Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday Morning Comin’ Down

“Certain Honorable Men” – Edition.

Once upon a time there was a very good, somewhat-flawed writer by the name of Rodman Edward Serling.

Perhaps you’ve heard of him?
(Question # 138 on the SAT:
In the world of writing, “Good” is to “Flawed” as
A. “Feta” is to “Goat”.
B. “Morning-after winemouth” is to “Pan”.
C. “Lost in Space” is to “Hippy-Hating brainwashing”
D. All of the Above.)

He created literature that will last as long as we ingest wisdom-laced entertainment via video -- a butt-load of the “Twilight Zone” episodes, “Requiem for a Heavyweight”, “Patterns”, the screenplays for “Planet of the Apes" and “Seven Days in May” (screw you; I liked it) – as well as some stuff that frankly should be sailed over the horizon and sunk without a trace into the deep, blue sea.

In the latter category was the mediocre “Certain Honorable Men”: a balding retread of the “Man of conscience in crisis” theme Serling did a thousand times better in “Patterns” and in any of a dozen T-Zones.

Serling worked best when he was writing out of a powerful sense of moral indignation, coupled with a deeply humane empathy for the compromises and ambiguities life forces on even the best of us...while wielding a scalpel in one hand and "Tiny" van Buskirk's dureum space axe in the other.

Listen to what Mr. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" wrote in an editorial in the (then very right-wing) Los Angeles Times 43 long years ago, in 1964, in response to a series of articles by wingnut-apologist Morrie Ryskind (proving that every generation has its brownshirt-friendly media cross to bear):

What Mr. Ryskind seems constitutionally unable to understand is that there is a vast difference between the criticism of a man or a party, and the setting up of criteria or patriotism which equates differences of opinion with disloyalty.

We have need in the country for an enlightened, watchful and articulate opposition. We have no need for semi-secret societies who are absolutist, dictatorial, and would substitute for a rule of law and reason an indiscriminate assault on the institutions of this republic that should and must be held sacrosanct.

Uncanny, isn’t it?

Uncanny, and desperately sad, that this piece was written four months after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and yet if it were reprinted tomorrow in Paul Krugman’s column or frontpaged at the Great Orange Satan -- word-for-word and sentiment-for-sentiment – it would still be as up-to-the-second contemporary as “The Soprano’s” finale.

And to be perfectly clear, Mr. "Time Enough At Last" was no Squishy, Broderian Centrist. He had an extremely well-honed political point of view, which he himself made unambiguously plain in this response to a response to his aforementioned comments (no linky; comes out of a dead-tree copy of “Rod Serling: The Dreams and Nightmares of Life in the Twilight Zone” by Joel Engel, one copy of which, Lord knows why, I proudly own.)

“[The far right cannot] discount the fact that sitting it their parlor is the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, every racist group in the United States and not a few of some Fascist orders that have scrambled their way up from the sewers to a position of new respectability.”

Again, un-fucking-canny.

Think about it.

Absent a mention of the influence of the Christopaths, and minus the now-obsolete qualification of “far right”, this diagnosis of the disgrace that was then stalking the land is indistinguishable from something that Steve Gilliard could have penned and posted on any given midnight.

And it was written before the late Mr. Gillard was born.

My God, we have been culturally soul-sick with this disease for so damned long.

Serling himself disliked the teleplay of “Certain Honorable Men” intensely, at least in part because it was a supposed to be a political drama set in the United States Congress and it was rewritten by network weaklings to remove any reference to specific political parties.

Shorn of its context and ideological framework, it meant that as a “political drama”, it made no fucking sense at all.

So come now to a place 43 years in Rod Serling's future.

To a precipice he desperately tried to warn us away from. A place and time where the cowardly, the complicit and the blood-soaked bend the mightiest media in history to the service of flensing issues of life-and-death of inconvenient political context, for fear someone will notice that They Are The Problem.

A bloody cul-de-sac he would have recognized at once as his “Maple Street” where the Monsters have finally come for real.

A place we call, the Mouse Circus.

On Fox News Sunday:

First Tony Snow and Chris Wallace Immigration, Jebus and Carcinoma.

Snow: The critics want to know “How can we trust you?” ‘Cause were gonna throw money at it. And because there used to be nothing but a wrist-slap for employers. Now we will track illegals. For really, really real.

Wallace: Dems will probably poop in the punchbowl again by pointing out that it’s the Republicans who sabotaged this whole thing. What Mighty Powers of Bullshit can you bring to bear to help our feeble-minded viewers from facing yet another Harsh Reality 180-degrees in opposition to the chicken-fried horseshit they have been uncritically swallowing as Gee Dubya Gospel for the last six years?

Snow: Rather than doing finger pointing, you could have this thing done. If you weren’t taking all day Monday to do the entirely symbolic vote thingy about Abu Gonzalez.

