They say if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump right out. But if you put it into a pot of cozy, lukewarm water, and then slowly turned up the heat, it will just sit there, even as the water boils. It will then be too late for escape, and froggy is cooked.
It must have astounded the first Greek or whoever it was who examined this theory in practical application that it actually worked. And then, the broader metaphor might have occurred to them: gee you might be able to fool human beings in a similar fashion. Like frogs, they sometimes tend not to pay attention, especially with the help of distractions whether it be scrambling to pay for gas, or keeping up with the Lohans.
And by the time the “water boils”, as it were, it’s, of course, too late.
So, most recently it seems to me, Americans got placed in lukewarm water in December of 2000 with the infamous Bush v Gore case. Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia declared, before the case was deliberated, “Counting the votes would threaten irreparable harm to petitioner [Mr. Bush], and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to the legitimacy of his election. [Italics mine]. Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires.”
In other words, the federally protected “civil rights” being violated in Bush v. Gore were those of Gov. George Bush, and Scalia concluded that before the case was heard!
Eight Bloody Years Later
So, even as the heat was being slightly elevated in the pot, the collective “we” – including such liberals as later murdered Senator Paul Wellstone – let such a bizarre and disturbing statement go by without so much as a WTF??? Eight bloody years later, Justice Scalia has suggested, on Sixty Minutes no less, that we “get over it.”
While many of us will, of course, never get over Bush v. Gore (including, sadly a lot of dead and wounded soldiers and Iraqis and Katrina victims), the problem is, most of America “got over it” pretty quickly in 2000. Many of these are what Jonathan Alter referred to as “underinformed Americans”, but many were simply people who have a childlike faith in America and its institutions, guided by the misguided “follow the rules” approach of Al Gore’s concession. With that concession, the neocons boldly knew they could get away with just about anything without a whimper.
And most assuredly, they have. And it all connects from Scalia’s pronouncement to the right-wing poseur Palin’s acceptance.
In another era, there was of course the egregious Watergate scandal, but the Presidents’ Men didn’t get away with it. They got away with plenty, but not that. Well, things have changed. Beginning with Bush v. Gore, a whole new cast of characters has taken the stage. Commonly called neocons, they learned their lessons from Nixon, Vietnam and other slip ups.
One lesson they learned was the astounding, and yet, useful, ability to fool just enough of the people all of time. Their schemes and scandals have become more and more brazen, just as the heat in the frog pot has been ratcheted higher and higher – and yet they must amaze themselves how easily they get away with the their deadly shenanigans without a whimper. There may or may not be an explanation for this: the inundation of the world of Play Stations, iPods, right wing radio, and of course Britney’s lack of panties on the Internet.
Pandering to the Right
Back to 2000, and perhaps a reason why there weren’t pitchforks and torches in the streets, the naïve thinking was: how bad could this Bush guy be? Wouldn’t he be chastened by this virtual tie for the presidency, and govern from the center? After all, he had been painted as a “compassionate conservative”. He did pander to the religious freaks by declaring “Jesus Christ” was his political hero. So yes there were warnings, but surely there would be a sense of fair play, especially when faced with the fact that fully 51% of the nation had voted against him.
You could almost hear Karl Rove and the other neocons in their glee. They had pulled a rabbit out of the hat like the most inept magician at the smallest high school fundraiser, and most Americans STILL hadn’t noticed, or noticed and didn’t believe their lyin’ eyes.
It was on.
They simply will lie and those who don’t believe the lies are marginalized – by yet another set of lies (“liberal media” being one).
The heat in the pot was consistently turned higher and higher, and America has simply sat in the water.
And with 9/11, they realized the Constitution itself could go down without a whimper – again, following the frog-in-pot model, one word, one phrase, one clause at a time.
And ever since 9/11, with the Americans in the pot scared shitless, they could turn the gas up to “medium high”. So breathtakingly brazen has been the work of these people that even when the illegalities have been accepted as fact, there’s not a peep. George Bush even ridiculed himself “looking for weapons of mass destruction” (the pretext for invading Iraq) at a press banquet.
He could make these jokes knowing no one is going to march, and have the World Court investigate, or file Articles of Impeachment.
Scalia to Palin Timeline
Here’s the “Bridge to Oblivion” timeline, from Scalia to the specter of Sarah Palin as potential President:
- 2000 – Scalia’s pronouncement that Bush’s “civil rights are being violated”.
- 2001 – Bush the hero. Despite Bush not paying attention, despite the horrific events of 9/11 happening on his watch, Bush was not only not chastised by an adoring press, but he was branded a manly hero as he stood on the rubble with his bullhorn. And frog in the pot applauded.
- 2002 – getting war permission — Following 9/11, using fear, the Bushites decided that Iraq was the logical target of war “for national security”, and cowed a number of Democrats, led by Tom Daschle, in an “October surprise” to join the call to make war with Saddam Hussein. Not only did they get the war permission, they were able to roll over Democrats in the mid term election two weeks later, including Daschle, using the “fear” card – or the more widespread use of Diebold voting machines because Florida’s “hanging chads” were demonized. This was the election in Georgia where Vietnam veteran and triple amputee Sen. Max Cleland was compared to Osama bin Laden, and was defeated. And Georgia’s entire populace voted by machine.
