Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Because I Don't Live On Saturn -- UPDATE

This is a picture of a portion of planet Earth where I used to live as seen from low Earth orbit.  

This is a picture of our lovely, green and blue planet as seen from 

a distance of 10 million kilometers, shot by the Juno spacecraft en route to Jupiter.


As here is a picture of Earth as seen from 

behind the rings of Saturn.

You will notice that as you move further and further away from Earth, every meaningful, human-scale boundary is lost.  

From far away you cannot distinguish between Chicago and North Korea.

From even further away you cannot make out the difference between the Earth and the Moon.

So depending on where you plant your feet and how much geological time you choose to embrace you could write that the distinction between, say, the administration of Mayor Harold Washington of Chicago and the reign of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il were radically different in every meaningful way...

...or you could opine that all of human history is a mere tick of the galactic clock, and all human endeavors are the vain and ridiculous squalling of foolish species that will no doubt soon vanish, unnoticed and unmourned.

Which brings me to this column by Chris Hedges.

Which lays out the perfectly legitimate, detailed low-orbit slam on MSNBC for selling out Phil Donahue and muzzling Bill Moyers:
 ...if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq.

Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft—MSNBC’s founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war—were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves.
No argument here.

Then Mr. Hedges takes it out to 10 million kilometers because what this column is really about is "they're all equally awful!" 
The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script. They spin the same court gossip. They ignore what the corporate state wants ignored. They champion what the corporate state wants championed. They do not challenge or acknowledge the structures of corporate power. Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system—to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns. 
And they all get paid too much:
These corporations, in return for the fear-based propaganda, pay the lavish salaries of celebrity news people, usually in the millions of dollars.
Then, suddenly, it's about Tom Friedman also too!
It does not matter that these celebrities and their guests, usually retired generals or government officials, got the war terribly wrong. Just as it does not matter that Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman were wrong on the wonders of unfettered corporate capitalism and globalization. 
Because however legitimate the original argument may be -- and kicking the crap out of the lackeys who burned Donohue and smothered Moyers is entirely legitimate -- for the Purity Caucus it is vitally important to move every debate as quickly as possible from whatever the initial point was outward to the broader theme that there is absolutely no distinction whatsoever between, say, Fox News and MSNBC: 
The descent was gradual—a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. 
Vitall important that all discussion be limited as quickly as possible to only that which is visible from the orbit of Saturn:
They do not devote significant time to climate scientists to explain the crisis that is enveloping our planet. They do not confront the reckless assault of the fossil fuel industry on the ecosystem. They very rarely produce long-form documentaries or news reports on our urban and rural poor, who have been rendered invisible, or on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or on corporate corruption on Wall Street. That is not why they are paid. They are paid to stymie meaningful debate. They are paid to discredit or ignore the nation’s most astute critics of corporatism, among them Cornel West, Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky. They are paid to chatter mindlessly, hour after hour, filling our heads with the theater of the absurd. They play clips of their television rivals ridiculing them and ridicule their rivals in return.
After which, for dessert, you can wander through the column's 244 (an counting) comments that  form the ever-widening circle of contestants playing the "Whose of conspiracy theory is bigger?" game behind Mr. Hedge's column and learn everything you ever wanted to know about:
  • How Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes are just another set of tools of the empire.
  • How Rachel Maddow's book might be interesting, but was just a bunch of stuff from ten years ago.
  • How MSNBC is "just opinion not facts!"
  • How Rachel Maddow is obsessed with divisive identity policies about gay stuff and abortion that is all designed by her corporate paymasters to distract The People for the Real Issues.
  • Top!Secret! World Jewish Conspiracy Stuff.
  • Top!Secret! Kennedy Assassination Stuff
  • Top!Secret! 9/11 Truth stuff, and interplay during which several commenters turn on him for begin too big a pussy to Tell The Truth.  
  • Why you should never, ever vote.
I hear the orbit of Saturn is a lovely place.  

There, with the Universe as your backyard, you have enough room to encompass however many of the widest, deepest and grandest conspiracy theories as may please you.  From there you can laugh and sneer at the pettiness and cruelty your entire species from safe, safe, safe distance and never have to trouble yourself with the actual concerns of our silly monkey-race or grubby little human details like the difference between the administration of Mayor Harold Washington of Chicago and the reign of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il.

I hear the orbit of Saturn is a lovely place.

But I don't live there. 

UPDATE:  Welcome Crooks and Liars Readers.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

What the fuck are you talking about? Chris Hedges is one of of the few people who talks truth to power despite how depressing it is to read his shit. I hope you are being sarcastic.

tmk said...

...aaand the PC Flying Monkey Brigade draws first blood!

Batocchio said...

Hmm, I would probably point to the 70s/80s and news divisions being asked to make profits instead of being seen as a public service delivered in exchange for using the public airwaves. (Good programs also earned prestige for a network, and it was never solely altruistic.)

I'm not the biggest fan of Fukuyama, but to his credit, he has admitted to some significant errors and has criticized his former neocon pals quite sharply and publicly.

