Saturday, January 17, 2004

Nothing like a campaign!

John Tierney presents some Iowa campaign awards in the NY Times:
Honor Roll

Least Controversial Policy Pronouncement. From Mr. Edwards's stump speech: "I say no to children going to bed hungry."

Giant Pander Award. The competition was fierce this campaign. Besides the usual paeans to ethanol subsidies, candidates passionately swore fealty to the "national packer ban," which would prevent meat-packing companies from owning herds that would compete with Iowa farmers.

But Representative Dennis J. Kucinich showed special flare before a Des Moines audience worried about his plans for a national health care system. Since his public system was supposed to replace private companies with all their unnecessary paperwork and profits, what would happen to all the insurance workers in Des Moines now shuffling that needless paperwork? Not to worry! All these workers "absolutely" will get jobs in the new streamlined federal system, Mr. Kucinich said, and added with a perfectly straight face, "I mean, where better to find the expertise than here in Des Moines?"

Nowhere except maybe New Hampshire.
I was also amazed to read that the haughty French looking guy was voted "the most polite customer — and best tipper" by the "waiters, bartenders and hotel workers in Des Moines" that Tierney surveyed.
No foolish deed goes unrewarded

Streakers In Restaurant Watch As Their Car Is Stolen
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Three men who went streaking through a Denny's restaurant were chilled and chagrined when they spotted a thief drive off in their getaway car, their clothes inside.

Naked in the 20-degree weather, the three young men huddled behind cars in a parking lot until police arrived.
The three entered the restaurant before daybreak Wednesday, wearing only shoes and hats. They left their car running so they could make a quick escape.

But the streakers watched through the windows as a man who had been eating inside the restaurant drove off in their car.
Table for 3? Smoking or non-smoking?
Today's Hoot!

Gephardt Must Pay Salary Back to Missouri Taxpayers
Law requires absentee members of Congress to return paycheck

According to the U.S. Code, Presidential candidate and former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt is required to pay back 90 percent of his $157,000 salary to Missouri taxpayers. Absentee Member Gephardt has missed more than 90 percent of votes in the U.S. House, and the law requires the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Administrative Officer of the House to dock a member's pay for each absent day. ACU filed a suit earlier today demanding that the law be enforced. American Conservative Union chairman David A. Keene called Gephardt's absences, "a callow shrugging off of the responsibility every Congressman has to his constituents, all to appease his desire for presidential power."

ACU also demanded that Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman repay 59 percent and 54 percent of their salaries, respectively, however Keene noted that, "no one has ever abused this law as badly as Dick Gephardt."

2 USC Sec. 39, reads: "The Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Administrative Officer of the House … shall deduct from the monthly payments (or other periodic payment authorized by law) of each Member or Delegate the amount of his salary for each day that he has been absent from the Senate or House, respectively, unless such Member or Delegate assigns as the reason for such absence the sickness of himself or of some member of his family."

"Can you name another job in which someone can consistently miss nine out of every 10 days and still receive a full paycheck," asked Keene. "Unless Dick Gephardt can produce a note from his doctor, he owes the taxpayers an explanation or back pay."
(Hat tip: FR) While I like the idea, maybe we could make an exception for some of the Congresscritters and pay them to stay away?

So How's the Clever Plan Working?

Pretty good it seems. Howie's now wearing sweaters and hiding in his plane - Dodgy Dean in Presto Change-o:
GRUNDY CENTER, Iowa - The tightening race in Iowa has turned the once-confident Howard Dean into an uncertain candidate.
He's changed his wardrobe (adding sweaters), revised his stump speech (it's shorter, sweeter) and started dodging the traveling press (which has been questioning his front-runner strategy).
The situation led to a bizarre moment this week that Dean sat in his plane for nearly half an hour rather than come down the steps and answer questions from reporters waiting for him on the frozen New Hampshire tarmac.
Meanwhile, Weasley Clark, the Bozo from Burpelson, seems to be coated in Teflon. He stumbles from one bizarre utterance to another and the press never seems to make a fuss. But some folks have noticed that there's something a tad odd. See (via PoliPundit) Matthew Continetti's Does Clark Have a Prayer?:
As the press van makes its way toward the event, where Clark will answer questions from voters, I talk with a reporter from one of the major news networks who has followed Clark for several months. It's the usual chitchat--where we're from, where we went to school--and after a few minutes, we fall back into silence.

For a moment, anyway. "It's funny," the reporter says eventually, under her breath. "I can't believe [Clark's] doing so well all of a sudden."

"Why is that?" I ask.

"Because he's so damn crazy."
We've noticed that too.
It's the Arkansas Borgias again!

Morris: Lehane Behind Dean's 'Political Assassination'
Acting at the behest of Bill and Hillary Clinton, a senior campaign aide to Gen. Wesley Clark has carried out the "political assassination" of Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean, former top Clinton advisor Dick Morris contended late Friday.

"I believe we have witnessed a political assassination of Howard Dean by the Clintons," Morris told Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" - hours after polls showed that Dean's once formidable lead in Iowa had evaporated.

Morris named Clark communications director Chris Lehane, a former Gore campaign spokesman who cut his teeth as a key operative in the Clinton White House's attack machine.

"Chris Lehane has been the source of a lot of these negative stories [about Dean]," he explained. "He's a vehicle for Clinton feeds."
And referring to Friday's NY Times article on Lehane:
The Times referred to Lehane as Gen. Clark's "secret weapon" in his campaign's war against Dean and other rivals.

In 2000, it was then-Gore aide Lehane who took an innocuous Republican campaign ad that flashed the word "De-moc-rats" across the screen and turned it into a major scandal.
Sheesh, it was a big scandal if you had a below room temperature IQ. Which seems to be a pretty accurate description of the pressitutes.
After Lehane told reporters that the word "rats" was an attempt to use subliminal advertising to smear his party, the story turned up on the front page of the Times and dominated the news cycle for days.

"Chris understands the essential dynamic of politics, which is punch or be punched," Jim Jordan, Sen. John Kerry's former campaign manager, told the paper.

But some say Lehane's tactics against Howard Dean go further than that.

"Like criminals, most good political operatives have certain M.O.'s," one unidentified Lehane "friend" told the Times. "He's very aggressive and he's very thorough and very good at getting reporters what they need to do a hatchet job on your opponent."
And they're only too willing to play along.

Friday, January 16, 2004

What's all this, then?

The Curmudgeon says "Go Deano"!!!! No, he hasn't lost his mind. He's just commenting on Peggy Noonan's article about how Howard Dean seems to have run into a patch of "bad luck" lately. Bad luck that seems to have more than a little help from the Clintons and their dingleberries in the press.

But wait, here's more bad luck! Three Lawyers Demand Dean Stock Inquiry:
Three lawyers, including a supporter of Wesley Clark, are requesting an inquiry by federal regulators into Howard Dean's sale of about $15,000 in stock in five Vermont banks in 1991, arguing that the then-governor may have engaged in insider trading.
Funny how it all seems to happen at once!
Today's Hoot!

Masters of Deception
It was snowing and the temperature was headed toward single digits when I left the hotel on Park Avenue Wednesday night. A doorman flagged a cab and I climbed in. I'd just finished an interview with Al Gore and it was hard to shake the melancholy feeling that the man who should be president was spending a stormy night in Midtown Manhattan while the momentous world events he should be shaping were careering in all sorts of dangerous directions.
WTF! How did that idiot Bob Herbert sneak in here? Although he is pretty funny in a sick sort of way.

Anyhow, here's today's hoot from poster JohnHuang2 on FR - Carol -- you've come a long way, baby!
Carol Moseley Braun called it quits Thursday, ending her sensation-packed White House bid, despite stratospheric poll numbers (down only slightly from their mid-summer peak of 2 percent -- did she peak too soon?) and huge, adoring crowds at rousing campaign events. (A typical Moseley-Braun rally would be 'standing-room-only' -- no matter in which phone booth it was held). Whether you agree with her or not, the truly amazing thing about her candidacy is how it seemingly came right out of nowhere and, in only a few short months, ended up nowhere. From Illinois Senator to ousted Illinois Senator, to failed presidential candidate, you've come a long way, baby! Seriously, you don't often see inspiring rags-to-riches-and-back-to-rags stories like this anymore. Moseley Braun knocks down barriers then barriers knock down Moseley Braun. She made history then became history! If only it happened to more Democrats.

Now that she's bowed out, giving her coveted support to Howard Dean, I would suggest she promptly put an end to this silly nonsense that there are no blacks in Vermont by moving to Vermont. (That's not entirely fair, I know. I bet Dean's meeting with her Thursday brought back childhood memories -- like when he last met a black person).

Kidding aside, so few have been Dean's contacts with people of color, he probably thought to dub Moseley Braun's announcement an 'Interracial endorsement.' (Dean insisted the endorsement be held in Iowa, uncertain if a clause in Vermont's constitution prohibited this sort of thing).
The Braun endorsement cements Dean's enviable status as the candidate racking up the most endorsements from losers. (Well, not quite. Democrats say Al Gore won in 2000; indeed, he's getting set to deliver his 4th State of the Union Address, fresh on the heels of his global warming address in New York, noting how the bone-chilling weather gripping New York is only the tip of the painfully cold global warming iceberg; unless we reverse course, elect a Democrat, and stop all this global warming, we're all gonna freeze to death. Buttressing Gore's assertion, Philadelphia, feeling the brunt of global warming, was blanketed with 4 inches of global warming Thursday).
I broke out my Bermudas for global warming and nearly froze my friskies off!

Maybe I should sell T-shirts?
Now that's entertainment!

(Via Drudge) Blood on the virtual carpet: tempers flare as 'editor' is thrown out of online town with 80,000 inhabitants
Peter Ludlow is not just a computer gaming enthusiast. He's also a philosophy professor, with an abiding interest in the relationship between the real and the virtual worlds. So when the world's most successful virtual-reality game, the Sims, launched an online version just over a year ago, he didn't just join in for fun; he also decided that he could carry out research for his next book.

And that was where the trouble started. Alphaville, the game's fictional city, could have gone in any number of directions, depending on the arbitrary decisions of the online game players who make up its people through their chosen "avatars", or game characters.

Alphaville could have become a socialist utopia, a grand experiment in free-market capitalism or simply a reflection of the allure and the pitfalls of any real Western city.

As it was, Alphaville quickly turned into a hellhole of scam-artists, crime syndicates, mafia extortion artists and teenage girls turning tricks to make ends meet. It became a breeding ground for the very worst in human nature - a benign-sounding granny, for example, who specialised in taking new players into her confidence, then showered them in abuse. Then there was the scam-artist known as Evangeline, who started out equally friendly and then stole new players' money.
There's no fun shortage in Alphaville!

But how does trouble for the professor come into it?
Professor Ludlow, who teaches at the University of Michigan, decided he would chronicle Alphaville's seamy reality by setting up a newspaper,The Alphaville Herald, run by his game alter-ego. He reported on the scams and the prostitution rings, and also interviewed the protagonists. (Evangeline, his most intriguing source, turned out, in real life, to be a spectacularly warped teenage boy.)
Ruh oh! This doesn't sound good!
But that was before his dispassionate academic inquiry ran smack into the authoritarian brick wall of the game's manufacturer and controller, the California gaming company Electronic Arts.

The Alphaville Herald was closed down and Professor Ludlow's avatar, Urizenus, was kicked out of town. "While we regret it," Electronic Arts told him in a letter, "we feel it is necessary for the good of the game and its community."

Officially, the reason for Professor Ludlow's expulsion was that he included links in his inside-the-game newspaper to outside websites, including one that gave players instructions on how to cheat. What Professor Ludlow and a growing band of academics and sympathisers believe, however, is that his efforts to publicise the tawdry fantasy activities of real-life teenagers were becoming simply too uncomfortable for Electronic Arts to stomach.
Shortly before he was thrown out of Alphaville, Urizenus and his fellow reporters were openly questioning whether teenage game players should be allowed to trade in human flesh, albeit virtual flesh, and wondering whether the Sims Online should be restricted to adults.

Professor Ludlow's expulsion was only the beginning of a fascinating new phase in the game. Electronic Arts, through its online game controller, Maxis, has been cracking down on bad behaviour to clean up Alphaville and, one assumes, try and boost its audience which is stuck at a 80,000 (EA had hoped for a million by now). Evangeline and the psycho-granny have been disciplined, as have various mafia syndicates and a parallel city government set up as a player-based alternative form of authority.

You could compare it to Mussolini's crackdown on the Sicilian Mafia, or even to President George Bush's war on terror. The academics are having a field day as they see real-life issues of power and control played out in cyberspace. The very premise of an online game is that it is uncontrollable - indeed, even the banned players have found ways to sneak back in various disguises.

That, in turn, presents a thorny set of philosophical problems. How do you seek to curb the baser instincts of a community of autonomous players? Is repression the answer? Or do you have to give people incentives to behave better all by themselves? Such questions have been pondered even within the august confines of Yale Law School, where one student, James Grimmelmann, wrote recently: "On the one hand, Maxis is close to losing control over their game world. TSO is a positively Brechtian world of violence, flim-flammery, and low-down dirty tricks.

"On the other hand, Maxis acts like a classic despot, using its powers to single out individual critics for the dungeons and the firing squads. The usual real-world justification for this kind of arbitrary action is the need for a strong central hand to protect public safety and common welfare. But since Maxis isn't all that good at those aspects, the Herald censorship smacks more of tyranny for its own sake."
You ever notice that some people have a lot of time on their hands?
Break out the popcorn, it's a steel cage match!

There are lots of good hijinks in the Donk presidential nomination race, but I'll skip the "who did what to whom" for some of the sidelights like Ads go negative as caucuses close in
Candidates vying in Monday's Iowa caucuses and groups affiliated with Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt had spent more than $8.7 million in Iowa through Friday, according to a report Wednesday by the Wisconsin Advertising Project, which tracks campaign ad spending. Democrats have spent nearly three times in Des Moines what both parties' candidates spent in 2000. By the time the race moves to New Hampshire next week, the project expects spending in Iowa to top $10 million, or $100 per likely caucus voter. About 100,000 Democrats are expected to attend caucuses.
A crony of mine in Des Moines says you cannot watch TV at any hour of the day or night without seeing the campaign ads. The spoilsport wanted the $100 in cash instead.

And if they aren't on your TV set, they're ringing your doorbell! Outside Campaigners Flood Iowa, Sharing Their Candidates' Styles:
They are everywhere in Iowa these days, the frontline ground troops of the presidential campaigns, and they all have the same goal: To get as many people as possible to come out and vote next week. But the inside-outside approaches of the two biggest armies — Richard A. Gephardt's and Howard Dean's — are as different as the candidates they work for.
I'm so excited!
The Dean forces are coming here in carpools, charter buses or commercial flights, traveling on their own nickel and bunking in motels or winterized Y.M.C.A. camps around the state. By no means are all of them young. Jack Heacock, a retired Methodist minister from Bristol, Va., drove 775 miles with his wife, Eleanor, to campaign last weekend in Davenport, on the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa. Why?

"We believe it's time to take this country back," Mr. Heacock said, echoing Dr. Dean's slogan at a rally with former Vice President Al Gore. The Heacocks wore their orange hats proudly, but they stayed at a Holiday Inn. "We didn't know about the camps," Mrs. Heacock said.

Dan Link, 31, a graduate student in American history at New York University, is coming this weekend with several friends to help contact gay Iowans in a special effort dubbed the Rainbow Storm. He, too, is "well beyond the level of sleeping on sleeping bags," but has been impressed with the Dean campaign's organization. Within 24 hours after he signed up to volunteer on the Dean Web site, Mr. Link said, "someone from the campaign called on the phone to verify that I was coming, and whether I'd need transportation or housing." He added, "They seemed totally organized and professional."
"Honey, who's at the door?"
"It's a retired minister, his wife, and some ancient gay student saying it's time to take the country back! They're also singing something about staying at the YMCA."
"Dang, where's the shotgun?"
He (Gephardt), too, is relying on out-of-state help, but mostly in the form of top-flight union organizers with long experience in past campaigns in Iowa and around the country, including the political directors of the United Steelworkers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who organize their troops in satiny windbreakers at a "shape-up" each morning, as if they were assigning work on a job site.
"Honey, now who's at the door?"
"It's some union dudes in shiny jackets!"
"Dang, I hope I have enough birdshot!"

And you aren't even safe out in the country - Rural areas of Iowa draw Edwards in delegate search:
In the complicated Iowa caucus counting system, more people don't necessarily mean more delegates.

That is one reason North Carolina Sen. John Edwards stopped in at the public library here to talk to Kossuth County Democrats on Wednesday, his second day of campaigning in small western and northern Iowa towns.

The Edwards campaign has been in Sioux City and Des Moines in the past two days, but it also trekked to Algona, Denison, Perry, Spencer and Storm Lake.

"Because of the way the caucus system is set up, sometimes you get more bang for your buck in a rural area," said Roxanne Conlin, Edwards' campaign chairwoman in Iowa. "The number of people it takes to get a delegate is less."
Leave it to the trial lawyer to figure that one out.

Handwringer alert!

U.S. Foreign Air Marshals Plan Challenged
BRUSSELS, Belgium - U.S. Homeland Security officials making the case for the use of armed sky marshals on trans-Atlantic flights faced widespread fears in Europe about the risks to crew and passengers.
As best I can make out, the Euros are afraid those evil gunz are going to leap out of their holsters and hurt somebody. Why not arm them with really nasty scowls instead? That would scare off the Islamic nutjobs, fer sure! Or maybe hire a lot of Kung Fu artistes? Of course, they might afraid that one of them would put their hands through the side of the plane.
Meanwhile, south of the border

Venezuela Hails Latin American 'Axis' Against US
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Thursday his country was forging an alliance with Argentina and Brazil to lead Latin America's opposition to U.S. free trade plans for the region.

"Clearly, an axis can be seen ... -- and it's not an axis of evil as some people say -- .. that passes from Caracas, through Brasilia and reaches Buenos Aires," the left-wing Venezuelan leader said in a state of the nation speech to parliament.
Oooo, Hugo! Can we feel your muscle? More bloviations by following the link, but I especially liked:
The Venezuelan president said the growing cooperation between Cuba and Venezuela, in which more than 10,000 Cuban doctors are participating in Venezuelan government health projects, was a model of social and economic collaboration.

