New York, near America
Never mind America’s backstage squabbles and squalors, our societal troubles and turpitudes, our devastations and disappointments. All eyes, please, on the spotlighted proscenium! Pay no attention to those ring-kissed plutocrats and oligarchs behind the curtain; behold, as it rises on the Theatre of Distraction.
Hark! The pieties, platitudes, and perfidies we hear compose a farcical prelude to the oldest established permanent floating crap game in these United States: the quadrennial presidential campaign season.
Per custom at this stage of the game, festivities were officially launched last week by the State of the Union address, that yearly pinnacle of America’s political calendar. As spunky a lame duck leader as ever there was, President Barack Obama delivered the address for his next-to-last time. He articulated a Maginot line of progressive proposals meant to fortify his Democratic Party confrères; simultaneously, he inspired a fresh round of denunciation and disrespect on the part of a disloyal opposition.
Among the latter group of partisans, fifteen stalwarts are now vying for the honor of being chosen the nation’s next right-wing clown king. Which is to say, the presidential nominee of that amalgam of bigots, buffoons, seditionists, and sermonizers in servitude to scheming billionaires known as the Republican Tea Party. Between now and the summer of 2016, when party delegates convene in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, the fifteen contestants will travel the land amusing and enraging us with shenanigans, slogans, and shibboleths.
Democratic Party delegates, meanwhile, will assemble in either New York or Philadelphia—the host city decision is imminent—to select their contrastive presidential candidate. But alas, the prospect of mystery is slim. Ordinarily disputatious, the Democrats seem bent on coronation for Hillary “Ho-Hum” Clinton, the ex-secretary of state and owner of an impressive wardrobe of pastel pantsuits. As queen of Clinton, Incorporated, the perpetual fundraising organization established twenty-five years ago by her husband, she is already well along to amassing the millions upon millions of dollars demanded as key money on a White House lease. Mrs. Clinton’s phlegmatic rivals are simply no match for her prowess in wheedling “donations” from Wall Street bankers and associated corporatists.
And so, we innocent bystanders of Potemkin democracy look to the Republican Tea Partiers for fun. We are unlikely to be disappointed, for there are considerable rumbles in the wings that bespeak a convention my late Aunt Retta would call a “capital-W whoop-de-do-and-how-do-you do,” complete with an anticipated parade of pachyderms—the inexplicable party symbol. With fifteen firecracker egos shooting for the party crown, how could be anything but whoop-de-do? O, the sizzling tension among fifteen grown-up schoolboys! The freshmen and sophomores are hard at work slandering and lying and holding out their beggars’ bowls. The upper classmen are throwing pies.
However, they are not talking about things that matter; serious things such as public policy—or “politics,” the actual shorthand term. They will not talk of actual politics during the long months of election campaigning, now a mainstay of the American entertainment industry. They have defiled that word politics, the same as they’ve twisted liberal—meaning one who believes in liberty—into a label for tyranny at the hands of what they revel in calling the “Volvo-driving, communist caffè latte-sucking, sushi-eating, France-loving, New York Times-reading elite,” currently led by an African American president they call a “Muslim- socialist-America-hating-Kenyan-homosexual.”
The once honorable Republican Party, founded by Abraham Lincoln, was hijacked a few years ago by reactionary, name-calling dullards of the so-called Tea Party. The now unified philosophy is, accordingly: in America, we ain’t got no politics, jus’ elections.
Nobody serves the cause of this Absurdity better than ambitious right-wingers in heat.
But even the hottest heads among the Republican Tea Party are embarrassed by their nominee for vice president in 2008—the acuity-challenged Sarah Palin, half-term governor of Alaska known in her state as “Caribou Barbie.” Unhappily, the party hasn’t figured out how to keep her quiet, or away from official events. In a television interview last Saturday, she said “I’m interested” in running for president in 2016. Later in the day, she confused an audience at the “Iowa Freedom Summit” in Des Moines by saying of both Democratic and Teapublican presidential prospects, “[We can’t] afford no retreads (sic) or nothing will change with the same people and same policies that got us into the status quo…[B]y the way, y’know the man can only ride ya when your back is bent.”
Save for the perky Ms. Palin, the Republican Tea Party is essentially a steak and bourbon club for man-children. It is also monochromatically Caucasian, despite the usual jesterly exception to the rule. This year, two exceptions: Louisiana Governor Piyush “Bobby the Runt” Jindal, a sixty-nine inch tall one-time Hindu turned Christian wacko; and ex-neurosurgeon Ben “the Good Negro” Carson, who has held scalpels though no public offices. But the passions they assumed, in order to please the pale, will continue as tenets of the party belief system:
- To a flock of British journalists assembled on January 18, Mr. Jindal disclosed that London and Paris are replete with dicey “no-go zones” ruled by Muslim fanatics. Last Saturday in Baton Rouge, he was honored at the second annual jamboree of Christian rightists known as “The Response: a Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis.” Highlight of the event was the laying of hands upon The Chosen One—this year Mr. Jindal. Two of the holiest hands belonged to Cindy Jacobs, a national evangelist preacher for the Jindal cause, and a Texas “prophet” who purports to have raised people from the dead.
