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Is there too much bullshit?

Coping with a certain amount of bullshit is part of the human condition, I feel. But right now, is there so much bullshit that it's literally not possible to process it? Because that really would be "too much."

I'm leaning toward "yes." It's been the whole [a|the] [Federalist]? [strong|robust]? public [health insurance]? [option|plan] thing that's done it too me, I think. It's like my bullshit detector and filters are both clogged.

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Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

Filtering jello is a waste of time. Jello is what Washington is serving right now, there is no there there. Whatever it is that Harry Reid means by "public option" is not at all clear, but it is certain that it is different than what others mean by the same words. Your bullshit detector has been overloaded. Like all form of exercise, occasional overloading makes it stronger, which it will need to be for the industrial strength bullshit yet to come.

TreeHugger's picture
Submitted by TreeHugger on

I am not the only one with a permanent crick in my neck, trying to keep up with the back and forth insanity that passes for governing these days.

One can only hope that the latest levels of backstabbing, double dealing, and smoke machine antics are simply the long winding path for Obama to pass his favored "trigger' option/bipartisan corporate 'final solution' to health care reform.

After all, Trigger is just a grown up pony,Isn't he?

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

... and the primaries.

I don't like Palin's policies, haven't nor wouldn't vote for, but I was opposed to the BS attacks against her. I remember a conversation at a wedding I had where I was told that I was "defending Palin" and I responded if all we have is BS, then there will be no way to know what's true. I may have even mentioned it here in the comments. The Dems became enmeshed in BS during the primary and things have not abated.

A reason why I am "hung up" on the primaries is because the bogusness of them has not been addressed and we are continuing with the same BS. Until there is an acknowledgment of the primaries (and the BS against Palin) things will not improve. Yeah, I'm bitter. But that's because BS just doesn't taste good to me.

Submitted by lambert on

... but not because of anything we might demand of Democrats and "progressives," but because of what we do for ourselves (cf. Matthew 8:22).

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

There's a theory that bullshit is all part of the new and improved U.S. system:

To reduce a complex argument to its bare bones, since the Depression, the twin forces of managed democracy and Superpower have opened the way for something new under the sun: "inverted totalitarianism," a form every bit as totalistic as the classical version but one based on internalized co-optation, the appearance of freedom, political disengagement rather than mass mobilization, and relying more on "private media" than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda that reinforces the official version of events. It is inverted because it does not require the use of coercion, police power and a messianic ideology as in the Nazi, Fascist and Stalinist versions (although note that the United States has the highest percentage of its citizens in prison -- 751 per 100,000 people -- of any nation on Earth). According to Wolin, inverted totalitarianism has "emerged imperceptibly, unpremeditatedly, and in seeming unbroken continuity with the nation's political traditions."

The genius of our inverted totalitarian system "lies in wielding total power without appearing to, without establishing concentration camps, or enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident elements so long as they remain ineffectual. A demotion in the status and stature of the 'sovereign people' to patient subjects is symptomatic of systemic change, from democracy as a method of 'popularizing' power to democracy as a brand name for a product marketable at home and marketable abroad. The new system, inverted totalitarianism, is one that professes the opposite of what, in fact, it is. The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed."

I'm very interested in reading the book, much like Shock Doctrine, there appears to be a lot of stuff to think about and mine in the idea of Inverted Totalitarianism, whether I ultimately end up agreeing with all of it or not.

(via Jeff W)

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

Wow, how did that end up over here? (Thanks for the h/t, BDBlue.)

Hope it's not too OT but I tell my friends in China that the US and China seem to be converging in a sort of corporatist/Party, "inverted totalitarian" sort of way. Here's a quote from a TNR piece "Medals and Rights" published just prior to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing [emphasis added]:

[Anne-Marie] Brady [author of Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China,Rowman & Littlefield] reveals that China's central propagandists have studied the theories of "manufacturing consent" by Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays, and have learned from media critics such as Noam Chomsky, and--although she does not make quite this ultimate ironic point--emulate such Western visionaries of popular journalism as Rupert Murdoch. They know how diversity and contention within a permitted range of subjects render invisible the subjects forbidden by the regime and placed outside the perimeter; how naming and framing place inconvenient facts in a desired light. The department intervenes at all levels of the media hierarchy through a system of news guidance, post-publication review, and reward and punishment. Its most effective tool is a traditional Chinese invention rather than a Western import: a "you know what we mean" style of regulation that allows experimentation, tolerates ambiguity, and then punishes retroactively and arbitrarily.

