Sunday, September 7, 2008

Best of 2005: September

I was going to try to catch up, but I have decided to maintain a permanent three-year lag. So here are the best postings from my personal newsletter from September 2005: * * * * * Steven Wright Lines It doesn't matter what temperature the room is, it's always room temperature. I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it. The other night I came home late, and tried to unlock my house with my car keys. The whole house started up. So, I drove it around for a while. I was speeding, and a cop pulled me over. He asked where I lived. I said, "Right here, officer." Every so often, I like to go to the window, look up, and smile for a satellite picture. If I ever have twins, I'd use one for parts. It's not an optical illusion. It just looks like one. The speed of time is one second per second. I was once arrested for resisting arrest. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "If an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR". What's my mother going to do? When I have a kid, I want to buy one of those strollers for twins. Then put the kid in and run around, looking frantic. I went to the hardware store to buy some batteries, but they weren't included, so I had to buy them again. I had a friend who was a clown. When he died, all his friends went to the funeral in one car. I once put instant coffee in a microwave and went back in time. I got a dog and named him 'Stay'. Then I would say "Come here, Stay!" After a while the dog went insane and wouldn't move at all. * * * * * Michael Moore to President Bush Dear Mr. Bush: Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag. Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. . . . On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. . . . You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit. Yours, Michael Moore * * * * * Late-Night Political News from "The terrorists now are sneaking into this country disguised as fishermen. But Homeland Security is right on top of this. They're way ahead of the curve on this. They're distributing to every bait shop pictures of Osama bin Laden. The terrorists are disguised as fishermen, so they raised the terror alert, the color was changed from yellow to salmon" --David Letterman "Hurricane Katrina looked like it was bad in Florida the other day. Law enforcement officials went around telling people to stay in their homes, and black people thought it was election day." --Bill Maher "Michael Brown, the director of FEMA, was nominated by President Bush in 2003 and plans to start the job any day now. ... Prior to heading FEMA, Brown spent the 90's as a commissioner -- this is true -- of the International Arabian Horse Association. I guess he stands out because most Bush appointees are beholden to Arabian PEOPLE." --Jon Stewart "Many Americans are calling on President Bush to fire the head of FEMA Michael Brown because of the slow response to the crisis. Unforuantely, due to the red tape, firing Brown will take 6 to 8 months." --Conan O'Brien "President Bush sent Vice President Dick Cheney to New Orleans. Is that what they need down there? Another person requiring emergency medical help?" --Jay Leno "Gas stations are getting cocky. The service station by my house, instead of the price on that board, they just have a hand giving you the finger." --Jay Leno "I used to work at a bar ... and there was a fat guy there. And he just sat there drinking and being fat. And one day someone tried to break into his car in the parking lot ... and he got up and ran out there and beat two people with a tire iron. And I remember thinking 'shit, that guy can move, I had no idea' ... That's how I feel about the media." --Jon Stewart on the media's coverage of Hurricane Katrina "Although, to his credit, President Bush did respond quickly and he did send troops as soon as he found out Louisiana had oil." --Jay Leno "He could have started planning on Saturday when the radar showed that a hurricane was going to hit the city, but Bush thinks that the jury is still out on weather forecasting." --Bill Maher "There's one big difference between George Bush and Marie Antoinette, and that is when Marie Antoinette said 'Let them eat cake,' they had cake." --Bill Maher "Now here's some sad information coming out of Washington. According to reports, President Bush may be drinking again. And I thought, 'Well, why not? He's got everybody else drinking.'" --David Letterman "We also have sad news coming out of Iraq. According to reports, Iraqi officials have embezzled $1.2 billion in Pentagon money. $1.2 billion. And Halliburton, when they heard about this, they said hey! Hey! We were going to embezzle that money. That's our money." --David Letterman "It was announced today that the FBI is recruiting agents for an anti-obscenity task force. The FBI said they'll divert agents from other areas to fight a war on pornography, or as President Bush is calling them, weapons of mass erections. Let me ask you something. A war on pornography? Did I miss something? Did we catch bin Laden?" --Jay Leno "North Korea has vowed to keep its weapons until Washington gave it a nuclear reactor. Now I understand that Kim Jong Il enjoys Western entertainment, so, on the off chance that he may be watching this program, I would like to take a moment to address the dear leader. ... Listen f---head, you got the Bush administration to promise not to attack you. Don't blow that. Mexico can't even get that. Every morning, Canadians check the map to make sure we didn't move the border on them overnight." --Jon Stewart "But Hurricane Rita, I mean, that doesn't sound powerful. Even Katrina, you see what I'm saying? We need hurricane names that let you know how unpredictable and dangerous they are. Like Hurricane Courtney Love." --Jay Leno "Yesterday, the federal government asked people not to return to the city of New Orleans because it's still not safe. Yeah, then the federal government said the same thing to the people of Detroit, Cleveland and Newark." --Conan O'Brien "Did you see the speech? President Bush spoke from Jackson Square in New Orleans. It wasn't his first choice for a backdrop, but the water wasn't quite deep enough for the aircraft carrier." --Bill Maher "It was an interesting birth. Her water broke and it took FEMA three days to respond." --Bill Maher, on Britney Spears' baby "Today a Texas grand jury indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme. This is the most embarrassing thing to happen to the Republicans since yesterday." --Jay Leno "Remember when Republicans, like Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, when they got in trouble it was for sex scandals? See Tom DeLay is in trouble for money. Or as Republicans would call it -- this is a return to traditional values." --Jay Leno "Because of all the fuel shortages, President Bush asked all Americans to cut back on unnecessary travel. You know, like trips to Iraq." --Jay Leno "Cindy Sheehan, she is the mother who was demonstrating in Texas. She was arrested at the White House for sitting down, doing nothing, and refusing to move. You know, if that's the criteria, they should arrest all those White House energy advisers." --Jay Leno "In an announcement today President Bush said all federal workers should travel less to save fuel. He decided on this in Texas, right before he flew to Colorado, then back to Washington to prepare for tomorrow's trip back to Texas." --Jay Leno "The other event that has people on edge this weekend, Vice President Cheney will undergo surgery for an aneurysm, and while he is under anesthetic, a