Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 25, 2005

Billmon: My Back Pages

My Back Pages

Since I reopened Whiskey Bar back in January, huge numbers of readers – well, OK, one or two – have asked me why I’m not “writing” anymore.

Go read the rest and reply here!

Posted by Jérôme à Paris on March 25, 2005 at 6:52 UTC | Permalink

Comments

You can get away from writing like you can get away from your thoughts. ie. Never

Posted by: The Key | Mar 25 2005 7:19 utc | 1

damn he's good, isn't he.

Posted by: baba durag | Mar 25 2005 7:21 utc | 2

Billmon - as my sig on other sites says: in the end, we're all dead anyway.

If you're ready for futile, how about becoming a guest writer over here? ;-)

Posted by: Jérôme | Mar 25 2005 7:24 utc | 3

Front seat in the train wreck please; pass the popcorn.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 25 2005 9:22 utc | 4

My, my. It is a long row to hoe, isn't it, embracing that great absurd whole? My inner Camus is most pleased, in an absurdly futile way, that is. I wasn't a barfly for no reason, ya know.

;-)

Posted by: Kate_Storm | Mar 25 2005 10:34 utc | 5

In the end, Solzhenitzin wasn't futile.

Posted by: Lupin | Mar 25 2005 10:57 utc | 6

I don't believe resistance is futile. This country has a long history of Know Nothingism and xenophobia; there have always been people whose higher instincts led them to protest things like exclusionary immigration, slavery, and denial of human rights; and the American army have been torturing and invading in South America for a lot longer than most of us will care to admit.
This is admittedly a bigger mess than I can recall going through in my not so short lifetime, but if you look back to the nineteenth century, things start to look familiar. America didn't have a Golden Age when everyone had rules to live by and politicians were honest...there were (other) times when people who disagreed with the popular sentiment were jailed or deported. The only thing new about what is going on is the medium of expression.
So keep posting, Billmon, as long as you can. it's nice to know that there is still some intelligent discourse out there. Although you are right: maybe what is needed is to fight fire with fire. Call them out on EVERYTHING. Keep repeating a simple message over and over again. Kerry tried to explain things, allowed the opposition to set the agenda.

Sooner or later, reality will intervene. Hopefully there will be a turning away from the brainwashing.

Posted by: hopping madbunny | Mar 25 2005 11:18 utc | 7

Linked to the barkeep just now at the All Spin Zone: "http://allspinzone.blogspot.com/2005/03/its-okay-to-say-i-told-you-so.html">It's Okay To Say "I Told You So".

Posted by: Kate_Storm | Mar 25 2005 11:50 utc | 8

Wow. Screwed that link up... middle of the night blogging has it's annoying little deadfalls... lol

It's Okay to Say I Told You So

Posted by: Kate_Storm | Mar 25 2005 11:52 utc | 9

Ahhhhhhhhh. (Lights up cigarette.) Thanks, billmon.

Posted by: Vicki | Mar 25 2005 12:53 utc | 10

I'm looking (faintly hoping, really) for spontaneous combustion of the other locomotive before we collide. Can I get some whiskey to go with my popcorn, please?

Posted by: beq | Mar 25 2005 13:15 utc | 11

Pulling my barstool closer to the mahogany...

Barkeep! Three fingers of Red Eye.

Posted by: Kate_Storm | Mar 25 2005 13:22 utc | 12

We do tend to believe in times like this that by doing what we do we actually are doing SOMETHING ( no matter how small it is) to make things change right way. We gat disappointed when result is not there and yes we may despair and give up in the end feeling things just CAN’T be changed…I see Billmon felt something like that…That was my story in Serbia during Milosevic too. I left Serbia when Milosevic was stronger then ever and I felt there is nothing I could do any more…After all this time (11 years how I left) all tho I wasn’t there when he had to go down and I couldn’t feel any real joy seeing him in Hag I still feel that what ever I’ve done was a small part of RIGHT thing. And it was stronger then me anyway so I had to do it no matter what was the cost. Situation in Serbia (in any aspect) is catastrophic today and I have not satisfaction at all …yet… I even do feel that we all ( those who stayed there and we who left Serbia) have lost so much that things can’t be fixed for long time to come…but things I’ve done needed to be done…and I had to do them cause otherwise it wouldn’t be me …and I strongly believed my country needed people who were willing to do what I’ve done…
But I learned a lot during all these times and am still learning…mostly about helplessness and about inevitable…and about my own personality… I am just not idealist (naïve) as I used to be…but I am still that old silly stubborn free spirit…haha.
In the end it’s all about who we are!

Posted by: vbo | Mar 25 2005 13:48 utc | 13

I passed by every day during "The Hiatus", hoping beyond hope I would find a light on. I found solace in the archives.

What kept me coming back, other than the fact that I agree with just a little over 100% of what the guy says, is his great writing. With a Billmon post, the thought is always complete and expressed exactly as it should be. It's never too long or too short. Every word seems essential. And I always felt a lot smarter whenever I finished reading one.

And he's funny. Not just funny, wickedly clever. The humor percolates constantly through his writing. My favorite is what I think of as his "Roundhouse Curve" post. After you've read a few hundred Billmon posts, you can see it coming from the first sentence, but in the end, it still knocks you on your butt laughing, kind of the way a Koufax curveball use to work on major league hitters.

Anyway, regarding that Salvadoran option thing, I'll bet that if Billmon had a dollar for every time he heard someone in the 80's running down a "leftist" for suggesting that the US government had anything to do with the atrocities in Central America, he'd be making out like Soros about now.

Posted by: bcf | Mar 25 2005 14:41 utc | 14

" I might just as well get out my cooking gear, tie the rubber hose around my arm, and go for the mainline."
thank god. someone ask me recently if i thought you would ever write again at the bar my ,response ,inevitable. bcf pretty much covered it so i won't blabber on other than to say you're the best hands down and i forgive you for stranding me when i was at my worst.

Posted by: annie | Mar 25 2005 16:08 utc | 15

Yep that is a wonderful post. Gives a lot of credence to the premise that one can't just give up. No matter how bad the odds are - or appear to be.

Let me take issue with one line of Billmon's.

He is giving too little credit to the people as a whole, or he is giving too much credit to the Rovian brainwashing operation. There is a large contingent of us who are absolutely certain that the election results were electronically fixed. Sure, it would have been harder to do if say 70 or 80 percent of the true votes had been against the Dub, and so the propaganda, threats and fear during the campaign were essential. Despite all that the fix was necessary.

The people were not fooled as Billmon implies; they have simply had their power removed by Rove. This simplifies the problem a lot; you have a specific perpetrator of specific crimes who is shielded by identifiable allies. Time to call Sgt. Friday and Perry Mason.

Way too early to give up.

Posted by: rapt | Mar 25 2005 16:30 utc | 16

Marvelous writing. Yesterday, it was jazzmaniac's dKos diary Exclusive! Interview With The Devil. Blogs are maturing.

Only on blogs can we read the hellish satire of the GOP leadership that passing a law intended to prolong the life of a brain-dead women but at the same time cuts medicaid 15 billion dollars which pays to keep her alive.

Real Hell is when we need a revolution and no one is on the barricades.

Posted by: Jim S | Mar 25 2005 16:59 utc | 17

Sorry, gotta whore on this one.

My take on Billmon's return as a faint hope feeding tube for the dying American Dream is here

Posted by: RossK | Mar 25 2005 17:15 utc | 18

@ rapt: "There is a large contingent of us who are absolutely certain that the election results were electronically fixed.
Amen.

Posted by: beq | Mar 25 2005 17:37 utc | 19

billmon, it wasn't a diamond - probably more like cubic z - b/c a real revelation of the futility of (a restricted view of) the situation would include the testable conclusion that kerry & the dems were just as complicit in this fraudulent dog-n-pony election show being foisted on the u.s. public as any cunning terdblossom operation being beamed out of the gop hq & into the cultural conscious/marketplace. it's very easy for us to get so caught up in trying to understand, predict, rationalize and make sense of the events going on around us that we avoid seeing things for what they really are. a chimp could have outlined a more coherent & uniting opposition given the plentiful opportunites that this "contest" presented. but the fix was in from the very beginning and there were too many suckers willing to buy into it. the dems are hoping that some of these fools still cling on to the party, that dr. dean has some special panacea in his medicine bag.

