Bits and Pieces

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Waiting to Exhale

I'm holding my breath. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I haven't watched any news all day because I'm certain the next report will be about a new terrorist attack. That's how fucked up we are as a people. I can't vouch for the rest of us, but I've spent so much of the last few years waiting for the other shoe to drop that I'm running out of footwear.

I shouldn't be so worried. An attack this close to election would lock it for Bush. A second attack on US soil would sent millions of angry Americans flooding to the polls to vote for a man who has proved that he's willing to rain fire on foreign soil in retaliation, rather than a man who routinely votes against defence spending and has a 'plan'. Bush's words are like jet fuel for terrorists. Even the most unhinged of them must see his value as a recruiting tool.

On a related subject, Kevin ponders the idea that Kerry, if elected, could out-Carter Carter.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Left Wing Explodes, Calls Foul

Did you hear that?

That was the sound made by a blogger's brain at the exact moment it cracks and lets out a big flood of crazy. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we've reached the point at which the 'They're trying to steal the election!!!!' crowd passes beyond the limits of rational thought.

Apparently this flyer is being distributed in black neighbourhoods in Milwaukee to dissuade first time black voters. It's being trumpeted by Talk Left, Kos, ISOU, Oliver Willis and Pandagon as the latest attempt by the right to intimidate voters.

I have to finish writing this pretty quick as I just got another email from that nice African guy who needs to use my bank account to get his money out of his country.

Seriously, does this look like the work of a nefarious right wing organisation attempting to intimidate voters? No. Does it look like a badly spelled, terribly punctuated flyer knocked up by a couple of kids? Probably.

David A at ISOU has this to say:
'The fact that this is a fucking joke to some people shows me just how much
they really care about this issue, and their sensitivity to the rights of
minorities which may be being stomped on right now.'

But David, this is a joke. Not only is it a joke, but it's a ridiculously obvious joke. It's written in such a way that it's almost unbelievable that any sane person, even one who has spent the last 4 years convincing themselves over and over that the right wing is nothing but an evil machine hell-bent on destruction, baby killing and using the Constitution as toilet paper while laughing maniacally and firing weapons at cute animals, could not... get... the joke.

If anyone in your family has ever been found guiulty of anything you
can't vote in the presidential election.


Item 1 - It doesn't specify whether they mean immediate family or extended family.

Item 2 - It doesn't specify what 'anything' means. Are they talking about a criminal conviction, or that time your mother found those, er, specialist magazines in your room.

Item 3 (and this is the big one) - They spelled 'guilty' wrong, for crying out loud! Who does that?

Let's all settle down people. Voters might be being intimidated from all sides as we speak, by people who move in shadow and hold vast power behind the scenes. But not by this.

It's a relief that there are some who still have the full use of their faculties in these final few days. Say Anything and Protein Wisdom seem to be making sense.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Call Me Cletus

I finally resigned my job today. About time, too. I started over a year ago with the intention of staying a few weeks. Now I'm faced with the challenge of finding a new job to pay those pesky bills (I came home to 2 phone messages from my various debtors, so they'll be no chance to take a break from work). Anyone need the services of a 23-year old with a BSc in Geography, A levels in Law, Biology and Geography, a clutch of GCSEs and a bad attitude?

Don't all rush at once.

Quick Roundup

No blogging yesterday (I chose instead to play snooker, drink and scratch inappropriately). Meanwhile, news happened. Here's a quick roundup.

Rusty reports that a Polish woman is being held hostage in Iraq. Also blogging: James Joyner, Backcountry Conservative, In The Bullpen and Ramblings' Journal.

Video has been released of the murder of 11 Iraqi National Gurdsmen by the Army of Ansar al-Islam. As usual, Rusty has the details.

Everyone goes crazy about the missing explosives at al Qaqaa. Here, here, here and, on a lighter note, here.

Iowahawk suggests a few uses for a dead Arafat.

David at ISOU thinks we might know where bin Laden is, and suggests that we should vote against Bush because of it. Not quite sure why, though.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Just When You Think Life Sucks, it Just Goes and Sucks Ten Times Harder (or 'Fucking Hell, When Will I Stop Getting Shit On From a Great Height?')

I had the worst day at work in memory yesterday. I had a disciplinary scheduled for after lunch which was bad enough, but the worst was yet to come. I work with this young lady (I believe I mentioned her way back when we first met) who is beautiful, funny, and smart. The girl likes Playstation, for Christ's sake. In short, she's near perfect. I've been besotted with her since the day we met. The problem was that she was in a 9-year relationship, and I'm not one to try to break something like that up, so I didn't made a move in 7 months. She's the only thing that kept me at my awful job this long. I've turned down higher paid work because I didn't want to leave her. She often complained about how stale her relationship was, so I was just biding my time. Too much biding, it turned out.

Just before I was called into the disciplinary hearing she told me she was seeing someone from the office. Remember that episode of the Simpsons where Bart falls for his new next door neighbour, and then gets his heart torn out in the treehouse when she tells him she has a boyfriend? I felt like that poor fool. I sloped into my hearing and just stared at the ground for five minutes as they ran through the charges and asked for an explanation, an explanation I didn't care enough to give, and then sat in the Reception as they decided my fate. I got a written warning, but by this point I'd already decided to hand in my notice. Fuck 'em.

The moral of the story is take your chances while you can cause if you don't some unscrupulous fuckhead won't mind taking them for you. Nice guys finish last.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Are You Kidding Me?

Oliver Willis, by all accounts an intelligent young man, blows his reputation with a really stupid post, suggesting that the election boils down to nothing more than 'for torture or against it'. How can anyone with even a small complement of brains believe this? Does he really believe that Bush, on reelection, would celebrate his win with a bout of nipple clamping? Please.

I can't argue with the post above, however.

Everyone Drank the Kool-Aid

Kevin McGehee worries about rumblings from the Left about voter fraud. However, it isn't just the Left starting the pre-emptive attacks. Spoons points us to an example of a ballot from Cleveland, Ohio that seems to favour Kerry.

