Category Archives: Blogs

Interview With An Iconoclast: Part One

Recently I agreed to participate in sociological study on the progressive blogosphere being conducted by a representative from a University of higher learning. I appreciate the interest in my input and just for the hell of it all I am going to post it here in segments so that readers can get an idea on where I personally am coming from.
Question: Tell me a little about yourself and how/why you got involved with blogging?
Ed Encho: Sure here we go, I am a forty something year old white male with a college degree in business and a meaningless and ultimately futile job in the soul sucking sea of despair and ennui that is America’s corporate gulag system. I would say that I am lower middle class for what that’s worth now that that particular group has been on the losing end of Reagan’s war on America for so long now and any illusions that I ever had of getting ahead have now just become a certain desperation to hold onto what I do have and to keep from losing it all, a distinct possibility that could occur with a sudden job loss, accident or illness. There are millions of people just like me out there in America today at least in reference to demographics. Now with the country having been totally fucked up by nearly eight years of the insane and incompetent Bush regime and not much in the way of help on the way due to the thorough corruption of every institution in this land I am just trying to keep my head above water in what is increasingly becoming something similar to a third world country, a poverty ridden police state only with a much more ignorant and I mean willfully ignorant population.

I don’t have a good feeling on what is yet to come which is why I am blogging, it is a way to not only keep my sanity but to in my own little way rage against the machine. I am also a military veteran who finds both the ubiquitous and alarming worship of the military that is now present in our society very troubling and I am utterly nauseated at the cynical “support the troops” bullshit that is being practiced by both political parties in order to prolong the military industrial monster that has made death our number one export.

As for the blogging thing it really came about as an outlet for my anger, frustration and a general sense of powerlessness over the creeping fascism that was all being implemented by the extreme right wing Republican party using 9/11 as justification much like a cult like leader used the Reichstag fire in that certain European country back in the 20th century. Those were very scary times because the right had pretty much achieved full spectrum dominance in regards to the media, they were having organized rallies to destroy Dixie Chicks cds aat the time for God’s sake.

In the beginning right after 9/11 I was pretty much like most others in that I had bought into all of that bullshit hook, line and sinker. Slowly though I began to realize that something was terribly wrong, my sister turned me on to NPR which in our local area has Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now and some other great programs on it and it was at that point that my education into just how much of the real news was being turned into nothing more than propaganda to further the interests of a power mad extremist element that had manifested itself in the Republican party.

Those were very scary days, down here in Florida there were suddenly billboards everywhere with the face of George W. Bush emblazoned upon them, every SUV had one of those silly assed yellow ribbon “support the troops” magnets on it, any dissenting views were labeled as treasonous and it was very horrifying to someone like me who had only recently become aware that something was amiss. All the flying flags, the shrieking nationalism, the cheerleading for war were all like Weimar era Germany and I am far from the only one who has made that comparison, I recommend a great book that I picked up during the early period of my reeducation entitled Homeland by Dale Maharidge that goes into a lot of what was going on at the time. Now keep in mind that criticism of any of this was really a big taboo and it took Hurricane Katrina to finally pull back the curtain on the myth of George W. Bush as the great warrior in the flight suit with the big codpiece to the mentally troubled, petulant, incompetent naked emperor that he truly always had been.

The one thing that really pushed me over the edge though was that hideous period when the Republicans were using poor brain dead Terri Schiavo as a political football and everybody from the Christian fascists on the Religious right to the Catholic church to Tom DeLay, Karl Rove and George W. Bush were running amok to essentially rape this poor shell of a woman for their own vile political ends.

