Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pansy-gate update

Well, Hillary hasn’t rejected and denounced Gov. Easley for the “pansy” remark yet, but the Human Rights Campaign has made this statement: “We certainly wish the governor would have chosen his words better and have expressed our disappointment to his staff.” I’ll bet they did, I’ll bet they did.

I firmly believe that if you have low expectations, you’ll achieve them

The US has moved a second aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, into the Persian Gulf. Secretary of War Robert Gates says the move “could be seen... as a reminder.” Oh good.

Today Bush met at the White House with the national teacher of the year, Mike Geisen of Prineville, Oregon, and the state teachers of the year. Mr. Geisen provides us that great rarity, a picture in which George Bush is not the goofiest-looking individual.

CERTAINLY NOT HIS ENGLISH TEACHER: “You know, I like to tell people that -- you know, one of the interesting questions you get in my line of work is ‘Can you name a teacher who had influenced you?’ I said, ‘Yes, my wife.’” Dude, at an event for teachers, you’re really not supposed to imply that none of your teachers ever influenced you. Although I’m sure all his teachers went into hiding long ago out of sheer shame.

SPECIAL: “And really the best teachers have a special intuition -- and I suspect a little potential -- the ability to see potential and the ability to have the patience necessary to watch it grow.”

STILL CALLS: “It basically -- if you really think about the [No Child Left Behind] Act, it, one, refuses to, what I used to call -- still call -- refuses to accept the soft bigotry of low expectations. I firmly believe....” STRAIGHT LINE ALERT! STRAIGHT LINE ALERT! “...that if you have low expectations, you’ll achieve them.”

WHAT A TEACHER OUGHT TO WELCOME: “I also believe that if you’re a teacher that you ought to welcome a law that says we trust you in your ability to set high expectations.”

HE JUST COULDN’T REFRAIN FROM BRINGING RELIGION INTO THE CLASSROOM, COULD HE? “And I ask God’s blessings on your work and the work of teachers all across America.”


He turned on, he tuned in, and he has finally dropped out: Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who invented LSD, and experienced the first “bad trip,” in 1943, has died at the age of 102. That’s 873 in freak-out years.

On McNeil-Lehrer, I saw the governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley, introduce Hillary Clinton, saying “this lady...” (I think he almost said “this little lady”) “...right here makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy.” But did she reject and denounce Easley for using an epithet offensive to members of the Pansy-American community? She did not. Will anyone in the media ask her about his Archie Bunkerism? They will not.

(I am only able to grab that moral high ground so beloved of bloggers because I decided yesterday not to make a joke about Obama and Rev. Wright only fighting because the make-up sex is so good.)

Before I get myself into any more trouble: baby rhino blogging! Yay!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Who are the true lesbians?

Two Lesbians (residents of the island of Lesbos) are suing a Greek gay and lesbian (women who do naughty things with other women) group to make them stop using the word lesbian. We are the true Lesbians, they say. Of course lesbian Lesbians are the lesbianist Lesbians of them all.

Completing acts of love and compassion

In the afternoon, Bush met with various volunteers for National Volunteer Week.

DUDE, THEY’RE IN WITNESS PROTECTION: “Those of you today who perform acts of kindness do so out of love, and you do so out of a desire not to be recognized -- but anyway, you’re going to be recognized.”

“The spirit of charity that is celebrated here has been a part of our character, our nation’s character, ever since before we were an independent nation. In 1736, for example, Benjamin Franklin organized the citizens of Philadelphia to form a volunteer fire company. Isn’t that interesting?” A volunteer fire company is not a charity.

WHAT YOU CAN UNDERSTAND: “You can understand how volunteering can transform the souls, both who give and those they help.”

WELL, THAT JUST SOUNDS KINKY: “I believe it is in government’s interest to empower those neighborhood healers and helpers, social entrepreneurs, to be able to complete their acts of love and compassion.” REALLY KINKY.

EVIDENTLY GOVERNMENT ISN’T LOVE (WHAT, NOT EVEN THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE?): “Government is love -- government is justice and law, it’s not love.”

OBAMA REFERENCE? CANNIBAL REFERENCE? YOU BE THE JUDGE: “Laura and I met with Peace Corps volunteers in Ghana recently, and they are some kind of fired up.”

Bush press conference: We’re not going to become more beholden on your oil

What I dislike about courts lately is their lack of specificity. Last week a NY judge ruled that it was not unreasonable for cops to shoot Sean Bell 50 times, but he did not say precisely how many times they would have to have shot him to cross that threshold (one of the cops stopped to reload, for fuck’s sake). Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that Indiana’s voter i.d. requirements were not unduly burdensome, without saying just how large a fee could be required for an i.d., how much time it could take to, or how far one might have to travel (in a state many of whose counties have no public transportation whatsoever) to acquire one, before it would actually be unduly burdensome.

This morning, Bush held a press conference. He opened with the usual petulant statement about how he’d love to do all sorts of great things for the American people (especially drilling for oil in Alaska, building new refineries and nuclear power plants), but Congress is “blocking” them. He must have used the words blocked/blocking 83 times. He said, “I believe that they’re letting the American people down, is what I believe.”

Ah’m gonna hold mah breath until ah get mah nookyooler power plants.

He said, “Americans are concerned about making their mortgage payments and keeping their homes. And I don’t blame them.” That’s darned generous of you, George.

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, we’re helping.”

I WON’T SAY THE WORD “RECESSION” AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME, YOU CAN’T MAKE ME, YOU CAN’T MAKE ME,: “You know, the words on how to define the economy don’t reflect the anxiety the American people feel.” Unless you define it with the words “AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!”

WHAT THE AVERAGE PERSON DOESN’T CARE ABOUT: “The average person doesn’t really care what we call it; the average person wants to know whether or not we know that they’re paying higher gasoline prices and they’re worried about staying in their homes.” He added that he does, in fact, know that they’re paying higher gasoline prices are worried about staying in their homes, so I guess that’s the important thing, as far as the average person is concerned. Problem sorted.

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, scarcity is of concern to us.”

A FANCY WORD FOR SAYING: “And matter of fact, the solution to the issue of corn-fed ethanol is cellulosic ethanol, which is a fancy word for saying we’re going to make ethanol out of switchgrasses or wood chips.” Corn-fed ethanol?

WHAT GEORGE LIKES: “I like a friendly guy in the Rose Garden.”

WHAT GEORGE IS PLEASED WITH: “I’m pleased with the Afghan army that when they’re in the fight they’re good.”

WHAT WE ARE IN: “We are in a global struggle against thugs and killers.”

WHAT THESE AREN’T: “These aren’t isolated law enforcement moments.”

ABUNDANTLY CLEAR: On his refusal until this week to say anything about the Syrian whatever-it-was the Israelis bombed last September: “We also wanted to advance certain policy objectives through the disclosures. And one would be to the North Koreans to make it abundantly clear that, ‘We may know more about you than you think’”.

NO FUCKING KIDDING: “And so I’m perplexed, is the best way to describe it”.

MORE BEHOLDEN ON YOUR OIL: “And so part of this is to set the psychology right that says to the world, ‘We’re not going to become more beholden on your oil, we’re going to open up and be aggressive and have an aggressive energy policy.’”

In the Middle East, he wants a “two-party state solution.” Would not say whether or not Jimmy Carter had been ordered not to talk with Hamas. You might think an argument like that between a former president and his secretary of state would be something he might have looked into, but then you might also have thought that even if he didn’t support Carter’s mission, he would have said something when Israel refused to provide security.

WHAT YOU’VE GOT TO ASK: “But you’ve got to ask, why is Hamas lobbing rockets?” Fortunately, he knows the answer: “And one reason why is because they’re trying to destabilize and create chaos and confusion.”

THE COLOMBIA: “And now the speaker pulled, you know, a unique maneuver to stop the Colombia from moving forward.”

Update: Reuters has put together this lovely combination picture:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Adjective rationing is now in force

This morning Bush met with Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom. And it was good: “We’ve had a good discussion about a variety of issues. ... want to achieve social justice through good health policy, good education policy, good judicial policy. The United States is pleased to help this government as best as we possibly can help the average citizen get a good education and have good health care.” CAFTA has increased trade. “And that’s good.” “And so we’ve had a good discussion”. For example: “And by the way, we talked about blueberries”.

But is it art?

Headline of the day: “Artists Catch Head Lice for Show.” The artists are Germans working in Israel (no mention what nationality the lice are), so naturally, “artists also stressed the show was not meant to be a reference to the Holocaust.” Rather, “He and his fellow artists said the exhibition offered the chance to explore the concept of the parasite and to ask whether the word could be ‘reclaimed’ in Israel.”

Wherein is revealed something that irritates me about George Bush

An assassination attempt was made on Harmid Karzai yesterday. They’re blaming the Taliban, but I think it was people pissed off at his support for banning imported soap operas.

California has taken another step towards creepy police statehood, with an expansion of the use of DNA. From 2009, DNA will be collected – and kept forever – from anyone who is arrested, even if they are not convicted, and it will be used to identify not only actual criminals but people who share some genetic markers with criminals (i.e., relatives).

