Friday, August 30, 2002

Anyone who doubts we're being governed by morons need only look to Texas (where else?), where a judge has sued a writer for libel because the writer satirized the judge ... and the state appeals court is actually going to let this mess go to trial.

The case stemmed from a real-life incident in which a seventh-grader was held in a juvenile facility after being assigned to write a Halloween paper. The paper he wrote was a horror story in which he killed his teacher and others. A writer for the Dallas Observer used these facts as the basis for a piece of satire that featured a 6-year-old girl who had done the same thing. It sought to parody the judge and the district attorney in the case. But they were so unamused by the writer's satiric wit that they sued for libel and could, possibly, maybe even win.

The appeals court said there was a serious lack of what it considered to be "obvious clues" that the piece, in which the girl is hauled in front of the judge in handcuffs and ankle shackles, was satire. Note that it said this about an article that also quoted the judge as saying, "Any implication of violence in a school situation, even if it was just contained in a first-grader's book report, is reason enough for panic and overreaction. ... It's time for you to grow up, young lady, and it's time for us to stop treating kids like children."

I'd be satisfied if they just stopped treating grownups as children. Because what's going on here is just fucking childish. The district attorney and the judge parodied in the piece were too fucking stupid to get the joke, so instead of laughing or just ignoring the story, they sued, attempting to justify their seventh-grade intellects in hindsight by claiming that "reasonable people" wouldn't get the joke.

Well, I've got your "reasonable" right here, and I hope they both shove it up far enough to do themselves some good.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

UPDATE: OK, it seems as if someone in the Houston Police Department has finally regained his sanity. About damn time.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

ARREST 'EM ALL AND LET GOD SORT 'EM OUT: How does a person achieve the rank of captain in the police force of the nation's -- what, fourth? -- -largest city exercising this kind of bad judgment?

Not only should the captain be fired, but the Justice Department should open a criminal investigation into the Houston Police Department's obvious conspiracy to deprive restaurant patrons of their civil rights. I think a 5-year prison sentence for the good captain ought to make damn sure he never pulls a stunt like this again.
Nothing like being on the side of the demons, as the U.S. clearly is with respect to the plights of a shitload of African and Asian women. Nick Kristoff of the New York Times breaks it down. Nice goin', Dubya, the women you don't kill are gonna grow up to become the next generation of terrrorist grrls. Freakin' wonderful.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

A couple of thoughts on recent developments regarding race relations.

First, at this past weekend's rally for reparations in Washington, attended by anywhere between several dozen and several hundred people, depending on whom you believe, a New York City Council member, Charles Barron, said in a speech to the crowd, "I'm so mad I'm gonna slap somebody in a second. I might just walk up to the nearest white man and say, 'You don't understand, this is a black thing!' and slap him just for my mental health."

Well. I suppose all the conseratives are thinking, "Gee, what if a white politician had said he was going to slap a black man 'just for my mental health'?" What I was thinking was, "Bitch, come here and slap me and see what you get." (OK, so now you know that either I'm white or I can pass for white.)

At least one radio talk-show host has said essentially the same thing, publicly inviting Barron to come slap him -- but requiring Barron to stay on afterward for a "rigorous, intelligent discussion" of the issue of reparations.

See, here's the thing: Barron, crazy and intemperate as he might be, holds public office. What he says matters, like it or not. And who's holding him accountable? Where's the condemnation from other black politicians and/or proponents of reparations?

The really sad thing is that Barron apparently is now saying he was just joking -- and that black people got the joke and white people didn't. Please. If you believe it and you said it, don't lie about it. Just issue a non-apology apology, something like: I'm sorry if anyone was offended. Works for white people all the time.

As for the issue itself, I'm agin it, mainly because there are so many unanswerable questions attached. I'm certain one could make a case that there's a direct connection between the institution of slavery 150 years ago and the economic situation many black people find themselves in today. But how do you quantify the effects of slavery as against, say, having a totally irresponsible mother and a father who vanished roughly seven minutes after you were conceived? Then there are the practical questions, like: I'm the descendant of both slaves and slave owners -- do I just write myself a check, or what? And if so, for how much? And, oh, just by the way, what would be the fucking point? And all?

The other bit of news has to do with an ousted U.S. House incumbent in Georgia, Cynthia McKinney, who lost the 4th District primary Tuesday night to challenger Denise Majette. McKinney is most famous for having accused the Bush Administration of having had a role in the 9/11 attacks to advance the interests of its extraction-industry supporters.

