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Sep 15, 2005

Bush's UN-doing

Yesterday's images of Bush at the U.N. tell us a lot about what we already know.  But they also start to tell us about what we can expect.

We know Condi is the teacher and Bush is her pupil.

Condigivingadvice198  Leaningbackasking198

We also know Bush is monitored for every word that comes out of his mouth.




Here's where things might start to look different, though.

Before Katrina, the White House could count on two things.  1.) Bush having rigid control over himself and his demeanor.  2.) A press so intimidated, they wouldn't dare challenge (let alone, look through) Bush's mask.

With the damage that Bush has inflicted on himself, however, his veneer seems to be cracking along with his cockiness.  Although about 40% of the population seems to be permanently taken in by Dubya's practiced amiability, people who know better describe him as a man who is tempermental, stubborn, impatient and callous  -- at least, behind closed doors.  The problem (for Bush, I mean) is that the former cheerleader, reeling from the past two weeks, seems to be dropping his guard.

Previously visible only in snippets (usually clamped down by those all too familiar pursed lips), the hurricane battered Bush can now seem outwardly brooding; bored; withdrawn and distracted: and also sarcastic and snide.  (And, judging by the hostility coming out of his wife and mother, perhaps the whole family may be starting to show its true colors.)





In spite of this new vulnerability, however, the much larger dilemma for Bush is the potential loss of his free pass from the press.  For the moment, the media -- having been beaten into submission for years now -- seems determined not to look away.

Beyond that, you can also almost sense an instinct to punish Bush for the way he has manipulated and humiliated the press corp.  When a reader forwarded this last image to me earlier this afternoon, I took it as parody.  When I saw it again (this time, among the newswire images), I  thought someone from the Daily Show must have hacked YahooNews.

Bush asking Condi for permission to relieve himself?  (That's what the caption said.)  Take it as stolen evidence that he really can't think for himself.


(And then, how many other world leaders would need two conditional declarations within the first four words about something so definitive, still need a question mark at the end of the sentence, and then have to ask again?)

UPDATE 9/15/05 11:49 am PST:  Sorry if you couldn't make out the note.  It reads: "I think I may need a bathroom break?  Is this possible (unintelligible)."  Thanks to Kevin for this background on the photographer, Rick Wilking, which -- considering Wilking's own trials in New Orleans two weeks ago -- seems to put this photo in clearer context.

(image 1:  AP Photo/Susan Walsh. image 2: REUTERS/Larry Downing. image 3: Mike Segar/Reuters. image 4: REUTERS/Rick Wilking. image 5: REUTERS/Larry Downing. image 6: AP Photo/ITAR-TASS/ Presidential Press Service, Alexei Panov. image 7: AP Photo/Susan Walsh. image 8: REUTERS/Larry Downing. image 9: REUTERS/Larry Downing. image 10: REUTERS/Rick Wilking.  All images: September 14, 2004.  United Nations. At YahooNews)


Incredible- the media finally begins to show us the Real Man.

After we have pondered this for a whle, can you please read Bush's scrawly script for us?

This seems to me to be a case of eight words being worth a thousand pictures. Or maybe 10,000.

Old blue tie is back. Might as well look like a uniter at the UN.

Bolton is wearing a button down shirt with a tie, the French must have loved that.

Rice and Bolton don't like each other, it's got to be rough getting Bolton's flavor-saver on her earlobe everytime he whispers something to her (crossed arms).

So, did the boy king get up and go? Before this I had never considered how difficult it must be for him to get to a bathroom quickly, not just at the UN but everywhere he travels.

The note reads:

"I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible?"

I can't make out the last word as it is unfinished.

Do you realize that Bush has never appeared in public anywhere in the world since he took office? He has never met a real person who disagrees with him. Indeed, people are not allowed to look out of their own window to gaze upon his imperial passing.

Check out this story on the photographer who took that shot of Bush writing his potty-break note.

No wonder he's going after Bush with a vengeance and the strongest telephoto lens he can get!

I look forward to more pictures by this guy.

Mr. Bag makes the interesting point that first of all, most people know whether or not they need a bathroom break, but the President of the United States is triply unsure: “I *think* I *may* need a bathroom break*?*” It could be that instead of listening to what was going on, the president was contemplating the events that were to ensue (maybe his giving a speech or having to meet with other leaders) and thought (feared, probably) that he might not make it through the events without having to use the restroom. Whatever the deal, the construction of that needful sentence shows a man who is a far cry from the resolute, heroic, take-charge kind of leader the administration has been conning us about.

A commenter on another blog agrees with James’s point about vengence. The commenter said that the photographer who took this shot had made some “powerful” images of Katrina’s aftermath and that this may be the photographer’s payback.

This photographer certainly deserves a pay raise! Wow, what a powerful image. When I saw it for the first time last night, my first thought was "what does he really want to do in the bathroom?" Because if you really have to go, like an emergency situation -- and you're the leader of the free world -- shouldn't you be able to get up and go without asking permission? Or at least write a definitive, declarative statment like ... "get me the H out of here before I explode?" Also the Important Men of the World that I know would use a personal form of shorthand to communicate with their assistant. But given that Bush took the time to write out each word, you have to think that he really didn't need a "bathroom break." This image is worth well more than 1,000 words. It'll be fun to see your comments on this one, BAG.

This is a lot like that second grade classroom in Florida, except with grownups. George is supposed to be acting like he's doing a job, it's hard work. Apparently, the UN isn't any more (or less) compelling than The Pet Goat.

So who is in charge?

"I MAY NEED A BATH" is all caps, the rest not.

Is he saying that the U.N. makes him feel dirty?

Was this section written first, with the rest written afterward?

Wow, a great set of photos. Talk about non-verbals!

However, I interpret the "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is it possible? W" differently than others so far.

I don't see it as a lack of resolution or decisiveness. People do need to go. What I find interesting is that Bush has written a complete sentence and marked it with "W" when Condi is sitting right next to him. I would think a simple "Bathroom break?" would have been sufficient.

So I infer that 1) he was bored & killing time--using words as a doodle; 2) they hadn't planned what to do if Bush needed a bathroom break. So presumably, Condi & Bolton didn't expect him to need a break. Like a kid on a too long car drive, Bush's query has to do with being bored and restive. He doesn't wants to sit still.

Hmm, not paying attention, no planning...what does this remind me of??

I have just been reading "don't think on an elephant" by George Lakoff. One thing that struck me was the use of superimposing the "strong father" image onto the UN. The idea being that "underdeveloped/developing third world" nations that largely comprise the UN are "children" that the US should not have to get a "permission slip" from in order to act. Bush used this "permission slip" idea in the 2004 State of the Union speech.

Lakoff says, "Should the United States have consulted the United Nations and gotton its permission to invate Iraq? An adult does not "ask for a permission slip"! The phrase itself, PERMISSION SLIP puts you back in grammar school or high school, where you need a permission slip from an adult to go to the bathroom. You do not need to ask for a permission slip if you are the teacher, if you are the principal, if you are the person in power, the moral authority. The others should be asking YOU for permission. That is what the permission slip phrase in the 2004 State of the Union address was about."

Oh, the irony.

Then there's the handwriting analysis.

I'm no expert, but took a few classes many years ago.

Shifting from upper case to lower case, cursive to printed, within the single handwriting example? Bad news folks, bad news.

Bush doesn't look like a total murderous psychopath by any means, but he certainly looks like someone not to be trusted.

And he's the leader of the Free World?

Oh my.

The mixed printing using upper and lower case letters in one word is interesting, the meaning of that unclear. But the strongly printed "I"s leave no doubt about his own opinion of himself. The note reveals clearly that the man can't even figure out how to get himself to the toilet. Maybe Condi slipped up on her (Mom-like) job to get him to "pee-pee before he goes in that room, because you'll be sitting there a long time." Sheesh! This is a really discouraging and frightening thing to see.

It's dangerous to speculate from small amounts of data. Still, I can't help wondering whether "BATHROOM" is a code word for something else. The man is terribly at ease in all these pictures (and what's with the hair in the second pic after the break?), and has a history of dependence on chemical stabilizers (or destabilizers). Does he really "NEED" a hit, or a shot?

While we're looking at W intensely, we should not miss the body language of Condi. She's the designated baby-sitter this day, and she does not like the job.

Does anyone know whether W actually took a break -- bathroom or otherwise -- and how he looked/behaved when he came back?

i say: lock the whole lot of them in there for 3+ days, along with their infants / children and infirm / geriatric grandparents; cut all the power, water, sewage and communication lines; remove all the security personnel; and deny them food, water and medicine.

(and just to f___ with their heads: keep assuring them that "help is on the way" ;-)

In Milan Kundera's book Immortality he describes "riduclous immortality" as that which plagued the astronomer Tycho Brahe, who is said to have died after straining his bladder to avoid embarassment at leaving a banquet table.

Is the boredom on GW's face just a cover for the discomfort he's feeling both physically and "socially", having to relieve himself and not even knowing if he's "allowed" to go? Is that look his "holding it in" face? Or is it possible that he'd been running to the bathroom all day, and what he really meant was "Is it even possible that I have to go? Again?" What about the looks on Bolton's and Rice's faces? Are they reacting--or trying no to--to anything unusual or, er, vulgar about the president's behavior?

Fantastic site, by the way.

This may be code. A well-placed source revealed to me Bush suffers from panic disorder and is on meds. We know he acts 'like a deer before headlights.' We know he's pretty darn short-tempered for 'a good christian man.' These may be moments when he's feeling an attack coming on--not a pleasant feeling for those who suffer from this disorder. Hence, he may be sending Rice a euphemistic note that he needs a break to either relax or take a pill. OTOH, he's so fucking stupid he may not know if his bladder is full or not.

Sorry to be off subject and comment on Bushit's remarks. He lectured the world body on corruption and human rights issues which could more aptly been directed at himself.

They had that over the shoulder shot on "The View" on WABC TV this morning. People in publc have to watch out, Barbara Walters said, (once I was in her cleaners, nearby a small archaeology lab, next a once hugh musicians union hall in Manahattan) about those over the shoulder shots. Do they have a whole bunch of wooden pencils? Or they get out a sharpener when he breaks the point. I would think another type of pencil would be appropriate, so he can't erase anything, like surveyors I was told once had to do, everything wrong put a line through in case testimony on the survey required. Thomas Jefferson's father surveyed Virginia, Washington got smallpox the only time he left the country at 16, surveying with a cousin, which became a career of his. Abraham Lincoln was also a surveyor, and the Museum of Surveying in Lansing, Michigan has a new exhibit of his first "plat" and other artifacts I read. Glad it didn't say "One if by...two if by..."

Sorry to be off subject and comment on Bushit's remarks. He lectured the world body on corruption and human rights issues which could more aptly been directed at himself.

Five years !!! Five years I'm desesperately trying to convince my friends here in France that someone cannot become commander in chief being an idiot. And bam, this picture comes bashing all my efforts !

Even a child today does not ask anymore to his mom if he can go to the bathroom !!!

Wilkins says he didn't know what was on the note.

Great site!

When I wanted to forward the image to German newsmagazine DER SPIEGEL I realized it was already published.,1518,374845,00.html

I dont read his note as meaning literally that he has to pee. I see Bush as a smart alecky rich kid. He is a jock at heart. He is treating the whole UN thing as a joke. He probably wrote the note to be sarcastic meaning "I think this is B.S. and I want to get the hell out of here." He has a wry sense of humor and doesnt take much seriously. He jokes constantly. I think its probably because he doesnt feel competent enough to handle the job with his intellect so he makes jokes and uses humor to deflect from his lack of brains. Hes charming in small groups, funny enough and likes to keep people on the defensive. Much easier to do that if you can make fun of them and put them on the defensive first. Donald Trump does that. Its one of his bargaining techniques. He meets a new person for a meeting and immediately points out a fault in a suit, tie, stain on a shirt, stray hair, or straightens someones tie for them, whatever. That gives him a psychological upper hand in the deal. Hes already one up on you. I think Bush is the same way, but he also holds everything in contempt if hes not really interested in it. And the only thing he is interested in is sports.

maybe, as Michaelp suggests, Bush is just goofing off, but the "is this possible?" at the end of his note makes me think his request is genuine, i.e. the useless twat needs advisers to counsel him on whether he can go to the toilet.
God help you all.

Regarding the bathroom break picture: The writing on the note is dark and bold. That pencil makes gray narrow lines. We need to be cautious on this. I bet we'll find out that it's phony.

The writing on the note is dark and bold. That pencil makes gray narrow lines.

Reuters admits they photoshopped the note. The white parts of the photo were overexposed ( we're looking at a small bit of a larger photo ) so they fiddled with the balance to enhance legibility. They claim such touch up is common.

_Reuters admits they photoshopped the note. The white parts of the photo were overexposed ( we're looking at a small bit of a larger photo ) so they fiddled with the balance to enhance legibility. They claim such touch up is common._

True. Most professional photographers/designers/art directors would not let a crappy photo make it into publication. It's very common to adjust contrast, lighting and exposure, and to sharpen important details. It's a point of professional pride. Not to alter the image, but enhance it. Crappy photos that are *not* adjusted are one of my pet peeves. Especially color photos that have been reproduced in B&W without the contrast levels adjusted--ugh! Not only amateur but offessively bad.

In this case, it looks like they jacked up the contrast and used "unsharp mask" (a sharpening tool increasing the contrast between borders) so we can distinquish the writing. One has to be careful when enhancing in this way. Sometimes the enhancements end up distorting the image. Note the little halos or 'pixel trash' where the contrast is highest. So it's not that this photos is that great of a quality, either, but at least we can read it now, and that was the important consideration here.

With his brain having kidney stones, it makes a little more sense.

contrast change can be confirmed by the darkness and bleed of the clip and the printed papers.

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