Meanwhile, I appreciate some of Hedges' work as a gadfly. As for the other stuff, Tom Levenson delved into related material last year and it resulted in some lively threads, here and here.

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

.....aaand a blogger I once admired sacrifices another few points of his indie cred, defending the not-quite-as-reactionary wing of the Property Party.



Lit3Bolt said...

Lol. It's amazing that people, when told the world is full of carnival barkers who only want to enrich themselves, become instantly and eternally slavishly loyal to the carnival barker who just told them that the world is full of carnival barkers (GG, Chris Hedges, Freddie De Boring).

Like the serpent eating it's own tail, everyone left and right everywhere is reducing political opinion journalism to its fundamentals, to wit:

1. Both sides do it.
2. This justifies political apathy and promotes the status quo.
3. Pay me for this valuable insight brought by decades of experience.

Who's the rube and who's the corporate shill, again?

K. Freed said...

I'd like to interject here and treat everyone to the entirety of the firebagger/teabagger schtick courtesy of Libertarian filmmaker [propagandist] Michael W. Dean.

This piece of garbage effectively represents THE totality of the arguments lately put forth by Hedges (who oddly enough wrote "American Fascists: The Religious Right and the War on America"), Greenwald, Sirota, Ron Paul, Rand Paul... and every Libertarian huckster/Fraud Paul lubber ever to walk the planet (in keeping with the planet-related topic, of course)...

Presenting: "Guns and Weed: The Road to Freeeeeedom!" (Part 1 of 16): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICWQ6AGWb_M

Watch all 16 parts and tell me they don't sound exactly like Libertarian Glenn Greenwald and his motley crew of "progressive" town criers.

This is what progressives promote when we hitch our wagons to batshit crazy.

P.S. Tell Hedges to pull his head out of Greenwald's butt, to read his own book, and to note that we are at that crossroads of which he warned in the event of an economic crisis (or did he not hear the thunderous crashing sound of '08?)

So yeah...Um... No thank you.

K. Freed said...

P.S. Speaking of Bill Moyers - somebody kindly inform Chris Hedges that Moyers isn't dead. In fact, he has a documentary up right about now, titled: "The United States of ALEC" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqBFXwdY8Ac

...which I highly recommend he watch since he can't tell his left from his right.

The corporatists of which he speaks are all hanging out at the American Legislative Exchange Council and they're 99% Republican/Libertarian and 100% Koch/Tea Party-sponsored: (alecexposed.org)

As it happens, the pro-corporate, hand-over-your-Social-Security-check "Fix the Debt" Commission is tied to ALEC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqBFXwdY8Ac

In other words, the same people who lied us into war and crashed the world economy are now demanding we commit economic suicide.

Exactly why NOT VOTING isn't an option.

Again, Chris Hedges needs to pull his ass out of Greenwald's butt so's he can see the result of the Tea Party takeover our shithead "professional Left" (no offense DG) helped engineer, thus ensuring the likelihood of ALEC legislation passing in Tea Party controlled states, effectively unraveling what remains of the New Deal and eviscerating our civil liberties.

Not to mention, these same a-holes made passing progressive legislation at the federal level nearly impossible thanks to unprecedented GOP obstruction.

Yep, these Ron Paul/Rand Paul fauxgressive a-holes built that. And I for one will never forget it. A hardy F-U to them all.

Fiddlin Bill said...

I guess Anon above doesn't understand your point. I sure do. Thanks for continuing to make it.

Fritz Strand said...

I am a huge supporter of most of Hedges' writings, but he does have a tendency to shoot at the folks in his own line, i.e., MoveOn.

If I am not mistaken, there is not a weekend that passed without Chris Hayes devoting time on his show to climate change.

Anonymous said...

Driftie,
I love your work, but I have to go with Hedges on this one. On this planet, in this focus, what he says is fair comment. I've got your point too. Publicly peeing down one another's pant leg may be unseemly. Outside the tent...I get it but neither Donahue nor Moyers become beyond criticism because they represent progressive comments in the context of the psycho babble.

Unsalted Sinner said...

After decades of activism by abolitionists, slavery in the US was finally abolished by a president who said he was perfectly willing to leave slavery alone if that would save the union. And after decades of left-wing activism failed to stop Hitler, it was an alliance between imperialist Britain, Stalinist Russia and the racist United States that finally brought him down.

It takes both sorts to get things done: the activists who gradually change public opinion, and the pragmatic - even conservative - and often machiavellian politicians who turns public opinion into law. The one thing the first group should realise is that changing the world is a dirty business, because you have to fight opponents who often don't worry about breaking the rules. If you're not willing to walk with the Devil 'til you get to the end of the bridge, you probably won't achieve much in this life.

To be pure is ultimately to be irrelevant. It is, in short, a luxury.

steeve said...

"just opinion not facts!"

That's the one that gets me. Which of the following is "just the facts"?

. the top marginal tax rate rose to 39.6%
. the top marginal tax rate rose to 39.6%, still far short of 70% like it was under Nixon
. taxes on the rich went up a miniscule amount, not nearly enough, yet republicans in congress still bitched incessantly about it, pretending that it was the biggest tax increase ever, and anyone voting for a republican congressman is a tool and a moron

That last comment should be considered straight news, not opinion. If news is separated from the right worldview, it's worthless.

