Sunday, August 31, 2003

That's not my Jesus

The WashPost has a story about France holding up the lifting of sanctions on Libya because, despite all evidence supporting the contention that the lives of cheese-eating surrender monkeys are worth less than 1% that of any American, they object to the Lockerbie airplane bombing victims’ families getting 100-1,000 times more than was received for each dead Frog in a similar airplane-bombing. But what I really liked was the Post headline: “Lockerbie Families Protest French Resistance.”

I mentioned that the vet prescribed a diet change for my cat. When I tried to buy a new bag of the stuff, I couldn’t find it at the first two pet/pet food stores I tried, so I called the 800 number on the bag. It turns out that this perfectly normal looking dry cat food is in fact prescription. Not just anybody is allowed to buy this cat food, you have to go to a vet. It must contain some really serious stuff. If you didn’t monitor sale of this product carefully, there’d be kitties on every corner mainlining “poultry by-product meal.” It’d be anarchy, anarchy I tell you! If you guessed this means I’m paying 4 or 5 times what normal cat food costs, you would be correct.

The NYT has an article about gays in Canada contemplating their new right to marry. One says that he sees marriage as a dumbing down of gay relationships.

When you look at the New Testament, you’re probably thinking, This would be much better if it came in the format of a teenage girl’s magazine, with beauty tips, relationship articles and so on. If you agree that the Bible is “too big and freaky looking,” then Revolve is for you. Article here, website here. The same people also see the Extreme Teen Bible. Scary.

A gift for the paranoid schizophrenic who has everything: a hat to screen his or her thoughts from aliens.

A man has set the world speed record for a blind person driving a car (144.7 mpg, a Jaguar). On purpose.

About the guy who assassinated two people at an abortion clinic, Jeb Bush says “This gentleman created a premeditated act of murder in the defence of life, which makes no sense to me.” So he won’t stop the man being executed. I’m guessing there might be some irony in that sentence, and that the Jebster didn’t recognize it. He added, “I find I have no sympathy for someone who would kill someone else and then say it’s following the teachings of Jesus . . . That’s not my Jesus.” No, but it’s your brother’s.

Note to the Russian Navy: next time you submerge a submarine, close the hatch. Morons.

The WTO will meet in Cancun next month, and the Mexican government has drawn up a watch-list of 80 activists. You can imagine how this has pissed off the people who didn’t make the list. A petition is circulating among people who want their names added.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Kept them all for himself

This Modern World cartoon.

Tony Blair, who looks very bad indeed after revelations about the government’s spinning of intelligence about Iraq (read: lying) and the leaking of the name of Dr Kelly, has fired the first sacrificial lamb, communications director Alistair “Ali C” Campbell. This is supposed to send a message that government by spin is over, because Campbell symbolized the melding of spin and policy, although one sign that it is not is Campbell and Blair claiming that he wasn’t fired but resigned to spend more time with his family.

The Times, writing about whether The Arnoldater’s past will hurt him, talks about sex scandals past in American politics, including a story I hadn’t heard before, that in 1800 John Adams’s opponents claimed he used his VP as a pimp, that he had gone to England to pick out four girls as mistresses, two each for himself and Adams. Adams responded, "I do declare upon my honour, if this be true, General Pinckney has kept them all for himself."

Kano state in northern Nigeria will require Muslim girls to wear headscarves in schools.

Bush expanded the gag rule, banning aid to all family groups that have anything to do with abortions, even with their own money. And he did it on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend.

Also under the radar, he’s decided that carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming, don’t count as pollution, and so do not fall under the EPA’s purview.

Also, if I’m getting this straight, the new WTO deal on drugs for poor countries looks ok on paper but is designed to be unworkable in practice.

Story in Friday’s NYT “Prosecutors Fight DNA Use for Exoneration” worth reading. Florida will bar DNA testing to prove innocence in old cases after Oct. 1.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Once a jolly swagman sat beside the billabong

MORE FREEDOM FRIES, M. CHIRAC? Bush’s chef was in Paris for a convention of chefs to heads of state. A French tv station sent a lookalike to Jacques Chirac’s wife, and hidden cameras, to try to hire him away from Bush. “M Chirac, she said, was sick of French food. He had once mentioned that he liked calves' head and he had been eating snouts and lips at official dinners ever since. What he longed for was some good American cooking, hamburgers and barbecue. Would Mr Scheib agree to leave Mr Bush and come to work at the Elysee?” He was still thinking about it when someone recognized the producer. A silly diplomatic incident ensued.

Haaretz says that the US has given Israel permission to go ahead with assassinations.

An old Arnie interview surfaces. Now will Republicans dislike more the fact that he participated in a “gang bang” (voluntary) or that the bangee was black?

From the LA Times: “Three members of the San Diego City Council were indicted Thursday for allegedly taking illegal campaign contributions from the owner of a nude-dancing establishment in exchange for their promise to help make it legal for nude dancers to touch patrons or sit on their laps.” That’s the result of a 3-year investigation by the FBI, which has a history of investigating this sort of thing very, very slowly. On the other hand, George W. Bush, who just changed EPA rules so that old industrial plants owned by his contributors can upgrade to increase their profitability without having to do anything about pollution, and can indeed increase their levels of pollution, is not being investigated by the Fibbies because, in the words of an FBI spokesman, “There ain’t no titties involved.” Incidentally, the 3 bribees didn’t even get the no-touch rule repealed. Also incidentally, the EPA rules are in blatant opposition to the intent of Congress re air pollution.

The most important news story in Australia: “John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, urged his countrymen yesterday to defy a "ridiculous" ban on the singing of Waltzing Matilda at the Rugby World Cup.” Only the official anthem, which is boring as hell, which Waltzing M. isn’t. The question is who will try to tell a stadium full of drunken Aussies what they will or won’t sing. Something I didn’t know: there’s an actual paid product placement in the song.

Below is the hilarious fundraising letter the R’s are sending out, slightly edited, which paints Bush as a beleaguered underdog. A couple of days ago I mentioned that Bush plans to spend $170 million in his uncontested primary. Granted, it would cost at least that much to convince most of us that Shrub is better than no one, but it all has to do with the campaign finance laws, which he is planning to ignore for the primary race, but abide by during the presidential race in order to get federal matching funds. And you’ll remember that the R primary season is particularly long in 2004, so they can hold their convention in NYC around 9/11/04.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman

The Republican Party is using people in India to make fundraising calls.

The bribery investigation of Ariel Sharon and his sons continues, ignored by the US media. In 1999 Sharon repaid an illegal $1½ million campaign donation. He repaid it with money that almost certainly came from the exact same people, but better disguised (although they used the same Austrian bank). Austria is stonewalling the investigation. Actually, the Israeli justice dept is stonewalling its own investigation. To explain: Austria will only cooperate with criminal investigations, not what Austrian law considers “ethical” issues, like campaign finance laws. So Israel asked for cooperation only for campaign finance issues, dropping criminal charges (bribery, fraud). Under Israeli law the burden of proof in cases of politicians receiving money is on the politician.

In response to a request from the International Civil Aviation Organization, Canada will ban from its passport photos smiling or grinning.

“A saffron-robed Hindu ascetic who threw silver coins at crowds of pilgrims heading for a holy dip at the climax of the Kumbh Mela religious festival is believed to have triggered a stampede that killed 39 people and injured about 150 yesterday.” Evidently this pilgrimage ends in stampedes with monotonous regularity, the biggest resulting in 800 deaths in 1954. “Hindus believe that bathing in the river during Kumbh washes away sins accumulated over 88 previous births.” Is not learning from past mistakes a sin, or just stupidity?

It has been pointed out that Satan was so pleased with the 10 commandments monument being wheeled away in Alabama that the Dow closed down 6.66 points today.

Quote of the day, from The Arnold: “Gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”

Chile is moving towards legalizing divorce (you can get an annulment by saying/lying that the address you gave on your marriage license was false).

Bumper sticker: “My Boston Terrier is Smarter than Your Honor Student.”

Maureen Dowd, disputing Bush’s notion of a “total victory” against terrorism, says “Terrorism is not, as the president seems to suggest, a finite thing.”

The WaPo on the extent of war profiteering by Halliburton. Also, the US is going to order the opening up of Iraq’s economy to foreign investment. At a time when the Iraqis themselves are incapable of mustering capital, that would obviously mean that the economy would be sold up and taken over dirt cheap by foreigners... whoever they might be. There will be no requirement that profits be reinvested in Iraq and not taken out of the country. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, except he can’t speak Arabic.

L.A. high schools are requesting that if students miss school, the parents reimburse them the $40 in state funding they lose per day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Cultcha

A week or so after 9/11, I said that the Bushies kept talking about making Americans “feel safe” about flying in airplanes and such, and seemed less concerned with making them actually safe. Now it seems that they ordered the EPA to lie and say that the air in NYC was safe, and that breathing in bits of burned buildings and airplane passengers and such was actually good for you, cleans the sinuses right out.

As deaths of American soldiers in Iraq since the “end of major hostilities” now equals the number of deaths before then, Condi Rice urges patience: "We are 117 days from the end of major combat operations in Iraq," she said, without explaining if that’s 117 days after or 117 days before.

Jon Carroll says that the idea of dim bulb GeeDubya surrounded by bright, ruthless neocons was a myth, that in fact the neocons aren’t that bright either. For example, Cheney, Wolfowitz, etc have been demanding the invasion of Iraq since at least 1998 without evidently ever having thought through the consequences.

A NYT article on Bush & “compassionate conservatism” on the front page of Tuesday’s paper mentions in the first paragraph his campaign website’s “compassion photo gallery” section, without observing that most of those pictures are Bush with black people, which was pointed out by several leftie websites and bloggers last week (and, eventually, the WashPost). Is the Times being deliberately obtuse, or is it somehow in bad taste to take cognizance of the fact that Bush’s compassion pretty much begins and ends with letting minorities serve as photo-op fodder.

Shrub says that "terrorists are gathering in Iraq to undermine the advance of freedom." Don’t we usually invade countries in which terrorists gather? Oh, wait...

He also reiterated a massively silly argument that others have used, but not I think him before today: that all the attacks in Iraq are a sign of how desperate the bad guys are (he called them terrorists, which preserves the central nyah nyah tone of the Bush admin but is inaccurate as a description of people who attack forces occupying their country). Yeah, it’s a sign of desperation if they attack us, a sign of boldness and resolve if we attack them, yeah yeah yeah. And he said we should fight terrorists in Iraq so "our people will not have to confront terrorist violence in New York, or St. Louis, or Los Angeles." Didn’t Reagan say this about the contras, and LBJ about Vietnam? Also, and with all due respect: St. Louis? The Post article I’ve been heckling in this paragraph notes the contradictions in Bush admin characterizations of the Iraqi, oh for the sake of contrariness, let’s call them freedom fighters. It’s the last gasp of a dying regime, it’s an all-out war for the security of the US and what Bush calls “civilization.” It’s a floor wax, it’s a dessert topping.

At the tail end of the article, it talks about Bush’s fund-raising, which includes $55 million raised so far to fight a primary opponent who does not exist. The Post did not make any comparison with Iraq. Here’s a hilarious quote from Boy George: "Until the political season starts for me, I will continue to work to earn the confidence of every American by keeping this nation secure and strong and prosperous and free."

The NASA report blames the Columbia explosion on flaws in NASA “culture.” This sort of thing worries me. Although I don’t disagree with the idea, when you’re that vague about the problem, it’s often because you’re not planning to do anything substantive to change, just hold a bunch of silly corporate seminars in which people fall backwards into each other’s arms. Anyway, NASA has a problem with “culture,” Bush is in a battle to preserve “civilization,” maybe everyone should just go to an art museum and an opera and declare victory.

Speaking of culture and civilization, in Nevada, Republicans and the far-right are starting a plan to recall the governor. Maybe they can get Steven Segal to run. Their governor too was just reelected in November. Nevada’s system is that any potential candidate for governor has to gather a huge number of signatures, the same as for the recall itself, which is much higher proportionately than in Cal. If no one can do that, a recalled governor is simply replaced by the lite gov.

Time magazine says that the Army is rotating officers out of Iraq, and replacing them with new ones new to the country and the troops. Because when has actually knowing what you’re doing been a qualification for a job in the Bush admin?

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Blah blah blah...the people

Asked about gay marriage, gubernatorial no-hoper Tom McClintock called marriage "a unique institution through which we perpetuate our species." Funny, I thought we did that through fucking.

Another candidate is one Trek Thunder Kelly (I’m guessing that’s not the name he was born with), who is running as a piece of performance art, or something. He dresses only in blue, for reasons too pretentious to repeat here. Here’s a quote from his website: “I am committed to defending the Constitution of the United States, blah, blah, blah…the People.” He was once student body president, which makes him more qualified than Arnie.

Who just popped his political cherry by breaking his first election promise, which was not to raise money, like all those politicians who didn’t have the public spirit to have spent 40 years becoming a multi-millionaire before deciding to run for office.

Filling a niche: http://www.black-market-babies.com/
“For as little as $50,000, we can provide you with a healthy child of the color of your choice, no questions asked. Because if you have that kind of money to throw around, you don't have to answer questions. Black Market Babies.com is one-of-a-kind: a full-service, fee-based adoption agency. It's safe, fast, and in many ways legal. And it's guaranteed. If you're not satisfied after 30 days, simply return your child in good condition, in the box it came in, for a full refund.”

