The Warning of the Plague Monkeys:
Well, of course the bubonic plague is killing monkeys in Denver. Why the fuck not, huh? The Black Death took out Spanky, a cute capuchin, and that little bastard got it because it ate an infected squirrel. Now, you may ask, and well you should, which part of this story is more disquieting. Is it the monkey dying? The fact that adorable urban park squirrels are plague-ridden? The image of a monkey eating a squirrel? No matter how you cut it, the story weighs a great deal more on the disturbing side of the scale than on the funny (although, c'mon, look at that fuckin' monkey - just filled with poo-flinging preciousness - now think of it ripping the head off an equally sweet and fuzzy creature and sucking out its juicy squirrel goodness, like a twitching, fur-covered longneck Budweiser).

The point here is not that the plague is "back" or any such shit. We know that it never goes away in America, especially out on the flea-ridden varmints of the West. But there's a reason that Spanky's story is getting more play than the fact that New Mexico had its first plague case this year, a man who got it from, of course, a flea bite. It's because as long as the plague stays rural, it's distant, it's not a cause of concern to the majority of us who stay esconced in our cities. But if Denver's puss-squirting squirrels are dropping like flies and killing the zoo monkeys, well, shit, all of a sudden the plague is very fuckin' real. And Colorado's gotta do something about it before some white child gets it.

The point here is not that urban sprawl, for instance, has more than likely invited plague fleas to join in the gentrification and overbuilding, although that could very well be it. It ain't even that population growth, climate change, and greed are combining to bring forth coming plagues. The point is that the bubonic plague is always here. It was never cured, it never went away. And, unlike the various flus, swine, bird, or, you know, porcupine or something, it ain't the effects of recent globalization (since it was explorers back in the day that brought plague to North America). No, the plague exists in the deserts of the American Southwest, and, since there's so few human cases each year, about 10, that it doesn't appear on the American radar. But a cute monkey dies in a city? That's CNN-worthy.

There's all these kinds of things, plagues and problems, that are festering, waiting to be addressed before they begin to creep into the larger population of America, to the places where the middle-classes live, where people take their children to see the primates. The right-wing of this country has based almost its entire being on phantom problems - or phantom aspects of real issues. Whether it's terrorism or immigration, there's no effort to confront the actual shit that needs to be addressed. It's easier to hype drunk driving illegals or false WMDs and go after solutions to mock issues. It's like Cadillac-driving welfare mothers. A non-existent problem that leapt to the forefront of American political debate because the right is able to hype it and shove it down our throats, where we only discover (and only if we look) that the problem never actually existed.

This is generic talk, a kind of "ooh, aren't conservatives eeevil" post. But we know, for a fact, that the monkeys and squirrels of Denver are diseased, just like we know, for a fact, that New Orleans needs to be saved, that health care in the nation is a nightmare at worst, a clusterfuck at best, we know, we know these things and more. And the best that the politicians can offer us, mostly Republicans, but many Democrats, too, is a chance to address the hallucinations instead of the fever.

The worthless immigration compromise bill, now delayed so it can be ripped to shreds by amendments of rabid mongrel-like savagery and others that'll fail because they're compassionate, is such an animal - it deals with things through illusions, of a plugged border, of being able to send thousands of people back to other countries and then let them back in, of people in poverty willingly doling out thousands of dollars. That's using fantasy to fight a fantasy version of real problems, like the best Washington can do is to try to deal with illegal immigration online in Second Life, forgetting that there's real bodies and lives, not virtual ones, at stake here.

The plague monkeys are here. They're not going back to the desert. And once the death and doom is done with the monkeys, well, there's only once place for the fleas to go.

(Speaking of nature and metaphors, think of the two humpback whales who can't find their way back to the ocean as Bush and Cheney trying to make Iraq succeed. It's sad, but fascinating, and it's gonna end in death.)