the best of times

Let’s review the week’s news, shall we?

On the one hand, we learn that the president was amply warned about Al Qaeda’s planned attack. He did nothing. As a result, 3,000 people died.

On the other hand, a band of poor young black men in Miami were cozened by a secret policemen into planning an attack on the Sears building in Chicago. They only lacked equipment, weapons, a plan, any connection to al Qaeda, and, most likely, the foggiest idea of where Chicago is, not to speak of the Sears building. Testimony from neighbors has shown conclusively that they wore things on their heads like turbans.

Two stories. Which story does the media go with?

There is a psychological problem in preserving the level of contempt the governing class, the press, and the culture that is perfectly content with the two, deserves. As my commentor, Mr. Nyp, has pointed out, as this and other information scrolls before our eyes for years and years, there is a contempt burn out. There only so many levels of disgust one can go through. There is such a thing as spectator paralysis. It is like the situation of the boy in Clockwork Orange – eyes forced open with little wire brackets, secured in a seat so that we can’t move, the movie unrolls before us. And such are the truths of Pavlovian conditioning that after a time, they can remove the wire clamps and the seat restraints, and they can do whatever the hell they want to do. Foist another Clinton or Bush upon us. Raise another ignorant crop of privileged white men and women to wink and blink at us on tv, babbling on, swollen mindless egos knowing nothing and filling the gaping intellectual hole by repeating endless versions of childhood taunts, heads filled with straw. The kind of people who consider themselves the crown of the meritocracy – and who are. Meritocracy, American version, circa 2006. We even see stories that clearly indicate that the next terrorist action in the U.S. will likely be the result of a botched sting operation -- and nobody questions it. LI is laughing so hard that blood is bubbling out of his mouth.

The angels weep. Better I were distract/So should my thought be sever’d from my griefs/And woes by wrong imagination lose/The knowledge of themselves – as Gloucester says in Lear, prophetically envisioning the cable news networks of the future.

And then there is this from the Washington Post:

“Jon Stewart, Enemy of Democracy?
By Richard Morin
Friday, June 23, 2006

This is not funny: Jon Stewart and his hit Comedy Central cable show may be poisoning democracy.

Two political scientists found that young people who watch Stewart's faux news program, "The Daily Show," develop cynical views about politics and politicians that could lead them to just say no to voting.”
Morin, who in the past has shown himself entirely clueless about sieving social science studies, reports this story with an earnestness that could earn him a place on the show itself. I have to give him credit for producing the best grafs of the week, however:

“To test for a "Daily Effect," Baumgartner and Morris showed video clips of coverage of the 2004 presidential candidates to one group of college students and campaign coverage from "The CBS Evening News" to another group. Then they measured the students' attitudes toward politics, President Bush and the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.).

The results showed that the participants rated both candidates more negatively after watching Stewart's program. Participants also expressed less trust in the electoral system and more cynical views of the news media, according to the researchers' article, in the latest issue of American Politics Research.”


new york pervert said…

In case you didn't see the story of this case.

Despite saturation and Clockwork-Orange-ism Syndrome, it is still possible that matinee idol Dick Cheney will lead the machine into its own mission creep conundrums. I just learned what 'mission creep' means a few minutes ago, but it sounds as though its applicable to almost anything.

I remember you said you didn't think Bush ought to be impeached, but rather censured. But I think we should support impeaching him, because this will start some implosive narratives, even though when you get close to the impeachment vote you tend to bomb Iraq, as even Bill Clinton will affirm (although this impeachment would probably change the 'q' to an 'n.' Things are just so neat.) Don't y'all really think that, even though 'Hillary is hell' that she'd shift gears like always once in office and would let Bill run a whole lot of things--because, as we all know, Every Day is Not Gay Pride Day. I don't usually go to it, except once in a while I like the homo majorettes' baton twirling--David Byrne could have used these in 'true Stories.' Also, there's a lady from the Toys in Babeland store that goes as a vagina and always moans 'everybody just keeps bumping my pussy!' I'd going to go out and wander around, since the heat wave has passed, but I bet it will be hard to find her. I saw Rollerina, famous frump-dress drag on roller skates at the Easter Parade this year: I was so glad she wasn't dead; and, on top of that, she had started doing Park Avenue Socialite look, sort of Dina Merrill. I'm sure I'm the only person who knew what she was trying to exude!
roger said…
Mr. nyp, you are making me feel very provincial. Here in Austin, we have just one famous transsexual, a street (non)quean who has run for mayor and been featured in a few Austiny ads (the Austin business community, which is trying to destroy the environment here one swimming hole at a time, gets a perverse kick out of promoting the Keep Austin Weird meme -- it has been adopted as a semi-official slogan.) Otherwise, we just can't compete with you big city types. Although I don't know -- this is Texas, it is hot, and there is always sex in the atmosphere in Austin. One of the things I like about this town -- the faint suggestion of fucking on the breeze.
roger said…
PS -- that last phrase should be fucking AND drinking on the breeze. Austin isn't quite like that James Wood scene in the Onion field.
new york pervert said…
I understand that there may be a sentimental need for this inclusion. However, I an very grateful that you didn't remember it at first, even though there was not much 'fucking on the breeze' in the excerpts of the Pride Day that I saw. I thought if porno got still more mainstream, you could do a Chandler/Thompson novel titled something like 'That Faint Suggestion of Fucking on the Breeze' or maybe 'in the Breeze.' Or made less unwieldy 'A Whiff of Fucking in the Texas Breeze,' etc. Oh God, that movie was the most depressing thing I've nearly ever seen.

It occurred to me that Mr. Scruggs would appreciate my idea that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld rename Gay Pride Day as 'Be Nice to Straight People Day.' I also think there should be 'White History Month' to be celebrated during the winter on PBS.

I did almost exactly what I told Mr. Scruggs I was going to do: Buy mangoes on 14th Street. however, I was supposed to buy them on 2 sticks for $2 each from the Spanish ladies at Our Lady of Guadaloupe Catholic Church, they've got these stalls set up on Sundays. Unfortunately, the Mafia supermarket had 3 Mexican mangoes for $1, so I sold my sold and have already garnished my Orange Cake with one mango and ate one ripe mango and have one in a savings account now. Capitalism is indeed very cruel, but conditions at the Mafia supermarket are squalid enough that I can adhere to my conscience next time if I just want a refreshing treat to suck on the street.
new unicorn pervert said…
I forgot that, outside of the gay areas, I heard behind this girl saying to her boyfried 'I just get so exhausted from healing people.' Then she went on about her website. New Age filth like this will never talk about the economy or politics except to tell you you chose it. She has not healed either her website or shit.
new unicorn york pervert said…
'I wonder whether Americans will ever become fed up with the loathsome politicking, the fear-mongering, the dissembling and the gruesome incompetence of this crowd.'

That's Bob Herbert in tomorrow's NYT. He says it as well as anybody, so if it's repeated often enough, is that the first step that will make clear what the second material step would be?
roger said…
Ah, but we aren't THAT much of a big city, here in Austin. Yes, we have smaller gay pride parades, but have them none the less. We have Queer Waves on the radio (which is mostly music, with a funny DJ) and an unfortunately most tedious lesbian talk show, built around empowerment (get me out of here!)(although, in honesty, I'm less of a hard ass about the new agish/therapeutic b.s. than you are, Mr. NYP. As long as I don't have to listen to it. But it must be doing its listeners some good, no?) We have this and we have that, but we aren't (and never claimed to be) NYC.

There's a song by, I think, Ray Wiley Hubbard that all true Texans loathe -- but pseuds, such as myself, like to sing along with, waving our shiner bocks in the air. And here's some of the verses:

"Now Texas has gotten a bad reputation,
Because of what happened in Dallas and Waco
And our corporations well they are corrupt
And the politicians are swindlers and loco
But when it comes to music my friend
I believe these words are as true as St. John the Revelator's
Our Mr. Vaughan was the best that there ever was
And no band was cooler than the 13th Floor Elevators.

So screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
We're from Texas, screw you!"
new york unicorn pervert said…
'and an unfortunately most tedious lesbian talk show, built around empowerment (get me out of here!)(although, in honesty, I'm less of a hard ass about the new agish/therapeutic b.s. than you are, Mr. NYP. As long as I don't have to listen to it. But it must be doing its listeners some good, no?)'

Roger, no! Even a tedious Lesbian empowerment show could have some real life to it, because they know that you have to be negative if you want to get anything tangible. The New Age personnel are ALL money-grubbers who pretend that you will get all sorts of money if you pay them for their seminars and terrible weekends where you learn not to blame anyone and that you 'create your own reality.' You do affirmations in the mirror 'I now work in a place where everyone appreciates me and open my heart to new experiences.' That California loon Louise Hay even has a month of affirmations for loving each part of your body (as though there were only 30), but nobody ever likes anything but the 'I love my beautiful rectum' one. This is all derived from plastic Buddhism, practised by many as an alternative to their hick religions, which are not even worse, in fact.

The only compensation is that these people that actually think they are 'healing people' is that they believe it themselves--which is all they deserve when they are just extortionists and snake oilists. This keeps them in the 'sub-intellectual' category, and they always wonder why, when they get reach, that the media still ignores them. That fool from down your way, Marianne Williamson, is by far the worse: She still gives sermons in the so-called 'Course in Miracles' churches and used to have workshops for AIDS patients in which she taught them how to make friends with their virus. Of course, she should have been giving them financial assistance, but instead they had to pay her for bullshit. Oprah had her on the show. Her reaction was very telling: 1) She loved it and bought it, hook, line and sinker (as usual, this is the first step and as far as the majority of persons go); and 2) she promptly forgot about it, because she immediately had other guests on the show who negated everything that Mr. Williamson said, and as we all know, 'business is business.'

Ms. Williamson married Liz Taylor and Larry Fortenski, and that was her day in the sun. However, she experienced a sharp decline in large cash donations even before they got a divorce. I can nevertheless forgive Liz Taylor almost anything she does--she is so dizzy she doesn't even know what a great person she is.

Speaking of Texas radio, the NYT has story on the fine classical music station of Kilgore closing in favour of a Christian pop station. This is incredibly miserable news. Letters from Van Cliburn, in which 'travesty' seems to be confused with 'tragedy' did not help--which hardly comes as any surprise. His mama made so much money on the stock market he could have revivified the whole thing himself if he'd really wanted to, but he's now in dotty period.
new york pervert said…
get reach=get rich. I'm just getting so aural.