Saturday, June 08, 2002

News you can't use The busy little drones in the ant farm on the East River have come up with another action packed summit conference. This one is in Rome and is titled

or WFS:fyl in the wacky shorthand used by the cognoscenti. In case you were on the edge of your chair, the bottom line (Spoiler Alert!) is that the United Nations bureaucrats will insist that the developed world (particularly the United States) should have their taxpayers cough up big bucks which the U.N bureaucrats will ensure get to the right hands in various exotic but benighted lands, mostly ruled by tin pot dictators. (Case in point: Robert Mugabe plans to show his mug at the summit after doing his best to destroy food production in Zimbabwe). The developed world (particularly the United States) will do their best to avoid the trap without explicitly telling the U.N. to pound sand. Whiners of all stripes will wring their hands about the selfishness of the taxpayers' representatives.

And if you thought this one was good, stay tuned for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, Aug. 26 - Sept. 4.
What's in a name? Ed Vulliamy writes a love letter to Kathleen Townsend Kennedy in the Guardian (natch). Based on the blather she spouted in the interview, her handlers can't brief her enough to prevent her looking quite a few fries short of a Happy Meal. Here she is, trying for gravitas...

On the other hand, Ed is evidently head-over-heels, which accounts for his lack of discernment.
Eliminate the Middleman: Stephanie Zimmerman has a story in the Chicago Sun-Times detailing the fund raising tribulations of the United Way. It reminded me of a meeting I attended about 10 years ago where the local head of the United Way was to show up to tell us that things "were getting better". You see, there had been a local problem with two competing United Way organizations fighting each other tooth and nail for the franchise at local businesses. And then the long time head of United Way of America, William Aramony, had been fired after it was revealed he had been dipping into the cookie jar to pay for his personal high living and that of his teen age mistress and other friends and relatives. Anyhow, this young junior executive type shows up to put oil on the troubled waters and it becomes quite clear that he is a professional charity executive, hopping from one management position to another in the "nonprofit industry". (Note to self: running a nonprofit does not mean you don't get paid.) While we were all polite, the boy got sent off with his tail between his legs. And I have refused to deal with them ever since.

Nowadays, the United Way has an additional problem. All over the country, the local organizations are making politically correct funding decisions that infuriate the contributors. Refusing funding for the Boy Scouts is just the tip of the iceberg, take a look some time at who they do fund. Stephanie does not mention this factor in her tale of woe, but the people I talk to always mention it. They don't want "nonprofit industry" professionals deciding where the money goes, because increasingly they don't seem to get it right. My suggestion is that you figure out exactly where you want your charitable contributions to go and donate directly. The United Way's role is superfluous.

And for those interested in Bill Aramony, the word is that he is out of the slammer.

Friday, June 07, 2002

The Right Way: William Hague has an interesting piece in the Guardian of all places, titled The Right Stuff and subtitled: "Conservatives are winning all over the world. Pity it came too late for me." A teaser:

The right is on the march. On Monday the leaders of the International Democrat Union will meet for their triennial conference in Washington. The IDU is the conservative equivalent of the Socialist International, and the fly on the wall in the White House will see nearly 30 party leaders around George Bush's dining table, many of them recently elected to government.

As the chairman, I will find my mind casting itself back to the same event three years ago: a rather smaller group of fairly grumpy-looking opposition leaders, very grateful that the Christian Democrat mayor of Berlin had decided to give us dinner. A lot has happened in these three years to move this conference from the Rathaus to the White House.

Go for it guys, and besides the Socialist International, don't forget Tony and Bubba's "Third Way".
Hopefully no more Hugo: STRATFOR is reporting that civil war may be imminent in Venezuela. Between a deeply divided military, a rebellious middle class, and would-be dictator Hugo Chavez and his "Bolivarian Circle" goon squads, there may well be a hot time in Caracas soon. Not to worry though, Jimmy Carter could be on his way to save the day according to Reuters. The Iconclast has a satire calling it Jimmah's "Axis of Evil Tour".

Maybe this time, they'll get rid of Hugo for good.

