Saturday, January 03, 2004

Howie's not only a liar, but an inept liar

Dean Now Willing to Discuss His Faith: Campaign Changed Him, Candidate Says
Howard Dean, after practicing a quiet Christianity throughout his political career, said he is talking more about his faith because the presidential race has awakened him to the importance of religious expression, especially to southerners.
Is "quiet" like "nonexistent"?
"I am not used to wearing religion on my sleeve and being open about it," the former Vermont governor told reporters aboard his campaign plane late Friday night. "I am gradually getting more comfortable to talk about religion in ways I did not talk about it before."

Dean said frequent trips to South Carolina, where evangelical Christianity flourishes often in public ways, are prompting him to more candidly discuss his faith. "It does not make me more religious or less religious than before. It just means I am more comfortable talking about it in different ways," he said.
Translation: he'd like to shag a few votes in the South.

But the best part:
When asked Friday night about his favorite book of the New Testament, he cited Job, about a righteous man whose faith was tested mightily by God through great suffering. After thinking about the scripture, Dean pointed out an hour later that Job is from the Old Testament.
That's OK, Howie! The reporters didn't know either. But where'd you find a Bible to look it up on such short notice?

Also noteworthy:
He rarely attends church services, unless it is for a political event.
Since that's illegal, I wonder how that works?

UPDATE: The NY Times has some Deano "clarifications" in Dean Narrowing His Separation of Church and Stump:
A cover story in The New Republic last month, headlined "Howard Dean's religion problem," called him "one of the most secular candidates to run for president in modern history," and suggested this would "mark him as culturally alien to much of the country." A rash of columns followed with similar warnings, and voters have begun to inquire about the issue at town hall meetings.

"I'm pretty religious," he responded the other day in Waterloo, Iowa.
There's also a more elaborate explanation of the Job fiasco and afterwards:
Asked again about his favorite part of the New Testament, Dr. Dean said, "Anything in the Gospels."
I believe ya, Howie!
Dr. Dean grew up spending Sundays in an Episcopal church, and attended religious boarding school, but became a Congregationalist after the Episcopal church he belonged to in Burlington, Vt., refused to yield land for a bike path around Lake Champlain that he championed. His wife is Jewish and their children observe both traditions, though the family stopped attending services years ago after scolding sermons about once-a-year attendees.
Typical! I bet they get grumpy when you take change for the parking meter out of the plate they pass around too!
The Deano Demographic

The Weekly Standard has a piece on the Howard Dean house parties (but you can only see a little of it if you are not a subscriber) - Dr. Dean's House Call:
ONE DAY last month, Anne Gallagher, a septuagenarian retiree, drove her 1996 Mercury to the local Giant Foods supermarket. She parked her car just as Paul Mazzuca, a 46-year-old student, was parking his. What happened next, Gallagher said later, was kismet.
46 year old student?
Paul invited Anne to an upcoming party he was throwing to raise money for the former Vermont governor. "I just figured another good Democrat would like some pizza," he said.
But for Paul, the house party was more than a fundraising tool. His mother had died recently, he explained, and she had thrown some great parties in her time. "I wanted to keep the party going," he said. And so he and Pamela Alesky, his political-scientist "sweetheart" who is between jobs, invited about a dozen of their friends over for homemade deep-dish pizza, spicy buffalo wings, and beer.
See, it wasn't risque! The 46 year old student has a political "scientist" sweetie that's taking time off from Mickey D's. And he's holding the hoedown to commemorate Mom.

Anyhow, to make a long story short, they partied hearty, watched a Deano biography DVD on the telly, and then all listened to a phone call from The Leader addressing the stalwarts. There are lots of quotes that make you wonder if they were serving Kool-Aid too. But here's the best part (from the DVD):
As airy dance music plays in the background, Dean runs through the thanks-be-to-the-Internet boilerplate ("We are built from the mouse pads up . . ." he begins), but then he launches into his call-and-response chant with the audience, in which the refrain is "You have the power!"

"You have the power to take this country back from the corporations and special interests!" barks Dean. "You have the power to have a foreign policy consistent with American principles!" and so on. Dean jabs his fists. His voice grows hoarse. The audience goes wild. It's probably the reason why, you begin to understand, Dean has connected so viscerally with so many people.

There were only snippets of the stump speech, however, and one got the impression that the campaign doesn't want too much coverage of the "You have the power" chant, at least until Dean delivers it on the last night of the Democratic convention.
I can't wait:

Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Deano!

Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Deano!
Howie Dean the "Hockey Dad"

As the Race Turns Hot, What About Dean's Collar?
"Howard gets angry," said one longtime friend, Thomas R. Hudspeth, a professor at the University of Vermont. "He doesn't suffer people being unfair or duplicitous. In the heat of sports events with his kids, for instance, I can remember him yelling, red-faced, his neck muscles bulging," if, as a spectator, he saw dishonesty among his children's opponents or poor calls by referees.
My, but they're busy little pests

War on Fat Gets Serious
So, you're one of the 190 million Americans who are overweight.

You're trying to shed the extra pounds, but your resolve is under daily assault. The all-you-can-eat buffets. The convenience of drive-through. Supersizing. The comfort of fat and sugar. The lure of the couch.

All right, then. Meet your new weight-loss team: There's Deborah Ortiz, state senator; John D. Graham, federal regulator; Richard Banzhaf, attorney; Margo Wootan, nutritionist and government activist. There are more, too, but you probably don't know them. But they are on your case, filing briefs, drafting legislation, writing memos and holding news conferences.
That sounds real helpful!
Determined to help you and your loved ones lose that weight and keep it off.
Thanks, pals!
They are the new warriors in a national fight against fat, and they have decided that it takes a village to trim a waistline. If the increase in obesity is to be reversed, they believe, Americans must have better exercise venues, more nutritional information and improved access to healthy food that is as inexpensive and convenient as the stuff that helped to make us fat. Overweight consumers should be offered incentives to help lose the extra poundage. And government should help in the fight.
Somehow I knew that was going to be the punchline.
In the brave new world that public health activists hope to create, you would pay a special tax on Ho Hos, Big Macs and other foods high in fats or sugar. An obese person would pay more for health insurance than someone of appropriate weight and would have no legal recourse if passed over for a job because of their weight.
They can't be serious! That would go against all the diversity cant they have been spouting for years.
And your favorite junk food would return to the test kitchen to have its fat removed because its manufacturer would be worried about being sued.

And everywhere you would turn for a bite, whether at restaurants or at home, you would see fat and calorie counts and consumer warnings. Imagine, in small type, something like, "The surgeon general has warned that excessive consumption of foods high in fat and calories will lead to obesity, which is associated with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain kinds of cancers."
How about a warning sticker for their foreheads that says "Excessive wanking can make you go insane."

Much more than you really want to know by following the link.
Here's a great idea!

Japan mulls reducing contribution to UN in 2006
Japan is considering reducing its contribution to the UN budget by 2006, a news report says.

The foreign ministry and finance ministry have started discussions over the planned cut because Tokyo believes Japan has not been given its due in the global community despite its huge UN contribution, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.
Sounds familiar! Let's join 'em. As long as "reduce" means "eliminate" and the year is 2004.
The Wisdom of Howard Dean - part 3

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

"Dealing with race is about educating white folks."

Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe reporting Deano's campaign swing through South Carolina.

No word on 'zactly what "education" Deano has in mind, but ScrappleFace has a scoop - Dean Proposes United Blanco College Fund:

"The United Blanco College Fund demonstrates my commitment to educating the people whose ignorance results in most racial problems," said Mr. Dean. "We shouldn't disparage these people, who simply suffer from a lack of education. It's clear that 12 years under the tutelage of the National Education Association is insufficient to fully educate white folks. Whether because of genetic factors or poor upbringing, these white folks need our help. After all, a white mind is a terrible thing to waste too."
Except if it's Howie's.

Friday, January 02, 2004

How exactly is Howie our pal?

Great assessment of Howard Dean's big "tax plan" by Stephen Moore at the WSJ - Take a Hike: Howard Dean wants to raise your taxes, whether you're dead or alive.
The Democratic Party appears to be on an irreversible course to nominate Howard Dean as its candidate for the presidency. Yet while voters in Iowa and New Hampshire may have heard a thing or two about Mr. Dean's economic policies, most Americans have not. Indeed, most voters are unaware that the former governor of Vermont has a plan to raise income taxes on every single American who pays them.

Recently, an organization I run, the Club for Growth, began airing TV ads in Iowa and New Hampshire telling voters about the specifics of Mr. Dean's tax proposals. The Dean plan, our ad notes, would raise taxes by $2,472 a year on a typical middle-income family of four. Mr. Dean would also raise the death tax rate, the capital gains tax rate, the dividend tax rate and the payroll tax, and he would bring back the hated marriage tax penalty that President Bush abolished this year. There is hardly a tax levied at the federal level that Howard Dean would not raise.
It's the "No Tax Left Behind" plan! All the details by following the link.
I always wondered about that

Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute explains Why the Trash You Sort Isn't Getting Recycled. In a nutshell, it's uneconomic and unnecessary.

But it makes some people feel so good!
Dang! There go my royalties!

Hopewell Junction (ed. NY) family gets rights to Islam symbol
The Islamic symbol of the crescent and star has now been patented.

Hopewell Junction attorney Aziz Ahsan and his family took on the task of seeking a patent for the symbol following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Patenting the symbol was Ahsan's attempt to create a positive Muslim identity.
The Ahsans submitted the crescent and star design to the U.S. State Patent and Trademark office and after a year of examination, the patent was issued on Dec. 16.
Ahsan sought a patent so he and his family would have control over how the symbol is used commercially. And while the Ahsans will receive royalties, he said he hasn't figured out how the proceeds will be received and distributed.

This new symbol has both a utility patent, which is in effect for 20 years, and a design patent that's good for 14 years.
Hopewell Junction resident Ummar Ahmad disagreed with the need to patent the symbol.

''It is used widely ( by Muslims) from stationery to flags,'' Ahmad said, ''I don't think it has any value because it has been used for years.''
Someone with more knowledge of patents than I will have to 'splain this one.
Boris and Natasha Update

There's an interesting development in the continuing saga of Joe "Sweet Mint Tea" Wilson and "Secret Spouse" Victoria Plame. I've been ranting about whose bright idea it was to hire Wilson to take a junket to Niger. Now it turns out it may have been La Plame herself who got her hubby the gig. First the WaPo:
Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.

CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting.

"It has been circulated around," one official said. CIA and State Department officials have refused to discuss the document.

On Oct. 28, Talon News, a news company tied to a group called GOP USA, posted on the Internet an interview with Wilson in which the Talon News questioner asks: "An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?"
Joe's answer was that he didn't know, but that his wife knew he was a big expert on Niger and uranium. That's what they all say when they hire their relatives, Joe. And you did such a swell job that the British were laughing at its ineptness. How was the sweet mint tea?

