Br[ackets] and c[elebrities] — the panem et circenses of present-day America

Conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted. Take away their freedom, and still they’ll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate. It’s the sand of the Colosseum. He’ll bring them death, and they will love him for it. — Senator Gracchus, describing the Emperor Commodus’ political strategy, from the movie “Gladiator”

The events described in Mitch’s post this morning, the president’s prideful display once again of NCAA bracket-picking theatrics, and the White House’s decline into using sports personalities and now “twerking” videos to push Obamacare are further illustration of an appalling, dangerous triviality of American culture that the governing class are exploiting to our detriment.

I’ve discussed before the panem et circenses (bread and circuses) of Rome decried by Juvenal, the deliberate political strategy by Roman tyrants to keep the populace sedate through the continual offering of pleasure and mindless entertainment: “the distribution of food, public baths, gladiators, exotic animals, chariot races, sports competition, and theater representation.”

The occasion for that post was Time Magazine’s very telling different cover story for American readers vs. what it was selling the rest of the world:

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