Regarding Henry

From the conservative to the criminal: You may remember Bites’ disgust last fall with the overtly conservative tenor of last year’s Perspectives 2000—an annual speaker’s forum hosted by the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce—where right-wing washout Newt Gingrich got the biggest applause.

Bites also noted the peculiar timing of featuring Condoleezza Rice as a speaker, considering her role at the time on George W. Bush’s campaign team, which she since parlayed into a job as national security adviser.

Yet that ain’t nothing compared to the doozy that the Chamber has announced for this year’s Perspectives. Headlining the September 21 event will be Arnold Schwarzenegger and Henry Kissinger.

It’s bad enough that Schwarzenegger was booked at a time when he was being recruited to seek the Republican nomination for governor, but the featuring of Kissinger at this particular point in history seems to be intended as a statement of support for our country’s swaggering, hypocritical approach to international relations.

Kissinger’s central role in the illegal subversion of democracy in Vietnam, Chile, Greece, Bangladesh, here in the United States and many other countries is currently undergoing the most rigorous scrutiny to date by historians, prosecutors, journalists and international human rights advocates.

The reassessment of Kissinger is being prompted mostly by Spain’s indictment of former Chilean dictator (and Kissinger crony) Augusto Pinochet as a war criminal and journalist Christopher Hitchens’ exhaustive case in the February and March issues of Harper’s Magazine that Kissinger should receive a similar indictment.

Hitchens’ main point was that despite an overwhelming body of evidence that Kissinger committed innumerable international crimes, including ordering assassinations of democratically elected leaders; and despite Kissinger’s outrageous deal with the Library of Congress sealing official records of his actions until five years after his death (much to the consternation of Pinochet’s prosecutors), Kissinger continues to be treated as a national treasure.

And the reason he is lauded instead of vilified is because groups like the Chamber keep singing his praises and paying his huge speaking fees. But what do we expect in a country where criminals such as Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy are popular talk show hosts?

Ain’t no sunshine: After vetoing three consecutive bills that would have put some teeth into California’s open government laws, Governor Gray Davis commissioned a survey of every state agency to see how well (or, more accurately, how poorly) they’ve been complying with California Public Records Act requests.

The survey is being conducted by state officials in conjunction with the California First Amendment Coalition. Initial results from the limited survey are expected later this month.

Although Davis was hesitant to force local governments throughout the state to do a better job of ensuring public accountability, he was willing to have the state examine itself. Everywhere except his office, that is.

Yup, that’s right, Davis exempted his office from participating in the survey, apparently concerned that its secret energy deals and other skirting of CPRA disclosures would further tarnish his thin façade of public accountability.

Turning up the heat: Speaking of public shame and humiliation, reader Joe Zuber has taken Bites up on the offer to heap loads of it on Sacramento area entities that rampantly waste energy during these dark days of blackouts and blame-shifting.

He points out that dozens of stores in the Downtown Plaza have been blasting their air conditioners even as they prop open their front doors, sending precious kilowatts out into thin air. Among the perpetrators he observed on a recent triple-digit day are The Gap, Banana Republic, The Limited, The Disney Store, Lane Bryant, Brookstone, J Crew, Contempo Casuals and The Museum Company.

He confronted many of the stores’ employees and received a bevy of lame rationalizations and powerless shrugs, yet the main reason for such waste seems to be the belief that customers want both cool stores and the inviting gesture of an open door.

C’mon, people, we’re never gonna break the shackles of our energy-generating masters with that kind of thinking. Next time you’re downtown, swing by the mall and let them know what you think of their support for rolling blackouts.

Thanks Joe, and keep ’em coming, everybody.Check it out! Read a panel discussion of “The Case Against Henry Kissinger.” online/kissinger_forum