Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Is Reality the New Reality?

Last week I trashed the Boston Globe for burying the story of the Iraqi family of 12 killed by a U.S. bomb, and along with it the news that the U.S. has ramped up a major air war in Iraq. (You might think that minor detail would be of interest to at least as many readers as there are loyal followers of Mallard Filmore.) Today Bryan Bender had a well-done, front page, headline story on exactly that, which featured forthright coverage and a photo of the Baiji incident, and analysis by experts of the inevitable consequences of bombing, including death and maiming of the innocent. Once again, the awesome power of Stayin' Alive? More likely, a lot of readers pointed out the minor omission, or maybe Bryan Bender and/or his editors actually decided to notice it all on their own.

But this suggests some questions about reality and the shadow play that appears to the public. It's one thing for the Boston Globe, and other corporate media, to finally start to own up to the realities of the Iraq atrocity, but is it really possible that Alberto Gonzales's Department of Justice is now reality-based when it comes to the vast criminal conspiracy known as the Republican Party?

We are encouraged to believe that it is, when it comes to Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, and their as-yet-unnamed-but-we-all-know-who-they-are co-conspirators. Then there's Patrick Fitzgerald, who is ostensibly an independent counsel, but he's only quasi-independent. He's also a U.S. Attorney and he reports to Dark Prince Alberto in his day job. Given that the DoJ, like the rest of the federal government, is staffed at the top levels by 100% fierce Republican loyalists and professional GW Bush ass kissers, why would any sane person expect any of these investigations to get more than two squares past Go?

The optimistic interpretation is that career civil servants in the DoJ are doing their jobs, without fear or favor, and Prince Alberto just doesn't have a way of stopping them without compounding the embarassment and causing uncontainable public outrage. (Viz. Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre, which backfired.) There is some support for that interpretation in recent history. Civil servants in the CIA, the military, the State Department, and the NSA have leaked information to the press over the past several years which, in a real democracy, would already have ended the Bush administration and one-party rule in the U.S. But DoJ staffers have a power that the leakers don't, the substantive power to prosecute.

Still, I have to say that if these investigations are ultimately allowed to penetrate to the heart of darkness, I'll have to readjust the dials on my cynicism module.

No comments: