December 2005 - W.C. Varones

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12.31.2005

Ho ho ho!

95% of self-selecting wingnuts agree!

6:16 AM 0
Lefty blogs are getting excited about an online MSNBC poll that shows an overwhelming percentage of respondents favor impeachment.

Well, duh! You're surprised that when MSNBC designs a poll to throw red meat to left-wingers that lots of left-wing sites link to it and lots of left-wingers vote?

Online polls are asinine. I thought that was well understood. People that take them seriously are dumber than the MSNBC fools who write them.

Just for the sake of illustration, one of the most controversial issues facing us today is whether John Kerry and Howard Dean should be forcibly sodomized with a broom handle. Your opinion matters. Please vote in the poll at the right.

UPDATE 1/3/05: The polls have closed and the people have spoken! 94% in favor and 6% opposed. Forcible sodomy with a foreign object is much more popular than impeachment!

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The secret obsession of liberals

5:03 AM 0
Over at Alarming News, guest blogger Julia explains the true motivation of liberals:

Seriously, sex is usually the driving force at the bottom of any liberal policy position. You can trace almost any of their positions back to sex.

For example, why do you think they don’t want the Ten Commandments hanging in the classrooms? Because one of those commandments says thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, and liberals are like, “We think the kids should make their own decisions about that.” And why do you think a liberal doesn’t want you to own a gun? Because he doesn’t want to get shot in case he sleeps with your wife.

It sounds simplistic, but the more you think about it, the more it explains a lot. For example, liberals' obsession with abortion to the exclusion of all other issues on the Supreme Court. Eminent domain abuse? No problem. FEC banning free speech? We don't care. As long as we get our abortion on demand!
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12.29.2005

The origin of Kwanzaa

Ace picks on defenseless nitwit

Jacques Chirac

Austrian taxpayers subsidize bad porn

5:54 AM 0
The Austrian government is following the lead of our own NEA and paying lots of money for really stupid "art." It's newsworthy this time because the "art" is goofy porn pictures of people wearing masks of George Bush, Jacques Chirac, and Queen Elizabeth.

Thanks to Ang for the link.
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12.27.2005

Ho ho ho!

Jim Cramer is just terrible

3:05 PM 0
I have the day off from work, and I'm watching Jim Cramer's Mad Money show on CNBC.

It is just awful. He conveys no useful information, and just rants with bugged-out eyes and a crazed voice.

I've heard his radio show before. It was awful as well. The most annoying feature I remember was a segment called "Am I Diversified?", in which callers listed five stocks and he told them whether or not they were in the same industry or sector... what a bore!

The TV show is not much better.


UPDATE: Oh, no! Now he's doing "Am I Diversified?" on TV!
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Verizon management: morons who should have listened to W.C. Varones

10:15 AM 0
Eight months ago, I urged the management of Verizon to walk away from a bidding war for MCI. They didn't listen.

How is ignoring my advice working out for Verizon? Not very well. Verizon is significantly underperforming its peers, SBC and BellSouth. And look at Qwest, the one that walked away! (Click on the graph for better visibility).


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Oooohhhh... you're an ANGRY secretary-general!

12.25.2005

Merry Christmas

7:34 AM 0
Merry Christmas!

With energy prices where they are, I'll wish for you some coal in your stocking!
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12.23.2005

Back in black

NSA Eavesdropping

5:42 AM 0
OpinionJournal has more support for the National Security Agency eavesdropping on terrorists here. Quoting Bill Clinton's assistant attorney general John Schmidt:

Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant.

In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that "All the . . . courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence . . . We take for granted that the president does have that authority."


and the New York Times:

A Federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe the Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Still, the Democrats don't get it:

Domestic spying authorized by the White House "doesn't uphold our Constitution" and President Bush offered a "lame" defense in recent public appearances, Sen. John Kerry said Tuesday.

The [haughty, French-looking] Massachusetts Democrat, who [by the way served in Vietnam and] lost to Bush in the 2004 presidential election, also said the alleged White House leak of a CIA agent's identity was more serious than the media's disclosure of the spying program.


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12.22.2005

Alito: still the one

America: liking Bush more and more every day

6:56 AM 0
News for the Democrats, whose political strategy is to make a huge issue out of the fact that they don't want to allow President Bush to authorize intelligence gathering on al-Qaeda associates' phone calls to their overseas co-conspirators:

The more you take the stupid side of this issue, the more Bush's ratings keep going up.
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Gold ETFs and Options

6:42 AM 0
Why are there no options available for either of the two gold ETFs, GLD and IAU?

