Friday, May 20, 2005

Bang The Gongs Slowly

chuck barris
Unknown Comic: What do you call a Mexican with a vasectomy?
Chuck Barris: What?
Unknown Comic: A dry Martinez!
* cue audience laugh track *
Unknown Comic: Do you like sex?
Chuck Barris: Yes.
Unknown Comic: Do you like sports?
Chuck Barris: Yes.
Unknown Comic: Then take a fucking hike.
Chuck Barris: You can't say that on television.
* cue audience laugh track and hard cut to commerical break *

"My way of joking is to tell the truth. That's the funniest joke in the world."
- Muhammad Ali

Back in the 1970s, "The Gong Show" was one of those boffo TV extravaganzas that come once in a generation - the type of cranked up audience dedication that sparked as much entertainment as it did outrage, even if the latter represented that famous media truism which states, rather simply, "Bad Publicity is Better Than No Publicity." As was the case with "Reverend Gene Scott" or "Jerry Springer" or "The Morton Downey Jr. Show," either you loved "The Gong Show" or you hated it, but everybody tuned in to watch this stripped down version of "American Idol" and shuffled about like Gene Gene The Dancing Machine in the bank line.

Millions of Americans went out and bought gongs for their homes - so that they could gong their spouses or friends with Smiling Bob-ish glee - and there were gong shows in churches and temples and community centers to raise donations, then even cruise ship social directors and singles getaway destinations jumped into the act. "Gong" became the catch phrase of that decadent period between free sex and recreational drug use - before the Reaganites declared that AIDS came from monkeys and Ed Meese got a hard-on for the end of pornography and Nancy canvassed inner cities with the ultimate "Don't Worry, Be Happy" beat manifesto by proclaiming "Just Say No" to our country's brownish people ... but "gong" really meant "Make That Idiot Stop" or "Get That Crazy Bastard Off The Stage!" Singer Jaye P. Morgan, comedian Arte Johnson (of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In") and Jamie Farr (of "M*A*S*H*"), plus one or more guests, was each assigned the torture of enduring and judging the ameteur acts that performed on the show and could end the act by striking his/her mallet against an oversized gong, because that person or group was deemed as too hideous to continue.

And now, let us introduce, for your viewing pleasure:
  • A bearded, demented-looking dentist taunts his hapless patient as he drills her teeth, flipping the drill's switch to the tune of "Stars and Stripes Forever."
  • A petite homecoming queen, obviously nervous, is duped into singing the National Anthem after she and fellow members of the choir have been introduced as collectively performing "The Star Spangled Banner."
  • A grossly overweight man tap-dances to music from "Swan Lake"; later his equally obese wife squeezes into a tiny tutu and, after fitting her head in a teacup, spins around while playing "Old Folks at Home" on the mandolin.
  • An Elvis impersonator sings "Hound Dog," but his voice is a monotone.

Now, 20 years later, the journalistic establishment that speaks for Dubya's erstwhile 52% mandate takes to the airwaves and fishwrap with more lame whackjobs and bizarre yoyos than can be found in either the Halls of Congress or within the Peacetime Army or The Gong Show green room ... and we are left clutching our nuts beyond the mylar glow of a pop-culture effervescence and creeping paranoia not seen since the dog days of 1973, when guys like Sirica, Ruckelshaus, Woodward, Bernstein, Jaworski, Cox and Richardson were skulking around the hellish little byproducts of another debacle in hyperspeed which, of course, became "The Watergate Crisis."

This is a grim thing to draw comparisons to - or even put into words - given the current atmosphere of American Narcissism, Inc. and our renewed collective amnesia that regretfully pervades the press and our politics these days. Not just out there in Washington, but almost everywhere you find waves of average people who are so ass-deep in self-delusion about the balloon payment that is coming due in the form of far more serious and emerging threats aimed directly at our very resources and talents, our way of life and the ability to pay off our debts.

It's the Witching Hour, Sparky, and you better get a program because we're going to need a scorekeeper.

There are huge numbers of people in this country - with columnists and editors and congressmen and strategists at the tip of the opinion iceberg - who stay awake at night for the way they ducked and ran during the salad days of the "Post 9/11 World" and the disgusting blob of revolving horseshit leading to our pseudo-spiritual sojourn into the Iraqi desert, while there were others who turned-the-other-cheek and accepted the facts as they had been dictated to the media funnel ... not because they really believe everything that their Godfilled Government broadcasts, but because once they open their minds to the real and dangerous possibilities there is no turning back - which means that they, too, are going to be sucked right down by the same whirlpool of shame and regret, then will say to themselves along the back pews of their unstable congregation of ignis fatuus, "Well, it really seemed like attacking was the right thing to do, but if we gotta bury a few more heathens out in the sand dunes, so be it."

We are sliding into a very deep hole here, and if I'd written this sort of thing two years ago I would have almost expected to find my email account bombed and the comment mechanism filled with freakish posts on the coming armageddon, and then beaten down into a quivering bloody sushi by the next evening by some of Dick Cheney's hired thugs in a greasy alley behind the Los Angeles Times building - along with a tattered polaroid festival of dead hookers scattered around my feet and a length of rope still clutched tightly in my hand.

But like Bob Dylan once sang, "Then you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone for the times they are a-changing."

And, man, was he right, Sparky. There is little mystery left in that corpse. But after scanning talk TV news on all three of the main cable networks during the last two days and then watching Newsweek's Howard Fineman perform his best Marcus Welby on Hardball tonight, I have a deep and clear sense that - besides the idea of the stone sinking at last - the times aren't very different from the days of "Chuckie baby! Hey, Chuckie, Chuckie, Chuckie!"

From here on out it will be a nasty story to cover, especially with an electorate driven by insatiable inner rage and a low-rent fascination for high speed and ignorance and seem highly similar to the "good germans" from The Thousand Year Reich and have pledged allegiance to a recalcitrant Prometheus of the dysinformation age. Dubya is the guy who realized that politics and message discipline hadn't come anywhere near its lowest common denominator yet, and that the public's appetite for salaciousness and humiliation had remained relatively crimped.

But beneath all his crazed layers of tinpot ambition and childish bluster, Dubya will eventually become excoriated by the high culture as the ignoramus who destroyed politics and public policy as we once knew it ... and the televised mini-series will be worth watching, because whatever form of harsh judgement and fuzzy reality that finally reveals its ugly head will be another Rethug landmark calamity in the panorama of American History and will serve as a stern warning, for both sides of the aisle, and to all the generations who will inherit this once great nation - or whatever scraps we leave them - that just because the audience at home appears entertained and is buying the products that endorse its taped existence, game shows and politics require a combination of profound mental illness and powerfully tormented minds feeding on uncontrolled guilt and shame to push the envelope.

By the time Dubya gets his last joyride on Air Force One - assuming he can sustain his appetite for prolific humiliation which has never been fully appeased - the fate of his legacy will have retracted to the dimensions of a crushed oil barrel. The long running game show of a presidency will be sent to syndication in Jakarta, and the outcome of his challenge with intelligence and the facts will have a USA Today-like color coded chart in the history books, right alongside the books that stress daddy has a penis and mommy has a vagina, and that Uncle Bruce's "male friend" likes to decorate. Dubya will have his seat next to Nixon and Harding and will be regarded as nothing more than a corrupt and incompetent monkey who got all slap-happy in the Oval Office, and the only reason for mentioning him will be to understand how he ever rose to the office of preznut in the first place. And if the Democrats ever find some balls and start demanding a Special Prosecutor ... the real defendant at this juncture will be the American political system, because if we once came to the brink of impeaching a president elected by the largest margin of victory in the long history of national elections why has the political system become a retractable righteousness roof and used kid gloves on a buffoon?

Unknown Comic: Chuckie baby! Hey, Chuckie, Chuckie, Chuckie!
Chuck Barris: Yes? What do you want?
Unknown Comic: Is my fly open?
Chuck Barris: No, it isn't.
Unknown Comic: Well, it should be. I'm peein'.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Attention K-Mart Shoppers: Pick Up Your Collective Illusions At The Door


Inside the Rethug Funhouse all the Distortions look Normal ... Water Cooler Talk about Plato's Retreat and Dubya's UN Nominee ... The Bizarre Emergence of a Vague and Scaled Down version of Doom ... Not even Ehrlichman would have Stooped this Low ... The Sharks finally have turned on one other ... Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls

"Look, John Cornyn is a good friend, and we look forward to analyzing and working with legislation that will make -- it would hope -- put a free press's mind at ease that you're not being denied information you shouldn't see."
- Close enough for Dubya these days ... Washington, D.C., April 14, 2005

"A good conspiracy is unprovable. I mean, if you can prove it, it means they screwed up somewhere along the line."
- Jerry Fletcher, from Conspiracy Theory, 1997

It has been a fascinating tale, no doubt ... and perhaps the most significant thing about it is that it has made absolutely no sense at all, not even to a delusional person willing to make that giant leap of faith and accept it as God's Humble plan. But you were warned, Sparky, and so were many others. Way down here at the bottom of the neo-conservative barrel, swimming around in the dark and sticky goop like a pack of seagulls in the aftermath of an oil spill, an indifferent American electorate is beginning to sum up the very cost of all the poisonous rhetoric and political malfeasance conducted in the name of the "Old Fashioned American Way" ... but somehow, with Iraq spinning into a reality TV version of Assault on Precinct 13 and the military missing its recruitment targets at the range of 41%, at least a dozen or so right wing legislators (read GOP targeted seats in 2006 and presidential hopefuls for 2008) are stepping back from comment as the Pentagon is considering a new round of job cuts and closure of more than 150 military installations nationwide, for some reason, while talking points pinheads like Norm Coleman make a poorly timed appearance on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" to chatter about the "post 9/11 world" in virtual absentia, saying all the right words but doing nothing about it.

Incredible as it may seem, the dollar signs on the Pentagon's downsizing - or "right-sizing," depending on what version of the creative semantics cookbook you read from - are yet another codephrase like "the DEA in an early morning raid seized a huge shipment of cocaine with an estimated street value of 25 million" ... while the less impressed ask ourselves, "Get a load of that street and what are the property values?" Street Value has almost no bearing in the real world nor does the size of the Pentagon budget, of course, and while the head honchos in the basement actuarian cubbyholes say they are cutting $30b US from the military's budget over the next six years, the certainty of the matter is that many of these program cuts will be planted deeper into the bottom line once Congress steps to the plate and the usual bureaucratic meanderings take hold.

There is a critical notion beyond this points-on-a-curve diatribe, however, that even the rational mind could settle beyond any reasonable doubt. To paraphrase Jerry Fletcher one more time, "Love gives you wings and it can make you fly, but don't even call it love ... call it 'Geronimo' because, when you're in love, you'll jump from the top of the Empire State building screaming 'Geronimo' and you won't care." And neither does half of the American people, in fact; they are wrapped up in a version of love for an America subjugated to themselves, while stuck in the middle of a disturbing co-dependent relationship between who the country truthfully represents and what its creators clearly designed us to be. And we all tend to love for the very wrong reasons, from time to time, which explains the skyrocketing US divorce rate and the level of venom that has decended upon our politics and civil discourse. In the end, "We the people" and our perverse political world are about as misplaced as Jerry Fletcher at all corners of the plausability and righteousness spectra - from which we have become nothing more than a roving cabal of lunchbox blunders filled with lives of half-mad stupidity and malignant ineptitude on most every level of our intellectual and emotional well-being.

What the political wizards and barstool pundits will say about this dilemna is that we got what we rightly deserved - for many reasons, but mainly because we just so happened to surrender our way of life and our ideals to vicious pimps and thugs and thieves when we should have been more closely involved. The End of the American Century is unfortunate, but if the players in power had to do it all over again, they would have done it more quickly.

That is the key point of the matter. It's just a low-rent version of the old Nixon axiom: "When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow" - wafting through the rafters of corporations like WalMart shifting its responsibility of providing fundamental benefits to the local taxbase and romancing our organized media with absurd and distracting tales of humanity gone deranged while billions are skimmed off the top and out the backdoors of the US Treasury like the Mafia did with union pension funds and Las Vegas casino counting chambers in the 1970s.

And, Sparky, don't think for a second that this absolves you of responsibility. To a larger degree, we have all bought into the ornery and spiteful gameplan.

