July 31, 2004

The Gaul Of Some People

Two Frenchman who were picked up in Afghanistan and have spent the last two years detained in Guantanamo left for France on Friday. Their lawyer had this to say:
"Each of (the two men) used the same expression, 'We have emerged from hell'."


"Hello? Kettle? Zis is zee crepe pan. You are black."

While I'm sure that during their time in Guantanamo they faced harsher treatment than too-cold brie, I'm equally sure that the French ought not to be shooting their mouths off about prison conditions. If you want to talk about hell, maybe we could mention Devil's Island (anybody read Papillon?), a French prison so cheery that some prisoners chose to swim a river teeming with piranha rather than stay any longer. One camp in the complex, Kourou, saw 4,000 convicts die in three years. But Devil's Island shut down in 1946. Surely things got better than that.

Maybe we should talk about Perpignan prison. (Anybody see Catch Me If You Can?) This place was so amiable that the six months Frank Abagnale spent there nearly killed him.
Abagnale was thrown, naked, into a cell in which he could not lie down or stand up and kept in total darkness. He was not let out of that cell until he was released. He had no means of grooming or cleaning himself, and was not even given a plate on which to eat the small amounts of food dumped just inside his door at irregular intervals. The sole amenity was a bucket which was not emptied very often.
Still, that was in the late 1960s, nearly 40 years ago. It's not like that today, right? C'mon...if that were the case, I wouldn't have wasted your time with this.

The recent publication of a French prison's doctor's diary found some interesting statistics. Among them:
She found the cells filthy and infested with rats and mice and the mattresses so teeming with lice and other insects that inmates collected them in jars to protest. Drug dealing was rampant, with some guards also being involved. Rape was frequent, as were self mutilations, suicides, and attempted suicides.

From the same link, some stats from an investigation done by the French newspaper Le Monde:

A high proportion of prisoners in French jails are remand prisoners, who are awaiting trial but have not been convicted of any offence, some of whom are later found not guilty. In July last year, 57 844 people were in jail in France, of whom 20143 were on remand. Prisoners awaiting trials and those condemned to less than one year's imprisonment are kept in prisons called "maison d'arrĂȘt," which are the most overcrowded - on average 20% above capacity.

Last year 118 prisoners committed suicide, more than 1000 attempted it, and there were 1362 self mutilations, including swallowing metallic objects - knives, forks, and even razor blades (usually taped or wrapped in cloth).

There were 953 hunger strikes lasting at least seven days and 278 attacks by inmates on guards; mistreatment and beating of prisoners by guards also took place.

And just for good measure, go here for an excerpt from a European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment report on some French prisons, or check out the International Observatory of Prisons' report, which calls the prisons "the dungeons of French democracy," and compares a visit to a French prison to "a descent into hell."

But don't just take my word for it. Take it from English trucker Paul Weston, whose letter from the French prison in which he was detained was published in the January 2, 2004 issue of the Yorkshire Evening Post.

I am now detained, as an innocent man, by the French authorities....I have been here three months in what I can only describe as inhumane conditions. I have been locked away in a cell which is 15ft long and 8ft wide. There are three of us in here, all English. There is myself, Dave - a 22-stone man from Fleetwood who is very ill and should not be here - and a third man who is a self-confessed drug trafficker. Paul says the three Englishmen leave their cells only for three
showers a week. The reason for this is that this prison is full of drug-crazed criminals and you are at risk, he writes. We are the only English here and we have been subjected to physical, racist, fascist abuse and both Dave and myself have been told that if we don't accept their drugs we are going to have our throats cut. The food here is terrible and I am losing weight. The French guards and senior management do not seem to care at all about our welfare or condition and still to this day are prepared to let us rot here in this cell 24 hours a day. I hope that all the people who read my letter will understand and absorb what kind of treatment goes on in countries supposed to be 'modern'.

The headline? "Life is hell in my French prison cell says trucker"

July 30, 2004

It Takes A Village

Okay, just came back from seeing The Village. After reading the NY Post review and a few others, I was ready for a letdown.

I'm here to tell you that the Post is all wet. I'm not sure why the negative review...I have my thoughts. The first one is that the reviewer, like some people who complained about Shyamalan's other post-Sixth Sense films, is investing too much in the idea of the "trick ending." (The second thought, I'll save for now.) When audiences focus too much on it, trying to 'figure it out', they set themselves up for a letdown if it doesn't meet their expectations. That's unfortunate, because they've essentially sacrificed the enjoyment of the story, banking on a big WOW at the end. And one thing about Shyamalan--he's a master storyteller. I've seen his films compared to The Twilight Zone, so let me go with that. Rod Serling, the creative juice behind the series, was a great writer. And he wrote a number of things besides TZ episodes. They were full of emotion, great dialogue, and realistic characters. If anyone went into one of those stories expecting another episode of The Twilight Zone, of course they're going to be disappointed. And most likely, they will fail to appreciate what might otherwise be a great tale.

Now, that's not to say that Shyamalan doesn't play to expectations; there is more to this village than meets the eye. But it doesn't take a genius to figure out just what that is. I might even be inclined to argue that the surprise wasn't meant to be so surprising if Shyamalan hadn't broke the unforgivable rule of film--he intentionally lies to his audience. I won't say when, but he obviously does it to mislead. He didn't do it in The Sixth Sense (he essentially let us mislead ourselves--he told us exactly what was going on), which was what made it great. I wish he had remembered that here.

So leave your expectations at the door if you want to enjoy this film. The cast does a particularly good job with some unconventional material. The notable exception is Adrien Brody, cast as the village idiot. He's a little too 'in your face' and I found him irritating in nearly every scene he was in. Joaquin Phoenix, who I generally don't like, was quite good. As far as the scares? Well, ask around--I generally don't get too scared during films. But I have to admit that I jumped in my seat more than once, and had the hair stand up on my arms and neck at one other point. I would venture to say that The Village is probably the scariest of Knight's (I got tired of typing Shyamalan) films, although Sixth Sense might edge it out. I'm sure I'll hear from all those people who need to feel a little more security: "I saw it, and that wasn't scary, that was stupid!" Whatever. Before you go shooting your mouth off, though, I'll ask you to do this--watch the film, then go find your nearest woods. I don't mean a couple of trees off the bike path in the park. I mean an honest-to-goodness forest, where the closest other human being is probably just a little out of screaming range. Walk around for a while. Listen to the creaking of the trees swaying, the crack of branches on the ground. Then tell me if it was scary or not.

