Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Jeez, you would think he might at least recognize Arabic when he saw it....

The Mandarin is biased when it comes to studying foreign languages. After all, why so you think they call him the "Mandarin?" Anyway, one of the Mandarin's hot buttons is the sad fact that in America knowledge of, or even a rudimentary familiarity with foreign languages (except for America's unofficial second language - Spanish) seems to be dying out.

Here is an example, courtesy of Howard Kaloogian - a man who plans to run for Congress in the Mandarin's home state of California. Howard recently traveled to Baghdad (or did he?) and now he is trying to convince us that life in Baghdad is just peachy these days. He wants us to condemn the lefty press bias that fills our news with (doctored?) pictures of dead children and car bombs and mass execution of Shiite police recruits -- all purpotedly from some fictional civil war that he claims isn't happening. Just look at the happy Baghdadites, peacefully going about their daily lives. He wrote:

We took this photo of dowtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism.

The problem is the picture. I don't expect a wingnut like Howard to recognize that the signs are in Turkish, but I would have expected him to notice that there is not a single Arabic letter in the entire scene!

Jeez Louise! The Mandarin is sad to say that we in America get the Congress we deserve. The voters of San Diego deserve better.

UPDATE: Parody is the sincerest form of ridicule - click me.

Photo source: linked page on Josh Marshall's "Talking Points Memo."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Our Constitutional Crisis: Has Shrub even read the dang thing?

President Bush has given Commander-in-Chief Bush unlimited wartime authority. But the "war on terror" is more a metaphor than a fact. Terrorism is a method, not an ideology; terrorists are criminals, not warriors. No peace treaty can possibly bring an end to the fight against far-flung terrorists. The emergency powers of the president during this "war" can now extend indefinitely, at the pleasure of the president and at great threat to the liberties and rights guaranteed us under the Constitution.


The presidency possesses no power not granted to it under the Constitution. The powers the current administration seeks in its "war on terror" are not granted under the Constitution. Indeed, they are explicitly prohibited by acts of Congress.

The Mandarin admires writers who can explain a complex issue in simple language. Read the full article, to see why Shrub and Big Dick and the whole neo-Con Mafia must be removed from their posts at the next legal opportunity.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Could their timing have been any better?

The Vatican has begun moves to rehabilitate the Crusaders by sponsoring a conference at the weekend that portrays the Crusades as wars fought with the “noble aim” of regaining the Holy Land for Christianity.

The Crusades are seen by many Muslims as acts of violence that have underpinned Western aggression towards the Arab world ever since. Followers of Osama bin Laden claim to be taking part in a latter-day “jihad against the Jews and Crusaders”.

The late Pope John Paul II sought to achieve Muslim- Christian reconciliation by asking “pardon” for the Crusades during the 2000 Millennium celebrations. But John Paul’s apologies for the past “errors of the Church” — including the Inquisition and anti-Semitism — irritated some Vatican conservatives. According to Vatican insiders, the dissenters included Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. [Click the title above for the full article.]

Well, Ratzinger is Pope now, so the Mandarin guesses he decided that the Crusades need a bit of a PR touch-up. Excellent timing, O snappy dresser.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Clear signs of progress. yep... they're out there somewhere....

Well, it's kinda hard to see them from here, but y'all are just going to have to trust me on this one.

Original photo caption: President Bush shades is eyes from the lights as he takes questions at the City Club in Cleveland, Monday, March 20, 2006. President Bush on Monday cited success in stabilizing an insurgent stronghold in northern Iraq, saying he has 'confidence in our strategy' and critics should look beyond the images of violence to see clear signs of progress. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)/

As the twig is bent....

Somehow the Mandarin knew an article like this was coming sooner or later.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Yikes! Maybe I should start calling him "President Bush" again....

Click me for a look at which recent California gubernatorial candidate is attending the National Republican Congressional Committee "United to Victory" dinner. Hint: no Austrian accent.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Judge deals what?!

Headline: Judge deals blow in Moussaoui trial

The Mandarin keeps picturing lawyers at the sidebar passing hundreds to the judge.... Then the Mandarin read the article.

The Mandarin would have read it sooner, but he took a detour and didn't want to ask for directions.

Why Ann Telnaes is the Mandarin's favorite cartoonist

Click me to see why.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Reminds the Mandarin of "Mission Accomplished"

Original photo caption: U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney speaks during his keynote address to the U.S. Labor Department's 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings at the Willard Hotel in Washington March 2, 2006. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Oscar Chinese

The Mandarin was checking out Chinese press reports of the Oscars (don’t ask him why) and he decided to see how the titles of some recent films had been translated into Chinese. It turned out that some Chinese titles were fairly literal, and others less so. Deciphering the names of directors and actors was a challenge, too.

So, without further ado, a selection of films nominated in various Oscar categories, as presented in the Chinese press:

“Broken-back Mountain” 斷背山, directed by Li An and starring Jieke Jilunxi'er and Xisi Laiji'er.

“Penetrating America from One End to the Other” 穿越美國 starring Feilixiti Huofuman. Mandarin’s note: Don’t go there.

“Flowing and Bustling” 川流熙攘 starring Telunsi Huohuade and Andongni Andesen. The song from this film also won the Oscar, but the Mandarin hasn’t been able to find a Chinese version of "Its Hard Out There for a Pimp" yet.

“Good Night, Good Luck” 晚安好運 , directed by Qiaozhi Keluni, starring Keluni and Dawei Siteleizeen. Keluni was also nominated as an actor for the film “Xinruina.”

“I Will Definitely Not Give Way to You” 決不讓步, also called “Wind and Clouds in the North” 北方風雲, starring Chalizi Sailong, Saien Bin, Wudi Haliseng and Fulanxisi Maikedaoman.

“Iron-fisted Male” 鐵拳男人 starring Luosu Keluo, Ruini Qiweige and Baoluo Jiyamati.

“Munihei” 慕尼黑 [Cantonese “Moneihak” = Munich] directed by Shitiwen Sipierboge.

“Press Forward with an Indomitable Spirit” 一往無前, starring Ruixi Weisesipeng and Jiaokuayin Feinikesi.

“Pride and Prejudice” 傲慢與偏見, starring Kaila Naiteli.

“The Never-withering Gardener” 不朽的園丁, also called “Ominous Pursuit Without Borders” 無國界追兇, starring Leiqie'er Weizi and Lai'erfu Feiyinsi.

“A Tale of Cold Blood” 冷血字傳, also just called “Kabote” 卡波特, directed by Beinate Mila and starring Feilipu Saimo'er Huofuman (no relation to Feilixiti Huofuman) and Kaiselin Jina.

and the Oscar went to:

“Automobile Accident” 撞車, directed by Baoluo Hajisi starring Sandela Buluoke, Ruian Feilipu (no relation to Feilipu Saimo'er Huofuman), Tang Qiande'er*, Mate Dilun, Bulandeng Fuleize, and Telunsi Huohuade (that makes two big films this year for Huohuade). Mandarin’s note: The Chinese title is a nice bit of wordplay, because the word also conveys a sense of “chance meeting” as well as things crashing into each other.

Next Sunday night, with the Oscars out of the way, the Mandarin will have to decide whether to watch "Frenzied Housewives" 瘋狂主婦 on ABC or "Criminal Clan" 黑道家族 on HBO. Decisions, decisions.

* If you got this one, you're probaby a Mandarin yourself. Tang Qiande'er = Don Cheadle.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

George Orwell must have predicted this

George Orwell, or as the Mandarin says in Mandarin 喬治歐威爾 Qiaozhi Ouerwei, didn't die in 1950, as you will read in palces like Wikipedia -- he is alive and well and living in China.

The Mandarin recalls back in the 1980s, when he was traipsing the length and breadth of China trying to find a single Chinese entity creditworthy enough to make a loan to them, that one year (in the late 80s?) the central government decided to crack down on extravagant entertainment of local officials by limiting all banquets to five courses (or was it three?). This of course was at a time when many business proposals were approved after undergoing further "study" by the Chinese side. Hint: "study" 研究 sounds a lot like "cigarettes and liquor" 煙酒. Nudge, nudge.

So, shortly after that announcement, the Mandarin was at a bank meeting (where a borrower and their bankers meet to discuss a new loan proposal) in Shenzhen and after the third course (or was it the fifth?) of a long maotai-filled dinner, all the local officials got up stony-faced (especially since it was mid-winter and the snake soup was just coming out of the kitchen) and excused themselves.

Ah, nostalgia. Sometime, the Mandarin will have to describe the public toilets at the Lhasa (Tibet) Airport.

Anyway, imagine the Mandarin's surprise to read this today:

BEIJING (Reuters) - An adviser to the Chinese parliament has urged curbs on civil servants' body weight to aid the fight against corruption.

In a country where people often complain that police officers seem too well fed to catch villains, Miu Shouliang said limiting the weight of officials would stop them spending government money on wining and dining, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Such a measure "should also contribute to regulating their working styles and improving morality," Xinhua said, citing Miu, a businessman from the southern boom town of Shenzhen.

"However, some experts doubted the scientific basis of such a method," Xinhua added.

The proposed measure, which Miu did not detail, might do more than limit waste of public funds. Low-level bribery in China often takes the form of elaborate banquets, which, unlike cash, cannot be traced after being eaten.

Well, the Mandarin wonders if perhaps tiny multi-colored indigestibe plastic balls mixed into the sauces might overcome the "cannot be traced" public funds waste problem....

Anyway, the Mandarin can see it now: the monring weigh-in at the Shenzhen Bureau of the State General Administration for Foreign Exchange Control.

"Next, Comrade You Qianren 有錢人 [Mandarin joke: it means "rich guy"], step on the scales please; we know you were entertained last night at a banquet by the decadent right-wing revisionist running dog capitalist lackeys from Citibank.... Uh oh, up two kilos from last week. Get out the castor oil."

Another caption contest

During his trip to India, Shrub visited an agricultural college in Hyderabad where he received a warm welcome from one of the local celebrities.

Captions might include:

"Condi! Get me a red cape and a sword before this thing gets any closer."

"Dang, why did I put that apple in my pocket this morning."

"Well you don't smell too good yourself, big fella."

Photo source, picture #3.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hiding in plain sight?

Four and a half years ago, Shrub was warned by Condi (seen here in the background whispering Shrub's lines into her concealed microphone) and the CIA that bin Ladin was going to attack inside the US, which he did soon afterward.

Now, after spending all that time trying to get bin Ladin dead or alive, Shrub is finally "confident" that we are about to find him.

Actually, the Mandarin knows where he is. You can see him behind Shrub, saluting (perhaps his way of giving the finger?) -- check out the tall guy in a military uniform wearing the cheap big nose, mustache and thick glasses dime-store disguise:

Original photo caption: U.S. President George W. Bush, left, walks with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul after making a surprise visit to Afghanistan Wednesday, March 1, 2006. Bush said Wednesday he remains confident Osama bin Laden 'will be brought to justice' despite a so-far futile five-year hunt. (AP Photo/Shah Marai, Pool)/