Saturday, May 31, 2008

Straight lines

as given by George Bush during a commencement address at Furman University:

“Yet I found, as you will, the world has a way of helping you to grow.”

“Culture of responsibility”

“In the next few years, you may find it tempting to amass more debt... on expenses that bring little long-term benefit.”

“If you choose a career in public service, maintain the highest ethical standards, bring honor to whatever position you hold, and always put the people you serve ahead of yourself.”

“Popular culture can give you the impression that alcohol, drugs, or promiscuity can lead to fulfillment in life. It’s an illusion, and I urge you to reject it.”

“There’s no shame in recognizing your failings”

Unclear on the concept

In his weekly radio address, Bush complains “A month has passed since I nominated Steve [Preston] to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Unfortunately, Senators have stalled this nomination over an issue that has nothing to do with Steve or his qualifications for the job.” I had to google to find out what the hell he’s talking about, and it turns out the senators in question are Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both of Tennessee, who are retaliating against Harry Reid for blocking nominees to the TVA until there are more, or indeed any, Democrats on its board. Bush didn’t mention that the senators he’s complaining about are Republicans. Funny that.

Funny-sad story of the day: women supporters of Al Qaida are complaining about sexism in the organization.

Friday, May 30, 2008

I can look you in the eye and tell you it’s succeeding

All week McCain has been trying to score cheap points off Obama for only having visited Iraq once – 873 days ago as an email from his campaign helpfully points out. Funny how he knew that number but not whether the number of US troops stationed in Iraq was greater or less than before the “surge.” The whole thing puts some of McCain’s worst traits on display.

First, he is every bit as smugly superior, self-regarding and condescending as Joe Lieberman, although it doesn’t come across as blatantly.

Second, he will not admit to mistakes even in checkable statements of fact, much less mistakes in judgment. George Bush has taught us how dangerous that sort of stubbornness can be. McCain claimed “We have drawn down to pre-surge levels,” but when caught out, weasely tried to edit the last three words out of his own statement in order to pretend that he hadn’t erred: “I said we have drawn down. And we have drawn down.”

Third, his approach to information-gathering and analysis seems to be dangerously unsophisticated. Just as Bush privileges his “instinct” over the, you know, facts, McCain has been going on and on about Obama having “zero first hand knowledge of conditions on the ground” and not having “take[n] the opportunity to sit down with General Petraeus and learn about the situation in Iraq firsthand” (quotes taken from two campaign emails), as if only the information one can gather with one’s own eyes or ears counts and as if such information is sufficient. John McCain don’t hold with none o’ those new-fangled forms of communicating data, like writing and film footage and statistics etc etc – after all, they didn’t have any of those things when he was growing up. It’s not just an anti-Obama talking point, either: he told reporters “I can look you in the eye and tell you it’s [the surge] succeeding,” as if his physical presence, his ability to look someone in the eye while making his claim, somehow proves the veracity of that claim. A president has to make decisions about literally thousands of issues he cannot personally investigate. Plus, of course, McCain is perfectly capable of personally investigating Iraq by spending a couple of days there, visiting a market surrounded by a hundred soldiers, and think he has gleaned the reality of the situation.

McCain is belittling not only Obama, but the vast majority of the citizenry as well. Many Americans will base their votes in November in large part on the war, but if McCain can dismiss as without value the considered opinion of a United States senator who has only visited Iraq once, in what low esteem must he hold the views of those of us who have the impudence to form them without ever having been there?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bonus Bush-looking-like-a-doofus pictures!

More pictures from yesterday’s Air Force Academy graduation ceremony, including a nice sequence from the AP’s Charles Dharapak.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Better killing through technology

Today Bush gave the commencement address at the United States Air Force Academy.

The speech was interesting for its theme of the ways in which “revolutionary advances in technology are transforming warfare.” See if this version of the last six years accord with your memory of that period: “With this military technology, we can now target a regime without targeting an entire nation. We’ve removed two cruel regimes in weeks instead of years.” And then we all lived happily ever after.

And future wars will be even neater: “with these advances, we can work toward this noble goal: defeating the enemies of freedom while sparing the lives of many more innocent people -- which creates another opportunity, and that is, by making war more precise, we can make war less likely. For hostile dictators, it is a powerful deterrent to know that America is willing and able to target their regimes directly. When rulers know we can strike their regime while sparing their populations, they realize they cannot hide behind the innocent -- and that means they are less likely to start conflicts in the first place.” Less likely... to start... oh, my poor head.

