Thursday, July 31, 2008
In advance of his last presidential visit to Asia, Bush was interviewed back to back yesterday by miscellaneous Asian print media, by Korean tv, Thai tv, and by one...wait for it... Fuqing Yang of Chinese state-run tv.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD WITH HIM: “I’ll see the Prime Minister of Thailand for a nice dinner.”
He’ll also be making a speech in Thailand in his capacity as Reminder-in-Chief: “I will also remind people that I will be sprinting to the finish, that I will finish this job strong.”
WHY GEORGE WON’T ATTEMPT TO GO STRAIGHT: “Part of the reason that I’m stopping in South Korea prior to going to the Olympics -- I mean, one could have attempted just to go straight to the Olympics, but I want to come to South Korea -- I had just come from Japan, and it’s all part of making sure that our foreign policy is active.”
IN OTHER WORDS: “There’s plenty of room for countries to work with -- the three countries you mentioned with other countries in the region in a constructive way. In other words, I don’t view the diplomacy as zero sum, it’s got to be either this country or that country.”
NATIONS ARE SAYING WAIT A MINUTE: “ASEAN is a place where the United States can remain -- should remain actively engaged with nations who are saying -- say, wait a minute, we’re your friends, as well. Don’t just focus on the big guys, think about us.”
VERY: “It’s very important for the President to be very consistent.”
BUT THERE’D STILL BE CAKE: “The fact that both countries [the US and China] are honoring the 30th anniversary of the relationship shows that -- it’s a statement about good relations. If we had bad relations we wouldn’t be honoring the 30th. It would be, okay, here comes the 30th anniversary, who cares?”
Both countries are opening new embassies in each other’s capitals. Bush doesn’t know the name of the architect of the American embassy but does know the name of the architect of the Chinese embassy... I.M. Pei.
GETTING INVOLVED: “I know it’s important for our generals and admirals to deal with their counterparts. And I believe, more importantly, or as importantly, we ought to be getting younger Chinese officers involved with younger U.S. officers. Why? To create a feeling of trust.”
AND AN ALMOST FANATICAL DEVOTION TO THE POPE: “An American President has got to know two things: one, the nature of the person he’s dealing with, and the nature of the government he’s dealing with, and the pressures that government feels.”
AND THE EASTER BUNNY: “As you know, I’m a believer in human dignity and human rights.”
SPEAKING OF WORDS NOT OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH GEORGE BUSH: “And if we do we’ll be gracious in victory, and if we don’t we’ll be humble in defeat.”
ONE OF GEORGE’S CONCERNS: “See, one of my concerns is that we -- that America gets so comfortable they say, who cares; what does it matter whether or not somebody has got HIV/AIDS?”
IN OTHER WORDS: “One thing that interests me is to watch China’s leaders deal with the benefits and challenges of a marketplace. In other words, this is a country that has got a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of people to employ.”
THAT POOR, POOR INTERPRETER: “And yet, I can report to you that we [he and Hu Jintao] do have cordial, relaxed conversations -- in spite of the fact that we both have interpreters. It’s much easier when you are dealing with a person that speaks your own language. Since the only one I speak is English, it’s important to have English speakers. But here is a man who I have had some -- I feel comfortable talking about his family, and he asks about mine. And that may sound trite to you, but nevertheless it’s a part of getting comfortable with each other.” You’ll have noticed he’s forgotten that he’s supposed to know Spanish.
WHAT AMAZES GEORGE: “You know the thing that amazes me? The South Korean women golfers.”
ON NORTH KOREA, GEORGE UTTERS A ZEN KOAN: “There’s a lot of people in this country saying, why are you going forward when you can’t trust them? And my answer is, why don’t we go forward with a process that will enable us to trust them?”
WHAT GEORGE FINDS INTERESTING ABOUT HIMSELF: “It’s interesting that I’m giving a speech about the whole Far East in Thailand.”
IN OTHER WORDS: “Well, because it’s -- first of all, the assumption is that when you give a comprehensive speech in the Far East, it would be in, you know, China or Japan or, you know -- and Thailand is, one, a long-time friend; two, is an important part of ASEAN. In other words, there’s -- the Far East is more than just the countries that dominate the news.”
IN OTHER WORDS: “And so, therefore, if you’re going to give a comprehensive speech, you give it in a country that makes it -- just by the sight alone indicates how comprehensive the policy must be. In other words, you can’t ignore other countries if you focus only on a few.”
WHAT THE THAI PEOPLE WERE AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN: “The Thai -- the Thai people were just fabulous, and always have been.”
ASKED WHAT HE WOULD DO AFTER JANUARY: “Hopefully I will contribute to mankind in positive ways.” Maybe as an organ donor.
THE SPORTSMAN COMETH: “And I’m coming as the president of a friend, and I’m coming as a sportsman.”
BUT MOST OF ALL, HE’S COMING FOR THE FREE GRUB: “I’m going to have a dinner with President Hu Jintao, who I like.”
He reminisced about visiting China in 1975: “People -- I can remember going to a department store, and nobody had seen a Westerner. And they were amazed when I would go. And I would go with my mother and my sister. And they were amazed. It was like we were, like, from a different planet.”
Yes, very like that. Very like that indeed.
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/31/2008 07:17:00 PM
McCain’s latest ad, on health care, says he offers “bold new solutions, not tired old politics.” Should The Two really be using the phrase “tired old”?
Today Bush addressed the annual meeting of the West Virginia Coal Association because “No better group of people to talk about energy with than people who actually take risk to find energy.” He was referring to people who risked capital, not black lung disease.
THE ENERGY: “I want to talk about the energy today.”
WHAT WE GOT TO DO: “we got to work to have a comprehensive plan”. I don’t speak Broken English, but isn’t the correct grammar “we got to work to got a comprehensive plan”?
HE’S THE REMINDERER: “And part of that sprint to the finish will be to continue to remind the American people that we need to be realistic and have common sense about today’s energy needs and tomorrow’s energy needs.”
HE’S THE REMINDERER: “I might remind you that in the beginning of my presidency there were some challenging times.”
HE’S THE REMINDERER: “Now, it’s not as good as we’d like it to be, but I want to remind you a few months ago there were predictions that the economy would shrink this quarter, not grow.”
OF COURSE ANYTHING MORE THAN ALL HIS FINGERS AND TOES SOUNDS LIKE A LOT TO HIM: “We use about 1.1 billion tons of coal a year. That sounds like a lot to me.”
IN OTHER WORDS: “Today my administration announced $36 million for new carbon capture projects. In other words, it’s more than just research.”
WHAT 250 YEARS OF RESERVES SHOULD SAY: “Two hundred and fifty years is -- of reserves should say, gosh, we’re in good shape; we got energy available right here in the United States of America.”
WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE UTILIZING: “We ought to be utilizing wind.”
IN OTHER WORDS: “The problem is, is that there’s a provision inserted into law that blocks oil shale leasing on federal lands. In other words, the federal lands that contain the oil shale, you can’t lease them.”
IN OTHER WORDS: “You can have a drilling site that protects the flora and the fauna, and explore in ways to get -- to be -- doesn’t deplete your reservoir unnecessarily. In other words, we get oil and gas to the pipeline.”
INTERESTING BUT SAD (BUT NOT ACTUALLY A STATISTIC): “One of the real problems we have is that we haven’t built a refinery in the United States in 30 years. Isn’t that an interesting statistic? It’s kind of a sad statistic”
WHAT WE’RE IN: “We’re in a interesting period of time.”
HE’S THE REMINDERER: “I sometimes remind people that we have to buy oil from places where people don’t particularly like us.”
I TRY NOT TO PRY INTO MY CAR’S SEX LIFE: “I don’t know if you pay attention to whether your car is flex-fuel or not, but that means you can either regular gasoline or ethanol.”
