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I'm not sure which is more depressing: that the House and Senate caved to White House intimidation over the "need" for broader domestic surveillance powers, or that none of my patients -- including a local attorney -- seems to have heard anything about it.

Like many Americans, I had a spike of hope when Democrats won control of the House and Senate last November. Since then, Republican/White House obstructionism combined with the cowardice of certain Democratic members of Congress has tempered (if not destroyed) that hope. And when I despair, I turn to the political blogs for hope; and when those blogs drive me further into depression, I listen to music.

This is a diary about the new Nine Inch Nails CD, Year Zero.

A caveat: I lack the vocabulary to discuss music; I don't even know that much about Nine Inch Nails. I don't listen to much music, so for all I know, there may be a lot of other good protest songs out there. This diary from Kestrel9000 addresses those other guys and gals.

NIN's Trent Reznor isn't for everyone. (Has there ever been a protest musician for everyone? Was Baez or Dylan for everyone?) But Trent's just right for me. I can relate to his fury, his frustration, and, yes, his self-hatred.

And, you know what? I like his rage a lot better now that it's turned against the injustices of our times, rather than other musicians (e.g., The Fragile's "Starf*ckers Inc.") or the music industry (e.g., The Downward Spiral's "March of the Pigs") or himself (e.g., The Downward Spiral's "Hurt"). Trent Reznor, long an apolitical performer, has found his public voice.

Admittedly, "The Hand that Feeds" (With Teeth) had George W. Bush as its target. But I think "The Hand that Feeds" was, well, hopeful:

Just how deep do you believe?

Will you bite the hand that feeds?

Will you chew until it bleeds?

Can you get up off your knees?

Are you brave enough to see?

Do you want to change it?

Not much hope, admittedly, but Reznor's asking the questions; he's not assuming any answers. In Year Zero's "Meet Your Master" that slender beam of hope is gone.

You've left quite a mess here

Under your stewardship

You thought you figured it out but

You'll find your place in this

Most of Reznor's anger is reserved for this Administration's enablers. I think that's the real point of Year Zero's "Capital G":

Well I use to stand for something

Now I'm on my hands and knees

Trading in my god for this one

And he signs his name with a capital G

In "The Beginning of the End," the theme appears again:

You wait your turn you'll be last in line

This is the beginning

Get out the way, cause I'm getting mine

This is the beginning

God helps the ones that can help themselves

This is the beginning

Is this good music for the resistance? Is it constructive to loathe ourselves for sustaining this Administration -- with our tax dollars, if not with our votes?

I really don't know. With family and friends, I've shared my growing sense of guilt and complicity. Throwing money at progressive candidates, signing petitions, writing my Congresscritters -- it's a salve for that guilt, but not a very good one. The disgust keeps building inside me. When Bush and his minions commit some new atrocity on the Constitution, and when Congress fails to slap them down, that disgust threatens to boil over.

No small wonder that the chorus of Year Zero's last song, "Zero Sum," chokes me up every time.

Shame on us

Doomed from the start

May god have mercy

On our dirty little hearts

Shame on us

For all we've done

And all we ever were

Just zeros and ones

. . . because what precedes it (a whisper, sotto voce, the voice of conscience) seems to be the story of my impotent pseudo-activist life:

They're starting to open up the sky,

They're starting to reach down through.

And it feels like we're living in that split second

Of a car crash

And time is slowing down,

And if we'd only had a little more time

And this time

Is all there is

Do you remember the time we

And all the times we

And should have

And were going to

I know.

And I know you remember

How we could justify it all

And we knew better

In our hearts we knew better.

And we told ourselves it didn't matter.

And we chose to continue

And none of that matters anymore.

In the hour of our twilight

And soon it will be all said and done,

And we'll all be back together, as one

If we continue at all.

In our hearts, we knew better. Now I know I'm not alone in feeling like I haven't done enough, yet not knowing what else to do.

May God have mercy on our dirty little hearts.

Cross-posted at my place.

Originally posted to Balls and Walnuts on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 07:03 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Help me see the way clear (4+ / 0-)

    please.

    On a more mundane note, I'll be back and forth for the next hour or two. Gotta feed the fam.

