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.

Friday, September 21, 2001

In the World Latest section of the Guardian, see the story about the importance of TM (transcendental meditation, remember that?), Yogic flying and so on in the Mozambican government.

And see the Tom Toles cartoon for the 17th, available on Yahoo or

Contrary to what someone I spoke with thought, and indeed the NY Times editorial page thought, Bush didn't actually tell Americans to stop beating up anyone wearing a diaper on his head (to coin a phrase). He said "the enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends". The phrasing constructs Muslims as not being part of America, as outsiders, friends of America but not actually capable of being Americans.

The demand that Afghanistan destroy training bases and then let Americans inspect them must be clear to everybody as something not intended to be accepted. The Taliban are still persisting in their demand that some sort of evidence be presented first, which is of course a stalling tactic, but is also something demanded by countries we actually have extradition treaties (and indeed, diplomatic relations) with, such as Canada and France.

The US is using a military base in Saudi Arabia, constructed by the bin Laden family.
If you thought Bush should have used his little speech to mention something about not beating up Muslims, how 'bout Rep. John Cooksey (R-LA), who said that everyone wearing "a diaper on his head" should be stopped and questioned.

By the way, the most disquieting thing about being on campus during a period like this (the flags are back on the fire trucks, by the way) is hearing essentially your own political opinions in the language of 19-year olds. Scary.

Thursday, September 20, 2001

God not neutral

I had to check the Web to confirm that I heard a line in Bush's speech correctly. Yes, he did say that God was on our side. Well, that God was not neutral between various things--maybe he was saying God was on the other side, but he was certainly positioning God somewhere. He just does not learn. I'm getting a little tired of God being invoked, of being ordered into church to pray, but probably not as pissed off as the Muslims were who heard Bush declare that the terrorists blaspheme Allah. One victory for the Muslim PC crowd this week, however, was that the code name for the Moron's Crusade, Infinite Justice, had to be changed when it was pointed out that only Allah can provide infinite justice.

Incidentally, what do you think of "Moron's Crusade"? I wanted something that would invoke the Children's Crusade. I'm open to suggestions for improvement, including the question of where to put the apostrophe. I'm leaning towards alternating.

Bush opened by criticizing the terrorists for trying to remake the world (New World Order anyone?) and "impose their... beliefs on people everywhere." He closed by saying "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. Do as I say, not as I do.

Once again, he forgot to ask the good patriots of America to stop beating up Muslims (and the occasional Sihk).

Meanwhile, the mission in Macedonia was quietly extended, but the hardliners are stalling introducing rights for Albanians by demanding a referendum, months down the line. Why are out troops there?

The Russian Duma has legalized the ownership of land.

The Daily Californian
U.S. Flags Removed From Fire Trucks for UC Protests Officials Attempt to Avoid Confrontation, Safety Risks
Thursday, September 20, 2001

Berkeley fire officials ordered flags to be removed from the city's fire trucks Wednesday, at least temporarily.

The decision was made by top department brass in order to avoid a
confrontation between protesters who might try to steal the flags and the firefighters who would defend them, said Assistant Fire Chief David Orth. Orth said the "operational decision" was made in preparation for a protest today on Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley.

"We are fearing protesters might try to rip the flags off the rigs," Orth said. "I am not concerned about losing a flag; I am concerned about them defending the flags instead of doing what they are supposed to do. They would defend the flag."

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Rumsfeld threatens to bomb Afghanistan (or whatever) even if bin Laden is handed over. OK, it is now time to state the obvious: Bush does not want bin Laden turned over to the US alive. As I suggested yesterday, there is that little problem of evidence, but there is also the question of what he could reveal about the CIA aid he received over the years, the problem that there might well be more terrorism and hostage-taking specifically aimed at securing his release. And so on. So comments like Rumsfeld's, or Bush's, may well be deliberate, to make sure we're not ever embarrassed by getting what we say we want.

Not that Afghanistan could turn him over if it wanted to at this point, since he disappeared into the mountains.

I'm told that the Afghan populace really don't like the "Arab Afghans," the Muslim Arab loons who helped them "liberate" the country and stayed for the women. You'll notice there is no suggestion of even one Afghan national involved in any of bin Laden's alleged plots.

