Some important articles. Mirrors in which we can see America.

Summary:  Every society has rationality tokens.  Some have many; some few.  In some they are held by people who become leaders of their society; in some they’re held by outcasts.  As a nation evolves, its rationality tokens pass into new hands.  Here we look at America, seeking to find their new holders.

A model American

The disk was made of an undistinguished alloy of common metals, a gray monotone. It looked like a Boston subway token, save for two words inlaid in silver. The words “Rationality Token” flashed against the dull metal background.

{Nathan explained …} “Years ago, a friend of mine noticed an odd thing about meetings with groups of bureaucrats.  Only one bureaucrat in the room would have something rational and intelligent to say about the question under discussion; the rest would answer either with a magician’s verbal handwaving, with statements that were internally inconsistent, or with statements that had no apparent connection to the topic.

“Oddly, for each question, a different bureaucrat gave the rational response. It seemed as though a law of nature prevented more than one bureaucrat from being rational at a time. And you could never predict which bureaucrat could answer a particular question rationally.  My friend developed a theory:  a roomful of bureaucrats shares a single rationality token. Only the one holding the token can act intelligently. The bureaucrats pass the token around secretly during the meeting.”

— from Marc Stiegler’s David’s Sling (1988) — free e-book  here

The bad news

We can easily ignore the rapid decay of the American polity, as it will affect most people only when too late for reform.  The media make this easier by distracting us with accounts of political class’ gibbering and capering, while in the shadows our leaders erase away our civil liberties.  The news media do this because we prefer not to know.  We cover our eyes to avoid seeing what we have become.

The good news

How our rulers see us. Art by Matt Truiano

The good news:  as the news media decays into irrelevance, the rationality token passes to new sources of information and insight.  Such as Reason magazine, Tom Engelhardt’s TomDispatch, and Glenn Greenwald’s column at Salon.  These become the key places to look for those who seek to understand the new era now evolving.  Lately Greenwald and his guest authors have been especially hot, showing us the face of the new America now under construction.  Our legacy to our children.

  • The real criminals in the Tarek Mehanna case“, Glenn Greenwald, 13 April 2012 — The government attacks a remaining scrap from the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech.  It must go to make them more secure from us.
  • Making politicians look bad: ‘A fireable offense’ “, Charles Davis (journalist, see his website), 13 April 2012 — An expose about the workings of our court stenographers (pretending to be journalists), and their jealousy of actual journalists.
  • Drone activist denied visa“, Murtaza Hussain (Toronto-based writer; see his website), 13 April 2012 — The government defends our borders to keep out anti-government views.  The truth wants to be free, but not if President Obama and his officials have their way.
  • Feds ready whistleblower trial“, Jesselyn Radack (director of the Government Accountability Project; author of TRAITOR), 13 April 2012 — President Obama fulfills his promise to change the government, inflicting the full weight of government power on those who dare tell Americans the truth about its deeds — going to extremes that would have embarrassed Nixon.
  • Personalizing civil liberties abuses“, Glenn Greenwald, 16 April 2012 — The human face of our “justice” system’s abuses.
  • Attacks on RT and Assange reveal much about the critics“, Glenn Greenwald, 18 April 2012 — Our cout stenographers mock Assange, his new TV news show, and the new media that broadcast it.  In doing so they demonstrate their decayed condition, their role as servile courtiers for our ruling elites, and the necessity of using these new sources.

A warning from the past about Mother Nature’s harsh justice

“Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
— Joseph de Maistre, from letter 76 dated 27 August 1811, published in Lettres et Opuscules

For more information:  posts about new news media

  1. A guide to sources of geopolitical insight on the Internet, 6 December 2008
  2. The future, always in motion and therefore difficult to see, 18 March 2009 — About Clay Shirkey’s analysis.
  3. A new news media emerges for our new world, unseen and unexpected, 9 July 2009
  4. The Raymond Davis incident shows that we’re often ignorant because we rely on the US news media. There is a solution., 18 February 2011

9 thoughts on “Some important articles. Mirrors in which we can see America.”

