When the truth finally comes
It's all pretty crazy. From my perspective, there isn't much to Cheney. He's a conniver, a Machiavellian, addicted to power, and a criminal sociopath. But Washington, DC is full to the brim of such people. What is worthy of study, though, is how he manages to stay in power and out of jail.
The secret to Cheney's survival is the interference that is run for him and the rest of the Bush gang in the news media, especially the "Washington press corps." The exposé of Cheney notwithstanding, the "punditocracy" of our nation's capital is, for a synergy of reasons, still treating the Bush criminal organization as if it were a legitimate ruling body. That synergy can be boiled down to one reason above all others: their own power and influence. They support the Bush crime family because their jobs depend on it.
Glenn Greenwald in Salon gave a perfect example of how low the punditocracy has sunk in their desperation to prop Cheney up. Read it here. In Greenwald's Salon blog, he quotes Jonah Goldberg, pundit of some sort, who appeared on "Tucker" as saying of Cheney "...the person who holds the secrets has power. And he is using that for what I would say, or probably what he believes to be certainly good ends. A lot of people disagree on that, but he's trying to do best as he can and he sees holding onto power as a tool to do that."
Greenwald found this remark to be the hologram for the Cheney support mechanism, and by inference the entire Bush regime. These two paragraphs should be read by all who care about the country's future:
That, of course, is the defining mentality of the Authoritarian Mind, captured in its purest essence by Jonah. Our Leaders are Good and want to protect us. Therefore, we must accept -- and even be grateful -- when they prevent us from knowing what they are doing. The less we know, the more powerful our Leaders are. And that is something we accept and celebrate, for our Leaders are Good and we trust that the more powerful they are, the better we all shall be.
No inferences or interpretations are required to describe Jonah's mentality this way. That is precisely -- expressly -- what he said. And though it is rarely expressed in such explicit form, this is the mindset which, more than anything else, has enabled the rampant lawbreaking and unprecedented secrecy of the last six years.
I posted a response to the article with the following remarks, also available here.
Every time someone writes analysis like this we get closer to understanding how we got to where we are. John Dean was the first to reveal the followers of Bush as classic authoritarians, and Glenn Greenwald has now explored the topic. Others will likely study the phenomenon further.
Like it or not, we live in an authoritarian system. The workplace, where we earn our means of subsistence, is almost universally authoritarian. Even CEOs exist in little slots, confined by parameters out of their control, staying in their jobs only as long as they conform to the dictates of corporate imperatives.
This is why chemical companies pollute, power companies pollute, oil companies pollute, tobacco companies promote addiction, pharmaceutical companies promote drug dependency, and agricultural companies promote artificial food production and animal cruelty, to say nothing of poisoning the land. Everyone involved submits to the authoritarian system.
The real question is whether truth-tellers like Glenn Greenwald will have enough impact to inspire change in the system before it destroys itself. The incompetence and criminality of the Bush gang is just a hint of things to come, should we continue on the authoritarian path.
I give Elizabeth Hasselbeck a little more slack than Tucker Carlson or Jonah Goldberg. She doesn't have the means of knowing any better. Network television is an archetype of authoritarian cynicism, and she is likely very beholden and thankful to the "authorities" who put her on a nationwide show. For reasons typical of many people, she identifies the illusion of a strong leader with safety, protection, and stability.
For Carlson and Goldberg, it's a bit more complex, but the essence of their identification with "authority" is pretty obviously vicarious thrill. Like Elizabeth Hasselbeck, they also realize that identification with authority is what gets them on TV.
As long as "smart money" is bet on submission to authority, this will continue. When the corporate state fails, the authoritarian social matrix falls apart. Always lurking under the surface, though, is the opportunistic authoritarian "leader" like Hitler, ready to seize the moment. The next topic to explore is how to prevent this from happening.
A little more needs to be said on this topic. Like Hitler's "Third Reich," the Bush gang's drive for empire is doomed to failure. It is in its last throes, so to speak. Relative to the carnage caused by Hitler's quest for empire, we have gotten off light. Effectively stopped, the only hope for the Bush criminal organization is that the punditocracy can generate fresh hysteria for another war or domestic emergency.
For the pundits, I have two questions: What would you like to have happen? What is the end result you would like to achieve with all your propaganda in support of the Bush regime's various crimes? Is this result for yourselves, or for the betterment of mankind?
They of course have no end result in mind. They are as criminal as Bush and his gang of cutthroats. It's all about participation in power for them, however ill-gotten and evil-intended.
The question of questions, then, is what about the rest of us? Are we so helpless that we let a bunch of ego-obsessed traitors tell us what is real and what is not? Are we just passive spectators of the decline and fall of our short-lived experiment in democracy?
Effectively, the answer seems to be yes. Poll after poll has shown the "American" people to be ill-informed, ignorant of their own history, and easily fooled and manipulated. Close to half the country still believes that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
We have a presidential election next year. Given the state of our political class, of our information industry, and of our "citizenry," it will be a matter of chance that we actually "elect" a competent, responsible, honorable, and effective "leader." The system isn't just corrupt. It's like something out of a science fiction novel.
A better approach might be to assume the decline and fall, and try to maximize the benefit to civilization while minimizing the cost. Assume a venal and corrupt political clsss, a propagandistic journalist class, and an increasingly dull-witted, superficial, and escapist populace. Project the trend into the future, and plan for the end result. We won't see meaningful change until then, so let's not waste our energies.
So rave on Tucker Carlson. Rave on Jonah Goldberg. Rave on Bill O'Reilly. Rave on Rush Limbaugh. Rave on Sean Hannity. Rave on David Broder. Rave on Brit Hume. Rave on Charles Krauthammer. Rave on Fred Barnes. You are serving an end that is no part of your intention - the day of reckoning.
For the few of us that see things differently, we can still live good lives. We can still meditate, still do good works, still try to make things better. Like the yogis, though, we shouldn't get attached to results. When the truth finally comes, we will be ready. That is, if we are still here. It may take a long time.