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.