Rife with Contradiction
· 11 March 2007 ·

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The appended initials may as well stand for District of Contradiction. And lo in the Land of Rand McNally, the hamburgers ran around eating people.

For starters, the morning broke into light flurries of snow. Not too frigid, even teetering into gorgeous, yet “unusual for this late in winter,” said a seasoned Hill staffer.

“Sure,” I lamented. “But so is seventy degree weather on January sixth.” (I turned 21 that day in a t-shirt. Somewhere, Al Gore is cackling knowingly, maniacally.)

“True,” she says. Dusting snow flakes off my coat, I crack open the newspaper to get a look at what’s at the top of the day’s agenda. And government, ever deciding to strike while the irony’s hot, gives me a hearing on global warming. In the March snow. So it goes.

Then, right before lunch, the King of Jordan came to address a Joint Session (both the House and Senate). There was a body builder’s worth of political muscle in the room; so much muscle, in fact, that if a crippling disaster befell DC, we would’ve had to appoint, well, Couch Guy Dave. I went. The House Gallery was packed with other gladhanding folks, myself among their ilk, vying for a chance to see a head of state.

The King was a class act—sharp houndstooth coat with an English accent to boot—and his speech went along unhitched. For half an hour, King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein of Jordan spoke about peace in the Middle East straightforwardly, not bothering to bloviate the customary words of political pleasantries. I walked out brooding on the world’s troubles, bent outta shape a little more than regular, but marginally hopeful.

Sunset comes, I don my hat Prohibition-style and get ready to wrap it up for the day when, as fortune would portend, a spectacled civil servant (they all look alike) enters to drop off an invitation.

“Evenin’,” he says. He’s from the Army and he’s conducting some sort of demonstration for training infantry. It’s going on right now, involves computers, and it’s at a shooting range in the building’s basement. I didn’t even know there was a shooting range in the basement. The irony is really sizzling now. And so I go.

The Army had designed a frighteningly realistic computer game—replete with weighty, life-like M16s—that takes you through marksmanship and even a simulated insurgent camp plastered on wall-size projection screens. There was even a lawmaker drawing a bead on “bad guys” in the pixelated streets of Baghdad.

Erupted the Texan Republican: “I got him in the (towel)head!”

There was a Special Ops officer strutting around in uniform, grunting “cool, huh,” laying claims to tumbling around a blue screen wearing a suit covered in white balls. He was stoked to be immortalized as the actual model for that last grisly animation where the insurgent peppered with slugs slumps down the desert hillside. I couldn’t understand how he was sluffing off the intensity of this whole charade and then remembered the phrase “Get Some!” Nor did I have the nerve to tell him that for anyone that has dabbled in Half-Life: Counterstrike, Army gaming technology is well over ten years behind.

Anyhow, whereas the King’s speech was political muscle, this event was plain meathead.

A late snowstorm during a global warming hearing and a brazenly violent Army event right after passionate speech on peace is much too sarcastic to ignore. Let’s face it, if this is how things are going, watch out for the hungry hamburgers.

Written by Izak Elvrum


  1. Philip Ashlock    Mar 15, 12:43 AM    #