Our enemies, however, will not use our super-keen, super-clean hi-tech warfare, scum that they are, but will engage in the bad kind of warfare: asymmetric warfare. Remember: in our wars, any suffering of the innocent is caused only by the other side. “They take advantage of the information age and the 24-hour news cycles, creating images of chaos and suffering for the cameras, in the hope that these images will horrify the American people and undermine resolve and morale here at home.” They don’t know us very well, do they?

“Another challenge in this new and unprecedented era is defining success. In the past, that was relatively easy to do. There were public surrenders, a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship, victory parades in American cities. Today, when the war continues after the regime has fallen, the definition of success is more complicated. So in Iraq and Afghanistan, we set a clear definition of success: Success will come when al Qaida has no safe haven in those countries and the people can protect themselves from terror. Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are economically viable. Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies that govern themselves effectively and respond to the will of their people. Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are strong and capable allies on the war on terror.” Er, George, “clear definition”? There isn’t one of those criteria that isn’t entirely subjective.

(Update: more pictures in the next post)

Book report

Press Secretary Dana Peroxide says that Bush probably won’t comment on the memoirs of her predecessor Scotty McClellan, who she describes as “disgruntled”: “The book, as reported by the press, has been described to the President.”

Well, sir, a book is a bunch of pages, with printed words on them...

What (sniff) happened

Scott “Flopsweat” McClellan has a book out. He says that in 2000 he overheard Bush telling someone that he couldn’t remember if he’d used cocaine or not. Little Scotty writes, “I remember thinking to myself, ‘How can that be?’”

Er, he can’t remember taking cocaine because he took a really, really, really large amount of cocaine?

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It means there’s jobs at the machine-makin’ place

Today, Bush went to Arizona. Look how excited he is!

Many little bottles of tequila later, he arrived in Phoenix, still pretty excited, but smelling vaguely of urine.

Before the top-secret McCain fundraiser, he went on a field trip to the Silverado Cable Company, possibly to complain about HBO’s “Recount” (which was superb, by the way), only it’s not that sort of cable company but, evidently, “a well-established and highly respected manufacturer of custom wire harnesses and cable assemblies.”

AND NOTHING STIMULATES ACTIVITY LIKE A NEW LASER MACHINE, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN: “these guys were showing me a new laser machine they purchased this year, and they purchased it this year because the stimulus package provided a tax incentive to do that. And the reason why that’s important is when the economy slowed down, we wanted to stimulate activity.”

HE’S GOT AN MBA, YOU KNOW: “And so the fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there’s jobs at the machine-makin’ place”.

THEY DREAMED ABOUT CUSTOM WIRE HARNESSES AND CABLE ASSEMBLIES: “Congratulations on being dreamers and doers.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

An awesome bunch of dead people

Bush gave his Memorial Day speech at Arlington today.

HE FEELS PROUD AT [SIC], BUT NOT AT ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR: “On this Memorial Day, I stand before you as the Commander-in-Chief and try to tell you how proud I am at the sacrifice and service of the men and women who wear our uniform.”

AWESOME, DUDE! “They’re an awesome bunch of people and the United States is blessed to have such citizens.”

He presented this awesome bunch of people as tin soldiers without recognizably human emotions: “Like the nation they serve, they do not glory in the devastation of war. They also do not flinch from combat when liberty and justice are embattled.” They may flinch every time a car backfires for the rest of their lives, but good luck getting help from the VA.

Then it was time to look all squinty and somber-like.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wherein is revealed the best way to create economic vitality

Friday, Bush was interviewed by Neil Cavuto on the Fox Business Network, mostly about the Colombian free-trade treaty, defeat of which “will embolden those voices of false populism, like I’m not going to say, people who are anti-American.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “If you look at the statistics, 40 percent of the economic growth that occurred over the past year is as a result of exports. In other words, we’ve had problems at home.”

ONE AMAZED AND TWO VERY CONCERNED: “I mean, these leaders that I talk to - and I talk to leaders a lot - are just, one, amazed and, two, very concerned that the United States is turning inward.”

HE HAS AN MBA, YOU KNOW: “You know, people who worry about global poverty, for example -- and I do - must understand that the best way to help people come out of poverty is for there to be economic vitality. And the best way to create economic vitality is for there to be trade of goods and services.” Or capture a leprechaun and get his pot of gold. You know, whichever.

Asked if he might ask for help from Bill Clinton and other pro-trade-treaty D’s, he said that he would indeed reach out to “former Democrat administrative officials.” Democrat. Just can’t help himself (and couldn’t bring himself to utter his predecessor’s name, any more than he could Hugo Chavez’s).

When killing unarmed civilians is appropriate

The Marines have decided not to charge two officers in the unit that responded to an explosion in Afghanistan in March 2007 by shooting up an entire highway for six miles as they rode to safety, killing 19 civilians. The Marines say that they “acted appropriately and in accordance with the rules of engagement and tactics, techniques and procedures in place at the time in response to a complex attack”. So that’s okay, then. The findings of the Court of Inquiry will be kept secret.

I delayed commenting on the report that Chinese officials, presumably secret police, were allowed to interrogate Chinese prisoners at Guantanamo after their American captors had softened them up with sleep deprivation (possibly the same prisoners who were ultimately sent to Albania because they would have been tortured if sent back to China), because I assumed there would be more information or official comment forthcoming, but that would have required politicians or journalists giving a rat’s ass.


Today, Bush greeted the motorcycle gang Rolling Thunder on the South Lawn. But there was something wrong: George had come dressed as The Man.

For the three of you reading blogs today, a CAPTION CONTEST:

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Headline of the Day (the Independent): “Hindu Shrine Staff Win Right to Keep Their Underpants On.”

The Indy also brings us “The Man Who Eats Cat Food for a Living.”

And the AP tells us, “FDA Warns Mothers about Nipple Cream,” which is more provocative if you don’t read the actual story.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Evolved in the context of democracy

A few quotes from Condi Rice. I have no clever remarks about them, unless shouting “bullshit” counts as a clever remark.

At Google hq yesterday, Condi Rice responded in a Q&A session (for which there seems to be no transcript) to a question about waterboarding, in light of the newly disclosed information that after 9/11 she personally approved of specific torture techniques: “whatever was legal in the face of not just the attacks of Sept. 11, but the anthrax attacks that happened, we were in an environment in which saving America from the next attack was paramount”. As opposed to following the law, I think she’s saying. But, she went on, there has been a “long evolution in American policy about detainees and about interrogations” since then: “They have evolved in the context of democracy, they have evolved in the context of the constant debate about our values... I think that we are now in a different place now then we were.”

She went on to defend the torture as having produced good intel about Al Qaida.

After the Google event, she talked with reporters, and said, “I think in terms of human rights, we’ve done everything that we can to make Guantanamo a place that human rights are respected.” Really, everything they can. They can’t think of a single solitary thing they could do to make Gitmo a place that human rights are respected that they aren’t already doing.

That’s the practicality of trade

Today I was startled by a sign in a store window until I got closer and realized that from the angle at which I was approaching the last three letters had been cut off: “Recession Sale. Let us make your dollar go farther.”

To make it even better, it was a Hallmark store.

Speaking of making your dollar go fart, this morning Bush gathered some oranges and motorcycles and construction equipment and God knows what else on the South Lawn to celebrate World Trade Week.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING COMPETENT: It’s a joy to welcome entrepreneurs and business leaders and folks who understand the importance of this country being competent enough to work to open up markets for our goods and products and services.

He introduced the secretary of commerce: “Carlos Gutierrez is the Secretary of Commerce. Trade means commerce.”

He introduced his subject matter: “Today I’m going to spend some time so our fellow citizens understand the importance of trade by connecting trade with products with jobs.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “For some in Washington, trade is a political issue. In other words, people think it makes good politics to say we’re not going to let you trade.” He went on to castigate “[t]he politicians in Washington who use trade as an issue to frighten voters”.

DUDE, WHAT’S UP WITH THE HARLEY? “[A]nd the reason why we’ve asked you to bring some of your products here is to remind people that that motorcycle is made by American workers, and that if we’re able to more likely sell those motorcycles into Colombia, for example, or Panama or South Korea, that the worker who made that is more likely to get a pay raise or have somebody else join him or her on the floor. That’s the practicality of trade.”