Andrew Card's Angst: According to Glen Johnson at the Boston Globe, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card has let his hair down in the latest Esquire. Andy's pathetic whine seems to be "that the pending departure of presidential adviser Karen P. Hughes will boost the influence of a more ideologically inclined aide, Karl Rove, and prompt finger-pointing at Card if President Bush's approval ratings fall". This alarming prospect forces him to share all his sorrows with Esquire. When he finishes blubbering, I expect he will have to start packing up his office. Back to the minors, girly boy!
What a hoot!: Reuters reports that "Beijing's most popular newspaper has unwittingly republished a bogus story about U.S. Congress threats to skip town for Memphis or Charlotte unless Washington builds them a new Capitol building with a retractable dome". It seems that the newshawks at the Beijing Evening News have been using the Onion as a source. Time for some re-education, Comrades!
Thrills and Chills: Get ready to break out the popcorn and beer Sunday evening as Le Pen once again rattles the cages of France's political elite. The twittering has already started amongst the chattering classes as witnessed by "France fears another Le Pen lurch to right" by Charles Bremner in the (UK) Times Online. " Sounding the electoral alarm yesterday Libération, the leftist newspaper, said: 'All the indications give reason to fear a new hangover on Sunday evening.' "
Buddy can you spare $650,000?: The AP is reporting that "terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta tried to get a $650,000 government loan to buy a small airplane, telling he intended to outfit it with a large chemical tank". Hey, I'm surprised he didn't get it.
What an Upper!: Marc Levin at Frontpage Magazine tells the tale of Professor bell hooks (yes, bell hooks) giving a commencement speech at Southwestern University. It's not a pretty story. "Unlike most commencement speeches that are optimistic and unifying, hooks' condemned many members of her audience, urged them to disregard the future because caring about the future is a capitalist construct, bemoaned the so-called patriarchy, slammed the war on terrorism, and equated conservatism with murder." The only good part was that "she was widely and repeatedly booed by a stunned audience of parents and graduates". She was lucky no one threw anything.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

High Pitched Whine: Harold Meyerson goes beyond the audible range in his American Prospect article, "Greens to Liberals: Drop Dead!". It seems the Greens aren't playing by the rules and falling into line behind the predictably liberal candidates of the Democrat party. What really has Harold's knickers in a twist is the audacity of the Minnesota Green Party which nominated an alternative to the nation's worst senator, Paul Wellstone. Memo to Harold: if you live by the fruits and nuts, you'll die by the fruits and nuts.
Where's my specs?: Ananova reports on the world's tiniest web site. This is an idea whose time has not come.
elEEt hAxOr Alert: Michelle Delio's Wired News article, Dead Men Tell No Passwords, tells the sad tale of "the man in charge of archiving and maintaining electronic copies of Norway's most important historical documents" who died and with him, access to part of the archives since no one else had the password. "So the director of the Norwegian cultural center is pleading for hackers to help him crack the center's password-protected database."

Also of interest is a Dead Man's Switch program which can obviate these sorts of problems. Unfortunately, " 'I went on vacation, and forgot all about the switch,' said Kenny LaGuardia, a Web designer from Los Angeles. 'When I returned home, the program had posted, 'So I guess I'm dead' messages to all the newslists I subscribe to, and destroyed all my adult entertainment files.' "

Update on June 7 - Password cracked! The first email they got at the cultural center had the correct password. The hAxoRs Strike Back!

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Buddy can you spare $50,000?: Mark O'Keefe of the Newshouse News Service delivers a detailed article about U.S. Government funded exchange programs. The poster boy is Yousef Jabareen who is getting 50,000 taxpayer dollars a year to pursue a doctorate in human rights law (sic) at Georgetown's law center under an exchange program for Arab Israelis. It seems the taxpayers have paid the freight for over 700,000 exchange students over the years and are only kicking in a quarter of billion this year. Needless to say, the do-gooders can't let that rest and have bills in Congress to raise the ante. Teddy Kennedy introduced "the Cultural Bridges Act (that) would provide an extra $75 million to exchange programs with Islamic countries, and another $20 million for new programs bringing teen-agers from Muslim countries to study in U.S. public high schools". Curiously enough, the "exchanges" all seem to be one way - there is no discussion of any US citizens getting handouts to study overseas. I guess we have run out of needy students in this country and have to find them somewhere else.

And Teddy really ought to avoid bridges and teen-agers.
Class Act: Dan Gross of the Philadelphia Dalily News was apparently bereft of ideas and generated a column on the contents of Queen Elzabeth's purse. In the process he utters "While the Daily News didn't want to judge the old bag by the one she carries..." and also "maybe even paper toilet-seat covers so Her Royal Arse needn't connect with those of the commoners when she's on the loo".

