Veep Fiction

by Kieran Healy on February 12, 2006

CNN reports:

Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter. Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion [Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin] during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

I have an image in my mind of what the standoff was like. Cheney is grimacing. Whittington is staring down the barrel of a pellet-loaded shotgun.

*Cheney*: Wanna know what I’m buyin’ Ringo?
*Harry*: What?
*Cheney*: Your life. I’m givin’ you that quail so I don’t hafta kill your ass. You read the Bible?
*Harry*: I’m a lawyer. What do you think?
*Cheney*: Good point. But there’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the donors through the valley of porkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost loopholes. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my campaign contributors. And you will know I am the Unitary Executive when I lay my vengeance upon you. I been sayin’ that shit for years. Especially at chicken suppers hosted by Militias. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before you popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some cartoons this mornin’ made me think twice. Now I’m thinkin’: it could mean you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. Shotgun here, he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of porkness. Or it could be you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. Especially Al Qaeda and Saddam. And Iran. Also France. Maybe I’d like that. But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the big donor. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Harry. I’m tryin’ real hard to –”
*Cheney:* Ah, goddammit!
*Harry*: Arghhh! My face! You shot my face!
*Cheney*: Somebody call Rove. We’ll say he fell while eating a pretzel on a mountain bike or something. It’s worked before.

*Quail-o-mat Update*: “Firedoglake”: quotes from some more in-depth descriptions of nature of the hunting they were up to when this happened Cheney favors. In terms of required difficulty and skill, think of what these guys were doing as “hunting” in the same sense that you might go hunting for a donut on the way to work tomorrow morning. Benj Hellie “accurately describes”: the ill-fated trip (Cheney’s, not the donut quest) as “less a hunting trip than a visit to an all-inclusive bird murdering theme resort.” It’s astonishing that the VP was able to hit something _other_ than one of the hundreds of tame birds released for his shootin’ pleasure.

*Only Peppered but Still in the ICU Update*: “More reasonable questions from firedoglake”: on what exactly happened. Interesting to learn that Cheney always has an ambulance on call.

Thrasymachus and Realism

by John Holbo on February 12, 2006

I’m teaching Plato’s Republic, Book I – you know, all the Thrasymachus ‘justice is the advantage of the stronger’ stuff. I give ’em a bit of Thucydides, the Melian debate. Rub on a smudge of Machiavelli. I’d like to be able to recommend or select from some contemporary readings about realism – in the IR sense, not the ‘I believe in abstract objects’ Platonic sense. I know there’s a ton of stuff, but I want something clear, lively, not too hard, not too long, and preferably available online. Suggestions?

Turns and Movies

by John Holbo on February 12, 2006

Couple days ago I posted some fine metaphysical poetry and extremely witty self-criticism by Conrad Aiken at the Valve. I like Aiken very much. (One of our commenters mentioned that Eliot praised him as "il miglior fabbro", but someone else noted he also called Pound that. So maybe he just carried around a whole tray of that one at parties.) There’s also a family friendship on Belle’s side. Warings and Aikens have been friends for generations, apparently.

Anyway, I’ve been reading poems from Aiken’s second book, Turns and Movies (1916), long out of print. One couplet – and that’s pretty much it – from "All Lovely Things" sometimes gets quoted, from the end of this stanza.

All lovely things will have an ending,
All lovely things will fade and die,
And youth, that’s now so bravely spending,
Will beg a penny by and by.

Since the book’s public domain, I’m tempted to make a nice CC edition. Be a bit of work. But here’s a start: the title poem, which you won’t find intact elsewhere on the web, although you will find bits. It’s got a certain something. "In Turns and Movies he willfully sacrificed his ability to write in smooth involute curves for a dubious gain in matter-of-fact forcefulness." Of the title poem in particular: "although immature and uneven … at least a crude vitality." So writes Conrad Aiken. I agree the metaphysical stuff he wrote later is better. But if Art Spiegelman decided he wanted to illustrate something like The Wild Party again, he could do worse that this. (You could really do a Batman and Robin-inspired number on part xii, "Aerial Dodds".)

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