Disinformation and You: a Love Story

Politics offend me.  What is it about government that causes such horrendous emotional amplification?  Whenever someone posits a political opinion at the beer-talk table, others hurry to kill or die for their disagreements.  This rash Friday-night idiocy once disgusted me, but the contempt I’ve felt for such reactionary exchanges has frankly become condescension.  My knee-jerk reaction to deeply concerned, utterly serious political conversations is to make sarcastic, snide remarks against the childish manner in which these discussions are generally conducted.  For “In a Real World. . .” though, this would be too easy, and would say too little.

Rather, let’s have a look at modern society’s treatment of world politics and see what remains to talk about afterward; though I must say I find talking about politics. . .  Really fucking embarrassing.  So, this doesn’t leave the room — OK?

I. Hooray!  Disinformation Is a Way of Life

It is irrational, pompous, and presumptuous to think one holds enough dependable information to come to veracious political conclusions.  For this reason, I’ve always fantasized a president’s first day happening something like this:

“Would you like some water, Mr. President?”

“Oh, no. . .  I mean — no, I’ll drink it straight.”

“Don’t feel bad.  Clinton passed out when he learned George Washington still secretly headed the executive branch from his empty crypt behind the White House.  It gets everybody, the first time.”

“It — it wasn’t the Washington zombie, so much.  I had anticipated that.  I just hadn’t expected his bionic life-support to look so much like, like — like Angelina Jolie.”

“Yes, well, President Washington picked up cross-dressing in the 1940s.  Who d’you think got J. Edgar Hoover into it?”

OK, so I may be exaggerating.  The basic idea is about right, though.  If there’s anything I feel secure in, it’s government secrecy.  I doubt they give Obama the code to program the White House’s TiVo.  Governments cover up everything, and that really shouldn’t be news to anyone.

George Washington presiding

Washington, D.C.: more secrets than a legion of adolescent girls. Why is President Washington's crypt empty, again?

Since a government’s first priority is to cover its own ass, it may be expected to take measures to cover said ass.  As these measures protect the government best when they’re also least conspicuous, governments hide, obfuscate, and divert attention from these measures.  I will call this activity by its classified codename, Operation Chickenshit.

Civilians interested in Operation Chickenshit must contend with its wily evasive maneuvers.  Working daily to suppress the news are hundreds of wildly clever, obscenely educated, anonymous Chickenshit agents with indescribable power at their disposal.  These suits work long, well-paid hours to shut up all so-called “sensitive” information except that which has been manufactured to obscure or omit the truth.  News sources can always be expected to omit more than they include.

As any half-blind, half-deaf White House attendant can tell you, politics happen in limousines and restrooms, not on the floor of the chamber of the House of Representatives.

So, intrepidly armed with watered-down news influenced heavily (and occasionally outright controlled) by Operation Chickenshit, we form entire political belief systems to wear as fashion accessories, then impose upon one another what we consider informed opinions.  We’re like arrogant little gourmands judging the dishes of a feast by reading the conflicting reviews of food critics, without ourselves having the slightest ability to taste any of the food.

Oh, like your concept of world government is gonna make it past this guy intact. Yeah, right. And there're like, a bazillion-dillion guys like him working in propaganda. Come on. Get real.

For some reason, though, people take it for granted that politics may be wholly grasped and engaged in by any flag-waving prick on the street.  Often, poli-sci hobbyists sneer at religious fanatics who argue over the nature of God (big G) because it seems ridiculous that so inconsequential a being as a human might measure gods.  These same detractors, although reasonable in their scorn, consider it well-within their own reach to discern the clandestine movements of governments, governments with the power to order the invention, construction, and execution of nuclear submarines, stealth bombers, and surveillance satellites orbiting planet earth.  These same self-important armchair philosophers (yes, I realize I have named myself) pontificate at length about exactly why American troops invaded Iraq.  I contend that, beyond the existence of troops there, very precious-fucking little can be known from a civilian perspective.

The purpose of their (or any military’s) mission will never be understood by any one civilian, agent, or president.  This is because the matter has causes too large, too plentiful, too varied, too far away, too long ago, and too inexplicable for any single person to know at once.  George Herbert Walker Bush may know what Reagan was doing in Nicaragua, but he can’t know which multinational corporations were pulling strings in drug cartels, nor what was motivating the contras to clean and oil their assault rifles, kiss their loved ones goodnight, and go dutifully to work.  That sort of information can’t be garnered through wiretapping any more than the quality of a novel can be ascertained through the study of sales statistics.

Our great-grandchildren will have it fed to them by Operation Chickenshit in high school, though, all tied-up in one neat, tidy little paragraph between what transpired in New York one fateful autumn day, and the election of America’s first Afro-American president.  And that, my friends, provokes me to laughter.

Columbus

America protected the Western world by invading the Middle East, does not influence Central American politics, and was first discovered by Christopher Columbus (Great Amer. History textbook, Ch. 1, 5, 15; Questions 3-12, due Thurs.).

To understand the height of conceit one must obtain to insist that one comprehends politics, one has only to consider the possibility that momentous events have secretly occurred.  Have people simply disappeared in large numbers?  Of course.  Have foreign governments been hijacked by the surgical placement of agents within?  Of course.  Have technologies been developed, the use of which would horrify the contemporary mind?  Of course.  Have the people of the world been permanently convinced of a lie so egregious in its enormity that dissolving it would result in nationwide rioting?  Of course.

It’s conspiracy theory, one would say — to which I rhetorically remind: have conspiracies transpired in every government since the dawn of civilization?  Of course.

Governments, in fact, are mere conspiracies in full bloom.

II. All the President’s Men

A conversation criticizing political conversation can’t be without mention of political leaders.  An inordinately large portion of such talk orbits the actions of presidents, congressmen, representatives, and governors.  Little talk is made of mayors, though, unless one’s current mayor has become embroiled in a fiasco of some kind or other.  We do not seem as interested in the non-scandalous activities of our mayors as we are in the minute-to-minute business of our president, and that’s strange, because the mayor is a person we can shake hands with if we don’t mind hanging around city hall long enough, someone whom we can speak directly to at council meetings and press releases.  The President is someone whose very existence can only be verified by very few people, as few people can get close enough to him to collect a priori evidence.  Most people see a president on television and automatically “know” that he exists, presides, and impacts lives as surely as a sledgehammer affects furniture, even though the vast majority of people see no more of him than the constituents of Oceania saw Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984.

I do not mean to place the President in the same box as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, because that would be way too much fun would sound counter-intuitive; however a rational, realistic reassessment of his function seems necessary.  Before we begin, however, let us take stock of some other positions in U.S. government.

Presidents

Who's this, the real President of the United States? Don't be ridiculous. This is the shadow coach and assistant shadow coach of your kid's soccer team. I have no idea who runs the White House.

Of the government of the United States of America, there are: 9 Justices of the Supreme Court, with a total of 37 clerks; 100 people in the Senate; 435 people in the House of Representatives, not to mention 4 delegates and 1 resident hotshot; 18 current cabinet members, not including the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House.  Also unofficially affecting our government are: 12,553 registered lobbyists in Washington, and an innumerable amount of pressures from Wall St.  To be perfectly textbook about it, there is also a Constitution governing all of this, having 7 articles and 27 amendments which are ostensibly inviolable.

There is exactly 1 President of the United States.

While it would be naïve to say that the Chief has no real power (as there are over 1.6 million veterans of the Middle East conflict who assure us he does) it would be equally silly to consider him anything but a single part of an enormous, plunging political machine with enough gathered inertia to operate without outside instigation for centuries.  The American government is also the result of centuries of social and economic structuring that occurred in Europe and elsewhere.  Small dominoes, then big dominoes, then gigantic dominoes fall in a neigh-endless march through our past, present, and future, and of these most American presidents represent a shockingly small fraction (there have been 43, by the way; considering our nation is only 2.35 centuries old, that’s a notable diffusion of responsibility).

What this means to me — and sometimes I feel the pariah for it — is that the President is no more than an eddy in an immeasurable whirlpool, a momentary breeze on the outskirts of a tornado, a glowing rivulet crawling slowly away from the fiery flow of a massive volcano.  This doesn’t change his relative importance, though.  Recognizing him as such merely places him in perspective, but this perspective is necessary to keep one’s balance when discussing politics, and especially when speaking with one of the countless political zealots who love to talk about presidents the way music fans love to discuss the individual members of a band.  Which of these incessant chatterers sounds more pretentious is anyone’s guess.

On 22 December 2009, Lord Vader and his stormtroopers rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange, thus greatly simplifying 218 years of American politics.

