Saturday, December 27, 2003

Meanwhile, over in Sweden, things are less cool

Swedes fear aid system is overtaxed: Generous benefits are burdened by an aging population and sick-leave abuses.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - In the happy chaos of their two-bedroom apartment in central Stockholm, Mika and Carolina Laine interrupt each other in their enthusiasm to describe the cozy embrace of the Swedish welfare state.
Be still my heart!
As 4-year-old Georg plays Robin Hood and 2-year-old Annie learns to skip, the Laines talk about everything from generous paid leave for new parents to free tuition and generous stipends for university students.

"Even if we pay a lot in taxes, we get a lot," said Mika, 34, a middle-school teacher.
Funny how that works.
But like many Swedes who fret about the world's highest tax burden, worrisome demographic trends, and a puzzling explosion in sick leave, the Laines wonder how long it can last.

"I want the system to work and keep the standards we have today," said Carolina, 33. "But I'm afraid it's impossible."
You mean I have to buy a beer to get a free lunch?

But before we get to that part, how about some more bennies?
Income taxes top out at a marginal rate of 55 percent, compared with 38.6 percent in the United States, and high rates apply at much lower incomes. If retail prices seem high, that's partly because a walloping 25 percent value-added tax is built in.

In fact, 51 percent of Sweden's gross domestic product is consumed by taxes, the highest rate among the 30 developed countries tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. At 29 percent and falling, the United States vies with Japan, South Korea and Ireland for the developed world's lowest tax burden.
Oops, here are the bennies:
The Laines offer a typical case. After each of the children's births, the couple split more than a year of state-paid parental leave. Now they collect monthly payments to help support each child.

When the children need a vaccination or run a fever, their medical care is free. Their subsidized day-care center, a 10-minute walk away, has four trained adults for 17 children.

Such benefits hugely ease the strains of parenthood, they say. Carolina said a Swedish friend recently married an American and moved to Minnesota. "But they plan to move here when they have children," she said.

True, Mika pays 30 percent of his $40,000 teaching salary in income tax. But that money might be said to recycle to his wife, a full-time student of clinical psychology at Stockholm University. Not only does she pay no tuition, but the government also pays her a stipend to cover living expenses.

"I do have to pay for my books," Carolina said.

Another young Swedish mother, asked about views of the Swedish welfare state, surveyed her social circle.

"I spoke to a few of my friends and said, 'Come up with something about the system that's bad,' " said Esther Goldman, 24, mother of a 10-month-old son. She got few complaints: "Everybody said we get so much, it's kind of cheeky to complain."
The fact that even the well-to-do receive tangible benefits from the system has preserved its broad popularity, said Agneta Karlsson, deputy secretary of the ruling Social Democratic Party, which has held power for most of the last seven decades.

"The Swedish idea is everybody pays and everybody gets something," said Karlsson, 41. "If only the poor receive something, the poor will be stigmatized, and the rich will say, 'Why should we pay?' "
What a great con - the government takes huge whopping hunks of their income but they're happy because they get "benefits". Muggers ought to try it - "Give me your wallet, but I'll give you 20 bucks." The only problem is when there is no "20 bucks".
More than 800,000 people - about a fifth of the workforce - are either on sick leave or early retirement for medical reasons, a rate far higher than in other European countries, according to government figures.

Fabian Wallen, an economist with the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, faults what he considers to be lax rules for determining who is ill.

"In Sweden you can be on sick leave basically forever," Wallen, 29, said. "You don't really have incentives to go back to work."
Not that there was much incentive in the first place. Hmm, maybe I can become an honorary Swede?

And there's more good news:
Similarly, in a sign of anxiety about the future, the Laines recently began paying about $30 a month into a private retirement account. They worry that state pensions might not survive the graying of the population, which will place a huge burden on a shrinking working-age population.
If sick leave is the short-term threat to the system, demographics pose a long-term danger. While the growing number of retirees poses problems for the United States, Sweden's generous benefits make the age shift potentially more catastrophic.

Wallen says the looming demographic challenge makes it essential that Sweden find ways to enlarge the economic pie that is being so equitably distributed.

