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December 21, 2005

JackM. (Desolation Row) Starts Blog-War With Austria

The power of the blog must not be misused, Jack.

I thought it was pretty smart of me to pick fights with other bloggers. Nothing draws a crowd like a fight, I reasoned. JackM. has taken that to a whole new level and picked a fight with an entire country.

JackM. posted his happiness about Schwarzenegger giving his Austrian hometown the finger after that town decided to name a building after convicted, executed murderer Tookie Williams.

One of Austria's biggest newspapers linked him, and the Austrians are angry with him. For some reason, though, they think it's Bob Dylan's blog.

It will be amusing when Bob Dylan has to make a statement that he's not connected in any way with Letters from Desolation Row.

Below the Fold Update: Dr. Symes weighs in, flooding the zone

The love affair between Schwarzenegger and Graz is over. Arnold has returned the ring.

The ring in question? The “Ring of Honor,” previously bestowed upon favorite son Arnold by Austria’s second largest city, Graz.

The rift started with Schwarzenegger’s refusal to grant clemency to Tookie “You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him” Williams. Seems his hard-heartedness irked some of the politicians there in Graz, and they decided to express their disapproval last week with a proposal to remove Schwarzenegger’s name from their city’s big soccer stadium.

Representatives from the Social Democrats (SP), the Greens and the Communist Party (KP), traditionally strong in Graz, joined forces to push through the proposal, despite the objection of mayor Siegfried Nagl of the conservative People's Party (VP).

"It's getting on our nerves that we're again and again being criticised for Schwarzenegger's actions in California," said SP vice mayor Welter Ferk.

"We're not exactly basking in glory for being brought into the public limelight in connection with the death penalty.

The proposal passed, but apparently public signatures still needed to be collected to properly enact it. And that delay gave time for Schwazenegger to go on the offensive.

Mr. Freeze fired off his own ice-cold request that his name be removed and upped the ante by returning their “Ring of Honor” in the mail.

On Monday, Schwarzenegger caused a stir by turning the tables on Austrians who criticized the governor's refusal to block the executions of convicted killers. He sent Graz officials a letter asking them to remove his name from a soccer stadium and stop using it to promote the city, and said he was giving back the ring because it "has lost its meaning and value to me."

"Graz will not have problems in the future with my decisions as governor of California, because officially nothing connects us any more," Schwarzenegger told the daily Kronen Zeitung in an interview for Tuesday's editions.

Harsh words for your home town. And their reaction?
In an interview with The Times on Tuesday, Graz City Councilman Karl-Heinz Herper called Schwarzenegger's reaction to the dispute "not exactly nice."

Well, what the hell did you expect, Karl? That he should accept your euro-slap with a smile? Let his hometown betray him like a good Austrian? Screw that. This is Schwarzenegger we’re talking about. You knew he was gonna come after you like your name was Sarah Connor.

Arnold played this just right. The ring was never that big a deal. Graz, though Austria’s second biggest city, ain’t Vienna. (Dear Austria: Graz? Seriously? That’s your number two?) The Consumer Reports prestige rankings for Austrian citys’ 'rings of honor' show a big drop-off after number one.

And, frankly, even Vienna’s ring ain’t all that. It’s still in Austria. And Austria, last time I checked, was still a landlocked country.

Me, I wouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. Yes, it’s one thing to accept a ring of honor from a city in a European country. It’s quite another to accept it from one in a landlocked European country.

Landlocked punks.

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posted by Ace at 12:35 PM

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