FEAR AND LOATHING IN THE NEW ROMAN EMPIRE

FEAR AND LOATHING IN THE NEW ROMAN EMPIRE
© 1998, Damon Scott Hynes

It was a slow week here in the Heartland, considering the County Fair was in town. A low-rent controversy erupted from the Tractor Pull, where some hard rockers from Louisville brought up a bastardized John Deere-International Harvester leviathan, rumored to have traction-control technology ‘borrowed’ from the Williams-Renault Formula One team. There was grumbling from the seed-hat crowd about ‘the Spirit of the Rules’, but they were soon savagely muzzled by a phalanx of lawyers that “Team Reaper Madness” had held in abeyance.

The drama, as it was, was over almost before it had begun as the green-and-red juggernaut took a hard right almost immediately after launching, and augured into what passed for the crowd in the west stands. No
injuries, except to a few sensibilities and egos.

The machine came to rest in the creek, where even now it emits a dry-ice fog that has laid waste to the box turtle population downstream. Channel 7 is rumored to be on the way down from Omaha for The Big Story, but we will deal with them later, as we see fit.

A pass through the stock barns brought a few surprises. That the swine were in repose was to be expected, but what was unfathomable to even the most seasoned 4-H entrants was the languid behavior of the sheep and goats. Unresponsive to even the noisiest child, these beasts could not be roused by any means, not even the brutal wrench of my 666-volt “Persuader” cattle prod.

“Jumping Jesus,” I snorted in derision. “It’s come to this. What we have here is the unholy spawn of the Clinton Generation. Layabouts, with not even the sense to get out of the heat, waiting for their next handout from the Great White Chief.”

My assessment was not a popular one, and grandmothers quickly ushered their charges away, perhaps to the Palm Reader, where fuzzy logic and platitudes are welcomed. No one expects to have balls-to-the-wall political discourse in the Barns, or anywhere else these days, it seems. More’s the pity.

But one superannuated gentleman heard my song: “Damn, boy, you’re right on the money!”, he began. “These liberal-arts majors and victims of Teachers’ Unions forgot all about the Roman Empire!”

Indeed. Earnest, concerned people at one time had cornered their friends outside the Coliseum, to warn about the oncoming Visigoths much like some of us alert our acquaintances to the threat the Chinese present today, but they were spat upon and hooted at by gangs of Senators and Mistresses, on their
way to the next orgy — and a security guard was on his way to see me out of the barn.

Inbreeding and hubris brought Rome low, much like elitism and the bromides the Harvard boys are trying to ram down our throats even now. The rent-a-cop was just a cog; hired by a Fair Board greased with tax dollars and a Metric Ton of regulations concerning The Time And The Place For Politics . . .and apparently the beasts in the barn weren’t on the guest list. My new-found confederate wasn’t so lucky, I caught a glimpse of him being led off into a makeshift horse-trailer/paddy wagon, screaming random Goldwater slogans as caring sheriff’s deputies guarded the back of his head.

No help for it. Some of us will be ram-fed Prozac in a dim, ill-lit mental ward while The Weather Channel drones in the background, while others will shake their head and try to get along, bemoaning the deaths of Morality and Liberty.

Problem is, the definitions of What’s Right and What Isn’t blur continuously. Not only may Today’s Pig be Tomorrow’s Bacon, but that selfsame swine may be revered as a martyred Godhead next week; whatever
seems right. Or profitable.

It’s happened before; history is a cold bitch of a teacher. If Joe Stalin walked the streets of Moscow today, he’d be pistol-whipped and relieved of his American Express Travelers’ Checques just the same as Rush Limbaugh or Michael Jordan, but he was hailed as a visionary, a New Soviet Man within the memories of half the old farmers and veterans here. Likewise, Ronald Reagan is a mere footnote among the teenagers milling around, nothing more than a senile old man who threw up on random Japanese. But we all reap the
wind and inherit the fruits of his vision, as it were.

Which leads us to the sad tale of Blythe-Boy Jefferson Klinton, an insult to all things right in America, and possibly even Arkansas. There is something Terribly Wrong with anything or anyone with a 69% approval rating, be it God, NASCAR or the President of the United States. So foul to our sensibilities is this concept, that some among us spend our free time looking between the lines of the Clinton News Network propaganda screeds to seek out the real truth, the straight skinny.

And it’s no wonder why some people are heading to the TSC store to stock up on foodstuffs, railroad flares, 30-odd-6 ammo and Brita water filters. While the jury is still out on the idea that we’ll all be speaking Mandarin within the next twenty years, it’s even money that the next generation will be unable to read, let alone speak English. More is at stake concerning the American Way of Life than receiving the correct change from a twenty-dollar bill at Wendy’s.

Meanwhile, our Commander-in-Chief struggles manfully with the high moral issues of the day, and whether fellatio is considered sex, or not. In our household, it’s a Holy Holiday, but we don’t have time for that here.
Statutory rape hasn’t been committed in the White House since Kennedy, maybe not even then; but Jack reduced our taxes and kept the Commies out of Key West. Bill, on the other hand, has given the Reds carte blanche to move into every level of society – and there is still the ugly specter of what was he doing with a girl to whom he wasn’t married.

“What goes on between consenting adults is private” won’t work in my house, and I’d wager the same in a majority of marriages of people I know. Caligula wasn’t on the ballot in either 1992 or ’96, to the best of my
knowledge, and he sure as hell didn’t win.

This wasn’t lost on my friend from Omaha, who remains vague, when pressed, as to what lever he pulled in ’96, and has threatened me with bodily harm if I tell his wife he voted for Perot in ’92. We were partaking in dinner at the Methodists’ Dining Hall; a sturdy meal of canned soda and bagged chips.

“You’ve got two daughters,” he began, absorbing the nutritional warnings on his Fritos. “Where is it safe? Reagan would never touch our wives and kids. Nor would Carter or Bush. Nixon? Forget it, he had something else on his mind.”

“You forget, the Democrats have made it not only easy to be lazy and perverted, but also financially and intellectually rewarding. Bill and his band of NEA toadies have admired Mapplethorpe’s art for years, why wouldn’t they make deviance mandatory?” I swatted a mosquito.

“He didn’t inhale, but Monica sure did.” My friend pulled down his baseball cap.

A brace of teenage girls walked by us, thirteen going on thirty-five. Belly shirts, tattoos and pierced navels. Two presidential terms ago, it was Monica Lewinsky walking aimlessly at events such as this, maybe the Rose
Bowl Parade in Pasadena or a Michael Bolton concert. For all this talk about the New Democrats empowering every real or imagined minority, their leader is involved in a relentless pursuit of anything that moves, as long as it ovulates and can vote. At least he kept his focus on the eighteen-to-thirty-four demographic, but maybe not – and the case can be made that Miss Lewinsky’s chronological age did not align closely with her
emotional one.

“Jesus, that’s Paul Begala!” My friend thrust his outstretched hand toward a display of DSS dishes, where a 70-inch projection TV showed us how clear and crisp Fox News could be. Sure enough, the latest in a string of Clinton brown-nosers was vehemently defending the President, blaming everything this side of the Lindbergh baby on “Right-Wing Extremists”.

“Ah, shut up, you Statist,” I screamed in the general direction of the screen, that raised no eyebrows at all. In a generation where Lenin and Marx are thought to be McCartney’s friend and Groucho’s brother, my rant
didn’t ring a bell.

“Look at him,” my friend snorted, accepting a fresh Diet Coke from me. “That greasy hair, those sideburns.take off that suit, he’d be in a Ron Jeremy movie.”

I nodded. Good old Ron – the Walrus. Countless among us had lived vicariously through his circumcised member. Ron did the Dirty Work, as it were, and earned every penny – or warm roll of quarters – that he made. “That’s what’s great about America. Jeremy can make an ass out of himself
and retire rich as a result. A true capitalist.”

