Monday, December 28, 1998

The Washington Post uncovers that Richard Nixon proposed censuring Truman in 1951 for firing McArthur.

Washington Post headline: “Narcolepsy Drug Gets FDA Nod”

Wednesday, December 23, 1998

Millenial Olympics

New York magazine competition, Olympic events of the future:
Opinion poll vault

The compact disc throw

Synchronized paparazzi beating

Cross-country reindeer tipping

Aussie rules ice dancing

Au-pair skating


50-yard Mrs. Dash (low-sodium track and field)

Cross dressage

Cellular phone tag

Fishing for compliments

Synchronized watching

Whitewater stonewalling

Full-figure skating

Jose Greco-Roman Polanski wrestling

Drive-by skeet shooting

Maximum bobsledding


Senatorial shotputzhead

Mom soccer

Elevator sprint

400 meter walking-and-chewing-gum relay

50-yard dine and dash

Crack and speed skating

Subpoena-dodging slalom

Men's 500-channel surfing

Platform-shoe diving

Advertising disclaimer speed reading

[NOTE: More New York Magazine competitions here.]
I've just seen the best example of an internet document by someone without a life. It's a bit long so I'll just summarize, but I will send it to anyone who asks in the next few days. It is an article about the impeachment, or I guess court martial, of James T. Kirk for lying about sex with subordinates and members of other races [my joke: "What is this Earth custom `blow job' of which you speak?]. Some think that this trial is occurring at a bad time, since Kirk has crossed the neutral zone with the Romulans, but... Lt. Uhuru, bored with her dead-end job opening hailing frequencies, has been secretly recording Yeoman Rand, who speculates that a transporter malfunction has separated Kirk into the good guy and the big creep. Kirk defends his original statement, saying that in fact he and Rand served on the Enterprise, not in the Enterprise, so it all depends on what the word "in" means.

The resignation of Britain's Trade and Industry minister and its Paymaster General show how boring scandals are supposed to be, in real countries.

Tuesday, December 22, 1998

Check out Salon's long-rumored expose of Dan Burton, his affairs, his campaign contributions, and the incident that sent his father to jail...

Clinton bombed the shit out of a foreign country last week, and the one phrase I didn't see anywhere: War Powers Act. I must have missed that one being repealed.

Oh sure, *now* they want to compromise on censure. By the way, since half the people aren't pronouncing it correctly, as a CNN piece showed yesterday, an interesting poll might ask the question, how many Americans think what is meant is censor. You laugh, but it's best not to underestimate popular stupidity in these matters. Anyway, some of the Republican "moderates" (defined as those people with broken kneecaps) who voted for impeachment say that the Senate shouldn't remove Clinton from power. And there's a lot of talk about compromise. Too late, guys. The time for censure was in the House before the impeachment vote. Check out the Constitution: the Senate has exactly three choices--removal from office, disqualification from further federal offices, or nothing. Plea-bargaining is not an option. Not that the Constitution has ever stopped the Senate, Clinton, or Rehnquist.

So if Iraq's military has been "degraded", have the civilian casualties been "demoted", ya know, to ashes?

Saturday, December 19, 1998

Putting the wood to the Republicans

Livingston not only had at least four mistresses, but four who were willing to talk about it for money.

Yesterday we had the 500th execution since 1977.

Back in the impeachment debate, D.C. Watts says that impeachment is necessary to make Boy Scouts obey their oaths. Joseph Kennedy II says the R's are going after Clinton because "The President has put the wood to the Republicans time and time again." The best summary is that of Washington Post tv critic Tom Shales: "Rarely has so much buffoonery produced so little in the way of amusement."

The man who coined the phrase "Nixon's the One" has died. What a thing to be remembered for. Somewhere there is a picture of me from a 1968 costume thing, dressed as a pregnant woman with a sign saying Nixon's the One.

Poor Saint Bob Livingston, martyr to the cause of puritanism. It would be easier to take him for a victim if we didn't know (although the NY Times seems to have forgotten it) that he planned a couple of years ago to quit politics because he wanted to be making a lot more money, and stayed only because he was promised the speaker's job when Gingrich gave it up. The R's praised Livingston for his courage and his ability to bag that many mistresses, while the D's begged him to stay. Bizarre.

If impeachment has accomplished one good thing, it is that Clinton, who has been treading water for, what, 3 years now?, has an agenda again. Well he had to have some sort of agenda, so that his supporters could say it was being interrupted by this impeachment nonsense. Last year's agenda consisted of school uniforms and nothing else that I can remember. This year Clinton suddenly has ideas again: saving Social Security, a patient's bill of rights. Oh, nothing will come of any of this, but it's nice to see the D's have some ideas again.

The minute the impeachment debate was over, Operation Desert Fox was ended. What a coincidence that was! This was, to coin a phrase, The Mistress of All Battles. Fortunately it was easy to declare it a success. Since it was never clear what the goal was supposed to be, it was easy to declare the goal achieved.

Note to Tony Blair: if you're going to insist that this wasn't a war against Islam, don't make your announcements in front of a Christmas tree.

Dennis Hastert? Who the fuck is Dennis Hastert?

Ok, none of us think Clinton will be removed from office. But don't be too secure in your belief unless you predicted the results of the 1998 elections and the resignations of Gingrich and Livingston. One important factor is the absolute lack of depth of popular support for Clinton. Look at all those polls which say that the public thinks he's an ok president who shouldn't be impeached, but if he is impeached, he should resign. Situational support, exactly what this president deserves. If the hearings drag on, what support he has may well erode as fast as Clinton's support for Lani Guinear and Joycelyn Elders and so many more.

Hillary finally comes out to support her husband, at the last minute and in not terribly enthusiastic tones. Wonder how much that cost him. More interestingly, Al Gore finally came out. Clinton's biggest fan had been awfully quiet of late. I've always thought that Hillary and Al should exchange places. The job of first lady is to stand behind the president looking at him lovingly, and Gore was always better at that than Hillary was.

In all the talk today, I've forgotten who said this, but someone blamed the polarization between the parties in Washington, the well-known fact that Congresscritters no longer fraternize, on the fact that they now have to spend all their spare time fundraising.

Friday, December 18, 1998


I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

I rise before you today to say one word: penis. Let me say that again: penis. Penis penis penis penis penis penis penis. Penis penis penis. Penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis penis. Penis!

And if you vote for impeachment, you'll hear plenty more of that.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Thursday, December 17, 1998

Rommel's revenge

Operation Desert Fox. Are we running out of "desert" codenames so soon that we have to name military operations after one of Hitler's generals? Next up: Operation Desert Inn, threatening Saddam Hussein with the specter of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Operation Desert Hearts, threatening Saddam Hussein with the specter of an art house film about two lesbians in 1950s Nevada, appealing to the common interest of Hussein and Clinton in girl on girl scenes.

Clinton said that only Iraq has used weapons of mass destruction. He said this while dropping hundreds of missiles on Iraq, which I assume was intended to be ironic. Also, if anyone remembers: Hiroshima, Dresden, Nagasaki, Agent Orange, napalm....

Trent Lott, also no stranger to paradox, refuses to support Clinton for doing what Lott criticized him last month for not doing. Do as I say, not as I say. Or something. Lott, whose spokesmodel lied about Lott's involvement with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens, should have been lying low rather than criticizing foreign policy while American bombs, I mean boys, are in harm's way. Which I've always thought is precisely when one should criticize foreign policy.

As I write, Congresscritter Porter Goss, whoever that is, says that he supports President Bush in this matter. He is talking about giving him bipartisan support.

The timing is obviously at least as much religious as political. First, as a present for Israel on Hannakah, we are lighting up one Iraqi city per day. And I understand the smart bombs (and the Pentagon says they've every one of them hit their targets precisely--mmm hmmm) have been programmed to spell out Happy Ramadam in rubble.

Wednesday, December 16, 1998

So Clinton embarks on a truly extra-constitutional misuse of military force, unauthorized by Congress, in an attempt to escape impeachment for a much lesser crime. We are so beyond the whole concept of irony here. I knew we were in trouble this week when I heard that Republican moderates were searching their consciences, or maybe it was searching for their consciences. When no Republican believes that censure is constitutional, and no Democrat believes that Clinton committed perjury or that if he did it was an impeachable offense, why should the semi-mythical Republican moderates, something like the Iranian moderates Reagan sold arms to, be the only people free of political calculation? And hey, surprise surprise, they turned out not to be.

And Monica Lewinsky bought another beret. Which reminds me of a story I don't think I passed on, that The Gap, which was beseiged by requests for a certain blue dress in the days before Halloween, insisted they no longer sold it.

One suggestion I've heard is that Clinton make a new statement: "Everything I say about Monica Lewinsky is a lie." In Star Trek, this sort of thing always made the tyrannical computer blow up, so it's certainly worth trying on Trent Lott.

Sunday, December 13, 1998

Sun, 13 Dec 1998

McCollum says that Clinton can be convicted but not removed from office. Perfect. He smoked marijuana but didn't inhale, he had an affair without having "sexual relations"....

On their last day, the Judiciary Committee changed the 4th article of impeachment totally, to one that no defence was made for because it was never mentioned before. But they dropped the charge of lying to the American people. So a politician can't lie in a deposition, or to a grand jury, or to Congress, but he can to the American people. Gotcha.

The TV Guide lists a Flintstone Christmas special. The theology of this one is just beyond me.

Friday, December 11, 1998

As I write, Hyde is absolutely refusing to make it clear what statements of Clinton the articles of impeachment are charging him with lying about.

Abe Rosenthal, saying his statutory one intelligent comment every twenty years (I think it's a monkeys and typewriters thing), suggests that Richard Nixon should not be the minimum standard of bad behaviour sufficient for impeachment.

Mary Bono earlier today repeated the Republican line that Clinton denied Jones her day in court. In the same speech, she says that he should spare the country the trauma of the impeachment trial by resigning.

Thursday, December 10, 1998

My apologies for misspelling pretty much every name in my last e-mail.

I missed it, but evidently yesterday ABC did a segment on Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Sam Donaldson called for him to be executed. He has also said off-air that blacks refuse to listen to the facts about the case.

Kenya's Y2K commission is expected to report in April 2000. And a joke internet thing purports to be a Microsoft statement that the release of Windows 2000 will be delayed until Spring of 1901.

A drunk driver who ran over a woman in California, now on trial for murder, says it was suicide. She was a Jehovah's Witness who refused a blood transfusion and pulled out an IV. He would seem to have a sort of a case.

It's disheartening that South Africa has been going downhill as badly if more slowly than the Soviet Union. Carjackings are so common that drivers routinely carry a gun on their laps. So carjackers have simply been shooting the drivers. So drivers are now fitting flamethrowers onto their cars. This is legal in South Africa, and in Gotham City.

Follow-up to my continuing arts coverage of the Turner Prize: an illustrator who says that modern art and modern life are rubbish, protested the prize by dumping a load of cow shit on the steps of the Tate Gallery. It would serve the Tate right if it couldn't be removed because it was art.

The US had ordered the Czech Republic to tighten up its security for classified information in advance of joining NATO. Imagine telling an ex-Warsaw Pact country that its security isn't good enough.

1/3 of US metropolitan areas have no facilities for abortions. Where the hell is the RU-486 pill?

I still don't know who the 2 people are who were banned from federal positions forever, as no newspaper has followed up that I've seen. Anybody know? To Aaron Burr, I'm adding a second guess: President John Tyler.

Comments on today's impeachment hearings: what is it with Coble's eyebrows? And why does Bob Barr's mustache keep creeping me out?

Speaking of Barr, earlier this year he was keynote speaker at the Council of Conservative Citizens, which believes that interracial marriage is evil and that Lincoln was elected by communists (really). I meant to check their web site, but haven't yet.

The Judiciary Committee sprang more evidence, the Clinton tapes, that D's weren't allowed to prepare for, and Schippers summed up endlessly for the R's in a snide annoying tone, suggesting that there were lots of other evil things that Clinton did, but that he wasn't allowed to say what they were, and of the Jones lawsuit, said that people don't settle false lawsuits. What country does he live in?

Wednesday, December 09, 1998

Scarlet letters

Switzerland's new federal president (admittedly, a mostly figurehead post) is a two-fer, a woman and a Jew. Ms. Dreifuss would not have been able to vote in Switzerland until she was 31.

British home secretary Jack Straw did not, as I expected, let Pinochet go home today. The dictator's Tory supporters have uncovered a scandal: one of the Law Lords who ruled that he did not have sovereign immunity is connected with a charity connected with Amnesty International. Imagine that being considered a bad thing. He doesn't get shipped off to Spain soon, so he'll be condemned to many more teas with Mrs Thatcher, which is certainly punishment enough.

Haven't heard so much about Chechnya since they started kidnapping every journalist that set foot in the country. The Chechen government made a moderately successful attempt to rescue four British hostages, aid workers, this week. By moderately successful I mean that they did at least get the heads back.

The New York Times explains the election as president of Venezuela of the leader of a failed coup attempt by noting that the coup "forged his credentials as the undeniable outsider." I can't tell if that was intended to be ironic or not.

Bill McCullom, who has no sense of irony, said that impeachment is "the ultimate scarlet letter". I've watched large parts of the last two days of impeachment hearings because I've been too sick to do anything else and it helps me sleep. Yesterday's session made more sense than today's, but my temperature was 3 degrees higher. There must be a black hole under Henry Hyde's chair, because the laws of time and space were clearly breaking down. The defense came before any charges to defend against were enunciated, while the bill of impeachment was written before the whole defense was even heard. This morning the D's asked if they might be allowed to see the charges sometime before they had to make speeches about them. Stensenberner (or whatever his name is) asked whether in turn the R's could see the censure resolution. Barney Frank shot back, "I'll trade you a copy for a vote on the floor."

Clinton is getting desperate. He offered to pay an (unconstitutional) fine, and was willing to say that he would not pardon himself or accept a pardon from his successor (how can you reject a pardon?). I wonder how much he's paying his lawyers to call him "reprehensible" over and over. As for the committee, a group of 35 lawyers complaining about legalisms is a bit rich. You wonder how most of them got through law school. Yesterday, at the end of the questioning of witnesses, after slogging through 36 other Congresscritters asking questions that didn't get answered because their time expired, Mary Bono was a sort of dessert (as I would have said in my e-mail last night, had I been a bit more alert, it is better to speak in tortuous legalisms and be thought a fool, than to speak in plain English and remove all doubt), but today she kept deferring her time to other R's, including at the end to allow Lindsey Graham a 15-minute rave about the smear campaign against poor Monica, which had to be heard to be believed. So what is all this talk about an impeachment trial taking 6 months or a year? Remember, if this all gets past the House, the plea bargaining stops. The House could settle on fines, censures, whatever, the Senate can only remove him from office.

The articles of impeachment, when they came, were a bit of a surprise. They included some of the weakest charges, like making frivolous privilege claims, and lying to his Cabinet. And they want to ban him from office forever, which has evidently only been done to two people in all of US history (I assume some newspaper will tell me who those were, but I'm betting Aaron Burr was one).

Ruff fairly effectively demolished some of the charges today. It makes no sense that Clinton obstructed justice by demanding his gifts to Monica back 10 minutes after he gave her more gifts. Starr evidently relied on a truncated Washington Post report of Clinton allegedly denying knowing that his lawyers were asserting privilege, which he didn't. Etc etc.

Monday, December 07, 1998

There's a very entertaining article on the federal witness protection program in the Washington Post Magazine. My favorites: the witness who tried to go on Letterman to plug his Mafia Cookbook (Dave backed out; the guy threatened to whack him), and the one who ran for mayor of Austin. I think it's a joke, but you never know.

Saturday, December 05, 1998

One of the upsides of the Asian economic crisis has been to decimate the Moonies' business empire.

Article in Friday LA Times compares Henry Hyde's endorsement of lying by Ollie North in 1987 with his opposition to it when Clinton does it.

Sheriff Joe of Phoenix, who hasn't done anything stupid in weeks, that I've heard of, introducing chain gangs of juveniles. Hey, try them as adults and they get the same pup tents, baloney, chains, forcible sodomy, as the adults, and may get the same chance to bury dead poor people.

Michael Huffington, the ex-Mr. Arianna Huffington, announces that he is gay. Nope, sorry Mike, that still doesn't make you interesting. Good try though.

Friday, December 04, 1998

Fri, 4 Dec 1998

As I said, a D.C. jury is unlikely to convict Clinton. Mike Espy, who's only marginally blacker than Clinton, was acquitted by a jury of 11 blacks, who only took 10 hours because, as the Daily Show said, they were trying to decide whether he was black enough. 4 years and $17 million went to naught, although Espy, who took more in freebies than the average American gets in salary, showed a lot of gall in pretending that he deserved to get his reputation back, much less a new job in the Clinton administration.

Tuesday, December 01, 1998

If I read the London Times correctly, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony today from someone convicted of perjury for lying about going to a lesbian bar. Now we're really getting somewhere!

Part of the Wye accord was to be a prisoner release, but it seems that Israel, supposed to release 750 Palestinian, um, freedom fighters, is actually counting towards that number car thieves and violators of the pass laws.

New book: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Impeaching the President.

The news that scientists insist that breast implants cause no illness whatsoever is greeted by the rep of the women plaintiffs as "terrible news". That's a lawyer for you!

Followup on my Turner prize articles: the elephant dung artist won.

I have a couple of comments about the Tony Lewis NYT piece:
the real question is why they felt obligated to swoop on Monica then rather than a couple of days later.

Lewis is concentrating on Starr's people "wanting a crime", but we knew that. This is actually less egregious than using Tripp to convince Monica to try to blackmail the president into getting her a job and obstructing justice. I think the key item in this piece is that any immunity agreement they were dangling in front of her was a fraud in that it wouldn't be valid without the presence of her lawyers. So what they clearly had in mind was wheedling a statement out of her while pretending to give her immunity. This accords with their later conduct when they spent months negotiating with her lawyers over testimony and immunity. If you are just trying to get at the truth, you don't need to negotiate, you just give her immunity and issue a subpoena. The only reason to 1) get a statement without a valid immunity, and then later to 2) negotiate, would be to use the threat of jail to get her to testify the way they wanted her to, true or not. If they were afraid of her lying, she could always be prosecuted for perjury, immunity deal or not. The only reason to try and keep a bigger legal stick in reserve is to get her to lie.

Monday, November 30, 1998

The hospital at which Pinochet has been hiding the last few weeks is on the verge of taking legal action to get him out.

Clinton pledges, oh some sum of money, you could look it up, to the Palestinians as their bribe for signing the peace accord that Netanyahu keeps threatening to tear up and certainly has no intention of implementing, but he wants $1.2 billion himself. Anyway, Clinton said something to the effect that economic development would bring peace, that the violence has been caused by people with "nothing better to do." NEWSFLASH: Clinton ends decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict by implementing midnight basketball!

Saturday, November 28, 1998

The Brady Act's 5 day waiting period to purchase handguns expires Monday. It was supposed to be replaced by a computer system that Congress never bothered to fund properly.

A security firm in Russia calls itself KGB (no relation), advertising with pictures of Beria and other such, with the slogan "Nobody stole *their* cars."

Millennium babies. You will here more about these. Britain's ITV is planning to follow the 1st baby of the millennium (well, of 2000, anyway) and do periodic updates, in the style of the 7 Up films. Parents who want in on this (why? presumably they plan to fund the kid's education by selling advertising space on its pram) are planning the conceptions to the minute. Sick of the millennium yet?

Thursday, November 26, 1998

The California Supreme Court says that lawyers have no duty to defend guilty clients competently. The Court voted 6-1 (the 1 is Stanley Mosk, the only justice I voted for, so I feel good about myself) that lawyers can only be sued for malpractice by people who can prove that they were innocent.

Pinochet is pleading mental instability as a reason he can't stand trial. Now he tells us.

Israeli religious parties are objecting to the latest inflation figures, which have been boosted by a large increase in the price of pork. Anathema, anathema!

None of the British press have the nerve to use the obvious headline about Zimbabwe's ex-president Canaan Banana fleeing the country after he is found guilty of homosexual rape. So I will: Banana Splits.

