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Dynamite the Nobels

By Michael J. Smith on Sunday October 9, 2011 10:17 PM

So the Nobel Peace Prize, that old whore, has given herself this year to an alumna of Harvard, the World Bank, Citibank, and HSBC: namely Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whom NPR calls the "first democratically elected female president of an African country". This highly-qualified endorsement needs some unpacking, of course. I glossed it for an old friend of mine as follows: The first female president of an African country of whom 'the West' approves.

Sirleaf's bio is a Harvard B-school case study in opportunism. One really has to admire anything done well.

I may have mentioned earlier that I was a prisoner of NPR the last few days, and one of the credentials NPR offered for Sirleaf was a clip of her addressing a joint session of the US Congress. Now of course simply the fact of having been invited to stand before that pullulating snakepit of hardened criminals is discreditable enough; but what's worse is that they loved her. Baying and howling and applauding and leaping to their feet every time she paused for breath -- you'd have thought she was an Israeli prime minister.

In other, related news, the Nobel lit prize went to a Swede named Transformer, or something like that. The Transformers; less than meets the eye.

NPR solemnly recited several lengthy excerpts from the laureat's work. Perhaps they weren't really all that lengthy, but they certainly seemed lengthy -- I had to tack twice during one of them. True story. Or as true a story as you're ever going to hear from a sailor, anyway.

Apparently Transformer is a great friend of Robert Bly; and less salubrious company would be hard to find. Apart from the US Congress, of course.

This sort of thing is so easy to parody, but why bother? An example of the real thing:

A lamasery
with hanging gardens.
Battle pictures.

Thoughts stand unmoving
like the mosaic tiles
in the palace yard.

Up along the slopes
under the sun – the goats
were grazing on fire.

On the balcony
standing in a cage of sunbeams –
like a rainbow.

Humming in the mist.
There, a fishing-boat out far –
trophy on the waters.

And colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Goats grazing on fire? I pity the goatherd tonight. Thoughts... stand? Unmoving? Oh what twaddle. Give me Colley Cibber any day.

Well, maybe it's better in Swedish.

Comments (13)


An alumna of Harvard...whom NPR calls the "first democratically elected female president of an African country".

Reminds me of what NPR said—without a hint of irony—about another house negro fast-tracked to the Executives' floor:

Spotted by a Ford Foundation talent scout at the Sierra Leone conference, Annan soon had a full scholarship to Macalester College, a small, liberal arts college in St. Paul.

Almost makes one nostalgic for the days when talent scouts were giving to scanning visiting delegates for the appropriate 'Big Man' type.


Ms. Sirleaf has an election coming up and it's rumored she wishes to reward those past plaudits(Congressional Ovations) by providing a cozy home for US AFRICOM in Liberia. Nobel Committee loves leaders who facilitate "explosive" US/NATO "humanitarianism".


The swede bankers have out done your lot
They are nobel-ing the most fatuous rat- ex oracle of all
A man that can stand in nicely for the full generation of harbor seals
That choired us to the present hi fi light house
planetary ship wreck


This bare fact this single choice
Of senor sargent of nyu
rises well beyond the most self infatuated satirist's


The worst Nobel, the angels did say,
Was the peace prize awarded to Henry the K.


Robert Frost
all sunny warm
with a little
Hemmingway in the
blue distance
and only miles
to go before
heck I don't know what
maybe darkness


Have you ever thought of turning off NPR?


I turn it off all the time. But when I'm sailing by myself, I seem to need something to pass the time. All the other radio choices are so much worse, unless I can find some religious station where a deep exegesis of the Epistle to the Romans is going on.

I have considered satellite radio. Are the choices really much better?

It's a little bit like newspapers; I loathe the New York Times but if I'm going to read a newspaper, it's either going to be that or Le Monde.

Besides, NPR is the perfect venue for hearing adulatory drivel about the Nobel Prizes, which are surely the merit-class SangreaL.


Best reaction to winning a Nobel - or any award, for that matter:



In stead of a post
A comment

I have now firmly decided
The best move is to leave Barry be
Let him slug it out with the whomever GOP candidate
In fact I'll probably vote for him

If one is to dabble in
ballot boxing at all
I suggest state referenda
And defeating more blue dogs
By running a Indy to his or her left

Talk about a populist progressive type third party
with it's cap set on Mass support and ballot boxing
not a cadre aiming itself at
Movement intervention
strikes me as a sanctimonious waste
Worthy of a trot


Sirleaf needs Prince Johnson's support to win re-election!

Maybe if he asks nice, he can share her Nobel?

Maybe if she asks nice, he will share one of Samuel Doe's severed body parts?

Fair trade!

Satire, like property, becomes impossible.


not a very satirical beach Roland
but yes prince y johnson has the
power to swing it though i think
he's pretendenting to
take sirleafs side rather than
tubman, seems to be wellcoming
With all with all these folks in
Monrovia they could have a BBQ.

Doe's body parts were eaten

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