Who’s Listening? Or Are They All Dicks?

The other day Dick Cheney, reputed to be Vice President of the United States and not some pathetic, mentally disturbed old man, answering a reporter’s question regarding the 63 percent of Americans who think the war is a waste of lives and treasure, answered, “So?” So, as in “So what.”

While it is a truism that one cannot govern by polls, and equally a truism that there are too damn many polls invested with too damn much importance, it is also true that a leader who demonstrates such contempt for the people on such an important matter should be turned out of office before he can do any more harm than he already has done. In Cheney’s case, turning him out of office should include locking the sick bastard naked in a cell in Guantanamo for the rest of his life.

Be that as it may, it has become a truism that politicians no longer listen to the people, except at election time when they stage so-called town meetings and so-called listening sessions at which they pretend to listen. The pretense is what they hope will get them elected, because few of them have the intellectual grit or the moral courage to actually act on behalf of the people.

The politicians will, of course, proclaim that they have the people’s interests at heart. And they very well may. But that is as far as the people’s interests will get. The people’s interests do not get into legislation as often as do the interests of the corporations that pay the politicians’ bills.

Ask who benefits from the war in Iraq. Certainly not the people of the United States, who are paying three billion dollars a week, with no end in sight, for a Republican and Conservative wet dream of empire.

But the corporations are benefiting handsomely. KBR makes money hand over fist providing bad food and bad water to the troops at war. Halliburton also. Blackwater also. Do they provide any value to the people of the United States?


They profit from death and destruction and suffering on a massive scale, with no goal nor care other than profit. When George Bush, Dick Cheney, and John McCain speak of a romantic war without end against an endless supply of Islamic cannon fodder, the executives at Halliburton and KBR and Blackwater, and the others, gather around the boardroom conference table and engage in mutual orgasms, leaving the mess to be cleaned up by the little brown people on the janitorial staff.

They will protest otherwise. They will be lying. Corporations and the highest reaches of corporate officialdom are amoral, at best. In the name of profit they can convince themselves that torture is not only morally acceptable, but a moral necessity. In the name of profit they can convince themselves that a war that is tearing this country apart is just and necessary and that they are morally commanded to make as much profit off of it as possible and in any way they can. Corporations cheat, lie, and kill. For profit. And they buy politicians to help them.

And if maintaining their business in the United States becomes inconvenient, they go someplace else, someplace where child labor is acceptable, where slave labor is acceptable, where the Internal Revenue Service can’t reach and sully corporate profit with taxes that support the people and government of the United States.

Of course all that has been said before, many times, and certainly better, and often with more optimism. And has gone equally unheard, receiving the moral and actual equivalent of Cheney’s “So?”

The politicians listen to money most of the time. They listen to the songs of power accruing or tempting. They do not listen to the voice of the people, whether in legitimate polls or around the table set up under the television lights to prove they are listening.

Only when the politicians are hungry for the political job or in danger of losing the political job do they put on a show of listening.

But they do not hear. And not hearing, they have lost their moral compass, or substituted an amoral compass that they got in a popcorn box from the corporations.

So, if no one listens, if no one hears, then why speak?

Why do thousands of political bloggers, sitting alone in front of  computer screens, tap their keyboards and produce, on aggregate, tens of millions of words every week, voicing opinions, spewing rants, or herding closely reasoned arguments?

There can be found some measure of satisfaction, of course, in getting off one’s chest the anger one feels at matters of policy, of injustice, of lies and immorality and amorality and just plain evil. And of course for every particular issue there will be bloggers, or writers (not always the same), firing from all ten sides of the issue.

Do they write because they think they can make a difference, that someone in power will take notice and take action? These days it is more likely that strong criticism may draw action in the form of an FBI visit, while strong support will go unnoticed. Nonetheless, do all those thousands write because they believe that there is some small chance they will be noticed and heard? Do they write because they need to spit out the bile that has built up? Do they write simply because they know a few people, with no more pull or power or capability than themselves, will listen and respond and understand? Do they write for some mix of all these reasons?

