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Review of Selling Empire: India in the Making of Britain and America, 1600-1830. By Jonathan Eacott. (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, 2016. xiii, 455 pp. Cloth, ISBN 978-1-4696-2230-9.)

Most narratives of the place of India in the making of America have revolved around a few well-worn themes, commencing with Columbus’ landing in America and his egregious error in supposing that he had arrived in India.  The first truly great milestone in the received narrative touches upon the deep-seated interest in Indian philosophy shared by Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson:  there is now a substantial interest in how India seeped into the thought and writings of the American Transcendentalists, and I myself wrote a Master’s thesis, which remains unpublished, on Emerson and Indian philosophy (Johns Hopkins University, 1982).  Those who are familiar with Thoreau, for instance, may recall the famous indeed inimitable lines in Walden about how the waters of Walden Pond seemed to merge with the waters of the Ganga:

In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat Geeta since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! there I meet the servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges. 

WaldenPond1Jan1908

Walden Pond, Concord, Massachusetts, 1 January 1908; photographer:  unknown.  Source:  Wikipedia, in the public domain.

Thoreau would also dedicate the Tuesday chapter of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers largely to a discussion of a few Indian texts from he quoted copiously.  But in all this, he had been, in some respects, anticipated by his mentor (of sorts), Ralph Waldo Emerson—whose first engagement with the ‘idea of India’ may be seen in a long poem called Indian Superstition (1821), which the young student wrote when he was but seventeen years old, and who in his poem Brahma (1856, published in 1857) showed just how far Emerson had traveled in his understanding of Indian philosophy in the intervening 35 years.  But, to return to the main subject, after some tidbits here and there, whereby Hindu mysticism, yoga, and the interest in Sanskrit among some scholars are brought into the picture, and the origins of Indian immigration into the US around 1890 are identified, the narrative of India’s place in the making of the United States generally moves to the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Gandhi nearly became a household word in the United States after the embrace of his ideas of nonviolent resistance by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other stalwarts of the Civil Rights Movement.

The terrain covered by Jonathan Eacott in his meticulously detailed study, Selling Empire, enhances enormously our understanding of how India was configured in the American imagination and economy alike, though his ambition is yet greater as he seeks to place Indian within the global British imperial system.  The backdrop to his book is furnished by a more enhanced conception of the Atlantic world and a newfound interest in Indian Ocean studies; but there is also the stimulus of what these days are called “interconnected histories”.  Scholars of Britain’s possessions in America have seldom been concerned with the second British empire of which India, in the clichéd phrase, was the crown jewel; and, likewise, studies of British India have generally been written with indifference to what was transpiring in Britain’s empire in North America.  Curiously, the two figures who have on occasion surfaced in attempts to write an integrated narrative are altogether missing from Eacott’s study:  Elihu Yale, who amassed a fortune as the Governor of Madras (1684-92) before he was dismissed on charges of venality and went on to become the benefactor of a college that would eventually take his name, and Lord Cornwallis, who, if one had to put it cynically, seems to have been rewarded for his surrender to George Washington at Yorktown (1781) with the Governor-Generalship of India (1786-93).

CIS:IS.21-1956

Painted and dyed cotton from India, 1625-1685, not for the European market.  Collection:  Victoria & Albert Museum, London.  Source:  http://demodecouture.com/cotton/

Eacott shifts the focus to the 17th and 18th centuries and his history might be described as revolving around two axes.  The question at the outset for traders, mercantilists, and financiers in Britain was:  Could America be a new India?  In what manner could one conceive of a triangular trade between India, Britain, and the American colonies in North America?  Eacott lavishes much attention on the trade in calicoes, and not only because of their immense popularity.  1750-75 banyan, painted & dyed, India (fabric). Designed for European market.

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Indian cotton fabric (banyan), painted & dyed, designed for European market, 1750-1775.  Collection:  Victoria & Albert Museum, London.  Source:  http://demodecouture.com/cotton/

There was much expectation in Britain that eventually consumers in the Americas would support the East India Company and thus support the British empire and the metropole (London) through which everything was funneled.  However, Eacott by no means confines himself to this terrain of cotton, chintzes, calicoes, silk, and woolens:  tea and spices were much in demand both in Britain and North America, but, quite unexpectedly, so were umbrellas and the Indian hookah.  Perhaps a scholar with a greater sense of play, and not so rigidly bound to the idea of what constitutes scholarly work, a scholarly ‘monograph’, and the notion of ‘historical rigor’, may have done wonders with tea and the hookah.  There are precedents, if I may put it this way, both to Starbuck’s marketing of “chai” and the proliferation of hookah bars and restaurants in recent years in American cities.

SamuelJohnsonAtTea

The English writer, Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), at tea:  a print by by R. Redgrave and H. L. Shenton. Source:  http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/04/14/398833059/tea-tuesdays-the-evolution-of-tea-sets-from-ancient-legend-to-modern-biometrics

It is, however, Eacott’s discussion of the anxieties generated by ideas of the despotic and effeminate Orient that forms the most arresting part of his book.  Montesquieu is commonly seen as the originary point of European notions of ‘Oriental Despotism’, but the satirical play, Eastward Ho (1605), gave considerable expression to the idea of Asia, “with its great wealth,” as a “place of emasculating luxury” (p. 23).  India’s manufactures, an essay in the American Magazine and Historical Chronicle in 1744 proclaimed, displayed a “gaudy pride” and needed the sobering restraint of Protestant Britain (p. 165). The sensuous, profligate, and colorful Orient is never too far away from the idea of excess.  On both sides of the Atlantic, Eacott notes, reports of Company servants strutting around on horseback and accumulating fortunes “by every method of rapacity” circulated widely (p. 305).

In his unusual attentiveness, thus, to questions both of political economy and of the politics of representation, Eacott opens for historians new possibilities of linking Britain’s first empire to the British Raj.

 

[A shorter version of this review was first published in the Journal of American History (June 2017), 173-74; doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax024]

 

 

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Nagasaki After the Bombing --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Charles Albury, posing with a picture of the B-29 bomber & its crew

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, survivor of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombings

Tsutomu Yamaguchi and Charles Donald Albury died within months of each other.  The former lived to the ripe old age of 93, and passed away in January this year; the latter died in May last year, at the age of 88.  I was reminded of Yamaguchi this month, as the bells tolled, as they do every August 6th and 9th, in remembrance of the dead at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and when, poring through my files, the obituary of Albury came to my notice, I knew at once that their stories had to be told together.  There is no other way to tell their stories, even if their lives, and obituaries, have never been linked together.

Yamaguchi and Albury never knew each other; neither was known very much to the outside world, even if their names are, or will be, indelibly sketched in history books in unlikely ways.  They ought to have known each other, all the more so since Charles Albury was dispatched to kill not Tsutomu Yamaguchi but the likes of him.  We cannot characterize Yamaguchi’s killing as a targeted assassination; some will even balk at calling it a killing, considering that Yamaguchi survived the attempt to eliminate him by close to sixty-five years and, more poignantly, outlived Albury.   Indeed, Albury would never have known of Yamaguchi’s existence when he was sent on his mission, and I doubt very much that he knew of him at all before he died.   If Albury did know of Yamaguchi, he seems never to have betrayed that knowledge or acted upon it in any way.

No bookie could have placed bets on Yamaguchi’s chances of survival and walked away with a booty.   After hearing Yamaguchi’s story, one might be a thorough non-believer and still believe in miracles.  And, then, as if Yamaguchi’s life doesn’t already stand forth as eloquent testimony to the cliched observation that ‘fact is stranger than fiction’, one is even more surprised to find the lives of Yamaguchi and Albury linked in the strangest ways.  Even the gifts of a supreme artist are likely to be inadequate to describe their association.

Yamaguchi was a 29-year-old engineer at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries when, in the summer of 1945, his boss sent him to Hiroshima on a business trip.  His work wound up in early August and he was preparing to leave the city on August 7th, but before he could do so the bomber Enola Gay dropped ‘Little Boy’ on Hiroshima and flattened the city, killing 80,000 people.  Yamaguchi survived the bombing:  he was a little less than two miles away from ‘ground zero’ when the bomb exploded, and he escaped with ruptured eardrums, burns on his upper torso, and utter incomprehension at what had transpired.  High up in the sky, Charles Albury, a first lieutenant in the United States Air Force, was in the support plane behind Enola Gay:  as Colonel Paul Tibbets released the bomb, Albury dropped the instruments designed to measure the magnitude of the blast and the levels of radioactivity.

From an altitude of over 30,000 feet, Albury would not have noticed the Japanese engineer.  Yamaguchi could not have appeared as anything more than an ant from that immense height; at any rate, it is reasonable to suppose that the training of those charged with an extraordinary indeed unprecedented mission would have stressed on the necessity of shelving aside the slightest sentiment about feeling something for the hated enemy.  Albury did, however, have the presence of mind to notice that he was a witness to a spectacular sight:  as he told Time magazine a few years ago, he dropped his instruments and “then this bright light hit us and the top of that mushroom cloud was the most terrifying but also the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life.  Every color in the rainbow seemed to be coming out of it.”  Robert Oppenheimer made a similar observation when the bomb was first tested in New Mexico:  a more scholarly man than Albury, with some inclination for such esoteric things as the Sanskrit classics, he noted that he was reminded of verses from the Bhagavad Gita when he saw the stupendous explosion – the splendor of which, akin to the “radiance of a thousand suns” bursting into the sky “at once”, turned his mind towards Vishnu.  “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds”, says Krishna (the incarnation of Vishnu) to Arjuna.  There is no reason to suppose that Yamaguchi, or any of the other victims of the atomic bombings, experienced anything resembling the beauty of a thousand suns or the most dazzling rainbows.

Unlike other survivors of the first atomic bombing, Yamaguchi had no reason to stay on in Hiroshima; he didn’t have to hunt for survivors among family or friends.  So Yamaguchi headed home – to Nagasaki.  On the morning of the 9th, still nursing his wounds, Yamaguchi nevertheless reported to work.  When his boss sought an explanation for his dressings and unseemly appearance, Yamaguchi began to describe the explosion and insisted that a single bomb had wiped out Hiroshima and much of its population.  You must be mad and gravely disoriented, said his boss:  a single bomb cannot cause such havoc and destruction.  At that precise moment, Charles Albury, co-pilot of the mission over Nagasaki, dropped the second atomic bomb, nicknamed ‘Fat Man’, over the city that had in the 19th century been Japan’s gateway to the West.  Eighty thousand people would perish from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, half of them instantly.   Yamaguchi would become, one might say, thrice born; he survived the blast.  “I could have died on either of those days”, he told a Japanese newspaper only months before he died in January 2010.  “Everything that follows is a bonus.”  A new word, hibakusha, the explosion-affected people, was coined in Japanese to describe the survivors of either atomic bombing; and yet another phrase describes the “twice-bombed” survivors, known in Japanese as nijyuu hibakusha.  Yamaguchi was the only officially acknowledged nijyuu hibakusha, otherwise believed to number around 165.  I don’t believe that there is a vocabulary in any language that can describe what Yamaguchi might have gone through.

Yamaguchi’s wife died from kidney and liver cancer in 2008.  His daughter describes her mother as having been “soaked in black rain” from the bomb.   Her brother, born in February 1945, was exposed to radiation, and would fall a victim to cancer at the age of 59.  Yamaguchi himself struggled with various illnesses but held on to life with tenacity and philosophical composure, displaying an equanimity that might explain the energy he displayed, at the age of over 90, in finishing 88 drawings of the images of the Buddha, representing the same number of temples – or stations – encountered on a religious pilgrimage around Shikoku.  Later in life, after his son passed away, Yamaguchi became an ardent critic of the nuclear race, and he denounced the obscenity of possession of nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, his mission accomplished, Charles Albury returned to the US, became a pilot with Eastern Airlines, and settled down in Florida.   He would say, when questioned, that he felt no remorse:  the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had, he argued, saved hundreds of thousands of lives, Japanese and American, lives that would have been needlessly sacrificed had the US commenced a land invasion.  We need not be detained by the fact that this argument is now largely discredited, certainly keenly contested; nor need we ask why a second bomb had to dropped at all, when the Japanese high command had been thrown into utter confusion after the destruction of Hiroshima.  In 1982, while being interviewed for the Miami Herald, Albury stated that he opposed war but would drop the bomb again if the US were under attack.  We know what such ‘opposition’ to war means.  “My husband was a hero”, Albury’s wife of 65 years told the Miami Herald after his death, adding:  “He saved one million people . . .  He sure did do a lot of praying.”  Since Charles Albury felt no reason to be contrite, one wonders why he prayed; and, if he prayed, whether he prayed that he might become a better Christian, or that the souls of the Japanese might be saved.  Still, since prayer is a reclusive matter, a form of communication between the worshipper  and the Divine, one should allow Charles Albury the privacy of his religious beliefs and practices.

The Americans vanquished the Japanese.  So goes the story.  However, pondering over the twisted tale of Tsutomu Yamaguchi and Charles Albury, I believe one can never be certain who is the vanquisher and who the vanquished.  All too often the vanquished have given birth to the vanquisher.  There are many possible readings, but when one places the stories of Yamaguchi and Albury in juxtaposition, it is quite transparent who represents the nobler conception of human dignity.  The ontology of the vanquished, as the life of Yamaguchi shows, always has room for the vanquisher; the same cannot be said for the vanquisher.  In this respect, at least, we might say that the vanquisher is always a lesser person than the vanquished.  I would like to believe that Yamaguchi crossed over to the other side with an ample awareness of this fundamental truth.

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Here is the text of President Bush’s Speech at the State Dinner in his honor at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi, 3 March 2006 (reprinted with slight modifications from OUTLOOK, Web edition, 28 February-6 March 2006 issue, where it appeared as ‘I Believe in Big Dreams’):
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Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Pakistan; Mr. Man Mohan Singh, Prime Minister; and all other Indians

(Whispers from an aide:   Republic of India, Mr. President, not Pakistan.)

I beg your pardon, ladies and gentlemen, I did mean to say the Islamic Republic of India.  I just couldn’t remember where Air Force One was first supposed to land.  I am mighty pleased to be in this great country of yours and I thank My Man Mohan for his kind invitation from the bottom of my heart.   That great state of Texas where I come from is really heart county, we’ve got very big hearts, and I believe that some of your country’s great politicians have come down there to get their hearts fixed.  Would you believe it, but surgery may also be linking our great countries together.

Now my predecessor Bill Clinton — God bless him, his family and ours are getting cosier and cosier by the day, though I do wonder if I’ll ever be able to hold Hilary to my bosom — so my predecessor, on coming to your great country some years ago, said that it had always been his childhood dream to visit India.  Now I have to admit that I never had any such childhood dream.  It’s not that I didn’t have a childhood, indeed I know that some people think I never ceased being a child.   And I do dream — that great American, King’s his name, said you should dream from the mountain-top.  And like King, I believe in big dreams.  I never had the kind of dream that Bill Clinton did because, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, I never heard of India when I was a child.  You know they say that old habits die hard, and I never did leave behind the habit of not reading books.   You all know that I don’t read much of newspapers or reports, my advisers do that.  That’s why I’m President, you see, I don’t get to read anything.  But let me again thank Man Mohan Singh.  I knew about the political dynasties you’ve had, the father-daughter, daughter-son, husband-wife, father-grandson, great great grandfather-boy teams, the Gandhis, Nehrus, and even people I’d never heard of before, the Lallus and Yadavs, but I had hadn’t heard of the Mohan dynasty.  I guess I should have thought of it, given that both Mohan Das Gandhi and Man Mohan Singh had some kind of turban on their head.   I might not like to read much, but I sure do like picture books, and I’ve seen pictures of Gandhi when he wore a turban.

Condi told me all about the great country of India on the long journey on board.  I mean, there’s only so much sleeping that even a President can do.  We in America, and especially in Texas, know a thing or two about Indians.  Condi did tell me that that I shouldn’t be talking of teepees, face paint, feathers, squaws, bows and arrows, Geronimo, and Sitting Bull.  Some of that Indian culture has definitely left its mark on the youth of America today:  I do know that the paint is no longer applied to the face, but to the hands.  So I guess that’s why Condi didn’t want me to talk about face paint.  You in India have a great civilization, but it all really began in America.  Somewhere in the history book that was read to me it says that the Indians crossed over some body of water, I think it’s called the Berring Curve, and that was some 10,000 years ago.  That was a long time ago, and I really don’t know why many people continue to say that we in America have a very short history.  I now, and yes its’s true, and I have to admit, that there aren’t many Indians left in America, but most of them, you all know, died of diseases.  I guess it must be genetics, since I hear that you Indians are still dying of many diseases. But, truth be told, it’s not at all a bad thing that there aren’t many Indians in America.  There are over a billion of you in India, and my population experts told me that every sixth person in the world is an Indian.  That’s awesome.  Now if nature hadn’t done her work in America — God bless nature, always giving us global warmth and comfort — the Indians in America would have multiplied as fast as you have, and every fourth person in the world would be an Indian.  If you all believe in multiculturalism and diversity as much as I do, you have to agree that it’s a good thing that we don’t have so many Indians in America.  And the ones that are here, well they are in places that we call reservations where they can’t be seen.  It took me some time to understand why the Indians were called an invisible minority and why they seemed kinda upset.  So you see you just reserve special spots for minorities, but we being an older and more experienced democracy, we actually have a special place for them that we call reservations.  Isn’t that something?

As I said, it’s a great honor for me to be in India, another great home of multiculturalism.  This beautiful lady to my right — well, not quite, since no one is really to my right, except perhaps Pat Robertson, Tom De Lay (and he’s not part of my delegation, being on a delayed schedule) and that other Bill, Frist —  well, this elegant lady who’s from Italy and I’m told is something like an invisible hand running this country (why, it seems whenever we speak of India, we run into invisible people and invisible hands) – well, she’s Roman Catholic.  Man Mohan Singh is Sikh, which I’m told is said the same way we say sick, though why they call him that I sure don’t know, since he seems to be in really good shape, even without going biking, fishing, golfing, clearing the brush, and hunting.  What a life one has as President!  There’s no end of outdoor activity, I tell you.  And the President of your Republic, well, I was sort of shocked to know that he’s a Muslim, though Runny and Condi told me he’s a Hindu kind of Muslim, which really does sound so wonderful.  He reads a sacred text called the Bhagavad Gita, does yoga, doesn’t eat meat, and doesn’t like violence very much.  I mean, either you’re a Hindu, or a Muslim; either you’re with the Hindus, or with the Muslims.  Since we’re on the subject of Muslims, let me say what is one of the main things that brings me to this great country of yours.  Somehow, you’ll pardon me for saying so, when we get to talk about Muslims, we can’t seem to get away from killings, and passion, and violence, and all that stuff.   Now let me be very clear.  I know, though I don’t have any close Moslem friends, that Islam is a religion of peace, and most Moslems, like all Americans, are peace-loving people.  Now I might not read, but I sure do look at the funnies every morning.  Some days ago I heard about this huge fuss — people call it a ruckus, but I believe in plain language — over these Danish cartoons.  These Danish cartoons of Muhammad have got them Muslims stirring again.  In the war room at the White House, we have a large wall map of the world and all those strategic places that are of great interest to us from the standpoint of American national security are clearly marked.  I don’t know much about Denmark, but the White House geographer showed me this country and I couldn’t really figure out how Muhammad got to Denmark.  Now our Librarian of Congress who was present said something about not all being well in the state of Denmark, and when I asked him what he meant, he said it was a literary allusion to some play about a King of Denmark by that great Brit, Shakespeare.  He sure did shake up the world, and that too without a spear.  He only used a pen.  I finally realize, while I’m talking to you, why we always got this question in school, whether the pen was mightier than the sword.  I thought it was a rather daft thing to think that the pen could be mightier than the sword, but both Shakespeare and this Danish cartoons mess makes me think that I should rethink my position.  I hope you do realize what this means:  some people allege that thinking is not my strong suit, but I’m actually a man of very firm opinions.  I’d rather think than re-think.  We Americans are greater inventors, always coming up with new stuff.  Why rehash what’s around?  I’m not known for re-thinking anything, but God’s ways are mysterious.