If you're looking to invest in gold, ETFs are a very efficient way to do it. I chose GLD. It has much more liquidity and tighter spreads than IAU. Both have reasonable expense ratios of 0.40%.
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12.21.2005

Confessions of a closet conservative

7:03 AM 0
This is worth reading in its entirety. It describes the insular, groupthinking communities that occur in liberal enclaves, and one conservative woman's decision to keep her politics a secret.

I witness the liberal bubble phenomenon in San Francisco on a daily basis. At work, or on the street, it is common to hear unsolicited "Bush is an idiot" rants. At work, I keep my opinions to myself, but in social settings I occasionally take the bait, and respond with reason and facts. The reaction is always one of horror and disbelief. They do not debate the facts or the reasoning, but take it on faith that I must be sadly misguided. How could someone who seems so normal, so like us, actually support that evil fascist idiot dictator?

Note to blue-state Bush-haters: the next time you spontaneously bash Bush among friends, if a few of your friends don't join in the bashing, it might not be that they don't follow politics or don't care that much. It might be that they don't agree with your views, but just don't want to create hard feelings.
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President claims authority to break into your house without a warrant

6:47 AM 0
The President asserted that in cases of national security, he has "inherent authority" to order physical searches — including break-ins at the homes of U.S. citizens — for foreign intelligence purposes without any warrant or permission from any outside body.

Oh, wait. That was President Clinton.
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12.20.2005

Paris on the Hudson

8:27 PM 0
New York transit workers are acting like Frenchies.

The New York Sun's view of the strike:
The New York transit strike begun today is a blatantly illegal act of economic sabotage by a union so selfish that it is willing to destroy one of the most important business weeks in the city in a last-ditch attempt to preserve privileges that most private sector employees can only dream of — like the ability to retire at age 55 with a full pension, or the ability to not contribute at all to health insurance costs.


The strikers got a piece of New York's mind on the union's blog. The comments were taken down, but archived here (thanks Insty):
Anonymous said...
Two things, there's not going to be a violent revolution over mass transit employees having their healthcare cut, and secondly, if i could meet the masterminds behind this strike, i'd personally spit in each of their faces. I know fifty people at my campus who now cannot return to their families for the holiday season, and are being forced to spend their break in a hotel off campus until the transit system is running again. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves doing something this stupid this time of the year. Every single worker participating in the strike is extremely selfish and short sighted. To pull something so utterly despicable just shows how unions are corroding American society. We understand your concerns, but now is absolutlely not the time for this. Just saying that other people are being selfish for being angered by the strike is an incredibly irrisponsible way to think. One group of people halts the lives of hundreds of thousands. Who is being selfish?

4:25 AM


Anonymous said...
You guys really have a lot of balls. All you do is drive around in circles. Your job isn't hard at all. You get paid as much as cops and firemen, while much more as teachers. Something is wrong. You're asking for way too much here. Back down and know your roll. You guys aren't as high and as mighty as you thing.

4:25 AM


Anonymous said...
By going on strike, transit workers do not gather any sympathy from anyone. This strike is an extremely selfish act prompted by irresponsible union officials. I think you all probably deserve the raise but this is no way to get it! When you pledge to be a public servant you do so above your own personal needs. Get a grip! Stop this illegal strike and go back to work and then sit down and negotiate like responsible businessmen and women.

4:32 AM


Anonymous said...
These jerks have some nerve trying to seek pity. Nevermind the fact that these assholes average over $50,000 per year, base pay that this, never mind the fact that they make more than NYPD Cops, firemen and teachers. They are nothing more than greedy strike-happy jerkers buoyed by leaders fueled by reckless ambitions

4:33 AM


Anonymous said...
I am thoroughly disgusted with the TWU. Who are you to think you're above the law? Who are you to take well-paying jobs (for your education levels) serving millions of people and then hold us hostage by striking?

I have a 16 month old son who will be taken to day care today in his STROLLER. In 20 degree weather. I am paid hourly and will lose today's salary.

I hope the MTA and Mayor Bloomberg sue you to the fullest extent of the law. I hope you lose every last penny you've saved for your kids and yourselves.

You are TERRORISTS, and you are irresponsible, and you are pathetic. Welcome to life in the 21st century. EVERYONE pays a portion of their health care and retirement funds!

Get over yourselves and get back to work.

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Out here in Moonbatville

6:39 AM 0
A lot of people around San Francisco are talking about "Bush spies on Americans." People joke when calling each other on the phone, "Watch what you say. Bush may be listening."

Maybe they only read the headlines, or maybe the TV news reports didn't make it clear that the eavesdropping program only applies to known terrorist associates making calls to overseas numbers. Wow! I certainly wouldn't want the NSA to find out what known terrorist associates are doing in America! I mean, the "land of the free" means terrorists should be free to plan to kill people without government interference, right?

OpinionJournal explains why President Bush is doing the right thing, and has the legal authority to do it.
What we really have here is a perfect illustration of why America's Founders gave the executive branch the largest measure of Constitutional authority on national security. They recognized that a committee of 535 talking heads couldn't be trusted with such grave responsibility. There is no evidence that these wiretaps violate the law. But there is lots of evidence that the Senators are "illegally" usurping Presidential power--and endangering the country in the process.

The allegation of Presidential law-breaking rests solely on the fact that Mr. Bush authorized wiretaps without first getting the approval of the court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. But no Administration then or since has ever conceded that that Act trumped a President's power to make exceptions to FISA if national security required it. FISA established a process by which certain wiretaps in the context of the Cold War could be approved, not a limit on what wiretaps could ever be allowed.

The courts have been explicit on this point, most recently in In Re: Sealed Case, the 2002 opinion by the special panel of appellate judges established to hear FISA appeals. In its per curiam opinion, the court noted that in a previous FISA case (U.S. v. Truong), a federal "court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue [our emphasis], held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information." And further that "we take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power."

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12.19.2005

Democracy is a beautiful thing

5:28 AM 0
... in Iraq or in Bolivia, where indigenous-rights candidate Evo Morales appears to have won in a landslide. Yes, he's a socialist and may set back the economy by nationalizing the country's natural gas production. But Morales' election is historic as he will be the first Bolivian President from the oppressed indigenous population. He has also pledged to end the persecution of the indigenous population in the futile and destructive U.S.-led "War on Drugs."

Congratulations to the people of Bolivia and to President-elect Evo Morales.
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12.18.2005

Santas gone wild!

12.17.2005

I Love Big Brother

#1 reason not to ask to see your kid's report card

Groovy tunes

Want to avoid the death penalty? Kill a black person.

7:40 AM 0
My favorite left-wing death penalty supporter (OK, the only left-wing death penalty supporter I know), Angie, points us to this article that shows that people who kill black people don't get the death penalty in California.

Racism is not the reason I oppose the death penalty. I oppose it for both principled and pragmatic reasons. On principle, I don't believe that governments should be able to kill people. Pragmatically, I see both that erroneous convictions are frequent and that the death penalty is far more expensive and no more effective than life without parole.
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Mmmmm..... Democrats

12.16.2005

Pot, meet kettle

6:55 AM 0
Over at Kaus:
OP-ED COLUMNIST
W. Won't Read This
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 14, 2005
Never ask a guy who's in a bubble if he's in a bubble. He can't answer.

To continue reading this article, you must be a subscriber to TimesSelect.
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What ever happened to etiquette?

6:47 AM 0
I just got this in an e-mail from IPFreely.

Couldn't he have given me the courtesy of a phone call?
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12.14.2005

Mercy

7:22 AM 0
All right, the Governator showed that he's tough by whacking Hollywood favorite Tookie Williams.

Now, how about a little mercy? Let this guy live.
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WC Varones Blog welcomes its Italian readers

6:28 AM 0
I'm happy to see a comment from our Italian friends below. I don't speak Italian, but in this marvelous age of technology, we don't need to! Babelfish shows us a (rough and sloppy) translation of the commenter's blog:

To the end the governor-terminator of California has decided to soil the hands of true blood. Stanley Tookie Williams and with the same nature shown in its cruente will kill films, endured after an expensive one will be ignited sigaro and will go pranzare to some banquet of gala. That other to say, Schwarzy, following the tracks of Bush that give governor it has made to assassinate tens of prisoners, it is executing the just steps in order to succeed in to seat in top to the house white woman, to the guide of the greatest democracy of the planet. Yes, one democracy of terminator.. guerrilla radio. "I DIE PERCHE' ARE NOT WHITE MAN"

So it ain't poetry... thanks for the visit!
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12.12.2005

Took, Took, Tookie, Good-bye!

Daily Reckoning slams Thomas Friedman

6:14 AM 0
I haven't read much Thomas Friedman. I understand that his earlier writing on the Middle East is worthwhile. But his last book, The Earth is Flat, wastes hundreds of pages stating the blindingly obvious: that outsourcing is disruptive to an underskilled and overpaid American labor force.

I've never bothered to write an unkind word about Friedman, though. The Daily Reckoning, however, rips him a new one:

We always try to get our day off on the right foot by reading Friedman’s column before breakfast. There is something so gloriously naïve and clumsy in the man’s pensée, it never fails to brighten our mornings. It refreshes our faith in our fellow men; they are not evil, just mindless. We have never met the man, but we imagine Friedman as a high school teacher, warping young minds with drippy thoughts. But to say his ideas are sophomoric or juvenile merely libels young people, most of whom have far more cleverly nuanced opinions than the columnist. You might criticize the man by saying his work is without merit, but too that would be flattery. His work has negative merit. Every column subtracts from the sum of human knowledge in the way a broken pipe drains the town’s water tower.

Not that Mr. Friedman’s ideas are uniquely bad. Many people have similarly puerile, insipid notions in their heads. But Friedman expresses his hollow thoughts with such heavy-handed earnestness, it often makes us laugh. He seems completely unaware that he is a simpleton. That, of course, is a charm; he is so dense you can laugh at him without hurting his feelings.

Friedman writes regularly and voluminously. But thinking must be painful to him; he shows no evidence of it. Instead, he just writes down whatever humbug appeals to him at the moment, as unquestioningly as a mule goes for water.

One of the things Friedman worries about is that America will “go dark.” As near as we can tell, he means that the many changes wrought after 9/11 are changing the character of the nation, so that “our DNA as a nation...has become badly deformed or mutated.” In classic Friedman style, he proposes something that any 12-year-old would recognize as preposterous: another national commission! “America urgently needs a national commission to look at all the little changes that were made in response to 9/11,”three he writes. If a nation had DNA and if it could be mutated, we still are left with the enormous wonder: What difference would a national commission make? Wouldn’t the members have the national DNA? Or should we pack the commission with people from other countries to get an objective opinion - a U.N. panel and a few illiterate tribesman—and achieve cultural diversity?

But this is what is so jaw-dropping about Friedman’s ideas: Even mules and teenagers have more complex views. His work is a long series of “we should do this” and “they should do that.” Never for a moment does he stop to wonder why people actually do what they do. Nor has the thought crossed his mind that other people might have their own ideas about they should do and no particular reason to think Mr. Friedman’s ideas are any better. There is no trace of modesty in his writing—no skepticism, no cynicism, no irony, no suspicion lurking in the corner of his brain that he might be a jackass. Of course, there is nothing false about him either; he is not capable of either false modesty or falsetto principles. With Friedman, it is all alarmingly real. Nor is there any hesitation or bewilderment in his opinions; that would require circumspection, a quality he completely lacks.

Friedman fears he may not approve of all the post-9/11 changes. But so what? Why would the entire world “go dark” just because America stoops to empire? The idea is nothing more than a silly imperial conceit. America is not the light of the world. Friedman can stop worrying. The sun shone before the United States existed. It will shine long after she exists no more. But, without realizing it, imperial conceits are what Mr. Friedman offers, one after another. He knows what is best for everyone, all the time.

But even at his specialty, Friedman is second-rate. It is not that his proposals are much dumber than anyone else’s, but he offers them in a dumber way. He sets them up like a TV newscaster, unaware that they mean anything, not knowing whether to smile or weep, out of any context other than the desire to make himself look good. He does not seem to notice that his own DNA has mutated along with the nation’s institutions . . . and that he does nothing more than amplify the vanities and prejudices that pass for the evening’s news. Is there trouble in Palestine? Well, the Palestinians should have done what we told them. Have peace and democracy come to Iraq? If so, it is thanks to the brave efforts of our own troops. Is the price of oil going up? Well, of course it is; the United States has not yet taken up the comprehensive energy policy he proposed for it. Friedman’s world is so neat. So simple. There must be nothing but right angles. And no problem that doesn’t have a commission waiting to solve it.

It must be unfathomable to such a man that the world could work in ways that surpass his understanding. In our experience, any man who understands even his own thoughts must have few of them. And those he has must be simpleminded.

But we enjoy Friedman’s insipid commentaries. The man is too clumsy to hide or disguise the awkward imbecility of his own line of thinking. The silliness of it is right out in the open, where we can laugh at it. His whole oeuvre can be reduced to the proposition that Arabs ought to shape up and start acting more like New Yorkers. If they don’t want to do it on their own, we can give them some help. He says we can send “caring” and “nurturing” troops to “build democracies” in these places and “protect the rights of women.” But he doesn’t understand how armies, empires, politics, or markets really work. American troops can give help, but it is the kind of help that Scipio gave Carthageor Sherman gave Atlanta. Armies are a blunt instrument, not a precision tool.

