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Some Recent Masterpieces From The Blogosphere

There are some really smart people out there. That such people now have a venue to broadcast their thoughts without having to first go through some sort of official gatekeeper is perhaps the greatest, most powerful feature of the blogosphere. Of course it seems that one gatekeeper's "unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar" writings are another's arsenal of welcome, "dangerous thoughts" that dare challenge the status quo. The democratic explosion of voices that is the blogosphere is a potent and powerful advance in humanity's history: it's taken Guttenberg's revolution — which ignited a flurry of political awareness with a profusion of pamphlets produced by literate people who now had a means to disseminate their ideas — and propelled it forward an order of magnitude. And now that the toothpaste is out of the tube, as it were, there's no way to put it back.

What a great treasure it is to be able to read people's thoughts without extraneous filters, polishing, and seals of approval!

And blogs, as with other expressive media, have their own genres that exploit the vocabulary of the medium in their own uniquely expressive ways. Thus I want to briefly recognize some outstanding recent political posts from the left part of the blogosphere...

The denizens of Wealth Bondage uphold the high-brow satirical/classical/liberal humanist tradition with its contemporary incarnation of the Commedia del'Arte, transposing the Renaissance characters of Il Capitano, Pantalone, and Isabella into corporate globalization's Captain Blowtorch, Smoky Joe, and Candidia Cruikshanks. It is consistently entertaining, insightful, informative, civilized, and thought provoking; an oasis of Culture amidst the pharisees and philistines. Blogging just doesn't get much better than this.

Here, in its entirety, is a masterpiece from The Happy Tutor, WB's sole voice of conscience...

How to Write like a Liberal Sack of Garbage

Liberals in the broadest sense are those who write plain and candid prose on the assumption that those to whom they write, or in whose presence they write, are gentlemen and ladies who share a common commitment to fairness, truth, evidence, good humor, good sense, and courtesy. This style goes back to Horace writing epistles from his Sabine Farm as a pal of Maecenas and Augustus. It was picked up and perfected for English by Dryden in the essays drawing on the conversational style of the English coffee house. You see it in the virile plainness of Ben Jonson, and is reflected in news writing of Addison and Steele, who again wrote as if for good citizen friends around a beer or a coffee. You saw the style again in the heyday of the New Yorker in the Talk of the Town columns of E.B. White. And that style with some footnotes and academic starch, dominated Anglo-American arts and letters in figures like W.K Wimsatt, G.E. Moore and J.L. Austin. You see it defended in Swift for sermon oratory, and you see it in the blog of AKMA, in the same easy going high church style, brought down to daily doings of the parsonage, as if Sterne still wrote, awaiting his birth as his father winds the clock. The liberal writes as an honest man or woman to other members of that club, assumed in some sense to be universal. Now, of course, that plain style can be faked. Nothing is easier. The spy can write like an honest man, as can the Terrorist, or CIA plant. Information presented with a counterfeit of openness, trust and candor can be disinformation, as when provided by marketers, lobbyists, politicians, or as a public service by think tanks. The plain style is the mark of Knave and Dupe alike.

I am struck and appalled that so much candor has crept into blogs. My liberal friends play poker with all their cards turned face up. No wonder they are held in contempt by those who are building the case against them, or others like them, for Treason - though of course the case builder would plainly and candidly deny such an interest, except in those growing number of cases where the writer's animosity and tendency to gloat gets the better of his strategic discourse and fake honest-man-persona.

The prose of poisoned air. I learned it, or refused in those days to learn it, at Yale from Paul de Man who wrote under the Occupation in war torn Europe. With what contempt must he have considered his old school Yale colleagues who wrote with the candor of grown children. In fact I wonder if he might not have held even his acolytes in contempt, knowing that for them the dark style he wrote was never to be accessible, not as a living tradition, but only as jargon, since they had not lived a riven life, as he had, and would never play a double game with their own lives as table stakes. Vitia, AKMA, and so many others who should know better write the virile (c.f., Dick Minim) plain style still, the authentic article in age of counterfeits. They have read all the right post-Enlightenment books, but the message of aporia, or the hermeneutics of suspicion, the darkness of bare life beyond reason and justice, while duly noted and commented upon at length, did not penetrate to the core, where style is the man. They are good men and open men still, untouched by the knowledge that grows from the Tree of Good and Evil. They take for granted, as their patrimony, what is now passing away, the liberal tradition of tolerance, of our respective rights to be wrong. They will murmur a mild reproof, only after long consideration, and hedged round with diffident apologies for their self-assertion. They will set a better example all the way to gallows. (May we all.) Not for them the raised voice; the strong rebuke, rather an awkward silence, or a fair minded account, ending in no conclusion, ranged against those who engage - literally - in torture and the repeal of the laws protecting us from it. What our current leaders learned from Nietzsche, Strauss and de Man was far more than the liberals. The businesslike students learned the language of power to achieve power, within a theory that says that all truth is a lie, so who cares, so long as the fiction sticks, like a Brand, or a Party in Power, or a libel undefended.

