Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The goodwill has not yet been returned

Bush’s Veterans Day proclamation says that veterans “ensured that America remained what our founders meant her to be: a light to the nations, spreading the good news of human freedom to the darkest corners of the earth.” He does know that America is not the same thing as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, just more heavily armed, right?

This morning, Bush attended the 2007 Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association Fall Conference. Since it’s Halloween, he went as a vegetable.

He had a very important reason to be there, indeed so important that he felt obligated to impart that reason not once, but twice, using, if you will, alternative phraseology: “One of the reasons I’ve come by is to remind you how important you are to our economy. In other words, I’m the kind of person who believes that it’s important for those of us in government to encourage people to take risk and to take investment.”

He introduced Bill Cyr: “I asked Billy where he works. He said, well, I run Sunny Delight beverage company. I said, well, Billy, I quit drinking. (Laughter.) He said, that’s not that kind of alcohol.” A little fixated, are we, George?

A VERY CHIMPY HALLOWEEN: “This morning I was with the Vice President. I was asking him what costume he was planning. He said, well, I’m already wearing it. (Laughter.) Then he mumbled something about the dark side of the force.” Do they really think they can soften Cheney’s image by joking about how evil he is?

WHAT GEORGE LOVES: “I love the fact that people say, I own a business. Ownership is a central part of making sure this country is a helpful -- hopeful country.”

GEORGE DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THE WORD MEMORIALIZED MEANS: “We’re making some progress in convincing people in Washington that low taxes ought to be memorialized in permanent policy.”

WHAT KIND OF PERSON GEORGE ISN’T: “In order to get out of a recession and recover from an attack on the United States, we cut taxes on everybody who pays taxes, because I’m not the kind of person that says, we’re going to cut taxes on you because of your political affiliation and not because of you -- on you because of yours.” I’m glad he’s not the kind of person that says that.

WHEN VEGETABLES TALK: “I think it’s good for agriculture to say, let’s trade.”

EMPOWERMENT! “And one way to become less dependent on oil is to be able to grow products that empower our automobiles.”

PHILOSOPHER IN CHIEF: “Here’s my philosophy -- that government ought to trust private medicine; that we’ve got a fabulous health care system.”

IN OTHER... OH, YOU KNOW: “Under the [S-CHIP] proposal that came to my desk, more than half the children in America could be eligible for government health care. In other words, by expanding eligibility, it means that more than half the children in America would become eligible for this federal program.”

I’D LIKE TO RETURN THIS GOODWILL, PLEASE; IT SEEMS TO BE BROKEN. “I vetoed it. And my veto was sustained. And then I put out the word to Congress, I’d like to work with you on a better bill. And unfortunately, the goodwill has not yet been returned.”

GEORGE BECAME TO ANALYZE: “When I first came to Washington, I said, well, maybe this isn’t the proper federal role; we’ll let the states handle it. And then when I became to analyze the cost to the federal government of these junk lawsuits I determined it was a federal role to do something about them.”

GEORGE HAS A DREAM: “The dream is, is that all of us will have a -- our medical records on a little disk, a little chip that we can carry with us, that will be secure from prying eyes, but nevertheless, will be a part of wringing out cost inefficiencies in a industry that needs to have cost inefficiencies wrung out.” Maybe he should cut down on the nachos before bedtime.

WHAT GEORGE LIKES: “I like it when the after-tax revenues -- income are up.”

WHAT GEORGE KNOWS: “I know it’s necessary to do the hard work now so the first chapters of the 21st century will be positive chapters.” 9/11, the Iraq War, you know, positive chapters.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Democratic Debate: Rocky XXVIII

Obama says that his fight with Hillary is the most hyped fight since Rocky fought Apollo Creed (hint: he’s Rocky in this scenario). That is some damned disturbing imagery there.

(Later: oh, I get it, he thinks a Rocky reference will go over big because he’s in Philadelphia, where, I believe, that movie was set.)

John Edwards was then invited to pile on Hillary (I believe that makes him Mr. T), which he did, accusing her of “double talk,” although I would say that her evasiveness and over-caution makes it more half talk or quarter talk.

Hillary asks, if she’s so like the Republicans, why are they all attacking her, huh, huh? Um, is that a trick question? She says it’s because she’s stood up against George Bush and his failed policies. Doesn’t mention any of his failed policies she’s actually hindered in the tiniest way. Edwards later says that the R’s keep attacking her because she’s the one they want to run against. Ouch.

Hillary says she will solve Social Security without raising any taxes through “fiscal responsibility,” whatever the hell that means.

After Russert invited the candidates to beat up on Hillary, he invited them to beat up on Iran, because he thinks it will make the debate more exciting. He is wrong.

Biden says the Kyl-Lieberman vote played into the “urban legend” that the US is in a crusade against Islam. I think he means that’s a legend in urban areas like Baghdad, Fallujah, you know, the urban areas with bomb craters.

