cable-TV program The Daily Show—Comedy Central’s half-hour
parody of the evening news—used to advertise itself with the
following tag: “More people get their news from The Daily
Show than probably should.” The glib self-deprecation
called attention to the ironic intent of the show and also
took a dig at the network-news broadcasts it satired: More
Americans get their news from TV’s big three—and accept it
at face value, unanalyzed and unverified—than probably should.
Arguably, this is never more true than during a time of war,
when lives depend on the decisions made by an administration
in the name of its constituents. It’s zero hour—do you know
where your government is?
It would seem that the strength and expansion of the cable-news
channels would provide a healthy alternative; but as has been
widely reported, cable news providers broadcasting in the
States have been every bit as partisan—if not outright jingoistic—as
the networks. Fortunately, the Internet provides easy access
to different perspectives in the forms of foreign news agencies
and wire services (check the BBC’s site, eyeslash.com, Rueters
or an Arab news site like arabnews.com). The bad news, however,
is that many people are using the Internet only to e-mail
blindly patriotic quips and bumper-sticker slogans back and
forth, justifying a war that, at the very least, should give
One of the most recent such missives to hit inboxes was a
list written by comedian Dennis Miller, who provided 10 points
he thought would help clear up the “hint of confusion” he
detected in the newspapers regarding America’s presence in
Iraq. In typically snarky style, Miller pointed out that the
best advice that anyone ever gave him was to employ the K.I.S.S.
method—that’s “Keep It Simple, Stupid”—and so, the former
host of Saturday Night Live’s own phony news segment
and star of the movie Bordello of Blood broke it down
for us, real simplelike. Following each entry you’ll find
a reason why Miller is full of shit.
President Bush and Saddam Hussein . . . Hussein is the bad
OK, that may be, but not just by dint of saying it aloud.
Hussein is the bad guy, why? Is it due to his flagrant disregard
for the will and authority of the United Nations? Bush and
his administration have made it clear that the collective
opinion of the United Nations is just that, an opinion—no
more important than that of Congress or the protesting American
public. Hussein could, no doubt, claim that in failing to
adhere to U.N. Resolution 441 he is just exercising his sovereign
right to unilateral noncompliance. More convincingly, attention
can be called to Hussein’s brutal chemical attack on Iraqi
Kurds in the late ’80s. Surely, any leader who presides over
the execution of his own people can be said to be a bad guy.
For example, a zealously pro-death-sentence governor who presides
over a record-breaking 152 state-sponsored executions, despite
protests from both human-rights advocacy groups and a Supreme
Court justice that the system is seriously flawed.
If you have faith in the United Nations to do the right things,
keep this in mind: The U.N. has Libya heading the Committee
on Human Rights and Iraq heading the Global Rights Committee.
Do your own math here.
and if you count on the Bush administration to do the right
thing, keep this in mind: The vice president is currently
receiving compensation of up to $1 million a year from his
former employer, a corporation with a vested interest in flattening
Iraq; and the man heading up the Total Information Awareness
office, John Poindexter, is a convicted felon. In case you’ve
forgotten, he oversaw the illegal sale of weapons to Iran
(a fundamentalist Islamic nation) and then lied to Congress
about it, under oath. Do your own math here.
you use a Google or Yahoo search and type “French Military
Victories,” don’t be surprised if your computer panics
at its inability to respond to your inquiry.
might makes right? You know who did have a pretty good run
there for a while, militarily speaking? The Nazis. (Oh, and
by the way, you moron, one of the greatest military strategists
ever fought for the glory of France. Napoleon isn’t just the
crazy guy in cartoons).
your only antiwar slogan is ‘No War for Oil,’ hire
a pit bull lawyer and sue your school district for having
allowed you to slip through the cracks and robbing you of
the minimum education that any non-troglodyte deserves.
just fits on a placard better than No Ill-Advised and Costly
Invasion at the Behest of Corporate Interests of an Abjectly
Impoverished Nation Struggling Under a Despot Whom Our Attack
Will Serve to Validate or, At Best, Martyr. Remember, keep
it simple, stupid.
can take this one to the bank: Saddam and bin Laden will not
seek U.N. approval before they try to kill us.
one seeks U.N. approval for anything these days, Dennis. That’s
so last century.
common belief among some, Martin Sheen is not the president.
He only plays one on TV.
Martin Sheen is not the president. And, sadly, Dennis Miller
is not the West Wing’s writer, Aaron Sorkin, who gives
his audience credit enough for intelligence that he attempts
to preserve at least a semblance of the moral and ethical
ambiguity involved in geopolitical affairs, thereby suggesting
that the vigilance required of patriotic Americans is not
of the lock-and-load, but the shut-up-and-think variety. Because
a lot of people are going to die.
you are antiwar and even an outright ‘America Basher,’
to bin Laden you are still an ‘infidel’ whom
he wants dead.
Be that as it may, we’re currently bombing Iraq. Not bin Laden,
a Saudi hiding in Afghanistan, or somewhere. Keep your eye
on the ball, Dennis.
you believe in a vast ‘right-wing conspiracy,’
but not in the danger that Hussein poses, the only job
you may be able to get is as an Ivy League college professor.
immediate neighbors don’t even think he’s a threat. Go, Crimson!
multi-culturalists who try to browbeat us into believing that
all cultures are equally deserving of respect have trouble
explaining the past 500 years of Islam.
the 16th century, the Muslims were constructing mosques in
Turkey that many still believe to be among the most beautiful
houses of worship ever constructed, and Western artists were
just picking up on Islamic art enough to be inspired to create
the baroque and rococo styles. Meanwhile, in 1515, the Fifth
Lateran Council forbade the printing of books without church
permission, Pizarro ordered the strangulation of the last
Inca in 1533, and, in 1542, Pope Paul II instituted the Universal
Inquisition in Rome. A banner century for Christianity.
you are for or against military action, our young men and
women overseas are fighting to defend our right to speak out
on these issues. They deserve our unreserved support.
something we can almost agree on. Our young men and women—and
their young men and women—deserve our unreserved support.
We express that support—and our appreciation for our freedom
to express ourselves and for the comparatively unregulated
flow of information—by carefully and soberly assessing the
sources and quality of the information. We seek out accurate
and balanced information because we understand that lives
depend on decisions and decisions depend on thoughtful, compassionate
consideration—and not punchline rhetoric.
It’s not a bumper sticker, or a patriotic T-shirt.
It’s not a late-show monologue.
It’s not a fucking joke.