You know what pisses me off about Bush, maybe more than anything else? Seven years of incompetence and failed policies haven’t wiped that smug smirk off his face. The man will go to his grave without ever grasping how godawful a job he’s done, with his monumental self-regard undented.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

June 2008 California proposition recommendations

In the second of our three elections this year (June 3rd), we are faced with just two propositions, and they are evil twins.

Prop. 98. I’m not sure why the proponents of this measure have been allowed to present it as being primarily about eminent domain, since it seems to be more of a Trojan Horse plan to eliminate rent control and local requirements that developers provide low-cost housing, and for this reason alone 98 should be opposed. In fact, even people who oppose rent control should oppose this initiative, which infringes on the rights of communities to make these decisions for themselves.

98’s main eminent domain provision bans the seizure of property for non-governmental purposes, which is simply not a problem in California: there are legal safeguards in place now. My favorite bit in the pro-98 argument is that it would stop the seizure of homes, family farms... and places of worship. Has there been a wave of churches being compulsorily purchased by local governments, demolished, and turned into strip clubs by the cronies of city councilmembers, and I just haven’t heard about it?

I should point out that the anti-98 argument talks about “hidden provisions” that would gut environmental laws, but they must be quite well hidden: I read the fine print and couldn’t find them. However, some of 98’s wording seems awfully vague, and would no doubt keep lawyers busy for years to come. (Update: I’m informed that the provision banning laws which “transfer an economic benefit to one or more private persons at the expense of the private owner” are intended to allow judges to overturn environmental and land-use laws, on the theory that if I’m not allowed to build a casino, the economic benefit of not living next to a casino is transferred to my next-door neighbor. Sneaky.)

The pro side’s website has a rather wonderfully over-the-top radio ad in which one child explains to her brother that the city is throwing them out of their house to build a mall. “You mean we’re never gonna see our friends again?”

So vote No. Vote to throw those kids out of their house, because they seem kind of annoying and their friends probably don’t really like them anyway.

Prop. 99. Another eminent domain initiative, in a battle to the death. This one is much narrower, with no rent-control ban, and the only form of property it protects from being seized for private purposes through eminent domain is single-family houses – the wrecking ball can still come for those churches, I guess. This part of the measure seems harmless.

99 is also a Trojan Horse. The problem of family housing being seized and handed over to private developers is close to non-existent, and it is not the real reason Prop. 99 was put on the ballot. Instead, the important provision is the one that says that if both 98 and 99 passes and 99 has more votes, no part of 98 (i.e., the rent control ban) becomes law. Which is enough reason to vote Yes.

Neither of these initiatives should have been allowed onto the ballot. Initiatives are not supposed to include multiple issues unrelated to each other, which 98 does. And while initiatives can be written to cancel out provisions in another initiative on the same subject, 99 purports to be able to cancel out provisions in 98 on subjects (rent control, low-cost housing) which 99 does not address, which may not stand up in court.

Comments welcome.

(Update: the voters of California perspicaciously followed my advice. How often does that happen? 98 got only 39.1%, 99 got 62.4%)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

There is no cure for it

An aristocrat who is the Tory party’s largest donor (and a tax exile, natch), was recently discovered to have flown prostitutes of both sexes (one of them described as a trilingual bisexual) to Monaco for sex parties. He has been admitted to a clinic for the treatment of sex addiction. His name: Lord Laidlaw. Somewhere, Humph is smiling. Lord Laidlaw issued a statement that included this sentence: “There is no cure for it, and self-help is rarely successful.”

Hillary and Jeanette

Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton was campaigning in Montana and made an ill-informed mention of Jeanette Rankin, who Montana elected as the first woman member of Congress in 1916. Hillary said it just goes to show that men really will vote for a woman, since women didn’t have the vote in 1916. Except that women had in fact won the vote in Montana in a referendum (of male voters, natch) two years before. This is not just a minor gaffe about Montanan history but a gap in Clinton’s knowledge which illuminates a few things about her.

First, Clinton is a female senator, and an aspirant to be the first female president, who evidently in all these years has never been curious enough about the first woman in Congress to learn more than a tiny bit about her. Hillary doesn’t really consider herself part of a feminist history, doesn’t recognize that she stands on the shoulders of those who came before. She thinks she got where she is entirely by her own efforts.

