Pogo Was Right

The long-discontinued cartoon Pogo was famous for one particular insight that Pogo– an amiable, philosophical opossum–shared with his friend Albert the Alligator: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

No kidding.

Is the American public ill-served by a media that has abandoned journalism for propaganda and celebrity? Whose fault is that?

Who clicks on the links about missing blonds in Aruba or Kim Kardashian’s latest selfies while ignoring well-sourced, comprehensive news reports? Who tunes in to talk radio and Faux News in order to have urban legends repeated and prejudices reinforced? America’s media is a business; it responds to the market and gives us what we demonstrably want–entertainment, not credible, verifiable information.

Are the interests of voters and citizens alike ignored by the squabbling fools in Congress? Who elected them?

And whose apathy will re-elect most of them, even after ongoing demonstrations of their inability to compromise, negotiate or do the public’s business. Even after it becomes embarrassingly clear that many of them have zero understanding of the Constitution they’ve sworn to uphold. Even after it becomes abundantly clear that they are doing the bidding of their donors rather than concerning themselves with the interests of their constituents.

Yep. We have met the enemy, and it is most definitely us.


  1. Pogo’s comment is on target yet today. A saying which I can’t remember is Zen or something from the stoned mind of a 1960’s hippie, but it seemed to gain a life of it’s own “back in the day”. “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear, does it make a sound?” To me this makes as much sense as, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see, does it hit the ground?” A statement from a Stephen King novel makes more sense, “The situation is what the situation is.” The situation today is that media today is teeming with gossip, inconsistencies, lies, baseless accusations between political parties, baby bumps, those Kardashian folks whose place in the media I still don’t understand, and the battle to regain civil rights that were ours till the GOP pseudo Christians and SCOTUS began hacking away at them one at a time. I could add to the list but you know what I am saying.

    I have used movies as sources for information on occasion; today I am going to suggest you watch, “Inherit the Wind”, “All The President’s Men” and, if you find them, the arguments between Archie and Meathead on “All In The Family”. They are all from decades ago; “Inherit The Wind” came out in 1960; only the names and faces have changed and of course inflation and the pesky wars we can’t seem to get away from which have wasted tax dollars that could have been better spent. We made some progress in the late 20th Century but have lost ground in this 21st Century. Ground we cannot seem to regain, rights we cannot seem to hold on to, the Constitution which used to be our source of some level of salvation has been bastardized till what the media reports as based on that document is unrecognizable. “Money can’t buy love” but it sure as hell can buy a government and in some instances is using our tax dollars for the purchse. We can’t believe what we read in the media and often cannot believe what we see due to “photoshopping”. We are shadow boxing; the enemy is us and we cannot escape ourselves.

    Sheila’s blog is a daily dose of information and wisdom; with a surprising number of same from commenters. Earl mentioned recently that we are preaching to the choir; is there a way to stop preaching to one another and put information and responses from this blog into the media where it will reach more than those of us who know and care about the truth?

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. I personally believe that this is a reflection of the deterioration of the American education system. With less focus on actually educating youth, there is not a thirst for knowledge. Without a thirst for knowledge, questioning our government will never be a priority. Many youth are uninformed adequately in our history, which basically makes them unconcerned about our present adherence the Constitution, or lack there of .

  3. As Sheila has so eloquently pointed out, we are responsible for those who we elect. We support the media with our eyes and ears as well as dollars spent on advertisers’ good and services. Her comment about journalists and propaganda was timely in view of the banner headline of this morning’s Star fawning article on Sen. Coats. We are reminded that he is a workhorse, but very late in the article we find out who he is working for:
    “Talk of compromising remains a risky proposition, of course. But Coats seems to have solidified support back home among the conservatives who play such a critical role in primaries. It’s taken work; he received just 39 percent of the vote in the 2010 GOP primary, winning because four harder-line conservatives split the rest of the vote.”
    We are supposed to admire his representation of the citizens of Indiana because he has done the following:
    “….. he has appeased a skeptical NRA crowd with his newfound unbending stance on gun issues. He has routinely issued press releases criticizing President Obama and supporting the Keystone Pipeline plan. He hired an Indiana staff that has worked hard to make sure he is seen as in tune with his party’s base. He leaves time on his schedule to record bits with Indiana TV stations….”
    As voters, we actively or passively have responsibility for his actions. I recently saw a Russian fol saying that sums it up nicely. “It’s no use blaming the mirror if you have an ugly face.”