Hillary, like all of them, says she will try diplomacy on Iran. Says sanctions are a part of diplomacy. I don’t think she knows what the word “diplomacy” means.

Oh, pardon me, she said “vigorous diplomacy.” Well, that’s entirely different.

Edwards says, correctly, that Kyl-Lieberman gave Bush and Cheney everything they wanted and that it looks like it was written by the neo-cons. Dude, what do you think Joe Lieberman is if not a neo-con?

(Long gap here where I lapsed into a hypnotic state, but I’m pretty sure no one said anything interesting.)

Biden on Giuliani: “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb, and 9/11.” Nice. Of course Biden mentions about 173 things in each of his sentences.

Asked about Twitt Romney twice “confusing” his name with Osama bin Laden’s, Obama says he never pays attention to Romney, who’ll probably say something different next week. Man, he needs to hire Biden’s gag-writer.

When did Kucinich start talking about impeaching Bush & Cheney?

And then they said stuff about the alternative minimum tax. And hedge funds.

Lightning round. Can any candidate answer any question in 30 seconds? Surprisingly, no. Honestly, if they can’t solve education in America in 30 seconds, how can they possibly expect to be president? Gravel wasn’t allowed on the stage today, but moron blowhards Tim Russert and Brian Williams were allowed to run this debate.

Only Chris Dodd says illegal immigrants shouldn’t get driver’s licenses, as NY is now debating. He said solemnly that it’s a privilege, not a right. Then played a short film strip about road accidents and pedestrian right-of-way. Hillary... seemed to have 3 or 4 positions on the subject – sometimes 30 seconds is actually too long.

Kucinich confirms that he did indeed see a UFO. Obama dodges question on whether there is life on other worlds. Did I mention that answers on education were confined to 30 seconds?

Only Dodd wants to decriminalize marijuana.

Biden is asked if he would advise people not to buy toys from China for Christmas. Did I mention that answers on education were confined to 30 seconds?

Only Obama is asked what he’ll go dressed as for Halloween, dammit. He’ll wear a Mitt Romney mask, which will have two faces. Anyone have any costume suggestions for the other candidates?

As lawful as they are valuable

Director of Central Intelligence Michael Hayden says that the CIA interro-torture programs are “as lawful as they are valuable.” Quite.

Asked if waterboarding is torture, he said, “I need to understand the totality of the circumstances in which this question is being posed before I can give you an answer.” See, and you thought he didn’t have a good reason for not answering.

Thompson and McCain sound the alarm against the UN and hippies and bears (oh my)

I just received yet another email from the McCain campaign on the major issue of our times: Hillary Clinton’s support for a subsidy to the Woodstock Museum. He repeats that no one can be president if they supported it. It’s right there in the Constitution: you have to be a natural born citizen, have achieved the age of 35, been 14 years a resident within the United States, and not have voted for any damned hippie museum.

And that $1m is not the only “shameful spending” in the multi-trillion-dollar budget (hint, Maverick John: Guantanamo, the Iraq War, security for certain senators visiting markets in Iraq...). He also names and shames $74m for peanut storage, which may or may not be justifiable, who knows, but doesn’t strike me as outrageous on its face, and $3m to study the DNA of bears. Hey, I think studying bear DNA is a great use of taxpayer dollars, don’t you? What does McCain have against bears?

An email from the Fred Thompson campaign brings a warning from Fred that the UN (well, the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights) is planning to come here and take away all our guns. Fred says, “the UN report remarkably denied the existence of any human right to self-defense, evidently overlooking the work of Hugo Grotius, the 17th century scholar credited as the founder of international law...” Also, gun control leads to genocide, as in Bosnia and Rwanda: “Disarming civilians under the guise of international human rights law will only lead to more such genocides by ensuring that civilians can never defend themselves! It would be funny if it weren’t so perverse.”

I will shoot him with your products

Which is more disturbing, that McCain visited a gun factory and said, “I will follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell and I will shoot him with your products,” or that he later felt obligated to clarify that it was a “joke” and he didn’t really mean that he would personally shoot bin Laden?

Or that he seems to have endorsed Thompson Center Arms as the Official Firearms Provider of the Hunt for Bin Laden.

(Update: damn, Colbert did this exact material in last night’s show, which I just caught up with. That’s why he’s running for president and I’m not, I guess.)

At least proposed spending is skyrocketing

This morning Bush met with Republican congresscritters and made a not-at-all-petulant statement about how very, very disappointed he is with the job Congress has been doing. “Congress is not getting its work done,” he said. Worse, it’s getting done the work he doesn’t want it getting done. “The House of Representatives has wasted valuable time on a constant stream of investigations, and the Senate has wasted valuable time on an endless series of failed votes to pull our troops out of Iraq.”

WHAT ELSE IS ENDLESS? “They’ve also passed an endless series of tax increases.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “They haven’t seen a bill they could not solve without shoving a tax hike into it. In other words, they believe in raising taxes, and we don’t.”