Why do you write? Why do you put your voice, your beliefs, your heart, into the public sphere? What do you gain? What do you lose? Who hears?

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8 Responses

  1. Ric asked: “Why do you write? Why do you put your voice, your beliefs, your heart, into the public sphere? What do you gain? What do you lose? Who hears?”

    1. I write for myself. Writing is a way for me to sort through and organize my ideas. It helps me sharpen my thinking and communicative skills. I learn when I write. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what I think until I think and write, write and think, then think and write some more, about it.
    2. I write in order to interact with a community of bloggers who, at times, share my ideals, and at other times, think I’m stuck out in deep left-field. That’s okay, as long as no one accuses me of leaving the playing field entirely. πŸ˜‰ More seriously, the atheosphere has given me a place to express myself and, more importantly, to learn from others as we read, comment and argue on each other’s blogs. I learn much more from this interaction than I do from simply bloviating on my blog. I could keep a private journal instead of a public one, but I wouldn’t learn nearly as much if I did so.
    3. I write because I hope that maybe, in some small way, something I have to say will resonate with somebody and trigger a response in that person. Maybe I’ll point the way to a new of thought and inquiry for someone. Maybe someone will get angry and do some research, thinking, and writing or speaking of his or her own in order to clarify his or her thinking. Maybe I’ll explain something that they never got before and they’ll have an “aha” moment. Then again, maybe none of these things will happen. One thing I know is that they certainly won’t happen if I don’t write.


  2. I’m going with “they’re all dicks.”


  3. Just a premptive note: Someone is going to answer by saying ‘Horton’.

    Be advised that that person will be visited by a violent two-hour sneezing attack brought on by a sudden invasion of dust particles in his personal space. I’ve already made arrangements with a local sorceress to handle the details.


  4. The answer is question 1 is too obvious. Well yes.
    The other question. Pick or all of any of the following:
    An inflated idea of the value of my opinions.
    The pleasure of writing.
    The pleasure of interacting with thinking people from all over the world.
    (Cue violins) To help to keep some sort of progressive flame alive….


  5. heather –

    I agree. Let’s burn the violins. πŸ™‚

    Why ‘inflated’? Yours are as blogworthy as any of the rest of us. You can never know who will find your opinion valuable in their lives.

    (Kidding about the violins. I love violins.)

    (Notice how I have cleverly avoided that stupid pun about sex and violins.)

    (Ummm… lemme rethink that.)


  6. chappie –

    Better to be stuck in left field than in right field.


  7. Backwards:
    Who hears? Nobody hears because I type very quietly.
    What do you lose? Every now and then, I can’t find my train of thought.
    What do you gain? The insights of others on issues I care about. A place in a community of people I like. Plus, a few pounds from sitting on my ass blogging instead of going out to exercise.
    Why do you put your voice, your beliefs, your heart, into the public sphere? This is a three-part question. I put my voice into the public sphere first of all to keep the sphere public. And I’d like to think my voice deserves to be heard as much as anyone else’s; it ain’t necessarily pretty, but I can carry a tune reasonably well when I’m singing about things that matter to me. I don’t have any blind beliefs, but I do like to make sure my educated opinions are stocked on the shelves — even if they’re the ones that are hardest to reach — in the marketplace of ideas. I’d never put my heart into the public sphere; I keep it in my body, a few feet from my head. A heart without a head is no good.
    Why do you write? Because I’m not a talented enough mime to get my ideas that way.


  8. “Plus, a few pounds from sitting on my ass blogging instead of going out to exercise.”

    Were reporters thinner back in the days of manual typewriters, those big black office jobs from Remington, Royal, and Underwood, machines that required strong fingers and burned calories at a greater rate than modern computer keyboards?

    Sorry, just a stray thought that got past the gates. I haven’t had my second cup of coffee yet.

    “A place in a community of people I like” strikes home.


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