Friday, August 31, 2007

An attack for liberty

A bunch of Bush interviews and events from yesterday and today got dumped on the White House website today. This is grueling.

First, a roundtable yesterday with various foreign press, about the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. “It’s an interesting setting, when you have people from different cultures, different languages come together for a common purpose.” Really, the whole concept of people with different cultures who speak different languages is always such a surprise to him.

He’s looking forward to the summit. “Opportunity for me to continue to talk about the struggle between radicalism and reasonableness, between extremism and people that want to live in peace.” Reasonableness.

What else is he looking forward to? “I’m looking forward to reminding people that I take the climate change issue seriously... those of us who are emitters will be there”.

What else? “And this will be an opportunity for me to remind our friends at the table that this is the call of our time, and that we have an opportunity to write a hopeful chapter here in the beginning of the 21st century, and to thank people around the table for understanding this is the call of the time, because there’s been a lot of constructive engagement and good work all aimed at protecting ourselves from short-term attack”.

WHAT DOES HE VIEW CHINA AS? Well, “it’s hard to define the relationship in kind of a simple, one-sentence structure.” Harder for some people than for others. But, “I view China as an opportunity.”

HOW DOES HE VIEW TRADE? “I view it as an -- I view all of us contribute, so long as the world doesn’t slip into protectionism.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “And from a personal perspective, have got warm and cordial relationships with President Hu Jintao. I like him; I like to talk to him. He’s a smart man. We can share issues together. I can say, what are your biggest problems, and he can say to me, what are your problems. In other words, we’ve got a personal relationship.”

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING WHAT LEADERS DO: “And that’s the way I try to do with all leaders, because the best diplomacy is when you can sit down with somebody one-on-one and speak candidly about issues and problems. We’re problem solvers. See, that’s what leaders do.”

Also, there’s a lot of that Putin-eye-looking-into thing: “And as I told you, a lot of foreign policy for me is the capacity to just look at somebody in the eye and tell them what I think, and listen to what they think.”

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING WHAT MURDER IS: “In terms of -- murder is murder, and murder to achieve political objectives is -- needs to be stopped.”

EVIDENTLY THERE’S A WEIRD-ASS DEBATE GOING ON: He continued, “People murdered Americans to achieve a political objective. There’s a debate in our country whether that’s true or not. I’ve made up my mind. I believe it’s absolutely fundamentally true”.

He kept saying that “in the Muslim world, it’s very important for people to understand that the war on terror is not a war against Muslims, it’s a war against murderers. I don’t believe religious people, truly religious people kill the innocent. At least that’s not the religion I believe in.” During that last sentence, he seems to have forgotten that he’s not a Muslim. You’d think it would be easy to remember which religion you claim to believe in.

DISPEL FALSE NOTION AND REINFORCE THE REALTIES: “And any chance we have to dispel false notion and to reinforce the realities is helpful to the United States, and frankly others, as well.”

He said of the invasion of Afghanistan, “This wasn’t an attack on Islam; this was an attack for liberty.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “Unfinished business is North Korea. It’s -- let me just say, it is finishing. In other words, we’re making progress.”

I’ve been cutting back on the number of Bush subject-verb disagreements I quote, but how little attention do you have to pay to how people speak for this to come out of your mouth: “The six-party talks is working”?

IN OTHER WORDS: “And as John Abizaid put it, to think the enemy will stay there and not follow us here is -- in other words, we leave before the job is done, they will follow us home.”

What I like about these press conferences with foreign reporters is that some of them actually expect him to know stuff:

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. My next question would touch on Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

THE PRESIDENT: About what?

Q: Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, right, right.

A reporter informed him that Malaysia is about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence (although it included Singapore in those days). Bush started dictating copy:

THE PRESIDENT: Fiftieth. Make sure my congratulatory remarks get in your article. Headline: Bush congratulates Malaysia. (Laughter.) Do you think that’s what it will say?

Q: Something like that.

He even proved that he read part of the flash card about Malaysia:

THE PRESIDENT: Secondly, I respect Prime Minister Badawi, admire his leadership. When his wife died I tried to call him early just to let him know I cared about him.

Q: He has remarried.

THE PRESIDENT: Has he? Good. I’ll congratulate him. Thanks for giving me that heads-up. Don’t put that in the article that you had to tell me that. You can put it in there if you want. (Laughter.) I’ll be glad to -- I’m going to congratulate him. That’s neat.

MR. WILDER: You did, sir.


MR. WILDER: You did congratulate him.

THE PRESIDENT: Exactly. I’m going to congratulate him again. (Laughter.) I’ll double the congratulations. (Laughter.) That’s right, I did write him a note. I forgot. Did I call him or write him a note?

MR. WILDER: You wrote him a note.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s right, yes. Sent him a couple flowers.

Then he did an interview with Australia’s SKY News.

HOW DOES HE VIEW AUSTRALIA’S CONTRIBUTION TO PEACE AND FREEDOM? “And so I view Australia’s contribution to peace and freedom as more than just Iraq. ... I view their contribution as intelligence contributions.”

BACK TO SCHOOL: “And I believe those of us who live in liberty have a responsibility to promote forms of government that deal with what causes 19 kids to get on airplanes to kill 3,000 students.”

He refused to “accept the hypothesis” that the opposition might win the forthcoming Australian elections.

The reporter informed him that the entire city of Sydney will be locked down for his visit to the APEC summit. He said this was the first he’d heard of it and, um, sorry ‘bout that.

Then he did an interview with Japan’s NHK.

HE’S NOT SURE WHAT ANBAR PROVINCE USED TO BE: “Al-Anbar province used to be a safe haven -- not a safe haven, used to be kind of the grounds where it looked like al Qaeda was going to be the predominant force, and now we’ve got them on the run. And so there’s been success in the security.”

THE DREAD DOUBLE “IN OTHER WORDS” (AND A WORD DEFINED): “At the grass roots level, in other words at the local level, when people feel secure, they start asking questions about what does it take to create peace so their families can grow up peacefully. In other words, when the thugs get removed and people start saying, I’ve got a different attitude, that’s called reconciliation.”

Today he gave a little talk on the sub-prime-loan thing. Sigh. Boy, am I tired right now. What say I do just a little bit of blogging on it now, and a lot more in a couple of years?

“See, it’s easy for me to stand up here and talk about refinancing -- some people don’t even know what I’m talking about.” Imagine that.

