Tuesday, February 28, 2006

When You Make an Assessment, You Make an Ass Out of What You Meant

It seems the majority of Americans prior to the Iraq War were smarter than the Bush Administration is today. (I know, I could knock you all over with a cyber-feather with a surprise like that!) Today, as if it's big news, the AP reports:

A civil war in Iraq could lead to a broader conflict in the Middle East, pitting the region's rival Islamic sects against each other, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said in an unusually frank assessment Tuesday.

I guess having anyone associated with BushCo making a "frank assessment" is out of the ordinary, especially given that the AP article goes on to point out that Pres. Bush asserted in his January State of the Union address, "We are winning." (Perhaps he meant his team's war on quail and 78-year-old men.) But really Negroponte is merely coming around to the intelligence this nation had in October 2002, five months before we let our shock and awe loose. A CBS poll from that time reported the following:

And Americans think a war with Iraq will lead to wider war in the region. Asked if a U.S. - Iraq war could lead to a broader conflict involving other countries in the Middle East, including other Arab nations and Israel, 60% said that it was likely it would.

Yes 60%
No 33

It seems democracy has truly failed us. For if we are supposed to get the government we deserve, most of us are owed one big rain check for the past 6 years. What we owe the Iraqis is immeasurable.

The Wrongs of Spring

He's not even on a team this year, since the World Baseball Classic farce doesn't count (motto: all the best players in the world, except for the ones you get to see play 162 games each summer in your own country anyway and are instead sitting the WBC out to play MLB!) and it seems you can be on the Italian team if you ordered spaghetti marinara once, so the whole nationality thing seems screwy, too, but there was Roger Clemens pitching yesterday, doing it the way he always has despite being 137 now. The Hartford Courant, via wire reports, writes:

Roger Clemens' son took the Rocket deep on his first pitch to a batter in spring training, hitting a trademark fastball over the left field fence Monday at the Astros camp in Kissimmee, Fla.

"That was probably one of the harder fastballs I cut loose," Clemens said after throwing to son Koby and other Houston minor leaguers. "He got my attention."

Then the Rocket got Koby's. The next time his oldest son came to the plate, Roger buzzed him high and tight with another fastball. The younger Clemens dodged the pitch, then smiled at his father.

That's how you get to be Hall of Fame pitcher--just be a Hall of Fame bastard, even to your own flesh and blood, even in a warm-up fake game.

Monday, February 27, 2006

You Say Quail, I Say Whittington, Let's Blow the Whole Head Off

In the latest CBS poll, which the wingnuts probably discount anyway as that's Dan Rather's network, President Bush's approval rating is down to 34%. That has to be a good sign, that 2/3 of the country is seing through all the BS. Why there hasn't been a run at the pitchfork and torch store is another question, but we are a lazy, complacent, awed by Dancing with the Stars kind of people (when being Nick Lachey's brother makes you a "star" we're setting the bar way too low even for escapist entertainment). Revolution will have to wait.

In the meantime, it's hard not to wonder about Reuters' reporting of the poll, especially when they get to lines like, "In addition, 62 percent of Americans said they think U.S. efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq were going badly compared with 36 percent who said things were going well. In recent days, the Bush administration has faced increasing sectarian violence and fears of civil war..."

Excuse me? The Bush administration has faced nothing in Iraq. Our poor soldiers doing their jobs have. The Iraqis, who didn't necessarily get a vote in whether it was good to be occupied, have. The Bush administration gets to sit on its collective chickenhawk ass in Washington and eat and drink well and have no thoughts of getting blown up or their family members getting kidnapped.

Unless, of course, Reuters was trying to predict a civil war in the United States.

Then the report gets to Double-barrel Dick:

One surprising bright spot for the administration in the polls was that Americans appeared ready to move on after Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident. Seventy-six percent said it was understandable that the accident could happen.

However media coverage of the accident may have made the public's generally negative view of Cheney a bit more so, CBS said. The poll found that 46 percent hold a negative view of Cheney and 18 percent hold a favorable view, down from a 23 percent favorable rating in January.

Hmm, Cheney's hunting accident? That's just like saying what happened on April 15, 1912 was the iceberg's ship collision. The odd wording aside, it also seems that if 76% thought it was "understandable" a man with a deadly weapon confused an old man with a quail, the next question in the poll should have been: Do you hunt? If so, how many beers does it take to widen your understanding of the word "accident"? At the least we have to assume the 18% of the people who still approve of Cheney must be drunk themselves.

"The Soon Coming Climax" (That's So about Religion, You Filthy Minded Infidel)

Ever-alert reader Lori points out something truly frightening, if this blog were dyslexic, you'd be getting proselytized right now!

Check out this site and see: http://www.imnotonetoblogbut.blogpsot.com/

It figures that salvation has to be paid for with a corporate sponsor or two--if you don't have a pop-up blocker on your computer, don't go to the blogPSot site. Just stay with me, and I will turn you into a fellow heathen for free. I'm cheap and a whole lot more fun. Well, I'm cheap at least.

Perfectly Potent Peat

The AP not quite soberly reports:

The Bruichladdich distillery on the Isle of Islay, off Scotland's west coast, is producing the quadruple-distilled 184-proof — or 92 percent alcohol — spirit "purely for fun," managing director Mark Reynier said.

Risk-taking whisky connoisseurs will have to wait, however — the spirit will not be ready for at least 10 years.

Yes, in Gaelic Bruichladdich means "totally knockered."

It's a darn good thing this perilous potable is "purely for fun" or I might end up drinking some at work and who knows what happens when you PWI (Publicize While Intoxicated). I might use too many exclamation points or something.

And you'd think they would release some asap, given there's no better time to be a bit Bruichladdiched than in the Age of Bush.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Rome with a View (Not to Mention a Turin, a Florence, a Palermo...)

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing the Italian film The Best of Youth, which, at six hours long, makes me want to quip, "The best of my youth was at best two hours and twenty minutes." But that wouldn't do this incredible film justice.

You see, there is a value to storytelling. And to the joy of motifs, as, for instance, a mother's joke about playing castanets grows richer each time we encounter it. And a value to characters popping back up like we all lived in world where Charles Dickens got to play god. There would be worse things, and that's why a movie like this one is so rewarding.

It tells the story of a family, focusing mainly on two brothers who aren't just opposites; the way one takes on the traits of the other at times over the course of the film is one of its fascinations. It weaves in history, from the flood in Florence in the '60s to the mafia murders in Sicily in the '90s, because people live in a time larger than themselves. And it never does so just for a punchline (AKA Forrest Gump syndrome), but rather enriches the characters, as they actually have stakes to play with (is being a revolutionary worth giving up one's family, for instance?), and it makes history rich and real and personal, which we all say is true but then don't believe.

Even at six jam-packed hours--it could be longer, easily, without complaints--it allows room for mystery. Why is one of the brothers so angry? How much weight are we to give to a crucial early incident when the two brothers watch helplessly as the police take away the asylum patient they sprung? In some ways this event, when they lose Georgia, who they kindly if naively got out of a hospital where she was given electro-shock, only to find when they bring her to her father he really doesn't want her--well, it kick starts Nicola's decision to be a psychiatrist, Matteo's to be a cop. Each wants order, so badly, in such different ways. But even a six hour plot at times too neat is too messy, sort of like life. Georgia is one of those movie-only figures: institutionalized, surprisingly wise, unsurprisingly beautiful--this is a movie, after all--and she gets one of the most haunted, haunting close-ups in the picture. Still, unlike an American film where at some point we'd get a flashback that definitively explained the causes of her debility, we never get that here. Hints, there are plenty, but outright answers, few.

Sure it's melodrama, but there's rarely anything mellow about it. There's the Hitckhcock line, "The cinema is not a slice of life, it's a piece of cake." The Best of Youth is the whole damn pasticceria.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Holidays in the Sun

For Dog Blog Friday: Dogs are better than humans 'cause dogs can smile and hang their tongues out their mouths at the same time and still be cute.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Adding Up to Nothing

It's still the economy, stupid. Here are two of today's top stories (the first from the AP, the second from that bastion of Marxism USA Today) that make it hard to afford to connect the dots:

Average incomes after adjusting for inflation actually fell from 2001 to 2004, and the growth in net worth was the weakest in a decade, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.


Net worth, the difference between assets and liabilities such as loans, rose by 6.3 percent in the 2001-2004 period to an average of $448,200, after adjusting for inflation. That gain was far below the huge increases of 25.6 percent from 1995 to 1998 and 28.7 percent from 1998 to 2001, increases that were fueled by soaring stock prices.

The 2001-2004 performance was the worst since net worth actually declined by 9.9 percent in the 1989-1992 period.

It's merely a coincidence that the person running our country during that last bad economic spell just happens to be the father of the current president.

The median family net worth, the point where half the families owned more and half owned less, stood at $93,100 in 2004, a rise of 1.5 percent after adjusting for inflation from 2001.
The report showed that the slowdown in the accumulation of net worth would have been even more sizable except for the fact that homeowners have enjoyed big gains in the value of their homes in recent years.

Such encouraging news for anyone worried that the housing boom might go bust soon.

The gap between the very wealthy and other income groups widened during the period.
The top 10 percent of households saw their net worth rise by 6.1 percent to an average of $3.11 million while the bottom 25 percent suffered a decline from a net worth in which their assets equaled their liabilities in 2001 to owing $1,400 more than their total assets in 2004.

"This is the continuing story of the rich getting richer," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York. "Clearly, the gains in wealth are going to the top end."

But a quote like that discounts that only the wealthy do anything to get wealthier (like firing employees to make more profit)--the poor are too busy working three jobs just to, well, the statistics suggest not even staying even. And the poor never hire anyone to fire in the first place, so truly are a drag on an economy.

Meanwhile that USA Today article says:

In 1981, a student could work full time all summer at minimum wage and earn about two-thirds of annual college costs, according to an analysis by Heather Boushey, economist for the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Today, a student earning minimum wage would have to work full time for a year to afford one year of education at a four-year public university - and that assumes she saves every penny, Boushey concluded.

If only scientists could invent a way for people to work fulltime while being cryogenically frozen, so you could just stack them up and not feed them when they weren't on the job. Sounds like the next Bush plan now that he's got the mission to Mars and plug-in-the-battery cars (since the electricity one has in one's house is magically created) out of the way.

Also contributing to a rise in debt: a sharp drop in direct aid. Congress hasn't increased the Pell Grant, the most common direct aid for low-income students, since 2003. The maximum Pell Grant: $4,050 a year.

"The Pell Grant isn't even keeping up with inflation, let alone college costs," says Luke Swarthout of the Public Interest Research Group. Students have to borrow more to make up the gap between direct aid and the amount their families can afford to contribute, he says.

As a result, low-income students are carrying a disproportionate amount of student debt, says Shireman of the Project on Student Debt. Shireman analyzed loans held by Pell Grant recipients because those students are from low-income families.

See, those poor causing problems again.

Nickalous Reykdal,22, an education major at Central Washington University, says all his friends have student loans and predicts that the higher rates will force many future graduates to spend years paying off their debts. "Their student loans will double by the time they pay them off, just on interest alone," he says. "It makes me really worry about the future."

The good news for all of them is the U.S. won't have any debt in the future, so at least the bigger economic picture will be rosy. Not that they will have time to think about such things as they'll all be working three jobs. If they can find three jobs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

President Bush Does His Andrea Yates Impersonation--Government Plays Role of Five Children

If I weren't the zippity-doo-dah humming optimist that I am (the prescription is working!), I might become the world's worst cynic. For, it seems to me, BushCo wants to fuck up. (And I won't apologize for the language, for I'm not the one who didn't stop 9/11, who frittered away international support after the disaster, who invaded a sovereign nation for mythical WMD, who watched as that nation fell into a civil war, who destroyed any hope of balancing the budget before the inevitable Jenna Bush presidency, all while tromping on civil rights at home and abroad and more or less bragging about it.)

I mean, you have to assume the White House wants to fail when it makes appointments like Brownie and Bolton, don't you? Will putting irascible incompetents in charge of important posts make FEMA and the UN run better? No, such choices help grind those organizations down, making them appear ineffectual. And if they don't work, why exactly do we have them? Somehwere Grover Norquist is ready to get his hands around the government's neck and head to the bathroom.

So it's with mixed joy (people are waking up!), that I read the results of a recent AP-Ipsos poll that partially gets summarized:

The poll finds public confidence in government disaster readiness is lower today, six months after Katrina struck, than it was in early September 2005, when images of rooftop-stranded storm victims were fresh in the nation's mind.

Slightly less than half of those polled, 47 percent, said they were very or somewhat confident in the government's preparedness--down from 56 percent in the days after the storm and 54 percent in mid-September.

And just one in three Americans is confident the money set aside for Katrina recovery efforts, an expected $100 billion, is being spent wisely, down from half in mid-September, the poll found.

Two-thirds of the country thinks that Washington just lit $100 billion and watched it go up in a puff of smoke. Jim Carrey would have to appear in 5000 movies to make that much cash, guaranteeing at least an Ace Ventura XVI and probably even a Cable Guy II. But most Americans would prefer such a blot on the entertainment world to the bungled relief effort in New Orleans.

Still I can't help but fear that's what Rove wants, for all of us to collapse in exasperation and hope that the government would just go away, as it's simply so bad at everything. I guess ther'es nothing to worry about until they turn over the security of key entry points to the country to companies from countries known to pal around with Osama Bin Laden.

Box Malled In

Kindred Spirits by Asher B. Durand, 1849

Here's one of those point and nod posts. If you missed the essay "The Wal-Mart Biennale" by Rebecca Solint in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, spurred by the painting pixel-simulated above, you can read a longer version of it at Tomdispatch.com.

In the meantime here's a teaser to get you interested, with a particularly delicious second sentence:

Walton, it seems safe to assume, lives surrounded by nicer objects, likely made under nicer conditions, than she sells the rest of us. I have always believed that museums love artists the way taxidermists love deer. Perhaps Alice Walton is, in some sense, stuffing and mounting what is best about American culture -- best and fading. Perhaps Crystal Bridges [Museum of American Art, the Walton family museum she's building in Bentonville, Arkansas, the site of Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters] will become one of the places we can go to revisit the long history that precedes industrialization and globalization, when creation and execution were not so savagely sundered, when you might know the maker of your everyday goods, and making was a skilled and meaningful act. One of the pleasures of most visual art is exactly that linkage between mind and hand, lost elsewhere as acts of making are divided among many and broken down into multiple repetitive tasks.

Perhaps she could build us the Museum of When Americans Made Stuff Locally by Hand for People They Knew or perhaps that's what Crystal Bridges, along with the rest of such institutions, will become. Or Walton could just plan to open the Museum of When Americans Made Stuff at some more distant date, though less than half of what's in Wal-Mart, sources inform me, is still actually made here -- for now. The world's richest woman, however, seems more interested in archaic images of America than in the artisanry behind them.

Badlands, You Got to Avoid It Every Day

I never thought about living in South Dakota--it's not even interesting enough to be made fun of by the Coens in a movie--but the state is now permanently on my "snowball's chance in hell" list, and not just because it sounds like a boring hell and there are too many snowballs. Reuters reports:

South Dakota became the first U.S. state to pass a law banning abortion in virtually all cases, with the intention of forcing the Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 decision legalizing the procedure.


Proposed amendments to the law to create exceptions to specifically protect the health of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest, were voted down. Also defeated was an amendment to put the proposal in the hands of voters.

New South Dakota state motto: "Where Fetuses Are More Valuable than Women--Half Will Be Men."

And if we don't go after all 7 "Dems" in the Gang of 14 who decided Alito wasn't worth a filibuster, we will get the terrible government we deserve.

This Porting Life

Here's Pres. Bush today talking about selling our ports to the UAE:

I can understand why some in Congress have raised questions about whether or not our country will be less secure as a result of this transaction. But they need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully. Again, I repeat, if there was any question as to whether or not this country would be less safe as a result of the transaction, it wouldn't go forward. But I also want to repeat something again, and that is, this is a company that has played by the rules, that has been cooperative with the United States, a country that's an ally in the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through.

So, who is this "our government" if it's not Bush--that would then mean he'd say "we looked into the issue," unless he's turn into a third-person athlete talking about himself kind of guy--and not the Congress, who I would assume many might consider at least a part of "our government"?

Of course, the most telling diction might be "transaction." This deal is business. Business trumps safety. And, after all, a lack of security leads to more business for people like Halliburton, just ask the folks in Iraq or New Orleans.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Which Rights Are Left?

The New York Times reports today:

In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

One of those private historians, Felicity Huffstadter, told the Times, "I have a copy some place, I'm sure of it, of the Bill of Rights. But when I returned to see the original at the National Archives, I was told that the Constitution was too sensitive a document to be seen by average Americans." Ms. Huffstadter said she believed that because of the reclassification program, some of the contents of her 22 file cabinets might technically place her in violation of the Espionage Act, a circumstance that could be shared by scores of other historians, not to mention sixth grade civics class students the country over who have memorized the Bill of Rights, at least to pass the test.

In response, President Bush said, "There's a right on this Constitution that won't right on one side. So I'm taking it home to my workshop, my dear. I'll fix it up there. Then I'll bring it back here."

Got a Story about a Photo with Sky So Blue

Everybody's got a story of a photo with the sky so blue. (Sure, Disney Hall is already cliche, but it's a very cool looking cliche.)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Chekhov, Please

"In the distance a row of telephone poles; and far, far away, faintly traced on the horizon, is a large town, visible only in the clearest weather."
-from the stage direction that opens Act II of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard

It's entirely possible that Chekhov never meant for his plays to be played, just read. That's particularly true for The Cherry Orchard, as his tuberculosis was so advanced he would die a year after completing the work. But even before then, he had moved to Yalta for his health and hadn't seen his plays performed until years after they made their Moscow debuts and the Moscow Art Theatre made a Crimean tour. His plays lived in his mind, no doubt, given how vividly they live on the page, but to perform them always seems nearly impossible, and not just because of the way he mixed comedy and tragedy no matter what he labeled a work. It's more because he saw and knew too much for living actors to bring it all forth without seeming to dip into too many representational bags at once.

This problem is perfectly framed by the generally moving and rewarding production of The Cherry Orchard playing at the Mark Taper Forum right now (we saw Saturday's matinee). Birds chirp as you first enter the Taper, and while that does help set the grand estate in nature, it also smacks of, as Amy put it, Disneyland. A production can't afford anything easy in a play about personal, historical loss, and sure, the sound design is also hoping to make the infamous "snapped string, dying away mournful" seem less incongrous by feeding us other sounds, too, but the snapped string is supposed to snap. It's a symbol that crashes like a cymbal in an otherwise realistic play, except for people falling down so much to show we're all weak, and for the old servant Fiers being left behind in a way he might as well have the word "past" taped to his back. But can the "snapped string" be mere symbol when all the characters hear the noise, too. Nothing is just for us in a Chekhov play, for if he can't quite imagine his plays produced, he can't quite imagine the audience, either, can he? perhaps that's the seceret to his vaunted objectivity, not that he doesn't have biases as a writer, but that he doesn't care a whit for our biases. Indeed each person on stage interprets the sound in character: the merchant Lopahin guessing its a mine shaft cable, ridiculous Gayeff imagining a fanciful heron, the student Trofimoff suggesting it's an owl, and Lyuboff, ever running at the whim of her nerve-endings, simply replying emotionally, "It's unpleasant, somehow."

For what can be done with the lovably frustrating people of this play? Annette Bening makes a fine Lyuboff because she has the carriage to pull it off--the role insists on a star. People have to feel her pull even when they realize she's become a bit ridiculous, and Bening can do that. She can react, too--so much of her character is just taking things in. Alfred Molina makes a perfect Lopahin, shading his voice with a bit of Cockney to remind everyone he's out of his class trying to mix in this company, the serf's son ever no matter his money. Director Sean Mathias even puts him on the stage for minutes before the play opens, so we get the future to start, just as we're left with the past/Fiers to end--one of the cleverer bits of staging.

But other roles don't quite work, and that might not be the actor's fault. Anya, as portrayed by Rebecca Mozo, comes off like Naomi Watts before her transformation scene in Mulholland Drive, yet Anya never gets a new register. Instead she's so bright-brimming-hopeful you almost expect the besotted with her Trofimoff to pop her one with one of his textbooks. Still, she's written in the play that way, so you can't quite blame Mozo. The same is true for Lothaire Bluteau's Gayeff, who must get shushed into nonsense talk about impossible billiard shots whenever he begins to speechify. It could be Chekhov never had it in his heart for this ineffectual brother, who doesn't even seem as bright a dreamer as his sister Lyuboff, who at least is ever lost in love. Gayeff's biggest moment is his paean to the bookcase, which hints he's more for what holds up ideas than the ideas themselves, and stresses the sentimental daffiness of the family, but never does much for Gayeff himself.

Still, this production truly nails Act II. The lighting runs from sunset to moonrise effectively, and a smattering of leafy shadow makes it seem this should be an idyll--and connects the play with Shakespeare in ways I'd never thought of before. Trofimoff's wise about the world if ignorant about himself speeches have great cleverness--he's the one character where all the contradictions make the most sense (but is that just because the character is most like me?). And the beggar who runs through at scene's end spooks and evokes pity, and that might be Chekhov in a nutshell. Lyuboff's ridiculous gesture of giving him a gold coin as that's all she has is at once bitter comedy and blasted tragedy--this woman means so well she will give herself away and not quite know she's doing it. How human of her.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Sorry Looking

The AP reports from the Phillipines:

The farming village is gone, swallowed whole by a wall of mud and boulders that swept down with terrifying speed Friday from a mountainside in the eastern Philippines. Officials feared the death toll could climb past 1,500.

"There are no signs of life, no rooftops, no nothing," Southern Leyte province Gov. Rosette Lerias said.

Gov. Rosette Lerias then choked up and went on to say, "My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through because of this mudslide."

Fracture My Spine and Swear that You're Mine

The White House announced plans for a new fundraising $5,000-a-nasogastric-tube dinner to be held at a secret location on a yet to be announced date. The man behind this brilliant plan is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has decided the best way to prove Guantanamo is as good a place as he says it is is to bring a bit of Guantanamo to the people. According to the AFP Rumsfeld today blasted back in Kofi Annan's face with the words, "There is no torture, there is no abuse. It's being handled honorably." The article goes on to say:

"He hasn't been to Guantanamo Bay," he said of Annan, adding that hundreds of others had visited, including US lawmakers, journalists, foreigners and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"That place is being run as well as any detention center can be run," he said. Rumsfeld defended the decision to deny the UN human rights investigators access to the prisoners.

"If you start letting every single person who wants to go in and interview these people, then you can't manage a facility like that," he said.

One can imagine Rumsfeld's rage that the people who he refuses to let in to see the prison are then complaining about the prison as if they had seen the prison. Life is just so unfair when you're trying to hold people without charges for years and not really name who they are.

Rumsfeld also scoffed at the notion that force-feeding patients tied to restraint chairs with tubes was even vaguely unpleasant, let alone torture. "There are some people out there who actually pay for such treatment," the secretary joked. He then refered to an article from The Observer:

Although some prisoners have had to be tied down while being force-fed, 'only one patient' has had to be immobilised with a six-point restraint, and 'only one' passed out. 'In less than 10 cases have trained medical personnel had to use four-point restraint in order to achieve insertion.' Edmondson claims the actual feeding is voluntary. During Ramadan, tube-feeding takes place before dawn.

"See we even respect their cartoonist-hating religion, which is more than they'd do for us," Rumsfeld said.

Soft Bed, Hard Battles

For Dog Blog Friday: We might be AKC greyhounds, but sometimes we feel all humble-like and share one bed. (And a big shout out of love to wherever the members of the Pooh Sticks are, as they are the group from which I stole the title, which is only fitting, as they stole everything they ever did. Brilliantly, I might add.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Not of that Elk

Or, as Mr. T. might say if he were a punning zoologist, “I Wapiti the fool.” Today is the 138th anniversary of the creation of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE), although the group had already existed for awhile as the Malevolent and Destructive Anarchic Syndicate of Who Are You Looking at Anyway? (MADD). Seriously, their original name was the Jolly Corks, which was pretty frivolous. But they started as actors, or at least people who said they were actors but barely even read for parts, who got together on Sunday to drink, not that they didn’t drink other days, but on Sunday there were blue laws, so they had to be more creative as to where to drink as the bars were closed, even the ones that hadn’t thrown them out yet. Part of the Sunday recreation was a game involving bouncing corks off a table and whoever did it poorly had to buy the round. Needless to say, when they changed their name from the Jolly Corks to the Elk, tables in New York City were not happy. On top of that, the original BPOE almost wound up the BPOB, as some wanted them to take the name Buffalo, but although the vote was close, the final tally, shipped to the meeting by a member named Scott Norwood, sailed wide right of the voting place. (I apologize to all the non-football fans who will have missed the extra point of humor in that joke.) And, of course, it’s all complicated by the fact that in Europe moose are called elk, and that means a Liverpudlian, let’s say, might wander indiscriminately into a Moose lodge looking for Elk, only to shout, “Elk! I need somebody.” Which isn’t as bad as aiming for quail--bred to be shot quail-tards at that--and instead blasting a 78 year old man. But who would do something that ridiculous?

Shoot Your Mouth Off

I keep thinking that the most horrifying thing for Harry Whittington once he came to was this thought, "Please, please, please tell me Dick didn't give me mouth-to-mouth."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Passion Is No Ordinary Word

Back in days of yore when I was a serial monogamist, and this is years now, as Amy and I have been together since 1995, I had one lonely Valentine's Day, and that's good enough for me to write about it. After all, it might as well rain candy conversation hearts as soon as Punxsutawney Phil has his moment in the sun, the way even the VP shooting someone isn't enough news to push off stories of love, and ways to show it (hint: BUY something) from TV and the papers, even if some of those stories purport to be tongue-in-cheek when they tell you about how the rich woo each other with roomsful of Vera Wang wedding dresses (like no one has bothered to read Gatsby and therefore can't remember where conspicuous clothes displays get you).

But I digress while I mean to depress. It wasn't just my first solo VD (perhaps a telling abbreviation?), but one after a long-term relationship went bad, but so slow in coming, like watching a horse and rider make its mile-by-mile way across Monument Valley, only to let the rider still surprise you upon arrival and put a bullet in your heart. And I was in a new town, this one, Santa Barbara, where everyone and everything is too beautiful too often. Till you think about yourself.

So, the big day when love, hearts and flowers are supposed to come tied in a new bow (just because the three words rhymed in Provencal, and we haven't learned a lick about our emotions since the Troubadours trilled in the 13th century), makes me think--hell, why not wallow. The move left me kind of broke, especially since you could rent a house in State College PA for what a studio went for in SB then (the hidden price, of course, is you're in Pennsylvania). Nonetheless, I figured even if I was dating someone then, I'd blow a bunch of money, so why not do something impetuous, and for me that usually means a visit to the expensive aisle of a wine store. I'd yet to have Dom Perignon, so I decided to fix that and that my date for VD would be Dom.

As I got my solo kick from champagne, I also knew I had to memorialize things, for after all even when dating yourself, you need the right soundtrack. So I put together a mixed tape I'm still proud of, one full of sadness (Iris DeMent), snootiness (Fred Astaire), wittiness (Magnetic Fields), obscurantism (Ed's Redeeming Qualities) and snottiness (Archers of Loaf), and therefore a whole lot like me. It loses oomph at the end, but don't we all. And it goes a little something like this:

Where Is My Anything?

Side A
Fred Astaire "By Myself"
Billy Bragg "Walk Away Rene" (version)
Nick Lowe "Where Is My Everything?"
Ed's Redeeming Qualities "More Bad Times"
Iris DeMent "When Love Was Young"
East River Pipe "Dogman"
Guided by Voices "Gleemer (the Deeds of Fertile Jim)"
Yo La Tengo "You Tore Me Down"
Bettie Serveert "Tell Me, Sad"
11th Dream Day "Bearish on High"
Archers of Loaf "Wrong"
Sebadoh "Magnet's Coil"
New Order "Ceremony"
Roxy Music "All I Want"
Elvis Costello "Love for Tender"
Alex Chilton "No Sex"

Side B
Richard Thompson "I Can't Wake Up to Save My Life"
John Wesley Harding "The Person You Are"
Ian Hunter "All of the Good One's Are Taken"
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions "Grace"
XTC "The Disappointed"
The Pogues "Lorelei"
Graham Parker "Temporary Beauty"
John Hiatt "When We Ran"
No Such Animal "God Damn Everything"
New Musik "Straight Lines"
Marshall Crenshaw "Cynical Girl"
Golden Palominos "Little Suicides"
Heavenly "3 Star Compartment"
Magnetic Fields "The Flowers She Sent and the Flowers She Said She Sent"

Of course the wine and the tape were finished too fast, so even my glorious celebration of loneliness risked losing its game that gave it meaning. I decided to take a walk and ended up blocks down State Street to where it becomes Stearns Wharf over the Pacific. How romantic, to be out in the dark, the waves doing their lazy break below my feet, and almost everywhere couples, hands held, eyes locked, whispers heard. Tight with tunes, singing a bit to myself from my champagne, I thought it clever to think, "Alas, lovers, even you for whom things go well have sadness in your future; as Stephen Dunn writes, 'Wasn't a deferred loneliness waiting for them?'"

Yes, I probably self-righteously woozily ruminated, complete with semi-colon and poetry quote. And I only hope that if one day holding my sweet wife's hand I see some loner like that old me out on the wharf half-smiling to himself, then I give him a push into the ocean.

Dick Sprays Fellow Sportsman in Face

You know this Administration really cares: it seems Dick Cheney is going to solve the Medicare problem one senior at a time.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Have You Seen My Little Friend?

And another for Dog Blog Friday: Mookie might not make it to Turin, but he can still be an Olympic champion Italian Greyhound sniffer.

Musical Chairs with the Truth and There's No Place to Sit Down

The AP reports:

The president acknowledged having his picture taken with Abramoff but suggested the photos were of no significance because he is photographed with so many people. Bush said there was no reason to publicly release the photographs.

"I frankly don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy," Bush told a news conference on Jan. 26. "I don't know him."

In an article that begins:

Jack Abramoff had brief conversations with President Bush almost a dozen times and the president knew him well enough to make joking references to Abramoff's family, according to an e-mail the fallen lobbyist sent a magazine editor.

Bush "joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids," Abramoff recalled of his contacts with the president.

I just hate it when I don't know which lying scumbag to distrust.

Dogs Dish about What's Delish

For Dog Blog Friday: The boys decided to take the day off, since they don't work and therefore are labeled Republicans. In the meantime, here's a post from long-time INOTBB reader Maxwell.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Readin', Writin' and Bullshitmetic

In the State of the Union Address President Bush said, "And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people -- and we're going to keep that edge."

But prior to that he said, "Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we've reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending, and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities."

And now the White House budget says that 42 of those 140 programs slated to get the ax are education programs. According to the AP they are:

Educational technology state grants, $272 million
Even Start, $99 million

High school programs terminations:
Vocational education state grants, $1,182 million
Vocational education national programs, $9 million
Upward Bound, $311 million
GEAR UP, $303 million
Talent search, $145 million
Tech prep state grants, $105 million
Smaller learning communities, $94 million
Safe and Drug-Free Schools state grants, $347 million

Elementary and secondary education program terminations:
Parental information and resource centers, $40 million
Arts in education, $35 million
Elementary and secondary school counseling, $35 million
Alcohol abuse reduction, $32 million
Civic education, $29 million
National Writing Project, $22 million
Star Schools, $15 million
School leadership,$15 million
Ready to Teach, $11 million
Javits gifted and talented education, $10 million
Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners, $9 million
Comprehensive school reform, $8 million
Dropout prevention program, $5 million
Mental Health integration in schools, $5 million
Women's Educational Equity, $3 million
Academies for American History and Civics, $2 million
Close-Up fellowships, $1 million
Foundations for Learning, $1 million
Excellence in Economic Education, $1 million

Higher Education Programs:
Education demos for students with disabilities, $7 million
Underground Railroad Program, $2 million
State grants for incarcerated youth offenders, $23 million

Postsecondary Student Financial Assistance Programs:
Perkins Loan cancellations, $65 million
Leveraging educational assistance programs, $65 million
Byrd Scholarships, $41 million
Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational opportunity, $3 million
B.J. Stupak Olympic scholarships, $1 million

Vocational rehabilitation programs:
Supported employment, $30 million
Projects with industry, $20 million
Recreational programs, $3 million
Migrant and seasonal farmworkers,$2 million
Teacher Quality Enhancement, $60 million

Total $3,468 million

You can imagine the White House thinking on some of these. Byrd Scholarships go because the Senator from West Virginia, despite his love of any presidential appointee, gives Bush fits on Iraq. Thurgood Marshall was the anti-Clarence Thomas, so expunging funds named after him can't hurt. The Javits money might be named after a Republican, but he was a New York Jew, so how truly Republican could he have been? Arts in Education and the National Writing Project will only lead to more liberals in the long run, like all those literary, artsy-fartsy types who turn good cowboys into gays. As for Women's Educational Equity, more women are in college now than men, so how can they say they don't have equity?

It gets harder to imagine how Bushco decided the Perkins Loans don't work. These loans, which help 630,000 students nationwide attend college, were created as part of the original National Defense Education Act (NDEA), Congress' reaction to the 1958 Soviet launch of Sputnik. You would think Bush would put a premium on national defense, given Veep-the-Creep Cheney spends most of his time shouting booga-booga at people, hoping to get us to fear and not think. What seems even odder is that while $65 million for Perkins Loans are due to be cut, according to the Association of American Universities in "its FY 2006 budget request, the Department of Defense requested $10.3 million for a new National Defense Education Program (NDEP). This program would provide scholarships and fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students entering critical fields of science, mathematics, engineering, and languages in return for a commitment of national service after completion of their studies." That is, obviously, only 1/6 of the money, but it's also putting education money under the control of the Department of Defense. Look out, students, Dean Rumsfeld says if you don't pass your exams, you're off to Gitmo!

I also feel much anger about the idea that cutting Upward Bound is a wise decision. I taught at Penn State's Upward Bound Math & Science Initiative from 1991-1994. (Yes, there was a big writing component, but they didn't put it in the title so as not to scare away the kids.) I could blog for days about the wonderful experiences, the lives changed, the diverse mix of super small town country kids with kids city-tough, the letters--many actual snail-mail letters as email was just really getting popular in those primitive days--from students who made it to college and succeeded and learned and matured.

Of course, anything I can say is merely anecdotal, and not the way to base important government decisions, unless one is trying to prove welfare is bad and can imagine a woman picking up her check in a Cadillac. It seems, though, that the "analytical" reason Upward Bound might get the boot is as follows, according to the Western Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel (WESTOP):

Q: Why Should Upward Bound Students Be Punished for the Department of Education Failures as Noted in OMB’s Upward Bound “PART Score?” What is “PART?”

A: “PART” is an assessment rating system developed by the Office of Management and Budget to “grade” the effectiveness of Federal agencies and federally funded programs. It has four components: Program Purpose & Design, Strategic Planning, Program Management, and Results. The most heavily rated section is “Results.” Under “Results” Upward Bound received a 17% score.

Fully 50% of the Results score can be attributed to the fact that “The Department of Education recently finalized its goals and targets for Upward Bound but does not yet have information to measure program progress.” (OMB PART Score, p. 450) This is true despite the fact that colleges sponsoring Upward Bound programs have been submitting individualized data on long-term program outcomes for over ten years. The Department just has not bothered to analyze it.

I see--Upward Bound doesn't work since we haven't analyzed the data to be sure it works. Kind of like the FBI not getting through all its leads prior to 9/11 or the NSA not being able to sift through all the non-warranted wire-taps now. You'd assume we could solve all the country's unemployment problems just by sending everyone to DC to pitch in and mine some data.

There is one last kicker from that WESTOP site: "Despite the fact that the Department of Education’s Budget totals $69.4 billion, no program educating students has been rated effective."

So I guess that means Bush can cut all of it if he wants. AG Gonzales is probably scheming the way to argue that the authorization of force passed by Congress means Bush can set the budget himself, too. This is a war, after all.