The efflorescence of creativity that foreign visitors will see in Beijing in August is not a challenge to Party control. It enables that control. The lively art and music scenes, colorful newsstands, crowded bookstores, stylish clothing, experimental dance, innovative architecture, sexy advertising, rampant consumerism, luxurious housing, ebullient schlock, even the considerable scope for academic inquiry: this lightly patrolled free zone is not the antithesis but the twin of the permanent crackdown on the political frontier, where the few who insist on testing the regime are crowded to the cultural margin and generally ignored. In this sense the energetic new Chinese art that has caught the imagination of Western buyers, with its pictorial irony and cynicism, repudiation of history, detachment from the world, and love of stunts, is not the challenge to those in power it is sometimes construed to be. Rather, it is a secret joke that the regime shares with the artists and their audience--part of a new social contract that allows the children to have their sly fun so long as the grown-ups run the house.

Brady argues that the end result of this sophisticated cultural programming differs little from the mass media in the West, where just as in China nothing important is discussed. Like American TV viewers and tabloid readers transfixed by the photo shoot of the teenage star Miley Cyrus and the debate over whether to lift the federal gas tax for the summer driving season, Chinese readers feel they are living in an environment of freedom. The difference is that even those motivated to do so have no way to break into the monopoly circle that decides on the fundamental issues that confront their society.

I'm not so sure about that difference, actually. The real difference is, I suppose, that, among my Chinese friends at least (not sophisticated political types, just average, run-of-the-mill people), they know they're operating within very circumscribed boundaries, even if they get to watch Prison Break and Desperate Housewives.

I'd mention, in contrast, here, the bizarre health care "debate," with the loony tea baggers over there and the brouhaha over [a|the] [strong|robust]? [Federalist]? public [health insurance]? [option|plan] over here, none of which is rooted in reality but providing a simulacrum of "talking about the issues"—and, of course, even that comes crashing to a halt the other week at the non-spectacle of a balloon sailing across the Colorado sky—but why bother? We all know the drill and are thoroughly sick of it by now.

Submitted by lambert on

... has been watching "progressives" manufacture consent using the same techniques that we're used to from "the other side" -- since surely that's what the bait and switch is? Yes, the techniques were used clumsily, on a very small scale, and, of course, "for good," and on behalf of a flaccid and corrupt party leadership, as opposed to a feral and corrupt party leadership, but I expect all these aspects to, er, improve.

* * *

Back in the day, I visited Disneyworld in Orlando, where from far away, the searchlights of "Main Street, U.S.A.®," seen at night, reminded me forcibly of Nuremberg. However, in Nuremberg, there was a center -- one converged on the rally and the stage. Here, there was no center; the lights pointing into the sky were scattered and hidden behind bushes or buildings. That would be because the rally, and the stage, are now inside our heads....

Whoever keeps saying turn off your teebee is really, really right.

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

or, as this former Jack Sparrow says, "Nazis in Mickey hats." (OK, I'm jostling your metaphor a little but I couldn't resist.) Disneyland always struck me as creepily totalitarian, really—all that enforced "happiness" everywhere.

* * *

I get the Chinese Communist Party manufacturing consent (even if, arguably, it doesn't have to try that hard, given the high levels of satisfaction, generally—86%!—the Chinese have with the direction their country is headed in, at least prior to the Olympics).

Progressives not so much. Ian pointed out the obvious (but still it needs to be said):

The people who are pushing a lousy public option as if it will fix the problems innate in an individual mandate system are welcome to take the “credit” for doing so. Because this is insanity. Absolute insanity. And everyone pushing for it, whether they call themselves progressives or not, is aiding and abetting this insanity and will be bear responsibility for the backlash.

And there will be backlash.

If you're a progressive and you want to be in the consent-manufacturing business, at least do it for arguably good policy, not bad. This is truly nuts.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

And, you know, I read Ian Welsh's blog and saw your comment and clicked the link and then forgot to link to your comment on the h/t. D'oh.

Okay, so maybe magic isn't the right word.

Card-carrying_Buddhist's picture
Submitted by Card-carrying_B... on

Let's get one thing straight: I love Big Brother. And that's no goddam thought-terminating cliche.