The emphasis many place on the relative success or failure of a certain president cannot be fathomed.  Changing a president amidst all the above influences and excitedly expecting significant change does not show the scope of reason befitting a literate adult.

Swapping out presidents is not like rebuilding the engine of your car — it’s like changing the oil.

The main function of the executive branch is the same as the king’s function in chess, which is to distract attention from the rest of the board.  All the actual action is really taking place among the knights, bishops, rooks, and pawns, but the largest portion of any country’s populace is mostly uneducated and entirely uninitiated, and therefore lacks the tools to correctly appraise its leaders (largely why countries need government in the first place) so the president and his cabinet provide a sort of sitcom for all the uncreative types to cheer for or bicker about, vote for or demonstrate against, and generally spend all their mental energy spinning their wheels on.  Meanwhile, the brains of the constituency watch and laugh, watch and cry, or place a thoughtful finger to their chins and say, “Shit, even I can do that,” and throw their hat in the ring with the other candidates.

III. Election Day Apathy: “Ooooh, Goodie!”

So what’s an American to do in November, roll over?  Oh, hardly.  Some things can be researched to a point of relative certainty on the local level and are worth acting upon, and other things on the global level are almost certainly so, such as the existence of troops in Iraq at the moment.  If it suits us to vote on this basis, then we can feel fairly certain that someone will tally our ayes and nays.  And there are the civilly disobedient routes of expression, also, lest we forget.

There are ways to understand governments, too, if one rejects the impulse to think in terms of pundits and parties.  A man would do better to examine himself to find hard evidence of what a government is, would do better to examine his neighbors, and if possible, the people in other counties and states.  If one wishes to understand American government, one should begin with the American people, and end somewhere in China, Africa, or the Middle East.

In other words, a worm may understand the tree through a thorough study of the apple.  Should the worm develop an avid interest, the apple’s seed should afford all the wonder and mystery inherent in this universe, more than enough to internalize the complexities of the tree, and, who knows?  Perhaps even a thing or two about what it’s like to be a worm.

And there ain’t nothin’ Operation Chickenshit can do about that.

With Frank Incense and Mirth,

-BothEyes

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Have It Big: a Varied and Vociferous Vocabulary

The F-Bomb: persona non grata.

The last time I remember being slapped by my father, I had spoken out-of-turn to him at the dinner table.  I was thirteen or so.  The conversation went something like this:

“Damn.”

“What did you say?”

“I said damn.  Sorry.”

“That’s too bad,” he said.  “I thought you had a bigger vocabulary than that.”

I was going through a phase at the time.

“So,” I said, “if I took that word out, my vocabulary would get bigger?”

Wham!  I hadn’t seen it coming, even though a blind man could have, and it hurt.  He didn’t answer my question and I didn’t ask him why he hit me.  It was a concealed incident like a covert military action in a third-world country.  It was neatly concealed.  It was politely concealed.  And the question posed to my father, to my society, slipped into quiet obscurity like a sailor’s fumbled cigarette.

It’s a question I still pose to certain people — a very certain sort of person who disdains some words because they are considered bad, immoral, or vulgar, yet has retained the capacity for reasonable discourse.  So far, nobody’s done anything but agree with me that using fewer words must result in a smaller vocabulary, but strangely, no one’s ever argued to me that the resulting vocabulary, while smaller, is still better somehow.  Certain people must believe so.  No one’s ever told me so, and for a long time I wondered why.  This week’s “In a Real World This Would Be Happening” discusses the causes of small vocabularies through the history of cussing, rails against the wagers of the war on words, and champions that holy grail of English, the Largest Vocabulary.

With no further ado, let’s get the fuck on with it, shall we?

BibleSTUDY_000

Rich people don't need real jobs.

Throughout history there have been people who decide how you need to talk in order to look cool for the rich pricks in power.  This verbal prejudice trickles down to socialite fashion fucks, magazine-cover types who also decide you need to mimic the way the rich pricks talk to look fashionable.  Let’s have a look.

*        *        *

We don’t have to go all the way back to 3,000 BC like we did in last week’s piece.  No, the good words versus bad words war wasn’t in full swing until Latin became a language known only to the clergy, pictured with their favorite books above.  In medieval Europe the churchies had control of the Western world’s knowledge and money.  Nobody but the rich could afford the time necessary to read, or to learn to read for that matter, so the only people who had any education outside their family trade were churchies, most Catholic.

