Sunday, December 31, 2006

Historical Learnings of Glorious Kazakhstan

The gulags once spread over the Kazakhstan steppe like a thick wreath. (New York Times article).

The NYT in Self-Deprecation Mode

The writer Ben Hecht once observed that trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell time by watching the second hand of a clock. (Op-Ed display in today's New York Times).

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam, a Retrospective Postmortem

It's that his execution is like swatting a fly in the midst of a plague of locusts. In the long and troubled, occasionally graceful, history of humanity, no good has ever come from executing anyone. (The Metaphor blog).

The decision to execute Saddam is like pouring petrol onto the fire. I think that rivers of blood will flow through the country. (Iraqi quoted on BBC site ).

Saddam is like a black page in Iraq’s book, and this page needs to be turned over. (Another Iraqi on Rochester, N.Y., TV news site).

Implementing the verdict is like driving . . . Iraq into hell. (Another Iraqi quoted in a Chicago Tribune article.)

… Saddam is like a lion in a cage. ( Article on Independent Institute site ).

Delaying action against Saddam is like waiting for a killer to knock at the door… The kind of harm Saddam can deliver will take thousands of American lives if we wait. (Cal Thomas quoted on the Beast blog ).

Trying to manage the Iraqi threat under Saddam is like trying to cool a volcano with a thermostat. We must therefore declare a new objective. Our clear, unequivocal goal should be liberating the Iraqi people and the world from Saddam's tyranny, as we should have done in 1991. (Senator Joseph Lieberman on Yale University site).

Saddam is like a snake in the bedroom. We didn't chop off his head and he's around. He's developing weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological. We know that. And we know that within three to five years he'll have nuclear weapons. (Senator Christopher Shays quoted in CNN transcript).

Friday, December 29, 2006

What the World Can't or Won't Hear

If someone this weekend says "Happy New Year" in Iraq or Afghanistan, would anyone in the world hear it? For many, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan have become like trees falling in an empty forest. The world doesn't want to hear it. (Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal).

That's No Way to Speak of a Colleague

Blogs are like one's colleagues -- some are truthful and some embellish, but, please, give me the option to decide. (Letter to The Wall Street Journal from Daniel S. Cohen of Boston on recent negative opinion column about blogs. One of 6 letters. See Post Dec. 31st below.)

Regarding Celebrity Gone Awry

Talent, or the lack thereof, has also been a factor in many of these [celebrity] meltdowns. The songwriter Joni Mitchell long ago complained that Madonna had "knocked the importance of talent out of the arena." That's true of more than a few present-day celebrities, who, like travelers bumped up to business class on an overbooked flight, seem to owe their success less to any virtue or effort of their own than to whatever combination of accidents put them there. (de gustibus column in today's Wall Street Journal).

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Republican, at the End of His Rope

...I remember the pride I felt when the statue of Saddam Hussein came down. I remember the thrill I felt when three times Iraqis risked their own lives to vote democratically in a way that was internationally verifiable as well as legitimate and important. Now all of those memories seem much like ashes to me. (Senator Gordon H. Smith, an Oregon Republican, in remarks on the Senate floor, saying he was at the "end of his rope" with Bush's Iraq policy).

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christmas Gift From Dr. Seuss

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.

(From "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" by Dr. Seuss, 1957).

Joy to the World. Well, Sorta.

Never mind our anticapitalist aversion to the mall. The problem was that for us, joy itself was a troublesome concept. Joy requires a certain suspension of disbelief. We just couldn't suspend it -- like a mildewy tent, it kept collapsing. (Sandra Tsing-Loh in yesterday's New York Times).

Like the sisters in Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women," we having stockings and cake and ice cream. And like them, when it comes to Christmas we are deeply confused. (Susan Cheever in yesterday's New York Times.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On Being Grateful

But nitpicking like this seems rather ungrateful, a bit like complaining about Selma Hayek’s feet. (Wall Street Journal review of "Spoiled Rotten America" by comic Larry Miller).

Some Holiday Thoughts From Our Iranian Friend

"The oppressive powers will disappear while the Iranian people will stay. Any power that is close to God will survive while the powers who are far from God will disappear like the pharaohs." (Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
about Britain, Israel and the United States).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

To The WSJ, Bloggers Are Tag-Along Sycophants

The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM [mainstream media] like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps. (Wall Street Journal column, The Blog Mob).

An Unblinking Eye for the Macabre & Absurd

The body of Jesus Bazaldua Barber, a worker electrocuted by 60,000 volts installing a phone line at the top of a telephone pole, dangles backward like Jesus in a Deposition. (New York Times review of Enrique Metinides photographs, on view through Jan. 17 at Anton Kern gallery, 532 West 20th Street, Manhattan.)

For those up to the task, the image can be viewed here.

The Forensics of Broadcast TV

Networks, like serial killers, tend to develop patterns. (Alessandra Stanley in Wednesday's York Times).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In Search of Intelligent Life in D.C.

Sounding as naked of essentials as Britney Spears, the new intelligence oversight chief [Democrat Silvestre Reyes, another Texan] pleaded that it was hard to keep all the categories straight. (Maureen Dowd in today's The New York Times on Reyes's inability to answer simple questions about Al Qaeda and Hezbollah.)

And ...

If Mr. Reyes had been reading the newspaper, he might have noticed Mr. [Jeff] Stein's piece on The Times's Op-Ed page two months earlier, in which, like a wonkish Ali G, he caught many intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as members of Congress, who did not know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite. (Dowd).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Similes on the Big Screen, Take 5

From “The Godfather” (1972):

She resisted. She kept her honor. So they beat her, like an animal. (Bonasera).

What's the matter with you. Is this how you turned out? A Hollywood finocchio that cries like a woman. (Don Corleone).

“The Godfather: Part II” (1974):

Those were the great old days, you know ... And we was like the Roman Empire ... The Corleone family was like the Roman Empire... (Frank Pentangeli)

“The Godfather: Part III” (1990):

Uncle Michael, listen … I know you're into banks and Wall Street, but everyone knows you're the final word, you're like the Supreme Court. (Vincent Mancini)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Quarrying for Words: a Laureate's Work

As we hold words in our hands, like stones, sensing the ways in which each is connected to the others, looking at them sometimes from afar, sometimes from very close, caressing them with our fingers and the tips of our pens, weighing them, moving them around, year in and year out, patiently and hopefully, we create new worlds. (Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish novelist, in his 2006 Nobel Prize lecture, from The New Yorker online).

And …

To write, to read, was like leaving one world to find consolation in the otherness of another, in the strange and the wondrous. (Orhan Pamuk).

Iraq's Deadly Ghosts

``They shoot and flee in five minutes. They disappear like ghosts.'' (An Iraqi captain in Baghdad quoted in The New York Times about increased mortar attacks).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In War of the Words: Similes Are on the Front Line

“And now, like a mighty t-rex that has escaped from Jurassic Park, Crichton stomps across the public policy landscape, finally claiming the influence that he has always sought. In this sense, he himself is like an experiment gone wrong — a creation of the publishing industry and Hollywood who has unexpectedly mutated into a menacing figure haunting think tanks, policy forums, hearing rooms and even the Oval Office.” (New York Times article quoting political commentator's accusation that Michael Crichton used a character in a new book to get back at him.)

Typo O Blood = Type A Boston Pitcher?

In Japan, using blood type to predict a person's character is as common as going to McDonald's and ordering a teriyaki burger. (New York Times sports article on Daisuke Matsuzaka's Typo O "warrior" blood type).

A Meditation on the Mess Inside Your Head

Meditation is very much like training a puppy. You put the puppy down and say, “Stay.” Does the puppy listen? It gets up and runs away. You sit the puppy back down again. “Stay.” And the puppy runs away over and over again. Sometimes the puppy jumps up, runs over and pees in the corner, or makes some other mess. Our minds are much the same as the puppy, only they create even bigger messes. In training the mind, or the puppy, we have to start over and over again. (Jack Kornfield, book excerpt, Tricycle Magazine).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

For 'W,' a Weighty Message From Above.

Moments after the report of the Iraq Study Group descended on George W. Bush like a safe from a penthouse, its ten members fanned out in bipartisan squads to assure the world that they weren’t blaming anybody. (Talk of the Town, The New Yorker).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Keeping It Covered at The Washington Post Co.

“He’s like a stripper who won’t take his clothes off and the audience still loves it,” said Jack Shafer, press critic for Slate, which is now owned by the Washington Post Company. (Column by David Carr in The New York Times about Donald E. Graham, CEO of The Washington Post Co., who is no fan dancer for Wall Street analysts.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Prize Collection From a Nobel Winner

To me, globalization is like a hundred-lane highway criss-crossing the world. If it is a free-for-all highway, its lanes will be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies. Bangladeshi rickshaw will be thrown off the highway. In order to have a win-win globalization we must have traffic rules, traffic police, and traffic authority for this global highway. (Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech).

And …

To me poor people are like bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a flower-pot, you get a replica of the tallest tree, only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted, only the soil-base that is too inadequate. Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong in their seeds. Simply, society never gave them the base to grow on.

Friday, December 08, 2006

An Iraq Study Group Smorgasbord: From Big Macs to Fruit Salad (And a Lap Dance to Boot)

Terrorism could grow. As one Iraqi official told us, “Al Qaeda is now a franchise in Iraq, like McDonald’s.” (Excerpt from Iraq study group report).

One day after the study group rattled Washington with its bleak assessment of conditions in Iraq, its Republican co-chairman, James A. Baker III, said the White House must not treat the report “like a fruit salad” …. (Page One, New York Times).

And talking to the fanatical true believers in Iran (Ahmadinejad purged the foreign service last year, replacing experienced hands with ideological purists) about helping with security in Iraq is like inviting the wolf in for a drink and having Little Red Riding Hood give him a lap dance…. (Rick Moran on blog).

As Senator Joseph Lieberman noted, “Asking Iran and Syria to help us succeed in Iraq is like your local fire department asking a couple of arsonists to help put out the fire. These people are flaming the fire.” (Heritage Foundation article).

Turning over security operations to Iraqi security forces that are dominated by the Shiite is like turning over the henhouse to the fox. Actually it would be more accurate to say it's like turning it over to your lazy dog who happens to be friends with the fox. (Three Wise Men blog).

Dealing with Syria is like dealing with a Mafia. (Post of

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Similes on the Big Screen, Take 4: OK . . . Cue 'The Ride of the Valkyries'

From "Apocalypse Now" …

I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. (Kilgore).

We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried. I wept like some grandmother. (Kurtz).

I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn't even know it yet. Weeks away and hundreds of miles up a river that snaked through the war like a main circuit cable - plugged straight into Kurtz. (Willard).

Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. (Willard).

… charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. (Willard).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Don't Worry, Just Leave It to Jethro

Watching our political leaders try to design a plan that will ensure victory in Iraq is like watching Jethro Bodine trying to become a double naught spy. But at least Jethro was funny. (Gunz Up blog).

Iraq is like Pickett's charge in slow motion. (Perspective piece in The Rutland Herald).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

From Rising Souffle to a Rented Mule

"... Never have I seen so much swoon for so little biography. If he can make something out of this [Ed Rogers, the speaker, revealing Obama's middle name, Hussein, on "Hardball"], it proves he's very thin-skinned and he ain't ready. Hillary will beat him like a rented mule." (Maureen Dowd quoting Rogers, a Bush 41 official, in her New York Times column today).

[See "The Obama Souffle," Nov. 20th post below]

Friday, December 01, 2006

Iraq, Broken Glass & the Voice

Republicans are fighting among themselves -- or, rather, grumbling. They haven't, amazingly, broken out in war, and if they did, no one would be debating if it were a civil war. It would be like Iraq, like a dropped pane of glass that is jagged, shattered, dangerous. (Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal).

[On Henry Kissinger] And then you hear it: The Voice, a low rumble from around the corner, like heavy construction on the street outside. (New York magazine).

And …

Okay, I say, moving on to an event that seems relatively undeniable: the famous memo from 1969 he gave last year to former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson suggesting that withdrawing troops from Vietnam would be like giving “salted peanuts” to the public, who would demand more and more, leading to a premature defeat. (New York magazine).