In my news-lacking world, I had an epiphany over the past few days.  I guess it is not an extraordinary revelation as I start to try to boil it down to the written word.  In fact, I know I’ve read it on dKos and BMT in the past.  It just didn’t have such palpable meaning to me then.

The Booman Tribune and Daily Kos are much, much more that a place for Democratic activism.  Even if they don’t want to be.  They just are.  To me, they are (or were, until a little less than two weeks ago when this experiment started) my primary source of news.  They help shape the stories that I want to read about.  And, they allow me a place to respond on those occasions when sitting idly by and reading the news is not enough.  They are like a gigantic town hall.  A place of civic gathering and sharing.  And a world without these venues is far dimmer than the one where they exist.

The part about the news dawned on me yesterday, as I was reading through my fifth consecutive day of the NYTs where I just didn’t really give a shit.  I am having a hell of a time staying motivated to make it all the way through articles.  Maybe this is just a problem with me – I don’t know.  But, I think it is simply a paradigm shift that has happened in the news.  I’ve been reading a newspaper everyday since I was a boy.  But, the way I read the newspaper since the advent of the bloggosphere (or at least my introduction to it) has completely changed.  My attention span is gone.  My willingness to put up with corporate slanted reporting and opinion is gone.  And the past week or so of reading the NYT has been awful.  So freaking disjointed.  You can’t believe it.

In the world of the NYTs, Rove is just a whisper.  It is not a full blown scandal.  The falling apart of the unions in the face of global corporatism is just a blip on the screen (I mean there has been significant coverage, but to what end – I don’t see it).  Roberts is a staunch conservative, but there is little inkling that he is about to go the way of the Bork.  Abortion is about to be subjected to the tyranny of the masses, and I am not really reading that in the NYTs.  I have to be able to read between the lines.  The energy bill – it’s not so bad according to the editorial page, except the cowards need to take on gas mileage.  The news is completely sanitized.  You would never imagine that the very globe is shaking – bleeding.  We are just here passing through.  Nothing is the end of the world.  It will all be okay.

I have taken to browsing Wikipedia – not for news mind you.  Just to try to educate myself on progressive ideas.  And, I came across a quote my Noam Chomsky.  I can’t remember it verbatim, but to paraphrase – the ideal system for pacifying people is to allow for a completely free debate, but only within the narrow confines that are acceptable to the ruling class.  That way people think they are free, but nothing is really said or changed.

It made me think of the corporate media.  And America.  Even dKos (and far less so BMT IMHO) sometimes limits debate I think.  But, these venues are so far superior to the MSM.

I originally thought 30 days would be too short for this experiment, so I put the deadline at the end of the summer.  But, now that seems like a terribly long way away.

Last word.  A couple of stories in the disconnected soup that have stuck in my mind.  I read in that the DOD is ignoring a District Court order to release abuse photos.  It was one story buried somewhere.  And I haven’t seen anything since.  I mean, isn’t this similar to the Saturday (?) Night Massacre when Nixon fired the Attorney General.  If the Military ignores the civilian courts, aren’t we kind of by definition in some sort of Totalitarianistic Funhouse?

And, this story.  I have to share one line verbatim.  It is one of the few stories in the NYT that just keeps coming back.  Almost daily.  Our good friend and USA supporter Ayad al-Sirowiy.  He is the thirteen year old Iraqi, blinded in one eye by a U.S. cluster bomb.  Surely you recall it.  The feel good story of the war.  Brought by American generosity, to America, for American surgery to restore his sight.

Ayad is going home today or yesterday, or whenever it is according the NYTs Standard Time.  He is still blind in one eye.  But, I think he got contacts for his remaining eye.  And, he has had laser surgery to remove the scarring on his face, though he will need to return for future operations if he wants to keep the process of regaining a normal face again moving in the right direction.

So how does Ayad feel about it all.  He loves it here.  He is drinking a lot of Pepsi.  That’s right.  Pepsi is in the first paragraph.  (And the Pepsi quote is blocked out in case you missed it in the lead.)  And, he thinks President Bush is a very, very good man.  There is a nice photo of him saluting a photo of fearless leader.  Of course, Ayad and his father were last seen on American soil begging to stay here.  They love America.  I don’t think their motivation has anything to do with the fact that they are returning to a country where unexploded cluster bombs are a threat to your existence.  Nor, do I think their motivation has anything to do with daily suicide bombings.  Heck, America is just the greatest country on the damned planet, and that is that.

Ayad’s father is a little disillusioned as he waits for his plane home.  He thought Americans could grant him any wish.  He thought he could stay.  But, Ayad still wants to come back.

But, the line that makes it memorable for me.  “He was injured at the beginning of the Iraq war after his cow accidentally set off an American cluster bomb, which drilled tiny pieces of shrapnel into Ayad’s face, blinding him in one eye and printing a map of pin-prick scars across his skin.”

It was not a lying President.  Or an oil thirsty administration.  Or a negligent intelligence apparatus.  Or WMD.  Or al-Qeada.  Or Sadaam.  Or a manufacturer of cluster bombs.  None of those things are pertinent to this tale.  In sum, the tragedy of the Iraq War, as it relates to 13-year old Ayad, can be parsed for causation.  And the culprit is his own cow.  The cow was not malicious, this much we know.  Nor, was the cow negligent in its efforts at bomb disposal.  It was all an accident.

I feel better.  I think I can sleep at night now.

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