Category Archives: Idiot America

Dancing With The Corpses

“If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose”

-Charles Bukowski

Kirstie Alley glided across the dance floor, shaking her stuff, her gracefulness belied her girth and made her the early favorite to become the new avatar of all that is right in America, Dancing With the Stars is finally back. ABC, learning a lesson after last season’s near fiasco when waves of Teabagger activists stormed the online polls and nearly voted Bristol Palin America’s as favorite dancing queen, potentially alienating millions of non-Sarah Palin worshippers. The redultant big ratings turd that would have been floated in the punchbowl had the less talented teenage birther of bastards been allowed to steal the title. Opting for a lineup of less politically divisive ‘stars’ this time around DWTS gave Americans just the sort of sweet, sweet spike of mental morphine delivered digitally through the electronic crackpipe. The two-minute hate directed at whore-mongering cokehead Charlie Sheen has abetted for at least the time being, Obama’s new war and the nuclear travesty in Japan stealing most of the airplay. Americans love this stuff, it’s one hell of a distraction, I am waiting for some savvy entrepreneur to contract out to the oligarchy and start manufacturing giant balloons of Sheen’s head to fill with helium and fly in front of gas station price signs. Such is life on the big star spangled lemming farm , where the inhabitants graze away placidly in front of their big screen living room gods while awaiting the big culling of the herd. 

Ordinary Americans you see can’t be bothered with the reality of the corporate wars waged under the big lie of spreading democracy and taking the fight to those who hate us for our freedoms and way of life. Truth is that we really aren’t as free as advertised (just take a good look around someday) nor is U.S. democracy any other thing than what H.L. Mencken once remarked as that “every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods”. Democracy in Der Heimat today is voting on American Idol and Dancing With the Stars, the real elections are nothing other than a Hobson’s choice between two compromised, corrupted and amoral charlatans who were chosen precisely because of these traits by the oligarchy. Elections in American you see are a win-win situation for the pigs that run the system, given a false sense of legitimacy by a naive, childlike belief that change can still be realized at the ballot box/electronic voting machine when the entire democratic process is an illusion in itself. Sure there are the standard cultural populist issues that pollute the ballot and ensure that the most enormously stupid and hateful among us show up in sufficient numbers so as to make it a good show but when it all comes down to it there is no substantial difference between America’s two rotten and irredeemably debased and venal political parties. There is really no substantive differences in the policies of the state itself no matter which party ‘wins’ control over the spoils system, the corporate giveaways only accelerate, impoverishing millions in the process, the police state continues to metastasize as the cancer on a once much more free society that it is and most importantly of all …the wars continue. Not that Americans want to hear about them rather than the standard idiotic jingoist hogwash smothered in patriotic bullshit, there are dancing and talent contests to watch, ballgames to enjoy and the daily Vulcan style mind meld with their beloved telescreens to continue uninterrupted by any sort of reality lest their exoskeleton of denial be punctured. 

Death Came From The Skies: In Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five the author uses the books of a fictional science fiction writer named Kilgore Trout to insert social commentary into his overall story. One of ‘Trout’s’ tales addressed the strange contradictions of a society that will accept with open arms one who kills civilians with state sanction during wartime while ostracizing one for silly, superficial reasons:

This, too, was the title of a book by Trout, The Gutless Wonder. It was about a robot who had bad breath, who became popular after his halitosis was cured. But what made the story remarkable, since it was written in 1932, was that it predicted the widespread use of burning jellied gasoline on human beings. It was dropped on them from airplanes. Robots did the dropping. They had no conscience, and no circuits which would allow them to imagine what was happening to the people on the ground.

Trout’s leading robot looked like a human being, and could talk and dance and so on, and go out with girls. And nobody held it against him that he dropped jellied gasoline on people. But they found his halitosis unforgivable. And then he cleared that up, and he was welcomed to the human race.

Vonnegut was actually present at Dresden on the night that allied bombers laid waste to the ‘Florence of the Elbe’, a historic city as well as a non-military target with little or no air defense system that was packed with refugees and prisoners and was targeted by bombers that incinerated over one hundred thousand civilians. Vonnegut spoke of seeing the boiled bodies of schoolgirls floating in a water tower through his character Billy Pilgrim and also of being forced to dig through the wreckage in the aftermath to find “corpse mines” and described the odor of the bodies:

“They didn’t smell bad at first…but then the bodies rotted and liquefied, and the stink was like roses and mustard gas”

He also spoke of a character, another soldier who died of the dry heaves from having to go down into a corpse mine and being overcome by the stench:

“He tore himself to pieces, throwing up and throwing up”

Dresden doesn’t get much mention when it comes to the history of the ‘good war’, neither does the decimation of the Japanese homeland by the fire-bombing of civilian areas. Before Fat Man and Little Boy were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima the land of the rising sun had been brought to it’s knees by a long-running series of B-29 incendiary bombings led by General Curtis LeMay a ruthless efficiency obsessed madman with the nickname of “Bombs Away LeMay”. LeMay led a withering series of bombings on 64 Japanese cities with the worst being the flaming hell from the skies unleashed on Tokyo on March 9-10, 1945 when nearly one hundred thousand human beings were incinerated. So intense was that bombing that according to one writer, Nicholas Von Hoffman, that the heat “boiled the water in lakes and ponds, cooking those who fled to safety there like human lobsters”. LeMay once said that “killing Japanese didn’t bother me very much at that time… I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal”. The murderous actions of the U.S. government against the non-caucasian enemy du jour in any of our great imperialist wars and conflicts including Barack Obama’s humanitarian bombardment of Libya as well as the financial windfall that the destruction of lives and infrastructure reap for the moneychangers and blood barters rarely if ever intrude on the consciousness of the masses of asses who couldn’t be bothered with the slaughter that is carried out on their taxpayer dime. Kilgore Trout’s’ The Gutless Wonder is a perfect metaphor for the apathetic and dumbed-down  philistines who allow for the murder of innocents to take place in their name as long as the reality doesn’t intrude upon their futile pursuit of happiness. I know people who regularly flock to local air shows when they take place every year to marvel at the military planes, drool over the displays of armaments, eat, drink and be merry with that one big disconnect from reality ensuring their pleasure. Aerial bombardment and cruise missiles are not only extraordinarily expensive but also representative of the sanitized killing and innate gutlessness of modern drone warfare where airstrikes can be launched from a distance in the comfort of air conditioned command centers by men with video screens and joysticks. Roger Waters accurately described it as the Bravery of Being out of Range:

In something more contemporary than World War II atrocities one needs only to read Chris Hedges’ latest gut-wrenching essay The Body Baggers of Iraq. In the piece, Hedges who is the preeminent moral voice in this feculent cadaver of a republic pulls back the red, white and blue bunting on the blessed glory of war that is revered by armchair patriots. He details the story of Jess Goodell, a worker in the Marine Corps Mortuary Affairs unit whose job was to “collect and catalog” the corpses and possessions of those poor, fucked-over “heroes” who paid the ultimate price so that Americans could remain free to be decadent, slothful, timorous, self-obsessed nitwits whose only Earthly purpose is to be ready to bare their jugulars whenever the monsters that are the corporate vampire class are ready to feed. The piece is not for anyone possessing either a weak stomach nor an animal instinct to remain in denial about the glamorous and noble nature of war that they have been sold through movies and television. War is a vile, stinking morass of human misery, blood, vomit, dead babies, shattered lives and those who have gotten obscenely wealthy and powerful in turning the filth, fury and soul-sucking degradation into just more revenue flows that they use to gamble in the markets on more defense stocks that feed the demon that can never be full enough of the gore and gold upon which it feeds. To once again quote the late, great Hunter S. Thompson..”All political power comes from the barrel of either guns, pussy, or opium pipes, and people seem to like it that way.” It has worked wonders for the psychotics who run this place now and while that precious nugget of real truth is an even bigger bout of skull-fuckery that is best left to the hard core truth-seekers and cynics…

But I digress….

The Body Baggers of Iraq is just awesome in it’s sustained intensity and you will never see anything even remotely resembling something like this in even the most ‘liberal’ bastions of the corporate propaganda system that serves as the media here in Fortress USA. I excerpt the following from that piece:

The unit processed about half a dozen suicides. The suicide notes, she said, almost always cited hazing. Women, she said, were constantly harassed, especially sexually, but it often did not match the systematic punishment and humiliation meted out to men who were deemed to be inadequate Marines. She said that Marines who were overweight or unable to do the physical training were subjected to withering verbal and physical abuse. They were called “fat nasties” and “shit bags.” The harassed Marines would be assigned to other individual Marines and become their slaves. They would be sent on punishing runs in which many of them vomited. They would be forced to bear-crawl—walk on all fours—the length of a football field and back. This would be followed by sets of monkey fuckers—bending down, grabbing the ankles, crouching down like a baseball catcher and then standing up again—followed by a series of other exercises that went on until the Marines collapsed.

“They make these Marines do what they call ‘bitch’ work,” Goodell said. “They are assigned to be someone else’s ‘bitch’ for the day. We had a guy in our platoon, not in Iraq but in California, and he was overweight. He was on remedial PT, which meant he went to extra physical training. When he came to work he was rotated. One day he was with this corporal or this sergeant. One day he was sent to me. I had him for an hour. I remember sending him outside and making him carry things. It was very common for them to dig a hole and fill it back up with sand or carry sand bags up to the top of a hill and then carry them down again.”

The unit was sent to collect the bodies of the Marines who killed themselves, usually by putting rifles under their chins and pulling the trigger.

“We had a Marine who was in a port-a-john when he blew his face off,” she said. “We had another Marine who shot himself through the neck. Often they would do it in the corner of a bunker or an abandoned building. We had a couple that did it in port-a-johns. We had to go in and peel and pull off chunks of flesh and brain tissue that had sprayed the walls. Those were the most frustrating bodies to get. On those bodies we were also on cleanup crew. It was gross. We sent the suicide notes home with the bodies.”

“One of the first convoys we went to was one where the Army had been traveling over a bridge and an IED had exploded,” she said. “It had literally shot a seven-ton truck over the side and down into a ravine. Marines were already going down into the ravine. We were just getting out of our vehicles. We were putting on our gloves and putting coverings over our boots. I was with a Marine named Pineda. I was coming around the Humvee and there was a spot on the ground that was a circle. I looked at it and thought something must have exploded here or near here. I went over to look at it. I looked in and saw a boot. Then I noticed the boot had a foot in it. I almost lost my lunch.”

“In the seven-ton truck the [body of the] assistant driver, who was in the passenger seat, was trapped in the vehicle,” she said. “All of his body was in the vehicle. We had to crawl in there to get it out. It was charred. Pineda and I pulled the burnt upper torso from the truck. Then we removed a leg. Some of the remains had to be scooped up by putting out hands together as though we were cupping water. That was very common. A lot of the deaths were from IEDs or explosions. You might have an upper torso but you need to scoop the rest of the remains into a body bag. It was very common to have body bags that when you picked them up they would sink in the middle because they were filled with flesh. The contents did not resemble a human body.”

The members of the mortuary unit were shunned by the other Marines. The stench of dead flesh clung to their uniforms, hair, skin and fingers. Two members of the mortuary unit began to disintegrate psychologically. One began to take a box of Nyquil tablets every day and drink large quantities of cold medicine. He was eventually medevaced out of Iraq.

“Our cammies would be stained with blood or with brains,” she said. “When you scoop up the meat it often would get on the cuffs of our shirts. You could smell it, even after you took off your gloves. We weren’t washing our cammies everyday. Your cuff comes to your face when you eat. Physically we were stained with remains. We had a constant smell like rotten meat, which I guess is what it was since often the bodies had been in the sun and the heat for a long time. The flesh had gone bad. The skin on a body in the hot sun slides off. The skin detaches itself from the layer beneath and slides around on itself.”

Her unit once had to recover two Marines who had drowned in a lake. It appeared one had leapt in to save the other. The bodies, which were recovered after a couple of days by Navy divers, were grotesquely swollen. One of the Marines was so bloated and misshapened that the body was difficult to carry on a litter.

“His neck was as wide as his bloated head, and his stomach jutted out like a barrel,” she writes in the book. “His testicles were the size of cantaloupes. His face was white and puffy and thick. Not fat, but thick. It was unreal. He looked like a movie prop, with thick, gray, waxy skin and the thick purple lips. We couldn’t stop looking at these bodies because they were so out of proportion and so disfigured and because, still, they looked like us.”

It was hardest to look into the faces of the dead. She and the other members of the mortuary unit swiftly covered the faces when they worked on the bodies. They avoided looking at the eyes of the corpses.

Once, the unit had to process seven Marines killed in an explosion. Seven or eight body bags were delivered to the bunker.

“We had clean body bags set up so we could sort the flesh,” she said. “Sometimes things come in with nametags. Or sometimes one is Hispanic and you could tell who was Hispanic and who was the white guy. We tried separating flesh. It was ridiculous. We would open a body bag and there was nothing but vaporized flesh. There were not four hands or a whole leg in a bag. We tried to distribute the mush evenly throughout the bags. We were trying to do the best we could sorting it out. We had the last body bag come in. We opened up the body bag and it was filled with the heads. I looked at four before looking away. Not only did we have to look at them, we had to pick them up and figure out who it belonged to. The eyes were looking back at us. We got used to a lot of it. But the heads worked the other way. They affected us more strongly as time passed. We saw on the heads the expressions of fright and horror. It made us wonder what we were doing here.”