Clinton evidently thinks, wrongly, that women in the US received the vote in one fell swoop with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. In the same way as she remarked that while the civil rights movement may have organized and agitated, the real victories for African-Americans only came when Lyndon Johnson decided to push for them, so the decades of hard struggle by women to achieve political rights, including state-by-state (and territory by territory) suffrage campaigns like the one that Rankin helped lead to victory in Montana but many more which did not succeed, are completely disregarded and unacknowledged by Hillary, if she even knows about them. She does not understand how much organized, grass-roots effort over many many years it really takes to effect any sort of change in this hide-bound country; the only lesson she really learned from the failure of her health-care plan in the 1990s was that she, Hillary Clinton, did not have enough power. Her comments last week (this week?) denigrating party activists suggest that, like Bush, who remarked that “We had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 elections,” she too has an impoverished view of the day-to-day role of the citizenry in democratic governance. Not that Obama is much better in this regard: when he leads chants of YES WE CAN, he does not mean to empower his supporters to do anything beyond getting him into the White House and then dispersing to their respective homes to quietly await the flow of manna and all things good from his capable hands.

Considering that Rankin is also known for her principled pacifism, having cast one of the few votes against American entry into World War I – which was also her first vote in Congress, and therefore the first vote cast by a woman in Congress – and the only vote against war with Japan in 1941 (she only served two terms in Congress: she was not re-elected in 1918, though mostly for reasons other than her position on the war, and not elected again until 1940; crappy timing, really), had Hillary known more about her, she might never have brought up her name in the first place.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The last tube to Mornington Crescent

Sad news that will probably be meaningless to most of my American readers: Humphrey Lyttelton has died. Goodbye, Humph.

A great issue to advance is saving people’s lives

Today Bush visited the Northwest Boys and Girls Club in Hartford for Malaria Awareness Day. “I appreciate being here at the Boys and Girls Club here in Hartford. I really enjoyed being with the boys and girls of the Boys and Girls Club.”

INTERESTING: “Isn’t it interesting that -- there’s a call to love your neighbor like you’d like to be loved yourself, and that’s what you’re doing.”

IN HIS JUDGMENT: “And in my judgment, a great issue to advance is saving people’s lives.”

Laura couldn’t be there. “She’s getting ready to be the mother of the bride -- which I guess that means I’m getting ready to be the father of the bride.” At least, that’s what she tells him.

IN OTHER AWARE WORDS: “On this day, we remember those who died from malaria. In other words, an awareness day is one in which you recognize the consequences, in this case, of this disease.”

SOME PEOPLE ARE SELFISH PRICKS: “Some people say, well, what about our own people? And my answer is, we’re plenty rich to help our own and to help others.”

SOME PEOPLE ASK STUPID QUESTIONS: “Some people say, why call some -- an award a Dragonfly Award?” (Because dragonflies eat mosquitos, Some People.)

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, we’re focusing our attempt with a clear goal.”

Speaking of disease-bearing, blood-sucking insects, Bush went on to a fundraiser at the home of Henry Kissinger. CAPTION CONTEST:


Thursday, April 24, 2008

My whole theory of life was we ought to be asking about results, not necessarily process

This morning, Bush held a White House Summit on Inner-City Children and Faith-Based Schools (or perhaps vice versa).

IN OTHER WORDS: “Over the past seven years we have worked to strengthen the public school system. In other words, we haven’t given up on public schools”. To do that, you’d have had to give a shit about them in the first place.

IN OTHER WORDS: “As a result of accountability measures, I can now say that 8th graders set a record high for math scores. In other words, in order to be able to say that, you have to measure in the first place.”

IMAGINE! “Can you imagine what it would -- what it’s like to be an immigrant coming to America, can’t hardly speak the language, and find great solace in two institutions -- one church and two schools?”

GEORGE’S WHOLE THEORY OF LIFE: “My whole theory of life was we ought to be asking about results, not necessarily process.” By “process,” he means that whole “separation of church and state” processy thing. “[I]t’s in the country’s interest to get beyond the debate of public/private, to recognize this is a critical national asset that provides a critical part of our nation’s fabric in making sure we’re a hopeful place.” He called for the 30+ states whose constitutions ban taxpayer support for religious schools to remove those provisions.

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, one way to address the closings of schools is to empower parents to be able to send their children to those schools before they close.”

THE NUN-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: “Faith-based schools can continue to serve inner-city children requires a -- to see that that happens requires a commitment from the business community. It’s in corporate America’s interest that our children get a good education”.

BECAUSE GEORGE W. BUSH IS AAAAAAALLL ABOUT THE ACCOUNTABILITY: “You’ve got to be a little worried in our society when somebody says, I don’t think I want to measure. That’s like saying, I don’t want to be held to account.”