MAKING THE MORTGAGE INDUSTRY MORE TRANSPARENT, AND THIS SENTENCE NOT SO MUCH: “the federal government is taking a variety of actions to make the mortgage industry more transparent, more reliable and more fair, so we can reduce the likelihood that these kind of lending problems won’t happen again.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “We’re pursuing wrongdoing and fraud in the mortgage industry through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and other agencies. In other words, if you’ve been cheating somebody we’re going to find you and hold you to account.”


Q: Sir, what about the hedge funds and banks that are overexposed on the sub-prime market? That’s a bigger problem. Have you got a plan?


In the afternoon, he announced that Tony Insert-Snow-Related-Pun-Here is retiring and will be replaced by Dana Peroxide. I speak for bloggers everywhere when I say, Thank you, George. Perino, he claimed, “is a smart, capable person who is able to spell out the issues of the day in a way that people listening on TV can understand. She can handle you all.”

And vice versa.


Q: How do you feel about losing everybody?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all.

Finally, there was a Labor Day message, which noted that “Our country’s economy is built on the hard work and ingenuity of the American people” and said that “On Labor Day, we honor the hard work and dedication of the men and women of our workforce.”

Maybe it was in anticipation of Labor Day, but in the interviews I’ve cited here, he used the phrase “hard work” quite often. So what is hard work?
“we have to be in a position to work collaboratively and bilaterally to convince countries that in order to be a part of the international world, you have to honor contract, and one contract is you don’t steal somebody else’s intellectual property. That’s hard work.”

“One of the things that this administration has done in working with our friends is to work hard to explain to people the beneficial nature of trading together.”

“I have worked hard to develop bilateral relations in such a way that we can achieve strategic objectives.”

“we need to do the hard work necessary so we can have peace in the long term for children growing up both in the United States and Australia.”

“And I will end up dealing with whomever and work hard to make sure that the Australian and U.S. relationship is good”

“And this administration has worked hard to be in a position to convince others to work together to solve problems.”

Mass disturbances and New Zealand porn

Your commercial of the day, for a New Zealand porn channel. I’m told it contains one or two metaphors for things sexual, but darned if I can spot them.

(h/t Away With Words)

Another Haditha hearing, this one for Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich. Evidently, just a week before the massacre, he was just sittin’ around with his buds, smokin’, and told them that the next time an IED went off, they should kill absolutely everyone in the vicinity.

And they did.

Guantanamo continues to be a black box. For example, Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj, who is on hunger strike in his 6th year of detention without trial, is said by his lawyer to have lost 40 pounds and to be in serious physical shape, and by Gitmo officials to have gained 20 pounds and to be getting downright chubby. Today we hear that there were 385 “mass disturbances” at Guantanamo in the first 6 months of 2007. The military won’t say what that actually means.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Too hot to blog. Talk amongst yourselves.

Must-read: Ed Harriman in the London Review of Books summarizes the state of Iraq.

To make up for the lack of verbiage, here are a couple of other mute animals.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

But a half hour later you feel like censoring again

While we’re all waiting around for Larry Craig to announce that he is resigning the Senate to spend more time with his penis, bloggers and reporters have been enjoying themselves by learning all about the intricacies of gay sex in public places. The Explainer at Slate consulted an anthropologist about the whole foot-tapping thing (and a colorectal specialist, who advised against a wide stance). But has no one gone to the bathroom stall in question with a measuring tape? How wide a stance would be required? In fact, if we can somehow force Craig to re-enact his version of the incident, like Rose Mary Woods demonstrating how she supposedly accidentally erased that Nixon tape, I can die happy.

Jon Carroll, in an otherwise so-so column, suggests that the Bush administration has given us all “stupidity fatigue.”

The Israeli government has ordered that Mariya Amin, the Palestinian girl paralyzed by an Israeli rocket last year (who turns 6 tomorrow), be sent to the West Bank. The medical center in Jerusalem has refused the order. The Israeli Defense Ministry said it would be for her own gosh-darned good to move to “an environment that is natural for her”. I think when you guys destroyed her spine and put her on a ventilator, natural was pretty much taken off the table as an option, you loathsome bastards.

Beijing has introduced two lovable cartoon characters, Jing and Cha,

who will pop up every 30 minutes on the computer screens of anyone using the Internet, as an adorable reminder not to go to any naughty websites, or they will fuck you up. One can also click on them to report such sites.

All right, who’s the smartass who clicked on the picture?

Resilience is what he’d like to define people

Bush did another Katrina event, in Mississippi. He pointed out Tommy Longo. “He’s from Waveland.” Actually, he’s the mayor of Waveland, Mississippi. I think I’ve got you all pretty well trained by now; see if you can spot the inappropriate metaphor in the first sentence of the following quotation, and a familiar phrase in the second:
I’ve always viewed Waveland as a benchmark to determine whether or not this recovery is more than just shallow. In other words, I’ll never forget seeing Waveland as we choppered over Waveland. It was like nothing, it was gone, completely destroyed. And so when I talk to Tommy, I really view Tommy as a barometer and if Tommy is optimistic, I’m going to be optimistic; if Tommy says there is progress, I’m going to say, thanks. And Tommy is okay.
He went on,
The interesting thing about the folks who live in this part of the world, they may have lost their building, but they never lost their soul or their spirit. I think the Senator [Trent Lott] called them -- resilience is what he’d like to define people. I call them optimistic about life.

It’s that spirit, by the way, that is going to allow me to predict with certainty New Orleans’ better days are ahead for the New Orleans people

George Bush is in New Orleans to celebrate all he claims to have done for the people of that town over the last two years. Yay, him! “Of the $114 billion spent so far -- and resources allocated so far, about 80 percent of the funds have been disbursed or available.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “But during that dinner, the Governor expressed her appreciation to the taxpayers of America. In other words, the taxpayers and people from all around the country have got to understand the people of this part of the world really do appreciate the fact that the American citizens are supportive of the recovery effort.”

And he made the second least believable statement by a politician this week: “Laura and I care a lot about the libraries.”

Do you have to ask? The least believable statement was “I am not gay. I never have been gay,” by Larry Craig (R-Third-Stall-on-the-Right).

I’m not hugely in the mood right now, so let’s have an extended caption contest:



The recipient of one of Bush’s famous black-woman-hugs is Gen White. Bush said, “Laura and I have just been given a tour by the Whites in their new home.” Possibly not exactly what he had in mind when asked to be given a tour of the whites’ new homes.





Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Now their argument seems to be security is better, so the surge has failed

Today Bush gave another speech about the Iraq (as I am now calling it) to the annual convention of the American Legion (by my count his third Iraq speech to an American Legion audience this year alone). Evidently he thinks it’s important to win the war there. Who knew?

According to him, no one in the US ever gave a moment’s thought to the Middle East before 9/11: “On September the 11th, 2001, we learned that there’s another region of the world that directly threatens the security of the American people -- and that is the Middle East.” Before then, it was all benign neglect: “For too long, the world was content to ignore forms of government in this region -- in the name of stability.” Actually, we sold guns to the region, propped up its dictators, supported Israel in its every act, sent in the Marines, and conducted covert operations against its few democratically elected leaders. We were far, very far indeed, from “ignoring” forms of government in the Middle East.

He threatened Iran several times. “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.” Confront. By the way, I’ve been meaning to suggest that the talk about declaring the Republican Guards a terrorist organization was intended to pave the way for not according them Geneva Conventions status.

“Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.” I assume the word “holocaust” is his way of alluding to Israel without actually using the word.

“Our allies in the region would be under greater siege by the enemies of freedom.” Greater siege?

“[Terrorist] operations seek to create images of chaos and carnage to break the will of the American people.” Technically they seek to create actual, you know, chaos and carnage. And why is “the will of the American people” always defined in terms of a will to kick some ass? According to the opinion polls, the actual will of the American people is to withdraw from Iraq.

He accused members of Congress: “some who had complained about a lack of security in Iraq are now attempting to change the terms of the debate. Their argument used to be that security was bad, so the surge has failed. Now their argument seems to be security is better, so the surge has failed.” Who exactly is saying this? I want names.

He went on, “They disregard the political advances on the local level, and instead change -- charge that the slow pace of legislative progress on the national level proves our strategy has not worked. This argument gets it backwards. Improving security is the precondition for making gains in other areas.” Notice how, just three sentences after accusing D’s of trying to change the terms of the debate, he himself changes the measure of success from the old “benchmarks” to “reconciliation from the bottom up,” a talking point he introduced only a few weeks ago. And he accused them of looking for “excuses for abandoning” “our Iraqi allies”. Because everyone is intellectually dishonest except him.

An opportunity to become more emboldened throughout the Middle East

Last night, Bush spoke at a fundraiser for Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington. “I look at him as a sheriff,” George said.

He praised, at least I think it was intended as praise, Reichert’s wife: “Like Dave, I married above my head.”

He said of Republicans, “We run for reasons.”

He said, “No President should ever want to come to any community in our country and say, we’re at war, but we are.” What, not any community? He went on, “And the fundamental question facing this nation is how do we face this conflict. What do we do?”, adding, “No really, what the fuck do we do? Anyone have a clue? Cuz I don’t.”

What does he know? “And I know it’s in our interest for us to deny al Qaeda a safe haven, or the extremists an opportunity to become more emboldened throughout the Middle East.” Yes, we’d hate for the extremists to have an opportunity to become more emboldened. Especially throughout the Middle East.

He said, “You know, when they open up a new school in Iraq it doesn’t make headline news. When al Qaeda kills a bunch of people, it does.” First, there was an article on the front page of the Washington Post just this past Saturday about that very subject. Two, a “bunch” of people?

A bunch?

He said, “I understand what it means to be dependent on a product from parts of the world where some people don’t like us.” Insert your own cocaine joke here.

Did my blog, or the less influential Daily Show, make Bush self-conscious about his use of “in other words”? There was only one in this speech – “We’re using a little more than 7 billion gallons of ethanol now, made mainly from Midwestern corn. In other words, there’s a whole industry growing.” And there was one part that was just crying out for an “in other words,” so I’ll restore it for him: “And our strategy makes sense. (In other words,) It’s a common-sense strategy.”

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tortuous metaphors

Sen. John Cornyn says of Gonzales’s resignation, “they have succeeded in hounding a good man”

and “I think he was probably just worn down by the criticism. This sort of thing has a Chinese water torture effect of drip drip drip drip...”

Sad Chimpy

Mark Cooper is absolutely right: if the D’s get Maliki removed from power, they will be told, with some justification, that they are obliged to give the new government time to work.

Bush angrily says that Gonzo is “a man of integrity, decency, and principle,” who was subjected to “months of unfair treatment” which created a “harmful distraction in the Justice Department.”

He said, “It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name is dragged through the mud for political reasons.”

That is sad. Isn’t that sad? That’s soooo sad.

Incidentally, Bush made his statement a little later than I had heard it would be. Imagine if CNN had to decide whether to switch from Michael Vicks talking about dog fighting.

I gather the replacement may not be Lurch after all, but I couldn’t resist this picture.

Alberto Gonzales resignation competition

Answer one or both of the following questions:

1) Alberto Gonzales said he has lived the American dream. What has he been eating before bedtime?

2) Gonzo says, “My worst days as attorney general have been better than my father’s best days.” What on earth did his father do with his days?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Blasphemous balls

The BBC has a story about an American attempt to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan by dropping soccer balls from airplanes, which turned out to contain words from the Koran, including the name Allah (in the flag of Saudi Arabia, which was one of several flags depicted on the balls). It’s generally considered less than respectful to kick the name of Allah.

The thing is, though, it was an entertaining enough story, but it just didn’t live up to the headline: “‘Blasphemous’ Balls Anger Afghans.”

They have no knowledge of what reconciliation means

Australia is to start testing applicants for citizenship on various aspects of Australian culture, history, such as who the first prime minister was (Ned Kelly? Joseph Boomerang, inventor of the boomerang?), the opening line of the national anthem (“Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong”) (or possibly: “Skippy. Skippy. Skippy the bush kangaroo. Skippy. Skippy. Skippy your friend ever true...”), and Australian values, such as “mateship and a fair go.”

(Update: more questions: How are members of Parliament chosen? Drinking contests. What is the floral emblem of Australia? Okay, I think we all know this one: “This here’s the wattle, the symbol of our land. You can stick it in a bottle, you can hold it in your hand. Amen!”)

Speaking of mateship and a fair go, Maliki has responded angrily (although rather belatedly) to the calls of Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton for him to be replaced. “They should come to their senses,” he said, adding, “When they give their judgment they have no knowledge of what reconciliation means.” Dude, if there’s anyone who knows what reconciliation means, it’s Bill Clinton’s wife.

