Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Bush and Blair at NATO summit

Whatcha been smokin', Tony?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

They're Losing It

To: Maureen Dowd
Subject: Are They Losing It?

You've written a masterpiece this time.

There might be more to the question of why they're losing it so completely now. I think the answer is Fahrenheit 9/11. The Bushies have always relied on the fact that only a very small percentage of the electorate can read and understand...something like your column.

I saw the movie on Friday afternoon. Cheney et al. are really afraid of it because it's something a gorilla could understand.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

My Suspicions Confirmed

According to CNN, Wonkette, and the Australian press, it was the "F-word":

Cheney utters F-word in US Senate

No Regrets

I just got to page 13 of this morning's LA Times. In the right column, second item under IN BRIEF, is this:

Cheney Has No Regrets About Cursing Senator

Vice President Dick Cheney said in Sioux City he had no regrets about a bitter exchange with Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy in which the vice president used an obscenity.

During a conversation Tuesday on the floor of the Senate, Cheney told Leahy, "Go ... yourself," according to congressional aides.

Asked in Sioux City during a Midwest campaign swing if he cursed the Vermont senator, Cheney said "probably." But he said "no" when asked whether he regretted it.

"I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it," Cheney said in an interview on cable's Fox News Channel.

This must be unprecedented. The Vice President of the United States, on the floor of the Senate, said to a US Senator, "Go fuck yourself."

(I know I wrote earlier that I didn't intend to post any obscenities here...changed my mind.)

Wait a minute. Maybe he only said, "Go screw yourself." That would be OK, I guess... if someone who was there lets me know I'll correct my mistake.

Get a REAL job!

To: letters@latimes.com
Subject: Former CIA Agent Looks for Financial Links to Hussein

Propping up a puppet regime just isn't as easy as it used to be. But wait—maybe that makes it even more profitable.

And you kids in the ghetto who can't get a job that pays a living wage—train to guard an Iraqi official!

Friday, June 25, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

Last week I wrote that I had gotten a reply from a columnist, but didn't name him. Doesn't matter any more, here it is:

Sent: Saturday, June 19, 2004 6:40 AM
To: Vicky X-X
Subject: RE: So far, Bush's loyalties outweigh VP's liabilities

Dear Ms. X-X: You should go to a few weepy movies, if you find yourself crying over newspaper columns about Dick Cheney. Seriously, I really appreciate the kind words and your taking the time to write. Best regards. Walter Shapiro

I laughed when I read that. The last movie that made me cry was probably Bambi, and I was probably five or six at the time.

Until today. My husband and I just got home from the 1:00PM showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 at the AMC 14 on Santa Monica Blvd. (Last weekend I had won the door prize at my school staff's annual end-of-the-year party for answering the question What has four i's but can't see?--a $16 AMC certificate--so we didn't even have to pay. That may not sound like a big deal, but John had recently sworn he would never go there again, and only the free tickets made him persuadable.) Everything was heightened--people were lined up for miles trying to get into Bill Clinton's book-signing at Brentano's, just a few feet from the movie ticket windows. Reporters were interviewing an old lady in a wheelchair who was at the head of the line, and had probably been there all night.

But I don't really care much about Clinton, even if TIME does print my predictions for his funeral. Back to 9/11.

The part of our brains that responds to images is much older than the part that responds to language. Everybody understands the implications of this on some level. But never in my life has something not directly personal hit me like this movie. Forget "I laughed, I cried..." At one point the person on my right, a Jewish kid about 19 and a total stranger to me, said, "Are you OK?" I tried to nod gamely. And then, a little later, I started to stand up because the urge to scream was getting hard to control. Instead, I put my head on my knees and closed my eyes.

Although there was nothing in the film that surprised me, or was new to me, I wasn't prepared for the emotional impact of seeing it all--on a big screen.

Bye-bye, Mr. Bush. Have fun "clearing brush" on your Texas ranch for the rest of your life.

Bush-haters?