Last thing I want to cover--this business about the film being some kind of allegory bashing the Bush administration. I'm curious to see what Knight has to say about it, but for my money, it's a bit of a stretch. There's nothing here any more allegorical than something like Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery." The strokes are broad and if there is some correlation between William Hurt's Edward Walker and George (Walker) Bush, I'm not even sure that's a negative here. After all, at times in the film, Walker functions as the voice of reason, and considering the way the story ends (no, I'm not telling), the director seems to be anything but critical of him. The film lacks that harsh judgment of the characters found in other cautionary tales, like Frankenstein or Brave New World, leaving it to the viewer to decide for themselves just who the "bad guys" are.

And that's the second reason I think the Post gave the film a negative review. The reviewer found some message in the film that he didn't like and, for him, it tainted the rest of it. I tried to take it for what it was and found it to be an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

July 27, 2004

You See What You Get...?

...when you start arguing and nit-picking over details of WMDs? Apparently emboldened by world reaction to the Iraq situation, Iran has thumbed its nose at the International Atomic Energy Agency by breaking the seals the IAEA had put on Iran's nuclear equipment, and resuming production of centrifuges.

Iran claims "the centrifuges are part of a nuclear program aimed only at producing energy."

Somebody needs to tell Iran that this "dual-use" shit doesn't fly. Just ask Tommy Chong.

A Fond Farewell...

Aw, hell. I knew it had to happen someday. Looks like my favorite NFL player for the past 15 or so years--15? Has it been that long?--Looks like he's finally being put out to pasture. (And I mean no disrespect with that term...he's earned a relaxing retirement.)

Rod Woodson was let go by the Oakland Raiders today, apparently for failing a physical. For those non-football fans out there, Woodson was one of the greatest defensive backs in the history of football. He wasn't as flashy as Deion, but he was nearly as fast (Woodson was a world-class hurdler) and covered just as well. He wasn't as big as "Night Train" Lane, but he hit as hard. Hell, take Woodson and Lane in their prime at your corners, throw in Ronnie Lott and Ken Houston in the safety positions, and you could shut down just about any air attack that came down the pike.

It's hard not to like Woodson. He's what's known as a stand-up guy. No flash, no scandal...a true leader on and off the field. Like all best of the best, he not only played with his body, he played with his heart.

I'm sad to see him go, but I thank him for the greatness he brought to the game, and I wish him well in the future.

July 26, 2004

Caption This! Part Four

Hmm...According to this, the killer was a balding man with a giant left eye....I think I'll keep that little tidbit to myself.


Reached the 1000 mark! Thanks to those who keep on reading my ramblings. Now, let's see about getting some more comments out there, people! There's a lot of stuff to respond to--pictures, controversey, wordgames...don't make me come over there!

For god's sake, people, I need validation!

July 24, 2004

Caption This! Part Three

A 1999 photo of Monica.

(What the hell is making that hair stick to my mou.....oh, never mind)

You May Be Donating More Than You Think

My opinion on abortion has pretty much been as follows:

Until I develop a womb, and can carry a child in it for nine months as a woman does, I'm just gonna shut the hell up.

If you really pressured me, I would come down on the side of pro-choice. But I can't help but notice what I feel are glaring inconsistencies in the law, or perhaps more correctly, the implementation of the law. Take this case for example, in which a sperm donor is forced by the PA courts to pay child support to the twins born from his donation.
The three-judge panel ruled Thursday that the deal between Joel McKiernan and Ivonne Ferguson - in which McKiernan donated his sperm and would not be obligated to pay any support - was unenforceable because of "legal, equitable and moral principles."

Despite an agreement that appeared to be a binding contract, the father is obligated to provide financial support, the court decided.

"It is the interest of the children we hold most dear,'" wrote Senior Judge Patrick Tamalia.

We all know that the mother's right to privacy gives her the right to abort the pregnancy. (Apparently the right of the children is not always held "most dear.") The courts determined that in Roe v. Wade (1973) :
This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

Clear enough. But the court's opinion goes on to say:

...appellant and some amici argue that the woman's right is absolute and that she is entitled to terminate her pregnancy at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason she alone chooses. With this we do not agree....The privacy right involved, therefore, cannot be said to be absolute. In fact, it is not clear to us that the claim asserted by some amici that one has an unlimited right to do with one's body as one pleases bears a close relationship to the right of privacy previously articulated in the Court's decisions. The Court has refused to recognize an unlimited right of this kind in the past....We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation.

Is there room in there for the father's rights? It's a tough question. We strive for equality among the genders, at least under the law. But here there is a clear case in which biological differences have created (and almost necessitated) inequalities under the law. As this article from Slate states, "the law just can't overcome our gender-bound bodies."

The article also mentions the reasoning behind Planned Parenthood v. Danforth (1976):
In situations where one parent was being given a veto--have the baby or don't--the court determined that it could not give fathers veto power the state itself did not posses.

I guess my question, then, is "why?" The state has no problem giving that power to the mother. True, it is her body. But as stated above, that right to privacy is not absolute, according to the courts. Logically, the state should not posses the power to veto--it has very little, if any, stake in the matter. But extending that argument to include the father falls apart. He does have a very big stake in the matter. Although he is not affected physically, he is subject to some of the other hardships that result from a pregnancy, and which were the reasoning behind the Roe v. Wade decision--emotional, social, and financial hardships.

I don't know what the answer is. I don't know if there even is one. I know I don't have one. I'd like to see where you all stand on the matter. Ring out and let your voice be heard! (At least by the three or four readers I have...)

Thanks, But No Tanks

Despite being asked nicely, Russia has declined to send any peacekeeping forces into Iraq.

Somebody remind me again--which country benefited the most from the Oil-For-Food scam? I won't name names, but somebody's got to step up to the plate-ski and take one for the comrades. You helped sustain the dictatorship, you help clean up after it.

To be fair, though, Russia has offered some economic aid, including the possibility of forgiving half of Iraq's debt.

