The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, September 10, 2007

The Spam Age

I like it when a neologism just suggests itself to me out of nowhere. And in trying to describe the Bizarroworld political reality of the United States, the Spam Age seems to fit. (Although I feel sorry for the ground pork shoulder and nitrate blend for the unfair association with Republicans.)

Spam fed a lot of American troops in WWII. Its ubiquity, perseverance, and perceived lack of quality among returning GIs probably set it on its way to becoming (as lowercase-s 'spam') synonymous with tenacious and unwelcome e-mail notable for its incredible stupidity and blatantly fraudulent claims.

But there's another similarity. When the war ended, Spam was still a success. The e-mail variant is even more of a hit. Some returning troops found that-- in spite of Spam already being a punchline and object of scorn-- they had developed a taste for the ground & compressed pork scraps (and it still has headcheese beat by a damn sight). And although most of us are cagey enough to know that there are better options out there, small-s spam is even cheaper to produce. You only need a feel people to swallow it to stay in business.

Which brings me to today's Republican party. It isn't made from prime cuts, and its biggest consumers are the ones most likely to suffer from heart disease and hypertension (Spam), or bank accounts emptied out by Nigerian conmen (spam). But there are enough people who will either swallow anything, or-- like returning GIs and their gastronomic Stockholm Syndrome-- are unable to resist in spite of knowing better, that it continues to thrive.

And just as spam artists are insanely profitable crooks who manage to trick others into doing their dirty work for them (through zombie computers), the Republican party focuses solely on self-perpetuation. Just keep dishing out lies and scams by the ton, and some of it has to stick.

If it hadn't been for a cute analogy, I could've just said this:

At General Petraeus' Iraq hearings, Dems say "This is all a lie." GOP says "Flag, 9/11, patriot, freedom, victory."

Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the Armed Services Committee: "The surge is intended to provide breathing space ... But while our troops are holding back the opposing team to let them make a touchdown, the Iraqis haven't even picked up the ball ... What's the likelihood that things will change dramatically? Will there be political progress in the near term? Or are we merely beating a dead horse?"

Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee: "Our witnesses have been sent here this morning to restore credibility to a discredited policy. This is not a knock on you, Gen. Petraeus, or on you, ambassador Crocker. But the fact remains that the administration has sent you here today to convince the members of these two committees of the Congress that victory is at hand. With all due respect to you, I must say: I don't buy it."

Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee: "Gen. Petraues is coming back not just as a guy who's going to give us his take on the Iraq situation, but as the leader of more than 160,000 American personnel in uniform in Iraq. They're not only watching his testimony, they're watching our testimony . ... Let's lead off this hearing with this stipulation -- that the gentlemen who are appearing before us, especially Gen. Petraeus, whose credibility has been attacked all week long, especially by the left in this country, represents the very best of the military tradition."

Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee: Between invoking the memories of 9/11, equating Iraqi war opponents with Neville Chamberlain and accusing Democrats of working with MoveOn in a full-page New York Times ad that called Petraeus "Betray Us," Ros-Lethinen said: "It is significant that, on the eve of this grim anniversary [of 9/11], we would be holding a hearing highlighting the contrast between those who are inspired by this latest greatest generation ... and those of us who believe we should simply retreat."

They're counting on us to say "I think I'll have the spam, spam, propaganda, and spam. That hasn't got much spam in it." But it's way past time to say "I don't want any spam at all! I DON'T LIKE SPAM!!!"