Posts Tagged ‘George Orwell’

Doublethink = doubleplusgood?

March 15, 2013

The St. Patrick’s Day weekend of 2013 is the perfect time for a pundit with Irish heritage to score a scoop from the grounds of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory.  After spotting some white smoke coming from the chimney for the ACTF conference center, we learned that they have determined that JEB Bush is the front runner for becoming the 2016 Republican Party’s Presidential nominee. 


Folks who believe that the Bush Dynasty brand had been irrevocably damaged by the Dubya term in the White House haven’t been paying attention to the fact that President Obama has retroactively approved George W. Bush’s war crimes, profligate spending, torture and executions without a trail and therefore has granted Dubya and the Republican Party full unconditional absolution which, in turn, provides a level playing field for JEB to make an unfettered run for his party’s nomination.


The stealth magnanimous gesture by President Obama has rendered the 2016 election to the tabla rosa level as far as the list of issues is concerned and that will give the Republicans the option (which they always covet greatly) of framing the debate by virtue of the fact that the lame duck incumbent will be ignored by the media as far as picking the election issues is concerned. 


If the media fawn over the Republican frontrunner for the next three and a half years, and he also happens to be a member of the Bush family, there should not be any residual bad karma attached to the name by the time the unhackable electronic voting machines produce the new President via unverifiable results.  (Does using the phrases “Bush family” and “unhackable electronic voting machines” and the words karma and unverifiable in the same sentence offend conservatives?  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)


Isn’t it so convenient that the election of the new Pope is diverting attention away from the rapidly approaching debt ceiling deadline?  Next week, won’t March Madness be the next diversion?


America’s voters are being conditioned to rely on one Democrat’s quote balanced by a Republican’s sound byte as qualifying as a legitimate example of the fulfillment of the free press’ mission of providing the facts that the voters will need to make an informed choice at the polls.


The skeptics who think that citizen journalists will get access to the inner workings of a particular politician’s strategic planning may not be aware of the possibility of the existence in the mainstream media of some good old fashioned horse trading in the guise of providing scoops and “exclusive” interviews as payment for unquestioningly participating in a bucket brigade style propaganda machine.


If (subjunctive mood) media stars are obliged to provide glowing reports on a politicians work in return for some puny scoops, how can a citizen journalist possibly get access to the politicians? 


Are any of he media stars confronting Republicans and asking if they are participating in a de facto sit down strike? 


Are any of Britain’s top star journalists asking questions about the Queen’s health?  Are they hacking her e-mails? 


Will any media star ask Pope Frank about his program for handling the priests caught with their hand in the cookie jar (so to speak as it were).


Will interviews with starving families that end in crying provide anything other than propaganda value? 


If the XL Pipeline is a ticking toxic time bomb, will the media play their cheerleader role if polls show that voters don’t believe the hogwash propaganda about jobs and energy independence? 


If the voters of California are indifferent, at best, to the need for a bullet train, why are politicians, coping with austerity budgets, continuing to authorize funds for this boondoggle?  Didn’t St. Ronald Reagan explain that forty years ago when the governor with White House aspirations said:  “If you’ve seen one redwood tree; you’ve seen them all.”


Will any of journalism’s super stars have the chutzpah to ask question about the fact that tax payers’ money will have to be used to cover the shortfall of funds necessary for the rich boys to hold the boating races on San Francisco Bay later this year?


Do any journalists ask any of the members of the Supreme Court of the United States to elaborate on their partisan decisions?  Do any of the media stars covering SCOTUS do anything but rewrite news releases from the Courts’ spokesman?


What happened when Bradley Manning went to the New York Times and the Washington Post and offered them evidence that the USA was cutting corners with regard to being “the good guys” team in both the Invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan?


If media stars believe that “ya got to go along to get along,” and live that lifestyle, how will citizen journalists manage to outmaneuver the pros who have immediate access to all the news makers?


The possibility of fun, fame, and fortune are given as the motivating factors for inspiring altruistic efforts for providing a viable alternative to the work of media stars.  The Internets stars are the people who have a gigantic amount of publicity thanks to their association with major media companies.  Newcomers who “don’t play ball” will be trashed as conspiracy theory lunatics if they dare to offer some new points of view.  So scratch fame off the list.  The media that get unquestioned obedience from their stars aren’t going to hire a rookie and hope that they aren’t “high maintenance employees,” so scratch that off the list.  That leaves only fun.


