Lauren Collins has a lot of fun with The Apprentice, a novel by indicted former White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby. It sounds like quite a book.
When it comes to depicting scenes of romance… Libby can evoke a sort of musty sweetness; while one critic deemed “The Apprentice” “reminiscent of Rembrandt,” certain passages can better be described as reminiscent of Penthouse Forum. There is, for example, Yukiko’s seduction of the inexperienced apprentice:
He could feel her heart beneath his hands. He moved his hands slowly lower still and she arched her back to help him and her lower leg came against his. He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger. . . . One of her breasts now hung loosely in his hand near his face and he knew not how best to touch her.
Other sex scenes are less conventional. Where his Republican predecessors can seem embarrassingly awkward—the written equivalent of trying to cop a feel while pinning on a corsage—Libby is unabashed:
At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest.
He asked if they should fuck the deer.
The answer, reader, is yes.
Fortunately for the reading public, Libby’s charges carry a maximum of 30 years in the slammer. Who knows what he may turn out if things go badly for him?
Today’s Guardian reports that the US President claimed to Palestinian leaders that “God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq”. (God obviously never fell for the weapons of mass destruction line.) This should be no surprise; after all, God is pretty keen on invading Iraq. George W. Bush’s father spent the week before his own attack on Iraq closeted with evangelist Billy Graham.
"It is God who puts ideas in my heart," explained Arroyo.
"In fact, in my attendance at Mass, it felt to me like He was telling me that He chose me to become president because He also knows that when He tells me not to run, then I would not run," she said.
Nevertheless, although God may indeed be a Pinoy it is the Bushes who are his favoured children. According to a US General (subsequently promoted to deputy under-secretary of defense for intelligence in the wacky world of Bush’s America):
The war on terror, Lieut Gen Boykin [responsible for leading the hunt for Osama Bin Laden] told Christian groups in 2003, was a war against Satan. Of the president, the general asked: "Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."
… for a founding member of the Project for the New American Century, Fukuyama has committed what for many must seem an inconceivable heresy. He voted for Kerry.
"I don't like Kerry particularly as a politician," he reveals, "but it seemed to me that President George Bush had presided over a policy that wasn't very successful -- the Iraq war -- and he shouldn't be rewarded for that... But then I think the accountability mechanism does take a long time to work itself out and if the policy comes to be seen in the next three years as a total failure, then I think that Republicans, not just President Bush himself, but Republicans themselves will pay a very heavy price."
The 1972 US presidential election had everything (as Hunter Thompson knew). It was the last election of the Vietnam War. It started one of the greatest of modern scandals, Watergate. It took place against a backcloth of seething changes to America’s social order, ideology, and lifestyles, yet ended in almost total victory for Nixon’s “silent majority”. And it had George McGovern.
George has been almost completely forgotten over the past 30 years, but now a movie has come along to revive his reputation. “One brief shining moment” is discussed in an excellent review in Salon:
McGovern was one of the very few American politicians to grasp in the early '60s that the military establishment's understanding of the situation in Vietnam was flawed, and that John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were pouring American and Vietnamese lives by the thousands down a sinkhole. Parts of "One Bright Shining Moment" give you the sick feeling of a bad dream you keep having over and over again, as in the video clip of a Pentagon press conference in which a young Donald Rumsfeld hovers in the background, his slicked-down hairdo immediately recognizable. While it's unwise to view the parallel between that Asian conflict and the current one too literally, it's also impossible to resist the notion that on the psychological and mythological levels the right and left are still fighting the same old war.
The review makes one other very important point. OK, so McGovern lost in 1972, was hammered in fact, but why didn’t he regroup and come back even more strongly four years later, or at least form a beacon of light around which anti-establishment forces could coalesce?
