Special Comment: Advertising terrorism
The key to terrorism is not the act — but the fear of the actSPECIAL COMMENT

By Keith Olbermann


Tonight, a special comment on the advertising of terrorism – the commercial you have already seen.

It is a distillation of everything this administration and the party in power have tried to do these last five years and six weeks.

It is from the Republican National Committee;

It shows images of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri;

It offers quotes from them—all as a clock ticks ominously in the background.

It concludes with what Zawahiri may or may not have said to a Pakistani journalist as long ago as 2001:  His dubious claim that he had purchased “suitcase bombs.”

The quotation is followed (by sheer coincidence no doubt) by an image of a massive explosion.

“These are the stakes,” appears on the screen, quoting exactly from Lyndon Johnson’s infamous nuclear scare commercial from 1964.

“Vote—November 7th.”

There is a cheap “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” quality to the whole thing, and it also serves to immediately call to mind the occasions when President Bush dismissed Osama bin Laden as somebody he didn’t think about—except, obviously, when elections were near.

Frankly, a lot of people seeing that commercial for the first time, have laughed out loud.

But—not everyone.

And therein lies the true threat to this country.

The dictionary definition of the word “terrorize” is simple and not open to misinterpretation:

“To fill or overpower with terror; terrify. To coerce by intimidation or fear.” 

Note please, that the words “violence” and “death” are missing from that definition.

The key to terror, the key to terrorism, is not the act—but the fear of the act.

That is why bin Laden and his deputies and his imitators are forever putting together videotaped statements and releasing virtual infomercials with dire threats and heart-stopping warnings.

But why is the Republican Party imitating them?

Bin Laden puts out what amounts to a commercial of fear; The Republicans put out what is unmistakable as a commercial of fear.

The Republicans are paying to have the messages of bin Laden and the others broadcast into your home.

Only the Republicans have a bigger bank roll. 

When, last week, the CNN network ran video of an insurgent in Iraq, evidently stalking and killing an American soldier, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mr. Hunter, Republican of California, branded that channel, quote, “the publicist for an enemy propaganda film” and that CNN used it “to sell commercials.”

Another California Republican, Rep. Brian Bilbray, called the video “nothing short of a terrorist snuff film.”

If so, Mr. Bilbray, then what in the hell is your Party’s new advertisement?

And Mr. Hunter, CNN using the video to “sell commercials”?


You have adopted bin Laden and Zawahiri as spokesmen for the Republican National Committee!

“To fill or overpower with terror; terrify. To coerce by intimidation or fear.”

By this definition, the people who put these videos together—first the terrorists and then the administration—whose shared goal is to scare you into panicking instead of thinking—they are the ones terrorizing you.

By this definition, the leading terrorist group in this world right now is al Qaida.

But the leading terrorist group in this country right now is the Republican Party.

Eleven Presidents ago, a chief executive reassured us that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

His distant successor has wasted his administration insisting that there is nothing we can have but fear itself.

The vice president, as recently as this month, was caught campaigning with the phrase “mass death in the United States.”

Four years ago it was the now-Secretary of State, Dr. Rice, rationalizing Iraq with “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

Days later Mr. Bush himself told an audience that “we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

And now we have this cheesy commercial—complete with images of a faked mushroom cloud, and implications of “mass death in America.”

This administration has derived benefit and power from terrorizing the very people it claims to be protecting from terror.

It may be the oldest trick in the political book: scare people into believing they are in danger and that only you can save them.

Lyndon Johnson used it to bury Barry Goldwater.

Joe McCarthy leaped from obscurity on its back.

And now the legacy has come to President George Bush.

Of course, the gruel of fear is getting thinner and thinner, is it not, Mr. President?

And thus more and more of it needs to be made out of less and less actual terror.

After last week’s embarrassing Internet hoax about ‘dirty bombs’ at football stadiums, the one your Department of Homeland Security immediately disseminated to the public, a self-described “former CIA operative” named Wayne Simmons, cited the fiasco as “the, and I mean the, perfect example of the President’s Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the NSA terrorist eavesdropping program – how vital they are.”

Frank Gaffney, once a respected assistant secretary of defense and now the president of something called the Center for Security Policy, added, “one of the things that I hope Americans take away from this, is not only that they’re gunning for us not just in a place like Iraq—but truly, worldwide.”

Of course, the “they” to which Mr. Gaffney referred, turned out to be a lone 20-year-old grocery bagger from Wisconsin named Jake—a kid, trying to one-up some other loser in an Internet game of chicken.

His “threat,” referenced seven football stadiums at which dirty bombs were to be exploded yesterday. It began with the one in New York City – even though there isn’t one in New York City. And though the attacks were supposed to be simultaneous, four of the games were scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET and the others at 4 p.m. ET.

More over, the kid said he’d posted the identical message on 40 websites since September.

We caught him in “merely” about six weeks, even though the only way he could have been less subtle, less stealthy, and less of a threat was if he’d bought an advertisement on the Super Bowl broadcast.

Mr. Bush, this is the—what? – 100th plot your people have revealed, that turned out to be some nonsensical misunderstanding, or the fabrications of somebody hoping to talk his way off a water board in Eastern Europe?

If, Mr. President, this is the kind of crack work that your new ad implies that only you and not the Democrats can do, you, sir, need to pull over and ask for directions.

The real question of course, Mr. Bush, is why did your Department of Homeland Security even release this information in the first place?

It was never a serious threat. Even the first news accounts quoted a Homeland spokesman as admitting “strong skepticism”—the kind of strong skepticism which most government agencies address before telling the public, not afterwards.

So that leaves two options, Mr. President.

The first option: you and your department of Homeland Security don’t have the slightest idea what you’re doing. Thus, contrary to your flip-flopping between saying “we’re safe” and saying “but we’re not safe enough,” and contrary to the vice president’s swaggering pronouncements about the lack of another attack since 9/11, the last five years has been just an accident.

Or there’s the second option: your political operatives leaked this nonsense for the same reason your political operatives put out that commercial—to scare the gullible.

Obviously the correct answer, Mr. Bush, is all of the above.

There are some of us who could forgive you for trying to run your candidates on the coattails of the Grim Reaper, for reducing your party’s existence to “Death and Attacks Us.”

It’s cynical and barbaric.

But, after all, it may be merely the natural extension of the gutter politics to which you have subscribed since you sidled over from baseball, and the business world of other people’s money.

But to forgive you for terrorizing us, we would have to believe you somehow competent in keeping others from doing so.

Yet, last week, construction workers repairing a subway line in New York City, were cleaning out an abandoned manhole on the edge of the World Trade Center site, when they stumbled on to the impossible:  human remains from 9/11.

Bones and fragments.

Eighty of them.

Some as much as a foot long.

The victims had been lying, literally in the gutter, for five years and five weeks.

The families and friends of each of the 2,749 dead—who had been grimly told in May of 2002 that there were no more remains to be found—were struck anew as if the terrorism of that day had just happened again.

And over the weekend they’ve found still more remains.

And now this week will be spent looking in places that should have already been looked at a thousand times five years ago.

For all the victims in New York, Mr. Bush—the living and the dead—it’s a touch of 9/11 all over again.

And the mayor of this city, who called off the search four-and-a-half years ago is a Republican.

The governor of this state with whom he conferred is a Republican.

The House of Representatives, Republican.

The Senate, Republican.

The President, Republican.

And yet you can actually claim that you and you alone can protect us from terrorism?

You can’t even recover our dead from the battlefield—the battlefield in an American city—when we’ve given you five years and unlimited funds to do so!

While signing a Military Commissions Act so monstrous that it has been criticized by even the John Birch Society, you told us, Mr. Bush, “there is nothing we can do to bring back the men and women lost on September 11th, 2001. Yet we’ll always honor their memory, and we will never forget the way they were taken from us.”

Except, of course, for the ones who’ve been lying under a manhole cover for five years.

Setting aside the fact that your government has done nothing else for those five years but pat yourselves on the back about terror, while waging pointless war on the wrong enemy in Iraq, and waging war on the cherished freedoms in America;

Just on this subject of counter-terrorism, sir, yours is the least competent government, in time of crisis, in this country’s history!

“These are the stakes,” indeed, Mr. President.

You do not know what you are doing.

And the commercial—the one about which Zawahiri might say “hey, pretty good—we love your choice of font style”?

All that need further be said is to add three words to Shakespeare.

Mr. President, you, and that advertisement of terror, are full of sound and fury—signifying (and competent at) nothing.

Currently reading :
Leni Riefenstahl: A Life
By Jurgen Trimborn
Release date: By 23 January, 2007

A response to the Bush Secret Service article going around…

Okay – this will probably get me dropped by one or two folks but nevertheless, here we go.

Below and between the asterisks you will find an article that has been making the rounds in the Truth Movement. I received it about 5 times today. If you have not read it, please do. IF YOU HAVE READ IT, please skip to my response at the bottom.

I really do understand the impulse to jump on this sort of thing and shout “police state, police state!” etc. But, well, read my response.


—————– Bulletin Message —————–
Thanks to: RoadRunner Legal Enemy Combatant
Date: Oct 14, 2006 12:19 PM

If you had any doubt, any thought that you were just TOO paranoid, let this dispell those doubts. Big Brother IS watching and much more evidently.

Credible threat? Feds question teen over Web page
By LAUREL ROSENHALL and RYAN LILLIS – The Sacramento Bee – 10/14/06
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The latest Sacramento resident to be questioned by federal agents for threatening President Bush is a 14-year-old girl with a heart on her backpack and braces on her teeth, a freckle-nosed adolescent who is passionate about liberal politics and cute movie stars.

Her name is Julia Wilson, and she learned a vivid civics lesson Wednesday when two Secret Service agents pulled her out of biology class to ask about comments and images she posted on MySpace.

Beneath the words ”Kill Bush,” Wilson posted a cartoonish photo-collage of a knife stabbing the hand of the President. It was one of a few images Wilson said she used to decorate an anti-Bush Web page she moderated on MySpace, the social networking Web site that is hugely popular among teenagers.

The Secret Service refused to answer questions about the case or even confirm an investigation. Eric Zahren, a Secret Service spokesman, said the agency does not discuss its work ”due to the sensitivity of our mission.”

But Wilson’s mother, Kirstie Wilson, and an assistant principal at McClatchy High said two agents showed them badges stating they were with the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security.

Federal law prohibits making true threats against the President, and Julia and her parents say what she did was wrong.

The couple are disturbed however, that federal agents questioned a child at school — without her parents present. And First Amendment lawyers question whether the Secret Service over-reacted to a 14-year-old’s comments on a Web site made for casual socializing.

”I don’t condone what she did but it seems a little over the top to me,” said Julia’s father, Jim Moose. ”You’d think they could look at the situation and determine that she’s not a credible threat.”

Here is how Julia Wilson’s family tells their story:

Two Secret Service agents arrived at their home around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon, Kirstie Wilson said. They told her they wanted to speak with her daughter about threats to the President that she had posted on MySpace.

”She was in molecular biology and I said I really didn’t want to take her out of class for this,” Kirstie Wilson said. ”I said I’d make sure she came right home from school.”

She asked the agents to come back in an hour, and they left.

Then Wilson sent her daughter a text message instructing her to come straight home from school.

”… there are two men from the secret service that want to talk with you. Apparently you made some death threats against president bush. Dont worry youre not going to jail or anything like that but they take these things very seriously these days,” Kirstie Wilson wrote.

”Are you serious!?!? omg. Am I in a lot of trouble”? her daughter replied, using common text message shorthand for ”Oh my god.”

Kirstie Wilson called her husband. While they were on the phone, she received another text message from her daughter: ”They took me out of class.”

It was a 15- to 20-minute interview, Julia said. Agents asked her about her father’s job, her e-mail address, and her social security number. They asked about the MySpace page she had created last year as an eighth-grader at Sutter Middle School.

”I told them I just really don’t agree with Bush’s politics,” Julia said Thursday. ”I don’t have any plans of harming Bush in any way. I’m very peaceful, I just don’t like Bush.”

The MySpace page under question was a group page, similar to an online club.

OH MY GOD! The Brownshirts are here. It is NOT a threat but a reality.





[I’ve omitted the name of the first person I addressed this letter to so they don’t have to take my heat.]

You know I saw this story coming at least a year ago. And the sad part is I’m sort of on the side of the Secret Service.

In case it needs saying – I despise this administration, everyone still working for it and all of its policies, foreign & domestic.

But “zero tolerance” is really the only way to handle that job. If it was a President we liked (or, at least could tolerate) I’d want them to be just as zealous.

And making a teenage girl cry for a couple of minutes for threatening the life of the President (or anybody for that matter) isn’t like tossing her in Gitmo and taking away her habeus rights.

It’s actually a rare example of a “measured” response. Fifteen minutes to check on a presidential death threat is serious slack compared to what these guys CAN do.

Another example I might give was I deleted some IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE song from my page for advocating the same thing. I understand the impulse to write those songs but if you give it a platform it looks like “advocacy” to the Secret Service and I like the idea of being able to fly when I want to.

