Friday, January 23, 2004

Kerry, Friday 23rd, 2004:

You have no idea how alike you and Tom are, are you certain that if we traced his family and yours that they don't intersect somewhere?


I might hope not.


Kerry, Friday 23rd, 2004, after packing sunglasses and protective cream:

PS, Hope those rough days are due to the quarterly filing, not family stuff.


It was the quarterly filing. Pfah! As if Mainers ever care!


CNN Weather, Friday 23rd, 2004:

"(AP) -- Arctic air was forecast to bring accumulations of 6 to 12 inches in the eastern Great Lakes, while an area of low pressure was expected to cause scattered snow showers in the Northeast. Wind chill values across were to plunge as low as minus 20."


Bar Harbor is in the Northeast isn’t it? Whoahahahahaha!!!!!


Michael, Friday 23rd, 2004

Mark from Colorado, how about inviting Christiane from Switzerland, Robert, Rachel and Arruda to the comments section?

Thursday, January 22, 2004

…Sorry fellas and gals... have just been lurking lately... had some rough days... no time to post anything valuable... noticed though that Tom's best friend, the one with the French face, won in Iowa and that Dean went off not with a whimper but with a bang... Knew practically nothing about SOTU until I came upon it here... so whadda ya think was the reason those soldiers were looking less than happy? Were they sitting next to Hillary mayhaps?


…………(reading latest post)………….



[RANT ON] Oh yeah, sure. Tom, Kerry, Scott and wife off to the Richard Grason Inn in Bar Harbor until Monday “for some R&R which means plenty of discussion, but no blogging”! Sure. Leave me alone defending the West's values eh? Sounds pretty socialistic to me. Guess you’ll discuss the chef’s menu or have a fight over who’ll get the Ashley bedroom and who’ll sleep in the Melinda cave. Scott, I hope there’s more than one wall between the two. I heard Tom snores like an A 10 attacking a Republican Guard column. I suggest you drop him into the Tyler bedroom, although Kerry confided me he’s afraid alone in the dark. Kerry, you don’t really want to sleep in this Melinda thing, the color is giving me a migraine already. That “fully-equipped gourmet kitchen” REALLY SUCKS!!!! If you think the loser who runs the place is mentally half as stable as the Lion of Kosovo and can have a look at my site without succumbing to the Mother Of All Depressions then hand him the link to it, maybe guests will be able to have decent meals by the time LPB III is POTUS. “Spectacular view of Frenchman’s Bay”…”French doors lead from the Melinda Room…”. Who the hell came up with the idea of hiring this place anyway? I bet it’s Tom. For all his ranting on the French he doesn’t fool this one. Admit that you are a sly Frenchofile Tommy. What you gonna say now eh? C’est la vie?

We leave the site in Michael's adept hands to use as he pleases.” Hah! You bet!!! In my country we have a saying: “When the cat is off the mice dance on the table.” Well, you asked for it yourself Kerry. You practically begged for it. Don’t start whining come Tuesday.


…………(seething)..........


Can't think properly anymore… Good night to all those living outside Maine... good night for me at least... in His Infinite Goodness The Lord hath wanted it that Belgium should be perpetually six hours ahead of Maine... not to speak of Colorado...


.............................................
Though Tom and Scott may be posting off and on for the rest of the day, we'll all be off until Monday. We're going to Bar Harbor for some R and R, which means plenty of discussion, but no blogging! We leave the site in Michael's adept hands to use as he pleases.

Here's where we are going, the guy is giving us a great deal, so the least that I can do is put his link out there.
Here's a great piece on the Patriot Act. Bookmark this one for future use against frothing civil libertarians.

The last passage is the most telling: "As for civil-liberties abuse, a useful measure of just how profoundly threatening the law is should be Section 223, the Patriot Act provision under which citizens can seek monetary damages if they are mistreated. To date, the number of lawsuits is zero."

Grand frère cracks down on the beard menace threatening France.

Maybe that's why they didn't back us in the war with Iraq. At the start of the war, Saddam just had a moustache.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Oh yeah, forgot this line, which as soon as it was said, I almost jumped off the couch at the missed opportunity. Though it wouldn't mean diddly to others anyway.

