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TV War: Gladitorial Battles for the New Roman Empire

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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 06:13 PM
Original message
TV War: Gladitorial Battles for the New Roman Empire
This is a special request (someone asked me to make a thread out of something I posted in response to another thread).

When I was growing up in the 1960's and 70's, the scenes we saw on the CBS nightly news coming out of Viet Nam were horrific. They shocked me, a young child, and they shocked this nation where civilians had not witnessed unfiltered scenes of the brutality of war since the American Civil War. Most of us have an image indelibly fixed in our minds of a naked young girl running down a road, screaming as her skin burns from chemical weapons that WE used against her. We watched in horror as the film crews recorded our boys being mowed down before they even had a chance to experience life. Their expressions were not those of soldiers gallantly risking their lives for a noble cause. These were scared kids whose eyes said "What am I doing over here?" Americans count on being able to tell right from wrong, but My Lai proved that right and wrong had lost all meaning in Viet Nam. The Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire seemed to be the only ones whose actions made any sense. In their dying, they said very clearly "Heed this warning, all this war will accomplish is suffering and death."

The televised coverage of Viet Nam changed everything. Two American presidencies failed, because the men in charge could not extricate themselves from the Viet Nam War. The war changed the way that Americans feel about military imperialism, which had been on the rise for a century. The notion of fighting the spread of communism abroad fell out of favor. War was no longer something patriotic. It was no longer noble. War was quite literally hell.

George Bush Sr. and CNN changed all that. When Bush signalled to Sadam Hussein that the US would look the other way if Iraq invaded Kuwait, the stage was set for the first in a series of war spectacles. Operation Desert Storm was launched like a mini-series, complete with slogans, theme music, star fighters and reporters. Americans watched from their living rooms as the script was played out to its logical conclusion and they applauded at the end. CNN went from being an oddity to an established news giant.

An unexpected change of administrations robbed CNN of more opportunities to show off its flair for foreign war coverage. For a few hours, it looked like the Oklahoma City bombing might provide an excuse for a second war, with right wing extremists leaping to the conclusion that it must have been Iraqi terrorists and demanding that we should bomb Bagdhad in retaliation (This despite the fact that the bombing occured on the anniversary of the Branch Davidian tragedy and in Oklahama City, a place middle eastern terrorists were unlikely to target since they would stand out like sore thumbs). By accident, the real bombers were caught, and no Iraq War began during the Clinton administration.

All that changed after the Supreme Court selected George W. Bush to be president. His backers were planning all along to invade Iraq, as described in The Project for the New American Century and later in the Baker Report. The plans for the invasion of Afghanistan had already been drawn up before 9-11. Bush-Cheney were itching to go to war, they just needed an excuse. And when they found it on 9-11, they had three 24 hour news networks to back them up.

The documentary "Weapons of Mass Deception" describes how all three of the 24 hour news networks worked together with the Pentagon to choreograph the invasion of Iraq. This includes MSNBC, which has since turned against the war in Iraq and has been squarely against invading Iran since sometime after the 2004 presidential election. Back in 2002 and 2003, all three of the Big Three were solidly pro-war. They had slogans, theme music, star reporters, embedded reporters. Every cliched war story was presented to us. "The soldier who got left behind." "The toppling of the dictator's statue." We had W.'s staged event on the aircraft carrier with the Mission Accomplished banner. It was more than a mini-series this time. It was a three ring circus.

However, there was something different between this administration and the first Bush administration. Bush-Cheney did not want a quick war and then a return home. Cheney needed an ongoing war so he could invoke Article 2 just like Dick Nixon did to justify the spying program and other executive branch changes he was making. Halliburton needed reconstruction contracts. The Neo-Cons wanted control of Iraq and its oil. And as the inability of a bunch of failed businessmen from Texas to handle the running of the US government became increasingly clear, the administration needed something to distract US citizens.

The Roman Emperors gave their citizens the Collesseum and gladiator battles to distract and amuse them when things got politically hot in Rome. It was like pro-wrestling except with more blood and gore. It gave them a chance to vent some of their anger. It reminded them that the world outside Rome was a scary place (many of the gladiators were barbarian captives) so for all his faults, at least the Emperor was keeping his citizens safe. Watching so many deaths, eventually they become numb to the suffering of others. It began to seem right that the strongest survived and the weakest died. They controlled the outcome of the battles through their cheers, which gave them the illusion that they still controlled their own lives.

Now, jump ahead two thousand years. W. promised he would take our war "Over there." When they heard this, how many Americans asked themselves "Who lives over there?" The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently reported that in modern warfar, 90% of the people who die will be CIVILIANS and ONE HALF of those will be CHILDREN. That means that for every soldier or enemy combatant or terrorist who dies, 4-5 children will die, in someone else's country. And it is all being broadcast for us on our 24 hour TV networks, packaged like a pro-wrestling match, except with more blood and gore.

What is the difference between what you see now and what CBS showed us in the 70's? The Pentagon is choreographing this TV production. No caskets draped in American flags, that might make people think about their sons and daughters. The journalists who report on the activity of the troops are "embedded" with the troops. That means they are essentially part of the unit. You are not going to get any negative stories from one of the soldiers' buddies. The enemy is always referred to as something less than an honorable soldier. Call him a terrorist, and you never have to worry that your audience will feel sorry for him. Or his mother . Or his kid sister.

When Iraq got unpopular with the audience, because it was too old, too depressing or maybe just made Americans feel too damn guilty, the Big Three switched to a newer, fresher war, the one between Israel and Lebanon. Now, we have round the clock coverage of the missiles hitting a few targets in Israel (so that we never forget that Israel is acting in self defense) followed by the more spectacular scenes of Lebanon being reduced to rubble interspersed with film of children with facial burns, elderly being forcibly evacuated from their homes. There are slogans---"Blame Iran" and "Mideast War is Inevitable". There are media stars and would be stars, like NBC's Brian Williams flying in a helicopter over Lebanon so that the film crew can photograph him flying over Lebanon in a helicopter.

What is woefully lacking is a voice of compassion. I read them on the internet, but I do not hear them on the TV news or read them in the newspaper. The politicians talk politics. They support Israel. They condemn terrorists. They blame Bush for being incompetent. They blame Iran for supporting terrorists. Meanwhile, the 24 hour news networks continue the macabre news coverage that always go "100 Missiles hit Israel today. Now, our reporter in Lebanon to show the latest scenes of destruction."

There was a scene from one TV news story which I watched, a massive Israeli bomb landed on a sofa in an apartment in Lebanon but did not detonate. Chances are somewhere on that bomb is a US logo. I like to imagine that somewhere journalists exist who would film that bomb more closely and show the audiences in America something besides the gladiatorial battle which they tuned in to see. However, even if the cameraman filmed it, the tape would end up on the cutting room floor. The 24 Hour Networks---and the Bush Administration--do not give us TV War to educate us about the United State's role in the world or to help us understand the plight of those less fortunate than us. They give us TV War to keep us glued to our chairs, so that we won't miss the next commercial or do anything stupid like think.
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 10:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. I saw the Edward R. Murrow Documentary
a couple night ago. It says it all. In Fact, Mr. Murrow warned us about the inevitable future in 1959.

Back then, the network news was king, it was not yet a "profit center" and the people involved still had some of the compassion of the "New Deal" mentality left in them. They still believed in telling the truth no matter whose toes they stepped on and, mainly, Walter Cronkite still had some pull.

The right-wing in this country took care of that. Between media dilution and media consolidation the same few right-wing owners dictate what their "news" arms are allowed to do, and brother, rocking the boat that's garnering HUGE profits for their other, commercial arms and their war profiteering buddies (especially the war profiteers in the White House and Pentagon) is NOT allowed any more.