Snow: Maybe instead of looking for blame the Dems should, y'know, not look for blame.

Snow: Whatever the Gonzo vote is, it is purely symbolic. Nothing untoward has happened. Nothing going on here. Just move along kids. Do people really think that taking a whole day to spank Alberto G is more important than rolling over and doing what the Dear Leader Commandeth? Why, I’ve never heard of such! It’''s like those little bitches think they’re a whole separate branch of government. Or something.

Wallace: Does the fact that Dubya pussied out and refuses to re-nominate Peter Pace mean that the Dems can now steal his lunch money, piss in his pockets and call him a “Nancy man” to his face?

Snow: No. It’s the Congress. The Congress just sucks ass. The Senate has done nothing. The American People have issued a vote of no-confidence in the Congress. I have it here in my pocket. It has the names of over 600 million loyal Americans who have called me up and personally told me that Congress is full of madness.

Wallace: Can I see it?

Snow: No.

The Fox Blightening Round, wherein Wallace one-word questions and Snow doesn't answer them.


Yabba dabba do.


Shama Lama Ding Dong.

When we return: “How can we blame Democrats for the GOP rats fleeing this Titanic of their own making?”

We return with My Senator, Dick Durbin:

Wallace: What’ll it take to bring this bill back from the dead?

Durbin: We had Republicans refusing to back their own amendments. Kinda fucked up when you have Goopers blowing their own bridges wouldn’t you say?

Wallace: Well, Ted Kennedy said…

In a lightening move, Dick Durbin snatches Chris Wallace’s nose from the front of his head.

Durbin: I’ve got your nose.

Wallace: Do Nive Dat Mack!

Durbin: What?

Wallace: Bi Doze! Nive Be Bi Doze!

Durbin: What? You’re asking why we took Friday off? We were committed to stay Friday, but there are 4-5 members on the Republican side who just don’t want a vote. They called for endless roll-call votes. They want of fuck this up, fine, but we don’t have to stick around and watch them write their names on the wall in their own poo.

Fox Makeup Lady snaps Wallace’s auxiliary nose back into place.

Wallace: Sure you say it’s a cabal of whinging, screaming, loony right-wing Republican pinheads that keep sinking this bill, but isn’t this really your fault?

Don’t answer that.

Instead, lets move on to discuss why Democrats hate our soldiers.

Durbin Quote: “Our soldiers should never be used as political bargaining chips”.

Wallace: So since Obama and Clinton voted against funding means they’re using our soldiers as bargaining chips.

Durbin’s Answer: I can’t speak for others, but I have talked to Barack at length and know he takes this matter very seriously.

Correct answer: “This President has done NOTHING but use the grief of the American people and the lives of American soldiers for the crassest, sleaziest partisan reasons since before the rubble of the World Trade Center was done smoking. Aren’t you just sick of it, Chris?

Wallace: Yeah, but they voted to end funding. How do you justify their votes?

Correct answer: Your President is a whockerjawed mope being led around by the nose by criminals and fascists. So tell you what, Chris. You explain to me how you justify your unstinting support of America’s internal enemies, and then I may consider answering your asinine question.

Wallace: You have done nothing in the last five months. Doesn’t that mean you are all a buncha failures.

Durbin: It has only been five months, and don’t forget we had to clean up the unfinished business the lazy, criminal, moral-lepers of the outgoing Republican Congress had left undone.

I mean it took over a months to get Jerry Lewis’ head pried out of Jack Abramoff’s ass. Another two weeks to chiropract and naprapath Denny Hastert’s gargantuan ass-divots out of Lady Liberty’s spine. And two more weeks to find the dungeon in which the GOP had thrown Justice and chisel Ted Stevens’ desiccated jimmy-stick out of her ass.

Also we passed a minimum wage increase, have six important bills being reconciled and ready for Preznit Badload to veto them, and have begun to restart the rusty engines of something called “Congressional Oversight”.

Durbin: There has been a more healthy debate about this war in the last five months than we have had in the last four years.

Brit Hume declares Dubya to be irrelevant. Lame duck. Due to the “unpopularity of the Iraq war”.

And “Certain Honorable Man” Juan Williams circumlocutes around the uncomfortable fact that his Conservative Paymasters Are The Problem. and instead blames the GPS coordinate of a place called “Washington” for the nations ills.

“Something intractable in the body politic of Washington” is Juan's diagnosis of the problem.

Yeah. And you’re soaking in it.

Meet the Press – was unavailable in these parts due to something called “tennis.”

Ah well, one show with men using rackets is much like another I suppose.

On “This Week…” Saint John McCain, and then a panel featuring
Time magazine's Jay Carney, ABC News consultant Torie Clarke, ABC News' Claire Shipman and George Will

McCain on Immigration: The more conservative, anti-legislation segment of the Republican Party does seem to hate the hell out of this bill and might cost me. And suddenly the other GOP candidates – whose records have been much more pro-immigration reform – got all Hulk! Smash! about it.

What, is there some other segment? One you people have been hiding under the bed?

Shipman: The vociferous minority had its way. This could almost have been Dubya’s Nixon-goes-to-China moment, but he needed a Democratic House and Senate to make it happen.

driftglass: Lets us be clear. “Democrats” didn’t kill this bill. Some mysterious, unnamed, vociferous Minority didn’t kill the bill. A plot of ground named “Washington” didn’t kill the bill.

The Republican Party killed the Republican President's bill.

Jay Carney: This was the end of his domestic presidency.

Torie Clarke takes the baton from Juan Williams and runs today's GOP talking point along a little further: It is a problem of “Washington”.

It is important to any aliens who may be flying past to note that this was as sweet an example of how utterly and openly dishonest and dishonorable the media is as you are likely to see

Torie Clarke is billed as “ABC News consultant”. And that is who is paying her mortgage these days.

Butt, see… (via Wiki)
“Victoria C. "Torie" Clarke (March 1959 in Pittsburgh) is an American public relations consultant who has served in the private sector and in three Republican presidential administrations, most notably as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs under Donald Rumsfeld.”

She is a highly-compensated Republican media trollop and camp follower, who has cheerfully offered her mouth in the perky service of the most corrupt, venial and treason-ridden Administration in American history.

And her penalty for taking 30 pieces of silver and a golden parachute from liars and monsters to help ruin America?

A sweet, paid gig on ABC “commenting” on the avalanche she herself helped unleash.

Shorter Washington Wisdom: The Preznit Badload and his GOP minions has spent seven years meticulously destroying everything they touch. They do this from atop the toxic summit of poisoned public rhetoric, Hate Radio, Christopathic fanaticism and Atwater/Rove “Rend and Rule” politics the Republicans have spent thirty methodically erecting.

Now that the Pig People they have gotten everything the ever dreamed of, and it has come a bloody cropper in exactly the way the Dirty Hippies warned them it would, they want to return to their factory default setting.

Blame “Washington”.

Blame the gridlock of “Washington”

Blame the venomous stalemate of “Washington” that they spent thirty years manufacturing and dumping into the nation’s groundwater.

So when you hear a filthy Republican whining that “Washington” is all gridlocky and slow and uncooperative, remember these are people who openly lust after the efficiency and conformity and quasi-military dress-code of a nice, tidy, White Christian One Party Police State.

When you hear them whining about the sluggish sloppiness of “Washington”, remember that our government was deliberately designed to be sluggish and sloppy. That what Republicans really hate is Democracy.

The Chris Matthews Show comes in here less predictably than pirate radio, but it is my understanding that it involved Katty Kay, John Heilemann, Michele Norris and
Howard Fineman.

On Face the Nation Tony Snow! And Joementum!

Tony reiterates that Congressional “oversight” is a big, dorky, kinda-faggy waste of time, that Brutus is an Honorable Man, and that the Congress should get on with what he believes American People elected them to do: dutifully bending over and grabbing ‘em for whatever Bicycle Chief’s appetites might be today.

And sounding off with an enthusiastic “Thank you Dubya! May I have another!” when he is finished back there.

For the good of the nation, Preznit Drinky needs a good, solid, anchored, non-ambulatory, non-sentient, inert=carbon-rod-like Congress against which he can lean and around which he can stagger and rant for the next two years and not some uppity bicameral free agent, just doing whatever-the-hell it pleases, coming in all hours, making out with boys, and worrying your mother and me half to death.

Why you could’ve wound up dead in a ditch!

No, Tony. 3,500 Americans and God knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have already ended up dead precisely because the degenerate perverts for whom you works have been allowed to run amok for six years.

Those days are over, and not all the aw-shucks, shit-slinging, hale-fellow handjobbing in the Universe is going to change that.

But the cake this week is taken by Imaginary SecDef Joementum (I, Goshen) explaining why we may need to attack Iran.

Which is so divorced from reality that they don’t even share joint custody of simple ‘rithmatic anymore.

From OpEd News:

The big news however was “Jumping” Joe Lieberman’s soon to be famous sound bite that said “I think we can’t take military options off the table when it comes to Iran. They are training fighters over there (In Iran) and killing up to 200 American soldiers. I think it good that we talk to them but we should be saying to them stop killing American soldiers”.

To that Bob Schieffer asked “So what is it that you propose?”

“Well Bob, I think we should use our military and strike Iran. I believe that we should use our power and take out that base. We must stop Iran from training Hezbollah and others from attacking Israel”

“Do you think we can do this from the air?” Asked Bob Schieffer.

