Yeah, it's the last one for the forseeable future, so we've got your Bristol Palin baby update, Peggy Noonan, Barack Obama, C-sections, purple drank, Detroit, and 6 of your favorite Crappy Hourists all together.
Today, I asked everyone who was up and about and able to join me (and one another) for one great last insane discussion of the news. Those friends of mine crazy enough to do so included Moe Tkacik, Huffington Post's Jason Linkins, The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman, Campus Progress's Kay Steiger, and Gawker's incomparable Alex Pareene.
Before I go into it, though, I am going to use this space to say something about the people with whom I've had the privilege to write this feature this past year. Every one of them (except Moe who, like me, actually got paid to do this for a while) generously gave of their time, intelligence, humor and early, early mornings to do this with me and was appreciated a great deal. So, to David Ferguson, Steve Ralls, Jill Filipovic, Latoya Peterson, Rebecca Traister, Jim Newell and Asma Hasan, who couldn't be here for this last one: Thank you.
JASON: Hello to everyone in the room.
KAY: Morning all! I think the only comfort to being "back at work" January 2 is that it's Friday.
JASON: Ha suckaz. I am not back to work till Tuesday. When this is over, I'm going back to the warm body in my bed.
MEGAN: My only comfort is that I am back to doing this from my own couch. It would have been from my own bed, which is where I did it for at least a month last year, but I forgot to bring my computer into the bedroom last night.
MOE: Happy NY folks! I have a personal slogan that completely undermines my projections for the economy and the health of cultural pluralism etc. "IT'S FINE IN '09." And thus far I've had no internet connection problems so…
MEGAN: Someone is being optimistic! Sort of like Sarah Palin, who is totes convinced that Levi is going to get his GED and Bristol will head back to school next week to finish high school.
MOE: And I'm SO going back to bed for which I remembered to swipe an old blanket from my parents' house, holy shit it's cold. Were any of you guys in DC over the 75-degree break?
MEGAN: Nah, I was in upstate NY, but it totally hit like 47, which is like 70.
KAY: I got back in DC on Monday, and let me tell you — it's way warmer here than in Minnesota.
JASON: DC has been fluctuating between wind chill frigidity and "Let's just skip right to May" for the past two weeks.
MEGAN: In honor of Moe, I think we ought to discuss Peggy Noonan's new columnin which she suggests C-sections are classist, admits to awkward segues, calls Hillary Clinton more glamorous than Caroline Kennedy and wishes for her to be more of a princess. And I'm not even done reading it yet.
JASON: That sounds like a lot of pure Noonantastic WONDERMENT for just one column.
MEGAN: Wait! I just got to the part where she speculates on a run by Jenna Bush for the Senate seat from Texas in 2053. She's sure Jenna couldn't win.
JASON: Her columns are like classist C-sections for my BRAIN.
MOE: I wonder which one of those two is proudest of their moms. And does being a national symbol of American stupidity have any effect on your kids' value of education? Guess we'll see! Also: fuck Caroline Kennedy, and also fuck Israel. And Jenna has my vote.
MEGAN: Well, not that anyone outside of Albany cares, but Asseumbly Speaker Sheldon Silver who spent the 12 years of Pataki's tenure in office more or less rolling over like an obedient puppy — I predict great things for him when he runs for a House seat — is rolling over like an obedient puppy and dropping his opposition to her so that David Paterson isn't mad at him.
SPENCER: [enters the room] Jesus, all of you woke up earlier than I did.
KAY: Fear the wrath of David P, Sheldon Silver. Fear it.
MEGAN: Shelly really needs a good belly rub, David. Go ahead, it's fine, he won't bite, he doesn't even have teeth.
JASON: Noonan: "The thing about America is it is always ahead of the clichés, always one step ahead of an assumed limit." OY. Someone needs to go to her work and knock the dicks out of her mouth.
MOE: This column is so classic Peggy. "I hate glamorous rarefied New York and all its superficial beautiful people! Whatever became of true glamorous beauty? You know, the old "up by my bootstraps and enormous discipline" type of beauty, which is the only type that is authentic! Here's what God has been telling me…"
JASON: HA! YES.
SPENCER: New York is not interesting. Authenticity is not interesting. Lack of authenticity is not interesting. New York arrivistes who write about New York are not interesting. New York natives who complain about New York arrivisites are not interesting.