Today's announcements were all a little odd, like reading one of those documents released under the Freedom of Information Act with all the important parts blacked out. Bush makes a public plea for Arab states to help us secretly (some secret), while Ashcroft says that the terrorists were helped by some foreign state or states, which he won't name.

The state most likely to go into civil war over all this is Pakistan. Isn't it nice to know that it's a nuclear power?

Well, my friend may lose his job at US Air, but according to the papers there are plenty of businesses thriving right now, and he should clearly get into selling flags, guns, or Nostradamus. The first person who figures out how to combine the three should make out just fine.

For days I've been meaning and forgetting to say this: perhaps the creepiest statement to come out of the administration is not any of Bush's nonsense but a considered remark of Colin Powell that other nations are either with us or against us. This is not a cliche, this is a threat.
The Justice Department has draft legislation allowing Attorney General Palmer, I mean Ashcroft, to detain and deport aliens, including those with green cards, without showing evidence to any court. The "terrorists" he can deport are defined as people who use a weapon, any weapon including a pen knife, for any reason other than "mere personal monetary gain." I love that "mere."

Opposition has come to an end, with those jets evidently having sheared off the balls of the Democrats, shriveled though they were. Ashcroft's nonsense (and I hope you all understood the Palmer reference, although I noticed not one of you noticed what I swear was a typo last week when I gave the wrong year for McKinley's assassination. For shame) and his wiretapping bill will doubtless pass. The ACLU's press officer has all week been telling the press, without a hint of irony, “I'm not at liberty
to say anything”; the Dems dropped a provision in the Pentagon budget stopping missile defense testing that violated the ABM treaty; and the Sierra Club has decided not to criticize Bush on anything whatsoever. Thank god you still have me, eh?

Chihuaha state in Mexico has repealed a new law reducing the minimum sentence for rape to 1 year if it could be proved that the victim had "provoked" it.

In Spain today, the very first attempt to steal euros. Didn't succeed.

British rats have learned how to dive for mussels, shell and eat them. Expect the rat population to explode. Still, not a surprise after the last week that the rats are getting smarter, is it?

There's always that problem when someone's stated rationale is valid, but isn't their real motive. The Taliban are saying that before they hand over bin Laden, they'd like to see some actual evidence that he's guilty of something. Hey, you and me both. Remember we never heard of this guy before 1998 (when long-time readers will remember I expressed my doubt about whether he really was the '90s Blofeld), and have never been presented with anything resembling evidence. What I've heard doesn't even amount to circumstantial evidence. "Well, it's terrorism, right? And he does that kind of thing, right?" Oh sure, it's secret intelligence stuff, so it can't be made public. Then how do you expect to hold a trial? Not that bin Laden could get a fair trial. Maybe we should stop using legal words altogether. Afghanistan isn't refusing to "extradite" him--there is no extradition treaty with Afghanistan, whose government we don't recognize. Any process would be extra-judicial. Which may be acceptable under the circumstances, but let's not pretend it's something other than what it is, an act of pure power politics.

The evidence would presumably come from the same intelligence agencies that last week fucked up fairly dramatically. And what is the standard of evidence applied by the Bushies, anyhow? If they're convinced that bin Laden is responsible, does that mean the evidence is better than that suggesting that arsenic in the drinking water is bad? better than the evidence for global warming? better or worse than the evidence that Star Wars will work?

Monday, September 17, 2001

Sharon says, out loud, that he is refusing talks with Arafat in hopes that Arafat won't join in Bush's little crusade, so Israel can continue its own crusade against Arafat with impunity.

Bush's use of the word crusade is another reason they should never let him speak in public again. He couldn't have said something more disturbing to the Islamic world if he had called bin Laden a sand nigger. And today he said that he wanted bin Laden "dead or alive," which provides the perfect excuse for Afghanistan not to give him up (yes I know how ironic a Taliban stance in favor of due process is--though I'm sure they always have a trial before knocking a wall on top of a homosexual--but irony tends to go unnoticed in politics, as seen in the confirmation last week of Negroponte.)

Speaking of choosing the right words, I've got one to replace all the talk of "an act of war." Actually 3 words: crime against humanity.

Catholic churches in England are to replace the traditional confessional with glass screens, to cut down on sexual abuse of children.

Speaking of which, Swaziland bans sex for 5 years for young women. Also shaking hands. Also trousers. And they're supposed to wear a tassel or something to indicate virginity. I'm assuming they'll also wear other clothes. This will of course wipe out the scourge of AIDS. Good luck with that.

Saturday, September 15, 2001

Thanks but no thanks: 1,000 prostitutes marched in Calcutta condemning the terrorist attacks and offering to donate blood.

Austria has a program to deal with arrested young neo-Nazis, forcing them to take a course in History and Democracy. It's assuming that they're just young and bored and ignorant rather than assholes. We'll see.

The term terrorist is great, isn't it? If you can use it to describe your enemies, you're automatically one of the good guys. After something in the 1980s, possibly the discoteque bombing, the first one on the phone to offer crocodile sympathy was the South African president, Botha or De Klerk, because of course the poor white South African people were also fighting terrorists. Ditto the Israelis, who seem to be having trouble refraining from rubbing their hands together in glee (and some didn't refrain, including a couple of cabinet ministers and Netanyahu), and of
course Sharon, who is no more in the right today than he was a week ago, and has no less blood on his hands, thinks he can stop negotiating with Arafat.

At my end, my real modem still isn't talking with Windows, possibly for similar reasons to Sharon and Arafat, my front door broke, my VCR broke, and my diverticulitis seems to have flared up again. On the bright side, my landlord fixed the door, I bought a new VCR I think I kind of like (but not its remote), and there's a cat on my shoulders. Nope, there he goes. Oh dear, Opie and Turquoise just reached the food bowl at the same time. Now they're calling each other terrorists (the extra k's are from using an old unfamiliar keyboard with my old 386 computer which still has a working, if very slow, modem). Now Opie is eating my cat's food and my cat is on the back of the chair I'm sitting in. More bulletins as necessary.

Friday, September 14, 2001

Ridding the world of evil

According to Jerry Falwell, several members of this list, one way or another, are responsible for the terrorist attacks. We should probably all apologize at once.

Rep. Don Young of Alaska thinks the real culprits might be the

Bush says that we will now rid the world of evil. I see him travelling the world fighting evil wherever it arises. Like that guy in Kung Fu. And now he has $40 billion in walkin' around money. You can rid the world of an awful lot of evil for that much. Congress gave him everything he wanted (although the wording on the Tonkin Gulf Resolution is a little better than the first draft), basically a blank check. It then abolished itself and declared him king. Princess Jenna is now second in line of

Thursday, September 13, 2001

Ariel Sharon says that every nation has its own Osama bin Laden and that Arafat is his. (He also sent tanks into Jerico today) Isn't it interesting that he wants to universalize some experience and not others? Just last week they were complaining at the use of the phrase "European Holocaust" in some documents at the racism conference, because the Holocaust is a unique event in their view.

Bush is talking about whipping terrorism. I think he should have buttons printed up: Whip Terrorism Now. I knew Gerald Ford...

The Bush administration is no longer isolationist or unilateralist. Oh goody. Remember how much they were willing to give away to try to win international support for Star Wars--Chinese resumption of nuclear tests, no hassling India over its nukes, etc etc? What sort of bargains do you think he's making now?

Fiji reestablished apartheid this week, if anyone cares.

A panel of the 9th Circuit ruled that the kidnapping of a foreign national (a Mexican) to face charges in US courts is unconstitutional. Probably bad timing on that one, but it'll be overturned in any case.

Bush went to Congress with his version of the Tonkin Gulf
Resolution: power to use the military to do anything against anyone, now and in the future, and $20 billion to spend as he sees fit. Other Bushies have their own wish list. I may have already mentioned the unseemly haste with which Rumsfeld brought up his project of an Official Secrets Act. There will be more of this, of course.

The following piece is an analysis of Bush's performance, in more than one sense. I especially liked how he said at the Pentagon, "Coming here makes me sad." The man is a walking emoticon.
Today I saw (in Berkeley, natch) one of the new VW Bugs painted like one of the old VW Bugs, with rainbows and hearts and such.

Speaking of returns to the old ways, the Empire State Building is now once again the tallest building in NY, which is as it should be. Some of us never took too well to the sacrilege of the World Trade Center.

Speaking of which, the Empire State Building was briefly evacuated today after a bomb-sniffing dog made a mistake. Thrown off by the lingering giant-monkey smell, no doubt.

There was a story I heard this morning and then never heard again, which I assume means it was a fake, but feel free to correct me on this: one of the survivors of the World Trade Center was said to have been on the 82nd story when it collapsed, and sort of rode the collapse down.