Sunday, August 24, 2003

That's Golden Doofus State to you

I’m listening to a cable music channel and I have just one question: what moron had the idea of recording the Barber of Seville in German?

The US is hiring members of Saddam’s secret police to help track down members of the resistance. Oh yeah, I can’t see how anything could possibly go wrong with that policy.

I forgot to mention that one of the 135 tried to drop out after being named prime suspect in an old murder. In most states a gubernatorial candidate being a possible murderer would be news. Here, now, not so much.

Bill Simon, the one person who could give Arnie a run in the really-thick neck competition (in both cases necessary to support a head composed entirely of bone), drops out, although like the alleged murderer, his name can’t be withdrawn from the ballot.

Of the Bushies’ many lies about Iraq’s weapons capabilities, I had forgotten the drone planes that could rain chemical and biological weapons down on American cities. Naturally, it was a lie. They were basically model airplanes, used for surveillance and incapable of being used for anything else.

So there was this cute little photo op in which a cute little girl of 9 said that she was an aspiring reporter and asked Secretary of War Rumsfeld if she could ask him a question. Of course she could, and she asked him a softball Larry King would be ashamed of. The whole thing was a setup, her aunt, who wrote the question, works for Paul Wolfowitz.

The Catholic Church calls the murder in prison of paedophile priest Father John “Keep this a secret or God will get you” Geoghan “tragic.” This is a definition of tragic with which I was not hitherto familiar. He was killed by a Neo-Nazi who didn’t like gay people (and actually perpetrated an anthrax scare against Jewish lawyers from prison two years ago). Not clear yet whether they were cell-mates, which would surely be the Fox sitcom pitch of the year. “On November 13th, Father Geoghan was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his bishop...” (Later): no they weren’t roommates.

Two years ago the nutball king of Swaziland banned women under 23 having sex, wearing trousers, etc. Not a single newspaper that reported that has ever bothered finding out what actually happened with that. Anyway, the king himself has just had to pay a fine (one cow) for marrying a 17-year old, his 2nd wife since the ban, and 11th over all.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Blurred & tarnished

UN Sec Gen Annan says there could be a UN-mandated multinational force in Iraq commanded by the US. Why do we need a United Nations, again?

The judge tossed out Fox News’s suit against Al Franken. Fox said his use of their copyrighted phrase “fair and balanced” would “blur and tarnish” it. That would actually be a much more appropriate motto. Fox: Blurred and Tarnished.

India’s Hindu nationalist government plans to outlaw killing (sacred) cows. Evidently most Indian states already have. From The Times: “Last year five low-caste men were lynched by a Hindu mob in a northern town after a rumour spread that they had killed a cow: officials at the time ordered an autopsy on the animal, but not the men.”

The name of Israel’s newest program of assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders: Fine Tuning 1. Other recent ops: Operation Wheels of Momentum, Operations Root Canal One, Two and Three, and Operation Maybe This Time. The newspaper Maariv published a...wait for it...deck of cards with 34 people.

Incidentally, Hamas, while certainly a terrorist organization, also feeds people under intense economic pressure from Israel, who no one else bothers to feed. Bush and Israel are trying to get everybody (read: Europe) to freeze Hamas funds, the effect of which would be as bad as the attacks on UN aid workers in Iraq which Bush deplored yesterday.

New history texts for Russian schools suck up to Putin. Here’s a quote: “Coming after Yeltsin, who was rarely seen and could hardly move, Putin made a positive impression: young, self- disciplined and driven by tireless energy.”

On narrowing of the right to abortion in Russia.

Friday, August 22, 2003

If they want to get the commandments, they're going to have to get me first

Marc Cooper on why the real Republican coup in Calif. was the election of Gray Davis.

The Game Show Channel will run Who Wants to Be Governor of California? October 1st.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore: “If they want to get the commandments, they’re going to have to get me first.” Buy ten, get one free. (Later): Chief Justice Nutjob has been suspended pending an ethics hearing. You get the feeling he just loves all the publicity? Of course he does, it’s what got him this far to begin with. The problem his defenders should have is that Moore wants to have it both ways, to put his version of god above the law and still pretend he can be a judge. Ethically, if he felt he couldn’t obey the federal court ruling on religious grounds, the thing to do was resign.

Ireland will ban smoking in the workplace next year. And it’s looking at whether incense in churches cause cancer, especially among children. Like that’s the biggest danger to children in a Catholic church.

Argentina lifts the immunity of the old generals for their crimes during the Dirty War.

The Daily Show did a story on runaways, interviewing some of the fugitive Texas legislators. Stephen Colbert asked one of them to show him on a pillow in the shape of Texas “where Tom DeLay tried to redistrict you.”

Bush made remarks today (can’t find the exact words) about how he couldn’t understand terrorists who would attack people working to feed and clothe the Iraqi people. Of course, said terrorists aren’t depriving nearly as many Iraqis of food and clothing as the US did with a decade of sanctions. He suggests that “there is a foreign element [not Amurricans, he means] that is moving into Iraq. ... They hate freedom.” Then they’re moving to the right place. He also says, "Iraq is turning out to be a continuing battle in the war on terrorism." No, really, howdja figure?

Speaking of rewriting history, the Vatican is trying to say it never persecuted Galileo.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Fighting anti-terrorism

Bustamante releases his economic program. He calls it “Tough Love for California,” after having considered and rejected “Rough Sex for California” and “This hurts me more than it hurts you, but not really.” He does get points for the politically suicidal notion of revising Prop 13 (for commercial property only).

I’m sure The Arnold’s commercial is online. It’s completely bland and non-specific, as his campaign has been. Not tough love for California so much as Luv ya, California.

Continuing to profile the very other candidates, the LA Times mentions one Kevin Richter, who says “My primary experience is 29 years of breathing. I'm also known for my frugality.” The latter sentence highlights a flaw in the economic thinking of most of these people. They all claim to be really good with budgets, and they all just wasted $3,500 entering this race. Father Guido Sarducci, not in the running, planned to solve both prison overcrowding and immigration in a program he called Three Strikes and You’re a Border Guard.

In Davis’s semi-apology yesterday, he put the recall (correctly) in the context of R attempts to steal/reverse elections they couldn’t win. Interestingly, he names Florida in 2000, which may make him the highest elected official to say that Bush didn’t win the last election.

Schwarzenegger repeatedly says that he decided to become an R in 1968 after hearing the Nixon-Humphry presidential debates. Which, of course, there were none of. I think if Arnie wants to become governor, we have a right to ask him to drop his dual citizenship with Austria.

Good article on the PR selling of the war in Iraq.