July 23, 2004

Bourne To Be Wild (And Shaky)

Went to see The Bourne Supremacy today. It was two hours well-spent, but I have to say...I left the theater feeling disappointed. I expected a little more. I'm not going to talk too much about the plot, except to say that it picks up two years after the end of the first film. Jason Bourne is living "off the grid" in India, trying for some sense of normalcy. Suffice to say, that doesn't last long. We wouldn't have a movie otherwise.

A couple of things the film has going for it:
  • Like the first film, the story is whip-smart, and extremely well paced. Tony Gilroy, who co-wrote the script for the first film, works his magic again. It's the minutiae in the film that make it seem so real. For example, in the first film, Bourne rips an emergency exit map off the wall to help escape an American Embassy. A small detail, to be sure, but haven't you ever wondered how some of the other cinematic secret agents do it? There are more of these gems in the new film, too.
  • Matt Damon (who I must admit is not one of my favorite actors) once again does a great job with the Jason Bourne role.  Damon's Bourne is near-emotionless, relentless, and brutally efficient. As one of the characters in the film says about him: "he doesn't make mistakes. He doesn't do 'random'." There are no "lucky breaks" here, no gadgets from Q branch. I look forward to him making a third Bourne film.
  • Although you don't have to have seen the first film, those of us who have will enjoy a number of references to people and events from that film. What Gilroy doesn't do, is feel the need to explain each and every one of these. I like being treated like an intelligent filmgoer.
  • Joan Allen: Irritating (her character, that is) and sexy. Can't beat that.
  • Brian Cox: Still my favorite Hannibal Lecter.
Now, the down side...

  • Director Paul Greengrass should never, ever be allowed to do an action film. Ever. I can't say that enough. He seems to have gone to the Simon West (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) school of filmmaking. Some of the best things about The Bourne Identity were the action scenes.  Especially the fights which were fast-paced, but elegant, like some crazy ballet. And they were quick--no knock-down, drag-outs there. Greengrass somehow got it into his head: a) using a hand-held camera would make it seem more realistic (It doesn't. It's irritating and makes you feel ill.) ; and b) lots of quick cuts during the action scenes will make it seem more frenetic and fast-paced. (Again, it doesn't. All it does is confuse you. "Who just did what to whom?" "Was that an eyeball?") I can't blame it all on Greengrass though; someone should have stopped him and said "What the hell are you thinking?" before the film hit the theaters. Yes, it's that bad.
  • Julia Stiles: I was dismayed at what was essentially a cameo in the first film, and when I saw her name in the credits for this one, I was happy because I thought for sure that they would expand her role in the new film. Unfortunately, Nicky is once again a throwaway role. Too bad.
  • The Ending (no spoilers): A movie ending should give the audience not necessarily a sense of closure, but the sense that this particular story is over. The Bourne Supremacy does this. However, it does it about ten minutes before the actual end of the film.  Although that last ten minutes does provide some interesting information, it feels tacked on. I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it actually was tacked on. Maybe after some advance screenings?
Final verdict? A very entertaining film. Could have been better than the first one. Could have been a great film.

Things That Irritate Me At This Moment

Can't Sharon Stone afford a decent haircut? My God, the woman looks like she stuck her head in a woodchipper...

Great Minds Think Alike

Cox & Forkum stole my punchline (although it was an obvious one). But the setups were different.

And when I say "different," I mean "mine's better."

July 22, 2004

Shut Up And Sing!

I'm getting a little tired of celebrities who seem bound and determined to tell you what they think, and then cry "censorship" when it comes back to bite them in the ass.  Most of them fail to make the most obvious distinction--yes, it's a free country, and you have every right to give your political opinion...but not when I'm paying for a damn concert! We pay ridiculous prices because we want to hear you sing a varied selection of your popular songs. That's it. 

And they're not the only ones who have the benefit of free speech. When I leave in the middle of a performance and rip down your posters on my way out, that's my free speech. When the owner of the venue kicks you out and says you're never coming back, that's not censorship, that's his free speech.

Bonnie Raitt is another example. In an apparent bid to get that ever-so-important Swedish vote for Kerry, Raitt dedicated the song "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)" to George Bush.  Reminds me of the Dixie Chicks in London. Why is it that these performers wait until they're outside the country before they start mouthing off? Did somebody let the Swedes and the Brits vote in our elections when I wasn't looking? If Bonnie Raitt really wants to impress me, she'll wait until she's in concert in Texas and then make her dedication. Trashing the President in Sweden is hardly a risk.

July 21, 2004

Are Those Secret Documents In Your Pants, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?

From the Best Laugh of the Day Department:

Here are the choice bits from an MSNBC article. (hat tip: CSWYGU)

Berger, who served under former President Bill Clinton, is under investigation by the Justice Department after highly classified documents disappeared while he was reviewing what should be turned over to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks....some drafts of a sensitive after-action report on the Clinton administration’s handling of al-Qaida terror threats during the December 1999 millennium celebration are still missing, officials and lawyers said.

Berger had this to say:

“I made an honest mistake."

Well, he's half right...

Lanny Breuer, Berger’s attorney, said Tuesday his client was leaving the Kerry campaign, for which he has been an informal adviser, because he “does not want any issue surrounding the 9/11 commission to be used for partisan purposes.”

Hahahahahahahahaha! Woo-hoo! *sniff* Ah...that's the best one.  For the comically impaired, this is funny because...well, because saying you don't want the 9/11 commission to be used for partisan purposes at this point in time is a lot like turning to the person sharing that awkward afterglow of the steamed-up, cramped back seat of your dad's station wagon and asking if you can break up because you'd like to get your virginity back.

In a statement issued by his campaign, Kerry said: “Sandy Berger is my friend, and he has tirelessly served this nation with honor and distinction. I respect his decision to step aside as an adviser to the campaign until this matter is resolved objectively and fairly.”

Translation: "Oh Dear God, somebody get his stink off of me!" 

Clinton came to the defense of his former aide Tuesday, saying, "The innocent explanation is the most likely one, particularly given the facts involved

Well...that all depends on what your definition of the word "is" is.

Berger and Breuer said Monday night that Berger knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket and pants and that he also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio.

Inadvertently took classified documents in a leather portfolio while putting his handwritten notes in his jacket and pants? Just how big are those pants?????

Berger said he returned some classified documents that he found in his office and all of the handwritten notes he had taken from the secure room but could not find two or three copies of the highly classified millennium terror report.

See, this is funny because...oh, just read it again. You'll get it. It's like some crazy episode of The Brady Bunch.

