31 March 2004

We had to destroy the village to save it

Via The Edge of England’s Sword we have a web site about the habitats created by off shore oil rigs. These support coral, fish and a number of threatened or endangered species. Unfortunately, many of them are going to be torn down or removed because they’re, well, frankly it’s not clear why. Just because. As one “environmentalist” says, “I don’t care how many animals die. I want those structures gone”.

Posted by orbital at 5:02 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

30 March 2004

Green Flash

Via Inappropriate Response, here is a photo of the green flash. I’ve seen it once and it was indeed very green, very vivid, unmistakable. I’ve tried many a time since but haven’t managed to see it again.

Posted by orbital at 5:41 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

New frontiers in "Blame America First"

[source, source]

The Seattle Times has a Sunday section for kids called “Next,” and the current edition features an online poll that asks “Who do you blame for 9/11?” Three choices are offered: “Bush,” “Clinton” and “CIA.” There isn’t even a write-in category for those who blame the actual culprits, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

The American public is often accused of being parochial and isolationist, but here we have a major newspaper apparently unaware that there are actors on the world stage other than the USA.

P.S. The online poll has been changed to ask a completely different question.

Posted by orbital at 5:06 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Canadian government, snakepit of linguistic horror

[source, source]

Dyane Adam is in the fifth year of a seven-year term as Canada’s bilingualism cop, running a $17-million office that increasingly serves as the Grand Frere of linguistic enforcement and speech control. […]

But in her most desperate bid to create a healthy make-work environment, Adam commissioned a “sociolinguistic analysis” of the government, which was released yesterday. […]

Knowing French isn’t the same as talking French, she concludes, and is demanding “concrete measures” to force more francais into the daily fray.

How? Exactly? She doesn’t say. But success should “be a prerequisite in determining performance bonuses” for senior management. […]

It seems they [Francophones] prefer to communicate with their colleagues in English. And this, in turn, tends to discourage anglophones from talking in French.

“English-speaking respondents complain the francophones are too reluctant to speak French,” she notes.

And in a gasp of horror only a Franco-fanatic could muster, Adam has determined that “francophones sometimes use English when speaking to each other.”

The horror, the horror!

Posted by orbital at 10:01 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

29 March 2004

Oh Canada!

[source, source]

Corrections Canada won’t let guards at maximum security prisons wear stab-proof vests because it sends a confrontational “signal” to prisoners. “If you have that kind of presence symbolized by (a stab-proof vest), you’re sending a signal to the prisoner that you consider him to be a dangerous person,” said Tim Krause.

Did the people who run Canada ever move on from student government in high school?

Posted by orbital at 4:08 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Reaping what you have sown

[source]

a UNC-Chapel Hill English instructor who slammed a student—publicly, unrelentingly, by name, in writing—for expressing views she found distasteful. Class discussion had roamed onto the subject of how gay and straight men relate to one another, and one student reportedly said that his Christian beliefs led him to disapprove of homosexuality. He related the story of a friend who had found another man’s sexual advances “disgusting.” Shortly afterward, the instructor, Elyse Crystall, sent an email to the course listserv condemning the student’s comments as “violent” examples of “hate speech” and announcing that she would not tolerate more such speech in her classroom. She wrote that he was a “white, heterosexual, Christian male” who thinks he is “entitled to make violent, heterosexist comments and not feel marked or threatened or vulnerable.”

Note that the student was truthfully expressing a personal opinion. There is no claim that the student actually threatened anyone in any way. I suppose the next time I tell someone that my culinary beliefs lead me to disapprove of mushrooms on a pizza and that seeing some one eat them is disgusting, I’ll be busted for “violent” comments.

But it gets better:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is now investigating the incident as a possible instance of—you guessed it—sexual harassment.

As David Bernstein notes,

the fact that radical feminists and criticical race theorists living in a society that has long been, and continues to be, hostile to their ideology would want to weaken the principle that government may not suppress expression because of hostility to its viewpoint seems counterintuitive and shortsighted, to say the least.

Oh, but such laws and regulations aren’t meant to apply to them!

Posted by orbital at 4:04 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

The heat goes on

The UN / Ba’ath Oil For Food scandal investigation is slowly gaining momentum. William Safire [source]

Never has there been a financial rip-off of the magnitude of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal.

Over in Iraq, the Coalition is planning to actively search for and investigate documents [source] related to the program.

Is this why the UN opposed the invasion?

Posted by orbital at 12:07 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

27 March 2004

Democratic Party takes in fleeing Iraqi memes

[source]

Entering McAuliffe’s new corner office, which is equipped as a TV studio, visitors walk over a doormat bearing a likeness of President Bush and the words, “Give Bush the Boot.” (my emphasis)

Well, that kind of thing worked so well for Saddam Hussein, why not try it here as well?

Posted by orbital at 10:47 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Sometimes you need to ask "what's in it for me?"

[source, source]

Over 60 prominent Palestinian officials and intellectuals Thursday urged the public to refrain from retaliation for Israel’s assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, saying it would ignite a new round of bloodshed that would only hurt Palestinian aspirations for independence.

[…]

The group called on the public to “rise again in a peaceful, wise intifada.” While saying the 37-year occupation must be brought down, they asked the public to reconsider the benefits of a violent struggle.

A very hopeful sign, but having spent decades creating a new generation of poorly educated youths full of hate and death, can they dismount the tiger?

Posted by orbital at 12:25 AM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

26 March 2004

Don't hurry back, part 2

[source]

Hmm. During Kerry’s last week of public campaigning, his numbers sank. After a few days holed up in Ketchum, Idaho, with the Clarke anti-Bush allegations getting huge play, he’s back up. … Kerry’s future campaign strategy seems clear: Stay on vacation until November! Let the media do his work for him. The less people see him the better he looks.

Just more evidence that Kerry’s vacation was a smart move.

Posted by orbital at 5:52 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

24 March 2004

That crazy cowboy way

[source]

Action:

A STATEMENT published on an Islamist website today purporting to be from al-Qaeda urged retaliation against the US and its allies for Israel’s killing of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Reaction:

“I’m worried about terrorist groups targeting America,” Bush said when asked about possible threats by Hamas against the United States. “Whether it be an Hamas threat, or an al Qaeda threat, we take them very seriously in this administration.”

Results:

Hamas officials later sought to reassure the United States, Israel’s chief ally, that they would confine their armed struggle to Israeli and Palestinian territory.

“It’s not in our policy to target Americans or American interests,” Hamas political leader Sayed Seyam told Reuters.

That’s just the kind of thing you’d expect from Bush’s crazy cowboy style. What was the problem with it again?

