Thursday, October 25, 2007

The World's Most Exclusive Kennel Club Presents: The 2007 “Bark, Rollover and Play Dead” Competition

Guest Post by Mark W. Bradley

“Live, from the WSJ Editorial-lined lobby of the Bob Ney Convention Center here in Washington D.C., conveniently located within easy dog-walking distance of the National Fire Hydrant (formerly known as 'The United States Capitol Building’), the World’s Most Exclusive Kennel Club presents: The 2007 'Bark, Rollover, and Play Dead' Competition.

“This Canine Sports Spectacular Presentation is brought to you this evening by AIPAC-brand 'Kibitz and Blitz', the official dog food of the Lakud Party and the United States Government. Like all AIPAC-brand products, 'Kibitz and Blitz' is made from 100% genuine negotiating table scraps ‘too good to waste on Palestinians.’ Every 'bunker-busting' bite is chock-full of bellicose goodness, guaranteed to make your saber-rattling, subservient solon sit up on his hind quarters and shamelessly beg for another heaping helping. And 'Kibitz and Blitz' now comes in two pooch-pleasing flavors: Rump Republican Red Meat Chunks (in the shiny crimson can featuring Mitch 'Mad Dog' McConnell gnawing on a half-eaten Persian kitty), and Lukewarm Liberal Lymph Node Pate (look for the grainy, black-and-white surveillance photo of Harry 'Hangdog' Reid furtively squatting in a doggie diaper). But no matter which flavor your Senator prefers, when you feed him 'Kibitz and Blitz', you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing he'll never again be tempted to tip over and rummage through your garbage can (unless, of course, his trainers at the NSA order him to sniff-out and retrieve your carelessly discarded cell phone bill). So do yourself a favor, and pick up a corporate contribution-size bag of 'Kibitz and Blitz.' After all, we're not just providing food for Straussian thought here, we’re feeding 'AIPAC' of dogs. And now, here’s your FOX-news anchor, Frank Mutz.”

“Hello, and welcome. I’m pollster Frank Mutz and I’ll be bringing you all the leg-humping excitement here at the Bob Ney Convention Center. I’m pleased to be joined tonight by the Democratic Party's chief leash-yanker and butt-sniffer, Rahm Emasculator...”

“Great to be here, Frank. This year’s top contenders will be vying for the coveted Triple Crown of Congressional Canines, the prestigious ‘Bark, Rollover and Play Dead’ triathlon. Many of these constitutionally-challenged curs have been in training for this event since their ‘hind tit sucking’ days back in the Doghouse of Representatives. I think it’s safe to say that quite a few of them are literally chasing their own tails, hoping to make a favorable impression on their owners here tonight. But before the actual competition gets underway, let’s get to know some of these Furry Federalist Fleabags, shall we? For that we send you down to everyone’s favorite newspuppy, Nora O’Doggerel, who’s been panting patiently around on the Soiled Carpet to present us with a special segment she calls ‘Up-close and Doggerel.’ Nora?”

“Thanks, Rahm. I’m here with two former Congressional dog trainers, Neuter Gingrich and Tom DeSpay. Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining us.”

“Thanks for having us, Nora.”

“Mr. DeSpay, let’s get your thoughts first. What’s going to be the key to victory in this competition?”

“Well, Nora, what makes this event so unique is that it requires an extraordinary array of rare talents. Take the barking competition, for example. Any dog can bark, but it takes years of practice for a dog to learn to bark out of both sides of his mouth and still keep from dropping his chew stick. In that regard, Senator Arlen ‘Fetch’ Specter has a distinct advantage. He’s a rare breed - a Wire-haired Water Retriever - and he’s been the Republican Party’s designated barker on the Senate Judiciary Committee for nearly 200 dog years. His bark is among the best in the business - ferocious, indignant, convincing. And that’s precisely what makes it such a great setup for his spontaneous rollover. It’s so spontaneous, you don’t even see it coming! One minute he’s growling away for hours at some Attorney General nominee or other on your TV set, so you get up to grab another bag of chicken bones and when you return, ‘presto’, his confirmation vote has been recorded and he’s down on all fours licking his bowl clean like nothing happened...”

“Tom’s definitely got a point there, Nora. Senator Specter’s bark-to-rollover time may be the quickest in the history of the sport. The problem is, he’s pulled it off so many times, I’m afraid he’s starting to lose the element of surprise. That’s why I’m gonna have to go with Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat “Trick Dog” Leahy on this one. Whereas Specter’s strength is his speed, Senator Leahy relies on a subtle combination of strident sincerity and quiet capitulation. His Herculean pronouncements (like the one threatening to hold up the Mukasey nomination), invariably lead to Lilliputian results. Like most purebred Hibernian Horehounds, his pugnacious growl belies a docile and compliant nature, which makes him the perfect watchdog to guard a booby-trapped room.”

