Saturday, January 10, 2004

I thought he was dead!

I hate to confess it, since it demonstrates my advancing years, but I remember a comedian named "Professor Irwin Corey." He would do his occasionally amusing nonsense act on TV variety and late night shows. If I had thought about him recently, I would have figured he had gone to the great nightclub in the sky. But I would have been wrong - he's still alive and endorsing Kuku:
"It is the best of times and the worst of times" best, because we have a man like Dennis Kucinich representing us in the quest for the White House, and worst, because we have a criminal like George Bush IN the White House, who must, if we are to survive, be REMOVED. The last time I voted in a presidential election was when Earl Browder ran against Norman Thomas.
I am a comedian, but this is NOT funny!! Vote for Dennis!!!"
Yadda, yadda. The prof is syntax challenged, but I like the Browder (Communist Party USA) versus Thomas (Socialist Party) touch. And based on his picture, I wasn't wrong - he is dead - although no apparent relation of Rachel Corey who is real dead.

Sorry Kuku, I liked Grandfather Twilight better.
Today's Hoot

Kathleen Parker at - Bush plan is empty piñata
Conservatives are prickly because, they say, illegals are robbing precious American jobs. And because illegals are, well, illegal.

Liberals are offended because they say Bush is merely creating an underclass of cheap labor, as though we don't already have exactly that. Except that presently it is also an illegal underclass.

And illegals are unhappy because they're not getting enough under the proposed program.

Excuse me for being so sane, but when did illegal aliens get to gripe about the size of their benefits package?
I was kinda wondering about that too!
Bush, meanwhile, is happy because he gets to ratify his conservative compassion, attract Hispanic voters and feel virtuous as he waxes about our proud immigration heritage. Excuse me for interrupting again, but immigration was very cool the first 200 years or so of American history, but since Sept. 11, 2001, it's terrifying.

We clearly have an immigration system that needs fixing, but post-9/11 we might be spared the misty-eyed paean to the world's tired, poor, huddled masses. At this point, we're all a little tired, stretched and bunched up.

Mexico President Vicente Fox is also happy, though cautiously. He's happy because he temporarily rids himself of 3 million to 5 million people his country can't support, but cautious as he waits for "details." Translation: Please keep them!
I always think that's way cool, myself. Even a fruitcake like Kucinich wouldn't run in the USA on a platform of exporting citizens, but it's hot stuff in Mexico. Ulps, wait a minute, don't anyone give Kuku ideas - he might like a "foreign exchange" program.
Most entertaining of the reactions has come from illegals themselves, or at least from their advocates. A spokesperson for the National Council of La Raza, for instance, said that once targeted workers read the fine print, many will feel they're better off living here illegally than putting their names in the government's database.

I know just what they mean. First they get you in their databases, then they want you to pay taxes.
Bummer! More by following the link.
Dang, I missed the wingnut hoedown!

Three long-shot candidates focus on absentees, D.C. voting rights
Howard Dean got the first question of Friday's radio debate. His answer was a second of silence, followed by muffled laughter and scattered applause.

That's because the man who wasn't there couldn't answer why he wasn't there.

In a debate notable for its absenteeism, only three candidates for the Democratic nomination for president -- all of them long shots -- participated. Carol Moseley Braun, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton sat on the stage with three questioners, a moderator and an empty chair with Dean's name before it.

"Governor Dean, if you cared so much about D.C. and you were so committed to the voting rights of the residents of the District of Columbia to have representation in the U.S. Congress, why aren't you here today?" asked Mark Plotkin of WTOP Radio, which broadcast the debate live.

At the end of the hourlong debate, interrupted at times for traffic and weather reports, candidates were allowed to query each other. Sharpton, facing the empty Dean chair, said: "I would like you to explain to your supporters why you're absent, why that seat is empty." Then he hopped in the vacant spot and wagged his finger in Dean style.
That Al is such a card! And did you know that Marion Barry has endorsed Deano? No word on whether any Peruvian marching powder was involved.

And speaking of The Rev, I was gobsmacked to see Sharpton transforms image into more thoughtful, reserved politician. Who knew?

It had seemed to me that Al was up to his old "slap that donkey" tricks with Sharpton: Clinton 'Killed the Democratic Party' but the best evidence that not much has changed is Report: Rev. Al Sharpton's campaign report raises new questions about finances.
Deja Vu All Over Again

Victor Davis Hanson at NRO explains that it's The Same Old Thing:
One of the strangest developments of the ongoing presidential campaign has been the creation of a new national mythology: The United States is alienating the world, losing the friendship of the Europeans, needlessly offending the Arabs, and generally embarking on a radically new foreign policy of preemption and hegemony. Would that "unilateralism," Bush's drawl and Christianity, or Halliburton contracts were the cause of our problems — then we could fawn over the U.N., send Jimmy Carter once more around the world, have our president learn to drop his accent, and publicly chastise oil companies, and, presto, be liked! But unfortunately the current tension is far deeper than media strategies and insufficient "consultation" — and in fact goes back at last three decades.
Too bad, sending Jimmy out of the country sounded great.
Thirty years ago, during the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, most of the Europeans of the NATO alliance refused over-flight rights to the United States. We had only hours in which to aid Israel from a multifaceted surprise attack and were desperately ferrying tons of supplies to save it from literal extinction. In contrast, many of these same allies allowed the Soviet Union — the supposed common enemy from which thousands of Americans were based in Europe to protect Europeans — to fly over NATO airspace to ensure the Syrians sufficient material to launch and sustain their surprise attack on the Golan.

American "unilateralism" in those days meant acting alone not to let Israel perish. Had we gone "multilateral" and listened to our NATO allies — Germany, France, Greece, and Turkey all prohibited American planes from flying supplies in their space in transit to Tel-Aviv — there would be no Israel today at all. How odd that nations who asked for our protection from the Soviets would allow them to fly in supplies to the Syrian dictatorship, but not extend the same privilege of airspace to their protectors to save a democracy.
Sounds like weasels to me.
In exasperation at such a bad state of transatlantic relations, a furious — who else? — Ted Kennedy attacked Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, blaming us, not the Europeans' peculiar taste for fascism over Israeli democracy, for "heedlessly creating a crisis in the Atlantic alliance." Again, this was 30 years before his most recent outburst about a fraudulent war being cooked up in Texas. The New York Times, of course, then as now, echoed his concern.
For these pond scum, not only is it our fault, but it always has been our fault.

Much more by following the link.
Asshat Brasshat - part 2

Kumbaya!Clark says he can keep U.S. safe from attacks

Wesley Clark said yesterday the two greatest lies of the last three years are that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks couldn't have been prevented and that another attack is inevitable.

He said a Clark administration would protect America in the future.

"If I'm president of the United States, I'm going to take care of the American people," Clark said in a meeting with the Monitor editorial board. "We are not going to have one of these incidents."

Clark, a retired Army general, envisioned a future in which Americans "have more confidence in ourselves as a people." He continued: "Nothing is going to hurt this country - not bioweapons, not a nuclear weapon, not a terrorist strike - there is nothing that can hurt us if we stay united and move together and have a vision for moving to the future the right way."

Whew! I feel so much better, Weasley!

The PatioPundit is calling this marvelous plan the Kumbaya Defense, but it mostly makes me wonder whether he's stupid or he thinks we're stupid. Probably both.

Friday, January 09, 2004

And speaking of Big Weird Al...

I just know you are dying to hear what the itinerant college professor has been up to. Well, you'll be happy to know he has another big money gig for George Soros and! Cut to the press release - Al Gore to Expose Bush on Environment, Global-Warming. (With a headline like that, it's a good thing it wasn't Tipper doing the bloviating!)
Former Vice President Al Gore will deliver a major address attacking the Bush Administration's policies on global warming and the environment at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York City on Thursday, January 15. The speech is being co-sponsored by and Environment2004.

Mr. Gore will issue an indictment of the Bush administration's inaction on global warming, linking the issue to U.S. national security. He will show that global warming is happening right now, and yet the President is choosing to help his coal- and oil-company supporters rather than advance modern technologies that can affordably solve this critical problem. The speech will also explore the administration's deliberate attempts to mislead the public as it attacks basic environmental laws and protection.
Woohoo! Better breakout the Beano, it's gonna be a massive release of gas!
Femme Eye for the Weird Guy

Seeking Women's Votes, Clark Changes His Style
Gen. Wesley K. Clark has begun to show a softer side.

Gone are his navy blue suit, red tie and loafers, replaced by argyle sweaters, corduroys and duck boots.

Still a stiff

Via The Corner where they are dubbing it the "Mr. Rogers strategy."

Maybe he ought to check with Big Weird Al for some styling tips? Oops, I forgot. Al is supporting Deano. Hmm, maybe Al suggested this outfit.
Ruh Oh!

(Warning: Not safe for work!) Right Thinking on the Left Coast has uncovered the Wesley Clark campaign posters featuring Madonna.

For you Safe Surfers, there's always the BrokenNewz poster.
Today's Hoot!

Bernard Goldberg at FrontPage Magazine - Bias? What Bias?
So I’m sitting in a very nice conference room in the very nice Time & Life Building, high above bustling West Fiftieth Street in Manhattan, for my first meeting on this book. There are about ten big shots from Warner Books sitting around a very nice long table waiting to hear what I have in mind, which basically is to use my earlier book Bias as a jumping-off point to examine the powerful behind-the-scenes forces that have turned too many American newsrooms into bastions of political correctness...

But as I’m sitting there I’m not thinking about any of that. To be perfectly honest, what I am thinking is, before Bias caught on with so many Americans, before it became such a hit, no one in the liberal, highbrow book business would have thrown water on me if I were on fire. None of them would have dirtied their hands on a book that would have dismayed their smart, sensitive liberal friends. Before Bias I would have been the skunk at their garden party. But now they can’t wait to hear what I think?

But about fourteen seconds in, I am brought back to earth when one of the participants informs me that a friend of his thinks the whole idea of liberal bias is bogus.

I smile the kind of insincere smile I detest in others and look at the guy, wondering if I’m also looking at his “friend.” I’m also wondering if everyone else in the room also thinks that bias in the news is just the stuff of right-wing paranoia. I am in Manhattan, after all, the belly of the beast.

And besides, Manhattan is one of those trendy places where the new hot media chic thing is not only to dismiss the notion of liberal bias in the news, but actually to say, with a straight face, that the real problem is . . . conservative bias!

This is so jaw-droppingly bizarre you almost don’t know how to respond. It reminds me of a movie I saw way back in the sixties called A Guide for the Married Man. In one scene, Joey Bishop plays a guy caught by his wife red-handed in bed with a beautiful woman. As the wife goes nuts, demanding to know what the hell is going on, Joey and the woman get out of bed and calmly put on their clothes. He then casually straightens up the bed and quietly responds to his wife, who by now has smoke coming out of her ears, “What bed? What girl?” After the woman leaves, Joey settles in his lounge chair and reads the paper, pausing long to enough to ask his wife if she shouldn’t be in the kitchen preparing dinner!
Just think of Joey Bishop as the media elite and think of his wife as you—the American news-consuming public.

You have caught them red-handed over and over again with their biases exposed, and all they do is Deny! Deny! Deny! Only now the media have become even more brazen. Simply denying isn’t good enough anymore. Now they’re not content looking you in the eye and calmly saying, “What bias?” Now they’re just as calmly turning truth on its head, saying the real problem is conservative bias.
Oh no, it's the VRWC again! Much more by following the link.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Asshat Brasshat - part 1

I've been having so much fun with the wisdom of Howie that I haven't been giving sufficient time to delusional Wesley Clark.

Wesley Clark the barking moonbat

But not to worry, Jay Nordlinger has it well in hand at NRO:
He is more appalling than most people know, I think: utterly scoundrelly on the stump. We think of Kucinich, Sharpton, and Moseley Braun as the fringe candidates. But have you gotten a strong whiff of Wes Clark? Pretty fringy, actually.
The general has told us, "I'm one of those people who doesn't believe in occupying countries to extract their natural resources. I think you buy them on the world market." Because, as you all know, the United States is in Iraq to extract their oil, and not buy it on the world market. You did know that, didn't you? Haven't you read your Noam Chomsky, or the speeches of Wesley Clark?

Clark is almost never "credited" with being as flaky and offensive as he is. He repeatedly charges President Bush with personal culpability in the death of 3,000 people on September 11. He completely exonerates the Clinton administration, saying that it had no time to do anything about al Qaeda (seriously). He claims that the Iraq war was a great diversion from our alleged failures against al Qaeda, and that this diversion was the trick of "neocons." (The general has gotten with the lingo.)
Pretty slimey, eh? But don't worry he's a genius:
And his arrogance is clumsy. For example, in a television interview, when he was acknowledging a previous "bobble," he said, "I don't want to give any excuses for this. A Rhodes scholar is not ever supposed to make a mistake."

Uh, did you know he was a Rhodes scholar? Now you do!
In that case, what happened to the Mercedes with the top secret radio system, Weasley?

Is it any surprise that Weasley's the worst sort of pond scum? After all, he's the Clinton's sock puppet. Oh wait, Bubba was a Rhodes Scholar too!
Today's Hoot!

Dean Should Take Tax Hike Show Back to Vermont
Club for Growth PAC Launches Iowa TV Ad Campaign Showing Howard Dean Out of Step with Mainstream America

The ad opens with a couple walking out of a barber shop. An off-screen announcer asks what they think of Howard Dean’s plan to raise taxes on a typical family by $1,900.

Without hesitation, the husband responds: What do I think? Well, I think Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading…

His wife continues: “…body piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont where it belongs.”
Real Player or Windows
No Way, Jorge!

Dubya, this "immigration plan" doesn't do it. I'll leave it to others to explain why in detail, but the most grating part is that it demonstrates massive naivete.

How about the "illegal aliens who are already here and have a job will get guest worker status"? Aside from being a slap in the face of every legal green card holder by rewarding those who broke the law, how does this idea work in practice? I can see it now - declare that every illegal alien in the country with a job on Jan 1, 200X gets a guest worker card. Then stand back, Nellie, the borders will look like the opening of a sale at Filene's basement as the aliens beat feet to be on board when the gravy train leaves the station.

And exactly what does every illegal alien "with a job" mean? These aren't underpaid Indian programmers looking for a programming gig with a software company that will let them keep their H1B visas. Many illegal aliens are day laborers hanging around on street corners for prospective employers to drive by. Here's just one recent example. OK, do they have a job or not? Well, it probably doesn't make any difference after the same guys who now forge Social Security cards cover that base too.

Then after you cover the "worker," what about his/her family and who is included in that? Wouldn't want to tear them from the bosom of their loving family, right? Does it include kids; Mom and Dad; bothers and sisters; aunts and uncles; nephews and cousins? Any of them have to have "jobs" too?

And whatever rules are decided on will be enforced by the same crack bureaucrats that keep out illegal aliens now. Be still, my heart.

Basically, the whole thing is an unworkable crock. I've seen some comments that suggest that the whole "plan" is a clever political ploy, particularly the part to leave the details up to Congress. But I never suspect conspiracy when incompetence will do and this smells mightily like incompetence. Dubya, I'm sure Tom Ridge is a swell guy, but the next time he comes up with a brain wave, please run it by Rummy first.

Finally, it wouldn't do to forget the whining leftoids who are disappointed that the President didn't roll out the Welcome Wagon for a wave of illegal immigrants. Their take seems to be haul 'em in, sign 'em up for government benefits, and register 'em to vote in the Democrat party. I'll skip the usual professional "activists" and even the AFL-CIO, which has apparently turned its back on its traditional craft worker stalwarts, and cut right to the chase with the Axis of Asshats:

We need earned legalization for undocumented immigrants in the US who work hard, pay taxes, and otherwise obey the rules, so that they can become full participants in society, including becoming citizens.
Today, the Bush White House proposed an immigration reform program that fails to help the immigrants who contribute to their communities every day...

We should allow hard-working, law-abiding, undocumented workers to eventually earn their citizenship.
The haughty, French-looking guy who served in Vietnam:
Bush's proposal fails to address the plight of immigrants coming to work in the United States by not providing a meaningful path to becoming legal permanent residents. And if Bush is really concerned about the plight of immigrants coming to work in the United States he should tell his party to stop the heartless and divisive politics the Republican Party is employing in California to get a new Prop 187 on the ballot for next year's election, and a similar effort in Arizona to victimize immigrants for the failures of government and an unstable economy.

"As president, I will support sensible reform of our immigration system that protects workers and also provides employers with the employees that they need. I will immediately resume our dialogue with President Fox and put in place an earned legalization program that will allow undocumented immigrants to legalize their status if they have been in the United States for a certain amount of time, have been working, and can pass a background check.
Sorry, dipsticks, it's not "undocumented," it's illegal.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

How much will Howard Dean cost you?

The Howard Dean Tax Calculator
What about the keys to the pickup?

Court: N.C. must broaden its Medicaid coverage for illegal immigrants
North Carolina must broaden its Medicaid coverage for illegal immigrants to allow for longer-term treatment of serious health problems, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
C'mon in and make yourselves at home!

Speaking of which, there's supposed to be an announcement of a new "immigration" plan today. I'm so excited!
Everyone's picking on Howie!

I was so entranced with the poll results in the NY Post story mentioned in the previous post that I forgot to mention that Howie was getting beat up about his love of taxes in yet another of the interminable "debates":
"Now there's a terrific message: Democrats in America think if you get married, you ought to pay more taxes," scoffed Sen. John Kerry (Mass.)

Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) said: "I don't know of a case where a Democratic candidate for president has been elected who called for a massive increase in taxes on the middle class."

Dean said the attacks were "hogwash" and said that "ultimately," he'll offer a tax plan of his own.
We can hardly wait, Howie.

But the snarkiest headline award goes to the AP - Dean Says Public Will See His Wife.
Sock puppet gaining on the angry guy?

Wes Just 4 Points Behind Howie
A new national poll shows retired Gen. Wesley Clark is gaining fast on Democratic front-runner Howard Dean - and now trails by just 4 points.

The survey suggests that Clark has the potential to emerge as the top stop-Dean contender in the presidential pack.

Dean now leads Clark nationally by just 24 percent to 20 percent among registered Democratic voters - and the gap has narrowed dramatically since last month, when Dean led by 27 to 12 percent, according to the USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll.
But the race for the Democratic nomination isn't a national contest, it's a series of state-by-state races, and Clark could be hurt by the fact that he isn't even competing in the first test, the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses.
Which reminds me of an oddity in the Donk nomination process - AP Survey: Insiders Give Howard First Lead
Democratic insiders have given self-styled outsider Howard Dean his first lead in the chase for delegates needed to capture the party's presidential nomination, according to an Associated Press survey.

In the first "ballots" cast of the 2004 race, the former Vermont governor has endorsements or pledges of support from 80 Democratic "superdelegates" - elected officials and other party officials who will help select a nominee at this July's convention.

Rival Dick Gephardt, the former House Democratic leader who has served as Missouri congressman for 28 years, has the backing of 57 superdelegates. Four-term Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has the support of 50.

Among the remaining candidates, three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the 2000 vice presidential nominee, has 25 superdelegates, while Wesley Clark, the retired general who has never held elected office, has 22.
One Democratic superdelegate has endorsed President Bush.
Bwahaha - that was Senator Zell Miller.

But what's the deal with the "supes"?
To win the nomination, a candidate must have 2,162 delegates, using any combination of superdelegates and regular delegates who are pledged to a candidate based on primary or caucus results.

Superdelegates, officially known as "unpledged," aren't bound to vote for the candidate who wins the primary of their respective state. They also can change their mind as the primary race unfolds.

"The superdelegate race is still wide open," said Joe Eyer, political director for Lieberman's campaign.

In the AP survey, 584 of the 725 superdelegates listed by the Democratic National Committee were contacted. Of those, only 258 had endorsed a candidate. Another 326 said they were uncommitted or declined to answer, while 141 could not be reached.
Sounds like most of the "supes" are playing their cards close to their vests. And they are about a third of the total delegates.

Today's Hoot!

David Carr at Samizdata - How to get ahead in journalism
Journalism is a dog-eat-dog business these days. Lack of talent is no longer enough. No, you have to do something truly original and spectacular in order to get noticed.

Take, for example, Osama Bin Laden. After years of fruitless struggle (and the customary mound of polite rejection letters) he has finally been rewarded with his own column in the Guardian:
Employing him was clearly the right decision. Who else can boast such an enticing combination of political commentary, history and anti-Western rhetoric?
Who indeed?

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

You really can't make this stuff up

Islamic fundamentalist are famously more then a few fries short of a Happy Meal, but James Taranto points us to a new record as chronicled in the Boston Globe - Rumors of rape fan anti-American flames:
The allegations can be heard almost everywhere in Turkey now, from farmers' wives eating in humble kebab shops, in influential journals, and from erudite political leaders: American troops have raped thousands of Iraqi women and young girls since ousting dictator Saddam Hussein.

Articles in Turkey's Islamist press reporting the allegations have fanned opposition here to the US invasion of Iraq to white-hot anger -- and even, apparently, to murder.

