Saturday, July 22, 2006

I Drink, I Fall Down, I Get Up ... No Problem

Nothing to add to this. It speaks for itself.

--by William Rivers Pitt

George W. Bush is a good man, word has it. He's plain-spoken, they say. A regular fella. A good guy to have a beer with, except he supposedly doesn't drink anymore.

I wish, more than anything, that he were drinking. I wish he were drinking all the time. I wish, oh how I wish, that he were stand-up-fall-down-ralphing-down-his-shirt loaded every minute of every day. It would be a comfort, simply because it would explain a great many things.

Having a drunk for a president is, after all, a fixable situation. Put him to bed at Camp David for a few weeks and surround him with Secret Service agents. Let his body clean itself out. Problem solved, and really, would anyone actually notice his absence?

I don't believe Bush has gotten off the sauce, if truth be told. I know more than a few boozers who, like George, periodically show up with odd wounds on their faces they got from falling over or running into walls. The injuries that appear on George's mien from time to time can perhaps be explained away - maybe Dick Cheney is stalking the halls with a shotgun loaded with rock salt and blasting anyone, even the boss, who gets in his way - but if "George still drinks" were up on the big board at the MGM Grand sports book, I'd take the bet no matter what the oddsmakers had to say.

Having a drunk for a president is manageable. Having a stone bozo for a president, on the other hand, is a calamity of global proportions.

Let's take a walk through the last few days. George winged off to Russia for trade talks at the G-8 summit, and managed in the course of 100 hours to embarrass himself and our entire country. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is smarter than Bush by several orders of magnitude, insulted George in front of the international press corps with a tight quip about "democracy" in Iraq. No trade deal got done. The whole thing was a humiliating waste of time, captured best by all the photos of Bush and Putin together. In each and every one of them, Putin is looking at George with an expression that somehow conveyed disgust, disdain and awe simultaneously.

Putin's disgust and disdain are easily understood - the poor guy was trapped in a room with our knucklehead president for hours, after all - but the awe requires notice. What, Putin must have thought, is this fool doing running a country?

After that came the much-noted open-mike gaffe, during which George dropped an s-bomb while discussing the Middle East crisis with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The cussing doesn't trouble me - those who know say that John F. Kennedy swore like a sailor whenever he talked shop - but the rest of the scene was like something out of a high school cafeteria. Bush sat there, talking with what looked like seventeen doughnuts stuffed into his gob, while poor Tony tried to discuss matters of life and death.

You have to listen to the audio to get a full grasp of what transpired. It wasn't just the dialogue. It was the tone in Blair's voice. He sounded for all the world like a teacher attempting to explain something to an exceptionally dull student. His tone suggested infinite patience and a touch of true sadness, as if he could not quite believe he was speaking this way to an American president.

"It takes him eight hours to fly home," said George at one point during the open-mike massacre. "Eight hours. Russia's big and so is China." He was, presumably, speaking to someone about Chinese President Hu Jintao's travel requirements, but really now. Huffington Post writer Cenk Uygur captured the unbelievable vapidity of the discourse.

"Russia's big and so is China?" exclaimed Uygur. "This guys sounds like a third grader. Do you know anyone who would have a conversation like this with their neighbor, let alone a business associate, let alone a world leader? Who's proud to know that Russia is big and so is China? If someone is this ignorant, they're usually embarrassed and try not to talk much. But this guy is so dumb he has no idea how dumb he is. This sounds like a conversation you might have with a child, a mentally challenged child. Johnny, do you know how big Russia is? How about China? This would all be unfortunate if George were your dentist, or worse yet, your accountant. But he is the leader of the free world. This man makes life or death decisions every day. If you say you're not scared about that, you're lying."

Then came the pig-roast thing. Newsday described it best: "As Israeli warplanes were preparing an attack on Lebanon Thursday afternoon, and a Lebanese militia was aiming a rocket at the ancient Israeli city of Safed, President George W. Bush was bantering with reporters in Germany about a pig. Bush kept bringing up the roast wild boar he was about to dine on at a banquet that night, even when asked about the swelling crisis in the Middle East, where pig meat is forbidden to religious Jews and Muslims. 'Does it concern you that the Beirut airport has been bombed?' a reporter asked. 'And do you see a risk of triggering a wider war?' 'I thought you were going to ask me about the pig,' Bush replied blithely. Then he brought the pig up again - for the fifth time - before giving a long answer that ended with his saying Israel needed to protect itself."

After this came the moment when George tried to give German Chancellor Angela Merkel a back massage while she was speaking to someone at the summit table. He sidled up behind her and just started rubbing. Merkel's reaction was instantaneous and dramatic: she flinched, flailed her arms up and basically waved the president of the United States away from her. Her reaction would have been no different if Bush had dropped a live catfish down the back of her shirt.

What's next? Will George go to the United Nations, sit on Kofi Annan's head, and fart like some bratty brother tormenting a sibling? Will the cameras catch him playing penny hockey during Middle East peace negotiations? You can't say it'll never happen. It reminds me of the scene from "Caddyshack" where the golfers are hiding in the bushes and betting on whether the Smails kid picks his nose. It is not too farfetched a concept to believe that the other G-8 leaders were doing something very similar while watching Bush.

There were, by my count, no less than twenty different moments in the last few days where George brought shame and disgrace upon this country. He did not do this by being too tough, or too soft, or too strident. He did this simply by being himself. His head is an echo chamber where very stupid bats roost. He has the intellect of a bag of rocks. Maybe it's impolite to say this, but it has to be said.

And yeah, Mr. Uygur, it is really, really scary. I wish the man were a drunk. I'd sleep better, and so would the world.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Comedy Relief

One more thing before I go out to enjoy the day. This from Molly Ivins regarding SCOTUS (Supreme Comic of the United States).

AUSTIN, Texas -- Never let it never be said our president does not provide laughs, even as we wobble on the rim of war in the Middle East.

Look what a good time Vladimir Putin had with him. Bush, responding to questions from the international press corps on his conversation with Putin the previous evening, said, "I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq, where there is a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country, you know, would
hope that Russia would do the same thing."

Putin, with a fairly straight face, replied, "We certainly would not like to have the same of kind of democracy they have in Iraq, I'll tell you that quite honestly." Don't you hate it when the international press corps laughs at what a stoop Bush is? Bush, who fancies himself something of a fast-reply artist, said, "Just wait." Heh, heh.

The rest is hilarious.

What isn't so funny is that Bush represents our country. Can't wait for 2008.

Missing Link

This from Associated Press:

BERLIN - U.S. and German scientists on Thursday launched a two-year project to decipher the genetic code of the Neanderthal, a feat they hope will help deepen understanding of how modern humans' brains evolved.

Previous studies have “… suggested that Neanderthals and humans split from a common ancestor a half-million years ago.” And some have concluded, based on that evidence, that Neanderthals were an evolutionary dead end.

However, other scientists now believe that Neanderthals may not have died off. With the decoding of the Neanderthal genome, scientists hope to determine why evolution seemed to take a step backward with the mutation of the modern conservative.

Bloggers Everywhere

Meanwhile, here’s a link to a great article by Jack Shafer over at Slate. He asks the question: “Who Are All These Bloggers? And What Do They Want?” Shafer notes that 57 million Americans now claim to blog. That’s incredible.

I have 200+ links to other sites that I mean to install on mine, just haven’t gotten around to it (I like to collect links). Anyway, I hope the two or three readers of my site will find the article interesting.

No More Intimidation

A little over a week ago, I had a short blog conversation with my erstwhile friend dad29. He was responding to my post titled “Payback,” in which I bemoaned the classless actions of conservative bloggers who published names and other personal information of their liberal foes and suggested that a little visit might be in order. To be succinct: Intimidation tactics.

Dad29 responded by stating that Jim McGuigan of Milwaukee Watchdog had once published dad’s personal information … apparently in response to a comment that he made. Knowing dad29 all too briefly, I’m guessing the comment was dark and poisonous (well, maybe not but the line sounded good). Nonetheless, I agreed that if this was indeed true (I see no reason to disbelieve dad29, he does not appear to be as thuggish as some of his mates) then McGuigan had crossed the line.

Dad29 then provided a link to an article that reported on some purported intimidation tactics by a gay group called KnowThyNeighbor in Massachusetts. Apparently, this group published the names and zip codes of people who had signed petitions for the right’s latest gimmick, a protection of marriage amendment. One person who signed was confronted and called a “bigot” while others reported being called “breeders.” Both sides of this issue are now engaging in discussions about “hate speech” and the townspeople are discussing how to live peacefully with each other.

The point is that emotions are running high. While it was not illegal for KnowThyNeighbor to publish the names and addresses (the petitions are public record), it is deplorable that people be confronted in such a disrespectful manner, though I think dad29 would be hard pressed to find this sort of intimidation tactic used by leftys.

In the end it is not acceptable for anyone to put anyone at risk, just because you don’t like what they have to say.

Don’t shoot, dad.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The March of the Mindless Automatons

Inspired by Jessica McBride, thousands of like-minded and self-professed Christian women have declared their intent to follow their fearless leader where bloggers have not gone before. Determined to mangle sentence structure; defy grammar; refuse to read books, but comment on them nonetheless; malign other peoples’ faiths; imply reverse racism where there is none; refuse to separate fact from fiction, ignore the strictures of journalism and provide humorous fodder for liberals everywhere, these women have formed their own army … the Jessica Brigade of Mindless Automatons. Beware, the hair brigade is looking for you.

H/t to Xoff and Brew City Brawler, and special acknowledgement to Tom Tomorrow.

PS: Ever notice that profession of one's Christian faith seems to give these people leave to say the most un-Christian things?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Baby News

This from my lovely wife, the beautiful Ms. Kelly ...

We had a baby appointment on Friday and listened to the baby's heart beat. It definitely sounded like a galloping horse! Is that a sign of things to come? Still a fast heart beat at over 150. All else is fine. I'm a lot less tired, not sick at all, and not big yet, though my waistline is definitely gone.

I now think we're having a girl. Tim (just to argue with me) says it's a boy. We will make the appointment soon to find out. It'll be part of the genetic testing done in August. We still have to decide just how many tests we want done. We continue to weigh the risks of the tests against the value of the information they could provide.

Ian and Abby are having a great summer. My friend Draga took us out on their new pontoon boat last weekend. Even the new baby, Elijah, came with us and husband Steve, with his broken leg (don't ask!). Eli is 2 months old now and a very good baby. We had a lot of fun. I thought Ian might never come back on board the boat once he got in the water. Draga even let him drive - he was thrilled!

Ian had 4 weeks of individual cello lessons this summer. It was with a different instructor than during the school year and he really liked him. And he's now taking 4 weeks of a summer math class. Apparently (from Tim's account), his math teach is "very cute". That should help keep him motivated. And he never tires of playing with Evan across the street. They are best buddies.

Abby and I were out shopping yesterday and she picked out her first toy for the baby. She was very excited! She's been playing with Rayan (the little boy next door) and Alex (Evan's sister) all summer. If she doesn't play with a friend during the day, she gets very sad. She loves using Rayan's scooter and bike with training wheels (maybe it's time we get her one of those?!?!). Alex slept over for the first time this weekend. They played make-up and watched movies and giggled and giggled and giggled... I didn't even know what they were giggling about and I started giggling!

The addition will start soon. The contract is signed, the loan is closed and the building permit will be ready next week (if we actually are able to make the final decision about tile or fiberglass for the shower!). So many decisions yet to be made and so many choices yet to be seen.

Tim continues to do most of the work around here. He doesn't let me climb on ladders or stools or lift heavy things. Although he does like it when I cook occasionally. He's busy today with the photo show from Larchfest and the 50th birthday bash. It's going to turn out great!

The dogs... somehow we have to get Max settled down before the baby comes. Even though I'm not big yet, I have a hard time controlling both of them by myself when we meet another dog on our walks. Tim and I have been doing a lot more dog walking together. I wonder how it will work when we add a stroller (and baby!) to the mix.

I still can't believe we're going to have a baby this winter. And I can't believe my little sister is probably going to get married before the baby gets here. That and the addition seem like a lot to have happen in the next 6 months!

Oh, and the latest girl name is 'Megan'. 'Connor' has come up most recent as a boy's name. We're still taking ideas.

Hope all is well with you and yours. Please pass along our hellos and hugs to your families.

Kelly, Tim, Ian, Abby, Molly, Max and Baby Rock

Note to Jessica McBride: Rayan's parents are Muslim. I guess you wouldn't let your kids play with them, would you.

No Energy for Blogging

Too busy and too hot to blog today. Tomorrow, maybe.