Darwinian selection will take its toll on the fair-minded. Candor and capitulation are a fine pair. First one, then the other. So Mandelstam having denounced Stalin in a poem, was rounded up and made to write in prison a poem in praise of the President, or whatever his title was, between periods of torture, leading to the poet's death. Treason is not to be tolerated under conditions of ordered liberty and the march of freedom.

Lies in high places? No big deal. Freedom Pens? No big deal. Special Renditions, no big deal. Patriot Act and secret Tribunals, no big deal. No rights for those alleged - I said alleged - to be Terrorists, no big deal. A database of liberal funders, Patriots all, presented with their pictures on a page with Terrorists by a flunky intellectual close to Bush, a hireling in the pay of Bradley Foundation, no big deal. His disingenuous coded speech, gloating in his cruelty and denying it at the same time - no big deal. His mock surprise at liberal reaction to blood libel presented by innuendo - no big deal. (I will assume this characterization is accurate, unless I hear otherwise from Mr. Horowitz. I want this site to be both accurate and fair in the best traditions of liberalism and its ancillary satirical tradition. Happy to make whatever revisions to my portrait of him that he feels are needed. The last thing I want to do is to get on the wrong side of the next Joseph McCarthy, or wannabe.)

What is a big deal? Not your death. Not mine. The fat sewer rat crossing the drawing room with a human hand in its jaws, not to be noticed. One does not notice such things.

So Darwinian Selection will weed out those unfit to survive under our changed conditions of Terror coming and going. May the candid, among them my liberal friends, survive if only because they are deemed harmless dupes, on the irrefutable evidence of their blogs.

Of course what do I know? Tossed out on my ass from Wealth Bondage for kissing the Wealthy ass I am paid to spank. Trying even now to correct the habits and morals of the Rich pro bono publico. Living in a Dumpster, a Pimp without a Think Tank, surrounded by Whores who write like the Gentleman and Ladies of the Street, drinking their tea from a tomato can, while sitting on a sack of garbage. If we take up a collection perhaps we can make $6.50 to purchase a pint of Thunderbird at the local Store of Convenience.

My Fellow Consumers! Here's to Freedom. May it pass us in our misery untouched. History is not for the squeamish. It will be written in whatever style they choose, preferably candid and complacent, by the victors, and liberals are not in the running. Their era is over. Their style is dead for any honest public purpose. They will follow meekly enough, or rise above, whether on the cross or the gibbet - or fall short, when the moment comes. My fellow Liberals, Welcome to the Dump. Here at least we can write like friends, God's spies, as Lear said to Cordelia. Let us cherish these moments together. Let come what may, a Band of Brothers and Sisters, speaking out candidly whatever the cost. Thank God, no one is listening. Are they?

Catalytic Converter has a series entitled "The Sliding Scale of Paranoia." He's up to part 3. This is articulate writing coming from someone with their eyes open, filtered through an excellent mind. I particularly appreciate those phenomenological gleanings he shares of the effects his awareness of politics has on him.

One of the more dangerous tasks on earth is to effectively demonstrate to humanity that there are other options, other means of engaging with the universe, other perspectives on reality. If you do so in an engaging, energetic, intelligent manner, and demonstrate that non-violence is an option for change then you are in big trouble.
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There is little that is more threatening to the Control Structure then people growing in awareness and taking creative action based on that awareness. To do so non-violently, in an honest straight forward manner is the worst. If you are engaged in such an activity set the scale on high and never lower it.

Control thrives on violence, it cannot have people becoming creative individuals with the realization that they can stand up for themselves and a principle and allow the universe to reform around them.

Such threats have to be eliminated for the control structure to remain in place. The Control Structure is based on a rather flimsy pretext: That you will remain an idiot sheep for the rest of your life, and insist that anyone within your sphere of influence does the same. A lot of people make good money creating distractions or reinforcing the status quo to help you remain in the herd, contently chewing cud until it is abattoir time.
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Every once in a while...an academic is trying to convince you that you shouldn't trouble yourself with thinking for yourself; just put all your faith and trust in those arbitrators of reality - the mass media.

"Its okay, you don't have to think," he soothes, "join me in mocking those who think that people may act out of their own self interest and conspire to alter reality for their personal benefit rather than your own. Trust power. Trust authority. I do, and look how I turned out," he emotes while stroking his chin beard on C-Span.

I wonder if he can really be so juvenile in his thinking? This supposedly learned individual wants us to believe, with all our heart, that once people gain power they become honest and trustworthy? He wants us to believe that the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc., despite bus loads of evidence, always have our best interests at heart, and would never conspire against anyone?

Well, they do conspire, he may admit, but only against the bad guys.

Who determines the bad guys? Those in power decide who the bad guys are. The bad guys are anyone who stands in their way. The mass media report back to us what they are told to report.

You can't get out of saying there are no conspiracies. It is the only reality here on earth. Of course, an unbalanced individual can take that too far. Every once in a while, a plane crash is just a plane crash.

His work is damage control. The worst thing that could happen to the Control Structure is for the American public to wake up and understand the why behind the assassinations of JFK, MLK, RFK, Wellstone, etc. We continue to pull the trigger by ignoring reality.
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Rigorous Intuition is always thought provoking. Whereas the best political bloggers are able to scratch the surface and examine the muscles and sinews of what's going on (and the best of those personalize it in meaningful ways), RI goes deeper, examining the very marrow of political power. What he explores may seem very far-fetched to those who rely for their understanding of the world from the insta-pabulum propaganda of mainstream reportage, but to those in the know he is a fount of information, drawing deep connections that can prompt one to gasp as they scratch their head in disbelief.

Here's one of his typically paradigm-shifting snippets:

It may feel good to call Bush and his team miserable failures, yet they've stolen two presidential elections and a midterm, have dug into Iraq and the Caspian basin, and are looting the Treasury without obstruction. They may be failures in our eyes, but we're judging them on the terms of our values, while theirs can appear to us upside down. And we need to regard more than the surface of things, to make sense of their actions, and how they judge success.

For instance, the Bush White House is clearly bankrupting America: is that by accident, or design? Does it demonstrate incompent management, or is it the intentional manufacture of a crisis, to crash the system and create a larcenous Year Zero?

What makes us feel better, and which is more likely true: that they don't know what they're doing, or they do?

He's also got a great peanut gallery. Here are a couple of snippets from the comments section for the above article:

Are they bankrupting the country by design? Definitely. It appears the plan is to bring the American people to their knees ableit slowly.Why? Two reasons. One, as the economy slowly implodes, there will be deals aplenty in foreclosures, and business sellouts, for the top one percent to scoop up. Two, a greatly weakened fearful and desparate populace will be easier to control.Not to mention a ever growing supply of unemployed desparate youngsters for cannon fodder for perpetual imperialism. They want to remove every safety net, every shred of protection offered to the peasantry so they can rule us totally. Outsource as many jobs as possible, and insource cheap illegal and guest workers to take whats left.Put the squeeze on us with ever higher energy and health costs. They want a feudal system with two classes: a ruling aristocracy and masses of poor. I wring my hands at how this country will ever get out of this mess.

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As far as Bush's incompetence. What incompetence? They control every image, every question, every statement. I never think they don't know exactly what they're doing.(anymore) Remember when they referred to us as "Crusaders"? No mistake. Remember when they neglected to cover the escape route by sea out of Afghanistan, through Pakistan? (that would seem sorta easy, no?) No mistake. These people don't make mistakes. It's hard to follow their logic sure. They're nuts after all. But I don't believe they just don't notice the dumb things they do. It's like they are thumbing their noses at the world while standing behind the backs of the American people. A lot of the reason they won the last election is because many Americans resent being put-down by those foriegners. The Rethugs made that happen. The gay marriage thing, which I suspect they funded, was pretty obvious. Getting the world to hate us as an election ploy...well, Rove is a very, very good, very bad, bad boy.

xymphora is one of those rare people who employs a combination of logic, common sense, and political awareness to assess current events, and his sense of injustice is as deep as his political knowledge is wide. His recent assessment of the attempted assassination by Murkan troops of the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena is an excellent example. Some highlights:

Had everything gone as planned, an American sniper would have assassinated Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena with one shot, following the sniper's code of 'one shot, one kill'. The only independent witness to what happened would then be dead, as both her guardian, the heroic Nicola Calipari, the driver of the car, and the other two passengers were Italian secret service agents, thus worked for Berlusconi, and would be unable to say anything...The Americans obviously could have killed everyone in the car by simply blowing it up, but it would then have been impossible to claim that this was just another mistake made by a panicking speeding driver at a checkpoint. By firing lots of rounds, but with only one shot killing anybody, it is clear that either the Americans are terrible shots, or all the flying ammo was simply a ruse to hide the only shot that mattered, the one that would kill the person with the information on what happened in the chemical warfare attacks on Falluja. All the Americans, except for the sniper, were shooting to miss. The sniper had her lined up, only to be foiled by the heroic sacrifice of Nicola Calipari. Ironic that the neocons are stymied by a combination of altruism and duty, things they cannot possibly comprehend
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It is illegal and immoral to use incendiaries on civilians, and there is increasing anecdotal evidence that the Pentagon did just that in the assault on Falluja. It starts to get a little tiresome to hear the same quibbling about what the Pentagon would or wouldn't do, given cluster bombs, DU, 'shock and awe' bombing of civilians, and the general attack on Falluja itself. The human rights standards of the Pentagon - and thus of the United States - are so incredibly low that it is impossible to give them the benefit of the doubt on anything. It is also odd that the Pentagon has clearly been blocking access of journalists to interview civilians in Falluja - the reason Sgrena was so important is that she is one of the first to be able to do so - and that there are claims that American soldiers have been taking steps to 'sanitize' the city by removing evidence. We also know that after an initial outraged lie denying Pentagon use of napalm in the attack on Iraq, Pentagon officials eventually admitted that they did use a napalm-like substance, but it was not technically 'napalm' so their lies were not technically lies. You really can't believe anything they say. Let's face it: the Pentagon was 'going medieval' on Falluja, both as a punishment for its failure to kowtow to Empire and as a warning to others, and they were attacking Falluja without restraints. Napalm or other incendaires would have fit right in. So would killing anyone who might be 'unembedded' long enough to discover the truth.
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Reverend Mykeru is a take-no-prisoners juggernaut of righteous political anger, his invective filled diatribes serving as mitigating correctives to the incessant blare of the Mighty Wurlitzer. Here's an excerpt of his recent excoriation of wingnut hack Michelle Malkin:

...this isn't your father's Republican party. In fact, one can argue that the Republican party hasn't been the "party of Lincoln" since they deployed the Southern Strategy in the 1960s and started playing for the other team in the game of racial politics. As often happens, the right-wing had to make a choice between holding onto their principles or acquiring power. They chose power and seem now to be entirely liberated from principle. Malkin, like so many other right wing extremists, demonstrates the difference between having a consistent set of values and merely being "anti-liberal" because liberalism stands in the way of power or, more accurately, because well-funded right wing interest groups finance her workaday anti-liberalism. Should she accidentally contract a bad case of integrity or consistency, she can kiss her job good-bye. Without the right wing hook, she is neither a technically proficient nor insightful writer. In fact, Malkin's entire career consists of tapping into and dutifully writing on the right wing zeitgeist that week without the paranoid freeform creativity of someone like Coulter...
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Wondering how Malkin can be so wrong when she links to the very quote that disproves her point misses the point itself. The purpose of Malkin and other right-wing pundits isn't to make any specific arguments, or to hold any particular principles, or to defend a position, except in the most shallow theatrical terms. Their purpose is to promote whatever is the current power play of the right wing while denigrating liberals in any way they can.
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But Coulter is completely transparent in her day job of demonizing liberals and is fairly one-dimensional and crude in her lying. What Malkin has done in her own slightly behind the curve way, is a purely Coulteresque move done one better: Make an accusation, provide a link or reference for evidence, hope that no one actually reads the cite and discovers that it has nothing to do with what one was trying to prove or, even better, refutes the claim made. Coulter's book Slander has almost 700 footnotes in this vein. Some sort of support her claim. Some are irrelevant to her claim, and some prove the opposite. Coulter is the kind of author who knows her readers either don't follow references or couldn't understand them anyway, and anyone who criticizes her is just a liberal anyway.

Here Malkin is absolutely brilliant in her Coulter gambit if, by "brilliant" one means "could be beaten at checkers by a trained capuchin monkey addicted to huffing model airplane glue".
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Auguste of MalkinWatch rightly points out Malkin's factual inaccuracy, which is so blatant that she is either a liar, an idiot or a functional illiterate. Then he leaves it at that, being a guy too smart to go diving into the swirling blue water after a turd. Still, beyond the simple factual inaccuracy of the accusation against MoveOn, Malkin manages to pack a whole lot of lies, distortion, and propagandistic selectivity into one short paragraph.

It almost cries out for an explanation. I mean what Malkin has done here is obviously an untruth and due to the simplicity of the error giving her any benefit of the doubt for having a functional brain would force us into the next assumption, that she is engaging in deliberate untruth. After all, she wasn't just reciting this off the top of her head. She immediately linked to a Memory Hole article that refutes her very claim. So not only is it a lie, but it's a pretty stupid lie, the sort of lie that does double duty a a general insult against the intelligence of her readership.

Why just make shit up?

Because that's what Malkin and right wing pundits do, many of whom are graduates of schools of advanced bullshit like The Heritage Foundation, get money straight from Richard Melon Scaife, or take part in some other food stamp program for integrity-challenged right-wingers drummed out of some decent job in journalism.
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The job that Malkin has accepted for herself, and in this she is just an example of the entire right punditocracy, is something she is well compensated for. It's the same job Coulter has. Both are in the business of promoting extremist right wing views so extreme that the Venn diagram of what they are promoting and straight fascism has a very thick overlap. Malkin and Coulter take all the sick cousin fucking ranting of the Christian Identity people, the Militias, the Patriot movement (not to be confused with ordinary patriotic Americans), the Birchers and other lunatics, clean it up a bit and spew it back out in more acceptable form. Malkin may even be more effective at this than Coulter. Not only does Malkin seem relatively more stable than the angry, drunk, chain smoking spinster that is Coulter, but she has the advantage of being able to dress up her form of xenophobic race-conscious fascism in the apron of a nice little suburban Maryland mommy. Between episodes of explaining to her toddler why Christina Aguilera is a skank for showing skin on the cover of Rolling Stone and, not incidentally dating black men, she lays down the pseudo-scholarly framework for racial and religious pogroms. The only difference is that Malkin isn't a firebrand. There's something dutiful about her writing, as if she just picks up her wing nut writing assignment in the morning and cranks out what is expected by early afternoon.

...Whether a whore or a true believer the net result is the same. Like Coulter and other right-wing pundits, for all their outrage there's an underlying timidity to them, after all. When they are right and especially when they are wrong, they snuggle up to the powerful and never ever bite the hand that feeds them. They save up all their courage to attack those people too weak or marginalized to adequately defend themselves.

And, finally, this from Netaloid, a master of the tactless segue connecting topical abridgements. Here is an example that ties two articles together concerning the recent overhaul of the bankruptcy laws in Murka:

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But creating a scenario where only almost half of Americans are racking up the penalty payments, accelerated interest and late fees is just not good enough for the mosquito-like credit-card vampires.

Now they've gotten their bribees in the House to pass a law making it near impossible to obtain Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in the event of insurmountable credit card debt. No, the poor shits no longer will have the option of giving their house and car and clothing to the credit card vampires. No more wiping out debt and starting over. The Republicans have created a law that will force poor people to become indentured slaves to banks and credit-card companies or face prison.

And unless the few people in the U.S. Senate who still possess a soul are successful in filibustering this bill, slavery will become legal in the United States once again. You still have a chance to help stop this sadism, but act quickly, because the shit's about an inch away from hitting the fan:
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I, for one, find it very heartening to see that I am not alone — that we are not alone. Perhaps the greatest gift of the blogosphere is that it lets one know that there are many out there who agree with you, whatever your point of view is. It is helping people realize that there are far more of us out there than we thought; and that, paradoxically, the more we sing with our own voices the more the chorus sings in harmony, and the more it will be heard. (And we are being heard!)

And, lastly, I want to briefly give thanks to some of my other favorite bloggers, those whom I count amongst my friends and allies as we explore this new medium together: Harry, et alia, the Continental Op, Bruce, Thivai, Jon, Brian, Rick, Michael, and Nick — companions who all make the trek easier, more enjoyable, and more rewarding. Thank you.