Monday, December 28, 1998

The Washington Post uncovers that Richard Nixon proposed censuring Truman in 1951 for firing McArthur.

Washington Post headline: “Narcolepsy Drug Gets FDA Nod”

Wednesday, December 23, 1998

Millenial Olympics

New York magazine competition, Olympic events of the future:
Opinion poll vault

The compact disc throw

Synchronized paparazzi beating

Cross-country reindeer tipping

Aussie rules ice dancing

Au-pair skating


50-yard Mrs. Dash (low-sodium track and field)

Cross dressage

Cellular phone tag

Fishing for compliments

Synchronized watching

Whitewater stonewalling

Full-figure skating

Jose Greco-Roman Polanski wrestling

Drive-by skeet shooting

Maximum bobsledding


Senatorial shotputzhead

Mom soccer

Elevator sprint

400 meter walking-and-chewing-gum relay

50-yard dine and dash

Crack and speed skating

Subpoena-dodging slalom

Men's 500-channel surfing

Platform-shoe diving

Advertising disclaimer speed reading

[NOTE: More New York Magazine competitions here.]
I've just seen the best example of an internet document by someone without a life. It's a bit long so I'll just summarize, but I will send it to anyone who asks in the next few days. It is an article about the impeachment, or I guess court martial, of James T. Kirk for lying about sex with subordinates and members of other races [my joke: "What is this Earth custom `blow job' of which you speak?]. Some think that this trial is occurring at a bad time, since Kirk has crossed the neutral zone with the Romulans, but... Lt. Uhuru, bored with her dead-end job opening hailing frequencies, has been secretly recording Yeoman Rand, who speculates that a transporter malfunction has separated Kirk into the good guy and the big creep. Kirk defends his original statement, saying that in fact he and Rand served on the Enterprise, not in the Enterprise, so it all depends on what the word "in" means.

The resignation of Britain's Trade and Industry minister and its Paymaster General show how boring scandals are supposed to be, in real countries.

Tuesday, December 22, 1998

Check out Salon's long-rumored expose of Dan Burton, his affairs, his campaign contributions, and the incident that sent his father to jail...

Clinton bombed the shit out of a foreign country last week, and the one phrase I didn't see anywhere: War Powers Act. I must have missed that one being repealed.

Oh sure, *now* they want to compromise on censure. By the way, since half the people aren't pronouncing it correctly, as a CNN piece showed yesterday, an interesting poll might ask the question, how many Americans think what is meant is censor. You laugh, but it's best not to underestimate popular stupidity in these matters. Anyway, some of the Republican "moderates" (defined as those people with broken kneecaps) who voted for impeachment say that the Senate shouldn't remove Clinton from power. And there's a lot of talk about compromise. Too late, guys. The time for censure was in the House before the impeachment vote. Check out the Constitution: the Senate has exactly three choices--removal from office, disqualification from further federal offices, or nothing. Plea-bargaining is not an option. Not that the Constitution has ever stopped the Senate, Clinton, or Rehnquist.

So if Iraq's military has been "degraded", have the civilian casualties been "demoted", ya know, to ashes?

Saturday, December 19, 1998

Putting the wood to the Republicans

Livingston not only had at least four mistresses, but four who were willing to talk about it for money.

Yesterday we had the 500th execution since 1977.

Back in the impeachment debate, D.C. Watts says that impeachment is necessary to make Boy Scouts obey their oaths. Joseph Kennedy II says the R's are going after Clinton because "The President has put the wood to the Republicans time and time again." The best summary is that of Washington Post tv critic Tom Shales: "Rarely has so much buffoonery produced so little in the way of amusement."

The man who coined the phrase "Nixon's the One" has died. What a thing to be remembered for. Somewhere there is a picture of me from a 1968 costume thing, dressed as a pregnant woman with a sign saying Nixon's the One.

Poor Saint Bob Livingston, martyr to the cause of puritanism. It would be easier to take him for a victim if we didn't know (although the NY Times seems to have forgotten it) that he planned a couple of years ago to quit politics because he wanted to be making a lot more money, and stayed only because he was promised the speaker's job when Gingrich gave it up. The R's praised Livingston for his courage and his ability to bag that many mistresses, while the D's begged him to stay. Bizarre.

If impeachment has accomplished one good thing, it is that Clinton, who has been treading water for, what, 3 years now?, has an agenda again. Well he had to have some sort of agenda, so that his supporters could say it was being interrupted by this impeachment nonsense. Last year's agenda consisted of school uniforms and nothing else that I can remember. This year Clinton suddenly has ideas again: saving Social Security, a patient's bill of rights. Oh, nothing will come of any of this, but it's nice to see the D's have some ideas again.