we have to be honest w/ ourselves and admit that we can indeed go further than saying that the u.s. has supported torture, murder & genocide in other parts of the world for a lot longer than we care to admit. one only need to consider the very lands that the homeland rests on to understand that there is a lot of memories that we block out of our collective/cultural self-conscious. here's one - the american militia massacre of more than 90 pacifist, partially-assimilated, moravian indians, primarily women & children at gnaddenhutten, ohio in the winter of 1782. these women & children "were dragged 2 or 3 at a time into two slaughterhouses and killed w/ a cooper's mallet. the accusation was that the indians were thieves because they possessed artifacts that were marks of whites and not savages - spoons, tea kettles, pots, cups and saucers." (source - the middle ground : indians, empires and republics in the great lakes region, 1650-1815 by richard white). there are plenty of similar documented instances & countless unrecorded ones right here on this soil. we needn't look outside the borders for american atrocities. there are plenty of ghosts here.

so what is to be done? isn't that the quintessential question? well, i'm not giving up on "truth" playing a central role in any solution. yes, the main theater is in the minds of the public, a psychological battle, if you will, and the terms as they have been set by the criminals & sycophants so far dictate a retaliation in kind. as in physics, force is offset by force. will this happen w/o a drastic catalyst, such as economic turmoil? i sure don't know. but truth and social justice are surely worthwhile objectives to maintain, no matter how futile or rigged the moment seems. and we can't know what's possible & we shouldn't let our darkest fears distract us from speaking truth. not to power, but friends, family & those who will think for themselves & listen. after all, people who can't think for themselves make a lousy jury & there may not be enough time to effect such a transition in everybody. the goal is to keep plugging ahead, being honest w/ ourselves. being real w/ others. billmon is a gifted writer and a critical thinker. many recognize that & appreciate it. from this audience knowledge thrives & expands. isn't that a good start?

Posted by: b real | Mar 25 2005 19:03 utc | 20

I cannot say why, but all this meditating on the sheer dread past of the U.S. has got me thinking that things are NOT getting worse these days. Rather, perhaps they have been gradually getting better to the point where we no longer take the fight to the purely doomed, but find that we have to fight each other. Yes I'm afraid. But logically, if genocide is in the blood of our culture, then we will have to bloody each other to come to the social decision give it up. I'm not at all cheery about this, but I'm beginning to feel the justice of it.

Billmon's coming to accept futility may be the best we can do, and may be much better than we have ever achieved before.

Posted by: citizen | Mar 25 2005 20:04 utc | 21

Futile?

C'est encore plus beau lorsque c'est inutile.

Posted by: Cyrano | Mar 25 2005 20:06 utc | 22

I agree with rapt and b real.

I am still struggling with how to express what I think and feel about events and "the system". I feel I have nothing insightful, useful or even original to say and yet the outrage I feel seems to demand an outlet. Maybe art, but as Anna Missed said to me, "political art is dicy." And he is right, who wants to hang on your wall - much less buy - something that vibrates outrage and sorrow, no matter how "pretty" or "cool" it looks? On the other hand, his "Ghost Rodeo" cheered me up, but again, does a reminder of Abu Ghraib and U.S. militarism help your state of mind or bring you peace?

Needless to say, I haven't yet found a healthy way of dealing with my feelings surrounding the Hell that Bushco is leading the world through.

Posted by: stoy | Mar 25 2005 20:31 utc | 23

Merci, Cyrano.

Posted by: Jérôme | Mar 25 2005 20:31 utc | 24

Miles Davis helps a little...

Posted by: stoy | Mar 25 2005 20:33 utc | 25

stoy--

No.

Like Billmon and HST, he helps a lot.

Posted by: RossK | Mar 25 2005 21:24 utc | 26

i am thankfull that through billmon i participate in a "matérialisme de la rencontre" & albert ayler gets me through these nights

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 25 2005 21:41 utc | 27

let's not forget the whiskey

Posted by: annie | Mar 25 2005 21:51 utc | 28

And don't it always to seem to go
You don't know what you've got til it's gone...

Reading Bilmon again is like taking a breath of air, breaking the surface, and not even realizing that you've been drowning, drowning...
There is a power in truth...and as we rage against the hypocrisy, lies, spin and propaganda, we need these breaths of cool, clean air to sustain our existance.
Oh, and make mine tequila, distilled in Mexico and I'll gladly swallow the worm if it means I can belly up to the bar...pass the lime. please.

Posted by: SME in Seattle | Mar 25 2005 22:06 utc | 29

Billmon, as always your writing is eloquent and on the mark. But I must disagree with you on one thing. The machine that we want to rage against is moving forward, but the people are slowly starting to come out of the slumber. Its just the msm that still perpetuates the illusion.

