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Friday, October 07, 2005

Brass Flunky

Two Supreme Court nominations within weeks of each other. This is roughly the judicial equivalent of Comets Halley and Kohoutek colliding in space, or at least performing a tantalizingly close pass. Too bad it's wasted on such an unworthy preznit.

Having shot what was left of his political wad by shoving John Roberts and his SCOTUS training wheels right up into the seat vacated by Rehnquist's desiccated soul, Bush decided to split the difference by nominating a reliable cipher to fill the seat of Sandra Day O'Connor (formerly TV's Maude).

The coverage is essentially a rerun of what we saw with Roberts -- pro-life or pro-choice? Pro-gay-marriage or anti? For Christ's sake, in this day and age, with the complex, earth-shattering issues this nation faces -- as we enter a phase of declining hegemony and dwindling political, financial, and resource capital -- this is all we can fuckin' worry about?

We measure our standard of living here in the US in two major ways. One is in terms of raw dollars -- GDP; GNP; per capita income; etc. Those are clear numerical metrics. Very easy to quantify in a money-driven society. And we're kicking ass in those areas -- on paper at least.

But in the other primary metric -- that of comparison of quality-of-life statistics with those of other industrialized nations -- we are typically very low on the food chain. Health care. Infant mortality. Literacy (and by "literacy", I mean effective written communication, not just the usual half-assed cipherin'). Awareness of politics, geography, science, economics, history, and other important disciplines that directly affect how the world operates. Financial literacy, too.

What we see from that discrepancy is that we are fat and ignorant. Some of us may be happy with this situation; some may just have been distracted into thinking they're happy. Many of us are just too ignorant to know any better, addled by repeated infusions of Cheez Doodles and reality TV.

So what you've got, with the nomination of the manifestly unqualified Harriet Miers, is a collective distraction -- oh, whatever will we do about Roe v. Wade? -- framed by a complicit corporate media. This is not an accident; this is exactly how they want it. By "they", I mean the media themselves; I mean the corporate cronies and grifters that put Bush back in to represent them. They employ this same distraction against both wings quite effectively, and it works every damned time.

The media would rather talk about fetuses dancing on the head of a SCOTUS decision, instead of how much money their corporate owners make from telecommunications bills, from deregulating the people's airwaves, from giving the people's bandwidths over to Clear Channel and Viacom so they can sell you HDTV and cable/satellite systems -- and you still get stuck watching the commercials that used to be the price for having "free" TV networks. Wait till the subscription model for satellite radio reaches market saturation, and see if they don't stick commercial time in there, too.

Anyway, that's the real deal with the Church Lady. The public face of this is to keep the usual groups riled up, while the real reason she's there is to serve as a faithful lackey to the defense contractors and energy grifters that bankroll these fuckers. Just like Bush himself.

They don't want you to feel their hand picking your pocket; they don't want it to occur to you that the term "working poor" essentially did not exist a generation ago. They don't want you to ponder the ever-widening gap between the 1% who own nearly half the assets and all the levers of power, and the growing numbers of people who have to work multiple jobs just to survive. They don't want to you to think about the logical contradiction of Bush blabbering incessantly about the wonderfulness of the "private sector", while he throws kajillions of your tax dollars at Halliburton and Bechtel and Fluor for Gulf Coast reconstruction/gentrification/Disneyfication/denegrofication.

It is much easier to sell the Christofascist agitprop of Prefab Conflict Product™, than to do something useful and let Americans in on the game. Most of them don't really want to know anyway.

I have no idea whether Miers is really an evangelical fruit loop, or a feminist in disguise. I have a pretty good idea that she will do what she's told. I also have a pretty good idea that despite the regular bleats of "religious persecution" from the usual wingnuts in Dinosaur Jeebusland, if they even thought Harriet Miers might be an agnostic or (gasp!) an atheist, even if she kept it to herself, you'd never hear an end to the cheap moralizing and high-handed sanctimony.

