Saturday, January 19, 2013


I believe it was Caligula - or possibly Nero - who believed that people would not notice or care about the ruinous way Rome was being run as long as their bellies were full and they were entertained. This is known as the "Bread and Circuses" school of political science. It is also a classic way of producing voters who are political ignoramuses, now re-christened "low-information voters".
People who are low on bread get an EBT card. As to the circuses, in ancient days they were chariot races, gladitorial combat, Christians fighting lions and tigers with bare hands, mass crucifixions and public torture. These were subsidized by the Emperor, so that every citizen could be entertained and forget about things like how Rome was turning into a firetrap because the Emperor was using the money for enforcing construction codes to pay for the show.
Today, if you can't go to the circus, it gets brought to you courtesy of the TV and cable networks, and you pay for it with the money added on to the goods and services that advertise during these events. I'm not talking about the Ringling Brothers or the Cirque d' Soleil only. They are part of it, as are pro and college sports.
But I am talking about the Great National Circus, the modern gladiatorial combat of Sports, the plebian theater known as television programming, the propaganda machine called the news media, and the glitter-covered perfumed sewage of celebrity gossip, scandal, and snooping.
Recently two examples of what I am talking about here originated in Sports, oozed through the networks, slid across the News, and have now been covered with glitter and presented in the tabloid sections of the various media.
Lance Armstrong, bicyclist extraordinaire', has been forever banned from professional cycling. As you no doubt know - and unless you've just come out from a cave yesterday you do - Armstrong was found to have been using steriods and other hormones and "blood-doping" with hyper-oxygenated transfusions in order to win umpteen contests, including several "Tour de France" titles. What is more, the winning award cannot be given to the second, third, or fourth place "winners" either because they ALL WERE DOING THE EXACT SAME THING but never mind, Lance is the American, so crap all over HIM.
But this whole story was rapidly developing a "ho-hum" flavor, so this week it was "teased" for a couple days before Lance finally came out and admitted to doping ON OPRAH WINFREY'S SHOW. (Didn't we hear something back in 2009 about Oprah retiring in 2010? What's she doing back on the air?) Now, everyone is yapping up Lance's tree again, this time about whether Lance told the whole truth.
(By the bye, I ride my bike regularly, and I don't take steroids or hormones or other drugs. I have not once undergone a transfusion. So, if the Tour de France needs a winner, send me the money and the yellow jerseys, on the basis of the following true statements: (1) I ride a bike sometimes, so I am a cyclist. (2) I don't use prohibited drugs and I don't take steroids or recieve transfusions; and (3) I have never competed in the Tour de France. So even if I have lied in statement (2); even so I am therefore a bicyclist who has demonstrably and undisputably NEVER used doping to win a Tour De France. TDF officials contact me in comments about where to send the jerseys and prize money, sil vous plaiz.)
Moving on.
Another great, big, slobbery meaningless case of who-the-fuck-gives-a-royal-shit hit the fan this week when some kid on the Notre Dame football team announced that his "girlfreind" either was dying or had died (I don't give a damn about football and I don't follow idiocy like this very closely, so I don't remember which, but...) and then it turned out that this "girlfriend" was some person who had stolen the identity of a young woman and used it to "hook" this college player in a scheme called "catfishing". This kind of thing goes on every single day in the ozone of the Internet. But the big talking is said to be justified because it is a famous athlete who was taken in. Really? You mean that since it was a college jock who might have just been hit in the brainpan one too many times fell victim to this, it's a bigger story than if some obscure bachelor owner of a pizzaria did?
But here's the point of this post: The news organizations devote more time to this salacious gossip about the (mostly alleged) mistakes and foibles of the Rich and Famous than they do to the things people ought to be thinking about and acting on. They become high-information (or so they think) gossips by this means.
By this means also they become "low-information" voters, gleaning their understanding of politics and their representatives in government by way of 30 second sound-bites as they drool in anticipation of the latest news of the latest scandal, delivered in detail and designed to keep them ignorant.
Thus in 30 seconds millions were convinced that Mitt Romney was directly responsible for the death of a man's wife from cancer (she's still alive); and thus in 30 seconds a Union carpenter was believed when he said he built the stage upon which it was announced that the plant he worked in and had been bought by Bain Capital and closed down; and that therefore Romney didn't give a tinker's damn about "me".  Had the media done its job and covered these stories and others and reported facts, and not busied themselves in reporting on frippery as if it were a Nationally Significant Matter; then Obama would not be taking his FOURTH oath of the Presidency on Monday.
(Oh, yes. Obama - and Chief Justice Roberts - flubbed the oath last time and it was taken again in private the next day. This time he will take the Oath in private on Sunday and again in public on Monday. Making Obama the first president in U.S. History since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to take the Oath FOUR TIMES. )
But four times or one time, it's all the same. The Current Resident only cares about his Oath when it assists him in getting what he wants. If it stymies him he will ignore it to the extent he thinks he can get away with. And he hopes the Body of the People will pay attention to their circuses and enjoy their bread as he does just as he pleases.
It's a catfish sandwich with steroid sauce. Don't be a sucker. WAKE THE FUCK UP, PEOPLE!
Wake the fuck up.

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