Nurullah Kuncak says his father, Ilyas Kuncak, was boiling about the rumored rapes just before he killed himself delivering the huge car bomb that devasted the Turkish headquarters of HSBC bank last month, killing a dozen people and wounding scores more.

''Didn't you see, the American soldiers raped Iraqi women,'' Nurullah said in a recent interview. ''My father talked to me about it. . . . Thousands of rapes are in the records. Can you imagine how many are still secret?''

Mustafa Ozkafa, mayor of the fervently Muslim city of Konya, also is incensed. While he says he is strictly nonviolent, Ozkafa also said that ''women and children are dying every day in Iraq. . . . We are hearing there is rape in Iraq now. To whom will the Islamic world present the bill for this?''

The articles in the Islamist press are based in part on comments allegedly made by a US sex therapist who denies having written or said anything about soldiers raping women. The therapist, in an online column, explicitly and graphically described the US invasion as a rape, but says that this was clearly a metaphor unrelated to the actions of individual US soldiers, and that she has no knowledge of any physical rapes.

The initial reports in the Turkish press were published in Yeni Safak, a leading Islamist journal.

The first, a front-page article on Oct. 22, stated: ''In addition to the occupation and despoilation, thousands of Iraqi women are being raped by American soldiers. There are more than 4,000 rape events on the record.'' The article's primary source was identified as ''Dr. Susan Block,'' who was reported to have said that a wave of rapes began with the occupation and was ongoing.
Block is a California-based sex therapist who has a doctorate in philosophy. She says Yeni Safak apparently drew erroneously on an article she published on the Internet titled ''Rape of Iraq.''
"Published on the Internet" is a polite way of describing Susie's site which is just another pr0n swamp ("TWO DAY PASS For a SMOKING HOT 48 hours!" and telephone "sex therapy") embellished with the political delusions of the aging, underdressed proprietor.

Give these whackos an Internet connection and what do they do? Start trolling for pr0n, I guess. I'm sure Allah is pleased.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Howie's Epiphany

Marni Soupcoff observes And Then He Saw the Polls...
Dean told the Boston Globe that he didn't think opposing the bike-path "was very God-like." Neither, one would imagine, is casually working Jesus into one's speeches in a transparent effort to grab votes. But then religion is a very private thing, according to Dean, so perhaps he's brokered his own special deal with the man upstairs that the rest of us simply can't understand.

The real question is will the voters buy Dean's new religious act? I think the chances of that are about as good as the odds of the following ditty I composed in Dean's honor reaching the Billboard Top Ten.

Dean's a Believer

(Sung to the tune of the Monkees' I'm a Believer)

I thought God was
Only true for Republicans
Meant for some white trash
But not for me
God was just so kitschy
That's the way it seemed
Wind-powered energy
Was more for me

And then I saw the polls
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm pi-ous
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave God
If I tried

I thought God was
More or less for low-class dupes
But the less I prayed the worse
I polled, oh yeah
What's the harm in claiming
Jesus is my guy
Southern votes got me kneeling
That's no lie

And then I saw the polls
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm pi-ous
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave God
If I tried
You'll have to follow the link for more. I was starting to hum it.
We have a contender!

For the Michael Moore Arrogant Asshat Prize, that is - it's Neal Starkman who opines that The S factor explains Bush's popularity
It's increasingly obvious, for example, that none of the so-called theories can explain President Bush's popularity, such as it is.
What, then, can account for so many people being so supportive of the president?

The answer, I'm afraid, is the factor that dare not speak its name. It's the factor that no one talks about. The pollsters don't ask it, the media don't report it, the voters don't discuss it.

I, however, will blare out its name so that at last people can address the issue and perhaps adopt strategies to overcome it.

It's the "Stupid factor," the S factor: Some people -- sometimes through no fault of their own -- are just not very bright.

It's not merely that some people are insufficiently intelligent to grasp the nuances of foreign policy, of constitutional law, of macroeconomics or of the variegated interplay of humans and the environment. These aren't the people I'm referring to. The people I'm referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They're perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don't have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all -- far above all -- they don't think.
Golly! I thought the S factor explained why there were people like Neal!
"Do Less. Much Less."

How to be your own boss - in 215 highly regulated days
Fernando Rezende always wanted to be his own boss. So last spring, after answering a newspaper ad for an auto-repair shop for sale in Rio de Janeiro, he quit his job as a mechanic, sold his car, and withdrew his life savings from the bank.

Seven months later, he is the proud owner of MasterCar Mechanic.

Sort of.

The title of Mr. Rezende's garage is still in the name of the previous proprietor. And the courts have yet to determine, among other things, if former employees are owed money, if there are any outstanding lawsuits, and if all the old bills have been paid.

"This was a lot more difficult than I thought," he says. "The bureaucracy is such that seven months on I am still not legally the owner."

Yet Rezende's bureaucratic slog could look downright breezy to budding entrepreneurs in other parts of the world. In Congo, for example, a mere 215 days and nine years' salary is all it takes to open a small business. And in Haiti, it's 203 days and twice the average annual wage.

This is if nothing else goes wrong - such as the four-month strike by Brazilian social-security and bank workers that delayed Rezende's entire process.

Starting a small business is a leap of faith, even under the best conditions. One-third of small businesses in the United States close within the first two years. But in the world's poorest countries, governments aren't doing their minicapitalists any favors. Filling out the right forms and applying for all the necessary licenses can take months. Fees can cost more than most people earn in a decade. And the pressure to grease palms to avoid a mountain of red tape lurks around every corner.

