Wednesday, December 17, 2008
A shoe? Not bad. But surely we can do better
Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Monday to demand the release of a reporter who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush, as Arabs across many parts of the Middle East hailed the journalist as a hero and praised his insult as a proper send-off to the unpopular U.S. president. - Associated Press
A shoe is an honest choice. Civilized. Convenient. Sends a simple "you're an artless jackass, and everyone knows it" kind of message. What's more, a hurled shoe is a timeless bit of wisecrackery, sort of like a pie in the face or standing up and hurling your drink at your two-faced lover in a restaurant. Classic.
But this is Dubya we're talking about. Worst. President. Ever. Surely he deserves better. Surely he deserves something a bit more ... thoughtful? Profound? Ironic? After all, while a shoe is nice, it's also terribly cliched. Boring, even.
Of course, I officially endorse none of the following far more appropriate, delightfully hurl-able options. Do not ever throw anything at President Bush, because you could get shot or perhaps go to jail for a very long time, which, despite how you'd be hailed a hero worldwide forevermore, would just be no fun at all. Don't do it. Throwing is wrong. OK?
1) Rainbow flag
Obvious, but effective. What better way to say, "Thanks for keeping the last fundamental civil right in hateful lockdown for another 20 years by kowtowing to the sexually ignorant and the religiously malformed, you sad lump of homophobic lint."
Bonus suggestion: Attach small photo of Bush's new son-in-law and Rove sycophant, Henry Hager, to the flag. Implied rumor: Henry's secretly gay! Just like half the GOP and all televangelists and John Travolta! The AP photogs will eat it up.
Note: Be sure to fold flag tightly for ideal trajectory, lest it unravel mid-flight and accidentally land on the head of the Saudi Arabian reporter, inducing horrified screams and spontaneous combustion. No one wants a scene.
2) Book about science
Clever! Something this president has actually never seen before: A real book full of complex ideas written by people who actually understand that humans didn't ride on the backs of dinosaurs, the Earth is not a giant litter box made of Cheez-Whiz and Jesus spittle, and that the Bible is basically a violent little children's fable. Amazing. Make it a soft paperback, because those hardbacks are a bitch and you don't want to hurt anyone. Remember, science is your friend.
3) Birth control pills
Turns out those little pink plastic saucer things actually soar quite well when hurled like little Frisbees o' Female Empowerment. It's a nice way to thank Bush for sucking the sour teat of the sexist religious right and Catholic church, front-loading the nation's courts with misogynist judges and stabbing at the heart of women's rights for nearly a decade.
Alternative: Load individual RU-486 pills into a large straw and blast them at Bush's head like Divine Spitwads of Cervical Righteousness. It's more sustained fun, and might get you in less trouble overall. Don't forget to aim a few at Jenna, in the honest hope she will never, ever breed. Hey, it's for her own good. Didn't you know her husband is secretly gay? I swear I just read that somewhere.
Back in the early days of the Worst Presidency Ever, Bush used mostly Burnt Sienna with the occasional Purple Pizzazz. But lately Dubya's been turning to Mango Tango and Beaver, with a bit of Neon Carrot -- saying that one aloud always makes him giggle -- to sign all those laws, last-minute enviro rollbacks, sweetheart deals to Big Oil, final bitch-slaps and FUs to the conscious and the hopeful.
Did you know the Crayola company officially replaced Teal Blue with a color called "Wild Blue Yonder"? That makes George feel proud to be an American. He says to himself, "You think that damn Al Qaeda would ever use a color like that? You're gul-dang right they wouldn't! They're use some stupid America-hating color like Terrorism Turquoise or Suicide Bomber Sepia. Jerks!"
5) Dick Cheney
Cheney, thought to be made up entirely of black tar, razor blades and cold, glowering evil, certainly looks like he weighs as much as a tumescent water buffalo, and therefore would be just impossibly difficult to raise over your head and heave at Bush with any sort of accuracy or distance.
Turns out, however, that Dick is merely a phantasm, a collective nightmare, a little smear of something slimy and gray and unidentifiable, like you find on a dark road after it rains. Deeply unpleasant, but also nearly weightless. Easy to fling, after all! Warning: Do not to get any on your fingers or anywhere near your eyes or other mucus membranes. He may be an ephemeral hellbeast, but he's still one enormously toxic Dick
Mohamed Makhafa, a retired school teacher, says he considers the size 10s a 'medal of freedom and more valuable than everything he owns', Al Jazeera news channel reported.
Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who became famous overnight in the Arab world, had thrown his shoes at President Bush during a joint press conference of the US leader with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.
"It is more precious than all my property. I will bequeath it to my children and display it in a museum and call it the Medal of Freedom," Makhafa told AlArabiya.net.
By Pepe Escobar
In the end, President George W Bush ended up finding his weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Munthather al-Zaidi, the 28-year-old Baghdad correspondent for the independent, anti-occupation, anti-sectarian, Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya satellite channel who sent Bush a "goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people" in the form of a flying pair of size 10s and instantly achieved folk hero status all over the Arab nation and across "the Internets" (copyright Bush), with a simple, graphically impeccable gesture brought to a close not only Bush's ultra-secretive last stop in Iraq (a press conference with sometime US puppet Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki) but managed to sum up the whole Iraqi tragedy. No wonder he has been dubbed "the new Saladin" across the Arab world.
From now on three historic images will forever sum up the Bush administration-generated Iraqi tragedy: Bush's "Mission Accomplished" stunt off San Diego harbor; the "black scarecrow" figure tortured at Abu Ghraib; and Iraq's leather-soled kiss to the man who destroyed the country. The toppling of Saddam's statue in Baghdad's Firdous Square in April 9, 2003, was nothing but a staged event for US networks.
Al-Zaidi called Bush, in Arabic, at the top of his lungs, ya kalb ("you dog") - now a legendary Youtube epithet that around the world has been largely interpreted as unfair to dogs, who for all their barking do not gang up and launch pre-emptive wars that cause more than 1 million deaths and displace more than 4 million people.
Before being taken down by US and Iraqi secret service ops, al-Zaidi still had time to yell, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq," - a factual, journalistic response to the lies he had just endured from Bush, who in his prepared remarks pontificated on the "success" of the recent parliament-approved Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a "success" Bush attributes to the troop "surge".
For the record: SOFA, negotiated after an extremely turbulent eight months, rules that the US military must totally withdraw from Iraq by December 2011 (a real timeline, always fought by the Bush camp); there will be no military bases left behind; and the US military cannot use Iraq to attack Iran or anyone else. For all practical purposes - and of course barring inexorable Pentagon pressure over president-elect Barack Obama - the neo-colonial Bush war/occupation will be over by the end of 2011. Bush's White House was so exultant with this "success" that it did not even publish a copy of SOFA in English.
They hate us for our shoes. Somewhere in what passes for the deeper regions of President Bush's mind might come that reassuring giggle of a thought as he once again rationalizes away Iraqi ingratitude for the benevolence he has bestowed upon them. Ever at peace with himself, despite many obvious reasons not to be, Bush quipped, "I didn't know what the guy said but I saw his sole." But the lame jokes no longer work.
Perino showed off her shiner at today's White House briefing and joked, "The shoe check-in and check-out policy will begin tomorrow."
The shoe-heard-around-the-world is particularly ironic, because of the absolutely massive security operation surrounding Bush's trip here. On the day of the president's visit, U.S. and Iraqi troops were out in force, and patrols were stepped up in Baghdad's Sadr City to block any potential attacks against the International Zone, where the president and his entourage would visit.
Earlier this year, Sadr City served as the launching point for a wave of rocket and mortar attacks against the IZ (a.k.a. the Green Zone). U.S. and Iraqi forces reclaimed the southern quadrant of Sadr City in a brutal street-by-street fight; while that battle raged, combat engineers built a concrete security wall that effectively pushed insurgent rocket teams beyond the range of the Green Zone. After a cease-fire was concluded, Iraqi Army units were able to take up checkpoints inside the rest of Sadr City.
Still, forces were on high alert. I accompanied Lt. Col. Michael Pemrick, deputy commander of the Third Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division, as he inspected the Iraqi Army checkpoints near the security wall. He also stopped outside a few shops to chat with some young men hanging out on the sidewalk: How's security in the neighborhood? Do you have any community workers around here? Did you watch the game last night -- Barcelona-Madrid?
"You used to hear a lot of noises around Sadr City -- a lot of stuff blowing up," he told them. "You don't hear that anymore."
COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil (AP) — President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that an Iraqi journalist was acting for his country's people when he tossed his shoes at President George W. Bush.
Chavez said he doesn't favor throwing shoes at anybody, but that the incident could be called "the shoe toss of a people's dignity."
"One must remember that Bush has not thrown shoes at the people of Iraq — but bombs, death, destruction," he said.
Earlier, Chavez had a more jovial response to the incident — laughing and calling it "funny." Referring to the shoe-tosser, he said, "What courage!"
The leftist Venezuelan leader then hedged those remarks, however, adding: "At least it didn't hit him."
By Tim Butcher
Durgham al-Zaidi said he had been told his brother, Muntazer, 29, had appeared privately in the high security Green Zone in the heart of Baghdad.
"That means my brother was severely beaten and they fear his appearance could trigger anger at the court," he said.
It was not clear whether Mr al-Zaidi had been allowed any legal representation at the hearing.
Although he has not yet been formally charged it is expected he will face trial for "offending the head of a foreign state".
But legal experts disagreed on the length of sentence allowed under Iraqi law for the crime. One source said the maximum sentence was two years while another suggested is could be as much as seven.
Mr al-Zaidi has not been seen in public since he was manhandled out of the press conference where he threw both his shoes at President Bush while cursing.
Durgham said his brother was so badly beaten he had to be taken to the Ibn Sina hospital within the Green Zone for treatment broken ribs, a broken arm and facial injuries.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- The United States would have condemned the beating of Muntazer al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist who hurled shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush if that happened, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said on Tuesday.
"Obviously, we condemn any kind of unnecessary force used against the reporter. I don't know that that happened," Wood told a news briefing when asked to comment on the allegations.
"But, certainly, if that did take place, we would condemn that," the spokesman said.
Zaidi, 29, was immediately tackled by security guards on Sunday night after throwing his shoes on Bush at a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry has issued an arrest warrant against Zaidi for "committing a misdemeanor for throwing his shoes on President Bush."
"George Bush ko joote khane pare (George Bush was at the receiving end of shoes),'' read Inquilab's page 1 headline on Tuesday. Accompanied by blow-by-blow photographs of the incident in Baghdad, the report also carried pictures of the jubilant celebrations across the Arab world, where al-Zaidi has already been proclaimed a hero.
Inquilab's editorial-borrowing from a famous Urdu couplet, "Joote khakar bhi bemaza na hua (He is not ashamed even after getting beaten up with shoes)-argued that penalising the Iraqi reporter would be unjustified. The article rattled off a list of countless human rights violations in Iraq which, it said, has left most Iraqis little option but to react this way. "Muntazar's shoes have exposed the lie in the claims of George W Bush that things are normal in Iraq. If things were really normal, Bush would not have faced such humiliation,'' commented the editorial.
The Urdu Times's lead story, titled "Bush ko Baghdad mein jooton ki salami (Bush gets saluted by shoes in Baghdad)'', highlighted the reaction in the Arab world in a box. The paper quoted a statement on an Arab blog: "The shoes are better representatives of Arab public opinion than the puppets whom George W Bush meets during his visits to the Middle East.''
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