Why didn't George McGovern become the Barry Goldwater of the left? In 1964, Goldwater's campaign had followed much the same script, going from a populist insurrection of true believers to an electoral disaster. But Goldwater's followers did not scatter after their defeat; they consolidated their control of the Republican Party, went to work on school boards, city councils and state legislatures, and laid the groundwork for a generation of conservative hegemony over Congress and the White House. Could the McGovern left have done the same thing?
The article goes on to provide some credible answers to that question, but I wonder whether McGovern’s rapid fade to grey was really because in the end he wore his commitment to his causes rather lightly. Not for George the bright-eyed fanaticism of Barry Goldwater or even the political drive of Richard Nixon—another who parlayed heavy political defeats (in the 1960 presidential election and the 1962 Californian gubernatorial election) into electoral triumph (in the 1968 presidential election). No, liberal George was content to call it a day almost right away, leaving the Democratic Party to the succession of slick willies and losers who have dominated it ever since. Like many liberals, McGovern was simply too uncommitted, too nice, too unfanatical, to claw his way back from the wilderness. And if that is true, it might provide a clue as to why we now live in such an intensely polarized world, with very few places for people of a “liberal” persuasion to call home.
And, right on cue, here comes the American religious right to demonstrate its peculiar version of rationality. Here is Repent America director Michael Marcavage on the destruction of New Orleans:
“Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city”
And what about this fascinating fact unearthed by Columbia Christians for Life:
The image of the hurricane above with its eye already ashore at 12:32 PM Monday, August 29 looks like a fetus (unborn human baby) facing to the left (west) in the womb, in the early weeks of gestation (approx. 6 weeks). Even the orange color of the image is reminiscent of a commonly used pro-life picture of early prenatal development (see sign with picture of 8-week pre-born human child below). In this picture, and in another picture in today’s on-line edition of USA Today*, this hurricane looks like an unborn human child.
Louisiana has 10 child-murder-by-abortion centers - FIVE are in New Orleans
The mayor of New Orleans is about the only person talking any sense about the fiasco in his city. You can listen to the interview from on the New York Times website (under the “multimedia” sidebar) and read the transcript on Salon. It’s worth doing both simultaneously because he is a very articulate guy and his voice rings with righteous indignation.
The fact of the matter as far as I see it is that New Orleans is black city and America under the retarded Texan, is pretty much run for the whites. Black Americans are useful when you need someone in an American uniform to stand on a street corner and get shot at, but when it comes to spending money rescuing black people from their attics, well we’ve got better things to do.
Thanks to the Wily Filipino for the information about the links. Here's an extract.
WWL: Why couldn't they drop the 3,000-pound sandbags or the containers that they were talking about earlier? Was it an engineering feat that just couldn't be done?
Nagin: They said it was some pulleys that they had to manufacture. But, you know, in a state of emergency, man, you are creative, you figure out ways to get stuff done. Then they told me that they went overnight, and they built 17 concrete structures and they had the pulleys on them and they were going to drop them. I flew over that thing yesterday, and it's in the same shape that it was after the storm hit. There is nothing happening. And they're feeding the public a line of bull and they're spinning, and people are dying down here.
But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places. Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man. You know, I'm not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly. And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem. I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.
This is ridiculous. I don't want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count. Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.
From the beginning, the presidential-getaway-as-ranch has been a construct, a way to make a millionaire from Yale look like some kind of workaday cowpoke. Just before Bush left Washington for his latest vacation, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the trips to Crawford give the president time to "shed the coat and tie and meet with folks out in the heartland and hear what's on their minds."
It's not clear how many heartland folks Bush is hearing as he roars through Crawford in a motorcade of air-conditioned SUVs. And it's not like the locals are welcome to cross the Secret Service barricades and hang out with him back at the former pig farm he calls home.
Incidentally, if you are paying this guy's salary, you might like to know that:
The August getaway is Bush's 49th trip to his cherished ranch since taking office and Tuesday was the 319th day that Bush has spent, entirely or partially, in Crawford -- roughly 20 percent of his presidency to date, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio reporter known for keeping better records of the president's travel than the White House itself.