Meta Debating Iraq with Kurt Andersen, Part II

Posted on July 4, 2007. Filed under: Humor, Iraq, Jokes, Main Stream Media, News, Politics |

The Great Pseudo-Debate
Meta-Debating the Iraq War with Kurt Andersen, Part I

I want to be clear that I’m focusing on Andersen’s piece because I care about this issue and because I share many of the same frustrations as he does about Iraq. This issue definitely needs to be debated. In short, his piece was a catalyst for me to write mine.

So what is bothering Andersen? If I understand him correctly it’s that the debate the presidential candidates are having about Iraq is, in his words, fake. The fake debate is “all about the comparatively minor, near-term details of the American military withdrawal-cum-redeployment.” The real debate, in his mind, begin when we all acknowledge that we are stuck in Iraq for many years.

Leaving aside what I think about that, it’s worth pointing out that the candidates debate as they do because of the way the party politics works in this country. At this stage of the presidential campaign, candidates pander to the most extreme members of their party. For the Democrats, these are the folks who would like to raise our taxes to the moon and lead us to nirvana. Those who oppose them will be sent to a penal colony where they will be taught to love and share. For the Republicans, these are the folks who want to crucifix and a camera over everyone’s four-poster. They want to live in a nation of door-to-door bible salesmen (“I’d like to talk to you a little about the Lord. [insert uncomfortably long pause] Is this a good time?”) and appoint Jesus as Secretary of Defense. If the candidates decide to ignore these folks, they won’t get nominated.

During the last presidential campaign, the Democratic Party choose Kerry when the “base” really wanted Howard Dean. Heroically but hilariously they choose a man who could pull off the amazing stunt of telling everyone exactly what they wanted to hear. Whereas Dean was blunt about his opposition to the war, Kerry was “complicated.” He was able to please the far left by talking tough about Bush’s management of war without committing himself to ending the war. It seemed to satisfy everyone in the tent, and it almost worked. In the end though, Kerry tripped himself up in his own rhetorical calisthenics (“I was for the war before he was against it”).

So the far left of the party held their noses and nominated Kerry, even though they were wildly against his politics. He was rich. He was a suit. He was an aristocrat. They had to keep from laughing when they saw him, dressed in a blue sport jacket, chatting up Iowan farmers in a diner about the price of hogs or seeds or manure. They wanted Dean, and if they couldn’t have him they would have happily exhumed Che’s body instead. They had to muzzle themselves and ask others to restrain them during Kerry’s acceptance speech. It was a selfless sacrifice for the Party, of course. The idea was to pick a candidate who could potentially be palatable to enough swing voters to take the White House. They didn’t like Kerry’s politics, but they thought he could win. Instead, the Democrats lost the election, and got two big conservatives appointed to the Supreme Court.

In this election cycle, abortion is basically off the table–a decided negative for the Democrats. It was a great wedge issue for them. With that alone, they captured the politically active “suburban soccer mom” market. Now the fate of a federally protected right to an abortion is in the hands of the Supreme Court–and it will probably be overturned. After that, the issue goes back to the states, where it will remain a local issue for years to come. But the Democrats still have the War. And it’s not just the War–it’s all the little villains who can be trotted out. Dick Cheney will have a staring role. And they’ll be global warming talk a plenty. Those are their aces in the hole, so to speak. Aren’t you excited?

The Republican side was far simpler. In George W. Bush, the far right got someone who truly believed in what they stood for, who wasn’t pandering to them, and if they had to hold their noses about some of Bush’s big government spending plans like prescription drug coverage and overhauling Social Security (another “entitlement!”) or the fact that he was candy-ass on immigration, they were willing to split the difference. They love him on stem cells, even if no one understands what the fuss is all about (“You see these cells over here? Take ’em. These cells you may not touch. Why? Because they come from over here, that’s why!”)

If this is bothering Andersen, I say just wait until the real campaign gets going.