"The United States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins," --My immediate thought was that this sentence should have stopped after the word intimidated. It would have been much stronger, and would have been a message to our so called "UN allies", AS WELL as the thugs and assassins.

Can't comment on the ICC, it's just too depressing.
Did I ever mention that the International Criminal Court sucks?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Well, there was nothing earth shattering in the SOTU address. Here's a few negatives:

Ted Kennedy getting air time.

Ted Kennedy getting air time fondling his ample jowls.

A $300,000,000 "initiative" (nice call, Kerry) to help people leaving prison to get training, etc. to re-enter the work force and not be repeat offenders. In other words let's reward criminals with money taken from people who obey the laws. I can't tell you how pleased I am at the thought of my hard earned money going to assist the guy who broke into my house last year. I wonder if I can get in on some of this training should I fall on tough times. Probably not without committing a crime first. Here's what I propose for ex-cons: You let them out of jail at the end of their sentence. That one is free.

Some of the most sorry military personnel ever (again, nice call Kerry). Those who had a pulse couldn't even be bothered to pay attention. Must have been Wes Clark's old staff.

"Limiting spending increases to less than 4%." What a miser! This counts as cost cutting in Washington.

John Kerry referring to the economic recovery as a "Wall Street Bush League recovery" in an interview after the speech. What a wordsmith. I'm not sure I'll be able to take much more of his tall, twisted head.

About 15 other new ways to piss away taxpayer money on things the government should have nothing to do with.

On a positive note, here are a few good things from the SOTU:

As Kerry said, Bush really set the Dems up with that Patriot Act line. How long are these people going to continue to think he is stupid?

Many important Democrats looking classless, petulant, and unprofessional on camera. I know; what's new?

A strong denunciation of socialized medicine. Bush showed some good backbone here. Looks like we're going to avoid the biggest disaster of modern government for a few more years.

Another mispronunciation of "nuclear". I'm glad the pres is holding his ground on this important issue.

Well that's all I can remember. It will be fun to watch the Democratic candidates fall all over themselves trying to out critique each other tomorrow.

OK, before I read, or listen to anyone else's analysis of tonight's State of the Union address, I'm going to give the things that hit me the biggest.

Could the military people represented there have been any less enthusiastic? This was NOT the kind of reaction that I've seen "troops on the ground" give their Commander in Chief. Even if that had been Bill Clinton, those people should be dressed down by their superiors for their behavior. It was appalling to me.

Every cringe I had hearing the word "initiative" (code-new social program) in the last third of the speech was more than countered by the smile on Rummy's face for the first two thirds, every time defense and war on terror were mentioned.

IMHO though, he never should have mentioned the aircraft carrier landing, or the trip to Bahgdad, it would have been more powerful not to, it just sounded like he had to remind peole, and your average American will see it as grandstanding. I thought that it was unnecessary and sounded like a "sound bite", and when shown with the misrerable, barely clapping soldiers, well, it didn't make a good picture, not the guy that we know can connect with troops on the job.

Could the partisanship be any more obvious? The only time that the entire chamber was standing was when some "initiative" spending our money was suggested, and when the President of the Iraqi Governing Council was introduced. Otherwise there was some polite applause from a few Democrats that at least still know their social manners, while the rest rolled their eyes (Hillary), or stroked their jowls while shaking their heads (Ted Kennedy) trying to look grave, but just looking like an old bloodhound. Then there was Rangel, who at one point was captured sitting perfectly still with eyes closed, either sleeping or doing a good job faking it.

This is a big difference from the SOTU after 9/11, where everyone clapped for everything and people on both sides were gushing. Such a bunch of fakes.

The President, I will admit surprised me with some fairly pointed and brave remarks tonight.
Best zinger, "the Patriot Act will expire next year"---Dem's start applausing, Bush pauses to allow them, they couldn't have played into the next line better for him....
"The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule." Directed right at them. Loved it. I must admit that I was surprised by his directness on this one. Gutsy.

The distinction of "internationalization" meaning "under the UN" vs. "internationalization" without mentioning the UN by name. Guess he can play the diplomacy game.

The "duh" line letting people know that diplomacy only works if your words mean something, if you back them up. An immediate cut to Powell of course, who was applauding fiercely.

Oh yeah, and the talk on "abstinance" THAT was gutsy. After my horrid and long discussion on Jeff Jarvis' site the other day, that was personally gratifying. However, I don't want to fund an "initiative" on it!

OK, more tomorrow, for now, off to bed.
This is good news. "Arab fighters die in gun battle after Iraqis inform on them"
This via Instapundit:

"Our culture is quick to point out the responsibilities husbands have to wives—they should help out with the housework, be better listeners, understand that a woman wants to be more than somebody's mother and somebody's wife—but very reluctant to suggest that a wife has responsibilities to her husband."

Taken from this post.

On that note, I won't be blogging for the rest of the daytime hours, as I have some responsibilities to fulfill...

(I doubt that I'll be able to refrain from posting after the SOTU speech tonight though.)
Keep this this in mind as the Democratic candidates hammer Bush on the budget deficit.
I'm on board with this suggestion of what the State of the Union should really be like tonight.

The money lines for me are:
"All of this is to say that there seems to be a correlation between the length of the State of the Union speech and the size of the budget expansion in the upcoming year. Americans seem to unfailingly approve this wish list, as if government really is Santa Claus and that we are all entitled to ask what the country will do for us. Just once — just one blasted time — I would love for a president to say: Want prescription drugs? Want your toddler's pre school paid for? Want to go to college? Want a marriage counselor? Want to get thin? Then work hard and pay for it yourself you whiners!
Alternatively, the president could say: "I could give you all a super-sized goodie bag, but then I couldn't cut your taxes anymore. So instead of new federal programs, we will have another $500 per family tax cut and then you can go out and buy your own cans of Slim Fast.
.
That won't happen even though taxpayers would respect this kind of honesty. Wouldn't be compassionate. But the lesson of the last 50 years is that there is no end to government compassion when the politicians' are reaching into someone else's pocket."

I've been thinking all along that Kerry will win the nomination, while Tom has been favoring Gephart to do so. However, we've all seemed to underestimate Edwards, who did well in Iowa last night, and at least supports our position in Iraq. Interesting....
Coming to a city near you. More political correctness.

This is news in Portland, Maine today, but it could be anywhere. Why? Because the guy that started this couldn't just crumple up the paper and throw it in the trash when it came home with his kid. No, it's his chance to be a "civil rights champion". Of course, those "rights" only apply to certain people, while they apply to homosexuals, they don't apply to religious based groups. I'm not saying that if a flyer came home for an "alternative families group" that an extreme religious person might not go in and voice the same complaint, which wouldn't be any better.

I'm just saying what's happening to "America"? How about "lighten up"? How about TRUE "tolerance" for ALL groups? Get a grip people.



Monday, January 19, 2004

Jose Maria Aznar strikes me as exactly the type of person I wish there were more of in the EU. The linked interview is interesting, Aznar impressed me during the events leading up to the late unpleasantness in Iraq, I'm sorry to see he is stepping down.

Michael, any comments or impressions?
Mark, you wrote:

"Now I have to hear Michael's comments about the EU trade agreement with Syria. I thought France had 1 vote in the EU, not 15! How did Italy and Spain vote on this?"

Mark, since I have to get my quarterly VAT Declaration prepared and ready by tomorrow (otherwise I will get shot by the BFP, Belgian Fiscal Police), I must and will try to keep this entry short and precise.

Well, the mere fact that this EU-Syria Association Agreement has been reached – may I remind you, after five years – is just an illustration of the vast difference in policy between EU and USA, while both have basically the same goals. As you will find out here, the Association Agreement implies a.o. measures to guarantee basic human rights as well as enhancing free trade and liberalizing the Syrian economy, which is very much state-controlled. I don’t seriously think the US will be opposed to these goals.

The EU hopes to achieve them through embracing and kissing the Syrian government all over; the USA plays hardball to make them do it. It’s just a matter of policy but both America and the US have the same goals – Iraq all over again.