Anyone who is not of Irish heritage will never understand how or why a columnist would get any fun out of naming JEB Bush the Republican frontrunner in March of 2013.  Media stars won’t “second the motion” because they are expected to build suspense and expectations for the contest that will be decided by the unverifiable results produced by “unhackable” electronic voting machines. 


If, for example, if some ads on some buses in San Francisco spawn a lively debate about freedom of speech over the meaning of the word “jihad,” and if a columnist is the first to bring that dispute to his audience’s attention, then the Managing Editor (ME) might be disposed to be tolerant of other more frivolous items.


In an era when the staffs at various media have been reduced greatly because of austerity budgets, a citizen columnist might (just might mind you) manage to be the first to bring this to the attention of readers outside the Bay Area. 


If the San Francisco street car company starts in March to use a trolly car from Brighton England that has a top that folds away like a convertible car’s top does, at a time when the rest of the USA is struggling with an excess of snow, that might catch the attention of readers who are tired of shoveling the snow off their sidewalks, and it just might catch the attention of the assignment editors for other websites (such as Jalopnik or the Huffington Post?), but the bottom line is that at best it will provide a columnist with an example of a unique attraction in a city that is rife with items to amuse and entertain tourists.


If the CBS Evening News staff wants to drop a subtle hint that Global Warming might be a valid concept, they could run some video of the tourists on that street car enjoying summer weather in March but if Fox doesn’t want to acknowledge that the “scientists” are on to something, they will just ignore the feature story potential for the vehicle that Brits might call a drophead trolley car.


Radio talk show host Randi Rhodes thought that Pope Frank looks like a dead ringer for her mentor Neil Rogers.  We concur.  On Thursday March 14, 2013, she played a bleep filled explanation by George Carlin of the current political stalemate.


Is there an audience for unique insights?  Why did two conservative Bay Area talk show hosts find the preemptive prison sentence for a thought crime by the cannibal cop caused them some horripulation (goose bumps) but the Invasion of Iraq has not yet caused them any retroactive regrets?  Is Double think regarding crimethink, an example of an oxymoron? 


Conservative media stars can’t admit that Dubya’s belligerent foreign policy was questionable and the liberal talk show folks can’t criticize the cannibal cop’s conviction because they don’t want to sound like they are sympathetic to the efforts of a Hannibal Lector wannabe.  So neither group will be permitted to see any basis for a comparison and it will be up to a rogue columnist to point out the similarities.  Dubya did not commit crimethink; the cop did.


The Invasion of Iraq was OK because Dubya thought they had WMD’s, but the cannibal cop gets convicted of a crime he obviously intended to commit and that wasn’t OK.  Did any pundit call the cannibal cop’s offense an example of “crimethink”? 


George Orwell, in “1984,” wrote:  “Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.”


Now the disk jockey will play John Wayne singing “Wild Colonial Boy” (from the “Quiet Man”), Mick Jagger singing “Wild Colonial Boy” (from “Ned Kelley”), the Pogue’s (what do they have to do with St. Patrick’s Day?) album “Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash,” and memorial playings of the first “Yes” album featuring Peter Banks on guitar and Iron Maiden’s album “The Number of the Beast” featuring Clive Burr on drums.  We have to go buy some more Girl Scout cookies.  Have a “Pogue Mahone” type week.


“(I Don’t Know What Goes Here, Maybe Just: A Cigarette Butt)”

April 1, 2010

It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking the call for column writing time.  We can’t write a column endorsing oil drilling because that would sound absurd in the context of previous columns.  We can’t write a column critical of the Obama decision to sanction oil drilling because that would infuriate the Obama backers who read this website. 

We are assiduously working our way through Yevgeny Zamyatin’s novel <em>We</em>, which George Orwell credited as the inspiration for writing <em>1984</em>, but we haven’t gotten to the last word on the last page, so even though we’ve got the good quotes (such as this column’s headline) ready to go, we’ll have to postpone our review of that novel for a few more days so that we’ll know how it ends.

Is it too early to write the April 12 column marking the sinking of the Titanic? 

Obviously it is way too early to write our annual National Columnists’ Day column.  We have to write it a bit early and post it before the actual day arrives, but this is just a tad too early to tout the April 18 event which marks the anniversary of the day that Ernie Pyle was killed in combat.

Even though we have already had a ride in the Goodyear blimp, we haven’t heard back from the folks at <a href =>Airship Ventures</a> so we’ll have to postpone a blimp vs. Zeppelin grudge match comparison column for later.

