Tuesday, September 30, 2003

A shortage of cement

The NYT has a story about how states are cutting back on the cost of prisons by feeding the prisoners less food. That way you can fit more in a cell, too.

David Corn has a column on McClelland’s evasions on Plame-gate, which unless someone comes up with a name that isn’t crap is how I’ll be referring to the leaking to Robert Novak of the name of the wife of Amb. Joseph Wilson. (Later: the Post has Leakgate. We can do better.) Corn says “Pity McClellan. He has a tough task--to depict the president as caring about the leak even though he is doing nothing about it.” The lefties trying to use Plame-gate to damage Bush, like Corn, have their own difficulties. I haven’t checked his other columns on this subject (Corn was on this one early and often--I cited him on this subject July 22--my, it took the mainstream media a long time to catch up), but this column seems to make a point of not using Valerie Plame’s name, I guess to prove that he’s more patriotic than Novak (Later: Jim Lehrer did the same thing today). Corn and the bloggers who are all over this also have to pretend that they care about the damage to the career of a CIA officer--oh dear, she won’t be able to secretly meet with moles inside the governments of nations we’re trying to overthrow--and consider violation of the 1982 law to be akin to treason. Funny, I was opposed to that law in 1982 and I’ll bet Corn was too. Here’s some really overblown rhetoric from TomPaine.com: “The facts of this story are singularly grotesque. Taken at the top layer, you have a White House that appears perfectly willing to go after the family members of its critics. Valerie Plame's career is destroyed, period. The act itself displays a level of viciousness that is dangerous to the functioning of this, or any, democracy.” Me oh my. Look, by all means go after the Bushies for their vindictiveness and sneakiness and hypocrisy, make McClellan squirm, bring up the Shrub quote about people who release agents’ names being lower than the lowest of the really pretty darn low, attack Ashcroft’s ability to conduct a fair investigation (he already gave the White House a day’s head start to destroy evidence before issuing an order not to), and let’s find out if Rove really was fired by Bush the Elder for sliming Mosbacher to Robert Novak in 1992, but let’s not be quite so hypocritical.

Krugman’s column today (Tues.) does something in discussing the cronyism behind the contracts to rebuild Iraq that no one else has done: since the Bushies are comparing this to the Marshall Plan, Krugman talks about the special efforts Truman took to make sure there was no post-war profiteering.

Something I missed: when Paul Bremer was asked in Congress why he was asking for $400m. to build a 4,000-bed prison, he said that there was a shortage of cement in Iraq and it needed to be imported. A shortage of cement. They could mine his head and get all the cement they need.

With my memories of the Reagan administration thankfully fading somewhat, it’s hard to compare whether Ed Meese was more godawful an attorney general than Ashcroft is, but his reaction today to a question about the Patriot Act may give a clue: “Librarians are more interested in pushing pornography on kids than fighting terrorism!”

Sydney Schanberg (ya know, Sam Waterston in The Killing Fields) has read Wesley Clark’s forthcoming book, which says some interesting things about how badly the Bushies screwed up in their wars on terrorism, Afghanistan, etc. Sam, I mean Sydney, asks the question: so why didn’t you mention any of this before, Wes?

Just saw an ad for McClintock. It cites a poll to show that he is gaining momentum and has a chance of winning. When you spend your hard-earned (well ok, Indian casino) money trying to prove your viability rather than your competence, not to convince people but to convince people that other people are convinced, you don’t deserve to win. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a campaign ad citing favorable polls before. And, as usual, there’s an Onion piece that relates to this point.

Of course Arianna’s withdrawal in favor of Gray Davis is worse, and sillier, and I could say more but at this point it feels like a waste of words to use them on her. And we know how she hates waste.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Is Bush clairvoyant?

The recall is now a foregone conclusion. There are tv commercials against the recall of “the governor” by “the Republicans,” because Davis doesn’t dare mention his own name and so that he can fight an archetypal Republican who would abolish abortion and repeal gun laws, rather than the only actual Republican who could win. If you can’t mention your own name in your own ads, if even you realize that you are despised by your own state, it’s time to resign. I still intend to vote against the recall, and it would still be wrong, I think, to vote for the recall, but if anyone wants to abstain, they have my permission. Voting no on the recall was always going to be a decision based on theory rather than practice--which I’m normally more than ok with--but voting to retain Davis no longer seems like a defense of the democratic process. “Vote for the really really unpopular guy in the name of democracy” doesn’t seem like such a viable slogan. Which is not to say that we shouldn’t change the rules to make recalls much harder to initiate, but I don’t know that an arbitrary calendrical cycle is really that much less capricious a grounds on which to schedule elections than getting 5% of the population to sign a petition.

As for candidates, you’re on your own. If I never tell you who I voted for, it probably means I voted for Thong Girl and am embarrassed to admit it, which will also mean I couldn’t bring myself to vote for the wishy-washy Camejo or the increasingly hollow Arianna, both of whom are suggesting that they might back out or ask their supporters vote for Bustamoney. Busty was always out of the running for me because he supports the death penalty, and the crap he’s pulled with illicit campaign spending (I saw one of those ads last night he was ordered a week ago not to spend laundered money on) hasn’t made him more attractive.

Of course I may change my mind after the Game Show Channel’s Who Wants to Be California Governor Wednesday.

Others have been having fun with the Census Dept’s list of names. In 2000, there were 11 children named Bentley, 5 Jaguars, and ironically, just 1 Xerox (although there were 24 Unique’s), and 49 Canons. Also, a Gouda and a Bologna, and they are not named after the places.

Indonesia is updating its criminal code, which is largely the same as when the Dutch left. For example, those Gouda-eaters (that only works as a segue if I’m right that Gouda is Dutch) (so I’m not going to look it up) somehow neglected to outlaw black magic, homosexuality and premarital sex.

A new $20 bill comes out next week. It’ll have peach and blue coloring. $33 million will be spent on PR for the bill, because we know how unpopular $20 bills are in this country. They will pay for product placement in movies and Jeopardy and such.

White House spokesdickhead McClellan says, three times no less, that he has “no specific information” about the source of the leak about Ambassador Wilson’s wife. And we all know about the high standards this administration puts on the information it uses to make decisions. Of course what he’s saying is that nothing will be done to find the felonious leakers, but hey if you guys want to violate your professional ethics, coming down to our level, and name them.... He also says that Bush knows that Rove didn’t do the leak, but refuses to say how Bush knows this, and if you read the transcript, refused in the face of a very long barrage of questions. If he didn’t ask Rove, then he is either clairvoyant (a reporter asked McClellan this), or he already knew who leaked. They’re stonewalling, of course, which actually worked nicely for them for the past 2 months, when this should have been on front pages but wasn’t. (Incidentally, if anyone knows what reporter asked the clairvoyant question, I’m curious).

Connecting the dots

The NY Times runs a fairly devastating article about the quality of intelligence supplied by Iraqi defectors, but fails to say exactly how that intelligence related to decision-making by the Bush administration, and arguments made by it. It says that the Defence Intelligence Agency concluded early this year that no more than 1/3 of the information was potentially useful, but we need a more specific date, obviously. Half way through the article even sorta kinda almost apologizes for the Times’s many many articles by the laughable Judith Miller that passed on this crap. Nor did the paper announce when it would change it’s slogan to All the News That’s No More Than One Third Potentially Useful.

The Monday WashPost has a bunch of stories about bad and misused intelligence.

The new Bushie phrase about intelligence, intended to immunize them when their sources and claims are discredited one by one, is that it is a matter of “connecting the dots.” Mary Matalin, now Cheney’s spokesmodel, used the phrase, so did Condi: "There were many, many dots about what was going on in the Iraqi programs after 1998." George Seurat or Jackson Pollack, you be the judge.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Methods so you don't have to be dependent on people's memories

I just read the transcript of Condi Rice’s interview on “Meet the Obsequious Press” this morning. She says “I would warn off jumping in to any conclusions about what David Kay’s report says” about Iraqi WMDs. Of course that was the report that was supposed to be released last week and wasn’t and will probably never be released, so don’t jump to any conclusions before then. She said that we should continue believing in WMDs because everyone’s always believed in WMDs, and that was the premise behind the UN policies and Clinton’s air strikes in 1998. No, Clinton’s air strikes in 1998 were about a certain blow job, just ask any of your right-wing friends. Russert asked how the claims about Nigerien yellow cake got back into the State of the Union address three months after the DCI had them removed from an earlier speech. “It’s not a matter of getting back in. It’s a matter, Tim, that three-plus months later, people didn’t remember that George Tenet had asked that it be taken out of the Cincinnati speech and then it was cleared by the agency. I didn’t remember. Steve Hadley didn’t remember. We are trying to put now in place methods so you don’t have to be dependent on people’s memories for something like that.” Gee, I thought the human race had already developed methods so we wouldn’t have to be dependent on memory. Ya know: writing, Lexis-Nexis, shit like that. It would explain a lot about the Bush admin operates: they haven’t developed written language yet.

Some day we’ll find out what the hell is going on behind the scenes. The CIA just asked the FBI to investigate the leaking to the press of the fact that Ambassador Wilson’s wife was in the CIA, a serious crime under the 1982 Anti-Phillip Agee Law, which had been pushed for very hard indeed by George Bush the Elder. What took them so long? Didn’t get a big enough bribe in the last budget? Or if it’s that DCI Tenet himself leaked the fact, then why is his agency doing this at all? Personally I’d love to see Karl Rove go to prison, or Condi Rice.

This is where the incestuous relationship between the press and government becomes so obnoxious. Rove, or whoever, shopped that story all over town, meaning that reporters and editors at at least 6 newspapers know who the leaker is, which probably means everyone in the Washington press corps knows, and they write stories containing speculation about things they know the truth about. Sometime when Bush the Elder was VP, the Post did a profile of Jennifer Fitzgerald, who worked for him and was rumored to be his mistress. This was the point of the story, since they wouldn’t have written a story about her otherwise, but they didn’t mention the rumor; they did say that she had “worked under Mr. Bush in a variety of positions.”

Yesterday I mentioned Putin’s strategy to push Chechnya out of sight and mind. Today, the acting quisling president of Chechnya is poisoned, though still alive as of this writing.

Newsweek story about Rummy’s regime change in Iraq. He ordered Jay Garner not to take with him 16 of the 20 State Dept officials he planned to, because they were too pro-Arab (no doubt they could speak Arabic, which almost no one else in the provisional government can). It says even doctors sent to restore medical services had to be anti-abortion.

Tony Blair tells David Frost that he would do absolutely nothing different about Iraq. The Labour Party annual conference this week will not be allowed to discuss the matter. “Don’t mention the war,” as every paper inevitably puts it.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

I want to make clear I said plucked

Joe Lieberman in the most recent debate: “In the Bush administration, the foxes are guarding the foxes, and the middle-class hens are getting plucked. I want to make clear I said plucked.” So the cultural conservative is the one who alluded to an obscenity in a presidential debate broadcast in the daytime.

The Arnold has run negative ads against McClintock, despite his promise to run a positive campaign. His excuse: it was a clerical error. Oh sure they filmed a negative ad, and oh sure they sent it to tv stations, but only as a “contingency”; they never ever meant them to air.

Spending in this oh-so-populist recall election has passed the $50 million mark.

The Pentagon clears soldiers of yet another massacre, that of the 8 Iraqi policemen, without an investigation.

In honor of Rosh Hashanah, Colin Powell gives us an example of chutzpah in the model of the one about the guy who asks for leniency for killing his parents because he’s an orphan: we can’t turn over the occupation of Iraq to the UN, why it’s even reducing its staff in Iraq because of the terrible security situation there.

And Sharon says he considers himself free of his promise to Bush not to harm Arafat.

I’ve talked often enough about brides in India being murdered in disputes over dowries. Here’s the other side: families of girls may not be able to afford a huge dowry, but they can afford to have some likely bachelor kidnapped and beaten until he agrees to the marriage.

Found this week: tapes of Colin Powell in February 2001 saying that Iraq had no WMDs; and Wesley Clark in March, I think, 2001, saying how wonderful the Bush cabinet was. I asked just when Clark became a D. I’ve thus far heard no date earlier than March of 2003.

Mussolini tried to get the pope to excommunicate Hitler in 1938.

The gov tries to hide the fact that 1-point-something million people have dropped below the poverty line, releasing the information late, on a Friday, and not at the Census Bureau’s central office.

In the biggest fuck-you to teachers since the last one, Florida’s teacher pension fund has just spent $174 million in buying up Edison, Chris Whittle’s company, and taking it private.

For months I’ve been seeing stories in British papers about how fat Brits are becoming. This week, they get their first Krispy Kreme store. Good luck, guys.

The US may have no exit strategy in Iraq, but Putin has one for Chechnya. First, pick someone to be elected president, one week from now. There were other candidates, but they were all bribed into dropping out and leaving the republic. Then, destroy refugee camps, forcing people back over the border. Seal off, then forget.

North Korea calls Rumsfeld a psychopath and a stupid man. Yes, and your point is? I mean, this is Rummy: he puts those things on his resumé.

The Sunday Times has a story about a 17-year old Iraqi who has killed his mother and her lover (her step-son) and oh yes his 4-year old sister in an “honor” killing (because he thought the father of the 4-year old was actually the step-son). He says, “Under Saddam I was too scared to take revenge. The biggest problem was trying to buy a gun off the streets. I was afraid of getting arrested before I could kill them. But since the Americans came, buying a gun is no problem. I found a Kalashnikov for $35 (£21) with a full magazine of 30 bullets.” Honor killings have gone way up since Saddam fell. The killer, who is very proud of himself, is expected to get maybe a year in prison, max. It was an honor killing, after all.

Pakistan is also being Talibanized. In the North West Frontier province, male doctors & technicians have been banned from carrying out ultrasound and EKG examinations of women. The province has precisely one female technician trained in the latter and precisely none for the former. The government is afraid that the medical men would receive sexual stimulation, and that women would “lure men under the pretext of ECG or ultrasound.” Also banned since the Islamists won in the October 2002 elections: kite-flying and public dancing.

I know this will come as a surprise to everyone, but the NYT says the government is using the Patriot Act for things that have nothing to do with terrorism.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Get them dying for their country so fewer Americans have to

The Times says that Britain and the US are considering introducing the death penalty in Iraq, including for attacks on oil pipelines. It’s actually the puppet council calling for it. In fact, the “human rights lawyer” on the council.

Just watched the goober debate. A lot of yelling and interrupting, especially whenever Arianna was speaking. I think Arnold obliquely threatened to drunk her head in a toilet bowl. (Later): Yeah, that’s how everyone else interpreted that line as well. And, being the candidate from Planet Hollywood, as Bustamoney’s new ads call him, he slipped in a product placement (for the Hummer, of course).

When I quoted candidate statements, I missed this one: Leonard Padilla, Independent, Sacramento: As a professional bounty hunter for over 28 years, I have had to make critical and unimaginable decisions while enforcing the laws of California.

Thanks to the wimpishness of one Texas legislator, the Texas Lege just redistricted and gave Tom DeLay several more Republican House seats.

Fablog has Bush’s UN speech interspersed with sarcastic comments. Fun, although not as good as it could be.

Uncle Sam wants you: Paul Wolfowitz says we’re “trying to, in fact, get more Iraqis on the front lines, get them dying for their country so fewer Americans have to.” I trust they’re not letting him write the recruiting material. And to think we bitched when Saddam used human shields.

The woman sentenced to death by stoning in Nigeria has won on appeal. Justice and enlightenment have returned to Nigeria. Well, for part of the day: another court sentenced a man to death for sodomy.

Bhutan will ban smoking everywhere by the end of the year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Merely speculative

The 9th Circuit decision is the most weasely thing I’ve seen since Bush v. Gore. They’re letting the election go ahead because it’s so late. Well whose fault is that? “The decision to enjoin an impending election is so serious that the Supreme Court has allowed elections to go forward even in the face of an undisputed constitutional violation...” “Enormous resources [have been] already invested” in the election, which outweighs whether it’s actually a fair election. You could go ahead with executing an innocent person on the same logic.

The court said that the possibility of the error-prone punch-card system changing the result of the election was “merely speculative.” Yes, because it hasn’t happened yet. That would be the definition of speculative, so it’s hard to see how they can use it as if it were a term of abuse. The opposite of speculative is “too late.” Using their logic, anyone charged with drunk driving who hadn’t actually run someone over could say that declaring that behaviour dangerous and illegal was merely speculative. So because it was so speculative, they decided not to bother thinking about whether having varying degrees of accuracy violated the 14th Amendment or the Voting Rights Act. They said “there is no doubt that the right to ‘vote’ is fundamental.” OK, they didn’t put those sarcastic quotes around vote, I did, but I’m pretty sure just voting isn’t the point; having that vote counted, accurately, and that count actually deciding something, that would be the point. Otherwise we could just write down our gubernatorial choices on toilet paper and flush it down the toilet in the privacy of our own homes, which would be more convenient and save all that over-time pay for poll workers.

Actually, I don’t care that much when the recall is held, but the stop and restart thing this near the end was a disservice to the voters. And I am enjoying the pander-fest coming from the Lege. For example, they just banned spam email (as of January). And allowed churros to be cooked in mobile food trucks.

You think I’m making that up, don’t you?

The R’s are really pissed off at Ted Kennedy for saying other countries are being bribed to send cannon fodder. The White House said the money is just standard foreign assistance. You say potato, Kennedy says potahto--with lots of butter and extra sour cream--let’s call the whole thing off. John Warner: “Stop to think of the reaction of a young wife surrounded by small children, not knowing from day to day whether her husband will survive another day's engagement in Afghanistan or Iraq. And they hear that this whole thing has been a fraud perpetrated upon this family and was made up in Texas. I find that very painful.” True, of course, but painful. Note that this is the same argument as the 9th Circuit panel used. Enormous resources have been invested, so shut up about whether it’s fair or not. Kennedy notes that Turkey, which we are asking for 10,000 troops, is to get $8.5 billion on top of $1 billion already paid. That’s $950,000 each. Steve Austin cost only six times that and he was bionic. When’s the last time Turkey won a war, anyway? 1453? And has anyone asked the Kurds if they want 10,000 Turkish troops?

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


I’ve just been reading the transcript of Bush’s interview on Fox. Now do you think it’s a psychological thing when he says how he never consults his father about anything, or have his handlers told him to distance himself from old One-Term Bush? And which of those puts Junior in the worse light?

His new word of the day: interlocutor. Although he doesn’t seem to know what it means.

He says the slogan of the D. presidential candidates is Vote For Me, I Don’t Like George Bush.

And then he says the thing about Ted Kennedy and uncivil people who use words they shouldn’t be using. Like interlocutor.

Says he never reads the paper or watches the news, and is paying no attention at all to the D. candidates and hasn’t watched any of the debates. Basically, all his news is filtered by people he considers “objective”, like Condi Rice and Andrew Card. Bush: “the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world.” He does enjoy living in that bubble.

Funnily enough, since writing that, I’ve received the American Historical Association’s newsletter, with a piece by the AHA president on Bush’s use of the term “revisionist historians,” which ends:
“The judgmental tone of Rice's derogatory reference to "revisionist historians" brings to mind a review of her book The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948–1983, in the December 1985 issue of the American Historical Review (p. 1236) when she was an assistant professor at Stanford. The reviewer claimed that Rice "frequently does not sift facts from propaganda and valid information from disinformation or misinformation." In addition, according to the reviewer, she "passes judgments and expresses opinions without adequate knowledge of the facts" and her "writing abounds with meaningless phrases."”
I just looked up that review, which is actually even more devastating than those quotes indicate, and suggest just how ignorant of her subject she was. I’m pretty sure its comments about Rice were not personal, since Rice is throughout referred to as “he”--you’ll notice the paragraph I quoted crops its quotes from the review so as to avoid pronouns, which I suppose is another example of revisionist history.


Yesterday I commented on the British papers (excluding the Times and the Telegraph) using the word “fuck.” The Guardian’s media reporter notes that the first British newspaper to use the word on its front page, 3 years ago, was of all things the Financial Times.

The Iraqi puppet government not only banned reporters from Al Jazeera and the other one I mentioned yesterday, but has banned any quoting of Baathists of any kind, including those Saddam tapes. The rules were drawn up in consultation with the Americans.

Russia has made a deal with Kyrgyzstan allowing it to establish a small military base there. The US also has a base in the country. Could be interesting.

Jamaica’s PM says that under his administration, “more people have electricity and telephones and more men have girls.”

Speaking of more men having girls, Bush’s speech to the UN today--universally considered a failure--ended with a long bit about sex slaves. And now for a change of pace, we’re invading Thailand.

Haven’t read the 9th Circuit decision on the recall yet, but the eleven were unanimous, which smells like a closed-door deal to me.

Monday, September 22, 2003

If Karl Rove had returned my phone calls

Lulu, the kangaroo’s name was Lulu. Story and picture (looks like any other kanga).

The LA Times has a story about The Arnold, noting that with his lack of experience, what he is touting is his autobiography, while at the same time saying that anything you don’t like about his autobiography--gang bangs, drug use, etc etc--he made up, because in Hollywood you make things up.

The Times also quotes the candidate statements, mostly the same quotes I sent out a couple of weeks ago. And gives the lyrics of the campaign song of Angelyne, "Angelyne — Y'all be Lovin' Her for Governor": "Angelyne, Angelyne, if you live in L.A. you know the scene/It's earthquakes, freeways and Angelyne. What a great governor she will be/With her miniskirts, makeup and anatomy."

One of the things I’ve taken to using to keep up with the recall has been the blog of Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub, who is pretty good, and often has good links, although he’s politically to my right (but who isn’t?). Thanks to some comments about Bustamante using his ethnicity to get where he is and about the use of ethnic identity by Latino legislators, his blog now goes through his editors first. An edited blog is of course no blog at all. The first thing not mentioned in his blog you would otherwise have expected to be mentioned in the blog? You guessed it, the fact that he is now operating under censorship.

Speaking of things about this election we aren’t being told, a court allowed Ward Connerly to keep the names of the contributors to Prop 54 secret until after the election. Because they’d be harassed, poor dears.

I just read the arguments on this one in the voter’s pamphlet. Did you know you could be charged with “racial fraud” if you claim to be the member of a race the government thinks you are not a member of? There’s an odd bit in the prop itself: “Otherwise lawful assignment of prisoners and undercover law enforcement officers shall be exempt from this section.”

There are many odd bills being floated right now in Calif. One that Connerly really won’t like will put a question about race on voter registration forms. Voluntary, of course. It just snuck into law. Would be nice to know, but that form is the wrong place to ask it. Another, giving Indian tribes veto over any property development within miles of their burial grounds and “sacred sites,” seems to have stalled.

Bush accuses Ted Kennedy of being uncivil and using words he shouldn’t be using in saying that Bush bribed other nations to send troops into Iraq. He doesn’t deny it. He can’t deny it.

John “Lost to a Dead Guy” Ashcroft is issuing an order that federal prosecutors not charge greater offenses in order to coerce a plea bargain. Which I would agree with. Except that Ashcroft means virtually to eliminate plea-bargaining, further reducing the authority of prosecutors, who are already under orders to push for the death penalty in many cases they don’t think it’s appropriate for, and to appeal any sentences that fall below the sentencing guidelines. And ensuring that no one plea-bargains, which would wreck the federal court system pretty quickly. Which is one of the problems with the current system of coercive plea bargains: the court system isn’t designed to give everyone their day in court; indeed, just 10% getting their day in court would be a disaster for the system. Another thing is that with an increasingly rigid sentencing process, which Ashcroft supports, the real bargaining at the federal level is about what charges will be filed, which is supposed to be about facts. Either a crime happened, or it didn’t, in the real world, but since they can’t bargain on sentence, they negotiate a charge practically out of thin air to achieve the same result, i.e., to get a result of a 5-year sentence, they negotiate a crime to be pleaded to that carries a 5-year sentence. So the system is based on dishonesty, with prosecutors initially charging crimes they know didn’t happen, and/or accepting pleas on the basis of crimes that didn’t happen.

Ashcroft says the move is to equalize justice across the US (just as he’s spreading the death penalty to states that don’t want it, and Puerto Rico). Of course he means equalize at the most draconian level possible.

Ashcroft is going to use the Patriot Act in the government’s 16-year old crusade to deport the L.A. 8.

Did you know that the Dewey Decimal System is copyrighted and libraries have to pay at least $500 a year to use it? Don’t know if my local public library gets a discount for the high number of books they mis-shelve.

The Army exonerates, yet again, an incident of soldiers killing journalists, the photographer outside the jail in Baghdad last month. They say the soldier acted within the rules of engagement. Since they won’t tell anyone what the rules of engagement are, people like the photog only find out they’ve run afoul of them as they see the hail of bullets coming towards them. I still have yet to see a side-by-side comparison of a camera and the RPG launcher the soldier allegedly mistook it for.

One of the things I love about British newspapers is that they can say “fuck.” And sometimes they have to, as when quoting Tony Blair’s disgraced former chief spinner Alastair Campbell saying that releasing the name of Dr. Kelly would fuck the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan, who, ironically, had reported that Downing Street had sexed up reports of Iraq’s weapons capability. It’s all beginning to sound like the Nixon tapes. Defense Minister Geoff Hoon says that the claim about Iraqi’s weapons being ready on 45-minutes’ notice did only mean battlefield weapons, and that the government had no obligation to correct the misapprehension that it meant missiles and bio weapons, although it did in fact correct that--after a full year. From the Indy:
Mr Caldecott asked if Mr Hoon felt people were "entitled to be given a true picture of the intelligence, not a vastly inflated one". The Defence Secretary replied: "That's a question you would have to put to journalists and the editors responsible."

Mr Caldecott asked: "Do you accept that you have an absolute duty to correct it?" Mr Hoon answered: "No, I do not."

The Iraqi “Governing Council” has ordered Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya reporters expelled. 14-2, it wasn’t even close. Paul Bremer could, of course, veto that decision. Any bets?

The Israeli army is signing up Russian immigrants who were snipers in Chechnya to perform a similar service against Palestinians. Russian sniper training is better than Israeli and Russians are considered better snipers than Israelis. More patience.

The presidential front-runner is now Wesley Clark, propelled to the top of polls, ahead of the 9 other D’s and Shrub, solely because of Michael Moore’s endorsement. Still, there’s this quote: “I would have been a Republican, if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls.” Which he says was a joke. Still, just when did he switch parties? cuz the stories haven’t actually said.

From The Guardian: “A drug created by the former KGB to keep its agents sober so that they could drink opponents under the table before stealing their secrets is being sold on the internet to Hollywood stars as a defence against hangovers.” So the Cold War was worth it, after all.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

What is it, Skippy? Bruce is in trouble?

Sometimes it's hard to find a subject line for these messages. Then there are days like this, when it acts like the Santa Cruz bus system and 3 good ones come at once. For those playing along at home, see if you can pick out the 2 I didn't use.

For sale cheap: Iraq’s economy. Not content with a supposedly temporary eclipsing of Iraq’s national sovereignty, the US has decided to sell control of almost all sectors of its economy to international corporations which place the highest bid with the Republican party, not exempting health, the water supply, electricity, pharmaceuticals. Ownership can be 100%, and all profits, interests and royalties can be taken out of the country. Business taxes will be capped (in other words, the Occupation Authority is making promises binding on Iraq after sovereignty is restored). Tariffs will be slashed to show that Iraq is a "country that embraces free trade." Iraqis will be forgiven if they don’t remember being asked if they wish to embrace free trade. Treasury Secretary John Snow says the tax breaks are necessary for companies to risk the lives of its employees by sending them into Iraq. “Capital is a coward,” he says.

Heart-warming story of the day: “A partially blind kangaroo was hailed a hero Monday after helping rescue a farmer who suffered serious head injuries when he was hit by a falling branch. The pet kangaroo banged on the door of the family's house in Morwell in Gippsland, southeast Australia, after discovering the farmer lying unconscious in a field”. The AP fails to give the kangaroo’s name, although it is believed that every kangaroo in Australia is named Skippy, just like every philosophy professor is named Bruce.

A book of Ronald Reagan’s letters are to be published this week. Among other things, we learn that he felt guilty about sex until he found out that Polynesians don’t, and that he didn’t think communists deserved free speech. Guess which one of those was in a letter to Hugh Hefner. Right, the second one.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Angle-Grinder Man to the rescue

US immigration turned back a gay, legally married Canadian couple who declared themselves a family on their Customs form.

I can remember when Thomas Friedman was sane and intelligent, and worth reading even when he was wrong. Now, none of that applies, except in as much as he’s worth reading to see what stupid thing he’ll say next. This week he admitted that the war he pushed so hard for in Iraq is a failure, and it’s all the fault of the French, who want us to fail. A good letter responded that it’s more like someone trying to take the car keys away from a drunk.

The Cal. secretary of state agrees with me that a postponed recall election means the process does start all over again. By the way, there are at least 9 certified write-in candidates as well as the 135 dwarfs. Don’t know who the 9 are yet.

In an election where casino money plays such a big role, it’s appropriate that the court challenge is such a crap shoot. First it was heard by a fairly liberal 3-member panel of the 9th Circuit, now it will be heard by an 11-member panel chosen randomly but accidentally the 11 most conservative members of the court. I could never figure what the point of the first panel was, since it was obviously going to be appealed upwards, and the second panel just seems more of the same.

The Cal. Lege votes for gay domestic partnerships, with inheritance, property, child support and other miscellaneous rights and obligations, not quite as good as Vermont but what the hell. Referring to a proposition against gay marriage passed 3½ years ago, one Republican legislator says, "This is a bill that looks at the people of California and says we don't care what you think.” Funny, your position looks at the people of California and says we don’t care what you think, only what sort of genitalia you have.

The US is pressuring the EU not to test chemicals for harmful medical effects.

Observer investigation of the Bush admin’s interference in research on global warming, in which they censored reports and recruited oil-company-funded lobby groups to attack their own scientists and indeed their own head of the EPA.

The Sunday Times says some Israeli Air Force pilots have been refusing to undertake missions that would kill civilians.

The paper also has an article--I’ll give the link, which may or may not work for you--about the CIA recruiting from Saddam’s secret police for their knowledge of Baathists, Iran, and Syria.

There’s also a lovely piece about the Bombay Police’s “Dirty Harry,” a cop who has killed--so far--87 suspects. None of the people he shot ever lived. He has been a cop 13 years. His bosses see no problem with this, and there are Bollywood movies about him.

Friday, September 19, 2003

The angry left

Evidently the new right-wing term of contempt for the left wing is “the angry left.

The British Labour Party loses its first by-election in 15 years, and a very safe Labour seat (Brent East) it used to be too before this 29% swing. A 29-year old female Liberal Democrat becomes the shockingly old youngest member of Parliament.

The Forbes 400 shows that the 400 richest Americans have increased their fortunes by 10% in the last year. The Bush tax cuts are working. And much of that is in stocks which are currently undervalued, so they’re even richer. The richest family on earth: the Waltons, collectively worth over $100 billion. WalMart gives its new employees information on how to collect food stamps.

A must-read, John Pilger on the state of Afghanistan, including the plight of women, now worse than under the Taliban. I can’t help but having noticed in the past few weeks how small the news stories on Afghanistan are, although US forces may be killing as many Afghans each week as they are Iraqis.

The Catholic church is suing other churches that call themselves “Catholic.” "These men dress as priests and conduct services that appear to be a Catholic Mass," said David Brown, attorney for the archdiocese. "You cannot simply set up in whatever church and call yourself Roman Catholic. That's fraud." This is massively silly, but the core of the church’s case is that they are real priests because God supports only the Catholic Church (TM). It’ll be interesting to watch them try to make their case in court without actually saying that.

Wesley Clark can’t make up his mind whether he would have voted for the Iraq war. What sort of leadership and decision-making skills do you have when you can’t even make a decision with the full benefit of hindsight, knowing how it came out, and it’s in the one field where you’re supposed to have experience?

A bit of a hissy

Berlusconi doesn’t just blame being drunk for his pro-Mussolini comments, he blames British reporters for getting him drunk. One of them, Boris Johnson, says that the only beverage taken was iced tea. Berlusconi turns out to be a remarkably cheap drunk.

Imperial Proconsul Paul Bremer blames Iran for attacks on US troops in Iraq, without mentioning the anti-Iran guerilla groups now offered refuge in Iraq.

Colin Powell & others have been saying that Iraqis are not “ready” to run their own country. As opposed to the Not Ready for Prime Time US Occupation, who once again proved their deep understanding of Iraqi culture by shooting up a wedding where guns were fired in celebration, killing a 14-year old. The Americans not the Iraqis, obviously; ours actually hit what they shoot at, because they typically use about 2,000 bullets.

Do you know the US military still hasn’t given any account of the killing of the 8 police in Fallujah last week?

I am about to use an Australian phrase which I just read and like. The phrase was used by a tv channel spokesman describing the reaction of some viewers to a talk show host breastfeeding her six-month old on-air, but I will apply it to GeeDubya who had “a bit of a hissy” about Yassir Arafat, who he described as a “failed leader”, causing 3 billion all across the world to mutter “well, he should know” simultaneously, their expelled breath causing Hurricane Isabel, according to well-known meteorological principles. You could look it up.

The major goober candidates who don’t speak with an Austrian accent (by the way, do the people who think he can pick up the basics of the job of governor quickly not experience any doubt when they hear the results of 35 years of learning English?) are also throwing a bit of a hissy, threatening to boycott next week’s debate unless the pre-released questions, which are already out and boring as shit, are dropped (Harry Shearer says negotiations on the debate broke down because Arnold wanted the answers in advance as well). The debate he missed yesterday was just across the street from where he went a couple of hours later to be “interviewed” by Larry King.

And what will the US Supreme Court make of all this?

John Ashcroft, during the great Patriot Act road tour of ‘03: “If your idea of a vacation is two weeks in a terrorist training camp" or "if you enjoy swapping recipes for chemical weapons from your 'Joy of Jihad' cookbook, you might be a target of the Patriot Act." Oh good, now he thinks he’s Jeff Foxworthy.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Vacations Of Mass Relaxation

Berlusconi apologizes to Jewish leaders for saying that Mussolini was benign. Note that it took him something like 6 days to do so. He had an excuse: he was drunk. So that’s all right then.

I’m not sure if Rummy and Bush actually went out of their way to say, finally, that Saddam Hussein was not connected to 9/11, or if reporters just got close enough to them to ask the question, but it’s been suggested that Cheney’s bullshit-fest Sunday was the last straw for the political media, which are increasingly tired of being lied through. (A thorough dissection of Cheney’s lies here. Well worth reading, even though none of you would have been taken in, to understand how blatantly the Bushies act as if we are all retarded.) Still, as every lefty blog points out, Bush made the case explicitly in his 3/18/03 letter to Congress certifying that he’d just tried his darndest, but war was now the only option: “(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”

Tuesday, Condi Rice said that Saddam was targeted because he posed a danger in "a region from which the 9/11 threat emerged".

Speaking of the region, Saudi Arabia is mulling over whether it wants nukes. To use against whom? No points for any reply that quotes a Tom Lehrer song.

Speaking of lefty blogs, the Democratic Party just started one, and it’s surprisingly good. They asked for slogans to promote Rumsfeld’s hilarious idea that Iraq should develop its tourism industry.

Colombian war lord, I mean president, Uribe, last mentioned here 2 days ago for his planned amnesty for death squads, today implemented an amnesty for the world’s biggest death squad, signing one of those agreements exempting Americans from extradition to the UN international war crimes court. Oh the irony.

Ashcroft says he’s never used the provision of the Patriot Act allowing access to library and bookstore records. Of course we can legally have only his word for it, because it’s against the Patriot Act for anybody to say differently. The first rule of Patriot Act: you do not talk about Patriot Act. Well, if it’s not being used, he won’t mind it being rescinded, now will he?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

More surprises than you can possibly imagine

Quotes you cannot make up: Issa says the 9th Circuit decision to postpone the recall he paid for is a "judicial hijacking of the electoral process." Also, a lawyer for a pro-recall group protests that “The voters deserve finality.” (Possibly he means that rather than face another 6 months, we deserve to be put out of our misery.) Also something I missed, the Republican federal judge whose decision the 9th overturned said the recall election “reflects the will of the people.”

Some tiny technical problems with postponing: first, some people have already voted absentee, and those ballots would have to be destroyed, second, the new voting machines won’t actually be able to handle primaries plus initiatives plus a 135-candidate goober race.

Also, no one’s said anything yet, but I have to think a new deadline means that new candidates should be allowed to qualify. (I asked the Sacramento Bee’s political columnist, but no reply yet).

I don’t have any particular opinion about the 9th Circuit panel’s decision’s legal basis, which puts me at odds with an LA Times writer’s observation that most of the commentary on the decision was unexamined gut reaction; “Hence our edification at rulings that reinforce our beliefs and our impatience with contradiction. Call it faith-based irritation.”

I suspect you could use the argument about not using vote-counting devices which have widely differing rates of accuracy to invalidate every previous state-wide race, including Gray Davis’s election in 1998 and re-election in 2002. But the state had signed a consent agreement not to use punch-cards again, which should be enforced. Looked at pragmatically, though, the truncated campaign was a travesty, another 6 months of this nonsense would be ridiculous, shifting gears in the middle is unfair to candidates who planned their campaigns and spending based on the election being when it was called for, so this could be a combination of the worst of all worlds. Or the best. Davis and the Lege have pushed through some good legislation and I wouldn’t mind some more of that.

Davis, with his usual ability to find the inapt metaphor, said “This recall has been like a rollercoaster; there are more surprises than you can possibly imagine.” (Inapt because a rollercoaster at Disneyland designed to simulate a runaway train went off the rails a week ago, killing somebody).

The Senate voted to force more people on welfare into work and for more hours, but voted down helping them with childcare. Rick Santorum’s comment on that: “Making people struggle a little bit is not necessarily the worst thing.” Cool, someone toss that man into some quicksand. There was, of course, $1.5b the R’s are willing to use from the welfare budget to promote marriage.

The Canadians, as previously reported, have started selling cannabis for medical use. The first customers want their money back. Evidently the phrase “good enough for government work” doesn’t apply to reefer. Oh, and I promised a link to the governmental user’s guide. Here it is. Evidently, it can be prescribed for the cause of tremor I don’t have, but not the one I do. Chris, on the other hand.... Actually, ignore that link, here’s the one for the general public (PDF format, 2 pages).

The Senate votes to overturn Michael Powell’s media monopoly rules. Shockingly, the NYT says that this is only the second time the Senate has vetoed rules issued by a regulator. Do they know the meaning of oversight? House Republican leaders will refuse a vote, Bush is threatening a veto. And Powell said that the Senate resolution was “bordering on the absurd.” That sort of contempt by a lowly FCC head for the United States Senate should be grounds for a serious dressing down, if not dismissal. Who does he think he is, Rumsfeld talking about Powell’s father?

Terrible NYT headline: “US Uses Its Veto to Block Anti-Israel Measure in UN.” Let’s see, it called for an end to all violence and terrorism, supported the US’s “road map”, and asked Israel not to assassinate or exile Yassir Arafat. Where is it “anti-Israel” except in Israel’s mind? The US exercised its veto because the resolution did not include a condemnation of litterbugs. The US really doesn’t like litterbugs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Burritos AND blow jobs

Clinton came to California to help Gray Davis out, and practically convinced me to vote for the recall by arguing for the most anemic form of democracy possible, an elective dictatorship punctuated every few years by elections: “You hire somebody in an election and you say, ‘Here’s your employment contract. Through good times and bad we are giving you a contract for four years. And then in four years we will make a judgment about what you have done…’” That’s not only the crappiest civics lesson ever, but coming from the king of the focus group and the eternal election campaign, it’s all a bit rich.

He makes the case that if this recall goes through, no politician will ever make a tough choice again. Again, this is Clinton speaking, the man whose idea of a tough choice was between a burrito and a blow job, but his conception of politics is that first you make yourself popular to win an election and then you make unpopular decisions. By implication, he’s saying that the true business of government, the most important decisions, are not made by any democratic process, but in spite of it. That if a choice is tough, it can’t be made democratically. One of two things has to happen under this theory: either a candidate lies and/or evades during the campaign, so that what you get isn’t what you voted for, or you elect someone based on their character and then sit back passively, trusting their judgment will always be correct. Neither one, Edmund Burke to the contrary, is democracy, and as I’m sure you’ve noticed that both describe the modus operandi of George W. Bush.

You can hardly say that politicians were elected to make hard choices, when none of them were elected on a platform of hard choices. It’s all tax cuts plus increased spending and endless wars, burritos and blow jobs. By now you must all be thinking that the American people would never elect a politician who spoke honestly. Possibly, but it’s a chicken and egg thing: did weak-minded voters create pandering politicians, or did the politicians condition voters to respond only to promises of sunshine and puppy dogs? In the end it doesn’t matter. Tough choices are just that, choices, which are tough because they are about making people’s lives harder; exactly the kinds of choices that require democratic input and public discussion.

Here endeth the sermon.

Uh, can I still vote for Thong Girl after that?

(Later): or indeed anyone. Yes, the 9th Circuit issued an order postponing the recall election, unless it is overturned by the US Supreme Court, but I can’t see the US Supreme Court violating the principle that every vote be counted equally and allowing faulty... oh, you know where I’m going with this. Actually, the 9th Circuit claims to have based its decision on the Supremes’ Bush v. Gore travesty, but you know they were snickering as they wrote that, although McClintock, Issa and others are attacking the decision as political in words identical to those of D’s in 2000. Anyway, if the vote gets pushed to March, at the same time as the D primaries, look for the R’s to do something to get their rabid supporters out there like, say, pushing an initiative to repeal driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. The Arnold may have lost this issue, since he seems to have violated his original visa requirements by working illegally here. Actually, a delay to March would definitely kill his candidacy, since he couldn’t possibly avoid taking positions on anything for that long. Well, maybe he could, I dunno, but it would be fun to watch him try.

The Post has a story about the decline and fall of efforts to modernize voting systems. It’s the sort of story that could have been written two years ago and the numbers filled in later, it was that obvious. Congress appropriated 60% of the money it should have (declining to 50% next fy), and none of it has been spent, because state plans have to be approved by a commission that Bush hasn’t bothered setting up. The Post talks very briefly at the end about the fact that the shiny new touch-screen systems states love so much may not actually work or be secure; there was a piece on McNeil-Lehrer today. Still, as the lawyer for one Cal. recall leader says, if punch cards were good enough to elect President Bush... All this would go away if we went back to paper and pencil, like god intended.

The US and EU so contrived the failure of the WTO trade talks so that it was the poor nations that walked out. And all the US wanted in return for not destroying Third World agricultural economies with subsidies, was to be allowed to take over completely every part of the economies of those countries that involved any implement more sophisticated than a hoe. Basically, multinationals could force countries to remove any laws that prevented them making money, including environmental, workplace safety, you name it. And the US rep then made some snotty comment about “can do” people versus “can’t do.”

Speaking of snotty comments, Colin Powell about the French on Iraq: “We were right, they were wrong, and I am here.” Remind yourself of this the next time you feel a need to think of the French as arrogant and obnoxious.

In the continuing Third Worldization of Italy, Berlusconi intends to have an amnesty for illegally built buildings, of which there are many. Forget the lack of planning permission or safety standards, just pay the government a fine. The motive for this, as government officials admit readily, is purely to raise revenue for the state.

A much more evil version of that is offered by the evil president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, who wants to give his buddies in the death squads absolute immunity for assassinations and atrocities in exchange for fines. The NYT says the US helped draft this piece of sliminess. Oh, and drug traffickers are buying membership in the death squads to get access to this immunity.

The British National Health Service is fading fast. Waiting lists and lack of specialists mean that surgery is 4-7 times as fatal as in the US. And here’s a story: a man on vacation in Spain gets a call that his mother in Derbyshire, 86, is going into the hospital with pneumonia. She called an ambulance, he went to the airport in another country, guess who got to the hospital first. She had a stroke the next day and died.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

May the winds of freedom blow sand in your couscous

The kroner lives. Woo hoo.

Well who, except everyone, could have predicted this: “IRAQI policemen declared themselves holy warriors yesterday and vowed to take revenge for the deaths of their comrades in the town where ten police and a security guard were killed on Friday in the worst “friendly fire” incident of the Iraq conflict.” Inhabitants of Fallujah think this was a deliberate ambush to allow the American troops back into charge in the town they had to pull out of after killing protesters. Without any irony at all, Colin Powell, visiting Iraq, said that terrorists might try and sabotage the progress towards self-rule--by doing what, killing Iraqi police?--and that “the winds of freedom are blowing” across Iraq. Robert Fisk: “WE HAD to walk through a quarter of a mile of barbed wire to reach Colin Powell, the American Secretary of State, last night. We had to pass through four checkpoints, including three body searches. Apache helicopters circled the conference centre and Bradley fighting vehicles sat in the darkness outside.” Powell never left the protection of the barbed wire, and the air conditioning that ordinary Iraqis don’t have; they have to content themselves with being cooled by the winds of freedom.

Fisk has a good phrase: “the Coalition of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.”

He also points out that there is no proof at all, much less any proof offered by the US government, that Al Qaida or other foreigner fighters are streaming into the country.

Iran is threatening to walk out of the IAEA, which just ordered it to prove by October that its nuclear program is non-military. What isn’t clear, at least to me, is whether the IAEA actually has the authority to do that. I believe Iran has been complying with all the procedures required by the ordinary rules & regs of the IAEA.

Santa Cruz city council has asked Congress to consider impeaching Bush for the Iraq war. The LA Times has an aw-what-a-cute-little-leftie-town article.

Dick Cheney on one of the Sunday talk shows played up the (non-existent) Iraq/Al Qaida, Iraq/9-11 connection, including the long discredited Mohammed Ata meeting in Prague.

That the Israeli might kill rather than exile Arafat is confirmed by the deputy prime minister.

It has been 20 years since the escape of 38 IRA prisoners from a prison van. A dinner and dance will be held to celebrate the anniversary, at the Holiday Inn in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. Plan your vacations accordingly.

If the Scottish Parliament buildings are ever completed, at a very un-Scottish ten times over budget, their elevators may have a recorded voice warning, say, that “doorsh are closhing,” in the voice of Sean Connery.

L. Jean Lewis was a right-wing Republican who the 1st Bush admin gave a job she was totally unqualified for, in the RTC. She had once considered marketing anti-Bill Clinton t-shirts (after a little research, I see a couple of versions of this story, one is that it was after Clinton was elected, and it was anti-Hillary “Presidential Bitch” t-shirts and mugs, marketed from her government office. A good Salon article on her from 1998 says Ken Starr took over the investigation of her for that, and disappeared it). In 1992, 2 months before the elections, she filed a criminal referral relating to Morgan Guaranty Trust, and made sure to name the Clintons, their friends, and campaign contributors, and then repeatedly called the FBI to force them to publicize this before the election, which she later denied doing to the Senate Whitewater committees, along with illegally tape-recording an RTC lawyer and calling Clinton a “lying bastard” in e-mails (she then fainted and was never called back). Her legal fees were paid for by the same ultra-right-wing group that financed Paula Jones. Right after the 2000 elections, she compared Jesse Jackson to a malignant cancer cell and said his talk about civil rights violations in the Florida election was “bordering on sedition.” Anyway, this incompetent partisan perjurer started the whole Whitewater/Starr Report/Impeachment ball rolling. And has just been made chief of the Pentagon’s inspector general office. You will hear more about this.