With the US’s enthusiastic approval, Colombia will resume shooting down planes it thinks might be smuggling drugs, which someone from Human Rights Watch correctly calls extra-judicial execution. Once again they’ll be doing it based on information provided by a private American contractor for the US government, so the next missionaries killed (or tourists, fishermen, etc) will also be on our heads.

The Justice Dept has a website on how wonderful the Patriot Act is, www.lifeandliberty.gov. Note, that’s .gov. The .com is a conservative columnist I’ve never heard of. The .org is an evangelical group. Wonder if Ashcroft checked that first. In the site’s page entitled “Dispelling the Myths,” every section begins “The ACLU claims...”, and then responds that of course they’d never use their awesome powers against ordinary people such as you, just against the bad ones. Also, the Act gives tools to government to “fight anti-terrorism.”

As I write, I’m listening to the Schwarzenegger press conference. On the budget, he says that he tells his children never to spend more than they have. And he only gives his kids an allowance of a million dollars a month. He says he would arrive in Sacramento without any baggage. Um, just like he always arrives at the start of a Terminator movie? He keeps saying he will clean house. My mother asks if he does windows (my reaction to the same remark was an Augean Stables reference, but then I’m over-educated). God, look at him, what’s he using for makeup--wax?

Texas state senator Bill Ratliff, who was acting Lt. Gov after Bush stopped being governor, was called up by Tom DeLay in 2001 to ask if he would suspend the 2/3 rule in order to redistrict. In other words, this is a long-term plan and it did originate in Washington.

China is going to relax its marriage laws, getting rid of some dictatorial horrors I didn’t even know about, but should have. From the Daily Telegraph: “From Oct 1, applications for marriage will no longer have to be approved by the bride and groom's work units, while the health examinations currently forced on both will also cease to be compulsory. Aids sufferers and others with infectious diseases will no longer be banned from marrying.” Divorce will also no longer require permission from the work unit. The mentally ill will still be banned from marrying, but not the assholes who make these rules.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest and most balanced of them all?


Some time back Tim Russert asked Howard Dean a bunch of factual questions about the size of the US military in various parts of the world (this is why Schwarzenegger only goes on Oprah and Access Hollywood). Dean wasn’t far off. GeeDubya yesterday insisted that the number of troops in Afghanistan had been reduced since the fighting there, when it is in fact now higher than ever. This is how much attention Bush is paying to his own military operations.

Jack van Impe, one of the evangelicals invited to the secret State Dept briefing I mentioned yesterday, who didn’t go, claims that Condi Rice has asked him for details on the end of the world.

A sweet story from China: “The head of a Chinese mental hospital has been arrested for selling drugged female patients as wives to local people, many of whom returned the women to the hospital after the drugs had worn off.” (that is, when their symptoms returned)

Robert Fisk says that the bombing of UN hq in Iraq was actually an attack on the US, screwing with its exit strategy. No NGO, no investor, etc is safe under US rule. And of course no journalist--no wait, those are always killed by US troops. How has Fisk survived so long? Anyway, he is right, and this and other attacks, on pipeline workers, Red Crossers, etc., will keep the pressure on the US, with no end in sight.

Brave New World: Indy headline: “First Baby Born from Sperm Bought over the Internet.” ManNotIncluded.com, for those in the market. Check that kid for worms. The proud parental units are a British lesbian couple. Amazon.com might have been more appropriate.

The Tuesday NYT had an article on a possible execution in Texas Wednesday. Late in the article it got to how lazy the 5th Circuit is, speeding over death penalty decisions because it has so many to deal with. Mostly, they don’t bother publishing their decisions, barely even write them. In this case, the judge had issued jury instructions which have since been ruled illegal. Until 1989, jurors in capital cases were asked 1) was the killing deliberate, 2) does he pose a danger to others. If yes in both, the death sentence was automatic. This was unconstitutional because it did not consider mitigating factors. The Texas Lege wasn’t in session, so it didn’t re-write the rules for a couple of years, and judges simply instructed jurors to lie in their answer to those 2 questions if they found mitigating circumstances. Let me repeat, they told jurors to lie!

Fairest and Balancedest

You may have seen the Pentagon’s pictures of what Saddam might look like in disguise. Here are some more.

Here’s an article about a documentary playing in Britain about a guy in Iran who murdered 16 prostitutes, thereby becoming a folk hero.

If the recall is a case of multiple personality disorder, our poor lite guv has a serious schizophrenic problem, affecting even the name of his website: http://www.noonrecallyesonbustamante.com/

Searching for an actual piece of malfeasance by Davis to justify a recall, R’s always say that he lied about how bad the economy/state finances are. Of course that was before Bill Simon promised to solve the $38 billion deficit entirely through the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse, and McClintock, I believe, thought it could be done through Medical fraud. Eliminating it, not committing it. I think. Maybe if every Californian fakes whiplash...

And of course they will all reverse the increase in car registration. Simon is pressing The Arnold (who he calls a “liberal”) to sign a “no new taxes” pledge. I’d like to recall Simon even if he doesn’t win.

Speaking of pledges, Tom DeLay says that the Texas legislators, whose parking spaces are currently being threatened, are violating their oaths to the Constitution. That is, to the provision calling for redistricting every 10 years. OK, I don’t think I’ve ever explained exactly what’s happening, and no one else is doing it, so here goes. The R’s claim there was no real redistricting because it was done by a federal court rather than the Lege. Why wasn’t it done by the Lege 2 years ago? Because the D’s were in a majority they weren’t expected to have much longer. So the R’s used the 2/3 rule to prevent any action, forcing it into the courts. That was always intended by the R’s as a place-holder, until they regained control, scrapped the 2/3 rule, and undid the previous redistricting. This is how it is now: any decision, any election, that does not go their way is to be considered provisional and illegitimate. As the Daily Show described the Calif. recall process, the founding fathers saw that one day people would rise up and say, The elected governor is not a member of my party, and that ain’t right!

The Texas Republican Party has taken out radio ads attacking the record of one of the 11, Juan Hinojosa, featuring actors using cartoony thick Mexican accents. Can’t find it online. Anyone?

US soldiers kill a Reuters cameraman, not for the first time. They claim they thought his camera was a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. I have yet to see a newspaper do a side-by-side of his model of camera, and an RPG launcher, which seems an obvious thing to do. Also, he was shot at close range, in daylight. Also, he’d been there a half hour, with other journalists, and the soldiers knew it, and had given permission to film. What the hell is going on?

Speaking of DeLay, I just ran across an old story that in 1988 he explained why he didn’t go to Vietnam (but opened an exterminating business instead): so many minorities from the ghetto had volunteered, to get those high-paid military jobs and escape poverty, that there was no room left for patriots such as himself (and Dan Quayle).