She processed one Marine whose face was twisted at the moment of death by rage. The face of this Marine began to haunt her.

“I had this feeling that something awful had occurred,” she said. “The way he had come in and stiffened he had this look to his face that made my stomach curl. It looked angry. Often expressions on bodies would look fearful and hurt. The faces looked as though they had received death. But this face looked like he had given death.”

She and the other members of the unit became convinced they could feel and hear the souls of the dead Marines they had processed and housed in their reefers.

The pernicious nature of war not only destroys flesh and buildings, it destroys lives of those who survive and then must cope with the horrific and immoral acts that their government has ordered them to participate in. Those with a conscience like Goodell are haunted by the experience and are able to channel it into some sort of action that is redemptive, such as speaking out with the truth. Others, take for example Army Specialist Jeremy Morelock of Wasila, Alaska (how ironic) and the “Kill Team” who was just sentenced to 24 years in prison for his murdering for fun of Afghan civilians. While Morelock becomes the example and the sacrificial lamb for the ongoing carnage in America’s wars. How many other Jeremy Morelocks are not going to be brought up on charges and will return home one day, trained killers with sociopathic personality disorders and who will be absorbed into the police state apparatus as law enforcement personnel? Food for thought isn’t it?

Outback’s Shameless Corporate War Profiteering

To borrow from the Marine Corps vernacular referenced in the Hedges’ piece one could accurately peg the majority of Americans as “shit bags”, “fat nasties”, “money fuckers” and “slaves” so worthless and pathetic they have been during the rise of the fascist state. More of the lemmings here in God’s chosen land of plenty pour our their emotions in acts of lunacy like mourning the death of multi-millionaire movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor, a woman who lived the good life and through her the inhabitants of idiot nation lived vicariously, just as they do when it comes to all of the false idols that they sanctimoniously deify while the wallow in the shame, cowardice and willful ignorance that passes for their pitiful little lives. I remember back in the days after the prior vainglorious Emperor George W. Bush unleashed the full fury of the Military Industrial Congressional Complex on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq back in 2003, at that time gas was still cheap, the grand fraud of the Wall Street housing bubble was years from reaching critical mass and piggish and still traumatized by the ‘terrorist’ attacks on 9/11 were braying for blood. The roads were filled with mega-sizes SUV’s and goddammit if there wasn’t one of those idiotic fucking yellow ribbon magnets on the ass end of each one. It was futile trying to convince the average American dumbass that their over-consumption of the precious black gold was what our heroic military ‘heroes’ were being sent into the meat-grinder to kill, be maimed for life or die for. Back in that day those who dared to question were shouted down as “traitors”, “terrorist-appeasers”, “enemies of the state” and the worst of all pejoratives…”unpatriotic” back when it was scary to dissent against Bush’s maniac crusades for neocon doctrine. Those were disturbing times for those of us who were only starting to come to the realization (as with me) that it was all bullshit, before the early internet insurgents….after years of relative ‘peace’ it was a total war of civilizations. Eventually though the truth became to seep out, the internet gave many of us a place to organize and educate ourselves and the always greed-crazed corporate carnivores latched onto the wars as another marketing tool. 

The wars have not only not been televised to Americans but are now shamelessly used by corporations who equate patriotic fervor with profits. The participation of national restaurant chains like Outback Steakhouse in Operation Homefront are cynically used to sell steaks and blooming onions to blooming idiots (I wonder how that meat would taste if Chris Hedges’ piece were slipped into the menus), Wal-Marts are festooned in the red-white and blue despite an inventory of poorly constructed garbage made in China and “support the troops” has become a guaranteed money maker to lure consumers. The worst offenders of course is FOX and nothing is more indicative of their cheerleading for murder than the NFL coverage, take for example the use of Veterans Day weekend in 2009 to promote the ‘patriotism’ of the foreign pig Rupert Murdoch. FOX’s pregame show was held on a set in Afghanistan (see Militarist Masturbation) where ex jocks and grinning shit salesmen like Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw immersed the FOX brand in the sort of glorification of the war machine that would do Leni Riefenstahl proud. There is no important football game that doesn’t feature a tax dollar wasting flyover and this year’s Super Bowl in Jerry Jone’s gauche Texas temple of avarice was vomit inducing so soaked in red-meat flag waving and war worshipping hyperbole was it. It goes over real well with those who in the true modern American way love to park their fat asses on their couches in front of their big screen televisions and cheer for others to die just as long as they don’t have to do the fighting.

I will close with this excerpt from the classic antiwar book by Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun:

You can always hear the people who are willing to sacrifice somebody else’s life. They’re plenty loud and they talk all the time. You can find them in churches and schools and newspapers and legislatures and congress. That’s their business. They sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. This ground sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously. They shall not have died in vain. Our noble dead.


But what do the dead say?

Did anybody ever come back from the dead any single one of the millions who got killed did any one of them ever come back and say by god I’m glad I’m dead because death is always better than dishonor? Did they say I’m glad I died to make the world safe for democracy? Did they say that I like death better than losing liberty? Did any of them ever say it’s good to think I got my guts blown out for the honor of my country? Did any of them ever say look at me I’m dead but I died for decency and that’s better than being alive? Did any of them ever say here I am I’ve been rotting for two years in a foreign grave but it’s wonderful to die for your native land? Did any of them say hurray I died for womanhood and I’m happy see how I sing even though my mouth is choked with worms?

Nobody but the dead know whether all these things people talk about are worth dying for or not. And the dead can’t talk. So the words about noble deaths and sacred blood and honor and such are all put into dead lips by grave robbers and fakes who have no right to speak for the dead. If a man says death before dishonor he is either a fool or a liar because he doesn’t know what death is. He isn’t able to judge. He only knows about living. He doesn’t know anything about dying. If he is a fool and believes in death before dishonor let him go ahead and die.

So it goes…

That Most Precious Thing

“In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you can’t spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can’t look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they won’t be there. We won’t build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line.”

-Earling Carothers ‘Jim’ Garrison

JonBenet Ramsey suspect cleared after DNA test!

So the whole thing was a big fucking hoax. Yet another hoax on us all or more appropriately a tragic comedy for sardonic cynics. Once again Karl Rove plays the media like a Stradivarius and the media plays everybody else for chumps. The swarm and rush to be the first to ‘break’ the story is yet another embarrassment for this pathetic excuse of a news media. Remember the feeding frenzy over the Sago Mine disaster back in January when cable networks in their rush to beat each other to the punch for the prized recognition of breaking the story prematurely jumped on inaccurate snippets of overheard conversations to report that in the true feel good tradition of our Pollyanna nation that all of the coal miners had indeed been spared from a lonely death in a dank and cold place for a company with an equally dank and cold heart, a company that piled up safety violations as quickly as greedballs in the Republican Congress piled up illicit money from Jack Abramoff and other corporate graft. Once the overwhelming cheer went up for the triumph of the great American spirit and the accompanying faith in the almighty that had saved so many from death the inconvenient truth emerged as it so often does that the celebration was premature and that all of the miners had died with the exception of one survivor. As a wise man named Winston Wolf once put it “let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks just yet” and although painful, Sago was not a lesson well learned by the shills.

Cable and network executives were as happy as pigs rolling in shit when the Karr fraud erupted, they must have been clicking their heels over the good fortune in finding a story that would finally provide the much needed juice that could dominate news cycles for days. Hell, if was lurid enough there would be a long trial and enough newly minted ‘legal analysts’ to milk the sleaze for months and maybe even into the new year or longer. Nothing like a child-murdering pederast to keep that bummer of a war in Iraq and the egregious criminal behavior of the Bush administration relegated to its rightful place as an afterthought while they pimped sleazy tabloid scandal. Then there was always the new fall season would begin and the newest version of that insidious reality television spectacle ‘Survivor’ starts – this time there will be an additional allure as the contestants will be broken down into teams according to their race. The new format is thoroughly appropriate to the divisive times in which we now live and it will likely be bigger than the Dukes of Hazard and an event equal to Southeastern Conference football down south of the Mason Dixon Line.

There is one thing that Americans have come to hold most dear and precious of all. It is sweeter than mothers milk, more important than breathing, more desirable than such abstract concepts as freedom and liberty, more precious than life itself and more thirsted for than salvation. It is the all-encompassing allure of tabloid trash, glorifications of wealth and superficiality (Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and The Apprentice), the culture of celebrity and the soothing narcotic of living vicariously through entertainment that provides both an escape from the ugly and inconvenient intrusions of reality. There is nothing like a nice big hit off of the electronic crack-pipe to ensure that all is right for most in Der Heimat and the fear can remain at bay while the consumer crawls into a cocoon of denial and the exploits and exploitation of others.