News.google.com has a new feature: news alerts, whereby they send you email when your search term shows up in a news story.

The Arnold is endorsed by a firefighter’s union. He says “In my movie, 'Collateral Damage,' I was a firefighter, and that's when I realized how tough a job it is.” You weren’t a firefighter, you played a firefighter. Moron.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Driving while Iraqi

NYT story opening paragraph: “When President Bush informed the nation last Sunday night that remaining in Iraq next year will cost another $87 billion, many of those who will actually pay that bill were unable to watch. They had already been put to bed by their parents.”

Also, a piece by Paul Krugman on how the agenda of tax-cutters is actually a crusade to drastically down-size government. Which you may think you already know, but this is a lucid exposition of the argument that while long, is a must-read. You do read everything I designate a must-read, don’t you? Because there will be a quiz.

The Iraq Survey Group, the 1,400 scientists, intelligence and military experts scouring Iraq for WMDs, were supposed to issue a progress report Monday. Having made no progress, they’ve decided to issue their report on Iraq’s WMDs, uh, well, never.

It took a day and a half, but the US finally admits to killing 10 (not 8) Iraqi cops. Oh, and says it’s darned sorry. The cover-up continues, of course. The NYT: “A military spokesman said that American forces had no further information about the incident, including whether American forces had any reason to know that the vehicle belonged to Iraqi police officers.” Like the fact that it was marked as such? They’re also still saying that they were fired on, but no non-American shell casings have been found and no Americans were injured in the 45-60 minute “firefight.” I just thought up a phrase no one has used for these incidents yet. Ready? “Driving while Iraqi.”

Just googled that. A couple of people have used it including, oh dear, the Revolutionary Worker.

The governor of Phnom Penh wants Cambodians to eat stray dogs. “Come on, dog meat is so delicious.”

The Observer says that 6,000 American soldiers have been evacuated from Iraq for medical reasons, 1,500 of them wounded, since the start of the war. Given the body armor they wear, expect most of the wounded to be maimed. Every day, transport plans arrive at Andrews Air Force Base to be met by a fleet of ambulances (I just had a flash of the MASH opening credits).

Novelist Julian Barnes (feel free to substitute American for Englishman): “If I were God and I were trying to create a nation that would get up the nostril of the Englishman, I would create the French.”

Bill Maher, quoted by Frank Rich in the NYT about The Arnold: "If his father wasn't a Nazi, he wouldn't have any credibility with conservatives at all."

Israeli compromises? Is that supposed to be an oxymoron?

Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, the day after Israel threatened to assassinate Arafat or exile him without due legal process, said that the US could learn from the “compromises” struck by Israeli courts between fighting terrorism and human rights. For example, he said, suspects who might pass on information through their lawyers could be given a list of government-approved lawyers. And then Breyer realized that after his comments he was too morally compromised to serve on the Supreme Court anymore and resigned. Just kidding.

A news.google.com search shows that no American news source picked up this story, although Breyer spoke at Columbia U.

The American media still haven’t come to grips with the deliberate ambiguity about the Israeli cabinet decision’s studied ambiguity about whether they mean killing or exile. You’ll note that American officials’ strongest words of condemnation for the idea was that it was not helpful (helpful to what, they didn’t say, since the “road map” is obviously dead, or if I don’t want to mix metaphors I should say the road map has been vomited on by a car-sick 5-year old), or that it would just give Arafat a “wider stage.” None of them said that assassination would be, I dunno, wrong, immoral, barbaric...

The Jerusalem Post came out for assassination. So did several members of the Israeli cabinet.

I hesitate to link to this piece on “20 things we still don’t know about 9/11”, because some of them are close to being urban legends, but it does give reminders about some real issues, some of which I’ve raised in the past 2 years, like why the jets that were belatedly sent to intercept the plane heading towards the Pentagon were going nowhere near their top speed. Since we rarely go back to the actual events of the day, much of what we think we know is itself urban myth, like that the hijackers were all armed with only boxcutters, or why the Penn. plane crashed.

American soldiers, winning hearts and minds... well, maybe not winning minds, but here’s the first sentence of a Fisk story: “A HUMAN brain lay beside the highway. It was scattered in the sand, blasted from its owner's head when the Americans ambushed their own Iraqi policemen.” The Americans took away the bodies (leaving the brain and some dentures) and then claimed to have no information about the 10 cops (the Times says 8) they’d killed, firing literally thousands of bullets over 45 minutes. The survivors of the first attack ran into a hospital, so that was blown to shit as well, although to be fair, that may have been Jordanians firing at the Americans (did you know there were Jordanian soldiers in Iraq?) Fisk, as is his wont, found some of the information the Americans claim not to have by telling us the serial numbers on the casings for grenades. He tried to get into the hospital, but “To enter hospitals here now, you must obtain permission from the occupation authorities in Baghdad - which is rarely, if ever, forthcoming. No-one wants journalists prowling round dismal mortuaries in "liberated" Iraq. Who knows what they might find?”

This will either mean something to you or not: the Tory party have selected an Asian woman to contest the seat that used to be held by Enoch Powell.

Bush tells the UN Security Council nations with vetoes: "no free nation can be neutral in the fight between civilisation and chaos". So they’re free nations, but not free to disagree with the US in any way. Powell says the UN is “not ready” to take over from the US in Iraq. He says the French proposal is in effect that “we stop everything we're doing”. I’d refer him to the 10 dead Iraqi police.

Evidently Italians really like blasphemous porn. No, I’m not surprised either. Anyway, turns out one, Il Confessionale, was shot five years ago in an actual 13th-century church (the priest left the keys with a restaurant owner across the street and...). So they’re thinking about reconsecrating it, and debating whether the marriages conducted since then are valid (they are).

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Please vote for me, thus breaking the Seventh Seal and incurring Armageddon

I don’t have to tell you how stupid Israel’s decision to expel Arafat, or threaten to do so, is, but the decision to do this on 9/11 is simply not the act of a friend of the US.

Oh christ on a stick. They didn’t vote to expel him, as the BBC and everyone else said, they voted to “remove” him. So that’s expel *or* assassinate (according to Haaretz).

Of course Bush’s idea of the way to celebrate is to demand new powers to cut out the check and balance provided by the judicial branch in issuing subpoenas, and to expand the death penalty and denial of bail.

The LA Weekly has a story on how radio stations have already called the recall race. Also, Viacom’s Infinity Broadcasting, which owns 36 stations, refuses to take ads (and that includes news stations like KNX). Clear Channel (71) requires a buy of at least 20 stations. Between them, those 2 companies have 1/3 of listeners in SF.

Schwarzenegger says it’s ok that he broke his promise not to take campaign contributions because he won’t be swayed by them because he is “strong willed.” There’s a good campaign slogan: triumph of the will.

You’d think the polls that 69% of Americans think Saddam had something to do with 9/11 would cause news organizations, if not god forbid to present the facts to debunk that view, at least to be careful about not blurring the line themselves. Newsweek’s cover this week says “433 Americans Have Died in the War on Terror,” and yes that includes those in Iraq.

Berlusconi defends Mussolini as “benign.” And unlike Saddam, he "never murdered anyone, he sent people on holiday into internal exile".

Disneyland Paris is to have its first gay day. The mind boggles.

I’ve been reading candidate statements in the voter’s guide, and don’t think that wasn’t harder to find that it should have been). The most fun candidates don’t have statements, but here are some quotes. My comments will be in caps.

Alex-St. James (R)
“Once an Aspirant Catholic Priest, I support life from conception to the grave and the right to bear arms.” OH YEAH, THAT’S A REPUBLICAN.



Larry Flynt claims to have “strong leadership and sophisticated business sense,” THE FIRST TIME THE WORD SOPHISTICATED HAS EVERY APPEARED IN A SENTENCE WITH HIS NAME.

Rich Gosse (R) is running on a fairness for singles platform.

Trek Thunder Kelly, WHO I’VE MENTIONED, THE PERFORMANCE ARTIST WHO WEARS ALL BLUE, BEGIN THUSLY: Dear Voters, Please vote for me, thus breaking the Seventh Seal and incurring Armageddon. I will legalize drugs, gambling, and prostitution so they may be taxed and regulated...


Leonard Padilla (Ind.) BEGINS “California's budget cannot be balanced on the backs of its students.” SURE IT CAN. YOU JUST HAVEN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION IF YOU THINK IT CAN’T, AND WON’T.

Ronald Jason Palmieri (D), WHO IS GAY, AND QUOTES BILL MAHER IN HIS STATEMENT, SAYS “I am not looking for your vote. I want to convince you to vote intelligently and not waste your vote on those, such as me, who will never be elected. I urge you to vote for one who will foster the American dream that allowed me to be on this ballot.” WASTE MY VOTE? I DON’T THINK I’LL TAKE ADVICE ON WASTAGE FROM THE GUY WHO SPENT $10 A WORD TO TELL PEOPLE NOT TO VOTE FOR HIMSELF.

Bill Prady (D): You know the wonderful world that exists in television comedies—a world where, no matter what problems arise or conflicts exist, people work together to overcome any obstacle and, maybe, learn a little something? Wouldn't you like California to be a place like that? It can be if you elect Bill Prady to be the next governor of our great state. Bill Prady is an award- winning television comedy writer and producer who will bring the skills he's learned creating sitcom episodes to Sacramento. If elected, he pledges to solve all the state's problems in twenty-two minutes and forty-four seconds with two commercial breaks and a hug at the end. After all this turmoil, isn't this just what California needs?