- 2003 – the invasion of Iraq and aftermath. They used World War II “comparisons” to sell the war, “imbedded” journalists with the troops to avoid adverse publicity, and even had the vaunted New York Times cheerleading. People were arrested and thrown into prison camps, without due process, or “renditioned” to torture states. The Iraq army was disbanded, and set in place were contracts to Halliburton and others for post-invasion profiteers. And don’t forget General Shinseki’s admonition before congress that we needed 500,000 troops. He was written off as a kook, and retired. All of this went by, as Rumsfeld called the birth of democracy “messy”.
- 2003 – the outing of Valerie Plame - The pot’s heat was bumped up another notch, keeping in step with the incredible reveal of a working CIA agent, in retribution for her husband’s reporting that there was no uranium deal between Niger and Iraq, as expressed in Bush’s State of the Union address. This is a crime of treason that went by with a yawn. Nobody was called to account, except loyalist “Scooter” Libby who was later basically pardoned. An outrage.
- 2003 – “Mission Accomplished” - It was absurdist political theatre complete with Bush and his bulging cod piece. The President who skipped out on his Vietnam-era duties dramatically lands on an aircraft carrier, and declares victory in Iraq. He was proved to be wronger than wrong, but never held to account. Thousands have died in the intervening five years.
- 2004 – Abu Ghraib and the stolen election - During an election year, it was reported Americans were torturing Iraqi prisoners, and there were photos. It was easily dismissed as rambunctious non-coms acting out like frat boys (and girls), by the “press”, by willing politicians, by go-along military people. Those military people who disagreed were marginalized. And the Democrats were accused of “politicizing” the matter. YAWN, goes frog-in-pot. Ratchet up the heat. And then there was the election of 2004. Remember the 14-hour voter lines in Democratic districts in Ohio, and the utterly partisan secretary of state (Kenneth Blackwell)? Clearly the election was stolen, Ohio went to Bush, and he was re-elected. In other precincts around the country, there was a wild variance between “exit polls” and the election results, which had never happened in the history of such polling. And Kerry went down without a whimper.
- 2005 – Katrina and Terri - How horrific was the response to Katrina? What was behind it? Demonizing “state and local” (i.e. Democratic) officials, moving all the suffering black people from the 9th ward to parts all across the country, never to return and vote Democratic. And before that there was the ridiculous battle to keep Terri Schiavo on her feeding tube. Bush managed to interrupt his vacation, and fly across country to sign a blatantly unconstitutional bill, yet he could not later pay a visit to Katrina’s devastation and fix that. He fixed it all right, by not fixing it. The Democratic voters are now gone, and so is the Democratic governor. No whimper from the frog in the pot. The water is boiling now.
- 2006 – Surveillance – Again, using “national security” as an excuse, it was revealed Bush, with the help of telecom companies, has been spying on us. No whimper!
- 2007 – Democratic Congress - between the leadership of Pelosi and Reid, the thin majority, Republicans are able to block key legislation, and then declare the “Democrat” congress as “do- nothing”. No wonder they didn’t steal it again in ’06.
- 2007 – Iran saber rattling - All sorts of war preparations are underway in the Persian Gulf, Iran is being accused to supplying Shiite militants in Iraq (nevermind the Shiites are the ones that run Iraq), and there are reports of clandestine, and subsersive activity. After the utter Iraq failure, and astounding unpopularity, the Bushes are planning another war right in our faces.
- 2008 – Where the Bridge Leads: Palin – Now we come to Sarah Palin, clearly unaccomplished and without resume worthy of vice president (one 72 year old heart beat away from the White House). There are indications she is a complete ideologue, and a liar about her record as a “reformer” (she’s the Alaskan Queen of Ear Marks, supported the “Bridge to Nowhere” and in fact support disgraced Senator Ted Stevens, and is a member of a church at least as frightening as Jeremiah Wright’s). She is a pro-life extremist, vetoed aid to unwed mothers in her state, and wants only abstinence and creationism taught in schools. Yet the spin is that, because of her 2 years of “executive experience” as governor, she is “the most qualified candidate of all 4 combined!” Any critiques or explorations into her record are seen as “sexist”.
Just Tell Them You’re Mavericks
And now, she and McCain are now lying with vigor, running against their own party! Did Rove say to them, “just tell them you’re mavericks, you’re the real change agents, and the people will believe it – never mind the record – with help from the mainstream media.”?
And guess what? McCain and Obama are tied in national polls. Why? And so now the water boils, and the frog is smiling. Why?
The Scalia to Palin “Bridge to Oblivion” has been completed, and we have to drive on that bridge, or make a big detour – if that is possible. It is getting very, very warm. With fear of mixing metaphors, I must add the water has boiled over, and now, with the audacity of hope, the frog is figuring it out. Hopefully he’s not thoroughly cooked.
by Robert Illes
Robert Illes is an Emmy winning television writer and producer, currently developing series for Nickelodeon and TV Land. He is an LA native, and a graduate of USC, who lived in Sherman Oaks for 23 years before escaping to Santa Monica (but visits a lot). A member of Valley Democrats United, Bob is also an AirAmericaRadio freak, active in the Writers Guild mentor program, as well as the Democratic party, and is constantly Bush bashing, fighting for verifiable voting procedures, and fighting against Jerry’s Deli showing Fox News on their overhead TVs. What’s the matter with those people!?
Internet radio show “Funny is Money” starring Bob Illes is now on nightly at 7 PM Pacific time www.shokusradio.com CHECK IT OUT!
Reprinted with permission from the Valley Democrats United newsletter, Margie Murray, Editor, where the article first appeared.
Articles by Robert