    We drew our heavy revolvers (suddenly in the dream there were revolvers) and exultantly killed the gods. -- Jorge Luis Borges, Ragnarok

    by Hobbitfoot on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 06:53:35 PM PDT

    •  political music (0+ / 0-)

      If you're into the pseudo-industrial sound and themes of NiN, you might want to give KMFDM a try. Real industrial from the godfather of the genre.

      and quoth: "We shall use all peaceful means to overcome tyranny, Persist and march on"

      Terror - KMFDM

      I try to keep my faith alive
      I'm close enough to trip the wire
      I cannot keep my hate inside
      I'm gonna set myself on fire
      I get closer beat by beat
      To get the thing I really need
      I'm fucking terrified
      Will you be ever satisfied?

      Day after day innocent people are being deported, interrogated and tortured, put through the third degree
      Fundamentalist forces are undermining the integrity of liberal and democratic political structures
      Radical anarchists, fascists and terrorists are responsible for the violence

      I try to keep my faith alive
      I'm close enough to trip the wire
      I cannot keep my hate inside
      I'm gonna set myself on fire
      I get closer beat by beat
      To get the thing I really need
      I'm fucking terrified
      Will you be ever satisfied?

      Our societies are saturated with bloodlust, sensationalism and violence as a result of alienation from oneself’s reality
      How much longer do we tolerate mass murder?

      I try to keep my faith alive
      I'm close enough to trip the wire
      I cannot keep my hate inside
      I'm gonna set myself on fire

      Hand-cuffs and shackles won't frighten us
      Neither cattle-prod nor electrical-whip will silence us
      We shall use all peaceful means to overcome tyranny
      Persist and march on
      They can't use our shame against us
      Regardless of race, social status or gender
      We're all affected

      I try to keep my faith alive
      I'm close enough to trip the wire
      I cannot keep my hate inside
      I'm gonna set myself on fire
      I get closer beat by beat
      To get the thing I really need
      I get closer beat by beat
      To get the thing I really need
      I get closer beat by beat
      To get the thing I really need
      I'm fucking terrified
      Will you be ever satisfied?

  •  Anger is an Energy (0+ / 0-)

    I never really liked Public Image Limited very much, because I could tell that punk rockers were posers (I liked Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead in the 1980s when I started paying attention to music). But they certainly understood "Public Image". And their song Rise was a good one, that often seems right during long Republican regimes:

    I could be wrong
    I could be right
    I could be wrong

    I could be wrong
    I could be right
    I could be black
    I could be white
    I could be right
    I could be wrong
    I could be white
    I could be black

    Your time has come
    Your second skin
    The cost so high
    The gain so low
    Walk through the valley
    The written word is a lie

    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you

    I could be wrong
    I could be right
    I could be wrong
    I could be right

    II could be wrong
    I could be right
    I could be wrong
    I could be right
    could be black
    I could be white
    I could be right
    I could be wrong
    I could be black
    I could be white
    They put a hot wire to my head
    Cos of the things I did and said
    They made these feelings go away
    Model citizen in every way

    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you

    Anger is an energy
    Anger is an energy
    Anger is an energy

    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you

    Anger is an energy
    Anger is an energy
    Anger is an energy

    I could be wrong
    I could be right
    I could be wrong
    I could be right

    I could be wrong
    I could be right
    I could be black
    I could be white
    I could be right
    I could be wrong
    I could be black
    I could be white
    Your time has come your second skin
    Cost so high the gain so low
    Walk through the valley
    The written word is a lie

    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you

    I could be wrong
    I could be right
    I could be wrong

    They put a hot wire to my head
    Cos of the things I did and said
    They made these feelings go away
    A model citizen in every way
    Your time has come your second skin
    Cost so high the gain so low

    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you
    May the road rise with you

    Anger is an energy
    Anger is an energy
    Anger is an energy
    Anger is an energy
    Anger is an energy (repeat)

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 07:04:32 PM PDT

    •  Pink Floyd still (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, DocGonzo

      does it for me. They got legs :)

      We drew our heavy revolvers (suddenly in the dream there were revolvers) and exultantly killed the gods. -- Jorge Luis Borges, Ragnarok

      by Hobbitfoot on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 07:48:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pigs (537 Different Ones) (0+ / 0-)

        Funny, as I was pasting in "Rise", I was singing "ha ha, charade you are". Pink Floyd certainly crystallized my political cynicism and outrage as I sang to their albums as Reagan's recession and then Iran/Contra unfolded.

