The dissident writer's job description could be best summed up as performing cleanup duty for our coal-shoveling colleagues on Satan's payroll. When one of these individuals or organizations drops a "stinky", we (the unofficial, unpaid up members of the Rupert Murdoch Manure Brigade) are there, nose plugs and pooper-scooper in hand, applying ourselves to the grim task of clearing the air. We like to believe that facts speak louder than spin, and go a long way in diffusing the stink bombs continually lobbed at us by the Military/Industrial/Happy Meal/Media Complex (or IHOP for short).
At times, wishful thinking overrides a willingness to acknowledge the often futile nature of this task. Still, we labor in the dim hope that these Sisyphean, shit shoveling efforts will be eventually rewarded with a "Eureka" moment -- that an actual, indisputable, screamingly obvious fact (No WMD's in Iraq!) will somehow penetrate the sloped forehead of a genuine, dyed-in-the-GAP shorts Kool-Aid chugger. Let's say our imaginary Bushi'ite, perhaps during his nocturnal sojourns into cyberspace, has temporarily tired of trying to lure Myspace hotties into his subterranean rec room for "role playing dungeon games" and only managing to attract other Bud-swilling basement dwellers in Boy Scout uniforms posing as jail bait. Maybe that's why he's now turned to his second favorite online activity: trawling the left wing blogosphere searching for proof of a liberal "bias". And this is presumably the moment when epiphany kicks in, causing his entire worldview to come crashing down like a bowl of overturned Cheetos. "Holy freakin' Jesus! It says here that "an oil hungry pack of plutocrats have taken up permanent residence in the White House in order to impose full spectrum domination over the planet and line their bottomless, blood soaked pockets with the spoils of war and terror -- I gotta tell Earl," prompting him to share these hair raising revelations with fellow members of his internet message board militia, who in turn, will have their falsely held notions similarly blown up into powdery, orange smithereens.
The more idealistic among us will point to Bush's single, raised middle digit approval ratings to prop up their argument that all this poking at turds is finally paying off. There is certainly no shortage of anecdotal evidence to support their claims that divine justice is playing a belated hand in exposing the leadership's high crimes and low down dirty misdemeanors. With the White House buffoonery barometer reaching stratospheric levels of absurdity (think Donald Rumsfeld's recent impersonation of Dame Edna at the Nuremberg Trials), it's hard not to get caught up in the jubilant atmosphere of celebration. Whether it is "The Macaque-ian Candidate" George Allen watching his chances for re-election go down the ancestral outhouse chute, or sore-assed Senator Joe Lieberman getting a very public and painful wedgie from Connecticut voters, the optimists have every reason, it seems, to believe that their muckraking efforts have finally hit pay dirt.
Even with voters poised to give Bizarro World's despised denizens the heave-ho, it would be premature to suppose that "a few minor setbacks" aren't preventing our temporarily hobbled leadership from staging their comeback. Secure in the knowledge that "truthiness" will prevail, the Bush Gang has every reason to dismiss their opponents and critics -- rigged Diebold machines notwithstanding. Facts, after all, stand no chance against "factoids" -- those cheez-whiz smothered, byte-sized chunks of reconstituted reality cooked up in the Pentagon, and featured on the menu at every McMedia outlet across the nation.
Thoughtful and informed analysis about current events and world affairs are no match, either, for the porn-driven punditry of cable news and its ongoing obsession with slain moppets and obscure polygamy sects. Unlike controversy, which has the potential to diminish the power of business, "scandal" only implicates personal responsibility and merely serves to sustain manageable levels of public participation in political life. As an electronic prod that momentarily stuns consumers into an elevated level of complacency, it has always been the necessary device for the manufacture of acceptable outrage. Meaningless buzzwords like "terror" become shorthand for justifying the abuses of American power and providing its leadership with an excuse to carry out their atrocities.
Like any "product", Terror™ has been marketed by a crack team of strategists, image consultants, and experts, who apply Madison Avenue's proven techniques of emotional manipulation and titillation to "sell" whatever is being transmitted over the airwaves, cable or print -- whether it's a State of the Union address or a page from the Victoria's Secret catalogue. "Terror" has become another form of experience enhancement; the trip wire that activates an electrical charge to our dead nerve endings, adding an extra veneer of Technicolor to the dissolving pixel images of bodies in rapturous, slow motion free fall through a meteor blizzard of blasted mortar and splintered glass. Being in a permanent and heightened state of alert gives rise to a kind of mass religious euphoria with all the sexual underpinnings that self-induced fear engenders. It is no longer enough for the consumer to merely buy the product, he/she must buy into its promise of ecstatic fulfillment.
Once a consumer has fully internalized the product's outer emblems, that person has proved resistant to ideas that potentially disrupt this process of integration. Empty slogans like "stay the course" become food for non-thought. Truth is merely a bitter elixir reminder that our existence is largely determined by the financial concerns of the ruling class, and our survival is dependent on our usefulness in achieving their economic and military goals. By speaking "truthiness" to the powerless, the regime can maintain the warped, reverse mirror version of reality, necessary to bolster the illusion of an omniscient, stalwart leadership.
Like the disciples of Zion who embrace the delirious, blood fuelled fantasy of the "Promised Land," present day Bushi'ites have similarly undergone a self-willed psychological transformation that requires constant reinforcements of outrage in order to reap the benefits of sublime promise. But five years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the spectacular has given way to its gloomily sated aftermath. In the post-orgy landscape of 9/11, the administration will have to devise even more ingenious ways to arouse public interest in their next staged extravaganza.
After their last aborted attempt to bring the Middle East kicking and screaming into global community of subservient fiefdoms, it would be easy enough to presume that our warring Lords (and Ladies) have hung up their forceps and scrapped any further plans for "Operation Birth Pangs." However, that's assuming that there are limits to their depravity, or even our tolerance.
Admittedly, it becomes harder to fault the optimistic assessment that the cracks beginning to show on Humpty Dumpt-ya are a sure sign that the hapless, wobbly-kneed "Decider" will soon implode under all the pressure, leaving a yolk strewn trail from his play ranch in Texas to his rightful place alongside the rest of his minions in the defendant’s docket of the Hague. Still, it would be pure folly to persist in the belief that his eventual departure will accomplish anything more than window dressing, or that the changing of the Republican Guard in 2008 will herald a return to sane governance, rather than a phased re-deployment of neo-cons to the "opposition" party. It's better to believe that the administration is in the final throes of their lunacy than face the grim fact that we have reached a Rubicon moment in the dismantling of the Republic.
In our haste to root out divinely sprawled messages of glad tidings from these media-generated entrails, the more optimistic among us continually underestimate the cockroach like tenacity of the Bush cabal to thrive in an atmosphere of filth and carnage. It is not a failure of perception on their part that they see "opportunity" where the rest of us see only squalor and hopelessness. Nor should we consider the administration's skewed vision of reality, however laughable, evidence of their weakening grip on power, but rather the leverage they use to wield it.
Other Articles by Leilla Matsui
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