Saturday, June 16, 2001

Dubya was in Poland yesterday. So the prime minister of Poland, whoever that is, turned to him and said, "Hey I just heard a great joke. How many George Bushes does it take...."

This is his first visit to Europe and I'm reminded of Reagan's first visit to South America, when he came back with the revelation that they were all like different countries down there. Bush has learned the opposite lesson. "I will express to President Putin that Russia is a part of Europe". I'm sure he'll be happy to hear that. Don't tell George that Russia is also a part of Asia; it'll just confuse him. His speech was one long geography lesson. "Our vision of Europe must also include the Balkans." (Headline elsewhere in the Times: US Doesn't Want to Join Any NATO Mission Into Macedonia). "The Europe we are building must include Ukraine". Poland is evidently at the heart of Europe. The Baltics, on the other hand, didn't get a look in.

All of Europe's new democracies, he said, should have the same chance to join the institutions of Europe as Europe's "old democracies." Well, I said it was a geography lesson, not a history lesson. Old democracies indeed. Bush thanked Poland for acting as a bridge to the new democracies of Europe. That's usually what people--Stalin and Hitler, say--call Poland before they send tanks across it. The autobahn of Europe. I trust you noticed that the "institutions of Europe" meant NATO. He assured Russia that NATO is not an enemy of Russia. I said it was not a history lesson. He also said that Poland was not an enemy of Russia. I believe I just said it was not a history lesson. He also said that Warsaw was "razed by the Nazis and destroyed by the Soviets. Its people were mostly displaced." All except the spleens, I guess. When exactly did the Soviets destroy Warsaw?

Amusingly, he defined Communism as materialism and said that man (for a speech presumably written by Condi, its language is consistently sexist; it would not have gone over well if it had been turned in for the Stevenson Core Course) must find goals greater than mere consumption. This is George "You'll take the gear shift of my SUV when you pry it from my cold dead hands" Bush talking.

His aides are telling the papers that behind closed doors Bush is actually a serious statesman. That's interesting, because behind closed doors I'm actually quite thin.

Hey, trust Bush to go to Sweden, Sweden mind you, and start riots and shootings.

A Japanese court rules that compensation to atomic bomb survivors doesn't apply to those living outside the country, like say Koreans brought to Japan as slaves.

British supermarkets are working on changing fruit in order to make it more appealing to children. They're going to carbonate it. Really. Oranges and grapes are said to taste quite good carbonated, but the tomatoes are a bit strange. And it doesn't work with bananas, which explode if you try it. Actually, that would appeal to children too.

Something that never occurred to me. Mein Kampf is still under copyright. The copyright is held by the Bavarian finance ministry, but the book is banned in Germany. In Britain, the money since 1976 has been going to a charity for Jewish refugees from Germany.

No comments: