Monday, June 30, 2008

We can no longer afford these kinds of divisions

Obama gave a speech on patriotism today, saying “The question of who is or is not a patriot all too often poisons our political debates...” as opposed to poisoning our political debates just the right amount of the time “ ways that divide us rather than bring us together. We can no longer afford these kinds of divisions.” Well, maybe there’ll be a 4th of July sale at Wal-Mart.

McCain, responded to Wesley Clark’s comment that McCain’s record as a dropper of bombs and prisoner of war (or is it dropper of war and prisoner of bombs?) doesn’t qualify him for the presidency, “If that’s the kind of campaign that Senator Obama and his surrogates and supporters want to engage in, I understand that. But it doesn’t reduce the price of a gallon of gas by a penny”. That’s what’s known as a campaign-rhetorical non sequitur. How exactly would anything that Candidate Obama says reduce gas prices or indeed make your teeth whiter, your breath sweeter, your love life more fulfilling, or your neighbor’s dog stop barking all the time while you’re trying to get the new kitten settled in?

By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever linked to a fun BBC Radio program on political clichés by former MP Matthew Parris (2 parts, 14 minutes each).

This morning, Bush signed the supplemental appropriation for his many wars, saying, “Our nation has no greater responsibility than supporting our men and women in uniform -- especially since we’re at war.” He showed this support by spending the afternoon with our children and chipmunks in uniform.

Update: Michael in comments suggests that Bush is going for this look:

The toilet bowl scrubber is not a toy

And other things you find yourself saying to your new (still unnamed) kitten.

Although I’m sure that sentence was also spoken to George Bush by his mother. And quite possibly by Laura as well.

Whatever George does, he somehow makes look difficult, like getting out of an (illegally parked) car,

or choosing a shirt.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Caption contest, old man version

The AP caption is the same for both these pictures: “Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reacts to a protester shouting during his speech to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Washington, Saturday, June 28, 2008.”

Caption contest, kitten version

Meet my new cat. Currently hiding behind the couch.

Don’t take it personally. She’s friendly, really.

Been here four hours now. She’s about three months old. Thing is, the humane society people or someone named her (shudder) “Dot.” After the dot on her back, I guess.

We can do better.

And by we, I mean you.

Because I’m perfectly capable of calling a cat “Cat” for thirteen or so years. Done it before.

So it’s up to you. Give this kitty a name!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Scalia apportions blame

Antonin Scalia on Bush v. Gore: “Richard Nixon, when he lost to Kennedy thought that the election had been stolen in Chicago, which was very likely true with the system at the time... But he did not even think about bringing a court challenge. That was his prerogative. So you know if you don’t like it, don’t blame it on me. I didn’t bring it into the courts. Mr Gore brought it into the courts. So if you don’t like the courts getting involved talk to Mr Gore.”

For your captioning pleasure, some leftover pictures:

Our concerns are for you, not against you

This morning Bush spoke at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, and he did so in two languages: “So he asked, would I come to the prayer breakfast. My answer was, por supuesto.” “As some of you may or may not know, the -- mi niñita lived in Panama for a while”. “We pray that America will strengthen those who serve nuestros hermanos y hermanas in need.” “I’ve known Esperanza for ochos años.” George is just so totally bi-lingual.

He said of the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast: “It’s an important event because it reminds us that no matter what our status in life might be, that we have a duty to respond to a higher power.” Breakfast? It is the most important meal of the day.

If George can speak in two languages, I can get two punchlines from that sentence: “It’s an important event because it reminds us that no matter what our status in life might be, that we have a duty to respond to a higher power.” Dick Cheney?

Earlier, Bush spoke about the nuclear deal with North Korea.

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, as I said in the statement, it’s action for action.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “In North Korea, we have been concerned that food shipments sometimes don’t make it to the people themselves -- in other words, the regime takes the food for their own use.”

HE HAS A FUNNY WAY OF SHOWING IT: “So my message to the [North Korean] people is, is that we’ll continue to care for you and worry about you, and at the same time, pursue a Korean Peninsula that’s nuclear weapons free.” He also told the North Koreans, “our concerns are for you, not against you”.

IN OTHER WORDS: “In the past, we would provide benefits to the North Koreans in the hope that they would fulfill a vague promise. In other words, that’s the way it was before I came into office.”

MAN, THOSE NORTH KOREANS ARE AUDACIOUS: “I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.” You’re sure it wasn’t by Dick Cheney? He gets awfully hungry around noon.

And in the afternoon, he spoke at a conference sponsored by his Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, of which he said “This is not a political convention. This is a compassion convention. (Applause.) This is ‘we don’t care about politic’ convention.”

IRREFUTABLE PROOF OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD: “How beautiful was that? From being a homeless mother of two to introducing the President of the United States. (Applause.) There has to be a higher power.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “my administration has advanced policies that yield greater support for faith-based and community groups. In other words, it’s one thing to talk it; it’s another thing to act.”

WHAT GEORGE IS OFTENTIMES ASKED BY THE VOICES IN HIS HEAD: “But oftentimes I’m asked, why? Why do you care what happens outside of America?”

WHAT COULD ONLY HAPPEN IN A PLACE LIKE AMERICA: “It’s only in a place like America -- think about it, think about our country for a second -- could a life nearly extinguished by hate be restored by love and compassion.” Because every other country suuuuuucks.

WHAT YOU PROBABLY DON’T EVEN REALIZE: “You probably don’t even realize some of the acts of kindness are miracles. I’m telling you they are.”

Because when you think District of Columbia, you think well-regulated militia

The Supreme Court strikes down D.C.’s ban on handgun ownership (and its trigger-lock requirement), ruling 5-4 that everyone has the right to own handguns. They also ruled that it would be cool if dueling came back in style.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The return of constructive engagement and quiet diplomacy

South Africa’s ANC issues a statement on Zimbabwe which, while condemning “the flagrant violation of every principle of democratic governance” (though saying much of the blame lies with Britain), asks other nations not to intervene, saying “any attempts by outside players to impose regime change will merely deepen the crisis.” I seem to recall Ronald Reagan saying that very thing about apartheid South Africa in the 1980s (update: I didn’t mean that literally, but I’ve just done the google thing, and Reagan actually said that putting sanctions on South Africa would “deepen the crisis.”)

John McCain is profoundly disturbed. He says so himself.

McCain and Obama both reject the Supreme Court decision that the death penalty should not be applied to child-rapists, boldly coming out against the rape of children. McCain: “That there is a judge anywhere in America who does not believe that the rape of a child represents the most heinous of crimes, which is deserving of the most serious of punishments, is profoundly disturbing.” Heaven forfend any member of the United States judiciary not support the state putting people to death.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A spirit of respect

Bush met Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung today. Evidently, “Our relationship with Vietnam is getting closer, in a spirit of respect.” This spirit of respect did not, however, prevent the White House website failing to understand Vietnamese names and calling the respected guest “Prime Minister Dung.” The transcript didn’t specify whether Bush giggled disgracefully throughout the meeting.

A nation in which there’s a lot of Philippine-Americans

This morning Bush met with Philippines President Gloria Arroyo.

WHY GEORGE IS PROUD: “First, I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that -- in which there’s a lot of Philippine-Americans.”

HE’S THE REMINDERER, BUT ALSO THE REMINDEDER: “And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the -- of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House.”

GEORGE SPEAKS SENSITIVELY ABOUT THE TYPHOON: “Some are wondering whether or not their loved ones will, you know, reappear.”

MORE THAN STRONG STAND: “I congratulated the President on her strong stand on counterterrorism -- more than strong stand -- effective stand on counterterrorism”.

WHAT STICKS SAY: “The President has been very strong in having a carrots-and-sticks approach -- ‘sticks,’ of course, say we’re not going to allow for people to terrorize our citizens; the ‘carrot’ approach is that there’s peace available.”

