Sunday, April 30, 2006

I just know that nobody speaks in polite company in that way

So Colin Powell suddenly remembers having suggested that more troops were needed to occupy Iraq. On “Face the Nation” (pdf), Condi (in remarkably bad form even for her) claimed she can’t remember what Powell had said, “but I do know that if there were questions about troop levels, they were, of course, raised.” And “The number of troops on the ground was there to execute the plan.” Evidently the plan was that we would defeat the Iraqi military and then immediately start relying on it to run security during our occupation: “Well, I--I--but if you look at what happened in the immediate aftermath of the war, the Iraqi Army in effect kind of disintegrated.” See, the Iraqi Army failed to hold up its part of The Plan. And yes, we were the ones who ordered the Iraqi army disbanded, she admits when Shieffer brings it up, but it had already “melted into nothing”. And unfortunately we weren’t the only ones with a Baldrickian cunning plan: “Secondarily, there was systematic looting that obviously had been planned, really, where it was not really the number of forces on the ground, it was the--the systematic looting that took place.” But, like the Flight 93 movie, it’s just too soon to be talking about this, why there’ll be plenty of time after the heat death of the universe: “As I’ve said many times, Bob, there will be time to go back and look at those days of the war and after the war to examine what went right and what went wrong.”

Addressing the number one topic of the week, she refuses to condemn or to support or indeed to express any coherent opinion on the Spanish version of the National Anthem.

On CNN (she was interviewed everywhere today, as was George Clooney; they must have kept bumping into each other; wonder what they said?), Blitzer asked if Iranian President Ahmadinejad is a psychopath. She refused to offer a diagnosis, but said “I just know that nobody speaks in polite company in that way.” That put him in his place.

Gen. Rick Lynch, Military Moron, disputes the claim that many people have been forced out of their homes in Iraq: “We see reports of tens of thousands of families displaced here in Iraq, and we chase down each and every one of those reports. But we have seen some displacement, pockets of families moving, but not in large numbers.” They chase down each and every one of tens of thousands of reports? Man, are you sure there are enough troops?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

We comply because we are democratic

The Jesusy version of “I Will Survive.”

Berlusconi is finally willing to concede the elections, sort of: “We comply because we are democratic, but inside ourselves we remain convinced that the majority prize has been wrongly assigned.” You know what people who “are democratic” don’t usually use? The royal “we.”

Bush in his Saturday radio address hailed the establishment of what I guess they’re going to keep calling Iraq’s “national unity government” (NUG) (I’m trying for a meme on that acronym).

He said, “This is an important milestone on the road to democracy in Iraq,” which is an adaptation of an old Iraqi saying, often attributed to Hammurabi, “The road to democracy is paved with... Look out! An IED! (BOOM!!)”

And he said, for like the 983rd time, that the violence of the enemy comes from desperation (I wrote in August ‘03: “Yeah, it’s a sign of desperation if they attack us, a sign of boldness and resolve if we attack them, yeah yeah yeah.”). You normally think of despair as an emotion that doesn’t last for years and years.

Speaking of desperation, Tony Blair seems to be having a bad week, from Home Secretary Charles Clarke failing to deport foreign criminals after their sentences, some of whom committed more crimes (a woman raped by one of them is calling for Clarke’s resignation), to the health secretary being heckled by nurses, to the mistress of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott (who once punched a guy in the face during an election: he’s like Dick Cheney with gun control) selling her story to the tabloids (they had sex right after an Iraqi war memorial service, tut tut tut) (there’s Prescott behind the Blairs, and the mistress on the far right).

Also, cannabis with “a street value of 85 pence” was discovered in the home of the defense secretary. The Sunday Times is displaying the edifying signs of the British press when it smells blood. Some of its headlines: “The Week from Hell for the New Labour Project,” “And It’s Going to Get Worse,” “A Government on Borrowed Time,” “Focus: Going Down.” Although another story suggests that the problem with the foreign convicts was that the tabloids and the Tories whipped up a xenophobic frenzy against asylum seekers, to which Blair responded in his usual managerialist style by setting targets to reduce their number by half, so the Home Office simply stopped trying to deport foreign felons who might claim asylum to prevent being deported.

The Independent on Sunday’s three editorials are “Charles Clarke Must Go,” “Patricia Hewitt Must Stay,” and “John Prescott... Must We?”

Here’s a picture of Blair and Prescott I rather like.

Fortunately, the Tory party is still run by ineffectual losers, who this week have been trying to portray themselves as environmentalists. For example, Conservative Party chair Francis Maude is urging Brits to pee on their compost. There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Finally doing their job

Some right-wing blog is abusing my theme song. Stop it.

Reading this WaPo article about how Iraqi troops and police in one town, even those trained by Americans, are not to be trusted, I got the distinct feeling that while some of them certainly are insurgents, others are simply failing to demonstrate the loyalty to which their American overlords feel entitled.

And the more the Americans suspect their loyalty, the more they treat them as cannon fodder. The need not to give them advance warning of missions so that they don’t tip off the insurgents mean they have no role in planning or choosing those missions; if they weren’t gung-ho before, that wouldn’t be the way to make them. And worse than cannon fodder: there’s a story about the police commander telling the Americans about an IED only after the 28-year old American who seems to be issuing orders to the Iraqis decides to take the commander along on a drive through town. The American sees the story as being about the duplicity of the natives; the Iraqi might just see it as an example of the Americans using Iraqis as human shields.

The Americans also seem to arrest members of those forces on a regular basis not just for insurgent activities, but for failing to do their jobs (and risk their lives) in what the Americans consider a sufficiently zealous manner (“Tell your guys, if they refuse to ride in the Humvees, they will go to jail for 10 days. It’s not a choice,” a 23-year old American lieutenant threatened). The flip side of that is the view of one unnamed American officer that “more police have been killed lately, which means some of them are finally doing their job.” That’s rather like the witch-drowning thing. Or to put it another way, the only good Iraqi cop is a dead Iraqi cop.

We strongly will work for freedom

Pakistan’s Generalissimo Musharaf tells the Guardian that he is not George Bush’s poodle. So much not George Bush’s poodle that he comes right out and says that he’d prefer that the US not his bomb his country any more, please, calling it “an infringement of our sovereignty”. Ya think? The Guardian mentions that a reporter who photographed fragments of the missiles fired on that village in January, proving that they were American, disappeared four days later and hasn’t been seen since. Why have I not heard that before? The US, by the way, still hasn’t acknowledged responsibility for that attack.

Bush met Azerbaijan’s hereditary president Iham Aliyev, with whom he “talked about the need to -- for the world to see a modern Muslim country that is able to provide for its citizens, that understands that democracy is the wave of the future.” That’s a description of Azerbaijan that will come as quite a surprise to Azerbaijanis.

Within an hour of praising Aliyev’s record (my favorite story about him is that when his father was dictator he closed every casino in the country to keep Iham from getting any deeper into debt), Bush also met with various people whose stories highlighted North Korea’s human rights record. Right message, wrong messenger. For example, he met with relatives of a Japanese teenager kidnapped by North Korea, saying, “It is hard to believe that a country would foster abduction.” This in a week when the EU reported that there have been over 1,000 secret CIA flights since 2001, carrying secret prisoners to secret prisons. He concluded, “We strongly will work for freedom,” which sounds like it was translated (badly) from a banner in Pyongyang.

I want my approval ratings back up to 40% pronto, or the cute little Korean girl gets it.

Continuing on his human rights roll, Bush said in the afternoon, “genocide in Sudan is unacceptable.” Earlier, he told reporters, “We don’t like it when we see women raped and brutalized.” Um, right.

He also said that it is unacceptable – not quite as unacceptable as genocide, but still pretty darned unacceptable – for the National Anthem to be sung in Spanish: “people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English, and they ought to learn to sing the National Anthem in English.” Sadly, there was not a follow-up asking him to sing it, or at least recite every single word and no leaving out the “Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution” stanza.

On immigration, he says several times that he wants to “enforce the border.” Does that strike anyone else as kind of a weird phrase? He also says he’s against the boycott and that “One of the things that’s very important is when we debate this issue that we not lose our national soul.” Have you checked under the seat cushions? “One of the great things about America is that we’ve been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God.” All walks of life? He literally forgot that he was talking about immigration half-way through that sentence. Also, “bound” as one nation? That doesn’t sound pleasant, unless he’s referring to Gina Gershon/Jennifer Tilly lesbian scenes.

The AP caption for this picture is “President Bush talks to reporters about the economy in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 28, 2006.”

Thursday, April 27, 2006

He works from Maine to Mexico

A Senate committee says that FEMA should be disbanded and rebuilt from scratch. George Bush immediately went to work.

Oh okay, he was actually “helping” rebuild the home of Ethel Williams, seen here being used quite literally as a prop.

His tendency to stray far, far into other peoples’ personal spaces is always at its strongest, for some reason, with black women. Here he was yesterday with National Teacher of the Year Kimberly Oliver.

In Biloxi, he made what Reuters calls an “impromptu” stop at a gas station, where he commiserated with redneck SUV owners about the price of gas. “Yeah, just shut up and squeegee the damned windshield, Mr. President.”

I want my approval ratings back up to 40% pronto, or the pup gets it.

We’re actually having a great time here in Iraq

The LAT has an article suggesting that Rummy & Condi went to Iraq to use the country purely as a backdrop for a message aimed at the American public. No kidding. You have to appreciate the irony that the two show up unannounced and uninvited, which they wouldn’t do to, say, China or Britain, to talk about how Iraq is fully sovereign now. They’re playing up the message of unity, by which I don’t mean the “unified government of national unity,” but unity between Rummy and Condi, who have evidently put all the fussin’ and the feudin’ behind them. Sez Condi: “We’re actually having a great time here in Iraq. I think it’s very stimulating for us both to be in these meetings with Iraq’s leaders together.” Cuz they really know how to party.

Hope the thought of Condi being stimulated doesn’t put you off your breakfasts.

Iraq’s vice president’s sister was just assassinated, two weeks after his brother was also killed. The BBC is too darned tasteful to tell us how many siblings he has left.

Army chief of staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker says of complaints about the size of the Pentagon’s budget request, “I just don’t understand.... What’s the problem?” adding (incorrectly) that Americans spend about the same amount of money on “plastic Santa Clauses and tinsel and all this stuff for Christmas last year.” All Schoomaker wants for Christmas is an invasion of Iran.

In a Supreme Court case heard Wednesday, the state of Florida argued that an inmate shouldn’t be allowed to challenge the constitutionality of lethal injection as cruel and unusual without offering his own suggestion for how the state should put him to death. Scalia, being Scalia, suggested that subjecting inmates to a certain amount of pain was okay and that calling for painless executions would be “a very extreme proposition.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Timely information about my philosophy

Bush gives a stirring thank you to outgoing press secretary Scott McClellan: “I will always be proud to call him, ‘friend,’” adding, “because I’ve already forgotten his name.” And as for the new guy, Tony Insert-Snow-Related-Pun-Here, “He’s going to work hard to provide you with timely information about my philosophy, my priorities, and the actions we’re taking to implement our agenda.” Can’t wait for that timely information about Bush’s philosophy.

Condi Rice and Donald Rumsfeld are both in Iraq at the same time! Presumably that was where she meant to go, because she said in Greece yesterday “The United States of America understands and believes that Iran is not Iraq” (I adore her choice of the verb believe)(maybe that’s what Bush meant by “my philosophy”). Rice tells reporters on the plane, “and I will obviously link up there with Secretary Rumsfeld.” Hey, she said it, not me. Maybe they can finally come to an agreement on whether we’ve made thousands of mistakes or zero mistakes in Iraq. She said the purpose of the trip is “to make sure there are no seams between what we’re doing politically and what we’re doing militarily.” I’m sure what you’re doing politically and what you’re doing militarily will indeed be unseamly.

Oh, get a room, you two

A reporter asks Condi whether this visit doesn’t just reinforce the charges made by Zarqawi that the Maliki regime is a puppet of the US. She replies by repeating over and over that it is a “government of national unity.”

Canadian PM Stephen Harper has followed American practice in banning news coverage of the return of the bodies of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He says it’s all about privacy and certainly not aboot hiding the consequences of Canada signing on to fight America’s wars – but at the same time he halted the practice of flying the flag at half-staff for slain soldiers.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The kind of progress that is political progress

Condi tries to lower expectations that the new Iraqi government will actually accomplish anything any time soon: “I just hope that people understand and keep those expectations in check... Progress is going to be the kind of progress that is political progress, which doesn’t come in great flashes, it doesn’t come in great outbursts of another election or purple fingers or any of that.”

And Bush had deep philosophical conversations when he phoned Iraq’s president, speaker of parliament & PM-to-be and “encouraged them to stand strong for the Iraqi people. I reminded them the people had voted, the people had expressed their desire for democracy and unity, and now there’s a chance for these leaders to stand up and lead.” I know it was quite some time ago but... he reminded them the people had voted.

The London Times has two stories today whose headlines are so good that the stories themselves could only be a let-down: “Stop Condom Pyres, Mourners Told” and “Pope on Pogo Stick ‘Inappropriate.’”

New “Get Your War On.”

And no one tried to tackle him

I call this series “Trying to Look Dignified and Solemn and All-Presidential-Like While Carrying a Football (And Then Blowing It By Showing Off His Secret Decoder Ring).”

What happens in Anatolia, Las Vegas and Gitmo stays in Anatolia, Las Vegas and Gitmo

Bush issues a presidential message commemorating the Armenian genocide, while blurring it as much as possible. Guess what word he doesn’t use? Genocide. He twice calls it a “tragedy,” which is a word that does not entail responsibility, especially not Turkish responsibility. He calls it “the mass killings and forced exile of as many as 1.5 million Armenians,” which could mean that 3 people were killed and 1,497,993 were exiled or it could mean that 1,497,993 were killed and 3 people exiled.

But here’s my real beef with Bush: he went to Las freaking Vegas Monday and there’s not a single funny picture for me to use.

The Pentagon wants to put on trial a few of the Guantanamo prisoners, execute a few of them, release some of them (at some point in the future, so why is this news?), transfer others to prisons in their own countries, and declare some of them no longer combatants but continue to imprison them, like those Uighurs, because they can’t safely be sent back to their own countries. The LA Times headline for this, which is obviously inaccurate in so many ways, is “U.S. to Free 141 Terror Suspects.” And it entirely misses the other big Gitmo news: McDonald’s is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Guantanamo store! Hurrah!

Monday, April 24, 2006

In other words, there’s the line for people

Condi Rice again praises Iraqi PM-designate Maliki: “He comes to this as the strongest political figure really ever ... since the liberation of Iraq”. Oh good, because “strong” political figures have never been any sort of a, ya know, problem for Iraq in the past. “He comes with both the imprimatur of the Iraqi people and ... the mandate to form a unified national unity government.” Yes, he has the sort of imprimatur and mandate that can only come from more than four months of back-room negotiation.

Update: when I first posted, I meant to make fun of “unified national unity government,” but I forgot.

Bush was in Irvine to tell a crowd of Orange County businesspeople that “the war on terror [is] not over.”
There is still an enemy that wants to do us harm. And the most important job of the President of the United States is to protect the American people from that harm. That’s -- and I think about it all the time.
Adding, “There, I thought about it just then. And then. And then. No, that was gas.”

Keywords of the day: “safe haven.” He uses it 7 times to describe the thing that terrorists want to have in Iraq and shouldn’t be allowed to have. They must have run some focus groups.

“You know, it’s really important for people to be able to connect the concept of freedom to our security. And it’s hard. It’s hard, particularly in a day and age when every act of violence is put in your living room.” Yeah, it’s getting really hard to keep the carpet clean.

He defended his conduct of the Iraq war once again by claiming that he didn’t conduct the Iraq war, but left it up to Tommy Franks to tell him what to do and what was needed to do it. “One the lessons of Vietnam, it seemed like to me -- still does -- is that people tried to make decisions on behalf of the military, which I think is a terrible precedent to make if you’re the Commander-in-Chief.” So the one thing a commander-in-chief shouldn’t do is command. What happened to “I’m the decider”?

Most of the speech was about immigration, in that county named after an agricultural product picked almost exclusively by immigrants. And we got more focus-grouped language designed to make an anti-immigration policy sound friendly to the people actually trying to immigrate: “One of the things that Congress has done, it’s done a good job of providing additional money for bed space and money to make sure that we can send people back home.” We’re giving them bed space, not putting them in detention centers surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire. And then we’re sending them “home.” Isn’t that nice of us? Although even he acknowledges, “They’re going broke at home”. Also, we’re saving them, he mentions in every speech on immigration, from coyotes. The Border Patrol and INS are really doing rescue work, if you think about it.

The guest-workers will be given – and here’s another focus-grouped phrase that he repeats like a gazillion times – “tamper-proof cards.” “All of a sudden, we’ve kind of taken this smuggling industry and dismantled it through rational policy. All of a sudden, we recognized that we want to treat people with respect.”

Then he started talking about lines, how illegal immigrants should get to the back of the line, how Congress could decide on the lengths of different lines for different nationalities. “In other words, there’s the line for people.” I think he was just feeling nostalgic for lines of coke.

In the Q&A, someone asked if he knew any illegal immigrants, say in Texas, who might give him their perspective. No, he doesn’t.

And now for a game of Find the Racist:
I was talking to a congressman from -- I don’t want to -- they’ll start trying to find the guy, so I’m not going to give him any hints, but -- (laughter.) It’s a guy. Anyway, but he said, my town was like a small number of minorities, and now it’s 50 percent Latino, and we don’t know what to do.
My guess: Dan Lungren.

Freedom, unless you count...

Two stories about Iraq. Halli-fucking-burton has been importing workers to do menial jobs on American bases in Iraq (because the occupation is such a success that there are no unemployed people in Iraq) and then taking their passports so they have no choice but to work in the conditions and for the pay Halli-motherfucking-burton feels appropriate. The words slavery and human trafficking are used, with good reason.

That article can be skimmed if you’re short of time. But the WaPo has a must-read about torture, abuse and starvation in Iraqi prisons, which are in fact still being inspected by American soldiers: they’re just not doing much of anything about it. They always, always find evidence of abuse, but short of actual broken bones they leave the prisoners in the hands of their torturers. You’ll remember the Interior Ministry “unofficial jail” discovered and shut down last November. Evidently the US military decided after that to stop embarrassing the Iraq regime. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, Military Moron, has lied about the inspections, claiming they’d uncovered no abuse. He should be fired. The Post says it has photographs, plural, but runs only one.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Worth the wait

Bush: “The Iraqis are showing the world that democracy is worth the wait”. Maybe, but if my dinner arrived more than four months after I placed the order, I sure wouldn’t tip 15%.

Evidently chants of “death to Arabs” are common at Israeli soccer matches. Charming.

I just found an LA Times clip from God knows when with suggestions for California license plate slogans:
California: Omigod! Omigod!

Millions of People, Dozens of Stories

Where Anyone Can Get Elected Governor

Bush went to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, and demonstrated his “aren’t I the cutest thing ever” face. No one was buying.

No choice but to become suicide bombers

Bush: “And the doctrine, if you harbor a terrorist you are equally as guilty as a terrorist, came right from my soul.”

Managed care: a shoot-out at the Palestinian health ministry was caused, according to the BBC, by Fatah gunmen “seeking better treatment for a hospital patient”.

A few days ago, I linked to a London Times article about postal carriers in Baghdad. Today’s Sunday Times has one about garbage men, who are increasingly being targeted. The Iraqi version of “First they came for the communists...” is gonna be a little strange. According to a Sunni militant interviewed by the paper, it is because they spy for the government and report when they find booby traps in rubbish heaps (at no point is there an explanation for why anyone would booby-trap a rubbish heap).

In a followup to the story about Abdul Rahman, the Afghan Christian convert, which doesn’t actually mention what he’s doing now that he’s in exile, the WaPo quotes an imam saying that if it’s Afghanistan’s democratic decision to kill apostates, “we ask that you not interfere, or else we will have no choice but to become suicide bombers.” No choice. None at all.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

George W. Bush’s Earth Day

Bush celebrated Earth Day today; he went to “commune with nature” in a state forest in California. As always when communing with nature, he brought a crowd.

His bike has a name. It’s called Mountain Bike One.

He then went to Sacramento to see a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered car.

And a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered bus (exact change only, Mr President!).

He said that hydrogen is the “fuel of the future.” He said that hydrogen is “domestically produced” (in hydrogen factories, I assume).

He arrived in Sacramento on his personal helicopter.

He left Sacramento on his personal airplane.

Here’s the motorcade that took him to his environmentally friendly bike ride.

He even walked at one point, but he didn’t look very pleased about it.

Friday, April 21, 2006

She was yelling at the president

So what assistant US Attorney prosecuting Wang Wenyi said when she denied that Wang’s speech was actually speech was, “She was yelling at the president. You can’t walk into a theater and yell ‘Fire!’ The First Amendment does not permit her to engage in criminal conduct.” You have to go to law school to learn that sort of logic, or possibly Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV.

Which doesn’t explain the logic of the WaPo, which editorializes that she shouldn’t go to prison. So far so good. Then they say “The Secret Service was right to hustle her off the grounds.” Okay. Then they say, “President Bush was right to apologize.” Wrong wrong wrong, and wrong. As the Danish government rightly said when asked ever so politely by the Muslim world to apologize for those cartoons, it is not the place of the government of a free people to apologize for the speech of its citizens. That’s what free speech means.

Bush came to California today, which he doesn’t do often because his staffers like to feed him made-up stories about the weird sex habits of Californians, just to see what they can get him to believe. This is why he said, “I know people here are suffering at the gas pump.” I’m not sure what he thinks we do at, or possibly with, the gas pump...

Speaking of pumping, he met with our beloved governor, so once again I’m disguising my laziness with a CAPTION CONTEST! YAY!

Going beyond political speech

At heckler Wang Wenyi’s hearing, the federal prosecutor said (according to the Reuters paraphrase), “Wang had gone beyond political speech and that the verbal attack was personally directed at Hu.” Political speech can’t be directed towards an actual person?

A CIA employee from its inspector-general’s office has been fired for leaking details of the secret prisons in Eastern Europe to the WaPo (which got a Pulitzer for the story). So we can take that as an official confirmation, right?

Iraq seems finally to have a new prime minister, Jawad al-Maliki, who is exactly in the mold of Jaafari: a sectarian Shiite who the Sunnis will never trust, who spent most of his adult life in exile outside Iraq, mostly in Iran. What’s not to love?

And in Afghanistan, Karzai named a new cabinet, mostly a reshuffle of the old cabinet, including removing all but one token woman (minister of women’s affairs). He tried to get the parliament to vote on them as a slate, but they refused, and rejected several of his choices, including, you guessed it, the woman, and also the minister of culture, who is accused of not censoring enough culture.

Harassing, intimidating or threatening

Yesterday, Bush apologized to Chinese President Hu for Wang Wenyi’s heckling of him, but nothing says “I’m sorry” like a stiff jail term. Wang has been charged with “harassing, intimidating or threatening a foreign official,” for which she could be imprisoned for up to six months. And they may also go after her under local laws for disorderly conduct. I’m guessing she doesn’t get to call Hu as a witness to ask him if he felt harassed, intimidated or threatened. Chinese presidents are notoriously sensitive to such examples of lèse majesté: when protesters were actually allowed within the sight-lines of Jiang Zemin in Switzerland in 1999, he said the Swiss had “lost a good friend.” And yesterday Chinese foreign ministry officials cancelled a briefing session out of pique. On one thing the Chinese, Bush and the penal code all agree: it is the duty of government to keep its subjects quiet in the presence of foreign leaders.

Jon Carroll:
The Bush administration embraced the arrogance of power with gusto. Its motto was “Never complain, never explain,” which morphed into “Never explain, frequently complain,” which morphed into “Always complain, pretend to explain.”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hu’s your daddy

The museum at the site of the Majdanek death camp in Poland has thought better of its plans to stage a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Speaking of awkward, when that woman heckled Hu, it was blacked out in China. Bush later apologized to Hu for this egregious case of freedom being exercised. The free speech, it burns, it buuuuurrrrns!!! Whenever Bush, or Condi, or whomever, visits China, they always have the common courtesy of arresting all their dissidents to prevent just such an occurrence. Oh, and the White House announcer thought that China’s name is “the Republic of China.” Oops.

What do you mean by a democracy?

Saw a commercial for Steve Westly, one of the D’s running for governor in California. It says he’d be a “different kind of governor.” Thank you for making that clear, or we might have thought you planned to be another Austrian-former-bodybuilder-action-film-star-married-to-a-Kennedy-harasser-of-women kind of governor. No, you plan to be different from that. Not the same. Dissimilar.

Karl Rove has given up one of his titles... no, not Boy Genius, but rather “deputy chief of staff for policy.” I’m wondering if his pay will go down accordingly. OK, I’m not really, but shouldn’t it?

Jay Rosen at Salon thinks that Scott McClellan’s incompetence (“McClellan’s specialty was noncommunication; what’s remarkable about him as a choice for press secretary is that he had no special talent for explaining Bush’s policies to the world. In fact, he usually made things less clear by talking about them.”) was the reason he had the job in the first place: “Not to be persuasive, but to refute the assumption that there was anyone the White House needed or wanted to persuade -- least of all the press! ... The very notion of persuasion conceded more to democratic politics than the Bush forces wanted to concede. ... McClellan was there to make executive power more illegible... The intended result: a presidency that is less questioned in the eyes of the world. That’s not news management; it’s a new balance of power between them and us.” Read it. It’s an interesting argument, but whether or not you are persuaded by it, which comes down largely to whether you believe the Bushies are smart enough to have that coherent a strategy, it is an explanation that fits the facts, and that’s frightening enough.

Bush met Chinese President Hu Jintao today. Said, “The United States and China are two nations divided by a vast ocean -- yet connected through a global economy”. That must be the ocean we used to think would protect us. Afterwards, they took questions from reporters, a reversal of the earlier plan to avoid such an encounter, a plan for which the WaPo editorially spanked the White House (they rather adorably assumed it was Hu and not Bush who wished to avoid questions). One reporter asked Hu when China would become a democracy. Hu replied “what do you mean by a democracy?” I hope he didn’t look to GeeDubya to explain it to him.

Bush says the US & China have a common goal “that Iran should not have the nuclear weapon, the capacity to make a nuclear weapon, or the know-how to how to make a nuclear weapon.”

But fuck the nukes issue, what Bush is really interested in is sports. He mentioned a Chinese basketball player, the visit of the US ping pong team to China 35 years ago, the Olympics, and here he is with Michelle Kwan.

Multiple picture caption contest:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Red Beard the Palestinian Pirate

Some Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset met with a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament, Mohammed Abu Tir today, and.... Um, uh, what the fuck is up with that beard?

I mean WHAT the FUCK??

Hard to replace Scott

Little Scotty, the over-sized, sweaty, sputtering face of the White House, is out! Sez Chimpy, “It’s going to be hard to replace Scott”. Yes, yes it will.

The Supreme Court decided not to hear the case of two Chinese Uighurs who have spent four years in Guantanamo for no very good reason, were “cleared” (determined to no more be enemy combatants, whatever that means) more than a year ago but not released because they can’t be sent back to China and no one else wants them. The Bush admin argued that their case shouldn’t be heard at all because their continued Gitmoization “does not establish that they are suffering irreparable harm requiring this court’s immediate intervention” and “The Executive’s power to detain enemy combatants necessarily includes the authority to wind up detention in an orderly fashion after a determination has been made that it is no longer necessary to hold a detainee for war-related reasons.”

Bush said today, “we also recognize that vacuums in the political process create opportunity for malfeasance and harm.” You knew he meant Iraq, right?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Name of the day

I’ve mentioned the, to me, obnoxious idea of Alabama “pardoning” Rosa Parks and other civil rights activists. I’m not revisiting that, but I need to give the prestigious Name of the Day award (sorry, Suri Cruise, you lose) to its sponsor, who I just found out is one Thad McClammy.

Just call it idiosyncratic

Rumsfeld explained today that retired generals were criticizing him because he had modernized the military and they’re stodgy old fogeys who don’t like change, such as cancelling the Crusader artillery piece, closing bases, adjusting our global posture and, oh yeah, totally and completely fucking up Iraq. No, “people like things the way they are, and so when you make a change like that, somebody’s not going to like it... It’s hard for people who are oriented one way to suddenly have to be oriented a different way.” I think he’s trying to tell us he’s gay. Sort of like Vito Spatafore on The Sopranos.

The worst use of “jazz hands” ever

Another of his great ideas that people have obstructed: performance pay. “The idea of paying for performance is stunning for some people.” It’ll be really stunning for him when he finds out he owes the federal government several billion dollars because of his performance.

He was asked a rather good question: why did he offer to resign twice during the Abu Ghraib scandal, when there wasn’t evidence that he was involved or knew about it, but not now, when there are questions about decisions he actually did make. Rummy: “Oh, just call it idiosyncratic.” That’s one word for it.

Here he deploys the “Rummy Scowl of Doom” on a hapless reporter

Gen. Peter Pace made an interesting comment about militias coming under central government “control.” Asked to elaborate, he said that when (and if) there is a central government, it will have to decide “either... to assimilate them back into civilian society without weapons or into the police forces or the army with weapons”. Huh.

Bush goes to school, learns nothing

Bush went to a magnet school in Maryland today, and learned all about magnets. Science, he said, is “cool.” Except for climatology and evolution and genetics and...

You know, just once I’d like him, when he goes to a school, to go to a crappy one, or even an average one, and sit in on a real average class. He just has no idea. He sees the dog and pony show, he sees “people using little devices to look for sun spots,” and he thinks that’s what it’s like every day. Here he is defending No Child Left Behind:
And, oh, by the way, I’ve heard every excuse not to measure -- you know, You’re teaching the test. No, you’re teaching a child to read so he or she can pass the test, that’s what you’re doing. Or, All you do is test. No, good schools are those who [sic] have got a curriculum that enables a child to be able to pass a standardized test. That’s what we’re talking about.

Today the Parkland Magnet Middle School for Aerospace Technology, tomorrow, ze world!

Here he greets students of the magnet school while standing on the chest of the photographer taking this picture.

Here a student explains his science project for the fourth time, using even smaller words, but Bush still just doesn’t get it.

And finally a couple of random pictures from the visit of Bush looking like a doofus.