Really, Mr. Gaffemeister? Love, with Sinus Snuffles
It has been a slack week, without a laugh from our white-plugged veep, Mr. "Don't Mess with Joe" Biden.
But the last laugh we got was his solemn assertion that, y'know, American cities are less spiffy 'n' spanny than...China's. Now some things are just on the surface chortle-out-loud hilarious, as when Biden told a hero serviceman without legs, in a wheelchair, to stand up to be acknowledged. Or when he noted that one can't enter the America-renowned establishment Dunkin' Donuts without having a "slight Indian accent." After an initial spate of giddiness, even Dan Quayle, Bush 41 veep, sobered down, misspelled a word, maybe, but in general avoided making an equine hindquarters of himself.
But this municipal slur, Mr. Vice President?
Gotta tell ya, if he were here, he'd get a wok-ful of unwonderful -- at least, if one could hold him still for a history and culture lesson.
Biden is, of course, quite wrong about that mean-spirited and bizarre offhand observation (clearly not based on long-term fact-hunting, nor posited on in-depths with his more intelligent better half). One concludes that he must have spouted this fatuous vapidity when very, very tired, or under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. He is not, unlike his chieftain, chemically dependent on a teleprompter, so it's safe to say that this peculiar assessment emerged from his own unfathomable depths of Mercator-projection meshuga for which he is so justly known and so beloved.
While imperfect, heaven knows, U.S. cities are leagues above those in the PRC from every point of view -- not only in terms of largesse and decency to those who least help themselves, or the way one judges a society. How a culture treats its women, children, and disabled is how you adjudge it. Based on that yardstick, Joe, China fails -- in a big way -- down the stairs.
I lived in the People's Republic of China for several years, in four cities, in the mid-decade, and visited some 30 cities in that country in depth.
In point of fact, almost every city in China is horribly polluted by effluents in the air, such that breathing while running or biking offers a health threat from inhalation of heavy-sediment particulate matter. Coal particles permeate entire city miles. Oil from open-air woks harsh the eyes, making stinging tears impossible to stop thanks to the penetrating, carcinogen-laced overcooked oil suspensions. There is one city where the air is relatively clean, the sky relatively blue. That city is the flower capital of the country, and block upon block of blossoms perfume the air for the visitor. But that is an exception.
The air in nearly every other Chinese city -- save those in the highest reaches of the mountains, with brisk regional winds to clear away the chemical, industrial, commercial, and municipal pollutants -- is gray enough to see, most days. A plate left out overnight is coated with dirt and sediments by early the next morning. If you eat outside, the joke goes, your food gets dirty before it cools. Brushfires and rubbish fires -- often of pungent coated plastics that ought not be burnt -- burn without controls. Animals roam freely, eliminating at will, wherever. Restaurants are often home to cats, dogs, chickens, and assorted other wildlife. Fireworks are a constant harassment, with their attendant noise and suspended, astringent airborne silt. Rivers are a disgrace. Dogs, beaten into cringing, roam without minders, are beaten by children without remonstrating parents to stop the animal abuse, and expel wastes without hindrance or proprietary care. Dogs are, of course, also kept in local zoos. And, again of course, they are a culinary delicacy that Westerners find hard to tolerate.
More evidence of the discrepancy between the U.S. and China? Buildings are dingy. Official buildings are dingier. Streets are awash with plastic bottles, yellowing papers, food wastes, rubbish of indeterminate nature, and all the other modern-day detritus of bustling lives. Sidewalks are scumbled and broken, showing a want of municipal concern for decades. Roads are in disrepair in most rural areas.
Cars chug out diesel fumes, and old cars chug out worse than that. Carts, oxen, buffalo, goats, chickens, and other assorted livestock charmingly barnacle the streets in most cities. Vehicles are of an amazing profusion, many not of modern-day vintage -- if so, the vehicle movers and shacklers mark their roads every hour or so.
Beijing and Shanghai are not the measure of China, remember. Bikes are reluctantly being supplanted by cars, to the detriment of the air, ground, and resources of these massive cities.
And if U.S. airports are not the newest, shiniest loci since the invention of the wheel, Chinese airports are mostly nasty, peeling, dank places, with unsmiling officials on their guard for the possibility of those who might be unwelcome, ill, or suspicious. Special electronic wands measure passersby for body temperature, and if you record higher than the acceptable norm on the CRT screens in blazing oranges, reds, and greens, you do not board your plane. You do not collect your unused ticket reimbursement. You do not pass Go.
You cannot with any ease buy foreign books, papers, or periodicals. You cannot without vast difficulty change currency. Unless you have American currency, you cannot hope to get any. Banks are a joke: people despair of getting their savings out when they are needed. Credit cards are viewed with dismay or alarm, though they are now gaining more acceptance than they had even a few years ago.
Buses are so overtaxed that one can sometimes see the road beneath the bus as one is traveling. Women are bus drivers, but this people's paradise pays them less than their male confrères. Everyone and his brother smokes -- especially in enclosed spaces. People regard not drinking odd, as they regard not smoking peculiar. It is considered rude not to smoke when offered a handful of unfiltered smokes at a wedding, say. Cell phones are ubiquitous, but are used as beards for adultery and philandering. Visitors are often taken advantage of in price hikes and subtle refusal to accord with local pricing.
Some poor live so bereft of services they are literally naked and live like forest animals. Welfare services are sparse to none, and the one-child family rule established by the mass murderer, Mao, means that parents must depend on the slim earnings of one child to keep them alive when they are forced to retire at 50 to 55. This waste of skills is posited because of the mass of upcoming youths who need jobs, so expert and skilled workers are forced to "retire" before they would be anywhere else. If a catastrophe like an earthquake kills your child in the rubble of buildings poorly erected, there goes your old age. There goes your future, as well as your past.
This is Joe Biden's view of a "better" place than the average U.S. city, with its fresh air, its massive welfare net for the elderly or disabled, its wonderful profusion of safeguards and private enterprise ensuring a renewal of infrastructure every few years to accommodate new businesses? Its marvelous openness of entrepreneurs, career options, news media, and periodicals and internet traffic?
For shame. The inadvertent comedian of the Obama regime owes the United States a bumper-sized apology for his sadly uninformed insult.