"Yes, we are de-stabilizers ... Fidel and Chavez ... against death, against injustice, against hunger, sickness and inequality," Chavez said. He faces a bid by foes to hold a referendum this year to try to vote him out of office.
You see, there's a funny thing about those "doctors" and it's related to the referendum - Castro’s Venezuelan Piracy
The flights from Havana go to ramp number 4 at Maiquetia Airport 25 miles from downtown Caracas, a ramp re-designated for military use by Venezuela’s Marxist President Hugo Chavez and exempt from the usual customs controls or inspections.

On September 29 alone, six flights brought 950 Cubans, mostly males in their 30s and 40s. These “Cubans travel without caring about their belongings, which are loaded directly from the planes to the trucks of the mayor’s offices,” reported the journal El Universal on November 18. “The load is guarded by National Guard officers.”

In this nation that once had a free press, the tightening grip of the Chavez dictatorship has forbidden the photographing of this airport influx of operatives from his friend Fidel Castro’s Communist police state.

“The use of TV cameras as well as the presence of journalists from any mass media is prohibited,” reported El Universal. “Nevertheless, a few photojournalists have managed to catch images from landings, defeating security controls.”

Between September 26 and October 27, this journal reports from its sources that 11,530 Cubans arrived in Venezuela on 76 such flights. Chavez’s seizure of one television station and threats against the rest of the press have reduced such critical news coverage of his regime.

Facing potential recall by voters, Chavez has also taken personal dictatorial control of the state-run oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (Pdvsa), and since then its many aircraft have also been ferrying an unknown number of Cuban operatives into his turbulent nation.
These Cubans are officially welcomed as health care workers, educators and helpers by the Chavez government. But many of them, as an October 6 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies indicated, are “Cuban intelligence officers” who have been embedded in key sectors of the Venezuelan Government, including its computer data processing, military, oil production, and political police (DISIP).
And why would they do that?
But 3.6 million Venezuelans signed to recall Chavez despite his threats and intimidation. A Chavez-appointed panel now has until the end of January to decide whether to declare more than 1.2 million signatures invalid – an absurd claim on its face – or to set a date within 97 days for a recall election that, if honest, Chavez is certain to lose.
I'm not holding my breath that the referendum will come off. And Hugo could use the company of a few "comrades" when the going inevitably gets tough.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Is Deano Imploding?

I miss all the good stuff! Wife-Abuse Stunner (with a swell snap of Howie):
Democrat Howard Dean last night faced a charge of intervening to help a wife abuser in a child-custody case, as polls showed his lead collapsing in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
I mentioned the poll results in Iowa below, but all I had heard was Howie (aka the ranting angry guy) claiming the President needed psychotherapy - Dean: Bush obsessed with father's failure: Recommends psychotherapy, suggests Iraq war motivated by revenge.

More on the implosion theme in New Hampshire from John DiStaso at the Union Leader who also has this surprise:
Secretary of State Bill Gardner says those who have apparently been telling undeclared voters they can’t vote in the primary defeated their own purpose.

They were bound to run into someone who knew better and who would bring it up to a city or town clerk, or even to a pollster. The result: big publicity for the fact that undeclared voters can indeed vote.

Gardner says the result may be increased turnout by independents, though he’s not ready to release his traditional turnout prediction.
I didn't know that NH had a open (for independents at least) primary. Who would a fun-loving independent choose?
Urgent Msg from SPECTRE HQ!

Memo to:
cc: Other Minions

From: Number 1

While SPECTRE has vast resources, you should not feel that it gives you carte blanche to squander them on dubious activities. Our threat assessment profile of the American people does not rate them highly in the intelligence department, but I find it hard to believe that a "fat, loud, and stupid" campaign is likely to produce the desired result of overturning the government.

I haven't spent all these years building a vast conspiracy for you to fritter it away. Don't make me come down there!

And speaking of has beens

Drudge is having a big laugh with the Goron's speech for George Soros and MoveOn that I mentioned previously - GORE TO WARN OF 'GLOBAL WARMING' ON NEW YORK CITY'S COLDEST DAY IN DECADE!. But not to worry about the big weird guy - he's on top of things:
"The extreme conditions are actually the end result of the planet warming," Gore has told advisers, sources say, in explaining his motivations. "The Bush policies are leading to weather extremes."
With the weather gods angry, it must be about time to toss some virgins in the volcano.
And speaking of "big name" endorsements for Deano

Carter clarifies purpose of meeting with Dean
Former President Carter said Wednesday that he does not plan to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean when the two meet this weekend.

Carter issued a statement, described as a clarification of news reports about Dean's visit Sunday in Carter's hometown of Plains, Ga.

"This meeting is not an endorsement of his candidacy, but an opportunity for me to learn more about the candidate and his views," Carter said.
Well that's a real snoozer! I'm sure Deano was counting on all 5 votes a Carter endorsement would bring him and I was certainly counting on the comedy it would provide.
Say What?

(Via Roger Simon) New Poll Shows Kerry in the Lead
We've just gotten some new numbers in from a Zogby Poll. It shows that John Kerry is now in the lead at 22 percent. Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt are tied at second place with 21 percent. And John Edwards is coming in at 17 percent. So if the poll holds, it would show that times are changing for the campaign. The Margin of error is +/- 4.5%.
Which means it's a photo finish or Zogby has been smoking wacky wheat. Actually, the caucus process is so unpredicatable that it's hard to give the pollsters the blame they usually deserve.

But if that isn't bizarre enough, how about Braun to Quit Presidential Bid, Back Dean
Carol Moseley Braun plans to end her White House bid Thursday, leaving an all-male field for the presidency and giving her support to Democratic front-runner Howard Dean.
That ought to be worth 5 votes. What happened, Carol? Did you run through all the Federal matching funds already?
Dean said Wednesday that he welcomed the endorsement of the former senator from Illinois.

