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Friday, June 11, 2004

Bush kills Reagan, learns new way to manipulate polls 

I'll admit things were getting a little hot under the collar for our presumably soon-to-be lame duck president. What with the fiasco in Iraq, gas at two and a half bucks a gallon, Iran readying for its life as a nuclear power, Chirac urinating on his leg at the G8, and his mom looking more and more like a Founding Father, things were looking badly for our favorite Chimp.

Then, it occurred to him..."I can kill Reagan! He won't even feel a thing." [Biomedical note: there is no proof that late-stage Parkinson's sufferers can feel no pain, although apparently James Watt hit Reagan with a hot anvil at the annual Bugs Bunny/Road Runner aficionados convention in March, and there was no change in Reagan's drool production rate]

And so he did.

A week of national mourning for Ronald Reagan has helped President Bush politically by shunting Democrat John Kerry to the sidelines and driving bad news from Baghdad off the front pages.

This week's burst of Reagan nostalgia, which included a flood of tributes to the Republican icon and reminders of Bush's claim to Reagan's legacy, could provide at least a short-term political boost for the president in his race for re-election.


Republican pundits dismissed the notion that Bush was attempting to capitalize on Reagan's demise, but his own actions speak otherwise:

The front page of Bush's campaign Web site was taken over this week by a tribute to Reagan, including links to some of his most famous speeches and to words of praise for Reagan from Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel rejected suggestions the campaign was politicizing Reagan's death.

"This is one way we can pay tribute to his legacy," he said of the Web site.


What if we looked at this from 180 degrees different perspective? In paying tribute to his legacy, they had to have people recall that there actually was a legacy (Reagan himself forgot he had a legacy in February 1990 according to his neurological staff). Not to be any more morbid than I have been so far in this blog, but the easiest way to recall a legacy is to have the legend die.

Thus, today's short story:

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out...

Oops, sorry, I plagiarized that, from Snoopy of all things, so let me try again:

Things were bad. Very bad. First he'd lost three straight games of cribbage to Saddam. Then, Saddam called him Gomorrah. Yep, Saddam and Gomorrah, together in prison. Not a good pair. Saddam a prisoner of the son of his supposed Arch-enemy, the other a prisoner of his own modest, double-digit IQ and the noserock he both loved and hated. He turned to Saddam, saying "Look, I helped you, you're out of Iraq, out of the public eye, in retirement and facing no hurried trial date. I need your help. That bastard, Kerry, is passing me up, and even my partner Nader can't seem to split the vote enough anymore."

"Bastard?" asked Saddam, "you mean his parents weren't married at his procreation?"

"No, silly Sad," said W, "I mean he grandstanded that war hero bit just to have it ready to show off when he ran for President."

"Ah," said Saddam, "I suspect you need to learn the fine art of killing not just your enemies, but your friends as well."

"You mean like you did?"

"Precisely...it lets you engulf their aura and it really frightens your enemies".

With that, W took up his pretzel and crept up on Reagan. After all, if it nearly killed him, a supposedly fit teetotaller, imagine what it could do to The Great Excommunicator...


-Vulf

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Eine kleine Ablenkung 

Mozart brought Eine kleine nachtmusik, and we are all better for it.

I bring you Eine kleine Ablenkung, and we are certainly the worse for it.

Bill Gates, in spite of being, ostensibly, one of the great and true philanthropists of all time, has nevertheless chosen a name for his company that hardly boasts of his male prowess. Micro and soft, well now, your choice, Bill. But as nanotechnology and miniaturization becomes de rigueur for electronic devices, and thus software-driven devices, Microsoft needs to reflect that:

1. Microsoft in 2000 should have become NanoNoodly--smaller and still softer
2. Microsoft in 2002 should have become PicoPillowy--still smaller and still softer

which leads us to Microsoft 2004: FemtoFlaccid.

Besides, versioning their name might keep the European monopoly watchdogs more at bay.

Here's to you, Bill. You're making sub-Saharan Africa a much nicer place, but you'll soon be AttoLimp or even ZeptoSaggy...

-Vulf

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Vonnegutsy... 

Okay, I know the man is 81 and no one's going to touch him. Still, it's amazing to see someone so eloquent, relevant and articulate come out with the truth:

Vonnegut's Alternet.org piece on our addiction to Oil

A few points worth noting on this excellent piece:

By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.

He couldn't be more spot on. I just visited a counselor for teenagers whose fathers and/or mothers are serving in Iraq right now. He said the kids are doing OK, but like me feels there is no such equivalent counseling for the troops themselves. I guess the government figures you really can't help soldiers?

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." A lot of people think Jesus said that, because it is so much the sort of thing Jesus liked to say. But it was actually said by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, 500 years before there was that greatest and most humane of human beings, named Jesus Christ.

OK, but don't overlook my main man of myth and meaning, Siddhartha:

The first steps on the road to Nirvana were to focus one's actions on doing good to others

Sid went way past Confucius, and his almost anachronistic clinging to the past, in my humble opinion. But back to Vonnegutsy, who shows the link between the powerful thoughts of Buddha and Christ to enlightened socialism:

Eugene Debs, who died back in 1926, when I was only 4, ran 5 times as the Socialist Party candidate for president, winning 900,000 votes, 6 percent of the popular vote, in 1912, if you can imagine such a ballot. He had this to say while campaigning: As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I'm of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

In other words, we all suffer when one of us suffers. You can't stop greed, it's one of the seven great human traits and/or deadly sins, but you can temper it.

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

I couldn't agree more. It is precisely the selective citation of those asinine, divinely uninspired and poorly-written chapters of the Bible (Leviticus for example in the Old Testament) that leads us to bundle Bush and his greedy cronies into the "hypocrite tank".

Vonnegut then cites Camus' famous observation on the decision to live or destroy ourselves:

The French-Algerian writer Albert Camus, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, wrote, "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide." So there's another barrel of laughs from literature. Camus died in an automobile accident. His dates? 1913-1960 A.D. Listen. All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being: Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Crime and Punishment, the Bible and The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Camus rocked. He and Sid would have been great friends, except that Camus was part of the Underground during WWII and never really got past the love of suffering. Like a secular Dostoevsky, he somehow seemed convinced there was a form of "salvation" (though in Camus' case a Sisyphus-like calm acceptance of unending tedium was the only salvation) tempered by suffering.

I say, BULL! This is the slippery slope that institutionalized religions lead us to: suffering is justified on the grounds it provides salvation, and thus what can be more holy than to torture someone? Every bruise, every laceration, can lead to their reward in Heaven for having suffered. STOP THIS INSANITY!

Sid saw this coming. Thus, the four tenets of the Buddha, in this light, rather than being pessimistic, are the only way to prevent this religious distortion:

1.) All human life is suffering (dhukka ).
2.) All suffering is caused by human desire, particularly the desire that impermanent things be permanent.
3.) Human suffering can be ended by ending human desire.
4.) Desire can be ended by following the "Eightfold Noble Path": right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.


Then Vonnegut goes a little off course:

And do you know why I think he is so pissed off at Arabs? They invented algebra. Arabs also invented the numbers we use, including a symbol for nothing, which nobody else had ever had before. You think Arabs are dumb? Try doing long division with Roman numerals.

First off, this invention is up for debate. Second off, the Babylonians were not Arabs in the modern sense, but rather Amorites. Third off, it may have been the inhabitants of the South Asian subcontinent who did this inventing, anyway.

However, Vonny finishes off with a flourish:

Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on.

In other words, it's all about oil. I have to agree.

-Vulf

Monday, June 07, 2004

Back from central Europe 

Too bad I missed "W" and crew in my journeys through Central Europe these past two weeks. He was less popular than bad coffee in Rome, though. The Germans don't care much for him, although I can say I did not see any graffiti showing him with a rectangular moustache...yet. Actually, the Germans did not seem particularly friendly or unfriendly. Folks at the American bases in Bayern and Hesse seem less infatuated with Bush than just about any group in society. My guess is, if the voter turnout hits 50%, Bush will lose. It's that simple. 25% of Americans will vote for him, and they *will* vote. All it takes is for one-third of the rest of us to pull our buttcheeks off the couch and just say NO to "W".

-Vulf

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