January 24, 2005


Question: If you're supposed to be guilty, and you keep laughing, does that make you a bad person?

We've run into Susan Lenfestey before; she's credited as a "Minneapolis Writer" at the bottom of her latest piece in the Strib. I think "Minneapolis Writer" could become a synonym for "dour, harping, one who uses pessimism and phony as a club to beat you into submission."

It's time to party.

As the families of bomb-flattened Fallujah huddle in make-shift refugee camps, drinking from sewage-filled streams, Iraqi policy mastermind Paul Wolfowitz fastens the last stud into his starched collar.

Just for the fun of it, I searched Google for any reference in any news article to people in Fallujah having to drink sewage. You be the judge - I found 21 articles, mostly referrals to Lenfestey's article itself.
As the Iraq Survey Group ends its search for WMD, concluding that there was no imminent mushroom cloud or even a smoking gun, Condi Rice draws herself a hot bath.
So does Bill Clinton. So do the former managing editors at NPR, CNN and the New York Times. So does Bill Clinton.
As Sgt. Kevin Benderman, an Army mechanic with nine years of service, refuses a second deployment to Iraq, saying, "You just don't know how bad it is," Colin Powell pours himself a drink.
Let me try this: "As the remains of the Kurdish family, still bleeding from their fatal machine-gun wounds, were pushed into the mass grave by the bulldozer, Susan Lenfestey poured herself a bowl of free-range granola"

Hm. Not so much fun. I don't get it.

As Specialist Charles A. Graner, miscreant and major-domo of Abu Ghraib, shuffles off to prison, Donald Rumsfeld straightens the black tie of his tux.
Side issue here: what is the Latin term for Non-Sequitur again? I can never remember my latin terms...
As the 9/11 widow tucks her children into bed, wondering why the recommendations made in "The 9/11 Commission Report" weren't implemented, Tom Ridge tightens his cummerbund.
911 WIDOW: "If only there'd been more bureaucracy...oh, I can't go on..."
As prisoners charged with no crimes, and given no recourse, languish in the hellhole of Guantanamo Bay, torture apologist Alberto Gonzales clicks his cufflinks into place.
Lenfestey's right. We shouldn't capture and detain terrorists as prisoners; since the Geneva Convention allows us to line them up and shoot them as spies, that's what we should do.

That's what the law says, after all.

As Dan Rather retires in disgrace over forged documents, former CIA Director George Tenet, proponent of forged documents about Iraq's nonexistent nuclear program, adjusts the Medal of Freedom around his neck.
Key difference, of which Lenfestey's audience is probably ignorant; people at CBS knew they were forgeries, or at least didn't do anything to verify them.
As the working mother in Chicago wonders how to keep her child from being left behind now that her special-ed program has been cut, Armstrong Williams polishes his shoes.
I suppose that in Susan Lenfestey's special little world, Armstrong Williams got an invite to the inauguration...
As Valerie Plame walks away from a distinguished career as a CIA "operative," destroyed when her identity was revealed by columnist Robert Novak, Mr. Novak walks to his limo.
You mean the top-secret super agent Valerie Plame? Who was involved in, let's be honest, her husband's scam?
As Osama bin Laden chuckles in his cave to see America's fortunes sink in the morass of Iraq and as fresh recruits to his cause multiply like flies, Dick Cheney pops the cork on a bottle of Dom Perignon.
The funny part of that sentence is that Susan Lenfestey likely doesn't get the unintentional irony of it all.
As America's trade gap surges and the red ink in the national debt bleeds to a record level, Treasury Secretary Paul Snow finishes shaving and dabs at a spot of blood on his chin.
Call Amnesty International; Susan Lenfestey is torturing metaphors.
As Pfc. Francis Obaji, oldest son of an immigrant Nigerian family, is zipped into a body bag for the sad journey home, Laura Bush zips up her Oscar de la Renta gown.
"As a terrorist hacks away at the connective tissue of a hostage's neck, Susan Lenfestey hacks away at specious comparisons".
And as his corporate pals slide their millions across the table to dance at his ball, forgetting for a moment the bottom line that forces them to ship jobs overseas, George W. Bush pulls on his snakeskin boots.
And after reading this piece, I was tempted to wear boots, too.
Susan Lenfestey is a Minneapolis writer.
No, let's keep on going:

As Susan Lenfestey claims to be a writer, a real writer's piece is rejected.

As an Iraqi policeman howls with pain after being wounded while defending a group of election workers, Strib readers howl with rage at the crap the Strib editorial board foists on them.

As a US doctor grows weary after hours of treating the innocent civilian victims of a terrorist bomb, Strib readers grow weary of being lectured to by illiterate chuzzlewits like Susan Farging Lenfestey.

As Afghans risk their lives to wait in line for hours to vote in the first election in 5,000 years, Star/Tribune readers wait for moments on hold to cancel their subscriptions.

Mitch Berg is a Saint Paul blogger

Posted by Mitch at January 24, 2005 05:48 AM | TrackBack

Mitch, you're a better man than I. I got as far as "Paul Wolfowitz fastens the last stud into his starched collar" and simply stopped reading and ignored the rest of the "piece". Nice fisking!

Chuzzlewit! I like that term. May I borrow it?

Posted by: Paul at January 24, 2005 10:52 AM

I think I nabbed it from P. J. O'Rourke, so have at it!

Posted by: mitch at January 24, 2005 10:55 AM

Or perhaps you (or O'Rourke) got it from Dickens's "Martin Chuzzlewit"? Unfortunately, my knowledge goes only as far as the name of the work, so I can't comment on any subtext or implication.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth at January 24, 2005 01:19 PM

I think the term chuzzlewit was chosen for its sound rather than its meaning. A brief review of Dicken's Martin Chuzzlewit: Author tours U.S. like Tocqueville before him but, lacking the perceptive mind of Tocqueville writes a nasty little semi Swiftian rant. Rambling, plotless, main character undeveloped. A book best forgotten.

Posted by: Fred Boness at January 24, 2005 03:41 PM

First, I was wrong, it wasn't O'Rourke -it was Dennis Miller.

And I suspect both Fred and Doug are right; I suspect Miller liked the way the term sounded, and it probably was at least a notional Dickens reference. I've never read Martin Chuzzlewit - I had heard it was one of Dickens' less essential books, as Fred noted - so I couldn't confirm any deeper reference.

Posted by: mitch at January 24, 2005 04:01 PM

Hi Mitch,

I have some rather interesting info vis a vis this "writer" that I would rather not go into over the blogosphere. Do you have a private e-mail that I can contact you with?

Posted by: Ken Lona at January 25, 2005 06:21 PM
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