Alright. . .this thing seems to be making the local rounds. Here's my sorry-ass score. How will YOU do??
Alright. . .this thing seems to be making the local rounds. Here's my sorry-ass score. How will YOU do??
While some of the drop in support is attributable to discontent with domestic policies, it is clear the sectarian bloodletting in Iraq over the past week has extinguished hopes that December's elections could help stabilise the country and pave the way for US troop withdrawal.
Against that backdrop, a poll published by CBS News yesterday found that only 36% of Americans said the war was going well, and 30% thought President Bush was doing a good job of handling the conflict. Even fewer believed the results of the war were worth the cost. Those concerns have dragged Mr Bush's overall approval ratings down to levels not seen since the depths of Richard Nixon's presidency. Now, only 34% of the country approves of the way Mr Bush is handling his job and only 29% has a favorable view of him as a person.
One of the few public figures more unpopular at the moment is vice-president Dick Cheney, still under a cloud for having shot a friend in a hunting accident last month. Only 18% of Americans surveyed had a favorable view of Mr Cheney.
I am about fifty pages from finishing the latest addition to the King Stable of Horror. . . Very good so far; it'll make you pause before reaching for your cell phone. . .
THERE’S A REASON CELL RHYMES WITH HELL
On October 1, God is in His heaven , the stock market stands at 10,140, most of the planes are on time, and Clayton Riddell, an artist from Maine, is almost bouncing up Boylston Street in Boston. He’s just landed a comic book deal that might finally enable him to support his family by making art instead of teaching it. He’s already picked up a small (but inexpensive!) gift for his long-suffering wife, and he knows just what he’ll get for his boy Johnny. Why not a little treat for himself? Clay’s feeling good about the future.
That changes in a hurry. The cause of the devastation is a phenomenon that will come to be known as The Pulse, and the delivery method is a cell phone. Everyone’s cell phone. Clay and the few desperate survivors who join him suddenly find themselves in the pitch-black night of civilization’s darkest age, surrounded by chaos, carnage, and a human horde that has been reduced to its basest nature…and then begins to evolve.
There’s really no escaping this nightmare. But for Clay, an arrow points home to Maine, and as he and his fellow refugees make their harrowing journey north they begin to see crude signs confirming their direction: KASHWAK=NO-FO. A promise, perhaps. Or a threat…
There are one hundred and ninety-three million cell phones in the United States alone. Who doesn’t have one? Stephen King’s utterly gripp, and fascinating novel doesn’t just ask the question “Can you hear me now?” It answers it with a vengeance.
Find out more at StephenKing.com.
My daughter Samantha checks out her new Barbie Jeep at her 6th birthday party yesterday. (left)
This is a photo of The Helmsley Building, at 230 Park Avenue, New York, NY. What is so special about this building? It's a fine example of early art-deco styling, and, as it's current name implies, was once owned by Leona Helmsley. It was most recently acquired by the United Arab Emirates 3 years ago. Nothing too exciting there, eh? It's just a 30 story building in Manhattan.
UPDATE: 6:45PM: It now appears that this is yet another "good ol' boys" deal for BushCo. Read the rest of the story here.
Other members of Congress have also been critical of the deal. On Friday, Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Hillary Clinton of New York announced they were working on legislation that would ban companies owned by foreign governments from controlling operations at U.S. ports.
Some Republican lawmakers have also expressed concern over the deal, including New York Rep. Peter King and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
"We certainly should investigate it," Graham said Sunday on Fox News.
As reported by Steve Martin:
Would-be criminals beware: you don't want to run afoul of Deputy Lou "The Incredible Hulk" Ferrigno. The former bodybuilder and star of the 1970s TV show no longer turns into a raging green monster when he sees people breaking the law. But since being sworn in Monday night as a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reserve deputy, he has the power to arrest them.
Benchley Wouldn’t Write
Same ‘Jaws’ Today
NEW YORK - As he's being lowered into the water off southern Australia in a shark cage, author Peter Benchley has a sudden morbid thought.
"One of these days one of these fellows is going to take revenge for 'Jaws,"' said the Princeton novelist whose shark tale cleared beaches 25 years ago, "and I don't want to he around.
He's safe. Great White Sharks don't appear to hold grudges. And if the sharks of the world could somehow understand what Benchley is doing now to protect them and educate the world about their behavior, they'd probably watch his back, not bite it.
A quarter century after "Jaws" chilled all who read it, Benchley caught up with sharks for a "National Geographic" special that airs Sunday on CNBC at 8 p.m. His impressions and David Doubilet's photos are also in April's issue of the magazine.
If there's one thing that his research in Australia and off the coast of South Africa taught him, it's that he could not write "Jaws" today.
"I could not posit the situation now that I posited then - sort of a rogue shark that came around and wouldn't go away because it had found a steady diet of human beings," Benchley said in an inter-view over a seafood lunch (crab, not shark).
Scientists have learned that much of the shark behavior they used to ascribe to aggression is simply curiosity.
"I attributed to them a kind of marauding monsterism that became what 'Jaws' was," he said. "Now we know that sharks do not attack boats. The way they decide what to eat is by biting it."
During the split second after a shark sinks its teeth into human flesh, it makes a complex calculation to determine whether the prey is worth the caloric energy needed to kill and eat it, Benchley said.
Sharks consider humans, for the most part, too bony and lean to make a good meal. Fatty seals are much better. That's why 75 percent of humans attacked by Great Whites are spit out.
One bite is often enough, as Rodney Fox learned. He was attacked in 1963 while spearfishing off the coast of Australia, and needed 462 stitches. Rather than begrudge the species, he's spent much of his time working to protect sharks, and accompanied Benchley on his research mission. Growing up, Benchley had always been fascinated by sharks during summers in Nantucket, and wanted to write a book about them. Clearly, others shared his interest.
He doesn't regret "Jaws," or the more than 20 million copies of the book that were sold. It gave a struggling free-lance writer a successful and comfortable career.
"Completely inadvertently, it lapped into a very, very deep fear," he said. "If I had done it on purpose, it would be one thing. But I didn't know for years what was
responsible for the enormous phenomenon of Jaws. He didn't like the "momentary spasm of macho nonsense" that made people go out and kill sharks in the wake of his book. He's comforted by the letters he gets to this day from people who say his book triggered an interest in sharks and a desire to preserve them. The development of modern fishing technology, like long lines that stretch as far as 80 miles, has done more harm to sharks than
any response to "Jaws," Benchley believes. He smiles when reminded of the nightmares "Jaws" caused, and how John Williams' ominous score for the movie became a symbol of impending doom.
"I felt that way about 'Psycho.' When I went to see 'Psycho' in 1961, my date wet her pants," he said. "I cannot be responsible for how people react. I can only be responsible for what I do."
Benchley is amazed by what he sees in a Great White Shark feeding ground off the coast of South Africa. The sharks leap out of the water while attacking seals, their balletic movements fearsome yet beautiful.
And he watches, in horror at first, as the co-owner of a shark-diving operation reaches down toward a shark that had surfaced near his boat's motor. The man wraps his hand around the shark's nose. The animal pauses, seemingly transfixed for a few seconds, then disappears back into the water.
"If you've ever seen a Great White Shark," Benchley said, "it's something you never forget."
He’ll never forget the details of one inadvertent encounter off the coast of the Bahamas in the early 1980s. He was in scuba gear, diving down to see a huge pile of cannons that had been buried at sea. Slowly, he swam along one side of the cannons while, unseen by him, a shark was swimming along the other side. A companion watching from the surface could see both of them, and slapped the water to get Benchley's attention. Not understanding, he ignored the warning.
He continued to swim until he reached the front of the pile, arriving at the exact same time the shark did. They stopped; nose to snout, each shocked at the sight of the other. The shark's fins dropped like brakes, he voided his bowels, then fled.
"I took off needless to say, in the other direction," Benchley said.
Speakers took a rare opportunity to criticise US President George W. Bush's policies to his face at the funeral of Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Civil-rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery and former President Jimmy Carter cited King's legacy as a leader in her own right and advocate of nonviolence as they launched barbs over the Iraq war, government social policies and Bush's domestic eavesdropping program.
Bush sat watching the long service before an audience of 10,000, including politicians, civil rights leaders and entertainers at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, and a national cable television audience.
Lowery, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which King helped found in 1957, gave a playful reading of a poem in eulogy of King.
"She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war / She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar," he said.
"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there / But Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here / Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."
The mourners gave a standing ovation. Bush's reaction could not be seen on the television coverage, but after Lowery finished speaking, the president shook his hand and laughed.
King, seen by many as the "first lady" of the American civil rights movement, died last week in a Mexican alternative health clinic at the age of 78, after complications from ovarian cancer and a recent stroke and heart attack.
Bush, speaking before his critics, said, "By going forward with a strong and forgiving heart, Coretta Scott King not only secured her husband's legacy, she built her own."
With Washington debating the legality of Bush's domestic eavesdropping on Americans suspected of al Qaeda ties, Carter also drew applause with pointed comments on federal efforts to spy on the Kings.
"It was difficult for them personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated, and they became the targets of secret government wiretapping and other surveillance," he said.
Speaking later, Bush's father, former President George Bush, broke any tension by recalling his own meetings as president with Lowery and gave a score: "Lowery 21, Bush 3, it wasn't a fair fight."
|UPDATE 02-09-06: One hopeful sign of nonpartisan sanity came from the House yesterday. Representative Heather Wilson, the New Mexico Republican who heads the subcommittee that supervises the National Security Agency, told The Times that she had "serious concerns" about the spying and wanted a full investigation. With Karl Rove reported to be threatening Election Day revenge against anyone who breaks ranks on this issue, Ms. Wilson deserves support for a principled stand. |
The White House has been twisting arms to ensure that no Republican member votes against President Bush in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the administration's unauthorized wiretapping.
Congressional sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president. The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November.
"It's hardball all the way," a senior GOP congressional aide said.
The sources said the administration has been alarmed over the damage that could result from the Senate hearings, which began on Monday, Feb. 6. They said the defection of even a handful of Republican committee members could result in a determination that the president violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Such a determination could lead to impeachment proceedings.
Over the last few weeks, Mr. Rove has been calling in virtually every Republican on the Senate committee as well as the leadership in Congress. The sources said Mr. Rove's message has been that a vote against Mr. Bush would destroy GOP prospects in congressional elections.
"He's [Rove] lining them up one by one," another congressional source said.
Mr. Rove is leading the White House campaign to help the GOP in November’s congressional elections. The sources said the White House has offered to help loyalists with money and free publicity, such as appearances and photo-ops with the president.
Those deemed disloyal to Mr. Rove would appear on his blacklist. The sources said dozens of GOP members in the House and Senate are on that list.
So far, only a handful of GOP senators have questioned Mr. Rove's tactics.
Some have raised doubts about Mr. Rove's strategy of painting the Democrats, who have opposed unwarranted surveillance, as being dismissive of the threat posed by al Qaeda terrorists.
"Well, I didn't like what Mr. Rove said, because it frames terrorism and the issue of terrorism and everything that goes with it, whether it's the renewal of the Patriot Act or the NSA wiretapping, in a political context," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican.
Mehlman's crude remarks are ridiculous in another way. He claims that the senator has "a very leftwing record" and that it does not reflect the values of most Americans. Hillary Clinton is against setting a timetable for withdrawal from the disastrous occupation of Iraq, and she hasn't fought for universal health care. These two issues, as Paul Krugman points out in his strong column in yesterday's New York Times, are majority positions. It is this extremist Administration which is out of step with the values of most Americans. But, instead of tending to the nation's needs, this White House sends out lockstep attack dogs like Mehlman.