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CBS goes Soviet

On CBS's The Early Show this morning there was a piece on Bush's uncharacteristic trip to Capitol Hill to promote his new terror bill, which was billed by CBS as "giving President Bush the tools he needs to fight the War on Terror." There followed a video-tour of Guantanamo interrogation chambers, complete with reclining la-Z-boys for prisoners. Then it was reiterated that the bill would give prisoners "more rights."

This shit is straight out of the Soviet propaganda playbook. The la-Z-boy was the touch I appreciated most, because it was so-o-o-o-o ridiculously OTT it gave the whole report an in-your-face, tongue-in-cheek feel. This is how truly contemptuous the government and the media are of the public. That the military could show the media to a room with a plush la-Z-boy, claim prisoner's are wined and dines during their casual Q-n-A's, and the media would present it as fact. It's the Daily Showization of "real" news. It would be comical if not for the fact that the continued atrocity of Gitmo is one of the best recruiting tools terrorists have got.

The truth is, the Bush administration needs no help with this sort of thing. The GOP has proven deft at pushing through legislation at the eleventh hour and using opposition to it against Democrats in tight races. That's why Bush is making so much noise right now, instead of clearing brush at Crawford. The media wouldn't even bother to cover the vote if he wasn't pointing the way for them.

Now they're helping him whitewash the bill as a tool against terror, instead of a future tool for terrorists. And any Democrats who oppose it will risk being seen as soft on terror. You've just got to wonder how many times the GOP can pull this off.


CBS: Rush Limbaugh afraid Islamo-fascists are going to take away his Viagra, etc.

I'm not too impressed by CBS's retooled Evening News with Katie Couric. There are many reasons not to be impressed, in fact. Chief among them is probably Couric herself. That CBS is blowing its own horn for hiring the first female nightly news host on Network TV, when Cable News has been completely overrun by them for years, doesn't seem forward-thinking at all, but sadly retrograde.

And it shows what a heaping load Americans are dishing out and tucking into these days. I mean, Africa is more forward-thinking than we are when it comes to female heads of state. We haven't even had but one President who wasn't a frickin WASP. And we like to think of ourselves as the most advanced democracy on the planet, where anyone can come out of nowhere and end up in the oval office someday. Yeah, right.

One of the more depressing new features CBS Evening News is touting is their "Free Speech" segment, which has so far been a nightly iteration of various national cliches. That they are giving time to Rush Limbaugh in some attempt to seem balanced is ... I don't know what to call it, really. I mean, Limbaugh already has a venue to spout his nonsense. You know what he's going to say before he says it.

But like I said, that's what the high-speed "Free Speech" segment is really about. It's a little like the Bush administration placing enemies of good government in high government posts in the hopes that they will utterly destroy our faith that the government can do good by not trying to. You know, "heck of a job, Brownie!"-style. And Bush meant it. When your goal is to destroy people's hope and faith in the very possibility of good government, FEMA's utter failure in the wake of Katrina was a rip-snorting success!

Same logic applies to CBS's version of "free speech." If speech like this is free, I might be willing to fork out for speech in the future. Pay-per-Speech can't be far off.

Another thing that cracked me up on Monday -- Katie's big debut -- was the lead story by Lara Logan, about her travels with the Taliban. It was downright burlesque. Here she's traveling with the Taliban and griping that they're making her wear a veil. At one point she tells us, snearingly, "they made me cover everything but my eyes." And then she snaps at one of them, "Well, am I allowed to smile?" NO! BITCH! It's THE TALIBAN! That's WHY they're the freakin Taliban! And what is there to smile about anyway? I mean, WHAT IS YOUR POINT? CBS should have sent Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. It would not have been much different in the end, but at least it would have been more amusing.

Then she reaches the end of her journey into the heart of darkness, they show these ragtag Taliban "brazenly showing off their weapons." It seriously could have been something from The Daily Show.

Then -- and this is the last thing I'll say about CBS Evening News -- they showed part of a speech of Bush's from earlier that day where he parrotted his evil overlords' WWII analogies by comparing Bin Laden & Co. with Hitler and Stalin. And CBS took it upon themselves to helpfully illustrate the point by splitting the screen in three, showing Bush still giving his speech on the left of the screen, and Hitler and Stalin on the right. I'm not sure I see any kind of statement being made with it, but I could be wrong.


Is it a coincidence that as elections near Mr. Bush is hammering home his be-very-afraid message again? He has been quoting Osama so often lately you'd be forgiven for thinking the two were in league -- running mates, even.

We can now see very plainly why Osama was allowed to slip away at Tora Bora. He was extremely useful to Mr. Bush in the last election, with a well-timed video, and you can see how Mr. Bush is relying heavily on him to win elections for the GOP this time around, too.

And I'm not just talking about endless speeches where Bush is unabashedly using Bin Laden as a bogeyman. Instead of seeing the fact that America's arch-nemesis slipped away as a point of shame, the President is very nearly taunting Americans with his supposed enemy's continued existence. Given this administration's penchant for fear-mongering at pivotal moments, it would almost seem strange if there weren't a "new" video released to coincide with Mr. Bush's latest terror blitz.

Indeed, now we have the release of a "new" video -- from FIVE YEARS AGO -- showing Bin Laden and his troops training for terror attacks. Yawn. Reruns AGAIN? The message here is clearly "don't forget, you're supposed to BE VERY AFRAID."

It resonates with a lot of people, no doubt about it. But it's such an unimaginative solution to the problems of an open society. There is a threat. It's real. That's not the issue here, though. The issue is to what degree it is being exploited for political and financial gain by those in positions to exploit it for such. And it's perfectly clear that it is being pretty shamelessly exploited by Mr. Bush and his cohorts.

I'm not saying anything everybody doesn't know. It's a formula. When the Communist bugaboo disappeared -- poof -- just like that, America was like the Red Sox after The Curse was reversed. We didn't know what to do with ourselves. Someone said it was The End of History. Nothing left to do but sit and twiddle our thumbs.

Terror is terror. You can't "win" a "War on Terror" by actively perpetuating terror, as this administration has done, and continues to do. But are we really terrified? The President seems a little desparate, doesn't he? I suspect we are not terrified enough for him.