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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


Home of the Barking Moonbat


Monday, January 17, 2005

The Necessary Acts

I stopped by to see some friends on my way home today, hoping to catch up on the latest news and grab a cup of coffee for the road. The news wasn't so good --- some people who ran a desperately needed halfway house lost all of their funding and had to shut down. Meanwhile, our group is having more and more difficulty coming up with any kind of funding to repair the roofs of elders living in shacks, or find temporary housing for fire victims --- because the idea of household insurance in these parts is absurd, when you barely make enough to feed yourself --- or even help with food and shelter for those most desperately in need.

My friends, in fact --- an older couple on a fixed income --- spent last week looking high and low, going through all the necessary channels, trying to find enough money to help a local Indian kid pay tuition for his first year of college. They ended up withdrawing it from their own bank account and giving it to him because the funds just weren't available any other way.

They asked me if I'd noticed an unusual number of people walking the highways. In fact, I have. Those are our disabled --- our veterans of war and life --- whose funding has been slashed to the minimum --- and our homeless working poor who no longer have anywhere to go because our shelters are closing --- and our lost kids.

While the current political and economic circumstances impact everyone to at least some extent, their effects here have already come down hard and fast. And this is happening in an especially vulnerable area, a place of unusual beauty largely unknown to the rest of the world, a place inhabited by some of the last remnants of a significant part of this country's greatest heritage --- the real cowboys and real Indians.

But for all the lipservice paid to the cowboys and Indians, no one cares but us. And there is no one more desperate to stem the tide than us --- we're under virtual siege by agribusiness and the threat of suburban sprawl and wealthy vacationers from Texas in their cowboy hats from Dallas' finest stores and Indian outfits from the most chic boutiques in Sante Fe speeding down our twisty turny mountain roads in their shiny black Humvees. It's as though this were an imposed Depression carefully planned to clean us out so this can become a gated resort community for Texas oil barons --- the hillbilly Milagro Beanfield War.

We're scrambling here --- charitable groups, outreach organizations, community development organizations, families and friends, everyone is scrambling. This is a place where teachers keep closets full of shoes and coats and shirts and healthy snacks for those kids showing up without shoes and without having eaten since before the weekend.

And no one wants to talk about it. CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, not a one of them. Instead, we hear *cautiously optimistic* and *132,000 jobs added last month* and *the indicators are good* and all the other mumbo-jumbo conjured up economic hoodoo. It's meaningless. Completely meaningless. And it's lies.

So, when I got home today and turned the computer on and did my daily stroll through the blogosphere, the first thing I saw was the continuation of the WSJ/Kos/Armstrong scandal over at Kos: Elitism, The Right and Blogging. And this:

The people attacking the blogs on the left do not want people to sort out the information.  They do not want people without credentials presenting facts and arguments that haven't been vetted and neutered.  And they don't want a sense of democracy.  They want compliance.  

It's true. And it isn't by reading that I know it's true. It's by seeing with my own eyes the complete disconnect between what they claim and what really is.

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest puts it this way:

America's political elite live in an information bubble. It's like the Right has set up a "conventional wisdom machine" that is targeted at opinion leaders, legislators, their staffs and the circles they associate with. Heavily-funded right-wing organizations work to infiltrate their message into the information that these "leadership elite" receive. They achieve this in many ways. One way, of course, is that they have their very own bought-and-paid-for media outlets like Fox, the Washington Times, and most of AM radio. But they also have worked to get the more mainstream opinion leaders under their influence. Influential columnists and reporters receive large speaking fees from corporations and trade associations. They get free "retreats" where they learn about "market solutions." And everyone is certainly afraid of the shame and humiliation should they become the target of the character assassination machine. That acts as a powerful incentive to toe the line and reject "marginalized" information sources -- people like Scott Ritter and Michael Moore, constituents complaining about election fraud, and Progressive online news sources or blogs (those terrible things that leaked the exit polls) -- and stick to "credible" sources.


Marginalizing sources like blogs is one way to scare Washington types away from the info they contain. Reading blogs is a way to break through that bubble.

I know it seems a stretch to connect the happenings in this obscure little corner of the world with the smear on Kos and Armstrong and the bloggers and with the BushCo disinformation campaign. But it isn't.

