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How Low Have They Gone?

I never watch the dark place known as Fox News, but occasionally hearing what is going on there is unavoidable. I thought it was awful enough in the days of Ailes and O’Reilly, but it is apparently even worse now, to the point that one wonders what their long-term goal is.

One of their immediate goals is to create and embellish various stories designed to keep their viewers in a constant state of insurrectionary anger. They find something someone said, talk about it all day, attack the person relentlessly, no matter who he or she is. Every institution which most Americans once valued, are their targets. It is like there is this world that we observe, and then the one distorted through the prism of this network, which sends out propaganda every minute of the day.

Well, we all know this. But even so, it goes to beyond belief now. The new target is the American Armed Forces, the entity that the Right Wing always lauded, always said that the liberals were not supporting, because they wanted us to get out of Vietnam, or because they quoted President Eisenhower’s warning in his farewell address about the dangers of the “military-industrial complex.” We’ve had decades of people going around holding signs saying how much they support the troops. Which is not a bad thing, except that it was used as a propaganda wedge to paint liberals, Democrats, as against the armed forces, veritable traitors who wanted the Communists to win.

But now, Fox is leading the charge against the military. They don’t like that Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wants to study the issue of “White anger” among the military. They don’t like gays or transsexuals in the military. They think that “critical race theory,” whatever that is, is going to be taught there. So Laura Ingraham, who I somehow used to think was at least a reasonably intelligent Right-wing propagandist, actually said on TV that ‘unless this is fixed,” Congress should not appropriate one cent to the military.

Can you imagine if anybody on the liberal side said something like this in the last hundred years? What happened to “America, Love it or Leave it”? I don’t care if Ingraham is just putting on a show, or if she is actually serious, because she said it, to the several million people who watch Fox News every day. Either they stop the whatever it is; the self-assessment, the investigations into racism or other prejudices among the troops, or we must cut off all military funding.

That would of course mean that the military could not protect the country. We might be invaded by Honduras or Bolivia, and they could march right in and take over. Of course, there are all those ‘patriots’ with assault weapons, the kind of people who stormed our capitol last January, trying to overturn the results of the election, and kill elected officials. They could fight the Honduran troops, but somehow I do not think that they would. We would become a large satellite country under Honduran, or Bolivian, or Luxembourgian rule. But we would sure show those “woke’ military people!

Did you see Matt Gaetz, and why is he not arrested and being tried for sexual trafficking of minors, sneering at General Milley at a hearing? It is so tempting to dismiss all of it as just a show that the Radical Right puts on, to get donations, and rile up the anger among their people. And that would be bad enough, but I think it is worse. I think that these people have become addicted to being able to get people angry, and that they have within them a nihilism which makes anyone or anything that is not them, expendable.

I remember when the Tea Party people newly elected to Congress in the Obama Administration, said that they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling, unless Obama agreed to their demands. No Congress had ever refused to approve a raise in the debt ceiling, but they did. And most pundits thought that it was just some kind of new hard line negotiating tactic, but then they began to realize that it was not that they were serious. They were too stupid or too scorched earth to understand that not raising the debt ceiling would destroy the full faith and credit of the United States, and wreck the economy. Or they simply did not care.

“Burn it all down’ is a phrase we have heard over the years, but these people really mean it. I doubt that they have a vision of the kind of America they want, they just want to destroy all of the institutions, from the military, to the judiciary, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Center for Disease Control, the media that is not part of the Far Right. They are all “enemies of the people,’ the term that they appropriated from Hitler and Goebbels. They are engaged in “hoaxes” and “witch hunts,” i.e., telling them something they don’t want to hear or think about. So they are out to destroy them.

Now, it would seem obvious that Democrats should keep the tapes of Ingraham and Gaetz, and use them widely in their campaigning. “The Republicans want to defund our military!” “Republicans want to leave the United States and the American people undefended!” That’s what Ingraham said, after all. Let people know exactly what is coming out of their mouths and pens. They are the traitors, they are the fifth column, if you want to be dramatic about it, as they always are. Do not let them get away with tossing off these lines for ratings or rabble-rousing, hold them to the implications of what they say.

I actually don’t know what their goal is, or maybe they don’t think of it, they are just drunk on the power of propaganda, getting the masses to take up their weapons and do more insurrections, kill more people. I think that there is some vague notion they have of a religious-fascist state, where everything is controlled, people are told only what the state wants them to hear, and any deviation from the orthodoxy is met with severe punishment. Ron DeSantis is even now trying to investigate the teaching in Florida schools, eliminating any material which he and his forces deem objectionable. He also hid and lied about the numbers of fatalities due to Covid. He is a fascist; a well-dressed sometimes affable fascist, but no less dangerous for that. And he may well be the nominee of the Republicans in 2024.

The people who love to declaim about “liberty,” and “individual freedom,” actually want an authoritarian regime, because they think that it will let them do what they want to do, it would be on their side. They do not even have a first-grader’s understanding of how government works, they think that whatever person or body thwarts their desires, should just be eliminated, like they wanted the teachers to go away and let them have recess all day.

The deliberate diminishing of education in America, is having an effect; but it is ostensibly educated people like Ingraham and DeSantis who are leading the charge against rationality. Hopefully, the good guys can take advantage of this in the hoped-for free elections, but it is disconcerting, at the very least. And that is why they don’t want free elections, because they see them as just another inconvenient barrier to them getting their way all the time. Just like the military is to them now, so let’s get rid of them, too, and no one can stop them the next time they want to overrun the capitol building, and shoot and hang people. They must not have watched enough Westerns, or they actually identified with the outlaws and marauders. They thought that Will Kane should have run away before high noon, and let Frank Miller and his brothers shoot up the town.

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