There are probably some Edward R. Murrows and Walter Cronkites around but they're definitely NOT allowed to speak truth on the mass airwaves...
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Nikki Stone 1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 10:40 PM
Response to Original message
2. Excellent post
Kick and recommend
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PinkyisBlue Donating Member (617 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 10:52 PM
Response to Original message
3. It's sad when our "leaders" are greedy, selfish, evil people
Edited on Fri Aug-04-06 10:53 PM by PinkyisBlue
who have no desire to "lead" us anywhere. What they do seek is control, power and, above all, money. They will do whatever it takes to achieve all three. They seem to actually dislike the majority of Americans and consider most to be expendable. In fact, they appear to be actively trying to eliminate a good number of Americans through senseless wars (also to gain control, power and money), lack of access to healthcare, cuts in financial assistance to the poor for basics like food, heat and shelter, inadequate responses to national disasters (like Katrina), lack of oversight regarding the safety of our food supply (USDA not testing beef for presence of "Mad Cow"), watered down environmental regulations,etc.

I really believe this government is out to get us.
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The Wizard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 05:40 AM
Response to Original message
4. The news media
makes its money enabling the Bush cartel. It's an endless loop. Goebbels had nothing on these reprobates.
Watch the movie "Network." We are approaching that mad as hell moment. When will someone unload a dump truck full of bullshit on Pox (deliberate typo) News corporate headquarters.?" Ruppert Murdoch needs a good beating.
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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 05:45 AM
Response to Original message
5. A kick for compassion and media awareness.
Edited on Sat Aug-05-06 05:45 AM by lostnfound
and a 5th recommend.
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rosesaylavee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 06:08 AM
Response to Original message
6. "Give them bread and circuses"
Plans to distract us sheeple while nasty business is conducted benefiting the govt is as old as the Roman empire... perhaps they got it from some earlier group of nuts too. Hey, it works.

'Reality TV' blurs what is real and what is entertainment. Compassion and empathy are turned off once the TV goes on.
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OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 06:22 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Our "huddled masses" are now
Sheeple huddled in front of their 58" bigscreen tv's waiting desperately for the next Survivor and AI. We mustn't let a little thing like the reality of war get in the way of our entertainment. And, of course, when it MUST intrude, it is whitewashed to a mere semblance of true reality. Thank you OP for this marvelous insightful read into corporate news "reality" and for the rememberance of a era long gone.
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rosesaylavee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 06:25 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Did you read this week that plasma screen TVs
are more desirable than diamonds? I didn't read the article - just the headline so not sure who they surveyed on that. Pathetic state of affairs.
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aein Donating Member (262 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 07:29 AM
Response to Original message
9. good history of the fall of the american empire
not so much for the roman empire
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many a good man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 07:41 AM
Response to Original message
10. After 911 millions of Americans wondered "why do they hate us?"
bush has spent the past five years showing us why but network TV and print news has yet to make the connection.
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The River Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 08:35 AM
Response to Original message
11. America Only Exists as a Media Hologram
"Americans, rich or poor, now live in a culture entirely perceived through, simulacra-media images and illusions. We live inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation that has not existed for quite some time now, especially in America's heartland. Our national reality is held together by a pale, carbon imprint of the original. The well-off with their upscale consumer aesthetic, live inside gated Disneyesque communities with gleaming uninhabited front porches representing some bucolic notion of the Great American home and family. The working class, true to its sports culture aesthetic, is a spectator to politics ... politics which are so entirely imagistic as to be holograms of a process, not a process. Social realism is a television commercial for America, a simulacran republic of eagles, church spires, brave young soldiers and heroic firefighters and "freedom of choice" within the hologram. America's citizens have been reduced to Balkanized consumer units by the corporate state's culture producing machinery.

The average American spends about one third of his or her waking life watching television. The neurological implications of this are so profound that they cannot even be comprehended in words, much less described by them. Television creates our reality, regulates our national perceptions and our interior hallucinations of who we Americans are (the best and only important tribe on the planet.) It schedules our cultural illusions of choice, displays pre-selected candidates in our elections, or types of consumer goods. It regulates holiday marketing opportunities and the national neurological seasons, which are now governed by the electrons of the illusion. We live within a media generated belief system that functions as the operating instructions for society. Anything outside of its parameters represents fear and psychological freefall to the faceless legions of within it."

http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2005/12/the_simulacran_.h...
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 08:48 AM
Response to Original message
12. Pardon My Tinfoil, But I can't Help Thinking.....
Edited on Sat Aug-05-06 08:51 AM by Demeter
1.Janet Reno was set up for Waco by Bush Sr. holdovers, who buffaloed her into a disaster.

2. This disaster not only gave her and Clinton a bad start, it also set up the Oklahoma bombing.

3. The Oklahoma bombing was supposed to set the country aflame--as McCamy says: trying to blame Iraq, and the perpetrators were caught purely by accident. Clinton again escaped setting the country aflame by his adroit handling of the first WTC bombing.

4. So--they have to steal the election, hire Bin Ladin, fly all his nearest relations to safety, shut down NORAD and whatever other safeguards were in place, gut the FBI and trash the CIA, just so BushCo/Cheney can have this stupid, horrible war?

5. How many death sentences can we get for these fuckers? How long can we prolong the agony of their executions? No beneficent lethal injection for these fiends---death by rats after injection with West Nile virus, perhaps?

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ananda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 08:50 AM
Response to Original message
13. This article hits it on the nose!
Because of TV and even movies, Americans are inured to violence and war and don't really see it as real in the sense of either affect or effect.

Now, if it were to hit them personally, that would be a different story... but it hasn't yet and probably won't. Still, if enough Americans actually see and feel the reality, things will change.

Sue
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The Wizard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-05-06 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
14. Re-institute conscription
without exception, everyone serves somewhere in some capacity. Politicians kids are automatic infantry, light weapons. Restore the Fairness Doctrine.
Send the entire Bush Administration to The Hague. Revoke all of Bush's policies. Make Bush sing "Jail to the Chief" on American Idol.
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mkb Donating Member (124 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-07-06 11:49 AM
Response to Original message
15. Deeper Meanings and Stan Goff
     Just When you think you have it all figured out,
something new enters the equation, isn't that true about life?
 The process of discovery is never complete.
     I've had notions about life that can seem strange or
unorthodox, but sometimes they seem to have elements of truth
and validity to them.  I hope my sentient friends will
understand that language and news have complexities and
multiple interpretations.
     Don't feel bad if you change your mind about things. 
That seems to be what progress requires, even for the best of
minds.  The Einsteins of the world make mistakes and go down
dead ends sometimes on their path to accomplishment.  If you
are sincere in your desire to live a good life for yourself
and others, that is the foundation of what I believe in.
     I was reading Stan Goff's website several months ago and
I had the impression of him as a sort of hero.  But I think
through my desire to learn and think to the best of my ability
I reached more advanced and deeper conclusions about his work,
as well as the world in general.  He wrote a book called
"Sex and War" which is in stated terms a focus on
the link between masculinity and societal problems.
     I think you always have to question the intent of people
as well as their ability.  My conclusion, at least for the
time being, is that the potential deceptions that seem to
exist with people like him are critical to understand, rather
than being starry-eyed over the competency and superficial
benevolence.  The basic idea I have, which required effort I
must add to come up with, is that the fundamental economic
motivations within society are downplayed, especially
regarding what is happening with peoples' standard of living,
which I state in terms of purchasing power.
     The gender issue is relevant, but can easily be used to
sidetrack people from the deterioration that is affecting us
all.  Power structures that cause harm are usually competent
to a certain degree and must be respected and understood. 
This means that the surface explanations may be accurate, but
that the intent and deeper meanings may be harmful for the
society.  I urge caution while looking at these issues, and as
a "deeper meaning", caution includes the ability to
be monitored while using the internet.
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