"Hey, Pete!  I accidentally switched the portfolio holding dad's highly classified millennium terror report with the one holding the flyers for this week's pep rally! Get the rest of the kids together and check the school and the malt shop."

"Groovy idea, Greg! What are you going to do?"

"I'm gonna go check in Tiger's doghouse."

(NOTE: this article mentions a 'secure room'. It's my understanding that in secure rooms, even removing handwritten notes is forbidden, although I don't know if that applies in every case. But I did once speak to someone who was on one of the House Select Committees and during that conversation, he described the 'secure room'--all notepads pages were numbered and all pages were accounted for at the end of the day. Nothing left the room.)

“When I was informed by the Archives that there were documents missing, I immediately returned everything I had except for a few documents that I apparently had accidentally discarded,” he said.

Because we all know how unsightly those leather portfolios can be when left lying around the house.

There are laws strictly governing the handling of classified information, including prohibiting unauthorized removal or release of such information.

Yes, I believe these are known as the "no fucking shit, Dick Tracy" laws.

Gergen said he thought that “it is suspicious” that word of the investigation of Berger would emerge just as the Sept. 11 commission was about to release its report, because “this investigation started months ago.”

This is the very definition of chutzpah. Seriously, I haven't seen balls this big since that Discovery Channel special on elephantiasis. "How dare those terrible Republicans point out possible criminal conduct by one of John Kerry's advisers at such an inopportune time?!"

Ultimately, what really makes this whole thing so funny is that for the last several months the country has been bombarded with chants of "Bush lied!" regarding the Iraq-Niger uranium intel referenced in  the SOTU speech.  Now it appears that that intel may be legitimate and that Joe Wilson, who was at the head of the torch-bearing mob and has ties to John Kerry's campaign, is the one who lied. Then we were hit with insinuations and accusations about the "memo of the sixth."  Now another fellow with ties to Senator Kerry seems to have licked that problem--just put the darn things in your pants until they can be "accidentally" disposed of.

Is anybody even remotely buying this? And does it matter at this point? At best, Berger is grossly incompetent. At worst, he's a liar, a criminal, and possibly even treasonous. (Now before you jump all over my ass for "treasonous", let me say: it's "at worst", they're national security documents, and they're missing.)  

July 18, 2004

You Want Crushed Nuts With That?

Some things are just to horrible to write about...or joke about. Especially in the case of...No! I can't do it! It's too spine-chilling! The horror....The horror!
Just click here

July 17, 2004

Live The Fantasy!

Or something like that. Go here and type in your birthday and find out which celebrities are your perfect (or near-perfect) match. It's based on biorhythms. Yes, it's stupid and silly...but you know you want to!
In my top five was Poppy Montgomery of Without A Trace who I have had a thing for ever since she played Marilyn Monroe on that made-for-tv-movie. Coincidentally, she is also among the celebrities who do not currently have restraining orders against me. I'll let you know how that works out.
Oh...the rest of the top five:
  • Brooke Shields
  • Robin Tunney
  • Naomi Campbell
  • Joey Lauren Adams
None of my favorites, but not a bad line-up.

July 15, 2004

The People Have Spoken

Well, the fat people, anyway. Read it here.

Just a thought--if your name is Whoopi, should you really be making fun of someone else's name?

July 14, 2004

A Moment Of Your Time

Is all this will require. Click the link and say a quick thank-you to Prime Minister Tony Blair. It's not only easy to do, it's good manners!

In all seriousness, though, I urge you to follow through on this. Mr. Blair has shown us his willingness to stand by the U.S. Let's reassure him that we stand by him as well.

Hat tip to CSWYGU.

July 11, 2004

One Stop Shopping For All The Good News

Chrenkoff has been nice enough to organize all the good news coming out of Iraq in one spot. It's a long read (and it's only one part of five!) but well worth it. I also suggest following some of the links. Especially this one, which will take you to the Iraq-America Freedom Alliance, where you can view the actual ad for a letter from 15 Iraqi groups to America, just to say "Thanks."

The open letter reads in part: "Just as we mourn for the victims of Saddam's regime, we also grieve for the Americans and Iraqis who were killed or injured during the liberation or by terrorists determined to hold us back. We will honor those who have sacrificed for our freedom by building a new Iraq that lives in peace with the nations of the world, without fear of war, torture chambers or terrorism."

Funny...don't remember any of these folks from Fahrenheit 9/11.

We did the right thing here, people. And there are those who still want to say "sure, it was a good thing, but the ends don't justify the means." But suppose we had done it their way? Suppose the UN played the "does he, doesn't he" game with Saddam a little longer? Suppose they wrote a few more resolutions, merely moving the line he's not supposed to cross after he crosses it? Suppose we waited for international support that might never have come, considering some of the major players had lucrative oil contracts with Iraq? What then?

Saddam and his sadistic offspring would still be in power, still filling mass graves, still denying the Iraqi people money from the oil for food program, and, seeing as how the Nigerian yellowcake story might not be the misinformation it was portrayed as, trying to pursue a nuclear weapons program.

I have to ask the obvious here: Do their means justify that end?

July 10, 2004

Racism! Racism!

Shame on California Education Secretary Richard Riordan. He told a little six-year-old named Isis that her name means "stupid dirty girl."

Immediately, civil rights groups called for his resignation. They planned demonstrations.

Alice Huffman, president of the California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Thursday that Riordan "is not suitable to lead education in our state" and should be removed.

Democratic state Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally called on Riordan to step down, telling the San Jose Mercury News the child was a "little African-American girl."

"Would he (Riordan) have done that to a white girl?" Dymally asked.

As it turns out...yes. Yes, he would.

Dymally soon found out that the little girl, Isis D'Luciano, is white. The protests were called off. Nobody was calling for Riordan's head. In fact, Dymally suddenly found a new spirit of forgiveness:
Dymally said in a statement. "To err is human; to forgive is divine."

Yeah...especially when that forgiveness helps get that foot out of your mouth.

I don't really want to comment on this one--I'll let all of you think for yourselves. I will say, though, that I've always maintained there are a number of people out there, who purport to be working on behalf of various minorities, who don't ever really want things to get better. This is because if the situation were to improve, they would not hold sway to the same degree they do now. They are the shit-stirrers. And although they always claim to want everyone to be treated equally, they are usually the last ones to do so.

Caption This! Part Two

Again, the photo is from Drudge. There are a number of good ones there, but I picked this one. I may throw one of the others up in a day or so.

"Now come on up front with me, little man, and you can sit on my lap and pretend to fly the plane..."

Is That Yellowcake I Smell, Or Just Your Pants Burning?

Or maybe a little bit of both? Seems that perhaps Joseph Wilson was a little less than truthful when passing along information regarding Niger's alleged sale of "yellowcake" uranium to Iraq.

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

Yesterday's report said that whether Iraq sought to buy lightly enriched "yellowcake" uranium from Niger is one of the few bits of prewar intelligence that remains an open question.

Why does this matter? Well, as Lorie Byrd points out on PoliPundit, this was really the drop of blood in the water that began the "Bush lied" frenzy.
After Joe Wilson wrote his op/ed piece declaring the uranium story false, the President said he regretted it was included in the SOTU. The Democrats, like sharks in a sea of red, declared that Bush had admitted he lied. That was all it took. From that point on, the "Bush lied" mantra was repeated daily, and when WMD was not found in significant quantities in Iraq, the volume of those chanting it grew deafening.

While it doesn't mitigate other intelligence failures, I think it does illustrate the tendency to rush to judgment when considering things political.

Many of those who have opposed this administration looked upon Bush's "apology" for including the yellowcake in his SOTU address as some kind of admission of guilt. Can we expect apologies from them if this uranium story turns out to have some validity? Even begrudging acceptance would be a start.

UPDATE: Over at the Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Steyn, as always, says it better than I.

Name That Speaker

Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating agents and is capable of quickly producing weaponizing of a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery on a range of vehicles, such as bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers and covert operatives which would bring them to the United States itself.

In addition, we know they are developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents.

According to the CIA’s report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that they are seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop them.

In the wake of September 11, who among us can say with any certainty to anybody that the weapons might not be used against our troops or against allies in the region? Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater, a nuclear weapon?

Give up? Go here.

July 09, 2004

Bias? What Bias?

Is the media fooling anyone these days? I just read an article about the latest AP poll, in which Bush "slightly" leads Kerry, 49% to 45% (MOE 3.5%). The headline? "AP Poll: Kerry Solidifies Base."

In the interest of something...some feeble attempt at objectivity, I guess, they did manage two quotes from Republicans. Here they are:

"I'm more impressed with Kerry now that he chose Edwards," said Republican voter Robin Smith, 45, a teacher from Summerville, S.C.

the second one's a little better, at least.

"I want Bush in there, because the other guy is like sending a boy to do a man's job," said Glenn Foldessy, 45, of Streetsboro, Ohio, outside Cleveland. Foldessy, who usually votes Republican, said Edwards made the Democratic ticket stronger, but not strong enough.

But what about the headline, you ask? Oh yeah, there was this:

Since June, Kerry has increased his percentage of strong supporters, from 55 percent in June to 64 percent now, a sign that he has rallied his base. He also strengthened his support in the South from 39 percent to 45 percent and among voters with incomes from $25,000 to $50,000, from 41 percent to 50 percent, the AP-Ipsos poll found.

But what makes that little tidbit more headline-worthy than this one?
Voters said they were feeling better about the economy and no worse about Iraq, a sign that Bush may be regaining his political footing just as Democrats make a high-profile push toward their nominating convention later this month.

Salvation At A Discount

Just got back from the local "sidewalk sales." I was helping a friend's wife sell jewelry. English is her second language, and she wanted someone there to help with translations and such. Our table just happened to be nestled up next to a table from a nearby church. One of the more aggressive type of churches whose members feel that the church should pervade every corner of their existence, and, if they have anything to say about it...yours as well. In all fairness, the young man running the table is a very kind-hearted and friendly individual. But it's hard for people to see that, I'm sure, when he's thrusting pamphlets in their faces and asking overly personal questions:
"Have you ever stolen anything?"
"Have you ever told a lie?"
"Have you ever had feelings of lust for another person?"

The idea behind that last one, by the way, is that if you've lusted after somebody in your heart, then God will know, and you will be damned just as if you had committed adultery. Of course, considering that the weather was warm, and nearly all of the fairer sex were clad in either short-shorts or short-skirts and baby doll tops, I had damned myself several dozen times in the first hour alone, all from the relative comfort of my folding chair.

Anyway, all this would be frustrating enough for the average passer-by. But he was sitting next to me. The Heathen. The Atheist. The guy who firmly believes that if God exists, he shouldn't have to advertise. Time Warner Cable, sure. But not the Big Guy. If God wanted me in church on Sunday, why doesn't he just miracle my ass there? Or better yet...in my youth, I did attend church on Sundays. God sent down a flaming sword to block Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, A pillar of fire to block the Egyptians from Moses. Moses even got a burning bush. Where was my fire? I would have settled for a homeless guy with a Zippo, standing naked in the vestibule. Now that's a sign.

Honestly, though? I kept my cool, kept my mouth shut, and I learned a few things. I learned that despite the polls I hear about all the time, the ones that say upwards of 95% of the country believes in God and considers themselves religious, most people either a) don't want anything to do with God or religion, at least while they're shopping, or b) believe in God, but a God that apparently lets them do pretty much whatever the heck they want.

The funniest moment by far was when two young men from the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints came by. They argued--I'm not kidding--for an hour about--again, not kidding--whether God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost were three entities, or only one. It was like watching the Sharks and the Jets rumble, if West Side Story had been make by PAX.

It was a knock-down, drag-out. It was the Resistance over Existence, the Brawler over Allah, the Altercation over Transubstantiation. In the end, though...the guy next to me won. The mormons left, having been unable to convince anyone within earshot that Jesus had come to America, despite our thriving bed and breakfast industry.

And all was quiet again. At least, until I felt a hand on my shoulder...

"Do you have a Christian background?"

July 08, 2004

Yeah, But Does Your Dog Have Any Teeth?

Ooooohhhhh....the United Nations is cross at Yasser Arafat. I'm sure he's quaking in his boots. "Oh no," he must be thinking, "they have such an impressive record of enforcement...whatever shall I do? They may even...dare I speak it? I may get a strongly-worded resolution! Woe is me!"

Excuse the sarcasm, but after all this time, I'm firmly in the "I'll believe it when I see it" camp.

But envoys from the United States, United Nations and European Union and Russia told Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie that the world had run out of patience with Arafat's "empty promises" of reform.

You think they'll take back his Nobel Prize?

Seriously, the guy wins a peace prize for negotiating peace in the Middle East? And how well has that worked in the past ten years?

With that kind of track record, I've decided to do a little campaigning for my own Nobel Prize for this novel I'm planning on writing in the next ten years. It could be successful...but then again, maybe not.

The Economy, Part 2

First there were no jobs. Then there were jobs, but they weren't good jobs, right? Well, here is another take on the future of jobs in America.

The charge that low-quality service jobs--often dubbed "McJobs"--are proliferating is inaccurate. The McJobs argument has two primary implications. The first is that wages are declining, and the second is that the new jobs are unfulfilling. Empirical data on American pay, incomes, and quality of life make the case that American jobs are better today and getting better every year.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The article is from the Heritage Foundation. For those of you who don't know, they're usually designated a "consevative think tank." So as always, know your sources.

July 07, 2004

Just In Case You Missed This...

Because I'm sure it must be in all the headlines:

The economy appears headed for a banner year despite a springtime spike in energy prices and a recent increase in interest rates.

In fact, many analysts are forecasting that the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, will grow by 4.6 percent or better this year, the fastest in two decades.

The rest of the article is here. Just read it.

Does this mean that Hillary is still going to take things from us "on behalf of the common good"?

July 05, 2004

Caption This!

I'm feeling in a fun mood, here in the wee small hours of the morning. I got this picture from Drudge. What I want all of you to do is create a caption for it. I've put mine in already, but I reserve the right to throw a few in later.

"Well, well, well...NOW who's the big war hero?"

A Literary Exercise

Okay, people. In the hope of drumming up a few comments from you slackers, I'm borrowing (READ: stealing) this little game from JimSpot:

1. Take five books off your bookshelf.
2. Book No. 1 -- first sentence.
3. Book No. 2 -- last sentence on page fifty.
4. Book No. 3 -- second sentence on page one hundred.
5. Book No. 4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty.
6. Book No. 5 -- final sentence of the book.
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph
(NOTE: it doesn't specify that the sentences have to be in order, so I say go ahead and mix 'em up.)

Cut and paste your paragraph into a comment.

Here's mine:

My search led me to the edge of the woods. It is semidesert here, everything burned up and dry except for a lake, a large reservoir of some sort below us. There were six of us to dinner that night at Mike Schofield's house in London: Mike and his wife and daughter, my wife and I, and a man called Richard Pratt. Once they moved him out, everything went downhill. Far from the end, it is only the beginning...

Damn...That came out well. I'd keep reading.

The Books (in order found in the paragraph):
* Wigfield, Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, Stephen Colbert
* Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance, Robert Pirsig
* Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected, Roald Dahl
* Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory, Michael Christopher Carrol
* Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe, Michio Kaku and Jennifer Thompson

July 04, 2004

The Mysterious Seven Minutes

My good friend and commenter CSWYGU sent me this editorial from Newsday. It's a criticism of Bush's reaction upon hearing the news that a second airliner had crashed into the World Trade Center. Here's a sample:

After chief of staff Andrew Card whispered the tragic news, President George W. Bush was as compliant as the unknowing third graders around him. He fidgeted in his seat. He grimaced. He beaded and unbeaded his eyes. He wiggled his razor lips. At one point he seemed on the verge of raising his hand and pleading for a toilet break.

Now, Mr. Payne is certainly entitled to his opinion, just as I am entitled to respond to it. And respond I will. I'm sending Mr. Payne the following, but--with the expectation that it will not make the pages of Newsday--I'm including it here.

Dear Mr. Payne:

I would like to take issue with a number of points in your opinion piece titled "What a film has taught the Bush team." Before I do, however, I'd like to start off with a simple question:

What were you doing for seven minutes after that second plane hit?

For that matter, what was Michael Moore doing? I know what I was doing--staring at the television, dumbfounded. And I didn't just sit there for several minutes; I sat there for several hours.

As you rightly pointed out, this was an attack on American soil unlike any seen since independence. No other President (with the possible exception of FDR...And I'll get to him in a moment) has had to deal with anything like this. So let me ask you, sir: What should his reaction have been? Would you have preferred to have him break down sobbing, as I'm sure many in the nation did that day? Perhaps he should have ripped open his shirt, revealing a big "W" on his chest, and flown out the window? Maybe he should have led the school in a prayer because that wouldn't have come back to haunt him, would it? I know, I know..."He's the President. He's our leader. He should have done something!" But he's also a human being, and maybe his reaction to this world-changing event was the right one for him. Maybe to him, it was more important to try and maintain control for the sake of the children in front of him, to let them know that even though things were never going to be the same anymore, that for the moment...Everything was okay.

Of course, there's another consideration. Even if, as you suggest, the President was doing nothing but "twiddling his thumbs for seven full minutes," then I have to ask: What about the Secret Service? If we expect the President to act immediately, what about the men responsible for his safety? After all, planes have crashed into the WTC, and others are heading for Washington. For all they know, the President is a target as well. Yet they do nothing. Perhaps for that seven minutes, the safest spot for the President was in that chair in front of those third graders, under the watch of those who had planned his security for this time and place down to the smallest detail. Perhaps the choice to do nothing was not his. After all, seven minutes does not seem an unreasonable amount of time for those who might have to change and update those same detailed security considerations to do so. Is that what happened? I can't say; I wasn't there. But I can give you a quote from someone who, unlike Michael Moore, was there that day--School Principal Gwendolyn Tose-Rigell, the principal at Emma E. Booker Elementary School, who says Bush handled himself properly:

"I don't think anyone could have handled it better," Tose-Rigell told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in a story published Wednesday. "What would it have served if he had jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room?"

What indeed? I suspect it would have served people much like yourself, who would today likely be using terms like "rushed off" and "abandoned" instead of "idle" and "compliant."

You bring up FDR's reaction to Pearl Harbor as a comparison:

Imagine Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the dawn of World War II. Word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did not spin him into a seven-minute seance. No cameras were present, but it is a sure bet FDR would not have awaited his turn to read to third graders.

You're right in pointing out that there were no cameras present. But Harry Hopkins was present. He wrote that FDR seemed unsurprised. Mrs. Roosevelt, discussing December 7, 1941 in This I Remember said that her husband seemed "in a way, more serene." Later that day, FDR met with newsman Edward R. Murrow. He also expressed surprise at Roosevelt's calm reaction. But certainly, despite the calm demeanor, he was a man of quick action, right? Well, at 9:30 pm on December 6, the day before Pearl Harbor was attacked, FDR read the decoded Japanese declaration of war. What did he do? He went back to his 34 dinner guests and told them "the war starts tomorrow." There's your answer--he wouldn't have awaited his turn to read to third graders; he would have awaited dessert.

Seven minutes is a small amount of time to judge someone, yet you seem to use it as an opportunity to bring up other, unrelated issues. Shall we judge other leaders that way? I'm not sure that seven minutes is a long enough time to determine any man's worth, whether it be seven minutes in response to a crisis or seven minutes (okay, I'm being generous) spent staining an intern's dress. You see what I mean?

In closing you suggest that the events surrounding the handover of Iraq show evidence that the Bush Administration "learned" something from the criticism of Bush's reaction on 9/11:

Bush scribbled on the note, "Let Freedom Reign!" The scripted Bush then turned to Blair, and this time he did the whispering. The two leaders shook hands. Though White House spokesmen have denied seeing "Fahrenheit 9/11," there was every indication at the summit that the handlers had clearly learned from it.

I ask you sir: don't you think that the President seems more 'viewer-friendly' during the handover of Iraq for two simple reasons--that this was a happy occasion, not a somber one, and that these events came as no surprise? If so, then where does the learning come in?

Finally, you take one last cheap shot. I'm going to do the same. You say:

If, however, the president intended to shadow the "let freedom ring" line of "My Country 'Tis of Thee," he ironically flubbed it by writing "reign."

Perhaps he should have spent a few more minutes with those Florida third graders.

There are other, more likely sources for "let freedom reign." For example, you may have heard of a fellow named Nelson Mandella. He was the first black president of South Africa. This is what he said in his 1994 inauguration speech:

We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world. Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves. Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Let freedom reign.

It's also entirely possible that the President simply chose the appropriate word. "Let freedom ring" doesn't make much sense, unless you include the lyrics before it: "from every mountainside, let freedom ring." However, when told, essentially, that Iraq possesses independent national authority, he responds with a phrase that means "let freedom prevail." Wholly appropriate, and not even close to a "flub."

Perhaps you should have spent a few more minutes with a dictionary.

Sigh....It Never Ends

I'd like to talk about something besides Fahrenheit 9/11, bI just get irked when people are that deceptive. There's a guy with a website up supposedly "refuting" the debunking of Moore's film. The latest post to piss me off is this one:

8. Who called Florida in favor of Bush?
FFact and others make a solid point when they claim Moore's film makes "the assertion that the Fox News Channel was the reason that other networks began to call Florida for Bush instead of Gore." They claim that Fox was actually one of the networks that mistakenly called Florida for Gore around 8:00 pm election night and it wasn't until after 2:00am that Fox ended up calling Florida for Bush, which was the first network to do so even though the recounts into the early hours of the morning showed, according to Newsweek, Bush's suppossed lead dwindling. Here is how FFact puts it:

And at 7:52 p.m., Fox called Florida for Gore. Moore never lets the audience know that Fox was among the networks which made the error of calling Florida for Gore prematurely. At 10:00 p.m., which network took the lead in retracting the premature Florida result? The first retracting network was CBS, not Fox.

Over four hours later, at 2:16 a.m., Fox projected Bush as the Florida winner, as did all the other networks by 2:20 a.m.

All there facts are in line and for a great insight into how and CBS made their calls, view this document (very cool). The only problem is that once again their is no proof or validity to the claim that Moore lied. All the movie says is that all the networks had called Florida for Gore and then a network called the Fox News channel called it for Bush. True, Moore never gives you a timeline and never and mentions that Fox had originally called Florida for Gore but the fact of the matter is that all the networks had originally called Florida for Gore until Fox called it for Bush at 2:06am.

Furthermore, CBS only retracted their claim that Gore won Florida at 10:00pm but never call it in favor of Bush. It wasn't until Fox called it for Bush did any netowrk follow suit. So while Moore may not give his viewers all the underlying facts, his main argument that all the networks had Florida for Gore until Fox called it the other way is entirely factual.

And here's my response:

...You're clearly missing the point here. First of all, calling Florida for Bush at 2:16 (not 2:06 as you said) means absolutely squat--the polls are ALL CLOSED! The networks themselves don't actually "pick" the winner, they only make educated (sometimes, anyway) guesses. So when the polls are closed, they can call whomever they want as a winner. The only thing that matters at that point is the actual count. What does matter is when a network makes a bad call while the polls are still open. What Moore is implying is that Fox News got all the other networks to change their tune and thereby influence the voters. Think about it--if Moore isn't claiming some kind of voter influence, then why even mention it? Who gives a shit what the networks say? It's not like their word is Law. "Um...Well, the votes say that Gore won, but Fox already told America Bush won, so...um...I guess Bush gets it."

So, was there a possibility of voter influence? You better believe it. But it's not what you think. Follow along...

Moore starts out the film by saying:
"It was election night 2000 and everything seemed to be going as planned."

Really? I suppose it would be if you were a Bush supporter. Moore shows clips of NY, NJ, Delaware, and then Florda declaring wins for Gore. Problem--until florida was called for Gore at 7:49, the only state Gore had won was Vermont, with 3 electoral votes. In fact, up until 7:49, it was a projected 54-3 race for Bush. I'd hardly say that was "going as planned." NJ and Deleware were called at 8:00 and NY at 9:00. Moore is lying. And let me be blunt with you...you seem to have a very narrow definition of a lie. Here's the definition from my Oxford Dictionary:

· n. an intentionally false statement. a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression.
· v. (lies, lied, lying) tell a lie or lies. (of a thing) present a false impression. [emphasis mine]

In many of your posts, you seem to be relying on the "that's not exactly what he said" argument, when obviously--according to the above definition--the impression he gives matters just as much, so let's just put that little game of semantics to bed right now.

