Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You And I and the Parking Lot Mendicant

How does she recline on this delible day

In those ribbons of bruise      her back

Creased by the vertex of car sandwich tiers

These stacked slabs of slots--the periodic

Numbered accommodations of this year's

Motto of mobility?     She runs down

Done in outside the locus of brand royalty

Awaiting the accumulation of lunchtime.

Whatever else I'm not

     Am I not as her as me?

          I pray to doubt.

I can't find the space to leave     to lose

These roots     to tender the truth about me

I try     this is not me     I try again

Is it nothing     again     breaking outward

Dispersed     with the crucible suspended

Whole on hot tongues?     Remind me

How my consequences funnel light.

Hold up these fire-worn branches

     Know the unsung numbers

          Of our secrets through this soil.    

Give us back  


Monday, September 3, 2012

Is Your Newsroom Breeding Fuckweasels?

There’s an infestation plaguing the newsrooms, publishing houses and web-feeds of America. The minds of many of the people we all rely upon to provide reporting, information and perspective on the events that affect both our lives and our future have been severely compromised by one of the most diabolical threats we’ve ever faced as a nation. They are succumbing in droves to the ruthless onslaught of ravenous, mind-mulching fuckweasels.

The fuckweasel is an invasive species purpose-built to devour reason and excrete confusion and nonsense; to sniff out our fears, consume and consolidate them, then bind them selectively to the most sensible and helpful ideas on offer. They subsist—nay, thrive—on a steady diet of seed-corn, scrambled brains, and fear. To make matters worse, the cognitive viruses these malignant memes carry induce hallucinations that paint horrifying death's-heads on those who think and act out of compassion for their fellow human beings while elevating the avatars of avarice, whose ends they serve, to the status of heroes and royalty. Their sole function in the world is to recycle unwary brains for someone else's profit.

If you’re like most Americans, you probably feel like things have slipped for you pretty badly over the past few years, but you’re still holding onto a fairly sizable reserve of hope. Hey, this is capitalism, you might be thinking; they’ll sort it all out for us sharpish just as soon as the smoke clears! Yet maybe you’ve also noticed that this sorting and re-sorting has been going on for some time now, and that somehow you keep getting shifted further and further from any arrangement you might consider reasonably “sorted” in each round. At the same time, a tiny subset of citizens—the very people who were best situated to begin with—just keep finding themselves levitated higher and faster every time you look. It’s like somebody keeps handing them winning lottery tickets every day of their charmed lives!

The wires and the WiFi are awash with explanations for why you’ve pitched up at this sorry turn. Many of these voices will instruct you to believe that it was inevitable, or that your government is preventing the winners from coming to your aid—or even that it’s your own damned fault. Narratives like these are pressed into service on behalf of a set of institutions and interests that political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson refer to as “organized money.” The mouthpieces of organized money often speak of even the most meager concessions to any reasonable idea of equality with the kind of contempt normally reserved only for the most scurrilous and contemptible of scandals. But these aren’t “evil” people; rather, they are profoundly ill. Their systems of thought have been compromised, corrupted by fiendishly sophisticated malware that subverts or disables their capacity for sustained contextual analysis and sound ethical reasoning. That is to say, their meme-space is infested with fuckweasels. Consequently, they consistently confuse excuses with explanations, rationalization with ratiocination, and emotionally-charged assertion with telling evidence. And the longer these scripts run against their brains—their wetware, if you will—the more extensively the wetware gets rewired, and the more susceptible they become to more comprehensive infiltration. It’s a rabidly vicious cycle.

There are rules, of course. To do its job properly our fuckweasel has to summon your inner lizard: that gallingly primitive security system deep in your brain that handles threat detection, sirens, klaxons, flashing red lights, and of course soiling your undergarments. Therefore, these pernicious chunks of viral code don’t carry out their destructive hacks by way of clever reasoning, or by any other legitimate means of rational suasion; instead, they accomplish these feats by gate-crashing your cognitive party under the guise of opinion or thoughtful commentary, then taking to the trees. Once inside, they brachiate1 gleefully through the dendritic branches in your lush, unguarded brainforest, chopping away meaningful associations; cross-wiring2 your lizard-class limbic alarm system; suppressing the paths to those pesky critical thinking circuits in the neocortex; and generally reducing every complex, multivalent issue to a simplistic, bivalent schema of right versus wrong, good versus bad, pro- versus anti-everything-that-matters.

This last, reductive feature is perhaps the most insidiously effective function of fuckweasel code. Under the gentle ministrations of our work-a-day fuckweasels, every sophisticated proposition (or even any targeted feature of a larger proposal) gets mashed down, its useful complexity bitten away, until—like a simple, household toaster—it admits of only two states: right on, or way off; toasty warm and safe, or chillingly cold and terrifying to the point of incontinence. They don’t even bother to say why in any coherent or compelling way; they just grab our complex issues, chew them up, shape the resulting bolus into these ridiculous wank-toasters, then trot them out on the evening news and flog them like they’re the only mental products that any right-thinking person must judge indispensable. And lo, they’re selling like gold-plated love-batteries with a lifetime guarantee! How do the fuckweasels accomplish this? Branding and labeling, dear reader—and exhaustive repetition.

Another crucial point to bear in mind is that the fuckweasel isn’t designed to be viewed straight-on; rather, it uses misdirection to induce you to haul your head sideways and let it hump your ear. Because the minute you start passing notes to your cortex or making like you’re actually trying to rationally understand something, those little contacts that it has clipped into your fear circuitry start to lose their purchase and the lone fuckweasel begins to lose its mojo. In fact, once properly comprehended, this tiny, doomed blighter will simply explode (or “pop,” if you must…) in a diminutive puff of applied horse-sense. For this reason, they seldom undertake solo operations at all, but are nearly always to be found in roving packs of close-knit family members. 

For example, have you noticed that a woeful lack of both meaningful regulation and reliable enforcement has rendered our economy dangerously fragile and brittle, permitting fraud to permeate the world of finance to the point where even the most powerful institutions in the sector are now regularly complicit in gaming the global system in ways that sabotage its future sustainability and threaten the very credibility of its present foundations? Wait, did you just say that out loud? Heaven forfend—already I fear I detect the patter of tiny paws, the gnashing of razor-sharp incisors ravenous for the rending of reason! Oh dear, here they are, and right on schedule...

“You wretched, job-crushing cretin—why, you’re anti-business! Regulation Bad! How dare you offend the tender ears of our innocent citizens with your anti-employment heresy! Pipe down for God’s sake; you’re scaring the job-creators!”

But wait, you protest, if a practice is unfair, fraudulent, anti-competitive and unethical—resulting, say, in the elimination of quality jobs and the looting of hard-earned pensions—and done merely for the short-term gain of unscrupulous investors, how is making it against the law anything other than necessary? After all, if it’s legal then those who do engage in the unethical practice gain an unfair market advantage over their competitors who suffer the inconvenience of a conscience! I’m only opposed to certain particular, unrestricted applications of business practice, which are actually themselves bad for business! And by the way, what are you even talking about? All I’m saying is…

“Oh we hear you loud and clear: 'Elimination of quality jobs!', 'Opposed to ... business practice!' and 'Bad for business!' (See, you’re doing this to yourself!) Market scold! Business-hater! Job-killer! Nanny-state socialist! (We’ve got a million of ‘em—what are you still doing here?) If markets want regulating, they’ll send us a memo with their next prezzie!”

You see? How can a calm, coherent and carefully-reasoned argument ever hold a candle to an incendiary label that’s engineered to simply scare the pickled bejeezus out of anyone who might be tempted to listen to you? You can’t dispatch them with cogent counterargument. These little vermin burrow and cling with deer-tick tenacity. Their notional content is crafted in advance and hard-coded. Any effort at earnest sense-making is likely to be futile; the fuckweasels' carriers will just keep methodically lobbing the same resonant, focus group-tested, semiotically-charged word-bombs and catch-phrases into your rebuttals—often through distracting interruptions—until your own bemused weariness and incredulity begins to seem more and more like resignation, like concession to the implacable logic of their strident abuse. That’s the genius of this malware: fuckweasel code doesn’t have to “think”; it just has to prevent anybody else from thinking. It often does so by preventing them from even finishing their sentences.

While some random fuckweasels are born in the wild, so to speak—on some factually-challenged blog, say, or in a newspaper column by one of the usual stable of "Fair and Balanced" meme-ponies, or occasionally on one of those “analysis” shows that feature a motley collection of blowhards talking shit at each other at the top of their lungs—that’s not where most of the heavy lifting in this highly selective breeding process gets done. Many of the most brutally effective specimens are in fact carefully designed, decanted and tested in the specialized laboratories I alluded to above, called (apparently without irony) “focus groups,” which often reside in (wait for it…) “think tanks.” These dedicated environments are like wind-tunnels for the professional streamlining of industrial-grade fuckweasels for optimal assimilation by the thinking impaired—usually people whose wetware has already been invaded and "softened" by virtual armadas of the bristling varmints well in advance. Because that’s the demographic that offers the most powerful vector, reproducing and propagating these lovingly-crafted strings of organized and highly viral irrationality to the broadest possible audience, and repeating them ad nauseam until they acquire the familiar texture of common knowledge.

Take the “Job Creator” fuckweasel—please! This one is widely deployed and swimmingly successful (never let it be said that there are no amphibious versions available). Its frustrated detractors often refer to it as a myth—and like many myths of old, it contains a grain of truth. That’s one of its strengths as a first-rate scrambler of brains. Tennyson once wrote that a “lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies.” But myths also generally contained moral guidance: tropes and themes that signaled strength of character and nobility of mind. This “Job Creator” fuckweasel is no myth; there’s nothing ennobling about the way it lays waste to any meaningful discourse about power, privilege, income inequality, or the current structure of our economy. Sure, wealthy individuals generally have more people employed under them in the hierarchy than above—hence the term ‘hierarchy’—and they are also the ones who often make the decision to take on more labor as it becomes expedient to do so; but that doesn’t mean they got there by increasing hires (the opposite is often true). Nor does it mean jobs would decrease if you added to their tax responsibility (this is the fraternal fuckweasel that usually arrives in tandem with the “Job Creator” type). Indeed, empirically, the opposite is generally true!  The wealthy do not "create jobs"; demand for goods and services creates the expediency of hiring more labor to meet that demand. Paying customers create jobs. The idea that even slightly increased taxes on the wealthy might somehow make that fact less true is not a legitimate point raised for thoughtful consideration; it’s just the knobby, lofted middle finger of our super-rich prima donnas raised in unconcealed contempt for their supporting cast. Period.

Or how about that exceptionally vicious fuckweasel that maintains that massive income and wealth inequality is the result—and not the enemy—of freedom; or its sibling that suggests that this is a country of equal opportunity, not equality of means? Hate to piss on your fireworks, boss, but if you’re actually blissfully unaware that nearly all of the examples that are summoned to mind when we speak of “opportunity” in this country are profoundly mediated by money, that is, by financial means, then there are almost certainly a number of doorknobs in your immediate vicinity with a more formidable intellectual endowment than your own. In fact, the one you just used to enter the room is probably twisting in a fit of pique at the comparison. This kind of dishonesty is hardly worth dignifying with a proper rebuttal. But, thankfully, very thorough and rigorous refutations have been made (e.g.), and they are quite unanswerable.

One of the sillier companions to the two rodents of irrationality mentioned in the foregoing paragraph is the idea that people who argue for greater socioeconomic equality are merely jealous of the “success” of the obscenely wealthy: the recently popular “Don’t Hate Us Because We’re so Goddamn Awesome” fuckweasel. This is a critter that fairly howls with imbecilic risibility. As if, had you an ounce of initiative, you too could have contrived to be born into a family with a lifetime ticket on the gravy train. It’s not their fault that they entered the world pedigreed with multiple generations of power, privilege, influence and entitlement in their silk-lined pockets. You think it’s easy carrying a wallet that heavy? Show some compassion! Uh-huh. Nobody hates them because they’re rich; we may, however, think they (or more to the point, their besotted courtiers) are rather tedious fools for denying the countless lifetimes of grueling labor on the part of those in the strata beneath them that were required to place them where they are. The tragedy here is not coveted wealth but mind-numbing stupidity.

But it gets worse. You can’t donate your head to the care and feeding of fuckweasels for very long before you begin to lose your mooring in the rational and observable world. You lose the ability to make—or even acknowledge the significance or validity of—crucial distinctions. And you lose the capacity to reliably apprehend the empirical domain. Like the Bush operative in that classic Ron Suskind piece who proudly spoke of creating reality in their new, high-powered “culture of assertion” while contemptuously dismissing the apparently outmoded “reality-based community.” Like Romney pollster Neil Newhouse, who recently waved aside those who noted absurd fabrications in their campaign copy by sneering “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” Or how about that amazing sub-three hour marathon that Paul Ryan never ran? Apparently facts are such impossibly stubborn things that some candidates have entirely given up trying to work with them. Imagine feeling so besieged by—or disdainful of—reality that your last line of defense is to downplay the very idea of facticity. There’s a creepy thread of unhinged solipsism at work in their bizzaro positions—the notion that the hacked, ad hoc version of reality between a partisan’s ears is somehow preferable to any version that insists on recourse to observation or rational critique. It’s a thread that begins to unravel in a frayed tangle of beleaguered identity at the first off-hand tug.

Yes, it’s so much more exciting to be afraid than to be informed. That’s the principle fuckweasels operate on. So they dig away at the core of our identities and plant explosive fecal matter at the foundations. They tell us that who we are is being stolen by who somebody else is. They whisper that heterosexual marriage is being burgled by "the gays," and that if we don’t stand up and graffiti our constitution with bigotry, they’ll abscond with the very meaning of our sacred family union. They shriek that Muslims are making off with our “way of life,” whatever that means, and warn us that if we aren’t prepared to defend it, by force of arms if necessary (oh, and it will be!), we’ll all wake up one morning way-of-lifeless—which apparently is a pretty big deal to any life-ectomy survivor who actually believes it. So maybe you do wake up on the wrong side of the bed one morning before that fateful day, with one of these nattering monsters in your ear, and decide to give your soul the day off. Maybe you determine it’s finally time to round up your all-too-easily-acquired assortment of necessary firearms, nip off to the public space of your choosing and start pumping projectiles into anybody who’s committed the inexcusable indignity of failing to be you. Hell, maybe you get on a real tear and even decide to take out the one guy present who got that right in the end. You just can’t be too careful these days, as any self-respecting fuckweasel will tell you. Because these things are about fear, and fear controls; fear rationalizes; fear makes the senseless appear sensible—even necessary. But most importantly, fear drives us to the polls, to vote for the party that stands the best chance of keeping it alive.

A couple of final notes:

Fuckweasels are flexible travelers. Primary distribution usually takes place via cable television, radio and Internet; but after infecting their initial carriers they can easily be transported with no loss of potency via sneakernet to the bar-stool nearest you. They are commonly found in densest proliferation on the systems of people who can’t be bothered to wrangle their hapless rummage sale of ideas into any semblance of coherence or consistency. These meme-beasties thrive on intellectual laziness. And though fuckweasels may sound fairly innocuous—or even patently stupid—when first encountered, they acquire considerable strength through repetition. They also crash every system they compromise, converting them into mindless relayers—a kind of crowd-sourced bandwidth for the transmission of bullshit on behalf of the well-heeled saboteurs who pay their makers.

Don’t ever let them intimidate you! When confronted with even the most casual interrogation, they crack like a cheap pair of shoes. While fuckweasels are not always easy to identify, it helps to keep your eyes skinned and your ears tuned for simplistic buzzwords and phrases—strings of words that sound too glib and facile to actually explain anything, but which are suddenly too ubiquitous to ignore. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can kill them with anger or by force. They can only be deactivated through careful, calm reasoning and well-formed questions—and even then, only if you're dealing with a relatively intact mind of sufficient breadth and complexity to compute the contradictions. Keep in mind that some mental systems are simply too small to hold both the fuckweasels and their effective countermeasures. Don’t let that get to you; just let them go—because man, they’re gone.

So, in closing, be careful: don’t let the fuckweasels in. Don’t entertain them as guests and don’t let your kids keep them as pets. They’ve done enough damage already. But don't blame their victims either; they ain't mad atcha, they're just scared out of their minds. Literally.

1. Yes, the wily fuckweasel, once inside your wetware, displays an almost preternaturally superb adaptation to neural brachiation. Some have even suggested changing the taxonomical designation to “fuckmonkey.” This would accord nicely with the defining question that currently guides GOP policy and debate: “What Would Rhesus Do?” But no, too many other features militate in favor of the fuckweasel classification, rodentia bohica (from the U.S. Armed Services acronymic vernacular “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again!”).

2. Most likely by jacking your amygdala with your subcortical auditory and visual processing circuits using pre-primed linguistic and visual input.