Sunday, September 26, 2010

Are We the Sheeple?

I guess campaign season’s started in earnest now. Congress has returned from its summer hiatus. (If you think they have too long a holiday, come to the UK. Parliament’s out July, August and September, the last month being the bunfest where they go off to the seaside to have their annual conventions.)
You know there’s an election coming up, because Fox News froths at the mouth that much more, the President’s out and about on his town halls again, and the two former Democratic Presidents are taken out of mothballs, dusted off and sent out and about as well.
It does my heart good to see Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter again, not because I prefer them to the present Democratic incumbent – I’m very satisfied with him, thank you very much – but it warms the cockles of my heart to see the rousing rounds of applause their appearances evoke, as if people recognise in a hindsight that’s too late exactly either what the former President achieved or could have achieved, or how much better off they were under a particular Administration.
I voted for both Carter and Clinton twice, and I hope to vote twice for Obama, if he decides to run again in 2012; but I’m doubting that at the moment, and I wouldn’t really blame him if he didn’t – in fact, I’d say the country would deserve its fate if he didn’t.
I remember 1980, and Ted Kennedy’s wild moment of hubris, taking his ego-enhanced campaign right to the floor of the convention and then acting like a drunken and petulant child when the delegates chose Carter. It sent out waves of impressions about how divided and vapid the Democratic Party was; it showed just how much they appeared to be unfit to govern.
1980, if you haven’t fathomed, gave us the Reagan Democrats (many of whom didn’t see fit to return to the party until 2008), Morning in America with the laughing Gipper, trickledown, the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein, and 12 years of Republican rule that set us on the Road to Hell down which we’re still careening and off which Barack Obama is trying to steer a particularly recalcitrant ship of state.
Hell, I’m even old enough to remember 1968, when I was just a freshman in high school, and what that Democratic Primary yieled us. 1968 saw a country in the throes of VietNam, with a President from the Deep South, who’d alienated his geographic demographic by enacting the most Progressive pieces of legislation since the New Deal – the Civil Rights Act and Medicaid – suddenly become truly, madly, and deeply unpopular, thanks to the advances of television at the time, with the VietNamese War brought nightly into our houses in living color. From the Midwestern Progressive state of Minnesota, Eugene McCarthy challenged LBJ.
For anyone thinking Obama is too professorial, McCarthy would have made Obama look like a lawyer. McCarthy was a real professor, a cerebralist, a poet, a true idealist and and ex-novitiate priest, who’d thought about a monastical career. He ran as the peace candidate, paved the way for Robert Kennedy’s candidacy and LBJ’s retirement, and continued along the primary path to dog Kennedy and, after Kennedy’s assassination, to worry his fellow Minnesotan, Huberty Humphrey, right up until the primary.
Another divided Democratic party, along with a few Republican dirty tricks against their own, yielded Nixon, Watergate, Roger Ailes, Donald Segretti, and a young college student activist from Texas name of Karl Rove.
Only the Lord in whom I don’t believe knows what a primary challenge to Obama would entail in 2012, but I’d bet money I didn’t have that you wouldn’t see another Democrat in the White House until all of the current generation who’s just voted are no longer alive to remember Obama.
Think about that. And whilst you’re thinking about it, think about the direction in which the Republican Party is moving.
Think about the fact that Mitt Romney, whose father was briefly the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 1968, panders shamelessly to the Teabaggers who are increasingly gaining control of the GOP. Mitt’s dad, George, was the Eugene McCarthy of the Republican Party – a social liberal, personal friend of Martin Luther King, and a campaigner for Civil Rights. Nixon’s dirty tricks machine, controlled by the late Lee Atwater and the then wunderkind Roger Ailes, put about rumours of drinking to excess (Romney was a teetotaler) and a preference for polygamy (the old fear factor of Romney as a Mormon), and thus, scuppered Romney’s title bid.
Think about the fact that Newt Gingrich, another ex-college professor, was once considered the intellectual of the Republican Party, the thinker, and remember that, only recently, Gingrich echoed Dinesh D’Souza’s unusual bit of lateral thinking and developed a curious new euphemistic reference to the n-word as to why Obama was different to any previous occupant of the Oval Office.
Now think about the fact that Arianna Huffington, the current self-proclaimed doyenne of the Progressive “journalists”, was and still is an extremely close friend of Newt’s – close enough to be photographed tree-hugging the Newt whilst on vacation in Amalfi. (Sorry, I don’t buy the obvious lie that the two “ran into” each other by coincidence. Amalfi is an old playground of the very rich and very aristocratic Eurotrash remnants. You don’t travel there by coincidence. )
One doesn’t allow oneself to be photographed on holiday cosying up to one’s adverse political opposite, no matter how close the association in the past, and still regard oneself as believeably progressive.
But in this day of short-term memory loss, I suppose that’s acceptable.
Still, many of the people with whom I speak, online and otherwise, seem to think as I do – that Huffington never was the Progressive she claimed to be – from November 3, 2004, to be precise – that the Damascene conversion in the wake of John Kerry’s defeat was never the 21st Century equivalent of what happened to St Paul on the road to Damascus.
Sorry, folks, that was all a fake. Her aggregate was founded and developed (by herself and her erstwhile protoge’, Andrew Breitbart) as a money-making venture. Like Rupert Murdoch, another man whom Arianna admires, she saw a niche on the internet for a liberal answer to Drudge and pounced on it – with Drudge’s encouragement and blessing.
That the so-called liberal media believed the conversion to be in earnest only reveals the extent of their shallowness and stupidity.
During the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the President traipse countrywide on the campaign trail for candidates, many of whom totally undeserving from the lack of support they give him, in November’s mid-terms. Again and again, he’s hammering home the message that the Democratic Party is on the side of the middle and working classes, that giving the balance of power back to the Republicans would be like taking the country back to the Dark Ages, or at least back to the mid-Nineteenth Century.
In his wake, we have President Clinton, getting out a starker message: if you don’t vote, says Clinton, you may as well just join the GOP right now, because not voting enables them to take power.
And bringing up the rear, President Carter, on a book tour, easily pontificating that Obama’s problems today are down completely to the 24/7 cable news cycle and that Fox News is no news organisation, that it flies the banner of the Republican Party and seeks to manipulate people, who would benefit from voting Democratic, into believing that the current serving President is not a legitimate holder of the office and should, therefore, be removed.
Well, Arianna’s on a bit of a mission, herself. Like President Carter, she’s on a book tour – a snake oil hawking tour, actually, a bit of akin to the sort of gypsies, tramps and thieves variety crossed with Dr Love’s Travelling Salvation Show.
Arianna’s new book is all about the middle class, of which Arianna is completely and totally an expert (not). Really, she knows all about the middle class. She’s got enough middle class people working for her for free for her to know enough about their suffering. But Arianna has a problem. You see, Arianna’s ghostwritten books, unlike the ghostwritten books of Glenn Beck or Ann Coulter, don’t sell. So, in addition to showing up in the usual places – Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room, Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, Good Morning America – she’s going out and about amongst the little people with her message.
What’s her message?
Well, she’s hawked it enough in the past two years on Huffington Post. It’s simply that Obama isn’t that into the middle class, that he’s done nothing for them, that he doesn’t like them, that he was all for bailing out Wall Street (sorry, but wasn’t that George Bush and Hank Paulsen?- ne’mind, it still sounds good), that he’s a Nowhere Man, and – now the latest – that because the Democrats ahve punted on voting on the tax cuts until after the election, they aren’t fit to rule.
Now that HP’s take on the Uriah Heep of political journalism, the craven Howard Fineman, Arianna’s finally broken through the portal of the one MSNBC political opinion show which shut her out, in memory of the late Tim Russert, who hated her less than cordially. There she was, alongside her latest lapdog Fineman, who doubles as a political consultant of sorts in Chris Matthews’s echo chamber, on Chris’s show. This was a first. During the last few months of Russert’s life and tenure as news supremo, she was banned from the station entirely. In deference, Chris kept up the ban; but now she’s there with the boys – probably she forbade Howie from appearing himself, unless Mommy went along to chaperone. Two nights later, she was on another favourite mommy’s boy, Olbermann, her greasy perma-fixed smile in place as she declaimed the Democrats unfit to rule.
Connecting the dots back to the Republican fold isn’t difficult when you consider that Huffington has remained curiously silent throughout the summer over the Shirley Sherrod fiasco and Andrew Breitbart’s part in that; in fact, she kept an extremely low profile when commentators on her site pointed out that she and Breitbart share a long history and that he co-founded the aggregate with her. Nor has nary a word been uttered from her permanently smiling lips regarding Newt Gingrich’s quasi-racist remarks regarding the President as a Luo tribesman in mind and attitude.
