Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Keep it simple, stupid....

The Mandarin is sure now that Treasury Secretary (John) Snow is about to be fired.


Shrub's new Press Secretary is Fox News talking head Tony Snow. As part of new Chief-of-Staff Josh Bolten's mission to streamline the White House staff, the Mandarin is certain he won't want to confuse Shrub by having two people working there with the same last name.

Original photo caption: Tony Snow smiles as he is introduced by President Bush as his new Press Secretary in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington Wednesday, April 26, 2006. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

UPDATE: Courtesy of Think Progress, here is a digest of some of (Tony) Snow's recent comments about Shrub. Hint: the word "incompetent" does appear once or twice....

Monday, April 24, 2006

Comrade Hu is on first base

Back in the dim ages of 1982-3, the Mandarin was a baby banker living in Hong Kong. One of his projects on that tour was to organize and help present a bilingual two-day seminar in Peking on energy project finance lending for the China National Offshore Oil Company ("CNOOC" or "see-nook") and the Bank of China Second Credit Department - their project lending unit. The Treasurer of CNOOC was Mr. Xu 徐 and the head of the Second Credit Department was Mr. Hu 胡. Let's call my boss Bruce (that was his name).

Bruce was based in Chicago, and had never been to China. So one of the Mandarin's tasks was to brief Bruce on protocol for Chinese-style meetings, and to give him capsule bios of the senior Chinese-side officials. Like many Americans, Bruce was having trouble with the pronunciation of Chinese names. It took the Mandarin quite a while to get him to pronounce Mr. Xu's name correctly (more or less "syoo" - not "zoo"). Mr. Hu's name is pronounced as it looks ("who"), but correctly pronounced in the Mandarin second tone with a rising inflection, as if one is asking, "Who?" Bruce and I decided that he would nail it if he thought of Mr. Hu as Mr. Who?

Naturally, a variation of the Abbott and Costello bit "Who's on first?" ensued.

The Mandarin thought at the time it would have been even funnier if Bruce's surname had been Shea -- it wasn't -- because the Mandarin word for "Who?" is shei 誰, pronounced exactly as the Anglo-Irish surname Shea, in the same tone - "Shea?" So while we were doing the Hu = who? drill, the Chinese side in Peking would have been going through something like this:

A: 他是誰? [Ta shi shei? "Who is he?"]

B: 對. 他是 "Shea." [Dui. Ta shi Shea. "Correct. He is Shea."]

A: 那是我的問題 - 他是誰? [Na shi wode wenti - ta shi shei? "That 's my question, who is he?"]

B: 我已經告訴你, 他是 "Shea." [Wo yijing gaosu ni, ta shi Shea. "I already told you, he is Shea."]

and on and on and on....

In the end, at the big welcoming banquet in Peking, when the Mandarin brought Bruce up to meet Mr. Hu, saying, "Bruce, I would like to introduce you to...," Bruce interrupted with a huge smile on his face, "Mr. Who? I've really been looking forward to meeting you!"

This nostalgia attack was triggered when the Mandarin recently happened by a web page with an updating of the "Who's on first?" bit - this time featuring Shrub ("George") and his new Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, discussing various world leaders, beginning with another Mr. Who? - China's current President, Hu Jintao 胡錦濤.

Josh: Sir, as you know, this week you're being paid a visit by the leader of China.

George: Great. Lay it on me.

Josh: Hu is the new leader of China.

George: That's what I want to know.

Josh: That's what I'm telling you.

George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?

Josh: Yes.

George: I mean the fellow's name.

Josh: Hu.

George: The guy in China.

Josh: Hu.

Click here for the whole bit.

And if the co-author of the linked page is the same James Sherman who was a much younger baby banker working for Bruce in Chicago back then, hey there Jamie.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Scottie beams up

The Mandarin has been waiting for the other shoe to drop, but so far it looks like the old "deckchairs on the Titanic" routine except for the departure of long-suffering Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

Otherwise Shrub's much-anticipated White House staff clean-up, shake-up, fix-up looks more like Dorothy is still in Oz: "Scarecrow Rove, give some of your straw to Tin Man Kaplan. Cowardly Lion Rumsfeld, you're still doing a heck of a job. Toto Gonzalez, you make sure Wicked Witch Fitzgerald and his flying monkeys don't kidnap us and send us all to Munchkinland."

Toto, we're not in Kansas any more. Well, some of us aren't....

Original photo caption: White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan steps aboard Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, April 19, 2006. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

UPDATE: The incomparable Ann Telnaes has a slightly different "slant" on the McClellan departure - click here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

You're doin' a heck of a job, Rummy!

Secretary Rumsfeld is seen here doing his famous imitation of Ed McMahon (to Shrub's Johnny Carson doing Carnac - off camera), caught in the act of saying, "Right again, O Magnificent one!"

(Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Friday said Donald Rumsfeld has "my full support," after a number of retired generals criticized the defense secretary's handling of the Iraq war.

"Secretary Rumsfeld's energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period. He has my full support and deepest appreciation," Bush said in a statement.

Several retired generals, some who led troops in the Iraq war, have accused Rumsfeld of arrogance and ignoring his field commanders and said he should resign.

"Earlier today I spoke with Don Rumsfeld about ongoing military operations in the Global War on Terror. I reiterated my strong support for his leadership during this historic and challenging time for our nation," Bush said.

Bush's own job approval ratings have slid to around the lows of his presidency due to increasing public discontent with the Iraq war.

Original photo caption: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks at a news briefing at the Pentagon in Washington April 11, 2006. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Would you like fries with that?

The Mandarin bets if you asked them to hold the mayo, you could get one for under $140. They should also have a soup and sandwich special -- one of these babies plus lobster bisque topped with cognac, crème fraîche, and caviar - for maybe $200 plus tax and tip.

Original photo caption: London's most expensive sandwich, nick-named 'The MacDonald Sandwich', is seen at Selfridges in London April 10, 2006. The sandwich, which is on sale for 85 pounds ($148 dollars), contains ingredients of Wagyu beef, fresh lobe foie gras, black truffle mayonnaise, brie de meaux, rocket, red pepper and mustard confit and English plum tomatoes. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

P.S. The Mandarin is glad to see that Paul Hackett has found another job after being forced to drop out of the Democratic Senatorial race in Ohio....

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What is it with trailer parks, anyway....?

The Mandarin spent most of the 1970s at graduate school in Indiana, where it seemed every tornado to hit the state during the annual tornado season hit a trailer park.

Now this:

MERCED, Calif. - Two levees broke Tuesday in California's chief agricultural region, flooding a trailer park, threatening other homes in Merced and inundating farmland near Sacramento.

Water breached a 30-foot section of levee along a creek in Merced, sending up to 18 inches of water pouring through a mobile home park, said Michael Miller, a spokesman for the Department of Water Resources.

Three trailer parks were evacuated, a total of 200 people, said Elaine Post, spokeswoman for the Merced County Office of Emergency Services.

The message is clear: God has something against manufactured housing, plain and simple. Maybe we can blame this on Tom DeLay, too.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The only question now is, "How many dominoes...?"

Well, the Hammer is gone. You can see him already starting to tilt over in the photo. Since he has been remaking the House Republican machine in his image for the last five years, the Mandarin is wondering how many more shoes are waiting to drop? And dropped shoes knocking over dominoes may be a classic mixed metapor, but the Mandarin doesn't care this itme. Pop some popcorn and turn on the news!

Original photo caption: Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) attends the House Republican Conference at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, Maryland, in this February 10, 2006 file photo. DeLay, one of the most powerful members of Congress, is now ready to call it quits in the face of mounting legal problems and a tough reelection campaign. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Wave "bye bye," Katherine

One of the Mandarin's favorite intelligent designs, Republican Representative Katherine Harris of Florida -- who as Florida election commissioner helped hand the state's decisive electoral votes to Shrub back in 2000 -- has been having a bit of trouble with her campaign for Senate this year. Like what, you may ask? Well, most of her staff have quit, she looks even more like an idiot than before, and her campign is in shambles. The Mandarin believes in Karma. So should she.

Original photo caption: Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Sarasota, smiles during a news conference where she announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate in this 2004 file photo. Harris' U.S. Senate campaign lost what was left of its core team on April 1, 2006 when a top adviser, campaign manager and communications director resigned. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)