Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Democracy Dies in America, But Few Seem to Really Care


"We want this city to re-emerge. As I said, I can't imagine America without a vibrant New Orleans. It's just a matter of timing. We're cautious about encouraging people to return at this moment of history."
- Has Dick Cheney already landed there and declared New Orleans a parking lot for Halliburton? Washington, D.C., September 19, 2005

"Listen, I, I, I wanna to thank, uhh, leaders of the -- in the faith, and uhh -- faith-based and community-based community for being here, we've got people who represent thousands of volunteers who are in the midst of helping save lives.
- Not sure if we really need a definition for "community-based community", White House, September 6, 2005

"Here's what I believe. I believe that the great city of New Orleans will rise again and be a greater city of New Orleans. I believe the town where I used to come -- from Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself, occasionally too much -- will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to."
- Dubya pledges to make New Orleans a frat boy party town once again, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 2, 2005

"Well, I could be wrong, but I believe - uh - diversity is an old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era."
- Ron Burgundy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Hector Straussman, my Paraguayan press agent, called me collect from Washington last night and told me that I was seriously wrong and mistaken about Our Child Preznut. "I know you won't believe this shit," he said, "but Dubya is a very different person than the way they make him out to be on television - and everything you've been saying about him is all wrong. I just figured that you oughta know ... "

I reminded Hector that his grandparents were escaped Nazi's and told him I would call back after the Cowboys-Redskins tilt, which was suddenly getting interesting. I was getting three points, and Dallas had just missed a field goal ... Dubya could have been Jimmy the Greek at that moment: He was dead to me. The whole fallout from the FEMA chinese fire drill was like the sound of a dripping faucet in the darkness, even though ESPN was getting all Jerry Lewis-like with its telethon.

But Hector ignored me, persistent with his line of thought ... He sounded very creepy and eerily drained, like he had spent the entire weekend hardwired with little electrodes attached to his brain beaming only FOX News. He babbled something about Dubya not being what anyone thought he was - that deep within him, beyond the cameras, lurked the shadow of genuine poet-warrior and part-time philosopher laureate.

"He is more intelligent than Ben Franklin," Hector said. "When it's all said and done, he will be bigger than FDR and will stand in history larger than Abraham Lincoln on his best day."

I almost choked on my tongue. "You lying bastard," I shot back. "I knew that your Nazi genes would infect you someday. Are you on the payroll now? Christ, you sound like Armstrong Williams."

"You, of all people, need to know the truth," he said. "I'm just trying to clue you in before the march of history spells doom on your work. And it's really good work ... by the way." ... His cellphone started ringing and I could hear passing cars in the distance, then Hector returned back to the payphone receiver speaking all kinds of twisted mumbo jumbo.

"Buddy, the president - Dubya - has read your work," he was stammering, almost incoherently. "They had me up at the Big House last night, all alone with the man. We drank Wild Turkey in front of the fireplace and ate some of the tastiest chicken fingers I ever had and listened to the his Coldplay collection and Dubya got a little emotional about things in New Orleans, then he went on and told me he was the last great social engineer left in the American political landscape, in the time honored tradition of B.F. Skinner and LBJ's Great Society."

"Never!" I shouted. "And don't ever try drinking with me again. The concept of drinking with somebody who once drank with Dubya is too much to handle. Don't you know it's the two minute warning?"

I sighed heavily. He finally lost his way, just like Christopher Hitchens did after 9/11. But here was Hector Straussman - one of the meanest and deadliest sharks in the publicist game - telling me how he had spent an entire night debating with Dubya about the relationship between the Greek and Roman cultures and how they influenced Alighieri's concept of Hell in Dante's Inferno and how the Romans stole almost their entire civilization from the Greeks except the notion of sin ... smoking Gauloises Blondes cigarettes and shedding tears at times while the preznut kept playing and replaying All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix on his 60GB iPod, belting out the familiar guitar riffs which felt more like a wall of feedback and distortion careening out of control by way of an alabaster-colored Bose SoundDock.

"Awesome rig," Hector said, "he must have 5,000 illegally downloaded songs on that thing, but Dubya swears it's his personal stash and he never makes CD copies ... The man really appreciates music, especially classic rock-and-roll and heavy metal. He even has Metallica and U2 bootlegs on his backup harddrive, which he got from the bands themselves."

Better get my phone lines swept for bugs, I thought. They finally flipped someone close to me, just like John Gotti felt when he learned that Sammy the Bull reached out for the Federal Witness Protection program; Hector jumped ship and he's landed in their camp.

"You treacherous freak! Don't ever call this number anymore!" I shouted at him. "I'm leaving for Mazatlan tomorrow, uh, for an extended vacation. I don't know where you got my number, but lose it! For the hundredth time, stay away from me!"

"Moron!" he shouted. "You know with these connections I could get you on Air Force One for the next trip to New Orleans? It would be me, you, Dubya and the Neville Brothers. We could survey the damage and discuss the events of the day with the president, eat some gumbo, get a leg up with the locals. We would be on the A-list, partner." ... and then he stated telling me how the preznut - half-crazed on absinthe and curious intentions, with yet another powerful hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast - would be arriving in the Crescent City this weekend with no Secret Service protection and a red Lamborghini Diablo Roadster Momo with a 10-pack CD changer and its original Italian license plates.

It was a difficult thing to swallow. Hector was a true professional, at one time - and Dubya's daddy was a former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. This was a curious and uncanny coincidence; and especially unusual, given Hector's strange fixation on Dubya, which made me uncomfortable and extremely suspicious.

"You know why he likes you?" Hector said. "He likes you because you butcher Scripture just like he does. Dubya loves a little Scripture. He can recite The Book of Revelations from top to bottom with no breaks." Right about there, Hector's voice became shallow and seemed more distant than before:

"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen ... " Hector paused for a long moment, then he continued with a solitary yet ceremonial tone, which disturbed me even further. "And has become the haunt of devils and a lodging for every foul spirit and dirty loathsome fowl. Now heaven, celebrate her downfall, and all you saints, apostles and prophets: God has given judgement for you against her - "

The September 11 allegory, right out of the wingnut playbook. I laughed, more like a discordant caterwaul, but Hector failed to notice it.

"Behind him, dressed in linen of dazzling white", he rambled on, "rode the armies of heaven on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike the pagans with; He is the one who will rule them with an iron sceptre and tread out the wine of Almighty God's fierce anger."

"Okay, stop right there," I said. "The idea of Dubya cruising around in a federal disaster zone in the perfect Italian sportscar and paraphrasing the Book of Revelations is too bizarre - even for me."

I was getting sick, and said nothing more. Hector babbled on, drifting from one unhinged story to another, like he was the Dennis Hopper character in Apocalyse Now and Dubya was his personal Colonel Kurtz or a spiritual svengali or America's Dalai Lama of the damned. It defied logic and it made no sense.

None of his ramblings did, for that matter. Dubya was a pansexual Pandora's Box of treachery and freakishness, born deep in the bowels of Nowhereville, Texas. Nobody really liked him and very few people in Washington wanted to be seen in the same picture frame unless it was tossed into a lit fireplace or raging bonfire. There was something disturbing about him, the quiet voices said - a sense of a deadly organic being that was morphing upon itself, like a corpse bloating in the New Orleans sun. It was inconceivable that a petty thief and unhinged frat boy could be leader of the free world and speeding around the bayou at night, squealing like a demented pig about alternative rock and the kings of the East joining the forces of the North and turning against world civilization, burning it to the ground.

Welcome to the Garden of Agony, Sparky, and watch yourself. We may be a smart, free-thinking kind of nation and the boys packing it tight in the White House Press Room are getting antsy ... the New World Order that Dubya's pappy talked about is now ruled by crooked evangelists and tinpot theologians that seem more Trojan Horse than divine inspiration. Did the real Jesus freaks put one of their own in the Big House - twice - only to have God's secret agenda run a naked reverse on the Truth as defined in the eyes of Crazy Pat Robertson and Radical Racist Cleric Jerry Fallwell - King Mullah and Grand Ayatollah to the panoramic and pervasive view of American Taliban, also known as "the red states" on pundit TV, the same region for whom God can't quite seem to cut some slack in this apocalyptic hurricane season of the witch.

There was something very wrong about Hector, deeply deeply wrong, even strange ... Yet Hector appeared to believe in these things about Dubya, just as American Taliban wants us to believe in them.

It was like hearing the $250.00 Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe and the Great Kidney Harvest Caper urban myths, but this time with religious props and bad haircuts and rapturous exaltations.

I slammed down the phone and felt betrayed for a while, watching the Redskins make the spread. Then, I made the journey back to pagan-like bliss - the kind of rational peace that requires neither a preacher nor a shrink - with five hundred more in my pocket and minus one Paraguayan press agent gone batshit and insane.

Stay classy, San Diego.


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