Global news roundup
Gregg Easterbrook writes a weekly column for Reuters.com. The views expressed are his own.
Speaking at the White House today, President Barack Obama said, “The federal budget has become an accounting swindle little different from Enron. We are showering money on interest groups while passing unconscionable levels of debt to future generations. I apologize for my role in this: I have talked fiscal responsibility while borrowing to spend without restraint. Social Security benefits simply are going to have to be cut – it’s the only way out of the mess both parties have made of Washington. The time has come to state this honestly.”
Speaking on Capitol Hill, House Minority Leader John Boehner apologized for his fist-shaking speech calling the health care bill a “disgrace” that represents “the last straw for the American people.” Boehner said, “My behavior has been petty partisanship at its worst. The country cannot move forward when lawmakers like me act like spoiled children. I’ve been encouraging destructive politics and I was wrong.”
Also speaking on Capitol Hill, prominent Democratic representative Barney Frank expressed contrition for calling opponents of the health care bill “clowns.” Frank said, “I am no-one to talk, considering how many billions of dollars my mistakes about Fannie Mae have cost the country. Rather than ridicule political rivals, people like me should be seeking common ground. I’ve been engaging in gutter politics and I was wrong.”
Speaking in Texas, former Vice President Dick Cheney said, “For me to question the patriotism and honesty of Barack Obama’s government has been completely wrong. Imagine how angry I would have become if former officials from the administration before mine had said about me and President George W. Bush the sorts of things I am now saying about the current administration. I’ve been a horse’s rear end, and I apologize.”
In New York City, political commentator Keith Olbermann said, “My anti-Republican exaggerations have gotten out of hand. Red-in-the-face screaming that anyone who disagrees with me is immoral or evil has become a caricature of the very nonsense I originally went into newscasting to oppose. I will stop going directly to questioning the integrity of those I don’t like, and apologize for the times I have done so.”
Also in New York City, political commentator Glenn Beck said, “I feel ashamed that I have resorted to such low tactics as calling those I disagree with communist, anti-God or anti-American. That is the sort of behavior engaged in by the very cheapest of demagogues. I vow to stop playing to the lowest common denominator and treat others with respect.”
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI declared, “For too long the Church has been more concerned with protecting its power and wealth than with stopping sexual abuse of children. I have been part of this problem and when exposed, I blamed others rather than searching my own soul. I profoundly apologize for setting such an un-Christ-like example.”
From Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced, “My anti-Semitic ravings and embrace of dictatorship bring disgrace to the Iranian people. Persians are educated and sophisticated: for me to be their public face is an embarrassment. From now on, I will advocate freedom and peace.”
In Tel Aviv, Benjamin Netanyahu said, “It is past time the Israeli government kept its word and stopping building more settlements. The settlements have become a pretext for endlessly sustaining the conflict. Might does not make right, and I am deeply sorry for acting as though it did.”
From the Pentagon, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “I have no idea why the United States continues to occupy Iraq. Regardless of what the original reason for the invasion was, seven years have passed, and we’re still there. Just like in Vietnam, we have no clear mission definition. No U.S. soldier serving in Iraq can tell you what the mission is. Yet our troops remain, the young dying so the old can avoid accountability.”
From London, Martin Sullivan and Robert Willumstad, former CEOs of AIG, issued a joint statement declaring, “We knew our company was engaging in dubious transactions intended to bilk investors. Yet we stuffed our own pockets, then when caught, handed the bill to the taxpayer. We express regret to the public for our greed and cynicism.” Alan Greenspan, attending the press conference, said, “My blunders helped trigger a global recession. It is time I admitted what a terrible job I did.”
From Alaska, former governor Sarah Palin said, “I have spent the last two years building myself up by tearing others down. What exactly have I ever accomplished? Nothing but self-promotion. From now on I will offer a positive vision, and stop spending all my time pointing the finger at others. I need to become a constructive force. This isn’t high school anymore.”
In Moscow and Beijing, people surfed the Web, browsed in bookstores and bought newspapers at newsstands, free to read and say whatever they wished. In central Africa, food production increased while corruption declined. Between the Koreas, soldiers of both nations shook hands and exchanged cigarettes as they worked to disassemble the DMZ. In Saudi Arabia, women voted in favor of a conversion of the kingdom into a European-style constitutional democracy.
In Cuba, Major League Baseball awarded an expansion franchise to Havana, in celebration of the end of the United States embargo. In eastern Afghanistan, the final remnant of al Qaeda surrendered to United States Marines.
In Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, hardly anything happened. People went about their mundane tasks, free from terrorism and from oppression. When evening fell, they gathered in cafes for friendly conversation.
In other news, Gregg Easterbrook wished everyone a happy April Fool’s Day.