"The basis for any society besides having a just legal system and all that is to have some kind of wealth creation," Wallen said.
Lotsa luck.
Yet another fad I missed

Japan's Empire of Cool: Country's Culture Becomes Its Biggest Export
TOKYO -- In the supercharged air of Shibuya, Tokyo's fiercely hip teen quarter, music videos by Japanese pop stars topping the charts throughout Asia boom from towering, outdoor liquid-crystal display screens. The streets below are clogged with hordes of young women wearing the Japanese schoolgirl look -- streetwalker's makeup, sexy stockings and plaid miniskirts -- styled by international fashion magazines as the height of child-delinquent chic.
We don't see many of those around here.
Under a galaxy of neon, cubicle-sized stores sell trendy trinkets, including phone mascots -- cute characters first dangled off cell phones here years ago, now common in Seoul and Hong Kong and seen in Sydney, New York and Paris.
Those either.
In the cacophony of cool, foreigners mingle with streams of Japanese descending by a cave-like hole into the entrance of Mandarake, the world's largest Japanese manga -- comics -- and anime department store. They buy original celluloids, or cels, from Japanese animation, most at about $30 each, along with comic books, action figures, posters and CDs. Hundreds of online orders come in daily to operators speaking Japanese, English, Spanish, French and Korean.

Company President Masuzo Furukawa, whose office is entered through an anime-like tube with round, orange electronic doors, is direct about the reason: "If it's Japanese, the world wants it. Japan is hot."
If I said that to any of the locals, they'd think I'd been spending too much time with a jug of corn squeezin's.
Even as this country of 127 million has lost its status as a global economic superpower and the national confidence has been sapped by a 13-year economic slump, Japan is reinventing itself -- this time as the coolest nation on Earth.
I'm sure that's a great consolation.

More than you want to know by following the link.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Flip Flop Howie

First it was Dean: Bin Laden guilt best determined by jury, but now it's Dean: Death To Osama. Deano's "base" isn't going to be happy.
Media News Flash From Burpelson Air Force Base

(Via FR) Weasley's got a new video puff piece:
Award-winning producer Linda Bloodworth unveils her newest film. The biopic, "American Son" is about the life and times of Wes Clark. This moving account features Clark's family, life-long friends and the men and women who served under his command. It details Clark's accomplishments and tells the story of this true American hero.
Warning - the above link will try to start playing it. Barf bags are in the seat back pocket in front of you.

But hold on a sec, the name "Linda Bloodworth" sounds very familiar. Oh yeah, I remember - Linda Bloodworth-Thomason - famous Hollywood friend of the Clintons who produced The Man from Hope amongst other Bubba puff pieces. She and her husband Harry are also famous for:
Getting the Clinton White House travel business for a company they partially owned after the civil service employees were fired by the Clintons.

Coaching Bubba on his "I did not have sex with that woman" delivery.

Giving Bubba's brother Roger a job to keep him gainfully employed and out of sight during Bubba's stint in the White House.

Bubba calling CBS on their behalf to resolve a billing dispute for one of their shows.

Arranging for Bubba to appear on the Johnny Carson show for a little image repair after his bomb at the 1988 Democrat convention.

Serving as perpetual makeover consultants for Hillary.

Producing another video puff piece for Hillary's 2000 Senate campaign.

Putting together a film apologia for Bubba entitled Hunting the President which will premiere in 2004. (Something to look forward to, I'm sure.)
And more that I can't be bothered to dig up. So one can't help but wonder why ole Linda is lending her propaganda talents to Weasley. But one can guess (Hat tip: Freepers):

He's my sock puppet!

Unfortunately, Linda left out some of the best parts of the Weasley saga (Hat tip: Broken Newz)

It's all about my precious bodily fluids!
We don't see many preachers like that around here

But the best part is that some of the Kool-Aid Drinkers (1, 2) think Howie was way out of line for mentioning religion at all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Merry Christmas to all!
Be prepared!

The Center for Consumer Freedom is on top of things with You'd Better Watch Out ... for Christmas Lawsuits! They suggest that you cover your butt Santa-wise with a Christmas Cookies Indemnification Agreement.
The agreement includes a number of "clauses" designed to protect you and your family from possible liability. By signing it before he eats your cookies, Kris Kringle agrees not to sue you on the basis of:
1) Failure to provide nutrition information and a list of ingredients (the "Grandma's Secret Recipe" clause);

2) Failure to caution of the potential for overeating because cookies taste too good and are provided at no cost;

3) Failure to advise that walking, biking, and jogging will shed pounds, but riding around on a sleigh will not;

4) Failure to warn that Christmas lights, lawn ornaments (plastic reindeer, snowmen, etc.) and other holiday decorations may constitute manipulative marketing to lure Santa into over-consumption.

5) Failure to offer "healthier" cookie alternatives (e.g., tofu bars);

6) Failure to counsel that cookies may be habit-forming and/or irresistible; and

7) Failure to notify that eating way too many cookies may lead to even greater levels of obesity for St. Nick (the "Sanity Clause").
No word on any required warning stickers.
Whew, that's a relief!

Bay Area faces holidays without little silver balls on baked goods
Procrastinators are in for a shock when they set out to make those last-minute holiday cookies, cakes and gingerbread houses. Store shelves are almost bare of the beloved, tooth-crunching decorations called dragees -- better known as "those little silver balls.''

Because of a Napa lawyer's lawsuit alleging that the shimmery mini-orbs are toxic, stores such as Sur La Table and Spun Sugar are selling off their last remaining stocks, and wholesalers and Internet suppliers simply won't sell sugar decorations filmed with silver, gold or copper to anyone in California.
No word on how many billion dragees you have to eat to suffer any deleterious effect from the silver content.
Distributors and retailers said they've settled with Pollock not because they believe their dragees are toxic but because a trial would cost far more than settling. But, like Beryl Loveland of Beryl's Cake Decorating and Pastry Supplies of Virginia, they're angry and think a trial would have proven that there's nothing wrong with a few dragees now and then.
At Spun Sugar, a candy- and cake-making specialty store in Berkeley, owner Linda Moreno is selling off the few sizes and shapes of the metallic decorations she has left, and says she can't get any more -- although she has no trouble getting the silver and gold leaf used in Indian sweets.

"It's the same stuff everyone's had for an eternity," she said. "I was always more worried about someone breaking a tooth."
Linda, don't give the lawyers any ideas!
It beats a new pair of socks. But not by much.

(Via Gizmodo) A Santa snowglobe computer mouse. They also have some with fish and dolphins.
A nice holiday story

Henry Miller at TCS provides Al Gore, Our Christmas Fruitcake:
The New York Times editorialized that more medical information about Vice-President Dick Cheney should be made public because where the president and vice-president of the United States are concerned, "privacy concerns are less important than the public's confidence that its leaders are fit." [22 December]

Fit? Fit? Where were the Times' concerns about the fitness of politicians in the face of Al Gore's obvious personality disorder and poor reality testing while for eight years he was a heartbeat -- and later, a few electoral votes -- away from the presidency?

While a Senator, Gore was notorious for his rudeness and insolence during hearings. A favorite trick was to pose a question and as the witness began to answer, Gore would begin a whispered conversation with another committee member or a staffer. If the witness paused in order that the senator not miss the response, Gore would instruct him to continue, then resume his private conversation, leaving no ambiguity: Not only is your testimony unimportant, I won't even pay you the courtesy of pretending to listen to it.
There's more by following the link, but I don't care for fruitcake.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Today's Hoot

Mujahid-Dean, General Zod, and Le Big Q-Tip
Too bad!

Ralph Nader Rules Out Green Party Run
Nader called party officials Monday to inform them of his decision, said Ben Manski, a Green Party co-chairman and spokesman. Nader's reasons were not clear, Manski said.
That's par for the course.

But there's still hope that Ralphie will come to the dance:
Nader, who garnered nearly 3 percent of the national vote in the last presidential election, has not ruled out running for president as an independent and plans to make a decision by January.
I guess that makes a lot of sense - to Ralphie.

And the Greenies have high hopes too:
Six people have already declared their intentions to be the party's nominee, including Green Party general counsel David Cobb and Peter Camejo, the party's candidate in the California recall election. McLarty said a front-runner will likely emerge before the party's convention in Milwaukee in June.
Maybe we'll have the best of both worlds: a Green candidate and Nader running as an independent. Don't forget that Ralphie is asking for your advice. Help the poor confused fellow out.
I wondered what rock Danny had crawled under

Danny Glover to Appear in Kucinich Ads
In one ad appealing to young voters, Glover says: "If pre-emptive war continues to drive our foreign policy, if our volunteer troops are stretched thinner and thinner, you could be facing compulsory draft. All young Americans deserve a would (sic) without end — not a war without end."