PROPOSED SKYROCKETING: “Spending is skyrocketing under their leadership -- at least proposed spending is skyrocketing under their leadership.”

He accused Congress of “going alone and going nowhere” on S-CHIP. “And that doesn’t even include spending that would actually pay for 2 million people to move from private health insurance to an inefficient, lower-quality, government-run program.” S-CHIP: inefficient, lower-quality, and Bush-run (he does know that “government-run” means that he’s in charge of running it, right?), but good enough for, you know, kids. Indeed, he insists on “a bill that will take care of the poor children that the initial bill said we got to do”. Initial law, George, when a bill passes it becomes a law, you should really know that by now. And again, I want to point out that when he appeals to the Original Intent of the Framers of S-CHIP, he means Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch.

GIVE ME THE MONEY, OR THE HOSTAGES GET IT: “I know some on the Democrat side didn’t agree with my decision to send troops in, but it seems like we ought to be able to agree that we’re going to support our troops who are in harm’s way.” The frightening thing is, he probably does actually believe that just giving him everything he asks for is a perfectly reasonable compromise.

He also met this morning with Ugandan President Museveni. And his head. His big bald head. So bald, so rubbable. So very very rubbable.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Political exchange of the day: Fred Thompson

At a campaign event in New Hampshire:
Q: I’m proud to say that in January 2008 New Hampshire has passed a law facilitating civil unions here. ... What is your belief for federal civil unions to be passed?

FRED THOMPSON: Soviet Union?

Q: No, civil unions.

THOMPSON: Oh. No, I would not be in support of that.

Obama reaches out to hermetically sealed gays and nontraditional people

Barack Obama called up the NYT a couple of days ago to announce that he plans to attack Hillary for being too poll-driven and vague and disciplined, and since then has worked to make poll-driven and vague and disciplined look good by a series of gaffes, including lecturing gays (oh all right, L’s, G’s, B’s and T’s), who he believes are “hermetically sealed from the faith community,” by which he means that he thinks they never ever hear homophobic Christians saying that they’re going to hell, and are the poorer for it.

I hadn’t been planning to mention that, since I don’t think any blog reader has been hermetically sealed from that quote today, but a Google News search for it returned hits only from gay publications and websites.

And an article about campaigns reaching out to Hispanic voters quotes Obama’s head of Hispanic outreach, Joan Kato: “We are reaching out to nontraditional people.” I think you’ll find, Joan, that Hispanics think of themselves as just, you know, people.

Situational awareness

The now, um, retired, director of external affairs for FEMA, John Philbin, says he should have stopped the fake press conference (he was one of the fake reporters asking questions) but “I did not have good situational awareness of what was happening.” I believe “We did not have good situational awareness of what was happening” is actually the FEMA motto.

Philbin, by the way, has a doctorate in communication from the University of Maryland.

The fun bit of it

Quote of the day, Lt. Col. Derek Plews, spokesmodel for the British military in Basra: “The Arab psyche is really bad at the administration side of things. They just think about the fun bit of it, such as firing the bullets.”

The AP caption for this picture

reads, “President Bush casts a shadow as he waves upon his arrival at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 29, 2007.” They seem to be surprised. C’mon guys, it’s Cheney who casts no shadow. Everyone knows that.


AT&T, my local phone company, has eliminated the time-check number, just to be obnoxious.

Can you tell it’s been a slow news weekend?

For example, a headline and subhead on the front page of Monday’s WaPo reads “U.S. Promises on ( ) Don’t Match Actions. Bush Expresses Passion for Issue, but Policies Have Been Inconsistent.” Can you guess the missing word? Click here to find out if you were right. The prize for guessing correctly (or indeed for guessing incorrectly): a deep sigh and a sense of ennui.

Evidently King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia thinks that the rest of the world isn’t as serious about stopping terrorism as Saudi Arabia is. Fancy that.

The Bushies used to talk about the need to preserve Iraq’s territorial integrity, meaning the Kurds wouldn’t be allowed to split off. Curiously, when Turkey is threatening to invade, and massing men and tanks on the border (the subtle hint that the purpose of any invasion will not be confined to hunting down PKK fighters in the mountains: tanks), nary a peep do we hear about the sanctity of Iraq’s borders. Funny, that.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hey guys, wanna march in step towards the sound of the guns?

Secretary of War Gates, at the Conference of European Armies, demanded, again, that NATO countries (lookin’ at you, Germany) end the limits on the use to which their troops in Afghanistan may be put. “As you know better than most people, brothers in arms achieve victory only when all march in step toward the sound of the guns.” I think he thinks he’s fighting the Crimean War. He also stole some rhetoric from John F. Kennedy, saying that “In Afghanistan a handful of allies are paying the price and bearing the burdens.” He threatened to pull American troops out of Kosovo and suggested that Americans might begin to question the utility of NATO.

He suggested that those military leaders pressure their political leaders to lift those restrictions. Civilian rule is so darned inconvenient.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wherein is revealed what will happen if you show Arnold Schwarzenegger a hill

Will Durst: “The good news is FEMA showed up in California. The bad news is they came to fix the levees.”

This picture is of a plane dropping fire retardant on one of the Southern California fires.

Speaking of... well, speaking of un-PC segues, George Bush came to California today, or perhaps I should say Kallyfohrnia, since he praised Governor Terminator fulsomely at every turn: “The thing I like about Governor Schwarzenegger, he says, you show me a problem, I’ll charge it; if you show me a hill, I’ll go up it”. If you show him a boob, he’ll grope it.

As others have pointed out, this is a not terribly veiled swipe at Louisiana Governor Blanco, part of his continuing attempt to shift the blame for the poor response to Katrina from himself to her. “And we’ve got a problem out here, and I appreciate his leadership. It makes a significant difference when you have somebody in the statehouse willing to take the lead.” For example, Schwarzenegger took the lead in “Kindergarten Cop” and “Last Action hero.”

He asked our esteemed governor if he still gets called the Terminator. Arnie responded with an amusing reference to his problems with premature ejaculation: “Yes, especially by my wife.”

Bush came with a message: “First thing I want to let the people know out here in Southern California is that many across our nation...” Literally dozens. “...have been moved by the plight of the citizens who have lost their homes, lost their possessions, and particularly those who have lost their life.” Particularly.

If you look at the liberal media and you look at the way they describe it, you could say it was torture and you shouldn’t do it

Israel will go ahead with the collective punishment of Gaza by cutting off its electricity. The idea is that after any rocket attack, power will be cut for 15 minutes, increasing over time. Israel says that its designation of the whole territory of Gaza as a “hostile entity” means that it is no longer bound by international law relating to occupied territories. Which is odd, because you’d expect that pretty much every territory covered by those laws because they are occupied militarily by another nation would be at least a little bit, you know, hostile.

Giuliani says he doesn’t know if waterboarding is torture. Evidently, there might be non-tortuous versions of waterboarding with which we are unfamiliar: “It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it...” There’s your key sentence right there – whether an act is torture depends on who does it. “...I think the way it’s been defined in the media, it shouldn’t be done. The way in which they have described it, particularly in the liberal media. ... And I hate to shock anybody with this...” Just can’t help himself, can he? “...but the newspapers don’t always describe it accurately. ... So I’d have to see what they really are doing, not the way some of these liberal newspapers have exaggerated it.” So he doesn’t know what is being done, but he does know that liberal newspapers are exaggerating it.

He went on to say that torture is bad, but “aggressive questioning” is good. He never actually defines aggressive questioning, but later says that he personally used it against Mafia members, and admits that “the line between the two is going to require some really difficult decisions about drawing it”. He went on to say that the president could order “certain things” done to a prisoner to extract information about an imminent nuclear terrorist attack. “The president has to have that kind of leeway. We’ve got to trust our president well enough to allow that.” So once again, it’s a nation of men, not a nation of laws.

He went on (and on and on for more than five minutes – do click on the link to read or watch the video of the whole thing) to say that Democrats even consider sleep deprivation to be torture. “I mean, on that theory, I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s plain silly. That’s silly.”

Looking forward

Bush is coming to California, because it’s on fire, and he made a statement before getting on the plane. Dude, when you’re going to inspect the scene of an ongoing natural disaster, do not say that you’re “looking forward” to seeing the governor and “looking forward to spending some time with some of the firefighters” and “Looking forward to my trip out there.” Did they promise him a side-trip to Disneyland?

CONTEST: What is Bush’s favorite ride/attraction at Disneyland, and why?

Although looking forward with giddy anticipation to his visit, he also put on his Sad Chimp face: “I fully understand that the people have got a lot of anguish in their hearts.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

At long last

In part of his Cuba speech (see previous post), Bush ostensibly addressed members of the Cuban police, military or government, asking them, “When Cubans rise up to demand their liberty,” not to, you know, shoot them. He told them, “There is a place for you in the free Cuba.” They might be wondering why George Bush gets to decide who does and does not have a place in the free Cuba.

Speaking of people giving themselves undue powers, Hillary Clinton told the Guardian that she would give up some of the extra-constitutional powers Bush has grabbed for himself, but declined to specify which ones, saying she would decide after a “review” – after she took power. There are several reasons why this is disquieting. 1) That statement indicates that she plans to keep one of those extra-constitutional powers: Bush’s claim that only the president gets to decide what powers the president exercises. 2) In the system of checks and balances we’re supposed to have, it is actually already her job as a United States senator to “review” the exercise of presidential power. 3) Just as candidates for office need to lay out their positions in order for the democratic process to have legitimacy – if all she said about Iraq was that she would have to “review” what her policy would be after the election, she could not claim a democratic mandate for that policy – we also need to know what office candidates are actually running for. We might think that someone was qualified to be dogcatcher but not governor, and we might think that Hillary was qualified to be an ordinary, garden-variety president, but not one with all the chimperial powers Bush has claimed for himself.

