March 4, 2015

RJ Eskow's post on the fictional House of Cards "America Works" program really must have touched a nerve, especially with Neil Cavuto.

In response to Eskow's post about real issues in our real government as viewed through the lens of fiction (helped along by a Third Way consultant or two), Cavuto lost his cookies, making wild claims and insisting that it was all just fiction anyway so why did Eskow bother?

But that doesn't stop Huffington contributor Richard Eskow from getting really riled.

The senior fellow at something called, "Campaign for America's Future," takes fictional President Underwood's "America Works" program to task.

Quoting here, "the greatest deceptions on 'House of Cards' can be found in the misleading arguments, presented as ‘truth,' which suggest that cutting ‘entitlements' is a necessity and raising taxes isn't even an option. "

Richard you're a great writer, but it's a TV show. It's not real. And Underwood? He's not really president.

But Neil, you missed that tiny little twist in the plot, where the consultant for that episode was Jim Kessler, Third Way's founder. Here's a sample of an article Kessler co-wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2013, entitled "Economic Populism Is a Dead End for Democrats".

Social Security is exhibit A of this populist political and economic fantasy. A growing cascade of baby boomers will be retiring in the coming years, and the Social Security formula increases their initial benefits faster than inflation. The problem is that since 2010 Social Security payouts to seniors have exceeded payroll taxes collected from workers. This imbalance widens inexorably until it devours the entire Social Security Trust Fund in 2031, according to the Congressional Budget Office. At that point, benefits would have to be slashed by about 23%.

I suppose I shouldn't mention Republicans' efforts to hijack Warren's economic populist message in 2015, should I? But beyond that, this paragraph right here? It was written straight into the script of House of Cards. Not verbatim, but the same message: Don't you dare take a penny from rich folks to help the middle class.

Neil, that just isn't fiction. It's real. So take some reality and inject it into a popular entertainment venue like Netflix' House of Cards, and suddenly it's not as much fiction as it is messaging.

I suppose I could forgive Cavuto for failing to note the words "real-life" in Eskow's title. After all, that would be too much like reading and being intellectually honest. Reading is good. Reading comprehension is better.

Damn that President Underwood! And his damning cuts. And his throwing millions of seniors into poverty and desperation!

Damn him all to hell!

Fiction, my foot! I think Richard's onto something.

Or maybe just on something.

Because last time I checked.

This is just something a fake character is discussing on a fake show that not even on that fake show has a serious chance of passing.

After all, it's called ‘House of Cards' for a reason, it's fiction.

Not at all to be confused with our financial house of cards.

Which is real. Very real.

Neil Cavuto understands in very real terms that when something doesn't have a chance of passing today, the best way to ensure it passes tomorrow is to bake it into popular fiction that young people consume.

Spare us all the Fox News concern trolling about whether RJ Eskow can tell fact from fiction and understand the more urgent message: They can lie to you on the news and they can lie to you in a script. Both are lies, just delivered in different forms.

I don't think Neil read to the end of RJ's article:

I’d like to think that the producers used a corporate “Third Way” Democrat as a consultant because it suits Frank’s character. He’s amoral and incapable of empathy, after all, which does arguably make for a good fit. That doesn’t seem to be their motivation.

As an audience we’re asked to believe that Frank Underwood has been liberated from the petty restrictions of conventional minds and sees the “truth.” But it’s a lie, packaged as truth and peddled by “House of Cards.” Why? A wise politician once spoke of a “conspiracy of shared values,” and that may be all there is to this story.

Whatever the motivations, it’s a deception nonetheless. And since everybody in Washington watches the show, it’s a potentially destructive one.

Frank Underwood is a liar, thief, and murderer. Sure, we can all enjoy the show if we want. But let’s not join Frank, or Netflix, or “House of Cards” as they try to push America’s seniors in front of a train.

(transcript via Fox News)

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