- Dr. Carson, whose own brain is said by a number of his colleagues to be in need of medical repair, has on several occasions declared President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment “the worst thing in America since slavery.” He refers to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which has flattened the inflation rate of health costs and now covers some ten million previously uninsured Americans.
Mainstream media have dutifully reported this twaddle, as well as blather from competitors of the ex-Hindu and thankfully retired physician. They are all brothers of a kind, these men who would be president—cynical enough to take advantage of voters ignorant enough to take them seriously.
Thus are cynicism and ignorance upon us—a flash dance of photo ops; ghost-written memoirs with plenty of pictures; and red meat rhetoric in the old cause of uniting the socioeconomic resentments of god-fearing, gun-crazed, hemorrhoid-suffering poor white folks with the hush-hush machinations of the rich. Be damned the indubitable social concerns of the nation’s unfinished business!
Let them entertain you:
- Marco “Pucker Lips” Rubio swims to and fro in a goldfish bowl of fishy rhetoric, which may account for the odd shape of his mouth. As a Cuban-American, he touts copectic ethnic credentials before Spanish-speaking audiences desirous of empathetic government policy in the area of immigration. But he told English-speaking reporters in Washington last year, “There’s (sic) a lot of issues going on in the country and immigration right now is not at the forefront.”
- New Jersey Governor Chris “Bluto” Christie is a folk hero to those who admire a beefy lout who browbeats female aides and voters alike —invariably calling them “sweetheart” after proclaiming them “dumb” or “inexplicably stupid.”
- Willard Mittington “Money Bags” Romney, the billionaire zombie candidate sensibly known as “Mitt,” is revving up a third presidential bid. He failed to win party blessings in 2008 but claimed them in 2012—only to be soundly whipped by Mr. Obama, after famously declaring, “I don’t worry about low-income Americans.” He now presents himself as the only man capable of stamping out “the scourge of poverty.”
- As a penny-pinching Arkansas college student who would come to govern his state, Mike “Hooray for Jesus” Huckabee kept a hot-plate in his dormitory room to prepare dinners of roasted squirrel. Nowadays an obese, guitar-playing ordained Baptist preacher and TV scold—and author of “God, Guns, Grits & Gravy”—he is a superstar of the vilification business. Presently, Mr. Huckabee clucks about the “mental poison” of songs performed by the African American “sex object” Beyoncé. (He has himself, however, played bass guitar accompaniment for a Ted Nugent performance of “Cat Scratch Fever,” a tune about Mr. Nugent’s history of syphilitic sufferings.)
- John Ellis “Three Times a Charm Jeb” Bush—younger brother of America’s all-time worst president, George W. Bush; son of President George H.W. Bush, whose 1988 campaign conflated the image of an African American murderer and rapist with that of his Democratic opponent—is an affable practitioner of dog-whistle bigotry. During a campaign of his own, for governor of Florida, Mr. Bush horrified middle- and working-class white voters by warning, “There are people who believe in expanding the welfare state across the spectrum of races and ethnicities and creeds!”
- Randal Howard “I Got Mine” Paul, a self-styled libertarian who proudly adopted the nickname “Rand” as homage to the late “Virtue of Selfishness” author Ayn Rand, has written: “Money in the form of taxes is confiscated from the producers in society and redistributed to those who can’t or won’t produce. …The immoral act of stealing thus has become moral in the eyes of society. …Underlying the whole welfare concept is the principle of theft.”
- The devoutly apoplectic Senator Lindsey Olin “Lordy-Lordy” Graham of South Carolina explains his reverence for the high-powered rifle most favored by mass murderers thusly: “If there’s a cyber attack against the country and the power grid goes down and the dams are released and chemical plants…discharge [and there are] armed gangs roaming around neighborhoods [then] a better self-defense weapon may be a semi-automatic AR-15 versus a double-barrel shotgun.”
- James Richard “Rick the Specs” Perry, longest serving governor of Texas, seeks now to counter his reputation as the dimmest bulb in the candelabra of Republican Tea Party presidential hopefuls in 2012. He has been fitted out with dark-colored, Einsteinian horn-rimmed glasses. On the matter of gays and lesbians, ever popular among his party as punching bags, the intelligent-looking Texan opines, “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not (sic), you have the ability to decide not to do that. …[For example] I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined (sic) to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that (sic), and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”
- George Elmer “Who?” Pataki of New York—governor of the state three governors ago, and previously mayor of a suburban town called Peekskill—recently announced he was “seriously considering” the presidency. Few who heard the news could imagine why.
- Wisconsin Governor Scott Kevin “Bust ‘em Up” Walker, is a proud union-basher who knows precisely why he is detested for drastically reducing collective bargaining rights for public employees. “Big government union bosses from Washington want their money,” he tells voters—and ultra-conservative brothers Charles and David Koch, the oil barons who hosted Mr. Walker and others last weekend at a posh California resort. “They don’t like the fact that I did something fundamentally pro-worker; something that’s truly about freedom.”
