Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Lamestream Media's Monster

Sarah Palin’s on the rise again, and that frightens me. She frightens me because she allows me to see the sheer power exuding from our 24/7 cable news media, taken together with the various and sundry internet political pundits, who’ve claimed equal professional status with trained and experienced political commentators who should know better.

Ever since the day after she lost the 2008 election as John McCain’s intellectually ill-equiped running mate, she’s been fodder for the news media every day of her ensuing life. For some particular reason, everything Palin does is newsworthy. I say her “newsworthiness” is relevant only to the degree to which our political society and our society in general have become totally shallow. I would imagine if Sarah Palin looked a lot more like Sharron Angle, she wouldn’t be so newsworthy, unless it were in a pathetically comical way.

The same media who eviscerated Hillary Clinton in the worst misogynistic way follows Palin about like prurient lapdogs. The Rightwing shills revere her; Leftwing commentators’ reactions vary – from presenting her as the butt of jokes to figuring out elaborate equations which would allow her to capture a Presidential nomination without engaging in a debate; still, it doesn’t detract from the fact that they’re fascinated by her.

To a certain demographic, she’s Everywoman. For women, she’s a mother of five, who chose to raise a child with Downs’ Syndrome, rather than abort him. That makes her a heroine. For men, she dresses up in leather; because they can’t fuck her, they’ll vote for her.

I’ve said all along that she’ll run for President this time around. Now I see the media – MSNBC, no less – validate her by salivating at the prospect of a Palin challenge to the Obama second term. The media created this, just as they created the last election, making the real contest in 2008, that of a woman challenging an African American man for the Democratic nomination. Only this time, there won’t be any misogyny, and if it appears from the Left, Palin and her team will quickly exploit it to make herself the victim. She’s so adept at that.

Vice-Presidential candidates on losing tickets are normally non-entities after the fact. Palin was a rookie governor halfway into her first term when she decided to resign. The event was covered exclusively by the news media as if she were some venerable and long-serving politician of note and repute. From that moment on, her agenda should have been aware to everyone. It gave the news media ammunition to speculate, certainly; and that’s what they’ve done ever since.

She appals and fascinates simultaneously. She’s like the ultra grisly car wreck at the side of the road, the one we swear we won’t look at, but the one we’re drawn to rubberneck for sheer horror of the accident. The same media who were offended in January at her mean-mouthed “blood libel” defence in the wake of Gabby Gifford’s shooting are marvelling now at her dog-and-pony magical mystery bus tour winding along the roads of Middle America sowing seeds of political resentment and anger amongst a demographic, whom – forty years ago – the Democratic party claimed for their own.

If anything, she’s this generation’s equivalent of George Wallace, winding her way into small towns, rural areas and working-class suburbs of major cities, reminding her eager audiences of how they have America’s heartbeat and how anyone reeking of elitism long ago abandoned their values to the netherlands of inconsequence.

She’s a side show, a carnival barker, a hoyden of ignorance who’s also skillful at subtlely reminding people of equal ignorance what differentiates between their real America and the Europhiliacs of coastal elitism, without offering any tangible solutions to these people’s real problems. She doesn’t offer jobs to counter their unemployment; she can’t stop the bailiffs from foreclosing on their family home, but – dang nabbit – she makes them feel good!

She promises them that this President is only enjoying a temporary tenure, and that relief is just around the corner if we can just get him out of a White House in which he was never entitled to live, anyway.

And the media hang on her every word.

They’re spoiling for a confrontation next year, the wet dream of an Obama-Palin confrontation on the campaign trail – the dark-skinned “other”, the spineless college professor against the mean girl, the red-leathered lady who can say and do anything she wants, because no “real man” would punch down on a girl. And if he did, could we really expect anything from a political demographic whose mouthpieces regularly refer to women as “sluts?”

This media made Palin. They made her as decisively as the faux Professional Left sought from January 21, 2009, to drive a wedge in the Democratic Party with their false prophets constantly criticizing, undermining and inflaming the far Left into the Queen Mother of all hissy fits.

The last words uttered by Palin at the end of the upcoming documentary about her rise is the challenge to our President of “game on,” shrieked in an appearance last month in Wisconsin in support of Governor Scott Walker, where she was flanked by no less than Andrew Breitbart. The last words on the screen remind viewers that already Palin can see November 2012.

Two months ago, Rachel Maddow correctly predicted that the 2012 election won’t be fought over the economy, but over abortion; and the prospect of a Palin candidacy, especially if she should choose such a running mate as Herman Cain, will be an all-our culture war of race-baiting, Islamophobia and Dominionism – a battle for the soul of America.

Remember that when Fascism comes to America, it will come draped in an American flag and carrying a cross.

Have you noticed the size of the cross pendant Palin wears around her neck?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Republicans' Meatloaf Moment

Word out today says Mitch Daniels doesn’t plan to run for President in 2012. With Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour deciding not to make a go of it, that leaves only Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman in the “suit” category of believeable Republican candidates for the 2012 election.

So far, the only declared candidates have been PeeWee Herman’s twin brother (Tim Pawlenty), a businessman who is living proof that bigoted assholes come in all races, religions, colours and creeds (Herman Cain), and the (a)moralist Newt Gingrich. The other possibilities are strictly your lunatic variety – that eminent historian, Michele Bachmann, and that syntactical grammatician and all-round mean girl, Sarah Palin.

Oddly enough, the Republican party seems eerily calm at so weak a display of candidates. The winner of the nomination will be whoever can accumulate the number of delegates and super delegates, primary by primary, beginning next January. All well and good to talk about who should be the nominee. In 2008, the nominee should have been Rudy Giuliani, but in the end, it was John McCain.

Those in the know say Huckabee was the potential candidate the White House feared the most. He was Southern (always good for the rural South and the Midwest), articulate, from a pretty humble background, attractive to the Evangelicals, and on the face of it, a pretty nice and presentable fellow (apart from thinking we all should be forced at gunpoint to listen to the skewed historical teachings of David Barton). Now, on the face of recent incidents, maybe those in the know might be contemplating Romney or Huntsman, but I’m not so sure.

Romney is associated with the prototype of healthcare reform which the Right love to call Obamacare, which is based on Romney’s plan effected in Massachusetts during his tenure as governor. Huntsman served the Obama administration as Ambassador to China. Such cognitives don’t bode well for the GOP nominee. Then, both men are Mormons, a religion at which the important base areas of the South and Midwest are most likely to cast a wary eye. Too many people still have trouble accepting Mormonism as a Christian denomination instead of a cult.

Take away the Romney-Huntsman factor and the morally conflicted dog whistler known as Newt, and that leaves PeeWee Pawlenty. Or Palin. Or Bachmann. Or Cain.

I recently came across someone who speaking about the dearth of strong candidates for the Republicans, who put forth the idea that maybe, just maybe, the GOP is giving the White House a bye for 2012. Instead, their tactic would be to retain hold of the House and win the Senate.

Actually, that tactic makes sense, and it’s just the sort of sneaky manoeuvre someone like Frank Luntz would promote.

The GOP have a big enough majority in the House that they can expect to lose some seats, but retain a lesser majority. The big prize is the Senate. With so many Democratic Senators retiring this year from states that lean red at worst and show purple at best, means they’re in with a shout at taking a majority. Even some of the Democratic Senators running for re-election are facing a climb up a steep hill – I’m thinking of Sherrod Brown. Virginia is definitely going to be a major battleground, just as it was in 2006; make no mistake: the Senate battle there is really a battle for the political soul of the Commonwealth.

If the GOP capture the Senate and retain control of the House, they can afford to lose the White House. Such a stranglehold would render the President virtually a political prisoner in that he would become a minority party President. There would be no way a controlling party of “No” would agree to write or enact any sort of proposed legislation without major concessions on the Democrats’ part as the party now in Opposition, but retaining the White House. If Congress wrote and passed anything repealing any of the laws enacted during the President’s first term, the veto pen would come into play – but if big enough majorities exist in Congress, vetoes can be overridden.

We would, effectively, have a government of stalemate and gridlock for the next four years. With people’s short-term memories, it wouldn’t take long for the buck of blame for any and all inaction to stop on the President’s desk. Four years down the line, and we have the likes of Daniels, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Crown Prince Jeb Bush, ready to take up the mantle. Serious, believeable and dangerous candidates. No dingbats. No batshits. No looneytunes.

This time, the battleground is in the Congressional districts and in the 23 states whose Senators are up for re-election. The GOP know that the President can beat any of their candidates with one hand behind his back. How can you hope to beat the man who shot the Liberty Valance of the Middle East? I suppose there is hope, the more the Teabaggers’ spiritual brethren of the Left, the Firebaggers, carry on stirring up rifts and divisions amongst the Democratic Left and whoever is claiming to be its base on whatever given day and hour, longing for the primarier to step forth and put a nail in the Democratic coffin; but really a GOP victory in claiming the White House would be a bonus.

