream media institutions and spreading the absolute falsehood that Uncle Sam loves some of his darker-skinned nephews and nieces less than others and OMG(squared) Russia poisoned a former double agent in Britain and hacked Joy-Ann Reid's blog in order to smear her as a homophobe and…

That’s all the time I have for this blog post. I’m sorry I went off-topic, but I’m sure you understand my need to do so. Please join me tomorrow as I discuss how the United States armed the very terrorist organizations they told us were existential threats to our very way of life in order to-

Holy Shit! Assad just gassed his own people!!! Change of plans.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

How Democrats Can Appeal To The Left

I hear there’s a big blue wave coming, though I hesitate to expect too much after the way the big blue arrow fell limply from Clinton’s bow instead of hitting its intended target. I would suggest seeking higher ground, but anyone who considers himself a progressive already sits safely upon it.

I imagine the tsunami of hype will break meekly upon the shores of corporate influence; such has been my experience. I’ve watched enough waves crash on shore, one after the other, and watched the children get excited as they scan for what they believe will be the next really big one. But as I’ve aged I’ve come to realize it is a fool who tries to predict the next big wave while ignoring the tide.

I’d like to give some advice to the Democratic Party and their leadership, lest they lose the next election or ten, perhaps to even more absurd candidates such as Taz, M.T. Promises, or Snidely Whiplash. I know you’ve been working really hard to court those on your left, which, banning his stance on transgender use of bathrooms, would include Richard Nixon (come to think of it, I can’t say for sure what Nixon’s position on transgender bathroom use would have been). Nevertheless, I can see you don’t have a real good grasp on what really gets us excited (Bernie Sanders, single payer, peace), so here are a few pointers:

First off, the whole “Blue Wave” seems a little placid and calm. “Blue Tsunami” might be better, but maybe lose the blue all together and use warmer colors. Go for something a little more fiery and active, something like “Orange Crush” or “Red Scare”.

Tim Kaine is a real draw. Get him in front of the media as much as possible, as he’s John Lennon, Angela Davis, and Ralph Nader all rolled into one.

If you want to win our hearts, try using an affectionate nickname when speaking to us. If you come across us online, know that we find terms such as Russian bot and troll especially endearing.

We have a high regard for intelligence agencies, so please run as many former CIA agents as you can.

Why don’t you play up the Russian angle a little more? It sounds like something I’d like to hear more of, but there is so little mention of it.

Don’t admit any wrongdoing or personal failings, it just makes you look weak.

We progressives like to feel we are being protected, so maybe try throwing a few extra dollars into military spending.

Don’t mention climate change, it only depresses us.

Actively seek Bill Crystol’s and Madeline Albright’s endorsements. Their opinions are much respected within progressive circles.

Dig up Joe McCarthy’s corpse and fashion a mask from his skin that you wear whenever you are in front of a crowd or a camera. We need to know your commitment to neo-McCarthyism is legit and not simply a ploy.

Show us you learned as much from losing to Trump as you did from the WMDs fiasco.

Trod upon our faces with the iron heel of oligarchy.

Tell us there is no other option, that will surely rid us of our apathy and have us running to the polls.

Threaten to sue us if you lose.

Lastly, remind us that we need to get in line and support whatever warmongering corporatist deep-state candidate YOU choose for us. Tell us everything that matters to us doesn’t, and that opinions other than your own are dangerous conspiracy theories. Tell us children that we’ve had our fun and now it’s time to go along with mommy and daddy. Tell us all of this and more, just don’t pee on our leg and tell us it’s a blue wave.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Earth-2 News

Picture if you will an alternate Earth, one very much like our own yet with subtle differences. If readers of comic books and pulp sci-fi can do it, it shouldn’t be all that hard for you. Imagine a United States much like we know it, only one that was able to transition to the metric system sometime in the late 70’s. Maybe that will give you an idea of the fine distinctions we are talking about. Let us play out recent events on their planet in order to imagine our reality, not as it is, but as it might be.

Turn on the television and you will see the same stations, and yet there is something different. You turn to CNN and you gasp to realize you didn’t hit them during a commercial break. How often does that happen? You are shocked to find that they are ankles deep in a discussion about climate change, and their guests are neither Hollywood celebrities nor employees of the oil industry. The mere fact they are discussing global warming blows you away, the fact that they are doing so intelligently, listening to expert scientists in the field, leaves you uncomprehending.

You are amazed. You take it all in for a moment, feeling suddenly hopeful about the human race. And then…

You become bored. Oh, it’s not your fault, you have been conditioned that way. You have been trained to react emotionally rather than intellectually to important and even not so very important issues. You are trained to direct your anger towards someone and here the discussion is scientific and factual. Worse than that, you are not used to being given information in such dense packets. You keep waiting for a commercial so you can get back to your physiological routine of checking your cell phone or reaching for the remote. You find yourself brought out of your routine and feeling physically uncomfortable.

So you change the channel. Out of habit, out of conditioning. Without any conscious decision-making guiding you, you switch to FOX. And again you are surprised to find something different than what you expected. You had prepared yourself to feel a sick feeling in your stomach. Indeed, you notice it there now, even though there was nothing to trigger it other than the FOX logo, to which, you realize, you have been conditioned like one of Pavlov’s dogs. But you notice there is not the usual attacks coming from the hosts, but instead they are asking their guests to explain themselves more fully. Yes, the host still leans right, but he is respectful and thoughtful. Again, the cognitive dissonance becomes too great and your hand works the remote without the slightest conscious awareness of it doing so.

You are on MSNBC. At least you think it is. But there’s something wrong, something very, very wrong. It has been all of twenty seconds now and you haven’t heard them say Russia. You get the feeling you would get if someone opened their mouth to say something but never did, only stood there with their mouth open, awkwardly. It’s like trying to dance to a song in 5/4 rhythm, it just throws you off entirely. But soon they switch to a story you are familiar with, and it gives you something to hold on to. You relax as you see Mark Zuckerberg sitting in front of a congressional committee, and you realize this world isn’t so very different from your own.

But it is. You see, when the congressmen ask Mr. Facebook what he is doing to keep fake news off his platform, he does not acquiesce but instead rises to his feet in protest. “It is not my job to limit what my fellow citizens can and cannot read,” he says. “God knows I am no authority figure, nor am I aware of any person or entity which should be entrusted with such a great responsibility. You ask me to censor what the average person wishes to share with his friends and family, and I consider that a betrayal of their trust. I have invented, or rather, taken credit for inventing, an incredible tool of communication for the average person, so that they need not rely on media that is concentrated in the hands of a few. I consider my responsibility to my users’ freedom greater than any obligation I owe to you.”

And thus you spend your morning, flipping out of habit from one channel to another. You quickly notice there is no mention of President Trump because the media on this Earth never made Capitalist Trump into a hero and role model. Indeed, the entire 2016 presidential campaign was covered with a focus on issues rather than ratings.

Yes, Earth-2 is in many ways similar to our own. One important distinction, however, is that the tremendous tools for propaganda are in the hands of those who wish to use them for good rather than evil.

Can you imagine that? Those who now control the propaganda machine can, which is why they are doing everything they can to silence those voices that would weave a narrative other than the one they have been busy spinning since the dawn of television. The arrival of the internet and social media has given unprecedented opportunity for ordinary citizens to share information and research issues and this has the giant media interests scared. And because the giant media’s role is to support the interests of undemocratic forces (corporations and the Military Industrial Complex), it has them worried too. They are doing all they can right now to ensure that they control the narrative, but it is a struggle exactly because the internet provides alternate voices. But if they have their way, dissenting voices will soon be silenced and the powerful opponents of democracy and freedom will sleep more soundly. We must do everything possible to make sure this does not happen.