Thoughts on the #SOTU:
1. A man who has repeatedly insulted and dishonored the military, who offers to rent them out to as if they were mercenaries, and who is recklessly sending more troops away to foreign battlefronts, shamelessly exploited a military family reunion for his own political ends. Of course he did. Because he understands, in a way his opponents don’t, that our culture now runs on emotional moments, and those moments don’t need to make any sense—sense is beside the point. They just need to deliver a jolt of entertainment. Neil Postman called it way back in 1985 in “Amusing Ourselves To Death:”
“Our Ministry of Culture is Huxleyan, not Orwellian. It does everything possible to encourage us to watch continuously. But what we watch is a medium which presents information in a form that renders it simplistic, nonsubstantive, nonhistorical and noncontextual; that is to say, information packaged as entertainment. In America, we are never denied the opportunity to amuse ourselves.
“Tyrants of all varieties have always known about the value of providing the masses with amusements as a means of pacifying discontent. But most of them could not have even hoped for a situation in which the masses would ignore that which does not amuse.“
2. I feel real compassion for Rush Limbaugh for his cancer diagnosis. But you can feel compassion for someone and see them clearly at the same time. Limbaugh got rich harming his country. Like a modern day Father Charles Coughlin, he exploited the power of media to stoke ignorance, fear, and hatred, and their inevitable compound, bigotry.
He was a ringleader of the racist birther conspiracy. He described the modern NFL as looking like a game between Crips and Bloods. He insulted and belittled women, only gudgingly apologizing after calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” for days on end.
This quote from 2009 brings together Limbaugh’s major themes in the perfect symbolism of a white woman — an annoyingly independent one — kissing a black man’s grave:
“But now you got the Clintons back in the news cycle taking credit for all these wonderful things, Hillary’s over in Kenya kissing Obama’s grandfather’s grave and talking about whatever corruption she’s finding over there. Just a bunch of total BS. It’s all just a bunch of BS.”
He finishes the thought with this:
“There is no truth. And to the extent that they think you believe in truth, you are the target. You have to be disabused of that notion.”
It’s the essence of the right wing media bubble in all its resentment, paranoia, and profiteering (“Only we will tell you the truth”), captured in a few phrases by its poet laureate.
No wonder Trump gave Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, thereby inverting the meaning of that honor, like he has so much else.
Limbaugh helped create Trump.
3. And then there were the lies. Big, in a blizzard, Soviet-style. No this is not the best-ever economy; it’s performing well below levels set in multiple previous administrations — including the Obama administration. No, manufacturing is not coming back, it’s declining under Trump. No, his administration is not protecting coverage of pre-existing conditions, it’s attacking it in court, trying to have it declared un-Constitutional.
And on and on and on. The state of our union is that it is being Sovietized.