Sunday, January 27, 2008

Truth and Perception

The title of President Bush's autobiography, A Charge to Keep, is inspired by the title of his favorite painting, and a focal point in his self perception.

According to Bush's perception, the painting portrays a Methodist (like Bush) preacher on his crusade of converting the masses in the 19th century. Here's how Bush explanationized its importance:

When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves.

In another book entitled The Bush Tragedy, Jacob Weisberg, who did a little research on Bush's source of inspiration, reports that the painting is not at all as Bush describes.

[Bush] came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination.

Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled “The Slipper Tongue,” published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors.
You can read more of the Illustrated President on Harper's Magazine, and an earlier article (From Norman Rockwell to Abu Ghraib) on

Now, take a look at the rendition above and answer the following question.

    What does it look like to you?
      (a) A man crusading/jihadding to do the work of God
      (b) A smooth-talking horse thief on the run from justice
      (c) Both of the above

Friday, January 25, 2008

Faces of Public Deception

Los Engañadores!

This week, the (US non-profit) Center for Public Integrity published the results of a study on the deception campaign orchestrated by the Bush administration to rally public opinion in favor of waging war on Iraq. They report that Bush & Co made over 900 "false statements " (aka lies) in the period between the 9/11/01 bombings and the 3/19/03 invasion of Iraq. The chart below illustrates how the deception grew and peaked right before the invasion.

And here is a breakdown of the individual shares of the offenders.

George W. Bush, President.........................260 (238 @ WMD & 28 @ al-Qaeda links)
Colin Powel, Sec. of State...........................254 (244 + 10)
Donald Rumsfeld, Sec. of Defense............109
Ari Fleischer, WH Press Sec......................109
Paul Wolfowitz, Dep. Sec. of Defense.......85
Condoleezza Rice, Nat. Sec. Adviser........56
Dick Cheney, Vice President......................48
Scott McClellan, WH Press Sec.................14


You can fool some of the people some of the time... Is it any wonder that a woman and a black man are running for president? This year, running against the Republicans, even Mickey Mouse would have a significant chance.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Farewell I missed

From: abdulrahim naas
To: Hana Naas
Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:26:19 AM
Subject: كل الامور بيد الله وحده

نؤمن بلله والاعمار بيد الله وحده ،
تعازينا القتبية فى الفقيد العزيز امين شللوف ،
رحمه الله وغفر له ولا حول ولا قوة اللا بالله ، وانا لله وانا اليه راجعون
والفاتحة على روحه الطاهرة

Al-Amin Shallouf and Mabrooka, Beirut, Lebanon, March 1995
Passed away on January 10, 2008, in Beirut

To me, he was a father, a friend, a mentor, a guardian. Oh, the times he was there for me... the things he had done for me. What a person... what a loss!

I am sorry, I did not bid you farewell in person. Rest in peace, 3amo Lamin... I will never forget you!


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hello, 2008!

Eid marked the Holiday season for us this year. It was so close to Christmas that it added a real feeling to the Holiday Spirit all around us. Our tree is still up and lit. It was waiting for Santa's visit on the New Year Eve. This morning, I got up at 6am after noticing a light on in the hall, to find Moody reading in the den. He said he was waiting on all of us to come down so he could open his gifts. He'd been up for a while. Last night, he insisted that we leave Santa carrots and celery instead of cookies. He said Santa is heavy and cookies are not good for him. So we did.

Tala was ecstatic with the Aurora doll. She changed into her Aurora dress to match her "new little sister who is 4." Although it was not her favorite princess, Ariel, "she is related to Ariel" so Tala said. Moody and Tala found it funny that Santa got Sol and me booster seats for the kids. I told them he is saving us the time and money of buying the seats ourselves; they still find it funny.

Friday, December 28, was Mom's birthday and Ru'a's too. I tried calling them in the morning before heading to work, but couldn't get through.

Happy Birthday!

This is our second long weekend in a row with Monday and Tuesday off. We were fortunate to have awesome weather for this time of the year. We enjoyed many walks in the park. Last Tuesday, we spent about 3 hours in the park with the kids riding their bikes, and Sol and I enjoying a nice long walk. This week it started not that cold, but wet and gloomy, and is now snowing. It was a nice long weekend spent being lazy at home, watching movies, and playing board games and computer games.

We had a lot of the little things that needed to be done around the house taken care of during the holidays. The kids' activity room in the basement is all straightened out. The extra computers are gone. I managed to put together Safoo's care package (I'm talking DHL Jumbo box!) and sent it off yesterday. It had some of Tala's nice clothes for Safoo, some other goodies for her, Rahaf, Ru'a, Hamza, Yazid, and my newest 2-month old nephew, Mohamed Kanoun, of my baby sister Nahla! Tala was sad and crying when we started packing the box, saying that she would miss all those nice things we are giving Safoo. I told her that khaloo Ayman will send you something nice for the nice things you are sharing with Safoo. She was convinced and started helping me pack. She said, "I love when we work together as a team!"

2007 had been an eventful year for us. All in all it was full of new steps, new beginnings and lots of changes. It was a busy year and somewhat stressful, but the kind of stress that is needed for successful change. We started the year with me in school. Then in March, I started work while still in school bringing more stress and adjustment onto my little family. Come September, I only had work after graduation, but we were swamped with the kids' summer activities. The months that followed were marked by the adjustment to a new life and the quest for a nanny. This long weekend, I felt I am finally relaxed and caught up with my life. Part of it is settling in with Jeanne, the nanny; and finally, settling in with the new routine of work and home. For the first time in over 2 years, I realized today that I have time to grab a book and read.

There's more change coming our way and more new steps to take. That makes 2008 an exciting year to look forward to. Welcome, 2008... with couscous for dinner!