You see, us here --- we'll be the first to go. If the draft is reinstated, our boys will be the first called up --- they're BushCo cannon fodder, servants to the Neocon agenda, nothing more, nothing less.

There's a reason there's so many teachers like me back here scrambling to save these guys. We know exactly what lies ahead for them.

The fragility of our economy means the first shocks of economic depression are already being felt here --- and not only by rising prices and fewer jobs, but the losses of HUD grants and community development funds and grants for charitable and cultural purposes, as this is an area which thrives on community and service.

The most difficult for me to accept, however, is the growing apathy and downright hatred for the kind of cultural and ethnic diversity which has always been the reason we are we, and you are you. Our cowboys and Indians --- no one wants to admit it, but truth is, this is, without a doubt, the last generation of them, unless something happens and happens fast. And our natural environment is in profound jeopardy. We are fortunate to possess some particularly unique ecosystems in this area, beautiful rivers and lakes and forests, and many, many, many varieties of endangered creatures. But not for long.

The blogs have given me reason to hope, however. Oh sure, I have friends and family who understand --- and people throughout this area are profoundly concerned. But it's been difficult to find any kind of understandng on a larger scale beyond the predatory gaze of the academics and the occasional reporter-slash-author looking for a good story and a promotion.

Through the blogs, however, I've found entire networks of people throughout the country whose concerns might vary somewhat from mine. But those concerns are rooted in exactly the same things. And the bloggers see what I see and fear what I fear.

I'm a person of tremendous optimism and strength --- it's very difficult to get me down. But, truth be known, before discovered the blogs, I was beginning to feel the worst kinds of despair. The situation here is fragile enough on its own --- add to that, however, the insanity of this adminstration and the stripping of our most basic rights and the horrors we're perpetuating in Iraq and elsewhere --- and it was all finally getting to be too, too much.

And it isn't something you can really discuss here. For as bad as it is for me, it's worse for most people I know. I sit in meetings with fullbloods carrying the last names of some of the most renowned --- and infamous --- Cherokees in history. As friends and as people, you won't find any better. But from time to time, I see in their eyes the knowledge that, for everything they hold inside of them, they're scared because they know that this is it. And I see flashes of the same thing in the eyes of the cowboys --- they may ride the most beautiful pony, perhaps that paint that they birthed themselves from the mother they birthed and that they raised and trained and fed, and when caught unawares, you can see it in their eyes --- this is it. It will be no more after them.

But maybe, just maybe, if the bloggers can stand tall against the monoliths --- maybe.


At 5:45 PM, Blogger MJ said...

I loved this post of yours. Right before I read it, as I was getting ready for work, I thought, "What if they take the internet away from us? Can they find a way to own that, too?" It is hard to know what action to take in this bizarre political landscape where Bush is like King Kong stomping around the globe.

A long time ago I thought so many things were possible. I thought I could go into "my" community and fight racism. Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography: "The negroes aren't the racists. Where the really sincere white people have to do their 'proving' of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America's racism really is - and that's in their own home communities; America's racism is among their own fellow whites. That's where the sincere whites who really mean to accomplish something have to work". And that is where I am - in the hornet's nest. It is not a pretty sight. (-:

But maybe the darkest hour really is before the dawn. Your blog gave me hope today, which is not my strongest suit.

I love this quote from Douglas Coupland: "In your old lives you had nothing to live for. Now you do. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Go clear the land for a new culture - bring your axes, scythes, and guns. I know you have the necessary skills - explosives, medicine, engineering, media knowledge, and the ability to camouflage yourselves. If you're not spending every waking moment of your life radically rethinking the nature of the world - if you're not plotting every moment boiling the carcass of the old order - then you're wasting your day. "

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Cookie said...

I've made jokes for years now about The Misinformation Highway. But I also honestly never understood the potential value of the internet, in terms of community building and the ability it gives us to get beyond the predigested disinformation campaigns.

Blogs got me through the first days of the invasion of Iraq. I can't even express how horrified I was --- but the news *as presented* refused to even touch on the absolutely glaringly obvious problems and immoralities of the whole thing. Before that, it was the whole intentional campaign to scare the bejesus out of all of us. Etc Etc Etc.

I'm now genuinely grateful for the blogs and for the internet.


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