Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It’s hard to do the hard things now

I haven’t listened to it yet myself, but the BBC just started a 6-part (radio) production of Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The first episode will be available here until the 2nd one airs next Wednesday, and so on.

This morning Bush spoke to the Lancaster (PA) Chamber of Commerce and Industry. And answered some questions.

He explained his job: “My job is a decision-making job. And as a result, I make a lot of decisions.”

He explained economics: “But I just want to make sure you understand what I know, and that is prosperity occurs because people work hard and dream dreams, and work to fulfill those dreams.” Of course if they’re working hard and dreaming dreams at the same time, it would be good if they weren’t forklift operators. Also, when Bush talks about people having dreams, those dreams are always money-based, aren’t they?

A VERY FISCAL DOUBLE IN OTHER WORDS: “The job of the government is to create fiscal policy such that people feel inspired or confident in risking capital. In other words, the job of government is to create an environment that encourages entrepreneurship. One of the issues that we’re going to be facing in Washington, D.C. is how to spend your money. In other words, what do we do with the good money that we’ve -- the good money we’ve collected?” As opposed to bad money, where Benjamin Franklin has a goatee.

IN OTHER WORDS: “I want to tell you a startling statistic, that based on their own states’ projections -- in other words, this isn’t a federal projection, it’s the states saying this is what’s happening...”

CONDESCENDING TWIT: “Poor children in America are covered by what’s called Medicaid.”

That factoid is intended to justify his veto of the S-CHIP bill, of which he says: “here’s the thing, just so you know, this program expands coverage, federal coverage up to families earning $83,000 a year. That doesn’t sound poor to me. The intent of the program was to focus on poor children, not adults or families earning up to $83,000 a year.”

He used the words “intent” or “initial intent” a lot, as in: “I believe in helping poor people -- which was the intent of S-CHIP, now being expanded beyond its initial intent.” He sounds like one of his judges invoking the original intent of the founding fathers, except in this case the founding father of S-CHIP was, um, Ted Kennedy.

Later on, he talked about No Child Left Behind and the importance of education, but first... “I got a lot of Ph.D.-types and smart people around me who come into the Oval Office and say, Mr. President, here’s what’s on my mind. And I listen carefully to their advice. But having gathered the device [sic], I decide, you know, I say, this is what we’re going to do. And it’s ‘yes, sir, Mr. President.’ ... I always tell Condi Rice, I want to remind you, Madam Secretary, who has the Ph.D. and who was the C student. (Laughter.) And I want to remind you who the advisor is and who the President is. (Laughter.)” And you know, I’ll bet Condi pretends to laugh each and every time he says that, and grits her teeth and dies a little bit inside, each and every time.

You know, the thought of Condi pretending to laugh and gritting her teeth and dying a little bit inside brightens my whole day. Does that make me a bad person?

CONDESCENDING TWIT II: “This war is really hard for the American people to understand because the enemy uses asymmetrical warfare.”

A VERY AGRICULTURAL IN OTHER WORDS: “I believe it’s in the interest of local farmers to have markets available to them. In other words, a core principle of any good farm policy is for the administration to work to open up markets.”

A VERY AGRICULTURAL DOUBLE IN OTHER WORDS: “I believe very strongly that programs that encourage overproduction are programs that need to be seriously evaluated. In other words, I’d rather you selling into existing markets than producing where there be no market. In other words, it’s a combination -- look, I’m a safety-net person for farmers.”

A VERY ENVIRONMENTAL AND VERY CONFUSED IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words -- and so what I’m beginning to tell you is -- what I am -- not beginning, what I am telling you is that we have a comprehensive strategy to deal with energy security and environmental quality at the same time.”

IN FRONT OF THE WHAT NOW? “I gave a speech the other day in front of the major economies of the world.”

NO YOU DON’T GOT TO: “If you’re an environmentalist and concerned about greenhouse gases, you got to be for nuclear power.”

MORE INSIGHT INTO THE BUSHIAN MANAGEMENT STYLE (HINT: YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW THE NAMES OF ANY OF YOUR SUBORDINATES): “And so, in the meantime, however, this border security initiative is still going on down there on the border. I’m constantly in touch with the person in charge. I said, here’s what you said you’re going to do; are you’re doing it? That’s one of the jobs of the President, is to hold people to account. I’m interested in results. I said, you’re going to come in and check in with me on a regular basis to show me what’s happening. And it’s amazing what happens -- I’m sure you do this in your businesses -- you say, you show up and give me an accounting of what’s taken place.”

ASKED ABOUT THE PROSPECTS FOR AN ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN DEAL: “So one of the interesting breakthroughs has been that the Israelis have come to believe, and rightly so, that it’s in their long-term interest that we work toward a Palestinian democracy. Otherwise, the demographics will overwhelm the Israeli democracy.” Maybe the Palestinians shouldn’t be taking advice about democracy from someone who thinks it can be “overwhelmed” by demographics.

“And so one of the things Condi and I are working on is to see if we can’t get the two parties to agree on what a state would look like so that the average Palestinian says, wait a minute, I’m sick and tired of this violence; I’m not going to support those who espouse radicalism and violence in order to achieve an objective, because here’s a different vision.” You know, I’m pretty sure there will never come a time when the average, or indeed when any, Palestinian actually says, “Wait a minute, I’m sick and tired of this violence; I’m not going to support those who espouse radicalism and violence in order to achieve an objective, because here’s a different vision.”

WHOSE BORDER?: “Iran is using Hezbollah in Lebanon, and is worried about democracy in the Middle East; can’t stand the thought of a democratic government on our border; is creating issues of peace.”

SO TRUE: “It’s hard to do the hard things now.”

I was a little surprised when the “childrens is learning” line got so much play, when he commits similar grammatical grotesqueries every single day hour minute. Presumably it was because it came during remarks about education. Anyhoo: “I believe strongly that Pell Grants is one good way of helping families afford higher education.”

But, just as he doesn’t think families earning $83,000 could have difficulties affording health insurance for their children, neither does he think finding the $83,000 or whatever it costs these days for a college education is that big a deal: “My view is this, that if you work hard and you want to go to college, you can find all the help you want. Now, some people don’t like repaying loans, but that’s part of life. If we can borrow some of your money -- if somebody’s going to borrow some of your money, they ought to repay your money.”

A VERY EDUMACATIONAL IN OTHER WORDS: “And so therefore we said, you design the tests. In other words, I said, you design the tests, not the federal government.”

Asked about the twins: “And that was -- I really wrestled with the decision to run for President because, of all the candidates, I understand what it means to be a son or daughter of a President.” Um, Jenna and Not-Jenna were just entering college; you were in your 40s when your father became president. Just saying.

George played a game of let’s humiliate the nice lady from the food bank trying to ask why you killed the supplemental commodity food program (which you can’t even remember):
CHIMPY: Well, you raised your hand. (Laughter.) You didn’t mean it? You want -- you want a little chance to collect the thoughts, you know? I mean we’re talking national TV here, you know? (Laughter and applause.)

Q: I actually wrote it down so I wouldn’t get flustered.

CHIMPY: Yes -- it didn’t work. (Laughter.) It’s just the President.

How did this woman get in?

Sorry, I can’t resist (and I did try, sort of): ...and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

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