Out, Out Damned Lott*

The post-election left, gun-shy over possible blowback from the Wellstone memorial, have finally found a cause in which to again indulge their natural talent for self-righteous indignation.  Some of us are abstaining from the turkey shoot, however.  I’m sorely tempted to cloak this reticence with high-minded bloviations about "gotcha" politics and abjuring the tactics which should be properly associated with Scaife, Goldberg, and the Lewinsky-baiters, but in fact there’s a perfectly good Machiavellian reason to refrain from mau-mauing Lott: he could be Newt II.

Between the Tweedian re-institution of graft and the Gilliamesque Kissinger appointment, the only silver lining liberals have been able to hope for has been the possibility of "Republican overreach."  No member of the Republican leadership is better suited to obtusely marching the party over the cliff of far-right fantasy while provoking public revulsion than Lott.  The Republican majority is slimmer than the immediate post-election commentary suggested, and they would be well-advised to solidify their gains rather than pushing for conservative pipe-dreams.  If they take the piss out of this issue by soberly orchestrating Lott’s resignation as Majority Leader, it would be a cheap lesson indeed.

* Yes, I stole it, but I sub-contracted out my hair-pulling.


Figgy Pudding

On 18 December 2002, the State of Washington Public Health Laboratories will hold an office party.  In November 2002, the PHL Social Committee issued a call for submissions for names for this party.  All submitted names are listed below, with the winning submission at the bottom (yes, I’ve already submitted the list to McSweeney’s).

Holiday Potluck/Party/Celebration/Hoopla/Shindig
Feast & Festivities
The Winter Revel
Communicable Merriment
Twas the week before X-mas party
Winter Solstice Party
Winter Holiday Party/Festival
Fall Food Festival/Food Festival
The PC Party
Seasonal Party
The December Party/2002 at PHL
Brumal Brouhaha
Light up your life festival
End-of-the-Year Party/Potluck
Unilateral Winter Goodwill Celebration
Yearly Traditional Feast
Lab Fest
The Non-offensive Decemberish Gala
The seventh day before X-mas party
E. coli Night
Snowflake festival
Christmas Party


Ferber Babies

These people will fail, but only because Al-Qaeda didn’t consider New Line’s release schedule when hatching their plot.  Had Mohammed Atta and crew struck on 11 September 2002, this country’s vast reservoir of purblind outrage would now be making life very difficult for New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson.

I have always been baffled by such reactions to grief.  In the past 15 months we have been exposed to countless images, sounds, and words from the events of and around 9/11: burning towers, cell phone conversations, smoldering rubble, rows of body bags, testimony from survivors and surviving relatives.  Yet somehow, the image of a perfectly intact World Trade Center in Spider-Man is singled out as particularly re-traumatizing.  I presume such relatives retain photographs of their lost loved ones in a state of health; shall we confiscate those, as well?

I do recognize that public sensibilities change in response to tragedy, but it is fatuously obtuse to suggest, as this group does, that the name of the film The Two Towers—adapted from a book published under the same name in 1954—was selected "intentionally ... to capitalize on the tragedy of September 11" and that such naming constitutes "hate speech" (the abuse of which term is a subject for another screed).

These groups all affect to argue for increased public "sensitivity," as if the public might develop a faculty for independently anticipating such controversies and judging the appropriateness of their actions.  In fact, these groups want no such independent faculty; they instead desire public reflexivity: a knee-jerk obeisance to the professionally offended, whose job it is to inform us of our transgressions.  In the end, such protests are just cries for attention, with as little sense of proportion or respect for others as an infant has.

Update: Mighta been punk'd.