Monday, May 14, 2007

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

"All right, have it your way -- you heard a seal bark."
When James Thurber died in November 1961, I had just turned 22 years old, and I felt as if a large part of my world had gone with him. Probably it's difficult for readers today to understand just how much Thurber meant to readers then, even though many of his books are still in print and enjoy respectable sales. Thurber in my youth wasn't something you went to the bookstore for -- though of course you could -- but something that came in the mail almost every week, as regular and reliable as the clocks of Columbus, Ohio, which he wrote about in the pages of the New Yorker.

. . . "My Life and Hard Times" was published in book form in 1933, when Thurber was one year shy of his 40th birthday. He had firmly established himself as a writer "of light pieces running from a thousand to two thousand words," and firmly denied that "such persons are gay of heart and carefree." No, he said: "They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats. Afraid of losing themselves in the larger flight of the two-volume novel, or even the one-volume novel, they stick to short accounts of their misadventures because they never get so deep into them but that they feel they can get out."

Thurber then proceeded to disprove every syllable of that by writing a book that, though barely over 20,000 words, comes far closer to Literature and Life than all but a handful of other American memoirs, and into the bargain has something that no other memoirist can offer: drawings, in abundance, by James Thurber.

Under the unwritten and somewhat eccentric rules of American public discourse, a statement that contradicts everything you have ever said before is considered for that reason to be especially sincere, courageous and dependable.

Speaking of mature and honest public dialogue, I wonder if it would be possible for anti-choice conservatives to address the reality that, even in countries where abortion is illegal and there are strong cultural disincentives surrounding women’s autonomous choice regarding reproduction, women still get abortions, though in unsafe and often fatal conditions. And I wonder further if they could acknowledge that used to be the reality in this country pre-Roe and would be again in a post-Roe world. And, lastly, I wonder if they could then admit at long last that they simply don’t care if women who want abortions die in the process of getting them, so we can put this whole "pro-life" bullshit to bed once and for all.


Prime Minister Tony Blair of England just announced that he will step down next month, which means President Bush will lose his closest foreign ally. Bush was sad and said, “Now the only foreign leader I can trust is Arnold Schwarzenneger.


We might ask why Virginia’s Legislature has decided to protect some of its shadier gun dealers from being unmasked. But, unfortunately, we already know the answer: more craven service to the all-powerful gun lobby.

The most recent toadying is an effort to block Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s inventive sting operation against illegal guns flooding New York. Virginia dealers are among the most notorious suppliers in the nation’s “Iron Pipeline” of illicit gunrunning, and six have been cited in the city’s federal court suit to force dealers to obey the law.

But the Virginia Legislature has tailored a new law to try to stop New York City’s use of private investigators who pose as shoppers and videotape illegal gun purchases. As of July, the investigators must be accompanied by state or federal police officers or face a felony prosecution.

It is bizarre to see Virginia’s attorney general formally warn Mayor Bloomberg against further investigations, as if he had violated some gentleman’s dueling code. The mayor took action only after watching Congress, the Bush administration and statehouses cower before the gun lobby.

We didn't get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party.

By my rough, conservative calculation -- feel free to add -- there have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these cabinet departments: Defense, Education, Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. I am not counting State, whose deputy secretary, a champion of abstinence-based international AIDS funding, resigned last month in a prostitution scandal, or the General Services Administration, now being investigated for possibly steering federal favors to Republican Congressional candidates in 2006. Or the Office of Management and Budget, whose chief procurement officer was sentenced to prison in the Abramoff fallout. I will, however, toss in a figure that reveals the sheer depth of the overall malfeasance: no fewer than four inspectors general, the official watchdogs charged with investigating improprieties in each department, are themselves under investigation simultaneously -- an all-time record.

Wrongdoing of this magnitude does not happen by accident, but it is not necessarily instigated by a Watergate-style criminal conspiracy. When corruption is this pervasive, it can also be a byproduct of a governing philosophy. That's the case here. That Bush-Rove style of governance, the common denominator of all the administration scandals, is the Frankenstein creature that stalks the G.O.P. as it faces 2008. It has become the Republican brand and will remain so, even after this president goes, until courageous Republicans disown it and eradicate it.


Iraqis on the ground are increasingly doing well but Iraqis at the top are screwing up.

War has displaced millions in Iraq, creating the largest refugee problem in the Middle East since 1948. As they flee their country, are they taking the war with them?

[John] McCain thinks he can go for an unescorted walk in Baghdad? It's as if he's given up on being taken seriously altogether.

When a once-proud man becomes a joke, it's a sad thing to watch.


A top Taliban commander -- a man described by one Afghan official as a "killer of killers" responsible for the terror outfit's day-to-day operations -- is dead, NATO said Sunday.

NATO's International Security Assistance Forces confirmed earlier reports by the Afghan government that Mullah Dadullah was killed in southern Afghanistan.

-- CNN

While our "serious" Beltway pundits and journalists have been endlessly obsessing about such vital issues as John Edwards hair, you have to go to the foreign press for such trivial matters as the state of affairs in Pakistan, which is about to explode.

So I was standing in line at the grocery store reading something uplifting when I noticed the cover of this week's Star magazine. Paris Hilton to face lesbian gangs, group showers, strip searches, and filthy bedding. It couldn't happen to a nicer person, of course, but does anybody really think Paris is going to do hard time?


Budweiser does not taste like piss. Normal urine has a pH of 4.6 to 8.0. Budweiser, like most lagers, has a pH of around 4.0. Therefore, Budweiser is definitely more acidic than piss. It’s also just the ticket if you happen to be drinking beer for breakfast, as the fresh taste of the rice content goes particularly well with most cereals (it is not coincidental that nobody has yet marketed Barley Krispies).

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