Tuesday, February 17, 2004

No enthusiasm

Bush runs his campaign finances exactly the opposite way he runs the country’s finances. In the former, he has all the money in the world, but doesn’t spend it unless he really has to. There has been recent low-level rumbling about his calling events that are obviously election-related non-political, so that the taxpayers get stuck with the bill. For example, he met with workers in Florida to talk about tax cuts, workers described by the NYT as “carefully selected.” Hey, if the only people allowed in are those who agree with you, that’s a political, partisan event. By definition. If you want all the taxpayers to pay for it, let them all in.

I’ve mentioned kite-flying in Pakistan before, where the idiots use metal wires. Anyway, Lahore’s annual kite festival was just held. There were 12 fatalities: 3 electrocuted when the wires hit power lines, a little girl’s throat slit by one wire, the rest fell off roofs or were hit by cars while running to retrieve kites.

The Netherlands passes a law aimed at gently encouraging 26,000 asylum-seekers, including many from Afghanistan, Somalia and Chechnya, to leave the country by herding them into “departure centers.” Says the immigration minister, “We have careful procedures in the Netherlands. This cannot be compared with Jews who were put on a train to the gas chamber.” It can. It will. It should.

On Haiti, Colin Powell: “there is frankly no enthusiasm right now for sending in military or police forces to put down the violence.” Boy, when even the Bushies have “no enthusiasm” for invading a country, you know all the joy has gone out of this administration. Evidently it didn’t pass the “Little Rummy” Test, by which all foreign policy decisions are now made: if Secretary of War Rumsfeld gets an erection just thinkin’ about it, we invade. Powell wants a “political solution,” by which he presumably means negotiations between Aristide and the death squad leaders, more and more of whom are now openly appearing on the streets of captured cities. Let me repeat: there is a coup in progress and Powell wants negotiations.

Hugo Chavez says the US is trying to overthrow him, and supported the 2002 coup attempt. No kidding. This week, the US deputy assistant Secretary of State for western hemisphere affairs, Peter DeShazo, visited Venezuela’s election authorities to tell them not to invalidate petitions for Chavez’s ouster because of “technicalities.” (A quick reminder: hanging chads, butterfly ballots. “Technicalities,” indeed!)

A Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News wire service story headlined “Dean's Campaign Hit with Another Blow after Wisconsin Loss” was accidentally posted to the web early this morning, confirming, if you needed it confirmed, that these stories are all written before the elections are held, with the numbers filled in later. The story began “Like a plummeting comet, the once-soaring Howard Dean campaign...”

To answer my own question, SF is charging $83 for the fake gay-marriage licenses. A superior court judge refused to block the issuance, citing an extraneous semicolon in the court order demanded by a conservative group. Really.

Caught! http://theonion.com/news.php?i=1&n=0

Molly Ivins: Kerry “is now undergoing the pluperfectly idiotic political experience of being called the candidate of special interests by Republicans! Oh, this is so rich, how can you not rejoice?”

A report was just released on Wal-Mart (of interest here because of the proposition on the March ballot to ban them from this county), which says that its workers are paid so little that a typical Wal-Mart with 200 employees costs taxpayers $420,750 per year in free school lunches, housing and medical subsidies, etc etc. We know that Wal-Mart hands its new employees instruction sheets on how to file for welfare benefits.

Daily Telegraph: “ A group of armed men angered over increasing activities of foreign-funded charity organisations set fire to seven girls' schools in northern Pakistan, the government said.”

Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister and richest man: “With taxes that are too high it is morally acceptable to evade them.” The left is outraged, but at least he’s not hypocritical: if the laws don’t apply to him, why should they apply to anyone?

Oops: re the story in my last about Schwarzenegger planning to cut a hole in the capitol building roof: never mind.

One of the sitting Iranian MPs banned from running for reelection is President Khatami’s brother.

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