Business as Usual

In a guest editorial at the Brad Blog, former FBI translator and national insecurity whistle blower Sibel Edmonds argues that the underground economy of favors and threats that oil the duopoly machine at the highest levels of government is "rotten to the core." Edmonds links the Jane Harman wiretapping scandal to her own case, drawing attention to the means by which duopolist politicians "escape the consequences of accountability," namely, blackmail, political and otherwise, with the implicit support of the mainstream media which looks the other way, or rather, as Peggy Noonan recently put it, just walks on by.

But perhaps Edmonds does not go far enough here. Must we not also admit, despite some amount of public outrage, that large portions of the US populace also implicitly support this process? We could likely even take it a step further, showing that many among the public explicitly support the greasy machinations of the duopoly complex, and write it off as business as usual. To paraphrase Baudrillard in Simulacra and Simulations: the scandal is that there is no scandal.


AnarchyJack said...

Blackmail is, of course, nothing new to Washington. How else was a man, purported to be a homosexual during a period when such people were despised in general by our culture, able to become the most powerful bureaucrat in U.S. History, as J. Edgar Hoover was? It certainly wasn't because he was effective: the FBI's battle with the Mafia turned to the FBI's advantage after his death in 1972.

The excuses are infinite and the silence is deafening. In trying Nazi war criminals, the United States made a pledge to the world: no one can be exempted for criminal prosecutions for following orders. Not one of the panelists on "This Week With George Stephanopolous" even questioned that the CIA torturers should be let off. But this is how the media becomes an extension of the government itself: both conservative and liberal pundits debate whether or not the memos should have been released while at the same time normalizing the act of torture.

As Noam Chomsky has said, "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." For the press, of all institutions, to suggest that this or any other breech of public trust should be swept under the rug, or in any way minimized,is itself a breech of the public trust and shows a uniformity that is dangerously close to that of state-run media.

So no, Edmonds doesn't go far enough in her critique. "Rotten at its Core" isn't just the back-scratching and/or blackmailing Congress or even just the mainstream media, but an American culture trained to welcome exclusion, isolation and media spin into our homes each night.

Duopoly within a duopoly, perhaps.

I am suddenly reminded of H.G. Welles The Time Machine, where the docile Eloi are kept alive by the subterranean machinations of the cannibal Morlocks. In the 1960 film version, the air raid sirens were used to summon the Eloi into the Sphynx, where they went obediently to their fate.

Have we become the same type of domestic herd species, obediently going to our fate as lambs to the slaughter?

d. eris said...

Ha. Good comment Jack. I was thinking of that Chomsky quote while writing up the post as well. In so far as the media acts as the stenographic tool of the duopoly, they are effectively no different from a state-controlled media, and are in fact worse, since they maintain the appearance of a free press.

Samuel Wilson said...

The majority of the media buy into a Bipolarchic paradigm according to which the idea of torture trials is suspect because the trials would be "partisan" in nature. Republicans have spent this decade complaining pre-emptively against the "criminalization of politics," and the Bipolarchy helps them get away with it. The pervasiveness of partisanship makes objectivity seem impossible, since everyone is presumed to be for one party or against it. This mentality actually enables a "criminalization of politics" in a different sense of the phrase, if the presumption of partisan bias immunizes partisan regimes from prosecution in the kinds of cases under discussion. The way around this obstacle is to stop presuming that the Republican and Democratic parties have some fundamental shared right to exist that is somehow threatened when leaders are held to account

d. eris said...

In addition, the bipartisan nature of the apparent consensus against 'partisan prosecutions' reveals a fear among Democrats and Republicans that both parties would be found to be complicit in the actions under consideration, and undermine the two-party system as such.