This is the essence of what some intelligent minds have called "The Absent Democracy" in practice: neither truly opting out of the political system entirely, nor working within it for real and demonstrative change ... and by always counting on the simple ideals that both the freaks in power are more greedy than smart and that their semi-entrenched constituencies are one step removed from your column if only your candidate could appeal to an otherwise barren world of demiurgic rapture. By the conclusion of the last campaign, I became convinced, despite my inner barometer clanging "the fix is already in and we better watch our flank in Ohio," that the people would rise up and declare enough nation building and let's now begin to define new priorities for a new and challenging time. Not the media, or the special interests or the politicians - but the people would define our shared possibilities, as a common entity who know what's best for themselves, as inscribed in the faded and fragile parchments honoring our establishment and which admonishes us to constantly observe their creation or risk losing it all.

But in November of 2004 we spent too little time for this kind of inspiring talk or priority building. We took the easy way out of the barfight and let someone else throw the punches and take a few lumps along the way. The main punching bag soon became John Kerry - and to a lesser degree, Tom Daschle - but the real loser was the American people who couldn't get past the pseudo-psychic maze of denial and sodomy and religious outrage and drummed up color charts at every juncture which, when looking back at it, seemed more in line with vengeance than politics. Needless to say, the average voter was dragged into the abusive exercise and discovered that the media was there to flail them constantly with gibberish and a steady dose of cruel and convulsive assaults on everything but the direction into which the country was headed. Which is not to say that the strategy wasn't effective, but as a long term mandate to control the national agenda history tells us that it has delivered some truly disastrous results like the "House Un-American Activities Committee" and "The Contract With America," just to name two.

Anyone who thinks that Dubya, now apparently retired in place at The Big House, is telling the truth probably has a very good working relationship with the Tooth Fairy and believes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. As for the current list of party pimps and spinmeisters, they have cleverly parlayed his quaint little persona into a fascinating and frequently hilarious tale of self-delusion and arrogance and infomercial-style salesmanship. And through the snickers and open-jawed stares from the rest of us, they clearly have executed an ingenious burlesque on lowbrow media distortion in the New Century, of which Karl Rove was clearly the ring leader and Donald Segretti of his time.

The bad movie will eventually end in two short years, right about that time when the clock strikes 2007 and a New Congress begins, and no one will barely notice Dubya looking as polluted and batshit as Howard Hughes at the end. Many of us will assume that this appearance has something to do with liquor or garden variety uppers and downers, but as Karl Rove types out the last of his speeches, which jump around like a starving flea in a dog kennel, the true believers among the preznut's unhinged flock will finally realize that Dubya has been on a destination much crazier than anyone ever imagined. Not only was he the catalyst for "No Child Left Behind," which did exactly that in reverse, he cut the wealthiest people a check several times because he could, beat the drums on a notion of "activist judges" when any good constitutional lawyer will tell you that's exactly what their role is on the country's federal bench, and then spread "democracy" at the barrel of a gun once his people realized that there were no weapons of mass destruction to be found, stored and recycled for the next Dictator du-jour. Too bad Dubya wasn't as entranced with "Catcher in The Rye" as Jerry Fletcher - because then we would have understood why he was so conflicted, and why he has lowered his nation into paranoid episodes so freakish that it makes Richard Lewis seem as calm as Bing Crosby. And who can blame Dubya for thinking that the world is out to get him at last? When not busy with his work killing foreigners for no other reason than their being foreign - while coincidentally sitting on a pile of petroleum - he is destroying the rest of us along with them.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

And Texas Toast Is Another Name For Garlic Bread

The Gravity Geek Boots Land in Crawford ... Andy Card Delivers the Post Mortem to Fat Timmy ... Tommy Franks and the Sack of Shit ... An Opulent Former Nazi is Crowned Panzer Kardinal ... More Discussion of Pressing the "Freak Button"

"If you're a two-working family like a lotta families are here in America, and, uhh -- two people working in your family, and the, the spouse dies early -- before 62, for example -- all of the money that the spouse has put into the system, uhh, is gum -- held there, and then when the other spouse retires, he or she gets to choose the benefits from his or her own work, or the other spouse's benefits, which is ever higher but not both."
- Dubya discusses "two-working families", Prime Time Press Conference interrupted by Paris Hilton, White House, April 28, 2005

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
- George Orwell

What will Dubya do now? That seems to be the question that has every strategic thinker and corporate pimp in Washington up late at night - from the dark alleys and recesses of the Beltway to the corner chairs of the National Press Club to the dried up cocktail parties in locales such as Arlington and Georgetown. You can only imagine what the discussion is like in the tense and comfortless bunkers of the organized spin operation known as the American Enterprise Institute, where bought-and-paid-for shills like Bill Schneider and Frank Luntz are burning a great deal of midnight oil wondering if the second-teamers amongst the Rovian Fiasco Court have indeed shot their load entirely or whether Dubya should go back for sloppy seconds on his personal e-ticket ride to pinheaded rapture and messianic nationalism.

In the murky world of Rethug politics these days, the idea of a "vision thing" is like rubbing salt into a gaping wound that is now festering beneath the surface of an impatient electorate. Not even Dubya's daddy liked the "vision thing," a codeword from the 1992 campaign that became the dunce cap for a candidate lacking a true political agenda and a clear understanding of what needed to be done after the election. There was so much public discussion of vision with respect to Bush 41 that Clinton did an end-around and beat him with the Herbert Hoover dope stick until he became marked with the Scarlet "L" for Loser - and Dubya apparently never forgave him for it. But our wonderful Child Preznut learned something important from this political lesson too. In his mind, and in the collective estimation of his loyal minions and big contributors, all you have to do is step to the microphone, order up a crisis of the day, and appear somewhat convincing and devoted to Jesus for about 45% of the voting public: The rest of the petty hassle - the liquid six to seven percent of the registered voters who could shift a poll from "go" to "no go" - is left to the talking heads filters and dissection machines on Cable TV and Talk Radio; the very air of American politics is so electrified with manufactured outrage that forty doses of Oprah and Klonopin couldn't tame the shrew.

Millions of dollars and thousands of high-cash jobs depend on what Dubya does next; then what the Democratic and Rethug leadership brings to the knife fight; on how the media machine parses the fallout from the Social Security flamethrower battle and whether the margins are so close for the 2006 midterms that calculating Senators such as Frist, McCain and Lott start scurrying for the escape hatch and make a few proposals of their own, all of which will never reach the floor.

The wiseguy money is moving heavy on the Democrats right now because the momentum has swung - not all the way to the left, but a lot closer to the center. Not just because Dubya can be seen retreating from the pressure of public opinion in the very manner that outraged the Rethugs when Clinton did it - by reading polls and shaping the public policy debate in light of them - but because every elected politician in Washington has been reading the tea leaves from back home and the approval numbers on Congress are shrinking twice as fast as they are on Dubya, neither of which is a positive turn for the majority in power, and why the Rethugs in private are lobbying the preznut to stay clear of the political third rail - not for him but for them and their long term survival.

There's no reason to mention names at this point, but it's probably a good time to point out how things are shaping up under the big circus tent. For the party loyalists and chief policy wonks who have to deal with legislators who threaten to cut and run on paid for votes and hang out the their associates because they want new appropriations and federal funding for their constituencies, here's something else important to consider: For the first time in 56 years neither an incumbent president or vice president will be on the ticket in 2008 and the Rethug field seems wide open, unless Dubya's Number Two holds another of his appointment committees and selects himself as the most qualified crony in the pack.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me show you another poll.  That was Quinnipiac.  This is Marist College, the Democratic field for 2008.  Hillary Clinton's at 40 percent; John Kerry, 18 percent; John Edwards, 16 percent; Joe Biden at 7 percent; General Wesley Clark, 4 percent; Russ Feingold from Wisconsin, 2 percent; the governor of Mexico, Bill Richardson, 1 percent; Virginia Governor Warner, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Tom Vilsack of Iowa all asterisks.

Republican side, Mary Matalin, Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York at 27 percent; John McCain at 20 percent; Jeb Bush, the president's brother, governor of Florida, 10 percent; former Speaker Gingrich at 8 percent; Senator Santorum of Pennsylvania at 3 percent; Bill Frist of Tennessee at 3 percent; New York Governor Pataki at 2 percent; Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, 1 percent; Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, 1 percent; Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, 1 percent; Governor Owens of Colorado, Senator George Allen of Virginia and Sam Brownback of Kansas all asterisks.