All this talk about trying Clinton after he leaves office. As someone or other pointed out, I'm sure the thought of a Washington D.C. jury really frightens him. He is, after all, the first black president.

As y'all can tell, I'm having another exciting Thanksgiving. Woops, have to go now and get my clothes out of the dryer.

Monday, November 23, 1998

London Times headline: "Reversing Circumcision May be Stretching a Point".

Some British aid workers for some charity hitched a ride back on a cargo plane after spending time in Honduras helping out after the hurricane. The plane went via the US, where the INS promptly arrested them for not having a visa form that is given out free, and then fined them. The INS is not at all embarrassed about this, either.

Friday, November 20, 1998

Starr court

Whose stupid idea was it to confine the testimony to a single day? Still, Starr did the impossible and testified for a solid 87 hours yesterday. Some of it I watched live and I'm still going through the rest on video. I have so far seen the first 137 hours. I am now officially more tired of his voice than I am of Monica's. I'm too brain-damaged to have anything especially intelligent to say, but here goes:

I had a sense of unreality while watching Starr that I only just pinpointed: no pornography. After the intense detail of the Starr Report, someone on the committee, and I nominate Barney Frank, should have figured out a question to which Starr would be forced to answer using the phrase "blow job". I'd have been happy if he was just told to turn to page 231 and read out the salacious material he saw fit to unleash on an unsuspecting world, to watch him squirm (don't go looking to see what's on page 231, I made the number up).

Starr thinks he is demonstrating his impartiality by saying how he didn't recommend impeachment for Whitewater, then wrecked it by adding that this was in spite of knowing damned well that Clinton lied lied lied about it.

I understand that the Dems on Wednesday got their hands on the GAO account of what Starr spent the $45 million on, but that Hyde declared it confidential in order to stop them using it against him.

Hyde's reputation, based on what exactly I've never known, to be the grand old man of impartiality, should now be in tatters.

I want the name of that Asian man with the glasses I could see all day sitting behind Starr, yawning, squirming, looking around like he was wondering why the Rockettes hadn't gone on yet...

Someone writing for Salon described the day as a "carefully choreographed blandness blitz".

The most telling moment on the issue of OIC leaking was the one where Starr was asked to release all media from any confidentiality, and he refused.

There was a piece in the Thursday Washington Post on the history of actual censures and attempted censures of US presidents, which can still be accessed using the Yesterday's Paper button. An interesting corrective to the claim that the censure is unknown to the American political system.

Tuesday, November 17, 1998

So that's what Monica sounds like! I'm listening to C-SPAN as I write. For a ditz, she has good grammar. She uses "whom" correctly. The censorship is annoying the shit out of me, especially during the discussion of Bill's dick size a few minutes ago. Linda to Luciane Goldberg (on whom, by the way, there is an interesting long article in today's, Tuesday's Washington Post) (yes, I use whom correctly too): "If she's flipping out I want to get that on tape."

Safeway's female employees are suing for sexual harassment. They claim that the rule that they smile at customers just encourages lonely pathetic men to hit on them, so it creates a hostile working environment. In future, I'm just going to grunt at the cashiers.

The Prince of Wales talked with new black army recruits, explaining how he too was persecuted and subject to prejudice when he was in the military. Yes, prince, that's exactly like racism.

Monday, November 16, 1998

The Washington Post says that Bob Livingston's first job was cleaning up after the elephants at the New Orleans Zoo--and that not much has changed since then.

The Lord Chancellor has won a vote in the House of Lords allowing him not to wear breeches, tights & buckled shoes, except on ceremonial occasions, although I believe he'll still be stuck with the wig. One (anonymous) peer asked when he was getting his kit off. Some peers worried that "dressing down" would work to the detriment of the Lords' image. Poofs in fancy dress?

Saturday, November 14, 1998

Reagan's grandson is arrested for breaking into cars. Not exactly the Kennedies, are they? Not even the Bushes? Speaking of which, what is Neil Bush doing these days?

The London Times says that Israel is working on figuring out what genes distinguish Arabs from Jews so that they can develop biological weapons. Nice to see that old South African research, not to mention Joseph Mengele's, is being put to good use.

The Clinton Admin finally admits that those cruise missiles were intended to kill Osama bin Liner. It seems that while assassination is illegal, they can target the "infrastructure" of terrorist groups, and in this case, they define that infrastructure as human beings. So it's not assassination, it's, I don't know, infrastructure downsizing. Somebody find out who came up with this explanation, find out what law school they graduated from, and drop a small nuke on it.

I saw the tv footage of Prince Charles doing the little dance from the Full Monty. Priceless.

Friday, November 13, 1998

Carlos the Jackal is on hunger strike. What do jackals normally eat, anyway? Carrion? In a French prison that would of course be carrion with a really superb sauce and exactly the right wine.

Bubba Livingstone, the next Speaker of the House and third in line to the presidency (no, second, Clinton already is the president, so he's not on line) has won the position the old-fashioned way: he bought it. I mean, is there anyone who's arguing that he'll do a competent job, or unify his party, much less the House he is supposed to Speak for? No, he just has a very large PAC which disbursed a lot of money to Republican candiates, and is chair of the Appropriations Committee, and therefore someone you really don't want to piss off.

China has just convicted a rather nasty Hong Kong gangster of kidnapping. The problem is that he was arrested on the mainland, and tried there, for a crime committed in HK. HK was supposed to have judicial independence (and doesn't have a death penalty, which is about to be imposed on one of its citizens).

Wednesday, November 11, 1998

I trust everybody celebrated the 80th anniversary of the end of the Great War by going up behind a veteran and shouting boo.

London Times headline: "Coward was Unfit to Serve in 1914-18 War". Noel Coward, actually. Evidently he didn't like loud noises.

Chutzpah of the week award: At the global warning conference, OPEC demands compensation.

Buzzword of the week: "Exit strategy"-- what Republicans need to get out of the impeachment thing gracefully.

Monday, November 09, 1998

Mon, 9 Nov 1998

C-SPAN just interrupted its repeat of today's impeachment hearings to show Newton Leroy Gingrich speak at his political action committee, GOPAC. Which by coincidence is also the name of what the American people told him to do last week.

2 new inventions, just in time for California's new casinos: a combination stationary bike slash slot machine and a combination treadmill slash slot machine. You can't gamble unless you're exercising.

Friday, November 06, 1998

The case for taking Governor The Body seriously

The Shumer-D'Amato race cost $36 million.

Not only has the first open lesbian been elected to Congress (Tammy William, D-Wics) but also the first ever homosexual of either sex--previous gay Congressmen were in the closet when first elected. Why didn't this get more attention?

Israel is still using fake Canadian passports for its covert operatives, which they promised not to the last time they were caught.

If you haven't read the actual 81 questions Hyde has for Clinton, do so. The NY Times printed them all. Don't accept stories that just quote a few: you can only get the flavor of the document by seeing it all.

Slate's "Today's Papers" notes that Hyde told two huge lies yesterday: a) the downsizing of the impeachment process has nothing to do with the elections, b) he's planning to call only Starr because the American people really want to hear from Starr.

In the following article, note that Minnesota's slap at the two-party system, which I wholeheartedly applaud as long as it's another state that elects the wrestler, was made possible by campaign finance laws and easy voter registration. Surely an important lesson. The article neglects to mention the real reason Jesse won: he had the coolest campaign slogan--"Retaliate in '98"

Wednesday, November 04, 1998

The CIA refuses to tell Honduran human rights investigators the name of military officers responsible for death squad killings in the 1980s.

Has anyone seen the figures on the miscegenation repeal in South Carolina?

Lebanon accuses Israel of stealing its topsoil.

I give us 3 days before we're all heartily sick of jokes about Governor The Body. Until then, has anyone heard any good ones?

The LA Times calls the election as LA county sheriff of Mr. Baca a shift in power to the Latino middle class. And presumably a shift in power away from, you know, dead people.

Tuesday, November 03, 1998

Election--1st thoughts

Most of the surprise Dem wins so far seem attributable to black voters. Does that mean they're voting this year?

The Bushes are the new Kennedy’s. Come to think of it, the founding dynast in both cases was a Nazi sympathizer. Other than that, not much comparison.

Senator Pothole out, Senator Putz Head in.

D.C. voted on medical marijuana today. Congress voted last month that the initiative ballots could not be counted.

In Britain, two soldiers let out after serving 6 years of a life sentence for killing an unarmed Irish civilian are readmitted into the Scots Guards.

Fob James, the stupidest governor in the US, is out.

Jesse "The Body" Ventura?

Sunday, November 01, 1998

The commercials just get more and more amusing. I haven't seen the one for whoever the Republican candidate for atty general is, accusing Lockyer of smoking dope, but I have seen the one where March Fong Eu demands that Barbara Boxer stop picking on her son. As the New York Times recently reported, there are a surprising number of ads this year featuring the wives of candidates, to prove that they are happily married (like Hillary wouldn't make such ads even today, if Billy Bob were running again). What does it prove when you have your mother do the ad? Especially when mom is from another party and didn't speak to you for many years after you became a Republican?

Speaking of presidential sex scandals, DNA tests strongly suggest that Jefferson did fuck Sally Hemings, which means that every Jefferson biographer has to eat their words and admit that every black person in America was right. Next up: proof that OJ was innocent and that the CIA created AIDS.

Oddest political spectacle of the season: LA county supervisors falling all over themselves to endorse the late Sheriff Block for reelection. The highest paid elected official in America, Block admittedly is much more competent now than he was last week when he was actually breathing. The supes want Block elected so that they can appoint a successor, rather than leave it up to the electors. So anyone who votes for Block, knowing this, is tacitly admitting that they consider themselves too stupid to vote for sheriff, concurring with the supes. But given that Daryl Gates was only the second stupidest law enforcement official in LA county, this is hard to disagree with.

On the Calif. animal trap initiative, Kevin recently asked whether fur trumps feathers. One person strongly supporting the initiative: Tippi Hedren. Really.

Thursday, October 29, 1998

Seen "consumer advocate" David Horowitz's tv ads against Prop 9? Well first, I don't know how much of a consumer advocate Horowitz really is. I seem to remember his claim to fame being to test the claim of a frosting commercial that it was so smooth that it could be spread with a paper knife. Anyway, it seems that Horowitz was paid over $100,000 for his appearance.