“Gentlemen, you’ve identified two of the alpha males among the contenders. But who do you see as the alpha females in this competition? Neut?”

“Clearly the most formidable challenger is Hillary ‘Pharm Dog’ Clinton. Being a golden lab retriever (Pfizer Labs, Wyeth Labs, Amgen Labs), Hillary has a leg-up on the competition, so to speak. First of all, her bark is (strictly speaking) not a bark at all, but more akin to the blood-curdling howl of a hyena. Her bite, on the other hand, is quite harmless, especially when deployed against her erstwhile ‘enemies’ in the ranks of the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy.’ In fact, she appears to have mastered the difficult art of snargling (snarling and wagging her tail and the same time). But her rollover is truly a thing of beauty. More a slow-motion pirouette than a rollover per se, it occurs over a span of time tending toward the geologic, and is as subtly incremental as the blooming of a corpse flower.”

“Neut, pardon the expression, but I’m afraid ‘that dog won’t hunt.’ The ‘bitch’ to watch here (and I mean that with all due respect) is the Italian Lapdog Nancy ‘Nolo Contendere’ Pelosi. From 2001 to 2007 she howled, yelped, and barked incessantly about the crimes of the Bush Administration, but now that she finds herself in a position to do something about them, she’s become one mute mutt. I mean, her discipline is truly remarkable. Her one and only weakness is that she has a habit of passing directly from ‘barking’ to ‘playing dead’ without even a passing glance at a ‘rollover.’ One suspects she may be frozen in the supine position.”

“Which reminds me, gentlemen, you two have been uncharacteristically mute when it comes to making predictions about the ‘play dead’ phase of the competition.”

“Nora, I believe my colleague Neut will readily agree with me that Senator John ‘O’ Possum’ Kerry has a pit bull’s mandibular lock on that category. Not to say he is a pit-bull. In fact, I have no idea what he is, and I’m not sure he does either. While many professional breeders who’ve seen Kerry's papers report him to be a purebred Standard Poodle, others contend he is nothing but a well-coiffed dingo. Rumors abound that Kerry is actually a ‘Heinz 57’, but I find this notion preposterous. Only sustained inbreeding could have produced a dog so utterly useless for any purpose beyond inducing sleep in himself and others. He is the very nonpareil of ‘playing dead’”

“I’ll grant you that, Tom, but since his bark is indecipherable and his rollover appears to be as continuous as an electric spit, I question whether his ability to ‘play dead’ will be sufficient to allow him to catch the competition. Besides, ‘dead dogs’ are a dime a dozen. The real question is: can he come back to life?”

“That’s an excellent question, Mr. Gingrich. What do you think, Tom?”

“I suppose what Neut is referring to here is what we in the ‘dog eat dog’ political world call ‘canine resurrection’ (and we’re not talking about ‘doggie heaven’ here). Let me give you three examples of this phenomenon. First, there’s the story of Trent ‘Cracker Barrel’ Lott, a rare White-hooded Bloodhound once named ‘Dog of the Year’ by the Kaucasian Kennel Klub. Need I say more? And then of course we have the strange case of Senator David ‘Bird Dog’ Vitter, who is, I believe, a cross between a Ponchartrainian Poontang Pointer and a Bayou Beaver Retriever. (This hybrid, if left to its own devices, prefers to make its home in out-of-the-way cat houses.) ‘Nuff said about that, I suppose...”

“Excuse me Nora, but Tom failed to mention the most remarkable story of ‘canine resurrection’ on record, that being the case of Senator Larry ‘Dancing Paws’ Craig, the Snake River Canyon Cockapoo. Now the Snake River Canyon Cockapoo isn’t considered much of a breeding dog, as it is suffers from a congenital olfactory malformation that renders it unable to detect the smell of canine estrogen. It does, however, make a useful pet in many South Asian countries, where it is more aggressive than a mongoose at hunting wild snakes in a confined space. But what makes Larry ‘Dancing Paws’ Craig truly remarkable (even for a Snake River Canyon Cockapoo) is his extraordinary homing powers. No matter how far from home he gets dumped by his owners (and he has been dumped several times) Larry always manages to find his way back safely to the Senate Cloakroom...”

“Thank you, Neut, for that heartwarming story. Well, folks, we’ll be back in a moment to bring you more exciting coverage of the ‘Bark, Rollover, and Play Dead’ competition. But first a word about AIPAC-brand ‘Porkless Pork-Barrel Treats.’ They’re kosher, and they’re guaranteed to keep your Doghouse Member comin’ back for more! Most important of all, ‘Porkless Pork-Barrel Treats’ help keep your House pet in the peak of health by promoting strong teeth and gums (or, in the case of a Democratic House pet, just his gums). That’s AIPAC-brand, for Congressional canines who answer to a higher authority...”

Mark W. Bradley is a history teacher and political satirist in Sacramento, California. He can be contacted at:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tom Friedman Puts On Dark Glasses and Discovers the Sun

Guest post by Mark W. Bradley

Given the hectic pace of life these days, I suppose it should come as no surprise that we Americans are inexorably loosing our ability to think for ourselves. Social critics have long sought a definitive explanation for this phenomenon, but have so far failed to come up with anything beyond a working hypothesis. The prevailing arguments tend to fall into one of three basic categories. They are:

a.) Americans are too busy to make sense of the complex geopolitical realities of the modern world;

b.) Americans are too stupid to make sense of the complex geopolitical realities of the modern world; or

c.) Americans are too stupid to know they are too stupid to make sense of the complex geopolitical realities of the modern world.

Being the sort of person who would rather spread the darkness than curse a candle, I have come up with what I believe is a novel antidote to this debilitating condition. I call it the "Designated Thinker" solution.

This ambitious plan calls for each of us to adopt a really, really super-smart celebrity journalist/columnist of our choice to do the heavy mental lifting for us. (I like to pick mine from the Brahman stables at the New York Times, but hey, to each his own.) In my case, I rely on the prophetic and erudite visionary Thomas L. Friedman to pre-digest the steady stream of unpronounceable Arabic names and crazy-quilt geography coming out of the Middle East, and present it to me in an easy-to-comprehend format along the lines of Schoolhouse Rock. You know, something like:

America's the greatest, and there isn't any doubt,
But our choo-choos won't be chuggin' if the oil runs out!
Our little Shia brothers are just dyin' to lend a hand,
But if the Sunis don't agree, we're gonna gobble up their land

But you get the idea. So let the ditto heads leech off the limbic system of Mr. Limbaugh; I'll take "Tom Terrific" of the Times any day. Now when somebody questions me about events in Iraq or Iran (or any of those irrational Muslamistic countries) I always answer with, "Well, Thomas Friedman believes that (fill in the blank)”, and boy are they impressed! But you know, the most satisfying part of this symbiotic relationship is that I get to feel like a real intellectual heavy-weight (without having to engage in any of the time-consuming bother of processing all that information myself), while Tom gets to flog enough copies of his books to comfortably cradle a nest egg the size of Qatar.

Imagine my delight, then, when I happened to catch my surrogate cerebrum on the cable news networks the other night. Apparently, he had called an impromptu news conference to announce his startling discovery of a gigantic flaming gas-ball in outer space that seemed to be orbiting our disk-shaped planet. Friedman first noticed this star-like object (which he has taken the liberty of naming "the Sun"), when the intense luminosity emanating from the incendiary sphere temporarily blinded him, causing him to fall clean out of the saddle of the Tactical Nuclear Cruise Missile on which he was riding, Major Cong-style, toward Damascus. When asked by reporters to identify the likely origin of this gaseous body, Mr. Friedman would only say that all would be revealed to us in over-simplified form in his upcoming best-seller, The Sun is Fat, and So is My Head.

This latest (and perhaps most profound) revelation to issue forth from the pen of my erstwhile muse comes on the heels of two other monumentally important discoveries made by Friedman earlier this year.

The first of these was his heroic (and ultimately successful) effort to pinpoint the precise location of his own derriere. As he described this defining moment in an NYT exclusive, “My head had become irretrievably lodged in a dark and malodorous place, but when I instinctively reached ahead of me with both hands, I was able to grasp my elusive posterior with surprising ease. Curiously enough, it had been right in front of my face the entire time! Who knew?...”

Friedman’s other recent journalistic coup, of course, was his scooping of the entire Western World last August with the breaking news that the invasion of Iraq was not such a good idea, after all.

Man, I wish I’d gotten an Oxford education! All I could wangle was Chico State...

Mark W. Bradley is a history teacher and political satirist in Sacramento, California. He can be contacted at: