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Mitt Romney is a Cylon

Go ahead. Mock me. It seems impossible, doesn’t it? Cylons aren’t real. They’re the cybernetic super race of Battlestar Galactica. A science fiction reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Humanity’s mistake come back to destroy us. Terrifying? Yes. But not real. A futuristic nightmare neatly segregated into the comfortable otherworld of fiction.

But the truth just isn’t that simple, now, is it? Mitt Romney is a Cylon. You want proof? Screw you, I don’t need any frackin’ proof. Not for today’s world, and certainly not for Americans, 46% of whom believe the Bible’s Genesis creation story is factually accurate in its account of our world’s beginnings. And even though a majority of people living in this country never believed that Barack Obama was a Muslim, our national media managed to interview just about every one of those suckers and treat the issue as fair game.

So you’ll just have to forgive me if I don’t cite any “facts” or “evidence” to “prove” my “case.” “Sorry,” America. I am a man of conviction. I know in my gut that the Republican candidate for President of the United States is a Cylon. You want facts? Go whining to your blue state, Ivy league, God hating fact checkers and cry about it on Rachel Maddow. You can take your frackin’ facts and stick ‘em where Carprica’s sun don’t shine.

But for those of you comfortable with the cable news standard of what makes a legitimate news story, I have plenty of circumstantial evidence “proving” beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mitt Romney is a cybernetic monstrosity bent on destroying humanity. True: Cylons are not real. But neither is Mitt Romney. Here, then, are five warning signs, red state flags if you will, that Mitt Romney is a Cylon.

The Gaffes

Much has been made of recent verbal “slips” made by Mitt Romney on the campaign trail. But to call these embarrassments “gaffes” is to miss the point entirely. They are not mistakes, but signs pointing to an artificial intelligence, and a process of reasoning that is anything but human.

Those of you familiar with Ronald D. Moore’s and David Eick’s reimagining of the 1978 series Battlestar Galactica   know that Cylons appear to be human, but in fact are not. They are a race of machines created by mankind to serve us. But Cylons turn against their creators, war with us, and eventually evolve into their current humanesque forms. Some even successfully infiltrate the human population, and secretly work to bring about our annihilation.

But Cylons are almost always discovered. Why? Because they are almost human. Almost. But not quite.

So it is with Mitt Romney. Let’s look at his most famous gaffe: “Corporations are people, my friend.” Now, it is certainly true that corporations receive legal recognition for rights of “personhood” through a skewed interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s wording. But nobody actually believes that huge, profit making companies are human beings. Right? I mean, to believe that, and then say it out loud in front of rolling cameras would be weird, and positively self destructive. Wouldn’t it?

So why did Mitt Romeny that corporations are people? The answer is simple: he believes it. Like virtually all Cylons, Mitt Romney is hostile at worst, and indifferent at best to the plight of ordinary humans. Only someone who isn’t a person could truly believe that a corporation is.

Romney dug himself even deeper when pandering to Israel’s current right wing government during his trip abroad this summer. “Culture makes all the difference,” he said, and cited this…fact(?) as the cause of the vast discrepancy between Israeli and Palestinian wealth and GDP. It was straight from the playbook of Josef Goebbels (although Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda would have certainly substituted the ethnicities – or perhaps simply reversed them). That sort of cultural elitism is fine when it comes from a second rate windbag like Newt Gingrich, but Romney, as the GOP nominee, is playing with the big boys, and really ought to know better.

But the poor Cylon just can’t help himself.

These cybernetic monstrosities   believe that Cylon culture is superior to that of humanity’s. They seek to either annihilate our species, or subjugate us to their cruel and special purposes. Anyone familiar with the history of colonization knows that these exercises in domination must always wear the fig leaf of cultural superiority.

This is not to suggest that Romney actually believes that Jews are better than Arabs. As I shall presently demonstrate, he would argue the opposite if it suited his political ambitions. There were two motives behind this particular so-called “gaffe.” The first is Romney’s barely hidden desire to subjugate the entire human race. But the second is no less pernicious…

The Flip-Flops

A Cylon will do anything to survive. Anything. This is the key to understanding Romney’s behavior. So before we examine his flip-flops, let’s stay for a moment with the Israeli/Palestinian culture “gaffe.” As a short term strategic move, it was disastrous. It alienated Palestinians, and drew heated criticism from at home and abroad, tarnishing the candidate’s foreign policy reputation during a trip designed to enhance it.

