Wanna laff? Get this:
"It's all very simple. Christiane Amanpour, Cindy Sheehan, CNN, The New York Times, Michael Moore, Newsweek, CBS et. al. are now, in huge measure, directly responsible for the ongoing death toll of Americans in Iraq. Everyone here in Iraq, the Islamic world at large, and most especially the Jihadist Movement's leadership, follow the American media closely, in order to monitor the American people's headspace, primarily with regard to whether or not we will continue the fight on to the establishment of a successful democratic, capitalistic, and modernized society here, or whether we will run in self-imposed defeat. The morale of the International Jihad Movement is almost entirely dependent on the posture of the American media. Their strategies, indeed, are primarily determined by it as well."
Thus blogs a movie (Auto-Focus) producer named Pat Dollard, who seems to have abandoned his Hollywood career and enlisted in the military, or been hired by a private security firm--something, anyway, that has put him in combat Over There. That's where he is and that's where he's writing from. He's in harm's way, on the ground, humping materiel and eating the dust in Zone Hot Vector Simba, or whatever military code is for Iraq. Meanwhile, I'm here, sipping coffee and tapping the keys in L.A., which is writer code for Los Angeles. So let's say, absent info to the contrary, that he's a courageous patriot, and I'm an effete pussy.
Still, even courageous patriots are capable of writing swaths of panting idiocy, and of using the resonant phrase "in huge measure" and the smart-person word "indeed" while passionately embracing theories composed entirely of baloney. And even an effete pussy can, in huge measure, point it out and explain why. So, indeed, shall I?
No. Anybody who knows how many beans make five is fully aware of the absurdities of Dollard's claim, and I don't want to waste the reader's valuable time on them. (Although I do want to waste the reader's valuable time by inviting the reader to laugh along with me at Dollard's central premise, which is that the Bush administration is responsive to public opinion. This notion, while certainly transcendent in its wrongness, is merely one of several components contributing to the larger wrongness of the producer-soldier's argument. Others include the implicit idea that Iraq had no history before our invasion, that insurgents spend their time reading Newsweek and monitoring Zogby polls, and that if we leave sooner they'll fight harder, but if we remain they'll fight not-so-hard.)
I saw Dollard's dispatch quoted on a liberal blog (will I credit it? Happily, yes! Sadly, No!) as part of an item about a certain "troll." A troll, I have recently figured out all by myself, is what you call someone from the other team who opposes, mocks, or offers provocations to a site's regular fans. About Dollard's dispatch, this troll says, "It's not surprising that you all have ignored this article, but that's probably because it's so true that you can't refute it."
Well. No wonder they tell you, "Don't feed the trolls!" It's standard wisdom for dealing with any lunatic, dunce, or agent provocateur: Don't answer, don't argue, don't "engage."
Still, it's worth asking: Why are the comments taking issue with liberal blogs always so very, very stupid? Why are they written only by trolls, i.e., by obnoxious nitwits who fancy themselves partisan commandoes, or shills paid to harass the opposition, or simply hecklers who, like the jerk in high school who slaps a freshman's books onto the floor, or the drunken moron who yells at a standup in a comedy club, derive a sense of power from the pettiest kind of naughtiness and vandalism?
Why do I never see a reasonable retort which makes me think, in the headspace of my mind, "I hate to say it, but this individual has a point," or, "Well, I don't agree, but at least this poster is an intelligent person"?
This brings me to my New Theory, which in truth is a slight variation of Charles Darwin's Old Theory, the world-famous principle of natural selection. Every specific kind of environment will "select for" some kinds of life forms, and cause them to thrive, while it "selects against" others and causes them to die off. God, who loves us, has been doing this for six thousand years, so don't even bother trying to not believe it.
And, as with primates, zinnias, and all 360,000 species of beetles, so with Republicans, thus:
The Bush administration, as any schoolchild knows, is a complete disaster for everyone except corporations and the very wealthy. (And they'll get theirs, once Antarctica melts.) Having squandered its four-and-a-half years of special dispensation since 9-11, it now rightly finds itself under attack and criticism for a mind-numbing record of ineptitude, corruption, mendacity, and arrogance.
In response, it defends itself with lies, smears, and intimidation. It will say anything, about anything or anyone, for the tiniest short-term advantage, and then supplant those lies with more lies. It will lie to the media and it will lie to the public. It will lie about what it has done in the past, what it is doing now, and what it will do in the future. It will lie from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, from Earth to the Moon, and from here to eternity. It will lie to me, to you, and to our dog named Boo. It will lie to its enemies, to its friends, to its constituents, to its allies, and--this is how cynical I've become--even to that adorable Katie Couric. Its presentation of itself to the world consists of not so much a tissue of lies as an entire box of Kleenex of lies. It's just a big fat liar.
As such, therefore (here's where the science part comes in), it has become an environment hostile to intelligent, honest support. Evolutionary pressures have "selected against" anyone on the right capable of making a persuasive case for the administration's policies and a decent defense against its Democratic opponents. Only the self-interested, the ignorant, the credulous, and the pathological survive.
Which leaves who, exactly? Why, the career propagandists (Kristol, Krauthammer, Brooks, Podhoretz, Hume, etc.), the rodeo clowns (O'Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.), the side-show geeks (Boortz, Savage, etc.), the hobbyist ranters and sniggering gigglers and bloviating gasbags on their ten thousand blogs--and, finally, the foot-soldiers, the pawns, the simpleminded halflings from the Shire caught up in this titanic struggle between Good and E-vil, who cannot be blamed for their small, limited grasp of the powers that are at play, the issues that are at stake, and the monstrous corruption and mendaciousness of their leaders, yes, the trolls.
Isn't this hilarious? No, it's a catastrophe, and brings us face to face with a plaintive query:
Where are the Good Republicans?
Where are the fiscal grownups who think that an 8.38 trillion-dollar national debt is maybe several trillion too much? Where are the sincere Christians for whom torture and internment camps and tax cuts for the rich are emphatically not WJWD? Where are the sensible businesspeople who think that the Katrina debacle, the Iraq debacle, and the Medicare debacle give evidence of an administration whose heart isn't in it and whose brain is out to lunch? Where are the rational, traditionalist adults for whom the manipulation of science should be anathema? Where are the vaunted "patriots" of the right who suspect that a president who thinks he can do whatever he wants isn't a president any more, but something else? Where, on the right, are the actually compassionate and the actually conservative?
Obviously, we're not talking here of the so-called moderates in Congress. The "centrists" from the U.S. Senile and the House of Reprehensibles, the Richard Lugars and Christopher Shayses and Olympia Snowes of the world, have long ago been absorbed into the Nut Borg and, in their (deserved) chronic sleeplessness, have their hands full with Ambien-dependency problems, with the night-driving and the night-cooking and so on. For whatever reason--careerism; cowardice; dumb loyalty; outrage fatigue--they're lost. Along with Macbeth they can say, I am in blood/Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more/Returning were as tedious as go o'er. Politically they're straitjacketed and morally they're toast.
But what about the people who voted for them? What about the people who are registered Republicans and yet know full well, as much as anything can be known by mortal men, that Fred Barnes (Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush) is a horse's ass? Let's say Bush's base consists of ten thousand millionaires and fifteen million religious fundamentalists (i.e., the fifty million who voted for him '04 times the lingering 30% who still "strongly don't think the President is a total nightmare"). If I'm the Republican Party, I'm wondering, as someone who was the Republican Party once said, "Where's the rest of me?"
Have they become extinct? No. My New Theory here departs from Darwin by positing an alternative to extinction. These missing Republicans are not extinct. They're in hiding.
They're cowering in abject terror, or going to work and playing with the kids and sitting around reading the paper and watching TV, in their Park Avenue duplexes and Miami Beach condos and gated Sunbelt communities and all the other perfectly nice, or at least adequate, houses and apartments all over these now still somewhat United States. They're out there, they know better, and they're silent.
In which case, shame on them--not only for their passive complicity with the lies, criminality, and corruption of the first Bush term, but for electing him to do it all again for a second. Because he has done it all again, and now it looks like he wants to do it all again again in Iran. The invisibility, inaudibility, and tacit go-along-ability of responsible, moderate Republicans have become almost as contemptible as the high crimes and low misdemeanors of our megalomaniacal Boy King and his sneering vizier.
That's why my New Theory concludes--daringly, refreshingly--by "breaking the fourth wall" and addressing its own subject directly: Come on, Joe Six-Pack and Mrs. Six-Pack! Come on, Joseph Blanc and Mrs. Sauvignon-Blanc! Pull your damn weight! If six senior military men can publicly call for Rumsfeld's removal, then ten or twenty million non-insane Republicans can call for George Bush to take advantage of an early, deeply humiliated retirement, and for Dick Cheney to be hauled before the Hague or, if you prefer, vice-versa.
Granted (per my New Theory), the atmosphere on the right has been polluted beyond description by the neo-con empire fantasists, the corporate-lobbyist cabal, and the Krackpot Kristians. But that's everyone's problem--especially yours--and not anyone's excuse. I call on you to do what firemen and bomb squads do: throw on a gas mask, jump into a HAZMAT suit, and wade on back in here and help clean up this mess.
If you don't, we'll quietly quit the Democratic Party and join yours. You won't see us, you won't hear us. We'll paint our faces (either our own, or each other's; it's still being debated) and travel by night. By the time you know we're there, the Republican Party will be in a body bag labeled TOXIC: MILLIONAIRES AND THEOCRATS.
And that's my New Theory. Discuss.