Now, being a rightwinger myself – btw, Mark, that was quite some confession from Lee C., Scott (not the one from Maine, that one from Oregon), CVS etc. yesterday on Omar’s blog - I generally have no problem denouncing the EU’s all too often “soft” approach. I, too, think that a much more straightforward course would yield better results. In this particular case, however, you have to understand that the talks were already well underway long before 9/11, in a time when the US itself was not yet up to go for it the Iraq way. 9/11 happened, but it happened in the US, and because of that the idea of pre-emptive strikes (Afghanistan, Iraq) and ballsy politics became acceptable for (the majority of) Americans. Through inertia and European complacence and, yeah, because the softies content is higher over here, Europe is not yet ready for the American way (it might change when an Airbus crashes in the Eiffeltower, God forbid). And that’s why after 9/11 these talks just continued with an Agreement now having been reached. We’ll see what comes out of it, but indeed, I’m not holding my breath.

You’ll like to hear it when I say that I expect more from the events in Iraq for Syria to change than from the EU’s Association Agreement. In a weird way both the EU’s and the USA’s moves don’t even have to be counterproductive in this particular case. You know, those Syrians sweating with 130,000 GI’s in their backyard but, nervously, not exactly knowing how to put oil on the waves without losing their face and then, miraculously, hey, there’s just in time this nice framework for political and economical reforms offered by the Europeans!

Well, on the voting system as agreed upon under the 2002 Nice Agreement, I’ll have to refer you to my earlier post. Don't fall asleep behind the keyboard.

I think the issue had to be agreed upon by the Council of Ministers through Unanimity Voting. Since it passed, all member states must have agreed. Note, however, the scheme you get presented under the link is the one envisaged for the 25-member EU due in May. Unanimity thing was already in place I guess.

One last note: thank you Tom for not so long ago recognizing the rationale behind the EU. The EU is not there because of leftists. If Europes politicians would have the same grit as their American counterparts (well… except for this particular Vermont variety - and you know I don’t mean Bremer), there would be a EU just as well. The vehicle is good. The driver could be better.

So much for being short. Hope at least it was precise.
Another piece on the "Snow White" exhibit from Jed Babbin over at NRO.
Fantastic posting lately on Iraq the Model by Omar, Ali, and Mohammed.

If you've never given a donation on line before, let this be your first. Without people like them, democracy won't win in Iraq, if democracy doesn't win in Iraq, terror grows, if terror grows the United States is the prime target, and we all lose.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Will the madness never end?
Someone's ability to discern right from wrong is just a wee bit hosed up.

I quote:
"To applaud the US army's capture of Saddam Hussein and therefore justify its invasion and occupation of Iraq is like deifying Jack the Ripper for disembowelling the Boston Strangler."
This is a picture a friend of ours took the other day down at Mere Point in Brunswick. It is a cold weather phenomenon known as sea smoke.



Click on the image above to see a larger picture.
This story supposedly documents American National Security Agency "corruption". The only problem is that when you read the story you find that there is nothing there. Much ado about nothing.

Hat tip to Moxie loving Andrew Stuttaford over at the NRO Corner
Michael, this is exactly why I do not like John Kerry and do not want him as my next president.

"Kerry, for example, now attacks President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, under a resolution the senator supported. He laces into No Child Left Behind, an education plan the senator backed. And he vows to modify the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the senator helped enact."


Honestly, I think Clark is the worst of the lot now; he is a bald-faced liar. Dean is a flake and the things he preaches today don't square with the way he ran Vermont (quite a bit to the right of garbage he spews these days).
I thought I was the only one who felt this way about the Olympics.
Mark, you wrote:

"What is it with this "European Union" idea? I understand why European nations would want to have "free-trade" agreements with each other and other friendly arrangements. But, why did they think a single currency was a good idea? Unlike the United States, the European countries have distinct national histories, languages and cultures. You can't just wrap them up together and say "EU." Am I wrong?"


Mark, in short: after the steel and coal industries of core European states integrated, the necessity and benefits of free movement of capital, persons, services and goods was recognized. This was realized during the fifties and sixties. I'll skip the political developments, too long to elaborate here. During the seventies it was realized that in addition to the free movement of capital etc... a single currency was the natural addition to the set of measures, because of:

*elimination of the high transaction costs during valuta changings
*ending the uncertainty inherent with unstable exchange rates
*easy price comparing for citizens of EU states travelling within the EU
*a more efficient common market, thus creating additional jobs

There's even an international benefit: the euro strengthens the international monetary stability.