As incredibly unlikely as that was, the tv people just put it out there, and there's been a lot of that. The thing I said yesterday about the flights to California having been chosen because they would have more explosive fuel, as obvious as that was, nobody on tv said it during all the time I watched. Another thing they were told and just repeated endlessly was how well organized and coordinated this was. Uh huh, once they were all trained and ready, they demonstrated this coordination by buying tickets for flights that took off within a few minutes of each other, and their organization by all showing up on time for their flights. Big freaking deal. And another: the FBI claims to have evidence that the Pennsylvania plane was targetted at the White House--and Air Force One. What was it supposed to do to Air Force One, which was presumably in Florida and is impossible to hit at the same time as the White House, since it rarely parks in the back yard, or even in the garage.

In the future, first class passengers will no longer be given steak knives. I like to picture a bunch of fat white businessmen eating steak with their hands.

While I was on the phone, I could see that Congress was in session at nearly 1 in the morning, and voting on something. It turned out to be a resolution against terrorist attacks on the US. Sorry I missed that debate. If you're wondering, I won't leave you in suspense: nobody voted against it.

Congress is so desperate to act as if it has a role in this that members are talking about declaring war. Against what or whom, they do not know or care.

Some favorite quotes from the front page of this morning's NY Times. From a guy at an Internet firm in the World Trade Center: "I'm a combat veteran. Vietnam, and I never saw anything like this." No shit, I'm guessing that's because there were relatively few 110-story buildings in the rice paddies?

And from Bush's speech: "These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat, but they have failed." Wasn't that Bush's campaign slogan, "Chaos and Retreat."

Personally I think this was all a plot by Gary Condit to get the media off his back. That's the corollary to the theory that Robert Blake killed Chandra Levy to get the media off his back.

The Latin Grammies were cancelled. Damn you terrorists to hell!!!! Now we'll never know what Jennifer Lopez was going to not wear. Also, Texas postponed an execution. No sense of irony, the Texans.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

A cartoon, titled, how they get the froth in the cappacino, shows a cross section of the machine, which contains two large bins, below which are converging pipes. One bin is labelled salt, the other is labelled slugs.

A lot of talk about Pearl Harbor, which should do the video rentals of that crappy (so I hear) movie a lot of good. Too bad it didn't happen 4 days ago, the 50th anniversary of the day Bush the Elder *thought* was Pearl Harbor Day. And in general, a lot of talk about war. It's like the old line that if you owe the bank $1,000, they own your ass, but if you owe them $1 billion, you own their ass. A small enough act of terrorism, and it's a crime, big enough and it's an "act of war."

To interrupt, I've remembered the other thing I meant to say. The 2 biggest fuckees of the day are the guy they just caught who hijacked a plane in 1971 and doesn't think it was a big deal, and the guy who killed someone and, at the sentencing phase, the mother of the victim asked the judge for the maximum penalty--and then dropped dead right there in court. Now, that's fucked.

This might all be good news for Al Gore, who headed the commission that called for much greater airline security, that was rejected on the basis of cost by all the airlines. Good call, guys.

Anyway, I was talking about the war/Pearl Harbor analogy, and I tend to think it's not helpful. Terrorism is a way for a group to punch above its weight. Like a lot of people before them, they came to New York with no more than a dream in their hearts, a knife, and some time in playing with the flight simulator. They're happy enough being called terrorists, but they'd just adore being thought of as warriors, which is how they think of themselves. This is not something we should give to them, and they don't particularly deserve it anyway. Call them criminals. Criminals with small penises. There may be something to the conscious and concerted decision of the country in 1900 not to use Czolgosz's name any more than absolutely necessary.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001


Well, you have to be impressed. They hijacked 4 planes and didn't get caught even once, and I presume they got the exact planes they were looking for, since all 4 were trans-continental flights, presumably chosen for their full fuel tanks. Where was the Pennsylvania plane going?

I've forgotten who was the first Congresscritter I saw today crass enough to use this as an excuse for supporting Star Wars (yeah, I'd have thought it did the reverse too, but you know that, against all logic, the fight against missile defense just lost.)