There’s plenty of column space for Sarah Palin, however, and Christine O’Donnell, cleverly disguised as pejorative articles, they’re articles nonetheless. Palin and her new girl, O’Donnell, are media savvy, if intellectually challenged. Arianna’s own pet imp, Bill Maher, proudly takes credit for introducing O’Donnell to the American viewing public and enabling her to gain a foothold on a national platform. These gals know that any publicity is publicity, itself, and they’re both adept at turning a negative experience into a sympathetic victim stature for their own agendae.
On Friday night, Bill Maher, Arianna operative, was doing her bidding in his opening comments. After a couple of pejorative jokes about the Republicans’ stature at the moment, in particular their latest Pledge to America, he turned his attention to the Democrats and, literally verbatim, echoed Arianna’s meme about the tax cuts, finishing with a pronouncement that the Democrats were “unfit to govern.” There you have it: the Democrats are unfit to govern, but the Republicans have offered the country a less than salubrious “pledge”. Judge for yourself, Bill implies – nudge, nudge, wink, wink – but one party is explicitly unfit to rule.
His discussion panel was weighed to the Right, with the talking points puppet, Amy Holmes, and Bill’s Huffington litter mate, Breitbart, who – halfway through the program – revealed that he and Bill had organised a pact for the evening: Breitbart would “behave himself” if Bill promised not to bring up race on the program. Nice arrangement. Breitbart was thrust into the national domain this past summer precisely because of the question of race and his concocted efforts to show how an NAACP operative held racist views towards whites. Bill was on hiatus at that time. The question of race still resonates throughout the GOP and their off-shoot, the Tea Party movement, to this day, and is relevant to this election cycle, no matter how much one might want to shove it under the already rank carpet. It was well within Bill’s duty as a political commentator to bring this question up to Breitbart. It was imperative, but he didn’t. He’d entered into a pact with the political devil and tanked on it. Just as the week before, when he brought his satellite interview with Michael Moore to an abrupt close, when Moore started to rant about how the Democratic Party should speak out against the racist comments and innuendo perpetrated by Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, calling them the imams of the American Taliban.
Was that Bill being circumspect, or was his surrogate political mother pulling his strings?
We’re seeing a lot of demagoguery on the rise in America at the moment. It’s easily recogniseable, and it’s encouraged, from sections of the Right. We’re all familiar with Rush, and how he recently brought no less than Karl Rove to his knees, we watch Beck do a teary and indignant Elmer Gantry routine in the pretence of restoring honor, and we have Palin shoved in our faces, now going out of her way to refer to the President as “Barack Hussein Obama (something Ann Coulter has been doing forever).
These are easily condemnable, especially in the sway they hold over manipulating people’s opinions.
But we have the same on the Left. Huffington and her operative Maher have long put out the deliberate misinformation that theh Obama Administration has accomplished nothing. After beginning his 2009 season with an earnest plea for the public to work with the President, reminding them that it would take a long time for the Administration to rectify the fuck-ups left by Bushco, six months later, Maher rants that the only think Obama accomplished in his first 100 days was to choose a dog. He wanted Obama to be more like Bush, and then when he perceived him to be, he criticized him for it. He ended the first part of this season’s shows with repeated pejorative references to the President’s race. A Maher apologist reminded me that he did as much with Bush, referring to Bush as President “Shit for Brains”, whilst his latest name for Obama is President “PoopyPants.” The Bush epithet referred to Dubya’s perceived lack of intelligence; the Obama epithet implies weakness, which has a very sinister relation to white men’s perception of African American soldiers in the face of adversity.
Bush’s ignorance was not only willful, it was contrived. Obama is anything but weak in resolve, and people are born into their race.
What’s worrying is that these particular pundits and their satellites hold sway over the opinions of a vast amount of people. Just log onto Huffington Post after madam blogs to see how many of the faithful are promising not to go to the polls. Just look at Bill’s Facebook page to see how many people, many of whom are old enough to know better, claiming that Bill speaks only the truth, that Bill’s word is like the word of the God in whom he sometimes doesn’t believe.
Like their counterparts on the Right, they’re seeking to manipulate the opinions of those people either incapable of or too lazy to think for themselves – the people who view news as infotainment, who seek gurus and thought processors, and who, once these charlatans are revealed and reviled, rise up in indignation, the type of which you’d expect to hear in defence of a relative or loved one insulted.
Someone once said, opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one. Well, there sure are a lot of assholes floating amidst the flotsam and jetsam of the 24/7 news and entertainment cycle. I’m just wondering who the pundit’s going to be who suggests the change in the wording of the Constitution to read “We the sheeple …?”
Get out and vote. Democratic. Please. The change is coming. I promise you. Remember: incremental change is often the sort that lasts.

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