It doesn't occur to those yahoos that that road runs both ways. An atheist wouldn't stand a chance in a campaign for major political office in this country. I defy one of these persecuted morons to explain precisely how, if they're so picked upon, it happens that troglodytes like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell are regularly consulted about important issues like Supreme Court nominees and matters of official national policy. Rather than slavishly reporting whether the Redneck Pope has his sacred thumb up or down for Harriet Miers, a responsible media might want to ask why anybody living in the real world ought to give a fuck.

Just another in a long line of things on which we keep falling further behind the rest of the industrialized world.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Heh, heh, gettin' finger itching and havin' a hard time dealing with blogging withdrawal symptoms, aren't we, Heywood? But that's alright, you can still sail through college (or grad school, whatever it is you're going back to these days), while throwing us famished mortals a few crumbs of your inexorable insights.

But the post is right on, seriously. Too bad it's not likely to reach an audience of more than a few illuminati. Alas, we can only wring our hands about why those who should be asking those questions can't muster the spine, the brain or the balls to ask them. Virtually everything in the politico-economic-cultural setup in the States these days works against this sort of desideratum. Corporate consolidation is about to reach early 20th century levels again; political discourse is splitting along tribal lines anew (polite persons call them 'ideological differences'); there's no true left-wing thought that reaches a politically relevant audience; and frankly, even the more astute among the opinion-makers today are second-rate intellects at best.

Luckily, now we have bloggers. Like in those cheap sci-fi phantasies about post-nuclear societies of total control, there's now a scattered underground of relentless keyboarder guerillas to offer flickering hope to the politically destitute.

And, speaking of comets, maybe I can add my two-cents' worth of astronomical metaphor: for those of us who remember the sublime disintegration of the Shoemaker-Levy comet under the pull of Jupiter's tidal gravitational force, it seems the hardcore of this misadministration threatens to split apart under the double pull of disabused right-wing retards and bewildered, indicted Rovians. If they collapse uunder their own stupidity and corruption, I say good riddance to them. Eleven years of Contract On America has been more than enough. This country will need at least a generation to repair the damage wrought by these bastards--assuming Suburbistan wakes up from its catatonic slumber.

--Marius

Thomas said...

James Dobson has invaded my blog:

http://goodmorninghouston.blogspot.com/2005/10/god-helped-me-pick-this-tie-out.html

Heywood J. said...

Hey Marius:

Yeah, you got me pegged -- I'm jonesin' to hop on the ol' soapbox. It's going to be touch-and-go for a while, and I probably won't be able to approach my usual rhythm for quite some time.

But I keep seeing holes that others just step around, that I think should be filled; I think even malcontent liberals are far too forgiving of the creatures that run herd over their lives and dreams.

Obviously, I agree with your theorem that all that is required of serious critical thinkers is spine, brain, and balls (or, as Pantera poetically phrased it in Strength Beyond Strength, "You're muscle and gall; I'm bone, brain, and cock; Deep down, stronger than all.).

That is simply not going to happen in the passive corporate media; they're all too busy clawing and fucking their way to the middle. They all think they can have the coveted anchor chair and move next door to the doughy pantload Russert on in the Hamptons. They're all jockeying for the same imaginary position, while their profession swirls down the drain.

We are at the point where individual Americans are either going to step up and do right by their forebears, and straighten out this listing ship, or they are going to hang on to their stupid symbols and meaningless slogans, and take the rest of us down with them. I really think we're reaching a "one or the other" point.

Like a smart guy once said, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."

Anonymous said...

Eh, 'Pantera'... My good old days in college. While we're at it, those guys musta been prescient; I'd love to be around with a boombox when that scum Karl Rove gets indicted, and turn up the volume while "Vulgar Display of Power" boom out of the speakers.

