Write me:
skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com

Friday, 06 January
Shove Off

Abramoff Abandoned On Ice Floe

BAFFIN ISLAND, CANADA--Beleagured and disgraced political lobbyist Jack Abramoff was forced at gunpoint today by armed GOP officials to enter onto a loose ice floe in northern Canada. The ice floe was then kicked free by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) over the agonized screams of Mr. Abramoff as he drifted into the icy Arctic waters of Baffin Bay. "Have a good trip, you son of a bitch," Sen. Stevens was heard to say as Abramoff gabbled manically around the floating ice shelf. "You can rub noses with God when you see him."

Stevens then gave a brief press conference where he explained that the GOP's unexpected action in the Abramoff case was inspired by the indigenous "Renuzit" people of the region. Reporters who attempted to correct Mr. Stevens by suggesting that it was actually an Inuit tradition were angrily shouted down with hideous imprecations and vague threats against their families. Crossbow attacks were mentioned more than once by Mr. Stevens, who unnerved many in the crowd by drawing a bead on certain reporters in attendance with his fingers and making "FFFT! FFFFT! AAAAH, TED STEVENS SHOT ME WITH A CROSSBOW!" noises.

Prominent Republican figures have been distancing themselves from Abramoff ever since the scandal broke over the disgraced lobbyist's financial shenanigans. President George W. Bush donated an allegedly Abramoff-related sum of money to charity after the story broke, saying, "To be honest, we didn't know this money was tainted. We believed at the time that it was legitimate profit from baby meat." And Senate majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), when interviewed in a cooling pool of urine, commented, "It's disgraceful what happened here. Just disgraceful. I can only hope the American people see this for what it is: a rogue lobbyist acting in a manner that was really difficult to help but admire, and, subsequently, take advantage of. However, I have faith that the American public will see these actions for what they are--cheap Democratic theatrics designed to ensure that I share a cell with someone named Thick Dick Rick." Mr. DeLay added tearily, "Please don't make me share his cell. He's going to fuck me right into the wall."

Nothing is certain in Washington now with these developments, except perhaps for the lingering death that awaits Mr. Abramoff. As hypothermia sets in--almost immediately, according to health experts--he is likely to lose consciousness and then be eaten by hungry polar bears.

Coca-Cola is reportedly in contact with Abramoff's family about future Christmas-themed ads where Mr. Abramoff is eaten by the corporation's familiar polar bear icons for next Christmas season. "We think [the eating-of-Abramoff ads] could be big," said one Coke executive who preferred to remain unnamed. "Who doesn't want to see partially frozen lobbyists devoured by angry bears?"

"The only problem is finding the guy's corpse," continued the Coke executive. "The Arctic Sea is kind of big. Maybe if we stuck a GPS up his ass. Is he already gone?"

Additional reporting for this story was provided by S. Claus, D. Halberstam and H. Mandel.

Monday, 19 September
Bush Announces Radical New Education Plan

WASHINGTON DC--Speaking from the White House lawn on Monday, President Bush sought to capitalize on the political capital he had previously gained from his much-lauded "No Child Left Behind Act," a bold initiative which was widely met with the profound enragement and staggering hair loss of teachers and education professionals nationwide.

"As you all know," said the President to the press, "I have long believed that no child should be left behind. And I still believe that. But America must do better for its children. Nobody must be allowed to slip through the gaping cracks in the tarmac--tarmac? Is that a word? Sounds like a cheeseburger! Gimme a tar-mac! Heh.--uh, tarmac of our educational system. And there are still children being left behind. Heh. 'Behind.' That's funny."

"And that is why today I am proposing a new initiative: the No Children of the Corn Left Behind Act." The President paused for a moment as the crowd gaped unbelievingly at this statement. Bush, apparently sensing the confusion, assured the crowd, "No, no shit, folks." The press, reassured by the now-familiar profanity from the White House staff, chuckled a bit.

"We've done good by little Davey and young Chuck," continued the President. "But what have we done for little Malachai? What can we do for Isaac Chroner? I say we can do more."

"This is America," the President continued, "and I surely think that there are a lot of adults that can stand to be killed. Entire towns. And folks, I can't do that job myself. We need the children of America, and they need us. Who is going to mercilessly slaughter Linda Hamilton, if not our children? Lord knows I've tried." The line drew appreciative laughter. "And who will kill Peter Horton?" At this point, several hands were raised in the crowd.

When asked who would oversee this new program, Bush replied, "Well, I think that He Who Walks Behind the Rows has been doing a bang-up job so far. He's a man, er, or something, of faith, and I can get behind that. The children really look up to him. And I mean that, because he's like seven fuckin' feet tall."

"I really believe that this Row fella can bring it. Believe me, he can get these kids to really bring him the blood of the outlanders. And believe you me, this little Malachai fellow isn't anything to piss on either. He's got one heck of a future with this group; he can kill us oldsters just as quick as a laundry mangler, that one. Given enough support, I really do believe that one day, a child shall lead them."

Thursday, 04 November

So, that happened.

It won't be surprising to learn that, being an actor, I hang out with artsy folks. Nor should it be surprising to learn that, as artsy folks, they are all incredibly bummed out about the election results. I went to a birthday party tonight, but it was more like a dirge festival. Everyone feels fucked, burnt and betrayed in my circle of pals.

Me, I took the day off on Wednesday, mainly because I wanted to drink heavily on Tuesday night, no matter what. And I did. After the results came in, I told the wife, "You know, I don't think I'm going to stop drinking now, ever." She expressed her displeasure at this idea, to which I responded by making a drink. We're all going to have to live through the next four years one way or the other, and I figure that I'm not going to make it unless I drink heavily, constantly. The wife may disapprove, but then again, I'll be drinking.

The nation has spoken--perhaps we should drink more--and there's nothing to be done. And that's actually fine. As I've told some friends already, I'm not even necessarily bummed that Kerry lost (though I am a bit), mainly because the next four years are going to be such a gruesome catastrophe, such a numbing fuckaround, such a witless bunch of fucking horrors, and I'm A-OK with letting the GOP take the fall for it. Don't get me wrong: I don't want our country to devolve into the laughless joke it seems to be shooting for. It just will no matter what I think.

Ah, lord . . . it's easy to bring out the invective and the outrage. It's too easy, particularly when one feels righteous. But everyone feels righteous, otherwise nothing would ever get done. Hell, I lived through two Reagan terms and another term from a different Bush and lived, and those horrific bastards made me jellykneed practically daily. (There's that easy invective again.) I'll come through this OK.

I've deleted five different endings to this. There are no good endings one way or another. Hell, I probably hate you. Or you might hate me. It seems likely.

Can I buy you a drink?

Tuesday, 02 November
Making A Difference

As diligent readers of this site well know, I'm nothing if not a fucking stickler for hard reportage. With this in mind, I went out this evening for some choice "man on the street" quotes from people just like you . . . that is, crazy, frothing voters. Some of whom may actually vote.

Skot: Here we are out on First Avenue in Seattle, taking down some of what people are thinking on the eve of the election. Sir, may I trouble you for a moment of your time?


Skot: Hey, this one can't wait! Sir, may I ask who is getting your support tomorrow?


Skot: I see.


Skot: So that's a vote for Mr. Kerry.


Skot: Things are lively down here on the street, folks! I'm moving now over to another fellow . . . sir? Sir, if you have a minute, I'd love to hear about how you plan on voting tomorrow.

Firmly Decided Voter: Well, I have to confess . . . I'm still kind of on the fence. I'm not sure who I like at this point.


FDV: But I'm leaning towards Benzene Ring.

Skot: I'm sorry?

FDV: Benzene Ring. It's really a very elegant chemical structure. That Kekule fella sure knew his shit.

Skot: Sir, you can't say "shit" on TV.

FDV: Oh, are we on TV?

Skot: God, no. I'm just saying. We're on the internet.

FDV: The internet? Christ hell, man, then I can do whatever I want! Let me show you my dinger! It looks like driftwood, only pink! Well, mostly pink.

(A brief, unpleasant scuffle ensues.)

Skot: Okay, back to business. Hello, miss? Would you mind sharing your thoughts on tomorrow's election?

Thoughtful Voter: Well, I hope those cocksuckers all die in fire.

Skot: Ah . . . and you are referring to . . . ?

TV: That guy. With the tumor on top of his neck.

Skot: Nader?

TV: That's the one.

Skot: He's not even on most ballots.

TV: Really? Oh, Lord, that's a relief.

Skot: So, knowing that, who do you plan on voting for now?

TV: Oh, I don't vote. I think our babysitter does. I'll ask her.

Skot: Thank you. We've got time for one more. Ma'am?

Sensible Voter: Yes, sir?

Skot: May I ask you who you plan on casting your ballot for tomorrow? It's for a stupid website.

SV: I'm proud to say that I'll be voting for Eric Stoltz and Digable Planets tomorrow. This country needs change, and I'll be fucked right in my angry asshole if you can't tell me that Stoltz and DP aren't change.

Skot: You, ma'am, are the finest patriot this country has ever seen.

SV: I know that, you fuckin' little weirdo. Jesus, you're a creepy man. Get out of my way. I'm buying arugula here.

Tape ends here. Don't forget to vote.

Wednesday, 06 October
Teeth Vs. Hair

I don't know if I'm starting a tradition here--or even if I want to--but once again I am going to provide coverage of our election debates, heroically, even though yet again I did not watch tonight's, opting instead to nap briefly and then watch the hated Yankees fall to the Twins. And is there anything more American than rooting against the Yankees? I don't think so. (Yankees fans: I don't mean anything by this, you know that. Other than to suggest that you are all dreadful monsters.) So here again are some excerpts from the debate that I simply just made up.

Moderator (whoever it was): I now present the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, Joe Edwards.

Edwards: John.

Moderator: Joe Edwards, everyone! Mr. Vice President, you may begin.

Cheney: (He stares balefully at Edwards. An uncomfortable silence grows.)

Moderator: Mr. Vice President?

Cheney: Who the fuck is the hamster?

Edwards: Hey!

Cheney: I've never seen this area rug in my life. Security!

(Armed guards swarm the stage and bludgeon Edwards with truncheons. After much tumult, order is restored, and the candidates finally retake their podiums.)

Cheney: My apologies to the hamster for his brutal beating.

Edwards: Id's do pobblem.


Edwards: So I have to wonder, given the current administration's total mishandling of the intel leading up to the Iraq situation: where does the buck stop?

Moderator: Mr. Cheney, your rebuttal.


Edwards: (Rifling through notes) These weren't in the talking points . . .

Moderator: Mr. Vice President?

Cheney: My apologies. My pacemaker is tetchy. Sometimes I get alien transmissions.


Cheney: I see your point, Mr. Edwards, but if I may rebut . . . (Cheney suddenly juts out his entire lower jaw like a cash register drawer, exposing many dull, gray teeth.)

Edwards: (He emits a piercing cry and bursts into tears.)

Cheney: America, I hope you're watching this. Let me tell you: my father, God rest his soul, used to pull the goddam skin right off his skull to teach us kids some goddam discipline. And here Mr. Hamster is bawling like a baby over some goddam teeth. If he had any gumption at all, he'd rise up like a man and hack me into bait with a garden hoe just like I did my no-skin daddy, but no, he's gotta have a good cry. I think that says something.

Edwards: (Weakly) . . . please . . . see a dentist . . .


Cheney: In closing, my opponent's arguments have been so laughable and, dare I say, fruity, that I am comfortable sitting down and eating these Chicken Nibblers during his closing arguments. Thank you.

Moderator: Mr. Edwards?

Edwards: (He begins talking about tort reform; the audience stares wistfully at Cheney's Chicken Nibblers. Suddenly, Cheney clutches his chest and moans horribly.)

Cheney: My! Heart!

Moderator: Call 911!

Edwards: (Cheerfully) I'm sure Mr. Cheney would hate for valuable tax dollars to be wasted on emergency response when he is well covered. I'll send a fax to his HMO. I'm sure they'll get a hold of his primary care physician vacationing in the Yucatan.

Moderator: (Thrusting a microphone into Cheney's purpling face) Mr. Vice President! Mr. Vice President!

Cheney: (Weakly) . . . go . . . Yankees . . .

Friday, 01 October
Speak, Muse

As everyone is numbingly aware of by now, the first 2004 Presidential debate took place on this momentous evening. And the wife and I did our part: we faithfully did not watch it, and instead chose to drink Manhattans with a visiting friend.

So I did not see it (though I did see the Daily Show's "coverage" of it, and just need to ask--who gave the Crazy Pills to Giuliani? His report from Galaxy Eyes-A-Poppin' was really . . . weird.), so as I often do in these situations, I just made some crap up.

Lehrer: Senator, how do you respond to charges from the right that your Viet Nam medals were wholly undeserved, and that you wipe your ass with the flag of America?

Kerry: Sir, I wash those flags. Well, Rosa washes them. But those are clean flags.


Lehrer: Mr. President, you've maintained that the war in Iraq was justified for reasons having to do with--

Bush: [makes human beatbox noises while inexpertly poppin' and lockin']

Lehrer: Mr. President?

Bush: Shut up a second. I'm courtin' black votes as we speak.

Lehrer: This is not what--

Bush: [blinks eyes rapidly] Goddamn if that Grandmaster Flash doesn't give me the fuckin' twirls! I gotta play this for Dick. He'll shit his livin' heart!

[Kerry looks despondent for a moment, and then attempts to flash a Crip sign, but hurts his back. As he writhes for a moment, Bush mouths the word "fag" to the camera while pointing at the incapacitated Kerry.]


Lehrer: Gentlemen, I ask both of you: tits? Or ass? Senator?

Kerry: Mr. Moderator, I thank you for the opportunity to speak out on this question. America, since its infancy, has long had a dichotomy involving the elements of your query, and after much thought . . .

Bush: Tits.

Kerry: [sotto voce] Damn. There goes Michigan.


Lehrer: Finally, gentlemen, could we have your final statements?

Bush: I'm a scion of one of America's most fabulously corrupt families. If you don't vote for me, we'll track your ass down and stick funny needles in you until you piss fear. Don't fuck with me. Thank you, and God bless America.

Kerry: I married some lunatic Portuguese ketchup broad, which, honestly, still cracks me up. But to get the the heart of the matter, here is what counts:

[Kerry abrupbtly moves from behind his podium and casually unzips his pants to reveal an astounding set of testicles, which resemble two golf balls contained in a loose sack of dull, gray fur.]

Bush: [Off camera] Hey, no fair!


Friday, 03 September
Here There Be Unsubtlety

[The wife, who is the head of teaching at a local preschool, recently had a chance to acquaint herself with a new hire: staunch Democrat Senator Zell Miller! Senator Miller spent the day meeting the children and making sure they didn't kill each other unless, of course, it was good for America. I took the opportunity to take a day off from not curing cancer to be a fly on the wall for his first day. Here's my transcription of the events that day.]

Wife: Kids, I'd like you to meet Senator Zell Miller. He's going to be teaching you today. Can you say hello to the Senator?


Miller: Hi kids! I'm sure looking forward to spending time with you today! I brought you some buttons to wear. Do you boys like buttons?

Girl: I like buttons.

Miller: I was asking the boys. Nobody likes pushy lesbians, dear.

Wife: Senator . . .

Miller: AH HA HA HA! A small joke, dear! My apologies. I'll be on the straight and narrow today, don't worry. (The wife exits after a suspicious look. Once she's gone:) Just kidding, children. Nobody likes lesbians at all.

Boy: What's a lesbian?

Miller: Son, I'm glad you asked. Have you ever seen a Godzilla movie?

Boy: Yeah!

Miller: Then you've seen a lesbian. Horrible, scaly monsters, they are.

Girl: (Confused) Are the Japanese people lesbians?

Miller: Probably. Anyway, let's get down to brass tacks! What's going on here?

Boy: I have to go to the bathroom.

Miller: Son, I like your initiative. You haul ass to the bathroom.

Boy: There's someone in there, though. (He clutches his groin dramatically.)

Miller: (Sternly) Nothing makes this Marine madder than an occupied bathroom. (His jaw sets defiantly; it may be lockjaw.) We are going to liberate that fucking bathroom.

Girl: (Squealing) That's a bad word!

Miller: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, young lady. And we are going to liberate the shit out of that bathroom! Our boy's gotta squat!

(Miller kicks down the door to the bathroom with a mighty blow. There is a five-year-old child inside perched uncertainly on the toilet.)


(Miller flings the screaming child through the bathroom window. Shattered glass explodes outward, and the wailing becomes slightly fainter, replaced by agonized groans. Miller plants a flag into the toilet bowl and adopts an Iwo Jima stance.)

Miller: Fuck you, Jim Carrey.

Boy: Do you mean John Kerry?

Miller: I don't even know any more.

(The Wife enters, terrified.)

Wife: Senator Miller! You have to do something! We're being attacked! By Mothra! It's eaten three children! (Pause.) Fortunately, they were really irritating children.

Miller: My work is never done. Aides! Prepare the catapult!

Wife: What will you use for ammo?

Miller: We have plenty of children. Many of them are quite heavy.

Wife: That's horrible! What on earth are you going to tell their parents?

Miller: They can always make some more Democrats. They'll be able to vote in a mere eighteen years.

God bless America.

[End transcript.]

Thursday, 11 September
We Have Liftoff

Thanks to the enigmatic campaign manager: Stoltz in '04 material.

Tuesday, 09 September
An Important Political Announcement

Editor's note: As many of IzzlePfaff's tens of readers know, IP has generally shied away from endorsing political causes. This steely nonpartisanship has, of course, been largely due to the author's vast ignorance of the political arena, combined with a kind of supernatural laziness. But no longer. I have taken a typically half-assed look at the upcoming contenders in the 2004 election, and in my estimation: they all blow. Again. The ridiculous, mendacious marionette jerking around in the Oval Office certainly isn't worth even considering, and a quick view at the moralizing, lifeless pickleheads on the left aren't much better. So I decided to strike out and find my own candidate, and inform them that I wanted them to run for the Presidency. My criteria were simple but subtle: 1. I needed someone who is so inoffensive and unnoticable that they won't bother me; and 2. I also needed someone, who even when they did bother me, I was still able to almost instantly forget about them. This is my motto for a new America: Just Leave Us Alone. It wasn't as easy as it sounds, but after a little nap, I had my candidate. He's someone reasonably well-known and marginally respected, but most importantly, I am able to forget about his existence pretty much without trying at all. I'm very excited about not thinking about anything political for four whole years, and I hope you will be too. I'd like to introduce him today, as he has agreed to be my--no, our candidate. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to announce the beginning of the campaign for ERIC STOLTZ IN '04!

IzzlePfaff: Hello, Eric. Thanks for joining us.

Eric Stoltz: Hi, Skot.

IP: Please, call me Izzle.

ES: Come on.

IP: Please?

ES: Jesus, do you want to win this thing or not?

IP: All right, forget it. Eric, I'm sure America will be surprised to learn about your sudden candicacy for the office of President. Can you give everyone some reasons why you're entering the race?

ES: Well . . . because you called me? And asked? I guess that's the main reason. And don't forget, you're taking me out to Tony Roma's later.

IP: Yeah.

ES: And, uh . . . well, I guess I really feel pretty strongly about . . . you know . . . the stuff. (Pause.) That WTO stuff was wicked cool, man, I saw that on TV.

IP: So you oppose the WTO? That's a pretty bold statement.

ES: Well, I liked "Takin' Care of Business," but not much else.

IP: I see. Do you feel that your career in show business is an advantage to your campaign?

ES: I really do. Playing the stoic, conflicted lead in Some Kind of Wonderful taught me valuable lessons about the difficulty of making tough choices. And my recurring role on "Mad About You" has given me the necessary skills needed for simply being around odious people, be they congressmen or Paul Reiser.

IP: That's very impressive. May I just say that Mask taught me how to love again?

ES: Oh, that's great. What was your favorite part?

IP: I'd have to say the whole "not seeing it at all" part. It was on TV one night in college, but I ended up having drunk sex with a cute actress instead. It'd been three months, man.

ES: Ah . . . ah. (He lights a cigarette.)

IP: Excuse me, is that black tar heroin you're smoking?

ES: What? No! It's an ordinary cigarette.

IP: Because the public is not going to gladly accept a President with a heroin problem, least of all one who is seriously considering gender reassignment.

ES: What the fuck are you talking about?

IP: It's been reported on extensively in the press.

ES: Where? What is this?

IP: I'm quoting from the October 16th edition of the Weekly World News, published in 1994. I've highlighted the article here. The headline reads "HEROIN ADDLED HOLLYWOOD ALTERNA-HUNK TO HAVE SEX CHANGE."

ES: What the hell is wrong with you? The Weekly World News? Everyone knows it's all bullshit. I thought you were trying to help me here!

IP: It's buzz, Eric, buzz. Every candidate needs it.

ES: Jesus Christ.

IP: Eric, have you given any thought to a running mate?

ES: I have, actually. As a little surprise, I've brought them here to talk as well.

IP: Them?

ES: Yes. As my platform consists almost entirely on being wholly forgettable, I tried to keep that in mind when selecting my running mate. I'm happy to introduce Digable Planets.

IP: Digable Planets! The band who swept a nation away in the early nineties with "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)," and were then immediately discarded and forgotten about! Welcome! How does it feel joining the race for the White House?

Digable Planets: We--

IP: Eric, in closing, I'd like to thank you for being here today. I and all of I here at IzzlePfaff are really looking forward to an exciting campaign and a successful bid for the Presidency.

ES: Thank you for having me. Vote Stoltz in '04.

(Eric exits. Pause.)

IP: God. Who the hell was that again?

Wednesday, 09 April
I Might As Well Say Up Front That This Is An Angry Rant

I'm just so pissed off I can't stand it.

Slate has a piece out today by Christopher Hitchens that's a real peach called "Giving Peace A Chance" that I had the massive misfortune (or overriding idiocy) to read. It's a real bummer, actually, because I used to like Hitchens, particularly his crit stuff; but since he's started beating the war drum, he's become intolerable, churning out hectoring poison pen letters to the anti-war faction, calling anyone not hopping in line to pave Iraq a bunch of fucking gumboheads either too stupid or too cowardly to toe the line. I appreciate that there are many points of view in this world, but malicious bullshit like this is really not the way to win people over to one's side, not that he fucking cares, I don't suspect. I think he just wants to score points.

Case in point with this piece of tripe. Hitchens has a good time in the first paragraph taking bits of typical leftie sloganeering and then turning them inside out to make his overall point that rah rah! it looks like we're winning the war. Let me repeat that: he spends his time making fun of the slogans. Yes, Mr. Hitchens, it is dumb and disingenuously reductive to scream "No blood for oil." What's your point? Just because it's dumb doesn't automatically make your arguments right. Never mind. Even if people think that it's a fun thing to say, what Hitchens says is worse: " 'No Blood for Oil,' they cried, and the oil wealth of Iraq has been duly rescued from attempted sabotage with scarcely a drop spilled."

Ha. Ha. Ha. To be honest, I can't tell if he's seriously claiming that not a lot of blood has been spilled, which would be incredible, or if he's turning it on his ear to make a funny--"we rescued all the oil, don't worry!"--which is kind of a reprehensible joke to be making in light of the corpses lying around.

He goes on for a little while longer taking easy potshots at the predictions that did or didn't come true, as if hindsight were a talent unique to himself, while conveniently omitting any number of stupid-ass things that the pro-war faction claimed in the prelude to the invasion; or would he have it that nobody on the right ever said anything stupid or less than oracular prior to the war? But to stress again, he's not really interested in making any cogent points with this piss-dribbling; he's just being a prick.

And the end is worth discussing, as he heroically takes on another leftie rallying cry, "Not in my name." It's worth quoting in full:

But these are mere quibbles. We should celebrate our common ground as well as the gorgeous mosaic of our diversity. The next mass mobilization called by International ANSWER and the stop-the-war coalition is only a few days away. I already have my calendar ringed for the date. This time, I am really going to be there. It is not a time to keep silent. Let our voices be heard. All of this has been done in my name, and I feel like bearing witness.

No smarm here. Can't you just take a bath in the radiant goodwill he exudes here? Don't you just want to buy him a new puppy? Really, the only good response here is "fuck you." Yes, it has all been done just for you, Mr. Hitchens, the whole goddamn thing. They are still doing it just for you, and we as a nation think it's important that you take your victory lap, because that's what's crucial: not that you were necessarily right or correct in your beliefs (and maybe you were, I don't know everything), but that everyone appreciates that you certainly think you were. What an achievement of self-satisfaction! And to top it all off, you got to spend a little free time pointlessly belittling your opponents. Take a bow, it's been quite a performance.

Wednesday, 05 March
Think In Prose, Hear The Music, Shit My Pants

As my nineteen regular readers have probably figured out by now, I don't do a lot of writing about politics. There's a good reason for this: I'm not very politically inclined. I mean, I'm your average mook, on the lefty side of things, I have a general grasp of most issues, but beyond that, meh. Besides, the current political tenor in this country mostly inspires in me a deep, screaming terror that makes me want gulp down vast quantities of Xanax and watch porn flicks all day in a kind of narcotized whackathon of sheerest denial. However, it's really hard to get paid to do that sort of thing, unless you are Marlon Brando.

But the other day, I read--well, scanned . . . well . . . flung to the ground--an article in The Atlantic Monthly that purported to be an examination into the mind of George W. Bush. It is deeply stupid and makes virtually no bones about its own rah-rah bias towards our President; it is, in fact, such a naked, ass-up, lube-at-the-ready valentine that one wonders why at the end the author doesn't beseech the administration for at least a courteous reach-around. This from the same magazine that published a po-faced article a while back similarly purporting to be an examination of the mind, habits, and fuck, I don't know, bathroom fixture preferences of Saddam Hussein. It was similarly filled with portentous and utterly unverifiable claims as to what Saddam thinks and does and what he likes to eat and the various deep thoughts he deep thinks during the day; in other words: bullshit. The author could have claimed that Saddam enjoys wearing rubber boots and pounding finches to death with golden hammers while listening to Blondie; who's going to argue? You?

Anyway. The article pissed me off (but it does have some great howlers in it, like this early on: "[Bush's] two most obvious personal traits are humor and seriousness." They are? And who doesn't possess these obvious traits? Okay, Marlon Brando again, you got me). So I figured I'd take another look at it. And just so we're clear, I repeat: I have no intention of being fair, nuanced, judicious, rational, or thorough. It's just not my style. In fact, just for fun, I'm going to pack it full of malicious lies. See if you can spot them!

It starts off with some of the usual introductory hoo-ha about where Bush started out, and how he fumbled his way into the presidency: Harvard Business School, governor of Texas, etc., and some discreet obligatory mentions about his hard-drinking days and subsequent Jesus-locating. That's cool. I don't have any problem with the J-folk. It is fun to learn that (as an example of his crazy humor) that Bush teases Condi Rice by calling her a "mother hen;" it's even better when he quotes former head of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed as saying, "I'd fuck dead goats for that man." Reed, who knew Bush during the taxing Texas Rangers years, was also apparently struck by how "focused" and "disciplined" Bush was as governor. So it's kind of unfortunate to read the next sentence: "The governorship of Texas, however, scarcely allows those to hold it to get much done otherwise." Well, if you're going to be focused and disciplined, you might as well be doing nothing at all.

Then the author (Richard Brookhiser, senior editor at National Review) gets down to brass tacks and enumerates the "traits he has shown and the factors he pays attention to" since assuming office. They are:

"Thriftiness with time." Uh, does he even have a choice? He's President! I'm not really that grooved out that he manages to make his meetings run "briskly," as if other administrations took time out of difficult policy sessions to unwind over a relaxing game of Uno. Let's talk Clinton when it comes for thriftiness with time. "Hey, lover, you want to go into a broom closet? I think I know where Harding's is." "No time! Blow me right here! And no slurping! I'm on a call!"

"The team." Well, this isn't exactly a trait or anything, but whatever. Brookhiser spends a little ink lauding the staff for their closed-mouthedness, which I of course uncharitably prefer to think of as "stark terror." Would you be inclined to shoot off your mouth with people like Torquemada Donald Rumsfeld creeping around, ready to set fire to your children's feet if he didn't like something you said? Or Dick Cheney, who in stressful times is given to pulling his incredible heart right out of his chest and holding it in his hand, while fixing his poor victim with a steely gaze and intoning "I keep this beating by pure force of will. You are an insignificant stack of worthless paste." Or, worst of all, Bush could always sit you down in a closed room with Ari Fleischer and make you listen to him, a Boschian nightmare too outre and frightening to contemplate for any amount of time.

"Q&L." That is, "Questioning and Listening." Notably missing in that set of activities is "Comprehending," but it's nice to listen to people. Brookhiser then goes on to cite this uncanny ability to listen to other people in the context of the stem-cell research debate, a topic that I had better not get too wrapped up in, or I'll just fucking burst into flames, so I'll just note that Bush effectively shut down government funding of the research, citing the J-Man and His Pop (a sort of divine Q&L). Here's Brookhiser's flinty-eyed assessment of the performance: "Another President might have ducked the problem by following the emerging consensus of the country, or of his own base. Bush handled it like a manager--staffing it out and then making his own decision." I'm entering this usage into my own lexicon. "Say, you really handled that like a manager." "What?" "I don't know."

" 'Instinct.' " This one is fucking great. "Almost everyone calls Bush an instinctive decision-maker, including Bush himself." Oh? Who, exactly? Four paragraphs later, you discover that "almost everyone" is, in fact, Newt Gingrich, an assessment that Newt would probably enthusiastically endorse. Newt cracked me up here, though, I must admit, because he really delivers the straight lines: "[Bush] hs a very wide repertoire of experiences [like snorting cocaine off the backs of strippers]." And in new situations or encounters, sez Newt, "he cues off things he probably doesn't even remember." You know, I've done this; I recall the sensation as "Oh, God, What Did I Do Last Night?" And then I cued myself off of things I didn't even remember, like where am I and who is this in bed with me?

"Providence." This one is puzzling. During one of the 2000 debates, some of the Republican candidates were asked to pick an important political philosopher from whom each person got his particular swerve on. Steve "Glint O' Crazy" Forbes named John Locke. Bush was next, and he mysteriously said "Sondra Locke," and then praised her performance in Bronco Billy as "fucking hot." The networks confusedly cut to a commercial, except for FOX, which instead simply showed some footage of Sondra Locke spare-changing on Sepulveda Boulevard.

"Follow-through." Brookhiser uses the example Bush's withdrawal from the ABM treaty to bolster his argument, I guess, that Bush . . . follows through . . . on things. It's really tedious, as are any assortment of words that contain the name "Paul Wolfowitz." When I can't sleep at night, I usually count Paul Wolfowitzes leaping over meadow fences and then landing on an array of poisoned spikes, and it really works well.

Finally, after this litany of gee-whillikers shit, Brookhiser concedes to at least a hat-tip of balance, and enumerates three--three!--limitiations. He also tellingly makes them more or less incomprehensible, or at the very least, dauntingly veiled: "Restricted habitat," "Phantom framework," and the enigmatically question-marked "Lack of imagination?" Note the weird, obfuscatory phrasing of these "limitations" as opposed to the previously Spartan entries that lauded him. But really the best thing here is the "Lack of imagination?" entry, which is so baffling and strange that it defies description. Brookhiser starts out thundering like a herd of mice: "Bush has intelligence, energy, and humility, but does he have imagination?" Then he segues into a freakish rumination on the relationship between Hitler and Churchill, and one kind of wonders how much cough syrup Brookhiser's had. Then, when you think it can't possibly get farther afield, Brookhiser wraps up the topic with the out-of-deep-space musing, "Bush thinks in prose. Can he hear music?"

And that's when the magazine hit the wall.

Wednesday, 11 December
Today I Mock the Infirm

Today, with much fanfare, Strom Thurmond turned 100 years old. I was reminded of the Simpsons episode where they had a newspaper story about Burns, and the subhead read "Credits long life to Satan." Did you see the Marylin Monroe impersonator who sang him "Happy Birthday"? And did you see him reach out and grab her as if she were a giant turkey leg? Poor bastard.

And of course I say "poor bastard" because I feel for the guy. Mostly I feel vague hatred, because he's such a vile old wallet of a man. He's a steak from Denny's left forgotten under the broiler and then absentmindedy dressed in a waiter's revenge of pork fat, lemon juice and graft. Now, it is, of course, easy sport to make fun of this guy any more. Thank goodness. In an age where spin and doubletalk increasingly insulate politicians from good old mean-spirited cock-twisting just for the fun of it, old Strom still makes it easy for jerkoffs like me: he's never done any single good thing in his political life, so I can have at it, and it requires virtually no effort.

Thank you, Strom. Thank you for being such an awful person. I'll never forget you, no matter how hard I try. Because I'm pretty sure that someday, someone will name a fucking airport after you.

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