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THE DECAY OF AMERICAN MEDIA — Patrick L. Smith on the decline and fall of American journalism; Peter Lee on China and its Uyghur problem; Dave Macaray on brain trauma, profits and the NFL; Lee Ballinger on the bloody history of cotton. PLUS: “The Vindication of Love” by JoAnn Wypijewski; “The Age of SurrealPolitick” by Jeffrey St. Clair; “The Radiation Zone” by Kristin Kolb; “Washington’s Enemies List” by Mike Whitney; “The School of Moral Statecraft” by Chris Floyd and “The Surveillance Films of Laura Poitras” by Kim Nicolini.
An Academic Hotshot Introduces a Petty Tyrant

Hell, Columbia

by JAMES McENTEER

"Before addressing our speaker, I have a few critical points to emphasize. First, just because we invite some nutcase here to sound off does not mean we endorse his ideas. Does the term political pressure’ mean anything to you people? Enough said. Second, to those who are offended by this guy and everything he stands for and wish we’d never asked him here or that he’d never been born, I couldn’t agree with you more completely.

"But as a noted free speech expert in a country that supposedly stands for freedom of speech, I didn’t really have a choice, okay? So stop with those nasty letters and that evil spam already. Third, if what this lunatic says offends you or causes you pain, I am truly sorry and wish I could lay some percodan on each and every one of you. Fourth … oh never mind. We scheduled it. We took heat for it. We didn’t want to appear to back down. So we’re going ahead with it. I just want you to know I really really don’t like it, okay?

"Now, let me turn to you, Mr. President. You have unfairly and without trial or any due process imprisoned hundreds of people. You have denied them counsel. You have allowed them to be tortured. You have committed wanton acts of violence against the populations of several countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

"You lied about your reasons for this violence. But millions of innocent civilians have died, or been wounded or become refugees thanks to your brutal, unjustified policies. Your misleading inept actions have now killed more Americans than Osama bin Laden or the terrorists of September 11. You are now officially the greatest mass murderer of the twenty-first century.

"We could have expected brutality from you. After all, you presided over more executions than any modern ruler of any state. Even the mentally incompetent are not immune from the system you call justice. The ones you don’t appoint to office you execute. Of course your own ascent to the presidency, abetted by your father’s judicial cronies, which the rest of the world rightly saw as a coup, was enabled by your own fawning media and your country’s one-party state. You are shameless, as your regime has been shameless, scornful of the rights of others, Americans and non-Americans alike.

"Let’s be clear, Mr. President. You exhibit all the signs of a cruel and petty dictator. You have no integrity, no credibility and no competence. You have said and your Congressional lackeys have agreed that Iran is supplying arms to your enemies in Iraq. Many people fear you will attack Iran, despite your failure to contain the chaos you have unleashed in Afghanistan or Iraq. To do so would be immoral and irresponsible. But of course, that is precisely your signature style.

"You spout lies. You conduct official business in secret. You spy on your own countrymen. You put anyone who questions your policies on your no-fly list and harass them. Why are you so afraid of American citizens expressing their opinions for change?

"Frankly and in all candor, Mr. President, I doubt you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes everything you say and do. I feel the weight of the modern civilized world, yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for.

"And so folks, without further doodoo, let’s put your hands together for that whacky dry drunk, that lyin’ murderin’ Christian himself, still beloved by 28 percent of us, that draft-dodging commander-in-chief and the illiterate leader of the free world himself, the son, the phony … "

[Drowned out by jeers]

JAMES McENTEER is the author of Shooting The Truth: The Rise of American Political Documentaries (Praeger, 2006).