Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One of the many casualties of the war on terror


Poor, poor Gonzo. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, who cannot find a job, is writing a book for which he cannot find a publisher, possibly because the outline reads “Chapter 1: I don’t recall. Chapter 2: I don’t recall. Chapter 3: I don’t recall...”, and is whining to the Wall Street Journal (link, other link) about his undeservedly poor reputation.

“For some reason,” he says, “I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.” But where’s his plaque, huh, huh?

I love that more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger “for some reason.” He does, however, suggest one reason, and of course it had nothing to do with anything bad he might have done, because of course he never did anything bad: “I have been treated differently because of my relationship with the president. People thought that they could hurt the president by hurting me.”

He insists: “I didn’t leave in disgrace.” Ignominy, opprobrium, infamy, contempt and dishonor, sure, but not disgrace.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We don’t just want a ceasefire for the sake of a ceasefire


Today, Deputy Press Secretary Gordon Johndroe said of Gaza (Bush couldn’t comment, he was busy clearing brush), “We don’t just want a ceasefire for the sake of a ceasefire, only for violence to start up immediately, or within the next few weeks. That serves no one’s interest”.

No, a ceasefire certainly wouldn’t serve anyone’s interest, or at least not the interest of anyone who, you know, counts.



Barack Obama: still missing in action.

Monday, December 29, 2008

You never write, you never call


Headline of the Day (The Indy): “Man Jailed for Beach Sex Blames Media.”

Obama’s complete silence on the assault on Gaza continues unbroken.

This is probably a good time to be reading Juan Cole’s blog, but subscribers to his RSS feed might assume he’s on vacation. He is in fact blogging away, but his feeds haven’t been working for a few days now. Funny that.

Israel has been phoning families in Gaza. Isn’t that nice?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

No borons


More personal ads from the London Review of Books (the complete WIIIAI collection of LRB personals is here.) After that, because it’s our 6-month anniversary today, and as a special treat for the almost three of you who have asked for new pictures of Christabel, there will be some.
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Yesterday I was a disgusting spectacle in end-stage alcoholism with a gambling problem and not a hope in the world. Today I am the author of this magnificent life-altering statement of yearning and desire. You are a woman to 55 with plenty of cash and very little self-respect. When you reply to this advert your life will never be the same again. My name is Bernard. Never call me Bernie. Box no. 31/01

Dear LRB, I have no money. Please run my advert for free. I want a woman who is 38. Let her know I’m really clever and good-looking. Thanks. Box no. 31/03

I hate you all. I hate London. I hate books. I hate critics. I hate this magazine, I hate this column and I hate all the goons who appear in it. But if you have large breasts, are younger than 30 and don’t want to talk about the novel you’re ‘writing’ I’ll put all that aside for approximately two hours one Saturday afternoon in January. Man, 33. Box no. 31/04

Everyone. My life is a mind-numbing cesspit of despair and self-loathing. Just fuck off. Or else write back and we’ll make love. Gentleman, 37. Box no. 31/05

I make my own sexual lubricant. The secret ingredient is Bovril. Man, 56. Congleton. Box no. 31/07


Christabel, 12/8/08

Christabel, 12/8/08

Christabel, 12/8/08

Christabel, 12/8/08


And they’ll do whatever


Today, Laura Bush was fronting the Bush Legacy of Delusion Tour in an interview on Fox.

She says that she realized just how much power she wielded when a woman at a cosmetic counter in a department store thanked her for talking on the radio about the plight of women in Afghanistan. This is how people in power stay in touch with the common folk when they can no longer converse with cabbies, the fount of all wisdom, as Thomas Friedman will tell you.

I said a week ago that with hurler of the Shoes of Death, Muntadar al-Zeidi, having been beaten and tortured and facing a long prison sentence, Bushies were no longer calling the incident a sign of freedom in Iraq. Laura didn’t get that memo, saying it showed “that Iraqis feel a lot freer to express themselves.” I don’t think al-Zeider is feeling a lot freer right now. She also said that it was “an assault, and I think it should be treated that way, and I think people should think of it that way.” It’s an assault, it’s a sign of freedom, it’s a floor wax and a dessert topping, it’s a Freedom Assault.

She declined to ask for leniency for al-Zeidi, saying it’s “to the Iraqis. And they’ll do whatever. But I know that if Saddam Hussein had been there, the man wouldn’t have been released.” Laura? He hasn’t been. “And he probably wouldn’t — you know, would have been executed.” Really? I don’t think Saddam would have minded so much if someone threw their shoes at George Bush. Still, way to set the minimum standard for freedom really, really low, Laura.

