Tuesday, September 30, 2003

And The Number One Bumper Sticker you'd Like To See

Welcome to America
...now speak Iroquois!

"The United States is putting together a Constitution now for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It's served us well for 200 years, and we don't appear to be using it anymore, so what the hell?" -- Jay Leno

Of course, now John Ashcroft's got a file on me...

Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Recently Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury was built around the results of a study that linked masturbation to lower incidences of prostate cancer in males. Even Trudeau realized that some newspapers would shy from the material.

How wrong on the count of both newspaper and cartoonist.

Here's what my local newspaper -- the Seattle Times, a union-busting monopoly-in-the-making -- had to say about its decision to not run the strip:

The "Doonesbury" comic strip has seen plenty of controversy over the years, and The Times has routinely chosen to publish it rather than second-guess its creator, Garry Trudeau. Today Trudeau offered an opportunity to sidestep offending some readers, and we accepted.

In Trudeau's original strip for today, the characters talk about masturbation. The topic was prompted by a study in which Australian scientists found that men who masturbate often in their 20s are less likely to get prostate cancer later in life.

Anticipating that some newspapers would object to the topic, Trudeau agreed to allow Universal Press Syndicate, which markets the strip, to send out a substitute. Given the choice, we decided to publish the substitute.

The original strip was relatively innocuous, but some readers would have been offended by it, especially because it appears in the mix of other Sunday comics. (The daily strip appears on our editorial page, because its content is typically political.)

For those of you who want to see the strip, it will be available today through our Web site. At www.seattletimes.com/comics you'll find a link to "Doonesbury."

The Associated Press quoted Trudeau as saying the comic "isn't really about masturbation or the cancer study as such, but about the shifting nature of taboos and the inability of two adults to have a certain kind of serious conversation."

"Still, I understand that the mention of certain words per se will not be acceptable to some family newspapers."

The Associated Press also reported Trudeau said his decision to allow an alternative strip didn't signal his intention to start supplying replacements "every time there's a chance someone might be offended."

Controversy typically hasn't prompted us to withhold a "Doonesbury" strip. We've taken heat for publishing strips about extramarital sex, homosexuality, abortion, AIDS, Watergate, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, President Bush (both of them) and more.

We've withheld the strip twice. In 1974 we dropped one that accused then-Attorney General John Mitchell of being "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" in the Watergate scandal. In 1986 we dropped a sequence called "Sleaze on Parade," which carried a long list of Reagan administration appointees the strip said were accused of misconduct in office.

We found some flaws in the list and concluded the material was beyond the realm of fair commentary.

If the syndicate hadn't offered an alternative for today's strip, we would have run the original. As it was, it seemed the strip would needlessly offend some readers, so we took the alternative. Feel free to let us know how you feel about the decision.

Inside the Times appears in the Sunday Seattle Times. If you have a comment on news coverage, write to Michael R. Fancher, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111, call 206-464-3310 or send e-mail to mfancher@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

For his part, Trudeau should have chosen to keep the strip in his desk drawer. Clearly he sought the publicity that having the strip pulled would garner. After all, he's probably lost his real edge to cartoonists like Aaron McGruder and The Boondocks. But if he himself offered an alternative strip, then he knew the strip on its own wouldn't be compelling enough for newspapers to run it despite the subject matter.

The strip, incidentally, wasn't that funny.

Got this e-mail from my college pal Brian Lehrhoff, and I'm going to make it my job over the next few weeks to track down the origin of each of these points. What frightens me is that the majority of it may be true.

*Subject: George W's Resume
The White House, USA


I spent the US surplus and bankrupted the US Treasury.

I shattered the record for the biggest annual deficit in history (not easy)!

I set an economic record for the most personal bankruptcies filed in any
12 month period.

I set all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the stock

I am the first president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.

I am the first president in US history to enter office with a criminal

In my first year in office I set the all-time record for most days on
vacation by any president in US history (tough to beat my dad's, but I did).

After taking off almost the entire month of August off for vacation, I
presided over the worst security failure in US history.

I set the record for most campaign fund raising trips by any president
in US history.

In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their job.

I cut unemployment benefits for more out-of-work Americans than any
other president in US history.

I set the all-time record for most real estate foreclosures in a12-month

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than
any president in US history. (check out their criminal records on
smoking gun.com)

I set the record for the fewest press conferences of any president,
since the advent of TV.

I signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than
any other US president in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to
intervene when corruption was revealed.

I cut health care benefits for war veterans.

I attacked and took over two countries.

I set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously
take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the
record for protest against any person in the
history of mankind.

I dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.

Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in US
history. (The poorest multimillionaire, Condoleeza Rice, has a
Chevron oil tanker named after her.)

I am the first president in US history to have all 50 states of the
Union simultaneously struggle against bankruptcy.

I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud in any market
in any country in the history of the world.

I am the first president in US history to order a US attack and military
occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against the will of the
United Nations and the vast majority of the international community.

I have created the largest government department bureaucracy in the
history of the United States, called the "Bureau of Homeland
Security"(only one letter away from BS).

I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases,
more than any other president in US history (Ronnie was tough to beat,
but I did it!!).

I am the first president in US history to compel the United Nations
remove the US from the Human Rights Commission.

I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove
the US from the Elections Monitoring Board.

I removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of
congressional oversight than any presidential administration in US history.

I rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant.

I withdrew from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to US prisoners of war and
by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.

I am the first president in US history to refuse United Nations election
inspectors access during the 2002 US elections.

I am the all-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations. The biggest lifetime contributor to my campaign, who is also one of my best friends, presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).

I spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US

I am the first president to run and hide when the US came under attack
(and then lied, saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1)

I am the first US president to establish a secret shadow government.

I took the world's sympathy for the US after 9/11, and in less than a
year made the US the most resented country in the world (possibly the
biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history).

I am the first US president in history to have a majority of the people
of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace
and stability.

I changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded
government contracts.

I set the all-time record for the number of administration appointees
who violated US Law by not selling their huge investments in
corporations bidding for gov't contracts.

I have removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any
other president in US history. In a little over two years I have created
the most divided country in decades, I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category heading straight down.


I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving
record has been erased and is not available).

I was AWOL from the National Guard and deserted the military during time
of war. I refuse to take a drug test or even answer any questions about
drug use.

All records of my tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to
my fathers library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or
bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All minutes of meetings of any public corporation for which I served on
the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding
public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public


For personal references, please speak to my dad or Uncle James Baker
(They can be reached in their offices at the Carlyle Group where they
are helping to divide up the spoils of the US-Iraq war and plan for the
next one.)

(Note: this information should be useful to voters
in the 2004 election. Circulate to as many citizens you think would be
helped to be reminded about his record.)

Monday, September 08, 2003


Survival, with honor, that outmoded and all-important word, is as difficult as ever and as all-important to a writer. Those who do not last are always more beloved since no one has to see them in their long, dull, unrelenting, no-quarter-given-and-no-quarter-received, fights that they make to do something as they believe it should be done before they die. Those who die or quit early and easy and with every good reason are preferred because they are understandable and human. Failure and well-disguised cowardice are more human and more beloved.
--Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

You could talk about how Warren Zevon died too young, or you could talk about how Warren Zevon lived his life as if he were one of Galileo's experiments on the acceleration of gravity, or you could talk about how his work was dark, or quaint, or funny.

But ultimately, you could talk about Warren Zevon forever and ever, because he had the uncanny ability to look deep inside of you and see not only your soul, but your internal organs and the connective tissue, and think how ironic it all is.

I first found Warren Zevon through the song that probably is the one his most casual fans know, "Werewolves of London." I knew he thought the way I did when I heard of how he espied "a werewolf drinking a pi?a colada at Trader Vic's," whose "hair was perfect." Later, much later, my spouse pointed out it was a metaphor, and it is, but it's still a damn funny song.

But the song that made me realize that Warren Zevon understood me was "Excitable Boy," a song both happy and repulsive all at once, just like life, and just like each of us.

Nobody saw life like Warren Zevon. I'm sure nobody will quite see the afterlife like Zevon, either.