One can't help but wonder if Danny boy is supposed to be the humor columnist, and if so, whether he was actually the best the Daily News could find. One also wonders whether Mama Gross is still alive and how Danny boy would react to a column full of cheap slurs about her.
Useful Dupes: In other wacky news from the Merc, Dana Hull reveals that "More than 140 University of California professors have signed a petition urging the university to divest in American companies that sell arms to Israel, and similar faculty petitions are circulating at Harvard, MIT, Princeton and Tufts. The divestment drive borrows a page from the popular anti-apartheid campaigns of the 1980s, when students and professors persuaded universities to sell millions of dollars worth of holdings in companies that did business with South Africa." L. Ling-chi Wang, a professor of ethnic studies (sic) at the University of California shares with us that "Apartheid is one form of occupation and domination, and what's happening in the West Bank and Gaza is also occupation and domination".

The web location for this idiocy is I wonder if the profs are angling for the Court Jester job in Palestine?
Have you heard the one about...?: Truong Phuoc Khánh reports in the San Jose Mercury News that Tonga is suing its Court Jester. "The Kingdom of Tonga is learning the hard way what happens when you let the court jester invest the nation's savings. The stranger-than-fiction tale, told in a lawsuit filed by the Kingdom of Tonga, contends that a former San Francisco bank employee befriended the king's ministers, who authorized him to invest the federal reserve."

But wait, there's more! "As to why (defendant) Bogdonoff sought, and received, the court jester role, (Tonga Times editor) Tapueluelu said he didn't know. Bogdonoff was born on April Fool's Day, he noted. 'I don't find it funny at all,'' Tapueluelu said."
Louts Alert: Apparently the Buffalo, NY zoo decided to have free admission on Memorial Day. Unfortunately it seems that a horde of vandals took them up on it. The Buffalo News has a variety of articles, editorials, and letters to the editor, but my favorite is from Donn Esmonde, titled "Zoo rowdies give humans a bad name ". Some lowlights:

  • " 'Mommy, why are that man and his kids chasing the calves and trying to ride them?' I don't know, honey. Because they're ignorant? "

  • "The featured attractions were fights, pot-smoking, beer-drinking, cussing, crushed pop cans hurled into bear and lion dens, the assault of a pop machine and unsuspecting lorikeets - multicolored Australian birds who feed from your hand - catapulted from branches. But enough about how the adults acted. "

  • "Zookeeper Larry Radford told one boy to stop jumping on the mesh that covers the duck pond. The kid's mother was standing 10 feet away, screaming obscenities into a cell phone. "

  • "A couple of apparently inebriated men kicked and punched an uncooperative pop machine. 'It was all f-this, f-that,' said Derenda. 'Then there was a big commotion by the polar bear, people laughing and heckling. Somebody had thrown in a baseball cap, and the bear was eating it.' "

  • "At the nearby playground, an adolescent boy jumped on a tube slide, trying to break it. When Bankhead told him to stop, the boy's mother got huffy. 'Who do you think you are,' she said, 'to talk to my son?' "

  • And more...

Clearly the wrong animals were in the cages.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Eco-Weenie Alert: Jude Wanniski suggests that "The Sneaky Greenies (are) at it Again" in the case of the official U.S. report sent to the United Nations claiming mankind (particularly the American variety) is responsible for "Global Warming". That was also my reaction when I saw the Drudge screamer - some housecleaning was clearly needed at the EPA. Jude suggests firing Christie Whitman. I suggest having her fire the policy wonks that came up with this bilge.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute adds more fuel to the fire with a press release observing:
The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest report on global warming to the United Nations, Climate Action Report 2002, violates an agreement between the White House and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, three members of Congress, and other non-profit advocacy groups, struck in settlement of a lawsuit. The report relies in part on the discredited National Assessment on Climate Change.

As a result of the lawsuit filed in October 2000, the Bush Administration ultimately agreed in September 2001 to withdraw the National Assessment and stated that its unlawfully produced conclusions are “not policy positions or official statements of the U.S. government.” EPA has ignored this agreement in issuing its report to the United Nations.

