Friday, April 28, 2006

Theater: The Story of the Sphincter--With Photos!

It’s easier for me to tell the story if I pretend I’m pitching the play to a boardroom full of theater big-shots. So pretend you’re a fly-on-the-wall or the kid who’s delivering the donuts or something, and you’re in this boardroom with all these immortals of the theatre, and I come in, all sweaty, necktie loose around my collar, high on coffee and adrenalin, this ragged draft of the script in my shaking hands, and I start gesticulating wildly and spitting when I talk, I’m so excited. And I start in:

ME: It’s colossal, GBS! It’s stupendous, Tennessee! The yokels have never seen anything like it! It’ll melt their socks off, they’ll shit their pants, Mr. Shakespeare!

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW: Get on with it, ye great ee-jit, ya…

ME: Right, GBS! It’s the story of a man, a real man, a handsome young man—he’s an American, a real American, a dynamic young businessman on his way up in the world—he’s got everything, he’s got money, position, he’s got friends, respect, and the love of a beautiful young girl—but is he happy? NOOO! NOOOO! Like hell he’s happy! And why ain’t he happy?

SHAKESPEARE: Methinks we’ll give thee two more minutes for this tripe, thou base villain.

ME: (looking through script) Right-right-right…Okay, the reason he isn’t happy is—get ready for it—his asshole has mysteriously disappeared!

BRECHT: Lieber Gott. For dis I miss lunch mit Marlene Dietrich.

ME: Hear me out, BB! When the play starts, we see him in a proctologist’s office, the specialists are baffled, how could it happen, assholes don’t just get up and walk away—

PINTER: We might.

ME:--Bob (that’s the character’s name) is humiliated, he’s devastated, he’s ashamed! He doesn’t want anybody to know. He’s got to have surgery in secret, for Chrissakes, just so’s can shit through a new hole the docs cut in his ass! They have to fit him with a cork. Imagine the shame, gentlemen, the shame—

TENNESEE WILLIAMS: Ah’m ashamed just settin’ heah listenin’ to it.

ME: So you can imagine how young Bob feels then, Tennessee! Next scene: his honeymoon, Miami Beach. He’s got a gorgeous new wife, she loves the hell out of him. But is he happy?


ME: A-ha! I gotcha! You’re all “hooked” now, eh? That’s right, he ain’t happy, he’s sitting on the wedding bed, bawling away like a baby. But his wife says it’s okay, she still loves him, they’re gonna have a great life together, cork in his ass or no! Then we go to—let’s see—then we go to—

O’NEILL: --to the bar. I need a drink.

ME: No, no, not yet! It’s years later—they gotta baby—the TV comes on, FLASH! Big news story from one of those A-rab type oil sheikdom in the Middle East. And the headline reads: “Talking asshole appointed US ambassador!” We see it, gentlemen! It’s a little out of focus, but we see it—his escaped, talking asshole has indeed been appointed the US ambassador!

AESCHYLUS: A heppy ending. (rising from chair) Vell, den, ve can all go home--

ME: No, wait—there’s more! It’s months later and Bob still hasn’t adjusted! He’s off in the woods, with one of those men’s groups, one of those men’s retreats where middle-class white guys dress up in animal skins, bang on drums and howl at the moon and try to get in touch with their primitive manliness!

ME: Think of the visuals, Mr. Reinhardt! Think of the production values, Mr. Belasco!

BELASCO: Think of the time, Mr. Prendergast.

ME: They try to help him deal with the cork up his behind and his missing asshole, but it’s no good! He’s more ashamed than ever! He goes to bed that night, and here’s the big dream sequence (you’ll love this, Mr. Strindberg) and he’s having nightmares! Nightmares about inadequacy! There’s a babe in a bikini with a gun, she wants to sex him up and down the wall, but he can’t get it up, he’s afraid the cork will come out of his ass!

ME: Then he’s attacked! Vicious little raccoons, sea raccoons with fangs, they fly in and start ripping his throat! Deep psychological stuff, right, Mr. Strindberg? And then, a montage—

AUTHOR OF ‘EVERYMAN’: Oh, Jesus, joy of Man, take pity on us—

ME: Yes, a montage: it’s all over the news, twenty-four/seven—Sphincter gets the Republican nomination, Sphincter running for President, Sphincter ahead in the polls! Sphincter denies cocaine allegations, Sphincter went AWOL during ‘Nam! And finally there it is, big as life—US Supreme Court makes Sphincter President!

AESCHYLUS: Hokay, den, heppy ending. Put me down for five drachma, I go home now—

ME: Naw, it’s just the intermission! Then the audience comes back—

IBSEN: Like hell day do!

ME: --and they see his wife is cracking up, too! She’s going to a psychiatrist, a shrink! This marriage is in trouble, that’s how we get the women in the audience, see? The female perspective, see? And then: September 11th! Planes are hitting the World Trade Center! It’s chaos! Thousands dead! President Sphincter comes on T.V., he calls for courage, and then he announces that he’s going to defeat terrorism by invading Uruguay! Only he can’t pronounce Uruguay! The Sphincter bursts into flames, live on T.V. Now he’s “a flaming asshole,” see?

CHEKHOV: Ah. The work is autobiographical.

ME: Heh, heh, good one, AC. Anyway—Now Bob is pretty sure President Sphincter is really HIS Sphincter. He goes to see his attorney, his attorney says they can negotiate a big money settlement for his lost asshole, and, to show Bob why he’s the perfect attorney to represent him, to show him he can trust him to be “discrete”--this attorney sucks himself off!

ARISTOPHENES: (does spit-take with wine)

ME: Right on stage! It’s never been done before, it’ll be sensational!

WILDE: Wait, gentlemen. The boy begins to interest me. Pray continue.

ME: Thanks, OW. But the whole deal falls apart when the Sphincter’s PR man, a “Karl Rove” type, lets on that he’s got pictures of the attorney sucking himself off. They’ve got Bob over a barrel, he’s got nothing, and then: the worm turns! Bob threatens to go public with everything, expose the whole Sphincter scam and turn the country upside down! He’s got them shaking in their cowboy boots! So they pay him off—millions to keep quiet! So Bob’s made it at last! He and his wife are on the beach at Maui, filthy rich all of the sudden, sucking up the sun! Bob is riding high on the shakedown money, he’s on top of the world! But does it last? NOOOOO!

SHAKESPEARE: If thou dost not wrap this up in ten seconds, by my troth I shall call Security and have thee ejected, thou bull’s pizzle.

ME: Home stretch, Mr. Shakespeare; the falling action. The Sphincter gets re-elected, it’s unprecedented! But here’s the killer part: all of the sudden, out of the blue—IT COMES BACK TO BOB’S ASS! One morning Bob wakes up and it’s back where it always was, right between the cheeks of his ass, no more talking, no nothing! And, at the same time, we learn that the President has disappeared from the White House! A national crisis, the public is panicky! Bob’s wife is panicky, there’s mysterious men-in-black following them around, tapping the phone, spying on the house! They want Bob’s sphincter back in the Oval Office and they’ll do whatever it takes to get it! Blackout! Then, another montage—

MOLIERE: Sacre Dieu. C’est un infame.

ME: You’re damn right it is! ‘Cause now Bob’s disappeared! His shrink has sold him out to the government! His business partner’s accusing him of absconding! The government says they never heard of him! The leader of his men’s group is stranded in the middle of the Katrina flood and is shot to death by an escaped killer dolphin assassin!

ME: Bob’s wife has given up on him and become an off-key dyke folksinger! And—the final image in the play, gentlemen—the Sphincter is back in the White House, reassuring the nation on T.V. A pulsating pink asshole, once again President of the United States! CURTAIN!

(I slam the ragged script down on the conference table. I wipe my brow, take a breath, grinning.)

ME: Well, gentlemen? Is that a story or is that a story? I tell you, they went crazy for it in New Orleans. Gentlemen? Hey, where did everybody go? (I go out into the hall.) HEY! We can do it for less than thirty grand! We’ll use smaller raccoons! Okay then, how about two hundred bucks to fix the air conditioning in the theater? What do you say?

(Some coins are thrown in my direction. I stoop and pick them up.)

ME: (putting coins in my pocket) Hmm. Three drachma. Well, it’s better than I expected. But I guess we’ll have to cut that big “All-Star Salute to Michael Jackson” number in the third act.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Theater: Ah! The Times-Picayune Review!

Always a sense of let-down when a run of your show ends. The poetic melancholy of an empty theater, old Pops the stage manager sweeping up, telling you to get the hell out there so he can turn off the lights... it's a sweet sadness... I need something to take myself out of myself... Ah! What's this? The latest New Orleans Times-Picayune--perhaps a little note on the play by their theatre critic, eh? Just the thing! Let's read it together, shall we?

"'SPHINCTER' REPORT: William Prendergast's comedy "The Sphincter" was staged at Le Petit last weekend, a work-in-progress in which a talking human anus is elected president of these United States. The play generated much laughter, along with uncomfortable silences (some from the actors), but generally impressed (or didn't) as an ambitious, under-rehearsed two-hours-plus multimedia amusement that might work as a much-shorter one-act, with fewer digressive episodes."

JESUS CHRIST! What the... Pops! Turn those light back on and go out and get me a double Margarita to go! On the double! We've got work to do! We're pulling an all-nighter!

"Under-rehearsed..." Jesus, we hardly rehearsed AT ALL, but how did HE know that?! "Uncomfortable silences (some from the actors)"... My God hasn't the man ever heard of a "dramatic pause"? He must be referring to those actors who didn't know all their lines and started reading from the script on stage... I was hoping no one would notice that... DAMMIT ALL TO HELL! I'm ruined in this town! RUINED! Now I know why the heathen rage!

Now wait a minute... wait a minute... don't panic... got to think... What would Sergeant Bilko do? Hmmm... there may be a way to salvage this review... a little judicious cutting here, a little snip here, a little snip there, and we've got ourselves a few "rave review" blurbs for the next production... Let's see...

'SPHINCTER' REPORT: William Prendergast's comedy "The Sphincter" was staged at Le Petit last weekend,

Let's cut that phrase a bit; put an exclamation point in at the end, and turn it into the first blurb:

"COMEDY!" says the Times-Picayune!"

Yes, that's better. Now to strike out that part about "a work-in-progress"; we're charging full price for tickets, so there's no need to burden the customers with THAT sort of trivia...

"The play generated much laughter," (we can use that just as it is) "along with uncomfortable silences (some from the actors)" (the hell with that, that goes) "but generally impressed (or didn't)" (strike out "or didn't" and you've got "Generally Impressed!" . Better strike out "generally," too, yes, that's better: "Impressed!" Too bad he didn't say "Impressive..."

" ambitious, under-rehearsed two-hours-plus multimedia amusement that might work as a much-shorter one-act, with fewer digressive episodes." Okay I can do something with this... think... think, Prendergast, put that incredible mind of yours to work... Okay! I got it: "Ambitious!" "Multimedia Amusement!" "Might work!" (No, take that last one out, it's a little weak.) "Fewer digressive episodes!" (Nah, that one stinks, strike that.)

Okay, then here's what we've got for the posters outside the theater next fall:

Hmm, not bad, not bad. (Too much salt on the rim of this Margarita, Pops. No tip for you this time, get lost.) Yes, I think we can live with this. But I'd like to see this critic's face when he walks by the theater this fall and sees all these "rave" blurbs, heh heh. Thank God for capital letters... Pops! I'm ready to go home now, call my car. Pops? Hello! What the devil... You'll turn those lights back on, Pops, if you know what's good for you! Do you want me to trip and break my--

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Theater: How Does An Artist Cope With A Crisis?

Well, there was a lot of good juicy stuff coming out of Washington that would have made great material for the blog. But I'm too busy; all that will have to wait til next Monday.

Because my new play is going to open tomorrow night in New Orleans and the director comes up to me tonight and tells me that the air conditioning in the theater has broken. In sweltering New Orleans. Hmm, what would Shakespeare have done?

I don't know, but what I ended up doing (as others scrambled to fix the air conditioning)was write a whole new bunch of "my dick is so big" jokes that I am now going to pass along to you, the readers of this blog, at no extra charge. It calms me down.

-My dick is so big that it has valet parking.

-My dick is so big it had to be continued on the next dick.

