Friday, June 06, 2003

God himself will not permit it

A few days ago I wondered how Bush could go to Iraq without getting an embarrassing reception. Silly me. He flew over Iraq for 66 minutes, never actually setting foot on it. According to a White House official, this demonstrates that Iraq is free. In a speech, Bush said, in a statement so fatuous that further comment would be pointless: “But one thing is certain: no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime because the Iraqi regime is no more.”

A heart-warming interview with Saudi Arabia’s chief executioner.

For the first time since the end of the Korean War, US troops have been moved away from the border between the Koreas. Evidently they think that either North Korea is likely to start a war--or we are. Either way, the North Koreans are likely to see this as preparation for a strike on their nuclear facilities, which is not good.

It’s a little unclear to me exactly how it happened that 8 million poor families got left out of the tax-cut bill. Was it an accident or a bargaining chip? DeLay explained that there were many bigger priorities than poor people (the many hours spent in the House debating another attempt to outlaw flag-burning, perhaps?), and then tried to hold the poor kids hostage to yet another tax increase for the rich. The Senate at any rate has voted to restore the money to the poor families, and, yes, to those in the $100,000-150,000 range (given that the original tax cut was sold precisely and repeatedly as a tax cut for every family, they never really had the right to cut some families out, but then this is the government that sold a war on Iraq based on non-existent WMDs; Big Shrug)(some R’s said that they could neglect the poor, as in the last bill, because they weren’t taxpayers; when the R’s talk about taxes, they always neglect to count Social Security and sales tax, the regressive taxes, and concentrate on the progressive taxes) (and as long as I’m randomly putting thoughts in parentheses because I’m too lazy to construct a proper argument, the tax cut increased the deduction businesses can take for vehicles to $100,000 if they weigh over 6,000 pounds--no SUV left behind). According to the Times, Trent Lott voted for the bill “but as he did so he stuck his tongue out, put his finger in his mouth and made a gagging sound, indicating his apparent distaste for the bill.” Or possibly just behaving like one of the children having their tax credit restored

A UN court made a half-assed attempt to arrest Liberian dictator Charles Taylor for war crimes Wednesday. They had kept the indictment secret, waiting to spring it on him when he was out of the country, but unfortunately the country he was in was Ghana, which let him go, claiming they received the indictment too late. Nonsense. If there’s one thing I know about west African countries, that we all know, it’s that they have email. Taylor: “To call the president of Liberia a war criminal? God himself will not permit it.”

On the heals of the Justice Dept inspector general’s report of abuses of immigrant detainees, Ashcroft demands yet more powers of indefinite detention, the creation of new crimes including simply training with a designated terrorist organization (recent months have shown that the Bush admin rewards governments that do favors with us by adding organizations opposed to those governments to the list, so there’s not just the “one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” problem--the list is a purely political construct) without actually doing anything, and providing “material support” to such organizations, as some of us on this list have done for Salvadoran or anti-apartheid groups. And death penalties, he wants more of those.

Here’s a story from the world of museums. The prized exhibit at the York Archaeological Resource Centre is a thousand-year-old piece of Viking shit, said to be the largest complete example of preserved human shit by those who are experts in such things. They are trying to put it back together after its display stand crashed, breaking it into three pieces. The article will tell you everything you want to know about what this gentleman ate, the health of his bowels, and, as an added bonus, there’s a picture.

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