Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Good German

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post describes the Kissassinger testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday:

 Kissinger, the master of nuanced phrases such as "not incompatible," provided few such broad pronouncements yesterday. Indeed, he pronounced very little in his low, German-accented rumble.
"I want to make sure I heard you right, because it's hard to hear you, so tell me if I heard you right," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) directed him.
Kissinger responded with a guttural sound that the transcript labeled "(inaudible)."
It must have been a terrifying hearing for stenographers, who recorded Kissinger's utterances with phrases such as "we should avoid its (inaudible) deployment" and "we should work in the direction that will (inaudible) for maximum stability."

Inaudibility is always the best way to experience any utterance emanating from the Bush regime.  That's what the Mute button on the remote is for.

8:16:03 AM    comment []  

  Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Entrance Strategy

I have no idea what Bush meant last night when he said "This is not the fight we entered in Iraq but it is the fight we are in."

Not the fight we entered?  Did the Devil make him invade Iraq?  What was all that speechifying in 2003 about WMDs and mushroom clouds?  Has all the carnage since then been a mass hallucination on the part of the US citizenry?

Sounds like Bush was trying to channel Churchill and got
Rumsfeld instead.

Chris Hedges, author of
"War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning," is appearing at Vroman's bookstore in Pasadena tomorrow night.  Maybe he knows what it means.

1:16:06 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, January 16, 2007

May you live in challenging times

According to an NPR story:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is meeting with Arab leaders to promote President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq. But Arab leaders mistrust Iraq's government and are dubious about the new proposal. In urging acceptance of the plan, Rice told her Saudi counterpart that positive change only comes out of challenging times.

Rice also told the Arab leaders that they shouldn't tolerate any interference in Iraq's affairs by foreign governments -- foreign governments other than the USA, that is. 

4:30:43 PM    comment []  

  Monday, January 08, 2007

Waiting to Exhale

Must be a leak of Bush's Iraq "surge" speech, scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday at 9 PM New York time.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York officials evacuated a number of buildings and shut down some trains after a mysterious gaslike odor was reported Monday.

A New York Police Department spokesman said an air quality test determined that the air is not hazardous, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said there is no indication terrorism was involved.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the smell "unpleasant" but said it posed no harm.

10:45:03 AM    comment []  

  Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dead Presidents' Society

My postman has just informed me that there will be no postal service this Tuesday, January 2nd, in honor of Gerald Ford.

It turns out that whenever a president dies, it's a bank and postal holiday -- although this custom apparently doesn't apply to former presidents of Iraq.

I'd be willing to forego my postal service for an entire week if it would hasten Bush's departure from this Earthly vale of tears.

12:01:23 PM    comment []  

  Friday, December 29, 2006

Have you driven a Ford lately?

While overdosing on Gerald Ford eulogies, I couldn't help thinking of what Gore Vidal once said about him in an interview (written from memory):

"Nixon would never have picked somebody who was any good.  Ford is like one of those Halloween Jack O'Lanterns that we find on our doorstep, and who knows what horrors are inside?  Never underestimate Nixie's sense of fun."
The TV political pundits don't seem to be able to agree on whether Ford will lay in state or lie in state.  Of course, Nixon lied in state just as he lied in life.
12:39:56 PM    comment []  

  Monday, December 11, 2006

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Ubermann!

Josef Joffe, the author of "Uberpower: The Imperial Temptation of America," was on CSPAN2 yesterday. 

We might still be an Uberpower if the current occupant of the Weisshaus wasn't such a Dummkopf.

4:46:55 PM    comment []  

  Friday, December 08, 2006

The Weakly Substandard

Paul Krugman points out that "They Told You So":

Shortly after U.S. forces marched into Baghdad in 2003, The Weekly Standard published a jeering article titled, “The Cassandra Chronicles: The stupidity of the antiwar doomsayers.” Among those the article mocked was a “war novelist” named James Webb, who is now the senator-elect from Virginia.

Now, only a few neocon dead-enders still believe that this war was anything but a vast exercise in folly. And those who braved political pressure and ridicule to oppose what Al Gore has rightly called “the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States” deserve some credit.

Unlike The Weekly Standard, which singled out those it thought had been proved wrong, I’d like to offer some praise to those who got it right.

Bill Kristol should turn over the publication of his Weekly rang to Billy Crystal.  At least it would be funny -- and not just unintentionally.

10:44:14 AM    comment []  

  Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Year of Living Dangerously

Forget about the civil war in Iraq or the unfortunate demise of James Kim today in the snows of western Oregon.  For true daredevil behavior, consider that for over a decade, I've not only been ordering cebollitas (little green onions) with my tacos at Baja Fresh, but have also added large portions of bagged spinach to my salad.

For my next death-defying stunt, I plan to order a strawberry smoothie at Jamba Juice.

If that doesn't kill me, I'll go to a New York restaurant and ask for something cooked in trans fats, risking a beating by a crazed mob of anti-cholesterol zealots.

2:53:09 PM    comment []  

The Trans Fat Study Report

New York has just become the first city in the USA to ban trans fats in restaurants.

Since everything Bush touches turns to shit, why don't we fire him as commander-in-chief of the War on Terror and put him in charge of the War on Cholesterol?  That's something he should be able to handle.  He can declare french fries and onion rings to be members of the Axis of Evil and take it from there.

2:52:07 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ain't gonna study war no more

According to CNN, the Iraq Study Group has just announced that it will release its report on December 6th.

That's why December 7th remains, as FDR said, "a date which will live in infamy."

11:50:33 AM    comment []  

Who's on Frist

Bill Frist has abandoned his quest for the presidency.  Somebody must have reminded him that he has all the charm of an undertaker.  If you want to be president, you have to be able to at least fake likeability.

Poor guy, now that he's retired from the Senate, all he'll have to fall back on is his family's health care fortune.

11:49:00 AM    comment []  

  Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Odd Couple

Today on MSNBC, some pundit opined that "Bush should have taken out Moqtada al-Sadr a few years ago when he had the chance."

What would Laura think of her husband, the anti-gay marriage crusader, going out with another man?

6:36:37 PM    comment []  

  Monday, November 13, 2006

Rooting for Rudy

I don't know whether any mayor has ever been elected president, but Rudy Giuliani, perhaps buoyed by the debut of the first-ever Italian-American Speaker of the House, has set up an exploratory committee for a presidential bid, and is the Republican frontrunner in today's CNN poll. Unlike former presidential hopefuls George "Macacawitz" Allen and Rick "Sanctum" Santorum, Rudy doesn't look like Howdy Doody.

Nevertheless, his campaign's theme song uses the Howdy Doody melody.

It's Giuliani time, it's Giuliani time, it's Giuliani time, it's Giuliani time

So let's all give a cheer, 'cause Giuliani's here

It isn't Bloomberg time, it's Giuliani time

10:27:57 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Macaca Cowboy

George "Macacawitz" Allen has just conceded defeat in the Virginia senatorial race.  He opened his concession speech by tossing a football into the crowd; His father used to coach the Washington Redskins, a redskin being another kind of macaca. 

Last night on the Larry King show, Bill Maher said we have to stop electing these affable characters like Bush and Allen, "these empty suits who wear cowboy hats and have crap on their boots."  And indeed, Allen made several Bush-like stumbles during his speech today, the most glaring one being, while extolling the economy of his state, coming close to saying "entremanure" instead of "entrepreneur."  Clearly he has caca, or macaca, on the brain.

3:22:05 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Conrad Burns in Hell

Jon Tester sounds like the name of a guy who does safety tests on bathrooms, along with Wall Street Journal op-ed writer John Fund, who heads a mutual fund that invests in them.

Nevertheless, Tester has just defeated Conrad Burns in the race for Senator from Montana. 

With 100% of precincts reporting, the Senatorial results for Montana are as follows:

Tester: 198,302
Burns: 195,455

That totals less than 400,000 voters in the entire state of Montana.  I probably had more people than that living on the New York city block where I grew up.

11:21:01 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, October 19, 2006

The San Andreas Default

Just in time for the election:

More Homeowners Going Into Default

The number of Californians who are significantly behind on their mortgage payments and at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure more than doubled in the three months ended Sept. 30, providing the latest evidence of trouble in the housing market, figures released Wednesday show.

Lenders sent out 26,705 default notices — the first step toward a foreclosure — during the July-to-September period, up from 12,606 during the same quarter in 2005, according to DataQuick Information Systems.
It's the flip side of Bush's Ownership Society -- the Foreclosure Society.

10:42:30 AM    comment []  

  Thursday, September 28, 2006

Freedom Fries

New York is proposing to ban the use of trans fats for cooking in restaurants.

Trans fats, used for cooking such items as french fries, can cause heart disease by raising levels of bad cholesterol.

If they called it evil cholesterol instead, Bush could launch a global war on it and New York wouldn't need the ban.

12:05:33 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Severance Package

I don't recall seeing Christians riot after the title character in "Salome" sings her long aria to the severed head of John the Baptist.

One of the leading opera houses in Germany has cancelled a production because a scene that might offend Muslims could create a security threat.

The production of the opera Idomeneo features a scene in which a character presents the severed heads of religious leaders -- including Jesus, the Buddha and Muhammad.

The Deutsche Oper in Berlin said police had warned that staging the production could pose a security risk to the opera house, its employees and patrons.

Staging this production could give a whole new meaning to "They really killed 'em at the box office" and "We bombed last night."

3:27:34 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Blues

Ticketmaster is giving the public a chance to bid on tickets for the upcoming Blue Man Group tour.

But do they perform in red states?

2:36:31 PM    comment []  

  Monday, September 18, 2006

Frank gets Richer

Frank Rich's new book, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold," just came out today, and by a strange coincidence, he just happened to be on TV today talking about it -- for example, on MSNBC's "Hardball."

The book is apparently new material, not just a collection of his columns like so many journalists do.  Getting paid twice for the same work is a good trick, especially since most of us have trouble getting paid once in the new globalized economy.

3:00:01 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Silver-Tongued Texan

The death of Ann Richards brought forth endless re-screenings of her verbal evisceration of Bush the Elder:

"Poor George.  He can't help it.  He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

And his son was born with a mouthful of both feet and both legs.

10:11:31 PM    comment []  

  Monday, September 11, 2006

Ramada Inn

Today on CNN, I heard anchorman Jim Clancy, in conversation with reporter Michael Ware, refer to the Iraqi city of Ramadi as "Ramada."

"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."

      - Ambrose Bierce

5:59:31 PM    comment []  

Due Process

Keith Olbermann was impassioned and eloquent in his 10-minute on-air denunciation of Bush last night.  The only part I didn't like was the ending, "May this country forgive you."

Why should we forgive the SOB?  He deserves to be in solitary confinement in Guantanamo, in an orange jump suit and blindfolded with his "Mission Accomplished" banner.

4:20:12 PM    comment []  

  Friday, September 08, 2006

Remotely Possible

The latest innovation in airline security:

LAX Launches Remote Check-In
Passengers will be able to drop off luggage and get boarding passes at sites throughout the city.
By Jennifer Oldham
Times Staff Writer

September 9, 2006

Instead of hauling bags, strollers, skis and other items through long lines at ticket counters to check them on airplanes, LAX passengers will be able to drop off luggage and obtain boarding passes at locations throughout the city, under a program announced Friday.

Officials hope that the program will revolutionize how passengers use Los Angeles International Airport and will eliminate an inconvenience for travelers and decrease the security risk presented by long lines at ticket counters and at skycap stands. Experts have long said travelers in these lines are vulnerable to a luggage or car bomb attack.

Now if only they would offer flights from remote sites throughout LA.

11:15:43 AM    comment []  

  Sunday, September 03, 2006

No worries, Mate!

Americans are understandably frightened about terrorism, but let me clarify a common statistical fallacy and put your minds at ease.

The chances of some American, somewhere in the world, being killed by terrorists are pretty high. 

The probability of you in particular being killed by terrorists is rather low -- about the same as the chances of a world-famous wildlife expert being done in by a stingray.

Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and conservationist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed today by a stingray while filming off the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.

12:32:34 PM    comment []  

  Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Agassi and the Ecstasy

Benjamin Becker, who beat Andre Agassi today in the final match of Agassi's career, is German but speaks good English, by virtue of having graduated from Baylor University before joining the pro tennis tour.

Agassi is one of the world's most articulate athletes despite having baylored out before graduating high school.

Bush graduated from Yale but can't put two words together without mispronouncing one and misspelling the other.

Higher education is very overrated.

6:33:52 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Gimme that ol' time religion

As Maureen Dowd points out, Bush behaved as if he were the nation's chaplain-in-chief yesterday at the site of the Biblical deluge in New Orleans:

“There will be a momentum, momentum will be gathered. Houses will begat jobs, jobs will begat houses.”

Whenever Bush speaks, I can never tell whether he's imagining he's Will Rogers or Winston Churchill.  Yesterday, he sounded like Elmer Gantry.

3:06:05 PM    comment []  

Trickle or Treat

NPR headline today: U.N. Force Trickles into Lebanon

This must be the trickle-down theory of Middle East peacekeeping.

In other words, a rising tide lifts all boats -- except when the Israelis are maintaining a naval blockade.

2:47:26 PM    comment []  

  Sunday, August 20, 2006

Happy Talk

During today's press conference, Bush was asked if he's frustrated with the situation in Iraq.

"Frustrated? Sometimes I'm frustrated. Rarely surprised. Sometimes I'm happy."

I was half expecting him to serenade the media with a song:

Sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I'm blue,
My disposition depends on you.
I never mind the rain from the skies,
If I can find the sun in your eyes.
Sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you,
But when I hate you, it's 'cause I love you.
That's how I am so what can I do?
I'm happy when I'm with you.

10:56:43 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, July 20, 2006

Honest Abe & Incurious George

Excerpt from today's Bush speech to the NAACP:

I consider it a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historical ties with the African American community.

To paraphrase what Lloyd Bentsen told Dan Quayle in 1988, Mr. President, you're no Abe Lincoln.

1:29:19 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Land of Oz

Amos Oz has an op-ed piece in today's LA Times entitled "Hezbollah Attacks Unite Israelis."

Of course, the reverse is just as likely: "Israeli Attacks Unite Lebanese."

6:29:26 PM    comment []  

  Monday, July 17, 2006

Monkey See, Monkey Do

MSNBC's Tucker Carlson claims that the "Yo, Blair" conversation reveals Bush's human side.

What have the previous 5 1/2 years of Bush's utterance revealed, his simian side?

10:38:02 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Clash of Civilizations

The bodies of two American soldiers who had been missing since Friday were found today.

. . . an Iraqi military official, Major General Abdul Azia Mohammed, said that they had been "tortured in a barbaric fashion."

As opposed to the prisoners in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and various CIA "black sites," who have been tortured in a civilized fashion.

10:39:43 AM    comment []  

  Thursday, June 08, 2006

Citizen Zarqawi

Bush's announcement of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi included an unintentional rap lyric:

Now Zarqawi has met his end

And this violent man will never murder again

According to Patrick Cockburn:

Zarqawi himself was dragged dying from the ruins of his house by Iraqi police and strapped to a stretcher. "Zarqawi did in fact survive the air strike," said Maj Gen William Caldwell, the US military spokesmen. Covered in blood he survived a few minutes after the Americans arrived and muttered a few unintelligible words. "Zarqawi attempted to turn away off the stretcher,' said Gen Caldwell. "They--everybody--re-secured him back onto the stretcher, but he died almost immediately thereafter from the wounds he received from the airstrike."

We'll never know what Zarqawi's final utterance was, but you can bet it wasn't "Rosebud."

7:02:45 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Piece of the Action

Headline from today's LA Times:

Iraq's New Leaders Vow to Fight Rampant Corruption

Patrick Cockburn describes the reality:

So divided is the new government that each ministry becomes the fief of the party that holds it. The ministries are, in practice, patronage machines employing only party loyalists. They are milked for money, jobs and contracts. Ministers cannot be dismissed for incompetence or corruption, however gross, because it would lead to the deal between the parties and communities unravelling. The government has become a sort of bureaucratic feudalism with each ministry presided over by an independent chieftain.

In other words, rather than fighting rampant corruption, Iraq's new leaders are more likely to demand their fair share of it.

12:19:15 PM    comment []  

  Monday, May 22, 2006

Shit happens

According to CNN:

More than three years after the Iraq invasion, President Bush acknowledged to war-weary Americans Monday that the situation is improving only gradually and urged patience with "more days of challenge and loss."

"Our progress is incremental," Bush said during a freewheeling question-and-answer session with restaurant industry representatives after a speech on Iraq and the war on terror. "Freedom is moving, but it's in incremental steps . . . ."

Incremental?  Excremental would be more accurate.

12:21:16 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Da Vinci Prose

I never had any desire to read Dan Brown's paperweight, and A.O. Scott's review in today's NY Times has confirmed the wisdom of my decision:

"The Da Vinci Code," Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence . . . 
To their credit, the director and his screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman (who collaborated with Mr. Howard on "Cinderella Man" and "A Beautiful Mind," have streamlined Mr. Brown's story and refrained from trying to capture his, um, prose style.

Maybe Dan Brown should become a Bush speechwriter.

2:33:56 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Emigrants

Molly Ivins reacts to Bush's immigration speech:

You want to shut down illegal immigration? You want to use the military as police? Make it illegal to hire undocumented workers and put the National Guard into enforcing that. Then rewrite NAFTA and invest in Mexico.

Personally,  I support letting the illegal immigrants stay and deporting Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

6:40:58 PM    comment []  

  Friday, May 05, 2006

Home(land) Depot

Caption from a New York Times photo today:

Visiting a hardware store today, President Bush said he would veto any spending bill that exceeds his request.

They may let him visit the store but they're unlikely to let him run it, as Philip Roth once pointed out:

Aristophanes, who surely must be God, has given us George W. Bush, a man unfit to run a hardware store let alone a nation like this one.

3:44:03 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, May 04, 2006

No habla Ingles

According to CNN:

President Bush likes to drop a few words of Spanish in his speeches and act like he's proficient in the language. But he's really not that good, his spokesman said Thursday.

"The president can speak Spanish but not that well," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "He's not that good with his Spanish."

Why should that be surprising?  He's not that good with his English either.

11:33:31 AM    comment []  

  Monday, May 01, 2006

Emission Accomplished

On May 1st 2003, Bush strutted around on the deck of an aircraft carrier in a tight flight suit with a visibily bulging crotch -- or as David Hare put it in his play, "Stuff Happens," "George Bush shows his balls to the world" -- and proclaimed Mission Accomplished in Iraq.

Three years later, Bush's wet dream of a quick and easy war has become a nightmare, more like Mission Impossible -- with no Tom Cruise to come to the rescue.

12:17:13 PM    comment []  

  Monday, April 24, 2006

The Viagra Building

According to the LA Times, "Gehry Sees His Glass Towers Transforming Downtown LA."

Architect Frank O. Gehry plans to erect a translucent, glass-curtained tower rising 47 stories above his landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall as the centerpiece of the Grand Avenue project, a bold statement that would alter downtown Los Angeles' skyline and reinforce the civic center area as a hub of cutting-edge architecture.

City officials have long talked of turning this part of downtown into a 24-hour district on par with parts of New York, Chicago, London or Paris -- without success.

It now falls to Gehry and his partner, Craig Webb, to create the "urban mix."

No matter what lofty concepts architects may claim for their projects, it all comes down to one thing: Mine is bigger than yours.

10:48:04 AM    comment []  

  Friday, April 21, 2006

President Blair

According to a Slate article:

. . . Blair's personal stock remains high in the United States. In some ways, from the theatrical jes' folks manner to the religious zeal, he has always been a more American than British figure. Plenty of Americans -- some for a time dubbed the "Blair Democrats" -- preferred the prime minister's rhetoric about the Iraq war to what they heard from their own president, and even now Blair gets something of a free pass from Americans who hate the war and damn George W. Bush to perdition.

If Blair is so popular on this side of the pond, maybe he should run for office here.  But would the Brits take Bush in exchange? 

10:53:37 PM    comment []  

  Monday, April 10, 2006

Familiarity breeds contempt

Although the print version of this NPR story includes the Enron protagonists' proper names, the audio version refers to them by their schoolyard monickers -- Jeff Skilling, Ken Lay and Andy Fastow.

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling says that he and most of his Enron colleagues are innocent of fraud as he testifies in his own defense in Houston. Skilling will be cross-examined later in the week by prosecutors. Former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay is expected to testify later in the month.

Only in America can average citizens be on a first-name basis with the kleptocrats who pick their pockets.  Is this a great country or what?

9:11:29 PM    comment []  

  Monday, April 03, 2006

Covert Overt Action

Secret talks are underway in London.

The Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran.

A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran.



No doubt the attack itself will also be secret, although probably not to the Iranians.

Don't tell anybody you heard about the secret talks.  They're a secret.

1:37:08 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The rain of blame falls mainly on Hussein

Just when you thought Bush couldn't possibly come up with another far-fetched explanation for the fiasco his war in Iraq has become, he does!:

President Bush said Wednesday that Saddam Hussein, not continued U.S. involvement in Iraq, is responsible for ongoing sectarian violence that is threatening the formation of a democratic government.

"The enemies of a free Iraq are employing the same tactics Saddam used, killing and terrorizing the Iraqi people in an effort to foment sectarian division," Bush said.

Bush said Iraq's instability "is the legacy of Saddam -- a tyrant who exacerbated ethnic divisions to keep himself in power."

First he blamed Iran, then he blamed the media, now he's blaming Saddam.  Next, he'll probably blame Bill Clinton.

1:07:37 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cancel my subscription to the Reformation

To me, the most noteworthy statement from today's Bush press conference was:

"A democracy in Iraq is going to inspire reformers in a part of the world that is desperate for reformation."

On the other hand, the Iraqis may prefer the Counter-Reformation.

10:27:19 PM    comment []  

  Friday, March 03, 2006

From Islamabad to Islamaworse

Today the New York Times published a photo of a banner saying "President George W. Bush -- A Friend of Pakistan" draped across a building  at Chaklala Air base near Islamabad to commemorate Bush's visit.

This must be the handiwork of the same people who were responsible for the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner, especially since it's in English rather than Urdu and is therefore intended for an American audience.

That's one more reason why, to his many Pakistani detractors, their country's leader is known as Busharraf.

2:07:18 PM    comment []  

The Dubai World Ports Tennis Championship

Too bad this match won't be televised, not even on the Tennis Channel.  At least Al Jazeera should show it.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the top two players in the world, will clash for the first time since the French Open semifinals in the Dubai Championship final on Saturday.

According to the event's official web site, it is:

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai

Now there's a title Bush must be in awe of, since it makes Commander-in-Chief sound chintzy by comparison.

1:29:12 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, March 02, 2006

No Nukes

The nuclear treaty Bush signed with India must still be approved by the U.S. Congress.

There are many reasons for them to reject it, not the least of which is that when they read the fine print, they'll discover it says "nucular" not "nuclear" and is therefore invalid.

2:14:33 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fellini's 7 1/2

According to a CNN reporter, Cheney shot Harry Whittington with "a 7 1/2 inch birdshot."

I don't know much about shooting, but it seems to me that if Whittington had been shot with a projectile that large, he wouldn't be giving any press conferences.

A bit of research turned up the correct dimensions of the birdshot:

Cheney was using No. 7½ shot from a 28-gauge shotgun. Shotgun pellets typically are made of steel or lead; the pellets in No. 7½ shot are just under one-tenth of an inch in diameter.

Birdshot could be the past tense of birdshit, just as the past tense of all the bullshit being issued from Cheney could be bullshot.

9:46:05 PM    comment []  

  Monday, February 13, 2006

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Pontificating on NPR this morning, Cokie Roberts mentioned that in a recent meeting with Republican leaders, Bush said that if he paid attention to public opinion polls, he'd spend all his time curled up in fetal position on the floor.

If he did that, Cheney would probably mistake him for a quail and shoot him.

11:45:20 AM    comment []  

  Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Civil Rights Carol

Bush and three of his predecessors spoke today at Coretta Scott King's funeral today at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

After unveiling his Dickensian budget that trashes the old and the poor, Bush should appear at Ebenezer Scrooge Baptist Church instead.

7:34:52 PM    comment []  

  Monday, January 30, 2006


If only the headline of this NPR story were true.

Bush Prepares to Deliver Final State of Union Address

by David Greene

President Bush has gone through about two-dozen drafts of the State of the Union Speech he will deliver Tuesday night. He says he will speak about elevating the tone in partisan Washington. That will be no easy task in a midterm election year, as the president is keenly aware.

What they meant was final draft, not final speech.  Unfortunately, we'll have to suffer through two more speeches before Bush is finally put out to pasture. 

10:53:30 PM    comment []  

  Monday, January 23, 2006

Windy Rhetoric

Last night in Southern California, the canyons and passes of the San Gabriel Valley foothills had extremely high winds and lost power overnight.

With below-normal rainfall this year, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning of extreme fire danger due to the high winds and low humidity. Particularly hard hit was the San Gabriel Valley.

With the power out, I slept with my flashlight, for lack of more congenial company.  I awoke in the morning to find the power restored and a telecast of Bush making a flatulent speech in Kansas, where there was unfortunately no power outage but only a lust for unlimited and unchecked presidential power.

3:30:38 PM    comment []  

  Saturday, January 21, 2006

One flu over the cuckoo's nest

A friend who shares my passion for tennis e-mailed me to inquire if I had some way of determining whom Jimmy Connors had played in the semifinals of the 1978 Wimbledon tournament.  Despite repeated Googling of various search terms, he had been unable to find the answer.

After trying several other search engines, I determined that Connors' opponent had been Vitas Gerulaitis.

I wonder what the NSA's search engine monitoring program would make of Gerulaitis as a search term.  Bush would probably think it's some variant of the avian flu.

12:54:38 PM    comment []  

  Monday, December 26, 2005

King Congo

According to today's NY Times:

Thousands of Congolese troops backed by U.N. peacekeepers battled Ugandan rebels hiding in Congo's restive east, leaving 35 rebels and one U.N. soldier dead, the U.N. said.

No doubt the Congolese troops are being led by the fearsome Congolese warrior princess Congoleezza Rice.

6:49:10 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Investigators believe they have found the cause of the Miami plane crash:

Investigators have found a crack in the wing that broke off a seaplane before it plunged into waters off Miami's South Beach, killing 20 people, a federal official said Wednesday morning.

The crack was near where the right wing connects with the fuselage, said Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

By the time of the 2006 midterm elections, we should also know whether the right wing of the Republican party has cracked and broken off.

7:54:37 AM    comment []  

  Monday, December 19, 2005

Osadamma, oh don't you cry for me

One advantage of reading transcripts of Bush appearances is that you don't have to put up with that simian countenance and the museum of nervous tics and mannerisms that he has become.  But the disadvantage is that his slips and malapropisms usually get cleaned up by the press -- as in this CNN transcript of this morning's press conference:

Let me give you an example about my concerns about letting the enemy know what may or may not be happening.

In the late 1990s, our government was following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone. And then the fact that we were following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone made it into the press as the result of a leak.

And guess what happened. Osama bin Laden changed his behavior. He began to change how he communicated.

But what Bush actually said was (soundbite transcribed by me from broadcast, italics added):

And guess what happened. Saddam -- Osama bin Laden changed his behavior. He began to change how he communicated.

You don't have to be Dr. Freud to figure out what that one means.

It's reassuring to know that one person who will never change how he communicates is Bush.  He'll always be truculent, petulant, arrogant, ignorant and mendacious.

1:07:44 PM    comment []  

  Friday, December 16, 2005


According to CNN:

Iraqi security forces caught the most wanted man in the country last year, but released him because they didn't know who he was, the Iraqi deputy minister of the interior said Thursday.

. . . that wanted man being Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.  Juan Cole elaborates:

Nic Roberts reported that Zarqawi had put on weight, grown a beard, removed a tattoo, and was using a Kurdish passport, making him unrecognizable to Iraqi security forces.

Maybe they thought he was George Clooney.

9:59:48 AM    comment []  

  Monday, December 12, 2005


After yesterday's anti-Muslim riots in Darwin, Australia, Prime Minister John Howard said:

"I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country."

That's obvious.  The racism's right out in the open.

11:06:50 PM    comment []  

La Inclemenza di Ahnold

The news has just come over the wires: No clemency for Stanley Tookie Williams from the action-hero governor of Kollyphonia.

Bush just issued a statement concurring with his fellow Republican: "Look, I think Stanley Tucci Williams is an enormously talented actor, but he committed a terrible crime and he needs to be punished for it.  Anybody who's followed my political career knows two things about me: I don't do nuance, and I don't do clemency."

12:55:34 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rejecting the Rejectionists

Today's Bush speech was mostly a rehash of every other Bush speech on Iraq.  So what else is new? 

But there was one new element.  Instead of referring to the insurgency as being composed of "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" as he did in his previous speech, he's now calling them "terrorists and Saddamists."  In fact, he used that phrase seven times, by my count, so it's no accident.

So what happened to the rejectionists?

"I reject the pessimists in Washington who say we can't win this war. "

Oh, there he is.  The commander-in-chief of the rejectionists.

12:16:41 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Here comes the bribe

"When is a Bribe Not a Bribe on Capitol Hill?" is the name of today's segment of "To The Point."

The answer, if the Pentagon's department of euphemism were put in charge, would probably be, when it's an Enhanced Financial Incentive.

One of the show's guests was Bruce Bartlett, who described in a recent Washington Times column what he calls "the creeping corruption of the Republican Party."

Creeping?  How about galloping?

It's no accident that the founder and chief examplar of Republican corruption, Nixon, had a group in 1972 called the Committee to Re-Elect the President, or CREEP.

11:41:47 AM    comment []  

  Friday, December 02, 2005


Several courthouses in Connecticut were shut down and evacuated today after "non-specific threats" were received.

"At approximately 9:30 a.m. a bomb threat was received with a non-specific threat against a state judicial courthouse. Shortly thereafter, additional threats were made against judicial courthouses and state facilities," the state police said in a written statement.

You can bet that in the run-up to the 2006 US midterm elections, there will be plenty of non-specific threats reported and non-specific alerts issued to keep the public non-specifically fearful.

The specific goal of these activities will be to keep Congress in Republican hands.

1:34:32 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, December 01, 2005

Comdemn Nation

Excerpt from Bush's speech on World AIDS Day:

We're working with our partners to expand prevention efforts that emphasize abstinence, being faithful in marriage, and using condoms correctly.

That's what it says on the White House web site.  But I heard a soundbite from the speech, and what he actually said was:

. . . abstinence, being faithful in marriage, and using condemns correctly.

You don't have to be Dr. Freud to figure out what that means.  Bush condemns condoms.  Condoms cause sex.  Sex is not abstinence.  Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.

1:14:04 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Triumph of the Will

Since every Bush speech on Iraq is a re-run of every other Bush speech, one is reduced to pointing out what sort of clever graphic background Spinmeister Rove has come up with ("Plan for Victory" in today's speech) and counting the endless repetition of words and phrases:

"Change" - 6 times (Who says Bush is inflexible and dogmatic?)

"Artificial" - 6 times (as in "artificial timetable for withdrawing our troops")

"Mission" - 15 times (but remember, it's not a crusade)

"Coalition" - 21 times (a coalition of one)

"Freedom" - 22 times (especially for those Iraqi civilians who've been liberated from their lives)

And the grand prize winner, the word "will," was uttered a total of 65 times, as in "I will settle for nothing less than complete victory."

Rest assured that whatever should happen will happen.  The Emperor Bush has so ordered.  

Or, as he put it in a slightly different context, "America's will is strong."  So if US troops wind up withdrawing because of overwhelming public pressure and chaos ensues, Bush will blame it all on the American citizenry.

The speech included the usual analogies to WWII and the Cold War, along with claims that victory in Iraq "will inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran. . . " (especially the undemocratic Iranian clerics who are allied with the new Shiite-dominated government of Iraq) and that old favorite, ". . . as the Iraqi security forces stand up, coalition forces can stand down."

There was, however, one memorable new description:

"The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists."

Bush closed his speech with ". . . May God continue to bless the United States of America."  You can bet he will -- unless of course he turns out to be a rejectionist.

2:43:54 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, November 24, 2005

Cunanan, the Barbarian

During today's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, the always-perky Katie Couric referred to a fashion worn by a participant as having been designed by (soundbite transcribed by me from NBC braodcast) "Donatella Versucci."

Versucci may or may not be the past tense of Versace, but it sounds an awful lot like the Italian explorer Vespucci, from whom America took its name.

But then, Gianni Versace would probably still be alive if he'd never come to the USA and encountered one of America's great contributions to world culture -- the celebrity stalker, in the form of Andrew Cunanan.  

11:46:09 AM    comment []  

  Thursday, November 17, 2005


Judy Miller was reportedly furious with New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller for describing her relationship with "Scooter" Libby as an "entanglement," with all the sexual imagery that noun suggests.

Now, according to Counterpunch:

[The Washington Post's Walter] Pincus told Joe Stroup of Editor and Publisher later on Tuesday that he had long suspected that Woodward was somehow entangled in the Plame affair.

Does this imply that Libby, Miller and Woodward have been carrying on a menage a trois? 

And if so, have they been re-enacting any of the lurid sex scenes in Libby's novel, "The Apprentice"?

1:46:00 PM    comment []  

  Monday, November 14, 2005

We're Number One

Los Angeles residents can now take pride in having reclaimed the title of America's smoggiest city.

. . . the Greater Los Angeles region is again home to the worst smog in the nation, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency's latest barometer for measuring the unhealthful haze -- a dubious distinction the region has held for most of the last half-century. . . .

. . .  air quality officials and environmentalists are quick to note that the seemingly mundane act of breathing continues to pose a serious health hazard in many parts of Southern California.

We can always take Bill Clinton's advice -- Don't inhale.

Today's biggest contributor to air pollution was Bush's speech in Alaska, which included the following pearls of wisdom:

"Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war, but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people."

[Democratic criticism sends] "mixed signals to our troops and the enemy.  And that's irresponsible."

Translation: You can disagree with me, but if you do, you're irresponsible and a traitor.

I usually skip the broadcasts of Bush's speeches and read the transcripts instead.  Listening to them can be more hazardous than breathing the air in Los Angeles.  

12:08:26 PM    comment []  

  Friday, November 11, 2005

It ain't over till it's Dover

Residents of Dover, Pennsylvania, had better take heed, because as we all know, Pat Robertson has a direct pipeline to God. 

Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

I don't know what kind of natural disaster Dover is habitually prone to, unless it's a repeat of the Johnstown flood.   As far as I'm concerned, the biggest disaster for the Keystone State remains its junior senator.

Meanwhile, in another part of Pennsylvania, Tobyhanna, Bush closed his Veterans Day speech  with the following lengthy plea to the almighty:

May God bless our veterans, may God bless our troops in harm's way, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

With the exception, of course, of the city of Dover. 

12:03:43 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, November 10, 2005

Shopping at Bloomie's

Today's NY Times reports that the Democrats are disconsolate, having now lost four straight mayoral elections to Republicans.

Yesterday, the Democratic Party engaged in deep soul-searching in the wake of its embarrassing defeat . . . .

It's puzzling that the Times could be so ignorant of what it means to be a Republican in New York.  Just as a Democrat in Texas is a Republican with a different party label, a New York Republican isn't far removed from a Democrat.  In fact, Michael Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat who only became Republican because he faced less opposition on that side of the primary ballot when he sought the nomination for mayor in 2001.

Throughout my entire childhood in New York, Jacob Javits was senator, while Nelson Rockefeller was governor.  These men, with their socially liberal attitudes (pro-choice, pro-gay rights), like Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani, would not be considered ideologically pure enough by the Taliban wing of the Republican party.  In fact, "Rockefeller Republican" became a term of opprobrium for labeling such politicians.  These days, it's usually replaced by the acronym RINO, Republican in Name Only.

Even so, if, like Bloomberg, you're going to be a Rockefeller Republican in a Democratic city, it helps to have the wealth of a Rockefeller to finance your own campaign.

12:03:42 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Just Say No

Today's LA Times front page headline says it all: "No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No." 

It's not a temper tantrum thrown by a recalcitrant child, but the response of Kollyphonia's voters to the eight referenda offered to them, including four sponsored by our action-hero governor.

Ironically, Proposition 80, electricity re-regulation, suffered the worst defeat, losing by a two-thirds margin.  This measure was in part a response to the Enron-engineered statewide power shortages and blackouts of 2001 that were a principal impetus for the recall of Der Terminator's predecessor, Gray Davis.

Thus did the citizenry, confused by an endless barrage of attack and counterattack ads, vote out the baby with the bathwater.

This morning on NPR's Morning Edition, I heard some tape of a chant by victorious union members whose political contributions to the Democrats da gubnah had sought to curtail with his failed "paycheck protection" Proposition 75:

"We nurse, we teach, you can't restrict our speech!"

Okay, so it's not quite as euphonious and stirring as "El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!" but it will suffice.

As for Schwarzie himself, today's money quote is "There is much, much work that has to be done."  Note the use of the passive voice, favored by politicians when seeking to deflect blame, as in Ronald Reagan's diagnosis of the Iran-Contra scandal, "Mistakes were made."

Votes were cast.  A power-hungry politician's Godlike attempt to remake the state in his own image has been thwarted. 

10:53:59 AM    comment []  

  Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Brenda Starr, Reporter

Typo of the day, from Huffingtonpost, from a headline that seems like an inadvertent reference to the Judith Miller scandal and/or the replacement of CNN's Aaron Brown by Anderson Cooper:

Hundreds Of News Stars Igniting...
Hundreds of new stars are igniting in the wake of intense gravitational interactions between four galaxies, new observations reveal.

The four galaxies -- called Robert's Quartet -- lie about 160 million light years from Earth in the southern constellation Phoenix. They are crowded into a space just 150,000 light years across -- only 1.5 times the width of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

12:20:25 PM    comment []  

  Monday, November 07, 2005

Powah to da Peepul

Residents of the flyover states must be overjoyed that they're not involved in the off-year election tumult, unlike voters on both coasts.

Last night while channel surfing, I chanced upon a C-SPAN broadcast of a 
debate between the two plutocratic gubernatorial candidates from New Jersey.  It was nothing but mudslinging and name calling, like two little kids in a schoolyard.  Presiding over the festivities was veteran newsman Gabe Pressman, who I haven't seen since I became a transplanted New Yorker nearly 30 years ago.  He looks 100 years old and has shrunk to the size of a Hobbit.

In New York, all indications are that the results of the New York mayoralty race will not approach the closeness of yesterday's
marathon, with a margin of only a single step between the winner and the second place finisher.  Certainly Ferrer is at an unfair disadvantage when it comes to campaign financing, but it doesn't help his cause that he looks like Groucho Marx.  And as Bush would say of the incumbent, "Bloomie, you're doin' a heck of a job."

Meanwhile, out here on the left coast, the choice for we, da peepul of Kollyphonia, in tomorrow's $50 million speshul elekshun is clear.  If da Gubnah is for it, vote against it.   If da Gubnah is against it, vote for it.  His
decline and fall has to be one of the fastest-ever ascents and descents in American political history.  It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

12:16:47 PM    comment []  

No Saints

I often attend All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena at Christmas with my neighbors, not out of any desire to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior (or even my personal trainer), but mainly to listen to their excellent baroque music ensemble, plus the stirring sermons, which usually have more to do with issues like fighting HIV and poverty and Africa than explicit anti-Bushism.

Now comes this:

The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.

Rector J. Edwin Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena told many congregants during morning services Sunday that a guest sermon by the church's former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, on Oct. 31, 2004, had prompted a letter from the IRS.

On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church … " The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

Of course, the evangelical Bush supporters will never lose their tax exemptions, since they obviously don't engage in anti-abortion and anti-gay politics.  Nor would the Vatican ever take a political stand, such as recommending denying communion to pro-choice politicians like John Kerry.  And the Bush regime would never do anything as tawdry as maintaining a Nixonian enemies' list and using the IRS against them.

12:15:31 PM    comment []  

  Sunday, November 06, 2005

Political Football

While surfing the NFL's web site, I ran across one of their best-selling items, a Pat Tillman jersey, with proceeds benefitting the Pat Tillman Foundation.

Tillman is the first NFL player to die in combat since the Vietnam War and the first NFL veteran to receive the Silver Star . . .

Frank Rich elaborates on "The Mysterious Death of Pat Tillman":

On April 30, an official Army press release announcing his Silver Star citation filled in vivid details of his last battle. Tillman, it said, was storming a hill to take out the enemy, even as he “personally provided suppressive fire with an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon machine gun.”

It would be a compelling story, if only it were true. Five weeks after Tillman’s death, the Army acknowledged abruptly, without providing details, that he had “probably” died from friendly fire. Many months after that, investigative journalists at The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times reported that the Army’s initial portrayal of his death had been not only bogus but also possibly a cover-up of something darker. “The records show that Tillman fought bravely and honorably until his last breath,” Steve Coll wrote in The Post in December 2004. “They also show that his superiors exaggerated his actions and invented details as they burnished his legend in public, at the same time suppressing details that might tarnish Tillman’s commanders.”

Since we now know that Tillman actually died from friendly fire, does this mean that anyone who wears a Tillman football jersey risks being tackled by his own teammates?

10:42:31 PM    comment []  

  Saturday, October 29, 2005

Fear of Flying

When a reporter at his press conference suggested that perjury was just a technicality, Patrick Fitzgerald had a ready answer: "That talking point won't fly," and then he went on to explain why.

"If it is proven that the chief of staff to the vice president went before a federal grand jury and lied under oath repeatedly and fabricated a story . . . that is a very, very serious matter," said Fitzgerald, 44, licking his lips frequently and moving his eyes back and forth across the line of eight cameras. "The truth is the engine of our judicial system, and if you compromise the truth, the whole process is lost."

With several major airlines in bankruptcy and the avian flu rapidly spreading, it remains to be seen which Republican talking points, if any, will fly.

12:33:22 PM    comment []  

  Friday, October 28, 2005

I, Lewis Libby

Just to avoid confusion:

I. Lewis Libby, a/k/a "Scooter," Dick Cheney's chief of staff, has just been indicted on five counts (The I. stands for Irving).

Libby Lewis is a reporter for NPR who covered the story today.

Today, on KCRW's show "Left, Right and Center," Tony Blankley made the mother of all Freudian slips and called Libby "Liddy."

G. Gordon Liddy, I. Lewis Libby.  There's a rap lyric lurking there someplace.

You can't trust a man who uses an initial to conceal his first name.

11:01:26 AM    comment []  

  Thursday, October 27, 2005

Off Base

In the end, what brought down the Harriet Miers nomination for the Supreme Court wasn't the Democrats, but the Republican party's religious fundamentalist base.

In Arabic, the word for "base" is Al Qaeda.

6:11:08 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Feta Accompli

According to NPR:

The European Union's highest court has ruled that feta cheese is a traditional Greek product that deserves protection throughout the 25-nation block. As a result, non-Greek European feta producers will not be allowed to call their product "feta."

I've always found Greek feta to be rather dry and tasteless.  In my experience, the best feta is Israeli -- light, most, and just the right amount of salt.  I wonder whether the Palestinians produce feta.

Presumably feta produced in the Middle East would not be bound by EU naming restrictions and could still be called feta.  But wars have been started on flimsier pretexts.  Take, for example, Iraq. 

7:56:32 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Breakfast with Bush

One big disadvantage of living in the Pacific time zone is that if you're in the habit of turning on cable news broadcasts upon awakening, your day is frequently ruined by starting it with a Bush speech.

Today's edition recycled all the old fallacies about the Iraq war and much of the same simplistic phraseology we've all heard for years, accompanied by the usual truculent and petulant body language.  Bush is like the Texan in Paris who can't get the French to understand his English, so he shouts at them.

The audience for today's speech was the Jointed Armed Forces Officers' Wives Luncheon.  Eventually, Bush will run out of friendly adult audiences to appear before and will be reduced to speaking at the Joined Armed Forces Officers' Children's Nap Time.

10:02:45 AM    comment []  

  Friday, October 21, 2005


In today's LA Times, Bill Maher suggests moving Saddam Hussein's trial to LA.

So, whadda ya say, Saddam? Who doesn't want to have their trial in L.A.? It's always sunny, our juries are stupid, and you get to show up to court in your pajamas. And unlike Iraq, we have good lawyers. In Baghdad, they'll say you gassed the Kurds, but that's not the way it'll come out when Tom Mesereau or Bob Shapiro is representing you.

Since both Saddam's and Tom DeLay's lawyers have been claiming that they can't get a fair trial and have been asking for a change of venue, let's give both of them what they want.  Try Saddam in the USA and DeLay in Baghdad.  While the latter's lawyers continue to file incessant motions to dismiss the charges and DeLay the trial, their client can enjoy the sumptuous lodgings at Abu Ghraib.

12:14:02 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hail and Farewell

I don't know whether the recent spate of natural disasters -- hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, floods in the northeast, earthquakes in Pakistan, bird flu in Asia and Europe -- means Jesus is coming, Allah is coming, or Zeus is coming, but I can refute the various cable news reports today that claimed Southern California's torrential precipitation included "walnut-sized hail."

The hail was actually only almond-sized -- or if you prefer a more multicultural reference, garbanzo bean-sized.

1:08:26 PM    comment []  

  Monday, October 17, 2005

Anchors Aweigh

Ted Koppel, who became famous with his "America Held Hostage" broadcasts in 1979 (I don't know about you, but I wasn't held hostage) will anchor his last "Nightline" on November 22nd.  ABC has decided to replace him with a team of three anchors -- Martin Bashir, Terry Moran and Cynthia McFadden.

Three anchors ought to be more than enough to sink the show.

10:14:04 PM    comment []  

  Friday, October 14, 2005

Funny, you don't look Amish

CNN reported an outbreak of polio in an Amish community in Minnesota.  Their reporter made an unfortunate choice of simile (soundbite transcribed by me from broadcast):

"Many Amish steer away from technology and avoid vaccinations like the plague."

10:48:35 AM    comment []  

  Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Repentenance with Disclaimer

Tonight begins Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonment.   We fast for 24 hours and then break the fast tomorrow night, usually with an display of gluttony that erases whatever caloric benefits the fasting may have bestowed.

Unlike the poor Catholics, who have to attend confession regularly, Jews store up their sins for a year and then atone for them all at once.  Then we go back to screwing our fellow man (and woman) the next day.  This could be why there are so many Jewish agents and producers in Hollywood.

This year I'm planning to try something new by prefacing my Yom Kippur atonement prayers with a Bush-like post-Katrina weasel word statement: "To the extent that I haven't fully conducted my life right, I take responsibility."  

Then, just for good measure, I'm going to find some fall guy to blame all my bad behavior on.

If no further entries appear on this blog within a few days, you'll know that the Almighty, in all his fury, has rejected my alibis and obliterated me from the face of the Earth.

10:53:11 AM    comment []  

  Friday, October 07, 2005


Molly Ivins supplies some critical background on Harriet Miers:

Miers' church states on its website that it believes in biblical inerrancy, full immersion baptism, original sin and salvation dependent entirely upon accepting Jesus Christ. Everyone else is going to hell.

So what?  Under Bush's stewardship, the whole country is going to hell anyway.

2:24:53 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, October 06, 2005

Shirt Happens

A woman was ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight today because some passengers found her t-shirt offensive.

The shirt had pictures of members of the Bush Administration, and a phrase based on the movie "Meet the Fockers," but with one crucial vowel changed.

Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Marilee McInnis says the shirt became an issue after several passengers complained as they boarded.

McInnis says Southwest rules allow the airline to deny boarding to any passenger whose clothing is offensive. But American Civil Liberties Union officials say Heasley's T-shirt is "protected" political speech under the Constitution.

By my count, Bush uttered the word "freedom" 19 times in today's speech about the War on Terror.  We should all be grateful for the freedom to agree with the policies of the Bush regime.

12:41:58 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, September 29, 2005

Blunt Instrument

When Robert "The Torch" Torricelli resigned as Senator from New Jersey in 2002 amid a campaign finance scandal, Calvin Trillin wrote:

The Torch could not make folks forget
The graft for which he's cited
The only slogan left to use
Was "Never been indicted"

Tom DeLay no longer has the luxury of making such a claim.

For a while, it seemed like DeLay would be replaced by David Dreier, who happens to be my congressman.   With his telegenic looks and blow-dried hair -- I call him Blow-Dreier -- he has a certain superficial appeal that DeLay lacks.

Dreier has far better TV skills than anyone in the Republican caucus, something that would be necessary to warm up the party's image outside of its base.

But then the base decided it didn't want the party's image warmed up, since Dreier, with his support for stem-cell research, doesn't meet their Taliban social agenda litmus test, so House whip Roy Blunt of Missouri got the job instead.

Just imagine all the benefits of having your congressman become majority leader . He could have brought us even more Homeland Security pork projects, such as a seawall to protect us from hurricanes and tsunamis.  Never mind that Dreier's district is 40 miles from the ocean.

2:40:45 PM    comment []  

  Monday, September 26, 2005

The Virtuosity of Conservers

According to the NY Times:

President Bush called on Americans to conserve gasoline and avoid non-essential driving today as the average national prices for retail gasoline climbed higher for the first time since they peaked over the Labor Day weekend.

"We can all pitch in by being better conservers," Mr. Bush said after being briefed on the situation at the Energy Department.

It remains to be seen whether Bush will henceforth travel to his post-hurricane photo-ops in the Goodyear Blimp rather than Air Force One, but apparently he no longer endorses Cheney's assertion that  "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy."

Although walking is practically illegal in Southern California, I do so whenever possible, and when I drive, it's a fuel-efficient subcompact car, not a gas-guzzling Hummer like our action-hero governor motors around in.

I guess that makes me what Bush would call a virtuoso conversationalist.

11:00:41 AM    comment []  

  Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hannah and Her Sisters, Rita & Katrina

Watching the Hurricane Rita news footage of water cascading through a New Orleans levee and once again flooding the lower 9th ward, adding insult to Hurricane Katrina's injury, brought to my mind some music.  It wasn't the familiar Randy Newman song "Louisiana 1927" sung by Aaron Neville that the media have been beating to death, but a far older tune with even more appropriate lyrics:

I saw her at the seashore with a great big pan
There was Hannah, pouring water on a drowning man
She's hard-hearted Hannah
The vamp of Savannah, GA.

12:12:14 PM    comment []  

  Friday, September 23, 2005

Gone with the Wind

As Hurricane Rita continues barrelling relentlessly toward Houston, Port Arthur and Beaumont, I can't help thinking that with all our technological know-how, there must be some way to spare the residents of the Gulf Coast and divert it west to the presidential retreat at Crawford. So much the better if he happens to be there at the time. That way we could clear Bush along with clearing brush.

Or as Tom Waits said at a benefit concert in New York, "I wish New Orleans was dry and Washington was underwater."

1:18:32 PM    comment []  

  Monday, September 19, 2005

The Accidental President

According to CNN's summary of today's historic agreement with North Korea, one of the key provisions is:

U.S. declares it has no intention to invade North Korea.

Of course there's nothing to prevent us from launching an unintentional invasion.  Bush could just claim he was on vacation, as he usually is.

4:27:27 PM    comment []  

  Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dowd and Out

Today's Maureen Dowd column in the New York Times will be the last one that can be accessed on-line for free.  Starting Monday, the Times inaugurates a new feature euphemistically called "Times Select," whereby a $49.95 annual subscription will be required to read the op-ed page.

I'm a regular reader of Dowd's, Paul Krugman's and Bob Herbert's columns.  Sometimes I'm even foolish enough to read Thomas Friedman, the head cheerleader for globalization. 
But I don't intend to pay this fee and I suspect I'll have plenty of company.  It's one thing to charge for something from the outset and quite another to get people to pay for what they've been getting for free for years.

The LA Times found this out when they started charging for their Calendar section (It tells you a lot about a city when the only section in their on-line newspaper that you have to pay for deals with entertainment. There's no biz like show biz.).  The Times eventually abandoned its policy and made the section free again. 

It's a basic principle of business, especially the world's oldest business, prostitution:  If you give it away, nobody will pay.  You can set that rap lyric to the rhythm track of your choice, then lip-sync it to some Johnny Cochrane footage and have one of the LA Times' music critics review it in their Calendar section.

2:09:17 PM    comment []  

  Friday, September 16, 2005

Faith-Based FEMA

Speaking this morning during a prayer service for the hurricane victims at the National Cathedral, Bush fell into his most comfortable role: evangelical pastor.

"We are humbled by the vast and indifferent might of nature and feel small beside its power."

Bush seems to be vying with John Roberts for the humility award.  But at least he didn't call Ms. Nature a member of the Axis of Evil.

The subtext of today's speech is, if the hurricane has left you down and out, pray for help.

I heard an anchor on CNN this morning refer to "the Post-Katrina Era."  And here I thought we were living in the Post-9/11 Era.  I'm praying for an early arrival of the Post-Bush Era.

12:01:42 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, September 15, 2005

Jesus of Jackson Square

I don't know what Bush is going to say in his speech tonight, although I can guess ("We're going to complete the mission . . . stay the course . . . finish the job . . . in Iraq, I mean New Orleans.").

CNN describes the venue for the speech:

Rather than speak before a live audience, Bush is planning to stand alone and broadcast his message directly into the camera from the evacuated city's historic Jackson Square, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity since the site had not been announced.

The square and its most famed landmark, the St. Louis Cathedral, were on high enough ground to avoid flooding but did not escape damage from Katrina's 145-mph winds. Two massive oak trees outside the 278-year-old cathedral came out by the roots, ripping out a 30-foot section of ornamental iron fence and snapping off the thumb and forefinger of the outstretched hand on a marble statue of Jesus.

This means that even if Bush's speech doesn't put an end to the "blame game" the Republicans are so desperately trying to avoid, it won't be Jesus who's doing the finger-pointing.

And who knows, maybe Karl Rove can arrange some digital retouching of the statue so that it looks like Jesus is making the "okay" sign with his thumb and forefinger as Bush speaks.

If course, the most appropriate digital (in the original sense of the word) gesture for Jesus to make to Bush on behalf of New Orleanians would be an upraised middle finger.

12:15:39 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, September 13, 2005

March of the Morons

According to the NY Times science section, "March of the Penguins" is the biggest hit movie with conservatives since "The Passion of the Christ."  For them, it's The Passion of the Penguins.

"March of the Penguins," the conservative film critic and radio host Michael Medved said in an interview, is "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing."

Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, told the young conservatives' gathering last month: "You have to check out 'March of the Penguins.' It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy." 

Well, not exactly ideal, Rich.  Seems like you missed that little bit of narration in the movie that tells us the penguins' fidelity lasts for just a year.  The following year they find another mate.  Rather than monogamy, what the penguins practice is serial polygamy.

Among the "Hollywood liberal elite" so detested by conservatives, not even Elizabeth Taylor changes partners as often as the typical emperor penguin.

5:03:24 PM    comment []  

Charity begins at home

A spokesman for the Charity Navigator web site appeared on CNN this morning.  The site evaluates the financial health of America's largest charities and offers some guidelines for protecting yourself from Hurricane Katrina on-line charity scams. 

According to the FBI, there are about 4000 web sites offering hurricane charity relief services, and about 60 percent of them are overseas -- a telltale sign, especially if a site is in Nigeria or Russia, both notorious for identity theft and other scams.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force would be working on preventing and cracking down on disaster-related schemes including charity fraud and insurance fraud.

Gonzales said, "To anyone who is contemplating any kind of fraudulent scheme that takes advantage of Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath, let me be very clear: Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are watching carefully, and we will have zero tolerance for these kinds of crimes."

No doubt the Bush regime will stop hurricane-related fraud with the same ineptitude it has displayed in helping the hurricane victims themselves. 

Of course, the costliest hurricane relief scam won't be in cyberspace or overseas.  It will be right here in the good ol' USA, with massive overbilling on no-bid rebuilding contracts by companies like -- you guessed it, Bush's favorite charity, Halliburton.  What else do you think Dick Cheney was doing touring the Gulf last week?  In the movie business, it's called location scouting.

10:59:06 AM    comment []  

  Monday, September 12, 2005


This afternoon's Los Angeles power outage, caused by an accidentally severed power cable, reached as far as Burbank, 20 minutes from where I live, but did not affect my area.

Good thing Mike Brown doesn't run the LA Department of Water and Power, or we'd all have wound up huddled for weeks in the dark in Staples Center. 

10:24:58 PM    comment []  

Brown of Arabia

Q: Now that Mike Brown, former head of the Arabian Horse Association and slinger of horseshit, has been forced to resign as FEMA honcho, what would be appropriate as his next position?

A: Riding shotgun on horseback for Humvees in Iraq, so as to detect roadside improvised explosive devices.

12:14:46 PM    comment []  

  Sunday, September 11, 2005

Closing the US Open

With the US Open now over and Roger Federer having beaten Andre Agassi for the championship, tennis fans will no longer have to endure those annoying Lexus commercials featuring Andy Roddick, the celebrity endorsement whore of tennis.

Nor will we have to watch this commercial (I've seen it so many times that I've memorized it):

A young man approaches a young woman from behind, whispers something in her ear.  Shocked, she spins around and tries to slap him, but he adroitly ducks out of the way.

MAN: Nice swing.
WOMAN: Nice reflexes.
MAN (recognizing): Tennis.
WOMAN: Every weekend.  You?
MAN: Twice a week.
WOMAN (grudging smile): I can tell.
VOICE-OVER ANNOUNCER: Get fit, have fun, make friends.  Log on to

What they mean, of course, is "Get laid, have fun, make friends."

In tennis scoring, Love stands for zero.  Obviously the same isn't true of sex.

9:42:29 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cheney's Dick

Almost two weeks after Katrina descended on New Orleans, Bush dispatched his sidekick to apply some spin to the affected area.

"I think the progress we're making is significant," Cheney said.  "I think the performance, in general, at least in terms of the information I've received from locals, is definitely very impressive."

It's surprising he didn't claim that the devastation is in its last throes.

While Cheney spoke, a passer-by hurled an expletive at the vice president.  "First time I've heard it," Cheney said, when asked if he was hearing a lot of such sentiments.

Cheney's cardiovascular maladies are well know, but apparently he suffers from hearing loss too.

1:04:39 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Invaders from the Planet Oblivion

What I've always disliked about the Williams sisters is their unwillingness to concede when they lose to a superior opponent.  They always make lame excuses, as Venus did last night after losing to Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open:

"I was playing decent and she started playing really bad and it totally
threw me off," Williams said, whose lack of graciousness after the match
equaled her lack of precision during it. "She started hitting these
really weird shots and short balls, just weird stuff. Next thing I knew I
was playing as bad as she was. She was able to recover. I just wasn't. I
guess maybe it was a good strategy."
But then, as the NY Times points out:
If advised correctly, Serena Williams would not have celebrated herself as a philanthropist by offering $100 per ace to hurricane relief when her dog, Jackie, travels in a designer handbag that costs many times that much.

If anyone in her management group had prepped her, Venus Williams would not have used an unfortunate line like, "I really don't watch the news," when asked about the devastation in New Orleans.

But then, you don't have to be a self-absorbed athlete to make clueless statements like "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" and  "Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

Maybe Bush should offer the Williams sisters cabinet posts.  They could be co-commissioners of sports in the Department of Homeland Security. 

2:27:21 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Bolshevik Open

Commentating today during USA network's broadcast of the US Open, Jim Courier described  Lleyton Hewitt's counterpunching style of tennis as follows (soundbite transcribed by me):

"Hewitt gives you the rope to hang yourself with."

Courier has thus become the first commentator to apply Leninist analysis to tennis: "A capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him with."

11:51:21 AM    comment []  

  Saturday, September 03, 2005

Delta Blues

According to the LA Times:

A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN -- one that is eerily similar to pre-Katrina New Orleans -- sits in the center of California. It is the 738,000-acre Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a maze of sloughs, channels and islands that funnel water from the two rivers westward into San Francisco Bay. The problem is that the delta's waters are kept on track by an estimated 1,100 miles of levees, some dating to the 1860s, that are mostly in poor repair and suffering from sporadic, underfinanced maintenance.

Southern Californians have to be concerned because the delta is the source of an average 20% to 30% of their water. It also provides irrigation water for some of the richest farming land in the world, in the San Joaquin Valley. . . .

Professor Jeffrey Mount of UC Davis calculates that there is a 2-in-3 chance of a massive levee collapse in the next 50 years. Some experts say an earthquake in the region the size of the 1994 Northridge temblor could result in up to 30 levee breaks.

With the Bush regime showing such incompetence in dealing with the emergency needs of two red states, Louisana and Mississippi,  one can only imagine the fate that blue state Californians would be abandoned to if the delta levees collapsed. 

5:29:37 PM    comment []  

  Friday, September 02, 2005

Department of Domeland Security

As Molly Ivins points out:

. . . the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation left by the hurricane. About 35 percent of Louisiana's National Guard is now serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. Recruiting for the Guard is also down significantly because people are afraid of being sent to Iraq if they join, leaving the Guard even more short-handed.

The Louisiana National Guard also notes that dozens of its high-water vehicles, Humvees, refuelers and generators have also been sent abroad. (I hate to be picky, but why do they need high-water vehicles in Iraq?)

The levees of New Orleans, two of which are now broken and flooding the city, were also victims of Iraq war spending. Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said on June 8, 2004, "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq."

Meanwhile, according to a report from CNNthe Astrodome is no longer a haven for the evacuees from the New Orleans Superdome:

The Houston Astrodome in Texas, where thousands of refugees had been bused over the past couple of days, stopped accepting refugees late Thursday. However, authorities later decided to process evacuees at the Astrodome and house them in the nearby Reliant Arena, said Patrick Trahan, a city spokesman. Other New Orleans refugees are being taken to the Texas cities of Huntsville, San Antonio and Dallas.

Let's hope Reliant Arena lives up to its name; it used to carry the Enron logo.  Huntsville, of course, is the end of the line, where more executions are performed than anyplace else in the nation.  And the person who signed off on many of those executions was -- you guessed it, Gov. G. Dubya Bush.

If all else fails, maybe they could build a Fallujahdome large enough to house not only the refugees from that city, which the US military had to destroy in order to save, but also the ones from New Orleans.   Then they could construct some levees on the Euphrates to protect against a Category 5 sandstorm.  At least it would be a more approriate use of funds than the war.

4:06:30 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, August 30, 2005

El Rancho del Pendejo

The LA Times questions whether Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford is really a ranch.

. . .  with a handful of cattle now on the property, some Texans suggest that calling the place a ranch could be considered a stretch.

"There are some guys that are all hat and no cattle. The president's not that way; he's hat and five cattle," joked Austin lawyer and former U.S. Rep. Kent R. Hance, who as a Democrat beat Bush in a 1978 congressional race by portraying him as an Ivy League interloper.

It's probably a tax dodge, the same way Steve Forbes keeps a few head of cattle on his property in New Jersey and calls it a farm. 

I actually could have driven a half hour east yesterday to not to the Prairie Chapel Ranch, but to Rancho Cucamonga -- an area of suburban sprawl that's even less of a ranch than Bush's spread -- to see Bush in person, but it hardly seemed worth the effort to hear the same old lies I can get on TV and radio, and I'm sure they wouldn't have let me in, since as usual his audience was hand-picked to allow only supporters, lest he be traumatized by having to confront substantive questions.  The opposition assembled outside:

In Rancho Cucamonga, 40 miles east of Los Angeles, hundreds of anti-war protesters chanting "Impeach Bush" and carrying sigs that said "Bush lies, soldiers die" and "War is terrorism" stood on a corner . . . .

The increasing number of such demonstrations shows that no matter what the number of cattle Bush has on his ranch, the American populace is not as bovine as it used to be.

2:30:14 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ignorance is Bliss

Bush began his speech today in Idaho by praising local dignitaries like Senator Mike Crapo, then he fed us more of the same old Crapola about Iraq ("We're fighting the terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here," "Iraq is the central front in the war on terror," "When Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down," etc.) 

This was followed by an NPR story on the expansion of Fort Bliss, while many other US military bases are being closed.

With all the base closures and Pentagon realignment, one of the few places to gain is Fort Bliss in Texas.

The story opened with a description of soldiers at Fort Bliss jogging before dawn.  They won't be doing much of that in the streets of Iraq.

12:23:44 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, August 23, 2005


According to CNN, the Israeli settler pullout from all of Gaza and several West Bank settlements is now complete.

Israel evacuated the last settlers and protesters from the West Bank settlement of Homesh on Tuesday, the military said, completing its historic withdrawal of civilians from 25 settlements in Gaza and the West Bank.

It should come as no surprise that the Israelis completed the withdrawal ahead of schedule.  After all, they've had 38 years of practice evacuating Palestinians from their homes to make room for settlers.

1:03:12 PM    comment []  

  Monday, August 22, 2005

Switched-On Gender

Excerpt from NPR's obituary for Robert Moog:

It's been said that the Moog synthesizer is as important to popular music as the electric guitar. Robert Moog, a pioneer in the world of electronic music, died Sunday at age 71. He had been known to be suffering from a brain tumor in the last months of his life.

They went on to attribute the commercial success of the synthesizer to Wendy Carlos' best-selling album, "Switched-On Bach."  What they neglected to mention was that Wendy Carlos was born Walter Carlos, and later had gender change surgery.  Try doing that with a synthesizer. 

6:04:56 PM    comment []  

Semper Fi

Today's Bush speech at the VFW convention in Salt Lake City featured the usual display of odd body language, including his trademark smirk, deployed at incongruous moments.   He laid on the Texas accent with a trowel ("The United States") and dropped his Gs to sound folksy . ("We're workin' to defeat the terrorists" . . . "We're gettin' results" . . . "They're producin' a constitution").  He looked like he couldn't decide whether he was Churchill or Audie Murphy.

Karl Rove could save everyone a lot of time and money by just re-running footage of old Bush speeches, since they're all basically the same, designed to maintain the image of decisiveness (soundbites transcribed by me from CNN broadcast):

"This is a different kind of war" (even if Chuck Hagel thinks it looks like Vietnam)
"They're tryin' to shake our will." (meaning his will)
"As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down."
"Iraq is a central front in the war on terror." (and he made it that way)
"Free societies are peaceful societies."
"We're movin' forward with resolve." (That household cleaner again, Resolve)

In other words, "I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, but I'm going to keep on doing it."

At one point he tried to conflate the fiasco in Iraq with WWII and Korea:

"From the beaches of Normandy to the shores of Korea . . ."

I fully expected him to burst into song: "From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli . . ."

Well, at least he didn't wear his flight suit.

11:46:04 AM    comment []  

  Tuesday, August 16, 2005

You've gotta buy this car, it's a steal

This explains why LA freeway traffic has been so heavy lately:

The busy season for stolen cars has started, according to Los Angeles County police officials. Police and the Automobile Club of Southern California, pointing to statistics that show a spike this time of year, are urging motorists to lock and monitor their cars.

2:48:03 PM    comment []  

  Monday, August 15, 2005

Lingua Franca

CNN lost no time in creating a "Deadlock in Iraq" graphic for their story about the delay in drafting the Iraqi constitution.  The only thing missing was a rhythm track to go with the unintentional rap music title.

During the pre-game warmup for Condominium Rice's press conference on the subject, Wolf Blitzer profiled the US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilizad, whom Rice calls "Zal" in the charming folksy manner of the Bush regime.  I transcribed the following Blitzer soundbite from the broadcast:

"Not only was he [Khalilizad] born in Afghanistan, he's a Muslim, he speaks Arabic."

Of course, just as Jews the world over speak Hebrew, all Muslims -- especially those in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country -- speak Arabic.

In fact, the Afghans gave up their native tongues, Dari and Pashto, the moment bin Laden and his entourage arrived, and immediately began speaking Arabic.

Appropriately, the appearance of the ignorant asshole Blitzer on CNN was sponsored by Freedhem, the one-application hemorrhoidal cream.

7:06:49 PM    comment []  

The Greenhouse Effect

According to a report on NPR's Weekend Edition:

A deal announced last week arranges for the Palestinian Authority to purchase and run greenhouses from Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip, allowing the multimillion-dollar agricultural business to continue after the planned Israeli pullout from settlements begins later this week. Liane Hansen speaks with Steven Cohen of the Israel Policy Forum.

It remains to be seen whether this boost to Gaza's economy will advance the peace process and counteract the White House Effect -- i.e. Bush's carte blanche endorsement of everything Sharon does, including the expansion of West Bank settlements. 

12:58:01 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, August 11, 2005

Vamos a Tejas

According to CNN:

Texas has become the fourth state to have a non-white majority population, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday, a trend driven by a surging number of Latinos moving to the state.

That means we can look forward to more Texan politicians like Bush speaking bad Spanish in order to pander to the new majority.

12:36:07 PM    comment []  

  Monday, August 08, 2005

Anchor Management

One of KCRW's on-air fundraisers gave a brief eulogy for ABC anchorman Peter Jennings today (soundbite transcribe by me):

"Jennings was a great journalist in the tradition of William F. Murrow."

That's an arresting image, cloning and merging Edward R. Murrow and William F. Buckley -- producing a chain-smoking journalist who likes to show off his vocabulary.

1:39:10 PM    comment []  

  Friday, August 05, 2005

Ipsos Factos

According to a poll conducted by the international firm Ipsos and reported by CNN, Bush's polling numbers on the Iraq fiasco have hit an all-time low, and Republicans are getting worried about the 2006 election.

William Anderson, a retired Republican from Fort Worth, Texas, said Bush "has the right intentions, but he's going about them the wrong way."

You could change the two adjectives "right" and "wrong" to produce three more permutations of that statement -- in the same way that publishers could develop sequels to the best-selling books "Smart Women, Foolish Choices" and "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by shuffling the adjectives..

Seeing the photo that accompanied CNN's article, with a truculent Bush jutting his jaw in an apparent bad impersonation of Mussolini, made me think the publishers should work on some additional wording changes to come up with more relevant sequels:

"Dumb Presidents, Foolish Choices"

"When Bad Things Happen to Self-Righteous People"

1:31:22 PM    comment []  

  Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tape Wars

Today's tape by Ayman al-Zawahiri, broadcast on Al Jazeera, was full of the usual blood-curdling rhetoric:

" . . . you spilled rivers of blood in our countries, and we exploded volcanoes of anger in your countries."

Bush responded with the usual volcano of stupidity about staying the course, completing the mission, and finishing the job (soundbite transcribed by me from CNN broadcast):

" . . . You see, he's threatening us . . ."

It's another acute observation from the Bush Book of Revelations.

According to CNN:

A U.S. intelligence official told CNN the video was being analyzed, but quickly pointed out that "there has never been a false tape" from al-Zawahiri.

On the other hand, analysis of all the Bush broadcasts since 9/11 would likely reveal all of them to be fakes.

11:18:37 AM    comment []  

  Monday, August 01, 2005

Not hot to trot for GWOT

This morning, announcing his recess appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN, Bush said (soundbite transcribed by me from CNN broadcast):

"This post is too important to leave open, especially during a war . . ."

Richard Myers should have taken him aside and reminded him that it's no longer called the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), but the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism (GSAVE) -- the latter forming a catchy acronym that sounds like something available in your local bank.

Thus, what Bush should have said was, "This post is too important to leave open, especially during a struggle . . ."

And he should continually remind Americans that "I'm a struggletime president."

New counterinsurgency tactics will continue to be developed at the Army Struggle College, where the new anthem will be:

Ain't gonna study war no more
No, I ain't gonna study war no more

It all sounds to me like a strategy to weaken the anti-struggle movement by using the kind of weasel words Republicans used to deride when they were uttered by Clinton.  Or as a latter-day Pat Buchanan might say, "This is a struggle for the soul of America." 

2:33:59 PM    comment []  

  Sunday, July 31, 2005

Let them eat yellowcake

During every Baby Boomer's childhood, the operative parental injunction for fussy eaters was, "Eat your food.  People are starving in Europe."  Presumably this was a reference to Berliners picking through the postwar rubble.

These days, with Europeans vying with Americans for obesity honors, the famine venue has shifted to nations like Niger, hitherto best know  for false allegations by the Bush regime that the country was supplying yellowcake uranium for Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program -- which later triggered the continuing scandal over the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame by Karl Rove.

This weekend, in an unintentional slap in the face to the people of Niger, ESPN's broadcast from Las Vegas featured the Alka Seltzer US Open of Competitive Eating, a sporting event that rivals for excitement ESPN's previous broadcasts of the National Spelling Bee and the World Series of Poker.

While the commentators provided expert analysis on such little-known athletic attributes as jaw speed, esophagous width, cheek size and stomach capacity, the competitors literally stuffed their faces with such comestibles as salad, chili, spaghetti bolognese, and potato skins, racing against each other to see who could injest the most within a predetermined time period.

Contrary to what one might suppose, the largest competitors did not turn out to be the fastest eaters.  The champion is a diminutive young man from Japan named Takeru Kobayashi.  He's a legend in the world of competitive eating and has been winning the Nathan's hot dog eating championship in Brooklyn for years.  Kobayashi seems to have the uncanny ability to inhale his food, leaving his opponents choking and sputtering in his wake.

Presumably if the ratings for this Competitive Eating event turn out to be high enough, ESPN will follow it with the US Open of Competitive Regurgitating and Excreting, sponsored by Pepto-Bismol and Ex-lax .  It will not be broadcast in Niger.

11:20:10 AM    comment []  

  Friday, July 29, 2005

National Geographic's London

I found the various TV reports of today's London police raids confusing.  First they said the raids were in West Kensington, where I happen to have some friends.  Then they said North Kensington.  Then they said West London.  Finally, they mentioned Notting Hill. 

As far as I'm concerned, all these neighborhoods look exactly alike, especially when viewed in TV broadcasts.  They all have the same endless rows of neo-Georgian, pseudo-Palladian, Gothic Revival, post-Victorian buildings.

Notting Hill, however, stands apart from the rest, since not even the stun grenades and tasers used by the police could divert Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts from their romantic encounter.

12:26:48 PM    comment []  

  Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Attack of the Killer Trees

According to footage broadcast this morning by MSNBC, the Discovery shuttle crew was awakened this morning by a recording of Sonny and Cher singing "I Got You Babe."

Let's hope Discovery has a less eventful trajectory than Sonny, whose fateful encounter with a tree while skiing on Orion's Run at Heavenly Valley brought his political career to an untimely end.

11:11:23 AM    comment []  

  Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Snowdonia Rules the Waves

According to BBC News, two of the July 7th London bombers took a whitewater rafting trip in North Wales a month earlier.

Two of the London bombers went whitewater rafting together in Snowdonia a month before they carried out the attacks, it has emerged.

Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, and Shehzad Tanweer, 22, rode the rapids at Canolfan Tryweryn, the National Whitewater Centre, at Bala on 4 June.

It is believed both Khan, who was a teaching assistant at a Leeds school, and Tanweer, a sports science graduate, organised outdoor adventure trips for young Muslims from the city.

It remains to be seen whether the purpose of the excursion was purely recreational, or whether Khan and Tanweer were training to hijack canoes on the Thames and crash them into Buckingham Palace.

4:09:48 PM    comment []  

Grueling Times

In an op-ed piece in today's LA Times, John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge contrast the reactions of the British and American publics to terrorism on their native soil.

Another big difference between Britain and the U.S. is the balance of power between left and right, especially in the world of ideas. In the U.S., the anti-war left has long been balanced -- many would say outgunned  -- by the right-wing intelligentsia. In Britain, the conservative intelligentsia offers remarkably thin gruel; the left dominates both the universities and the BBC. Even middle-of-the-road members of the chattering classes tend to blame the West for committing innumerable atrocities and assume that terrorists act out of poverty and frustration rather than nihilism and fanaticism.

The only objection I have to this assertion is the use of "intelligentsia" to describe the right wing in America.  "Unintelligentsia" would be more accurate, since Neocons like Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld got everything wrong about what the results of the invasion of Iraq would be.  In fact, I don't think the word "intelligence" should ever be used in any context, military or otherwise, when describing the Bush regime.

I do like that British phrase "thin gruel," though.  It sounds like a breakfast I once had in London.

10:42:27 AM    comment []  

  Monday, July 25, 2005

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Patrick Cockburn has a report in the Sunday Independent whose title tells you everything you need to know: "Iraq has descended into chaos way beyond West's worst-case scenario."

For all the newspaper and television coverage of Iraq the foreign media still fail to convey the lethal and anarchic quality of day-to-day living. . . . The bombers have paralysed Baghdad. . . .  The country has never been as dangerous as it is today.

Baghdad must present even more peril to someone like Cockburn, whose mobility is hindered by the polio he had in childhood.

Still, it's probably safer than being a Brazilian electrician in London, when an aged Sherlock Holmes, no longer in full possession of his faculties, sends an equally superannuated Agent 007 out to fire seven shots into your head and one into your shoulder for good measure.

Soon we shall witness another venerable British tradition, as the barristers don their periwigs and debate the merits of a wrongful death lawsuit.  The only thing missing is Alistair Cooke to introduce the story.

10:58:01 PM    comment []  

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Today on NPR's "Day to Day," Ron Elving pontificated about current domestic political issues facing the Bush regime:

NPR Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving discusses the issues coming up this week in national politics, including the potential fight over the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court, and the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity to the news media.

While discussing the CIA leak, he referred to the protagonists as Joe Wilson, Al Gonzales, and Andy Card.  Mercifully, he did not call the CIA agent herself Val Plame.

This is all part of the Dan Rather syndrome, wherein newsmakers are referred with names like Tim McVeigh, Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling and Bernie Ebbers -- not to mention the Bush syndrome, where terrorists are described as "the folks who did this".

In a country where anybody can grow up to be president (provided that he's the son of a president), it's reassuring to know that we can call our political and economic leaders by their schoolyard names.

1:52:26 PM    comment []  

  Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Tour de Iraq

Now that Lance Armstrong has retired from professional cycling after winning his record seventh straight Tour de France, MSNBC speculates on what he'll do with the rest of his life:

Now he is looking ahead to turning 34 in September and new horizons: everyday life, the fight against cancer and maybe -- so far, it’s still just a maybe -- elected office.

"To me politics are about fighting for what you believe is right," he said Thursday. "I’ve always done that on the bike, on a purely sporting level, but also on another level."

That's just what the world needs, another Texan in the White House -- although Armstrong couldn't possibly be as Headstrong as the reckless fool currently occupying the Oval Office.

Who knows, having devoted so much of his life to cycling, maybe he'll now support re-cycling and conservation, rather than trashing the environment and maintaining that "the jury is still out" on global warming.

And if politics is show business for ugly people, is it also sports for overweight people?

11:08:58 AM    comment []  

  Thursday, July 21, 2005

Nature and terrorists abhor a vacuum

While Londoners soldiered on despite today's attempted underground bombings and MSNBC trotted out some shrink to explain the psychology of terrorism, our own fearless leader put forth his analysis of the situation (soundbite transcribed by me from CNN broadcast):

"They're trying to shake our will.  They're trying to create vacuums into which their ideology can move."

This could go down in history as Bush's Black Hole Theory of Terrorism.

Bush's brief TV appearance was accompanied by the usual anomalous body language -- smirking, jaw jutting, shoulder shrugging -- that left me waiting for musical accompaniment to his exhortations to Americans to remain steadfast and strong-willed:

You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain
Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will
Oh what a thrill
Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!

10:30:54 AM    comment []  

  Monday, July 18, 2005

Wherever he may Rove

"We have a serious ongoing investigation here" is the mantra being uttered repeatedly by Bush and his mouthpiece Scott McClellan.  As opposed to, say, the frivolous ongoing investigation of Clinton's sex life conducted by Kenneth Starr.

According to CNN today:

President Bush told reporters Monday that if anyone committed a crime in connection with the leak of a CIA agent's identity, "they will no longer work in my administration."

Of course, that doesn't preclude anyone's working with his administration as a private consultant.

Pretty soon, Bush will raise the bar even higher and say that anyone proven to have weapons of mass destruction will no longer work in his administration.

Is all this starting to sound like the kind of parsing and hairsplitting that Republicans always accuse Democrats of doing?  It depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

12:15:17 PM    comment []  

  Tuesday, July 12, 2005

All leads lead to Leeds

Sherlock Holmes always gets his man.  A mere five days after the London bombings, while US intelligence continues to hunt for bin Laden and the US military erroneously drops 500 pound bombs on houses that turn out to be full of Iraqi civilians ("collateral damage"), British police have concluded that the four suspects,  who probably died in the attacks, came from Yorkshire. 

The Yorkshire accent typically provokes great ridicule by Londoners, who often describe its singsong intonation as "deedle-deedle-deedle."  Presumably a Muslim fundamentalist born in Yorkshire would sound like "deedle-deedle-deedle . . Inshallah . . . deedle-deedle-deedle . . . Allah Akhbar . . . deedle-deedle-deedle . . . jihad."

With its large Muslim population, today's Leeds must be a far cry from the city described in the limerick that David Niven, in his raunchy memoir "The Moon's a Balloon," claimed to have recited for his Hollywood screen test:

There once was a young man from Leeds
Who swallowed a package of seeds
Great tufts of grass
Shot out of his arse
And his ballocks were covered with weeds

12:04:59 PM    comment []  

  Sunday, July 10, 2005

Giving the audience the Willies

Steve Almond, the nutty author of "Candy Freak," was on NPR this morning bemoaning the desecration of one of his favorite movies, "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" by a new version, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," starring Johnny Depp in place of Gene Wilder in the title role.

Since Hollywood loves sequels, if the current version is a hit, we can look forward to yet another one, called "Slick Willie Policy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," starrying you-know-who in his movie debut.  After all, wasn't it a lifetime of chocoholism that brought on his heart bypass surgery?

4:00:42 PM    comment []