Thursday, October 24, 2013

Invisible Liberals

Michael Tomasky inadvertently reminded me that I haven't slant-drilled my own archives with enough creativity recently.

No Country for Old Moderates

by Michael Tomasky Oct 24, 2013 5:45 AM EDT

It’s not ‘moderates’ vs. ‘conservatives. The two opposing Republican sides, if they really are opposing, are ‘radical’ and ‘conservative.’ And only one side is fighting. The other is rolling over, says Michael Tomasky.

The more I think about this Republican “civil war,” the less it looks like war to me. It often gives the appearance of being war because these Tea Party people march into the arena with a lot of fire, brimstone, and kindred pyrotechnics that suggest conflict. But what, really, in hard policy terms, are these two sides arguing about? Practically nothing. It’s a disagreement chiefly over tactics and intensity. That’s a crucial point, and so much of the media don’t understand it. But I’m here to tell you, whenever you read an article that makes a lot of hay about this “war” and then goes on to describe the Republican factions as “moderate” and “conservative,” turn the page or click away. You are either in the hands of an idiot or someone intentionally misleading you.
Which got my brain tick-tick-ticking on the subject of idiots and liars who intentionally mislead us. And why oh why they continue to be permitted to ply their trade in the public square long after their well-poisoner credentials have been repeatedly and unimpeachable established.

And so here is me, back in the Year of Our Lord 2007...
No Country for Old Memes

Time to be quiet now, Joe. (click pic for larger)

Don’t let anyone kid you, baby; superpowers carry curses. Especially Invisibility -- the particular power with which we are afflicted. (And if you don’t get why it's a misery, you clearly have not read enough Wells. )

We are invisible because the rods and cones of the Great Corpulent Eye of Media are configured to perceive only certain caricatured types. Only Tough Conservatives and Pussy Liberals. Only Serious Journalists and Foul-Mouthed Bloggers. Only Reasonable Centrists and Dirty Fucking Hippies.

And we were not those types.

We are invisible because we wear suits and ties sometimes, and “Impeach!” tee-shirts at other times.

We are invisible because we have children in public school, and get them to and fro in things called "carpools".

Because our hair is cropped or grizzled or lustrous or gone or tied back so the kids can’t try to swing on it like tropical vines.

We are invisible because no headlines track the crippling, everyday tragedy of our divorces. Because we have two jobs. Because we wake to the taste of terror and stomach acid in our mouths and then remember that it’s Sunday and thank God.

Because we are quietly burying our parents.

We are invisible because we are frail and flawed and asymmetrical and oh such usual and plain sinners in every way.

Because sometimes we feel like dying before that Big Meeting, because as meaningless as it may be in the great scheme of things, sometimes --
So much depends upon
A good PowerPoint
And some glazed doughnuts
Beside the white flipchart.
Because we know that tomorrow, the next day, next week, there will be another Big Meeting which may end us. And then another. And another.

Some of us labor invisibly in cubicles dreaming of offices, or in offices dreaming of driving away and never coming back.

We the invisible feel guilty that we weren't there to crush the Nazis or end the Depression, but we’re glad someone did and so God Damned Proud that we can call them Mom and Dad, or Grandma, or Grandpa, or Uncle Jeff, or Aunt Ramona.

We carry a lot, and at some moment nearly every day we feel quite sure that whatever we do is not nearly enough. That out there, somewhere, God is, well, not angry, but terribly disappointed in us. And invisibly we carry on as best we can.

Which we can do without going mad and running screaming into the desert because we have always believed, down deep, that there were certain things -- certain categories of things -- we could rely on.

That certain things would persist, and therefore didn't require our anxious attention.

We believe we can take that corner going a little too fast because the car door is not going to suddenly morph into tissue paper, the seat-belt won’t transform into a rope of sand, and we won’t go spilling into the road at 50 miles an hour.

We believe that, if pressed, we could put together a helluva dinner party on really short notice.

We believe our pets will not kill us in our sleep.

And, God help us, we believe in America.

No, we are not innocent enough to believe in the essential Capraesque nobility of the Public Servant, or ignorant of the fact that American history has been a, long, bloody, murderous struggle to force the nation to simply stand by its very fine words.

