Liberty, Anarchy & The Digital Age


About a year ago I was at the house of my friend David Fanning on the Massachusetts coast when a call came in that messed up our weekend plans. David has been the Executive Producer of PBS’s flagship show Frontline for 25 years. He has fearlessly told truth to power, despite all the possible reverberations in Congress or elsewhere and the fragile funding of PBS. The call came from his webmaster who said that the whole Frontline website had been destroyed by a hacker collective called Lulzsec. Lulzsec and their leader, Sabu had been outraged by a frontline documentary on Julian Assange and had vowed revenge. I had seen the show and found it to be very evenhanded, but Sabu and his friends objected to a passage in which Julian Assange’s tactics were questioned. When Assange first gave the raw intelligence cables from the State Department, all of the names of the local informants in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere were in the docs. The editors of the Guardian and the New York Times insisted on redacting the names of the local informants so they wouldn’t be killed for helping the Americans. Assange insisted the names stay in and started dumping the raw files out on Wikileaks. That anyone should even question Assange was too much for Lulzsec and so they waged cyberwar on Frontline. They didn’t just bring down the website, they destroyed it and all the archives. It took David Fanning weeks and a lot of money to restore the site.

So now we know who Sabu, the leader of Lulzsec, was–“Hector Xavier Monsegur, hacker, informant and party boy of the projects”.  Like another digital wizard who thought he was above the law, Kim Dotcom, Sabu is a criminal cloaking himself in the rhetoric of liberty.

On Twitter, both before and after he was helping the authorities catch his compatriots, he was prone to grand declarations: “Give us liberty or give us death — and there’s billions of us around the world. You can’t stop us. Because without us you won’t exist.”

Words like liberty and censorship are the cheap currency of the digital age. Politicians use them indiscriminately. But it is in the area of “Free Culture” that words like liberty really get misused. In deciding to destroy Frontline, Hector Monsegur and his Lulzsec buds were judge, jury and executioner. In deciding that he could make $400 million by selling advertising on Megaupload, which was populated with millions of pieces of stolen digital content, Kim Dotcom believes he is above the law.

Kim doesn’t give a damn about the thousands of musicians and filmmakers he is cheating while he sails around the world on his yacht. Where are the musicians yachts?

The second bit of hypocrisy floating around is the use of the word “censorship”. In the SOPA debate both Google and Wikepedia used that word in a massive disinformation campaign to defeat an admittedly flawed bill. I had students actually say that if SOPA passed they would no longer have access to Wikipedia. What nonsense. But Google is even more hypocritical. Last summer Google settled with the Federal government.

Google has agreed to a $500 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice for illegally allowing online Canadian pharmacies to advertise drugs to U.S. consumers.

The settlement, which represents the revenue received by Google for selling the ads through its AdWords program and the estimated revenue the Canadian pharmacies got from their sales to U.S. consumers, was one of the largest ever in the United States, according to the DOJ.

So if Google made $500 million off of counterfeit drug advertising, how much money are they making off of pirated entertainment advertising? Google the words” Free Movies” and see what comes up on the top of the list? This site filled with movies that aren’t even out of the theaters. So maybe Google should be a bit more honest. This is not about censorship, this is about money. Just like they agreed to stop linking to Canadian counterfeit drug sites, they could stop linking to pirate content sites.

There is a certain strain of libertarian that frequent this blog, who describe themselves as “anarcho-capitalists”. But I think what is really going on is a strain which Wikipedia defines as “Individualist Anarchism” whose main tenet is, “the concentration on the individual and his/her will in preference to any construction such as morality, ideology, social custom, religion, metaphysics, ideas or the will of others.” Personally a world governed by these ideas is a dystopian nightmare to me.Liberty without responsibility will be the death of our democracy. I know those on the left that defend Anonymous and LulzSec because they are going “after the bad guys” like the government of Tunisia. But who gets to decide who “the bad guys” are? Just imagine if Timothy McVeigh had built a hacker collective built around his neo-Nazi philosophy. Imagine if they had decided to crash the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System or the California electric grid. And in the same way, those on the right and the left defend their right to free entertainment. What’s next? Free food?

