Interview With An Iconoclast: Part Three
Posted by ttuttle12
Recently I was asked to participate in a Q and A exchange for a project on the effects of the progressive blogosphere, here is part three.
How do you feel you can address those bigger things? Is creating a collective identity for your readers an important part of that? It seems to me that it could be similar to Marx’s false consciousness, and that part of a blogs role then is to foster a group identity to try to break down that wall? If this is the case, what tools do you use to forge that identity?
EE: Actually the group identity thing is not what I am getting at, that is just another system with slightly different drones. The larger thing that I believe needs to be instilled is an appreciation for American ideals, liberty and a renunciation of the torture state and what Gore Vidal calls perpetual war for perpetual peace. The collective identy is a big thing over at Daily Kos and if you hang out for awhile you will find out that it really is not something that encourages free thinking so I really don’t think that false consciousness or a cult of personality is a very good thing to strive for.
What I want to emphasize is the importance of educating people because let’s face it, Michael Moore was really onto something when he called Americans the dumbest people on the planet and let’s face it, when you look at a recent study that says that something around 20 percent of Americans couldn’t find the country on a map that kind of speaks volumes and that kind of utterly futile stupidity combined with fear and a sheeplike ability to comply with authority the future isn’t exactly looking very bright. I don’t know if you have ever heard of Mike Judge’s brilliant satire Idiocracy but it is spot on and a dystopian vision far more terrifying than Soylent Green or Blade Runner and guess what, we are already halfway there! I mean you have to admit as an American that it is pretty fucking embarassing when our two most recognized figures to the world are George W. Bush and Michael Jackson.
I really feel that a lot of us bloggers need to really be a bit more focused on providing that education that Americans in this most bizarre and dangerous of historical periods have been been deprived of. I mean what do most people know about civics? Two words: American Idol. We as a society have been detached from our history and of those who fought and sacrificed all so that we could manage to enjoy the freedoms that we have so easily pissed away for a little bit of security in the post 9/11 era.
That is a really good question though because while I really don’t think that a collective identity is the way to go it presents and interesting paradox in that we do need to achieve that common identity as Americans and revel in our ideals rather than in the abomination of the Bush years and the feared and despised torture state. I think that we all need to work at taking back our revised and sanitized history and looking at it despite all of the warts while setting aside the rose colored glasses of exceptionalism, upon introspection we will find that while we have really become a loathsome collection of misfits that will one day serve as an example to future historians of what NOT to be like that we can salvage what remains of our dignity and work towards actually becoming something that is admired.
But we have to clean our own house first and that means an uncompromising push to restore our lost civil liberties and reign in the empire while there is still time. Again, I stress that ideas need to be cross pollinated between the PB and the libertarians and other conservatives, it is the only way to transcend the well placed obstacles that have been deliberately put in our way and all coming together separately to whatever little piece that we each can, according to our abilities slow down this onrushing juggernaut.
First again I want to thank you for your timely and great replies. They is alot of really great data here. So how does blogging and the PB take steps to educate? To reclaim the American identity? It seems to me that one of the things you feel most passionate about is the idea (false idea?) that Kos and other sites like that put forward of a decentralized grassroots, when in fact it is an overly centralized leadership process that has been co-opted by the mainstream system.
EE: Exactly, Kos is a fraud, a charlatan and an opportunist but it is unfair in singling him out alone. He is however the biggest and therefore deserving most of the criticism precisely because he is a con artist but he is far from the only one who has now put personal ambitions before what is moral, right and good for America. There is a problem with the “A list” blogs being co-opted by the Democratic party in anticipation of future favors or of consulting gigs for the founders. I don’t think that you can go to any of these blogs and not notice that sort of cheerleading, I commend Maryscott O’Connor of My Left Wing for yesterday drawing a line in the sand on this by stating that here blog was definitely NOT a Democratic party blog when posters were using the dreaded “TROLL” pejorative against non-lockstep posters. I mean some of these people would shill for Osama Bin Laden if he were running as a Democrat and that’s not hyperbole. The system always seeks to assimilate what were once vocal critics and organizers.
The real passion, the ideas and the desire to be outspoken on issues rather than on just putting party loyalty before country is with the bloggers who are pretty much shunned by the “A list” blogs because they are loose cannons that could be a threat to the electoral hopes of the new group of pigs who will feed at the Washington trough. I mentioned that I had a regular gig over at Taylor Marsh’s blog who while wearing her Democratic party status on her sleeve is at least honest about it. Well I started posting there with a special “Late Night” edition where I was given the freedom to do my profanity laced rants but right before the 2006 election I was reigned in because somebody in the establishment didn’t dig my criticism of Rahm Emanuel as a shit eyed little bagman, John Kerry as a foofy haired elitist doofus who ran up the flag in Ohio before all the black votes were counted and Harry Reid as a neutered little runt in charge of Hillary’s Temple of Eunuchs in the Senate. It was my bringing up of the voter fraud thing rather than the amount of “fucks” in my postings that really put a bug up the establishment’s asses so I was told to cut the profanity. Now I still continued to post but when I started bringing up issues rather than just dishing out vitriol against Republicans I started to get suggestions of what not to write on, Iran-Contra was ancient history, the DLC stuff was boring, stop taking so many shots at the Christian fascists etc. So rather than be free to write what I wanted I felt pushed to be some sort of attack dog, which I do enjoy at times but I want to choose the target and when to hit it.
There apparently was this secretive group called Townhouse that really dictates what is said in the PB with the more well known blogs and Maryscott O’Connor states this in the Mother Jones piece that I referenced earlier which I excerpt here:
“It’s fucking Skull and Bones, man,” she said. “The very secretive, behind-closed-doors nature of it is anathema to everything that blogging is supposed to be about: accountability. We are supposed to be showing the way, not skulking around behind closed doors, coming up with strategies. Those are the people who we’re trying to fight. I know about ‘the real world’ and all that shit. But we’re the idealists, aren’t we?”
So you see this idea of the blogosphere as a decentralized grass roots system only applies to those who have not been identified by the political machine as having clout and influence and those people are then turned into the gatekeepers. There are a lot of good writers and activists out there though who while they toil in relative obscurity are the ones really putting forth the great ideas and doing the best work but since the entire political system is rotten to the core once that line is crossed and the criticism is no longer confined to the Republican party then the blogger becomes toxic to the “A list” that curries favor with the Howard Kurtz’s of the world. They are really not outsiders at all but actually seeking a seat at the table and will be willing to pander to the worst elements of the mainstream media and the political and corporate establishments to get it.
Those of us who are nuisances to the establishment have to just keep laying it on the line and continuing to put out the real stuff, we have this wonderful window of opportunity with an internet that has yet to be censored entirely although they are seriously trying to suppress this threat with bullshit like net neutrality, trying to blame it for homegrown terrorism and the most insidious threat of all using the menace of child pornography which is a very real, immoral and disgusting thing as an excuse for further snooping and censorship. We all have to just keep pouring it on and getting every dirty bit of information possible on the crimes of the oligarchy and their political whores out there so that everyone can see it and as I recommend – back everything up to cd, dvd or other format so that if the day does come when the information crackdown occurs the information can be disseminated through more primitive methods. Just pour it on and keep pouring it on, my hope is that at some point there will be one event or incident that is so completely out of line that it will ignite a chain reaction but it is imperative to get the information out there first so that people are aware of the truly horrible and amoral nature of this rogue government, the blood barters who start wars and then profit from arming both sides and the looters in their Wall Street ivory towers who suck the blood from our bodies for the almighty profits. The truth to these bastards is what sunlight is to a vampire and only when it is fully exposed will there be an opportunity to drive a stake through it’s black heart.
