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Showing posts from April, 2005

I knew it was too good to be true

Last week, it looked like French voters might reject the European constitution.

The latest poll is going the other way, after intensive campaiging from leaders from across France's political spectrum, from socialists to McDonald's-bulldozing farmers to anti-soap Greens. I should have known the French would never reject such a stupid idea. The driving force behind the opposition was a racist opposition to Turkey joining the E.U., but if French voters have to choose between socialism and racism, they'll take socialism.

The E.U. has been referred to as a "United States of Europe," surprisingly, as the U.S. doesn't sell well in many of the more backward and insular countries such as France. A more appropriate name, though, would be the "Union of European Socialist Republics," or UESR.

Fortunately, the sensible British will probably vote down the EU constitution. They don't want to take orders from Frenchmen and Germans in Brussels.

Why don't wild animals smell as bad as hippies?

Mrs. Varones and I were sitting around the pub in Sydney this evening with our good friend Helen when we stumbled upon an apparently insoluble enigma:

Why don't wild animals smell as bad as hippies?

You know what I'm talking about. That rank body smell of the unwashed. But many wild animals don't wash, so why don't they smell as bad as hippies?

One proposal was that wild animals washed themselves, as cats lick themselves clean. This doesn't explain coyotes and wolves, though, which don't lick themselves clean.

A possible explanation for the canine family smelling better than hippies is that canines sweat through their tongue and nose, so don't build up the stench that hippies create sweating through armpits and other pores. This seems quite plausible.

Other explanations for why wild animals don't smell as bad as hippies are quite welcome. Please post them in the comments section.

Memo to Verizon: Walk Away!

As a Verizon shareholder, I hope management and the board do the right thing and walk away from the silly bidding war for former criminal enterprise MCI.

Verizon had negotiated an arguably reasonable purchase price for MCI (formerly WorldCom), which it wanted for its lucrative long-distance business. MCI has strong competitive positioning in the business, largely due to the fact that its balance sheet was wiped clean by the bankruptcy fairy (memo to other companies: an easy way to gain competitive advantage is to perpetrate massive fraud, wipe out the shareholders, send a few bozos to prison, then file bankruptcy and emerge debt-free while your competitors still labor under mountains of debt).

Then Qwest, an under-financed former near-bankruptcy candidate itself, started a bidding war. Qwest is paying a huge premium, and expecting the synergy fairy to deliver unimaginable mountains of treasure. Not going to happen. Qwest will have to add more debt to its already smelly balance sheet, an…

OpinionJournal: servin' up some tasty burgers!

OpinionJournal has plenty of good stuff today, including Noonan on Bolton and a profile of Ted Hayes, the "Rasta Republican."

Noonan is great on Bolton. The whole piece is worth reading. An amusing quip at the end, though not representative of Noonan's main argument, is "But the U.N. is a china shop in need of a bull, isn't it?"

I remember Ted Hayes from fifteen or twenty years ago, when he was "Ted Hayes, homeless advocate," not "Ted Hayes, Rasta Republican." I seem to recall that he made some headlines with some ludicrous claims about the number (millions, maybe?) of homeless Americans.

It's still fun to see the left go nuts when members of racial or ethnic minorities go off the reservation. I hope Hayes riles them up -- and I can't wait to see the Janice Rogers Brown confirmation battle!

UPDATE: Hayes is featured in this Arianna Huffington book promo -- I wonder if she'll remove it now that he's been outed as a Republican.

Changing the tone in Washington

Ken Salazar was supposed to be one of the more reasonable, moderate new Senators.

Sen. Ken Salazar said Wednesday he regrets referring to Focus on the Family and its founder James Dobson as "the Antichrist" - a term among the worst slurs in Christianity. I can't wait to see what the immoderate Senators do!

HT: Instapundit.

Bush speech

I'm listening live right now via Internet radio.

Bush is making a good case for Social Security reform. Appropriately, he's using words like "option," "choice," and "voluntary." You'd have to be an idiot or a partisan to oppose even a limited, voluntary, optional, personal savings account.

If a tree falls in a forest of idiots...

Al Gore to moveon:

"The rule of law depends, in turn, upon the respect each generation of Americans has for the integrity with which our laws are written, interpreted and enforced."Well, moveon and the Democrats sure do a lot to foster respect for the integrity of our laws when they claim every election they lose is stolen! Florida? Democrats told to vote on Wednesday. Ohio? Evil Republican voting machine company rigged the election! Bush 2000? Partisan Supreme Court.

By the way, does moveon rhyme with Foveon, the camera chip company? And if they were founded in 1998 to get Congress and the American public to "move on" from little things like perjury and obstruction of justice so that the President could get on with his important agenda, what is the meaning of "move on" now?

HT: Anklebitingpundits.

Enron, Watergate, and Teapot Dome: all Bolton's fault

Pogge and The Poor Man are blaming John Bolton for the mess in North Korea.

Are they referring to the fact that North Korea got mad when Bolton described the nightmarishly hellish life there as a "hellish nightmare," and when he described their tyrannical dictator as a "tyrannical dictator?"

If that's the beef against Bolton, I have no problem with him. Clinton and Albright showed what happens when you try to be nice and bribe North Korea not to develop weapons. North Korea will take your money and then develop the weapons anyway. Begging/bribing/appeasing doesn't work with North Korea. Bolton just called a spade a spade. North Korea was a debacle long before Bolton got involved, and likely will remain a debacle long after he's gone.

On Scalia and strict constructionism

Ace makes the argument well for judicial restraint: if there are virtually no checks and balances on judicial powers (as is the case currently), shouldn't judges exercise a bit of self-restraint?

I couldn't have said it better.

Ace, however, thinks Right Reason makes the case even better. It's good too!

The worm turns

Rove predicts Bolton passes Senate

Karl Rove predicts that John Bolton will get through the Senate.

I certainly hope so. I really like Bolton – he’s a rare diplomat who’s willing to go on record about the faults of the U.N., and to hold the U.N. responsible for its corruption and incompetence. And I don't care if he spoke sternly with his hands on his hips to some analyst years ago.

I hope Rove’s prediction doesn’t go down in history with Terry McAuliffe’s “Jeb is gone.” Is this tactical posturing or does he really know what he’s talking about?

I wonder how Senators Mondale and Carnahan will vote on the Bolton nomination.


HT: Polipundit.

UPDATE: Maybe this is why Rove is confident. Melody Townsel, the woman who accused Bolton of angrily chasing her around a Russian hotel, is both a rabid anti-Bush partisan and a plagiarist. She could have been a Dan Rather source!

Save Toby

Toby got a lot of publicity a few weeks ago, and the publicity looked like it might save him. But now the publicity has died off, and so might Toby. We need to raise $50,000 by June 30 to save Toby. So far, we're just at $28,000.

Buy a T-shirt. You'll help save Toby and get a cool T-shirt out of it, too.

While you're at it, save a seal. Club a seal hunter.

Happy Anzac Day!

Image
It's a three-day weekend here in Australia. Monday is Anzac Day, the day they celebrate a locally invented kind of cookie: Anzac Biscuits.



Of course, when you're "the arse-end of the earth," as former Prime Minister Paul Keating fondly called Australia, you have to celebrate the little things!

John Kerry: reporting for cover-up

The WSJ's OpinionJournal reveals what's going on in the smoke-free and brightly lit yet none-the-less corrupt back rooms of the Senate:

Perhaps you remember Henry Cisneros. He's the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who pleaded guilty in 1999 to lying to FBI investigators during his pre-appointment background check about hush payments to a former mistress, on which it also happens he hadn't paid the requisite taxes.

Well, the special counsel report investigating all this still hasn't been made public, thanks largely to procedural roadblocks by Mr. Cisneros's attorneys. And now, all of a sudden, a rash of news stories and editorials are urging Independent Counsel David Barrett to wrap up his investigation forthwith, without releasing his findings.

Then there's the amendment that North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan and co-sponsors John Kerry and Richard Durbin are trying to attach to the latest supplemental war appropriations bill that would de-fun…

What housing bubble?

I don't see no stinkin' bubble.

Bill Gross, awesome as usual.

My personal friend

I was honored this morning to receive a "personal" video message from Senator Kerry.

"I wish I could visit personally with you to convey the deep concern I have about events unfolding in Washington..."
I wish he could, too. "Welcome, Senator Kerry, how nice to see you. Why, yes, you can ‘git you one a them thar hunting licenses’ here. Can I get you something to drink? Perhaps a vinegar and water?”

Democratic Liberty Caucus

There used to be a group called the "Republican Liberty Caucus," supporting libertarian policies within the Republican Party. I haven't heard anything of substance from them in years. In fact, the RLC is now led by no-name freaks, the most eminent being a goofy-looking Canadian guy with a wingnut resume. The recentactions of maniacalright-wingRepublicans illustrate that libertarians no longer hold any power in the party.

Happily, I've found Democratic Freedom, a web site devoted to a sort of Democratic Liberty Caucus. I still don't think they are a significant power in the dishonest and hate-ridden party of John Kerry and Michael Moore. Seeing the Republicans move so rapidly and decisively away from libertarian principles, however, makes me want to give these guys a chance.

The Bolton nomination

Mark Steyn is on fire! This has something for everyone: Barbara Boxer, Joe Biden, U.N. child rapists, and Kofi Annan.

HT: Just Some Poor Schmuck

Jim Sensenbrenner: right-wing maniac

I can't believe this bill.

What are these idiots trying to do, make everyone want to vote Democrat? It's working!!!

HT: Balloon Juice.

Stupid French tricks

France has passed a law ordering schools to re-write history and portray France more favorably.

FRENCH historians are protesting against a new law that obliges schools to present the country’s colonial exploits in a favourable light, especially in Algeria, where hundreds of thousands were killed in the fight for independence.

Eminent historians said this week that the law “imposes an official lie about past crimes and massacres that sometimes went as far as genocide”.

Ah, France. Truth is more satirical than satire!

Ten years from now, they'll be teaching the students how France single-handedly deposed Saddam Hussein and liberated Iraq over the objections of the callous and self-interested United States whose politicians and influential business leaders were taking bribes in the oil-for-food scandal.

HT: Peace, order, and good government, eh?

Blog commenting in many languages

I'm using Babelfish to post comments in other languages.

I have no idea if what I'm saying is anywhere close to correct.

Anyone know French? German here or here? Portuguese here or here? I think my Spanish is more or less OK.


Maybe it doesn't work so well. I translated "I wonder if players get bonus points for taking bribes and raping the villagers" into French, and got "Je me demande si les joueurs obtiennent des points de bonification pour prendre des dessous de table et violer les villageois." Translating this back into English, I get, "I wonder whether the players obtain points of allowance to take backhanders and to rape the villagers." I guess the point kind of still comes across.

Right on down under

An excellent commentary on the moral bankruptcy of the anti-Iraqi freedom left is right here, in the Australian, but I didn't notice it until Norm in the U.K. pointed me to it.
HOW has it happened that the Left of politics across the world has ended up opposing a foreign policy philosophy of spreading democracy in favour of supporting the traditional conservative agenda of stability, sovereignty and the status quo? Because that is what the Left is doing in its hostile reaction to George W. Bush's second inaugural address.
The commentary, by Michael Costello, is by no means pro-Bush:It is entirely understandable that the Left is viscerally anti-Bush. His political strategy is not based on the democratic approach of seeking the middle ground, but on sharpening differences and divisions, of defaming and intimidating those who do not support him as appeasers, immoral and weak. His and his cabinet officers' contemptuous treatment of allies and the international institutional fram…

UN agency creates world hunger game

From the Sydney Morning Herald (free login required):

A video game featuring emergency aid workers negotiating with armed rebels and a plane launching airdrops of food to starving people was launched by a United Nations food agency yesterday to raise awareness among the young over world hunger.

The Rome-based World Food Program presented the educational video game, called Food Force, at an international children's book fair in the northern Italian town of Bologna.

I wonder if you get bonus points for taking bribes and raping the locals.


UPDATE: I tried to ask them about scoring, but the e-mail address on their web site isn't working.

Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 16:24:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: "W.C. Varones"
Subject: Food Force scoring
To: info@food-force.com

Do we get extra points for taking bribes or raping the locals like real U.N. workers do?

Another pathetic has-been candidate follows Kerry's lead

Wes Clark is joining John Kerry's bandwagon in pandering to military families. I guess it takes a real electoral ass-whupping before these guys realize that the military vote matters. Now we can expect a continuing one-upsmanship, with all of these Democratic presidential hopelesses trying to outdo each other in offering more benefits to soldiers.

Some of these proposals may be great ideas, but it's pretty transparent the way these losers are trying to buy military votes. Watch for Hillary to propose something similar soon.

Following is an e-mail from Clark to (people he thinks are) supporters:

Dear W.C.,

The American people have a strong tradition of honoring our war veterans. And Democrats have always led the fight to give our veterans what they deserve for their brave service to our country. The time has come for us to do it again.

We all may not agree with the causes of this current war in Iraq, but we all agree that the brave men and women fighting it, and their families, dese…

An academic worth reading

Tangled up in Blue is one of the greatest songs of all time. The lyrics are a love story twisted in with a road movie... and we know it's impossible to make a bad road movie. The music, too, is inspirational, especially the Jerry Garcia Band live version.

I was debating the lyrics via Yahoo Messenger with Ignatius in Berkeley. He was fixated on the chronology of the song, which is, to say the least, confusing. I thought the chronology of the song was irrelevant and that it was a series of vignettes from the narrator's life that came together to make an incredibly interesting and moving whole. Ignatius disagreed, saying that the out-of-order chronology was central to the song, akin to Quentin Tarantino's use of the technique in Pulp Fiction.

Doing a bit of searching on the web, I found a great analysis of the lyrics by Robert Bell of Williams College. Bell agrees with Ignatius, but I don't like the possibility he raises that the woman in each verse is not the same wom…

Statistics conclusively prove: John Kerry is a douchebag

The Web is abuzz today with discussion of John Kerry's crass call for military hardship stories he can use for his political advantage.

I share Instapundit's, Anklebitingpundits', Polipundit's, Vodkapundits', Ace's, It Comes in Pints', and others' contempt for Kerry's cynical manipulation of personal hardships.

Kerry has sunk so low with this latest ploy that my first thought this morning was "What an unbelievable douchebag!" This spurred me to some serious scientific research. I had to find out: is John Kerry the biggest douchebag in the world?

Google finds 13,000,000 hits for a search on John Kerry. This gives us our baseline Kerry identification level. Then, by searching John Kerry douchebag, we find how many mentions associate John Kerry with a douchebag. The result is 17,500. By dividing this number by the 13 million baseline Kerry identification level and multiplying by 1000, we arrive at the Douchebag Identification Per Thousand(TM) qu…

John Kerry: reporting for cluelessness

OpinionJournal's Best of the Web reports that John Kerry has fallen for an Onion / Scrappleface satire.

From CNN.com:

"Leaflets are handed out saying Democrats vote on Wednesday, Republicans vote on Tuesday. People are told in telephone calls that if you've ever had a parking ticket, you're not allowed to vote," he [Kerry] said.

From the Onion, October 27, 2004:

MIAMI, FL—With the knowledge that the minority vote will be crucial in theupcoming presidential election, Republican Party officials are urging blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities to make their presence felt at the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
These are scary times when not only average dimwit Oprah fans fall for obvious satire, but someone who could have become President of the United States is that clueless. We are truly lucky this lying, spineless moron was not elected.

Friedman on globalization

Thomas Friedman, the controversial but often right Middle East expert, writes in the New York Times magazine (here but you have to pay, so go to a library for the April 3 edition) on globalization. It's apparently a teaser for this book.

The bottom line is that anyone can work from anywhere. We have seen that cheap Indian engineers may be a better deal for companies than overpaid whiny American engineers, hence outsourcing. Entrepreneurialism and invention, too, are likely to follow manufacturing overseas, as an educated and creative Indian with a good computer and high-speed Internet access is on a level playing field with his American contemporaries -- and there are a lot more young Chinese and Indians than Americans, and American youths seem to be getting fat and lazy while Asians are still ambitious and hungry.

Friedman's solution is rather obvious, but his call is urgent: we need better science education and a more flexible pension and health care system. Hmmm... sounds lik…

Yankee Twit! Euro Jerk!

The usually awful L.A. Times at least provides entertainment value (although they are just reprinting from the FT!):

This exchange between hedge fund managers across the Atlantic is hilarious! Read the whole thing.

HT: Dad.

No posts for you!

I'm finding out what's so great about the Barrier Reef. No Internet until April 12.

I hope when I get back I'll hear Kofi Annan has resigned and Condoleezza Rice has established an exploratory committee.

Conservative crack-up

Anklebitingpundits has a round-up of the discussion on a "conservative crack-up," the possible split between libertarians and religious conservatives. Patrick Hynes concludes that it's not going to happen, and that "the libertarians need the conservatives a whole lot more than the conservatives need the libertarians."

I disagree. Hynes' conclusion depends on the premise that the Democrats will always be led by left-wing spineless losers like John Kerry. If the Democrats nominated a fiscal moderate who was strong in the war on terror, I would split today. So would many of my fellow libertarians. Liberty is important to us, and if the Democrats offer a viable alternative to the hard right, we'll take it!

Blood on his hands

Norm Blog, a paragon of intellectual integrity on the left, points to this Observer story on the U.N. that asks "How many more must die before Kofi quits?"

Next to these tributes is another installation - a reproduction of the infamous fax by the UN Force Commander, General Romeo Dallaire, imploring the then head of UN peacekeeping, Kofi Annan, for authority to defend Rwandan civilians - many of whom had taken refuge in UN compounds under implicit and sometimes explicit
promises of protection.Here, too, is Annan's faxed response - ordering Dallaire to defend only the UN's image of impartiality, forbidding him to protect desperate civilians waiting to die.[...] His own legions have raped and pillaged. In two present scandals, over the oil-for-food programme in Iraq, and sex-for-food in Congo, Annan was personally aware of malfeasance among his staff, but again responded with passivity.
Read the whole thing. How anyone can continue to defend Kofi Annan is beyond me.

Want m…

Jane Galt on gay marriage

Jane Galt has kicked off an enormous discussion on gay marriage. She's the typical two-handed economist: "On the one hand, this... on the other hand, that..."

I think there's a much simpler solution:

The answer, from my perspective, is to separate the legal benefits of marriage from the cultural/religious institution.

Anti-gay marriage types say that gay marriage destroys the meaning of marriage. This may be true in some people's views, but gay couples certainly deserve equal rights with respect to taxes, next of kin issues, inheritance, etc. Civil unions accomplish this, if you give them all of the legal rights of marriage. How an anyone but the most right-wing bigot oppose that? You solve the whole problem by just not calling it "marriage."

HT: Instapundit.

Brownback? No thanks.

Anklebitingpundits reports that Sam Brownback may run for president.

If the Republicans nominate a Religious Right kook like Brownback, I'm going to begin voting Demo for a very long time.