Why I am a Member of the Permanent Opposition

Washington, CT. Every now and again, my little petal, The Concept catches me leering with sardonic delight at the television while one or another primped and coiffed “television journalist” summarizes the latest human disaster in a 60 second sound bite. Looking at me with undisguised contempt she usually intones: “Why do you enjoy misery so much, you really are sick.” Having answered her own question, she then sweetly swears as she peremptorily retreats but this is not her fault as it is a malady she picked up from over thirty years with me. Contact Tourette’s is the medical term I believe. Her rightful insult generally elicits a giggle on my part but the reverie is always brief because the nightly broadcast of headlong human decline re-grips me in another confirmation of the rather flexible definition of “progress.” Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, I do not relish human disaster by any means. What appeals to my sense of satire is the cockeyed notion that we must shoehorn global agony and the machinations of the State into a primary place of importance within our life of immediate concerns.

Rest assured, I always take whatever I see on the telly or within our nervous print media with a grain of salt because after all, it is the madcap bulletin board of that simulacrum of easy existence we have come to take for reality in this noisy information age. Real it ain’t. Reality cannot be transmitted across the airwaves and survive intact. The airwaves and distance refract it. The scenes of political confusion, disaster or debauch are certainly real where they occur but somehow, the process of reporting them from afar has grafted a kind of nervous siege mentality upon the loyal viewing audience. As a “people”, an interestingly loaded term to be sure but for lack of a better term, as a people, we now accept that our sphere of proper influence is somewhere 50 degrees of latitude or longitude distant. Nonetheless, one can either be seduced by the show or view it as an ethnologist might ponder some tribe of oddball primitives painting themselves with bear grease and fox droppings before a brisk jaguar dance at the foot of the cargo shrine. The American Spectator likes to watch. It is to the point now of obsession and obsession is just another avenue of distraction. I’d rather watch the spectators. To inform one’s viewing enjoyment of the national spectator, one must be fully conversant in the kabuki of our silly media rituals, its shibboleths and solemnized half-truths.

Chief among these media presumptions is the idea of an unassailable and permanently ascendant goodness of the American Juggernaut. Despite producing a nightly summary of some of the more preposterous insults to human organization in history, the American Media is dutiful in perpetuating a notion of Eternal Progress, a parade of unremitting growth and prosperity, a movable feast of relentless novelty and all of it open for the citizen’s plucking like a fat juicy pomegranate. Recently, economic travails have required a bit of chastening on the part of our toothy prognosticators. They recite the dim statistics but are prone to champion any meek good news, however fleeting, as a major return to the glory days of our consumer paradise. To make it sporting, the media has taken a page from the Roman Coliseum and divided itself into teams of Reds and Blues so that the reclining viewer can easily resist the formerly American urge to doubt in order to slide into the contoured leather seats of Conventional Wisdom. Buckle up, buy the ticket and as Doc Thompson averred, take the ride.

What a ride it is. Lately, we have been treated to a rather crude fight between forces of that shimmering bon mot of “Change” and their dastardly opponents in the dread “Party of No”. Would that there was a measurable distinction between the current teams of the organized spectator sport called American politics. But there isn’t. The teams go back and forth, up and down the field between commercial breaks and the end result is somewhere around $400,000.00 in debt in unfunded liability for every household in the good old U.S.A.. If you don’t know what “unfunded liability” is, just take out your atlas and locate the page depicting the District of Columbia.

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