Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II, RIP

There were giants in those days:
Ronald Reagan died just one day after President Bush bestowed the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, on Pope John Paul II for his heroic efforts to topple communism. Those two men, together with Margaret Thatcher, deserve much of the credit for the West's success in the Cold War.

As the nation mourns Ronald Reagan we should also pause to reflect that in the space of 27 months between 1978 and 1981 three such extraordinary leaders--each with the belief that evil must be confronted--should have come to power. Together they changed the world.
John Fund, June 7, 2004

I'm feeling real multilateral today! How about you?

But I doubt I'll pass the "global test." Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn't have to worry though - Justice Ginsburg Backs Value of Foreign Law:
"The notion that it is improper to look beyond the borders of the United States in grappling with hard questions has a certain kinship to the view that the U.S. Constitution is a document essentially frozen in time as of the date of its ratification," Justice Ginsburg said.

"Even more so today, the United States is subject to the scrutiny of a candid world," she said. "What the United States does, for good or for ill, continues to be watched by the international community, in particular by organizations concerned with the advancement of the rule of law and respect for human dignity."
Zzzz - it's a barking dog story. We already knew about Ruthie's favorite chew toy.

Then there's ole Dileep Nair who is one of the featured players in the 2nd Volcker report on United Nations corruption:
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday launched disciplinary action against the man in charge of ethics at the United Nations, as the Iraq oil-for-food scandal continued to sweep through the world body.

A U.N. spokesman announced that a "charge letter," which begins formal administrative proceedings, has been sent to Dileep Nair, head of the United Nations' Office of Internal Oversight, the agency responsible for auditing the oil-for-food and other U.N. programs.
In a formal response to the inquiry, Nair maintained that he is an independent operator and the secretary-general has no authority to investigate him.
Regardless, there will shortly be a vacancy in the executive suite at the United Nations and EU Referendum gives us a hint as to who is in line for the job:
Word reaches us from another blogiste-confrère that there might be an interesting development in the career of one Franz-Hermann Brüner, at present Director-General of OLAF, the Commission’s own anti-fraud unit, that has been embroiled in more scandals than Enron.

Its most recent achievement was a report, which we shall cover in more detail, that showed beyond any possible doubt (well, errm, beyond any doubt that members of OLAF might have) that the millions of euros handed over to the Palestinian Authority over the years could not possibly have gone to any terrorist organization.

Mind you, they have no idea where it did go and for some reason none of it actually went to the Palestinian people, but that has not stopped OLAF from pronouncing on the subject.

So where do you think Franz-Herman Brüner might be going? Give up? I’ll tell you.
Sounds like a perfect candidate!

Finally, Joseph Kahn at the NY Times breathlessly informs us that If 22 Million Chinese Prevail at U.N., Japan Won't:
A grass-roots Chinese campaign to keep Japan out of the United Nations Security Council has gathered some 22 million signatures, increasing the chances that China will block Japan's bid to join the elite group, organizers and analysts said Thursday.

The petition effort, conducted through popular Chinese Web sites, enjoys tacit support from the government, which has allowed state-controlled media to cover the campaign prominently.
Sheesh, it's a Web petition. I was going to make fun of Kahn as a clueless n00b who didn't know that Web petitions aren't worth the paper they aren't printed on, but the Chinese and Japanese governments aren't any better:
By allowing millions of people to sign their names to a petition against Japan, Beijing's new leadership seems determined to show that recent Japanese actions have so inflamed popular sentiment that China has no choice but to adopt a tougher diplomatic line.
In Tokyo, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "The Chinese government has said the U.N. needs reform, so we believe that the Chinese and Japanese governments both have the same type of feeling and thinking on this issue."

"The petition itself is being conducted by private citizens and, according to press reports, the same petitioners' names keep appearing," the spokesman, Hatsuhisa Takashima, said. "So we just don't know how valid this petition effort is."
Ya think?
The effort to rally anti-Japan sentiment in China began in late February, when several overseas Web sites began circulating a petition directed at the United Nations, which is currently debating a blueprint for changing its governing structure.

It gathered momentum last week when leading Chinese Web sites, including portals like Sina, Sohu and Netease, advertised the drive with links on their main pages. Some sites allow users to register their names through text messages sent from mobile phones.

After initially aiming to collect one million signatures, organizers now say they think they can gather 30 million before they present the petition to Secretary General Kofi Annan. The New China News Agency reported Thursday that 22.2 million Chinese had signed the petition so far.

