too dumb for New York, too ugly for L.A.

Although recently talk of “accountability” and “change” has engorged the sails of political blather in Washington like a giant erection, the plan to shut down Guantánamo while simply spreading the detainees around to different prisons around the world, as if Guantánamo’s particular genius loci had any intrinsic importance, puts me in mind of those McDonald’s McCafé commercials where coffee makes people feel better about their menial and/or degrading tasks. I have visions of CIA agents electrocuting the nads of some Iraqi car thief to gain information about the movements of the Taliban in western Pakistan–“torture.” Then, the same scene, but now with the agents holding mochas with whipped cream–“torturé!”

The reform impulse isn’t necessarily completely insincere; I doubt even the CIA agents imagined that their training would consist of a kind of bizarro reverse medical school. But the fact that the government apparently doesn’t plan on prosecuting anyone important enough to actually give a real order reminds us that the wheels of justice conform to the same rules that 18-wheelers do at the interstate weigh stations: how much you pay depends on how much weight you have to throw around. Lord knows we’ve seen that monogamy, the amusing idea that the blind wildfire of love should be directed with the precision, stability and exclusivity of property rights, is about the only principle in the name of which they are willing to call the headest of honchos to account. I suspect this is largely because, with the exception perhaps of a few of D.C.’s costliest and most decorated hookers, this kind of scandal only implicates the individual target, rather than the entire political class. The relative infrequency of other kinds of scandal is probably because the warring factions are only once in a while able to unearth shady dealings of their rivals that don’t involve their own side as well.

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