Thursday, July 19, 2018

Russiagate As I Understand It

There are certain…peculiarities about the Russiagate narrative. I can’t help thinking George Carlin would have loved to have a go at this one, but he has moved on from this mortal coil. So let me give it a try in my own humble way.

So the DNC servers were hacked but the intelligence agencies never actually looked at the servers but knew they were hacked. By Russia. Non-governmental experts said the servers were not hacked but leaked, which would mean that someone in the DNC did it and not Russia. This idea has been purged from the official narrative like a former comrade of Stalin. Seth Rich, a disaffected data analyst for the DNC was gunned down in an attempted robbery in which nothing was taken from him. Nobody knows who killed him but they know with absolute certainty it did not involve his work or the hacked or leaked information from the servers, even though the person who ended up with the information, Julien Assange, hinted that there might be a connection. In order to clear the air on this issue, no intelligence agency has bothered to contact Mr. Assange and his access to the internet and the outside world has been blocked.

Shortly after this, the Russians hacked the Vermont power grid. Except they didn’t but they were undoubtedly up to some mischief. Shortly after that, we were authoritatively informed that the Russians were involved in hacking the French election, an error that was, fortunately, cleared up after the false claim achieved its desired aim electing the proper candidate.

For the last two years, Russiagate has been unprecedentedly the main subject of conversation in the media, but all the conversation revolves around conjecture and taking the assertions of anonymous, unelected and unaccountable persons within the intelligence communities, and echoed far and wide through the Washington Post, a paper purchased by the richest man in the world at about the same time as he inked a very lucrative deal with one of those intelligence agencies.

The entire focus of Russiagate has been to reinforce how factual the unprovable assertions are while dismissing any questioning of it as conspiracy theory. Which means that anyone skeptical of collusion, a synonym for conspiracy, is oddly enough a conspiracy theorist. Each unsubstantiated new assertion is either accepted as gospel truth or else placed in the mind as one of those ideas too foolish to actually be stated as true but is secretly accepted as such (e.g. pee tapes and Pokemon Go).

The sole lesson to be learned from Russiagate is how bad Russia and Putin is, and that they must be seen as an enemy rather than a country with an elected ruler that has to share the same planet with us whether we like it or not. The goal is not to protect our country from undue outside (or inside) influence, it is to whip up hatred for Russia. In short, it is not a call for defensive measures but offensive ones.

Not once in the last two years has anyone in our government or media discussed ideas of how to diminish foreign intervention in our election process that did not involve censoring independent journalists. Never once has anybody in authority mentioned the idea of using paper ballots. Nor has anybody in that span of time wondered if any other nation might be interfering in our elections. There is no evidence or speculation, none, that any other nation in the world might be seeking to influence our nation, despite the fact that campaign contributions are flooding us from around the world. And every presidential aspirant has to meet and kowtow to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group. Crickets.

Meanwhile anyone to the left of Nancy Pelosi is being attacked as Russian bots, Russian trolls, traitors, or useful idiots. U.S. search engines and social media are restricting access to progressive news sites in the name of protecting our democracy.

Elsewhere, in England: 5 years after releasing a spy from their prison where they had him at their mercy, the Russians decided to poison him in England just to show the world how evil they are. Then deny doing it. Russia asks for evidence but is instead given contempt and their ambassadors back. This happens at a most inconvenient time for Russia, as they are just about to host the World Cup Soccer Games. But I’m sure it is all part of grand chess master Putin’s plan.

As Putin behaves, so behaves his Ally Assad in Syria. Just at the time when he was winning the civil war (is that what you call it when the combatants are jihadists from other countries armed with weapons gained from the overthrow of Gaddafi as well as those given by the U.S.?) Assad uses chemical weapons on his own people—just to show how evil he is and to strike fear in the hearts of his enemies. He of course denies it. Just like Lee Harvey Oswald, he committed an unspeakable evil and then claimed he was a patsy.

This leads to an immediate response from the U.S and its allies France and the UK, because they are certain they know what happened, just like they are certain Russia poisoned the Skrypals and needed to respond right away. Just like when they were certain Russia and Trump colluded and…are taking nearly two years to carefully build a case while a president who is controlled by a foreign power is given free reign to destroy his nation. Because delaying a reprisal on the other two issues could have had consequences.

Vladimir Putin, you see, is blackmailing a person utterly lacking in shame with shameful videos, according to a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, an agent of a foreign government who worked with Russians in order to help dig up dirt on Donald Trump, who, after all, is suspected of working with agents of a foreign government in order to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, the Manchurian Candidate, the Putin Puppet, the man who will do anything in order to avoid having the dreaded pee tapes available for anyone to see, is acting more hostile to Putin than President Obama ever did, kicking out Russian ambassadors, selling arms to Russia’s neighbor, adding Montenegro to the military alliance that was formed to combat the alleged threat that Russia once was, and killing Russians in Syria. All part of the devious plan to distract people away from the devious plan.

The New York Times and The Washington Post, who both issued apologies for not being more skeptical about the WMDs and said they would have to be more diligent next time, are proving they are the respectable news sources by not questioning anything. But we aren’t supposed to talk about The Iraq war because that is called Whataboutism, which is a bad thing because it points out the other times people lied right to your face.

Then the dissident Russian journalist died but he didn’t die, he just faked his death so that he could catch the people that killed him.

I can’t help thinking that in the early days the story was meant to divide us along party lines. Stories like Russia using Pokemon Go to influence the election were so laughable I can’t help thinking they were served up as red meat to Trump supporters. Another was the Reality Winner story—it was a name that most liberals would accept as normal but one that most Republicans would immediately associate with the term snowflake.

Oh, and the prime thrust of the strategic campaign of the tactical genius Putin, besides releasing the truth that was too complicated to make an impact on most people, was to use social media to confuse us, most of the confusing memes appearing after the election, which is truly confusing when you think about it. If this was an event comparable to Pearl Harbor, one has to question Putin's (evil) genius because Japan was able to take out our entire Pacific fleet with their proclamation of war. I can't imagine what Putin gained from this surprise attack other than my confusion, which I confess is profound.

And each time they come out with something new, they say “Ha, everybody has to believe us now because this is indisputable truth that cannot be denied”, but it always boils down to the word of some anonymous person within an intelligence community. And they say “Everybody on the planet believes the story except Donald Trump and his band of nut-huggers.” But Chomsky says the rest of the world is laughing at us. And I’m no fan of Donald Trump but I’m a fan of good journalism and honest and open government, and this aint it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Ten Russian Crimes

I don't know if you've noticed this, but Russia seems to be in the news a lot lately. Not in a good way, either. Always one to jump on the bandwagon, I have compiled a list of evil things Russia has done. Tell me what you think:

10. Backing a coup in Ukraine that led to the overthrow of their democratically elected government, leading to a rise of openly fascist elements in their hand-picked government.

9. Support for Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists in a plot to overthrow the secular government in Afghanistan. Where once women had equal rights to men and held positions such as doctors and political leaders, they are now forced to wear bourkas and have few if any rights.

8. Sabotaging the Bernie Sanders campaign, thereby paving the way for the election of Donald Trump.

7. Unfair treatment of ethnic minorities, which includes police agents killing defenseless ethnic minorities without fear of punishment.

6. Support of an Israeli regime which is an apartheid state.

5. Selling arms to Saudi Arabia, a nation that deprives its female population of rights and is using the arms received to kill thousands with potentially millions more dead before it is over.

4. Supplying arms to outside forces in Syria which include ISIL and other terrorist groups, some guilty of beheading children while others ate the internal organs of dead Syrian soldiers.

3. Violently putting down the indigenous people who protested the installation of oil pipelines that could pollute their water supply.

2. Permitting a group of oligarchs to put down democracy not only in their own nation but around the world.

1. I will leave this one up to you. As I hope you have figured out by now, every other point on this list was referring to the United States and not to Russia. So tell me, and please provide indisputable evidence just as I am prepared to provide indisputable evidence for all my claims, what crime has Russia committed that surpasses the ones mentioned above?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

You Are Expected To Eat What Is Put On Your Plate

The difference between an indictment and a ham sandwich is you can serve an indictment lacking any meat and it is quite likely no one will notice. In fact, if the indictment is served to people living in a country that is not subservient to the United States, it doesn’t even require bread. Nobody will notice, especially when the restaurant critics from all the major media are firmly in your pocket.

This is not to say the recent indictments by Robert Mueller of 12 Russians is a nothing burger. I, like you and anyone else commenting on this issue, have not been given sufficient information to make such an assessment. What I am saying is that the picture we are being shown on the menu is nothing but lettuce and bun. I know our intelligence agencies and our media (more and more the same thing) assure us it is filled with USDA prime cuts, but they provide no evidence of it. And unlike the millions of others who have already wolfed it down without bothering to get a sense of its flavor (so hungry are they for red meat), I need to stop and take a sniff of what it is the waiter is placing in front of me. I still remember, though so many others have forgotten, that one time when we were served a sandwich that ended up not being a WMD on rye but instead turned out to be filled with dead children and depleted uranium. You simply must excuse me if my stomach has never forgiven them or that my insides instinctively rebel at any dish they put before me. And after all, is it really me who is to blame? Am I just being finicky? Or did their lies and the lies of their sous-chefs in the media not cause a massive outbreak of slaughter in the Middle East? Not just once, but on multiple occasions?

In short, Mr. Mueller, should you not fully expect me to inspect the sandwich you hand me before I accept it? Is it really me who is to blame? It’s not like I willingly come to your restaurant and place an order. You deliver it right to my door and try to shove it down my throat and then you somehow act like I’m a conspiracy nut for doubting the ingredients you claim are in your product. We are told to eat it the way a contestant on Fear Factor is told to eat a cockroach: it’s just expected of us.

Seriously, take a tip from manufacturers of food stuffs and do some damage control before you expect people to once again swallow what you’re dishing out. Kraft recalled 6.5 million boxes of Mac And Cheese after metal was found in the box. Nobody got hurt, they just wanted to make sure. Whereas a million people died as a result of the Iraq War the media and our intelligence agencies served up and there was no recall. As in, nobody even seems to recall it happened.

In 2015, Dave’s 95% Premium Beef Dog Food was recalled because of an “off odor”. Your story stinks to high heaven and yet no one has thought to recall it. Sure, you quietly retract various aspects of it, you grabbed the Vermont and French Election Hacking stories off the table while we were distracted, and then you insisted we forget they were ever on our plates.

If it is revealed that a cook in a restaurant puts something disgusting in a customer’s food, that cook is loudly, immediately, and roughly fired. That does not happen either in the media or our intelligence agencies. There is actual video evidence of Robert Mueller pissing in the stew and yet he is running the restaurant. How gross is that?

How do you get away with it? Granted, you spend unknown sums of money in marketing and subliminal advertising (read psyops). You somehow manage to get your people on all the major news networks, something the small, independent providers of nourishment can’t do. You have in your pocket the best spokespersons from both parties and manage to keep those who complain far from their customers. And when another outbreak results from what it is you serve, you blame it on the wait-staff, those public servants who are meant to serve us. You have convinced half the diners it is the Democratic waiter who is to blame, and the other half that it is the Republican waiter who is to blame, and somehow we all seem to forget that we can't even get a glass of water that won't make us sick. 

As regards to Mueller’s most recent concoction, his 12-course indictment buffet, we are led to believe that it was whipped up and freshly brought to the table for our delight. The truth is it was most likely sitting in the freezer waiting for the right occasion for it to be thawed out and served. The right occasion turned out to be shortly before the Trump-Putin summit, so that we would have no appetite for what was to follow. In fact, I can’t help thinking the desired goal is for a bad case of food poisoning forcing us to miss the event all together. Whatever the case may be, whether we attend or stay at home, the results will not be pleasant and nobody will be in the mood for borscht.

Massive recalls are typically made when a few people have gotten sick. In the case of our intelligence agencies and the media that never seems to contradict them, a million people have died and nothing is done about it. The guilty parties have been rewarded and the health inspectors that warned about the dangers have all been sacked. And those in charge of the kitchen are currently cooking up their most unsavory and deadly concoction of all. I find it disturbing the amount of people eagerly licking their chops in anticipation for the meal that is about to be served.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

America’s Slide Into Infantilism

As children, we have a naïve notion about how when we grow up we will have the power to change the world and the freedom to do what we please. And then we grow up and we learn about responsibility. Most of us. It seems slowly we as a society have been slipping away from the notion of responsibility, at least beyond the paying of bills and showing up to work on time. We still shoulder our individual financial obligations, but beyond personal matters, we have rather fallen away from the whole notion of being grown-ups.

I can’t help wondering how other societies see our own, if there be any yet we have not infected with the inability to reach a degree of adulthood. For all of recorded history, culture has been maintained and passed down from generation to generation, and in that manner, many cultures have matured into rather sophisticated examples of what civilization can be. Sure, all of them are flawed, just as all human beings are flawed. In many ways the youthful society that is The United States has been able to show new and better ways of being and doing to those cultures that have been so diligent in clinging to their past. That has always been the beauty of America, but it is also our flaw. And whenever a positive is too much accentuated, the flaw becomes more evident. The more a foundation is built from a flawed concept (as all concepts are), the greater the danger the flaw presents.

America’s great flaw and asset is its youth. And it has worked so well as an asset that we have built the entire edifice of our nation upon it. It has worked so well we have led the entire world in unprecedented technological revolutions. We have built something incredibly impressive upon a powerful but untested foundation. And it has for so long stood the test that we have ceased to worry about the imperfection that exists within it just as imperfection exists within everything.

We have defined ourselves as the new kid on the block, the young rebel. We are the New World, the pioneers that discovered new terrain, at last making humanity a global and interrelated whole. The only problem is, we are no longer young. We are a nation doing a combover in order to hide the thinning hair, still trying to fit into the jeans we wore when we were eighteen. We had such a good time in high school and were so popular we don’t want to grow up. But we have to. Our situation has changed. There is no frontier we can send people to when the society we have built becomes intolerable. We can no longer run away, we are now as immobile as Europe has been for a while now. We have sown our wild oats, it's time to start being responsible.

Unfortunately, we have done just the opposite. So pleased are we with what we once were and so unwilling to face life as it now is, we are regressing. As Gil Scott Heron said nearly forty years ago, “this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can - even if it's only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards.” Things have only gotten worse since then. Ironically, our desire to retain our youth and innocence has led to senility.

It isn’t just the past that we cling to, any delusional way of seeing life more pleasantly and ourselves more impressively will do. Our movies don’t reflect reality anymore, nor does our music reflect our lives (we would have to outdo Sodom and Gomorrah for that to be true). Our news doesn’t reflect what is really going on in our nation and the world, and our politicians aren’t any better at addressing the issues that most concern us.

And somehow we are all right with that. Because the media and the messengers have done such a good job transforming us into mindless consumers rather than functioning adults. We see the world through the same simplistic perspectives our masters do, a strictly economic one. As teenagers we asked our parents for the keys to the family car without giving any thought about who pays for the upkeep and the insurance and the monthly payments, feeling we have contributed enough by throwing in a few bucks for gas. Today we feel equally entitled because we pay for it all, but we neglect other costs: how it effects our climate and environment, the military interventions required to insure cheap and reliable gas, the taxes required to keep the roads in good shape.

Somewhere along the way we stopped growing up and taking on the responsibilities of adulthood, all the while demanding all the privileges. Sports heroes claimed they weren’t role models, businessmen denied any responsibilities to the communities in which they worked, and our storytellers abandoned the job of passing on the wisdom of the elders and instead went to work in marketing. We are a country utterly unconnected to the kind of wisdom that requires roots, and we are rapidly headed towards utter infantilization.

It can perhaps best be seen in the political leader of our nation, Donald Trump. It is obvious in his four bankruptcies and just about anything he does that he is utterly unfamiliar with the concept of responsibility. It was no less apparent in the alternative we were given, Hillary Clinton, who never seemed to think herself responsible for anything she had done while in government, from her voting for the Iraq War to her active involvement in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi that has left Libya a failed state. Responsibility is for adults, and they are precious few to be found. The cameras of the media do not focus on them because they are not sexy and are no good for selling cars or beer.

We are a nation that never made the step to adulthood and are now rapidly regressing back to the cradle. Our best attempts at politics are no more mature than siblings sitting in the back seat on a long car ride who poke each other and then try to convince their parents it was the other’s fault. But there are no parents, there is no one driving the car except corporations that aren’t paying attention to the road but instead are busily digging through the cracks in the seats for whatever loose change might be there.

If we are not already there, we shall soon regress into complete infantilism, capable of nothing more than mindlessly consuming and creating waste. And there will soon be no adults left who are able or willing to spoon-feed us or change our nappies. Sooner or later, we will have to grow up. Let us hope that occurs before it is too late.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Has The American Story Jumped The Shark?

Once upon a time we all gathered around to watch the American Story play out on TV. It was THE show to watch. It was a simpler time back then, with fewer channels to chose from. And while many of our televisions were unable to show color, still, it was wholesome broadcasting where nobody spoke too cruelly or acted too violently. Good guys were good because they did good things and bad guys were bad because they were mean. Donald Trump would have been a bad guy back then.

Families from the Cleavers to the Bunkers only needed one bread-winner to support the family. Sure, there was a division of expectations among the sexes, but a family only needed one bread winner! Heck, it wasn’t even that sexist. Irene Lorenzo was Archie Bunker’s next-door neighbor and she was the bread winner, allowing her husband to stay at home. Because the expectation was you didn’t need two people working to support a family. And the conservative Archie Bunker never laughed at the idea of an uneducated laborer earning a living wage because HE WAS an uneducated laborer earning a living wage as a forklift operator.

Sometimes the America Show was awful but sometimes it was miraculous. We were so disgusted with such plot twists as the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy that many of us vowed to stop watching, only to be sucked back in by the amazing sight of a man setting foot upon the moon. As hard as it was to watch sometimes, it was seldom tawdry and often epic. The narrative, as I first came to know it in the early 70's, was that of a flawed character with a troubled past who showed a desire for redemption and was making many of the right moves to atone for past misdeeds.

But I can’t help feeling the series has jumped the shark in the last couple of years. Big time. I mean, look at who they have as the leading characters these days, utterly laughable in a not funny sort of way. There’s not a one of them who has any depth of character or any real likeability factor. How many of them would you want to have to work with or live next to? The Kardashians? Please. The Clintons? I wouldn’t trust them around my daughter or my wallet. The Trumps? They’re just a retread of The Beverly Hillbillies, what The Flintstones were to The Honeymooners. Plus they’re a lot less likeable. Hell, I’d take Grannie over Donald any day and as for the rest, well there’s no contest. At least Jed had some downhome wisdom to him.

And the same plotlines are constantly being rehashed, in Libya as it was in Iraq, in Syria as it was in Libya, with the same situation on the horizon in Iran. “Evil regime oppresses its own people and America must go make everything right.” God that one’s gotten old. They don’t even bother to set up the scene any longer, they just jump right into the violence. No real explanation for it, no build-up with credible characters holding vials full of anthrax, just gratuitous violence. It is spectacle over substance, and it just smacks of desperation. No different from professional wrestling or sleezy daytime soap operas, yesterday’s trusted friend becomes today’s villain, becomes an ally again tomorrow.

And, oh God, please let them come up with some new villains. Sure, Russia was an intriguing antagonist in the 80’s, when you had Sylvester Stallone battling Ivan Drago and fighting in Afghanistan as Rambo, but it hasn’t stood the test of time very well. And Russia is not the same (alleged) existential threat as it once was. The storyline has lost all its snap.

It’s not just Russia, It’s Russia Russia Russia. And the plotline is all over the place. One day the Russians are hacking the French election and the Vermont power grid and the next day that’s not a thing. Don’t they have anyone working in continuity?

The resolution to every episode is a Deus Ex Machina rather than flowing logically from what we the audience have come to understand. The free market comes down from a cloud to rescue us, or a new hi-tech weapon magically zaps the bad guy or a new miracle drug solves our most pressing problems. In the end, the only solution to any problem is to privatize it, medicate it, or bomb it.

In fact, the entire writing staff seems like they’re just going through the paces. They’re working for a paycheck rather than a passion for what the show has meant to so many of us viewers for so long. They’re shoveling slop in a trough for us and they’re getting paid outrageous sums of money to do it. They seem to have very little connection to the history of the show and the characters and ideas that we came to know and love. Rather than do a little research or grapple on how they can make new events fit in with the history of the show, they simply retcon things or not even bother to reconcile what is happening now to what has gone before.

And all of the main characters, the ones we loved, the ones we were willing to tune in for week after week because they exhibited so many fine and noble and endearing qualities, have been killed off pointlessly in order to make a simplistic and ugly narrative work. And those who haven’t been killed have either been marginalized or written out all-together as if they never existed, people like Ralph Nader and Chris Hedges. Sure, they weren’t the flashy characters you see nowadays, but they added depth and emotional resonance to the drama. They took a little while to understand, but you loved them the more the more you understood them.

Let’s face it, the writers of the script have lost touch with what made the original story so compelling in the first place. They’ve lost respect for the viewers, the ones who really matter. Instead, they work for the advertisers, slipping in product placement and selling every sort of merchandise they can imagine with the show’s logo on it.

We’ve seen it happen to our some of our favorite shows before, and we know that when it gets to this point it won’t be long before the show gets cancelled, and fittingly so. It’s best we remember it for what it was in its prime rather than allow poor production to tarnish our memories.

This is not to say that there is no way of retrieving it from imminent cancellation. This series can still be saved, in fact it can be made better than it ever was. But to do that, we’ve got to bring in new script writers, people who are knowledgeable about and reverent of what the show is all about at its core. They’re out there. So many dedicated fans of The America Show have been writing their own fan fiction on fan-sites where true aficionados of the show meet and discuss what made it great and what could make it great again. Their work is done not for money but for love. These types of writers would quickly write out the ridiculous cast of characters now dominating center stage, these clowns and floozies who parade in front of the camera oblivious to how sleezy they really are. We’ve got to bring in compelling actors with integrity, intelligence and character. They’re out there, we’ve got a stack of spec scripts awaiting implementation. We’ve got a ton of actors’ resumes of fresh new faces willing to do daring and edgy work, willing to break new dramatic ground. We’re sick of the thin facades and the painted masks that attempt to provide entertainment for us. It is a play designed for children, a ruse meant to dull our senses rather than give us something of substance.

Give us back the story we knew and loved.

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. Please 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.