"The response was far beyond our expectations," said Lu Yunfei, who has led several grass-roots protests against Japan. "No one - not the United Nations nor the Chinese government - can ignore so many people expressing their views."

There was no way to independently verify whether 22 million people had in fact signed the petition or whether they all did so voluntarily. But many Web sites kept their own tallies of how many people had signed up through their portal, and there were no telltale indications that the effort had been centrally organized.
Duh! Sheesh, toss me a few bucks and I'll provide as many signatures as you want. Toss me a few more and they won't all be named Hugh Jorgasm or Ben Dover.

Friday, April 01, 2005

These aren't April Fools' jokes

The Telegraph amazes today with a bumper crop of beauties. How about UK challenges subsidy for elite Euro-schools?
The Government is preparing for a showdown with its European Union partners over the more than £14 million that Britain spends every year subsidising a network of elite schools for the children of EU bureaucrats.

Few taxpayers have even heard of the "European Schools", established 50 years ago to provide a free, highly academic education for the children of EU officials and accredited diplomats.
Sounds like the Soviet Union - the children of the apparatchiks go to special schools where they are indoctrinated in the dogmas of the Party:
The European schools teach a special curriculum with a strong emphasis on foreign languages, as well as the culture and values of the EU, leading to a unique "European Baccalaureate" qualification.

The schools' mission statement says pupils "shall become Europeans in spirit, while preserving their love and pride for their own countries, and shall be well prepared to complete and consolidate the work undertaken by their fathers, towards the creation of a united and prosperous Europe".
Then there's RAF 'not good enough' for SAS parachute training:
The Special Air Service is to move its parachute training to the United States because it believes that the Royal Air Force no longer has the skills to train its soldiers in Britain.
And I like Police officers tell robbery victim to carry out the investigation herself:
Linda Currie, a 49-year-old shop assistant, said the two officers dispatched to her off- licence in Liverpool declined her offer of taking away security footage of the incident.

Instead, they asked her to watch it herself and to call them if she saw "anything valuable" on the tape.

When she told them that she recognised one of the perpetrator's friends and knew that he could be found at an address 200 yards away, they suggested she call there herself. One policeman told her: "He would probably tell you more than he will tell us.''
Gosh, they did show up 25 minutes after she called the emergency number when the guy was pounding on the glass partition! No word on whether she has to try, convict, and carry out the sentence too.

And how about a little UN fun - Lack of gipsy sites 'breaches UN racial guidance':
A fresh row over gipsies' human rights loomed last night after claims that failure to provide accommodation sites could breach UN rules on racial discrimination.

The all-party Lords and Commons committee on human rights warned that lack of official traveller sites compared with "the accommodation for the settled community" could fall foul of the main UN treaty on racial and ethnic discrimination.
Hey, we have gypsies and travellers in the USA too! Who knew that it was the duty of us in the "settled community" to provide campgrounds for nomads?

While you're there, don't miss the effort to get a pardon for Anne Boleyn and do check out the psychologists studying why men go to lapdancing clubs.

I wonder how much newspapers pay to subscribe to the Washington Post News Service?

I hope it's not a lot. I guess being the WaPo means you never have to say you're sorry for bogus stories.

Nerds gone wild!

The folks at Microsoft have been so intent on beating Google at Internet search that MSN Search is plumbing previously unknown nooks and crannies in the Web and folks are getting caught in the mud splatter - Horrible Scandal Kills My Career:
I'm not sure I can continue blogging (or even working within the North American continent). Apparently, MSN Search discovered some horrifying and embaressing sites with my name all over them. Someone forwarded me this search for "Nathan Weinberg" on MSN Search. The MSN Search spiders are so powerful, they are detecting things I thought would be buried forever.
Ruh Roh! Look at some of the stuff it digs up on Kofi Annan:
Results 1-12 of 20733 containing Kofi Annan (0.23 seconds)
Oil Prices soar, Kofi Annan's SUV gas-guzzler is blamed
International oil markets hit new highs today on increased usage of Kofi Annan's SUV. "It's such a gas guzzler, and he uses it so much, it's really driving the market right now," financial analyst Andrew DiBella told INTERNATIONAL TRADE WEEKLY. When contacted about this story, a defensive Annan yelled that he "made a donation to Ducks Unlimited already!" and slammed down the phone. Cached page
Outdoorsman's Recap: Annan is still picking feathers out of his gears can give a person a Trek 520 mountain bike, and point him toward the trail, but this is still Kofi Annan were talking about. After the accident, someone had to call the cops, and then we had to get the owl to the vet... Cached page
Hyperactive guru Kofi Annan says, "Fidgeting: it's not just for limbs anymore!"
We've all been places where pacing, coin-flipping, or even finger-drumming is discouraged. Church, for instance. When I'm at a church service with energy to burn, I wiggle my ears! Unlike some "stealth fidgets," suck as clenching alternate butt cheeks, an ear-wiggler is the last person you'd accuse of being... Cached page

