Up Front

Dick Cheney, Dominatrix

As Jan. 20 looms ever closer, vice president Cheney confronts a grim dilemma: He may not be employable. With popularity ratings dipping close to single digits, the contempt of Democrats, independents and Republicans alike, and the reputation as the greatest threat to the Constitution since Madison thought the whole thing up, Cheney is looking at a future that may be confined to vast wealth, political isolation, and the occasional heart attack.

Still, there may be one market yet for the old boy's tricks. In a democratic republic, there are always those who respond positively to one thing with which Cheney has become indissolubly identified: torture. There's every reason to think that a well-provisioned "Dick's Dungeon" could be a growing concern, patronized by aficionados of bondage or water boarding or what have you. For those into verbal abuse, Dick's Dungeon could provide one-on-one sessions with David Addington, the Genghis Khan of the conference room. For legal fetishists, Cheney himself could offer Constitution-shredding sessions, responding to complaints that he's attacking the very essence of America with his signature "So?" For certain specialized staffers at Gitmo and other more obscure facilities, Dick's Dungeon would offer a way to continue to hone their professional skills. It may not quite measure up to the heyday of state-sponsored torture, but for a reviled former vice president, Dick's Dungeon provides Cheney the prospect of remunerative work in a familiar setting as he enjoys his golden years.

Our Fearless Predictions.

Lacking the ability to see into the future, and however confident we may be about one candidate's chances or another's, we at the Prospect have to send this magazine to the printers before we know how the elections turn out. This lack of information, however, won't stop us from prognosticating -- a lack of information rarely does -- about the post-election United States. Herewith, then, a top-10 list of things to come, to help you dry your tears or amplify your joys on Election Day:

10. History made with the election of either the first black president or the first totally unqualified vice president.

9. Self-identifying with partisan groups now limited to sports teams.

8. Commercials about mudslinging now solely about the laundry-detergent brand wars.

7. Journalists, liberated from the substance-free rigors of horse-race coverage, now able to pursue valuable speculation about the 2012 presidential election.

6. Confusing and threatening chain e-mails now limited to attempts to steal your money and identity, not your vote.

5. All Americans now know who our neighbors are: Russia and Iran.

4. Some states will no long--er be important: Alaska and Iowa, we're looking at you.

3. No more need to argue with family members about politics at Thanksgiving, leaving more time for vital questions about aunt's suspected alcoholism and who mother liked best.

2. Recession ends as millions of American workers stop refreshing polling Web sites, start actually doing their jobs.

1. Elected officials in Washington put partisan politics aside and start working for the American people.

Just kidding! Here's the real No. 1:

The election is over!

Beneath the Paranormal.

A person would have to be a full-time hermit not to know that this has been a year of records. There's been Michael Phelps, Magellanic penguins in Brazil, the tanking stock market, the rocketing gas prices ... and last but not least, in both February and September of this year, there's been President Bush's approval rating, which, according to the American Research Group, fell to 19 percent to beat out Truman and Nixon for the all-time low for an American president.

Bush's record-low approval rating invites an obvious question: What else is out there that 19 percent of Americans believe? As it happens, Bush's approval rating is tied with the percentage of Americas who believe that God has spoken to them personally. More Americans believe that extraterrestrials are real and among us (24 percent). More (23 percent) are sure they've seen a ghost.

There must be something that fewer Americans believe in than the merits of Bush's presidency, something that pollsters have simply neglected to ask about. For instance, how many Americans believe they've had beyond-the-grave communications with the late Gabby Hayes? Has to be lower than 43's approval rating, right? Right?

Liking Mike

At his Global Initiative in New York, former President Bill Clinton declared of Gotham Mayor Michael Bloomberg that "there is, in my judgment, no job to be done in America in any area of importance to our future that he would probably not do better than just about anybody else I have ever met."

Which led us to ponder other jobs at which Bloomy might be at the top of the heap. Chef Bloomberg could develop a delicious cuisine devoid of trans-fats. Coach Bloomberg could finally bring some needed stability to the New York Mets. In the age of fashion trends for the tall and slender, Yves Saint-Bloomberg could develop a clothing line for vertically challenged men. And Dear Mike Bloomberg might make a swell personal-advice columnist:

Dear Mike,

My kids are acting up, what should I do?

Mike: Clearly what you need is a direct parental takeover of your children. You should name someone -- perhaps a former Justice Department lawyer -- as chancellor of your kids. And tap their phones.

Dear Mike,

I'm thinking of getting a divorce from my wife of 20 years. I just don't think we're in love anymore, but maybe I'm being impulsive. Should I go ahead and do it or give it a while and see how I feel later?

Mike: In theory, I support term limits. But recently I've changed my mind on the issue. I think it's important to consider that we're in a financial crisis and so keeping her aboard might be the best option.

So with limitless options, per Clinton, why is Renaissance Man Mike trying to change the law so he can keep on doing what he's doing? Could it be ego? Does he like the subway route that much?

Parody by T.A. Frank

new york craigslist > manhattan > general for sale

[Wed, 29 Oct 15:26:45]

Private jet, mint condition. Runs perf. Must see 2 believe. 0.78 mpg. Buyer pays to remove Lehman logo. pic

Signed Damien Hirst bird shit. $1 million. Reduced from $4 million. Act fast. Will not last. pic

Earn money punching my ex-boss Richard Fuld in the face. 50 bucks per hit. No limit to number.

Devoted trophy mistress seeks new friend. Please do not work in finance. I enjoy the companionship of bankruptcy lawyers, tenured professors, and federal government employees. (Dissipated French counts will also be considered.) pic

Offering multiple reservations at Masa. All of them are for sale by me, because dinner was cancelled. Forever. But I've still got the table. You want it, you sushi-craving parasite? Show me how much. Serious offers only, please.

I am writing this in secret. Please help me. There is a credit-default swap in my living room. I am alone and do not know what it plans to do.

Two great kids, female (7) and male (5), are being offered as a pair for sale. Nannies had to be let go, and joy of parenting is outweighed by unfamiliar new care-giving burden. These children are both healthy, housebroken, and have great growth potential. Truly a rare opportunity. pic

Recent Senior Vice President of Derivatives Marketing seeking work in shipping, retail, agriculture, law, journalism, food processing, automobiles, or whatever the hell it is that you people out there do.

Selling Iceland. Everything must go. Great little country.

T.A. Frank is an Irvine Fellow at the New America Foundation.

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