Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Politics of Fear

Our government wants us to be really, really afraid. It appears we aren’t afraid enough yet, or at least their poll numbers are not high enough yet, so they are getting their good friends and allies in the news media to help them make us more afraid.

The news media, you may recall, are owned by corporate giants who need favorable legislation passed and are currying favor with government to obtain that legislation by flooding Washington with huge sums of cash. Members of government, in turn, are returning some of that cash by buying huge amounts of campaign advertising in the media.

So the news media and government are involved in this circular, mutual back-scratching, sort of incestuous relationship.

Remember that plot hatched by the guys in Miami that were going to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago? To refresh your memory, none of them had ever been anywhere near Chicago, but they did have some photographs of security guards in Washington, DC. (I was never clear on what those photos had to do with the Sears Tower.) They were holding close order marching drill in full view of their Miami neighbors and had no weapons or explosives. Their only contact with Al Qaeda was a federal agent pretending to be Al Qaeda and they asked him for boots. This was a very dangerous bunch of people.

The Department of Homeland Stupidity announced the interception of this nefarious plot with great fanfare, and pretty much broke both arms patting themselves on the back. They were joined in the fanfare by the news media who trumpeted this great accomplishment at rather nauseating length, while saner heads tried to point out how absurd the whole thing really was.

Eventually the media and DHS had to let the whole thing sort of fizzle out, but no one ever seemed to be quite as embarrassed as the situation so richly deserved. (Someone did have the good grace to admit that they had intercepted the plot “more in the planning than in the execution phase,” which may be one of the truly great understatements of modern times.)

Fast forward now to August, when the mid-term elections are drawing near and the incumbent government’s poll numbers are dropping like an unopened parachute. I’ll be damned if this whole silly Sears Tower plot doesn’t suddenly reappear on the CBS Evening News (owned by the corporate giant Viacom).

Now we are being shown a film clip of the plotters in action. First we see the members stepping forward and “swearing allegiance to Osama Bin Laden” one-by-one. Well, at least that’s what we are told – this portion of the film has no sound track. It appears to be an incredibly short oath. It rather looks to me like they might be simply stepping forward and stating their names, but…

Next we see the leader and hear his complaints about not having any uniforms or boots. Finally we get to the reason that we this farce has been resurrected: we hear the leader saying that after he blows up the tower he’s going to, “..start a war and kill the devils,” adding, when prompted by the agent to say how many he’s going to kill, “millions.”

See, I told you it was scary. Better vote Republican, otherwise some clown who has no weapons or explosives, not even any uniforms or boots, is going to kill millions of us. Thank you CBS News, for reporting something that happened ages ago and that wasn’t newsworthy even when it did happen, in order to warn us about this horrendous danger, and to make sure that we vote Republican.

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