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Posted January 30, 2006
Kodak Non-Moment

The photos of Prime Minister Bush with Jack Abramoff "not relevant"? I'm surprised that other progressives have yet to zero-in on the Absolutely True® reason for the withholding: Bush and Abramoff can't be photographed together. Because they are the same person.

Think about it: is there any proof of Bush and Abramoff ever being in the same place, at the same time? There are none! Only so-called "eyewitness" accounts.

It's the reason Poppy Bush has two middle names, but Dubya only has one--or so we are allowed to think. His full name is "George Walker Abramoff Saud Bush." He is the product of an ambitious Truman-era UNESCO project to encourage greater international understanding through creation of a bio-engineered transcultural politician: the WASP/Jewish/Arab/Texanecticut hybrid.

But for Bar Bush's fondness for vodka martinis with Thalidomide-stuffed olives, the plan would have succeeded.

Overheard in Fremont (Jan. 13)

Guy: ...we've gone out to dinner a few times. And she chokes, like, every time. I want to tell her-- Take. Smaller. Bites!

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Posted January 27, 2006
Big News Week in Review

The Washington State Senate just passed the gay rights bill, the P-I reports it has been sent back to the House and will be signed by Gov. Gregoire Tuesday. A little-noticed provision of the new law will prohibit Rev. Ken Hutcherson forever.

Supporters of an imperial presidency are claiming a new precedent: margarine. That's right. Legal scholar Adolph Frandle of the Heritage Foundation claims that all George W. Bush needs to do to assume the crown of absolute monarch is to have Imperial Margarine on his morning toast. Frandle points to the obscure reign of Emperor Joe "McHale's Navy" Flynn, who ruled for 35 minutes during 1964, in the opening days of the British Invasion.

Prime Minister Bush may not have seen "Brokeback Mountain," but somebody at the White House has. This afternoon, spokesman Scott McClellan asserted that neocon rent-boy Jeff Gannon had failed to return his White House-issued Loews Cineplex matinee pass.

The Washington Post reports that 76% of Americans believe the White House should release Abramoff records. The admitted felon cut three records on the Epic label from 1970 to 1974, the first described by Rolling Stone as "a polished debut by a future king of rock." None were released due to a rights dispute between Abramoff and his former band, Paul Revere & The Raiders ("Indian Reservation").

Finally, memoirist James Frey has been exposed as a novelist, and publicly beheaded by Oprah on national TV. In a related story, Frank McCourt has admitted he is in fact a Cuban refugee who has lived mostly in the Miami area. "I don't think I've ever seen a lump of coal in my life," said the Angela's Ashes author, "aside from the ones on grills at Dolphins tailgate parties."

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Posted January 25, 2006
"I say, you're doing a jolly good job, Brownie"

Now that Dubya has tipped implementation of his strategy to merge the Executive and Legislative branches, it's time to revise our political lexicon.

By asserting he is free to "shape" the meaning of laws, and exceptions to laws, in order to suit his own agenda, he will be taking on a legislative role.

The time has come to start calling Bush what he is: Prime Minister Bush. He is a head of government in effective control of the Executive branch (by manipulating Florida and Ohio) and also the Legislative branch (by manipulating Texas redistricting). Now he is seeking to get this power grab recognized as the accepted interpretation of Article II of the... whaddaya call it? Right, the Constitution.

Naturally, Congress must now be referred to as Parliament. Unfortunately there is almost no chance it will be funkadelic.

And it won't be entertaining, as it is in Britain, since no way is Bush going to subject himself to the whole PM's Question Time ritual. Instead, he'll send Scott McStonewall to McClellan the questions.

Other nomenclatural changes necessitated by this shift in governance:

  • The Oval Office will be known as the Throne Room.
  • Laura is the Consort.
  • The Supreme Court becomes the High Court, to the delight of Clarence Thomas.
  • Justices become Knights Bachelor, which should please John Roberts.
  • During his annual physical, whoever administers Prime Minister Bush's urine test is the Privy Counselor.

    Also today: The P-I agrees with me: Hire The Temp

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    Posted January 24, 2006
    El Presidente

    Congratulations to Nick Licata, the new President of the Seattle City Council. Finally, it's Greenwood's chance for absolute power! Our freedom-loving forces are interested only in maintaining civil order and defending the strict minimum of 12 comfy-cozy independent neighborhood coffee shops per square mile. Rumors that Greenwood is moving to solidify long-term power are unfounded, it is our intention to hold democratic elections and relinquish control as soon as possible.

    We will fight on the beaches! We will fight in the bustle in your hedge-rows! We will fight them at Leilani Lanes! We shall never go condo!

    But seriously, what we need now is to get terrific, seasoned, non-Greenwoodian Dolores Sibonga into the Compton seat.

    Also: Insight mag (!)- White House bracing for impeachment hearings

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    Posted January 23, 2006
    What the heck is Dori Monson doing in New Hampshire?

    ap photo Welcome to the Hotel California Agitator. When starting your fledgling property rights group, always remember to run the copy through the spell check. Because custom printed t-shirts aren't returnable.

         Activists angered by a US Supreme Court ruling that homes can be demolished for public developments are trying to seize the home of one of the judges involved.
         About 60 people rallied in the small New Hampshire town of Weare on Sunday, where Justice David Souter has a house.
         ...Campaign organiser Logan Clements, from Los Angeles, told supporters in Weare the Supreme Court had "shot a hole in the [US] Constitution". Source

    I could have bought it if the so-called Committee for the Preservation of Natural Rights had used the olde-style spelling defferts, but really--"deserts"? Did they ride busses to the photo op?

    Homophonia

    Something's missing. Hey, isn't the name of the right-of-center Canadian party "Progressive Conservative"? So why does Big U.S. Media drop the P-word? Will Brit Hume's head explode if he has to say the full name? "Cognitive Dissonance Tragedy Strikes Fox News Studios. 100s dead in gasbag explosion..."

    New! From "R-Tel"! It's R-Rockin' Classics of the 70s, 80s & '90s! Get this 2-CD set of your favorite Neocons singing their biggest Neocon hits! Order now and you'll get:


    Still Nixon After All These Years
    G.W. Bush

    Walk On the Wild Side
    Ann Coulter

    Listen (Flower People Dissenters)
    Wire Tap

    Freeze Frame
    They Might Be Photos

    Cold As Icecaps
    Gale Norton

    Casino Royale
    Jack Abramoff

    Hanging On The Telephone
    Bill O'Reilly

    Who Are You
    Scott McClellan

    Lies Lies Lies
    Rush Limbaugh and Daryn Kagan

    Don't You Want My Baby?
    Human Life League featuring Randall Terry

    Here, There and Everywhere (WMD)
    Donald Rumsfeld

    You Don't Have to Renounce Torture (To Be in My Administration)
    Condoleeza Rice & Billy Davis Jr.

    Tumbling
    Dice
    Bill Bennett

    And many more!

    Today in Economic Development. I am anticipating an announcement that Ovaltine is moving to the Big Easy. Will Bush dedicate the State of the Union address to Bill Ford?

    "You and your bump"(!?)

    Fun with Search/Replace. Go to the P-I's editorial, on Greg Nickels's fire station renovation plan running up unanticipated costs, and replace "fire" etc. with "light rail" etc. It still makes sense. Does the P-I have a Nickels Template?

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    Posted January 19, 2006
    Rye on rail, hold the mayo

    This morning's KUOW coverage of the launch of Sound Transit's Beacon Hill drilling machine contained a subplot concerning minority subcontractors on the project. Specifically, the low numbers thereof.

    Eddie Rye Jr., Rainier Valley community activist and businessman, says the tunnel contractor, Big Drill maker Obayashi, has not fulfilled promises made to African American-owned businesses in the community:

    They have reneged on all the commitments they made to the Black community and to the businesses in our community. They have told one lie after another, it's unacceptable. We're taxpayers. We're tired of being left out of the economic pie.

    Then followed an unbelievable quote from local Obayashi official Paul Zick who, according KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher, says the tunnel work requires services the Black-owned businesses can't provide.

    "What we are doing now is the tunneling and shaft-sinking, which doesn't lend itself to a lot of the businesses, that they have to offer," Zick said (in a monotonous cadence, hoping to cause all listeners to ignore the rest of what he had to say. I have in mind 1970s game show fixture Wally Cox). No qualified applicants???!!! That's the oldest excuse in the book where systematic bias is concerned.

    So what kind of work can Black-owned businesses do? Fletcher reported Zick as saying that, after the tunneling is finished, there would be paving and landscaping to do—plenty of Black contractors in those lines of work, he says. So, the manual crafts.

    In two years Zick will be explaining continued low numbers of African American subcontractors this way: "Everyone knows it's Orientals who do the best landscaping work."

    Hill Drill KUOW
    African Americans: 9% of contract hours

    Remember, my bud Hayley Blackwell-Olsby has a singing gig tonight from 7:30 to 10:30, at the Maddox Grill & Bar, 18411 Highway 99 in Lynnwood. Stop in for some jazz and R&B, and what appears to be good comfort food.

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    Posted January 18, 2006
    Mr_Network

    I am pleased to announce that Mr_Blog is exploring a joint venture with media giant Time Warner/CNNNBC/Weekly Reader/MAD. The proposed format will be fast-paced, text driven news/opinion channel, an exciting programming lineup full of hip hosts spouting hip references. Let's take the new format out for a test-drive.


    Coming Soon to a World... Mr_Network !


    "Iron Congress" (Mon-Wed-Sat, 10/9c)
    President Pro Tempore: And the secret ingredient is: ARCTIC DRILLING!
    Fukui: Wow, who would have thought that?
    Hattori: Yes, protecting the wildlife refuge is well-established policy.
    Fukui: The clock is started, and the Arctic Drilling Battle is under way! Iron Senator Ted Stevens leads off, it looks like he's adding an unrelated provision to a defense bill.
    Hattori: Arctic drilling in a defense bill? That's a strange combination.
    Fukui: That's a rider for you. Over on challenger Maria Cantwell's side, she isn't wasting any time. Is that what it looks like?
    Hattori: I think so, it looks like a filibuster threat.
    Ohta: Fukui-san?
    Fukui: Go ahead.
    Ohta: It seems Senator Cantwell is creating a coalition with moderate Republicans, and I can confirm it does include a filibuster threat.
    Hattori: For some extra zest.
    Fukui: Back on Iron Senator Stevens's side, he's bringing out a large container of- WHOA, what is THAT?
    Hattori: I don't know, but it really stinks.
    Ohta: Fukui-san?
    Fukui: Yesss!
    Ohta: The Iron Senator is now mixing rhetoric and threats of political payback in a Cuisinart-

    JUMPCUT


    "A Few Hours With Andy Rooney" (Sun, 7-10/6-9c)
    "Y'ever notice how dirty the streets are in Washington DC? Just look at the soles of my shoes. Old gum... a movie ticket stub... a subpoena autographed by Patrick Fitzgerald. What I really hate is going for a walk and stepping in something messy, and smelly, left behind by a lobbyist. That's why I'm glad to hear Congress has introduced legislation that would curb lobbyists. Everyone should curb their lobbyist when they're doing their business-"

    JUMPCUT


    "Inside Fastball with James Lipton" (Sat, 8/7c)
    JL: -and Rev. Pat Robertson's recent remarks regarding Ariel Sharon? Do you disavow them?
    George W. Bush: No. Thought that was like Yiddish trash-talk. Like, "may you drop dead from a stroke." That sorta thing.
    JL: I see. (makes eye contact with audience) Well. It has been over two years since the investigation began into the Valerie Plame matter, also called Plamegate. You have been accused of dragging your feet. True?
    GB: Now, heh heh, now you know that's an ON-going investigation, and it wouldn't be right to comment before Karl Rove, who I hardly know, is found INNO-cint.
    JL: I see. What about those who say you don't listen to other viewpoints?
    GB: Untrue. Just the other day I met with former Secretaries.
    JL: For 45 minutes.
    GB: Madeline Albright wouldn't get us coffee. Or take notes.
    JL: I don't think she's that kind of secretary.
    GB: Who you talkin' to?
    JL: Sorry. Not that kind of secretary, Mr. President.
    GB: Never forget that. Now, those DIP-lo-mats. Not on my TEAM. Y'see, it's like in baseball, if I let the udder team's scouts into my locker room.
    JL: I think the critics' point is that they are former Secretaries of State, and Americans, which makes them part of your team. Mr. President.
    GB: Look, the Pres'dint is like, like the Coach. That's what they call 'em in baseball. Learned about that when I owned the AS-tros. Made a lot, lotta de-CIS-ions. Hard work. Like trading Sammy A-LIT-o to the Chicago Bears. I'm like a War Coach.
    JL: This brings us to the current NSA wiretapping scandal-
    GB: Now see, I gotta jump in here. Cuz this sur-VEIL-ance program, totally legal, came about BECAUSE of the whole Valerie Plame thing.
    JL: You mean how her intelligence network was compromised?
    GB: Precis-a-mundo! Because we can't spy on 'em over THERE, we gotta spy on 'Mericans over HERE.
    JL: Uh, let's move on to the environment-
    GB: I like polar bears.
    JL: Really?
    GB: Sure. Saw those photos, of polar bears on melting ICE. Drowning.
    JL: So you now accept that global w-
    GB: Cute. Like the polar bears in the Coke ads, at Christm- at the holidays. I like Coke. Really like it. Uh, reminds me, I gotta make a phone call-

    JUMPCUT


    Mr_Network programming is made possible in part by the CUBAs, Concerned Urban Bicyclists of America, who want to give the following shout-out to motorists who are Fine And Kind Americans: "Nice going, FAKA!"
    Oh... maybe not.

    Marc Maron news: The former co-host of Air America's much-missed Morning Sedition has announced in his enewsletter that his new L.A.-based show will begin on February 13. Previous reports had the new show on KTLK. Maron also reports he will appear tonight on Conan O'Brien.

    Note to Bruce Tinsley. You think I'll start liking your allegedly comic strip just because you've made Mallard Fillmore a Veronica Mars fan? Think again.

    More Gore: Gonzales's "charges are factually wrong"
    Previously: Transcript of the Constitution Hall speech-- These claims must be rejected and a healthy balance of power restored to our Republic"

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    Posted January 13, 2006
    Spying started well before 9/11

    And still Bush failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

    t r u t h o u t
    Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11

    The National Security Agency advised President Bush in early 2001 that it had been eavesdropping on Americans during the course of its work monitoring suspected terrorists and foreigners believed to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a declassified document.

    The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.
    ...
    What had long been understood to be protocol in the event that the NSA spied on average Americans was that the agency would black out the identities of those individuals or immediately destroy the information.

    But according to people who worked at the NSA as encryption specialists during this time, that's not what happened. On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.
    ...
    James Risen, author of the book "State of War"... said President Bush personally authorized a change in the agency's long-standing policies shortly after he was sworn in in 2001. More

    Also today: Gore comes in from the cold

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    Posted January 11, 2006
    A tree falls in Greenwood

    Just down the street from Casa de Blog, an elm at the corner of 90th & Fremont was a casualty of yesterday's winds. A car was collateral damage. KIRO Channel 7 reported the elm as possibly 150 years old (the report is currently in the Video sidebar at KIROtv.com Here's a photo I took this morning, apologies for the low-light conditions.

    Look up the Bird's Eye view: search for 90th & fremont, seattle, wa at Windows Live Local

    If you're wondering after the whereabouts of Communist dictator and occasional guest blogger Kim Jong Il (Where is N.Korea's Kim? Officials hunt for clues), rest easy. The peripatetic advice-giver sends us this note:

    Tell people not to worry about me. I'm writing this message from the media tent at the 2006 People's Choice Awards! It was a great show, and I got lots of celebrity autographs. They are so friendly, willing to stop and chat with anyone about anything. Did you know, for instance, that Matthew McConaughey is an avid collector of 18th century French lingerie? Had my picture taken with Naomi, Jessica, Kelly Clarkson and Reese. I love Reeses to pieces! Watch for my photo album at Flickr, and my Hollywood trip journal will run in next week's Glorious People Magazine. -The Kimster

    Blarchives: Dear Leader by Kim Jong Il

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    Posted January 10, 2006
    Good news from Alito hearing!

    Because when you lie this big, it will just make impeachment a slam-dunk:

         He said it was "a true expression of my views at the time" when he "was performing a different role" as a government lawyer for the Reagan White House.
         He said his role as a federal judge is different since he would put his personal views aside. He added that if confronted with an abortion case on the Supreme Court, "the first question I would ask" would be whether precedence should prevail. Source

    So... when you work as a government lawyer (or, for that matter, as an federal appeals court judge), that's when you put aside your professionalism and rely on your personal views? This bipolarity in an Associate Justice is supposed to be a good thing?

    Didn't the neocons ask us not to worry about John Roberts because his legal writings didn't reflect his personal views (whatever those are)?

    Scooter gets job. If you needed somone to help you with Perjury Strategic Planning, would you take on someone with a major coverup failure on their résume? Me either. But the Hudson Institute would. Personally, I wouldn't even hire him as an executive assistant. That includes managing my calendar and keeping track of dates.

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    Posted January 9, 2006
    Selective Archive.org

    Recently I've directed readers to Adam Curtis's top-notch documentary The Power of Nightmares. Last year the three-parter—about neocons, Islamic radicalism and what they have in common—was available for free streaming or download through San Francisco-based Archive.org. The operative word is was, because Archive.org has removed the program from their site. Visit the original page's URL and you'll only find the message:

    The item is not available due to issues with the item's content. Source

    Wonder who it was who had issues. And why Archive.org caved. Maybe they're vying to host the George W. Bush Virtual(ly) Presidential Library.

    Anyway, until the neocons buy up all remaining copies you can still order it from Amazon.

    Or, watch parts 1, 2 and 3 in lo-fi Realplayer format

    As of this date it is also still available as a Bittorrent download.

    Blarchive: Two sides of the same coin
    Reflections on PON

    Also today: Bob Ney (!) will conduct House freshman orientation on ethics (!)

    Sample Question from the WAT- Wingnut Aptitude Test:

    Prophet Joel:God against those who 'divide my land'
    Pat Robertson:__________

    Answer (click-drag to reveal)--> God says 'You damn kids, get off my lawn!'

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    Posted January 5, 2006
    To whom it may concern

    Dear President Bush George:

    Just a quick note to let you know we're all thinking about you, and to ask how you're holding up during these trying times.

    I know crafting restrictions on Constitutional rights is hard work, so in the interest of personal sacrifice, some of us here have come up with a list of rights that we don't think anyone will miss. Hope you find it helpful.

    The 1st Amendment
    The weather is lousy right now, so we can forgo freedom of assembly from November through April.

    The 2nd Amendment
    Since you're into Total Information Awareness, why not close the gun show loophole? Anyway, liberals aren't the ones you need to be worried about on this one.

    The 3rd Amendment
    I have an extra room in my house big enough for maybe three or four soldiers. As long as I get the Halliburton price on the rental contract, I say bring em on!

    The 4th Amendment
    Two words: Teachers Lounge. Didn't you always wonder what went on behind that door?

    The 5th Amendment
    Do they have a new album out? If it has to be '70s lounge music, I guess my preference at the moment is toward Burt Bacharach. I know it's not trendy right now to like him, but I'm talking about the original recordings of songs like Look Of Love or San Jose. You see where Caetano Veloso gets it.

    The 6th Amendment
    We've all been paying Jose Padilla's room and board since '02. Indefinite incarceration? Sounds more like a think-outside-the-box housing program.

    The 7th Amendment
    Juries of our peers??? We don't want our fates decided by people too dumb to get out of jury duty. Instead, get Beverly Hills High grad Jack Abramoff to make some calls to Hollywood--if I go to court I want my case deliberated by the judges from American Idol and America's Next Top Model.

    The 8th Amendment
    It depends on how you package it: It's not cruel and unusual: it's bondage and discipline.

    The 9th Amendment
    If you're running the government like a company, the 9th is a contractual   escape clause you can drive a truck through.

    The 10th Amendment
    The states? Give us a break, some of those are Blue! And the people? 51% of them didn't even vote for you.

    More later.

    Griles did a heckuva job too:

    Mine safety official was mining industry lobbyist (see 3/01)
    "Poster child for corporate influnce"
    Griles heavily connected to Abramoff,
    "committed" to blocking casino
    Safety whistleblower harrassed, demoted, transferred over $23 in ATM fees
    Spadaro on DNow
    PEC Griles log
    MSHA information blackout
    Labor Dept opposition to vigorous safety regulation

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    Posted January 3, 2006
    All the news that wasn't

    During my 10 days off I took a break from detailed news-surfing, relying instead on NPR and the major daily papers.

    Now that I'm back in the news groove, some important stories seem to be missing; where the heck are these headlines from the past week?

    Should we talk about the weather?
    "FEMA leaps into California floods with cat-like agility"


    Should we talk about the government?
    "DHS goes to Orange, terrorist message traffic may signal threat to New Year's festivities"
    "Bush spends plenty of time on this Bin Laden"


    Snoopgate:
    "NSA links Mariam Abacha to AOL account, takes bite out of spam"
    "NSA gives Fitzgerald tapes of all White House phone calls since Sept. 2001"


    Media:
    "Bill O'Reilly files FOIA request, seeking tapes of own phone calls"


    And locally, where was this headline?
    "Mayor cancels Garbage Police, instead adds program to make disposal of household hazardous waste less difficult"

    The News Hole. One thing that actually happened on December 31: At around 10:02 PST (12:02 CST) I heard a Fox Radio anchor ask a field reporter about the celebrations in the Big Easy,

    Anchor: We've heard New Orleans is going to drop a Gumbo-ball—where is that located?

    Field guy: Correct, that's at the Jax Brewery, where President Bush gave his speech-

    The Fox universe really does revolve around the Dubya.

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    Posted January 2, 2006
    Munick
    (or Little Drummer Boy)

    Munich, Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zorer, Geoffrey Rush, Gila Almagor, Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric, Marie-Josié Croze. Screenplay: Tony Kushner. Director: Steven Spielberg

    George W. Bush always rushes to the 9/11 reference in the first 30 seconds of any of his works of fiction. That Steven Spielberg delayed a New York skyline shot of the World Trade Center until the last scene is the only thing resembling praise that I can offer to his new film, Munich. Otherwise, the auteur who gave us a DVD of E.T. with the guns digitally removed has created a story of Israeli vengeance for the 1972 Olympics massacre that is three hours of relentless, slavish attention to gore, with measures of simplistic politics and misogyny thrown in.

    The film opens with the Black September terrorists infiltrating the Olympic Village and bloody seizure of Israeli athletes. One of the millions of people watching the ensuing standoff and airport massacre on live worldwide TV is Avner Kauffman (Bana), who we discover is a low level Mossad agent. Avner is picked to head a small, off the books team to hunt down those responsible. Golda Meir is portrayed as deciding to proceed with the operation after only minimal consultation with her officials, and basically decides Revenge goes against everything we stand for. What the hell, let's do it anyway.

    Avner is given a list of 11 target names. These are the evildoers, go get 'em. Where did the names come from? How do we know they are involved? That's not in Tony Kushner's screenplay. Maybe it wasn't in the source material, Vengeance by George Jonas. But that doesn't stop Kushner from making up other stuff later. Avner dutifully goes off to Europe, opens a Swiss bank account and assembles a team of four cinematically-interesting personality types. There's the Volatile Aussie (Craig), the Sensitive Bombmaker (Kassovitz, Amelie), Carl the Pro (Hinds, HBO's Rome), and the Les Nessman Guy (Zischler). The only character missing from this formula is B.A. Baracus (Mr. T). The team quickly bonds, although the only evidence Kushner provides is the cheap montage trick: the spies have dinner, and their words are covered by John Williams's score. Can you believe it? A Spielberg movie and we're shooting a montage, they might be saying.

    The Israelis plan and execute a series of travelogue surveillances and assassinations, which are admittedly exciting. In Italy, they shoot a Palestinian poet. In Paris, an urbane political organizer is bombed. At first they take pains to avoid bystanders, but later they become more casual. The pressure of deep cover takes its toll. Some team members question the accuracy of the information they are receiving from a mysterious Frenchman (Lonsdale); they wonder whether the list of 11 suspects is accurate; the Bombmaker sees a fundmamental conflict between the mission and core Jewish values; American interference is hinted but melts away.

    This is very old ground, and frankly I'm shocked that reviewers haven't compared Munich unfavorably to earlier films which handled similar themes in a more nuanced and multilayered way, especially screen versions of John Le Carre's Cold War stories The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Smiley's People, and Little Drummer Girl. When the time comes for Avner to trust no one, he searches his own room a la Coppola's The Conversation.

    Munich suffers by comparison. In one absurd sequence, Avner's team finds their safe house has been doublebooked, and the other "guests" are Arab terrorists. The Israelis play it cool, pretending to be Euro-Reds. It's a setup for a completely unbelievable and probably made-up conversaton between Avner and the lead Arab, Ali, in which each man gives the audience a Cliff Notes version of the two sides of the Palestinian conflict. It's a cheap and easy way to provide "balance," and isn't necessary; Spielberg and Kushner take plenty of opportunities to show the development of Avner's doubts over his mission and the morality of his actions. It's the collective Israeli story, and there's no dramatic need for a statement of Arab grievances. Anyway, actions speak louder: Avner and team soon gun down Ali during a botched operation.

    And let's not forget Munich's one- and two-dimensional portrayal of women. In this story, women are only mothers, whores or Golda Meir. The audience is expected to think Avner's inner conflict is complex, but then his wife is a mere receptacle when he returns to her after two years—her role is to be the soothing nurturer. The time apart had no effect on her?

    Perhaps the most objectionable sequence involves the team's brutal reprisal killing of a female assassin (Croze). She is supposed to have been oh so clever enough to trap and kill one of the Israeli team, but her self-defense strategy consists of dropping her robe. They shoot her anyway, and in a lingering shot leave her splayed, naked, on a chair.

    These depictions of women were adapted by the author of Angels in America?

    And then there's that closing shot of the Twin Towers, screaming Hey dumb-ass! 9/11, Munich? Munich, 9/11? Get it? Can there be that many aliens who have just arrived on the planet? E.T., maybe?

    Star rating: 2.5 out of 5, minus .5 for the montage, total 2 out of 5

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    February 02, 2006 - 18:31
    Subject: Big News Week in Review

    Future King's Ire Spreads
    Over Margarine Company's Claim
    By Thurston Langston (BVD)

    SOUTH YORKFORDSHROPSHIRE, ENGLAND (AP):
    In what some say may be the beginnings of a drawn out legal battle, Prince Charles, possible future heir to the throne of England, lambasted Imperial Margarine Company claims that their product is "fit for a king."

    "Rubbish," replied his almost royal highness, "as a member of a family that has dominated over a historically imperialist nation, I can assure you their claims are baseless. This tripe passing for a kingly sustenance? Ha. These declarations are as flimsy as the tubs they are served in."
    When asked about his son William's appetite for the said spread, Charles, former husband of the long dead Princess Diana, dismissed the idea, attributing it to the "munchies." "Besides, he's not really even a prince yet, and he might not ever be if he doesn't watch his step," continued Prince Charles, former brother-in-law to Duchess gone Weight Watchers pitch-woman Sarah Ferguson.
    The Imperial Margarine Company, however, stood by their advertising slogan.
    "Who's to say what margarine is and isn't fit for a king," answered Paul Bayer, spokesman for the margarine maker. "Maybe we don't mean king in a royal sense, maybe we mean it's fit for someone like Larry King or Don King or even Elvis Pressley," Bayer added. But when pressed on the advertisement's intentions, taking into account the use of a purple cloak and velvet crown, Bayer may have attempted to cover his tracks.
    "Maybe we do mean it in a royal sense, but it doesn't necessarily have to reflect the tastes of the British crown, I've never seen any of the British royal family dressed in a purple cloak and velvet crown. Perhaps it's fit for the king of an empire that no longer exists? If that's the case, then who can say whether that king would have preferred Imperial Margarine."
    "I can," snapped Charles when told of Bayer's remarks. I can tell right now, without being crowned."
    While the war of words heats up between the Prince and Imperial, legal watchers are already evaluating each side's arguments. Edmund Lear, Yorkfordshropshire barrister, believes Prince Charles may have a tough time disclaiming Imperial Margarine.
    "While most would agree that the Prince has a keen taste meticulously shaped through centuries of inbreeding, his case is dramatically weakened by the mere fact that he is not a king, and may never be a king due to his indiscretions as concerning the rules of royal coronation."
    This is the point that many believe could prove the biggest obstacle for Charles and, at the same time, the biggest boon for Imperial.
    "Hey, we didn't say our margarine was fit for a prince, no, we said a king," said an unnamed attorney for Imperial.
    But Sir Owen McKornurts, spokesman for Prince Charles, said that despite the Prince's non-kingship he remains steadfast.
    "The Prince, and I dare say myself and the majority of the gentlemen and ladies of court, believes th

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