Kofi Annan, "mesmerized" by reflection of self in oncoming car windshield, hospitalized after accident
"Of course Im not going to press charges! After all, if *I* was totally transfixed by the image of myself coming closer and closer to me, I can only imagine what it must have been like for the driver! Besides, the pain was worth it for that one minute where I thought I had finally met someone as good looking as I am... Cached page

Kofi Annan Movie Reviews: SID AND NANCY: Best date movie EVER
...takes me back to the first time You Know Who and I ever kissed. I can still remember what it felt like to pass that cigarette butt back and forth... Cached page

Be careful out there!

It's April Fools' Day and I know what you're thinking, Bucky:
Although slightly dampened by the prevailing culture of hair-trigger litigation and political correctness, April Fools' Day is still the only acceptable occasion to humiliate friends and employers in front of as wide an audience as possible.
Well, be warned:
Would-be pranksters beware, however. April Fools' Day-related lawsuits are not uncommon, and lawyers and psychologists say that the damage from a prank gone awry can be lasting and costly. "Some people are fragile and some people aren't; it's important to know the difference," said Dr. Robert R. Butterworth, a psychologist who specializes in trauma and who truly exists. "It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt."

Melissa Jurist, a television researcher, can attest to that. While she was standing transfixed at the copy machine a few years ago, a co-worker placed a clammy chicken foot on her bare shoulder. In an act of pure reflex, she swung around and whacked the man in the face, drawing blood.

"I felt terrible," she said, "but he felt worse."
More anecdotes by following the link including the always exciting April Fools' Day parade in Manhattan, which this year features:
SpongeBob SquarePants and impersonators standing in for former Gov. James E. McGreevey of New Jersey and the filmmaker Michael Moore, who will goad spectators to spar him on his own "wrestling float."

Sounds like a real crowd pleaser.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

It'll take a big man

To fill Sandy Berger's pants.

Web fun alert!

American Realpolitik points us to some web gadgetry with a variety of uses. How about Mars attacks moonbat Margo?

(Fetching Margo Kingston garments link via the vast fashion collection of Tim Blair.)

Today's Hoot!

From the transcript:
Host: "Is there anything nanotechnology can do about Kofi Annan?"

Glenn: "All technologies have their limits."

And here I thought they were just lying crapsacks

Maybe The UN's Problem Is Mathematical Illiteracy

Punk wish fullfillment

RIP Terri Schiavo. I tend to think of Mikey as Joey Buttafucco with a marginally higher IQ.

(Graphic from original post here.)

It's too early in the morning for stuff like this

Ward Churchill at Anarchist Bookfair:
LGF operative zombie’s photo essay on Ward Churchill’s appearance at the Anarchist Bookfair is now open for viewing, and the freakishness on display cannot be overstated. You’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know about San Francisco’s latest body modification fad.
There are lots of candidates for the coveted King Freak award (including ole Wingnut Ward), but the "scrotal inflation" guy takes the prize on my scorecard. Is that a cantaloupe in your shorts or are you just glad to see Ward?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I don't want to know what they are going to outsource next

Outsourcing phone sex from call centers in India!

It's deja vu all over again!

Another day, another scandal for UN:
A RISING United Nations star who played a key role in organising the Iraqi elections has been accused of running an office in which favouritism, misuse of funds and sexual harassment were rife.

Carina Perelli, the outspoken Uruguayan director of the UN electoral assistance division and the youngest woman at her level in the organisation, had won praise for her work in setting up the Iraqi elections on dangerous trips to Baghdad.
I expect her "setting up of Iraqi elections" was rather like the way the United Nations "organized tsunami relief" - they held the press conferences. But let's get to the juicy stuff. And I do mean juicy:
The report, by the Swiss consulting company Mannett S.A.R.L., found the work environment in Ms Perelli’s unit to be “offensive” and “abusive”.

“Those interviewed indicated that a constant sexual innuendo is part of the ‘fabric’ of the division,” it said. “They referred to a steady stream of sexual jokes, references and behaviours within the division which the director believes are ‘conducive to collegiality’.”
Woohoo! Ole Carina is just friendly, I guess.
Such behaviour included “unwelcome advances/sexually suggestive behaviours”, “unwelcome sharing of sexual behaviours and exploits” and even references to a “dominatrix” in an office exam. Staff also complained of “references to and inquiries into the most intimate details of the sex lives of staff members”, including public humiliation with respect to their responses to those inquiries”.
Party animals fer sure! And then there's the little stuff:
The report accused Ms Perelli and some other officials of using at least one political affairs officer and some secretaries to run personal errands. It also raised concern about the “perceived misuse” of UN funds for travel.

The consultants cite concern about “frequent, unjustifiable mission travel to Latin American destinations in particular”.
Hey, what's a UN gig without expense padding? But not to worry, fun lovers!
Ms Perelli, 48, who holds the high UN rank of D2, allegedly boasted: “There’s nothing they can do to me. I’m the youngest D2, a woman from a developing country.”
"She'll have fun fun fun 'til her daddy takes the T-Bird away."

I was going to rant about it ...

But John Hawkins does it more crisply - When Reporting The News Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Report The News.

Don't go home mad, just go home

11 Passengers Taken Off Plane As Suspected Illegal Immigrants:
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Nearly a dozen passengers were escorted off a Southwest airlines flight Tuesday and taken into custody, suspected of being illegal immigrants.
Authorities said that an air marshal who was on the flight overheard some people talking about being smuggled into the U.S. The air marshal then contacted immigration and customs officials who met the plane.
Wait for it.
The other passengers reportedly cheered when authorities removed the suspected illegal immigrants.
They'll probably be released on their own recognizance shortly. Meanwhile in Virginia:
Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) signed a measure Tuesday that tightens laws prohibiting illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits, including Medicaid and public assistance.
"It's very disappointing," said Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada (D), who serves as chairman of the Virginia Latino Advisory Commission, which Warner established two years ago. "It serves no other purpose but to fan the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment . . . and that is simply wrong."
Ole Wally must be confused - he clearly meant "anti-illegal alien sentiment." And I wonder why he thinks it's a bad thing? Of course, the really big bucks go to education and regular medical care for our "new neighbors," but the judicial elite has decreed they're entitled, so there isn't much us serfs can do about it.

Speaking of which - Judge Bars Transfer of 13 Gitmo Detainees. Who knew a DC Federal District Court judge had jurisdiction over Guantanamo? Give 'em time - they'll be whining about shooting terrorists without reading them "their rights" soon.

They're the United Nations - they're here to help!

Help themselves, at least. But when they aren't distracted by Kofi Annan's mood swings and Iqbal Riza's excessive paper shredding, they can always find some busywork as James Morrow describes in The Australian:
But even if Annan's days -- if not those of the UN -- are numbered, that does not mean that the busybodies of Turtle Bay, New York, and Geneva, Switzerland, are not still finding plenty of things to do. Like meddle in Australian politics, for example. In a fantastic example of being critical of the speck in someone else's eye while missing the plank in one's own, the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has come to the conclusion that human rights and multicultural tolerance in John Howard's Australia are as rare as Tasmanian tigers.
The report, available through the website of the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights (, makes for some entertaining reading -- and is also a cautionary tale about the dangerous fallacy of "international law".

One of the committee's big problems in the report is that some Australian states and territories have mandatory sentencing requirements for certain crimes. This is problematic for the UN because more indigenous people are sent to jail under these laws than members of other ethnic groups -- something which, in the perverse correlation-proves-causality logic of the UN, proves Australia racist. (The idea that mandatory sentences might also lead to a colour-blind judiciary apparently never occurred to them.) Under UN thinking, Australia's democratically elected state and territorial governments are free to make their own laws -- so long as they don't offend a body whose voting members are mostly very non-democratic countries.
And those pesky Aussies have a bad attitude too!
Alexander Downer had the courage to say: "We are a democratically elected government in one of the most liberal and democratic countries you will find on earth. And if a UN committee wants to play domestic politics here in Australia, then it will end up with a bloody nose."

These days, the UN has got a lot more than a bloody nose - it is also facing a crisis of legitimacy that has been coming for years. From the start, its biggest problem has been that, to paraphrase the old joke about the Holy Roman Empire, it is neither united nor comprised of nations. Far too many of the member-states did not earn their nationhood in any sort of real way (by, say, populating and cultivating territory or fighting a war of independence) but because someone a long time ago drew some lines on a map. And as modern history has proven, the resulting governments treat their citizens with about as much respect. For the UN to call Australia out for racism and human rights violations would be a joke if it weren't so serious.
Ruh roh! Hey, not to worry! Perceptions will change when the UN takes over the Internet.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Is the United Nations a neverending source of entertainment or what?

Today the second Volcker report was released and Roger Simon has read it so you don't have to:
UPDATE: I have been reading the report. So far I can say this much -- anyone who thinks Kofi Annan is the man to reform the United Nations has the intelligence of a gnat or the morals of Saddam Hussein.

MORE: Reading the report, you come to the conclusion that in a normal (non-UN) situation many of the people involved would quite simply go to jail, but here there is no apparent jurisdiction. An example is the former UN Chef de Cabinet S. Iqbal Riza who directed his assistant to shred many documents concerning Oil-for-Food. His assistant wondered if she should be doing this with so many documents but Mr. Riza told her to go ahead and scrawled his gratitude on the memorandum: "Fine. Thanks. (A heavy task!)" Besides being hugely corrupt, Mr. Riza is evidently something of a nitwit for leaving a paper trail. Riza destroyed three years' worth of documents!
If you're unfamiliar with the term "Chef de Cabinet", it basically means he was Kofi Annan's chief of staff. I don't how good he was at that, but good ole Iqbal sure knew how to cover his nether region! And then there's the goods on Kofi's son Kojo's little "business venture" with the Oil-for-Food program including this revelation:
The report indicates that Kojo Annan is no longer cooperating with the committee. According to my sources... and you know who they are if you have been following the posts below... this has been true since November.
Gosh! Why would that be?

As for the old man:
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, asked Tuesday if he would resign after a critical report concerning the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq, replied, "Hell, no."
"After so many distressing and untrue allegations have been made against me, this exoneration by the independent inquiry obviously comes as a great relief," he said.
I guess ole Kofi's not paying attention. Either that or he's on the "up" part of his mood cycle.

Spring Break Alert!

And now it isn't for students only - Profs Gone Wild! Extreme Ultimate Spring Break Volume 6:
Get ready for even more of the ultimate spring break intellectual experience! You won’t believe the academic insanity as Iowahawk’s Dave Burge and his inquiring camera crew catch real live college faculty getting their freak on at the beach… in the clubs…. even the hot transgressive action back in their hotel symposia! From Rocky Mountain ski lodges to the beaches of Florida and Cuba, to the hot sun of Texas and across the border to Mexico where anything goes, this all-new video is the biggest, craziest, most blazing Profs Gone Wild spring break video yet! Profs Gone Wild: Extreme Ultimate Spring Break Volume 6 – It’s Hot, Tenured, and Out of Control!

Just how hot? Check it out this uncensored clip of the apres ski hot tub action in Vail, when Dave and crew encounter an unsuspecting Native American Studies chairman from the nearby University of Colorado!
Ruh Roh! Much more by following the link.

Didn't she used to be in ABBA?

We benighted rednecks in the states don't get exposed to the finer things in life like Margot Walström, the Swedish Socialist blonde joke who is now the EU Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication. That's apparently the fancy name for head spinner in the campaign for the EU Constitution. Or as Margot says:
"Europe builds roads, bridges and railways in order to bring people closer together. Now we have to strengthen contacts between people."
Woohoo! Anyhow, as with all trendy politicians everywhere, ole Margot has a blog to spread the joy, but there's trouble in Happyland:
It appears that that the "colleagues" are getting a little nervous about the proliferation of free speech on the Margot Walström Blog.

Confronted with a surge of pointed comments from a band of articulate Eurosceptics, England Expects informs us that, in an attempt to repel boarders, commission press official David Monkcom has issued a plea for assistance on the commission's internal notice board, 'intracomm'.
Calling all bureaucrats! Grab your coffee mugs and man (or woman) the rail to repel boarders!
Interestingly, while the payroll vote is being mobilised to lend support to the fragrant Margot, we note that the one person most notably reluctant to face the sceptics and "answer their very probing questions" on the comments section of the Margot Walström Blog is er… Margot Walström.
Politicians and blogs - there ought to be a law. Wait, don't tell the EU bureaucrats that! They might try to regulate it.

It's not all bad news!

(Via LGF) Phony Indian, phony artist, and phony scholar Ward Churchill showed up in San Francisco last week to peddle his book and swap a little spit with the resident moonbats. LGF reader zombie files a report complete with photos. Is that a cross cultural experience or what?

But there is a hopeful note - they clearly know which end of the chicken produces the manure.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Self inflicted injury alert!

The Sunday Telegraph had an article titled Free Saddam and jail Blair? describing the turmoil in UK government circles over whether the war in Iraq was "legal" under some nebulous definition of "international law" and how this provides a nasty problem for Tony Blair who loves the International Criminal Court. Frankly, the whole thing struck me along the lines of the old joke about the fellow who complains to his doctor that "It hurts when I do this." His doctor sensibly advises him, "Then don't do that." But unfortunately, Tony Blair and the Labor party are enamored of the fantasy of "international law". Take it away, EU Referendum:
In the first place, what is international law? Until recently, it consisted of various agreements between countries or organizations that dealt with matters such as maritime rules, airlines, radio wavelengths etc etc. On top of that there are commercial agreements and conventions. All this clearly comprehensible.

There is also the slightly more difficult concept of war crimes, based on the Geneva Convention. The best known occasion when war criminals were tried was in Nurenberg after the Second World War.

While, it is unquestionably true that those on trial had broken every agreement and convention in the book, there is a certain uneasy feeling around the whole procedure, induced by the presence of a Soviet judge and the Soviet prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky, who had been the prosecutor in the show trials of the thirties.
Since then the concept of war guilt has acquired an undoubted political aspect, with the words being flung around at all international congresses, usually at Americans and other westerners, with little mention of the mass murders perpetrated by left-wing dictatorships up and down the world.

All of which makes the notion of an agreed international law impossible. Once again, as with other international and transnational organizations, a structure with documents to back it, in this case the International Criminal Court, is being put in place of real content. And, as an inevitable corollary, unacceptable and unaccountable power is given to the international legal and political elite.

In the months leading up to the Iraqi war, another aspect of this convoluted situation became apparent. On no basis whatsoever, the United Nations, a political organization, created for purely political purposes, full of members who have no concept of legality within their own countries and run by a completely unaccountable and, as is increasingly obvious, seriously corrupt bureaucracy, has suddenly claimed the position of being an arbiter in international law.
Hey, why not? They're real familiar with sexual and financial criminality!
The argument that something is legal because a bunch of politicians, international lawyers and civil servants, all of whom have a vested interest in constructing more and more international organizations, say so is illogical by any definition. That is why it leads inexorably to the conclusion that Saddam Hussein should be restored in Iraq and Tony Blair tried by an international court.
Easy solution, Tony - stop doing that.

Mark Steyn also weighs in with Blair? Once a lawyer, always a lawyer...:
Every couple of months I pick up a paper and read something about Lord Goldsmith's view on the likely illegality of the Iraq war. And I think, "Hang on, didn't I read this story back in January?" - or October, or June, or whenever this indestructible "controversy" last reared its head. And I get to the bit about Baroness Kennedy calling for an investigation into what Clare Short has revealed - or possibly vice versa - and my eyes glaze over and round about paragraph four I flip to the books page and Barry Norman's review of Halliwell's Illustrated Guide to Great Lesbian Movie Scenes.

My take on "international law" was summed up by John Bolton, America's new ambassador to the UN: "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law."

Just so. Sadly, that sort of talk is a tad too strong for the multilateral cocktail circuit, which takes this "international law" business awfully seriously. A year or so back, you'll recall, the Pentagon declared the axis of weasels - France, Germany, Russia - ineligible for Iraqi reconstruction contracts, and an outraged Gerhard Schröder protested that this act was illegal under international law. President Bush took it in his stride. "International law?" he giggled. "I better call my lawyer. He didn't bring that up to me."

Great line. The difference between George W Bush and Tony Blair is that when Blair says, "International law? I better call my lawyer", he's not joking. Hence his ongoing difficulties.
Once again, Tony, stop doing that.
Two years ago - March 15, 2003 - I wrote in this space that Bush had been prevailed upon to "go the UN route" to give his closest ally some (pseudo-legal) cover and "the end result is that we'll be going to war with exactly the same participants as we would have done last August, and the one person weakened by going the UN route is the very one it was designed to protect: Mr Blair. The best way to help Blair would have been to get the war over six months ago."