"She's a principled person."
Must be a different Carol Moseley Braun!
The run for president also may have helped Braun rehabilitate her image. Elected to the Senate in 1992 during the "Year of the Woman," Braun lost the seat after one term due to allegations about her ethics and improper campaign spending.
Carol, we feel all different about you now!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Bozo from Burpelson

Over at Slate, Chris Suellentrop has some details on something that is being massively under-reported. Namely that Wesley Clark is neck and neck with Kucinich as the biggest wingnut in the Donk nomination race. To avoid copying the entire article, I just elaborated on the ones that struck my fancy.
Whether it's true or not, Gen. Wesley Clark's rise in the polls in New Hampshire is being partly attributed to some voters having "cold feet" about former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, especially Dean's penchant for making statements that are quickly seized upon by Fox News or the Republican Party as evidence of unpatriotic disloyalty. But Clark has the same propensity for speaking imprecisely off the cuff. Here are some statements I heard him make last week during my trip with him in New Hampshire:

Bush was "warned" about 9/11?

Bush "never intended" to get Osama Bin Laden?

There wasn't a single terrorist in Iraq before the war? "The president was not and has not been held accountable yet for misleading the American people. He is continuing to associate Saddam, Iraq, and the problem of terrorism. Yet the only terrorists that are in Iraq are the people that have come there to attack us." (Jan. 7, Town House, Peterborough.)
Wesley must not get out much.
Fifty-five million voters are "ill-informed" dupes of the Christian right? "Now, there's one party in America that's made the United Nations the enemy. And I don't know how many of you have ever read that series of books that's published by the Christian right that's called the "Left Behind" series? Probably nobody's read it up here. But don't feel bad, I'm not recommending it to you. I'm just telling you that according to the book cover that I saw in the airport, 55 million copies have been printed. And in it, the Antichrist is the United Nations. And so there's this huge, ill-informed body of sentiment out there that's just grinding away against the United Nations." (Jan. 7, Fuller Elementary School, Keene.)
What part of fiction doesn't he understand? I'm waiting for him to say that, based on sales, a large portion of the American public believes that Klingons exist. As for the UN, they aren't competent enough to be the Antichrist.
Does Islam need an Enlightenment or just "Young men in an Islamic culture cannot get married until they can support a family. No job, no marriage. No marriage, unhappy young men. They get real angry, they feel real frustrated, they feel real powerless. And a certain number of them are being exploited in the mosques by this recruiting network." (Jan. 8, Havenwoods Heritage Heights senior center, Concord.)
And it's the American taxpayers' burden to find them a job and a hottie? Maybe they could run for President in the Democrat party. No apparent skills or knowledge required and they could hang with Madonna!
President Bush doesn't even want to find Bin Laden?
Yadda, yadda. I'm still waiting to hear about them trying to "impurify" Weasley's precious bodily fluids!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Calling all minions! Number 1 is pissed!

Ernst Blofeld

Breaking Blofeld news - Conservatives' 'Vicious' Criticism Makes Soros Angry
Billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros, who has pledged $15.5 million to liberal interest groups, said Monday he would likely up the ante in his quest to oust President Bush from the White House this November.

Speaking before the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., Soros declined to say how much he would give or when he might make the next donation. But he said the attacks he has endured from conservatives -- the Republican National Committee and the Bush campaign are two of his biggest critics -- have fueled his restlessness.

"I've been really quite viciously attacked for doing what I'm doing," Soros told the packed audience. "It's got a rise out of me and that will probably [result] in a rise in the amount of money I'll devote to it."
Oh please, bring it on.
Looking past the upcoming Democratic primaries, Soros said he doesn't have a favorite candidate to take on Bush. But he finds the views of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry most appealing.

"I'm not picking one candidate, but I am keen on Dean," Soros said when asked about the Democratic frontrunner's chances.
Well that's a surprise! Not that he supports Deano, but that's he's a poet too! In further news, Wes Boyd and Joan Blades ask "How high?"

Ignore the high pitched whine in the background coming from the grave of FDR. That's just the corpse passing 7200 RPM.
Pond Scum

Mark Steyn puts the hammer down in We are falling under the imam's spell
Let me see if I understand the BBC Rules of Engagement correctly: if you're Robert Kilroy-Silk and you make some robust statements about the Arab penchant for suicide bombing, amputations, repression of women and a generally celebratory attitude to September 11 – none of which is factually in dispute – the BBC will yank you off the air and the Commission for Racial Equality will file a complaint to the police which could result in your serving seven years in gaol. Message: this behaviour is unacceptable in multicultural Britain.

But, if you're Tom Paulin and you incite murder, in a part of the world where folks need little incitement to murder, as part of a non-factual emotive rant about how "Brooklyn-born" Jewish settlers on the West Bank "should be shot dead" because "they are Nazis" and "I feel nothing but hatred for them", the BBC will keep you on the air, kibitzing (as the Zionists would say) with the crème de la crème of London's cultural arbiters each week. Message: this behaviour is completely acceptable.
Since then, societal organisation-wise, things seem to be going Islam's way swimmingly - literally in the case of the French municipal pool which bowed to Muslim requests to institute single-sex bathing, but also in more important ways. Thus, I see the French interior minister flew to Egypt to seek the blessing for his new religious legislation of the big-time imam at the al-Azhar theological institute. Rather odd, don't you think? After all, Egypt isn't in the French interior. But, if Egypt doesn't fall within the interior minister's jurisdiction, France apparently falls within the imam's.
And after some other odious examples:
And so, when free speech, artistic expression, feminism and other totems of western pluralism clash directly with the Islamic lobby, Islam more often than not wins – and all the noisy types who run around crying "Censorship!" if a Texas radio station refuses to play the Bush-bashing Dixie Chicks suddenly fall silent. I don't know about you, but this "multicultural Britain" business is beginning to feel like an interim phase.
I'm continually puzzled that the leftoids always roll over on some of their most cherished whines as soon as Islamofascism gets involved.
Today's Hoot

Rob Christensen of the Raleigh News and Observer provides some unintended humor with Centrists primary in South Carolina:
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean knew that he was no longer in the land of Ben and Jerry when the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party reached into his desk and whipped out a Beretta .380.

"His eyes got really big when I pulled out the gun," said Dick Harpootlian, a Columbia lawyer who was Democratic Party chairman until last year.

Harpootlian, a former prosecutor, said he brandished the revolver to drive home the point that many Southerners are fond of their guns -- regardless of their politics, or whether they love the ice cream churned out by Ben and Jerry's, Vermont's left-wing ice cream company.
Christensen may have got it wrong, but unless Harpootlian, a famous BS artist, has one of the not very well known Beretta .38 revolvers, he surely means a .380 pistol. But I liked the story anyhow.
Dean is not the only candidate taking a crash course in South Carolina political folkways.

The contest Feb. 3 is the first Democratic presidential primary this year in the Bible Belt, the first primary with many black voters, and the first where many people are more comfortable talking about the Civil War than about civil unions.
South Carolina is not everyone's back yard. Many candidates have had to learn to eat barbecue, clap rhythmically to gospel music and talk about the Bible, however inexpertly.
Someone mention Howard Dean?
"What is going on in Iowa is so far left of center," Harpootlian said. "It puts candidates at a disadvantage who want to come back to the middle. You can't expect to lurch too far to the left and expect to do well in South Carolina."

The South Carolina Democratic primary was the brainchild of Harpootlian. During the GOP primary in 2000, he saw how the Republicans hogged all the publicity as Bush fought off a vigorous challenge from Arizona Sen. John McCain. And Harpootlian wanted to set up a firewall to prevent liberals from walking away with the nomination.
Since by any standard, Harpootlian is a flaming liberal, I would suggest that the reason is more regional. Or the Donks have gone nuts. Hmm, maybe both.
The setting for the Democrats' south-of-the-border clash is incongruous. South Carolina has become such a Republican stronghold that only the most diehard Democrats believe they have a chance against Bush here in the fall. Democratic officials elected statewide are becoming an endangered species.
The state is one of the most heavily Republican in the country. There were 573,000 voters in the 2000 GOP presidential primary; Democrats expect there might be half that number in the Democratic primary.

There has even been a bit of suspense concerning whether the Democratic primary will happen at all. South Carolina and Utah are the only two states in which the political parties rather than taxpayers must foot the bill for the primaries.

South Carolina Democrats have not been flush. At one point, state Democratic Chairman Joe Erwin, a Greenville advertising executive, floated the idea that Democrats might want to find a corporate sponsor. One person suggested a "Chick-Fil-A South Carolina Democratic Primary."
OK by me. Why should the taxpayers pay for either party's hijinks?
Coming up with volunteers might be more difficult. In 2000, the South Carolina Republicans had a difficult time finding the 5,000 volunteer poll workers to man the nearly 2,000 polling places. At one point they were planning not to open polls in heavily Democratic black neighborhoods.

That brought a suit from the Democratic Party, arguing that the GOP was violating the federal Voting Rights Act. So now Republicans are watching closely to make sure the Democrats open polling places in GOP areas.
Other than spite, which should never be underestimated, why would one care where the other party had its primary polling places?
Another quirk to the South Carolina primary is that it is open to anyone -- Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians or whoever.

This has led to the possibility of mischief. Republicans complained that South Carolina Democrats helped fuel McCain's challenge to Bush in 2000.
Now I understand!
For seven months, a conservative radio talk-show host in Greenville, S.C., has been urging Republicans to vote in the primary for the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of two black candidates.

"He is a fun guy," said Peter Thiele, program director of WORD-AM. "People thought the Democratic Party is taking the African-American community for granted and marginalizing Sharpton's campaign."
South Carolina politics has always been filled with racial land mines.
Among the obstacles facing the candidates has been the NAACP's boycott of the state because it continues to fly the Confederate battle flag on the Capitol grounds in Columbia.

The NAACP has provided special dispensation to candidates, campaign workers and reporters through the primary. But at least two candidates, Edwards and Lieberman, a civil rights activist in the 1960s, are showing solidarity with the NAACP by staying only in private residences.

Among the homes where Edwards stayed was that of the Rev. Willie Given, a Baptist minister who lives in the Charleston suburbs.

"He came, he ate, he slept," said Given, when asked to describe the experience.

Asked whether Edwards stayed in a guest room, Given deadpanned: "I didn't put him in my room."
I hope you let him use the john too!
Appealing to white voters can be equally tricky.

In November, Dean promised to reach out to "guys with Confederate flag decals on their bumpers." Edwards immediately criticized Dean for condescending to Southerners.

"I have learned my lesson," Dean said later. "You will never hear those words pass my lips again."
Howie, if we wait long enough, just about anything will pass your lips!

Monday, January 12, 2004

And speaking of moonbats, there's Paul O'Neill

I'm with Rog:
I can call former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill a self serving, backstabbing, odious leach-covered blob of quivering slime today, because I called him that while he was still alive as Sec. Treas, and fucking up the economy. Which, of course, is why Bush fired his ass.
A more moderate, but less incisive view is provided by John Fund in today's WSJ - Rage of a Relic: Paul O'Neill is angry that the world has passed him by.
Mr. O'Neill was a fish out of water in the Bush administration. Time magazine reports that he considered himself, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Secretary of State Colin Powell to be "three beleaguered souls . . . who shared a more nonideological approach [but] were used for window dressing." Mr. O'Neill tells Mr. Suskind, the author of a new book that tells Mr. O'Neill's side of his tour at Treasury, that the three moderates "may have been there, in large part, as cover" for the administration's conservative agenda.

But it wouldn't have taken much for Mr. O'Neill to figure out that on issues his new boss would more resemble Ronald Reagan than Nixon, Ford or the first George Bush. All he had to do was pay attention to Mr. Bush's record in Texas and his 2000 campaign. When Mr. O'Neill accepted the job as Treasury secretary he knew it entailed being a loyal member of a team, dissenting in private if he disagreed with the president's views.

Instead, Mr. O'Neill early on seemed to become a public spokesman for every cause except his boss's policies. He questioned the need for a strong dollar, sending the currency into a nosedive. His tour of Africa with rock star Bono veered into advocacy for action on AIDS, not exactly a brief of the Treasury Department. He also emerged as an aggressive advocate of action on global warming.
Oh yeah, he fit right in!

Nice duds, dude!

Aside from astonishment that politics might be involved with his job, Paulie's biggest complaint is that there were contingency plans for dealing with Saddam even before 9/11. Sheesh, do they let him out without his nanny? Every administration, Donk or GOP, has contingency plans for dealing with riff raff:
"We had the same stuff," says a former senior Clinton Administration aide who worked at the Pentagon. "It would have been irresponsible not to have such planning. We had all kinds of briefing material ready should the president have decided to move on Iraq. In fact, a lot of the material we had prepared was material that the previous Bush administration had left for us. It just isn't that big a deal. Or shouldn't be."
Hat tip: Instapundit who observes:
Of course they had the same stuff. And, yes, it would have been irresponsible not to.
The only really question is why Paulie's ass wasn't fired sooner.

