Tuesday, August 05, 2003

The Ninety Million Dollar Truck

Ninety million dollars in gold was found in an oil tanker stopped by an Iraqi cop for having the wrong license plates. After the security director of the Governor of Hillah was offered a bribe to release the truck, "he went out to the truck and opened the back. Inside, stacked three feet high and 20 feet deep were gleaming gold bars." The huge stashes of hard currency found in the course of security operations hint at the nature of the old Ba'athist regime. Although America is far richer than Iraq, not even Bill Gates will have US$100 million in untraceable currency at his immediate disposal. The comparatively paltry US$30 million reward to the informant who led the 101st Airborne to Uday and Qusay Hussein had to be approved by Secretary of State Colin Powell. Huge sums of cash or negotiable valuables like precious stones and gold are normally associated with covert or criminal enterprises. Their possession confers an often disproportionate power to subvert, intimidate and scheme. The Ba'ath regime lived, and its remnants still live, in this black netherworld.

Do Mexicans called Jesus have a Jewish name?

Some people have been worrying about the possible rise of anti-Semitism in the Left:

The British Press Complaints Commission last week justified an Observer newspaper columnist who announced in his column that he does not intend to read pro-Israel letters if they are signed by people with Jewish names. According to the complaints commission, the position taken by the columnist, Richard Ingrams, is legitimate. The commission's ruling came after a number of Observer readers complained about an article Ingrams published last month in which he said: "I have developed a habit when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it." He argued that those who side with Israeli policy should say whether they are Jewish, for transparency's sake.

But if that principle were correct, then surely letters to the editor in support of the French government should be dumped if signed with a "French" name. No submission on the subject of affirmative action should be accepted from individuals called "Tyrone" or "Latifa". And no letter at all in defense of Islam must come from individuals answering to "Mohammed" or "Abdul". Since this is clearly preposterous, the obvious answer is that the Left is ... correct. The Left is always correct and morally upstanding.

Yes, I Want Gray Davis Replaced ... by Gray Davis

California Governor Gray Davis (D), facing an unprecedented recall effort, is seeking to delay the date of the ballot and its terms.

As it stands, voters cast ballots on two separate questions -- should Davis be recalled, and if he is given the proverbial boot from office, which candidate should replace him? The concern is that Davis supporters will cast their votes on the recall question, but not vote for Davis' successor, thus giving them no say in who the new governor would be should Davis lose.

Davis' supporters argue that this is unfair.

"Gov. Davis is barred from appearing on the ballot as a candidate. Thus he needs a majority of the vote on the first part of the ballot to remain in office," the petition filed Monday read. "Anyone else, however, can become governor on the second part of the ballot with any percentage, no matter how small, so long as it represents the top number of votes on that second part." "Thus Gov. Davis can be recalled from office if he receives 49.9 percent of the vote, yet (Hustler publisher) Larry Flynt can be elected to that same office if he receives only 20 percent, or even less." Johansen said, "Single-digit plurality could elect the new governor, and we think that's unconstitutional."

Under the new rules proposed by Davis it would be possible to vote 'Yes, I want Gov. Davis replaced' and then proceed to the second part of the question and check 'Gray Davis' as the replacement. Nothing illogical about that. Hey, it's California and if Gray Davis wins, the voters will be getting what they deserve, in either case.