Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Swiss are the lovers


Berlusconi is planning to freeze his trial by getting a law passed for immunity from prosecution for MPs (they floated a plan limited to cabinet ministers and their deputies, but the MPs who will have to vote on it wanted to be above the law too).

I mentioned that Poland will be given a zone in Iraq. Any German troops may be put under Polish command. Heh heh.

Low-income students are suing the state of California for equality in textbooks, teachers, classrooms, etc etc in public schools. They note that Gray Davis has set minimum standards for student progress, but no standards for school quality. Fighting this, Davis is arguing (and I’m gonna quote from the Chron because you wouldn’t believe that I wasn’t exaggerating) “that low-income students are unlikely to do any better in school even with the same educational benefits as middle-class students.” One of his experts, Caroline Hoxby, who’s at Harvard and so must be smart, or at least arrogant, says that the influence of parents and the neighborhood is much more important than that of the schools, so that if you give too much money to the schools, it reduces the influence of the parents and neighborhood relative to the schools. So far, Davis has spent $18 million fighting the suit, which reduces the influence of the schools relative to over-priced lawyers and Harvard economists. One expert on the other side quoted in the article was Kevin’s dissertation chair, who may not be smart enough to work at Harvard but owns bassets and so must be trustworthy and not embarrassed to be seen in public with a silly-looking animal (Kevin, not the basset).

And Republicans are trying to recall Davis because he’s too liberal.

Here’s a frightening WashPost headline: “1,500 Spanish Troops To Aid Iraq Recovery.” Yes, soon Iraq will be up to Spanish levels of efficiency. And will have the level of security that only the Polish army can provide. Iraq is getting to be like that joke about heaven and hell. Wait, here it is from the internet:
In heaven:
The English are the police,
The Germans are the mechanics,
The Swiss are the administrators,
The French are the lovers,
The Italians are the cooks.

In hell:
The English are the cooks,
The French are the mechanics,
The Swiss are the lovers,
The Italians are the administrators,
The Germans are the police!
I found that by searching Google for “the swiss are the lovers.” Sadly--at least it’s sad for the Swiss--the only hits were for that joke.

In recompense for the Spanish troops, the Bush admin has put a couple more Basque organizations on the terrorist list. Not that a list of officially designated terrorist organizations would be composed on the basis of political horse-trading, oh no.

The WashPost finally reports that Bush delayed the homecoming of the carrier Abe Lincoln by a day (you heard it here 5 days ago). D’s figure it cost $800,000 to $1m. Bush responds only that it was an honor to be there. An honor is something that is bestowed upon one. This is something he ordered as commander in chief: it’s no more an honor than sending flowers to yourself on your own birthday is. Ari Fleischer says criticizing the stunt is a disservice to the men and women of the military. He doesn’t say how.

I hadn’t realized that Iran gave the US overflight rights during the Afghan war--and revoked them within hours of Bush making the “axis of evil” speech. The speech also of course led N Korea to decide that the US had declared war on it, although it was added to the axis pretty much just so that it wouldn’t be all-Muslim. To date, “axis of evil” is the only memorable piece of rhetoric out of Shrub’s mouth, and it’s been way more trouble than it’s worth. He should have learned from his father, who has said 3 memorable things in his entire life. “A thousand points of light,” which is fairly unobjectionable, if vacuous; “voodoo economics” and “Read my lips, no new taxes,” which were deeply embarrassing when he had to take them back.

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