Well the Catholic church had decided that Latin was the Holy Language, so these rich bastards hoarded all the sciences, maths, philosophies, histories and what-not and made sure that they had perfect control over it by speaking and writing in Latin, a language nobody but churchies could understand.  In England and France the language was that of the indigenous people, the common speech, and the Largest Vocabulary of the common people included all the same “bad” words we use today, like arse, cock, cunt, et cetera.

Of course the churchies had need for alluding to these grand specifics of anatomy just like anyone else, and they used their own ecclesiastic lingo to describe them, ergo: anus, penis, vagina, from the Latin.  This trend continues today, as anyone can see.  What can get a person sued for saying aloud at his or her workplace in Anglo-Saxon is perfectly fine in Latin.  You can tell your boss to self-fornicate.  It’s fun.  People get a kick out of it.  Try telling him to fuck himself, though, and you’ll get fired for speaking such vulgar language.

Oh, that reminds me.  That so-called “vulgar language”?  Yeah, ‘vulgar’ comes from vulgaris.  It’s Latin for ‘common’.  So the next time some old bat tells you the movie had too much vulgar language for her liking, just remember: she’s echoing the disdain of rich bitches who found last year’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” too provincial! filthy! so — so — so common!

72 names! God is HUNG.

Now one of my favorite inconsistencies concerning the church’s war against the Largest Vocabulary is the name of the Judao-Christian god, who goes by the ingenious name, God.  In the early days of worship, the only word that was a sin to speak was the Holy Unspeakable Name of God, so you had to say the Holy Unspeakable Name of God, or HUNG, for short.  Of course, the Jews have 72 holy names for God, all of which come from their holy books, and I don’t think they are all bad to say — just HUNG.  Why?  Because it would be vain to try and label an omnipresent being like a god.  That’s why Moses commanded his crew to stop using his Lord’s name in vain: naming God was logically impossible to do, and diminutive — therefore blasphemous — to try.

But churchies today use “God” all the time, calling him by name just as if he were “Mike” or “Bill” or “Bob.”  Churchies today have reams of other words you shouldn’t use and topics you shouldn’t talk about, though, and preachers warn congregations against reading from strange doctrines and fraternizing with non-believers, effectively censoring all manner of information but their own single-minded, near-sighted interpretations of a single text, their Bible, which is already a selection of books from a much larger selection of books, thus censoring the largest portion of Hebrew thought and theology before the churchies even get started censoring everything else.

The next time you take shit from some self-righteous religious zealot, ask them what it means to “take the Lord’s name in vain,” and while you’re at it, ask them what God is.  When they regurgitate the line that God is love, tell them, “Nope!  God is HUNG,” and revel in your superior Sunday school skillz.

Russian snobs: voulez-vous coucher avec moi?

Following in the footsteps of the medieval churchies were the aristocracies of the 19th century.  At that time the richies had moved from Latin to French as their code language, because the population of France in the sixteen-hundreds had been the largest in Europe, which had its lasting political effects.  To be fashionable, one affected une air de francais, so one was expected to speak in French.  Once again, if you weren’t in the know, then you weren’t allowed into the party, so we get such endlessly annoying historical crap as the great Russian dynasties speaking French to one another in books like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and at diplomatic foo-foo balls such as the one pictured above.  Of course, in neither language did these fuckfaces take advantage of the Largest Vocabulary.

Can you imagine going to a party and getting snubbed when all the fashion fucks start speaking in a different fucking language from a different fucking continent?  Ah bien, très désolé (gee, I’m sorry).  Vous êtes un bâtard (you are a bastard).  Baisez-vous (fuck you).

God I feel so cool when I speak French.

Modern codebook of secret handshakes and passwords. Shhh!

But the 17th century had other lasting affects, too, such as the development of etiquette in France.  This is another damned password used to separate the aristocrats from the common people (vulgar people, don’t forget).  The French courtiers had absolutely nothing to do but amuse themselves in those days, and they amused themselves mainly with drinking, fucking, and making up complicated little fads to differentiate themselves from the middle and lower classes.  Once again and of course, they did not use their Largest Vocabulary.

“Look!  Bertrand’s wearing his ruffles agog!”

“Dear me, can one wear ruffles — agog?”