Key fact in NYT article about the rise in the number of Iraqis held in American detention: 85% of them are Sunni. In his press conference, Maliki also complained about detentions – of Shiites, not Sunnis, of course – during recent American operations in Shiite sections of Baghdad. “We will not allow the detaining of innocent people,” he said. He also had this constructive criticism of the American military: “When they want to detain one person, they should not kill 10 others.” Oh, now he tells us.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

His body had already acted

Brattleboro, Vermont’s ban on public nudity has not been renewed and will expire next month (one may not, however, expose one’s genitals; bare butts and breasts in Brattleboro, however, will be bitchin’). Plan your vacations accordingly.

Must-read: the NIE on Iraq (4 pages). Not a lot of false optimism.

Turkey is demanding that Israel pressure the Anti-Defamation League to reverse its decision to recognize the Armenian Genocide as an act of genocide. I’m not sure how you un-recognize a genocide.

In a statement misrepresented in pretty much every headline about it, John Warner has suggested that we must take “some decisive action” in Iraq. The decisive action he recommends: possibly reducing the American military presence 3% by Christmas. But of course, he hastened to add, it is entirely up to George Bush whether he cares to do this or not. Still, many people hang on Sen. Warner’s every word. Fuck if I’ve ever known why.

The investigating officer in the case of Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, one of the participants in the Haditha Massacre (for more on Tatum, see these previous posts) wants the charges against Tatum dropped. Sure he killed a bunch of civilians, including children, Col. Paul Ware says, but “Tatum’s real life experience and training on how to clear a room took over and his body instinctively began firing while his head tried to grasp at what and why he was firing. By the time he could recognize that he was shooting at children, his body had already acted.” So that’s okay, then.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Will we do in the Middle East what the veterans in this room did in Asia?

Today Bush spoke to the convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It was a tame crowd, even applauding “we’ve increased health care spending for our veterans by 83 percent since I was sworn in as your President,” although presumably they understood that there was a reason the need for increased health-care spending for veterans had increased so much.

He talked about an enemy which attacked us who despised freedom and tried to take over a region, only... surprise! he was talking about Japan before Pearl Harbor, not Al Qaida! Dude, you just blew my mind!

Evidently that rhetorical switcheroo proves that Imperial Japan is exactly like Al Qaida, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere is exactly like the “caliphate,” and therefore Al Qaida can be defeated just like Japan was. By nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“This enemy is dangerous; this enemy is determined; and this enemy will be defeated.” Also de-lovely and de-lightful.

“We’re still in the early hours of the current ideological struggle”. Yes, the first 52,000 hours.

He continued his little safari through history. “At the outset of World War II there were only two democracies in the Far East -- Australia and New Zealand. Today most of the nations in Asia are free”. Um, dude, at the outset of World War II large chunks of the Far East was undemocratic because they were part of the British, French, Dutch or Portuguese empires.

Then he talked about the Korean War. He castigated I.F. Stone. He said that if we hadn’t fought the war, “The Soviets and Chinese communists would have learned the lesson that aggression pays.” And now South Korea is free and democratic and there are South Korean troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, because freedom and democracy means dying in whatever cause the US tells you to die for. He talked about the Korean War at some length without actually mentioning the continued existence of the North Korean regime.

He moved on to Vietnam. He castigated Graham Greene. And William Fulbright (although not by name). He said that the consequences of American withdrawal from Vietnam included Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Which is just plain moronic. (Incidentally, with the White House claiming that George Bush just loves to read and reads lots of history, it’s all Washington and Lincoln, never ever about the war he avoided.)

“Whatever your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people,’ ‘re-education camps,’ and ‘killing fields.’” And if there’s one thing George Bush hates, it’s new vocabulary terms.

Another term he ascribed to the American failure in Vietnam: 9/11. If only Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon hadn’t been such wimps, and been more like George W. Bush, 9/11 would never have happened. Bin Laden decided we were pushovers, or something. Anyway, Vietnam should have been longer and bloodier. In fact, we may just resume the Vietnam War, just to show Osama that we’re not weenies.

The troops in Iraq, he says, have a question: “Will their elected leaders in Washington pull the rug out from under them just as they’re gaining momentum”? He makes it sound like something Tweety would do to Sylvester.

Unlike yesterday, today he thinks that “Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job, and I support him.” Just like Alberto Gonzales.

Bush asked, possibly rhetorically, “Will today’s generation of Americans resist the allure of retreat, and will we do in the Middle East what the veterans in this room did in Asia?” So he wants another Vietnam in the Middle East?

If he seems to have forgotten that we weren’t victorious in Vietnam, he also forgot that we didn’t defeat the Soviet Union in a world war: “Today the violent Islamic extremists who fight us in Iraq are as certain of their cause as the Nazis, or the Imperial Japanese, or the Soviet communists were of theirs. They are destined for the same fate.”

In conclusion, the war in Iraq, and The War Against Terror (TWAT) generally, are exactly like the Korean War, the Vietnam War, World War II (Asian and European theaters), the Peloponnesian War, the War of Jenkins’s Ear and very possibly the Hundred Years’ War.

Sometimes people in rural America wonder whether or not the people in the cities think about them

Yesterday, Bush went to Minneapolis for a briefing on the bridge collapse and the floods. Afterwards, Bush said about the former, “my heart was touched by the fact that people lost their lives.” So it was all worthwhile.

It was clear that he understood how that whole “flood” thing works: “Water comes charging through their communities and really kind of wrecks the infrastructure.”

He reached to find exactly the right metaphor: “I just talked to the Governor, who has processed the final and the necessary paperwork so that a flood of help can come down, Tim, to get these people realizing somebody cares about them.” See, it’s not about aid being effective, it’s about sending a message. A message about how wonderful and feeling and generous he is.

He continued, “I understand rural America pretty well. Sometimes people in rural America wonder whether or not the people in the cities think about them.” Must... not... make... “Deliverance”... joke....

“I want those folks to understand the President thinks about it; the senators and the governor have heard about it, and they care about it.” By this point, he may have forgotten what the “it” he was talking about was, but he cares about it.

“I’m looking forward to making sure that the right people show up here on the ground.... we’ll get somebody down here in charge to give the people in your district some hope.” But only after they file Form 287394106A/W3 with FEMA’s Hope Distribution Unit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bush in Canadaland: In other words, there’s a process taking place

Bush met with the prime minister of Canada and president of Mexico in Quebec.

