Bread and Circuses: Side Show Freaks

I have figured out the proper role of government in our lives. Step one is to find out the #1 most important issue to the citizenry. Step two is to go ape shit doing everything but.

I’m hardly to first person to connect these dots. But this morning something really hammered this point home.

Information came my way that the great state of Arizona enacted a law on Friday that prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for family planning and health services and organizations that also provide abortions. In other words, Planned Parenthood.

Here’s the kicker: Arizona currently provides no funds to Planned Parenthood. They just invented a solution for a problem that currently does not exist.

The Republican-driven Act was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer making Arizona the seventh state to enact such a ban. Legal challenges to similar laws are currently underway in three of those states.

What is the #1 issue on the minds of Americans? A recent nationwide poll found that 48% said “economy/jobs” was the “most important problem facing our country today.” A Reuters/Ipsos poll earlier in April had a 53% response. And in March a CNN/ORC poll also had a 53% response.

The CBS/New York Times showed issue #2 as a tie between health care and national debt at a measly 5 percent.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed health care with 14% response as issue #2.

The CNN/ORC poll showed the tightest margin with the national debt as issue #2 with a whopping 20% response.

The response regarding the economy/jobs was unequivocally #1. What do you call 50 percent vs. 20 percent? A fucking landslide. A mandate.

One out of every two Americans is worried about the economy and jobs in our country. They say it is the most important issue facing our country today.

Meanwhile the great state of Arizona just fixed a problem that as yet does not exist. They’re busy out finding solutions for problems (and there’s hardly universal agreement here) that might happen in the future.

At the federal level, our presidential politicians are getting ready to do battle over issues like whether a woman should be required to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion. They will also do battle on other issues like federal funding of Planned Parenthood and the overturning of Roe V. Wade. None of which the voters have said are of top concern. Clearly what’s on their mind is the economy and jobs. But that won’t be enough to stop these battles from taking place. The side issues that divert the spotlight from issue #1 are a strange prioritization of our political processes.

Strangely enough, it seems to me that the same folks who normally decry what they call “big government” are more than happy to embrace government intrusion into private lives by using the force of government to require citizens to undergo medical procedures on the occasions when it fits their personal agendas.

What is the purpose of an ultrasound before abortion, anyway? To try to change the mother’s mind? What if she won’t look and listen? Does the law require her eyeballs to be taped upon and fixated on the monitor? According to, the law in Texas also requires that doctors “describe” the anatomy of the fetus. Seven states currently require an ultrasound before abortion.

Following the ultrasound and the storytelling by the doctor comes a forced 24-hour “waiting period” (also legislated by the state) where the woman has to leave the clinic and then go through the ordeal of returning the next day.

Other important issues facing our country will likely push #1 economy/jobs to the side of the plate during the next six months. Prepare for lots of talk about gay marriage. Maybe there will even be talk about a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag burning, too. As we’ve seen, it doesn’t matter whether it’s actually an ongoing problem or not. Only if it has the teeth to incite, divide, distract and wag the dog. (Oops. I almost forgot. One should avoid the word “dog” these days.)

For your science experiment homework, watch carefully during the coming months and see if you can spot other issues that distract. Document your findings below.

6 responses

  1. Hey, When I saw “Bread and Circuses” I thought I was going to get a nod for my tweet on the Prez putting the jam on “Bread and Circuses” on slow jamming Jimmy Failin’. I guess I’m giving a shout out to myself. How embarrassing!

    It’s true that we are being distracted by distractions, and I was just reading about that. In the immortal words of James Carville, “It’s the Economy, Stupid.”

    Bureau of Labor Statistics


    1. I searched in vain for that tweet. I curse Twitter’s insane expiration date on tweets. But what’s wrong with a shout out for yourself? That’s the only kind I know.

      Yes, it is the economy. I’d very much be interested in seeing who has the best ideas for fixing it. It would make for an interesting race. Too bad it won’t happen.

      I couldn’t help but notice that Joe Biden served up a super-sized portion of marriage equality on Sunday after I posted this piece. Am I prescient or what? (That’s a little shout out to myself.)


  2. It is pretty amazing how pols will find “issues” that the majority of voters say are of secondary importance and promote them to primary importance. It’s an easy tactic, because in all these Culture War issues, it’s easier to get people fired up. There’s actually SOMEONE to demonize: a “slut” wanting free contraception, a muslim, a mexican, gun-owners or gun-haters.

    The economy, on the other hand, is BORING. It’s full of stats that are hard to analyze and trends that often seem contradictory. Anyone with a brain knows that a President or Congress can do very little to acutely change macro-economic trends, but don’t tell the networks that.


    1. So, to finish the thought, the issues that really matter are not the ones that decide elections, right? Also, being tall doesn’t hurt, either.


  3. It’s obvious that “economy” is the complaint of only leftist boobs and gay people.
    All good god fearing republicans know that the fight to impose their morality on everyone is more important.


    1. Interesting thought. I’ll take a look and see if I can determine how the priorities differ, if at all, based on ideology. Good idea!


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