Monday, December 31, 2007

If people want to be cynical about it, they’ll be cynical about it

Sgt Frank Wuterich, leader of the squad that carried out the Haditha Massacre, who both ordered the massacre and participated in it (see previous posts on Wuterich here and here, and all Haditha posts here) will be charged with manslaughter but not murder. 24 innocent civilians murdered, no one charged with murder.

Mike Huckabee, as you probably know, held a press conference today to unveil his “negative attack” ads against Romney (“No executions”, “Supported gun control”), but instead he announced that the ads, which he showed to the assembled reporters, would not run. Unless they do: an email he then sent out (which included the phrase I just quoted, “negative attack”), noted, “If it was run at all, it would be until the stations pulled it off their schedules.” So that’s all right then.

The ad ended, “If a man’s dishonest trying to get the job, he’ll be dishonest on the job.” And if a man’s a pious hypocrite trying to get the job... Asked if his showing the ad at the presser might spark cynicism, the Huck said, “If people want to be cynical about it, they’ll be cynical about it.”

Is that true?

No, there is no option for not being cynical about it. I mean, there is just... no... option.

Huckabee is presenting this as yet another of those tales of temptation and redemption those Baptists love so much: “I believe that Americans aren’t interested in politics that divide us, they want their leaders to focus on what will lift them up and make things better. I almost forgot that today in the face of the withering barrage of criticism we have endured over the last few weeks from my rivals. I say almost, because our negative ad won’t run.” Unless it does.

By the way, one of those things that will lift us up and make things better: banning abortion, the subject of another ad which he did start running today.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

With Jesus and Truckers magazine behind him, Huckabee can’t lose

Daily Telegraph headline: “Bhutto’s Son Given Key Role in Party.” The keys to Dad’s Jaguar? Maybe when you’re older, son.

Bhutto the Younger running the Pakistani opposition from his punt on the Cherwell reminds me of a story about the one-time master of Magdalen College, Oxford, greeting a new pupil who happened to be the imperial prince of Japan. He asked what his name, Prince Chichibou, actually meant. “The Son of God,” Chichi said. Warren replied, “Of course you’ll find we have the sons of many famous men here at Magdalen.”

Mike Huckabee went on Meet the Press this morning. He bragged about his accomplishments in Arkansas: “And I left my roads in great shape, took them from the worst in the country to what Truckers magazine said were the most improved.”

Russert brought up an old speech to the Southern Baptist Convention in which the Huckster called for “tak[ing] this nation back for Christ” and asked where that leaves non-Christians. Huckabee: “Oh, it leaves them right in the middle of America.” Surrounded by an electrified barbed-wire fence.

He stood by his old statements that homosexuality is a “sinful lifestyle,” explaining, “when a Christian speaks of sin, a Christian says all of us are sinners. I’m a sinner, everybody’s a sinner. What one’s sin is, means it’s missing the mark. It’s missing the bull’s eye, the perfect point,” adding, “The vagina, it’s missing the vagina. There, you made me say it, Russert, are you happy now? Are you happy?”

He said that gays may or may not be born “that way,” but “the behavior one practices is a choice. We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behavior––”, at which point he gulped and abruptly changed the subject.

He claimed that as governor he never tried to legislate his beliefs. But what about his attempts to ban abortion? Huckabee: “Well, that’s not just because I’m a Christian, that’s because I’m an American.” So that’s okay then. “It’s not a faith belief. It’s deeper than that. It’s a human belief. ... If I believe that your intrinsic worth is not changed by your ancestry, your last name, by your IQ, by your abilities or disabilities, if I value your life and respect it with dignity and worth because it is human, then that’s what draws me to the inescapable conclusion that I should be for the sanctity of every and each human life. ... I like it that in this country we treat each other--at least we should--with that sense of equality.” Would he send women who have abortions to prison? No: “I consider her a victim, not a, not a criminal.” So much for that sense of equality.

The best revenge

After inheriting the leadership of the Pakistan People’s (As Long As Those People Are Named Bhutto) Party, Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son, Oxford student Bilawal told reporters, “My mother always said democracy is the best revenge.” In response to a question, he answered, “Why no, I haven’t studied Irony yet, I believe that course is offered next term.” He will also be studying the History of Feudalism, which he says “will come in jolly handy.” He is anxious to return to his “chums” at Oxford. “They call me ‘the Paki Harry Potter.’ Most amusing!”

(If it’s not clear, the “best revenge” quote is real, the others not so much.)

See Dave Barry’s review of 2007, “a year that strode boldly into the stall of human events and took a wide stance astride the porcelain bowl of history.”

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Okay, maybe not that unexpected

Bill Clinton, campaigning for Hillary: “You have to have a leader who is strong and commanding and convincing enough ... to deal with the unexpected.” He added, “For example, when I got caught with Monica....”

What, like I’m the only one thinking it?

A healthy democracy

The London Times reports, under the subtle headline “Putin’s Babes Sex Up Duma,” that Putin has decreed that the United Russia party needs more of the aforementioned babes as candidates for the Duma, especially young former athletes who have posed for men’s magazines naked and/or semi-naked. But did the Times provide any pictures? It did not.

Politicizing this tragedy

Bush on New Year’s: “This weekend is a good time to give thanks for our blessings -- and to resolve to do better in the coming year.” Bush could spend all of 2008 lighting his farts and still do better than in any other year of his life.

Speaking of setting the bar unbelievably low, I’ve got another entry in the game of Gotcha against Huckabee: yesterday on McNeil-Lehrer I heard him refer to Benazir Bhutto as a candidate to be president of Pakistan.

But then Hillary Clinton, asked by Wolf Blitzer whether Musharraf should resign, said, “If President Musharraf wishes to stand for election, then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow.” Er, Hills, he was “re-elected” in October, until 2012. That’s kind of what all that fuss was about, with the fired supreme court justices and the state of emergency, remember?

Blitzer asked Hillary about Obama’s questioning of her judgment and thus her credentials for dealing with crises like this (and by the way, Obama gives the impression of reflexively opposing anything Hillary says, as when he argued against her call for an international investigation of the Bhutto assassination, saying, “It is important to us to not give the idea that Pakistan is unable to handle its own affairs.”). She said Obama is “politicizing this tragedy,” whereas she of course is “focused on extending my sympathy to Benazir Bhutto’s family.” Through a CNN-O-Gram.
Let me express my sorrow that Benazir is dead,
By speaking live on satellite with a talking head.
Let’s see, what rhymes with Blitzer...?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Courage and common sense

An email from Moldy Joe Lieberman today asked for donations to McCain, saying, “When others were silent, and it was thought politically unpopular, John had the courage and common sense to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq and to call for more troops and a new strategy there.” 1) No one likes an I-told-you-so. 2) McCain didn’t tell us so, at least not in the, you know, real world. 3) Lieberman certainly didn’t tell us so, claiming over and over that everything was going swimmingly in the quagmire, so he should really be asked if he lacked the courage and common sense he claims McCain had.

Mike Huckabee says our response to the situation in Pakistan should be to “have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our border, and particularly to make sure, if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.” In fact, he’s calling for a fence to be built along the US-Pakistan border.

(I originally made that joke in a comment on Left I, before hearing that the Huck thinks Afghanistan is to the east of Pakistan.)

Scene from a New Zealand-Bangladesh cricket match.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto assassination

Wonkette has a gallery of photos of Benazir Bhutto’s rally, before and after the assassination. Not for the weak of stomach. I couldn’t spot a single woman other than Bhutto in any of the pictures: not at the rally, among the dead, or in the mourning crowds.

When he put her under house arrest last month, Musharraf said it was because of threats against her by a foreign intelligence agency. He should now be asked to be a little more specific.

Heard some of Musharraf’s statement pretending to feel sad about Bhutto’s death. Not for the weak of stomach.

Bush’s statement was his usual one-size-fits-all one about “murderous extremists” trying to “undermine Pakistan’s democracy” (which does not exist), of the need to bring the perpetrators to justice (which does not exist, with the lawyers in jail and any even slightly independent judges fired), of the need “to honor Benazir Bhutto’s memory by continuing with the democratic process,” by which he presumably means the elections Musharraf intends to rig after banning his opponents from running. Bhutto, Bush said, “refused to allow assassins to dictate the course of her country.” Um, George, what do you think just happened?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The culture of being outdoors

I’ve seen several headlines along the lines of “San Francisco Zoo Baffled by Tiger’s Escape.” Well, since they haven’t found any welding equipment, grappling hooks or lock picks, I’m going to venture a guess that Tatiana climbed and/or jumped out.

Amsterdam police are protesting a new rule that they not use cannabis whilst off-duty. Says the chairman of the police union, “Police should not be put in pigeonholes in which they can no longer be themselves.”

REACHING OUT TO REPUBLICAN VOTERS BY SHOOTING SOMETHING SMALL AND INOFFENSIVE: Mike Huckabee shot a pheasant in Iowa, saying, “Maybe it will show that I certainly understand the culture of being outdoors.”

The Huckster explained that it’s hunters who are the true conservationists. “It’s the hunters who actually keep the wildlife alive. A lot of people think that when you hunt you’re destroying the wildlife.”

