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Friday, April 22, 2005

Gravitation Pull-Up

Topic: Which comic/humorist in history has gotten the best knocks on politics and government - has picked it apart best for both humor and critical benefit?

Tough topic, but in a good way. In the way same way that figuring out where to start at the Bellagio buffet is tough.

My first thought was Jonathan Swift. Remember this?

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

Then I thought of Mark Twain. From Huckleberry Finn:

She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do nothing but sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up. Well, then, the old thing commenced again. The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time. When you got to the table you couldn't go right to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn't really anything the matter with them. That is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself. In a barrel of odds and ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the juice kind of swaps around, and the things go better.

After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers; and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by-and-by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn't care no more about him; because I don't take no stock in dead people.

Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But she wouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I must try to not do it any more. That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it. Here she was a bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to anybody, being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in it. And she took snuff too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself.

Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable slim old maid, with goggles on, had just come to live with her, and took a set at me now, with a spelling-book. She worked me middling hard for about an hour, and then the widow made her ease up. I couldn't stood it much longer. Then for an hour it was deadly dull, and I was fidgety. Miss Watson would say, 'Don't put your feet up there, Huckleberry;' and 'don't scrunch up like that, Huckleberry—set up straight;' and pretty soon she would say, 'Don't gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry—why don't you try to behave?' Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there. She got mad, then, but I didn't mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn't say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn't see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn't try for it. But I never said so, because it would only make trouble, and wouldn't do no good.

Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn't think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and, she said, not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.

Okay, having read that- how can you not go with Mark Twain? I mean Swift was great, but look at how dense, how PACKED the above is with social commentary! And so much of it is current!

But then I thought I was cheating, and that I should pick someone current. And hell, this is a blog, so I should pick a blogger. So I'm going with Iowahawk. The excerpt below is from his:

What Happens In Davos, Stays In Davos

...

Jordan Eason: Thank you Arsenio, and thank you delegates. It's a real pleasure to speak to you today. I originally intended to center my remarks around building global news market share, but as we have all seen, this is becoming increasingly difficult in our fragmented media world. On the one hand, we have see the welcome emergence of ethical competitors like Al-Jazeera [applause], but we have also seen an infestation of sleazy fly-by-night operators like Fox [boos] ...and unregulated blogs [boos] ...who have spoiled what once was a golden goose for many of us.

While it would certainly be wonderful to regain share, ultimately we need to focus on the bottom line. At CNN we have paid close attention to carefully containing costs, but in such a way that does not impact our news product. For example, we achieved significant cost savings by accelerated depreciation of Larry King's suspenders, and outsourcing our teleprompter feed to the Democratic National Committee. And, while we certainly didn't support the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it allowed us to cancel our bribe contract with Ba'athist officials -- freeing up essential bribe budgets for our other stations in the Mideast. As they, say, every cloud has a silver lining.

But, I don't want to be blithe about our the challenges we face. For example, if we don't get some control on the US Military deliberately targeting and shooting our field reporters, we are certainly going to face some steep increases in health care premiums for our employees. Second... umm, yes? Congressman Frank?

US Congressman Barney Frank: With all due respect, Mr. Jordan, what the fuck? I mean... what the fucking fuck!?

Jordan: Excuse me?

Frank: You just stood there and accused American soldiers of deliberately targeting, hunting down and shooting journalists.

[extended silence]

Jordan: Yes... I guess I'm just confused on the point you're trying to make.

Frank: My point is, do you actually have any evidence of that? I mean that the US military is deliberately killing journalists?

Jordan: Oh. Umm, okay, I think I see where you're going with that. Well, there are certainly accusations of that, and obviously we wouldn't be doing our jobs as journalists if we didn't recognize the existence of the accusations.

Frank: But you just stated it as fact.

Jordan: Well, duh. It's a fact: there have been accusations.

Unidentified Voice: I am a journalist, and the Imperialist American soldiers killed me.

Jordan: See [pointing]? Well, there you go. Jesus, Barney, what's with the third degree here? I thought you were gay.

It is tough... I'm going to go with Twain. Swift is #2, and IowaHawk gets an honorable mention.