I had this little mini cassette tape recorder that I had purchased several years back and I just took it with me every morning to work and ranted into it on the way to and from my place of employment. I had like a 45 minute commute each and since I have satellite radio (I was going insane listening to the Clear Channel crap) I would put on CSPAN’s Washington Journal and you know kind of make my comments into that little tape recorder. It was my intention to do something of an experiment and then try to do some transcripts on it all after a month or so and kind of build upon them and get some stuff down in actual writing. Well after a month of the circus with Schiavo (which incidentally was going on not very far from where I live) and all of it I actually sat down with these like 25 or 30 hours of taped commentary and my raging at anything that came to my mind on the way to work. There was some pretty wild stuff on those tapes as you might imagine.

When I tried to transcribe that first tape I wound up with something like 20,000 words and I was off to the races – I had the basis for most of my first several months off of that tape alone and I have never even gotten to the rest of them. It was total insanity man because I had never done anything like that other than posting stuff on sports websites largely inspired by sardonic humor along the lines of the Jim Rome Show or now the great sports blog that takes no prisoners, Deadspin. So I started writing the political stuff and I started educating myself. I have read hundreds of books over the last five years that I never would have been inclined to read before and I have a pretty good idea of just how much that we as a society have been lied to about nearly everything. I think that really the transformation of the mainstream media into nothing more than a propaganda arm of the government, big business and the military industrial (and now surveillance) complex in many ways has backfired in that millions of people have now truly begun to educate themselves and if there is ever going to be a course correction for this country back into something resembling a free country it will be those people who will be instrumental in bringing it about.

As for the actual blogging somebody that I had met online in a discussion encouraged me to do it although I was a bit shy and lacked self confidence but I started Station Charon in the summer of 2005. I started slowly and over a period of time I gradually built up the confidence to post on other larger blogs and websites. I had a brief fling with the Daily Kos which ended badly because while it was one of the first new weapons in the info war it soon was seduced by a Democratic party that is if not as outwardly fascist as their Republican counterparts it is certainly corrupt and complicit in America’s fall from grace and my blogging has now become more critical of the system itself rather than any political party as you can see if you take a look.

I had a regular gig over on Taylor Marsh’s blog which is very popular with establishment Democrats and she was a great help in assisting me with developing my writing and confidence but after the betrayal of the Democratic majority in 2006 in ending the wars and holding the criminals in the Bush administration accountable it just didn’t feel right to be putting my voice behind a party that had failed so miserably and continues to do so for political purposes so I stopped posting there although I will always be grateful for the forum that she gave me, it’s just a matter of conscience to me to play political games when we need to stop fascism first and foremost or nothing else is going to matter. I pretty much confine myself to my own blog and My Left Wing which is a great place for all those who truly value free speech and a free exchange of ideas and at Rob Kall’s Op Ed News.

I feel that bloggers are really the pamphleteers and essayists of the modern era and were it not for the blogosphere we as a society would be in far worse trouble than we already are. The exiting thing though is the future and the coming realignment that transcends the traditional right/left paradigm and the two party sham democracy. There is going to be a peeling away of the antiwar base from the Democratic party and a merging of sorts with antiwar libertarians and paleoconservatives into a pro Constitution, non interventionist coalition that will shake the system to its very foundations. I honestly believe that and whoever is out there right now trying to push this is on the cutting edge.

Question: You bring up what I see as a very interesting an important topic in your comments on Daily Kos. When a lot of progressive blogs speak they refer to the progressive blogosphere (PB) as a unified force for good, but before your comments I have seen obvious splits and internal debate (often aimed at Kos). With that in mind, my next question is really 2 parts.

1) Do you see the PB as a social movement into itself? or is it just a publicity arm for a social movement?

