Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Finally a good article on the California electricity crisis. The bottom line is that through the use of corporate structure and a sort of legal shell game literally billions of dollars has been extracted from consumers and given to energy corporations. Right-wing toadies claim that the market always works, and the problem wouldn't have arisen if full deregulation were in place. The price of energy would then rise until the demand dropped and there would no longer be a shortage. What they fail to mention is that the result of this would be that the average Californian could no longer afford to pay for any electricity! Even funnier is that
Bush, buddy of one of the evil energy corporations, Enron, is using the California crisis as an argument to allow these new Alaska oil wells, when one issue has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Leaving aside the fact that it would take years to develop the new wells, there is absolutely no economic reason to argue that the new wells would have any effect on the global oil price, and thus couldn't lower the cost of power production in California or anywhere else.

Monday, January 29, 2001

The U. S. Supreme Court travesty has inspired lots of good attacks. This one goes into the difficulties the so-called justices had in finding a ratio for their foregone conclusion, and provides a little background into Rehnquist's previous political judicial actions.

Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Jesse Jackson and G. Gordon Liddy don't seem to have a lot in common. However, each in his own way is illustrating the huge importance of sexual blackmail in Washington politics. Ironically, Jackson was accused of tempering his complaints about the Florida election debacle due to pressure from Wall Street money backers, when the pressure really seems to be threat of disclosure. The threat apparently wasn't enough to keep him from screwing up the inauguration, so he was put out of commission for a key few days, only to spring back after the inauguration good as new. Liddy, on the other hand, is being sued for surmising that the Watergate break-in was connected to a Democrat-run call-girl ring operating out of the DNC offices in the Watergate Hotel. However nutty this theory may seem, it is a fact that no explanation has ever been given for Nixon getting involved in the harebrained scheme of ordering a break-in, with no plausible advantage and huge risk. Clinton's Presidency was wrecked by a sort of general fear of disclosure, culminating in the impeachment (just think what Clinton might have been able to do if he had been free of the 'bimbo erruptions' and Lewinsky). If there were any real journalists in Washington one of them could write a book about the recent history of sexual blackmail.
Canada has a spiffy new design for the $10 bill. It looks like a European type of note design (no borders) and is apparently easy to identify by touch. Sir John A. looks a little 'unwell', so it is also historically accurate.
In the course of discussing the notorious U. S. Supreme Court selection of Bush as President, Vincent Bugliosi calls the majority 'criminals', 'five pompous asses', and 'the felonious five', amongst other things. He flushes their excremental decision about as thoroughly as a judicial decision can be flushed. As he points out, perhaps the most outrageous part of the decision is the explicit limitation of it to the selection of Bush as President. Even this Court was responsible enough to want to limit the damage that might result if such a bad decision were allowed to have any influence over the law. The irony of course is that any extension of equal protection in voting rights cases might acually lead to enfranchising voters, a horror for which the majority wouldn't want to be responsible.
Saturday Night has an interview with a member of the Edible Ballot Society. A Canadian ballot is quite big and is printed on thick paper (presumably to be opaque), and would be quite a chew. Americans can snack on chads.

Thursday, January 18, 2001

Do you think the eve-of-the-inauguration timing of the revelation of Jesse Jackson's family problems is a coincidence? If you do, there's a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you . . .

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Speaking of pardons, what about Mumia?
Canada won't have Lucien Bouchard to kick around anymore. He was a Quebec separatist whose politics was grounded in a feeling of perpetual insult, that English Canada didn't give proper respect to him and other French Canadians. His politics was personal, and he differed from a large portion of the most rabid separatists, whose politics is based on xenophobia and racism (they really hate having the racist history of Quebecois nationalism pointed out). Bouchard could never accept this nationalism as his politics was based in an aversion to racism partly due to feeling himself a victim of racism. Support for separatism is made up of the racist minority of nationalist true believers and the majority of the population whose support for separation waxes and wanes depending on how accepted they feel in Canada. Thus, separatists prospered in the wake of Meech Lake and Charlottetown, when Quebecers felt rejected by Canada. Conversely, and contrary to the expressed opinions of many journalists, support for separatism has fallen after the Guy Bertrand Supreme Court reference and the Clarity Act, as a majority of the Quebecois population saw these as assertions by English Canada that it actually cared about Quebec and didn't want to lose it. So Bouchard leaves at least in part because he couldn't put up with the anti-semitism of the rabid nationalists, and thus goes out a statesman. Who knows what devils will take power now.
What are the chances that Michael Milken won't get a Clinton pardon and Leonard Peltier will? Where did the idea that Milken should get a pardon come from (let me guess - I bet he paid some of the big bucks he scammed and was allowed to keep to an expensive P. R. firm, who have created a 'grassroots campaign' for him)? One reason given for a pardon is that he has given a lot of money to charity. If you consider where this money came from, this is not unlike the guy who kills his parents and then seeks mercy because he is an orphan. Seeing as Milken is sort of the Robin Hood of predatory capitalism, stealing from everyone to give to himself, and seeing as he's already gotten away with his crimes to an outrageous degree, it seems a fitting coda to Clinton's greasy Presidency to pardon him.

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Quine and Anscombe in less than a month.
I think that the U. S. Supreme Court ruling selecting Bush as President was a travesty, not only for the sloppiness of the writing of the judgments (which can be partially excused by the time factor), and the ridiculous way in which the separate sets of decisions make it impossible to figure out what the court said (which confusion may be intentional in order to blunt the fatuousness of the majority decision), but also because legal ideas created as anti-discrimination measures were used to thwart the democratic expression of minorities. This is a kind of 'in your face' judicial decision making that clearly shows distain for minority citizens, and has no place in a supreme court. It seems to me that Justice Ginsburg's 'attitude' expressed in omitting the word 'respectfully' from her dissent may reflect the fact that Scalia somehow misled her into thinking he'd have a less insulting ratio for the majority decision, but at the last minute used the discrimination argument. All this on top of the fact that much of the majority decision was based on shortness of time in part created by the Court by its injunction, the extremely questionable familial conflict of interest problems of Scalia and Thomas, and the ill-advised partisan election-night remarks of O'Connor. Whatever one may think of the legalities of the decision, the majority of the court acted in as judicially unprofessional a way as is conceivable. They went so over the top in their unprofessionalism that it is impossible to see it as other than intentional, partly to dissuade Gore from taking any other steps, knowing that they would do anything to keep him out, and partly as the sheer agression needed to seal the success of a coup d'etat.
Do you think that Linda Chavez, who is famously against affirmative action, but who was picked to be secretary of labor because her sex and race disguised her conservative views, appreciates the irony that she was thrown over the side by the Son-Select as a form of reverse affirmative action in order to increase the confirmation chances of old white male Ashcroft (on the theory that the wimpy Democrats only have so much energy for challenging)? Probably not. Speaking of Chavez, who was the genius who thought that it would help her position to claim that the payments she made to the illegal alien were 'gifts' and the work done by the illegal alien was 'chores'? In the context of harboring an illegal alien this intentional confusion of roles means that the person appointed to be secretary of labor had not the slightest idea of what a labor relationship looks like.

Friday, January 12, 2001

I wonder what Henry Kissinger thinks about Clinton's signing on to the International Criminal Court. Could he be in any danger of having to spend some time making licence plates in The Hague? Why isn't he in Bush's cabinet? Too young, I guess.

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

This is an outstanding article by singer-songwriter Steve Earle on the last days and execution of Jonathan Nobles. I particularly like the part about how 'the prison provides this service [Polaroid photographs of the prisoner with his friends] for the fee of eight dollars each.' It is a Texas execution so I wonder if the Son-Select has read this article and is proud of his work.

Monday, January 08, 2001

One could make the argument that the completely spineless lack of opposition by the Democrats to the Bush coup d'etat (with the distinguished exception of the Congressional Black Caucus) proves the Nader point that it makes no difference whether you vote for tweedledum or tweedledee.

Monday, January 01, 2001

The main socialist party in Canada, the New Democratic Party (NDP), has got its shorts in a knot over whether it should fully morph into a British Labour Party clone (and thus taste some of that sweet, sweet political success), or become a real socialist party. The current leadership (if you can call it that) wants to go the wishy-washy route, become friendly to business, and even advocate tax cuts, thus making the NDP indistinguishable from all other mainstream Canadian parties. The history behind this is tied into the relative success of some Canadian labour unions, who have members who are so well paid that they now identify with a pro-business ideology. The union leaders spout the socialist jargon and support the NDP with money and election support, but their members would never dream of voting for the damn commies. Unlike in Britain, however, where the Labour Party has found a mainstream niche for itself based as much as anything on the buffoonery of the Conservative Party (not to mention a lingering 'love' for Margaret Thatcher), any attempt in Canada to head for the political centre will run smack dab into the Canadian Liberal Party (a party which clings, leech-like, to the center of the political spectrum). Why would a leftist party wimp out and try to be like everybody else when young voters and prospective voters are accepting in greater and greater numbers that the real issues are anti-globalism, anti-corporate-control, environmentalism, and so on. This is a rare if not unique turning point where a certain type of progressive idea is entering the mainstream consciousness of young people. The lessons of Prague and Seattle are completely lost on the greybeards who are content to let the NDP sink into mediocrity.
An idea that was last bandied about in the 70's, guaranteed annual income, has made a reappearance. A trial balloon has even been floated by the recently reelected Liberal government in Canada. The mere idea of this has caused apoplexy in the press. Of course, the real problem with it is the same problem with health insurance-it makes people comfortable enough that they can afford to ask for more.
For a long time the Canadian press has been railing how we've got to be more like New Zealand, and plunge boldly into free market solutions for everything. Funny, but they've not mentioned New Zealand for a while now.