Forgive me if I'm being unusually dense here, but what, exactly, is the problem with using ballots that go like this:

You want John Kerry? Tick here ------->

You want George Bush? Tick here ------->

Well done. Now go get a beer.


If you do only one thing today (and, this being Sunday, that's quite likely), read Bill Quick's post entitled Desperation at Dailypundit.

What are you still doing here? I ain't bakin' cookies.

Vote Bush

It's 6am, and soon time for sleep. Before I leave, I think it's high time for a little talk of the election.

Now the prevailing opinion among Americans is that the opinion of foreigners is a little less than worthless. In the case of the ridiculous Guardian campaign to convert undecided voters in Ohio I'm all for that concept, but I still feel its my right to insert my two cents.

The reason for this is that the leader of the US has a huge effect on the rest of the world, and my little part of it in particular. The outcome of this election will be a factor in the next general election here in the UK. A strong win for Bush will, in a way, validate Tony Blair's support of the war in Iraq. Combined with the result of the recent Australian election, he would be leading into the next election in a very strong position. Conversely, a Kerry win would be taken by Blair's detractors as a strong statement that the war was unsuccesful. The reality isn't important. All that counts is perception.

I have my own reason for supporting Bush this time around. It's nothing to do with Bush's form during his tenure (if I based my choice on his track record I probably wouldn't support him), but rather my belief that John Kerry wouldn't do any better.

One of the most important attributes of a leader is decisiveness. The willingness to take a position and stick with it is essential. The position itself is secondary. Hitler took some pretty damned evil positions, but at least he was decisive, and that led to him coming damned close to domination of the world. Whatever you say about Bush, you have to concede that the guy is decisive in a way that Kerry isn't. 8 days from the election and I still can't figure out what Kerry stands for. Would he have entered Iraq? Will he withdraw US troops? Who knows?

And that's what worries me. The man with his finger on the button can't afford to worry about nuance. He can't afford to take a day out to worry about the nuances of a situation. He has to act. Bush will do this. In fact, we've seen him do it time and again, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ignoring the UN. Much of the time his actions have turned out to be misguided, knee-jerk or just plain wrong, but at least he took action. Kerry may take action. He may suddenly become the hard-chargin' terrorist killin' 'merica lovin' guy the Democrats need. Sure, he might do it, but can we afford to give him 4 years to test the theory? In politics, and in war, 4 years is a long time. Perhaps too long. We can't sit around and wait for the day Kerry grows a pair.

So - vote Bush, and things probably won't get worse than they are. Not the best campaign slogan, I'll be the first to admit, but it works for me.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

If you love me, you'll buy a movie and earn me commission.

If you hate me... look, if I'd known she was your Grandma I wouldn't have slept with her.

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry

I took a lot of stick in the pub tonight from a friend because I added a Blogs For Bush button to the site. I don't really support Bush, honestly. I'm just scared of making Kevin McGehee angry.

New Beheading Video

From AP:

Iraqi militants beheaded a man, presumably Iraqi, who said he worked for the US military in the northern city of Mosul for the past 10 months, a videotape posted on Islamic web sites showed.
The killing was claimed by the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, a group that has taken responsibility for the beheading of a Turkish driver and Arab Shi'ite Muslim in two tapes that surfaced earlier this month and 12 Nepalese construction workers, whose killing was shown in a video posted on August 31.

In the latest tape, a man wearing what appeared to be a US-military issue brown T-shirt and speaking in Arabic described himself as Seif Adnan Kanaan, adding that he worked as a vehicle mechanic and drinks deliverer for US forces based at Mosul airport.

The tape showed him with his hands tied behind his back seated in front of three armed, masked militants and a black banner with white Arabic script bearing the militant group's name.

The tape did not specify the man's nationality, but he appeared to be Iraqi. It was also not clear when he was captured or killed.

One militant described Kanaan as a "crusader spy recruited by the American troops to follow and carry information about the mujahedeen in Mosul." The militant also accused the captive of cursing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

"I am telling anybody who wants to work with Americans to not work with them," Kanaan said shortly before being killed. "I found out that the mujahideen have very accurate information (and) strong intelligence about everything. They are stronger than I thought."
The tape then shows a militant slitting the victim's throat before severing his head and placing it on his back.

In their campaign to force US-led forces out of Iraq, insurgents have targeted people, including Arabs, they regard as supporting the American military.

Rusty Shackleford has more on the story and links to the video.

Update - now blogging:-

Ramblings' Journal
In The Bullpen
Our Life
Backcountry Conservative

Evil, Thy Name is George

I'm sure most of you have worked for a boss you don't get along with. My guy is named George. When I started my current job he was my immediate superior. He soon got promoted to floor manager, and I transferred to Wall Street Journal. All went well enough for about a year. Our paths didn't often cross and there were no fireworks.

But then he told me I had to work Saturdays. I refused (5 days a week is bad enough), and it was downhill from there. Since then we've argued at least once a week. he's taken every opportunity to keep me behind after hours and strip me of my commission.

Last week George took me aside and told me he didn't want me working for Wall Street Journal anymore, despite exceeding targets every month since I started. I'm understandably pissed off by this. I've worked on the Wall Street campaign for the last 7 months, and I put everything I have into it. I'm damned good at my job.

I've now been transferred to a pointless position in the company, into the kind of job they give to school leavers and temps with no experience or intelligence. I've had to go through two days of being trained to do a job I could do in my sleep. While drunk. And dead.

I had been told by my old manager that I was free to remain working for Wall Street Journal if I wished, but that I would be a marked man as far as George was concerned, and would be eventually fired, so I moved to the shitty position to protect my job.

But it wasn't enough. Yesterday I was handed a letter informing me of a disciplinary hearing about my conduct. It's a petty charge meant to stick the boot in as far as it will go, and it sucks. Anyway, I'm sitting here reading about the employment law relating to harrassment at work, and then I'm going to the pub to get drunk. Have a good night, all.

Quick Links

John Hawkins scores an interview with the slim, attractive Michael Moore of the right wing, Ann Coulter.

Michele wonders if the Guardian really did just call for the assassination of the President. Also posted at the Command Post.

Kate with a review of Stolen Honour, and Dean tells us where we can see it free.

The ITV has the (surprisingly difficult) Great British spelling test available online. I scored 43/50, making me officially a smartass (finally got my professional status). Take the test, but remember that UK-US spellings can differ.

Buck the Marine talks about women in combat.

New Video of Margaret Hassan Released

Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped director of CARE International in Iraq, wept and pleaded for Britain to act to save her life in a video aired Friday. "Please help me. This might be my last hours," the gaunt Hassan begged, shaking with fear and burying her face in a tissue.
The wrenching appeal by Hassan puts new political pressure on Prime Minister Tony Blair's government after it agreed to a U.S. request to redeploy troops to the Baghdad region to free up American forces for a new assault on insurgents.

Hassan, an Irish-British-Iraqi citizen who has been doing humanitarian work in Iraq for 30 years, pleaded with Britons to persuade Blair not to carry out the redeployment and warned she might meet the same fate as British hostage Kenneth Bigley, who was beheaded by his captors.

Forgetting for a moment the unpleasantness of this whole situation, you have to admire the strategy. I've been reading a lot of comments on other blogs along the lines of 'Even terrorist sympathisers will turn their backs if these guys kill an old woman'. Surprise, surprise, these guys aren't trying to gain friends.

The strategy is simple. Make military issues personal. Ken Bigley was taken by al-Zarqawi in an attempt to force us to release prisoners. Without Bigley the threat would be 'release our prisoners or we will kill people.' With him, it was 'release our people or we will kill this man. Look at him. He has a family. A wife. We will take these knives and show you his severed head.'. A much more powerful threat, I'm sure you'll agree. People tend not to listen to the threat of death on a general basis, but to look in the eyes of the man they intend to kill... No point in going on- you saw the impact it had.

The Bigley threat didn't work, but the terrorists saw the public uproar and liked it. They enjoyed the pressure it brought on Tony Blair, and they saw a weakness. The strategy didn't work with an male engineeer who was working for profit, so now they'll try a woman working for charity, a woman who has devoted her life to good works.

It won't work. No matter how much shit he takes for it, Blair can't allow military decisions to be made by the public. Have you met the British public? I live with them, and I'd barely trust them to brush their teeth in the morning. The downside to this is that people like al-Zarqawi will continue to take our people, and we will over and again be subjected to the videos of their deaths, before he learns that the strategy is flawed. Before this ends we'll see the deaths of many more women, and maybe even children. Propaganda is a powerful tool, and they'll push this as hard as they can, testing us to breaking point. It's gonna get a lot worse before it gets better.

Also blogging: Rusty Shackleford, Rambling's Journal, Diggers Realm, ISOU, Slant Point, and Body and Soul.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I'm Gonna Wait 'Til it Comes Out on Video

Sorry to use so crude a title, but at this point the period between the kidnapping and the release of the beheading video is just a formality.

For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, Margaret Hassan, the director of CARE International's Iraq operation has been taken hostage. British-born Hassan was abducted at 7:30 this morning. Hassan has been helping the people of Iraq for 25 years.

The most galling thing about this is that Hassan has devoted her adult life to Iraq. That's not to say that the lives of the abductees working for profit were worth less, but it's just such a shame when such a generous woman falls victim to these murderous thugs.

Guess we'll just wait to hear about her death. How much more frustration can we take?

Also commenting: Diggers Realm, Rusty Shackleford, In The Bullpen, Backcountry Conservative, The Command Post and Slant Point.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Kerry's Campaign Scuppered?

Via Backcountry Conservative:

"A consultant to the Vatican has said Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has incurred the penalty of excommunication from the Catholic Church.

The consultant made his statement in a highly unusual letter to Marc Balestrieri, a Los Angeles canon lawyer who formally sued John Kerry in ecclesiastical court for heresy.

Balestrieri, who launched his case earlier this year by filing a heresy complaint in Kerry's home archdiocese of Boston, told EWTN's "World Over" program on Friday that he had received an unusual, indirect communication from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the pro-abortion stance.

That communication provides a basis, he said, to declare that any Catholic politician who says he is "personally opposed to abortion, but supports a woman's right to choose," incurs automatic excommunication. ..."

I have no idea how much US Catholics let the Vatican affect their politics, but considering that Catholics number around 50 million in the US (according to this), even if this caused only a small percentage of those to change their vote it could scupper Kerry's campaign.

Anyone know how big the Catholic populations are in the battleground states?

The Awesome Power of the Slightly Disgruntled

Sinclair Broadcast Group stock closes down 7.81%.

(Hat tip: Atrios)

Grisly Video of Two More Men Beheaded in Iraq!

Courtesy of Rusty Shackleford...

A militant group in Iraq said it had killed two Macedonian hostages it accused of spying for the United States, Arabic television Al Jazeera reported Monday.

Al Jazeera said it had received a video tape showing the killing of the two men accompanied by a statement from the Islamic Army in Iraq stating it had seized the men a few days ago as they were leaving a U.S. base.

But Macedonian television, which aired footage of the men's passports also broadcast by Al Jazeera, said the hostages were among a group of three men kidnapped in August.

The passports identified the men as Dalibor Lazarevski and Zoran Naskovski from the impoverished northern city of Kumanovo, who had signed up for jobs as construction workers in Iraq.

Al Jazeera did not show the killing nor did it name the men. The fate of the third hostage, Dragan Markovic, was not immediately clear.

Hands up who wants to work in Iraq. Form an orderly queue, please.

