"We're Gonna Turn the U.S. of A. into a BIIIIIIG MUD PIT!!!!"

By Patrick Russell

Dirt… it's everywhere. In all its many forms and textures, dirt is what we is—dirt is US. You live in this world and you're gonna end up with muddy jeans and filth under your fingernails. Hell, look at the world's myths and/or religions: Most of them seem to involve a Supreme Being of some sort picking up a dirt clod off the ground, doing whatever voodoo it was that he did, and basically removing the "dirt" and leaving the "clod"—or, as we like to call it, "humankind." This story, by the way, has always proven to me that God was an only child. If he'd had a brother and picked up a dirt clod, y'all know as well as I do that he'd have just hucked it at him and not bothered to magic it into a little dude.

And boy, but isn't dirt just the most bizarre of precious commodities out there? We go through the most peculiar antics just to secure ourselves a small little plot of dirt on which to build our home. Nations have fought bloody wars over comparatively tiny stretches of dirt. For years, one of the greatest human goals was to scale Mount Everest, which as impressive and foreboding a mountain as it is, is still just a big pile of rocks and dirt. After Everest had been tackled enough times, we set our sights on yet another wad of dirt, and engaged the Russians in a race to be the first to land astronauts on it.

And yet, on a personal, social level, we have a very strained, paradoxical relationship with dirt. We want to wash it off of our bodies, pave it over with asphalt, purge it from our literature, cleanse our minds of it, and more or less hermetically seal our lives from it in order to keep it at bay. Dirt is to be conquered, my friends! However, we love to spot, point out, and squawk about other people's dirt, and to shoe them up the agates about it. I know I do! I mean, why else would one ever pick up the paper and read a single story about politics if not for a love of checking out other people's dirt? Am I wrong?

Oh sure, some folks satisfy that urge by reading tabloids or watching crap like "COPS" or "Survivor" or—perhaps the single most pathetic known display of crawling, mewling attention-hound-ism thus far in human history—"The Bachelor." I was forced to watch this show once, and like no other televisual event I've ever witnessed, this one left me with the pressing need to shower afterwards. It was that despicable a display. For those of you who were fortunate enough to miss this cornucopia of non-existent social skills and gutted self-image, here's the basic rap: An ambiguously gay gentleman is given a bevy of attractive, utterly neurotic women to mentally torture over the course of the series, gradually narrowing the pool down to one lucky young lass that he's allegedly chosen to marry, while the others take their free Turtle Wax and Lee Press-On Nails and what-have-you and run sobbing back to their psychiatrists for still more rounds of expensive therapy. That's it… that's the show. Yes, these women are desperate and/or mercenary enough to put themselves up as PRIZES ON A TV GAME SHOW. That the ambiguously gay "bachelor" clearly had his sights set on the show's ambiguously gay host didn't seem to enter the minds of a single member of the quivering crumpet buffet vying for the guy's "affections," at least not on the episode I saw. It was truly one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen on television, and that includes 9/11! But I got to see an ambulance come and take away one of the women as she writhed in the grip of a public nervous breakdown, so I can't say that the hour was a total loss.

But people love this shit! Their own dirt… gotta cover it up, wash it off, shove it under a rug, put a shade on it and call it a lamp, whatever it takes. Other people's dirt, on the other hand… BIG FUN!!! They want to see emotional quadriplegics on TV throwing themselves at a guy whose job it is to publicly humiliate them. They want to hear about which celebrity had fat vacuumed out of her ass and injected like Play-Doh into her lips. They want to slow down and crane their necks at a bloody tangle of metal and flesh on the side of the expressway. They'll deny it up and down, but it makes them feel better about their own lives.

This isn't news, of course. In fact, it may not even be the first time I've mentioned it in one of these rants of mine (which, to my surprise, apparently you're still reading… I reckon unending pomposity is its own train wreck, though, right? OK then, issue a "Gaper's Delay" warning and read on!). But since I'm trying to tie in my usual pile of random political kvetches with this issue's overall theme, and since I've got a deadline howling at the gates here, I figure I'll just repackage an old observation or two, point urgently at the sky, and say "WOW! Dig that incredibly interesting thing up THERE!" to distract y'all while I deftly rearrange a few words, add a few others, and abracadabra, Instant New Topic. WOO-HOOOO!!!

