A Hollow Sound

When one ponders what could possibly be wrong with us as a society when all our time, money, and political energy is devoted to developing a larger and more formidable military and police state, and in our spare time, all we manage to do is call gays icky and women sluts (and worse).  Politics, to the extent that it still exists, is a bawdy sideshow about whatever is most distracting from the things Our Betters have already decided would be done in our names, whether we like it or not.

We have no voice in whether or when our third war will commence; we simply listen to the bluster and cross our fingers that “Shock and Awe III” won’t be opening, say, tomorrow.  The Attorney General of the United States appears at a university to deliver a speech about the “legality” of a niggling little thing like executing American citizens without trials, and says, basically “because we say so,” and leaves without taking questions.  Despite the fact that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical uses and several states are approaching legalizing it entirely, the Vice President scornfully tells Latin American leaders interested in legalization that they’re out of their minds to want to stem the bloodshed of the failed current policy.  Though the vast majority of Americans prefer higher taxes on the rich and reductions in military spending to close the budget deficit, our leaders have already decided that, no, the money is coming out of your hides.  In every case, it’s like it or lump it.

The stark powerlessness of ordinary Americans against the few thousand people who really run things is the product of a long, too successful campaign to create just that powerlessness.  As giant conglomerates systematically swallowed up what used to be a broad-based economy, power relentlessly moved upward.   As recently as the late eighties, every good-sized city in America had several radio stations, one or more good newspapers, a couple of local department stores, a few big in-state banks and many local ones, some big local grocers, etc.  Though they were obviously corporate hierarchies, all of these organizations had relatively autonomous executive classes who enjoyed enough power and prestige to be good corporate citizens, decent employers, and have a real stake in the community.

Today, all those institutions exist, in name, anyway, but are hollowed-out shells of themselves, populated by meek underlings whose faraway bosses dance to the tune of Wall Street, and Wall Street alone.   Just as union-busting and recurrent threats of layoffs beat the lower-level types into Rodney King condition, consolidation, mergers, and the demand for ever-higher profits led to the elimination of the class above them, who could get inconveniently uppity, too.  This has led the overclass to the sort of supreme hegemony they enjoy today; no one is left to speak up, and that’s the way they like it.







  1. nswfm says:

    Beating people like Rodney King reminded me of this. I’m liking the guillotine.

    “As Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist who was drummed out of the National Center for Policy Analysis for criticizing President Bush, told me yesterday, “This is not all together surprising. It happened at the American Enterprise Institute to David Frum. Staying on the good side of the Republican Party was more important than maintaining its integrity. The conservative right-wing Republicans who fund all these places now see they can serve their own agenda of paying no taxes, and screwing the hell out of the poor. They’ve drunk their own Kool-Aid on Obama. They see the guillotine around the corner, and they want to do anything they can to stop it.”
    As for the Kochs in particular, Bartlett suggests that after a lifetime on the fringe, “maybe they’ve tasted political power” and found that they quite like the flavor.

    A spokeswoman for the Kochs has not yet responded to a request for comment.”

    • cocktailhag says:

      Isn’t that sickening? Some people have so successfully used the government to increase their wealth that they’re at the point that they think they ought to be that government. Nice work if you can get it.
      Great article; it’s so rare for Republicans to speak out against each other, instead of us. More, please.

    • avelna says:

      Doing everything they can to defeat Obama and why? Because he has the audacity to throw the help a few crumbs now and then. They really ought to want to keep him – he’s giving them virtually everything they want while postponing the revolt of the dirty rabble with those thrown crumbs.

  2. michlib says:

    CHNN Detroit bureau highly recommends Winner-Take-All Politics ( How Washington Made the Rich Richer – And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class ) by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson for insight and answers on how we arrived at this fetid swamp in Galtland. Short answer – the 1% have waged a very successful 30 year war on the help, who are now helpless.
    All the news headlines and punditry babblings are about the concerns of the very wealthy – the bill payers rather than the ” job creators ( in Asia )” if you will. Boeing, Northrup-Grummman, General Dynamics, et al. must be fed, so dammit, we’re just going to have to have another episode of War, Inc.. And if you question, that makes you “one of them “. Seems like our only exports nowadays are military hardware/munitions and crappy, discredited economic theories. OY.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Pretty much. Don’t forget Jesus freakery though; they’re all connected. Funny how God got involved on the side of the rich against everyone else; kind of the opposite of what the bible says, as I dimly recall it.

  3. Ché Pasa says:

    The institutions of which you speak, Hag, have been hollowed out and collapsed from the inside quite deliberately and with plenty of malice aforethought over the last several decades, and now, here we are.

    But we (The People) are not powerless. The move of the G8 to Camp David is being taken as a signal that the Global PTB are terrified of the People’s Wrath. My sense of it is that Frau Merkel and the rest of those reprobates and charlatans pleaded with Obama, “Please don’t make us meet in Chicago!” And of course being the accommodating kind of guy he is, he said, “Sure, let’s go to Camp David instead. None of the unwashed can get within miles of it!”

    Can we get along without some of those institutions that don’t work anymore anyway? Seems so. The question I keep asking is “Can we build something new?”

    • cocktailhag says:

      Ah, now Mayor Rahm has a whole new tool kit of repression and no one to use it on… for now. It seems unlikely that such institutions could be rebuilt. Even startups now only wait to be bought out by the big guys, so everyone can retire at thirty.
      Anti-trust enforcement would be nice…..

    • meremark says:


      First disassemble what We, The Folks, have whole into its constituent pieces, THEN recycle and ‘repurpose’ the parts to build the new world.

      In particular: Every state might secede from the Union. (Do what USSR did.) Each state secede, establish sovereignty, and apply for a seat in the U.N.

      By dissolving the Union, every Department, organization or other ‘entity’ formed in the name of ‘National’ or ‘Federal’ or ‘US’ — such as Congress, Supreme Court, Pentagon, FBI, ALL of ‘it’, the corrupted absolute-power structure — becomes disempowered.

      Then adjacent StateNations sharing common interests, climate, watershed, etc., may re-agree among themselves and re-constitute mini-US countries, (USb, USc, USd, USe, USf?), together, and each mini-country with its own flag, congress, president, currency, language (dialect), citizens, and other sovereign individuality … and its seat in the U.N.

      Do it peacefully. No bloodshed.


      • cocktailhag says:

        Well, that wouldn’t work so well out west; Oregon, California, and Washington all have red areas which would be a better fit if they joined Idaho or Arizona. The “Cascadia” idea, from a few years back, has possibilities.

  4. rukidding says:

    It’s too bad that more citizens cannot see what is actually happening and respond appropriately. Too many citizens are hoist on their own petards of petty racism, bigotry, chauvanism, misogyny & religious intolerance.

    Not sure how we can ever get outta this place we’re in, but the Occupy movement is one avenue to keep supporting.

  5. meremark says:


    chancing that hollow ‘media heads’ and other entities ring inside with echoes of voices heard again and again and depressingly more:

    Murdoch journalists attempt suicide

    ~ Two reporters from Rupert Murdoch’s the Sun daily attempted suicide ~

    Amy Silverstein, Global Post, March 7, 2012

    A source told the London Evening Standard that other Murdoch journalists have also been feeling “terribly stressed and many are on the edge.”

    Just sayin’ … jump! jump! just do it


  6. loretta says:

    The tin-foil-hatters would submit that the Kochs are in a hurry because they know the jig’s up pretty soon and they are losing ground. They aren’t getting any younger, either. They don’t ahve the patience to wait another 4 years to have one of their puppets in the presidency, so they are panicking. And, when people panic, they make mistakes. See also, Romney, Mitt.

    I never thought I’d see the day that the Government would OPENLY ADMIT to assassinating people. I know they have been doing it covertly for years, through their CIA and private assassinations, duh, but I never thought I’d see them actually try to CODIFY MURDER of an American citizen.

    I’m blinking in a sort of disbelief, here. Did I dream that?

    • cocktailhag says:

      If you define “dream” as the event when you wake up shuddering in a pool of sweat, you could call it a dream. Sadly, it’s the New Normal; heck, it was a (nominally) DEMOCRATIC Attorney General, after all. I’m writing about some of this for an FDL post tomorrow…. GMTA.

    • There is an argument that says that Anwar al-Awlaki should not have been considered an American citizen at the time of his death:


      • cocktailhag says:

        Still, whether a citizen or not, Holder offers, quite pointedly, no proof that Awlaki is as bad as everyone says he is. His crimes were, as Orwell put it, thought crimes, not physical ones. But his death (and that of his teenage son) were the real thing.
        No trial, no execution, citizen or no. I guess I’m just old-fashioned that way.

        • There have been many news reports connecting Awlaki to the Fort Hood shooter and the Underwear Bomber. For example:




          Anwar al-Awlaki was a “Bad Guy” by any rational person’s standards. I’m sure that by the time that the order was given to send in the drone that Holder’s intelligence sources had “very hard evidence” to support this (most of which will never see the light of day).

          But regardless, we need to ask ourselves, “Did Awlaki deserve to be considered an American citizen at the time of his death?”

          • cocktailhag says:

            That really isn’t the question, to my admittedly addled mind. The question is where the mentality comes from that we so blithely slaughter people who, for a lot of quite valid reasons, hate us. At the rate we’re going, we’re never going to run out of them, no matter how many we summarily vaporize.
            If Holder can’t show his “evidence,” then fuck him. He’s a fascist, albeit a newly converted one.
            And as long as we continue killin’ habibs for Jesus, guess what? A lot of people will feel equally justified killin’ fat white people for Allah.
            End of story.

          • michlib says:

            Many of us on the left were livid when the Bush cabal used their ” trust us ” rationale to justify warrantless wiretaps and the myriad of other ” security enhancements ” from the (un)Patriot Act. Holder doubles down and says essentially we can assassinate with impunity, ’cause we’re ‘merica, and therefore exceptional.
            Hogwash. And the first step to Star Chambers.

  7. cocktailhag says:

    Not the first step…. One of the later ones.