“They’ll do whatever.” This all matters for al-Zeidi because 1) Maliki is a blowhard, who is unlikely to want to be seen to give in to protests and indeed is likely to dig in, 2) Obama won’t want to call for leniency for an act against his predecessor (in the way that Clinton had to bomb Iraq in 1993 in response to an “assassination attempt” on Bush the Elder he had to know was a lie concocted by the Kuwaitis). So the only person who can get him released without Maliki losing face is Bush.

She complained that Bush got blamed for Katrina, and blamed it on the press (“Do I think the press is fair? No, absolutely not.” Except for her interviewer, Chris Wallace, she added): “There was a — the reporting was — ended up being not really factual, but many, many people heard the first reporting, and that’s what they think happened, that 10,000 people died”. And only 1,800 did, so it’s all good.

She summed up George’s inner core: “And I think that the — his inner core and his belief in freedom — and that means not just freedom from tyranny, but freedom from disease and freedom from illiteracy — is what really is the basic of American values, and that’s what I think he’s shown the whole time he’s been president.” Yeah, other countries really enjoy disease and illiteracy. Because they lack the basic of American values.



Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yes, let’s all address the urgent humanitarian needs of the innocent people of Gaza. What a good idea!


Israel has been bombing Gaza since this morning, with no regard for the safety of civilians, launching air strikes, for example, on crowded cities just as schools were letting out.


It is the bloodiest assault on Gaza since the 1967 war, with at least 200 dead so far. This bombing campaign is in “retaliation” (remember, Israel’s actions are always responses to the wickedness of others) for a series of rocket attacks that killed, um, no Israelis.


Here is the response issued by Condi Rice, verbatim:

The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza. The ceasefire should be restored immediately. The United States calls on all concerned to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the innocent people of Gaza.

You’ll note the absence of a call for Israel to “address” the urgent humanitarian needs of the innocent people of Gaza by not creating those urgent humanitarian needs through bombs and blockades (blockades which will, by the way, prevent anyone from responding to Condi’s call to address the urgent etc).


And Barack Obama, in his first failure of international leadership, had a spokesmodel say that he was “closely monitoring global events.” It is, literally, the very least he can do.


The spokesmodel also muttered something about there being only one president at a time, which evidently precludes Obama from responding publicly to this slaughter as a, you know, human being.



Dave Barry’s review of 2008.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Surge


The CIA is bribing Afghan tribal chiefs with viagra. There’s probably a joke in there somewhere... In comments, please.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A reminder of why I’ll miss it


Headline of the Day / Name of the Day (The Financial Times): “Dikshit Pleads Guilty to Online Betting.”

Roger Ebert has a blog post full of funny lines about bad movies from his past reviews. Which inspired me to google my archives for a few of the quotes from reviews I’ve posted over the decades: “Armageddon” is “Like being yelled at by idiots for 144 minutes” (Dennis Lim, Village Voice). “Wesley Snipes is a very versatile actor who works well with a variety of weapons” (Voice). Scary Movie 2: “Perhaps, in a rare instance of subtle social satire, this film is being released on July 4 to remind America of the high cost of freedom of speech.” (Elvis Mitchell, NYT). “Chemistry project: Take the powdered contents of a small box of Jell-O. Add Water. The volatility of the reaction will give you some idea of the excitement generated by the teaming of Steven Seagal and Keenen Ivory Wayons in The Glimmer Man.” (Lawrence Van Gelder, NYT). Do you have any favorite lines from reviews? Share them in comments.

THEY’RE THE REMINDERERS: Yesterday Bush went to Walter Reed, got an MRI on his shoulder and visited some of the people his wars had put in the hospital. He’s gonna really really miss visiting people his wars put in the hospital: “You know, I oftentimes say being the Commander-in-Chief of the military is the thing I’ll miss the most, and coming here to Walter Reed is a reminder of why I’ll miss it.” Oh, I’m sure they’d let you drop by and empty the bed pans.

Why he’ll miss it:






Monday, December 22, 2008

Contest I’m probably gonna regret


Now that shoe-hurler Muntadar al-Zeidi has been beaten viciously, tortured into making a ludicrous “confession” that he was put up to it by a terrorist “well-known for beheading people,” and will face a prison sentence of up to 15 years, somehow you don’t hear anybody repeating Bush and Condi’s first reaction, that the incident showed just how free Iraq is these days.

CONTEST: In that interview yesterday, Cheney said that when he told Patrick Leahy to fuck himself, “he merited it at the time.” What words has Dick Cheney merited? For extra points, try not to be as big a potty mouth as the vice president.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Consequential


Gene Weingarten’s civics test.

The Cheney Legacy of Go Fuck Yourself Tour continues. Today, Fox aired an interview with Cheney recorded Friday.

He explained his 29% approval rating (who are these people?) as not really being about him personally: “Eventually, you wear out your welcome in this business.”

He said that Biden was entirely wrong in criticizing as dangerous Cheney’s views of the scope of executive power, and what proves Biden is entirely wrong about absolutely everything is that one time he said that the powers of the executive branch are enumerated in Article I of the Constitution, when it’s actually Article II. Stoopid Biden.

Chris Wallace asked the Frost/Nixon question and got the Frost/Nixon answer: “If the president, during war, decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?” Cheney: “In general proposition, I’d say yes.”

He suggested that the powers of the executive branch are entirely dependent on the “specific circumstance,” which I’m guessing he found in Article II of Stuff I Pulled Out of My Ass. For example, he said, the president now has the authority to launch a nuclear attack any time he feels like it. “He doesn’t have to check with anybody, he doesn’t have to call the Congress, he doesn’t have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in.”

He disagreed with Bush’s firing Rummy: “I was a Rumsfeld man.”

GLAD YOU ENJOYED IT: What was the “Highest moment in the last eight years? Well, I think the most important, the most compelling, was 9/11 itself”. Wallace, trying to help him out, suggested that 9/11 might also have been the lowest moment. “Sure, yes.”

ORDER OF MERIT: Cheney admitted having told Patrick Leahy to fuck himself, but “I thought he merited it at the time.”

IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT SOMEBODY, SAY THAT HE’S “CONSEQUENTIAL”: Cheney was unwilling to name a favorite president, but offered that Bush has “been, in my mind, a very consequential president”.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I will fight I will fight I will fight


Compare and contrast, if you will, two press conferences today. Rod Blagojevich – “I will fight until I take my last breath” –



and Robert Mugabe – “Never surrender – Zimbabwe is mine.”



At least Mugabe didn’t quote Kipling (“If you can keep your hair when all about you...”)

I have made the decision not to let there be a massive collapse


The Bush Legacy of Shame Tour continues, with an interview by C-SPAN.

IN OTHER WORDS: “I do think the Florida recount set kind of an ugly mood amongst some in the electorate. In other words, the election was -- in their minds, was in doubt.”

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: “War is hard for a country.”

HE’S THE DECIDERER: “And, you know, I made the decision that we were going to win.”

HE’S THE DECIDERER: “I have made the decision not to let there be a massive collapse, which would hurt the average guy in the street.”

HE’S THE DECIDERER: “But I made the decision that my team and myself will not let the economy go down.”

Well at least those things are decided.

BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO STRIKE INSIDE U.S.? “I didn’t realize we’d be in war because, you know, the attacks of September the 11th came out of nowhere.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “But I have no complaints. In other words, I’m not one of these guys that say, oh, man, everybody misunderstood me because of the media.”

A DISCIPLINED PERSON: “Early on in the presidency I said, I want time to work out, because I think it’s -- I know part of doing this job is to be a disciplined person. Like, I start meetings on time, I end them on time.” This is how history will surely remember the Bush presidency: he started meetings on time, he ended them on time.

CAPTION CONTEST:




Thursday, December 18, 2008

I came with the idea of changing the tone in Washington


Bush continued his Legacy Tour with a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, which he thanked “for generating good thought.”

PHILOSOPHYIN’ IS HARD WORK: “People in the public arena need to have support for philosophy -- and that’s what you provide, so I appreciate all your hard work.”


IN OTHER WORDS: “I have found that in order to have good decision-making and a White House that functions well, that the President needs to articulate a set of principles from which he will not defer. In other words, a set of principles that are inviolate -- such as the universality of freedom. That’s the heart of my foreign policy.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “I believe in the collective wisdom of the American people. In other words, I believe we ought to trust individuals to be making decisions for their families.”

YEAH, IT’S FUNNY HOW A COMPLETE ECONOMIC MELTDOWN WILL MAKE YOUR ECONOMIC POLICIES LOOK BAD: “the benefits of the tax cuts have been obscured by the recent economic crisis”.


He explained the importance of markets: “I can remember going to China when my dad was the envoy there and everybody had the same clothes on -- it was like, there was no demand”.

LOOKING OVER THE HORIZON: “the job of the President is looking over the horizon. And that’s -- sometimes that gets you in conflict with the legislative branch. The legislative branch tends to have a shorter-term horizon than the executive branch.” For example, Bush keeps looking to the time fifty years from now when he’s pretty sure he’ll be remembered as the greatest president ever.


OF COURSE IN SOME CASES THE DISPARITY IS GREATER THAN OTHERS: “And that really makes our country great -- Presidents will come and go with their strengths and weaknesses, but the ship of state sails on because of the institution being greater than the person.”

WHAT GEORGE DIDN’T WANT TO BE: “So I analyzed that and decided I didn’t want to be the president during a depression greater than the Great Depression, or the beginning of a depression greater than the Great Depression.” He was hoping if it doesn’t start until January 21st, he won’t get the blame. Good luck with that.


THE VOICES IN HIS HEAD GET JEALOUS: “People say, well, do you ever hear any other voices other than, like, a few people? Of course I do.”

He said we don’t need a new stimulus package, because the drop in gasoline prices is just like a stimulus package.

WHAT THE COUNTRY NEEDS TO OVERCOME: “The country needs to overcome its fear about nuclear power if we want to have ample electricity so we can grow”.


WHAT HE WILL WON’T MISS: “I’ll miss the petty name-calling -- I mean, I won’t miss it.

TONE DEAF: “I came with the idea of changing the tone in Washington, and frankly didn’t do a very good job of it.”



And a special bonus: more pictures of George Bush from this week. You’re welcome.





Throw that all together and characterize it as torture policy


The Cheney Legacy Tour continued with an interview in the Washington Times (link, other link).

And what is Cheney’s legacy? Torture, of course. When pretty much all that even the Washington Fucking Times wants to ask you about is torture, you can be pretty well assured of how history will remember you.

Which is so totally unfair, because, he says, only 33 people were “subjected to enhanced interrogation” and only 3 waterboarded: “Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and a third, al-Nashiri. Um, that’s it. Those three guys. Was it torture? I don’t believe it was torture.”

That “enhanced interrogation,” he said, was “reasonable” and “produced the desired result. I think it’s directly responsible for the fact that we’ve been able to avoid or defeat further attacks against the homeland for 7 1/2 years.” Indeed, “I think it would have been unethical or immoral for us not to do everything we could in order to protect the nation against further attacks like what happened on 9/11.” Heaven forfend he do anything unethical or immoral.


He makes a distinction between Guantanamo torture (good) and Abu Ghraib torture (bad): “People take Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and interrogation of high-value detainees and sort of throw that all together and say, you know, characterize it as torture policy. You’ve got to, I think, back off and recognize that something like Abu Ghraib was not policy.” Not because what took place at Abu Ghraib was immoral, of course, but because it just wasn’t productive: “And the people ... that were subjected to abusive practices there, I don’t think had any special intelligence understandings, if you will, or special intelligence information that we needed.” Otherwise, he’d have totally approved of torturing them.

TWENTY OR THIRTY YEARS? HOPEFULLY YOU’LL BE FINISHING YOUR PRISON SENTENCE RIGHT ABOUT THEN: “I’m personally persuaded that this president and this administration will look very good 20 or 30 years down the road in light of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My knowledge of the world is more profound


Bush was interviewed (link, other link) by CNN’s Candy Crowley.

The MBA president explained the failure of the financial system thusly, “The whole system became inebriated.”

Although he would say later in the interview that he’d changed none of his basic values during the last eight years (for example, “I loved my wife then. I love her now.”), he admitted, “I have abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.” Dude, you just blew my mind.

On Obama: “We care about him. We want him to be successful, and we want the transition to work.”

TOO STRONG OF A PASSION: Asked whether he was ever angry that the intelligence about Iraqi WMDs was wrong, he said, “I think angry is too strong of a passion” but he “was not happy.”

WALKING BACK IN TIME: And when he did find out that the intel was wrong, did he think that maybe he shouldn’t have invaded? “[T]here are no do-overs. So, the idea of us walking back in time and saying, well, this, that or the other, is -- it’s just not a realistic assessment. Because once you’re in, you’re in for victory.” So he’s dismissing the very concept of having second thoughts, of responding to new information, as if it were time travel, a violation of the fundamental laws of physics, and so not worth even talking about.

WHAT YOU’VE GOT TO SAY (BUT WON’T): “You’ve got to say I’m a little wiser. My knowledge of the world is more profound.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And the stupid burned....


...for eight years.



On the question of so-called torture, we don’t do torture


In a gesture to Palestinian president Abbas, Israel has released 224 Palestinian prisoners. You know what else was a gesture to Abbas? Not releasing them last week, as planned, because it was pilgrimage season and some Palestinian leaders would not have been available to participate in welcoming ceremonies. So Abbas actually asked Israel to keep them in prison just a little while longer.

The Cheney Legacy Tour has finally begun, with the veep being interviewed by Rush Limbaugh and ABC. Sadly, he doesn’t believe his wonderful work in preventing fictitious terrorist plots coming to fruition is being recognized: “it’s hard to get credit for things that don’t happen.” How did he stop things from happening? Wiretapping, torture, Guantanamo, and the imperial presidency, all of which he considers to be so commonsensical that Obama is just bound to continue them: “I think the Obama administration is not likely to cede that authority [the increased powers of the presidency in general] back to the Congress.” “Guantanamo has been very, very valuable. And I think they’ll discover that trying to close it is a very hard proposition.” On torture, excuse me, “these programs”: “They shouldn’t just fall back on campaign rhetoric to make these very fundamental decisions about the safety of the nation.” By “falling back on campaign rhetoric,” he means, “keeping the campaign promises that got him elected.”

THE WATERBOARDING WAS ALWAYS PUNCTUAL: “I think Guantanamo has been very well run.”

SO-CALLED: “On the question of so-called torture, we don’t do torture. We never have.” And the so-called torture we don’t do was also very effective: “Did it produce the desired results? I think it did. ... I think the results speak for themselves.” He says of the so-called torture that we didn’t do of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.” That quote is proof that torture is unnecessary: Cheney just admitted to war crimes in a pleasant interview, without a waterboard in sight.

Speaking of which, asked specifically if waterboarding was appropriate, he said, “I do.”

EVERYONE’S A CRITIC: He does not concur with Bush’s expressed regret about the failed intelligence (or, as some might phrase it, lies) about Iraq’s WMDs because “Intelligence – it’s not a science, it’s an art form in many respects and you don’t always get it right. ... we’ve had other successes and failures. I think the run-up to 9/11 where we missed that attack was a failure.” But you’re not sure?

GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY: “I think the policies we’ve recommended, the programs that we’ve undertaken have been good program. I think those have been sound decisions and if that’s what they mean by saying I’ve changed, I’m guilty.”

Monday, December 15, 2008

We could have replaced one power person with another


Bush held a press conference with Karzai in Kabul. He reassured Afghans repeatedly that Obama would continue all of his policies there.

Bush told us what life was like: “And we gave the Taliban an opportunity to respond. They didn’t. And American troops proudly liberated the people of Afghanistan. That’s what life was like.”


WHAT WE COULD HAVE DONE: “And we could have replaced one power person with another.”


WHAT EXTREMISTS REFUSE TO ACCEPT: “It’s difficult because extremists refuse to accept the beauty of democracy.”

HE’S THE REMINDERER AND THE DEFENDERER: “You know, I was with President Zardari in -- I think it was in New York. And I had never met him before and I was reminding him that I’m a -- you know, a person who says that we will defend our country and defend our people. He said, you don’t have to talk to me about extremists attacking people -- extremists killed my wife.” Zardari is kind of a buzz-kill.

IS THERE? “And so is there still difficult days ahead? Absolutely.”

Karzai was asked if he might like a deadline for foreign occupation troops to leave his country, like Iraq now has: “Afghanistan will not allow the international community leave it before we are fully on our feet, before we are strong enough to defend our country, before we are powerful enough to have a good economy, and before we have taken from President Bush and the next administration billions and billions of more dollars -- no way that they can let you go.”

Karzai’s cunning plan to get those billions and billions: distract Bush with a shiny medal.


So shiny.

But what Bush really wants....


Where can ah get me one of them hats?



I don’t think you can take one guy throwing shoes and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq


Dick Cavett on Blagojevich: “We all know from childhood that it’s not nice to make fun of people’s appearance. So I will confine myself to merely observing that whatever covers the governor’s head looks to me like a bowling-ball cozy.”

Bush went on a “surprise” visit to Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House made a big deal about how Iraq is finally safe enough that Air Force One could touch down in daylight. Truly, the five and a half years of war have all been worth it.

Of course Bush visited the troops, who Hoo-ahed him (and once, USA USA USA’d him).

BUSH: Laura and I have been having a lot of Christmas parties at the White House, so I thought it would be kind of neat to change the scenery.

AUDIENCE: Hoo-ah!

BUSH: in the spirit of the season we renamed Air Force One to Rudolph One.

AUDIENCE: Hoo-ah
Etcetera.

A HEAVILY-ARMED BLESSING: “This is a time of year to give thanks for our many blessings – and the greatest blessing we have is freedom and the fact that we’ve got a United States military to defend that freedom.”

THOSE COUNTRY: “There have been a lot of troops from around the world who have come to help this young democracy survive and thrive. And so I want to thank the citizens of those country [sic] and the troops who have served here before us.”

DRAMA QUEEN: “But thanks to you, the Iraq we stand in tonight is dramatically freer, dramatically safer, and dramatically better than the Iraq we found eight years ago.” (AUDIENCE: Hoo-ah!)

BROKEN RECORD: “I want to take you back to what life was like eight years ago here in Iraq. Iraq had a record of supporting terror, a record of developing and using weapons of mass destruction...”

NO DOUBT, OR ANYTHING ELSE REALLY: “There’s more hard work to do before we reach that day. But if there is any -- but if there is no doubt -- but there is no doubt in my mind, there’s just no doubt that we’re going to reach that day. I am confident because our cause is just. And freedom is universal.”

OR POSSIBLY, “ENOUGH WITH THE ANCIENT HISTORY ALREADY, GRAMPS!”: “I guess what I’m telling you is your grandchildren some day are going to say, ‘Thank God you showed up and served.’”

GROWING UP WITH SOMETHING ELSE: “We think of those who have laid down their lives for freedom here in Iraq. Their children are growing up without a mom or a dad. But all of our children are growing up with something else -- the promise of a safer America and a better world.” So that’s okay then.

WHAT THE VOICES IN HIS HEAD ASK: “They ask me what I’m going to miss as the President. I’ll tell you what I’m going to miss: being the Commander-in-Chief of such a fabulous group of folks.” Fabulous, that’s one a mah commander-in-chief phrases.

He met with Maliki, signed the Status of Forces Agreement, then turned to the only thing that really interests him on these foreign trips: “And I’m looking forward to some food.”


YOU NOTICE: “And our plan is working. You notice I say ‘our plan.’”

OF WHY WE FIGHT: “This is a future of what we’ve been fighting for”

SACRIFICED? YOU MEAN THEY CHOSE TO HAVE THEIR COUNTRY DESTROYED? “And the Iraqi people have sacrificed a lot.”

AND BARACK SAYS THANKS A BUNDLE: “And we are leaving the next president with a stable foundation for the future, and an approach that can enjoy broad bipartisan support at home.”

DO TELL: “The war is not yet over”.

At this point there was what the White House transcript describes as: “(Audience interruption.)”






Good reflexes, huh? But then, if you had to hang out with Dick Cheney, you’d practice your ducking skills too.

Naturally, Bush took this as yet another sign of the great progress in Iraq: “But that’s what happens in free societies, where people try to draw attention to themselves.” “It’s like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It’s like driving down the street and have people not gesturing with all five fingers. It’s a way for people to, you know, draw -- I don’t know what the guy’s cause is. But one thing is for certain -- he caused you to ask me a question about it.”

By the time he was interviewed by the pool reporters, his gag writers had gone to work on jokes about “ducking questions” and “I didn’t know what the guy said, but I saw his sole.” One of the reporters responded, “So you weren’t a lame duck.”

A reporter said of the footwear-hurler: “Obviously he’s expressing a vein of anger that exists in Iraq, and...”, at which point Bush interrupted to ask, “How do you know? I mean, how do we know what he’s expressing?” I’m thinking the first hint was the left shoe and the second hint was the right shoe.

WHAT IT WAS: “All I’m telling you, it was a bizarre moment.”

WHAT ONE GUY THROWING SHOES DOESN’T REPRESENT: “I don’t think you can take one guy throwing shoes and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq.” Why don’t you go stand on a street corner and see if anyone else throws shoes at you, so we can find out for sure?

WHAT (ELSE) STRUCK HIM: “one of the things that struck me was not the road, but was the amount of electricity there was inside Baghdad. It looked like a pretty well-lit city.” That’s not electricity, those were burning American flags.

WHAT HE SAW: “I saw a lot of kids playing soccer; I saw a lot of activity, a lot of street activity on the route we took. And General Odierno said a while ago that wouldn’t have been the case.”

HE’S THE REMINDERER: “Part of my mission here was to remind the Iraqi government that there is still a lot of work to be done on SFA-SOFA”.

IN OTHER WORDS: The questions turned to the American economy. “We took note that there was a majority in the House and the Senate that voted for a package for the autos that would have caused them to begin to show how they’re going to be viable. In other words, I have made this statement that given the status of the financial system, an abrupt bankruptcy for the autos could be devastating for the economy.”

YEAH, TRY NOT TO DO THAT CRATERING THING: “And therefore, we’ve tried to work with Congress to accomplish the objective of not cratering the economy as well as making sure good money doesn’t go after bad.”

He said repeatedly that decreased violence in Iraq was a sign of success. Increased violence in Afghanistan is also, of course, a sign of success: “No question the violence is up. But one reason why the violence is up is that we’re now putting troops into places where there hadn’t been troops -- begin to press these guys in places where they hadn’t been pressed.” Kinky.

DID YOU EVER THINK, AFTER 1969 OR SO, THAT ANYONE WOULD EVER AGAIN USE THE PHRASE “HEARTS AND MINDS” IN A NON-SARCASTIC SENSE? “Like a lot of other situations in which you’re trying to deal with extremists who get embedded in the population, there are two aspects -- one is to pressure them and to bring them to justice; and simultaneously try to win the hearts and minds of the local folks, which is what is happening Iraq.”

WHAT THE ELECTION PROCESS IN AFGHANISTAN WILL PROVIDE: “So the election process in Afghanistan will once again provide people an opportunity to say, we’re tired of this, or we appreciate that.”

The nicknamer-in-chief asked the NYT’s Steven Lee Myers, “Mind if I call you Jimmy Lee?” Q: “Steven Lee.” BUSH: “Stevie Lee, I mean.”

WHAT THESE NATIONS NEED TO KNOW: “These nations need to know that the United States has been with them, is with them, and will be with them.”

He was also interviewed by Martha Raddatz of ABC.

He described the shoe incident as “amusing. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of weird things during my presidency and this may rank up there as one of the weirdest.” Although that turnip in the shape of Al Pacino was pretty weird too.

He added, “I thought it was interesting, I thought it was unusual to have a guy throw his shoe at you. But I’m not insulted.”

TURNS OUT: “One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq.” Raddatz pointed out, “But not until after the U.S. invaded.” Bush responded, “Yeah, that’s right. So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they’re going to take a stand.” So what.

So what!!!

LUXURY: Asked about another rationale for the war, WMDs, he said: “I did not have the luxury of knowing he did not have them, neither did the rest of the world until after we had come and removed him.” A luxury is a fur-lined toilet seat. Knowing what you’re talking about before launching a war, some people would consider that a necessity.

WHY THE SOFA ISN’T ONE OF THOSE ARTIFICIAL TIMETABLES HE DOESN’T LIKE: “What I talked about timetables, was a political timetable imposed upon Iraq by people who didn’t think we should have been in there in the first place. This is an agreement between the sovereign government of Iraq and the U.S. government with the considered judgment of our military commanders at the core of, uh, of the agreement.”

WHY EVERYONE SHOULD JUST GO AHEAD AND IGNORE OBAMA’S PROMISE TO BE OUT OF IRAQ IN 16 months: “His plan -- the numbers didn’t come up -- but one of the things I assured the Iraqi government of is that President-elect Obama is, uh, will honor the agreements that we have just signed”.

BRILLIANT: Says Obama’s choice of Shinseki to head the Dept of Veterans Affairs is “a brilliant appointment,” and says he didn’t ignore his call for more troops in Iraq: “I did listen to Gen. Shinseki when he came in with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Well, there’s listening, and then there’s, you know, listening: “I don’t remember those exact words being spoken to me by Gen. Shinseki. I must confess I don’t remember those exact words being spoken to me, by Gen. Shi& he may have said it.” (The glitch in the transcript is ABC’s.)

Does he mind not having captured bin Laden? “And do I wish we had brought Osama bin Laden to justice, sure. But he’s not leading a lot of parades these days.” So that’s okay then.

In Afghanistan, Bush talked to some more troops.

HE’S THE MESSENGER-IN-CHIEF: “I had the honor of going to Fort Campbell the other day. I saw a lot of your comrades, and I saw a lot of your families. And they have a message for you: Air Assault!”

AFGHANS, IRAQIS, WHAT’S THE DIF? “And thanks to you, the Taliban has gone from power, the al Qaeda training camps are closed, and 25 million Iraqis are free.”

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH SIMPLER: “Removing the Taliban was a landmark achievement. But our work did not end there. See, we could have replaced one group of thugs with another strongman. ... It would have been so much simpler to say we got rid of one bunch and here’s another one.”

WHAT WE ARE MAKING: “And together with the determined people of Afghanistan, we are making hopeful gains.”

GEORGE IS DOWN WITH THE KIDS: “Thanks to you, girls are back in school across Afghanistan. Does that matter? I think it does. I think it does. Thanks to you, boys are playing soccer again, and flying kites, and learning to be Boy Scouts.” Um, the Boy Scouts, George?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We saved the world!


At Prime Minister’s Questions this week, Gordon Brown made a little gaffe, saying that he had “saved the world,” when he meant to say he had saved the banking system (save the cheerleader, save the banking system). The Tory party has made it available as a ringtone.

I’m still on the Mike Huckabee email list (the spam I subject myself to in order to get material for the entertainment of you, the faithful reader!). Huckles suggests that the “perfect Christmas gift” would be his book “Do the Right Thing” (I assume it has something to do with throwing a garbage can through a pizza parlor window) in a leather gift box. Cows might argue about that definition of “the right thing.” The Huckster also suggests you purchase this lovely shirt for your family and friends:


Zimbabwean officials are claiming that when Mugabe said cholera has been “cured” in his country, he was being “sarcastic.” So that’s okay then.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Popularity is as fleeting as the Texas wind


Today Bush gave a commencement address at Texas A&M. They gave him academic robes and everything.