And here's a follow-up from Talon News:
Jeff Gannon, the White House correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for Talon News declined to reveal whether he had seen the memo or had its contents described to him.

While he would not disclose his source, Gannon said, "I will tell you that the information did not come from inside the administration."

"For something that is supposed to be classified, it seems that this document is easily accessible," Gannon added. "Washington is leaking like a cheap umbrella. Just look at what's happening over on Capitol Hill."
The Talon News reporter added, "Some people out there see a clandestine war going on between the White House and the CIA. It is generally perceived that a substantial amount of blame for intelligence failures that otherwise might have prevented the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has been laid at the agency's doorstep by the administration. They suggest the agency is fighting back with an allegation of a wrongdoing in the Plame matter."
It's nice that the CIA can find a spot for crack spies like Boris Wilson and Natasha La Plame. And I do mean "crack".

Time to clean house.
What's wrong with this picture?

Saddam's in-laws fight for justice from their mansions
From the marble mansions of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein's in-laws are leading the world's least likely human rights organisation, as families of the coalition's 55 most wanted men band together to appeal for fair treatment for them.

Many of the coalition's top targets were either captured or negotiated their surrender in April and May, immediately after the war. Since then they have not been allowed to see their families or their lawyers and no charges have been brought.

For families whose very word once meant life and death for ordinary Iraqis, this new impotence has come as an outrage.
Where's my violin?
For many Iraqis, however, any treatment short of a slow painful death is too good for the stalwarts of the former regime.

"These relatives of Saddam are monsters," said Assad Majid, from central Baghdad. "They stole businesses and raped girls. We were always afraid they would take my younger sister. There was no justice then but jungle law.

"If they accused you, maybe you could bribe them. If not, there were daily beatings and executions."

The point is not lost on Saef Fadil Mahmoud, the son of Fadil Mahmud Gharib, a Ba'ath Party regional command chairman and No 47 on the coalition's most-wanted list.

"At least with the Americans I know I will see my father again, that he will not simply disappear," he said, pointing to a photograph of him on the wall of his comfortable Baghdad sitting room.
Too bad. In a rational world they be gracing a telephone pole at the end of a rope.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

I'm so upset!

War tied to defeat of global lottery
Maryland won't be getting $25 million in new revenue from a high-jackpot lottery after plans for the proposed international game collapsed amid a protest of U.S. military action in Iraq.
Maryland was one of 20 states working toward the development of a lotto-style game that would have allowed 350 million residents scattered throughout the United States, Canada, Central America, Europe and Australia to compete for prizes that could have reached a total of $1 billion in a single drawing.

But negotiations among the 40 lottery partners who had signed a letter of intent fizzled after the United States invaded Iraq in March, Edward J. Stanek, chairman of the International Lottery Alliance and head of the Iowa lottery, said yesterday.

"We were within a month of signing a contract with a deadline that was mutually set. A game had been designed," Stanek said. "Within days [of the Iraqi invasion], four of the countries in Europe pulled back from the project, and said they were not in a position to move forward with it, and were indefinitely postponing their participation."

Stanek said he was told privately that the U.S. role in Iraq was the cause. "It would be highly coincidental if there was anything else involved," he said, declining to name the four countries because their participation in the project had not been made public previously.
The state is looking at alternatives to pick up the slack, said Maryland Lottery Director Buddy Roogow. And talks continue for a new domestic multistate game with jackpots that would exceed those of the existing Powerball or Mega Millions.

"From my point of view, good riddance," Roogow said. "We are not operating a United Nations with our lottery games."
I can't get too enthusiastic about lotteries in the first place, but Buddy has this one right.

Brazil to fingerprint US citizens
A Brazilian judge has announced that US citizens will be fingerprinted and photographed on entering the country.
From 5 January, travellers from all countries which need a visa to enter the US will undergo the same checks.
Actually, I believe the fingerprints of visitors to the US will be scanned electronically - there is no ink or printing involved. But, whatever, if Brazil felt they needed better border security, why not?

But that's not the reason:
Judge Julier Sebastiao da Silva was reacting to US plans to do the same to Brazilians entering the United States.

He made the order after a Brazilian government office filed a complaint in a federal court over the new US immigration measures.
"I consider the act absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," Federal Judge Julier Sebastiao da Silva said in the court order.
The judge apparently doesn't get out much.
That's comforting

Mexican Diplomat Charged With Helping Smuggle Arabs Into U.S.
The real life horror story that began eighteen months ago when an Arab illegal alien named Youseff Balaghi showed up at a San Diego hospital, dying from what the Border Patrol initially—and erroneously—feared was radiation sickness, has now reached high into Mexico's foreign service.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Imelda Ortiz Abdala was Mexico's consul in Lebanon. On Nov. 12, 2003, Mexican authorities arrested her, according to the Associated Press, "on charges of helping a smuggling ring move Arab migrants into the United States from Mexico." The AP said Mexico had also arrested "alleged ring leader Salim Boughader Mucharafille." Boughader earlier pleaded guilty in the U.S. to the smuggling incident that resulted in Balaghi's death.

Unfortunately, this story is not over.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Skerlos prosecuted Boughader. This week, citing Ortiz's arrest, I asked him if there were other rings still bringing Middle Easterners in from Mexico.

"Yes," he said.
The details aren't crystal clear, but ole Imelda was stealing Mexican passports. One can't help but wonder why the Arab illegals didn't just sneak across the Mexican border like everybody else.
Did you remember not to check off the box?

FEC to Divide $15.4M Among 6 Candidates
The Federal Election Commission certified the first checks on Wednesday for those participating in the presidential public financing system in 2004.
All the details by following the link. The amount is down by over 50% from past years, presumably because individual contributions to the candidates are down, but Lyndon LaRouche is getting nearly a million bucks. However, here's a goodie:
The FEC said Wednesday that it may not have enough money in the fund come February when the second batch of payments is due to candidates. As a result candidates will receive reduced payments until the fund is replenished by contributions from 2003 tax returns.
If the first checks are so much lower than last year and they are out of money, it must mean that fewer people are deciding to kick in money to this slush fund. How long before we hear about a "funding crisis"?

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Best of the Best of 2003

I had really planned to come up with a "Best of 2003" post. But by unstinting prevarication, I can now link to everybody else's and quote the best parts. Such a deal!

Anyhow, Tim Blair gets first place with his detailed recap of the best (and worst) - Best of Quotes 2003. Thanks, Tim, for reminding us of:
"We believe that in the wake of September 11, the only sane foreign policy for the US and all its allies to pursue is to examine just what caused that level of extreme hate, and act in a manner which will reduce it." -- SMH columnist Peter FitzSimons plans his Islamic conversion
"He can roll up his sleeves all he wants at public events, but as long as we see that heart tattoo with Neville Chamberlain's name on his right forearm, he's never going anywhere." -- Dennis Miller on Howard Dean
"Might I offer a couple of small suggestions to those British citizens who would prefer not to stand trial in military tribunals where the punishment for some crimes can be execution? Don’t join terrorist organisations that fly planes at skyscrapers, and don’t dedicate your life to mass murder." -- Stephen Pollard
"I want to thank the Australian people who supported our cause when they demonstrated against the policies of George Bush." -- Bali bomb builder Sawad
"after reading your site for an hour even i could see you were a troubled young help tim buy a travel book or even take some heroin and watch a documentry on dolphins then you can come join us.your missing out tim,when your lying on your deathbed gasping for your final breath your gonnae think of all the things you never done and your gonna cry,your gonna cry like a baby tim,and your final words will be ‘can i start again please daddy’ then its lights out tim." -- reader Anne M.
Then there's the Media Research Center's The Best of Notable Quotables 2003 where the Quote of the Year was:
“If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age.” – Charles Pierce in a January 5 Boston Globe Magazine article. Kopechne drowned while trapped in Kennedy’s submerged car off Chappaquiddick Island in July 1969, an accident Kennedy did not report for several hours.
And Mark Steyn's STEYN'S YEAR
I’m writing this a few hours before deadline. So by the time you read this Saddam may have won.

That would seem to be the upshot of the BBC coverage we get over here, not to mention dear old Reuters. As Douglas Hamilton reported, "U.S. military prowess suffered another setback in Iraq on Monday and another omen that bullets rather than liberators' garlands may await the invasion force when it finally reaches Baghdad."

“Omen”? Well, speaking as someone not privy to the entrails of the Reuters chicken, let me go out on a limb here: the Anglo-Aussie-American forces will win.
The Spectator, March 29th
One woman bore a picture of some female genitalia – possibly hers, the provenance was obscure – over the caption “This Bush Is For Peace”. Another waxed eloquent: “Trim Bush.” Out in Marin County somewhere, other bushes for peace disrobed, lay down on a hillside, and formed the words “No War”. I wonder if there are any conflicted nudists, with a bush for Iraq and a rack for Bush.
The Spectator, January 25th
If we have to have an incoherent, self-loathing “peace” movement, then women showing off their hooters in support of a culture that would stone them to death for showing off their ankles is about as good as it’s gonna get.
The Daily Telegraph, March 8th
With these being so great, I didn't even mine my old posts for anything tasty. But I always liked this one:
Somethings's changed but I can't figure out what!

Baghdad beforeBaghdad after
Follow the links for much more.

UPDATE: Don't miss John Hawkins The 10 Worst Quotes From The Democratic Underground For 2003. But don't forget your tinfoil beanie and lots of disinfectant.
Now cough!

In the Washington Post, Marjorie Williams reveals what she doesn't like about Howard Dean - The Doctor Factor:
At long last, the revelation I've been waiting for: the reason why -- beyond the prospect of epic, McGovernesque defeat -- I feel so uneasy about Howard Dean.

The man is a doctor. This is the least-examined chapter of his career. But suddenly it all makes sense: Where else but in medicine do you find men and women who never admit a mistake? Who talk more than they listen, and feel entitled to withhold crucial information? Whose lack of tact in matters of life and death might disqualify them for any other field?

As it happens, I've spent almost two decades observing politicians, whom on balance I quite like, and more recent years observing doctors, who . . . . Well, let's just say that mine is a grudge tenderly nurtured over two and a half years of illness, encompassing roughly 32 doctors in six hospitals, plus scores of the medical students, fellows, interns and residents in whom we can see the doctor in larval form.

A doctor who has told you one thing at Appointment A might propose an entirely different course of action at Meeting B. Fair enough -- except for the pretense that nothing has changed. It is the very rare doctor who will say, "I've changed my mind," or, "Sorry, I was wrong when I said X at our last meeting." Usually, what he said last time has simply become . . . inoperative.

Now let's turn the clock back to September, and watch Dean answer George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" about his 180-degree turn, over the years, on the North American Free Trade Agreement:

GS: "On NAFTA, you used to be a very strong supporter of NAFTA."

HD: "George, you're doing it again. I supported NAFTA and wrote a letter to President Clinton in 1992 supporting NAFTA. That's different than 'you used to be a very strong supporter of NAFTA.' "

GS: "You were a strong supporter of NAFTA."

HD: "I supported NAFTA. Where do you get this 'I'm a strong supporter of NAFTA'? I didn't do anything about it. I didn't vote on it. I didn't march down the street demanding NAFTA. I simply wrote a letter supporting NAFTA."

Dean was not in the least abashed that he had described himself on the same show, eight years earlier, as "a very strong supporter of NAFTA."
While I've had some physicians that don't fit Marjorie's profile, I recognize the type.
But I have enough brusque, irritable doctors in my life without sending one to the White House. My most memorable brushes have been with an eminent surgeon whose method is to stride into the examining room two hours late, pat your hand, pronounce your certain death if he can't perform an operation on you, and then snap at your husband to stop taking notes, he can't possibly follow the complexity of the doctor's thinking. Dr. X swats away questions like flies. He spends five precious minutes swearing at the wall-mounted phone, which decades of surgical experience have not equipped him to operate, and then finally pronounces that he can't perform the surgery. "Unless you want me to. But there's a 50-50 chance I would kill you."

Why is it, I ask my husband on the way home, that I'm the one who's sick, but they're the ones who are allowed to have the big, operatic personalities?

I have the same concern about Dean.
So do we all, Margie. More by following the link.
Not these asshats again!

Yep, it's those crack "intelligence agents", Joe "Sweet Mint Tea" Wilson and "Secret Spouse" Victoria Plame. You know, the ones with their photo in the January 2004 Vanity Fair:
The photograph, by Jonas Karlsson, was taken Nov. 8 and "styled by" Ann Caruso. Hair, makeup, and grooming by Terri Grauel for T.H.E. Artist Agency.
Anyhow, the usual suspects are still whining about the supposed "outing" of La Plame as a CIA employee and the Justice department investigation - Democrats Divided Over CIA Leak Probe. What I want to know is when we'll get an investigation into why these two goofballs were on the CIA payroll in the first place? I figure any outing of these two is covered by the whistleblower laws.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The Asshollah Ayatollahs

The Guardian surprises with David Aaronovitch's article - Why did so many have to die in Bam?
The Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday managed to get to Bam, three days after the earthquake which may have killed 30,000 of his fellow Iranians. The president, Mohammad Khatami, followed soon afterwards. Khamenei had words of dubious comfort for survivors when he told them that "we will rebuild Bam stronger than before". Given the collapse of 80% of the buildings, from the old fortress to the new hospitals, the Iranian government could hardly make the new Bam as weak as the old one.

Some will see this as simply a natural disaster of the kind to which Iran, according to Khatami, is "prone". Four days earlier, however, there had been another earthquake of about the same intensity, this time in California. In which about 0.000001% of the buildings suffered serious structural damage and two people were killed when an old clocktower collapsed. So why the polar disparity between Bam and Paso Robles?
Hmm, I can think of a reason.
The same question was being asked back in the queue outside the clinic. Fariba Hemati told the Guardian what she thought of official efforts, "Our government is only preoccupied with slogans: 'Death to America', 'Death to Israel', 'Death to this and that'. We have had three major earthquakes in the past three decades. Thousands of people have died but nothing has been done. Why?"
The answer to Hemati is that, after a quarter of a century, Iran is still being ruled by a useless, incompetent semi-theocracy, which is fatalistic, complacent, unresponsive and often brutal. And such a system does not deliver to its citizens one fraction of what the Great Satan, for all its manifest faults, manages to guarantee to ordinary Americans.
Yep, that's the reason.

Best line:
What, I wonder, has Arundhati Roy to say now about the superiority of traditional building methods over globalised ones? Some Iranians might think that it's a shame there wasn't a McDonald's in Bam. It would have been the safest place in town.
In case, you don't know ole Arundhati, she's an Indian ecoweenie and "anti-globalist." She likes mud huts.

Ruh Oh!

There's a hoot in the Guardian - Castro as Hitler on Cuban front page sparks hunt for mystery satirist
The Cuban authorities have launched an inquiry into how the official newspaper of the Communist party ran a front page photograph of Fidel Castro which appeared to have been doctored to make him look like Adolf Hitler.

When the edition of Granma hit the streets this month party officials began to retrieve as many copies as they could, an operation which appears to have deterred foreign journalists based on the island from reporting the story.

The picture appeared above a story which reported President Fidel Castro's meeting with North American students. Close examination of the photograph shows that the image of the Cuban leader has been subtly altered to make him look like the Nazi leader.

Underneath banners proclaiming Cuba's opposition to war and terrorism, President Castro is seen in full military uniform, but the world's most famous beard has been replaced by history's most striking moustache, while his grey hair now has the faint hint of a black comb-over.

Although details of what happened remain unclear, what is known is that someone or some group at the newspaper appears to have risked all in the name of political satire.
I hope they took it on the lam - the Fidelista thugs aren't going to be real forgiving. Follow the link for the photo, but frankly it's rather hard to see.
Blofeld update!

Bush takes on Soros: Fund-raising e-mail urges support to counter billionaire's campaign
The campaign to re-elect President George W. Bush has taken aim at his 10th rival in the race – non-candidate George Soros.

Staffers fired off an e-mail to Republican supporters in an effort to counter the billionaire-financier's campaign to oust the incumbent, reports the Independent.
Let's see. A billionaire currency speculator who thinks 9-11 was no big deal and says he wants to be known as the man who brought down the government of President Bush. That ought to energize the troops. On the other hand, FDR and Truman must be spnning in their graves over what the Democrat party has become.

The article also has a nice summary of Blofeld's activities:
WorldNetDaily reported the Hungarian-born philanthropist seeks to raise up to $75 million and has pledged more than $15 million of his own money to prevent Bush from staying in the White House.

He committed an unprecedented $10 million to "Americans Coming Together," or ACT, which plans to mobilize voters in 17 states regarded as battlegrounds in the 2004 election.

WorldNetDaily reported Soros also pledged up to $5 million to mobilize anti-Bush activists and voters online. He and other wealthy donors are financing the Internet political-mobilization project, founded by a California millionaire in 1998 to defend President Clinton from impeachment.

As part of its "down with Bush" campaign, the group recently launched a competition to find the best 30-second television spot that highlights perceived Bush failures. The winning spot is targeted to air during the week of Bush's State of the Union address. The Independent reports the "Bush in 30 Seconds" competition is partly run by Soros's son, Jonathan Soros.
Nice to see that he's bringing the kid into the family business. Hmm, maybe they'll run some James Bond films that week too.
Soros distributes $400 million annually through his Open Society Institute.
The Open Society Institute is the SPECTRE front operation with tentacles around the world. Hmm, maybe I can get a franchise!

Everyone's picking on Howie!

Brendan Minter at the WSJ - Backsliding Dean: Does he have a firm stand on anything?
All candidates develop a reputation with the media. In 2000 the story line on Al Gore was his wildly exaggerated claims. Mr. Gore may not have said precisely that he "invented the Internet," but his propensity to tell "whoppers" got him tagged with the line nonetheless. Unfortunately for Mr. Dean, that's the kind of story line that's now emerging about him.

After building a campaign on the anger of the Democratic electorate, the former Vermont governor can now be called "Backsliding Dean." He leaps forward with a bold statement aimed at pleasing his core supporters, but ultimately is forced to slide back because of the ludicrousness of his position.
Lie down with wing nuts, come up with fleas.

But there's more - Infighting Between Dean, Rivals Gets Ugly:
Infighting between Howard Dean and some of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination has gotten so nasty of late that Dean called on party chairman Terry McAuliffe to step in and tone things down. In the process, Dean managed to insult McAuliffe.

Republican strategists, meanwhile, are watching it all with barely contained glee.

"They are beginning to really gouge this guy," Republican pollster Bill McInturff said about Dean, chuckling. "Look at Howard Dean and, as a Republican, think about the advertising we're going to run."

McInturff said Republicans could use John Kerry's quotes about Dean wanting to tax the middle class, or the "wonderful attack" from Wesley Clark about Dean's draft status or the "terrific comments" from Joe Lieberman about Dean's stance on Saddam Hussein's capture.
Lieberman said he was surprised by Dean's sensitivity, noting that the former Vermont governor fired the first volleys with a negative ad about his rivals, called members of Congress "cockroaches" and party leaders "prostitutes," and referred to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council as "the Republican wing of the Democratic Party."

Dean also warned Sunday that hundreds of thousands of his supporters would be unlikely to back anyone else in November if he is not the Democratic nominee.

Kerry called the comment "divisive and threatening" and said it fit with Dean's pattern.

"He was the first candidate to attack in this campaign and the first to run negative ads and he has been attacking Democrats and their accomplishments during the Clinton years from day one of this race," Kerry said.

Gephardt accused Dean of now wanting to change the rules of the game "as he makes a series of embarrassing gaffes that underscore the fact that he is not well-equipped to challenge George Bush."
Boys, boys! Can't you behave?

Monday, December 29, 2003

Steel Cage Match Alert!

The previous post was about Howard Dean whining that the other candidates were kicking sand in his face. Now they respond - Rivals hit Dean for criticism of Democratic Party boss
"That struck me as outrageous coming from Howard Dean, who launched the first negative ads of the campaign who has repeatedly and divisively attacked the Democratic Party, other Democratic candidates and the Democratic leadership," Sen. Joseph Lieberman told reporters Monday.

The Connecticut senator said Dean has responded to criticism with personal insults and invective.

"What does he do now that he's being substantively challenged? He goes complaining to the party chairman that we're being mean to him," Lieberman said.
Good one, Joe!
"Howard Dean has spent the last year criticizing me and other candidates at every opportunity," said Gephardt, who is making his second bid for the White House. "Now, as he makes a series of embarrassing gaffes that underscore the fact he is not well-equipped to challenge George Bush, he suddenly wants to change the rules of the game."

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts issued a statement saying Dean's comments lead him to wonder "if he's worried about our party's chances for victory or his own personal political future."

"It's time Howard Dean realized this campaign isn't about him, it's about our country," Kerry, of Massachusetts, said Monday.
Kerry had criticized Dean sharply on Saturday, raising questions about what he called Dean's misstatements on a variety of subjects.

"We need more than simple answers and the slip of the tongue," Kerry said in a speech in New Hampshire. "Our world is complicated, and the challenges we face demand a president who knows what he's saying and knows where America needs to go. It raises serious doubts about both his realism and resolve."
But the line of the day was:
Craig Smith, Lieberman's campaign manager, said Dean's criticism "is like the mad cow calling the herd rabid."
Darn! And all along I just thought he looked like Dilbert's boss!

Mad Howard Dean or the Pointy Haired Boss?
Oooo! Ow! Oooooo!

Howie says, "That smarts!" - Dean Wants Party Leader to Slow Rivals' Attacks
Complaining about the torrent of attacks raining down on him from his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Howard Dean on Sunday criticized his party's national chairman, Terry McAuliffe, for not intervening to tone down the debate.
Bwahaha! Shall we dance?
"Right now those guys think we're the front-runner, so they're saying all this stuff, `He can't win'," Dr. Dean said. "How are they going to win?

"What I'm saying is I think we're the best and most capable candidate of beating George Bush because we're the only one that is exciting the party," he said.
Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just glad to see Howie? And the first person plural? Is that the royal "we", Dean-o?

In related news:
The United Nations Security Council today took up discussion of a resolution to protect Democrat presidential candidate Howard Dean from White House rivals John F. Kerry, Wesley Clark and Joseph I. Lieberman, whom Mr. Dean has dubbed the 'axis of Smeagol'.

"Like the two-faced character in the Lord of the Rings movies, Clark, Kerry and Lieberman make a show of party unity while verbally savaging me behind my back," said Mr. Dean. "Only the United Nations has the legitimacy to intervene for my protection. My own party has failed me."
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he is hopeful that the Security Council will "leap to Mr. Dean's aid within the decade."
It's ScrappleFace.
It had to happen

(Via The Corner) The French Chapter of Indymedia (natch) features The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings! Lots of rich nutty goodness and a few fruitcakes too:
The reason that Western medicine has not advanced to the enlightened technological level as Chinese herbal medicine and why most Western technology is diametrically opposed to all life on this planet, poisoning our air and water and causing widespread disease and death is for the simple fact that the Freemasons and the Church have not yet let go of the death grip they have on each other's throats. In other words, the enlightened knowledge that the church has attempted to destroy that the Freemasons attempted to save and capitalize on with Western patents has turned into a death struggle that has created destructive technological paradigms here in the West that are now being forced on the populations of the entire earth destabilizing life and bringing with them the pollution of the air and water that once existed only in Christendom.
I love a Freemason conspiracy.
Pond scum news

George Soros is worse than pond scum

So 9-11 was no biggie eh, Georgie? He's worse than pond scum. And then there are his scum sucking minions. Byron York has the details.
Howie threatens to take his ball and go home

Dean says his supporters won't easily back another
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont said yesterday that the people drawn to politics by his campaign might stay home if he doesn't win his party's presidential nomination, thereby dooming Democrats in the fall campaign against President Bush.

"If I don't win the nomination, where do you think those million and a half people, half a million on the Internet, where do you think they're going to go?" he said during a meeting with reporters.

"I don't know where they're going to go. They're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician," Mr. Dean said.
It just gets better.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Fer sure, man!

Dean Issues Clarification
Presidential candidate Howard Dean issued a clarification of his remarks published yesterday in the Manchester (NH) Union-Leader, in which he was quoted as saying "if I were to meet Osama bin Laden face to face, I would roll a big fatty and get totally baked with him."

"I in no way meant to imply I would share my best stash with an international bad guy like bin Laden," Dean told the AP in a phone interview. "I would only do so in an effort to get him to narc on the real culprits behind 9/11, Cheney's Halliburton cabal. And I would also totally not let him bogart."
It's Iowahawk. Also check out Dapper Dogpatch Dandies Dig Dem Dean.
Our beamish boy, Howie

George Will has some musings on the ski bum today in Tough Pill For the Democrats
Arthur Goldberg was a fine public servant -- secretary of labor, Supreme Court justice, ambassador to the United Nations -- but a dreadful candidate for governor of New York in 1970, when it was said that if he gave one more speech he would lose Canada, too. Howard Dean is becoming Goldbergean.
That's too polite.
Regarding foreign policy, Dean recently said not only that America is no safer because Saddam Hussein was captured but that America is "no safer today than the day the planes struck the World Trade Center." Well.
That's way too polite.

But being Howie, he covers all sides of the issue.
He says he supported the war to remove the Taliban in Afghanistan, although he thinks it made us no safer. And even though he says the war in Iraq made us no safer, he says he would "not have hesitated" to attack Iraq if the United Nations had given us "permission."
Logic isn't his strong suit, I guess.

But wait, there's more:
Because Dean's foreign policy pronouncements have been curiouser and curiouser, his recent speech on domestic policy did not get the attention it deserved for its assertion that America is boiling with "anger and despair." Republicans are, Dean says, trying to "dismantle" the welfare state -- presumably when they are not enriching Medicare's entitlement menu -- and they aim "to end public education."
Who knew?
How'd I miss this one?

The T-Shirt That Launched 1,000 Quips
As if things weren't going badly enough for John F. Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts has been bitten by a Psycho Chihuahua.

The attack occurred 10 days ago in Hopkinton, N.H., when Kerry went to speak to a class at Hopkinton High. This appearance resulted in a most unhelpful photo for the onetime front-runner for the Democratic nomination, snapped by Concord Monitor photo editor Dan Habib. The image is of Kerry making an earnest point to student Mark LaGuardia, who, unbeknownst to the candidate, is wearing a T-shirt that proclaims on the back: "Your mouth keeps moving but all I hear is 'BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.' "
Picture here.
Another Fine Mess for Howie

Dean criticizes Cheney task force, but had own secret energy group
Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean has demanded release of secret deliberations of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force. But as Vermont governor, Dean had an energy task force that met in secret and angered state lawmakers.
In 1999, Dean offered the same argument the Bush administration uses today for keeping deliberations of a policy task force secret.

"The governor needs to receive advice from time to time in closed session. As every person in government knows, sometimes you get more open discussion when it's not public," Dean was quoted as saying.
I guess he wasn't trolling for campaign issues in those days.
There's nothing like Reuters

Six Killed, Including 'Terrorist,' in Kabul Blast
KABUL (Reuters) - Five Afghan security officials were killed in the capital Kabul on Sunday when a "terrorist" they had detained blew himself up, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
I guess they use " 'terrorist' " when they mean murdering psychopath.
About time

Ralph Reiland in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (12/21) - Return of the Special Forces:
The real story in Saddam's capture is that the Bush administration has turned loose the Special Forces to fight a covert, no-holds-barred war in Iraq.

"A revitalized Special Forces mission is a policy victory for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, who has struggled for two years to get the military leadership to accept the strategy of what he calls 'Manhunts' -- a phrase that he has used both publicly and in internal Pentagon communications," writes Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker's Dec. 15 issue. "According to American and Israeli military and intelligence officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort Bragg, N.C., and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in Iraq."
What that means is no more Mr. Nice Guy. It means our first priority will not be to arm American troops with paint rollers each morning, to get everything looking more spiffy in Baghdad. Instead, we're talking about what some in the Pentagon call "pre-emptive manhunting" -- more intelligence, more captures, and more assassinations of Baathist insurgents. The paint can wait.
Despite the whiners, you finish the job and then worry about the paint job.
We're so damn diverse

S. Lynne Walker at the Copley News Service is trying hard for the "Welcome the new neighbors" award - Black-market IDs a fact of life for many:
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part three of a four-part Copley series reflecting on a changing America. The series highlights the changes in Beardstown, Ill., where the closing of a factory precipitated a cultural change as a new factory brought in many immigrant workers and turned the all-white town into a culturally diverse community.
They misspelled "illegal alien".
BEARDSTOWN, Ill. — As Beardstown residents struggled to find common ground with their new neighbors, one issue kept them apart: Many of the Hispanics working at Excel Corp.’s slaughterhouse were living illegally in the United States.
They actually said it!

Hit the link for the details, but it's the usual sordid tale. The company winks at the illegal aliens, helped by the fact that many have illegal IDs. But there's a new problem - "illegal alien cabin fever"!
Other Hispanics, who were working at Excel without legitimate documents, could never let their guard down. Fearful of being deported, they spent most of their off-work hours at home.

“I feel trapped,” sighed a 49-year-old woman who left Acapulco in 1999 and crossed the border illegally.

“Every day I’m here, here, here,” she said, sweeping her arm in the direction of the two-story home she and her husband bought. “We almost never go out. I feel very lonely.”

As she remembered her home in Mexico’s famous beach resort, she sighed again.

“Right now, our mango tree would be full of fruit. I miss the coconuts, the breeze from the sea,” she said. “I tell my husband, ‘Let’s go back.’
Sounds like a plan.

And saving the best for last - after explaining how the illegal IDs are obtained and that the best ones are those of real people:
The dual identities filled the town’s school records, health records, police records and voter registration lists with inaccuracies.

Excel employees working with false identities didn’t want to use their real names — or their children’s real names — on official documents. School officials repeatedly assured parents their records wouldn’t be turned over the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

“We are not the INS. We do not plan to be the INS,” said school Superintendent Jim Lewis. “Our mission is not to turn people in, but to help the families.”

Pregnant mothers were urged to give their real names when they arrived at local hospitals to deliver their babies. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to prove they were the children’s real mothers.

At the Cass County Clerk’s office, irregularities cropped up on voter registration lists. A single social security number was sometimes used by as many as four registered “voters.”

Few voted, however. In Beardstown’s April 2001 mayoral election, fewer than 20 of the town’s 120 registered Hispanics cast ballots.
Er, nice theory, if true; but how do they know? Since election fraud is a felony, I don't think they are going to get too many of the "new neighbors" owning up to it. And looking for Hispanic surnames on the registration lists obviously isn't going to cut it.
Quagmire alert!

Milosevic Poised to Win Parliamentary Seat
BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - It looks like another rough day for Serbian politics Sunday - four indicted war criminals are running for parliament.

The elections could result in seats for at least two of them, Slobodan Milosevic and a former associate. They won't be taking those seats, since both are in jail in The Hague, awaiting trial. But their election will deal a prestige blow to U.S. and European hopes of fostering a pro-Western democratic leadership.

Three years after Milosevic was overthrown and a decade of Balkan wars neared their end, Serbians have become disillusioned with democracy. That's evident from their failure, three times in a row, to get a big enough turnout to elect a president.
Another swell example of the efficacy of multilateralism.
Pot, Kettle, Black

Kerry Paints Stark Contrast Between Dean And Himself
PORTSMOUTH, N.H., Dec. 27 — Senator John Kerry delivered a withering attack Saturday on Howard Dean, trying to frame the presidential campaign in New Hampshire as a two-man race and saying voters here faced a choice between Dr. Dean's "confusion and contradiction" and his own "steady and consistent hand."
And he did it with a straight face!
News you can use

Get wife's permission for harem, Ugandan men told. I'd suggest getting a hard hat first.