The result is a recipe for poverty and graft: fewer jobs, a smaller tax base, less money for governments to spend on social programs, and a larger underground, or informal, economy.

These are the findings of an ambitious study by the World Bank, called "Doing Business in 2004," a first-of-its-kind look at what it takes to open and operate small businesses around the world. And the results are sure to ruffle feathers. That's because the 200-page report puts the blame for poverty squarely on the shoulders of the poor countries themselves. At a time when developing nations pin their plight on the inequities of globalization, prohibitive tariffs that freeze them out of US and European markets, and price-distorting handouts to the world's wealthiest farmers, the World Bank says the silver bullet to eradicating poverty lies right within the poor countries' own borders.

The solution: Do less. Much less.
Here now! That will never do! You're spoiling the pitch of thousands of bureaucratic grifters, not to mention the "activists"!

My favorite line:
While statistics rarely tell the whole story - wars, educational opportunities, and geopolitical disadvantages play their part - the most-regulated countries are a who's who of world paupers.
I guess when you have nothing to regulate, you have to do an extra careful job!
I must have missed the big debate!

But Calvin Woodward of the AP didn't - Democrats Drift on Taxes, Trade in Debate
For a brief time in their debate Sunday, Democrats seemed to be hewing to a New Year's resolution to stick more carefully to the facts on taxes, the budget and more. But old habits die hard.

As in the past, Howard Dean declared, "Middle-class people did not see a tax cut," despite the lower tax rates enacted for all income levels and the higher tax credits for people of low and moderate income.

Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri accused opponents on the stage of voting in favor of trade agreements that several had never voted on at all. But in defending themselves against Gephardt's misrepresentation, several neglected to mention that they had voiced support for trade pacts they were now criticizing.
Sounds like a fun time!

Here's my pick for most fun:
The first Democratic presidential debate of 2004 featured a reality-check statement from North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, when he was asked about balancing the budget. "If somebody gives you a straight answer to that question, you can't trust it," he said.

"The reality is, everybody on this stage is talking about spending money," he went on. "There is a tension between spending money and reducing the federal deficit. We should be straight with people about that."

Against the backdrop of that lecture, Dean declared, "I am going to balance the budget, and I'm going to do it in the sixth or seventh year of my administration."
Bwahaha! Don't go out on a limb, Howie!
This, despite the fact he has not worked out his plans for middle-class tax relief, a crucial chunk of any balanced budget plan. "Ultimately, we will have a program for tax fairness," he said when asked what taxes he might lower after keeping his promise to repeal all of President Bush's tax cuts.

Dean repeated his frequent claim that middle-income Americans have not seen their taxes go down under Bush: "There was no middle-class tax cut," he declared.

In fact, their taxes did go down. But Dean went on to explain what he really meant — that most people are worse off because college tuition, health care premiums, property taxes and other state and local taxes or fees have gone up by more than Americans have saved under the Bush tax cuts.

But the head scratching did not end there.
Indeed. Much more fact checking by following the link.
Now for real comedy...

Check out Sen. Zell Miller's column at the WSJ - Memo to Terry McAwful: May the Democratic leaders get the anger they deserve.
Here are some recent headlines as I see them from the Democratic demolition derby: (1) Sharpton "feels good," could feel better; (2) Kerry cusses; (3) Dean gets "help" from Gore; (4) Democrats ask: "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the angriest one of all?"
On the Rev. Al:
(1) First, the Reverend "Ready for Prime Time." Conventional wisdom says native Southerners John Edwards and Wesley Clark and moderate Joe Lieberman will have the edge when the primaries move South. Don't count on it. I'd be willing to bet a steak dinner (mad cow or no mad cow) that Al Sharpton will get almost as many votes as Messrs. Edwards, Clark or Lieberman in this supposedly more friendly territory. (If they're still around, that is.) The last time there was an African-American in the primaries, Jesse Jackson blew everyone away, getting 96% of the African-American vote in the South, carrying Georgia, Virginia, Mississippi and Louisiana, and placing second in North Carolina, Florida, Maryland and Tennessee. It would be a tall order to match that. But Rev. Sharpton could do well because he's even more appealing than Rev. Jackson. While Jesse is sullen, Al is engaging. Can you imagine Rev. Jackson poking fun at himself? Can you imagine him on "Saturday Night Live" belting out James Brown's "I Feel Good" with a few cool moves?

Al Sharpton did a pretty good impression of the "Godfather of Soul." Of course, the rotund reverend has long been the "Godfather of Con." He's slick as a peeled onion. In just one short primary season, his timid fellow candidates and the even more timid media have erased the criminal Tawana Brawley shakedown. They've given this trickster who has never been elected dogcatcher a legitimacy he does not deserve: their Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval as a bona fide presidential candidate. So, get ready to start counting Rev. Sharpton's delegates. They will be impossible to ignore on national TV when the Democrats take center stage in Boston. Memo to Democratic Chairman Terry McAwful: It's called "reaping what you sow."
Of course, the real question is what the Rev. is going to demand from the eventual nominee for his support.
(2) Now to "Cussing Kerry." Like Alice, this campaign gets "curiouser and curiouser." What will those former Gore consultants try next? The electric blue spandex surfing bodysuit didn't work. The jeans and Harley Davidson didn't work. Chet Atkins turned in his grave at the senator's guitar picking. And now comes the F-word in Rolling Stone. My mouth ain't no prayer book, but John Kerry could have asked his pal Tom Harkin of Iowa how cussing went over with voters in 1992. Like a lead balloon. It's as if Mr. Kerry will do anything to appear the "coolest" in the Our Gang crowd. What's next? John Kerry wearing a baseball cap sideways?
Zell, don't give him any ideas!