“Well I didn’t know, we will have to leave that decision to the commanders on the ground.” Said Lieberman, his eyes blinking like a madman, the first “tell” they teach you in law enforcement that indicates someone is lying.

And of course, giving a potential opponent that kind of head’s-up in advance just adds a special layer of fucktacularly stupid undercoating to the Joementumobile's already 100% fact-deflecting stealth carapace.

Thank Connecticut!

For forty years we have been afflicted with a political wasting disease that has been growing in menace and lethality right in front of us. Right in our midst.

And for forty years, in the name of High Broderism, the media has called it “Washington”.

They called it “gridlock”.

They called it “partisan sniping”.

They called it “divided government”.

They called it a lack of collegiality.

They have called it by every euphemism imaginable

They have called it by everything except by its True Name.

And because Certain Honorable Men and Women of the media will never, ever, ever state this simple truth, you and I must:
In the Age of Dubya, you can either be a Good American or a Good Republican, but you can no longer be both.


Anonymous said...

Being a proud native of Leatherstocking Country(Central NY for you heathens), Mr. Serling was nothing short of a diety when I was attending SUNY from 1971-1975. Yes, I am that fucking old.

I can attest to his progressive sensibilities, because I had the privilege of being in attendance when he gave the commencement address in 1974, at the end of my junior year. As you may recall, that was at the height of the Watergate scandal, and it had been pretty well established that the President had been a party to numerous felonies.

Serling was already being ravaged by the cancer that would kill him about a year later. A diminutive man, and obviously quite ill, he rose to the occasion and gave a rousing, optomistic stemwinder of a speech. At the end, he dismissed Nixon, Haldeman, Erlichmann et al, as the "Fraternity of the Arrogant", and banished them to the ash heap of history. I get chills up my spine to this day, recalling that moment.

I remember looking around the room at the end, and the younger people were giving him a standing O, and the fat old Republican fucks were glaring around at anyone applauding. It was great.

Mr. Serling would indeed be totally contemptuous of our courtier pundit class. He always was ahead of his time.


BitterHarvest said...

Thank Connecticut!

Nah. Thank the independents who thought a known liar and a stooge of the worst president in history would be a good senator.

Could we get to an impeachment vote and, thus, not have to listen any more to Tony Snowjob?

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Alas, the Democrats don't have enough senators to convict the Chimperor or Darth Cheney. Hence, some Royalist senators would be needed to defect, and the Royalist Party [aka GOP] has displayed, in the past several years, the discipline of [irony of ironies] a Communist party.

Maybe that's not so ironic when one considers that many of the first-generation neoconservatives were disgruntled ex-Trotskyites.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Speaking of the TZ...Mr. Mumy, if you're reading this, would you please send the Royalists to the cornfield? They're bad men! They're VERY bad men! ;)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful commentary DG, and a fitting salute to two great American writers.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Bring It Home, Drifty!

I love the tagline. I confess I saw this one coming about halfway through your Mouse Circus reports.

Mister Roboto said...

as well as some stuff that frankly should be sailed over the horizon and sunk without a trace into the deep, blue sea.

One of those in particular I remember was Burgess Meredith as a washed-up jockey too short in physical stature to be anything else. He spends the whole episode alienating his friends and acquaintances and stamping around his hotel room saying, "I want to be big! I want to be big!" At the end of the episode, some unnamed magic power makes him twelve feet tall. Gee, sure didn't see that ending coming.

Anonymous said...

This sort of wonderful partisan writing might be standard fare in a country with a partisan press (well, except for the wonderful driftglassianness).

Oh wait, I forgot, we do have a partisan press -- it's just that it only speaks for one party -- argh!!!

Anonymous said...

Fuck that fucking Connecticut Wankee!

What limp wristed saber rattling from a consumate coward. Is it a pooey portent of what's to issue frothing forth from the GOP CSO (Combined Sewer Outlet)? Or are the Dems faking a Wargasm?

Reid's followed up with a rebuttal to this nonsense. Something here smacks of 'Good Cop / Bad Cop'

kikass SMCD. thanx DG.

Batocchio said...

Wow, I hadn't known Torie Clarke landed at ABC. Shameful. Broder, Clarke, Richard Cohen and Joe Klein – all GOP operatives and "centrist" apologists – will always blame the status quo but are afraid of actually calling out the culprits, no matter how clear they are. I think Broder and his ilk really haven't grasped that under Rove and his gang the rules of the game have radically changed, and the same ol' conventional "wisdom" just doesn't hold true. It leads to some awfully mushy, inaccurate reporting, where few dare to call bullshit.

(By the way, I like Seven Days in May, although I think it has some flaws, but it's still very interesting. I also have a post called "False Equivalencies" that explores some of underlying dynamic I think you slice into here.)