Instead it was that -- as with all the other unseen, reliable material realities -- we believed that buried under all of the rot and bile, there really was some rectifying mechanism. Something ineffably American that would save us from the leaping into the abyss.

That is, until 2004.

For us, it was 11/02/04 every bit as much as 09/11/01 that Changed Everything.

For us, 11/02/04 was waking up and finding ourselves deep in the third reel of “Dawn of the Dead”. It was looking out of our kitchen windows, through the limbs of bare trees, and glimpsing an army of blood-hungry corpses dressed in the tatters of civilization staggering through the fields and alleys.

Shambling towards the polls.

And all the pleading, persuading, negotiating and screaming didn’t slow them down one bit.

For us, seeing 62 million of our fellow citizens rise up and choose to re-elect a cabal of proven thugs, liars, traitors and sociopaths who had just spent four years ratfucking the Constitution…Changed Everything.

It was not a “Road to Damascus” moment of pure revelation, because it had been painfully clear for years that the bigots and mouth-breathers and shoutycrackers were recklessly abroad, and in force.

Instead it was the realization that the most basic civic intuitions -- our cultural dams and levees -- designed to keep us from being overrun by the scum of the nation were not merely in trouble, but were hollow and dead.

Instead it was Martin Luther finally visiting the Vatican only to find that the entire organization was bent from ass to miter. The discovery that the princes of the Church -- the men in the Big Red Hats who Luther’s doctrine told him spoke with the authority of God Himself -- were pimps and thieves and perverts, using Fear and Scripture as two barrels of a shotgun to extort money from their followers and feed their lavish and degenerate appetites.

This was the reality that we invisibles had to face on November 2, 2004; that it was not the leadership of the Democratic Party that had failed us...or the entire GOP...or the justice system...or the Media.

It was all of them.

It was that moment of dawning awareness that comes over Hercule Poirot when he realize that everyone on the Orient Express
had stabbed Ratchett.

It was all of them.

So when we see a Joe Klein publicly humiliate himself for the umpteenth time, trying to excuse his flagrant dissembling incompetence and lies with this phrase (now the Official Pundit Battle Cry of the 2008 Olympics):
"I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who’s right."
we are angered and saddened to be sure, but mostly we are just fucking weary.

Of course Joke Line shat all over the pages of Time magazine.

And of course his editor’s reaction was to reflexively defend the shitbag in her employ and to hang up on that uppity blogger who dared to question her right to print lies.

Today, Hoektstra went to National Review to defend his good friend, "liberal pundit" Joe Klein, in what Hoekstra called the "venomous debate [that] has raged between Time columnist Joe Klein and his far-Left critics." As always on the pro-Bush Right, those who believe in the radical instrument called "search warrants" are deemed to be "far leftists." Hoekstra pronounces Klein correct in everything he said, and then confesses that he was "one of Klein's sources for the complex technical and legal points that seem to be in contention."

So, in other words, it was Hoekstra -- one of Washington's most partisan GOP operatives -- who lied to Klein by claiming that the House Democrats' bill requires warrants for every foreign terrorist's call and that the bill thus gives the same rights to foreign Terrorists as American citizens. That's a real surprise. And Klein The Journalist then mindlessly wrote down Hoekstra's smears without bothering to check if they were true, and Time printed them as fact.
Of course Karl Rove went on Charlie Rose and blamed the Congress for forcing po’ po’ Dubya to invade Iraq.

And of course Charlie Rose sat there gumming Fat Karl’s dick instead of working him over with a sock full of nickels.

Of course Scotty McClellan spent his professional career using his mouth as Dubya’s bidet.

And now of course he is spending his retirement trying to cadge a few more bucks off telling the inside story of being a lying whore.

And each of these men – and thousands just like them – will go to their graves convinced they lived respectable lives because absent a conscience, the only metric they understand is power, and fealty to power. So what if they’re letting the devil screw them in the ass? In their universe, copulatory technique is everything, and the Number of the specific Beast they let fuck their country to death counts for nothing at all.

These are all facets of the ugly truth we were forced to face on November 2, 2004: that no one – absolutely no one – is going to save us but ourselves.

