Sunday, December 30, 2001

The EU is great, isn't it? Spain just released the country's largest drug smuggler on bail pending a trial at which he faced a 60 year prison term, because evidently jails frighten him. It's a phobia, see? The EU has turned Spain into Sweden, that's the only explanation.

The guy disappeared, of course.

India has given Pakistan a list of 30 people it wants turned over, and also says that it can win a nuclear war.

Saturday, December 29, 2001

I mentioned that Sharon's choice for head anti-terrorism adviser had killed Palestinian prisoners with a rock, but should have made it clear that Sharon knew it. The man, of course, was pardoned and never served a day.

A Dutch man called his wife and told her he'd been kidnapped, in order to spend Christmas with his mistress.

A Utah company is adding to the DVD player what it surely needed: censorship. Don't want to see Kate Winslet's boobs in Titanic (or any other movie she's ever made), or those disquieting dead people in Saving Private Ryan? You'll be able to download a "fix," putting a corset on Kate and flak over the corpses.

I can't believe it took so long, but Pakistan finally threatened India with nukes (for the first time this month, anyway). And India is busily preparing camoflage for the Taj Mahal.

Remember all those movies about the pyramids in Egypt being constructed by slaves dragging huge rocks? Nope, it seems the pyramids aren't carved stone at all but were molded on site.

Getting anxious for the US to pick on another country? Somalia, Iraq, whatever? It seems the real reason that it hasn't happened is that after bombing Sudan, Afghanistan and Kosovo with hundreds of cruise missiles, we're almost out of stock. There are still Tomahawks, but their range isn't long enough to reach many of the targets inside Iraq, and that would leave the Navy without missiles.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Said a producer of Ally McBeal, "I wish Ally McBeal and other shows could be [in Afghanistan] to show them what the real world is like."

Israel's High Court says that Sharon's top anti-terrorism adviser must step down, and all he did wrong was beat two Palestinian prisoners to death with a rock 17 years ago.

Tony Blair, on vacation in Egypt, is present as a 4,600 year old skeleton is dug up, and is now subject to a curse. Sadly, he is to be eaten by a crocodile, a hippopatamus and a lion.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

I don't know what my neighbors have been up to, but our garbage can has melted.

Goodbye, Sir Humphrey Appleby.

Tom Friedman of the NY Times suggests dealing with terrorism by having everyone fly naked (which would also keep the religious fanatics off). I just want to point out that I suggested this for schools after Columbine, as taking care of both the concealed weapons problem and the school uniforms issue. But did anyone listen, no they did not.

According to the Post, the government's adopt a wild horse program is still leading straight to the Alpo factory.

The Post also says that Bush is going to his ranch for "only" the 2nd time since 9/11. Poor baby, only 2 vacations in 3 months, how sad.

The Post also observes a last-minute sweetheart deal to Boeing, whereby the government leased 4 airplanes instead of buying them outright, at an increased cost of only $7 billion (or $26 billion, if you question the need to buy the planes in the first place).

All the Justice Department money for DNA testing of potentially innocent people went instead to DNA testing to see which blob of World Trade Center victim goes into which tupperware container.

To end on a happy note, Cambodia has been cracking down on vice lately, and is threatening to destroy karoake bars with tanks.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

The British can bet on anything, elections, the Booker prize, dog shows, and yes, whether or not it will be a white Christmas. It was, so the punters are happy.

Israel did keep Arafat from Christmas mass, which would suggest to some their continuing unfitness to superintend the holy sites and the illegitimacy of their claim to Jerusalem. Today, 3 people die in Palestinian protests about Arafat not being allowed to worship Christ, or something.

The Germans are trying to figure out how to dispose of several trillion deutschmarks, as the euro comes in. You can buy a bag of shredded marks to use as confetti. It is waxed, so is not appropriate as toilet paper.

Monday, December 24, 2001

Israel says that Arafat cannot go to Bethlehem unless he arrests two of the assassins of the tourism minister. How very Christmassy. I think myrrh is a bit more traditional, but what the hell.

Something must be wrong with me: I can't think of anything funny to say about exploding shoes.

Saturday, December 22, 2001

The Observer suggests that I was right about that Afghan convoy and how it got targeted. Today the US military claimed that the convoy had shot a missile at it, which seems an odd thing not to have reported yesterday if true.

Friday, December 21, 2001

Sign seen in Berkeley: "The world does not need another unjust war." Damn, some planets are so hard to shop for.

License plate seen on Highway 24: "JaneEyre." "Reader I married him, moved to the suburbs, and bought an SUV."

The "Today's Paper" for Friday in Slate has an amusing comparison of quotes from newspapers stories of sightings of the giant squid and bin Laden, respectively.

Pakistan demands proof from India before arresting the people responsible for the attacks on its parliament. Although this sounds familiar, the US is still on Pakistan's side. India does seem to be planning war.

The US bombed a convoy today, killing many. It says Al Qaeda leaders, others say tribal leaders and supporters of the new interim warlord-in-chief (who we also almost hit with a bomb). Reading in between the lines of the London Times report, I'll bet it turns out that certain members of the coalition fed false information to US intelligence to get it to wipe out other members of the coalition. I'll also bet this will never be admitted.

The Israeli army has inflicted on those officers who planted the booby traps in Palestine killing 5 boys on their way to school a jolly stiff... reprimand.

Congress abandons efforts to protect the insurance industry from having to pay out for future terrorist attacks--at least for now.

Unless of course you count the victims' fund, one condition of which is that recipients not sue the airlines. Since when is federal relief money conditioned on not suing private companies? One might also ask why they're being paid anything, since private charities including the Red Cross already have enough to make the 9/11 survivors all very comfortable indeed without tossing in another average $1.6 million each from tax dollars. Or is that what a Republican would say?
The US position on the attack on the Indian Parliament is exactly the same as that of Pakistan: India should share its intelligence with Pakistan, which will no doubt be eager to assist. And even more eager to find out how much India knows about what it's up to. Think about this for a moment. Even forgetting that the US is backing the probable aggressor in an attempt to wipe out India's leadership (no great loss, some would say), but its position is so naive as to suggest that no one spent even a minute thinking about it before issuing a statement, which is a little frightening given that these two countries are volatile and nuked up.

Speaking of statements issued hurriedly, the US is now giving a new transcript of that Osama bin Laden tape, which supposedly they sat on for a month and then translated very hurriedly last week and released while still incomplete. Again, how stupid are we supposed to be? They're spending billions to "bring bin Laden to justice," but only started translating a tape of him after having it in their possession a couple of weeks? And evidently, he called black people a naughty word ("slaves"). Take that, Barbara Lee!

Thursday, December 20, 2001

Two members of Parliament complained to the British tv regulatory agency about having been tricked into appearing in a hoax documentary, in which they decried a (fictional) internet game in which paedophiles physically manipulate children on-line, and special pants for hiding erections. The MPs were told it was their own fault they were so gullible.

An hour ago my cat was hunting for the mouse at the last place she saw it. Possibly, though, I've given a misleading portrait of her hunting abilities. She often stalks her own water bowl and I have never seen it outwit her. Yet.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

While writing about the inability of the CIA to find bin Laden or indeed its own ass, I got lost in my own subordinate clauses and forgot to include a joke along the lines that while the CIA can't find him, his cave is rapidly filling up with AOL disks and credit card offers.

Mumia got off death row today, although I wouldn't be as optimistic as some reports in suggesting that Penn. won't re-run the penalty phase: they really want this guy dead.

The mouse was finally caught last night, by me and not by the Stupidest Cat in the World, after 54 days. A bit the worse for wear, but alive.

A U of NH econ professor estimates 3,767 civilian Afghan dead from bombing, just as the World Trade Center estimates drop to 3,000. Fortunately, they're just foreigners.

We've already seen Bush's ultimatum to Afghanistan reissued by Israel with to Arafat with the names changed, and India to Pakistan. We've seen governments claim their enemies were linked to bin Laden from China to the Philippines to Somalia (where it might be true). Now, a coup attempt in the Comoros is justified by the president's alleged links to bin Laden, which may be the silliest yet. Unconfirmed reports say that Bob Denard was present, making this I believe his 5th coup in the Comoros.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Rumsfeld admits having no idea where bin Laden is, but none of the reporters ask him if that isn't a sign of incredible incompetence. I can understand, sort of, George W growing a layer of teflon in time of pseudo-war (although a layer of UV might be more useful), but what have the FBI & CIA & DIA & NSA done to deserve the exemption from critical thought?

Speaking of exemption from critical thought, Zimbabwe has some draft laws to outlaw criticism of the government. Or the police.

A famous chain of vegetarian restaurants in Britain, made popular in the 60s by the Beatles and Twiggy and, I don't know, Austin Powers, has closed down. I mention this for two reasons: 1) its name was Cranks; 2) someone said they needed to get back to their roots.

So, will they or won't they? India and Pakistan, always so close to the brink of war, and they take another step. One of two odd things happened here: either the Pakistani intelligence services thought they could get away with this because the US would tell India to back down, or Kashmiri separatists/terrorists under the wings of Pankistani intelligence thought they could launch this operation without permission. Some government spokesman accused the Indians of attacking their own parliament in order to frame Pakistan.

I just let the cat out, so presumably the mouse is now playing. I'll have to admit she's getting better. She's now caught the mouse in each of the last 3 days. What is the life span of a mouse, anyway?

Monday, December 17, 2001

He who loves you will follow you

The cat caught the mouse yesterday. Lost it again. They really do squeak.

If you're bored, check out a website from a fan of Soviet-era calculators. The author lives in Tasmania, so probably needs a hobby.

My fortune cookie today told me "He who loves you will follow you." That is really deeply disturbing.

The Bushies won’t shut down meat-processing plants that repeatedly fail salmonella tests. They say it’s the consumer’s responsibility to cook properly.