REACHING OUT TO WOMEN VOTERS BY ASKING THEM TO PIPE DOWN, THERE’S A GAME ON, AND OH YEAH COULD YOU GET ME A BEER, HON?: Fred Thompson, asked about his abortion policy, turned naturally to... a football analogy: “We’re on the 10-yard line, and it’s like if we can’t score a touchdown on our own 10-yard line ... we won’t run a play that will take us to the other guy’s 20-yard line. I’m talking about doing something that can get done.” Which supposedly is meant to communicate something about restricting abortions at the state level. Then, “we can collect our marbles and see where we are then.”

Thompson also agreed with an Iowan bigot that hearing Spanish-language options when you call the power company is “sickening.” Also, having to press 1 for English leaves him plum tuckered out.

Preemption is not a pillar, it’s a means

Condi Rice gave a somewhat testy interview to Die Zeit. She took issue with the interviewer calling pre-emption one of the pillars of Bush’s foreign policy:
RICE: Well, first of all, preemption is not a pillar; it’s a means. It is --

Q: It’s a national security strategy.

RICE: It’s a national security means.
So that’s okay then.

She said that the reason so many Coalition of the Willing (COW) countries are pulling their troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq is that “many of [them] did not invest in their defense capacity for a long time.”

Somebody’s been hanging around Chimpy too long: “It’s as a component of peace, but also as a component of a moral responsibility of not to leave anybody living in tyranny if you can avoid it.”

She still claims that Hamas winning the Palestinian elections was a win for our side: “But you have a democratic government and a presidency that is the legitimate authority of the Palestinian people and you have Hamas unable to deliver and therefore stripped of some of the -- stripped of some of the romance of the resistance without responsibility.” So the Israeli blockade of Gaza = Hamas “unable” to deliver.

On Russian pressure against Star Wars being sited in Poland and the Czech Republic: “You know, when -- before Russia tells us what they think of a proposal, they go to the press. ... It’s pretty transparent. And so I think that -- I hope that they’ll reconsider their ways.” Elsewhere in the interview, she talked about Russia’s turn away from democratic values, but when it comes to diplomacy, here she is complaining about Russia being transparent and telling them to stop it.

Since I have been begged not to show any more scary pictures of Condi, I will illustrate this post instead with a charming picture of a chimp and his dog.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Yes, that is jolly belligerent

You know what I’m looking forward to? A BBC Radio 4 program
Wednesday on puns, by Stephen Fry.

A caption contest. The caption provided by the White House is: “President George W. Bush makes Christmas Eve telephone calls to members of the Armed Forces at Camp David, Monday, Dec. 24, 2007.” In case the poor writing confuses you, the members of the armed forces are not at Camp David, George is.

It’s been a long time since I posted personals from the London Review of Books, because for some reason only a few have been appearing on the LRB website lately. So if anyone’s looking for a date for New Year’s...
I begin each sexual performance with a tympani roll. I find it steadies the ship. Less than buoyant canal-boat dweller, amateur percussionist and bon viveur (M, 57) seeks not-easily intimidated woman to 55 with no small knowledge of crank-shaft engines, blue-note fades and behaviour-correcting medicines. Box no. 12/03

Some incidents in life are blacked-out for a reason. Much as I shudder to recall an incident at Dulwich in 1968 involving a goose, a penny whistle and the local priest, so you will probably twist in the wind whenever, in years to come, you’re forced to relate a tale about how you once replied to a personal advert in a flurry of mis-placed appreciation for what you regarded at the time as a heightened and sophisticated sense of irony. Man, 40. Hates geese. And priests. And whistling. Box no. 12/05

This advert is about as close I come to meaningful interaction with other adults. Woman, 51. Not good at parties but tremendous breasts. Box no. 12/08

I have a mug that says ‘I’m the World’s Greatest Lover’. I think that’s my referees covered. How about you? Man. 37. Bishopsgate. Box no. 12/09

Belligerent from the word fuck. Sod off. Box no. 18/03

This advert may well be the Cadillac of all lonely hearts adverts, but its driver is the arthritic granddad with a catalogue of driving convictions. Arthritic granddad (67) with a catalogue of driving convictions including ‘Driving whilst trying to turn the dang wipers off’, ‘Driving whilst wondering if his urology appointment has come through’, and ‘Driving whilst “Hey! Isn’t that where your aunt Maude’s first husband lived after the divorce came through? He’s settled in Jersey now. I could never stand him – he used to do this thing with his teeth…”’ WLTM someone who knows how stop the oven timer from beeping. box no. 01/01

Don’t listen to your inner voice in matters of the heart! Especially if your inner voice tells you to check his outgoing message box for evidence of a wife or ask why he always needs to be on the last train to Stafford instead of just staying the night. It’s a simple rule, but it’s a rule that will give us many happy – if somewhat tawdry –experiences together. Man, 38. Not in the slightest bit married. Remember that. box no. 01/05

I stole the contents of this ad from a highly successful banker (M, 53, annual income £500k + benefits) currently appearing on It’s funny because we honestly couldn’t be more different. Unless I was a woman. Or 12. Man. Older than 12 and not really a banker. box no. 01/06

To the guy with the wild grey hair and thin pony tail and bow-tie and white socks and chewed copy of Rimbaud and the lisp and excessive spittle and over-use of the word ‘platitudes’ and faint odour of taco meat who will no doubt reply to this advert much like he’s replied to every other advert I’ve ever placed in here: ‘eccentric’ is only a favourable adjective when it’s wrapped in an attractive package or earns over £200,000 a year and owns a holiday retreat in Tuscany. Other LRB-reading men should also note this. Replies from ‘normals’ or the stupidly rich only please to woman, 45, currently down to 37 seconds on her ‘tolerance of idiots’ metre. box no. 01/08

My last husband was a loser. If you’re not a loser please reply. Woman, 40. Incredibly simple criteria. box no. 01/09
[More of my LRB favorites here.]

Bad guys data

The most reassuring reassurance in the history of reassurances: FBI assistant director Thomas E. Bush III tells the BBC that innocent people have nothing to fear from the FBI’s planned new biometrics databank: “What we deal with is bad guys data”.

Marine Major Gen. Douglas Stone, who is in charge of American detention facilities in Iraq (we’ve met him before), is planning to contract out the “de-programming” of prisoners. He wants to hire “teachers, religious and behavioral science counselors” to “execute a program that effectively reintegrates [into Iraqi society] detainees, particularly those disposed to violent, radical ideology”. Gosh, how will people disposed to violent, radical ideology ever fit into Iraqi society? Or are all those positions already filled? Anyway, this reintegration will be effected by means of “enlightenment, deprogramming and de-radicalization sessions.” Does anyone else squirm a little at the thought of the US trying to “enlighten” and “deprogram” Muslims?

Romney accused McCain of “failing Reagan 101” by voting against tax cuts for the rich: “Reagan taught almost all of us in the Republican party that lowering taxes would grow the economy and was good for the economy and good for the individuals.”

What other valuable lessons might be taught in Reagan 101?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We’re too great a country for that

Bush’s radio address today was about Christmas and soldiers. Some people might find a contradiction between his remarks that “America is blessed to have men and women willing to step forward to defend our freedoms and keep us safe from our enemies” and “At this time of year, we acknowledge that love and sacrifice can transform our world”, but not George W.

Yesterday, Condi Rice said, “The United States doesn’t have permanent enemies, we’re too great a country for that.” I’m not sure what that means, possibly that we’re willing to forgive our enemies once we’ve bombed them into submission and changed their regimes. After all, love and sacrifice can transform our world – with extreme prejudice.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Headline of the Day

Fujimori Apologizes for Death Squads.”

And Quote of the Day, Huckabee on Guantanamo: “If anything, it’s too nice.” So the Republican candidates want to double Gitmo and make it half as nice.

There will always be someone who will pick you up and carry you

John McCain, ever the sentimentalist, sent out this holiday email:
My Christmas Story

As a POW, my captors would tie my arms behind my back and then loop the rope around my neck and ankles so that my head was pulled down between my knees. I was often left like that throughout the night.

One night a guard came into my cell. He put his finger to his lips signaling for me to be quiet, and then loosened my ropes to relieve my pain. The next morning, when his shift ended, the guard returned and retightened the ropes, never saying a word to me.

A month or so later, on Christmas Day, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw that same guard approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me, not looking or smiling at me.

After a few moments had passed, he rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp. After a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away.

That guard was my Good Samaritan. I will never forget that man and I will never forget that moment. And I will never forget that, no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up and carry you.

May you and your family have a blessed Christmas and Happy Holidays,

John McCain

You do not want to hear his Easter story.

(Update: it also comes in the form of a tv ad.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pity the poor photo-journalists

A man arrested on suspicion of growing cannabis was fed lunch in the holding cell, including what turned out to be a nice hash cake for dessert. The cake was evidence in another case, stored in the same refrigerator as the meals for prisoners. The surprising thing is that this occurred in the Netherlands, where one rather thought that cannabis-growing and hash cakes are entirely legal and that prisoners are routinely served hashish-based desserts. What is the world coming to?

Huckabee’s alliterative slogan is “Faith. Family. Freedom.” (in that order, presumably). Thompson’s is “The Clear Conservative Choice: Hands Down!”, the hands down bit referring once again to his refusal to do a show of hands at the debate, which they really are going to base their entire campaign around. I mean, sure, McCain spent all those years in a prison camp, but Fred Thompson stood up to the editor of the Des Moines Register.

Spare a sympathetic thought for the news photographers. Do you think AP photog Charlie Riedel wakes up in the middle of the night screaming?

Or AFP’s Paul J. Richards?

Bush press conference: People would rather not aggressively pursue people overseas

Amongst the other Democratic cave-ins, you may have missed one that got lost in the shuffle: they gave up on an attempt to ban federal aid to overseas family planning programs that include abortions.

Many of the presidential candidates aspire in their fundraising emails to a certain faux-folksiness. One sent out today, signed by Barack Obama personally, began with the salutation, “Hey –”. Is for horses, Senator Obama, is for horses.

Bush held a press conference today.

DOESN’T KNOW WHAT “MOMENT” MEANS: “I think recent days have been a moment that the country can be proud of.”

DUDE, ANY YEAR IN WHICH YOU “GOVERN” IS, BY DEFINITION, A PRETTY GODDAMNED ODD YEAR: “The American people did not elect us to govern in odd years, and campaign in even years.”

ORDINARY NON-RENDITION: About the CIA’s destruction of the torture tapes: “Until these inquiries are complete, until the oversight’s finished, then I will be rendering no opinion from podium.” Until the oversight’s finished? I’m waiting for it to fucking start.

When a politician starts talking about their recollection, we all know what it means: “It sounds pretty clear to me when I say I have -- the first recollection is when Mike Hayden briefed me.” Not even my first recollection (of when he heard about the destruction of the tapes), but the first recollection. He’s distancing himself from his own memory.

THAT’S MY HOPES: “My hope, of course, is that Russia is a country which understands there needs to be checks and balances, and free and fair elections, and a vibrant press; that they understand Western values based upon human rights and human dignity are values that will lead to a better country. That’s my hopes.” Notice how he defines “values based upon human rights and human dignity” as “Western” values.

IN OTHER WORDS, AND STUFF GEORGE FINDS “INTERESTING”: “What will be interesting next year is how the Russian President carries on his business -- the new Russian President. In other words, we’ll be together probably a couple of times next year, and it will be interesting to see how foreign policy is conducted and what the role of President Putin may be or not be.”

“Interesting” has returned as Bush’s one-size-fits-all adjective. He used it 9 times in 48 minutes.

THE PROCESS: “You know, I don’t view -- I just don’t view life as zero-sum. I think all of us deserve credit for getting some things done. The president constantly has to make sure that the executive branch is involved in the process, and one way is to -- is to use the veto.” So he wants credit for getting some things done, like using the veto to prevent getting some things done.

HE TRIES TO MAKE IT LESS THAT WAY: “I know we live in an environment here in Washington where -- I’m not saying you try to stir this up, but sometimes it’s beneficial to constantly harp on, well, they don’t get along here, or maybe they can’t agree here, it’s so-and-so versus so-and-so -- it’s an antagonistic world from some people’s point of view. I try to make it less that way and to focus on high priorities.”

WHATTA WE GOT? “And we got a lot of priorities for next year.”

LEAVE NO CHILD STRENGTHENED: “I spoke to Senator Kennedy on this issue, and Congressman Miller and Senator Enzi and Congressman Boehner about how to strengthen No Child.”

Asked about the presidential race, he came out in favor of candidates being consistent and having principles. Which winnows down the field just a little bit. Another important question he would ask candidates: “who are you going to surround yourself”. “And so my question would be, how do you intend to set up your Oval Office so that people will come in and give their advice?” I’m guessing some sort of a, you know, door?

Asked about the announced review of the strategy in Afghanistan, it turns out it isn’t actually about reviewing strategy, but about “assuring” people and making them “realize” things: “Part of the review is to -- is to assess how best to make sure our coalition partners realize there is a coherent strategy of which they are an integral part, all aiming to make sure that there is a presence that will assure the Afghan government and the Afghan people that people will be trying to help them with their security.”

IN OTHER WORDS, IS LIFE CHANGING BETTER?: “The question, of course, is, just like in Iraq, is there a follow-up to the security gains? In other words, is life changing better for the average citizen? That’s the question that we all got to be looking at. Unity governments are important, but does the average citizen realize that a free society is in his or her interest.”

VISITING ON THE SVTS: “And I visited with President Karzai on the SVTS [Secure Video Teleconference System] the other day, and it’s a question I basically asked him. I said, we were successful militarily, what’s happened in your country that you can point to that indicates that you’re taking advantage of better security in certain places? And he pointed out some interesting things. He talked about the, I think it’s 5 million children now going to school. It was an interesting measurement for him. He says, I believe we’re taking advantage of the security because more of our children are getting educated.” So NATO is now one giant group of crossing guards?

ALL OF A SUDDEN: “And now, all of a sudden, he [Karzai] talks about an expanding health care system and the infant mortality rate dropping. He talks about the roads that are being built so that the average citizen there can get their [ahem] crops to market.”

GEORGE, WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CONCERN? “Any my biggest concern is that people say, well, we’re kind of tired of Afghanistan, therefore we think we’re going to leave. That would be my biggest concern.”

STRAW MAN ALERT! STRAW MAN ALERT! “I believe if people are given a chance to be free, they will do so. Now, I understand some don’t believe that. It’s kind of like we’re the only ones that can be free; it’s kind of the ultimate isolationism, isn’t it?” No, it isn’t.

WHATTA WE GOT? On why he thinks the economy is strong: “we got flexible workplace”.

I KNOW I’M CONCERNED: “I know Americans are concerned about whether or not their neighbor may stay in their house.”

WHY THE BEST THING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT IS FOR AMERICANS TO BE RICH. REALLY REALLY RICH.: “See, it is hard to develop the technologies necessary to be able to make sure our standard of living remains strong and deal with greenhouse gases if you’re broke. If you don’t have any money, it is really hard to develop new technologies. And so we need to be prosperous for a lot of reasons, primarily so our citizens can have a good life; but also so that we’re wealthy enough to make the investments necessary to deal with greenhouse gases.”

GEORGE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT “ADVENT” MEANS: “I am -- to me, I am amazed that our country isn’t more robust in supporting the advent of nuclear power.” Because we don’t want to be robustly glowing in the dark?

WHAT GEORGE UNDERSTANDS: “And there’s isolationist tendencies in this world. People would rather stay at home. People would rather not aggressively pursue people overseas, and aggressively pursue freedom. I understand that.”

WHAT GEORGE IS NOT SURPRISED BY: “I’m not surprised we get criticized on a variety of fronts. And – on the other hand, most people like to come to our country, and most people love what America stands for. And so, it’s like I say about the presidency, people in America like the presidency and sometime they like the President. Get it?” I think so. You’re saying that most people like America but Americans, not so much.

WHEREIN BUSH SAVES THE TREASURY THE COST OF A LONG-DISTANCE PHONE CALL: “my patience ran out on President Assad a long time ago. And the reason why is, is because he houses Hamas, he facilitates Hezbollah, suiciders go from his country to Iraq, and he destabilizes Lebanon. And so, if he’s listening, he doesn’t need a phone call. He knows exactly what my position is.”

WHAT GEORGE DOES DURING HIS PREZNITZY: “That’s what I do during my presidency. I go around spreading goodwill and talking about the importance of spreading freedom and peace.” That’s a lot of spreading.

HAS THEY: “Pro-growth economic policies has worked.”

No one asked a question about the Turkish bombings and incursions into Iraq.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It’s a wonder what takes place here

Today Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, because, he said, dependence on oil “contributes to greenhouse gas admissions.” He’s admitting it now? Usually he just sniffs theatrically and looks accusingly at China.

Unlike Fred Thompson, who is still making a big deal about not raising his hand at the debate when asked if he believed in global warming, as if he took some great courageous moral stand. On Hannity and Colmes today (in a bit which was immediately emailed out by his campaign), he said he won’t raise his hand until Chief Justice Roberts swears him in. ‘Cuz hand-raising plum tuckers him out. If elected, he’ll take more vacations than Reagan and Bush put together.

Bit of excitement at the Eisenhower Executive Office Buildings this morning, as a fire broke out while Cheney was burning the videotapes of CIA torture sessions he kept in his man-sized safe to view during, ahem, “sessions” of his own.

In the afternoon, Chimpy went over to Bethesda. “It’s an honor to see the troops who have been wounded,” he said. Well, then it’s all been worth while. “But our citizens should never question whether or not the nurses and docs and caregivers are giving it their all in a professional way. They’re saving lives, and they’re healing hearts at the same time. And so it’s a -- it’s a wonder what takes place here”. Just aaalllll worth while.

Hey, stop calling Bush “Chimpy” already! We in the ape community take umbrage at that! Umbrage I say, sir! Good day to you, sir!

Tested. Ready. Now.

2-minute Giuliani ad. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll vomit in your own mouth. Not necessarily in that order.

His new motto: “Tested. Ready. Now.” I’m not sure if they’re intentionally invoking Nixon’s “Tanned, rested and ready,” and if so, why.

From the WaPo, making anti-American lemonade from anti-American lemons:
Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of “occupying forces” as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month.

That is good news, according to a military analysis of the results. At the very least, analysts optimistically concluded, the findings indicate that Iraqis hold some “shared beliefs” that may eventually allow them to surmount the divisions that have led to a civil war.

And Iraqi complaints about matters other than security are seen as progress. Early this year, Maj. Fred Garcia, an MNF-I analyst, said that “a very large percentage of people would answer questions about security by saying ‘I don’t know.’ Now, we get more griping because people feel freer.”
Freedom, ain’t it grand.

AFP photo of George Bush, through the magic of Christmas-Tree-o-Vision.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Little Sisters of the Poor Meet the Big Doofus of the Rich

Today Bush visited a Little Sisters of the Poor home for the elderly and talked about volunteerism. Between the little sisters and the little old people, this gave him many opportunities to bend down.

Said Bush, “And that’s one of the messages of the Christmas season, that I hope our fellow citizens...” Wait a minute, one of the messages of Christmas is about him and what he hopes? “...that I hope our fellow citizens reach out and find a neighbor in need, find out somebody who needs a loving pat on the back...” Although George tried that yesterday with Cheney, and the results were not pretty. “...or an elderly citizen who wants to know that somebody cares for them. It doesn’t take much effort” and then you’re done “caring” for another year.

“As I worked the tables I was most thankful that people here said that they pray for our troops”. Say, George, when you’re talking up the “universal call to love a neighbor just like you’d like to be loved yourself,” is “I worked the tables” really how you want to describe it?

Then they all whipped out their rulers. The results were not pretty. And then they brought out the ultimate instrument of punishment:

Monday, December 17, 2007

We’re helping them stay in a part of the American Dream is what we’re doing

Today Bush spoke about the economy to the Rotary Club of North Fredericksburg, Virginia, which is evidently “out in the country.” “People say, they’re probably wondering why would -- old George W. has got something important to say, why would he bother to come to a place out in the country?” Evidently it’s where jobs are created. And it’s “where dreams are lived,” which probably explains why all the Rotarians were in their underwear.

IN OTHER WORDS: He said that the economy doesn’t suck and that “productivity is high, in other words, our economy is becoming more productive as a result of the advent of new technologies.”

A FUTURE-TENSE IN OTHER WORDS, IN WHICH GEORGE IN OTHER WORDSes WORDS HE HASN’T EVEN USED YET: “In other words, what I’m about to tell you is, is that the Congress cannot take economic vitality for granted.”

IN OTHER WORDS, GEORGE HAS BEEN BREATHING IN THOSE JET FUMES AGAIN: “If the Congress can’t get the job done -- in other words, those jet fumes will start to be moving out pretty soon here, later on this week...”

TALKING ABOUT THE MORTGAGE CRISIS, GEORGE UNLEASHES SOME OF THE LINGO HE LEARNED AT MBA SCHOOL: “some people bought a house that they shouldn’t have been in the market... there are speculators who thought they could get -- buy nice, one of these reset mortgages and flip it, make some money” (from the old adage, buy nice, sell nasty). “But there are some people that are creditworthy that should be encouraged to stay in their homes.” We could throw rocks at them whenever they open their front door, or we could nail it shut or, oo, tigers. “[T]he bank doesn’t loan [sic] the mortgage anymore, the local lending institute doesn’t loan [sic] the mortgage anymore... And so some lenders [sic] aren’t sure where to turn.” Those sics were put in by some cheeky upstart at the White House who probably doesn’t even have a Harvard MBA.

REFINANCING THEIR MONEY: “We’re not bailing people out -- we’re helping them refinance their money, we’re helping them, you know -- we’re helping them stay in a part of the American Dream is what we’re doing, and it’s worthwhile to do that.”

The Treasury Dept, through a program amusingly called HOPE NOW, will “help people understand what is possible when it comes to finance and recourse and stay in your house.”

TO SUM UP: “And so I just want to let you know we got a strategy.” Color me reassured.

THIS COULD BE MISINTERPRETED: “And one of the things that Secretary Leavitt is doing is saying that if you’re interfacing with the federal government, then you got to post your price.”

WHAT THERE NEEDS TO BE: “there needs to be products like health savings accounts expanded.”

LOOK HOW I EDIT SOME WORDS OUT AND USE AN ELLIPSIS TO MAKE THIS BIT SOUND DIRTY: “We have an OB/GYN crisis in America... And they get sick of it, and say, I’m out of here.”

HE UNDERSTANDS THAT: “On electricity, there’s a lot of talk about electricity -- I understand that”.

BUT DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THIS: “So I can’t tell you why people aren’t for refinery expansion. I’m just telling you they ought to be.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “That’s why I’m against raising the gasoline tax. In other words -- we need to raise the gasoline tax.”

WHAT THE PRESIDENT’S JOB IS: “The President’s job is to think strategically for the country and help get fiscal sanity into the process.”

IN OTHER WORDS THAT SOUND KINDA DIRTY WITHOUT ANY EDITING ON MY PART: “Automobile -- I just told you that we’re going to become more efficient with our automobile -- we’re raising our fuel efficiency standards. In other words, cars and new technology and electricity are going to change how often people go to the pump.”

AN AMAZING, DEATH-DEFYING, DOUBLE IN OTHER WORDS: “And if you happen to go to a user fee system [toll roads], one of the interesting things that are being used is differential pricing. In other words, you pay a different price depending upon the day you drive; in other words, a market-oriented system.” Time of day, idiot, not the day itself. Also, it’s only a market-oriented system for those people who have alternatives.

WAIT, IT WAS ACTUALLY A TRIPLE IN OTHER WORDS!: “In other words, what I’m telling you is the funding system is antiquated relative to the challenges we’re going to be facing.”

In the Q&A, Bush gently corrects a questioner:
Q: But I’m concerned about the nations like Iraq, who now have nuclear weapons --

BUSH: Iran.

Q: Iran and Iraq both.

BUSH: Not Iraq.
STOP YOUR ENRICHMENT!: “That program is still active, in spite of the fact that most of the world has said to the Iranians, stop your enrichment.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “The ability to weaponize that material -- in other words, to make it into something that explodes -- that part of the program is what the intelligence people thought was ongoing at one time and suspended.” Ongoing and suspended? Is that like a Zen thing?

WHAT’S TO SAY? REALLY, WHAT’S TO SAY?: “If somebody had them a weapons program, what’s to say they couldn’t start it up tomorrow?”

IF YOU GIVE A MAN A NUCLEAR FISH: “Interestingly enough, today Russia sent some enriched -- or in the process of sending enriched uranium to Iran to help on their civilian nuclear reactor. If that’s the case, if the Russians are willing to do that -- which I support -- then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich.”

He says that this week he will be visiting Walter Reed and Bethesda “to tell those troops we love them”. Awwww.

ALL OF A SUDDEN: “People start showing up demanding ethanol, and all of a sudden somebody figures out how to supply it.”

It’s not more important than friendship

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has generously pardoned the gang-rape victim sentenced to six months and 200 lashes. See, women in Saudi Arabia don’t have it so bad after all.

Holy Joe Lieberman, wearing a Christmas-y sweater, has endorsed John McCain, thus making his election well nigh inevitable.

Sez His Holiness, “Political party is important...” The Connecticut for Lieberman Party? “...but it’s not more important than what’s good for the country and it’s not more important than friendship.” Awww, fwendship. Because it’s all about you, Joe, and who’s nice to you.

McCain: Say, you really are circumcised.

Lieberman is pretending that he might have endorsed a Democrat – because he’s an independent, you know – but none of them asked him.

Reached for comment, Al Gore just sighed and rolled his eyes.

I believe a CONTEST is called for: what position should Holy Joe get in a McCain administration? And don’t all say “fluffer.”

Sunday, December 16, 2007

You can look inside my mouth if you want

Although Israel’s Wall has annexed the land of many Palestinians to Jerusalem and thus to Israel, Israel has decided
not to give the residents of that land Israeli residency rights such as the right to work in Israel. Charming.

I’m so glad our presidential candidates are selected in Iowa. Today Hillary Clinton campaigned in a cattle barn in which auctions are normally held, saying she felt like she was being bid on and “I know you’re going to inspect me. You can look inside my mouth if you want.” So now we can all have that image in our heads.

Romney on God and abortion and his irrational fear of the color pink

On Meet the Press, Twitt Romney explained that his “freedom requires religion” line wasn’t really him, it was actually a paraphrase of John Adams and maybe George Washington as well. This is what happens when our upper classes no longer read Latin and Greek: Romney has mistaken the Founders’ classics-inspired discussion of the role of virtu in a republic for an endorsement of the Christian religion. Sez Twitt: “We, we believe, as a nation, from the founding of this nation, that God gave the individual certain inalienable rights.” Shorter Twitt: America believes in God.

He did admit that “on an individual basis, you have many individuals of great morality and--that, that don’t have any particular faith.” Two things about that sentence: 1) he describes atheists as if they just hadn’t yet chosen from among the many fine branches of Christianity available to them. 2) Note his repetition of the word individual: he’s prepared to tolerate some people not having any particular faith, but they are to be considered mere isolated individuals; collectively, he defines Americans as a God-bothering people.

He says he heard the decision letting blacks be full members of the Mormon church on his car radio when he was 31 (he doesn’t say if his dog was tied to the roof at the time), and had to pull over to weep. Russert fails to ask why, if the church’s previous racist policy was so repugnant to him, he never did a damned thing to change it or protest in any way.

His mother ran for the Senate in 1970? How did I not know that?

On his flip flop on abortion, he says “I was always personally opposed to abortion, as I think almost everyone in this nation is.” No, “almost everyone” is not.

Says Huckabee’s criticism of Bush’s foreign policy as arrogant and exhibiting a bunker mentality “went over the line” and he should apologize.

For some reason, it was very important to him to deny a report that his house is pink.

2007 in pictures

It’s time for the annual selection of the pictures that defined 2007, as far as this blog was concerned. And if those pictures were, as in previous years, mostly pictures of George Bush looking goofy, that’s something we’ll all just have to live with.



Condi 1.11.07   1.jpg