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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bush vs Churchill

Since Rudy Giuliani referred to George W. Bush as “America’s Churchill”, I thought a direct comparison of the biographies of the two men was in order. The Churchill biography is taken from a web page devoted to Churchill at the National Library of Scotland.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) vs George Walker Bush (1946-present)

His early life: Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on St Andrew's Day, 30 November 1874. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a younger son of the Duke of Marlborough. His mother, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of an American business tycoon.

Winston's childhood was privileged but not particularly happy. Like many Victorian parents, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill were distant figures. Letters from his schooldays reveal a willful and somewhat rebellious little boy.

George W. Bush’s early life: George Walker Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut on July 6th, 1946. He grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas, which made him slightly more of a Texan than his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, who would himself eventually become president. Bush’s grandfather would also serve as a U.S. senator, thus firmly establishing the younger Bush’s credentials as a man of the people. His mother, Barbara Pierce Bush, was an autocratic tyrant who could verbally disembowel the young man at 40 paces, and who’s angry glare once caused Lyndon Johnson to wet himself.

Bush’s childhood was privileged but not particularly happy. Like many upper class parents, Bush the Elder and Barbara were distant figures. Poorly crafted, almost dyslexic, letters from his schooldays reveal a willful and somewhat rebellious little boy. G.W. survived these rough early years by indulging his love of nature, which usually entailed torturing and then killing various small animals who were unfortunate enough to fall into his grasp.

A roving commission: In 1895 Churchill graduated from Sandhurst. He travelled to the United States and Cuba, saw action on the north west frontier of India in 1897, and the following year joined Kitchener's expeditionary force to the Sudan and participated in the cavalry charge against the Dervishes at the battle of Omdurman.

His adventures continued in 1899 when he sailed to South Africa as a correspondent of the Morning Post to cover the Boer War. He was captured and spent his twenty-fifth birthday as a prisoner of war, before escaping and making his way across the enemy lines to Durban.

GW’s roving commission: Between the ages of 20 and 25, GWB managed to graduate from both Yale University and Harvard. While at Yale he was a member of the exclusive Skull and Bones Society, and saw action at every available opportunity (nudge, nudge, wink, wink…). In his senior year he joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon expeditionary force that crashed a keg party at the Sigma Chi house. He was also on the cheerleading team.

Bush’s adventures continued at Harvard, where he received an MBA degree, an achievement notable for two reasons. The first being that he thus was the first president to hold an MBA degree, and the second being that his economic policies and poor record of success in the world of business proved once and for all the worthlessness of an MBA degree.

Bush avoided military service in Vietnam and was not a prisoner of war during this period. He was, however, pulled over by cops on a number of occasions after drinking a few too many, and let off with a warning after they learned how well connected he was. He spent his 25th birthday passed out on a friend’s sofa after a particularly hard night of partying, but bravely made it home the next morning.

The Young radical: Churchill was first elected to parliament in 1900, shortly before the death of Queen Victoria. He took his seat in the House of Commons as a Conservative member for Oldham. After four years he crossed the floor and joined the Liberals, rising swiftly through their ranks. As President of the Board of Trade he helped to lay the foundations of the welfare state, while his brief tenure as Home Secretary is still remembered for the Tonypandy Riot and the siege of Sidney Street.

GWB’s Lost Years: Bush spent most of the 70’s in an alcohol and drug induced stupor while his well-connected father tried to keep him from getting into too much trouble. At one point GW managed to cross a floor successfully without falling down, and this was hailed as great success by all concerned.

A frank and clear-eyed friendship: In 1908 Churchill married Clementine Hozier, granddaughter of the 10th Earl of Airlie. They had five children, four of whom survived into adulthood. The marriage was to prove a long and happy one, though there were quarrels. Their personal correspondence sheds much light on the private people behind the public myth. From the first years of their marriage Winston and Clementine routinely ended their letters with drawings. He was her 'pug' or 'pig'. She was his 'cat'.

A bleary-eyed friendship: In 1977 Bush married Laura Welch. His wife went through a stop sign in 1963 at the age of 17, killing one of her high school friends. The Bush’s have twin daughters, and Bush reportedly gave up drinking after they were born, succumbing to demands from his wife. Well, not exactly after they were born, more like five years after they were born, and a full nine years after their marriage, but who’s counting? So far neither Bush daughter has been involved in a homicide.

Bush has pet names for his wife, sometimes referring to her as “the lump” or “the lump in the bed”. Laura in turn includes pictures at the end of letters she writes to him, because in Bush’s own words, he “don’t read so good”.

The world crisis: By the time war broke out in 1914 Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty and already a major national figure. As the conflict in Europe degenerated into a stalemate he became convinced that the only way to end the war quickly was to mount a huge out-flanking attack on Turkey through the Dardanelles. But his attempts to force the straits using only ships foundered, leading to the disastrous Gallipolli landings and costing Churchill his job.

Rather than remain idle, Churchill sought active service on the Western Front. In January 1916 he was appointed as Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers.

GWB goes into business: Newly married and with children soon to be on the way, the now 31 year old Bush started in the oil industry in 1977 with the founding of Arbusto Energy. The company was set up using the remaining funds from his educational trust that had not spent on cocaine and hookers. Despite the abject failure of this enterprise, (Bush’s company never found a drop of oil), Bush was bailed out by family friends in the energy industry, parlaying his ownership of the failed company into positions as CEO and Board member on two other energy companies. It’s suspected but not proven that Bush was also guilty of insider trading while at Harken Energy; as President, Bush has prevented release of the SEC report on it’s investigation of this charge.

The member for Dundee: Churchill successfully contested Dundee for the first time in May 1908. His ministerial responsibilities kept him away from his constituency. There were also clear differences in lifestyle and background between Churchill and most of his constituents. By the time of the 1922 election, support for the Labour party had grown and the local newspapers were hostile to Churchill.

Worse still, appendicitis kept him from active campaigning.

Clementine spoke in her husband's place, but was spat upon for wearing pearls. When the result was declared, Churchill was left, as he wryly observed, without a seat, without a party and without an appendix.

Bush’s fails miserably: Bush ran unsuccessfully for congress in 1978. This was just one year after his marriage to Laura, and obviously a sad attempt to “prove himself” to his father. When the result was declared, Bush was left without a seat, passed put at a party, and with an inflamed liver. Subsequently came the alcoholic years, then the dry drunk years, and finally the failed businesses, which he was saved from only because of his father’s contacts. This protracted neutering that Bush suffered through eventually broke him spiritually, and he made a pact with Satan, aka Karl Rove, who would eventually come to play an important role in the life of the younger Bush.

From war to war: Between 1922 and 1924 Churchill left the Liberal party and rejoined the Conservatives. Anyone could 'rat', he remarked, but it took a certain ingenuity to 're-rat'. To his surprise he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in Stanley Baldwin's government - a position he held until the Tory defeat in 1929.

During the 1930s Churchill fell out with Baldwin over the question of giving India greater self-government and became more and more isolated in politics. His dire warnings about the rise of Hitler and the dangers of the appeasement policy initially fell on deaf ears.

Bush becomes President: Bush finally realized that a rich network of family connections would carry a man of his obviously limited ability only so far. Politics seemed the way to go, but this time Bush reentered public life guided by the firm, clammy hand of Karl Rove, who engineered a surprise victory over a popular Democrat incumbent Anne Richards to make Bush the Governor of Texas. This success was achieved largely due to a whispering campaign initiated by Rove that intimated that Richards was a lesbian.

Subsequently Bush ran for President in 2000, and managed to win in spite of himself, failing upwards as he had from the earliest days of his post-1977 adult life.

The finest hour: Churchill's role in the Second World War needs little introduction. His immediate contribution was to instill in the British people his own fiery resolve and will to resist. Throughout the tense summer of 1940, when Britain stood alone, his speeches proved an inspiration.

Yet Churchill did more than just talk. He toured the country inspecting the bomb-damaged towns and cities. He also worked tirelessly on diplomatic and military initiatives to regain the offensive. It was from Scapa Flow that he sailed in August 1941 for a crucial secret meeting with President Roosevelt.

9/11: Bush’s role in the days subsequent to the 9/11 attacks need little introduction. After shrugging off the threat of terrorist attacks for the better part of a year, Bush spent the early hours of September 11, 2001 bravely touring the country in search of a safe bunker to hide in. Weeks later he traveled to Ground Zero, where he posed standing next to a firefighter. Afghanistan was invaded, the Taliban overthrown, and Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al Quaida, was allowed to escape. Bush responded to this utter failure by working tirelessly on diplomatic and military initiatives to find an excuse to attack Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

The tide of victory: As the threat of German invasion receded, the tide of war began to turn. Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union brought Churchill an unlikely ally in the person of Joseph Stalin. The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour transformed the war into a truly global conflict. It also precipitated the United States into the war, and with the Americans came the promise of an ultimate Allied victory. By October 1942 Churchill clearly felt confident enough to accept the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.

Churchill worked tirelessly to keep the Grand Alliance alive, shuttling between capital cities and conferences. It is often forgotten that he celebrated his 70th birthday during the war. While he tried hard to project a fit and active public image, the strain inevitably took a toll on his health.