Posted by orbital at 3:36 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

It's Bush's fault: he should have become President earlier

[source]

BUSH CAN’T GET A BREAK: Now he’s being blamed for not invading Afghanistan in 1998! Here’s the relevant passage from MSNBC:

The report revealed that in a previously undisclosed secret diplomatic mission, Saudi Arabia won a commitment from the Taliban to expel bin Laden in 1998. But a clash between the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and Saudi officials scuttled the arrangement, and Bush did not follow up.

Damn him — governing Texas while Rome burned! Why didn’t he send the Texas Rangers to finish off Bin Laden? (“One mullah, one Ranger!”) Sheesh. Can you say “Freudian slip?”

It’s not as if anybody has the storyline on this figured out from the get-go or anything. . . .

Then there’s this from another story

One event that panel members found galling was why there was no retaliation by either administration for the bombing of the destroyer Cole in early 2001.

Maybe because the Cole was bombed on October 12, 2000?

The real question is, which is more embarrassing for the press - are they this full of heavy handed bias or suffering from so much Reality Dysfunction that they don’t see the problem?

Posted by orbital at 10:56 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

23 March 2004

Secretary of Nannyism

[source, source]

David Blunkett, the increasingly angry [UK] home secretary, is calling for “lifestyle punishments” to shape Britain into a less violent society. He wants the power to confiscate mobile phones and ban people from football matches. He is also wants to counter the “increasing portrayal of violence” on television. Which sounds like censorship.

The home secretary believes “lifestyle punishments” such as a mobile phone ban will be a more effective deterrent than traditional punishments.

I think the big problem will be deciding whether being sent to bed without one’s supper is in fact a punishment in the UK.

Posted by orbital at 10:50 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Not anti-war, just on the other side

[source]

Here are some quotes from protest signs at the recent “anti-war” rally:

  • I NY even more without the World Trade Center
  • End US Terrorism on North Korea
  • One Country, One People, One Korea
  • Death to America!

These are anti-war sentiments? It’s useful to keep in mind what the leading lights of the “anti-war” movement are willing to say in public.

Posted by orbital at 10:13 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

He needs to ask himself why they like him

[source, source]

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has attacked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a dubious democrat hostile to U.S. interests, delivering a slap in the face to the leftist leader who had portrayed Kerry as a potential friend.

The Kerry statement on his Web site made front-page news in Venezuela on Monday, nearly two weeks after Chavez had publicly praised the Democrat contender, hailing his health care plans and likening him to assassinated U.S. President John Kennedy.

At some point, if anti-American despots consistently come out to support you, wouldn’t a normal person begin to wonder what he’s doing to attact that type of person?

Posted by orbital at 11:57 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

22 March 2004

Thanks for serving, here's the bill

[source]

It happened after the first Gulf War. Some of the more than 250,000 reservists called up returned saddled with large child support arrearages they were unable to pay. As interest and penalties on the overdue support piled up, many spent years trying to dig themselves out of debt, while often facing unremitting government harassment. Some lost their driver’s licenses and business licenses. Others had their passports and bank accounts seized and their taxes intercepted. Some even faced jail.

Many reservists and guardsmen currently serving abroad are facing the same problem. Their child support obligations are based on their civilian pay, which is generally higher than active duty pay. When called up they are sometimes obligated to pay an impossibly high percentage of their income in child support. […]

Normally when an obligor loses his job or suffers a pay cut he can go to court and request a downward modification. However, since guardsmen and reservists are sometimes mobilized with as little as one day’s notice, few are able to obtain modifications before they leave. Worse, these soldiers cannot get relief when they return home because the federal Bradley amendment prevents judges from retroactively forgiving support.

Fortunately a workable solution to this problem was just introduced into the Illinois legislature by Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and Representative Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago). Senate Bill 2895 would require courts to modify the child support obligations of guardsmen and reservists stationed abroad by the same proportion that the soldier’s military pay falls below his civilian pay. The modification would be retroactive to the date the soldiers were called up to active duty, and the obligor would have six months from the date of his discharge from active duty to file for the reduction.

Missouri passed legislation to address this problem shortly before the first Gulf War, and the legislation has been effective in protecting fathers.

The child support snare faced by many reservists and guardsmen represents an avoidable and morally indefensible breach of faith with fathers who serve. All of us can agree that fathers should do right by their children. SB 2895 will ensure that the child support system does right by fathers.

Posted by orbital at 9:37 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Fessing up is good for the soul and electoral prospects

A considerable number of Americans - including many in the pro-war camp - believe this administration has not been forthright enough about the reasons for the intelligence failure. What the president should have done, in my view, was give a talk to the American people a few months ago, tell them exactly what we had and hadn’t found, and explain that, although some of the intelligence turned out to be flawed, he still took the right decision in the circumstances. Bush made too much of the WMDs before the war as a casus belli not to confront this issue directly when it emerged we were wrong. Instead, he acted defensively. He first denied there was a problem, then he dismissed the problem, then he justified his actions regardless, without taking full responsibility for the errors. In a word, it made him look insecure and weak. Yes, there was a risk in fessing up directly to an intelligence failure. But it turns out that the risk of simply ducking and spinning was greater. The reason he has lost standing is because insecurity is not something people look for in a war leader. There were many times that Churchill had to tell Britons of mistakes or failures or difficulties. When confronted with errors of the kind that Bush’s intelligence made in Iraq, a good war leader steps up to the plate. When asked about the lack of stockpiles of WMDs as opposed to evidence of possible WMD programs, such a leader doesn’t irritatedly respond, “What’s the difference?” Part of the Aznar lesson is that people don’t like being bamboozled. If Bush doesn’t learn that soon, he may learn it the hard way in November.

Andrew Sullivan

Posted by orbital at 12:37 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

EU Parliment signs off on budget to hot for the auditors

[source, source, source]

[…] when the Budgetary aurthority of the EU, the Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee (COCOBU) passes the Commssion’s accounts for 2002 I am saddened but hardly suprised.

After all 2002 was the year in which Marta Andreasen spilt the beans on how much fraud was going on. The Commssion’s own audit body, the Court of Auditors refused to sign the accounts, but the Parliament with it’s blyth indifference to finacial control, graft and corruption just signs them off as if nothing has happened. I am sure that one or two of the members made comments about how the Commssion must tighten up it’s act, but unless and until the Parliament turns to them and tells them that it will not do, there will be no change.

When I interviewed Diemut Theato MEP, Chairman of that Committee, on this subject she put it in a nutshell for me. “European Parliamentarians have a duty to Europe, not just to their electors”, if they attack the Commission they undermmine the project, and that will never ever do.

It’s only money, after all, and someone else’s at that.

Posted by orbital at 12:31 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

The importance of being politically correct

[source]

The UK’s Muslim News is reporting that Atlanta Plus, a feminist organization, is campaigning to have Muslim countries that don’t send female athletes barred from the Olympics for, effectively, ‘gender apartheid’ (South Africa was banned for years). The newspaper, of course, is predictably outraged, and, needless to say, descends into familiar ideological slime with suggestions of, wait for it, “cultural imperialism,” “racism” and “islamophobia.”

