Category Archives: Political Commentary

Bloviation From Pyongyang

If you’re interested in a view from an alternate universe, you may be interested in news from the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK). When a country has to include both “democratic” and “republic” in its name, it’s a safe bet that it’s neither…

Anyway, there are several amusing articles there, with titles like, U.S. use of biological and chemical weapons assailed, KCNA on U.S. futile attempts, Bush’s projected trip to S. Korea opposed, and Full play to advantages of Korean socialist economic management called for.

Some of the articles are en espanol. Don’t ask why.

They also have an enlightening article about the Dear Leader, called Anecdotes about President Kim Il Sung. It’s a real hoot:

…when the president gave field guidance to Kaesong area on September 14, Juche 61 (1972). He asked officials there what was the special food of the area.

None of them could give a correct answer to the questions repeatedly put by him in the course of the on-the-spot guidance.

While visiting factories in the city he met old men who had lived there for years and found out that loach soup was a special food of the city.

And he made sure that a new restaurant was built there to serve only loach soup to the customers.

Markets? We don’t need no stinkin’ markets! We’ve got a leader.


Politically, it was a home run.

And from a war standpoint, I could have asked for no more.

From a policy standpoint, I found it disappointing on the domestic front.

While it was general and thematic, the themes were definitely not federalist or classically liberal ones–we, the federal government, are responsible for security, local and national; we, the federal government, are responsible for your health care; we, the federal government, are responsible to see that you have a job, or get prescription drugs, or don’t get screwed if the company you work for goes under. We, the federal government, are responsible for your lives–not you.

On the other hand, it’s good political strategy. It looks to me like Rove & Co. have made a political judgment that they want to put the Dems in a box, and take back the Senate, and build their strength in the House. We didn’t get into this socialist mess overnight, and we won’t get out of it quickly either. I’m willing to wait until 2005 to start to roll back this crap–I just wish that I had some sense that this was really what they’re planning…

With Friends Like These…

I’m wondering on just what planet Brian Linse was living during the Clinton Administration that could cause him to type the following with (presumably) a straight face (re: Ken Lay):

Regardless of what illegal shenanigans the Enron boys may or may not have gotten up to in the past, Bush will and should be judged for having such a miserable scumbag as a close friend and supporter. Even with all of his problems, the Slick One never had an albatross like Lay around his neck.

Ummmm, let’s see, just off the top of my head…

Dan Lasater (Convicted Drug Dealer)
David Hale (Convicted of Fraud)
Jim And Susan McDougal (Convicted Fraud Artists)
Buddy Young (Strong-Arm Enforcer)
Jorge Cabrera (Convicted Drug Dealer)
Web Hubbell (Convicted Felon)
Arthur Coia (Corrupt Union Official)
Ron Brown (Corrupt Commerce Secretary)
Marc Rich (Fugitive From The Law)…

I’d go on, but I don’t want to get carpal tunnel syndrome.

[Thursday morning update]

And I didn’t even mention the relatives…

Another Ignominious Anniversary

Everyone’s been noting that this is the anniversary of Roe v Wade, but it’s also the first anniversary of the introduction of that Congressional abomination, the McCain-Feingold “Campaign Finance” (read, “make the world safe for continued major-media free-speech monopoly”) legislation.

Fortunately, it didn’t pass, but in following the time-honored rule of hijacking current events to pass ill-thought-out and irrelevant legislation (see, e.g., gun control and Columbine, or Airline Security Bill and 911), the fall back position of the Democrats, should they not be able to pin Enron on the Bush Administration, will be to use it to pass some new campaign finance law.

In honor of the anniversary, I went back and read the bill.

The part I like the best is where no one can buy any ads within sixty days of an election. As an exercise for the lawyers in the audience, go back and read a few copies of the NYT and WaPo during October of 2000, and see if they broke the theoretical law by providing in-kind ads to various candidates.

In other words, since they sell column-inches, column-inches for their own editorial content could be considered to be of value (since they had to forgo advertising revenue for it). Thus anything that they print in preference to ads could be considered purchasing ad space for themselves. If they used it to put forth points of view favorable to one candidate or another, either on the editorial page, or even in the so-called “objective” news stories, then it seems to me that one could make a case against them under McCain-Feingold.

It will be quite amusing if the bill or something similar to it passes (well, actually, that won’t be very amusing at all) and ironic, if someone actually files such a complaint against them, since they’re the biggest cheerleaders for the legislation, and their hero McCain.

Ken, John, And Spike

There’s been a little ongoing discussion amongst Alex Knapp, the Uberblogger, and Boja Willy at Protein Wisdom, about the justice of prison rape (at least, I think that’s what the discussion is about).

I’ve got to go with Alex on this one. California politician Bill Lockyer was rightly castigated when he wished upon Ken Lay a sodomizing roommate named “Spike” a few months ago. That rape ever occurs in our prison system is an appalling indictment of it as an expensive, inhumane failure (at least to the degree that we have any hope for it being rehabilitative–it’s hard to see how this can contribute to an offender becoming a better citizen later), and the cause is the private (and occasionally public, as in l’affaire Lockyer vs Lay) attitudes and casual acceptance or blind eyes of our public officials to it. The War on (Some) Drugs, by overpopulating the system with non-violent offenders who are even more vulnerable to the few violent predators who haven’t been removed from it, in order to make room for them, makes it even worse.