That would have been best for the Americans, too. While Colin Powell and co were going that interminable "extra mile" for Blair, back in the badlands the Saddamites, the Islamists, Iran and Syria had six months to plan an insurgency that would have been far less virulent had Iraq followed hard on Afghanistan. There were real consequences to Mr Blair's excessive deference to multilateral mumbo-jumbo beyond any hypothetical fears of a wrongful dismissal suit by Saddam.

More importantly, the uniquely lasting damage to his reputation reminds us that in the coalition of the winning's inner counsels - America, Britain, Australia - Mr Blair is the odd one out. Bush and John Howard are soul mates not just on Iraq but in their general contempt for old-school poseur multilateralism. Indeed, the Aussies are far more open about their views on the UN and "international law" than even the Bushies. By contrast, Blair thought he could somehow square the activist liberationist Bush doctrine with the whole tired Security Council/ICC/Hague/EU circus. You can't. They're mutually incompatible. The problem with the entire concept of "international law" is that it can ensnare a Tony Blair while never laying a finger on a Saddam Hussein. A "legalistic" regime of global relations confers an inviolable sovereignty not on countries or peoples but on every tinpot thug holding down the presidential palace. Bush and John Howard are under no illusions about this postmodern concept of sovereignty. Tony Blair is.
Tony, you really have to stop doing that.

As usual with Steyn, you need to read the whole thing.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Today's Hoot!

(Hat tip: Slashdot) Two weeks ago I didn't get around to the story about Jacques Chirac's knickers getting knotted over the Google plan to put a large number of English books online with the help of some American and UK universities. Well, now the big counterattack has been revealed - Europe's response to Google to be managed by... Microsoft?:
...but I was brought up short by the end of an article by Béatrice Gurrey et Emmanuel de Roux in Le Monde on 3/16/2005:
In the mind of the chief of state, it's a question of building an alter ego to the american project, before thinking of an eventual collaboration with Google, so as not to negotiate from a position of weakness. Would the president be ready to make a deal with Google's competitor, Microsoft, since he has so many views in common with its president, Bill Gates, whom he has long welcomed to the Elysée? "Why not?", respond M. Chirac's advisors.
I don't want to encourage any facile Microsoft-bashing here. I often use Microsoft software, generally without complaints, and I have a lot of respect for the research carried out at Microsoft Labs. Still, the idea of Bill Gates being enlisted by Jacques Chirac to defend the world's citizens from the crushing domination of American culture... Well, words fail me, that's all.

With respect to this same idea, La République des Lettres commented, under the headline La Grande Bibliothèque Virtuelle de Jacques Chirac:
It seems nevertheless like a bad beginning to hear the suggestion of the advisors of the President of the Republic -- in any case a great friend of Bill Gates, the great american supplier (?) of french administrations, welcomed several times with all the honors of the Elysée Palace -- not excluding an association with Microsoft to accomplish this digitization program against american domination. LOL (rolling on the floor laughing), as they say on the internet.
Um, guys, that would be the acronym ROFL, or else the translation should be whatever the French idiom for "laugh out loud" is -- "rire tout haut"?
More fun by following the link.

Forget the violin - a whoopee cushion is better for this "tale of woe"

The Salt Lake Tribune alerts us to another tale of illegal alien angst - Driving cards force some tough choices:
In 1990, Hilda Werner spent roughly $7,000 to be smuggled into California, where she and her two young boys ran across the U.S.-Mexico border in the rain.
But now, 15 years later, she is giving up her American dream and returning to Mexico because, Werner says, she is tired of working hard and still being treated like a second-class citizen.
Earth to Hilda! You aren't a citizen of any kind! But don't let us keep ya.
The last straw was Utah's new law that denies a driver license to undocumented immigrants and provides instead a driving privilege card.

Among Utah's community of undocumented residents, Werner's decision might be unusual. But it illustrates the angst and hard feelings caused by Utah's new law, part of a national trend of anti-immigrant legislation passed across the country in recent years, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Has to be a typo - they must have meant anti-illegal immigration legislation. I'm sure The Salt Lake Tribune couldn't really have confused legal immigrants with illegal aliens.
The Utah law, prompted by Senate Bill 227, allows only people with a Social Security number to get a state identification card or driver license, leaving residents who have a U.S. visa - and roughly 60,000 undocumented residents - with only one alternative: If they want to drive legally in Utah, they need to get a driving card.
A driving card will look similar to a driver license, but instead of "Utah Driver License" in white lettering, it will say "Utah Driving Privilege Card" in red, said Jill Laws, the driver license division's records bureau chief. Driving cards also will say "Driving privilege only not valid ID for UT govt entity" in red lettering. Werner, 44, said she is hurt and frustrated that the state would take away her license even though she has been "a good person" and driver.

"I have so much dignity. I don't want to get a 'permission' to drive," she said shaking her head. "I feel like I am being put down."
Earth to Hilda! You're not paying attention!
Like many other undocumented residents, Werner said her license makes her feel "secure" and part of the community. Without it, she'll feel "useless." Werner is scared that people might discriminate against her if she uses a driving card as a form of identification to write a check. She said she feels like she doesn't belong here any longer.
Any longer? Do you think she has ever seen a clue?

While an extreme example of the illegal angst story, it's still fairly typical, right? Wait, there's more:
Werner, who married a U.S. citizen four years ago, said she is giving up on trying to obtain legal status because of the long process and confusing paperwork as well as the new anti-immigrant laws popping up across the country.
So she could be a citizen, but can't be bothered to fill out the "confusing paperwork". Makes you wonder how she did on the traditional American confusing paperwork that comes due every April 15. I've been working on mine and I get the feeling I paid for too many Hildas this year. I also wonder whose Social Security number she used for her various places of employment.

There are more anecdotes by following the link and I'm sad to say "anti-immigrant" is used incorrectly throughout, including by a BYU immigration-law professor who should know better. But it's not all bad - there's actually a quote from someone who noticed the basic problem with this whole deal:
Hatch, a 67-year-old retired teacher, said he can't believe the Legislature passed a law that recognizes undocumented residents and gives them the right to drive.
I was wondering about that too.

Some day Bobby Mugabe will get what he so richly deserves

Quiet chant of 'hungry, hungry' rouses a nation to oust Mugabe:
IT STARTED with a whisper, a mother besotted with grief at losing her son, people said afterwards. As she muttered the single word "hungry", the crowd around her shifted uneasily and looked scared. Nobody wanted a night in a Zimbabwean jail.

On a platform in front of them, their great leader Robert Mugabe was denouncing Tony Blair for "spending sleepless nights plotting how he can remove the Zimbabwe government" and telling them to "bury Blair, vote Zanu-PF". But then another woman, shaded from the sun by a large coloured umbrella, repeated the word: "Hungry."

The people of Gwanda had been gathered to hear the president tell them why his party, which has been in power throughout Zimbabwe's 25 years of independence, should be voted in for another term. Instead, they thought about the fact that the Lutheran priests who used to bring them food had been driven out by the government and a low chant of "hungry, hungry, hungry" reverberated through the crowd.

Agitated secret service men from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) started to take names. The 81-year-old president, perspiring behind his large, plastic-rimmed glasses, was hustled away. But the damage was done.

The story of the Gwanda rally may prove apocryphal but by the end of last week it was being recounted in villages and bars across the country. From Matabeleland to Manicaland, the refrain of "hungry" seemed to be on everyone's lips. Along rutted tracks winding between failed maize crops, one person after another held up open-fingered palms and said "chinja" or change, the slogan of the opposition.
Hope springs eternal. Bobby won't go quietly, but that's OK - as long has he goes.

Just trying to help!

Florida Cracker points out a problem with Harper's latest cover:
The cover of the March issue of Harper's magazine shows a group of Marine recruits. One of them is fading.

It's a story on going AWOL.

The recruit shown as fading is angry. He's Lance Cpl. Britian Kinder, an active duty Marine who's not the least bit AWOL. Neither are any of the other Marines on the cover. They're not too pleased either.
Giulia Melucci, vice-president for public relations for Harper's says the cover photo is merely decoration. There's no word on what her reaction would be if she were pictured on the cover of Time with a knife superimposed in her hand to illustrate a story on "Women Who Kill."
She's got some more suggestions too. I always like to help out, so above is my contribution for a dynamite Harper's cover featuring their wingnut editor, Lewis Lapham. Looking good, Lewis!

Michelle Malkin has more.