The Rebirth of Irony

Unto us an Ironist is born.

Irony never died, of course. It never does. Irony is a fundamental organizing principle of civilization, as necessary to our communal survival as agriculture and fluffy toilet paper. Without irony, life itself would be impossible. Or, at the very least, insufferable.

Yet it was only a year ago that the Death of Irony was again proclaimed, its high priests and low jokers pointedly asked to justify their existence in the dawning Age of Unicorn. On or about November 4, 2008, human nature had changed, and Ironists would be as useless as Karl Rove’s conscience.

That moment has long since passed. But with Barack Obama today accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, heralded by a Russian missile, and following his announcement of tens of thousands of additional American troops not-occupying Afghanistan for years to come, we choose this occasion to celebrate renewal. Irony is dead! Long live Irony!

It is our good fortune to have a President who recognizes this, and who will make the point himself during his acceptance speech. No ginned-up aircraft-carrier landings for him. For if there is one thing that is truly postmodern about Obama, it’s that he gets it.

War president will address incongruity of accepting peace prize [WaPo]

Strange light in Norwegian sky sparks mystery [Telegraph UK]


7:39 sounds like instead of giving a speech Hopey’s gonna just let a Jazz quartet deliver his thoughs.


7:39.10 The CNN announcer douchebags insist on yaketty yacking instead of letting us enjoy the music. Argh!

7:39.15 At least it’s Christiane Amanpour speaking… she’s almost as cool a Jazz quartet.

7:43 I just noticed this Jazz quartet is really a trio. And my kids are yelling that they want to watch Spongebob instead.

7:44 OK, Hopey speaks.

Summary fo bthe first five minutes: yeah… I was just as surprised as everyone watching.

7:46 Oh yeah… and about that war stuff we’re doing in Afghanistan… let me explain that…

7:50 My two year old is screaming “I WANT ELMO!!!” So alas, this liveblog must come to and en.

“I beat you because I love you.”

China connected to open societies? Not through the intertubez…

“True peace = war. Thanks for the medal, suckas!”

Words Barry should strike from his public vocabulary:


ADD: Hope

Brilliantly judged speech. Graceful and moving in places. Extremely well-judged in terms of personal modesty and announcing a new American mission. Plus a call to other nations to step up to the plate. Very distinguished.

Missed it. I missed many things the past four days, including all of you, because the internet connection at the cheap hotel I was staying at in Columbus, OH could not handle linques. Either that, or Marriot management can’t handle the truth.

@Dodgerblue: Did you read The Book of Mormon found in the nightstand?

this is not russians. this is wild. did you see the videos when the portal opens up?

this is life imitating video games. it looks completely fake. the effects people here are in a tizzy. particularly since no one really knows what it is.

the still image above is the portal not the preceding effect. which is the coolest thing evah

I am buying the rocket launch, the spiral does look like gas leaking from a spinning object.

what about the portal?
what about the portal?

@Capt Howdy: Fuck, watched the videos, have seen more photos.

I think the fucking aliens arrived, thats what I think. Shivers are running up my spine, when will they announce their arrival?

I for one welcome . . .

@JNOV: No, I got enough misinformation from the bureaucrats I was deposing, thank you.

@Dodgerblue: I love deposing lying bureaucrats. Nothing better than getting all the inconsistencies on the record for future briefs.

/yes, I’m a geek.

@SanFranLefty: I thought I saw a baby bump when she was walking…

@Prommie: As long as Shivvers aren’t running up your spine, you’re good.

@JNOV: You mean here? It could be that she’s just not wearing one of those big belts for once.

Loved the blue coat she was wearing when exiting AF1.

it matches the dress.
Howard Johnsons called. they want their drapes back.

@SanFranLefty: Mebbe. I was watching live footage of her walking, and I was like, “Hmmmmm…”

ADD: Do NOT like the poofy ‘doo.

@SanFranLefty: I think it’s supposed to be gold and match the medal.

@JNOV: Here’s the blue coat. I like it.

She’s 46 next month. I seriously doubt she’s got a baby bump.

ADD: Not a big fan of the hair either. That was lime green, not gold.

@SanFranLefty: Oh dear god, my EYES. WTF, Michelle? The other coat is nice. It looks lavender on my computer. And the “bump” is the result of wearing a shiny, shiny fabric over a normal woman’s belly. A shiny fabric with a fricking cardigan over it. What is she, disco librarian? I am deeply disappointed.

@Mistress Cynica: Disco librarian would be an AWESOME Halloween costume.

This is not the first time, nor, I fear, will it be the last time, that she has worn a cashmere cardigan over a shiny fabric. Our sister fashionistas Homofascist and Jamie can probably think of past events where she’s done that.

I’m not sure if it’s the color or the mixed fibers that is more disturbing.

OK, even I can muster up a sense of outrage over that hideous green (? neon chartreuse ?) jacket. But it sort of fits the occasion, as a colossal mistake. Not just the end of irony, but of meaning itself.

So I’ve now had a chance to cursorily review the pre-speech release of the speech. It is sick-making in the extreme. Benedick, are we on the same planet? Or maybe he gave a totally different speech than the one handed out to the press before the event?

And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice…

He dares to say something like this while his “justice” department fights to deny Bagram prisoners basic habeas corpus rights?

As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence.

Obama, you owe me a keyboard because I puked all over it just now.

For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.

Great, he had to go there, comparing the threat of Al Qaeda to Hitler. 6 million Holocaust victims should be rolling over in their graves about now.


@Pedonator: The Daily Show interns are already on the hunt for Shrub’s use of “evil”.

Obama’s strategy has been clear since Summer 2008: Hold the Left hostage, squat on the middle, and force the Right off a cliff. It worked last time, and it’ll work again: He’ll face an opponent in 2012 too awful to contemplate.

If I were Nate Silver — which I’m not — I’d go back to the 2008 results, and see how much of Obama’s victory was provided by those young, enthusiastic voters who usually have better things to do. The teabaggers will vote. I’m not sure the same can be said for disenchanted kids.

its not only the kids that may not vote

@SanFranLefty: Holy hell, that is fugly. I had not noticed that while Barry was turning into G.W., she was turning into Laura.

@Jamie Sommers: She tends to dress like Captain Kirk’s love interests from the original Star Trek series.

And yet he still hasn’t explained how 3,000 to 4,000 terrahists have managed to defeat our $$$TRILLION$$$ military after eight years of war, and how exactly more war is gonna change that. Don’t we have any gawdamm “journalists” who’ll actually ask him (or anyone else) this?

Maybe it’s like Jeopardy and he’ll only answer in the form a question: “What is a nation-ending quagmire, Alex?”

@SanFranLefty: no, like the weekly sacrificial damsel in distress that he got it on with at some point.

Lotsa shiny fabric, lotsa sleeveless, lots of skirts and pants, lots of waistlines right below the boobs. I guess it was a 60s-predicting-future-fashions thing.

@nojo: I held my nose and voted for him last year, but he’d have to do something pretty spectacular to get my vote again in ’12 — not to mention reverse himself on a dozen things he seems genuinely committed to.

I’m going back to my old policy of ignoring realpolitik and voting for candidates I somewhat believe in, even if they are Hope™less.

Wow. Tough room. What is this? West Point?

It’s an occasion of state: the poor woman’s got to wear something. Stiff, brocaded shiny fabrics mean ultra formal without being totally William Ivey Long. I wouldn’t trust that colour with anything but your own eyes. Digital doesn’t do green well and those sharp acid tones are particularly hard to photograph.

@Pedonator: I think it’s a fine speech. It’s a state occasion: what do you expect? The truth? I thought he managed his own sense of embarrassment very well. What he’s gonna do? Throw it back in their collective face?

How can we abandon Afganistan? We made that mess. We did it. I read today that the salaries of policeman have just been given a considerable raise prompting a stampede to enlist. Obama did not make this mess. I don’t like it that we’re there but he’s not wrong about the fanaticism of al Qaeda. What are the options? I’m not privy to the long-term plans but I assume they exist.

And I write this as a man who abandoned the country rather be inducted into the Vietnam slaughter. I don’t think this is the same. Quite possibly I’m wrong but I think we need to understand that at last we have a president of considerable intelligence and moral clarity and look at what faces him. I think we have to go back to Lincoln to find a president with so much stacked against him – including his own party.

I think the time has come to give the man the benefit of the doubt. We elected him. I think we might support him just a little.

I read some hysterical account from R Maddox this morning about the ‘kill the gays’ in Uganda and Inhofe and… puff puff, pant pant…! THEY”RE COMING HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG! WTF!!!!

This had to do with an official function: the National Day of Prayer and some nonentity who may or may not be attending avec le president de l’ope! And I was about to start calling people, as is my wont, when I thought, calm down. Moral indignation as a drug comes somewhere just behind crack.


I’m just tired of seeing people thrown into this slaughter for no other reason than to make the war profiteers rich.

If throwing more money and troops were the solution, then Russia would still be running Afghanistan and Baghdad would look like Geneva.


End the wars now.

@Original Andrew: I don’t think that’s what’s going on. Honestly I don’t. We have a responsibility there. We made this mess.

Or, to put it another way, We. Made. This. Mess.

I don’t think it’s fair to compare our presence there with that of the USSR’s. They were trying to add another ‘stan to the state. Ditto Britain. Had the original invasion been better run we’d be much better off today. But it wasn’t so we must deal with the aftermath. Ditto Baghdad. Was any invasion so fecklessly done? He will get us out.

Sorry all you darling peeps but here… If you can’t give up the cutting of virgin forest to wipe the shit from your arse instead of using the NYT and installing bidets like civilized people then you can’t expect me to take your moral quibbles all that seriously. If we can’t tolerate scratchy-bum then we’d best not get on the high-horse. Chafing might ensue.


This cannot be solved using the military. It simply cannot. To paraphrase a certain Senator/POTUS candidate:

How does one ask people to die for this country’s lies?

@Original Andrew: I daresay that’s correct. But I would suggest that there are plans in place for this ‘surge’ to be about support instead of the Go Go Go Shock and Awe (was there ever such a disgusting nickname?).

All I mean is that I think we have reaally got to cut this man some slack. We are in serious peril of becoming tea-baggers from the other end of the spectrum.

If throwing more money and troops were the solution

Come to think of it, then wouldn’t Vietnam be the 51st state?

@Benedick: Not just us, though. The Project Rungay boys took her to task for that outfit as well. They did, however, praise her for the other outfit she wore, which is fabulous. (And I love it that she paired the pale blue gown with chandelier earrings.)

@Benedick: Setting aside the question of whether We should have gone to Afghanistan in the first place, the We who botched the job are a different group than the We being sent in to clean it up.

And by the latter We, I don’t mean the Obama administration, which like its forebears will remain safely in DC. Instead, the real We are the kids being sent in on their umpteenth tour.

But we — us — already know that Obama had nothing but bad options, and that whatever he chose, somebody would get hurt. Alas, Obama couched his inevitably bad choice with a bad explanation — that the hundred or so AQ types still in Afghanistan remain an existential threat to America. (As if they ever were — again, another topic.) The choice sucked, but the sales job didn’t have to.

@Original Andrew: @Benedick: I know a guy going there on a forest preservation project. And yes, they apparently have some totally awesome old growth forests….still. There is going to be a shitload of civilian shit going on in the BamiStans these coming months, question is whether any of it does any good. Our current strategy to increase Afghan security forces? Pay them more than they can get from the Taliban. Have we become the Walmart of Central Asia?

@Jamie Sommers: Were they there? Did they see it live? Aren’t they the most repulsive aspect of our sleb culture? Forgive me, In my working life I’ve worked with designers who are artists. I don’t react well to professional faggots.

@nojo: No. We aren’t. We allowed it. And we have done nothing to try to put it right. If you can’t accept that then never look again at how the Germans were responsible for Hitler. We did it. You. Her. Him. Me. Us.

I don’t at all agree with your characterization of his speech. He behaved with great distinction in a difficult situation. A situation into which he was placed without his prior knowledge. We should be proud we have a president who can rise to the occasion and acquit himself on the international stage at least as well as Pinter.


That’s weird. Every video of Afghanistan I’ve ever seen shows it to be a bizarre, barren, moon-like place. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a single tree.


Who knows the real story, but what I’ve read in the past stated that the local governments, police and military are so thoroughly corrupt and criminalized that the population refuses to work with them.

And isn’t it a bit paternalistic-colonialist to assume that the people want us there? They may hate the Taliban, but from what I’ve read they hate us even more for invading and occupying their country and killing their fellow citizens.

I hated Caligutard more than anyone, but that didn’t mean that I wanted the Chinese to invade and “liberate” us.

@Jamie Sommers: I liked the top half of the white ballgown, the bottom half, not so much. The Project Rungay boys are so right, though – the cut on that dress totally worked for her. I liked the scrunchy jacket at the end, although I really think I need that lavender jacket she was wearing upon arrival to Oslo.

@Original Andrew: My dearest online friend, I don’t assume that at all. But we have devastated the country. Of course they hate us. When we leave they might perhaps only despise us. But we can leave them in better shape than we destroyed them. Don’t we owe them that?

In my own experience I was in London when she was being bombed by the IRA. That organization was almost entirely funded by well-meaning Americans. I was in a show when the police were informed that a bomb would go off every half hour on Shaftesbury Avenue. Every show was shut down and evacuated. Have you any idea what that means? Every theatre emptied and searched. Another time I was in a theatre when a bomb went off outside. London was under siege and it had no reality here in the US. After we came here I was in a theatre and was confronted by an usher wearing a “Britain out of Ireland” badge. Imagine my reaction.

That situation seemed to be intractable until it wasn’t. Blair sent mega troops in, conducted talks and broke the back of the IRA which had been kept alive by poverty. I can only hope that he has a plan. Why wouldn’t he? He’s a considerable man. Again. We must cut him some slack or we will bring disaster on our head.

@Benedick: IRA analogy is intriguing. I must reflect upon it. Not as extreme, but I lived in Spain as an exchange student during the ETA time. The Madrid Metro station by where I lived that I used every morning going to work or school was bombed one day an hour after I passed through it. Two people were killed. That gave me pause. Was also one of the three times I spoke to my parents by phone in the seven months I was in Europe. Can’t imagine a modern parent letting their 19 year old go off like that these days.

Anyway, back to what you were saying. The Economist used the analogy in an article this week on how the Kurdish problems could potentially be solved in Iraq. And North Ireland used to be viewed as intractable. Perhaps there is a shred of Hope ™ in there for us.

@SanFranLefty: I’m an Irish who has been schooled in the horror of the British subjegation of my people, and I have heard stories about my grandfather and great uncles being harrassed by British troops, back in the old country, and heard other stories which suggest that the harrassment was deserved, because they were if not members, supporters, of the IRA.

But that was in 1910.

Benedick is right about the IRA terror campaign being completely unappreciated in the US. People here have no idea of the signifcance that they killed Lord Mountbatten, whom I understand was among the most beloved of the royals.

I have a wonderful story about the 90-year old titled Brit that Mrs. Prom and I met in a tiny bed and breakfast south of Tulum, in Mexico, some years ago. The old guy developed an absolute crush on Mrs. Prom, and for the 3 days we were there together, every day during the cocktail hour, when Mrs. Prom and I would enter the little bar, we would sit at the bar, and the old guy, who was there with his nephew and the nephew’s wife, would get up, totter over on his walker, and hoist himself on the stool next to Mrs. Prom, and talk with us, mostly complaining about his nephew, whom he called “general” very loudly, in order to humiliate him, because he was a retired Major. We actually tried to fix him up with my mother, he was going back to England through Philadelphia, and he wanted to come see us, but I know that the nephew put the kibosh on that.

