Nation of Idiots:
Beavis and Butthead's Grandfather Runs for President
By Michael I. Niman, ArtVoice (etc) 8/14/08
I finally watched Idiocracy, the sci-fi humor movie about evolution working in reverse, degrading the human species through excessive breeding of idiots. The movie takes place 500 years into the future when the most popular TV show is called “Ow My Balls!” It was cheap entertainment – a good mindless summer flick, albeit a bit classist. Nothing earth shattering here.
Eat Your Boogers
The next day, however, I headed off to the woods on a backcountry camping trip. En route I learned that the local weather forecast called for a week of rain, so I decided to stop off at a bookstore on the way to get something to read during rainstorms. Upon entering Walden Books, I asked the clerk if they had a sociology section. He looked confused and said he’d check. About ten minutes later, after I found a small shelf labeled “social science,” he returned and told me that “ur, the computer says sociology would be in the social science section – that’s over here.” The featured book on display at the checkout counter was “Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Boogers.” The day went on like that. Lots of spooky interactions with not quite smart people.
When I returned from the woods, I started to catch up on the news –particularly the presidential election. Former Texas Republican senator, Phil Gramm, who had emerged as John McCain’s economic advisor and apparent choice to become Secretary of the Treasury should McCain be elected president, was making headlines with his synopsis of the United States’ economic woes. The nation, according to McCain’s economy wiz, is not really having an economic crisis. No. We’re in what Gramm calls a “mental recession.” The real problem, he argued, are “whiners.” Maybe that’s why the Republican congressional election effort this year, according to the New York Times, adopted “The Change You Deserve,” as their slogan – the same phrase Wyeth Pharmaceuticals uses to market their anti-depressant Effexor.
Let’s stop here for a non-moron reality check. The collapse of our overheated housing market has caused an epidemic of mortgage defaults and a ripple effect that threatens to collapse our increasingly unregulated irresponsible usurious banking industry. Our warmongering has bankrupted the federal government, who in turn are borrowing money all over the globe to feed a record federal budget deficit while, following the Reagan model, providing fewer and fewer services. Our addiction to Chinese sweatshop booty caused a record trade deficit. These factors together have collapsed the US dollar, further increasing the rapidly rising cost of imported oil – which unfortunately, despite its toxicity to the environment, fuels the economy. American automakers, unable to move their humongous inventories of obese giganto gas guzzling SUVs (d’uh), are posting record losses, further eroding confidence in the stock market.
The lifeblood of the economy is credit. That’s the stuff we used to finance the WPA jobs projects during the Great Depression. Only now, we’ve maxed out our credit, both as individuals and as a national entity. We’re the world’s largest debtor nation. We can’t borrow our way out of this mess. Our credit is shot since we already hocked the house.
And we’re facing something called stagflation. It’s a nasty combination of inflation and economic stagnation. The fix for inflation is higher interest rates and tighter credit—the same stuff that worsens economic stagnation. And of course the stagnation fix, more credit, increases inflation. With stagflation, we’ve moved into theoretical territory. We don’t quite know exactly what to do from here. What I’m getting at is, we’re in deep economic shit with very real problems. It’s not a mental recession. We haven’t imagined a recession. Our problems are real and no amount of McCain/Gramm economic Prozac or Effexor will get us out of this mess. These people are idiots—but they’re running a real life presidential campaign. This is no joke folks. People are losing their houses and jobs.
The Know it All
Meanwhile that pesky Obama fellow took a whirlwind international tour, doing what no president has been able to do since 2000—correctly pronounce the names of not only the countries he was visiting, but of the leaders he was greeting as well. The press was agog with Obama’s knowledge of geography and world politics. The McCain camp needed a quick fix to boost their candidate’s image against such genius, so they launched two new ads—one comparing Obama to Moses, and another comparing him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, the later being the daughter of a prominent McCain campaign donor.
It’s really an odd trinity the McCainites came up with here. The Moses ad was downright bizarre, with snippets of Obama speeches chased with a scene of former NRA President Charlton Heston playing Moses in the 1956 film, “The Ten Commandments.” I think McCain’s trying to tell the TV audience that Obama is getting a bit uppity—he ain’t Moses. He ain’t Charlton Heston. Or something like that. Who knows? There supposedly are insinuations here that Obama is the anti-Christ, which as I understand, is a bad thing. At face value, however, all the ads really show is that Obama seems like a pretty decent public speaker—one who could channel for John Kennedy as opposed to McCain’s channeling of Dicks Nixon and Cheney.
The Spears/Hilton ad is a bit stranger. The message here is that Obama, damn him, is famous, like Spears and Hilton. And you wouldn’t want those ho’s running the country, so don’t vote for Obama. Ya follow? The Republican Party’s own Fox “News” claims that as of press time, the McCain camp is spending $400,000 a day on this theme—almost their entire media budget. Every social, economic and environmental system we have is in crisis. The crises were brought on by Bush and Clinton administration policies that were supported by John McCain. McCain is now running for president, and his main message is that his opponent Obama is a ho like Britney and Paris. Ow my balls. Maybe next week they’ll link Obama to South Park’s Terrance and Phillip. I can see it now. Barak Obama thinks he’s Moses but he hangs with ho’s and farts. Vote for John McCain. The Viet Cong tortured him.
It seems surreal, but it appears to play well with certain audiences. Polls show, for example, a bounce for McCain after the Moses and ho’s ads started running, with one of his strongest surges in Oklahoma where he’s pulled ahead with a two to one plurality. Hi-yidi-yidi-yay!
McCain’s Flat Tire
Than there’s the tire pressure debate. Obama at some recent point talked about conservation—simple things we can do like “keeping our car tires inflated.” McCain, seemingly channeling this time for Ronald Reagan during the height of his “trees are the main cause of air pollution” days, slammed Obama for being ignorant—arguing that tire pressure’s got nothing to do with fuel efficiency. I dunno why the fuck we even have tires.
McCain’s campaign team, seemingly without a brain between them, quickly started distributing silk-screened gag Obama tire pressure gauges. That was until, d’uh, some smart guy came along and told them why we put air in tires and why, in fact, the US federal government now requires tire pressure monitors as standard equipment on all new cars sold in this country. Something about saving lives and gas. But hell, if you hate that Britney Obama Paris Moses ho, by all means let the air out of your tires and show them pinkos what real Americans are made of.
Generally McCain’s policies run from loony to insane. He wants to continue the Iraq war indefinitely with no plan to pay for it, staff it, or contend with the political fallout it ignites every day or the ethical issues involved with killing hundreds of thousands of people. When asked for details, he just shares his hallucinations, arguing, for instance, that the killing fields of Baghdad are now safe for American politicians to stroll unarmed, and victory is at hand, though we might have to stay for a “hundred” or “ten thousand” years.
This is the McCain version of George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished,” where he declared the Iraq War won in 2003. Just for a reality check, in case you were considering a stroll around Baghdad or anyplace else in Iraq, during the 24 hours preceding this column going to press, Iraqi resistance fighters and/or ethnic insurgents targeted a bank, a town hall, a Finance Ministry convoy, three military patrols, a mercenary unit and the Green Zone.
McCain’s foreign policy is right out of the dark ages -- basically war anywhere over anything, with Iran on his radar for the next big battle, concurrent with our current fiascos in Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia, again with no plan to pay for or staff the new war, or deal with the fallout from an all out shooting war in the Persian Gulf. And these wars can be literally anywhere, with McCain recently addressing conflicts on the “Iraq-Pakistan border,” which doesn’t exist, and a fuel crisis in Czechoslovakia, which no longer exists. Yahoo!
On the domestic front, McCain is a shill for the nuclear power industry, wanting to build a slew of new nuclear power plants, but in signature style, having no plan for nuclear wastes or nuclear security. He’s campaigning heavily on the red meat issue of opening up offshore areas in the Hurricane ravaged Gulf of Mexico for drilling, even though the Department of Energy says that even with the best case scenario, such drilling won’t significantly impact the price or supply of oil. The list goes on. Simply put, it’s the continuation of the Bush agenda, only sugar coated and branded as “change,” like in “loose change.” It’s no surprise that McCain’s campaign is currently being managed mostly by various corporate lobbyists—which doesn’t bode well for a McCain cabinet.
With Bush we got eight years of corporate looting of the nation’s hard-earned wealth. The easy to find treasure is now pretty much gone. With McCain we’ll have four more years of kleptocrats picking at the national corpse. Eventually there’ll be nothing left. But we should vote for this guy because, well, something about him standing up against bullshit tire pressure pinkos and that anti-Christ smart talking celebrity fella. Ya gotta love American presidential elections.
Dr. Michael I. Niman is a professor of journalism and media studies at Buffalo State College. His AV columns are archived at mediastudy.com and available globally through syndication.
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