  1. The problem remains, dear FM, of exactly HOW to persuade more people than those already enrolled in the choir that the preacher has a message of far reaching relevance.For example, I already listen to the preacher, but after all, if my persuasive arguments do not stimulate others to listen and react, then I am again reduced to the single vote I have always had. What’s a body to do, other than to hope? However, as St Paul says, “If in this life, we have only hope . . . we are of all men most miserable.”

    1. Yes, that is the question. Or part of the larger question: how to arouse America.

      Perhaps only bad news will do so. Military defeat or economic decline. Yet neither of those seems likely, IMO. No other power plays the military game, except defensively. And the US economy remains vital if mismanaged; simple reforms after the election to our tax and health care system could produce powerful results.

  2. “….how to arouse America.”

    AMERICA is aroused. It is doing exactly what it has wanted to do and has done for many, many years. It is not doing what you think it should do….and so what? Even a near fatal meltdown of the entire Fin System in 2008 could not stop America from full ahead consumption and war mongering. Fraud, corruption, decay in many parts of the physical infrastructure, Rogue Soldiers featured on nightly news, faux Reform in their Presidency, Med System run amok by any numerical measure…..nothing stops America.

    And you think that is not arousal of the deepest type? And you think this Country will stop doing exactly what it is now doing? There is delusion here but one wonders who are the delusional ones. A small minority of delusionals but still a ….you might consider giving it up and joining the March Forward as the majority of your fellow citizens are on.

    Just an idea.


    1. Well, food for thought . . . but, the sedative of a slight economic recovery has taken the edge off the arousal. As long as people can afford the latest iToys, Mac Books, trips to McDonald’s and gas for their SUVs and big-ass pickup trucks, that’s sedative enough to go back to their routinely self-absorbed lives. With a society as completely self-centered as ours, the opiates are so much more important than improvement of the general welfare.

      Face it; even the tea-baggers all shout slogand havin to do with only their own personal well-being without giving a rat’s ass about the good of society at large. “NO SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, but keep your hands off my MEDICARE,” indeed! What ignorance!

      The MAJORITY of WHICH citizens? Sorry, I don’t buy that bridge. Find another sucker. I may have been born at night, but not LAST night!

  3. Well I have to give Russia Today credit — Assange from his house arrest interviewing Nasralla. is a combination designed to maximally piss off err, the usual suspects, and the credits at the end all being blacked out. It is done with a tiny bit of humor. Assange isn’t a natural interviewer, I think, though the conditions of dealing with the simultaneous interpreters makes having a natural conversation difficult. I think he might grow into the job.

  4. I’m sure you are right and I love the idea of the token.Except that what seems rational to people planning for the future , may not be the same as rational judged by those looking back with hindsight.Also , what appears irrational to an outsider , may be rational to someone with expert knowledge.
    Also , there are problems with internet discussions such as this: links are to sites of a similar viewpoint , and dissenters are moderated or ridiculed out.

  5. ‘Front Groups, Not Issues!’ Yes, the 99% Spring is a Fraud“, by CHARLES M. YOUNG, CounterPunch, 13-15 April 2012

    This article is kind of an interesting data-point on something called the ‘99% Spring’ I think this hints at the current state of political organization among the big-D Democrats these days.

    The first clue that my evening might go otherwise was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale and one sign-up sheet for the oddly named Community Free Democrats (are they free of community?), which is the local Democratic clubhouse. That killed the “inspired by Occupy Wall Street” vibe right there. No piles of literature from a zillion different groups, as there had been in Zuccotti Park. No animated arguments among Marxists, anarchists, progressives, punks, engaged Buddhists, anti-war libertarians and what have you. Just Obama buttons, which didn’t appear to be selling..

    So no diversity of ideas here. It’s a political party.

    “What about May 1?” said a retired professor.
    “What about it?” said Landis.
    “I heard that Occupy Wall Street was calling for a general strike. They’re planning actions all around midtown and they’re saying that nobody should go to work that day.”
    “I don’t know anything about that,” said Landis. “We’re talking about hypothetical situations here.”

    It’s like this strange kind of discussion that claims to support some sort of protest, but then, no, apparently only hypothetical action is allowed to be discussed. It all sounds so boring and utterly tone-deaf. No ideas outside of the supposed mainstream are discussed — and no actual action can actually be planned. Only some kind of weird indirect discussion of one might be able to do, if only…. What a joke.

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