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No Trump, Sherlock

« November 2007 »

Memo to the United States Bridge Federation: YOU ARE DUMB.

Hold on a second. Let me check. Is it 2003? Are we all being dazzled by the amazing front-lighting built into the Game Boy Advance SP? Are we, perhaps, anxiously awaiting the premiere of "Arrested Development"? Oh wait, I know. Are we all still caught up in the glorious Operation Iraqi Freedom, thrilling to the exploits of embedded journalists, watching the statue of Saddam Hussein fall and wondering how anybody could have thought this was a lousy idea? No? It's actually going on 2008? Then why the fuck are we still treating George W. Bush as some kind of unassailable idol?

And by "we", I mean the biddies of the USBF, who are having a somewhat disproportionate hissy fit over what is being described as an "anti-Bush" sign held aloft by an American bridge team who had won the apparently prestigious Venice Cup. The six women, all professional bridge players, are facing a heap of trouble for what they have done. Including, I shit you not, sanctions, a one-year suspension, and a visit by one very disappointed Omar Sharif. OK, I shit you a little on that last one.

Their incredibly crass, excessively-partisan breach of professional bridge etiquette? "We did not vote for Bush." Scrawled in ballpoint pen. On the back of a menu. At, I feel compelled to re-emphasize, an awards ceremony for professional bridge players.

Ignore, for the moment, that what they wrote was a factual statement, and is only "anti-Bush" in the mildest possible sense. Give me the back of a menu and a pen, and I guarantee you I can come up with a near-infinite number of more strident signs than that. "BUSH IS A FASCIST TURDMUNCHER." "BUSH LACKS BOTH FORWARD AND BACKWARD FINESSE."* "GEORGE BUSH DOESN'T RAPE PUPPIES - HE HAS PEOPLE WHO DO THAT FOR HIM." Hell, hold the awards ceremony at the Cheesecake Factory. I could transcribe Paul Krugman's last two books on to one of their menus and still have room to mention Dubya's scatophilia.

But ignore all that. What, exactly, is the USBF protecting by going after these women? Why do world-famous bridge players I've never heard of like Robert S. Wolff feel the need to say ridiculous things like "“While I believe in the right to free speech, to me that doesn’t give anyone the right to criticize one’s leader at a foreign venue in a totally nonpolitical event."? A guy who less than a quarter of Americans approve of. A guy who more than half of the country STRONGLY disapproves of. A guy polling worse than Nixon in full flop-sweat, piss-stink, resigning-any-minute-now squalor.

It's not like it was five years ago, when the cowboy was riding high on a tsunami of jingoistic bullshit. Wanting people to know you didn't vote for Bush is like wanting people to know you don't have herpes. A natural and understandable reaction. Hell, it's even more understandable. Herpes is treatable.

And there's no such thing as a "non-political event". Especially not one where teams from all over the world are competing. And doubly especially when, at any given moment, all but one of the people competing are sitting around a table waiting for that one dude to fucking bid already. It's not the American team's fault the rest of the teams kept bugging them about Iraq and torture. It's the fault of the guy who fucked up Iraq and likes to have people tortured.

The organizers are afraid the USBF is going to lose corporate sponsorship over the issue. Which is, I admit, a slightly thorny situation. On the one hand, what company would admit to being so petty as to pull out over such a tiny slight? And on the other hand, what company would want to admit that it had, until recently, been sponsoring professional bridge tournaments? And on the gripping hand, how much money will they really lose if Tag Body Spray takes its ball and goes home?

It just seems strange to me that somewhere, in some boardroom, executives are sitting around demanding bold and forthright action from United States Bridge Federation Jan Martel, action that will ensure that no team ever dares write anything beyond "USA #1 WE HEART DUBYA" on the back of a menu again, lest their corporate brand suffer permanent damage. The only sponsors the USBF mentions in what is a startlingly dickish and long statement on their web page are Microsoft (bastion of conservatism), Generali Group (A European insurance company), and the Chinese government.

That last one is especially funny, considering the various right-wing blog nuts who are taking the opportunity to pile on this "anti-Bush protest". Imagine if they'd actually done the two minute Google search required to find out that they were supporting what is, in essence, an attempt to make sure the Chinese government isn't embarrassed by an expression of political dissent. The cognitive dissonance would put them in a coma for a week if they were at all capable of recognizing it.

*Twenty seconds of Internet research has led me to believe that this joke will be absolutely hilarious to all the advanced and professional bridge players who read this column. If you are one of those people, and this joke was stupid and unfunny to you, don't bother telling me. I will not learn from my mistake.

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