Tuesday, February 28, 2006

National: Bush Approval Rating At All Time Low; Prendergast Approval Rating At All Time High

A CBS News poll released on Monday shows that President George W. Bush's job rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, amid strong opposition to the Dubai Ports World deal and increasing pessimism over the war in Iraq. At the same time the approval rating of Bush’s long-time political adversary, William Prendergast, has undergone a dramatic rise.

“An increasing number of Americans are beginning to come around to the Prendergast way of thinking,” said a spokesman for the National Institute of Political Opinion and Polling Stuff. “Prendergast has been telling people for years that President Bush is a deeply dishonest moron, that his henchmen are arrogant liars and incompetents, and that his promoters in the media are cynical hypocrites and con-men. Prendergast was among the first to identify the modern GOP as the party of institutionalized corruption and the worst sort of demagoguery. The latest polls show that his message is finally getting through.”

Bush's previous low job approval rating of 35 percent came last October, a month after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the Gulf Coast and shortly after the U.S. death toll in Iraq reached the 2,000 mark. The new low in Bush’s approval rating came after he decided to turn over America’s ports to a bunch of goddamn Arab oil sheikhs.

Seventy percent of those surveyed disapproved of the President’s handling of Iraq and 59 percent disapproved of his overall performance on the job. Another 76 per cent believe that the President would also be “a lousy lay.” Prendergast in contrast is described as a perceptive and canny observer of the modern political scene and, according to at least one source, “great in bed.”

Asked to explain the new low in the President’s ratings and the accompanying rise in his own, Prendergast commented: “Any responsible person who knew anything about George W. Bush and about the problems facing America at the beginning of the twenty-first century would have predicted that Bush would fail, miserably. Bush should resign, but the problem isn’t even Bush, really—the problem is those thirty-four percent of Americans who believe in him and helped to re-elect him.”

“They’re proto-fascists,” said Prendergast, warming to his theme. “Their loyalty is to ‘the right-wing leader,’ however horribly he performs, however horrible his deeds. They don’t really want democracy, they’re too fearful and angry and stupid--they need to follow some self-styled “strong man”, no matter what the cost to themselves or to generations of their fellow citizens. Despite the fact that he’s led the country from one disaster into another, over and over again, they still claim they believe in him.”

“It’s that thirty-four percent,” Prendergast emphasized. “They’re just too dumb to acknowledge reality and they haven’t got the character to admit they were wrong--to admit that they themselves are people of bad judgment for believing in his lies and those of his powerful supporters and promoters. They’d vote for Mussolini if you re-packaged him as a “no-new-taxes” born-again Christian and lost that Italian accent. It just goes to show that if you start out by relying on a bunch of talk-radio, Fox News Network turds for your political information, you’re going to end up counting body-bags, with the whole country in hock to the Red Chinese.”

“Like everyone else in America,” Prendergast continued, his curly locks blowing in the breeze, “I know things can be better than this, because like everyone else in America I can remember a time when this country’s biggest problem was Monica Lewinski. The problem is a failure of leadership, and things won’t begin to improve until these conservative crooks, cranks and imbeciles are driven from positions of influence by a justifiably outraged public.”

Friday, February 24, 2006

Media: How Would Local St. Croix Valley Papers Have Covered the Cheney Shooting Story?

Okay, one more piece about the Cheney shooting, and then I’ll stop beating it to death. And you won’t mind this piece so much if you’re a Republican, because this one isn’t even really aimed at Cheney. (“Aimed at Cheney”—that’s kind of cute, heh heh.)

Instead, the target is our local press in Minnesota. In light of how the local papers are treating this Junker story, how would they have covered Dick Cheney’s shooting of Harry Whittington—if left to their own devices?

I think it would go…something like this…

To: Schmillwater Schmazette
From: William Prendergast
Re: Breaking News: Dick Cheney Shot Somebody!

No kidding, he did! Really! Cheney was on a quail hunting trip down in Texas and he fired his shotgun and hit his old pal Harry Whittington in the face and chest! Cheney’s trying to cover up, delay releasing the details of the shooting! The old man’s in the hospital, he’s 78 years old and he may die!
You guys at the Schmazette can scoop the world with this if you run it in your paper! Call me immediately if you want details! Get the headline set up now!

Bill Prendergast

To: Schmillwater Schmazette
From: William Prendergast
Re: Dick Cheney Shooting Story

Hey, didn’t you guys get the email I sent you yesterday? Dick Cheney shot this old guy and put him in the hospital; I sent you the story in an email yesterday--didn’t you get it?

Bill Prendergast

To: Schmillwater Schmazette
From: William Prendergast
Re: Dick Cheney Shooting Story

What the f is going on with you guys? You won’t even write me back about this? I’m giving you a scoop for Jesus’ sake, why won’t you print it? What’s the matter, are you afraid you’ll piss off some local advertisers if you run that story? What the hell kind of chicken shit is going on? If you won’t print the news that Cheney shot somebody as a story, then okay, run the letter I sent you as a letter to the editor on the Opinion page, I’ll take responsibility for it myself.
But for God’s sake, get it into the paper somewhere, it’s news!

To: Schmillwater Schmourier
From: William Prendergast
Re: Breaking News: Cheney’s Victim Is Having A Heart Attack

Dear Schmillwater Schmourier:
This is a scoop—it’s entirely reliable and by this evening it will be on the internet and all the major news networks, so if I were you I’d get it out right now, asap, on your web page and in Wednesday’s paper.
I have reliable information that Harry Whittington, the guy that Dick Cheney shot on that quail hunting trip, is even at this moment suffering from a heart attack!
Write me back and I will give you all the info I’ve got. You will “beat” every paper and broadcast news outlet with this story. (Normally, I’d give the Schmazette first crack at this story, but, would you believe it, they never even acknowledged my emails. They wouldn’t even allow me to raise the issue in a letter to the editor! Unbelievable, eh?)
Bill Prendergast

To: Schmillwater Schmourier
From: William Prendergast
Re: Cheney Shooting Victim Having A Heart Attack

Hello, is there anyone there? I sent a news story in a letter to the editor about a week ago, it was all about Vice President Cheney shooting a man—Then yesterday I also sent the same news to you in the form of a letter to the editor, so you guys wouldn’t have to take responsibility for running it if you were too scared to break the news. Why wouldn’t you print it? Is there anyone there who will talk to me about this?

To: Schmillwater Schmourier; Schmillwater Schmazette
From: William Prendergast
Re: Cheney Shooting Story

Okay, the hell with it. It’s been months. I’m going to the SchmiPress. They’ll print the story.

To: Schmioneer Press
From: William Prendergast
Re: Cheney Shoots Fellow Hunter; Victim Had A Heart Attack

Dear Schmioneer Press News Reporter:
For months now I have been trying to get the local papers here to run something about how the Vice President shot a guy. None of the local papers chose to “go out on a limb” and report the story—they won’t even let me raise the issue in a letter to the editor. In desperation I am turning to you. Fact-check the story, if you don’t believe me—and then print something about this, somewhere in your paper, please?
Please, I’m begging you—someone in the local press has to let the public know about this shocking news story.
Bill Prendergast

To: William Prendergast
From: Schmioneer Press News Editor
Re: Your “news” story

Mr. Prendergast:
Quite some time ago you wrote to the Schmioneer Press with a request for assistance with an alleged “news story,” in which you claimed that the Vice President had shot someone. You suggested that the Schmioneer Press investigate this matter by inquiring with the persons concerned.
You sent your email request to the Schmioneer Press News Reporter; I am that employee’s editor and I am replying on her behalf so that she will not have to address you or speak with you directly.
We saw no reference to this so-called “news” of yours in any of the local broadcast media and have never seen any reference to it in any of the local press.
As you know, the Schmioneer Press encourages its readers to contact the paper with “news,” which we may or may not later choose to run in our paper as “news stories.”
But it is against the policy of the Schmioneer Press to discuss its news coverage plans (or lack of same) with people outside the newsroom.
I do not see how we or anyone anywhere can help you or anyone else any further in this matter.

Schmioneer Press News Editor

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

National: Bush On Turning Over US Ports to Arabs--"We Are?"

Briefly: We’re fighting a war on terror, the terrorists we’re fighting are networks of foreign Arab fundamentalist Muslims--so someone thought that this was a good time to sell off six of America’s key seaports to a foreign company run by an Arab Muslim foreign power.

And the White House just loves this idea; the President says he’s going to veto any attempt to stop it.

On the one hand you have NATIVE Arab-Americans being investigated and spied on and harassed by the feds and threatened with being deported, and on the other hand you have the Bush administration handing over the security of ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia—to FOREIGN Arabs, so that they can presumably wander in and out of American ports of entry at will.

This is why I’m not President. I mean—if I had to sell off American ports to foreigners (a dubious proposition in itself), I’d sell them to the fucking Dutch, they’re not suicide-bombing us, right?

But the weirdest thing of all about the “ports deal” is the latest Bush administration PR move in response to the outcry.

Up until less than two days ago, the President was a vociferous defender of the deal, threatening a veto if Congress tried to stop it. The administration was acting all outraged that anyone would even question the wisdom of the plan—“How could anyone doubt that the first concern of this alien, state-owned company from the Muslim world will be the security and safety of the U.S. and its citizens? How DARE you, sir! You are obviously some kind of RACIST, if you question the loyalty of these foreign Arab Muslim oil sheikhs to the United States!”

But fellow Republicans started having public heart attacks over the fact that the White House was handing over the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia to the Arabs for safekeeping. So today, the administration is attempting to distance itself from the whole mess by claiming that the President knew nothing about the “ports deal” before it actually went through.

An astonishing defense—for if it is true, it means that the plan entirely escaped the attention of the vast and much-vaunted anti-terrorist intelligence apparatus of the White House. “Didn’t know about it! Never heard of it! Nobody called us. Must have got right by our Homeland Security people again, how ‘bout that? But now that we do know about it—having just heard about it this weekend—it sounds like a damned good idea to us to turn over our ports to foreigners during a time of significant terrorist threat--and the President will veto any attempt to stop it! If it becomes a problem later, we’ll have someone go on TV and put up one of those magenta alert card warnings, don’t worry about it.”

Sadly, it is all too easy to believe that the pending “ports deal” entirely escaped the attention of the Bush administration until it was too late. Just look at these other deals that have gotten by the White House with little or no comment, it’s disgraceful:

“The Nukes Deal.” This is a plan to turn over the responsibility for storage, upkeep, and management of America’s nuclear arsenal to former members of the KGB. Rationale: Former KGB personnel have a lot of security experience and they work really cheap. After the Soviet Union broke up, a lot of these guys went private and many of them would like to move their businesses to the US so they can meet American girls. This is a win-win: it’s a cost-effective way to secure our nuclear weapons, and it keeps these ex-KGB guys off the streets, because if you don’t watch them like a hawk they set up another branch of the Russian mafia.

“The Gambling Addiction Deal.” This a plan to turn over all responsibility for government gambling addiction policy to a private company run by former Secretary of Education and Drug Czar William Bennett. (A similar initiative proposes Rush Limbaugh as head of a privatized Drug Enforcement Agency.) The idea is that Bennett, a gambler himself and America’s most credible conservative moralist, will be wise to the ways of gambling addicts. He will use his considerable experience to persuade addicts not to gamble, or at least minimize their losses by telling them where the loosest slots with the biggest payoffs can be found.

“The Bush Twins Deal.” Plan to turn the Bush twins over to the Bangkok sex industry. Until they are safely married off, the President’s attractive daughters will be placed in the charge of a private syndicate of Thai white slavers. This prevents Jenna and what’s her name from getting drunk, dressing like tramps (remember the last GOP convention?), or creating embarrassing scandals like Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton. The plan is to turn them over to these Thai whoremasters for safekeeping until marriage—these streetwise international pimps have been delivering in-tact virgins to customers for centuries; their word is their bond. They can handle two spoiled white girls, no problem.

All of the above plans are at least as disgraceful and stupid as the ports deal. Why doesn’t the mainstream media write something about this?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Media: Junker Story Pursued

Well, this week I will try knocking on the door of the PiPress’s education reporter again, and hope that she will answer this time. (Why won’t anyone talk to me? Maybe it’s all these columns about the Cheney shooting I’ve been doing; maybe they’re all big Cheney fans, maybe they don’t like my file photo, I don’t know. Anyway:)

Dear Ms. Boldt:

More than a week ago I sent a request for assistance to you and your editor at the Pioneer Press; I was seeking your help in finding answers to questions I had about the current mental health of one of our school board officials. Since I haven’t received any correspondence from you since then, I must assume that you and your editor are not interested in assisting me.

But I also emailed some questions to you and to your editor, Mr. Jack Sullivan, who seemed to be fielding questions from the public on your behalf. These questions were for you, personally, and could be answered from your store of personal knowledge and experience.

I haven’t received any kind of reply from Mr. Sullivan or from you, and the answers to these questions are very important to local voters here in the district. So this week I will re-send my questions for you, directly to you, and hope that you will answer. Note that that a new question has been added:

1) During the time that you have been responsible for covering our local school board, have you ever attended any of our local school board meetings (District 834)? If so, have you ever noticed Mr. Junker appearing distracted or confused during those meetings, as if he didn't understand what was going on at the moment?

2) On the basis of your experience in covering the school board, and your conversations with various school board members and area residents—have you ever formed any opinion of your own regarding Choc Junker's ability to understand and concentrate on the issues the before the board?

3) Does the Pioneer Press have some kind of ombudsman who answers questions from readers about the quality of the reporting in the paper? Currently I only receive the Sunday edition of the paper, and I don’t read every single page.

As I stated in my previous email: the reason that I am asking the PiPress' assistance with this matter is that 1) I have already asked several local elected officials about Mr. Junker's health (including David Junker) and they have refused to comment on the issue and 2) local newspapers have refused to let me use their letters to the editor page to inquire about this issue publicly.


William J. Prendergast
Stillwater Tribune

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Broadcast Journalism: This Is Why Americans Have So Much Respect For The Media

It's their sensitivity, plus--their ability to zero in on the issue. Perfect example: take this actual moment from a transcript of Fox newsman Brit Hume's interview of Vice President Dick Cheney. This was the first public interview granted by Cheney after he accidentally shot his 78 year old friend Harry Whittington during a quail hunting trip at a Texas ranch. (Whittington is still in the hospital, being treated for a heart attack that was triggered by shotgun pellets lodged near his heart.)

From the transcript:

Cheney: (Whittington had caught) part of the shot. He was struck in the right side of his face, his neck and his upper torso on the right side of his body.

Hume: And you — and I take it, you missed the bird?

See how Hume "zeroed in" on the real issue there? That's the difference between a professional like Hume and an amateur like me. Questions like that are why Hume's getting the big money and I'm out here on the Internet playing with myself.

You can see why Cheney chose Fox News and Brit Hume in particular to present his side of the story. Sure, they discuss the shooting of Whittington, too--but an old newshound like Hume never takes his eye off the ball, not even for a second. The importance of that question--"And you--and I take it, you missed the bird?"--is that it cuts to the heart of the matter--what is this story really about? Given the limited time I have to interview the Vice President, what does the audience really want to know?

They want to know if he got that bird, that's what they really would like to know. They already know Cheney shot this old guy, but did he get that quail? Who's covering that angle of the story? Brit Hume, that's who. He's the TV newsman who "keeps his eyes on the prize," he'll get the answers we want to know. Look how Cheney's caught off balance by Hume's question:

Hume: And you — and I take it, you missed the bird?

Cheney: I have no idea. I mean, you focused on the bird, but as soon as I fired and saw Harry there, everything else went out of my mind. I don't know whether the bird went down or didn't.

You can tell how Hume's penetrating question threw Cheney for a loop, momemtarily. I never heard Cheney answer any question with "I have no idea".

But Hume knows. He knows. When you're quail hunting, you're not out there to fill out accident reports--you're out there to get some quail. And if it's a hunting trip, the key question, at the end of the day, is not going to be "did you shoot that old man", it's going to be "did you get that bird?"

What if Hume had stayed the course and pursued this line of inquiry? We might have learned a lot more.

Hume: Come on, Mr. Vice President. You know whether you got that bird or not.
Cheney: No, really, I don't.
Hume: Hmmm... Do the birds jump around a lot, when you shoot them?
Cheney: Well... Some of them do, some of them just drop--
Hume: HA HA HA, I'll bet they do; I'll bet they drop like a rock!
Cheney: Well...
Hume: I'll bet they drop like rocks, with two hundred pellets of shot in them! HA HA HA! Little bird-bastards, I calls 'em! Listen, Mr. Vice-President, how much does a quail hunting trip like that cost?
Cheney: Oh, I don't know... I go for free...
Hume: What do you say you take me next time?
Cheney: You want to go?
Hume: You bet I do! We'll go back to that same ranch you were at, and we'll get that little bird-bastard you were shooting at when you hit the old man.
Cheney: Well, I don't know if I could find that particular bird again...
Hume: I'll find him! You bet I will, I'm with Fox News. I'll find that little bird-bastard. You go hunting, you come back with a bird, right? Am I right? Come on, let's go.

Then the whole thing turns into a continuing investigative series. Or maybe a reality TV show, I don't know. But Hume knows. He knows.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

National: This Just In--More Confidential White House Emails

I can't stop this from coming in. Here are two more in-house Bush administration emails about the Cheney-Whittington shooting that I got just now.

To: Chimpmeister
From: highroad@actiongroup.list

Here is latest hourly update.
Immediate reaction to Veep's appearance on Fox News: we're still gathering data, but we think the first reaction will be sympathy for Dick. If I may say so, sir, it was brilliant of you to suggest that Dick "relive" the incident from HIS point of view, instead of the victim's. The Dick C quotes that the AP plucked out for this hour's story are all about 'the horror Dick must have felt at that moment.' Here is an example, pulled from the latest wire story:
CHENEY:"The image of him falling is something that I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired and there's Harry falling. And it was ... one of the worst days of my life at that moment." Of course, we all realize that it was not one of the best days in Mr. Whittington's life, either--but this approach, as you suggested, makes it a story about Dick and how HE is suffering, instead of a story about how the guy Dick shot is suffering. Brilliant, sir, if I may say so.
We got another break--reviewed the late-night comedians material on the incident (Letterman, the Daily Show, etc.) and it wasn't very funny. No big laughs, really weak jokes, pathetic, in fact. I don't think any of those particular jokes are going to have legs or lasting impact--none of it was funny enough for the audience to "repeat around the water cooler the next day" (like the Lewinsky stuff), but of course the jokes will get funnier when Letterman and Jon Stewart threaten to fire the writers, so it's too early to tell at this point.
FYI: I fired an intern this morning; hope this is okay with you. At this morning emergency media strategy meeting, he said maybe we should tell the media that Dick was "certain" that Whittington had weapons of mass destruction when he shot him. I think he meant it as a joke, but per your last message, this is no time for levity, eh, sir?
Finally, re: your inquiry--we have found out the name of the White House gardener who was working outside your office window this morning and playing that song over and over again on his portable CD boombox. Do you want him transferred to other duties? The name of the song that he was playing, by the way, is "Shot Through The Heart", I think it's by Bon Jovi, a musical group from New Jersey.

To: highroad@actiongroup.list
From: Chimpmeister

Who gives a shit who recorded the f'ing song! I don't want that f'ing gardener transferred, I want him DEPORTED! We'll see how funny he thinks he is when he and his whole family are back on a one-way banana boat to Guatemala or Honduras or wherever the f he comes from! Get one of our guys at the INS on it right away.
Why do I even have to put up with this crap, why am I even having to deal with it? If you would just separate your lips from my butt for just two seconds and start doing your job, weasel boy, I could concentrate on doing what needs to be done! I don't have time to review every frigging intern you fire, next thing I know you'll be asking me to come down there and hold your little dick for you while you pee! Don't you realize I've got things to do? I've got to come up with a story that will knock this thing off the front pages and the top of the hour news! Christ, where is Hurricane Katrina when you really need her? And the Chimp's already asking me how come HE never got to shoot anybody--"Technically, I outrank Dick, you know..."
That's what I'm dealing with today, don't bother me anymore with your little piss-ant problems and your overtime ass-kissing! Weasel Boy!

To: Chimpmeister
From: highroad@actiongroup.list

Yes, sir.

National: Confidential White House Memo On Cheney Shooting

Every so often, I receive email from the White House.

The White House does not intend to send me this email; these are obviously confidential communications that are somehow misdirected to my email address by their author. I suppose that what is happening is that the author has somehow acquired my email address and mistakenly included it on his own “in-house distribution list”—thus, I get these messages automatically whenever the author intends to send especially sensitive information and instructions to a very small and discrete circle of key Bush administration personnel.

The author of these emails does not sign his real name; he identifies himself by a nickname or codename as “The Ol’ Chimpmeister” or simply “Chimp-meister.” From what I can gather from the content of the messages, the author is probably male and a “Washington insider.” He seems to be a highly placed advisor or administrator working in the White House--one of “the President’s men;” a peer or colleague of Karl Rove and Andrew Card. (I don’t think that Rove or Card could be the author, since they are sometimes mentioned by name or directly addressed in these emails.)
It would appear that the “Chimpmeister” regularly counsels the President on media and public perception matters and oversees a significant staff of lower echelon White House personnel whose duties include “managing” the press and the broadcast media.

Please bear all this in mind when you read the following, the latest in this series of unsought memoranda:

From: Chimpmeister
To: Actiongroup.list;rove.private;card.private

First and foremost: now is not the time to panic. If I catch anybody panicking, I will personally crucify him or her, and if you don’t believe I’ll do it just ask ‘Scooter’ Libby, if the judge will let him talk to you.
Second: No one is to forward this to Dick C, and I MEAN IT. I left him off the distribution list intentionally. My advice to him was to keep mum, and the less Dick knows this week the better. I know it’s a standing order that Dick and his people have access to everything, but this week’s different, because this week it’s Dick’s ass in the sling. If I get a copy of this back from Dick’s office, I will hunt down whoever it was who sent it to him and then you’ll wish you were Harry Whittington, comprendo?
This is the situation, as of the time stamp: Whittington could go either way. The man’s 78 years old, for Christ’s sake, and he’s got two hundred pellets in him. (NOTE THAT WORD: it’s “PELLETS”, not “BULLETS”—Dick got him with a shotgun, not a rifle, and shotguns fire “PELLETS”, NOT “BULLETS”. So if I catch one of you little dumbshits telling a reporter that Dick put 200 “bullets” in Mr. Whittington, I will personally transfer your ass to the Baghdad office, and good f’ing riddance, too. I hope I make myself clear.)
Which one of you geniuses told those doctors in Texas to tell the press that the wounds were “superficial”? Whichever one of you it was, I want you in my office, this afternoon, so I can thank you personally by tearing you a new asshole that matches the one you were thinking with when you told the doctors to say THAT. That’s exactly what I mean when I say “DO NOT PANIC”; telling the doctors to say stupid shit like that so that two hours later we have to confess that some of the pellets are embedded in Whittington’s heart and he’s having a FUCKING HEART ATTACK! HOW DOES THAT MAKE US LOOK? ‘SUPERFICIAL’? ARE YOU TRYING TO GIVE ME AND DICK A HEART ATTACK?
And another thing—who told McClellan about the Accident? (By the way—until one of you birdbrains comes up with a better euphemism, that’s how everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is going to refer to this—as “The Accident.” Anyone on my staff who refers to it in public (or in private) as “the shooting” had better start boning up on his Arabic, pronto, because you’re on that plane to Baghdad if you do. Here’s the good news: anyone who comes up with a better euphemism than “The Accident” gets to go home for the night and still have a job the next day. And don’t suggest calling it “The Tragedy”; it’s not “The Tragedy” until Whittington actually dies, you morons.)
Anyway, I repeat: who told that asshole McClellan? No one tells the White House Press Secretary ANYTHING until you’ve spoken to me or Dick or Karl first. This is basic training stuff, people! I didn’t even tell the Chimp about it until Saturday night, just before his bedtime when he was looking sleepy and wasn’t likely to tell anyone else. So which one of you geniuses took it upon himself to tell McClellan?
Whoever you are, I can’t wait to get my hands on you, you stupid little rat-bastard. Thanks to you, McClellan decides on an emergency PR strategy of his own, and goes up in front of the camera this morning trying to pull a “humorous” Ronald Reagan-like approach to the whole mess, making jokes about hunting and what a bad shot Dick is and how he’s wearing an orange tie at the press conference so Dick won’t shoot HIM—and then an hour later the hospital’s telling the world that this 78 year old man is in the middle of HAVING A FUCKING HEART ATTACK! What’s that you say? “Oops?” I’ll “oops” you, if I find out who you are, and I will, you can bet your ass I will!
NO ONE TELLS MCCLELLAN ANYTHING! I don’t care if he has to stand up in front of those reporters for a half an hour with his finger up his ass, YOU TELL HIM NOTHING unless I say so! We’re already getting criticism from Marlin Fitzwater and Ari fucking Fleischer, even!
Note the following and memorize it, learn it, live it—or DIE A LINGERING DEATH AT MY HANDS: it’s “pellets”, not “bullets”—the “pellets” have “migrated” to Harrington’s heart (immediately correct anyone who suggests that Dick SHOT him in the heart)—“MINOR heart attack”, not “heart attack”—in fact, use the phrase “myocardial infarction” or look up some specific bullshit medical term for it, stay away from “heart attack” altogether. NEVER refer to Harrington as “the victim”; he’s “an old friend” of the Vice President. Avoid expressions of “sympathy” for Harrington or his family, that sounds like the guy’s already dead. In fact, now that I think of it, NO ONE is authorized to offer “sympathy” to anyone, or anything like it, get me? It’s okay to LOOK sympathetic if they ask about it, but you give them no more than THREE SECONDS of the sympathetic “look” and then MOVE ON TO ANOTHER SUBJECT. And if anyone so much as mentions the word “apology,” you’ll be back licking campaign contribution junk mail envelopes in a heartbeat--in a Dick Cheney heartbeat, is that understood?
And for Christ’s sake, try to look confident! Not “happy”, you’re not “happy” that Dick shot the guy—look confident! There’s a DIFFERENCE, for Christ’s sake.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Crime: Cheney Shoots Prominent Texas Republican

What was the real motive behind the shooting? The official accounts of the incident made available so far simply do not ring true.

According to the latest reports, we are asked to believe that on Saturday Vice President Cheney accidentally shot his hunting companion Harry Whittington in the face and chest because he mistook him for a member of a covey of quail.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, "I think you can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job." McClellan was not referring to the Vice President’s hunting technique; he was referring to the fact that the press was not informed about the incident in a timely fashion. Facing a press corps upset that news had been withheld, McClellan said he himself did not know until Sunday morning that Cheney had shot someone.

The “cover-up” is not the only suspicious circumstance in the air. Remember that Mr. Cheney is an experienced hunter and his victim, Mr. Harry Whittington of Texas, looks no more like a quail than you or I do; he couldn’t even be mistaken for Dan Quayle. I saw a photograph of him and allowing for the fact that he is 78 years old, there’s nothing remotely avian about him. Whittington is a prominent leader in the Texas Republican party and is well known to Cheney. And we can assume that at the time he was shot, Whittington was wearing bright orange hunting safety clothing similar to what Mr. Cheney is wearing in the file photo above.

So it is ridiculous for Cheney to claim that he mistook Whittington for a quail. While Whittington is still bedridden in the hospital, the administration has been attempting to place at least some of the blame for the shooting on him. Several hunting experts have been rounded up to tell us that Mr. Whittington ought to have “announced himself” in order to warn Cheney of his presence.

I would have thought such a precaution unnecessary, since Mr. Cheney and Mr. Whittington were both theoretically “on the same side.” And it violates the tenets of common sense to imply that a fellow hunter somehow becomes “fair game” if he fails to regularly remind the others of his ineligibility as a target.

That cannot be the rule; if it were what you would have is a bunch of apprehensive and fearful middle-aged men with guns running around in the long grass all day, shouting in defense of their own lives. And where is the sport in that? I have never seen antics like that on any televised hunting program; it’s not in any of the Hemingway stories, either.

And what are they supposed to shout? “Dick! Don’t shoot! It’s me! Harry Whittington! Remember?” I have always been given to understand that “stealth” is a factor in hunting; such carryings on are bound to tip off the quail.

So these attempts to hold Mr. Whittington responsible for his own shooting are pointless. But not entirely unexpected: blaming victims is standard operating procedure for this White House and for conservatives in general.

Finally, consider this: Pamela Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and another member of the hunting party, said she has hunted with Cheney before and would again.

"He's a great shot. He's very safety conscious…he's safe or safer than all the rest of us," said Willeford.

Unless Willeford's statements are mere careerist ass-kissing, they make it impossible to dismiss this shooting as accidental. Given what we know of the Vice President’s temperament and stress level, isn’t it more likely that Mr. Whittington inadvertently said or did something that triggered Cheney’s famous propensity to rage? We know that Cheney is not a pacific individual. We all recall his words to Senator Leahy on the floor of the Senate (which will certainly go down in history as the most memorable thing this Vice President ever said.) His temper, within the walls of the White House, is as dreaded as that of the President himself.

So I think that this is what you might have seen and heard, if you had been a quail standing by in the grass that infamous day:

Whittington: “Hey, Dick, I just saw the latest approval polls on the administration—“

Cheney: “Fuck you!” BLAM!


Whittington: “Dick, I got an idea--how about if we take some of the billions your old oil company Halliburton is making off the war in no-bid contracts and kick some back to the surviving family members of all those American kids who are getting killed in Iraq—“

Cheney: “Why, you filthy little son-of-a--” BLAM!

Whittington: “Dick, the boys and I have been talking, and we think it would really help out the GOP candidates in this year’s elections if you would kind of “take the fall” for this whole phony “weapons of mass destruction” thing and resign—“

Cheney: “Here’s your ‘weapons of mass destruction’, you wrinkly old mother--” BLAM!


Whittington: “Come on, Dick, how can we tell them we’re doing a great job on the war on terror if Osama bin Laden’s doing a regular TV spot every other week--”

Cheney: “I’ll ‘war on terror’ your old candy-ass—with THIS!” BLAM!

Until all the facts are in, I think this is the view we must adopt.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Rerun: St. Croix Valley GOP Invades Local Schoolboard

In response to a reprint request from one of our readers, here is a column I wrote last year about an unfortunate incident that took place at a meeting of our local School Board.
At the time the piece was printed the newspaper editor came up with funny headline for it which I can't exactly recall--it was something like "THREE GOP AMIGOS ATTEMPT TAKEOVER OF LOCAL SCHOOLBOARD"--something like that, I don't have it in front of me. But here it is:

Too many of you don’t follow local politics. You don’t know what you’re missing, babies, it’s a real hoot sometimes.

Take last week, when the local Republican junta broke into a District 834 meeting, attempting to eliminate democratic government by local elected officials and seize control of our tiny, embattled School Board.

It was last Thursday; the happy and contented people of the School Board were celebrating a gala fiesta. Thanks to Democrats taking a stand in the legislature, EL GOBERNADOR Pawlenty and his dreaded REPUBLICANOS had finally abandoned their ruinous and RIDICULOSO “no-new-taxes” promises. For years, EL PAWLENTITO’S tax policies deliberately starved communities like ours of the state funding they depend on. The result was that special ed and school transportation had to be cut and classroom sizes would be enlarged up to 38 pupils (CARRAMBA! Can you imagine teaching an English class made up of 38 sixteen year olds? MADRE DE DIOS!)

But this day, the School Board was celebrating the restoration of $3.9 million of the $4 million that LOS REPUBLICANOS had cut from school spending. I wasn’t actually there, so I have to imagine what happened that night. I bet the Board members were happy, festive, dancing LA DANZA DE LA BOARDA ESCUELA. I can imagine all the smiling CABALLEROS and DAMAS of the School Board, chattering happily in their finery, waving their fans, tipping their sombreros with all the little felt balls hanging off the rims, prating on happily in their colorful local dialect--merrily talking of restoring school bus services, reducing classroom sizes, implementing a new science curriculum, and so forth.

And imagine the “oohs and ahhs” that must have greeted the budget projections of His Excellency, the Assistant SUPERINTENDIDO of Business and Administrative SERVICIOS, Ray Queener! FELICIDADES, SENORES Y SENORAS! AY, our hearts were so happy that day!


Three of the most dreaded of the local GOP REPRESENTIDOS, PAWLENTISTA “no-new-taxes” HOMBRES, here in our very midst! “They are the bad men, SENORES! They make the promise not to raise the taxes, then they raise the taxes! They promise the good economy, and we end up with 38 sixteen year olds in an INGLES class! And the gas is $2.50 a gallon! They are the liars, the bad ones!"

“EL CHARRON,” the state rep who votes to take away the vote from the people, the people who would be taxed to pay for the new STADIO DEL TWINS! REPRESENTADO Matt Dean—the dreaded “Man With No Knowledge!” State Senator Brian LeClair—“SENOR Conceal-And-Carry” himself! By the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, what is to become of us now?”

LeClair produced a state-sponsored “worksheet” which he attempted to impose upon the School Board to mandate local policy. This budget worksheet produced by the REPUBLICANOS will be as law to you! We replace the will of the people with this worksheet!

The School Board must adhere to THESE numbers! The School Board must adopt THESE policies! The School Board must do what WE say! It is by the AUTORIDAD of the REPUBLICANO-controlled MINISTERIO of EDUCACION in San Paul!

What? You say that you, too, were elected? Impudent PEONES! We spit on your claim of being democratically elected by the LOCALES. You, and the ignorant fools who voted for you, are nothing! You hear? Nothing! A-HAHAHAHAHA!

What, Queener? You say that the figures on our “worksheet” have no basis in REALIDAD? You insinuate that we are lying again? Impudent little bean-counter! You will accept our figures, however fantastic and imaginary they may be! You will blindly adhere to our policies, however destructive they have proven in the past!

For we are LOS REPUBLICANOS! Never forget that the REPUBLICANOS, and EL GOBERNADOR Pawlenty himself, have been laying waste to your precious little SYSTEMA ESCUELA for years—and we can do so again! You should count yourselves lucky that we do not ask for the cheerleaders as hostages!

It was then that the simple people of the School Board grew restive. The gay carnival atmosphere was gone; now there were dark murmurs and mutterings under the breath as the new REPUBLICANO junta tried to tighten its grip. “Their numbers are not real!” “I am unhappy that they have interrupted the Board!” “I think they need to trust the school boards a little more!” “This is not helpful!” “AY, I think it somewhat undercuts what we do here!”

Oh, how will it all end, AMIGOS? Who can say? Surely when one branch of the government tries to take over another, tries to stamp out our little democracy with the twin jackboots of political bullying and lying worksheet numbers, no good can come of it. But one thing is for sure—these REPUBLICANOS we’ve got representing us are ARROGANT-ADO ESOBES, no?

William Prendergast is the author of the crime thriller “Forbidden Hollywood.” If you “didn’t get” the joke in the last line of the column, try pronouncing the word “ESOBES” out loud a few times.

Poll: Many Skeptical About Bush Confidence in 2006 Economy

A new survey indicates that many Americans are concerned by the President’s confidence in U.S. economic growth in the upcoming year. President Bush announced that he was confident about the economy in 2006.

Twenty-three per cent of those surveyed agreed with that the job market has become stronger since the nation converted to Bush’s new deficit spending/endless warfare economy.

Another twenty-three per cent deduced that Bush was expressing confidence because Red China had extended America’s credit rating again.

Only one per cent of respondents thought the President claiming that he couldn’t do any worse on the economy next year than he’s done in previous years.

An astonishing forty-six per cent of those surveyed were skeptical of the President’s prediction and claimed that any time that man says he’s confident about something, it’s time to get out the duct tape and seal up the windows with plastic sheeting.

The price of gasoline has increased by about one dollar per gallon since Bush and Cheney, former oilmen, took office. The good news is that the rate of inflation on consumer goods has not increased nearly as dramatically. This means that you are not paying a lot more when you buy things at the store (unless you use your car to get there. If you and your family live inside a shopping mall or supermarket, you are sitting pretty when it comes to beating inflation.)

To take part in this weeks Stillwater Tribune opinion poll, see this week’s poll question in the sidebar at right.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Media: PiPress Receives Cry For Help; Doesn't Know How To Respond

Here is what’s happening with the Choc Junker story. Two days ago I sent the following email to an editor at the Pioneer Press. I think the context is pretty self-explanatory:

Wed, 8 Feb 2006 08:50:28 -0800 (PST)
From: "W Prendergast"
Subject: copy of an email to Jack Sullivan re question about Choc Junker
To: Jack Sullivan, editor, and Megan Boldt, reporter @pioneerpress.com

Dear Mr. Sullivan,
Last week I sent a request for assistance to your local education reporter, Megan Boldt. I was asking her to help me with inquiries about the current mental health of Choc Junker, a local elected official and member of the School Board. You sent the following reply to me:

Mr. Prendergast,
I am Megan Boldt's editor and am responding on her behalf. The Pioneer Press does not discuss its coverage plans, if any, with those outside the newsroom. I don't know that Megan or I will be able to assist you further.
Jack Sullivan
Washington County team leader St. Paul Pioneer Press

I think you and Ms. Boldt may have misunderstood my request. I was not asking you, Ms. Boldt, or the Pioneer Press to discuss its coverage plans (if any) with me. I was writing to you for help--trying to get an answer to an important question about a local elected official.

You say that you don't know if Ms. Boldt or you will be able to assist me further. I can think of two ways that you can help me, if you are interested in doing so:

1) Would you or Ms. Boldt or some reporter for the Pioneer Press call Mr. David Junker on behalf of the Pioneer Press and ask:
a) if his father Choc Junker has been diagnosed as having some type of mental illness or infirmity.
b) if Choc is currently being treated for some type of mental illness or infirmity.
Like his father Choc, Mr. David Junker is an elected official and is probably used to taking questions from the press about matters of public concern. I contacted David Junker about this matter some time ago and he never replied to me by phone or email; perhaps he will answer these questions if they come from a Pioneer Press journalist.

2) I notice that you are "fielding" my original question to your local Education reporter, Ms. Boldt. I think it's a little unusual for an editor to act as a kind of "press secretary" for one of his reporters, but if you are in fact answering questions for Ms. Boldt, could you please ask her the following questions and let me know her replies:

During the time that she has been responsible for covering our school board, has she ever attended any of our local school board meetings (District 834)? If so, has she ever noticed Mr. Junker appearing distracted or confused during one of those meetings, as if he didn't understand what was going on at the moment? Finally, on the basis of her experience in covering the school board, and her conversations with various school board members and area residents--has Ms. Boldt ever formed any opinion of her own regarding Choc Junker's ability to understand and concentrate on the issues the before the board? I will send her a copy of this email too, so that she stays "in the loop."

As I stated in my previous email: the reason that I am asking the PiPress' assistance with this matter is that 1) I have already asked several local elected officials about Mr. Junker's health (including David Junker) and they have refused to comment on the issue and 2) local newspapers have refused to let me use their letters to the editor page to inquire about this issue publicly. Will you, or Ms. Boldt, or one of your reporters agree to help me get answers to the questions above, and send me the responses (if any)? That would assist me, and the local voters here in the St. Croix valley, and all the people who read your newspaper.

Please let me know your answer to my request for assistance by return email.

William J. Prendergast
Stillwater Tribune

Update: Two days have gone by; no word from editor Sullivan or reporter Boldt.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Fiction: Lucrative Regional Detective Story Market To Be Exploited

I have an update on the big Junker story for you, but that will have to wait. I have mouths to feed back here at the Prendergast ranch, and I think I've finally come up with a way to tap in to all that "big money" that's always being thrown around in the old writing game.

As you may or may not know, there is a huge market for regional or historical detective stories--that is, there is a whole genre of detective fiction out there that sells by the millions because the authors have put a local or historical slant on their writing, thus"spicing up" the traditional mystery story with fascinating cultural details. This kind of stuff goes over big with mystery fans; that's why you see series about about medieval English monks who solve crimes, Wisconsin dairy farmer detectives who solve crimes, ancient Egyptian cat fanciers who solve crimes, et cetera, et cetera.

I know it sounds stupid but there's a goddam fortune in it, don't ask me why. Anyway, I was down in the Louisana bayou this weekend (that's why I haven't been working on the blog) and I discovered this whole new culture that's just begging to be exploited in a new mystery genre. These people call themselves "Cajuns"--actually, the word for their ethnicity is "Acadian", but they are unable to pronounce that word properly because of inbreeding or something, I don't know. These people are the descendants of French-speaking Canadians who were evicted by the British about two hundred years ago for non-payment of rent. They finally settled down here in the swamps of Louisiana and these days they survive by eating bugs off the bottom of the bayou (the bugs are called "cray-fish", I think.) They also sell recordings of themselves tuning up their violins and accordions to tourists for sixteen dollars a CD; they call it "folk music" but it's all a big scam, you can see why the British threw them out.

Anyway, this "Cajun" sub-culture provides the perfect setting for a series of regional mysteries. These Cajuns live right here in the US; they have their own dialect, their own customs, and their own folkways, and--here's the icing on the cake--they're white! (Technically.) The fact that Cajuns are technically white counts for more than you might think in the escapist regional mystery market; we don't have to worry about losing a lot of the little old white ladies in the potential mystery audience because they're scared of people of color, get me?

I smell big money here--BIG money! So here's my first effort. Remember now, it is only a first effort--I have trouble getting the local "French accent" right; it's not the classial "Parisian" French I was exposed to during my time at the Sorbonne. But it doesn't matter, the locals can't speak good French either. What matters is: local color, regional flavor, authentic folkways trivia, combined with a good ol' rattling mystery to keep them reading. Here goes:


"The Riddle of the Swamp"

Sheriff Pat Fontenot scratched the stubble on his chin and studied the body on the floor. How had it happened? One moment, old Tante Pa had been so full of life, so merry--and now, she was so dead. Sometime late the previous night, someone had broken into her rattle-trap old shack out on the Bozeau Bayou and put a live alligator up her nightdress. She lay on the floor, half-eaten, her pitiful remains encompassed by a half a chalk outline.

The only possible suspect was a mysterious stranger who claimed to be the victim's nephew and had been the only person in the cabin with her the night before. No one could ever recall Tante Pa mentioning a nephew before, and the stranger had just arrived in these parts without any references. But the fellow claimed to be a Cajun, and thus above suspicion. It certainly was a puzzler.

"Really, Sheriff," sneered the stranger. "This is all very inconvenient. I have tickets for the opera this evening, can't I be allowed to go now?"

"You 'jus hold on dere," said Sheriff Fontenot. "I sent for Thibodeaux and Boudreaux, da famous Cajun "Coon Ass" detectives. Dey sho' gonna be able to shed some light on the sit-chee-ation, dat for sho'."

"But Sheriff--"

"You jus' hold yo' water, dere, mistah!" He pointed at a pile of sticks sitting in the middle of the swamp, about fifty yards away. "Dey live jus' next to dat beavah lodge right deah. I tink dey sub-let their house from da beavers. And I sent fo' dem six hours ago, so dey should be here any minute now.

Sure enough, at that very moment the soft "put-put-put" of an outboard motor could be heard as the pirogue of Thibodeaux and Boudreaux pulled up to the shack. (Actually the two had no outboard motor, but Boudreaux insisted that Thibodeaux imitate the sound of an engine whenever they crossed the bayou because it made him feel like he was poling faster.)

"Eee-yaw, Sheriff!"

"Ai-ee-yow, Boudreau!"

"Ai-ee-yaw, Sheriff!

"Eee-ooo-yaw, Thibodeaux!" said the Sheriff, helping them tie up the pirogue to the shack. "I show hope you two fellers can hep me solve dis heah mystery, fo' sho!"

"Me either," said Thibodeaux, taking a long pull from a gasoline container and then passing it to Boudreau. "Now wheah dis fellah who say he Cajun?"

"That would be me, sir," said the stranger, straightening a pleat in the trousers of his Versace suit. "Ee-yo-wah, gentlemen. I assure you that I am indeed an Acadian."

"We gonna be da judge of dat," said Boudreaux, seriously.

"Dat fo' sho," added Thibodeaux. "Now tell us wheah you was when da moider was committed. We know from yo' story whedda you real Cajun or not."

"My alibi, you mean? Certainly, gentlemen." The stranger straightened his tie and began his tale. "I was nowhere near the scene of the crime. I was home at the time--taking a nice hot bath in my bathtub, which is indoors, of course. In between washing myself (with soap) I was mentally calculating the monthly payments on all my gold and platinum credit cards. I have a fine credit rating, you see, and I often do math in my head to calculate the payments. Just then, the telephone rang--I must keep a phone handy because I have a regular job, you know. In this case, the caller was my wife--she was calling about our son, the college graduate. We only have one child, not the usual sixteen, since our religion permits us to use birth control. Anyway, my wife, who is not my first cousin, told me--"

"Stop right deah, mistah," snapped Thibodeux. "Arrest dis man, Sheriff. He ain' no real Cajun."

Mystery: How did Thibodeaux know that the stranger was not a real Cajun?

Solution: He didn't. Thibodeaux was not referring to the stranger when he said "Dis feller 'ere ain't no real Cajun." Thibodeaux was referring to Boudreaux, who WAS in fact a real Cajun. But Thibodeaux like to give old Boudreaux a hard time about "not being a real Cajun" ever since Boudreaux threw away his corn cobs and bought a roll of toilet paper.