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June 27, 2006

Reality: The Satiric Exaggeration Of Satire

I've been told by some people who saw Dr. Strangelove when it came out in 1964 that they didn't find it funny at all. It didn't seem like satiric exaggeration to them. It seemed like a straightforward representation of reality.

I'm not sure they were right. Not because it was an exaggeration, though—but because the reality was actually WORSE than the movie.

In Dr. Strangelove, General Buck Turgidson (the George C. Scott character) was supposedly based on Curtis LeMay, who headed the Strategic Air Command during the fifties. LeMay was notoriously insane, known for musing about nuking the Russians for no reason so they'd be "condemned to an agrarian existence perhaps for generations to come." Now, here's the famous exchange where Turgidson advises the president to launch a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union:

GENERAL TURGIDSON: Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless distinguishable, postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed.

PRESIDENT: You're talking about mass murder, General, not war!

GENERAL TURGIDSON: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

Ha ha ha! No more than ten to twenty million killed, tops!

But when Dr. Strangelove was released, LeMay was no longer head of SAC. His successor was Gen. Thomas Power, who was so crazy he scared EVEN LeMay. Here's something Power said in 1960 about nuclear war:

"The whole idea is to kill the bastards...At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win."

That's why I say that to understand reality, you have to take satire and then wildly exaggerate it.

Posted at June 27, 2006 08:16 AM | TrackBack

I say we open our borders to Mexicans and anybody else with brown skin who wants to come....then there'll be like one BILLION Americans and, um, 150 million Russians or something. AND THEN WE'LL WIN!

I wonder what the general would think of my idea?

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at June 27, 2006 09:59 AM

But...the problem is them...BROWN...people are objectively pro-terrorist. Or at least, pro-communist. Or...something other than true blue, genocidal white-chosen people American.

Posted by: Brian Miller at June 27, 2006 10:07 AM

People thought Network was too over the top when it was released. Oh, if only they were still right...

Posted by: Dan Coyle at June 27, 2006 10:30 AM

that's hysterical (and frightening)

Posted by: Love at June 27, 2006 10:51 AM

I heard once the writer of Network, Paddy Chayefsky, was complemented for his incredible work of satire. He responded, "It isn't a satire."

I know he has said:
"I still write realistic stuff. It's the world that's gone nuts, not me. It's the world that's turned into a satire."

Posted by: nerpzilla at June 27, 2006 11:34 AM

So Power gets his "win" and we end up with 2 male Americans. Straight, gay, it doesn't matter and 1 Russian male. Sometimes winning isn't the only thing. In that scenario humans are de facto extinct.

I find it interesting (right word?) that many things tinfoil hat crazy just a few years ago are now fact. The insane really are in charge of the asylum.

Posted by: SPIIDERWEBâ„¢ at June 27, 2006 07:13 PM

So Power gets his "win". We're left with 2 male Americans. Straight, gay, it doesn't matter. And 1 male Russian. Sometimes winning isn't everything. In this scenario humans are de facto extinct.

It really seems the insane are running the asylum.

Posted by: SPIIDERWEBâ„¢ at June 27, 2006 07:18 PM

Thanks for the link to the essay on war, really a good read.

It has a lot of relevance to our own cocky, smarmy little man of a leader who has threatened to use nuclear bombs in Iran.

I have to read it again to soak it all up but one point I thought was interesting was that since the vast majority of wars have always been on foreign soil Americans don't have a real concept of what is entailed other than the soldiers who get sent into them.

And it is so true that WWII is seen by many as the good war when Americans were true patriots and men were men and all that good stuff. However it should be noted that until the event of Pearl Harbor most Americans did not want to get involved in WWII. That little tidbit usually gets glossed over or really rarely mentioned.

But then we have always been subject to propaganda of many sorts. Not the least being the propaganda machine known as Hollywood who has cranked out countless WWII movies with actors like John Wayne who was never actually in a war. Most of these movies enshrine war tempering it with little bits of profundity which usually gets washed out by the greater good of it all.

Today Hollywood with some exceptions still likes to crank out propaganda with movies that turn violence into something grand and exciting though it is really not so grand when you witness real violence it is just ugly really.

The point about leaders not having elevators that don't ever reach the top floor is an interesting one as well. George Bush has told us God speaks to him. Now if most of us went around saying that we would end up in the rubber room sooner or later but not George. George seems to be able to say things like that with impunity. Frankly I do think we have a madman in the Whitehouse.

Posted by: rob payne at June 27, 2006 11:14 PM

When I saw the title of the post, I figured you'd be writing about CNN's and CNBC's spending several hours today debating whether the New York Times committed treason by reporting on a program that had been previously announced many times by the U.S. government. The good news is that while satirists need go to bed, reality keeps pumping out the jokes day and night.

Posted by: hedgehog at June 28, 2006 02:08 AM

After the general scuffled with the Russian ambassaodor for using a secret camera to take pictures of the 'big board', the President responds "Gentlemen! You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!" Even if our present day Neander-Cons fight to the death in their own War Room with the Enemy-of-the-Day and Rummie is the only one left, we still don't win!

My pappy was a 20 year veteran from the WWII and Korea Era. This gave him a profound knowledge of America's war-time politicians with their jingoistic terminology. He said, "It doesn't matter if they change the name to Defense. It will always be the War Department."

Posted by: americanintifada at June 28, 2006 03:49 AM


An interesting comment, yesterday Bush and Cheney attacked the Times for printing the story about the secret program for monitoring bank accounts of private citizens. It is the same old crap about jeopardizing the war on terror and how we should give up all our rights and freedom so that Bush can save us from terrorists. The question is who will save us from Bush?

Posted by: rob payne at June 28, 2006 03:58 AM

Rob Payne asks: 'Who will save us from Bush?'

Absolutely nobody! Fearless Leader's abusive misuse of 'signing statements' has allowed him to negate the Constitution. Congress has pitifully bowed down to His Majesty. The pathetic bleating of Kerry and his company of spineless toadies today is much too little and comes far too late.

This coming July 4th, when Americans gather to celebrate 230 years of Independence for a once proud representative republic, it will already have been officially and ignominiously terminated. It was signed away by Bush with no statements of dissent from Congress, the Supreme Court or the alleged free press.

The Constitution is Dead! Long Live the King!!!

Posted by: americanintifada at June 28, 2006 04:30 AM


It is just like they say, you deserve the government you get.

Posted by: rob payne at June 28, 2006 04:58 AM

Rob Payne,

I don't know to whom you refer when using 'they' but I heard the phrase initially by Adlai Stevenson as: "In a democracy people get the government they deserve." Unfortunately, the American people have been buying into that elitist 'democracy' nonsense and have long forgotten that this was supposed to be a representative republic.

I didn't vote for these Same Old Party hacks and will never throw my precious vote away by voting for Republicans or Democrats. The amount of times the word 'democracy' can be found in the Constitution is equal to the collective IQ level of all Bush supporters: Zero!!!

Posted by: americanintifada at June 28, 2006 05:30 AM


Look at it this way, the republicans hold the Whitehouse they hold congress and the Supreme Court. The democrats are absolutely powerless. They are the minority in government. Bush can essentially have his way and the democrats can't do a bloody thing about it other than be the opposition party which is all they are right now. I actually agree with everything you say but when the democrats are as powerless as they are now it is rather pointless to bash them. The republicans and news media are already doing that in a very dishonest manner, besides it is more fun to bash the republicans. Part of the reason for the democrat bashing is the republicans don't want to lose control. The strategy behind the bashing is to do two things which would be one, discourage democrats from voting and two, getting potential swing voters to vote republican by accusing democrats of cutting and running and all that kind of good stuff. The democrats are not perfect but they are certainly not as bad as the republicans and the news media make them out to be.

Posted by: rob payne at June 28, 2006 03:38 PM


In the words of that infamous American philosopher, Eric Cartman: 'Democrats piss me off!' There is no difference between the two parties. The proof is on John Kerry's finger since he wears the same Bonesman ring sported by Der Fuhrer. Stop buying into this Same Old Party system! Clixxon was no different except for the fact that he called his Dirty Little Crusade a 'humanitarian campaign'. Just a matter of semantics, I guess. That insanity is still ongoing, but nobody seems to care.

Posted by: americanintifada at June 29, 2006 12:06 AM


I think we actually agree on more than we disagree on for example you say the democrats piss you off and they piss me off as well. But why do they piss us off? The answer of course is they have not been living up to our expectations. You are obviously against waging wars just as I am against waging wars.

Clinton represents what some have called the new democrats, I call them watered down republicans and the reason I call them that is they are willing to be backed by the same corporate special interests that back the Republican Party. Hillary is part of the DLC and she is pro war which is no coincidence.

War is a big deal but as big a deal as it is there is more than just that one consideration. There is the Supreme Court plus a whole slew of social issues that are extremely important such as the ecology, deregulation of industry which has led to the magnified corruption in government and the exporting of jobs overseas. And of course this is where Clinton showed his true colors by supporting NAFTA which we are still living with and which gave birth to other so-called trade agreements although they really are not trade agreements at all.

I think it is true that since the Clinton years that the belt-way democrats have been becoming more and more like republicans but as the republicans have failed on every single front of governing on the domestic front as well as on international issues I think there is a chance that this new democrat Clintonian thing can be turned around. After all the whole reason for the new democrat is that the majority believed that conservatism was better than liberalism but I think that is changing. Granted it won’t happen overnight or maybe not at all but more people are seeing that when the conservatives have all the power their policies have failed on every single front and issue. So ask yourself this, if republican conservatism is the complete failure that it has been shown to be why should the democrats remake themselves in the image of republicans? It is no longer makes any sense that they should do this.

Posted by: rob payne at June 29, 2006 01:38 AM


Stop apologizing for the Same Old Parties and vote all of these rascals out! If you're still voting for Democrats, there is no chance for any change in the status quo. Stop accepting the idea that a two-party system is the only way. Ah, but I digress without an actual cause nowadays especially since the Constitution doesn't exist anymore and we are now trampled assunder by jack-booted thugs.

See you in Diego Garcia!

Posted by: americanintifada at June 29, 2006 02:58 AM


Ah hell you may be right I am sure no expert. If I ever become an expert just shoot me but promise you will do a better job of it than Cheney. Never drink and shoot.

Posted by: rob payne at June 29, 2006 03:26 AM


I promise never to drink and shoot...unless I end up in Texas. If that ever happens, I'll shoot myself!!!

Posted by: americanintifada at June 29, 2006 04:01 AM