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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Dear Senator Edwards

I’m sorry I’ve neglected you for so long.  I supported you for VP, and I’m glad I did, but most of my blogging energy lately has been spent on the RNC, on a couple of wingnuts, on Tom Frank, and on advising self-appointed Kerry advisers in liberal blogistan not to offer John Kerry unsolicited advice because they were distracting the big guy from listening to my unsolicited advice.  But I’ve been keeping track of your campaign appearances too, and if you feel slighted by the relative lack of unsolicited Edwards advice on this blog, I apologize.

I’m writing because I’m not going to be able to watch the debate.  I’m speaking at the University of Alabama at Birmingham tonight at roughly the same time you’ll be sitting down with Voldemort.  I almost cancelled this trip because of Jamie’s health-- I’ve never cancelled a gig before, but when Jamie was briefly hospitalized I thought I might have to cancel this one, despite the fact that they’d invited me over a year ago.  But here I am, and now it turns out that I’ll be giving a “public” lecture while most of the public around here will be watching you.

So, anyway, watch out for this Cheney guy.  He’s the most dangerous kind of barking loon-- the kind that doesn’t sound the least bit like a barking loon.  Think of it this way:  he’s a big Laurie Mylroie fan.  We know he believes that Iraq was partly responsible for 9/11; he may also believe, with Mylroie, that Saddam was behind Oklahoma City as well.  Now, most people who think this way are mumbling to themselves in public parks about how they invented skydiving in 2023 or haunting the NYC subways and putting up wheat-paste posters full of detailed, tiny-print evidence of how the Trilateral Commission killed Bruce Lee.  But Cheney doesn’t come across that way at all.  He says the most batshit crazy things in the most soothing, avuncular tones, and he always has.  He’s very good at it.  His demeanor is basically that of the guy working the grill at the backyard barbeque.  He’s actually saying, “you people need to understand that we know Saddam still has WMD, and that’s why we’re searing the flesh of random detainees in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib-- if you knew what I knew, you’d see it the same way, but I can’t tell you what I know, so get out of my way and let me get back to my job,” but he sounds like he’s saying, “you gotta understand that you need to spray the grill or the sausages are gonna stick, and that’s why I use high-temperature Pam-- say, you a charcoal guy or a gas guy?” To get a sense of the disconnect, watch the film Arlington Road.  Lousy plot, but great portrayals of far-right wingnuts who sound like ordinary home-improvement guys.  Pay special attention to the barbecue scene.

But even though Cheney is tonally unflappable-- he won’t whine or bluster, like Dubya-- he can be angered, and when he’s angry he can get really go-fuck-yourself ugly.  He doesn’t like being criticized any more than Dubya does, and if anything he’s even more arrogant than Dubya when the little people question his supreme judgment (hence the “you don’t understand” bit).  Remember, this guy’s got a great deal to be brittle and defensive about, and it’s your job to keep him on the defensive.  If you start joking with him about how much money he’s made in the private sector, you’re toast.

Where to start?  Well, you could start with page 247 of Seymour Hersh’s Chain of Command:  The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.  It’s the end of chapter five, on the intelligence-cooking operations that led to all those empty claims about Iraqi WMD and have now cost so many lives and so much US credibility:

Vice President Cheney remained unabashed about the Administration’s reliance on the Niger documents, despite the revelation of their forgery.  In a September 2003 interview on Meet the Press, Cheney claimed that the British dossier’s charge that “Saddam was, in fact, trying to acquire uranium in Africa” had been “revalidated.” Cheney went on:  “So there may be a difference of opinion there.  I don’t know what the truth is on the ground. . . .  I don’t know Mr. Wilson.  I probably shouldn’t judge him.”

The Vice President also defended the way in which he had involved himself in intelligence matters:  “This is a very important area.  It’s one that the President has asked me to work on. . . .  In terms of asking questions, I plead guilty.  I ask a hell of a lot of questions.  That’s my job.”

Now, that’s Cheney talking about a shadow intelligence outfit (the Office of Special Plans) that was set up post-9/11 to ask “questions” like, “can you tie this to Saddam,” “why aren’t you doing a better job of tying this to Saddam,” and “will you just make up some shit so that we can tie this to Saddam.” And look at the deft shrug with which that smooth Cheney guy deflects questions about the Valerie Plame affair-- hey, I don’t know Wilson, shouldn’t judge him, wouldja mind passing me that plate of burgers?

Senator Edwards, you could spend a good deal of time tonight talking about how much damage this barking loon has done to the intelligence services that should be our first line of defense against Al-Qaeda.  And then you could follow up by asking him-- in that principled and persistent way that won you that public service award from ATLA-- how the hell he thinks he can get away with claiming that a Kerry/Edwards win would leave us more vulnerable to terrorist attack.  You can’t say “have you no shame"-- it’s been done to death lately-- but you might ask, “don’t you have any idea how badly you’ve hurt our side in the war on terror?”

That should piss him off.  Big time.

So, good luck tonight.

Posted by Michael on 10/05 at 07:29 AM
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Monday, October 04, 2004

Debate alert




Crawford, TX—The Bush campaign today released a set of guidelines and demands for the October 8 “town hall” Presidental debate at Washington University in St. Louis.

“What we learned in the first debate is that height matters,” said one campaign adviser.  “Even with the help of our photoshoppers over at our android ‘news’ station, we couldn’t manage to make Bush look as tall as Kerry.  And he kept slouching, too!  Barbara’s going to have to talk to him about that.  In the meantime, we’re demanding that Kerry remain seated on a kindergarten chair at all times during Friday’s debate.  It’s not undignified-- after all, the President has spent a great deal of time sitting in kindergarten chairs himself.  But it will take the edge off.”

Citing “blog” news analysts who have complained that the first debate, moderated by what one source called “a flaming liberal reporter from the Pervasive Bias System,” focused too much on President Bush’s record in office, a Bush spokesperson noted that second debate moderator Charles Gibson will be required to ask three times more questions about Kerry’s record as President than about Bush’s.  “Just because Bush has been in office all this time doesn’t mean people should ask questions about him, unless the people and the questions have been vetted by Karl Rove first,” said the official.  “Besides, we don’t think the election should be about the incumbent.  We think the American people deserve to know whether a Kerry presidency will be one of those orange-face, floral-pants, mixed-message, France-in-1940 affairs that will let the world drift toward tragedy.  We demand that Jean-Claude Kerry respond to the hypothetical future scenarios we have made up for him, so that the American people can decide this election in a fair and balanced way rather than obsessing over the micro details of the last four years.”

But most of all, Bush campaign staffers insist, the liberal media need to stop focusing on President Bush’s appearance.  “We never made a big deal out of the Gore reaction shots,” said one aide.  “Besides, there weren’t supposed to be any reaction shots.  We thought we made that pretty clear.  But instead, what’s clear is that we can’t trust the Axis of Weasels in the Killian-memo-flogging mainstream media when it comes to a simple agreement.  So for the second debate, there will be no reaction shots of the President, because the President himself will not be visible during the debate.”

Independent sources at Washington University confirm this report, pointing out that an enormous green curtain has been erected on President Bush’s portion of the stage.  “We’re still working on the reverb and the dry-ice thing,” said one university official.  “But when it’s all complete, it should be pretty impressive, we think.  We just hope no one in our audience arouses the wrath of the great and powerful President.  That could get ugly.”

Posted by Michael on 10/04 at 04:01 AM
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Sunday, October 03, 2004

Hey hey, my my

Despite all the apparent damage done to blogdom over the past week-- in certain quarters that shall not be named-- I’d just like to remind you all that blogging can never die.  Partly that’s because there are still hundreds of words to which “blog” has not yet been attached as a prefix:  sure, there’s blogrolling, blogtopia, blogosphere, blogorama, blogemeinschaft, and now “bloggicane” (as in, “look out CBS, we will rock you like a bloggicane"), but where are the analyses of blographia, bloglossolalia, and blogastroenteritis, not to speak of the long-overdue deconstruction of the phalloblogocentrism of the Western metaphysical tradition?

But more importantly, blogging can never die unless the blogeist, through a process of dialectical self-overcoming, achieves a self-awareness that simultaneously unfolds as a consciousness of the movements of blogeschichte, which in turn reveal themselves as the condition for that very consciousness, in which we . . . uh . . . write things like this. . . .

Oh dammit, now I’ve ruined it for everybody.  Sorry about that.  Well, it was nice while it lasted.

I’ll be back tomorrow with an appropriately post-blogospheric item from the Bush campaign.

Posted by Michael on 10/03 at 06:12 AM
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Saturday, October 02, 2004

If elected I will not serve

My sources inform me that I have been nominated in Rox Populi’s “Best Political Bloggers Contest,” (officially known as the “I Call Bullshit and Offer My Own Best Political Bloggers Contest") under the heading “Best Political Blogs Most of Blogdom Hasn’t Heard Of.” I am honored to have been chosen to be among the . . . .

But wait-- if you’re here, you’ve already heard of this blog!  Gaaaaaaah, another insolvable conundrum!  Even worse than the hallucination-inducing phenomenon of watching Bush go after Kerry for alienating our allies!  Will it never stop?!?

Anyway, the other nominees in my category are Sensory Overload, Alternative Hippopotamus, Feministe, and Neal Pollock.  I’d never heard of Sensory Overload before, so the category obviously serves as a form of pedagogy all by itself.  So go vote for someone other than me.

Posted by Michael on 10/02 at 09:02 AM
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Friday, October 01, 2004

Stats and prizes

Old blog record for visits-in-one-month:  44,522
New record:  89,627

Thanks to everyone who stopped by in September-- and brought a friend!  Of course, just 373 more visitors would’ve put me over 90,000, but who’s counting?

Now for the prizes.  Well, just one fake prize-- if you want me to start awarding real prizes, I’m going to have to take blog ads, and before you know it, I’ll just be another corporate shill.  So, then, here we go.  Though the competition was intense, Hugh Hewitt broke away from the pack at the last second to win September’s “I Am the Back End of a Horse” Award with a Sept 30 Weekly Standard essay in which he threatened an “enormous blowback” if the liberal media don’t focus on how orange John Kerry’s face is.  Hewitt opens by noting that brave, intrepid right-wing blogs broke this critical story, but

the morning papers-- except the New York Post-- said not a word. The Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun-Times, and other old media found space to cover the decision of the Crawford, Texas’ Lone Star Iconoclast-- circulation 425-- to endorse John Kerry, but refused to acknowledge a genuine, though bizarre, story that is actually having an impact on the race-- because they collectively don’t think it should be having an impact on the race.

Yep, you heard that right.  The liberal media paid attention when Bush’s hometown paper delivered a long, detailed endorsement of Kerry, but were strangely, suspiciously silent about the color of Kerry’s face!  I demand an investigation!!  Send those left-wing Sun-Times editors to Gitmo!!

It’s very sad and a little bit scary, but this really is what the wingnuts are reduced to.  They’ve lined up behind the most incompetent U.S. President since Garfield lapsed into that coma, they’ve spent four years comparing him to Churchill, Henry V, and Jesus Christ, and now they’re demanding that media coverage of the 2004 election concentrate on the challenger’s appearance-- or else they’ll take down Jim Lehrer just like they did Dan Rather!

For wingnuttery beyond the call of duty and beyond the reach of parody, Hugh Hewitt is September’s Back End of a Horse.  Remember, all prizes must be claimed in person!  And be sure to watch for possible nominees in October!

Posted by Michael on 10/01 at 07:08 AM
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