The outrageous saturation coverage of the alleged killer that rejuvenated the dormant JonBenet Ramsey media circus is the perfect example of how beloved that scandal and tabloid sleaze have come to be prized in our tawdry,gauche and narcissistic post-industrial culture. John Mark Karr instantly became a household name as the nutty Ramsey case obsessive allegedly ‘confessed’ to the heinous child murder of the one time beauty pageant princess when he was nabbed by authorities in Thailand set the stage for a mass media bonanza that would have provided cover for the Republican mafia in the run up to the mid term elections. In an amazing testimonial to the power of scandal the Karr apprehension even knocked the fear mongering over London ‘Airplane Plot’ out of the headlines. Now that was truly an accomplishment in a land where fear and dread are so predominant that even terror is trumped by trash and the stimulation of subconscious prurient interests.

Never mind that Karr’s ‘confession’ and caveat that it was an “accident” were vague and unsubstantiated the jackals in the paparazzi swarmed much like they did during the Sago Mine fiasco once again stirred up a tempestuous freak show with misleading and inaccurate information in a race to be first to break the latest lurid developments. If it bleeds, it leads as the saying goes and call me a conspiracy theorist but it was yet another fortuitous coincidence that the coverage and resulting media swarm came just in time to downplay Federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s ruling that George W. Bush had violated the law by using the NSA to illegally conduct sweeping surveillance on American citizens for reasons that have never been honestly explained. And there was the strange detail that was largely passed over and unexplained of the involvement in the Karr matter by the Department of Homeland Security.

To further interject celebrity into the national discourse Paramount Pictures also cut ties with the much maligned although once adored Tom Cruise although it still didn’t knock John Mark Karr out of the news although it did further relegate war coverage to the back burner again. Maybe people are pissed off over Tom and Katie’s selfish desire to their privacy over the mysterious baby Suri. Maybe it’s because Cruise practices the much maligned and mocked religion of Scientology which arguably is no more of a cult than Tim LaHaye style Rapture Christianity is, or was it when he dared to defile the temple of Oprah last year or to suggest that feeding Ritalin to children therefore creating lifetime pharmaceutical industry consumers as well as nurturing a generation of doped up little zombies wasn’t exactly the best idea. Who the fuck knows and really quite honestly, who the fuck really cares? It’s only more tabloid trash that distracts from the real problems of the country and the world and provides another hit of e-crack.

The blowback resulting from the failure of the mainstream media to present an accurate and relevant storyline on issues that truly affect issues of true importance is only now becoming evident. The emergence of an unbelievably dumbed-down populace – or at least the majority of it that chooses to live vicariously through television, sports and celebrity – are primarily the ones who are responsible for the crimes of the despotic Bush regime, the growing losses in the relentless but undeclared class warfare that the wealthy have been waging for the last quarter century and the ruinous war in Iraq and god forbid, the glorious appearing of the upcoming one in Iran that the neocons and the Rapture ready lumpen Republicans so heartily advocate and live for.

When the media corporations began to focus on profit at the expense of news and more frequently cave in to right-wing activist pressure to present public relations spin under the guise of providing balance and the reduction of information to product they failed and failed spectacularly in providing the free press that is instrumental to a functional democracy. Video News Releases (VNRs) and public relations are present in nearly every newscast, the sound byte has replaced reporting and stories are condensed into smaller chunks for our chronically attention deficit affected citizens. CNN headline news in my personal opinion was one of the worst of all possible things to have emerged from the cable-satellite boom of the 80s as it boiled down complex stories into bits easily processed by the brains of Americans who could then feel informed and free up time for more important pursuits like working, being good consumers and being entertained. Hey it was the American way, leave the heavy lifting to our benevolent and well-intentioned corporations and public servants.

Providing product selling ‘infotainment’, manufacturing news and providing diversions are now the primary function of the mainstream media, a modern day form of bread and circuses that will serve to distract, divide and conquer the masses and enable the looters and hegemons to go about conducting business as usual. If there was any one event that would provide the metaphoric final nail in the coffin or the jumping of the shark it is arguably the elevation of ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Katie Couric to fill the seat once occupied by truly dedicated and legendary newsmen the likes of Edward Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. The ascendance of the fluffy and unthreatening Couric and the imminent race to the bottom once the other three major networks inevitably look to follow the ‘visionary’ actions of CBS in overhauling their evening newscasts to more resemble their morning infotainment shows does not bode well for any who hope for a resurgence in real journalism that informs the public and holds power accountable. Those days are rapidly receding into the rearview mirror as America progresses along the highway to hell that is to be our destiny unless a mass awakening occurs and occurs soon.

