Bee-Al Qaeda link

Mad chatter: William Burroughs is dead, but Bites was pleased to see that his random cut-and-paste legacy lives on in—of all places—The Sacramento Bee. On Sunday’s Capitol & California page, just a couple inches over Dan Walters’ head, lurks the following cryptic passage, reprinted here verbatim:

In September, Cliff House is scheduled to reopen after a $17 million restoration of the 95-year-old building and the construction next door of a glass-walled restaurant with vistas of the sea,

Iran aided 9/11 plot,panel to say

Al-Qaida, Iran link reported 9/11 panel the rocky shoreline and the evocative ruins of the Sutro Baths.

Well, hell, thought Bites, either the Bee is getting into some serious postmodern writing or else it’s “hiding in plain sight,” slipping a deadly coded message into the middle of a dull story that nobody but terrorists in sleeper cells would actually bother reading. Was this proof that Dan and his nefarious colleagues are indeed the liberal apologist running dogs for those who hate our freedom? When Monday’s edition came out carrying no correction, Bites considered calling Homeland Security.

Turns out, the cryptic message was just a snippet of stray copy from a page-one feature that found its way into the wrong story—all of which means San Francisco’s Sutro Baths no longer are on red alert, although Bee proofreaders probably should be.

Train kept a-sittin': Benito Mussolini is also dead, but at least he got his trains to run on time. Too bad the same can’t be said for the U.S. Secret Service. Witness last Wednesday’s holdup at the Sacramento station when George H.W. Bush rolled into town on a special train that ended up keeping other trains from pulling into the station for nearly an hour.

So, what exactly happened out there? “Amtrak had been given assurances by Union Pacific Railroad that this special train would not disrupt regular scheduled passenger trains,” writes Capitol Corridor Managing Director Gene Skoropowski in an open letter to riders left sitting on the tracks, “and this would have been the case except for the Secret Service intervention.”

Turns out that the former president and his entourage were traveling in the back of a special Union Pacific train, and, in order for them to disembark comfortably, its engines had to pull up almost to the I Street bridge, thus blocking the switches that allow trains to pass between platform tracks.

“The plan was to back up the special train shortly after its arrival in Sacramento,” writes Skoropowski of the latter-day Keystone Kops scenario. “Apparently the US Secret Service did not approve this plan, and therefore it took 45 minutes for the special train to back off of the switches to allow train #538 into the station.”

Frankly, Bites doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. After all, what patriotic citizen would not readily sacrifice an hour of his or her life so that the elder Bush could arrive in time to romp around with his old pals at Bohemian Grove?

600,000 postage stamps can’t be wrong: “In my heart, I am—and will remain—an Austrian!” Not since the “Ich bin ein berliner” speech, in which John F. Kennedy accidentally declared himself to be the German term for “doughnut,” has a political figure’s proclamation of national allegiance seemed so ridiculously significant. Of course, in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s case, the quote is particularly strange, because Orrin Hatch and company are working to change our Constitution so that everyone’s favorite perpetual Austrian can be elevated to the American presidency. For the moment, Schwarzenegger will have to settle for his place in his homeland’s newly minted “Austrians living abroad” series of postage stamps, though an American stamp is surely in the works.