I hate to churn off my little provincial jeremiad, but some of the very fundament of the Republic is at stake these days. And it pisses the hell out of me when I see little, narrow-minded interest groups hijacking whatever opposition has been left these days to whip the population who still gives a damn into a frenzy that 14-year old Leanne from the trailer park or some inner-city LaShawn can't get their abortions without Jim Bob's permission. For God's sake, these Republican bastards have been working for a decade now to castrate any attempt at maintaining participatory democracy; now they're also rolling back political rights, under the very noses of the apathetic citizenry. What the hell do people think the 'conservative revolution' means, other than entrenching corporate interests to the point of no return? This stupid abortion debate has been a red herring from the very beginning. Only a moronic right winger (or a knee-jerk liberal, for that matter) can possibly imagine Roe vs Wade can be overturned wholesale. And the Rovians could never bring themselves to give a fuck about their redneck constituency. For them, it's only about 'energizing the base'--code for getting the retards to vote, for fear gays might get married. But if there's anything Bush's inner circle would like to bring back, it's the robber barons and the laissez-faire state. Plus some swaggering puppet in the White House, to provide symbolism for the benighted masses. A few decades ago, the puppet had to be rabidly anti-communist. Now it's de bon ton to hate the Arabs. Behind all this, there's the perpetual hate for the poor and the brown.

But tell that to even intelligent independent voters, and they'll think you're crazy. One of the unfortunate effects of the hysterically PC teaching of history is that now people have come to believe that evils like fascism and authoritarianism are instantly recognizable, therefore easy to oppose. But it's not like that. Both the Fascists in Italy and the National-Socialists in Germany began their ascent to power insidiously--with talk about "preserving the soul of the nation", and "opposing godless communism", and "restoring Germany's honour", and "renewing the fabric of society." By the time the few lucid people realized what they were up to, it was already too late.

And to think that, at the origin of all this, it's just a bunch of evil crooks from Orange County. Goddamn.

You were saying something about getting a degree in management? You're not joining the soulless managerial estate, are you?

--Marius

Heywood J. said...

Marius:

Exactly. The whole abortion "debate" is just a red herring. I think it's so effective just because of the sheer scale of the participants. What you have essentially is the hive mind of several million megachurch drones who are politically motivated and stay relentlessly on message. They are well-funded and well-coordinated.

The rest of us are much greater in number, but we're all just going about our lives, so politically it's just more cat-herding. The only "lefties" who manage to stay on message and consistently motivated are the loons who think, from their respective end of the political spectrum, that Roe v. Wade trumps all.

My wife and I were talking about this subject this morning, and she rightly pointed out that if the pro-lifers had taken all the time, money, and energy they're squandered the last quarter-century, and put it into more proactive prevention- and education-oriented goals, they would have solved their Big Problem by now. Of course, then they'd have to move on to gay-baiting, or whatever handy demon gets the drones' wallets to crack open.

I submit a corollary to that, from the other side -- if NARAL and the rest of them attacked poverty and lack of general education with the same vigor and resources that they man the battlements of abortion clinics, they too might make a pre-emptive dent in those areas. Can anyone honestly disagree with the simple notion that elemental problems like chronic poverty, joblessness, hopelessness, and despair are at the very heart of what has been a steadily-declining teenage preganancy and abortion rate in the first place? Why can we throw $300 billion at a doomed Iraq campaign, and another $250 billion at denegrofying the Gulf Coast, but we can't find our fucking checkbooks to make sure kids stay educated and out of trouble?

That's why, even though I am temperamentally disinclined toward abortion, I have nothing but contempt for the pro-life nuts. Until they show the same level of concern for the born as the unborn, they're a bunch of fucking hypocrites.

Blasting Vulgar Display Of Power at Rove, heh. I like it. Fucking Hostile, I presume.

As for my degree, it is Project Management, yes. I wouldn't mind making some gravy steering a desk around a nice corner office, I admit. For a while, anyway. I'm tired of ekeing my way through life, frankly. I need to at least recoup some of the financial ground I've lost this past year. I could suck it up and be a $60K office goon for a couple years, I suppose.

I won't proffer any weak bullshit about trying to change the system from within, or whatever co-opted douchebags say to try to assuage their guilt. I just want to make more money, so I don't have to waste so much precious time worrying about money. I am definitely a stone-cold capitalist, but money is just a means to a greater end for me. I have no real desire for jonesmanship or accumulation. I have enough crap. I just want to pay my bills and make sure my kid goes to college. Maybe travel a bit.

But my real goal is to undertake a creative endeavor I've had in progress for several years, and I really just want to have as well-rounded of a business and marketing experience as possible. I think my idea is fairly innovative, and I want to have the knowledge base to do it justice. I anticipate being able to start unveiling it and marketing it by next spring.

Anonymous said...

Well then, good luck with your enterprise. I have nothing against capitalism; far be it from me. Moreover, as someone who grew up watching Reagan swagger about tearin' down them walls--but from the OTHER side of the Courtain, I'm among the first to realize the merits of capitalism. It's laissez-faire crony capitalism that rankles me. And I'm no commie, but I still think that kind of capitalism is a historical stage that needs to be left behind and overcome (albeit not by a workers' paradise).

As to your and your wife's insights, of course they're right on. What I find even more amazing, as a foreigner, is that, given America's resources, these problems--urban poverty, undereducation, lack of adequate healthcare--could be so easily, and cheaply, solved. Sometimes I think most Americans have no idea, comparatively speaking, how much money this country has available. Just under a hundred billion would be enough to bring the education system in line with the rest of the Western world (the public system, I mean). Healthcare is similarly affordable. But governments here for a while have been spending mind-boggling amounts of money on military hardware that's absolutely needless--there isn't, and there's not gonna be for a long, long while any military power that could seriously endanger American supremacy--unless we're talking threatening America's imperial interests in various, localized parts of the world. But then, since when is the Republic supposed to have 700 imperial garrisons all over the world? No matter; back to my point. This needless was alone has cost upwards of 200 billion--again, a figure that most people can't even begin to comprehend in real terms. They don't know, for instance, that huge countries like Russia have to beg on their knees to the IMF for a measly SIX billions. A few billions could buy you a country in many parts of the world--literally; you could pay their foreign debt and have their government in your pocket. For instance, a mere 3 million dollars in the early '90s could buy you enough political support in Poland to have virtually any law passed, short of a totalitarian constitution. But these evil bastards recklessly spend hundreds of billions only to make America look like a second-rate world power forced to back down by a bunch of crazy ragheads. My first reaction to such numbing contradictions is speechlessness. If I were to fumble for an explanation, I guess all I can come up with is some vague philosophical claptrap that has, however, some plausibility. I really think that the kind of social measures that you envision have a hard time gathering political support here is because a good deal of the population, for about half a century now, has been brainwashed into thinking that this is what commies do. The fact that it makes obvious sense is lost on them. In this respect, Cold War propaganda has been so successful that by now a large proportion of them only have Pavlovian reactions to such ideas: national healthcare=Castro; military scaledown=commie-loving; eradicating poverty=Soviet Union.

Plus, as I was saying in a past comment, America has never had to deal with fascism in the same bloody, violent way that most European countries went through. So fascism is still a respectable political ideology here, all the more as it comes wrapped in a flag, waiving a cross, as Upton Sinclair used to put it.

But it's a pity, really. It takes so little to make America the envy of the whole world, but these guys have chosen to embark on crazy imperial adventures that's gonna make her as hated as the British and the French were at the end of the colonial age.

--Marius

Craig Heath said...

Hey Heywood - you and Marius are becoming quite the Tag Team of Tellin-It-Like-It-Is. Good to the last paragraph.

Just my $0.02 on the topic at hand...What "The Right" is best at is exploiting emotion - not appealing to reason. You two (and others) do the latter. The Dark Side does the former. And, IMO, the side that appeals to emotion will always win.

All they have to do is keep the populace fearful, righteously indignant and angry. You only need one enemy to accomplish all three - and these days that's Arabs, just as it once was Russkies. A few "side villians" are useful - gays, lefties, atheists, etc. Mix these shadow-puppets up with a long-time study of mass manipulation (ever since the robber baron period was ended, the crooks have studied how to get what they want by other means)and you've got an unbeatable mixture.

The kinds of problems we are ranting about here (the killing of the Republic, societal downfall, even global warming, fer crissakes)are long term, "slow burn" problems that can only be seen, let alone addressed, with lots of honest skull-sweat and rigorous self-honesty. Ain't gonna happen.

So, any ideas of how to scare, upset and piss off the masses to do the right thing? I sure don't have any...

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