IN OTHER WORDS: “It’s our people’s interests that Canada and Mexico work closely together. In other words, there’s a good reason why our leaders should come together on a regular basis.”

WHAT ELSE IS OUR PEOPLE’S INTERESTS? “It’s in our interests that the Canadian lifestyle be as strong as it is”. Who knew there was a “Canadian lifestyle”?

He was asked about Carl Levin’s call for Maliki to be replaced. He responded with a meandering 684-word answer that hit every Iraq cliché in his repertoire (the surge, safe haven, young democracy, most modern constitution in the Middle East, Petraeus’s report, bottom-up reconciliation, etc), but somehow failed to allude to Maliki even once.

IN OTHER WORDS: He said the “surge” is working: “It appears to me -- and I certainly don’t want to prejudge General David Petraeus’s report back home -- but there is some progress being made. In other words, one aspect of my decision is working.”

“There’s bottom-up reconciliation taking place,” he said (my, that sounds kinky). “It’s noticeable and tangible and real”.

IN OTHER WORDS: “people at the grassroots level are sick and tired of the violence, sick and tired of the radicalism, and they want -- and they want a better life. And they’re beginning to reject the extremists that have the desire to have a safe haven, for example, from which to launch further attacks on America. In other words, there’s a process taking place.”

Asked about cooperation with Mexico against drug trafficking, Bush came over all Cheech and Chong: “The United States is committed to this joint strategy to deal with a joint problem.”

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hurrah! The US is at last making significant progress against Al Qaida in Iraq! It must be true because Joe Lieberman says so!

The American Psychological Association decides not, after all, to ban its members from participating in interrogation at places like Guantanamo where there are inadequate protections for human rights. However, they’re supposed to intervene if prisoners are subject to mock executions, stress positions, sexual & religious humiliation, waterboarding, etc. Col. Larry James, a psychologist stationed at Guantanamo, says that it’s only the presence of psychologists that prevents interrogators doing even more unpleasant things to the prisoners: “If we remove psychologists from these facilities, people are going to die.” You know, psychologists probably have a term for people who engage in that sort of thinking.

Holy Joe Lieberman has an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal (doesn’t he always?). He begins (doesn’t he always?), “The United States is at last making significant progress against al Qaeda in Iraq”, and advises (doesn’t he always?) that Congresscritters “should set aside whatever differences divide us on Iraq” in order to target Syria (this part does vary, because he has such a long list of Muslim groups and nations he wants to target).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Democratic debate: words do matter

The head of the OSCE election monitors in Kazakhstan says yesterday’s parliamentary elections “continue to move Kazakhstan forward in its evolution towards a democratic country.” Hell, maybe next time an actual member of a party other than Nazarbayev’s might even be elected. Just one, there’s no need to go crazy.

I’m sure absolutely every one of you was riveted to your television during this morning’s Democratic debate, so I don’t have to tell you about it, because you’re still in a coma.

Short version:

If you’re tired of the backbiting in Washington, Obama is your guy (I assume any reader of this or any other blog actually rather enjoys a bit of backbitery).

Most of them think it will take a long time to pull the troops out of Iraq.

Hillary’s against hypotheticals, because words do matter.

Edwards also doesn’t like hypotheticals, because he might want to nuke someone.

Biden made a mention of Vlad the Impaler, which would have been a welcome first in a debate, except he seemed to think Vlad Draculya had something to do with Yugoslavia.

The most decisive moment in Edwards’ life was coming downstairs and seeing his father watching public television. Also, he doesn’t believe in the power of prayer.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

But how else would we know if he’s presidential material?

Favorite half-sentence of the day, from the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of Fred Thompson’s visit to the Iowa state fair: “Thompson, who at one point tried to get a herd of photographers to stop filming him as he entered a bathroom...”

What? Oh, you’re expecting pictures of Fred Thompson entering a bathroom, aren’t you? Well, I couldn’t find any that would just be beneath me.

I got nothing’. So here’s another New York Magazine competition. 3/21/94, prequels:
Kindergarten for Scandal.

Two Dalmatians.

Prince Kong.

Malcolm IX.

Little Richard III.

We’re Running Low on Mohicans.

Wee Willie Loman.

Mrs. Warren’s Entry Level Position.

The Personal Ads of J. Alfred Prufrock.

The Baggage Check-In of the Bumble Bee.

Cogito Ergo Subtotal.

A Man Called Horsie.
Other NY Mag comps here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A people person, redux and reduced

Following up from the previous post, in which Twitt Romney was heard to declare:
I have a real hard time thinking of people other than as people.
Shorter Twitt Romney:
I have a real hard time thinking of people.
Even shorter Twitt Romney:
I have a real hard time thinking.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A people person

Asked how he would improve race relations as president, Mitt Romney declared himself to be color-blind, claiming, “I have a real hard time thinking of people other than as people.” Er, Twitt, if they’re black or Hispanic or whatever, they are actually, technically, still people too.

No title immediately suggests itself for this post

Follow-up: fans of sex, especially sex between strangers who meet over the internet, will be happy to hear that the British transport police inspector who had sex while on duty, but kept his earpiece in the entire time in case of emergencies (which is one definition of safe sex, I suppose), was acquitted of wilful misconduct. The jury deliberated only 10 minutes, half as long as the sexual encounter.

Forgot to mention one thing in my previous post: Giuliani claimed in his article that the US was on the verge of winning the Vietnam War in 1972 because it had recently changed its tactics, just like, you know, the Surge, but then we lost our nerve and pulled out just like Democrats want to do now... That was the point when my eyeballs started to bleed.

Hugo Chavez is proposing various changes to the Venezuelan constitution, including ending the independence of the Central Bank, a 6-hour work day, nationalization by executive order, without the involvement of the courts, the creation of a “popular militia,” and, of course, ending term limits for the office of president and extending the length of those terms to 7 years. But he insists that this is actually all about real democracy and “people power” – although anyone who opposes him, “without exception, is... aligned with the interests of the empire.”

Gen. David Petraeus insists that the killing of all those Yazidis was the work of Al Qaida in Iraq. He offers no proof.

The Danish Minister of Culture, Brian Mikkelson, visiting Ireland, apologizes for the Viking raids on that country in the 8th and 9th centuries. Gen. David Petraeus insists those raids were actually the work of Al Qaida in Scandinavia.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Terrorists’ War on the 9/11 Generation

Rudy Giuliani has a foreign policy article in Foreign Affairs. It amounts to Bush’s foreign policy, with all its jingoism and aggression, but with a slightly different smirk. And a few more 9/11 references. The first sentence: “We are all members of the 9/11 generation.” They used to tell me I was a member of the Pepsi generation, but I can’t say I find either product, Pepsi or 9/11, all that tasty and refreshing.