More by following the link.
Wesley Cracks Up The Crowd

Clark Says His Dean Joke Fell Flat
A comment by retired Gen. Wesley Clark that seemed to chide fellow Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean for skiing as Clark recovered from Vietnam War wounds amounted to nothing more than an attempt at humor that fell flat, Clark said Sunday.
Clark's comment came in November on WNTK radio in Manchester, N.H. "I didn't have as much practice skiing as the governor did. He was out there skiing when I was recovering from my wounds in Vietnam," Clark said.
"Politics is easy, but humor is tough," Clark said.
Don't quit your day job, Weasley!

But in related news, the best headline award goes to the NY Post - Wes: Monicagate Was Overblown.

He makes everybody nervous

Dean's holiday gaffes have Democrats worried
Steve Murphy, Rep. Richard Gephardt’s campaign manager, last week professed to being baffled. How is it possible, he wondered, that Howard Dean’s bizarre comments about Osama bin Laden attracted so little news media attention? The answer is that apart from being obscured by the holiday season, the Democratic presidential front-runner’s words got lost in his own stream of unusual remarks.
That's a new ploy!
Dean’s post-Christmas comments that he could not suggest a penalty for the terrorist leader and author of the 9/11 catastrophe until he was judged guilty had no time to sink in before he began saying things that stunned his party’s faithful. He sniped at Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe for not protecting him from the party’s other candidates, and warned of his 1.5 million supporters defecting if any other Democrat is nominated for president.

Dean’s holiday performance reflects the yearlong pattern by the former governor of Vermont. To characterize Dean’s remarks as leftist tilt that can and will be corrected by a quick pivot to the center is a faulty diagnosis of the doctor’s disease. James Carville last week summed up the Dean problem: “He seems to not appreciate the glory of the unspoken thought.”
That's pretty good. I didn't know the Ragin' Cajun had it in him.
For Carville to make this comment on national television gets the attention of Democrats, including Dean and his campaign staff. Carville, making no pretense at objectivity, is a passionate partisan emotionally committed to George W. Bush’s defeat. As architect of Bill Clinton’s 1992 election victory, he is in demand for party functions nationwide and a vigorous fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Carville, neutral in the race for the presidential nomination, rarely speaks ill of a fellow Democrat. But he did on CNN’s “Crossfire” last Monday: “I’m scared to death that this guy just says anything. It feels like he’s undergone some kind of a political lobotomy here.”
That's more like the Carville we know.
Maria Echaveste, a Dean adviser who was President Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, sat across the table from Carville looking like a deer caught in the headlights. “Not every candidate ends up being President from the day he walks out there,” she said. “They mature. And this is what this man is doing.” Off camera, she suggested Dean needs a little rest.
More like a long rest.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Message from SPECTRE HQ!


We're gonna have a problem with that one!
Today's Hoot

Mark Steyn says Don't leave Saddam trial to the 'jet set'
Well, it's January, December's come and gone, so let's add up the final score:

Coalition of the Willing: Saddam captured, Gadhafi neutered.

The ''International Community'': Milosevic elected to Parliament in Belgrade.

Yes, indeed. On the last weekend of the year, Slobo won a seat in Serbia's legislature, as did his fellow "alleged'' (as Wes Clark would say) war criminal Vojislav Seselj, and Seselj's extreme nationalist Serbian Radical Party won more seats than anybody else.

But hang on a minute. Aren't Milosevic and Seselj in jail at the Hague and facing the stern justice of an ''international tribunal''? Why, yes. Slobo's been on trial for two years already, and they're only just wrapping up the prosecution. Among the witnesses was, of course, Gen. Clark, who couldn't resist boasting that he's the only Democratic presidential candidate ''who's ever faced a dictator down. I'm the only one who's ever testified in court against one.'' Au contraire, right now it looks like Slobo is the only Serbian parliamentary candidate who's ever faced a U.S. general down.

Anyone who goes goo-goo at the mention of the words ''international tribunal'' -- i.e., Clark, John Kerry, Howard Dean and the rest of the multilatte multilateralist establishment -- should look at what it boils down to in practice. Even though the court forbade Milosevic and Seselj from actively campaigning in the Serbian election, they somehow managed to. In other words, ''international law'' is unable to enforce its judgments even in its own jailhouse.
More by following the link.
Pundits amazed by market at work!

After the Possum post, I thought I'd drop by my favorite North Carolina paper, the Raleigh News and Observer (aka The NOBS), and see what was roiling the turgid waters of the "liberals with a twang". Aside from some continued whistling past the graveyard where Sen. John Edwards presidential campaign is buried, there were the following gems. I lack the gumption to comment on 'em in detail, but you'll get the idea.

