... who indeed seem to have taken over the asylum.
When we elected Barack Obama on the basis of his reconciling "post partisan" rhetoric, some of us -- i.e. those of us who voted for him -- hoped (there's that word again...) that at the very least some measure of civility would return to our national discourse. Instead we get the birthers, the deathers, and Joefucking Wilson blurting "You lie!" at the President in a joint session to congress.
Now here is New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman putting perhaps too fine a point on it, and underscoring precisely the apprehension that grips many of who are perhaps less willing to say it in print. First, Friedman compares the discursive climate in America today to the situation in Israel that preceded the assassination of Itzhak Rabin in 1995. And then he gets to the heart of the matter: as always, the medium is the message:
The American political system was, as the saying goes, “designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.” But a cocktail of political and technological trends have converged in the last decade that are making it possible for the idiots of all political stripes to overwhelm and paralyze the genius of our system.
Those factors are: the wild excess of money in politics; the gerrymandering of political districts, making them permanently Republican or Democratic and erasing the political middle; a 24/7 cable news cycle that makes all politics a daily battle of tactics that overwhelm strategic thinking; and a blogosphere that at its best enriches our debates, adding new checks on the establishment, and at its worst coarsens our debates to a whole new level, giving a new power to anonymous slanderers to send lies around the world. Finally, on top of it all, we now have a permanent presidential campaign that encourages all partisanship, all the time among our leading politicians.
What the nation suffers might best be described as a very low "signal to noise ratio." There is a great deal of noise. There is very little signal. This could not be more painfully obvious than it is right now in the fractious debate over "health care reform."
One need only watch excerpts from yesterday's brief debate in the Senate Finance Committee over the so-called "public option" to appreciate how twisted the whole imbroglio over health care has become.
The amendments that would have included the public option in the Senate's "reform" bill were defeated, voted against even by Democratic committee members. And so what we are left with is "reform" that is really little more than a large scale government sanction of the existing insurance industry. A big win for big business and their proxies in the Senate.
But now, as Friedman illustrates, the Legions of Idiots are unleashed upon us through an infinite number of (mostly digital) channels. The lunatics have the keys to the asylum while the warden and the guards feed on the output of the prison farms and factories.
And the idiots call it a march to "socialism."
It seems to me that what has happening in this country for the past 20 years (at least) is far less a "socialist" take over than what could better be described as a "fascist" takeover -- in the classic Mussolini definition of fascism as the melding of corporate and government interests.
"Fascism," Mussolini famously said, should more appropriately called 'Corporatism,' because it is the merger of state and corporate power."
Benito would surely recognize what's going on here.
It's the corporations that have taken over our government and subverted the Republic, not any kind of "socialists" who actually think that the government should act in the interests of the people who elect it. Perish the thought.
Where are the wingnuts in this? They carry guns and placards into these town-hall meetings and demand to "take back America."
They should be on our side.
I'm all for taking America back, but for chrissakes let's take it back from the people who stole it from us, not the people who are trying to give it back.