Thursday, November 30, 2000

Euthenasia is now legal in the Netherlands. And drugs, of course, are also legal there. "Whoa dude, do you know what you did last night?"

I thought that when Bush decided to appeal to the US Supreme Court, that would then be the highest authority, and he couldn't dare try to overturn the election (or confirm the election, as he would pretend to believe) through the Florida Legislature or US Congress. And yet he will. Which is fine by me. The less legitimacy he has as president--and he is now likely to have all the moral authority of a substitute teacher--the better I like it.

I watched the Florida mini-legislature this morning and it wasn't as fun as I hoped, but the full session should be an epic geek show, if the novels of Carl Hiaasen are anything to go by. Mostly I had the sound off, checking in every couple of minutes to see if anything interesting was going on; I did listen to Daniel Webster, because of the name.

According to Michael Kinsley (in Slate a couple of days ago, the best source of detailed analysis of the doin's and the rhetoric; see, for example the recent piece "Bush's Miami Lies"), the Bush legal strategy up until Sunday was to say in court that Gore had no right even to be in court until after the certification, because only then would there be something to actually contest. Of course once the certification occurred, the Bushies told the public that now everything was done, over, settled.

This is remarkably similar to what his father pulled over Iran-Contra. For years, he said that he couldn't talk about it because it was still being investigated. And then he said that he wouldn't talk about it because it was ancient history. Evidently no one knew enough to ask him questions during that nanosecond between the two periods.

CNN and MSNBC have been following the Ryder truck with the ballots all the way to Tallahasee as if it was being driven by A.C. Cowling.

Right now some Bushies are on tv. For those keeping track of these things, there seem to be only 2 flags.

In New Mexico, Bushies are claiming that it is suspicious that so many people in one county didn't choose to vote for president and those ballots should be looked at. Precisely the argument Gore's folks are making in Florida, of course.

Monday, November 27, 2000

Kirk Douglas says that we need to have peace in the Middle East, and something about maybe our children can do better than ourselves. I think he did, Kirk, I think he did.

Headline of the week: "Germans Fear the Worst for Sausages"

ITN news commented that we now know what sort of president W would be: the sort who puts in charge of his transition the guy who just had a heart attack.

Bob Dole has an op-ed piece in today's NY Times saying that Gore should concede because he conceded quickly in 1996. Oh fair point, Bob.

Bush went on tv yesterday to tell Gore to give up, that Gore is now not contesting votes but the election outcome. To paraphrase Gore on election night, just because the Lady Macbeth of the Everglades certifies the election doesn't make it so. Notably, Katherine Harris said that she had no choice but to certify the
election without the new votes from Palm Beach County because it was a couple of hours late, although she had shown up Sunday when she could easily have waited another 16 hours according to the Florida Supreme Court, and when she herself was so late getting her hair and makeup and facelifts done that she certified the
election after the Palm Beach results she was ignoring had come in. She also said that she couldn't accept their partial (99.75%) figures submitted by the deadline, which is actually untrue under Florida law.

Personally I remain agnostic but sceptical about the admissibility of dimpled chads. I would have to play around with a stylus and some punch cards for a couple of hours before making up my mind on that one. But any procedure that has counters deciding that a voter must have meant to vote for Gore because they otherwise voted the straight party line has to be wrong. Which means that, clear as it is that more people who went to the polls intended to vote for Gore than for Bush, a count that didn't involve mind-reading might well still return Bush. That said, Palm Beach's ballot design was still illegal, which no one is addressing in court, and Seminole County allowed Republicans to play with absentee ballots that had already been submitted but not those of Democrats, and as the Bush people have been pointing out, different rules is a violation of the 14th amendment.