MEGAN: It's completely awesome:
This is one reason modern political dynasties tend to have a deleterious effect on our politics. When you get new people in the process who think politics is about meaning, they tend to bring the meaning with them. On the other hand, those who've learned that politics is about small and shallow things, and the romance of dynasties, bring that with them. (They also bring old retainers, sycophants, and ingrained money lines, none of which help the common weal.) Those who are just born into it and just want to continue it, bring a certain ambivalence. And signal it. They're always slouching toward victory.
No, Peggy, that's what happens when you bring new staffers on board. New politicians are never really new, just new to whatever office they've advanced themselves into by shallow things like campaigns — except for the rare exception like the new New Orleans Congressman Cao. I just get annoyed that all this subtext is still about Reagan. She's got a bigger hard-on for Reagan than practically anyone else in politics, and more than Condi has for Bush. Peggy should know from politicians bringing sycophants to Washington.
MOE: Yeah well there's the subtext, but this column is not about 1980. It is: Barack Obama —at least he's not a Clinton! Hillary Clinton — at least he's not a Kennedy! I wonder if Michelle Obama had a C-section? The answer to that question could really assist my struggle to decide how I/God feel about her character!
JASON: I am enjoying Dexter Filkins latest article on Afghanistan. The headline is fantastic. "Bribes Corrode Afghans’ Trust in Government." It's a total WOW HOW DID ALL OF THIS STUFF HAPPEN ACCOUNT.
Kept afloat by billions of dollars in American and other foreign aid, the government of Afghanistan is shot through with corruption and graft. From the lowliest traffic policeman to the family of President Hamid Karzai himself, the state built on the ruins of the Taliban government seven years ago now often seems to exist for little more than the enrichment of those who run it.
The system works!
SPENCER: Where have I read that story before?
MOE: I have skimmed the whole first page and there is no mention of erectile dysfunction. The Post wins.
KAY: This line is pretty awesome, though: "pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos" Maybe they're slumping toward victory, er, an erection.
MEGAN: I mean, I don't think Viagra gives a man his libido back, as libido is sexual desire, no? It gives him back the ability to have an erection back, which if he didn't have a libido wouldn't be necessary anyway.
MOE: I think the ability to get an erection def affects a dude's libido. They're simple that way, etc. etc.
SPENCER: Not that Linkins and I would know, high-five.
JASON: HAHA. Give me another decade. In my family, our prostates are like ticking time bombs.
MOE: Oooooh I am a total prostate "expert" and my advice is: limit animal product intake, quit smoking, etc. etc. It is so cold I have almost personally quit smoking and I don't even have a prostate!
SPENCER: And speaking of. Notice the voice of defiance raised by Jim O'Bierne — husband of National Review's Kate — in opposition to the temerity shown by Barack Obama for staffing his own Pentagon. O'Beirne was so committed to quality public service that when he was in charge of hiring people for the occupation of Iraq he asked whether they voted for Al Gore and solicited their thoughts on Roe.
MEGAN: Oh, God, you know, I read about that memo earlier this week and I thought it seemed pretty fucking whiny for a political appointee to bitch to other political appointees that their tenure serving a partisan President would end with the inauguration of one with a different party, but I didn't realize that!
However, he said, if employees "harbor residual doubts" then they can "content yourself with the likelihood that it was your outstanding performance as a Bush appointee that drew the opposition's attention to you."
Yeah, the Bush Pentagon: a paragon of public service and outstanding bureaucratic performances.
SPENCER: For the last CH, answer this for me, will you? Why do you people read Peggy Noonan? You have singlehandedly doubled her readership by making her a staple of this feature. And for what? She's irrelevant.
MOE: I like her sentences. Tom Frank does too, he told me.
MOE: She's not irrelevant. She's always the most-clicked shit on that shit.
MEGAN: She's Peggy! She's the right's answer to Maureen Dowd, and also far more readable than just about any major newspaper columnist who subscribes to a similar philosophy.
MOE: Reading Dowd is painful. Reading Noonan is fun!
KAY: Also shorter than Camille Paglia columns.
JASON: I think Peggy Noonan is widely read for her MAGICAL THINKING. And also because every column is like a puzzlebook, leading readers to the location of her secret stash of laudanum.
MEGAN: Man, I want to share in her secret stash of laudanum.
JASON: I will find it! It will be a mjor component of being fine in '09.
MEGAN: Also, in my head, when I typed "She's Peggy!" was a chorus of dancers doing jazz hands. So maybe I don't need the laudanum after all.
JASON: No. YOU NEED THE LAUDANUM.
MOE: Camile Paglia is too vicious. Noonan has a Maddow-esque gentleness to her. I like that in conservatives. And I wonder if I can get laudanum from this new doctor. I would say Peggy Noonan = interesting. Caroline ≠ interesting. Gaza ≠ interesting. Joseph Cao = interesting.
MOE: Jenna Bush = interesting. Any other Bush ≠ not interesting. Zbignew Brzezinski absolutely fucking gold. His daughter = meh.
KAY: Also, as a total aside, this one about Barack Obama has to be one of the most obvious of 2009, "To Some Conservatives, Advisers Are Alarmingly Liberal." I think that's ≠ not interesting
SPENCER: How do you make that counterslash in your equals sign?
JASON: GOD ROLAND BURRIS IS THE BEST. And Bobby Rush! Spencer, you and Eli need to drop another verse.
SPENCER: I don't want to turn into Capitol Steps. That would be backslash-in-equals-sign interesting.
MEGAN: Roland Burris thinks the Senate will totally let him in anyway, because he's already found Peggy Noonan's laudanum stash and sipped deeply from the bottle.
JASON: They are writing a sequel to BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES in Chicago. Honestly, though? I'm not sure how the Senate keeps him out. I can't remember the name of the case that applies, but all the legal opinions I've read that run around it seem pretty sketchy to me.
MEGAN: I think they are trying to just keep him off the floor until they figure out something better to do. It's not like he can vote retroactively. So if they bar him from the floor long enough for Illinois to get its shit together and impeach Blago, sign up for a special election and whatever else, then he'll never really serve. I wonder if they can keep him out of office space? I'm assuming he'll end up in the basement at best, like Milton in Office Space
SPENCER: All of you read Courtney Love's MySpace blog, right? Did you notice that her new record didn't come out on schedule? The "head administrator of her MySpace" explains:
Courtney Love is a true artist, and as most true artist, the true artist simply communicates from within. That special place that Courtney holds so deep, especially for her fans is a really honest haven that exhibits skill, versatility, self-discipline, formal and conceptual rigor, and a commitment to excellence.
Sounds like Peggy Noonan.
MEGAN: Spencer, you have officially blown my mind with that comparison.
MOE: OMG if "edgy" "magazines" still existed one of them could have Peggy Noonan interview Courtney Love and Vice Versa. But I think Peggy Noonan is more like Gwen Stefani.
JASON: I'm going to think of "Doll Parts" whenever I read Noonan now.
SPENCER: Courtney apparently has "30 million dollars in sponsorships, "from a prominent feminine hygiene/menstrual company and a prominent tequila company" but I don't think Peggy Noonan has figured out how to monetize her column yet.
MEGAN: Tampons and tequila? That sounds like my Christmas week.
MOE: Yeah but Peggy doesn't exactly scream HYGIENE the way Courtney Love does
KAY: Wait, hygiene products want to advertise with Courtney Love? I guess she's a cautionary tale.
JASON: They need to bring about a merger between those two companies.
MEGAN: Dude, I would totally switch tampon brands for that shit. "Free bottle of alcohol with every box?" I would even start using OB and shoving that shit up in there with my fingers.
SPENCER: CL also has some unique observations this morning about the financial crisis:
Rob Jrs latent homosexuality its recieved psychiatric wisdom that anyone that homophobic AND Mysoginitsic, ( He roundhoused him after he told him0 my employee= that he worked for ME) is on some level a repressed homosexual,
so in terms of lawyers yes i have contacted a few m fron Civil Rights to Lititgation, id rather go deal with the mortgage fraud sitiuation wich has now grown to over 800,000,000 netted by the Estate Of Kurt Cobain and embezzled by a cospiracy of cpas , lawyer slash bankers and a few corrupt loan officers, look at Dovetail enterprises and all the dirty old south developement or David Sitt the Hasidic developer in Brooklyn in New York...
MOE: Oh hey look here guys do you think this means Israel has nukes?
MEGAN: Israel doesn't have nukes the way that Courtney Love doesn't have drugs.
JASON: But...I thought there was "Growing concern over Hamas’s new arsenal!"
MEGAN: Did Hamas steal the nukes that we all pretend Israel doesn't have?
SPENCER: Look, proportionality in warfare is a fundamentally anti-semetic concept. The Qassams are a kind of Chinese water torture.
MOE: Long sigh
But unless the current furious street protests spark a region-wide revolution that scares the wits out of Israel and its friends, Hamas will still face the same painful old choice of how to come to terms with an immensely more powerful and equally determined enemy.
KAY: Sigh, indeed.
SPENCER: Ah, the Economist's rhetorical style: pose a choice between two extremes that don't materialize on the ground and tsk-tsk the one that possesses the least establishment respectability. The "painful old choice" that Israel has to face is how to stop confusing metaphysical kind-changes — "crushing Hamas' will" — with military strategy while providing for the negotiated settlement with an increasingly radicalized Palestinian population, since that's the only path to sustainable security. Sorry for not being interesting this morning. And yes, it's true, the Economist is the least Jew-controlled of all major publications. But still.
JASON: In some cases, even observing the effects of warfare can be fundamentally anti-Semitic. And, let's all remember, those Palestinian kids deserve Sean Penn-like credit for their acting ability.
MOE: LOL today in anecodotnomic indicators: piggy banks "flying off shelves" (Ha ha ha the proverbial flying pigs!)
"People were very upfront about the need to save...the pig is very symbolic of that sentiment."
MEGAN: So did anyone else read about the Muslim family thrown off an Airtran flight for noticing that they were sitting really close to the engines? What, no flying big jokes about the AirTran employees and air marshalls?
JASON: I didn't know AirTran still flew! Weren't they relegated to the shitty terminal at National? I'd pull everyone off those planes, for their own safety. That airline is going to fuel much of the footage for DISCOVERY's new show "Destroyed in 30 Seconds" (which J.G. Ballard will masturbate to, furiously).
SPENCER: I didn't, but it's perfectly understandable, since despite months and years of careful reporting, if you read Marty Peretz's blog America is host to legions of Muslim terrorists, so what's the big deal?
SPENCER: My last two domestic flights have been AirTran, and as dismal as their National terminal is, I have found my flights affordable and comfortable. They've got a bad record?
JASON: Maybe I'm thinking of ATA! Or Braniff! I fly Braniff exclusively, on their tequila-and-feminine-napkins plan.
MOE: Oh…my…GOD. That said the only place I'd ever seen air marshals remove a passenger and interrogate him was REAGAN National. Also can we blame the terror war in part for decimating the Motown economy you think? Did anyone read the Weekly Standard cover story about Detroit on that note?
SPENCER: I couldn't get past "Detroit isn't in fact dead" on the coverline. Why bother creating a straw man if your heart's not into it?
MEGAN: With Obama coming into office, all the Weekly Standard writers hearts are broken! It's why this week's cover features a muscle-y flexing Uncle Sam and a story about lowering taxes, to give them all something to jerk off to.
SPENCER: Please! No Weekly Standard writers are closeted homosexuals! Where did you get that idea?
ALEX: [enters the room] Morning!
MEGAN: Look who the cat dragged in! Man, I hope you're at least hungover.
ANA MARIE: [enters the room]
MEGAN: Hey, Ana! I hope you're hungover, too
ANA MARIE: Not unless it's from cold medicine.
SPENCER: She's on that sizzurp
JASON: You need to keep sipping that stuff for the "fun" part to start.
MEGAN: We were just discussing how absolutely zero Weekly Standard writers are closeted homosexuals.
ANA MARIE: Well, now I guess that Tucker left... (kidding, Tucker!)
MOE: The Weekly Standard story actually turns into a Charlie LeDuff profile, which is kind of fun. And speaking of ha ha yeah don't tell Paul Wall drank ain't "fun."
MEGAN: Is cold medicine cheaper than alcohol by weight? Because I feel like a teeny, tiny bottle of it is like $6 or $8, and you can get booze for at least that price that, though crappy, certainly tastes better. Except for the grape stuff, that was awesome. The cherry flavored shit makes me want to gag.
JASON: I had friends who did it habitually, and none ended up working for Giuliani. I think that Boone's Farm more readily paved that path than the Tussin.
ALEX: I'm thinking salvia is responsible for the Fred Thompson "campaign" actually.
SPENCER: I used to entice hardcore kids in high school to get Tussed up, which created an interesting colloquy about whether cough medicine was straight-edge-acceptable.
ANA MARIE: I'm going to do an awesome segue now: SPEAKING OF GAGGING, what news have I missed this morning?
JASON: OOOH. I would love to see Fred Thompson star in a Salvia YouTube! Directed by Guy Maddin.
MOE: Okay I've gone back to read the Weekly Standard piece, which is a thrilling combination of "complete clip job hackery with no real point" and "kinda interesting." Message: Detroit totally sucks, but that is exactly what one of the nation's preeminent journalists loves about it!" LeDuff disses Tom Frank, which is stupid, but I think he probably doesn't read Tom Frank, and neither does anyone at the Weekly Standard because if they did they'd be working for Media Matters by now. Sorry if I killed the uh mizzzood up in here.
MEGAN: No, I'm sure we can crack a joke about which psychotropic the Weekly Standard writers take to make themselves completely not homosexual.
