The Journal


Serving the Metropolitan Area


Since 1872


July 5, 2020




By Jack Parnell - retired Congressman and Independent Presidential candidate


Syndicated by Acme Features


          Few years back I watched my successor in Congress, Hank Mayhew, sworn in... shook his hand, wished him luck and, being that Janine had already left and taken the kids, packed the dogs and a change of clothes into the truck and headed West. Rather as folks did during the Great Depression, I s'pose, or, more recently, as some try making it to Hollywood to land a spot on the "You Bet Your Car!"

          I took this little detour (large detour, truth be told) on my way back to Parnell County, Kentucky, and civilian life... I went to Branson. Always thought Yaakov Smirnov one hell of a funny Russian before, even, the civil war in Ukraine and trollixed American elections and, though I may draw heat on this, I'll also cop to a soft spot for the Platters, even if they haven't had a top-forty hit in forty-something years.

          In the fifties and early sixties between Elvis and the Beatles (the former back from Germany with his balls held in receivership like Britney Spears’ money, the latter in Hamburg, just growing theirs), the Platters were about the only pop vocal musicians to even hint at something in motion, something wrong, just under the surface... their songs roaming darker perceptions at the margins of those lazy, hazy, Eisenhower years. Homages to smoke and sunsets; shadows, fog and twilight. I believe Mr. Stephen King came to more or less the same conclusion... the harmonies are damn sweet but, if you listen to the words, you're likely to find something off, something just a little disturbing.

          To use the title of one of their best (after "Twilight Time", perhaps) something a little slanted.

          Still humming Platters' tunes, I stopped off a ways north in Springfield for a bite to eat; driving all the way into the downtown... mostly deserted, as so many downtowns are these days – less like a location for the Simpsons than for a minor Stephen King movie (or an original Rod Serling "Twilight Zone" from back in the fifties, in those dear, departed days of black and white).  This was, after all, Ground Zero for the mask and vaxx resistance armies as stood up on their hind legs to defend their freedom – then caught the plague and died.

          Springfield, you see, wasn’t always the place where junior MAGAboys (and girls) used to go to party hearty in the lake and pools and then catch the plague – it used to be where they made the Zenith televisions; black and whites at first, and then, until about the turn of the Millenium, the color. They were, in fact, the last TV company left in the United States after GE, Philco, Sylvania and all the others ran off to the South or West... finally Zenith shut its door, too, and turned out the light. They make Zenith TVs in Mexico now, I think, or maybe they've moved along to China.  And when China gets too expensive, they’ll be made in Taiwan… so they say… but they’ll really be made in Vietnam and just marketed through Taiwan like all their stuff is, since the both have reason to hate the Chinese.  

Won’t be the folks of “Outer Limits” taking control of your TV, like in the old show, it’ll be the Vietcong!  “Ho!  Ho!  Ho Chi Minh!  NCIS gonna win!”

          Take a slow drive through an American community... keeping your ID close at hand, as you'll likely be stopped by police searching for contraband heart medicine... and you will find prematurely retired steelworkers and electronics assemblers (now well up in their 70s, even 80s, some, since the pensions vanished with the companies) mowing lawns and delivering the sort of newspapers as still remain. Jobs kids used to do... kids who, by now, have copped to the fact that they're likely as not to still be flipping burgers or temping at QualMart when they reach the middle age, no matter how many debt-financed sheepskins they’ve tacked to the wall in their parents’ basements.  Might as well smoke crack.

          A smart fellow, Bill Wolman, wrote this book about "The Judas Economy", ending where the middle management replaces itself with cheap foreigners too. Now I'd be last to deny an Ethiopian statistician or Pakistani cardiologist (even an underappreciated Russian comedian or computer nuclear genius left over from Chernoble) gainful work. But... after the termites finish gnawing, you see, ain't enough left from those indentured workers' paychecks sent home to slap a coat of paint over their relatives' cinderblock shanties and, meanwhile, people over there have to do without doctors and videogame repairmen and such, and wind up blaming us for this exodus.

          As Mr. Wolman argues, it's become a waste of money for Americans get an MBA, engineering, medical or technical degree, and that is why, through the Coalition, I intend to keep alive the spirit of that legislation I introduced into Congress, only to see it tabled in Committee.

          I proposed, during my tenure in that august body (and still believe it necessary) that we slap on... not exactly a tax or tariff, but... let's call it a re-import surcharge on the difference between... say... two-buck-an-hour Tijuana wages (not to mention the twenty-cent Chinese) and those twenty dollars once paid that laid-off American citizen.  What differentiates this from Mister Trump’s moribund import tariffs and our sleepy President’s abject trade surrender is that one third the difference is returned straight to the foreign worker - half in the currency of his own country, the rest in scrip redeemable through the purchase of American exports so Juan, Apu or Yakov can afford a box of Queetos or a Florida orange now and again. So's all them little girls sewing shirts for Kardashians or shoes for Nike can get legal CDs by that American Idol whom little girls scream about, now that they've stopped screaming for last year's model. A second third goes into a fund to keep unemployed Americans putting in a fair day's work for their own communities (not sleepwalking through phony social service or retraining scams), keeping up the healthcare (as opposed to Obama’s late, unlamented health insurance scam), emergency rent and mortgage assistance so's to keep more neighborhoods from becoming vacant, bank-owned kathouses as happened in that last gumment shutdown.

          (This still leaves the runaways with a 33 1/3% rebate if they otherwise exhibit good citizenship but absolutely have to run away... which makes the difference between Catfish and all that high-Commonist bulldada elephant-men rail against, as if the measure of national greatness is its quantity of sick children, or unemployed people hanging out in burned-out cities or in jails.  And, of course, since there would still remain a pecuniary shortfall, and the deficit is high enough already, there would have to be further adjustments.  Good-bye to Trump’s tax cuts for the rich!)

          And then? Well, I'd have to admit final solutions to unemployableness will require a little of this and that... a whole lot of tinkering and experimentation and maybe, even (gasp!) science – stepped-on toes and the inevitable screwups. I might ought to have my head examined for wanting to step into a place so deviously slanted... better to hole up on Miller's Ridge with the dogs and boys, the shotgun, coupla bootleg George Jones and Roger Miller concert CDs and a case of Wild Turkey. But that would be, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, wrong!

          It would hurt, seeing some homegrown Yaakov Smirnov yukking it up onstage in Budapest or Buenos Aires, cracking red-to-redneck jokes about the mean, bumbling Americans like he used to be.

          So instead, I'll pack the dogs and head back to DeeCee if needs be, tho’, truth be told, I think I'd rather hang out in Branson.