Very nice things are happening which (alas) cut into my posting time for the moment. Briefly (heh), though....
isomeme and I were pondering a while back why on earth the current administration has anything near 50% support (with only 30% registered Republicans) as the election approaches. I mean, given that they control all three branches of government (making it tough to blame the Dems), and everything they've turned their hand to has been a disaster -- and that the public opposes most of their actual policies by a wide margin -- even with the demonstrated biases of current polling, where's any support coming from? David Brock's answer, in his new book The Republican Noise Machine: "It's the media, stupid." Only about a third of the way through it, I'm inclined to agree, and for thoroughly unexpected reasons, one of which I'll highlight here.
I assume we all realize that SRT ("state-run television," the news business's insider name for Fox "News") is the official outlet of the current administration (though if you're uncertain, consider investing about ten smackers (at Amazon) in Robert Greenwald's excellent film Outfoxed, which -- relying on former Fox staffers and the actual daily talking-points memos management gave them to guide Fox's "coverage" -- decisively settles that question*). And I imagine we're also aware of the vast rightwing "spin machine" of less-than-honorable think tanks and the like. But Brock (the gay former rightwing operative initially famous for his attack book against Anita Hill; his confessional Blinded by the Right is another must-read title) makes a point I had completely missed.
Back in the Eighties, the media's "fairness doctrine" was ended by the Reagan administration: TV and such no longer had to provide "equal time," or strive for "objectivity" in the public interest. Brock points out that what the Right struggled for in the Eighties and Nineties was emphatically not "objectivity"; it was (by design) "balance"...which they defined, basically, as an opportunity for one of their own to rebut any and all assertions, however obviously true they might be**. Given that the standard of mainstream journalism was already to strive for balance, in practice this new standard meant that every time you offer an attempt at objective presentation of facts uncomfortable to the right, you must also offer a far-right spin artist the chance to deny it. The Right, Brock suggests, has made a sustained attempt to turn all matters of fact into matters of opinion...and after all, everyone's entitled to an opinion. They don't even need to win an argument; they need only muddy it, and have (as Brock repeatedly demonstrates, having done it himself on their behalf) no scruples whatever about doing so.
This analysis explains to me for the first time why this administration is given to lying so incessantly, and so insistently, even in the face of authoritative refutation. When the (Rumsfeld-controlled) Navy insists that John Kerry did earn all those medals, when (Bush's) Iraq arms inspector David Kay admits there were no WMD's there after the UN got through destroying them back in the Nineties, when the (bipartisan) 9/11 Commission (appointed, albeit reluctantly, by Bush) unanimously insists that there were no connections between Saddam Hussein and either 9/11, or indeed external terrorism of any sort...the administration can keep insisting that they're all mistaken, irrespective of the facts. As a matter of policy, this administration has decided to treat objective reality as only a matter of opinion, with even knowingly false opinions every bit as valid as true ones. And why not? Until the debacle in Iraq, the Right kept getting away, year after year, with doing just that (anyone wanna read a report on the safety of tobacco?, or the non-existence of global climate change?, or the benefits of privatizing energy or Social Security, or...?).
Reality itself, of course, is the ultimate "no-spin zone," and will, sooner or later, defeat them; the only remaining question is how much damage will be done in the meantime. For my part, I'd like to send 'em all home, and stop the bleeding right now.
Finally, be advised that these are absolutely not your Reagan (much less Eisenhower) Republicans we're talking about, any more: they're largely the John Birch, segregationist, religious fanatic alliance we used to think of as the fringe radical right. Want proof? Besides Brock's books, check out Mark Crispin Miller's Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order, published by the old mainstream house W.W. Norton. The "Reconstructionist Christian" plan to put astrologers to death, for example, caught my attention...as did their belief that only true Christians were actually entitled to vote: hence the lack of remorse over, say, stealing elections, e.g. using touchscreen voting machines -- machines designed and manufactured by companies set up by (I kid you not!) "Reconstructionist Christians."***
All titles highly recommended (as, btw, is the enjoyable Sky Captain movie, though my review will have to wait). Now I gotta get back to work. :)
93 93/93 -- AJ
* I suspect Fox's dominance may lessen over time, particularly if Bush manages to stay in office. After all, Fox got popular, during its Clinton-attack years, for seeming adversarial; its current wild-eyed government cheerleader role may prove harder to sustain (especially if the predictable additional wars, military draft, environmental disasters, slumping job and healthcare conditions, etc., provide more enlightenment as we proceed). Dumb strategy, Fox, over time, IMO: once Pravda and Izvestia stopped being believed, the Kremlin was in serious trouble, and it may prove no different here.
** Example: if you cut taxes (say, on corporations and the super-rich), you deprive government of revenue, and unless you also cut spending you'll get huge deficits. Well through the Eighties we heard rightist think-tankers insist that cutting taxes would actually increase government revenues. They didn't believe it, and it quickly proved false, but so what?
*** Their voting machines, btw, are the only machines they sell which don't feature receipts of any kind. Hard to know how to beat that; many folks are voting absentee, so that at least there will be a paper trail. Hence, I assume, the sudden professed alarm that absentee voting is "subject to fraud." Well, at least it's checkable, f'rgodssakes, which the Christian Rightists' touchscreen machines -- proven "faulty" in a number of elections already -- are absolutely not.