This might seem like “caving in” to pressure but not having your life threatened is a basic human right that I’m even willing to say Bush deserves. But just barely – and only on a technicality.

– Dannelke

Fireinacrowdedtheatre, PA.

Currently reading :
Diogenes The Cynic: The War Against The World
By Luis E. Navia
Release date: By 30 July, 2005

Everytime he let’s loose with one of these I expect the picture to turn to snow and then the MSNBC logo to pop up with some horrible muzak in the background. Or, just a big blinking eye. Amazingly that failed to happen once again.

I’m sure the YouTube video will be along any moment, or is already making the rounds – but here’s the text. I like words. Words are important. Twenty years from now Keith’s tie will look dated or silly but these words will still resonate. That is of course if we can still find them.

– Dannelke


‘Beginning of the end of America’
Olbermann addresses the Military Commissions Act in a special comment
By Keith Olbermann

We have lived as if in a trance.

We have lived as people in fear.

And now—our rights and our freedoms in peril—we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our American legacy.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have been here before—and we have been here before led here—by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.

We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use those acts to jail newspaper editors.

American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote about America.

We have been here when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he disparaged as “Hyphenated Americans,” most of whom were guilty only of advocating peace in a time of war.

American public speakers, in American jails, for things they said about America.

And we have been here when President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that Executive Order 9066 was necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use that order to imprison and pauperize 110,000 Americans while his man in charge, General DeWitt, told Congress: “It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen—he is still a Japanese.”

American citizens, in American camps, for something they neither wrote nor said nor did, but for the choices they or their ancestors had made about coming to America.

Each of these actions was undertaken for the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And each was a betrayal of that for which the president who advocated them claimed to be fighting.

Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and Sedition Acts erased.

Many of the very people Wilson silenced survived him, and one of them even ran to succeed him, and got 900,000 votes, though his presidential campaign was conducted entirely from his jail cell.

And Roosevelt’s internment of the Japanese was not merely the worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology from the government of the United States to the citizens of the United States whose lives it ruined.

The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

In times of fright, we have been only human.

We have let Roosevelt’s “fear of fear itself” overtake us.

We have listened to the little voice inside that has said, “the wolf is at the door; this will be temporary; this will be precise; this too shall pass.”

We have accepted that the only way to stop the terrorists is to let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists.

Just the way we once accepted that the only way to stop the Soviets was to let the government become just a little bit like the Soviets.

Or substitute the Japanese.

Or the Germans.

Or the Socialists.

Or the Anarchists.

Or the Immigrants.

Or the British.

Or the Aliens.

The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And, always, always wrong.

“With the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”

Wise words.

And ironic ones, Mr. Bush.

Your own, of course, yesterday, in signing the Military Commissions Act.

You spoke so much more than you know, Sir.

Sadly—of course—the distance of history will recognize that the threat this generation of Americans needed to take seriously was you.

We have a long and painful history of ignoring the prophecy attributed to Benjamin Franklin that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

But even within this history we have not before codified the poisoning of habeas corpus, that wellspring of protection from which all essential liberties flow.

You, sir, have now befouled that spring.

You, sir, have now given us chaos and called it order.

You, sir, have now imposed subjugation and called it freedom.

For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And — again, Mr. Bush — all of them, wrong.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has said it is unacceptable to compare anything this country has ever done to anything the terrorists have ever done.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has insisted again that “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws and it’s against our values” and who has said it with a straight face while the pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and the stories of Waterboarding figuratively fade in and out, around him.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who may now, if he so decides, declare not merely any non-American citizens “unlawful enemy combatants” and ship them somewhere—anywhere — but may now, if he so decides, declare you an “unlawful enemy combatant” and ship you somewhere – anywhere.

And if you think this hyperbole or hysteria, ask the newspaper editors when John Adams was president or the pacifists when Woodrow Wilson was president or the Japanese at Manzanar when Franklin Roosevelt was president.

And if you somehow think habeas corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an “unlawful enemy combatant”—exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this attorney general is going to help you?

This President now has his blank check.

He lied to get it.

He lied as he received it.

Is there any reason to even hope he has not lied about how he intends to use it nor who he intends to use it against?

“These military commissions will provide a fair trial,” you told us yesterday, Mr. Bush, “in which the accused are presumed innocent, have access to an attorney and can hear all the evidence against them.”