  4. Coats moved to a southern state (one of the Carolina’s I think); he worked 14 years as a lobbyist (probably a work horse in that capacity) while bad-mouthing the state of Indiana and made enough money to return to buy his seat in the Senate. Apparently being a work horse has it’s benefits. I didn’t read Tully’s article because it appeared to be totally supportive of Coats; will take the time to read it today.

  5. JD, thanks for mentioning Mr. Coats. In the spirit of “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer”, I subscribe to his regular “Coats Notes”. Wise people understand that as they grow older, they need stand for what makes sense, because they are focused on their heirs and making this a better place. Silly people, like Mr. Coats, focus on the drooling base and doing what they pay him to do. He is predictable in his ideology, lacking imagination and, well, boring and banal. He moved here from retirement to carry out orders, serving as a good soldier for the base, but his sight and vision for the future is gone, if he ever had it. If this is the best we can elect, it’s over.

  6. There are those who believe that the role of life in the universe was to produce humanity in turn to elevate that role to collective learning. That the output of life is knowledge. Collective learning. While we have no completion in that role it’s hard to imagine more success.

    Where we fail miserably is individual learning. Our public education system is scarcely different than it was 100 years ago when the body of knowledge to be taught was a small fraction of today.

    And we in the “first” world are saddled by another dificiency. We have so much that ambition has been replaced by entitlement. We’ve evolved from ambition and drive to gain success to purely defensive protecting what we have. We feel entitled to it so maintaining it is our birthright.

    There was a moment when it seemed that our savior would be the Internet. All of mankind’s knowledge available to everyone. Life long learning.

    But our sense of entitlement took over and now the Internet is nothing more than entertainment reinforcing that what we each wish was true in fact is. We’ve lost the drive for truth and settled for confirmation that reinforces our individual ignorance. Paradise lost.

    Unfortunately collective learning doesn’t vote, individual ignorance does. Democracy can be manipulated to the ends of electing tyranny.

    The question is: will losing our material comfort now revealed to be unaffordable restore ambition and drive and individual learning over entitlement to feel right dispite what collective learning reveals?

    I don’t know. I just don’t know.

  7. One refreshing bit of news comes from the Republicans for Ritz people. The other day, one of Indiana’s representatives sat down with a group of farmers, all prepared to discuss the property tax mess that promises to bankrupt farms. Instead, the farmers grilled the person on the Pence-Ritz mess, focusing on how they believed it was rotten for the legislature and governor to do what they are doing to education in the state. It’ one thing when a group of teachers demonstrate for education, but when the farmers beat up a senator instead of focusing on their property taxes, that is heroic.

  8. I agree that Sheila’s blog is valuable and that is why I subscribe. I re-post her columns on my Facebook page (at least many of them) to try and spread them around. It costs nothing but a few seconds and can do much good. I suggest those of you with your own Facebook pages do the same if you aren’t already

  9. @ JoAnn Greene: As a philosophy BS and amatuer semiologist, I cannot resist sharing this quote:
    In June 1883 in the magazine The Chautauquan, the question was put, “If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound?” They then went on to answer the query with, “No. Sound is the sensation excited in the ear when the air or other medium is set in motion.”

  10. Richard; I drug out my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary to look up “chautauqua”: “An institution of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries providing popular education combined with entertainment in the form of lectures, concerts, and plays often presented outdoors or in a tent.”

    So my version of the quote was a paraphrase from somewhere but it doesn’t sound philosophical or even serious in it’s orginal form. If no one was there, who knows whether there was sound or not, how could they answer the question with no way to prove their answer? Being profoundly deaf I would be of no help at all as sound doesn’t excite a sensation in my ears when air is set in motion. I do have a question – what other “medium” would/could be set in motion to excite a sensation in anyone’s ears resulting in sound?

    I had great fun with your comment and even more trying to come up with a response after learning the definition of the word “chautauqua” which was what I expected to find. The term was used in the movie “Inherit The Wind” referring to old time religious tent revivals whose supporters comprised the majority of those opposed to teaching evolution in schools – and I’m sure was true of the actual Scopes “Monkey” Trial in Tennessee in 1925. Seeing this same battle in modern form in this 21st Century has taken us back to that 1925 trial era rather than moving us forward and has provided no more solutions to the problem today that it did at that time. The 1925 guilty verdict was overturned on appeal but evolution was still not allowed to be taught in schools.

  11. “Chautauqua” is still a village in SW New York where many people gather for a summer season of intellectual and cultural refreshment. Quite an experience.

  12. Ok, this somehow leads us toward beating ourselves up for voting republican, not voting, not something. Face it. We have very little control over our news, or our politics, and I’m just not going to take the blame for that. I have consistently voted, which is, according to the above comments, the cure for whatever ails us and cancer, but it hasn’t worked in the past, and it’s not working now. AND the fact that gazillionaires have the upper hand is also not my fault. It is just as much a fault of the bought out democrats as it is the bought out republicans. Neither party apparatus is controlled by the voters. Thus the put up job that was Obama the Kenyan Socialist (oh, if ONLY!!!), and Donnelly who runs as a democrat, but is to the right of Goldwater. I have many times made complaints to what purports to be the ‘democratic party’ in Indiana, but it was made clear party dissent was not appreciated. Also, the dems don’t support their own candidates. They decide which race they can win, and make a showing there, which means Andre Carson. The rest of us are treated like ugly step children. How is this my fault? I participate, work the polls, and vote. And what do you know, Republicans keep winning, the government lurches farther right, but it’s my fault. I call bullshit on that. Corruption is very hard to overcome when they not only control the levers of government, but own all the news outlets. I find it amusing that even the Pew Research Foundation (Pravada for Free Enterprise) is getting kind of nervous about how well the 1% have taken over to the detriment of the rest of us. Now, we don’t even make enough to pay for health care and our kid’s education on our own. This situation is way, WAY beyond being cured by voting.

  13. The real issue is how do we move ahead toward a better society by identifying a path around what seems the inevitable. I suppose that we can continue on the current trajectory and will eventually have the complete capitulation of our free society to the oligarch scenario that is frequently referenced in this blog. I don’t believe that any of us alone can unseat the entrenched and growing influence of big money in our political system; those that benefit most are the ones we need to convince to change the system. We have to create our own system which will impact elections and enable outsiders to win. We need ideas and political inertia.

  14. GC makes some good points but the issue is not fault. It’s responsible correction of the country’s trajectory. Or acceptance that democracy has already lost the war.

    I personally see only one strategy working. Influencing as many people as each of us can towards campaign financing reform as an over riding issue for election. A radical strategy for radical times. Risky like radical surgery but I can’t see an alternative. Only settle for those who promise to stop media campaign advertising all together and only allow public funded public run publically held debate. Make oligarchy illegal. Don’t offer me money simply because I have no use for it.

    I would love to learn that there are other options.

    Can anyone suggest something else?

  15. Pete, I offer that the processes of evolution have been stemmed by suedo socialism, both now and in the past. Allowed to work freely, we would not see mankind as it is today. The Bell Curve predicted that we will get dumber and dumber, and we have. Selective breeding (slavery) has also bent this curve. The Great Leveler is no longer at work.

    Dumber people should have died out long ago according to selection but we give them guns and hospitalization. Just how smart do you believe gazillionaires to be? How far would Irsay have gone without his Dad? How long would the 1% survive without the 99% to prop them up?

    Where is the law that says we are the superior species? Are we above the cockroach who has outlived us by far. If life is about living, we have lots of catching up to do and I don’t think we’ll make it. It has been said that the sun will endure for more than a billion years. Little trace of mankind appears a million years ago. Do the math. Just how important can we be?

  16. Earl, I think that physically we are a superb example of the great potential of life. Evolution has proven its worth.

    Culturally though we are certainly wanting. The best of us are too few, the worst too plentiful and the average uninspired.

    The best however are more than enough inspiration to be hopeful.

    What many would like to think are the best of times are actually near the worst in terms of the future. When those chickens come home to roost we’ll either be inspired to be much better or overwhelmed.

    Historically we’ve found ways to rise to the occasion when our backs get to the wall.

    I only wish that I could have good seats to the show.

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