The article’s not worth a close analysis because 1) it made my eyeballs bleed, 2) I doubt much of it was written by Giuliani himself.

He does attempt to re-brand The War Against Terror (TWAT) as “the Terrorists’ War on Us,” a rather silly phrase I’ve heard him use several times before, but I hadn’t seen it in print, so I didn’t know it had those initial caps. In contrast to Bush’s “War on Terror,” it sounds passive, ceding the initiative to the other side; more 9/11 victimology, I guess. And it depends on the correct placement of an apostrophe; he really doesn’t know Americans at all, does he?

Scared straight

The alliterative Peter Pace, still chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was in Djibouti yesterday, talking to the American troops stationed there. If you don’t know where Djibouti is, then they’re doing their job: “What you are doing here is making it so that the Horn of Africa does not appear on the front page of the Washington Post or your local newspapers.” I like how he makes our ignorance of a region the key index of how well things are going there.

He told the soldiers, “We are operating in Afghanistan and Iraq right now because the international community was not able to get those nations straight before it was necessary to use force.” A whole universe of reflexive, arrogant American imperialism is contained in that single word “straight.” He added that those American military personnel were helping the nations of the region conform to the standards of straightness we have laid down for them, to “develop the skills, the capacities, the kind of good governance that’s required so we don’t have to do here what we’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It would be great if we could just leave it at that

From the London Times: “A senior police officer accused of criminal misconduct after meeting a woman for sex while on duty told a jury yesterday that he kept in his radio earpiece during the ten-minute encounter in case of emergencies.” You’re thinking that that’s not especially romantic, but in fact they met through a website for people who want to have sex with people in uniform, and he never took his off, so this was actually precisely the “encounter” the woman involved was looking for.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told Congress not to require that troops be given a year off between deployments to one of our many fine war zones: “We prefer not to be limited or restricted by any kind of congressional action.” Gosh, me too.

Surge Alert: the US, in what the $300 million Random Operation Name Generator in the basement of the Pentagon has named Operation Marne Husky, will bomb the shit out of a region of Iraq too dangerous for the military to go to in person. Col. Daniel Bell calls this an “air surge.” It’s like air guitar, but with more civilian casualties.

Mitt Romney (at some point I’m going to have to make an executive decision about whether to call him NitWitMitt or Twitt Romney) snapped at reporters, “I’m pro-life; it would be great if we could just leave it at that.” Really, would everybody just stop asking Romney any questions about his positions on issues, he doesn’t like it.

Fast track

The LAT finds another unnoticed provision of the renewal of the Patriot Act: the authority to decide whether prisoners in death-penalty cases received adequate counsel is no longer held by federal judges, but by Alberto Gonzales, who in his own person epitomizes the words inadequate counsel. The Justice Dept is also writing new regulations designed to speed up executions, by, for example, reducing the time limit for filing in federal court after state appeals have been exhausted, from 12 months to 6, and limit the time judges could take deciding on petitions. It sounds like states would have to opt in to this “fast track” procedure, but I think we can all imagine the campaign ads against any politician who opposed opting in.

Yes, by all means let’s bring the entire country’s judicial standards down to those of Texas, the “cowboy gulag,” as Molly Ivins called it..

Monday, August 13, 2007

Enormous sacrifices

This morning, Bush visited the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which he called “a building full of compassion”. He said, “there’s a lot of amazing things taking place here in this facility.”

It’s a little hard returning to work at the “in other words” coal-face after the Daily Show swept in and grabbed all the glory, and indeed I skipped a perfectly good “in other words” in Saturday’s weekly radio address, but, well....

IN OTHER WORDS: The secretaries of war and veterans affairs are “looking at the recommendations that the Dole-Shalala commission put forward, and they’re implementing them. In other words, the commission did really good work.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “When they come back in September, we want to work with Congress to pass that which is necessary to make sure that the Dole-Shalala commission recommendations are fully implemented. In other words, there are some aspects of the commission recommendations that require congressional approval.”

Then it was back to the White House, where he appeared on the South Lawn with Karl Rove, saying, “This is a family that has made enormous sacrifices not only for our beloved state of Texas, but for a country we both love.” Enormous sacrifices. This is literally not twenty minutes after leaving a facility for wounded veterans. Maybe Karl and his family can try some of that kayaking therapy.

So sad, so sad.

You’ll never leave me, will you Barney? What, you think I should invade Iran, Barney?

Bush’s Brain resigns

Karl Rove gives a hilariously smug, self-satisfied interview with Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal. He will be leaving the White House at the end of the month. “I just think it’s time,” he said. “There’s always something that can keep you here”. Iron bars, razor wire and armed guards, for example, but perhaps that can still be arranged.

An act of war, followed by an act of douchebaggery

Israel is still trying to expel Marya (also spelled Mariya) Aman, the Palestinian girl I mentioned a week ago, who was turned into a respirator-dependent quadriplegic by an Israeli missile attack on an Islamic Jihad leader’s car that also hit her family’s car. They want to send her to Ramallah in the West Bank (the Amans live in Gaza), where she would almost certainly die because the Palestinian health-care system can’t cope with her injuries. Israel says it was never under any obligation to give her medical treatment in the first place because its attack on her family’s car was an “act of war.” So that’s okay then.

Must-read: Frank Rich’s Sunday column (link to a version not behind the pay barrier).

Tommy “Thomas” Thompson drops out of the presidential race: we hardly wanted to know ye.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A lot of opportunities to bring peace

Today Bush met with new French President Sarkozy in Kennebunkport. While awaiting Sarkozy’s arrival, he told reporters, “We’re going to have a heart-to-heart talk.” Uh oh. Is that anything like the heart to heart you threatened two days ago to have with Maliki if he dared say that Iran was a constructive influence? Reporters took the rare opportunity to question Bush extensively about whether there would be both ketchup and mustard available for Sarkozy to put on his hamburger (or hot dog, because America is all about free choice, if not haute cuisine) (that’s Frog talk) (Bush made fun of his father for speaking two words of French) (“le signe”), and “Do you think he’s bringing cheese?”