Happy Mother of God, Sparky! The fat is indeed being hung above the fire already - touching the flames ever so gently for the moment, and without any one major candidate in mind, just yet, but there is no underestimating the harsh taste of blood in politics. Sometime between now and the end of 2005, Dubya will have to bite the hand that's been feeding him since the day he took a meat cleaver to John McCain's shins in South Carolina - essentially calling the Arizona Senator a crackpot with a Negro child and his wife a dope fiend. Even the most sadistic operatives in Washington know that the moment of truth has to happen before the 2006 elections - if not for the selfish reason of setting the stage for 2008, then because of Dubya's real inability to sell the rest of the conservatives and moderates within his own party that the lunatic fringe of the religious right is not scaring the shit out of the country, or why our "Freedom Is On The March in Iraq" soiree is breeding more terrorists now that their elections have been settled and a governing council is in place.

Another great piece of action to take if you like long odds at the betting window, a great purchase at 20-1, is that Dubya will finally crack both mentally and spiritually under all the theocratic posturing and outrage incitement, and he will develop a serious case of Munchausen Syndrome: A psychological disorder characterized by the repeated fabrication or causation of disease symptoms or trauma for the purpose of gaining medical attention or treatment.

This is not as crazy an idea as it may seem at first glance - not even in the framework of my own cruel and punishing opinion of the state of national politics these days. The Chimperor, a semi-professional archetype of Forrest Gump as leader of the quasi-free world on Xanax, has never felt the sense of pressure that is about to be deposited at the White House back door. His whole existence is turning to hell and his wife suddenly gets all the best one-liners from Karen Hughes' twisted imagination, now that Dubya is reduced to a broken and battered shell ... like the abusive husband who violated the terms of a restraining order one too many times and becomes the prison house pleasure unit for a gang of serial rapists.

Domestic abusers don't do very well in the can. To land in general population with the tag of "wife beater" is to violate some kind of savagery litmus test to the career criminal who specializes in armed robbery or assault or even murder. Not even the unlucky stiff who got five to ten on grand theft larceny will sit next to the wife beater during morning chow time, unless he wants a second helping of scrambled eggs by beating his mark with a metal feeding tray.

Now and then you get this same sense about Dubya - that he is not more than just big talk and strength in numbers tough status quo until the hungry sharks arrive for the real bloodletting, the type of people and special interests who can smell weakness beneath his twelve layers of juvenile hubris and know exactly how to push his "wow, a new skateboard!" button. It happened with Iraq, and then again with ANWAR and the Bankruptcy Bill. And for this same reason, my position is and always will be that I highly distrust power and supreme authority, whether those in charge of the Skinner Box keys have earned them by conventional or religious means - or whether it came by distortions, lies, armed conflict or bribes to the shadowy players behind the scenes. Today there are three main evils in the world as far as I can tell: the first is religion, the second is politics and the third is ignorance. And frankly - in America these days - there is no hope of abolishing any one of them. So we're going to have to chip away at these evils slowly, and that's where the battle must be drawn. On one side are those with enough discipline and conviction to see it through, and then those who believe that the freaks at the gates are just playing along the margins with no impact on the forest without the trees - which happens to be the current administration's environmental policy. But it's really either camp now, with no middle ground. All of what I used to know about America, plus all of my experience in Europe and plus all of what I have read or studied about the Third World and global history have convinced me that the "civilized" nations of Planet Earth are about to get their "once-over" from the "under developed" world who are all waiting in line to pounce because of centuries of collective hatred and ignorance about anything that does not look like our Giant System of bullshit, suppression, puppet governments and social order.

In the end it may not even be a real threat - certainly not like what a fundamentalist thinks about an activist judge. But the parallels are disturbing. Because in the last half century, this precious little experiment known as the American Way of Life has been dimmed by reactionaries with a hard on for disturbing progress on the small planet we share. And it should worry you - greatly - and this reality should scare you about what is being left behind to a generation of young people bloated on pails of soda and WalMart-sized buckets of Cheetos, and their brains made more vacant than a dozen Terri Schiavos by the relentless pounding of videogames and cellphone ringtones on the cerebral cortex. Which means by the age of forty most of these children will grow up to be the best addiction society of sociopaths ever created, their medication cabinets glistening with bottles of narcoleptic wonder and their TV sets blaring "product placement" twenty-four-seven. Our eroding democratic experiment may have worked out well for you and me, but they will not be so fortuntate or even lucky.

Then again, the preznut has not yet called your children a crisis.