Upstart brands hurt Big Tobacco: As cheap cigarettes sell, states' tobacco payments drop
KEYSVILLE, VA.--Mac L. Bailey's cigarette manufacturing plant, a one-story building longer than two football fields laid end to end, looks out of place next to a country road in the middle of nowhere. But for two 10-hour shifts a day, four days a week, this plant hums, making up to 20,000 cigarettes a minute.
Across the United States, there are hundreds of other little cigarette companies like these. In four years, their market share has multiplied more than tenfold, from 0.5 percent of cigarettes sold in the United States in 1998 to 6.5 percent in 2002, according to the National Association of Attorneys General, which says the numbers for 2003 will be more startling.

Their growth, driven primarily by low prices, is causing consternation not only in Big Tobacco boardrooms but also in state capitals, because it is eroding multibillion-dollar payments the states won as part of a historic settlement with the industry in late 1998.
The "Tobacco Settlement" was basically a judicially imposed selective tax on large cigarette makers for the benefit of state governments (not to mention the windfall for trial lawyers). But small cigarette companies that sell in only a few states were imperfectly covered in the agreement that the great legal minds came up with, and they are now blowing past the big companies by means of lower prices. But not to worry:
The big tobacco companies and attorneys general across the country are now working feverishly to close the loophole with new legislation.
I.e. what was a selective tax will become a general tax. But there are some problems along the way - RJR bill doesn't get far. Of course, the best part was the lip service that the settlement cash was to be used to pay smoker's health bills and fund smoking cessation campaigns. That went by the wayside as soon as the governments got their hands on the cash.

What's the solution for the shortage of shots? A scarcity of flu vaccines has brought intense scrutiny to a problem-plagued immunization system.
Part of the problem is that low profit margins, complex manufacturing and a challenging regulatory environment have driven vaccine makers from the business. Thirty years ago, there were 25 vaccine makers. Today, there are five.
The major purchaser of vaccines is the Federal Government, thanks to Hillary, and guess what? They decide what the "fair price" for vaccines is. We all know how well that works. So what to do:
Among the recommended remedies: requiring health insurers to provide vaccine benefits, government vouchers for the uninsured, and new federal incentives to spur vaccine production.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pursuing a similar path. It has asked Congress for $100 million for reforms aimed at seeking faster ways to make vaccines, better estimating of how many shots are needed, and persuading more drug companies to make vaccines.
Snort! The "incentives" are amusing though. "You can't charge more than a fixed price, but here are some bucks on the side." Leave it to the government to create a problem where none existed previously and then try to fix it with layer upon layer of bandaids.

UPDATE: And speaking of which - check out the Curmudgeon's Dumb Stuff.
I missed that one!

Dean's Favorite New Testament Book is Bhagavad-Gita
Howard Dean, the Democrat presidential frontrunner, told an African-American congregation at a prayer breakfast this morning that his favorite New Testament book is not Job, as he had stated earlier this week.

"I misspoke on that one," said Mr. Dean. "We all know that Job is in the Old Testament. What I meant to say was that my favorite New Testament book is the Bhagavad-Gita. In fact, this morning I was handed a copy of it in the airport by a fine young Christian wearing a saffron robe."
It's ScrappleFace.
There's always a wet blanket

Threat of lawsuit takes life out of Possum Drop
BRASSTOWN, N.C. -- For the past 12 years, on New Year's Eve, this Appalachian town has lowered a possum in a Plexiglas cage from the roof of a gas station at the stroke of midnight. It is called the Possum Drop, and hundreds of people pack downtown Brasstown to see it.
With just hours to go before the festivities, Clay Logan, host of the Possum Drop, said he got a call from a national animal rights organization threatening to sue him for animal cruelty if he used a live possum.
Oh, puhleeze! You can just imagine the little wankers hovering over the phones on New Year's eve.
Since 1991, Logan has used live possums, trapped by hunters, fattened on cat food and turned loose after they are lowered slowly by a rope from the roof of his gas station.

On Wednesday, the day the New York Times published a piece on the Possum Drop, Logan got a call from a man who said he represented People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, headquartered in Norfolk, Va.

Debbie Leahy, director of PETA's captive animals and entertainment issues, said she did not know which member made the call, but she said the event was "perverse, reckless and terrifying to the possum."
"But I can't fight these people," he said. "Not with lawyers and all."
Typical. And the country cousin wasn't savvy enough in city ways to call their bluff.

However, anyone who has had any first hand experience with possums knows that they aren't, shall we say, too "sprightly". Even more than cat food, what they mostly like is a good snooze. So Clay had a solution - roadkill:
So, with hours to go and the crowd building, Logan put the word out: Find me a possum, a dead one.

The drop has had setbacks before. Snow, rain, lighting problems. But there had always been a possum.

Finally, Logan's friends found a downed possum in pretty good shape and quickly hoisted it up to the roof of the Citgo station. Most people thought it was alive, even after Logan announced it was roadkill.
As fireworks popped and lovers kissed, the dead possum swung from a Citgo sign. And as the festivities ended, many revelers trudged away, saying their small-town fun had been spoiled by big-city ways.

"Hell of a way to start the new year, saluting a dead possum," said Steve Barringer, a blacksmith.
You can visit the Brasstown folks at Watch out for the Hillbilly Bubble Bath though.
"What me worry?"

Dean Was Warned on Lax Vt. Security
Presidential hopeful Howard Dean, who accuses President Bush of being weak on homeland security, was warned repeatedly as Vermont governor about security lapses at his state's nuclear power plant and was told the state was ill-prepared for a disaster at its most attractive terrorist target.
I liked Howie waxing lyrical the other day about security precautions over the holiday showing that the war on terror had failed. I guess his view is that we don't need no stinking security precautions.