Kucinich is the only image in the ad. As the camera focuses in on Kucinich's eyes, Glover says, "The eyes that see through the lies."
Thanks Danny! Who knew?

Silly me, I thought those were the eyes that scan the skies ... for his saucer.

But here's an odd note from Kuku's web site where the ads are front page news:
To: All Kucinich Supporters
From: George Lois, New York Adman

In October, The New York Times asked nine leading designers to create a visual statement for one of the Democratic Presidential Candidates. We were not allowed to select the candidate of our choice. When Gail Collins, the editor of the Time's editorial page, informed me that I had drawn Dennis Kucinich, the mighty-might (sic) from Cleveland, Ohio, I marveled at my luck. My wife and I had studied each of the candidates during the debates and Kucinich's message, plans, mind and heart continually surprised us and totally won us over.
My poster was featured in the Times Magazine section on November 30 sporting the headline "The Eyes That See Through The Lies." This is a bold statement that Kucinich was running against a bunch of candidates who had allowed themselves to be conned and/or Bushwhacked into a future of unending pre-emptive, un-American wars that are jeopardizing our economy, our Democratic way of life, the future of our youth, and indeed, the future of our planet.

Responding to my poster, Congressman Kucinich called me from Iowa and asked me to create his ad campaign. When the man who I believe is the one candidate that can inspire the world once more thanked me - I thanked him for being there when America needs him.
Sounds like ole George has been been hitting the Kool-Aid jug. But it sure is nice of the NY Times to help out the Donk candidates like that.
More on the Deano-Clinton Turf War

The NY Times article quoted in the post below also had this:
At a town hall meeting in Exeter, N.H., on Monday afternoon, Dr. Dean referred to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council as "the Republican part of the Democratic Party" even while talking about the need to bring unity among Democrats.

Jay Carson, a Dean spokesman, said the candidate was "joking," noting that the leadership council has been among the most aggressive opponents of the Dean candidacy.
Since the DLC means Bubba, it looks like Howie is back to Bubba-bashing. William Saletan has the latest in Slate - Jihoward: Howard Dean, suicide bomber:
Last Thursday, Howard Dean declared, "While Bill Clinton said that the era of big government is over, I believe we must enter a new era for the Democratic Party—not one where we join Republicans and aim simply to limit the damage they inflict on working families." Clinton alumni, naturally offended, fired back. Bruce Reed, Clinton's former chief domestic policy adviser, called Dean's remark "a cheap shot at Clintonism."

Friday, the Dean campaign denied that Dean had meant to slam Clinton. "If he is the nominee, Governor Dean would ask for President Clinton and former members of his Administration to be a very active part of his campaign," said the campaign. The Dean aide who had written the offending line in Dean's speech, Jeremy Ben-Ami, insisted that the line was "not intended in any way to pick a fight with the Clinton legacy." Rather, it was "intended to pick a fight with the Washington Democrats in power."

Washington Democrats in power? You mean, as opposed to Clinton, the last Democrat who held power in Washington? The guy in whose White House, located in Washington, Ben-Ami worked as a domestic policy adviser? The guy Howard Dean defended against "liberals" when, in 1996, he joined Republicans in supporting welfare reform legislation, aiming simply to limit the damage it might inflict?
But wait, there's more:
Sunday morning, the Deaniacs were at it again. On ABC's This Week, Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi said Dean was running against the Democratic "establishment." Pressed to define the members of this "establishment," Trippi bobbed and weaved. Eventually, he said, "I'm talking about Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman."

You mean, Dick Gephardt, the guy for whose presidential campaign Trippi worked in 1988? The guy who shepherded Clinton's economic plan through the House in 1993 and hasn't held power in Washington since he stepped down as minority leader last year? You mean Joe Lieberman, the presidential candidate who has most fiercely defended and most faithfully extended Clinton's centrist Democratic agenda?