Andrew Sullivan has another take on this report and also finds the heavy hand of Howelll Raines, the tiresome editor of the New York Times, with Drudge and Rush Limbaugh as his dupes.
I'm From Kashmir: Alessandra Rizzo of the AP penned an article notifying us that "Italy's lower house of parliament approves immigration bill". The gist is that the lawmakers approved some additional restrictions on legal immigrants and penalties for illegal immigrants. They were, of course, denounced by the usual collection of whiners. Communist leader Oliviero Diliberto showed his intellectual diversity by observing "It's unworthy of a civil country to equate illegal immigrants with criminals". Comrade, what part of illegal don't you understand? Actually, Oliviero needs to keep up with current events - undocumented immigrants is the term preferred by the fashionable. To top things off, "as lawmakers were voting on the bill, a group of 60 men landed on the Sicilian shores, after a trip on a 12-meter- (40-foot-) boat. The men claimed to be from the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir. They were transferred to a detention center."
Bazaar of the Bizarre: Newsday/AP tells us that "Thousands come to hear hip-hop stars denounce education cuts" at a rally organized by the United Federation of Teachers and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network. Could this have been a form of reverse psychology?
Pond Scum: Terrorist lawyer and gofer Lynne Stewart felt she deserved an award for deceiving the jail guards of her mad bomber client. Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, according to John Lehmann in the NY Post. "The Egyptian sheik laughingly said his 'trained doves' were transporting messages to his disciples." All the details at The Smoking Gun.

I'm sure the blind sheik will be horrified when he finds out that Lynne more closely resembles a pig than a dove.
Hackworth: Colonel David Hackworth comments in WorldNetDaily that in Afghanistan the U.S military is once again fighting with Vietnam style rules of engagement which is hampering the kicking of bad guy butt. I have often wondered if the Vietnam war was the pilot project for Political Correctness.
Watch Out Jesse!: One of the nations's primary sources of air pollution, the Rev. Al Sharpton, is reported by Reuters to be planning a peace mission to India and Pakistan. "I see myself as a disciple in the Gandhi-King tradition of nonviolence" opines the Rev.
Real Refugees: Also in the News and Observer, Ned Glascock reports that "in the next six weeks, 900 Montagnards will leave Cambodia and settle in the Triangle, the Triad, the Charlotte area and a handful of North Carolina towns". This group is coming from Cambodia where they fled after a Vietnamese government crackdown following protests over religious freedom and land rights. Montagnards, our allies in the Vietnam war, have been persecuted by the Communist regime ever since. The Vietnamese government wanted Cambodia to repatriate those who fled but after Vietnamese goons visited the U.N. refugee camp and threatened the inhabitants, the U.N. amazingly looked for another home for the refugees. North Carolina already has a small Montagnard population sponsored by churches and groups of veterans who had fought by their side in Vietnam. I can't help but contrast these real refugees from tyranny with the millions of "economic asylum seekers" who flood our country.
Yee Haw!: In the Raleigh (NC) News and Observer, G. D Gearino gets a chuckle out of the news that "A huge moonshine operation was discovered in Philadelphia two weeks ago after an explosion ripped through an illegal distillery in an industrial area on the city's north side. A state investigator later expressed amazement that moonshine was being manufactured in a Northern metropolis: "I was always under the impression that it came up from the South," he told the Philadelphia Daily News." He proposes "that we send some of Johnston County's finest distillers to Philadelphia as part of a moonshine outreach program. After all, Johnston County is the epicenter of liquor-making in North Carolina. As any state Alcohol Law Enforcement agent will tell you, it's the major-leagues of bootlegging. Young moonshiners everywhere tinker with their boilers and dream of the day when they get called up to Johnston County to play with the big boys. So let's export some of that talent. Let's put it to good use in those areas of the world that have the desire -- but not necessarily the intellectual firepower -- to develop their own moonshine industry.".

For those of you unfamiliar with Southern geography, Johnston County is right next door to Raleigh, the state capital, and consists of tobacco and cotton farms turning into shopping malls. Why it should be a hotbed of moonshining is unclear, but it belies the stereotype of Dogpatch denizens hiding their stills in a mountain holler. The predictable punchline is: "Remember, countless people from the North have moved to Dixie over the years, and virtually all arrived here with suggestions on how things could be improved. They've been uncommonly generous with their advice, those Northern people. I can't think of a single aspect of life that they've overlooked as they sought to help us. Let's return that favor." Amen, brother.
Net News Burns Fish Wrap!: The AP is reporting that a federal appeals court in Richmond, VA heard arguments Monday on whether newspapers that post stories on the Internet can be sued for libel in states outside their local area. It seems that a Virginia prison warden took exception to "two Connecticut newspapers he says falsely depicted him as racist in articles about alleged mistreatment of Connecticut inmates who were sent to Virginia to relieve prison crowding" and sued them. But since they posted their articles on their web sites, he is suing in Virginia. They complain that it is a undue burden to be sued outside their (physical paper) circulation area. Hey it could be worse. How about an International Court of Libel?

Monday, June 03, 2002

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: Congressman Tom Tancredo's list of Unbelievable But True Immigration Stories has been getting a lot of notice as well it should. I always tend to suspect incompetence instead of conspiracy, but this has blind ignorance and incredible obduracy tossed in too.