Morons of the day: 24 Oklahoma state legislators (out of 149) will refuse to accept the Korans they given by a state panel on ethnic diversity, because “Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology,” according to Rep. Rex Duncan, who read all about the Koran on the internet (as opposed to reading the copy of the Koran conveniently provided to him). I can’t be bothered to read all about Rex Duncan on the internet, but he is the brains behind Oklahoma’s new “Global War on Terrorism” license plates.

Tom Tancredo asked the INS, or whatever they call it these days, to raid a press conference held by Dick Durbin for a bill to legalize illegal immigrants of high school age, because he was pretty sure there’d be illegal aliens there. Durbin issued a statement: “Congressman, have you no shame?” Um, no. Has he ever met Tancredo before? Indeed, has anybody who has ever been asked that question since Joseph Welch first posed it to Joseph McCarthy actually had any shame whatsoever?

Bush on Cuba: The socialist paradise is a tropical gulag

Quote of the day, as seen in every other blog and now in this one, from Rudy Giuliani: “I took a city that was known for pornography and licked it to a large extent”.

He also assured a blind man that he has a 2nd Amendment right to bear and carry arms.

John Ashcroft, speaking at a Catholic college yesterday, said that detaining people in Guantanamo indefinitely without trial (which, oddly, he called, approvingly, “inordinate detention”) is “an act of humanity.” He added that inordinate detention is acceptable when weighed against the possibility of releasing someone who might then take up arms against the US again.

Bush gave a speech at the State Department today about Cuba, which he accused of many acts of humanity. For example, did you know that in Cuba it is illegal “to read books or magazines without the express approval of the state”? Did you know that “Housing for many ordinary Cubans is in very poor condition, while the ruling class lives in mansions.” Imagine, a country where the poor people have crap housing and the ruling class live in mansions, why that’s... uh, pretty much every single country.

“Many of the cars on the street pre-date the revolution...” he said. Dude, those cars are classics. “...and some Cubans rely on horse carts for transportation.” Dear lord, there are actually people deprived of the use of a gasoline-powered internal-combustion engine, how do they live with the shame?

“There are long lines for basic necessities -- reminiscent of the Soviet bread lines of the last century.” Or the United States during the Depression. “Meanwhile, the regime offers fully stocked food stores to foreign tourists, diplomats and businessmen in communism’s version of apartheid.” Yes, selling goods and services to tourists is just exactly like apartheid.

People, he said, are serving long acts of humanity in Cuban prisons for the crime of “dangerousness.” And he just happened to have the relatives of some of those prisoners with him, although he was rather vague about what it was they actually did – “advocating freedom,” “daring speak the truth about the regime,” etc. And of course he got several of their names wrong (speaking of names, he never uttered Castro’s once).

He even accused Cuba of probably doing other things that were pretty darned bad: “And as with all totalitarian systems, Cuba’s regime no doubt has other horrors still unknown to the rest of the world. Once revealed, they will shock the conscience of humanity.” Possibly it will be revealed that Castro doesn’t floss after every meal and occasionally scratches his balls. We just don’t know. But we do know it’s pretty darned shocking, whatever it is.

He called on all freedom-loving nations to help the Cuban people by letting them access the internet in their embassies’ lobbies.

And he generously offered “to invite Cuban young people whose families suffer oppression into the Partnership for Latin American Youth scholarship programs, to help them have equal access to greater educational opportunities -- if the Cuban rulers will allow them to freely participate.” In a program for “young people whose families suffer oppression.” I don’t know Cuba could turn down such an offer.

He reaffirmed his intention not to lift the economic sanctions on Cuba, which wouldn’t benefit the Cuban people anyway because “the source of Cuba’s suffering is not the embargo, but the communist system.” “As long as the regime maintains its monopoly over the political and economic life of the Cuban people, the United States will keep the embargo in place. ... America will have no part in giving oxygen to a criminal regime victimizing its own people.”

He told any Cuban schoolchildren who might be listening, “Do not believe the tired lies you are told about America.”

“The socialist paradise is a tropical gulag,” he said. So it’s a tropical socialist gulag paradise.

You know, Cuba may not be a paradise, socialist or otherwise, but it’s hard to take criticism of Cuba seriously when it’s so hyperbolic, and it’s impossible to forge a realistic foreign policy towards a cartoon version of a country that only exists inside George Bush’s chimp-like head.


Singapore’s parliament passes a new law legalizing heterosexual oral and anal sex (“carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” as the old British colonial law phrased it), while voting down a proposal to legalize gay male sex. Plan your vacations accordingly.

The 2nd weekly news-parody podcast by John Oliver of the Daily Show (and early episodes of Mock the Week, for my British readers) and Andy Zaltzman is available and recommended.

Bush talked fire with the Cabinet this morning: “I started off the meeting by summarizing a series of conversations that I’ve had regarding the fires in Southern California. I had a conversation with Governor Schwarzenegger....”

Here’s how I believe that conversation went:
Bush: Fire... bad.

Schwarzenegger: Fyuh... baahd.

Bush: Bad.

Schwarzenegger: Baaahd.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Will we have confidence in the liberty to be transformative?

Bush spoke this morning at the National Defense University. He went there because the students, unlike those of the inferior National Defense Community College, have been rigorously taught all about wars and stuff: “The men and women of the National Defense University understand what is at stake in today’s war. First of all, you understand we’re in war. And secondly, you understand the stakes of this war.”

BUSH CHANNELS STEPHEN HAWKING: “With the presence -- with the passage of time, the memories of September the 11th have grown more distant. That’s natural. That’s what happens with time.”

EMPTY CHATTER: “They intend to strike our country again. Oh, some dismiss that as empty chatter; I’m telling you, they intend to strike our country again.”

A REAL CHALLENGE: “And one of the real challenges we face is will we have confidence in the liberty to be transformative?”

He claimed that CIA torture of prisoners had thwarted numerous terrorist plots and posed a query: “Those who oppose this vital tool in the war on terror need to answer a simple question: Which of the attacks I have just described would they prefer we had not stopped?”

The main thrust of the speech was a call for Star Wars in Europe: “The need for missile defense in Europe is real and I believe it’s urgent.” How urgent? “Iran could develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States and all of Europe before 2015. ... Today, we have no way to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat”. The emerging threat that Iran will go to war with Europe in 2015. Sorry Europe, but honestly, I’m prepared to risk it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This is the chance to show it

Today Bush spoke to the cameras to demand from Congress yet another supplemental spending bill for his various and sundry wars, a mere $46 billion on top of the $150 billion he already asked for for this fiscal year. Ever the master of subtlety, he squeezed his appearance in between a Medal of Honor ceremony for a dead Navy Seal

and a meeting with “veterans and members of military support organizations, the family of the fallen. ... These patriots have come to the Oval Office to make sure -- and to make clear -- that our troops have the full commitment of our government. And I strongly agree that we must provide our troops with the help and support they need to get the job done.” See, it’s not him asking for that $46 billion, it’s the family of the fallen. He’s agreeing with their position.

Bush added, “I know some in Congress are against the war, and are seeking ways to demonstrate that opposition” but those ways should not be, you know, effective in any way. “I often hear that war critics oppose my decisions, but still support the troops. Well, I’ll take them at their word -- and this is the chance to show it, that they support the troops.” He’s so good to us.

Harry Reid says, “President Bush should not expect the Congress to rubber-stamp this latest supplemental request.” What a kidder!

And here’s Laura Bush at a breast cancer awareness event in Abu Dhabi. She looks very aware.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Republican debate: There’s nothing funny about Hillary Clinton being president

Transcript. Today’s pictures once again illustrate the many hand gestures of the Republican Party.

Thompson makes a fat joke about Ted Kennedy.

McCain says Romney trying to “fool” people about his own record and McCain’s, says the American people can’t be fooled. Maybe, but you’re running in the Republican primary...

Huckabee says “most” of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were clergymen. Wrong wrong wrong. There was just one.

Tancredo says Reagan brought freedom to El Salvador. I’m pretty sure he mistook El Salvador for Nicaragua. Not right in either case.

Guys, tell us what you really think about Hillary.

Romney wants a “national standard” for marriage. Possibly the Osmonds. Giuliani only supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage if there is more “judicial activism,” and so loves marriage that he performed 210 marriages as mayor, and “They were all men and women. I hope.”

Huckabee on health care: “when all the old hippies find out that they get free drugs, just wait till what that’s gonna cost”.

Giuliani thanks Florida for blowing the 2000 election.

Thompson says the Democrats “try our troops in the newspapers”. What is he talking about, the Haditha Massacre courts-martial?

McCain says he fought Hillary’s attempts to fund a Woodstock museum. Says he’s sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event; he was “tied up at the time.” So was Tancredo, but it was by a call girl. (Update: as I was writing this, 63 minutes after the end of a debate, an email arrived from the McCain campaign with “I was tied up at the time” as the subject line, so that’s what they want you to take from this debate.) Says “no one can be president... who supports projects such as these.” So Hillary is disqualified from the presidency by her support for the Woodstock museum.

Just as Thompson recently talked about the “Soviet Union” as if it still exists, McCain wants to install a missile defense system in “Czechoslovakia.” Says again that when he looked into Putin’s eyes, he saw three letters (one in each eye?): KGB. In Cyrillic, one presumes.

Guys, tell us what you really think about Reagan.

Thompson says Nancy Pelosi injected partisan politics by bringing up Armenian genocide. How is Armenian genocide partisan?

Er, I was eating during this debate, so I forget who thinks that if everyone was forced to buy private health insurance, the cost would be cut in half [Update: Giuliani]. And several of them said that Turkey was perfectly within its rights to invade Iraq, but I forget which ones. Sorry.