WHAT I’D CONSIDER YOURSELF: “I call it educational entrepreneurship -- so I’d consider yourself entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs.”

WHAT HOPEFULLY OUT OF THIS MEETING: “Here are some ways -- I mean, these are levels of society that ought to all be involved, and hopefully out of this meeting, that there’s concrete action.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

All we want to do is be treated fairly

Today Bush talked to some small business owners about Small Business Week.

THEY ARE NOT REAL PEOPLE, THEY’RE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD. GET HELP ALREADY: “The truth of the matter is, every day ought to be Small Business Day in America, because -- (applause.) People say, why?”

WILLING TO DREAM HARD: “But the thing that struck me the most, besides the fact that people are willing to dream and work hard”.

IN OTHER WORDS: “First, you might suggest to members of Congress that they let you keep your money -- in other words, to keep taxes low.”

WHAT GEORGE LIKES TO SAY: “This is obviously a difficult time for the economy, and I like to say it’s a rough patch.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “We did take action. In other words, rather than just analyzing the situation, we saw this coming and moved swiftly with members of Congress from both parties, believe it or not -- actually got something done in a constructive way without feeling like they had to call each other names.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, it’s a temporary stimulus package aimed at dealing with the rough patch that we’ve entered into, but it’s got to be robust enough to matter.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “One of my concerns about tax policy is that it creates uncertainty. In other words, when you’re trying to figure out a five-year projection about your companies, you’ve got to be certain that the tax load that you now bear isn’t going to increase.”

WHAT A RESTAURANT GUY IN TEXAS OUGHT BE ABLE TO DO: “I strongly believe that Congress should allow small businesses to pool risk across jurisdictional boundaries -- those are long words -- like if you’re a restaurant guy in Texas, you ought be able to put your employees in the same risk pool as a restaurant person in Maryland.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “I also know it’s in our interest to say to the world, treat us the way we treat you. In other words, all we want to do is be treated fairly.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, the product that they -- selling is more expensive because of the tariffs.”

WHAT GEORGE LOVES: “I love it when people can say, I have a idea, and I am going to apply all my talent and all my effort to see the idea come to fruition.”

Also today, for your captioning pleasure, Bush met with Dr. Michael DeBakey (who is 99 years old).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

America trusts in the abiding power of prayer

I knew reading Bush’s proclamation of a national day of prayer (May Day, of all days) would just irritate me. He insists on his right and ability to describe and/or prescribe our national religion: “America trusts in the abiding power of prayer and asks for the wisdom to discern God’s will in times of joy and of trial.” Really, is that what “America” trusts? And while he makes a nod to “Americans of many different faiths” (who believe that “God” listens to prayers), the “theme” of the national day of prayer is taken from Psalm 28:7, suggesting that not all of those many different faiths really, you know, count.

Speaking of trusting in the power of prayer, Afghanistan has banned soap operas as immoral.

Does it make sense for Mexico, Canada and the United States to meet?

Dick Cheney tells a joke: “one of your New York senators has recently taken to calling me ‘Darth Vader.’ (Laughter.) I didn’t take that personally. (Laughter.) I’ve been asking -- asked my wife Lynne if the nickname didn’t bother her, and she said, no. She said, ‘It humanizes you.’”

At the end of their little summit, Bush, Harper and Calderon (who at one point Bush referred to as “she”), held a press conference.

PEOPLE? WHAT PEOPLE? “One of the things -- people ask, well, does it make sense for Mexico, Canada and the United States to meet? Absolutely, it makes sense. We’re neighbors.”

AWWW. “So I’m not surprised we’ve had good meetings -- plus we like each other.”

MOVING PRODUCT WITHOUT A BUNCH OF GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS: “We’re working to make sure we reduce regulations and to add -- to make sure that our small businesses and farmers and producers are able to move product in a way without a bunch of government regulations in between.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, you’ve got different regulations in different countries that make it difficult to compete globally and cause our products to be more expensive than they should be.”

REALLY, WHAT PEOPLE? THEY’RE JUST VOICES IN YOUR CHIMP-LIKE HEAD, AREN’T THEY? “People say, well, are you really committed to global -- to reducing global warming? Absolutely.”

A PROCESS THAT DO A VARIETY OF THINGS ALL AIMING: “And we put a process in place that do a variety of things, all aiming to make sure that our neighbors and our neighborhood isn’t scourged by these thugs who use guns out of the United States to hold their people hostage, hold the country hostage.”

IN OTHER WORDS FROM THE MBA PRESIDENT: “In other words, the more choices consumers have, the more options they have, the less likely it is there will be price increases, and it’s better for your consumers.”

