Thursday, December 29, 2005

Epithets Extended

After review from the booth of a previous venture in home-brewed invective, it is clear that several more figures about whom we will be hearing in the next year needed to have their Homeric epithets firmly affixed, some by means of railroad spikes under the repeated blows of nine-pound hammers.

The Ugly
The Whitehogwash House
King George the Certifiably Insane
The Despicably Verminous Karl Rove
The Defiant but Desolate Scooter Libby
The Pustulent and Multi-Tentacled Jack Abramoff
The Smarmy and Larcenous Ken Lay
The Facile, Flagitious Jeff Skilling
The Insincere Demon-Spawn Ralph Reed
The Duplicitous and Avaricious Grover Norquist
The Readily-Beguiled Steno Sue Schmidt
The Corpulent and Coprophiliac Robert Novak

The Good

The Relentlessly Meticulous Patrick Fitzgerald
The Incontestably Fantastic Molly Ivins

Over at Wonkette, Ana Marie Cox' capacity to either produce or commission exactly the proper tone of totally outraged amusement continues to astonish an otherwise jaded world. Thursday's The Year in Accidental Tourism ruthlessly deflates Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei's front page Washington Post piece that ingenuously looks forward to a rejuvenation at the Bush White House. Wonkette says they "...perfect the art of the pulled punch." And then it gets nasty. Well worth the risk to your wrist to follow the link.

Perhaps to bolster their rapidly dwindling credit -- though possibly inadvertently -- Baker and VandeHei do land a few haymakers, viz, to wit, and id est [commentary unresisted by the Slangwhanger-in-Chief appears in brackets]:

Now [the Preznit’s] team is rethinking its approach to his second term in hopes of salvaging it. [Salvage always calls up such wonderfully strong images of shipwreck, disaster, calamity, catastrophe, and other really apocalyptic stuff. And history shows that in the formation of fixed Homeric epithets some of the adjectives that always seem to precede hopes are vain, or sad, or useless, or empty, or doomed.]

"I don't think they realized that Iraq is the totality of their legacy until fairly recently," said former congressman Vin Weber (R-Minn.), an outside adviser to the White House. "There is not much of a market for other issues." [O cruel fate, to be dismissed in coldly capitalist terms when your highly-polished ideological constructs can't be moved off the lot any more -- even with mega-advertising and deep, deep discounts -- while, out in front of God and everybody, the main product you have to offer is throwing smoke, rattling uncontrollably, and may become an immobile menace to navigation at any moment.]

Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University specialist on wartime public opinion who now works at the White House, helped draft a 35-page public plan for victory in Iraq, a paper principally designed to prove that Bush had one. [Some proofs, like some puddings, do not survive examination, much less ingestion.]

[Many Whitehogwash House advisors] are concerned that although Bush has changed his approach, he has not changed himself. He has been reluctant to look outside his inner circle for advice, and even some closest to Bush call that a mistake because aides have given up trying to get him to do things they know he would reject. [That truth stuff. It's a bear, ain't it? Even a spoonful o'...sugar... ain't enough to git none of it down the Preznitial gullet.]

"President ... not king or potentate," proclaimed Sen. Robert C. Byrd in a ramrod-straight Senate floor recital of BushCo's "renegade assaults on the constitution." The Slangwhanger-in-Chief blushes to admit Byrd's speech has been out there for ten whole days without his jumping all over it like a bird on a June bug. Eventual impeachment articles in 2007 doubtless will be drawn from the severe, almost Spartan prose of Byrd's masterful summation.

In the spirit of the ecumenical liturgical season, Ratziclaus is comin’ ta gitcha, according to this AP copyright photo by Domenico Stinellis from the St. Peter Square audience Wednesday. Benno is wearing a hat called a "camauro," said to have last been worn by the scandalously-still-un-sainted Angelo Roncalli, Pope John XXIII. But the first time the Slangwhanger-in-Chief saw this kind of hat was in the Shadwell Hall office of the Ol' Perfesser. He had boldly annexed a copy of the Raphael portrait of G. della Rovere sporting a similar toque as Pope Julius II, always apostrophised as "Julie Baby." The other wonderful thing about this photograph is, of course, that Il Papa is indubitably wearing a double-breasted cassock. Now, that's style! However recondite his bent for headgear, may his taste in clothing not be the most, or indeed the only, modern thing about him...

With a glorious graphic of “Ethics Cleanup Ahead” the estimable ceremoniously slow-roasts Washington Post stenographer Sue Schmidt for her front-page whitewash implying distance between Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff when there emphatically never was any...

Finally, presented for your pre-calendrical-rollover delectation are: 1) and 2) two priceless blog links, 3) a returned-vet short story rescusitated from the Big One, plus 4) a great Forward Hanukkah editorial, all found and packaged with a nice bit of his own prose by the remarkable Jonathan Alterman from the belly of the beast at MSNBC. Alterman's first priceless blog link is to a Larry David rumination. Here's a sample passage:

I like how if you criticize the war you don’t support the troops. You’re the ones sending them over to die, so how is it I don’t support them? If the army was made up of child molesters, then I’d support them. If we went to an all child molester army, I would be their biggest supporter. “Please don’t bring the troops home. Stay the course. Keep them there a long time.” But they’re not child molesters.
His second link is to a classic posting. Representative remark:
William Safire: Why are liberals so obsessed by Dick Cheney's poker hand? The pot has been taken, the deal is done. If liberals are upset that we are no longer playing by the Marquis of Queensbury patty-cake poker rules, they clearly lack the stomach to play poker in the post-September 11th environment. And why do they never complain about Saddam Hussein's poker playing, which was a thousand times worse?

Of all these linked stories, it is as John LeCarre wrote of a spy's photographs in his undersung end-of-Vietnam-War novel The Honourable Schoolboy, “every frame is a bold and disturbing masterpiece.”


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