New I-4 interchange and Pat Greene for mayor 


Have you heard? We're getting a new interchange at the intersection of I-4 and John Young Parkway! Which means two years of construction! And it's only going to cost $38.8 million! (Which is enough to fund King George's most excellent Iraq adventure for almost a week!)

We couldn't be more excited if Orlando astronaut John Young himself came to town and turned the first shovel of dirt. And danged if Crazy John (his term, not ours) didn't do just that. Maybe all that weightlessness has gotten to him, but Young is -- how do we put this delicately -- an interesting speaker.

There he was on a dais in the parking lot of First Baptist Church of Orlando, talking about space telescopes that see way into the past (which the Baptists will tell you only extends back 6,000 years), cars made out of nano tubes that run on electricity, and turning the moon into an orbiting factory. Mmmmmkay. But what was really interesting was his theory that single-planet species don't last. (How do we know this, having never encountered a multi-planet species? He didn't say.) Young went so far as to put the odds that humanity will be wiped off the face of the Earth within the next couple of hundred years at 1-in-455, unless we get the hell off this dying rock and move out into the celestial suburbs.

"John is telling you this must happen to save that great gang to which we all belong -- the human race," John said, referring to himself in the third person.

Speaking of King George's most excellent Iraq adventure, as March 19 marks the one-year anniversary of the most unnecessary war in modern history, brought to us by a president who spent his formative years making sure he himself never got in harm's way, we thought we'd mark the occasion with a quote:

"In the six months since the President declared an end to major combat in Iraq not a single one of the factual claims about Iraqi weapons and links to Al Qaeda has been robustly confirmed, and in most cases there has been no confirmation of any kind whatsoever."

The words belong to Thomas Powers, and were published in the New York Review of Books. They put a fine point on the inescapable fact that the Lil' Shrubbie snookered us. He lied, or he didn't know the truth. It doesn't matter which. We're in Iraq for a decade at least. Many more of our soldiers, and many many more Iraqis, are going to die. We'll be paying for this juvenile excuse for a foreign policy exactly one day short of forever.

Which kinda makes us wonder just how we got here. Remember February 2003, when Secretary of State Colin Powell went on TV to tell the world that Saddam was armed to the gills and had an itchy trigger finger?

The Columbia Journalism Review recently published an article noting how editorial pages at major daily American newspapers failed to ask the questions that needed to be asked. "The U.S. papers essentially pronounced Powell right, though they couldn't possibly know for sure that he was," CJR wrote. "In short, they trusted him. And in so doing, they failed to even bring an elementary skepticism to the Bush case for war."

Our own little Orlando Sentinel doesn't qualify as a major newspaper (though it has certainly earned its stripes as a pro-administration lapdog). But we thought it might be fun to revisit its editorial pages between Feb. 5, 2003, the day Powell made his speech, and March 19, 2003, when Bush started prematurely shooting his missiles, just to see how far up the prez' crack they managed to wedge their collective heads. In hindsight it wasn't fun -- revisiting huge mistakes never is. But it was instructive.

In a Feb. 6 editorial, the Sentinel called Powell's speech "methodical," and "the strongest case yet against Saddam Hussein's Iraq." It turned out to be based on bad and forged intelligence, but hindsight is 20/20, right? Maybe. But when the Sentinel's editorial board wrote, "Several conclusions are inescapable: Iraq still has illegal weapons, is working to make more, and is obstructing U.N. weapons inspectors," one would like to believe they'd rely on something more than evidence from an administration that made waging war in Iraq job one, from day one. There were lots of people calling bullshit on the Bush administration back then, such as U.N. weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei. All the Sentinel's editorial board would have had to do would be to surf over to British papers like the Independent and the Guardian to read all about them.

The Sentinel tepidly protested that Bush really should get permission for his war, but they quickly backed away from that weak-kneed stance once the bombs started falling. And they repeatedly parroted the "Saddam is dangerous" line that turned out to be the cruelest irony of all.

His write-in campaign for mayor of Orlando was scuttled by factors beyond his control -- there was no write-in space on the ballot, for one thing -- but mischief-making noncandidate Pat Greene went ahead and threw an election-night victory bash at The Peacock Room anyway.

As the documentary cameras rolled, twin hostesses in black evening dresses greeted the VIP arrivals, including genuine celebs (a track-suited Sam Singhaus), fictitious ones (a faux Playboy Playmate or two) and whatever's in between (glam gargoyles Fantasie). Many arrived in a limousine that made regular runs between the club and Greene's campaign headquarters/home.

Shortly after 10:30 p.m. -- just as we were wondering if candidate Greene was fashionably late or had been fashionably deported -- the man of the hour arrived to a chorus of cheers and the strains of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." It was a stirring spectacle: a well-heeled nightlife cognoscenti with no future to speak of honoring the man who had given them just that.

Campaign manager David Plotkin told the crowd that the election season had been "a real roller-coaster ride" as a volunteer translated his remarks into Spanish in real time. Then it was Greene's turn: "I hope the next four years are like this," he deadpanned, following up with the admission, "I don't have any promises, because I'll probably break them." An anonymous supporter shouted out Greene's official slogan -- "I don't want to talk about it" -- thereby relieving his candidate from any further oratorical duties.

When we caught up to him in the ensuing mingle, Greene was staying on-message, worried that saying anything of substance to the press might ruin the tight-lipped tenor of his run. He was then spirited off into an anteroom to engage in a suitably mayoral activity: posing for photos with a couch full of bimbos. Four more years!


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