The Fifth Estate
by Bruce Patterson, July 12, 2017
“The revolution in communications, produced by American ingenuity and promoted by business, makes the press, the radio and other opinion-forming instruments far more important in the political process than ever before. Both the press and the radio are, after all, ‘Big Business,’ and even when they possess the highest integrity, they are the prisoners of their own beliefs.”
—Monopoly Investigation, 76th US Congress, 1939
Boy am I tired of watching millionaire “broadcast journalists” and Primetime “media personalities” on the Breaking News Channels talking in clichés like the one about them getting paid to “speak truth to power.” Sounds awfully phony coming out the mouths of people who refuse to speak the truth to their audiences. These guys and gals are the highly trained and educated “objective observers” who, face-to-face with mountains of solid evidence, assume nothing and refuse to draw any conclusions that might displease their bosses and the Great Big Bosses in the Sky Boxes: the Holy Stockholders as organic mobile Calculators driven by shrunken hearts, gelded imaginations, insatiable appetites, flow charts, quarterly reports, fiscal years, Artificial Intelligence and Nanotechnology, their collective ethical backbone as Investors and Prognosticators about as long as the glint on a BB.
Since uttering fact-based conclusions on the air about any of the crimes of the filthy rich and tyrannical could slow down, or even reverse, their climb up the Income Ladder, engaging in self-censorship makes their Personal Success, if not guaranteed, then at least conceivable. Religiously practicing self-censorship is a winning strategy since in a racket where if ever in your career you draw the attention of the Censors sequestered inside the Castle Keep in the Corp HQ, you’ll be sorry.
“Before you answer, sir, I remind you that you are under oath.” The Pink Elephant nods solemnly.
“The indisputable facts are these: the creature looks, waddles and quacks like a duck. In your professional judgement, is it a duck?”
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment at this time, least not to the likes of you and your tiny, ultra-liberal, flag-burning TV audience.”
“But can’t you concede that it quite possibly could be a duck—is, in fact, a real good bet that it is a duck?”
“I’m sorry, sir. I respectfully refuse to rush to judgement. Sometimes a duck isn’t a duck.”
Since everybody’s talking about the New Reality, how come nobody ever defines it? Officially known inside the White House’s Wall St. War Room as Total Conglomerated Commercial Corporatism as Ultra-Efficient Ecosystem (TCCCUEE) what it means is that now the news is the commercials. In the Pentagon’s Madison Avenue HQ of the National Security Service, they call it “planting a worm in your ear.” Listen to the worm long enough and it eats away your brain. So now as news we get soap opera suspense, risqué romance, melodrama, action, adventure, personal inspiration, morality plays, Lucky Numbers, God as Santa Claus, cops as Angels of Mercy, celebrities as demigods and Product Placement as Soma capsules for the young and old, the isolated, regimented, dreamy and delusional.
Yet, in the real world, whether pounding bricks or cultivating the grassroots, all over the country people (mostly the young who are, as always, taking the worst beatings) are resisting the Ancient Regime’s New Reality by all legal means available. Legal means that, thanks to our still just-barely-breathing Bill of Rights, remain fairly substantial. The young’s resistance to the New Reality doesn’t make them Radical Leftists (read: “Anti-American”), or even subversives much less revolutionaries. It makes them the same patriotic Americans we are except a bunch more of it. For it’s one thing to Pledge Allegiance to the goal of a Republic and the realization of our Democratic Ideals, and a whole other thing to actively defend them against their enemies. It’s like the difference between a wartime draft-dodger who got caught and a willing enlistee. If you were forced to choose one to share your foxhole with, which would it be?
So if today’s conglomerated media market really is functioning as a Free Press dedicated to Truth, Justice and the American Way, how come the most patriotic among us have been reduced in significance to some old-timey, wobbly-wheeled traveling carnival’s Freak Show? Compared to the Primetime 3-Ring Circus of unending attention paid to a “Populist President” even more deranged than his hairdo and his masked, weirded-out enablers, coaches and paymasters, the patriots are out of sight and out of mind…
The New Reality means the banishment of Free Thought. It means news without truth, a world loaded invisible mercenary wars and erased natural places, history without lessons, cover-ups without penalty and humans standardized, miniaturized and dehumanized. The New Reality promises to lead us to a future bursting with more of the worst of a past we’ve spent our lives denying. Instigate another war on potheads and their fellow travelers? Sure, why not? How about taking after the Welfare Chiselers and the millions of greedy school kids stealing Free Lunches? How about making the poor and the lazy pay for their own damned health care? How about taking all the money we’d save by confirming the poverty of the poor and building ourselves twenty miles of our soon to be Glorious Border Wall stretching from Sea to Shining Sea? (Public Service Announcement: Never been a wall somebody couldn’t go over, under, around or through.)
The revolutionaries who freed us from Europe’s God Kings wished so much more for future generations. They knew they’d given them a real good fresh start but only that. So if we today really are Real Americans, how could we have so completely forgotten our catechism? How could we forget the difference between the legal and illegal, aspiration and the here and now, the real and ideal? How could we wind up acting like scared rabbits getting run through a fiendishly elaborate maze booby-trapped with random Rewards and Punishments designed by multi-national mad monk lab rats chained to stand up desks, touched by God, beholden to Mammon and determined to make the Consumer the Consumed?
Home of the Brave, Land of the Free?
“I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen. Those slogans are no longer operative now that we’ve got America’s Richest Old White Men First again. With the abolition of Fake News under our Great Leader’s New Reality, people now wish only to be as snug as bugs in rugs. As all Real Americans now clearly understand, National Security equals Personal Security and Personal Security means you get to see only what you wish to see and to hear only what you wish to hear and to speak only when spoken to and, when forced to, volunteering as little information as possible since you never know who’s listening in or what can one day be used against you in one way or another.
Under our Make America Great Again Algorithm (the Superrich get more powerful, the powerful get more Superrich) we finally have benevolent taskmasters and official overseers who are, in exchange for a small fee, granting us our every wish. Want to drive a pickup truck with Superior Acceleration? Want Thoroughbred Horsepower? Want dirt cheap High Octane? No New Taxes? Well they’re your privileges for the keeping so go and enjoy them. And, remember, ecological collapse will bring prosperity to the weapons and munitions factories. With war re-assuming its rightful place as laisse faire population control, wise investors will make a mint. Since Amazon robots are smarter, more cooperative, efficient and durable than people, why hire people? Freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength and—Orwell missed mentioning this one—the New American Dream is Sleepwalking into TV’s Yesteryear (the Big Boss is addicted to late-nite TV, the wiseguys tell us).
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Also we include the now landmark commercials. That’s right, you’ll get timeless hits like: “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth Pepsodent” “Call for Phillip Morris” “From the Land of Sky Blue Waters” and many, many more of your favorites.
“And, remember, shipping is always free. So call now and, again at no extra charge, we’ll rush you the premiere episode of “Mr. Clean beats Dirt.”
* * *
OK, I admit it: you can’t make this shit up. Not when our deranged Tweeter-in-Chief keeps beating us to it. As I write this (6/18/17) the media is all atwitter speculating whether or not our spectacularly successful and ridiculously popular and productive NYC real estate tycoon/failed Casino boss/Southern Redeemer is in fact the innocent victim of the USA’s “worst American political witch hunt ever.” Since our boss man insists in writing that he most certainly is being victimized by “Illegal Leakers” (Whistleblowers will no longer be entitled to gratitude, much less any constitutionally valid forms of protection). National Security Leaks demand punishment and, if they’ve squinted in the mirror long enough, the True Believers know it’s true. Like, when has our boss man and his posse ever told us anything but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Try asking the Republicans demanding that we, in the name of Jesus and to meet our Fiduciary responsibilities, cease our pitiless Witch Hunt against our man because they’re vouching for him. Boy are they vouching for him. According to these flag-waving, chest-pounding Republicans, the Orange Man’s word is as good as gold. . .
Anybody remember that old farmer’s saw about keeping your head in the clouds but your feet on the ground? Try sometime planting an acre of some kind of six-month-crop. There are only two types of people who ever do that kind of thing: amateurs experimenting and old hands bent over planting seeds a thumb deep while dreaming big dreams. The first sort eventually concludes he’d be more useful doing something else, and the second kind eventually gets hauls off the farm in a pine box.
What ever happened to our homegrown folk wisdom, those once cherished expressions of our “New World” lessons learned, common ways and shared aspirations? Did they get chopped up in our antique (and now “collectable”) Cuisinart’s? Or did they get exploded in our Microwaves? Or did they become like homeless shipping container inventory sold on the dock and out the hatch for ten cents on the dollar to make room for Recreational Echo Chambers (RECs) complete with Luxury Cubicles? Or were they, like today’s invisible war refugees, deported to personal oblivion stations (POSs) for illegally lacking money, threads, couth, skin tone and/or the correct attitude, papers or country of origin?
As if virtually all of us much-put-upon “White Folk” weren’t the spawn of mongrel immigrants salvaged out the humanity’s trash heap. As if, at the moment, we ain’t the shame of our better selves and an insult to the best in our Heritage.
Right now We the People are like the mule that won’t plow. We’re the horse that refuses to run, the milking cow that won’t stay put, the rooster that won’t quit crowing, the hen that breaks eggs. (Ever wonder how Southern Fried Chicken got its start?)
I gave up gambling about the time I gave up hard recreational drugs and loose women. Fatherhood requires sacrifices and I was finally old enough (28) to gladly oblige. But right now I’d lay five-to-one odds that Herr Trump has laundered at least $80 million of Russian mob money over the last few years. I also know for a fact—I swore the same Sacred Oath to uphold the Constitution that Trump did—that he has violated his Oath of Office in multiple ways, including by obstructing justice. He’s also sabotaged the entire Executive Branch, whipped up Know-Nothing racist and xenophobic hysteria and, generously indulging his love of profit, patronage and payoffs, he’s daily stealing from and pissing on the taxpayers. I also know that those who hitch their wagons to scumbags in name of God and Country should be ashamed of themselves. They’re the hens that break eggs and the roosters that won’t stop crowing.
One thing that confuses us so much is the fiction that the struggle is between good guys and bad guys. Do you know what tied Stalin and the Russian Communists to Hitler and the Nazis? It was the same thing that tied General Mao of the Communists to the Nationalist Generalissimo Chaing-Kai-Shek, their partisans and underlings. They were all in it for the money and the power. Pure Capitalism, like pure greed, is pure gangsterism.
So when it comes to judging Trump’s Russian-mob-tainted White House posse, follow the money and you’ll discover what’s true and what’s not true. Follow the money with due diligence and you won’t hafta worry about getting anything wrong. You can bet on that proposition it all day long and every night snuggle into bed a winner.
Finally, on the bright side: Do you know what the most difficult part of juggling six bowling pins all at once is? It’s catching them all at the end.