That would simply mean that cultural Armageddon would begin four years earlier, as opposed to a gridlock delay; still, in the words of Meatloaf, for them, two out of three won’t be bad.

Rude Pundits

I’m about to date myself, but I can remember when the only political pundits and commentators were the ones who had regular columns in the big regional newspapers – people like Drew Pearson, Jack Anderson, David Broder and George Will, who seems to have been around since g-d was a boy. I also remember when network news was the half-hour broadcast after the regional news every evening about 7pm, with two fifteen-minute blurbs on the weekends. Sundays gave us half an hour of Meet the Press, when a politico really did meet the press and get grilled by them, and another half hour of Face the Nation, when a different panel of pressmen (and, occasionally, a woman) did the same to another elected or appointed government official. The only real poltical opinon talk show was another half hour feature entitled Issues and Answers.

If the public wanted to respond to points raised by these various individuals, especially the political journalists who appeared in the print media, their only recourse was the good, old-fashioned Letter to the Editor of the paper in which the offending column appeared. If you were lucky, maybe your letter got published in the appropriate section. If not, you’d had your say and had to live with the assumption that the editorial department conveyed your opinions, along with those of other members of the public who’d taken the time to put pen to paper and write, to the journalist in question. Either way, unless the journalist addressed these opinions in another column, you got no feedback.

Nowadays, with the internet and social networking sites, more and more self-appointed political pundits are using this media, in addition to more traditonal forms, to spread their opinions to a wider audience. Further still, many double as “political contributors” to the various 24/7 cable news outlets. Like rock and film stars of old, these people have accumulated a devoted following, and some have reached near iconic status.

This past week, I learned a couple of things.

First, I learned that this deviant form of the Fourth Estate is a closed shop which closes rank and protects its own ferociously. I’m not surprised by that. Most professions do form a protective shield around any of their own who seem to be attacked from without. Police, firefighters, teachers, doctors … it’s common practice to look after your own. And any from within those ranks who whistle blow or take the side of the accusing outsider are given pretty short shrift from their own within their profession.

Earlier this week, David Sirota and Ed Schultz engaged in a shrieking session with each other on Sirota’s radio program, the likes of which made Rush Limbaugh look positively polite. Sirota was peeved because Schultz had, a week earlier on his television program, castigated Michael Moore for his reactions to the shooting of Osama bin Laden. In Sirota’s opinion, Schultz had crossed the loyalty line in telling Moore, as Sirota perceived, to STFU and get in line behind the President.
Let me say that I have no particular liking for either Sirota or Schultz as political commentators of any realiability. Both, in my opinion, have done more than enough in the past to alienate and divide the Left, and both have a reputation for being, at times, openly rude and disdainful towards the public to whom they’ve given an opportunity to interact directly with them. But I happened to see the segment on Schultz’s show where he took issue with Moore.

Unusually for Schultz, he was unfailingly polite in his disagreement, moreso than he would have been, had Moore’s sentiments been uttered by either Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. Then you would have heard bullish comments, snark and a lot of ad hominem. Because Moore was from the same side of the political coin, Schultz treated the matter with great respect, offering kudos to Moore as a great voice from the Left and giving him credit for his work regarding the health and financial industries.

Ed simply thought that at this point, regarding bin Laden, it might be helpful to present a united front. Yes, he did call for the liberal hand-wringing to stop, but because the Right, ever the opportunists, would cherrypick any and all opposition and use it in the up-coming campaign to present the Left and the Democrats as a party, hopelessly riven by division and, because of this, weakened by it. After all, it was the first Republican President, Lincoln, who reiterated that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

So Sirota took this and spun it, inviting Ed onto his show as a telephone guest, and asked him about the legality of bin Laden’s killing. And then proceeded to engage in a screaming contest, when Schultz began by saying that the Attorney General had said that the killing had been legal under the circumstances. The exchange became, quite honestly, incomprehensible, until the point that Schultz told Sirota to go to hell, and Sirota cut the mic in order to gloat. When he opened the microphone a few seconds later, Schultz had hung up.

Sirota’s gloating point was that the Attorney General was an appointee of the Administration, so he probably would be complicent in upholding bin Laden’s killing. I don’t know how Schultz could have elaborated on his point, because he was never given the opportunity, once he’d expressed his original opinion. I don’t know if he were planning on pointing out as well that a State Department attorney had also expressed an opinion on the legality of the Seals’ actions, or if – more importantly and independently of any association with the Obama administration – ex-Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had publically declared bin Laden’s killing to be perfectly legal under the circumstances.

