The Friends of California Libre...

20 August 2003

The Blood Red Planet

Greetings, friends,
This will probably sound pompous, but there are certain days that I play a particularly depressing CD, and this was definitely one of those days. It was a hard day for planet Earth, and a lot of people trying to do the right thing or doing nothing at all were killed for no reason. Can I blame all this violence on our government? Nope, but I'll add that aggression, no matter how well intentioned, leads inevitable to more aggression, and what really is disgusting are terms like "soft target" and "collateral damage" that basically mean, kill anything that moves. Do you feel any safer now?

People are getting torn up every day (thanks, Ellen) and there's nothing ironic about it. Be warned, this article about civilian casualties in Iraq pulls no punches:

In case you were wondering, it is the Cello Concerto in E minor by Elgar, a dirge he wrote just after World War I, just after his wife died and he himself was dying, played by Jacqueline Du Pre when she was at her most passionate, around twenty years old. Yeah, it's pompous, and it ranks up with Janis Joplin's "Summertime" for tear-jerking. But when you really thrust yourself into the fast currents of this life, you might as well let yourself go.

A good relief is looking up at the sky, and many of you have noticed that Mars is getting brighter and brighter...the last time it was this close, our poor ancestors were scratching out a tough existence in Africa; they were still ten-thousand years from making their first big exodus to Australia and the Middle East.

This Saturday night you can go join some fellow star-gazers at the Griffith Observatory annex (off the LA Zoo parking lot). There will undoubtedly be some telescopes available to see the Red Planet up close (thanks, Miles):
August 23 - Los Angeles, California - Star Party at 8:00 p.m., Lecture at 10:00 p.m. & Workshop at 11 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. Free at Griffith Observatory Satellite, 4800 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, California. Free parking is available in the zoo/museum parking lot. For further information, please visit

If we're not careful, we'll be living on the Red Planet pretty soon:
Global Warming May be Speeding Up, Fears Scientist
Alarm at 'unusual' heatwaves across northern hemisphere
By John Vidal
The Guardian

Not that our leaders care...they'll all be dead, right?
Bush Misuses Science, Report Says
Democrats Say Data Are Distorted to Boost Conservative Policies
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post

I've been asked again to circulate a petition on behalf of Amina Lawal, the Nigerian woman who was sentenced to death for adultery. (That's death by stoning, folks, in case you thought being blown up by an asshole was a bad way to die.) Her appeal is to be heard on 27 August, so you've got a week (thanks, Cameo):

Now, do you really think I can blame the blackout back East on the government too? Why not:
Power Outage Traced to Dim Bulb in White House
The Tale of The Brits Who Swiped 800 Jobs From New York, Carted Off $90 Million, Then Tonight, Turned Off Our Lights
Greg Palast

Obviously they think it's very funny over in Iraq (and they even feel a little sorry for us):
** Iraqis 10 tips to beat blackout heat **
Iraqis who have suffered for months with little electricity gloated Friday over a blackout in the northeastern United States and southern Canada and offered some tips to help Americans beat the heat.

Baghdad on the Blackout: A Path to Enlightenment?
By John Tierney
New York Times

But even in the face of disaster all around the globe, when we can barely keep it together at home, the march to the American Empire continues unabated. These clowns are living in the Dark Ages.
Going It Alone
America's wooden stance: King is only player on board
By Clyde Prestowitz
Chicago Tribune

Even their pals in the Republican Party are starting to get nervous:
A Debate Over U.S. 'Empire' Builds in Unexpected Circles
By Dan Morgan
The Washington Post

I'd be nervous too, if I thought I was about to get nuked:
North Korea Next to Hear U.S. War Drum
By Geofrey York
Toronto Globe and Mail

Anyway, speaking of the march to empire, now it's Arnie time like I promised before. I've sent along a nice picture of our maybe-future-Governator (thanks, Miles and Cameo), but compared to some of the other candidates in our idiotic recall election, he really doesn't look so bad. Whatever happens, we don't look very bright. (PS. There is plenty more SCREED after this article.)

Brawny or Scrawny?
August 10, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping his campaign will be a Charles Atlas moment in reverse.

"It's like the famous Muscle Beach scene where the scrawny guy is getting sand kicked in his face by a bodybuilder," said an Arnold adviser. "But in this case, everyone's cheering on the bodybuilder, because the scrawny guy is the mean, nasty, reprehensible one."

The Scrawny Guy, a k a the governor of California, is ready and eager to tattle on Arnold or sue his abs off. Gray Davis is Al Gore without the spontaneity.

The race will be between a governor who became unpopular acting like a robot and an actor who became popular playing one.

After his wife, Maria - who may consider a lot of Sacramento no Camelot - told him Wednesday morning to go for it if he really wanted to, the movie star told his strategists not to put out a prepared statement saying he wouldn't run. On Leno, the advisers, who had done all the spadework for a race but thought it was a no-go, watched agog as the boss began attacking Gray Davis.

"We just looked at each other backstage and said, 'Huh?'" recalled one.

The former Mr. Universe and Junior Mr. Europe pulled a fast one and outsmarted the smarties. With one quip on Leno, he bikini-waxed the entire tedious field of yakking Democratic presidential candidates and sent the political world into a whirl.

When was the last time a big-time candidate gave a speech in a Teutonic accent, sporting hip shades?

California Republicans had nowhere to go but up. In the last election, they were unable to topple one of the most unpopular governors in the state's history. Many were not even interested in challenging Mr. Davis in the recall, figuring it would be better to let him stew in his own $38 billion budget deficit.

They reckoned the recall created a unique opportunity for the 56-year-old Mr. Schwarzenegger. "This is a beauty contest, and Arnold is the best looking guy," one Republican said.

The race is so wacky, there's less emphasis on the fact that the actor is running on pecs and running away from peccadilloes.

Sure, he's smoked marijuana and his father was a Nazi, but look at the field: a porn star who wants to tax breast implants; a self-styled "smut peddler who cares"; a billboard Barbie in a pink Corvette; a former child actor; an ex-cop who wants to legalize ferrets; a comedian who wants to ban low-low-riding pants; a glam Greek columnist whose rich ex-husband endorsed Arnold.

But even swaddled by high-priced political advisers, the Terminator could easily terminate, tripping on his own ego or inexperience or past.

"It depends on how much discipline he has," said one well-connected Republican. "The first stupid thing he says and it could be downhill from there."

Another G.O.P. operative working for Peter Ueberroth said the Olympics impresario will run as "Arnold for adults."

"This will be a real test of how shallow Californians are," he said.

Commentators on the left and right were mocking Mr. Schwarzenegger. Rush Limbaugh said the actor was no "Ronaldus Magnus."

True, Ronald Reagan didn't announce on Johnny Carson. But a lot of pols have gone showbiz since then, from Bill Clinton playing the sax on Arsenio Hall and talking about his choice of underwear on MTV, to Ross Perot announcing his presidential candidacy on Larry King, to Al Gore in the hot tub on "Saturday Night Live," to Hillary Clinton bantering with David Letterman.

When President Bush does a Top Gun landing on an aircraft carrier, he's trying to imitate an action hero. When John Kerry carts his Harley to various campaign stops, he's trying to show he's a tough guy.

Mr. Schwarzenegger already has what consultants struggle to superimpose on candidates: an aura of a strong protector who will get voters out of messes.

As one of his advisers says, "Whether it's really Arnold or his movie image, he's seen as a man of few words and lots of action. Other candidates spend $50 million on ads to get a sliver of that persona."

Besides, the star isn't the first one with connections to a political dynasty but no elective experience to try to be governor of a big state. And unlike W., Arnold actually is a successful self-made businessman.

Poor Arnie.
Tongue-tied Arnie Takes Hits From Left and Right
Guardian Newspapers Limited

And his past (I don't mean his dope-smoking past) might come back to haunt him:
The Movie Arnold Doesn't Want You To See
Posted Thursday, August 7, 2003, at 1:27 PM PT
Last year, Slate's Virginia Heffernan celebrated the 25th-anniversary re-release of Pumping Iron, the documentary about the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition. Pumping Iron is the movie Arnold hopes California voters don't rent between now and Election Day. The film captures the Austrian Oak in all his vicious, megalomaniacal glory: Arnold bullying, tricking, and psyching out his dopey rival Lou Ferrigno. Arnold extolling his own ambitions: "I was always dreaming about very powerful people, dictators, people like Jesus, being remembered for thousands of years." (And Arnold lighting up a fat celebratory joint? Don't you dare try that now, Gov. Schwarzenegger.)
Article URL:

But Arnie's got nothing on Georgie; according to some, he's certifiable:
Study of Bush's Psyche Touches a Nerve
By Julian Borger
The Guardian

It doesn't matter what anyone says, lie, truth, or in between:
Is There Anything Left That Matters?
By Sister Joan Chittister, OSB
t r u t h o u t Perspective

No one gets away with anything, of course, except lying and deceit:
Ashcroft Orders Tally Of Lighter Sentences
Critics Say He Wants 'Blacklist' of Judges
By Edward Walsh and Dan Eggen
The Washington Post

Even the scum from Richard Nixon's day think that the government has gone overboard...I mean, HOW BAD IS THAT??
The Bush Administration Adopts a Worse-than-Nixonian Tactic:
The Deadly Serious Crime Of Naming CIA Operatives
By John W. Dean

And last, but definitely not least, Steve Martin has what I believe to be the last word regarding whatever lies may have been told to get us into this war in the first place:

It All Depends on What You Mean by 'Have'
August 8, 2003

So if you're asking me did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction, I'm saying, well, it all depends on what you mean by "have."

See, I can "have" something without actually having it. I can "have" a cold, but I don't own the cold, nor do I harbor it. Really, when you think about it, the cold has me, or even more precisely, the cold has passed through me. Plus, the word "have" has the complicated letter "v" in it. It seems that so many words with the letter "v" are words that are difficult to use and spell. Like "verisimilitude." And "envelope."

Therefore, when you ask me, "Did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction," I frankly don't know what you're talking about. Do you mean currently? Then why did you say "did?" Think about "did." What the heck does that mean? Say it a few times out loud. Sounds silly. I'm beginning to think it's just the media's effort to use a fancy palindrome, rather than ask a pertinent question.

And how do I know you're not saying "halve?" "Did Iraq halve weapons of mass destruction?" How should I know? What difference does it make? That's a stupid question.

Let me try and clear it up for you. I think what you were trying to say was, "At any time, did anyone in Iraq think about, wish for, dream of, or search the Internet for weapons of mass destruction?"

Of course they did have. Come on, Iraq is just one big salt flat and no dictator can look out on his vast desert and not imagine an A-test going on. And let's face it, it really doesn't matter if they had them or not, because they hate us like a lassoed shorthorn heifer hates bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Finally, all this fuss over 16 lousy words. Shoot, "Honey, I'm home," already has three, with an extra one implied, and practically nothing has been said. It would take way more than 16 words to say something that could be considered a gaffe. I don't really take anything people say seriously until they've used at least 20, sometimes 25, words.

When I was criticized for my comment, I was reluctant to point out it was only 16 words, and I was glad when someone else took the trouble to count them and point out that I wasn't even in paragraph territory. When people heard it was only 16 words, I'm sure most people threw their head back and laughed. And I never heard one negative comment from any of our coalition forces, and they all speak English, too.

Steve Martin is author of "Shopgirl" and the forthcoming "The Pleasure of My Company."

Vive le Screed!

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