Archive for January 29th, 2008

Ain’t Missin’ You At All

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuR9_kWJZgU

Oh right, you’re still here. My bad.

Some of my favorite bits from The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin’s most excellent roundup of State Of The Union coverage – see if you can detect a theme:

A president’s voice is his most powerful tool, but the power is lost if people are no longer listening. “The country wants to get past this administration,” said presidential scholar Robert Dallek. [William Neikirk, Chicago Tribune]

President Bush proposed a short list of initiatives Monday that more than anything else underscored the White House’s growing realization that his biggest political opponents now are time and an electorate already looking beyond him.

…Nothing he proposed Monday is likely to redefine how history judges his presidency. [Steven Lee Myers, NYT]

“He’s totally eclipsed,” said Elaine Kamarck, who was a senior adviser to former vice president Al Gore. “Nothing he says is going to be important for anything that happens in the next 12 months. The speech is a nonevent.” [Peter Baker, WaPo]

Some Presidents are gone but not forgotten; Bush isn’t gone, but in a political sense is already forgotten.

His approval ratings are roughly half what they were at his first State of the Union address, about one-third of their post-9/11 peak. Republicans love his fund-raising prowess, but most candidates seldom mention him. “Nobody’s paying attention to him anymore,” said a veteran of his 2000 presidential campaign. [Thomas DeFrank, NY Daily News]

The House chamber held much less of the excitement and tension that marked previous State of the Union addresses.

Instead, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers seemed already to have moved on from Bush’s presidency, gossiping among themselves about the presidential race. [Michael Kranish and Susan Milligan, Boston Globe]

Embattled as he now is in his bunker and with fewer and fewer allies remaining to sustain his morale, even Bush himself now seems to have virtually given up hope for his own presidency. I suspect that he has now reached the stage where he, just as much as the rest of us, can’t wait for those 357 days to pass and for the 44th president to move into the White House and take charge. Goodnight, Mr President. [Andrew Stephen, New Statesman]

The idea of being irrelevant probably hurts Dubya even more than being despised.

Two other tidbits, one from WaPo Associate Editor Robert G. Kaiser, in an online chat:

It is fascinating to me how difficult it is for politicians (and journalists too, to be fair) to say publicly what so many of them readily say among themselves now: this is a failed presidency, one of the most unsuccessful in American history probably. Republicans in Congress say this to each other, but tonight they jump up an applaud like cheerleaders for their team.

I mean, not that his paper has been guilty of that or anything, but still, it’s refreshing to hear.

And this second item is just pathetic, really:

The White House press office is calling attention to this morning’s Wall Street Journal editorial and its assertion that “even with only a year left, the Bush Presidency is far from over. With his low approval rating and a Democratic Congress, Mr. Bush’s final State of the Union last night reflected his limited ability to shape legislation. But even a lame duck President has more power to influence events than anyone else on the planet.”

Look! We’re still relevant! Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal says so!

Yes, it is true to some extent, but most of Dubya’s power now is that of obstruction and destruction, neither of which is going to help his legacy any. Oh, and he can break some more laws, but that won’t help either.

1 comment January 29th, 2008 at 09:44pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Media

Voytek The Polish Army Bear

voytek.jpg

I swear I am not making this up:

History is filled with unsung heroes of war. Among the hairiest and perhaps heaviest is Voytek, (Wojtek), the courageous, beer-guzzling, chain-smoking brown bear of Poland’s 22nd Transport Company….

Born in Iran in about 1942, Voytek’s story reads like a myth. He reportedly marched on his hind legs in time with the troops, fought along side them at the battle of Monte Cassino, and liked to smoke and drink. “There are people I’ve spoken to who have never heard of Voytek at all and see the story as some sort of myth,” says Garry Paulin, who has written a book about Voytek. “I think it’s important that people know the facts about Voytek, that’s why I’ve aimed the book at children as well.”

