Thursday, January 16, 2003

Divisive

I bought shoes today. I hate buying shoes. Fortunately, the shoe store was near a Krispy Kreme, and I don’t so much mind buying donuts.

North Korea’s website. Probably its only website.

It is now legal to have unmarried sex in Georgia. Plan your vacations accordingly. In the case involved, a 16-year old boy was ordered by the court to write an essay on why he shouldn’t have sex (in Georgia the age of consent is 16, although I guess only if you’re married; however, asking a 16-year old student of the Georgia education system to write an essay is just plain cruel). He wrote that it was none of their business. Unmarried sex is still illegal in 9 states and the District of Columbia.

News from the exciting world of cock fighting: in the Philippines, a fighting cock with razors attached accidentally kills, heh heh, his owner, after hitting him in the groin.

In his speech attacking affirmative action at the U of Michigan, Bush attacked “racial prejudice” at length. It’s just discrimination he doesn’t mind too much. Or at any rate, he’s willing for it to end, but only if it happens accidentally, as some commentators have said. Actually, though, what he really wants is for the issue of race to just go away. This is why he talks about prejudice, which doesn’t directly hurt anyone, and why he attacks affirmative action as “divisive,” as if rocking the boat is the worst thing he can accuse it of. Compare this to his preemptive claims that critics of his tax cuts for the rich were engaged in “class warfare.” Remember, it’s not racial and class inequality that are the problem, as far as he is concerned, but people bringing those inequalities to our attention.

In place of “quotas,” he approves the humbug plan adopted in California, and elsewhere, after affirmative action was banned in the university system, of taking the top, what is it, 5%?, of students at each high school, in effect replacing racial quotas with the divergent standards of schools in different neighborhoods. Elsewhere, he has criticized these differing standards as the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” but here he actually makes them the basis of his policy (or “basics of his policy,” as GeeDubya would say).

I was gonna say that “divisive” is what Trent Lott would mean when he used the words “stirring up the niggras,” but I decided that was too crude.

Secretary of War Rummy Rumsfeld again (see mine of 11/18/02) says that it doesn’t matter what the UN inspectors say about Iraq having WMDs (there, I’ve finally given in to the acronym). In fact, if they find no weapons, it just shows how sneaky the Iraqis are. On 11/18/02 I called this the heads I win tails you lose approach (in case you haven’t committed all my emails to memory)(and if not, why not?). Actually Rumsfeld has never been a big fan of having proof for the assumptions behind his policies (like GeeDubya with tax cuts). Bob Woodward reports that Rummy was calling for war with Iraq on 9/12/01, with, obviously, no proof of Iraqi involvement. To be fair, recent polls suggest that Americans think that some or most of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis, which is further evidence that in a democracy you get the government you deserve (or, to roughly quote H L Mencken, democracy is the theory that the people know what they want and deserve to get it--good and hard).

The Supreme Court decided 5-4 that it wasn’t double jeopardy to give a death sentence to someone in his second trial after the jury in his first trial found him guilty but deadlocked over the sentence, which in Pennsylvania law meant he automatically got a sentence of life rather than death. I guess it comes down to how you define “jeopardy.” Since he was found guilty the first time, and the second trial was on his own appeal, then yes a second *verdict* of guilty doesn’t count as double jeopardy. But the second trial certainly put him in jeopardy of a *sentence* of death for a second time, and the 5th Amendment reads that no one shall be “subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb”--the wording doesn’t confine jeopardy to the verdict. Either way, to create the possibility that challenging your conviction, as in this case, would put you in danger of the death penalty, is to pervert the course of justice. Even if it weren’t unconstitutional, it would be wrong and dangerous. In fact, I may be wrong, but I see nothing in the ruling that stops prosecutors who didn’t go for the death penalty in the first trial doing so for the second, purely as a way of punishing prisoners who dared challenge their conviction.

The NY Times didn’t like the $41 hamburger at all.

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