Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Ask not what her country can do for Gwyneth Paltrow...

www.stopabductions.com for instructions on building a helmet to screen your thoughts from aliens. And it’s fashionable too.

As predicted, the Israeli Election Commission has barred one Palestinian MP (so far) from running for reelection, while allowing Jewish nationalist Baruch Marzel (successor to Meir Kahane) from a banned party to run.

Philippines prez Gloria Arroyo has received a message from God not to run for reelection.

WaPo on Reagan administration efforts to get close to Iraq by selling it weapons and components of its chemical warfare program. Same old stuff, maybe a bit more detail. I’m sure any day now the UN inspectors will kick in the door at Dow Chemicals and forcibly remove its scientists for questioning. Mark Russell said we know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction--we’ve got the receipts.

I can’t figure out if there is an actual policy towards North Korea. Rumsfeld threatened them with war, Powell threatened them with long boring negotiations. One article said that the Clinton admin assumed that the NK government was irrational while the Shrub admin assumes it’s a rational actor, or maybe it was the other way around, because I don’t see how either view is reflected in actual policy. Others think the Bushies aren’t worried about NK because its government is bound to collapse--just any day now--and the US will put pressure on its neighbors to put pressure on it to ensure that. Worked so well with Cuba. The argument that you don’t negotiate with people who continually go back on their word is a sound one, of course, except 1) the US is in no position to make it, both in general and because the North Koreans have some reason to argue that the US isn’t keeping its end of the 1994 deal, 2) principles are great and all, but if the Dear Leader would give up nuclear weapons in exchange for a blow job from Gwyneth Paltrow or whatever the hell he wants, maybe we should just put a big red bow on Ms. Paltrow and parachute her into Pyongyang in the interests of large numbers of people not being turned into charcoal. All the American talk about not giving them anything in exchange for bad behaviour is especially worrying because it seems designed to back the Northies into a corner: they must not only give in, but be shown to the world as giving in, to the might and majesty of the United States of America.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Under a law passed in Israel in May, and unreported in the American or British press until today (you read about it here on May 1st, but it really was a coincidence that I happened across it while looking for something else in Ha’aretz), the Knesset can bar members and parties that deny that Israel is a Jewish state. Currently, it is trying to expel all 3 Arab deputies and bar their party from next month’s elections. The party’s leader is being prosecuted (the Knesset stripped his parliamentary immunity, natch) for arranging to reunite elderly Palestinians with their families in Syria.

Speaking of horrible crimes, there’s been an incredible amount of condemnation of a weird-ass cult’s claim to have cloned a human. The pope, to name one, said that this act, which at worst created a new human life, was a sign of a “brutal mentality.” In other news, Israel shot dead an 11-year old yesterday, and a 9-year old the day before that, and not a fucking word was said about that.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Negative effect

Not that you’d know it, but there was a large-scale round-up of Muslims in this country last week. They were told to go in to INS offices to register, and many did not come out again, like those scams where the police call up wanted felons and tell them they’ve won a prize. This is presumably not something you’ll find in those propaganda films the State Dept is trying to show in Muslim countries. A high number of these round-ups were in southern California and the local Iranians were pissed off. (This is from a story in the LA Weekly). The Justice Dept flew in a rep to talk to the Iranian community, and to threaten them with the “negative effect” of protesting the mass arrests. “It makes other people think you don't want to be here. I think we need to look at what is the impact of open, glaring challenges to our system."

Also, Middle Easterners on student visas, including 2 at Kevin’s university, have been put in jail for carrying too few units.

Israel conducts a number of operations looking for “wanted Palestinians.” Can’t have wanted them that much, since they managed to kill a bunch of them (plus the usual innocent bystanders). Must be a Christmas thing: they bugged their parents for months for some Hamas Action Figures, get them, immediately break them, and now they’re playing with the boxes.

Sorry ‘bout that.

Israel is also announcing free-fire zones around Jewish settlements. Or to put it another way, they’ve just seized a lot more land.

The Israeli soldier who shot the 95-year old has actually been punished: 65 days in jail. Well, in a military prison, which I gather tend to be very cushy.

Iran has suspended stoning as a punishment.

One of the pleasures of the NY Times is its reviews trashing horrible movies. Read the review of Pinocchio.


Guardian columnist John O’Farrell asks if British troops, instead of being sent to war in Iraq in order to help GeeDubya get re-elected, couldn’t just be sent directly into marginal states to canvass for Republicans. “Instead of blowing up Baghdad, the RAF could just blow up thousands of red, white and blue balloons.”

The 5 Japanese kidnapped by North Korea have finally denounced the NK government.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

No government can go about sucking blood of its own people

43% of new Congresscritters are millionaires. In 2000, it was 1/3.

Here’s something I didn’t know: in Alabama, January 20 is both the federal Martin Luther King holiday and the state Robert E. Lee holiday.

WaPo for US national security defends defending the torture of Al Qaida and Taliban suspects, including handing them over to Egyptian or Moroccan torturers--nothing I didn’t mention months ago, but it’s nice to see it in the Post. And the quotations are horrifying, so this is a must-read. The paper notes that sleep deprivation, one of our methods, is denounced in the annual State Dept reports as a method of torture when other countries do it.

There’s also a story in the Post about how in 1969 Nixon tried to give the Soviets an incentive to hurry North Vietnam along at the negotiating table by putting US nuclear forces on alert, essentially threatening them with a nuclear war, as part of his “mad bomber” strategy. I’m unclear why this is news, since I knew about it 20 years ago, I think from an essay by Daniel Ellsberg.

Speaking of mad bombers, no one seems to be making anything of it, but Rumsfeld threatened North Korea with war a couple of days ago. He said that the US can indeed conduct two wars at the same time, so Iraq won’t stop us taking them on too. Does anybody else think that threatening war--especially threatening possible nuclear powers with war--is becoming entirely too routine, so much so that this one didn’t even cause the tiniest of stirs?

Monday, December 23, 2002

Analyzing their poo

Chester Trent Lott in an AP interview: “A lot of people in Washington have been trying to nail me for a long time. When you're from Mississippi, when you're conservative and when you're a Christian, there are a lot of people that don't like that. But I fell into their trap and so I have only myself to blame.” Ah, so the whole 100th-birthday-party-for-Strom-Thurmond thing was actually a cunning Liberal trap, going back to 1902, to nail Trent Lott.

Lott spread the blame a bit: he also attributed his fall from grace to a plot against the great state of Mississippi and of course to God. “God has put this burden on me and I believe that he'll show me a way to turn this into a good.”

The Lott thing has finally made one news source, the New Republic, write about the racism of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, as I have in the past on several occasions, but somehow the man rejected by the Senate for a district court judgeship under Reagan for his racist actions and words slipped past the media into the Senate in 1996 by the clever expedient of shortening his name to Jeff Sessions. And now he’s on the judiciary committee.

Lott has of course been replaced by Bill Frist. Am I the only person who imagines the R Senators singing “If I only had a heart doctor”? I’m telling you, the irony of this thing is ridiculous. Here’s an extremely disturbing comment on Frist’s qualifications by Lamar Alexander on today’s McNeil-Lehrer: Well, let me tell you a very short story to answer your question. Imagine ten years ago, a 40-year-old young physician having dinner with his family here in Nashville, gets an emergency telephone call, goes out to the airport, gets in his own plane, flies to Duke, to the medical center, cuts the heart and lungs out of a dying person, puts it in a plastic bag full of ice, puts it back in his plane, flies back to the Vanderbilt University heart transplant center, which he founded, and goes into an eight-hour surgery procedure to place that heart and lungs back into another dying person who then lives. Now, if you understand that, and a man who then gets back to his young family the next morning about 12 hours after he left, you understand about 75 or 80 percent of who Bill Frist is.”

And Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-Way Down South in the Land of Cotton), the guy who made the comments about Cynthia McKinney giving him segregationist feelings, has repainted his lawn jockey white.

Iraq invites the CIA to send agents--openly--into the country to check on arms. Where’s the fun in that?

The US has dismissed the offer as a “stunt.” No, juggling chainsaws is a stunt. GeeDubya trying to speak a coherent sentence is a stunt.

Iraq has also welcomed the first international group of voluntary human shields. Sadly, they do not include Sean Penn.

Speaking of omissions in the Iraqi arms dossier, the US cut 8,000 pages out before handing it on to the non-permanent members of the Security Council. The US did that, not anyone working for the UN.

The AP yesterday became the first media source I’ve seen actually to question the laughable claim by the US that Saddam intends a “scorched earth” policy, noting that no evidence for this assertion has been given. The article also says that US radio broadcasts into Iraq, currently trying to get soldiers to desert, says that when Iraqi POWs were returned after previous wars, Saddam ordered their ears be cut off. This is a lie.

Remember when the US accidentally bombed some Canadians in Afghanistan in April? It turns out that the pilots were on amphetamines. Why? Because the Air Force told them to. Evidently this is standard.

There is no room at the Bethlehem Inn. It has been commandeered by the Israeli Army. Another paper reports that every Palestinian living under constant curfew in Bethlehem has but one dream: a visa to the US. Talk about no room at the inn!

The Catholic Church in Boston demands that all sex abuse cases be dropped on First Amendment grounds. I really must go over the New Testament again.

Best headline of the week, about Kenya’s elections, in the Guardian: Après Moi, the Delusion.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

More than Winona Ryder ever did

There’s a piece in the NY Times on how subtly Bush managed the removal of Trent Lott, without leaving any fingerprints. Unless you count that front-page story. Oh, or last week when Bush publicly called Lott’s remarks un-American, which was the moment any political commentator with half a brain knew that it was all up. Is there a way for me to suggest that Bush being able to reshape the leadership of another branch of government is a bad thing without actually getting Lott back? If so, sign me up.

To quote a disgraced British celebrity you’ve never heard of, At least I’ve paid for my slips, which is more than Winona Ryder ever did.

What I enjoy is that so many of the Republican Senators who wanted Lott gone disliked his sudden death-bed conversion to affirmative action and the King holiday. Lott was now too liberal on race for his colleagues.

The Daily Telegraph says that incidents in which US troops have been attacked in Kuwait have been covered up. Also, the Kuwaiti government has been cracking down on people who denounce the American presence there.

Bad news: the show Friends has been renewed. This is bad because it lessens the pressure on NBC to renew the West Wing.

The Post has a story on a Dallas suburb that has banned toy guns (if toy bans are banned, only toy criminals will have toy guns). And in Israel, the Orthodox owner of a toy-importing company removed all the pigs from a farmyard model.

A while ago I asked who was supposed to give asylum to those Iraqi scientists & their families the Bushies want abducted, since the UN can’t given anyone asylum. The Post says that the inspectors have been talking about this with the last country that should be seen to be involved in this, the US. And amazingly, the US is refusing to promise that it will offer asylum. Or rather, it won’t give it to anyone who says things the US doesn’t want to hear, like that Iraq has no weapons of MD, only those who follow the US line. Subtle, huh? The article also says that the US will give Blix a list of scientists they want interviewed: in other words, a shopping list of people Bush wants gift-wrapped and put under his tree.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Trent: don’t let the burning cross hit you in the ass on the way out

www.re-date.com will tell you how many seconds, minutes, etc you’ve been alive, how many people have born and died in that period, how far light would travel or your fingernails grow if you didn’t cut them.

At the UN, the US vetoes a condemnation of Israel for killing 3 UN workers. The US said the resolution was one-sided. No, it condemned everyone in the Middle East who has killed UN workers, which is a perfectly legitimate thing for the UN to do. The US is also against demanding that Israel comply with the Fourth Geneva Convention (i.e., stop targeting civilians).

Colin Powell has announced he won’t issue a Middle East peace plan because he doesn’t have one. No, actually he said he wouldn’t release it before Israeli elections, which suggests either 1) the US will tailor its plan, not to basic fairness, but to what flavor of fascists dominate the next government of one of the two sides, or 2) they want an election to occur without having basic facts before it.

American Samoa reverses its ban on Arabs. Samoa is semi-autonomous, but the ban was bound to be reversed when the US press finally noticed it, a mere 4 months after it was implemented (I didn’t know about it either).

A Guardian report on Ole Miss, where Trent cheer-led and certainly didn’t foster hatred, says it’s now 13% black, although his old frat sure isn’t. The Confederate battle flag has been removed from the University flag, but the marching band still plays Dixie--the black musicians routinely refuse to play along.

I’ve been meaning to mention something Lott said in one of those apologies. He said that he personally practiced affirmative action, that he had hired blacks on his staff. The thing is, his office has refused to release actual numbers, so what Lott evidently meant by affirmative action wasn’t that he hired blacks at or above their percentage of the population, but that he hired blacks AT ALL.

I still say the most frightening thing of the whole Lott affair was how the “liberal media” and politicians waited for permission from conservatives before reporting Lott’s remarks. A story in the Guardian notes that the story was brought to attention and kept alive by the bloggers.

Against the wishes of all 140 other nations in the WTO, the US blocked a deal for cheaper drugs to poor countries. Dick Cheney stepped in to overrule the US trade negotiator.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Every paper today has “leaks” from the US government that Saddam intends a “scorched earth” policy in event of war. None of the papers suggest that these attempts to put the blame in advance for power plants, water purification plants, food depots, etc., blowing up on Saddam rather than on the US would insult the intelligence even of a member of the Bush family. This really has to be the lamest disinformation exercise yet, but by god it works.

An op-ed piece in the Times points out that Bush has yet to issue a single pardon or commutation and says that this is bad for the notion of rehabilitation. The article does not mention the fine work Bush has done in placing so many felons--some of them issued with pardons by his father--in charge of American foreign policy. Indeed, asked about John Poindexter, Bush said that he “has served our nation very well.” Unfortunately, he didn’t serve any of his six-month prison sentence.

The Memory Hole website has been tracking the amazing disappearing website of the Total Information Awareness office. Its creepy logo has now vanished from the site, following its motto and the biographies of its officials.

Speaking of websites, TomPaine.com has offered $10,000 for the name of the Senator who put in that provision shielding Eli Lilly from lawsuits.

The US’s propaganda aimed at Muslims (see how well we treat them in the US? We allow them to drive taxis, so how can you think we’re anti-Islamic) have been banned from Lebanese tv on the grounds of being total shite. And, from the booklet being put out under this program in Indonesia, these fun facts to know and tell: number of mosques in California: 227; number in New Hampshire, Maine and South Dakota: one each. There is no mention of the four most famous American Muslims, Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan or Mike Tyson.

From the Telegraph: A teacher who killed a pensioner after trawling the internet for information on death and torture was jailed for life yesterday. Two days before stabbing Dennis Cottrill, 71, who was out for a walk, Thomas Clark, 30, logged on to the Ask Jeeves website to ask: "What sentence would I get for stabbing somebody in an unprovoked attack?"

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Brad Pitt creates a sense of inferiority among Asians

Joe Conason at Salon notes a deal between CSX, the railway company formerly headed by John Snow, the new Secretary of the Treasury, and the Carlyle Group, the evil Republican conglomerate I’ve talked about before, a deal that was threatened by the dock conflict until Bush ordered the dockers back to the jobs they’d been locked out of. Also, Snow got CSX to give him a new contract last year whereby he’d make a bundle if he left for...a government job.

Malaysia bans a series of Toyota ads from tv, saying that ads featuring non-Asians create a sense of inferiority among Asians. The ads star Brad Pitt.

A town in Switzerland, Meilen (pop. 11,500), tried to establish apartheid, banning asylum-seekers from certain parts of town, and not allowed to gather in groups in other parts. They had to back down. Did I mention the area is the German-speaking part of Switzerland?

And American Samoa banned Middle Easterners.

Medical break-through: a man’s liver is removed from his body, given radio-therapy, and then reimplanted, without the radiation endangering his other organs. Pretty cool.

Last time, I mentioned a scandal in the Likud party primaries, which like the Lott scandal raises the question, where the hell were the American newspapers? The Israel story is two weeks old, and nothing before tomorrow’s NY Times. This story fails to mention that one of the new Likud candidates is Sharon’s son. This is doing major damage to Likud’s reputation in advance of next month’s elections, but not enough damage. The next Knesset will therefore be full of criminals and their relatives, who bought their way in with cash and hookers. And in a separate scandal, the guy who assassinated Rabin says that he had been heard talking about the need for Rabin to be assassinated by the head of the religious-settler party Molodet.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

My actions don't reflect my voting record

I had the best sort of jury duty today, the type where you don’t have to show up (and, indeed, drive 18 miles through the rain to do so). And I’d washed my Cat in the Hat t-shirt and everything.

The Russian claim that a Chechen leader in his 30s died in prison of “natural causes” might be more credible in a week other than one in which a Russian colonel charged with murdering (and probably raping) an 18-year old (or 17, depending on which paper you read) Chechen woman will be released because he was “temporarily insane.”

In Canada an Indian chief says that Hitler was justified in “frying” the Jews. What’s a PC person to do?

The SF Weekly published the address & phone number of John Poindexter, head of the Total Information Awareness program. (301) 424-6613. 10 Barrington Fare in Rockville, Md, satellite photos of which are available online at http://cryptome.org/tia-eyeball.htm. Woops, that site is 404.

Women discovered in the Afghan city of Herat are often arrested and subjected to gynecological tests, and they are banned from driving. In Kabul, the Taliban’s old Vice and Virtue thugs are now called Islamic Teaching, and still harass women wearing makeup. But they can still fly kites, right?

Yesterday saw Trent Lott’s fifth gig of Apologypallooza 2002, on Black Entertainment Television, which may be the first time I’ve ever watched that channel. Let’s just say he’s not getting better at this over time. Now Clinton, that man could apologize. Trent may well have been on drugs. “My actions don’t reflect my voting record,” he said, which I think means that because he’s hired a couple of black staffers (incidentally, his people refuse to release the actual number), we should ignore his attacks on affirmative action and voting rights. Although he does now claim to support affirmative action and the Martin Luther King holiday. But the most moving part came at the end:
A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a slave, and, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore, saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was? It was a little negro, in a crate that he had sent all the way from Texas, black and white, spotted, and our little girl Tricia, the six year old, named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, loved the negro, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it.
(By the way, if you’ve never read the Checkers speech, do so now).

That information in the Iraqi report that was censored? Germany had the most companies which helped Iraq, followed by the US. A German newspaper got hold of the original--the speculation is that this was an American leak designed to embarrass the German government.

I never got around to mentioning the Likud primary a week ago. Sorry ‘bout that. The hard-line Netanyahu supporters all won, of course. The primary is a non-electoral thing, but it is determinative: voters in Israel vote for a party, not a candidate, so who becomes a Knesset member is determined by their position on the party list. Evidently, the people who got to vote on the 8th did so by paying for the privilege. This time, many turn out to be criminals trying to exert pressure on the party to secure pardons.

www.raptureletters.com. See, after the Rapture, when all the good little boys and girls have been taken up to Heaven, there’ll be all these people wondering what happened. This site will send them an e-mail the Friday after the Rapture, explaining it to them.

From the Daily Telegraph: Iran's moral police arrested a barber in Isfahan who gave young women short haircuts so that they could pass as boys and go out without covering themselves, the Kayhan newspaper said.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

The one with the bigger brain

Other people have given thought to the question of What Would Jesus Drive, and it seems there is evidence. In St. John’s gospel, Jesus tells a crowd, “For I did not speak of my own Accord.” Bumper stickers on the Honda include “My other car is a flaming chariot,” “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased because he was an honor student at Galilee Elementary. The Bible also says that God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Evil in a (Plymouth) Fury. At least they bought American.