Boy Whore-o-shits sure is pissed about Billman's take on his actions. He even admits he has a "little red book." Billmon nailed his ass and he knows it.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 26 2005 1:45 utc | 30

i would like to ask comrade jdp, as i've asked billmon, to consider a rectification of terminology by dropping "msm" for what i believe to be a more accurate term, both connotatively and denotatively -

"corporate media"

Posted by: mistah charley | Mar 26 2005 4:25 utc | 31

to consider a rectification of terminology by dropping "msm" for what i believe to be a more accurate term, both connotatively and denotatively -

"corporate media"

Sorry charley, but that's just not accurate. It should be "fucking corporate media whores."

I'm glad to see Billmon back, and glad I got to be a barfly for a while. I'm very sad that the truth doesn't seem to matter anymore. It's nice to hear a sane voice from time to time.

And wicked funny that Billmon pissed Horowitz off. What a whiney wanker!

Posted by: fourlegsgood | Mar 26 2005 5:45 utc | 32

Great to see Billmon writing again and he really is good. But I want to add I also love Jérôme's and Bernhard's writing. Bernhard's satire is great as are his other posts and I am learning a lot from Jérôme's. So thank you to both of you!!!!!

Posted by: Fran | Mar 26 2005 7:16 utc | 33

fourlegsgood: agreed, but it plays badly among the wimpy fucking Americans for whom the use of naughty, forbidden words is so awful that it distracts them from the rest of the argument: see the debate on dKos every time someone uses emphatic language.

So perhaps around here we can agree on "fucking corporate media whores" and just use "corporate media" when there are children around.

Posted by: Colman | Mar 26 2005 8:27 utc | 34

Though speaking truth may seem to have little effect, so does one butterfly's wings in South America.

If the internets can plug up even just a bit of the memory hole today, who knows what tomorrow's weather may bring - perhaps the smell of freedom rather than the hollow ring of the word spoken by the inane, the venal and the mendacious.

Posted by: cavanaghjam | Mar 26 2005 9:09 utc | 35

Mistah Charley,

I agree msm is a little to light.

Fourlegsgood,

"fucking corporate media whores" is a little to heavy. Lets compromise and just use "corporate media whores". That has a nice ring and isn't to far over. I am sure all good christian parents have explained what a whore is. We must be somewhat, should I say, centrist. Ha, ha, ha.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 26 2005 14:05 utc | 36

I'm with cavanaghjam--

Case in Point - The Horowitz 'defense' to Billmon. The butterfly wing dust is on him now, as it is on Mr. Goldberg after Juan Cole hit back with truth, or Mr. Carlson after he was wing-hammered by Jon Stewart.


So ignore Billmon's pessimism. He's not back because of the monkey on his back or because he's learned to live with futility.

He's back because he knows.

Now, regarding strategy. Billmon bemoans the fact that truth alone is not enough.

As a result, he concludes that the only way to win is to have a better attack-prop machine.

This is the only place I disagree with him.

Because, as the discussion upthread points out, the way to get truth back on the table is to shame the fornicating corporate media whores into responding, on the record, to the truth.

In other words, we should focus our efforts on the out front Media shills and ignore the ever changing Horse's in the Rovian Racing Form for the time being.

The three examples listed above make it clear that this strategy will work if it is rigorous, concentrated and ceaseless.

And the added bonus?

This is the good, and maybe more important part. I believe that such a strategy would help embolden those in the corporate media that want to do right thing, people like Dana Milbank for example, to do exactly that.

Posted by: RossK | Mar 26 2005 15:17 utc | 37

Billmon is right. The repeated half truths of the corporate media whores that mouth the Rovian propaganda must be met with the same type of cultish thinking. We must hammer our spin home. The problem is, I believe our spin is truth. The economic raping of the US is the main point that needs hammered.

I have to hand it to Billmon, he took Whore-O-Shits and made mud of him. This thing is all over the internet, with Billmon even being mentioned in Newsweek. People on the right live by the lie. It reminds me of Jack Nicholson; "you can't handle the truth." That little shit Goldberg is a fly in the vasoline of life that will get flicked into the garbage in a attempt to save the rest of the ointment. His credibility is shit.

