Friday, December 31, 2010

The Wingnut Welfare Gravy Train Rolls On

Judith Miller, once of the lofty New York Times, is now a correspondent for ... wait for it ... Newsmax. You know, the conservative rag peddling black helicopter conspiracy theories funded by Richard Mellon Scaife. It’s only slightly more credible than WingNut Daily -- but not much.

This news has prompted me to wonder what happened to the rest of the Iraq War boosters.

• Dick Cheney and Halliburton narrowly skirted bribery charges in Nigeria by forking over a cool $250 million the day before Christmas:
Meanwhile, the Nigerians still wanted a pound of flesh, and because it appears to be easy for a multibillion-dollar energy company like Halliburton to throw money at problems, that's what they seem to have done. Halliburton and KBR will pay $32.5 million to the Nigerian government and $2.5 million to the Nigerian lawyers, and release some frozen assets in a Swiss bank account to the Africans. Total payout: about $250 million.

In return, Cheney, Halliburton, and KBR can walk away from the situation, and the Nigerians get even more than the original $180 million from the former vice president's company.

Remember: Halliburton and KBR already pled guilty to those $180 million bribery charges in a U.S. court. I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that someone is able to avoid jail time for bribing Nigerian officials with $180 million by .... paying Nigerian officials $250 million. Oh well, nothing to see here, move along folks ....

• Donald Rumsfeld is doing the rubber chicken circuit/book tour that is part of the Wingnut Wurlitzer. He (or, more likely, his publicist) has been teasing his pending memoir with coy Tweets which the neocons at the Wall Street Journal have been eating up like ice cream. When the book comes out it will be promoted heavily at conservative media outlets like, well, Newsmax, which frequently offers subscribers tomes such as this one at steep discounts. Neat how that works.

• John Bolton returned to his office at the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank, and in that capacity is spouting his nonsense on the Wingnut Wurlitzer. Serving just 16 months as United Nations ambassador -- too crazy even for Republicans like George Voinovich and John McCain, his nomination was filibustered and he was a recess appointment -- it seems the conservative media has found Bolton a useful stick to poke at the Obama Administration. His frequent criticism of things like the START treaty and defense spending cuts are dutifully reported across the Fox landscape. Falling upwards, indeed.

• The disgraced/disbarred Scooter Libby appears to have disappeared into a black hole, though with the new Valerie Plame flick soon to hit theaters, I’m sure someone will drag him out of his undisclosed location. The Wingnut Wurlitzer is always looking for fresh meat.

• Paul Wolfowitz always creeped me out. The whole comb-licking thing just made we want to throw up in my mouth. Forced to resign from the World Bank in 2007 after some serious ethics breaches were discovered, he has also joined his buddy John Bolton at the American Enterprise Institute as a “visiting scholar,” where at least one observer noted his lack of productivity. In his position he pens the occasional op-ed for papers like the London Times and Wall Street Journal, all part of the glorious Bush Administration Whitewash Campaign designed to protect the legacy of the most disastrous Administration in this country’s recent history.

If you’re detecting a pattern here, well, join the club. Conservatives through their “non-partisan (wink wink) think tanks” and established media outfits like Fox News and Newsmax are able to get their message out across the world. This is the Wingnut Welfare Gravy Train, where no fail is too big, no embarrassment too great, no policy too disastrous to keep the conservative family from closing ranks and enveloping their failed leaders in a warm, fuzzy embrace.

You can always go home again, if you’re a neocon wingnut (Scooter Libby being the sole exception). The American Enterprise Institute will give you a home and get your op-eds published in the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, London Times, New York Times, not to mention conservative outfits like the Weekly Standard. Your memoirs will be published and your name will be in the Rolodex of every Fox News booker. Your appearances on Hannity (and even the occasional network bobblehead show) are a given. This is how the legacy is protected, even promoted.

The right-wing has this established, well-funded infrastructure which assures the continued influence of people who by all rights should have been tossed away when they were discredited. I mean, you started a fucking war based on lies, misinformation, faulty intelligence. You were colossally wrong and people died and the national treasury was raided. We have spent and will spend trillions of dollars on your fuck-up. Some folks think you should be in jail; at the very least you should be kicked out of the club. But that’s not how it works in Wingnuttia.

Meanwhile, we’ve kicked Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod off Liberal Mountain for ... well, what, exactly? If these folks were conservatives their calendars would be full of speaking engagements, television appearances, and their op-eds would be in every influential newspaper in the English-speaking world. They’d be working on their memoirs and they’d have regular features in The New Republic and The Atlantic. But Google “Van Jones” and all you get are attacks from conservative blogs like Hot Air.

There simply is nothing comparable on the left to the Wingnut Wurlitzer. I don’t know why that is, except perhaps the perpetual myth about “liberal media” and so forth. I think this more than anything is the biggest challenge the left faces moving forward. And while I'm not the first to observe this, I can't for the life of me understand why no one has done anything about it. You can't win the argument if you can't even get your message out.