ANA MARIE: You have a lot of faith in awesome power of Tom Frank.
ALEX: THE BAFFLER WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
MOE: PAREENE? WTF dude?
SPENCER: Remember when Matt Labash was the next big thing? Why didn't he run off and become a blogger or something, rather than writing the same piece for 10 years?
JASON: Or just in the flexible standards at Media Matters.
ANA MARIE: The Baffler is how I met my husband, so you know, it changed MY LIFE. Your mileage may vary. FYI: Labash has the best job in journalism. I've talked to him through about a million different MSM pubs trying to lure him away and it boils down to this: He gets to write WHATEVER he wants and he makes decent money doing it. I would not leave that job either.
MEGAN: That would be kind of awesome, both the "money" part and the "WHATEVER I want" part.
SPENCER: So the-same-piece-for-ten-years is whatever he wants?
ANA MARIE: I don't think HE sees it as the same pieces. I paraphrase Steve Albini (who I think was talking about the Spinanes? some Pavementy knock-off and that trend in general) when he said, "hey, if you like grape jellybeans, go ahead and eat nothing but fucking grape jellybeans just don't ask me to tell you it's meat."
SPENCER: But isn't it, though? Conservative-leaning ironic detachment, color heavy, policy light, politics-as-absurdity, garnished with ironic machismo? And isn't that what P.J. O'Rourke wrote when he was funny 25 years ago? (I guess O'Rourke didn't do machismo of any sort but still.)
MOE: His Breakfast Table w. David Brooks actually changed my life back in 2000, and What's The Matter With Kansas actually narrated the philosophical conversions of several people I know, both IRL and anonymous total stranger internet bloggers but yeah I have a total TF hard-on, everyone knows this. I dated this one guy a few months ago who I think was actually kind of jealous. I think I would do him over Stephen Malkmus. Incidentally also a UVA alum. But not I do not imagine a reformed college Republican.
ALEX: Hah, the gratuitous Tom Frank swipe is preceded by a gratuitous Gawker swipe. Labash has all of our numbers. We don't care about poor black people in Detroit even though we PRETEND TO.
ANA MARIE: Labash is enjoying his grape jelly beans and being paid to eat them. To him each my have its own subtle symphony of flavors. It may strike you as unfair that he makes decent money for such a stunt, but I guess I just like grape jelly beans myself enough that it's not the thing I'm gonna criticize him for. And, of course, I'm jealous. At Suck, we got pegged as doing "snarkiness on autopilot" and, well, we weren't but ever since then I've thought that if I COULD do "snarkiness on autopilot," well, that would be a GREAT job.
MEGAN: I think if you can't snark on autopilot, you're trying to hard to snark.
SPENCER: I don't begrudge anyone for getting money, and certainly not during the death of journalism.
MEGAN: Anyway, Ana, to answer your initial question, there's no news to catch up on. Obama's election didn't tilt the universe off its axis, the economy still sucks, there's still fighting in the Middle East, crazy shit is going down in Congress that is all sound and fury signifying nothing. So this feature didn't change the world.
JASON: Moe's had some good prostate cancer advice, though!
MEGAN: Yes, I think once we had some good hangover advice, like eat egg sandwiches, take aspirin, drink water and mainline coffee. Anyway, so, I'm going to go code the shit out of this, making it somewhat coherent in time for my deadline. You guys were all awesome, thank you.
MOE:: Oh GAWKER MEDIA, think of all the CHANGE you might have incited had you not given away your politics blog to prove the point that politics doesn't sell on the internet, which like yeah it is not "nesting" but FREAKING NESTING IS WHY THIS DEPRESSION HAPPENED DUH.
JASON:: Bye Crappy hour!
ANA MARIE: ::pouring some cough medicine on the floor::
JASON: Hopefully Jezebel will be labelled a "shovel ready infrastructure project" by the next admin.
ALEX: Oh I forgot that my one piece of important Senate recount news <— FAREWELL CRAPPY HOUR enjoy one last laugh at the expense of my home state, NEVER FORGET.
MOE: Now I feel a twinge of regret for not taking any speed today.
ANA MARIE:: We all picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue.
JASON: Oh. Did we agree to stop?
MEGAN: Who's stopping? I have an entire afternoon free now. Jason?
JASON: I do! Though I am hearing from another room the distinct sounds of a cat vomiting, so I had better tend to that.
ANA MARIE: I will see you all in what ever form Crappy Hour next takes, in this life or the next, because if it's first thing in the morning, it must be crappy.