The Post mentions that the lack of news from the war on terrorism last week kept the focus on Trent Lott. Of course if it had been Cheney or Bush in trouble, the weapons of mass distraction would have been turned loose.

Gore says he won’t run for president again, although he doesn’t address the deeper issue of whether he will ever appear on a comedy show again.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Once more, without feeling

I watched Trent Lott make his 4th “apology” on C-SPAN today. And why not a 4th? If Arnie can make another Terminator movie, Mel another Mad Max movie and Sylvester another Rocky movie, why can’t Trent return to the scene of his former triumphs?

Naturally, it looked about as sincere and believable as his “hair.” He mouthed the words he had to mouth, but, like Rock Hudson in a Doris Day movie, didn’t exhibit any of the sentiments that should have been behind them. Nor did he seem to understand the importance of the issue, rather like Cardinal Bernard Law talking about paedophelia--and hey, Bernie, don’t let the choir boy hit you in the ass on the way out--he doesn’t understand why people are getting worked up about it. Paul Krugman’s column in the Friday NY Times suggests that The Republicans present two faces: their national leader pretends tolerance, like Shrub yesterday, but display their real attitude by keeping around people like Lott and by appointing those judges. Krugman notes that Bush didn’t follow up his rebuke of Lott by calling for him to step down. Like Bernie Law, he’d like to forgive Lott his sins and go right on with business as usual.

R’s use a lot of coded words that the media never bother decoding for the rest of us. I don’t know if I commented during the 2002 elections how often Bush mentioned to R audiences the need to get a R Senate in order to confirm his judges. They knew he meant abortion, I assume the reporters knew it too, but no one ever translated it.

Still, the Cardinal and Kissinger stepping down in the same day ain’t bad. Trent would be gone too if Mississippi didn’t have a D governor.

Russia bans the use of any alphabet but Cyrillic for languages within its borders. Evidently Chechens, Tatars and other separatists have been moving towards Latin script.

The CIA (motto: assassinating Fidel Castro since 1958) has been given a list of terrorists to kill.

Speaking of not learning from past mistakes, the US has called for early elections in Venezuela. Hey, once you support a coup, you really don’t have a right to say anything about elections.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Party like it's 1948

The official, official mind you, Mississippi Democratic Party sample ballot for 1948. It says that a vote for Truman is a vote to ban lynching and the poll tax, so true Democrats should vote for Strom Thurmond.

In one of his interviews, Trent claimed not to remember who the Republican was that year, and couldn’t be drawn on whether Truman or Thurmond would have been the better president.

I’ve been trying to track a hint I heard today that when Trent Lott was president of his fraternity at Ole Miss, at the time James Meredith was trying to integrate it, he led an effort to keep his fraternity segregated nationally. My websearch turned up something more interesting: during the riots, his frat was raided by the FBI and military, because it was stockpiling weapons (that ain’t in the Time magazine story).

Today Bush finally called Lott’s comments offensive, while using an executive order to allow federal contracts to go to organizations that discriminate on the basis of religion.

Seattle has now made it illegal to film up women’s skirts, so plan your vacations accordingly.

Interesting case of cannibalism in Germany. What makes it interesting is that the perp, a software specialist, found his victim, a chip engineer, online. And I don’t mean he lured him, I mean the victim volunteered to be eaten, responding to an ad saying, “Wanted: young, well-built 18-30-year-old for slaughter.” He has since placed the ad again, getting 5 new volunteers, but the police intervened first. Those crazy Germans, huh?

Man bites crocodile: a businessman went swimming in Malawi, was attacked by a croc and escaped by biting it.

Click here.

If we'd elected Dewey, we wouldn't have had all these problems

Coincidentally, the US has released its new military strategy, which involves nuking Iraq if it uses chemical or biological weapons.

Joining Kissinger on the 9/11 Coverup Commission, retired Sen. Slade Gorton. Wasn’t he the guy that really hated Native Americans? And Mitchell is out, and Trent Lott is trying to keep Warren Rudman off, because he might be a wee bit independent and we can’t have that.

Contrary to what I said last time, the Iraq disclosure will be censored, so that we won’t be told what Western corporations sold military-use equipment to Iraq. I was really looking forward to seeing the name Haliburton, and maybe the Carlyle Group, etc.

Trent Lott clearly made a big mistake by speaking the way he did. I mean by apologizing, because the media and god knows the Democratic “leadership” ignored his racist comments completely until then--which is actually pretty frightening; this could quite easily have continued to be ignored. I mean, he was interviewed by CNN right after that speech, and wasn’t even asked about the “slip of the tongue” (like a 61-year old white Southern politician could accidentally make such a remark without understanding its implications). Anyway, this may even prevent him retaining his leadership position, although it would have been better if it hadn’t occurred right before Christmas and the, ya know, war and everything. FAIR gives a bit of his history with the race issue (as does Joe Conason at Salon, although highlighting different things): Of course we now know he made exactly the same comments about Thurmond in 1980 (the Daily Show says in Lott’s defense that he only does this sort of thing every 22 years--he’s like the Halley’s Comet of racism), but he also sponsored restoring Jefferson Davis’s citizenship, pushed Reagan to give tax-exempt status to Bob Jones University (and filed a friend-of-the-racist brief with the Supreme Court in which he argued “racial discrimination does not always violate public policy”), voted twice against extending the Voting Rights Act, once against continuation of the Civil Rights Act, fought the ML King holiday, lauded the Council of Conservative Citizens (who have a website now, check it out), etc etc.

Speaking of Trent Lott, the Supreme Court heard a case on cross-burning today [I am the king of segues, bow down before me!]. Several of the Supes seem literally incapable of telling the difference between a symbol of violence, and actual violence. Souter said, “The cross has acquired a potency that is at least equal to that of a gun.” Tell that to someone who’s been shot. Scalia said blacks would prefer to see a rifle-toting man in their front yard rather than a burning cross. I’m guessing not so much. Clarence Thomas, who actually spoke out loud in the Court, said that the burning cross was a symbol of oppression during “100 years of lynching”. That would presumably be the low-tech kind. And obviously not very efficient, if it...takes...one hundred...years...to... OK, maybe that joke is trying too hard. Or not hard enough. Personally I’d only accept a very, very carefully written ban, and Virginia’s isn’t good enough. Wonder what Trent would think? He’s the guy who argued to the Court in 1981, “To hold that this religious institution is subject to tax because of its interracial dating policies would clearly raise grave First Amendment questions.”

Bush is implementing logging rules that were rejected by Congress. I must have missed hearing about the suspension of the US Constitution. According to the Post, “The new rules will decrease, from 200 pages to perhaps only one page, the amount of environmental impact information needed to approve clear-cutting projects in some areas.” Ironically, this means that there is now only 1/200th of the need for clear-cutting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Discarded toupees of the past

A couple of quotes about a moron Republican president: he devotes his public life to translating a complicated world of public affairs he barely comprehends into those values he never questions. Like much of America, he contained contradictions, but never experienced them.

About Reagan, but there is a certain familiarity, no?

Lott’s embrace of Strom the racist as well as Strom the man has finally made the NY Times, as he issues a non-apology apology, which says he doesn’t embrace the discarded policies of the past. Not the “wrong” policies or the “racist” policies of the past, just the discarded ones. Jesse Jackson has demanded he resign. I’d go further and demand that Tom Daschle resign as well, for this comment on Lott: "There are a lot of times when he and I go to the microphone and would like to say things we meant to say differently, and I'm sure this was one of those cases for him, as well." Salon has tried to get comments from Joe Lieberman, Nancy Pelosi etc, without success.

Bush is evidently working on a plan for prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients--but only if they move from fee-for-service to HMOs and pay higher fees for doctor visits. Shame.

Today’s NY Times has headlines at opposite ends of the front page, one about the US being the first to get the Iraqi report, the other that a judge lets Cheney keep his energy policy contacts secret. Transparency is for other people. The judge, a Bush appointee, fancy that, used to be deputy for Kenneth Starr, when he had a very different set of ideas about the level of privacy due to the White House.

Incidentally, the Iraqi report will contain the names of the Western companies that helped it build up its weapons inventory. Expect some familiar names.

So the new secretary of the Treasury is to be a railroad executive. Yes, railroads, the model for the American business of the future. Well, CFX is the largest railroad company in the East, and I guess its fierce competitiveness did manage to drive into bankruptcy United, the largest company selling travel on those new-fangled flying machines (it’ll never catch on). Snow is one of those executives who benefitted by his company lending him money to buy stock in the company, and then forgiving the loan when the stock plummeted (a practice since made illegal). It must be nice when your actions or incompetence have no personal consequences whatsoever. It must also be nice not to have to pay taxes, like CFX (see the report from the Citizens for Tax Justice).

Speaking of United, is it really the function of the federal government to be engaged in screwing employees, refusing to give the company a loan as long as its mechanics and pilots are making above minimum wage?

Salon reminds me of the most famous Iran-Contra-hearings quote from John Poindexter, now head of the Total Information Awareness program: “to the best of my knowledge, I can’t recall.” I guess knowledge isn’t power, after all.

Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?: The Bush admin is thinking of defining membership in Al Qaida as a war crime for the purposes of its military tribunals. Guess that takes care of that whole “finding evidence of a crime” problem.

The US will spend $92 million for 6 Iraqi opposition groups which share our values, including the Movement for Constitutional Monarchy and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (which is based in Iran). Because the world needs more monarchs and more Islamic revolutions. Can’t have enough of them.

We are also going to sell arms to the vicious government of Algeria.

Georgia Republicans are planning a law to make women intending abortions (called “executions” in the bill) to go to court to get a death warrant. Then a guardian would be appointed for the fetus, who could demand a jury trial....

