We live in an era when every little thing is blown up into a major issue, when it doesn’t rain, it is “storm watch 2008”, people aren’t voters or Americans, they are hyphenated-Americans. Candidates don’t get votes, they get “White”, “Black”, “working class”, “college educated” votes. Voices, like mine, are amplified over the internet beyond anything imaginable heretofore. We are lost in a sea of “meanings” given to us by others, mostly the mainstream media, but also by ourselves. We don’t just make it from day to day, we “live it large.” We are delusional.

Little could those enthusiast of the Enlightenment in the late eighteenth century imagine our culture and its amplified bits of reality. In their day ideas travelled slowly between people, life was at apace we would now think of as lassitude. The press was admittedly incendiary and vituperative. But there were no blogs, few if any “authorities” on anything, and no “Situation Room” to tell you what is important.

What is the purpose of doing these ubiquitous exit polls which tell us not only what category voted for whom but even what our views on subjects defined by the pollster may be. We are all becoming instant authorities on everything. Our opinion is read round the world, we are talking to each other so much the din is bringing us perilously close to the point where words become trivial. We text, we chat, we blog, we bloviate all the time everywhere we go.

We have been divided into categories. Rather than reject this insult to our personhood we empower this insanity by adopting the categories as our own, and when we know the category to which we have been assigned doesn’t quite fit, we find another category to add to our repertoire so that we are not simply a human being, we are a white, bisexual, right wing, college educated woman.

Many of us fail to realize that this categorization is aimed at controlling, dehumanizing and dividing us. There is no good reason to know whether the people who vote for candidate A are one category or another. It is entertainment, not news. What the hell are we supposed to do with this information? C’mon, be honest, what difference does it make? If you will change your mind after learning these faux facts then you shouldn’t be voting, you are a threat to the public weal.

If you just want to find out if you are doing what you are supposed to do, then you are a tool of forces who use you and will throw you away when you are no longer needed. Listening to the opinions of others is sensible. Listening to the constant chatter that inundates us daily as meaningful is insanity making.


  1. AustinRanter

    Media Pundits Prey on American Voters

    Many years ago, our government took on a partner in crime – “The Media”. That partner now holds fifty-one percent of the stock.

    When the 2008 elections are over will history show that media pundits, from every arena, ruthlessly and impiously victimized their every reader, viewer, or listener by their twenty-four-seven relentless and intentional political rhetoric created not for substantive, informative, and balanced reporting, but for selfish gains?

    Will history show that media pundits created controversy between candidates when clearly there was none?

    Will history show that the media pundits intentionally embellished mundane, lifeless, and useless trivial political activities spun with ineffectual mind muddling anecdotal broadcasts, which were aimed at battering its consumers until they began to question their own intelligence and abilities to exercise reason and critical thinking skills?

    Media sources have literally spent thousands of hours assaulting the American voters’ perspectives with the agenda of manipulating voter opinions and harvesting as many consumers as possible.

    I have lost any resemblance of respect for most of the mainstream broadcast personalities. They have apparently lost respect for themselves and their industry. They’ve come to believe in their own contrived, shallow, and even dishonest editorials, which, for the most part is only worthy of being fed to the office shredders.

    Over the past couple of decades, the media has persistently and consistently violated the spirit of their power, which is the most unassailable of rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States – The Freedom of the Press.

  2. Sandra Price

    Good points, Austin. We discussed this very issue back in 1964 and just about every election since that time. The Media is paid by advertisers and the more audience/readers they can bring into the issues the better the media does. I look at how other nations handle this kind of thing.

    Censoring the media has been much worse for freedoms. I think we are smart enough to realize that certain newspapers, TV channels and even lecturers have a political agenda and if we evaluate this, we cannot be used like lab mice.

    I was a firm Republican until the GOP itself changed their agenda to include building a One World Empire. Bush 41 disgusted me and I pulled my membership from GOPAC which was Newt’s baby to train more Republican politicians. He fell to disgrace for his hypocrisy by having a mistress and leaving his wife. Had he not been such a firm “Christian” after Constitutional Amendments I could have overlooked his adultry by not his Empire plans.

    I do not fear the media as I can tell a slant and spin from the first paragraph. It is the same with news readers. Watching Fox and their slant on everything was the final straw and never again did I vote for any Republican.

