Saturday, April 01, 2006

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock..... Boom? (or, Metal – on – Metal: when friction kills the spin machine)

It occurs to me this morning, this exceptionally fine sunny New England morning, that all the hysteria abroad in the media (the corporate and right-leaning media that actually exists, as opposed to the "liberal media" which is more or less a canard) is useless and ought to be tuned out temporarily.


There are several shoes waiting to drop, mostly onto the floors of courtrooms around the country and in Washington, which will radically alter both the content and noise level of the punditocracy. We should hold off on our vitriol while the fruit ripens, so to speak. Here's why:

1. TOM DeLAY. What will the people have to say if and when Tom DeLay's indictment on Texas state election violation charges becomes either a jury trial or a guilty plea? Hard enough to spin D.A. Ronnie Earle as a Left-wing hack in light of his principled track record of indicting powerful people who abuse their power regardless of party (MORE Democrats than Republicans throughout his tenure, in fact); even harder to convince the world that the most powerful U.S. Representative in decades was a guiltless smear victim if he is actually convicted by a jury of his peers.

2. Jack Abramoff. The eponymous Jack Abramoff scandal, destined to continue in the news for the rest of this Presidency, and grow in drama as indictments, convictions, and more jail time come for Republican crooks.

As many if not most people know by now, the K street project was part of a seamless garment of cynicism and greed beginning with the "principled" ideas of Jack himself and a few others such as Grover Norquist when they were leaders of the college republicans a generation ago. (Remember Grover? The one who wanted to kill the Federal government by drowning it in a bathtub after starving it with tax cuts for the rich?

Now the Right, correctly realizing that the voluminous evidence of greed and corruption within their highest offices cannot be spun away using the usual line of detritus (that the charges are without merit and consist wholly of partisan smears) is clamoring for us to remember that Democrats are corrupt, too.

Some rallying cry for our deeply religious moral betters, huh? "They did it, too!"

Of course, this won't fly, as the very essence of Abramoff and the K Street Project (didn't they have a single out in the eighties?) was the strong-arming of lobbying firms to ONLY hire Republican slime, and to open the floodgates of cronyism and government contracts ONLY to Republicans. Sure, given the chance, some Democrat leaders might have chosen the same ethically-challenged path had they had the opportunity, but you don't arrest people who wish they could be criminals.

The people will begin to care a bit more about this stuff when it becomes more interesting, as it is certain to when heads start to roll... in fact, it's happening already.

3. Valerie Plame. Just because it's out of the headlines, doesn't mean that the case isn't rolling forward. SOMEONE in the White House outed a secret agent in the media, putting other secret agents and their contacts around the world, as well as whole clandestine programs, in mortal peril. The average American understands that "true patriots" don’t do this. The lube that keeps the spin spinning is the public’s credulity; when this runs dry it's metal-on-metal and the spin machine grinds to a halt.

4. Domestic spying. Much of the country, Right and Left, is up in arms about the Bush policy of spying on the international calls and emails of U.S. citizens without the approval of the FISA Court, established in the seventies for the needs of intelligence-gatherers precisely during critical situations arising during times of war when speed is an urgent necessity.

It is going to get much, much hotter for the President and his cadre of toadies and advisors when the American people begin paying attention to what Alberto Gonzalez has already hinted at during his testimony in February: that millions of calls and emails by U.S. citizens both sent AND RECEIVED within the U.S. have been intercepted with blatant disregard for our sacred Constitutionally-protected rights to free speech and against unreasonable searches. Never mind the justification that “when someone in the U.S. is in contact with Al Qaeda we have a right to know.” How are these people going to justify spying on Quakers in Pennsylvania, say, sending emails to peace activists in Wisconsin, for example? A new spin will be needed.

Again: metal-on-metal.

So relax if you can. I can’t but I am trying.

A sure sign that the worm has turned is when each tortured justification for wrongdoing, previously effective as a sleep agent for an exhausted populace and a somnambulant press, leads to further problems with reality, creating a new need for a new tortured justification.

Just like a Muslim detainee, the country gets tired of torture after a while, even if the only victims are Truth, Justice, and the (old) American Way.