ER, RIGHT: “And I’m not sure how long it’s going to take, but don’t be surprised if technological breakthroughs don’t enable you to become gasoline producers.”
DICK CHENEY IS FUELED BY EATING BOTH (HE CALLS IT FLEX-FUEL): “I talk a lot about our energy resources, but the best resource in America is the brain power and the optimism of the American people.”
WHAT GEORGE LOVES: “We’re a fabulous country. You know, I have seen America at its very best in seven and a half years. I marvel at the entrepreneurial spirit in our country. I love the fact that people go from nothing to something. Our small business owners are great people. I love the fact that we’ve got people who understand the dangers we face, understand we’re facing ideological people that use murder to achieve their objectives, and want to hurt us again here at home.” I love the fact that whenever Bush forgets what he was talking about, he starts jibbering on about The War Against Terror (TWAT).
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/31/2008 05:29:00 PM
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Today Bush held a ceremony to sign the vaingloriously named Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008.
WHAT THIS BILL EMBODIES AND WHAT THIS BILL SAYS LOUD AND CLEAR: “This bill embodies the extraordinary compassion of the American people. We are a compassionate nation. And that’s what this bill says loud and clear.”
BUT JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE “COMPASSIONATE” DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T BE A COMPLETE DICK TO EVERYONE AROUND YOU: “And the bald-headed guy on the end -- (laughter) -- not you, Biden, but -- (laughter) -- Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, who is the U.S. Malaria Coordinator. Thank you for coming.”
LIVING POSITIVELY: “As more people get treatment, we will show the world that it is possible for people to live positively with HIV while making important contributions to their communities.”
GEORGE SAYS HI: “I want to speak directly to those around the world who have, or think they may have, HIV: A positive diagnosis does not have to be a reason for shame. So don’t let shame keep you from getting tested or treated. Your life is treasured by the people who love you. It is precious in the eyes of God. It matters to the people of the United States.” Which is why we ask you about it on your immigration or visa forms and exclude you if you have it (today’s bill didn’t quite lift the ban, which Health & Human Services has to sign off on).
There are no interesting pictures from this event, so I’ll give you three from yesterday of Bush leaning towards various people.
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/30/2008 07:39:00 PM
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
You’re making the choices about whether you want to drive a little extra more or not drive extra more
Today Bush visited the Lincoln Electric Company in Ohio, where he said, “I’m proud to be here with ‘the welding experts.’”
“One of the issues that in a time of economic uncertainty -- and these are uncertain times, no question about it.” So there’s no question about uncertainty. Of that he is certain.
“They’re uncertain because you’re paying high prices at the gas pump. They’re uncertain because you’re reading the newspapers about the housing issue. They’re uncertain times.” So stop reading the damned newspapers, America! Bush never reads the newspapers and he’s never uncertain.
WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE DOING DURING UNCERTAIN TIMES: “And during uncertain times, we ought to be playing to our strengths, and implementing good common-sense policy.” Because when you think of George Bush’s strengths, you think
IN OTHER WORDS: “On the other hand, products going into Colombia from the United States face a duty, a tariff, a tax....” Someone may have given George a thesaurus. “... In other words, the products made in the United States going into that market cost more because of taxes imposed by the Colombian government.”
GEORGE TALKED TO THE VOICES IN HIS HEAD ABOUT HIS MAGIC WAND: “Somebody said, what are you going to do about gasoline prices? I said, if I had the magic wand, I’d wave it.”
A LITTLE EXTRA MORE: “What’s interesting, however, is that people are plenty wise about how to conserve. You’re making the choices about whether you want to drive a little extra more or not drive extra more. It’s the collective wisdom, again, of the American people that really do set the best conservation measures.” Oh hidden hand of the free market, what is there that you can’t solve?
WHAT YOU GOT TO UNDERSTAND: “So when you hear ‘my gasoline prices are going up,’ you got to understand the main reason why is because oil prices are going up.”
WHAT WE GOT: “We got an energy problem here.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE WELDING: “I am confident nuclear power is safe, because I understand that the products that go into a nuclear power plant are made by some of the finest welders in the United States of America.”
WHAT WE’RE HEADING INTO: “And therefore we’re spending a lot of your money -- I think it’s well spent -- to find cellulosic ethanol possibilities. That means wood -- that’s a fancy word for wood chips or switch grasses -- all aiming -- my point to you is, is that we’re heading into a new era.”
YUP, HE’S DEFINITELY GOT HIS HANDS ON A THESAURUS. “But I’m here to talk about the meantime, the interim, the right now.”
At the end he asked for questions and there weren’t any, dammit, even though he threatened, “If you don’t have any questions, I can tell you a lot of interesting stories.” So he told that stupid story about seeing a rainbow in Bucharest that one time six years ago: “the rainbow ended exactly behind the balcony where the tyrant had given his last speech. Now you can look at that any way you want to look at it. I’ll tell you how I looked at it. I looked at it as a sign that freedom is beautiful. That freedom brings peace. That freedom is not ours alone. That freedom is universal. Or maybe it’s just light refracting off some water droplets in the air, creating an optical illusion. Or, you know, that freedom-is-universal thing, whatever.” I may have made up the last two sentences.
DON’T TELL HIM THAT THE REST OF US CAN SEE RAINBOWS TOO: “So I saw that rainbow, and I said I’m the fortunate -- most fortunate man to be the president of this fabulous country.”
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/29/2008 09:15:00 PM
Monday, July 28, 2008
Today Bush met Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
THE MOST DEMOCRATIC MEAL OF THE DAY: “We’ve had a good meeting in the Oval Office. And then I’m going to have lunch with the Prime Minister here in the main White House. And that’s fitting. After all, Pakistan is a strong ally and a vibrant democracy.” No, I’m still not seeing what that has to do with lunch.
VERY: “And of course, we talked about the common threat we face: extremists who are very dangerous people.” Sometimes they even have (gasp) brunch.
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/28/2008 03:33:00 PM
Sunday, July 27, 2008
In a long profile of Secretary Treasury Hank Paulson in the NYT business section, Paulson asks plaintively, “When I talk to people, there are a whole lot of them that say: ‘I don’t like this,’ ‘I don’t like that,’ ‘I don’t like the other thing.’ I say: ‘Neither do I. What idea do you have? What do you think we should do?’”
The article is illustrated by another NYT entry in my series, Everything You Need to Know About the Economy You Can Tell By the Expression on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s Face.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I started reading the open letter by Matt Browner Hamlin of the Mark Begich senatorial campaign (Alaska) to Ted Stevens’s campaign manager, but I couldn’t get past “Dear Mr. Tibbles” without giggling shamelessly.
Possibly the Stevens campaign is run by a Siamese cat owned by a little old lady.
It would explain a lot.
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/26/2008 01:44:00 PM
Headline of the Day, from the Indy: “Sorry, Says Dominatrix Who Betrayed Mosley.” Do you know how you can tell someone is a crap dominatrix? She says, “Sorry.” Max Mosley, by the way, has won his libel case against the News of the World, and gotten legal costs plus £60,000 for pain and suffering. Which is no doubt what he’ll spend it on.
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/26/2008 12:00:00 AM
Friday, July 25, 2008
Bush, still working on that walking-and-waving-at-the-same-time thing:
Why is this man smiling?
Who gave Stumbles McDrydrunk their baby to hold?
What is it with him and other people’s personal space?
Isn’t he adorable when he waves?
Still, nothing says awkward like McCain holding hands with the Dalai Lama.
And I see he brought along his fluffer. Although say what you will about Lindsey Graham, he did coordinate his tie with the Dalai Lama’s robes.
When old men meet.
From the Justice Dept’s August 2002 memo (pdf) helpfully telling Guantanamo torturers that they could not be prosecuted under the Torture Act unless they could be proved to have had a specific intent to cause long-term suffering and if they had a “good faith belief” that they were not causing severe suffering: “an honest belief need not be reasonable”.
I believe that also serves as a summing up of the entire Bush presidency.
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/25/2008 04:17:00 AM
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Today, Obama visited Germany and McCain visited Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. He had the bratwurst.
Speaking of things whose exact contents you really don’t want to know, McCain spoke his mind, saying that he stands by his previous declarations that Obama wants to lose the war in Iraq for political reasons, saying, “It’s pretty obvious he’s taken this position to secure the nomination of his party.”
He also got some cream puffs to go.
And speaking of cream puffs to go, Lindsey Graham was with him.
Fudge haus? Really, McCain? Really? That’s what you chose to stand in front of? Really? I spend much of my time making fun of the way George Bush speaks, and I still find that insultingly easy. Fudge haus, indeed.
Happy Captive Nations Week, everybody! Bush gave a little speech today about the “freedom agenda” at the offices of the USAID, which he described as being “on the front lines of compassion and decency and liberty.” Because nothing says compassion and decency and liberty like war terminology.
He quoted former presidents about how liberty and democracy and shit. It may be the first time I’ve ever heard someone quote Woodrow Wilson’s pledge to make the world safe for democracy other than in an ironic or sarcastic way.
He also talked about things former presidents did for liberty and democracy and shit, including “the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift” and... wait for it... “support for freedom fighters in Central America”. Also, the invasions of Grenada and Panama.
“Even now, change is stirring in places like Havana and Damascus and Tehran. The people of these nations dream of a free future, hope for a free future, and believe that a free future will come. And it will. May God be with them in their struggle. America always will be.” So evidently we always will be, but God might be, because God’s a little, well, unreliable.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Several commentators have said that McCain’s comment, which he repeated three times Tuesday, that Obama “would rather lose a war than lose a campaign” is the most scurrilous thing they’ve ever heard a politician say (I think it was Joe Klein that used the word scurrilous). I’d remind them that in 2002 Bush said that opposition to his plan to remove civil-service protections from government workers transferred into Homeland Security proved that the Democratic-controlled Senate was “not interested in the security of the American people”.
According to the WaPo’s indispensable Al Kamen, former presidential candidate Duncan Hunter wished to live up to his name by going to Chad to
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Today, Bush held an event at the White House in honor of Colombian Independence Day. No one embarrassed him by asking if he knew when Colombia became independent or from what.
As always with such events, he took the opportunity to express his prowess in the Spanish language: “Thank you. Siéntese. Gracias. Buenos dias. Bienvenidos a la Casa Blanca.” “Hola, Luis.” “And after this brief discurso...” “They chanted a simple, but powerful message -- ‘Libertad’ -- that means freedom.”
WHY, WHAT DID YOU THINK I MEANT? SNIFF SNIFF. “As many of you may know, Colombia supports [sic] America’s primary source of energy -- a resource that many Americans use, and we thank you for your coffee.”
Did you know that the US “helped rescue Colombia from the brink of becoming a failed state”? Now you know.
He again called for Congress to pass the free-trade treaty with Colombia and praised President Uribe, who “has stood strong against tyranny and terror.” In the context of the speech’s previous paragraph, it is clear that by “tyranny” he means Venezuela, which he also called a “threat.”
The White House also issued a “fact sheet,” called “Defending Democratic Values We Share with Colombia,” which proclaims such triumphs as “Labor conditions in Colombia have significantly improved.” As an example of this significant improvement, it says that fewer than 40 trade unionists were brutally murdered last year. Hurrah!
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/22/2008 08:09:00 PM
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made a speech today in which he asked Americans to be patient with the economy as it experiences “continued stresses”. Speaking of continued stresses...
The NYT had its own entry in Everything You Need to Know About the Economy etc, with a three-picture series illustrating this article in the dead-tree edition today, but they only used one of the pictures online, so you’ll have to make do with my pictures of those pictures.
Call this a caption contest for some leftover pictures from yesterday, when 1) Barack was in Iraq for a briefing on the Iraq situation by Colonel Combover,
2) John McCain went to Kennebunkport to be anointed by, er, George H.W. Bush (true story: McCain is actually 12 years younger than Bush the Elder rather than, as the picture would suggest, 12 years older),
3) Junior had an unsettlingly creepy picture taken with the March of Dimes national ambassador Catharine Aboulhouda,
4) before settling down for a nice dinner with past and future Olympic athletes of the female persuasion, any one of whom could have snapped him like a twig but, sadly, did not.
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/22/2008 07:06:00 AM
Monday, July 21, 2008
Today, Bush met with the president and prime minister of what he called “an independent Kosovo”.
AND I POINTED OUT THAT HIS EYES SEEM TO FOLLOW YOU AROUND THE ROOM. SPOOKY. “I mentioned to both these leaders that they were sitting right below the portrait of George Washington, the founder of a free United States.”
SO I HAD THE SECRET SERVICE PULL DOWN THEIR PANTS AND MAKE THEM STAND UP BEFORE THE ENTIRE CLASS... “And I appreciate your courage. I appreciate your leadership. And I commit the United States to help you realize your dreams.”
After they made their remarks, pantsless, Bush concluded, “Thank you, guys.” Which is the correct form of address for the president and prime minister of an independent Kosovo.
Caption contest. The AP’s original caption: “Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., touches the face of veteran Steve Dunwoody as he stops to talk with him during a campaign stop at the Maine Military Museum in South Portland, Maine, Monday, July 21, 2008.”
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/21/2008 02:01:00 PM
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
McCain said (whilst blowing the secrecy of Obama’s visit to Iraq), “I am sure that Senator Obama is going to arrive in Baghdad in a much, much safer and secure environment than the one that he would’ve encountered before we started the surge.” Ya know, Mister Maverick, it would be more impressive if you picked for your comparison point some time period other than the height of a civil war. I mean, for low-bar-setting, that statement is only surpassed by “John McCain is smarter than George Bush.”
Name of the Day, as pointed out by The Now Show: Britain’s new knife czar (they’re having a little tabloid-fueled panic over knife crime lately), Mr. Alfred Hitchcock (no relation).
Friday, July 18, 2008
UR DOING IT WRONG: “Three Chinese reporters attending a police briefing on the success of an anti-gun campaign were accidentally shot”.
Remember: “arbitrary date for withdrawal” bad, “a general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals” good.
P.S. Is a general time horizon anything like a time tunnel?
Posted by WIIIAI at 7/18/2008 02:39:00 PM
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Condi Rice, on Sean Hannity’s radio show today: “the line about killing civilians, I believe, is an unfortunate one. We sometimes hear it in Europe. We should not fall prey to that argument that somehow we’re killing innocent civilians. It is the Taliban that is doing that.”
Also today, the US military admitted having killed eight civilians and injured two more in an air strike in Afghanistan Tuesday, saying it “deeply regret[s] any occurrence such as this where civilians are killed and injured as a result of insurgent activity and actions.”
As for that wedding party, they’re still not admitting having bombed it, but are continuing to “investigate.”
Bush went to California today to fly over some wildfire damage, pretend he knows how to read a map,
and meet our illustrious governor.
With the inevitable result.
And, for your captioning pleasure:
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Today McCain claimed that he was the person to win the war in Afghanistan because “I know how to win wars.” Yes, he did so well the last time.
He said he would appoint a “war czar” for Afghanistan, because, if you really want to invoke the thought of victory in Afghanistan, you have to go with a Russian term.
He compared himself to Obama, who once threatened to take military action inside Pakistan. “I won’t bluster and I won’t make idle threats. But understand this, when I am commander in chief, there will be nowhere the terrorists can run and nowhere they can hide,” he blustered and idly threatened.
Number 12 in the series, “Everything You Need to Know About the Economy You Can Tell By the Expression on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s Face”
And a special surprise bonus feature, Everything You Need to Know About John McCain’s Campaign You Can Tell By the Expression on His Face.