One thing to remember is that the US makes well-deserved enemies without noticing. To wit, two stories I had planned to mention the next time I e-mailed, which is now: 1) Remember the banana wars? Over the years I've sent out a couple of humorous Parliamentary sketches from the Times about attempts during PM's Question Time to make Blair say the word banana. Anyway, the US, acting on behalf of either its banana industry (it has none) or just possibly large multinationals like Dole who contribute heavily to candidates of both parties, succeeded by threat of trade war in forcing the EU to stop protecting its former colonies by buying their produce at above-world-market prices. As a result, several small countries the US couldn't give a shit about, except when it's invading them, have gone bankrupt. Well, it didn't make the NY Times, but Libya just offered to buy the entire banana crops of St Vincent, Grenada (remember them?) and Dominica at above-market prices.

2) Remember Bush's first act in office? The global gag rule on
international family planning services. There was a story in the New Statesman about what this actually meant on the ground, detailing clinics that have had to close in Kenya, Ukraine etc and what they did.

And that's what happens when the US isn't paying attention.

When the news reached Dubya, he was reading to children, which is just about within his capabilities. He finished the book.

Oh, speaking of Curious George, the Daily Show reported that the character's owners of same were pissed that Jews for Jesus were ripping them off in their propaganda. They could get millions for copyright infringement, but, as the show said, it was likely that the defendants would try to Jew-for-Jesus them down.

Saturday, September 08, 2001

The NY Times Week in Review has excerpts from yet another book on the philosophy of the Simpsons (the D'oh of Homer). This is getting frightening.

Thursday, September 06, 2001

SF Chronicle headline: “Fox Stuns Bush With Demand for Pact”. Of course this is Bush we're talking about, so the headline might as easily have been Fox Stuns Bush With Demand for Coffee With Two Sugars.

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

First, for a picture of Prince Charles with a woman with a pointy bra, click here.

Phil Gramm and Jesse Helms are retiring. The Senate is in some danger of experiencing a relative shortage of major assholes. I don't know if this is really good, since it always helps to have the enemy's position expressed in the stupidest possible terms in the stupidest sounding accent.

I ask again, why is NATO helping the Macedonian government. The interior minister, Slobbo with training wheels, was seen last month in a revenge raid on an Albanian village at which he insisted that the only casualties were terrorists, including a 6 year old terrorist.

Among the latest UN peacekeepers in Kosovo: Zimbabwean police, who lately have come to a certain expertise in the field of ethnic cleansing.

So the US has been developing a super-anthrax, but it's only for defensive purposes, so that's ok then.

Sunday, September 02, 2001

A New Statesman competition plays off some radio program in which someone defined an intellectual as "Someone who, alone in a room with a tea cosy, doesn't try it on."

Other definitions: He speaks several European languages, often in the same sentence. An intellectual looks upon football songs and mobile phones as interesting social phenomena. An intellectual knows exactly how things work, but is unable to work them.

One competitor chose the decalogue format, including: Thou shalt have a bad haircut. Thou shalt not take Foucault's name in vain. Thou shalt watch no television, except Bugs Bunny. Matching socks are mere vanity. Alone in a room with a tea cosy, thou mayst try it on, but then thou shalt leave the room still wearing it.

After coming across that competition, I found an example from the real world: An intellectual is someone who, reviewing (trashing) a made-for-tv movie on Catherine the Great for the American Historical Review, fails to mention that she is played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Also reviewed in the AHR is a British documentary about the electric chair. Evidently it was part of the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, which was also a rivalry over whether DC or AC would dominate. Edison promoted the use of AC and Westinghouse generators for executions to make the point that AC was more dangerous. Westinghouse therefore funded the appeal of the guy who would become the first to be executed by electricity in 1890 in New York, arguing that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

Saturday, September 01, 2001

No one has yet explained to me why on earth NATO is in Macedonia disarming Albanians, when the government is conceding Albanians nothing, the interior minister is openly threatening genocide the minute they are disarmed, death squads roam the streets, and arms are being imported by the planeload.

The race to lead the Tory party into its next humiliation is now in its 83rd exciting week. Last week Kenneth Clarke called Iain Duncan Smith a "hanger and a flogger", which is related to his social policy preferences, not his personal life, I think, and said that if Duncan Smith won, there would be an influx of far-right racists into the Tory party. IDS responded that he personally is one-eighth Japanese. So that's all right

In a story that will go ignored, the remains of 15 bodies (so far) have been found buried at an old US base in Honduras, where the Contras used to be trained....