Moonbat News!

Cynthia McKinney wants her old job back - Dad: McKinney wants rematch against Majette . Last we heard, Cindy had some plush gig at Cornell as another of those itinerant college professors like Al Gore. But I guess she's just not satisfied:
He said his daughter was in Barbados for a speaking engagement and could not be reached for comment. Attempts to reach Majette were unsuccessful.

McKinney's apparent return ends months of speculation about her future.

The outspoken former congresswoman had been courted by the Green Party to run for president, but she issued a statement Saturday turning down the third-party invitation to run.

"I have received words of encouragement from every corner of this country and from Green Party supporters beyond our shores," McKinney said in a letter to the Greens. "But in the end, a national campaign is not in the cards for me at this time."

Billy McKinney said running on the Green Party national ticket "was just too way out for Cynthia."
That's hard to believe!

And in related news of old hacks with new career moves - Bob's Your Anchor
It's the all-new Baghdad Bob - he's cleaned up his act, dyed his hair and he's back on the air.
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi minister of disinformation who became famous for his absurd daily reports that Iraq was winning the war, has popped up on Arab television as a commentator - as these new exclusive photos show.

The fallen regime spin-doctor was hired by Abu Dhabi TV specifically to rant about his former boss and favorite subject: Saddam Hussein.
Ya gotta love the USA. We're the only folks good natured enough not to put a bullet through his head on general principle.
More Howie debate hijinks

In my post last night about the Donk debate, I forgot to mention a Howie low light, but the NY Post reminded me - No Debating It: Howard Blew It Big Time
Howard Dean's worst debate performance came at the worst possible time: just as Iowans are getting ready to vote.

He was stuck on the defensive almost all night, and got the worst of it from Al Sharpton as Dean tried to defend his failure to hire minority Cabinet members and stumbled over citizenship for immigrants serving in the Army.

Even a preplanned stunt blew up in Dean's face - invited to ask a question of a rival, he tried to toss it to a supporter in the audience, but the moderator wouldn't let him. Flummoxed, Dean was unable to come up with an impromptu query.
If you've seen Howie's debate performances, you know he likes to massage the format a bit. I guess he thinks it demonstrates what an "outside the box" thinker he is. Anyhow, he tried to ask someone he planted in the audience a question, instead of one of the other candidates. Host Lester Holt quite rightly slapped him down. Then, amazed at not getting his way, he didn't have a question ready for one of the other dwarves and had to punt. I was reminded of Big Weird Al stumping across the stage to "confront" Dubya and getting a "what planet did this guy with the blusher beam down from" expression in response.
Not those bozos again!

As I channel surfed past MSNBC tonight, I was captivated by yet another Donkster debate - The "Brown and Black Presidential Forum" in fact.

No, I didn't want to hear the panderers expostulate about "reparations" or even watch Rev. Al beat up Howie. What was captivating was the hostess - Maria Celeste Arraras. I'm only kidding a little - Maria was truly the only bright spot in a really dismal show put on by the usual suspects. Even the usually level headed Joe Lieberman emitted a whine that in Florida in 2000, thousands of Haitians, African Americans, elderly Americans were denied the chance to vote.

Since the leftoids are in love with this one, let's take a cruise down that particular sewer with John Berlau in Insight Magazine who castigates the GOP establishment for letting this canard slide.
... the GOP cannot simply let Democratic claims about the Florida recount go unchallenged. "I've had discussions with a number of friends and they say they're tired of repeating the same thing over and over," Peter Kirsanow, a Cleveland lawyer and Republican member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), tells Insight. "But that's what liberals do and that's why they're successful. They spread these myths until they're accepted as truth. Any sort of falsehood that drives people to vote one way needs to be corrected." Kirsanow adds that the myths must be corrected because "unchallenged claims that the process was corrupted or tainted erodes the legitimacy of democratic government."
After hand counts conducted by the media showed that Bush still would have won under any fair standard, Democratic activists have focused on specific charges of disenfranchising black voters. The USCCR - which at the time was led by highly partisan Democrat Mary Frances Berry and had only one Republican commissioner - issued a scathing majority report in 2001 claiming "widespread voter disenfranchisement" and accusing Harris and Jeb Bush of "failing to fulfill their duties in a manner that would prevent this disenfranchisement."

One of the charges made in the commission's report, and recently leveled on C-SPAN by a liberal caller, is the so-called "voter purge." This was a database of the names of felons set up for the state by a private company that contained some errors. In a question to Harris, the CPI asked in an accusatory tone, "The purging of thousands of votes occurred on your clock ... why haven't you come out to apologize to the folks, a great majority of them black voters in your home state?" As Harris patiently explained, the list wasn't her idea. A mandate for the list was passed into law in 1998, sponsored by two Democratic legislators and signed by Democratic governor Lawton Chiles, Jeb Bush's predecessor. The law was passed in response to the 1997 Miami mayoral election that was overturned by a court due to widespread fraud, with votes from disqualified felons and dead people. And Harris had no power to remove voters from the rolls. In Florida's decentralized election system, that's reserved for elected county supervisors of elections. The list served as a tool for them to use and verify with their own records.

Both the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post - "hardly bastions of Republicanism" as Harris has pointed out - found that, if anything, county officials were too permissive in whom they let vote, and this largely was to the benefit of Al Gore. An analysis by the Post found that 5,600 people whose names matched the names of convicted felons who should have been disqualified were allowed to cast their ballots. "These illegal voters almost certainly influenced the down-to-the-wire presidential election," the Post reported. "It's likely they benefited Democratic candidate Al Gore: Of the likely felons identified by the Post, 68 percent were registered Democrats."
Kirsanow adds that other charges from Democratic activists turned out to be "falsehoods and exaggerations." For instance, when the commission investigated the charge that a police traffic checkpoint near a polling place intimidated black voters, it turned out that the checkpoint operated for 90 minutes at a location two miles from the poll and not even on the same road. Sixteen people were given citations - 12 of whom were white.
There's much more by following the link, but you get the idea. And if you want to talk about disenfranchisement, how about the members of the armed services who were illegally denied the right to vote by Al Gore's buttboys?