Speaking of chicken hawks, GeeDubya admits for the first time that combat is still going on in Iraq. The Post says it is also the first time he’s even mentioned the guerilla fighting in Iraq in a speech.

The Post makes what I believe is the first mention of the family killed at the roadblock 10 days ago, in the 23rd paragraph of another story. It also mentions a looter being killed. Still nothing in the NYT.

Over a month ago, but the press (and I) only just heard about it, the White House held a secret briefing, trying to convince evangelical Christian types to support the “road map” and get them to support the ungodly two-state solution. They weren’t buying. I want more details.

I’m told the Alabama Supreme Court monument to the 10 Commandments also features quotes from the founding fathers and others, taken out of context to support the merger of church & state. And it’s copyrighted by the chief justice. I want more details.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Have you ever seen the United States take the blame for anything?

NYT headline: “Israelis Kill a Leader of Islamic Jihad, Which Vows Revenge.” But isn’t “revenge” actually two or three rungs below “jihad” in intensity? Really, if your name is already Islamic Jihad, there isn’t much left in the way of escalation with which to threaten, now is there?

Iceland has started hunting whales again.

Actor Rob Lowe, whose last foray into real-life politics ended up with him filming himself having sex with two girls, one under-aged, at the Democratic convention--and I’ve still never seen the film, which I understand is very funny in that he always keeps his good side to the camera, and I leave it to your imagination good side of what--has joined Team Terminator. Before the last election, Martin Sheen called me up to ask me to vote for Gray Davis. What I want to know before I vote is, who is Donna endorsing?

Quote of the day, from the mayor of Toronto, on the cause of the blackouts: “Have you ever seen the United States take the blame for anything?”

The Indy explains how the late unlamented Idi Amin’s coup was supported by Israel, as part of its program of keeping a civil war in Sudan going. The British also created Amin, although they later considered assassinating him. Anyway, the bastard’s dead, and they’re gonna bury him rather than feed him to the crocodiles.

In news of Brits imprisoned and tortured abroad:
1) 6 Brits improbably arrested in Saudi Arabia for anti-Western bombings in 2000 and tortured into signing confessions, have finally been released after 2½ years. The Saudis have tried to bribe them with something like £1m each not to sue for human rights abuses, but there are no takers.
2) Britain has agreed that its citizens held in Guantanamo, being pressured into signing confessions, would serve their full sentences in the UK. Britain refused a poisoned offer from Rumsfeld to let it try its citizens itself. But Blair knew that a fair trial would result in acquittals and didn’t want these people acquitted, so he’s willing to let a foreign kangaroo court sentence people to his own prisons.

Last week it was foot surgery. This week, to top that: vagina cosmetic surgery.

Colin Powell phoned the president/dictator of Pakistan to apologize for US troops killing 2 Pakistani soldiers last week. But it seems to have taken a few days, and isn’t apologizing for your soldiers killing their soldiers--an act of war by definition--George Uday Bush’s job rather than Colin’s?

Although the US denies it, that helicopter did deliberately knock down that mosque’s flag, as the video shows. Idiots.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Fairer and Balanceder

A list of gubernatorial candidates, with links to their websites, if you are really really bored.

Dep. Secretary of State Richard Armitage, the man with no neck, says that US troops won’t leave Iraq until they find WMDs there. Ah, so this was the cunning plan all along...

Click here to buy your “My Child is a Candidate for Governor of the State of California” bumper sticker and “I’d Rather Be Governor of Calif.” license-plate holder.

The moron who is chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court refuses to obey a federal court order to remove the 10 Commandments monument. “Alabama will never give up its right to acknowledge God,” says Roy Moore. God does not return the compliment. In fact, when passing Alabama on the street, God usually pretends he hasn’t seen it and starts walking faster.

So wassup with the Philippines? There are strong rumors, including reports from people who should know, that the country is staging bombings, arming rebels and letting people out of prison in order to: a) get aid from the US, which has in fact increased forty-fold since Bush took office, b) justify ethnic cleansing in Mindanao. There’s also this thing where an American got injured playing with explosives in his hotel room in May 2002, and was evidently taken away to the US by people claiming to be FBI agents, and never heard of again. Remember, when the US & the Philippines started pumping up the group Abu Sayyaf as a major Al Qaida link after 9/11, it quickly became clear that it was like twelve guys. Naturally, the threat has since been pumped up by any means necessary in order to justify military spending and activity--does that sound at all familiar?

In Central-Asian-megalomaniacal-dictator news, this from the Guardian: “President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has ordered all workplaces to have an "ideological manager" to ensure patriotic fervour runs high in the impoverished state. The president issued the decree this week, saying: "Ideology for a state is like the immune system for a man, the compass for life for a citizen and for all of society."

On arbitrary arrests of Iraqis, and to feed your righteous-outrage jones, click here.

Ya know, I didn’t believe the blackout was caused by terrorists, but then Bush said that the blackout wasn’t caused by terrorists... Click here for the view that it was caused by Bush’s friends in the deregulated energy industry, Enron and such.

Kevin complains that I haven’t made snide mention of Idi Amin’s search for a kidney donor (actually, astonishingly, there have been two so far, but they were incompatible). OK, here it is: let him eat the hospital food, like everyone else. Satisfied?

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Fair and balanced

In a sting operation, an arms dealer is arrested for selling surface-to-air missiles to an undercover FBI agent. Thank god he was caught, because I’d hate to see what happened if the FBI ever acquired missiles.

A British court bans a man from using the word “Paki” in public. The ban is for life and he is threatened with 5 years in prison.

Norway has a line to get into prison. After sentencing for anything below rape & murder, the wait can now be 5 years long.

An even more liberal (?) policy may be found in Argentina, where prison officials let inmates out to commit crimes, pocketing a share, of course.

The Times had a story about a less liberal policy in 1821: a 17-year old was publicly hanged in Bristol, his body given to the anatomists, as was the tradition of the time (I’m resisting my academic training to insert a footnote at this point), and the results bound in Mr. Horwood’s own skin. The book is now owned by the Bristol Record Office, which has put it on display as an exhibit in the National Archive Awareness Month.

The latest controversy in Jamaica is over a statue of two emancipated slaves, a man and woman. Naked. The Daily Gleaner has suggested that people "find it possible to elevate their eyes to the expression of spiritual yearning and hope" in the faces of the figures, but most have found themselves staring at the male figure’s enormous penis. A right-wing radio talkshow host, after attacking the statue as “depraved,” was accused by callers of “neo-colonialist penis envy,” which would have been the subject line of this email if I weren’t worried about spam filters. A picture is to be found here.

Diana Mosley died, to the great surprise of those of us who didn’t know she was still alive (just bought her biography earlier this year, too; hadn’t gotten around to it). That’ll either mean something to you, or it won’t.

The Post says that The Arnold is associated with US English, the group founded by famous napper S.I. Hayakawa to make English the official language. I guess that’s not sillier than any other aspect of California politics lately.

Texas state senate Republicans have decided to fine the fugitive Dems $1,000 to $5,000 per day.

NATO has started peacekeeping in Afghanistan, which should be an easy job since there is so little actual peace to keep. But it is NATO’s first operation outside Europe, and while its intervention in Kosovo broke its own charter as well as international law (good article here),
NATO is now the world’s policeman, with no limits, and without discussion even within NATO countries, let alone with anyone asking the world if it wants a policeman, much less this one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Or with brute animals

An obit in today’s NYT of an “expert on placebos,” the wonderfully named Dr. Louis Lasagna.

Speaking of my favorite names, Charles Taylor did indeed turn the Liberian presidency over to Moses Blah today (my previous favorite African rulers’ names: Omar Bongo of I believe Gabon, and Canaan Banana of Zimbabwe). Taylor held this ridiculous ceremony to his own ego, with embarrassed speeches by leaders of other African nations, and a choir that sang Onward Christian Soldiers and the theme to An Officer and a Gentleman.

I wouldn’t ordinarily link to a picture of Aahnuld’s head framed by two large naked breasts, but since you might be wondering about references to it in news sources that won’t show you what they’re talking about...

The Guardian’s LA correspondent: “So far the former Mr Universe's policies seem similar to those of Miss World contestants: he wants to help children and old people.” He then comes out in favor of the election: “what is crazier - having an election in which dozens of people participate and dozens of issues are raised or the embalmed world of Washington politics where everyone is already bought and sold? And what is wrong with circuses as long as no dumb animals are harmed?”

A picture of the porn star and the 100-year old woman meeting at the country registrar’s office while registering their candidacies.

Arianna says she will "debate anyone, anytime, anywhere," so maybe she could start with those two.

Sadly, Father Guido Sarducci failed to get enough legitimate signatures. Although I’m not sure I could have voted for him, given my commitment to the separation of fake church and fake state.

North Carolina is going to court to get back its copy of the Bill of Rights, stolen by Union soldiers in 1865. This is the first instance on record of NC showing an interest in the Bill of Rights.

The WashPost Sunday examined in great detail, some of it not previously disclosed, Bushies’ lies and distortions about Iraqi WMDs.

Gray Davis: "I may be old-fashioned, but I come from the school where, once an election has passed, and someone is chosen to be the leader, everyone gets behind that leader and does the people's business for the next four years." There’s a school for that? Obnoxious Arrogance High School?

A story I somehow missed last week: the discovery of a 1962 Vatican document saying that anyone who reported or spoke against sex abuse by priests of “youths of either sex or with brute animals” could be excommunicated. The spokesliar for the US Conference of Bishops said that the text was taken out of context.

The Cal. Supreme Court rules that landlords can pull a unit off the market in order to evict tenants who have made themselves obnoxious by, say, asserting their legal rights to have repairs made.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Butt Monkey Beer

Two of the candidates for governor are in the race to promote Butt Monkey Beer.

Gray Davis says, presumably about Aah-nuld, that recycling old lines from movies only gets you so far. Yeah, but only because the Constitution disqualifies him from running for president (and Orrin Hatch is trying to change that).

Something like 158 candidates. And the ballots legally can’t be alphabetical, so good luck finding the one you want to vote for. Even if you knew their name. I think the ballots should be more helpful: instead of their names, they should be listed as Ferret Guy, Thong Girl, Creepy Sumo Guy, 100 Year Old Woman, and so on. I’m not sure if they even all filed. 100 Year Old Woman and Thong Girl did, but what about 18 Year Old Who Lives At Home and Ran For Student Council Six Times (and Lost Six Times)? Don’t laugh, he still has more electoral experience than Terminator, Baseball Commissioner Guy, or Socialite Who Sounds Exactly like Zsa Zsa Gabor Despite Being Greek Rather Than Hungarian. You know, everyone worries about the Democratic vote being split, or the right-wing-millionaire, I mean Republican, vote, but no one is pressuring Gallagher, for example, to pull out so that the joke-candidate vote isn’t split. I say if we could all unite behind one joke candidate, possibly Gary Coleman or Father Guido Sarducci (yes, he’s running too), we could win this thing. For the children. For the children.

Today’s Boondocks cartoon asks the question, how can a gay marriage be any less legitimate than a Jennifer Lopez marriage?

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Just as dignified as Schwarzenegger

Paul Bremer is to import 47,000 AK-47s for use by the new Iraqi army, because what Iraq really needed was more assault rifles.

I have been asked how it’s possible that a recall election would still go ahead even if Davis resigns. In truth, no one is really sure what the law calls for. I mean, it does say that “The vacancy shall be filled as provided by law, but any person appointed to fill the vacancy shall hold office only until a successor is selected in accordance with Article 4 commencing with Section 11360) or Article 5 (commencing with Section 11380), and the successor qualifies for that office.” The problem with this, which shows how screwed up the state constitution is, is that neither section 11360 nor 11380 actually exist anymore. The theory that the lt. governor becomes only an acting governor until the recall election is just that, since the constitution says he becomes governor. It’s not impossible that Bustamante would be out of a job altogether.

Schwarzenegger’s employment policy, in his own words: “that everyone will have a fantastic job”. Dictionary definition of fantastic: imaginative or fanciful; remote from reality. Or maybe he meant a fantastic nose-job.

The Sunday NYT has a story about the use of outdated punchcards in the recall election, and notes their higher error rates and that they’re mostly in areas occupied by poor people. It fails to contrast this with the recall petition itself, which was mostly signed by people who live in other areas, predominantly Orange County and San Diego.

The 99¢ Stores did find a 100-year old candidate.

The porn star also running, who neither Chris nor I have ever heard of (or so Chris says), says that she is just as dignified as Schwarzenegger, and she can speak English. Well, moan in English.

Here’s another story of US troops shooting up a car in Iraq for no good reason. What’s this, the 53rd time this has happened? How could it be allowed to happen over and over and over? Anyway, they killed most of the family, including 3 children. 2 children and the father might have survived, but the soldiers refused to let them be taken to the hospital, and they bled out on the street. What happened is that a different car a block away was moving a little too fast as it approached a different roadblock. So the soldiers at the roadblock fired at it (they killed the driver, then pulled the two passengers out and went Rodney King on their asses), and the other soldiers up the street heard the gunfire and just started shooting at random (it was night time and dark) for the hell of it, and then the guys in the watch-tower joined in. At this moment the abd al-Kerim family had the misfortune to pull up. The reporter says that the next day there were bullet casings everywhere, shot-up parked cars and bullet holes in absolutely every direction.