But, even a discredited Randal Terry has seen an opening in the Schiavo case and rose from the ashes. When we bury ideas they must be extinguished completely but they seem to be resurrected as new. As can be seen in the rising of Gilded Age ways in the US old ways die hard. These type of ideas catch up after a while but only after disaster. Even the right wing ideologue David Brooks is starting to have some common sense if only when it comes to Delay and the Cult of Terri. There may be a flicker of hope.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 26 2005 16:15 utc | 38

I'm with RossK. I don't want to see a left wing spin machine emerge to fight the right wing one that dominates today. The issue then becomes "who wins?" rather than what the truth is. I won't find a left wing Ann Coulter any more appealling than the right wing one we already have. The truth does matter even if it is on the losing side in this country today. One day, reality will reassert itself with a vengeance and survivors will then understand what it is and why it matters more clearly, and those who have been telling the truth all along will look like prophets. As the old saying goes, those who will not learn will be made to feel. This time, after what the US has been doing overseas and at home, it is really going to hurt.

As for the corporate media, I believe they are hopeless. They represent the wealthy and powerful and, to a greater or lesser degree, always have even when they were not as consolidated as they are today. What is new today is that the Edward R. Murrow's and the muckrakers have no voice in Big Media where most Americans are still "informed"; those voices have to go to the internet. (Thank you, Billmon.) Why? Because corporate profits now completely trump any notion of serving the public good. (The absurd legal fiction of corporate personhood has been an indispensable corporate ally in getting us to this point, but that is another story.) My hope is that the powerful will not be able to control information on the internet and that the proliferation of information sources there will eventually cut Big Media down to a manageable size when people finally realize whose interests they are really serving. Until that happens, stick with the unvarnished, unspun truth as best we can and be ready to change perspective if reality intrudes on our original beliefs. (I.e., commit to truth itself, not to our beliefs, but be aware of the beliefs that shape our understanding of what the truth is). You can't spin your way to lasting credibility.

Posted by: lonesomeG | Mar 26 2005 19:29 utc | 39

Lessons from history: How to make a criminal regime thrive

Posted by: History 101 (Revised) | Mar 26 2005 19:52 utc | 40

Billmon grand to hear your voice agin.

What the progressive left, not to mention the Democratic Party, needed weren’t dogged investigative reporters or eloquent bloggers or wiser candidates, what it needed were more skilled corporate propagandists, more trained information warfare specialists and more cunning, ruthless PR manipulators.

US corporations prefer dictatorships (e.g ME, etc.) to fragile democracies (Poland) and US foreign policy has a looong history of propping up ugly regimes to further its self-interest, as well as going to extraordinary lengths to destroy elected ‘socialist’ Gvmts and meddling in diverse places...all this is well known.

Ultimately, what is good for the goose, who is to be stuffed and roasted, turns out to be perfect for the gander as well. If an elite (corporate-military- industry-media-royal family) who holds absolute power is such a great thing in other countries..Inevitable that contamination should eventually take place. Double standards are sometimes hard to maintain!

That is the landscape - very compromised politically, and with an uninterested and confused public - in which the gradual neo-con coup took place. The neo-cons ate up the Republicans -who are just as much loosers here as the Democrats- with their emphasis on principles that looked somewhat like old-fashioned ‘liberalism’ (economic, the EU sense of liberalism), such as reducing taxes. They also cynically managed to co-opt the religionists (useful fundamentalism that blinds) clearly perceiving the potential danger of such grass roots established communities with consequent reach - churches are well organised. Now, they are trumping ‘democracy’ and freedom, sounding just like concerned Mom or Caviar softie-lefties (velvet, orange, cedar, tulip! revolutions, sound like the cover of a Deco Mag). Like chameleons, they can adopt whatever stance or image suits. Includin’ ethno-nationalism that flirts with fascism or authoritarian control - Patriot Acts! Informers! Travel bans! PC correctness tests for Academic staff! Yikes! Racism - towel heads are ugly and dangerous, sure. Evil is poised to attack -- there are terrorists everywhere.

Innovative and revolutionary, this peculiar stew of insane rationales seems to work. Or is working now.

A large majority of Americans (non-voters, other party voters, the AnybodyButBush crowd and Kerry supporters, who in my eyes were keen on Kerry principally because he was Bush’s opponent - I’d love to know roughly what % they all make together) didn’t want the Gvmt. they had, and now have again. They know things are not going right.

It was known long ago that it would be necessary to steal (yet another..) election.