You get the point. Either all this stuff from the Dean campaign about the establishment is an attack on the Clintonian center, or it's the usual meaningless blather that politicians toss to crowds to make themselves look nonpolitical. Either way, it's fake. I think it's blather, but the more Dean talks about it and applies it to various issues, the more it looks like an attack on the center. And if that's the mission Dean has in mind, Democrats would be well-advised to jump off his truck before he blows it up.
And one more:
Dean's jihad is even crazier than Gore's. It's almost completely undisciplined. Three weeks ago on a national radio show, Dean brought up the "interesting theory" that Bush had been warned beforehand about 9/11. Last week, Dean defended that remark by telling reporters, "I acknowledged that I did not believe the theory I was putting out." When the Washington Post exposed several Dean comments that didn't fit the facts, Dean scoffed that voters could believe him "or they can believe the Washington Post." No word yet on whether voters must choose between believing Dean and believing the Los Angeles Times, which issued a similar analysis of Dean's whoppers last Thursday.
Howie, stop rushing it! You're scheduled to implode after you get the nomination.

UPDATE: I already mentioned the Washington Post article and the LA Times article is here. I like its polite phraseology - they say that Deano is "a candidate whose off-the-cuff style has sometimes led him to take contradictory positions." I guess that's the way folks in LaLa Land describe someone that around here we would call "full of more crap than a Christmas goose."
The Whole Family is Nuts

Let me see if I have got this straight. Howard Dean's brother, Charles, fresh from George McGovern's anti-war campaign in 1972, uses Dad's money and takes a road trip to Laos where he is executed in 1974 by the Communist insurgents he wanted to help. Sounds like a Darwin Award nomination, doesn't it? I haven't mentioned it because it really had nothing to do with Howard and, hey, even Darwin Award nominees have families.

Now flash forward to Dean Rebuked for Statement Implying Brother Served in Military:
Howard Dean came under criticism from an Iowa newspaper last weekend for an answer to a questionnaire in which he implied that his brother was serving in the military when he disappeared in Laos 29 years ago. His brother had been traveling in Southeast Asia as a tourist.

Asked by The Quad-City Times, which is based in Davenport, Iowa, to complete the sentence "My closest living relative in the armed services is," Dr. Dean wrote in August, "My brother is a POW/MIA in Laos, but is almost certainly dead."
His answer to the newspaper's question, published on Dec. 14 as part of a regular feature on The Quad-City Times's editorial page in which the Democratic presidential candidates respond to questions intended to probe their persona, drew complaints from readers and a rebuke from the newspaper's editorial board on Sunday.
Mark Ridolfi, editor of the paper's editorial page, noted that the question had specifically asked about the armed services and said of Dr. Dean's reply, "It certainly is not an accurate response."

Mr. Ridolfi said the question, one of 20 that the candidates answered in writing in August, was intended to get at candidates' personal connections to the military. "When you have a family member currently involved in the military," he said, "you think of things differently."

After hearing Dr. Dean's explanation during a meeting at the newspaper's office on Friday, Mr. Ridolfi ran an editorial in Sunday's editions describing Dr. Dean's original answer as "unusually revealing."

"Charlie Dean's capture and death in Southeast Asia certainly shaped his brother's opinion about the American military," read the editorial, which pointed out that the younger Dean opposed the Vietnam War, worked on George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign and visited Laos during a yearlong trip around the world.

"Knowing that story tells us something about the candidate," it continued. "So does inaccurately implying a direct family connection to the armed services for the 72,000 Quad Citians who received Sunday's newspaper."
Needless to say, Howie's knickers are in a twist:
Dr. Dean called the editorial, which referred to his brother as a "renegade," "one of the greatest cheap shots I've ever seen in journalism."

"It's offensive and insensitive not to understand what the impact of this is," he said, "writing about this in such a tawdry way."

Dr. Dean also wrote a letter to the paper, saying he was "deeply offended" by the editorial.
He really doesn't get it, does he? He thinks that an apologist for Communist thugs getting offed by the very same thugs is equivalent to the death of people serving their country. I'm surprised he didn't also list his service on the "ski patrol."

By way of contrast with Howie, here's how the other candidates answered:
Seven other candidates responded to question about the armed services. Mr. Kerry said, "They're all retired now," while Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who has since dropped out, cited his brother, Bill, who was in the Air Force in World War II. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina mentioned his father-in-law, a retired Navy pilot, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman named his nephew, Adam Miller.

Former Senator Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois wrote, "I come from a small family and I do not currently have a relative in the armed forces."

Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio listed his brothers Frank (Vietnam) and Gary (Japan) as well as his sister Beth, who "served stateside." Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri noted that he himself had been in the Air National Guard, "but currently I don't have any relatives in the service."

See Howie, it isn't hard to tell the truth. Or maybe it is - for him.
Don't tell PETA!

Kathy Kinsley alerts us to Australians urged to have kangaroo for Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Inflatable Robert Fisk?

That's actually the answer. Tim Blair has the question.
It just gets better!

Harris just released a new poll and among Democrats and Democrat leaning independents it looks like this:

     Howard Dean           21
     Joe Lieberman         10
     Wesley Clark           7
     Richard Gephardt       7
     Carol Moseley-Braun    6
     Al Sharpton            6
     John Kerry             4
     John Edwards           3
     Dennis Kucinich        1
     Not sure              34

If I were the ketchup guy, I'd think twice about mortgaging my house.
The Wisdom of Howard Dean - part 2

The Big Fella points to a Deano quote that I almost missed from an interview with Newsweek:

Moonbat Howard Dean - "Where's my saucer?"

Q: What would you do to restore relations with our allies?

A: If I win, I'm going to go, before I am inaugurated, on a world tour of the countries we desperately need to repair our relations with. And not just in Europe, but also in Asia and in Latin America. We're talking a little presumptuously here because the votes haven't been cast in one primary yet. But I've thought about this a lot.

Did it hurt?

Or as Allah opines:
Grovel Tour '04! "Hello, Paris. Anyone here tonight think my country sucks? Yeaaaahhhhh!!"
Has Jimmy Carter been advising Deano?
Everyone's traveling for the holidays!

Castro to visit Venezuela ally Chavez
CARACAS: Cuban President Fidel Castro will fly to Venezuela tomorrow (ed. note: Monday) to talk co-operation with his biggest regional ally Hugo Chavez at a time when the Venezuelan president is facing a campaign by foes to vote him out of office.
I like the old fashioned kind of Santa who doesn't wear fatigues better. Hmm, I wonder if Hugo has been naughty or nice?
Under a three-year-old energy accord, Venezuela sends Cuba up to 53,000 barrels per day of oil – about one third of the island's consumption.
And Venezuela isn't getting paid for it. I guess Hugo's been nice.
They are sure to discuss the political situation in Venezuela, where foes of Chavez filed with electoral authorities Saturday more than three million signatures requesting a referendum on his rule next year.
Fidel: How many times do I have to explain it, Hugo?

Hugo: Please! One more time!

Fidel: You have all the names of the counter revolutionaries on the referendum petitions. Now you send out your thugs, er, Bolivarian Circle members to re-educate them.

Hugo: Thanks! I'm glad I left out milk and cookies for you!

Fidel: Got any rum?

Letter to the editors of Time

Over at LGF, Charles notes - Dear Time Warner ...
Am I the only one who thinks it’s more than a little weird that TIME Magazine names “The American Soldier” as their “Person of the Year,” only days after publishing a story by a TIME reporter who’s hangin’ out with the mujahideen trying to kill that same “Person of the Year?”

No, I’m not the only one: Mudville Gazette: Dear Time Warner...
And while you are at the Mudville Gazette, check out the related Perky Colon news:
Katie Couric about 2 seconds ago (Today, 22 Dec 2003): "Tell me why there's no woman on the cover?"

Jim Kelly from Time: " That is a Woman."

Katie: "Oh."

Me: "Idiot".
Hmmm, maybe there really is no liberal media bias and what we see is merely arrogant stupidity.
Howie Disses Bubba!

What with Wesley "Precious Bodily Fluids" Clark threatening to "beat the sh*t" out of people and Joe Lieberman sitting on Santa's lap, I missed out on the big Demo campaign story of last week - The Era of Big Clinton Is Over. At least according to Howard Dean.
Now Dean is using the Clinton economic program as his latest doom and gloom target in stump speeches around the country, and Clinton isn't happy about it.

