January 25, 2007

"Weekend At Bernie's": Havana Style

What is the status of dying dictator Fidel Castro these days? It's hard to get a fix with all these conflicting reports. But you just know that if Hugo Chavez is publicly upbeat then in reality things are probably not looking good.

Chavez said he was pleased to hear from Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage that the 80-year-old Cuban leader was making a recovery. Lage, after meeting with Chavez, said: "We will have Fidel and we will have Raul for a lot more time."

Their hopeful remarks came less than a week after Chavez said Castro was "battling for his life."

It reminds me of the mid-1980's when three Soviet leaders in a row took a turn for the worse after being diagnosed with "a bad cold".

It also reminds me of this famous sketch:

How long will it be before Chavez tries to assure us the Castro is merely pining for the fjords?

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December 15, 2006

Fidel Fading Fast

So says U.S. Intelligence chief John Negroponte. It'd be ironic if he assumed room temperature in the early hours of January 1, which would be the 48th anniversary of Fulgencio Batista's fleeing the island nation from Castro's insurgency.

And, as all devout fans of the "Godfather" films will recall, it would also be the moment in the story when Al Pacino delivered his famous line:


"I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!".

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December 06, 2006

Three Cheers For Norway!

No taxes on lap dances!

Especially good news for the men of neighboring Sweden, who may be quite interested.

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November 12, 2006

Castro's Days Are Numbered

Man, I thought this day would never come.

Apparently, Fidel is terminal. The generous estimate with chemo is 18 months. Of course, his 80th birthday celebration planned for next month will probably be his last. Might as well have that extra piece of cake, dude!

Do you think he'll take advantage of Cuba's wonderful government-run healthcare system? More likely El Presidente will fly in specialists from throughout the world to treat him - paid for by his citizens, of course.

Time to start drawing up blueprints for casinos.

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November 10, 2006

The Dems' First Big Opportunity

Germany has brought a lawsuit against outgoing SecDef Donald Rumsfeld for "war crimes" at Abu Ghraib. That's a good one.

Memo to Howard Dean: You need to understand that a trial against Rumsfeld is a trial against the United States. You want to weaken the United States in the tradition of Jimmah Carter? Go ahead and offer the human sacrifice. But keep in mind that this is your big chance to ensure that you keep your majority. Tell this ungrateful "ally" in no uncertain terms to suck your balls. That is, if you can find them.

The country is watching.

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October 05, 2006

No Touching The "Little Muhammed" During Ramadan

The Supreme Leader of Iran, Sayyid Ali Khameini, warned Muslim followers that there is to be no spanking of the monkey during the feast of Ramadan.

Of course that depends on the way you interpret the meaning of the word "wanking":

Khameini, who is Iran's most powerful political and religious figure, was asked on his website : "If somebody masturbates during the month of Ramadan but without any discharge, is his fasting invalidated?"

"If he do not intend masturbation and discharging semen and nothing is discharged, his fasting is correct even though he has done a ḥarām (forbidden) act. But, if he intends masturbation or he knows that he usually discharges semen by this process and semen really comes out, it is a ḥaram intentional breaking fasting," the Iranian leader said, posting the reply on his website.

No information was given as to whether or not Khameini sent or received any IMs on the subject.

Great, as if these dudes don't have enough pent up rage...

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September 18, 2006

Socialist "Utopia" About To Make A Course Correction

The national commune that is the country of Sweden rejected twelve years of socialist rule this weekend, electing a center-right coalition to "streamline" its current welfare state.

[Coalition leader Fredrik] Reinfeldt accused the government of failing to translate the growth into more jobs and claimed the official statistics showing 5.7 percent unemployment were misleading. If you add people on sickness or disability leave or government job-training programs, the figure was higher than 20 percent, he said.
Almost 15% of the population sitting on their butts and still getting paid - off the backs of their fellow citizens?

Sounds like the Democrats' economic programs.

Nice to see some changes for the better in "old Europe". Sweden has been the poster child for advocates of a nanny state here in the U.S. Now where will they look to?

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August 11, 2006

A Little Premature

(First, an introduction: I'm Pam, guestblogging while Gary recharges over the next couple of weeks. Many thanks to Gary for asking me to join the Ex-Donkey brigade.)

Hezbollah is now declaring victory over Israel:

In the latest video aired on Al-Manar TV the terror group says it “defeated the invincible army” and “July-August 2006: Legend shattered.”

The new video clips show thousands of supporters waving Hizbullah and Lebanon flags.

These clips, which are aired between regularly-scheduled programs, include excerpts from Hassan Nasrallah speeches in which he had promised victory; similar videos were aired during the IDFÂ’s withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000.

It seems that much like the PR machines of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, the Hezbollah PR machine never stops. (Of course, Paris and Lindsay don't have Reuters and other MSM bigwigs in their pockets.) I wonder how many flag wavers in the videos are there voluntarily?

There is the fact that a cease-fire has not been declared or agreed to by anyone yet. But Hezbollah isn't in the habit of letting little inconveniences like the truth get in the way. And if Israel is smart, it won't listen to the "international community" and will continue to pound upon Hezbollah until it is as ineffectual as a bowl of pudding.

Cease-fires in the past have been nothing but a pause on the march to the inevitiable. Hezbollah wants nothing but a wiping of Israel off the map. Israel needs to stand strong. Shame on those who stand by and wave their fingers at Israel like parents tsk-tsking an errant child.

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July 17, 2006

There's Only Two Things I Hate In This World...

"...People who are intolerant of other people's cultures. And the Dutch."

- Nigel Powers, 2002

Seriously, though. Apparently, there is a political party in the Netherlands dedicated to the passage of a law that lowers the age of sexual consent from 16 to 12.

12!!!!! Ferchrissakes!!!

A judge recently overturned a ban on this "political party" which is headed up by some pervert who molested an 11-year old boy. It's called the PNVD party (an acronym for "Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity" - yech). This is really nothing more than an out-and-about version of the Super Adventure Club from South Park.

The judge's rationale was that it was up to the voters to decide the appeal of such a group. Fine, I agree in principle. But hear me now and believe me later; if this group of sickos gets more than 2% of the vote in the next Dutch election, I am taking old Nigel's declaration to heart.

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May 11, 2006

Walking On Eggshells

Now there's an organization to teach Americans how to act around the world. It's based in San Francisco, no surprise there, and provides companies with a "World Citizens Guide" to distribute to their employees who travel internationally. The goal is to counter the "Ugly American" stereotype in the face of a growing anti-Americanism in other countries. And what kind of advice does this "Guide" offer?

*** Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller. In many countries, any form of boasting is considered rude. Talking about wealth, power or status -- corporate or personal -- can create resentment.

*** Speak lower and slower. In conversation, match your voice level and tonality to the environment and other people. A loud voice is often perceived as bragging. A fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening

*** Dress up. You can always dress down. In some countries, casual dress is a sign of disrespect. Check out what is expected and when in doubt, err on the side of the more formal and less casual attire. You can remove a jacket and tie if you are overdressed. But you can't make up for being too casual.

***Listen at least as much as you talk. By all means, talk about America and your life in the country. But also ask people you're visiting about themselves and their way of life. Listen, and show your interest in how they compare their experiences to yours.

You've got to be kidding me.

The problem with Americans is not that we’re loud, rude or arrogant. The problem is that so many of us seem to suffer from some kind of ridiculous inferiority-complex. We’re a little too oversensitive to global peer pressure. What is this? High School? We have to change our behavior so we can be accepted by the “cool kids”?

No thanks. That flies in the face of what it means to be an American. In the United States, we value the uniqueness of the individual and we donÂ’t apologize for it.

This "Guide" is geared specifically for business travelers who act as representatives of their employers as well as their country. But there are a lot of Americans who travel for pleasure that would favor this approach.

Well, I have some better advice for Americans who travel outside of the U.S. (and it applies to foreign travelers who come here as well):

1) If you are a guest in someoneÂ’s country, be as respectful to the host as you would if you were a guest in someoneÂ’s home.

2) Be yourself. ItÂ’s idiotic to try and act like somebody that youÂ’re not to meet someone elseÂ’s standards. If someone doesnÂ’t like you as you are, thatÂ’s his problem. And some people won't like you no matter how you act. You just can't win with them.

3) DonÂ’t take any crap. If someone doesnÂ’t like your country it doesnÂ’t give him the right to insult you and you donÂ’t have to accept it. DonÂ’t fight about it. Simply express your disappointment that they feel that way and remove yourself from the situation. Just walk away.

4) DonÂ’t apologize for your country, even if you personally disagree with some of its policies. The fact that you have the right to openly disagree with your government is what makes the United States such a great nation.

5) Avoid visiting countries with cultures that are openly hostile to yours. WhatÂ’s the point?

Stick with these basic guidelines and you should be fine.

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March 13, 2006

Reflections On Kosovo

WSJ's OpinionJournal makes an excellent point this morning in the wake of the death of Slobodan Milosevic:

Today the new post-Milosevic arrangements in the Balkans are imperfect, sectarian tensions are raw and democracy is fragile. Western troops are still needed on the ground in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. But no one seriously questions whether outside intervention was the right thing to do. The tragedy of the Balkans is that it took so long for the West to generate the nerve to stop the man who died on the weekend as a largely forgotten war criminal.
Bush critics love to assert that Saddam Hussein wasn't a direct threat to the United States. As if Milosevic was. These same asshats don't run around saying "Clinton Lied!", do they? But then, politically, there's no reason for them to.

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February 09, 2006

Is Germany Back On Board?

The United States doesn't ask a whole heck of a lot from its allies. Just a little support now and again. And if that's too hard, please go about your business and stop busting our balls. Not since Chancellor Helmut Kohl has a reunited Germany (you're welcome) been a real partner to America. With the Soviet threat gone and a perception that they didn't need us anymore, the government under Gerhard Schroder embraced socialism and assumed an anti-American stance (and became a charter member of the Axis of Weasels).

So it was a nice surprise that the people of Germany recently elected Angela Merkel as their new Chancellor. Merkel served in Kohl's fourth and fifth cabinets and was the opposition leader during Schroder's term. Considering the narrow election results and the make-up of the current coalition government, I haven't expected too much in the way of change. But as Tod Lindberg writes in the Washington Times, Merkel made a distinct impression at a recent gathering of NATO defense ministers in Munich.

Although she has a lot of work to do on domestic policy in order to revive the underperforming German economy, and although that might well take a toll on her now sky-high approval ratings, on foreign affairs she has already shown herself to be a voice of moral seriousness and balanced judgment. Perhaps that had something to do with coming of age in the police state of Erich Honecker's East Germany.

Consider, for example, Mrs. Merkel's pointed response to recent statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (my notes and translation from the German text): "I must add that the absolutely unacceptable provocations of the Iranian president demand a reply from us. I say this especially as the chancellor of Germany: A president who has questioned the right of Israel to exist and disavowed the existence of the Holocaust cannot expect Germany to show the least tolerance in these questions. We have learned from our history." She said unequivocally, "we must prevent the development of Iranian nuclear weapons." When the Iranian deputy foreign minister took the floor during the question period to defend Iran's nuclear programs, Mrs. Merkel pointedly noted in reply that he had made no response to her on the Holocaust or Israel.

A year ago at the Munich conference, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (in a speech he didn't bother to show up to deliver but rather had read out by his defense minister) stated that NATO "is no longer the primary venue where trans-Atlantic partners discuss and coordinate strategies." Although U.S. diplomats subsequently decided to read a sense of regret into Mr. Schroeder's comments, there was none. They came on the heels of his remark about the "different light" in which the United States and Germany view their role in the world, with Mr. Schroeder's Germany in favor of "international stability and order."

Mrs. Merkel, by pointed contrast, noted specifically: "We must make a decision: Will we give NATO the primary role in trans-Atlantic cooperation, the first attempt we make to undertake necessary political consultations and decide on necessary measures... or do we want to give NATO a secondary role?" She endorsed the primary role in no uncertain terms and spoke of the need for a "permanent shared analysis of threats." U.S. diplomats think her strong position will empower other, smaller alliance members to speak up with similar views they were reluctant to voice while Mr. Schroeder and his friends seemed to be trying to get up the nerve to turn their backs once and for all on American participation in European security.

If you're going to have a successful partnership, it's critical that when you reach out they reach back. And it's refreshing when they finally do. Party on, Angie!


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January 25, 2006

Run Away, Run Away...

A day after Canadian border guards ran from a shoot-out involving two escaped murder suspects from California, one Tory MP has vowed to arm them in the near future. Can't really blame the poor guys for bolting when they had nothing to aim at the suspects besides their index fingers.

The MP, Vic Toews, further commented about Canada's unarmed border guards, "I think it does nothing for our national image."

Never mind your image, how about the safety of your citizens? Hello?

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January 24, 2006

Canada's Multi-Party System

I was reading through the returns of Canada's Parliamentary election last night. I didn't realize just how many political parties they have. Of course, most of them didn't win a single seat but they must each have enough support to get on the ballot. Not surprisingly, they have a Green party, a Libertarian party and an Independent party. So does the U.S.

But they also have Communists, Marxist-Leninists, a PC party (is that for "politically correct"?) and even a Marijuana party. Now you'd think these particular groups would pool their resources and band together, being as they have so much in common. That's what they've done here in the States.

They call themselves Democrats.

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January 23, 2006

Canadian Elections Today

There is a detectable giddiness among Conservative Canadian bloggers today as they head to the polls to strip the Grits from power. And I'll second Ottawa Core's compliment of the uber-saucy North American Patriot! Good luck, folks!

Could an actual Tory majority be in the works? It's a long shot, but I'd love to see that if for no other reason than to see Michael Moore cry.

Tune in to Captain's Quarters for live returns.

Projections indicate a minority Tory government. BQ has made some gains as well. Conservatives didn't fair as well as expected in the Eastern Maritime provinces but a minority win is what was predicted by most. Post-mortems should follow tomorrow.

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January 13, 2006

Hoo-Boy! It Just Keeps Getting Worse

For Canada's Liberal party, that is. Now the NDP, a smaller Left-leaning party that tends to siphon off votes from the Liberals, is filing a complaint that one of their candidates was offered a bribe by the Liberal candidate to drop out of the race.

The Liberals are already reeling from corruption scandals and this might be the things that drives voters to put the Tories in the majority on January 23rd. Recent polls show the Conservative party with a solid 12 point lead. The Tories are expected to easily win a plurality a week from Monday but they are within striking distance of an actual majority.

Of course, I'll believe that when I see it. But every day that passes seems to bring more bad news for the Liberals.

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January 06, 2006

Canadian Tories Gaining Ground In Latest Polls

With the excruciatingly steady drip of stories linking Canada's Liberal Party with scandal after scandal, the Conservative Party for the first time is polling ahead as the country heads closer to Parliamentary elections later this month.

Captain Ed highlights the latest investigation into the Liberal party focusing on abuse of government funds for personal purposes. Now Canada is by and large a Left-leaning culture, with a serious addiction to the nanny-State. But it looks like a plurality of voters are getting fed up enough with the corruption to give the Tories an opportunity to form a minority government in the next Parliament.

What does this mean for the U.S.? Nothing really. We might be on the receiving end of less hostility and criticism over the war in Iraq. But the idea that Canada will become a more cooperative ally in the Global War On Terror just because the Conservative Party is kinda-sorta in charge of the government is unrealistic.

It'll be interesting, however, to see if the Canadian Left becomes as unhinged as the American Left when they're no longer in power.

UPDATE: Bloggers having an affect on the campaigning:

From the wackiest edges of the left and right, and every political shade in between, it's difficult to estimate the number of Canadian political blogs in existence. But when you Google the three words blogs, politics and Canada, more than six million entries come up.

Bloggers range from profane idiots to bright and incisive thinkers whose research skills, analysis and intellect leave many in journalism and academia looking pretty frail by comparison.

Heh. Guess you can put me closer to the "profane idiot" end of that spectrum. But Captain's Quarters, which has been covering these scandals and the subsequent call for new elections like white on rice, deservedly belongs at the other end with the "research skills, analysis and intellect" contingency.

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November 30, 2005

France To Launch Satellite News Channel

In an effort to compete with the dominant BBC and CNN channels, the French government has announced that it will launch it's own 24-hr news network, en francaise.

Executive marketing decision #1 should be:

Melissa Theuriau Blue.JPG

Hire THIS woman, Melissa Theuriau, and CNN will end up closing their Paris bureau.

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November 09, 2005

"I Fart In Your General Direction!"

French Guard.jpg
"You're mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries!"

Glenn Greewald reminds us of all the French taunting that the U.S. received in the aftermath of Katrina. Including such gems as:

"This tragic incident reminds us that the United States has refused to ratify the Kyoto accords. Let's hope the US can from now on stop ignoring the rest of the world. If you want to run things, you must first lead by example. Arrogance is never a good adviser!"
- Jean-Pierre Aussant in France's Le Figaro
And who knows more about arrogance than the French?

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Liberty, Fraternity, Equality...Yeah, Right

A lot of attention is being focused on the conditions in France that have led to this mess that theyÂ’re currently trying to get under control. And certainly those conditions, which have been glossed over in the past, have helped create the powder keg thatÂ’s not only exploding in the socialist utopia of France but is now spreading to her European neighbors.

First there is the economic problem. Dick Morris writes today in the NY Post about a French society designed to provide a high-quality (and high cost) of life for the traditional white French citizens. A major negative consequence, however, is that there is no chance for upward-mobility within this cushy system that creates few jobs and grows anemically at best. And those most affected are its immigrants. more...

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