“No way,” my partner shot back. “All that cocaine, fast cars and sex – he’s gotta be a liberal.”

“He just thinks he is.”

Back to the television. Begala, Rahm Emanuel, Mike McCurry, even Al Gore – all in lockstep, painting Bill as the best thing since sliced bread; or Nonoxinol-9, for that matter – while Ken Starr was just a moustache away from heading up the Fourth Reich.

“Gore,” my friend spat. “Any further up Clinton’s ass, their DNA would be recombining.”

It was either P. T. Barnum or Andy Warhol who said, “There’s a sucker born every fifteen minutes,” and he wasn’t far from right. Hum-Monica’s shame will not follow her long. There may be the same band of NOW screech owls fixing her with Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones, but she’ll swat them off
like so many chiggers.

I had her figured for an eight-page gatefold in Plumpers and Big Women, but I could understand the bedrock financial instincts involved when Vanity Fair leaned on her doorbell, though the irony of shooting the spread on Martha’s Vineyard was probably lost on her, and why not? Chappaquiddick was a long time ago. Bill wants to be like JFK, or even Ted, but he lacks the killer instinct. By the time the authorities fished Mary Jo out of the water, any testicular discharge had long since been a protein supplement for whatever octopus and lobsters that could survive in the DDT-infested waters of the Cape Mo ‘talking points’, no ‘suborning perjury’. Teddy was a player.

I looked out over the midway and sighed. Springfield, to quote Donny and Marie, is ‘a little bit country, and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll’. Just the prime breeding ground for the collective apathy that was rewarded by eight
years of the Clinton-Gore World Tour of Reduced Expectations.

This stopped being a proper County Fair about five years ago, when face-painting booths opened up, and posters of Tupac Shakur and Marilyn Manson could be had by pitching baseballs at Budweiser bottles. Likewise, Springfield is now enough of a bedroom community/suburb of Omaha that single-parent households aren’t that peculiar, teenage pregnancies ‘just happen’.

There are still enough trailer homes/Methamphetamine labs to keep things interesting, and provide a demographic for people such as me and my friend to look down upon.

But even a Mouth-Breather can fill out a ballot – and The Socialists got 25% of the vote here. Christ. If they can get a quarter in the Heartland, 50% in Omaha isn’t too far-fetched and strong men weep when the idea of a Democratic plurality in the big cities back east is considered.

Vote Democratic – we’ll do the thinking for you.

Roman Empire.

“Look under the hood, Larry,” my ass. What good will looking under the hood do you when your engine has been sold to the Chinese, replaced by Al Gore’s solar panels?

Ironically, a plague of locusts drove us from the Fair, and we made our way back home in a fog of nascent teenage estrogen. Ten years ago, these bimbos-in-training we were following had little to look forward to in middle age save for fodder for Battered Women TV movies; the lucky ones you’d see pulling trains in homemade videos available for $39.95 from P.O. Boxes in San Diego. None of these gutter-sluts have a future in Polite Society, and forget about becoming Soccer Moms. And to quote that noted political strategist Forrest Gump, “Stupid will do as Stupid’s parents did.”

But, thanks to Blythe-Boy, white-trash women have a new field of expression . . .they can become interns.

Yes, Miss — you can see how it’s done in Washington! From the ground up . . .

Elementally, the President’s spoo isn’t any different than Ron Jeremy’s; but you couldn’t in a million years mistake Bob Dole for Harry Reems, or even John Holmes. (Ironically, Hillary is a dead ringer for Seka.) You or I might like Ron, and not begrudge him his lifestyle or investment portfolio, but there’s a big stretch from that to countenancing the idea of him running the country.

There’s only one job in North America that Jeremy would make a difference at, and that happens to be the career he’s in already.
What would Slick Willie do for a living if not screwing the country — in every sense of the word? Plenty of opportunities await the Oxford grad.

Just don’t let him near my fries – or my daughter.

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Author: Damon Hynes

Used to chase tornadoes, until Ma Nature ran out of them...

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