Sunday, October 31, 1999

Yet another NY Times editorial about the New Isolationism. There isn’t really a new isolationism, in that no one is advocating that the US abandon the international arena. Some are advocating that it abandon its international responsibilities, but that is another matter entirely. What they are saying is that the US won the cold war and can do anything it wants, including forcing other countries to do whatever we want them to, but without any pretense of ideology, or any of the duties that accrue to power. And that is my final word on the New Isolationism.

Monty Python once envisioned elections fought by the Sensible Party, the Slightly Silly Party, and the Very Silly Party. I think we’ve got something like that now. I saw several headlines about the new Argentine president that used the word “boring.” Now about three years back one of the genres that could be spotted in my e-mails was the wacky South American politician story. You couldn’t be elected mayor of Lima or president of Ecuador without getting married inside a lion’s cage and calling yourself El Loco. Now the old election-o-meter has swung back to the boring party. I think this country needs to scrap the existing party system and switch to the Boring Party and the Entertaining Party. Gore versus Ventura. Hell, the only way Gore will ever get elected president is in a massive reaction to four years of rule by the Silly Party. A modest proposal for 4 in the morning. Or 3 in the morning, but I’m entirely in support of the guy in the Czech Republic who’s trying to stop Daylight Savings Time in court. He calls it genocide, I’m not quite sure why, but I know what party he supports.

Saturday, October 30, 1999

I understand the website of the Florida Supreme Court has pictures from an execution. Those whacky guys! One execution just got postponed because the guy now thinks he’s Jesus or something. A state legislator offered to build a cross himself.

The Russians finally admit that they knew all along what happened to Hitler, and he’s evidently not in Argentina. They kept the bones, burning and disposing of most of them in the German sewer system in 1970. The skull is still somewhere in KGB files. Is this a perfect Halloween story or what?

So the US & NATO went into Kosovo, killed 1,500 or so civilians through bombing, in order to stop the massive genocide going on. So where are all the bodies? Where are the mass graves? We can find these things from orbit now, so where are they? Well, they’ve turned up some bodies so far, maybe 1,400, and it doesn’t look like there are going to be more than a few thousand.

Thursday, October 28, 1999

The newest country in the UN--evidently it slipped in last month without my noticing--is Nauru. Nauru’s economy is evidently no longer entirely dependent on bird shit, since they’ve evidently mined it all, and is now based on laundering Russian mob money.

In 1857, faced with the entry of the British, the Xhosa (of South Africa--Nelson Mandela is one) came up with the brilliant idea, well actually a 15-year old girl had a vision, and killed all of their cattle, 200,000 head, and stopped planting crops. Oddly enough, this resulted in many of them starving to death. Naturally, they blame the British and yesterday sent Prince Charles a bill.

Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Clinton signs pork-laden DOD budget, saying “I cannot allow our national security needs to be held hostage to this budget battle.” Ah, an arms-for-hostages deal. Come back, Ollie North, all is forgiven.

Pat Buchanan said yesterday “The backsliding toward hyphenated Americanism must end.” Buchanan, a fascist-American, then went on tv and divided blame for Auschwitz between the Nazis and oddly enough the Russian NKVD.

AP article from Franklin, Ohio: “A high school teacher has been reprimanded for offering as a writing assignment the question: “If you had to assassinate one famous person who is alive right now, who would it be and how would you do it?”

NY Times headline, “For Her 52d Birthday, the First Lady Feels Like Raising a Million, and Does”. At the fund-raiser, Mia Farrow read from Hillary’s book It Takes a Village. You cannot make stuff like that up. Nor would you want to.

Monday, October 25, 1999

Fairness and Accuracy in Media reports that the Observer story about the US intentionally bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade has still not been picked up by the evening broadcasts of the 3 networks, the NY Times, US Today, etc...

Things to read: Molly Ivins’s analysis of the dangers of the new banking/insurance re-monopolization bill; Jacob Weisberg’s piece in Slate analyzing last Friday’s Republican debates.

Pat Buchanan is not worried about running against The Donald, insisting that the Reform Party nomination is not for sale. Um, right. I forget, who have they nominated in the past?

Obit of the week, Van France, who wrote the Disneyland manual “for teaching Disneyland employees precisely how to smile”. To quote the NY Times: “Among graduates of Mr. France’s Disney University are the comedian Steve Martin and Ronald Ziegler, Richard Nixon’s press secretary.”

Now that we’re seriously entering the business of transplanting hearts and lungs from pigs to humans, Britain will require transplantees to promise not to have children. We should be going further and requiring sterilization; this is too seriously dangerous to fuck around with.


A New York magazine competition, calling for brief smart-aleck reviews:
Eyes Wide Shut: And keep them that way.

The Making of the President: No, it’s not what you think.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Some assembly required.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Two thumbs off.

Misery: doesn’t love company.

Unfinished Business: Mediocr.

The Stranger: In bookstores today. Or yesterday...

The Dead: You better believe it.

Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: You’ve read the title, now read the book.

Witness: Amish-mash.

Das Kapital: It’s the economy, stupid.

The Prince of Egypt: Passover.

The Last Emperor: Deja fu.

Hamlet: Mundane.

[NOTE: More New York Magazine competitions here.]

Sunday, October 24, 1999


A few days ago I sent out the annual Turner Prize article, which mentioned a piece of “art” at the Tate Gallery featuring a bed with stains and rumpled sheets and whatnot recalling the four days the artist spent sick on it.

Today, some Chinese performance artists stripped to their underwear and jumped up and down on the bed, having a pillow fight. Everybody’s a critic.

Friday, October 22, 1999

More peers’ campaign statements

Russia is saying the Grozny market they bombed yesterday was an arms market. Right.

More of those 75-word manifestos by peers seeking to be elected to retain their seats in the House of Lords (earlier post here), culled from a couple of papers:

The 13th Earl of Seafield, a Tory Old Etonian, used Latin to argue his case: “Being a small and happy bison farmer with aspirations above his station has not yet been a bar to energetic service of Country and Sovereign through an independent chamber. Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere [If it ain’t bust, don’t mend it.]”

Lord Pender, an old Etonian former Army officer, is admirably succinct and has put forward the shortest manifesto containing one word: “Duty”.

The veteran Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Avebury, sets out his stall as a “full time member, Buddhist, cyclist, Camberwell resident, paterfamilias”.

Earl Alexander of Tunis: ‘By the living God who made me, but I love this country. My father fought for her all his life and I too have worn her colours with pride. If it is given to me to remain in your Lordships’ House I will struggle with all I have to offer.’ [You’re a better hereditary peer than I am, Gunga Din]

Earl Arran: ‘With a sometimes over zealous and triumphalist Executive, a Second Chamber of independence and good sense, of reflection and correction, is so important to the respect for Parliament by the British people. Such lifeblood of independence I will fight to preserve.’

Earl De La Warr: ‘Attendance record poor. Reason - full-time job in City (Director of Corporate Finance Department of a European Investment Bank), not lack of interest.”

Earl Granard: ‘Vote for a conservative counterbalance to the ‘Trendy’ modernising influence of The Lords Spiritual. Is nothing sacred?’

Earl Lauderdale: ‘Chairman European Scrutiny Sub-Committee F (later D) 1974-79 notorious therein for requiring crisp clarity instead of verbose ‘officialese’ in Committee reports.’

Lord Seaford: ‘Being a small and happy bison farmer with aspirations above his station has not yet been a bar to energetic service of Country and Sovereign through an independent chamber.’ [Now, wait, is *he* small and happy or are the bison small and happy?]


Viscount Alanbrooke: ‘The THIRD REICH was defeated largely through the strategic planning of Sir Winston Churchill and Field Marshal The Viscount Alanbrooke, CIGS and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Alanbrooke was awarded a HEREDITARY peerage in 1946. His massive contribution to the continuance of our freedom can be respected by ensuring that the Honour conferred on him by Monarch and People should be maintained in the exact detail intended for perpetuity.’

Lord Amwell: ‘A working class hereditary peer - rare species. A chartered engineer and the House’s only chartered geologist.’

Baroness Arlington: ‘My determination and resolve has been immeasurably strengthened by the sudden death of my husband who played such an important part in supporting me this year when I took my seat.’

Lord Catto: ‘For the last 40 years since my father died I have considered it morally wrong, purely from accident of birth, to presume to become a member of a legislative body. On the other hand I strongly support a bicameral system with a small number of representative hereditary peers included to maintain and support the monarchy and the great traditions of our country.’ [So what the hey]

Lord Craigmyle: ‘I came to your Lordships’ House in the same spirit as I would have accepted jury duty, or call-up in times of war. Had I wanted to stand for election, I would have tried another place, long ago.’


Lord Rea: ‘Initially a reluctant peer, I now attend and sing for my supper regularly.’

Thursday, October 21, 1999

So has anyone heard of this California state senator Pete Wright who is sponsoring an anti-gay marriage initiative and has a gay son and a dead gay brother, mentioned in tomorrow’s Washington Post? The son is evidently writing op-ed pieces about what a bigot his father is. I’m just guessing that Orange County is involved in this story somewhere.

Russia, still following NATO’s Kosovo playbook, bombs a maternity hospital.

Britain, to make Jiang Zemin at home during his state visit, has been beating up protestors and taking away Tibetan flags. One protestor who probably won’t be beaten up: Prince Charles, who is boycotting the state banquet.

Women MPs in Britain are getting a breastfeeding room. I’ll bet Congress doesn’t have that.

Did you know that nuclear weapons are illegal? Evidently the International Court of Justice ruled that in 1996. Today, a British court let off some women who snuck onto a Trident submarine base and started wrecking the place, on the grounds that the nukes were illegal.

Elizabeth Dole pulls out of the Presidential race, citing lack of money, and calls for the passing of stringent campaign finance reform. I kid, of course. Now the elections will be sadly lacking her message and her issues, which had something to do with being chosen as vice president and being a woman (although she did always look like a man in drag to me).

A report is released listing most of the 23 countries in which the US stored nukes in the ‘50s. What doesn’t seem to have made the American papers is that less than 10 years after the end of World War II Luftwaffe pilots had effective control over nuclear warheads. This ended in 1960, when we figured out how to put The Club on them.

Wednesday, October 20, 1999

Jesse Helms is holding up the nomination of former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun as ambassador to New Zealand because she opposed the United Daughters of the Confederacy using the Confederate battle flag.

Russia is finally ending its military occupation of Latvia on Thursday. Yeah, it was a surprise to me too.

Tuesday, October 19, 1999

A Teheran court sentences someone to have his eyes gouged out before he is hanged.

David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, says that the sectarian marches are just good old fashioned fun for the whole family, folk festivals if you will, which one day will be major tourist attractions. I can just see it. The Macy’s Anniversary of King Billy Kicking the Crap Out of the Bloody Papists Day Parade. Just needs the addition of large helium balloons of lovable cartoon characters like Bullwinkle, Snoopy and Ian Paisley.

Friday, October 15, 1999

Lords have mercy

In Britain, the new Liberal Democrat spokesman on women’s issues is a man. He says that this is appropriate since it’s men who cause most of women’s problems. For example, he himself is divorced.

The neighbors of Hugh Hefner are complaining that his parties use up all the parking spaces in the neighborhood.

So how did France get hold of Carlos the Jackal five years ago? It seems they made a deal involving sending military equipment and satellite photos to Sudan, which I need hardly tell you is a terrorist state.

I mentioned a while back that hereditary members of the House of Lords were asked to submit 75-word statements on why they should be elected to the 92 spots allotted for hereditaries on a temporary basis in the reformed House. Some of those statements have been submitted. These are culled from the Times and Telegraph.

Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is campaigning on a platform of muzzling cats in public to prevent the “agonising torture” of mice and little birdies.

Baroness Strange reminded peers that the Lords would be a duller place without her. She brings flowers every day.

