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Sat

13

Oct

2007

Curtain call for Democracy
Saturday, 13 October 2007 14:49
by Jimmy Montague

On Monday, Oct. 8, a headline in the online edition of the New York Daily News declares: "Iowa caucus or bust for Barack Obama." The article says that Iowa "looks like a last chance" for Democrats who seek to wrest their party's nomination from the paws of Hillary Clinton, who"could be unstoppable if she takes Iowa."

John Edwards is quoted:
"Anybody who loses in Iowa will have an uphill battle from that point forward."
Barack Obama's campaign manager is quoted:
"Iowa — that's the whole shebang!" Gordon Fischer, former head of the Iowa Democratic Party says, "a win in Iowa is necessary for every candidate... "
Listen to mainstream journalism hype the Iowa Democratic Caucus, you get the idea that Iowa and her people are important to the Democratic Party. Listen to the hype, you think Democratic contenders who don't finish first in Iowa will drop out of the race. Truth is, that's all a lot of pig stuffing — and I ain't talkin' applesauce or sauerkraut or sage dressing, folks.

Iowa Democrats have a lousy record when it comes to picking winners. Candidates who lose the Iowa Democratic Caucus still enjoy a four-in-nine chance of winning the Democratic presidential nod, whereas candidates who win the Iowa Democratic Caucus have only a five-in-nine chance to win the Democratic Party's nomination. Of the five Democratic presidential nominees who also won the Iowa Democratic Caucus, only one — President Bill Clinton (unopposed in 1996) — went on to win the White House. In 1992, Clinton finished third in the Iowa Caucus (3 percent), behind Tom Harkin (76 percent) and Paul Tsongas (4 percent).

To simplify matters absolutely: In nine presidential elections during the period 1972-2004, Iowa Democrats picked only one winner. So it is: If I was a Democratic presidential contender I wouldn't give a spit if I won the Iowa Caucus or not.

The well-heeled shysters who now stump the Hawkeye State don't care who wins the Iowa Caucus, either. Obama, Edwards, Clinton and the rest come to Iowa only because, as members of America's governing elite, they are obliged to act leading roles in one or more of the political farces that are staged to perpetuate and broadcast the illusion that America is a democratic society.

Farce, however, is too light a medium to distract from the real situation. For to say (as many now do) that American politics has gone "through the looking glass" is inaccurate. American politics isn't upside-down or inside-out; it isn't the reverse image of anything. American politics has become something entirely strange, something horrid and monstrous and perverse. If politics is theater, the state of American politics is presently so bad that it looks like a thing Berthold Brecht might create, could Brecht only see today's America and express what he sees in those dark and heavy, raucously honking and clanking ironies that he wrote into Mother Courage and Her Children.

Imagine if you will:
On the vast stage of American politics, little room remains. The bulk of the space is consumed by the corpses of large animals — elephants and whales and horses and bison and the like. Most of them are rotten; many are in advanced stages of decay. Each of them supports a large sign upon which the name of one or another American idea or institution is writ large: "Congress," "Industrial Economy" "Supreme Court," "Public Education," "Constitution," "Department of Agriculture,""Bill of Rights," "Environmental Protection Agency," etc.

Crowded around each of the putrid carcasses, citizens fight over scraps of flesh. Those not seeking subsistence focus their attention on big-screen televisions or, as couples, queue up for a chance to copulate in one or another of the derelict cars that litter the space between carcasses. Some adults play in those cars: they sit behind the wheels and pretend steering while they make motor noises with their lips. Every citizen wears a sign that reads "terrorist suspect."

Uniformed police walk around and, every few minutes, beat somebody to death. Greasy preachers wave Bibles, give sermons, pass hats, and offer candy to children. Now and then, from some place on high, a little pink cherub wearing a "Yankee Doodle Dandy" top hat swoops low and dumps a bucket of monopoly money over the carnage. The flying cherubim trail fluttering banners that say "lottery" or "tax rebate" or "bequest." Everyone smokes pot and drinks beer.

Scuttling hither and yon like a rat amid the riot, we see Richard B. Cheney. A harness strapped on his back supports a light, 10-foot pole that sticks straight up. At the top of the pole is a sign that reads "Undisclosed Location." Centered directly beneath the words a large, black arrow points straight down at Cheney, who is dressed in a ghillie suit and armed with a shotgun. Hanging from his neck is another sign. It reads, "Vice President & Champion of Liberty."

At intervals throughout the production, figures from American history appear and walk through. Among many others, Thomas Jefferson strolls around reading "The Declaration of Independence." Lincoln shows up and delivers "The Gettysburg Address." Martin Luther King thunders "I Have a Dream" as he wanders about. Clarence Darrow declaims his "Address to the Prisoners in the Cook County Jail."  Cheney shoots them; every one. After each murder he stands over the body and snarls, "Fuck you!" Then he stomps the face of the corpse and stalks off seeking his next victim.

Stage left, rear, a platform 15 feet tall bears the sign "White House." Atop the platform is a lectern, behind which stands George W. Bush. He wears a sign: "The Decider Who Decides." Bush speechifies incessantly but the theater's sound system mutes his rant, confines it to the background, his voice just loud enough to understand. He is muzak, in front of and over which all other actors must speak.

In front of the lectern at either side, clusters of people wear Mickey Mouse ears and jostle each other as they operate cameras and microphones. At either side of the platform, stairs reach the top. Steps at the Right are marked with an arrow pointing up and the words "Going Down." Steps at the left are marked with an arrow pointing down and the words, "Going Up."

Every thirty minutes, one of a succession of characters mounts the stairs marked "Going Down" and climbs to the top. These are people such as Condi Rice, Alberto Gonzales, Dana Perino and Michael Brown, all of them dressed like characters from the troupe in Cabaret. As each person reaches the platform, he or she crawls over to George Bush and grovels on the stage at The Decider's feet. Then, without further ado, the groveler crawls inside the lectern and stays there out of sight for five full minutes.

Bush pays the grovelers no mind. He just keeps on talking of this or that except: If the last character inside the lectern was a man, Bush drones solemnly on about God and morality and the Bible, and spiritual growth. If the last character in the lectern was a woman, Bush raves emphatically of Iraq and patriotism and war and terror. Whenever a new character crawls into the lectern, Bush changes his topic — or does not change — accordingly.

Characters whose time under the lectern is over crawl away and descend the stairs marked "Going Up." They step down to the left until they are met at the bottom by a character dressed as a bellhop. The flunky hands each of them a sign that bears a title — something such as "Attorney General" or "Secretary of Defense." Each recipient is also awarded a gold medal the size of a gong, upon which the words "Heckuva Job" are embossed. A small crowd of Mickey Mouse cameras stands by to photograph the presentations.

At center stage, not quite in front, there is a hole in the floor. A small sign, almost illegible, designates that hole: "Iraq." From within the hole come gunshots, explosions and screams. Smoke rises steadily from there, accompanied by the occasional spurt of flame or gout of blood. Every few minutes a squad of soldiers marches in from the wings. As one man, each squad of soldiers leaps into the hole. Whenever we hear an explosion, arms and legs and heads fly out of the hole and land on the stage. Weeping, wailing citizens carry the parts away, back into the camps, where the parts are furtively cooked and eaten.

All of that and more goes on apace, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The stage is so vast, the happenings so varied, so insane, so constantly changing that nobody in the audience can take it all in. The one thing everyone in the audience can see plainly is a small space, stage center, front, about six feet square. That space is well lit, and a lot of Mickey Mouse cameras focus there. Every ten minutes or so, one of today's presidential contenders steps to the center of that space, picks up a cordless microphone and delivers a nonsensical soliloquy. Those "campaign speeches" vary with the state or region of the country in which the show currently plays. But the gross obscenities infront of which all presidential contenders do their shtick are everywhere the same.

In Iowa the pols spout gibberish about "agriculture," "family farms," "rural development," "renewable energy," "ethanol," and other such crap. What they will talk about when they come to your area I cannot say, though events of this past week convince me that they'll soon be talking "gun control" everywhere. One thing I can absolutely guarantee: None of them will say "Impeach George Bush." None will say "Stop the war now." Not one will promise to repeal the USA
Patriot Act, to stop tapping our phones, to clean up corruption, or to hold specific people accountable for the rape of our nation. None of today's Democratic presidential hopefuls ever say a word about the mess, the reeking ruin of our country in front of which they stand as they speak and in which their silence makes them complicit.

To simplify once again: In the light of known facts, Republicans' refusal to address wreckage wrought by the Bush crime syndicate is unconscionable but understandable. Democrats who do likewise are utterly outrageous. There can be no forgiveness for them. Those who keep membership in today's Democratic Party are not American patriots. They are shamelessly corrupt participants in a hopelessly corrupt criminal enterprise, or they are the stupidest people on the
face of the earth.

On the vast stage of American politics, no place to hide remains. It's curtain-time, folks. It is time to decide: Who and what and which are you? Why are you still a Democrat?
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