Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Reflections on National Bullshit Day

National Bullshit Day, September 11, is too new of a holiday to have acquired the rich traditions associated with our long established annual commemorations, such as the picnics and fireworks on July 4, or the furious mobbing of shopping malls to buy overpriced garbage that you can't afford to give to people who don't want or need it, in memory of the birth of Jesus.

But we can already begin to see the outlines of future National Bullshit Day traditions. Just as there's a guy who dresses up as Uncle Sam for the Memorial Day parade, every town will have a character who dresses as Rudy Giuliani, with a bald wig and a suit with the shoulders just a touch too big, who will give a speech extolling his own heroism. The president will issue the traditional National Bullshit Day proclamation, beginning, as did this year's, with the stirring words, "We are attacking Terrorism at its roots by advancing freedom, liberty and prosperity." He will be referring, of course, to the perpetual occupation of Iraq.

Each year, the general in charge of the occupation will make his traditional National Bullshit Day appearance before Congress. Every year, he will be wearing more medals, until they extend around under his armpit and up his back. By the year 2060, he will be unable to walk without assistance. The general will make the time-hallowed proclamation that whatever the current strategy may be named -- The Bump, The Shove, The Ramp Up, The Slam Dunk, The Big Bang, The Whiz Bang, The Ramalamadingdong -- it is working. We just need to give it another six months before we can decide on the next steps. After six months, of course, Tom Friedman or his successor as Mustache of Wisdom at the NY Times will issue the traditional declaration that we just need another six months, enabling the cycle to renew on the next National Bullshit Day.

The CIA will be responsible for producing the annual NBD Osama bin Laden video, traditionally released on NBD eve, to great anticipation. In order to keep the public entertained and the pundits guessing, they'll have to come up with new and more preposterous special effects each year. One year, his beard will be bright purple; the next, he'll be wearing women's clothing, or he'll be nude, or he'll play the fluglehorn. A grand time will be had by all.

But of course, the most important way of celebrating National Bullshit Day will be for the corporate media to compete to produce the biggest steaming piles of bovine excrement. Justin Cole at Media Matters has been bombarding me with e-mails compiling some of this year's best efforts. For example:

● Both The NY Times and The Washington Post neglected to mention in articles on the recent report by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq that the report called for the U.S. to reduce its “footprint” in Iraq.

● In discussing the same report, Katie Couric touted Iraq’s “first class” special ops force, but neglected to mention the report’s criticism of Iraqi security forces.

● On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume falsely claimed that Al-Qaeda in Iraq “was there before we got there.

● The Washington Post uncritically quoted Sen. McCain’s assertion that Democrats were voting “against funding for the troops.”

And so on and so forth. It's going to be a lot of fun every year, don't you think? I'm certainly looking forward to it.

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