-My dick is so big that if I whip it out this whole room will turn pink.

-My dick is so big that no one will care if the air conditioning in the theater isn't working.

-My dick is so big that it sleeps in the bedroom and I have to sleep out on the couch.

-My dick is so big that it's represented in Congress.

-My dick is so big it has a "no smoking" section.

-My dick is so big that when I get a hard-on it rises in the east and sets in the west.

-My dick is so big that I have to fly Economy AND First Class.

-My dick is so big that it has to manufacture its own license plates.

-My dick is so big I get to park in the handicapped space.

-My dick is so big that I met it coming the other way down the street yesterday.

-My dick is so big, my urologist has to ride a motorcycle.

-My dick is so big that it's not taking my phone calls anymore.

-My dick is so big... (and here you make a physical gesture by spreadind your arms, indicating that your dick is "so big." (This is a pun on the phrase "so big."))

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Poll: Most Vertebrates Superior To Former White House Aide

A recent survey indicates that seventy-two per cent of Americans believe that “vertebrates” are superior to former Vice Presidential aide Lewis Libby.

The survey was conducted over the past two months because I didn’t feel like coming up with a new poll question for a long, long time. In fact, that poll question was up so long that one of the people mentioned in it (Andrew Card) has since been forced out of the Bush administration.

I am not going to apologize for not changing the poll question more often. I’ve been very busy lately, and frankly I’ve had more important things to do than sit around all day thinking up facetious poll questions so people like you can receive the dubious gratification of clicking on a little checkbox with your “mouse” or “touchpad” or whatever.

But this week I did happen to find the time to put up a new poll question for you to answer. So you can register your “opinion” by clicking on one of the little boxes in the survey box at the lower right of this page, if doing so means so much to you.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Theater: Announcing the World Premiere of "THE SPHINCTER"

Okay, time to plug away again. Less than a week from today (Friday) the world premiere of my latest play, “THE SPHINCTER”, will take an unsuspecting world by storm. This could quite possibly lead to the downfall and resignation of the present administration, so arrange your financial affairs accordingly next week, prior to the show’s opening.

Some of the regular readers of this column (“Prenderfans,” as they prefer to be known) were lucky enough to attend a live reading of “THE SPHINCTER” held last Pearl Harbor Day and as a result enjoyed an evening of laughter and enchantment that they will never forget. But even those magic hours of entertainment will pale when compared to the new live-on-stage, all-talking, all-memorized production that begins here in New Orleans next Friday. It’s going to have lights and costumes and sets and stuffed raccoons with fins stuck in their backs attacking the hero, and a babe in a string bikini (RAWF! RAWF! RRRRROWF!) with a machine gun and a psychiatrist in drag and everything. No one will be admitted during the terrifying “lawyer having oral sex with himself” scene!

I urge you, you reading this, to drop what you’re doing, sell whatever pitiful belongings you have and pay any price necessary to get on a plane and get down here as fast as you can so you can buy tickets and attend this play. Don’t worry about finding a place to stay in New Orleans; there’s still plenty of room at the emergency tent shelters left over from Katrina--most of the locals have already moved into their emergency trailers--so you can rest assured there’s a cot and a blanket down here with your name on it! And the food down here in N’Awlins—MMM-MMM! Even at this very moment, there’s a small army of middle-aged church ladies and idealistic young hippies with rings through their ears or noses, standing behind portable cafeteria tables with ladles in their hands, waiting to dish you out the biggest gob of mac and cheese you ever done saw in your life—ABSOLUTELY FREE, at the crisis center soup kitchen of your choice! And safe drinking water, too! As much as your poor bladders can hold!

So bring your loved ones, if you care about them as much as you say you do! Bring everyone, bring illegal immigrants, bring me your tired, your poor, your tired and unwashed masses yearning to breathe free. And bring $21.50 a piece for a ticket, too, or you’re not getting in no matter how tired and unwashed you are. Sorry to any poor people out there, but there are no “freebies” for this show; no comps, no sliding scale affordability tickets, nothing like that. We spent real money on this show and we want real money back; I paid six hundred bucks for advertising and still they misspelled my name as “Pendergrass,” so if you’re looking for a handout from me, you can just keep on looking. Keep moving, move along now, there are paying customers waiting right behind you, thank you—yes, you, sir, you with the toupee, you’d like two tickets, for you and your lovely wife? Well, whatever she is, that will be $43.00 for two tickets, thank you, move along now, yes…you, the hunchbacked old woman, how many? No, ma’am, I’m sorry, no senior citizens discount for this show, why don’t you just go down the street and sign up for the President’s new prescription drug plan, then, that’s right dear, move along, step lively now, your walker’s blocking the ticket window. Hop to it, hop, hop! Yes, you, sir, the young man with the Rolex watch, yes sir, we do accept all major credit cards, YES SIR, THANK YOU, SIR!--

That’s “THE SPHINCTER”, at Le Petit Theatre here in New Orleans, next weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, April 21, 22 and 23rd. For reservations, call 522-2081.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

International: Rolling Stones Censored By Red Chinese

The Rolling Stones have played their first live concert in mainland China and at the same time experienced first-hand the stark reality of Communist censorship. The story is told in this AP article, but it’s not the whole story.

No, I’m afraid this goes deeper than just a few “classic rock” titles banned by a xenophobic socialist oligarchy. The Chinese Government seems to have taken extraordinary measures to suppress any hint of the raw sexuality and proto-punk revolutionary sensibility that made the band so popular with young Western audiences in the Sixties and early Seventies.

Super-titles projected across the stage by the government during the performance purportedly translated classic Stones song titles and lyrics into Chinese for the benefit of the audience. But in fact these “translations” were little more than crude and overt distortions of the originals, obviously designed to suppress suggestive content and promote official government propaganda.

In many cases the altered lyrics differed so drastically from the originals that authors Mick Jagger and Keith Richard would not have recognized their own work. For example, Communist government censors translated the timeless Stones anthem “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” as “(We Are One Hundred Per Cent Satisfied With) The Pragmatic And Moderate Free Market Reform Incentives of The Courageous Heirs of Chairman Mao.” Another notorious Stones hit “Brown Sugar” (originally a song about a slaver’s desire for black women) was re-entitled “Red Sorghum” by government censors and turned into a celebration of the virtues of increased agricultural output. (“Red Sorghum/How come you taste so good?/Red Sorghum/How can we meet or exceed our production quota of you?”)

Other Stones favorites met a similar fate at the hands of Chinese censors. As unsuspecting lead singer Mick Jagger capered and preened across the stage to “Honky Tonk Women,” the Chinese titles projected above him translated the song’s title as “Women of Questionable Morality No Longer Prowl The Docks And Bars Of Shanghai (Since The People’s Revolution Drove Their Vicious Western Exploiters From Our Shores.”) When the band slowed things down a bit and went into a more soulful number, that song’s title was altered to read “You Can’t Always Get What You Want (But Bright Are The Prospects of Mechanized Farming.")

Until their Chinese concert the Stones’ most notorious experience with censorship involved Sixties television variety host Ed Sullivan. Sullivan insisted that the band would not be allowed to perform on his show as scheduled unless they changed the title and lyrics to their hit “Let’s Spend The Night Together.” The band finally agreed and performed the song as “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.” (The same song was also performed at the Chinese concert as “Let’s Spend Some Time Together Reviling the Gang of Four and The Pseudo-Maoist Excesses of the Cultural Revolution.”)

Foreign reporters were also puzzled by a Chinese “mystery” phrase that hundreds of native audience members kept shouting at the stage at regular intervals during the Stones performance. After the show the official interpreter translated the phrase as: “Calm your ass down, old man, you want to have a heart attack?”

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Media: Pioneer Press "Reader Advocate" Still Isn’t Talking

This is ridiculous.

The story so far: for months now, I’ve been trying to interest local papers in finding out whether or not Stillwater District 834 School Board Member “Choc” Junker is being treated for mental illness.

So far I’ve written to the Stillwater Gazette (former publisher of my news commentary), the Stillwater Courier, and the Pioneer Press. And so far none of these papers has been willing to touch this question with a ten foot pole; the Gazette and the Courier wouldn’t even let me raise the question in the form a letter to the editor. I've raised the same questions with Mr. Junker's colleagues on the School Board and with his son, and the only response I've received so far is one "no comment."

My latest efforts have focused on the Pioneer Press. When their Washington County education reporter and her editor refused to reply to my query, the paper referred me to their news ombudsman (known only as the “Reader Advocate.)

And now I can’t even seem to get a response from the Reader Advocate. I’ve sent two separate emails to this mysterious person and haven’t received any reply whatsoever.

In desperation, I am turning to you, the readers of this blog, and asking for your help. Would you please take a moment out of your busy day and send an email to the Reader Advocate for the Pioneer Press ( and find out if there actually is anyone there who addresses reader questions about news coverage? I’d really like to know whether there is such a person as the Reader Advocate. If you do send the email, the question I suggest sending is this one:

“Dear Reader Advocate:
I am sending this email to find out whether this is the correct email address for PiPress readers to write to if they have concerns or questions about PiPress news content. Please reply with pertinent information. Please sign your name to your reply.
Thank you.”

That’s it. The state of School Board Member Junker’s health is a matter of public concern and a legitimate subject of inquiry. I find it very troubling that a local media giant like the PiPress is unable to or unwilling to make appropriate inquiries in the public interest—or even answer reader mail. I also think it’s unfair and deceptive for the PiPress to list an email address for readers to write to with concerns about news content, and then fail to reply to such concerns.

Thanks to anyone who sends an email. Let me know (via this blog) if you get a response.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

National: Tommy, We Hardly Knew Ye

Tom DeLay is gone. Now I know why I have had a sort of "empty" feeling inside all day.

All these months he's been telling his supporters that there is no substance to the charges against him, the whole thing is politically motivated, and he'll fight on til he's vindicated. And now he just walks away?

Introducing DeLay to the "War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006" conference last month in Washington, "patriot pastor" Rick Scarborough said: "I believe the most damaging thing Tom DeLay has done in his life is take his faith seriously in the public office, which made him a target of all those who despise the goals of Christ."

But that's not what they indicted Tom for, Pastor Rick, is it? No, Tom was not indicted for "taking his faith seriously in the public office," he was indicted for "conspiracy, money laundering, and criminal violations of campaign finance laws."

I hope Pastor Rick mentioned these specifics when introducing Tom to his audience of all-too-believing Christians--but I doubt it. It seems as if one of the underlying messages sold at the "War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006" was that Tom DeLay's indictment is just one more sign that the world is going to come to an end, and soon. No need to complicate that message by introducing mundane facts about criminal law--just tell them that Tom is a Christian martyr, and then move on to "how the homosexuals are taking over America."

DeLay said today that his involvement in the Jack Abramoff corruption case had nothing to do with his decision to give up his congressional career. Do you believe him? (Laughter.)

Abramoff and two of DeLay's former aides pleaded guilty in a corruption probe and are now cooperating with prosecutors. I will "go out on a limb" here and submit to you that the prospect of listening to their Tom-related testimony over the next few months of his political campaign was "indeed a factor" in Tom's latest "big career decision."

So Tom is dropping out, throwin' in the towel, headin' for the showers. Though he still says he's innocent, Tom has chosen not to fight the good fight.

The eternal question: what would Jesus do? If there's one thing we all agree on about Jesus, it's that he didn't give up when he was picked up by "the Man." Jesus was a stand-up guy; he didn't skip out, he stuck around and faced the music even though he knew he was innocent.

DeLay comes off a bit shabby by comparison, doesn't he? Especially since he's always claimed victim status. Tom regularly insisted that he was being persecuted because of his loud and proud posturing as a pseudo-Christian statesman--he was claiming that years before he was indicted; so why quit now, when the chips are finally down? Throwing away your office rather than fighting for looks a hell of lot like an admission of guilt.

What sort of moral lesson does that impart to aspiring pseudo-Christian politicians? When going gets tough--run away? That's a lot more like Nixon than Christ.

Not too inspirational, Tom. Tough to make THAT storyline into an original TV movie for the Christian Broadcasting Network. But I'm sure the pseudo-Christian media will figure out a better way to spin it; after all, that's why they get the big money.

So don't worry about Tom. Even if he doesn't beat the rap he has a lucrative career in front of him in the private sector, posing as a pseudo-Christian martyr. Remember Watergate felon Charles Colson, Tom! He's raking it in these days, giving out moral advice! You, too, can make BIG BUCKS by starting your own prison ministry!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Iraq War: What's Wrong With This Picture?

Say, here's an interesting story that tells you something about conservative Republicans:

House Candidate Draws Fire For Web Photo

AP Thursday March 30, 2006

"SAN DIEGO - A congressional candidate is under fire for a Web site photo that purported to show a peaceful Baghdad neighborhood but was actually taken in a suburb of Istanbul, Turkey…

Internet bloggers began questioning the photo earlier this week because none of the signs was in Arabic and billboards were advertising Western products…

…Kaloogian, a former state assemblyman who founded Move America Forward to support the war and is now running for Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's House seat, took the photo down on Wednesday.”

Those "Internet" types mentioned in the story spotted some inconsistencies in Kaloogian's so-called "photo of Baghdad" and posted this on the Web:

Here’s the caption that originally accompanied the photo on GOP candidate Kaloogian’s web page:

“We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it – in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism.”

Now what’s objectionable about that caption? (Besides the grammar, I mean.) That’s right, the tone. The conservative authors of the web page would have you believe that most of the “war in Iraq is hell” stuff you see on the news is just the work of a bunch of media troublemakers, that things really aren’t so bad in Baghdad, that you can stroll down most any street in the city in your “revealing Western clothes” and go about your day as usual, buy a Turkish ice cream cone, hail a Turkish taxi, whatever.

But we know that this is not so, so is it fair to excoriate our news media for failing to include peaceful Turkish street scenes in their news coverage of Iraq? (By the way, during the brief time I was a member of the “mainstream media” I never met any reporter, editor or publisher who was “opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism.” They don’t go around “screaming and shouting” either, except about their pay.)

Anyway, pictures aren’t proof of anything, are they? I’m down in New Orleans and if I wanted to I could run a picture of the prettiest little street you ever did see, with gardens a-bloomin’ and kiddies a-playin’ and guys selling ice cream—but is that really representative of the city, these days? No sir, it is not, and I would be “telling a fib” if I put that picture up on the web to prove to you that everything is just swell down here after the hurricane and flood.

But the photo that Kaloogian presented as evidence of the good times to be had in Baghdad is nothing compared to the ones run by other Republicans. Look at these other so-called “GOP photos of Baghdad” and see if you can spot the tipoff that tells you they weren’t really taken in Iraq:

Oh, come on now. This is clearly not a photo of Baghdad. I suppose the idea that conservatives are trying to get across here is that Baghdad is so peaceful these days that everyone comes to this romantic world capital to honeymoon. But this photo is obviously faked; the Arab shepherd and his so-called "bride" are different sizes, and that's obviously the Eiffel Tower in the background; you can even see that the photographer has attempted to scratch out the word "Eiffel" in the lower left hand corner. This is an insult to our intelligence. If the GOP wants to lie to us about the war, they will have to do better than this.

Oh, please. You must be out of your mind if you expect me to believe that this photo was taken in peaceful, happy modern-day Baghdad. This is ridiculous, that's the World Trade Center in the background. The "Baghdad Loves Bush" lettering on the cake is in English, which I DON'T think a lot of Arabs speak. And look at the supposedly "Arab" children. They're not even Arabs, they look Irish or something. Where'd they get those outfits, at a costume shop? And that kid is about to cut the cake with a scimitar--no, it's not a scimitar, it's a Japanese samurai sword--this is ridiculous, it's not going to fool anyone (except maybe a Bush supporter.)

This is the worst one yet. The first tipoff that this is not Baghdad is the figure in the lower right-hand corner waving at us--that's Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is walking the streets of Baghdad? Balls! Like hell he is. And look at those signs the so-called "people of Baghdad" are carrying around. All in English! And that isn't Islamic architecture. I've never been to Disneyland, but I strongly suspect that that's where this photo was really taken. Then it was doctored up by pro-war conservatives--it's fake, fake, fake. Look at that, they even put a birkah on Tinker Bell.

What contempt these pro-war conservatives must have for our intelligence.