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Sometimes when you find yourself drowning in what Howie Kurtz calls the “Politico-Huffpo-blog-industrial waste complex”, asphyxiated by memes and grasping futilely for answers, it can help to open a clean new window and start G-chatting with a friend, ha as if. So anyway, I spent some time this morning G-chatting with one Mike Riggs while attempting to read the news from various sources. And together we uncovered some shocking revelations about what those freshmen Georgetown meth lab technicians were actually cooking with their chemistry set (and whether we know anyone who has actually gotten high from it before), Sarah Palin‘s unsettling approval ratings, and the scourge of sexual harassment on CIA missions in Afghanistan—against men. Also, our thoughts on whether Meg Whitman‘s son smokes weed and Alan Grayson is the “worst politician ever” and the controversial relaunch of NationalJournal.comı—and after the jump, the incendiary Obama interview headline they’d apparently rather we forget. Welcome to Memeorandemonium, in which we open new tabs so you don’t have to crash your browser.
RIGGS: OK I am here listening to Waka Flocka
TKACIK: Is that a new trending musical meme I should know about but obviously don’t because the internet makes me want to die? What is the good music these days?
RIGGS: Oh, shit. Well, Waka, for starters. And, um, I don’t know. I don’t really want to make music preferences known, to the whole world Because even though I keep up with the trends I mostly just download that shit for parties
When I’m alone, all I listen to is Jimmy Eat World Like, that’s it
TKACIK: No Death Cab for Cutie? I have somewhat given up music over the past few years. I listen to Guided By Voices kind of autistically, and my hip-hop knowledge is an embarrassment. But no one is here to care about what is currently on our [whatever device the kids are using today to listen solitarily to music they would much rather be listening to in the company of other people but them’s the breaks]
RIGGS: You’re so right. We are probably turning people off with our music talk. Let’s get real!
TKACIK: I wanted urgently to know how you feel about the highly-capitalized relaunch of NationalJournal.com
RIGGS: Oh! Funny! I looked at it first thing this morning. I am a dumb sucker when it comes to buzz. Let me go look at it again.
OK First thought: Watered-down Observer? It’s got the black and red thing going on. And a hip sans serif for the large words
TKACIK: I notice they have toned down the headline on their lead story from the sensational “Obama To GOP: Let’s Build Consensus” to “Not Quite ‘Morning In America’ For Obama.” Good thing I screen-grabbed the “consensus” thing this morning!
RIGGS: Which tells me nothing! I am looking at all these heds, and they are not saying a fucking word! Well, that’s not true. This one is informative: “Afghan Forces Growing Faster Than Expected, U.S. Says” I know exactly what’s going on in that story! I don’t even have to read it.
TKACIK: oh but you see if you check out the story, it is referring to the place inside the analysis in which Fournier explains “Echoes of Ronald Reagan’s ‘Morning in America’ optimism were clear, but the comparison only goes so far. For one thing, the economy in 1984 had rebounded enough to allow Reagan’s re-election campaign team to claim ‘our country is prouder and stronger and better.’ Obama can’t do that – at least not yet.”
RIGGS: OK, I get it now. But now I am filled with rage Because stories comparing any president to Ron-Ron are just bad, useless.
TKACIK: Isn’t it funny how he compares these midterm election campaigns with Reagan’s re-election campaign, as if…
RIGGS: If a story mentions Ron-Ron at all, you pretty much know that it contains no news. Ron-Ron is a fallback.
TKACIK: Well also, there is the thing about Obama not actually running for reelection right now?
RIGGS: Oh, not true! I have been reading twitter nonstop for 9 days, and everybody is saying that Pres. Obama is “on the ballot!’
TKACIK: Oh well maybe that is where they got the idea. Good point.
RIGGS: What I’m really digging (see: hating) about this article Is all the speak about “calibration” of “message” I can’t say for sure, because I’m not Mark Penn, but I don’t think voters pick up on these slight “calibrations” Washington journos throw in that kind of bullshit. As a way to signal other washington journos That they noticed the calibrations.
TKACIK: OH then you will seriously digggg Howie Kurtz‘s inaugural Daily Beast column
RIGGS: Oh shit. Let me check this out. (Loved your defense of Howie, btw! All that shit about what happened in the 90s was awesome. BUT—and it’s a little one—the fact that Howie was complaining about all that vapid shit 20 years ago sorta kinda makes people who complain about vapid journalism today, and furthermore, blame the internet, sound kinda silly!) Ok. This Howie thing—it’s like the three-page version of Peter Baker’s NYT piece, no?
TKACIK: I was not about to read that piece. But what I’m getting from this is:
RIGGS: (Good call on the Baker piece—-such a draaaaag, hearing and administration piss and moan) (Interlude: People on twitter are asking whether they should go to the National Journal launch party or Politico’s “Going Viral” panel!)
TKACIK: If the word “Twitter” basically sums up all the problems you have with the world right now, you too might as well substitute “Obama” for that, since his preposterous media messaging machine is so dumb no one can even comprehend what they are saying when what they are saying is “here, take some money.”
RIGGS: Ooooh. I like this. And I like this because someone told me recently that Americans don’t have language for defending vice Assuming that’s true (we’re good at defending gas guzzling army commando hummers, but whatevs) I think Dems have lost the language for talking about giving money away. Like, they’ve lost it. All I want is for R. Gibbs to take to the podium and say, “In light of high unemployment, this administration is committed to making it rain.” And then we could debate whether making it rain works But we can’t get that far! Which is funny, considering how good people on the right are at defending tax cuts.
TKACIK: Maybe we should discuss something more uplifting like that drug bust at Georgetown?
RIGGS: Oh god! Yes! Rich kids making meth? I AM NOT IN RURAL FLORIDA ANYMORE! What are your thoughts on the snot-nosers making poor people drugs? Why can’t they stick with coke? Adderall?
TKACIK: Actually it turned out not to be meth which is what I wanted to get to.
RIGGS: Oh shit. Somebody didn’t read the follow-up! What was it? What were the little ones making?
TKACIK: something called DMT?
RIGGS: hmm, I think that sounds like the party drug that is always way-laying my more adventurous bros Let me ask one of them
TKACIK: It is from the “tryptamine” family so perhaps it is just like super concentrated turkey gravy, and according to Wikipedia “rectal” is a popular route.
RIGGS: Oh, it’s a hallucinogen! So, is this what the kids are using these days instead of acid? This stuff sounds like salvia. You can smoke it, the effects don’t last long, you trip balls, etc.
TKACIK: oh ha and this is shocking Georgetown isn’t the first campus to operate a drug lab, thanks Washington Post.
RIGGS: Ugh, lame drug trend story! You know, this is only a tiny tangent… But I’m reading this WaPo post about how there have been other campus drug operations in the history of the world.And I am thinking, this sums up daily news in a nutshell. If you can’t break a story, make it a trend piece. That’s how you prolong interest, right? And re campus drug labs: I knew two kids who grew shrooms under their bed in college. America’s colleges are infested with entrepreneurs slinging drugs
TKACIK: Well what is annoying is that they will always think the trend is “oooh campus drug labs” when actually the interesting potential “trends” generally start with a reporter with the temerity to ask herself, “So is this drug any good? Why are the kids doing turkey hallucinogens these days, is it something about the information overload? Do you wonder why college kids would bother with meth labs, when there already is adderall? And why the fuck did they assume the kids were running a meth lab to begin with, what is wrong with our fucking cops? First they jump the gun and brand a bunch of indie rock guys murderers and now they assume Georgetown students are running the first meth lab busted in like a hundred mile radius of the DC?”
RIGGS: Sounds like you are that reporter! And you’re right, more reporters should ask these questions As a news consumer, I want to know why every drug story I read sounds like it was written by robot nancy reagan. Also: +1 for DC9 reference. That was handled really poorly.
TKACIK: Ohhhhh DMT is that near-death experience drug!
RIGGS: Whaaaa? Like, you had one? Or people are having them?
TKACIK: No I just know a guy who has some in his apartment, he says. But not like a lab or anything.
RIGGS: Oh god, we should do a story on his drugs. or you should! I think I am more worried about a tsunami destroying petworth than I am about a near-death experience with DMT
TKACIK: Oh it’s one of the big goals I have for the City Paper is for us to apply more “immersion journalism” techniques to stories about drugs.
RIGGS: Once, during Average Sex Day, Cherkis tried to get me to fuck myself with a dildo He said it was like uh, that music writer the guy who wrote “A Whore Just Like The Rest” ANYWAY You should start with this DMT stuff
TKACIK: I kind of feel like living in DC makes me feel so exceptionally close to death already, though… Maybe DMT is the answer.
RIGGS: I feel like I am dying of old age That’s how D.C. makes me feel which is too bad, because it has the best el salvadoran food
TKACIK: OKay heeeere is something I did not know, from a cover story I had no desire to read about the possibility of a “President Palin”: her approval rating is 22%. Am I right that that is statistically significantly-significantly lower than Nancy Pelosi‘s 29% rating I was reading about on Politico’s little consensusy version of the Harpers index you Tweeted about earlier this morning? Oh, and here is that stupid awful story.