The best way for this story to be driven out of the newspapers for ever is for Clinton to send in the Marines. I mean it. He sent in the Marines to Haiti and are we paying any attention to their elections, now occurring? Of course not. Has Aristide, the little priest, turned into a complete raving lunatic? Possibly, but there isn't enough coverage to tell. What do you suppose is going on in Somalia these days? We ignored the East Bloc so long that Romania is about to return to communism, and no one is paying any attention. In Kosovo, NATO is talking about having joint patrols of the Kosovo-Serbian border---with the Yugoslav Army! Which we were bombing just last year. How did that happen?

Friday, November 24, 2000

So once again a politician, Dick Cheney, has been lying about his health. They said he was perfectly healthy despite having had 37 heart attacks in the past, they did not say that his heart function was depressed. Whoever was in charge of picking this guy as VP should really have looked into this better.

2 British soldiers imprisoned 6 years for shooting an unarmed Catholic teenager dead in Belfast were allowed to resume their military careers.

In Finland, fines can be related to income. A dot-com millionaire was just fined $77,000 for speeding.

Clinton's gone to Vietnam, but the question remains whether he will go to that other hostile territory, Nebraska, which he has never visited as president.

Thursday, November 23, 2000

10 years since Thatcher was tossed out. How time flies.

Actually, I've come to think that Bush and Gore are both robots. I just think that Bush's programming is Windows-based. I especially liked his "The Legislature's job is to write the law. It's the executive branch's job to interpret law." Great, will somebody just give him some maritime law to get on with interpreting, then we won't have to worry about seeing him for the next 4 years.

The Bushies' ongoing assumption that the only fair election is one in which Bush is elected (and Bush did say so in as many words today. It wasn't in the NY Times transcript, but I wrote down "If there is a fair and accurate count", it would show that he had won. This is the Bush smugness at its purest, and it will get him into a great deal of trouble some day. Of course at the same time he said that Cheney hadn't had a heart attack.

As William Saletan points out in a piece well worth reading in
Slate.com, posted Wednesday, every time an institution disagrees with the Bushies', they trash it. They literally spent the entire day bad-mouthing the Florida Supreme Court. Every election board, every court they don't like is evidently an enemy of the republic, personally corrupt and unpatriotic. At least the rest of us are only attacking Katherine (I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille) Harris.

We've now got James Baker, Trent Lott and Dick Armey all suggesting that if the count doesn't go their way in Florida, they will expect the legislature to overturn the vote. What is amazing to me is that no analyst is linking this explicitly with the last attempted Constitutional coup aimed at overturning an election, which took place only 2 years ago.

At least when Bush wins we've now got the makings of a jolly good fight for supremacy of the Senate, which now does look to be 50-50 after all.

The D's are already saying that the VP may have a casting vote in case of a tie, but that this does not apply to committee chairmanships, which should be split into co-chairs, one from each party. OK, who would we most like to see Hillary co-chair of what committee with? I just wish that Barney Frank and Dick Armey could be co-chairs of, oh say the armed services committee, but they're in the wrong house.

I don't foresee Bush getting his nominees through in an especially timely fashion. This could only get nastier. I can't wait.

Saturday, November 18, 2000

Losing in the courts, the Bushies are claiming that Democratic hand-counters are stealing votes from them. Could be true, but at this stage, and as intellectually dishonest as they've been, who would believe them? Of course the Dems know this, so.... Meanwhile, Katherine Harris, who only thinks that maroon is her color, has issued rules on overseas absentee ballots at variance with the law to get more of them in. And R's in the state legislature are discussing taking away the selection of the electors from the voters altogether and doing it themselves. That they can is more proof that the Constitution needs a re-write.

It is probably true that we can't abolish the Electoral College, no matter how stupid most of know it to be, but would it be that hard to end the winner-take-all policy? Yes, it would require either 48 separate campaigns or an Amendment to the Constitution, the latter being preferable, but why not?

My mother asked why Florida, which must of all states have the highest proportion of its population arthritic, would be relying on styluses.

I say let's skip the courts and go straight to the civil war. In Florida, of course.

Friday, November 17, 2000

Yesterday, the Bushies magnanimously announced that they would not contest the election in Iowa, which they had lost by 4,000 votes they were never going to make up and whose electoral votes wouldn't help them anyway. Neither the NY Times or the Washington Post noted that the Gore campaign's response was a sardonic announcement that they would not challenge the election in Texas.

Thursday, November 16, 2000

Useless but interesting scientific fact of the week: bowhead whales live into their 200s, the longest-lived mammals.

India's new trend in models: eunuchs.

Someone just spent $180,000 on an oil painting of Winnie the Pooh. Now that's an investment for you. On a par, really, with those who invested their life savings in "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Nader" bumper stickers.

Monday, November 13, 2000

It's the buggery, stupid


The fun in Florida never ends. It seems that in Duval County, 9% of the ballots were tossed out, mostly in black Democratic neighborhoods, suggesting that it's not just the butterfly ballots (another good name for a rock band) but something seriously wrong with Florida elections. Going on past history, the Republicans (motto: With Election Machines, Nothing Can Go Wrong Can Go Wrong Can Go Wrong Can Go Wrong) (come on people, Westworld, let's keep up with the references here) may be right to suggest that Florida aspire to the integrity of Cook County.

Given the Florida secretary of state's intransigence in trying to force an abandonment of the recount by tomorrow, you should catch up with one of the biographies of her, in Salon, for example, but the London Times has one so everyone must. Trust Florida to elect someone previously caught in campaign finance law violations to oversee their elections.

Meanwhile in Britain, the House of Lords votes for the 3rd time to veto the Commons' vote to lower the age of male homosexual consent to 16 to match the heterosexual age of consent. Under the Parliament Act of 1911, the law should go into effect over the Lords' objection sometime this year. Here is a hilarious account of the debate by the Times's parliamentary correspondent, himself a former Tory MP and homosexual.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 14 2000
A pleasure peers ought never to be denied
MATTHEW PARRIS - PARLIAMENTARY SKETCH

THE Bill equalising the age of homosexual consent must not pass. It must stay in the House of Lords forever, batted around in perpetual debate. Talking about unusual sexual practices affords peers such pleasure that it would be wrong to deprive them (or Britain) of the fun. One baron started fantasising about an anal spliff.

The Baroness Young could not stop saying buggery: far more important, she said, than the Dome.

The trim Baroness had devised amendments of such fiendish complexity that to explain them she had to say buggery repeatedly.

Buggery in England with men and women, buggery in Scotland with girls under 18, buggery at 17 in Northern Ireland with either sex . . . on and on she went. For variety the Baroness would sometimes say sodomy.

Then she would toy with anal intercourse. Lady Young coined the phrase the age of buggery, which I momentarily supposed to be her grand summary of the epoch, England having made the sad and Gibbonesque decline from the Age of Empire and the Age of Steam to the Age of Buggery.

Now I turn to girls, she said, rather severely. The press gallery (infested with sketchwriters) was by now giggling disgracefully at imagined double-entendres.

"For girls the position is quite different." We were unclear what position Lady Young had in mind, "but my amendments maintain the position." More giggling. Of all types of lovemaking (she advised), anal intercourse is the most dangerous sexual practice.

Not in my experience, came a fearsome growl from the Independent's seasoned sketchwriter, who has been to New Zealand.

Let me quote from the manufacturers of Durex, continued Lady Young, remorselessly. Condoms seemed to excite their lordships and ladyships greatly. One wonders whether the Baroness Seccombe, in her days as a deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, ever realised where it would all end: hitting www.lovelife.org on the web, then leaping to her feet in a crowded Chamber to trill that condoms are available in all sorts of colours, shapes, flavours and sizes as peers reeled back, aghast.

Lord McColl of Dulwich, too, wanted to talk about condoms: specifically slippage rates. In trials (he said) the slippage rate was 21 per cent. Peers longed for Lord McColl to tell them exactly how the trials were conducted, but on this he was vague.

And then there was Lord Selsdon, who took the opportunity (these are rare) to share his thoughts on things you could put up your bottom.

Drugs, for instance. You can, he revealed, stuff them up your rear end. Nostrils (he added) were another orifice you could insert things into, though we trust he was only talking about drugs here and perhaps jelly-babies.

I find it difficult to use the word buggery for the first time in this House, he said, rolling the word teasingly around in his mouth, but then I thought back to my days in the Army and how it used to be a friendly phrase -- well I'm buggered!.

The Earl of Longford insisted that homosexuals should not be condemned. The Earl (94) illustrated what he meant by not condemning: homosexualism was a sad disorder, he said, like schizophrenia and chronic alcoholism. Seduce a girl of 16, he added, and that was a dreadful shame. But seduce a young man and he would become a rent boy.

Lord Selsdon said that he had eaten the private parts of a green monkey.

Please, Mr Blair, don’t take this Bill away from them.

Saturday, November 11, 2000

Hanging chads

Well, I'm finally having fun. Richard Nixon and Cook County held up as electoral paragons, the 1997 Texas recount law, hanging chads (which would make a great name for a rock band, as Dave Barry will be sure to point out), and so on.

Bush's new slogan: "They trust the people, we trust machines." When he heard the election was up to the Floridians, Dubya went to court because foreigners shouldn't be allowed to vote in the US. This is also his campaign's problem with the manual count (don't groan, you'll be telling it tomorrow).

In gay election news, a major party nominated an out gay for Senate for the first time (Vermont--didn't have a chance), and the 1st out homosexual is elected to a Southern state legislature (Georgia). A male and female respectively.

Alabama elects as chief justice of the supreme court that idiot who kept refusing to take down the 10 Commandments from his court-room.

Friday, November 10, 2000

So if there isn't a president-elect by inauguration day, it goes to Strom Thurmond. If he's challenged for being 98 and a loon even when he wasn't senile, it goes to Larry Summers. Ok, that's clear then.

The Republicans are suddenly so unconcerned with precision. So what if the election is only an approximation of the actual will of the electorate, it's close enough for government work. Not the arguments they were using over the 2000 Census, to be sure, but roughly the same ones they like to use about the death penalty in Texas, and elsewhere: it doesn't have to be perfect, just roughly approximate the forms prescribed by law, there shouldn't be any proper appeal if election officials/lawyers/judges were asleep and failed to carry out their jobs correctly, and above all, there should be finality. Not justice, not fairness, just finality. Go ahead, next time a Bush spokesmodel is defending the Florida vote, just insert the words death penalty and see if I'm not right.

The District of Columbia has started issuing license plates with the motto "Taxation Without Representation."

I can now marry a black woman in Alabama. Somehow the idea does not particularly appeal, but at least I have the option.

Thursday, November 09, 2000

You don't have to be so snippy about it

Bush works out some of the tension of waiting for poll results by
executin’ a guy. I understand that barbeques are also traditional in Texas.

Don't know if you saw the footage of the South African police dogs being ordered as part of a training exercise to savage black suspects, but the dogs are now to be examined by animal psychologists to determine whether they are racists, in which case they'll be killed.

Wednesday, November 08, 2000

Election and whatnot

Well, it's more entertainment than we got from the actual election, isn't it?

What I want to know is, why do I never get a chance to vote for a dead guy?

Look at Salon for Wednesday, Jacob Weisberg's piece on why Al Gore lost (which he did, stop living with hope right now).

For my money, Gore didn't lose because we didn't like him, but because he didn't like us, and it showed. Call it condescension, but really he didn't like campaigning because he doesn't much care for people who are not like himself. He was a member of the American House of Lords, the hereditary aristocracy, and considered himself to be above the task of explaining his policies to the proles. Bush, another member of the hereditary aristocracy, has spent all his life pretending not to be one,
in order to be liked. Usually he takes it a bit far, as when he chewed tobacco at Harvard Business School, which he thought showed his down-to-earthness, but really just showed that behaviour is tolerated from an aristo puppy which would not be tolerated from you or me. The opposite of Gore, Bush liked campaigning but will be no good at governing. For him, it is all downhill from here.