Bush said, “This is a complicated world with a lot of opportunities to bring peace”. Not many people can make peace sound so chilling. Well, you bring the “peace,” Sarkozy can bring the cheese, and we’ll see which one makes the world a better place.

Bush said, “I respect the French people, I respect the history of France.” Sadly, no one from what he called the “Fourth Estate,” a term which is derived from French history, gave him a pop quiz in French history, “what happened in 1789?”, “who called himself the Sun King?”, “who invented the guillotine?”, that sort of thing.

Then Sarkozy arrived, kissed all the women (he’s French, you know)

(Some days it’s harder to be French than others), and said a few words, while Bush got increasingly impatient, finally interrupting: “Beautiful. Thank you. We’ve got to go eat a hamburger. We’ve got to go eat a hamburger.”

Bush had said that he wasn’t sure if they would be going out fishing, but Sarkozy started doing a little “fishing” of his own.

(He’s French you know.)

Caption contest:

Ensuring fair treatment

An email from the Fred Thompson campaign begins a section, “Fred on the Issues” thusly: “Whoa now. Let’s hold our horses a minute and think about the calls for new tax increases to fix our infrastructure problems....” That’s just the sort of ersatz folksiness so sorely missing from this campaign. Can you imagine the drawl-off of an Edwards-Thompson debate?

Headline of the day: “Accused Says He Was Just Milking Goat.”

Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who seems to have extensive powers to prevent carriages, if you will, of justice, let two of those convicted in the killing of Awad the Lame, Tyler Jackson and Jerry Shumate, go free 4 months early from their plea-bargained terms of 21 months. The release, according to a statement from the Marines, was to “ensure fair treatment.” To whom, they did not say. Mattis also granted clemency to another participant, Robert Pennington, who was given an 8-year sentence just 6 months ago. Mattis cited his age and lowly rank, failing to note that it is generally young people of low rank who are sent into combat. If 21 was below the age at which Pennington was expected to be responsible for his actions, maybe he shouldn’t have been given a gun and sent to Hamdaniya in the first place. Awad the Lame (whose 4 grandchildren are pretty young too, if anyone cares, which one might have cause to doubt given that Awad the Lame is referred to only as “an Iraqi man” in the NYT, San Diego Union-Tribune, and LAT articles I consulted) was killed 16 months ago, in April 2006. Of the 8 men tried in 2007, all of whom pleaded or were found guilty, only 1 is still in prison. And Mattis is still reviewing his sentence.

On Thursday’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart did a segment on Bush’s use of “in other words.” Stewart gets upwards of a million bucks a year, I get the satisfaction of a job well done. Life is just so completely entirely fair. The clip is on the Daily Show website, for however long those things stay up. He explains to Chimpy, “We understand what you’re saying. The look on our face isn’t confusion, it’s disbelief. In other words, we understand, we just don’t fucking get it.”

If I can serve as unpaid gag writer/researcher for the Daily Show, the least you people can do is complete one joke for me (I can’t seem to think of a punchline worthy of the set-up). Giuliani says that he misspoke when he claimed yesterday that in 2001 he was at Ground Zero “as often, if not more, than most of the workers.” So what did he really mean to say? I was at my cigar club as often, if not more... I was at my mistresses’ apartment as often, if not more... I was giving interviews to Fox News as often...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Democrats discuss gay issues: semantics may be important to some

Some of the Democratic presidential candidates went to a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/whatever-the-term-is-for-“I’m not really gay, I just offered that guy twenty bucks to blow him ‘cause I’m afraid of black people” forum, which turned out not to be an actual debate. (For anyone reading this in another country or twenty years from now, here’s a link to explain that reference.)

Biden and Dodd skipped the event, then decided that skipping was itself kind of gay and decided to hold their own belching contest to prove who is the more manly. Jeez, between the hair plugs and the fathering a child in your sixties, I think you two have the over-compensation thing pretty well covered.

Since Dodd claimed a scheduling conflict, I hope someone tracks down what he was actually doing last night.

Obama is playing the race card for all it’s worth, and quite a bit more. Evidently he understands everything the LGBTW community goes through because he’s black and his name is “Barack Obama” and his parents couldn’t have gotten married in some states. (Later he says that isn’t what he was saying and that he’s not into “comparisons of victimology.”) But he is not in favor of letting gay people marry, says civil unions, “As I’ve proposed it, it wouldn’t be a lesser thing, from my perspective,” and the difference is just “semantics.” “Semantics may be important to some,” he said dismissively. He says he would have advised civil rights leaders in the 1960s not to bother trying to end miscegenation laws, but to focus on issues that have “real consequences.” And he reassured churches that no one would force them to perform gay marriages. In retrospect, I think he was saying that as long as everyone gets full legal rights, the state shouldn’t really have an opinion about what constitutes a marriage because the bond of marriage is a purely religious one. Maybe someone should ask him if atheists should be allowed to marry.

He even repeated the famous sentence from his 2004 convention speech, about which I wrote, “You’ll notice his ‘We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states’ line carefully avoided creeping out the homophobes of Middle America by keeping the Little Leaguers and the gays in separate states.”

As John Edwards walked in, the camera focused on an audience member with weird hair. He also understands what it’s like to be different, because he’s so pretty. Lord, right after I wrote that, he did actually say that he understands it because he grew up in the segregated South.

He repudiated his previous statement that he opposes same-sex marriage because of his religious views. But he still opposes same-sex marriage. “All I can tell you is where I am today.”

Asked what he’d do if one of his staff said they were trans-gendered and thinking about making the “transition,” Edwards says he’d help them “in every possible way.” Fine, you hold the penis while the doctor cuts it off.

He said he’s perfectly comfortable around gay people, no matter what you’ve heard.

Dennis Kucinich, who understands what it’s like to be different because he’s an elf and is the favorite of this crowd and of Melissa Etheridge, keeps talking about the power of love. He loves love (although he’s not in love with it).

This is not proving as entertaining as I anticipated.

Mike Gravel also loves love. Melissa Etheridge asks him how he can be so gay-friendly when he’s like really really old, and if there are many gay people in Alaska. Three, as it turns out, and they’re all in the front row.

He says all gays should come out of the closet. I don’t know why, but that’s the only thing I’ve heard so far that surprised me.

Do igloos have closets?

The non-debate format allowed me to fast forward through Bill Richardson (but not in a gay way). I put it back on play while I fed the cat, and he was so laughably out of his depth that I had to go back and listen to the whole thing. He said (sigh) he understands what it’s like to be different because he’s Hispanic. Asked whether homosexuality is a choice or inborn (sadly, no one else was asked this), he seemed never even to have heard of the issue before, first mumbling that it was a choice, then that it was a scientific matter and he doesn’t understand science. Gay people befuddle him (but not in a gay way). He refuses to say if he’d sign a gay marriage bill if one were passed by the New Mexico Legislature, just as Obama refused to say if he’d have voted for one when he was in the Illinois lege.

Hillary talked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act as “transitional” policies to fend off far worse Republican moves, trying to make essentially anti-gay measures sound progressive. No one is buying. Although they’ll probably vote for her anyway, and then act surprised when she does little if anything for them. She opposes gay marriage, and calls that opposition a “personal position.” Like Edwards, she seems to think that’s relevant, but a presidential candidate’s positions on public policy issues are not “personal.” She said prefers to think of her position not as anti-gay marriage but as pro-civil union. Margaret Carlson prompted her to say, “I’m your girl,” just as she did to the AFL-CIO two days before. She said it (I could swear I heard Kucinich say it too), but she isn’t. Her and Obama’s sort of “pragmatism,” their willingness to compromise with other people’s rights... hey, I was expecting to blog this forum with nothing but double entendres!

I don’t think there was more than that one question about transgendered people, and I’m quite sure there were none about bisexuals.

Living up to the standards of the Marine Corps

Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis drops the charges against Lance Corp. Justin Sharratt for his role in the Haditha Massacre (click on the H.M. label at the bottom of this post for more on Sharratt), saying he lived up to the standards of the Marine Corps when he mowed down a family of civilians. Mattis accepts the disproved premise that “combat” was going on in Haditha, that the Marines were under fire.

This is very good, but is it really the only Nichols and May sketch available on YouTube?

Fifty religious quotes from the Rev. Chimpy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bush press conference: there’s no proof of wrong

Bush held a press conference this morning. Hilarity ensued.

THAT THING YOU DO: “The American people need to know that we’re working hard to find out why the bridge did what it did so that we can assure people that the bridges over which they will be traveling will be safe.” Or you could actually make them safe.

A HUMAN POST-IT NOTE: “In my discussions with President Musharraf, I have reminded him that we share a common enemy”. On the one hand, that “reminded him” thing is pretty condescending. On the other, isn’t it nice that he shares?

WHY, I CAN MAKE A HAT OR A BROOCH OR A PTERODACTYL...: “We spend a lot of time with the leadership in Pakistan, talking about what we will do with actionable intelligence.” His own intelligence, by the way, indicates that Pakistanis like to be called “Paks.”

MR. EMPATHIC STRIKES AGAIN: “I can understand why Pat Tillman’s family, you know, has got significant emotions”. We know. “And I’m confident the Defense Department wants to find out the truth, too”. And then lie about it again.

WHAT THE IRAQIS NEED: “these folks need to trust each other more.” He says of the Iraqi government, “a lot of Americans look at it and say, there’s nothing happening there; there’s, like, no government at all, I expect they’re saying.” But actually, he says, the Iraqi parliament is passing many laws, “some of which are directly relevant to reconciliations”.

IN OTHER WORDS: “But one of the things I found interesting in my questions was there is revenue sharing -- in other words, a central government revenue sharing to provincial governments.”

“My belief is that people will make rational decision based upon facts.” He really has no self-awareness whatsoever, does he? That was in response to a question about the financial sector and the sub-prime-loan issue. Asked whether the government should help the recipients of those loans who are about to lose their houses, he said fuck no, but “obviously anybody who loses their home is somebody with whom we must show enormous empathy.”

IF ONLY BUSH WERE A MAN OF AS FEW WORDS AS MALIKI: “Prime Minister Maliki is visiting in Tehran today. His message, I’m confident will be, stabilize, don’t destabilize.” If not, little Nouri will get a talking to: “Now if the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart-to-heart with my friend, the Prime Minister, because I don’t believe they are constructive.”

“I don’t think he, in his heart of heart, thinks they’re constructive, either. ... So the first thing I looked for was commitment against the extremists. The second thing is does he understand with some extremist groups there is connections with Iran, and he does. And I’m confident.”

Interestingly, he’s careful this time not to repeat the lie that Iran has a stated policy of building nuclear weapons: “They have expressed their desire to be able to enrich uranium, which we believe is a step toward having a nuclear weapons program.” Still, he says Iran, you know, hates Israel and funds Hezbollah and “It’s a very troubling nation right now.”

IN OTHER WORDS (on Guantanamo): “I also made it clear that part of the delay was the reluctance of some nations to take back some of the people being held there. In other words, in order to make it work, we’ve got to have a place for these people to go. ... In other words, part of the issue, Peter, is the practical issue of, what do we do with the people.”

As for the new Red Cross report about torture practices in Gitmo, “I haven’t seen it. We don’t torture.” Except for grammar, which he waterboards with every sentence he speaks: “One of the things I’m anxious about, want to see happen, is that there to be trials.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “And therefore, what we’d really be talking about is a simplification of a very complex tax code that might be able to lower rates and at the same time simplify the code, which is like shorthand for certain deductions would be taken away -- in other words, certain tax preferences in the code.”

Honestly, how do you get past the age of 7 with such a poor grasp of singular and plural? “[T]he reason there is tax preferences in the first place are there are powerful interests that have worked to get the preference in the code.”

Asked how he can afford the war and fixing all the bridges and whatnot, he said, “One can meet priorities if they set priorities.” “They” being Congress, which he proceeded to lecture like little children, which is of course the best way to persuade them: “The problem in Congress is they have trouble actually focusing on priorities. ... And we’ve proven that you can set priorities and meet obligations. And so the Congress needs to learn to do that itself.”

He said that “Lewis Libby was held accountable” and that Gonzales doesn’t need to be held accountable because “There’s no proof of wrong. Why would I hold somebody accountable who has done nothing wrong?” Why indeed. “And as a matter of fact, I would hope Congress would become more prone to deliver pieces of legislation that matter, as opposed to being the investigative body.” I’ll bet you would.

Bush admits that he bases his evaluation of Iraq entirely on ideology, and assumes everyone else does the same: “But for those of us who believe it’s worth it, we’ll see progress. For those who believe it’s not worth it, there is no progress.” A few seconds later he repeats that “This is an ideological struggle.” Against reality.

Stoopid reality.