Tuesday, July 13, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Towering Over Rivals Like Some Kind of Tower.

Big Brother: No Plans for War With Eurasia Well, you'll all be relieved to know that us kooky leftists were getting all excited over nothing yesterday, when we were a-yakking about Tom Ridge asking for legal advice on "postponing" the November election. Condoleeza Rice, the expert on the Czechoslovakian government (experts will note that Czechoslovakia no longer exists) now in charge of national security policy, insists that the White House isn't interested at all in "postponing" elections, even in the event of a terrorist attack. "We've had elections in this country when we were at war, even when we were in civil war. And we should have the elections on time," Rice told CNN. Fans of "Fahrenheit 9/11" will recall scenes showing Rice, before September 11, dismissing the notion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and wonder if we aren't in for another sudden policy change.

Oh, the Irony It's funny that a company theoretically devoted to communication - in this case, the media giant Clear Channel - is so interested in preventing people from communicating things. Case in point: Clear Channel, which owns thousands of billboards nationwide, has refused to allow an anti-war group to rent a billboard in Times Square, saying the group's billboard is "inappropriate." But, despite the fact that the corporation's radio stations have staged pro-war rallies, and the fact that one of its top executives is Tom Hicks, who bought the Texas Rangers from GW Bush, the company's CEO insists "We have no political agenda."

Will None of My Childhood Heroes Remain Untainted? Mike Ditka, who Bears fans like me will remember as the man who coached the greatest team of all time (1985 season: 15-1 Playoffs: 4-0, including the Super Bowl), is mulling a run for U.S. Senate...as a Republican. "If you're going to tell me I couldn't be a better senator than Ted Kennedy, I could be," Ditka, apparently ignorant of the fact that even Republicans consider Kennedy one of the most effective senators of the last 50 years, said. This is even worse than finding out Dave Smalley is a Republican.

The Vanishing North African Nazi? Doubts have surfaced about a French woman's claim that she was attacked by North Africans on a train who cut off her hair and drew swastikas on her after they believed she was Jewish (a story we linked to this week). Apparently, none of the 20 witnesses who the woman claims saw the attack can be found, security cameras at the train station where the attackers left don't show anyone like she described, and she has a history of falsely reporting attacks against herself. Still, it's not too late for Al Sharpton to get in on this action somehow.

Mixed Results in Japan I was hoping that in the Japanese elections Sunday, we'd see a big defeat for the ruling party of American lapdog Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in the same way there have been electoral defeats for Blair's Labour Party, Spain's Conservatives, and the South Korean conservatives. Apparently, though, it's sort of a mixed bag: Koizumi's party did indeed lose seats, but remains in the saddle. Also, the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (really the first genuine opposition party in the country's history) has gained not by attacking the ruling status quo, but by claiming that it can do a better job of maintaining it than the ruling party, with the key differences coming over pension reform and Iraq. I await the comments of my Japanophile colleague on this election.

-Consider Arms