To: editor@usatoday.com
Subject: One take: New film 'will turn Bush-haters into bigger Bush-haters'

Although I hope and pray that President Bush will not be re-elected in November, I don't hate him. He's a nice man. Teaching second grade would be a far more appropriate job for him than that of President of the United States.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Re: Rumsfeld

I'm having nagging feelings about what I wrote yesterday. Need for clarification. Holding prisoners at Guántanamo indefinitely, without access to legal counsel and without charging them with a crime, is completely indefensible. Claiming that they are not on "American soil" is so shabby that...well, I don't plan to put anything obscene here, so fill in the blanks yourself.

All I really meant, in yesterday's post, was that I had assumed that Guántanamo was like Dachau, and now I've changed my mind about that.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Rumsfeld OK'd harsh treatment

Was I wrong about Donald Rumsfeld? It looks like I was: USATODAY.com - Rumsfeld OK'd harsh treatment. Although the headline makes him look bad, the story doesn't. The "stress position" in question was standing?

Rumsfeld rejected the following: "exposure to cold weather or water; use of a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation; and the use of scenarios designed to convince a detainee that death or severely painful consequences were imminent for him and/or his family." The interrogation techniques he approved don't remotely resemble torture.

I'd assumed the prisoners at Guantánamo were being kept in dark cells too small to stand up in for months at a time. About a week ago I said to my husband, "Rumsfeld likes classical music." He replied, "So did Hitler; so did most of the Nazis."

When people have no reason to trust you, or believe anything you say, secrecy is a bad idea.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Magical Fruit

My father's name was Bill Bowles, and he grew up during the Great Depression in Blaine, Washington. In honor of his memory, here are two of his favorite inane jokes:

Eat every bean and pea on your plate.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit--
The more you eat the more you toot,
The more you toot the better you feel,
So let's have beans for every meal!

And then there was the story about the dog at the movies...

Citizen Clinton

Yesterday I was so busy making obsessive corrections of minor source-code errors that I didn't read the papers until 2AM--and nothing in them upset me much. This morning, though, I read Time's cover story, TIME Magazine Citizen Clinton, and sent this to
letters@time.com
:

The "noxious '90's," "for which not many people are nostalgic"?—this is a clear example of getting carried away by one's own powers of alliteration. Everybody I know is nostalgic for the '90's. But I suppose we don't count...we're in the LA ghetto, and probably not the sort of people Mr. Klein talks to.

His last paragraph seems to say that Clinton made a big mistake in being "so candid about his demons." Don't we all have our demons, and isn't the way we choose to confront them a measure of our character?

But Klein demands punishment for Clinton's candor (read "weakness"); his problem is how to punish a man who can't run for President again. Solution: deny him a big funeral.

I've got news for you, Mr. Klein. When Bill Clinton dies the streets of Washington, D.C. will be thronged with weeping, and praying, mourners. But it won't be like Reagan's funeral procession. Many of those mourners will be people who actually live in Washington, D.C.

Black people.

XX, kindergarten teacher
XXX etc.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Dear Maureen

Yesterday I got a friendly reply from a columnist (sorry, no name, it's too important). Either the times they are achangin' or I'm getting better. Probably the first, thank gods. Of course I want to get better too, but only a hopeless egotist can put his/her personal glory ahead of the times in THESE times.

This morning I wrote two letters. The first one in response to Maureen Dowd's Because They Could in the NY Times:

Dear Ms. Dowd,

I admire your brain, agree with almost everything you write, and after the Supreme Court awarded Bush the presidency attached your column about it to my refrigerator door with a magnet.

But please. "Sleeping on the couch" is a metaphor.

And then, after reading An Important U.S. Asset in Pacifying Iraq: Battle Veterans Barely Out of Their Teens I wrote this--which was carefully crafted to really be printable:

You report that Sgt. First Class Reginald Butler said, after a battle in Sadr City in which four of his soldiers were killed and 34 wounded, "Men came in to me crying. They said, ‘Sergeant, I ain’t going back out there.’ I told them, ‘I know it’s hard; I know you seen your friends die, but we got to go back out and keep fighting.’ "

Twenty years and thirty years ago the hands of these boys were much smaller, and they were learning to hold a pencil, not a gun. I was one of the people guiding their hands.

In the name of God, can’t anybody stop this?

XX, kindergarten teacher
XXXth Street Elementary School
XXX X. XXXth Street
Los Angeles, CA 900XX
323-XXX-XXXX

I know, it sounds sappy--but hey, it's a country that loves sappy.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Applet from the teacher

Spent the whole day yesterday on a little piece of java, my kids would say it's tight, and I think so too: Alternative Advertising.

Inconsistency

It will be obvious to anybody with half a brain that tracking down my identity from what I've already written here would take less than a minute. I'm not worried, because doing that would require a completely unprecedented--and unlikely--interest in me. There are really only two dangers that I can see:

1) Losing my job and pension.
Highly unlikely, because most of the people I work with don't even know what a blog is. (Besides, my principal, the only person at the school capable of finding out, is hot for me.)

2) Getting killed by somebody hired by Donald Rumsfeld.
Equally unlikely, only because there's safety in numbers. There are just too many other people saying the same things...

First Time

I'd never thought about having a blog of my own until a few weeks ago, probably because I have a website and can put anything I want to on it any time I feel like it. But the website is about...other things...and I guard its PageRank with jealous vigilance. The Googlebot might get confused if my private ramblings turned up on its pages, and I certainly don't want that.

Besides, sentences and paragraphs have been forming in my mind at an overwhelming--and accelerating--rate lately. I send emails to journalists and editors almost every day, and the only ones that get printed are the calm, responsible ones from the part of me that teaches kindergarten in the LA ghetto. No, I take that back: the LA Times did print this one on April 8:

It is a distortion to describe what is beginning now in Iraq as "civil war." History teaches us that nations occupied by foreign powers do not engage in civil war. First they unite to drive out the invader. Then they have their civil war.

But letters like this one....

Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 8:38 AM
To: 'editor@usatoday.com'
Subject: U.S. Unlikely to Hand Over Saddam Soon

I am omitting my address and phone numbers from this message (they can be easily found on my website) because I don’t want it considered for publication. It is a direct statement to you, as honest as I can make it.

Saddam Hussein is not an evil man; Donald Rumsfeld is. I have spent many hours looking for independent, verifiable evidence of Saddam’s alleged monstrosity—and found nothing even remotely comparable with what the US has done in Iraq. All the stories have come from Chalabi and his people—the same ones who assured us about the continued presence of weapons of mass destruction. Torture of prisoners? Yes, but pretty mild. Tying the hands of prisoners behind their backs and hanging them from hooks for hours at Abu Ghraib prison, yes. The same hooks have been used in exactly the same way under the US “liberation.” “Gassing his own people”? It was a civil war. Every national leader uses force to put down an armed rebellion. And I’m sure you know where that gas came from: made in the USA.

The last book Saddam wrote was a romantic novel. His favorite song is “Strangers in the Night.” For decades he had a bleached-blonde Greek-born girlfriend, whose most shocking revelation about him, from the safety of Western Europe, was…that sometimes he took Viagra.

Independent journalists who talk to ordinary Iraqis report that even those who were opposed to Saddam miss him now. President Bush is now saying that he (Saddam) won’t be released anytime soon because he knows that if that happened there would be a great celebration in Iraq, and people really would be throwing flowers.

Colin Powell is a good man trapped in an impossible situation. Paul Wolfowitz is a misguided zealot. Dick Cheney hasn’t always been a bad guy, but he has changed. (How many people know that his wife Lynne once wrote a lesbian novel? The writing is outrageously, comically bad, but the vision of two daughters of Sappho walking hand-in-hand into the sunset is obviously heartfelt. My husband said, “If I were married to Dick Cheney I’d have lesbian fantasies too.”) President Bush is a recovering alcoholic, and anybody who has been to a single AA meeting (Ringo Starr gave me my chip for five years of sobriety), knows that alcoholics never stop being weak and vulnerable people, however much they may try to appear otherwise.

But Donald Rumsfeld? He is an evil man.