You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

July 24, 2006

We're Making Real Progress!

Here's the famous story of George Packer's from March 2, 2003:

Bush is a man who has never shown much curiosity about the world. When he met with [Kanan] Makiya and two other Iraqis in January, I was told by someone not present, the exiles spent a good portion of the time explaining to the president that there are two kinds of Arabs in Iraq, Sunnis and Shiites.

Now, here's a Newsweek story about the recent G-8 Summit:

[Bush, Blair and Chirac] quickly agree on how to proceed against Hizbullah, while keeping the pressure on Syria and Iran. "Chirac was very strong in recognizing that Hizbullah and Syria and Iran are part of the Shia arc in the Middle East," Bush says later.

You see, he's learning! True, according to the CIA Factbook, Syria is 74% Sunni, 16% Alawite, Druze, and other Muslim sects, and 10% Christian. So Bush doesn't know who or where different kinds of Muslims are. But still, after a brief 5 years of our "war on terror," he has learned they exist!

This is exactly the kind of effort that should be praised in three year-olds and the president of the United States. Yes: Russia is big and China is big. That's very, very good. Tomorrow, we will move onto tying your shoes.

Posted at July 24, 2006 08:19 AM | TrackBack

That is, assuming that both have learned the difference between pee-pee and poo-poo.

Then we can move on to "acceptable but regrettable" vs. "they support terrorists so they had it coming" civilian casualties.

Posted by: Rob Weisberg at July 24, 2006 09:52 AM

I'm just curious if the moron could identify any of these countries on a world map without names. I'd bet the farm he can't.

Posted by: SPIIDERWEB™ at July 24, 2006 10:06 AM

His apparent ignorance is further proof that the little guy can make good. All the pointy headed experts in the world, and all the smarty pants critics who call the poor fellow a chimp, can't keep a determined man down. Sure, they tried. They tried to steal the election twice, and they'll do it again. They tried to hand the country over to Saddam bin Laden. But they couldn't sneak a thing past Ole Bushie. Cuz he's street smart, see? His struggle to get where he is today developed his natural cunning.

Posted by: J. Alva Scruggs at July 24, 2006 01:06 PM

As has been pointed out to me, is there any danger that we will soon be publishing maps without names?

Posted by: alexis S at July 24, 2006 01:53 PM

Reluctantly, because who wants to be in the position of defending the idiot king...

Might Bush have been basing his statement on the fact that the regime in Syria, though secular, is dominated by Shia who are a minority in the country (15%, vs 70% Sunni)?

The ideological differences between the secular Syrian Ba'ath Party and the hyperfundamentalist religious rulers of Iran make it ridiculous to talk of a 'Shia arc', but Assad and the powers that be in Syria are Shia.

Posted by: Nell at July 24, 2006 03:25 PM

Alawite = the Shia sect to which Assad and senior Baath Party leaders belong. Very different, I'm assuming, from Shia in Iraq and Iran.

And, yes, Bush has the comprehensive grasp of geopolitical subtleties of a six-year-old. It's sad, embarrassing, but most of all terrifying.

Posted by: Nell at July 24, 2006 03:32 PM

My impression is also that the Shia are culturally dominant in Syria, to an extent belied by their numbers. I'm afraid this is based more on Pico Iyer's Novel, Abandon, than anything else, but Iyer is a journalist by trade and famous for researching these things meticulously. The Damascus section was based on his travels, and I even had a little conversation with him about Shia mysticism (based on the reading from the scenes in Damascus) when I got my copy of the book signed. (Which, incidentally, was on the night the bombing in Iraq started.)

Posted by: Saheli at July 24, 2006 04:42 PM

wikipedia sez:

"a group called the Alawis (which is primarily located in Syria and Lebanon) claimed to be Shi'a and took an extreme view of Ali, holding him as God on earth (similar to the Druze holding Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah as God on earth). Since Shi'as denounced Alawis, Alawis broke apart and developed their own sect."


"Alawites today claim to be Twelver Shi'ites, but traditionally they have been designated as 'extremists' and outside the bounds of Islam by the Muslim mainstream for their high level of devotion to Ali ibn Abi Talib."


"Today, most Alawites know only the tenets of Sunni Islam because they are taught them in mandatory religion classes from first grade through twelfth grade. Syrian school texts do not mention the word Alawite, nor do they refer to diversity of belief and practice in Islam. Although Alawites know they are different from Sunnis, they don't know exactly how. Most will tell you about the popular religious ceremonies their families engage in, which include annual visits to saints' shrines, the sacrificing of sheep, and wearing of talismans."

So they're Shi'a, except most Shi'a don't think of them as Shi'a, and they have largely assimilated into Sunni cultural practice and doctrine, under a secular state. Truly Syria must be the very backbone of the Shi'a arc.

Posted by: buermann at July 24, 2006 05:50 PM

I'm hardly an expert on the different branches of Islam, but my understanding is that while Alawites are technically Shiites, they're barely considered Muslims by most Muslims. They're somewhat like the Druze in that sense.

So, calling Iran and Syria part of the "Shia arc" would be like calling a country of Baptists and a country that's majority Catholic but dominated by Mormons part of the "Protestant arc."

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at July 24, 2006 05:56 PM

Shia arc? Did he mean the "crusading Shia arc?"

What's my point?

My point is that arc is taken (hello Joan-of), crusading is taken. This is all Vaticanspeak, fellows!

Instead of crusading Shia arc, let me suggest "buttery shia crescent"?

How about that, Mr Bush? How about a nice buttery shia crescent with your diet coke this morning?

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at July 24, 2006 06:34 PM

Hmm, nothing is more fun than a good Bush bash. Here is an odd twist Arlen Specter wants to sue our prehensile prez.

"A powerful Republican committee chairman who has led the fight against President Bush's signing statements said Monday he would have a bill ready by the end of the week allowing Congress to sue him in federal court.

"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor...

...Bush has issued at least 750 signing statements during his presidency, reserving the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds."�

My gosh, those pesky little signing statements have gotten even the republicans worked up into a lather.

But fear not for our fearless one for Sir Tony Snow Job defends our prehensile prez like the knights of old defended the kingdom.

"A great many of those signing statements may have little statements about questions about constitutionality," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "It never says, 'We're not going to enact the law.'"

Thank you Tony of the forked tongue for that insightful insight. Of course it never says they are going to enact the law because they never do. What law? What constitution? I almost forgot we had one of those not that that ever got in the way of Bush and his signing statements.

Posted by: rob payne at July 24, 2006 11:32 PM

A fly on the wall at the Oval Office heard the following conversation.

CIA Agent: "Here's your Big Book of Information, Mr. President."

Prez: "It's big, all right! And so's China! And Russia! And Chirac sez Hizbullah Wheaties is purty big, too! And what're these here desert people gripin' about all the time fer, anyway? I mean, Shi-ite! They're all Muslims and it's always a Sunni day!"

CIA Agent: "Anything you say, Mr. President."

Posted by: americanintifada at July 25, 2006 12:01 AM


Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at July 25, 2006 08:58 PM

Sure, Jonathan, if it's comment you want, comment you'll get!

As I sit in my office and listen to the Lear jets fly overhead every half hour on their way to Charles Schulz airport/Bohemian Grove 24 hours a day for the last two weeks, (all of them violating air traffic regulations that even the commercial jets and smaller planes must obey or be banned from said airport) I ponder our Oval Office 3-year-old learning to tie his shoes before getting instructions from his daddy regarding global policies being decided upon right now and continuing all the way until Sunday.

Colin Powell was the guest speaker over the past weekend and quite the crowd-pleaser, I'm sure, since he's the type of bootlicker most preferred by the monied ruling class. Bohemians love their privacy and that's why they meet out here in rural seclusion. My nearest neighbor is a hot-shot attorney who asked me to watch his property over said two weeks. "I'm going out to Monte Rio" he says, to which I replied "Bohemian Grove, eh?" to which he replied "You know, there's nothing sinister going on. It's all just a bunch of businessmen blowing off steam.... blah, blah, blah..." Funny thing is that I never brought up anything other than the Grove itself, yet he felt he had to explain in detail what wasn't going to happen out there. All of this from an attorney who is usually mum about everything. Go figure!

In our oligarchy it doesn't matter how much one knows, but how much one owns, and these people own the world. That's my boring comment and I prefer to see the world through sarcastic commentary, so I'm going back making jokes. After all, this is 'a tiny revolution' isn't it?

Posted by: americanintifada at July 25, 2006 11:51 PM


"In our oligarchy it doesn't matter how much one knows, but how much one owns, and these people own the world."

I think there is much truth to that statement as it reminds me of how some people think that conservative and liberal war hawks are war hawks because they are unaware of the facts on the ground like the immense human suffering now occurring in the Middle East.

But I believe it is otherwise and that it has nothing to do with facts because war hawks read the news just like most people. The point is the war hawks don't care about the suffering which I suppose is one reason they are war hawks. Another reason is they identify with the people with the biggest club or put another way the people with the most money like say as Israel compared to Lebanon or Gaza.

For example you can read this post by Dennis Perrin concerning suffering.

And after that you could possibly read this post by Larry Johnson.

Dennis Perrin appeals to people's humanity as does Larry Johnson and both include facts but the war hawks nor the wealthy are likely to be moved by either one of these fine posts because to them the suffering and the facts are quite beside the point. They see that those with less power and money can sometimes be a threat to the wealthy and that scares them. This is what makes them war hawks.

Posted by: at July 26, 2006 02:02 PM

I just thought they were greedy bastards with no souls! Silly me!!!

Posted by: americanintifada at July 27, 2006 12:10 AM

Greedy bastards are always scared, that is what makes them greedy bastards to begin with. They want to be assured they will always have more than they need in case they loose a penny some where.

Posted by: rob payne at July 27, 2006 12:18 AM

Larry Johnson is the idiot who said right before 9/11 that the threat of terrorist was receding. put his credibility on the line on it. ROFLMAO. He goes around feeding conspiracy BS to the left to get his shattered credibility back!

Posted by: Patrick at July 30, 2006 02:57 PM

Ah, that can explain what Bush *really* said to Blair:

"We need to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop this Shiite!"

(referring of course to Shiite cleric and Hezbollah terrorist leader Nasrallah) :-)

Posted by: Patrick at July 30, 2006 02:59 PM