The Conservative peers Lord Morris and the Earl of Onslow made it clear that the whole thing was simply in bad taste. “It is hardly for me to attempt to proselytise my candidature; it is a matter for my peers,” Lord Morris said. The Earl of Onslow declared “It would be as vainglorious to proclaim a personal manifesto, as it would be arrogant to list any achievement.”

Viscount Torrington, at 56 a relatively junior member of the Lords, risks allegations of unsportsmanlike conduct by implicitly drawing attention to the age of his rivals. He said: “I believe that I am young enough to continue to contribute with enthusiasm and energy to (the House of Lords’) work.”

Lord Geddes demonstrates a populist touch by adopting the slogan “brains; breadth; brevity”, and Lord Montagu of Beaulieu stresses his knowledge of issues including the New Forest and the historic vehicle movement.

(Note: more campaign statements here.)
Evidently the execution warrant signed for Mumia yesterday has nothing to do with execution, but is intended to harass him by putting him on death watch, and to force him to submit his habeas appeal to federal court earlier than he had intended, to try to force him into a legal error. Cute.

6 billion people. Could everyone scootch over a bit? Thank you. Fortunately, this is not a problem with the United States, which evidently has no population problem, even though every kid here will consume as many resources as your average African village. A modest proposal: cancel next year’s census. Let’s not do reapportionment anymore. India stopped doing that in order to let state governments that are successful in population control not be penalized.

Thursday, October 14, 1999

Well the good news about the Pakistani coup is that control of the nuclear button was never in doubt because control is already in the hands of the military. The bad news is that control of the nuclear button is in the hands of the military. Wonder who has it in India?

Supreme Court lets stand a ruling that a defendent is not entitled to a lawyer for a habeas corpus hearing, even if he is semi-retarded and due to be executed for a crime committed when he was 17. He went into court and kept asking, what am I supposed to be saying, what am I supposed to be doing.

Also, a warrant of execution has been signed for Mumia Al-whatsit for December.

Monica Lewinsky’s father is threatening to sue a tv show (I forget which one, and I watched it, too) for referring to oral sex as “getting a Lewinsky.”

Does anyone know anything about Ulysses S Grant expelling Jews from Tennessee during the Civil War?

Monday, October 11, 1999

Kansas (I already did the “If I only had a brain” joke, right?) now deletes the Big Bang from its science curriculum, along with evolution.

Tony Blair reshuffles his Cabinet, putting disgraced friend Peter Mandelson in charge of Northern Island, which is less a rehabilitation (M borrowed some money from a Cabinet colleague to buy a house, big deal) than a purgatory. I checked four British papers to see if any of them would have the nerve to comment on the fact that the man being sent to oversee a sectarian conflict is Jewish. They did not, which makes it the most interesting ommission since the NY Times story last week about France choosing a new model for statues of Marianne, a 21-year old underwear model, and running with it a picture of her from the neck up only. Mandelson is also gay, which should piss off both sides about equally. Since the “peace” deal, both sides have been stepping up their policing activities, beating up and kneecapping and executing and exiling in larger numbers than ever before, while the government pretends nothing is happening.

Sunday, October 10, 1999

New Mexico removes creationism from the state curriculum.

There was a bio of Gore’s early years in yesterday’s Wash Post. Who’da guessed it, he was a tattle tale.

The Scottish Catholic Church has been paying 12 and 14 year olds not to have abortions.

Friday, October 01, 1999

Bulgaria abolishes the death penalty.

I know I’m not the only one who can’t see tv news reports of nuclear accidents in Japan without looking in the background for Godzilla.

In H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, Martian invaders were brought down by the common cold; in 1999 a NASA probe to Mars was brought down by the metric system. Coincidence? I think not.

And a big happy b-day to the People’s Republic of China. I especially liked the sight of 100,000 party members chanting the approved slogans, like “Hey hey, ho ho, Long live great Marxist-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory!” and, “Hey hey, LBJ, Rely on the working class wholeheartedly!”