We’ll never know, because Sirota managed to shut Schultz the fuck up in exactly the same way he’d accused Schultz of attempting to do to Moore – albeit he did manage to level the accusation directly to Schultz of being turning on one of his own kind. And then Sirota was back the next day, same time and same station, chest beating like an Alpha male, bragging about out-bullying a bully. Suffice it to say, that all the ensuing calls in the phone-in were those selected who were favourable to Sirota’s handling of the incident.

So the first lesson learned is that the gentlemen and ladies of political punditry don’t disagree with those who purport to be from the same side of the political blanket. Fair enough.

But some of these people punt their wares on social networking sites, inviting comments on their latest opinion blogs, and some of them respond to the comments. That’s fair enough too, as long as these high-profiled and high-principled people remember that the public responding might be people who like and admire their work immensely, but at times, they might disagree with a particular point or opinion. In this regard, some self-appointed pundits have proven to be remarkably thin-skinned.

One, allegedly, has compiled an enemies’ list of bloggers and commentators on the internet, most ordinary people who don’t blog for money, who’ve been critical of continuous barrage of unfounded criticism he’s levelled at the current President. This same pundit has acquired a reputation for sock puppetry, showing up in various guises (but always with the same IP address) on his critics’ blogs, to level ad hominem remarks about what they’ve written.

The normally sensible Joan Walsh has literally imbedded herself in an ongoing argument with African American bloggers on Twitter after one lady politely sought to correct Joan in her assumption that Progressives made up the base of Obama’s support. The lady on Twitter was correct: Progressives do not make up the base, either of the President’s support or that of the Democratic party. If they are the base of the party, it’s a pretty shifty one at that, when any accomplishment by the President or the party is disdained and scorned. The argument progressed until Walsh rather tactlessly admitted resentment that African Americans should consider themselves the base of support for the President, and it’s continued from there, to the point where, last Sunday night, one of the bloggers in question was engaged in a discussion with someone else, and Walsh waded in, uninvited, and turned the discussion into one concerning, yes, race, again.

Walsh is known, both on her Facebook page and on Twitter, to meet anyone disagreeing with her point of view with the cleverly unfunny advice to the commentator to “get help.” In one of the recent Twitter exchanges with the African American bloggers, she uttered to one that “it must suck to be you.”

Really, this is the stuff of high school girls, but that doesn’t detract from its rudeness.

These people are paid professionals with high public profiles. If they are going to allow an exchange of ideas with the reading, listening or viewing public, then they have to show themselves above criticism and meet it in an adult and professional manner. And that doesn’t mean, as Walsh went on to brag to a crony on Twitter after the Sunday night encounter, “punching down.”

Social networking sites are great equalisers, if the personality in question invites comment in which he or she participates. Why do it and then pull rank against people who are, at best, internet ghosts? Or maybe that’s why it’s done, because these entities are faceless, nameless ephemera.

The political pundit class, which seems to be reproducing itself at an alarming rate lately, has done a remarkable job on the Left, in incessantly urging, encouraging and promoting criticism of this President and his Administration. The old cry of “holding his feet to the fire” has become gratuitous. We’re asked to fall in line behind the pundit of our choice and carry his or her banner, worship at his altar, even defend all criticism of the chosen one against any critique levelled with the ferocity with which we would defend a slight to the honour and person of a close relative, friend or loved one.

That was the second lesson learned this week: that whilst it’s perfectly permissable to criticize a President from our party ceaselessly and unremorselessly, we daren’t criticize the punditry. It’s they, you see, who’ve taken on the thankless task of speaking for us lesser mortals. How many times have I heard people say that this one or that one is “our voice,” how we need them and how missed they’d be if they weren’t about? And how many times are we deceived, such as when Arianna Huffington made the middle class her pet cause and pushed the meme that the Obama Administration was totally against them, on the back of Huffington Post’s unpaid labour policy? In the wake of Ed Schultz’s recent praise of the President, how many remember him urging Progressives not to vote in the Midterms? How many remember Glenn Greenwald’s 2006 anti-immigration blog or that he writes for the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute?

Back in the days of Anderson and Broder, when Huntley and Brinkley and wise Uncle Walter gave us thirty minutes of the top news each evening, where were the voices who spoke for us then? They were in our minds, and they bore fruition at the ballot box.

I guess rude pundits are the fashion of the day, but I’ve never been one to follow fashion.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Point of No Return

My father, a lifelong Democrat and a fervent union supporter, always maintained that even the Left had its limits.
“Go far enough to the Left in your opinions,” he’d always say, “and before long, you’ll find you’re someplace on the Right.”

Since then, and more recently, I’ve heard various people maintain that premise: that the fringes of the Right and Left were really no different in outlook and attitude, and before long, it would be inevitable that they’d find a common meeting ground. Even history is littered with famous Leftwing voices who’ve veered to the Right.

Both the Hitchins brothers – Peter in the UK and Christopher in the US – started their professional lives as virulent Marxists. David Horowitz, the student radical of the 1960s, is now an ueber Rightwing Islamophobe. The late Eldridge Cleaver went from Black Panther to the Mormon Church, voted twice for Reagan and died in the bosom of the Republican Party, a fully paid-up and much respected member of the neocon club.

Then, we have the Godfather of all political shapeshifters: the Gipper, himself. Not many people today realise that Ronald Reagan was, one time, a vociferously Leftwing Democrat. By today’s standards, he’d stand proudly amongst many self-proclaimed Progressives, if he’d remained true to the ideals he professed in the 1940s. In fact, with his film career on the wane, some California Democrats suggested running Reagan as a Congressional candidate in the 1948 election, only to have that idea shot down because the Party bosses reckoned he was too far to the Left. If you’ve any doubt about Reagan, here’s a clip of a radio broadcast he did in 1948, campaigning for both President’ Truman’s re-election and the election of the then Democratic mayor of Minneapolis, Hubert Humphrey. Hark, at Reagan, the man who busted union power in the 1980s, eloquently arguing against the Taft-Hartley act, which he, rightly, vilifies:-

Yet, in less than 20 years, Reagan, the politician, had only one other politician in the United States, more Rightwing than he – Barry Goldwater – and at some point after 1948, the man who so brilliantly defended all and more of Truman’s proposed progressive policies, actually came to make these remarks about Medicare legislation in 1963:-

The irony behind Reagan’s diatribe against socialism was that Reagan, himself, who came of age as a New Deal Democrat, had formerly been an open admirer of socialism and big government. You have to wonder what happened that made the man from 1948 bridge the yawning gap that brought him to become the idealogue of 1963 and thereafter.

Jumping the shark, crossing the Rubicon, going over to the Dark Side … whatever you want to call it. I think, this week, we might just have seen another icon of the Left dip his toes in the waters of the Right.

Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Moore has left the building.

He has left the building and is meandering dangerously close to the territory inhabited by the Tea Party.

I have always had a love-hate relationship with Moore, since the late 90s when his television programs, TV Nation and The Awful Truth aired on the BBC and Channel 4 in the UK. Lately, I have trouble believing that he’s less of a genuine spokesman for the working class and more of a token working class relic more at home amongst the affluent radical chic dedicated followers of political fashion.

He’s a multi-millionaire capitalist businessman who rails against capitalism, whilst at the same time flogging his latest book, DVD or film. He’s the working-class hero who only travels by private jet, the pro-union man who isn’t averse to using non-union labour and not paying for healthcare insurance for them, as reported by ABC News in 2009, as per this link:-


He’s Mr Anti-Corporation, but receives funding for his projects from some of the biggest corporations in the country. The man is a walking anomaly.

In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, Moore made headlines by expostulating frantically against the act on Twitter and later on Piers Morgan’s CNN talk show, where he declared that such an act had meant that America had lost its soul. The tweets then became increasingly more irate, calling the act, at times, an assassination and then, an execution. He also opened the envelope of comparing bin Laden’s death to the justice meted the Nazi war criminals at Nuremburg.

There are loads of arguments against all of the above – bin Laden was not the head of any state, but rather the icon of an international idealogy which had hijacked a religion. The Nazi war criminals were state and military leaders who had waged war against the free world, conquered countries and openly persecuted and killed citizens thereof. These people had unconditionally surrendered, and they were dealt with accordingly as state prisoners thereafter. They did not surrender until their titular head, Adolf Hitler, had killed himself; but had anyone of the Allied Forces been able to get to Hitler anyplace and anytime before 1945, it’s almost certain he’d have been swiftly despatched.

Arguing for the arrest and trial of bin Laden opens plenty of logistical and theoretical cans of worms, as well as revealing the extent of certain people’s short-term memory loss. First, where would bin Laden have been detained? If he were spirited off to any top-secret military fortress, more pejorative myths than not would prevail and many of Moore’s ilk would have demanded to know where the prisoner was being held in the interests of transparency, which seems to be the new word of fashion for the moment. It’s mete to remember that Congress had coniption fits and fell in them at the thought of several Guantanamo Bay detainees being imprisoned on the mainland United States.

Secondly, where would the trial be held? Once again, political leaders in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, stamped feet against trying Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in those states; and one needs to remember that, not only was bin Laden responsible for 9/11 in the United States, but he was also responsible for the Bali bombings, the Madrid train bombing and the 7/7 suicide bombings in London. It could easily be argued that a trial in The Hague would have been appropriate, but The Hague has power only to impose a life sentence and to determine where that sentence should be served. A living bin Laden, languishing in prison, would forever be an iconic beacon to his cause, and should any illness encroach, he’d suddenly be deemed a sympathy case for release.

One could argue all of the above until the cows come home, and end up conflicting oneself in a welter of confusion to the point where people usually adept in word power suddenly fail to distinguish that “justified” and “justice” come from the same root word, as Laura Flanders found, when the normally inarticulate Ed Schultz tripped her up:-

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Moore then twisted his tweets to the tune that bin Laden was actually executed, going back even further in history by saying that even Jefferson Davis and Robert E Lee didn’t get “double-tapped” for their treason. True, but Moore would have to conflict himself further and lay the direct blame for that non-event at the feet of both Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S Grant, who actually determined the terms of surrender and any punishment thereafter.

It was then that his Twitter meanderings took a slightly different turn, when he tweeted a plaintive, “I just want my country back.”

Sound familiar? Well, yes, but that’s the battle cry of another political demographic altogether. It’s the rallying cry of the Tea Party, and it was last Sunday, Mother’s Day, when I had the epiphanous realisation that Moore and the Tea Party were most probably cut from the same cloth.

During Moore’s lengthy interview with Piers Morgan and afterward in the blog he wrote attempting to explain his actual concern about the events which took place, coincidentally, on May Day, he cited the fact that he was a devout, practicing Catholic, whose religion precluded support for the death penalty in any way. Catholics are also pro-life, being opponents of abortion. We’ve never heard Moore’s opinion about that in any form. It’s easy enough to surmise that he’d more than likely be pro-Choice, like those other practicing Catholics of the Left hemisphere, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi – disapproving of abortion, personally, but not denying any woman a freedom of choice. Yet there have been noticeable Democrats who’ve been virulently pro-Life. Bart Stupak, anyone?

And why was I reminded instantly of Moore when I read about Speaker John Boehner’s commencement address to the Catholic University graduates yesterday, a speech in which Boehner, another practicing Catholic, totally neglected to address the dressing-down letter he received from an activist group of nuns and Catholic clergy for endorsing a budget that ripped the heart from programs designed to work in the interests of the poor?

Perhaps it was because Boehner and Moore are actually brothers under the skin – sons of sweaty, white ethnic working men, who found solace in church, home and the social programs of the Democratic party, only to rise, like cream, to the top of their demographic, leaving their respective siblings and neighbourhoods to fester and decay. Maybe it’s too uncomfortable for both men to look back or – in either of their cases – to pay more than nostalgic lip service to a background that sometimes appears uncomfortably too close to the surface. Moore appeases this by dressing like an assemblyline worker. Boehner drinks. Neither action is enough.

A few months ago, Moore was the big name who parted the sea of protesters in Madison, Wisconsin, in order to speak out for public sector unions and their personnel, specifically for the right bargain collectively. He made his appearance after the protests had garnered headline news for several days running. It was acause celebre for the radical chic. Ed Schultz broadcast from the venue andthreatened the President with one term if he didn’t join the picket line. Joan Walsh rediscovered the fact that she’d been educated at the University of Wisconsin in order to identify with the picketers. Everyone wanted a piece of Madison, and no one more than Moore.

Yet now we are faced with the President and the newly-invigorated National Labor Relations Board standing up to Boeing for deciding to open a new plant for a new assembly line order in non-unionised Right-to-Work South Carolina, instead of maintaining the work in their unionised Washington State factorybecause union labour was more apt to strike; we have a President and the NLRB facing down a Tea Party Palin-cloned bitch of a governer as well as the Democratic mayor of Charleston, and where are the celebrity unionists? Walsh is nowhere to be found. Schultz hasn’t even mentioned it. No word from Maddow. And Moore’s too busy telling America that we’ve lost our soul for killing Osama bin Laden.

The “country” Michael Moore longs for was avidly described in his Mother’s Day tweets, a sort of Twitteresque version of kitsch Garrison Keillor. Moore longs for a time when his dad worked for union rates of pay at the Union Carbide battery factory, when his mother kept the kitchen warm and snug and redolent of fresh cooking, and when all she had to do to solve a childhood problem was serve up a helping of Campbell’s Condensed soup from a can which later became an Andy Warhol art piece, or a serving of pork and beans. It was an America where Mom taught Mike to read at the kitchen table, and they lived next door to the Catholic church they attended.

The Fifties.

Just like the Teabaggers.

Michael Moore went to parochial school, just like most of us who grew up Catholic in the Fifties and Sixties. For most working class Catholics, that meant Dad working extra shifts in order to afford the tuition. Parochial school means that Mike probably sat in a class of uniformed, little white boys and girls, as segregated as the public schools of the South during that period. Mike’s neighbourhood was probably inhabited by white ethnic workers, whose household heads worked the automotive industry’s assembly lines. Their black co-workers lived elsewhere, but not amongst them.

In the world for which Mike yearns, if the girl next door got up the duff at sixteen, she married her baby’s father, and they made the best of it – either that, or she was suddenly sent out-of-town to care for the ubiquitous “Aunt Judy” who’d suddenly fallen ill. She’d finish her sophomore or junior year there, her folks would explain, distractedly. And she’d return to a community she’d think was none the wiser to the fact that she’d spent five months in a home for unwed mothers and had a child she’d given up for adoption.

And in Michael’s rose-coloured Fifties world, rape – that unspeakable crime – really was “hooey,” because anytime a rape occurred, it was invariably perceived to be the victim’s fault; and she had to suffer the consequences.

Osama bin Laden’s death achieved a lot more than a shift in whatever anyone wants to call the dynamics taking place in the Middle East. It also brought to the forefront the shallowness of some of the people who put themselves forth as spokesmen and pundits from the Left. Ed Schultz conveniently forgets that he implored Progressives not to vote in the 2010 Midterms, and now presumes to tell Moore and other handwringers on the Left that this is irrelevant, that it will cause damage and a ructure which the Republicans will use as a stick with which to beat the Democratic party in being sympathetic to a known terrorist. Bill Maher conveniently forgets that he went on national television in late November to declare the President a “pussy,” and who, until two weeks ago, was still pushing the familiar Progressive talking point about the President “caving” on tax cuts for the rich. Now, according to Bill, the President has rediscovered a blackness only Bill Maher could understand – the ghetto gangsta ninjiness that only a privileged, white, affluent Progressive could presume was part and parcel of African American psyche.

And just last week, a reasonably well-known Progressive academic from the West Coast, in a heated discussion on her Facebook page, declared that cognitive linguistics demanded that in a debate or a discussion, anytime a question or a point was raised with which the speaker found contentious or disagreeable, the speaker had the innate right to ignore totally the question or opinion, to blank it out entirely, to ignore it and move on, because to acknowledge disagreement encourages what the speaker perceives to be a negative idea. That’s not cognitive linguistics, that’s pure Tea Party philosophy – in a nutshell, the debating technique of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin.

But as for Michael Moore, I have a pretty sneaking suspicion that a lot of his reaction to the events unfurling was purely capitalistic – for the promotion of Brand Moore, as evidenced by his tweet of May 10th:-

Wow, 30,000+ new Twitter followers in the past week. Now at 832,000! Can we kill OBL again this week? See, newbies–that’s how we roll here.

Again, like their brethren on the Right, that’s ultimately what it’s all about, isn’t it? The corporate Sermon on the Mount and the feeding of the sheeple.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No Mercy Shown, No Mercy Given

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GROW InfoLetter to the EditorPolls, Graphs and ResearchProjectPOVReference InfoTroll Busters!No Mercy Shown, No Mercy GivenMarion On May - 4 - 2011It didn’t take long before the verbal snipers came out to play in the wake of Bin Laden’s death. It wasn’t enough that most of the Republicans, with few exceptions, were crediting the abysmal George W Bush with the end game which came Sunday evening. I wondered how many days’ grace, how many hours even, would transpire before various tranches of the media would, if not seek to turn bin Laden into the martyr figure he doesn’t deserve to be, or how many would criticize the spontaneous reactions of various American citizens to the news of this man’s death.

Just as we’ve got smacked the birthers’ collective asses with the long-form birth certificate, now we have to contend with the deathers, led by both Andrew Breitbart from the Right and Glenn Greenwald, who pretends to be from the Left, but sucks up to the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute.

As expected, we’ve got people clamouring for sights of bin Laden’s corpse pictures, taken for identification purposes in the wake of his untimely demise, to the extent that the White House is now debating releasing them to the public.

I can understand their reluctance. I’m not too keen on seeing the body of this evil man with half the side of his head blown to smithereens and his brains oozing out over immediate creation. I had enough of that with the grainy Zapruder film years ago, showing a President’s brains being blown out the back of his head. I also understand that the White House, unlike such bastions of good taste as Messrs Breitbart, Greenwald and Judge Andrew Napolitano, is sensitive to the fact that such pictures might offend some people – in particular, people of the Muslim faith; that such images would also only serve to flame certain elements intent on furthering bin Laden’s agenda.

I have no problem with that. Nor do I have any problem believing the man is, in fact, dead, and was killed on Sunday, as stated. And I certainly don’t have any problem with the definitive fact, being confirmed by the White House, in the wake of a lot of instant folklore stories which arose around the 40 minutes of firepower three days ago, that bin Laden was unarmed when killed.

Here was a man who masterminded the tragedy of 9/11, as well as the train bombing in Madrid the following year and the London bombings a couple of years later. He was behind the Bali disco bombing, amongst other things. All those thousands of people of all nationalities from New York to Madrid to Bali to London, were all unarmed and going about their normal lives when bin Laden sought to play god and end them. He showed no mercy, and no mercy should be shown him.

Taking him alive would have created all sorts of problems – where to incarcerate him, how long before he came to trial, where to hold the trial … If New York couldn’t stage the civil trial of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, who the hell would take on hosting a venue for the trial of someone like bin Laden? That trial would have been bigger than Nuremberg. What about the punishment? If the trial were in the US, there would surely be a death sentence. If he were tried in The Hague, a life sentence, and he would still be alive as an idealogical embodiment, if nothing else. No, I’m content with one man copping a bullet for the thousands, the millions, who’ve died as a result of his actions and manipulations.

Various people in the media are trying to carve a moral high ground from this morass, and they’d be well-advised not to attempt this, because the most unclean moral lepers of modern society are usually found amongst the denizons of the Fourth Estate. Yesterday, The Guardian led with a long op-ed by the Egyptian journalist, Mona Eltahawy, scathingly criticizing the “frat boy” antics of the students who gathered at Ground Zero upon learning of bin Laden’s death. This meme was pithily picked up by Glenn Greenwald and fomented, adding a soupcon of falsity to his diatribe by stating as fact that Leon Panetta was wondering salaciously and openly who might portray him when they made the Hollywood version of the killing of bin Laden. Greenwald’s “fact” was later proven to be an outright fabrication. A lie.

As for Eltawahy, her article was a blatant piece of hypocrisy, when compared to her assessment of the Egyptian uprisings in an interview she did with Bill Maher in February:-

In case Mona is unaware of the fact, most of those whom she decried as “frat boys,” celebrating at Ground Zero on Sunday night, were, actually, just that: frat boys. College students. The actual equivalents of those students, those young Egyptian people, she so eloquently and often rudely defended to Bill Maher. Just as those kids had grown up and reached maturity in the shadow of Hosni Mubarak, so those kids partying at Ground Zero and in front of the White House, had lived from childhood with the spectre of Osama bin Laden as the epitome of the bogeyman. They shouted, they screamed, they sang patriotic songs of their country, probably laced heavily with drink. At the end of the day, they had something to celebrate, like the Egyptians in the square in Cairo. And Ms Eltahawy, a journalist in their midst, was not stripped, attacked and raped.

I know it’s utterly impossible for most people and pundits on the Right, as well as some of the so-called more enlightened folk of the ueber Left, to admit that this President is capable of walking down the street and chewing gum at the same time. Everything he’s done is wrong, even when whatever he’s done has been what he’s promised to do. Nothing’s ever good enough for some people. We all know why critics from the Right have a particular problem with anything the President does or doesn’t do, and as time progresses, we have a pretty good idea why his critics from the ueber Left (veering into the Right’s territory) cleverly hide something more sinister and ugly behind the facade of ideals and policy particulars.

At the end of the day, it all amounts to the same thing. Time we gave the pundits no mercy either.