HIS BIGGEST CONCERN: “my biggest concern is to turn our back on our friends in Colombia.”

DON’T TAX THE SO-CALLED RICH! “And all the more reason for the United States Congress to keep the tax relief I passed permanent. We got people out there campaigning, ‘well, we’re just going to tax the rich.’ You can’t raise enough money to meet their spending appetites by taxing the so-called rich.”

SO THAT’S OKAY THEN: “First of all, I -- we’re not in a recession. We’re in a slowdown.”

Then they planted a tree for Earth Day.

“Why’m ah diggin’ when we got us a Messcin right here?”

Compare and Contrast

The Reuters caption to the picture below says “U.S. trip softens pope’s image, raises expectations.” How do you soften the pope’s image? Contrast.

Political calculus

After Hillary released another scare-tactic ad yesterday, Obama put out his own ad, which asks the question, “Who in times of challenge will unite us, not use fear and calculation to divide us?”

With words like “calculation” and “divide,” Obama is clearly playing on Americans’ fear of math in general and long division in particular. Have you no shame, sir, have you no shame?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dance, Chimpy, dance!

Today Bush attended a NAFTA summit in New Orleans. First he met with Mexican President Calderon.

IN OTHER WORDS: “One, you inherited the high demand for drugs in the United States. In other words, people are using drugs, and therefore people are supplying drugs, and it’s caused difficult security problems in your country, and you’ve responded aggressively.”

Speaking of how people are using drugs, later in the day, Bush did one of his little dances again.

I don’t have video yet, but here’s a place-holder.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


From an AP story on a surprise visit by Condi Rice to Iraq:

Quote 1:
“I know he’s sitting in Iran,” Rice said dismissively, when asked about al-Sadr’s latest threat to lift a self-imposed cease-fire with government and U.S. forces. “I guess it’s all-out war for anybody but him,” Rice said. “I guess that’s the message; his followers can go to their deaths and he’s in Iran.”
Quote 2:
Rice’s brief heavily guarded visit was not announced in advance in keeping with security precautions adopted by all top U.S. officials

Secretary of State Rice bravely risks mustache burn from Iraqi President Talabani

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bush, Lee and “some good American beef,” if you know what I mean

Headline of the day (BBC), and a second award for Mad Scientists of the Day: “Flies Get ‘Mind-control Sex Swap.’”

New South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak is meeting with Bush at Camp David this weekend.

Once again, he engages in diplomatic artery-clogging: “As a matter of fact, we had some good American beef last night for dinner.”

INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE: “And then finally we talked about our mutual desire to have a rational, practical approach to international climate, the international climate issue, global warming. How can you possibly have an international agreement that’s effective unless countries like China and India are not [sic] full participants.” How indeed?

SHORTEST “IN OTHER WORDS” EVER: “Look, we’re going to make a judgment as to whether North Korea has met its obligations to account for its nuclear program and activities, as well as meet its obligations to disable its reactor. In other words, we’ll see.”

THE AMAZING, DEATH-DEFYING, TRIPLE “WHETHER OR NOT”: “And so we’ll wait and see what he says, and then we’ll make a decision about our obligations, depending upon whether or not we’re convinced that there is a solid and full declaration, and whether or not there’s a way to verify whether or not he’s going to do what he says he’s going to do.”

As always, you can offer captions for any of the photos, but do try to refrain from Asian driver jokes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Focused on helping the hungry and diseased in strange parts of the world

The McCain McCampaign’s latest email features a quote from a Hamas official praising Obama. McCain’s deputy campaign manager Christian Ferry (!) writes, “We need change in America, but not the kind of change that wins kind words from Hamas, surrenders in Iraq and will hold unconditional talks with Iranian President Ahmadinejad.”

Speaking of Christian ferries, Bush spoke this morning to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, with the pope in attendance, because the pope never misses free waffles. “And I want to thank Bishop Finn, members of the clergy. Thank you for serving our country. Thank you for being men of faith.” Er, you’re welcome?

Speaking of men of faith, Chief Justice John Roberts was there, just two days after issuing the decision upholding lethal injection. Possibly the pope had some words for him (and the other four Catholic justices who voted with him). Or possibly not.

Bush praised Pope Benny yet again: “He understands that every person has value, or to use his words, ‘each of us is willed, each of us is loved, [and] each of us is necessary.’” Of course the pope probably said that before meeting Bush.

THOSE “PEOPLE” TALK TO GEORGE AGAIN: “Oftentimes people ask me, why is it that you’re so focused on helping the hungry and diseased in strange parts of the world?”

