In Washington, the media function like a palace court press. In the name of political neutrality, the definition of quotable sources is limited to the narrow spectrum from Republican to Democrat. If a given point of view - say, that missile defence is a dangerous fantasy - is not articulated by leading lawmakers, it is ignored. Instead of substance, journalists focus on palace intrigues: what is the White House proposing today, how will Congress react, who will win the fight? Rarely does the coverage stand back from insider debates, or offer alternative analysis. Thus our media fail to act as the check and balance our nation's founders envisioned.
And then there's the Stepford Citizen Syndrome, or the 10 official "truths" of the War On Terrorism (ranging from Bush's moral virtue and wise leadership to the immediate threat of Saddam Hussein, to the integrity of America's famed constitutional checks and balances), each debunked:
Overlooking our thrice-arrested president's blatant disregard for civil rights, human rights and the environment, they continue to downplay scandals and downgrade their role as protectors of the public trust. But with oft-repeated quips like, "lucky me, I hit the trifecta" and "if this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier," G.W. offers a glimpse at his indecent inner frat boy. Especially revealing was a Talk Magazine interview, in which he mimicked death row inmate Karla Faye Tucker. "Please," Bush whimpered, mocking Tucker's plea for clemency, "don't kill me." Gallows humor is only funny when those telling jokes don't have the power to save people from the gallows.
Europeans don't agree with us because we're wrong. They understand the geopolitical motivations behind this war, as their press isn't as censored. In America, however, stories about Enron's involvement in the proposed oil and gas pipeline though Afghanistan were squashed, and if you wanted to know about the Taliban's trip to Texas, you had to learn about it in the National Enquirer rather than on Meet the Press.
Stability in Afghanistan is but a myth, warlords carry out atrocities without intervention, and the State Department is forced to guard President Karzai. Meanwhile, many warn that Bush's plans for Iraq could lead to Armageddon. Yet "Bush is doing an excellent job in the war on terror?" How?
In other words, where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?
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