The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Military Industrial Surveillance Complex

I’ve Got Good News and Bad News Watch

First, some good news for a change. A group of rich Bush critics are considering funding a group of investigative journalists to actually perform, you know, real journalism in this country. Imagine that! They are expected to be able to draw from a huge pool of incredibly talented, out-of-work investigative people who have all lost their jobs (or lost interest in their jobs) in the Outrage or Titillation world of new media. You get just one guess as to whether the right wing bloviators (including George Will, Fred Barnes, Bill O’Reilly, Brit Hume, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Pat Buchanan, Neil Cavuto, Mort Kondracke, Charles Krauthammer, Tim Russert, Tucker Carlson, Steve Doocy, Ann Coulter, Michael Medved – the list seems endless, and those are just the assholes!) will consider this new nonprofit group, named Pro Publica, part of the “liberal media”.

Clearly, Pro Publica is a great idea, and one which is way past due. One absolutely clear sign that it is a fantastically good sign is that Rush Limbaugh has already hyperventilated his fat heart into a frenzy thinking about investigative journalists who can’t be bought off or intimidated. His rather unique tack was to decry their “arrogance” for daring to criticize powerful people, as if they were any better than them. And then, he tried to intimidate them himself:

And we said, "You know what? We're going to find out where your kids go to school. We're going to find out who you knocked up in high school. We're going to find out what drugs you used. We're going to find out where you go to drink and do -- we're gonna find out how you paid for your house. We're going to do -- and we're going to do exact . . . But nobody does that to these people. Nobody does it to them. And that would be so much fun. But I'd need to be wearing body armor every day. Oh, no question, these people are playing for keeps.


Nothing seems to scare the Bloated One like the thought of journalists who aren’t tamed, gelded, and in “the club”. Let’s hope there are plenty of them in the future.

The bad news, reported this week by the ACLU, is that the Department of Defense has been abusing the powers granted to it by the PATRIOT act (which of course it and the Justice Department swore up and down that they would never do when Bushco wanted to get the Patriot Act renewed) to spy on American citizens without warrants and with intimidation of those they got the information from in hundreds, thousands, and probably hundreds of thousands of occasions. So, not only is the NSA spying on us. Not only is the Justice Department spying on us. But the Pentagon is spying on us. And we know how ethical they are. Keith Olbermann and legal scholar Jonathan Turley discuss this latest government invasion into our lives.

Something Banal This Way Comes Watch

Everyone loves to quote “the medium is the message” from communications theorist Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan meant that when human intercommunication occurred largely through the printed word, and when the barrier to entry to publishing your own work was relatively low, the conversation was more interactive and ideas were allowed to compete based on their merits. In contrast, television, for which the barriers to entry are huge and controlled by just a few powerful interests, is a one-way medium. The message of print is “let’s all engage in an exchange of ideas”, whereas the message of television is “sit there and shut up and we’ll tell you what to think”. Gore explores these differences in some detail in The Assault on Reason, and also offers his hope that the internet, with a low barrier to entry, can bring back a vigorous, merit- and idea-based public conversation. It certainly does seem to be the case that before the printing press, political and religious orthodoxy were strictly enforced, followed by the wild heterodoxy of the salons and the broadsheets of the enlightenment, followed by increasingly enforced orthodoxy as radio and television grew to dominance. The increased influence of atheism and progressive politics these days do seem to owe some thanks to the net. Let’s hope that influence grows.

One of my favorite authors when I was a teenager was Ray Bradbury, and I’ll never forget the two very sharp criticisms he made of television in his stories. Rather than just rail against the medium for making us stupid (and obedient), he demonstrated its corrosive power, first in the political observations of the wife of his protagonist in Fahrenheit 451 (the implied sexism of the scene is somewhat mitigated by making the heroine in the story extraordinarily erudite):

Mildred sat a moment and then, seeing that Montag was still in the doorway, clapped her hands. “Lets talk politics, to please Guy!”
“Sounds fine”, said Mrs. Bowles. “I voted last election, same as everyone, and I laid it on the line for President Noble. I think he’s one of the nicest looking men ever became president.”
“Oh, but the man they ran against him!”
“He wasn’t much, was he? Kind of small and homely and he didn’t shave too close or comb his hair very well.”
“What possessed the ‘Outs’ to run him? You just don’t go running a little short man like that against a tall man. Besides – he mumbled. Half the time I couldn’t hear a word he said. And the words I did hear I didn’t understand!”
“Fat, too, and didn’t dress to hide it. No wonder the landslide was for Winston Noble. Even their names helped. Compare Winston Noble to Hubert Hoag for ten seconds and can almost figure the results.”
“Damn it!” cried Montag. “What do you know about Hoag and Noble!”
“Why, they were right in that parlor wall, not six months ago. One was always picking his nose; it drove me wild.”
“Well, Mr. Montag,” said Mrs. Phelps, “do you want us to vote for a man like that?”


and also in his chilling short short story, the Pedestrian, about a man who pays the price for preferring a walk to the television.

The Case for Impeachment Watch

David Swanson, an anti-war and pro-impeachment activist, is behind some of the most important websites in chronicling the abuses of the maladministration and in opposing them, including AfterDowningStreet.org, Democrats.com, and impeachpac.org. One of the best speeches I’ve ever seen regarding the subject of impeachment was delivered by Swanson with heart, reason, and passion. If you only watch one speech detailing the reasons Bush and Cheney need to be impeached this year, make it this one.

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