Rethinking America

The New York Times and the Looting of America

Amidst a reactionary revolution without precedent, the Democrats and the mainstream media only exhibit cluelessness, if not complicity.

Credit: Stas Walenga Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Amidst a reactionary revolution without precedent, the Democrats and the mainstream media only exhibit cluelessness, if not complicity.
  • The NYT’s off-kilter mindset is a reflection of how our culture has come to view most everything. No good or bad, no judgments, no values.
  • Are the reporters of the NYT incapable of candid reporting? Or have they simply taken leave of their minds like so many others in our disoriented society?
  • Kim Kardashian, our celebrity culture’s embodiment, did more to elect Donald Trump than Vladimir Putin and James Comey combined.
  • The great corrective in a democratic system is supposed to be the presence of an opposition competing for power. Today in the US we don’t have a viable opposition.
  • Trump will not be forced to resign. He may abdicate, though. He finds the routine tiresome.

Is there any mystery as to what is happening on the domestic front? The tax bill is nothing other than a looting of the nation for the sake of the 1%. It is thinly disguised pillage.

The associated cuts in social programs represent a giant step in the Republican project of the past 40 years to repeal a century of progressive legislation. In case you wonder, the Republicans’ point of reference is not the 1920s, but rather the Gaslight Era of the 1890s – before the federal income tax was introduced.

This is historic – a reactionary revolution without precedent. It is reshaping American society in fundamental ways that will endure.

The clueless elite media

This disconcerting truth is largely invisible to the editors, writers and pundits who determine how we understand the world of public affairs. For the most part, they treat it as a sporting contest.

“Trump Triumphs After Earlier Defeats.” “Republicans Exult.” “How The Republicans Strategy Was Designed.” “Trump Turned Adversity Into Success: The Inside Story.” “Who Wins and Who Loses From The Tax Reform?”

All these headlines appeared on the front page not of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post – but of the venerable New York Times. “Who won?” – is that an open question? Would the NYT editors ask it about a big Mafia heist at Kennedy Airport? “Tax Reform?” – by whose definition?

Are the reporters of the New York Times simply incapable of candid reporting? Or have they simply taken leave of their minds, like so many others in our disoriented society? After all, these are the same people who gave us a lengthy profile of a neo-Nazi that reads like a Michael Phelps promo puff piece.

While the Times’ editors (and the other MSM) play these parlor games, Trump is spending Christmas boasting to his fat-cat friends at Mar-a-Lago how he’s just made them much richer.

With media “opposition” like that, no wonder that they gloat at how the administration is systematically dismantling the entire federal regulatory apparatus.

Example: Proprietors of nursing homes can now abuse their elderly and sick without concern for penalties imposed by federal monitoring bodies – penalties that themselves had involved nothing more than nominal fines on exceptional occasions.

NYT: Go along to get along

What we observe is an apparent policy of trying to please everyone: The odd harsh editorial criticizing the tax bill (when its passage is already a near fait accompli and with no reference to the pathetic Democratic performance).

News stores so cut-and-trim and blasé as to take the sharp edges off what that should be the story of the 21st Century. Showcasing three right-wing columnists fits the pattern.

Whatever the reason, this kind of misleading news is read by tens of millions (subscribers and readers of local papers that reprint these stories) whose perceptions and imagery of the world are fixed by the supposedly authoritative source of these distorted news accounts.

The NYT’s off-kilter mindset is a reflection of how our culture has come to view most everything. No good or bad, no judgments, no values.

Just a pluralism of egos in a contest of all against all for status, attention, power and money. This is the mindset of fantasy football applied to grave matters of state. (“GOP Win Comes After Chaotic Start” Dec. 25, pg. 1; “New England Patriots Win Comes After Chaotic Start” – any given Sunday).

The latter headline affects only the mood of the football team’s fans for a few hours and has no other impact on the real world. The former headline has profound and lasting effects on the lives of everyone.

Juvenile inability to differentiate

Focusing on the game aspect and not the content – the consequence of winning or losing the contest – is the way a 6-year old views things.

Message to the population at large: We must admire the top 1%. Our “fault” is not belonging to them. NYT reporters increasingly act like scribblers at a royal court.

In short, we are making a reality of Margaret Thatcher’s breathless discovery that “there is no such thing as society.” The collective interest be damned.

How can we be surprised by Trump’s shenanigans, by Republican mendacity that this is a “middle class” tax cut, by the fecklessness of the media?

U.S. pop culture and politics

After all, we live in a country where countless millions spend their lives in close communion with electronic gizmos and watching inane television shows where even their laughter is canned.

A nation pays a price for this type of orchestrated numbing of sensibilities and systematic dumbing of the citizenry.

Ever realized that Kim Kardashian, our celebrity culture’s embodiment, did more to elect Donald Trump than Vladimir Putin and James Comey combined.

What has to be done?

It probably is too late to reverse the reactionary wave. All we hope for is to stem it.

The great political anomaly of our political times is that Republican electoral successes – at local, state and Congressional levels as well as managing to put a Trump in the White House – occur despite the locus of national opinion on most issues coinciding with the positions of the Democrats.

Indeed, on some critical ones (like health care), national opinion is well to the left of the Democratic Party’s leadership.

The great corrective in a democratic system is supposed to be the presence of an opposition competing for power.

No viable opposition

Today, in the United States we don’t have a viable opposition. Let’s face it, the Democrats have been committing political suicide for a couple of generations.

True to their nature, they have dragged out the act at an excruciatingly slow pace – death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.

Their only possible salvation are the Republicans’ own suicidal impulses, by “virtue” of sheer overdrive.
The Democrats’ dominant corporatist wing is fatally compromised on socio-economic matters. The party’s money handlers make sure that any truly reform-oriented Democrat ever gets real financial support.

The party’s wider network in the think tank and opinion-fabricating world assists with ever-eager warnings of “leftists.”

The Democrats’ crew of increasingly octogenarian leaders can barely drag themselves to a microphone to ensure that the opposition gets on the evening news after the latest outrage. (The intrepid duo of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders being the notable exceptions).

Machine politicians

Contrast that with the core feature of U.S. Republicans – unremarked by our nation’s supposed crack journalists.
Congressional Republicans from coast to coast exhibit a disciplined party unity that is basically CPC-style – and certainly without precedent in our political history. 51 Senators to a man and woman voted for legislation that turns America upside down.

Never mind that several of the tax bill’s provisions run counter to the views of a large majority of potential voters. Enthusiastic support is limited to around 20-25% of the population. Yet, no one breaks ranks.

How is this possible in the politically decentralized American system? This is the key question for understanding current party politics in the United States.

The answer is simple: Whatever is left of Republican establishment-wing office holders are held hostage by the party’s Tea Party wing. They are ever ready to challenge any incumbent no matter their impeccable conservative credentials if s/he thwarts their desires. This puts fear in their hearts. Recall the fate of Bob Bennett in Utah.

What does that mean for any upcoming election? Well, the harsh truth is that the Republicans’ Tea Party minders pose a more credible threat than does the Democratic opposition in the fall – such is the official opposition party’s pathetic state.

It doesn’t take a political genius to see that the Republicans are literally stealing the country and its political system.

Trump will not be forced to resign. He may abdicate, though. He finds the routine tiresome, he can’t stand the carping criticism, and he misses his former carefree life when he could assault women at his whim.

The Mueller investigation

Were the Mueller investigation to dig deeply into Trump’s dealings with various international criminal organizations (wherein he may already have committed several federal felonies), that could set the scene for him – with the tax bill now passed – to declare victory in turning America around, bellow “Mission Accomplished,” and to ride off into the sunset.

But Mueller seems hesitant to open that can of worms which could implicate foreign leaders (Bibi Netanyahu, above all), some financial bigwigs in New York, Amsterdam and Panama and well-connected power brokers with links to both parties.

Were we nonetheless to arrive at that point, Trump would be succeeded by Pence who is as extreme a reactionary on policy as Trump, but at least clinically sane (but an even truer believer in the dark powers of conservatism, which were only a convenient toy to play with for Trump).

The Republicans would hold the Congress. Pence would be 50/50 to win in 2020. Against whom? Joe Biden? Tim Kaine? Andrew Cuomo?

Shut the lights – the American party is over! These close to 1,500 words notwithstanding.

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About Michael J. Brenner

Michael Brenner is Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. [Texas, United States]

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