man named George Bush will be in charge." --Bill Maher "Welcome to our 3000th show tonight. I was thinking about that. We did our first show in May of 1992; a man named George Bush was president, his approval rating was only 39%. And someone named Clinton wanted to replace him in the White House. So nothing has changed really." --Jay Leno "Big summit at the U.N., and President Bush warned the president of Syria to stop letting terrorists into Iraq. And then the president of Syria warned Bush to start paying attention to natural disasters." --David Letterman "According to the Washington Post, 5 out of the top 8 FEMA officials got their jobs with no experience handling disasters, and many got their jobs just cause they worked on the Bush campaign. See, this is wrong. If you want people experienced in handling disasters, get people who worked on the Gore campaign." --Jay Leno "A Mexican army convoy crossed over the border this week to give us aid and water. Boy, you know your country's in trouble when the Mexicans are bringing you drinkable water." --Bill Maher * * * * * Bill Maher's Closing Words Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished. Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes. On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.'" * * * * * Clippings After declining sharply under Bill Clinton, the number of poor people has now risen 17 percent under Mr. Bush. ... An African-American baby in Washington D.C. has less chance of surviving its first year than a baby born in urban parts of the state of Kerala in India. ... Under Mr. Bush, the national infant mortality rate has risen for the first time since 1958. Nothing quite matches the performance of the plain-tailed wren of Ecuador and Peru, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of the avian world. Biologists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland report that groups of the birds sing four-part songs, the males and females trading phrases with split-second timing for up to two minutes. Catholic cultures are based on the passionate quest for spiritual perfection, Dawson writes, unlike the "bourgeois" culture of the United States, which, shaped by Protestantism and based on practical reason, gives priority to economic concerns. As one senior Vatican official put it to me some time ago, "Law describes the way things would work if men were angels." KIDNEY COVE, Falkland Islands (Reuters) -- There's a mating ritual going on in the minefield. Fortunately the would-be lovers are penguins, too light to detonate the deadly mines laid more than two decades ago during a war on the far-flung Falkland Islands. ... Conservationists cannot hide their enthusiasm about this unorthodox form of protecting lands previously trampled by people or overgrazed by sheep. When we're awake, different parts of the brain use chemicals and nerve cells to communicate constantly across the entire network, similar to the perpetual flow of data between all the different computers, routers and servers that make up the Internet. In the deepest part of sleep, however, the various nodes of your cranial Internet all lose their connections. "The brain breaks down into little islands that can't talk to one another," said study leader Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. * * * * * Websites of Note The Sick Falling Website: You can spin her with your mouse Wordcount: Find out which words are most frequently used, and how frequently your word is used. Iraq War Cost Counter: Also provides alternatives for what we could have done with the money. After the Love Is Gone: excellent Nora Ephron essay on you-know-who. * * * * * Notable Hurricane Katrina Quotes "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." –Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the Hurricane flood evacuees in the Houston Astrodome, Sept. 5, 2005 "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is — and it's hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) —President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005 "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." –President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring Hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005 "I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, on NPR's "All Things Considered," Sept. 1, 2005 "What didn't go right?'" --President George W. Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort "I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school." –First Lady Laura Bush, twice referring to a "Hurricane Corina" while speaking to children and parents in South Haven, Mississippi, Sept. 8, 2005 "Last night, we showed you the full force of a superpower government going to the rescue." –MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Sept. 1, 2005 "We just learned of the convention center – we being the federal government – today." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded " Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today." "I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That's just not happening." -Bill Lokey, FEMA's New Orleans coordinator, in a press briefing from Baton Rouge, Aug. 30, 2005 "I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It's terrible. It's tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen." --GOP strategist Jack Burkman, on MSNBC's "Connected," Sept. 7, 2005 "I don't know if you've heard – maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating." –Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Aug. 31, 2005, to which Anderson Cooper responded: "I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap – you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here?" * * * * * Borowitz Report Breaking News ROBERTS APPEARS AT CONFIRMATION HEARINGS DRESSED AS MIME Nominee's Silent Treatment Steams Democrats Further frustrating the efforts of Democratic senators to pin him down on such hot-button issues as abortion and the right to privacy, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts turned up at his confirmation hearings today dressed as a street mime, showing every intention of remaining totally silent for the remainder of his testimony. Senators and observers alike seemed taken aback as Judge Roberts entered the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room wearing a striped jersey, red suspenders, white makeup and bright red lipstick, and proceeded to perform a pantomime in which he appeared to be struggling with a willful dog on a leash. When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass) asked Judge Roberts to explain his position on the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, the taciturn judge thrust forward the palms of his hands and pretended to be creating an invisible wall in front of him, making it impossible for him to hear the senator's question. Sen. Kennedy later expressed astonishment at the nominee's extraordinary performance, telling reporters, "That's just about the weirdest thing I've ever seen - sober, that is." But Republicans reacted more favorably to Judge Roberts' mime routine, many of them stopping to tip him on the way out. "Finally, someone connected to the Administration knows how to keep his trap shut," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn). "If only some of that would rub off on Barbara Bush." Elsewhere, President Bush said that he "took great interest" in a DVD about Hurricane Katrina prepared for him by his staff, but added, "The part where FEMA responded was a little slow." * * * * * Video of the Month Presidential Speechalist Still pretty funny