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Mad Max Meets Bad Bill

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Betrayal is a common theme in movie dramas, one which stokes a primal fear that we could find ourselves alone with no one to trust at a time of peril. While there is a thrill in the vicarious experience, we just don’t want to experience betrayal in our real lives.

Unfortunately, just this week some of us have experienced several betrayals. For the religious radicals who want their beliefs to influence everything in our society, the US Supreme Court betrayed them in deciding that the networks are not responsible for the occasional random cuss word or “wardrobe malfunction” and should not be held liable. Why? Because it violates the free speech of the networks! But could we expect that this is where the corporatist SCOTUS would draw the final line in the sand? Why wouldn’t they accede to a corporate media claim that airing uncensored Mad Mel Gibson’s profanity-laced tirades at the mother of his youngest daughter would increase their ratings and thus their profitability? Some fear fhis will happen. SCOTUS recently declared that money is protected speech, after all, and what speaks louder than the bottom line? Who cares if women feel betrayed by Gibson in particular and by men in general? From watching the coverage on TV, it’s clear that there is universal female outrage aimed at Gibson. He and OJ Simpson should have a lot to talk about should they ever meet.

Just to touch on Mad Mel himself for a moment, his attack on Oksana Grigorieva represents betrayal on at least two levels. The first is personal. While I stipulate that there are exceptions to what I’m about to present, I sincerely doubt that most women would willingly carry a man’s fetus to term and appear to be prepared to live with the child’s father only for money. Women aren’t emotionally made up to do this easily, and living off a man’s bank account doesn’t require procreation. Ms. Grigorieva probably had some tender feelings for Gibson until he went all wacko and blamed her for his misfortunes. What a good Republican! What a good Christian!

But the second level of betrayal, for Gibson, will prove to be more damaging to the secret society of his industry than to himself. Those who rose to Gibson’s defense — most notably Whoopie Goldberg and “Dr” Michael Savage — have clearly demonstrated that Hollywood doesn’t hold itself to the same standards that we as a society do. It appears that Hollywood doesn’t really care what one does as long as one is both “talented” and successful at the box office. This is why there was cheering when Switzerland refused to extradite Roman Polanski. He gets away with a crime which would have put most men into prison over the entire length of Polanski’s European Vacation “exile” with plenty of time remaining on the game clock to die in a cell. But because Polanski never has been known to lose the public mask which hides the monster, all most of us could do is shake our heads sadly that money and privilege have again thwarted justice. Plato would be proud!

Gibson’s unpardonably violent, racist, and sexist monster’s diatribe is no longer unnoticed by a public normally too busy watching terpsichoreans physically damaging themselves on So You Think You Can Dance?. It’s far too controversial for the “news” not to present Gibson repeatedly — as they did Howard Dean — until that dead horse no longer draws viewers. The public response to this intimate betrayal of Oksana Grigorieva is so adverse that Hollywood has had to do the rare thing: expel one of their own from their lofty Olympus no matter how “talented” and “successful” he might be. They fear that we Philistines will brand them all as we now brand Gibson, and will stop spending our last unemployment dollar on their “art” because we are so disgusted with them all.

So why does Hollywood not strangle this abusive coverage like the GOP (with corporate media assistance) did regarding the suspicious death investigations of Margie Schoedinger and Lori Klausutis? Like the Democrats were alleged to have done with Whitewater and the suspicious death of Vince Foster? Like the Democrats actually tried to do regarding Monica Lewinsky? It’s because Hollywood no longer has the economic power to do so. The physical costs of making a movie far outweigh the outrageous sums spent on the “talent” which makes and stars in it. The industry is beholden to the broadcast and cable empires for the economic stimulus to continue to live and “work” in their decaying Fantasyland, one in which the lack of morality alleged by religious conservatives is only occasionally revealed to the public to be true. Hollywood high-born aren’t about to anger the media gods which shower movie manna from 30 Rock by insisting that their honor be protected. They might get their teeth broken like Mad Mel did to Oksana! Have you priced new dental caps and promotional head shots lately?

But Hollywood isn’t the only Fantasyland being betrayed this week. The Greater American version is still suffering from the continuing revelations that Barack Obama isn’t who he presented himself to be. While BP continues to screw the people of the Gulf out of cleanup pay and damage claims rightly due, and prevents cleanup workers from protecting themselves against the pollution which is detroying their livelihoods (and which CNN reports could cause most to die within the next twenty years as did those who worked on the Exxon Valdez disaster), Obama blithely maintains an Olympian distance from the calamities he was elected to correct.

Obama allowed unemployment payments to expire for hundreds of thousands (soon to be millions). Obama did little-to-nothing about the rapacious banks which continue to plunder the real estate markets and which will soon increase the number of foreclosures beyond what has already been experienced. Obama has done little but offer bland lip service about the thousands of jobs his stimulus programs have saved while ignoring the millions of jobs which left the nation and will never return. Obama quietly aids the attempts to reduce or eliminate Social Security. And so on. And Obama thinks we will continue to vote for his platform when even his press monkey Gibbs can’t tell the lie anymore? When his own party has become reluctant to follow his failed leadership? Who’s the more foolish: The presidential fool, or the fool who continues to follow him? No wonder the Republicans are partying this weekend! (Not that they should!)

As bad as these Oval Office double-deals are, the worst just emerged this week. After wasting a whole year pushing a bad bill through Congress -one which works more to protect health insurance profits at the expense of those covered than anything else- Obama decides to name the insurance industry executive who had so much to do with the wording contained in that sick bill to become the administrator charged with implementing it.

What gives, Barry? Was there no mere mortal available to implement the American Medical Inquisition? What makes you think that after surrendering the hen house to the tender nocturnal mercies of the wolves that you will have any eggs for your morning breakfast? Do you really think that the American people will be well-served by someone whose interests are clearly for the other guy? Are you TRYING to sabotage your party’s prospects in November, and to return power to the other guys who are more openly corporatist than you are?

It’s clear from the many recent comments I’ve read from across the political spectrum that We, the People are getting tired of being flim-flammed. Try as they might (and they are trying mightily!), the political spin can’t keep up with the facts. Neither party has much credibility, and the American voter is increasingly reluctant to hold the nose. Never have I seen so much desire expressed across the blogosphere for other electoral options than those offered by the two-faced Corporatist-Monopoly Party.

But the Beltway isn’t about to allow the loss of their decaying Fantasyland, one in which the lack of morality is constantly revealed to the public to be true. There is still time to bombard weak minds with lies and distortions intended to derail thinking and to herd the sheep back into the fold.

As the Democrats have nothing to run on (nothing that means anything positive to Main Street, that is), the Republicans will become the default choice of too many. Control of the Congress will be returned to those who openly betray us instead of pretending to care about us.

I guess we prefer dirty honesty to happy-ever-after fairy tales spread by faux and silver-tongued Prince Charmings. That means we had best be saving up to get our teeth fixed when the inevitable punch comes landing on our lips and breaking our incisors, because our new Insurance Czar Liz Fowler will alter the interpretation of the enforcement rules to block us from retribution for applying for payment from our insurance company to repair the damage. It wouldn’t help the economy if we didn’t pay out of our own pockets, right Barry?

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About pessimist

  • I’m all for righteous indignation, but mixing fiction and fact doesn’t clarify anything for anyone.

    Obama allowed unemployment benefits to expire? No, GOP senators filibustered it, again. And the president sharply took them to task about it in his weekly radio/internet address this morning. This impasse will likely finally be broken next week, when the new temporary senator from West Virginia takes office.

    And sliming Liz Fowler because she worked for two years at Wellpoint is gross caricature. It would be more accurate to call her a lifetime health-policy wonk, most of the time in the Senate as a staffer. She’s not a businessperson; she holds a doctorate in public health from Johns Hopkins [and a law degree].

    You might also give the President some credit for recess-appointing Dr. Donald Berwick to head up Medicare and Medicaid, which have been without a full-time chief for four years. Dr. Berwick is a brilliant, innovative thinker on healthcare issues. And his nomination was, of course, being held hostage by the usual Republican assholes in the Senate.

    Realist’s articles are often very entertaining and provocative. They’d be better if he resisted the urge to caricature, exaggerate, distort, and report half-truths in the patented manner of propagandists with whom he disagrees [e.g. Dave Nalle].