OK, so banning blacks from competing is wrong but banning women is just a cultural difference? If only the apartheid architects had used the multicultural terminology better!

Posted by orbital at 12:28 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

21 March 2004

Smoked Yassin

[source, source, source]

Israel Air Force helicopters fired missiles at Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin as he left a mosque near his house at daybreak Monday, residents said, and Hamas officials and witnesses said he was killed.

Darn nice shooting. Good to see the IDF is getting this aiming thing down.

Posted by orbital at 11:42 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Kerry past just keeps on giving

Senator John Kerry was a member of VVAW which was a hard core leftist group dedicated to smearing the US military in order to abandon South Vietnam to the clutches of the Communists in the North. At one point the VVAW leadership voted on whether to assassinate US senators. Kerry resigned shortly afterwards.

Right Wing News asks

  • Did Kerry attend that meeting or not?
  • If Kerry was there, why have his spokesmen denied he was present?
  • If he attended, why didn’t he inform the authorities that his group had considered assassinating US Senators?
  • Did the VVAW vote on other assassination plots while Kerry was a leader or member of the organization?
  • What were the vote totals?
  • If Kerry attended, what did he say in the meetings?

Good questions, and it’s important to note that this is all much better documented than claims of President Bush being AWOL.

Posted by orbital at 10:43 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Giving them what they want, good and hard

[source, source, source]

Many Palestinians here are brooding about the prospect of a sudden Israeli withdrawal, even though they have fought for the removal of Jewish settlers and soldiers for years. […]

But now that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appears poised to leave this 139-square-mile rectangle and its scattered Jewish settlements, which are difficult and expensive to defend, many Gaza residents are uncomfortable with the prospect and deeply suspicious of Israeli intentions.

Few of the 1.3 million Gazans have experienced life without a “Zionist enemy” to fight. Amid factional fighting and Israeli attacks, the Palestinian Authority is ill-prepared to take control should Israel leave. Many Palestinians say they worry that the evacuation is aimed at starting a Palestinian civil war.

Of course, the simple solution of not having a civil war is off the table. It’s too simplismé.

Posted by orbital at 10:02 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Every little bit helps

[source]

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was headed for a landslide election win on Sunday, as unofficial reports indicated his coalition had routed the Islamist opposition in the country’s Muslim Malay heartland.

[…] The government was always expected to win but early results showed the margin of victory was likely to be much more than expected.

“It looks like we’ve made a lot of gains in the Green Belt,” a well placed government source told Reuters, referring to Malay-dominated states where the influence of Islam is strongest.

Like the Communists, it looks like the time when Islamist parties can win electoral victories has passed. I wonder if even Algeria would vote in a Islamist party.

Posted by orbital at 9:45 AM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

20 March 2004

UN-daunted

[source, source]

United Nations personnel in Kosovo’s flashpoint town of Mitrovica have been evacuated following two days of ethnic violence, a United Nations spokesman said early on Friday.

“We have been evacuated,” the spokesman told Reuters by telephone from the ethnically divided town which suffered major violence, especially on Wednesday when about six Serbs and Albanians were killed there.

“We are in the French base,” he said, referring to NATO-led peacekeeping troops based in Mitrovica.

He gave no details on the reason for the evacuation.

Clearly the kind of people you want watching your back in a fight. Can someone tell me why the UN has any moral authority at all?

Posted by orbital at 10:33 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Jailer doesn't seem like a good choice either

[source, source]

Jordan’s King Abdullah secretly visited Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s ranch to voice concern over Israel’s West Bank barrier and plans to disengage from the Palestinians, a senior political source said on Friday.

[…] “The visit was meant to allay King Abdullah’s fears that construction of the fence will prompt a flight of Palestinians over the border into Jordan,” the source said about the controversial barrier now under World Court scrutiny.

[…] Israeli sources said Sharon promised the king to block any such mass movement.

OK, instead of planning on ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, Israel has now committed to physically prevent it?

Posted by orbital at 10:27 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Attempted assassination of Taiwan president, vice president

[source, source]

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian was shot while campaigning Friday, a day before a presidential election, but was not in critical condition, his spokesman told Reuters.

He had been rushed to hospital in the southern city of Tainan, officials said. Vice President Annette Lu was also wounded, but her condition was not yet known.

“It was a gunshot but he is not in critical condition,” James Huang, presidential spokesman, told Reuters.

Shouldn’t this be somewhat bigger news? An attempted assassination of the President of an important, allied nation? It hardly seems farfetched that there was involvement by the Chinese Communists, with the other rench-aided attempted intimidation

Posted by orbital at 10:11 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

It's been Dunn

[source, source]

Classes were canceled at all five Claremont colleges to protest a hate crime against a Claremont-McKenna psychology professor. Kerri Dunn’s car was vandalized and painted with anti-black and anti-Jewish slogans. She told students it was a “well-planned act of terrorism.” Now police say Kerri Dunn faked the whole thing.

I’m sure the Evil Ones thought about doing that, so what’s the problem?

Posted by orbital at 10:03 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

19 March 2004

A view of France

A guest post by Gabriel Gonzalez from Winds of Change, concerning the question “Is France behaving any differently than the USA on the world stage?”

France is no different from the US in that respect.

Bullshit. Let me break the rule that I had set for myself - in my first comment above - about not “arguing an issue that should not seriously be a matter of debate”.

I think Timmerman is right to point out France’s irresponsible dealings with Iraq, which included conditional oil contracts, huge infrastructure deals (construction, roads, utilities, etc.), as well as illegal weapons sales and maybe even bribes under the UN oil-for-food regime. This was a major part of French policy to undermine the sanctions regime, which was merely an aspect of its broader policy of triangulating against U.S. policy and promoting its commercial and strategic interests with corrupt regimes abandoned by the U.S. (Saddam, Iran, Sudan, Cuba…).

I don’t believe, as Timmerman, charges that this was a primary reason for opposing the Iraq war, but this would hardly seem to matter. Rather, I think France took a strategic (triangulating) gamble that it would oppose U.S. policy in the control of WMD, proliferation, and fighting the War on Terror, by aligning itself with third world dictatorships, the Arab world and the transnational third world/alter-globalization movements. The payoff is to come in the form of more defense, commercial and infrastructure contracts with third world countries, in particular oil rich Middle Eastern countries, and enhanced geopolitical prestige gained, it is hoped, at the expense of the U.S.

Before dismissing this view out of hand (and I can see why the average American would have trouble accepting this precisely because the U.S. could not pursue its interests in this manner without major condemnation by the rest of the world and by its own citizenry), consider what France has accomplished in the last twelve months (a non-exhausive list):

  • In the months following the Iraq war, France (through its foreign minister Dominique de Villepin), has courted repeatedly most of the Arab world (Sudan, Egypt, Iran, Palestinian Authority, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco), filling the void and the “triangulatable” space left behind by the U.S., in order to improve its diplomatic and commercial relations by presenting itself as an alternative pole for opposing U.S. strategic interests. (Just google de villepin’s itinerary over that period and this will become clear.)
  • Those interests now clearly extend to opposing U.S. policy for self-determination, liberalization and human rights in the Arab/Muslim world. Chirac recently announced in a joint meeting with Mubarek that it was opposed to the U.S. policy of encouraging liberalization, denouncing this as “interference” and favoring an “alternative” model of political development from within. Just as France’s “alter” model for “combating” terrorism by opposing U.S. “militarism” is based on nothing of substance, it’s “alter” model for political development in the Middle East would also appear to be little more than a front for promoting French commercial and strategic interests in the region, with the complicity of authoritarian regimes perfectly willing to agree to this “alter” political model.
  • Chirac’s 62% favorability rating in Morocco in the recent Pew survey of Middle East attitudes (I am citing this figure from memory), which is incredibly high for a former colony naturally indisposed to the French Republic, is part of the pay-off for its “alter” “third worldism”.
  • Through its policies, France has recently won defense contracts throughout the Middle East; all of which should be assumed to have been procured through bribery (you’ll just have to take my word for this), including sales of Leclerc tanks to the Emirates and Saudi Arabia (at a loss, I might add).

France has also announced a new policy of selling advanced arms to China and, just a couple of days ago, conducted joint military exercises off the China coast ahead of Taiwan’s elections. This was strongly protested by Taiwan, with whom France is embroiled in a dispute over French bribery to Taiwanese officials in connection with the sale of naval vessels. (The contract included a French warranty of no bribery and indemnification of Taiwan for the full amount of any bribery discovered, all to the great embarrassment of the French state.) As the U.S. is the guarantor of stability in Asia and protection of the democratic government of Taiwan, the French military exercises conducted with China were directed as much at the U.S. as at Taiwan.

What allows France to engage in such conduct much more freely than the U.S. is (i) a thoroughly corrupt business culture and state bureacracy (that has a paranoid view of itself as being in a fierce Machiavellian competition with a U.S. business establishment presumed to be equally or more ruthless), (ii) the demonization of an imperialist United States as a distraction, and (iii) the passive support of its citizenry.

This last point - the passive support of the citizenry - is very important to understand: unlike the U.S., France has effectively no political or citizen control over its foreign policy, which is a purely executive function. This stems from the relationship of the citizen to the State: whereas state power is perceived as inherently dangerous by Americans in our protestant liberal/libertarian tradition (I realize this description is imperfect and incomplete) of scepticism towards official power, the French centralized state is glorified by its citizenry as the ultimate protector of citizen interests, rather than as a danger to them. As a result, the citizenry has little interest in the details, substance or moral dimension of foreign policy, which are fully delegated and blindly entrusted to this Collective Protector. The French media may for example report on the sales of billions of dollars of Leclerc tanks to Saudi Arabia (mentioned above), but only as a matter of national economic pride in generating profits for French industry and jobs. (Despite France’s obsolete 19th Century political paradigm defining society as a struggle between evil capitalists and exploited workers, the fact is that GIAT Industries, which produces the Leclerc, is state-owned and one of the main purposes of selling military hardware at a loss to Arab states is to prevent lay-offs in the failing defense industries.)

When the French president or prime minister makes an official state visit to a foreign country (China, India, Brazil, Cuba, etc.), the major item of interested reported by the French media is how many billions of dollars in defense and infrastructure contracts are signed in the course of the official visit, the more the better. This is reported by the media with a shockingly crass stomach-turning obsession - crass, that is, unless you are French, in which case you are proud that your government is working for you. You really have to live in France to experience this. This unconsciously obscene state bureacratic commercialism in relation to foreign policy was exemplified by France’s naive attempt to have Woody Allen persuade us to “fall in love again” after the Iraq intervention last year, an example of a major failure in cross-cultural marketing policy.

One must keep in mind that the French do not oppose American foreign policy because of a high-minded objection to intervention, militarism, commercialism, etc. Nor is there any democratic or citizen checks on its foreign ventures. Otherwise, France could not have carried out its policy of installing and removing African dictators over the past 40 years resulting in three dozen interventions on that continent. Otherwise, France could not have been complicit in the backing of the Hutu genocide of the Tutsi in Ruanda. Otherwise, France could not have sold bomb-capable nuclear technology to Iraq in the 1970s and 1980s, it could not have sold 8 billion dollars in military equipment; it could not have been training Iraqi pilots in flying Mirage aircraft at the time of Iraq’s invasion of Kuweit; it could not have conducted bombing raids over Iran on behalf of the Hussein regime; nor could it now be openly advocating sales of advanced military hardware to China or conducting exercises to intimidate Taiwan (Cf. the Rumsfeld trip trumpeted by the left as supposed evidence of U.S. complicity in the Hussein regime.)

Rather the French view themselves as in competition with (a more ruthless) United States. The French naturally assume that everybody else is at least as cynical and morally depraved as they are, the only difference being that, in their view, the U.S. plays the game more viciously than they do, acquiring an unfair advantage.

I was listening to a debate over U.S. policy on French radio between MPs of the center-left (socialist) opposition and center-right coalition in power. After expressing universal agreement among themselves that the imperialist Americans were, after all, only interested in oppressive militaristic domination of a helpless country, seizing its oil reserves (in a bid now thought to have gone “awry”, given the economic absurdity of such a thesis) and, of course, enriching “Halliburton”, they proceeded to debate the “real” issues. This, by the way, is entirely reflective of the French establishment’s degree of contact with reality and ability to constructively engage the challenges of the modern world.

It is important to understand that, whereas the French are intimately familiar with Bush’s “sixteen words” about uranium in Africa, the “imminent” threat, the “Halliburton” contracts, Blair’s “forty-five” minutes, all duly provided as “news” by the U.S./U.K. media for recirculation with appropriate spin in the French media, the French citizenry know no more about the ins and outs of French foreign policy than you or I know, for example, about the agreed schedule for eliminating textile tarriffs in Southeast Asia under the WTO accords. Indeed, French foreign policy is viewed by the citizenry as a purely technical matter for unfettered implementation by the State of the interests of the collectivity - no questions asked.

Anyone who says that the U.S. (or the U.K. or Canada) acts just like France has no idea what they’re talking about, is making entirely unwarranted assumptions, and simply has not studied the question in any depth. (A good starting place would be to look at the history of France’s alliance with Israel, followed by its abandonment of that country for the sake of procuring market share in oil-rich Arab countries, or the real history of arms sales by France, Russia and China to Iraq.) Consider also the recent French reaction (public, official and media) to the scandals involving bribes in the sales of frigates to Taiwan as well as the Executive Life affair in California, settled at a cost of 720 million dollars (from memory?). In the first, there is no public or media curiosity to speak of about which government officials were using bribes to procure these contracts. The sole preoccupation is how much the state (and thus the citizenry) stands to lose in the lawsuit brought by Taiwan (currently the subject of French military intimidation, as mentioned). In the Executive Life matter, it took six months for the opposition even to raise questions about the propriety of the government using the public treasury to negotiate protection from criminal prosecution for Chirac’s personal friend and billionaire François Pinault. If you think that France is like everyone else, then you would have no trouble imagining George Bush using U.S. government resources to negotiate protection for Bill Gates in a European criminal proceeding without a word of objection from the public, the Democrats or the media.

The U.S. and most of its allies respect certain bounds of mutually shared collective interest that France will freely overstep in ways that put it closer to the Soviet Union and Pakistan than the U.S. or Great Britain. (Consider that France has in the past sold nuclear technology to two Middle East regimes: Israel and Iraq.) I am not sure that “evil” is the right word, but France is, among Western powers, a virtual rogue state.

Posted by orbital at 10:51 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Don't hurry back

[source]

John Kerry rejects any association with former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, an avowed anti-Semite whose views are totally deplorable. The world needs leaders who seek to bring people together, not drive them apart with hateful and divisive rhetoric.

This election will be decided by the American people, and the American people alone. It is simply not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America’s presidential election. John Kerry does not seek, and will not accept, any such endorsements.

Randy Beers, Senator John Kerry’s Foreign Policy Advisor

Wow, Kerry goes on a skiing vacation and his campaign starts clicking.

Posted by orbital at 9:42 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

18 March 2004

Vote for me in the primary so I can lose in the real election

[source, source]

According to the weekly alternative Pittsburgh City Paper, Specter held a breakfast fundraiser at Oakland’s Concordia Club on Feb. 22 with a group of about 60 Jewish donors, mostly registered Democrats. The senator pointed out to the crowd that they still had time to register as Republicans, and then change their registration back to the Democratic party after the GOP primary on April 27.

What motiviation would these people have to do this beyond trying to have the weakest Republican candidate, given that even Specter expects to switch back to voting Democratic Party? What does that say about Specter’s view of himself and his candidacy? Please keep your essays to under 1500 words.

Posted by orbital at 8:57 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Admitting the existence of a coalition is the first step of recovery

[source]

before the Spanish election, Bush was “acting unilaterally” with regards to Iraq. […] Fast forward to this present week. Spain is now perceived as an “important ally” of the US “coalition” — now that its population tossed out the party that joined Bush’s coalition:

Well, at least Big Media now admits that there is a Coalition to exit from. That’s one step on the path to recovery from Reality Dysfunction.

Posted by orbital at 8:24 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

There are barbarians in my club house!

[source]

This year, when the Emory College Republicans sought funding to bring Horowitz to campus again, funding was denied. […]

What happened next is little short of astonishing. [Assistant Dean of Campus Life Vera] Rorie received a hostile email from one S. Siles, sent from an aol.com email address. The email was a brutally pointed reminder to Rorie that the internet makes it possible for her actions and words as an administrator to be judged by the world. Quoting her confused comments about free speech and academic freedom, the email condemns Rorie as a censor and a fool:

Here’s some free speech: you, madam, are incompetent and a buffoon. The internet is making it more difficult for people like you to hide behind the walls of academia. I also would like to remind you that internet search engines record these articles instantly and forever for posterity to see.

That’s not the astonishing part (as any blogger knows, having a public presence, however small, attracts its share of hate mail). The astonishing part is Rorie’s response, which is recorded on the Emory College Republicans’ web site. […] when she got the email quoted above, she withdrew her offer [to discuss the Horowitz talk] in an email that effectively blamed them for the fact that S. Siles felt compelled to give her an electronic piece of his mind.

My office had offered to assist the College Republicans in planning an event that would bring a conservative speaker of your choice to campus. In light of the attached email and link it is clear that you are not interested in practing [sic] community. The information you provided to outsiders is the source of the enclosed personal attacts [sic] on me. I am rescinding the offer to meet.I will not participate in email name calling or personal assaults.

As noted in the original source, Rorie clearly considered accurate quoting of her statements to “outsiders” to be out of bounds for the academic world. It reminds me of Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch, which was claimed to have smeared professors by citing their published papers. Sadly for the professoriate, it’s not a cozy little world anymore.

Posted by orbital at 8:10 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

17 March 2004

France supports another totalitarian regime

[source, source]

China and France will hold rare joint naval exercises off the mainland’s eastern coast on Tuesday, just four days before Beijing’s rival, Taiwan, holds presidential elections.

Hey, at least France isn’t surrending - they’re chipping in to help the enemy.

P.S.

One advantage of extending a nuclear guarantee to Taiwan is that if China made a move we could nuke its ally France.

Orrin Judd

Posted by orbital at 3:37 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Who's fault is it that viewers can't tell the difference?

[source]

VIA ROMENESKO WE LEARN: “Democrats want TV network execs to immediately warn stations not to use the Bush administration’s mock news videos featuring actors posing as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law.” I guess if actual journalists stuck to journalism, and didn’t “praise the benefits” of laws on a regular basis, these ads wouldn’t work. The real problem isn’t that people issue video news releases, it’s that it’s hard to tell the real news from a video news release. But when the networks have been using “actors posing as journalists” for years, it’s hard to get much traction with complaints like this one.

But viewers should be able to tell because the political slant is wrong!

Posted by orbital at 8:04 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

16 March 2004

Bg Media reporting: Saving Kerry from himself

[source]

The story took a bizarre twist when the Boston Globe reporter who broke the original story tried to bail Kerry out by saying that after listening repeatedly to his audio tape, he now believes Kerry said he has met with “more leaders” who want him to beat Bush, not “foreign leaders.” Unfortunately, this dodge didn’t occur to Kerry until after he had already told reporters yesterday that:

“I have heard from people, foreign leaders elsewhere in the world who don’t appreciate the Bush administration and would love to see a change in the leadership of the United States.”

Note that this statement is a significant climb-down from the original claim, which was that Kerry had “met with” foreign leaders who “look at you and say…” In other words, Kerry knows the original story was false, and can be shown to be false.

And the press itself tries desperately to spin this in to a non-gaffe, revealing its non-partisan nature.

Now, if they’d taken my advice and just Dowdified in the first place, there wouldn’t be a problem.

Posted by orbital at 12:02 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

15 March 2004

UK: no longer a civilized nation?

[source, source, source]

WHAT do you give someone who’s been proved innocent after spending the best part of their life behind bars, wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit? An apology, maybe? Counselling? Champagne? Compensation? Well, if you’re David Blunkett, the Labour Home Secretary, the choice is simple: you give them a big, fat bill for the cost of board and lodgings for the time they spent freeloading at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in British prisons.

On Tuesday, Blunkett will fight in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the right to charge victims of miscarriages of justice more than £3000 for every year they spent in jail while wrongly convicted. The logic is that the innocent man shouldn’t have been in prison eating free porridge and sleeping for nothing under regulation grey blankets.

[…] the Home Office say it’s a completely “reasonable course of action” as the innocent men and women would have spent the money anyway on food and lodgings if they weren’t in prison. The government deems the claw-back ‘Saved Living Expenses’.

This isn’t a plan, or an idea being run up the flag pole. The UK government has already charged people in this manner. One of the counter-sued to get it overturned, won, and now the UK government is appealing that decision.

I like the “would have spent the money anyway”. Well, yes, that’s true, but there’s also “would have had a job anyway” as well. Perhaps instead of having the expenses overturned, the victims should use the same logic and demand compensation for lost wages.

Posted by orbital at 10:22 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

CNN: no anti-war event too small for headline coverage

[source]

“MORE THAN SIXTY PEOPLE” protested the war, and to CNN that’s news. (It’s currently at the top of their main page.)

I wonder how many people would have to march in favor of the war to get this kind of notice? 60,000? Apparently 4,000 wasn’t enough.

It’s probably that CNN is now only reporting stories so uninteresting that they won’t get scooped on them, like they did for the anti-Caliphascist protests in Iraq.

Posted by orbital at 6:01 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

14 March 2004

What I meant to vote was...

[source, source]

”I’m pretty tough on Castro, because I think he’s running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,” Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning.

Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: “And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.” […]

There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.

Why let little details like that get in the way of a good soundbite?

Posted by orbital at 9:59 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Spanish voters see link between Al Qaeda, Iraq

[source, source]

In a stunning political upset, voters chose to give power to the opposition Socialist Party, whose leader, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has promised to immediately withdraw Spain’s 1,300 troops from Iraq, orient Spain’s foreign policy away from the United States and restore good relations with anti-war European allies, France and Germany.

[…]

“The terrorists have killed 200 people and defeated the government — they have achieved all their objectives,” said Gustavo de Arustegui, a PP member of parliament and foreign policy spokesman for the government. “I think the terrorist attacks were politically planned,” he said. “We have transformed terrorists into political actors with this.”

Battered electorate syndrome?

Posted by orbital at 9:24 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

I knew it was something in the water in California!

[source, source, source]

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (AP) - City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production. […]

“It’s embarrassing,” said City Manager David J. Norman. “We had a paralegal who did bad research.”

Uh, yeah. If my junior staffer comes to me and tells me “We shouldn’t switch to Java because some of our staff drink tea” and I pass it on to management, it would hardly suffice to claim that the staffer did bad research.

Posted by orbital at 8:43 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

13 March 2004

Un-available

[source]

In what Secretary-General Kofi Annan called a “first-class foul-up,” the United Nations said Thursday it has discovered a black box sent from Rwanda after a 1994 plane crash [killing the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi] that unleashed a genocide in the east African nation.

The device was found Wednesday in a locked filing cabinet in the U.N. Peacekeeping Department’s Air Safety Unit. Aviation experts put it there apparently in the belief its “pristine condition” ruled out the possibility that it came from the downed Falcon 50 jet, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Any corporation that had this kind of history of failure would have long since gone bankrupt, been acquired and re-organized or sued out of existence long ago. But because it’s the UN, it simply continues to be a moral loadstone for millions of “intellectuals”. Maybe the Enron executives should have used a UN based excuse - if the UN is good and it does this, it must be OK.

Posted by orbital at 9:30 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

12 March 2004

Doesn't the NRA do that all the time?

[source, source]

If you’re wondering how the Islamist terrorists got enough explosives to kill 198 Spaniards and wound 1200 more, many maimed for life, here’s a dispatch from the daily news report of Radio Free Europe which may be an answer.

According to the Czech Republic news agency, CTK, Czech police seized “hundreds of tons of imported, military-grade plastic explosives and detained two men on weapon-trafficking charges on March 10.” The police, no doubt sensitive to protocol, failed to identify the country from which the shipments originated but a Czech newspaper spilled the beans: The country is Sweden and the shipment was 328 tons of explosives.

I’m sure it was intended for legitimate insurgency, so what’s the big deal?

Posted by orbital at 5:44 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

11 March 2004

THIS JUST IN: It's Bush's fault. Period.

[source, source, source]

A woman has just been arrested and accused of working for the Ba’ath regime in Iraq. She had previously worked for four Democratic Party members of Congress, the magazines Fortune, US News & World Report, Fox News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. So what’s the headline and lead paragraph on the story?

Accused spy is cousin of Bush staffer

The woman charged with working for the Iraqi spy agency is a distant cousin of President Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, and has held a variety of jobs in journalism and on Capitol Hill.

It’s also reported that Tom Brokaw lead with the same fact on the national news. Now, why would anything think there’s any bias there?

UPDATE: Lots of good links to the accused’s carreer.

UPDATE: It turns out that the Bush staffer (Andy Card) who is a “distant cousin” of the accused who alerted the authorities about her activities.

The accused is also not accused of spying, despite the headline. She’s accused of breaking various laws regarding acting as an agent for a foreign country. But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Big Media muffed that as well.

Posted by orbital at 8:11 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

10 March 2004

Un-responsible

[source]

In the growing scandal over the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, which from 1996-2003 supervised relief to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and his staff have excused themselves from any responsibility for the massive corruption involving billions in bribes and kickbacks that went on via more than $100 billion in U.N.-approved contracts for Saddam to sell oil and buy humanitarian supplies. U.N. officials have denied that this tidal wave of graft in any way seeped into their own shop, or that they even had time to notice it was out there. […]

That’s fascinating, not least given the ties of Annan’s own son, Kojo Annan, to the Switzerland-based firm, Cotecna, which from 1999 onward worked on contract for the U.N. monitoring the shipments of Oil-for-food supplies into Iraq. These were the same supplies sent in under terms of those tens of billions of dollars worth of U.N.-approved contracts in which the U.N. says it failed to notice Saddam Hussein’s widespread arrangements to overpay contractors who then shipped overpriced goods to the impoverished people of Iraq and kicked back part of their profits to Saddam’s regime. […]

Even if we assume that everyone on the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food staff, as well as Kofi Annan himself, was indeed ignorant of Kojo Annan’s involvement with Cotecna, it is hard to buy the argument that Kofi, while signing off regularly on the program’s workings, was simply oblivious to the details. Not only was Kofi Annan the boss, but he was directly involved from the beginning. Kofi Annan’s official U.N. biography notes that shortly before his promotion to Secretary-General “he led the first United Nations team negotiating with Iraq on the sale of oil to fund purchases of humanitarian aid.”

It was Annan, who in October 1997 brought in as Oil-for-Food’s executive director Benon Sevan, reporting directly to the Secretary-General, to consolidate Oil-for-Food’s operations into the Office of Iraq Program. And it was shortly after Sevan took charge that Oil-for-Food, set up by Kofi Annan’s predecessor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, with at least some transparency on individual deals, began treating as confidential such vital information as the names of specific contractors, quantities of goods, and prices paid. [emphasis added]

[…]

But what has to be clear by now is that the U.N. itself was either corrupt, or so stunningly incompetent as to require total overhaul.

I’m sure that there’s an explanation that complete exonerates Annan and the UN that all of the UN booster will buy wholesale (less the 10% kickback fee).

Posted by orbital at 10:21 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

It's because you only feel a need to explore the unknown

[source]

The Associated Press reports that it has located a former Alabama Air National Guard officer who remembers serving with George W Bush. The AP confirms that the retired officer, Lt. Col. John “Bill” Calhoun, served in the same unit as Bush. It also tells us:

Calhoun has not made any donations to Bush this election season or during the 2000 season, according to campaign finance records

Hat tip: reader Erik Fortune, who adds:

See? The (associated) press does go look for conflicts of interest … when the person in question supports Bush.

I’ll give them credit for reporting that they didn’t find anything in this case, but the fact that they looked is telling. If the press were half as, um, diligent wrt the 9-11 families, the whole incident would have had a hugely different spin

(Here is an AP story on the 9-11 families criticizing the Bush ads. See? No mention of the subjects’ pre-existing affiliations, some of which were mentioned here)

One claim is that this kind of thing isn’t bias but simply mental laziness as the reporters write the story they already have in their heads rather than the story supported by the facts. Does this mean that the internal story is that all conservatives are venal, easily bought liers? How is that really different from a liberal bias?

Posted by orbital at 7:19 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Monkey wrenching by the NY Times

[source]

THE NEW YORK TIMES is threatening a blogger for putting up this parody NYT corrections page. A Times lawyer writes The National Debate:

Your actions are deliberately designed to confuse people and are clearly illegal.

It’s worth popping over because the blogger has also posted a letter from his ISP citing the DMCA. I don’t blame the ISP much, because that’s the law, but what’s interesting is that it gives the ISP three days to shut down the alledgedly infringing materials, but the ISP won’t re-enable access, even with a counter claim of no infringement, for 10-14 business days. This seems to mean that you can shut down someone’s website for a couple of weeks on basically a whim.

Posted by orbital at 5:07 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

09 March 2004

At least he could count the change correctly

[source]

SEPTEMBER 12—North Carolina cops are searching for a guy who successfully passed a $200 bill bearing George W. Bush’s portrait and a drawing of the White House complete with lawn signs reading “We like ice cream” and “USA deserves a tax cut.” The phony Bush bill—a copy of which you’ll find below—was presented to a cashier at a Food Lion in Roanoke Rapids on September 6 by an unidentified male who was seeking to pay for $150 in groceries. Remarkably, the cashier accepted the counterfeit note and gave the man $50 change.

The bill itself (there’s a picture in the source link) is hilarious.

Posted by orbital at 8:44 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

At least wait till the next day to flip

[source, source]

Asked how it feels to have Ted Kennedy stumping for him now, Kerry says, “It’s neat—pinch me; is this really happening?” Yet when invited to dispute the idea that “Kennedy” is a dirty word, he answers by saying that any attempt to link him to Kennedy’s record “is not going to work, it’s so silly and infantile.”

So, the implication is that is great to have Ted Kennedy’ support even though it’s a smear to be accused of having similar political views as him?

Posted by orbital at 8:38 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Kerry embarrassed by supporters

[source, source]

Without naming anybody, Kerry said he had received words of encouragement from leaders abroad who were eager to see him defeat Bush on Nov. 2.

“I’ve met foreign leaders who can’t go out and say this publicly, but boy they look at you and say, ‘You’ve got to win this, you’ve got to beat this guy, we need a new policy,’ things like that,” he said.

Kerry wants American citizens to support because foreign leaders he’s too embarrassed to name want him to be president?

P.S. I’ve got a trackback by someone who claims that Kerry didn’t say this. But then why didn’t he deny it himself? Why did he answer questions about it as if that’s what he said, rather than indicating that it was a misquote? Whether or not Kerry said it then, he’s said it since. Or is the next claim going to be that Kerry was confused by reading his quote in the newspaper?

Posted by orbital at 3:43 PM | View 2 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Of course we need government funding, we're the voice of the People

[source, source]

Canada’s most influential lobby group for women’s rights has been silenced, so crippled by debt and abandoned by women across the country that it’s now too broke to answer the phone. […]

A group of about five women - all that’s left after the NAC stopped being able to pay its president and staff in 2001 - is lobbying desperately for support to rebuild.

“NAC is in crisis,” said Bev Meslo, the group’s B.C. wing representative.

Crisis? Really? What was your first clue?

Posted by orbital at 12:44 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

08 March 2004

President John F. Kennedy - part of the VRWC?

There is, however, a key distinction between Mr. Bush’s homage to Mr. Reagan and Mr. Kerry’s essentially creepy aping of Mr. Kennedy. Bush is echoing those things about the Reagan presidency that actually contributed to its success: Reagan’s tax policies, his economic policies, his immigration policies, his rhetorical support of the religious right and his image as an amiable dunce. Kerry is doing something else. He has chosen not to emulate the policies of a successful president but the hairstyle and accent (and initials?!) of a president who, at best, didn’t have enough time in office to succeed.

Even odder, he completely ignores Kennedy’s policies — particularly his foreign policy. A few weeks ago, I was reading Kennedy’s inaugural address. Today, it could only be given by a conservative Republican, and the media would immediately jump on him for unilateralism, bellicosity and injecting G-d into the public sphere. Our new JFK is not our fathers’ JFK, and more’s the pity.

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom—symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning—signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago. […]

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support an friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

[…] We dare not tempt them [our adversaries] with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed. […]

Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

If President Bush said something like this, the exact same people who worship the original speaker would fall down in apoplexy.

Posted by orbital at 3:50 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

07 March 2004

Aristide - thug then, thug now

[source, source]

Here’s a blast from the past, 17 Aug 1995:

Opposition to President Clinton’s boldest foreign policy initiative — U.S. military intervention in Haiti last year with 21,000 troops at a cost of $3 billion — has now come full circle. With the defection of former president Jimmy Carter as an uncritical supporter of the administration’s effort to “restore” democracy to the Caribbean island, the White House’s touting of Haiti as its greatest foreign policy “success” is sounding pretty silly.

The former president, who provided crucial political cover last year for Clinton’s decision to dispatch U.S. forces to Haiti, recently issued a devastating critique of the political process imposed under the lethal protection of U.S. guns by Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

[…] relations began to sour within months after Carter personally helped pave the way for Aristide’s triumphant return in October 1994. By year’s end, it was apparent to all but the most ideologically driven that Aristide was personally turning Haiti into yet another one-man dictatorship — his own. This should surprise no one, considering Aristide’s political personality and his Marxist beliefs.

[…]

The Carter Center report on the ensuing election — written by Carter confidant and former National Security Council advisor Robert Pastor — documents the disgraceful conduct of the Aristide government and his Lavalas party. “Of the 13 elections I have observed, the June 25 Haitian elections were the most disastrous technically, with the most insecure count,” Pastor said in the report.

Oh ho - so much for the claims that Carter backs Aristide’s claims to have been properly elected.

Posted by orbital at 10:29 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

06 March 2004

Rules are rules

[source, source]

The Dade County School Board regretfully informed a computer-consulting firm that it was ineligible as a vendor because the business was not minority-owned. A business can qualify as minority-owned only if one minority group controls 51 percent of its assets. The company in question, Data Industries, is owned as a 50/50 partnership between a black man and a hispanic. A spokesman for the school board said he sympathized with Data Industries, but insisted that “a rule is a rule, and our rule says that there must be 51 percent ownership by one principal minority group.” He went on to justify by saying, “We’re just trying to preserve the integrity of the system,” explaining that the county wants a “clear-cut” owner to avoid having minority businesses “sell out to white males.”

You can’t have those minorities cooperating, because then they might not be minorities.

Posted by orbital at 5:56 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

05 March 2004

Key point - it's a different country

[source, source]

The Wall Street Journal cites every possible negative Wall Street Journal cites every possible negative in its description of Democrat candidate John Kerry:

His first cousin is a French mayor. His father was a diplomat. He spent school years in Switzerland, among other countries, and now and then vacationed in Brittany … He thinks the death-penalty is bad and thinks the Kyoto Protocol, intended to protect the global climate, is good.

Oops! My mistake. That’s actually from Germany’s Financial Times, where these Kerry traits are considered positives.

Who’s going to tell the Financial Times that they’re helping dig Kerry even deeper in the electoral hole?

Posted by orbital at 10:17 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

03 March 2004

Stealing the thunder

[source, source]

Reuters reports that Bush called Kerry to congratulate him for clinching the Democratic nomination, and said he was looking forward to a “spirited” race.

I have heard or read about this call, usually presented with affectionate bemusement, on NPR and Imus, many weblogs and in newspaper stories from all the major outlets, inserted into almost every story about Senator Kerry’s great victory on Super Tuesday. On Senator Kerry’s big day, I keep hearing about the President acting like a decent human being. Political commentators are constantly mentioning the President and his five minute phone call when reporting on Senator Kerry securing the Democratic nomination.

And they’re all wondering why he did it?

If the liberals had any contact with reality, they’d be dangerous.

Posted by orbital at 5:54 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

02 March 2004

You don't know what you've got till it's gone

I’ve delinked “Commie Watch” because the site seems to have disappeared. I hadn’t dropped by for a bit and then it was gone! If anyone knows where it is now, please let me know. Thanks!

I noticed that the author has been writing for Front Page, although there isn’t anything this year. Perhaps he’s concentrating on that now…

Posted by orbital at 7:40 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Teachers protest for better students

[source, source]

Students arriving at Cesar Chavez Middle School and Aztlan Academy yesterday were met with striking teachers in the parking lot carrying signs. The messages on the signs: “We’re tired of excuses,” “I Quit Until You Care,” “Quit Wasting Your Time,” “Quit Stealing Our Time” and “Try, Damn It, Try.”

All 16 teachers and administrators at the charter middle and high school took part in the strike […]

“If I were a teacher I’d be out here, also,” said Beatrice Baltierrez, 18, a student at the schools for five years. She said some of the students wrote letters of apology.

The students ended up caving and agreeing to behave better. I’m more surprised by that than by the teacher’s striking.

Posted by orbital at 6:51 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

01 March 2004

Somethings are best done only in a foreign country

[source]

“Faryal Al-Masri hopes to be the first Saudi-American to enter the US Congress, contesting elections in California to become a member of US House of Representatives,” reports the Arab News:

Al-Masri is running on a Democratic Party ticket in the 37th electoral district in California, which has been a Republican stronghold for over half a century. But Democrats have high hopes for her. “They are optimistic as they see my birth in Makkah [Mecca] as a good omen,” she said.

At first we suspected this was a hoax, because California’s 37th Congressional District is in fact represented by a Democrat, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald and we couldn’t find any other reference to al-Masri in news databases or Web searches. But it turns out she does exist; she just transliterates her name differently, and although she’s running for office, her name won’t appear on the ballot tomorrow. A letter to the editor of the Ventura County Star urges readers to write in the name Ferial Masry because “the previously declared candidate, Paul Herzog, became ill and missed the filing date.” If Masry gets 1,187 votes or more, she will be on the November ballot.

The district Masry seeks to represent is indeed the 37th, but she’s running for the state Assembly, not the U.S. House. So there isn’t yet a Saudi-born woman running for Congress in America, though perhaps one day there will be. Also, perhaps one day a Saudi-born woman will seek elective office in Saudi Arabia. That may take a few centuries, though.

Well, the Saudi Entity is already run by Saudis, so there’d be no benefit there.

Posted by orbital at 5:01 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

The biggest financial fraud in history

What’s $5 billion or so among the august members of the United Nations? The accounting irregularities in the UN sponsored “Oil for Food” program just keep coming.

It turns out that not only were the Ba’ath selling oil below cost in exchange for kickbacks, but they would turn around and buy “humanitarian supplies” from the lowest bidder and pocket the difference.

Let’s give credit to a normal bashing target, the NY Times, for its strong article on the subject, which leads with

In its final years in power, Saddam Hussein’s government systematically extracted billions of dollars in kickbacks from companies doing business with Iraq, funneling most of the illicit funds through a network of foreign bank accounts in violation of United Nations sanctions.

It has the detail

In the high-flying days after Iraq was allowed to sell its oil after 10 years of United Nations sanctions, the lobby of the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad was the place to be to get a piece of the action.

That was where the oil traders would gather whenever a journalist, actor or political figure would arrive in Iraq and openly praise Mr. Hussein. Experience taught them that the visitor usually returned to the hotel with a gift voucher, courtesy of the Iraqi president or one of his aides, representing the right to buy one million barrels or more of Iraqi crude. [emphasis added]

Isn’t that interesting? I wonder how many of those people were CNN employees?

Posted by orbital at 9:12 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL