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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Wheel Of Moron

For those of you haven't had quite enough of the intellectual equivalent of runaway bride stories, may I direct you to the deep thoughts of Pat Sajak. Yes, the Wheel of Fortune guy; no, Vanna doesn't turn each letter as you scroll down.

Pat apparently fancies himself that rare breed of independent thinker. He's not beholden to the usual lefty Streisand-Reiner trope. Why, it's enough to make Ed Grimley sport some serious wood, I must say.

Today Pat takes on those mean ol' libruls who are "rooting against America". You know the sort -- they question the boilerplate, deconstruct the talking points, assume that their government is lying to them because it's been lying to them.

Those eeeeevil bastards.

A distasteful glee emanates from the Left upon the arrival of any bad news from the Middle East. It’s as if they are saying, “So, W, where is all the Democracy we’re supposed to be spreading through the area? See, we were right, and you were wrong. And deceitful. And dumb.” And as bad news is welcomed as an indictment of the President and his policies, good news (and there has been plenty) must be minimized or ignored.

It’s one thing to oppose an Administration’s foreign policy, but it’s another to publicly gloat over and appear to smugly enjoy any of its setbacks. The long tradition of a Loyal Opposition in this country now appears to be an old-fashioned notion. There may have been widespread resistance to America’s entry into World War II, but once we were in it, there wasn’t much doubt about whom Americans were pulling for.


I seriously had to double-check to make sure this was the current column. It's déjà vu all over again, ripped straight from Page One of the Ann Coulter Bullshit Checklist from 2003. Vague invocation of "the Left", whomever they may be? Check. Act as if the supposed opinion of said "Left" carried any weight in a country run quite overtly by the right and its minions? Check. Completely ignore the base motives and bad faith of said righties, and make it look like it's all overwhelmingly one-sided? You betchum. Pretend like a martial-law election and a couple hundred repainted schools are supposed to offset $300 bn in damage and tens of thousands of wasted lives, because these assholes got every-fucking-thing wrong? Oh, checkaroony, Patski.

Even the grossly inapt (and inept) comparisons to World War Two. Look, asshole, we got into WW2 to fight seriously aggressive and rapacious imperialist expansionism on either side of us. It took a singular catastrophe like Pearl Harbor to demonstrate clearly that we couldn't hew to our isolationist impulses and sit it out, but it still doesn't mean Pearl Harbor was "like" 9/11 in that regard.

9/11 certainly meant that we couldn't sit by and let Taliban and al-Qaeda flourish anymore, but this war had nothing to do with Iraq fomenting the ascendance of such terrorist organizations. If that was the actual goal, then Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would have been first on our list after rooting the Taliban out of Afghanistan. They actually did help those groups, and might even still be, and we damned well know it. And we wagged a finger at them and proceeded to kick the chihuahua in this dog pound. Yeah, that's just like meeting Hitler and Tojo head-on. Fucking idiot.

Nor did it have anything to do with "liberation", no matter how many times they snidely repeat that lie. Israel is the closest thing to a democracy in the region, and it spasms weekly over its bad habit of kicking Palestinians off their land for being, um, Palestinian. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia just had elections. Women, as always, were not allowed to vote. Sounds like freedom's on the march there!

I'd go for the obvious and tell Pat to buy a vowel, but what he really needs to buy is a damned clue, in bulk if possible. This is the objective reality of what he's saying here: even though Democrats warned -- as diplomatically as possible, given the very real climate of fear at the time -- that invading Iraq was a fool's errand, like throwing gasoline instead of water on a burning house, that was then and this is now. And now that the house is indeed burning more quickly, and the Democrats had been rudely told that their advice was not only unnecessary but treasonous, they should just shut the fuck up and pitch in, and help put out the fire they not only didn't start, but tried to prevent.


If our country’s Middle East policies prove to be the disaster some claim, there will be plenty of time for recriminations. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with voicing concerns about these policies, what is to be gained by actively working to undercut them or rooting for their failure?


Middle East policies are a disaster, and what makes Pat think that there will be "plenty of time for recriminations"? How does he know? The problem is, there is a huge case, which I and many others have been laying plank by careful plank for quite some time, that the era of American primacy is very likely coming to an end. We started smart, in realizing that the oil-based industrial economy would not keep apace in perpetuity, so we engaged in globalizing and setting up an infotech economy during the '90s.

Since then, we've gone in the exact opposite direction, making zero effort to conserve fuel even as we approach (or may even have already passed) peak oil production and refinement capacity. And we have a criminally crumbling infrastructure -- both the roads-and-electrical-grids kind, and the educational kind.

Even without an unnecessary, tremendously expensive war, the accelerated (by globalization) ascendancy experienced by demographically-advantaged countries like China and India would have been a challenge for us to face eventually, in terms of allocation of finite resources as well as economically. Let's just say the war has hugely accelerated that timetable, and China in particular has used our distractive fantasies of liberation to its own advantage.

Not only that, but even within our own hemisphere, the South American countries are emerging in a strong fashion from the authoritarian cocoon we had them in for decades, and they're pissed. If they get the notion to band together and form a Latin American bloc, that's another thing we get to deal with.

Someone needs to point out to Pat and his fellow useful idiots that being skeptical of your government and illuminating increasingly probable futures is not rooting against your country. Soberly looking at facts and figures and assessing them in context, and projecting likely outcomes is a dispassionate science at best. It is not as easy as mindlessly standing with patriotic paraphernalia and chewing the latest government-issued talking points like a Cud Of Freedom™, but it is at least intellectually honest.


Ronald Reagan brought hopefulness back into vogue in this country. Sophisticates mocked “Morning in America” and gasped at the phrase, “Evil Empire” and chortled over the notion Mr. Gorbachev would “tear down this wall”, but Americans are a hopeful people. And, while optimism is not a policy, it can help form policy.


Yeah well, "la la la I can't HEEEEAR you!" is not a policy either, even when shouted through a Yale cheerleader's megaphone. Look, Reagan was like most people -- neither as awful as his detractors insisted, nor as noble as his hagiographers claim. He was a nice guy with some ideas predicated on human decency, but the elves in the background pulling the strings signed off on an awful lot of horrid things, and they drove us into debt while the usual 1% cleaned up nicely selling us $1100 hammers. Sound familiar?

As for the fall of the Berlin Wall, yes it was a momentous event in history. But some perspective is lost -- Russia was left an economic basket case, and still is (as Pooty-Poot softly mumbled just this week, because Dear Cheerleader will brook nothing less than perfect hallelujahs for Freedom and Democracy, even in societies that were quite literally thrown in the deep end, prey for hedge-fund vultures and mafiya pimps).

Russia is actually a good example of what may come if we don't stop fucking around. The Soviet Union bamboozled the world -- and in turn, themselves -- that they were a real menace. In many ways they were, of course; they had the weapons and manpower to do some real damage. They still do. But a bad-ass army presiding over a withered and drained infrastructure, because every available resource has gone into propping up the military juggernaut, is a loss leader.

Even if the terrorism in Iraq stops tomorrow, and the oil immediately starts flowing freely, and OPEC lifts production caps so money can be made from Iraqi oil, and we get, say, 50% of the gross while they rebuild with the other half, and every other potential flashpoint around the world dials down overnight so we can just roll up and come home -- even if all those things magically go right simultaneously, do you have any idea how fucking long it will take to recoup 300 billion dollars? Pat doesn't seem to know -- or worse yet, care.

But when the pie's not really getting any higher, it becomes more of a zero-sum game, and that money spent comes out of somewhere else. Right now that somewhere is our infrastructure, our foundation for staying competitive in the future. And our social safety net; one of the social compacts Enlightenment countries have had in order to secure those blessings for the less fortunate -- which is in itself a growing proportion of the populace.

What Pat doesn't seem to want to get is that pyramid societies are ultimately doomed from their enormous inequities. In a country of our sheer size and power, what you get is a dinosaur falling and going through its death throes.

Pat and his fellow cheerleaders hear the "boom boom boom" of the tyrannosaur lumbering through the jungle primeval, feared and respected by the lesser herbivores. What the skeptics have been trying to point out -- before it's too late, as the tired cliché goes -- is that the "boom boom boom" could also be the thrashing of the dying dinosaur's tail. This certainly does not mean that we wish it were so; what we wish for is that we the people stop enabling the thieves and liars who are bringing us to our knees, either through willful stupidity or outright mal-fee-ance.

Since Pat's idiocy is nothing new, I learned a long time ago that his ilk can't tell the difference, because they don't want to. This is a political climate in which everyone has their backs up over even the seemingly most innocuous of issues. There's not much chance of getting Sajak to read outside his proscribed circle, but that doesn't mean his bullshit should go unanswered.

In fact, more and more I think us skeptics are the true friends of America, the ones that will come to you and say to your face what everyone else says behind your back. Dude, you have a fucking drug problem, and if you don't get your shit together, you're gonna get fired and your old lady's gonna divorce you and take half your shit. In this case the drugs are oil and hubris and jingoistic pride, and if we don't get into rehab, all the happy thoughts from Pat and his coterie of semi-literate game-show housewives won't save us from our demons.


There are plenty of issues over which you can disagree with George W. Bush, including Iraq and his push for democratization throughout the world. You may find him wrongheaded or naïve. You may think his policies will blow up in our faces. But if you feel that way, shouldn’t you at least hope you’re wrong and he’s right.


Actually, I've seen quite a few players in the more liberal sectors of the media say exactly that many times, even if just to pre-emptively insulate themselves from brainless accusations like the one above. Shouldn't Pat share at least one name from this putative clowder of rooting-for-failure-mongers? And in this mealy-mouthed spirit of togetherness, shouldn't he take a break from his emotional mewling and at least take a glance at the facts and the trends right in front of him, if only to get more of an idea as to why we're not all buying into what Bushco is selling?



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The Thinker atop his Stool Of Thought™.




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7 comments:

vonKreedon said...

This certainly does not mean that we wish it were so; what we wish for is that we the people stop enabling the thieves and liars who are bringing us to our knees, either through willful stupidity or outright mal-fee-ance.

Excellent critique of the right's attempt to wage preventative culture war on the public's right to critize government policy.

Craig Heath said...

Heywood - not to put too fine a point on what you've repeatedly said (and better than I can):

The Soviet Union bamboozled the world -- and in turn, themselves -- that they were a real menace... But a bad-ass army presiding over a withered and drained infrastructure, because every available resource has gone into propping up the military juggernaut, is a loss leader.

This is how many in the US claim we won the Cold War - by scaring the USSR into draining and withering their coffers and infrastructure to prop up that military might, until the whole charade crumbled.

Does anyone on the Right think that we could fall prey to the same stupidity? Seems not. It would take a 10th-grade understanding of world history to know that all empires crumble for exactly the same reason, and who wants to actually read the assignments, let alone do the workbook?

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