Friday, October 22, 2004

Elephant man

Left I” has 2 Cuban stories. State Dept spokesmodel Richard Boucher, asked about Castro’s broken knee, said of the 78-year old man, “You’d have to check with the Cubans to find out what’s broken about Mr Castro” and refused to wish him a speedy recovery. Class, pure class.

Also, in a story I can’t believe got so little attention, the Bush admin argued in the Supreme Court last week that the 917 Mariels (shipped by Cuba to the US in 1980) still in American detention have no right to be freed, ever. John Paul Stevens asked whether, if they have no rights at all, they could just be summarily shot. The gov lawyer said no, but couldn’t explain why not.

The Washington Post (finally) checks up on one of Bush’s oft-repeated claims: “Townsend, Bush’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, said ‘three-quarters’ of ‘the known al Qaeda leaders on 9/11’ were dead or in custody. Asked to elaborate, she said she would have to consult a list. White House spokeswoman Erin Healy referred follow-up questions to the FBI. Spokesmen for the FBI, the National Security Council and the CIA did not respond to multiple telephone calls and e-mails.”

California is evidently going to pass a proposition to make primaries “non-partisan,” with all voters being able to vote for any candidates in the primaries, irrespective of party, with only the top 2 being on the ballot, and those as centrist, bland, and death-penalty-supporting as possible. After it passes, I will never be able to vote again for major statewide public offices. So please, Californians, and I will say this bluntly to catch the search engines, Vote no on 62 (for the rest of my prop. endorsements, use the link at the top of the right column).

You may have heard that Gubana Aahnuld Schwarzenegger demonstrated his alleged independence from his own party by coming out in favor of stem cell research (Prop. 71). But he did it late. Indeed, he did it to bolster his unearned rep for independence, then use that rep for Republican goals. Today, my mailbox was graced by an expensive booklet of “Gov. Arnold S.’s Ballot Proposition Voter Guide,” which was paid for by the Republican Party ($2 million, 5 million copies mailed out), which does not feature any position on 71. You can see it by clicking below on what I assume is an unintended juxtaposition on their website (it shows up this way on IE & Foxfire, but not Opera), showing an elephant emerging from Arnie’s forehead. It’s an impressive piece of obfuscatory propaganda, designed to uninform. For example, its description of Prop 63, which it opposes, is “new tax and state bureaucracy,” with no explanation that it is for mental health services. It does say that 63 “will not contribute one cent to education or dealing with the budget crisis.” Or to legalizing ownership of ferrets, but it’s not supposed to. And it says Prop 66 “waters down three strikes law,” creating “another loophole”. The loophole is that for a criminal to get life imprisonment for a 3rd strike, it would have to be for a violent crime, not stealing a slice of pizza.

But what annoys me about this document, why I’ve spent so long on it, is the impropriety of its use of the trappings of office: the governor’s seal appears no fewer than 3 times on the cover and 16 times in total, in a leaflet put out by one party. It is legitimate to put the Gropenführer’s influence into play, but not his office. There are no stylized elephants in the pamphlet.

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