Just about 10 years ago, we contacted Delusions of Adequacy and started pumping out columns for them.  Was it prejudicial to be covering the Internets coverage of the 2000 Republican national convention and be skeptical of the “frontrunner”?  After all weren’t the country’s leading journalists using the “wait and see what happens” attitude?  Wasn’t it premature to use the “Ducky Lucky” alarmist point of view before the fellow had even taken the oath of office?

We didn’t sound too patriotic when we sarcastically suggested that if those darn aluminum tubes were so dangerous, they should have had serial numbers on them and the sale of those items should have been regulated more strictly.

When the Bush Death Panel decreed that Americans should buy the materials to make an airtight panic room as a precaution against a chemical attack, we dashed off a letter to the editor at the New York Times and pointed out that if it was airtight, folks would suffocate and if it wasn’t airtight, the folks inside would have no protection whatsoever from the chemicals.  The day the letter appeared in the print edition of that newspaper, Donald Rumsfeld held a news conference to point out the danger of asphyxiation and stressed that the “buy plastic sheeting and duct tape” warning had been metaphorical.

We switched from Delusions of Adequacy, which wanted to focus exclusively on music, over to Just Above Sunset online magazine and mixed feature columns with ones that asked rhetorical questions about the apparent contradiction of a super secretive administration announcing plans for a Presidential Library.  Other political commentators saw the absurdity of the Bush public stance and rightly (or leftly?) ridiculed it.

Eventually we transition away from the L. A. based site and posted regularly on Smirking Chimp pointing out some flaws in the Bush Administration’s attempt to assuage any potential for dissent.

When the news stories about Howard Dean’s alleged “breakdown” appeared, we tried to point out the basic journalism lesson that when a statement such as “he suffered a mental breakdown” is used in a news story, unless the write is a well known psychologists, the reporter has to use attribution or be guilty of editorializing.  If, at the time, some well known authority on mental health had come out and said categorically that Dean had come unglued, then columns about what the expert had said were merited.  If Karl Rove called in some journalistic IOU’s and planted unattributed stories questioning the frontrunner’s (up to that point) mental health, then honest journalists would have noted that the assessment was coming from an opposition spokesman (Republican’s don’t have spokespersons). 

Didn’t the Republicans have preparations for a Kerry Candidacy, such as article of incorporation for the Swiftboat Veterans groups, in place just waiting for the signal to the bullpen?  Didn’t they want to avoid having to improvise a whole new game plan to run against Howard Dean?  So wasn’t it natural for them to work behind the scenes to grease the skids to favor Kerry?  Journalists seemed satisfied to miss the elephant in the room.  There is an old bit of journalism advice that goes:  “If you mother says she loves you; check it out before you print it.”  Abracadabra the journalists were qualified to say that Howard Dean had suffered a mental breakdown.  Hogwash!  They were kissing Rove’s ass.

Any efforts to assert that President Bush may have committed war crimes needed some authoritative substantiation.  When we talked to a woman who had worked for the Australian government collecting, during World War II, evidence for any subsequent war crimes trials and who had also attended the trial of Tojo in Tokyo, we asked about her expert opinion.  When we popped the question:  “Is George W. Bush a war criminal?” she snapped out an instantaneous response:  “Of course he is!”  When we wrote a column about her, we reported her opinion not our own.

Here it is April of 2010 and we need a topic for a column. 

It sure looks like Iran is rapidly approaching their goal of manufacturing some nuclear weapons, but unless this columnist gets to see them in person, that topic is off limits because it would sound like a conspiracy theory without some eyewitness substantiation.

At Cal Berkeley ASUC Senate Bill 118 is too hot to touch. 

There’s been a good amount of rain in Berkeley this spring, but there’s been much more in Rhode Island and it has been getting intense news coverage.

Dang, I wish those folks at Airship Ventures would respond to my e-mail soon.  What is there to write about while waiting? 

Eureka!  We’ll write a column suggesting that some radio outlet in the San Francisco area should revive <a href =>Jimmy Kay’s Sunday Night Classics</a> show with the music of the  Country Music Hall of Fame caliber. 

Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote in <em>We</em> (Penguin paperback page 36):  “The only means to rid man of crime is to rid him of freedom.”

Now, the disk jockey will play:  “Okie from Muskogee,” “On the Road Again,” and “You don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’.”  We gotta go send an e-mail to Jimmy Kay and station KBWF (hey he could phone his program in, couldn’t he?).  Have a “the road goes on forever; the party never ends” type week.