“Indeed!  Oh, I quite like it.  I think I shall turn my bourdalou buckle to one side.”

“But Marie, simply all of Paris is wearing them to one side — hadn’t you heard?  Oh, it’s positively how it’s done this season.”

“And you never thought to tell me?  How gauche!”

“Well I–”

“Hmph!”

“Well!”

Marie has been wronged, for sure.  I mean, how is anyone supposed to look cool without a friend on the inside to alert one to sudden changes in the language of fashion and the fashionable language?  I mean, look at these secret signals:

The blade of the butter knife is to be turned inward and closest to the plate on a folded napkin.  A man’s shoes are to be matched to his belt and briefcase, his tie matched to his handkerchief which is also a patterned, folded napkin.  A woman’s heels are matched to her purse and hat band, and she must have her initials sewn onto a lacy handkerchief so that she may snare cute, rich, fashion-fuck boys by the well-timed drop of a monogrammed folded napkin.  Hundreds and hundreds of little passwords, and any tiny slip would give a vulgar person away as a poor bastard from no wealthy upbringing at all.

Today, these passwords include firm handshakes, the car-salesman eye-contact contest, and the utterance of corporate lingo like “proactive,” “touch base,” and “on the same page.”  But the real victims are teenagers, trendy little dickheads and posh little cunts.  They don’t even know how pathetic their fashion-groveling looks to nerds, dweebs, geeks and weirdos who don’t fit in and don’t want to, who don’t vote for homecoming queen, want to be cheerleaders, or try to look like the cutey pies on the cover of Sixteen magazine.  Sad, sad, sad.  What do you think: nature, or nurture?  Either way, it’s a shitty way to treat the offspring of humanity, mindfucking them like that, even if it is just the backlash of 600 years worth of class warfare.

No. Really.

The stinking relation between fashion and censorship is only a matter of degree.  Some words and discussion topics are unfashionable enough in wealthy circles that these jerk-offs can actually look cooler to their friends by banning certain words and themes from society.  Tipper Gore made the Parent Music Resource Center in 1985 because she thought Prince sang about sex too openly, something the Catholic church made uncool hundreds of fucking years ago.

She’s responsible for the “Tipper Sticker,” that insulting little rectangle of hate that says, “PARENTAL ADVISORY — EXPLICIT LYRICS,” which is now a music industry standard.  Last I heard, Walmart doesn’t even carry music with the Tipper sticker on it, and I know my mom used to throw away my cassettes and records if the local youth minister told her they were of the devil.

The war on the Largest Vocabulary steals our fucking music, goddamnit.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s reason enough to want to cuss as much as I can fit into a cohesive conversation.  You know what I want to do?  I wanna make a sticker that says, “CONSUMER ADVISORY — INSIPID LYRICS,” and plaster them all over the pop industry, all over the country music industry, slap one on every worthless, safe little Miley Cyrus album produced for blonde daughters and make the independent record stores boycott them.

But of course the boycott wouldn’t be necessary, because those stores don’t carry that nonsense.  I guess their clientele’s too — highbrow?  Elite?  You bet your fuckin’ ass.  That’s the kind of knowledge money can’t buy.

Hooray! Hooray for cussin'!

Words have meaning dictated by context; everyone knows that.  Out of context, they’re like nails without a hammer, like paints previous to their painting.  To get excited over words because they are “cussing” is to show ignorance of, or disrespect for, denotation.  Cussing is just an American Mid-Western mispronunciation of cursing, not a group of unspeakable words.  “Fuck you” is not a curse cast upon someone’s head like some hick pagan voodoo juju.  “Fuck you” is not cussing.  “Fuck you” is an open threat thrown right into your enemy’s face, the way we like it.

So join the ranks of the fully vocabulated!  Use euphemisms in making fun of aristocracy, and vulgarisms in defending Democracy!  Embrace neologisms and thicken that dictionary up.  Slang is fun!  Ever notice how the people who get offended by the words you use are people you wouldn’t want to talk to anyway?  Fuck that medieval bullshit!  Drive their linguistic prejudices back into the Victorian Age where they’re still fashionable.  Defend porn as the front line of free speech, attack censorship and disinformation in all their forms, and never, ever, ever forget the most important principle, the most invaluable precept of all. . .

Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

Sincerely and Utterly,

-BothEyesShut

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