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The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, July 31, 2003
 

Warm Up A Room In Hell


Here comes Foday Sankoh.

 

Just What We Need....


Pentagon: China has Taiwan war plan

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
 

Bounty Goes Up For American Heads


This is interesting:

At the beginning of June, before the U.S. offensives began, the reward for killing an American soldier was about $300, an Army officer said. Now, he said, street youths are being offered as much as $5,000 -- and are being told that if they refuse, their families will be killed, a development the officer described as a sign of reluctance among once-eager youths to take part in the strikes.



 

WWAD?



If America had terrorists entering our terrority from a sliver of land the size of the West Bank, and if for some reason, it was politically unwise to just destroy that sliver of land, you can be damn sure we building a wall. A big motherfuckin' wall.

Sharon Tells Bush Israel Won't Halt Its Fence Project

WWAD? What Would America Do? We'd do the same thing the Israelis are doing.


 

Syria’s Pissed. And This Is A Problem Because?


You know what you are doing is working when it really angers your enemies. Enter Syria, foaming at the mouth and apoplectic with rage:

On July 27, 2003, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Shar'a spoke to Syrian journalists, strongly criticizing the U.S. administration. While his statements were published in the London-based Arabic press, the majority did not appear in official Syrian government papers. The following are Al-Shar'a's statements as published in the London-based Arabic-language dailies Al-Hayat and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat:

The administration of President Bush is exceptional. Perhaps there have been similar administrations in the past, but never one at the same level of violence and stupidity.

The Syrians sound just like Howard Dean!

The disputes between the hawks and the doves [in Congress] do not reach the level of violence directed [towards Syria]…

"The external pressure applied to Syria is the heaviest it has ever faced, perhaps since the 16th century… For the first time, the U.S. is trying to set conditions for Syria's entrance into the peace process. This means that the U.S. does not want Syria in the process or that it wants to eliminate the Palestinian cause and does not want Syria to be a partner in it…[The demand to] dismantle Hizbullah is aimed at arousing all the ethnic and religious instincts to the point of civil war, and at again opening the door to Israeli intervention in Lebanon.

"Syria's granting legitimacy to the temporary Governing Council in Iraq will be the greatest mistake in Syria's political history, as [the council] still has not earned popular Iraqi legitimacy. This does not mean that we will not cooperate with these people in the council, as cooperation is one thing and giving legitimacy is another."


Popular legitimacy? And when was the last time the Baathist, one party state held an election?

Tuesday, July 29, 2003
 

There They Go Again


The New York Times tries to stir things up with a compelling headline: France and Germany Consider Possible Roles in Postwar Iraq.

It would be a great story, and a percieved defeat for Bush. If only it would happen (the Times has its fingers crossed). But as the story itself makes clear, it isn't going to happen:
"In one sense, we were sending a signal to Washington," said one senior French official. "We didn't want to be faced with having to say no."

Don't worry about that, Jacques.

He added, "The French Army would feel humiliated to go to Iraq and be put in the same category as the Poles or the Uruguayans as part of the cleanup team."

No, the French Army has a glorious past. Remember that in World War II, the silly Poles were overrun and quickly surrendered. The French, however, fought gloriously until...they gave up and collaborated with tyranny.

Old habit dies hard.

As Michael Barone points out, things are actually going well in Iraq, and there is no need to have the French come in to try to sabotage things:

Since April 9th,
1. The formation of an Iraqi national army has begun.
2. 30,000 Iraqi police have been hired.
3. An Iraqi civil defense corps is being formed.
4.Coalition forces have captured or killed 38 of Iraq's 55 most wanted
5.Thousands of lower-level Baath Party loyalists have been rounded up or otherwise dealt with.
6.The Iraqi Central Bank has been made independent.
7.Iraq has returned to the world oil market. All of Iraq's universities have reopened.
8.Power and water are, in most places, at prewar levels, and we're making progress in Baghdad.
9.The food redistribution system has been restarted.
10. Nearly all of Iraq's 240 hospitals and 1,200 clinics are open.
11. Over 100 newspapers have begun publishing.
12. In all major cities and in 85 percent of the towns, municipal councils have been formed of Iraqis.
13. Ambassador Bremer has helped establish a new National Governing Council. It has begun exercising executive authority, appointing ministers, preparing the way for a new national constitution.


Not bad for four months.

Here is the rundown of the "news" from France, the number one rated news show on TF1 (thanks to Merde In France), on the day that Saddam's sons were killed:

fire at the Eiffel Tower
boat sunk off Belgium
drought
subventions for farmers
forest fires in Corsica
naval fire fighters in Marseille
volonteer fire fighters
security measures at camping sites
fire at the Eiffel Tower (update)
storms
camping site closed due to storms
Patrick Henry
Patrice Alègre
prison breakouts
small claims judges
Air Lib
José Bové
dope dealers
cocaine
building and construction insurance
pollution in Bouches du Rhone (south of France)
striking artists and performers
death of Philippe Ramond
Chirac in Malaysia today
Chirac in New Caledonia tomorrow
Saddam sons killed
the US calls on the UN (false report)
low moral of US troops (anti-US propaganda which is largely ineffective given the news of Saddam's sons)

And here's a lovely cartoon from La Liberacion, a large French daily (also from Merde In France):



Such cartoons are expected from enemies like Syria.

Not from our "friends."

The French (like the Left in general) want to believe that Iraq is another Vietnam, a place of no significance that will cost America dearly. But Iraq is very significant and so far the casualties have been very low. They refuse to see this, or that anything in Iraq is going America's way. For them it is all blood and chaos, until it isn't, and then they change the subject.

The French are not to be trusted with anything important. And Iraq is important.

Bring in the Poles!


 

Can Madonna Still Move The Merchandise?


Does she still have it? The New York Times asks.

Uh, no. She does not have it. Bad move, Gap.

Sunday, July 27, 2003
 

Department of Anarchy?



FLIT argues that the government needs a department whose job is to continually root out wasteful spending and programs. It's a good idea, but the name has to go.

Saturday, July 26, 2003
 

Krauthammer On Terror


I always feel good when I am in complete agreement with Charles Krauthammer: Don't be fooled, America is having success against terror

Why, here is the letter I wrote the other day to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The media is presenting Iraq as “a quagmire.” But the important things are happening offstage.

After 9/11, America easily eliminated two of the five most oppressive Arab governments. US aircraft carrier battle groups prowl the gulf, and American bombers can strike without warning.

America will be pumping Iraq’s oil. Paying cash for every drop, America guarantees that it will determine the global oil price in the future. OPEC is doomed.

Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, led by tyrants dependent on rigged oil prices and beholden to corrupt militaries, have noticed.

Strategically, Iraq is a triumph.

Practical advisors to the Saudi Crown Prince are telling him that another 9/11 (an act committed by Saudis) must not be allowed to happen. If it does, his government will be finished. And the Saudis are doing things they wouldn’t do six months ago: They’re arresting terrorists, quieting fire-breathing Imans, and cooperating with the US.

They aren’t acting this way because they love us. The rage of a region has been converted to fear.

When you are winning at chess, there comes a point when you are forcing your opponent to make his moves, moves that favor you and doom him.

Now who said the war in Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism?

John Rogers




 

Harden the Peace Corps?


Jay Bryant argues that instead of having the army working in Iraq, that job should belong to the Peace Corps.

I need more information on how this plan would be implemented, but my first impression is that it is a bad idea.

Many former volunteers oppose it because it injects US foreign policy into the Peace Corps. That, however, is what I LIKE about this idea. I think that should be what the Peace Corps is about: fostering freedom and democracy around the world. The Peace Corps is where dumb liberals go to die. They certainly become more practical and more concerned with finding solutions that work.

Here's what I don't like about the idea: Peace Corps volunteers are, by necessity, unarmed and working in far-flung locations. They are very accessible, but they are vulnerable to being taken hostage. This puts the military in the position of having to guard them anyway.

How would soldiers feel about acting as full-time bodyguards for PCV's?

Most Peace Corps volunteers work in health and education. Iraq doesn't need either of those things.

When I was in Sierra Leone (PCV'91-92), I was a teacher in a school outside a medium sized town. I could go weeks without seeing another American. I never felt like I was in serious danger. But a small band of bad guys could have easily kidnapped me (all they needed to do knock on my door). Every African for five miles knew where I lived.

Peace Corps in Iraq would mean several Danny Pearls a week, at least for the time being.

Maybe this idea will fly in a few years, when the situation settles down.

 

The Way To Handle Nudists


This has been quite a year for nudism. We have seen nude protests that made me wonder if nudity was such a good thing: pale, sag-assed, hairy hippies so darn angry about the war that they couldn't help but expose themselves. If they were young and nubile, great! But this is beyond indency! These are nude grandmothers!

Britain finally has solved the problem. Faced with an infestation of nudists, the British used the most potent weapon available to them.

They sprayed them with herbicide.

The nudists fled. And they put their clothes back on.

The nudists were covered with the herbicide Asulox, reports The Daily Mail.

One of them, Colin James, 59(emphasis mine), said: "The victims had to leave the beach, because they were suffering from headaches, streaming eyes, coughs and sore throats."

The naturists have complained to the National Trust, which commissioned the spraying at Studland.

They have also reported the matter to environmental health officers.

Roger Garwood of Purbeck District Council, said: "Several sunbathers suffered sore throats and other sore parts."


Other sore parts? Ouch!







 

Let Them In!


Eluding Castro's secret police, these Cuban migrants escaped their island in a truck kept afloat by drums filled with air. The driveshaft of the truck was modified so that it worked a propeller, pushing the truck through the shark-infested water at 8 mph. The truck is also fitted with living quarters.

Customs sent them back to Cuba (where they may be arrested) and sunk their truck.

This is an outrage. These people have shown enormous creativity, ingenuity and daring. I would be proud to have them as Americans. I would have them taking the oath on the spot. They might come to the US with nothing, but I guarantee you they would not be poor for long.

We could even arrange a trade! Cuba could get some our homegrown American poor. How about the homeless bum, drunk on Mad Dog, begging for quarters in front of the McDonalds with the "Help Wanted" sign in the window?

Friday, July 25, 2003
 

Minimum Wage, Cont’d


The debate with Shared Thought continues:

First of all, inflation is not a problem in the current economy. In case Therapy Sessions hasn't been paying attention, deflation happens to be the bigger concern at the moment.

Shared Thought continues to try to prove that the minimum wage should be increased annually, with increases tied to the rate of inflation.

This is terrible policy.

It is akin to turning on the heat, and setting the thermostat to turn UP the heat when the house starts to get warm.

In advocating this policy, he has made the mistake of confusing “deflation” with “disinflation”.

He believes (wrongly) that inflation (a loss in productivity per dollar) is a cure for deflation (lower commodity prices). Deflation mixed with a loss in productivity would be disastrous for workers.

In a deflationary environment, there should not be wage increases at all.

And Shared Thought has said nothing about the other undesireable side effect of wage increases: unemployment.
Nobody opposes the annual cost of living increase for Social Security on the basis that it has an inflationary effect on the economy

No, it has an inflationary effect on government spending. I DO oppose that.
If minimum wages account for a substantially smaller portion of the national economy (less than $125 billion annually), why worry about the inflationary effect of a cost of living adjustment?

Simply because wages cascade up. You have already admitted that this is a risk in the previous post: "I personally don't have a problem with increasing the wages of somebody at the bottom of the economic ladder, even if that leads to an upward pressure on all wages. In fact I think an increase in wage-earned income might actually be a good thing for the economy."

No, it would be bad. Inflation is a cure for nothing.
Contrary to what Therapy Sessions implies, minimum wage jobs aren't going to go to cheap-labor foreign countries if the wage-rate increases. Minimum wage jobs are predominately service oriented jobs that cannot be exported in the way manufacturing jobs have been.

You make a good point about service jobs, but if service jobs are more costly, doesn't it stand to reason that there will be fewer of them? Or does money grow on trees?

And you admit that manufacturing jobs have been exported.

Why is that? What incentive do poor, politically unstable third world countries give companies to move their manufacturing operations out of the US?

 

Clinton Knows Why The Dems Should Shut Up About WMD


Clinton told (Larry) King: "People can quarrel with whether we should have more troops in Afghanistan or internationalize Iraq or whatever, but it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons."



 

Liberia?


The Philadelphia Inquirer is all for intervention in Liberia, which has no strategic benefits for the US (other than the fact that it would be nice to see peace brought to the country).

I have supported intervention in Liberia, but having the Inquirer in my corner is making me think again.

The Inquirer opposed the war in Iraq - which WAS in the strategic interests of the US - and the newspaper still can't see how Iraq had anything to do with terrorism. Every US casualty is headlined, but the fact that Iranians, Saudis and the Syrians are now cooperating with us and arresting terrorists is buried. The war has been a huge strategic success in the war on terrorism.

If the Inquirer is indicative of the kind of foreign policy "thinking" that is going on in the Democratic Party in 2004, it will be four more years of Bush.

No question.

 

The New York Times Reaches For Controversy, Yet Again!


This is how the New York Times covers the deaths of Uday and Qusay:

U.S. Defends Move to Storm House Where Hussein Brothers Were Hiding

WASHINGTON, July 23 — Military commanders in Iraq and Pentagon officials here today defended the decision to storm the house in Mosul where Saddam Hussein's sons were hiding rather than try to encircle it and force them to surrender, much as the United States did with Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega in Panama in 1989.

"The option to surround the house and wait out the individuals in the house was considered and rejected," Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the allied ground commander in Iraq, told reporters today. "The commanders on the ground made the decision to go ahead and execute and accomplish their mission of finding, fixing, killing or capturing."


The Washington Post buries the NYT “story,” and hardly mentions it. And they tell a better tale:

The Doorbell Rang And 'There They Were'

MOSUL, Iraq, July 23 -- Nawaf Zaidan Nasiri answered the front door of his elegant mansion 24 days ago and greeted a nightmare.

Standing there, he told his neighbors Tuesday, were sons of former president Saddam Hussein, Qusay and Uday, two of Iraq's three most-wanted fugitives, asking Zaidan to repay years of privilege and favors they had doled out to him.


Thursday, July 24, 2003
 

Now Why Should We Care What The Youth Of Germany Think About Us?



Poll shows many Germans see U.S. behind Sept 11
BERLIN, July 23 (Reuters) - Almost one in three Germans below the age of 30 believes the U.S. government may have sponsored the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

 

Just When You Thought the EU Couldn't Get Any Dumber...


Circus trapeze artists required to wear hardhats to comply with EU safety rules.



 

Raising The Minimum Wage?


I have been in an ongoing debate about the merits of the minimum wage with Shared Thought. Should the minimum wage be increased, with annual increases tied to the rate of inflation?

My response to his latest post:

Shared Thought: In fact I think an increase in wage-earned income might actually be a good thing for the economy.

So did Jimmy Carter.

But the problem is that money cannot be conjured out of thin air. An large increase in wages is going to mean increases in prices and a decrease in employment. This diminishes standards of living, particularly for people living on fixed incomes.

In an inflationary environment, no one wins.

I've had enough of the Republican Party's emphasis on trickle-down economics and their favoritism of passive income over wage income (i.e., capital gains tax cuts, estate tax cuts, dividend tax cuts). How about calling an increase in the minimum wage trickle-up economics, then?

Since when is a tax cut considered “passive income?”

James Surowiecki, a much brighter fellow than I, reaches essentially the same conclusion in a Slate piece from 1998 on the minimum wage.

I read it (thanks for the link):

I’m not all that impressed. Surowiecki says nothing about tying the minimum wage increases to the inflation rate (because that is a bad idea) but he states “there's no evidence that the minimum wage destroys jobs.”

Why do jobs flee to low wage areas like Mexico, then?

Maybe it’s the climate? Unfamiliar culture? Political instability? What happened to the US textile industry? It used to be one of our largest employers!

It is stunning that the same people who love minimum wage increases also fret about jobs fleeing south.

They’re pinching themselves and complaining about the pain!

Surowiecki also says:“Even firm opponents of the minimum wage believe that every 20-percent increase in the minimum (wage) reduces the employment of young workers by just 2 percent.”

Really? Sure, the first 20% might have led to a 2% increase at one time, but it is not logically preordained that the next 20% will also lead to a 2% increase! This is a dynamic, not a static, correlation. No person who understands all the factors and risks involved would make such a dubious statement. This is an unpredictable event!

If Suroweicki is correct, why not double the minimum wage? We would (in his mind) see unemployment increase from 6.5% to 7.2%. Maybe he has a similar “rule” for how much inflation would increase! "Rules" like this are made to proved wrong.

Therapy Sessions had a particular problem with my idea of adjusting the national minimum wage to account for inflation. This is the same approach taken for Social Security benefits and Federal government wages, which have a greater overall economic effect than minimum wage income. For example, this year, nearly 47 million Americans will receive approximately $470 billion in Social Security benefits, and in 2002 Federal government wages were $199 billion.


Social Security benefits are not wages. No one views them not way (no one says “my grandma got a 2.4% COLA, but I only got a 2% raise!”), and their contribution to the economy is slight. Federal Government wages ARE tied to inflation, but in a $10 TRILLION economy, they are insignificant (less than 2% of GDP).

It is a much different thing to require all private employers to increase their wages. It will work its way up the wage ladder in the larger economy (something you admit will probably happen), and firms will be forced to increase prices or cut workers. And the more you do it, the worse inflation and unemployment will be (you admit this too).

You should answer this question: Is it possible, by changing minimum wage law, to improve lives for America’s poor?

You admit that there is a limit to this prosperity in saying that the minimum shouldn’t be increased to, say, $40,000 a year. Why not? You acknowledge that minimum wage increases are inflationary and cause unemployment, at least when they are taken too far.

I say it is unknown what “too far” actually is. You say: let’s roll the dice.

But then you go about INSURING that things will be taken too far, by linking the yearly minimum wage increases to the inflation rate (which you are already increasing, because it is determined by increasing wages and prices).

This is a bit like adjusting your thermostat to turn the heat UP whenever the house starts getting warm.

Thermostats don’t work that way.

For a reason.

 

Saudis On The Defensive


Whether or not the Iraq war was justified by some fictional UN rules, it is certainly justified strategically for the United States.

In purely practical terms, Bush has made an adept chess move, putting the fundamentalists in the Mideast on the defensive.

If you are an advisor to Crown Prince Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, it doesn’t matter how much you hate America. Your overriding concern is keeping the Crown Prince (your employer) in power, and this is how you would advise him in practical terms:

MEMO
To: Crown Prince Abdullah
From: Your Loyal Advisor

You asked for my appraisal of our relationship with the United States.

Despite our public relations campaigns and relentless lobbying of Washington, public opinion in the US is not favorable toward us at the moment.

Many Americans believe their fight should be with Saudis, not Iraqis.

As you are aware, our policy after 911 was to frame the debate, trying to get the Americans to reexamine their policies in light of 911, particularly toward Israel. We hoped they had been made conscious of the rage those policies had caused. We were in a good position to do so at the time, because the US and the world was dependent on us for oil.

But I’m afraid our good position has changed, and so must our policies.

First of all, it looks likely that the Americans will soon have much more control over the price of oil in the future. Their development of the oil fields in Iraq is continuing, and Iraq will be able to drown the world in cheap oil, whenever the US deems it necessary. This is no idle threat to us and our way of life.

Second, the American response has certainly been much more aggressive than we had feared. These wreckless cowboys are taking advice from no one but themselves. They apparently decided that the blame for 911 lies in our region, and they choose to view this region as having a sickness. Fools though they may be, the Americans believe they are in a position to heal "the disease" of Islamic fundamentalism.

This puts us in great danger.

In the aftermath of 911, they destroyed, without serious military difficulty, two of the five most repressive (in their opinion, sir) governments in the region. Three were left standing (Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria), but many influential Americans have talked of destroying each one of them on various occasions. And as you know, our kingdom is the most weakly defended of the three, and our Wahabi philosophy is the basis of Al Qaeda philosophy.

The Americans have 150,000 troops just to the north and there are several aircraft carrier battle groups just outside our ports. They are not an immediate threat, because they currently have their hands full in Iraq.

The Americans have no desire (at the moment) to destroy us, but that could change.

We are on thin ice at the moment, your excellency. If you wish to maintain the monarchy for your son to inherit, there is one thing that we absolutely must do:

We must make sure that another 911 does not happen. If a terrorist action of that magnitude occurs, and Saudis are again viewed as the perpetrators, the consequences for your government will be dire.

The US will pump oil of Iraq at full steam, destroying our only source of income. They are currently building up the capacity to do just that. The US Air Force could destroy our military from the air, and American troops could occupy our oil fields. Your government would be chased into hiding.

You see, sir, when Americans are fighting a swarm of bees, and they will swat at anything that flies. Whether they are right or wrong is quite is irrelevant; it is the danger they pose to the House of Saud that is important.

We must crackdown on all terrorist elements in our nation. NOW.

It must be serious, and not just a show. Funding of terrorism throughout through out the region must cease, and we must crack down on every Iman who is preaching jihad. The airwaves must not be used to incite hatred of the West. We must make gestures of reform, and we must hope that they do not ignite our restive populace.

There comes a time in a game of chess, your excellency, when you have to realize that your opponent is more powerful than you are.

At that time, you have to play defensively, and hope he makes a mistake. Most of the time, though, you feel as though he is forcing to make each move. Perhaps the Iraqi situation will deteriorate (and we can encourage this by trying to get the Americans to withdraw early) or perhaps the antiwar feelings in the US will escalate, and politically they will be forced to give up Iraq.

We might yet get lucky.

But for now, we must crackdown on terrorism and anyone in the country who is supporting it. As reluctant though we may be, we are forced to be an American ally in the war terrorism.

As humiliating as it is, this is my advice to you.


It is in this light that I view stories like this: the Saudis are busting up terror rings and cracking down on the fire-breathing Imans.

And this is interesting too:

American intelligence officials say Mr. Hussein's former secretary told interrogators that the Iraqi leader split from his two sons on April 10. Uday and an aide fled to Syria, but were forced back into Iraq.


Why would Syria refuse to help our enemies?

And this is also interesting:Iran Arrests "Senior Al Qaeda Leaders."

These people don't love America.

They fear America.

And fear is a very good stimulus.

It’s nice to know that even crazy people understand reason when their survival is at stake.

And the brilliance of the Iraq War has been to give our real enemies no choice but to cooperate with us.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
 

 

Nice Work, PETA!


Vegetarian diet may do as well as cholesterol drugs.

I don't give a crap. Tofu Bulghar wheat salad? Lentil pilaf with bean sprouts? That shit gives me gas.

I'll take the drugs.

 

Perhaps We Should be More Repressive?


Dictators are welcome at the UN, but provisional councils are not.

 

You Don't Say!


In an insightful analysis, the political scientists (!) at the Philly Inquirer have gotten out their Rage-O-Meter and taken their readings, and they have found that public anger over Iraq has reached 0.4 Watergates. Even after the deaths of Uday and Qusay, the meter only lost a fraction of a 'Gate.

Uh Oh.

They conclude somberly: Deaths Unlikely to Silence Bush Critics.

Damn, I guess that settles it.

(I'm reminded of the Republicans going overboard with glee with the Monica Lewinsky flap and the public revulsion (with them) that followed.)

 

Weekend At Budha's, Part II


In the sequel to this very popular movie, the crazy monks return, trying spruce up the now mummified Buddhist monk to fool tourists who think the wise old monk is still alive! Hilarity ensues when the sunglasses and dirty robe don't quite do the trick! The zany monks resort to throwing voices and moving lifeless limbs to keep the laughs coming!

 

Feinstein Endorses Vouchers in D.C.


Everyone eventually has to face facts. D.C. has been run by Congress for years, and it is where Congress tests its ideas about education. The spending is extremely high ($10,700 per student) and the outcomes are pitiful. Washington has some of the worst schools in the nation. Not a single member of Congress would send his or her kids there.

These clear facts have many liberals abandoning the education lobby, and supporting a way for gifted, poor students to escape the trap of D.C. public schools.

Let's hope more people follow Dianne Feinstein in recognizing what has become a clear fact: More money does not improve schools in neighborhoods where teenage pregnancy is the norm.

 

Three Stories From The Gulf


Of course, no good has come from the American invasion of Iraq. But it is interesting how Arab leaders are saying some curious things(Thanks to James Taranto):
JEDDAH, 21 July 2003 — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd and Syrian President Bashar Assad expressed the hope yesterday that a legitimate government in Baghdad, acceptable to the Iraqi people, would be formed soon.

These are especially interesting words from a dictator and hereditary monarch. When was the last time either country held anything resembling a free and fair election? Their statements are being run word-for-word by their state controlled medias.

Do you think their people are asking that same question? I sure do.

Maybe someday, the celebrations in Baghdad going on today (after the deaths of Saddam's sons) will be in Riyadh, Tehran and Damascus. Let us hope.

Andrew Sullivan, though, points out that some the region's crusty despots still have the old policy down, deflecting anger at Israel and building the missiles needed to destroy it.
TEHRAN, July 20 (AFP) - Iran's supreme leader on Sunday inaugurated a new ballistic missile that brings Israel within range of the Islamic republic, hailing the event as a key moment in the defence of the Palestinian cause.





Tuesday, July 22, 2003
 

Choosing The Right Skunk For You


Due to the high demand, too few pet owners take the time to find the skunk with the right temperment for them.

 

The Frogs! The Frogs! Lord Help Us!


What the hell are they protesting now? They’re pissed off about corporations forcing genetically modified food into Mumia and destroying the environment, so naturally they protest cyclists: Protestors halt the Tour De France.

 

Uh Oh! Now the EU Is Getting Mad!


The useless EU warns Iran. The Mullahs must be scared!

 

American Disability Law: Fertile Soil for Lawyers


UPS Settles Bias Suit Brought By Deaf Workers.

At the trial, Babaranti Oloyede, a Bay area employee at U.P.S., testified that the company refused to provide him with an interpreter during a safety training session on watching for packages that might carry anthrax. He said that over 10 years the company never provided a qualified interpreter for any other training...

The company will pay $4.1 million in lawyers' fees and distribute $5.8 million to the plaintiffs, with the amount ranging from $5,000 to $60,000.


Soon, paraplegics will sue because they aren't being given help loading packages onto the trucks. And the blind employess will sue because the address labels aren't printed in braille and no one has time to direct them to the right truck. When companies show reluctance hiring workers AND assistants for the new hires, they'll be sued for discrimination.

And when companies go out of business, they'll be sued for no longer paying their workers....

 

Tongue Transplants


Ever since I was a little boy, I have been embarrassed by the shape of my tongue. Now there's hope.

 

The Feel Good Treaty


The idea of abadoning Kyoto looks better all the time. Now we learn this from the Independent:
"the latest [EU] member states' emission data show that 10 of the 15 member states are a long way off track for their agreed share of the EU greenhouse-gas emissions target."

I'm stunned. It's almost like they think restarting their moribund economies is more important than global warming! It's like it was all a big PR show, with the US cast as the evil villain.
As FLIT puts it:
With the Kyoto environmental accord, there's signature, ratification, and actually following the treaty. Signing is easy, if you don't intend to ratify. Ratification is easy, if you don't intend to follow the requirements, and finally, following the requirements is easy if your economy happens to have imploded since the treaty start date of 1990. The stronger your economic growth is, the less likely you will be able to fit into the Kyoto restriction regime.


Prediction? Next Russia will sign the treaty, accept the international accolades for doing so, and then promptly ignore all of its terms.

I've always thought that Kyoto was dumb from a purely economic perspective: if the rich countries cut their oil usage, it would cause a worldwide oil glut, and the price of oil would be lowered. Lower prices would inspire more oil usage in poorer parts of the world
(Like China and India), particularly in industries where profligate oil usage is not currently economically viable. In summation, you can't defeat the market.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the US media to print this story. It's still too much fun using Kyoto to bash Bush!

Monday, July 21, 2003
 

It’s Gonna Be Kerry, Dammit.


Let’s end all the suspense about the name of the Democratic nominee for president. The media has an interest in prolonging these things, making it look like it’s an open field. And it never is. Despite all the rhetoric and all the noise about Howard Dean, the backroom boys still control things in the major parties using superdelegates, and they are not not as dumb as many of the left-wing nut jobs who make up the most noisy portion of the Democratic faithful.

Forget about Sharpton, Moseley-Braun, and Kucinich. Gephardt is too boring, and Edwards doesn’t even look like he can hold on to his Senate seat, much less win the presidency. Graham is paranoid and strange. I think Lieberman is a decent guy, who was tarred by his unsavory flip-flopping during the 2000 race with Al Gore (there is also the uncomfortable question of whether a Jew on the top of the ticket could win in the Bible Belt).

Assuming no else jumps in, it’s going to come down to Kerry against Dean, and Kerry will win because the Democrats are smarter than they get credit for. Dean is a foreign policy lightweight and in the post-911 world, that's never going to fly. If the Democrats really want win (and I think they do), they’ll pick Kerry. I predict that after this summer of Dean rapture, they will come to their senses and begin to get serious about Kerry.

He’s not without his warts. But he also has advantages.

First, he is a Massachusetts liberal: pro gun control, anti-death penalty (a hard sell in the South and West). But he is avid hunter and a decorated war veteran (he is credited with charging his boat, guns ablaze, toward a key defensive position and sending the VietCong into retreat).

Second, he comes off as haughty, but he has access to loads of money.

Third, he is passes for a hawk in Democratic circles. The Democrats idolize Kennedy, but they forget that Kennedy was a diehard cold warrior: he was more interventionist than Eisenhower, and he believed that this country had an important role upholding freedom.

Kerry voted for the Iraq war, though he has flip-flopped lately. This doesn’t impress people with brains who value consistency, but he is trying to impress the hippies, so the brain issue might not be a problem.

My money and my hopes are still with Bush. For whatever blemishes stain his domestic policy, his foreign policy has been logical and methodical. He has moved us into a good strategic position, against the wishes of much of the world.

But if the economy worsens, and if Americans do not understand our tremendous strategic leverage that we earned in Iraq , then Kerry might very well be president.

It could happen.

Saturday, July 19, 2003
 
If you are seeing "shimering" posts on this blog, I am sorry for it. I have contacted Blogger about the problem but I don't think they'll do anything. I am beginning to see why people to go to Moveable Type so frequently!

In order to correct the problem, it is easy to select the post with your mouse and a click of the left mouse button. That causes the "shimering" areas to reappear. It's annoying, but it works.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

 

Minimum Wage Thoughts



This started as a reply to my comments at Shared Thought, but it took on a life of its own. Shared Thought is running a great website, full of interesting commentary. Though I disagree will just about all of it, I read it to keep myself honest.

The commenter defended the idea of the minimum wage and asked what would be wrong with linking annual increases in the minimum wage to the rate of inflation.

On the surface, it sounds like a wonderful idea. The liberal voice inside me said “yes!” when I first read it.

But, as is usually the case, the killjoy side of my personality took over with a warning: not so fast, sunshine. You can’t legislate wealth. Whenever anybody’s selling that crap, my hands tighten around my wallet.

The crux of the problem is that wage increases are inflationary. (I’ve read liberals scoff at this idea, but I think they are letting wishful thinking get the best of their mercurial selves. An increase in wages can be offset by other unpredictable factors (interest rates, money supply, GDP growth…), so it is not necessarily so that you get inflation every time you raise the minimum wage. It’s a bit like saying the last time I put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger nothing happened, so I think I’ll do this all the time).

Increasing wages are by definition inflationary. Increasing the minimum wage causes salaries to increase throughout the pay scale: the guy who was making $8.45 before the minimum wage increase will soon want $10 (why not? He’s got two years experience over the entry level guy!), and the guy who made $10 wants $13...etc.

Eventually, this will affect prices, on which the rate of inflation is based.

So as the rate of inflation increase, so does the indexed minimum wage. Thus, indexing wage increases to the rate of inflation creates a dangerous spiral. Congress - which rarely makes intelligent decisions - did indeed make a good one when it avoided tying the minimum wage to the rate of inflation.

I think that the minimum wage is a bad idea in itself, because it hurts the very people it aims to protect – low skilled workers – by denying them jobs. The minimum wage (at its current meager level) puts the US at a relative disadvantage to, say, Mexico. And the jobs that go south tend to be low skill, minimum wage jobs. One could make an argument that minimum wage laws destroyed the US textile industry (you could also argue that this in itself was not a bad thing. It was shitty work, but losing those jobs did increase US unemployment).

Raising the minimum wage does little to help the poor (most poor people earn somewhat more than the minimum wage), and wage increases are eventually offset by increases in prices. In addition, most people who earn minimum wage are kids, working in their first jobs and living in their parents’ houses.

I think the noise is Ted Kennedy's belief that he is looking out for the little guy. Kennedy, who spends more on alcohol in a month than minimum wage workers earn in a year, complains that “employees working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, earn $10,700 a year, or $4,500 below the poverty line for a family of three.”

Uh, a family of three? How does it happen that someone with a minimum wage job ends up supporting a family of three?

In liberal mythology, it’s all chance. But in truth, it is very likely that a person is driven to these conditions by a series of stupid life decisions, decisions that society must discourage (and poverty is excellent at doing this).

It boils down to the fundamental liberal misreading of American poverty. Simply stated, it sounds something like this: if the poor had higher incomes, they would be just like the middle class.

It’s bullshit.

Poor people almost always become poor for a reason: they decided to have child when they were young and unmarried, they dropped out of high school, or they thought it would be cool to be a junkie.

Poverty is the necessary result.

Rewarding people who make those bad decisions sends the wrong message.

Poverty is sometimes deserved, just as wealth is sometimes deserved. I don’t know why this obvious statement so inflames liberals, but it does.

It is essential for society’s survival that a twelve-year-girl look at her sixteen-year-old sister, throwing away her life away as a teenage mother, and say this to herself: “There is no way in hell I’m going to let that happen to me.”

And in our uncaring times, that is exactly what is happening:

Births to teenagers (have) continued to fall, reaching an all-time low in 2001 of 25 births for every 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17. The drop was particularly strong among black teens.


Minimum wage laws, welfare, and food stamps are part of the same evil brew, discouraging responsibity among the poor, thus ensuring that they will remain in poverty.

The less we “care,” the more people will take responsibility for their own behavior and the better things will get.

Honest. This a former liberal talking.

 

UN irrelevance


UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will next week make an official recommendation to the Security Council that sovereignty in Iraq be restored quickly to the Iraqi people, according to a report.

I love stories like this, because they reveal how clueless the UN is.

"Restore sovereignity to the Iraqi people?"

"Restore?"

What a choice of words! Saddam killed at least 300,000 of his own people, and we are still finding the mass graves of mothers and children.

But in the eyes of the UN, he was legitimate: the Iraqis had the honor of being slaughtered by a sovereign, an Iraqi who had their best interests at heart!

It's not big news: the UN is full of apologists for dictatorship.

But when it comes to sheer hypocrisy, they've got nothing on the Arab League. The head of that loathsome institution criticized the Iraqi council as being illegimate because the Iraqis did not vote for it.

Very cheeky.

How many countries in the Arab League have democratically elected governments?

That's right. None of them.


 

Let the Pandering Begin!


Few things are as much fun as watching the befuddled Democratic presidential hopefuls bow down before the jackboots at the NAACP:
NAACP leaders had lambasted the three lawmakers when they didn't appear at Monday's forum, which was attended by the other Democratic candidates: Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Bob Graham of Florida, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton.

They shared the stage with four empty chairs, each labeled with the name of a contender who did not attend - Lieberman, Gephardt, Kucinich, and President Bush.

"If you expect us to believe that you could not find 90 minutes to come by and address the issues affecting our nation, then you have no legitimacy over the next nine months in our community," NAACP President Kweisi Mfume told the convention Monday. "In essence, you now have become persona non grata. Your political capital is the equivalent of Confederate dollars."

Mfume said Thursday the organization "appreciated the spirit" in which the Democratic hopefuls apologized and "accordingly we have accepted them.

What arrogance Mfume demostrates! But the Democrats are falling over themselves to apologize to His Lordship, instead of just giving him the finger (Shh! It's too early in the campaign to denounce Sista Souljah!).

The smartest one of the bunch (IMHO), in desperation, took his apology just a little too far:

A few days after being declared "persona non grata" by the NAACP, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman suggested in a speech to the group that its leader, Kweisi Mfume, would make a good Supreme Court justice, the New Republic reported.

Mfume, however, has never been to law school.

Oops! No wonder Lieberman’s new Communications Director is named Gobush.

Friday, July 18, 2003
 

Confusion About the War


Winston Churchill in 1934: "Many people think that the best way to escape war is to dwell upon its horror. They flaunt the grisly photographs before their eyes. They fill their ears with tales of carnage. They dilate upon the ineptitude of generals and admirals."

But dictators always find a reason to make trouble, Churchill said:

"They will say: you are rich; we are poor. You seem well-fed; we are hungry. You have the past; let us have the future." And soon the day comes when they say: "You are weak; we are strong."


What is about British leaders that gives the world such poignant and brilliant oration?Tony Blair's recent speech to Congress is a masterpiece of succinct clarity and deep thought. The whole thing should be required reading for anyone who thinks the war that we are currently fighting is in vain, but here is an excerpt:
September 11 was not an isolated event, but a tragic prologue, Iraq another act, and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it's over. There never has been a time when the power of America was so necessary or so misunderstood, or when, except in the most general sense, a study of history provides so little instruction for our present day....

...The threat comes because in another part of our globe there is shadow and darkness, where not all the world is free, where many millions suffer under brutal dictatorship, where a third of our planet lives in a poverty beyond anything even the poorest in our societies can imagine, and where a fanatical strain of religious extremism has arisen, that is a mutation of the true and peaceful faith of Islam.

And because in the combination of these afflictions a new and deadly virus has emerged. The virus is terrorism whose intent to inflict destruction is unconstrained by human feeling and whose capacity to inflict it is enlarged by technology.

This is a battle that can't be fought or won only by armies. We are so much more powerful in all conventional ways than the terrorists, yet even in all our might, we are taught humility.

In the end, it is not our power alone that will defeat this evil. Our ultimate weapon is not our guns, but our beliefs.

There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values, or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior.

Members of Congress, ours are not Western values, they are the universal values of the human spirit. And anywhere...

Anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.

The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack. And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify it around an idea. And that idea is liberty.


Right now, there is much confusion about the war. People on the left are complaining that our troops are still being targeted and killed, or they say that Iraq was never a problem to begin with.

But Iraq was a problem. It trampled the terms of the 1991 ceasefire agreement (which kept Saddam in power), and it was financing terrorism throughout the region - most notably against Israel.

Israel is a flashpoint because it is the freest country in the region by far, the only democracy, the only succesfull economy, and our most stable ally. Arabs really don't care what happens to the Palestinians (unlike what they say), but Israel's success rankles them.

We are trying to take an Arab state and preform a similar economic and democratic transformation, and create an Arab, Muslim "Israel." This scares the hell out of every tyrant in the region, and it enrages the Muslim fanatics who believe power only comes by the sword, not from the consent of the governed.

I have never heard anyone describe the task before us as easy. We have always known that it would be a difficult road.

The left acts so disappointed about Iraq, as if they believed that we would be out of Iraq in six months after having established a democracy. Anyone so ignorant about world affairs should be barred from any job that influences US foreign policy.

In addition, they try to score political points with the death of each allied soldier.

They will not be forgiven for this.

Iraq is one stage, but it is a critical one.

There is a much broader result of this war: we will soon no longer be dependent on the Saudis for much of anything.

After September 11th, the Saudis reacted outwardly with solidarity. But when we asked for help, they told us the blame was our own policies. They refused to admit that terrorism had anything to do with them. And we listened to that crap, because we were dependent on their oil.

Now they are reacting differently. The Saudis are actually cracking down on the Imans that use state funds to preach jihad and inspire terrorism. Other states are acting too.

The entire is region is terrified by what we are doing in Iraq, and they desperately want us to fail. They are doing everything in their power to defeat us. Good.

We have changed the rules of the game: fighting terrorism is like fighting ants. This is how the Europeans and the US fought prior to 9/11: Each time an ant bit, they killed it and nursed the wound.

Ants are pesky because of their numbers. If you want to win, you have to get the queen.

And that is precisely what we are doing now.

They Saudis see the writing on the wall. Iraq will not be a member of OPEC, and when it is fully online, the US will control the price of oil. With that control we can destroy the economy of any oil producing country in the region that threatens us.

In a sense, the left has always been right about one thing. This war is about the oil. But the US and Britain are not taking it; We are paying market price to the Iraqi people. But the price will not be kept artificially high, and the revenue will no longer go to corrupt governments that sponsors terrorism against our friends.

Iraq is the first stage of a much longer war.

It is not the end in itself. It is the end of the beginning.

Thursday, July 17, 2003
 

Poor Misunderstood Blair!


The Inquirer trips over itself to tell us how misunderstood Blair Hornstine is:

The rejection undeniably gladdened many of Hornstine's detractors; some of her more hard-core critics couldn't wait to spread the word. She got what she deserved, they sniff, continuing to beat up on this teenager for having the audacity to sue the school district to preserve her status as sole valedictorian.

Gloating over this young person's setback is just plain small-minded.


Preserve her status as sole valedictorian?”

"Small minded?"

The rules were changed for Hornstine’s benefit. She was allowed to take classes at home, with private tutors, and she did not have to take the classes that her competitors did. Her tests were untimed and were taken privately.

The Weekly Standard described her advatages like this:

Blair "could take as many AP or Honors courses as she wanted to" because her home schooling eliminated scheduling conflicts--and the grades in these courses added extra points to her average. An A+ in an advanced placement course was worth 5.3 points. What's more, she had been medically excused from the gym course other students were required to take. The best a student could do in gym was an A+ worth 4.3 points, which would have dragged down her GPA. (School Superintendent) Kadri also believed that the home tutors did not grade as rigorously as some of the regular AP teachers.


Her competitors took their tests in the distracting environment of the classroom and under the pressure of a ticking clock. While they were taking PE, Hornstine was taking extra AP courses to nudge her GPA higher.

Is it "small minded" to ask for a level playing field?

Her defenders argue that Hornstine was at a disadvantage because her immune disease. Maybe so. But every child from a broken home, and every child with parents that let him stay up late watching TV is at a disadvantage too. Shouldn't every "disadvantaged" student get the goalposts moved a little closer?

If you say "yes," aren't you just creating an incentive for every parent to get his child labeled "disabled?"

I have nothing against people in wheelchairs playing basketball. What I have a problem with are wheelchair basketball players demanding places on NBA teams and insisting that the rules change to give them an advantage.



Wednesday, July 16, 2003
 

No, No! Your 15 Minutes Are Up!



Chrissie Hynde, washed-up lead singer for the Pretenders, protests against KFC in France.

Hynde, who has aged poorly, was once considered “cool” by the hip crowd.

But they drive minivans now.

The protesters have dipped their hands in red paint. This symbolizes blood, and they hope to stain people’s shirts to make them see PETA's point. It might work in France. In the USA, it would be a good way to get punched out.

I myself once thought Hynde’s music was passably good. For pop.

But you can’t eat second-hand, scratched LP’s. Even if you could, they wouldn’t taste as good as a big honkin’ bucket of Original Recipe.

PETA, which has no idea how ridiculous it looks, recently took a break from bashing the Colonel because they had fry bigger fish…uh...chunks of tofu to fry.

PETA is now pestering the infamous Milwaukee Brewers Sausage Race.

They want to race a soy wiener against the pork products.

A soy weiner.

No, you can’t make this shit up. Look, they admit it!

Saturday, July 12, 2003
 
Everyone: I will be on vacation until Tuesday!

 

Hornstine Admission Revoked!


Blair Hornstines admission to Harvard has been revoked! Yippee!

 

Sex Park


What kind of park is this?




 

Norway Should Just Go Commando!


Who would do a study like this?

The results, though, are in, and Norway should think about changing its underwear once in a while.

 

Break Up Iraq?!


Ralph Peters has spoken the unspeakable: he argues that we should break up Iraq into three separate countries if the Sunnis continue to cause problems in Baghdad.

I'm not sure.

But there are some real advantages to this idea. The Sunnis would get a country were they could maintian their dominance, but they would lose much of its oil. They'd learn the disadvantages of not playing ball (they want the status quo - Sunnis oppressing everyone else, and the idea of sharing power scares the hell out of them).

It would enrage Turkey by creating an oil rich Kurdistan on its border (Good - that "alliance" has been overtaken by events). It would enrage Saudi Arabia (our great friend - ha!) by creating a Shiite-dominated country. And it would impoverish the wretched governments of the region by lowering the price of oil (The new Kurd country and the new Shiite country would pump oil like crazy and they probably would not join OPEC). The Europeans would be pissed because anything that changes the staus quo bothers them. After all, they were perfectly happy with Saddam!

I like the idea more and more.

The disadvantage? It could cause a regional war. And the US would be providing the security guarantees to the new countries. We would have to have bases (not a bad thing) and Turkey or Iran would be foolish to get involved (but both countries are governed by fools). Instability in that region, though, is a GOOD THING, because it threatens the terrible undemocratic governments there.

Whatever we do, it is a good bet that peace-types will say we were wrong, and that all the problems our caused by our stupidity. For them, their hindsight is 20-20 and they count on everybody forgetting their predictions.

Right now, for example, they say we should withdraw from Iraq - which will CERTAINLY cause a huge regional war and it will lead to more attacks against the US (nothing emboldens terrorists more than the idea that we will cut and run).


 

More on Liberia


Amritas has contrasted my opinions on Liberian with - of all people! - Charles Krauthammer. I think Charles Krauthammer is the most insightful syndicated colummnist around today, and the fact that I disagree with him bothers me.

I can't say that going into Liberia is our interest, unless we consider the goodwill of the Liberians to be in our interest (but you can't take goodwill to the bank).

All can say is that it is the evolution of my thinking. Deep down, I'm kind of liberal. I detest tyranny. If it would cost only money and no lives, I'd love to see the US destroy every tyrannical regime out there (that is why the WMD issue doesn't rankle me in Iraq; Saddam is gone and I rejoice). But of course, nothing is that simple.

In Liberia, I really think that we can do tremendous good with a very small number of US troops. I don't even think they'll have to fight. In my past as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, I have seen some of the thugs firsthand (they were responsible for my evacuation from Sierra Leone (thank you, USMC!). The rebels don't want to fight. They don't stand for anything. The minute they see a US helicopter they'll cut and run and they'll give up the idea of a bloody siege of Monrovia. We would do the region a huge favor. West Africa never deserved this war, and it has been financed by a Moammar Kaddafi - one of big enemies. When Charles Taylor wins, so does he.

In contrast, I think getting involved in Columbia is just stupid, because I don't see us doing any good there.

Friday, July 11, 2003
 

Living Wage? No Problem!


It took about three years, but McDonald's has figured out how to deal with living wage laws. Look ma! No employees!

Living wage laws, which force fast food restaurants to pay burger flippers- I don't know, like $50,000 a year - will increase unemployment. But human ingenuity (which also goes by the name of capitalism) can often do an end run around dumb legislation.

Way to go, McDonald's!

I'll eat at McDonald's after I get done with the bucket o' chicken I got at KFC after they gave the finger to PETA.

Then - stomach full and contented - I will quietly die of heart disease.

 

Anger Management Follies


He was doing so well after his anger management class, and then he had a bad day.

Had he not snapped, he might have passed Anger Management I and moved up to Anger Management II.



 

Sausage Hater!


Only a $432 fine for hitting a...uh...sausage guy with a baseball bat? The humanity!

The barbarity of the original crime can be seen here - scroll and click on VIDEO (thanks to Armed Prophet for the link).

I myself can't bear to watch.

 

Nader On The Edge


Run, ya moonbat! Run!

Thursday, July 10, 2003
 

Recommendations


Three great blogs I found via Chris at Sociopathocracy:

Nastybastard was very funny. I was laughing my ass off at his description of particular types of …ahem..spam.

Kenneth at The Illuminated Donkey frets over the fate of the name “Kenneth” over the years at the Social Security database. I was surprised to see that the lameass boring name “John” is holding in there as well as it is. My son’s daycare is so full of Dylans, Coopers and Carters (all pretty boy names).

And Armed Prophet is just good old-fashioned political analysis with a sense of humor.

I enjoy all three and I recommend them heartily to all of my readers (oh? You just found me on Google? OK, you’re not a reader. Well, then, what about the other guy who visited ….uh.. yesterday?)

 

Lawyer Craziness



This story is so fitting:

Hundreds of thousands of people nationwide who received the Lyme disease vaccine have received what lawyers labeled an impressive settlement.

But if you are one of the recipients of Lymerix shots, don't bother looking for a check in the mail.

The benefits from an agreement finalized last week with the vaccine's manufacturer, SmithKline Beecham Corp., now GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C., are not monetary - unless you are one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, who will split more than $1 million.


Even sleazier than you thought possible. But the trial lawyers keep on winning!

 

Voting Matters


I just took the presidential selector, a quick test that tells you which presidential candidate (real or possible) you agree with most. I guess I'm kind of a libertarian:

1. Libertarian Candidate (100%)
2. Bush, George W. – US President (94%)
3. Bayh, Senator Evan, IN – Democrat (79%)
4. McCain, Senator John, AZ – Republican (72%)
5. Daschle, Senate Minority Leader, SD – Democrat (70%)

Daschle?! How the hell did he get in there? I can't stand that nutjob! And I think the deciding factor between Bush and the unnamed Libertarian candidate was marijuana. No! I wasn't smoking it! I think it should be legalized, GWB does not.

 

Union Blues


Philadelphia is a city where every worker has a silly union, and every silly union has a dumb grievance. It makes Philly the lovable shithole it is, and it is one of the primary reasons that most “Philadelphians” actually live in the suburbs.

When a union-approved stage frame collapsed and nearly killed Sandra Day O’Connor at the Constitution Center, the union was quick to say that shoddy workmanship was not involved.

Right.

They approved the stage, but now they are quick to play the blame game. First they blame the drillers’ union (Yes, there probably is such a thing in Philly):

Barnes said that stagehands reported there were no pre-drilled holes in the base plates anchoring the frames.


And they blame the designers:

"No stagehands missed anything," Local 8 business manager Michael Barnes said during a news conference at Penn's Landing as the band Lynyrd Skynyrd did sound checks on a stage behind him. "There were no blueprints on site, no sharing of blueprints."


In the process of blaming everyone else, they denigrate themselves: are these professionals so clueless that they don’t KNOW that a six hundred pound frame needs support? They need designers (designers!) to tell them how to do their jobs (the job of securing the huge plank of wood)?

They make themselves sound no better than the UNSKILLED labor they always denounce in the suburbs (the Mexican immigrants who build everything in the suburbs, cheaply and efficiently).These are the very people that have slaughtered the golden cow in Philadelphia: the Convention Center. Unions muscled their way in and took over everything, annoying the hell out of any poor trade convention that happened to think Philly would be a swell place to visit. The result? The Convention Center is now a dormant shell.


Wednesday, July 09, 2003
 

US Gun Nuts!


Steven Den Beste (indispensible as always) pointed me to an article stating simply that American gun ownership is out of control.

As Steven says, if the freest, richest, smartest, most powerful, most inventive, most economically dynamic country in the world has liberal laws regarding private gun ownership, maybe it should serve as an example to the world and not a pariah.

I agree completely, and I believe that the UN has been watching that "Bowling For Columbine" silliness.

It is interesting to note the progression of "thought" in the anti-gun crowd. They once thought that strict gun laws would make crime go down in the cities. But in cities with very strict gun laws (Washington, New York, Detroit), gun crime actually got worse after laws were enacted.

They argued (justifiably) that guns were being smuggled in by criminals (who, btw, don't care about gun laws). Gun laws needed to be federal, they said, so that guns could be stopped at the border. Then, gun crime would go down. (They were immune to the obvious: gun crimes are not generally committed by legal gun owners).

If only there was an island somewhere, to serve as a test of this hypothesis.

In fact there are two:

Britain enacted some of the strictest gun laws in the world after the Dunblane massacre in 1996. Gun crime there is exploding. (One of the most common crimes in Britain (and most terrifying to me personally) is home invasion: armed burglars burst in, take a family hostage and rob them. Tha kind of crime is very rare in the US, simply because criminals never know when they might encounter an armed homeowner. Thieves "case" a house to make sure that the homeowner is gone before entering.):

Gun crimes during the first 10 months of the annual period have trebled in most of the urban areas which have so far submitted statistics to the Home Office. Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said gun gangs were spreading across the country whereas, until recently, they were confined to a handful of London boroughs.

Sir John said: "We have to stem the large number of guns coming in. We know you can buy a gun in London for £200 to £300, and that's frightening. The price of hiring or buying a gun has come down because there are more guns circulating. We are having success; we are taking out about 600 guns a year."

The new gun crime figures also show that handgun crime has soared past levels last seen before the Dunblane massacre of 1996 and the ban on the weapons that followed.



Australia (thank you Tim Blair) also enacted strict gun laws with a similar result:

Australia's gun legislation was the most up-to-date in the Pacific region, the survey said, with average annual firearm imports dropping 66 per cent since gun laws were tightened in 1996/97 after the Port Arthur killings.

However in the 2001/02 financial year Australian customs officials seized 812 illegally imported firearms with hundreds of thousands believed to have made it onto the market.

And from 1999 to 2002 the number of robberies involving firearms in Sydney's most populated areas rose by 34 per cent, while handgun homicide has grown from 13 to 50 per cent since Martin Bryant killed 35 people at the Port Arthur tourist site in Tasmania in April 1996.


Now how can anyone argue that strict gun laws prevent gun crime?

Oh, but they will! What we need now is global gun control!










 

Liberia?


Provided that the troops can be spared, I would like to see us go into Liberia.

Liberia is a very pro-American country in a confused region. It is 20% Muslim, but many of the countries that neighbor it have much larger Muslim populations. People in the region admire the US when it can help, but often they look at US motives skeptically, with good reason (see Congo (Zaire)). The war that spilled over into Sierra Leone was one of the cruelest that the world has seen in a long time.

As in Haiti, I don’t think our intervention would be a big deal. The mere threat of it has Charles Taylor offering to step down and seeking refuge in Nigeria (this from a complete scumbag who vowed to fight to the death and never resign). This is a smart move since he would , if captured, be executed quickly by his own people for war crimes (he deserves it).

In Liberia, I think you are likely to see large crowds waving American flags (which will gall Europeans, of course), and rebels who quickly fade back into the populace and give up when faced with real military force. The situation in West Africa has always been a “law and order” situation (the inability and unwillingness of the government to enforce the law), not a “civil war” (where issues of real political policy are involved).

Unilaterally, Britain was able – with a small commitment of troops –to stop much of the fighting in Sierra Leone. (By contrast, France (working within UN mandates, naturally) has managed to do little more than secure itself a good seat to the bloodshed in the Congo.)

What does the US gain? Sometimes, I’m afraid, doing the right thing is its own reward. We may possibly sway Africa toward us. Right now, most Africans are benign Muslims. We have seen less benign Muslims operating easily in several African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Malawi, Somalia and Sudan come to mind. But the populations generally hate there rabble-rousing and intolerance, and active US engagement in Africa might help maintain that.

I don’t have any illusions about a long term African rebirth. I wish I could see that coming.

But all of this is contigent on wheter we can spare the troops right now. Iraq is - and it should remain - the priority.

(A quick admission: I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone in 1991-92, prior to the bloodshed. In many ways, the Africans that I knew were the most caring and innocent people in the world, completely undeserving of, and unprepared for, the war Charles Taylor forced upon them. Long term, Africa will have to help itself through economic reform, but without stability (which the US can easily provide) economic reform is impossible.)

 

Aging Hippies Threaten Nude Protests Over FRANKENFISH!


At least Starlink corn stays still! These little genetically-modified buggers swim! GM glow-in–the-dark fish! And they are swimming this way!

The newest weird fad from Asia.



Tuesday, July 08, 2003
 

The End of the Line for the Big Brewers?


I was in the elevator yesterday with some maintenance guys at my company. They were all real blue-collar types, and they were arguing about the best drinking beers for summer.

Call me a snob (I’m not), but I expected the discussions to be along the lines of “Less Filling! Tastes Great!” or Bud vs. Miller.

No way.

The three contenders? Murphy’s Irish Stout, Guinness and Sam Adams.

That discussion would have been unthinkable ten years ago (when only beer geeks drank those beers), and five years ago, those beers were strictly white collar.

Who's drinking Bud now?

Even when I was a young kid, I knew the American beer market left something to be desired (even though I never had a brew until I was 21, of course). Other countries would talk about lagers, ales, bocks, doppelbocks, India pales, stouts, weizens…But we only had standard American Lager: lifeless, pale yellow pisswater, produced in industrial-sized vats in Milwaukee.

It’s capitalism in action: giving choice to the consumer!

 

Honor The Horse, Of Course!


Schumer and Clinton Honor New York's Own Funny Cide on Senate Floor

US Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton today introduced a resolution in the US Senate honoring Funny Cide, the New York-based gelding who won this year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Schumer and Clinton said that the horse, purchased for $75,000 by a few high school friends from Sackets Harbor, was a model for other New Yorkers and Americans about how perseverance can overcome even the longest of odds.


Yes, millions of underpriveleged American schoolchildren will hit the books after learning about Funny Cide, and the trial of being a wunderhorse.

Sometimes I think politicians have gone out of the minds...




 

Porcine Antics


I read this disturbing story about the comedian strapping a motor to dead pig and riding it around like a boat in Norway.

Animal rights nuts are, predictably, "outraged." But I'm not all that concerned about the plight of the pig. Pigs die all the time, and even if they have hard life, their suffering is worth it.

Face it: they're yummy.

I'm more worried about the apparently dismal state of Norwegian comedy (the Norwegians have always been a riot, but they never quite made it up to the standard of those wacky Finns.)

When this kind of lame-ass shit draws a hearty laugh, something's not quite right with your head. (Maybe there’s something wrong with the pickled herring?)

All of the great Norwegian comics of the past must be rolling in the graves.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it. Maybe that legendary Norwegian sense of humor is still going strong. Maybe this guy is just a jackass bore, like a Norwegian Tom Green .

 

Affirmative Actions Band Aids


Important and very true: the dismally unequal state of American education, dependent on the crutch of racial bias . (via Joanne Jacobs):

The hard fact is that there's no "evidence that the gap in credentials between black and white students is shrinking," as Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out in his dissenting opinion. To the contrary, after gaining substantially on whites in various measures of academic skills from 1971 (when comparative data were first collected) until about 1988, African-Americans have made no visible progress over the past 15 years; by some key measures, they have lost ground. If this trend continues, the number of African-Americans capable of winning admission to our most selective universities on their academic merits may well be even smaller 25 years hence than it is now.


No evidence that racial preferences are working? The academics with a near chemical dependency on “positive” bias aren’t troubled by such things (blacks have had a 70% dropout rate in college for years)! They are immune to facts and results.

The appearance of a diverse and accepting community (as fake as it is) is more important than a rigorous academic environment where people excel solely on merit.

Fake credentials have a way of catching up with reality, though, and these people shouldn’t think they are fooling anyone:

I was at lunch the other day with five young white professionals, all new parents. One man had taught science to pre-meds. He said, based on what he’d witnessed, if his son was seriously ill, there was no way he would want a black doctor.

“I love my son too much, and black doctors haven’t had the same level of preparation.”

Everyone agreed, reluctantly.

This was a group where if someone had said the word “nigger,” a fight would have broken out.

And there it is: defacto racism, brought to you by stupid liberalism.

Monday, July 07, 2003
 

Animal Hate Crimes


Who will speak for the prairie dogs?

 

The Death Knell for the Arab Tyrannies?


Amir Taheri argues that the Arabs have tried every bad idea in government in last century. The recent war in Iraq is adding to the pressure to try the only one left: liberal democracy.

 

Iraq Redux


An interesting opinion piece in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, written by Walid Phares, a professor Middle East Studies at Florida Atlantic University:

In conclusion, the attacks are less of a nationwide revolt than another chapter of jihadism. What we have is irreducible Baathists, unleashed Wahabis, and nervous Khomeinists - all of whom oppose the United States, but none of whom can survive any upcoming democracy.


I think that hits the nail on the head. Iraq is not in “revolt” and sinking into a quagmire, as NPR is fond of saying. Democracy is an uncertain concept to those who have never experienced it. But to thugs, it is terrifying.

The surest way to lose the peace in Iraq would be to hand the country over to these people. They would turn the country into a bloodbath, and it might even erupt into to a full-blown, regional catastrophe. It would confirm a longstanding Arab perception about America: US public opinion will never tolerate casualties. This would embolden the more radical terrorist organizations out there into thinking that they, too, can intimidate the US public.

Naturally, the far left, immune to these facts and desperate to turn a military victory into a humanitarian disaster, is all for withdrawing the troops.

 

Saudi Arabia to Host Conference on Human Rights


Oh....My....God. Have they no shame?

Sunday, July 06, 2003
 
Anyone seeking to understand why Asian schools lead the world needs to know that they still have discipline. Real discipline.


 
I love the Shark Blog. Here's why:

The Seattle Times reports on the Berlusconi flap under the headline Italy's prime minister 'regrets' Nazi remark; latest in series of gaffes. The article lists some examples of Berlusconi's prior "gaffes", including the following:

"We should be conscious of the superiority of our civilization, which consists of a value system that has given people widespread prosperity in those countries that embrace it, and guarantees respect for human rights and religion. This respect certainly does not exist in the Islamic countries."


As Michael Kinsley once said, "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth."


Berlusconi was only pointing out the obvious, and he has the gift of bluntness. Anyone "offended" by this "gaffe" needs to read the papers. Berlusconi may a crook, but I would have voted for him over any of the crappy leaders Italy has had since World War II.



Saturday, July 05, 2003
 

Run Jerry Run!


Jerry Springer is seriously considering running for the US Senate.

Think about that.

Jerry. Springer.

Yeah, that Jerry Springer. The Democratic Senator from Ohio. It's so natural, so perfect.

How can we fan this man's ego?
Come on Jerry! Please!


 
Is BLOGGER having issues again?

Portions of my posts keep vanishing. They come back when I click around. What is the cause of this problem?

Friday, July 04, 2003
 

Enough Already!


More nude protests?

What’s up with this crap?

Some aging hippie gets fired up about Iraq-bound US soldiers testfiring depleted uranium shells into genetically-modified lab animals and this is how he wants to inspire the apathetic masses?

“I’m so pissed I’m going to do something radical,” says Sunshine Flabbass.“I’m going to City Hall to take off my clothes!”

Don't put pictures of these people in the paper! Put the jackasses in the slammer for lewd and indecent behavior. Those laws have to come in handy sometime.

 

Next Time God, Could You Be A Little More Subtle?



Lightning Strikes Preacher Who Asked God For A Sign.

A witness to the near electrocution of the minister said it was "awesome! Just awesome!" (The kind of response one would expect from Wayne. It must have been a strange church.)

No, it's not from The Onion. I saw it on the Drudge Report.

 

The World's Dumbest Future Wife Beater


Before you try on the wife beating mentality with your girlfriend, it's a good idea to make sure that you can really take her.

A girlfriend who beats your dumb ass at arm wrestling is probably not the woman for you.


 

Add Another to the Dead Dictator's Club



I'm going to go out on a limb and agree with Chris at sociopathocracy: Saddam is DEAD.

Once I start hearing about audiotapes, that ices it for me.

He's as dead as Osama (a subject I've brooched before and am now too lazy to go and find).

Thursday, July 03, 2003
 

It takes a Village to Fisk an Idiot



Rachel Lucas says it would take a whole village of fiskers to properly deconstruct the logic of Michael Moore’s latest .

How could anyone be a fan of this loser? It's clear he needs therapy (and when I started the Therapy Sessions, I thought I had the psychiatric problem!).

Fisking him is like sharpshooting cows.

I am worried though. It is best not to argue with an idiot. A witness might not be able to distinguish you from the fool. Does this apply in fisking? Do I now look as dumb as a brick because I'm arguing with Michael Moore?

Come to think of it, my brain is feeling jelly-like...

Dear Lt. George W. Bush,

I hope you don't mind me referring to you by the only true military rank you ever achieved, that being the one from your on-again, off-again "days" in the, um, Texas Air National Guard. Ever since I saw you in that flyboy outfit, landing on that ship, I assumed you now wanted to be addressed by your military title, as opposed to the civilian rank imposed on you by your dad's friends.


Oh Boy. Looks like somebody needs a refresher course in the art of persuasion.

Rule#1: Keep your cool.

Moore is writing with clenched teeth: he has probably broken the point of his pen (crayon?) several times. This is the tone of a man who just got sacked, got drunk, totaled his car, and drank two pots of coffee to calm down.

This is not a rational voice here, no sir.

When writing something like, I don’t know, a PUBLIC letter to the President of the United States, it's best to wait until after the anger management therapy (or at least wait until the end of your Time Out).

I saw the guy on TV yesterday that your boys found, the Iraqi who said he had “planted” some nuclear plans in his “back yard” in Baghdad -- 12 years ago – “under a rose bush.”

Woo boy. That's a good one. Do you really think we are as dumb as we look?


Uh, It depends on what who you mean by “we.”

There is nothing trivial about the concealment and preservation of NUCLEAR CENTRIFUGE parts. They were supposed to be turned over and destroyed 12 years ago. The fact that they were preserved is evidence that they were to be used again, exactly as the scientist claimed.

A nuclear weapon is Saddam’s hands? Not a good thing.

You see, George, it's not the lying and the doctoring of intelligence that has me all upset.


No “innocent until proven guilty” for Michael Moore. No acknowledgement that intelligence gathering is a fickle, uncertain business. There are double spies giving fake info, people who want to settle scores making up stuff about rivals, and people who hated Saddam and were willing to say anything to get him killed.

Nope, it all boils down to BUSH LIED.

The problem with such simplistic thinking is it ignores the evidence. Why did Saddam treat biologists and chemists so well (they were among the most pampered officials) and why were they working with high-ranking military officials? Military types and scientists mix like oil and water, and thugs like Saddam have no fascination for science. Why were promising students given government scholarships to study abroad (provided they studied nuclear science)? Iraq has more oil than it needs. Why would it need nuclear scientists?

Why would Saddam have destroyed his weaponry to satisfy UN demands and then kept it a secret from the UN? This makes no sense. He could have shown all the incinerated weaponry and gotten sanctions lifted, and he’d still be there today.

Why did other governments (France, China, Russia and even the UN) make the same conclusions that the US did about Iraq’s arsenal?

The answers to these questions are unknown. It is still a mystery and an important one. But Moore has it all figured out.

And he is eager to shut the book and title it: BUSH LIED!

What’s the rush? Let’s find out the real truth.

It's that you've had control of Iraq for over two months now -- and you couldn't even find the time to plant just a few nukes or vats of nerve gas and at least make it LOOK like you weren't lying to us.

You see, by not faking some evidence of weapons of mass destruction, it shows that you thought no one would mind if it turned out you made everything up.


No, it shows respect for the truth and respect for Americans. This is what Americans expect and deserve. Americans can handle the truth. And they are prepared to wait to find it.

So you quickly produced this man and his rose bush and some 12-year old piece (sic) of paper and some metal parts. CNN broke in at 5:15pm and screamed they had the exclusive! "IRAQI NUCLEAR PLANS FOUND!" But a few good reporters started asking some hard questions -- and, barely 3 hours later, your own administration was forced to admit the plans were "not the smoking gun” proving that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.


Illogical: If the administration had “produced this man,” as Moore alleges, one would think they would trumpet the findings, not dampen them.

I know, I need help.


Yes, you do. Moore is crying out for therapy.

It is useful to ask why some country (France?) has not come out and accused the US of lying. They would love to, but they can't.

Why? Their governments are reluctant to look like idiots when the truth comes out.

Looney left-wing nuts like Moore lack that sense of caution.

Hell, they’ve been wrong so many times that the public lost count and stopped paying attention years ago.

Rachel says he may be crazy.

I agree.


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