        But despite their continuing popularity, the punk posers have established themselves solidly enough in our collective consciousness that any resistance music has to have some "punk cred". "Rock the Casbah" still has a lot of punch, though.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Thu Aug 09, 2007 at 04:55:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  just waving at you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hobbitfoot

    not reciting lyrics. I'm still stuck with barenaked ladies buy buy buy sell sell sell from the last war.

  •  I love NIN (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cognitive dissonance, Autarkh

    I think Reznor is some sort of dark genius.  I haven't heard the new album but their old stuff is brilliant.  The only problem is that I find that it tends to depress me even further so I try to avoid it on weekdays when I have work, etc.  :-)

    Do you ever listen to Rage Against the Machine?  They're good also, I think.

    American overseas? Register to vote at www.VoteFromAbroad.org

    by YoyogiBear on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 07:39:45 PM PDT

    •  cure for depression (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Autarkh

      I'm one of those strange ones who seeks out depressing stuff when I'm depressed. It seems to work well for me. On the other hand, Pee Wee's Big Adventure used to give me a lift whenever I was down . . .

      I recall listening to a little of Rage Against the Machine, but I didn't like them for some reason.

      We drew our heavy revolvers (suddenly in the dream there were revolvers) and exultantly killed the gods. -- Jorge Luis Borges, Ragnarok

      by Hobbitfoot on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 07:46:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rage Against the Machine... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cognitive dissonance, Hobbitfoot

    ...just reunited.

    I think you'd be hard pressed to find a sharper rejoinder to this war than "Testify":


    The movie ran through me.
    The glamour subdued me.
    The tabloid untied me.
    I'm empty please fill me.
    Mister anchor assure me,
    That Baghdad is burning.
    Your voice it is so soothing,
    That cunning mantra of killing.
    I need you my witness,
    To dress this up so bloodless;
    To numb me,
    and purge me now
    Of thoughts of blaming you.
    Yes, the car is our wheelchair.
    My witness, your coughing
    Oily silence mocks the legless,
    Those who travel now in coffins.
    On the corner,
    The jury's sleepless,
    We found your weakness,
    And it's right outside your door.

    Now testify!
    Now testify!
    It's right outside your door!
    Now testify!
    Yes, testify!
    Its right outside your door!

    With precision you feed me,
    My witness I'm hungry.
    Your temple it calms me,
    So I can carry on.
    My slaving, sweating,
    the skin right off my bones,
    On a bed of fire,
    I'm choking on the smoke that fills my home.
    The wrecking ball is rushing,
    Witness you're blushing,
    The pipeline is gushing,
    While here we lie in tombs;
    While on the corner,
    The jury's sleepless,
    We found your weakness,
    And it's right outside your door!

    Now testify!
    Yeah, testify!
    It's right outside your door!
    Now testify!
    Now testify!

    It's right outside your door!

    Mass graves for the pump when the price is set,
    And the price is set.
    Mass graves for the pump when the price is set,
    And the price is set.
    Mass graves for the pump when the price is set,
    And the price is set.
    Mass graves for the pump when the price is set,
    And the price is set.

    Who controls the past now controls the future.
    Who controls the present now controls the past.
    Who controls the past now controls the future.
    Who controls the present now?

    Now testify!
    Testify!
    It's right outside your door!
    Now testify!
    Testify!
    The war is right outside your door!

    •  I ought to give them a second chance (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cognitive dissonance

      great lyrics!

      We drew our heavy revolvers (suddenly in the dream there were revolvers) and exultantly killed the gods. -- Jorge Luis Borges, Ragnarok

      by Hobbitfoot on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 07:47:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My favorite Rage song "Wake Up" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cognitive dissonance

        Come on!
        Uggh!

        Come on, although ya try to discredit
        Ya still never edit
        The needle, I'll thread it
        Radically poetic
        Standin' with the fury that they had in '66
        And like E-Double I'm mad
        Still knee-deep in the system's shit
        Hoover, he was a body remover
        I'll give ya a dose
        But it'll never come close
        To the rage built up inside of me
        Fist in the air, in the land of hypocrisy

        Movements come and movements go
        Leaders speak, movements cease
        When their heads are flown
        'Cause all these punks
        Got bullets in their heads
        Departments of police, the judges, the feds
        Networks at work, keepin' people calm
        You know they went after King
        When he spoke out on Vietnam
        He turned the power to the have-nots
        And then came the shot

        Yeah!
        Yeah, back in this...
        Wit' poetry, my mind I flex
        Flip like Wilson, vocals never lackin' dat finesse
        Whadda I got to, whadda I got to do to wake ya up
        To shake ya up, to break the structure up
        'Cause blood still flows in the gutter
        I'm like takin' photos
        Mad boy kicks open the shutter
        Set the groove
        Then stick and move like I was Cassius
        Rep the stutter step
        Then bomb a left upon the fascists
        Yea, the several federal men
        Who pulled schemes on the dream
        And put it to an end
        Ya better beware
        Of retribution with mind war
        20/20 visions and murals with metaphors
        Networks at work, keepin' people calm
        Ya know they murdered X
        And tried to blame it on Islam
        He turned the power to the have-nots
        And then came the shot

        Uggh!
        What was the price on his head?
        What was the price on his head!

        I think I heard a shot
        I think I heard a shot
        I think I heard a shot
        I think I heard a shot
        I think I heard a shot
        I think I heard, I think I heard a shot

        'He may be a real contender for this position should he
        abandon his supposed obediance to white liberal doctrine
        of non-violence...and embrace black nationalism'
        'Through counter-intelligence it should be possible to
        pinpoint potential trouble-makers...And neutralize them,
        neutralize them, neutralize them'

        Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!
        Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

        How long? Not long, cause what you reap is what you sow

  •  You want an angry, aggressive (0+ / 0-)

    anti-war song, go with Otep - Warhead

    It's still my favorite.  Not for the faint of heart.  

  •  just a little more KMFDM... (0+ / 0-)

    One more won't hurt anyone... much.

    Dogma - KMFDM

    All we want is a headrush
    All we want is to get out of our skin for a while
    We have nothing to lose because we don't have anything
    Anything we want anyway
    We used to hate people
    Now we just make fun of them
    It's more effective that way
    We don't live
    We just scratch on day to day
    With nothing but matchbooks and
    Sarcasm in our pockets
    And all we are waiting for
    Is for something worth waiting for
    Let's admit America gets the celebrities we deserve
    Let's stop saying "Don't quote me
    Because if no one quotes you
    You probably haven't said a thing worth saying

    Sex, drugs, God, cash
    Sex, drugs, God, America
    We need something to kill the pain of all that nothing inside
    Sex, drugs, God, cash
    Sex, drugs, God, America
    We all just want to die a little bit

    We fear that pop culture
    Is the only kind of culture we're ever gonna have
    We want to stop reading magazines
    Stop watching TV
    Stop caring about Hollywood
    But we're addicted to the things we hate
    We don't run Washington and no one really does
    Ask not what you can do for your country
    Ask what your country did to you

    Sex, drugs, God, cash
    Sex, drugs, God, America
    The only reason you're still alive is because someone
    Has decided to let you live
    Sex, drugs, God, cash
    Sex, drugs, God, America
    We owe so much money we're not broke, we're broken
    We're so poor we can't even pay attention

    So what do you want?
    You want to be famous and rich and happy
    But you're terrified you have nothing to offer this world
    Nothing to say and no way to say it
    But you can say it in three languages
    You are more than the sum of what you consume
    Desire is not an occupation
    You are alternately thrilled and desperate
    Sky high and fucked
    Let's stop praying for someone
    To save us and start saving ourselves
    Let's stop this and start over
    Let's go out
    Let's keep going

    Sex, drugs, God, cash
    Sex, drugs, God, America
    This is your life
    This is your fucking life
    America
    Sex, drugs, God, cash
    Sex, drugs, God, America
    We need something to kill the pain of all that nothing inside
    America
    America

    Quit whining you haven't done
    Anything wrong because frankly
    You haven't done much of anything
    Sex, drugs, God, cash
    Sex, drugs, God, America
    Someone's writing down your mistakes
    Someone's documenting your downfall

  •  2 Minutes to Midnight (0+ / 0-)

    Iron Maiden playing 80's protest rock with appropriate scorn and disgust.

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