New York Times: What is the biggest secret you were told and asked not to repeat?
Woody Allen: That it's not a surreal practical joke: Those Republican presidential candidates you see lined up for their debates are actually the best minds the G.O.P. has to offer.
A census form has arrived. OFFICIAL DOCUMENT, everybody! Wait a second, it feels like I just filled out one of these. Time's flying by, what with the stream of Pottery Barn brochures and Verizon offerings filling my mailbox. This one, THE 2011 CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CENSUS, was a bit different. In a tiny non-bold font underneath, which I missed in my initial perusal of the pages, hoping like hell it had nothing to do with jury duty, were the words Commissioned by the Republican Party.
Now, a census means one thing to me. Land of doublespeak, abandon all hope ye who enter here.
"Your answers will guide us as we fight to win the White House." Oh yes, tooth and nail. That's the spirit.
It was time to figure out what these census takers, I mean Republicans, "need to know." A need, like water and air, or real peace. Approve of the Star Wars missile shield? They're still after that one. Fool that I am, believing that went out around the time of parachute pants and Duran Duran. Should we take military action against Iran and North Korea? Guess we've only budgets for more lost wars. We could hand the whole country over to the Pentagon Corporation and be done with it. Besides, it is less than comforting to know that you're asking strangers if we should aggress. Yes, go ahead. Bomb both nations like there's no tomorrow, for them.
Make sure they don't lay their dirty hands on us, because I answer yes to the next question about how America (their word, not mine) ought to wipe out terrorism worldwide. Nifty idea. It'd be even sweeter if you added eliminating all violence to the equation, but there's no space for that. It isn't in your agenda, surprisingly, given the Christian (only by name) underpinnings of your ambitions.
Will things improve, they want to know. Well, now with this letter, and the mood it has put me in, are you out of your mind? You're making the future look bleaker than Philip K. Dick's predictions and the Kim Kardashian zeitgeist combined. Next question: What's my opinion about their social agenda, including school prayer (didn't you pray enough for it?), burning the flag (another rerun episode of a dead issue), faith-based initiatives (clever misnomer), abortion bans and outlawing same sex marriage. No mention of the secular underpinnings of our Constitution. No talk of all the moral dilemmas a reasonable society could possibly face.
The legality of such documents is under question in the Congress, as their party's lawyers exploit the finer points of how any old shyster is allowed to use the word census. Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz condemned his party for this deception, demanding legislation.
Reince Priebus' laser printer signed the letter. With that name I assumed the whole letter was a fake, some elaborate joke on me, the prankster himself. But no, Reince is the Chairman of the R.N.C., and the proud owner of five guns; he received a thunder of applause for saying so at one of the G.O.P. debates. Had he said eight, picture for a moment the Bacchanalia that could have erupted.
This was the first census (cough) I'd seen with a place to fill in one's credit card information. Check off the box for $1000. A few months ago the maximum they'd asked for was $500. Either they're greedy, desperate or not admitting that some of their brethren are profiting in this economy.
On the chance that one can't contribute, they suggest paying $15 for the Republicans to process their form.
It seems like a great business plan: Send something to someone who definitely never wanted it, tell the person it is something it isn't (yes, lie), demand they return it by an impending deadline (full of all kinds of personal information), and bill them for it too.
Well, anyhow, enlist me in your con game, I'll skim a percentage off the gross revenue. Together let's take away all that is meaningful in life. While we're at it, shall I offer you one of my kidneys?
Follow Bernard Radfar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@BernardRadfar