Everyone knows me as a very focused person, but I’ve been really distracted today.  It must have something to do with being in India.  Our Librarian of Congress, and we have a mighty fine library in Congress, not that I’ve ever been to it, had been speaking of literary allusions.  Now I mean most of us have illusions, and in that special briefing I got on India they said that Hindus believe that the whole word is an illusion, that nothing’s real.  They even have a special word for it, they call it MAYA, although I always thought that was a Russian woman’s name.  Let me reassure Laura that I never knew any Maya.  We in America, and that must be our Indian heritage, know a thing or two about illusions too.  We never did find those weapons of mass destruction, but believe me, they’re not an illusion.  They’re there.  I’d compare these weapons of mass destruction with an onion.  You notice how many layers there are to an Indian?  I meant an onion.  You keep on peeling off layer after layer, but as you get closer to the truth, to the onion’s center, your eyes start to water.  I haven’t peeled an onion in years, but I know that for  a fact.  Yes, Sir, there are ugly facts in this world, and it’s a fact that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but our inspectors’ eyes started to water when they got close to discovering the truth.  We never found the weapons because we threw out the baby with the bath water.

So let me return to the subject of Muslims and say some words about why I’m here today.  I was told by Condi that some Muhammad fellow came to India some 1000 years ago, tore apart a Som-nose temple, and that you’ve been smarting ever since.  Your neighboring country, the one you all don’t get along with too well, even named one of its missiles after that place from where he came, Gas-ni or something.  Mean thing to do, I’d say.  You can see how Eye-raq and Afghanistan are both linked:  weapons of mass destruction and gas-ni (which must be really another way of saying gas-nose) are part of their common history.  So whether Mohamed is on cartoons or on missiles, I guess the trouble never ends.  I know that your leaders were telling us that you had plenty of experience with Moslems, but we weren’t inclined to listen to you.  We’ve got to continue to cooperate to hunt down those terrorists of al-Qaeda.  Many of them, I hear, are holed up in Pakistan.  That worst snake of all — he’s a coward, won’t come out in the open, bin Laden, well he just disappeared on us and has become invisible.  There we go again, I hope you all now understand what I meant when I said that there’s something about India and the word invisible that makes them go together.  The whole point of my trip is to change that, to put India on the map.  Wasn’t India where they had the disappearing rope trick?  I seem to remember something of that sort from the magic show I saw at the White House the day the Twin Towers slowly disappeared from the TV screen.  I am convinced that the power of illusion is truly great.   The War on Terror must go on, and I know that the partnership of our two great countries will be a model for the rest of the world.  Think of all the ways in which we complement each other:  you greet us with folded hands, we stretch out our hands in a firm (well, mostly firm, except for the kind of guys you see in “Heartbreak Mountain”) handshake; you venerate the cow, we love to eat it; your guys are up while we’re asleep; you think with your brain, we think with our bodies.

Our two great countries are on the verge of a special relationship.  Thanks to the Brits, we speak the same language.  Funny thing, that special report I got on your country had a little history lesson, and it said that a general called Cornwallis from Cornwall who was defeated soundly by our General Washington then went on to India.  They wanted a man of experience to spread democracy around the world.  Well, we’re both democracies now.  You have a President, and so do we — that’s me.  People who’ve been studying this kind of thing, you know democracies around the world — and they’re increasing, just look at Iraq, look at those turbaned Afghan women so eager to vote, and freedom’s on the march — say that the big difference is that your President is actually a figurehead.  Many of my critics have said that I’m a figurehead as well and for once my critics are right.  They were wrong about WMD, they were wrong about whether those Arabs would take to democracy like fish to oil, and they’ve been wrong about doggone everything else, except for one thing.  It really is Dickhead Cheney who’s running my government, and he did a very good job of it largely cause we kept him in hiding, just like Bill Laden.  My Dick is really good at nearly everything — he gets the contracts to the right people, wears a pacemaker — you know, I’m a great believer in going at the pace that our Maker set for me, in bed by nine o’clock sharp — and even knows how to fire a gun.  I’m sure you’ve all heard of this expression, Lame Duck President, but it goes to show that our reporters do not always adhere to the high standards that we expect of them.   Dick’s always had a preference for quail, not ducks.  And he’s too manly to shoot at lame ones.  I never did think of it before, but I wonder what happened to that other Quail, you know the guy who was Dick’s earlier incarnation under Ronnie?

Well, your excellencies and friends, I think I’ve gone on long enough.   We’ve got lot of important issues to talk about over the next two days of my visit, and that’s why I brought along my entire team.  God bless you all.

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