From the Telegraph: A vicar has apologised for giving a sermon at a children's carol concert in which he told them that Father Christmas could not "scientifically exist". Parents said they were horrified after the Rev Lee Rayfield told the children, some aged three, that Father Christmas and his reindeer would "literally blow up" if they had to deliver all those presents.

Monday, December 09, 2002

What Would Mohamad Do?

The river of insane “reality” shows continues. Starting next week, a show in which ex-minor celebrities go on blind dates. First up: the guy who played Eddie Munster. Next, on Fox, will be one of those shows in which 20 gold-diggers compete to marry a millionaire. The twist this time: he’s not really a millionaire, he’s a ditch digger, but the women are told he just inherited $50 million. Hilarity ensues.

Speaking of signs of the impending apocalypse, Elliott Abrams is now in charge of Middle East policy. I had really hoped that Iran-Contra would have finished his career in public service forever. But in those days I underestimated the willful amnesia of the American people, and now the government is full of Bush the Elder’s co-conspirators. That willful amnesia means not only that nobody remembers who that smug little prick was and what he did (and you can look it up if you don’t either), but that it didn’t even bother the Bushies that putting people like him, Negroponte, Reich, Poindexter etc into these positions would bring up all those never-answered questions about Bush Senior’s role in Iran-Contra and the sleazy pardons after he had been defeated for reelection. It’s also an insult to Congress that all those people convicted of lying to it in the past should be given any sort of job. Still, Congressional undersight is such these days that none of these people have actually been called on to testify about anything, even Poindexter over his plan to spy on every American.

The Americans who don’t have amnesia are Southerners, who remember a rosy past which never actually existed. Like Trent Lott, who astonishingly has not been hounded out of public life for his rhapsodizing last week over the joys of segregation and how we’d all have been better off if we’d let Strom Thurmond sort out the nigras, or words to that effect. Slate’s Today’s Papers says the major papers have devoted only one story to it, in the Post. Joe Conason at Salon says the NY Times hasn’t even reported the words, which I did last Friday.

What if they held a presidential election and no one came? Well, in Serbia they just held their third attempt at one, and once again failed to make the 50% turnout required for an election to be valid. It was raining. Some democracies fail due to economic collapse, some during wars, and then there are those which can’t handle a bit of water, like suede. Well, to be fair I understand it was raining really quite hard. Maybe next time they should trick the Serbs into voting, you know, tell them there’ll be a good old-fashioned ethnic cleansing at the town hall, then when they come, tell them it’s been cancelled but as long as they’re here...

Do you think if I submitted that idea to the Carter Center they’d offer me a job?

Saw a book of I guess you could call it British social history in the new books section at Doe Library yesterday — “Mud, Sweat and Beers: A Cultural History of Sport and Alcohol.”

Iraq’s report was not supposed to go to UN Security Council states without being vetted first by the inspectors (what that means is that Syria is currently on the Sec Council, and they didn’t want it knowing how to make weapons of mass destruction), but somehow the US is already receiving a copy--it promised to do all the xeroxing--under some sort of deal under which only the 5 permanent members get it.

Well, I don’t know if Mohamad really would have married one of the Miss World contestants, as that journalist suggested, but the King of Swaziland, already in some trouble for having kidnapped a 17-year old girl to be one of his wives, has plans to do the same for his country’s entrant when she returns home.

Saturday, December 07, 2002


Kevin has sent in the following complaint:

I'm afraid you're losing it. Consider the way you began a sentence:

>GeeDubya is seriously thinking ...

Webster’s defines serious as “requiring much thought or work”. In Shrub’s case, anything at or above the complexity of tying his shoelaces requires much thought or work. The Oxford Shorter Dictionary adds this definition: significant or worrying in terms of danger or risk. Well, whenever Dubya tries to think...it’s serious.

Remember three months ago, the Bushies put out “evidence” of new building at an Iraqi nuclear site? You’d never know it from the news reports, but that was one of the sites visited by the inspectors this week. There was nothing there. And Bush was not taken to task for its earlier hysteria. Remember this on Monday or whenever they claim that they have evidence that the Iraqi declaration was a lie. Oh, right, it may not be that early because Blix doesn’t intend to hand it all over to the US right away, and boy are they pissed off.

The NY Times, commenting about Clinton’s remarks this week that the right wing control talk radio, says that the D’s have a “yammer gap.”

Friday, December 06, 2002

The hunchback in the belfry had jumped and was swinging madly on the rope

The WaPo says that Homeland Security won’t be getting raw intelligence. And we already knew it wouldn’t be able to set intelligence priorities or collect intelligence. This makes it official: the agency will be completely useless. But very expensive.

To the list of small power grabs and politicization of the government, add the Bush move in keeping a seat on the Federal Election Commission reserved for Democrats vacant until the day after it had completed its work of writing regulations to ensure the emasculation of campaign finance reform.

The Catholic archdiocese of Boston is thinking about declaring bankruptcy, as always asking the question, What Would Enron Do? (That joke from the Daily Show)

Old times there are not forgotten: Here’s a frightening thought, from Trent Lott: "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

I think the Bushies must be getting desperate, worrying that the excuse for Gulf War II is slipping away, buried under 13,000 pages of “disclosures.” The desperation can be seen in the shrill, badly thought-out demands for Iraqi scientists and their families to be abducted from Iraq and offered asylum in exchange for information. First problem: the UN can’t give asylum, only a nation can, and who do you think the US has in mind, and what does it look like if the UN abets that? Second: this is supposed to be in order that the scientists don’t feel intimidated. As opposed to the comforting feeling people usually get when they are forcibly removed from their countries and given the third degree. Third: if you give them a large enough bribe, of course they will say that Iraq is lying about weapons--whether it’s true or not.

GeeDubya is seriously thinking about putting a tiny web-cam on his dog, to show off the White House Christmas decorations and what goes on under Oval Office desks. Clinton thought about doing the same with Monica Lewinsky but thought better of it. The Bush family have a strange relationship with their dogs. You’ll remember Millie from the first Bush administration, the dog who has written more books than Shrub has read.

The Japanese have calculated pi out to 1.2411 trillion places. This is of no practical value whatsoever.

Everything the Israelis said about their shooting of a British UN official a couple of weeks ago turns out to have been a lie.

I mentioned that the US is forcing Singapore to permit gum (with a doctor’s prescription). The man responsible is Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill [i.e., Wrigley]), who I’ve never heard of either. Previously, those smuggling in gum were subject to a two-year sentence in prison, where presumably they were given something else to chew on.

Via the Guardian, extracts from the Literary Review's Bad Sex prize, for crap sex scenes:

The winner

Tread Softly by Wendy Perriam (Peter Owen)

She lay back on the bed while he positioned himself above her, then she slid her feet up his chest and on to his shoulders - Mr Hughes's shoulders. She closed her eyes, saw his dark-as-treacle-toffee eyes gazing down at her. Weirdly, he was clad in pin-stripes at the same time as being naked. Pin-stripes were erotic, the uniform of fathers, two-dimensional fathers. Even Mr Hughes's penis had a seductive pin-striped foreskin. Enticingly rough yet soft inside her. The jargon he'd used at the consultation had become bewitching love-talk: '. . . dislocation of the second MTPJ . . . titanium hemi-implant . . . '

'Yes!' she whispered back. 'Dorsal subluxation . . . flexion deformity of the first metatarsal . . . '

They were building up a rhythm, an electrifying rhythm - long, fierce, sliding strokes, interspersed with gasping cries.

'Wait,' Ralph panted. 'let's do it the other way.' Swiftly he withdrew, arranged her on her hands and knees and knelt above her on the bed. It was even better that way - tighter, more exciting. She cupped his pin-striped balls, felt him thrust more urgently in response.

'Oh yes!' she shouted, screwing up her face in concentration, tossing back her hair. 'Yes, oh Malcolm, yes!"

The shortlist

The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru (Hamish Hamilton)

Luckily the asha dulls Pran's senses. The experience is still painful, like having a fallen log hammered up one's backside with a mallet, but at least it seems to be happening at one remove, the pain-messages arriving at his brain like holiday postcards; brief, belated, and mercifully unenlightening about the sender's real feelings. His head has been pushed down into the dusty black bedclothes, so he cannot see the purple face of the man toiling behind him. He is aware, however, that the pounding is punctuated by a rhythm of buttock-slaps and regular full-throated hunting cries. As the major's excitement mounts, 'tally-ho!' gives way to 'On! On! On!', and the bed groans with the effort of maintaining its structural integrity.

Godchildren by Nicholas Coleridge (Orion)

This was so wrong, it was all so wrong, but Mary's strength to resist was ebbing away; she was like a tiny meteor drawn into the orbit of some great planet. 'Don't fight it,' Marcus murmured. 'I can make you happy again. Trust me, Mary. I understand how you're feeling, I can heal you if you allow me.' Slowly he moved her face towards his until their lips met. She was surrendering; even as she struggled against him, she felt her powerlessness.

He scooped her up in his arms and carried her to his bedroom, still stroking and caressing her, and lowered her on to a vast bed, its sheets turned down in readiness on both sides. Very slowly and gently, he undressed her, covering her white skin with kisses while he caressed her back. To her complete astonishment, she felt herself becoming aroused.

'Shhh, shhh . . . ' Marcus was brushing her breasts with his fingertips, all the time shushing and stroking her like a groom reassuring a frightened foal. The palms of his hands were moving all over her now, stroking her buttocks, her pubic bone. She shuddered when he gently parted her legs with both hands because it felt so good and she was so wet. Waves of guilt coincided with her orgasm; an extraordinary release of emotion washing over her like breakers across a tide barrier.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Bloomsbury)

Sometimes when I climbed on top of the Object she would almost wake up. She would move to accommodate me, spreading her legs or throwing an arm around my back. She swam up to the surface of consciousness before diving again. Her eyelids fluttered. A responsiveness entered her body, a flex of abdomen in rhythm with mine, her head thrown back to offer up her throat. I waited for more. I wanted her to acknowledge what we were doing, but I was scared, too. So the sleek dolphin rose, leapt through the ring of my legs, and disappeared again, leaving me bobbing, trying to keep my balance. Everything was wet down there. From me or her I didn't know.

I turned the light off. I pressed against the Object. I took the backs of her thighs in my hands, adjusting her legs around my waist. I reached under her. I brought her up to me. And then my body, like a cathedral, broke out into ringing. The hunchback in the belfry had jumped and was swinging madly on the rope.

Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke (Bloomsbury)

Inside the Nova, with the windows blotted out from the fog of our breathing, Christy was naked from the waist down, sitting on my lap, her black parka zipped up her chest, and that little diamond on her ring finger. The sun had set on the Kingston bus station parking lot and we were making love, her vagina soft, silklike, encompassing, while I warmed up her feet by massaging them with my hands. Grace, the cat, was still sitting undisclosed beneath the passenger seat of the car.

There's something about the feeling of snorting cocaine till your brain freezes and you weep 'cause you can't fall asleep that I enjoy - it's a fear of death or an awareness of life - and there was something about being near Christy, kissing her, feeling her wetness, that touched the same pulse, only with her it was the opposite of poison. It was more like some ancient healing elixir.

'Can you say all that stuff again?' Christy breathed above me.

'What stuff?'

'About how you want to get married?'

'I'm not sure I can remember it.'

Christy snarled, stopped moving, and tightened her vaginal muscles around me.

'I'm never gonna love anybody more than I love you,' I said. 'So the question is: Do I believe in love?'

'Yes, you do,' she answered for me, excited. 'You do.' She moved her hips again and continued to fuck my lights out.

I thought of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, the story goes, knew the instant he heard the name Adolf Hitler that he had brushed up against the reason he was born. He had been living his whole life with this nagging sensation that he was waiting for something, and the moment he heard that name the feeling subsided into nothingness. He had arrived.

Now it's different, and to me it was shockingly humble, but there with my girl in my arms and our child in her belly I knew I had reached the moment my life had been waiting for. I was going to be a father and a husband.

I spanked her bottom and cranked up the tunes.

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (Canongate)

Sugar pretending to seduce an invisible man, begging him in a voice almost hysterical with lust. 'Oh, you must let me stroke your balls, they are so beautiful - like . . . like a dog turd. A dog turd nestling under your . . . ' Your what? Shush had such a good word for it. A word to make you wet yourself? But Caroline has forgotten the word, and now's not the time to ask.

(Passage 2) 'Yes, oh yes,' she whispers, and embraces the small of his back to take more of him inside; she kisses him tenderly; their sexes are cleaved together; they are one flesh. A swirl of cloud folds around their conjoined bodies like a blanket as they drift through the balmy waves of eternity, borne along, like swimmers, by rhythmic currents and their own urgent thrusts.

'Who would ever have thought it could be like this?' she says.

'Don't talk now,' he sighs, as he shifts his hands down from her shoulder-blades to the cheeks of her behind. 'You're always talking.'

She laughs, knowing it's true. The pressure of his chest against her bosom is at once comforting and arousing; her nipples are swollen, her birth passage sucks and swallows in its hunger for his seed. On a great flank of cloud they roll and wreathe, until her passion rushes through her body like a fire and she thrashed her head from side to side, gasping with joy . . .

Shroud by John Banville (Picador)

Halfway through our slow-motion love-making she squirmed out from under me and made me turn on my back, and flipped herself upside down and lay with her belly on my chest and took me into her mouth and would not let me go until I had spent myself against the burning bud of her epiglottis. Then she swivelled right way up again - such an agile girl! - and balanced the length of herself along me, a sprat riding on a shark, and for a second I saw Josette, with her bobbed hair and upturned small breasts, smiling at me in the fish-scale light of Hendaye, and something went through me, needle-sharp, that was surprisingly like pain.

Behindlings by Nicola Barker (Flamingo)

She was now all but naked, except for an old-fashioned bra (which looked like it was made from a combination of cream-coloured tent fabric and some coordinated boot-laces) and a pair of loosely-fitting, almost contemporaneous (1920s? '30s? - what did he know of historical trends in female undergarments?) cami- knickers. The knickers hung off her hips revealing . . .

Her body was hairless. She was white as a maggot. Her breasts - inside those hockey-shoe-lace-cricket-white contraptions - Oh shit - deliriously full and slack . . . . . . The tangle . . . . . . Then his teeth were pulling too, but only very gently, and the laces were dampened and the ancient moth-smelling, cricket-pad, English-lawn- green-wax-rubbing cotton and the flesh just to the left of it- and to the right of it - and the damper flesh, pinkened by the pressure of fabric just under -

The tightness . . .

They were suddenly on the . . .

Tiles hot below the scrape of pale and the knickers loose as butter-fabric slipping with the ineluctable pleat of . . .

Five fingers each with . . . She had five fingers and they had that pressure-warm-push-and-determined force of . . . of . . .


Busy as any kind of sharp-nosed wild white woodland creature you might care to mention in the ice-snow-cold of winter with the searing-hot-scarlet of . . . of . . .

Snow Fox!




Arthur Young - Man of History - lay there, pulsating, whipped and panting, eyes without irises purple-flowering, calm as a log split and crashed into the moss-sodden forest of infinite languor, while she bit and tunnelled and dug him over.

Dorian by Will Self (Viking)

In one fluid movement Herman rolled forward on to his knees, grasped Dorian by the shoulders, and kissed him. Such suction. They were like two flamingos, each attempting to filter the nutriment out of the other with great slurps of their muscular tongues. Adam's apples bobbed in the crap gloaming.

White Mice by Nicholas Blincoe (Sceptre)

After a long while, when the pattern of her breath has let me think she is asleep, Louise says, 'It's a boat.'

'Not a boat.'

'It's a boat and the covers are the sails.'

'It's not funny, Louise.'

'Little pearls inside oyster shells.'

'I'm not, Louise.'

'You are. I can feel you. Put it inside me.'

She can feel me: the eye pushing through the fly of my underpants. She even presses against it, the softness of her bottom dissolving as she keeps up a slow, slow pressure. The cotton of my underpants first gives and then tightens, sliding to become a tourniquet around a bare neck, the artery gulping in fear beneath the skin.

'We can't do this, Louise.'

'Shush, baby. You're already inside.'

Only by a millimetre, less than a millimetre. But a soft muscle seems to pop out of place inside her and before it readjusts I am all the way through. It's just like we are back on our boat bed again, and we are making waves. As she rocks, the waves pass from her skin across mine. And soon the waves have their own momentum. We aren't doing anything, only letting them slip through us in warm trembles . . .

Her little belly shimmies under my touch, more waves that push my hands up to the sealskin tips of her breasts and down to the spiral of her navel. The movement breaks us apart and, before we lose ourselves, brings us back together. Louise is riding on top of me. The hard thing between us isn't really a penis any more, it is something that holds us together: something that she needs to push against the swell.

(passage 2)

There is a flip-down table below the cabin window, mounted on hinges on a bracket only ten centimetres wide. It is just large enough for Louise's bottom. She perches there, her back against the steamed-up glass, her arms and legs wrapped around me. I stand, buried deep inside her, my hands on her thighs and my nose in her hair. The cresting and falling of the train does half the work, not all; we keep stroking in together, stroking away, stroking back. When our orgasms come, it's like a naked electric cable dropped into a fish tank.

Wild Ginger by Anchee Min (The Women's Press)

He leaned over and said, 'Take off your shirt.'

'No. Why?'

'I hunger only for you.'

I began to laugh. 'Go chew Mao quotations! Fill your stomach with them. Come on! Chairman Mao teaches us. . . '

'"A thousand years is too long, seize the moment."' He grabbed me. 'Chairman Mao also teaches us, "A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."'

'Chairman Mao again teaches us' - I put down the buns and wrestled with him - '"The situation must change. It is the task of the people of the whole world to put an end to the aggression and oppression perpetrated by imperialism."'

He went wild. '"If the US monopoly capitalist groups persist in pushing their policies of aggression and war, the day is bound to come when they will be hanged by the people of the whole world."' I could feel my body blooming. I was unable to continue the reciting. 'Don't you stop, Maple! Show your faith in Chairman Mao! Demonstrate your loyalty! Page one hundred fifty-six. "Speech at the Moscow Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties." Come on now!'

'"It is my opinion,"' I began, '"that the international situation has now reached a new turning point."' I stopped, my thoughts suddenly scattered - the pleasure was too overwhelming.

'Go on, Maple, go on. "There are two winds in the world today"' - he caressed me, his hands cupping my breasts from behind - '"the East Wind and the West Wind. There is a Chinese saying, Either the East Wind prevails over the West Wind or the West Wind prevails over the East Wind."'

We were breathless. He insisted we continue reciting. I tasted his sweat as I went on. '"It is characteristic of the situation today that the East Wind is prevailing over the West Wind. That is to say, the forces of socialism have become overwhelmingly superior to the forces of imperialism. . . "'

Our bodies came together again. . .

He groaned, 'Oh! Chairman Mao!'

Thursday, December 05, 2002

You mean Bigfoot isn't real?

US Marines in Kuwait went on full alert when something in Arabic was left on a military vehicle. It turned out to read, "I love you forever. Your beauty is incomparable." The poem was not intended for the Marines, sadly. Too bad the military fired all those gay Arabic-language students, they’d have gotten a thrill out of it.

The Bush admin has reinstated bonus pay for political appointees, a policy revoked after abuses in the last days of the last Bush admin. Since the total fund for bonuses won’t be increased, this is a direct transfer of money from career civil servants to Friends of W. Blatant cronyism.

Speaking of Friends of W., aid to the far-right Colombian government is to go up, including $100 million to protect Occidental Petroleum’s pipeline. I’m sure taxpayers will get a substantial discount at the pump in exchange for their largesse. Interestingly, Colin Powell completely failed to get Colombia to give US soldiers, some of whom are deployed there, with more to come, exempted from the International Court.

The Greenlandish (Greenlander? Greenlandonian?) elections suggest that Greenland may soon throw off the shackles of oppression and colonialism, and declare itself independent of Denmark.

Astonishingly for a government that keeps shrilly insisting a terrorist attack can come at any time, the Bushies have decided to withhold for several months money that was supposed to go to local police and emergency services for anti-terrorism programs. Given the lags on other programs to shore up security of ports, power plants, computers etc, I think we need a really good conspiracy theory to explain why the Bushies keep talking about terrorism but are acting as if they know the threat is not real.

By the way, what’s the story with the guy who tried to bring a brick onto a plane?

LA Weekly on Bush’s “war on the condom,” including information on Tom Coburn, the homophobe Bush named as co-chair of his AIDS advisory committee. And the executive director of the Council is one Patricia Ware, who worked for a Christian AIDS advocacy group (i.e., no sex allowed). Other appointees to the council include no one with HIV and no scientists, but a lot of campaign contributors and Christian-right condom opponents. The article also talks about other appointments and policies targeting any sex ed. based on science, while killing AIDS funding and anti-AIDS drugs for the poor at the same time as abstinence-only education spending will go to $135m.

No matter what the Bushies say, Kissinger is required to disclose his clients if he works on the commission more than 60 days a year.

The man behind the hoax that created the legend of Bigfoot in 1958 has died. He has left very big shoes to fill.

100 years of Strom Thurmond. In fact, he will never die, because neither God nor Satan want the man anywhere near them.

Sharon has laid out his idea of a Palestinian state: demilitarized, its borders and air space and foreign policy controlled by Israel, holding just 42% of the West Bank and 70% of Gaza, an Israeli veto on its leadership (which is what rejection of Arafat as leader effectively means).

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Weirdly, he was clad in pinstripes at the same time as being naked

The Tom Toles cartoon for 12/3/02 is a lovely illustration of the cell phone thing I mentioned in my last email.

For the ultimate in tackiness, www.vivalasvegasweddings.com

Joe Conason says that one of Kenry Kissinger’s clients was Unocal, which hired him to get the Taliban recognized as Afghanistan’s legal government, part of the oil pipeline deal. Of course, connections with oil companies should be enough to suggest a huge conflict of interest. But then the whole point of his being chosen was to whitewash Saudi involvement in terrorism in the run-up to Operation Desert Whatever. Incidentally, the Bush argument that he didn’t have to name his clients was in part based on the fact that investigating the worst intelligence fuckup in US history is evidently only a part-time job.

Slate on what it turned out to mean when Bush declared war on terrorists with “global reach.”

Stupidest technology of the week is a tie:
1) the Pentagon’s efforts to microwave people.
2) a robot tattooing machine (there’s a picture).

The British Tory party, which is not doing well, has appointed a “Commission for Democracy” to “rejuvenate politics and restore the credibility of politicians.” So they appointed the producer of the “reality” show Big Brother to it. Suddenly Kissinger looks like a good choice.

The coveted Bad Sex in Literature award has been handed this year to Wendy Perriam’s Tread Softly. Key sentence: “She closed her eyes, saw his dark-as- treacle-toffee eyes gazing down at her. Weirdly, he was clad in pinstripes at the same time as being naked.”

Yesterday the UN inspectors went to a gin factory, today they went to one of Saddam’s palaces. They do know they’re supposed to be looking for weapons, and not the gift shop, don’t they?

The Israelis, having already shot dead a 5-year old terrorist this week, have today, in some sort of Guinness Book of World Atrocities thing, killed a 95-year old terrorist. They also destroyed a World Food Program warehouse holding 537 metric tonnes of food in Gaza. They also killed a 68-year old deaf man, I guess by blowing up his house. Incidentally, they did that in retaliation for the guy’s son, an Islamic Jihad member, allegedly ordering a suicide bombing...in 1996. The Israelis are running out of targets. And yet I suspect it won’t stop them.

Russia is finally joining the modern age. 3 of the hostages in the Moscow theater siege, and relatives of 5 of the dead ones, are suing the city of Moscow. The Cold War is finally over, and the lawyers have won. The government has hitherto offered nearly $3,000 to the hostages it killed, and half that to the ones it only almost killed. Speaking of the theater siege, have you noticed we never heard another update on how many people died? 127 at last official figure, but, what, no one lingered on for a few days and then croaked? And weren’t there 100 or 200 people never actually accounted for, but obviously dead, who never made it onto the official figures?

Monday, December 02, 2002

Mayberry Machiavellis

I just like the phrase.

The Supreme Court will hear a case this week in which the Bush admin will defend police who shot a guy 5 times (he is now blind and paralyzed) and then questioned him in an ambulance and the ER while he screamed for medical treatment. And didn’t even recite Miranda. The Bushies want to gut the Miranda ruling. The cops didn’t want information about a crime, there wasn’t one, they wanted him to say he’d tried to grab the cop’s gun before he was shot, and use this in any civil suit.

FAIR comments about a remark of Rummy Rumsfeld that the press never picked up, on his abortive attempt at a domestic spy agency: "And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence. You may recall that. And 'oh my goodness gracious isn't that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is going to fall.' I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have."

A piece in the NY Times in a slow news day, about various cost-benefit studies on banning the use of cell phones while driving. Some astonishing quotes from shills saying that people like and find a benefit from using cell phones which may balance out the hospital and funeral costs of the victims of cell-phone-created crashes.

The British government has put out another of its famous dossiers, on why Saddam Hussein is evil evil evil. In the middle of bringing it out, Foreign Minister Jack Straw says that Iraq probably has nukes; his staff revoke this comment later. Odd. They chose an Iraqi dissident to present the report, a nuclear scientist who was tortured. He turned out not to be as tame as they’d hoped, and denounced the forthcoming war, and noted that the handcuffs the Iraqis used were British, as were the drills they used to torture people. There was no new evidence; most of it came from old Amnesty International and Human Watch Rights Reports; those organizations noted that the British gov hadn’t given a shit when they’d released the original reports. Then Straw played for the press a video of various acts of brutality, with the most hilariously over-the-top ominous music (I saw it on the BBC).

In a land grab in Hebron, Israel is to seize 60 buildings and properties, ethnically cleanse them of Palestinians, and give the land to settlers to link up settlements. They’ve posted maps all over showing in red which buildings are to be seized--or they say they’re in red, but it’s a black and white xerox. This is a plan Sharon enunciated back in 1996, long before Intifada II.

There is a book by a NY Times reporter on the connections between the Bushes and anti-Castro Cubans, including $75,000 paid to Jeb by one Cuban, now a fugitive for Medicare fraud, for doing nothing, and various terrorists who got Get Out of Jail Free Cards. How did I not know that Jeb nominated Batista’s grandson to be a Florida Supreme Court justice? Cantero, the grandson, has long ties with anti-Castro types and terrorists, including Orlando Bosch, who did things like blowing up planes-- possibly while he was on the CIA payroll, whose director at the time was one George Herbert Walker Bush. Actually Bosch was a pioneer, since it was the first act of terrorism involving the blowing up of a civilian plane (73 dead). As president, Bush senior released him from prison; he now lives in Miami. Justice Cantero didn’t just defend Bosch, but talked about his heroic fight against Castro.
, and more to come, I’m sure.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

If a politician can't admit a mistake, we're in trouble as a democracy

Followup: Britain will not be making a claim on Graham Island whenever it emerges from the Mediterranean.

Followup to the followup: OK, since I wrote that, the Daily Telegraph sent someone out to the island to plant a flag. He almost has the shit beaten out of him by some Sicilian sailors. He called the Foreign Office to ask about getting a knighthood out of it, but no go.

www.exwitch.org for witches who have discovered Jesus. “Wiccans for Jesus”, I guess.

Maureen Dowd approves, mockingly, the choice of Kissinger to head the commission: “Who better to investigate an unwarranted attack on America than the man who used to instigate America's unwarranted attacks?” I’m personally hoping that when it comes time for Dr. K. to testify before Congress, they demand to know the client list of Kissinger and Associations (which he is planning to continue working for, and whose clients have to sign a confidentiality agreement).

Friday, November 29, 2002

Scientia est potentia

If you’re wondering what I ate on Thanksgiving--and I know you all are--I had spaghetti, commemorating the first Thanksgiving, when the Puritans were saved from starvation by the native Italians.

Ah, Thanksgiving week, when the government sneaks out the stuff it doesn’t want anyone to know about. Logging without environmental impact studies, school regulations designed to destroy schools and lead the way to vouchers, and the return of Satan himself, Henry Kissinger. Yes, Henry will get to the bottom of this! As long as it doesn’t involve foreign travel, since he’s wanted for questioning about his various war crimes in half the countries on earth.

You’d think this would be a good time to keep Kissinger under wraps. For a start, he’s a reminder to the Kurds that in 1972 the CIA supported a Kurdish uprising in Iraq at the behest of the Shah of Iran, and then pulled the plug, leaving them to be slaughtered, also at the Shah’s request. Kissinger explained to the Senate, “One must not confuse the intelligence business with missionary work.”

And Kissinger as an intelligence expert is hilarious. Here’s a paragraph from a paper I wrote some years ago:
An example of Kissinger acting on his own inaccurate interpretation of raw intelligence occurred in 1970. A U-2 flight over Cienfuegos, Cuba revealed a wharf and military barracks under construction. Behind the barracks was a recreational area with a soccer field. Kissinger, who insisted incorrectly that Cubans do not play soccer but Russians do, confronted Soviet ambassador Dobrynin with this "evidence" that the Soviets were constructing a nuclear-submarine base in defiance of the 1962 understanding. Dobrynin, while insisting that no such thing was occurring, agreed to guarantee that there would never be a Soviet submarine base in Cuba. Thus a crisis was created out of nothing.
And before the rehabilitation of Kissinger, that of John Poindexter. By the way, I’ve been meaning to point out that Poindexter’s “Total Information Awareness” program is operated by a Pentagon agency, the Information Awareness Office (IAO, no doubt appropriately pronounced Yeeeooow) whose slogan is “Knowledge is power.” And of course, total knowledge is total power. And total power corrupts, like, totally.

A primary school in Bedfordshire, England, has banned parents taking pictures of their children’s nativity play because they could wind up on the internet where pedophiles could see them.

So one of the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq has no relevant speciality but is a founding officer of Leather Conference Inc, which “produces training sessions for potential leaders of the sadomasochism/ leather/fetish community”.

Ariel Sharon says, bizarrely, that the latest terror attacks were an attempt to influence the Israeli elections.

Islamic clerics in Nigeria say that Muslims should ignore the fatwa on that fashion reporter, which was issued by a state government rather than by them.

The Germans (and the French) are wimping out on their own rules regarding the sharing of evidence with the US in death penalty cases. They will give information on Zacarias Mousssaoui, but only, they say, to prove guilt or innocence; the evidence can’t be used in the sentencing phase.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I claim this land for Italy, despite the nauseous gas

Evidently the word “homosexual” is no longer allowed. Gays, pardon me, people with “orientation towards people of the same sex” in Britain insisted the government no longer use that term, but the overly long one I just quoted.

And in Scotland, you evidently can’t call striking firefighters fascist bastards, as the deputy justice minister has discovered (and been fired for).

And Chrétien has fired his communications director after all. What a moron.

The latest Pentagon brain-storm: self-healing mine fields, that resist efforts to clear them, redistributing themselves to fill the gaps (the mines can hop, evidently).

Rehnquist death watch: the chief justice fell down and had to be hospitalized this week. He is 78. And I’ve decided that I actually want Bush to do what he’s probably going to do when Old Stripey retires or snuffs it, replace him with Scalia. Why would Scalia be good for our side? Because he’s insane, the other justices hate him, and he couldn’t hold together the right-wing coalition that currently makes court-watching so nauseating. Sure there’d still be awful 5-4 and 6-3 decisions, but I think we’d see a lot more multiple majority arguments, where 1 or 2 or 3 justices insist on writing separate explanations for why they voted as they did. This would make it hard for the decisions to turn into precedents, which is all to the good. See, I’ve finally found a silver lining!

Austria’s Freedom Party is undergoing a lovely fratricidal purge. I have heard the words iron fist and execution squad to describe the operation, which is just what you want to hear from a neo-fascist party.

That poor fashion reporter who wrote the article that set off the Miss World rioting in Nigeria? The authorities--and note, it is the government, not the mullahs like one site said--of a Nigerian state have issued a fatwah for her to be killed on sight. She has fled to the US.

Italian semi-fascist Prime Minister Berlusconi takes the Fifth in the trial of a mafia associate of his. The Italian people must be so proud.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Banana magnate

The Bush daughters turn 21 today...

Switzerland, whose referenda are often as good an argument against direct democracy as California’s, very narrowly defeated one that would have turned away nearly all refugees.

Corporations are moving their intellectual property off-shore to tax havens--trademarks, patents, logos, etc.--so that the parent company pays inflated fees to its subsidiaries that can be written off in the US.

The annoying Joseph Lieberman asks the right question: What did the Saudis know, and when did they know it.

Actually, the URL tells you what that one’s about.

Putin vetoes the bill outlawing reporting or criticizing “counter-terrorism” operations (including the whole Chechen war), so that’s one for the good guys.

Someone dies in a really stupid way, and it’s an Oxford student. Human catapult stunt (using a medieval trebuchet)(look it up). The student was named Dino Yankov, and now Dino is extinct.

The gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that) fascist (not that.. oh wait) Jörg Haider quits politics again (he’ll no doubt have changed his mind by the time you read this) after his party drops from 27% in 1999 to 10% this week, which is still way too high, but I’ll take it.

(10 minutes later): In fact he did change his mind.

And yet another “populist” military leader wins an election in Latin America shortly after leading a coup attempt. This time it’s Ecuador. Haven’t really formed an opinion on the guy yet, but this is obviously a bad trend. Of course his opponent was a banana magnate (!) and the richest man in Ecuador, which isn’t a good trend either. Still, it’s a step up from the former president known as El Loco.

The ACLU hires as a lobbyist the creepy-mustachioed Bob Barr.

And Philip Morris’s hq in Melbourne, Australia bans smoking (in 1995 the company got NYC to exempt it from its workplace smoking laws by threatening to leave the city).

The US is trying to tighten sanctions on Iraq further, banning it receiving a heart medication and the antibiotic Cipro. US ambassador to the UN Negroponte says the US does not believe these (and other) goods “have a benign, civilian, or purely humanitarian purpose.” Which is bad news for me, since I have Cipro in my medicine cabinet.

George Monbiot in the Guardian today reminds us that the next target after Afghanistan was supposed to be Somalia, but the ratings weren’t good enough. “It is plain that the US government's decision to go to war came first, its chosen target second, and its reason for attacking that country third.”

Proof that there is a God: A lightning bolt struck a group of worshippers during an open air church service in Zimbabwe on Sunday, killing 10 people, the Herald newspaper said yesterday.

A Montenegrin family thought a Second World War artillery shell which had been in their yard for 50 years was the ideal replacement for a broken table leg until it exploded, slightly injuring eight people about to eat. The family in Danilovgrad were preparing the local speciality of grilled pork fat when the old shell went off, the Yugoslav daily Vecernje Novosti said yesterday.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Coffee enemas & flaming pop tarts

I called the wiretap appeals court a fake court, but I missed one of the ways in which it is fake: there is no appeal from it. I mean there is theoretically, but the cases are secret, including the defendants. This week’s decision came in the case of US Government versus We Don’t Have to Tell You Who. So in practical terms, this means that there is nobody with standing to appeal, or if there is they don’t know it, so de facto, there is no appeal. It would be trite to invoke Catch 22 at this point, but I don’t see how I can avoid it.

Speaking of a Potemkin criminal justice system, the Sunday Wash Post says, to no one’s shock, that many of those detained and still detained after 9/11 as “material witnesses” were never questioned by grand juries, which is the only proper purpose of the material witness law. It also says that such people are owed $40 per day.

Here’s some helpful etiquette information: "There's a lot more to kissing a lady's hand than most people think. The most important thing to remember is that you should not attempt to kiss it until she has offered her hand. The lady always instigates the greeting. Once she has offered you her hand, you should remove your hat, if you are wearing one, and hold it lightly at the front of your leg. Then you step towards the lady and take her outstretched hand and turn the palm downwards gently by the fingertips. Keeping your legs straight, bend at the waist until your lips are a centimetre above her hand. Never touch her hand with your lips and avoid eye contact or speaking while bowing for the kiss. Look into her eyes afterwards and if they are sparkling, you have done it right and she will know you are a gentleman."

That’s from a class being taught at juvenile detention facilities in Vienna.

Across the border in slightly less civilized Hamburg, riot police accidentally beat up their own undercover detectives at a demonstration in support of squatters.

Friday, November 22, 2002

What a moron

Is anyone paying attention to the NATO meeting? The triumphalism is a little nauseating, but the thing to watch is the attempt to make an alliance to defend Western Europe against the Red hordes into some sort of rapid reaction force, enforcing the will of the US in parts of the world that are not North nor are they Atlantic. Meaning Iraq of course. Which is not what NATO is for.

What NATO is actually for, as we know, is a penis substitute. “Tomorrow NATO grows larger,” said Bush. “Tomorrow, the soul of Europe grows stronger.” NATO is GeeDubya’s shiny red sports car, his way of making himself feel less inadequate, a feeling which always seems to come over him when he spends too much time with Colin Powell, for some reason.

Elsewhere in his speech: “We’re tied to Europe by history. We are tied to Europe by the wars of liberty we have fought and won together.” Funny, I thought a war of liberty was why we weren’t tied to Europe anymore. “And now that the countries of Europe are united in freedom, they will no longer fight each other and bring war to the rest of the world.” No, bringing war to the rest of the world is pretty much our job now. Actually, what that sentence shows is the myth of the peace-loving naive Americans dragged into the conflicts of the evil warlike Europeans. He also uses the phrase that terrorists come from failed states, which is his excuse I guess to fight states like Afghanistan and Iraq, which is something the Pentagon knows how to do, while avoiding tracking down actual terrorists, which they haven’t got a clue how to do.

The meeting was held in the Czech Republic, which needs a better name, and which kept having to fend off invasions from the old Warsaw Pact. The dictator of Belarus didn’t get a visa, despite his threats. Nor did the defense minister of Kazakhstan, whose plane was forced down by US war-planes. And Kuchma of Ukraine, which has an ok name but which still seems funny without the definite article, showed up despite being told not to, because of arms sales to Iraq, which Bulgaria has also done, but it just joined NATO (one of the secret conditions of which is that it sell its national tobacco factory to an American company, it says in the Guardian). The big question of the conference, though, was will they or won’t they, and Bush did indeed shake the hand of German Chancellor Schröder. At least Bush probably knows his name, as opposed to that of Elton Gallegly, chairman of the House International Relations Sub-committee, one of the 4 representatives of the US Congress, as Elton Gallegly, if that is his real name, found out when Bush tried to introduce him.