Bubba Alert: The Irish Independent is reporting that Bill Clinton and a selection of "world leaders" past and present (mostly past) are attending a private summit in Dublin this week sponsored by the American Academy of Achievement. If you can figure out exactly what the Academy is from their web site, you are a better man than I. It seems there are countless opportunities for ex-politicians to pick up some cash. Politicians too for that matter, as Bubba and his spouse can attest. Does anyone but me remember that Hillary was on the Board of Directors of that little Arkansas corporation, Wal*Mart, while Bubba was Governor?

Speaking of which, Hillary's continuing campaign to enchant upstate New Yorkers took a bizarre turn recently when she told a questioner that she actually once had gone hunting. No mention of whether they sang "Look for the Union Label" in the duck blind. Ooops, sorry, that was the wooden guy with the makeup. Well, maybe she was wearing a Yankee cap in the duck blind.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Delusional Grandeur: Over at MSNBC, Eleanor Clift has lost the few marbles remaining in her possession and is postulating that Hillary is "positioning herself as a showy centrist for Campaign 2008". And all along I thought she was a shy centrist!

Meanwhile, Jill Nelson tees up knuckle dragging Klansman, Bobby Frank Cherry, as a lead-in to her punchline: " And racism still is not dead. That can only happen when Americans recognize the entrenched system of white privilege that disenfranchises not only black Americans, but all people of color, not only here, but around the world, and work to dismantle it." Jill does not share her plan with us, but I am sure it involves generous transfer payments, copious quantities of sack cloth and ashes, and double secret probation for all white males.
Global Whining: Steven Den Beste calls global warming the biggest snail darter in history. The point is that the real agenda is opposition to growth of any sort and snail darters and global warming are just camouflage. I'm shocked! Truly shocked!
Howdy Dowdy (and Mary McGrory too): Orrin Judd analyzes Maureen Dowd and Mary McGrory's published views on racial profiling. Like weathervanes in a wind storm, they have a hard time keeping their bearings.
I Feel Safer: The AP is reporting that an ex-Afghan president was removed from a jet at the Orlando, Florida airport. Part of the problem apparently were two airport screeners "neither of whom spoke English as a first language". Hey, at least they weren't bothered by detaining a man wearing traditional Afghan clothing and a woman wearing a veil!
Celebrity Endorsement News: The Reuters article Legendary Rockers Kiss Get Into Safe Sex Biz informs us (among other things) that:

Available online and coming soon to record stores and specialty gift shops near you are Kiss Kondoms, a line of contraceptives with members of the outrageous, face-painted rock band Kiss on the packaging. ...

Billed as "Rock 'N' Rubbers," the first in the series are bright red latex condoms labeled "Tongue Lubricated." The box of three, which sells for $4.95, and the foil wrappers protecting the condoms are adorned with a head shot of Simmons in full makeup -- white face with black bat wings around the eyes -- with his famous tongue fully extended. ...

"Sex is always embarrassing for people, so when a guy whips out a Kiss condom and there's Gene Simmons's tongue hanging out it lightens up the situation," he told Reuters.

Way more than I wanted to know.
Medical examiner attacked, tied to bomb outside office: Lots of excitement in Memphis as "An unknown assailant attacked the Shelby County medical examiner late Saturday, wrapping him with barbed wire and strapping a bomb to his chest before leaving him in a stairwell outside his downtown Memphis office." Sounds like a rejected plot for Quincy, M.E.!
Seattle Coffee Party: Seattle "child care advocates" are proposing a tax on expresso drinks to subsidize preschools and child care in Seattle. Of course, the USA has a long history of product specific taxes (remember the Boston tea party?), but I forsee a great future for this kind of taxation. Here's my guide for the benefit of "advocates" and "activists" in all big cities.

First, pick your cause. Something "for the children" or small furry creatures or "the environment" would be perfect to provide the unassailable virtue required.

Second, pick your product. The best is something that the average consumer feels a twinge of guilt about using. An alternate choice is a good or service that can be characterized as the province of the "rich". Be creative like the "advocates" of Seattle. Liquor, tobacco, hotel rooms, and restaurant meals are pretty much tapped out in most areas of the country. Try expresso drinks, donuts, high fat (read fast food) meals, SUV's, jewelry, or whatever your fertile imaginations can provide.

Third, petition the local taxing authority with loud and frequent publicity. Don't worry, you have virtue on your side and vice will surely be taxed (if not defeated).