It was extremely interesting, this old Brit Lord of some kind, in his early 90s, he would gab with us for an hour each night till his nephew pulled hm away.

But the amazing thing was when it came up that I was of Irish descent. Suddenly the Major and his wife were spouting the most virulent anti-Irish racism I have ever heard. Turned out the Major spent a large part of his career in Northern Ireland, commanding British troops there.

But the old guy was great, told stories of running factories producing arms during the war, and his work in time and motion studies, and in basic studies on work among hard laborers, he said he had discovered that people doing difficult labor work hard for about 15 minutes of each hour, and slack for 45, and nothing in the world will make them more productive, and you have a happier, more productive workplace, if you don’t try. Quite enlightened.

What was most interesting was hearing people from a society with legal class distinctions, and from the upper class, discuss class distinctions openly, which apparently Brits will do with Americans because they I guess assume if you are at the same resort with them, you are in the same class, and besides, americans are outside their system, and get a pass.

My impression was that there is less evil in a recognized, socially and legally accepted class system, than in a place like the US with a secret, hidden class system.

It seemed to me, that where there is an accepted, hereditary class system, and people know they are Uppers because of birth, they are less morally condemning of the poor, its more of a “we have different roles to play in society, thats the way it is.” Here in the US, where the rich do not have an official, legally sanctioned reason for their superiority, they find themselves having to make up moral excuses for there superior position, and are more likely to view the poor as being poor because they are morally deficient, lazy, immoral, stupid.

It was fucking interesting, thats all I know.

As far as Obama’s “surge,” I doubt very seriously it is about going after 100 al queada in Afghanistan. I think it has to do with some secret stuff, and I think it has to do with courting Pakistan’s support.

My impression is that al queada and the taliban hang out in Waziristan, where they can cross the border at will between Pakistan and Afghanistan at will, depending on where they are safer. We seem to have gotten some sincere and real support from Pakistan lately in going after them on the Pakistan side of the border, and to me, the best evidence that the pakistan government and army is really going after them, is the fact that Pakistan has had a serious string of horrible terror attacks against government and army targets in just the last month.

It seems to me, from inferences that its plausible to make from the situation, that the US had to make a commitment to Pakistan that if they are going to make a real military push on their side of the border, they insist that we have a real force on the afghanistan side of the border, so that the al queada and Taliban won’t just cross the border and wait out the Pakistani surge.

Thats what it seems to me.

And one more thing, passage of time is nothing, if what we are doing is going after the actual people and organizations that orchestrated the 9-11 attack on us, then, even if its 8 years late, its a just action.

@Benedick, Prommie: I am reminded of this:

“Now lemme tell you somethin’. I’ve had enough of Irish Americans who haven’t been back to their country in twenty or thirty years come up to me and talk about the resistence, the revolution back home. And the glory of the revolution, and the glory of dyin’ for the revolution. Fuck the revolution! They don’t talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What’s the glory in takin’ a man from his bed and gunnin’ him down in front of his wife and his children? Where’s the glory in that? Where’s the glory in bombing a Rememberance Day parade of old-aged pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day. Where’s the glory in that? To leave them dyin’, or crippled for life, or dead, under the rubble of a revolution that the majority of the people of my country don’t want.”

Bono in “Rattle and Hum”

Forgive me, I can’t deal with the Irish. They are totally bonkers so far as I’m concerned. As mad as the Arabs. I try to read the stories or watch the plays and they are all crazy.

@redmanlaw: Saw the most beautiful doc that would so connect with you and the family. Note by Note. About the construction of a Steinway concert grand. Class, culture, heritage, art. Beautiful.

@Benedick: Heard about it. Sounds cool. Thanks for the tip.

@Original Andrew: I was skeptical as well, until he directed me to the Kunar province.

@Benedick: Plausible deniability and guilt = Civilian surge!

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