Thursday, January 28, 2016

Much Ado About Absolutely Nothing

The biggest jackass in the pack will be missing when the other Republican candidates for president take the stage for another braying contest tonight.

The fools who bother to watch this nonsense should thank their lucky stars for the absence of Donald Trump. I am reminded of the rubber stamp my friend Tom Houston kept in his desk drawer, to use on whatever documents the public relations flacks brought to his attention at the Detroit Free Press.  “WGAS” it said.  (For “Who Gives a Shit?”)  But I digress.

You can bet that, no matter if someone onstage tonight actually utters something meaningful to the national interest, all the media attention will be focused on the blowhard billionaire who wasn’t there.

As someone who knew good journalism and practiced it, I lament how low the craft has fallen.  Day after day, front pages, TV screens and airwaves are filled to overflowing with bilge about The Donald.  Bernie Sanders’s substantive plans to depower Wall Street, provide health care to everyone who needs it and take the first steps toward restoration of democracy in the United States go unreported, or treated as minor quirks of an inconsequential old socialist.

Election campaigns always have been silly season for American media.  Even when good journalists did good reporting on candidates for public office, they were easily distracted by silly fluff.  So what if Adlai Stevenson had a hole in his friggin’ shoe sole?  So what if Richard Nixon had “five o’clock shadow?” So what if Dennis Kucinich wasn’t very tall?  So what if Jimmy Carter thought he saw a swimming rabbit?  So what if . . . . No wonder someone made a fortune in America selling a game called “Trivial Pursuit.”

We have become a trivial nation.  The only qualification to vote is that you be old enough (or, in many states, white enough).  Voters aren’t expected to know anything about the vital issues.  In fact, the more ignorant they are, the better the pols like it.  Never mind if they can find Afghanistan on a map.  They by god know if a candidate wears a little American flag in his lapel!

When Barry Goldwater suffered his landslide defeat in the 1964 presidential election, the Koch-Scaife fascist billionaires’ club got together and formulated a plan to assure that it would never happen again to the conservative cause.  It was a brilliant plan whose key was pouring unimagined amounts of money into the political process to buy control of the country, which would assure them of a twenty-fold or more return on their enormous investment.  Their plan was at once grassroots, nationwide and global.  It has succeeded so grandly that, in all probability, the right-wing stranglehold on Amerika can never be broken.

Two of the most effective elements of the plan were to (a) take control of local school boards and (b) create think tanks to brainwash voters.  As a result, we have schools in which boys and girls learn that St. Ronnie Reagan single-handedly won the Cold War, but do not learn how as far back a Woodrow Wilson, American presidents lied us into war by creating things like the Creel Commission.  Scaife and Koch money created think tanks like American Heritage and the Cato Institute to dupe the media and the gullible public into supporting measures that are antithetical to their own best interests. Now we are trapped in a policy of endless war costing trillions while cutting back on essential social services in the name of austerity.

We are a nation of blind, silly fools.  And so we natter and prattle about Donald Trump boycotting Fox’s so-called debate.

What we ought to do is employ a giant rubber stamp: WGAS.

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