Monday, November 27, 2006

Peter Kurth's Crank Call: Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, and Big Pricks

So here it is, the week after Thanksgiving, way up in the hills of Vermont (well, Charlotte). We’ve “seen some sunshine” recently, as the meteorologists say, but it’s been the kind of fleeting, “almost” sunshine you can easily miss if you’re doing something else. In Vermont, at the end of November, you often have to rush outside to see the sun, which, as far as I’m concerned, exceeds the limits of sun-worship.

So, we’d better face the facts: Winter’s on the way. The light is getting dimmer. There’s an indescribable feeling in the air – a combination of huge relief that Thanksgiving is over and utter dread that Christmas is coming. Once again, Americans are marching to the tune of “Ready, Set, Shop!” According to Monday’s Los Angeles Times, “Holiday shoppers came out early and spent big across the nation this weekend,” shelling out “an average of $360.15” per person, “18.9% more than last year,” while mere hundreds died in Iraq. Or, as blogger Jason Miller put it on Thomas Paine’s Corner, commenting on Thanksgiving week’s notorious “Black Friday,” “The unwavering disciples [of American capitalism] charged into the fray to avoid the unthinkably tragic fate of dying without having the most toys.”

Amen. And “Black Friday” isn’t even “Cyber Monday,” when American workers, loosening the goose fat from their middles, were projected to spend something like $32 billion on the Web in a single day, once they got back to the office and saw what a huge waste of time it was for them to be there when there’s so much shopping to be done. The Times reports that, as of Monday, “shoppers were encouraged by deals on big-ticket electronics, including DVD players, high-definition televisions and new video game consoles.”

All these “consoles,” I’m afraid, are why the Islamo-fascists hate us so much. Consoles and cars and cell phones and diamonds -- lots of diamonds. I’ve seen more ads for diamonds on TV lately than I have in the last twenty years. They seem to pop up automatically between commercials for Wendy's and all those soothing cartoon butterflies telling you what a wonderful night’s sleep you’re going to have if you only “ask your doctor” and don’t mind the nausea, headache, dizziness, grogginess, indigestion, diarrhea and “certain rare but fatal side-effects” that go along with it. But the truth can no longer be doubted by any reasonable mind: Ours is an “ideology of freedom” and theirs is an “ideology of hate” -- even though everyone the LAT managed to interview at the malls on Saturday wished to hell “the holidays” were over already. “I just can’t take another minute of this!” was the general refrain.

Well, as my mother used to say when I was growing up, “Oh, Christmas!” -- it was one of her more frequent and reliable outbursts of frustration. She’s developed a few stronger ones since, “but that’s because of George W. Bush,” as she’s prepared to swear on oath. My mother is the kind of person who actually calls the White House and tells the operators what she thinks. Frequently, they hang up on her, being underpaid customer-service representatives with a lot of shopping to do, but when that happens she just calls them back and gets another one. Once she called the White House to say that the president’s penis was “big enough already” and that he didn’t need to bomb Iraq to make it any bigger. She even offered to “change his diaper” if they’d only send him back to Crawford. Now, she thinks that the best way for the U.S. to get out of Iraq is to withdraw our troops immediately and make amends to the Iraqi people by sending them “the most expensive Christmas gift we have to offer -- the whole Bush dynasty."

“What could possibly go wrong?” my mother asks. “Why, it’d be a cakewalk!” Certainly, if the media promoted the Bushes as heavily as they promote Christmas – well, come to think of it, they do. Since the recent elections, a pure disaster for the clan, we’ve had more Bush-family news than you can shake a stick at. First, the Iraq Study Group, under the leadership of James A. Baker, the Bushes’ famous “consigliere,” is stepping in on 41’s behalf to rescue 43’s presidency. Next, 41 himself was in the Middle East, whining and pleading and practically bursting into tears because a lot of people in Abu Dhabi think his son’s a liar and a creep.

"My son is an honest man!” 41 exclaimed. "He is working hard for peace! This son is not going to back away!” And then, irrelevantly, “How come everybody wants to come to the United States if the United States is so bad?”

Meantime, little Barbara – or was it Jenna? – had her purse snatched in Argentina, right under the noses of her security detail. She lost her driver’s license (not a bad thing, from what I hear) and all her credit cards, but I’m sure there are plenty more where those came from. Finally, sister Doro, “the best-kept secret in America,” as her mother says, has “burst out of the shadows” with a book, My Father, My President, which chronicles in weepy and revoltingly sentimental tones “the life and times” of 41, but seems reluctant to name or even mention 43, whom the Washington Post reports is currently sulking in his tent, “fuming,” “venting” and “in a funk” over his dwindling power.

By the sound of her interviews, the “twice-married” Doro – and there I was thinking it had to be “one man, one woman!” – couldn’t write a grocery list by herself, but if we’re publishing phony, fraudulent memoirs, we might as well publish them all. I’m sure there are lots of people who’d rather pay $8000 on Ebay for a copy of O. J. Simpson’s If I Did It than find Doro’s little tome under their tree this year. Well, that’s the price of monarchy, I guess, and the Iraqis are welcome to it. But at least we haven’t had to watch a Republican campaign commercial for – what is it now? – nearly four weeks.