We decided in the mid 1980’s that the U.S. would be an information economy. And today the only things (aside from war machines) the rest of the world wants to buy from us are information goods–movies, music, video games, software, pharmaceutical patents. And then at the end of the 1990’s digital utopians like Wired’s Chris Anderson decided that all information should be free. That the only things we export should be given away for free is the kind of suicidal philosophy that only an anarchist could have dreamed up.

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30 Responses to Liberty, Anarchy & The Digital Age

  1. RYP says:

    As an author, artist and photographer I fully understand the impact of removing a personal work of art and then casting it without context, income or attribution into the internet swamp. Artists should decide how, where and when their music, art, paintings etc should be seen, used or sold (or given away).

    But even if you aren’t an “artist” and just a corporation or person who sees their private, financial, personal or sensitive data published in an massive list it is a violation. I resent the un permissioned gathering by government/private institutions on innocent individuals but I also find the vandalism of trusted repositories of information equally evil.

    Aren’t hackers stealing our personal property and then reducing it’s value? Removing one’s right to ownership and self determination. And isn’t the removal of possessions, observation of movement and destruction of privacy the very first step in enslaving someone?

    Don’t you hate it when people ask rhetorical questions?

    Hacker’s are arrogant, socially dysfunctional thieves masquerading as socially hip liberators and rebels. Their positioning as being against ‘big brother” and for freedom is a sham. And yes…all my passwords are 256 characters long ;)))

  2. Michael Rose says:

    Thank you for posting this. As a rights holder I’ve felt the sting of digital piracy and have been told by indignant users of my content that I should give it to them for free. Of course, some are generous enough to offer to give me a credit. After being confronted, some go ahead and steal it and some don’t. But I don’t want to spend my time roaming the web to see who’s stealing my work. I want to use that time to make new work. I believe there is a need for Fair Use but “Fair” also entails paying the creators. Piracy is not a romantic show of support for the underdog it’s criminal, threatens the ability of the creative community to produce new work and make a living from their existing work and, as you point out, in the case of Assange put people’s lives at risk.

  3. len says:

    As soon as I posted the Xtranormal video, Wikileaks Ain’t Cool, which for me was more an exercise with the software (how well can it do rhythmic script), I began to receive Anonymous hate mail. It is still coming but since the video got very little attention (wasn’t intended to), it is in dribs and drabs now.

    On the one hand I support Anonymous and their work with the Occupy movement which I consider healthy and required. On the other hand, the vandalism, threats and irresponsible behavior are unacceptable. We are not above the law even if we must challenge it.

    I’m caught in the middle. My loyalties are with the artists yet I cannot support an ISP performance fee at this time. The details have always been too sketchy and seem to only reward the same people who’s domination of the entertainment and media industry have also produced unacceptable conditions for both artists and their fans. I do not see this as changing soon and that is a sad comment.

    “Liberty without responsibility will be the death of our democracy.”

    Democracy without open and fair negotiation isn’t democratic.

    OTW, well said and good luck.

  4. Rick Turner says:

    I’m damned glad that I make physical products. Yes, they can be copied, forged, etc., but not like music, literature, art, videos or films. So far, knockoffs of my work haven’t particularly hurt me, though I’d love to have a nickel for all the Alembic-inspired basses and guitars that are out there based on my work from the early 1970s. Then again, I’m not Chris Martin or the folks at Fender…

  5. Fentex says:

    If it’s so profitable for Kim Dotcom to run MegaUpload, and raise some $400 Million from bootleg copies of studio products at the same time studios remain profitable, why aren’t studios running their own MegaUploads to take his increase their own income?

    By the way as you complain about Lulzsec being judge, jury and executioner the U.S DOJ has been the same to Kim Dotcom – on accusation his business has been shut down and destroyed ahead of trial and sentencing. Whether he deserves that or not is beside the point of it’s happening, for who shall it happen to next?

    I’d be annoyed too if someone rode on my back to profit from my work but I think I’d work harder to wrestle the carpet from under their feet rather than demand authority protect past practices and cram genies back in bottles.

    The best way to stop people like Kim Dotcom from succeeding is to provide a better service.

    A couple of years ago the owner of a sporting franchise (Cricket I think) in India discovered knock offs of his team shirts undercutting his premium product and responded by producing a cheap line to complement his premium line – after all the counterfeiters had done considerable market research for him demonstrating the price point for quality of a section of the market that he could capitalise on.

    The ability to informally share content is only going to get easier as peer to peer technology improves in quality, security and speed (through dropping bandwidth prices) and if businesses want to avoid being impoverished by being cut out of it they need to build market places rather that forts.

  6. JTMcPhee says:

    JT- Were the Google ads for “counterfeit drugs,” or just inexpensive ways for the poorer among us to get needed meds via some other route than the Ripoff Express called Big Pharma-Big Pharmacies? I don’t know, but it seems to me that accuracy counts in that realm.

    I also might ask exactly WHO decided, in the 1980s, that the US would henceforth be an “information economy?” Was there an election I missed? It’s worked good for you, I guess, but surely not for a huge number of the rest of us. All that now is, all the stuff you complain about here, is inherent in the systems and software and wetware.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if “hacking,” or whatever you want to call it any more, were somehow elevated to a high callling, where the participants in Grouphack like Anonymous hewed to an ethic that was morally clean enough to only do what the various parts of your personal immune system do to police up and recycle the cancerous cells your body is producing, every minute of every day? A recent note on another blog was about “censorship” of the Internet across the planet. Many commenters said they would be happy to have censorship of pedophilic and snuff porn, and several other items that would never be on my personal list of digital pathogens. Never mind where that leads, of course– China comes to mind… What’s cancer, and what’s “healthy-mutation market force innovation and correction?”

    It’s not like the Hackparticipants don’t have models, the superheroes in the comic books and “graphic novels” that I bet most of them read, although even those models are being re-cast (for profit, on the race to the moral bottom) with some pretty dark, demonic and destructive faces. Since traditional sources of moral and ethical instruction are showing a thick impasto of hypocrisy laid on by the Smart-asses (see “Catholic Priestiarary Bestiary,” e.g.), maybe they could focus on Hellboy and Wonder Woman as their ideals? And somehow figure out how to keep any of their number from doing what happens when the immune system gets out of kilter, the stuff you compolain about here, the digital analogue of all those “auto-immune” horrors like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis and asthma and Type I diabetes and leukocytic leukemia?

    So sorry that the enormous mutual vulnerabilities that we have created for ourselves (any idea how many gene-sequencing and protein-assembling devices are floating around in bio-space, where “scientists” do really cool stuff like resurrect the 1917 influenza virus “just because we can?”) in the name of “innovation” and “profit” and “power,” are letting a few (from hackers to petro-speculators to the whole effing MIC) steal wealth, in so many ways, and safety, and security, and peace of mind, from the rest of us.

    The culture trains and arms these folks. Just like it trains and arms the men, and proud young women, who loose the Hellfires and kick in doors and shoot whole families in Kandahar and Kumar, or kill with sniper rifles from a mile away, consequence-free, in a totally misrepresented and futile “field exercise,” when it’s some “non-combatant soft target Oopsie” whose head is blown into the satisfying “pink mist.”

    You have to wonder if there’s some “innovative” way to instill a soupcon of the old Golden Rule to go with the adolescent, tribal batshit… But of course guys like Ted Haggard or Rush “The Viagra wasn’t mine” Limbaugh would be happy to hijack that training, adding code that says it’s OK for them to do little boys or male escorts, but nobody else.

    Who puts the evil in those minds?

  7. len says:

    Information? Sure. Weapons? Most definitely. Cars? You bet. Lots of stuff. BTW, there is an interesting article at the Harvard Business School where some professors assert we’d do better investing in service jobs but I don’t accept the premise that a job is a job is a job if all you look at is pay scales. Manufacturing has a much stronger emergent capacity thatn services. The notion is we are simply looking at tradable jobs in manufacturing, that is they can be done anywhere by anyone so focus on trades such as being an auto mechanic given it isn’t a tradable position (it is always local). Service jobs are not emergence engines non-tradable or not. That sort of thinking is the ol scary “but I can be laid off so I better stick to working at McDonalds’ notion.