WONDERS GEORGE HAS SEEN: “During these -- as President I’ve seen some of the great wonders of compassion as a result of our Catholic citizens.” “I’ve seen these wonders of Catholic love on the Gulf Coast.” “I’ve seen wonders on the Sea of Galilee”. “I’ve seen these wonders in Africa”. Also Wonder Bread. And Wonderbras, I hasten to add before someone puts it in comments.

Later in the day he spoke at America’s Small Business Summit (is it the summit or the business that is small? Who knows?)

Just as he thanked the Catholic clergy for being men of faith, so he thanked the small business summiteers “for being dreamers and doers.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “And so, thanks to the stimulus package, she told me she’s going to purchase much of that equipment this year, instead of spacing it out over time. In other words, the incentives have encouraged Darlene to make a purchase this year.”

WHAT DARLENE HAD, TWICE: “She also had a pretty good achievement at -- and she received another good achievement, I understand.”

ONE THING CONGRESS HAS GOT TO UNDERSTAND / WHAT SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS DON’T NEED: “And one way that -- I mean, one thing Congress has got to understand is that there is -- what small business owners don’t need is uncertainty.”

HE’S CONFIDENT IN OUR FORGETFULNESS: “I’m also confident a lot of people in America may have forgotten what it was like before the tax relief.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, there’s an opportunity for Congress to say, let’s continue to have this kind of economic vitality as a result of exports permeate throughout our economy.” Those are other words, all right.

WHAT CONGRESS IS SIGNALING TO A WATCHING HEMISPHERE: On the failure to vote on the Colombian free-trade treaty: “Congress is signaling to a watching hemisphere -- people in the hemisphere, our own neighborhood, are watching to see how the United States Congress reacts to our friends.”

WHAT WE WANT PEOPLE OWNING: “We want people owning their home -- we want people owning a businesses [sic]”.

WHAT ALL HAPPENS LIKE AT A KITCHEN TABLE: “I love meeting with our entrepreneurs and I love hearing the stories about how businesses get started. And a lot of times, believe it or not, there is -- as I’m sure you know, that they all happen like at a kitchen table. And sure enough, out of that simple idea and hard work -- because I understand as well as anybody how hard it is to build a small business...” having destroyed several of them “...and it’s not -- it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and a lot of focus and patient spouses, and sometimes spouses actually watching the money to make sure the other spouse doesn’t blow it.” Or snort it, in your case.

WHAT THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO NEVER DO: “And our -- the role of government is to never stifle that spirit, is to encourage the spirit, reward the spirit, and always pay -- and always remind our citizens that we are a vibrant and prosperous and hopeful nation, because we are a land blessed with vibrant and hopeful people.”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bush, Brown and a “nice hamburger”

Today Bush met with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for what one of them – I’ll let you guess which one – described as “a fabulous conversation.”

How fabulous? “We spent time talking about the terrorists and extremists.”

HE WANTS TO APPRECIATE: “I want to appreciate the sacrifice of the British troops, their families and the British people.”

FIRED UNDER COURAGE: “Most thankful for the brilliance of the British helicopter crews that fired under courage and helped evacuate wounded Iraqi soldiers.”

THE MEASURE OF SUCCESS IS SUCCESS: “And so, so long as I’m the President, my measure of success is victory and success.”

IRONY ALERT! IRONY ALERT! HEAVY IRONY AHEAD! “We talked about Zimbabwe. And I appreciate Gordon Brown’s strong position on that issue. And I appreciate the fact that he went to the United Nations and made it abundantly clear that which I feel, as well, which is, you can’t have elections unless you’re willing to put the results out. What kind of election is it if you not let the will of the people be known?” Floridian?

Asked if the relationship between his ass and Brown’s lips wasn’t as close as the relationship between his ass and Tony Blair’s lips, Bush said, “We got a great relationship. ... Look, if there wasn’t a personal relationship I wouldn’t be inviting the man to a nice hamburger.” A “nice hamburger”? Metaphor? Euphemism? You be the judge.

Baze v. Rees: preserving the “dignity” of executions

The Supreme Court has ensured a steep rise in the number of executions by ruling yesterday in Baze v. Rees that lethal injection, as practiced in Kentucky, isn’t unconstitutional just because it causes pain (as well as, you know, death). Roberts wrote that since any method of execution probably involves pain, and since the death penalty is constitutional, inflicting pain must be constitutional. He would not even say that “severe pain” is unconstitutional, unless a “readily implemented” alternative existed that greatly reduces that pain. In other words,

1) Roberts and the Court won’t let a little thing like severe pain get in the way of the machinery of death. It’s a matter of priorities, people.

2) Indeed, as the phrase “readily implemented” shows, if it’s a choice between inflicting severe pain on a prisoner and putting the state to some inconvenience, they’ll go with the former. Close enough for government work, as they say in the execution biz.

3) Prisoners objecting to a particular method of execution will be put in the grotesque position of being required to propose a method for the state to put them to death that they’d like better.

Roberts wrote that the risk of a screw-up in the administration of the drugs which results in severe pain or suffocation is not “objectively intolerable,” which is surely an oxymoron, but anyway, Roberts finds, this infliction of pain is in fact “widely tolerated,” so that’s okay then.

Speaking of tolerating pain, Clarence Thomas (joined by Scalia) adds that inflicting pain only violates the 8th Amendment if it is done just in order to inflict pain, as opposed to being incidental to execution. It’s the intent that matters, not the actual, you know, pain.

The petitioner asked for the paralyzing agent pancuronium bromide to be omitted from the execution procedure, since it serves no purpose beneficial to the prisoner but may disguise signs of pain. Roberts approvingly cited the lower court’s finding that it did serve the purpose of preventing seizures in the unconscious prisoner, “thereby preserving the procedure’s dignity”. Gotta preserve that.

We can always find the work of the Almighty in our state

This morning at the White House Bush met with children who had been awarded the President’s Environmental Youth Awards. They flew in from all over the country...

Bush explained conservation to them: “One way to dedicate ourselves to conservation is to take that which is already in existence and make it better.”

And he made with the God talk, which is especially annoying when he does it in front of children: “I appreciate the fact that you know that we live in a country of unbelievable splendor and beauty, and no matter which state we call home, we can always find the work of the Almighty in our state.” Except Alabama, of course.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Democratic debate: The bitter, bitter debate


One more debate after we were promised we were done with debates. I don’t know about the poor people in Pennsylvania, but I’m sure feeling bitter right about now.

Hillary notes that they are debating in Philadelphia where the founding documents of America were written – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the recipe for cream cheese. But “Neither of us were included in those original documents.” However, John McCain was included in those original documents. By name.

Neither of them will commit to a “Dream Ticket.”

Obama is bitter about having to explain again why he said people are bitter. Although the word he is using now for voters’ feelings is “frustration.”

Hillary defended people clinging to religion and “their traditions, like hunting and guns”.

Speaking of clinging to religion, they then talked interminably about Rev. Wright yet again. Little George Stephanopoulos asked Obama a couple of times if Wright is as patriotic as he is. Hillary said the whole Wright thing “deserves further exploration.” Oh yes, we so needed to have another debate.

Then it’s another re-airing of the Bosnia story. Hillary says she’s embarrassed about, you know, lying, but that it was “a very dangerous area” and the American soldiers in Bosnia “were totally in battle gear.”

Then someone on tape asks Obama why he doesn’t wear a flag pin: “I want to know if you believe in the American flag.” Charlie Gibson adds that not wearing one is a “major liability” for him (according to Clinton and McCain’s advisers). Then Little George asked about some English professor Obama has met who used to be in the Weather Underground. Hillary chimed in with some concern trolling, saying “this is an issue that certainly the Republicans will be raising.” Obama responded that Bill Clinton pardoned a couple of Weather Undergroundlings, so there.

Gibson asks both candidates how they can possibly withdraw from Iraq when Petraeus says they shouldn’t; “Are you essentially saying, ‘I know better than the military commanders here’?” Hillary pretends that the only problem in Iraq is that the Maliki government “will not accept responsibility for its own future” as long as the US is giving it a blank check. Obama reminds Gibson that the president is actually above Col. Combover in the chain of command. He says that the military has had a “bad mission” but has performed that bad mission “brilliantly.”

Would they extend the nuclear umbrella over Israel? Obama: an attack on Israel would be “unacceptable.” Hillary: let’s extend the “umbrella of deterrence” to the entire region! She would “begin diplomatic engagement” with Iran by not talking with its president, ever. “But I would have a diplomatic process that would engage him.”

Stephanopoulous: “Let me turn to the economy. That is the number one issue on Americans’ minds right now.” Which must be why he’s getting to it a full half an hour after the exhaustive discussion of the flag lapel pin issue.

I’m going to be hypocritical here and skip the boring economic stuff myself. They would both raise taxes on the rich, and maybe raise the capital gains tax, despite Charlie Gibson’s earnest but completely fallacious insistence that cutting the capital gains tax always increases revenue from it.

What will you do about high gas prices? Hillary: I’d investigate them.

Gibson: This has been “a fascinating debate.” Could not be more wrong.