Monday, June 23, 2008

Terror gaffe

McCain aide Charlie Black, in what the London Times rather charmingly called a “terror gaffe,” told Fortune magazine that a terrorist attack on US soil would “certainly” “be a big advantage” to McCain. Possibly he thought was talking to Soldier of Fortune magazine?

Le mot juste

I just got my new driver’s license in the mail. With the new picture.


There’s nothing better than having good role models for girls to look at

Today’s must-read: McClatchy’s Leila Fadel on the reaction in Iraq to the US failure to punish anyone for the Haditha Massacre.

Bush, hosting the Phoenix Mercury women’s basketball team: “As the father of twin girls, there’s nothing better than having good role models for girls to look at, and there are no better role models than women basketball players.” So step aside, all you women doctors and lawyers and professors and authors and legislators and governors and...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Paradoxical representation

Condi Rice, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal editorial board, on future Iraqi elections:
RICE: Depending on what happens with the structure of the elections, and we obviously favor and everybody favors if it can be done, proportional representation rather than a list system, it will --

Q: Rather than a list system?

RICE: A list system where parties simply --

Q: Proportional representation is a list system.

RICE: No, but not a list system. Not having a list system. Having representation by district --

Q: By district.

RICE: Yeah, by district. Proportional representation, constituency representation. Yes, right. But not a list system because, obviously, for -- now, it’s hard and it’s --
Sadly, they did not ask her how this hitherto unknown form of proportional representation would work.

She was also interviewed this week by CNN’s editorial board. She said that if North Korea completes the next phase of denuclearization, “the President will notify Congress that he intends to take them off the terrorism list.” Just in case you thought that the list of state sponsors of terrorism had anything to do with which states sponsor terrorism.

And she spun the fact that NK actually tested a nuke for the first time on her watch as not a dismal failure of Bush policy but one of them there clarifying moments: “The fact that they test-fired a nuclear weapon probably helped us get to where we are, because it really solidified the international consensus that this was a state that cannot be trusted with nuclear devices and with nuclear materials. And so I would say that we’re much further along than we were.” So that’s all right then.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Krugman on Obama’s pusillanimous position on FISA:
My biggest concern about an Obama administration is that, in the end, he won’t make universal health care a priority. My second biggest concern is that “Unity” means never having to say you’re sorry: that in the name of putting past partisanship behind us, the next administration will sweep the abuses of the past 8 years under the rug, the same way Bill Clinton did in 1993; the result of that decision was that the very same people responsible for Iran-Contra showed up subverting our democracy all over again.
I always said that if Iran-Contra accomplished nothing else, at least Elliott Abrams, possessor of the smuggest face in the Reagan administration, would never become secretary of state.

I’m not sure which possibility is actually more worrying: 1) that Obama doesn’t consider this an important matter of principle and the Bushies’ domestic spying a significant abuse of power, or 2) that he isn’t willing to “distract” himself from his campaign by engaging with this issue. Neither bodes well.

But my greatest disappointment is not with Obama or Hoyer or Pelosi, but with the American people for not making it abundantly clear with their collective outrage that standing up to the administration’s lawlessness and to retroactive immunity would be politically popular as well as, you know, the right thing to do.

Note: in my 4,416 posts, that was the first time I’ve employed the word pusillanimous. I kind of enjoyed it. I may do it again sometime. Leave suggestions in comments for any other words you’d like to see me use in a sentence.

Waste, fraud and abuse of your time

Headline of the day, AP: “Paraguay Inmates Riot for More Sex.” The best part of a Paraguayan prison riot: the make-up sex.

For your political educational benefit, the McCain McCampaign offers this charmless video game, called “Pork Invaders,” in which you shoot (veto) at pigs and pork barrels. “Play the game to help John McCain in his tireless fight against wasteful spending,” his website says.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unclear on the concept

A BBC article (sent in by Alert Reader David Chappell) quotes the finding of an official inquiry into the stabbing of a prisoner in a British prison that “At the time of Wayne’s murder a criminal subculture was embedded” at the prison. That will happen if you keep letting criminals in.

Number 9 in the series, “Everything You Need to Know About the Economy You Can Tell By the Expression on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s Face.”

From a speech given today at a “Women in Housing and Finance” meeting.

And, er, what might he be signaling here?

Sometimes it’s hard to see it when you’re this close to the deal

Bush went to Iowa today to look at storm damage.

WHAT GEORGE KNOWS: “I know a lot of farmers and cattlemen are hurting right now, along with the city people.”

WHAT WE ALSO GOT TO WORRY ABOUT: “we also got to worry about the little towns. A lot of folks are wondering whether or not the government hears about them, too, and I can assure you that I know the Governor cares deeply about it, and so do we.”

BUT NOT ACTUALLY TO HELP THEM IN ANY WAY: “Paulison, who is the head of FEMA, tells me that there are 600 FEMA people moving around the state, and that ought to help the people in the smaller communities know that somebody is there to listen to them and care about them.”

HOW THEY’LL COME BACK: “You’ll come back better. Sometimes it’s hard to see it when you’re this close to the deal.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

You understand how hopeful the world can be when people live in free societies

Today Bush met with Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev of Bulgaria.

WHAT STANISHEV UNDERSTANDS: “you understand how hopeful the world can be when people live in free societies.”

REALIZING THE BLESSINGS: “we talked about a mutual concern, and that’s energy: How do we get more energy on the market; how do we help others, our respective countries and others, realize the blessings of additional energy supply?”

HE HAS AN MBA, YOU KNOW: “I mean, we’re in a world that is -- where supply has exceeded -- where demand has exceeded supply. There’s high prices.”

WHAT GEORGE THANKED STANISHEV FOR: “Thank you for your hard work and thank you for your care about the people of your country.” Um, you’re welcome?

HE’S THE REMINDERER: “I reminded the Prime Minister that all of us have got a responsibility to deal with corruption.”

WARNING: IRONY ALERT IRONY ALERT IRONY ALERT: “When we find corrupt officials in the United States, we expect them to be, within the rule of law, be dealt with.”

WHAT STANISHEV IS, AND WHAT GEORGE IS: “You’re a good, young, strong leader, and that’s said from an old guy.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I see dead people

Bush and gospel singer Kurt Carr. Just once I’d like to see a black man rub Bush’s head.

And John McCain.

I thought he looked like he was seeing ghosts, and then read the AP caption: “Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) speaks to supporters Tuesday, June 17, 2008 in Houston.” Yup, he’s seeing ghosts all right.

Our hearts and thoughts go to those who lost life

This morning Bush spoke about the flooding in Iowa.

WHERE OUR HEARTS AND THOUGHTS GO: “Of course, our hearts and thoughts go to those who lost life.”

#5983 IN THE LIST OF THINGS BUSH “FULLY UNDERSTANDS”: “I fully understand people are upset when they lose their home.”

A CLEAR... STRATEGY: “And we want to work with state and local folks to have a clear strategy to help people find -- get back into a place that -- where they can live.”

WHAT WE’VE GOT: “We’ve got what we called a Disaster Relief Fund.”

WHAT THEY (CONGRESS) NEED TO WORRY ABOUT: “What they do need to worry about is making sure that there is enough but not too much money in the fund, so we can say we have done our job.” Well, you can say it.

WHEN YOU’VE SEEN ONE DISASTER, YOU’VE SEEN THEM ALL: “And I, unfortunately, have been to too many disasters as President.” Yeah, everywhere you go, there seems to be a disaster. Funny that.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Listening tour

In an exercise in, how you say, fair use, I present an AP picture and its caption: “Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., listens to a reporter’s question during a press briefing at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., Monday, June 16, 2008.”

Bush in the UK: Waiting for somebody rational to show up

Bush held a press conference with Gordon Brown this morning. And, oh sure, I could illustrate this post with pictures of George Bush and Gordon Brown.

Bush & Brown, 6.16.08

Yeah, cuz that’s so exciting. Or I could use pictures of Bush playing basketball with a bunch of little girls in Belfast. They trounced him soundly; he made zero out of four shots.