Saturday, December 15, 2001

Hiding in caves

The mouse is no longer even treating my cat with respect, barely increasing its speed today as it walked past her close enough to touch on its way to sanctuary under the stove. There's no longer any food in the drawers next to the stove, as I'm trying to lengthen its supply lines and so increase the chances of it being caught. I may have to burn Moscow, though (little military history humor there, which always goes over big). Actually, I only thought there was nothing left to eat. I noticed the mouse has eaten through a couple of pill bottles in the bottom drawer, left over from my old cat who, although dead more than five years, now seems more likely to kill the mouse than my current cat.

The hypocrisy is beginning to increase. Today Bush accused bin Laden of being a coward for hiding in caves while sending others to their death. OK, Mister Too Dangerous to Come Back to Washington, Mister Texas Air National Guard, Mister....

And a day or two ago he said that Johnny Taliban was obviously misled because who would fight for a country that treated its women badly. Do you think he mentioned that to his father during the Gulf War? or was he still too busy snorting coke off a hooker's ass in a Houston bar to notice?

Speaking of Johnny, William Saletan of Slate says that treatment of him will be the litmus test of whether the war is against terrorism rather than Islam as the Bushies keep saying, that is whether we treat him like a terrorist or as a misguided youth as Bush has been.

Michael Kinsley, also in Slate, says that this war is about restoring our right to ignore Afghanistan again. He actually meant it seriously, but I've pointed out before that the fastest way for the US to lose interest in a country is to defeat it in a war.

The latest analysis I've read of Sharon's policy is that he intends to so weaken Arafat that someone will overthrow him, and then somehow there will arise a new leader more willing to do Tel Aviv's bidding. Yes, of course, the Palestinian people are crying out for a government more subservient to the folks who are bombing them.

Speaking of interesting logic, how much of the infamous video tape have any of you bothered to see? I've been happy to stick with edited highlights so far because I find the whole thing rather dubious. I'd hate to think the CIA would be so stupid as to fake this tape, but really doesn't it beggar the imagination that bin Laden would avoid claiming any responsibility for two months and then do it in this way? Forget checking the translation, I want to see what an Arab-speaking lip-reader has to say about the tape. Bush spoke today like only Oliver Stone or everyone in the Arab world could think the tape was less than authentic, but then he thinks that Jar Jar Binks is real.

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Israel, displaying the sort of arrogance normally associated with more, well, North American countries, declares Arafat irrelevant, like this is a valuation they get to make, like Bush declaring who is or who is not a true Muslim. Israel is breaking off all contact with the Palestinian government. This probably comes as a relief, since such contact usually consisted of Ariel Sharon screaming Terrorist! Terrorist! Terrorist! until foam came out of his mouth.

Headline that should have been connected to a much more interesting story, but wasn't: "9 Foot Swan Held After Attack on Woman in Dog Suit."

Football mascots.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001


I thought you all needed to know this right away: crows are left-handed. (See latest issue of Nature)

Bush at White House yesterday: "I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Chanakah."

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Denying Al Qaida their caves

Pentagon phrase of the week, heard on McNeil-Lehrer yesterday: "denying Al Qaida their caves."

Most countries would have stopped blowing things up from helicopters at least until after the funeral of the 2-year old they accidentally killed, but not Israel. And this on Chanakah, which as I understand it is a holiday which celebrates the miracle of endlessly flowing American aid. Unless I've missed something, the White House has been strangely silent on this way. Remember what I said last week: if you harbor child-killers, you're a child-killer; if you gave a green light to the child-killers, you're a child-killer....

Prince Charles used the word turd today. He was referring to modern architecture. Guardian headline: Prince Dumps on High-Rise Architects.

The Chinese are claiming that there are hundreds of Uighur separatists fighting for the Taliban, and it wants them handed over when captured. I know several have been captured, but hundreds? They're up to something.

The Northern Alliance transported many Taliban POWs in airtight shipping containers. Guess what happened.

The US finally indicts someone for terrorism, a guy in jail, so not one of the 9/11 hijackers, but with a parallel pattern of activities.

Italy drops its opposition to Europe-wide arrest warrants--it had wanted several crimes excluded, mainly those committed--allegedly--by Prime Minister Berlusconi.

Monday, December 10, 2001

George Bush says that bin Laden has no soul. No George, there's your lack of cultural understanding again: you sold your soul to the devil to become president. Bin Laden rubbed on a magic lamp.

So the Bushies have a videotape they claim is the smoking gun which, if we believe what they say about it (and I understand the picture and sound quality are terrible), is just bin Laden bragging about the World Trade Center after the fact. And that's not only the strongest evidence they've shown us in 3 months tomorrow, but the only evidence period. I saw a newspaper tabloid today that says bin Laden killed Princess Di, and I'll bet it's got evidence at least that good.

Ashcroft says he didn’t say people criticizing detention etc were traitors (yes, he did) and anyone who says he did is a traitor.

Friday, December 07, 2001

Britain's home secretary David Blunkett is also accusing anyone (meaning members of the House of Lords) who opposes his anti-terrorism bill of encouraging terrorist acts. Blunkett, I have just heard, also dislikes nudity. In 1983 when he was on the Sheffield city council, he walked out of a play that had nudity. In 1969 he complained about nudity on the BBC and was invited on to a program of viewers' complaints. Except he was not a viewer, being blind. It takes a special sort of prudery to complain about nudity you can't see. Well, to be fair, I've sometimes complained about nudity I can't see, but that's different.

Some physicist has a $100 bet with Stephen Hawking over the existence of the Higgs boson (Hawking says it doesn't). Remember what I said about stupidity? Someone bet against Stephen Hawking.

Pamela Anderson is suing for sole custody of her children, saying that Tommy Lee is becoming increasingly unstable. This from a woman who probably can't walk a straight line without falling forwards.

Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Strom Thurmond’s babysitter dies, at 109.

It’s almost impossible in China to transplant organs from anyone except prisoners.

John Ashcroft, who accuses civil libertarians of scare-mongering (“To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists”), refused to let the FBI check to see if any of the 9/11 suspects had bought guns. So there is one constitutional right he’s not willing to trample. Take that, scare-mongerers! The thing is, illegal aliens or people in the country under 90 days don’t have a right to buy guns, so the FBI always, previously, thought that it could look at those people’s Brady Law records. DOJ now says that would violate their privacy rights, another right foreigners don’t actually have unless they have permanent resident status.

There is a film of the two most famous Johnnies in Afghanistan, which I hope someday to see. Johnny Walker, aka Johnny Taliban, the American who went to fight with the Taliban, was interviewed by Johnny Spann, the CIA case officer who was killed in the prison uprising. Spann is seen grabbing Walker by the hair and threatening him with death, in clear violations of the Geneva Convention, and that's what he did with the one grabbing Walker by the hair and threatening him with death, in clear violations of the Geneva Convention, and that's what he did with the one prisoner he knew who could speak English on CNN, so guess how the rest of the interrogations must have gone.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

The end is nigh

The Higgs boson particle is now believed not to exist (see the current New Scientist). Therefore, as I understand it, the universe cannot exist. So it's been good knowing y'all.

That's particle physics humor, and I don't do it often, and evidently I won't ever be able to do it again.

Yes, getting agreement on an Afghan government wasn't nearly as difficult as it should have been, so let's accidentally bomb the new prime minister on his first day.

There are in fact women in the new Afghan government, assuming you're really impressed by 2 out of 30 on the council.

Speaking of democracy in action, Michael Bloomberg paid $92.60 for every vote he got in the NY mayor's race, spending more than Malcolm Forbes Jr spent running for president. I say let's skip the election next time and take everyone out to see The Producers.

Speaking of which, the cats that look like Hitler site.

For a great gift idea,, which is exactly what it sounds like, and gee, someone on this list has a wedding coming up....

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

I can't remember if I've mentioned the last 2 Jews in Kabul. Naturally, they hate each other.

So according to Bush, if you harbor a terrorist you're a terrorist, and if you arm a terrorist you're a terrorist.

So far be it for me to mention that the Israeli attacks have been using US weaponry that is not supposed to be used for such purposes.

William Saletan in Slate comments that Sharon has finally adopted the language of universality instead of trying to assert his usual position of the Israeli Jews as the sole virtuous victims etcetera etcetera.

What exactly is Sharon up to? Mindless violence for the sake of mindless violence? I'd buy that. Thinks that he can somehow select the next leader of the Palestinians and give him his marching orders? Yes, he's insane enough to believe that. I'm waiting for Arafat to say, Well we were just about to put into effect our plan to crack down on Hamas, but it involved using our helicopters and police stations. Sharon does not seem to be trying to assassinate Arafat, just vandalize his stuff. Houses, helicopters--expect his cars to be targeted next, because this is just that silly. It's like in a Western shooting at someone's feet--Dance, dance! If Sharon expects to be able to target the Palestinian police and then have them do his bidding, he's stupid as well as crazy, and I wouldn't rule that out either. After the bus attack Israel had the moral high ground, occupied it for a minute and a half and got a nosebleed.

Catching up with old New Statesman's. Blair isn't getting a lot of respect for sucking up to Dubya. Britain was so eager to portray itself as at the center of the world still that it was practicing for terrorist attacks that were never going to come and pretending that up to 1,000 Brits were killed in the World Trade Center (this week's figures--under 100). Writes Mark Thomas: "Tony Blair has spoken so often of his `special relationship' with George Bush that I feel social workers should take him into a warm and safe environment with some anatomically correct dolls and as many psychologists as are needed." Mark Steel writes about the drivel of war, such as the harping on the Taliban's treatment of women, as opposed to Saudi Arabia, where you can hardly move in Riyadh markets for stalls selling t-shirts reading "A woman needs a man like a camel needs a bicycle" and they always announce the public stoning of *women*, not girls, not chicks, but always women.

No one is even trying very hard to fake it any more. Well, if Bush said he wanted to bring democracy to Afghanistan we'd all hurt ourselves laughing. Still, you'd like at least the token effort at bullshit. It's like this letter I just got. It's a credit card solicitation. At the top of the envelope it says "This invitation is reserved for a select group of students". Ok, you know that's crap, but they don't even have my name in
the address, it just says University of California Student--which is right below a bar code! It just makes me feel

Oh for god sake, cat, even I can hear the mouse fucking around in the kitchen. Get off my lap and earn your keep.

Sunday, December 02, 2001

According to the Times, the secret first draft of Ashcroft's anti-terrorism bill included suspension of habeas corpus. Which means members of Congress knew that weeks ago and failed to share it with the public.

A referendum in Switzerland to abolish the army fails. Times headline: Swiss Army Escapes Knife.

Saturday, December 01, 2001

With those killjoy Taliban gone, or at least pretending not to be Taliban, cockfighting returns to Kabul. Also boxing. And honor killings. Freedom, ain't it great?

Not much in the British press today. Evidently some sort of insect died.

I first mentioned the use of earprints as evidence several years ago. At least 4 people were convicted using them in Britain, one sentenced to life, though I'm not sure they were ever used in the US. Anyway, it seems that not only is there no real proof that earprints are unique, but earprints also alter depending on the temperature and how hard you have it pressed against something. Oops.

Friday, November 30, 2001

The Olympics people have asked the world to please stop all violence during the Olympics, just like they did in the ancient world. That'll work. They also reminded Muslims that Mormons enjoyed polygamy too.

The Supreme Court rules 5-4 that private corporations operating prisons can’t be sued for constitutional violations.

Did you know that the president's hairdresser is an Afghan? The daughter of a former prime minister, too.

Headline in Daily Telegraph: Ecstasy Worse for Women. I foresee a new feminist cause (this works if you're talking about the drug or just regular ecstasy).

The Department of Justice is now offering free citizenship to people who pass on information about terrorists. Guys, the Legion of Honor, a knighthood, whatever, but citizenship is not some sort of door prize.

Justice is also going to (or already is) secret let the INS set aside release orders issued by federal immigration judges.

The Supreme Court hears a case about Kansas’s policy of taking away prison privileges of sex offenders who don’t “take responsibility” in a therapy program, for crimes they weren’t caught for--while attached to polygraphs, and without immunity.

The Washington Post points out rather depressingly how many of the Bush administration officials who were forced to divest themselves of investments saved a fortune when they dumped their Enron stock (currently worth $.36) for $50 a share.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

It's always nice as a historian to see evidence of the historical attention-span of the US, and again today the NY Times & Washington Post fail to carry a story found in the Times of London, that between 1954 and 1973 the US army used 7th Day Adventist conscientious objectors as guinea pigs in biological warfare experiments.

Bush threatens Iraq, which his Right wants to be the next target, if it doesn’t admit UN inspectors.

The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (that's its pope) has appeared in an ad for an oil company.

Excuse of the week: Ashcroft's claim that he's keeping the list (and numbers) of detainees secret to protect their privacy rights. It would be bad enough if he had said to protect their privacy, but he actually said their right to privacy. Of course, there's no place more private than a prison where you're being held secretly without charge (remember that next time you're planning to get away from it all).

Safire's column yesterday talked about those 8 Germans tried by Bush-like military tribunal during WW II. It seems one of them actually called the FBI after he was put ashore, but they ignored him, and he called again until they believed him. The secret trial was to prevent this becoming known. FDR planned to resist the Supreme Court if it tried to give them a real trial, but this was the Court that allowed Japanese internment, so not much hope of that. I presume that just because Bush "orders" that there be no appeal from the tribunals to a real court, that isn't anything the courts actually have to take any cognizance of (although Congress could do it), but perhaps someone with a law degree will correct me if I'm wrong?

Here's a story you'd really like to see videotape of: 3 farmers were trying to kill a pig in Hungary. The first one electrocutes himself, whereupon the second has a fatal heart attack (the first one died too), and the third injures himself with the stun gun. The pig survived, and is laughing its ass off.

At the annual Royal Variety Show, which as it sounds is a variety show, the cast of the musical version of the Full Monty performed a bit. Yes, they showed the queen their penises.

After reading that story in the Times, I was a little alarmed when I went to the Daily Telegraph and saw a headline Queen to Exhibit Hidden Royal Treasures.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

There's nothing like reading several newspapers to make sure you have no idea what's going on. The New York Times says that Yemen is joining the fight against terrorism; the Times of London says Yemen's going to be one of the next targets, along with Sudan and Somalia.

A South Korean prisoner of war escapes from North Korea after 50 years. Not exactly Steve McQueen, is he?

Pakistan sends planes to evacuate its pro-Taliban forces from Afghanistan. Obviously with US permission.

The British royal family is giving an insight into the weird habits of British education. Prince William avoided (or did he?) a tradition at St Andrew's that involves heavy drinking and a shaving cream fight. Prince Harry played a traditional Eton game called The Wall, whose rules several newspapers devoted what seemed like pages to trying to explain. The game ended this year without a goal being scored. There hasn't been a goal scored in something like 90 years.

A major scandal at the journal Human Immunology, which published an article proving that Jews and Palestinians from the Middle East are genetically pretty much the same, so that the Jews are not a distinct people. The author got fired off the staff and the journal has written to university libraries suggesting they just rip those pages out.

Indeed, I keep seeing these stories about censorship in academia and I'm just so thrilled I can't tell you. By the way, did I mention what a great job George W. Bush is doing? One group compiling a blacklist is called the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, on whose board sits Lynne Cheney.

The NY Times mentioned a couple of days ago that there is a site with a "Rapture Index," where they put a numerical value to the likelihood of the world ending on any given day. Evidently September 24 was a record.

At the you can find a page called Sunday Surfer which has links to various websites in which you can find out your pirate name, your Sopranos mob name, your Oz prison bitch name, what Mr T. would call you, and so on.

The tv show Big Brother has reached Russia, where they're too drunk to notice the irony. Also, it has a different name there. So here's the skinny: Margo started fooling around with Olga, including showering with her. Olga was voted off the show, so she went after Alexander (more showering). His girlfriend got upset so he had to leave the show to make up with her. Margo has had sex with Max a couple of times now, and if you wanted confirmed what you always thought about Russian sex: 63 seconds.

Thursday, November 22, 2001

I only realized after I sent out the last e-mail how amusing it is that the news that Bush cut refugee quotas was reported (indeed, hidden) in the Thanksgiving newspapers. Now that's irony!

Speaking of irony, Bush gave a speech yesterday saying that women should be involved in any new Afghan government, which he said should be "broadly-based."

This week, Rummy Rumsfeld has said that he wants bin Laden dead rather than alive, that the US troops in Afghanistan have orders to take no prisoners, and that the foreign Islamists in Afghanistan shouldn't be allowed to leave the country. Mark those speeches as exhibits one, two and three at a war crimes trial, if there were any justice in this world, which there is not. I've grown to really really dislike Rumsfeld, so much so that I just split an infinitive and I don't even care. I hate his voice; I hate his smug face; I hate his suits.

If it's good enough for the US, it's good enough for the rest of the world, at least when it comes to destroying human rights. India's Hindu nationalist government, the NY Times says, is implementing anti-terrorism legislation exactly modeled on ours, indefinite detention and all. So, according to the British press, is Zimbabwe's increasingly mad president Mugabe. More to come there.

Before I forget, a congratulations to the Portland police force for resisting FBI requests to hassle foreigners on little if any evidence.

I've been meaning to talk about the religious war this isn't supposed to be for some time. It's not a war against Islam, we hear over and over. Of course it is, it's just less clear who the other side is supposed to be, and that lack of clarity suggests why Islam is bit by bit winning the war. It isn't Christianity against Islam, although for some people it certainly is, including I'd venture to say Ashcroft and Bush. But the anti-Islamic side is too diverse for that, and I'm not talking about Israel (which responded to Powell's toned-down speech on the Middle East by firing shells into a school and simultaneously destroying Palestinian housing in a refugee camp yet while reinforcing the settlements), but China, which took advantage of the excuse for another major crackdown that noone's paying attention to, the Philippines, Russia and the Central Asian republics which are always happy to kick some Islamist ass, and on and on. These countries are defending the nation-state against an Islam which is either separatist or trans-national. The only nation-state really holding its own against militant Islam is Turkey, and it won't last forever, and it accomplishes it largely through coercion, by shutting down cultural forms and by forcing Islamic head-dress off of women by the same force the Taliban used to put it on. The problem is, in the ideological fight between militant Islam and the nation-state, only one seems actually to stand for anything. What did Algeria stand for as a nation when it abolished elections the Islamists were going to win? Or Turkey, stand for anything. What did Algeria stand for as a nation when it abolished elections the Islamists were going to win? Or Turkey, really? What are the values deployed by the Russian state to win over people attracted to a political Islam? And how about America? Bush told us all to stand up to the terrorists by shopping, but forgot to suggest that people stand up to the terrorists by voting in the states and localities that had elections this month. And this is America, which is supposed to be a model. You know how the US is a model, don't you? It's vain and self-centered and has big fake tits. It's the reason we don't have to practice what we preach and don't have to spend much of anything on foreign aid, compared to other industrial countries, and do all the horrible things we do in the world. Because we're a model, dammit, and it's our job to do whatever we want to do while the rest of the world looks on in admiration.

Speaking of big fake tits, enjoy your turkey, and pass me the white meat.
Hatred of refugees continues to increase. John Howard was re-elected as prime minister of Australia on a platform of beating up refugees. The new Danish government's slogan will be Keep Denmark Blonde and Bland. And, oh yes, Bush just cut the refugee quota for this country by another 10,000.

Fuzzy math: stories in the NY Times Wednesday & Washington Post Thursday about the persistence of the number of 5,000 dead for September 11, although the real number is nowhere near that high.

Fuzzier math: what is this "reward of up to $25 million" for bin Laden. Is that like, "You are already a winner, you've either won $25 million or fries"?

Speaking of bait and switch, Bush, who promised that half of that $40 billion would go to NY, decided that the city only deserved $9 billion, now $11 billion after complaints from NY Republican congresscritters.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

The great communicationizer

Headline in today's NY Times "Bush Offers Public Defense of Military Tribunals Order." Bush said: "To the critics, I say I made the absolute right decision."

OK, it's terrible grammar, but what an argument, huh?

Sunday, November 18, 2001

So does anyone believe that the US bombing of the Al-Jazeera transmitter was an accident? And why is there no one objecting to it?

I forgot to follow up on that congressman John Cooksey of Louisiana, who made the comment about people with diapers on their heads 2 months back. Coming from the state he's coming from, y'all may have thought he was a hick in a pickup truck, and he may well be. But he's also an eye surgeon.

One of the Guardian's columnists, I think one I've forwarded pieces by before on the US and Afghanistan, says she's getting a lot of hate mail from the US and is happy about the quantity of salt water between her and them. And then does it again. She says that the US, subordinating everything else to its efforts re bin Laden and making deals with the unsavory Northern Alliance, is treating the entire country of Afghanistan as collateral damage.

There was a story in the Sunday Times of London about pro-anorexia websites, but I've been unable to find them. They defend anorexia as a lifestyle choice and give advice about how to hide it from your parents. Anyone know about this? One site originates in Stanford and there was some reference to "Goddess Anna." As a movement, they may or may not be called the Starving Annas. I don't know what that means, but a google search suggests an unusual array of celebrities whom some people care to designate as goddesses.

Slapstick will never die as long as there are cats. As pissed as I am at Turquoise for bringing in that mouse 24 days ago and losing it, I'm certainly enjoying watching her try to catch it again. She finally succeeded Friday. And lost it again. Today she actually touched it with her paw. And lost it. The cartoons once again did not lie to us: mice are smarter than cats.

Saturday, November 17, 2001

John Mortimer, the author of Rumpole of the Bailey and whatnot, aged 78, has been discovering Tantric sex. His favorite position is The Plumber: you stay in all day but nobody comes.

89 Senators sign a letter telling Bush not to criticize Israel.

Laura Bush gives the weekly radio address today, on the subject of how badly the Taliban treated women. I'm guessing she just found out about it.

Never has the CIA/military lost control of its clients so rapidly as in Afghanistan, where the warlords are already telling us to get lost so they can get on with their looting and score-settling. Funny, they were so courteous to their guests when it was bin Laden et al, but all of a sudden the US and British military are being treated like a flatulent mother-in-law....

Friday, November 16, 2001

The US mysteriously gets its aid workers/missionaries back from Afghanistan, and every newspaper has a different version of how it happened. Mark my words now, because there will be an I told you so later: we paid ransom to someone. No question in my mind.

Radio Sharia has changed its name to Radio Afghanistan and has broadcast the voice of a woman for the first time in 5 years, the slut.

Music can also now be heard, although as the Daily Show pointed out, they are 5 years behind the times and still like the macarena.

Speaking of crap music, Dubya forced Putin to listen to a concert of country music. Shortly after that, for some reason, any chance of a deal on Son of Star Wars disappeared.

Evidently that story about the Arab who wanted to learn to fly a plane but not to take off or land was a complete falsification. Too good a story to check the facts.

If the US does go ahead with that military court thing, the only method of execution open to it is firing squad.

The Dems have changed the rules on primaries, allowing more early
primaries so that candidates with more money will sew up the nomination more quickly. And somehow, California will be screwed again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

So Gore won Florida after all. Bush is so protected from the press, and the press so lapdoggy, that I wouldn't be surprised if we never hear his reaction. (Several good pieces of analysis in Slate)

Speaking of democracy, Israel decided to strip an MP of immunity and prosecute him for speech-crimes. I wish they'd stop pretending to be a democracy. By the way, the deputy is not only an Arab, as the American media seem to be willing to report, but a Christian, which for whatever reason they are not.

Still speaking of democracy, Nicaragua obeyed American instructions and did not return Daniel Ortega to the presidency. You did know that the US had been threatening reprisals if the Nicaraguans made the wrong choice, didn't you? If you didn't, thanks again to the American media, which will also shortly forget that there was ever a country named Afghanistan.

Congratulations, on the other hand, to John Simpson, who marched into Kabul and claimed it for the BBC. Simpson earlier snuck into Afghanistan in a burka. He was also the one in Baghdad 10 years ago who was reporting while outside his window a cruise missile took a left turn at a stoplight, and generally has this incredible deathwish that's made him so interesting to watch. Evidently he started out his career in 1970 by being hit in the stomach by Harold Wilson. The Guardian ran a bio in tomorrow's paper (grammatically incorrect, factually correct, sorry) as well as stories of war reporters past, the ones who went onshore in Normandy, the first reporter into Paris in 1944 (Ernest Hemingway, who liberated the Travellers Club, the Ritz and 50 martinis), and Marguerite Higgins of AP, who liberated Dachau in 1944, literally, she arrived before any troops and got 22 SS to surrender to her.

It seems that Kim Philby was originally recruited by the KGB to
assassinate Franco.

Well, I said that the last thing Bush wanted was what he insisted two months ago was the only thing he wanted, the trial of bin Laden. I was wrong, but only because I was thinking of a trial as something that involved evidence, a jury and rule by law. Silly me. He actually plans military tribunals behind closed doors and preferably in some foreign country, with evidence kept secret (if there is any). Evidently military tribunals have been used before, for example to execute 8 German saboteurs put ashore in 1942, and to execute the alleged accomplices of John Wilkes Booth. The latter is generally considered to have been a travesty of justice, so it's probably about right. By the way, the criterion for somebody having to go before a military rather than a real court is a "finding" by the president that they are a member of a terrorist organization. In other words, they have already been found guilty without a trial, by a process that violates the separation of powers.

Time will tell what really happened in Afghanistan this week. Rout, or strategic retreat? The Northern "Alliance" now occupies too much territory, too many cities, and has nothing to spare to go on the offensive. It has also shattered the international "alliance" which opposes the Taliban but doesn't think much of them. Still, did anyone really think there was going to be a broad coalition in power? About as likely as the plans being floated by the US and Britain for occupation of Kabul by the UN or by Muslim nations only. And the Taliban still have those US missionaries. The one thing Bush has done right is not to talk about them at all. Maybe he learned one thing from his father about not paying off kidnappers.

Sunday, November 11, 2001

Burundi is currently detaining a suspected spy--a stork with monitoring device.

As bad as John Aschroft is, when he introduced internment without trial, he at least didn't use the occasion to denounce "air fairy civil liberties" like British Home Secretary David Blunkett.
If you're looking for humor, that'll be the next e-mail.

I must report two deaths, that of Joe "Spud" M, well you'll have to look up the name if you give a shit, or I'll have to learn how to read my own handwriting. He's the inventor of the cheese and onion potato chip. And Ken Kesey, who probably felt the need for munchies on more than one occasion, if you catch my drift.

OK, I warned you: in South Africa, a 9-month old is gang raped because, as we all know, that's a cure for AIDS.

The war continues, and bombing continues, three weeks after the Pentagon said it had bombed everything worth bombing. So are they bombing worthless shit, or did all the first bombs miss? You be the judge, because they aren't talking. The Morons' War is getting more and more moronic, more and more unrelated to its ostensible aims. And the US, which started out self-obsessed, has just gotten more so. Even normally intelligent people, like William Saletan of Slate, are writing that the Taliban is to blame for the US bombing civilians, because they position tanks and anti-aircraft weapons amongst civilians. Under what scenario would anyone make it easy for their weaponry to be targeted? In what sense did the fact that the US decided to bomb a country obligate that country to make it easy? Bush today told the UN that it was everyone else's "duty" to help us in our war, which looks increasingly like our war despite efforts to pretend it was everyone's war. And he also said that other countries can't pick and choose between terrorists. Oh really? Here are ours:
November 11 2001 TERRORISM

THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE'S CRUEL HISTORY: Mujaheddin write their name in blood

Jon Swain, Peshawar
In a macabre ritual known as "dead men dancing", victims' heads were chopped off. Petrol was then pumped into their necks and set alight as the blood spurted out and the bodies jerked about in their death throes.

In Afghanistan, rape, mutilation and torture have been rife over the past decade. The skinning alive of victims has been a particular favourite of warring groups, along with the roasting of prisoners in containers left in the desert sun.

The Afghan warlord whose perverted mind dreamt up the "dead man
dancing" routine was Abdul Ali Mazari, a leader of the Hazaras, Afghanistan's Persian-speaking ethnic minority. Mazari headed a group called Hizb-i-Wahdat, which is now a key part of the Northern Alliance, the loose confederation of militias that is the spearhead in Afghanistan of America's and Britain's war on terrorism.


Friday, November 09, 2001

Russia has reintroduced the concept of the closed city. Cancel your winter vacation plans to visit Norilsk.

Health officials say that they may never completely sterilize the Hart Senate Office Building. Nor will they ever get out that old man Strom Thurmond smell.

Bush ended yesterday's speech "My fellow Americans: Let's roll." Oh good, now he thinks he's in a '70s cop show.

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Gored by a gnu

I was in the public library today reading microfilm when a gaggle of let's say 10-year olds wandered into the room. One of them asked me what I was doing and I said that I was reading a newspaper from 1872. "That's crazy!" one of them exclaimed.

It hasn't made the American press, but Ariel Sharon says that he wants another 1 million Jewish immigrants to Israel. It's not clear where he thinks he'll find that many. Argentina? The US?

In a Spanish animal park, a keeper is gored to death by a gnu. I don't have anything to say about that, but isn't it a great phrase? Gored by a gnu. Say it out loud. Gored by a gnu. Makes you feel good just to say it.

The Justice Department has decided to listen in on conversations between federal inmates and their lawyers. Terrorism, you know. It is against the lawyers' code of professional responsibility to speak with a client without confidentiality, so these people have been effectively stripped of their right to counsel. Or at least ethical counsel.

Gored by a gnu.

A newspaper ad is now running asking "What do Saddam Hussein and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle Have in Common? Neither Man wants America to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

That's like so September 10.