Thompson interrupts Brit Hume’s wrapping up to finish answering a question about whether he’s lazy, says that he’s not lazy because he was a father at 17 and he has two children under the age of 4 now. New Thompson slogan: Not Too Lazy To Fuck, Just Too Lazy To Put on a Condom.


In Iraq, the US military claims to have killed 49 “criminals” (a militia accused of kidnappings) in raids and air strikes on Sadr City, and sort-of-denies Iraqi government claims that it killed women and children in the process: “Ground forces reported they were unaware of any innocent civilians being killed as a result of this operation.” Unaware. Indeed, US forces do seem to be unaware of innocent civilians in Iraq period. Un-a-fucking-ware.

Prime Minister Evil Twin of Poland’s party has been defeated in early general elections, albeit by another right-wing party. The new prime minister will be Donald Tusk. Prime Minister Tusk. A Monty Python name if ever there was one.

Headline of the day (AP): “India Official Dies After Monkey Attack.”

This is the proposed design for the new National Library in Prague, aka The Blob, aka The Octopus. Not everyone is thrilled.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It’s important to be a commercial fisherman

This morning, Bush gave a speech on migratory bird conservation, of all things. He said, “I’ve come to discuss a strategy to enhance those habitats, without which many birds could become severely challenged.”

In the picture below are two creatures, one noted for its loud screech, the other a screech owl.


Then Laura unhinged her jaw and swallowed it whole.


Speaking of severely challenged, Bush then went to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where he made a joke about the Secret Service not allowing him to hunt with Cheney and signed an executive order to protect striped bass and red drum fish, if by “protect” you mean keep enough of them alive so that sport fishermen (so much for politically correct terms) can torture them with sharp hooks and asphyxiation. He said, “Good policy will help our commercial fishermen and good policy will help our sport fishermen.” Sounds like the fish are pretty much fucked either way. He said, “Listen, it’s important to be a commercial fisherman; I understand that.” Then he signed the executive order and went off to kill some fish.

Bush Going Fishing


Twitt Romney at the Values Voters Summit: “The American family is under stress. Is under attack. Ann and I are going to use the bully pulpit to teach Americans that before they have babies, they should get married.” The most Bush-like word in that sentence – no, it’s not “bully” – is “teach.” Just as Bush likes to “remind” people of things that are actually opinions, so Romney will “teach” his own prescriptive admonitions as if they were facts. That’s preaching, not teaching, and he doesn’t know the difference.

Friday, October 19, 2007

If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional

Another new California law: SB 568, allowing defendants mentally incompetent to stand trial to be forcibly medicated.

Michael Mukasey’s views of presidential power and torture turned out to be Gonzo Lite, which may be my nickname for him, although other suggestions are welcome in comments (I’ve chosen to forego “the alliterative Michael Mukasey” – is anyone disappointed by that decision? Thought not). In the future, no Bush administration hack should be allowed to use the word torture, especially in the sentence “we do not torture,” if they are unwilling to define it. Without definition, a word is meaningless, and they might as well say, “we do not blibblewog.” Asked whether waterboarding is torture, he claimed he didn’t know what waterboarding entailed. When it was described to him, he still said, “If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional.” Of course, under the Bushies, the Constitution has also been reduced to meaninglessness: If it amounts to blibblewog, it is not blibblewoggle.

I just spent one of the silliest half-minutes of my life trying to decide how one spells the adjectival form of blibblewog, a word I just made up.

I’m not sure why I felt obligated to check, but there are no Google hits for blibblewog (although, not surprisingly, there are for Gonzo Lite).

Tony Blair gave his first major speech since leaving office, wearing a tux and white tie yet, excoriating Iran and militant Islam, which he likened to fascism and said used “demonic skill” to exploit grievances and etcetera etcetera. The Guardian says he was “speaking at a charity event in New York,” but does not say what sort of charity such a speech was appropriate for. So I looked it up: the Alfred E. Smith Foundation. A Catholic group. Was that a smart choice of venue?

I have some left-over photos for your captioning pleasure. The Segway Boys are wounded soldiers.

And these are from an event today at which Bush announced more toothless sanctions on Burma’s military leaders.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Bush announces a cure for death

At a meeting with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Bush talked malaria: “Laura and I care deeply about the fact that young babies die on the continent of Africa and elsewhere needlessly.” But only when it happens needlessly.

And he’ll be doing something about those young babies (as opposed to old babies) dying needlessly: “We’re going to -- we’ll be sending a person on the ground there pretty soon to help implement the malaria initiative, and that initiative will mean spreading nets and insecticides throughout the country so that we can see a reduction in death of young children that -- a death that we can cure.”

We can cure mother-fucking death, baby!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bush press conference, in which is revealed what you ought to be interested in if you’re interested in avoiding World War III

Bush held a press conference today.

He started out with a long tirade about how “the new leaders in Congress have had more than nine months to get things done for the American people” but haven’t done shit.

And he wants to get shit done. “I’m looking forward to getting some things done for the American people. And if it doesn’t get done, I’m looking forward to reminding people as to why it’s not getting done.”

He’s eager to help Congress get shit done. Here’s his idea of helping: “And my job is to see if I can’t get some of that movement in the right direction, and at the same time, make sure that we’re part of the process. And one way the executive branch stays a part of the process is to issue veto threats and then follow through with them.”

Although he does think that he and the Congress are coming together on one thing: “We’re finding common ground on Iraq.”

One thing not on his to-do list for Congress: historiography. “one thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire.” Putting the archives in chronological order, that sort of thing. Could David Irving speak about the Holocaust more dismissively? “Congress has more important work to do than antagonizing a democratic ally in the Muslim world.” Because pissing off Muslims is a function of the executive branch. Says so in the Constitution. Separation of powers, people.

Asked whether Turkey has a legitimate right to invade Kurdish Iraq, which is a rather interesting question, he sidestepped and said it’s not in their interests (although he didn’t say why it isn’t).

Asked why he was going to the Dalai Lama ceremony later in the day when it would piss off the Chinese government (or “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” as the government likes to put it): “One, I admire the Dalai Lama a lot. Two, I support religious freedom; he supports religious freedom. Thirdly, I like going to the Gold Medal ceremonies.” Gold shiny. So shiny.

Since Bush wasn’t going to answer any questions about Israel’s airstrike on the supposed Syrian nuclear facility (or give a reason for refusing to talk about it), David Gregory asked if, back in 1981, he supported Israel’s airstrike on the Iraqi reactor. Bush explained that he was so blitzed that whole years have just vanished from his memory: “You know, Dave, I don’t remember what I was doing in 1980 [sic] -- let’s see, I was living in Midland, Texas; I don’t remember my reaction that far back.”

Asked whether he was going to declare victory on Al Qaida in Iraq, he didn’t, although he was tempted: “Yeah, we’ve hurt them bad in Iraq. ... If you’re the number three person in al Qaeda, you’ve had some rough goes -- you’ve either been captured or killed.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “And what’s happened is, in Iraq, is there’s been a lot of political reconciliation at the grassroots level. In other words, people that hadn’t been talking to each other are now talking to each other.”

The most quoted words on the presser, about Iran: “So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” We’re going to find all their physics and chemistry students, and get them all stoned.

But, dude, seriously, World War III?

IN OTHER WORDS, THIS ISN’T WORTH IT: “In other words, I think -- the whole strategy is, is that at some point in time, leaders or responsible folks inside of Iran may get tired of isolation and say, this isn’t worth it.”

NOT SO MUCH IN OTHER WORDS, AS CHANGING TO ANOTHER TOPIC: when asked about the housing crisis, he talked instead about job growth and the declining budget deficit. “In other words, there’s positive elements of our economy.”

Asked whether he was disappointed by Putin’s end-run around term limits, he talked about his great relationship with Putin, and why that’s so important: “You know, one of the interesting -- well, my leadership style has been to try to be in a position where I actually can influence people. And one way to do that is to have personal relationships that enable me to sit down and tell people what’s on my mind without fear of rupturing relations. ... That’s why, in Slovakia, I was in a position to tell him that we didn’t understand why he was altering the relationship between the Russian government and a free press -- in other words, why the free press was becoming less free. And I was able to do -- he didn’t like it. Nobody likes to be talked to in a way that may point up different flaws in their strategy. But I was able to do so in a way that didn’t rupture relations. He was able to tell me going into Iraq wasn’t the right thing. And to me that’s good diplomacy.”

So you told him something about the free press which he ignored completely, and he told you something about Iraq which you ignored completely. And to you that’s good diplomacy.

Then he said something about Russians that is precisely what he accuses people of saying about Muslims: “Now, in terms of whether or not it’s possible to reprogram the kind of basic Russian DNA, which is a centralized authority, that’s hard to do.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “See, they [the American people] understand al Qaeda and terrorism is still a threat to the security of this country. In other words, they’re still out there, and they’re still plotting and planning.”

Thinks he’s winning the argument about S-CHIP: “I find it interesting that when Americans begin to hear the facts, they understand the rationale behind the veto.”

Says he’ll wait to see whether Blackwater massacred all those Iraqi civilians in a good way or in a bad way: “There’s a lot of studying going on, both inside Iraq and out, as to whether or not people violated rules of engagement.” But he doesn’t wait that long: “I will tell you, though, that a firm like Blackwater provides a valuable service. They protect people’s lives. And I appreciate the sacrifice and the service that the Blackwater employees have made.”

Noah Webster he ain’t:
Q: The word “torture.” What’s your definition?

THE PRESIDENT: That’s defined in U.S. law, and we don’t torture.

Q: Can you give me your version of it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Whatever the law says.