Midnight Madness: These Things Piss Me Off

by alphamonkey on May 29, 2007 · 20 comments

in Uncategorized

To be frank, I’m no fan of David Brooks, mostly because he posits himself as some kind of mouth piece for Middle America, but his version of the middle is a kind of insane Norman Rockwell portrait of America that has never really existed.  But I particularly dislike Brooks today due to his nonsensical review of Al Gore’s book, ‘The Assault on Reason’ in his column on Tuesday (which sadly you must be a TimesSelect member to read).  Bad enough he titles the piece ‘The Vulcan Utopia’, which tries to re-invigorate the myth of Gore as a passionless automaton (a myth that anyone who has ever seen Gore speak, either live or via An Inconvenient Truth or his recent press appearances, knows to be utterly and completely false), but he starts off with this lovely example of his own illiteracy:

If you’re going to read Al Gore’s book, you’re going to have to steel yourself for a parade of sentences like the following:

“The remedy for what ails our democracy is not simply better education (as important as that is) or civic education (as important as that can be), but the re-establishment of a genuine democratic discourse in which individuals can participate in a meaningful way — a conversation of democracy in which meritorious ideas and opinions from individuals do, in fact, evoke a meaningful response.”

Yes, David.  Heaven forbid we be forced, forced I say to digest sentences that are concise, illuminating, and coherent.  I mean, that’s just crazy talk.  Brooks then goes on to highlight Gore’s apparent wackiness by pointing out that

In Gore’s view, TV immobilizes the reasoning centers in the brain and stimulates the primitive, instinctive parts. TV creates a “visceral vividness” that is not “modulated by logic, reason and reflective thought.”

Sorry David, but that’s not a view Gore came up with all by his robotic lonesome.  That honor lies with gents like Marshall McLuhan

It seems odd to me that anyone could argue that level of discourse in America is anything resembling civil or logical.  Furthermore, it seems even stranger that a country founded by some exceptionally brilliant men could possess such a frighteningly prolific case of anti-intellectualism that the mere proposal of returning logic and reason to the arena of public discussion warrants ridicule and insult.

Speaking of ‘public discussion’, there’s been much hub-bub in the news about Hugo Chavez’s shutting down Venezuela’s most popular private television network.  It’s certainly apparent that Chavez has embarked on a very dangerous path with this move, as replacing private media with state-run apparatus is no small step on the slippery slope to dictatorship.  What strikes me, however, is the lack of reporting regarding said networks involvement in the 2002 coup attempt on Chavez, or its history of being ”notorious for lies, manipulation and anti-Chavez propaganda“.  Not that such behavior abdicates Chavez from his reprehensible political maneuvering here, but it is telling that the incident is being potrayed so squarely as a mad grab for power, and not a leader wisely (or not) punishing a broadcaster that openly called for armed revolt and overthrow of a democratically elected government. 

And finally, something that’s pissed me off for a while now (and brought up yesterday by reader Gorlog) is a little something called the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive which was put into effect by President Bush on May 9th.  This directive serves to codify the continuation of government in the case of catastrophic emergency.  Not a bad thing, I admit, but we, uh, already had something in place for that (otherwise known as the Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998, which this directive explicitly revokes).  What specifically pisses me off about this is that, in the hands of an administration that has already displayed a naked lust for executive power and privilege that would make Nixon blush, this directive can easily (and lawfully) be interpreted as a document which consolidates the entire federal government into the hands of the president in the case of emergency (which is defined as ‘any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions’ ) .

Kinda makes you wonder what Bush thinks is heading this way, don’t it?  And no, I’m not indulging in any kind of mad conspiracy thinking.  I’m genuinely curious as to why a perfectly serviceable plan for the continuance of government had to be scrapped for one that puts an unprecedented amount of power into the hands of one man. 

These things really do piss me off.  That farm cult thing is starting to look better and better. 