Kevin Richter (R), quoted in full: “I breathe.”

Kurt E. "Tachikaze" Rightmyer (Ind, the sumo guy) explains that Tachikaze means “wind from a sword stroke.” “I will attack the 800-lb. gorilla of big government from every angle.” AND SOME OF THOSE ANGLES ARE PRETTY DISGUSTING.

Sharon Rushford (Ind). In 1998 my husband had his leg amputated by the state's largest HMO instead of being tested and given medication for his condition. THANK YOU FOR SHARING.

B.E. Smith (Ind). I spent two years in federal prison because I grew medical marijuana for myself and others under the Compassionate Use Act passed by the citizens of California. THANK YOU FOR SHARING. UM, YOU DID BRING ENOUGH TO SHARE WITH THE WHOLE CLASS, DIDN’T YOU?

Diane Beall Templin (American Ind.) May the Lord give you the wisdom of Solomon as you vote. I pray that the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God will guide me in all decisions, especially in selecting the best and brightest trusted servants to resolve the budget crisis and heal our land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Lingel H. Winters (D) is running as “a career citizen, not as a career politician.” DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD MAKE A CAREER OF BEING A CITIZEN. OH, HE’S A LAWYER. YOU CALL THAT BEING A CAREER CITIZEN?

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

A rocky road to recovery

Article on how campaign finance reform leg. will just make things more complicated and less regulated, surprise surprise, and the role of Alabama in all this.

Bush’s claim that a UN report in 1998 said that Iraq was 6 months away from having nukes was a lie. So was the talk about new buildings. The Christian Science Monitor reminds us that in 1990 the US claimed that there were 250,000 Iraqi troops on the Saudi border, poised to invade, when commercial satellite photos showed that there were in fact, zero troops there (the alleged Pentagon photos proving the build-up are still classified). The man in charge of that disinformation campaign: Dick Cheney. The Monitor story also recalls the old State Dept. Office of Public Diplomacy, which leaked false stories about the Soviets giving Nicaragua chemical weapons, and the classic story of Iraqi troops tearing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators.

On the issue of GM food, both Zimbabwe and Zambia have caved, starved into compromising principles. I forget, why does the world hate us?

Tom Ridge has raised the Color of the Day to orange, so don’t forget to get plenty of vitamin C.

Buzz Aldrin, asked by someone to swear on a Bible that he’d really been to the moon, punches him in the face. To be fair, that’s pretty much the way the US government reacts when asked to prove stuff about Iraq.

The Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide.

A good political cartoon I haven’t seen before:

Seems that Jeb Bush’s choice to head Florida’s child welfare services, the one who claimed he didn’t believe the views in a report he’d signed, as I previously reported, has in fact written many things saying that working women are evil, homosexuality is evil, sex ed is evil, that women-headed households are evil because their children all become gay, and therefore evil. He believes welfare should discriminate between legitimate and illegitimate children.

The Jebster’s response: "I am no longer amazed at the anti-Christian feelings in the press."

And to pick on Jeb some more, his daughter just got caught with drugs again. She was at a rehab center, which actually tried to make the police go away and forget about it (she was snitched on by a fellow patient). Staff refused to cooperate by providing statements. Jeb refused to comment, saying that “the road to recovery is a rocky one”. Yes, she was caught with a rock of crack cocaine.

I didn’t properly understand the thing about Israel keeping Gaza MPs away from the Palestinian Legislative Council. It is in fact doing so *selectively*.

Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary groups have promised to give up drug trafficking and massacring people. So that’s ok then.

Stupid criminal trick of the week: Police arrested a 47-year-old would-be robber who told a post office cashier in Halmstad, Sweden, to pay £25 million into his account, the number of which he wrote down.

Another article on Bush’s odd speech patternizationisms.

A piece in the Times on the chances for a UN Security Council resolution on Iraq gives this run-down of the current members. As you read it, see if you don’t conclude that the whole idea and power of the Security Council is ridiculous:

Permanent members:

United States: Main proponent of the need for military force
United Kingdom: Likely to sponsor an Iraq resolution
France: President Chirac proposes a two-step approach, with a first resolution giving Iraq a three- week deadline to readmit inspectors, to be followed by a second resolution, if necessary, authorising military force
Russia: The single most important vote. The United States and Britain must persuade Russia, a firm opponent of military action, not to use its veto to block a resolution
China: Considered likely to abstain because it rarely makes use of its veto power on issues that do not directly involve its national interests. President Bush meets President Jiang Zemin in Texas next month before the latter leaves office and the Chinese may not want to jeopardise that meeting

Non-permanent members:
Bulgaria: A European Union candidate nation that tends to vote with other EU nations
Cameroon: A poor, non-aligned African nation that has succumbed before to US pressure
Colombia: The beneficiary of a large US aid programme, with a newly elected right-wing President, is considered likely to vote with the United States
Guinea: Another African nation that may win promises of US aid in exchange for its vote
Ireland: A traditionally pro-UN nation that is expected to support a UN approach agreed by the five permanent members
Mauritius: An African nation vulnerable to pressure from the United States
Mexico: Likely to back the United States on such a high-stakes vote because of President Fox’s personal friendship with President Bush
Norway: Also likely to vote for a UN approach agreed by the large powers
Singapore: Likely to vote with the majority
Syria: Almost certain to oppose a resolution that could allow US military action, because of Arab solidarity

Forgetting how we felt

Ashcroft, taking his Patriot Act roadshow to NY, says that critics of the Act “have forgotten how we felt” on 9/11. Yeah, try to be scared shitless again, you were so much more docile when you were scared shitless.

Missed the D. presidential debate, since I sort of watched one of those last week. That one’s focus was Hispanics, this one was blacks. Naturally, Lieberman tried to appeal to his homies by attacking Dean for being insufficiently pro-Israel. Which still has to be better than his attempt at Spanish last week. Dean denied that his comment about not choosing sides between Israel and Palestine meant reducing support for Israel in any way. Dean may complain about Kerry et al giving a blank check to Bush, but in the end Israel will always get its blank check.

Al Sharpton, addressing the D Party, said "We help take you to the dance and you leave with right-wingers. In 2004, if we take you to the party, you go home with us or we don't take you to the party." Yeah, but if they try to go home with Sharpton, they’ll never be able to get a taxi to stop for them. Also, he’d get whatever that is he uses in his hair all over the pillow.

Also missed this week’s Cal. goober debate because really enough already. Everyone attacked Davis for the joke about Ahh-nuld not being able to pronounce California. Oddly enough, that pissed off Arianna. And Peter Camejo, who said, "Implied in that is a racist comment — 'It is only we, the Europeans who are here who have established the language, we are the only legitimate people here.'” Europeans? Ahhh-nuld is a European, that was the whole point.

The state senate also jumped in, actually voting that Davis should apologize. That’s just silly. No one even offered an amendment that Bush should stop saying nookyular.

The FCC has allowed the Howard Stern show to have Ahhhh-nuld on without having to give equal time to what the LA Times stupidly calls the 135 other candidates. Stern and Ahhhhh-nuld should have a lot to talk about.

A piece in the Columbia Journalism Review asks why Bush gets away with being such a big liar. It gets half-way to an answer, which is that journalistic pretenses and conventions of objectivity have led them to treat factual issues like they treat opinions of policy, presenting opposing viewpoints and not questioning the veracity of what is presented as factual.

Rummy on McNeil-Lehrer today, in full-tilt folksy mode. Evidently the reason for having a relatively small number of troops in Iraq is that the Soviet Union had a large number of troops in Afghanistan and lost. Yeah, the logic escapes me too.

I mentioned yesterday Cal. driver’s licenses being given to illegal whositses. 38 R members of the legislature have asked Ashcroft to make Cal. driver’s licenses invalid as a form of identification for, say, getting on an airplane. The letter from the legislators falsely states that driver’s licenses would be issued with no proof of identity, when a birth certificate and some other form of id are in fact required.

Standing next to Dan Quayle today as his bust was unveiled, GeeDubya said that history will be kind to Quayle. Yeah, standing next to Shrub, he doesn’t look quite so stupid, does he? The bust was carved out of solid white marble, just like Quayle’s own head.

The Bush Admin files a brief in a Supreme Court, trying to force states to use scholarship money to train people for the priesthood.

China issues new rules banning police from using torture, threats or deception to extract confessions. They will also theoretically not be able to arrest, fine and “re-educate” vagrants, prostitutes, and illegal migrants (which I take to be Chinese without permission to move between regions, not foreigners) without any legal procedure.

From the Daily Telegraph: “An Austrian man seen playing the flute with both hands as he drove at 80mph on a German autobahn faces a £35 fine. He told police in Traunstein that he had not been blowing, only practising.”

Rummy says he won’t bother with even the kangarooish trials for Guantanamo detainees, he’ll just keep them around forever, or until sweetness and lightness prevail in all the nations of the earth forever and ever amen.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

A toy and everything

Evidently The Arnold went AWOL from the Austrian army to compete in a bodybuilding competition. Don’t know whether to compare that with Shrub, or with Adolf Hitler, another Austrian draft-dodger.

The big issue in recall politics this week is the new law allowing illegal aliens to get driver’s licenses. Davis just signed the law, which he’d threatened to veto, after realizing he needed Chicano votes. According to Republicans, this is a threat to national security because no background checks are involved, and a covert effort to let illegals vote. There is talk about a ballot initiative to repeal this.