Where was I? Oh yes, voter influence. Now the independent report by CBS claims that:

Contrary to the hypothesis that the early call in Florida for Gore discouraged West Coast voters, I have suggested that CBS News’ coverage of the race as close was likely to lead those in the West to conclude that their votes would matter.

Nice sentiment, but crap. First of all, most of the report is one big "cover your ass." "Suggested?" "Likely?" Not very certain. They even compare themselves to the other networks. The message? "Well, at least we weren't as bad as those other guys." The fact that much of the report details corrections that need to be made illustrates that they know it was a royal screw-up. If it was no big deal they'd keep the status quo. The report later goes on to say:

There is little evidence that early election calls affect turnout or voting patterns, but there is no way to prove that these calls have no effect on voting.

Clearly, that tends to refute the earlier statement.

To justify the "no influence" argument, the report claims:

More than 60 percent of the country’s 538 electoral votes are cast by states whose polls close by 8:00 PM, EST, a full three hours before polls close in the West. More than 80 percent are cast by states whose polls close by 9:00 PM, EST. It is obvious how easily a candidate can amass the needed 270 electoral votes in states that have closed their polls and begun reporting their results by 9:00 PM, EST. The last time before this year that the winner was not known before 11:00 PM, EST, was in 1976.

In addition, more than 85 percent of those who voted in the 2000 election cast their ballots before the networks even began their election coverage at 7:00 PM, EST.

Sounds pretty iron-clad, no? Well, if the election was determined by the popular vote, and it wasn't a close race, those would be some bad-ass statistics. But it's not, and it was. Let me throw some figures of my own at you. I'll even use the CBS report statistics.

There were 15 states in the 2000 election decided by a margin of 5% or less. Gore won 9 of them. At 7:49, when Florida was mistakenly called for Gore, the polls were still open in all 9 states. That's 96 electoral votes at stake. That's the election. Think 5% is a little high? The states he won by less than 3% of the vote still add up to 40 electoral votes. Still more than enough to balance Florida. Nine states that suddenly think Gore has 25 more electoral votes.

Several times throughout the report, they maintain:

[Dan] Rather assumed that a win by Gore in Florida made him viable and the race close. Faced with this information, Republicans and Democrats in the West presumably would be motivated to believe that their votes would count and hence be more inclined to go to the polls.

Well that's great...a win makes him viable and motivates the voters. Folks, that is a clear admission of voter influence. What they're trying to say is that well, we made a mistake, and it influenced the voters, but in a good way, because it got more people to vote. Hey, morons....you still influenced the vote! But here's what they're NOT saying. If the state was called too close, as it should have been, then Gore is not "more viable," especially considering that some of the other networks were saying he had to win Florida. What then? Isn't it conceivable that votes in those nine hotly contested states could have ended up differently? Imagine a few Nader supporters in Wisconson (11 votes), which Gore won by less than 1%. Is it possible that upon hearing that Gore "won" Florida that they thought "hey, Gore could win this thing," and change their vote? How about those Gore supporters in Minnesota (10 votes), which Gore won by 2%, who might have stayed home if they didn't think he was "more viable"?

Of course, as we said, we can't prove any of this. But at least this scenario has some validity. It's well within the realm of possibility. Moore's, because the Fox News call for Bush took place after the polls closed, is impossible.

July 02, 2004

Some Things You Have To Find Out For Yourself

Now, although I don't believe that Oswald acted alone, I generally don't go for conspiracy theories. Having said that, I may be changing my mind about one.

I had been hearing rumors on the net that people were having trouble finding the book Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, by David Hardy and Jason Clarke.
"Seem to be some, well, obstructionism by store staff. Report from Tucson that person called store, was told they didn't stock it, wouldhave to be special ordered, would take eight days. Person went to store and found large quanities on shelf."

I tend to take any extremism with a grain of salt, and I put this down to somebody who had some bad luck, or ran into the wrong salesperson, and jumped to a conclusion. Granted, there are seven or eight more similar tales of woe, but still...

Since I was planning on doing a little shopping, I thought I'd give it a little test of my own. So I strolled into my local Border's, confident that I would have no problems, and walked right over to the new releases.

Hmmm...Bill Clinton's book. Okay, big seller. The DaVinci Code...figured that. The South Beach Diet...really ought to read that copy I bought. Well, I'm sure it's here somewhere. After all, last I checked, it was up to the number four bestseller spot on Amazon.

Let's see...Hillary's book, Richard Clarke's book...should be around here somewhere. Oh, hey--there it is! No, wait...that's a book BY Michael Moore. Uh...another book by him. That's really an old one, what's that doing in the new release section? Especially in the nonfiction section. Hahahahahahahaha!

Well, needless to say, it wasn't anywhere in the new releases section. I chewed on that one on my way back to the Politics section. Maybe they're sold out, I thought. But deep down, I didn't really believe it. I ran into a nice endcap display with all sorts of political books they were advertising. Another book by Moore. A lot about George Bush, some apparently critical, some not. Still no Big Fat Stupid White Guy.

I finally found it on the shelf. Two copies. And there was no shelf space there, so I'm guessing they hadn't already sold a bunch. Thoroughly intrigued, I went to the information desk and asked the lady behind the counter if they had the book.

I got a little look. "It's not out yet," she said.
"I'm pretty sure it is," I replied.
"No, I don't think so."
"Well, actually, I know it is. I found two on the shelf. But I had heard rumors that bookstores weren't really promoting it. I thought that there might be a display somewhere in the store that I hadn't seen."
She began to look nervous, and a little wary. "Uh...I don't know anything about that."
"But there isn't one?"
"That's a little surprising, don't you think? I would have thought that there would be a couple of copies in the new releases."
"Well...I don't really know anything about that."
"But you ARE working in information?"
I just nod...I'll let it stand. "Okay," I say. "I think I'll buy it. Now I see that bestsellers get 30% off. Is that correct?"
She tell me that it's only what Borders considers bestsellers, not, say, the NY Times.
"Well," I add hopefully, "it's number 4 on Amazon.com."
"That has nothing to with us," she says. (remember this...)

I tell her that I know I'll get a discount with Amazon, so I'm going to buy it from them. Relieved, she gives me an "okay," and goes off to help someone else like she heard a cry for help with some kind of super hearing.

Even after all that, I still wasn't convinced. Until I got home and on a lark, typed in what I assumed was the web site for Borders, www.borders.com.

I won't even tell you what I got. Try it for yourself.