By numerous accounts Voytek was acquired as a cub by the Polish Army in the mountains of Hamadan from a young boy carrying him around in a sack. The troops, many of whom had just been released from Siberian work camps, became enamored of the honey-colored bear. They fed him milk out of an old vodka bottle, reared him and treated him not as pet, but as a fellow soldier as they made their way across the Middle East to the Lebanese front.

His shining moment came in April 1944 during the battle of Monte Cassino. One of the final hold-outs of the Axis, the sixth-century abbey atop an Apennine peak had proven impregnable to allied forces. Polish forces were sent in along with Voytek’s troop, and a bloody siege ensued.

The 22nd Transport Company was charged with moving supplies up and down the mountainside. During the battle, Voytek is said to have walked up to his commanding officer and put out his paws. The officer handed him a “heavy box and watched in wonder as Voytek loaded it effortlessly onto the truck. Backwards and forwards he continued, time and time again, carrying heavy shells, artillery boxes and food sacks from truck to truck, from one waiting man to another.” The monastery was taken at last and Voytek became the symbol of the 22nd Company. It even made an emblem in his likeness.

(…)

Voytek died in December 1963. Since then his story has been drifting through the pages of historic lore like a wandering bear, heard but unconfirmed. Despite extensive documentation, photographs and even a few sculptures, most people have never heard of Voytek, or regard him as a myth. But Scottish campaigner Aileen Orr, along with others, wants to change that by erecting a memorial. As she told the BBC: “The story is totally amazing.”

Incredible. Who among us does not love bears?

1 comment January 29th, 2008 at 08:24pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,War,Weirdness

Killer Flashlight Of DOOOOOM

Un-frickin’-believable:

Sure, there’s always the pukelight for good times around the house, but sometimes you’ve just got to do some damage — which is where The Torch from Wicked Lasers comes in. The 4100-lumen flashlight is being considered for the Guiness Book of World Records, and can ignite paper, light cigarettes, melt plastic, and even fry an egg — but only has a fifteen minute battery life….

I’m not entirely sure what practical purpose this serves, but it sure is impressive.

(More here, product page here)

1 comment January 29th, 2008 at 07:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology,Weirdness

TV Critic Chills Me To My Very Soul

The very first line of Tom Shales’ review of last night’s SOTU:

George W. Bush finished his seventh and possibly final State of the Union speech at 10:02 p.m. last night….

Possibly final??? NOOOOOOO!!!!

January 29th, 2008 at 06:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Media,Quotes

Bush Drops The Ball

Yesterday’s SOTU failed to follow up on one of the most pressing issues of our time:

On Monday afternoon, whitehouse.gov, our one-stop shopping site for neutral-colored residences, posted this important update on the proceedings:

“President Bush will deliver his State of the Union address on January 28, 2008. Whatever the form, content, delivery method or broadcast medium, the President’s annual address is a backdrop for national unity.”

Our guesses — and please bear in mind that we are neither pundits nor smart people — were:

Form: Macaroni collage
Content: In-depth analysis of monumentally important human-animal hybrid controversy
Delivery Method: Ice Cream Truck
Broadcast Medium: Tin cans, string

Boy, was our collective face red! Turns out, Bush chose to go with:

Form: Speech
Content: Economic stuff, Incentive stuff, Legacy stuff
Delivery Method: Mouth
Broadcast Medium: TV

(…)

9:06: The President arrives, fashionably late, and fashionably attired in a blue tie the exact shade of America’s current malaise. After much hand-shaking, he takes his place at the rostrum, in front of Dick Cheney, a human-zombie hybrid, and Nancy Pelosi, a human-woman hybrid.

9:07: Bush gets down to business right away, talking about the economy, his stimulus plan, etc. Obviously, he’s saving human-animal hybrids for later in the speech.

9:12: Tax relief. No mention of how human-animal hybrids could affect it.

(…)

9:29: “I call on Congress to ban unethical practices such as… This is it!…� the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life.” Human-animal hybrids, here we –

Um.

Hello?

He’s just moved on to “matters of justice.” Matters of justice!? How about the injustice of not discussing human-animal hybrids?!

9:30: Okay, now we’re ticked.

