Sunday, May 31, 2009


Frank Rich is shrill in discussing Cheney's emergence from the bunker, as well as the entities who enable him to do so:

Cheney’s “no middle ground” speech on torture at the American Enterprise Institute arrived with the kind of orchestrated media campaign that he, his boss and Karl Rove patented in the good old days. It was bookended by a pair of Republican attack ads on the Web that crosscut President Obama’s planned closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention center with apocalyptic imagery — graphic video of the burning twin towers in one ad, a roar of nuclear holocaust (borrowed from the L.B.J. “daisy” ad of 1964) in the other.

The speech itself, with 20 mentions of 9/11, struck the same cynical note as the ads, as if the G.O.P. was almost rooting for a terrorist attack on Obama’s watch. “No one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do,” Cheney said as a disingenuous disclaimer before going on to charge that Obama’s “half measures” were leaving Americans “half exposed.” The new president, he said, is unraveling “the very policies that kept our people safe since 9/11.” In other words, when the next attack comes, it will be all Obama’s fault. A new ad shouting “We told you so!” awaits only the updated video.

The Republicans at least have an excuse for pushing this poison. They are desperate. The trio of Pillsbury doughboys now leading the party — Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Cheney — have variously cemented the G.O.P.’s brand as a whites-only men’s club by revoking Colin Powell’s membership and smearing the first Latina Supreme Court nominee as a “reverse racist.” Republicans in Congress have no plausible economic, health care or energy policies to counter Obama’s. The only card left to play is 9/11.

True enough. If you have a dumb dog who likes to shit on the floor, don't be surprised when he shits on the floor. The dog is only part of the problem.

Yet even before Cheney spoke, Congressional Democrats were quaking in fear, purporting with straight faces that the transfer of detainees to “supermax” American prisons constituted a serious security threat. Many of the same senators who signed on to the Iraq war resolution in the fall of 2002 joined the 90-to-6 majority that put a hold on Obama’s Gitmo closure plans.

Well, of course they did. This incompetent bunch of nellies couldn't get out of their own way if you gave them a map. These people are awful, and terrible at what they do, and now that Hope 'n' Change are in the air but not, they're more than happy to ratfuck Change Man every chance they get. And so far he has refused to whip them into shape, and exercise some discipline. If it doesn't bite them in the ass, it will only be because the knuckle-dragging oafs across the aisle, and the mouth-breathing dipshits who vote for them, are even worse. But it doesn't have to be this way, it really doesn't.

Of course, the Dummycrats are only part of the problem. Our rilly awesome corporate media shares a big chunk o' blame as well.

The déjà vu in the news media was more chilling. Rather than vet the substance of Cheney’s fulmination, talking heads instead hyped the split-screen “dueling speeches” gimmick of the back-to-back Obama-Cheney scheduling. Time magazine’s political Web site Photoshopped Cheney and Obama’s faces atop prize fighters’ bodies.

Most of the punditocracy scored the fight on a curve, setting up a false equivalence between the men’s ideas. Cheney’s pugnacious certitude edged out Obama’s law-professor nuance. “On policy grounds, you’ve got a real legitimate fight here,” David Gregory insisted on “Meet the Press” as he regurgitated the former vice president’s argument (“You can’t compromise on these matters”) and questioned whether the president could “really bring” his brand of pragmatism “to the issue of the war on terror.”

That's because this is all a big game to people like David Gregory, just as it's all a big game to people like Arlen Specter or Ben Nelson or Dianne Feinstein. This is nothing but a spectator sport to them, and they all think they're John Madden. Most of your teevee journamalists are self-absorbed princesses (even the male ones) who want a career with perks and accolades, big money and lots of attention (but only the good kind). They're not quite pretty enough to be in movies, but they're not quite homely enough to fall into politics. So broadcast journalism is an ideal niche for this sort of low-brow, starfucking aesthetic.

But again, the attention they desire is only of the good kind, the kind that keeps the invites to all the beltway 'dos coming. They're not going to go out on a limb for anything. Forget about openly challenging the demi-lich Cheney when he slithers on to the set to lie and calumniate; these people don't even have the nerve to ask themselves before they call Cheney, "Why should I have this person on my show? What informational purpose would it serve to have an agitprop performance artist here?"

Since their goal is only to mine another news cycle's worth of talking points, regardless of usefulness or even accuracy, those questions answer themselves. It's strictly a no-risk endeavor. None of these people would dare risk the harrumphing of their colleagues by asking a guest an untoward question. After all, they all go to the same parties. It would be bad form.

It's a toxic symbiosis, perpetuated by people who don't have the balls to even be perceived as rocking the boat, or actually changing anything. These are issues that can be fixed -- Cheney is a liar, and his arguments have been refuted time and again, by people with more sack but less face time than a preening mule like Gregory. It would be no risk for Gregory to step up and say so on Press the Meat; the biggest risk might be that John McCain might show his displeasure by waiting three months before coming on again, or the Today show might get some angry letters in crayon.

Another example: the economic collapse, really nothing more than straight-up theft, can and should be broken down so that the victims can understand the crime. But since, for example, NBC's financial network seems to be mostly a collection of Wall Street talking points, and Obama has lined his staff with Goldman Sachs flunkies, they're not gonna say shit about any of that. There was a hot week or two of pseudopopulist rhetoric about "retention bonuses" -- and then they walked off with the bonuses. Whoo-ee, that was close. Almost had a revolution there.

I dunno. This is exactly why I voted for Nader in '96 and '00, and it's why a hell of a lot of people don't even bother to vote at all. The Democrats talk big and do fuck-all, even when it's handed to them in a nice gift-wrapped box. The Republicans are liars and thieves, and cater to the basest, most obnoxious core of the American electorate. Two sides of the same debased currency. And the corporate media enables the entire proceedings because they think it's fuckin' Wimbledon or something.

I think we'd all be pleasantly surprised if people in positions of high responsibility simply performed their duties and did the things they said they would do. You could fix a lot with just basic professional integrity. Clearly this is expecting too much out of everyone.


Joe Blow said...

Well Hey Wood.... I hope you didn't vote in Fla.

Heywood J. said...

There's not enough money, booze, or women in this world to make me want to set foot in America's Wang.