From the 1-7-07 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honor him: but as he was ambitious, I slew him.
Brutus' eulogy, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Act III.
So we executed Saddam Hussein. How very un-Christian. How retro Old Testament. Perhaps even Islamic as seen through western-tinted glasses.
But most of all, how extremely and typically imperial.
Don't it make you proud to be an American?
"No one will ever forget the way in which Saddam was executed. They turned him into a martyr," opined Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, one of our military strongmen (as was Saddam before he took Bush the Elder at his word that the U.S. would not interfere if Iraq invaded Kuwait, which had been stealing Iraqi oil through cross-border slant drilling).
The body count from Saddam's murder is already stacking up in a most unusual way. Two children, one in Pakistan and one, ironically, in Texas, hanged themselves because they saw video of Saddam's termination on TV.
In case you missed the story, Sergio Pelico, 10, was found hanging from his bunk bed last week in Webster, a suburb of Houston. A nine year-old Pakistani boy apparently did the same thing, emulating what he had likewise seen on television.
The Pelico family is trying to raise money to bury their boy in Guatemala, a country which suffered 44 years of civil war after we overthrew its democratically elected government in 1954, just as we had done in Iran a year earlier.
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and Ego Trips
The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006
BARBANO: Nevada's newly-hiked minimum wage is nowhere near enough
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The bodies drip heavy with irony.
Last Sunday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal apparently ran a photo of Saddam's hanging which generated irate letters.
"Your decision to print a close-up, color photograph of Saddam Hussein hanging dead with a noose around his neck, and to place it atop the inside page of the Sunday paper, set a new low even for your publication," wrote John Henry Melancon.
"In a country that values the rule of law, we do not publicize pictures of executed criminals dangling from a rope; the condemned are not executed by people wearing ski masks; executions are not accompanied by frenzied religious chants and verbal taunts from a rabble. You chose to publish a picture of a sectarian killing, not the orderly working of a nation of laws, and not very different than the thousands of incidents of butchery that have taken place in that miserable country since our leaders decided to make it a 'beacon of democracy,'" Melancon concluded.
Students of television have for decades decried the desensitizing effect of images delivered via the cathode ray tube and its successors.
Remember the kid who killed his sister a few years ago emulating what he had seen in a televised phony wrestling match?
These are not only tragedies, but also warnings.
Alas and alack, we refuse to listen to the latter day Cassandras because all must serve commerce. Pump up the volume to pimp up the ratings.
As Eagles-rocker Don Henley once sang, it's interesting when people die.
The more that television becomes pornographic, serving up equal parts of murder, mayhem and rape, the more that people will become desensitized to what they see.
I once toyed with the idea of advocating that U.S. media show the blood and guts of combat so readily available on the Internet and foreign media. After all, the major TV networks eroded public support for the Vietnam War by sending film crews into the action and the U.S. military has never forgiven them.
Unfortunately, our warmongers learned at least one lesson from that loss: Rather than keep reporters out, make them part of the organization. Embed (I love that word) them with the fighting forces and they will self-censor. It's working like a charm. Americans who want to forget about Iraq are helped by seeing only sanitized images kind of like the Prince Valiant comic strip where people get sliced and diced but nary a drop gets spilt by King Arthur's knights of the imagination.
In today's 500-channel world, true blood and guts would simply be dissed as not being realistic-looking enough by consumers of Friday the 13th and similar slasher fare.
And so the nightmare scenarios of dystopian sci-fi films are coming true all around us.
Kids are emulating the dangerous skateboard stunts they view on geek TV. Murderous extreme fighting enjoys a growing fan base, including right here in River City.
I used to think that our romance with pro football would diminish on the day that a player gets killed on live national television. I'm not so sure that such a snuff film would have any effect anymore.
It would just be chalked up as part of the breaks of the game.
Such a violent and cruel media miasma befits a nation now squandering half a trillion a year subsidizing its killing machine.
No less than generals George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower warned us of the perils of foreign military entanglements.
We have ignored their advice at our peril and will suffer for it for decades to come.
As the great urbanist Jane Jacobs so eloquently noted, nations sow the seeds of their own decline.
Bullets, even fertilized with rich blood, produce only poverty.
Two little boys have died, perhaps in another attempt from on high to teach us a lesson to stop killing each other before we slay our species.
Hail, Caesar, we who are about to die, salute you.
Be well. Raise hell.
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007; (not available online for several months, if at all). I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required
BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey
BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
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Copyright © 2007 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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