The Indy also has a story about the US use of napalm in Iraq. And a story about how the US has demolished the villa in which they Bonnie-and-Clyded Usay, Qusay and Mustafa Hussein, although not before CIA agents went through and stole souvenirs--and I actually mean souvenirs, in a personal rather than professional capacity, unless you count selling the stuff on Ebay.

The London Times has a lovely story about women who have surgery done on their feet to allow them to fit into fashionable shoes.

There’s a scandal a-brewing in Israel that I don’t think has been reported here. Ariel Sharon’s primary run in Likud before becoming prime minister was funded by an illegal $1.5 million loan, which now seems to have come from some Austrian businessman (they’re everywhere!), possibly to get Sharon to restore full diplomatic relations with Austria after gay fascist Jorg Haider joined the government (they were in fact restored). Both Sharon’s sons have taken the 5th during the investigation. Did you know that in Israel sons can’t be compelled to testify against their fathers, or, I believe, vice versa?

Friday, August 08, 2003

A Blah presidency

To combine metaphors used to describe the California recall, it’s like a car wreck you can’t help but look at, and then 37 clowns (as of yesterday) all tumble out of the car. On CNN today, I saw a split-screen of Gary Coleman and Schwarzenegger.

Actually, I have a lot in common with Der Arnold. Like him, my most difficult decision was getting a bikini wax in 1978.

Speaking of plastic action figures.

Darrell Issa, who spent $1.7m of his own money on the recall, has pulled out of the race, crying like a little girl. (That last phrase was meant to be read in a Hans und Franz accent). Turned out he was less plausible as a candidate than Gary Coleman or that guy practicing sumo wrestling, by himself, in a big diaper in his backyard. To buy the lousy t-shirt (“I spent $1.7 million to attack democracy and all I got was...”), click here.

Speaking of recalls, Charles Taylor has named his successor, his current vice president, whose name is...drum roll please... Moses Blah.

In response to the possible legalization of import of (legal) drugs from Canada, Pfizer has decided to put Canadian pharmacies on a leash, only selling them the amount of drugs Pfizer thinks suitable for Canadian use only.

I said 2 days ago that the theme of the week is Bush admin deception across the board. Al Gore made a speech yesterday on that very subject. He said that on Iraq, taxes and the budget, and global warming (which he called “climate change,” which is the term the Bushies use--they are banned from using the phrase “global warming”), the president seems to have been pursuing policies chosen in advance of the facts -- policies designed to benefit friends and supporters -- and has used tactics that deprived the American people of any opportunity to effectively subject his arguments to the kind of informed scrutiny that is essential in our system of checks and balances." He says he’s thought long and hard about this and has concluded that the problem is not Bush’s advisers, but Bush himself. He has, amazingly enough, concluded that Bush should be replaced by a Democrat next year. But he repeated that he will not run for president but will endorse one of the nine candidates. In a first sign of unity, all 9 said, Gee Al, thanks but no thanks.

And more on the systematic deception theme: a report I haven’t read, but it’s at www.politicsandscience.org. Evidently there have also been recent editorials in Science, Nature, The Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Post belatedly realizes just how often and by how many top admin officials the Niger uranium lie was uttered. You’d think a Lexis-Nexis or Google search would have turned up all these examples two months ago.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Killer robot

Hans and Franz go to Sacramento: Arnie will run after all, forcing me to add “Schwarzenegger” to my WordPerfect spellcheck dictionary. The Arnold, the LA Times notes, is best known for playing a killer robot. Yeah, and he was in those Terminator movies too.

The paper also refers to his “trademark Austrian accent.” I didn’t know you could trademark those. Could I take a copyright out on sarcasm? On the Leno show, he said “There is a total disconnect between the people and the politicians.” As opposed to the very real connection between the people and multi-millionaire Austrian weight-lifters. It’s unclear just what happened here. Everyone said he would announce that he wasn’t running. If nothing else, you would have thought even Der Arnold would have known how un-serious using the Tonight Show for this announcement was, right up until you heard him quote every crappy tag-line from every movie he ever made--honestly, who ever thought “Hasta la vista, baby” was clever?--during the announcement and press conference, showing that he does have one clear connection with the people of California, who can’t tell the difference between politics and show biz either.

Democratic discipline reverted to type, shrinking away like Arnie’s testicles under the influence of steroids, as Loretta Sanchez, Lt Gov Bustamante and maybe John Garamendi are joining the race.

Speaking of wrecks, a giant cargo ship is wrecked on the coast of Cornwall after, and I quote the Guardian, “the chief officer got his trousers stuck on a lever in the wheelhouse, fell over and was knocked unconscious.”

The Iraqi scientist who turned over to the US those pieces buried in his backyard since 1991, who thought he had an asylum deal, has actually been kept since then in house arrest in Kuwait, because while he told the US everything he knew, he didn’t tell them what they wanted to here about there being an ongoing program.

What the Guardian calls a conference of Dr. Strangeloves, scientists & Pentagon officials, will meet today at an air force base in Nebraska to discuss nuclear strategy. Hopefully there will be leaks. But if you think about it, this statement by a Pentagon spokesmodel is scary enough: "We need to change our nuclear strategy from the cold war to one that can deal with emerging threats." In other words, they want to figure out how to use nukes, or the threat of nukes, in new and exciting ways.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Athenian democracy

In a deniable leak to the press, the Bush admin threatens that if Israel doesn’t stop building its wall-fence, US aid to Israel might be cut back by up to 1%.

London Times headline: “Walkout after Gay Bishop Is Finally Elected.” That’s the Episcopal Church of America, of course. And you just know what was going through the heads of each one of the 20 bishops who were walking out: Try not to sway your hips, try not to sway your hips, try not to sway your hips...

For those who say that California’s recent doings suggest we’re less than an Athenian democracy: Arianna’s running.

I mentioned that the recall ballot will also include Ward Connelly’s initiative to create a “color-blind” California. Does that mean he supports keeping Gray?

Don’t know if Arianna is color blind, but we know her gay-dar doesn’t work very well.

Greg Palast traces Shrub’s unwillingness to look too closely at Saudi funding of terrorism to the strong possibility that that would include Saudis who funded some of his failed attempts at running businesses.

The Village Voice has an article on how the Bush admin has been systematically attempting to force NGOs & government social service agencies to follow the Bush line on condoms, HIV, education, etc etc., or at the very least to live in fear that anything they say can be used to deny them funding.

Molly Ivins’s current column also talks about systematic deception by the Bushies, as did Paul Krugman, I think, on the NYT op-ed page a couple of days ago, who talked about the distortion of evidence in budgetary policy as well as Iraq and every damn thing else. Seems to be the theme of the week, the discovery that every scientist, statistician, social worker and probably janitor is expected to suppress evidence and opinion that goes against Bush policies, and cheerlead for those policies.

And the FDA will allow potato chips and suchlike that use Olestra to discontinue warning about the explosive diarrhoea and other possible side effects.

Because labeling is so important, isn’t it? Like the US military says that it no longer uses napalm, but still sets people on fire using petroleum-based firebombs. And did, in Iraq.

Larry Flynt is organizing a vigil to pray for the death of Bill O’Reilly.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Not pouring money into a black hole

You may remember that in April US forces made a big fuss about a prison for children they had found in Iraq. It was actually an orphanage, but by the time they figured that out, the children had been “liberated” on to the streets and a future of begging, prostitution and drugs. Well, the orphanage has been reopened, now run by Shiite mullahs, who have recaptured many of the former occupants. The girls must cover their hair and so forth, or they are beaten. And they are being “married” off, some as young as 13. Imams are encouraging their congregations to go down and pick one out for themselves. UNICEF pulled out a month ago in horror.

Similarly, the NYT has a story Monday about the proliferation of unofficial Islamic courts that people can go to to mediate disputes or give them permission to kill a Baathist or a female relative or whatever.

Similarly, the London Times says an Islamic Shia army is being formed. It claims a million men have already joined. Obviously it’s less, but evidently a shitload.

Although 52 US soldiers have been killed by hostile fire since the war, um, ended (54, I’ve read elsewhere), another 60 have died from other causes: 23 car & chopper accidents, 12 weapons accidents, 3 suicides, 3 drowned. The number of wounded is many hundred. The story on this says, I think correctly, that the impression that this was an easy victory has been erased. Good.

The British Green Party spokesman on drugs was just tried for, what else, drugs, but won his appeal, the court saying his 19 pot plants were for medicinal use for his bad back.

Azerbaijan’s parliament (it doesn’t deserve an initial capital letter) elects as prime minister the son of president-for-life Aliyev. Fellow dictator in Belarus, Lukashenko has announced plans to change the constitution to let himself run for a 3rd term. So of the 12 non-Baltic former Soviet republics, there are a grand total of no democracies.

A few days ago US troops in Afghanistan shot 3 Afghan army officers, justifying it by saying that the taxi in which they had been riding was “driving aggressively” toward them. Driving aggressively? An Afghan? Surely not!

John Poindexter has announced that he will retire, saying he plans to spend more time sailing. In a boat no doubt paid for with betting-on-terrorism-and-assassination money.

Economics from Dummies, as presented by George W. Bush: “Remember on our TV screens -- I'm not suggesting which network did this -- but it said, 'March to War,' every day from last summer until the spring," Bush said. "'March to War, March to War.' That's not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear 'March to War' all the time.” George has an MBA, you know. How ever did that network get the idea last year that the US was marching to war? We don’t march to war, we drive. That’s kinda the point of the war.

The WaPo finally gets around to a story (11 days after I wrote about it) about Liberia that mentions the terrible human rights record of Nigerian peace-keeping troops, such as the ones now entering Liberia with America’s blessings and no doubt money. Including that little thing in Sierra Leone where 98 prisoners were thrown off a bridge. The US got the UN to give the troops immunity from prosecution for war crimes.

In recall news, the 99-Cent Store chain has offered to pay the filing fee for any 99-year old who wants to run for governor. Larry Flynt now says he plans to conduct polls to see if he’s a viable candidate. "I have money, but I'm not going to pour it down a dark hole ..." He also says that children are our future, which is also a little nervous-making coming from him.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

No, I don't have a problem with a smut peddler as governor. Do you have a problem with a smut peddler as governor?

Many of the rules for the Cal. recall election have been made up, or imported from other laws. For example, the $3,500 filing fee comes from the law for primaries, which specifically says it does not apply to recall elections, but it’s still being used. What the hell, if we can just get 10,000 candidates--and evidently we can--the election will be paid for. “Government by mood ring,” Jon Carroll calls the recall, which is very 1970s of him (he might have said government by pet rock, but Arnie decided not to run). Some of my faves among the candidates: the unemployed woman-- she’s selling merchandise! The cute 26-year old software engineer-- she’s selling merchandise! thong underwear! Look at the links on her website: she’s actually been mentioned by or interviewed by a fair number of newspapers and tv stations. She’s against the death penalty, so I may vote for her. Slogan: “she won’t go gray until her term limits are up.” Also Larry Flynt ("California is the most progressive state in the union. I don't think anyone here will have a problem with a smut peddler as governor.") and a bunch of joke candidates with names similar to other people’s--a Bob Dole and a Michael Jackson, for example. Some of whom will have been put up to it by Davis, I predict.

One of the rules that got made up is that if the recall succeeds, voters get to choose a new governor. Since 1974 the state constitution has said this: "An election to determine whether to recall an officer and, if appropriate, to elect a successor shall be called by the Governor and held not less than 60 days nor more than 80 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures." What does appropriate mean? No one really knows. If it means that it’s appropriate when a recall succeeds, then it’s really poor writing. It could also mean when the office is not judicial (when, say, Rose Bird was recalled as chief justice, the voters didn’t get to vote in a replacement). Or it could mean when there is no other provision for succession. For governor, this is such provision: "The Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor when a vacancy occurs in the office of Governor." The 1974 initiative that included the “if appropriate” language was voted on without anyone ever talking about this.

The Bush admin sent someone all the way to Niger to tell them to shut up about Yellowcake-gate. Which means not to defend themselves against charges of complicity with Iraqi plans to acquire nuclear weapons.

BUT IS IT ART? From the Observer: “Using techniques of advanced plastic surgery, performance artist Stelarc, originally called Stelios Arcadiou, is to grow the ear in a biotech laboratory and have it grafted on to his forearm. Samples of Stelarc's cartilage and bone marrow will be taken and grown in a laboratory. The cartilage will be nurtured into the shape of an ear, similar to the technique used to grow ears on laboratory mice. The ear will then be surgically placed under a flap of skin on Stelarc's arm, where it will develop its own blood supply. Stelarc hopes to fit the ear with a sound chip and a proximity censor so that it can emit sounds or words when people approach. ... Last month a French artist cut off his own finger with an axe and donated it to a museum.”

The Pentagon is planning to avoid the problem of using airbases altogether by developing a bomber capable of traveling 10,000 miles in 2 hours, striking anywhere in the world from the US.

Oh, this can’t be real. In the tradition of “Heather Has Two Mommies,” here’s a book to prepare children to accept being abducted by aliens. Review here. It is real, there’s an Amazon.com listing.

http://www.acknowledgegodamerica.com/ is the site for people who want an amendment to the US Constitution saying that God exists (putting the amen in amendment, as the site that referred me to it put it).