Catastrophic success: Bush invaded Iraq with a grand “Coalition of the Willing” that included the combined forces of Albania, Azerbaijan, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Micronesia, Tonga, and a few former colonial powers. Victory came quickly over a decrepit and demoralized Iraqi army, and by May of 2003 Bush clearly felt confident enough to prance around in a flight suit on the deck of an aircraft carrier under a banner reading “Mission Accomplished”. Subsequently the mission un-accomplished itself, and the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq approached 1000 by the time of the fall 2004 election.

While Bush tried hard to project a fit and active public image during this conflict, the strain inevitably took a toll on his health. On a number of occasions he fell off of various devices, including bicycles and Segways, and almost choked to death on a pretzel on at east one occasion.

The final years: Churchill did not allow his shock defeat in the 1945 General Election to silence him for very long. He remained a hugely important international figure, and used his status to speak out about the new threats posed by the Cold War and the need for reconciliation in Western Europe. In October 1951 the Conservative Party achieved a narrow victory at the polls and Churchill became Prime Minister once again. Failing health forced him to resign the premiership in April 1955, but he remained an MP until 1964.

The final years: Bush did not allow his shock defeat in the 2004 Presidential Election to silence him for very long. He remained a widely ridiculed international figure, but used his status as an ex-President to speak out about the threats posed by nuclear proliferation and poor reading skills. In November 2008 the Republican Party achieved a narrow victory at the polls and Bush’s brother Jeb became President. Bush was named to the cabinet in the newly created position of Secretary of False Compassion. Failing health brought on by years of substance abuse early in his life eventually caught up with him, and G.W. Bush passed away on July 14, 2009.

posted by gunther at 12:22 AM Link

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Psst, George! Stick to the script! Somebody really needs to get these guys a script. Yesterday on FOX, Newt Gingrich tried to save Bush’s ass by saying that it would be "silly" to argue that the war on terror could be won, conveniently ignoring Bush’s previous statements on the matter.

FOX News Channel contributor and former Republican speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Senator John Kerry would be "really silly" to argue that he could "win the war on terror." But President George W. Bush made precisely that claim just one month before he contradicted himself on August 30, saying, "I don't think you can win it."
Well I guess that Bush is a silly, silly man, because this is the news today:
President Bush tried today to stop the political fallout over his comments last weekend that the war on terror might not be winnable. Indeed, "we will win" that war, Mr. Bush told the national convention of the American Legion in Nashville. "We meet today in a time of war for our country, a war we did not start yet one that we will win," Mr. Bush said. He spoke on the second day of the Republican National Convention in New York City, where Mr. Bush will deliver his nomination-acceptance speech on Thursday.

posted by gunther at 1:38 PM Link

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Crossballs Update More on the conservative hand-wringing and whining over “Crossballs’. Not only is there a column up at the GOP website complaining about the show, but one of the expert guests is threatening legal action. James March, who is a lobbyist for the ‘Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms’, has whined about his treatment in this posting. Apparently ranting wasn’t enough for March, who in a letter dated May 28th, had his lawyer threaten Viacom that he would “exercise his legal remedies to the fullest extent of the law” unless they agreed not to broadcast the episode he was featured in. Here’s some commentary on a thread where the entire sorry episode is regurgitated:

“I thought the Debate Show (MTV Tv Production - I was interviewed and selected as a knowledgeable member of the gun community) would be an opportunity for me to support our side in protecting the Second Amendment. But, instead I was a set up for a comedy routine. I spent most of the day preparing. They stood me in the audience as if I were an audience member and asked me "what do you find interesting about shooting?". I answered that it is a zenish experience, timing the release of the trigger with the aiming of the firearm, that its fun and isnt an olympic sport for nothing. One of the panelists was an a**wipe commedian [ed: original spelling] and proceeded to show how i proved guns were just an extension of guys penis's. He had a penis pump that he brought out and asked one of the panelists if he'd agree to give up his guns in exchange for the penis pump. He reduced our gun rights to a penis pump. Basically i was the set up for HIS joke. I spent all f***king day prepping for this opportunity to debate about gun control and they reduced it to a joke. I walked off the set and demanded a car to take me home. that, or have the balls to put me back on. they didn't - i left... f**kers all. hollywood can suck my barrel! [ed: hmm, intended or unintended irony?].... they consider themselves so liberal, so passionate, yet they are a bunch of money hungry, dishonest sh**s! Pass along that the "Debate Show" is a bunch of liberal sh**ts setting up honest gun owners for their own comedic purposes. Dont be shy, they weren't. They tried to humiliate a member of our community. F'her the little lying biatch
And this is from Jim March himself:
Funny you should mention threats. The single biggest idiot was this...well, obviously professional actor, who supposedly had a psychology degree and was involved in "treating" people with "gun afflictions" by dealing with their underlying "sexuality issues". Ya. I knew things had gone WAY south once I realized this bizarre gadget he'd just handed me was something I'd vaguely heard of but never seen. A penis pump. Swear to God. Anyways. This same moron was also a "hunting advocate". 'Cept he didn't like guns. So he advocated "manly hunting". With rocks. Cut to video of three morons in camo wandering through the woods annoying various furred/feathered critters with thrown rocks. Ok, so by the end of this bizarre crap as the closing credits are rolling, he pulls out a fairly big rock and holds it in a throwing position, growling and snarling at me, and making pathetic throwing motions. I came *this* close to pulling a knife on his dumbass. Had my hand all the way in my pocket. Paused there, thought better of it.
WTF??!! No, I can’t imagine why anyone would think you’re a nutcase who deserved to be publicly ridiculed. March continued…
Another thing: the particular anti-gunner they "pitted me against" (camo hat boy) wasn't entirely acting. They've told me several times now that he does in fact hold strongly anti-gun positions. Which I well believe; he put a LOT of hardcore bitterness into his approach. Susan Marie Weber in contrast describes a more "playful, silly" tone on her episode, and the actor "pitted against her" didn't "go for the throat". My guy on the other hand... The sumbich literally had me in fear for my life once that dang rock came out.
Another participant in the thread chimes in with this helpful bit of advice…
You may have already covered this with your lawyer, but it strikes me that your biggest leverage in this whole mess is the guy with the rock. If he was an "employee" of the show (or otherwise "in on" the deception), it seems to me you have a really strong course of action against them due to the fact that an "employee" of theirs put you in fear of bodily harm. If the "rock guy" is NOT an "employee" of Viacom etc., it would seem you still have a good point to stick in them legally due to their negligence in creating an unsafe work environment and / or their participation in the conspiracy to create the tauma they caused you to suffer by their actions. Have you considered filing a police report against the "rock guy"? I seem to have heard that in many states it's a crime for one person to threaten the life of another person, and since you were feeling threatened enough to be prepared to defend yourself with a knife, what happened would certainly seem to qualify (and you have video tape as evidence!). The farther the police take this, the more likely ViaCom is to either hand you big gobs of cash, or at least never air your episode and maybe cancel the series.
And then there’s this…
Don't know if this matters, but was that rock real? When I was a kid I bought a fake rock, a tad bigger than a softball, but made of very soft, easily 'squish-able' foam. It looked like it came straight out of a granite quarry. Could not have weighed more than an ounce or two. The reason I ask is this; if it was real, you maybe could use that against the 'producers' for actually putting your life in danger. If it was fake, then the whole show was OBVIOUSLY misleading, and they then would not have a leg to stand on. Either way, you could use it to your (great) advantage.
You have to admit, that’s great legal reasoning. If the rock was real, Viacom is screwed because you’re safety was threatened. If it was fake, they’re screwed because it means the entire show was a fraud. Brilliant!! Actually, now I really want to see that episode.

posted by gunther at 4:32 PM Link

Crossballs Some conservative pundits are apparently upset at having been ambushed during participation in what they thought was a ‘Crossfire’ type talk show, only to learn that they’d been duped into appearing on a Comedy Central parody/prank show. The new show is titled ‘Crossballs’ and will begin airing shortly. The premise of the show is to invite one or two actual pundits or talking heads on the show, ostensibly to discuss a topic in their general area of expertise. However, the remaining guests on the show are actors who merely portray actual pundits/talking heads, and who do so in the most offensive, sophomoric, irreverent and humorous way possible. On paper it sounds like a better idea than it probably will turn out to be. Using over-the-top improvisational humor to skewer the pompous fakes who parade around TV spouting off about the topic du jour sounds like it could be highly entertaining. But I suspect the show will have limited shelf-life (at least one reviewer agrees). For one thing, the secret is apparently out. Recruiting serious guests to serve as victims will be increasingly hard once the show starts to air. It will probably become all but impossible to recruit anyone except the real fringe players, and embarrassing them on national TV wouldn’t really be entertaining; it would be kind of like making fun of retarded puppies. The second reason why this show seems destined to be a short-lived phenomenon is that judging from the few reports I’ve seen, the “experts” recruited to appear on the show are non-entities who even regular viewers of CSPAN wouldn’t be able to recognize. How is the Comedy Central audience supposed to be able to appreciate the humiliation of a gun-rights activist when they have no clue who the guy is to begin with? And if the point of the show is to watch the hi-jinks of the “fake” guests, why bother having real guests to begin with? Why not make the entire show a parody of talking head type confrontation shows? In the ads I’ve seen I recognized at least one of the actors involved on ‘Crossballs’ as being a member of the ‘Upright Citizens Brigade’, Matt Besser. When UCB appeared in Houston last year one of his bits involved playing for the audience a series of prank phone calls he’d made. It’s a long story, but apparently his actual phone number in NYC was only one digit removed from the support line number for an internet provider company. So, he’d get phone calls from perfect strangers at random times during the day and night, asking for help on getting their internet connection to work. After a while he got tired of explaining the mixup, and began to pretend that he was actually working at the help desk, providing useless but hilarious assistance to unsuspecting callers. Remembering his skill at improvising these bits with the increasingly confused customers makes me think that ‘Crossballs’ may be worth watching while it lasts. But don’t expect it to be around for long.

posted by gunther at 2:53 PM Link

Monday, June 28, 2004

Is Bush A Moron: Iraq Handover Today’s edition of IBAM is from a brief press conference held by Bush and Tony Blair during the NATO summit. The topic: the rushed handover of Iraq. Grade Level = 6.8 Reading Ease = 70.8 Grammar Measure = .113 (9 errors, 80 sentences)

He's a guy that stood up to Saddam Hussein.[“…who stood up to …”] And every conversation I've had with him has been one the recognizes human liberty, human rights.[???] He's the person that orders suiciders to kill women and children And we just -- and as Prime Minister Allawi has said publicly many times, he will not cower in the face of such brutal murder.[mangled] Look, they can't whip our militaries. They can't whip our militaries. [“military” or “military forces”] Afghanistan, which was a terrorist haven -- this is where the terrorists plotted and trained to come and kill, not only in America, but elsewhere -- is now heading toward elections. [mangled] And my position is, is the best way to defend yourself is to find the few, the few -- and I believe that's what he's saying, that we're going to find those few before they continue to bomb whoever happens to be in their way.[Just read it…] The more reconstruction there is, the more people willing to help with the education of children, the more people willing to help rebuild hospitals, the more people willing to be -- to help to rebuild this destroyed infrastructure, infrastructure destroyed by the Taliban or by Saddam Hussein, the better off the world will be. [mangled] And the -- actually, we've been contemplating this move for a while.[mangled]

posted by gunther at 4:51 PM Link

Friday, June 25, 2004

Is Bush A Moron: “Bomb Ireland” Edition Bush was interviewed by an Irish reporter prior to his visit to that country on the way to the NATO summit. It didn’t go exceedingly smoothly, because the reporter, unschooled in the protocol that American journalists have learned to follow, actually interrupted Bush a number of times when it became clear that he was not interested in really answering the questions posed. So expect the bombing of Ireland to start any day now… Here are the results: Grade Level = 5.8 Reading Ease = 74.1 Grammar Errors = .122 (15 errors, 123 sentences)

And if they think that a few soldiers represents the entirety of America, they don't really understand America then. [subject-verb agreement; “…then they don’t really understand America.”] Tony Blair has been a strong advocate for not only battling terrorists, but [also] promoting freedom, for which I am grateful. [but also] But, nevertheless, there's no doubt in my mind [that] President Chirac would like to see a free and democratic and whole Iraq emerge. But what they should be angry about is the fact that there was a brutal dictator there that had destroyed lives.[“…who had destroyed lives”] But we have found a capacity for him to make a weapon.[what?] And no one can argue that the world is better off with Saddam -- if Saddam Hussein were in power.[mangled] But the God I know is not one that -- the God I know is one that promotes peace and freedom.[mangled] Because one of the great admonitions in the Good Book is, don't try to take a speck out of your eye if I've got a log in my own. [what? Should be: “Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," while the log is in your own eye?] I wouldn't have made the decisions [that] I did if I didn't think the world would be better. One of our greatest allies of -- in the world is your neighbor, Great Britain. {mangled] We just had a difference of opinion about when you say something, do you mean it. And same in Afghanistan. [not a sentence] And America -- I'm the first President to ever have called for a Palestinian state.[mangled] That's, to me, sounds like a reasonable, balanced approach.[“That, to me, sounds like…”]

posted by gunther at 4:47 PM Link

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Is Bush A Moron: Jun 17, 2004 From comments made today after a cabinet meeting: Grade Level = 8.0 Reading Ease = 63.9% Grammar Errors = .225 (9 errors, 40 sentences) The errors were:

We discussed primarily the economy.[split infinitive] And I was pleased with the report I got. [“…the report that I received”] There's more to do to make sure [that] this growth is sustained throughout the decade. Primarily it requires a proper understanding of the role of government to the economy. [?? “…the role of government to the economy”?] …and to make sure [that] workers are trained for the jobs of the 21st century. We fully understand [that] terrorists will try to shake our will, The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. There's numerous contacts between the two.[number agreement]

posted by gunther at 1:38 PM Link

Friday, June 11, 2004

Is Bush A Moron: G8 Edition From Bush’s closing press conference at the conclusion of the G8 summit: Grade Level = 5.9 Reading Ease = 73.3% Grammar = .093 (26 errors, 281 sentences) The list of his errors follows:

There's excellent law enforcement operations -- joint operations.[“There are excellent…”] There's an enemy which lurks out there that is willing to kill on a moment's notice.[which/ vs that] The latest prosthesis were put on their hand -- were put on their arms.[protheses; hands] And in his lap was several weapons.[“…were several weapons…”] And therefore, it's a -- it's a easy place to start conversations.[mangled sentence; “an easy place…”] But democracy in the heart of the Middle East is going to be a -- an important change for that region, that troubled region. [a vs an] See, I believe [that] free societies best meet the aspirations of the people living in those societies. And now there's -- we will make sure he honors his commitment. [mangled] Okay, I'll give your question more answer.[WTF??] Because, you know -- and they're anxious that we honor what we say because they want to be free, they want to be free people. [mangled] No, I wasn't -- I was just kind of -- I'm trying to get to where your question is leading. It's -- that's -- that's the duty of a government, is to train and equip and provide police and army to protect their people from people who are willing to kill innocent life. I haven't talked to the Vice President about this matter, and I suggest -- recently -- and I suggest you talk to the U.S. Attorney about that. There's excellence -- there's excellent intelligence-sharing, And those were the instructions out of -- from me to the government. What she's referring to is a -- members of a Delta team came to see me in the Oval Office and brought with me -- these were the people that found Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, hiding in a hole. Saddam Hussein -- if you -- we had seven people come to my office. Seven people came to my -- they had their hands cut off because the Iraqi currency had devalued. And I am -- I am -- it -- I'm grateful for their bravery Is any local press here, at all, by the way? It -- look, this is -- we made the right choice to come down here for this summit. Look, there is -- we're united by values. And so, therefore, it's -- this is a -- it facilitates good and healthy conversation. I've got a -- I've got the -- I will be paying tribute to President Reagan here in about an hour and a half or so,…
Bush included a definition of “sovereignty” for those who are interested:
We'll respond to their requests when sovereignty is fully transferred. That's the definition of full sovereignty. You see, when a government is fully sovereign, they then make requests on behalf of their people.

posted by gunther at 2:05 PM Link

Monday, June 07, 2004

Someone’s Brain Must Have Been Outsourced On Lou Dobbs this evening, he was showing some examples of viewer mail on a topic that has attracted a great deal of his attention lately, outsourcing of jobs to low-wage countries like India. One of the letter sticks in my mind, and was from a Cathy Loring of Falls Church, Virginia. Thisd is taken verbatim from the transcript:

"I've heard numerous people on your show stipulate that the outsourcing of jobs will not affect our economy in a negative way and will actually allow for more jobs in the United States. However, in the mean time, who is paying into our social security system? People better wake up and smell the pitfalls before their cupboard is bare."
I’m sure that sets some type of record for the greatest number of metaphors ever to be mixed within the same sentence.

posted by gunther at 9:04 PM Link

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Why Would Anybody Want To Win This? Okay, I’ve been taking a break. A lot has happened. Torture, beheadings, train explosions in North Korea. Yes, a lot of reason to be alarmed and/or outraged. But what finally tipped the scales and got me to begin posting again was this (via TSN).

TORONTO - The World Cup of Hockey 2004 Organizing Committee unveiled the new WCH 2004 Championship Trophy on Wednesday. Designer Frank Gehry presented it to WCH 2004 Organizing Committee members Ted Saskin and Ken Yaffe at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Gehry, a Toronto native and life-long hockey fan, was approached by the WCH Organizing Committee last year to create a new trophy for the upcoming tournament that would reflect the global spirit of the game. The trophy will be awarded to the winning team September 14. "I was raised with it (hockey)," Gehry explained. "We were a poor family so the only thing I could do was listen to Foster Hewitt on Saturday night. It is because of my interest in hockey that I was even interested in designing the trophy. I think my understanding of the game and what trophies mean to players, and to the fans, made it a very important assignment." The trophy is comprised of four components: a base, pedestal, cup and shell. It's made from a composite alloy of copper and nickel as well as solid cast urethane. The pedestal and base provide support or a "stage" for the shell and cup. The cup sits inside the trophy and is removable from the top of the shell for engraving and display purposes. The shell is made of an array of twisted rectangular shapes sitting on end that are reminiscent of skate marks in the ice. Water-clear urethane was used to give the trophy an "ice-like" appearance and Stereo Lithography Apparatus (SLA) was used to precisely shape the components into a multi-dimensional puzzle. "I've seen all of the (NHL) trophies," he said. "They are all very traditional. I think the one thing about the first World Cup of Hockey trophy is that it broke from tradition and it opened the door for us to do a new one."
My first reaction upon seeing this monstrosity was to wonder whether it had actually been purchased at Ikea. Is it a spitoon? A planter? An umbrella holder? Would any self-respecting hockey player actually take pleasure at carrying this thing around the ice in a victory ceremony? It would be like being a parent who was presented with their child’s first efforts at ceramic art. Exactly how are you supposed to react to the misshapen lump of pottery that is possibly an ashtray, possibly a bowl, possibly a doorstop or paperweight? You repress the urge to vomit in your own mouth, and tell them how much you love it and are glad that they gave it to you. But you manage to, over time, shift it from it’s prominent position in the living room, onto shelves that are further and further away from the judgmental eyes of visitors. You can’t come right out and say what’s all too obvious; that it’s an incredibly ugly piece of crap that you’d prefer not to have to look at ever again. Similarly with this contribution from Mr. Gehry. He may be (according to critics, who of course are never wrong) one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, but I do know that this is possibly the worst trophy I have ever seen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see teams in the upcoming World Cup intentionally throwing games in order to avoid having to be associated with it in any way.

posted by gunther at 11:51 AM Link

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Is Bush A Moron, Episode 18: Bush Meets The Press Corps(e)

The White House press corps(e) showed a few signs of life tonight, but not nearly enough. When it gets to the point where Bush can joke about things being scripted, or make a big deal about getting asked a question that he wasn’t prepared for, things are pretty bad.

I just saw a bit of the analysis on the news shows, and astoundingly, it was almost praising him. Chris Matthews in particular kept going on about Bush’s “signs of humility”. I don’t know what drugs he was on when he watched the press conference, because I saw precious little evidence of humility. I mean, he was asked flat out whether he had anything to apologize for regarding the 9/11 attacks, and he just dodged the question. Where’s the humility there?

Anyway, here’s the data from the speech analysis:

Grade Level = 6.3

Reading Ease = 74.0

Grammar Index = .150 (62 errors, 413 sentences, or about 1 error in every 7 sentence spoken)
And now for the errors:
There's 135,000 now as a result of the changeover from one division to the next.[“there is/there are]

I'm constantly asking him does he have what he needs, whether it be in troop strength or in equipment.[“…whether in troop strength or…”]

He was a threat because he funded suiciders.[Ding! Ding! Ding! The magic word!

And one of the things was, he was amazed at how deceptive the Iraqis had been toward UNMOVIC and UNSCOM, deceptive in hiding things.[“…was that he was amazed…”]

This guy was a torturer, a killer, a maimer.[Is “maimer” a word?]

There's mass graves.[there is/there are]

I mean, he was a horrible individual that really shocked the country in many ways,[“individual who really shocked the country…”]

I was — on that day, I was angry and sad.[mangled sentence]

Angry that al Qaeda — I thought at the time al Qaeda, found out shortly thereafter it was al Qaeda — had unleashed this attack.[mangled sentence; missing “that”]

There was, you know, kind of departments that at times didn't communicate[“There was, you know, kind of departments…”????]

In other words, he would serve it as a blackmail.[Not sure what to make of this. Could be “It would serve as blackmail”, or “use it as blackmail”. “Serve as a blackmail” makes it sound like Hussein was serving shots.]

And I presume the 9/11 commission will find out — will follow up on his suggestions and his recollection, and garner the truth.[mangled sentence]

And my answer to that question is, is that, again I repeat what I said earlier, prior to 9/11, the country really wasn't on a war footing.[“…question is that…”]

And so what I'm telling you is, is that sometimes we use military as the last resort,[“…telling you is that sometimes”; “use the military as…”]

I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it. [“…wish that you had given me…”; “so that I could have planned for it”]

our commanders on the ground have got the authorities necessary to deal with violence[“have the authority…”]

They want security so [that] they can advance toward a free society.

Every threat we must take seriously.[“we must take every threat seriously”]

I thought it was very interesting that Charlie Duelfer, who just came back — he's the head of the Iraqi Survey Group — reported some interesting findings from his recent tour there.[“thought that it was”; mangled sentence]

And that money is — it will benefit the Iraqi people.[mangled sentence]

And they were happy — they're not happy they're occupied.[mangled sentence]

Let me put that quote to Woodward in context, because he had asked me if I was — something about killing bin Laden.[mangled sentence]

And why — I say that because that provides the ability for our agencies to coordinate better and to work together better than it was before.[I just give up…]

The lessons of 9/11 — one lesson was we must deal with gathering threats, and that's part of the reason I dealt with Iraq the way I did.[mangled sentence]

the truth of the matter is [that] most in the country never felt that we'd be vulnerable to an attack such as the one that Osama bin Laden unleashed on us.

I changed the way that the relationship between the president and the CIA director.[This isn’t a sentence]

Yes, John, my response is [that] I don't think people ought to demean the contributions of our friends into Iraq. People are sacrificing their lives in Iraq from different countries.[“People from different countries are sacrificing…”]

We would have had — we hadn't got our relationship right with Pakistan yet.[mangled sentence]

And therefore, when we see threats overseas, we got to take them — look at them in a new light.[“we’ve got to take them/look at them”]

The American people need to know [that] my last choice is the use of military power.

It is something that — it's a decision that is a — it's a tough decision to make for any president because I fully understand the consequences of the decision.[mangled sentence; I guess this means that the decisions where he has no idea of the consequences are the easy ones.]

Libya was a nation that had — we viewed as a terrorist — a nation that sponsored terror, a nation that was dangerous because of weapons.[mangled]

It's a dangerous — it was a dangerous network that we — that we unraveled.[ditto]

You know, I just — I'm sure [that] something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer.[mangled sentence; He must have been having some sort of flashback episode to his MBA days at Yale at this point in the press conference…]

You know, I hope I — I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes; I'm confident [that] I have. I just haven't —you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not quick — as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.[mangled sentence. Actually this part of the transcript is rather creepy; classic psychopathic behavior – “The psychopath is one of the most fascinating and distressing problems of human experience. For the most part, a psychopath never remains attached to anyone or anything. They live a "predatory" lifestyle. They feel little or no regret, and little or no remorse - except when they are caught. They need relationships, but see people as obstacles to overcome and be eliminated. If not, they see people in terms of how they can be used. They use people for stimulation, to build their self-esteem and they invariably value people in terms of their material value (money, property, etc..).

A psychopath can have high verbal intelligence, but they typically lack "emotional intelligence". They can be expert in manipulating others by playing to their emotions. There is a shallow quality to the emotional aspect of their stories (i.e., how they felt, why they felt that way, or how others may have felt and why). The lack of emotional intelligence is the first good sign you may be dealing with a psychopath. A history of criminal behavior in which they do not seem to learn from their experience, but merely think about ways to not get caught is the second best sign. "

And I heard — I heard a summary of that from Director Mueller, who feels strongly that we — and he'll testify to that effect, I guess, tomorrow.

I shouldn't be prejudging his testimony, but what — my point was that I'm open for suggestions.

So long [as] I'm the president, I will press for freedom.

Those who yell will not be asked to -- I'll tell you a guy who I have never heard from.

I look forward to helping — for the American people to hear, you know, what is the proper use of American power?

One thing is for certain, though, about me.[“One things is certain, though, about me”]

posted by gunther at 12:35 AM Link

Monday, April 12, 2004

IBAM Episode 17: Happy Easter

Today’s episode is for a brief meeting Bush had with the press pool on Easter. The primary topic discussed was the famous PDB memo that was declassified earlier, in which Bush was warned about Al Quaeda’s plans to carry out attacks in the U.S. The short story: “If we’d known the exact date, time, place and flight numbers, we would have done something about it.”

Grade Level = 6.6

Reading Ease = 72.0%

Grammar Index = .152 (9 errors, 59 sentences)
The following is a list of most of the errors made during the Q/A session with reporters:
Obviously, I pray every day there's less casualty. [“..there are fewer casualties…”, “there’ll be fewer casualties…”]

But I know [that] what we're doing in Iraq is right

My response was exactly like then as it is today,…[“was exactly like then…”???]

As you might recall, there was some specific threats for overseas that we reacted to. [“…there were some specific threats…]

Had I known [that] there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved mountains to stop the attack.

I would have done everything I can.[“I would have done everything that I could”]

That's -- we were doing precisely what the American people expects us to do:[“…expected us to do”]

…it was hijacking of airplanes in order to free somebody that was being held as a prisoner in the United States. [“…to free someone who was being held…”]

posted by gunther at 4:26 PM Link

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

IBAM Episode 16: Snarkiness, Freudian Slips and a Surprising Bit of Vocabulary

Today’s edition of “Is Bush A Moron” includes three samples from recent days. The first comes from a brief exchange with reporters, where Bush showed some level of snarkiness (or something) in his interaction with “the AP guy”. It was cited by a couple of bloggers as an example of --- well, I’m not exactly sure. My interpretation was that it was yet another case of Bush getting testy when members of the press aren’t sufficiently servile. In this case, it was a reporter who addressed him as “Sir”. This seemed to tick him off, as follows:

THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you a couple of questions. Who is the AP person?

Q I am.

THE PRESIDENT: You are? [Then ask it…]

Q Sir, in regard to --

THE PRESIDENT: Who are you talking to?

Q Mr. President, in regard to the June 30th deadline, is there a chance that that would be moved back?
And so it continued… Apparently members of the press are expected to address Bush as “Mr. President”, or failing that, as “Your Excellency” or “Oh Exalted One”. “Hey, Asshole” is not recommended.

The other two samples are pretty standard, and come from campaign appearances on 4/5/04 in Charlotte, NC and on 4/6/04 in El Dorado, AK. Summary statistics for these appearances are below:
language usage index scores
Sample Reading Ease Grade Level BRI-2
Press Pool (4/5/04) 69.8% 7.5 .152
Charlotte, NC (4/5/04) 68.0% 7.2 .123
El Dorado, AK (4/6/04) 75.5% 5.6 .116
Average 71.1% 6.7 .130
Samples pulled from these appearances are below:
But the family was pleased to hear that we -- its son would not have died in vain.[mangled sentence]

No, the intention is to make sure the deadline remains the same. I believe we can transfer authority by June 30th. [missing “that”;”…make sure that the deadline…”, …believe that we can transfer…”]

The United Nations representative is there now to work on the -- on a -- on to whom we transfer sovereignty. [mangled sentence]

…my judgment is, is that the closer we come to the deadline, the more likely it is people will challenge our will. [“…the more likely it is that people will challenge…”]

…that's why the CPA issued the statement they issued. [“…statement that they issued.”]

But, Stretch, I think throughout this period there's going to be tests. [“there are going to be tests”]

Because one of the things that's going to be very important for the next ambassador to Iraq -- this will be the person that takes Jerry Bremer's place -- will be the willingness and capability of working with a very strong -- a country in which there's a very strong U.S. military presence, as well as a coalition presence. [mangled sentence]

It took me very little time to make up my mind, once I determined al Qaeda to do it, to say, we're going to go get them.[????]

I want to thank the staff for putting up with me and the entourage. [the entourage and me]

I am optimistic about our future, not only because of what I see today, but because of what I know we have overcome.[“…but also because…]

Let me just review right quick the economic history of the last couple of years.

It's a day in which we realized oceans could no longer protect us from enemies which hate what we stand for.[“..realized that oceans…”; “…enemies that hate…”]

That was one of the changes that was necessary in order to protect this country.[“…that were necessary…”]

There's still a gap, but nevertheless, more people are owning their own home.[“…people own their own home”]

Biotechnology are strong.[“Biotechnology is strong.”]

…it seems reasonable to ask the question whether or not there's results.[…whether or not there are results”]

Money from those grants go to about 3,500 state and local one-stop centers around the country.[‘’goes to about 3,500…”]

We want the governors -- and let the governors distribute the money to programs which actually are training people for jobs which exist.[which vs that]

And as a result of micromanagement -- missed opportunities for jobs which exist in the communities, in which people are looking for work.[which vs that]

But, unfortunately, there's loopholes in the program.[“…there are loopholes…”]

It was a different -- we entered a different period on that day.[mangled sentence]

It's also that day, right after that day, I announced a doctrine that said,[“it was also that day (?)”]

I looked at the information on Iraq and -- the intelligence -- and saw a threat.

We're still being challenged in Iraq, and the reason why is a free Iraq will be a major defeat in the cause of terror.[“…the reason why is that a free Iraq…”]

Finally, another thing we need to do is we need an energy policy in this country.

What I'm telling you is, is that in order for this job base to be secure,

What I'm telling you just doesn't apply to the automobile manufacturing world.[“What I’m telling you doesn’t just apply to…”]

I mean, when you -- there's a lot of -- the main reason why people from around the world want to come here to study is because we're on the leading edge of change.[mangled sentence]

You just heard me describe how your state has changed, and it's going to even change even faster as time goes on.[“It’s going to even change even faster”????]

And the reason you ask that -- I asked that question, at least, is because I believe every child can learn.

And now people that were once in the textile industry are now in the health care industry, making more money, I want you to know.[“…people who were once…”]

The program spends about $4 billion a year in grants on states -- to states.

One of my jobs as the President is to analyze programs, and if they're not doing the job they're supposed to do, is to redesign them so they do the job they're supposed to do, so that we properly spend taxpayers' money.

In other words, we need to make the system more flexible, more available to workers, and less dependent on foreign -- of federal rules, in order to make sure that the money gets to the people who need it most.

So, step one is to change the system on how -- the relationship between the federal government and the state government.

We believe that by making sure the cap is a strong cap on overhead money, we will save about $300 million, which means an extra $100,000 -- a 100,000 workers get trained.

And so what we need to do is to make sure that people are judged -- people who are spending your money are judged on what we care about.

And if the state doesn't make progress, then it only makes sense to take some of the money that is being sent to the states and send it directly to the job trainers, so that we actually do meet what we expect to have happen, and that is people being trained for the jobs which exist.

It's a legitimate role of the federal government, is to help people who want to help themselves.

They realize their job -- they could be doing better.

And Mackham will tell you there's a lot of brave people there that want to be free [there is/there are]

There's economic isolationists that want to wall us off from the rest of the world.[ditto]

See, one of the things we did, in working with the Congress, is reduce the effects of the marriage penalty.[“…things that we did…was to reduce the effects…”]

We want there to be a small business sector which is really strong.[which/that]

There's jobs.[“there are jobs”]

It's just some people are used to working in different kind of fields.[“it’s just that…”; “…kinds of fields”]

If you've got yourself a retired NASA employee in your neighborhood, it seems like to me you want to be able to have that person go into the classrooms and teach science or math.[“…It seems to me that…]

That means people need to be, in some cases, reeducated for the jobs which exist.[“…means that people…..for jobs that exist”]

There's ways to find work, it's just up to you.[there is/there are]

There's a lot of people wondering whether or not they can go back to school.[ditto]

There's a lot of second chances in this world to go back to school.[ditto]

But let me remind you right quick what we have come through

When I was coming up -- in Midland, Texas, I want you to know -- there you go -- which is where Laura is today, helping her Mom move, and she sends her love -- but we thought oceans could protect us from harm's way.[mangled sentence]

Threats are dealt in different ways, by the way.[???? “Dealt with in different ways”???]

Not every threat is dealt with the way I decided to deal with the threat in Iraq. [this one just gives me a headache…]

We're not going to cut and run from the people who long from freedom.[“Long from freedom”???]

I want to appreciate your service.[This just confused me. Is he trying to say that he appreciates their service? That he wants to express appreciation? Or that he wants to be able to feel that he appreciates their service. But at some indefinite point in the future?]

If you're somebody looking for work, it's going to be harder to find work when the country is thinking about, we're going to war.

The cost of health care is tough to expand the job base.[What the hell does this mean?]

That's an interesting statistic I want people to focus on right quick.

In other words, there's going to be jobs

And there's ways to get retrained for the jobs.

I think all high schools ought to participate in what's called the NAEP. The NAEP is a national norming test. It's not a national test. It says, there is -- they take the Arkansas test and they compare them to other states to determine whether or not standards are being met. That's all it is.[That makes it perfectly clear. NOT]

In other words, we've got some kids -- one of the things that's important for those of us in positions of responsibility, you've got to be just flat honest about things.

But it says to a kid -- take math and science, is what it takes.

The other thing I want to do is to make a -- we've set up a Presidential Math and Science Scholars Fund, $50 million of federal money matched by $50 million in the private sector -- we'll be able to raise that -- that says that when you go to college, we'll enhance your Pell Grant if you continue to take math and science programs.

…that there's a lot of people that need help now…

See, that's the way you make sure people are trained for jobs which exist. [“…the way that you make sure…”; “…jobs that exist”]

That's what your -- you get productivity increases.

And I want to appreciate you very much, Bob, for being a responsible CEO,…[He did it again! “I want to appreciate you, Bob, but I’m just not in the mood today. Maybe tomorrow, when the voices in my head have stopped”]

First, I want to congratulate her on being her valedictorian of her high school class.

In order to make sure jobs are here -- stay at home -- in order to make sure the country is leading edge of technological change, we have got to make sure people have the skills necessary to fill those jobs.

Just to close with two points. One, and it may have been a Freudian slip, but during one of the speeches, Bush used the line “Laura reminded me that one time on the TV screens in the summer of 2000 we saw, "March to War." He usually phrases this as “summer of 2002” in his canned speech, but maybe the truth inadvertently came out.

Finally, and this was a shocker, he actually used the word “peroration” in a sentence, and actually seemed to be using it correctly. It came towards the end of the speech in Arkansas, when Bush said:
You want to say something? Yes, okay. Here I am in my "peroration." That's kind of the emotional part before the conclusion. Anyway, go ahead.
The dictionary defines “peroration” as follows:
Noun; the conclusion of a speech or discourse, in which points made previously are summed up or recapitulated, esp. with greater emphasis.
Wonders never cease.

posted by gunther at 4:52 PM Link

Monday, April 05, 2004

Is Bush A Moron, Episode 15

It’s been longer, much longer than I had planned on since my last posting to this site. But I’m back today with a new edition of IBAM, and am busily working on yet another one that I hope to have up by Monday. In the meantime, I welcome the small band of loyal visitors to this site; I had a brief a few weeks ago when a posting I’d done months ago concerning the Texas redistricting case was linked to by Bart Cop. But fame is fleeting, site visits are down, and I’m resigned to languishing in obscurity on the periphery of the world of blogdom.

Two sets of data today from back in late February. In one, Bush answers a few questions while meeting with Georgian President Saakashvili on 2/25/04. He also met with the German Chancellor on 2/27, and spoke on the economy during a campaign stop in Louisville, Kentucky on 2/26. I have a large backlog of these to post but for now this should satisfy the masses. Here are the numbers:

language usage index scores
Sample Reading Ease Grade Level BRI-2
Saakashvili (2/25/04) 63.1% 7.7 .057
German Chancellor 62.1% 8.0 .107
Louisville, KY (2/26/04) 68.7% 6.9 .108
Average 64.6% 7.5 .091
Below are selected quotes from The Leader’s mouth. Some are annotated with the actual error, others are just there for you to marvel at.
We're going to start with the American press, and then there will be a Georgian press, and then there will be an American press, and then there will be a Georgian press.[Is he referring to journalists or wrestling moves?]

Hopefully, as the Georgia economy approves -- improves -- and I'm confident it will -- there will be opportunities for business opportunities.[approves vs improves; missing “that”; “…opportunities for business opportunities…”]

So the President has got a good vision and this has been a good trip.

It's one of the things that, I think, makes the country unique and strong.[“…one of the things that…make the country unique…]

Then we had some corporate scandals, scandals which affected our confidence.[that vs which]

And that obviously was not only in Afghanistan, but in Iraq. [“but also in Iraq]

But we can have an environment so if somebody decides to take the risk, that they can succeed and, therefore, end up employing people.
One of the exiting things about our country is that there's a lot of companies run by very skilled women.[“there are a lot of companies…]

And the best way to talk about it is to have people who are actually living lives that -- which have been affected by policy.

Jim was bragging backstage about the success of this company is really based upon the fact you've got great workers [“that the success of this company…”; “…the fact that you’ve got great workers”]

There's a person I met at the airport I want to herald.

It also affected our psychology, made us realize oceans were no longer -- could no longer protect us from an enemy which hates what we stand for. [mangled sentence; which/that]

But we dealt with it straightforward.[??????]

Saddam Hussein said, I'm not going to expose my weapons, I'm not going to get rid of my -- I'm not going to allow inspectors in, he said.

We overcame it because the role of government is not to manage the economy, the role of government is to create an environment in which entrepreneurs are willing to create risk and create new jobs.[Just what the country needs – more entrepreneurs who are willing to create risk!]

Now, let me talk about the death tax, right quick.

I think a person ought to be able to live their farm -- leave their farm to whomever they choose.

It makes -- it's, in my judgment, bad policy, and it's on its way to being put to extinction.

I say, on its way -- you'll hear me talk in a minute that these -- some of these taxes don't really go away.

The cost of frivolous and junk lawsuits is high on our society.

Going to change unless Congress acts.[Not sentence.]

We need to make sure our job-training programs work.[missing “that”]

This is a major initiative of our administration, is to provide the opportunity for people to retrain so that their skills -- they've got the skills necessary for the new jobs being created in this economy.

Because there's thousands of companies all across America.[there is/there are]

Women-owned business is, I think, a very hopeful part of the future of this country.

That's code word for, I'm going to raise your taxes.

And, by the way, you can't have investment unless there's savings.[there is/there are]

I often have to argue that the tax relief was better spent than government could have spent the money.

It's a -- it affected -- I appreciate the checks finally arriving.

posted by gunther at 11:59 PM Link

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Yet More Evidence That The Democrats Should Ignore The South

Concerned that there hadn’t been enough recent news stories depicting southerners as stupid, ignorant rednecks, the Georgia legislature passed a law banning women from getting genital piercings. All women, young, old, whether voluntary or not.

Genital piercings for women were banned by the Georgia House Wednesday as lawmakers considered a bill outlining punishments for female genital mutilation.

The bill would make such mutilation punishable by two to 20 years in prison. It makes no exception for people who give consent to have the procedure performed on their daughters out of religious or cultural custom.

An amendment adopted without objection added "piercing" to the list of things that may not be done to female genitals. Even adult women would not be allowed to get the procedure. The bill eventually passed 160-0, with no debate.

Amendment sponsor Rep. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, was slack-jawed when told after the vote that some adults seek the piercings.

"What? I've never seen such a thing," Heath said. "I, uh, I wouldn't approve of anyone doing it. I don't think that's an appropriate thing to be doing."

The ban applies only to women, not men. The bill has already been approved by the Senate but now must return to that chamber because of the piercing amendment. Both chambers of the Legislature must agree on a single version of a bill before it can go to the governor for final approval.
I can only hope that the “I’ve never seen such a thing” comment from Rep. Heath refers to pierced female genitalia, rather than female genitalia in general. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter was the case.

posted by gunther at 5:04 PM Link

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Susan Lindauer Follow-up

Another bizarre factoid concerning the case of Susan Lindauer, who has been charged with being an Iraqi spy. It turns out that her name shows up on a public petition sponsored by the “Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation”. Lindauer signed the petition, and her name and address can be seen here. the petition was for those who wanted to “stop the spread of the anti-terrorist war to Iraq”. As they describe themselves,

[The] WWFOR seeks to replace violence, war, racism and economic injustice with nonviolence, equality, peace and justice. It links and strengthens FOR members and chapters throughout Western Washington in promoting activities consistent with the national FOR statement of purpose. WWFOR helps members and chapters accomplish together what we could not accomplish alone.

FOR is a faith-based, interfaith, pacifist organization which works on a variety of peace and justice issues.
It is affiliated with the “National Fellowship of Reconciliation”.and the International Fellowhip of Reconciliation.

All of which raises the question: If someone is really involved in spying for Iraq, why in the world would they publicly sign a petition opposing the invasion of Iraq, knowing full well that signing such a petition would likely bring themselves to the attention of government authorities? More to the point, is Lindauer being targeted at least partially because of her opposition to the Iraq invasion?

posted by gunther at 2:53 PM Link

Is Susan Lindauer Really a Spy

According to this story, an American citizen has been arrested and charged with being an Iraqi spy.

Susan Lindauer, 41, was arrested in her hometown of Takoma Park, Md., and was to appear in court later in the day in Baltimore, authorities in New York said.

She was accused of conspiring to act as a spy for the Iraqi Intelligence Service and with engaging in prohibited financial transactions involving the government of Iraq under dictator Saddam Hussein

According to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Lindauer made multiple visits from October 1999 through March 2002 to the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations in Manhattan.

There, she met with several members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, the foreign intelligence arm of the government of Iraq that allegedly has played a role in terrorist operations, including an attempted assassination of former President George H.W. Bush, the indictment alleged.
What makes this story interesting is that the same Susan Lindauer’s name pops up in a number of web posting concerning the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. Specifically, concerning allegations that the U.S. government shifted blame from Syria onto Libya as payback for Syria’s support of the first Gulf war in 1991.

Lindauer, then a congressional staffer, met in 1994 with a Dr. Richard Fuiz, who was alleged to be a CIA operative in Syria during the 1980s. Fuiz had a gag order placed in him by the Clinton administration shortly after this meeting, preventing him from publicly commenting on the issue. The following comes from a web posting describing this initial meeting between Lindauer and Fuisz (see also here). Note especially the section where Lindauer claims that she was (at the time) a victim of surveillance and harassment.
Last month, MEIB reported that Dr. Richard Fuisz, a major CIA operative in Syria during the 1980s, met with a congressional staffer by the name of Susan Lindauer in 1994 and told her that that the perpetrators of the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland were based in Syria. One month after their meeting, the Clinton administration, which holds Libya responsible for the bombing, placed a gag order on Dr. Fuisz to prevent him from publicly discussing the issue.

While Dr. Fuisz is still unable to comment on this matter because of the gag order, MEIB has obtained a copy of a formal deposition filed by Lindauer in 1998 in which she recounts this conversation in detail. This deposition (see below) has been submitted to the court in which two Libyan suspects are currently on trial and to U.N. officials, who have attempted to persuade the Clinton administration to lift the gag order on Dr. Fuisz.

Lindauer says that she has been subject to intense surveillance, threats, and attacks since she began meeting with Libyan officials in 1995 to discuss her knowledge of the Lockerbie bombing. "Someone put acid on the steering wheel of my car on a day I was supposed to drive to NYC for a meeting at the Libya House. I scrubbed my hands with a toilet brush, but my face was burned so badly that 3 weeks later friends worried I might be badly scarred," Lindauer told MEIB. "Also, my house was bugged with listening devices and cameras -- little red laser lights in the shower vent. And I survived several assassination attempts."
So, is Susan Lindauer an Iraqi spy? Is she being set up? Is she a nut case? This is all very curiuous, and something tells me that there’s both more and less to this story than there would appear to be at first glance.

It does seem, from the meagre evidence I've found, that Lindauer may be a bit of a flake. "Little red laser lights in the shower vent", acid, and assassination attempts? If these staements from Lindauer are accurate, then either she is a victim of some serious government malfeasance or she is totally unreliable as a witness for anything. And if the later is true, why is the government wasting time chasing down and investigating someone who is possibly delusional?

posted by gunther at 12:40 PM Link

Friday, March 05, 2004

Group That Stopped Gay Marriages in New Paltz Was Involved in Florida (2000) Recount

The latest news out of New Paltz, NY is that a judge has issued a restraining order blocking the mayor of the town from performing any more same-sex marriages.

ALBANY, N.Y. - A state judge on Friday barred the mayor of a college town from performing more same-sex marriages for a month, saying Jason West was ignoring his oath of office.

State Supreme Court Justice Vincent Bradley issued a temporary restraining order against the 26-year-old New Paltz mayor at the request of the Florida-based Liberty Council, which acted on behalf of a local resident.
The Liberty Council is affiliated with Jerry Falwell Ministries. A little bit of research turns up the fact that the Liberty Council was also involved with attempts to stop hand-counting of ballots during Florida’s recount fiasco that followed the 2000 presidential election. According to this story at WorldNetDaily, the Liberty Council filed an appeal on behalf of three Florida residents to stop the hand counting, which ultimately was stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which governs the state of Florida, has agreed to expedite an appeal filed Wednesday by three Florida residents who claim the hand counting of ballots in selected Florida counties -- all of which have canvassing boards controlled by Democrats -- is unconstitutional. The appeal asks the court to immediately halt the manual recounts of ballots.

On Wednesday, a judge, appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton within the past six months, denied a request for a temporary restraining order on the hand counting procedures. Liberty Counsel immediately appealed that decision to the 1lth Circuit Court of Appeals. (Jim Bopp, an Indiana attorney, is assisting Liberty Counsel in this appeal.)

The three Florida residents bringing this appeal are represented by Liberty Counsel, the religious freedom law firm that recently became affiliated with Jerry Falwell Ministries. Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, and my son, Jerry Falwell Jr., serve as co-counsel of the organization. While Liberty Counsel has been involved in some crucial religious freedom cases in recent months, this appeal could very well be the most significant one it ever presents in court. In fact, this case could make history as a determining factor in the final decision of who will sit in the Oval Office as our nation's president.
I’d say that last statement was accurate. Yes, it’s interesting that the same outfit that was deeply involved in the sequence of events that ended up with George Bush in the White House, is also behind the legal actions to block gay marriages in New York. Also the fact that they’re linked to Jerry Falwell.

Liberty Council has been involved with a ton of lawsuits along this general line, including one where they successfully sued a transit system because they had refused to accept advertising for a seminar on “preventing homsexuality”. Also here, here, and here. Hell, let’s just let them tel you themselves the things they’ve been involved in, as they boast on this page.

They were also behind this nuisance suit that tried to overturn the civil union laws in Vermont.

posted by gunther at 4:12 PM Link

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Is Bush A Moron Episode 14: Campaign Mode

This week’s episode of IBAM covers four recent events. Three of these amounted to campaign appearances, although they weren’t billed as such. The fourth was an interview that Bush did with a correspondent for an Arabic TV network (and no, it wasn’t Al Jazeera).

The three campaign appearances were on Feb 13 at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC; on Feb 16 at Nuair Manufacturing in Tampa, Florida; and remarks on the economy at an event held Feb 19 in the Presidential Hall of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in DC. The interview was posted on the Whitehouse website on Feb 18, although the transcript indicates that it took place on January 29. It was conducted by Mouafac Harb of the “Middle East Television Network”. The METN is the propoganda network created by the U.S. State Department and broadcasts Arabic programming by satellite from the ancient middle-eastern city of Springfield, VA.

The scores are mediocre as usual. It’s also notable just how poorly Bush did during the interview, where almost a fifth of his statements (17%) had some sort of grammatical error.

language usage index scores
Sample Reading Ease Grade Level BRI-2
Archbishop Carroll HS (2/13/04) 72.7% 6.3 .072
NuAir Manuf. (2/16/04) 70.7% 6.6 .069
Eisenhower Bldg (2/19/04) 68.7% 6.9 .085
Arabic TV (2/18/04) 66.2% 7.5 .172
Average 69.6% 6.8 .099
Below is a list of representative speech errors by Bush from these four appearances. And believe me, I’ve dropped a lot of them out:
I think it's very important for us to work, not only in D.C., but around the country for…[missing “that”; “but also…”]

A society that doesn't want to leave any child behind is a society which says,…[“…a society that…”]

…why is Catherine making a unbelievably tough call to drive hours to another state, or out of this district to a state. [“an unbelievably tough call…”]

You know, when I was looking for a Secretary of Education, I wasn't interested in finding a theorist, somebody who talked about the philosophy of the education, or talking about somebody -- trying to find somebody who has actually done it. [broken/mangled sentence]

So I think we need to raise the bar everywhere [“… think that we need…”]

Then I think you've got measure. [What???]

And when you find a child that needs help. [“…who needs help”]

…a parent has got the ability to take extra money [“…has the ability…”]

But the other thing about local control of schools, is the more power there is at the local level, the more parents have an opportunity to change things. […is that the more power there is…”]

I know you got an advertising campaign getting ready to go. [“I know that you have…”]

They also take on a lot of students that are the so-called hard to educate, [“…students who are…”]

There's some other things we need to do here in this country. [“there is” vs “there are”]

There's some powerful interests in Washington that don't want to see this happen. [ditto]

There's a couple of things she said. [ditto]

There's a lot of fantastic community college systems here in Florida and around the country. [ditto]

But as the economy changes, as these new machines come into be, people need to learn how to use them.[??? “as these new machines come into be”?]

The American way is understanding people come here to put food on the table for their children. [verb use (“…is to understand”); missing “that” (“…is to understand that…”)]

The fact that you're willing to get in there and race those kind of cars on those steep banks says a lot about you, though -- positive, I might add. [“those kinds”]

But the fact that there's more money in your pockets have made this economy strong. [“…has made this economy strong”]

But there has been some pretty interesting points that have come out of it. [“have been…”]

And then, of course, there's the individual stories about hard-working, decent Americans worried about their families and what they do with the more money in their pocket. [“there are the individual stories…”; “the more money in their pocket”???]

The strength of this country is the fact we've got people who are willing to volunteer to serve a neighbor in need. [missing “that”]

It means our workers become the best in the world, [missing “that”]

One, the workers here, it means that there's reliable jobs. [“there is” vs “there are”]

And that's why so much talk with the economists are about -- are people investing, because that investment cycle will lead to the increase of employment.[“…talk with the economists is about…”]

And so Sam -- Sam is a person who -- Sam has got him a small business [mangled sentence; “Sam has a small business”]

And therefore we need a work system that is -- promotes legal activity, not illegal activity. [mangled sentence]

But we've also got to make sure -- but personal responsibility being responsible for your families, also an important part of making sure people get educated here. [mangled sentence]

It means they've got more money to make decisions, whether it's to save or go on a vacation to Texas, or to have a quality of life issue at home [just think about this one for a bit…]

There needs to be serious consequences for people who are -- don't tell the truth. [need/needs; mangled sentence]

Unreliable supplies of energy creates uncertainty for price. [“…supplies of energy create…”]

There's some special interests here in Washington… [“there is” vs “there are”]

And these tax relief will be -- will expire on an irregular basis. [“this tax relief…”; mangled sentence]

The tax burden will go up by $2,000 if they doesn't make the tax cuts permanent. [??? “…if they doesn’t”??]

Let me walk you through, right quick, of what these families and small business owners and large business and CEOs have dealt with, [“let me walk you through…of what these families…”??]

When you turn on your TV screen in the summer of 2002 and it says, "America's March To War," that's not very conducive for investment [“conducive to investment”]

Some estimates say up to -- and if you're interested in job creation, why not focus on the job creators? [mangled sentence]

I'm going to talk a little bit about in regards to one of our guests, but -- -- the death tax is a bad tax, bad tax. [mangled sentence]

There are very powerful interests here in Washington that prevent the kinds of laws to pass that will help control costs. [just, wow…]

But one thing's for certain, is we need to make the tax cuts permanent

That's $28 billion going into the U.S. Treasury out of your pockets -- be reducing demand by that amount, be taking capital out of small business coffers if that happens. [be speaking poor English…]

It made life easier by being -- that money, to help pay for the preschool tuition, it took pressure off of their bill paying. [mangled sentence]

I believe there needs to be a Palestinian state… [missing “that”]

…so long as there's groups of terrorists willing to murder… [“there is” vs “there are”]

And I fully understand there needs to be a firm commitment to fight off terror in order for that to happen. [missing “that”]

I mean, gosh, there's a lot of countries that are very much involved in Iraq. [“there is” vs “there are”]

Pakistan is another country which is evolving… [“country that is evolving”]

My views are one that speaks to freedom. [? Number agreement? “…views speak to freedom”]

I believe people can self-govern around the world. [missing “that”; “I believe that people around the world can self-govern”]

See, one of the interesting things in the Oval Office -- I love to bring people into the Oval Office -- right around the corner from here -- and say, this is where I office, but I want you to know the office is always bigger than the person.[Jesus. mangled sentence; missing “that”; “this is where I office”???]

King Abdullah of Jordan, the King of Morocco, I mean, there's a series of places -- Qatar, Oman -- I mean, places that are developing -- Bahrain -- they're all developing the habits of free societies. [mangled sentence]

One, I do believe they understand the need to reform. [“…believe that they understand”]

But I also know they agree that we need to continue to work together to fight terror. [“know that they agree”]

There's a -- the murderous ambitions of a few are trying to derail the hopes of many. [mangled sentence]

And it's -- I have visions of a university system that really leads the Middle East in education and on the forefront of science and engineering -- because I know the Iraqi-Americans who are here, very bright, capable, honorable people who have come to our country, realized the benefits of freedom, taken advantage of some fantastic opportunities and made great citizens. [mangled; missing “that”; not a sentence]

These are people that are willing to kill people… [people who are willing…”]

They kill innocent women and children and not care about it. [Tonto, Tarzan and Frankenstein…]

More Muslims have died at the hands of killers than -- I say more Muslims -- a lot of Muslims have died -- I don't know the exact count -- at Istanbul. [just read it…]

posted by gunther at 1:38 PM Link

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Is Sullivan A Moron, Episode 1

Just saw this at

I wonder if the Bush administration even thought about how mean-spirited this was going to appear. And how nakedly political. Some journalists are reporting that White House sources are telling them that they do not expect this to pass but they need to fire up their base. They'd go this far for purely political reasons? I guess I really was naive.
Yes, I guess you were.

posted by gunther at 3:28 PM Link

Let’s Go Nuclear

Well we can’t say we didn’t see this coming. Republicans have no issues to run on – the economy is sluggish, and the new jobs just aren’t there; the budget deficit has exploded; Iraq continues to be a mess; the prewar excuses for invasion are now widely seen to be just that; and Osama Bin Laden’s trail is as cold as Spot’s corpse.

So what do you do when you have no issues to run on? You use a hot button issue like gay marriage to whip up a frenzy. It motivates your conservative base, scares a good number of moderates into considering voting for you, and lobs a couple of hand grenades into the Democratic camp. Accordingly, Bush today officially proposed the passage of a constitutional amendment that would “preserve the sanctity of marriage” by defining it to legally be only between a man and a woman.

It really is a smart, if sleazy, political tactic. Democrats are going to be forced to either support or hedge their response to this proposal. If they come out for it, or don’t come out sufficiently strongly against it, a good number of their supporters might stay home, or vote for someone like Nader. If they oppose it, they risk offending the vast hordes of middle America who might feel comfortable watching neutered gay men on TV shows like “Will & Grace” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, but who draw the line at letting them marry one another.

In an earlier post on this topic, I suggested that if Republicans went down this road there was a way to fight their efforts and force them to drop it as an issue. The logic was that if they could be convinced that the political price for this strategy was too high, then it would simply fade away and they’d start to base their campaign on other issue, like national security and taxes. A lot of the rationale I had at the time has now gone out the window because of subsequent event. At the time, I assumed that the goal was to prevent the issue from being brought up in the first place, and I thought there might be a reasonable chance of doing that.

Since my original post, of course, events have more or less forced things upon us. First we had the Massachusetts ruling, and for the last couple of weeks we’ve had gay marriages occurring in San Francisco. Over the weekend it seemed that Chicago and New Mexico might soon start following suit. So the issue is out there, front and center. It’s not like we can make it go away. Thus, it’s entirely expected that there’d be pressure for politicians to do something to stop the process. When Bush now proposes a constitutional amendment, he can claim to be bowing to pressure, because, frankly, a lot of conservatives are in an uproar.

Let’s revisit what I stated in my original post:

The question thus becomes how best to counter such tactics. The thing to keep in mind is that tactics like this aren’t used by Republicans because they are necessarily driven by an antipathy towards gays. Many of them might be, but that is not the primary motivation. Rather, it is simply politics. Republicans believe that this is a winning issue for them, and they’ll dangle the proposition of a constitutional amendment against gays in front of the more rapid zealots, and stoke the fires of fear in socially conservative moderates. But more likely than not, this issue will be immediately dropped after the election. It’s a way to win, not a crusade.

What I propose is a variation of the Barney Frank rule. Recall that back in 1987, Republican’s under Newt Gingrich initiated an infamous whisper campaign implying that Tom Foley was gay. Things got so out of hand that the openly gay Frank threatened to retaliate by publicly naming a number of closeted House Republican members. The rumors quickly stopped. The Frank rule says basically that “outing” of a closeted individual is acceptable only when the person in question is using a position of power and influence to engage in gay-bashing as a matter of politics or policy.

Using gay-marriage as a wedge issue in order to win an election certainly qualifies as such an instance in my opinion.
Accordingly, I’m amending my proposed strategy, and proposing the following. All those who oppose the proposed constitutional amendment, and Republican effort to gain votes by gay-bashing, should immediately begin to expose closeted Republican elected and nonelected party officials, as well as their staff, whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so. Why do this?

1. It’s already proven that it will work, as was shown by Barney Franks in 1987. As long as Republicans feel there is no cost for them in pushing this issue they will do so. When a few of them start getting exposed as secretly gay, the rest of them will start worrying about the possible damage to the party (as well as, possibly, themselves). It’s ugly but it will work.

2. It brings up hypocrisy as an issue. Why are so many Republicans who may actually be gay, supporting this gay-bashing strategy? Why aren’t they speaking out against it? Notice that this also applies to non-gay Republicans who may have gay colleagues or staffers. The public doesn’t like politicians or political parties that have the taint of hypocrisy about them, and this is a way of sticking it to Republicans.

[As an aside, any “liberal” who uses the Frank Rule in this manner isn’t open to the charge of hypocrisy. The assumption is that the amendment is being pushed for political purposes. Exposing supporters of the amendment as gay, and hypocritical, is perfectly legitimate. It really only becomes an issue if you start bringing third parties into it, since under the Frank Rule, they have no political power.]

3. It puts pressure on log cabin Republicans. There are, of course, a number of Republicans who are openly gay. They can, of course, choose to decry the exposure of closeted colleagues as unfair. But they need to be asked (repeatedly); why are you still in a party that is pushing such a discriminatory piece of legislation? Demand that they publicly announce their position. Challenge them, and ask them if they will refuse to support Bush (or any other politician) who supports such an amendment. Criticism of them must be loud, public and repeated.

4. Why bring in a politician’s or party leader’s staff? What can justify exposing someone who doesn’t hold elective office, or isn’t in a position of power? Let’s be honest. I think that a case can be made that a politician’s staff is as guilty he or she is when their boss takes a position that is sleazy but politically useful. These are not indentured servants. They are free to leave any time they wish. They continue to work for certain individuals because (a) they agree with them politically, and (b) they think it will further their careers. If Congressman Joe Blow is going to come out publicly in support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, then why shouldn’t their staff have to face the consequences of their boss’s actions? I repeat; this is about gay bashing in order to obtain political power. If staffer X is gay, but is willing to accept that his boss and colleagues push legislation that discriminates against gays, what he’s really saying is that he doesn’t care what happens to other gays and lesbians. His career is more important. He’s already chosen what side he’s on, and that makes him fair game.

It is very clear that the movement to push a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is nothing more than the open use of gay-bashing in order to win votes. If liberals, progressives and supporters of gay rights are serious about fighting against this bigotry, then they are going to have to try something other than appealing to people’s better nature. The Democratic party, and candidates, of course, will want nothing to do with this strategy (although I wonder what Barney Frank is thinking right now). So it will probably be left to the fringe media and the internet to get the ball rolling. May be a few highly recognizable names being outed could have an impact, as long as it was done with an explicit explanation of why it was occurring. Exposure and embarrassment shouldn’t be the point. In other words, the issue shouldn’t be “Governor Y is gay!”, but, “Why is Governor Y opposed to marriage rights for gays when he himself is gay?” (note: the use of the term “Governor” is completely gratuitous and is meant to suggest nothing about politicians in certain large southern states).

It’s all about framing. The fact that someone may be a closeted gay is not the issue. The fact that someone may be a closeted gay who publicly supports an amendment that is discriminatory towards gays isan issue.

posted by gunther at 11:44 AM Link