But in the long term, it was brilliant. As Ben Adler noted in The Nation, pandering shamelessly to Israel’s right wing might move a few hundred votes in Florida, which could clinch the election for Romney in November. Remember, the winner of this contest need not receive a majority of votes to occupy the Oval Office for the next four years. It is an electoral victory that counts, and the Cylon who would be president isn’t about to forget that inconvenient truth.

So it is through this prism of self-interest and political survival that we view Mitt Romney’s abrupt and bizarre flip-flops. Abortion. Gay marriage. Health care. To a Cylon, these are mere abstractions, pawns on the chessboard to be sacrificed, or exchanged for bishops and queens. Romney doesn’t like evangelical Protestants or Tea Partiers any more than he cares for President Obama, or that dog that the former governor once strapped to the roof of his car. To him, they are also mere abstractions, to be regarded either as help or hindrance to the ultimate goal of Cylon planetary victory.  Yeah, Mitt Romney opposes a healthcare plan that he helped create. So what? Only a human being would find that embarrassing, or even problematic. All Mitt needs to do is get enough right wing malcontents to vote for him in November, and come January, we’ll all be hamburger meat in the hands of centurion toasters.

The Secrecy

Here again, the Cylons are in it for the duration. A mere human running for president would, when asked to release more than two years of tax returns, eventually crumble and relent. But not a Cylon. What offshore accounts or plans for interplanetary domination Romney’s tax returns might reveal are anyone’s guess. But you can bet that the truth will not be pretty. No, sir. Cylons posing as humans are documented only up to a certain point. Prior to that, their dark, true, and murky past must be protected at all costs.

And remember, even though Cylons are machines, they do have emotions. Notice that Romney appears to have no backbone when it comes to things most of us care about passionately such as healthcare, or human and reproductive rights. Nor does he possess one shred of empathy for those with less wealth than himself. But start asking for his tax returns, and his passion ignites like a battlestar blazing under a pre-meditated Cylon attack.

The Youthful Appearance

 Mitt Romney is 65 years old, but he sure doesn’t look it. That’s because Cylons don’t age.  And as long as there’s a resurrection ship anywhere near Mitt Romey, he won’t either. Oh, sure, he’s been doctored with a few wrinkles, and a little bit of grey to make him appear more human. But aside from that, Mitt Romney is a Republican version of Dick Clark (who was a Cylon if there ever was one). I would venture to guess that the Romney model was designed for the very purpose of becoming president. This means that he looks and seems presidential, which – as every television news reporter knows – is more than half the battle. Just remember, America: beauty is only skinjob deep.

The Hair

Enough said.

Are you convinced? Or is it possible that you still doubt the truth? That you do not see the writing on the wall? Christ, people, Mitt Romney is a Cylon, and he could easily be our president! Look, I respect humanity’s deathwish as much as the next guy. But aren’t we better than this? Don’t we have a few good years left? Look at what we’ve worked for. Must we throw it all away to a machine with quaffed hair and a Swiss bank account? That is the question that each of us must ask when stepping into the voting booth next November.

But hope is not lost. By all rights, the Republican nominee should be creaming Barack Obama in the polls right now. With a virtually jobless recovery that features an unemployment rate of 8.3%, it is clear that our current president’s stewardship of the economy has been neither exceptional nor disastrous. His cautious, balanced approach might have worked in a mid or late 20th century recession. But today’s crisis represents a fundamental shift in our economy better suited to the skills of a visionary like an FDR or a Reagan, not a Carter or an Eisenhower.

But that’s no reason to vote this president out of office. Barack Obama is a thoughtful, competent public servant. He seeks compromise, even at the expense of his own political fortunes. His appointments to the Supreme Court have not been horrifying. His accomplishments on healthcare and consumer protection are, while far from perfect, historic. He is a mosaic of flaw and attribute, failure and accomplishment, foolishness and wisdom, bad and good. In short, Barak Obama is a human being.