Also reported at In The Bullpen.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Weird Bell Curve

Joe at Dean's World gives a big 'WTF?' to Nick Nolte's blog. Pah! That's nothing. If you want real weirdness you should try reading the thoughts of Barbra Streisand, Rip Taylor and David Hasselhoff. Compared to those freaks Nolte is just Diet Weird.

New York Times Endorses Kerry

I'm shocked. SHOCKED! Who could have expected that the New York Times would back Kerry?

Michele notes that of 23 paragraphs in the piece, only 3 focus on why Kerry is good, the other 20 read like an anti-Bush manifesto.

Kevin at Wizbang points out that while most of their reasons for the endorsement boil down to 'because he's not Bush', the few pro-Kerry reasons don't really amount to much.

Even confirmed left-wingers like Atrios complain that the article looks, and I quote, as if it were written in crayon.

Meanwhile, Blogs For Bush finds the whole thing a bit laughable. They say if a member of the Bush administration found a cure for cancer the NYT headline would be 'Bush Administration Actions Threaten Cancer Researchers Employment'

Chris Short over at Our Life has a question we should be asking the Times.

Meanwhile, the UN claims that Kerry caused the death of 50 Haitians. Seems like a very tenuous link to me, but who am I to doubt the UN?

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Musician Makes Ass out of Self

Via Vodkapundit: 9/11 was a great day for the black community.

If Osama bin Laden ever buys a rap album, he'll probably start with a CD by KRS-One.

The hip-hop anarchist has declared his solidarity with al-Qaida by asserting that he and other African-Americans "cheered when 9-11 happened," reports the New York Daily News.

I didn't hear too many African-Americans cheering on 9/11. Was I not listening hard enough?

"I say that proudly," the Boogie Down Productions founder went on, insisting that, before the attack, security guards kept Blacks out of the World Trade Center "because of the way we talk and dress.

"So when the planes hit the building, we were like, 'Mmmm - justice.' "

The atrocity of 9-11 "doesn't affect us the hip-hop community," he said. "9-11 happened to them, not us," he added, explaining that by "them" he meant "the rich ... those who are oppressing us. RCA or BMG, Universal, the radio stations."

OK, here's the deal from now on. We'll let you in any building you wish to enter, regardless of how you talk and dress. However, you can't use our roads - they're for us, not you. You can't eat our food. You don't like it, you can grow your own. Here's 40 acres and a mule to start you on your way. Just be careful not to injure yourself, cause you sure as hell ain't using our hospitals, you disrespectful fuck.

Gerard Baptiste,Vernon Cherry, Tarel Coleman and Andre R. Fletcher are just 4 of the African-American firefighters who rushed into the towers to help rescue the thousands who escaped. They weren't so lucky, but if they were here today I'm sure they'd happily take 5 minutes out of their day to kick your ass.

One commenter got it in one - 'Note to self... do not buy KRS-ONE CDs....'



You have to read this. Spoons has a choice selection of quotes taken from the comments page on Kevin Drum's blog at The Washington Monthly. It just goes to show that even a fairly sensible blog can be colonised by the strangest people.

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

I was gonna write about this last night, but I got myself lost while reading the Uniform Military Code and forgot all about it. Come on, how often can you say that you were so engrossed in the rule book that you forgot to play the game?

A 17-member Army Reserve platoon with troops from Jackson and around the Southeast deployed to Iraq is under arrest for refusing a "suicide mission" to deliver fuel, the troops' relatives said Thursday.

The soldiers refused an order on Wednesday to go to Taji, Iraq — north of Baghdad — because their vehicles were considered "deadlined" or extremely unsafe, said Patricia McCook of Jackson, wife of Sgt. Larry O. McCook.

Sgt. McCook, a deputy at the Hinds County Detention Center, and the 16 other members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company from Rock Hill, S.C., were read their rights and moved from the military barracks into tents, Patricia McCook said her husband told her during a panicked phone call about 5 a.m. Thursday.

This is the main reason I stopped my Navy application. I have a huge problem with authority, and always think I know better. The problem with the military is that, on the occasions that you're right, they'd throw you in jail for pointing it out.

Apparently some of the vehicles these guys were expected to use couldn't top 40mph, and they were to be without their usual escort of helicopters and Humvees. Sounds dangerous to me.

What tickles me about the story is the reaction it's getting at Democratic Underground (those guys are a laugh a minute). Michele at A Small Victory has a round-up of the funniest.

Ohmigod! Now even our military hates America! posted by 'gratuitous'.


Who Cares?

You know what? Until a few days ago I had no idea that Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbian. It's not the sort of information that finds it's way over to this side of the pond. In fact, I had no idea he had a daughter. Didn't really care, either. None of my damned business, the way I see it.

Is she hot? Nah, probably not. The idea of lesbians is often much more appealing than the reality. You very rarely see a really good looking lesbian. Except in porn, of course, but those people'd do anything. Anyway, sorry to wander off track for a minute. Thinking about lesbians often does that to me. I hope you haven't lost too much respect for me.

Aaaanyway... Mary Cheney. I just don't understand all this drama. Tell me if I'm getting this wrong, but I understand that it was common knowledge that she's gay, so it isn't exactly shock news. Indeed, I hear that Cheney himself has mentioned it himself in a professional capacity in the past, so Cheney can't claim that it's a taboo subject. And if you actually listen to the comment it sounds a lot like it wasn't even a barbed comment. He just used Mary Cheney as an example.

And so, it comes down to the fact that we're coming close to the last fortnight and the mud-slinging has reached the point at which any comment on any subject made by absolutely anyone vaguely connected to either party is met by shock! and disgust! and oh my GOD, I can't believe that he/she could say that! It just goes to show how little the members of the Republican/Democratic party care about what matters to middle America. I bet they're going to club some seals later while stealing oil and outsourcing your job. Vote for me, by the way.

Hopefully this story'll be consigned to the archives of most blogs in a couple of days, never to be seen again. In the meantime if you're interested you can read more here, here, here and here.

Friday, October 15, 2004

What I Want to Hear

Being a Brit I won't be voting come November, but if I was I would be edging cautiously towards Bush. However, I wouldn't yet be certain. I don't like the way the Republicans have run their campaign so negatively (though the Dems have been just as bad). I hate negative campaigning, and month after month of AWOL claims countered by flip-flopping accusations have tired me out.

If I was to vote for Bush, there are a few words I would like to hear first. I'd like to see him sit down in front of a camera a few days before America goes to the polls and say something like this:-

'My fellow Americans, I come to you today to discuss a very important matter. I'd like to speak to you about the future of America, the future of the earth and every man, woman and child living in it. About our children, and their children.

Today I will lay out my vision for the future - a vision of a safer world; a world in which no American need fear the spectre of terrorism.

Four years ago the good people of the United States of America elected me as their Commander-in-Chief. Since then we have been through some rough times. We were attacked at our heart, an attack none of us really expected, and from which we have not yet recovered. We were forced into a position in which we had to send our fighting men and women abroad in order to protect us.

Since 9/11 we have liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, and we have liberated Iraq from Saddam. Freedom has won out in these nations against the crushing dictatorships that once ruled.

Our job is over in Afghanistan, and almost over in Iraq. When re-elected I will at the earliest opportunity withdraw all military personnel from these nations. We have fought the battles, and now is the time to secure the peace. From here on in this will be the job of the elected leaders of these nations. We are not in the business of empire building. God willing, these burgeoning democracies will stand the test of time. True freedom cannot exist with the military presence of a foreign power.

However, the war is not over. Despite our successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, we cannot and will not rest until Osama bin Laden is held accountable for his crimes against humanity. The focus of this War on Terror must now be returned fully to the hunt. Dead or alive, bin Laden will no longer be free by the end of my Presidency. This I promise.

Meanwhile, we will increase our efforts tenfold to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We cannot be truly secure while reliant on unstable nations. We must move forward and develop the energy sources required to carry us through the 21st century. We must move away from polluting fossil fuels and towards sources of clean, renewable energy. We will do this for the sake of both ourselves and for our children, our grandchildren and all those whose lot is to inherit our legacy of waste and pollution.

In securing our future we must not forget our present here at home. We must continue to build on our momentum with the economy. We must ensure that unemployment continues to fall. We must ensure that every citizen has access to affordable healthcare, and that every child receives a good education. We will achieve this not through higher taxes and bigger government, but by ensuring that every American can earn enough to provide for their family; by stimulating the growth of industry; by encouraging innovation and enterprise.

I am convinced that I am the best man for the job. John Kerry is a good man, and a good American. However, I do not believe that he has the resolve to win the War on Terror. To lose this war would be to threaten this great nation, and that is a risk I am not willing to take.

God bless all those who strive for freedom, and God bless America.'

The Wrath of Tibbles

It's Friday, so you can have this piece of information for free.

In the late 1800's, on a small atoll named Stephen's Island, New Zealand, lived a lighthouse keeper and his cat 'Tibbles'. The cat often brought to the lighthouse the bodies of unfortunate flightless birds that had been too slow to escape the claws. The lighthouse keeper, a keen naturalist, sent some specimens of the birds to various museums, where they were identified as a newly discovered species, the Stephen's Island flightless wren.

The lighthouse keeper was understandably delighted at the news. However, it appeared that in the time it took for the museums to identify the birds, Tibbles had managed to hunt down and eradicate every one of them.

The Stephen's Island flightless wren remains the only species in history to have been made extinct by a single animal. It could also be argued that loveable Tibbles is the single most evil creature to ever have walked the face of the earth.

I knew there was a reason I don't trust cats.

Fahrenheit 9/11

Dean is annoyed at those who are demanding that the anti-Kerry documentary, Stolen Honour, not be aired by the Sinclair Broadcast Group the night before the election.

I haven't so much as an ounce of sympathy for the people protesting the airing of this documentary. Especially because every person I've seen object to it so far has utterly failed to condemn Fahrenheit 9/11.

I finally saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last week, a pirate copy my brother brought back from India (not a penny goes in Moore's pocket). Now I would have absolutely no problem if the Sinclair Group came to an arrangement with the whiners and showed Fahrenheit alongside Stolen Honour, the reason being that it is bloody awful and should be shown to criminals as a punishment for petty theft and public urination.

I fell asleep around the half-hour mark, and watched the last half-hour in a kind of so what? daze. It was pure dross, and this is coming from someone who used to be a big fan, owns all of his books and watched TV Nation religiously. It's 100% unadulterated bollocks. I don't know what the hype was all about when it came out at the cinema. I could make a better documentary with my ass.

Another Man Beheaded in Iraq

In what is becoming an almost daily occurrence, another man has been beheaded in Iraq. Video has been released of the murder of Turkish truck driver Ramadan Elbu. At least one of those responsible claims to be a member of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad terrorist organization.

Also reported by Jeff Quinton, Digger, The Command Post and James Joyner.

Face Off: Monsieur Kerry et Mistuh Bush

One of the only advantages of working for the Wall Street Journal is that I get a free copy of the paper every day (OK, and the crossword is good). I found this in the Sept 30th issue, in a preview of the first Presidential debate. The pictures alone were good enough, but I thought Kerry would look much better with a little moustache and goatee combo, holding a martini (in a ladies' glass, of course). Bush, on the other hand, looks much more presidential with a handgun and jaunty 'Pres' cap.

Yes, I get very bored at work.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Apparently There Was a Debate Last Night

I didn't watch the 3rd debate (not so easy when it shows in the early hours of the morning on a weekday - damned time difference), but these sites have some decent post-game.

Outside the Beltway
INDC Journal
Tony Pierce
And a huge one from The Moderate Voice

FAO Mr Rather

(Hat tip: Right Wing News)

A baguette, a little brie, and a cheeky Sauvignon '96 later, and Kerry may finally tell us about his plans.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

And Yet More Beheadings

Courtesy of Rusty Shackleford (thanks for the heads-up, Prof - I was busy playing snooker while you were doing the legwork) yet more beheadings. It'll soon get to the point at which we won't bother reporting these anymore. God help us.

