Friday, March 28, 2008

thanks mark

for giving me some perspective with humor. I really don't know about real woe... and I need to pay more attention.

here's mark morford's latest column:

It is a time for a radical rethinking. It is a time to reconsider it all, to perhaps reassess how we are presenting and digesting America's most costly and lost and unwinnable and brutal and ignoble and inept and insidious and depressing war that's not really a war; it's time to revolutionize how it's all packaged and broadcast and pumped like hot sticky misery into the heavily narcotized American cultural bloodstream because, oh my God, we are sick sick sick of it all, and only getting sicker.

This is the problem: People are getting bored. Check that: People are already bored, insanely so, have been bored for a few years now, so utterly and thoroughly jaded and burned out on stories and pictures and woeful tales of Iraq and death and Baghdad and cluster bombs and burned-out trucks and limbless soldiers and flag-draped coffins and photos of a grinning George W. Bush posing with a horribly burned, mutilated U.S. soldier, it might as well be Lindsay Lohan snorting blow off the dashboard of an Escalade.

We have now accomplished 4,000 dead U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Did you see that headline? Did it cause anything but a stab of pain and a heavy sigh and a need to click a different headline, maybe the one about cute baby polar bears in Germany? Did you simply mash and mix that inglorious number with tales of wretched economic meltdown and torture and health care system collapse and roll it all into a little ball of sadness and hurl it at the wall of forgetfulness? You are not alone.
Yes, 4,000 dead soldiers was a miserable milestone indeed, one that doesn't even hint at the roughly 100,000 wounded and brain-damaged and clinically depressed U.S. soldiers and simply shrugs off the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, a number which is probably far closer to 1 million but hey, they're just civilians and they were stupid enough to live in Iraq in the first place and therefore the military couldn't care less about them and besides, all those stats are just boring too, so who's counting?

Certainly not the media. Sure enough, war coverage has apparently dropped to less than a fifth of what it was even a year ago, as increasingly desperate, budget-strapped news organizations understand that everyone's exhausted by incessant death tolls and no one wants to read about suicide bombers or failed surges or Bush's staggering ineptitude anymore, even if John McCain is now wobbling around the nation trying to defend Bush's idiocy and rally the frothy, paranoid faithful by actually suggesting that what the world needs right now is not the United States out of Iraq, but rather the United States into everywhere else. One hundred more years! One hundred more years!

Of course, all the widespread boredom and ennui is completely understandable, similar to having some sort of inoperable tumor growing deep in your heart for so many years it eventually becomes the norm, The Thing That's Always There, so ingrained and embedded into your being that you can't even remember a time when you were free of it. And so every morning as your chest convulses and your body withers a little bit more, you just sigh and shake your head and accept the misery because, well, what the hell else are you gonna do?

But here's the fascinating part: On the one hand, the rabid GOP war hawks would simply love it if you'd let your boredom rule and just shut the hell up and forget all about Iraq, let it all just keep churning and eating us away and killing until the economy collapses and Halliburton and Lockheed and Bush's puppet masters make a few hundred billion dollars more off the backs of young and exhausted soldiers who only joined the military because they couldn't afford school or get a decent job or buy a home.

But on the other hand, the GOP still desperately needs middle 'Merkins to hate, to seethe, to burn with fear at least until election time so McCain can leverage America's latent loathing of dark-skinned foreigners and convince the remains of Bush's heartless base that we need to invade and destroy and kill a great many more people in order to, you know, remain free and happy.

And then there's the anti-war crowd, fighting the exact same widespread malaise in reverse, given how everyone with even a passable education and a thriving soul is now exhausted by the incessant jackhammerings of Bush's incompetence. Indeed, the left needs intelligent Americans to remain angry and outraged at least until Barrack Obama can wipe the slate clean of all those warmongering old men.

So then, maybe what everyone needs, of course, is incentives. We're Americans, after all. Do we not love shiny dangling things to keep us enthralled, engaged, some sort of clear prize at the end, maybe a nice all-expenses-paid vacation to Cabo or a new dishwasher or $100 worth of free iTunes downloads? In other words, do we not love to have our collective misery turned into soft, sweet pablum, into cheap cultural commodity for mass consumption? You bet we do. You have a better idea?

Maybe reality TV is the answer. "Real World: Baghdad." Could that do it? Make it all more interesting? Tagline: "Will macho heartthrob jerk/personal trainer Tyler hook up with drunk slutty ex-marketing manager Sonia in the hot tub even as gay bartender Todd is weeping in the game room because his tiny Chihuahua, Mr. Sniffles, was blown up by a cluster bomb just outside the Green Zone? Tune in to find out!"

Or, something else entirely. For example, the McCain campaign could make you an offer: "Attention, America! Launch an insular, jingoistic blog with lots of animated American flags and link out only to Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter and Michael Savage and include lots of hunky photos of Rod "Destroy Islam" Parsley and John "Christian Zionist" Hagee, those rabid televangelists McCain has welcomed into his camp so as to court the ignorant evangelical vote, and the Republican Party will send you a free iPod pre-loaded with Chubby Checker and Tanya Tucker and bad Christian rock. Yay America!"

Indeed, the possibilities for alleviating our boredom are endless. Free tank of gas with every anti-war comment you post to whenever they lie about the troop surge. New Starbucks coffee drinks named after various Shiite and Sunni leaders so you never forget that no one in the Pentagon has the slightest clue as to what their religious war is really all about. "Hi, I'd like a double vente caramel macchiato Abdallah Suleiman Omary, with lots of room for cream."
Will it help? Will it make it all less boring? Will you attach to the horrors and misery of the war more passionately as you wake up every day thinking, Oh my God, I can't wait until I get a hot steaming cup of Abu Omar into my body? Well? You have a better idea?