Which reminds me, noxious Mary Frances Berry has endorsed Weasley. She is still claiming on the USCCR web site that she is an "independent", which is how she used to get around the restriction that no more than 4 members of the commisssion are to be from one party. Sounds like the GOP needs to name some "independents" to the commission themselves.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

I hate web ads that make noise

(Via FR) Especially when they're from the asshats at Sheesh, it even loads Java too. Go to this CNN page and refresh it a few times until it starts talking. It's in rotation on the right sidebar with silent ads from FedEx and General Mills and hypes the Movers' anti-Bush ad contest with a voiceover like an oldies radio station. I checked a few other sections at CNN and they seem to have only bought space on the Entertainment news articles. I guess that's their demographic.

What's also interesting is that it's the political version of the half assed quiz ads like "Can you identify Paris Hilton?" - all they really want is your name for their mailing list. Which reminds me of this AP puff piece - Becomes Anti-Bush Powerhouse. Aside from the drool, there's
It also has attracted powerful allies. In November, billionaire philanthropist George Soros and his business partner, Peter Lewis, pledged a $5 million matching grant — a dollar for every two raised by MoveOn members — to create a $15 million advertising campaign to defeat President Bush.
Sheesh, Soros has put the minions on an incentive system!

While you're at the AP article, be sure to check out the super sized picture of Boyd and Blades. They're poster children for horse faced Berkeley liberals.
What a friend we have in Howie!

Christopher Buckley at Opinion Journal - In God He Trusts:
"In a shift, Howard Dean says he will mention God more often in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination."
--New York Times, Jan. 4

Your Google Search for "Howard Dean" and "God" resulted in 49,201 matches.

"God, it's great to be here with you in Iowa."

"I think I have some pretty goddamned good ideas on how to fix the economy."

"God, I love Florida."

"I swear to God, if I didn't live in Vermont, I'd live here in New Hampshire. What a fantastic state you have here."

"God, I wish I got to spend more time in South Carolina."

"There are times, as a physician, when there's a temptation to think of yourself as God, like when you have to tell a patient, 'That toe's gotta go.' You have to watch yourself."

"No, I'm not gonna unseal my record as governor. It's none of your goddamn business, anyway."
"God knows I'm no theologian, but I preferred the original New Testament version, where Noah strikes a match inside the whale and builds a fire and it coughs him out onto the island. It's a powerful message about man being able to control his own destiny."
"Not likeable? I think I'm extremely likeable. Hey, goddamnit--look at me when I talk to you."
Sounds rigorous fer sure!

The Interested Participant notes that things are a tad "loose" in the Iowa Caucuses:
Dan Savage has an op-ed piece in the New York Times where he discusses the absolute lack of systematic control of who participates in the Iowa caucuses. He writes:
I was appalled when I learned that you didn't need a valid voter registration card or proof of residency - any identification at all - to take part in Iowa's caucuses. All you had to do was show up at a caucus site and fill out a voter registration card.
And, he describes his actual experience from the 2000 election.
So I went to a caucus site, gave the address of my hotel in Des Moines as my "residence" when I registered (no one asked how long I intended to reside in Iowa), and took part in the caucus. As it turned out, I didn't even need to register - when it came time to indicate whom we supported for president, slips of scrap paper were passed out to everyone in the room. There was nothing to stop someone who hadn't signed in, or even registered to vote, from grabbing a piece of paper and jotting down a name.
To determine if the requirements have changed since 2000, Savage contacted the Polk County Election Office in Des Moines and found that the process was the same as before.
You may recall Dan as the "doorknob licker" of the 2000 campaign. But not to worry - Official says caucuses still clean, despite tricks:
The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party worked to ease concerns Friday about the integrity of the Iowa caucuses...

Fischer, speaking in Johnston on Friday after the taping of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press," said all this year's Democratic presidential campaigns have pledged in writing to discourage non-Iowans from participating in the Jan. 19 caucuses.

Caucus participants will have to sign an affidavit reminding them of the criminal penalties if they misrepresent themselves.
Kewl! That ought to be really, really effective.
In addition, outsiders would stick out like sore thumbs, Fischer said.
Yeah? Exactly how do you separate the foreign Deanie babies from the local variety?

Hey man, do we toke before or after?
Naughty Howie!

AP Exclusive: While governor, Dean accepted speaking fees, gifts from special interests
Just months before he signed a state tax break for insurers in 1993, then-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean met with executives from two companies that might benefit.

Then Dean received a gift from the companies' lobbyist, followed by more than $60,000 in donations over the next two years to one of Dean's own charity funds.

The relationship between Dean and the nontraditional insurance industry is detailed in a series of letters obtained by The Associated Press in which both sides discussed official state business and private financial matters in the same correspondence.

"We greatly appreciate the flexibility your administration and its predecessors have promoted in the regulation of insurance company," one of the companies wrote Dean in 1995. A few sentences later, the company announced it was donating more money to his charity.

"In addition to a contribution in 1994, I am pleased to inform you that we have just forwarded a second contribution in the amount of $25,000 to assist with the project's important work."

Tax records the campaign volunteered to the AP also show that as governor, Dean took more than $13,000 in personal pay from four special interests to give speeches, much of it from a drug company involved in a major sexual harassment case.
Can you imagine the volume of whining if a Republican had done the above?
Is that called "vertically challenged"?

The Making of the Money Shot quoting Michael Crowley in the New Republic:
"Chatting with reporters on his campaign jet recently, Dean complained about a New York Times story that had described him as 'diminutive.' Dean first noted that the Times reporter, Adam Nagourney, is 'about five-three.' Then he added, 'I don't know that I'm so short.' Well, a reporter asked, how tall are you? 'I'm five-eight,' Dean replied. 'Almost five-nine.' Dean probably should have stopped here, but he didn't. 'Five-eight and three-quarters,' he continued. 'The reason I don't tell anybody about the three-quarters is that it sounds like I'm very sensitive about my height. And I'm not.' Where would anyone get that impression?"