Editors' note: This post was originally published late last night, without an edit by anyone else at Washington City Paper. Because of the subject matter, we unpublished it so we could review it. The post originally named the women who Julian Assange is accused of raping. Their names have been deleted. City Paper does not have a formal, blanket policy on whether to name victims of alleged sexual assaults, but in this case, it was inappropriate, and editors should have been consulted before the post was published. An update responding to critics of publishing the names has also been deleted.
Otherwise, the post has not been edited further, since it was already published, and copies of the original are available on the Internet.
I initially abstained from devoting mental energy to the Julian Assange sex scandal saga on grounds that it appeared from a distance like a pointlessly ugly search term turf war, an internecine meta-feud whose viciousness was largely a product of the semi-rare circumstance of one key corner of the moment's big story having happened to draw in two highly risible factions of overeager MSNBC-leaning media consumers, one galvanized around the emotionally-freighted search term "rape"; the other by the equally-charged "CIA conspiracy."
This afternoon I attended the fabulous above panel convened by the New America Foundation to address an even more hopeless topic than the last New America Foundation panel I attended last week, which is the mortgage crisis. I did not learn much, nor did I expose myself to any new line of argument that might lead me to a more hopeful view about the future of America's housing crisis than I had then, but I did realize I harbor an irrational bias against men who wear statement-y glasses like this gentlemanTim Fernholz of the American Prospect (and soon of the National Journal) who actually seems like an eminently decent fellow with no incorrect opinions I could glean in a brief post-panel encounter. The financial system that just doled out $144 billion in bonus money to its top talent remains insolvent, the Obama Administration remains incapable of acknowledging this reality and so the federal agencies charged with regulating it remain paralyzed, and Republicans remain awesomely full of shit. But the afternoon was not entirely unproductive because the New America Foundation is conveniently located close to numerous chain retailers and I finally got some Christmas shopping done, which would have been a far less efficient task were the economy not so awful that attractive women's apparel is really, really fucking cheap this year.
Liberal viewers could be forgiven for choking on their organic arugula Sunday night when Mama Grizzly dedicated the Palin family s'mores to anti-obesity jihadist in chief Michelle Obama on national television. Most were probably too blissed-out over their heroic victory ensuring the safety of avowed homosexuals within the Armed Forces to have noticed the news of the larger symbolic defeat our men and women in uniform recently sustained overseas. I'm talking, of course, about the Iranian ice cream insurgency reported in Sunday's Washington Post, in which the Iraqi Green Zone plans to celebrate the six month anniversary of independence from U.S. military control by playing host to the 210th branch of an "aggressive" new enterprise called Ice Pack, whose own website reveals its mission statement is "to exalt the name of Iran and reinforce Iranian identity"—all under the ostensibly "peaceful" guise of peddling thirty four flavors of ice cream, whipped "honor" creaming and cherry bombs optional—for now. It's I.E.Delicious!
This dastardly dairy dessert franchise already boasts bases in Malaysia and (no surprise) Venezuela, but the latest locale is within spitting distance from the U.S. embassy. There it will stand as a shameful symbol of the conclusive defeat of American junk food hegemony, a supremacy that has gone virtually uncontested in the fifty-one years since then-Vice President Richard Nixon first established American junk food exceptionalism by convincing Nikita Kruschev to accompany him in a ceremonial Pepsi tasting on national television—a proud and profitable legacy this president willfully squandered on the international front within his first two years in the White House, where his wife meanwhile took it upon herself to collude with George SorosBig Labor to end it at home.
But don't worry, all you sweet tooths and chocolate lovers among us. Just don't be surprised when the inevitable moment comes that some member of tomorrow's generation of obese young people wonders, "What's more Iranian than ice cream?" and doesn't understand when you snarkily respond, "I dunno…Holocaust denial?", because he's never heard of such a thing.
Jonathan Chait of The New Republic is in a feud with "freelance public intellectual" Will Wilkinson about Peter Orszag's defection for Citigroup. But isn't the first time Chait and Wilkinson have feuded; back in August 2009 their blogging heads butted in a three-part TNRtv sparring match about income inequality. So what has changed since then? Many things, and I'll give you a hint…none of them is "income inequality"! Read more Will Wilkinson Vs. Jonathan Chait, The Redux
In 1975, Pepsi unleashed "the Pepsi Challenge," a blind taste test where subjects threw back an ounce of each beverage and reported back on their favorite. Their favorite was Pepsi.
You already know what happened next: Coca-Cola developed a more Pepsi-like product called "New Coke." America rejected New Coke. Coke came back with "Coca-Cola Classic." America celebrated the restoration of the country's carbonated identity, and Coca-Cola's disastrous decision ended up entrenching its original product.
Behind all this was a problem with the Pepsi Challenge. People liked Pepsi more in small increments. They liked Coca-Cola more when they had to drink a can of the stuff. And this, I think, is going to prove a problem for Chris Christie.
Today's Washington Post features the latest installment in its epic "Top Secret America" series. Like many readers I am on the fence about this series, starting with the fact that it isn't called "Police State America" or "Secret Police America" or something along those slightly more descriptive, meaning-possessing lines, but as you may remember its co-author William Arkin has alreadycaused enough trouble for the newspaper over his use of meaningful words. (Remember the firestorm three years ago over the Greenpeace zealot who accused America of having "mercenary" forces fighting its wars? That was Arkin, who was obviously just jealousTM since he served in the Army before you could make six figures doing that for Xe Worldwide.TM) Read more How Come No Mention Of “Entrapment” In “Top Secret America”?
A quadruple-bylined op-ed just went up on the Washington Post website. It is called "Why Tomorrow's Wall Street Leaders Don't Like Bonuses." Why is Wall Street spending $143 billion to pay them this year if that is the case, you might wonder? The four men, Wharton professors all, do not attempt to answer, but the subtext is obvious: The universe is meaningless, and then you die. In any case, I don't think we can expect these folks to be expressing a lot of gratitude over those $300 billion in tax cuts we've been assraped into forking over to them this month, but oh well. The whole thing is worth reading, I guess, if you have never had the pleasure of wallowing for an entire year in your growing antipathy towards MBA students. I have, which is why I want to kill myself most of the time.
There's a lot of handwringing on the internet today about the lack of handwringing that accompanied the announcement last week that former Obama budget director Peter Orszag is going to work for Citigroup. James Fallows started it by wondering on his blog why the announcement had warranted nary a mention in the Washington Post, and it slowly a picture began to emerge of a Washington media that had been yet again hesitant to rub salt into the publicity wounds of a guy they generally liked. Even Fallows apologetically qualified his critique with the disclaimer that he while not personally acquainted with Orszag, he believes the man to be "faultlessly honest", perhaps due in part to the endorsements of better-sourced commentators like Ezra Klein, whose friend Matt Yglesiasattests he knows Orszag much, much better than Yglesias himself does, and assures us today that Orszag has been "uncommonly honest". Read more Peter Orszag: Everything Wrong With This Town (Comes Back To How Much This Guy Got Laid Here)
Ha ha, someone could make a sequel to Kindergarten Cop about a shadowy corporate villain called "Celerity" that tried to terminate all the teachers at McKinley, but no one would do that because everyone in Hollywood has a hardon for Michelle Rhee, oh well.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has an op-ed in the Washington Post today about how great some new thing is working in California. Now, I know what you are thinking. "But nothing works in California! If I have learned anything from reading the Washington Post, it is that it is impossible to relay information about the political system of California without using the word 'dysfunctional'!" Well, thanks to the outgoing Governator, "school reform" is remarkably quite the cinch to pull off in the Golden State. And as we have discussed here before, the Post op-ed page loves nothing more than school reform, except possibly centrist politicians working hard to cooperate like grownups in the name of shared bipartisan goals such as busting unions and easing the tax burden on the rich. But anyway, here's Arnold: Read more Arnold Schwarzenegger Bravely Takes On Teachers Union Goliath In Washington Post
Today comes news that the four Republican members of the nine-member congressional panel to investigate the causes of the financial crisis have defected from the group over a linguistic dispute: the Democrats wouldn't accept their proposal to eliminate the phrases "Wall Street", "shadow banks" and the words "deregulation" and "interconnected" from their official autopsy report on the crisis. Naturally the angry left, and also Ezra Klein, dubbed the move "Orwellian", but I find that a bit disingenuous, especially in Klein's case, following the news with this improbable question, "Whose interests does this even serve?" as if soon-to-be Financial Services Committee chairman Spence Bachus did not just tell his hometown newspaper: