Free speech is a beautiful thing. And it's amazing how free someone's speech becomes -- and how unavoidable -- when they're part of a tiny elite with billions of dollars at its disposal: Suddenly you can "speak" in all the major media outlets. You can "speak" on Fox News. And you can use your money to elect politicians who'll "speak" for you in high office.
Will all that cash on hand - and a "news" network, too - their videos are everywhere. Next they'll be projecting them on buildings and in the sky, like some dystopian blend of Blade Runner and the Rotary Club. And right now they're using their video super-powers to full effect - first to create an artificial "fiscal cliff" panic, then to force their losing agenda on the public.
To paraphrase the late Gil Scott-Heron, the counter-revolution will be televised.
The public spoke loudly and forcefully in the last election: Raise taxes on millionaires, billionaires, and corporations. Defend Social Security and Medicare. And create jobs. That means the forces that oppose those things have a lot of work to do - and a lot of video to shoot.
I wonder if Philo T. Farnsworth knew what he was doing to democracy?
We come from genteel folk, so we'd rather not keep harping on the enormity of the can of whup-ass voters just opened on Republicans. Please don't make us do it again. Suffice it to say that Republicans lost the Presidency, they lost the Senate -- and they lost the House, too, in popular votes. That's a remarkable rebuke, considering the billions that Sheldon Adelson and other dubious rich folk put into their campaigns.
But please: Let's stop hearing smart and insightful people say that Adelson and his pals "lost" millions on this election. That money, plus the GOP's creepy gerrymandering, bought them the House of Representatives.
If they hadn't spent all that money we'd be debating how big the stimulus should be, not how deep to make the spending cuts. They got a lot of state offices, too. So election reform still needs to be #1 on everybody's political to-do list.
They're getting their money's worth now, from both the GOP and Fox News. First, the Republicans. Here's Speaker of the House John Boehner rejecting an offer which reflects the election results (which means he's rejecting the will of the people):
And here's a snapshot of Fox News coverage of the same proposal, whose alarmist but relatively neutral "Republicans, Democrats play political dare ahead of more fiscal talks this week" tone quickly morphed into "Dems resist GOP counter-offer to avert fiscal crisis, as Pelosi tries to force vote on tax bill."
They report, you decide: Which form of punishment should these intransigent Democratic traitors receive? If you were a Fox News viewer you wouldn't know Democrats won on these issues, or whose "cans" really got kicked last month.
And speaking of "cans," we'll now pivot from the one voters delivered and focus on one manufactured with billionaire money. That would be "The Can Kicks Back," a supposedly "grassroots" organization aided - like so many others - in large part by Pete Peterson, the anti-government, anti-Social Security, anti-Medicare billionaire and former Nixon Cabinet member.
This thinly-disguised lobbying operation called on one of its most reliable operatives, Alan Simpson, for its latest video. In it, as you can see, the ornery octogenarian dances Gangnam-style (the meme that won't die) in order to persuade young people to cut their own Social Security and Medicare benefits. "These old coots will clean out the Treasury before you get there", warns Simpson - who is, needless to say, an old coot trying to clean out the Treasury.
The Peterson crowd is trying to do that with a one-two rhetorical punch: they argue for cutting Social Security benefits, and then label its $2.6 trillion trust fund a worthless "IOU." (Here's video of an old coot doing exactly that, thanks to Alex Lawson. Don't you pay your IOUs, Mr. Simpson?)
It's the same old song - but with a different meaning since the voters rejected it so soundly.
It's amazing how much money they pour into this stuff. As my pal Peter Case says: It's a free country, but it sure ain't cheap.
Fortunately, the counter-counter-revolution has video at its disposal, too. There were some strong, clear, and funny words from fifty-something Jon Stewart. (Sorry about that, JS. If it makes you feel better, guys like Alan Simpson have a name for guys your age: descendants.)
And via Dave Johnson, there's this terrific video, narrated by Ed Asner, explaining ... well, the whole "economics" thing as it stands today. That's the thing one I try to explain every week in thousands of words. I looked at the seven-minute length and thought, "There's no way I'm watching that whole video." But it's engrossing, funny, and very clear. It's worth watching.
Given the nature of this video material, perhaps the reader understand why I felt compelled to work the name "Philo T. Farnsworth" into this piece somehow.
And that leads us to the man with today's last word, the man who epitomizes selfish, insular, and heartless wealth more than anyone else in American life today (well, except for Mitt Romney): I speak, of course, of Montgomery J. "Monty" Burns. In this clip from The Simpsons, Mr. Burns is kind enough to explain it all for us. He does at least as good a job as Ed Asner.
(Uploaded for public use by Animation on Fox)
Say what you will about Fox, but they do bring us The Simpsons every week - and that leads us to our modest proposal for today. I think that from this day forward every new video from Boehner, Alan Simpson, or Fox News should close with the words "Excellent, Smithers."
Which reminds me: Has anybody ever seen Mr. Burns and Sen. Simpson in the same room at the same time? I'm just asking.