September 3, 2005

Now is the time for all good journalists to come to the aid of their country

If anything positive is to come from the unspeakable horror of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, it may this; that even those writers, producers, reporters and other media figures who take great pains to be "fair and balanced", media members who have been cowed and bludgeoned by attacks and shrill complaints and accusations of being "biased" if they point out any inconvenient truths about Bush, or any of the many other canards the right trots out to intimidate the press, suppress the truth, shield Bush, and preserve the myth, that some in the media may finally be pushed over the edge in the face of such blatant, massive, and incontrovertible evidence of incompetence, poor leadership, and dishonesty on the part of the Bush administration that the scales fall from their eyes and they finally realize that they’re no longer willing or able to self-censor themselves.

They'll begin to actually have the honesty and courage to point out that George W. Bush is an incompetent, emotionally stunted, callous, shallow, spoiled, incurious, and arrogant man who can't even pretend to care about "little people" and who possesses a philosophy and worldview that 99% of the country would consider wrong-headed and dangerous. That is IF they were spared the constant propaganda emanating from so many channels, propaganda and happy talk that has little if any relationship to reality.

If anything comes of this, it's that this blessed epiphany may come to pass. The wide gulf between reality as everyone sees and experiences it and what the massive media arm of Bush and the right constantly tells us may finally begin to close. They’re massive brain-washing program might finally be exposed.

When media and others start to call the bullshit from this administration bullshit, that will mark the moment when this country begins to recover from the fever dream of the Bush era.

Citizens might actually start to believe their lying eyes, trusting their gut and basic common sense, rather than the fantasy stories that Bush and his flacks constantly feed us. As the saying goes, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

Yes, sheer denial keeps many from daring to point out what a disaster Bush has been and continues to be. To do so requires the realization that we've all been horribly lied to, and lied to on a scale and scope that is beyond any time in the past. This is different.

Many are so scared and frightened of the boogie-men the administration has labored so hard and long to scare us with, that they give up their own judgment in favor of the false sense that the President is wise and knows best. What a joke. It's sad and dangerous, but people willingly abdicate their God-given power to reason in favor of unquestioning obedience to, belief in, and faith in the myth of the glorious leader which Bush's handlers have invested so much energy in creating.

Their fears make people willing to believe crap which they'd never believe otherwise. They realize that the things they hear from the administration and the media make no sense whatsoever compared to what they see happening. But their desire to believe that "all is well", and their incredible faith in American and democracy has utterly blinded them to the fact that yes, things CAN be going horribly wrong, and they are.

These people simply refuse to believe that anything bad could happen with the good old U.S.A. They possess blind faith in the country, democracy, and their leaders, and up until now, that faith was at least partially justified. But they’re especially prone to being duped in times of crisis. Because they NEED to believe in something. Realizing that the U.S. and its policies are often forces of destruction, death, and yes, evil, or that they are not all-powerful and able or capable of solving all problems is akin to telling these people that their favorite baseball team is composed entirely of gay pedophiles.

They assume Bush knows what to do and that there are checks and balances which will prevent anything too bad from happening. They may understand things, but when the administration tells them things that don't square with reality, they assume that these people are competent, understand the situation much better than they do, and so are willing to defer to their judgment and not question what is being done with their money and in their names. They’ve been sold a bill of goods about Bush, and they’ve swallowed it whole.

They even send their sons and daughters to their deaths, such is the strength in this belief in America and unthinking faith that their leaders are good and the cause is just. (Why? Because Bush says so.) To point out that this simply isn't true, is naturally a very great shock to the system to these people. It means that their faith in Bush is a giant mistake, that they’ve been duped and swindled, lied to, and sometimes, that their precious loved ones have died in vain.

This is why some go into a fury when they hear the truth being pointed out about Bush. The critics aren't just attacking Bush, they're attacking these people's entire belief system. They're upsetting the apple cart, causing the unpleasant reality that Bush is a horribly incompetent leader to intrude on their false sense of security. To these people, criticizing Bush is like telling a young child that there's no Santa Claus, and they react accordingly. They're co-dependent, and in a deep state of denial, and they'll fight long, hard, and mindlessly to preserve it, ignoring facts and evidence that exist right in front of their faces.

It’s as if anyone dares point out that there's a large hole in the boat we all share and it’s sinking, they loudly scream that the boat isn't leaking, even as the water rises around their feet. How dare you even suggest such a thing! You're just being negative! You hate the captain and want the boat to sink! No amount of evidence will ever change their tune. They'd be still gurgling that you’re insane as they go under.

To finally speak up requires citizens and the press, long scared away by knowing they’d be accusations of being "shrill" or angry if they are critical of Bush, who have lived in fear of the inevitable charges hurled by the right that anyone who questions Dear Leader is by definition mentally unstable or consumed with the disease of "Irrational Bush Hatred."

The long obvious truth is this: There most certainly is such a thing as RATIONAL Bush hatred.

It requires the press to realize and admit that they've been duped. They've been fooled. They must admit to themselves that they've been WRONG. (or at least allowing themselves to be pressured into not pointing out the obvious.) And they have to come to grips with the fact that they’ve often been part of the problem.

Naturally, this is not an easy thing to do, especially for those in the press who consider themselves to be otherwise hard to fool, and possessed of more than average intelligence and judgment, (and often with outsized egos) which in most cases, is the truth. But they are not immune from the post 9-11 effort to suppress all dissent and the massive effort to enforce the falsehood that Bush equals America equals "the troops" equals Bush, as though they're one in the same.

And as I mentioned above, printing or broadcasting the truth upsets a lot of people's sense of security, and they don't like that. They tune out, or don't buy the paper. So it's not always good for a reporter's career, particularly if they, like most, work for a conservative corporation or conservative publishers. The conventional wisdom is that there's no money in pointing out the truth about Bush. People don't want to hear it. But that doesn't mean it's not the truth, and if a democracy is to continue to be able to be self-correcting, then the truth MUST be told and the press must function. If it's not, whether from government censorship or self-censorship, democracy suffers.

But people know in their heart of hearts that Bush is a failure and bad for this country. Even conservatives realize this, though they're largely incapable of admitting it. (though many do.) And make no mistake about it, Democratic politicians, especially at the national level, are to blame for their lily-livered cave in and refusal to stand up to Bush and defend American ideals for the past six years. They’ve kissed Bush’s ass and danced around pointing out that he’s a liar, they’ve sucked up to him disgustingly like Joe Lieberman in particular, and they’ve rushed to condemn any fellow Democrat who actually does have the awareness, guts, and courage to actually stand up and tell the truth about Bush. The Democrats who have rolled over and presented their bellies in the face of the power grab by the right and who have sat back passively while approving each and every Bush proposal with only token peeps of protest are just as much to blame for our being in this state.

If the press only stands up on it's hind legs and tells people the truth, people will applaud it in the end. The public's opinion of the media has never been lower, and I believe it's because they realize they're not getting the truth. The media pulls it’s punches with Bush out of fear, and the mistaken belief that having a conservative slant makes more money.

I believe that outlets who are not browbeaten into glossing over or ignoring Bush's misdeeds and who finally wise up and ignore the unspoken commandment of “Thou shalt not make Bush look bad” can not only do well, but prosper. Reporting the truth can be profitable.

I've always wondered just how many blatant failures and mistakes, not to mention the seemingly unending string of out-and-out LIES Bush and his people insult us with, it would take before people started trusting themselves and their common sense and shook themselves out of the child-like belief that surely the President wouldn't lie to them, at least not tell them huge and blatant lies repeatedly, and on matters as important as war.

We've been told what a great "man of God" Bush is, how caring and compassionate he is, how he's a bold leader, how he is "plain spoken" (HA!), what a success all his programs have been, and all the rest. The fact is, not one of those things is remotely true, and more often than not, just the opposite is true.

Maybe now, even those in thrall to the elaborate Bush myth will be unable to continue denying the obvious, continuing to acknowledge the truth even as they see it with their own eyes. Maybe they'll finally abandon their child-like faith in the version of reality that they're fed by this administration. Maybe the fear that leads them to trust so unthinkingly will vanish. Maybe they'll gain the courage to realize that the version of reality we're constantly fed by this administration and their cowardly and willing accomplices in the media, thousands of paid right wing flacks, and yes, Democrats, has no relationship to reality at all.

Maybe they'll realize that to do so is to help invigorate and preserve democracy and put the country back on the right track again. It needs to be done. It must be done.

Do you ever wonder why these times seem so surreal and weird? This is why. Because we've gone through Alice's looking glass. The fantasy spin and propaganda we're insulted with steadily has gotten so far away from the reality we see and experience and know all around us that it can't help but cause people to feel an odd disconnect, as though they're living through a surreal dream. It's because we're being LIED TO. Constantly, repeatedly, and blatantly.

You can't hold two opposing versions of the truth in your head at one time without becoming disoriented and confused. It’s called cognitive dissonance, and it’s rampant. It’s also Karl Rove and Bush’s best friend.

John Beydler, a fine writer and news editor for Quad Cities Online, the internet home of the Dispatch/Argus, is a dispassionate writer who is not given to hyperbole. He's been moved to state a simple truth, though one which, in the unreal state of our country, still requires a dose of courage and honesty to state.

In a post at his blog, "The Passing Parade", Beydler writes,

At this point I'll say, because I can no longer not say it: George Bush is an idiot.

I've written in opposition to many of his policies, and I've written against his election, but have diligently steered clear of the ad hominem. Seldom helps a case, probably won't now. Nevertheless, here it is again: The man is an idiot.

(Beydler has other fine posts on Kartrina and its aftermath, including and elightening post which covers New Orlean's history prior to its destruction.)

Granted, at least in my opinion, this isn't exactly going out on a limb. It's simply stating the obvious. People have warned that those who underestimate Bush are mistaken. He's actually very intelligent and shrewd, they argue. Bull.

Bush is incurious, vapid, intellectually shallow, and his consistent attitude towards the disasters, death, destruction and suffering that his actions cause or exacerbate can be characterized as a shrugging, "Oh well. Shit happens". Thatis, as long as it has to do with the poor or middle class. If it effects any of the economic elites, he gets downright pissed and action is taken immediately.

Bush knows who gives him the money. He knows who uses their power and reach to ensure he’s propped up in office. And he pays them back handsomely. He also knows that the hundreds of thousands of poor, desperate, ill, and starving people left to die in New Orleans aren’t his “base”. As he famously quipped at a white tie gala fund-raiser in Manhattan to a group of multi-millionaire and billionaire donors, “Some people call you the elite. I call you my base”, causing those in attendance to put down their champagne glasses long enough to applaud and chuckle.

This lying hypocrite who has long blathered about his higher call for us to create a culture of "personal responsibility", simply REFUSES to even consider that he's in any way responsible for so much damage, death, loss, and suffering. It's simply out of the question, and he’s incapable of entertaining the thought.

He may be shrewd politically, but he has his Svengali, Rove (whom Bush refers to as “Turd Blossom) to stage manage his every move. Despite the incredible lengths they've gone to to present a glowing image of Bush, despite the hermetically sealed and tightly scripted appearances in front of exclusively screened military audiences at military bases who are ordered to be enthusiastic or else, despite the willing accomplices in the major media, thousands of paid flacks, and legions of AM troglodytes, the fact remains that any way you look at him, George W. Bush is an appallingly failure, callous, out of touch, and an eerily unconcerned man.

He's consumed with ego, unburdened by the slightest bit of self-examination or doubt. He’s utterly insulated from reality, fed sanitized and erroneous information, (he’s too incurious to ever investigate for himself, hell, he doesn’t even read newspapers, and says he relies on people like Condi and Dick to tell him what’s in the news.) and when asked, can’t think of a single instance where he may have made a mistake or done anything differently.

And if his actions mean masses of people die and suffer, oh well, not his problem. He shrugs his shoulders, grins his stupid jaw-jutting fake grin, chuckles his weird clipped laugh while bouncing his shoulders, and walks off, strutting with his arms a foot from his sides trying to look like a real he-man, but looking pathetic instead.

(Gene Lyons once related to me that Bush's posturing reminded him of his beloved beagles who posture and strut to try to appear to be the top dog.)

The fact that John Beydler recognizes, especially now, that "idiot" is simply the best word out of all available to describe Bush, is unremarkable on one level. But given the almost Soviet-style attack campaign which has managed to make it a thought-crime to be openly and forcefully critical of Bush for any reason whatsoever, it is unfortunately a welcome, refreshing, and all too uncommon example of a respected writer simply stating the honest-to-God unavoidable truth.

That's my point. Perhaps the shamefully incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina, yet another example of Bush's incompetence and lack of concern causing yet more death and suffering, will make the truth finally, and at long last, impossible to ignore, even for journalists who have long felt that criticizing Bush in strong terms was only for “fringe whackos”. Hell, when even the gentlest critics of Bush are routinely referred to as “far left” by every talking boob on Fox and AM radio, it’s clear that if you strongly criticize Bush, you’ll be labeled a traitor, receive vile threats, and have a smear campaign mounted against you.

The facts are unavoidable. The point of all this is that it is no longer possible to avoid acknowledging that this president and administration is a failure on every level. A strong case can be made that Bush is the worst president of our lifetimes, and perhaps in the history of our great country. Now is the time for all good journalists to come to the aid of their country.


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