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A Proportional Response

A well-placed source provided FDL with a document purporting to be a memo from Obama to his senior staff, drafted yesterday after the press conference. I have been unable to independently confirm its authenticity, as trying to do so would reveal my source — and we all know how well the WH likes leakers. The memo’s goal is to take the fight to North Korea in a new and different manner than has been done before.


TO:WH Senior Staff


RE: A Proportional Response to North Korea

OK, the press conference went well, especially the “you launch an attack like this over a Seth Rogen movie?” line of critique. But that shouldn’t be a one-off. We need to aggressively move forward in this same vein. We already have good people working on cyberdefense and such technology-based things; what we lack is an agency that can effectively attack folks like the North Koreans in non-technological ways.

At 6pm ET on December 31st, I want to announce the creation of a new agency within the DOD: the Defense Emergency Repertory Players [DERP]. The mission of this agency is to be prepared to immediately respond with ridicule, scorn, and parody, skewering the pomposity of our enemies and using their insecurities against them. Just as DARPA is charged with preparing for and responding to technological surprises, DERP will work on political and psychological surprises.

In other words, we want to battle derp with DERP.

Several names come to mind as people to approach to serve as the first director of DERP, like Mel Brooks, Lily Tomlin, Elaine May, Carol Burnett, and Steve Martin. Whoever heads up DERP needs to have a strong background in comedy, directing, and producing, with a keen grasp of the power of parody and satire. The DERP director should be a “big picture” person, able to make an immediate connection with the American people outside of DERP and also motivate the agency staff within DERP from top to bottom.

[In the language of the entertainment world, this person is really a producer. But since this is the DOD, and all the parallel DOD agencies have directors as their heads, that’s what we’ve got to go with for the agency head’s title. The real director in the Hollywood sense will be the agency’s deputy director — more on that below. But the DOD is used to double titles (see the Navy’s use of “captain” to refer to the person in charge of a vessel and not a rank, and the linguistic gymnastics required to avoid confusion when multiple people with that rank are on board at the same time) so I don’t expect this to be a problem at the DOD. But I digress.]

While there are various people to head up DERP, there can be only one choice for the deputy director, however: Stephen Colbert. He’s got time on his hands at the moment, and I intend to call him to tell him that his country needs him — at least for the next six months or whenever his new gig at CBS begins. Imagine what Colbert could do if he were tasked with skewering not the President and WH Press Corps (a target-rich environment, if ever there was one) but Kim Jung Un, Vladimir Putin, and others like them.

Colbert should have a free hand in selecting his Assistant Directors, but he might want to think of folks like Wanda Sykes, Tina Fey, and Mark Fiore. Music should not be neglected, and someone of like John McCutcheon should be found to make sure musical weapons are brought to bear. We need to cast a wide net, to bring together a crew of satirists and comedians that is second to none.

So here’s what I want by next Wednesday:

(1) Put together an executive order for my signature with all the appropriate official language that will get this agency off the ground.

(2) Reach out to the junior Senator from Minnesota to ensure that we have legislative support for this action. To the extent that we will need legislative action, work through Franken to get it.

(3) Immediately approach our DOD counterparts around the world to get them started on working with our allies to set up similar DERPs. For instance, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam gave their final show as Monty Python recently — imagine what NATO could do with a DERP-Europe headed by Cleese.

(4) Get working on a draft of a speech announcing the creation of DERP, to be given at 6pm Eastern on New Year’s Eve. This would be 9am on New Year’s Day in North Korea, and would make a lovely way for Kim Jung Un to welcome in the new year. It also would give Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper some interesting fodder for their Times Square conversations later in the evening.

(5) Begin working on the staffing for DERP. I’ll call Colbert myself to twist his arm. After my visit to his show, he owes me big and I intend to collect. Once he’s on board, we’ll get him to the WH for a meeting to discuss who the Director of DERP should be and to begin assembling his team. Meanwhile, quietly look into the availability and suitability of the various candidates for Director of DERP, and let’s figure out who to approach to head this up.

DERP will not fight with guns and bullets. DERP will not fight with a bomb or ship or missile. The chief weapon of DERP will be fear and surprise. . . . DERP’s two chief weapons will be fear, surprise, and ruthless comedic efficiency . . . DERP’s three — three — chief weapons will be fear, surprise, ruthless comedic efficiency, and a fanatical devotion to the constitution . . . Among DERP’s chief weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless comedic efficiency, and a fanatical devotion to the constitution.

Make it happen, people. Make it happen. People want a proportional response? Fine — let’s put on a show. “We shall fight in the studios. We shall fight on the websites. We shall fight on the smart phones. We shall fight in the theaters. . . . ”


photo h/t to DVIDSHUB and used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

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