As for your last comment about cross-pollination (interestly my wife is a staunch libertarian/Ron Paul supporter, where I myself have libertarian streaks, but fall more in line with socialist/progressive ideals), how do you build those coalitions? Both philosophically (making others realize the common causes), and mechanically (what tools do you use to reach out? what tools can blogs use? cross posting? comments sections? advertisers?)
EE: I have had Ron Paul on my radar for quite awhile now because he is a guy that really just speaks the truth and damn the consequences. The movement that coalesced around him has been phenomenal in that it transcends the traditional paradigm and these people are hungry for change. Hell, down here in the Tampa Bay area there is a very strong Ron Paul network and his are the ONLY signs that you really see and there are meetup groups that will actually go out and gather for small rallies to wave signs at passing cars at a given time. This to me is an indication that Americans are hungry, no make that starving for the truth and someone who stands up against the system.
You know the very ironic and hilarious thing is that that indignant fascist shit head Rudy Giuliani went after Paul so savagely in that now infamous FOX debate in South Carolina over 9/11 and Paul not only stood his ground but then offered the American Il Duce a reading list the next day….this alone transformed Paul from nobody into a national item of curiosity….of course the establishment couldn’t have that and eventually took him down with the old trustworthy “ANTI SEMITIC NAZI” slur that is so often used and abused to quash anyone that doesn’t parrot the official line of militarism and never ending war that makes a lot of people very, very rich. Ron Paul had to be cut off at the knees and that is what happened with that New Republic piece, the national media interest in him just dropped off completely after that and Dennis Kucinich was taken down with that ridiculous question from beltway toady Tim Russert about UFO’s during one of those ludicrous dog and pony show ‘debates’.
Paul really hooked me when I heard this remarkable speech that he gave on the neocons and he named names, singling out in specific Michael Ledeen who is a very dangerous ideologue and has a fondness for fascism that does not belong anywhere in the American power structure and yet he is a man of great influence. Paul also mentioned Rupert Murdoch, Irving Kristol and Richard Perle’s manifesto prepared for Israeli extremist Benjamin Netenyahu called “A Clean Break” that stresses regional domination in the Middle East. This the single most devastating critique of the neocons and their insanity and it was given in 2003! It was absolutely stunning in it’s accuracy and never did I ever hear a peep about any of this by the phonies like John Kerry, Hillary Clinton or anybody in the mainstream media, you just have to check this out in order to get a real grasp of what I refer to. I did a post entitled “A Sham Democracy and it’s Pocket Media Kingmakers” what excerpted a good deal of that particular speech and you can just go to the post itself rather than me make this answer overly long due to excerpting the most relevant parts.
As for my personal ideology I would have to say that I am probably much in line with your “libertarian streaks, but fall more in line with socialist/progressive ideals” but I also have a lot of anarchism in me as well. As for how to best get these ideas cross pollinated I really don’t have an answer yet, it is a fairly new thought to me and I am really trying to get my mind wrapped around the whole thing as of yet. Focus is really the word and with the alarming rise of police brutality and violence towards civilians being the first really visible manifestation of the authoritarianism that risen post 9/11 that is something that should have wide appeal. The method would at first be cross posting to more libertarian and rational conservative blogs or to progressive blogs that have a tolerance for diversity. Rob Kall of Op Ed News runs a pretty good place where a wide variety of ideas are not only allowed but encouraged and it is an up and comer in the PB. We need to make common cause but it will never happen with the “A list” bloggers because they have a vested interest in keeping the system as it is in all of it’s my team vs. your team, black and white, good and evil simplicity because it benefits them personally. This is definitely an area where I would be very interested in finding some like minded bloggers and activists who really get it and throwing around some ideas on how to expand into an actual movement.
Do you think its important for your message, or to the blogosphere as a whole that readers identify with you? Do you have any tactics you use to help readers get a feel for who you are?
EE: Obviously if I am going to start getting more attention to the ideas themselves I am going to have to change my style somewhat to get away from bombastic rants and obscenity laced tirades to appeal to a broader audience. The trick is being noticed though because there are a lot of bloggers out there and sometimes in order to be read and develop some sort of a following you have to get attention and being controversial is a certain way to do that, unfortunately it also alienates some people. Now some people have really been able to master this particular schtick like for instance The Rude Pundit who is right up there with the worst when it comes to profanity and vulgarity. I have been at times compared to him but really the more that I come to think about it it is really just kind of limiting the appeal. Mind you it is fun and I really do talk like that being an ex-sailor but it is a mixed bag and kind of self defeating in the end I guess.
For example I caught a tremendous amount of heat last week over a post that I did on Hillary Clinton that had the sub headline “All Cunt, No Cattle” which is obviously a play on her smear against Barack Obama of being “All Hat, No Cattle” during a speech in Texas. I also in a mean spirited and taunting way referred to Clinton as rapidly becoming nothing more than “The Joan of Arc of the dry pussy demographic” which was a cheap shot (althought I have said far,far worse things about Republicans) but it was just a continuation of a pushing of boundaries over a series of anti-Clinton posts that I have done recently. Now that was a nasty thing to say but it was really a great line that just came to me and I hated to waste it even if it pissed off a lot of people for the wrong reasons.
Hillary Clinton does deserve nothing but contempt though not only for her sense of entitlement but also for her total lack of a stand on anything that even remotely resembled American principles when the constitution was being shredded and the bodies were being piled up. I have absolutely no respect for her and the tactics that she is using to this day are not only insidious but are only going to result in further polarization and a splitting of the Democratic party which will really be a good thing in the end though. Clinton however is very apparently willing to roll out the B-52’s and send them on a mission to totally destroy anything that stands in her way, not that I use the word cunt as a pejorative as a habit but this sort of vengeful, maniacal and really completely unhinged national tantrum certainly qualifies for language of the most vile and contemptuous that we have available with the big caveat that it is used not in a misogynist context but a context of personality. I mean this sort of vendetta really is shameful and ultimately dangerous to America and if you pay attention it is getting worse with each news cycle, we just have to move beyond this bullshit war on terror frame that we have been beaten over the head with since 9/11.
I also caught holy hell for daring to suggest that the sainted John McCain was more of a war criminal than a war hero for his dropping of bombs on civilians, I really don’t see what is more cowardly than that and while I abhor war as the lucrative atrocity that it is I can at least have some respect for a soldier who kills for his country and actually has to see the carnage. This is just all a part of the nasty polarization right now and it is not only a Democrat v. Republican thing but it is taking place within the parties themselves which shows that there is a battle for the nation’s soul going on. Now I just love this quote by Charles Bukowski “If you are losing your soul and know it it means that you still have a soul to use” (and I hope that I got that right but I don’t happen to have it in front of me) but this is really a good thing isn’t it?
But I digress…
While being outrageous is enough to get noticed if you really want to be taken seriously you can’t be saying things like fuck, cunt or cocksucker and expect to appeal to the audience that is intellectual enough to really get it. I see myself starting to get away from some of that stuff in the future and doing a lot more issue oriented stuff, I have forums that are available to me with a good potential audience and when I really write straight stuff it could be pretty damned good and in the past has been good. I have a lot of knowledge that I gather from disparate sources and need to synthesize it for a larger audience and start working towards those greater purposes that will as I predict be the next phase of all of this blogging stuff that will be crossover appeal. I am right now going through a period of being conflicted and trying to reconcile ideologies to work towards what is a greater purpose.
I hope that answers it, sorry about the language but if it’s in the posts themselves it is on record, all that I can do is give you my perspective. The blogs are one of the last vestiges of free speech and I can’t hardly blame people for pushing the envelope at extending the boundaries, with the exception of obvious hate speech that is.
To Be Continued…