McClintock, who is actually the one major candidate who is not pandering like crazy and wants to be accepted just as he is, warts, racism, and all, also wants to revive Prop 187, which denied benefits, including schools and emergency room care, to illegal aliens (I know, we’re supposed to call them illegal immigrants now, or possibly Non-American Americans). 187 was struck down by the courts, but Davis refused to appeal that ruling. McClintock would revive the appeal.

Arnold, the immigrant accused of being anti-immigrant, and correctly so, says “I came to California 35 years ago because I saw this state as the best place on Earth to fulfill my dreams,” and of course his dreams involved flexing his muscles and public group sex, so yeah, you could see why you’d move from Austria to California for that. Livin’ the dream. An article on his wife yesterday told how he “charmed” the Shrivers when he first met them, evidently by telling Eunice Kennedy Shriver that Maria had a great body. Davis, by the way, has been severely chastised by everyone for commenting that the governorship shouldn’t go to someone who can’t pronounce the word California.

Saudi Arabia is putting out the theory that bin Laden deliberately recruited Saudis, in order to damage US-Saudi relations. It does make a certain sort of sense, I suppose.

Leni Riefenstahl dies, as her mantle is passed to the guy who made that cable movie about Bush and 9/11.

It is reported that the Jordanian Parliament voted against imposing tougher penalties for “honor killings.” Islamic types think this would destroy families--as opposed to what happens when male relatives kill a female relative. The family that slays together stays together. As the UPI story is written, you can’t tell exactly what the law is or how it would be changed. It sounds like honor killing is a whole separate crime, like manslaughter, or infanticide in British but not American law.

Bob Graham notes that Bush wants to spend more on Iraq than the federal government spends on education.

In Iraq, Rumsfeld complained that the media were ignoring "the story of success and accomplishment" there. No word on whether any reporter responded that they’d talk about success and accomplishment if he dared get out of his helicopter and actually walk the streets of Baghdad.

Kim Jong Il was unanimously reelected as second in command of North Korea. Everybody is still too scared to tell the official head of state, Kim Il Sung, that he’s been dead for ten years.

The prisoners in Guantanamo are now being bribed to give up intelligence, with Twinkies and McDonald’s Happy Meals, with “a toy and everything” (presumably for the under-aged detainees). Twinkies are like Guantanamo prisoners in that they can just be kept on a shelf for years without being charged. Ok, that joke was a little belabored, I admit it.


Hillary Potter and the Senate Chamber of Secrets.

Speaking of immigrants, a lot of Pakistanis have been leaving the US, some deported, but more feeling forced out, and a couple thousand are seeking asylum in Canada.

“Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc., told Republicans in an Aug. 14 fund-raising letter that he is ‘committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.’” Guess what Diebold makes? Voting machines, currently bidding for a place in Ohio elections.

139 American soldiers have been killed since the end of (major) hostilities, which killed 138. The London Times mentions that #139 (or 277) is black. I don’t think I’ve seen a run-down on the other 276. Ward Connerly strikes again. (Later): The Indy says that the Pentagon is aggressively recruiting Hispanics and aliens, including sending recruiters into Mexico to recruit Mexicans with US residency papers (Mexico is not pleased). They are currently under-represented in the military compared to their numbers in the population, but over-represented in the cannon fodder slots. The Indy says an ethnic breakdown of the US dead & wounded is “not available.” Like the number of Iraqi dead, this is data the Pentagon is keeping to itself. Evidently recruiters now begin (in poor areas) as early as elementary school.

Enough Italians have signed a petition that there will be a referendum revoking Berlusconi’s new immunity from prosecution. But it would need a higher turnout than is likely.

The cluster bombs used by Britain in Iraq were bought from Israel.

Although Alabama Governor Bob Riley said raising taxes on the rich was the Christian thing to do, roughly 2/3 of Alabamaniacs turned out to be heathens in a referendum.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Rummy Rumsfeld probably doesn't want you reading this either

OK, Sy Hersh wasn’t on the CSPAN program, and Thong Girl wasn’t on Fox. That last will be Friday 2:45 pm. Today, they had Peter Ueberroth instead--and gosh I could construct a joke about him wearing thongs based on the movie Bull Durham and he being the former baseball commissioner, but honestly that’s just too much like work.

Bill Maher: “I’m beginning to think that Republicans will do anything to win an election--except get the most votes.”

The US is changing its citizenship oath to remove the archaic language about abjuring & renouncing princes and potentates. Dictators and mullahs these days, I suppose. Don’t quote me, but I suspect the word potentates was intended as a backhanded way of referring to the pope.

We still don’t give them anything when they’ve taken the oath, do we? In Australia, they give you a small tree to plant.

Rumsfeld says criticizing him helps the terrorists. See, now if he’d only told me that before, I wouldn’t have repeatedly pointed out what a jackass he is.

Colombia’s president says the same thing about human rights groups there which, as Amnesty International points out, could be taken as a death list by his buddies in the death squads.

But only Russia has the guts actually to ban punditry, specifically: discussion of candidate’s personal lives, analysis of their policies, forecasting election results, or giving the candidates of all 44 parties less than equal time. Also, officials aren’t supposed to use their positions to campaign for parties or candidates. Putin immediately broke his own decree, endorsing someone as governor of St Petersburg. But of course he has immunity. In that election, one St Pete newspaper is running you know, made-up stories about an election in a, you know, fictional country with different names.

Terrorist-symp Joshua Marshall: “The president has turned 9/11 into a sort of foreign policy perpetual motion machine in which the problems ginned up by policy failures become the rationale for intensifying those policies. The consequences of screw-ups become examples of the power of 'the terrorists'.”

Rumsfeld also says that sending in more US troops would simply create more targets for the criminals, terrorists & Baathist remnants, as he describes them. So if the only function of additional troops would be as targets, what’s the function of the existing troops?

I’m warming to Arafat’s nominee for PM, if only because one of his two names is Abu Ala, which sounds like baby talk.

A doctor driving a Lamborghini in Pennsylvania was going 127 mph over the limit (which was 55). Cool.

False comfort in a dangerous world

In his speech tonight, Bush said there will be no going back to “false comfort in a dangerous world.” Which is odd, because I thought that was gonna be his campaign slogan in 2004. It was an odd speech, I thought. To my question of how he would explain his U-turn on the UN, he didn’t. He just told them it was their “responsibility” to send cannon fodder to be placed under American leadership. You sweet talker, you. In the same way, he told the US people they’d have to fork over another $87 billion, without making a single concession--an apology or explanation, say--to those Americans who think something has gone badly wrong in Iraq. It’s like that “Saddam [or whoever] needs to...” formulation. What he wants, it’s everybody else’s duty to do. He’s getting steadily less willing to acknowledge that anyone else (besides the “killers”) has a viewpoint of their own. I’m telling you, this is textbook sociopathic thinking.

More and more he describes the fight against terrorism as if it can be fought by exactly the same methods as you’d fight a conventional war against an army in uniform in a territorially based state. He said Iraq is a “central front” [whatever one of those might be] in the war on terror. “Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there and they must be defeated.” It’s not the fucking Alamo or the battle of the Somme or whatever battle imagery is going through his microcephalic skull.

Arafat picks as PM another guy with two names.

The Guardian on the abstinence pledges (complete with silver rings) your tax dollars are being used to coerce teenagers into taking. Fun article. Find out why oral sex is like Pringles.

Did you know that the Christian right has declared the week of Oct. 12 Marriage Protection Week? There is of course a website: www.marriageprotectionweek.com. Did you know there are people who want to define marriage to include two women, two men, or possibly one man and four women of one woman and two men? Donald Wildmon says “Their efforts are intended to force, by law, 97% of Americans to bow down to the desires of the approximately 3% who are homosexuals.” First, what the homosexuals told you to do was “blow me”; bowing down has to be a pretty awkward way of doing that. Second, homosexuals may be just 3% of Americans (but probably aren’t), but if you add in the Mormons and perverts...

Speaking of annoying Christians, click here for messages posted to Paul Hill. And at the bottom, there is perhaps the least appealing invitation ever: To View Helpless babies murdered by babykilling abortionists click here.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Don’t forget to watch Bush tomorrow evening (Sunday 5:30 PST). Let’s see him explain the u-turn on the UN while trying to pretend it’s not a u-turn. Also for your viewing pleasure: Seymour Hersh on the media and the Iraq War, C-SPAN 2 5:45 am Sunday PST, and goober candidate Thong Girl on Fox News Monday 2:30 pm.

Gwen Ifel on Washington Week in Review makes the not very large mental leap I said yesterday no one was making, between Miguel Estrada’s withdrawal and the Democratic Hispanic-oriented debate.

Yet another story and another poll showing that Americans think Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.

Palestinian PM Two Name’s resignation today is widely seen as a power play, by which he will get outside powers (the US, the EU) to pressure Arafat to give him more power. Which shows that Abbas’s power lies outside the Palestinian people, Arafat’s within it. If one has any belief in democracy at all (quite aside from the fact that Arafat was directly elected and Abbas was not), this is a good reason Abbas should not win, whatever one might think of Arafat. Also, I despise politicians who continually threaten resignation to get their way.

Israel tried to assassinate the Hamas leader in a wheelchair today.

The Bushies insist that no one could have any possible objection to anti-missile systems because they are purely defensive. So why is the US objecting to Israeli plans to sell anti-missile missiles to India?

I once (7/31/02) compared the US’s attitude towards WMDs in the hands of Iraq to the laws in the South making it illegal for slaves to learn to read. The analogy seems even more accurate given the new claims that what mattered was not Saddam’s possession of WMDs, but his possession of physicists.