Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Anna Nicole Smith vs Iraq

A woman named Anna Nicole Smith died on Thursday, February 8. She was a 39 year old former stripper, playboy centerfold, ‘actress,’ gold-digging trophy wife, and famous for being famous. Ms. Smith’s loud, pointless, and generally disastrous lifestyle went on to the point that her dispute over her late husband’s will went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. Fancy clothes, fake breasts, troweled-on makeup, bleached teeth and a hairstylist who must have a MS in structural engineering are apparently an acceptable replacement these days for brains, integrity, effort and talent because they can be more easily wrapped around an overweight drug addict with the maturity level of a high school sophomore and marketed. You can buy a dress like hers or wear the same perfume or tote around the same horrible little armpit dog, while you can’t buy (or sell at a profit) honesty or a work ethic.

Robert A. Heinlein was right—America has become a place where entertainers and high-paid athletes mistaken for important leaders of public opinion. She is, in a sense, the epitome of modern American culture— she was an engineered product of the media and advertising industry, who become important because people were constantly being told that she WAS important. That’s right, America—the media doesn’t show you what you need to know or what you think is important, they show you what they want you to think is important. What a colossal waste of space. All we need now is Elton John to write another song about a dead blonde.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s still a war going on. Between 3PM EST on Thursday and 1PM EST on Friday, these major news networks aired the following numbers of segments on the death of Anna Nicole Smith and the ongoing war in Iraq:

CNN 141 27
FOX NEWS 112 33
MSNBC 170 24

The average length of segments devoted to the relative topics:

NBC 3:13 0:14
CBS 2:00 2:17
ABC 2:21 2:58

You read that right. NBC spent 3:13 minutes in each half-hour broadcast on Anna Nicole Smith, and fourteen seconds on Iraq. Figures are from www.thinkprogress.org. I can only conclude that national priorities here are seriously misplaced.

Furthermore, while all of this red-carpet garment-rending over a dead stripper was going on, a sixth US helicopter was shot down, an Iraqi government minister was accused of supporting a Shi’a militia, and four more US Marines were killed in action. That must have been one jam-packed fourteen seconds on NBC. Our president continues to demand that we support his policies, for which ‘stupid and disastrous’ is not a strong enough term, with unthinking and blind obedience, howling like a certain mustachioed Great War veteran that unity is strength and any deviations from the party platform is tantamount to treason.

Today is Friday, February 9. Thirty-three US soldiers were killed in Iraq between February 1 and today, in addition to two Britons and one Pole.

The published names of the dead include:

US Tarryl Hill

US Corporal Jennifer M. Parcell

POL Lance Corporal Piotr Nita

US Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Gilbert Minjares Jr.

US Manuel Ruiz

US Sergeant Travis Pfister

US Sergeant Joshua J. Frazier

US Lance Corporal Brandon J. Van Parys

UK 2nd Lieutenant Jonathan Bracho-Cooke

US Sergeant Randy J. Matheny

US Staff Sergeant Ronnie L. Sanders

US Captain Kevin C. Landeck

US Staff Sergeant Terrence D. Dunn

US Specialist Alan E. McPeek

US Private Matthew T. Zeimer

US Chief Warrant Officer Officer Keith Yoakum

US Chief Warrant Officer Jason Garth DeFrenn

US Corporal Richard O. Quill III

US Sergeant Major Michael C. Mettille

US Hospitalman Matthew G. Conte

US Gunnery Sergeant Terry J. Elliott

US Specialist Eric R. Sieger

US Private 1st Class Tyler Butler

US Private 1st Class David C. Armstrong

In addition, there are ten Americans and one Briton killed during the first nine days of February whose names have not yet been released by their governments. Total US casualties in the Iraqi war now number 3,118 killed, and 54,910 wounded (data and names from www.icasualties.org).

Please remember that the United States federal government currently forbids media coverage of the return of killed or wounded soldiers from Iraq, in an attempt to disguise the cost of the war. Please also note that the conservative media and Bush Administration figures, including the Vice President, routinely deny proven facts and accuse reporters of concentrating on just the bad news from Iraq. Why haven’t you heard more about this? Major news organizations routinely bury stories on antiwar protests, casualties, and other ‘politically sensitive’ matters. If someone gives their life for their country, it should not be swept under the rug in an attempt to keep the president from being embarrassed by the consequences of his own stupidity and stubbornness. That is an absolute disgrace to the entire country.

When Ted Koppel read a list of 721 dead American soldiers (then the current total) on the April 30, 2004 ABC News program Nightline —it took 40 minutes-- Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns more than 60 television affiliate stations across the country, and many other media corporations chose to black out the program or air something else instead, and many ‘patriotic’ right-wing talking heads castigated Koppel for doing such a thing. Sinclair’s official statement on the matter concluded that "The action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.” Welcome to the land of the First Amendment and broadcast media deregulation; even Pravda had more interest in presenting the truth than Sinclair does. No national news program has been allowed to do the Koppel-type thing since then. Incidentally, 98% of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s political donations go to the Republican Party.

I wrote this myself, except for what I cited from thinkprogress.org and icasualties.org. If it sounds a little like Keith Olbermann, well, let’s just say I have good role models these days.

Good night. Good Luck. January 20, 2009 - Hang in there, America.

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