If we truly believe that forced copulation is an appropriate punishment for anyone (though I have trouble conceiving of that as a just desert for anyone except perhaps, in the spirit of eye for eye, a rapist or child molestor), then we should make it the explicit punishment in law, and see if it will get past the Supreme Court and Bill-of-Rights scrutiny (gee, sounds like “cruel and unusual” to me, but what do I know…). Instead, we have a system in which the prison warden is simply given tremendous and arbitrary power over the well-being and ultimate punishment of the prisoners, far beyond what most legislators intended, or even conceived, when defining punishments for various illicit behaviors. And we all know what Lord Acton said about power…

[Monday Errata]

In my original post, I attributed the “Spike” comment about Ken Lay to Secretary of State Bill Jones. A thousand apologies. It was Attorney General Bill Lockyer who, as chief law enforcement officer for the state of California, should be even more ashamed of himself.

[2:10 PST Update]

Reader Quinbus Flestrin has a useful expansion on my theme:

Your presumption that rehabilitation is even a legal purpose of prisons or imprisonment in California is in error. Our betters have made it clear that they do not want anyone ever convicted of any crime to become “better citizens”. They just want to put people away, preferably for nonviolent and victimless “moral” offenses, and use them for slave labor.


SECTION 1170-1170.9

1170. (a) (1) The Legislature finds and declares that the purpose of imprisonment for crime is punishment. This purpose is best served by terms proportionate to the seriousness of the offense with

provision for uniformity in the sentences of offenders committing the same offense under similar circumstances. The Legislature further finds and declares that the elimination of disparity and the provision of uniformity of sentences can best be achieved by determinate sentences fixed by statute in proportion to the seriousness of the offense as determined by the Legislature to be imposed by the court with specified discretion.

* * end CPC cite * *

This provision, enacted overwhelmingly in the 80s IIRC, takes “rehabilitation” out of any legal issues regarding prisons. The only issue is whether punishment is “cruel and unusual”. As prison rape is hardly “unusual”, the only issue left is whether it is “cruel”. Even that is mooted by SCOTUS rulings (don’t ask for a cite, but IIRC the sainted “conservative” Thomas wrote one such decision), that “cruelty” can only be an issue in the *sentence*, not in how the sentence is carried out. If the judge doesn’t say “I sentence you to be raped in prison”, there is no issue.

So, if prison administrators, or prosecutors, decide to set forth prison rape as a policy (the administrators by encouraging it, the prosecutors by not prosecuting offenders), there is no real legal impediment to their doing so. (Don’t ever believe a prosecutor who says they have no discretion over which criminal accusations to prosecute–they have complete discretion.)

With the passage of California’s Prop. 21 in ’98 or so, prosecutors now have virtually complete discretion in whether juveniles are tried and sentenced as adults. Around the same time, Prop. 179 allowed prisons to contract out prisoners for labor in private industry.

The circuit for moral and financial corruption in California’s criminal “justice” system is complete. Prosecutors and police can select children for rape fodder to be used by prison administrators to further debase and corrupt their prisoner slave laborers.

Those who voted for such propositions, or who supported legislators enacting such laws, and who further cried out for more harsh criminal court procedures and sentencing, and “zero tolerance” for kids who even unwittingly carry a plastic butterknife to make their school lunch sandwiches, can now congratulate themselves. Of course, when their child is sent up the river to be Bubba’s girlfriend for carrying a butterknife to school in his lunchbox, they’ll whine that they didn’t really mean it. But the courts will say “Tough, the law is unambiguous. Government can do any of this. It’s nice work if you can get it. If you don’t like it, change the law.”

Don’t get me started on “Zero Intelligence^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HTolerance.” I’ll save that rant for another post.

Moral: Be careful what you ask for. You might get it.


Wrong, Right Out Of The “Enron” Box

In an article titled “The Enron Box,” author Matt Bivens and The Nation attempts once again to pin the tail on the elephant.

Here’s the lead sentence:

When George W. Bush co-owned the Houston Astros and construction began on a new stadium, Kenneth Lay agreed to spend $100 million over thirty years for rights to name the park after Enron.

Only one problem. Bush co-owned the Texas Rangers, not the Houston Astros.

Do you, like me, wonder what else they got wrong? Considering the source, is it even worth bothering to read the rest?

Wrong, Right Out Of The “Enron” Box

In an article titled “The Enron Box,” author Matt Bivens and The Nation attempts once again to pin the tail on the elephant.

Here’s the lead sentence:

When George W. Bush co-owned the Houston Astros and construction began on a new stadium, Kenneth Lay agreed to spend $100 million over thirty years for rights to name the park after Enron.

Only one problem. Bush co-owned the Texas Rangers, not the Houston Astros.

Do you, like me, wonder what else they got wrong? Considering the source, is it even worth bothering to read the rest?