When attempting to take the pulse of a nation, look no further than popular culture, family and politics, they say. Well, a quick look at these areas of American life gives a diagnosis of either clinically insane or clinically dead.

When attempting to take the pulse of a nation, look no further than popular culture, family and politics, they say. Well, a quick look at these areas of American life gives a diagnosis of either clinically insane or clinically dead.

Consider this story from the Boston Globe:
'Flat Daddy' cutouts ease longing

Globe Staff

August 30, 2006

Maine National Guard members in Iraq and Afghanistan are never far from the thoughts of their loved ones.

But now, thanks to a popular family-support program, they're even closer.

Welcome to the "Flat Daddy" and "Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home.

The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.

"I prop him up in a chair, or sometimes put him on the couch and cover him up with a blanket," said Kay Judkins of Caribou, whose husband, Jim, is a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan. "The cat will curl up on the blanket, and it looks kind of weird. I've tricked several people by that. They think he's home again."

At the request of relatives, about 200 Flat Daddy and Flat Mommy photos have been enlarged and printed at the state National Guard headquarters in Augusta. The families cut out the photos, which show the Guard members from the waist up, and glue them to a $2 piece of foam board.

Judkins said the cutout has been a comfort since her husband was deployed in January.

"He goes everywhere with me. Every day he comes to work with me," said Judkins, who works in a dentist's office. "I just bought a new table from the Amish community, and he sits at the head of the table. Yes, he does."

Cindy Branscom of Hallowell, whose husband, Colonel John Branscom, is in Afghanistan, said spouses of service members in the 240th Engineer Group often bring their Flat Daddies to monthly support meetings and group barbecues. She said one spouse, Mary Holbrook of Hermon, has been seen in the company of her cutout husband, Lieutenant Colonel Randall Holbrook.

"Mary has taken Randy to different events," Branscom said.

But then again, that's almost expected.

"I think it's wonderful," Branscom said. "My Flat Daddy sits in my dining room all the time. He even went to Easter dinner with us at my family's house."
Apart from the fact that there is precious little comment from the US mainstream media on the thousands of Lebanese children who will have to make do with just the memory of their daddies and mommies for the rest of their lives after US-made bombs dropped by Israel blew them to pieces, one has to wonder about the quality of parenting in US military families when a mere cardboard cut-out of a father or mother can provide "comfort" and "support" in the absence of the real thing. On the other hand, if the military mom or dad happens to never return home alive from their job of dispensing 'freedom' to the Arab world, and due to the nature of their death cannot be displayed in an open casket, the flat daddies and mommies would again come in handy.

If such ponderings make you a little uncomfortable, you will undoubtedly find heart-warming solace in the news from the world of popular American culture that Tom Cruise and wife Katie Holmes have set a new standard in crassness with the announcement that their child's first solid stool has been cast in bronze, placed in a museum and will be auctioned on ebay for children's charity. Get your check books out.

A spokesman for the gallery where the poo is on display stated:
"It's partially a statement on modern media that 'celebrity poop' has more entertainment value than health, famine or other critical issues facing society and governments today."
Indeed, I always found famine and other critical issues to be entertaining, and it truly is a travesty that more such stories are being denied the average American. I mean, think of the entertainment value in millions of Americans being informed of the fact that their government and the government of Israel are planning to turn a large part of the Middle East along with its inhabitants into a glass parking lot that would easily eclipse Cruises' progeney's stool in any museum. Think of the 'wow' factor involved in Americans reading about how their last two presidential elections were stolen, that their political leaders are patholigical liars and that they murdered almost 3,000 American citizens on 9/11 to further their own entertaining agenda. Talk about reality TV! The ratings would go through the roof!

Sadly however, we are stuck with the macabre curiosity value to be found in bronze celebrity poop, celebrity child birth, and the freakish nostalgia and patriotism provoked by stories of flat military daddies and sad little American boys and girls who might never see them again. And if that isn't evidence that the US government cares nothing for the well-being of the American people, then I don't know what is.

But take heart, while it may not be what they need, the entertainment value of a statue of Britney Spears giving birth to another potential US soldier for Jesus are an excellent way to distract the American population from the fact that they are marching down the road to their own mental, moral and probably physical destruction.