Thursday, June 19, 2003

Have a dream

The Dept of Homeland Security’s inspector general says that it was perfectly appropriate under the agency’s guidelines to look for the Texas legislators. Actually, what that turns out to mean is that its employees were misled into thinking a plane had crashed, and didn’t bother checking the facts. Here’s a quote from one of those employees: “these people up in Oklahoma, they said that these people were like government officials, and they're trying to find them.” So the excuse is that Homeland Security’s workers are easily misled and don’t ask questions. I feel more secure already.

Here’s what the CIA said about those Iraqi mobile labs: "Coalition experts on fermentation and systems engineering examined the trailer found in late April and have been unable to identify any legitimate industrial use ... that would justify the effort and expense of a mobile production capability." And if you believe that, you should be quite worried about the fact that identical labs are for sale in the US.

It’s kind of nice knowing that I don’t have to ever hear Bill Clinton’s voice again, because I can’t afford it. He made 60 speeches last year at a dead minimum of $100,000 each, up to $250,000 abroad. “On November 19 in Mito City, on the outskirts of Tokyo, he spoke to 1,700 school pupils, attended a dinner and a political discussion the following morning, and flew away with $400,000. ‘He told our youth to have a dream,’ said Takashi Kawatsu, who runs the civic group that paid the former President.” Here’s my dream: being paid $150,000 just to tell kids to have a dream.

Canada’s government won’t appeal the court ruling upholding gay marriages. A couple of dozen have tied the knot already.

Yesterday Silvio Berlusconi actually showed up at his own trial, in order to denounce the trial and say that "It is true that the law is equal for all, but for me it is more equal because the majority of Italians voted for me." To add injury to that insult, his appearance was actually meant to filibuster the trial long enough for his tame parliament to rush through a law today immunizing stopping this and any other trial. You know the line about if you owe the bank a thousand dollars they own you, but if you owe the bank a billion dollars, you own the bank? Well, in the 1980s Berlusconi merely bribed judges (that’s what the trial is for); now, he can simply abolish the judiciary. Oh, and the parliament voted by secret ballot.

The Romanian gov retracts its assertion of last week that there was no Holocaust in Romania (after trying to get everyone to believe they meant only that there were no death camps on Romanian soil).

US soldiers in Iraq shoot at yet another crowd of unarmed protesters, killing two. A military spokesman said, “The Iraqis have got a lot to learn about how to demonstrate peacefully but we hope they will return in the future to exercise their right to freedom of expression.” Adding, “‘cuz we need the target practice.” Kidding, I kid--don’t shoot me. So they have “a lot to learn,” huh? And being fatally shot was, like, an F?

In that UN speech, Colin Powell claimed there were secret bioweapons labs beneath Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad. There aren’t.

I seem to have mislaid a country, because I have no recollections of having noticed the Finnish government falling in March over accusations that it was secretly aiding Bush in the Iraq war. Anyway, the person who unseated that government to become the first woman PM of Finland, one Anneli Jaatteenmaki (does any name need that many double letters?), just resigned because she lied about whether or not she had solicited leaks of classified foreign ministry documents that she used in the debates.

Tony Blair is abolishing the post of Lord Chancellor, after 1,400 years. When criticized at Question Time by Iain Duncan Smith, he responded “He wants to fight to the death to keep the minister in charge of our courts system in a full-bottomed wig, 18th century breeches, women's tights, sitting on a woolsack rather than running the courts service.” Well as Clinton would say, have a dream.

So whatever happened to the 8-year old on life support in the Middle East? And what happened to the conscientious objector nephew of Netanyahu? His court martial was last month. The lack of follow-up is irritating.

Rumsfeld proves that Iraqi WMDs exist by applying logic: we can’t find Saddam Hussein either, but that doesn’t mean he never existed. Yeah, and you can’t find your own ass with both hands, but you have Colin Powell kiss it every morning just to make sure it’s there.

Paul Bremer announced plans to try Iraqi guerillas who attack occupation troops as criminals, which is a violation of international law, which recognizes the right to resist an occupation. Bremer also has ambitious plans to restructure the Iraqi economy, reversing the nationalization of the oil industry and selling off state industries. First, who is he to sell anything that belongs to the Iraqi people? At best, he can administer national assets, but actually sell them? Second, this would all be done before the Iraqis have any say in their own governance. In other words, Bremer is pre-empting decisions the Iraqis have a right to decide for themselves, if “freedom” and “democracy” are to mean anything.

The Supreme Court, in a decision that to me reads more ambiguous than anything else, rules that mentally-ill defendants can’t be forcibly medicated so they can be tried. They also ruled 8-1 that Antonin “Fat Tony” Scalia should “take a chill pill already.”

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