Friedman urged the Bush administration to attack Iraq. But the man has a solution for every problem he causes. “So how do we get the Sunni Arab village to de-legitimize [we love these big words - every one of them hides a whole dictionary of lies, fibs, prevarications, malentendus, misapprehensions, miscalculations, guesswork, hallucination, conceit, and mendacity] suicide bombers?”

Simple. Propaganda! “The Bush team needs to be forcefully demanding that Saudi Arabia and other key Arab allies use their news media, government, and religious systems to denounce and de-legitimize the despicable murder of Muslims by Muslims in Iraq.”

That ought to do it. What is wrong with the Bush team? Why didn’t they think of that? “Forcefully demand” that the Arab states do more propaganda. Yes, problem solved.

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12.09.2005

Someone's a little full of himself

Ouch!

12.08.2005

Strike a blow for liberty

6:31 AM 0
Primary season is rolling around again, and we have a chance to strike a blow for liberty.

One of the worst Republicans in the House, Rep. Joe Schwarz of Michigan, is facing a primary challenge from former state senator and limited-government advocate Tim Walberg.

How bad is Schwarz? Not only is he frequently in favor of raising taxes, he also voted against the bill to restrict eminent domain. That's right, Schwarz thinks state and local politicians should be able to take your home to give to their greedy developer cronies to turn into condos or a strip mall.

This is a heavily Republican seat, so the winner of this primary will almost certainly win the general election.

The good news is that you can do something about it. You don't have to live in Michigan to help. Send a donation to Walberg and send Schwarz packing!

You can send a donation by credit card via the Club for Growth at (800) 784-2741.
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France's problem?

12.06.2005

TimesSelect

9:11 PM 0
The New York Times is hiding its opinion writers under a bushel. It wants to cash in on them, and it thinks people will pay $50 a year for "TimesSelect," a worthless service that gives subscribers access to the mundane opinions of Times writers.

Too bad for the Times that other people are posting the columns for free. I don't condone this type of copyright violation, but I couldn't pick a better victim than the arrogant idiots at the New York Times.
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John Kerry supports the troops

Whiny French news agency doesn't want Google to link it

6:27 PM 0
Agence France Presse is complaining that Google is linking its news stories:

European publishers warned Tuesday that they cannot keep allowing Internet search engines such as Google Inc. to make money from their content. "The new models of Google and others reverse the traditional permission-based copyright model of content trading that we have built up over the years," said Francisco Pinto Balsemao, the head of the European Publishers Council, in prepared remarks for a speech at a Brussels conference.

His stance backs French news agency AFP, which is suing Google for pulling together photos and story excerpts from thousands of news Web sites. "It is fascinating to see how these companies 'help themselves' to copyright-protected material, build up their own business models around what they have collected, and parasitically, earn advertising revenue off the back of other people's content," he said. "This is unlikely to be sustainable for publishers in the longer term."


Have you seen Google's news site? Take a look. It's not ripping anybody off. It's providing links that drive traffic to other news sites. If you smelly French bastards weren't so anti-capitalist, you might realize that web traffic can bring ad revenue. Google is doing you a favor! If you don't want people reading your news, hide it behind a subscription password like TimesSelect, and then no one will ever read it again!
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Murtha on the weed

5:44 AM 0
Everybody's favorite cut-and-run advocate Rep. Jack Murtha seems a bit confused and self-contradicting:

Rep. Murtha on the prospects of an Iraqi civil war:

[T]here's a civil war going. We're caught in between a civil war right now. Our troops are the targets of the civil war. They're the only people that could have unified the various factions in Iraq. And they're unified against us. --ABC's This Week, 12/4/05

[W]hy should I believe what the CIA says about what's happening in
Iraq, that there's going to be a civil war? First of all, al Qaeda was wrong. It was wrong on the nuclear stuff. It was wrong on everything they have said over there. So why should I believe that there's going to be a civil war? -- same show, a few moments later.


Rep. Murtha on whether the Iraqis will throw us out:

[T]he military won a military victory. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. ...[snip] ... Now, it's got to be a political win. They have to win this
politically. The Iraqis themselves. We'll stay there forever. The Iraqis are never going to say turn it over. We can't allow them to say when it's gonna turn it over.--This Week, 12/4/05

You're gonna see the Iraqis clamoring. Listen, anybody we support in Iraq loses the election. And so they're gonna be clamoring for us to get out. -- same show, a few moments later.

