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Surge Fever Spreading
lobal Paradigms offers the funniest take on what every desk bound chicken hawk uses for a 'picker-upper': SURGPILL
. To put that extra jaunt in the step of every would be World Historical Hero. Here's the test: while reading it, see if Global Paradigms doesn't play it exactly like the ads pummelling us over dinner. The graphics are great, too. “Let's Surge!”
And while you're at it, check out “The Right Men, The Wrong President”
, also by Global Paradigms. A snippet:
So why do natural winners like Mr. Baker and Mr. Paulson end up looking now like losers, if not whiners? The fault is not in our two stars – but in their boss in the White House. Mr. Bush remains committed to a global strategy that continues to see the US as a hegemon in the Middle East and East Asia in which other regional and global actors, like China or Iran, need to be contained and constrained.
If America faces counter-pressures around the world, it only needs to cut its losses, buy some time and wait for an opportunity to push “forward.” Under such conditions, negotiations with some players – like Iran (or North Korea) – are seen as counterproductive. Negotiations with other players like China become ad-hoc, since American refusal to recognize China as a strategic equal and partner would leave the Chinese with no incentive to make major concessions involving its core national security and economic interests (like the value of the yuan).
Moreover, whereas Mr. Baker and Mr. Paulson are both “Hamiltonian” in their basic global policy orientation with its emphasis on making the world safe for Corporate America which was shared by both Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice still seem to be advancing a “Wilsonian” foreign policy approach with its emphasis on a futile ideological crusade of making the world safe for democracy.
Mr. Baker and Mr. Paulson may be the right people at the right time to try resolving major US global problems. Too bad that the wrong president is at the wrong time in the White House.
ead the whole thing
Doc, Looks like the Corner is scarfing down their Surgepill : “Lots of response to my suggestion for a draft of young men into something other than the active-duty military ... ,” says Krikorian to his colleagues watching their college savings plans. They are starting to parody themselves like the sitcom version. They can't just admit what they want - making a two tiered draft inevitable and make it look like an accident- with a propaganda service option for those who cannot quite make the meritocratic science and engineering service.
Goldman Sachs is getting along just fine even without Paulson at the helm. Maybe that's because they have better relations with China than the WH. Believe it or not, one Bushian we heard from was puzzled why Bush is getting media credit for Goldman's blowout quarter. Amazing how some people have redefined the Presidential role in their mins. Anyway, China will gladly lend Dubya money to police their gas station in the Gulf - especially now that the Saudis also told everyone they need nuclear power for their 'energy' needs - just like Iran. Bush has presided over an incredible relative weakening of national power.
Meant to say the Bushian was puzzled why Bush was not getting credit - Going forward the finance sector is well positioned because of all these trends -cheap labor, outsourcing, technology, endless war, currency games, and the development of Surgpill.
Doc, can surge pill help the American Mansfield survive the HRC-Pelosi pincer and Iraq withdrawl in the wake of Shia prophalatic envelopment? We rate it a Strong buy for high risk portfolios.
“At Harvard Business School, thirty years ago, George Bush was a student of mine. I still vividly remember him. In my class, he declared that 'people are poor because they are lazy,' ... Bush and his brain, Karl Rove, are leading a radical revolution of destroying all the democratic political, social, judiciary, and economic institutions that both Democrats and moderate Republicans had built together since Roosevelt's New Deal.”
~Prof. Yoshi Tsurumi 3-1-04
Baruch College, CUNY
Hey Doc - Case for surgpills. Among the pro war crowd Hitchens usually is the most adept at finding the key cheap shot point to shoot down someone. It's been a few weeks since we pointed out everyone in blogland the key day to look to if you want to ride a faux “Baker Curve” narrative for a year or so. But the war set keeps dancing around this - when they go after Bake they pick something Baker did before or after.
Check out recent Hitchens:
“In 1991, which is also the year when the present crisis in Iraq actually began, it was Saudi influence that helped convince President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker to leave Saddam Hussein in power and to permit him to crush the Shiite intifada that broke out as his regime reeled from defeat in Kuwait.”
Notice he misses the far better date of July 24, 1990? We can only speculate about subconscious meme contamination.
Sign of the times - Instead of reporting facts, media now feels they have to shoot down strawman arguments about themselves and offer non denial denials:
Online Reader: Why do we keep having people who were wrong on Iraq giving advice on TV? MTP this week had a politician and two Times columnists who have been consistently wrong. Why not have Russ Feingold, Paul Krugman, and Bob Herbert who were and still are right?
Howard Kurtz: If you banned pundits or politicians who were wrong about something from further TV appearances, the newscasts and talk shows would have a near-impossible time finding guests.
Fact: Kurtz cannot afford to answer this question. He has too much to lose to properly explain his place in the Oriental American landscape - Why being right is wrong, etc.
“We are at our wits' end to find a single soldier - There is something very sinister to my mind in this Mesopotamian entanglement ... It seems to me so gratuitious that after all the struggles of the war, just when we want to get together our slender military resources and re-establish our finances and have a little in hand in case of danger here or there, we should be compelled to go on pouring armies and treasuries into these thankless deserts.”
Letter to Lloyd George
August, 31 1920
“In 1920 Palestine, Iraq and Arabia had cost the British taxpayer 37 million [pounds] ; the equivalent in 1990 of 500 million. Churchill's administrative task was to cut this sum by half. Unless Iraq were governed much more cheaply , he telegraphed to the High Commissioner of Iraq, Sir Percy Cox, and to the Commander-in-Chief, General Haldane, his former fellow prisoner-of-war in Praetoria, 'retirement and contraction to the coastal plain is inevitable'.
To cut expenditure, Churchill proposed setting up 'an Arab government' at Baghdad, which would develop the country without making 'undue demands' on Britain. Law and order would be maintained, not by British troops, but by a specially recruited British police force 'of exceptional individual quality' and by Indian troops brought from India. Under the League of Nations Mandate, Britain was pledged to create in Iraq 'an independent nation subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory until such time as she is able to stand alone'.
Cox had already proposed an Arabian prince, the Emir Feisal, one of the sons of Kind Hussein of the Hejaz, to rule Iraq under the Mandate. 'Can you make sure he is chosen locally?' Churchill asked Cox on January 10 , adding that Western political methods 'are not necessarily applicable to the East, and the basis of election should be framed'.”
Churchill, A Life
“ While in Paris he [Winston Churchill] saw the French Prime Minister, Alexander Millerand, to whom he stressed that Britain and France had a common interest in 'the appeasement' of the Middle East. 'I pointed out the absolute need from both British and French points of view,' Churchill reported to Llloyd George, 'of appeasing Arab sentiment and arriving at good arrangements with them. Otherwise we should certainly be forced by expense of the garrisons to evacuate the territories which each country had gained in war.' ”
Churchill, A Life
“ [Scott] McClellan is a flea on the windshield of history. On the podium, he performed his duty as a slow-flying object swatted by a frustrated and flustered press corps. Inexpressive, occasionally inarticulate and displaying a limited vocabulary, his virtue was his unwavering discipline in sticking to his uninformative talking points, fending off pesky reporters, and defending the president and all the president's men to the last full measure of his devotion. Inside the Bush White House, he was a non-player, a factotum, the instrument of Karl Rove, Bush's chief political strategist and deputy chief of staff. McClellan played no part in the inner councils of state. He was the blank wall erected in front of the press to obstruct them from seeing what was on the other side. McClellan's stoic façade was unmatched by a stoic interior. He was a vessel for his masters, did whatever he was told, put out disinformation without objection, and was willing to defend any travesty. He is the ultimate dispensable man.”
Ed Helms is gonna have is work cut out for him playing Flynt Everette in the sitcom version - Now that everyone is passing out samizdat versions of the infamous Leverette op-ed. Doc - this is all part of the Oriental tapestry - It's pretty funny.
Regarding surge politics - it's interesting to listen to Brooks on the News Hour - He's really giving Gen. Keen (plus a lot of young troops and noncoms) a tremendous amount of credit for this surge concept. Shields seems to be losing patience and tolerance debating what seems like a misdirected argument. Later Brooks says is worried that talking to Tehran will upset the Saudis and the Sunnis - But this is all part of the surge mentality. Basically - it seems 'surge' is meant to tread water - until a new flow propels.
Doc - what do you make of this new show - one that Brooks highliighted - that features the new OSD getting the “send more troops” views directly from the troops - as opposed to the grumpy Generals. Also - is Keene and the other General - are they gonna suit up again and carry out this plan?
We don't have the transcript yet - so we wish to amend our earlier characterization of Brooks remarks re Saudis. He more or less indicated that we should be worried because the Saudis and Sunnis will object to any attempt to appease to Tehran. He wasn't direct in his verbalization of this. Incidentally - how can anyone say American is not Oriental (in the sense we noted earlier) when people like Brooks and Friedman are invited on MTP and treated like sages - even though they have been wrong about everything.
Even press monitors like Kurtz dodge this question - because it's so ridculous. Did you happen to catch Russ Jr. last week - asking wisemen Brooks and Friedman all those weighty questions? It was really an Oriental Moment.
Even after this great disaster in Iraq - the press maintains that fake pretense that “everyone” was wrong about wmd and that “no one” thought Saddam was not a threat.
What will it take to end this c***? It's happening all over again - watching people who wanted to go to war with the Saudis a few years ago now worry about Saudi safety in the wake of the Perisian threat, etc.
Larry Wilkerson was on PBS tonight saying (not an exact quote) “there may have been some politicization of intelligence - due to human nature” in the lead up to the Iraq war.
Doc - we're certainly not expert at anything - but as you see the current politics re 'surge' and Iran, we cannot help but wonder why folks like Wilkerson couch their objections to past events in the terminology of 'human nature' and 'error'. Maybe Wilkerson feels guilty still and so has not been able to articulate fully and clearly about the past - as you noted, he has been inconsistant. But he must realize that politicization is not an accident in human nature - at least in the context of 'error' that he presented it. His opponents in the policy world would not hestitate to clip his wings - we is he so reluctant to spell things out? This is very much relevent to the repeat debate now underway. This - more than Leon's pill - is why surge fever is allowed to spread.
Wilkerson should take a look at Cheney's speech to vets - “simply stated, there is no doubt ....”
Cheney famously declined to serve in the war Wilkerson fought in - Then he goes to a hall full of veterans a bunch of bs, lies, and propaganda to get them to support a war - There were plenty doubts - Wilkerson knows that now and he knew that then, but he and Powell sat by as non vet Cheney told the vets a bunch of bs to get the US to fighht in a new war that none of them would be in, but will damage our country for a long time to come. No wonder Wilkerson can't spell things out. Meanwhile Powell's still a sage. Amazing.
re Wilkerson, couldn't agree more. It simply appalls that he and Powell are treated as heroic for their lack of spine. Who knew Cy Vance could wipe the floor with both of them and Armitage?
Cy Vance - resigning on principle? - Maybe Powell's camp could explain that away on Vance's lack of need for lecture fees. Speaking of the Carter years, the Corner is very much the petri dish you noted. Lately you can see the Corner folks trying out various strands of trying to paint Carter as a bigot - Mostly seeing how it sounds and looks on paper - probably knowing it's a tough sell. Simplistic analysis from email fans are posted in full , in a semi-deniable way, sensing this meme won't take off. Anyway, Vance might be more in accord with Carter as of late - ep in relation to the Bushian shift in the location of the center.
Bush should lend Wilkerson some of his Camus books when he's done with 'em/ There is a Camus -like quality to Wilkerson. He is vested with whistleblower status by those who only see him as someone with a transactional commodity value. The left blogs that extol his use of the words 'cabal' etc are all well aware of who believed what as the time of the the Powell Hour speech, so it's unlikely they really view him as anything other than a Johnny come lately. At the same time - he violated all the Oriental codes of the center and center-left media establishment - Not only did he say what everyone knows - but he did it in an awkward way. So like a Camus character - unlike the profit making Powell - he shuffles back and forth between temporary teaching assignments at GWO and W&M - One can imagine him drawing little boxes on the chalkboard - explaining the NSC process to some students worried about law school admission. As he draws up his test sheets and his multiple choice exams - he grades the students (all of whom understand war marketing by instinct) on their knowledge of this rule and that rule and this lesson and that lesson and why Ike did this and Jack did that and why we need good intel and why would should be non political, etc
It's all very Camus - especially in the rain.
Re Wilkerson & Colin: - This is not a fair line of criticism and it's pretty deterministic, but it's not really a criticism anyway We've noted comments before that just expressed some wonder at the Dickensian-type quality of some the names involved in our current national drama.
Admittedly pointing out the Colin - Colon similarity in the wake of Powell's B***S*** speech to the UN, seems unfair and lazy. But there it was - for everyone to see.
Wilkerson - as a surname, also fits Wilkerson's role in this drame. Wilkerson's etymology means 'son of wilkin' Wilkin is a dimunitive form of William , a given name. Kin of Wil. So it's a name that seems to symbolize, in this instance, someone who was connected to the main - but removed from technical accountability by two or three degrees. Ex: William is a given name for someone with another surname. So that's one degree away from the decision source. Wilkin is a diminutive - so that's another half a degree in symbolic distance. Son of Wilkin is another degree. See how that just about matches up with Wilkerson's actual spot on the Iraq war food chain of accountability. Sure this all bs - but then agains, Hogan does sound like a Judge, Fitz sounds like a Prosecutor, and Scooter sounds like a someday pardoned target, while Wilson is two degrees removed, just like Wilkerson - but sliightly superior because his name lacks the diminutive aspect. Rove - Plame - etc The names all seem to fit.
Colin Powell: You are Wilkerson - The Son of Wilkin, a man I knew well - as the son of William, the boss!
Wilkerson: This is hoax. You are so full of s***.
Colin Powell: Ofcourse - my name is Colin. I am named after the Colon - which is always full of s***
Dick Cheney: Simply stated, there is no doubt, you're both irrelevant.
George Bush: Yeah that's right - F*** Saddam, We're taking him out! Gotta problem with that Larry?
Wilkerson: Rumsfeld is mean. I'm going to go teach now. Good luck with your war.
Bravo ! Heartfelt bravo !
Thanks -Incidentally, at the time of Powell' UN gig - we dubbed his speech speech ( while we were holding forth a number of times - plus at length on a now non existant blog of someone else's) “The Powell Hour.” We dubbed it that - right then - because all during the lead up the speech the Russert types kept asking “will Powell have his Stevenson Moment?” So we watched that speech and we thought it was horrible - one of the worst speeches in modern American history. Of course - this means it was successfull for those in favor of war. So we suggested to a number of people at the time = to call it the “Powell Hour,” You know - like Stevenson's Moment, but better (worse). So someone who agreed and who worked at a news organization told us they suggested that to their boss - - Anyway - they said it was shot down as non-serious and an inappropriate characterization for a formidible and distinguished statesman like Powell. Mind you - this was at a time when elite media were studying Powell's eyebrows like auspices. Also - this news organization is about as disntiguished as the pap it tries to palm off as news for half its show. Plus odd also because we thought it was politically neutral and easily could have been adopted by Bushians and by th ideologues gleeful to let Powell walk point. Anyway - it never took off and to this day - this obvious seeming phrase never even became a meme on the googlesphere in relation to that speech. There are lots of mentions of Powell's hour-long speech, etc - But no one ever picked up on what we thought was sure to be a cliche observation - . Anyway - not the first time we've created a concept, developed into a notion, but failed to make it a meme. So we actual brough this up with a media producer type we ran into - and they told us (no joke) the Stevenson allusion was too cryptic and hard to explain to a non specialized broad audience. Doc - these are the same clowns who try to make all elections about politicians tie colors and lockbox jokes.
What the producer meant was not that the Stevenson Moment couldn't be understood - Afterall, it was being referenced on the political shows all the time. Rather - it was the supposedly complicate allusionary leap - explaining why Powell Hour was not a song and dance show (actually it sort of was) or something to be taken literally (there is a religious show that has a simlar sounding name) - but that very notion of making an allusion was too risky if it was not about pop culture. A simile was ok - a metaphor was sometimes ok, but an allusion was too difficult. This was just someone's opinion - someone who has lost their job around that time so maybe not an authority. But we thought they may have been correct - because since then we've noticed how carefull the media is to operate on a very low level - to be very reluctant to report anythings that may require the slightest thought, etc They only can tell very rudimentary narrative - with prompting colors and sounds. But we suspect they are wrong - There's a real opening for a real news channel - one that can compete with the BBC - one that doesn't tempt the WH to keep feeding it mythical war stories.
Granted - our Powell Hour anecdote is meaningless, in itself - But. That's just one harmless anecdote.
The sports media - print and broadacast - does not seem to have the same problems telling stories even though sports stories are often just as difficult.
Can you imagine an ESPN equivalent of Russert's MTP having on the consistanty wrong Brooks and Friedman as authorties?
It would never happen - fans would demand their heads after hearing them make a handful of errors about sports 'intel' and 'stats.'
The equivalent show would be like a Russert type interviewing two people who don't watch football much - but have read some football books they got from Barnes and Noble - Instead of mixing up Sunnis and Shia or making errors about wmd or changing their minds about the Saudis every week - these hypothetical football commentators would mix up cities, call touchdowns homeruns. and never played the game when younger. The Russert type host would make jokes about Buffalo politicians instead of Russert joking about the Bills.
Sports fans would not stand for it - because they know sports is very serious business. Fan would be hounding the commentators for years.
But with poltics - it's just the opposite. All these people who should be ashamed - who should feel they have to hide , are actually invited back and treated like sages.
Over the years we've heard and read a number of people make the same observation re Sports & Politics. It's not the sports are covered in any genius way - There's a food chain and all that. But on a basic level it's not completely sub-mental - even though the popular stereotype is still one that suggests sports news is at a lower level than political news. Just not so. Imagine these ridiculous quizs on sports shows. “Uhh Governor, can you name the leader of Pakistan?”
The assumed level of shared knowledge is far larger in sports. Sure Michael Barone knows more about politics than just about everyone - but you'd never know that by just reading his colums and listening him on TV.
We have not really thought this thru - But others have noted this too. We'll look around and see what we can find.
In the meantime - just consider the career of George Pataki and how people report on him. Pataki - a smart man - speaks always on a very low level , as if to a slow class. He chose someone to redesign devastated lower NYC on a whim of picking someone thought to be trendy. He ran up debts and did nothing to slow spending. His entire term in office was a rebuke to what he was supposed to stand for. But no one , save a few cranks , ever say this - they never say the obvious - they let Pataki push that ridulous Lebskin design even though no one liked it.
This would never happen in sports - Bad managers are given some slack up to a point. But that downtown design would not have been tolerated.
Someone once suggested to us, quite correctly, that just because we thought up a clever catch phrase that the media failed to adopt does not mean anything -We agree on a logical level - But we cannot help but suspect there's some truth to the idea our anecdote illustrates.
If we were debating this against us, we'd bring up the bad financial reporting in the 90s. We think there is a superficial comparison - Pundits are like hyped dotcom stocks with thin balance sheets and dishonest promotors w/ talk radio and cable like bucket shops, etc. Still - Wall St. research was much better than post 9-11 journalism. Sure those Buy, Strong Buy ratings were bs - but ( a bit like the buried Intel dissents) the earnings models on the inside were often accurate. But the conflict of interest was ultimately noted and some people were held to account - sort of. Not so w/ the Orientalist American political reportage w/ its - Pundits, Pashas, and Effendis - etc.
“You know, Tim [Russert], if I can share with you another rule I had about the Middle East, it was that any general going to the Middle East—or reporter—should have to take a test, and it would consist of one question: Do you believe the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? If you answer yes to that question, you can't go to Iraq.”
~Thomas L. Friedman 12-17-06
Meet The Press
Iraqis are like Hefty Bags. Hefty bags, in theory, are easy to open and can hold either grass clippings or houshold trash. In theory, Iraqis are open to invasion and are capable of handling democracy or dictatorship.
But what happens when you take your basic Hefty bag and try to snap it open in hot weather? It gets snagged. Then you fill it with some trash - but an old clothes hanger unwinds and pierces the bag's skin. So what do you get? Answer: Saddam Hussein.
I hear you saying, “Tom Friedman, put away both of your Pulitzers. Don't you know that Saddam is behind bars?” So where does this leave us? You guessed it - with a rusty coat hanger sticking out out the side of Iraq and Iran is picking it's rust particles.
Rust particles aren't healthy - but that won't stop the Iranians from picking them and eating them. Does this mean we should leave? Yes - but not yet.
The trick is not to ignore the rust particles - since they don't ignore us. So Mr. Bush, hope your listening or asking your dad about this because if you can't learn to ski on rust, then we're all gonna get stuck on the Iraqi clothes hanger.
But if we can learn to ski those rust particles down Mt. Victory, then this columnist will bet his Pulitzer prize that Americans will sacrifice if asked.
Bottom line? The ball is your court - run with it. Just don't hand it off to OJ (or Judy).
Amended second part:
Just because rust particles aren't healthy doesn't mean Iran won't continue to pick at them. Lead paint particles are not healty either, but some in the inner-city used to pick at them and eat them too.
But some of our finest soldiers come from the inner-city so there's no reason why we can't ween Iran off the rust if we can get our brave soldiers to stop eating paint.
Am I suggesting we go back to big govenment? No - I'm suggesting we embrace huge govenment; not just tax and spend, but rust and paint too.
We owe to future generations and we owe to ourselves to ignore those who say Iranians are addicted rust. Afterall, we're addicted to oil and you can't paint over that fact. Let's get real: Iran gets it. Do you?
“In a more perfect world, a graduate program complete with a doctoral thesis might be required of all those seeking the presidency.”
12-24-06 NY Times
(Mostly unintentionally ironic musings of a former Senator, Presidential candidate, and Doctoral student at the beginning of a review of Barack Obama's new book.)
Forget to add - That quote was from Gary Hart. Merry Isgmas!
Somehow if I listen hard enough--after a few stiff ones-I can hear Johhny Cochran(senor johnny to us) rising to the challenge w/ a stentorian delivery
“we must purge all
of the urge to surge--verily”
pure blood and iron
Doctor, we patched up and sent around to some people our “Iraqis are like Hefty bags” Friedman parody - without a parody notation. More than half thought Friedman wrote it. Friedman is the most succesfull columnist in the world.
Of course, that was no represenative sample and its probably a meaningless anecodote, but we'll take we can get. We used to be able to get a better Friedman imitation before his words were walled off into Premium land.
“Just wait. In five year's time, there will be trade-union subsidized flights into space.”
(Said to Yuri Gagarin as
he borded Vostok I for
first manned earth orbit)
“The DaVinci Code; another great book turned into a lousy movie.”
~Chris Matthews 12-24-06
*Not a transcript quote - may need to be corrected - but interesting to hear Matthews offer his opinion of what constitutes a “great” book. Camus reading Bush must be shaking his head in amused disgust.
“Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”
NY Times Jan, 1971
“No foreign policy, no matter how ingenious, has any chance of success if it is born in the minds of a few and carried in the heart of none.”
Int. Platform Assoc. 7-2-73
(Antipating Bush 43?)
“We are all the President's men and must behave accordingly.”
(On the invasion of Cambodia,
alluding to Humpty Dumpty)
“Napolean thinks that I am a fool, but he who laughs last laughs longest.”
~Tsar Alexander I 10-08-1808
Letter to his sister
“Great Britain has lost an Empire and not yet found a role. The attempt to play a seperate - that is, a role apart from Europe, based on a special relationship with the United States, on being the head of the Commonwealth - is about to be played out. Her Majesty's Government is now attempting, wisely in my opinion, to re-enter Europe.”
West Point Speech
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”
~Lord Acton 4-5-1887
Letter To Bishop Mandell Creighton
“Powerful as the truth may be, it needs a nudge from 16,000lb daisy cutter bombs once in a while.”
~Barbara Amiel (Lady Black)
“When Specter announced his intention to visit [Syria], Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned to ask him not to go, but the senator refused.”
The Hefty Bag quote is perfect. One can imagine Andrea Mitchell turning to Michael Beschloss over sorbet at a Kalorama party wisely passing it on.
Tom Friedman, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Dancing with the Stars. There is a frightening connection - one must consult Nostradamus again.
Re: “Iraqis are like Hefty bags”
Like you, we've always been puzzled by Friedman's success. Even if he is not as bad as his critic say - is he really the best columnist in the world? There is no doubt that he is regarded as such by some very smart people. But he is not - not even close, so it's sort of a mystery. We chose “Hefty Bags” because we truly think most of his columns are afterthoughts - just riffs on things that happen to catch his eye on a day to day basis. Have you ever noticed his datelines. Mexico City one day, then Damascus, then Tokyo, then Hanoi, then Davos, etc. There's no way he could possibly learn anything meaningful - since he's usually where ever he is for a few days - just enough to find his way around the hotel. But whatever - he's still hailed as a success - even though we cannot imagine brilliant businessmen like Jobs or Gates or whomever actually learning anything from his books with his risible metaphors. A while back you linked to that excellent takedown of Friedman. We recall reading that when it came out and feeling releaved that someone else noticed we we noticed. One of Freidman's funniest schticks is when he pretends that he is worried about his family competing with a rising India, just like factory workers have has to compete with low paid workers in China. He delivers this total BS with a straight face - as if he internalized his lines. A lot of successfull people are delusional though. However, If Tom Friedman were more reflective or self-aware, he'd collapse like an imflated penny stock that lost its last market makers and had it's lack of true earnings exposed.
Maybe we're wrong about this - but when Conrad Black says: “...Instead of a self-assured Roman Empire swatting barbarians, we have had a United States that has unilaterally almost disbanded the most successful alliance in history ...” Is it possible that he is internally thinking of himself as the self-assured Roman, and Fitzpatrick and his annoying regs as America. This internal mental migration - due to coping with legal trevails and seeing fair weather American friends (Kissinger, Perle) flee (with Steyn, the Canadian - sticking by him). Anyway - this has allowed him to see politics better. Black is an interesting character - we find ourselves rooting for him even though we suspect the Breeden report was an understatement. Of course, that's because we are viewing him soley as a media personality, rather than a boss or fiduciary.
Book Party: “Fareed Zakaria's Mom's Guide To Safe Ethnic Recipes”
(Backround Mukak mixes with DJ Lester Lanin mix - Over by the desert tray Michael Beschloss and Andrea Mitchell chat - Mitchelk maintains one eyeball on her husband Alan Greenpan off in the distance regaling Bob McNamara with Vietnam monitary policy jokes.)
Michael Beschloss: Mmmmm. This sorbet is delicious, Andrea.
Andrea Mitchell: Not nearly as delicious as Maureen Dowd's amaaaaaaazing take down of Barack Obama the other day.
Michal Beschloss: I bet that did NOT please Mrs. Obama. Betty Ford's dentist once told me ...
Andrea Mitchell: Meow! Mrs. Obama will have to learn real fast. My money is on MoDo!
Michael Bescloss: Aside from providing some critical feminine ballast to the NY Times Op-Ed page, Dowd's signature wit and her Coleen smile are priceless treasures that belong to all of us. This reminds me: Mary Todd's proctologist once held a seance at Blair House and ....
Andrea Mitchell: “Hefty bags” are Maureen's only serious competition. Seriously - did you read that brilliant ....
Michael Beschloss: “Hefty bags?” Hmm. Maureen is getting older - as are we all, but I think call them hefty bags is ....
Andrea Mitchell: Michael! I wasn't talking about MoDo's breasts! I was talking about ....
Michael Beschloss: Andrea! I NEVER thought you were talking about her breats or her behind - I thought you were making fun of her eye - you know the TV make up runs and it happens to everyone...
Andrea Mitchell: No - neither. (laughs) I was referring , of course, to Tom Friedman's brilliant “Iraqis are like Hefty Bag” analogy the other day. Didn't you ...
Michael Beschloss: Oh My God - Remind me to fire my intern researcher tomorrow. I missed that column. I thought Tom was reporting from Katmandu - I had no idea he was in Baghdad. At least , not as we speak ...
Andrea Mitchell: He's not - actually he'll be here any minute now - I was just think you'd better read it quick - Tom pointed out the weird similarities that Iraqis have with Hefty Bags..
Michael Beschloss: Jackie once found a Hefty bag full of gasoline drenched Japenese Yen in one of Aristotle's yacht's off the coast of Cyprus . This reminds me something Caroline told me the other day...
Andrea Mitchell: Hold that thought, Michael - Tom just arrived - I have to great him quickly or he might turn against Alan. Bye Bye.
Some editing needed - for example - here is a clearer version of the key lines:
Andrea Mitchell: Modo is amazing - Maureen's only serious competition would be (air quotes) “Heft Bags.” - Seriously Have you seen ....
Michael Beschloss: Andrea! “Hefty bags?” Hmm. Maureen is getting older - perhaps - but isn't everyone? Some sagging is inevitable , but I think calling them hefty bags is ....
Andrea Mitchell: Michael! I wasn't talking about MoDo's breasts! I was talking about ....
Armchair my friend, the Daily Show needs you! Each of these is a gem. The empathic recreation is exquisite.
Thanks - As soon as you said Kalorama, everything clicked and the scene (still needs some work - Greenspan should be talking about Ayn Rand, thus a semi-jealous eye stays fixed) came together. Other neighborhoods just lack the requisite balance of power and pose. For example - Georgetown - the sightlines in the rooms are not wide enough, and when Mitchell and Bechloss are talking to each other, they are not really listening to each other - but just leaning against each other as a sounding board as they scan the room , checking out the scene, while being seen themselves. In Georgtown - there would be beams and woodwork in the way - upsetting the stage element.
Only the gaffe misunderstanding brought about by unconscious projection and misunderstanding shocks them into paying attention to the words. Georgetown would be more chatty and familiar, Adams Morgan would be either all bs or just unthinkable, Cleveland Park would unsettle Beschloss - he would sense some jealous academics or bookish lawyers trying to poach on his franchise. Spring Valley and Chevy Chase would be more guarded. Potomic would lack the city vibe, Virginia suburbs wouldn't work either they would not allow Andrea to feel at ease. Kalorama's perfect - It's easy to imagine the cars rolling up and down to Connecticut or Mass - sometime just before or after Thanksgiving. Gary Hart shows up just as everyone is leaving. The side streets are filled with people in unmarked cars tracking the comings and goings of variuous vehicles.
Actually Greenspan would not be talking about Rand - rather Mitchell would pick up the fact that he is being asked about her - or offering an anecdote - as often happens - whilst he was holding forth with Monetary jokes (not monitory) - Those typos are all a destraction - we have to proof our comments. Some other adjustments - Beschloss should not the Mary Todd proctologist seance came too weeks before Vicksburg and Ford's dentist spoke about a time after the pardon. Unfortunately for Ford she seems like she's have a dentist who would leak to Beschloss. If Friedman sees Beschloss , he shoud be polite but clearly leave the impression of not knowing who Bechlosss is exactly - maybe be overly friendly but call him by his first name and get it wrong. Regarding Dowd - We think it's important for Beschloss to offer Dowd official approval - but it has to be coupled with an ambiguous bracketing (Colleen smile) - just in case he has to shift. Wheras Mitchell feels it's safe to embrace Dowd whole heartedly - to claim her as a 'friend' even. Modo doesn't threaten her - but for spoofing and skit purposes we can imagine some women who do - maybe Kati Marton or someone of equivalent stature and power or else an extremely new young starlet-ish intern with untapped brainy potental - This is by no means a true sense of things - just a funny way to spoof her - We have no idea if she' be threatned or not by any women. But going for laughs is not supposed to be fair.
The Kalorama house would have to had work done on it recently - and vintage listening devices from 1950s are found in the old mouldings and drywall - when someone from one of the East Bloc countries or Republics lived there. Maybe they are not even American devices - but clues to some unsolved puzzle - It becomes part of the retro party theme - McNamara doesn't play along though - But Besclosss immediately begins processing all the information into marketable soundbites of blurb length.
Some other people we can imagine showing up at the party - Byron York shows - playing a double game himself rolling his eyes with Colin Powell-type knowingness ('if you had any idea what I have to put up with') when someone points out some sort of freaky thing one one of his NRO colleagues. Meanwhile - he's quietly trying to tie the listening devices to either France, Old Labour (looking for marketable Philby-tie-ins), or some Kennedy (except for Jack, unless chick related) Democrats. Pereceptive - York makes sure not to set up a situation wherein Friedman will have to reveal not knowing York's name. That Wonkette woman shows up (her name escapes this moment - anyway she's no longer wonkette) and she doesn't have her game face on yet - so she a bit shy and ghettos herself with some Fleet St types by the drinks listening to Hitchens gossip.
This is tough - but here's how the same conv. could go down between Beschloss and Mitchell if it was at a party in Georgetown, rather than Kalorama -
Picture a relatively big house off R or Q St - Maybe Volta. Dave Brubeck music in the backround - mixed with cocktail laughter. A frisson of in-ness fills the room. Ben Bradlee had just left. Outside a police presence keeps a non existant rabble from even thinking of approaching the party.
Andrea Mitchell: (Amused) So Michael - be carefull where you throw your cup - don't you know - hrown may not be the new black, but Hefty Bags are the New Hajis?
Michael Beschloss: Andrea, you caught me - There're so many Republican here, I figured avoiding recycling would be the better part of valour (he reaches back in to pick out his recyclable drink cup) - Alas, I see Sidney Blumenthal coming our way, so I better get back in form least he find cause to fault me with those who run the Clinton Global Initiative. Were you at CGI last summer?
Andrea Mitchell: Michael - that's not (laughs) what I was talking about (notices Blumental approach). I was referring to Tom's ....
Sidney Blumenthal: (nodding his head) Andrea. Michael. So good to see you both.
Michael Beschloss: Hello Sidney. Working for anyone interesting for '08?
Sidney Blumenthal: Been very busy with - you know - the writing lately and so (looks down at his drink) that's - you know - the focus. I understand there's a new doc dump from the Nixon library due next week. Maybe ....
Andrea Mitchell: (turns helpfully to Beschloss) Since he left the White House, Sidney wrote a book about the Bush Administration - You ought to look into it Michael -
Michael Beschloss: Really , a book about forty - three. That's terrif ...
Sidney Blumenthal: I wrote one about the Clinton Wars too - that covered ..
Michael Beschloss: ...fic. Terriffic. The Clinton Wars. Hmmm. Kruschav warned Kennedy about the Balkan's, so you may want to consult my book, before you address Clinton's role in the Balkan's ....
Andrea Mitchell: Michael, Sidney's Clinton book is done - Quite a while ago, right Sidney?
(Blumenthal looks downs at his drink - it's three fourths full, then looks up at Andrea and Michael)
Sidney Blumenthal: I better run - gotta fill up my drink (Andrea looks at his drink glass and sees that Sidney is lying to get away) . So nice to chat - I'll look into that Kruschav material, Michael. (Blumental slinks into the next room and down the stairs, He is out of sight before he shakes his head in disgust)
Michael Beschloss: Hmmm. That was strange. Does he know who I am?
Andrea Mitchell: Yes - I think he has lot on his mind lately - his writing has bee been very angry ever since the recount. He has being-out-of-power issues. My analyst knows his analyst.
Michael Beschloss: Maybe he was just upset because he saw me toss this recyclable cup into the Hefty bag trash. The Clinton Administration was filled with aides inspired by both the New Frontier and the Great Society. Before Nixon created the EPA ....
Andrea Mitchell: No - No - that's not it. When I mentioned Hefty Bags, I was referring to Tom Friedman's brilliant column recently, wherein he -
Michael Beschloss: I am 4 days behind on columns. Do tell...
Andrea Mitchell: Tom - in that brilliant way of his - finds theze errie similarities betweem Iraqis and Hefty bags. I never saw the similarity until he pointed it out - It sounds odd , at first, but then again it sounded odd when he compared ....
Michael Beschloss: Chinese people to pocket lint with a static charge ....
Andrea Mitchell: Yes - that totally captured the post Tianamen ....
Michael Beschloss: Surge or maybe “cling” would be a better word (laughs at his own joke). Yes - Qemoy and Matsu were once the demons of the day. Prince Radziwell once told me that when the old man called him on behalf of ....
Andrea Mitchell: Hold that thought, Michael. Tom Friedman just arrived
- judging by the size of the police escort.
Beschloss would not say “there are so many Republicans” - that has to be toned down a bit to maybe “a couple of Bush WH alum” - “So many” too over the top. Impossible - unless it was an all GOP party. Whatever - a smoother transition is needed in the beginning, Maybe some knowing allusion to Doug Dillion also being a Republican in a Democratic scene. We'll have to look again with fresh eyes. This could be a series - Bescholoss and Mitchell, DC and maybe NY or Boston. We're working on some Friedman Davos transcripst - especially from a couple of years ago. Armchair Analytic will have to tap the Research wing.
Beschloss was on the last MTP. He's also got some great examples of his work up on his Wash. Speakers Bureau page.