Thanks to Bush, we now have Outrage Spam

(Cross-posted at

I’m sure it happens to you, too: the latest outrage from the Bush administration hits the news — Cheneygate, Gonzalesgate, Torturegate, etc etc etc gate – and your fingers start itching to fire off an outraged email, phone call, blog post or whatever. But just as you’re framing the phrases, here comes another outrage!

It’s just like your email inbox: impossible to keep up with. We now, thanks to the Bush Administration, have Outrage Spam.

And so with the commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence. Of course his sentence was commuted, his name is Scooter! That’s all he needs, and it says all you need to know about Bushworld: he’s one of our people, so he does well. The other people, like say Katrina survivors, well they did rather nicely living in the Superdome, didn’t they?

But why bother even saying it? The next outrage will be here any second. And there’s still so much work to be done digging through the details of the previous pile, as in the Washington Post’s series on just how dastardly Dick Cheney is. Kind of late, as many have pointed out, but in the Post’s defense, look at the backlog.

As with other forms of spam, Outrage Spam is enabled by the removal of friction from the process. Email is free – hence email spam. With the degradation of our public sphere – including but not limited to the distraction of our media by money and celebrity – outrage is now virtually free too. There is less and less real cost to the perpetrator, and in many cases, there are rich rewards (viz. CEO pay).

And, as with some other forms of spam, it sometimes seems to be a deliberate attack on the system itself. Could it be that the Bush administration, contemptuous of democracy as it obviously is, is staging a DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attack on democracy?

Nah, that’s crazy. Isn’t it?

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