Because, as Greenwald masterfully summarizes it here, the establishment media is no longer even bothering to pretend that it didn’t join the enemy and turn their guns on us long ago (emphasis added):
As Eric Alterman documented before most people were pointing it out, the greatest myth in our political culture is the Rush-Limbaugh-generated complaint about the "liberal media." Other than right-wing fanatics like Limbaugh and his followers (including those in the press), who can review this deliberately one-sided, government-worshipping record -- and it is but a tiny fraction, much of it from the "journalists" like Klein assigned to play the "liberal" role -- and maintain that "liberal media" myth with a straight face?

The issue of "why" the media behaves this way is complex and completely separate from demonstrating that they do. There are numerous factors. Some of it is ideological. Much of it is the perception of what is economically rewarding (as Banfield suggested, along with Billmon when analyzing Time's descent into right-wing pablum).

A huge amount of it is due to the herd behavior of our vapid, eager-to-be-liked journalist class, desperate for access to and affection from power -- which, in Washington, means GOP operatives and high government officials. And there are other factors as well, some socioeconomic and some relating to the natural political goals of corporate executives.

But what all of these incidents conclusively demonstrate -- including the latest Time/Klein scandal -- is not merely that our establishment media act as stenographers. If they did, that would be an upgrade. They act as eager, obedient stenographers for one side -- the Government and the GOP power structure inside Washington -- faithfully promoting their views as fact until forced to do otherwise. What other conclusion can be reached from this ample, disgraceful record, perfectly illustrated by Time's extremely commonplace conduct?
So whether the act we take is objectively large or small -- whether its speaking rudely up at a cocktail party with an “Excuse the fuck out of me, but maybe if you hadn’t voted straight Traitor Party last time…” where we would not have done so before, or a lonely blogger at the edge of town posting for his or her small community night after night, or Glen Greenwald using his position at Salon to blow repeated, Klein-sized holes in Time Magazine’s glossy fa├žade -- every time we speak out, we nail another sheaf of refusal and dissent to their shithouse cathedral door.

Because any society where Joke Line isn’t writing ad copy for Juggs Magazine, and where Karl Rove isn’t learning an honest trade on the government dime in federal prison, is a society that is fundamentally broken, and these are the simple, sad truths of our times that we are now all called upon to speak out loud, in any venue that is open to us, in whatever voice we can muster, until things change.

Because this is no country for old memes anymore.

And we can no longer afford to be invisible.


Chucklenuts said...

First, this is an amazing piece of writing that is one that will be timeless and dead on for as long as time persists.

I couldn't help but notice this article, which was linked by a comment-er on another blog. This is a long time republican who has had enough of the party. There is a line in the article...."we were once considered the adults in the room"...that made me spit my amp all over my keyboard. Amazing, no it wasn't the corrupt years of the Reagan/Bush era, no it wasn't 8 years of Bush/Cheney/Rove: terrorist attacks, Iraq war debacle, Medicare part D, lost emails, Jeff Gannon, OUTING A CIA SPY, crashing the world economy...etc. No, it's Ted Cruz and the Tea Party that put this republican over the edge. I guess I should give him some credit.

n1ck said...


What you have to remember about Republicans is that it is all style and no substance.

They stylize themselves as the adults in the room - because they say so.

Fiscal responsibility for government means making sure every single person who wants to work an honest job and make a decent wage/salary can have a job.

Republicans and Conservatives in general have no interest in republican democracy. They are holdovers from the time of feudalism who believe that the wealthy are divinely blessed because they're wealthy, and should therefore have the power and the poors (read everyone besides them) should just shut the fuck up and stop being dirty poors.

What a lot of Republicans see now is that their stylized self-identity is being rubbed away by the poors they've been using for votes and enthusiasm for the last 60+ years.

They know that everyone else knows what they really are, and they really, really don't like that.

Style over substance, all day, every day. Repeal Obamacare 40+ times, for show. Run and say the pledge of allegiance for the cameras. Pass a specific law keeping a brain-dead woman on life support and claim that it is for her dignity to stay brain dead and attached to a feeding tube over the wishes of her husband.