Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Now We Are Four

When I started Sardonicky four years ago, I was still on fairly friendly terms with Democrats. This blog, in the beginning, was only a slightly more leftist version of the Daily Kos. I was part of the crowd that largely bought into the myth that GOP bad, Lesser Evilism at least slightly good part of the time. I did my fair share of lazy-blogger Republican bashing and preaching to the liberal choir because it was fun and easy. I got tons of comments agreeing with me. My very first blog post was on -- who else? -- the snark magnet named Sarah Palin. In honor of Sardonicky's birthday, I am reprinting it below.

I actually cringed today when I reread one my earliest posts in which I defended neoliberal shill Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I called her "a breath of fresh air."  And as a result, I got lots of "you go, girl!" type of comments. But if the old saying "you live, you learn" is a truism, then "you blog, you get an education whether you want one or not" is a close relative.

I have become radicalized over the last four years, thanks to this blog and the hard thinking that it has forced me to do. It took me awhile, but eventually I realized that the two-party system is a sham and the neoliberalism it represents is a clear and present danger to all of us. Quite a few of my earlier readers abandoned this site in disgust, particularly during the 2012 presidential campaign.

Blogging requires lots of research and lots of facing of inconvenient truths, lots of reading beyond the New York Times, lots of closer reading of the New York Times to discover just how the language of propaganda actually works. It was that original scholar of propaganda, Edward Bernays, who wrote, way back in 1928, that at least half of all front page Times stories consist of government and corporate propaganda. Key words: at least.

Cutting through the crap and parsing the language of deceit and examining how words are used as tools of economic, social and political control has become my main area of interest.

***

My first post here, titled "Out, Out Damned Spot" was written in the wake of the mass shooting that wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and for which Sarah Palin attracted much outrage because of her infamous electoral "crosshairs"  website graphic, leading her to release a web video accusing her detractors of "blood libel."
Blaming Sarah Palin for the Tucson Massacre is just as unfair as blaming Lady Macbeth for the mayhem at Inverness Castle.  All these two maligned ladies did was lay out the weapons: Sarah, her cross-hair graphics and Lady M, a few carelessly placed daggers.  Subtle hints do not a murderess make.
Along with their histrionics and lust for power, both women have a fixation with blood. Palin, subdued from her usual frenzied harangues, looked like a robot on tranquillizers  as she Youtubed herself into the queen of the martyrs and the victim of “blood libel” of the biased liberal lamestream punditocracy.  To give her credit, I doubt she knows the anti-Semitic origin of the phrase, but the blood part likely was what appealed to her.  And Lady Mac was  totally obsessed with blood, even to the point of sleepwalking and being unable to wash the imaginary stains from her hands. Sarah, of course, also had difficulty scrubbing her website clean of the infamous Cross-Hairs map.  It had already gone viral all over cyberspace. “Out, out damned cache!” could be heard echoing through the valley, according to Wasilla lore.
The Lady Sarah really doth protest too much, methinks, and all the sanguineous references in the world can’t mask the fact that this anti-mother/mama grizzly has ice water running through her veins and a stony heart totally lacking in the warmth of human kindness.
On a somewhat related note to this little retrospective, I'll also include my comment to today's column by David Brooks, who somewhat uncharacteristically showcases famed leftist writer Ursula Le Guin's cautionary tale Those Who Walk Away From Omelas. It recounts a Utopia predicated on people enjoying life due to the imprisonment of a scapegoat; a child in a basement. The story is along the same lines of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery.(I've included a link to a recent speech by Le Guin; it's a must-watch). As is usual for Brooks, though, he writes a book report or presents a fictional scenario, and then fails utterly to condemn its real-life parallels. So I did:
Rousseau's social contract inspiring Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité has tragically devolved into the Gospel According to Ayn Rand. It's every rich man for himself. 
Every plutocrat alive thrives not on the suffering of one child in the basement, but on the suffering of the whole planet. In today's neoliberal world, only the Market is free, while everywhere human beings are in social, economic and political chains.
In the USA, one child in four lives in poverty. One in thirty is homeless. And according to polls, the majority of us are also fine with torture and even sanguine about the drone strikes that kill innocent children. 
Ursula Le Guin gave a wonderful speech last month at the National Book Awards, and challenged her fellow writers to "remember freedom." If the Enlightenment spelled doom to the divine right of kings, she said, then we can achieve a modern Enlightenment spelling doom to the hellish right of capitalists. Or, as Theodore Roosevelt dubbed them, "the malefactors of great wealth."
Fear is the enemy of literary freedom. The PEN human rights organization reports that more writers are actually self-censoring because of the chilling effect of government surveillance. We, whose Bill of Rights prides itself on freedom of speech, now rank a low 46th in press freedoms. 
We can either enlighten ourselves, start thinking outside of ourselves, start treating this planet with respect and dignity, or we might as well forget about existing at all.

15 comments:

annenigma said...

Happy 4th birthday, Karen G. Sardonicky!

Thanks for helping us see through the fog of the propaganda war. We really need you.

Will said...

Happy birthday, Sardonicky!

Cringe-inducing walks down Hope and Change Lane aren't ever my idea of a good time, but they're important reminders of how far we've all come in the last few years. Thanks, Karen. We couldn't have done it without you. :)

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." - James Baldwin

Denis Neville said...

Happy Birthday Sardonicky!!!

And a big thank you to you, Karen, for not being afraid to speak truth to power, for raising your voice for honesty and compassion against the injustice and lying and greed that abounds in the nation. It takes great courage to back truth when it is so unacceptable in this era of crapification. Self-censorship is the most insidious form of censorship. Inconvenient truths never damage a cause that is just. If there were more people like you, how different things might be.

Those earlier servile readers, who abandoned Sardonicky in disgust, disliked what you said, and the more correct you were, the more they disliked you. If offense emerges the truth, it is better that they be offended than the truth be concealed. They will never realize that an unbelieved truth will hurt them much more than a lie.

“Got to kick at the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight.” - Bruce Cockburn

Bob Lejeune said...

I don't always agree with you, but I read your blog regularly. It is a breath of fresh air in a very polluted atmosphere. Your dedication to "the truth" is an inspiration.

Zee said...

Allow me to say “Happy 4th Birthday, Sardonicky!” as well.

Karen, I very much appreciate the obvious, careful thought and very hard work that you put in to the research and great writing that are regularly evident in your posts on Sardonicky.

Your writing is so passionate and persuasive that I often have to dig rather deep to find reasons to disagree with you when what you write seems to go so strongly against my own life-experience and education.

But sometimes, believe it or not, I can't dig deeply enough, and I have to surrender and admit that I can't disagree with you at all—or maybe only on [what I, at least, would consider to be] minor details. (Though both you and other regular “Sardonickistas” might strongly disagree with what I consider to be “minor” details.)

Finally, as something of an outsider here, I especially appreciate what appears to be a watchword of your blog, viz., that “We can disagree without being disagreeable,” something to which Sardonickistas seem to subscribe to as well.

Please, keep up the great work!

Brand on the Rocks said...

Your blog holds the top spot on my list of favorites and I check it every day. Thank you for all the work you put into it and for your clarity of thought, great writing, righteous anger and for upholding a strong perspective for the lives of working people.

I would contribute more if I could afford to but what I can do meanwhile is promote this powerful blog to people I know and encourage them to check it regularly. I'm amazed that only 312 people are following it. We can all help to make sure this important message gains a wider audience. Let the word go out far and wide...

Congratulations on your anniversary.

Valerie Tweedie said...

I think I joined the Sardonicky Salon about a year into the blog. I, too, started as a mainstream Democrat and have been radicalized by the truth I have found here and by many of the links you and several of your regular commenters have provided.

I think it takes courage to think and integrity to honestly face the reality that one's tribe can sometimes be in the wrong. While we might not always agree, I find on the whole, there is a genuine desire for truth on this blog. The fact that it is a depressing and frightening truth makes it even more courageous a search.

Like Bill Moyers, you are fighting the good fight and your honest and fearless journalism is very much appreciated by this reader and sometime commenter.

Patricia M. said...

Dear Karen -
As I believe you know, I'm a regular reader but have never posted - 'til now. Thank you for your hard work, your deep insights, and your impressive analyses. Congratulations on your fourth year.

I, too, have become radicalized over the years, and agree "that the two-party system is a sham" - and especially agree that "neoliberalism . . . is a clear and present danger" to us all.

In my opinion, yours is the most informative blog around - and I check each day for a new post. Again, I am deeply grateful. I'm grateful, too, for the other "Sardonickistas." Their thoughtful and informative comments are also much appreciated.

Thank you all.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, everybody. You're my inspiration to keep on writing.

macwoof said...

I read your comment in the NYTimes ( David Brooks ) today and came looking for you. It is the first time I have ever come to meet a commenter and leave a response not on the site.
Your writing is so bloody right on. It is clear, concise, brief and intelligent. It is like a knock out punch. I wish my words could do your comments justice. thank you. I am thrilled to find this blog.

Karen Garcia said...

macwoof,

thanks, and glad you found us!

Zee said...

Funny that the topic of Ursula K. le Guin should come up. Thanks to something that The Black Swan suggested some time ago, I am "binge reading" le Guin's "Hainish Cycle," starting at what I thought was the beginning, "Rocannon's World," "Planet of Exile" and "City of Illusion," but which may have been more a mid-point. I'm saving "The Dispossessed" and "The Left Hand of Darkness" for some upcoming travel.

The Black Swan said...

Karen,

I came to your blog several years ago after clicking reading several of your comments on the NYT. From Sardonicky I was led to Black Agenda Report, Naked Capitalism, the writings of Arthur Silber, and many other things that opened my eyes to the realities of capitalism, and the evils of the neo-liberal project.

I used to read the NYT everyday until I realized how corrupt the reporting was/is. Your comments were one of the first things that made me look critically at the information being fed to us by the MSM.

Thanks for being out here in the interwebs!

And thanks to those that comment on Karen's blog, the varied viewpoints and the great writing have taught me a lot.

Neil said...

Happy birthday Sardonicky blog, you are an inspiration Karen.

"eventually I realized that the two-party system is a sham"

- - that sham reminds me of a line from thanksgiving prayer, "Thanks for the American Dream to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through".

sorry I can’t blog much anymore, too many incoming attacks now...the system works hard keeping the sham alive, but the bare lies continue to shine through, thanks to you Karen.

traynorjf said...

Happy birthday Sardonicky.