Monday, May 12, 2008


Having to rely on a 17-year-old for most non-typing online assistance, I won't pretend to comprehend most aspects of Web interaction. But recently, after watching a brain-freezing amount of Bloggingheads-TV, I can say this: the suffocating political culture of cable chatter has made the shift online, and I pray to Kali that it is a temporary affliction, though my spider sense tells me the opposite.

Now, I realize that I'm a relative latecomer to this dreary party, which carbon dates me in real time; yet once exposed to Bloggingheads, time itself slows to a virtual crawl, and you wonder how such a lumbering beast continues to draw slow breaths. All right -- I know the reason: Bloggingheads is yet another media gate being watched and kept by those who control political discourse. It is a 7-Eleven of received opinion where pre-chewed tropes are always on special. Liberal versus Conservative, that late-20th century media concept, smothers acceptable topics as the B-heads compete to see who can first put viewers asleep, or at least lull them into glazed stupors. You won't hear any political or social opinion that would offend a Time editor or MSNBC segment producer. The participants understand and accept this arrangement -- the price of admission -- and so drone on and on about the present American condition, or at least what passes for it in their blogheads.

A recent exchange that prepped me for a nice nap occurred between Rick Perlstein and David Frum as they pondered the effects of the ongoing Democratic primary season. Is it hurting or helping the Party? Frum believed that the mules may very well blow the general election, which he already conceded to the Dems, based on whom the GOP coughed up. Perlstein, weird frozen smile in place, saw both sides of the question, a little of this, a sprinkle of that, while Frum grimaced and did his best to appear tortured. Neither shed new light on the topic, and I doubt that was ever on the agenda. How interesting would it be if someone, oh, I don't know who, answered:

"Well, I hope the primary season does hurt the Democratic Party, or at least wounds it enough so we can track it down and seal-bat it into submission once and for all. Once that's done, we can then turn on the GOP, which shouldn't be hard, given its unbalanced nominee and the Party's weakened state.

"HA! Just kidding! I mean, what would we do without our major parties? Why, sites like this would be obsolete! That won't do. Besides, the big money will paper over any intra-party differences or weaknesses, as the parties are corporate power's political wing, so us even broaching the idea of primary-related damage is a complete waste of time, at least until the food riots begin stateside. Maybe then we'll have something to 'chew over,' eh? Oh yeah!"

One suggestion: Since blophead discourse is so dreary and predictable, why not spice up the visuals a taste -- maybe extremely large cowboy hats, bobble-eye glasses, or some plasma-screen backdrop of random images: dachshunds jumping through flaming hoops; wheelchair basketball in torrential rain; Bollywood go-go dancers dodging sniper fire; praying mantis cannibalism; time-lapse montages of melting ice caps, small towns collapsing into irradiated dust, expanding poverty, rising garbage dumps, white phosphorus on dark skin, with Nuremberg rallies, party conventions, and gay MILF porn flashing subliminally throughout. What better way to make extended gas tax talk entertaining?