Can you honestly say the same of Mitt Romney? Go ahead. Try it. Listen to the man speak, watch him, look into his eyes, and then try to say the words you that know are wrong.

Do it! Say the words! Say them, god damn you!

Mitt Romney is a human being.

That just didn’t feel right, now, did it? It made you feel all icky and gross inside. You recoiled at the insidiousness of the lie, and its corrupt, pernicious betrayal. Accept the fact that Mitt Romney as a Cylon, and everything falls into place. That’s why he’s still polling at a dead heat with Obama: Americans may not be satisfied with our current leader, but we’re far from trusting the man who wants his job.

So? Where’s the media outcry? The investigation? My fifteen minutes on Fox? A recent poll asked which candidate was better equipped to fend off an alien invasion.  (Obama won hands down! Yes!) Several major media outlets reported this “story”. Unmasking Mitt Romney as a Cylon is the next logical step. Journalists who ignore this will expose themselves as Cylon collaborators, Baltaresque betrayers of humanity in our darkest, most vulnerable hour. We can wish for a hero such as Admiral Adama or President Obama to fly in from nowhere to save us. But finally, ultimately, the power to save ourselves rests in our very own hands.

So say we all.

David Berkson

August 5, 2012


 Post Script

When first writing this piece, I believed in all earnest that I was the first to have made this monumental discovery of Romney’s true identity. God Gods! I was so naïve. A Google search quickly and brutally disabused me of my hubristic delusions. While I claim no bragging rights as the first discoverer, I am pleased to lend my voice to the growing chorus of Cassandras. For further information, feel free to click the links below. And whatever you do, remember to vote for a human being this November!

David Berkson

August 6, 2012

Freud, Marx, And The Awful Truth About Rudolph’s Red Nose

 Rankin/Bass’s 1964 TV holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has stood the test of time. Indeed, you’ve probably seen it more than once. Perhaps you approach it with joy, and even deep nostalgia as your number of viewings rise into the double digits. Maybe you’ve shared it with your children, and made it an annual holiday family night. And you might even watch it ironically, chortling over its cheesy songs, primitive production values, and ridiculously dated kitsch.

 But after you’ve turned the television off, finished up the eggnog, and hopped into bed, no visions of sugarplums dance in your head. No, something is wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. Like its protagonist, something marks this holiday special as different, aberrant, and even terrifying. So it’s time to stop pretending and face the brutal facts. Some boils disappear of their own accord; Rudolph is one that must be lanced with a sharp and pointy needle. Get ready, America. And let the puss run where it may.

Even from a very early age, I found this show profoundly unsettling. It is only in hindsight (and after several more viewings) that I have been able to ask the question that should be asked by every American humanities, economic, and psychology undergraduate today: what would Freud and Marx have said about Rankin/Bass’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? The question is impossible to answer with any degree of certainty.  But we owe it to ourselves to try.

Perhaps we are on safer ground if we wonder which of the narrative’s details might have captured the interests of these two giants of critical thought. It is with that in mind that I record, and reflect upon, the following facts:

1. Let’s start with a few Freudian observations. The plot of Rankin/Bass’ Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer revolves around one society’s cruel, obsessive insistence upon a rigid code of physical normality. Indeed, abnormality is the cardinal sin of the reindeer boysNorth Pole’s Christmastown. While the 1949 song (by Johnny Marks and Robert L. May) only has the other reindeer “laugh and call him names,” the 1964 script by Marks and Romeo Muller has Rudolph spending his childhood closeting his deformity. Upon reaching puberty, his shameful secret is discovered, and the young reindeer is effectively driven out of society.

2. The fixation on abnormality appears to be exclusively male. Indeed, Rudolph’s love interest (and presumably future mate) Clarice finds him more attractive when discovering the truth about his red nose. And bizarrely, it is the father figures in Rudolph’s life such as Donner, Santa, and the reindeer coach who beat the drum of shame, and in the latter’s case, encourage Rudolph’s peers to humiliate and ostracize him.

