I’m currently “nuancing” at The Widdershins. Come and join me!
THE SCENE: A swank TV studio, with all the zoomy, whizzy lights, giant flashing screens, deep-pile royal blue carpeting, poreless, lacquered newsbots, and hysterical black-clad assistants one could ever desire. We are in the back of the studio, in the glass-enclosed center of all the action. EDITORS 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all sitting in their leather chairs, directing the action by talking to each other, pointing at their MacBooks, and shouting into their wireless headsets. They are all in their 20’s and have just been promoted after their more experienced bosses “aged out of the business.”
EDITOR 1 (swigging a Red Bull): What’s new on Twitter? We’ve gotta have something for the next segment.
EDITOR 2 (nervously): Let’s see…Demi and Ashton just tweeted…
EDITOR 3 (yawning): Oh please. They tweet when they pee!
EDITOR 4 (pushing in excitedly): Guys, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard just got bombed! A bunch of people died and that DinnerJacket guy is blaming us and the Brits! This could be the start of a huge international incident!
(A brief silence, then:)
EDITORS 1-3 (bursting into laughter): HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
EDITOR 3 (wiping tears from her eyes): Oh, that was a good one! Like anyone cares about that crap these days.
(EDITOR 4 subsides into a humiliated silence.)
EDITOR 2 (eagerly): What about Sarah Palin? Sometimes we can just say her name and people think it’s news!
EDITOR 1 (dismissively): Nahhhh, we tried that two days ago. It bombed.
EDITOR 2 (peevishly): FINE. Uh, uh…Oooooh! (points at his MacBook) Check this out!
(All the EDITORS gather around the screen.)
EDITOR 3 (finally interested): Holy shit! A kid jumped in a balloon in a back yard and it got loose?
EDITOR 2 (proud): Huh? Huh? Is this good or what?
EDITOR 1 (shouting into his headset): Listen up, people! We’ve got something. Get ready to roll in five!
EDITOR 4: This story is unbelievable! Wow, it’s…hmmm.
EDITOR 3 (dismissively): What is it NOW?
EDITOR 4: Well, just shooting it out there, but…what if the kid was never in the balloon to begin with? Or what if he was, but he’s not now? Or what if these parents are making the whole thing up?
EDITOR 1 (after a brief pause): What are you, 25?
EDITOR 4 (nervously): Uh…26.
EDITOR 1 (smugly): I figured. God, you old people just don’t understand the business any more! (gets up and starts pacing) The story’s a win-win. If it’s a hoax, we do a story about the hoax and we milk that for a week. If it’s true, boo-hoo, the kid’s dead – we milk that for a week. If the kid arrives in the balloon safely, we milk his heroic and incredible escape for a week. (suddenly shouting) DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!
(EDITOR 4 looks cowed and ashamed. EDITORS 2 and 3 look happy and superior.)
EDITOR 1 (with chilling finality): You’re fired. (sitting down, shouting into his headset) Hey! You in the black!
(ALL the assistants whirl around at the same time, with hopeful smiles on their faces.)
EDITOR 1 (annoyed): NOT YOU! The guy with the cool hair and soulpatch. Get up here, man.
(The New Guy pumps the air with his fist, then starts making his way to the glass booth as EDITOR #4 exits ignominiously. Suddenly, EDITOR #4 stops his exit, and stands in the middle of the newsroom. He exudes a quiet and desperate dignity which is compelling enough to cause a pause in all the furious activity.)
EDITOR 4: You are all a disgrace to journalism. Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow are ROLLING IN THEIR GRAVES!
(He swoops out dramatically. With a shrug, the buzzing and rushing resume.)
EDITOR 3 (yawning again): What the hell was he talking about?
THE NEW GUY: Should I Google ’em?
EDITOR 2 (completely uninterested): Whatever. (looks at his MacBook, brightens) Oooh, video!
EDITOR 1 (excitedly): Send it through!
EDITOR 3 (happily): News for a week no matter what happens. We are AWESOME!