Canadian PM Chrétien also showed confusion, after his spokesmodel was overheard calling Bush a “moron.” (The exact phrase, which I could not find in the Toronto Globe & Mail, the 1st paper I looked in, was “What a moron”.) He is not a moron, said Chrétien, he is a friend. What, like he can’t be both?

http://www.preventcancer.org/colossalcolon/ for the Colossal Colon tour to promote colon awareness. Personally, when I want to be aware of my colon, I take a look at the piece of it I keep in a plastic container.

Since the Supreme Court banned executing the retarded, California is going to test the IQs of all death row inmates. With a 10-minute IQ test, which they tried to implement before their lawyers got wind of it, although they failed in that.

People that go to malls to pray (and not that they’ll be able to fit into that dress).

A letter to the NY Times notes that the gov plans to keep information on every purchase we make or library book we check out, our travel, bank records, medical records, e-mail etc, but won’t track gun sales and ownership. That the program is headed by John Poindexter is yet another hilarious Bush PR misstep that won’t damage him like it should, like the thing about expanding snowmobiles in Yosemite while we’re preparing for another war to safeguard our precious, precious oil.

The Miss World pageant is taking place in Nigeria. So far the death toll is over 50.

A story in the Post about the State Dept considering taking Burma off the list of major drug traffickers (knocked down one place by our good friends the Afghans, no doubt) suggests a cozying up to the dictators that needs to be watched.


In the run-up to the Likud leadership election, Netanyahu has been taking out ads on how there were “only” 4 suicide bombings when he was in charge--and running the ads on the sides of buses.

Let us mourn the death of Earl Warrick, who invented silly putty (also the production of silicone rubber and silicon as in chips, but no one would have read the obit if they put that in the headline.

The Miss World deaths now number over 100, which I believe is about the same as the last time they tried to hold a beauty pageant in Santa Cruz.

When someone threw meat up on the stage. Of course these days the feminist protesters would be protested by PETA.

The French rather cleverly fucked over the Americans by giving the NATO statement on Iraq its own translation. Rather than saying Iraq will face serious consequences *as a result* of its continued violations, it says, in a translation that has equal force and validity to the English-language version, that Iraq will face serious consequences *if* it continues violations.

One thing that could damage the war effort is the firefighters’ strike in Britain, since something like 1/5 of the British military is now being used as scabs (blacklegs, to use the proper British term). Tony Blair’s office, in a lovely use of metaphor, accused the Fire Brigades Union of demanding “half-baked proposals.”

Speaking of badly thought out responses, here’s another, from the Wash Post:
DANA POINT, Calif., Nov. 22 -- Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge today rebutted charges from Al Gore that President Bush has lost focus on the war against terrorism and has left the country more vulnerable to future attacks, saying, "I don't know what the vice president's talking about." Yes, let’s respond to an accusation of lack of focus by admitting complete lack of knowledge.

Nice to see that PM Chrétien did not accept the resignation of the communications director who called Bush a moron. He told the press that she often uses the word, and has called him and indeed most of them morons too.

The Wash Post notes that Bush has continued the employment of Eugene Scalia (Fat Tony’s son) at Labor & Otto Reich at State. These were recess appointments originally, because they are both awful choices who couldn’t get confirmed, so they should have been there temporarily. Bush has decided essentially to give them new titles and do exactly the same jobs. In other words, he has decided unilaterally that positions which are supposed to be subject to Senate confirmation are now in his hands alone.

The justices of Louisiana’s Supreme Court stop fucking their sisters long enough to uphold the state’s ban on oral and anal sex, saying the law is not a violation of privacy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Today’s mail brought notices that I was due for my rabies shots and that the cat had jury duty, or something like that. We’re both so pleased you have no idea. This will be my 4th, and I have yet to set foot in an actual courtroom, although if I did I’d quickly be disqualified by virtue of having too much book larnin’. The proper response to being empaneled on a jury is an indignant “How stupid do you think I am?” As I recall, the way this works is that I’m supposed to arrive in Martinez, 16 miles away, at 8:00 in the forgodsake morning and then wait around for several hours (judges don’t even get out of bed before 9:30), so I can wait around for several hours doing nothing. You bring books, but there’s always a tv loudly blaring Regis Philbin, and uncomfortable chairs and evidently breastfeeding mothers don’t have to do jury duty, so there’s not even that to look at. If I had a laptop, I could play one of those really violent games and cackle Die motherfucker! every time I shot an old lady or zombie or better yet cop. At some point a civil servant who is actually paid for being there will give a pep talk about civic duty, while the county is dipping its hands into our pockets, not even paying us gas money on the day I have to show up and not get picked for a jury, and the form they want me to return, which I won’t, is not postage-paid.

The Israeli Labor Party (it feels weird spelling that without a u in Labor) signs its own death warrant by electing as its new head a guy who counts as a peacenik in Israeli terms (which means that as a military commander, he only had his men break the arms of stone-throwers, not shoot them dead and burn down their village).

As if further proof is needed that constitutionally speaking the US government is a hollow shell, a fake court met this week for the first time. This is the secretive appeals court for the secretive wiretap court. The appeals court is named entirely by William Rehnquist, who selected its three members from the entire range of federal judges, from a Reagan appointee on the right, to a Reagan appointee on the left (no prizes for guessing who appointed the middle member). This court rules that there is no wall between wiretapping for criminal and wiretapping for intelligence purposes. So prosecutors can now get wiretaps and use them for criminal trials, based on the almost non-existent standard of proof required for wiretaps for intelligence purposes. The 4th Amendment be damned.

In another example of corporate socialism (socialized costs, privatized profits), the Senate votes that insurance companies don’t have to pay off on terrorism insurance policies, the US government will do that for any attack over $10 billion. So why do the insurance companies get to collect the premiums?

From the Telegraph: Muslims angry at Nigeria's staging of the Miss World contest burned down a newspaper office in the northern city of Kaduna after an article hinted that the Prophet Mohammed would have married one of the contestants.

Ditto: Singapore is to relax its 10-year ban on chewing gum, but only if it is given on prescription. Doctors and dentists will be able to administer sugar-free gum to patients for "medicinal benefits". The ban was imposed because the gum stained pavements. The relaxation follows pressure from America during trade talks.

Ditto: Greece has banned the sale of "Living Dead Dolls", American toys featuring fiery eyes, scarred faces and bloodied mouths which come in their own coffins and death certificates. The dolls cost about £32.

From the Times: George Bush was elected President with a promise to restore dignity to the White House. Yet in the book George and Laura: Portrait of an American Marriage, the US President's party trick is revealed - he likes to stick chopsticks up his nose.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

A real mind-blower

In today’s NY Times arts section, it says that an Eli Lilly heir (aged 87) is planning to leave $100 million to Poetry magazine. Far be it for me to denigrate poetry, except for the modern stuff that makes me want to bang my head repeatedly against a wall, but speaking of people who actually do that, wasn’t Eli Lilly the company that got Trent Lott to sneak a provision into the Heimat Security Bill letting it off the hook for a drug that may cause autism? (OK, the banging against the wall thing wasn’t the greatest segue, but it’s the best I can do at 4:30 in the morning. Still, that sentence had a sort of poetically complex structure to it, huh?) I’m just wondering if there isn’t a better use for Eli Lilly money, is all I’m saying, unpoetic justice if you will. The highly literate response of the poet laureate of the United States to this news: “It’s a real mind-blower.” The magazine pays $2 a line, which makes $100 million a shitload of poetry (actually I think the correct plural is “an iambic of poetry” or possibly “a pretentiousness of poetry”). Of course they may just blow it all on a crash project to find a word that rhymes with orange.

Further on what I said 2 days ago about the almost-third-person way GeeDubya now uses to refer to himself: from a Bob Woodward interview: "I'm the kind of person that wants to make sure that all risk is assessed."

From the same interview, on spreading light and love and reason throughout the world using genocidal force if necessary: "And if the values are good enough for our people, they ought to be good enough for others, not in a way to impose because these are God-given values. These aren't United States-created values. These are values of freedom and the human condition and mothers loving their children."

Bush’s attempt to include as a tripwire in the UN resolution a clause that the US has decided to interpret to mean that Iraq can’t shoot at our planes in the no-fly zone anymore, was laughed into oblivion by the entire rest of the world including Kofi Annan and astonishingly even Britain.

Bush keeps talking about war crimes trials for Iraqi leaders, but presumably not for those he intends to put in charge of a puppet government, like General Nizar Khazraji, just arrested for war crimes by Denmark.

Iran just released 20 Iraqi prisoners from the 1980-8 war, isn’t that sweet?

Monday, November 18, 2002

Poo allowance

Unnecessary remake no. 387: The Manchurian Candidate, starring Denzel Washington.

Zimbabwe makes it a crime to yell or make obscene gestures at President Mugabe’s motorcade, which screws up traffic whenever it appears.

In a radio interview last week that really didn’t get reported, Rumsfeld said that if UN inspectors found no weapons, "What it would prove would be that the inspection process had been successfully defeated by the Iraqis." Heads I win, tails you lose.

Good article on genetically modified foods and the attempt by biotech companies to “put a padlock on the food chain.” Also, that this is a deliberate strategy of American aid. One of USAID’s objectives is to "integrate GM into local food systems".

The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court has been ordered by a federal court, finally, to take down the 10 Commandments monument. By the way, it doesn’t make it into the papers when this clown is discussed, but he also used to have prayer sessions with jury pools.

One of the things China uses to establish its ancient right to oppress Tibet is that its surveyors mapped Mount Qomolangma in 1717. They have just launched a propaganda campaign against the evil British colonialists and the rest of the world who call it after the surveyor-general of the British Indian government, Sir George Everest, who mapped it in 1852. Tibetans and Nepalese have their own names for it.

By the way, that Bin Laden tape in which he congratulates the alliterative Bali bombers? The reason he’s pissed at Australia and Indonesia is because East Timor was allowed to become independent of Muslim Indonesia.

IBM is working on a computer that will match the human brain. Of course Commodore did that a long time ago, if the brain is that of GeeDubya Bush.