The left cannot deal with all this. They can only watch while the US is turned into a third world country under dictatorship. They have no adversary to fight, no issues, no stands (or perhaps too many of them); so investigative reporters, smart bloggers, or worried progressive citizens can’t do anything much except provide an outlet or justification for feelings of opposition and fear.

What is needed (for ex.) is for people to go - go and demonstrate in front of jails where Muslims are held - go to an airport and massively support some person who is on the no-fly list - go to to the funeral of a suicided journalist (at least one thousand people), go to the school that expels a student who wrote non PC poetry; make demands, wave the Constitution. Etc.

But Americans don’t do this kind of thing any longer. They are afraid, and afraid to admit to their fear, as that would show they realise they are living in repressive and frightening semi-police State, similar to the USSR. That would impact their hubris and self-esteem. It is a confession they cannot make, a step they cannot take.

So they cannot act. No propaganda hacks can change that.

Posted by: Blackie | Mar 26 2005 20:14 utc | 41

Gawd Blackie!

That is the most depressing thing I have read in a long time.

I fear what you say is almost equally true in other countries as well. We may be slightly ahead in the US and that is probably a point of pride for some.

Posted by: dan of steele | Mar 26 2005 20:31 utc | 42

@Blackie I was in the streets of SF marching on March 19th, with people who cared enough to come out in the rain and wind (actually the sun came out just as the march started, but no one knew that would happen). OK, there were not enough of them. But they came out and marched, under the bored or disapproving stares of a large police presence. OK, some of them were boring old-Left sectarian ranters. But there were also college students terrified of the draft; labour unions; elderly folks from peace-loving church groups; black-bloc anarchist kiddies ironically all wearing the same uniform; and ordinary Joe and Jane Schmoe types. OK, it would be better if there were a march every single weekend. It would be better if there were a general strike. A lot of things would be better, a lot more is needed. But it is not quite yet as locked-down as you think. There were demonstrations and marches in about 800 US cities that weekend.

This is not yet a Soviet-style police state. We are perhaps on our way there -- seems like every country is either on its way towards or away from lockdown -- but we are not there yet, and there are some people who are willing to stand out in the rain with a protest sign, even while the cops ostentatiously take pictures and video.

The wingnuts have got us on the run, largely due to their control of the fake media. They are attacking on so many fronts at once (like good little revolutionary guerrillas which is of course what they think they are) that the energies of the Left are frantic and scattered, trying to repel the barbarians at a hundred gates all at once. But we are trying.

btw, I would like to remind those who are enjoying flinging the "whore" epithet around that the vast majority of the world's whores are young, poor people of colour who have very little choice about what they do; many are kept in captive or near-slave conditions. they get to keep, on average, less than a fifth of the money that they earn -- pimps or brothel owners take the rest. sometimes the prostitute gets nothing at all or -- like indentured labour the world over -- is kept in perpetual "debt" by being forced to pay grossly inflated prices for food, water, a room, costumes, prophylactics etc. the average age of entry into prostitution in the US and Canada is between 14 and 16 -- elsewhere in the world it is much younger. I don't find them a good metaphorical match to the rolling-in-dough corporate media... who remind me far more of pimps.

in the corporate media game, imho it is the viewing audience who fills the structural role of the whore -- sold over and over again by the pimp media to the advertisers and the media owners (pols and corporadoes). what do we think advertisers are paying for, after all? they are paying the pimp media gazillions of bucks for each 30 seconds of mindf*ck, for penetration of our brains through the orifices of our ears and eyes. and then, like pimps the world over, they tell us that we enjoy it.

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 26 2005 21:00 utc | 43

Why be so hard on whores? Whores are cool. They care for us in our hours of need--hours of needing sex within the context of a commercial transaction. Medias don't do this. Pouring their toxics into the echosystem, the best they can ever do--and it's nice to see them do this on occasion--is to clean up after the messes of their own making (by publishing the Pentagon Papers, for example). And when did a whore ever mess up an ecosystem? I mean, village elders only suppress whores when their spouses complain about the unfair competition: they keep the indoor peace by restraining the outdoor trade. I'm willing to bet that the best measure of a community's civility is the welcome it extends its whores, along with the scorn it visits upon its Puritans--those in the media being first and foremost..

And no, I'm not endorsing any traffic in sex-slaves.

Posted by: alabama | Mar 26 2005 22:05 utc | 44

Excellent exchange, DeA and Mr 'Bama, and of course Blackie who got it all going with a very insightful comment.

