Murdoch’s Cuckoo’s Nest



The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page is the ideological headwaters for far-right fanaticism in the US. It is less of a forum for open debate than it is a breeding ground for noxious ideas that undermine democratic institutions. Every day, there’s a whole new slate of extremist opinion pieces defending one absurdity or another. Typically, the articles focus on the two issues of primary importance to all conservatives; war and taxes. It’s astonishing how many variations there are on the same hackneyed theme.

Conservatives are naturally distrustful of ideas, so they’ve created a platform where they can couch their reactionary views in academic-sounding jargon without any real attempt at upgrading social policy. There appears to be an endless reservoir of Reagan-era “supply side” zealots and think-tank windbags who are more than eager to promote the topic-du jour, whatever that may be. By using right wing celebrities as their standard-bearers, the WSJ is able to elevate the most mundane, nonsensical arguments to a level of respectability. And that’s the objective—to make hard-nosed, narrow-minded chauvinism look like enlightened policy.

Typically, the editorials take aim at any regulation which restricts industry or any law which protects the citizen. Articles are chosen on the basis of how they appeal to a small group of corporate mandarins whose views about “how the world should be organized” are nearly identical. In other words, it is an “echo chamber” for the investor class. That’s why liberals should pay attention. The men who currently run the world are not shy about revealing what they have in mind for the rest of us. Isn’t it worth the price of a subscription to find out what that is?

In the last few days the WSJ has run articles defending Exxon against the $2.5 billion punitive damages that were ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for its massive oil spill in Alaska nearly 2 decades ago. They’ve run another tiresome apology for Judge Robert Bork, the alleged victim of a left-wing witch hunt. They’ve provided a lawyerly defense of the Marines who went on the “killing spree” in Haditha; another promotion for the extortionist World Bank, an emotional plea to “Save the Bush Tax Cuts”, and, of course, an over-the-top 1500 word thesis on why “Victory Is Within Reach In Iraq” by neocon nutcase Michael Ledeen.

On Monday, October 22, the WSJ ran an article by David Rivkin, “Getting Serious about Torture”, which essentially defends the “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment of terror suspects by pointing out the relative nature of these terms. (Isn’t it odd that questions related to torture never came up before Bush took office?)

As Rivkin says, “The words cruel, inhuman and degrading, whether or nor a particular interrogation method shocks the conscience depends very much on the circumstances.”

Sure, David, it’s all relative, isn’t it? How about “eye gouging”; is that okay, too?

Remember when conservatives used to rail against “moral relativism”? At the time, it seemed like a matter of principle. Now we can see that it was just empty posturing.

At the end of his article Rivkin reminds us that, “There is no free lunch. Coercive interrogations have been key in preventing post 9-11 attacks on American soil.”

Indeed. Sounds like a pretty spirited defense of torture to me. Am I missing something?

No theory is too whacky or obscene for the WSJ’s editorial page as long as it conforms to the far right mind-set of its readership. For just one dollar, anyone can take a seat in the enemy’s camp and listen in. Sounds like a bargain to me.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com



MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

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