Sunday, December 31, 2000

Russia bans the Salvation Army. Because it
is an army. And therefore dangerous to national security.

Favorite book title of the week: Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood.

Thursday, December 28, 2000

There is a piece in Slate about the first count, by the Orlando Sentinel, of ballots in one Florida county. I'd have mentioned this days ago, but I expected it to get wide coverage instead of no coverage. They looked not at the undervotes but at the overvotes, and in a heavily Bush county. A lot of people evidently marked the ballot for Gore, then came to the bit for write-in candidates, and wrote in his name as well. What do we learn from this? That such a count even in a Bush county gives Gore an additional several hundred votes, so what must it be like in Gore counties? This was an optical scanner county, so he had votes to be picked up by a recount even there. And that even if we ignore the subjective aspects of the chads.... Gore didn't actually need them!

Salon, incidentally, is selling Re-elect Gore in 2004

Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Serbia, a little unclear on the concept, demands that the
UN clear ethnic Albanians out of the demilitarized zone in southern Serbia/Kosovo.

The tied Senate has meant that there are 17 Republican
senators in states with Dem. governors that cannot be given Cabinet jobs. So no Dick Lugar in DOD, no Richard Shelby at CIA and, thank God, no Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as Attorney General.

Speaking of racists, Salon has an article about John Ashcroft's connections with Southern Patriot magazine.

And the Washington Post has a piece (Wed.) on racial disparities in spoiled ballots in Chicago (one-sixth in Black districts, 0.3% in white). Up until 1997, people there could punch a "vote for all the Democrats" slot, so this is the first election where they had to vote for every single office. And the state Senate, with a Republican majority, prevented Cook County installing a device to alert voters to mistakes.

Saturday, December 23, 2000

His Fraudulency appoints Christine Todd Whitman to head EPA, ensuring that all of America looks like New Jersey. And John Ashcroft, a Pentecostal who lost his bid for Senate to a far better candidate, will head the Justice Department; he has vowed to stamp out abortion. And dancing.

Quote from a NY Times story: In the end, Professor Guinier said, Mr. Clinton "became more consumed with winning than leading," and was "such a good politician that he began to believe that in winning he was actually leading."

Thursday, December 21, 2000

An Israeli army intelligence general admits that there is
a shoot-to-kill policy operating against Palestinian guerillas. In recent weeks, assassination methods have included sniping, exploding mobile phones and exploding automobiles. In other countries, this would be called a death squad.

Guests at Madonna's wedding (hey, I look at a lot of British
media, you have to expect some of it to sink in) wearing kilts will have to be searched with mirrors, like tour buses at Checkpoint Charlie, to see that they are not smuggling in cameras.

Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Today is Secret Police Day in Russia. No, I didn't know either, but I guess it's a secret. To celebrate, whatever-the-KGB-is-called-this-week has released a CD. Not available in any stores, but the London Times bribed someone with booze and got a copy. The CD is called Their Work is Tough, They Call it Spying, and includes such hits as From Kabul To Washington, I Obey Orders, and There Goes Your Friend on a Mission.

In important British news, an analysis by linguists of nearly 50 years of the Queen's Christmas broadcasts indicates that her accent has become progressively more... common.

Elsewhere in Britain, 3 rapists are let off for a Christmas holiday before they serve their sentences, and a man who robbed a store with a toy gun is only given probation and ordered to apologize to the clerks with a nice bunch of flowers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2000

His Fraudulency (y'know, I'm getting tired of that faster than I thought I would) said when introducing his various minority friends it shows "that people that work hard and make the right decisions in life can achieve anything they want in America." Maybe, debatable, but how would he know?

He also joked about how life would be easier if he were
dictator. Well, one syllable out of three ain't bad, George.

That was my cheapest crack of 2000. The year 2000, not of 2000 cracks.

If Condi Rice is actually a lesbian, is she a threefer?

Bibi Netanyahu (which is definitely a more fun name to say even than Condaleeza) has failed to get everyone in Israeli politics
to roll over for him, so has (again) taken his ball and gone home. Shouldn't he be facing charges of corruption or something?

Thomas Friedman noted that at the Bush-Powell press conference,
George wasn't allowed to answer any of the foreign policy questions, and suggests that Powell is so strong, so respected, so, ya know, black, that Bush can't afford to overrule him or piss him off so he quits. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, although Powell's been overdoing the whole '80s revival thing: first Star Wars, then Iraq. Maybe we can invade Panama again, get our canal back. Incidentally, what does Star Wars have to do with being secretary of state, and shouldn't he shut up about it until a defense secretary has been picked? And speaking of that, Dick Cheney has been talking down Tom Ridge for the job, who the conservatives hate because he's pro-choice, and said that Ridge had turned down the job, which he had not in fact done.

Does anybody know anything about the judicial record of that hispanic guy who's going to be the next Supreme Court justice?

Saturday, December 16, 2000

Some Florida counties are talking about selling off their ballots as souvenirs. How much for a butterfly ballot on E-Bay?

In Britain, the Mirror ran a picture of the globe, with an arrow pointing to Britain and a headline "Congrats on becoming president... p.s. we are here."

I must have missed the part where it was explained why a general would be a good diplomat.

Thursday, December 14, 2000


Evidently when His Fraudulency went to the Texas legislature
yesterday to show how bipartisan he was, he "forgot" to invite almost any of the Democratic legislators to the event.

Speaking of dressing up mutton as lamb, it seems the CIA gave a new identity and a new penis to an SS lieutenant who commanded death squads in Treblinka in exchange for him spying on the East Germans. As you must have guessed by now, they turned him into a Jew, in more ways than one.

Wednesday, December 13, 2000


In his concession speech, Gore quoted Stephen A Douglas -- "Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism." And that holds true
as much today as it did in... 1860.

In his speech, His Fraudulency [and yes I do plan to keep calling him that for the next 4 years, like I intend to keep calling the next Chief Justice Antonin Scalia "Fat Tony"; the former comes from the Hayes-Tilden election, the latter of course from the Simpsons] quoted Thomas Jefferson. Bush quoting Jefferson is like a dog trying to sing.

And for this they pre-empted The West Wing?


All hail His Fraudulency, George Walker Bush.

OK, it was too much to expect the 2 justices with conflicts of interest to recuse themselves, but then the Republican party seems to be the party of conflict of interest this year. Sons in Republican law firms, wife processing resumes, cousin in the first news network to declare for you, campaign chair in charge of counting the votes, brother the governor. But to counter that, as the Daily Show pointed out, Al Gore's daughter works for "Futurama," so that's another whole can of worms.

The Supes didn't bother to rule the first time, stayed a count for no particular reason, and then issued a ruling 2 hours before a not-very-hard-and-fast deadline saying that there wasn't enough time. Rather like the guy who killed his parents and wanted mercy on the grounds of being an orphan.

I haven't thought much of the Supreme Court in years, but this was still disappointing. Not only did Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas suddenly discover the 14th Amendment, but intervened in a matter of state law in a way they wouldn't have done for other issues, or indeed had the Gore and Bush positions been reversed. It isn't just the partisanship, including Scalia's announcement on issuing the stay that Bush would probably win, an announcement of such a piece with Bush strategy that Karen Hughes might have written it, but the strong sense that they didn't believe the logic behind their own ruling, and didn't care.

So as we embark on the Failed Bush Administration (and I'm not only being bipartisan myself here, but bending over backwards--I started referring to the Failed Clinton Administration the day after election day 1992), let's remind ourselves of the questions Bush was allowed not to answer. To my mind, if we're going to elect someone with the power to declare war or push the button, we have a right to know everything we want to about him. I want debates next time held with polygraph machines (I had forgotten until this week that the polygraph and Wonder Woman were invented by the same man, by the way, a pop psychologist and bondage fetishist).

And Bush opened the doorway even wider by talking about "values" and "his heart" so often. Privacy is no longer an issue, if those are the standards. If someone wants to know whether he wears boxers or briefs, by god he should be made to answer. So, some of those questions:

--When did you take which drugs and how often?

--Do you really think you would have been given all that
money to start an oil business when you were in your 20s if it weren't for your connections?

--Did you fail in that business because you were drunk
a large portion of the time, or were you just incompetent?

--Were you arrested any other times?

--How often did you drive drunk with underage siblings
in the car (we know of at least twice)?

--Did you use AA to give up drinking, and if not, what
methods did you use and what methods do you use currently?

--Do you consider yourself to have been an alcoholic?

--Do gays go to hell?


--Catholics? (and we know that Billy Graham has
couched you to avoid this question by saying that it's not up to you who goes to hell, but that's not the question and you know it)

--What ever happened to Neil?

Sunday, December 10, 2000


A 5-4 ruling -- exactly what the Supreme Court had hoped to avoid, although its previous 9-0 ruling had also given a surreptitious assist to the Bush campaign's strategy of running out the clock. This was much worse, because it does look like a partisan ruling, because it indeed is one. Bye bye lofty moral superiority. Remember, this is the court that sometimes agrees to hear a death penalty case but not to stay the execution in the meantime. In this case, there are in fact good reasons to hear the Bush appeal, but no good reason to stop the recount in the interim, using up 2 days of the remaining 3. That decision looks purely partisan.

It also looks like the conservative justices agree with the Bush campaign that Gore actually won the popular vote in Florida, and would prefer not to have that fact known when they hand the election to Bush.

I just said that there are good reasons to hear the Bush appeal. What I meant, of course, was that there are good legal reasons.
The problem with such reasons is that they are hard to explain to the American people, most of whom have not undergone the process of stamping out all traces of common sense and logic in themselves in preparation for taking a civil service or bar exam. The Florida Supreme Court ruling Friday was indeed flawed, in that it failed to set proper uniform standards for counting the vote. I tend to think that this just counter-balances the lack of uniform standards inherent in the operation of multiple voting
systems (punch card, optical scanners, etc), but more of that later.

Equally questionable is whether screwing around with the rules after the election has taken place is legitimate, but since Florida law seems to have contradicted itself at key places (allowing a recount without allowing enough time for one), it also seems to have been inevitable. Whether the Florida Supes' decision was based on the US Constitution, the Florida Constitution, federal or state statute -- which is the primary point of contention between them and the US Supes -- is going to seem fairly irrelevant to people who haven't been to law school and just want the actual votes to be actually counted and then to actually count.

The last significant legal question into which the Supreme Court could legitimately insert itself is the 14th Amendment question of whether counting votes in different ways in different counties (and indeed some of the votes ordered included in the count by the Florida Supes would have been counted by different standards than other votes even in the same county). This is a troubling issue, but the fact is that the voting system in Florida, and in every other state that uses different systems in different counties, including California, already presents a 14th Amendment problem. If it didn't, we wouldn't be here because under-counting would affect Bush and Gore equally. It does not because the crappier older systems were in use in the poorer, darker-complected, more Democratic districts. All votes are not treated alike, because some have a 0.5% chance of being arbitrarily rejected, and some have a 7% chance.

We've been hearing from candidates in Florida and elsewhere who lost previous elections for school board or whatever by 12 votes and were denied hand recounts and treated as sore losers, who feel vindicated. Makes you wonder about other close elections, doesn't it? How much did Pete Wilson win by in 1990 anyway?

Friday, December 08, 2000

As I write, 2 of the Florida cases are announced. The integrity of the election is not compromised, they say. Oh, it's way too late for that.

Seen on CNN: someone holding a sign "Don't circumcise the vote."

So let the fight for place begin. A lot of this is going on below the radar screen, including the far right's attack on Tom Ridge, proposed as a possible secretary of defense, because he is pro-abortion.

Thursday, December 07, 2000

Rolling Stone admits that in his interview, Clinton did not call don't ask, don't tell a "dumb-ass" policy. Too bad.

To those who, asked to name any accomplishments by Clinton, named the Middle East and Northern Ireland peace agreements, please note that the second is going the way of the first, as I always said it would. 3 sectarian killings in recent days, 1 Protestant, 2 Cath. Gerry Addams blames government dirty tricks.

The New York school chancellor banned support of Boy Scouts because of the organization's homophobia. The right-wing Queens school boards are objecting. And this from a columnist in what the NY Times improbably describes as a chain of newspapers in Queens: "The idea that this appointed hack in Manhattan elected by no one is going to stick his dirty fingers into Queens..." In Manhattan I believe that term has a different meaning.

Finally, from the Telegraph:
Blind drunk in charge of a car

POLICE who were called to stop a drink-driver found that
the 33-year-old man they arrested was blind. The masseur,
who was three times over the alcohol limit, was reported after driving out of a blind school in Mainz, Germany. Police said: "He was going about 50cm at a time, then getting out and feeling around to see how close the car was to anything else." Hannah Cleaver, Berlin

Sign that man up as a Florida vote-counter.

Tuesday, December 05, 2000

The Supreme Court was obviously more concerned with not having a 5-4 ruling than it was with actually addressing the issues, which given the deadline is a decision unto itself. At any rate, despite the talk about whether there were federal issues, it
smells intellectually dishonest. But what hasn't, lately?

There's been a lot of talk about whether stepping aside gracefully is the sine qua non for candidacy next time, and I've been meaning to address this. My first thought was that if Gore lost now he had lost for good and might as well go back to journalism or seminary school. But of course whoever the party annoits is the next candidate, which means it will be Gore anyway. Which could mean that Gore could get to lose to Dubya twice, because 3 years from now, when the next election begins, the enthusiasm for a Gore presidency will make the Dole 96 campaign look in comparison like the Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan. "It's my turn" was a bad slogan four years ago, it'll be a bad slogan four years from now.

By the way, UCSC voted to keep the mandatory narrative evaluation.

Sunday, December 03, 2000

On the election, see the Washington Post on the differential rates of machine and other error in black neighborhoods, although it leaves out things like that laptops containing voter registration lists didn't go to those areas, although they had the highest % of new voters and hence problems, so many were turned away or got tired of waiting after an hour or so. Or the company hired by Katherine Harris to comb blacks out of the voter lists. See also the Miami Herald (, if you have better luck getting through than I did) which estimates how many people *really* voted for Bush and Gore.

It also seems that under the state's Sunshine Laws, someone will be able to sue for access to the ballots and do a real count a few months from now.

By my reading of the 14th Amendment, section II, if the Florida Leg. decides to disregard the election, the state of Florida loses all its representation in the US House of Reps.

Memo to the judge in Leon County: stop with the rocking already! And take control of your damned court. If ever there was a man watching the Bush lawyers run rings around him, trying to keep the case running forever, it's him.

The Russian Orthodox Church has named St. Matthew as the
patron saint of the tax police, those guys in the ski masks.

The newly-elected governor of the Kursk region of Russia, a communist named Alexander Mikhailov, hails his victory as a defeat for the world Jewish conspiracy and says it's time to rid Russia of Jewish filth.

This is not, it seems, the only time the election of a
Democratic president was (nearly) stolen in Palm Beach. JFK hung out there after his election 40 years ago this month. As did an old insane guy who parked outside the house he was staying in for 5 days in a car bomb, waiting to get him alone, away from wife and baby. Was stopped for a traffic violation first. No, I never heard of this before either.