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12.04.2005

On the de-Christmasification of Christmas

Somebody feels threatened by the idea of President Rice

Steyn on Iraq, the Democrats, and the silencing of the sane

7:33 AM 0
Mark Steyn notes that voices of reason like Joe Lieberman are being drowned out by shouts of defeatism in the Democratic Party:

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, came out with a big statement on Iraq last week. Did you hear about it? Probably not. Everyone was still raving about his Democrat colleague, Rep. Jack Murtha, whose carefully nuanced position on Iraq is: We're all doomed unless we pull out by next Tuesday! (I quote from memory.)

Also, the United States Army is "broken," "worn out" and "living hand to mouth." If the reaction to Murtha's remarks by my military readers is anything to go by, he ought to be grateful they're still bogged down in Iraq and not in the congressional parking lot.

It's just about acceptable in polite society to disagree with Murtha, but only if you do it after a big 20-minute tongue bath about what "a fine man" he is (as Rumsfeld said) or what "a good man" he is (as Cheney called him) or what "a fine man, a good man" he is (as Bush phrased it). Nobody says that about Lieberman, especially on his own side. And, while the media were eager to promote Murtha as the most incisively insightful military expert on the planet, this guy Lieberman's evidently some nobody no one need pay any attention to.

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12.03.2005

Another one bites the dust

Go Bolivia!

8:30 AM 1
Bolivia is about to elect a president who wants to decriminalize coca production. It's about time!

I traveled through Bolivia a couple years ago and at one point was stopped at a checkpoint that was staffed by local police but the guys giving the orders were US DEA agents. It was awkward to see American drug warriors telling the locals what to do in their own country.

Let's hope Bolivia joins Venezuela in rejecting collaboration with the occupiers. End this brutal, costly, unjust, and unwinnable war.

The War on Drugs: Give Peace a Chance!
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OpinionJournal: Wal-Mart is good for America

7:26 AM 0
OpinionJournal repeats the argument that Wal-Mart is good for America, and attacks the Wal-Mart bashers.

...the vanguard of the Wal-Mart haters is composed of unions that have for decades kept retail wages and prices artificially high, especially in the supermarket business. Those unions have had next to no success organizing Wal-Mart employees and see Wal-Mart's push into groceries as a direct threat to their market position. And on that one score, they may be right.

But seen it that light, it becomes clear that much of the criticism is simply a form of special-interest lobbying in socially conscious drag. And why an outside observer should favor the interests of unionized supermarket employees over those of Wal-Mart shoppers and employees is far from clear (unless you're a politician who gets union contributions).

I'm ambivalent about Wal-Mart. It has certainly raised the standard of living for the working class, as it as reduced prices dramatically. Even those who don't shop at Wal-Mart benefit from its presence, as other stores must reduce their prices to remain competitive.

But I do regret the demise of Main Street America and mom-and-pop shops. Wal-Mart has certainly played a role in this, but it would happen without Wal-Mart. Economies of scale dictate that the dominance of large chain stores is inevitable. The Internet, too, is transforming business and wrecking a lot of bricks-and-mortar stores along the way, but we don't hear calls to ban Internet commerce.

OpinionJournal sees Wal-Mart's recent call for a higher minimum wage as a poorly executed PR stunt. I think it was sincere. After all, as OpinionJournal notes, Wal-Mart already pays the vast majority of its workers far more than minimum wage, so a hike in the minimum wage wouldn't cost Wal-Mart much at all. It would, however, put more spending money in the pockets of Wal-Mart's minimum-wage customers. And it would hurt any of Wal-Mart's competitors that still pay minimum wage.
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12.01.2005

Belgian woman takes one for the team

6:50 AM 0
A Belgian woman who married a radical Islamist traveled to Iraq and blew herself up. The good news?
She is reported to be the only victim of the attack.
If she's that incompetent and ineffective, she could have had a great career in the Belgian military. And...
Her husband is reported to have been killed in Iraq in a separate incident.
The US military is solving Europe's unemployment problem, one European at a time! France should offer its suburban youth free one-way bus tickets to Iraq.

From Karol.
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The Keystone Terrorists

6:26 AM 0
How long before these stupid terrorists realize they've kidnapped a bunch of stupid terrorist sympathizers?

"We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people."
How long before they wake up and let them go?

Prediction: just a few days.

From the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
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