We have reached the paralytic stage of Bush spin, where a large percentage of the population are ready to forget the horrors they’ve just seen and felt, in return for comforting lies -- lies they can live with. A large proportion of people are willing to place major responsibility for the recent bloodbath on the Gulf Coast on media-targeted scapegoats -- both local officials and the victims themselves -- in exchange for the ability to deny the most threatening portion of the Bush response: the active intervention of the federal government to prevent outside help from getting in. This was not neglect, incompetence, or failure. This was what Rummy calls a “catastrophic success.”
In the press of events, certain mainstream figures did go off the reservation. New York Times columnist David Brooks actually admitted that the Bushitters lie quite deliberately and have from Day One. Brooks characterizes the position of White House insiders this way: “[I]f you admit a mistake, you get no credit from your enemies, and then you open up another week’s story, because the admission of a little mistake leads to the admission of big mistakes and another week’s story. It’s totally tactical and totally insincere.”
It’s all a story. One big story from beginning to end.
It’s also totally corporate. The Bushitters interact with the public only through the medium of advertising and only in furtherance of their own bottom line. Anyone who thinks corporations are ever sincere, or are even capable of human emotions, has fallen for a marketing pitch. To call what they do lying simply misses the point: unlike human beings, corporations have only one goal.
We Americans love corporations. We have bestowed on them, through legal precedents and high-court interpretations of the Constitution, the status of citizens. Corporations have a right to free speech, just like you and me. Of course, in the case of corporations, they can only speak through money. Money, money, money. We Americans love money. We feel it would be wrong to limit how much money -- I mean speech -- wealthy multinational corporations can spend on elections. The cure for bad speech is more speech, right? Sort of like that.
The thing about money is, it amplifies certain voices. We all have free speech, but corporate media are heard speech. So think about it: how could you use media companies to make money? Don’t give me a snap answer. Mull it over for 30 or 40 years. Hire a whole bunch of people, generations of the finest minds from the finest schools, to really, really dig into that question.
What do you think would happen?
The funny thing is, it really seemed to work, at least for middle-class white Americans, for a pretty long time. Not only that, a lot of it was fun. We like our big cars and our $100 running shoes and Starbucks and -- everything. We’re the world’s greatest consumers. As long as New Deal regulations remained even partially in effect, enough people prospered that we had a nation of Republicans. Their wealth constituted their credibility. Join the Chamber of Commerce, make connections, and get ahead.
The problem is that when the ultimate takeover finally occurs and the federal government is totally in the hands of corporate interests, the logic abruptly reverses.
Unless you are part of the acquiring industries -- oil, pharmaceuticals, weapons, insurance, telecommunications -- you are screwed. Exxon-Mobil, for example, just made more money than any business has ever made in one quarter in the history of the world -- and the rest of us are paying and will continue to pay for it.
The Bushitters’ bonus targets are being set by Dick Cheney’s energy committee; in effect, this country works for people on the same page as Enron’s management, the smartest guys in the room. They created a false energy shortage in California in order to jack up prices -- and then they turned around and convinced people that the problem was all the damn regulations energy companies have to observe. All the federal hoops they have to jump through. Sound familiar? These people are now literally printing money. They have control of the army, which they’ve blended with their own private security firms. And rest assured they’ve got plans for us.
Did you see Junior scold the nation pre-Rita, that constipated-frown face urging the people of Galveston to listen CAREFULLY to authorities . . . pained pause . . . and FOLLOW their instructions. Nobody hates the American people more than George W. Bush. We literally make him sick. That’s why he has to be so carefully shielded from all sight and sound of us. He does not wish us well.
So what the hell can we do?
At this moment, I can’t even think about possible electoral solutions. Elections are too far in the future and way too uncertain of practical success, given the continuing, deepening privatization of voting and the more and more open resorts to violence. As a character says in an Alan Furst novel, What are we going to do about Hitler invading Poland? Vote?
As far as I can tell, our only choice at this moment is to go mano-a-mano. We have to make a conscious decision to start fighting with all the Bushitters we know. At the very least, we have to make their lives as miserable as they’ve been making ours -- I mean on a personal level, one on one. I think a lot of us don’t really want to see the people we’re living and working with; time to take a peek.
This Thanksgiving, go prepared to destroy appetites. Get ready to cut off unrepentant Nazis -- because for me, nothing says sadistic war criminal quite like Nazi. You know? The new batch of photos from Abu Ghraib -- brace yourselves -- will no doubt help you make your point. I don’t think there’ll be any naked cheerleader pyramids this time around.
Shunning is one tool that is available to all of us that has real emotional impact. While shunning, you can take the MSM’s advice and learn to speak the language of moral values. Time to be intolerant and judgmental -- what a fucking relief! They’ve been having all the fun all these years. No more!
At times like this, personal characteristics that have always seemed wrong and annoying -- like, say, a big mouth you can never keep shut -- acquire a new and unexpected value. Enjoy!
In addition to withdrawing affection, attention, respect, and cooperation, we can withdraw something perhaps even more important, namely, our money. Get out of the stock market. Realize that every campaign contribution you make, to either party, enriches the corporate media: boy, do they love a swing state. Those of us who have disposable income need to drastically reduce our spending across the board. Begin by canceling all your newspaper subscriptions, magazines too. Switch from cable to satellite and tell them you’re moving to get Link and Free Speech TV. Set a goal for personal savings that’s ambitious -- and then double it. (P.S., these are also common-sense survival tips.)
I also believe that we somehow need to stop paying for disasters, as well. The Red Cross is still a non-profit but don’t forget that Elizabeth Dole is a former president: it’s become a great little corporate enabler, dutifully collaborating with the government agenda in order to protect its funding stream in much the same way PBS does. Neither of them has the balls or the ambition to make the kind of waves that, say, Amnesty International does. Call it a corporate version of Stockholm Syndrome. We have to figure out a way to help disaster victims -- and all the victims of globalization -- without unintentionally feeding the circling vultures.
We might remember the example of Frances Newton. On the eve of her execution for a crime she clearly did not commit, Newton said she drew strength from the knowledge of her own innocence. In the end, all she could do was look her murderers steadily in the eye. It’s a good beginning, too.
Patricia Goldsmith is a member of Long Island Media Watch, a grassroots free media and democracy watchdog group. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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