Attacking Iowa With Adjectives

From a story “Why Iowa?” by Dan Zak in the Washington Post Style section:

The story’s opening:

Iowa is a fairy tale. Somewhere between the crumbling bridges, the meth clinics, the jackknifed tractor trailers, the zombie combines steered by satellite, the putrid purgatories for dinner-bound hogs—somewhere among the wannabe novelists and suicidal farmers and drooling cage fighters sponsored by bargain hotel chains, down rutted byways to giant wind turbines, alongside ditches oozing with nitrates and Busch Light—is a loose menagerie of utopia, where Americans are pleasant, responsible and cooperative, where they pass down their civic duty like a trust fund, where they still have one hand in the fallowing topsoil, the other locked in fellowship with their neighbor, and their eyes on the future of the republic. This frontage road of a state, this frozen slab of soybean fields and carpenter gothic, has threshed the Democratic presidential candidates for a year now, and it will make the first winnowing of the field Monday, when about 0.1 percent of the country’s registered voters—after being harassed by campaigns and spoiled with millions of dollars—could set the course for the rest of our lives.

There were more adjectives to come:

heartland fetish
phony agrarian horses—
epic primary process
bellwether state
bad funk
shrinking relevance
stagnated wages
structurally deficient bridges
mythical Iowa
picturesque cradle
evaporated farms
emptied town squares
solitary task
curtained booth
phantom idea
quaint mythology
gray, slushy Mississippi River
bracing diagnosis
viable candidates
wayward dreamers
rolled-up sleeves
fleshy 3-D
terse theatrics
strange doors
frozen canvassers
warm foyers
dark nights
white, rural world
mass incarceration
crippling anxiety
reckless consumerism
vibrant communities
bucolic area
disembodied voice
weak slogans
sad-sack superpower
Note that Post editors changed the phrase “phony agrarian horseshit” to “phony agrarian horses—.” That’s counter to the Post’s policy to quote President Trump’s use of profanity. From an October 8 Post story by Avi Selk:

“BULLSHIT” is all over the place. Any child could have looked at a TV on Wednesday afternoon and seen the forbidden word superimposed across Wolf Blitzer’s tie: “SEETHING TRUMP ACCUSES REP. SCHIFF OF TREASON, DENOUNCES IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY AS ‘BULLSHIT.’ ”

The Washington Post published “bullshit” at least five times that day and obviously continues to do so. So did other news organizations as they reported on an especially angry and profane rant by President Trump.

If the word emanated from almost any other person, it would be considered not fit for repetition, let alone mass broadcast, under the puritanical standards of decency this country is supposedly based on. But because this particular instance of “bullshit” issued from the leader of the United States, it can and possibly even must be shared verbatim with the world.



  1. Barnard Law Collier says

    Dear Jack,

    Speaking of Iowa, the so-called fiasco in ballot counting at the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses ought to be traced to the true source of the problems: the news and entertainment media.

    There is no reason that the vote count for any state or national election must be conducted promptly after the election, except for the gratification of the news and entertainment media that demands and expects quick, dramatic counts before bedtime.

    To be fair to American voters, no final count whatsoever ought to be made available until three days or longer after a state or national vote.

    This mandated delay will obviate almost all of the issues caused by precinct call-ins, screwed-up or hacked counting apps, and the bad publicity in the press that now comes from “not counting fast enough”.

    Voting machines will no longer be necessary because much cheaper paper ballots can be used and time in counting will not be a factor. High school seniors can be entrusted to count the vote and they are least to be involved in dishonorable or criminal practices.

    So who really needs to know the results so fast?

    In fact, nobody with legal, honest or honorable motives.

    Who would care about the delay except for the “media” and those who benefit from the hype but not the accuracy?

    There is no honest reason, in my opinion, that a quick count rather than a true count is needed.

    In reality the quick count plays into the hands of con artists, Russian trolls, and anti-democrats, who will henceforth in 2020 accuse all elections of being invalidated by tainted counts, unless their candidate wins it.

    I am rather sadly reminded of my brothers, James Marshall (“Jim”) and Kenneth Frederick (“Ken”) who are authors of the book Votescam – The Stealing of America.

    They are now dead, and I’m biased, so I’ll simply agree wholeheartedly with what Amazon says:

    “Votescam by James and Kenneth Collier recounts a fascinating and daring investigative reporting project – to figure out how the American voting system works. How can the outcome of elections be predicted so accurately by ‘exit polls,’ and how are the votes counted so fast? Why is so much of the process secret?

    “This is the weirdest, wildest, and most astonishing nonfiction detective story of the 1990s, an explosive investigation that tracks down, confronts, and names the Establishment crooks who elegantly steal the American vote for their own profit. It comes face to face with a Supreme Court justice who rigged a vote fraud case; the most powerful female publisher in America, who won’t let her newspapers and TV stations deal with vote-rigging; and a cast of politicians, computer wizards, professors, lawyers, news people, aristocrats, CIA operatives, outraged citizens, conspiracy buffs, and crusaders involved in a scandal of unthinkable dimensions.”

    My brothers profoundly felt that civil unrest in America would too soon be purposefully provoked by stolen and deliberately misdirected votes.

    I believe the “too soon” is 2020.

    Votescam was a generation ahead of its time, which is now.

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