Talked to Death

Today is the birthday of our ninth president, William Henry Harrison, who is perhaps best known for 2 things: 1) giving the longest inaugural address and 2) having the shortest stint as prez, a mere month. Turns out he caught a cold that blustery day he gave the too-long speech, as he refused to wear a coat, and then the cold led to pneumonia and that led to him being the first dead duck president, eager to be merely lame.

What can we learn from Old Tippecanoe? (BTW, that’s not a sly reference to where he and his wife Anna Tuthill Symmes—who he didn’t call Tithull, even when joking—conceived their ten children, one of whom was father to Benjamin Harrison, another U.S. President, and another who was grandfather to George Harrison, no, not the Beatle, but that other musician famous for the song “While My Tippecanoe Gently Leaks.”)

That your mom was right—put your coat on, it’s cold out. That even an Old Tippecanoe can get pneumonia (keep reading that one, you’ll get it). That it’s probably lousy karma to run off Native Americans from their land, kill Tecumseh, and support slavery. (Of course, if karma really worked, George Bush would be pumping gas in Crawford, TX and not blowing hot air in the White House.) And that it’s just silly to call your political party the Whigs, although calling them Whigs and Novelties might be cool.


So it seems that the rightwingers have decided that liberals don't know how to behave at funerals. After all, liberals say things they believe. They tell the truth. They honor the dead for the work they did but stress all the work they knew they would still have to do if alive.

So I thought it might be instructive to go look at the kinds of things that the right wingers say at funerals. In 2004 Vice President Dick Cheney said things like this at the funeral of Ronald Reagan:

We think back with appreciation for the decency of our 40th president and respect for all that he achieved. After so much turmoil in the '60s and '70s, our nation had begun to lose confidence.

Can this line be anything but code? That turmoil of the '60s and '70s just happened to include civil rights, students protests, women's rights, gay rights, the struggle to end the war in Vietnam. Of course, the folks who lost confidence are people oddly enough just like Dick Cheney--white guys who like to boss women around and supported the Vietnam War (not so much that they would go and actually fight, but at least they remain in chicken hawk character for their whole lives). How is Cheney claiming these things aren't noble any different from Reverend Lowery pointing out there weren't any WMDs in Iraq?

Oh, wait, it is a lot different. There weren't WMDs in Iraq, and we were lied into a war that has killed thousands of Americans and Iraqis and left that country on the verge of civil war. And the U.S. poor that Lowery defended--all those exposed so vividly after Katrina--get to take the brunt of the latest Bush budget, too.

Then Cheney delivered this whopper:

If Ronald Reagan ever uttered a cynical or a cruel or a selfish word, the moment went unrecorded. Those who knew him in his youth and those who knew him a lifetime later all remember his largeness of spirit, his gentle instincts and a quiet rectitude that drew others to him.

Hmm, how about just these, the quotes most easy to find on a quick Google search? First, there's CA Governor Reagan deciding what's best for students with this gem: "If there has to be a bloodbath, then let's get it over with" on what to do about student protests at UC Berkeley, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle (May 15, 1969 almost a year to the day prior to Kent State). Sure, there's nothing cruel about suggesting it might be good to shoot students.

Then there's a line like, "Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal" (Time magazine, May 17 1976) , which might just be stupidity, and being dumb isn't cruel, cynical or selfish, it's just not really a great compliment to a U.S. president, even if now dumb goes with U.S. president like sadist boots on Rice.

And given the administration that Cheney is running, uh, part of, I guess it's not cynical to thumb your nose at the world community, so it's probably just chutzpah, or the WASP equivalent thereof that no doubt involves less spitting and balls, that leads to a Reagan quote like, "One hundred nations in the UN have not agreed with us on just about everything that's come before them, where we're involved, and it didn't upset my breakfast at all." That gem was Ronnie's reaction to international criticism of the US invasion of Grenada--the ever-threatening Spice Island--quoted in Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II by William Blum.

Of course, Cheney didn't say that Reagan never lied; Reagan was onto truthiness years before Stephen Colbert was a twinkle in Comedy Central's eye, with great moments like this one during his testimony to the Tower Commission in 1987 (oh, and please don't say he already had Alzheimer's, as he was still in the White House): "A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not."

And what would a run through of fave Ronald Reagan quotes be if we didn't visit that ultimate cynical "joke" that Bootsy Collins and Jerry Harrison had us grooving to on the dance floor: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." (During a microphone check, unaware that he was being broadcast on August 11, 1984)

Of ocurse what it all means is that Cheney and Bush simply want to use every public appearance, even those at funerals, as a chance to one-up their political opponents. They can't fit in at Coretta Scott King's funeral because they've been part of all she's opposed her whole life. So they simply abuse anyone who disagrees with them (those who stand with Ms. King are un-American).

Alas, if they were really so keen on Reagan, why did they ignore one of his key quotes in the speech when he kicked off the boondoogle known as Star Wars: "The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor. We maintain our strength in order to deter and defend against aggression--to preserve freedom and peace"?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Here's Mud in Your Perspicacity

Please hit me over the head with my thesaurus if I ever write a sentence like this one:

"Where Is My Love?" sounds like something from a Disney production of Robert Bresson's Mouchette, Marshall's naive piano heartbreakingly augmented by a perspicacious string section that synesthetically serves the dramatic function of a Greek chorus.

(Curt Cloninger, "Prozac Nation Goes Honky Tonk," Paste, p. 92, February/March 06)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot

From Reuters:

Reverend Joseph Lowery, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which King helped found in 1957, gave a playful reading of a poem in eulogy of Mrs. King.

"She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war / She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar," he said.

"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there / But Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here / Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."

The mourners gave a standing ovation. Bush's reaction could not be seen on the television coverage, but after Lowery finished speaking, the president shook his hand and laughed.

Because Bush knows that the only thing funnier than poor people are dead people.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Them's Swearing Words

Just for the record, here's a scorecard about who Congress thinks will lie to them unless under oath:

AG Alberto Gonzales testifying about whether the NSA wiretapping was illegal (that is, did the President--who vows to uphold the nation's laws, in fact is the top person to be sure that happens--broke the law)...

Doesn't need to be sworn in.

Oil company executives, discussing how they scored windfall profits while oil prices go up and Americans get squeezed at the gas pump and when trying to heat their homes...

Don't need to be sworn in.

Baseball players, who may or may not have used steroids, and if they did mostly just screwed up their own bodies and baseball's precious sense of history (when Bob Coastas said, "Should we just rip up the record books?" Steven Colbert wittily said, "No, print new ones.")...

Swear those lying bastards in.

Subverting the Constitution and screwing over everyone in the U.S. to make a buck, that's no big deal compared to hitting juiced home runs. For if our ballplayers are on drugs, al Qaida has already won.

No Time to Get Smart

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales channels the late, great Don Adams and asks Congress, "Would you believe the White House missed adhering to the Constitution by this much?" (Photo: Dennis Cook/AP)

Friday, February 03, 2006

You'll Poke Your Eye Out

In case you missed it, Hooters just opened a casino in Las Vegas. Sure, this is kind of like wearing a bikini to the nude beach and hoping you'll get noticed, but as Vegas tries to scrub itself from its seedier past it only makes sense that guys might not want to feel all tawdry going to a strip club but would still like to eyeball just-like-at-the-mall tits. And in a city with a fake Paris, New York, Venice, etc., what's a silicone boob or two between friends?

Actually, that AP story is pretty fascinating. It informs us that it took 6 guys to dream up Hooters. And here I always thought that the company's original business plan was probably scribbled on some Playboy that a 16-year-old stole from his dad. By a fourteen year old who stole it from his older brother.

Given the AP scribe is a business writer, he also checks out the marketing angle, since, after all, he needs to justify writing off that trip to Sin City, if ogling an owl on a t-shirt is a sin. Which leads to this revealing passage:

Observers said the company might carve out a niche with a down-market offering in an area of the Strip that has become more expensive.

"You know their market. It's relatively blue collar and young," said University of Nevada, Las Vegas history professor Hal Rothman, who wrote Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started the 21st Century.

"There's really nothing else on the Strip that caters to that market," he said.

I guess that the new Hooters is Fremont Street/Downtown's revenge on the Strip. Declassé is never passé.

A Ball, a Beach, a Dog - Panama!

For Dog Blog Friday: There's a reason we often call him Nigel Nuts. (That's not Nigel's Nuts--he's neutered.)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I Would Like a Tape I Could Call My Own

Just because it's a new year plus a Groundhog Day doesn't mean I'm going to start acting like it's the Digital Age. Strictly analog tape and hiss and hum for me. Here's tonight's:

Life Is Sweeter than Jewish Wine

Side A
My Morning Jacket "Gideon"
The Assembly "Never Never"
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth"
New Order "Regret"
New Pornographers "Sing Me Spanish Techno"
Sufjan Stevens "Chicago"
Magnetic Fields "No One Will Ever Love You"
The Chairmen of the Board "Give Me a Little More Time"
Richard Hell & the Voidoids "Time"
Silver Jews "Sleeping Is the New Love"
The Bevis Frond "Lights Are Changing"

Side B
The Decemberists "Shiny"
Andrew Bird "Banking on a Myth"
Kathleen Edwards "Summerlong"
Graham Parker & the Rumour "Discovering Japan"
Son Volt "Jet Pilot"
Futureheads "Stupid and Shallow"
Pere Ubu "Nonalignment Pact"
Sleater-Kinney "Rollercoaster"
Franz Ferdinand "Walk Away"
Nouvelle Vague "Just Can't Get Enough"
Shout Out Louds "Very Loud"
The Feelies "The Undertow"

We've Got the Bleat

There’s no need to be sheepish about knowing that on this day in 1880 the SS Strathleven arrived in London with the first Australian frozen mutton. London rejoiced, as the arrival of this shipment brought an end to a ten year period known far from affectionately as the Thames Turns Lambs Limbs Mightily Messy Disgusting Decade and sung to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Throw-up in Her Mouth.” (Look, I know that doesn’t scan, but you have to say the end really quickly because your mouth is otherwise occupied. Assuming your name is Mary.) Indeed, the earliest practice shipments and their sickening smell (which later took its own boat and now resides near Elizabeth on the Jersey Turnpike) are why etymologists believe the original word was muttoff, not mutton. Of course, while freezing made shipping the mutton possible, it also made thawing the mutton difficult. That’s why Victorian men would wear the meat about their ears, leading to the quite fashionable mutton chop. And to many Londoners dying from nibbling at raw lamb about their heads when they felt a bit peckish.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Earth Presidents Are Lazy

ABC reports that Commander in Chief, the show featuring recent Golden Globe-winner Geena Davis as the first female president, is going on a six-week hiatus.

The good news is this still means that the fictional President Mackenzie Allen would have to remain on hiatus until nearly 2007 to catch up to George Bush's downtime. For as of this past August, the non-fictional, non-ratings tied (after all, he lost the "ratings" in 2000 and still became president) leader of the free world celebrated 319 free days -- nearly 20 percent of his presidency up to then.

Oh, Geena Davis is an inch taller than W. and could probably kick his butt in a fight. Which I'd pay to see.

Bush at Appomattox

Dateline January 20, 2007

In a somber ceremony today on the White House lawn, President George W. Bush handed over his permanent squint, his bicycle pants, a tattered copy of the Constitution and the keys to Condoleeza Rice's and Joe Lieberman's and Harriet Miers' hearts to Evil in an unconditional surrender.

In a statement Bush said, "I guess I was wrong when I said in the 2006 State of the Union address: 'The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil.' Just put this incident in the file with the WMDs and all those times I claimed there have to be warrants for wiretaps and those times I swore I'd defend the Constitution, too. I thought since evil wasn't a country, I was in the clear. If only I looked over my right shoulder when delivering the speech I would have remembered Evil was there all along."

As a conciliatory gesture to Bush, who, Evil admitted, had sort of always been on his side anyway so had little left to give up, Evil opted to let Bush keep his mightily tough-talking way of clipping the "g's" on his words to seem more Texas tough. That's just so folks like Rich Lowry from the National Review who gets to ponitifcate on the ultra-liberal NPR can know Bush is talking to the people (them people, the ones without money and education and the stuff Rich and his friends have) when he says stuff like, "If there are people inside our country who are talkin' with Al Qaida, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again."
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