Monday, October 02, 2006

Choose Your Own Reaction

So, let's see...We gots us the shunting of the findings by the National Intelligence Estimate (succinctly, the "War on Terror" is actually making the US more susceptible to terrorist attacks; again, frickin' duh); we gots us Mark "What Do We Tell The Children [About LewinskiGate]?" Foley exposed in activity more sinister than "Jesus Juice" (link via); and, to round out this nonsense to just three examples, we gots us the elimination of Habeas Corpus, a move recently passed by the Legislative Arm so that the Chimp In Charge can use his estimable judgement to decide who is and isn't an enemy of the state at whim. I think I'll let the lovely Molly Ivins address this horrible decision for y'all.

Meanwhile, the Dems are behaving, predictably enough, like Jerry Lewis in The Bellboy. Twelve years after the Republicans started implementing their manifesto upon the UStian population, and the Dems are still reeling like punch drunk boxers in the 15th round. Too much stimuli for the coma-like DNC. (That's three, count 'em, three unnecessary similes, just for you, dear reader.)

There's also no one at the wheel making any kind of executive decisions as to how to approach these events. It seems the Dems have two preset responses 1) don't do anything, or 2) make like you're taking a step in some direction, then back away and don't do anything.

Let's face it, the right has had its business together since Bush I took office, and has learned from its mistakes rather well. So well that, even in the face of increasing amounts of hubristic detritus, the right still has a 50-50 shot of remaining in power after this coming November.

Faced with this reality, the left-wing commentariat and think-tanks aren't offering anything compelling to counteract the shiny objects spun out by the right.

As JJ puts it, the left "has lost the ability to create a compelling narrative that the nation could get behind."* In other words "we have to study the issue and create a multi-layered approach to the problems in Iraq" isn't as convincing as "we're going to eliminate terror." This line of thought is based on writings by media observers like Douglas Rushkoff and the like. The idea of media virus as political platfrom is a pretty damn useful one.

Hell, often you don't need your own political platform. Karl Rove has proven endlessly the value of using a media virus as a means to rattle your opponent. Swift Boat, anyone?

As that example shows, the thing is that by the time you create your own narrative in response to something like this, it's too late. They've moved on to something else. The ideal solution, would be to use their narrative to mutate it into your own, seeing as you can't just avoid their narrative...either way, you're engaging a tar-baby.

This is just too long term for my liking, especially in these immediate times. The Dems/left should definitely be thinking along these line for the big race in '08...They won't, but they should be. (Instead they're courting the likes of Barack Obama, who is just too young right now, as much as I admire his approach. Not that I wouldn't vote for him, though I imagine a fate not unlike John Edwards'...Too far away, too freaking far away right now.)

Another school of thought is the most alarming to me: Do nothing. Curb your desire to cry out against injustice, merely note it and let it go. Do your best to prevent anything unholy (like the whole Habeas Corpus thing, and we saw how well that worked). The piper will have to be payed eventually; let it run its course, in this way, we could just slide in when the time comes.

The Contrarian over at, sums up this line of thinking rather well. Taking it even further, there's yet another school of thought that suggests that the Dems shouldn't try to take over the Legislative arm this use this time to regroup and refocus for '08.

The problem, as I see it, is that this does nothing to address the issues facing us right now. Legislature has just given the CIC broad and unlimited power in determining who is an enemy of the state and what happens to that person. I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you that this is no walk in the park. Is it too paranoid to think that now that this has been established, it is merely a hop, skip and a jump away from deciding that giving a massage to an Arab Muslim means that you are providing comfort and succor to the enemy?

Are we supposed to just let something like this just happen? Without any rancor? When do we get to ask "Sir, have you no shame?"

History has shown us that without an outcry, things will continue to get worse. How long was the Red Scare a blight on this country? How long were Civil Rights a necessity? How long was the Vietnam Sham allowed to go on?

There comes a point where "give 'em enough rope and they'll hang themselves" just becomes a lazy approach to a problem. I'd say we're long past that point now.

When you hear something similar to "just sit back and watch it happen; we'll make our changes when we win," I want you to remember their unspoken corollary: "That is, if we win."

I recently praised Bill Clinton for showing us how to comport ourselves when faced with the lies that the right has been disseminating since September 2001. I now want to remind you of something just as momentous (if proven frail in the time since it took place.)

Can you tell me that the first time you heard the phrase "George W. Bush doesn't like black people," it didn't feel like it had the ring of truth around it? It's a simplistic statement, and the right equivocated it to death (often by bringing up Condi "Signifying Monkey" Rice)...However, wasn't it fun to see the right rattled in its cage? Wasn't it satisfying to smell the fear, instead of smugness, coming from the right?

The right only seems strong, and they have more weaknesses that need to be plumbed.

Just saying.

*I paraphrase.


At 8:37 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Fair paraphrase, BTW.

Great point on "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Very emperor-has-no-clothes moment. It is a simple declaritive, which too many Dem speakers seem averse to.

We elitist intellectuals don't like to box ourselves in with declaritives. I mean, not me, but, y'know, some of them.

I think the most effective media viruses have been simple declarations with complex implications. I fear we are mired in complex declarations with simple and often absent implications.

But, good, now you've got me thinking about what the new viruses should be. Maybe actually put my advertising degree to work, eh? Headlines are veddy veddy viral.

At 10:09 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

And now, thinking about it more and reading about Bush's attacks against Dems that voted against his recent bill, I'm wondering how you do it from within. When you have as little control over which bills get voted on as Dems do, you are almost always in reaction mode.

This is why it is so hrad for Senators to get elected prez.

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous flamingbanjo said...

Well, one similarity between the Swift Boat-ers and Kanye's "doesn't care about black people" comment is both memes were introduced by people who weren't running for anything. You'll notice that Bush/Cheney didn't publicly embrace the Swift-Boaters -- if they did they'd have to back up what was being said and be willing to look mean and unfair. That's one advantage of using proxies to do the political hack-jobs: It doesn't matter if people hate the proxies.

Similarly, the only people who have the luxury of shooting from the hip like Kanye did are people who don't have to win an election.

It's a sad commentary when speaking the truth becomes a "viral marketing campaign" but there it is.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

It's enough to make one with for a parliamentary democracy, huh?

At 6:15 AM, Blogger keda said...

oh yes, i used to love our parliamentary democracy... no really i did.

until they all became the same bloody party just with varying degrees of slickness/sickness.

now instead of having one guy to hate (rightly) and 2 camps to complain about, we just have a whole gang of halfwitted, money grabbing, arselicking, ineffectual arswipes spouting the same rubbish but wearing different coloured lapel flowers/ties. and still nothing gets done.

much better all round. pah.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger Prego said...

I don't think Bush likes beige people like us either... unless we're Cuban-American.

Anyway, as much as I don't like people whipping up a sh*tstorm, it is rather frustrating that the right has become much more adept at seizing opportunity than the left. The Left seems to be much more content in idly watching the right shoot itself on the foot. Time to kick out a goddamned cructh once in a while - and when your opponent is writhing on the floor, beat him repeatedly with it.

Considering the amount of sh*t that has transpired over the past six or so years, it's amazing that the best the Dems could do to up its chances is that cuckolded carpetbaggin' ex-first lady and/or a small handful of effete careerists.

The left is going to have a better rallying cry than "we don't suck as bad, and we like black people."


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