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.

Are We the Sheeple?

untitled diary

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It Pays to Police Your Word Power

Words are amazing things, aren’t they? They’re our basic means of communication. They can make or break us, whether they’re true or not. The common law in the political real, since Nixon burst on the national scene in post-World War II Washington, has been simply if you repeat something enough times, even if it’s a blatant lie, people will come to believe it. White Houses are won and lost on lies – “nothing to fear but fear itself” … ” no whitewash at the White House” … ” Read my lips, no more taxes” … ” I did not have sexual relations with that woman” …

Words lost a political career and reputation last week for a man who was arguably one of the last of the dying breed of moderate Republican, something which is increasingly becoming extinct, as the Republican Party bends over to accommodate the extremist Teabaggers. Mike Castle’s last-gasp bid for the US Senate was eviscerated by the angel-faced, little-girl voiced fundamentalist Christian, Christine O’Donnell, who flutters feminine lashes and believeably plays the victim card, but who wasn’t above promulgating a lie regarding the sexual preferences and voting practices of a man who’d served the state of Delaware for more than 40 years.

However, it seems the worm might have turned on Christine, and – in turning – might have turned on the turner too, if you get my drift.
Bill Maher returned from a three-month hiatus on Friday night and spent far too much time talking about O’Donnell and her nomination triumph – and in a way he shouldn’t have done.

Narcissist that he is, Bill wasted no time in pointing out that it was he, who had introduced Christine O’Donnell to America back in the Nineties on his Politically Incorrect show. In fact, O’Donnell, a virulent Christian and celibacy advocate, had appeared on his program 22 times, one of the more frequent and regular guests. Apart from examining her recent Senate nomination campaign, Maher constantly referred to what a nice person she was, what a good friend she was and then appealed directly to her to appear as a guest on a future edition of Real Time. Not only did he appeal to her, he literally blackmailed her, with an embarrassing clip from PI from 1999, wherein O’Donnell confessed to having practiced witchcraft … and something else:-

Within 24 hours of that clip being broadcast, O’Donnell had summarily cancelled her scheduled Sunday appearances on CBS’s Face the Nation, as well as on Chris Wallace’s Fox News program. On the face of a silly clip from 11 years ago, she’d decided to forego interviews as the highest profiled Teabagger winner of the moment, a chance to be on national television for some pretty softball questions. But listen to what she says in the clip. That O’Donnell is reasonably intelligent is in no doubt. Unlike Palin, her would-be mentor, she’s able to communicate in whole sentences which contain a subject and a predicate which agree grammatically, something which Jan Brewer can’t manage. That O’Donnell’s brain is one step behind her mouth is also obvious.

In the clip, O’Donnell enthuses about not only having dabbled in witchcraft, but also having dated a witch. Got that? She dated a witch. A witch.

The couple went to a movie and then repaired to a Satanic altar for a midnight picnic and a bit of something else. O’Donnell and a witch. A witch.

Nothing unusual about that. College kids do some silly things on dates. I often went haunted house hunting with a particular beau, who was interested in the occult; and whilst he certainly wasn’t a witch, I can’t say that he didn’t fancy himself a warlock – because a male witch is a warlock.

Now, maybe O’Donnell didn’t know that, but if you’ve ever had anything to do with the occult or witchcraft in general, or even if you’ve only ever watched Sabrina the Teenaged Witch, you certainly know the difference between a witch and a warlock.

So … maybe O’Donnell’s mouth got ahead of herself and only now, eleven years later after being apprised of the clip’s existence and of Bill’s showing it, she realised what she said: that the anti-gay, ueber-Christian O’Donnell had actually admitted to going on a date with a woman, of attending a film and then sloping off to a remote spot where there was a Satanic altar, for a picnic and a bit of whatever followed.

Even more ironic was the inadvertant slip of the tongue Benefactor Bill made in the course of the program, himself, when he accidentally opened a closet door of a different type. Here’s the clip. Pay close attention to two parts, one which occurs at the 5;30 mark, which is another quasi-racist swipe at Obama as a “half-assed President” and the most important one at the 9:59 mark. Listen to the latter one carefully.

The discussion which begins about five-and-a-half minutes into the clip is about Obama’s performance and achievements as President thus far. Bill Maher, herd follower of the social-climbing neocon shepherdess, Arianna Huffington, is under express instructions not to give the President any credit for any achievement whatsoever. In point of fact, between Huffington and Maher, they’ve managed to inculcate their following, consisting of youngish voters, frustrated at being denied the fruits of immediate gratification upon which they’ve been raised, and the general lower gene pool hoi-polloi which is equally dispersed between the Left and Right fringes, into believing that Obama bailed the banks out first (when actually TARP was Bush’s puppy) and that Obama doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the middle class. In fact, Bill’s spiritual mommy, Arianna, has arranged to have her unpaid interns research and write a whole book for her to hawk about the United States in an effort, immediately before the mid-Terms, to persuade the people that – hey – Obama’s not really that into you.

At the 5:30 point in the clip, Bill pushes out his opinion that Obama’s been a half-assed President, and – mindful of the particularly rancid racism he directed towards the President earlier in the year, cloaked as bad humour, he takes a swipe from the other side now, reckoning that Obama’s been such a half-assed President, because he’s half-white, that the white man in Obama had been holding him back. If Obama had been all black (and, according to Bill’s earlier definition of that, a ghetto guy from the ‘hood, complete with a gun he’d not hesitate to use, an “undercover brother” being his latest jargon to use in describing our President), he’d have been a better leader. Notice the audience’s non-reaction to that less-than-astute assessment, which was a pretty puerile observation, to say the least.

But the remark made almost ten minutes into the clip needs attention. This is when Bill is discussing with Republican strategist, Mark McKinnon, the fact that Republicans are threatening to repeal healthcare if they gain control of the House. He wonders why they never attempted to repeal the Civil Rights Amendment, or why they didn’t attempt to do so with Medicare. And then he reveals himself: “Why can’t we just say, ‘You won,’ and move on?”


The inclusive first person plural.

Bill included himself in the Republican tent.

The Bill Maher,who formerly was at pains to reiterate to all and sundry that he was an independent, that he was not a Democrat and certainly wasn’t a Republican, would have asked the rhetorical question thus:

“Why can’t THEY just say, ‘You won?’”

One small word can change the complexion of a statement. A virulently anti-gay politician admits she went on a date, followed by a kiss and a cuddle in a secluded place with someone who may or may not have been the same sex as she. A quasi-respected political pundit-cum-satirist/bad comedian, lets his mouth run ahead of his brain and includes himself in the GOP’s ever-diminishing tent.

I don’t have any problem believing either slip-up was an inadvertant admission of something that is true. O’Donnell’s campaign was filled with rumour and innuendo directed at her opponent Mike Castle’s private life. It’s a common domain of the closeted gay to utter anti-gay rhetoric or even to support anti-gay legislative measures. Just think of Ken Mehlman and Larry Craig.

And as for Bill, his voting record speaks for itself: Reagan in 1984, Dole in 1996, supporting Schwartzenegger after Mommy Huffington dropped out, voting for McCain in the California primary in 2000 … Independent, he may be, but leaning more to the Right than the Left he professes to follow and endeavours to lead. It’s interesting to note that Bill, like most of his ilk in that part of punditry, is in a win-win situation, politically. If the Democrats win big this November and in 2012, he can go on presenting himself as the bastion of Left-leaning free thought; if the Right win and the GOP are returned to power, he has a plethora of new material with which to convince his dittoes that he’s speaking even more truth and words of wisdom … plus he gets to keep his Bush tax cuts and continue to exchange tweets with Karl Rove.

Bill twitters wittery with Rove, whilst Huffington tree-hugs Newt Gingrich on vacation, and their Progressive disciples look the other way, whilst a woman Bill foisted on America wraps herself in a flag with a cross in hopes of inflicting her party’s agenda on the American people as the true way of the Constitution.

Reality has, indeed, become an illusion.