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Posted on June 28, 2007. Filed under: Humor, Jokes, News |

The fashion industry lost one of its own yesterday. According to the New York Times, Liz Claiborne, “the designer of indefatigable career clothes for professional women entering the workforce en masse beginning in the 1970s,” is dead. She was 78 years old. Fashion insiders say that a bevy of events are being planned to honor Claiborne’s contributions to fashion. Some of her largest accounts have paid tribute. One seller, Ajodha, who sells knockoffs of Claiborne’s “Everyday Classics” line on the corner of 7th Avenue and 49th Street, has pledged to refrain from selling the goods for one week. Says Ajodha “She [Claiborne] was a great lady. And a very generous lady. I do good business. I make nice living. I sell “Bi-Stretch Suiting Blazer,” “Fine Gauge Silk Blend,” “Sloane Twill Cropped Pants,” everything. At good prices. She will be missed. I stop selling her clothes one week. For one week, I honor her. At end of one week I’ll be having a special memorial sale at even cheaper price. I can’t hardly wait for Fall line.” Another large mover of merchandise, Ace, sells Claiborne’s leather bags, primarily out of the trunk of his Escalade. “I be moving her shit for years. That bitch been good to me, real good–know’m sayin? I buy the shit for 2 and sell it fo 5. I move at least 100 pieces a day. Sheet.” When asked what he might do to honor the designer, Ace shrugged and said that he would consider making a contribution to Claiborne’s rain forest education program in Brazil. “Maybe I send them a few bags too. They made there anyway,” he said.

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More Wikileaks…

Posted on June 26, 2007. Filed under: Humor, Jokes, News, Politics |

Since nothing much has been happening over at Wikileaks, I thought that they might want to check out “The Family Jewels,” the fabulous treasure trove of documents that the CIA released this week. I checked them out. According to my understanding, there have been a lot of people who have waited years to get their hands on them.

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Posted on June 22, 2007. Filed under: Apple, Humor, Jokes, News, Software, Technology |

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Sperm Banks

Posted on June 15, 2007. Filed under: Humor, Jokes, Main Stream Media, News, Technology |

David Brooks’s latest column in the New York Times has been attracting attention in the blogs, and I don’t want to be left behind. I quickly scanned the column, and now I’m gonna throw my two cents in.

Brooks is cranky because in the sperm market, the demand for blond, blue-eyed, intelligent, and athletic people is greater than that of short milquetoasts like himself. Sperm, it seems, now have resumes. Little, bitty, cute resumes. This, combined with the scientific theory that the future of a child is genetically determined, makes it easy to understand why the sperm market behaves as it does.

First, have some pity for syndicated columnists. The work doesn’t pay a lot of money, given the intelligence and education that many nationally syndicated columnists possess. And the worst part of it is that they have to produce copy even when they have nothing to say. We bloggers don’t have that problem because we can write whenever we choose. And we also don’t have to sign our names. It’s phenomenal, really. We write. And we keep our privacy. So give the columnists a break. They do this shit for a living.

Anyway, I liked this column and I thought it was funny. And it’s true. You never hear about a person going to a sperm bank and asking for short, unathletic traits. That doesn’t sell. But consider the possibility that the people who think they’re buying the sperm of a Greek God are actually buying the sperm of a bum or drug addict–the kind of guy who needs to sell his sperm for money. Does a tall, educated, successful, attractive man need to sell his sperm for a few bucks? I imagine that some of the men who need to sell their sperm are probably also “giving” blood–four or five times a week. So take heart David Brooks.

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One Last Question for Peter Pace…

Posted on June 9, 2007. Filed under: Humor, Jokes, Politics |

It’s too bad that General Pace will retire before he clarifies a point which has been in my mind ever since he made his remark about gay sex. Here is his remark, as quoted in the Washington Blade:

“I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,” he said. “I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.”

Fair enough. But what if the homosexual acts occur between three or more people? What if the acts occur between….

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Top Five Wikileaks

Posted on April 16, 2007. Filed under: Humor, Jokes, Politics |

Just in case things get a little slow over at Wikileaks, I figured I’d pass along some of the choicest nuggets of knowledge that I’ve discovered from various leakers:

1. Abe Lincoln may have slept in Lincoln Bedroom. And his morning breath could have toppled an elephant.

2. Fidel Castro taught Bill Clinton the infamous “cigar gesture.”

3. Karl Rove reads Sports Illustrated in the White House commode.

4. Putin can eat 100 hot dogs without barfing.

5. The Pope is Catholic.

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Louis Kahn’s Building

Posted on April 4, 2007. Filed under: Art, Film, Humor, Jokes |

After seeing the film “My Architect,” a documentary about the life of architect Louis Kahn, I became enraptured by his work. I scoured the web for photos of his buildings. And they were magnificent. The Salk Institute, with its open courtyard, was revelatory. The Kimbell Art Museum, with its arches and its use of natural light, is a masterpiece. While all these structures are important, the documentary leaves no doubt as to what Kahn viewed as his magnum opus: the government buildings of Bangladesh in Dhaka.

The film, of course, could not do complete justice to this complex of buildings. In the course of my research, I came upon some extremely rare audio recordings of Kahn speaking with his patrons at the building site. The conversations describe a small structure that was aparently bothering the Master. He hadn’t designed it. It wasn’t in his plans. But it was there. Let’s listen in:

MAN: “This is the ‘education hut’ or ‘the questioning house,’ Mr. Kahn. It is where we take the people who are not desirable. We play smacky-face with them a little bit there. Think of it as a Rousseauean place where people are ‘forced to be free.’ If you like, it’s a torture chamber.”

KAHN: “Vat for we need this eyesore here? I build you this magnificent temple to democracy and you build an outhouse on it?”

MAN #2: “Lou, don’t worry about a thing. We got it all taken care of. You just concentrate on the big stuff. You’re the big picture guy. The visionary. The genius. It’s not a problem.”

KAHN: “Vat dis vas not in my original plans. Where is zis from? Who makes zis?”

MAN #2: “Lou, it’s gonna be great. We’re gonna sell ’em a load of clams on this one.”

The tense, creative discussions show the Great Man questioning and searching for meaning. Notice how he never retreats, never budges from his vision. No detail is too small. Kahn is relentless.

KAHN: “So ve need dis building here? Are you sure?”

MAN #2: “Lou, I gotta say there is no room for negotiation. The building stays.”

KAHN: “Alright already with this building. Genug.”

A small boy approaches the Master. He is described as being Bangladeshi, of short stature with black glasses and freckles.

KAHN: “Vait a minute. I have a visitor here.”

BOY: “Poppa, will you play with me?”

KAHN: “I can’t play here. Can’t you see I’m working here. It’s too hot to play ball here. Go play with your mother over there. And I’m not your father.”

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Protected: A guy walks into a pet store…

Posted on March 23, 2007. Filed under: Jokes |

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Protected: Crass Joke

Posted on March 10, 2007. Filed under: Jokes |

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  • Quotes of the Day

    "Writing editorials is like wetting your pants in a blue serge suit. It feels good, but nobody really notices."

    --Jack Germond

    "Famous men and women, by the act of putting themselves on display, whether as politicians, actors, writers, painters, musicians, restaurateurs, or whatever, invite public appraisal. They are all, impressively or pathetically, acting on the presumption that their ideas, their fantasies, their music, their bodies are more original than those of, say, a plumber or a certified public accountant. They are all exercising the impulse, as Mencken put it, ‘to flap their wings in public.’ This is so obvious to the critic–and, I believe, to the ordinary reader or spectator–that it seems hardly worth saying. But resentment of the practice of criticism itself is strong among professional artists (and all Presidents of the United States). There is a psychological type among them that hates critics on principle as parasites or failed performers. This is very natural but surely very childish and, in any country claiming to be civilized, actually anti-social. The existence of critics, good, bad, or indifferent, is a firm clause in the social contract between the governors and the governed in any nation that is not a dictatorship. Public figures should accept with good grace the public response to their invitations to be admired and resist the temptation to retort, except in the face of flagrant malice."

    --Alistair Cooke

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