I'd be more upset by the details of how Starr has been spending that $40 million ($20,000 for polling to establish a way to market the prosecution of former Ark. governor Jim Guy Tucker, $400 an hour for his ethics consultant--surely money well spent--and $127 for the lunch Linda Tripp and Monica had) if it didn't come out the same day I got my hospital bill ($31,706.40).

Wednesday, October 28, 1998

The Welsh Secretary and presumed first First Minister of Wales after devolution, Ron Davies, who I've always felt was something of a shit, resigns from the British Cabinet for having put himself in a position where he was robbed. At least, that's the official story, and they're sticking with it. What this actually is is the first sex scandal of the Blair government, and about time too. Davies picked up some guy (a black guy, yet) in Clapham Common, which for some reason even I know is where you go in London to pick up gay rough trade. In this case a little too rough, and the police are still looking for his car, mobile phone, etc.

The Israeli-Palestinian deal is already dead, since Netanyahu refuses to ask the cabinet to confirm it. This must piss off Arafat, who's been busily arresting all the opponents of the deal.

In Congo-Kinshasa, an entire rugby team (shit, I think it was rugby) is hit by lightning and killed. Fortunately, they were not the home team.

A 16-year old Brit, obsessed with hygiene, dies from excessive use of deodorants. He can't have done much for the ozone layer either.

The British High Court rules that Pinochet had sovereign immunity, and was thus free to kill whoever he wanted. The case will go to appeal in the House of Lords, whose members are also Senators-for-life. The last time sovereign immunity was raised in a British court was in the case of Mary Queen of Scots, where things turned out just a little bit differently.
Ah, the good old days!

Tuesday, October 27, 1998

For those needing voting advice.


1A: $9 billion in bonds for school construction. And $6 billion in interest, for absolutely nothing. I hate deficit financing. No.

1: Another Prop. 13 exemption, for houses destroyed by marauding aliens from the Crab Nebula, or some such thing. Yes, why the fuck not.

2: Tries to keep the governor and legislature stealing transportation funds. Yes.

3: The political parties are ordering us to reverse the open primaries for the purposes of presidential primaries. As annoying as I found the primaries, this is just arrogant and insulting. If the 2 parties want to set the rules for primaries, they can bloody well pay for printing the ballots and manning the polling booths. Given the deterioration of party loyalty, anyone should be able to vote for anyone. No.

4: Saves furry animals from nasty traps. Yes.

5: Indian casinos. I haven't seen an argument against that isn't an attack on Indian tribal sovereignty in general. Interestingly, no one is arguing that gambling is bad. There are problems. The revenue sharing with the tribes that don't have casinos is laughably small. Tribes with populations of 70 already have gambling. I suspect some tinkering will be required in years to come. And the idea that fleecing the suckers is promoting Indian "self-reliance" is pretty amusing. Still, yes.

6: Bans horsemeat for human (or at least Canadian) consumption. But leaves the dogfood industry alone. So what is the point supposed to be? No.

7: Tax credits for air pollution control. Except that it rewards doing a lot of things that are required by law, and would mostly aid the big polluting industries. No.

8: Pete Wilson's state takeover of the schools, including unelected councils, teacher testing, and mandatory suspension for drugs, and a Schools Czar. No.

9: Reverses electricity deregulation, which somehow left us with the highest rates in the country, by far. The most difficult part is that it invalidates the bonds that are being sold to pay for that great rate reduction (I personally am paying more for those bonds than I got in rate reductions--how's everyone else doing?). The scare argument is that the state would get stuck paying for them, but that would be unconstitutional. Let's stick PG & E with the costs of its own stupid business decisions, especially Diablo Canyon. Yes.

10: A tobacco tax to pay for completely unrelated early childhood programs. I may yet change my mind on this before election day (again), but my inclination is to vote against. The programs are rather nebulous and the perhaps worthy attempts to run them from the county rather than state level seems likely to create a lot of waste and bureaucracy. The reason I may vote yes ultimately is that I'd really hate to vote the way the tobacco companies want me to. The ads against 10 have been even more dishonest than the Prop. 5 ads. The proposition exempts itself from Prop 98 so that 40% (I think it was 40%) of the new revenues won't immediately be sucked out for purposes other than those for which the tax was created; so what? Kevin noticed the line about it reducing the Prop 99 anti-smoking fund, but the way it will do this is by depressing cigarette sales, so it's hard to object to that unless we think people should smoke in order to fund propaganda telling them not to. So that was vote no, or maybe yes.

11: Sales tax revenue-sharing, as for example in Palos Verdes where the city of RPV has almost no shops of its own and so gets some of the sales tax revenue from Rolling Hills Estates, which does. This would make such deals easier, but it would do so by by-passing the voters in favor of city and county governments, and worse, require an undemocratic 2/3 vote. No (and there was no argument against in the book).

State offices:

I just saw a Lungren ad saying that Gray Davis is too mean-spirited to be governor of California. After the last 16 years, not to mention Ronald "Let the bloodbath begin" Reagan, it's hard to imagine anyone too mean-spirited for that high office. For me, it comes down to the death penalty, the issue that has prevented me voting for a Democrat for any high California office for all the time I've been voting. I'm not willing to vote for Davis in the hopes that his support for it has been from political expediency rather than conviction and that there would therefore be fewer deaths under his regime. If I were German in 1932 I wouldn't vote for the candidate who promised to gas only 5 million Jews, and I sure as hell don't want a governor willing to execute people to save his own career. We've seen that sort of thing up close, and we all know where it leads to: sex with interns.

So I'm probably going with the Green for governor, and Peace and Freedom for most of the lesser positions, and Delaine Eastin for Public Instruction. I also can't make myself vote for Boxer.

State Supreme Court is a little more tricky. We shouldn't be voting on this at all, so in the past I've sometimes voted yes for all of them. But most of these clowns are horrible right wing Duke and Wilson appointees, so I think yes on Mosk and abstain on the rest.

And that's it for another crappy election year. I've watched some of the debates for other states, which C-SPAN's been running pretty much non-stop, but couldn't work up much enthusiasm, even for the governor's race in, where was it?, Minnesota? where the famous professional wrestler is running.

Friday, October 23, 1998

Big Deal

Clinton succeeds in getting Israel and Palestine to agree to do some of the things they promised they would do during the last "peace process". To put it into perspective, tomorrow is the 350th anniversary of the Treaty of Westphalia, ending the 30 Years' War. In those talks, 176 delegations represented 194 countries. They slept two to a bed, had lice, and still managed to end a major religious conflict with more grace than these clowns did. One point in common: long memories. The current pope refuses to attend the commemorations of a Peace that ended Church domination of Europe. Not that they'll ever acknowledge that. Currently, the Vatican and San Marino are allowed to mint a small quantity of Italian liras, and the Vatican thinks it can mint euros with a picture of the pope on them (and this after the British tabs kicked up a fuss about the queen's face not being allowed on the euro).

The Israelis actually threatened not to sign unless the US released Jonathan Pollard. This I suppose correctly acknowledges that the peace process means more to Clinton and the November elections than it does to Netanyahu, who never feels obligated to live up to Israeli promises he doesn't like.

Wednesday, October 21, 1998

The NY Times coverage of the Pinochet extradition has been unusually abysmal. A favorite, from today's paper: ""It's a legal matter among the Governments of the U.K., Spain and Chile," said a State Department official who insisted on anonymity. "The United States is not involved."" Oh yeah, you could see how such tough talk requires confidentiality. And you wouldn't know that the US is actively involved in pressuring both Spain and Britain.

Monday, October 19, 1998

Something to look for in American papers, that the British papers have been covering: the US's determined pressure on Britain not to extradite Pinochet to Spain. Interesting to see the Clinton Administration covering up for the Nixon administration's assistance to Pinochet.

Which links up rather interestingly with the current Middle East process. The Israeli press but, again, not the American, has for some time been reporting on the comings and goings in that country of top CIA officials. The CIA's role is as advisers to the Palestinian Authority in espionage, infiltration and interrogation (which explains all those recent torture deaths in Palestianian prisons), basically the same role as it had in the 1970s in Chile.

But how 'bout that Spanish judge who's going after Pinochet, being fought by his own conservative government the whole way?

William Safire refutes the argument that the US cannot afford an impeachment at this time of world crisis, saying that a superpower should be able to walk and chew up a president at the same time.

Wednesday, October 14, 1998


London Times:

Error of the week
Birds tagged in America by the Washington Biological Survey used to wear metal tags that bore the inscription "Wash.Biol.Surv". But, according to New Scientist, the survey team recently received a letter from a camper in Arkansas. "Dear sirs, while camping last week I shot one of your birds. I think it was a crow. I followed the cooking instructions on the leg tag and I want to tell you it was horrible."

The inscription has now been changed to Fish And Wildlife Service.

Tuesday, October 13, 1998

Found on return a supplemental ballot pamphlet, answering the question, how can California have an election without a bond initiative. It can't. Prop 1A, a school construction bond measure, is disguised as the more trendy cause of class size reduction. However, since not one penny is to be spent on hiring teachers, I have to assume that it foresees spending 9 billion dollars to move the walls of classrooms closer together.

China has banned Chinese translations of the Starr Report as pornographic.

An ad in the TV Guide said that Sunday's football game would have more physical contact than the Starr Report.

Clinton originated, and then denied originating, a plan to get 34 Democratic Senators to declare in advance that they would not vote to convict Clinton in any impeachment process. OK, this would make clear what I said a week ago, that any impeachment with no chance of conviction was nothing more than an exercise in personal humiliation, but christ, how hamfisted can you get! The Senators would have to take an oath to try the case impartially. Republicans are rightly screaming jury tampering, but then again they're also calling jury tampering Clinton's attempts to fund-raise on behalf of candidates for Senate in close races as in NY.

In advance of NATO airstrikes, Russia has sold Serbia new, harder to hit, mobile surface to air missiles. This is not the act of an ally.

Tuesday, October 06, 1998

I heard much of the debate today, before heading into the C-Span-less halls of Alta Bates, and I have to wonder: what the fuck are these people thinking? A vote for impeachment is a vote for what, exactly? I doubt even Newt Gingrich's wet dreams are so unrealistic as to think that Clinton will actually be removed from office. Even if the Republicans do spectacularly well in November, they would need 1) at least 6 Democrats, which they probably won't get, 2) at least all of the Republicans, which believe it or not, they will not get. And underneath all the hoopla, they all must know that. So, since Clinton will never resign as long as he has one true-believer left (James Carville) to whisper in his ear, "Ken Starr would laugh his ass off if you did that", then impeachment can only be about humiliation. And will be seen as such.

Quick Starr Report quiz: Monica gave Bill her idea on how to improve education. The news reports all found that just darling, but tended to leave out what her idea was. Anyone know? Answer at the bottom of this e-mail.

So when Starr told the Appeals Court that it should force the White House lawyers to testify, saying that although Clinton did have a right to confidential advice from them in event of impeachment, we were a long way off from that, and it was so contingent an event that the court could safely ignore it. Three days later he secretly filed a motion before another bunch of judges asking permission to make an impeachment referral to Congress. He and Clinton should open a law firm together.

But let's say Clinton was removed or resigned. Who would Gore appoint as veep? Come to think of it, who will he appoint in 2000, and why have I heard no speculation about it? And would he be able to get his nominee confirmed by Congress?

Answer: Monica's idea was to pay the teachers more money.

Monday, October 05, 1998

This is my rifle, this is my gun

Last week the Pentagon was complaining about deteriorating readiness. Now we know what they meant. It seems their budget request includes $50 million for Viagra.

There is an article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker just out, about the US bombing of the Sudan, which I haven't seen but which is probably quite interesting.

Italians are getting microchip homing devices implanted in case of kidnap.

Saturday, October 03, 1998

Monica: a question

In all these transcripts, I'm curious as to whether Monica ever expressed an opinion as to whether Paula Jones's accusations were true.

Monica: "I'm like not a normal person."

I'm like totally disappointed that we didn't get actual tapes, since it's beginning to drive me crazy that I don't know what she sounds like, but there is one comment that suggests that she sounds like Marilyn Monroe. Happy birthday, Mr. President.

A question I asked facetiously a few months ago has surprisingly not been answered: what does Clinton call his penis? I still maintain that he is just the sort of person to have a name for it.

Elected in the German elections: the first MP to sport a mohawk (purple and green), a nose ring, and she is rumored to be pierced somewhere else as well. Welcome to the successor to the Communist Party.

Iraq's new list of urgent medical supplies it needs: liposuction machines, silicone breast implants, acme cream....

The Taliban, having escaped having their asses kicked by the Iranians, for now, are going after a bigger target, setting up training camps for Muslim separatists from Xinjiang province, China.

Sat, 3 Oct 1998

The NY Times web site is down, like it always is when I'm trying to send stories, so I'll just paraphrase:

1) a minister in Florida trying to make an analogy about sin being like Russian roulette shot himself with a blank in front of his congregation. Of course a blank shot from a .357 can, and did, kill you.

2) In a NY charter school, a 15-year old going up on stage at an assembly to receive an award as student of the month, dropped his gun on the way up. He is now suspended.

Tuesday, September 29, 1998

NY Times headline: "Older People Enjoy Sex, Survey Says".

In the 1950s Israel had agents go undercover as Arabs, some of whom took Muslim wives and had children. And then the program was wrapped up in 1959 and most of them left their Muslim wives and children.

Jiang Jemin, in a speech whose purpose was to show the continuing relevance of the Communist Party, praised if for having defeated the recent flooding (how, he didn't precisely say), comparing this victory to the one over the demonstrators at Tiananmen Square.

Faced with an odd reluctance to go into the military, the Russian army has been resorting to press gangs. Didn't Yeltsin promise to have the draft eliminated by just about now?

Saturday, September 26, 1998

Such a thing as too much participatory democracy

From the CA. voter's pamphlet: "If horsemeat is outlawed, only outlaws will eat horsemeat"

Friday, September 25, 1998

Today's quiz: the largest parliamentary constituency in the world is located where? Answer at the very end.

The NY Democratic party is running D'Amato's ads. They're running the ads depicting NY City as a shark-like parasite stealing tax money from good farming ads, which D'Amato is running upstate, in NY City, and the ads he's showing in the city, showing support for him by mayors Benito Guiliani and Koch, upstate.

I got a fortune cookie with a misspelling today. I'm not sure what it means: "You are very expressive and positive in word, act and felling."

Everyone seems to be taking as meaningful the meaningless statements by the Iranian government that it is not now a threat to Salman Rushdie's life. The US and British government see it as in their current economic interests to declare victory and move on, ignoring the fact that the fatwa still stands and that Iranian foundation hasn't revoked the price on his head ($2.5 million--what does it mean that the reward has always been in even numbers in American money?).

Answer: Western Australia, over one million square miles. It is represented by a racist.

Thursday, September 24, 1998

More thoughts on Cigargate

The Malaysian prime minister has deposed his deputy PM and had him arrested for sodomy. I wonder where he got the idea.

Tom Carson of the Village Voice wonders about the "cant that [Clinton's resignation] would be traumatic for the country--even though European leaders tarnished by scandal quit or get the boot pretty regularly, at no cost to democracy and a considerable gain in dispatch. Only the US treats its status quo, however, dismal, the way Doris Day treated her virginity."

Wednesday, September 23, 1998

Monica the dupe

The new Iranian president at the UN says that he wants cultural contacts with the US. And yet he seems pissed off at the forthcoming Radio Free Iran. His idea of an olive branch is to say how much he admires the Puritans.

I'm sorry, but if someone you're threatening with prosecution (Monica again) asks to see a lawyer, that's it, all questioning ceases. And the Starr inquisitors definitely have no right to suggest that any deal is conditional on her not talking with her lawyers.

It now seems that the prosecutors tried to get her to wear a wire on Vernon Jordan, and rather more interestingly that it was Linda Tripp who suggested that Monica contact Jordan to get her a job. This is interesting because the only tenuous connection between Whitewater and Monica was the alleged pattern whereby Jordan would get jobs as pay-offs for silence. Now it seems that this connection was actually created by Starr, acting through Tripp. Entrapment, in other words. Tripp also tried to get Monica to say that she wanted a job before she would sign a perjurous affidavit, surely a trap to get Clinton to bribe a witness into lying. Very underhanded, although there are plenty of prosecutors who will defend it as ordinary practice.

On a completely unrelated subject (wink wink), did you see where those Chicago cops found the real murderer (they say) after browbeating a couple of kids of, what was it, 6, 7 years old, into confessing in the absence of their parents or lawyers, and then realizing that little kids are unlikely to have also raped the victim? The cop that succeeding in getting the innocent to confess evidently has a reputation of getting children to confess, which is why he was brought in. Makes you wonder.

Tuesday, September 22, 1998

According to the NY Times, US intelligence inside Sudan was so terrible that it is now admitted that they couldn't have known, only "surmised" that the pharmaceutical plant made chemweapons on the side. Sudan supports or at least harbors terrorists, for sure, but there was a sort of institutional demonization of the country inside the US government because of previous warnings that Sudan planned to take the US, including assassinating Anthony Lake. These warnings were false, coming from agents who were taking CIA money and making up their reports (see Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana, John Le Carré, The Tailor of Panama).
Monica wanted a job in a PR company (she's certainly done great things for the reputations of every man she's ever been associated with) or George Magazine. Somewhere, John John is heaving a sigh of relief.

So the tapes were more boring than advertised. Which leads to the question, who did the advertising? Did Clinton's people leak the stories about him storming out and so forth, to make the actual tapes look anti-climactic? Even without that, and rather to my surprise, I came out much more sympathetic to the Big Creep than I expected. All the legalisms come across as justified, in context (well, most of them: the thing about not being alone with Monica is still a lie). The Jones case was about sexual harassment; only some aspects of his sex life were relevant to that case (if any), and he didn't tell them about the aspects that didn't, which were no one's business. This is why there was such a specific definition of sexual relations in that trial. If he actually made that case to the public, I think most of his PR problems would go away. No one could have missed the "sexual McCarthyism" of the questions, since the questions, rather than the answers, were what justified all those warnings about explicit content.

Most of the bits that the Judiciary Committee spent so much time arguing about redacting, were actually already in the Starr Report.

The rest of the world is laughing at us, but the rest of the world includes Egypt, where a court just ordered a female nuclear scientist and professor to bear children by her husband.

Monday, September 21, 1998

Happy 5759! No Y2K problem here.

Just saw the documentary on Angola Prison in Louisiana. I haven't seen so many people professing that god has forgiven them and hence everyone else should too since, oh, the last Clinton speech.

Henry Hyde was lying, according to the woman he had the affair with. Where Hyde says that he did the honorable thing and broke off the affair immediately after he was, well, caught, she says it was 2 1/2 years later. She also says he was also sleeping with other women and, less believably, that he told her he was not married. It seems she's not especially thrilled by their relationship of five to eight years depending on whose story you believe being passed off as a fling, a "youthful indiscretion" (a phrase that would have gotten Clinton's balls handed to him). D'you think all politicians are like this? I remember one of the early reactions to the Lewinsky thing, I think by Tom Carson of the Village Voice, was to wonder why Americans professed to find it axiomatic that power was more important than sex.

The Clinton Cabinet, the Post says, is indeed like America, in that its white male members are significantly wealthier than its minorities and women.

Bumper sticker seen on Highway 24: If you tailgate me I'll flick boogers at your windshield.

OK, in a few hours more we'll have a better idea of whether Clinton will resign, but it certainly can't be before this year's elections. Why? And I'm shocked at myself for not having thought of this before, and even more shocked that neither the NY Times nor the Washington Post seem to have either. The reason is that it has to be after January if Gore is to be able to run in 2004.

Remember that Israeli settler who last Thursday shot up a bunch of Palestinian high school students, killing one and severely wounding another? They let him out of jail for the holidays.

Sunday, September 20, 1998

New Statesman competition

From a NS competition in which biblical stories were to be retold as by a modern author. In most of these, to know the choice is not to need to read more. For ex., Noah as by Hemingway: "When the call came, the old man knew what he had to do..." etc. The loaves and fishes as by Irvine Welsh (the author of Trainspotting): "Faithless wankers! spat Jesus--Shut it and wait." David & Goliath as by Frederick Forsyth (Day of the Jackal): "The momentum of the quicksilver carried it forward through the front of the pebble, shattering it into 2,143 tiny slivers, sharper than glass; 2,081 failed to penetrate the skull, but any 27 of the remaining 62 shards would have been enough." My favorite, in the style of Arthur Conan Doyle:

In the third week of November a dense fog settled over the eastern suburb of Eden where my father Adam resided with his housekeeper Eve.
"Nothing of interest in the paper, Cain? The Eden criminal is a dull fellow. Since the death of the serpent, that Napoleon of crime, no problem has arisen worthy of my talents. But what do I see in this field? A corpse. There is a spirituality about the face which arable farming does not generate. I judge that he was a shepherd. Since you and I are now the only males in existence I deduce that it is my son, Abel. The death-blow was a heavy one that could only have been delivered by a man, and I know that it was not I. We may congratulate ourselves, Cain, on the resolution of a curious, and in some respects unique, case. From the first we were puzzled by the remarkable lack of possible suspects. When you have eliminated the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth. You, Cain, are the murderer."
"Wonderful!" I ejaculated.
"Commonplace," said Adam.

Saturday, September 19, 1998

Not unlike Clinton's semen-stain-in-the-shape-of-the-Madonna

NAPLES, Sept. 19-A flask of saint's blood appeared to liquefy today in the hands of Naples' cardinal, sparking immediate, impassioned debate among Italians over whether it was a sign of divine favor for the cardinal in a loan-sharking case.

Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

Friday, September 18, 1998

I see the Palestinians have opened their casino. Well, give them a reservation and they will act like Indians. Seems only fair.

The Republicans are insane. Who do they think they are, talking about ordering the FBI to investigate who leaked the Henry Hyde affair. 1) We do not investigate the free press. 2) The husband of the woman Hyde was fucking "leaked" the story, which is surely his to leak, end of story, full stop.

Margaret Cammermeyer, the lesbian kicked out of the Army National Guard who sued and won and was played by Glenn Close in the tv movie, has won the Dem. nomination for Congress in Washington state.

If anyone cares, which they don't, Congo-Kinshasa looks set to spiral into the African civil war to end all African civil wars, with half the continent's countries sending troops to one side or other, Angola because Unita is operating out of Congo and the Sudan in order to pay Uganda back for helping rebels in southern Sudan.

Monica had a pretty high security clearance. Of course she had that wonderful ability to keep secrets.

And the US claim some time back that Iraqi missiles had nerve gas on them turns out to be unconfirmable by any other country (France & Switzerland) that has tried to find the evidence.

Wednesday, September 16, 1998

As for the presidents and sex, oh sure you could name more (and subtract some of the unfounded gossip here, I'm afraid). But how many of them talked endlessly about the importance of the family. Remember that film made for the 92 Demo convention on Clinton's life that mentioned his alcoholic step-father but not his Rhodes scholarship? Of course in the last election those Republicans all supported someone whose most memorable line on family values was "I want out".

Tuesday, September 15, 1998

Monica thoughts

The Guardian notes that one of those phone calls Clinton may have been a little too, uh, distracted to give proper attention to, was with Alfonso Fanjul, the zillionaire sugar baron, a connection that was much more dangerous to the republic that anything Brillo Head was getting up to. Thank to import restrictions, Americans pay twice as much for sugar as we should, but what was particularly worrying Fanjul that day was that there was a suggestion that the sugar industry actually pay for some of the cleanup for its vast destruction of the Florida Everglades. Of course Fanjul was a major Clinton fundraiser, so that idea went nowhere.

Will Durst suggests that the real source of outrage in the media is that the Starr report was so detailed as to ruin their chances of selling a tell-all book, as it's all ready all been told. The disconnection in views between the pundit-industrial complex and the great unwashed has been described by David Corn in the Nation as an "umbrage gap". Learn that term and use it in all future conversations about this, because there is a real danger not only that we'll be setting the bar too high for politicians in the future, as most NY Times columnists have been suggesting as the worst long-time result of an impeachment/resignation, but that in a few months or a years when the last witches have been burned and the smoke is dissipating, and the monumental silliness of all this sinks in, it will be remembered, as Robert Harris of the London Sunday Times has put it, as a coup d'etat. Sorry about the length of that sentence.

Trust Clinton to form a committee of ministers to assist him in keeping it in his pants in the future.

I have a PC question: is it ok for a member of the masculine persuasion such as myself to call Monica a "ho", or is that acceptable only for women on Politically Incorrect, like nigger and queer?

Monday, September 14, 1998

Today's NY Times has an advertising section for the newspaper industry (y'know, like when Bahrain takes out 10 pages to try to stir up investment), featuring the following timely pull-quote: "A Texas expert in newspaper education believes that newspapers can be useful reading for a child beginning in third or fourth grade, although some teachers start as early as kindergarten."

Sunday, September 13, 1998

A quick reminder of some of the news no one is paying attention to: Serbia has now cleansed 1/4 of Kosovo's population, and Montenegro just closed the border. There are elections in Bavaria and Bosnia that might repay some attention. There are coups pending in Pakistan and Lesotho. Israel killed two Hamas leaders and has decided to keep their bodies as bargaining chips.

Saturday, September 12, 1998

Several Americans are seeking political asylum in the UK because in the US they are forced to pay for their own medical care. Eventually they'll be turned down, but the backlog there is as long as it is here so in the meantime they get free treatment on the NHS (these are mostly AIDS patients), accomodation and, oh yes, free legal aid to put forward their asylum claim. I wonder if I can apply for political asylum in Canada before my next operation, eh?

Starr's father was a fundamentalist minister who once delivered a sermon on the perils of women dressed in Bermuda shorts.

Friday, September 11, 1998

Well, I've read it. All of it, including the footnotes, which are funnier than the actual report. For example, "Ms. Lewinsky testified that she had multiple orgasms." I don't think anybody can read the report without asking themself one question: who would have blow jobs without ejaculating? I think we need another special prosecutor to get to the bottom of this important question. Monica does come across as quite the emotional blackmailer. More than emotional, I guess, since she wanted a cushy job as well. And Clinton with the cigar (Gallup polls show that 63% of Americans who have accessed the report simply did a word search for "cigar".) does not seem any more perverted than Starr in dredging out every last sordid detail, including the names of the Congressmen the Big Schmuck talked to on the phone while Monica did what Monica does best. The extensive coverage of their conversations seems intended to further either Monica or Kenneth the Menace's agenda of showing that it was a relationship, rather than just a sex thing. I can't believe Starr subpoenaed her psychologist.

It doesn't come to much, does it? Is there really nothing to say about Whitewater after $30 million? Starr's self-righteousness comes through when he counts Clinton's putting forth of perfectly credible (some of them) legal claims of privilege as further charges against him, and the refusal to testify voluntarily. Also, "The combination of the President's silence and his deception of his aides had the effect of presenting a false view of events to the grand jury." Reaching just a tad.

This is where having a different wife would have come in handy. Trying to protect your wife from your indiscretions would be a reasonably acceptable excuse if Hillary was more of a delicate flower than she is.

One interesting detail of the independent counsel law, as I understand it, is that all those aides and whatnots can have their legal bills picked up by the government, but only if Starr doesn't indict them. Not convict them, just indict them. Now that's too much power.

To sum up, the tortoise seems to have won this race. Starr was able to choose his forum and instead of the courts where most of the report would have been ruled inadmissable and he couldn't have made his accusations in this bombastic form, he chose to go to... the Internet, where it seems right at home. And somehow we're gone past censure to impeachment, which took on the air of inevitability for no really good reason. Even Paula Jones is somehow supposed to be vindicated.

Thursday, September 10, 1998

Chernomyrdin, taking his rejection well, compares the decision with the Munich pact.

The INS is currently detaining 16,000 immigrants, 11,000 in ordinary jails and prisons over which it has no control. Welcome to the US.

Helen Chenoweth (R-NRA), friend of the militias and enemy of fuzzy animals everywhere, who says that Clinton makes Nixon look like a saint (Saint Richard!), has been outed as an adulteress, after running ads linking her opponent with Clinton and saying that "personal conduct and integrity does matter", which is not only hypocritical but bad grammar as well. She defends herself by saying that she was single at the time, although he wasn't. Actually she was single by the end of the affair, but only because she got divorced after she began screwing around.

Dan Burton was evidently known back in Indiana for screwing everything that moved.


Bad Hollywood remake idea of the week: The Prisoner, starring Mel Gibson.

Wednesday, September 09, 1998

Independent Counsel Kenneth the Menace Starr?

In the shitstorm of hypocrisy that will follow the release of the report, remember: "We are the sum of the things we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be." (Kurt Vonnegut)

Back to school, and many districts now require see-through backpacks, exposing students to the ridicule of their peers for carrying last year's gun.

Kaliningrad (or is it Kalingrad?) declared a state of emergency today. Moscow told it that it couldn't do that, but one aspect of the breakdown of the Russian government is that the 89 regions are taking unilateral illegal steps like regulating prices. Meanwhile, Yeltsin, the invisible president, hasn't resubmitted Chernomyrdin's name, and Lebed says that if anyone wants him to save the day, he'd be happy to do so.

New York Magazine Competition. Oxymorons:

Fast Food
Franco-American Spaghetti
Smart ass
Common courtesy
Parental guidance
Rapid City, South Dakota
Sly Stallone
Internet access
Coach class

[NOTE: More New York Magazine competitions here.]

Tuesday, September 08, 1998

First line of a NY Times story: "Today might be one of those rare heady days for Russia's post-Soviet Communists, if only someone could say what a post-Soviet Communist is."

I started a thought a couple of days ago, got distracted and failed to finish it. I mentioned that Gerhard Schroder was courting the Germany gay vote. I meant to contrast it with the problem the CDU is having with replacing Kohl: the #2 man is a guy in a wheelchair. So since the Nazis, gays have been rehabilitated but not crips.

The WP runs an AP story reporting that California congressman Randy Cunningham has apologized for saying last Saturday during an appearance at a medical center that a rectal procedure he underwent during his recent treatment for prostate problems was "just not natural, unless maybe you're Barney Frank."

Monday, September 07, 1998

The next German chancellor Gerhard Schroder has been courting the homosexual vote.

There is one open homosexual in the Reichstag, a Green. What color do you get when you mix pink & green?

Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza have increased by 12.4% over the last 18 months.

As I understand it, there should soon be a new country. The newly elected government of Malta intend to invite the Knights of Malta back in. Now the Knights are currently a state with UN observer status in the same way as the PLO was, but without an actual country. But when they return, they get back their old Fortress, thus combining government with actual territory, making them an official country sort of like the Vatican, but smaller.

Sunday, September 06, 1998

The Tory party's attempts to save hereditary peers may have been damaged by Lord Joseph Philip Sebastian Yorke being caught selling cocaine in the House of Lords during the debate on the terrorism bill.

Said bill includes a provision which makes it illegal to plan crimes committed abroad, a move resisted for over 150 years by more liberal-minded MPs (the Emperor Napoleon III was pissed off that the bomb in an attempted assassination on him was made in England). The provision includes an exemption for MI6, so evidently there really is a license to kill.

McNeill-Lehrer, of all things, had an exposé no one else seems to have picked up, on those Iraqis the US first used against Hussein, and then tried to deport from the US using secret "evidence" they could not see. You will remember they hired a former CIA director as their lawyer, but even he couldn't see the evidence. Then 95% of it was declassified, and guess what, there really wasn't any evidence. The FBI mistook someone's tribe for a last name, used unsupported hearsay, and one agent told the judge that according to his long experience, Arabs just plain lie.

So Dan Burton has an illegitimate kid from an affair. That means two women have had sex with him.

Even if you take Chernomyrdin's economic plan seriously, it amounts to a massive tax forgiveness. First they will massively inflate the economy by printing money, and then later they'll crack down on taxes. Who wouldn't want to pay their back taxes with worthless rubles? The Washington Post today has a good story on the disappearance in the crash of South Korea's middle class, but it's the Russian middle class that has really been screwed. The poor barter, the rich had their money outside the country....

Thursday, September 03, 1998

Hurricane Earl. Finally a storm with an appropriately white trash name.

Clinton in Moscow: "a country that rebuffed Napoleon and Hitler can surely adjust to the realities of the global marketplace." Russia fought Napoleon and Hitler by withdrawing deep into its territory, poisoning the wells, destroying crops and so on. So Yeltsin's already made a pretty good start.

Tuesday, September 01, 1998

Dachau PR + giraffes in platform shoe

Palestine holds its first executions. Another state joins the elite death penalty fraternity, with Jamaica set to.

I haven't seen today's tv coverage of the Potemkin Summit yet, but when I do I'll be looking to check out my theory that Yeltsin had a stroke at some point. With no government in Russia, what can they have to talk about? If next month Clinton takes up vodka and Yeltsin takes up interns, I guess we'll know.

The United Kingdom was invaded today by the Kingdom of Arucania and Patagonia. I've read two articles in two papers about this (the Guardian evidently didn't find it newsworthy) and I still don't quite understand, except that some Frenchman was elected king in 1860 or so by some Indians who owned the Falklands, and today some Patagonians on a yacht raised the flag on the Minkies Reef and claimed the southernmost outhouse in the UK.

5,600 of Ecuador's 9,500 prisoners have served more than one year without a trial (which is now unconstitutional). Their protest has progressed from hunger strikes to sewing their lips together.

MGM is selling a walk-on in Pierce Brosnan's next movies for $10,000. Of course there is no guarantee against winding up on the cutting-room floor. No one mentioned it in the article, but the price might go up (or down) if it is realized that this is a remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, a 1968 or so film with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway known as being the first American film to feature open-mouthed kissing.

It has been announced that the prime minister of Norway is too depressed by the onset of the long northern winter to do his job. This is not the first time that this has happened in Norway.

Yesterday's testing by North Korea of a new missile, which overflew Japan, should perhaps be getting more attention than it has. The missile is actually intended to be aimed at Japan or more specifically at the US bases in Japan, so that in the event of another war, the US can be forced out quickly by North Korea inflicting damages in the form of a fast 20,000 casualties.

An interesting story in the London Times, for which some historical background is required. Fortunately, you have me to explain it. The British Labour Party has its origins in the Labour Representation Committee, formed something like 125 years ago. For the first few decades, the Labour party had no policies separate from those of the Liberal Party but existed simply to elect members of the working class to Parliament, who would bring their own experiences to bear on parliamentary debates, in the same way that Emily's List tries to get women elected today, in theory irrespective of their party affiliations. Eventually the Labour party developed its own platform. And now, the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union has formed a fund to elect working-class members of Parliament, because in 125 years we have come full circle and the Parliamentary Labour Party now contains only 13% former manual workers.

Saturday, August 29, 1998

As I predicted right off the bat, the Sudanese factory was probably not what the US said it was. Oops. Incidentally, soil samples from where? The land around it is evidently all paved.

And in the camp in Afghanistan, we killed mostly, well, those of in the big UC campuses should have expected this--foreign exchange students from Asia (in this case Pakistan). We've managed to push Pakistan further into Islamism, with the prime minister announcing a total shift to sharia law with mandatory five-times-daily prayer. Oh, and they have one of our intact cruise missiles now and are taking it apart. Fortunately, this one already missed its target by 400 miles, so they may not be learning anything all that useful. That's the thing about Afghanistan: chickens always come back to roost there. That was my first thought when I heard that foreign-financed terrorists were operating out of Afghanistan: boy, must the Russians be laughing up their asses at us over this one. The lost cruise missile (or maybe two) is like those stingers we gave to the Mujahadin and then spent years trying to buy back at inflated prices after the Russians left. And Iran is massing its army over the Afghan border because the Taliban seems to have taken a bunch of Iranian officials--yes, including embassy officials--hostage.

New game for reporters: figure out which Russian businessman seems to be giving Chernomyrdin and Yeltsin their marching orders this week and write an article calling them the new Rasputin. Hours of fun.

Not helping Russia any is that its chief foreign banker, Germany, is having an election in which another fat leader who way outstayed his welcome is going to be booted out.

Speaking of terrorist targets, Radio Free Iran begins operating in a couple of days. There would have been a Radio Free Iraq too but the US decided to operate it out of Prague without actually bothering to ask the Czechs whether they'd like this future ground zero in the middle of their capitol. Next to a nursery school. So it's been postponed a bit.

Britain is thinking about changing its law to prevent anonymous sperm donation.

OK, since the Church of England allowed the ordination of women, a lot of clergy have defected to Rome, but there's one whose wife is one of the new priests. And you thought Clinton's home life was a little frosty.

Speaking of which: cigars?

From the Sunday Times (London): "Eleven garden gnomes have been found hanged from a bridge in northeastern France in what appeared to be a mass suicide. Police at Briey found a suicide note in which the gnomes said they wanted to "quit this world" and join a "sect of the temple of submissive dwarves". The gnomes' origin remains a mystery: local gardeners report nothing suspicious.

Friday, August 28, 1998

If the lottery is a tax on innumeracy, what do we call Clinton's terrorism policy (I'd call it an anti-terrorism policy, but the US did drop missiles on Khartoum)? Some terrorists mount an operation probably costing a few thousand dollars to destroy embassies worth millions. So we respond by destroying a primitive training camp (barracks, tents and an obstacle course) worth thousands of dollars, at most, by dropping 50 or 60 missiles worth $1 million each on it. Surely a win-win situation, even at the loss of Terrorist University (watch out for the frat initiations, but the keggers are awesome, dude!). And this is the "war of the future," huh?

Let me be the first to say that chemical weapons are a bad thing, but I have yet to be convinced that the plant in Khartoum produced anything more than human and veterinary medicine. For a start, a fair number of westerners have been inside it and haven't seen anything untoward. And I'm getting increasingly curious as to the terminology being used--"precursors" to nerve gas? Does that not mean that we know damned well the plant was incapable of producing actual nerve gas and are so claiming only that it could have produced components of nerve gas, like any pharmaceutical, chemical, or paint factory in the entire world? Something like the airstrips in Grenada that could have landed Soviet Migs--or Canadian tourists? No, I suspect this was just added on as a justification after intensive focus group studies, just like Bush didn't start talking about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction until other rationales failed to produce high enough poll ratings. And because Clinton needed two targets to match the two embassies.

In the same way, I suspect this bin Laden character has been promoted, and probably promoted way out of his league, to Darth-Vader-of-the-year to put a human face on the Enemy.

The language I dislike most is the language of legality. I've heard several times, I think from both William Cohen and Madeline Albright (incidentally, one hates to give in to anti-semitism, but having those two fronting this policy doesn't really help a whole lot in the Middle East), that this was a legal action. What is meant by this? It is true that the 1996 Terrorism Act does allow the president to do literally anything against he wants against anybody he deems to be terrorists, which is pretty much the same as having no law at all, but it doesn't matter since these actions took place outside the boundaries of the US. So Sudanese and Afghan law should apply, unless we claim that the cruise missiles have diplomatic immunity, and I'm willing to bet there is nothing in the laws of either nation that says that other countries can bomb them, although perhaps the lawyers on this list will correct me. Recycled paper isn't even legal in Afghanistan, so I doubt missiles are. That leaves only United Nations law, which allows for self-defense. Which is what we're claiming, although normally revenge doesn't quite count. So we're claiming to have foreknowledge that bin Laden was planning lots more terrorism. Probably picked it up off his web site or something, since if we had such great intelligence sources, I suspect they'd have mentioned something about the embassy bombings in advance.

I suspect Helen of Troy was much more attractive than Monica, but did she give blow jobs?

Wednesday, August 26, 1998

Just heard the Boxer/Fong debate. Fong is playing the poor victimized Chinese card, which is a little bizarre to a Berkeley student. One-fourth of the debate was on Clinton's penis. Key phrase never to be used again: zero tolerance.

Clinton's response to calls for evidence about the Sudan plant: trust me. Yeltsin's response to the ruble crisis and the run on the banks: I'm in complete charge.

Yeltsin, by the way, has disappeared.

Thursday, August 20, 1998

Thu, 20 Aug 1998

Just read an e-mail, which I won't forward since it's too long-winded to be worth it, but someone having problems with a Microsoft product called up their support line, which charges money, and a lot of it, and doesn't necessarily refund it if they fail to fix the problem, and then called the Psychic Friends Network. A comparison showed that the latter was faster, cheaper, more courteous although, admittedly, the psychics didn't solve the computer problem either.

According to a newspaper story, Chelsea is the glue holding the family together right now. I can just picture it. "Chelsea, can you ask your mother to pass the ketchup?" "Tell your father to get one of his bimbos to pass the damned ketchup!"

Newt Gingrich has been awfully moderate this week. Do you suppose it was that lying-to-Congress thing and that fine he had to pay a while back? Is he still in hock to Bob Dole, I wonder? Now, here's a question. One way in which Gingrich lied was in promising not to orchestrate a spin campaign, which he then did. Now, with which other Congresscritters was he closeted that weekend, and are any of them calling Clinton a liar this week?

I know the first question a reporter asked the defense secretary today was whether he'd seen the movie Wag the Dog, but I didn't hear what the answer was. Now was the bombing because a vacation at Martha's Vineyard turned out to be an inappropriate follow-up to a national almost-confession, sort of like OJ on the golf course? Or was it to put a break in that line-up of Senators and such calling for his resignation, which I don't believe anyone has done since the bombs fell?

A chemical plant in the center of a capitol city. No, nothing dangerous in that choice of target, no sirree billie-bob.

Terrorism is just a license for anything we want to do, isn't it? Yesterday, the Irish prime minister announced a bunch of new measures which he described as draconian, for use against the Real IRA and such. That must be the only time I've heard someone supporting actions use the term draconian, as if it was a positive term. Britain, too, is talking about going back to the good old days of internment, conviction on the word of a single cop, supergrasses, further cutbacks on the right to silence, etc., that brought us the Guildford 6, the Bradford 4, etc etc etc.

Starr is still going to try to match up the semen stain. Is there anything probative in that after Clinton has confessed fucking her? Monica, by the way, is seriously put out because she thinks they had a genuine relationship which he is reducing to mere sex. Poor girl.

None of the people Clinton made lie for him have seen fit to resign. Who was the last person to resign on a matter of principle in this country, anyway? William Jennings Bryan?

Meanwhile, the Russian economy has collapsed and Yeltsin is showing more signs of dementia, and Congo-Kinshasa is about to erupt again, but wait, let's hear some more about that tie!

Tuesday, August 18, 1998

Some British tourists who were unsatisfied with their accommodations in Malta sued the company. The judge decided this needed to be looked into very carefully indeed, has just returned from Malta, and says their expectations were too high.

Words not used by Clinton in yesterday's speech-let: affair, sex, lie, sorry, apology, aardvark, semen-stained dress.

Quayle, the master of irony, said on Nightline last night that Clinton should resign.

Matt Drudge says that Clinton was wearing the tie Monica gave him yesterday.

Sunday, August 16, 1998

Clinton testifies. Whee. So where is the made-for-tv movies, already? And who should play Monica? I think we all fondly remember Sherilyn Fenn's ability on Twin Peaks to tie a knot in a cherry stem with her tongue, but I understand that Shannen Doherty has already gained 30 pounds in preparation for the role, a la Robert De Niro.

Speaking of crappy movies, the review in the NY Times of The Avengers, which was released without reviewers being allowed to see it in advance, was headlined "Shh, They're Trying Not to Be Noticed." I understand the movie could still make a profit if they just take out ads emphasizing the key's sole asset, which is that neither Uma Thurman in the catsuit nor Sean Connery under his kilt, are wearing any underwear.

Friday, August 14, 1998

The Union Bank of Switzerland, which conveniently lost its records of money deposited by Jews before and during World War II, spent years trying to collect the rather piddling sums it lent to British and other Allied soldiers who escaped from POW camps and arrived without money or food and unable to get their British pay.

OK, it was the Oakland City Council that deputized the cannabis buyer's club to make its activities legal, not Berkeley. What does that tell you?

The 9th Circuit rules that people on Medicare have constitutional due process rights not to have claims turned down without a reason giving and a hearing by those HMOs the Feds are trying to force everyone on Medicare into. The decision is sensible and obvious enough, which means it will be reversed by the Supreme Court, which hates sensible and obvious almost as much as it hates the 9th Circuit. The interesting part is the Clinton Administration's position, which is that the decisions of the HMOs aren't subject to court review because they are not the actions of government. This is where privatization leads us, to a world where the Constitution no longer applies to actions taken by people working for the government because those people are alleged to be private. I know there are privatized federal prisons whose managements claim not to be bound by federal rules on things like excessive force and not killing prisoners and stuff.

I'll say it again: just when I think I have no expectations of Clinton left to be disappointed, he manages to disappoint me. Who would have thought they actually didn't want to find any evidence of Iraqi "illegal" arms programs because it would mean, I don't know, all that paperwork, I guess.

Finally, according to the LA Times, Sharon Stone, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ellen deGeneres, Madonna, Andie MacDowall, and I forget who all else, are turning 40 sometime this year. Feel old, feel very very old.

Thursday, August 13, 1998

Some days ago, the Animal Liberation Front in Britain (come to think of it, I have one of their t-shirts somewhere) released 3,000 minks from a mink farm. The British papers have been full ever since of stories about how minks are really the most vicious animals on the face of the earth, and attack anything that moves. The locals are not happy.

Till dress us do part

Athens: A bride-to-be suffered a nervous breakdown the night before her wedding on the Greek island of Crete when she took friends to the couple's new home to see the wedding dress - only to find the groom wearing it and in a passionate embrace with his best man. The wedding was called off, an Athens news agency reported. (Reuters)

Wednesday, August 12, 1998

The Nevis referendum on independence from St. Kitts failed to win the necessary 2/3.

Hillary Clinton says that it's just anti-Arkansas prejudice fueling the attacks on husband Bill (if your idea of a good time is oral sex from the chubby much younger intern, you just might be a redneck) Clinton.

Sony accidentally invented and sold the #1 item on the wish list of teenage boys everywhere, the x-ray specs. Their camcorder's night vision filter (for filming sleeping babies and philandering husbands) can pretty much see through clothing in the right light.

Somebody from the Carter Center was showing a bunch of Chinese visitors how democracy worked by taking them along while he voted in the Georgia primaries. Where he was promptly refused a ballot in his own party, as they kept insisting he was a Republican. The Chinese, according to the Washington Post, were baffled. When it was finally straightened out, the guy voted in the Democratic primaries, in which there was only one candidate for governor. The Post doesn't say, but one presumes the Chinese were less baffled by that.

The Post has an article on welfare reform which says that a major cause of the shrinking rolls is not people being kicked off, but hurdles being put in the way of people ever getting on to begin with. Sometimes they get one-time payments, which may be all they need. Some are made to go after 40 job opportunities first, which may work. Oregon gives people one-way tickets to California, which works for Oregon. But mostly this has a sense of being number-mongering, that civil servants are now being made to go after lower welfare caseloads based strictly on numbers, in the same way that the lowering crime rate is partly based on police departments, under pressure to get those numbers, downgrading crimes, and of course Robert MacNamara's famous body-counts. A civil servant with a quota of people to screw over makes the spine shiver even more than "I'm from the government, I'm here to help." No one knows how many just give up when they realize there will just be more stupid hurdles endlessly. One civil servant saw nothing wrong with forcing people to rely on relatives, which should ensure that the really poor drag down the not-quite-so-poor.

Speaking of unfortunate relatives, Mark Thatcher, idiot son of Margaret, who made his money in illegal arms deals in the 1980s and security services in the US in the 1990s, has a new career: loan-sharking to the underpaid police and civil servants of South Africa, where he now lives.

Finally, for Bay Area residents: Channel 20's new owners are ditching the dogs. Boooo!

Sunday, August 09, 1998

Magic shoes

China hails sole survivor

Beijing: A Chinese soldier thrown high into the air when he stepped on a landmine near China's border with Vietnam survived unscathed thanks to the experimental boots he was wearing, the People's Daily said. A Chinese military university is testing the special protective footwear for mine clearers in the southwestern province of Yunnan, the site of thousands of mines left over from China's 1979 border war with Vietnam. (Reuters)

This story just baffles me. What sort of shoes are these? I'm picturing giant springs.

Friday, August 07, 1998

Fri, 7 Aug 1998

There's a story in tomorrow's London Times about a World War I soldier who got caught in a French town behind German lines and spent four years hiding in a cupboard.

Wednesday, August 05, 1998

Israel has banned the practice of posthumous circumcision.

A joint US/Russian military exercise that was supposed to involve a Marine landing at Vladivostok is halted, scared off by a bunch of old communists with red flags. Where is Tom Hanks when you need him?

Monday, August 03, 1998

Chanel no. 1

Daily Telegraph:
A ZIMBABWEAN man has been jailed for a month for bottling his urine and selling it as perfume.

Thursday, July 30, 1998

Evidently dead people who haven't already been circumcised can't get into Jewish cemeteries (perhaps this is only in Israel), unless, of course, someone circumcises the corpse.

Among the Chinese of Indonesia, the latest big fashion accessory is the chastity belt, in preparation for the next round of rape 'n' riot. There must be a good reason why this is a bad idea, or surely someone would have done it before?

Tuesday, July 28, 1998

The Vietnamese police official from the famous 1968 photo in which he executed a VC prisoner dies peacefully in Virginia, where he ran a pizza parlor, leading ineluctably to the question: what the fuck was he doing in this country all these years? This is why the US opposes a war crimes tribunal.

China has 30 times as many deaths per automobile as the US, 70,000 traffic deaths in 1997.

China reverses its ban on Amway. Not that these two stories are in any way related.

From an LA Times story: "Emmy Award-winning effects supervisor Ron Thornton said his best work last year was creating a computer-animated, 9-foot tall, three-legged alien for UPN network's "Star Trek: Voyager." But another assignment kept him tied up for a couple of days digitally removing armpit stains from an actor who had been perspiring heavily."

Iran hangs a Bahai for converting a Muslim.

A Federal judge strikes down NJ's law against pornography at the state prison for chronic sex offenders.

Stupid medical idea of the week: a company in Britain is charging 300 pounds for home paternity testing. Just send off a sample of the DNA from your alleged offspring and find out if you're really the father.