- Senator Rafael Eduardo “Il Duce” Cruz, the Canadian-born son of the homophobic Cuban émigré evangelist Rafael Cruz, asks to be called “Ted.” Which sounds more Ah-mahr-kin, as it’s pronounced in his home state of Texas. Somehow an alumnus of Harvard University, Mr. Cruz is a prince in the strange universe of science bashers and climate change deniers. “You always have to be worried about something that is considered a so-called scientific theory that fits every scenario,” he declaimed a few weeks ago. “Climate change, as they have defined it, can never be disproved because whether it gets hotter or whether it gets colder—whatever happens—they’ll say, well it’s changing, so it proves our theory.”
- A television blowhard and frequent pleader for leniency in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Donald John “Rat Rug” Trump is never without two things whilst swanning about Manhattan by night: his skimpily-clad wife of the moment, exhibiting décolletage of alpine dimension, and the mustard-colored rodent pelt stitched to his sun-lamped cranium. He is chief peddler of the theory that Barack Obama is not a citizen of the United States, and therefore an illegitimate president. Mr. Trump told the national press, “I have people that have been studying [Obama’s birth certificate], and they cannot believe what they’re finding…[I]f he wasn’t born in this country, which is a real possibility…then he has pulled one of the great cons of history.” Once again—he has done this many times over the past two decades—Mr. Trump tells us that “many people” urge him to run for the presidency. Once again, he declines to name any of the Many. And he has yet to reveal the unbelievable findings of his birth certificate investigation squad.
- Richard John “Frothy Rick” Santorum—a Pennsylvania homophobe who believes that same-sex marriage could evolve into “man on dog” unions, but who vigorously denies Charles Darwin’s ape-to-man evolution theory—has the honor, deservedly or otherwise, of his surname devolving to unfortunate neologism. Upon Googling the word “Santorum,” one finds this definition: “A frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” Mr. Santorum, who worries about wickedness, asks us, “If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one [for Satan] to go after than the United States, and that has been the case now for some two-hundred years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great founding fathers.”
The Cuyahoga River, a principal commercial waterway in Cleveland, is famous for having twice caught fire—twice: in 1969 and 1952. The city is more recently famous for the shooting death, late last autumn, of an African American boy—twelve-year-old Tamir Rice—by Timothy Loehmann, a white cop recently fired from a suburban police department due to insubordination and improper conduct with firearms.
On November 16, Officer Loehmann responded to a call about a “black guy with a gun—probably a fake” sitting under a gazebo in a Cleveland park. Rather than approach the scene cautiously, with a call for additional officers, Officer Loehmann raced up to the boy in a department prowl car, lowered the window and shot him at point-blank range. Hearing the shots, Tamir’s fourteen-year-old sister came running. The killer cop’s white partner, Officer Frank Garmback, wrestled the girl to the ground, cuffed her, and shoved her into the backseat of the prowl car as her brother lay bleeding to death. Tamir’s gun was indeed a toy, a pocket size pellet pistol he acquired from another youth by trading away his cell phone.
Memories of that day in the park last November will have faded by summer of 2016 when Republican Tea Partiers in Cleveland with funny hats (and hates) gather for their razzle-dazzle convention. The name Tamir Rice will not be heard above the whoop-de-do-and-how-do-you-do, nor will anyone mention the combustible Cuyahoga.
President Obama alluded to Tamir Rice in his State of the Union address last week, among other social ills in need of cures. He also alluded to obstructionist tactics by Republican Tea Party members of Congress who continue to thwart his efforts at tending to unfinished business—income inequality; wage stagnation; crumbling infrastructure, literal and fatal; lower pay for women doing the same work as men; and the ongoing shame of Guantánamo, the off-shore U.S. military torture chamber chronicled by inmate Mohamedou Ould Slahi at: guantanamodiary.com.
The official Republican Tea Party response to all this—thoroughly unresponsive, actually—was delivered by Senator Joni Ernst. Ms. Ernst earned her own Palinesque bona fides with reminiscences of hog castrations back in her Iowa farm lassie days. Dubbed “The Nutcracker” by Capitol Hill wags, Ms. Ernst spent her time and ours more in autobiography than rejoinders to the president. Perhaps the party elders decided there might be entertainment value in what she told the nation:
As a young girl, I plowed the fields of our family farm. I worked construction with my dad. To save for college, I worked the morning biscuit line at Hardees. We were raised to live simply, not to waste. It was a lesson my mother taught me every rainy morning. You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry. But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.
As Bobby Jindal and his co-religionists in Baton Rouge might say—and did say, many times last Saturday—“God help America.”
Thomas Adcock is America correspondent for CulturMag.
Im Februar 2015 erscheint seine Erzählung “The Cannibal of Pang Yang” als eBook bei CulturBooks. Zur Vorschau.