(All the EDITORS high-five as:)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A befuddled President Barack Obama was awakened at the crack of noon Monday to more unexpected accolades: He had just won the Most Valuable President (MVP) award for keeping the world turning on its axis, simply by using the power of his enormous brain.
Although the President was difficult to understand before his first cup of coffee and slightly miffed at being roused so early from his bed (well, who among us is really a morning person?), it seemed that, after the disbelief had worn off, he was fully cognizant of the honor and responsibility of being America’s MVP. “Wow,” he exclaimed. “You mean just by thinking about what I’m going to have for lunch, I’m actually powering the rotation of the earth? Far fucking out!” The POTUS was quickly rushed to his bubble bath by the First Lady, as Robert Gibbs, Presidential spokesperson, furiously typed the words “Thank you very much for this unexpected and overwhelming honor” into the Presidential Teleprompter for Obama to read later on in the afternoon.
Unfortunately, not everyone is thrilled with this year’s recipient of the MVP Award. Scientists, in particular, are outraged at the counterfactual assertions of the MVP Committee. Said Janet Marksham of the League of Concerned Scientists, “We have, in fact, measured the size of President Obama’s brain, and have found that it is exactly the same size as every other adult male of the species Homo sapiens. In fact, there appears to be no evidence that Obama’s thoughts are powering anything, much less the rotation of the earth!”
Despite the clearly partisan naysayers, America should be very proud of our President becoming the world’s first black MVP. The prize is $10 million, which President Obama is donating to the newly-founded charity, the Malia and Sasha College Fund for Underprivileged Daughters of American Presidents.
—Additional Reporting by S.N. Ark
(Note: Apologies for my absence…I’ve been over at The Widdershins.)
I’m still processing what I experienced on Friday night at The White House Project. It was quite exciting to be around those 100 women who are considering running for office, to hear the passion, trepidation and hope in their voices. It was also a privilege to hear the wise words of the women who have been successful (and who have failed) in the brutal world of politics. I got a good “get” from the event, too: I will have an interview with a fantastic lady, New York State Senator Liz Krueger for you in a few weeks, as well. Teh kewl!
I’m also processing my thoughts about blogging, the Interwebs, and what they’re really good for. Seems to me, the best thing we do is opinionating, and organizing for action. We’re trying to do a little of both here at TW now, because my opinions are a little dark these days, and I’m having a really hard time trying to keep a positive attitude with all the idiocy that’s going on.
I mean, what planet was the Nobel Peace Prize Committee on? Even the Obama-supporting pundits I’m reading are having a hard time defending the complete clusterfuckiness of that award. Some, like Glenn Greenwald, are not defending it at all; others seem to be resorting to the tried-and-true tactic of skimming over the obvious ridiculousness of it all, blaming the Republicans and, in the case of the DNC, calling those who criticize the award “siding with terrorists.” (I have to admit, I find that “reporter’s” assertion that Ronald Reagan, Mr. Iran-Contra, should have gotten the award, to be quite hilarious.)
Although I sometimes can chuckle at the absurdity of things, in general, I find I have lost my sense of humor. Obama seems bound and determined to make sure that nothing benefiting the needy ever passes through Congress, all the while (successfully?) blaming the Party who is out of power and who literally can do NOTHING to prevent him from doing anything he wants to do. It is really fucking depressing, and the idea that a Republican President and Congress might be taking over again in four years hardly seems bearable, or a remotely desired outcome.
So, the last thing I want to hear right now is the smug cluckings and crowings of the Right, as Obama swiftly throws any chance of real change out the window with both hands. I’ve had to put up with those jackasses and their lying, criminal, anti-American activities for the past eight years. I don’t want to hear what they have to say, not now, not ever. I will never forgive them for Bush, for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, for the destruction of the Constitution and the economy, and most of all, for being in bed with the corporations who have ruined a far-from-perfect, but well-meaning attempt at democracy, and who have now taken over the Democratic Party leadership as well. If I have been oversensitive about that because of my red-hot hatred towards these bloviating gasbags, I do apologize.
things are ch-ch-ch-changing over there!