SOME MIGHTY FINE TRADITIONS: “I’ll say this for A&M -- you’ve got some mighty fine traditions. (Applause.) Back in my day, I think I would have enjoyed dunking my ring.” I never want to know what that means. Ever.

“Some days have been happy, some days not so happy -- every day joyous.” This is at least the third time he’s uttered that line, so he must be rather pleased with it.


He had some advice for the graduates: “There will be times when people tell you a different way is more accepted or popular. Remember that popularity is as fleeting as the Texas wind...” Especially if you’re an incompetent moron. Of course the meteorological metaphor suggests that his own plummeting popularity has nothing to do with any intrinsic qualities of his own. “...Character and conscience are as sturdy as the oaks on this campus. If you go home at night, look in the mirror and be satisfied that you have done what is right, you will pass the only test that matters.” Unless your judgment about what is “right” is invariably spectacularly wrong. That’s the thing about Bush: even after everything he’s done has turned to shit, he does indeed look in the mirror and is satisfied that he has done what is right. After all this time, we all know Bush too well to expect any acknowledgment from him that there are one or two things he might have gotten not quite right; what is galling is that for the rest of his days he will feel nothing but smug satisfaction in a job well done.



Nurse! Nurse!


Coinciding with the release of a Senate Armed Services Committee report which says that the torture at Guantanamo and elsewhere was not the actions of a few bad apples but the result of decisions made by Rumsfeld and other administration officials (no fucking kidding), the USA Today has an article about the “progress” of Guantanamo, in other words a transcription of whatever Gitmo public relations officers tell them. Basketballs, DVDs, cultural sensitivity (tiptoing during prayers, cutting images of Western sluts out of their complimentary copies of USA Today, etc), and of course nutritious torture: “And while 20 inmates remain on a hunger strike, they are fed through a tube that supplies at least 4,500 calories a day. ‘Several of them will complain if the nurses are late,’ [Cmdr. Pauline] Storum said.” No one likes an unpunctual force-feeding. Especially when they’re strapped down in restraint chairs.

I’m not sure I see the point of some of Bush’s last-minute shenanigans. Like the new rules letting decisions affecting endangered species to be made by bureaucrats without consulting scientists. We’re told it will take months for Obama to reverse the regs, but what stops him from issuing an order that no such decisions be made without consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service?

The Republican Party seems willing to destroy the entire American auto industry in order to take down the UAW, but honestly do you want to be out on the highway knowing that those several-ton steel vehicles barreling down the road next to you were made by workers who were screwed as badly as the GOP wants them to be screwed?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Improving the lives of America’s youth


The White House website has posted a “fact sheet” entitled “President Bush Has Improved The Lives Of America’s Youth.” It cites such things as lower drug use, the national AMBER alert system, investigations of “computer-facilitated child sexual exploitation,” and No Child Left Behind.

CONTEST: Name some other ways in which George Bush has improved the lives of America’s youth.

Elsewhere


Bush this morning held a meeting on drug use with ministers, addicts and of course baseball players.

WHAT GOVERNMENT MUST NOT FEAR: “I say government is justice, government is law -- but government must not fear places of love.”



Speaking of places of love, in Israel Tzipi Livni, the more “liberal” candidate to be the next prime minister, says that once a Palestinian state is established, Palestinians should just get the hell out of Israel: “the national solution for you is elsewhere.”

2008 in Pictures


Compiling this year’s pictures, This Blog has grown melancholy over the forthcoming loss of that eternal font of teh goofy, George Bush’s face, that chimp-like countenance which has the unique ability to make you want to both laugh at it, and punch it very hard indeed, simultaneously.

What will a Barack Obama presidency bring? A long, long visual drought. An increasingly frustrating series of dignified poses. Sigh. Soon desperation will drive me to learn how to photoshop propeller beanies


and Queen Elizabeth’s hats




onto his head,


and he’ll still look ten times more dignified than Bush at his most dignitudinous. Sigh.

Here’s our look back:


Bush













My most popular photo of the year (400 hits from the Netherlands alone), Mara Carfagna, Italy’s “Equal Opportunities Minster” and now government spokesperson:





Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   2

6.16.08   6

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   11















Our first glimpse of Joe the Plumber:










(Updated:




John McCain informed us that the fundamentals of our economy were strong, and while he may not have been entirely correct about that, one fundamental leading economic indicator remained absolutely steady, no matter what: everything we needed to know about the true state of the economy we could always tell by the expression on Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s face:




Mortgage Crisis



Finally, presenting the Picture of the Year for 2008:


Come back, Maverick, all is forgiven.