“Presumed innocent,” Mr. Bush?

The very piece of paper you signed as you said that, allows for the detainees to be abused up to the point just before they sustain “serious mental and physical trauma” in the hope of getting them to incriminate themselves, and may no longer even invoke The Geneva Conventions in their own defense.

“Access to an attorney,” Mr. Bush?

Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift said on this program, Sir, and to the Supreme Court, that he was only granted access to his detainee defendant on the promise that the detainee would plead guilty.

“Hearing all the evidence,” Mr. Bush?

The Military Commissions Act specifically permits the introduction of classified evidence not made available to the defense.

Your words are lies, Sir.

They are lies that imperil us all.

“One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks,” you told us yesterday, “said he hoped the attacks would be the beginning of the end of America.”

That terrorist, sir, could only hope.

Not his actions, nor the actions of a ceaseless line of terrorists (real or imagined), could measure up to what you have wrought.

Habeas corpus? Gone.

The Geneva Conventions? Optional.

The moral force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.

These things you have done, Mr. Bush, they would be “the beginning of the end of America.”

And did it even occur to you once, sir — somewhere in amidst those eight separate, gruesome, intentional, terroristic invocations of the horrors of 9/11 — that with only a little further shift in this world we now know—just a touch more repudiation of all of that for which our patriots died — did it ever occur to you once that in just 27 months and two days from now when you leave office, some irresponsible future president and a “competent tribunal” of lackeys would be entitled, by the actions of your own hand, to declare the status of “unlawful enemy combatant” for — and convene a Military Commission to try — not John Walker Lindh, but George Walker Bush?

For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And doubtless, Sir, all of them—as always—wrong.
© 2006 MSNBC

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15321167/

It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be
unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.
– G.K. Chesterton,
essayist and novelist (1874-1936)


Most days I consider turning on the television to be an act of defeatism. If I'm conscious surely there must be sometning better to do with my time then sucking at the great Glass Teats of pop culture consumerism (the left one) and crypto-fascist propaganda (the right one.) In case you were wondering.
 But Saturday Night at around 8PM East Coast time, at least three stars were in allignment in the phosphor-dot heavens and they yielded up in rapid succesion these three choices…

 First on CNN we had;

 CNN Presents: Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown: "Dead Wrong" looks at what went wrong with U.S. prewar intelligence. What that blunder means for U.S. credibility.

Two not so curious Georges

What's sad and pehaps a little strange about that link up there is if you hit it [don't bother] it takes you to an advertisement for "Dirt Track Warriors" and a sub-leased ad box for buying American flags. HOWEVER, off to one side you can find a link to CNN transcripts of their special news shows and this will yield the entire show in text form. I commend this to your interest. Very disturbing reading – and viewing.

Transcript for DEAD WRONG

This show was critical enough that all by itself it gave me some hope. Of course it was run on the weekend when news viewing is at its lowest ebb, but they did at least show it.

 I am, however, at heart a weak man, and once a remote is in my hands and a commercial is on I am no better than the rest of you. I flip around. I surf. Sue me. So I toggled on up to my favorite fallback channel – and Tony Soprano's – the History Channel, and they were showing THE FOG OF WAR.





I don't want to patronize anybody who has not yet seen this film, but do please get this under your belt at your earliest convenience. It is a fascinating study of a man sliding down the slippery slope of history and U.S. Imperialism.

FOG OF WAR official website

The IMDB Fog of War page

 So now I'm deeply conflicted. I had already seen this documentary but it's a great one and I felt myself getting sucked in. Back on CNN I have a modern day documentary about the failure of U.S. Intelligence and how it has taken us into this folly of Iraq and our fallback strategy of "nation building" – as though "nation building" was EVER a stated reason for going into Iraq to begin with.

 Thankfully [!] a commercial came up and I forgot what I was doing and I switched over to the AMC channel instead of back to CNN where I meant to go – and what to my wondering eyes should appear but the last hour of APOCALYPSE NOW.  A perfect cinematic explication of the consequences of failed intelligence and failed perceptions of cultural interventionism.


Who watches the watchmen? 


Sure, Charley here has a mission. He is the straw man.
He is the guy the people standing in the lobbies of the C.I.A. and the Pentagon send to take out the guy building the bamboo cages. Fair enough.

But who is building the bamboo cages?
Could it be us?


ALL that you can be. 


and don't forget "our man" on the ground,
good old Colonel Kurtz.




