Saturday, January 01, 2005


Happy New Year!!

Still on vacation here. Will be back Monday. The bastards are up to no good, I tell you.

U.S. tsunami response—Simply disgusting

Okay. We already knew the U.S. is stingy with its foreign aid. After having first proposed $20 million for the tsunami disaster—about half of the cost of Bush's coronation—upping the ante to $350 million would have been a sensible way out of the embarrassment. Of course, I was immediately suspicious. After all, Bush loves to make pledges of help that he fails to keep, such as billions of dollars to help with the AIDS disaster in Africa. Then I came upon "U.S. block on tsunami funds cynical and shameful" at Reuters AlertNet.

Nick Cater writes,

In its warped response to the Asian tsunami catastrophe, the United States is seeking not to support and foster the United Nations but to damage its political credibility and destroy its vital capacities in disaster management.

U.S. President George W. Bush and his secretary of state, Colin Powell, have decided to set up a regional coordination group distinct from the United Nations, involving India, Japan, Australia and the United States.

This will have its own assessment teams, funding channels and, one suspects, political priorities, given the United States’ position as a superpower that desperately needs to find new friends, especially among the area's Islamic populations.

But the move, which amounts to an effective block on funding for the United Nations, is a vindictive decision, designed to punish the world body and, by its exclusion, the EU, for their stance over Iraq. It will be both costly - just wait for the duplication and waste, especially when military forces get involved - and shortsighted.

True, Jan Egland, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, should not have taken this moment to accuse various Western donors of being "stingy" with aid, although the initial U.S. response to his remarks appears to have been a welcome hike in its cash commitment to $35 million from $20 million.

Of course, Egland's criticism was overdue, entirely accurate and mild by comparison with the wholesale failure of the United States and most donors to miss by a mile the globally agreed target for overseas assistance of 0.7 percent of gross domestic product.

If such a target had been met, we might have seen serious and sustained investment in disaster preparedness in the region over recent decades, including the Pacific-style tsunami warning system that is now being demanded.

So who does Cater think is running the U.S. government—humanitarians?

Another story revealed the U.S. government's attitude in microcosm. Fay Wachs was fortunate to have been scuba diving when the wave hit. It undoubtedly saved her life. But little did she expect the treatment she received later on.

According to CNN,

Faye Wachs said she was impressed by the efforts of the Thai government and the International Committee for the Red Cross, but "she was appalled at the treatment they got" from the U.S. government, her mother said.

At the airport in Bangkok, other governments had set up booths to greet nationals who had been affected and to help repatriate them, she said.

That was not the case with the U.S. government, Wachs told her mother. It took the couple three hours, she said, to find the officials from the American consulate, who were in the VIP lounge.

Because they had lost all their possessions, including their documentation, they had to have new passports issued.

But the U.S. officials demanded payment to take the passport pictures, Helen Wachs said.

The couple had managed to hold on to their ATM card, so they paid for the photos and helped other Americans who did not have any money get their pictures taken and buy food, Helen Wachs said.

"She was really very surprised" that the government did so little to ease their ordeal, she said.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Right prescription, wrong religion?

A new study by Rand Corporation is out—"US Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11." Who knows how much they were paid by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations of the US Air Force to elaborate on a divide-and-conquer strategy against Muslims, but I'm sure it was worth every penny of it. provides some excerpts of the study—
The Rand Study also called for madressah and mosques reforms in the Muslim world and suggested that US should "support the efforts of governments and moderate Muslim organizations to ensure that mosques, and the social services affiliated with them, serve their communities and do not serve as platforms for the spread of radical ideologies." The study even suggested that there should be government appointed and paid professional imams in all mosques to suppress anti-Western and anti-American feelings. [emphasis added]
Now, about Pat Robertson ...

Are they practicing for Iraq or for Toledo?

Dale Emch of the Toledo Blade reports—
The Marines will take over parts of downtown Toledo as sounds of gunfire will echo off buildings when training exercises are conducted next weekend.

Major Cramer said Marines will be dressed in green and will be carrying rifles through the streets, but the exercises should have a minimal impact on the downtown area. He said the Marines will be firing blanks and conducting operations throughout the area.

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre said military exercises have been conducted before in the downtown area with a minimal impact on city residents.

It is always good to accustom the citizenry to this sort of thing. More...

Who the hell writes this stuff?

Is the AP deliberately misleading with this headline—"Terror Suspects Appear Before Cuba Panel." I clicked on it because—silly me—I thought it was about Cuba.

It's actually about hearings for three more prisoners at Guantánamo by the U.S. military tribunal. Well, "Terror Suspects Appear Before U.S. Military Tribunal" or "Terror Suspects Appear Before Guantánamo tribunal" might have been more attention-getting, since most Americans don't pay any attention to Cuba.

I know, I know. "Cuba" is a lot shorter than "Guantánamo," but does that justify such ridiculous inaccuracy?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Quote of the Day

National will is going to falter in its support of this U.S. involvement — more than it already has — if our soldiers cannot even be secure in large, semi-hardened containment areas. This is a damned cold slap in the face, and not one of these soldiers should have been killed or injured. Iraq is heading for civil war and total chaos and the Jan. 30 election is like putting a Flintstones Band-Aid on a gushing femoral artery.
—Sgt. Maj. J. David Gallant, an instructor at the Army Military Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, speaking of Mosul, as quoted in "Suicide Mission" by David DeBatto

I'd like that with fries—hold the prayer

Jeffrey MacDonald of the Christian Science Monitor takes a look at a new trend—

Those who crave Starbucks can step over to a kiosk at Grace Capital Church in Pembroke, N.H. At True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, N.Y., the spot where the choir once sang now sells Subway sandwiches. And in more than a few picturesque meeting houses, hymns and prayers ascend through a steeple that doubles as a leased-out cellphone tower.

For-profit businesses have found their warmest church receptions among highly autonomous congregations, where closeness to God depends more on conversion than sacred space. Evangelicals have led the way in embracing Starbucks, Subway — and, at Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston, a McDonald's. Meanwhile, mainline Congregationalists have welcomed cellphone towers to many of New England's quaint steeples.

If I buy a Big Mac in church, is it tax-deductible?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Uncivil aviation

Reporter Dana Priest has landed a story on the front page of the Washington Post that ought to embarrass the Congress, not to mention the CIA and the American people.

The story gives in some detail the history and travels of a Gulfstream V turbojet, "the sort favored by chief executives and celebrities." It's the jet being used by the CIA to whisk prisoners destined for torture to torture-friendly countries. Every writer in Blogistan will be linking it, so I won't spend too much time on it, but I was struck by several points—

Countries that have participated or cooperated in the CIA operation include Sweden, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Cyprus, Jordan, Germany and, of course, Britain. Sweden is the only country said to be "conducting an investigation."

The plane has recently been transfered from "Premier Executive Transport Services" to "Bayard Foreign Marketing" of Portland, Oregon.

Related post
It depends on what the meaning of the word "law" is ... [updated 6/14]

Monday, December 27, 2004


Quote of the Day

Indeed, in my six years here, I've come to the reluctant conclusion that the Florida Legislature is the sort of place one might rank just above brothels, crack houses and newsrooms as suitable choices for a field trip by one's children.
—Daryl Lease, columnist for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

WaPo finally reports College Republican larceny of the elderly

The Washington Post has finally gotten around to "reporting" a two-month's old story of how the College Republicans have been draining dry the bank accounts of the elderly. But reporter Thomas Edsall fails to repeat the most significant fact discovered by the Seattle Times
The Times was able to determine the ages of 49 of the top 50 individual donors to the College Republicans. The median age of the donors is 85, and 14 of them are 90 or older. [emphasis added]

Eric Hopkins, the chairman of the national committee, refused to be interviewed by the Post, and he sent a memo to the state leaders telling them not to speak to the press

"We need the story to go away," he wrote. "The story is full of lies and distortions written by a well-known liberal who is out to get us. If the press asks you about it, tell them you have no comment."

But the plan is to blame it on the direct-mailer, a company called Response Dynamics run by a Mr. Ron Kanfer—

Late last month, the College Republican executive board approved a verbal resolution proposed by Hoplin to review and likely cancel the organization's direct-mail contract with Virginia-based Response Dynamics Inc., according to sources who attended.

Kanfer's defense?

Kanfer noted that since Response Dynamics took the account, "the College Republican budget has increased twenty-five-fold." The mailings, he said, use "the same lists that every Republican fundraiser basically mails -- gun owners, pro-life activists, businessmen who don't like attorneys. It would be absurd to think we have lists called 'dementia people.'"

It would also be absurd to think that anyone would receive checks totalling $100,000 and not bother to check out the sender, and equally absurd to think that neither the College Republicans nor the fundraiser would be interested in who their top donors were.

The College Republicans even misrepresented themselves—

During the 2004 campaign, the group sent out direct-mail solicitations under such letterheads as "Republican Headquarters 2004" and "Republican Election Committee."

Only in the fine print was the true source of the solicitation revealed.

In the State of Florida, if I had sex with a mentally handicapped person I would be in deep do-do, but the College Republicans can screw them till they cry "uncle" and no charges are brought.

Previous post
College Republican leadership deserves jail time

Sunday, December 26, 2004



I am taking this week off—sort of. Seven months of reading appalling news, not to mention writing about it, can ruin a perfectly good sense of humor.

But I will not be just goofing off. Busy hands are happy hands. Santa was generous to me this year, though I was a little disappointed that he didn't bring me that Model XXX penis pump that I saw in the toy store window. But in lieu of that I may be able to upgrade my computer to one that will boot when the heat is on.

Then there's the matter of the layout of this blog. As one commenter opined some months ago,

Very interesting stuff but I can't stand the orange color and font of the messages.

Me either. But I can't understand cascading style sheets and the Bushies at the same time. I just can't. So maybe by the end of the week I'll have figured out how to give this blog a new look. No promises. It's only a hope.

Of course the world won't stop while I dabble in pixels, so I may have to post a comment or two. But in any case, I will be back with poison pen in hand on Monday, January 3. Have a good week and a Happy New Year!

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