  3. DejaVuAllOver

    Our species will be just fine. As for this sick country, the world will be better off without us. And like it or not, we’re all responsible for the evil that has consumed us, though some less than others. But we all could have (and should have) done more, so none of us is going to escape our collective bad karma. If it’s any consolation, it’s always been this way, and always will be. But nice piece, Phil.

  4. ekaton

    Anybody ‘sides me notice this Hoskins guy can write? The key to great writing, I think, is the author’s ability to express in words my own thoughts but in a more succinct and organized and literate fashion than that of which I might be capable. Or something. Well put, sir.

    — Kent Shaw

  5. ekaton

    The intellectual level of commentary in general on CHB seems to have moved up in class a bit recently, not just in this thread, but in others. Fewer personal attacks and much more well thought out commentary. IMHO. Time for me to go into lurk mode for awhile, as I am learning more from just reading and trying to keep an open mind and find that I have little of any real value to add at the moment.

    Geez, I love you guys.

    — Kent Shaw

  6. Sandra Price

    Don’t go Kent! We are heading into a possible new movement here and need your input. After watching the debate last night in Denver, I reregistered back as a Libertarian. I heard more truth with the candidates than I have heard since Perot told us all off.

  7. ekaton

    I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be reading. The level of commentary on all sides is currently above my ability to add anything useful. I’m around.

    — Kent Shaw

  8. Flapsaddle

    News is merely another product manufactured and marketed for a particular audience. Just as all cigarettes contain some quantity of tobacco processed in some way, all news contains some quantity of truth processed in some way; beyond that it is packaging and marketing. News is nothing more than a truth spun to appeal to a particular target audience.

    The “liberal mainstream media”? Sure, it exists in certain markets, just as the “right-wing mainstream media” exists in others. As the shade of Obiwan told a clueless Luke Skywalker, what we hold as truth is often dependent strictly on the point of view.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  9. Sandra Price

    Wow, Phil, great commentary. This explains why I have cut back on receiving news via email because the media tends to use extreme and frightening new releases. It is also why I stay out of most Conservative forums as they use the same extreme attitude even down to damning those of us who are non-believers. I have a handful of people online who I do respect for their opinions and even quoting them has made me very much an enemy of their sites.

    I do not have to wander around the ‘net as I know right from wrong instinctively without any justification for wrong. It has brought me nothing but threats.

    I’m pleased that you have put this in a CHB Commentary and I truly thank you for it.

  10. pollchecker

    It is entertainment, not news.

    You nailed it. Every since we went to 24 hour news stations, it’s been this way.

    Now let’s return to your regularly scheduled shows!

  11. dbumRob

    Part of what we can do about this is stop using labels ourselves. We use political labels: Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, and so forth. Also, liberal, conservative, progressive.

    We use religious labels: fundamentalist, believer, Christian, and the list is even bigger than the political one.

    We use sports team labels, and work labels, and web site monikers, all kinds of labels by which we identify ourselves. (I will grant you that web site monikers do present the problem of another user already having registered your name, so you have to make one up. Sandra, I see you haven’t. Good morning to you.)

    It is also how we try to prove ourselves right and the “opposition” which our labels establish, wrong.

    Identifications in these ways is just the ego. And the ego isn’t who we are, so let’s say we stop using them. Instead of identifying people by their labels, use their name. In so doing, I have discovered I have far less interest in the self imposed importance of politics.

    Yes, that’s right. Can we take our politics with us when we go? No. We can only have our consciousness, so let’s hone in on that, and begin to let our politics and neighborliness and business and spirituality flow from that.

    Then we’ll see change.


  12. Sandra Price

    Rob. I have learned to use labels when I write about certain political actions that rile up many people. We have a two party system that used to show two separate agendas. That has been divded up into many facets of each party. The religious right wormed their way into the GOP making the agenda of limited government and individual freedoms redundant. So we have to define ourselves with labels. I have written about the damage the religious right has thrown on the GOP and was told to use either Christian, Fundamentalist, Evangelical or some such label. I define myself as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. This was not necessary 10 years ago.

  13. Direct Democracy

    “You’re beginning to believe this illusion we’re spinning here…”

    Paddy Chayefsky

  14. WWWexler

    We all owe CNN a wave of the third finger for their role in commercializing news during Gulf I. As we breathlessly waited for the next Dickless Cheney press conference showing us real life video games of people being blown to bits, our expectations to know what we want when we want it gelled.

    One might think that in a society with the most advanced communications system ever devised, our citizenry would be the most informed people who ever walked the earth. But like everything we get our hands on, it turns to shit. You can surf the Internet for news from anywhere in the world on your cell phone. You can get news 24/7 on your cable network. So how do we use this technology? I can’t say, but surely it’s not to inform. If that were the case, how could people in W VA still think Obama is a Muslim? How could 2/3 of Americans think that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11? (Wash. Post poll in 2006).

    How does it happen that the Bush Administration has gotten away with murder, treason, torture, imperial warmongering, domestic spying, taking away our Constitutional rights, looting the treasury, showering money on themselves and friends, and other crimes too numerous to mention? Is it because the information isn’t there?

    Hell no. It’s there. People CHOOSE to be ignorant. People PAY for ignorance. People SEEK OUT ignorance.

    The recent VISA card commercial jingle sums it up nicely.


    That’s America today, a grabbastic nation of soulless, hedonistic fucks that are clueless about what is acceptable social behavior and choose to be ignorant about what tragedy they are causing and what they are allowing their government to do. That’s why it’s all about the horse race. That’s why we have “pastor problems” and flag pins and race cards and gender bias and exit polls and “kitchen sinks” and all the rest. People don’t CARE about anything except being immediately gratified. They want to be ENTERTAINED, not informed.

    I’ve been thinking about moving to another country. I had a chance back in the Viet Nam era but I ended up with a high draft number so I didn’t go. I should have gone anyway. I’d be a lot happier as a Canadian citizen. At least I wouldn’t have to be part of the festering sore on the ass of the world we call America.


  15. JudyB

    Phil your commentary today was like a cool glass of water in scorching heat. Thank you!

  16. griff

    It’s called social engineering, or societal automation. It starts at a very young age, in our modern school system. Individualism is considering “acting out” and is treated as a mental disorder. Safety and security is to be found in the group, and stepping outside the group is a dangerous and lonely venture, fraught with peril. It’s best to conform, lest you be left behind (No Child Left Behind?).

    Truth is Truth, regardless of who speaks it. Collectivism affords us the luxury and efficiency of discounting what others say based solely on what group the speaker belongs. This is evidenced throughout the media, where the only argument Sean Hannity needs is that his guest is a liberal, and therefore could not possibly have anything remotely relevant or constructive to say.

    But that’s just this Irish – Welsh – German – Paleoconservative – Caucasian – Lower Middle Class – Non-Denominational – Anti-Establishment – Libertarian – Heterosexual – Working Class – AMERICAN’S opinion.

  17. knockknock

    Thanks for the fine article. This is the type of truth people have yearned for but, when we aren’t heard by those who could put things back together, eventually we go back to our Glade-sniffing lives.

    Were this country successful in re-establishing herself in the world’s eyes (and our own), we might again recognize ourselves as united.

    When Obama spoke at the Dem convention, a speech he wrote himself) about no red states, no blue states, but the United States, I felt hope for the first time in many years.

    And I may be speaking for all the other Mutt-Americans out there.

  18. Sandra Price

    Yes Phil. I do believe you opened a brilliant can of worms. I have a Ron Paul sticker on my bumber and the majority of people I meet ask me who he is. When I start to explain I am told to stop! that politics is against the rules in any of our meetings. When I pointed out the question was asked of me in the parking lot; that made no difference.

    I moved here 6 years ago and found myself in the twilight zone. I attended a GOP meeting to see who was running for what and the argument started over whether our new humane society leader was pro-life or pro-choice. I had to leave to find air.

    I discovered here the same problem I discovered when I filled in for a 3rd grade teacher for a month. There is no input to anyone without stopping and getting their attention first. They zoned into television and never came out.

    I am seriously worried about the future of our species.

  19. ekaton

    Who told you not to use the term “religious right”? I’ve NEVER had a problem using that very descriptive term. If someone says “all Christians” or “all Jews” or “all Muslims”, I think that paints with too broad a brush, but “religious right” seems to be quite properly descriptive. The religious right does want to control the rest of us.

    — Kent Shaw

  20. Flapsaddle

    Concur. It’s a perfectly reasonable term useful in describing a demographic that tends to be made up of white evangelical Protestants who tend to be very socially conservative and would like to see much of their philosophy incorporated into our general body of law.

    And, as you so carefully emphasized, with all such labels of convenience, it must be correctly applied; obviously, it can no more be applied to all Christians than one can label all Jews as Zionists.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle