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Archives up to 2001/08

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Can't really blame Dubya for this week's bad news in Japan. Another suspected rape by a serviceman stationed in Okinawa. Seems to be one of those easy no-brainer crises, but maybe they'll figure out some way to mess it up. So far the new ambassador and the Bushies are saying the usual things, but it seems possible there will be a problem at the next stage. Last I read, the Japanese authorities believe the rapist has been identified, and they now want him turned over to them, but there was some mumbling about protecting his legal rights under the American legal system. Just mumblings, or is there some special problem in this case? Of course, there is no question that the judicial systems are very different, and what passes for routine interrogation in Japan would be regarded as a violation of legal and civil rights in America. However, the normal handling of these cases over the last few years has been a quick transfer to the Japanese authorities, and I don't see any rationale for delay in this case. It would certainly cause significant problems in the international relationship, and Dubya is supposed to favor very strict laws (at least for other people), so Japan's very strict laws regarding rape ought to merit his seal of approval.

An interesting international rumor said that Foreign Minister Tanaka described Bush in extremely rude terms when she visited her old high school in the States. Possible, since the description struck me as rather suitable, but I actually doubt it. Yes, she has a reputation for direct talk even to the point of rudeness, but the reported comment was just too strong to believe, and the sources were below my credibility threshold. However, I should try to trace the rumor just to see where it came from.

The rest of Dubya's problems seem to be much more awkward--no obvious and convenient responses. They had to put a fancier pacemaker in Cheney, but they still deny there are any real problems with his health, and Dubya still can't admit to making a mistake--at least not until it kills Cheney. Actually, even that case I doubt he'll accept any responsibility. I wonder what odds the bookies are currently giving against Cheney lasting four years? And are they factoring in any of the stress for the probes of his financial dealings? Actually, quite a number of Bushes aides and appointees are being accused of various ethical lapses. So much for restoring honor and dignity.

Dubya also faces increasing dissatisfaction and dissent at home, too, possibly helped along by the recent publication of several more books about the non-precedent-setting Bush v. Gore decision. However, the big factors will probably be economic, as in economic downturn and the effects of the tax cut. It looks like the federal surpluses of the Clinton years will become a deficit before the next election--but Dubya's rich friends will be a bit richer by then. However, I suppose the specific item that most annoys me is that it looks like Microsoft is going to ignore the monopoly finding--Bush really feels Microsoft's pain!

Elsewhere, Syria is annoyed at Powell's having skipped them in his recent Middle East visit, and the fighting in that neighborhood and in Macedonia seems to be getting worse. China seems to be going nuts about getting the Olympics in 2008, and Dubya apparently doesn't want to make an issue of it, but they just had a mass suicide (or possibly a work camp murder) of 14 more religious dissidents. If Bush's quiet support for the WTO and 2008 Olympics was part of a secret deal for the spy plane, the situation could get messy--and I really think he's dumb enough to have approved such a deal in his desperation to get the crew home quickly.

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Maybe Dubya actually is going to muck up the rape incident. The Japanese have been getting increasingly noisy about it, diplomatically and in the local news, and in yesterday's paper, I read that Bush is in the loop on this apparently trivial matter. The serviceman is using the usual defense, that the victim wanted to have sex with him, though I suppose he admits that doing it on the hood of a parked car was his idea. Is the rape charge merely due to the public embarrassment? Or is it the usual rapist blaming the victim defense? Something like "It's her fault for being alone and dressed like that. And she shouldn't be so young and weak!"

That would fit right in with other Republican 'philosophies' like refusing abortion even in cases of rape, but mostly it reminds me of the recent demonizing of Chuy's over the Jenna incident. Calls for boycotting the restaurant and reportedly even death threats against the manager for acting to protect his business. The fundamental problem is that ANYONE could recognize Jenna and her sister, so anyone could report it to the police and they'd yank Chuy's liquor license. And without that license, they would be out of business. I've heard the manager was angry at the time, but I don't blame him.

Actually, this is an interesting season for a rape incident. Today is Tanabata, a major romantic festival in Japan. I don't remember all the details, but the weaver and her beloved wound up in the heavens, but on opposite sides of the Milky Way. Only once a year, and only if the weather is clear, are they allowed to cross the River of Heaven (literal translation of the Japanese for Milky Way) and meet.

Maybe the rape incident is over ? (At least the international diplomacy part of it.) As I wrote this, the local news seemed to say that Dubya had agreed to turn the suspect over the to the Japanese authorities this morning. But perhaps the reason for the awkwardness was revealed? I think they showed the suspect on TV, and if that was him, he's Black, the the GOPs keep mumbling about desperately wanting more than 10% of the Black vote. Numerically speaking, I don't really understand their rationale, but maybe they just see them as suckers who ought to be easily fooled into voting Republican? Seems to me like a lot of their supporters are suckers of one stripe or another. Still, it seems like the obvious way to earn some of their votes would be for the GOP to stop favoring rich WASPs--at least so blatantly as in the recent tax cut.

On the Tanaka rumor mentioned above, I conclude it is baseless. Probably completely groundless, and possibly even another attempt to discredit her as head of the Foreign Ministry. I can't find any credible evidence of the statement. Also, there's a fundamental problem: It would have been a stupid thing to say, and even her worst enemies can't call her stupid. Plenty of other negative ways to describe Dubya, and no good reason for her to be so rude about it. However, even on the rudeness question, I think her reputation is overstated, mostly based on her not showing sufficient respect for the old male fat cats who run Japan. They are still miffed that such an important post went to a very independent woman. I think even a very rude Japanese would be unlikely to go as far as calling Dubya nasty names, even without considering the diplomatic aspects.

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Didn't notice much related to Dubya last week. One of the local papers did carry an article saying that the delay was actually related to internal squabbling between Defense and State. I'm not sure if the Defense people were going as far as wanting to abrogate the Clinton-era agreement that is supposed to cover this, but State was definitely pushing for quick compliance with that agreement. I'm not really sure if they were splitting legal hairs or if there were more substantive issues involved, but it looks like one of the few occasions where Powell may have prevailed. He's already getting a reputation as the odd man out, however. Barring an expression of interest or new developments, it doesn't seem worth writing more about the problematic history here.

There was some news about the start of actual construction of the latest incarnation of Star Wars. This part will be built in Alaska, and the schedule said 2005 for completion. Doesn't make any more military sense than it ever did, but Dubya is obviously in a big hurry on it this time around. Unfortunately, I can only think of one event that will definitely kill this zombie, and that would be the delivery sans missile of a nuclear weapon by a terrorist. Actually, as I was reviewing this it was mentioned on the television news again. The Japanese seem to see it as only increasing their risk without offering any benefit.

I've been trying to catch the Olympic news on TV, since the decision for 2008 should have been made already, but if they mentioned it, I missed it. There has been quite a bit of news on Korea, but I haven't heard anything on China.

Maybe this next item is apocryphal, but it is just SO Dubya that I believe it. In fact, whether or not it is true, the very fact that so many people find it so believable is part of the problem. 'Restore honor and dignity.' Not hardly. The story is that a few days ago Bush was meeting the guests at yet another private party, and one of the organizers caught him off guard with a statement like 'I think you're doing a bad job and should not win the next election.' Bush dug deep into his bag of witty repartee and said "Who cares what you think?" When the fellow whipped out a notebook to jot down the exchange, Dubya got really bent out of shape and decided he was some kind of journalist. But Bush is already famous for similar gaffes like wanting limits on the First Amendment and praising his own dictatorship. I should check the urban legends site to see what they say, eh? Not related to Japan, but at least the item got here.

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Basically only indirect news this week, and very little of it. Dubya has been at the sharply divided G-7 and G-8 meetings in Europe. Basically divided between him and the rest of the world's leaders. That's not to say that there aren't times when only one guy is right, but I sure don't believe that this is one of them. I think that the one guy should be standing up for some strong and important principle ahead of its time, not something kind of low and sleazy like "It will basically inconvenience some of my corporate donors if we try to reduce CO2 admissions." Or the one guy is smarter than the rest of them, but 'nuff said on that angle. Missile defense is the other big division, again Dubya versus all comers. The Japanese connection is that Prime Minister Koizumi is at the meetings. In fact, as I write this the TV is showing a press conference with Koizumi. An Italian fellow is asking a question in Japanese, which is kind of surprising--most of the questions are being translated from other languages. Something long and complicated about Italian opera and Foreign Minister Tanaka. I'd wager there will be nothing significant commitments. Even the apparent agreement on helping poor nations seems weak and strained.

Very non-Japanese news, but worth noting, is the peculiar death of James Hatfield. Hatfield certainly was high on the list of people whose suicide would not cause Dubya to be all choked up with grief. Hatfield wrote Fortunate Son, a controversial and very unauthorized biography claiming that the Bushes hushed up a cocaine bust of Dubya back in 1972. Given the purely circumstantial evidence, I'd dismiss the claim except for the fact that the Bushes did manage to hush up his DWI conviction for over 20 years, which is pretty amazing and much less serious. Given Dubya's snake-like morals, I sincerely find myself wondering if Hatfield was 'encouraged' to go away. The evidence is very mixed and quite circumstantial, to boot. In favor of real suicide, is that he was about to be arrested and seemed to have a thoroughly nasty past--even worse than Dubya's, though it's hard to be sure because there was a lot of well-publicized and intense ad hominem vilification after he wrote the book. Opposing the suicide theory is that the book was selling quite well, and probably would have done even better with the publicity of his arrest and enforced 'vacation'. I'd have even expected a lot of poor black inmates to have regarded him as a kind of political prisoner on their side.

Anyway, I don't see any reason to get paranoid for my own sake. If they want to start going after everyone with an anti-Dubya Web page, I'd be way down on the list. And while I'm willing to believe it's (barely) conceivable that so few people knew about a Dubya cocaine arrest that they've managed to hush it up, if they start going after his abundant critics wholesale, well, that's just too much to hide. Also, I'd probably be an unusually awkward target... But I obviously won't say why, just in case. And after all, Dubya is on my list--I'll be glad to see him disappear from public life, and I certainly think the sooner the better.

Actually, I've purchased a number of anti-Dubya books from Amazon, and will be reviewing them from next month in another part of this site. But Hatfield's book is not included, and, based on the various reviews I studied, I sure wouldn't pay for it. However, it's already up to 77th on the latest bad news. Most authors would be very happy with that.

A very tangential note, but as I checked the spelling I was reminded about the two books mentioned at the top of this page. Not sure about The Clothes Have No Emperor, though it is definitely unavailable now, but I am sure that both The Glass Teat and Fortunate Son were both targeted for suppression. Maybe there is a difference between the two parties. These books all criticized prominent Republicans. My fuzzy recollection is that The Glass Teat was out of print within 10 years, and even before Reagan was elected president just as predicted in the book, and the very interesting The Clothes Have No Emperor lasted only a few years after it was published. There are LOTS of books very critical of Democrats, too, but I can't recall any incidents where they were suppressed. Anyone have any examples that have become unavailable so quickly?

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Yet another slow week for Dubya news. All I recall is more criticism of the danger of reviving the arms race, more criticism of the unilateral rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, and some new criticism of the cluelessness of the Bushies' technological policies.

So for a very minor entertainment I'll report the first public criticism of this Web site by a Dubya supporter. Kind of a lame criticism, but at least someone noticed. Unfortunately, the extent of the deep criticism was to say that there were three "factual errors" somewhere in my probable harms page. Factual errors are easy to fix and would improve my pages, but he didn't give any details or even a hint. And unfortunately, that's a page of opinions and future speculations. There are many facts there, but just the non-controversial background data that underlies any communication, and certainly nothing that is focal to the speculations. From that I have to guess he can't tell the difference between fact and opinion, and what he noticed was that some of our opinions differ. Ergo, I guess I just have to dismiss his comments as unhelpful.

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Took the day off today and happened to see the local paper. Noticed two front page items about Dubya. One was just another anti-science thing, about restricting certain kinds of biological research mostly related to cloning. It didn't make as much of an impression on me as the cut of the research funding for Johns Hopkins a few weeks ago. The other item was an American assessment that the ABM treaty will effectively be violated to death as early as this winter by the current ABM project that Dubya is pushing--without any Congressional approval that I'm aware of. Pretty sure there was at least one other negative mention in an inside article, but I'm getting numb and I can't even remember what it was. It may have been about how Dubya is such a great ignore-the-polls leader that his handlers are starting a new campaign on some kind of 'community morality' issue. Going to try to re-engineer his image. That way they can ignore the polls as they sway public opinion to get some political leverage, I guess. Must be a pragmatic and logical reason in there somewhere. I guess the compassionate conservative thing must be too much of a joke by now.

An Internet source mentioned that every country EXCEPT for the good ol' U.S. of A. had decided to go ahead with the Kyoto Protocol. Presumably they are hoping that Dubya will smell the roses at some point. I'm hoping for more, like the Democrats having veto-override power after the next election. That would be fun to watch. That article also said that America was standing alone on practically every issue and major treaty, though there was an interesting statement from Powell to the contrary. It actually motivated me to drop him an unkind email line.

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Taking another day off?!? I'm becoming a slacker? Am I getting inspired by Dubya's month-long vacation? That would be a terrible contamination. Japanese background information time: This is the Obon season in Japan. Not exactly rigidly fixed, since different areas have slightly different traditions, but it lasts about a week and is a big time for taking vacations. Officially, my office encourages everyone to take next week, but things had already started winding down over the last few days. My own work is mostly short-term responses to other people in the company, so when the requests thin out, I soon run out of work, so I decided to take today off and mess with the Japanese Windows 2000 problems (until about 3 a.m. this morning). Not sure what I'll do for actual work next week, if anything. (Too many vacation days piling up, and I may forfeit some of them if I don't get under the limit before January...)

However, with Dubya slacking off there hasn't been much relevant news this week. I noticed a few more comments about the increasing isolation of the US, but not exactly news there. There was a bit about Dubya's golf course comments on the increasing violence in the Middle East. Lots of people dying there just now. I certainly hope the tremendous stress didn't hurt his putting.

Nevertheless, in Dubya's case doing nothing is the best hope for avoiding mistakes, so I guess it would be fine with me if he extended his vacation for three years or so. Probably a good thing for the country, too. Nevertheless, I still have to include this precious quote from when Dubya was asked about people who were unhappy to hear he was taking a month off: "They don't understand the definition of work," Bush said. What an inspiration to hard-working Americans everywhere! Definitions he wants, eh?

1     2     3
Across Down
  1. Synonym for 2 Down. Said: "[My critics] don't understand the definition of work."
  2. What 1 Across really is, the SCOTUS Five notwithstanding.
  1. Wits of 1 Accross.
  2. Lazy bum.
  3. What 2 Down is always putting on.

(Click on the pencil for the answers: Click here for answers)

Reflecting on his first six months, so far it looks like the only moderately substantive result was the tax cut, which will eventually result in a good bit of extra money for Dubya and his rich friends. However, so far it's only producing a trickle for many people, and if the economic situation continues to deteriorate, there may be an offsetting tax increase before he even gets his big chunks of extra cash. Last I heard on the topic, the Treasury Department already needed to borrow about $50 billion, though maybe that was just a short-term cash flow type of problem.

However in another area, maybe we're suffering yet more harms from Dubya's foolishness. When you go around beating on wasp's nests with sticks, someone is likely to get stung. Can't prove anything, but my own theory is that the original Code Red word really was developed in China as an angry response to Dubya's recent provocations. The evidence is the Web page hack that credited the Chinese, and the poorly done targeting of the White House for the first payload. Then again, maybe it was a frame. Whatever. Yet the estimated cost of dealing with this little nuisance is passing $2 billion, of which I'm sad to note that none will be paid by Dubya or Microsoft.

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Well, the obvious pattern emerging is that I try to write every week or so, but this week there really is nothing to report. Dubya is still vacationing, though someone is directing some attacks on Iraq. I'm pretty sure Bush has been informed. Heck, he was probably even asked to approve before they started.

Should I speculate that he's actually there to hide from more assassination plots? Pretty hard for an assassin to sneak up on him out there in the boondocks. Or maybe he's really trying to mask his testimony in the civil lawsuit he's involved in? Last reports said they could call Dubya to the stand about now. As background information, this precedent that the White House resident cannot postpone civil lawsuits was established just for President Clinton by the same SCOTUS that put Dubya there. Bush's lawsuit might be a bit more sordid--influence peddling for the rich morticians. Just speculating, but I suppose the lawsuit could become amusing. Assassination would be less amusing, but wouldn't surprise me a bit. One wannabe assassin was already sentenced.

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That was supposed to be a joke, albeit one of my typically rather poor ones, but from later news, I don't think it was so funny. In fact, it is clear that they really are VERY seriously afraid of someone snuffing Dubya. During his extended vacation, he wanted to see a baseball game. Apparently too risky to consider a Rangers game, even if that was his old team, so he dropped in for some of the middle innings of a game in Colorado. He couldn't just discretely slip into the owner's private box. They actually searched the ENTIRE crowd as they entered the stadium, with 45 minute delays. And they put up special giant curtains to block any view of the owner's private box from the surrounding countryside. This is not the way a popular guy does things, even when he's supposed to be most popular with the people who have most of the guns.

Obviously, if they say anything official about such bizarre extremes of security, it's going to to be to blame the need on international threats, but I sure can't buy that. In terms of international enemies, Bush's increasing isolation of America is the greatest thing that could be happening for most of our enemies. We're practically throwing our international friends out the windows these days, and the constant refrain is things like '142 countries are in favor of this treaty, but Dubya is rejecting it as far as the US is concerned.' The rest of the world and at least half of America be danged--but Dubya is sure he is right. And everyone, even including most of his supporters, admits that Dubya doesn't even understand what is going on. If I were an enemy of America, I'd be utterly delighted at those odds.

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