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Emad Hajjaj, Jordan

Is It an Election or a Bad Reality TV Show?

On the War in Yemen and Other Things We Don’t Like to Think About


The United States has devolved into one giant, sick reality television show. We’ve been overrun by a wave of moronic ignorance, and the whole country has been reduced to a myopic clown car of stupidity.

For instance, there’s a war going in Yemen right now. Not that you’ve heard anything about it. It’s buried under the “real” headlines. One of the poorest and most ancient countries in the world is being shelled into smithereens by Saudi cluster bombs and other heinous forms of Western ammunition. People … men, women, and children … are being massacred. Historical sites dating back thousands of years are being turned into piles of rubble. And that’s the tip of the iceberg on the bad craziness the world over. Ask the average guy on the street about it, though, and he’s likely to give you a blank stare, followed by some ranting about some trashy hillbilly reality TV show, all before changing the topic to pro wrestling.

M.D. Harkins
Click to enlarge photo

M.D. Harkins

This nightmare came into full view in the last week or so. A whole series of things happened, so I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly where the turning point was. Looking back on it, the moment probably was wandering into a huge, monolithic sporting goods store on the edge of the desert that had a bronze statue of Ronald Reagan out front. That scared the shit out of me more than the prospect of paddling out off Sands Beach with a bucket of chum tied to my ass.

A world chockfull of crises has taken a back seat to the real “news,” “news” ranging from some ex-fast food spokesman/idol turning out to be a pederast who gets his jollies off masturbating while watching kindergarten beauty pageants, or some lecherous hillbilly with 9 million kids doing something … something I still haven’t figured out. People are enthralled by this. But why?

Really though, the most bizarre spectacle I’ve seen lately is the Republican debates, the pair of which seem to be some sort of scripted weirdness that only an acid casualty could concoct. It was like watching ultra-competitive, frothing carnival barkers trying their damndest to out scream each other about how quickly they could destroy the working class, women’s rights, and bomb the living piss out of Iran. Manson might fit in the Republican field at this point and draw great poll numbers.

Take Scott Walker, for example. I was watching him rail about how he’ll “do to the U.S. what he did in Wisconsin.” Which is great, I suppose, if you’re some plutocrat who wants to pay the peons the prevailing wage in Bangladesh, but it certainly isn’t good for us working schleps. This is, after all, the same guy who gutted education in Wisconsin, the same guy who broke public unions, and the same guy who, in all of his “conservative” wisdom, approved some $500 million or so to be allocated to his billionaire friends to build a new arena in Milwaukee for a professional sports franchise. I know that’s what I’m looking for in a candidate. Real “conservative” values.

Then again, I’ve never trusted anyone who has a bald spot the shape of Thailand. Not to mention his stated intention to stick it to the Iranians, which could very well bring about World War III, or in the “best case” scenario, another 10-year-plus campaign of fighting for … something. Nobody’s ever been really clear on that one either, dating back to Vietnam. Maybe he’ll rely on dubious intelligence to invade Turkmenistan so he can topple the golden Niyazov statue for a photo-op. Nothing would surprise me.

Speaking of pointless foreign adventures, this brings me to Jeb Bush. Oh great. Just what I want … another four (or, god forbid, more) years of a Bush in the White House. “Dubya” made Nixon look like the Dalai Lama, and yet some people are clamoring for more. I’m not sure if people are that stupid or if they just have the collective memory of a goldfish. Maybe it’s both.

Really, what good can come out of a disaster like that? Another PATRIOT Act? More foreign wars? Increased federal meddling? More spying? He did, after all, say that his foreign policy expert was his brother, George. That’s reassuring. Some dimwitted frat boy cokehead who, over the course of eight years, spent us into the poor house bombing goatherders and destabilized an entire region over a personal vendetta against a toothless dictator and as a bonus aside enriched his pals in the Military Industrial Complex. He’s an expert alright, an expert on how to fly a plane into the side of a god damned mountain. I know I want to live through that again. Who knows, maybe we’ll go invade Bhutan next. That king is a real bastard I hear.