Now, I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next curmudgeon, but so far the evidence on that is all circumstantial, so it's not the kind of charge a responsible U.S. House member ought to be making. But then, responsibility ain't McKinney's strong suit. As she made her concession speech, she said, "It looks like the Republicans wanted to beat me more than the Democrats wanted to keep me." (Never mind, of course, that this was a Democratic primary, not the general election.)

But at least she comes by her lack of responsibility honestly: Her dad, Georgia State Rep. Billy McKinney, said on TV his daughter lost because of "J-E-W-S."

A side note: also losing Tuesday night was U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican. Two cheers for that: Barr has been among the most rabid and virulent of the anti-Clinton crowd -- in some of his speeches on C-SPAN you could pretty much see the foam flecking his lips. But, interestingly, he also has been among the strongest supporters in Congress of online privacy, so to that extent I hate to see him go.

OK, enough politics for awhile. Talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, August 19, 2002

A horse is a horse, of course, of course ... unless, of course, you're HIGH ON ECSTASY AND CRAZY AS HELL BESIDES.

I particularly like the part where this guy has to register as a sex offender. What, they're going to warn all the horses when he moves into their neighborhood?

Also, won't the horse require counseling? Just askin'.

I don't know whether we ought to be invading Iraq or not, but assuming we need to, I don't think this is the way to plan for it.
What with worrying about our 401Ks and all, you probably haven't heard about this, but there's a woman in Nigeria named Amina Lawal, currently breast-feeding a baby, who's going to be executed next year for giving birth outside of marriage. Of course, this is not a civil crime; the judgment is from a four-(male-) judge Islamic court.

On the one hand, one truly wants to 1) avoid messing in other countries' internal affairs; and 2) avoid judgment of religious beliefs different from one's own. But enough is enough. Sad to say, it was a liberal -- more exactly, the creation of a liberal, the character Toby Ziegler on NBC's "The West Wing" -- who most succinctly said the right thing on this subject.

What, he is asked, do we tell our country's purported "allies" -- such as, oh, Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- when they eagerly accept American support while brutally suppressing American values?

I'm quoting from memory here, so forgive me if I don't get it quite right, but Ziegler said something like, "We tell 'em that freedom and democracy are coming to a theater near you -- so get dressed!"

If being the world's only remaining superpower means anything, it means we don't stand around with our thumbs up our asses while our supposed "friends" carry out atrocity after atrocity. We tell the rulers of Nigeria that, hey, guess what, getting to run a country in this day and age means you don't execute the mother of a young child just because she had sex out of wedlock, and you don't tolerate any cleric who tries to, either. Nobody appointed any north Nigerian mullah God, and any head of state who believes otherwise is politely invited to have a seat here in the 21st century with the rest of us.

Freedom of religion does not mean the freedom to be uncivilized. Fuck political correctness. Fuck cultural awareness. We don't allow human sacrifice, particularly when it involves sacrificing a poor and terrified young mother to the auto- and theocratic concerns of a group of murdering men. Freedom and democracy are coming to a theater near you, so get dressed -- and take a moral bath while you're at it.

Friday, August 16, 2002

USAirways is in Chapter 11 and its future is in doubt. So its CEO has been fired for his crappy performance, right? Correctomundo, if by "fired" you mean "given something like $45 million over six years." Jay Hancock of the Baltimore Sun tells all, leaving us all wondering once again whether the stock market isn't just a game so rigged it couldn't even get a gambling license in Vegas.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Maybe you didn't hear this, and I'm sure Bush & Co. would rather you didn't, but while discount stock broker Charles Schwab was speaking at the president's relentlessly upbeat "economic forum" (read: dog-and-pony show) Tuesday at Baylor University, Schwab's company was laying off 400 employees.

Of course Bush is too fucking stupid to get it, but there's a reason why consumers aren't as confident as he thinks they should be, and the Des Moines Register put it succinctly: "Well, duh. Of course it's about confidence. But people need a reason to be confident. That's what's missing." And the Schwab case is just one example.

He who has eyes, let him see. And pray God that whoever sees gets word to the White House.
I've got as many questions about the way Bush & Co. are handling the "war on terrorism" as the next politically nonaligned individual, but I've got to say that Susan Sontag is just whacked.

Here's what Stefan Kanfer in the City Journal, a magazine published by the Manhattan Institute, had to say about Sontag's reaction to three plays recently performed in New York by an Iranian troupe:

The plays concerned child martyrdom—indeed, one ended with the bloody beheading of a ten-year-old—and during a post-production symposium Sontag congratulated the festival director for importing the dramas to the U.S. “You’ve done something incredible,” she burbled. “To view these works was a privilege and a duty for us who don’t live by the contemptible rhetoric of the Bush administration. The last thing in the world we want to do is cooperate with the jihadist mentality of this administration.”

She might have used the favored pejoratives of the Left: “Eurocentric,” “exclusionary,” or even “crusader-like,” but that would not have been good enough for Sontag. Thus her use of “jihadist,” deriving, of course, from the Arabic word for “holy war or spiritual struggle against infidels.” Manifestly, Sontag did not intend to imply that George W. Bush had converted to Islam. She meant that the present U.S. government was as zealous and vengeful as . . . but the lady preferred not to connect the dots.

I'd like to see Susan Sontag in Taliban-era Afghanistan, figuring out what is and is not "jihadist" from underneath a burkha. She's one of these people who really hates the U.S.

But, you know, to be fair, she has a point. We enslaved Africans and exterminated Native Americans, when we were attacked in World War II we dropped nuclear weapons on civilians and didn't lose a moment's sleep, and we export tacky culture to every corner of the world, demanding that it conform or else. You know, she's right -- we're awful. In fact, I'd venture to say that we're the worst country on Earth EXCEPT FOR EVERY OTHER FUCKING COUNTRY THAT HAS EVER EXISTED, BECAUSE WE HAVE SAVED MORE LIVES, FED MORE HUNGRY, LIBERATED MORE PRISONERS AND MADE POSSIBLE A BETTER FUCKING LIFE FOR MORE FUCKING PEOPLE THAN ALL THE OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, FUCKING COMBINED.

In other words, bitch, no, we're not perfect. But if you hate the U.S. so much, Delta is ready when you are.
Yeah, I know my template is screwed up. I'm working on it. Get over it.

Friday, August 09, 2002

It had to happen.

I'm not talking about the lawsuit filed by a guy named Caesar Barber who claims fast-food restaurants are to blame for two heart attacks, not to mention his high cholesterol, diabetes and the fact that he's, well, fat.

I'm talking about the inevitable backlash in which someone says, in effect, first they crack down on smoking, then they crack down on junk food.

As if there's no real difference.

But there is. In fact, there are many. And I shouldn't have to take my valuable time explaining them, but apparently there are tens of millions of people in this country who either take a perverse delight in aiding and abetting murder or who are too fucking dumb to be allowed to wander the streets unaccompanied.

So here they are.

First: Cigarettes are the only legally available consumer product that kills about one-third of its users when used as intended. Nothing else does that: not cars, not liquor, not Saturday-Night Specials.

Second: Cigarettes kill more people prematurely -- between 400,000 and 425,000 per year, according to the best available research -- than damn near anything else you can think of ... combined. More than motor-vehicle accidents, shootings, stabbings, drownings, drug overdoses, etc., etc.

Third: If you eat fatty food, it won't give me a heart attack, but if you smoke near me, you could well make me sick. Indeed, second-hand smoke probably is the direct cause of tens of thousands of premature deaths in America each year.

Here are some other reasons why cigarettes are a special case:

For one thing, cigarette makers lied repeatedly for decades -- first, saying that cigarettes were healthy; later, saying that they knew of no proof that cigarettes were dangerous. In fact, they knew all along, or from shortly after World War II onward. Now, this, to my mind -- and, I would add, to the mind of anyone with enough sense to come in out of the rain -- makes them people who murder for money. You sell a product you know kills people, you're a murderer. It's that simple. Do not insult my intelligence by trying to tell me that because the Nazis, during their 12-year reign, murdered an average of 1 million people per year while the cigarette makers average only 400,000 to 425,000 per year, that there's any moral difference between them.

But, hey, don't take my word for it. Take the Joe Eszterhas, a screenwriter and former journalist who seems to have quite literally gotten religion on the subject.

So National Rifle Association president and alleged actor Charlton Heston might have Alzheimer's. OK, Chuck, put the gun down slowly and nobody will get hurt.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

So I see where Elizabeth Dole is pulling a Hillary and running for U.S. Senate from North Carolina, a state where she hasn't lived since, like, the Pleistocene Era. Geez. Here's a woman who has fallen upward her entire life. She did nothing at not one but two Cabinet posts, and she was famous at the Red Cross for showing up at disasters just before the TV cameras. Talk about an empty suit -- when Bob Dole and his Viagra go to do their husbandly duty, I gotta figure they rattle around in there like the three remaining living brain cells rattle in Keith Richards' skull.

Hell of it is, she'll probably win.