The dumbing-down of the population with sound bytes and McNews makes us a joke throughout the western world. Has anybody ever taken the time to watch or listen to the BBC? My God the depth of actual news coverage outside fortress USA is mind blowing in comparison to the crap that passes for news here. Other than miniscule snippets of spin delivered by bobble heads as well as the constant flow of lurid sex offender tales, child abductions, weird ‘news’, fantastic pet feats, animal attacks and celebrity gossip that isn’t real news at all our media is a disgrace. Our networks routinely broadcast in the guise of ‘news’ nothing but tabloid fare so foul and cheesy that to say that it more fittingly belongs in grocery store checkout stand racks is a disservice to the National Enquirer, National Star and World Weekly News. Even these publications have some small degree of redeeming social value or merit mainly as parody and satire to those who are on to their jokes or are avidly into following astrology and let’s face it, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile as the Enquirer did in striking gold with their Rush Limbaugh drug peddling scoop.

When the rapacious pursuit of profits trumps the duty as serving as guardians of the public trust the institution itself has lost any legitimacy that it once had. The fear of offending the wrong people and subjecting sponsors to economic terrorism in the form of boycotts (the zealots of the ‘Christian’ right are masters at this tactic) drives coverage away from important and provocative issues like war, rumors of war, the uninsured, the collapsing housing market, global warming, the destruction of the domestic manufacturing sector and the cancer of corruption that eats away at our political system and selling ad spots keeps profits healthy and the stockholders satisfied while maintaining the stupor of the electorate.

Advertising functions on the maxim of being able to reach the largest possible amount of potential purchasers for any given product or service that is being hawked either through print ads in the nation’s newspapers or in commercials on the electronic crackpipe. In order for this to happen the programming in the given medium must be specifically targeted towards the individuals who would be most likely to be tuned in at the time that a commercial, VNR or product placement insertion is aired. Given that the majority of the public in current post 9/11, cable television saturated America are to be kind, not exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer then it is only logical that programming content must be of a nature that they are able to understand or would otherwise attract them.

Therefore you have at least some reason for the general dumbness of television content, it is the classic bell shaped curve and much to the misfortune of all non-idiots, the vast majority of Americans fall into that extremely large pregnant portion of the graph that represents the dumbed down mentality that is so prevalent throughout the land. Therefore programming must be directed at ignorant, easily amused doofuses with the attention spans of gnats and the cognitive abilities of a retarded turnips because that is where the money is at! And that is what it is all about when it comes to advertising and keeping those stock values high. Combine this pursuit of advertising dollars with a secretive and repressive government with an agenda and there you have it: 2006=1984+22.

The problem of media consolidation made possible by deregulation as well as an increased rightward drift into an incredibly narrow minded and short sighted focus on laissez faire neo-liberal economic policies of the mythical ‘free market’ which is in actuality only free to the extent that the bigger fish are able to freely feast on the little fish who are in increasing danger of becoming. The ultimate result of deregulated and unaccountable markets are monopolies of the sort that would not be possible with the presence of an informed and active public. Therefore it is essential for those conditions to cease to exist. It’s not necessary to completely eliminate an educated populace only to make it increasingly difficult to stay informed.

This has led to not only the ascendancy of the infotainment industry but also to the near complete elimination of any sort of real investigative journalism that would offend advertisers and politicians who write favorable legislation to perpetuate the ongoing media power grab as news organizations are forced to cut back on actual journalists in favor of the charlatans needed to transform legitimate operations into brothels of the bogus. The great 1976 movie Network was absolutely stunning in it’s visionary ability to predict the future of news and television and I would strongly recommend that everybody see this, it is truly a masterpiece! Don’t bother to look for it on television though, it is far too uncomfortably close to the truth to merit taking a risk that viewers might be able to break through their immersion in the electronic fantasyland in order to bother to take their brains out of the dusty old box in the cranial attic in order to jump start the critical thought processes that have been abandoned.

Rabid attack shows such as CNN’s Crossfire that was more about allowing demagogues like Pat Buchanan to launch into anti-liberal diatribes against his overmatched counterparts and eventually the shows of shock jocks like Morton Downey were pioneering offerings that fed simmering public rage and slowly began to transform news into freak shows and caustic, think tank distilled opinion into supposed ‘news’. In examining today’s media culture an integral part was played by the right-wingers in ensuring that their daily talking points would be disseminated over and over again, it was classic Eddie Bernays who incidentally was a huge influence on Joseph Goebbels. The witches brew of toxic invective, right wing spin and tabloid television is what the majority of Americans now have come to believe is real news.

The roaring nineties were the decade when infotainment and sensationalism finally ascended to a place above serious and honest reporting minus the accompanying spin, the post cable/satellite explosion and the MTV generation gave way to celebrity and scandal, outright yellow journalism and an array of competing tabloid television magazine shows the likes of Hard Copy, A Current Affair and let us not forget the great contribution to modern ‘journalism’ Inside Edition which served as a primary national vehicle for one of today’s loudest and most bellicose propagandists Bill O’Reilly who has the dubious distinction of quite possibly being the only man in America more full of bullshit and self righteous pomposity than even George W. Bush himself and dare I say an even bigger horse’s ass if that is possible.

The culture of celebrity reigned and there is no better example than the unbelievable orgy of live coverage that was broadcast of the police pursuit of the infamous white Ford Bronco containing alleged murderer O.J. Simpson as it wound through Los Angeles and cheering mobs lined the route. A culture of celebrity powerful enough to cut into the coverage of game five of the NBA finals provoking announcer Bob Costas to remark in disgust that the Simpson orgy of adulation was “not just tragic but now surreal.”, a very fitting statement that could also serve as a testament to the state of America itself as things began to slip away nearly six and one half years prior to the even more tragic and surreal Republican one party government that exists today.

Of course the O.J. Simpson saga and mass media feeding frenzy was not a matter of serendipity for the tabloid television culture, it had been years in the making before the former pro football hero and marketing crossover became an accused double murderer. Before the O.J. phenomenon there was Amy Fisher, the ‘Long Island Lolita’ who shot the wife of her sleazy white trash lover Joey Buttafuoco in 1992. Don’t forget Loreena Bobbitt who cut off a piece of her abusive husband John’s penis in 1993. Then there was the attack orchestrated on ice skater Nancy Kerrigan by the scheming of envious competitor Tonya Harding who orchestrated an attack on Kerrigan with the intent of disabling her during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. And of course thereafter between the glove that didn’t fit and the cigar that did there was the poor little brutally murdered child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey which brings us back full circle.

The agenda driven attacks on every aspect of the life of Bill Clinton until he finally was buried under an avalanche of sex scandals gave us the thoroughly repugnant Kenneth Starr and his relentlessly driven inquisition that was dripping with salacious details and graphic sex talk. Monica media masturbation was the rage, surpassing even the O.J. Simpson spectacle of schlock and became the magnum opus of nineties tabloid cheese media. The Starr Report was a best seller and that mysterious stain on the blue dress became the greatest matter of national import of that most decadent of decades.

A legitimate argument could even be made that ‘Monicagate’ paralyzed Clinton’s ability to function as president and as a result made the country more vulnerable. After all, when Clinton ordered a missile strike on the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant, a Sudanese factory in an attempt to take out Osama Bin Laden the now war mongering House of Representatives was apoplectic, chanting “No War For Monica” and damning the foreign attack with the vigor of a bunch of dope smoking Berkeley pinkos and the media swarmed like coffin flies. Had Clinton not had to worry about the incredibly trumped up impeachment spectacle then he may have been able to actually bag Bin Laden and therefore potentially prevent 9-11 and the rise of the imperial regime of Bush-Cheney. But we’ll never know will we?

The talking heads who deliver the ‘news’ on cable channels soon were transformed into eye candy as well, attractive young women with big hair, nice tits, vacant expressions and most importantly the ability to read from a teleprompter. Yet another damning example of our shameful national dumbness is that according to reports the percentage of Americans who actually bother to read newspapers is down at about 11 percent (and I would be willing that at least half of them only read the funnies or the box scores) and the freefall in circulation continues in the land of cheap entertainment forcing whatever newspapers haven’t been swallowed by conglomerates to cut staffing and to rely more on wire stories and corporate public relations puff pieces.

Who is to blame? Look in the mirror. With the bits and pieces of the crumbling and rotten to core system that are beginning to slowly float to the surface regarding the abundance of government scandals involving bribery, spying, abuse of power, market manipulation, petro-politics and war our naïve whimsical and unrealistic view of America as blessed by God and exceptional over all others could be shaken to its roots were any serious investigative journalism in the corporate media to exist.

We are being amused and distracted to death!