Seriously, though, we all love a good display of the disturbed, the ignorant, and the downright loony, don't we? A good look at the dirt and grime 'round the ears, hearts, and minds of others always seems to satisfy. If nothing else, it's good for a laugh or three. Y'know, message-board trolls can be a great source of yuks, chuckles, and/or snortles sometimes. You know the type I'm talking about—the ones who will write absolutely anything to get attention, and the more foul, combative, and insulting they can be, the more they seem to get off on it. Amazing sources of fun, these folks. For example, I was recently poking around the forums on Michael Moore's site under a discussion header entitled "Why Are We Fighting?", which is apparently for ruminations on the whys and wherefores of President Bush's war on terrorism (or, as I like to call it, "Operation: Mission Creep"), where I found the following thoughts posted by somebody under the handle "Horsemouth":

"i don't know. all i know is that the rain keeps coming down on my black head. damn the white man and his racist drea, to kiss sally field in the fart-box"

OK, now then… though there is much to be said for the whole e.e. cummings imbued piece, from the humble "i don't know" opener, to the poetic-yet-gritty, ever so slightly urban-sounding lament "all i know is that the rain keeps coming down on my black head," and on through the masterful, ever so slightly jazzy transition into the cartoonishly angst-ridden, fist-waving "damn the white man and his racist drea," which includes the added bonus of a completely made-up word (or at least, a word misspelled beyond recognition), it doesn't really seem to get around to actually addressing the big question "Why Are We Fighting?" until the big finale—"to kiss sally field in the fart-box."

"Why are we fighting?", you ask? Why, to kiss Sally Field in the fart-box, of course! Now, if you'll please take your racist drea and peddle it elsewhere, you miserable golf-addicted cracker…

This, to me, is sheer brilliance. It combines sharp, insightful political analysis with a level of social interaction that suggests something along the lines of an eight-year-old child running out into the living room and waving his pee-pee at the babysitter. You just don't get this shit on "Nightline"!

It also reminds me of the basic intelligence level of our fearless leader George W. Bush, whose latest act of international leadership is apparently, during a recent meeting, to have asked Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, "Do you have blacks, too?" I'm still waiting for snopes.com to debunk this one, but so far they haven't come up with anything other than "We're not sure." So it seems that there's a very good chance that the leader of the free world might actually have said something this fucking stupid. Again.

Yes Georgie, other nations DO have blacks. Your ancestors didn't just buy them all and plop them in the middle of the U.S. of A., y'know. Strangely enough, and maybe at some point one of your trainers will get you the memo on this, the rest of the world has its own history—in the cases of many countries, a longer one even than that of the United States. Hard for you to believe, I realize, but there it is.

One thing that Bush did say recently, in response to criticisms of his having received and ignored intelligence reports suggesting that al Qaeda operatives might be preparing to hijack airliners, is this: "Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people!" What strikes me about this is that in the context of the charges to which he was responding, the unspoken thing here seems to be that SHORT OF the enemy using airplanes to kill people, the White House wasn't overly concerned with conventional hijackings (which is, actually, all that the White House was apparently warned of in the first place). The translation I get here is, "If they'd just hijacked airplanes and left it at that like reasonable, responsible terrorists, it wouldn't have been a big deal. We coulda lived with that. But crashing those planes into buildings? FUCK NO, MAN!!! That is OVER THE LINE!!!"

And yet, did the alleged "opposition party" pick up on this? You'd figure that looking for any dirt they can get on the guy, the Democrats would have seen the red flags going up all around that statement, but NOOO!!! What did they settle for? "What did the President know, and when did he phonetically mangle it?" A perfectly good pile of dirt clods right there with a friggin' bow on top, and they're throwing goddamned dust bunnies! Talk about a bunch of airheads who don't understand the concept of dirt! The Democrats are like a bunch of ninnies who are out playing ball in their Sunday-Go-To-Church suits and are afraid to get mud on the cuffs! The Republicans may be a load of goose-stepping social-control freaks, but at least they don't mind getting a little dirty when they play the game. They just come up with tall-ass stories for Mom about packs of laser-toting alien wolverines or pretzels that can give the Vulcan nerve pinch, and weasel themselves out of trouble. The Democrats, though… OK folks, here's the thing. The Republicans will throw a sucker punch and then squeal, "Mom! Tommy Daschle is hitting me back!", and try to deflect blame onto the other guy. The Democrats will haul back to hit the Republicans, but they always seem to chicken out before they even let fly with the ol' fist, because they're afraid they WILL get hit back and Mom will yell at 'em for getting blood stains on their ties. It's just so sad

Have the Democrats come out slugging yet about John Ashcroft's completely insane solution to the recently revealed systematic incompetence displayed by the FBI in the weeks and months leading up to 9/11? I mean, we've got a respected, veteran FBI agent basically coming out and saying that FBI headquarters in D.C. stonewalled them on their investigation of a known al Qaeda member who was learning to fly airplanes, even AFTER the towers were hit by airplanes on 9/11! (The immediate FBI HQ response? It was just a coincidence.) There was a fundamental breakdown of investigative procedure here, and one for which heads should be rolling. What is the solution hit upon by our illustrious U.S. Attorney General to the uncovering of this particularly embarrassing patch of dirt? Hearings? Nope. Firings? Nope. Blindly granting the FBI expanded domestic spying powers? JAWOHL!!!

And is the expected Democratic outcry shaking the foundations of our very nation? Are they rubbing Ashcroft's nose in this pile of shit he's laid on the carpet? Nope. Aside from a few half-hearted protests by a few individual representatives, the Democrats aren't risking any stains or rips in the knees of their trousers. They Fear The Dirt!!!

Have the Democrats swatted the Bush Administration for issuing over-inflated, fundamentally meaningless terrorism warnings every time the administration loses a little face? Cheney goes over to the Middle East on his "May We Please Bomb The Shit Out Of Iraq?" tour and gets shot down in every country he visits (big surprise!). Then, right on the heels of that, as West Bank unravels into a shooting war, Colin Powell goes everywhere but West Bank on his "I'll Get There When I Fucking GET There!" tour, with stops in such diplomatically relevant nations as Morocco and Spain, where he's repeatedly greeted with the question "What the hell are you doing here? The war is over there!" before he finally gets around to actually going to West Bank. And the second anyone raises a question about the effectiveness of these trips, BOOM! Tommy Ridge has his Terrorism Color Wheel out again and we're told to be very afraid, only (as usual) he can't tell us exactly what to be afraid of. And then right after Bush catches shit about having ignored warnings of impending terrorist hijackings, we get shot with an entire clip of bogus terrorism warnings, at which point the White House even admits that the warnings are designed to deflect criticism on other matters.

And where, might I ask, is the Democratic counteroffensive here? The White House admits to what has been obvious for months, that they cry "Wolf!" every time they're criticized in the media, and do the Democrats give them hell about it? Nope! They're worried that their nice new campaign suits might get filthed-up before they can show them off this fall. They Fear The Dirt!!!

Have the Democrats made any significant attacks at all on the fact that the whole point of Bush's "war on terror" seems to be simply to have something to "be at war" with? Seems to me that for the past few decades, anytime the government "declares war on" something it ends up being a "war" on a nebulous problem which is not meant to be solved. "War on drugs"? Completely unworkable, basically unconstitutional, and designed to be little more than a handy hot-button issue for the politicians to use when they either need to avoid doing their jobs or have some shenanigan or another from which they want to deflect the public's attention. So when I hear Shrubbie and Ashcroft and that lot yammering on about their "war on terrorism." all I can think is, "Oh good, another endless rhetorical war. Just when the last one was running out of steam." But have the Democrats taken Bush to task even on something as basic as this? Not so's you'd notice. They Fear The Dirt!!!

I'm telling you though, despite the Democrats jumping at their own shadows, Bush is looking worse and worse to the rest of the world, and I think a lot of folks in this country are getting fed up with him too. All I can say is, it's about damned time!

And before anyone throws out the alleged "80% approval rating," let's look at it logically and in context, shall we? Even assuming that Shrubbie is actually somehow considered the Second Coming amongst 80% of the nation as the pollsters claim him to be, we're in the middle of a sorta-war. It may be largely a line of bullshit, but as far as Joe Sixpack in the street is concerned, we gots us a war. We don't know exactly who the enemy is, and we don't know who exactly we've gotta bomb to hurt that enemy, and we have no clue how we'll actually know when that enemy is beaten, but we're blowing up shit in other nations, we're issuing cut-and-paste "regrets for collateral damage," and our Attorney General is indicting American defense attorneys as Islamic terrorist conspirators, so I guess it counts as a war. And historically, Americans tend to freak out and revert back to their belief in President-as-Daddy when we're at war, and thus it's almost guaranteed that a president will get a good rating during a war. So Shrubbie's allegedly got 80% of the people in this nation behind him.

A shady, deal-cutting corn cousin like Bill Clinton had 70% while he was being impeached.

80% during a war doesn't impress me. That's like figuring on an 80% chance of getting laid when a chick takes off her blouse and puts her hand on your joint. Now, show me Shrubbie with that 80% while he's being impeached and run out on a rail, then I might be a little more impressed with his ability to bamboozle the American public. (Plus, I'll get to see the little pecker being impeached—more fun for me!)

But, see, this would require that the Democrats actually have the grapes to get down and dirty and let fly against Bush the way the Republicans will always let fly against a Democratic president. And so far, it's just not happening. There's some potentially great TV just rotting on the docks there, and things being as they are, and us being who WE are as a society, this is just a pathetic state of affairs!

Come on, Daschle! Get yer ass in gear, Gebhardt! Strap it on there, Hillary! We're sitting in the audience waiting for the fucking band to come onstage! Don't play all coy—you weren't elected to skulk around behind closed doors muttering about budgets and fundraisers, wringing your hands in fear that maybe somehow, somewhere, somebody was furrowing their brow at you for going over the line and getting your shoes dirty! You were elected to stand up and call bullshit on the Republicans when they start trying to pack up this country and take it home as if it were theirs! Now, let's just stop with all the we're-afraid-of-appearing-partisan-and-alienating-people blubbering, grow a nut, get in there, and kiss Sally Field in the goddamned fart-box already!!!

If you can't, then maybe it's time y'all were auctioned off on a TV game show! At least we'd get an hour or so of enjoyment outta you that way. Sheesh!!

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Copyright©2002 by Patrick Russell.

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