9:33: America is responding to immigration by “deploying fences.” If we had human-animal hybrids, we could line them up along the Mexican border. They would be dangerous, yet understanding. Does nobody see this?

(…)

Yes, we’re a little shocked right now.

But in a way, we’re almost glad President Bush didn’t discuss human-animal hybrids in this year’s State of the Union. Perhaps he understood that, with only one year left, they’re simply too big for him to take on. (Some are, quite literally. Especially if the human is tall to begin with, and then the animal it’s fused with is like a rhino or a blue whale.)

We look forward to next year, when the State of the Union is delivered by someone else. Someone more attuned to the plight of the human-animal. Maybe a centaur.

By then, it may be TOO LATE.

January 29th, 2008 at 11:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush

Thanks For Nothing

Stirling Newberry is fed up, and who can blame him:

This President has been mired below 50% approval for his entire second term, and below 40% for most of it. He is viewed highly negatively as a person by more people who like him even a little. And Congress? This Congress has an approval of 18%, a level which means that were the public given the option of abolishing Congress, they might well pass it by a constitutional super-majority.

A foolish Speaker of the House has refused to prosecute high crimes and misdemeanors in the executive, and has cut deals on stimulus that shaft the poor, the children and the unfortunate in order to pile gifts to the extremely wealthy. A conservative Senate Majority Leader combined with her to pass more and more blank checks to the biggest squanderer in history. And two members of this inaugust Congress now vie for the nomination, topping each other in how little of the last eight years they want to undo. In poll after poll, both of them run double digits behind a generic Democrat running for the Presidency. Perhaps because the public understands how little they deserve that name.

Someone must say these things, and those that curry for favor or jobs in the government or with a party cannot do so, and will not do so. Those who clamor for attention will find the road blocked by a media which rallied behind a unity towards an illegal war, and now are eager to smirk at the failures of policies that they failed to oppose. This was not an unfortunate outcome, but a clear and obvious result and culmination of exactly what was obvious on a chill night in Florida, when word came down from the Supreme Court that once an election was stolen, it could never be returned to its owners, and Americans had no right to vote for who would occupy the executive office.

This is not a period of certainty, but of absolute certainty. America’s position in the world is diminished, our share of global GDP is down, our dollar is at its weakest in memory, our credibility destroyed by outrageous lies to the world, our military ground up by the grit of the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time, while the more important wars remain unfought, and more dangerous prey remains unfettered. The clock of an aging baby boom has gone from the ticking of a watch, to the tolling of a bell. It will be midnight chiming soon.

News is written by the winners, history by the survivors. Let me tell you what history will have to say about this President and all who enabled him:

They did do nothing to deserve the name, “Americans”.

Go rally behind your spigot of falsehoods, around a President who has broken the laws, defamed the honor of the nation and obliterated constitutional protections that even the Kings of England would not have touched. But realize that unless and until there is a democratic revolution against this new age of absolutism, that there is only one road that we will walk, and that road is down, into the abyss of fallen imperial delusion, and among the shattered stone ruins of fallen crowns. But realize the people have turned against you. We do not merely distrust you, we hate you. We loathe your privileges and your powers. We curse your name in every day language. You can shroud your ears for many years, but with each haughty and high handed slap you deliver to the public’s face, there are painful lashes coming from Clio’s pen. You will not be forgotten, but remembered along side slave holders who would burn the Union down rather than be human beings, and along side the cult of gold that crushed American into Great Depression. Look upon the busts of Harding and Hoover, and reflect the long hard work you have done to give some other generation a chance to be great, by being worthy of the company of the incompetent and the incomprehensible.

Let history write what ruin the arrogance of this age will bring, I say it now, because I have no love for your king.

Yet another reminder that Bush couldn’t do it alone. He had lots of help, and not just from Republicans. It’s important to remember that it’s not just the Republicans who are arrayed against us and need to be thrown out; it’s a sizable chunk of the Democrats as well, including – especially – the party leadership.

January 29th, 2008 at 07:08am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Wankers


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