Thanks especially to Alabama who set us all straight on the true role of the whore in all this bullshit.

More later I hope.

Posted by: rapt | Mar 27 2005 0:49 utc | 45

Point taken re: those who make their living by selling their services....but I'll still take truth everytime over a better, more efficient attack-prop machine.

Posted by: RossK | Mar 27 2005 1:10 utc | 46

"The pimp media"...
"the pimp corporate media"...

and for riffing, "the mac-daddy media."

Yes.

Posted by: Citizen | Mar 27 2005 3:42 utc | 47

Thank you, De.

Posted by: Citizen | Mar 27 2005 3:43 utc | 48

Whether this or another text is the one to start the typhoon can never be known. Nor can it be known if the typhoon will ever start.

So all that remains is the question: do you want to live fighting or hiding?

Billmon,
if the belief that the struggle will not succeed is what keeps you writing, good for you. I agree that accepting defeat can be a rather liberating thing to do as you do no longer have to care about winning (and focusing on the big story), just about hurting the other side in this particular fight (and thus focusing here and now).

I have played some chess and I have played some people who were way better than me. I usually start playing better once I accept my defeat and just try to prevent my opponent from winning so fast. Sometimes I even win.

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Mar 27 2005 11:52 utc | 49

What Vicki said at 7:53AM. Soooo good. Reading Billmon is better.

Posted by: jawbone | Mar 27 2005 15:38 utc | 50

This is sort of blogwhorish, but I found Billmon's comments about speaking through quotations to be especially interesting and resonant in light of a recent little side-project begun by a couple of us dKos oldtimers/refugees (including kid oakland, awol, and myshkin) that takes a similar tack: putting the current political and cultural moment in dialogue with relevant chunks of text/art from the past, as a kind of (futile?) counterargument to the ahistorical, anti-intellectual Memory Hole into which America seems to have slipped.

If that sounds of interest to anybody, feel free to swing by and/or participate:

Cartel of Defiance

Posted by: WendellGee | Mar 27 2005 20:51 utc | 51


i thought that the citations of billmon were in the tradition of a sort of benjaminian project which in & of itself is both useful & an honourable way of fighting

unfortunately, what it presumes : culture, intelligence, memory, instincts, remembering, regret, remorse & other essential sensations seem to have completely dissapeared from the american landscape except for the odd piece of writing & of course the blogging resistance

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 27 2005 22:08 utc | 52

Benjamin, 1940:

The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the "state of emergency" in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that accords with this insight. Then we will clearly see that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against fascism. One reason fascism has a chance is that, in the name of progress, its opponents treat it as a historical norm.-The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are "still" possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge"-unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 27 2005 22:46 utc | 53

Rememberer and Slothrop--

Yeah, I think Billmon's quotational practice is absolutely engaged in an activist exploration of the Benjaminian Jetztzeit. Which is, I think, kind of what the crew over at Cartel of Defiance are up to as well, though in a somewhat informal, conversational way (and hopefully without smacking visitors over the head with hifalutin theoretical verbiage like "Jetztzeit." Or at least very often anyways).

I share Billmon's sense of exhaustion at the possibilities of direct, progressive, rationalist discourse in the current moment (one of the reasons I find myself posting on blogs like dKos much less these days), but I hold out naive hope that other modes of intellectual action (as well as, obviously, action in the "real" world) might still have constructive value. Even if only for a few.

Another way I like to think about it is, to paraphrase Auden's elegy for Yeats, "Blogging makes nothing happen." But it can still be "A way of happening, a mouth."

ps. I'll probably appropriate that Benjamin quote for posting over on Cartel, unless you feel like posting it yourself...

Posted by: WendellGee | Mar 27 2005 23:54 utc | 54

I'm glad he's back writing.

I don't subscribe to the view of futility. Witnessing is an appropriate function. Its effects are cumulative, slow maybe, but in the end run decisive.

Posted by: Ineluctable | Mar 30 2005 13:06 utc | 55

It took me a while to find this. But please don't quit. For me at least your blog is the candle in the darkness of the current climate. It gives me hope, as well as a different viewpoint from the usual swill around me.

Yes it looks hopeless, it looks like their isn't a future for any kind of accepting, scientific based rational system of getting things done--especially when compassion means giving freely without expecting something in turn.

Please keep up the writing.

Posted by: Elizabeth | Apr 20 2005 0:28 utc | 56

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