Video has been released of the beheading of Fadhel Ibrahim and Firas Imeil, both Iraqis. These men were sons, fathers, brothers, cousins, nephews and uncles to many. They were murdered in cold blood in the most hideous way imaginable. As I have said with all the previous murders, please think carefully before watching the videos.

Also reported at Backcountry conservative, too.

Right Wing News

Very quick post cause I'm at work. John Hawkins has made Sortapundit Site of the Day at Right Wing News. Cheers Right Wing fella.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Here - Have Some Stuff

Kate at Protein Wisdom breaks the cardinal rule of interviewing: never drink more than a keg beforehand;

The Professor beats off the advances of a student - er, the wife doesn't read your stuff, does she Shackleford?;

Allah says Bush is back up by 4, and by the look of the picture he also has the coolest PJs;

Kevin has a thought on the 4th anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole;

and finally, spare a thought for Scott Elliot today. His father Larry Thomas Elliot would have turned 61 today. Both of Scott's parents were tragically killed earlier in the year while serving as missionaries in Iraq.

OK, This is Just Getting Ridiculous

I'm almost certain, and God I hope it's true, that someone is playing a huge joke on the blogosphere by releasing staged videos of beheadings and seeing how long it takes us to get the joke. Yes, yet another video has been released. This time it was a Shiite Muslim who allegedly worked for the US Army as an assassin. Yet again it was claimed by the Ansar al-Sunna Army. Do these guys not realise there are other uses for a knife?

The video, of course, can be found elsewhere. Try here, here or here. Again, think hard before you watch it.

All About the Benjamins

I love hearing bloggers talk about blogging. What I love more, though, is bloggers talking about profit. It's a widely held blogging dream that you could, with a little hard work and a lot of jammy luck, make enough from blogging to jack in your 9-5 to spend your days writing and your evenings carousing in exclusive bars with beautiful women (OK, that second one isn't exclusive to bloggers).

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised when the subject of exactly how much certain bloggers make came up during the recent Right Wing News symposium featuring John Hawkins himself, Frank J of IMAO fame, Ace from Ace of Spades, Bill from INDC Journal and Michele of A Small Victory (a qualified group, I'm sure you'll agree). Go and read it for the revelation that Kos pulls in $14,500 a week from his Blogads - though I'm almost certain that a certain amount of dodgy math was used in coming to that figure.

As I've mentioned before, I'm an obsessive stats watcher. I probably spend more time on the popular blogs reading the hit counts and calculating the blogads revenue than I do actually reading the posts. Yes, it's pathetic. Yes, I'm obsessed. No, I don't care.

I've never had more than about 350 hits in a day, but I dream of the day that I get linked by a big hitter and see my hitcounter rocket into the stratosphere. Hey, maybe I should try writing something worth reading. Shit, I never thought of that.

Right, down to work.

All Our Pop Idols Died in Their 20s

Every so often you read a post that makes you think 'Why didn't I write that?'. The always entertaining Michele at A Small Victory has outdone herself with a rambling, scornful Grampa Simpson-esque bitch about the coddled youth of today and times past. Every word violently blows the dust from one childhood memory after another. Long-suppressed memories of broken bones, crushed fingers and the almighty wedgie are dredged forth in Michele's onslaught of nostalgia.

She's right, though. Head wounds do build character.

More Beheadings in Iraq

And the beheadings keep on comin'. The 'Army' of Ansar al-Sunna has released video footage of the beheadings of a Turkish civilian contractor and his Iraqi translator. They were made to confess to aiding the coalition before being slaughtered.

Al Jazeera would not air the video as they thought it was too gruesome but, as is always the case nowadays, it has found it's way onto the Internet. If you really must see it, Chad at In The Bullpen has it. However, I implore you to think hard before watching it. These were real people; people with families; people like you and me. They were murdered in the most horrific way imaginable. Imagine for a moment the terror they felt as they were captured. Blindfolded and bundled into a car. Held for days in a cellar without food or water, until the final moments as evil men armed with hate and madness set upon them with knives. If you can still watch the video then God help you.

Rusty Shackleford has (graphic) still images; ISOU, James Joyner and Backcountry Conservative have more info.

Patties Panties Picked a Pickled Pepper

I stumbled on a plan to boycott the products of any company that buys advertising space from the Sinclair Broadcast Group ((who plan to air a documentary highly critical of John Kerry the night before the election) Hat tip: ISOU).

It wasn't so much the actual meat of the story that interested me (though I agree that the schedule is in bad taste at best, illegal at worst). No, it was the list of companies that advertise. Here in the UK we have 5 basic terrestrial TV channels (BBC 1 and 2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5), as well as the myriad cable and satellite networks. The terrestrial channels are watched by the majority of the nation, and as such charge astronomical fees for advertising space. The result is that only the largest companies in the country can afford to buy space.

Evidently not so in the US. Halfway down the list of advertisers is a company known as 'Patties Panties'. For all I know this could be a behemoth in the ladies underwear industry, it's product known across America for their durability, good value and, indeed, sexiness. Have I missed out on the Patties Panties phenomenon? Am I in the dark here in my backwater? Do teenage boys hide a well-thumbed, slighly crispy copy of a Patties Panties catalogue behind their collective cistern? Am I missing out? Am I, indeed, Patties Pantiless? Who knows.

My interest is well and truly piqued.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Superman Dies at 52

There's one thing you can't deny about Christopher Reeve - everyone had an opinion. He was either a testament to bravery in the face of adversity, or the self-obsessed poster boy for the bitter disabled.

Severely injured in a horse-riding accident, Reeve was confined to a wheelchair for the last 9 years of his life. During this time he devoted himself to advocating spinal cord research, confidently declaring that he would walk again.

Reeve collected himself a fair few detractors after 9 years of this insistence, but I always liked the guy. Sure, he got a bit tiresome after 9 years, but you can't hate Superman. I'll be raising a glass to him tonight. RIP Man of Steel.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Hey, I've Got Readers!

As an obsessive stats-watcher, it's nice to see my visitor count creeping back up. During my break it fell to an average of about 10 a day (not good). I've been keeping a close watch on it today and it looks like I'll finish the day somewhere around 500. Long may that continue.

For those of you who are new to Sortapundit, welcome. I hope you come back soon. For those who have been here before, thanks for coming back so quickly. I was worried that it might take months to build the readership up again. Well, you guys have outdone yourself. You should all give yourselves a pat on the back (unless you can't bend that way). Good work fellas.

The Land Down Under

Both Grewhawk at the Mudville Gazette and Glenn Reynolds remark that John Howard's election victory whispered quietly through the US media in recent days. Surprised? Not a chance. The election was battling against two very strong traditions.

The first, possibly fallacious, reason is that the US media doesn't give over that many column inches to the rest of the world (with the exception, of course, of nations such as Iraq). Pre-9/11 it was an old joke that any foreigner visiting the US could perform a magic trick - open a newspaper and see your home country vanish. It's not so true today, as the world has sort of forced itself on America. I think it may still be fair to say that US newspapers don't often feature news from too many peaceful, quiet and faraway nations.

The second reason - and this one it certainly true - is that nobody knows an awful lot about Australia. It's just one of those things. For the vast majority of us the doings of Australia has no appreciable effect on our everyday lives. Before John Howard committed troops to Iraq I could have made a good living from betting that a randomly selected person couldn't name the Australian Prime Minister - or, in fact, the Australian capital city (it's Sydney, right?).

The reason nobody cares about Australia is that they don't do anything to make us care. They don't threaten us with nuclear and biological weapons, they don't slaughter their countrymen with abandon, and they aren't ruled by a murderous dictator. They just get on with life happily and, above all, quietly, God bless 'em.

Australia is far and away my favourite nation. I've spent many a happy day walking the streets of Melbourne, and many a happy evening stumbling drunkenly back down those same streets (admittedly with a few wrong turns and piss breaks). It's a wonderful country, from the beaches of the Gold Coast to the skyscrapers of Sydney to the bohemian suburbs of Melbourne to the majesty of Uluru. However, I don't blame anyone for not losing sleep over the election.

It's Canberra, by the way.

More of This Crap?

From ABC News (thanks to the Jawa Report):

'A suicide car bomber rammed into an army convoy in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday, triggering an explosion that left four people dead and 22 wounded, the army said.
Two soldiers, a civilian and the bomber were killed in the attack on a highway connecting Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state, with the frontier town of Uri, an army garrison, said Lt. Col. V. K. Batra.'

Iraq, Israel, Kashmir - is there a single place left in the world where you don't run the risk of being blown into 500 bloody pieces every time you leave your house? Please let me know, cause I'm moving. My brother was scheduled to be very close to Kashmir about now. It's good to have him where I can keep a close eye on him. He's exactly the kind of person who would step on the land mine in a field of cushions.

Bigley Beheaded After MI6 Rescue Backfired

I've not taken much of an interest in the Ken Bigley story, since as soon as he was captured he was as good as dead. Considering the track record of previous hostages we might as well have had Bigley's funeral service weeks ago.

However, it's good to know that we at least made a decent effort to save the poor fella. MI6 apparently snatched him back and bundled him into a car before he was recaptured. If you want to see the video of him being slaughtered, follow this link. Ah, I seem to have forgotten to write the address there. Let's try again - http://www.whatthefuckiswrongwithyou?

I don't like this subject, but lots more people do, so try here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Lots and lots and lots of words.

Democratic Underground

That was surreal. I'm a little bored, so I just registered at Democratic Underground for a chuckle. Not 5 minutes after I posted my first message I found I'd been banned. And not even for a half decent reason. All I said was that I wasn't confisent that Kerry could win next month. Crazy.

I've always heard that the weirdest folk go to the DU. I never realised just how hyper-sensitive they are about everything. I swear you could start a thread about, say, how great puppies are, and watch it descend into a bitter feud over what shady Bush-led conspiracy causes puppies to be so cute. Damn Bush! Ahhh! Oil for Puppies! (at this point they begin to spit blood and twitch... fin).

Saturday, October 09, 2004

I Love the Smell of Democracy in the Morning. And Bacon. I Also Like Bacon.

It's a big day for democracy. John Howard won his 4th straight Australian federal election after Mark Latham of the Labour Party conceded defeat with 60% of the votes counted. Latham had promised to withdraw all 900 Aussie troops from Iraq by Christmas if elected, so Howard's victory will bring a confidence boost to both Bush and Blair. I've always liked Howard, so yay him.

Elsewhere, the polls have opened in Afghanistan's freshly-minted free elections (more good news for Bush et al). The interim President Hamid Karzai is favourite to win, but nothing is certain. Initial results aren't expected until at least late Sunday, but I'm sure there'll be regular updates here, here, here, here and here. Go crazy.

Of course, today's most important event ended just an hour or so ago. England beat Wales 2-0 at Old Trafford. Once step closer to World Cup 2006. I got two words - 'Boo' and 'Yah'.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Presidential Debate

Well, it's almost 4am and the Presidential debate just ended. I only watched half of it, but it seems to me like Bush won that round. Kerry didn't seem too comfortable, and in answering the stem cell question he came across as a Hollywood asshole when he namedropped 'Chris' Reeve and Michael J Fox 'His little body was shaking, and he looked at me and said 'Don't take away my hope' '. Bush was comfortable throughout, and he killed on his closing statement.

Ahh. Too late.... Memory... failing.... can't remember anything else. Need... cigarette.

I'm going for nicotine. James Joyner has a play-by-play, and the Jawa Report has a refreshing who the hell cares?

Where's My Fedora?

After such a long break I think it's time to throw my rather weighty fedora in the political ring. I'm calling the election in favour of Bush. Furthermore, I declare that no election will be necessary as the possibility of my being wrong on any subject is about the same as the possibility that several consecutive hurricanes could blow through Florida.

On second thought, maybe you guys should vote - you know, for the look of things.

Despite my bone-deep dislike of Bush, no matter how hard I try I can't see any substance to Kerry. He's a chair filler, an empty hairdo. In saner times that's fine. The Oval Office has seen several hairdos come and go, keeping the nation ticking over for 4 years until someone effective comes along, but you can't afford one right now.

Don't get me wrong. I still believe Bush has all the intelligence of your average tablecloth, and will do nothing but piss off the left and exasperate the moderates for the next 4 years, but it's better than electing a guy who'll worry about nuance while New York burns.

Old Habits Die Easy

It's odd how my habits have changed during the past few months. It used to be that I would spend hours every day browsing blogs. I had a huge list of daily reads, and an even larger list of occasionals. Since I started my break I cut out the Internet almost entirely. For 3 months I've done nothing but check my e-mail. Now I can't even remember half the URLs. I'll have to stumble randomly back to the old haunts. The only old favourite I remember is Outside The Beltway.

On a similar subject, i have no clue how to let people know I'm back. If you could spread the word that'd be nice. Get to it. Are you still here? Mush!

The Name's Bond... James Bond

Let me tell you a little story. This has nothing to do with anything, and I doubt it'll be of much interest to anyone but my die-hard fans (judging by my readership, that's about 11 of you).

A friend of mine, Chris, wrote a screenplay about a woman who discovers she has just a few months to live. She's faced with the dilemma of whether to spend her remaining months in a stale but stable marriage or risk it all with an old flame she never forgot. When Chris writes, he likes to base his characters on his friends. He takes their quirks and mannerisms, along with a few choice quotes, and throws them together into characters. Anyway, he based his 'old flame' character on me. This alone is gratifying, and I thank him for it.

However, this has gone a little further than expected. Chris was approached by a guy who is looking to invest about £15 million in a project to make 5 films in Manchester in the next few years. The screenplay is on the shortlist, and with a bit of luck it'll be hitting screens sometime.

The first ego boost came when Helen Mirren was suggested to play the lead role. Now, Helen is about twice my age, but she's still got the glimmer in her eye that gave many a young man something to think about. The idea of being Mirren's love interest in a feature film is an altogether not upleasant thought.

But here's the peach. Chris sat down with the investor guy last week to discuss the other roles. During this meeting it was suggested that, if not for budget constraints, the ideal actor to play 'me' would be... (drumroll, please)...




Can you imagine the look on my face when I was told this? I don't often get the chance to use my 'I would be played by James Bond in a movie' expression. It's up there with the 'I've just won the lottery' and the 'I've just woken up spooning Angelina Jolie' expressions. I've been wearing this expression every day since. Hey, I might as well get some mileage out of it.

Scott of India

All told, this has been a very odd week. I was pottering around last Saturday - checking e-mails, watching movies, scratching - when the phone rang. It was my older brother, Scott, who has been working for charity in India since June. The conversation went a little like this :-

Scott - 'Are Mum or Dad there?'

Me - 'Err, Dad's out and Mum's making tea. I'll shout her.'

'....Muuuuum! It's scott.'

Me - 'She says can she just put the chicken in? I said, she says can she just put the chicken in? Hello?'

Scott - 'Err... well...'

Me - 'What's up?'

Scott - 'I've got malaria. I'm coming home.'

Me - 'Oh. Shit. Are you OK?'

Scott - 'No.'

Me - 'Oh. Here's Mum.'

So. He'd stopped taking his anti-malarials cause they made him feel sick. Big fucking mistake. We managed to fly him home Monday. On top of malaria he has gastroenteritis and a really bad haircut, so it's been a little strange around here. It's touch and go, but with a lot of care and attention his hair might be OK.

There should be some pictures of my brother below. If you can't see them, blame technology.

Scott brought me back a diary as a very late birthday present. It's made from a material that looks like leather (but, being from India, almost certainly isn't) with crazy pages made from some sort of low grade pulp full of petals. It looks like an antique, and I don't think I'll ever bring myself to write in it. It deserves Kipling, and even on a good day I'm nothing better than a Grisham. He also brought back about 60 pirate movies on VCD, each of which cost about the same as a stick of Juicy Fruit. India rules, apart from all the mosquitoes and poverty.

Scott and the kids Posted by Hello

Scott Posted by Hello

Er.. Hello Again

Well, I'm back from my sabbatical. I'm rested and ready for action, and fuck me if I haven't gone a touch right wing in the past 3 months. Considering that this site began life as, a collection of petty rants about our favourite Republican, I never expected to reach a point at which I could sit down and think, 'Hey, that guy talks sense'.

I've always veered a little to the left. Nothing extreme, but I like to think I do my bit for those less fortunate than me. I was happy to pay my taxes, because I'm lucky and some people aren't. But then I got a paycheck a couple of months ago and something snapped in my Labour-supporting head. 'Fuck 'em', I thought. There aren't that many people with less money than me.

Since Labour got into power I've put myself through university (and paid fees every year for the privilege, thank you very much, Mr Blair). My older brother started his degree during the Conservative years, and he was actually paid a grant to study. Since graduating I've seen a huge chunk of my salary vanish into a pit of government waste. Hell, I'm young. I probably won't be needing to use a hospital any time soon. I pay road tax, which should pay for the upkeep of the roads I use. I probably won't need to draw any benefits (as long as I don't lose my job in a freak accident involving a cup of coffee and a big foam finger... I don't know, I'm just spitballing ideas here). In short, gimme back all my money. Damn the poor. They could work if they wanted. I have £25,000 of student debts to pay off. I'm tired of altruism.

Anyway, more to come shortly.
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