So now all you have to do is slap on the DOORS singing THIS IS THE END and lay back on the couch and keep hitting the buttons.

 CNN/Bush/intelligence failure/History Channel/McNamara/intelligence failure/AMC Movie Channel/Pentagon/Kurtz/Intelligence failure…

 over and over and over.

"Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."

        – George Santayana



Henry Rollins


Henry has his good media days and his bad media days but mostly I can get behind Rollins. Here, is Henry having a VERY good day at the expense of someone who deeply deserves AT LEAST this level of humiliation.




Ann Coulter

“My only regret with Timothy McVeigh
is he did not go to the New York Times Building.”
– Ann Coulter

“Liberal soccer moms are precisely as likely
to receive anthrax in the mail as to
develop a capacity for linear thinking.”
– Ann Coulter

“Being nice to people is, in fact, one of the incidental tenets of Christianity (as opposed to other religions whose tenets are more along the lines of ‘kill everyone who doesn’t smell bad and doesn’t answer to the name Mohammed’).”
– Ann Coulter  March 4th, 2004

“I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo.”
Ann Coulter column – December 21, 2005

“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders
and convert them to Christianity.”
– Ann Coulter  (September 13th, 2001)




Outfoxed – Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism

and while I’m here, check this out if you haven’t already…


A Documentary



 Dan Simmons

  Ladies and gentleman -I think Dan Simmons might be the sanest, smartest, most clear thinking, far-seeing, astute person on the planet right now. Here are two VERY LONG essays about geopolitics and the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism that I think make the case as well as it can be made. Go to the bathroom, grab your self a cup of coffee and read this;


As you might imagine, even on a personal website dedicated to Dan's FICTION that essay went off with about the same force as one of those personal instant martyrdom kits set off in a disco or outdoor cafe. HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of messages to his board – which has never seen that kind of traffic before. Even I got into the act with these two tangential posts;


For a solid 24 hours I've not been able to stop thinking about Dan's April essay. Been sending it around and linking it and forwarding it something fierce.

Like a great Socratic discussion, or some well thought out polemic, this is one of those rare gifts that just keeps on giving. I even printed out a copy to show my bartender since, unlike homeless people in Joe Kurtz novels, my bartender doesn't have Internet access.

Still waiting to hear from a few of my European and ex-pat friends but the initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Naysayers have mostly made the point that Islam doesn't have the organized military might to to actually knock over Western Culture. I hope they're right – I suspect they're right – but the argument that things could get a whole lot worse before they get even a little bit better is certainly compelling – and frightening.

Perhaps the biggest "what if?" in all of these scenarios is oil. With dependence on this product comes inevitable middle-eastern imperialist meddling. We just keep whacking the hornets nest that we've mistaken for a bees nest full of honey. Without that energy focus we're free to accelerate progress on so many fronts so fast it becomes a different ball game.

The thing that made me smile was this. If Dan were a Fundamentalist Cleric there would be no "forum" of any kind here and we would not have the freedom to debate what he "meant" by all of this.

Thankfully, he's a writer instead.

– Barney Dannelke (4/7/06)


Context note – I wrote this earlier this morning as a response to someone who is another regular poster on Harlan Ellison's forum, The Art Deco Pavillion. Realized I might as well slap it up here as it's about as close to an expansion of my thoughts on the new Simmons essay/message as I'm likely to come up with. Hope the formatting sticks.


Now that I'm registered over there on the Simmons site I may post more about other things – eventually – but those few paragraphs I wrote yesterday kind of sum up all I had to say about Dan's message. I think that it's brilliant that it sits there like an artifact without specific preamble of purpose. It forces you to wrestle with it and that's fine but it's not really something resolvable.

 Stepping back from theology and oil and the the middle east and geopolitics – stepping WAY THE HECK BACK – I've started to worry about some of the more fundamental numbers. I'm at that point now that Harlan Ellison was at when I first met him. I'm in my middle forties and I'm starting to suspect that some vast unknowable percentage of the population just doesn't know anything about anything. Dan talks about the American Vacation From History and that feels very right on some level, but there is a another level to the game where you sometimes feel like you've wandered into Pohl and Kornbluth's THE MARCHING MORONS. Theoretically we have lots of technology to teach people – fill in the blanks, prioritize as you see fit. But more often every day I get the terrifying impression that it's just not sticking. And I live in the Northeast surrounded by colleges and college towns. I know it's Allentown, PA and not Princeton, NJ but still.

 Then I start projecting outward. Planet population of what, 7 billion? What percentage of that number is below the age of 30? Below 20? Below 10? Forget Atlas Shrugged fantasies and religious apocalypse scenarios. People are not birds or fish who get most of what we need to survive and thrive hardwired into them. Our quality of life is predicated on a certain percentage of the population being around and able to pass knowledge on to the next generation in sufficient quantity to sustain and expand and enrich that culture. The Dan Simmons essay sort of focuses on the idea of a culture being toppled. With luck and perseverance that may be a logistical problem too big for outside forces with few resources beyond willing "martyrs" and C-4 to accomplish. But severe structural collapse from within? I'm less confident every year that this can be avoided. I sell books for a living. I see where they ship to and what the percentages are. I see an entire generation of college kids reading what I was reading in junior high school and I'm not a real smart guy – as my poor proofreading skills will attest. But these kids are "topping out" at Vonnegut and Alice Walker and Harper Lee. These are fine writers but I would submit hardly "difficult" writers. Many, hell, most of my good high end text books are getting shipped directly overseas.

When you post a few hundred books a week and you realize you could make a little more money by aiming lower and possibly a lot more money by aiming a lot lower it starts to pray on you mind.

I really hope that I'm wrong and I'm just beginning to lapse into "hey you kids, get off my lawn!" mode. That would be ok. Not fun, but tolerable. But if we're literally going to drown in our own uneducated, well then Dan doesn't have to be right about much before things are going to start sucking pretty hard and most of the time.

– Barney Dannelke (04/09/06)


 Now I'm not "ashamed" of those posts although the second one strays pretty far off the topic, but then Dan Simmons issued his first follow-up post to a "Monthly Message From Dan" essay ever and contrasted or juxtaposed or which ever way you might read these, my stuff looks like very weak tea indeed.

 Go get another cup of coffee. Here's Dan again – the smartest and possibly scariest essayist on the planet this week.


and since I can't imagine my few readers bothering to register at Dan's site just to wade through his discussion forums – here is the Simmons follow-up to the May/June essay which addresses some thoughts about how the world has been conducting war for approximately the last 150 years and for perhaps far longer…


Dan writes;

Dan Simmons comments —

I would suggest that both 20th Century World Wars began under the umbrella of "Clausewitzean logic" — which is still the logic used by most nation states to define, protect, and extend their national interests — but both wars evolved (devolved?) over a period of about four years of ferocious fighting into that most terrible of modern obscenities — Total War.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — as well as the incendiary attacks on such cities as Dresden and Tokyo (in which more civilians died than in the atomic bombings) — were strategically defensible, but only under the encroaching doctrines of Total War in which all of the resources and efforts of nation-states are given over to a conflict in which the stakes are nothing less than national or civilizational survival. The American Civil War may have given us the first glimpse of how all modern technological warfare will slide progressively toward Total War within about four years of absolute conflict and of how, in Total War, all earlier thoughts of chivalry, fairness, "rules of war," and care for civilian welfare is either abandoned completely or severely limited for the duration.

Citing American (and British) fire-bombings in Europe in WWII (a function as much of poor targeting technology as of policy) and the atomic bombings in Japan as "war crimes" is technically correct and morally unhelpful, if not actively irrelevant. The easy pejorative has to ignore the entire context of the conflicts, who began them and for what motivations, as well as the almost inevitable reasons all sides moved toward Total War during the course of the struggle.

Visiting the Hiroshima Peace Shrine is a sobering experience in more ways than one. To read most of the literature and display signs there, one is given to believe that the atomic bombing came out of the blue sky as if it were a natural disaster, some inexplicable evil force, or Godzilla rising from the waves. I could find little sense there of Imperial Japan's culpability in beginning a World War that would bring all the opposing nation-states to cross the threshold to Total War within four years of global conflict. And there is no doubt whatsoever as to whether atomic weapons would have been used earlier and with equal or much greater disregard to civilian casualties if it had been Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan that had won the race to design such weapons.

I would suggest that much of the Time Traveler's fury in his discussion with the resident of 2005-2006 came from his role as witness to what Total War could mean in a long 21st Century civilizational war between extreme Islam (perhaps allied with non-Islamic totalitarian states also dedicated to the destruction of the West or, like 1941 Japan, simply following "Clausewitzean logic" toward short-term imperial goals that would doom us all to Total War) and the surviving western democracies. — DS (05/17/06)