Ed Encho: That is really a difficult question to answer because in my opinion it is both right now and it needs to move from public relations functions to a real results driven movement that can actually accomplish real social change. In the early days I thought that the PB was really scaring the hell out of the establishment because it leveled the playing field somewhat with the corporatists and their pocket media. The whole Howard Dean thing where he just blew the living shit out of everybody with his ability to raise money and appeal to a massive amount of support online served to send a serious message to the establishment which is exactly why he had to be destroyed by that farcical over sampled scream thing that was played 24/7 and still to this day is invoked by his enemies. You see in modern America assassinations are no longer done with bullets but through the media, it’s a lot more sophisticated and ultimately serves the purpose of propping up the system as there are no martyrs. Dean has always been an enemy of the status quo since he harnessed the power of the internet and the Clintonistas and the corporate hacks of the DLC are already sharpening their knives over the Florida and Michigan fiascos. He is certainly to be skinned alive and scapegoated for the whole sordid primary mess when it was actually the Clinton’s bagman Terry McAuliffe that had tried to frontload it all to favor Hillary Clinton. Dean has always been about reforming the system and he should receive more credit for the 2006 Democratic wins and I must say the margin would have been even larger were it not for Rahm Emanuel deliberately keeping funding from more progressive candidates. Dean’s is the scalp that will be taken when the time comes though which is a shame.

The internet model of organizing, activism and information gathering is already very successful though and you can see it in the large amount of individual donors that Barack Obama is receiving that has him in the heretofore unthinkable position of halting the Hillary Clinton express. This is a truly amazing thing because Obama is much better at using the blogosphere and internet than either the Clinton machine or the Republicans. The Ron Paul movement is also a great example of the raw power of the blogosphere and if it can stay together after Paul has been formally run out of the race there will be an immense and historical opportunity to siphon some of the ideas and energy. This is where progressives should really be looking because after the Vichy Democrats betraying the antiwar movement there is much common ground there that could create a synergy that could be the establishment’s worst nightmare if egos and differences can be set aside.

Regarding my comments on Daily Kos I can speak from personal experience that it is not exactly a forum where free speech is welcomed although it is often seized on by the lazy and unimaginative in the mainstream media as some sort of liberal cyber Mecca. It is however the most well known blog and has gotten to the point where prospective Democratic candidates feel that they must line up to kiss the ring of Markos-Moulitsas Zuniga but truthfully it is all a lot of hype. Sure Daily Kos is the biggest and most mentioned of the so-called progressive blogs but McDonalds is the largest restaurant chain in America it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for you to eat there.

First and foremost you have to realize that Daily Kos is about Kos himself and his ability to ingratiate himself with the establishment. Note that he has been frequently quoted in Howard Kurtz’s Media Notes column in the Washington Post and Kurtz is a notorious lackey for the status quo. He was instrumental in the destruction of Gary Webb who was the guy that wrote those stories for the San Jose Mercury News on the Dark Alliance and the Contra/CIA links to the explosion of crack cocaine into the Los Angeles area back in the 1990’s and any serious activist or progressive would know this and consort with the likes of Kurtz. You can do the research on the whole sordid tale of Gary Webb who ultimately ended up killing himself after his life was destroyed for what was a very accurate and hugely embarrassing story on how the intelligence apparatus in this country links up with the most reprehensible of types in carrying out their covert operations. That alone shows that Kos is not very principled and his work with Kurtz is far from the only thing that makes him a problematic figure in the progressive blogosphere. What it all comes down to is that you cannot really be an agent of real change if you are eager to be welcomed into the establishment and Mr. Markos Moulitsas-Zuniga has obviously found that crashing the gates is really not necessary to gain access to the master’s castle, it is just far easier in the end to have them install a doggy door. Kos doesn’t run an honest game and that is why you find so many bloggers who are critical of both him and his megablog.

When you do some research you will find a lot of negativity out there regarding Daily Kos which I feel is mainly attributable to the admins and hive mentality of the assorted sycophants who have been given free reign to police the forums, hide comments and to engage in some of the most vicious flaming that I have ever seen outside of the right-wing. It is really very juvenile and sophomoric and just plain mean spirited, total swarming, smearing, hiding of comments, troll ratings etc. I have personally been banned twice under completely different names and no longer bother even visiting, why drive up the hit count? Very important issues are totally taboo over there especially anything that questions the official story of 9/11, attempts to address the evidence that there was massive voter fraud in 2000 and 2004 that allowed the Republicans and George W. Bush to steal both elections and any sort of criticism of the actions of Israel that may tend to portray the Palestinians in a sympathetic light at the expense of millions of dollars spent by the Israel Lobby for public relations and perception management here in America.

But I digress….

I noticed the other day that Larry Johnson the outspoken former intelligence agent who is given a lot of play in the alternative media largely for the Valerie Plame outing ran afoul of the front pagers over at DK who labeled him a racist over some comments that he had made in a diary. Johnson of course has some clout and cred and didn’t take kindly to being treated like just another cyber schmuck by the smarmy little pricks at DK:

Okay Mr. Kos. Here’s a word for you: GO FUCK YOURSELF. (Actually, that’s three words. My bad.)

This wannabee poseur and his gang of Animal Farm pig imitators have lost touch with reality.

Well Markos and crowd. Orwell was right. Fuck you people. I won’t post and I won’t read. But most of all, I won’t apologize. I have nothing to apologize for other than making the false assumption that you clowns gave a shit about freedom of expression or liberty. You guys are John Bolton and Dick Cheney in drag. You are welcome to kiss my ass.

I found that rather amusing given my experiences there, the link to it all is on Brad Blog which is a site that I happen to like that is more interested in breaking news, focusing on election fraud and investigating mischief than in assimilating into the establishment.

Another internet based activist organization MoveOn was great when it came to organizing a counterforce to the right-wing think tank infrastructure but has since also become less of a change oriented organization outside of playing electoral politics. Now I belong to MoveOn and I just feel that in becoming less oriented on building local groups, real issues and the like has really damaged them and they are painted by the right-wing slime machine as though they are the second coming of Karl Marx when they really aren’t left at all but center left. The real left in this country was pretty much eradicated during the McCarthy years and the subsequent war on labor unions that really kicked into high gear with the Reagan administration after he fired the air traffic controllers. But not to wander too far from MoveOn I recently found out that they are part of this faux antiwar coalition that really exists for political reasons rather in stopping the flow of dead and mangled bodies that we import from Iraq cynically called Americans Against Escalation in Iraq that I first heard about through a Matt Taibbi piece in the latest Rolling Stone called The Chicken Doves and then in a response to a post I did last week from John Bruhns who actually worked with the group and wrote an op ed piece in the Philadelphia Daily News canned The anti-war phonies. Now to me this is morally repugnant that the Democrats play the same type of politics with this lousy war and it shows just how badly that the antiwar movement needs to break free from the politics as usual system altogether.

We also see just how much that antiwar messages from MoveOn really mean after the Vichy Congress shanked them in the back over the “General Betrayus” ad campaign by basically calling them out as traitors on the Senate floor back when “the surge” product rollout was in full swing. The surge has always been total bullshit and is nothing more than slick marketing but the Dems of the Pelosi,Reid,Hoyer triad allowed this to even come to a vote is unconscionable. This really shows that the blogosphere is really resented by the war party (Justin Raimondo’s term for the entire ruling political establishment) and while they are all too eager to harvest the votes are only going to do the usual and stab them in the back when it comes down to it.

And when you really think about the Democrats as an antiwar party, what sort of horseshit is that? Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson had the four bloodiest wars of the 20th century during their terms in office so it is really the system itself that needs to be changed and just changing management of the Washington whorehouse isn’t going to cut it. As Randolph Bourne once wrote “war is the health of the state” and if we are unable to control the war making powers of what is now rapidly becoming a police state by taking all of that money spent on munitions and spending it here at home were we really need it then we have a very, very bleak future. The necessary change is only going to come about by working to inform and work on changing perceptions of more people who are outside the party and who then can work to bring the rogue politicians to heel because they aren’t going to change just by being put into office, there has to be an external threat to their ability to exploit the system and stay there indefinitely.

Question: 2) How unified is the PB as a movement?

Ed Encho: Probably this was put best by Maryscott O’Connor of My Left Wing (where I am a regular contributor and a front pager) in a long article from Mother Jones magazine entitled Meet The New Bosses in which she talked about the “schism” in the blogosphere and that:

“I think that certain bloggers, the big ones, think politics is sexy,” she said. “They want in, and they’re getting in. They’ll do anything to get in, almost. They want a seat at the table. They want to be in the inner circle of the Democratic Party.”

Maryscott who is very talented and passionate and who respects free speech has also run afoul of Cyber Stalin and has been banned unceremoniously from Daily Kos for her outspoken posts and refusal to just fall in line with the other lemmings.

In my opinion the PB is much more impressive as a sum of its parts rather than as a whole and to a large degree has been subverted for political purposes rather than a force for real social and economic change. Take Daily Kos for example, at one time it was a legitimate counterforce against the right wing machine but has now been turned into a website that is all about electoral politics and landing the consulting gigs for the best shills in an upcoming Democratic administration and that is not where the change is going to come from. It is going to be the netroots working with on the ground grassroots forces that have no party loyalty but are loyal to American ideals and fresh ideas on how to once again become the proverbial shining city on the hill. Look at history with any large group that has been successful, it is infiltrated, key individuals are seduced with promises of more influence and perhaps positions as shills or consultants or in the worst case if they don’t play ball are destroyed from with, this is activism 101.

You need to look no farther than COINTELPRO to see the usefulness of this sort of thing to those who have power and influence and want to retain it. There has been in my opinion a good deal of this going on in the last few years with mainstream media forums, cocktail parties, television appearances etc but when you really think about the real results all that Daily Kos has done is make that duplicitous little rat Joe Lieberman far more powerful after the much touted support of tomato can Ned Lamont in 2006 went up like a flaming bag of dogshit when Lieberman ran as an independent and cleaned Ned’s clock. Another potential fiasco was the great idea to have Democrats vote for Mitt Romney in Michigan instead of throwing support behind someone like Dennis Kucinich or even John Edwards, this is not going to look very good if it plays any part in overturning the will of the voters and helping to throw the nomination to Clinton.

I feel that at one time there was a lot more unity especially in the earlier days but the territorial squabbles and pissing contests that are especially evident now with the split between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that has become so acrimonious regarding the Clinton diehards is causing more fragmentation into opposing camps. This is something that is going to have to just work itself out and it mirrors what is going on in society itself and the battle between the establishment and more progressive elements.

The wild card though is the Ron Paul movement because I have had some contact with these people and they are very energized, this would seem to be an unprecedented chance to unify in a broad based social movement that transcends the traditional left-right paradigm and with a rallying cause of restoring the Constitution after it was shredded by the Bush administration, ending the wars and holding the corporate and Wall Street looters accountable could unite millions in an organized movement with serious clout in that it is not a part of either of our dueling national political cults of the elephant and the jackass.

Now my disdain for electoral politics is obvious, the system as it currently exists has rotted and been corrupted to the point where nothing less than a total flushing of the toilet is going to be sufficient. This is a bipartisan thing because the money spigots from lobbyists, big pharma, defense contractors and now all those seeking to grab a ride on the global warming cash cow are the ones who really control this country. We sadly are a democracy in name only, we are really an oligarchy and an empire and one that if you pay attention to the real financial news is going broke very quickly.

It is really my hope that cooler heads in the progressive and antiwar movements can merge into a true social movement in the very near future and abandon electoral politics altogether. From many polls nearly three quarters of Americans are against this fucking war and no matter how much lipstick is slathered on the pig in the way of spin that ‘things are getting better’ removes it from the public consciousness the sad fact is that Iraq is still a charnel house and the empire is going bankrupt. Ending the illegal wars should be the top priority of all activists, bloggers and other Americans concerned about our future and the future of the coming generations because it must be stopped and the keys to the war machine need to be taken away from the two-party sham democracy and their pocket media kingmakers.

To Be Continued
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