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   1

He appalled Europeans with this threat: “By the way, some are speculating this is my last trip. Let them speculate. Who knows?”

WHAT THE FIRST THING ABOUT GORDON BROWN IS: “First thing about Gordon Brown, he’s tough on terror, and I appreciate it”.

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   2

WHAT THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION OF HISTORY IS GOING TO LOOK BACK ON IT IS: “The fundamental question of history is going to look back on it, is did we understand the duty that we’ve been called to do, to protect ourselves and hope others?”

Incidentally, today he’s not saying that history won’t be able to judge him at all for forty years, but that “History will judge the tactics. History will judge whether or not, you know, more troops were needed earlier, troops could have been positioned here better or not. Removing Saddam Hussein was not wrong.” So, a note to historians: confine your analysis to Bush’s tactics. Last night, by the way, Brown invited some real historians to dinner with Bush: Martin Gilbert, Simon Schama and David Cannadine. The mind boggles.

6.16.08   6

TRYING TO DISTANCE THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER: “No, I know there’s a lot of discussion here in the British press about, well, you know, is there going to be enough troops, or not enough troops, and all that business; is he trying to distance this, that and the other -- it’s just typical.” Also typical: naked page three girls.

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   4

THE WHO CARES POSITION: “Hopefully the Iranian leadership will take a different position then the one they’ve taken in the past, which is basically, who cares what the free world says, we’re going to -- we’ll go our own way.” And we know how George hates unilateralism.

GEORGE DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THE WORD QUALMS MEANS: “We have no qualms with the Iranian people.” (Update: Simon Hoggart thinks he was actually saying quarrels, which he pronounces “kwarls.”)

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   5

WHAT WE EXPECT: “And so my message at the G8 is: Looking forward to working with you; thanks for coming to the meeting -- just remember, there are people needlessly dying on the continent of Africa today, and we expect you to be more than pledge-makers. We expect you to be check-writers for humanitarian reasons.”

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   6

BE IN MORE CHARGE: “And so, give the Iraqis more responsibility. Let them take more -- be in more charge of their own security and their own government, and that’s what’s happening.”

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   7

WHAT THE KEY THING IS (BLITHERING INCOHERENCE, EVIDENTLY): “And so, you know, I mean -- look, the key thing for me is that I have -- you know, is that Gordon shares with me his plans. He listens to -- he talks to his commanders and he picks up the phone and says, here’s what we’re thinking. So there’s no surprises.”


Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   8

SO IT WAS ALL WORTH IT: “The strategic implications of a free Iraq are significant for our future. For example, a free Iraq will make it easier to deal with the Iranian issue.”

THERE IS SOME: “there is some who say that perhaps freedom is not universal. Maybe it’s only Western people that can self-govern. Maybe it’s only, you know, white-guy Methodists who are capable of self government.” Dude, we’ve seen you play basketball...

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   9

“And it’ll bring peace to the Middle East, unless of course we become isolationist”. Increasingly, he is describing opponents of his failed foreign policy as if they are following this discredited ideology of isolationism, as if they oppose the US exercising any influence at all in the world, as opposed to exercising it in the direction of crapification.

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   10

I MEAN IN OTHER WORDS: “I mean, in other words, they [North Korea] are -- we’ll see what they disclose, but we hopefully are in the process of disabling and dismantling their plutonium manufacturing.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “you know, let’s send a focused message all aiming to create the conditions so that somebody rational shows up. In other words, people hopefully are sick of isolation in their respective countries, and they show up and say, we’re tired of this; there’s a better way forward.”

WHAT HE’D SAY IF HE WERE THE IRANIANS OR THE NORTH KOREANS: “So if I were the North Koreans and I were looking at Iran, or the Iranians looking at North Korea, I’d say, uh-oh, there are coalitions coming together that are bound tightly -- more tightly than ever in order to send us a focused message.”

Bush & the basketball game of doom, 6.16.08   11

A focused message.