Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Got this one from the mysterious W, formerly of "Merde In France," now of Miffed Again. Seems that the French just hate Lance Armstrong, not because they're narcissistic fascists, but just because:
Americans, you are hated here (Les américains, vous êtes détestés ici)
After Lance Armstrong's 6th record Tour de France victory yesterday, France2 TV (State television and keeper of the State Party Line) presented a poll which ranked Lance as France's 3rd most hated sports personality. The main reason given? 'Because he is American'. Such is the across-the-board anti-Americanism that is currently eating away at France, a country now submerged by obsessional hatred of Jews and Americans. French house organs now admit that the hatred is not directed only against Bush as some of France's lesser intellects continue to affirm.

Don't you just love them?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

HEAD FOR THE EQUATOR! The next ice age is coming! In 15,000 years! So says Richard Ingham of Agençe France-Presse who wasn't there

The next ice age is more than 15,000 years away, according to evidence from an Antarctic ice core, the deepest and oldest ever extracted. The core gives us a 740,000-year record of the planet's climate, including the past eight ice ages, and interglacials, the periods in between. A consortium of European researchers published its study in the latest issue of the journal Nature. The scientists endured temperatures as low as minus 40ºC to drill the sample at a site so remote that the nearest research outpost was 1000 kilometers away by tractor across the white wilderness.
Notice that it was lifted from "the latest issue of the journal Nature"? Typical of AFP, which isn't a news agency but a branch of the French government, its governing board appointed by various government ministers. At least it wasn't an outright lie, but AFP does that as well. (Some other time.)

AFP is also cheap. It also seems that the story was the only freebie of that month's Nature magazine...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Ronald Reagan, RIP: Yes, Ronald Reagan stood fast at the helm, rearmed America and forced the Evil Empire to back down. He was at the right place, with the right foreign policy, at the right time.

Ronald Reagan, RIP Posted by Hello

That being said, The Ultra Moderate is not among Ronald Reagan’s devoted admirers. Other leaders, such as the late Scoop Jackson a DEMOCRAT, would have done precisely same thing to the three dottering old ideologues who drove the Soviets into bankruptcy. (Anyone remember their names? Brezhnev, Andropov, and who?)

The difference is that Ronald Reagan tried to do the very same thing to the United States -- by massive tax cuts, spending hikes, and neglecting the nation's infrastructure of roads, bridges, and ports.

If you are old enough, think back – what was the biggest domestic issue during the Reagan Administration?

The deficit, brought on by really stupid, across-the-board, tax cuts, an arbitrary 25 percent right off the top. Reagan and his supply-siders believed that reducing taxes would actually provide more revenue because the economy would immediately shoot skyward, the so-called “supply side” effect. Yeah, sure, as if an economy -- any economy -- could grow by 25 percent in three years even if all taxes were suspended. (Republican Senator and future presidential candidate Bob Dole called supply side “voodoo economics.”)

The result was predictable: massive deficits and an unparalleled economic, political, and diplomatic disaster. Essentially, the Reaganites paid for their folly by essentially selling the country to the Japanese, who behaved like overbearing colonialists. The U.S. only managed to salvage its national independence by sheer luck – the Japanese invested poorly, mismanaged their American businesses, and suffered a major economic meltdown.

If you don’t remember any of this, read the book by Reagan’s first budget director David Stockman. Called “The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed,” it is a bitter indictment the Administration’s political naiveté, rigid orthodoxy, and wishful thinking.

Like Reagan, Stockman was conservative in values and thinking, but unlike the president, he but tried to live in the real world. Stockman, on the other hand, believed that two plus two always equaled four. Always. (Read the Amazon reviews, they are very good.)

Stockman’s reaction to the Reagan Administration’s ideological fairyland can also be found online in William Greider’s classic essay, “The Education of David Stockman,” which appeared in Atlantic Magazine in December, 1981, less than a year after Reagan took office. According to Greider, Stockman felt like Alice down a rabbit hole.

The deficit miscalculations should have brought down the Reagan Administration, but it only whetted its appetite for more folly: Reagan thought that all regulation of business was bad. Baaaaaaaaad. So he fired all the bank examiners and let the savings and loan industry run wild. And when that produced a hundreds of billions in losses, he overreacted and shut down vast numbers of healthy institutions because new rules said that they were technically “insolvent.” The result was a half trillion dollar loss.

That's what I said, you young whippersnappers. A half trillion dollar loss -- $2,000 per American -- that had to be made up by, guess who? Yep, the taxpayer. Some friend of the people!

As a writer specializing in banking and accounting, let me tell you: Not since Herbert Hoover, had an ideologue caused as much economic pain.

Still think that Ronald Reagan was a great man? He wasn't. He was just a intellectually inflexible nice guy who, like millions of others, was right about the great crisis of the twentieth century, but was flat out wrong about everything else.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Me: Ok, here I am, to the right, the Militant Moderate -- En garde!

I do look quite handsome, don't I? A sort of Cavalier by Rembrandt, I'm told. The clothes do draw attention at city council meetings, and I have to leave the dirk, the dagger, the wheel-lock pistols, the men-at-arms, in the hallway. Such a pity.

I've been working in the vineyards of journalism and local politics the past week. It has been fascinating. It seems that I am absolutely 100 percent correct: Ideologies don't work.

Every local issue I run into has good guys and bad guys in both major parties, and nobody can square them with Left or Right, just with common sense. Like land use and parks. And airports.

I just got off the phone with a major elected public official and an important political operative. They are Democrat and Republican, atheist and fundamentalist, have astonishingly different perspectives on Iraq and the current occupant of the White House, BUT -- they agree on absolutely every local issue of substance.

Why? Because when it comes to streets and sewers, all politics is local, and whether or not you are interested in what the people need, or in special interests.

If only I could knock some sense into both of them -- THINK the same way when it comes to immigration, offshoring, the terror war! THINK!

Sigh... But they are both great guys.

The Ultra Moderate Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 30, 2004

WE'RE NOT WORTHY! Two lizardoids, myself and a cohort, met the Lizard Master, Charles Johnson, face to face, at my old alma mater, the American Film Institute. His Evilness described his evolution from a blong about web page design to the leading pro-American, pro-Israel, "anti-idiotarian" blog in existence, but he wouldn't tell us what Little Green Footballs actually means.

Much or the crowd was rightwing or conservative. Yours truly is neither, but shares the common distrust of dictatorships.

BTW, anyone agree that Bush blinked on Iraq?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

LA TIMES WATCH: Miracles of miracles, while I was hunkered down trying to earn a living, the Whale's chief Editorial Page blow-hard Janet Clayton was demoted to editor of California regional news, and guess who they hired to take her place? (No, not me, although I so clearly deserve it.)
Michael Kinsley
Yep, THE Michael Kinsley, formerly of The New Republic and Crossfire. And he is NOT a terrorist apologist, or at least he wasn't at his previous jobs. Perhaps the heat reached the gnomes running the Tribune Company -- people don't like daily doses of radical propaganda with their morning coffee.

Think maybe he'll deep six Robert Scheer? Make the narcissistic bastard work for a living? And how long will Managing Editor John Carroll let him stay?

Your guess is as good as mine...

WHEW! Sorry I haven't been posting, but I had a really, really, big writing assignment, and I just submitted a HUGE mother of a story, over 3,345 words. And no, I can't post it -- my editor would be furious.

During the writing, I got a free dinner for myself and my family. That's the good part of being a feature writer. The bad part is that a freebie is the only way you can get a great dinner for yourself and your family!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

THANKS, BLOGGER! Damned new Blogspot software just ate my last post. It completely disappeared. Let's see if I can remember any of it... By the way, Blogger's spell checker doesn't like the word blogging. It wants users to change the word to flogging. Reminds me of what I would like to do to a certain fish-lipped sociopath holed up in Ramallah. But, damn it, he would probably enjoy it...

FEEDBACK LOOP: It's a bit painful to make these entries if no one reads them, but I shall forbear, if not every day. My writing career seems to have moved into second gear, which makes blogging a bit of a chore. Come on people, let me know how horrible my rants are!

SEE, THE FENCE WORKS: Check Josh Harvey's chart demonstrating the rise in attempted suicide bombings and the decline in actual bombings carried out. The overwhelming majority are thwarted...

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Let's finally make an end of them: Has anyone not seen the jolly gentlemen of Hamas and their collection of human meat?

I hate to admit it, but I once supported Oslo. Now I say, "Loose the Kraken." (An obscure mythology reference, to be sure, but you can imagine what it means.)

My immediate -- real -- suggestion is to take Gaza section by section and put the entire population through an explosive detector. Give those who test positive one chance -- talk and live (albeit after a good swallow of pig fat), or shout allah akhbar, just once. Aim low, mix the carcass with pig manure, burn it with the others, and inject the ashes into the water supply.

Ok, I'm just a little angry right now. I take back the part of injecting the ashes into the water supply. But I'll add another -- Take their children and raise them as people.

Let's finally make an end of them: Has anyone not seen the jolly gentlemen of Hamas and their collection of human meat?

I hate to admit it, but I once supported Oslo. Now I say, "Loose the Kraken." (An obscure mythology reference, to be sure, but you can imagine what it means.)

My immediate -- real -- suggestion is to take Gaza section by section and put the entire population through an explosive detector. Give those who test positive one chance -- talk and live (albeit after a good swallow of pig fat), or shout allah akhbar, just once. Aim low, mix the carcass with pig manure, burn it with the others, and inject the ashes into the water supply.

Ok, I'm just a little angry right now. I take back the part of injecting the ashes into the water supply. But I'll add another -- Take their children and raise them as people.

Death Watch: Notice that the networks and the papers didn't show what happened to Mr. Nick Berg. All that happened to him was that some dark age bastards cut his head off with a knife. But a bunch of naked Baathists get some noogies and wedgies and HEAVENS! Spread it all over the papers, day after day. None of them were shot, hanged, stabbed, beheaded, or faced watching their children raped.

Cox and Forkum had this to say about that...

And one wonders what sort of clucking is going to come from Amnesty International? (They once called me from Europe, when I was a newspaper editor to complain that some murderer was about to be executed for murder. I asked the numnuck "You are telling me that he didn't do it?" The reply, "That isn't the point!" No it was the point. A murderer is a murderer.)

Monday, May 10, 2004

Blog Watch: Blogger has a new user interface. All beige instead of grey, with a black quote feature like Little Green Footballs.

Does it work?
Let's see...

It does, sorta, but in fact, it is a pain because you can't go straight back after previewing. Grrrrrrrrrr. Oh, "Hide Preview" does it. That was slightly un-intuitive.

And the blockquote thing has a flaw -- it inserts two new lines at the end, so you have to continue from the same paragraph or you'll look funny. Oh well, It's a work in progress.

Oh, and the spellcheck is REALLY dumb -- it doesn't even know the word "Blogger"! HA-HA!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Health Watch: It was a false alarm, thank G-d. I'll tell you about it someday. Ok, I had a lump and the doctor urged a mammogram. Guys can get it. Damn that X-ray machine was cold, but it turned out to be just a stupid cyst.

The ladies who march with pink ribbons don't bother to tell you about it, but perhaps two percent of all B cancers occur in men. Get examed, even if you're a guy. (I confess, though, for a few hours after the exam I had unnatural urges to pout, look at fabrics, and win every single argument, but they wore off.)

: - ))

A Wonder From Irshad: Irshad Manji of Toronto, author of "The Trouble With Islam: A Wake-Up Call for Honesty and Change" is our favorite Muslim-Lesbian writer and thinker (that's a lot to combine). The self-styled "Muslim Refusenik" believes that Muslims need a reality check:

Moderate Christians accept that the Bible is a compendium of gospels "according to" different observers - Matthew, Luke and so forth. 'According to' means as interpreted by them. But no such acknowledgment exists in Islam yet. Even moderate Muslims believe that the Koran is the final, immutable word of God, untouched by the human hand and mind. Which is why most Muslims have no clue how to debate or dissent with extremists - we've never been introduced to the possibility, let alone the virtue, of asking questions about our holy book. It's time to change that...

She also takes issue in Toronto Life with Yosi Klein Halevy, one of our favorite writers, who implied that Islamic fatalism is a good thing:

It was Halevi who urged her to inject more love into her narrative, "not for the mullahs but for the billions of souls over the centuries who prostrated on little embroidered prayer rugs and offered their small, unhappy lives to God’s glory..." "Excuse me for ruining the moment," Irshad bounced back, "but why should so many lives be 'small' and 'unhappy,'especially under a merciful God?" She has little patience for Westerners willing to tolerate human rights violations in the Muslim world. She calls it "the soft racism of low expectations."

Halevy wrote the following of his encounter with Irshad:

Irshad is particularly outraged at Arab - and, by extension, Muslim - hatred of Israel. She understands what most of the world does not: that the Arab world's antipathy toward Israel is a monstrous attempt to deflect onto the Jewish state the terrible failure of its own civilization. And she has taken the time to examine all the little lies that together form the new big lie: that the Arab world is the innocent victim of a rapacious Israel.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Arab Heroism Watch: A couple of Palestinian Heroes murdered a pregnant woman and her four daughters.

Naturally, al-jezeera called it a "resistance strike." This is how these gentlemen of the Arabic press described the Israeli response:

The missile attack was a collective punishment for an earlier Palestinian shooting of illegal Israeli settlers on their way to protest any withdrawal.

A woman and her four daughters, shot at close range, in their car, and it's a "resistance strike." (And the rally against withdrawal was long over, but that makes it ok, right?)

Health Watch: Should anyone be reading this, I've been having some medical tests done, so there hasn't been much time or attention span for blogging. I'll explain when I know more.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Darwin Works: You're not going to believe this one... According to Ireland On-line and Scotsman.com, two Palestinian robbers tried to steal the bomb off a suicide bomber, what Charles of LGF calls a splodeydope. Only splodeydopes don't have anything on these guys. Natually...

A Hamas suicide bomber blew up two armed Palestinians who tried to rob him at gun point in the Gaza Strip. Hamas claimed the “stickup men” worked for Israeli intelligence, while Palestinian security forces said the two were ordinary thieves. Rather than give up his explosives, the bomber detonated them, killing himself and the two robbers near the border fence between Gaza and Israel...

And these guys think they can run a state...

Denial Watch: Steven Spielberg has announced that he intends to direct a feature about the Munich Olympic Massacre of 1972. According to al-Reuters:

Spielberg plans to start production in June and is eyeing actor Ben Kingsley for a role in the upcoming drama, which will chronicle the Summer Games marred by the kidnapping and slaying of Israeli athletes by Palestinian militants, a DreamWorks studio spokeswoman said Wednesday.

In all, 11 Israelis lost their lives in the bloody 1972 tragedy, including nine hostages killed in a botched rescue attempt at a military air base outside Munich, all while Olympics officials carried on with the competition. Five of the gunmen and a German policeman also died. Three of the militants were captured alive.

The specter of the massacre 32 years ago has haunted authorities in Greece preparing security for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Athens amid heightened concerns of potential attacks by extremists linked to the al Qaeda terror network...

Notice that the al-Reuters jerk calls those who kill Jews militants and those who may kill others in Greece part of a terror network? And that it doesn't actually say who killed them? It's just during a "botched rescue attempt."

It's not an accident that they did it this way. Here's how al-BBC ran the same story:

Director Steven Spielberg is to make a film about the kidnap and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Spielberg is looking to cast actor Sir Ben Kingsley in the drama, which will begin filming in June, a spokeswoman at his Dreamworks studio said. The Israelis died after being taken hostage by Palestinian activists at the 1972 summer games in Munich

Notice how the Palestinians were activists, and that the Israelis simply died. Maybe at the hands of the Martians? Like the Reuters jerk, the BBC mamzer couldn't actually say that Palestinian terrorists killed them. Against the rules.

This is a real problem for me, as a terrorism survivor. Teorrorists are terrorists. There's also another issue: The terrorists said that they belonged to a "group" called "Black September," but there never was an organization of that name. It was a front for Fatah, and was directly controled by the Prince of Evil himself, Yasser Arafat.

Previous films on the subject, including the recent Oscar winning documentary "One Day in September," avoid this issue. ("Gasp! You can't blame Arafat! Think of the peace process!")

Will Spielberg do the same? I hope not, but my guess is that he will.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Ghoul Watch: Here is the late Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi rambling about the Jooooos, in English, to an Australian Islamist site (via Damien Penny and others):

Q: "How do you interpret the cowardly assassination attempt on your life, and the assassination policies of the Israelis in general, whose latest victim was Al-Qawasimy commander in Hebron?"
A: "Firstly, this is the custom of the Jews, for they are the killers of prophets, and the killers of the preachers who enjoin justice. Their criminal nature will never change. ...The Jews have designs and ambitions in Palestine and in surrounding countries, and they utilize terrorism to materialize their plans and accomplish their holy prophecies."

("So much for that "people of the book" crap, eh, Rantisi?" -- Damien says)

"As for us in Hamas, our charter states Palestine is a Muslim land that falls under the category of Waqf in Islamic Law. Hence no leader, group, people or any generation is permitted to surrender a single hand-span of it to a non-Muslim. This is why we do not recognise the sovereignty of Jews on a hand-span of our country. We have stated clearly the ‘Road Map’ is a conspiracy against the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian existence."

Q: "How can the Intifada survive in light of the truce with the occupying enemy, especially considering the known Zionist cunning and deception for this nation since the time of our Prophet Muhammad (saw)?"
A: "Certainly the Intifada is continuing and shall not stop. Truce may actually be a cause for stirring up the Intifada not weakening it. The Zionists have nothing to offer to our Palestinian people, and time will prove this Inshaallah. As for the truce, it is our opinion that truce is an exceptional, temporary case, and its main aim is to maintain the choice of resistance."

In other words, no peace, ever. Find the rest at "The Call to Islam," which claims to be Australia's leading Islamic site.
Fiend Watch: Unsatisfied with putting nails laced with rat poison in their bombs, the Palestinians are now using AIDS tainted blood, or at least trying to. According to the following, in the New York Post and elsewhere:

Israeli security foiled a plan by Palestinian terrorists to detonate an AIDS bomb - a powerful explosive charge contaminated with HIV-tainted blood, authorities said yesterday. The diabolical plot during Passover - thwarted by the arrest of at least two suspects - was one of 10 terrorist attacks stopped during the holiday, which ended yesterday, officials of the Shin Bet secret service said.

They said members of the Palestinian Tanzim terrorist outfit planned to obtain the tainted blood from Palestinian hospitals and add it to the explosive belt of a homicide bomber who was to attack in an Israeli city. But the cell members were arrested before the plotters got as far as obtaining the blood and the plan collapsed. Israeli medics have long feared the use of an "AIDS bomb" and routinely wear gloves when handling victims of terrorist attacks.

The Arabs see no limits, they can justify anything. Perhaps the problem is that, for the purposes of this war, neither Arabs nor Israelis are considered human. Unlike a human, an Arab is not responsible for his actions. And killing an Israeli is not murder.

Just a thought.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Your slip is showing Dept. The following is a real headline in a real Asian financial site: Misys gives Pecker head job. Misys is Rudi Pecker's employer, not his wife, but neither of them will ever live this down!

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Whistleblower Watch: It's not easy coming forward. Sometimes you get interviewed on 60 Minutes. Usually you get fired and your life is ruined. I know, I was a big time whistleblower myself. I even had to leave the city I lived in. So I was a bit disturbed by the following report that the U.S. Special Counsel, the office that specializes in protecting whistleblowers has an official gag order policy in place, meaning that it doesn't like its own whistleblowers:

The U.S. Special Counsel, the principal protector of federal civil service rights, has sent what appears to be an illegal gag order to his own staff, according to a letter of protest filed today by three national whistleblower watchdog groups.

Scott Bloch, recently appointed by the Bush Administration to serve a five-year term as the U.S. Special Counsel, began his tenure by suspending agency policies protecting federal employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Last week, in an embarrassing rebuke, the White House announced a reversal of Bloch’s self-imposed suspension.

These are policies that REALLY encourage people to come forward...
Palestinian Red Paste Watch: Of all the peoples in the history of the world, none have been more in love with war than the Arabs, and for the last thousand years, none have been so relentlessly bad at it. And so the killing goes on, they never advance a single inch against the Israelis, and they never, ever, learn why. Cragg Hines of the Houston Chronicle offers the following observation about the Palestinian national habit: They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportuinity:

As Abba Eban once observed, Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. And yet again, Palestinians have been presented an opportunity that their leaders seem determined to let pass them by.

An Israeli prime minister is unilaterally withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. A U.S. president has reaffirmed his commitment to a Palestinian state.

The initial Palestinian response has been the usual fulminations. The most obvious reason is that Palestinian leaders do not handle reality very well. What part about best current opportunity don't Palestinian leaders understand?

President Bush's statement of two regional realities — the existence of sizable Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the inadvisability of allowing Palestinians to settle in Israel — are points that tacitly have been acknowledged to varying degrees by previous U.S. administrations, but to no great effect within the splintered Palestinian hierarchy of aging leaders and raging terrorists. That there is little that the Palestinians can do to change these realities is one reason that various peace processes and negotiations and road maps have not gotten very far — or at least not to final agreement and implementation...

What's so hard to understand? Israel is there, it's going to stay there, and as long as you blow up restaurants, you're going to live in filth. Hines concludes with the following quote from an Islamic Jihad dork on PBS's Frontline:

"We will have no cease-fire, and we will not put our gun aside until the liberation of Palestine, with its capital Al-Quds Ash-Shareef, holy Jerusalem. This is our legitimate right. Palestine from the river to the sea, that is our legitimate right in this homeland."

"From the river to the sea." With that kind of sentiment, no wonder Arafat and friends so reliably miss so many opportunities.


Gas Tax: Best Way to Stick It to the Saudis Nobody likes to pay taxes. I don't, I'm a working writer and taxing anything hurts like hell. But there's a war going on, and we have to pay for it. The best way I know is by taxing the stuff the enemy produces, so maybe people won't use so much of it.

And that stuff, as all of you know, is petromium, oil, black gold, Texas tea. We suck it up like addicts needing a fix, and we like it as cheap as possible so we can waste even more of it in bigger and heavier imitation armored personnel carriers we think we need.

Andrew Sullivan has this to say in this week's Time:

Gas prices are too low. There. I said it. Even when they peak this summer, as most analysts predict, they will be too low. And they're too low in large part because gas is woefully undertaxed in this countrya state of affairs that is bad for the economy, bad for drivers and bad for our foreign policy. In fact, one of the simplest and best things any Administration could do right now would be to add a buck per gallon to the federal gas tax, which is currently just 18.4¢. Now that I have alienated almost every reader of this column, allow me to defend myself.

The worst knock against a gas tax is that it is, well, a tax. Who likes that? But with soaring deficits and a war to pay for, taxes are not an option — they're a necessity. The only relevant question is, Which taxes? The case for a gas tax is a straightforward one. Gas prices are strikingly lower in America than anywhere else in the world; such taxes are relatively easy to collect; since an overwhelming majority of Americans drive, few avoid the tax; and by adding a cost to the wanton consumption of gasoline, you actually encourage conservation, accelerate fuel efficiency, reduce pollution, cut traffic and help wean Americans off the oil that requires the U.S. to be so intimately involved in that wonderful cesspool of rival hatreds, the Middle East. So what's not to like?

The idea is so obviously a good one that in their recent absurd bickering over who is responsible for higher gas prices, neither George W. Bush nor John Kerry has gone near it...
(Find the link to his blog at the right.)

Our fellow Middle of the Road Extremist, Damien Penny also chimes in:

I've been a subscriber to Car and Driver since 1987, when I was still four years away from getting my licence. I watch American Muscle Car on the Speed Channel every week. I even mused about wanting one of these Hemi Dodge Ram pickups on this blog a few months ago. But I still think Sullivan has a point.

Sullivan makes some outstanding points about why a gas tax is, in many ways, more fair than the income taxes we're already forced to pay. Certainly, I'd be willing to pay more for gas in exchange for being allowed to keep more of my paycheque. Why should people who don't drive at all effectively subsidize the rest of us?

And, really, I don't think there's any contradiction in being a car enthusiast and supporting this proposal. I just got back from Great Britain, where gasoline is more than twice as expensive than it is here in Canada (where gas is already more expensive than in the States, though not by the margin it used to be). It certainly doesn't seem to have dimmed their enthusiasm for the automobile. In fact, the British market is saturated with tremendously entertaining little sports cars, roadsters and hatchbacks considered "too small" for the North American market...

He finished with this: "And yes, I am prepared for some absolutely vicious criticism in the comments section. Fire away." They did!

Monday, April 12, 2004

Busy, Busy, Busy: Gentle readers, this blog may be read by only you and God above, but I really am a professional writer. This means that I actually write for a living, mainly articles in magazines, but some fiction as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with the art and craft of writing, it is damned time consuming. It eats you alive. You sit at the screen and stare, and stare, and stare. Finally the words burst forth, and precisely at that moment, the wife and kid need you for something that has to be done RIGHT NOW. Which means that the turn of phrase for which you have been searching all morning has disappeared into smoke.

We have two assignments pending. Not difficult ones, just work. Which is why, Gentle Readers, we are not blogging as much as we should like.

Mad Mullah Watch: It now appears that Iran is controlling events among the Shiah of Iraq. The funding and leadership of Muqtada Al-Sadr's "Mehdi Army" comes directly from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Wretchard of the Belmont Club blog has been following this horror better than anyone else. Debka's reportage is particularly depressing, while Michael Ledeen of National Review wins the "I told You So" award for 2004.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Iraq Disaster Watch: There is no point to occupying Iraq anymore. That doesn't mean I don't believe in destroying enemy regimes, it's just that the Bush Administration really understand the two overarching principles of Arab thought: 1. Everyone is my enemy. 2. Those with whom i have a blood or national relationship are my allies against those with whom I don't.

In other words, the moment the Sunni Baathists of Falluja were able to unite with the Shia Theocrats of Sadr City, all was lost. We may never be able to control the situation again. Certainly, there will be no democratic Iraqi government to receive the keys of sovereignty in June. The Washington Times.

That doesn't mean that we should pull out right now. First, we have to capture the Mad Mullah Muqtada al-Sadr. After that -- and this will upset my Turkish friends -- we will have to detach Kurdistan, with both Mosul and Kirkuk -- and set it free. The Kurds can take care of themselves, and their oil may pacify the Turks. Whatever the case, they've had enough of central rule from Baghdad. Third, if this war is proven to be an Iranian setup -- as it appears to be -- we give the Mullah regime some payback, shock and awe. Humiliate the mullahs, their army, and their Republican guards. And blow up their nuclear sites.

Sorry about the rant. Doesn't sound very moderate of me, but this is war, a war the Bush Administration started. If our army had three more divisions, I would say "stay the course" in Iraq, but it doesn't, so I can't. The Iraqis are going to get angrier, and angrier whatever we do, and they won't care about the consequences until it's too late.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Iraq Watch: Gentle readers, If there was ever a nation that deserved the limbo of the deep blue sea, it is Iraq, that misbegotten child of Imperial map pencils. Consisting mainly of three Ottoman "Vilayets" or provinces, plus a western "ear" reaching to Jordan, Iraq is an ethnic nightmare, a recipe for either tyranny or anarchy.

When the war first loomed, I screamed to all that would hear -- "Conquer the place and restore the only government the Iraqis will tolerate, the Hashemite monarchy, which to them represents their golden age, before the Nasserite and Baathist revolutions. All that would have been required was a division of ruthless Jordanian troops, their former Crown Prince Hassan , a highly respected man, and 200K Iraqi prisoners of war, who would have been given a rest, new cap badges, and the job of rooting out Baath remnants and Shiah fanatics.''

Free of American scruples, and with loads of experience dealing with fellow Arabs, the Hashemites would have made quick work of the devils that now plague us, but no... it made too much sense. Americans are not trained to understand Arab ways of thinking. They are a tribal culture, Monarchy is the only form of government they understand, whether it is called monarchy or hereditary republic.

We should have then ruined Baby Assad, thus ending the Middle East wars once and for all. And we wouldn't have needed a UN resolution -- the Beirut bombing that killed 300 Marines was all the declaration of war we would have needed.

Instead we are definitely in a real quagmire, with no end in sight, and no way to leave. Unless we want to carve that stupid country up into bite size ethnic pieces, and walk away.

Letter from America: In all the recent excitement, I forgot to notice the passing of a legend, perhaps the last of the great masters of the essay, the gentle giant of broadcasting, Allstair Cooke. His weekly "Letter from America" was the longest running program in history, lasting over 55 years until just this winter. For those who don't know him, go to your local library and rent the video of his television history of the United States, called, simply, "America."

It is trite to say that he will never be replaced, no individual can ever truly be "replaced," but given the intellectual climate at BBC, it is doubtful that a young Alistair Cooke, should he magically appear on earth, would ever be given work.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

While the Palestinians Moan and Complain: According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israelis are beating the US to high-speed rail:

The Transportation Ministry on Sunday published the first tender for construction of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem high-speed railroad project. By 2008, it is expected to shuttle commuters and travelers between the nation's two largest cities in 28 minutes.

Perhaps the Arabs are doing something wrong? Like throughing dust on their heads and complaining that they're dusty?

Bill-ionaire Watch: Poverty is Good for You, announced our great benefactors, the gentlemen who have been exporting our jobs. They have released a "study" from a group they control that "proves" that outsourcing, unemployment and low wage jobs are really good for you. And the idiot, sorry, Associated Press is eating it up:

Outsourcing white-collar jobs to low-wage countries such as India and China has thrown some Americans out of work, but a new report predicts that the trend will ultimately lower inflation, create jobs and boost productivity in the United States. The Information Technology Association of America, in a survey set for release Tuesday, acknowledges that the migration of tech jobs to low-paid foreigners has eliminated 104,000 American jobs so far, nearly 3 percent of the positions in the U.S. tech industry...
A more sober view comes from Computerworld's Patrick Thibodeau, who wrote:

But the report's conclusion in support of offshore outsourcing drew much skepticism. Richard Ellis, the principal researcher on an IT workforce report completed for the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology last fall, said the Arlington, Va.-based ITAA "has been a consistent mouthpiece for the industry" and its studies "have a consistent tendency to reach predictable conclusions."

If you believe that the spending power of the American Middle Class doesn't drive the economy, then outsourcing is just a trifle, the complete ruin of three percent of IT families. If you do, then you understand that economies seek equilibrium, and that it won't stop until the standard of living of the average American worker equals that of the average Indian or Chinese, doing the same job.

Enjoy the future, gentle readers, rent Blade Runner, and don't have children.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Iraqi Demon Watch: In an article in the Wall Street Journal, former leftist Christopher Hitchens writes on the Fallujah massacre in an article called "What's at Stake -- Fallujah: A reminder of what the future might look like if we fail." In it, Chris (I met him once, we went for a walkabout at UCLA) describes the horror in Mephistophelean terms:

There must be a temptation, when confronted with the Dantesque scenes from Fallujah, to surrender to something like existential despair. The mob could have cooked and eaten its victims without making things very much worse. One especially appreciated the detail of the heroes who menaced the nurses, when they came to try and remove the charred trophies.

But this "Heart of Darkness" element is part of the case for regime-change to begin with. A few more years of Saddam Hussein, or perhaps the succession of his charming sons Uday and Qusay, and whole swathes of Iraq would have looked like Fallujah. The Baathists, by playing off tribe against tribe, Arab against Kurd and Sunni against Shiite, were preparing the conditions for a Hobbesian state of affairs. Their looting and beggaring of the state and the society--something about which we now possess even more painfully exact information--was having the same effect. A broken and maimed and traumatized Iraq was in our future no matter what.

Are Iraqis inherently evil? No. Certainly my college friend from Baghdad wasn't. But we can't live by exceptions. Iraqis are Arabs, indoctrinated from youth to hate everyone in concentric circles of ever increasing hostility. Family, then clan, then tribe, then nation, then everyone else -- "my brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against the world."

What do we do? They aren't worth ruling, and frankly, they aren't capable of ruling themselves. They hate each other as much as they hate us. AQllow me to float a balloon: Let's divide the place into five or six different ethnic states, make a formal alliance with our friends the Kurds, and perhaps the Assyrians and the Chaldeans, and let the rest stew in their own demonic hatreds.

Comments Not Getting Through: Marc emailed us to complain that Holoscan isn't recording his comments. Actually, that's a relief. I thought this blog was under lock and key! I'll have others try. In the mean time, please email me with your comments. The addy is over at the right, just insert the ampersand in the right place, and remove the spaces.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Kofi Beaned: The UN's defunct Iraqi "Oil-for-Food" program keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. It seems that a vast network of bribes paid to government officials in France, Russia -- and the UN --allowed Saddam Hussein to divert more than $10 billion from to his own pocket. There is speculation that Secretary General Kofi Annon won't survive the inquest. According to the NY Post:

Is the clock ticking on Secretary General Kofi Annan's merry pranks at the United Nations? Could be. The rank corruption of the body's Iraqi Oil-for-Food program is bubbling slowly to the surface - promising to ensnare scores of European politicians and businessmen, as well as a gaggle of Annan's Turtle Bay colleagues. An upcoming audit being prepared by a firm that successfully traced stolen Holocaust-era assets is expected to confirm the names of some 200 people and companies around the world who allegedly were bribed by Saddam's regime. The list, found in Iraq's Oil Ministry, was first cited by an Iraqi newspaper, al Mada, at the end of January. Meanwhile, the General Accounting Office estimates that Saddam Hussein skimmed as much as $10.1 billion from the $47 billion program - originally established in 1996 to buy humanitarian supplies for ordinary Iraqis.

And according to the Associated Press, Annon promised that the investigation will have access to all documents:

... The panel -- whose members will be named later-- is directed to comb through any United Nations documents and records it wants, and interview whatever U.N. officials it believes necessary. The details of the investigation were contained in a letter Annan wrote to the Security Council president, French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere. (The French were major recipients of Saddam's largesse -- ed.) Annan's letter says the panel will investigate companies that contracted with the United Nations in the oil-for-food program, but its authority with them will be far less. The allegations of corruption first surfaced last January in the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada. The newspaper had a list of about 270 former government officials, activists and journalists from more than 46 countries suspected of profiting from Iraqi oil sales. Among the names on the list is Benon Sevan, the U.N. official who was executive director of the program. He has denied wrongdoing. The claims have been a major embarrassment for the United Nations, and Annan wants to take swift action and clear the world body of blame.

But who will arrest Annon if he's found to have been involved? And will he be charged with the murder of all this gizillions of children that the pro-Saddam forces claim to have died because of the UN's worthless sanctions?

Young Hottie Watch: Unemployment rate among hot young women holding at zero percent! Just what is their secret?? The rest of us want to know! (Via Andrew Sullivan.)