"U.S.-led coalition and Afghan troops, meanwhile, killed up to 21 suspected Taliban militants in three separate clashes in southern Afghanistan, and a roadside blast killed four Afghan soldiers in the east, officials said." NYT, Taliban to Free S Korean Hostages, 8/28/07.

Ironical Chronicle: We now kill suspects. Despite the enormous implications of this statement, the NY Times prints it without comment. Hitler suspected Jews of having caused Germany's defeat in WW1, so he killed them. Bush suspects people who live in Afghanistan of being "Taliban militants" so he kills them. I'm sure there's a difference.

September 22, 2007

Bush and Saint Peter

here's a good joke about Bush and Saint Peter going around the internet. Except the ending lets Bush off too easy.

I decided to give the story a better punch line that's more in keeping with Bush's historically low… low what? Low "popularity" doesn't capture it. Among the American people it goes from contempt to hatred. But the polls don't measure contempt or hatred of a President, just popularity, high or low. Can you imagine, during WW2, the pollsters measuring the popularity of Tojo or Hitler with the American people?

Last week we learned that expressing negative popularity through hostile questioning of a US senator will get you 50 thousand volts. So what's left of our democracy is that we can stick literary pins in a literary Bush voodoo doll as long as voodoo doesn't work.

So here's my little voodoo exercise. It's called You Can Go To Hell!.


You Can Go To Hell!

A one act play

[An embellished St. Peter joke, September 22, 2007]

(Additional stage directions and a closing line for St. Peter added at Scene 4: October 6, 2007)

Saint Peter Palmiro Togliatti
Albert Einstein Himself
Pablo Picasso Himself
Karl Marx Himself
President of the United States George W. Bush

It's a quiet morning at the "pearly gates" until …

[St. Peter is at his post tending the gate to Heaven. He takes his job seriously and, there having been a spate of imposters recently, he has become especially careful to establish the identity of new applicants before letting them enter.

On this particular day, it's been a quiet morning and he is catching up on his bookkeeping. Looking up he notices a quiet, intelligent looking gentleman before him. It is Albert Einstein. Having gotten St. Peter's attention, Einstein speaks quietly and respectfully.]

Act I, Scene 1

Albert Einstein
Einstein: Saint Peter, I request your permission to enter these gates.
St. Peter: Who are you?
Einstein: I am Albert Einstein.
St. Peter: You'd be surprised how many people say they are Albert Einstein. Some people will do anything to enter these gates. How can you prove to me that you are indeed Einstein the great physicist?
Einstein: May I have a blackboard and a piece of chalk, sir?
St. Peter: Of course. Presto! [Snaps his fingers and a blackboard and chalk instantly appear.]
Einstein: [Writing equations in compact tensor notation, Einstein quickly derives his General Theory of Relativity, proves that space is curved, E = mc2, and that energy is quantized.]
St. Peter: Bravo Professor Einstein! We are all fans of your Theory of Relativity and we especially enjoy watching the precession of the perihelion of Mercury from our privileged vantage point. I anticipate that you will point out examples of gravitational lensing for the benefit of all of us here after you have gotten settled. Welcome to Heaven!

Act I, Scene 2

Pablo Picasso
[It is a few minutes later. Pablo Picasso appears. His penetrating gaze suggests an uncanny ability to discern the essence of things and to represent this on canvas.]

Picasso: Saint Peter, I request your permission to enter these gates.
St. Peter: Who are you?
Picasso: I am Pablo Picasso.
St. Peter: Prove to me that you are indeed the great painter Picasso.
Picasso: [Goes to the blackboard, erases Einstein's equations, and in a few minutes recreates his famous 1907 painting Les Demoiselles D'Avigon in black and white.]
St. Peter: Bravo Pablo Picasso! I remember that painting well, it changed the course of art history. We are indeed honored by your presence and anticipate that you will decorate our walls with more of your great masterpieces. Diego Rivera is already here, but there is more work than even he and his assistant Frieda Kahlo can handle. Welcome to Heaven!

Act I, Scene 3

Karl Marx
[A few minutes have passed since the last applicant. Karl Marx appears. His high and wrinkled brow suggests a titanic intellectual struggle to create a theory of human history itself.]

Marx: Saint Peter, I request your permission to enter these gates.
St. Peter: Who are you?
Marx: I am Karl Marx.
St. Peter: Prove to me that you are indeed the great Political Economist Marx.
Marx: [Erases Picasso's picture and in a few minutes, using his Labor Theory of Value and the Law of Diminishing Returns proves that capitalism is doomed and will be superseded by Communism.]
St. Peter: Bravo Herr Doktor Marx, we are indeed honored by your presence. Your theory of Dialectical Materialism is widely discussed here and I am pleased to tell you that we have been practicing Communism here for a long time. We are close to perfect here, but my intuition tells me that we could use a few tweaks here and there to make things even better. Welcome to Heaven!

Act I, Scene 4

Definitely not Einstein.
[Another few minutes have passed. George W. Bush approaches wearing a flight suit, an American flag pin, and a patch that says "Mission Accomplished." Despite the get-up he looks lost. He has been unsuccessfully trying to get Condoleezza Rice on his encrypted cellphone. Angrily throwing the phone down, he speaks to Saint Peter.]

Bush: Hey Dude, I just co-piloted myself up here in my National Guard supersonic stealth jet. What was that commotion I heard here a few minutes ago? Are you Saint Peter? Have you seen Osama bin Laden? My mission is to save the Universe from the Axis of Evil. Let me in or I'll order a surge to knock that puny gate down!
St. Peter: Yes, I am Saint Peter and that "commotion" was me verifying the identity of three distinguished men, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, and Karl Marx.
Bush: Einstein, Picasso, and Marx? What football team do they play for?
St. Peter: You don't have to tell me who you are. You are George W. Bush and…

You can go to Hell!

[The stage suddenly goes black, followed by a brilliant flash of lightning which projects an instantaneous huge, hovering, and threatening shadow of a batwinged devil on the stage background followed by a tremendous clap of thunder. The stage lights slowly come back up revealing a dissipating cloud of smoke where Bush had been standing. There is a trace of sulfur in the air. Saint Peter is quietly at his desk making a notation in his record book as if nothing had happened. Bush is nowhere in sight.]

St. Peter [Addressing the audience in normal voice.]: Just another Jesus Christ imposter. We get them periodically, you know.

[The curtain comes down.]