THIS is “What Jesus Would Do”…
A characteristic that these exchanges have in common is cruelty. Cruelty is a close cousin to injustice, yet it’s different. Injustice and its opposite, justice… perhaps the most commonly used standards for judging the health of the body politic… are political criteria par excellence, and apply above all to systems and their institutions. Cruelty and its opposites, kindness, compassion, and decency, are more personal. They are apolitical qualities that nevertheless have political consequences. A country’s sense of decency stands outside and above its politics, checking and setting limits on abuses. An unjust society must reform its laws and institutions. A cruel society must reform itself.
There’ve been many signs recently that the United States has been travelling down an ever steeper path of cruelty. It’s hard to say why such a thing’s occurring, but it seems to have to do with a steadily growing faith in force as the solution to almost any problem, whether at home or abroad. Enthusiasm for killing’s an unmistakable symptom of cruelty. It also appeared after the killing of Osama bin Laden, which touched off raucous celebrations around the country. It’s one thing to believe in the unfortunate necessity of killing someone, another to revel in it. This is especially disturbing when it isn’t only government officials, but ordinary people, who engage in the effusions. …
You can’t quantify the cruelty of a society any more than you can measure its reserves of decency. Nor can either be legislated, although legislation can manifest both. For all that, there can be no doubt that basic decisions are silently made in the hearts and minds of millions that are prior to any laws, and probably more important. If they go one way, a movement of hundreds of thousands suddenly arises, seemingly out of nowhere, to protest a wrongful execution. When they go the other way, you wake up one day to hear, with a chill running down your spine, a room full of people cheering because several hundred of their fellow citizens have been killed.
28 September 2011
THIS is the REAL cost of the “War on Terror”… not many of the soldiers come from McMansions or the country club, do they?
Did the Tea Party become, in that famous Sherlock Holmes expression, “the dog that didn’t bark?” For the most part, yes. So, what was all that barking that woke America up in the middle of the night? It was the right-wing media, and its echoes, that you heard. When historians look back on the surge and decline of the Tea Party movement in America, and they will, I believe the focus will be how something that was real… anger and fear among a segment of the middle class that’s been decimated by the decline of the US economy… was hijacked by a band of high-def hucksters, starting with media stars and their bosses seeking ratings, attention, and cash, not necessarily in that order. The behind-the-scene billionaires eager to save their oligarchy, and the craven politicians that they own, piled on later. …
One reason that the Tea Party is fading is that Fox is no longer promoting it aggressively, especially not since Beck departed at the start of this summer. More importantly, the Tea Party wouldn’t have burst onto the scene in the first place without Ailes’ Rupert Murdoch-owned network playing such a large part in creating it. Remember, the concept of the Tea Party itself came not from the masses but from a TV rant… not on Fox, surprisingly, but by CNBC’s Rick Santelli surrounded by affluent traders on the floor of the Chicago Financial Exchange. To be sure, there was genuine public rage about the 2008 economic crisis and the bailout of the big banks, but the right-wing media… which have remarkable influence in the top-down, narrowcasted “Dittohead” world of American conservatives… steered anger away from Wall Street before 20 January 2009, and toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after that date. …
Even at its peak in 2009-10, the Tea Party movement had the political juice to do one thing, which was turn out an energised army of Fox-watching zombies to win low-turnout primaries, as they did in Alaska with Joe Miller, in Nevada with Sharron Angle, and most famously in Delaware with Christine O’Donnell. None of these extremists was able to win the general election, even in a throw-the-bums-out GOP tidal wave election. So, suddenly, it’s 2011, and Roger Ailes and Fox News decide to pull a “course correction”. Just like that, the Tea Party’s barely anywhere to be found.
However, here’s the funny… OK, actually not that funny… thing. The chaos unleashed by Fox and friends on the American political system during those two years of the Obama backlash is going to be with us for a long, long time. Some of that is in the extremists like Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Utah’s Mike Lee who did zigzag through the electoral maze of 2010 and we’re now stuck with for the next six years, at least. Mainly, it’s in the fear that forces of nature like radio’s Limbaugh and the brief surge of the Tea Party has created in the mainstream GOP, its members so afraid now of losing a primary like Delaware’s Mike Castle did to O’Donnell at this time last year. That smell of fear moved once-compromise-minded Republicans like Arizona’s John McCain to the extreme right and scuttled what in 2008 had been bright hopes that Washington would take action on climate change and real immigration reform. It’s what inspired so many GOPers to sign a no-tax-increase-ever pledge that will hamper America’s efforts to dig from the current hole, even as the very real problem of unemployment is ignored. Now, Roger Ailes comes to essentially tell us that the whole thing was a politically motivated ratings gimmick. Yet, the Beltway pundits and the politicians still can’t realise or admit that the Tea Party was, at its brief peak, just a 26 percent tail wagging the American dog … or that the dog stopped barking months ago.
28 September 2011