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  • http://www.quietrebellion.com Poet

    What does Bush think is coming this way? The end of the world, remember?

  • http://robotsloveus.com sparky

    I can’t believe people still listen to David Brooks. I’m surprised (but I probably shouldn’t be) that he still has a column and makes so many appearances on Newshour. I hear nothing but ridicule for his opinions from both sides of the political spectrum.

  • http://www.myspace.com/dragonlews elkciN

    *grabs popcorn, plays R.E.M. CD*

    Seriously, our world is just so incredibly fucked up. People making 100 million dollars a year living in the same country as people making 12,000 a year. Celebrity worship, television taking over our ‘reality’, and our goverment is corrupt and over-powered. We, the people, need to rise up against these things. Everyone complains, everyone can see that something is wrong, but no one wants to do anything about it. Our goverment is out of control, and we’re the only ones who can reign it in.

    Small interest groups are overshadowed by the large corporations, who throw billions into our corrupt system, to ensure that their businesses still thrive. Why don’t we see more reliance on solar and wind energy? Who killed the electric car? These issues should be addressed, and apparently well made documentaries are not enough.

    Why are Corporate CEOs allowed to take home billions each year, while keeping the cost to the consumers high, and the wages of their employees low? Why is this allowed? In the paraphrased words of Mr. V, our country rejected comunism, because it didn’t feel that people should be forced to share their wealth. So no one does, because they don’t have to. Well, short of an ‘ideal’ communism (which would never work, given the selfishness that is bred in today’s society) it is up to us to demand more of those who are hoarding this wealth.

    Our government is more secretive and elite than at any time in our history. A government that is supposed to be for the people and by the people, yet completely rejects the people. And this is allowed? Sure, I know that it’s not ignorance, most people are aware that our government is not working. But what needs to happen before we decide to take a stand? How far do we need to dip into Orwellian society, before we make the effort to right what is wrong?

    The system needs to be broken, before the world is. Yeah, I know, blah blah, revolution, blah blah, but something NEEDS to be done, before it’s too late. If it isn’t already. The imbalance of power and wealth cannot be sustained as it is now, not if we want our race to survive.

  • Gorlog

    Perhaps we need to recreate SDS.SDS

  • http://www.dadsbigplan.com .alphamonkey.

    I’m down with that.

  • http://www.myspace.com/dragonlews elkciN

    Do we get badges?

  • http://www.dadsbigplan.com .alphamonkey.

    I’ll settle for a puffy sparkle sticker that says ‘Superstar’.

  • Gorlog

    There are times when I feel like Alphamonkey has reached into my brain and digested my own thoughts and stated them in a much more concise way.  A rare talent.  It is also nice to know there are others who share my oppinions.

  • rmurdoch

    Oh please, the president can issue all the executive directives he wants.  That doesnt make them constitutional. 

    One of the Executive branches jobs is to provide leadership in situations that require immediate action.  Remember the governement’s botched response to Katrina?  It was a beaurocratic nightmare and revealed the flaws in the current systems in place.  Tell me that changes weren’t in order.  Are we all going to hop on the “its associated with Bush so its EVIL” bandwagon?  BUSH IS WEARING A BLUE TIE SO BLUE IS THE COLOR OF EVIL! 

    Bush has done his damage.  Its been a painful seven years but its ending soon.  He’s severely injured the Republican party, which is currently realizing that it’s sold out to a bunch of socially conservative nutjobs who want to ban everything from stem cell research to saying naughy words.  The Republican coalition is very very weak.  STRIKE NOW!  We have an opportunity for massive change with the upcoming presidential elections.  If you want change, get involved.  Remember that the whole GDub nightmare was begun by very very narrow elections.

    And by the way, we’re not going to solve any problems by government enforced communism.  Give the government the huge powers required to enforce social and economic equality… hhmmmm, I wonder where that will lead?

  • http://www.dadsbigplan.com .alphamonkey.

    Well, the last time it happened it was called ‘The New Deal’, and that didn’t turn out so bad.

  • rmurdoch

    The New Deal was a response to an economic depression the likes of which has never been observed since.  You’re comparing the Great Depression, when we suddenly had 25% of our population unemployed and our securities markets completely bottomed out and our banks bankrupt, to current social and economic disparities?

    Thats like saying that our recent warmongering in Iraq is a good course of action since WWII was a just war with a desirable outcome. 

    I’m not saying that there aren’t ways to nudge our economy in more desireable directions, I’m just saying that blatant decree and government mandate isn’t a wise way.  Speaking of Chavez… that dude is riding the tide of the empoverished masses directly into total dictatorship… and that’s my point.

  • http://www.dadsbigplan.com .alphamonkey.

    You’re reading far more into my statement than I intended.  I’m not comparing the Great Depression with our current economic situation.  I merely pointed out that government forays into leveling the playing field and attempting some semblance of economic balance are not, in and of themselves, a one-way ticket to communism (a economic theory I find just as fanciful and insane as unfettered free market capitalism).

    I think nickle’s point is that we’ve moved so far in one direction regarding the flow of wealth that soon nothing short of a true economic collapse will result.  I think the wage disparity in this country is insultingly huge, and I fully agree that we have got to abandon this idea that profit is the highest goal attainable.

  • http://www.myspace.com/dragonlews elkciN

    That’s the ticket. I threw Communism out there just to make a point. Really I’m just wishing that our Government wouldn’t HAVE to step in, and that people could, and I know this is a crazy idea, willingly share with their fellow human beings. Unfortunately, in this day and age, money is the ultimate power, and everyone has to look out for number one. ideally, everyone would look out for others, and in turn be sure that there are thousands looking out for them. But hey, the whole ‘me, me, me’ thing is working out alright, right?

    Our culture is being driven by greed, and helmed by a corrupt administration. Billions starve all over the world, while we give away millions on pointless reality shows and gameshows, and toss billions of dollars into the entertainment sector. How is any of that OK?

    It’s hard to make a difference by ‘getting involved’ in the current system, when that system has already proven itself to be flawed beyond repair.

  • BADD

    OK here goes.

    First off let me tell you some back story on me.

    1) I dislike Al Gore.  He comes off fake to me (not robotic, that is childish to say).  Every word I here from him sounds almost sarcastic.  Perhaps I just don’t get his way of speaking. 

    2) I am not convinced the environment is being significantly hurt by our actions.  We do indeed change the environment significantly, however from my perspective, there is no conclusive proof that we are actually hurting the planet itself.  A bunch of scientists agreeing to something is not proof.  I don’t care how many of them “believe” it.

    Now the reason I say these things? (things that I have argued with AM about in the past)

    I 100% agree with AM on this matter.  Bush is a puppet, and if we have a republican victory in 08, we will be getting the same shit from his predecessor.  This is only the begining, but we are starting down the road to fascism.  Hitler started in bars.  People thought he was a crack pot at first.  No one thought to stop him.

    Everything aside, conservation is a good idea.  Reducing pollution is a fantastic idea.  Smaller government is a good idea.  Regulating business to be more fair is a good idea.

    I just wish we didn’t have to scare the shit out of people to get them to work towards these things.

    Lastly.  I will be voting democrat this year.  I don’t care if it is Hillary Clinton, I will vote for her. 

    Here’s hoping it’s Obama.

  • KGsharkk
  • KGsharkk

    Sorry. bad Link. Here it is. (I hope)

  • BADD

    You wouldn’t happen to be trying to post this link?


  • BADD

    That is Fing weird.

  • BADD

    Got it now!

    Hangman Poem.

  • KGsharkk

    How bout we all just make a new country. It will be named,

    “The United States of People Who Are Pissed Off About How America is Run and the State of Its Economy” Ha. This should please many a people.

    //Though still not sure if the name is long enough.

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