Go take a look if you’re so inclined…and happy New Year to all my Jewish friends out there!
Well, it’s September The Eleventh again. Let’s see how we’re doing on All Matters 9/11, shall we?
Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks, is still alive and free, despite self-serving claims to the contrary by some in Pakistan.
The 9/11 Memorial is still unbuilt. (Gonna be lovely sometime, though. 2021? 2031?)
Our occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan continues, and Congress has just approved another request for $128 billion to keep the pointless quagmires going. Meanwhile, the Taliban now has a presence in 97% of all the regions of Afghanistan.
There are still no body bags or coffins on the TeeVee. The dead of Iraq and Afghanistan can still be “out of sight, out of mind,” as Donald Rumsfeld decreed.
Last November, we elected a man President based on his promises of “Change,” and so far, he has done nothing but embrace the war policies and the Unitary Executive theory of his much-despised predecessor. Worse, he has protected the members of that OTHER Administration from the consequences of their actions. George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Condi Rice remain unpunished for their launch of a war based on lies. Bush and Cheney’s other criminal actions, like torture, the outing of Valerie Plame, rendition and warrantless wiretapping, also have cost them nothing.
In this Obamafied, kumbaya, “post-partisan” atmosphere of no accountability ever for any Republican politician, is it any wonder that Tom DeLay is on “Dancing with the Stars,” and Mark Foley, MARK FOLEY of the underage intern scandals, is going to have his own radio show?
When will we ever learn? And when, please tell me, are things going to change?
All my sympathies go to the families and friends of the victims of that fateful attack so many years ago. I can’t help but feel that they would be not pleased by what has been done in their names. I hope that one day we will be able to remember them without guilt and shame for our collective insanity.
“Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?”
President George W. Bush, January 11, 2000
I think it’s fairly clear that our “progressive” brethren and sistren of the Obotic persuasion have begun to awaken to the fact that Barack Obama is, well, just not that into them. The utter ridiculousness and unnecessary clusterfuckiness of the health care “debate” combined with the pointless, rightwing-appeasing ousting of “progressive” appointee Van Jones has, in the words of a friend of mine, shown Obama’s ass. It’s now totally obvious to any but the most blinded by Obama worship that Obama never intended to do anything except funnel more money to his corporate and fundiegelical masters. His entire Presidency begins and ends with this goal. That’s really all there is to him, and there’s nothing we can do to change that fact. Why else would the Powers That Be have spent $800 million to force him down America’s throat? They expect a very high return on their investment, you know.
The chagrin and pain of ObamaNation would be cause for vengeful celebration if (a) we didn’t care that Obama is on the verge of completely and irretrievably screwing the possibility of universal health care for the foreseeable future, and (b) we thought that our Obots was (were? it’s so hard to get the Bushspeak context correct, isn’t it?) learning the right lessons.
We racist, bitter, bible-thumping dried-up old ladies were right, weren’t we? So why didn’t they listen to us and back Hillary Clinton? Why did the left blogosphere, for the most part, go so gaga over Obama? Was it merely the excitement of the first black President of the United States? Was it the superior marketing capabilities of Axelrod & Co., hand in glove with the corporate media who, not suspiciously AT ALL (insert eyeroll here) had suddenly discovered a hithertofore hidden lurv of liberal, anti-corporatist policies?
I believe Obama’s skin color, coupled with the media’s relentless coverups of his total and complete unsuitability for the job of POTUS, were two important factors. But two other factors were even stronger: Clinton Derangement Syndrome, and unrepentant misogyny. And I’m afraid our Obot “friends” have not chosen to understand how their own hatreds and prejudices led them to be hoodwinked, bamboozled and made to look like total and complete morons for believing Obama’s lies.
As Barack Obama continues to flounder, flip-flop and act like a fumbling fool on the issue of health care, Our Girl is doing what she always does: blooming where she’s planted. Aren’t you glad that SOMEONE in the Obama Administraiton is acting like a Democrat?!
Barely six months into her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has already made the State Department her own, setting its direction with her usual firmness and clarity.
Clinton’s just-concluded 11-day trip to Africa has sent the clearest signal yet that she intends to make women’s rights one of her signature issues and a higher priority than ever before in American diplomacy.
She plans to press governments on abuses of women’s rights and make women more central in U.S. aid programs.
But her efforts go beyond the marble halls of government and show how she is redefining the role of secretary of state. Her trips are packed with town hall meetings and visits to micro-credit projects and women’s dinners. Ever the politician, she is using her star power to boost women who could be her allies.
“It’s just a constant effort to elevate people who, in their societies, may not even be known by their own leaders,” Clinton said in an interview. “My coming gives them a platform, which then gives us the chance to try and change the priorities of the governments.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: When I heard yesterday that Unka Dick was writing a book criticizing George Bush for “going soft” on “their” policies in the final year of his Presidency, I couldn’t help imagining what he would say. This is the result. Enjoy!
THE SCENE: Dick Cheney’s secret bunker, erm, house. It is lushly appointed in Modern Dungeon, with grey walls mimicking the look of concrete, medieval torture devices tastefully displayed in gleaming mahogany cabinets with recessed lighting, and an old electric chair given pride of place in a prominent corner. Pictures of Cheney with Nixon, Kissinger and other reviled figures of the American past are positioned artfully on the walls. There are some obvious empty spaces where the pictures of Dick and Dubya used to hang. On the mantle over the stone fireplace are family pictures in black ebony frames; the 75-inch flatscreen TV is perpetually tuned to Fox News. The whole place seems like a museum, and a rather uninviting one at that.
DICK is seated in a leather armchair by the fireplace, waiting impatiently, sipping on a bourbon and water. He is half-drunk, as usual. Finally, his wife LYNNE enters the room with another woman, in her early sixties, and well-put together.
LYNNE: Dick, here she is. What did you say your name was again, honey?
WOMAN: Mrs. Cheney, my name is Frances Wood – I’m here to help Dick with his book.
LYNNE: Well now, Frances, I think you’re going to work out just wonderfully. I’ll leave you both to your work. I just know it’s going to be a huge best-seller!
DICK (motioning to a chair opposite him): Well, sit down, Frances, sit down. Tell me about yourself. Do you have a lot of ghostwriting experience?
FRANCES: Actually, yes. I write all of the books for Regnery Press. You know, the conservative publishing house? Michelle Malkin, Bernie Goldberg…folks like that.
DICK (impressed): Well! It looks like I’m in very good hands then.
FRANCES (faux-modestly): I like to think so. So, Mr. Vice President –
DICK (interrupting): Call me Dick. Everyone does.
FRANCES: Well, uh, Dick, where would you like to start?
DICK: At the beginning, of course! Chapter 1: The Nixon Years.
FRANCES: Perfect! May I turn on my tape recorder?
DICK (panicking): NO! No tape recorders! I get to wiretap you, not the other way around!
FRANCES (shocked): Uh, what?
DICK (recovering himself): Oh! Sorry. Just a reflex. Ha! Well. Where was I? Ah yes. Chapter 1: The Nixon Years. (leaning back in his chair and reminiscing) Ah, Dick Nixon was a great man. He had a problem with the drinking, you know: but otherwise, he was really on the right track.
FRANCES (encouragingly): In what way?
DICK (taking a sip of his drink): Remember when he said “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal?” That was brilliant! Yes, if only he’d taken that farther, we would be in a much better place here in America. (abruptly standing, snarling) But no, that stupid Commie bastard Ford had to come in and ruin everything. PARDON Nixon. For what? A stupid burglary? That was child’s play, a nothing. The only mistake G. Gordon made was getting caught!
FRANCES (eagerly): Wow! This is great stuff, Dick. Please continue.
DICK (basking in her praise): Well, we can flesh that part out later. What I really want to talk about is how I developed my philosophy for world domination, and how that weak, drunken fool (air quotes) “Dubya” ruined everything!
(sitting on the arm of the chair, deliciously remembering his glory days)
DICK: It all began with a group of dreamers. Me and some guys from the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, we decided that after President Reagan caused the USSR to destroy itself in Afghanistan, we needed a new focus for American foreign policy. At the same time, we realized that as much as we love our oil men in Texas, their time was coming to an end. Pretty soon the U.S. of A. was going to need all of that oil in the Middle East in order to survive. And of course, we knew that with the rise of that wimp Al Gore’s (air quotes) “internet,” nuclear weapons were going to start proliferating in countries that were very unfriendly to our interests.
And so was born – the Project for the New American Century!
(A fanfare bursts out in the room.)
FRANCES (jumping up, startled, hand on heart): Oh my goodness!
DICK (confused): Huh? (light dawning) Oh, that! Oh don’t worry, Frances. I’ll have it turned off. The house is wired for certain..special effects. (Presses a button under the arm of the chair) There! That should be the last time you hear it.
FRANCES (calming down, but now confused in turn): Special…effects?
DICK (embarrassed): Ummmm, yes. You see, it’s hard for some people to understand my speech, so we have a Cheney to English translater built into the house. (gesturing) My words are processed as they exit my mouth, so you can better receive my wisdom. But that’s not why we’re here, so let’s get back on track, shall we? We were talking about – my glorious vision!
(sits back down in the chair)
FRANCES: Yes, tell me more about (looks around apprehensively), um, PNAC?
(No fanfare. FRANCES sighs with relief.)
DICK: Yes, PNAC! Well, we understood that weak-minded, lily-livered hick, Bill Clinton was destroying America with all that so-called peace and prosperity. We knew it was time to do something quick! So here it is: Our Statement of Principles, from 1997. I can recite it from memory, of course.
“We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration’s success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.
Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.
Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:
• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global
responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
• we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.”
(DICK looks expectantly at FRANCES. She is spellbound, but then, comes out of it to give DICK a round of applause.)
FRANCES: Bra-vo, Dick! And how did PNAC proceed after that?
DICK: Well, we wrote a letter in 1998 trying to convince ol’ Billy Boy to invade Eye-Raq. We had some of our Congressmen do the same. But it didn’t work. He couldn’t see the opportunity and the danger of Saddam’s evil regime. But when we got Georgie in the White House, we knew we had struck gold. And 9/11, well, that was just great for us! It was the perfect excuse to do what we had wanted to do from Day One. We even put one of our members in charge in Afghanistan! Allahu akbar, baby!
FRANCES (smiling, tactfully): Uh, Dick, I might not put that in the book. I mean, we want people to like you and sympathize with you. Right?
DICK (standing abruptly, thundering and pointing his finger): LIKE me? Do you think I give a shit about that? This book is about being RIGHT and setting the record straight. I can still influence the direction of this country and keep it from descending into complete chaos! It’s my duty as an American!
(taking a deep breath, calming himself)
Now, if you will excuse me, I think I need a break. We’ll continue in an hour or so. Please feel free to help yourself to whatever you need in the kitchen. The maid will be along shortly to give you a tour of the house.
(FRANCES, mindful of the bugs in the Cheney home, turns up the sound on the TV. She furtively takes out a cell phone and makes a call.)
FRANCES (in a stage whisper): Hello? Laura? It’s me, Frances. It’s working out just like you said it would! Dick is even more nuts than you told me! (listening) Yes, I heard the fanfare. (listening) Trust me. When I’m done with Dick Cheney, your husband George is going to look like a saint! (listening) You’re welcome, honey. Anything for a fellow Kappa Alpha Theta! KAT Forever! Bye, honey!
(FRANCES hangs up the phone happily.)