RIGGS: I read that story this morning. Two things I found weird: One, that Obama is scared of Doomberg. Two: That Palin has only a 22% rating! That is insane! Why are republicans so scared of her?
TKACIK: Actually, it is remarkably sane, all things considered.
RIGGS: Oh, right, because you would have to be insane to want the woman running around with a nuclear football
TKACIK: More people think Obama is a wahabi muslim than approve of Sarah Palin? Only about two and a half times as many Americans as those who believe Obama cut taxes, believe Sarah Palin merits “approval” in her performance as a…mother of a popular Dancing With The Stars contestant and bestselling “author”?
RIGGS: So, you’re saying 22% is both too low and too high! At the same time? OR WAIT I think I’ve got it: We should have an approval threshold. After a topic polls “this high,” the rest of the media will start paying it real attention
TKACIK: Well, I bet like 62.3% of Americans believe she still has a job, just not in their state
RIGGS: She does have a job! She’s a leather jacket model and a professional speaker. She’s just not in government anymore. Although you’d think she was Queen Shit on Turd Island after reading Jonathan Martin‘s completely anonymously sourced Palin article from last week Four pages, and not a single on the record quote! That is fear, Moe. Pure fear. And her, with only 22%! I don’t think I understand politics.
TKACIK: so does that (NEW RELAUNCHED) NationalJournal story say whether their increased recruitment in Afghanistan and lower attrition problems (except in the south) have anything to do with narcotics, bags of cash, anything like that? Because I assume if it did the NationalJournal would definitely not mention it until the like 18th paragraph.
RIGGS: Um, yes, drugs There is lots of drug use also, there are good salaries Which is a big problem in Central Asia! Neopatrimonialism (I used a big word!) And notice that the bottom of the story says Afghan forces are suffering huge attrition rates in parts of the country where people are actually fighting
TKACIK: Wow also, this is fascinating: the Kafkaesque status of federal workers who technically work for private contractors is scuttling the EEOC complaint of a male CACI employee who claims that while working under contract in Afghanistan he was subject to sexual harassment at the hands of a female CIA superior! Jeez, I wonder if that is a trend story!
RIGGS: That is probably happening everywhere, and we don’t even know about it! Women sexually harassing men!
TKACIK: Right, in Afghanistan especially!
RIGGS: Jesus, why do we get so worked up over battlefield rape of women? What about the MEN?
TKACIK: Where’s your cover story on that one, TIME Magazine?
RIGGS: Also, can we just say-hands down- that any time there’s any question about whether a private company or the government should field complaints about sexual assault, corruption, intimidation, or other criminal nastiness? That the answer should always, always, always be government? I know that’s a totally un-libertarian thing to say, but military contractors have a really poor track record when it comes to solving issues in-house
TKACIK: Oh Jesus was this one too hot for Hiatt you think: America’s Worst Politician — Alan Grayson
RIGGS: I just came a little when I saw that Alan Grayson hed. I really can’t stand the guy.
TKACIK: um…worst? also, ew.
RIGGS: Yeah, sorry. That was inappropriate. I think we probably dislike him for different reasons?
TKACIK: Grayson is one politician I don’t actually think is “the worst”
RIGGS: See, I don’t even rank them.
I call all of them “the worst.”
TKACIK: Oh and George Will can’t even make a whole column about it so he switches to Crist-bashing halfway through.
RIGGS: I didn’t read the second page.I just like the George Will story about how pencils are made. that’s pretty much the only thing I’ve read all the way through.
So, with elections just [INSERT # OF DAYS] away, who’s your nominee for worst politician ever? /right now? I am going to vote for Jerry Brown! Because he is against weed
TKACIK: Um what is Meg Whitman‘s supposed position on weed? That if she had introduced her son to pot instead of gin maybe he wouldn’t have become such a prolific rapist?
RIGGS: For some reason I doubt that is her position. BUT IT COULD BE. the weed lobby totally loves that line of reasoning. weed is safer, alcohol makes young boys into killers, etc.
TKACIK: Edgar Bronfman agrees with you, interestingly.
RIGGS: Lots of people do! This debate is already over. Some people are just catching up/ And the weed people are putting them into the maze and luring them to the cheese
TKACIK: I am still a little shellshocked from being here and am thus still in habit of concentrating my ire on guys like David J. Stern so I am going to have to think on that one.
RIGGS: Ha! That’as funny that you mention Stern. Some of my florida friends work for him in his foreclosure mills. Also, I saw his mansion on a boat tour of Ft. Lauderdale once $65 to ride around on a goddamn boat and hear about David Stern’s utility bills which run $4,000 a month!
TKACIK: I tend to think that if more Dems were like Jerry Brown and Alan Grayson, more of Americans at the very least would know about guys like Stern.