Compound F said...

driftglass has a unique talent for disconnecting one's higher vocal centers using bilateral injections of a lidocaine/bullshit cocktail.

The temporary lesions resulting from the lidocaine are reversible.

My reaction isn't quite "mute horror," but I am piqued by his escalating attacks on purity.

I'm waiting for the unprovoked and vicious assault on the absolutism of "all men are created equal," but I suspect he'll first find a need to do some copy-editing to spruce up the Club Gitmo brochure.

Hats off to you, sir.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

In 2008, I'd have agreed with you, Driftglass. Probably 2009, as well.

By 2010, I was saying what the hell?

And now in 2013, I have very little patience with people who resort to arguments like "purity caucus" and "grow the fuck up" when what they really mean is "shut up and lick DNC corporatist boots" and "we can't argue the facts of how shitty our right-wing Democratic President has been".

Take K. Freed above:

As it happens, the pro-corporate, hand-over-your-Social-Security-check "Fix the Debt" Commission is tied to ALEC:
...
Again, Chris Hedges needs to pull his ass out of Greenwald's butt so's he can see the result of the Tea Party takeover our shithead "professional Left"


Damn. If Glenn Greenwald were that powerful, you'd think some Democratic politicians would want to talk to him.

In the real world, it's Obama who created a Catfood Commission in early 2010, when the Dems had a 60 seat majority coalition in the Senate.

And it was Obama who handpicked Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles as the co-chairs of that commission. Where are they now? That's right...working for Pete Peterson's Fix the Debt scam.

Obama? Still trying to cut Social Security. Yet Glenn Greenwald is the one sabotaging the New Deal?

You can't make this shit up.
~

Ormond Otvos said...

DG - don't bite your own leg.

Anonymous said...

Trying hard not to make a 'right winger-Uranus' joke...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Very little makes sense about the current Administration (which I supported in 2008) without understanding the power and reach of the Purple Party Combine – the establishment consensus among the leaderships of both parities.

The "they both do it" argument is actually correct. How else can one explain The 0-Bombers embraces of New Deal destruction, endless war and the massive rollbacks to civil liberties (and I won't even mention the highly visible support for Wall Street's criminogenic business practices.

The Purple Party rules. The 0-Bomber is the Purple Party's perfect ruse for advancing its agenda. Until bona fide liberals and sane thinking Main Street types regain control of the Democratic Party, this country is screwed. Under Republican leadership, the screwing will happen faster. Under current Democratic leadership, it will also happen – it'll just take a little while longer...

Anonymous said...

Very little makes sense about the current Administration (which I supported in 2008) without understanding the power and reach of the Purple Party Combine – the establishment consensus among the leaderships of both parities.

The "they both do it" argument is actually correct. How else can one explain The 0-Bombers embraces of New Deal destruction, endless war and the massive rollbacks to civil liberties (and I won't even mention the highly visible support for Wall Street's criminogenic business practices.

The Purple Party rules. The 0-Bomber is the Purple Party's perfect ruse for advancing its agenda. Until bona fide liberals and sane thinking Main Street types regain control of the Democratic Party, this country is screwed. Under Republican leadership, the screwing will happen faster. Under current Democratic leadership, it will also happen – it'll just take a little while longer...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Until bona fide liberals and sane thinking Main Street types regain control of the Democratic Party,

"regain"? What planet are you visiting from?

Randall said...

Bill Mahar was booted from HBO for speaking honestly.

History may very well track the final take-over of Corporations to the Bush administration.

The "beginning of the end", so to speak, began during the Reagan administration, when the Fairness Doctrine, Glass-Steagall, and the Sherman Act were all de-fanged, ignored or fully repealed.

We began to see economic bubbles and bursts and banks and corporations not only too big to fail, but too big to prosecute.

darrelplant said...

Hedges's basic premise is flawed from the first quote you used.

If I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, I think I would choose sometime before the movie Network was written.

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

^Agreed. Chayefsky was a prophet.

Anonymous said...

So your argument is that you are the proper and just middle ground?

Where you live is the most reasonable center of the conservative universe, because unlike idiots you don't like, and like some idiots you do like, you've done your homework, refined your chops, been a good hippie who's learned right from wrong, studied the facts, and why can't the whole world see just how fucking reasonably centrist you truly are? When will you get your Daddy dues?

You've always had a fair axe to grind over your work not paying, and I guess I can see ideologically, personally it's important to set yourself into some sort of center, somewhere in between the extremes. Hmmm... around say, Mars?

The real question being, now that you've grown up when will you ever overcome being the dweeb.

You are playing the same damn game as Sullivan.

The problem with such a relentless focus on a couple major league assholes idiot hypocrites is that you may turn into that which you spend all your time judging...

... WAIT! Ahhh... Nooooooooooo!

mahakal said...

Help refine the points you think need refinement. You are a mighty and powerful wordsmith. But hold your friendly fire, sir.