    America can keep beating itself up but it’s only slowing us down from getting work done. When you look at it squarely, this is still the place to be. For the most part, there aren’t long lines of cars at the border trying to escape.

  8. len says:

    Who puts the evil in those minds?

    Habitual offenders with unlimited power who consistently get away with it because no one is brave or foolhardy enough to challenge them. Once upon a time, this was the feeling of many of the wealthy elite in the American colonies whose financial interests coincided with the crown of England. Until King George levied one too many taxes.

    We don’t have anyone to vote for in the upcoming presidential election. Washington DC has declared war on the American people whom they consider their subjects and to whom they are willing to do anything legal or illegal to maintain their power elite relationships.

    We’re headed for a civil war, JTMc. I don’t think it will be our generation who starts it but it will start. I’m not sure we are even important to these events any more.

  9. JTMcPhee says:


    I can just imagine the sense of release, and relief, that must fill the spirits of many of the people of Tahrir Square and now in Syria and Bahrain and (building) in Iran, that same wildness and sense of severing the idiot bonds that they’ve held to as the roots and sinews of their world. The same sense that I read about among many in the French Revolution, and among the Roundheads and maybe Sam Adams and friends. Akin to the sea change written so well by Tom Wolfe as his Sherman McCoy passes over from restrained Master of the Universe to blooded street brawler.

    Too bad the MFers who intentionally and casually and self-justifyingly crush and bleed the rest of us to the point of Ragnarok will do like so many of the Bourbons and Nazis and Robber Barons, retreat behind their vast wealth and the walls that their “people,” people too much Just Like Us, are so willing to take stolen money to erect and maintain.

    Am I missing something, or has JT kind of left off the “Interregnum” theme of late? It’s an uncomfortable one for anyone who has not laid out their lines of retreat, and is still dependent on or attached to bits of the Ancien Regime. Particularly the speculations about what happens when the Interregnum is over and Regime Change gets seriously, deliriously under way, as well as the very human desire to maximize personal pleasure and security via greed and group adherence, which kind of stands in the way of helping orchestrate gentle transitions…

    On the other hand, Worgon’s Really Smart Young People, with apparently zero sense of species loyalty or any kind of long view or critical faculty, are busy Preparing The Way for the REAL Rapture:

    And isn’t this so totally, OhMyGod, swag? Imagine adding the consciousness of an Africanized bee to each critter in the Swarm? and you know that a Queen Bee is in the works, to take the squishy Creators out of the loop…

    What’s the most common phrase in the Netlanguage? LOL, ROFL, or OMG? What fu##ing God are all those people ejaculating about, referring to, invoking, apologizing to, or what-everrrr, and why?

  10. len says:

    The problem is devolution can be more likely than evolution, JTMc, so the Interregnum theme does have that aspect where we may be pygmies, not giants on the other side. Rachel Maddow’s piece on America turning off lights and depaving (yes, depaving) roads illuminates the path to being a third world country. It mystifies me because I still assert America is the place to be. An interregnum that leaves us trodding dirt roads in the dark while our Chinese landlords seize our watermelon patch for themselves doesn’t seem like a chasm I want to cross.

    Technology has been scaring me since the mid-eighties when I realized what the web would do to us when it was finally built. Undifferentiated messaging systems (no filters, loose as a goose) are not the Wild Wild Weird as the YEEEHAW WE GOTS FREE MUSIC AND ALL THEM LOOSE LOOSE WOMEN, but more like being in the eye of the perfect storm. Keep your nose into the wave and an unbreakable grip on a life preserver. That said, you already know how much I worry about IP these days. I feel the pain of those who have a stash of IP, but really, they have to make deals and they already are, so, stop the bitching and get to learning what you need to do business.

    It’s depressing but that I think the America Is Over Oh Woe Is Us is not the reality. Our problem is not our awareness; it’s our endurance for what we have to get done. Awakenings are seldom heralded. One day you are asleep; then with the rapidity of a digital switch, it flips. That’s the Pachinko Effect. Not to be local here, but the weight has to hit the right distribution first, so, to quote a semi-famous songwriter, “take a load off Annie.” 😉

    Treatment week next week, Usual apologies. I’m in good shape but tired. Working for the Beastie Boys and Girls has hostile conditions and tangible losses. OTOH, a job, but likely not much longer. They figured out I’m a Hippie. :)

  11. Alex Bowles says:

    I’m not so sure about that, Len. A civil war takes place when two sides with irreconcilable differences occupy the same territory. Watching the dead-enders in the GOP pushing their “Keep ’em barefoot and pregnant in 2012” platform, I feel like I’m watching Captain Queeg looking for the lost key to his authority.

    In anything, a plurality of Americans are deciding that the right’s party line is not a suitable basis for national politics, and that overriding opposition to birth control *and* abortion is a sign of insanity, not integrity. Once the GOP stops catering exclusively to those voters who feel otherwise (which a landslide loss would almost guarantee) this rabid minority will lose their one firm hold on the life of the country. Idiocy stripped of utility will quickly deflate itself. No civil war needed.

    Once the GOP’s base has been politically marginalized – a fate that seems inevitable at the rate they’re going – attention can turn, in earnest, to wrestling back control of Congress. This fight is closer to that fought by a national resistance confronted by an occupying power, not a rehash of something about which the country is deeply divided.

    Here, things are shakier for those in power than they may seem. People distracted by partisan asshattery are unlikely to focus attention where it belongs. But with the Republican half of the charade quickly burning itself out, I think it’s going to be very difficult to block unified demands for good governance, or to confuse people about exactly what that entails.

    It may just be wishful thinking on my part, but I really see a major shift underway. To my mind, “heroic” pirates and swarms of anarcho-libertarians are the shallow byproducts of this deep and rapid evolution. Yes, I see them as a problem, but as one that will take care of itself in due time. As markets loose political support for the zero-sum tyranny of competitive rent-seeking, and adapt themselves to a framework that favors cooperative autonomy, I suspect we’ll see a welcome cultural development; one in which ‘principled’ defiance of The (much reduced) Man, will be recognized – and pitied – as a self-defeating avoidance of everyday reciprocity.

  12. Fentex says:

    Another thing about this post – it conflates vandals with theives. That groupos likes Lulzsec and Anonymous exist and vandalise assets (or if you’ve of a mind to agree with them – protest) is not the same issue as commerical infringement of legal rights.

    They differ as rioting in the streets differs from burglary, as reactions to each should also differ.

    SOPA, ACTA and probably the TPPP are hamfisted efforts to lock down all of the Internet under the control of corporate interests (for it is corporate bodies who will leverage the included mechanisms most often and ruthlessly) to restrain deviation from a norm they wish imposed.

    As it is not their ambition to support disruption of their own business it is not the intention of these laws to make online businesses safe from the likes of Lulzsec but to make them vulnerable to the likes of the MPAA.

    And it would include censorship, just as now the DMCA is used to censor ( is a reference on that).

    I don’t believe free and easy distribution kills markets and destroys opportunity for producers – I think it expands markets and creates opportunity. I think it over-turns existing organisation and economic heirarchies and dislocates extant investments and that will hurt some and deserving has nothing to do with it.

  13. JTMcPhee says:

    “De-paving,” and banksters knocking down houses-that-used-to-be-homes because they have greeded up the works and don’t want to pay to maintain and do not have enough of a conscience or long wisdom to maybe homestead them to people or other non-DebtObligationWeOwnYou acts. Scottish bankers have imbibed Calvin deeply.

    Books, books: Two current favorites are “Debt: the first 5,000 Years,”, and “War of the World,” Niall Ferguson, (which is “about” a lot more than racism.) Lots of clues and links and stuff, to what’s what and who’s really who and what “humanity” consists of. And in searching for sources, Google took me to eBookee, and the first item in the list that the search “war of the world” produced was “101 Ways Youth Can Change The World.” Another manifestation of string theory?

  14. JTMcPhee says:

    Prayers and blessings.

  15. len says:

    Thanks JTMc. Just another benydryl holodaze.

    Alex, I don’t disagree. That’s what I mean by the pachinko effect. It simply flips itself. But don’t be too sure about how far the forces of ignorance, what this really is, the dumb as rocks with loud voices former possessors of the geistKey. Why? They’ve become boring. Where once they were season opener villains, now they are subplot wherever guns and carnage are required. We may coming up on more car chases but otherwise, I hope we we will see dialog a bit better than the gamers turned movie makers give us in their cartoon movies with meat avatars. I’m old. I don’t need hundreds of digital watts in the walls melting my remaining dendrites where they fall out and lay next to the dentures of my companions.

    The victory goes to the species that best exploits the low rent resources. The satisfaction goes to the species that learns to overcome adversaries not by confronting them in combat but by modifying the environment around such that they must evolve or pass away.

    I agree, Fentex. Sad but so. However, those that do own IP will continue to aggressively defend their legal rights. Over time there will be a shift away from the current rent model but not overnight. Too much authority and financial clout has to change hands first. It already has in the case of say iTunes and Megauploads. One makes deals; the other steals. That’s the difference.

  16. Jon Taplin says:

    I must say I agree with Alex that we won’t have a civil war. When we wake up on Nov 7th, the country will realize that the whole Tea Party movement was just a Hula Hoop moment. The Glenn Beck craziness will look like Father Coughlin or other nativist movements that have come and gone. The Republicans could splinter into two parties–a Palinista wing for the guns and god crowd and a Romney wing for the One Percenters. Neither will be effective.

  17. len says:

    The issues leading toward a civil war are not part and parcel, a Tea Party issue nor of the right altogether. It is the combination of all of the movements with the nitroglycerin of laws being passed with remarkable rapidity and mute acquiescence by the media that have removed American Civil Rights. You do remember civil rights, Jon? Sort of a cause once upon a time.

    A scary thing is to examine the state laws with regards to worker rights in places like Alabama (virtually none). The erosion of the unions in combination with the fear-inspired laws being passed mean that on November 7th, they may wake up with fewer voices and much heavier chains.

    On the other hand, have you noticed the strange pronouncements coming from religious leaders such as Pat Robertson on legalization of marijuana and Newt Gingrich on getting our troops out of Afghanistan? A sudden pivot by the right on some of these issues with a long election campaign summer ahead could be a real game changer. So far I see nothing that will change the outcome: Obama will be reelected. Yet so far I see that that will change much given the relentlessness of Congress in passing such laws and his approval. The unviable wealth gap continues unbroken. Tell me what exactly has changed about any of that.

    The people don’t have a candidate. I write this even as the robo-calls have destroyed another weekend’s rest and the wall to wall super pac commercials are destroying the morning. Tomorrow, the Southern Strategy gets a significant boost or loss.

    As to the economy, I tend to agree with Clint Eastwood. We are digging out as we always have. That’s the good news. It isn’t emanating from the Beltway. It is us.

  18. len says:

    s/that will change much/that will change little

    Too early for eyes to work. Apologies.

  19. Roman says:


    “The people don’t have a candidate.”

    Too true, for both sides. It’s a game involving false choices and false outcomes.

    “So far I see nothing that will change the outcome: Obama will be reelected.”

    Agreed. But, it’s not that ‘Obama will be re-elected’, it’s that he won’t be defeated (important editing footnote: note the use of ‘won’t’ and not ‘can’t’ – big difference).

  20. len says:

    The challenge is the Big Cos are very big, international and have no commitment to American well-being. An Apple exec was quoted and requoted in Time as saying Apple is not responsible for fixing America. I wonder what an ad on the billboards of NY with a kid being dragged out of the park clutching his iPad would say about that. If the darlings of the InnovationFixesAll crowd can be that callous while enjoying obscene cash flow, it is obvious the solutions are not to be found among the roundEdgePeople. In effect, they are a new elite with even fewer scruples than the last boss. So sad.

    As for the Tea Partiers, again, let the dum dums die. When cultural shifts this dramatic are happening, certain species go into decline. Alex is right that they will decline just as the John Birchers did back in the day, but they don’t go away. They recede like a malignant cancer that comes back at intervals. Yet we live in a culture where a political party has declared war on a gender (profoundly stupid move; women won’t forget and while they may not say much, they will vote), and the companies that benefit the most from our trade laws and force of arms (jon will hate this but fighting the MIC is also saying to the Chinese that they can thumb their noses at our IP laws and they do) are blithely letting their 2 trillion cool heels in banks while their purchasing market deflates.

    A poster that got my attention as quoted in Time: “If votes changed anything, voting would be illegal”. Don’t look to the government to fix anything anytime soon. We’re on our own.

  21. Roman says:


    This landed in my in-box over the weekend:

    It’s the ‘Kony’ video, supposedly the fastest spreading internet video of all time. Pardon me if it’s already been discussed here, I haven’t been visiting with any regularity lately.

    Although I think it’s writer/producer would concur with your sentiment, “Don’t look to the government to fix anything anytime soon. We’re on our own.”, he tells a remarkable story of exacting justice on a war crimes criminal, half-way around the world, by harnessing the incredible power of modern communication technology. The resulting multi-national voice actually compelled the US government to commit @ 100 ‘military advisers’ to Uganda in 2011.

    What if the ‘Tea Party’, ‘OWS’ or a small, thinly capitalized campaign like Ron Paul’s used a similar platform and tactics? It does make you wonder, given what’s already known, why it isn’t already in play in US politics today? Wait, come to think of it, this does eerily resemble our contemporary MSM; arbiters of meme, nuance, mood and action (or in-action).

    Seriously, it does make you wonder (shudder) what the next presidential election cycle will be like when all competing actors exploit this same platform and tactics. Talk about NOISE and sleepless nights…

  22. len says:

    I follow that and think it wonderful. I wonder if like so many times of cause du jour (not that it isn’t important; the situation is evil), any of the grassroots movements can be sustained unless they couple to power capable of actually changing what is on the ground. The web is a successful megaphone. It and the right message draw a crowd. Keeping them much less directing them is very hard work. Sustainability matters.

    Still, because of the speed with which evil can be recognized and exposed now, evil has to soend a lot more resources trying to hide their deeds. And such expenditures of energy make their cloaking shields flicker. So the artists shaping events are timed to hit the right targets. Be Fair Witnesses. That works best. Be brilliant artists. That lasts longer.

    In the raging debate over should a President consult his religious beliefs when making a decision, this remains: some decisions will be all things equal. Then a President has to pick the value critical to the decision. Instinct. Heart. If their religiion shapes their heart, pray that it is a good heart.

  23. len says:

    It is assumed President Obama can take Rick Santorum in a debate. My guess is he can. It may not matter. Santorum is tapping into THE demographic. America is a White Christian dominant society by numbers. And because the left and the militant atheists have been attacking this demographic hard, they have effectively reinforced their group identity as few other approaches could have. Ripe for the pickin’

    Eat a peach.

  24. Roman says:


    I shake my head every time someone mentions “the debate(s)”. It seems everyone is spoiling for them, regardless of their affiliation. But given the cast of shallow characters, false arguments/choices, etc., they’ll be meaningless beyond the MSM induced drama. Minds will be made up well ahead of time.

    Obama wins in a walk. Not because of who he is, his accomplishments, vision etc., and certainly not because of his political prowess (so much for the ‘once in a generation’ meme).

    No, an honest election post-mortem will attribute his victory to the Rep’s insistence on sitting this one out. Romney? Santorum? Gingrich? Cain? That’s the Rep’s A-team? Really?

    It does make one wonder what’s sitting just over the horizon when the opposition is so hell bent on mediocrity.

    Any guesses on where the DOW will be a year from now? Just a guess, yesterday’s run-up wasn’t a harbinger of things to come.

  25. len says:

    It’s because they are the only really entertaining part and given a good opponent, Obama steps up. This is when we get to compare character and instincts. Will they out any big issues? Probably not. I remember watching Reagan debate Carter thinking to myself, “This guy is a B-movie actor and not a great one at that, and some of the stuff he is saying is absolute nonsense. Are we really considering this?” and the answer was, yes. Despite all the mythologizing, Reagan screwed us.

    The problem for the Republicans is Newt is right that Romney is capturing delegates but little else. Newt is looking to make a deal to come up in a very important job post-election. His pivots are interesting. Not an entirely unintelligent man. Santorum seems to be very adept at understanding what is going on in the grassroots of his party. The last election was change and hope. This one is pissed and not going to take it. I’ll say this for the South: unlike the rest of the country willing to play it save, they really are willing to roll the dice for big change. As the poster said: “We will be the best informed people to ever lose a country to ignorance.” And so it goes.

    And yes, Obama 2012. I drove in behind a truck with a US Army disabled veteran tag and an Obama/Biden sticker. Some people you may not think are thinking are. And what you saw yesterday was a Republican primary. The women here have yet to speak and they are muttering under their breath in ways I haven’t seen since the Birmingham church bombing.

    As I said, the dicks have their man and the women have their dick. Let’s see how this brews.

    No clue about the DOW. I’m just trying to get through chemo without losing my job and it’s getting very tough so my head is down doing what I can be doing about what I can do.

  26. rhbee says:

    Civil war, you say. Not having it are we? What the hell do you call this? Wars with words meant to attack are everywhere. Might I suggest that we are in a civil war that just like the internet’s infinitude has many facets. Brother and sister against sister and brother for those who oppose gays and lesbians and trangendrians. Free marketeers versus social engineers and ICE vs Libertartianism, there are a couple others. Taxes, early education, states rights and Federalism, (Southern and Northern and Western and Eastern) red or blue, Social Security. You know there really are people who believe it’s a communist plot which I never understand whether they mean Communists are plotting and SS is one of their weapons or is it a communistic idea and you know what that means? Better dead than red, right?

    The question I think you are posing is will this civility of rambuctious discourse we have now break down into the chaos of actual war here in the US? As JTM might say, “Leave our touch screens, never!” People taking physical sides and duking it out so to speak? Hah, that’s what the UFC is for. I don’t think there is any question that our continued philosophical differences and willingness to hold stubborn our point(s) of view makes the climate for war quite favorable. But man what about all the distractions? The Californication of our mind set that is tv land?

    This infringement you felt, Jon, it made you enter the battle, didn’t it? Or should I say reenter? But for most of us these days, the real battles are on our phones and we don’t appear to care about anything else as long as we can tap, tap, on . . .

  27. JTMcPhee says:

    Ox-goring: JT writes: “Kim doesn’t give a damn about the thousands of musicians and filmmakers he is cheating while he sails around the world on his yacht. Where are the musicians yachts?”

    Substitute “Blankfein” or “Dimon” or your choice of C-Suite-er for “Kim,” and “exited-the-workforcers and upside-downers and desperate ‘losers'” for “musicians and filmmakers,” and whatyagot? Why the sudden burst of empathy and concern for a mini-segment of the Creative Population, when the REAL theft, not just of bits of work product, is going on, carried out by the Money Men 24/7, abetted by the MIC types? Got any figures on how much “notional value,” of various derivative wagers and other Casino bets, to be paid off by us “Dumb Money” suckers, is being laid down every day by the people who “do lunch” and sport million-dollar “chronographs” and inhale the other heady markers of parasitic affluence? Got any opprobrium in the bucket to spare, any more, for that much more toxic set of creatures? Whose “people” are fighting a long, maybe rear-guard, maybe Ragnarok, action, to hang on to their fiscal hegemony? (See e.g., the “mortgage settlement,” and of course the efforts to shout down and smear and silence whistle-blowers like Greg Smith — e.g.,

    But not to worry, people of privilege — the momentum of the beast of which you form a part is enormous, and my bet is that you will keep riding high and waltzing all the way through your four-score-and-a-half, in 3/4 time, mostly untroubled by trouble of the kind that might really matter…

  28. JTMcPhee says:

    Let them eat Alice B. Toklas?

    And of course there’s Tony “I’d like my life back — oh, thanks, got it and then some!” Hayward, briefly the kicking boy for the BP spindizzy in the Gulf of Mexico.

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