The minute the impeachment debate was over, Operation Desert Fox was ended. What a coincidence that was! This was, to coin a phrase, The Mistress of All Battles. Fortunately it was easy to declare it a success. Since it was never clear what the goal was supposed to be, it was easy to declare the goal achieved.

Note to Tony Blair: if you're going to insist that this wasn't a war against Islam, don't make your announcements in front of a Christmas tree.

Dennis Hastert? Who the fuck is Dennis Hastert?

Ok, none of us think Clinton will be removed from office. But don't be too secure in your belief unless you predicted the results of the 1998 elections and the resignations of Gingrich and Livingston. One important factor is the absolute lack of depth of popular support for Clinton. Look at all those polls which say that the public thinks he's an ok president who shouldn't be impeached, but if he is impeached, he should resign. Situational support, exactly what this president deserves. If the hearings drag on, what support he has may well erode as fast as Clinton's support for Lani Guinear and Joycelyn Elders and so many more.

Hillary finally comes out to support her husband, at the last minute and in not terribly enthusiastic tones. Wonder how much that cost him. More interestingly, Al Gore finally came out. Clinton's biggest fan had been awfully quiet of late. I've always thought that Hillary and Al should exchange places. The job of first lady is to stand behind the president looking at him lovingly, and Gore was always better at that than Hillary was.

In all the talk today, I've forgotten who said this, but someone blamed the polarization between the parties in Washington, the well-known fact that Congresscritters no longer fraternize, on the fact that they now have to spend all their spare time fundraising.

Friday, December 18, 1998


I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

I rise before you today to say one word: penis. Let me say that again: penis. Penis penis penis penis penis penis penis. Penis penis penis. Penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis. Penis!

And if you vote for impeachment, you'll hear plenty more of that.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Thursday, December 17, 1998

Rommel's revenge

Operation Desert Fox. Are we running out of "desert" codenames so soon that we have to name military operations after one of Hitler's generals? Next up: Operation Desert Inn, threatening Saddam Hussein with the specter of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Operation Desert Hearts, threatening Saddam Hussein with the specter of an art house film about two lesbians in 1950s Nevada, appealing to the common interest of Hussein and Clinton in girl on girl scenes.

Clinton said that only Iraq has used weapons of mass destruction. He said this while dropping hundreds of missiles on Iraq, which I assume was intended to be ironic. Also, if anyone remembers: Hiroshima, Dresden, Nagasaki, Agent Orange, napalm....

Trent Lott, also no stranger to paradox, refuses to support Clinton for doing what Lott criticized him last month for not doing. Do as I say, not as I say. Or something. Lott, whose spokesmodel lied about Lott's involvement with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens, should have been lying low rather than criticizing foreign policy while American bombs, I mean boys, are in harm's way. Which I've always thought is precisely when one should criticize foreign policy.

As I write, Congresscritter Porter Goss, whoever that is, says that he supports President Bush in this matter. He is talking about giving him bipartisan support.

The timing is obviously at least as much religious as political. First, as a present for Israel on Hannakah, we are lighting up one Iraqi city per day. And I understand the smart bombs (and the Pentagon says they've every one of them hit their targets precisely--mmm hmmm) have been programmed to spell out Happy Ramadam in rubble.

Wednesday, December 16, 1998

So Clinton embarks on a truly extra-constitutional misuse of military force, unauthorized by Congress, in an attempt to escape impeachment for a much lesser crime. We are so beyond the whole concept of irony here. I knew we were in trouble this week when I heard that Republican moderates were searching their consciences, or maybe it was searching for their consciences. When no Republican believes that censure is constitutional, and no Democrat believes that Clinton committed perjury or that if he did it was an impeachable offense, why should the semi-mythical Republican moderates, something like the Iranian moderates Reagan sold arms to, be the only people free of political calculation? And hey, surprise surprise, they turned out not to be.

And Monica Lewinsky bought another beret. Which reminds me of a story I don't think I passed on, that The Gap, which was beseiged by requests for a certain blue dress in the days before Halloween, insisted they no longer sold it.

One suggestion I've heard is that Clinton make a new statement: "Everything I say about Monica Lewinsky is a lie." In Star Trek, this sort of thing always made the tyrannical computer blow up, so it's certainly worth trying on Trent Lott.

Sunday, December 13, 1998

Sun, 13 Dec 1998

McCollum says that Clinton can be convicted but not removed from office. Perfect. He smoked marijuana but didn't inhale, he had an affair without having "sexual relations"....

On their last day, the Judiciary Committee changed the 4th article of impeachment totally, to one that no defence was made for because it was never mentioned before. But they dropped the charge of lying to the American people. So a politician can't lie in a deposition, or to a grand jury, or to Congress, but he can to the American people. Gotcha.

The TV Guide lists a Flintstone Christmas special. The theology of this one is just beyond me.

Friday, December 11, 1998

As I write, Hyde is absolutely refusing to make it clear what statements of Clinton the articles of impeachment are charging him with lying about.

Abe Rosenthal, saying his statutory one intelligent comment every twenty years (I think it's a monkeys and typewriters thing), suggests that Richard Nixon should not be the minimum standard of bad behaviour sufficient for impeachment.

Mary Bono earlier today repeated the Republican line that Clinton denied Jones her day in court. In the same speech, she says that he should spare the country the trauma of the impeachment trial by resigning.

Thursday, December 10, 1998

My apologies for misspelling pretty much every name in my last e-mail.

I missed it, but evidently yesterday ABC did a segment on Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Sam Donaldson called for him to be executed. He has also said off-air that blacks refuse to listen to the facts about the case.

Kenya's Y2K commission is expected to report in April 2000. And a joke internet thing purports to be a Microsoft statement that the release of Windows 2000 will be delayed until Spring of 1901.

A drunk driver who ran over a woman in California, now on trial for murder, says it was suicide. She was a Jehovah's Witness who refused a blood transfusion and pulled out an IV. He would seem to have a sort of a case.

It's disheartening that South Africa has been going downhill as badly if more slowly than the Soviet Union. Carjackings are so common that drivers routinely carry a gun on their laps. So carjackers have simply been shooting the drivers. So drivers are now fitting flamethrowers onto their cars. This is legal in South Africa, and in Gotham City.

Follow-up to my continuing arts coverage of the Turner Prize: an illustrator who says that modern art and modern life are rubbish, protested the prize by dumping a load of cow shit on the steps of the Tate Gallery. It would serve the Tate right if it couldn't be removed because it was art.

The US had ordered the Czech Republic to tighten up its security for classified information in advance of joining NATO. Imagine telling an ex-Warsaw Pact country that its security isn't good enough.

1/3 of US metropolitan areas have no facilities for abortions. Where the hell is the RU-486 pill?

I still don't know who the 2 people are who were banned from federal positions forever, as no newspaper has followed up that I've seen. Anybody know? To Aaron Burr, I'm adding a second guess: President John Tyler.

Comments on today's impeachment hearings: what is it with Coble's eyebrows? And why does Bob Barr's mustache keep creeping me out?

Speaking of Barr, earlier this year he was keynote speaker at the Council of Conservative Citizens, which believes that interracial marriage is evil and that Lincoln was elected by communists (really). I meant to check their web site, but haven't yet.

The Judiciary Committee sprang more evidence, the Clinton tapes, that D's weren't allowed to prepare for, and Schippers summed up endlessly for the R's in a snide annoying tone, suggesting that there were lots of other evil things that Clinton did, but that he wasn't allowed to say what they were, and of the Jones lawsuit, said that people don't settle false lawsuits. What country does he live in?

Wednesday, December 09, 1998

Scarlet letters

Switzerland's new federal president (admittedly, a mostly figurehead post) is a two-fer, a woman and a Jew. Ms. Dreifuss would not have been able to vote in Switzerland until she was 31.

British home secretary Jack Straw did not, as I expected, let Pinochet go home today. The dictator's Tory supporters have uncovered a scandal: one of the Law Lords who ruled that he did not have sovereign immunity is connected with a charity connected with Amnesty International. Imagine that being considered a bad thing. He doesn't get shipped off to Spain soon, so he'll be condemned to many more teas with Mrs Thatcher, which is certainly punishment enough.

Haven't heard so much about Chechnya since they started kidnapping every journalist that set foot in the country. The Chechen government made a moderately successful attempt to rescue four British hostages, aid workers, this week. By moderately successful I mean that they did at least get the heads back.

The New York Times explains the election as president of Venezuela of the leader of a failed coup attempt by noting that the coup "forged his credentials as the undeniable outsider." I can't tell if that was intended to be ironic or not.

Bill McCullom, who has no sense of irony, said that impeachment is "the ultimate scarlet letter". I've watched large parts of the last two days of impeachment hearings because I've been too sick to do anything else and it helps me sleep. Yesterday's session made more sense than today's, but my temperature was 3 degrees higher. There must be a black hole under Henry Hyde's chair, because the laws of time and space were clearly breaking down. The defense came before any charges to defend against were enunciated, while the bill of impeachment was written before the whole defense was even heard. This morning the D's asked if they might be allowed to see the charges sometime before they had to make speeches about them. Stensenberner (or whatever his name is) asked whether in turn the R's could see the censure resolution. Barney Frank shot back, "I'll trade you a copy for a vote on the floor."

Clinton is getting desperate. He offered to pay an (unconstitutional) fine, and was willing to say that he would not pardon himself or accept a pardon from his successor (how can you reject a pardon?). I wonder how much he's paying his lawyers to call him "reprehensible" over and over. As for the committee, a group of 35 lawyers complaining about legalisms is a bit rich. You wonder how most of them got through law school. Yesterday, at the end of the questioning of witnesses, after slogging through 36 other Congresscritters asking questions that didn't get answered because their time expired, Mary Bono was a sort of dessert (as I would have said in my e-mail last night, had I been a bit more alert, it is better to speak in tortuous legalisms and be thought a fool, than to speak in plain English and remove all doubt), but today she kept deferring her time to other R's, including at the end to allow Lindsey Graham a 15-minute rave about the smear campaign against poor Monica, which had to be heard to be believed. So what is all this talk about an impeachment trial taking 6 months or a year? Remember, if this all gets past the House, the plea bargaining stops. The House could settle on fines, censures, whatever, the Senate can only remove him from office.

The articles of impeachment, when they came, were a bit of a surprise. They included some of the weakest charges, like making frivolous privilege claims, and lying to his Cabinet. And they want to ban him from office forever, which has evidently only been done to two people in all of US history (I assume some newspaper will tell me who those were, but I'm betting Aaron Burr was one).

Ruff fairly effectively demolished some of the charges today. It makes no sense that Clinton obstructed justice by demanding his gifts to Monica back 10 minutes after he gave her more gifts. Starr evidently relied on a truncated Washington Post report of Clinton allegedly denying knowing that his lawyers were asserting privilege, which he didn't. Etc etc.

Monday, December 07, 1998

There's a very entertaining article on the federal witness protection program in the Washington Post Magazine. My favorites: the witness who tried to go on Letterman to plug his Mafia Cookbook (Dave backed out; the guy threatened to whack him), and the one who ran for mayor of Austin. I think it's a joke, but you never know.

Saturday, December 05, 1998

One of the upsides of the Asian economic crisis has been to decimate the Moonies' business empire.

Article in Friday LA Times compares Henry Hyde's endorsement of lying by Ollie North in 1987 with his opposition to it when Clinton does it.

Sheriff Joe of Phoenix, who hasn't done anything stupid in weeks, that I've heard of, introducing chain gangs of juveniles. Hey, try them as adults and they get the same pup tents, baloney, chains, forcible sodomy, as the adults, and may get the same chance to bury dead poor people.

Michael Huffington, the ex-Mr. Arianna Huffington, announces that he is gay. Nope, sorry Mike, that still doesn't make you interesting. Good try though.

Friday, December 04, 1998

Fri, 4 Dec 1998

As I said, a D.C. jury is unlikely to convict Clinton. Mike Espy, who's only marginally blacker than Clinton, was acquitted by a jury of 11 blacks, who only took 10 hours because, as the Daily Show said, they were trying to decide whether he was black enough. 4 years and $17 million went to naught, although Espy, who took more in freebies than the average American gets in salary, showed a lot of gall in pretending that he deserved to get his reputation back, much less a new job in the Clinton administration.

Tuesday, December 01, 1998

If I read the London Times correctly, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony today from someone convicted of perjury for lying about going to a lesbian bar. Now we're really getting somewhere!

Part of the Wye accord was to be a prisoner release, but it seems that Israel, supposed to release 750 Palestinian, um, freedom fighters, is actually counting towards that number car thieves and violators of the pass laws.

New book: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Impeaching the President.

The news that scientists insist that breast implants cause no illness whatsoever is greeted by the rep of the women plaintiffs as "terrible news". That's a lawyer for you!

Followup on my Turner prize articles: the elephant dung artist won.

I have a couple of comments about the Tony Lewis NYT piece:
the real question is why they felt obligated to swoop on Monica then rather than a couple of days later.

Lewis is concentrating on Starr's people "wanting a crime", but we knew that. This is actually less egregious than using Tripp to convince Monica to try to blackmail the president into getting her a job and obstructing justice. I think the key item in this piece is that any immunity agreement they were dangling in front of her was a fraud in that it wouldn't be valid without the presence of her lawyers. So what they clearly had in mind was wheedling a statement out of her while pretending to give her immunity. This accords with their later conduct when they spent months negotiating with her lawyers over testimony and immunity. If you are just trying to get at the truth, you don't need to negotiate, you just give her immunity and issue a subpoena. The only reason to 1) get a statement without a valid immunity, and then later to 2) negotiate, would be to use the threat of jail to get her to testify the way they wanted her to, true or not. If they were afraid of her lying, she could always be prosecuted for perjury, immunity deal or not. The only reason to try and keep a bigger legal stick in reserve is to get her to lie.