Dean has been telling just about any audience listening to him that Clinton's claim that the era of big government is over was in essence a betrayal of basic Democratic values. That Clinton got into bed with Republicans to cut back government, and in turn hurt poor families who needed more of what Dean think government should be giving them.

In classic Dean fashion, he riles up his crowds with those kinds of ideas, then turns around and tells the press that his remarks aren't intended as shots across Clinton's bow, even though Dean has told campaign staffers that Gore, for one, told him that those remarks about the Clinton Gore economy were spot on target, and confirmed Gore's belief that Dean was the straight talker the party needed.
According to a Dean staffer in Iowa, Clinton has sent Dean a message through intermediaries to stop using him as a political scratching post on the campaign trail. Dean, though, as late as last Friday was still using Clinton as an example of what is wrong with the Democratic Party.
More in a similar vein in Slate and Newsday.

Better watch it Howie! Picking on the Ole Horndog is one thing, but if Her Heinous decides to step in, you're going to be in a world of hurt.
Do they really not get it?

Lawrence F. Kaplan at the WSJ Opinion Journal - Liberal Warfare: The Democratic foreign-policy establishment has nothing to offer but clichés
Their most recent effort, on display Monday in a much-touted Dean foreign-policy speech, is an attempt to transform the candidate from an angry leftist with bad ideas into an angry centrist with no ideas. Mr. Dean's foreign-policy tutor, Ivo Daalder of Brookings, reports that President Bush has set in motion a "revolution" by relying on "the unilateral exercise of American power rather than on international law and institutions," the premise being that America consistently has done otherwise in recent history. Likewise, former Clinton secretary of state Warren Christopher scores the Bush team for slighting the U.N. and presuming that the U.S. does not require "consensus to work its will in the world." There speaks the man who, unable to secure such a consensus for action in Bosnia, dismissed the slaughter there as "a humanitarian crisis a long way from home, in the middle of another continent."

Along with his own experience, what Mr. Christopher seems to have forgotten is that in sidestepping the U.N. on the eve of military action, the Bush team did exactly what its predecessor--and its predecessor and its predecessor--did repeatedly before it. Yet the robotic admonitions to heed the will of the "international community" persist as if nothing has been learned and nothing remembered, even from the past few months. Asked recently what America should do "if international forces don't show up" in Iraq, presidential aspirant John Edwards replied, "Well, I don't accept that premise."
It's hard to tell if they don't have a clue or are just lying crapsacks. Actually, it's probably both.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

No bad idea goes unpursued

Daniel J. Mitchell in Capitalism Magazine - Radical U.N. Tax Plans Threaten America
Many politicians seem to think that the answer to every alleged problem is higher taxes. Howard Dean, for instance, has said he would repeal the Bush tax cuts -- even though this would boost the average family’s tax burden by nearly $2,000. This initiative sounds radical, and it is. But some proposals out there are even worse.

The United Nations, for instance, wants to create an International Tax Organization (ITO) that would have the power to interfere with national tax policies.

This idea first surfaced two years ago in a report from the world body’s “High-Level Panel on Financing for Development.” Since then, the U.N. has been working to turn it into reality. For instance, U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan recently called for the creation of a global tax commission. But no matter what it's called, an international bureaucracy with power over tax policy would be an assault on American sovereignty.

An international tax organization, of course, would mean higher taxes and bigger government. Indeed, U.N. officials have been quite open about their intentions. The chairman of the U.N. panel that first endorsed the creation of an ITO said that it would “take a lead role in restraining tax competition.” According to this mentality, it's unfair for America to have lower taxes than places such as France and Germany, especially if it means that jobs and investment flee Europe's welfare states and come to America.
That's certainly good news. Even better news is that our taxes pay for them to think up this kind of stuff.

But there's more:
The U.N. also wants the power to levy its own taxes. The original report looked at two options, a tax on currency transactions and a tax on energy consumption. Both of these proposals would hit America hardest. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. In the past, the U.N. has endorsed new taxes on the Internet, including a tax on e-mail. Again, the U.S. economy would pay the lion’s share if this reckless idea took effect.

But the prize for the worst U.N. idea probably belongs to the proposal to give governments permanent taxing rights over emigrants. You see, the U.N. thinks it’s unfair when talented people leave high-tax socialist nations and move to places such as America. But since even the U.N. realizes it would be unacceptable to prohibit emigration, the bureaucrats are instead proposing to let governments tax income earned in other nations.

This scheme is a direct attack on American interests because of our high levels of immigration -- particularly the well-educated portion of the immigrant population. For instance, if a doctor from the Caribbean moves to America, his home government would get to tax income he earns here. If a Chinese entrepreneur moves to Silicon Valley, the Chinese government would get to tax his U.S. income.
I know, I know - they spend all their time thinking up annoying stuff like this.
There is an understandable temptation to dismiss these U.N. proposals as silly. After all, the United States can veto any bad initiatives. But this passive approach is a mistake. What would happen, say, if Howard Dean were president when the U.N. was voting whether to create an International Tax Organization? Could we trust him to veto this nutty scheme?
Could we trust any Donk to veto it?
Fortunately, some members of Congress are trying to address this. For example, Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., has introduced legislation that would end U.S. funding of these bureaucracies if they insist on pursuing policies that undermine America.
How about ending all their funding regardless?
Steel Cage Match Alert!

John Ellis says it's going to be Rudy versus Hillary in 2006.
We don't see many of them around here

Karen Robinovitz provides a laugh in the NY Post with Get the 'Man' out of Manicure:
Bring back the real men! New York women are sick of competing with - and dating - men who fuss over their hair, skin, nails, teeth, clothes and cuisine.

"I can't stand metrosexuals!" cries 23-year-old saleswoman Lauren Levin, who has written "metrosexuals need not apply" on her profile. "I want to get manicures with my girlfriends, not my boyfriend."

If there was a buzzword of 2003, it was "metrosexual" - used to describe the alarming amount of straight men who delight in traditionally female pursuits like yoga, pedicures, facials and sample sales.

The backlash has begun.
Ruh Oh!
Levin recently went on a date with Alexander Vorgias, a chiseled 23-year-old commercial real estate agent. Within minutes she knew that he was not for her.

"First," she begins, "he ordered plum wine. He wore so much gel in his hair. His tan was perfect. His suit was Armani."

After he asked about her breasts ("Are they real or fake?" is how Levin recalls it) he confessed he was surprised she went out with him, since, when they first met, he wasn't immaculately dressed.
Just damn!
"You're such a metrosexual!" she blurted.
"I haven't been tanning in three weeks!" he shot back. He did, however, admit to using concealer to cover a bruise he got while playing paintball.

She ordered two more sakes.
I hope they were tall ones.
Vorgias, a born-and-raised New Yorker, is still confused by Levin's reaction. "Maybe it's a byproduct of urban Manhattan life, but suddenly I'm being called a metrosexual," he says. "I care about how I look. I tan every few weeks. I buy Aramis creams and under-eye lotions. But the word 'metrosexual' is not manly."
Much more by following the link. There's also a photo of these two.

Since my big grooming decisions for the day are "flannel lined or regular" and "Dial or Irish Spring", I'm sympathizing with the ladies on this one. I guess there's hope for regular guys:
Theresa D'Amato, a 25-year-old legal assistant, recently dated her metro guy, an entertainment industry exec, for a month. "He was so soap-opera good-looking - he had perfect hair, skin and clothes," she says. "But he bought more beauty products than I did."

After the break up, she swore off metrosexuals. Now, she's dating a tattoo-covered cop.

"He's built. He can fix my car. I have to beg him to shave sometimes. Who would have thought I'd love to lounge on a La-Z-Boy and watch the game on TV?" she asks. "But I do!"
I can't believe they got it right

(Via Kathy Kinsley) I'm not a big fan of Time magazine or their "Person of the Year" series, but I can't argue with their choice this year - The American Soldier. You can't read it it all without a subscription, but I hope the coverage is worthy of the idea. And I hope they found the room to thank the soldiers of our friends as well.

UPDATE: I'm reminded of this line:
"Why didn't you fight?" one Governing Council member asked Hussein as their meeting ended. Hussein gestured toward the U.S. soldiers guarding him and asked his own question: "Would you fight them?"