Wednesday, June 09, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: The Long, Long Goodbye

Gearing Up for the Big "Kurd Sellout" The Kurds are threatening to pull out of the interim Iraqi government that won't exist for another three weeks. The UN resolution passed yesterday conferring the world body's blessing on the "transfer of sovereignty" that we are pretending to engineeer in Iraq contained no mention of the interim constitution, which happens to give Kurds a veto over some aspects of Iraqi government. The Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani doesn't like that provision, and apparently his objections were enough to nix mention of the document in the UN resolution. The Kurds now fear that their semi-autonomy will be swallowed up in a country that's 65 percent Shiite. Watching to see how Washington betrays the Kurds, its only real friends in Iraq, will be both compelling and terrible, like watching Celine Dion give birth.

President Batshit Crazypants Although this story relies on anonymous sources too much, it's fascinating reading. Apparently Bush, who aides say has become totally obsessed with John Kerry, is now subject to wild mood swings, veering from calm moments where he describes George Tenet's leaving as "the will of God" to crazed tantrums where he orders staffers to "fuck over" anyone he deems "enemies of the state." Staffers have begun referring to our demented leader and his cat-fearing sidekick, Attorney General John Ashcroft, as the Blues Brothers, "because they're on a mission from God."

Hot New Conspiracy Theory: You're All Traitors I have been saying for weeks, if not months, that Ralph Nader is a paid operative of the Republican Party. Apparently, this is the case in Arizona, where a top GOP fund-raiser is paying people to go out and get signatures needed to put Nader on the ballot. Along with the revelations that the Village Voice broke about the GOP running Al Sharpton's campaign, this makes me wonder exactly how many double agents there are on the left. Frankly, just between you and me, I have noticed The Sikh Geek accepting brown paper bags at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse from a man who looked suspiciously like Karl Rove...

Not So Fast, Elbridge Gerry Big Supreme Court decision: the justices have declined to hear an appeal filed by the Colorado state GOP of a ruling by a state court that prevented the Republicans from redrawing the boundaries of voting districts. Redrawing districts normally takes place every 10 years, following a census, but the GOP in Colorado, Texas, and Ohio are trying to get it done now to give themselves a permanent, undemocratic majority in those states. By refusing to hear the appeal, the supremes have delivered a blow to the Republicans' sinister plot. Good one.

Farewell to the Gipper, Wednesday Edition: Thanks for All the Crazy People Hey, remember homeless people? I don't mean the working families too poor to afford housing that are now shunted, via school bus, from welfare hotel to welfare hotel that dominate the contemporary scene; I mean straight-up drunken, crazy, shouting-at-the-skies homeless people. Where did they all come from? And where did they all go? Well, in the spirit of Reagan Farewell Week, here's another piece to remind us exactly why the eight years Dutch spent in officer were so special. In his first term, under the guise of providing a humane alternative to forced institutionalization of the mentally ill, Reagan began a massive project which ultimately emptied most mental hospitals in the country. The move was part of the general cut in social services carried out to fund the Reagan tax cut, and the mentally ill got hit especially hard because, hey, who's going to stick up for a bunch of fucking nutcases? Plus, there were a lot of advocacy groups who argued that "community care centers" were better places for the mentally ill than hospitals. Maybe so, but there was one problem: the community care centers, originally started in the Kennedy administration, were totally unprepared to deal with the massive influx of new people, many of who were seriously ill and needed hospital care. The centers were even less prepared to deal with all the new clients when the Reagan administration cut their budget, too. The upshot of all this was that a huge number of people who should have been receiving some form of treatment were instead set loose to wander the streets. This served a double benefit: It saved the federal government money, and it provided an impetus for more "law and order" policies at the local level, since there were suddenly all these fucking lunatics running around (and, let's be honest, a number of these poor souls were dangerous to others). So, if that's where they came from, where did they go? Well, do the math. People who couldn't take care of themselves, who needed 24-hour care in order to do simple things like bathe, eat, and take medicine, are suddenly forced to fend for themselves, without so much as a roof over their heads. All through the 1980s and 1990s, the police found these people dead of overdoses in abandoned buildings, frozen to death under makeshift shelters, dead of exposure in public parks. Through all the tributes to Reagan this week, it's these memories that are perhaps the most eloquent indictment of a man who, though praised for his "old time values" and generous nature, ordered that sick people be turned out of hospitals to go find death in the streets.

-Consider Arms