Which we wouldn't have to find out if we could just get Palm Beach County to vote again, this time with a properly laid-out ballot. If you haven't yet seen what that ballot looked like, find a picture. It is genuinely confusing and non-intuitive, as the mysteriously high Buchanan vote there shows.

If you want light comic relief from the thought of a(nother) Bush
presidency, see the London Times's story "Man Cooked Wife's Head to Cover Killing."

Monday, November 06, 2000

Twits, poltroons and supercilious gits


In a move that evidently has something to do with its bid for the 2008 Olympics, Beijing has ordered that the town be painted... gray.

I saw a commercial with the slogan "Make 7 Up Yours". Call it my inherited marketing research skills, but I don't think they should be associating their product with the phrase "up yours."

The town of Virgin, Utah has passed a law requiring all residents to keep a gun and ammo in their homes. To protect their Utah-ity, no doubt.

Favorite piece of advertising of the election period: in the 15th Congressional district here, the National Republican Congressional Committee attacked Mike Honda's criminal record and showed him (in a flier) behind bars. Meaning that he was interned for being Japanese as a child.

From Die Tageszeitung: "On Tuesday, the most self-absorbed and least politically interested people in the world are going to elect the most important government in the world." Sounds like an endorsement of Bush to me.

From the London Times, excerpted (necessary piece of information: Parliament has a new Speaker):

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 7 2000
Prescott twits Tory over flood of publicity
MATTHEW PARRIS, PARLIAMENTARY SKETCH

THE Deputy Prime Minister yesterday called Anne McIntosh a twit, which caused an unholy row. It is not the first time John Prescott has failed to get in touch with his feminine side.

Up she leapt. Is it parliamentary language for one Hon Member to call another a twit? It may well be. Each Speaker makes his own determinations anew. Poltroon, was disallowed in 1881, cheeky young pup in 1953, stinker in 1958, supercilious git in 1984, ignorant twat in 1990 and little squirt in 1992.

But snivelling little git got through 25 years ago, and wet-necked twits was accepted in 1992. Twit followed (in Betty Boothroyds time I think).

Yet Mr Speaker Martin didn’t like the term and wanted to help Miss McIntosh. How should he rule: parliamentary, or unparliamentary? It isn’t nice, he replied, deftly.

Saturday, November 04, 2000

So evidently it's a dirty Democratic trick to have (possibly) been behind the publication of entirely true facts that George D-Dubya-I Bush has been trying to keep secret. If you lie about your past, you don't really have the right to complain when the other side releases their information at a strategic time.
And in retrospect does he really think that lying about his record was the right way to set a good example to his children? I want to have a button where, whenever a Republican who pursued Clinton Javert-like over a failed land deal from the 1970s, complains about Bush's ancient history being brought up, I
can press it and their head explodes. This seems only fair.

A C of E priest has refused to baptize a baby Maximus Lucius, after the lead character in "Gladiator." The mother's previous children are named Chantelle, Kingsley and Alexander, and she evidently wanted to ensure that this one was beaten up even more regularly.

I trust everyone is following the saga of Diego Garcia, the little island in the Indian Ocean that the US coerced Britain into leasing to us in 1965, and expelling its 2,000 inhabitants. The High Court has ruled that the order that they never return was illegal, but the US, which uses a bit of one part of the island as an air base, is still demanding that the natives be excluded. They are all living in poverty on Mauritius.

The NY Times Week in Review section has excerpts from the Texas "let sleeping lawyers lie" ruling.

Wednesday, November 01, 2000

animal stories

Gore's foreign policy is to be something called "strategic humility".

2nd best London Times headline today: Farmer Keeper Water Buffalo Dry.

The best: Navy to rescue falling penguins