Bush found many things to be interesting, among them:
And it turns out, if you’re working for a company that exports goods and services, you make better money. Isn’t that an interesting fact?

Most of the goods coming from Colombia enter America duty-free -- isn’t that interesting?

It’s interesting, I’ve been -- you know, I constantly talk to fellow leaders on the telephone, and as you know, I’ve been traveling as well. And I’ve been asked quite frequently: Why is it that your Congress won’t pass a free trade agreement with Colombia, for starters?
He named some facts which he wanted to remind our fellow citizens of: “One, our economy grows better when we export; two, there are jobs.”

WHAT IT SEEMS LIKE YOU WANT IF YOU’RE A FARMER: If you’re a farmer, it seems like you want people to work hard to make it easier for you to sell that orange somewhere else.

IN OTHER WORDS: “When you say ‘level the playing field,’ what I’m talking about is reducing tariffs on goods and services, which makes it easier to sell -- in other words, it’s less expensive.”

HE’S GOT AN MBA, YOU KNOW: “The quality is the same, but the price is less, which makes it more likely something is going to be purchased.”

REALLY, AN MBA. FROM HARVARD AND EVERYTHING: “Fruits, oranges -- these oranges right here are taxed at 15 percent going into Colombia -- 15 percent more expensive, 30 percent more in South Korea and 15 percent more in Panama. ... So those are percentages, but you need to think about the percentage in terms of, it’s that much more expensive to buy.”

WHAT BUSH HASN’T GIVEN UP HOPE THAT: “I haven’t given up hope that the people will recognize that obstructionism is not leadership”.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


George Bush has issued a proclamation of a – wait for it – prayer for permanent peace, for Memorial Day (turns out those words are in a 1950 law about Memorial Day). What else are we supposed to pray for Monday? “[T]hat our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they have made.” And “We pray for the members of our Armed Forces and their families, and we ask for God’s continued guidance of our country.” No fair putting the blame on God for the way this country’s been guided, George.

Today, George went to Fort Bragg to get himself some smoochies with a mother of one dead soldier,

and the widow of another.

How does the advance prep for this sort of event work? Does someone call her up and ask, “Say, would you come on out for the president to give you a posthumous medal and, oh, by the way, would you get all Cindy Sheehan if he also slobbered on you a bit? Would that be okay?”

Then (or possibly earlier), he went to inspect a barracks bathroom. No, really.

This is the bathroom – the very bathroom! – seen on YouTube last month with overflowing sewage. They’ve cleaned it up, so now the only visible piece of shit... well, you all know where I’m going with this.

(Update: lovely WaPo headline: “Bush Tours Once-Squalid Latrine.”)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A cruel joke perpetrated on a long-suffering people

Today, as mentioned in my previous post, is the national Day of Solidarity with the Cuban People. Hurrah!

George Bush celebrated by going on an emotional roller-coaster: “This is a day of pride, as we honor the culture and history of a noble nation. It is a day of sorrow, as we reflect on the continued oppression of the Cuban people. Most of all, this is a day of hope.” So, that’s pride, sorrow and hope (but not necessarily in that order). Collect all three!

Bush will allow Americans to send cell phones to Cuba, because what Cuba really needs is morons wandering around the streets talking loudly into cell phones.

Bush noted that Cubans will now be allowed to buy consumer goods such as DVDs, computers and toasters, but chided, “It is the height of hypocrisy to claim credit for permitting Cubans to own products that virtually none of them can afford.” Whereas in this country, we’re all given free automobiles and big-screen tv’s and health care.

Bush said he doesn’t believe the Cuban government will really implement reforms: “its recent gestures appear to be nothing more than a cruel joke perpetrated on a long-suffering people.” Isn’t that John McCain’s campaign slogan? A Cruel Joke Perpetrated on a Long-Suffering People in ‘08!

He predicted, “The day will come when Cubans freely receive information from many sources.” Like he’d know anything about that.

He further predicted, “The day will come when Cubans can speak their dissent and change their jobs and leave their country and return to it.” But not necessarily in that order.

“And the day will come when they can worship the God Almighty without fear.” Well what’s the fun of that?

And then he attempted the most important freedom of them all: the three-way.

There’s solidarity with the Cuban people, and solidarity with the Cuban people, is all I’m saying.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wherein a request is made of the Almighty

George Bush, in a Proclamation of a day of solidarity with the people of Cuba (that would be Wednesday, for those of you playing at home), says, with nary a hint of arrogance, that “The United States is rallying the free world to the cause of Cuban liberty.”

But that’s not all he’s rallying. He literally requests, in the name of the American people, (note the use of the “we”) that God perform a regime change in Cuba: “Especially on this Day of Solidarity, we ask the Almighty to comfort and strengthen those who suffer under the Castro dictatorship -- and to hasten the day when Cuba’s suffering comes to an end.”

Caption contest

Not only have I got nuthin’ today, but my computer is acting up. Anyone want to buy me a new one?

Your caption contest, Bush in the Chinese Embassy, doing the hard work of attempting to sign his name in a book of condolence for the victims of the earthquake.

Monday, May 19, 2008

They didn’t stay in the hive when they came to kill 3,000 of our citizens

The Bushies put out a thoroughly pissed-off letter to NBC about The Today Show’s “deceitful editing” of an interview with him that aired this morning, saying that it distorted his response to a question about his speech to the Knesset about how talking with Iranian leaders would be “appeasing” Iran. In fact, Bush was distorting his own words.

It all comes down to what the meaning of “appease” is. Many commentators have pointed out that Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler did not consist of merely talking with him but of giving him permission to dismember and swallow Czechoslovakia, and that neither Obama nor anyone else is proposing to give permission for Iran to dismember the Czech Republic (although, honestly, they can have Slovakia for all I care) or any other country. The Bushies’ new definition of appeasement, which I don’t think is to be found in any dictionary, is not listening closely enough. Bush:
People need to read the speech. You didn’t get it exactly right, either. What I said was is that we need to take the words of people seriously. And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you’ve got to take those words seriously. And if you don’t take them seriously, then it harkens back to a day when we didn’t take other words seriously. It was fitting that I talked about not taking the words of Adolf Hitler seriously on the floor of the Knesset.
In fact, this was not at all how he deployed the charge of appeasement in his Knesset speech: he did not talk about not taking the words of Hitler seriously and he did in fact condemn the proposal to hold talks with Iran as appeasement.

Elsewhere in the NBC interview, Bush, asked if his speech gave Israel a green light to attack Hezbollah and Hamas, said “You can read into it what you want to read into it,” but added in a mutter that that certainly wasn’t his intention. So it’s not his intention, but we can read that into it?

Of Hamas, he said, “They’ve done a disaster of running Gaza.”

Asked if his actions haven’t created more enemies of the United States than they’ve eliminated, Bush again equated all his military actions with “confronting” the 9/11 hijackers: “That theory says by confronting the people that killed us, therefore there’s going to be more -- therefore we shouldn’t confront them? ... It’s just the beehive theory – we shoulda just let the beehive sit there and hope the bees don’t come out of the hive... And somehow to suggest the bees would stay in the hive is naive – they didn’t stay in the hive when they came to kill 3,000 of our citizens.” Buzz buzz.

The letter to NBC, signed by Ed Gillepsie, is really quite pissy in tone. And I think the central charge that the editing of the interview distorted Bush’s meaning is unfounded, having watched the edited and unedited versions. The letter also asks the network to apologize for ever having described Iraq as being in a civil war, demands that it stop using the word recession, and concludes snottily, “I welcome your response to this letter, and hope it is one that reassures your broadcast network’s viewers that blatantly partisan talk show hosts like Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann at MSNBC don’t hold editorial sway over the NBC network news division.”

Number 8 in the series, “Everything You Need to Know About the Economy You Can Tell By the Expression on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s Face.”

Democracy does not threaten Islam

Bush, in his speech Sunday: “Democracy does not threaten Islam or any religion. Democracy is the only system of government that guarantees their protection.”

Also Sunday, Kuwait held its legislative elections, in which pretty much every winner is a hardliner Islamist of either the Sunni or Shiite persuasion (and, in the second Kuwaiti election in which women were permitted to vote, none were elected to office).

Also Sunday, in Afghanistan, which Bush in his speech said is “building a free society,” journalist Sayed Parvez Kambakhsh appealed his death sentence for blasphemy. Although, to be fair, Bush said that religion is protected in democracy, not that blasphemy is protected. So that’s okay, then.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bush in the Middle East: We’ve made our mark by advancing ideals as old as the pyramids

At Sharm el Sheikh, Bush met with Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani.

WHAT THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS: “And one area where our relations can be productive is we cooperate on economic matters, because the truth of the matter is, in a population that has got hope as a result of being able to find work, is a population that is going to make it harder for extremists and terrorists to find safe haven.”

Later, he addressed the World Economic Forum. He talked about democracy, which he commended to the assembled autocrats. He also told them they should really give bacon a try, they didn’t know what they were missing.

KILLING THE NATIVES AND TAKING THEIR LAND? “America is a much younger nation, but we’ve made our mark by advancing ideals as old as the pyramids.”

SO HE DOESN’T LIKE THE “NO JIHADI LEFT BEHIND” PROGRAM? “The key to realizing this goal is an educated workforce. This starts early on, with primary schools that teach basic skills, such as reading and math, rather than indoctrinating children with ideologies of hatred.”

WHAT GEORGE UNDERSTANDS: “There are skeptics about democracy in this part of the world, I understand that.”

First, do no Sharm

“For example, some say that democracy is a Western value that America seeks to impose on unwilling citizens. This is a condescending form of moral relativism. The truth is that freedom is a universal right -- the Almighty’s gift to every man, woman, and child on the face of Earth.” See? it’s not a Western value, it’s just that we’re the ones who support God’s “truth.”

“There are people who claim that democracy is incompatible with Islam. But the truth is that democracies, by definition, make a place for people of religious belief.” Obama’s scary black preacher, for example, has a place in Republican attack ads. “America is one of the most -- is one of the world’s leading democracies, and we’re also one of the most religious nations in the world. More than three-quarters of our citizens believe in a higher power.” Angelina Jolie?

“In our democracy, we would never punish a person for owning a Koran.” Although if they check it out of the library, their phone will be tapped. “We would never issue a death sentence to someone for converting to Islam. Democracy does not threaten Islam or any religion. Democracy is the only system of government that guarantees their protection.”

SOME WHO? “Some say any state that holds an election is a democracy.”

TOO OFTEN? HOW OFTEN IS THE RIGHT AMOUNT? “Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail.” Psst, you’re in Egypt, you know.

No Sharm, no foul.

SOME SOUND LIKE REAL DICKS: “Today, I have a message for these young people: Some tell -- some will tell you change is impossible, but history has a way of surprising us”. History will say that you were the worst president ever, George – surprised?

SPOILER ALERT: “The vision I have outlined today is shared by many in this region -- but unfortunately, there are some spoilers who stand in the way.”

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It breaks my heart to see the vast potential of the Palestinian people really wasted

In Sharm el Sheikh, Bush met with Palestinian coup leader Mahmoud Abbas, but when they went before the press, he led off by talking about Lebanon. He trotted out a line he’s used at least three times in the last week: “It is clear that Hezbollah, which has been funded by Iran, can no longer justify its position as a defender against Israel when it turns on its own people.” Er, is Bush saying that he was okay with Hezbollah when it was just trying to kill Israelis? Almost equally absurd is the notion that, for Bush, Hezbollah’s legitimacy is reduced by it “turning” on its own people: Bush’s definition of legitimacy for Arab and Muslim regimes is based almost exclusively on their willingness to kill their own people, whether it’s Abbas fighting Hamas, Maliki fighting Sunni insurgents, Musharraf fighting Islamist militants, Saudi Arabia fighting women drivers, etc.

Bush reaffirmed his support for “get[ting] a state defined.” It’s all about the potential: “it breaks my heart to see the vast potential of the Palestinian people really wasted.”

It’s also all about the dreaming: “I commit to you once again that our government will help achieve a dream, a dream that you have -- and the truth of the matter is, a dream that the Israelis have, which is two states living side by side in peace.”

Abbas spoke next, and proved that he had an even more unlikely dream than that: “We are very delighted that the president is following all the details of everything and every discussion that is taking place in the Palestinian negotiations, as well as issues in the region.” Yes, George Bush is following all the detail. All the details of everything and every discussion. And issues in the region. He’s following them all. Really he is.

He didn’t punch any tables or shout at anybody

Name of the Day: a participant in a roundtable of Israeli youth with George Bush: Assaf Irony.

The Border Patrol says that during hurricane evacuations, it plans to check the immigration status of evacuees. I’m sure that policy couldn’t possibly have tragic consequences.

In Egypt, two days after Bush accused “some” of falling for the “false comfort of appeasement,” a reporter asked him if he does not “aim to do nothing but appeasing Israel.” He sidestepped that question (and didn’t acknowledge that his own incendiary word was being thrown back at him).

Asked about his conversations with the Saudis about oil, he shrugged off the fact that they told him to go fuck himself. That’s not important, he said, because the answer isn’t really in Saudi Arabia after all: “Our problem in America gets solved when we aggressively go for domestic exploration. Our problem in America gets solved if we expand our refining capacity, promote nuclear energy” etc etc. He thinks diminishing oil reserves is something that can be “solved.”

Yesterday the Saudi foreign minister said, “He didn’t punch any tables or shout at anybody. I think he was satisfied.”

Thursday, May 15, 2008

January 2013 is gonna be fucking awesome!

Today John McCain gave a speech (as prepared for delivery) in which he sketched his fantasy of what America, and indeed the world, would look like at the end of his first term of office. And it is glorious. For example, “Schools have greatly improved their emphasis on physical education and nutritional content of meals offered in school cafeterias.” He does not say if Taco Tuesdays will still be in effect.

(I was going to go with sloppy joes, but then decided that Taco Tuesdays was funnier, probably because of the alliteration. When you have a blog, these are the kinds of decisions you have to make every single day.)

Of course, “The Iraq War has been won” and “By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom.” “Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic...” so that’s okay then “...and much reduced. Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent; al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated... The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role.” Is there such a thing as indirect combat?

Interestingly, while he foresees the defeat of Al Qaida, he only predicts that the “threat from a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan has been greatly reduced but not eliminated.” Osama bin Laden will of course have been captured or killed.

Who else will be captured or killed dead? His rosy scenario includes the death of some Supreme Court justices: “Scores of judges have been confirmed to the federal district and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, who understand that they were not sent there to write our laws but to enforce them and make sure they are consistent with the Constitution.”

What else will be captured or killed dead? The United Nations. “After efforts to pressure the Government in Sudan over Darfur failed again in the U.N. Security Council, the United States, acting in concert with a newly formed League of Democracies, applied stiff diplomatic and economic pressure that caused the government of Sudan to agree to a multinational peacekeeping force, with NATO countries providing logistical and air support”.

20 new nuclear power plants will be under construction.

There will be no signing statements and there will be weekly press conferences and a version of Prime Minister’s Questions. Although what questions could possibly be asked of a man who has recreated the world and made it shiny and new and wonderful, I cannot imagine.

Putting the O in Obama

The bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul (updated)

Today Bush wandered around Israel, taking in such sights as the ancient Fortress of Chicken Masala.

Later, he spoke to the Israeli Knesset.

He said that the US-Israeli alliance is “unbreakable... It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul.” That book? “Oy!: The Ultimate Book of Jewish Jokes.”

We’re also united in a fight against “terror and extremism,” “terror and evil,” “terrorists and radicals.”

He did that thing where opposition to Zionism is called anti-Semitism: “So we condemn anti-Semitism in all forms -- whether by those who openly question Israel’s right to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them.”

He said that the idea of negotiating with the aforementioned terrorists and radicals is a “foolish delusion,” “the false comfort of appeasement.” Nazis were mentioned, but aren’t they always?

He looked forward to what the Middle East will be like in another 60 years. For a start, he pointed out, Israel will be 120 years old. Hey, I just checked the math, and Chimpy got it right? (By the way, that guy in West Virginia the BBC showed yesterday, with the sign that said Obama looks like a monkey, can I denounce him as a racist and still call Bush Chimpy?)

In 60 years there will also be a democratic, terror-rejecting Palestinian state, and “From Cairo to Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy and tourism and trade. Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, with today’s oppression a distant memory and where people are free to speak their minds and develop their God-given talents. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists’ vision and the injustice of their cause.” So check back in 2068 for that.

(Update: a line I should have included: Bush said the establishment of the state of Israel “was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David -- a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael.” I trust he’ll be explaining to Abbas that the Palestinian people are shit out of luck because they are the unchosen people and God doesn’t love them like he loves the Jews.)