Monday, September 22, 2003

If Karl Rove had returned my phone calls

Lulu, the kangaroo’s name was Lulu. Story and picture (looks like any other kanga).

The LA Times has a story about The Arnold, noting that with his lack of experience, what he is touting is his autobiography, while at the same time saying that anything you don’t like about his autobiography--gang bangs, drug use, etc etc--he made up, because in Hollywood you make things up.

The Times also quotes the candidate statements, mostly the same quotes I sent out a couple of weeks ago. And gives the lyrics of the campaign song of Angelyne, "Angelyne — Y'all be Lovin' Her for Governor": "Angelyne, Angelyne, if you live in L.A. you know the scene/It's earthquakes, freeways and Angelyne. What a great governor she will be/With her miniskirts, makeup and anatomy."

One of the things I’ve taken to using to keep up with the recall has been the blog of Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub, who is pretty good, and often has good links, although he’s politically to my right (but who isn’t?). Thanks to some comments about Bustamante using his ethnicity to get where he is and about the use of ethnic identity by Latino legislators, his blog now goes through his editors first. An edited blog is of course no blog at all. The first thing not mentioned in his blog you would otherwise have expected to be mentioned in the blog? You guessed it, the fact that he is now operating under censorship.

Speaking of things about this election we aren’t being told, a court allowed Ward Connerly to keep the names of the contributors to Prop 54 secret until after the election. Because they’d be harassed, poor dears.

I just read the arguments on this one in the voter’s pamphlet. Did you know you could be charged with “racial fraud” if you claim to be the member of a race the government thinks you are not a member of? There’s an odd bit in the prop itself: “Otherwise lawful assignment of prisoners and undercover law enforcement officers shall be exempt from this section.”

There are many odd bills being floated right now in Calif. One that Connerly really won’t like will put a question about race on voter registration forms. Voluntary, of course. It just snuck into law. Would be nice to know, but that form is the wrong place to ask it. Another, giving Indian tribes veto over any property development within miles of their burial grounds and “sacred sites,” seems to have stalled.

Bush accuses Ted Kennedy of being uncivil and using words he shouldn’t be using in saying that Bush bribed other nations to send troops into Iraq. He doesn’t deny it. He can’t deny it.

John “Lost to a Dead Guy” Ashcroft is issuing an order that federal prosecutors not charge greater offenses in order to coerce a plea bargain. Which I would agree with. Except that Ashcroft means virtually to eliminate plea-bargaining, further reducing the authority of prosecutors, who are already under orders to push for the death penalty in many cases they don’t think it’s appropriate for, and to appeal any sentences that fall below the sentencing guidelines. And ensuring that no one plea-bargains, which would wreck the federal court system pretty quickly. Which is one of the problems with the current system of coercive plea bargains: the court system isn’t designed to give everyone their day in court; indeed, just 10% getting their day in court would be a disaster for the system. Another thing is that with an increasingly rigid sentencing process, which Ashcroft supports, the real bargaining at the federal level is about what charges will be filed, which is supposed to be about facts. Either a crime happened, or it didn’t, in the real world, but since they can’t bargain on sentence, they negotiate a charge practically out of thin air to achieve the same result, i.e., to get a result of a 5-year sentence, they negotiate a crime to be pleaded to that carries a 5-year sentence. So the system is based on dishonesty, with prosecutors initially charging crimes they know didn’t happen, and/or accepting pleas on the basis of crimes that didn’t happen.

Ashcroft says the move is to equalize justice across the US (just as he’s spreading the death penalty to states that don’t want it, and Puerto Rico). Of course he means equalize at the most draconian level possible.

Ashcroft is going to use the Patriot Act in the government’s 16-year old crusade to deport the L.A. 8.

Did you know that the Dewey Decimal System is copyrighted and libraries have to pay at least $500 a year to use it? Don’t know if my local public library gets a discount for the high number of books they mis-shelve.

The Army exonerates, yet again, an incident of soldiers killing journalists, the photographer outside the jail in Baghdad last month. They say the soldier acted within the rules of engagement. Since they won’t tell anyone what the rules of engagement are, people like the photog only find out they’ve run afoul of them as they see the hail of bullets coming towards them. I still have yet to see a side-by-side comparison of a camera and the RPG launcher the soldier allegedly mistook it for.

One of the things I love about British newspapers is that they can say “fuck.” And sometimes they have to, as when quoting Tony Blair’s disgraced former chief spinner Alastair Campbell saying that releasing the name of Dr. Kelly would fuck the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan, who, ironically, had reported that Downing Street had sexed up reports of Iraq’s weapons capability. It’s all beginning to sound like the Nixon tapes. Defense Minister Geoff Hoon says that the claim about Iraqi’s weapons being ready on 45-minutes’ notice did only mean battlefield weapons, and that the government had no obligation to correct the misapprehension that it meant missiles and bio weapons, although it did in fact correct that--after a full year. From the Indy:
Mr Caldecott asked if Mr Hoon felt people were "entitled to be given a true picture of the intelligence, not a vastly inflated one". The Defence Secretary replied: "That's a question you would have to put to journalists and the editors responsible."

Mr Caldecott asked: "Do you accept that you have an absolute duty to correct it?" Mr Hoon answered: "No, I do not."

The Iraqi “Governing Council” has ordered Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya reporters expelled. 14-2, it wasn’t even close. Paul Bremer could, of course, veto that decision. Any bets?

The Israeli army is signing up Russian immigrants who were snipers in Chechnya to perform a similar service against Palestinians. Russian sniper training is better than Israeli and Russians are considered better snipers than Israelis. More patience.

The presidential front-runner is now Wesley Clark, propelled to the top of polls, ahead of the 9 other D’s and Shrub, solely because of Michael Moore’s endorsement. Still, there’s this quote: “I would have been a Republican, if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls.” Which he says was a joke. Still, just when did he switch parties? cuz the stories haven’t actually said.

From The Guardian: “A drug created by the former KGB to keep its agents sober so that they could drink opponents under the table before stealing their secrets is being sold on the internet to Hollywood stars as a defence against hangovers.” So the Cold War was worth it, after all.

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