3. Perhaps the most curious figure in Rankin/Bass’s North Pole is Santa Claus himself.  He is remarkably unremarkable, ornery, and ordinary. This Santa is not the “jolly old elf” of Clement Clarke Moore’s ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. Nor is he the terrifying, Orwellian figure of awe and omniscience in the Coots/Gillespie hit Santa Claus is Coming to Town (who “sees you when you’re sleeping/[and] knows when you’re awake.”) No, the Santa of your favorite holiday special is a harried and frustrated 1960s businessman. Bereft of magic, or even kindness, he is motivated by one thing, and one thing only: the bottom line. Boys and girls, Santa Claus works hard to bring you all of those toys. Very hard. He has lots of responsibilities, and that’s why he’s so cranky all the time. I’m sorry, but is it really so miserable making children happy? What, are we supposed to feel guilty? It’s as if Santa Claus is merely a role that this unhappy man is annually forced to play. (While others call him “Santa”, he prefers the quainter moniker of “Kris Kringle”). This misery is further (and strangely) dramatized through a bizarre eating disorder that leaves St. Nick emaciated 364 days out of the year, only to be fattened in up in the nick of time by a wife whose life mission is encouraging her husband’s eating binges.

Santa & WifeThe relationship between the Clauses demands further scrutiny. Conventional on the surface, it is not particularly happy.  The preoccupation with food and weight is unusual; I’ve never seen it dramatized in any other program for very young children. The fact that it is the male figure whose body image is so central to the success of the holiday (and marriage) makes the relationship even more odd and disquieting.

But the weirdest part of this marriage lies in the apparently affectionate nicknames that the Clauses bestow upon one another: “Mama” and “Papa”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I mean…I guess that’s ok. But doesn’t it strike you as odd that this is a family without any offspring? Sure, you could argue that the elves are like their children, or that the whole set up makes the Clauses figurative parents of the entire world. Still, the issue is unresolved, and before you can say, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” you might begin to wonder: “What’s the real need that all of this food is replacing?”

4. The conformity and fear of abnormality themes are echoed in a subplot, which has no antecedent in the song. The curiously Hermeynamed elf “Hermey” (yes, that’s his real name) is at odds with his overbearing, Strindbergian father figure, ominously credited only as “Head Elf”.  Head Elf serves as Santa’s enormously powerful minister of production and culture, working as both shop foreman and elf choir conductor. Muller and May have him endlessly chastising his younger charge for his failure to keep up with toy production. Hermey appears to be cursed with an oral fixation, which apparently can only be satisfied through a career in dentistry, a profession off limits for elves, who must only make toys. While the obsession with production and usefulness would appear to fall under Marx’s bailiwick, the rigid obsession with normality takes us right back to Freud, and it forms a parallel narrative that eventually unites Rudolph and Hermey as outcasts of society. Forced into a literal and metaphoric wilderness with only each other for support, the two sever their ties to Christmastown, and like Lear and his Fool, throw themselves upon the mercy of Nature.

5. Rudolph and Hermey’s decision to go into the wilderness is a clear turning point. But here is where the show’s creators stumble.  If society is rejected, what is embraced in its place? Rankin/Bass and co. couldn’t make up their minds, so they had it both ways. In the original 1964 airing, Rudolph and Hermey sing a reprise of the Misfit song, effectively owning their outcast status, and wholeheartedly rejecting any need to conform to any normative paradigm.

Rudolph and HermeyThis evidently was too radical a choice for the program’s creators, and the after the first broadcast, the song Fame and Fortune replaced the reprise. The shift is extremely telling. Rudolph and Hermey are no longer rejecting society. Now they are actively seeking its approval in their quest to become rich celebrities, as they imagine being embraced by the world that once rejected them. Fame and Fortune was played on network broadcasts for the next 32 years.

6. The shift towards capitalism as a redeeming force is emphasized by the pair’s discovery of (and metaphorical adoption by) Yukon Cornelius. Much more a stereotypical Santa figure than the story’s real one, Yukon accepts Rudolph and Hermey with no apparent conditions. But as his name suggests, he is an obsessive prospector, driven by greed for silver and gold. The wilderness that Rudolph and Hermey run toward, therefore, is not bereft of capitalism. Rather, it represents return to the mythical frontier of America’s 19th century, unlimited in its entrepreneurial potential.

7. Like almost every hero’s journey, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer involves a confrontation with a terrifying monster. But it is not the Abominable Snowman who fills the Humbaba/Caliban role. “Bumble”, as he is affectionately called later, proves to be a red herring, a convenient device for the cliffhanger before a commercial break. No, Rudolph and Hermey confront not one, but an entire community of terrifying monsters when they land upon The Island of Misfit Toys.

Those searching for a stroke of genius in this holiday classic need look no further. Haunting, dark, and strangely moving, the misfit toys represent Rudolph and Hermey’s deepest fears. The metaphor of the island could not be clearer. The inhabitants’ separation seems permanent, and this may be no accident. Apparently, Santa and Rudolph’s last minute rescue was another ’65 afterthought; the show’s 1964 original airing sparked a letter writing campaign that asked for the redemption of the island’s toys to be more clearly dramatized.

But the tacked on resolution lacks the impact of the heroes’ first arrival on the moribund island. The sequence begins just beforeIsland of Misfit Toys sunset, and has horrific resonance for anyone who has been ostracized or abandoned as a child. It is one thing to be humiliated on a playground, or rejected by your parents. It is something quite different to feel that this aloneness will last forever and ever. Even king of the island, the toys’ host and benefactor, appears to be living isolated in an enormous, empty palace.

How telling is it that our heroes ask to stay on the island, and even more telling that their request is denied? However bizarre and freakish Rudolph and Hermey may be, they are deeply invested in the society that has rejected them. More importantly, they have assimilated its values of material and production based worth. Again, don’t be fooled by Rudolph’s fear of being discovered by the Abominable Snowman. The hero’s decision to return to Christmastown is clearly precipitated by his gaze into the abyss of The Island of Misfit Toys, and the need to resist the temptation to become one of them.

8. Once Rudolph returns to Christmastown, the remaining pieces of the puzzle fall quickly into place. Regretful, but not entirely repentant, society seems willing to tolerate his abnormality. It is only (and here, the story follows the song) when this abnormality becomes useful to the capitalist model that it is wholly embraced. Rudolph’s nose guides Santa’s sleigh, Hermey’s oral fixation finds an appropriate outlet in dentistry, and “Bumble” is cheered only after performing the critical task of placing the star on top of a very large Christmas tree. Not even the misfit inhabitants of the island can be redeemed until children are found to consume them.

LinusProduction and consumption, then, are the foundations upon which Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer rests. To be sure, its aggressively pro-capitalistic message is offered openly and without any intentional irony. If no toys are delivered, then “Christmas is cancelled.” This stands in stark opposition to the other major holiday specials of the period. Dr. Seuss’s Whos in How The Grinch Stole Christmas joyfully celebrate the holiday after all of their gifts are stolen. Charles M. Schulz has Charlie Brown rail openly against the commercialization of yuletide, with Linus reciting Luke’s gospel verbatim near the climax of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

None of this sentimental nonsense pervades Rudolph. Christmas is nothing more than children getting toys, and lots and lots of them. Society errs in rejecting Rudolph, not because the rejection is morally wrong, but because his abnormality is a technological innovation, much like the products manufactured and sold by the show’s original sponsor, General Electric. Seuss and Schulz were both intentional ironists with deep moral (and in the latter’s case, religious) agendas. They were also producers of important and enduring children’s literature, sharing a profound sense of responsibility to ethically engage their readers and viewers.

But it was a different story for the Rankin/Bass creative team. Indeed, Rudolph’s tale comes from a bestseller that May created
during the Great Depression for Montgomery Ward. To paraphrase Herbert Hoover: the business of Christmas is business, and those who ignore it do so at their peril. While Seuss and Schulz tell us how we should celebrate Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer tells us how we do celebrate it. The program’s charms are cynical, kitschy, and speak to us with a terrible and familiar clarity. And as American consumers, who are we to argue? Just remember, boys and girls, it’s essential to be useful, or at the very least desirable. After all: everyone wants a Jack in the Box. Nobody wants a Charlie in the Box.

David Berkson

December 21, 2011

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