There are no major stories to cover, but lots of seemingly minor ones that all point to major trends in the works. Let’s start with the news that the Heritage Foundation is "censoring" pro-surveillance material coming out of that policy-wonk factory: yes, you heard me, although "censoring" is Politico reporter Josh Gerstein’s phraseology. Funny, but we never heard about "censorship" of any anti-surveillance, pro-civil liberties views in all the years of the Bush administration, or anywhere at any time for that matter. Gee, I wonder if this means Gerstein and/or Politico have a certain bias when it comes to matters such as these. Ya think?
In any case, the kerfluffle seems to be over former US Senator and now Heritage president Jim DeMint’s decision not to publish a paper by former Bush administration legal mavens Steven Bradbury and the evil David Addington, which – surprise! surprise! – came to the conclusion that government spying on practically everyone is perfectly "legal." Forget the Fourth Amendment – the Bushian concept of the "unitary presidency," like the old absolutist dogma of "divine right of kings," trumps everything. According to Shane Harris over at Foreignpolicy.com, however, the "anti-surveillance" stance taken by DeMint and Heritage isn’t a "traditional conservative position," and – scarier still – it indicates that the fears of "mainstream Republicans" who have been "fretting" deMint would "turn the prominent conservative thinktank into a political proxy for the most extreme elements of the GOP" have been proved right.
According to Harris, those evil "debt-deniers" (that’s a new one!) and "defund-Obamacare die-hards" who "propelled" Harris’s beloved federal government into a shutdown (except the drones were still flying) "have found a political, if not quite intellectual center of gravity at Heritage." Not quite intellectual enough for the scholarly Harris, a recipient of the military contractor’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize: the Gerald R. Ford Prize for national security reporting. Coincidentally, Harris is also associated with the New America Foundation, the Obama administration’s favorite foreign policy thinktank.
Ten or so paragraphs later, in which various assorted neocons vent their rage, Harris delivers the considered judgment of Those In The Know on the revamped and "radicalized" Heritage: "The lunatics have taken over the asylum."
Only "extreme elements of the GOP" want to rein in Obama’s spymasters – except that these "extremists" constitute the majority of the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose the NSA’s invasion of their privacy. Oh, but you see, they don’t count: the only people who matter are all those Very Serious People in Washington, D.C., which – as we all know – is the Center of the Universe.
And Foreignpolicy.com, which has now erected a pay wall, wants to charge readers for this pitiful propaganda. Now that’s what I call chutzpah.
Yes, things are opening up in Washington, where the Georgetown cocktail party circuit has been besieged by populist peasants with pitchforks ever since the country rose up against their plans for a new war in Syria. Having had the field to themselves all these years, they are miffed – and, well, angry – that those yahoos out in the cornfields have suddenly awakened and put a stop to their fun. And their anger is being channeled by their biggest enablers and collaborators, the so-called national media, which is determined to put those "extremist" "debt-deniers" (which is kinda like a Holocaust-denier, you see, only it really isn’t) in their proper place.
And of course Buzzfeed, known for stuff like "21 Reasons Why Miley Cyrus Isn’t Wearing Any Underwear" (not an actual Buzzfeed story but – admit it – you thought it was) is doing its part. How else can they keep getting all that moolah from big corporate investors?
Their latest contribution: a "news story" by my favorite Buzzfeed reporter, Rosie Gray, known for her intrepid trailing of Justin Bieber through Manhattan’s least fashionable clubs, on Rep. Jerry Nadler’s complaint that former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer testified before a congressional committee.
So what’s the big deal? According to Nadler-speaking-through-Rosie, Scheuer isn’t nearly pro-Israel enough for such an honor. Why, he’s even called for cutting off the $3.5 billion we hand over in tribute to Tel Aviv every year. Oh well, at least he’s not a "debt-denier"!
Hilariously, as evidence of Scheuer’s alleged "extreme views," Gray links to this account of the exchange between Scheuer and wacko Rep. Peter King (R-IRA):
"’If it was up to me I’d dump the Israelis tomorrow,’ Scheuer said. ‘All I worry about is the continuing preaching of American politicians to the American people that our relationship with the Israelis doesn’t cause us to have dead Americans and extraordinary expenses in fighting the Muslim world.’
"Interrupting Scheuer, King said that he believed the opposite…. ‘I think there’d be more of a cost if we stopped what we’re doing,’ King said.
"Scheuer told King that he was not the person to debate this, since as a member of the Republican party he was ‘presiding over a bankruptcy,’ referencing the current fiscal crisis. ‘What can be worse? And what has been the goal of al-Qaida since it was formed? To bankrupt the United States. Who’s winning today, sir? We’re done like dinner.’"
The US, said Scheuer, has been defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is news to King, who lives in an alternate universe where they did shower us with rose petals. King “shot back” – as the story Rosie linked to on Hamodia.com, "the daily newspaper of Torah Jewry," put it – with:
"We’re winning and we’ll continue to win, unless we take the advice of people like you."
I guess it was one of those news-less days where Rosie had to take dictation from her local congressman in order to come up with some copy, but Buzzfeed has a record of missing the real buzz: when she contacted me for a story on the antiwar movement just before a massive campaign nixed the administration’s war plans in Syria, I told her that groups like Young Americans for Liberty and Freedomworks were taking up where the pro-Obama "left" had left off – but none of that made it into her story. Instead, she declared the antiwar movement "dead" – a few days before they scored a major triumph.
Better luck next time, Rosie. Perhaps Bieber-ology is a better terrain for you than foreign affairs.
Oh, but I shouldn’t be too hard on Rosie: after all, she’s only 23, and still learning her trade, yet another underpaid shill toiling away in the bowels of what passes for the "mainstream" media.
The Mainstream Media has a big problem, these days, akin to the central conundrum of real estate: location, location, location. All of these Big Outlets are centered in the twin loci of evil, New York City and Washington. Their problem is that what passes for "mainstream" opinion in New Yawk has zero to do with what the rest of the nation is thinking. Indeed, only by inverting public opinion in the Big Rotten Apple (and its Washington suburb) can you approximate American opinion in the country at large. The sprawling ugly metropolises of the Northeast are, in an important sense, a different country – and not only that, they are located in a hostile foreign country which seeks to impose its will on the rest of us.
Barry Goldwater was dead right in averring that we’d all be much better off if only we could saw off the Eastern seaboard and let it drift away into the Atlantic, never to be seen or heard from again.
The times they are a changing, as somebody once sang, and the Establishment hates it: they’re fighting back, with their Praetorian Guard in the media leading the charge. But will it be enough to push back the rising tide of those peasants with pitchforks gathering in the shadow of Power even as I write, waiting for their moment to strike?
"May you live in interesting times" is an ancient Chinese curse, and it applies here in spades: recent events are a veritable nightmare for the Establishment, but for those of us who have been challenging the interventionist foreign policy consensus all these years, these are exciting times indeed. So get out the popcorn, pull up a chair, and let the show begin!
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).