I'm informed that that last phrase is now in among the teenagers.

Palm Beach County is auctioning off its voting machines. I assume the lower bid wins. Ba dum BUM.

That undisclosed location Cheney went off to: he's been shooting

Gored by a gnu.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Combover theater

You can tell how much Bush is worried about support dropping off for the Moron's Crusade: he's starting to claim that bin Laden is trying to go nuclear. This is precisely the same claim his father introduced several weeks into the War to Make the World Safe for Feudalism, when public support for going to the rescue of the oil shieks of Kuwait had failed to develop.

Saw Satan, I mean Henry Kissinger, being interviewed on ITN yesterday on how we should bomb the crap out of Afghanistan. You understand this is the man who until recently was employed by Unocal to try to get the US to recognize the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan.

Remember those pictures of baby seals being clubbed to death back in the '70s? If you're like most people, your reaction was "Where can I sign up for that?" The answer may be coming: the Norwegian minister of fisheries has suggested turning the seal hunt into a tourist industry.

I just saw a book ad for "Bound to Please: A History of the Victorian Corset."

Sunday, November 04, 2001

The Sunday Washington Post has a couple of worthwhile articles, one analyzing the detainees, and how the government is using detention as a tool, the other on the eroding line between law enforcement and intelligence-gathering, the very thing I was complaining a week or more ago about no one talking about. Better late than never. Also worth leading, the Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker, "King's Ransom," available online, about Saudi Arabia's instability and US policy through the years. One thing it says which I kind of assumed, but it's nice to have confirmed, is that the Saudis asked us to restrain the CIA from operating there and that it complied, with results that should be obvious. Tom Friedman wrote a week or so back that in the 1980s they asked the US to recall an ambassador who was actually speaking to Saudi people. We took the hint and never since have we sent an ambassador who speaks Arabic. Ya know, all Afghanistan ever did to us was give sanctuary to someone we don't like. Saudi has a much higher population of those, and provides most of the money.

It's not just t-shirts that are a problem in the schools. I'm so glad I'm not a parent, I'd be in a constant state of outrage. Evidently it's now quite common to use drug-sniffing dogs on the students, just have the dog go up and down the rows.

Evidently bin Laden's "Afghan Arabs" all expect to die. One preparation they've been making is buying husbands for their sisters and daughters, by which I mean going into an Afghan village one night, asking who wants a wife, and giving him some money for promising to protect her. Like a fairytale romance, isn't it? Some of them are quite young, of course. Good luck with the rest of your lives, girls.

Saturday, November 03, 2001

People in New York have been buying canaries lately. To warn of poison gas attacks.

The NY Times says that of the 1,100+ detained by the Justice Department, most were actually arrested and released. Leading to the conclusion that Justice, which has miserably failed in all its terrorism investigations, is so anxious to look like it's doing something that it's willing to imply that it's been setting up gulags packed full of aliens. For the same reason, Ashcroft gratuitously insisted that 3 of the detainees had advance notice of the attacks, which Justice then had to deny.

Bin Laden sent out another videotape today, and you wouldn't know it from CNN, Bush's little lap dog. I saw it on the BBC world news. Evidently this is a holy war between Muslims and Christians. That lets me out then; don't have a dog in that fight.

R's have been lambasting poor hapless Gov. Davis for not sitting on the FBI's warning. It seems like even the FBI is in on it, pretending that its initial warning was more tenuous than it actually was. This is partisanship at its lowest. Presumably if he wasn't supposed to warn people he also wasn't supposed to take any precautions at all to protect the bridges, because such protections would be noticed and commented on and that might make people afraid. Especially deserving of a slap, Bill Jones, who is planning to run against Davis, who hypocritically started out that he certainly wasn't criticizing, BUT that the governor of Washington hadn't felt any need to issue a warning. Yes, a warning about a terrorist threat to bridges, and California only has the Golden Gate Bridge, while Washington has that really famous bridge, you know the one, what's its name again?

Thursday, November 01, 2001

Cocked and ready, if you know what I mean

Rumsfeld says that more special forces are "cocked and ready" for action in Afghanistan.

Speaking of cocked and ready, one of the changes in military policy under the Bush administration is the reversal of moves to integrate women into military life. Most of his appointees are of the no-girls-club tendency.

Speaking of cocked, but not so ready, there was a disagreement in the House of Commons today over whether it was the Taliban or the Northern Alliance who cut off the last president's penis and stuck it in his mouth.

Speaking of cocked and ready, Viagra-junkie Bob Dole, discussing vengeance for 9/11 (he was for it), quoted Melville: "Beware the people weeping when they bear the iron hand." I'd beware them a little less if they are able to do more with their iron hand than hold a pencil in it. What an odd metaphor for Dole to be using. Speaking of the handicapped, new British home secretary David Blunkett went on a ride-along with a cop, which is somewhat pointless since he's blind (Blunkett, not the cop).

No one noticed it, but at the Hague Tribunal yesterday, Milosevic claimed that he was fighting Bin Laden in Kosovo.

Bush signed an executive order designed to keep his records secret forever, and those of previous presidents. The Washington Post thinks he's protecting members of his administration who served in the Reagan administration from embarrassment, while evidently forgetting that Bush's father was vice president and involved in Iran-Contra and whatnot.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

A French female astronaut has returned from space. She brought a teddy bear with her. Awwww.

I got my notice from the postmaster general today telling me what to do with suspicious mail. I also got a leaflet for the journal Anglo-Saxon England. What would Beowulf have done?

The health & fitness section of the Times today leads with a story "A Career Spent in Study of Training And Exercise, Lap by Grueling Lap." I lost interest when it turned out to be about swimming, not lap dancing.

With "President" Bush at the World Series, the Times says, there were almost as many cops on duty as the time John Rocker returned to play.

Also in today's paper was a piece by Paul Krugman (op-ed) on the alternative minimum corporate income tax the R's are so anxious to repeal retroactively to 1986. It seems that a great percentage of the benefit would go to energy and mining companies. Dick Cheney strikes again, from an undisclosed location.

Speaking of which: Cheney hiding in a bomb shelter, Bush at a ball game. I'm guessing that one of these two is over-reacting and the other under-reacting, and that the appropriate behaviour is somewhere in the middle.

All employees at the Supreme Court were negative for anthrax, but a pubic hair was found in Clarence Thomas's Coke.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Government warns us to be worried that something might happen sometime to someone, they're pretty sure. So we should all be on the lookout for...something. I personally think Ashcroft meant that we're about to be invaded by midget Taliban wearing masks; if I see any I'm planning to hit them with a shovel.

Someone looked at the US government documents relating to the coup that deposed the Afghan king we're trying to put back. It seems we didn't think much of him and, oh yeah, had advanced information of the coup (a year in advance).

One of the places the US military is now fighting Al Qaeda is in the Philippines.

And this week we've started training Nicaraguan military officers at the School of the Americas, or whatever it's calling itself this week (you remember how they solved the problem of the place's reputation for training torturers and death-squad leaders by changing its name? if not, there's an article on it in the, which compares it with bin Laden's training camps).

Monday, October 29, 2001

Global warming has claimed its first nation, Tuvalu, known only for its valuable internet domain name (.tv). It has given up and will move to New Zealand.

Some guy who saw that annoying French film The Red Balloon (which my two elementary schools both subjected me to many times) set himself aloft with 600 balloons, cutting himself free and parachuting to earth from 11,000 feet.

So the food packets dropped on Afghanistan are yellow and the unexploded cluster bombs are also yellow. That was clever.

The honeymoon is finally beginning to show signs of strain, and as a post-Clinton "president" should have known, it's the spin, stupid. You'll remember I commented a few days after 9/11 that all the talk about reassuring Americans that it was safe to fly was more about spin than about actually making it safe, and was phrased as such: making Americans feel safe. No one noticed that, but when they tried to do it at the start of the anthrax thing, with absolutely no information, just being reflexively reassuring, it began not to look so good. Now they're evidently lying about Bush's health. He's not getting thinner, he just redistributed it.

I have another quote, or paraphrase actually, that applies well to American foreign policy, although it was originally applied by Sir Oswald Mosley to Mussolini's foreign policy: it triumphs like a drunken driver, not by reason of his own skill but because all sober people had been concerned to get out of his way.

Saturday, October 27, 2001

Continuing its failing propaganda war, the US has been dropping wind-up radios on Afghanistan. They are capable of receiving only one frequency. You're probably thinking right now about the irony of sending radios that can only receive American propaganda as a way of pluralism. Or maybe you're thinking about the FCC's decision this week to let Rupert Murdoch own as much of a single market as he wants. But think again about it, and you'll realize that anyone caught with this radio does not have the excuse that he was using it to listen to the Pakistani top ten, so anyone caught with this radio is likely to be killed.

Speaking of unremarked details, I haven't belabored the "anti-terrorism" legislation, with its elimination of any procedural safeguards, privacy, civil rights etc., so I'll just talk about one aspect, which some idiot reporter didn't notice when talking about it on Washington Week in Review yesterday. She said that the CIA has just mounds of data awaiting this bill to pass so that it could share it with law-enforcement officials under the provision allowing for the sharing of info between agencies. OK, first obviously there was nothing stopping the CIA from doing that before, except the fact that the CIA doesn't share information. But what this provision really did was make it possible for evidence collected in, say, grand jury proceedings, to be handed over to intelligence agencies. The criminal justice system was just coopted by the intelligence establishment, and that does not bode well at all.

Friday, October 26, 2001

The Pentagon is plum out of ideas. All it can think of to do is hit the same Red Cross depot for the second time. So it is soliciting the general public to send in suggestions on how to defeat bin Laden. I'm working on mine now, although I hope they don't mind the coffee ring and the powdered sugar from my donut. Ha ha ha, I'm just kidding, I don't even drink coffee. Yes this is definitely the time for them to be encouraging strange mail. This was of course how the Nazis were defeated. Churchill went on the radio and said We shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight them in the laundrettes, and if anyone out there has any other suggestions as to where we should fight them, answers please on a postcard, winners to receive some book certificates and a seat at the Yalta conference.

My idea so far involves a giant magnet and a giant rubber band, but I'm still leafing through the Acme catalog.

Hurrah for Russ Feingold, the only Senator with any integrity.

Singapore is to show other democracies how it is done. Can you even call it a general election if 2/3 of the seats are uncontested?

See the Tom Toles cartoon for the 26th, easily available on the web.

September 2004: hello to those looking for Tom Toles's Bush refrigerator magnet cartoon. You can find it by clicking here. And then you might want to come back to my site. If you like Toles, you may well like it too.

January 2006: and if you're looking for the Toles cartoon the Pentagon objected to, click here.

Thursday, October 25, 2001

eccentrics / eccentric web sites

There's a mouse in my apartment. It's a good thing I own a cat--no, wait, she's the one who brought it in.

A British prisoner is suing for his right to gay porn. Heterosexuals get their soft core porn, so he wants his. Says it's an abuse of his rights.

For those playing the home game, this is the part where I would normally make a joke. Can you guess what it might be? A little hint: it involves use of the word "abuse."

A steer was stripped of his prize at the Minnesota state fair, for use of drugs. I don't suppose there's a picture of it and the governor together.

The NY Times's Thursday computer section performed its usual function of making me scared of the future, with a story about kitchen appliances being made now with Web access. Your microwave will be able to download recipes and perform them. Watch tv and have videoconferencing on your refrigerator door.

Unnamed administration official in the NY Times: "you can bomb the wrong place in Afghanistan and not take much heat for it. But don't mess up at the post office."

Belgium becomes the second country to legalize euthanasia.

The US claims to have inside information that the Taliban will poison the aid dropped by the US. So if it has come through Taliban control, they say, don't eat it. This is probably the least subtle psyop I've ever heard of, at least since they dropped those bats on the Philippines (don't ask). Oh yeah, we know exactly what the Taliban are thinking about. A 3-year old could see through this, although not the NY Times, which now believes everything its government sources tell it.

Right, I promised web sites:

To get your name if you were a cyborg (that is what your name is an acronym for):, your site for wacko fundamentalist sites (for example the one that explains how various Hollywood types are working for Satan. Ok, Demi Moore, obviously, but...)

Along the same theme,, a guy who looks like Jesus and wants a date. Click on "Bathe with Jesus," if you dare (I didn't).

And Like one of those cut-out books, you can put a hat on Jesus, or a cowboy outfit. Did I mention he's on a cross? Hours of fun.

The pipes, the pipes

The Catholic diocese of Providence says that "Danny Boy" is not
appropriate for funerals. Someone tell the Irish already: Danny Boy is not appropriate for anything, ever. It is not good for children and other living things. I do not want to hear it on a plane, I do not want to hear it on a train.

Congress is working on a $100 billion stimulus package. I mean for God's sake Bill Gates lost $9 billion, something must be done. Fortunately, help is on the way. $2.3 billion goes to all the unemployed. $1.4 billion goes to IBM. Seems fair to me.

Anthrax is found in the White House mail room but Bush says, three times no less, that he doesn't have it, but refuses to say how he knows this: has he taken the test, is he taking antibiotics? Did Uncle Dick tell him he was safe when he tucked him in at night (you laugh, but this is traditional: Al Gore tucked in Bill Clinton, Spiro Agnew tucked in Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller made sure that the guard rails were up so Ford wouldn't fall out of bed.) Anyway, the government tells us that the chance of our getting anthrax is slim. Well, so is Calista Flockhart, and she creeps me out too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

America is returning to normal. For example, Texas just executed someone for a crime committed when he was a juvenile. Let the healing begin!

The spin continues. Congress returns to town, trying to speak in a deeper, more manly voice. In Britain, Parliament debates what should have happened to the bureaucrat who sent out the memo I referred to a while back within an hour of the WTC being hit, that now was a good time to bury news. Curiously enough, while this debate was going on, the government was announcing that there would be peace in Northern Ireland, that it was sending the Marines into Afghanistan, and that cannibas would be decriminalized.

Rumsfeld, who just yesterday was pooh-poohing the possibility that the US could ever accidentally bomb a hospital, also said that it was ok to continue the war over Ramadan because sometimes Muslims do that. He then went on to refer to black people as niggers, because sometimes black people do that.

Saturday, October 20, 2001

Before we go to the Times piece on humor and current affairs, let me tell you something really hilarious, no wait I mean horrifying: the actual destination of the 4th plane, that crashed in Pennsylvania. Three Mile Island (or one of two other nuclear power plants in the area).

Even the funny stuff this week is sort of tragic, if only to the people involved. The zookeeper stepped on by an elephant, for example. Or the guy in Pennsylvania who died during the do-it-yourself sex-change operation.

A story in I think the Telegraph tells of the prison in Greenland, where everyone goes out to work during the day, and usually end their prison term with more money than when they went in, plus new clothes, VCRs (they can rent videos in town. In fact, they can do damned well anything, although they do have to have guards with them if they choose to go hunting.) The more serious criminals are sent to prison in Denmark, which is evidently what counts for stern in the "Norwegian countries" as Biden put it.

Friday, October 19, 2001

German prostitutes are to be fully legalized, able to take their johns to court for payment (well, it sounds like there might have to be a written contract, which seems a bit unlikely), and to retire on state pension at 60.

That's my second old-prostitute story in the last couple of months.

Thank god Israel kept its head down and indeed kept its head, and
certainly didn't invade Bethlehem and kill children and assassinate people and make rash comments about the age of Arafat being over. Because that wouldn't be very helpful right now.

Yesterday the Pentagon announced that it had destroyed the camps in Afghanistan, today that it had sent in Rangers. What is this, the war of the Boy Scouts? I picture a lot of people wearing short pants, running around tying knots and rubbing two infidels together to start a fire and ... I think I'll just let this concept die a natural death right here.

I finally figured out what all those comments about bin Laden, Taliban et al not representing "true" Islam reminded me of, and it was the endless, obnoxious, hopelessly smug "Who counts as a Jew" debate that Israel engages in.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Another sign that science must be stopped: phone lie detectors, soon to be used by British insurance companies to deal with claimants. They claim over 90% accuracy rate.

A Guardian columnist, suggesting that the American political elite isn't up to its new task of dealing with foreign stuff, quoted Joe Biden, now chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who suggested that the Norwegian countries could act as intermediaries with Afghanistan. Knowing Joe, he was just reading off the paper of whoever sat next to him (Jesse Helms?)

Colin Powell is busy negotiating the shape of the next Afghan government with Pakistan, Iran, Peru for all I know, anyone, basically, who isn't actually Afghan. He is willing to include "moderate Taliban members." I think we once exchanged arms for hostages with their Iranian cousins.

Funnier than moderate Talibans was the description on ITN of Rehavam Zeevi, the guy assassinated yesterday, as the hardline tourism minister. Or possibly it was the minister of hardline tourism. I think hardline tourism is where you demand that the locals serve you food you're familiar with, speak your language, and you speak very loudly and slowly to them if they don't. No wait, that's American tourism. Zeevi has been advocating a full-scale invasion of the West Bank and Gaza, so I'm guessing he wasn't that good as a tourism minister. Actually, Zeevi was a big ole shit (I was going to call him a pig, but it didn't seem kosher, although Muslims keep calling Bush a dog, probably because they've heard that he can lick his own genitals, but I digress) and when he joined the government I correctly called it an act of war. I haven't heard what the US reaction has been, although it'll be interesting to see if they label this assassination terrorism but not the one by the Israelis that this was in reaction to, and whether Dubya knows that Zeevi once called his father a lying anti-Semite.

The House by a vote of 404 to 0 suggests that public schools use the slogan God Bless America, presumably because America has just sneezed. The pledge of allegiance is also big just now, even in Madison, which reversed its previous decision and will now allow either the pledge or the Star-Spangled Banner, which under the old rule was to be instrumental only, you know, the easy listening version. This is to comply with a state law requiring a daily display of patriotism. I'm assuming that foreign students are also required to sing God Save the Queen or O Canada or Waltzing Matilda, as appropriate. I don't mind them singing the Star-Spangled Banner, as long as they sing all of it, including the "their blood shall wash out their foul footsteps' pollution" line some of us spent too much time at Santa Cruz trying to figure out how to sing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

The 9th Circuit says that a new trial is needed in the case of someone sentenced to death by a judge with a history of major marijuana abuse. They could tell because he kept giggling, I'm guessing.

Imelda Marcos says the new fraud charges against her are a witch hunt. Yup.

Speaking of the free market, the Pentagon has been buying up all the civilian satellite images of Afghanistan. Not because they need them for operational purposes--the Pentagon has 7 satellites including 4 Keyhole satellites over Afghanistan, which are better than the civilian ones. Let me give you a hint: they started this policy last Thursday, when they first bombed a large number of civilians. You're wondering why they didn't just order the satellite company not to sell any photos to news organizations? Yes they have the legal right to do that, but would have been challenged in court under the 1st Amendment by someone (at least I hope they would have been--the news networks were already amazingly supine before they started getting fan mail). It was easier just to buy everything (no I don't know the cost).

The military have also admitted targetting the leaders of Afghanistan's military, which they say is legitimate "decapitation" of command & control. By which definition the plane crashing into the Pentagon no longer counts as a terrorist act.

Saturday, October 13, 2001

The US has evidently given a security guarantee to Uzbekistan. Terrific.

The terrorism bill is moving rapidly towards becoming a law. Who knows what it'll turn out to have in it; not the Congress, which is being asked not to bother reading it (this is supported by chairman of the House Rules Cmte, David Dreier, who I've never heard of). This laziness extends to the newspapers. The Post yesterday (or the Times?) said that it was believed that the government could in practice hold foreigners indefinitely without charges, despite the theoretical deletion of that provision. What's the loophole? The paper didn't say. Russ Feingold had 3 amendments. What were they? Who knows? (It's not on his website either). One had to do with the definition of a cyber-terrorist, which is now anyone who accesses a computer without authorization. I assume all the definitions of new crimes are equally vague, since the one about harboring a terrorist doesn't require any proof of knowledge of any actual

There's a piece below from the Sunday Times by John Le Carre. There is also a good long piece about how Arab countries got the way they are by Fareed Zakaria (, the terrorism section).

Has anyone noticed that Bin Laden still hasn't claimed credit. In fact, his son just denied it.

Saturday's Post has a story whose headline is that Afghanistan isn't just being bombed, but they're smart bombs hitting select targets. Guess that got out there before a smart bomb (and it was a smart bomb) missed it's target by, literally, a mile and took out a village in a poor neighborhood.

I saw a tiny bit of the footage of Dubya continuing to read to children on 9/11. It was on MSNBC and I tuned in just at the wrong time to see much. There were a bunch of reporters and they all knew what was going on and, horrifyingly, started asking Bush about it the second he closed the book, in front of all those children.

Medical tampering in God's domain story of the week: It is possible to transplant working wombs into infertile women. You'd transplant it in from a relative or a hysterectomy patient, have a child or two, and then get rid of it (so you wouldn't have to remain on anti-rejection medication).

It's official: Hollywood is all out of ideas. Despite fewer films than ever being green-lighted, one of them is a version of Hawaii Five-0.

Friday, October 12, 2001

The moron / the war

A nauseating editorial in today's NY Times, "Mr Bush's New Gravitas." It follows what Bush has been saying to his staff, which is that nothing the administration was doing before 9/11 counts anymore (except for drilling in Alaska--that's evidently now a national security issue. Oh, and Son of Star Wars). No no, you only get one do-over in life, and then only if you're white and rich, and he got his at age 40. If Clinton was the
Come-back Kid, Bush is the Etch-a-Sketch Kid.

Asked about Saddam Hussein at his press conference, Bush said that he was an evil man because "he gassed his own people." Right, what was it you used in Texas--electric chair, lethal injection? Mr. Humanitarian, all of a sudden.

Thursday, October 11, 2001


NY Times headline: "Stock Market Shrugs Off Airstrikes". Who called in airstrikes on the stock market? I mean it's a great idea, don't get me wrong....

That widow will not be deported as an illegal alien. They still plan to take more of her death benefits so she won't be able to afford her mortgage, but lawyers are donating their services on that one.

According to a driver trying to cash in, or perhaps this is inspired by those frat guys at the CIA, some of those hijackers had hookers in their rooms. And, to answer the question you're all asking: 20 minutes.

Speaking of those fun-loving frat guys, do you think they believed that all the news networks would fall for that line about encoded messages? It actually worked, though. CNN promised not to run any more bin Laden et al tapes without asking permission from the government first, and everyone else pretty much followed.

Still more embarrassing than that America Strikes Back thing is how the news channels switched so completely from covering the war to those anthrax cases.

Finally, a quote from Arnold Toynbee from 1954, from a review of the Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotes, which sounds like it would be a great gift, a great gift for someone to buy for me, if I was being too subtle earlier in this sentence: "America is a large friendly dog in a small room. Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair."

The US is dropping cluster bombs on Afghanistan. Which means children will die when picking up the brightly colored unexploded ordinance (5-12% of the bombs dropped).

I'd have to say Bush has indeed managed to kill more foreigners than Americans now. Within a couple of days he should reach the next plateau, when he kills the same proportion of the Afghan population as died in the terrorist attacks.

At his press conference today, how many times did he use the phrase "evil-doers"? I think he's channeling Adam West as Batman talking about the Penguin.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Moron's War

Within an hour of 9/11, someone in a British department was sending a memo to the minister suggesting that now was a great time to release embarrassing information. And they did.

Bush says that his act represents the collective will of the world. Odd, I didn't think it was a UN operation. No, the thing about decision-making in the global world is that it's like the 19th century (or at least 19th-century Britain): a tiny electorate, all rich.

So evidently America Strikes Back. This is the title on the graphic at CNN. And MSNBC. And Fox News. And McNeil-Lehrer. There's nothing like unanimous jingoism.

Ashcroft says that we should be alert to our surroundings. For example, Bush just realized that he lives in the White House now. And don't think he wasn't surprised.

According to the bin Laden tape, the world is now divided between believers and infidels. Great, as long as I don't have to be on the side of either Bush or bin Laden. Go infidels! My peeps!

Finally: Rush Limbaugh is a big fat deaf idiot.

Morons' Crusade

The Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, looking pointedly at Pakistan, said "Afghans are never prepared to compromise their religion and their honor for money." He later corrected the statement, saying "I meant to say `asked,' not `prepared.' What's up with that?"

A Guardian columnist considers the way the CIA & FBI are puffing up the bin Ladinettes to be excessive. Poison gas, germ warfare, nuclear weapons. Sure they've got all that stuff. But they brought down those skyscrapers with a few penknives. But how can you defend upping the CIA budget 9% to defend against that. So they have to turn him into Ernst Stavro Blofeld (I know I used the Blofeld thing last month, but the Guardian got there 3 weeks late. Actually, I used Darth Vader in '98, and I was saving Lex Luthor for whenever it seemed appropriate. Did you notice Congress decided not to investigate the CIA on how they failed so abysmally? Cause the CIA has always done so well when allowed to regulate itself in the past.

The Slate tries to guess what the hell bin Laden was talking about in his video, like what happened 80 years ago that was so bad. Who knows, really, what the hell he thinks. His head is so full of weird ideas you'd think he gets the internet in that cave. A reporter who interviewed him a while back says he thought that some US states might secede because of Washington's support of Israel.

Monday, October 08, 2001

I facetiously asked what was written on the sides of the bombs. As it turns out, "NYPD".

I could go two ways at this point: either a joke about Dennis Franz's ass, or a reference to "Guiliani Time"--extra points if I work in a mention of a plunger.

Sunday, October 07, 2001

Morons with missiles

To war, to war, Fredonia's going to war.

Would it have been so hard for Tony Blair not to have participated in the first day, when the reporter Yvonne Ridley had been released but was not yet out of Afghanistan?

A new book is due out trashing Clinton for his actions in his last days, written by Barbara Olson. Terrif.

Yes, I'm sure dropping a few aid packages with big notices that they are gifts from the American people will really win over the Afghan people. What's written on the sides of the bombs?

I remember suggesting a pool for when Bush would have killed more foreigners than he has Americans (actually, a comedian I saw on tv said that he wasn't worried about that--Bush was just executing Texans, right?). Did anyone have this week? New pool: when will he have killed more people than he claims bin Laden has.

The FBI went after the American web-site of the Real IRA
(motto: Really!). It was raising funds.

A piece in the Guardian used the term Western Fundamentalism, which I rather like. Its key characteristics mirror those it complains about from bin Laden: unquestioned belief in its own superiority; assertion of universal applicability of its values; lack of will to understand what is different from it.

The problem there, though, is that the Morons Crusade is a step back from an attempt to impose Western beliefs and values. Well, it is and it isn't. We do hear about the Taliban's treatment of women, which hasn't noticably exercised anyone in the US government the last few years (although not about its tendency to drop walls onto homosexuals), but it's not like we're going to care what the next Afghanistan gov does with its women, any more than we pressured the Saudis to let women drive or Kuwait to let them vote. Western values may be a stick with which to beat the
wogs, but it's not like we care that much about it in principle. See an article in the Village Voice ( on treatment of homosexuals by our new bestest friends. Similarly, we cared so much about the Taliban's cultivation in poppy, but didn't applaud them when they stopped it, or note that our other new bestest friends the Northern Alliance now produces 90% of it. Think anyone will object to Pakistani president for life Musharaf grabbing more power and jailing his opposition, as he did today? Think anyone will suggest to the Saudi leaders that they'd have less opposition if they were less blatantly corrupt? Oh, whatever, I've lost my train of thought and I need a nap. Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, everyone!

Saturday, October 06, 2001

So when they finally identify the bodies of the hijackers, do they give them back? So far, they're trying their damndest not to identify them, but it'll have to happen.

The US (Ashcroft, at least) is pissed at Britain for requiring that anyone it extradites not be executed, as required under European law.

But we are happy to send them back the widow of one of their citizens. The couple had lived in the US I believe 8 years and had 3 sons here. Since they were here on his work visa, the INS told her, two days after he was killed in the World Trade Center because he made sure children and people in wheelchairs got out first, that she would be deported. And they plan to keep 60% of the life insurance too.

On the day Sharon was doing his poor little Czechoslovakia act, he also sent quite a few troops and tanks into Poland. I mean the West Bank.

Has the bipartisan consensus ended yet? Cause I'm getting bored. And because Bush wants to give tens of billions in tax breaks, permanent ones, to the healthiest corporations, just like his airline bailout didn't distinguish between healthy and dying airlines. It's all free money, after all. See the thing is, Bush believes in free money, because it always has been. When he wanted to go into the oil business, his father's friends gave him lots to play with and didn't ask for it back when he lost
it. When he wanted the value of his baseball team to increase
dramatically, the good people of wherever it was decided to raise their sales tax so that he could be a millionaire.

Thursday, October 04, 2001

Gregory Hemingway, son of Ernest, has died, in the Miami Women’s Detention Center. That probably requires some explanation. I know he liked dressing in women's clothing, but he was found wandering around naked, so I'm guessing even the Miami police could tell the difference.

Chinese immigrants to Australia don't die. Only 6 out of 55,000 in the last 10 years. It's assumed their identities are being passed on, but where the hell are the bodies?

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

No need for additional evidence

There must be convincing evidence of bin Laden's guilt. Tony Blair says so.

Although it seems that we're actually beyond the proof phase. This is a technique I have commented on before, adopted from Bush the Elder in relation to Iran-Contra, when he couldn't tell what he knew, couldn't tell what he knew, couldn't tell what he knew, and then, whoops, now it was ancient history and he wouldn't dwell on the past. Yesterday I heard Rumsfeld saying that there was convincing evidence that we should all have been convinced of by now. Rummy: "There is no need for additional evidence." As Alice said to the Mad Hatter, how can I have additional evidence when I haven't had any yet?

The Car Show website has a list of the top 10 gay cars.

The Taliban still want to negotiate with the US over bin Laden. I foresee a Solomonic compromise....

The House intelligence committee calls for a "cultural revolution" at the FBI and CIA. Cool, let's send them into the countryside to learn from the peasants.

For those playing along at home, the last 3 items contain one literary, one religious and one historical reference.

Monday, October 01, 2001

A woman in Britain is suing her (private) school for loss of future earnings because they inadequately taught her Latin. She's going to be a lawyer.

Al Kamen's column in the Post says that the Christian Coalition, under the headline Protect Your Family, says that defending against terrorists isn't enough, you need to give them $23 a month for a porn filter.

Oddly enough, they may be right. An article in the Guardian on the Blair government's proposals, like Bush's, to be able to decrypt any e-mail, it says that actually the bin Ladinistas avoided using decryption, which would just have drawn attention to themselves. Instead, they embedded their messages in porn image files.

What is it with the South African government and bogus AIDS cures? A company owned by the government has been testing one such cure, made from burnt coal, on Tanzanian soldiers. Or were until the Tanzanian government caught them doing it.

I've been reminded that Pakistan's military leader is one of those whose name Bush was unable to come up with when a reporter gave him that pop quiz last year. Remember how some people derided the idea that he'd ever need to know that name, which I seem to recall he guessed as "Mr. General."

Saturday, September 29, 2001

Things are beginning to return to normal. Bush was smirking all over the place today, Guiliani has reverted back to being an asshole...

There are now (I haven't seen them) public service announcements by celebrities about how we shouldn't beat up or discriminate against Muslims and Arab-Americans. One (transcript in the Friday NY Times) was by John McCain. You know, the guy who called Vietnamese gooks last year and didn't see anything wrong with that.

I wonder if American foreign policy hasn't become slightly dechristianized in the last 2 weeks. Sanctions have been removed from Sudan, which was on the Fundamentalist hate list because it killed and enslaved Christians, and you haven't heard much about those missionaries imprisoned in Afghanistan, either.

Historian Sean Wilentz suggests that Guiliani, instead of trying to retain his mayoralty by arguing that he is more indispensible than Lincoln in 1864 or FDR in 1944, should be appointed next ruler of Afghanistan.

There is a letter to the NY Times today from someone who announced that they were a member of a support group for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. They are upset by the term suicide bomber, and wish people would stop using it. It just adds to the stigma associated with suicide, she says.

Bush says that we are in "hot pursuit" of bin Laden. It's unclear whether he knows that this was a legal term, one used in the past to violate the borders of other countries, such as the hot pursuit of Pancho Villa into Mexico in 1916 or the invasion of Cambodia in 1970.

Two Air Force fighters were scrambled to help stewardesses force a passenger to put out his cigarette.

A State Dept document says that the Taliban do not represent the Afghan people, who never elected them.

And they say irony is dead.

Attorney General Ashcroft says that the suicide bombers (take that, support group!) don't represent Islam. Mr. Ashcroft, you will remember, thinks that dancing is Satan's handiwork.

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Thank you Silvio Berlusconi for making Dubya look good by comparison. It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it.

Richard Perle on the Newshour today, but without repeating (or being asked about) something he evidently wrote last week, in which he called people who don't join the Crusade "Vichyites."

John Major admits that the allies did try to assassinate Saddam Hussein by bomb during the Gulf War.

Britain has pretty much lost interest in the crusade, thanks to the scandal that one of the many tv companies that followed Prince William on his first day of college failed to leave afterwards as they promised. And the company is owned by Prince Edward.
So the Bushies almost admit that they lied about threats to Air Force One, which never made any sense to begin with. If America had a 2-party system, the fact that they were spinning just like Clinton from minute one might have consequences. Fortunately for them, we don't.

I understand they also tried to get NBC not to interview Bill Clinton last week.

Bush told the Afghan people to overthrow the Taliban but don't expect any help from us. Ask the Kurds or the Iraqi opposition what that's like. In Bush's words, "We're not into nation building." Just blowing them up. He also made a speech at the CIA today. I only caught about 30 seconds of it on C-SPAN before nausea overcame me and I switched off, but in that 30 seconds he said 3 times that bin Laden is "misunderestimating" the American people.

He really did give Chechnya to Putin, just as a I said he would.

The week before 9/11, Salman Rushdie was pretty much banned from airplanes by the FAA and we don't know why, but the answer is probably quite interesting.

Seen the tape of bin Laden's 10-year old kid reciting anti-American poetry? Talk about your hydras: bin Laden has 17 kids. The event on the tape was the marriage of his 19-year old kid to a 14-year old Egyptian girl. Yick.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Morons' War

Say what you will about Bush, but Clinton would have bombed the shit out of something by now.

The Queen now has a mobile phone. She has not yet customized the ring.

The FAA grounded crop-dusters yesterday for fear that Osama bin Laden was going to try to kill Cary Grant.

Bush, who last month was undercutting efforts to cut down on foreign banking secrecy because his campaign contributors don't like to declare their income, is now trying to force every bank in the world to obey his orders and freeze bank accounts of people he doesn't like. This came a suspiciously late 13 days after the attacks.

If you want a metaphor for the Bush administration's inability to understand how people could see things any other way than exactly the way they do, how about the changing of the offensive-to-Muslims Operation Infinite Justice to Operation Enduring Freedom. Remember: "enduring" is meant as an adjective, not a verb.

Britain's foreign minister, talking to Iran and thus causing Ariel Sharon to throw a hissy fit, offers it a role in deciding Afghanistan's next government.

All the talk about how disciplined the Bush people are, and there they go briefing against each other: we will overthrow the Taliban; the Taliban aren't a target; we will give evidence; no we won't.

The pilots' union wants their members to be allowed to carry guns. But it says that those allowed to would first be given psychological tests and background checks. Oh good, because we'd hate for them to put in charge of something that could be used as a weapon without.... Oops.

Sunday, September 23, 2001

Moron's Crusade

Last week I asked just what deals Bush might now be making. We've got some hints with the ending of sanctions on India and Pakistan, the two countries in the world most likely to go nuclear, and one of those a bit fragile at the moment (to say nothing of being ruled by a coup leader). How 'bout the Central Asian republics granting the US the use of airbases? Both have hundreds of (mostly Islamist) dissidents locked up. How about Bush's request for the authority to waive sanctions against Iran, Syria etc if they join the Morons' Crusade? Bush was on the phone with Putin today, doing that thing at which he is most dangerous--talking. What did he give away? Probably nothing on Son of Star Wars, but how about a promise not to criticize any actions in Chechnya? or not allow the Baltic states into NATO? How about the fact that Bush was callling him in the first place to get Russia's permission to use air bases in countries that are not part of Russia anymore?

In today's NY Times Week in Review there is a fake picture evidently making the rounds of the internet, showing Satan's face in the smoke of the World Trade Center. The story it's connected to is about the Nostradamus hoax and so forth. Remember that the next time you see one of those stories about how ignorant the Afghans are with no outside media, thinking (like everyone else in the Muslim world) that it was really the Israelis behind 9/11 (9/11 seems to be the official name now).

Also in the Week of Review, and nowhere else in the paper, and tucked into the middle of a story, it says that this was the week the Times was supposed to have given the results of its recount of Florida, and now it may never.

I don't think I've written this in actual electrons, though I've said it to some of you, but a genuinely oppositional press, well tv, could seriously damage Bush. When he was first told of the plane hitting the WTC, he was reading to children in Florida. We've seen that image, so there were cameras there. He went back to the book. They interrupted again and told him of the 2nd crash. He went back to the book. For 6 minutes, I believe. Imagine seeing the footage of those 6 minutes. To be really cruel (remember what CNN did to Bush the Elder during the Gulf War?) you could run it split screen with pictures of what was happening in NY in those minutes. Or with the black box tape from the Penn. crash. Unfair, you say? It was certainly clear by the 2nd if not the 1st crash that terrorists were using airplanes as weapons. Only 1 man had the authority to authorize shooting down airplanes. And instead of collecting the information he'd need to make that decision, and ordering planes scrambled, he was busy with the hungry caterpillar. (Update. Sorry: pet goat, not hungry caterpillar. My bad.)

Saturday, September 22, 2001

75% in a poll say the assassination ban should be lifted. It's in an executive order, so who's to say it hasn't already been? Clinton said this week that the ban only ever applied to heads of state (professional courtesy, I guess), and that he tried to have bin Laden assassinated.

I wondered why that list of banned songs included Sinatra's NY, NY. "Top of the heap". Oh yeah.

The latest brilliant idea re Afghanistan (which by the way has never, so far as I know, sponsored terrorism in the US, unlike, say, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya...) is to restore the monarch. Who is 86.

The problem with Bush's jihad is of course the one Republicans saw in every one of Clinton's military adventures: no end strategy. Asked about that 2 days ago, Rumsfeld hemmed and hawed and then said that the end would be when Americans were persuaded that they were safe. Actually, much of what we've heard about security the last 2 weeks has been entirely about PR. Listen to it the next time someone talks about planes or skyscrapers: the language most of the time is about making people feel they are safe, not actually making people safer, except inasmuch as it is necessary to the goal of altering perception.

See the Salon article "God bless Big Brother" for some of the details of Bush's wish list for tearing down constitutional protections, email, wiretaps, lowered standards of proof, indefinite detention of aliens, use in US courts of information collected by foreign countries in violation of 4th Amendment rights, including info obtained by torture, etc etc.

The Constitution proper is also being edited. Rumsfeld is spending money not appropriated by Congress, under the Food and Forage Act from the Civil War, which I assume had something to do with Union troops needing provisions not having telephones and credit cards. And the "Homeland Security Agency" (what a title), headed by a Cabinet-level official Bush who does not intend to have ratified.