As a matter of fact, indeed, because of the strong national identities you can't just wrap us together and label us "EU". The whole process started with an idea of Robert Shuman in the early fifties and right now we have arrived at the point where an EU "government", the Commission/Council of Ministers and a EU "House of Representatives", the European Parliament, are consolidating their hold on a lot of events normally considered the realm of the separate states. When wil this process end? I don't know, possibly when the EU will have become something like the USA and will then be called the USE, say in 30 years or something. So it's really not "just", if it's gonna go this way the whole thing will have lasted 80 years.

Now Mark, I'm fully aware of the tremendous costs and financial abuses inherent to this process, as Tom, Scott and Kerry repeatedly regularly point out, justified even. I have never doubted that it will be, and has been, a "long, hard slog". But as a European, I'm willing to live with that. I am FOR the Union, I'm just AGAINST it being led mostly by leftists.

Consider the following situation: if leaders like Washington and Madison had not recognized at a very early stage that a Union of the then 13 states was necessary, where would you be now? What we now know as the USA would be an amalgam of some 50 republics, each with their petty policies and sensitivities, perhaps (certainly?) warring each other from time to time. Texas dollars being stronger currencies than, say, Maine dollars or even worse, Colorado dollars (heh heh). A unified and common Foreign Policy? Forget it. California, Texas, New Mexico, Florida et al want to intervene in WWI in Europe but Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri etc. don't want to... sheesh what a mess...

If you feel uneasy about a stronger EU here's some consolating viewpoint: just as we in Europe were beneficiaries from the US's Federalism (during WWI and WWII), so the US might be someday in the future, be glad to have us, your ancestors, as a powerful ally.

I believe that in 30-50 years the world might well be divided in five or six powerful blocs. China, very likely a Latino-American bloc (there's already the Mercosur like our ECCS in the 50's), India, furthermore maybe a bloc around Japan, I read Japan has aspirations to lead something like the EU, Russia and allies... and USA/USE, unlike the others with common roots and values. I said it before, I see us more like future partners than like adversaries.

Btw, CONGRATS with your blog! Will try to hop in from time to time and leave some comments. See you at the Iraqis too.
Now this is art.

I'll accept all of your apologies for disagreeing with me now.

P.S. What's up with Elvis getting the halo? Jesus looks envious.
OK, guys, I'm weighing in on the "art" debate.

There is a distinct difference in the definition of what is considered "art" by artists and by the general public. In my opinion, the general public believes that the definition falls under the eye of the beholder. Most people educated in "art history", etc. are able for the most part to say that a "Velvis" (Velvet Elvis painting) is art, just crappy art. Or that a large white canvas with one speck on it titled something like "Man" is trying to signify that artist's belief of our smallness in the realm of the universe, and would buy that it is still considered art by some, but not necessarily by that beholder. This is where the breakdown begins, and this is why we have "professionals" in the art world running the museums, though I have my questions about those "professionals" sometimes.

My own lowly credentials are only that I took private lessons for 4 years when I was 12-16, art history classes in college, and that I have been involved in organizing a multi media art show for the Cancer Center in Portland that later toured, that featured some of my father's work.

The same can be said for music. There are plenty of people that hear rap and say "that's not MUSIC." It's NOISE. It's pretty much in the eye of the beholder (or ear in that case). As far as semantics go, you can argue that art can't be defined, or music. That is essentially a "freedom of expression" therefore we can't qualify others ideas of what that is, and can't define it. In Tom's view, there has to be some talent involved, even if it is offensive, in order for it to be art. For example, if it were a really well painted canvas of a suicide bomber blowing themselves up, his first comment would still be "that's NOT art", but he would be happy to accept that it was technically art. In this case, he says things like 'a three year old can do that, it takes no special talent, I could do that and call myself an artist, which I am not." (Trust me for all of his talents, art isn't one that he has, but appreciation for it is.)

Basically, Scott, you are right, it's just arguing semantics. But I think that you are wrong on the reaction of the Israeli ambassador. I can see your point about attracting attention, but in this case I think that the attention needs to be attracted, because people are trying to convince themselves that anti semitism or the acceptance of it is not as widespread or accepted as it is. People that wouldn't have even known about that exhibit now will be aware of it, and most of the world should be horrified by it.