And of course there are others. There’s Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon, who at times seems sensible enough, but his main problem is the last black doctor that America trusted was Dr. Huxtable, and we’ve all seen how that turned out.

Marco Rubio seems to be rife with insecurity in his position. A minority who clamors to be white. He tries to compensate for his racial handicap in the field by trying to warmonger with the rest of them, hoping in vain that buddying up with Netanyahu, a veritable Jewish Eichmann, or increasing surveillance on American citizens will show he’s as lily white as Orrin Hatch and appeal to “the base.”

Mike Huckabee is making his annual appearance to preach to the bible thumpers, and his words resonate with some 3 percent of the population, but he has competition this time around with the Canadian-born Ted Cruz who’s spent the last year pandering to the Jesus Freaks in hope they’ll vote for him. Where are the people claiming he isn’t a citizen? Where is the demand for his long form birth certificate? Things are noticeably quiet on that front.

And of course there’s Chris Christie, who looks like he’s more suited for holding court at Dunkin’ Donuts than running a country. He’s really proven to be a maverick. More surveillance on citizens. Prosecute the pot smokers. Hey, Chris, I hate to break it to you, but it isn’t 1950 anymore and Hearst isn’t around to run fear campaigns. I guess Roger Ailes, Sheldon Adelson, or the Koch brothers could help him on that front, though.

And I liked Rand Paul once upon a time because I thought he’d be like his father, whom I greatly admire. But his old man he is not. Not even close. And he becomes more like the others every time he opens his mouth.

Where have you gone Barry Goldwater?

You know you may as well hang it up when Donald Trump seems refreshing. Say what you want about the guy, but it’s damned funny to see someone who owes nothing to anyone up there ranting and raving about things a lot of people think but are too afraid to say. Is he over the top? Sure. But he’s The Donald. His whole fucking life is over the top. He didn’t get to where he was by being meek and getting in line.

To me, the very idea of a Trump presidency is somewhat intriguing in a macabre sense. I imagine a cabinet full of sultry Latin and Eastern European supermodels, television cameras in the Oval Office, and him screaming “You’re fired!” at some stooge who manages to fuck something up for him, like bringing him a club sandwich when he asked for a Reuben. Donald would then pace furiously around the Rose Garden muttering “L’état, c’est Moi” to himself. In the world of politics I’ve been accustomed to over my lifetime, I actually could enjoy that. It would be refreshing.

I haven’t even gotten to our “choices” on the Democratic side, which are about as bad. Hillary is up to her ass in problems, and even if she wasn’t, she’s about as personable as Genghis Khan with hemorrhoids, which doesn’t bode well in an election, even if, at times, she seems somewhat sane compared to the Republican lunatics, which admittedly isn’t hard to do. Even the “hot” candidate right now, the Zionist Bernie Sanders, seems more bluster than substance. It would be like electing Larry David as president. Consider my enthusiasm wholly curbed. And Martin O’Malley, the governor of Maryland, who apparently is still alive and in the race, recently denied an increase in funding of $11 million to public schools in Baltimore, one of the most impoverished places on Earth, but approved funding for a $30 million youth prison. Clearly a guy with his priorities straight.

What an unmitigated disaster. My family has been here for over 400 years, but if push came to shove, I could always get on a plane to Beirut I suppose. Or some obscure tropical hamlet in Micronesia where I could knock back a multitude of Harvey Wallbangers, mingle with topless natives, and ignore it all. At least I wouldn’t have to hear about some god damned reality television show. Or be around when President Scott Walker erects “Arbeit Mact Frei” signs in cities across the country.

Every empire crumbles I suppose, but at least Rome had state-sponsored orgies. We don’t even get that.

I’d say I fear for our future, but it’s already here. A country of bad reality TV worshipped by buffoons, morose politicians, rampant fear, ignorance, myopia, and a general disinterest in anything of substance.

America Über Alles.



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