Tuesday, December 31, 2002

I'M TAKING MY HOUSEGUESTS sight-seeing today then meeting friends for dinner. I won't have much time to post, but sometime before the day is through I will describe how I came to usher in the new year watching American football with Thai bargirls in Hong Kong.

Monday, December 30, 2002

GLENN REYNOLDS has 12 new pieces up today and is apologizing for "light posting." Er, okay Glenn, we'll let it slide just this once.
MARK KLEIMAN e-mails me with an explanation as to why he and I were able to have such sport at the expense of US Attorney General John Ascroft's refusal, last month, to utter the words Saudi Arabia -- using instead the euphemism "the capital city of another country" -- when referring to the location of al Qaeda's financiers. It seems the fact the Saudis paid for the 9-11 attacks is a state secret. According to Kleiman:

"[US Senator] Bob Graham, who has now semi-declared for President, says that an unnamed "sovereign foreign government" -- he doesn't say "Saudi Arabia" -- "assisted, not just in financing" the 9-11 mass murders. Graham notes that much of the material is classified, "I think overly-classified." The obvious interpretation is that naming the country would violate the secrecy rules. [That may also be true of Attorney General Ashcroft's reticence, of which the Gweilo diarist and I made such fun last month.]"

The Saudis provided -- at a minimum -- money to al Qaeda. I know it. Kleiman knows it. Graham knows it. You know it. The administration knows it. The Saudis damn sure know it. Al Qaeda knows it. The families of the victims know it. I'll lay odds that my Chinese taxi-driver on the way home tonight knows it. Yet its classified?!?

What's this, the betrayal that dare not speak its name?

If the Bush administration's plan does not ultimately include regime change in Saudi Arabia, it is destined for failure and the President is going to lose a lot of supporters very quickly. This had all better be part of a brilliant Machiavellian strategy to oust the House of Saud, while Poppy Bush lulls them into a false sense of security by groveling before them for donations to that sanctuary for the needy and oppressed, Andover Academy.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

RANTING SCREEDS posts the following fantasy:

"[P]erhaps it's time to let our EU peers, who believe they should have a full share of leadership alongside the U.S., take the lead in this crisis. This is, after all, only reasonable since the reactor North Korea is using for its plutonium production, designed and built not for energy production but for weapons programs, was designed and built for North Korea by Europeans (Germany, to be exact)."

"37,000+ French, Italian, Dutch, German, et al troops can replace the American troops on the peninsula and be responsible for serving as a "tripwire" in case of North Korean attack. They can take the lead in deciding how to defuse this one, and if they decide force is needed, they can bear the lion share of the burden - our troops are busy elsewhere, and our full partners should be able to handle this one while we handle the other. Oh, the U.S. won't be out of the picture - like I said, it will be role reversal. The EU will be expected to "consult" with us at every turn, whatever moves they make will be subjected to un-constructive criticism, and if they make even the smallest of mistakes we'll be quick with the finger of blame."

Of course, who would they send, how would they get there, what would they eat, what would they shoot, who would supply them, and who would come to their rescue when they inevitably screwed the pooch?

The Europeans have voluntarily neutered their military capability. This provides certain economic benefits, which they enjoy. It also carries certain foreign policy costs, which they must bear. Most notably, a diminshed say in international affairs. You Europeans may have heard of one or more of the following concepts -- cost / benefit; gotta take the bitter with the sweet; you have to pay to play; there's no such thing as a free lunch; or, as Long Tall Noi at Playskool in Bangkok so eloquently puts it "no money, no honey."

Sorry boys and girls, that's life.
I'VE BEEN BUSY and only just saw this, but what the fuck???!!!

"[A] former U.S. diplomatic official assigned to Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, says State Department policy was to avoid sending Jewish employees to the kingdom under an agreement with the Saudis.

In a letter this past June, Hunter told Pipes that it was "the duty of the foreign service director of personnel to screen all Foreign Service officers applying for service in the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and to `tick' Jewish officers' names using the letter `J' next to their names, so that selection panels would not select Jewish diplomats for service in Saudi Arabia."

Why don't we reduce the paperwork and require them to wear a yellow Star of David pinned to their clothes?

I am now officially disgusted.
MY LEFTY PAL Skippy -- who really does run a great blog even if he's, sadly, frequently wrong -- recently took exception to US evangelist Franklin Graham's characterization of Islam as an intolerant and violent religion. So, where is the universal condemnation among Muslim clerics, religious leaders and/or believers of this:

"Three girls [ages 6, 10 and 15] killed in a grenade explosion inside a Pakistani church were buried Thursday during a Christmas Day attack that also wounded 13."

Police detained six people, including an Islamic cleric who allegedly told his followers to kill Christians, after the attack on the tiny, one-room church that was filled mainly with women and girls.

Two assailants covered in burqas — the all-encompassing garment worn by women in some Islamic countries — tossed the explosives at about 40 Pakistani worshippers, turning a Christmas service into blood-soaked chaos."

The Islamic cleric, who presides over a mosque near the attacked church, which was holding a special mass for women and children, told his followers during a sermon three days prior to the attack:

"It is the duty of every good Muslim to kill Christians," a local police officer, Nazir Yaqub, told The Associated Press news agency.

"Afzal told people,' You should attack Christians and not even have food until you have seen their dead bodies."

Muslim clerics call for the murder of Christians; Muslim believers act upon this incitement by attacking women and children; the Muslim world remains virtually silent in its aftermath; this is not an isolated incident. Faced with the preceding, what is the left concerned about? That an American Christian is insufficiently tolerant of the creed behind the barbarity.

I honestly don't get it? Perhaps someone can explain it to me.

UPDATE: Where did Graham get the idea that Islam was a violent and intolerant religion? Perhaps he took them at their own friggin word!

Take a few minutes to read the linked report, then tell me that Graham's remarks were unfounded.

UPDATE II: Perhaps Democratic critics are right, Bill Frist should reconsider providing free medical care to Muslim Sudan in association with Franklin Graham:

"A suspected Muslim extremist shot and killed three American doctors at a missionary hospital in Yemen on Monday, security officials said."

A "suspected Muslim extremist", I wonder what made them suspect that?

Religion of peace, my ass.
ALFRED CROUCHER, at the excellent blog China Hand, posts a lengthy rebuttal to Joshua Kurlantzick's recent article (link requires free registration), which appeared in The New Republic, entitled Is China's Economic Boom a Myth. Croucher, as the name of his blog implies, is an experienced China Hand with extensive experience in, and knowledgeable insights about, China -- his blog is rewarding reading for anyone with an interest in China. Having said that, in this case I generally disagree with his conclusion and personally believe that the economic image China presents to the world is largely smoke and mirrors.

One point Croucher makes, about an area where I have extensive personal experience, is simply, unequivocally, wrong. He writes "China has developed some of the world’s best commercial mediation and arbitration systems." In truth, China's dispute resolution institutions, most notably CIETAC, are deeply, seriously flawed. Chinese arbitrators are notoriously biased and under-qualified. The payments afforded to arbitrators are so low as to make it impossible for non-Chinese arbitrators to take assignments, except as an occasional loss-leading good-will gesture. Arbitration awards against Chinese parties are often unenforceable, Chinese courts regularly rely on "public policy" arguments, which would be summarily rejected in any First World Western court, to vacate such awards. As more than one observer has noted:

"Enforcing foreign arbitral awards in China has never been straightforward. Foreign companies have found in the past that even after winning an arbitral award in a foreign country, it may not be easy to persuade a People's Court to recognize and enforce the award against a Chinese defendant."

The same is true of CIETAC awards. While the PRC government has recently, out of necessity, implemented certain measures intended to address this situation, these steps are inadequate and the problem still very much exists. The reason that, as Croucher recognizes, the "best advised foreign businessmen here know never to go to a lawyer unless [they] have totally lost control of [their] investment", is because the advice they receive -- advice I give regularly -- is that adversarial proceedings in China, including arbitration, are likely to be lengthy, costly and ultimately unrewarding. It is better to attempt make a bad deal with your Chinese counterpart, who is aware of the disadvantages facing non-Chinese parties in PRC adversarial proceedings, than to risk losing everything by asserting one's contractual rights. To suggest the China's nascent dispute resolution procedures are somehow superior to the well established and time tested methods developed in the West is simply misguided.

There is a Japanese proverb:

First the man takes a drink.

Then the drink takes a drink.

Then the drink takes the man.

I've concluded I'm at risk of reaching the third step -- an occupational hazard here in Hong Kong -- and its time to take remedial action. So, starting January 1, I'm not touching a drop -- no boozy weekends, no social cocktails, no after-work martinis, no wine with dinner -- until the the first of February. My goal is to detox my liver and reassure myself that I, and not the drink, am still in control. The biggest problem I foresee is I can't imagine how I will be able to tolerate some of my friends while sober.

I think Morticia may be a lesbian. The basis for this suspicion?

First, she has an aversion to any physical contact more intimate than holding hands or cuddling. When asked why, she responded with the following text message to my mobile phone (a method of communication that seems to be fast replacing actual person-to-person conversation here in Asia) -- "I don't like that. I'm good for work but for sex, very bad. I don't like sex. Why men want that?"

Now, before you conclude that I'm the kind of chauvinist pig who assumes that any woman who won't screw me must be a dyke -- an assumption that, if true, would exponentially increase the world's lesbian population -- let me introduce the following additional evidence:

She comments regularly and explicitly on the comparative attractiveness and desirability of various women; after a few drinks, she becomes very flirty and physically forward with other girls -- at one point I had to rescue a frightened little Chinese girl from an advance that, had I been the perpetrator, could have justifiably resulted in charges of sexual harassment; she informed me that, back in Thailand, she lived for two years with a "tom boy" (Thai-English for a lesbian) who "loved her very much"; and I met one of her girlfriends who acted a hell of a lot more like a jealous lover than a buddy.

Admittedly, this isn't conclusive proof, but one thing seems clear, whether or not she's sleeping with other women, the prospects of her sleeping with me appear increasingly remote.

Friday, December 27, 2002

SORRY ABOUT THE LONG SILENCE but I simply haven't had time to sit in front of a computer since Christmas eve. I'll have lots of (I hope) interesting new stuff to add on Sunday. In the meantime, thanks for your patience and please don't abandon me -- if Andrew Sullivan can take a week off only days after hitting the blogosphere up for 80 grand, I hope you can indulge me a few days with family.

Monday, December 23, 2002

THE LEFTY SITE LiberalOasis mounts a nasty personal attack on Bill First's character and ethics which amounts to little more than innuendo and slander by association. How weak is it -- they condemn Frist for providing free medical care and supplies to needy patients in war-torn Africa because the sponsoring organization is associated with Billy Graham's son Franklin.

What the hell is the matter with you people? Are you incapable of a debate on the merits of competing policy proposals? Is the concept of an honorable disagreement between men of good faith inconceivable to you? Does wallowing in the muck like swine appeal to you? Do you not realize how ridiculous and desperate this makes you look?

Christ, what a despicable, slimy, loathsome performance.

Thanks to Skippy for the link and for reminding me -- albeit unintentionally -- that even in this season of good will to all, there's always some asshole to fuck it up.
AMONG THE LITTLE things I enjoy about living in Asia are the delightful non-sequiturs that crop up in conversations with non-native English speakers. Today I received the following text message from "Morticia" on my mobile phone:

"I just come back from the market and two of my legs are sore."
CHRISTMAS IS HERE, I have family visiting and a brand new girlfriend of less than a week. In other words, real life, and therefore light posting for the next few days. I won't be silent, but I expect I'll be less prolific through the weekend.
THE US AND BRITAIN are reportedly planning a large scale amphibious landing to open the ground war against Iraq. Of course, there is every possibility that this is disinformation, just as it was in the first Gulf War. If it isn't, however, why the hell am I reading about it in the papers? If a British official actually leaked this, he should be horse whipped.

The idea makes a lot of sense to me. It avoids the need for troop concentrations in a neighboring country, thereby reducing diplomatic complications and the risk of a preemptive chemical or biological strike. Iraq lacks the ability to track ship positions and, therefore, would have no warning of such an assault until troops actually began coming ashore. Furthermore, the Iraqi army lacks the logistical capability to move its troops quickly in response, which means that allied forces would probably land unimpeded. Of course, they'd have a better chance of doing that if battle plans weren't appearing in the bloody newspapers.
THE VIETNAMESE government continues its ironfisted response to dissent. Nguyen Khac Toan, a former military officer and Communist Party member who maintained contact with certain oversees Vietnamese human rights organizations, was convicted of espionage on Friday and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Nguyen was arrested at an internet cafe in Hanoi. In November, activist Chi Quing was sentenced to four years in prison for posting articles critical of Vietnam's one party state on the internet while another activist, Ngyuen Vu Binh, was arrested in September and is awaiting trial.

The Vietnamese government is utterly corrupt, perhaps the worst in Asia. The Party is terrified of losing power, despite the fact there is no credible opposition movement, and gives no indication of relaxing its controls. Indeed, it refuses even to implement the economic reforms necessary to permit much needed development. The Vietnamese are, in my experience, perhaps the most industrious people in Asia. Its a tragedy they are forced to endure poverty and repression by decrepit, power hungry, party hacks.

I blame the French.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

I MET "MORTICIA" in Soho -- yes, even Hong Kong has one -- last night. Her hair was up, her clothing entirely unfunereal and she looked fantastic, stunning, head-turningly, traffic-stoppingly, spectacular. Guys I barely know made a point to come over to our table to say hello -- buzzards circling -- and the female half of the couple next to us, when Morticia excused herself for the ladies room, leaned over and said "your girlfriend is very beautiful." Conversation was easy and comfortable and her little proprietary gestures felt entirely appropriate. Dropping her home, she fell asleep in the taxi, her head in my lap and at that moment, for the first time since Lisa left me, I could visualize being in love with someone else.

This could work. I'll certainly have an interesting story to tell the grandchildren when they ask how I met grandma.
I JUST RECEIVED an e-Christmas card from a friend, wherein he recounted the year's events. Here's his rendition of a brief visit with me:

"And in little more than seven days, it was back onto Cathay for my return - but not before savouring the Delights of the Orient, or, more particularly, Hong Kong, that unique blend of Chinatown and Gibraltar. My host, an ex-Manhattanite who resides, in extreme bachelor splendour, atop Happy Valley Racecourse (and informs me that Happy Valley itself is an ex-malarial swamp), was kind enough to guide me through the local and expatriate drinking holes of the Special Administrative Region during my ten-hour layover. While this neither cures nor prevents jet-lag, my store of knowledge about China has increased exponentially as a result: (1) beer is the most expensive commodity in the former Crown Colony; (2) steamed dumplings are an excellent hangover cure; and (3) Hong Kong "rock" bands have an exclusively bubble-gum repertoire - e.g., Katrina & The Waves' "Walking on Sunshine" is punk; and (4) EVERY singer in every bar in the whole of Canton is lip-synching. (And I suspect every instrumentalist too, including the drummers). Not that this is such a bad thing. To paraphrase Sir Winston, few things are more exhilerating than to be mimed at loudly from close range, without harmful effect."
I WENT OUT last night with a Thai girl I have been chasing hard for the better part of a month. When I picked her up, she was wearing a long-sleeved, floor length, clinging, black dress and her waist length hair was down. She looked, I kid you not, like an Asian Morticia Addams. Think I'm exaggerating? Halfway through the evening I ran into a colleague who took one look at us and said, "Hey Gomez, how's it going?"

Friday, December 20, 2002

IN A SURVEY conducted by the Hong Kong News Executives Association, forty percent of the journalists questioned said they would consider leaving the profession if the SAR enacted the currently proposed Article 23 anti-subversion laws. Ten percent of the respondents said that they would quit journalism immediately upon such enactment.

Somehow I doubt the specter of fewer prying reporters will give either Beijing or the Tung administration pause.

Meanwhile, proof that the public opposes the legislation is incontrovertible. In addition to the estimated 60,000 demonstrators who took to the streets last Sunday:

"More than 18,000 submissions have been sent to the government on its proposals for national security laws based on Article 23 of the Basic Law, indicating the issue has gripped the public more than any since the handover.

The number of responses - which could have been boosted by organisations for and against the proposals issuing simple submission forms for the public - is believed to be a record for any consultation since the handover."

Beijing -- and make no mistake, that's who is calling the shots -- has a decision which it must make soon. Will it open the process and allow for publication of a "white bill" which will allow genuine public consultation, or will it attempt to cram its oppressive proposals through the SAR's puppet Legislative Council? If it chooses the later, I foresee extreme public hostility and material harm to Hong Kong's economy.
I CONFESS that provocatively dressed young women have inspired me to do some pretty unusual things, but shooting them, beheading them or throwing acid in their faces has never been among them. Sadly, there are those who cannot say the same:

Suspected Islamic rebels killed three young women in India's Kashmir region for not wearing burqas, the head-to-toe veiled dress worn by Muslim women.

The killings came a day after handwritten posters appeared in Rajouri district warning women that they would face consequences for not wearing the veiled dress.

Unidentified gunmen barged into the house of Mohammad Sadiq at Hasyote village in the Thanamandi area and shot dead his 21-year-old daughter, Noureen Kousar.

The attackers then entered house of Khalil Ahmad in the same village and kidnapped his 18-year-old daughter, Tahir Parveen. Her beheaded body was found in jungles hours later.

Another young girl, Shehnaz Akhtar, was also shot in the killing spree, United News of India reported.

There have been previous cases of Islamic militants in the area ordering women to wear veiled dresses. In one incident some years ago, Islamic rebels threw acid on the face of one girl who didn't comply.

I have a simple question for Islamic fundamentalists everywhere. What the fuck is the matter with you people?!? Are you insane? Okay, that's two questions but seriously, what the hell are you dipshits thinking? Murdering and disfiguring innocents is an affront to God. If you believe that the prophet Mohammad said otherwise, then either you or he is a Goddamned -- and I use that expression literally -- barbarian and the religion you are practicing is an abomination.

Fatwa that motherfuckers.
AN OBSERVATION: Any city that describes itself, or any feature within, as "world class", isn't.
PERFECT TIMING: At precisely the right moment to take the American public's mind off Trent Lott and remind them why it was they voted Republican last month, US Senator Patty Murray demonstrates that she understands neither the root causes of Islamic fundamentalist extremism or her own government's budget. Speaking of Osama binLaden, Murray said:

"We’ve got to ask, why is this man (bin Laden) so popular around the world?" Murray asked during an appearance Wednesday at Columbia River High School. "Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty?"

"He’s been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day-care facilities, building health-care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven’t done that."

Ahh yes, the pressing need for day-care centers for all those working mothers under the Taliban.

Nancy (a) we have; (b) that has nothing whatsoever to do with it; and (c) you're a moron. Any questions?
QUESTION: Can visitors to this site see my archive links on the right? I can't, but my computer is behaving strangely again (still) and I don't know if its me or blogger. Thanks
SADDAM'S PLANS revealed:

"Faced with almost certain defeat by a superior U.S. military, Saddam would contaminate water supplies, destroy power grids, ignite oil fields and burn food stocks to wreak havoc among his population, [US] officials told a small group of reporters."

Do you think he revealed this plank in the Bathe Party platform when campaigning for 100% of the vote last month?
I'M SHOCKED! Shocked I tell you! Is there no evil to which Saddam will not stoop?

"Actor Sean Penn was stunned at distorted Iraqi reports about his trip to Baghdad, where Saddam Hussein's portrait watched over his every move. Penn claim[s the Iraqi government] transformed him into a weapon of mass propaganda."

Invading Kuwait, gassing the Kurds and executing Iraqis is one thing -- but manipulating a B-list celebrity. . . . This time he's gone too far!
ESPECIALLY IF her husband catches you.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

TEXTING THE GWEILO: A more or less monthly feature where I reveal the most bizarre SMS (Short Message Service) messages sent to my phone since . . . well, since the last time I revealed them.

"I hat yu and hov yu dad." [Hint: she isn't happy]

"Would Thursday or Friday night be better for sex?"

"I LOVE U 4EVER AND WANT TO LIVE AT YOUR HOME" [From a girl I met the night before]

"Monkey scrotums!" [I have no idea who sent me this or why]

"Whatever my friend say about me, don't believe her. She lying bitch."

"I feel bad. I don't know why. This month menses come 2 time. Who can tell me?"
NO WONDER I'm irresistible.
A STUDY published in the British Medical Journal reports that during the past 50 years, Playboy centerfolds have become progressively less curvaceous. Researchers reached this conclusion after carefully analyzing the bodies of centerfold models in 577 consecutive issues of Playboy, from the magazine's launch in 1953 through December 2001.

Lead scientist Martin Voracek, a psychology researcher at the University of Vienna in Austria, cautioned against rushing to any conclusions, stating that the change could be the result of a number of possible factors. Adrian Furnham, a professor of psychology at London University who has conducted research on judgments of female attractiveness, was also not so ready to draw conclusions:

"You'd need a whole range of magazines from different countries which showed a consistent pattern. Then, I think, you could start worrying about an explanation, but until then it's just a bit of fun."

Until then???

Professor Furnham is, of course, absolutely correct and it is vital that this research be carried out. I am currently putting together my own grant proposal to conduct precisely the kind of comparative study that the professor suggests. Public minded readers can assist in this scientific endeavor by sending any images of unclothed women they may have in their possession to gweilodiaries@hotmail.com. Thank you in advance for your assistance with this difficult but important work.

UPDATE: Nothing in the in-box yet. Come on you selfish bastards. You gave Andrew Sullivan US$80,000 for Christ's sake! All I'm asking for is your second-hand porn.
Sorry, but if having a relative stranger's between my teeth were grounds for a lawsuit, I'd be living in court.
THE MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT banned a Toyota ad campaign featuring Brad Pitt (or Brado Pitto -- I kid you not -- as he is known in Japan) on the grounds that showing ads featuring models and personalities who don't look Asian would "plant a sense of inferiority among Asians."

Malaysian Deputy Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin asked:

"Why must we use their faces in our advertisements? Aren't our own people handsome enough?"

I dunno, how come so many of the celebraties in Malaysia are of mixed race?
WOULD YOU like fries with that?
FINALLY!!! My home computer is up and running, although somehow, in the course of the repairs, the fonts in my windows got all fucked up and I can't figure out how to correct them. I'll address it over the weekend. Right now I'm just happy to be functioning again.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

HUH? I sent the following e-mail this morning to the Marriott hotel in Bangkok:

"As per my standing request, please ensure that a fax machine is available in my room. My reservation details are included below. Thank you."

And received the following response:

"Sory accord that NO to system, the rate was pet benefit upgrade provids. if you dog heve an quirets contact benefit direct as them through you was book hotels."

I'm glad that's taken care of.
WORK ON MY new blog site is slowly, actually glacially, proceeding -- in part because I still don't have a working home computer. Nevertheless it is coming. I do have a cool logo now, which I'd post here, except image hosting still isn't working on Blogger. The bastards!

UPDATE: Speaking of my new blog, Jaun Gato has introduced a new feature I must install.

(Via Kathy Kinsley)
MARK KLEIMAN posts a thought provoking piece on drug legalization that's well worth reading. I don't have a personal position of the issue. On one hand, I share Kleiman's unease regarding the likely societal effects of such a measure. On the other, having consumed my share of banned substances -- actually, having consumed my share, your share, Kurt Corbain's and Courtney Love's share -- in my younger, and not so younger, days, I am mindful that I open myself to charges of condescending hypocrisy in taking that stance.
LET'S HOPE this doesn't spread.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

SO I LIED when I said I would not write another word about Trent Lott. But the following revelation by Shelby Steele, on OpinionJournal.com, is just to telling not to call attention to. Lott advisors reportedly asked Steele for his advice as to how Lott should respond to the cries for his head. According to Steele, he suggested that Lott:

"talk about growing up in a segregated society and admit that he was affected by it. He should discuss in detail how he came to the realization that segregation and racism were wrong. Was there an epiphany, an incident, a process? They asked for language, so I gave them what I wanted to hear: "I loathe segregation and racism with everything in me. This loathing is, for me, the starting point of human decency." "He won't do all this," one of them said."

So, even after the shit hit the fan, Lott would not -- could not -- bring himself to say what is manifestly obvious to any civilized human being, that racism and segregation are loathsome. Why not? The only conceivable explanation is that Lott could not do it because he does not believe it to be true. Indeed, Lott's bigotry seems to be the only belief that he hasn't been willing to jettison at the first whiff of political expediency.

To review the evidence, Lott has consorted with racists, spoken to and praised racist organizations, written in racist publications, voted against nearly every significant piece civil rights legislation to come before him, opposed the integration of his university and fraternity, campaigned for segregationist candidates, publicly wished for the election of a segregationist president, and he comes from a family of bigots. He refused to call segregation and racism inherently evil until he found himself trussed up like a pig, the spit up his ass and the apple in his mouth.

Would those who have written that they do not believe Lott is actually a racist, please explain why not? What crucial piece of evidence is missing? Do we need to catch him on camera calling Colin Powell "boy" or find a black man hanging from a tree limb in his back yard?

I stand by what I wrote last week. Welcome to those who have finally figured it out.
CHINA'S LEADERS seek to create "xiaokang" -- a 3,000 year old Confucian term referring to a condition of moderate prosperity. In other words, a middle class. Is there any greater evidence of the bankruptcy of communism than the fact the Communist Party is seeking to create a petit bourgeoisie?
IT'S DIFFICULT FOR ANYONE who is not intimately familiar with Indonesia to comprehend the extent to which corruption permiates all sectors of its economy. The best I can do here is to periodically point out particularly egregious examples. Here's another one.

Indonesia's national indpendence monument, the Monas, recently underwent a major restoration and renovation at a cost of 500 billion rupiah (approximately US$50 million). According to Asia Times:

"Nearly half or more of that amount never actually reached the contractors or the people in charge of the actual program. Much of it was siphoned off or contractors were giving kickbacks after the normal procedure of over-invoicing on supplies."

I am actually speaking on the subject of Indonesian corruption at a forum in Jakarta next year. One might ask why a foreigner in Hong Kong is being brought down for this? The answer is that no qualified person in Indonesia could be found who was willing to publicly address the issue. Therein lies a big part of the problem.
STEVEN DEN BESTE writes powerfully and, sadly, all too accurately about North Korea, although he overestimates the threat posed by North Korean ground troops. On a modern battlefield -- i.e., one in which the US is fully committed -- there is a term for massed infantry without air support, modern weaponry, command and control or logistics. That term is "casualties."

Still, Den Beste is right about the big picture, every option is shitty, and the least shitty one, tragically, results in a million North Koreans starving and the rest living an Orwellian nightmare for the indefinite future.
TRENT IS HISTORY although he doesn't seem to know it yet. The fight is over. The good guys won. And I promise not to write another goddam word about it.
IS ANYONE surprised at this result? Sorry, is anyone with a bit of common fucking sense surprised at this result?

"Iraqis would largely welcome a US-led attack leading to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, according to a [covertly conducted] survey of public opinion inside Iraq."

It seems Saddam has experienced some erosion in support since obtaining 100% of the eligible vote last month.
YOU CAN GO HOME now Hans. Sean's got it covered. From the always reliable Iraq News:

"The American movie star, Sean Penn has condemned the US-British threats to wage war against Iraq.

He told press conference that there is no legitimate justification for the brutal campaign against an authentic state like Iraq.

He confirmed that Iraq is completely clear of weapons of mass destruction and the United Nations must adopt a positive stance towards Iraq.

He also condemned the US misleading claims arguing that it is the US and not Iraq who is practicing such illegal behavior.

Mr. Penn went on saying that he would convey to the public opinion in US the real situation that the Americans should force the US administration to stop such aggressive campaign.

Finally, Mr. Penn passed a written communiqué in which he declared that his visit to Iraq is to evaluate the humanitarian situation of Iraqis and to reject the crippling sanctions on Iraq since 1991."

Penn figured all of this out during a three day "fact-finding tour" of Iraq. Hey Sean, you might have found a few more facts if YOU'D TAKEN YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR FUCKING ASS!

On a positive note, Penn managed to complete the visit without once assaulting a fan or photographer.

(Via Best of the Web)
I'M SAD TO REPORT that Bus Blogger, Tony Pierce, has passed away -- at 109 years old, it was bound to happen. The good news is he's hanging with Kurt Cobain and blogging from the great beyond. Check it out.

Monday, December 16, 2002

THE SMILING FACE OF EVIL: Nuon Chea, former Khmer Rouge second in command, killed 1.7 million Cambodians and now lives freely and openly outside Phnom Penh. Sam Bith, formerly a regional Khmer commander, is accused in the deaths of three Westerners and is being charged and tried. That double standard is repulsive. Nuon Chea has seen the inside of a courtroom, however -- as a defense witness for Sam Bith.

When asked, upon leaving the courthouse, if he feared being arrested, assasinated or lynched for his crimes, Nuon Chea "simply smiled."
WHY AM I NOT even surprised by this:

"Two weeks ago, Radio Freedom abruptly disappeared from the air. Iranians were no longer able to hear firsthand reports of the protests or the nightly think tanks about their country's future. Instead, after two weeks of virtual silence, the broadcasts are being replaced this week with tunes from Jennifer Lopez, Whitney Houston and other soft-rockers.

How did the mullahs pull off this well-timed lobotomy? They didn't: The U.S. government, in the form of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, did it. In an act that mixes Hollywood arrogance with astounding ignorance of Iranian reality, the board has silenced the most effective opposition radio station in Iran at a time of unprecedented ferment. In its place, at three times the expense, the United States now will supply Iran's revolutionary students with a diet of pop music -- on the theory that this better advances U.S. interests."

Jennifer Lopez and Whitney Houston -- that might drive me to become a suicide bomber.
SOMEONE NEEDS TO do for Lott what was done for Margaret Thatcher, take him aside and explain to him that the game is up and can only hurt the party by fighting the inevitable. Mitch McConnell seems the ideal choice.
IT SEEMS Osama bin Laden's mother is also quite devout.

(Via Tim Blair)
IS THE BLOG VDare a crypto white supremacist site? I used to link to them, but dropped them in one of my periodic reshufflings aimed at keeping my links list manageable. The more I read, the more I think that was a fortuitous decision. Its not a charge to make lightly, but some of their stuff makes me queasy.

"Charleston police arrested a . . . man for allegedly having sex with a sheep used in a . . .funeral home's live nativity scene."
DRUDGE SAYS "it's only a matter of time." Hell, I told you that last week.

The Gweilo Diaries, ocassionally right, never in doubt.
MY LEFTY PAL Skippy rightly points out that US Attorney General John Ashcroft has trucked with some of the same organizations and played much the same 'wink, wink, nudge, nudge' racial word games as Trent Lott. Ashcroft's past actions are deplorable and would have disqualified him from appointment to a Conrad cabinet (there's a frightening thought, "Quick, order the immediate invasion of Saudi Arabia and get me the Secretary for Bargirls and Tequila"). Any similar comments by Ashcroft in the future should -- and undoubtedly would -- result in his dismissal.

Skippy, if you want to eat your words Shanghainese style, I'll be happy to send you a recipe. After you've finished your meal, I really would be interested in your response to my observation regarding the tendency of Democrats to circle the wagons around, or at a minimum, turn a blind eye to, their transgressors. I think its a very dangerous Clintonian legacy that does real damage to the party and liberal issues generally -- some of which I strongly support.

America benefits from a competitive two party system and neither political party has a monopoly on scallywags and reprobates, but I currently see a moral vacuum at the heart of the Democratic party that threatens to undermine it and hurt the country. For example, any Democratic candidate or office-holder who shakes hands with Al Sharpton should be expelled from the party and disqualified from civil discourse. Yet the wife of the then sitting president of the United States felt compelled to bend over and kiss his big, fat, race-baiting ass. You are now invited to link me to any left leaning site saying that Hillary Clinton should not be a US Senator as a result.
ONE HELL OF a post.
I'M OFF TONIGHT to do the kind of race mixing that would leave Trent Lott's buddies at the CCC aghast. Those good ole boys don't know what they're missing.
BUT HONEY, I only buy it for the articles, really.

"A US woman has pleaded innocent to attempting to murder her husband after discovering pornography beneath their bed."

The wife is clearly a bit high-strung, and the husband, it seems, is no rocket scientist:

"Lori Pratt reloaded her weapon and vowed to shoot her husband if he tried redialing 911. She also asked him for instructions on how to use the gun, which he gave."
I SWEAR it was because of his position on defense issues.

(Via Kathy Kinsley)

Sunday, December 15, 2002

DONT LET THE DOOR hit you in the ass on the way out Trent:

"In an indication of White House wariness about getting squarely behind Lott, sources said Lott sought statements of support last week from national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell but was rebuffed. Both are African American. Some White House officials said it was clumsy of Lott to ask."

Clumsy? Condi Rice grew up in Birmingham Alabama and had a childhood playmate killed in the bombing, by segregationists, of the 16th Street Baptist Church. I wouldn't say it was clumsy, I'd say it was obscene. In the 1960s Lott and his buddies at the CCC wanted to keep Rice and Powell at the back of the bus. Now he expects them to save his fat, lilly white, cracker, ass?

You're history Lott. You're just to fucking stupid to realize it yet.
THOUSANDS OF DEMONSTRATORS took to the street in Hong Kong yesterday. Given the general apathy among Hong Kong people regarding politics, indeed, regarding anything except shopping and making money, the turnout was remakable and must send a clear message of opposition to the administration and Beijing. The question is, will it make the slightest difference?

Mr. Tung, you need to do the heretofore unthinkable -- stand up to Beijing and tell them that the process upon which they have embarked is a disaster. It is essential that a white bill be published for public consideration.
THIS JUST IN: Saudi Arabia still sucks.

"What is less known is that the desert kingdom brutalizes foreigners inside its borders. Western oilfield and medical workers who fall victim to terror attacks in Saudi Arabia are routinely arrested and tortured until they confess to planting the very bombs that maimed them. Canadian biochemist Bill Sampson awaits beheading in a Saudi prison on just such a trumped-up charge."

(Via Tim Blair)
TRENT LOTT does have his defenders. From the group Lott described as having "the right principles and the right philosophy":

"It's not been a good week for freedom of speech or white people in post-American America. Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss) became the latest evil white to be persecuted for his original sin of being born white and for having some consciousness of this fact. It seemed that all the knee jerk left wing yahoos in the country opened their slack jaws to drool that Lott is a racist. Then, some of the similarly mentally challenged and racially neutered conservative yahoos opened their yaps to say Lott isn't a racist. But, of course, these conservatives quickly added that they condemn racism and that some of their best friends are black."

Actually, this particular "mentally challenged and racially neutered conservative yahoo" says Lott is a stone cold racist, but that wouldn't bother you guys a bit would it?

"Sad, sicko raciopaths rule the day, dear friends, and they roil about like maggots in a garbage can eating the flesh of aracial whites who are too stupid to even know they're being repressed and exterminated by those who hate all whites and who seek high profile examples such as Trent Lott to condemn any expressions of white identity. And, the whites who have been weakened by years of trying not to be white, lest any non-white people be offended by their whiteness and white ways, go happily to their genocide rather than standing up and demanding the right to their own self-determination and identity. "

Nope, I didn't think so.
YOU ARE KNOWN by the company you keep (or It Takes One to Know One). From Jake Tapper in Salon.com:

Richard Barrett doesn't understand what's gotten into his friend and longtime political ally, incoming Majority Leader Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. As the world knows by now, at the birthday party last week for retiring centenarian Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., Lott said, "I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president" -- as a segregationist Dixiecrat, in 1948 -- "we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

Lott has since apologized -- and therein lies Barrett's confusion. Barrett, you see, is first officer for the Mississippi-based segregationist Nationalist Movement, and he has long considered Lott an ally in his fight.

"I think he's pulling a Galileo," Barrett says, referring to the Italian astronomer who proved the Earth revolves around the Sun and, tried by the Inquisition in Rome, was ordered to retract his conclusion. "He recanted, but it didn't change the heavenly orbits," Barrett says, "and neither does Trent Lott's recantation make integration moral."

[. . . .]

When did Trent Lott become an integrationist?" he asks. "It certainly wasn't at Ole Miss carrying the Confederate flag. Not when William Colmer put him in his office." After Colmer retired in 1972, he supported Lott, his chief aide, to succeed him, even though Lott ran as a Republican.

And Barrett remembers that November 1994 night, right after Lott was reelected to his second Senate term when, "at his victory celebration, at the Coliseum Ramada Inn, Trent entered the hall and the first person he went up to shake hands with and greet was me. He called me by my name and was very affable."

But has Lott ever specifically talked to Barrett about supporting segregation? Barrett finds the question naive. "Does Jesse Jackson talk to Al Sharpton about integration?" he asks. "Do they have to? Is there some split in the black caucus on that issue? There is certainly no split in Mississippi on segregation. Mississippi is still the solid South."

Barrett says he spent a lot of time on the phone Wednesday night with close advisors to Lott, he says. "We're all like one big happy family in Mississippi. We're the heart of Dixie. I've certainly never heard him say anything in favor of integration, let me put it to you that way."

[. . . .]

In 1981, after Rep. John Hinson, D-Miss., resigned in disgrace, arrested for attempted sodomy in a House office building's restroom, Barrett says he "met with Trent Lott and asked him if he would have any objection to my running to succeed Hinson. He said, 'Of course not, jump in the race.'"

There is no question as to who Barrett was and what he stood for, he insists. "State Sen. Hob Bryan gave a speech on the Senate floor denouncing me, calling me the last segregationist." He's proud of such descriptions. In Mississippi, Barrett contends, he is anything but a fringe player. "I am chairman of the Spirit of America Day," he says. "It's an organization that holds an annual festival honoring Mississippi high school athletes." The Anti-Defamation League describes it as "an annual dinner honoring white male athletes," which enjoys "the support of United States congressmen, governors and local politicians as late as 1984 (long after Barrett's racist views were publicly known)."

These are just white Christian athletes? I ask Barrett.

"They're the leading young people of their generation," Barrett says. "It is the future leaders of Mississippi."

But they're just white, right?

"I won't be race-baited," Barrett says. "They're red, white and blue. They're all-American young people. I will say that the event has been criticized by the Jackson Advocate -- a Negro newspaper -- as a Klan rally." Anyway, Barrett says that "every year Trent Lott sends a letter of greeting and congratulations to young people."

Why is this fucker not gone yet?
THE APPLE doesn't fall far from the tree. According to the New York Times, a young Trent Lott:

"was especially close to his mother's brother, Arnie Watson, a schoolteacher and onetime leader of the county chapter of the White Citizens Councils, which some had called a white-collar version of the Ku Klux Klan. Members wore suits, worked as doctors and lawyers and politicians, and pressed their pro-segregation agenda from within boardrooms and municipal chambers."

In 1999,

Mr. Watson, who was also a board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, made clear that his own views had changed little over time. Blacks "should have been left in their native country," he told The Washington Post. "This mixing races, the Lord didn't intend for it to be that way."

According to Ira Harkey, former editor of The Pascagoula Chronicle, in 1959:

"he received a letter [opposing the integration of Ole Miss] from a woman who told him that if he did not publish her letter it would prove "you are truly an integrationist and I hope you not only get a hole through your office door but through your stupid head." It was signed Iona W. Lott — Mr. Lott's mother.

"I called her, asked if she'd sent it to me, and she said she certainly had sent it to me and she meant every word," said Mr. Harkey, now 84.
TO PARAPHRASE Homer Simpson -- "Movie stars, is there anything that they don't know?"
TANYA has redesigned her site. Cool stuff, go check it out.

Friday, December 13, 2002

ANOTHER REASON WHY I want to marry Condoleeza Rice.

The White House told a visiting Chinese general yesterday that comments he made in 1995 suggesting China would use nuclear weapons against Los Angeles were unacceptable. The discussion came during a meeting between Chinese Lt. Gen. Xiong Guankai, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, and White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

[. . . .]

Gen. Xiong told former defense official Charles Freeman in 1995 that the United States would not come to Taiwan's defense in any conflict with China because it "cared more about Los Angeles than Taipei," the Taiwanese capital. The remark was reported to the White House at the time as a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons against the United States.

This message should have been conveyed years ago during the Clinton adminsitration. That Bush has neither forgotten nor let it rest is an example of why I support this administration.
THIS EXPLAINS a great many things:

A new report released by the American Medical Association (AMA) shows that adolescents and young adults who drink may risk long-lasting brain damage, especially when it comes to learning, memory and critical thinking.

The brain appears to be most vulnerable to alcohol during the very ages when it is being tasked the most: the high school and college years. In some cases, it may take as little as a few beers to cause harm, according to the report, which synthesises nearly two decades of research on alcohol and the brain.

Now they tell me.
SAM FRANCIS at VDare attempts to argue that Trent Lott was right, the US would be better off had Strom Thurmond been elected president in '49. Its not only absurd, its repulsive. Francis, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Had America elected an avowedly racist candidate, running on a segregationist platform, as president of the United States, it would have been a stain upon the honor and founding principles of the Republic that would remain to this day -- just as Mississippi continues, to this day, to carry the stigma of having elected the likes of Theodore Bilbo, Ross Barnett and John Stennis. Fortunately, American's refused to do such a wicked thing, demonstrating that they have far better sense than apparently does Sam Francis.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

AN ANDREW SULLIVAN reader posits the following possible horrible:

"Lott quits (per your howling) in a huff. Not just the Maj Leader, but the whole shootin' match. Mississippi's Democratic governor appoints a Democratic senator, who joins with li'l Tommie D. and the boyz to promise Lincoln Chafee the world and a box of crackers. Final score 49-49-2, Daschle with the gavel, Bush gone in '04. Who's actually setting the party back, Andrew?"

What's your point? Sometimes principles are a bitch. If there were never a cost, everyone would have them.

Plus, I doubt it.
MARK KLEIMAN, having finished helping me flog Eliot Abrams' horse to death, points out, via How Appealing, an extraordinary piece of prosecutorial misconduct in the US.

The issue facing US Senate Republicans is not what came out of Trent Lott's mouth but what lies in his heart. Many, including soon to be Minority Leader Tom Daschle, view Lott's recent remarks as merely a verbal gaffe. I've read several bloggers -- most recently Stephen Green at Vodka Pundit -- who've written some variation of "I don't believe that Trent Lott is actually a racist."

They are mistaken. He is.

Like Trent Lott, I am a Mississippian by birth and upbringing. Mississippi is unique, even among the states of the deep South. Race is the "elephant in the parlor" in Mississippi. Omnipresent, rarely acknowledged, yet impossible to ignore. Mississippians are excruciatingly conscious of racial issues and connotations. Every Mississippian I know can tell you the racial attitude of each of his friends, colleagues, acquaintances, even if they've never directly discussed the issue. We all know how to read the signals and understand the code words -- Walker Percy described it as "social radar." If you are not a Mississippian, I can't explain it to you, and if you are, I don't need to. Lott's protestations of ignorance are utterly unconvincing. No Mississippian is that stupid on this issue. Lott knew precisely what he was saying, he just forgot his audience and imagined, for a moment, he was home with his fellow good ole boys, who'd have nodded knowingly and murmured "hell yeah" and "damn right".

Furthermore, this is not a "one-off". Trent Lott has repeatedly demonstrated his bigotry:

Lott twice publicly expressed his opinion that America would be better off had an avowedly segregationist candidate been elected in 1949.

Lott praised the principles and philosophy, has been a guest of honor at the events, and has likely been a member, of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization that describes itself in a US Supreme Court amicus filing as representing "the millions of Americans of British and European descent who hold to conservative views on matters of racial and ethnic relations" and whose website decries the transformation of US society into "brown glop".

Lott defended Bob Jones University's ban on interracial dating arguing "racial discrimination does not always violate public policy” and that “racial discrimination in the practice of religion is no violation.”

Lott convinced Ronald Reagan to begin his 1980 campaign in Neshoba County, Mississippi -- the site of the murder of three civil-rights workers in the early 1960 and still a bastion of segregationist sentiment. No intelligent Mississippian can pretend not to understand the symbolism of and history associated with Neshoba.

Lott refused to co-sponsor a congressional resolution designating June 21 as Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner Day, in recognition of the three civil rights workers murdered in Neshoba County.

Lott voted against the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Lott opposed the admission of the first African-American, James Meredith, to the University of Mississippi.

Lott led the fight for his fraternity to maintain a nationwide ban against black members.

Lott praised the principles of Confederate President Jefferson Davis (another coded message any Mississippian would immediately understand) in the "neo-confederate" magazine Southern Partisan -- a publication with racial views well beyond the pale.

Lott bemoaned efforts at the University of Mississippi to eliminate the practice of displaying Confederate battle flags at football games.

None of these incidents, on their own, are sufficient to prove the case, but cumulatively they comprise a damning indictment.

I've known Trent Lott's ilk my entire life. He understands that the old-time racism of Bilbo and Barnett, with which he grew up, is no longer acceptable. He'll put on a public mask because that's what's now required. He may even convince himself that he's tolerant. But no one is perfect, and every now and then the mask slips and we get a glimpse of the ugliness behind it. You'll never hear Lott say the word "nigger" in public . . . but he thinks it, of that you can be certain.
CONSERVATIVES have, from the beginning, been in the forefront of those calling for Trent Lott's head. Compare that to the left's reaction vis-a-vis Clinton, Torricelli or former kleagel Robert Byrd. Res ipsa loquitur.

And it doesn't speak well of them.
BYE BYE: One down and one to go.
I LIED: I will not be posting a defense this week of my earlier statement regarding Islam. I am not dodging the issue, the delay is strictly the result of ongoing computer problems that limit my ability to do the necessary reseach and writing. I will post the promise defense next week.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

I MUST HAVE MISSED the UN resolution authorizing this.
I'M NO JIMMY CARTER FAN and I've taken him to task a few time here -- like he gives a shit -- but, I have to give credit where credit is due. Carter appeared last night on the BBC interview program Hard Talk -- hosted by the dimwitted gas-bag Tim Sebastian -- and was sensible and responsible throughout. Carter refused to specifically criticize the Bush administration or second guess US policy and stated categorically that, but for the credible threat of force, there would have been no concessions by Saddam Hussein. Where he disagreed with current US policy, he did ao without attempting to grandstand or undermine.

If you find this hard to believe, you can watch it for yourself online, here.

Carter, I still think you are a menace and one of the least effective presidents in history, but you were a class act last night.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

THE BASTARD SAID IT BEFORE: According to Matt Drudge:

"After a fiery speech by Strom Thurmond at a Mississippi campaign rally in November 1980, Lott, then a congressman, told a crowd: 'You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today'. [The] quotation appeared in an account of the rally on Nov. 3, 1980, in Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss."

You racist sonofabitch. I grew up around this shit. Its precisely the kind of thinly veiled bigotry that Southern politicians of a certain type used in Mississippi circa 1980, when speaking to the voters one would find at a Strom Thurmond rally.

That's it, stick a fork in him. Lott's done.

UPDATE: The Washington Post confirms it. And, to make matters worse, Lott said it following a Thurmond speech praising "states rights." They were certainly working the old code words that day.

Democrats, smelling blood in the water, have finally woken from their slumber. Of course, they'd be just a bit more convincing had they shown similar outrage when former KKK Kleagle Robert Byrd used the "N" word two years ago.

Republicans have duty to ignore the delayed partisian reaction -- Democrats are going to score points with this regardless and it isn't the first time Lott has left them holding the bag for his mistakes. They must either depose Lott or become complicit in his offense. This is a test of the moral character of the Republican Party. Will they pass it?

UPDATE II: As Prof. Tom Spencer notes in the comments below, he has posted extensively on the Lott imbroglio on his site as has Josh Marshall. Check it out.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Based upon an informal sample, consisting of a lone female desk clerk at the Four Seasons in Ubed who really likes phone sex, the answer to your question is -- Yes, they do.
THE GWEILO DIARIES is currently featured among the "Best of Blogs" on MSNBC's Weblog Central. Another step towards my goal of total world domination. Thanks Lien.
MAINLAND CHINESE government officials are involved in the sex trade -- assisting in trafficking Chinese girls as young as 15 across the border to work as prostitutes in Hong Kong brothels. In exchange for payments of between HK$9,000 and HK$23,000 (US$ 1,100 - US$3,000) provincial government officials provide traffickers with the necessary documents for the girls to enter the SAR. According to the South China Morning Post (link requires paid registration):

"The prostitutes' visas - most of them three-month, two-way permits meant for visiting relatives in Hong Kong - are officially issued and stamped by public security officers but carry personal details belonging to other mainlanders."


"[T]he prostitutes, once arrested [in Hong Kong] and sent back to the mainland, can be ransomed back for a few thousand [Hong Kong] dollars from [Mainland immigration] officials at the Lowu border checkpoint."

As one trafficker observed:

"Try doing a background check on those mainland officers. They all have cars, houses and kept women. How can a mainland public servant afford such a luxurious lifestyle?"

The trafficked girls are required to memorize the names, birthdays and addresses appearing on their travel documents. They must also know what their horoscope is, what their 'home town' looks like and what the area codes for long-distance phone calls there. Because discovery at the border crossing results not only in financial loss to the trafficker but can lead to the discovery of the corrupt official and the loss of a source for false documents, "girls who failed the border checks [are] severely punished after being sent back."

Upon arrival in Hong Kong, girls are put up in apartments in Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok or Shamshuipo, where they have sex with between 500 and 1,000 men during the three months their visa allows them to stay. Customers pay HK$260 (US$35) for between 30 and 45 minutes with the girl.

Brothel owners frequently use drugs and violence to keep the girls in line. As one boss explains:

"If you let them go out, they may be poached by other gangs, they may run into trouble, or they may find a boyfriend here and change their mind.

"If that happens, my investment goes down the drain."

"You have to make yourself indispensable to them," he said. "Everyone has his trick. Mine [drugs] is more traditional than other methods."

This is just further proof that the Chinese Communist Party isn't a political organization. Its the world's largest crime syndicate.
WHAT DO the Prophet Mohammed, aging rock stars and the King of Swaziland have in common?

Apparently, the desire to marry a Miss World contestant.
THE DELL TECHNICIAN ARRIVED. My hard drive, mother board and CPU must all be replaced. What the fuck my amah did to my computer I cannot imagine.

But that is not the important question now. The important question is this: Have I backed up my data recently?

Oh, hell no!

Probably a thousand digital photos from my travels to obscure and inaccessible parts of Asia are irretrievably lost.

I tell myself that they are only objects. They cannot love me. I still have the memories. It is not important.

But damn, shit, fuck, hell!

Its a disaster and I have only myself to blame.

Myself and Michael Dell.

The bastard!

Oh yeah, and the amah. Guess who just lost their Christmas bonus? (Hint -- it probably isn't Michael Dell)
THANKS AUSTRALIA: Now the rest of the world can suffer under the Commonwealth system's insane, speech inhibiting, libel laws:

"Business news publisher Dow Jones has lost a High Court bid to have a defamation case involving high-profile businessman Joe Gutnick removed to the United States.

Mr Gutnick wants to sue the company over an article published on a subscription Internet site in October 2000.

But the proceedings were stalled by a challenge over where the case should be heard.

Mr Gutnick argued the hearing should be in Melbourne where the article was downloaded.

Dow Jones wanted the case heard in the US where the article was written and posted on the Internet.

Some of the world's most powerful media companies including News Limited, Reuters and Amazon.com joined the case, employing celebrity QC Geoffrey Robertson to argue that the matter should be heard in the United States where the article was posted on the World Wide Web."

As far as I am aware, this is the first ruling by the highest court in any country on the question of jurisdiction over defamation actions regarding internet published material. It opens the way for any web site operator or contributor (including bloggers) to be sued in the Australian courts, even by plaintiffs who are not resident in Australia.

The ruling is likely to be cited for its pursuasive authority before other Commonwealth courts, including those in the UK, and opens up a Pandora's box for similar decisions throughout the world, including in countries with no concept of freedom of expression.

The good news, to the extent that there is any, is that oppressive non-US awards would likely be unenforceable in the US on First Amendment grounds, but for organizations and individuals with significant assets outside of the US, this is a potential nightmare.

The full text of the High Court's opionion can be found here.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds opines in The Australian on line.

Monday, December 09, 2002

HEY TONY! Are you ready for your new job at the madrassa?

"The suspected spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Bakar Bashir, preached of establishing an Islamic state in Australia in his sermons to Sydney Muslims."

(Via Tim Blair)
A LOUISIANA FAIRY TALE: The Louisiana state Democratic Party chairman thing that the following political advertisement, recorded by a Bill Clinton impersonator, was anti-gay:

"Mary Landrieu is so liberal, she might be closer to Hillary than I am."

Give me a fucking break! This constitutes gay-baiting?!? Besides, after Montana and South Carolina, I'm amazed Democrats have the gall to even raise this issue. If Democrats want to make an issue of homophobic political tactics, they would do well to start at home where there are real examples.
INDONESIA HAS SIGNED what is described as a "peace agreement" with rebels from the province of Aceh. Actually, its more like a cease fire. The pact grants Acehian autonomy but the rebels insist they still seek independence. The Indonesian Army will never voluntarily permit this -- the army correctly fears the breakup of the geographically, ethnically and religiously diverse nation -- and there isn't a political institution in the country with the power to restrain the army on this issue.

I rate the odds at better than 90% that conflict will eventually resume.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG. Precisely one month ago I asked how long it would take the incompetent Trent Lott to hand the Democrats the stick with which to beat him.

The answer: one month.

Absolutely inexcusable. What the hell was he thinking? Will someone please get a gaff and pull this clown off the stage?

UPDATE: David Frum at National Review Online say that Lott must clearly repudiate his remarks or should lose his position as Senate Majority Leader. Not good enough. Had Lott clearly, completely and abjectly apologized and clarified his intent five minutes after making said comments, it would not have been enough. As it is, he didn't do that.

Lott's tribute to Strom Thurmond was beyond the pale. As Andrew Sullivan observes:

"We may be about to ask thousands of young African-Americans to risk their lives for this country. And the leader of the Senate publicly wishes they were still living under Jim Crow. It's repulsive."

Lott is either (a) a politically incompetent moron or (b) a vile racist and a politically incompetent moron. Either way, he's unfit to be in the US Senate much less lead it. If the Republican's do not repudiate him, they are complicit in his offense.

UPDATE II: And it seems he's cruel to animals too.

UPDATE III: Lott has issued a tyical Washington "mistakes were made", "I'm sorry to those who may have been offended" apology. Note that he does not concede that: (i) what he said was objectively offensive; (ii) that he was wrong to have said it; or (iii) that the outrage he caused was justified. Nor does he explain exactly what benign sentiment he was supposedly trying to express. Lott is a disgrace and needs to go.
I RETURNED HOME from Manila to find that my amah did something -- God only knows what -- to my computer resulting in a total crash. Re-booting takes me to an error page which tells me what to do if the problem persists. The problem does persist and it is absolutely impossible to get past the error page to do any of the things suggested. Nice work Microsoft. Are you screwing with us on purpose or do you just not give a damn?

Dell's sending someone out tomorrow. In the meantime, I will be blogging a bit from the office but, since I actually have other responsibilities here, I doubt I will be as prolific as usual for the next few days.
IT SEEMS I WASTED three years of my life attending law school and studying things like burden of proof, elements of an offense, evidence, intent, mens rea, scienter, presumption of innocence, affirmative defenses, etc. My legal practice is going to be so much easier now that Mark Kleiman has demonstrated that all that is necessary to prove an allegation is to say that its true. Thanks Mark, legal scholars from Blackstone to Tribe stand in awe of your discovery.

Kleiman's formulation is simplicity itself:

1. Elliot Abrams deliberately deceived a Congressional committee conducting an investigation.
2. Deceiving a Congressional committee conducting an investigation is a felony (18 USC 1001).
3. Someone who has committed a felony can legitimately be called a felon.
4. Therefore, Elliot Abrams can legitimately be called a felon.

Presto -- Kleiman says you're a felon and you are one. A blogger's conclusory allegation is sufficient to deem Abrams guilty of a crime he was never even charged with. Evidence? We don't need no stinkin' evidence.

Imagine how much easier John Ashcroft's life will be now that an unsupported allegation is sufficient to establish a prima facie case. No need for bothersome little things like filing charges, obtaining an indictment, conducting trials, presenting evidence, persuading a jury or defending an appeal. Now all that's necessary is an conclusory statement that one committed an offense. Furthermore, in interpreting what he claims to be the applicable statute Kleiman ignores important elements like materiality, knowledge and willfulness, and assumes intent from thin air.

The amazing thing is that Kleiman is a self-described liberal. Isn't a virtue of the left supposed to be its concern for civil liberties and the rights of the accused. I guess, for Kleiman, it depends on whose rights we're talking about.

The fact is that a special prosecutor with an unlimited budget conducted an extensive investigation into Eliot Abram's conduct. That prosecutor declined to file felony charges or seek a felony indictment. Instead, he accepted a guilty plea to a misdemeanor. Federal prosecutors do not accept misdemeanor pleas when they believe they have sufficient evidence to prove a felony (unless the defendant is providing evidence against others which Abrams never did). Federal prosecutors are not benevolent people. They do not, as Kleiman asserts, "allow you" to plead to a lesser charge. I speak from experience on this point, having represented a few targets in my time.

In short, a special prosecutor concluded there was insufficient evidence to support the charge that Kleiman makes. If Kleiman has new evidence against Abrams that somehow eluded Lawrence Walsh and the FBI, I wish he'd share it. Otherwise, I wish he'd do the decent thing, accept the outcome of the legal process, and stop calling Abrams something he is not.

Finally, Mark, you seem to have taken my previous post personally. It was not intended that way. However, I continue to assert that calling Abram's a felon is neither (1) necessary to your argument against his appointment or (2) an honorable thing to do. For what its worth, I enjoy your site and thought your piece on the constitutionality of anti-sodomy laws, was very astute.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

GLENN REYNOLDS points out the following excerpt from this speech, for which Iranian professor Hashem Aghajari was sentenced to death:

Non-Muslims Too Have Inalienable Rights

"If we, as Muslims of divine and perfect Islam, value mankind, and say that [people] are human beings regardless of religion, even if they are not Muslims, even if they are not Iranians, such as Turks, Kurds and Lurs,[8] whatever they may be - [we should say that] they are human and they have inalienable rights."

That this even needs to be asserted, much less that it is controversial and, indeed, grounds for a death sentence, demonstrates why Islam is, at its heart a false, empty, hateful, and failed religion.

I know there are those who will gasp at the preceding sentence. It is not a conclusion I have reached easily or happily. I have many close Muslim friends who would be deeply hurt and offended were I to share this conclusion with them. Yet I am convinced it is true and I am prepared to defend it in detail upon my return next week, if anyone is interested.

UPDATE: Wow! Did this comment ever result in some interesting and thoughtful e-mail. I guess its time for me to put-up or shut-up. Computer problems notwithstanding. I'll post a defense of my assertion later this week.
A BOMB EXPLODED at a McDonald's restaurant in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, killing three Indonesians. My girlfriend is from Makassar. Thankfully, she's in Singapore and even if she weren't, is anorexic and unlikely to be anywhere near a McDonald's.

Just teasing Honey.

(Thanks to reader Chuck Herrick for pointing this out)
I'M OFF TO MANILA today, returning on Sunday. I'll be blogging little if any until I return. Have a good weekend.
AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: The Boston Globe reports Catholic Church documents which reveal:

"that a priest had initiated sexual acts with teenagers preparing to become nuns by encouraging them to believe they were making love to Jesus Christ himself."

[. . . . ]

[T]hree women made similar accusations: that [Rev. Robert V.] Meffan, under the guise of spiritual counseling, had molested them about 25 years earlier when they were high school students and, later, when preparing to enter the convent. He encouraged them to ''be brides of Christ'' and described himself as ''the second coming of Christ,'' they said.

The women alleged that Meffan regularly invited them to his bedroom or visited them in their religious houses, where he would invite them to undress and ''link spiritual stages with sexual acts,'' including fondling, kissing of genitals, and encouraging them to ''mentally masturbate.'' He ''did anything'' but intercourse, one woman told church officials, because he said that was for ''the afterlife.''

[. . . .]

Another woman alleged that other priests were aware of Meffan's involvement with teenage girls and even joked about it, calling Meffan's office ''the tank.''

[. . . .]

But despite the complaints, and a senior church official's conclusion that Meffan was unbalanced, Cardinal Bernard F. Law in 1996 had warm words for the priest as he approved his retirement.

''Without doubt over these years of generous care, the lives and hearts of many people have been touched by your sharing of the Lord's Spirit. We are truly grateful,'' Law wrote."

Touched the lives and hearts of many!?! Actually, Your Eminence, it sounds like he touched a bit more than that.

Revelations like these are great fodder anti-Catholics and those who are hostile to Christianity. I am not among them. I am a Roman Catholic, and not by birth but by choice, having converted as an adult. I take no pleasure in this. My faith and personal inquiry as to the nature of God, are a very important part of who I am. Lately, however, I find myself struggling with the question how I can remain a part of this Church in light of its corruption and utter moral bankruptcy.

Its a very difficult question and, as yet, I have no answer.
BLOODY HELL! Blogger has managed to delete my all my archives prior to November 1. Nice job. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to getting my new site up and running.
ALL ABRAMS ALL THE TIME: Mark Kleiman has written a convoluted seven paragraph rebuttal to my post below, in an effort to justify calling Eliot Abrams something he manifestly isn't.

Abrams is not a felon. Honesty and civility therefore require that he not be called one.

Glenn Reynolds apparently doesn't think much of Kleiman's argument either.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH! The Rev. Thomas Reese, a priest and editor of the Jesuit magazine America, explains why the Catholic Church failed to take action against sexual abusers:

"[P]riests are taught to be nonjudgmental as part of their profession, and that could lead them to give other clergy a pass when things seem awry."

Nonjudgmental!?! God forbid that priests make moral judgments. What business do religious leaders have distinguishing between right and wrong? Who the hell do they think they are, Christ's representatives on earth? Sodomizing underage parishoners is just another lifestyle choice. Musn't be judgmental.

Their training doesn't seem to prevent the clergy from making judgments about US foreign policy or what kind of car one should drive. Are these issues more important or less ambiguious than the anal rape of young boys by their spiritual leaders?

Bloody fucking hell!

Nonjudgmental Jesuits. I never thought I'd see the day. . . .

Jesus wept. I don't know what else to say.

Iraqis Accuse U.N. Inspectors of Provocation and Spying

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq protested sharply Wednesday over U.N. weapons inspectors' surprise intrusion into one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces, accusing the arms experts of spying for the Israelis and Americans and staging the palace search as a provocation that could lead to war.

(From the Associated Press)
COMBINE TWO PREVALENT Mainland Chinese traits, spitting and unruliness on airplanes and you get this:

First-time flyer tries to open plane door -- Singapore Straits Times

A man in China flying for the first time in his life tried to open the plane's door because he wanted to spit.

He made his move just after the China Southern Airlines plane took off from Shenzhen. Members of the flight crew found him trying to open the emergency door. He'd already managed to open an inner cover plate and a passenger was trying to restrain him.

The Straits Times says he told the crew he wanted to spit. He was arrested when the plane landed in Shanghai.
NOW THEY'VE GONE too damned far.
THE INDONESIAN POLICE have an abysmal reputation but, to give credit where it is due, they seem to have done nearly everything right in the aftermath of the Bali bombing. Their latest success:

"Indonesian police say they have arrested the alleged operational chief of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an al Qaeda-linked militant Islamic group blamed for several terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia, including October's Bali nightclub bombings."

I have been very skeptical that the Indonesian authorities had the will or the ability to take action against the responsible parties. Happily, I may have been wrong. Go figure.
THE GWEILO DIARIES just had its 10,000th visitor (and 13,800th hit). A drop in the ocean compared to the big boys, but given that I've been blogging for less than three months, I am pretty pleased.

Thanks to all who made achieving this milestone possible through their links and referrals. Most notably Glenn Reynolds, Tony the Teacher, Skippy, Charles Johnson at LGF, Tim Blair, Tony Pierce and Tanya. Special thanks to Diana Zubiri. Who would have imagined that the mere mention of a B-list Filipina starlet would result in a thousand new visitors? If only I'd written "FREE DIANA ZUBIRI NAKED LESBIAN SEX PICS", I'd be at 100,000 visitors by now. But that would be pandering and I refuse to stoop so low.
SADDAM HAS an admirer:

"Then there was Hannah. How to explain her? A frightfully well-spoken Englishwoman in her early 50s. When we first met, she dispensed with the small talk to say: "I think Saddam is a great man and the USA is a great big global bully. My theory is that he should be given Kuwait. It's perfectly logical if you look at the map."

"I think he's rather handsome too," she went on. "Every woman does really. I'd rather like to inspect his weapon of mass destruction myself." Sorry, what was that you said about ... "Oh, people say how can you say that, but I say, how can you support Bush when he is about to murder so many Iraqis? Hmmm? We must show our solidarity with Saddam."

Sorry Hannah, I dont think you're his type:

"Saddam also has a taste for virgins—who, among other desirable qualities, are thought to be less disease-prone. In one anecdote related by Hamza, a young woman who pleaded with the president for aid after the death of her father ended up losing her virginity after having been given a beauty makeover and left naked on a bed to await his (wordless) pleasure. Although she was let go with an envelope of money, other “young, beautiful, and flirtatious” women who have serviced Saddam find themselves retained as virtual slaves to clean the apartments of his nomenklatura. Or else not retained at all; Hamza tells of one who was discovered in a bathtub with her throat slit."

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

DISTURBING SEARCH QUERIES: Oh Dude, that's disgusting.
RAE-ANNE, if you're reading this, you ought to send your resume.

Via Tony the Teacher
DEFAMATION WATCH: Thomas Spencer, an assistant history professor at Northwest Missouri State University and a blogger, and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, call White House aide Eliott Abrams an "Iran-Contra felon." Careful boys, libel suits can be expensive. Abrams is not a felon. Abrams pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress. Misdemeanors are not felonies. The difference is not trivial. I have a few misdemeanor convictions on my record from my overly exuberant college days. If anyone called me a "felon", either a lawsuit or a punch in the nose would follow.

Abrams refused to plead guilty to felony charges. Had the special prosecutor believed he had sufficient evidence to convict on a felony, he would not have accepted the plea arrangement and would have gone to trial.

Furthermore, Abrams was subsequently, and in my mind properly, pardoned by the senior President Bush, thereby freeing him of the taint of even the misdemeanor charges.

Abrams is not a felon. You guys screwed the pooch on this one and owe Abrams an apology.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit points out that Skippy and Spencer are not the only offenders here. And professor Reynolds is right that an actual lawsuit over the comments in question is extremely unlikely. Which doesn't change the fact it isn't right.

UPDATE II: Professor Spencer has quietly deleted the word felon from his post. He has not, however, acknowledged the error or offered an apology for his mis-characterization. Pretty shoddy behavior if you ask me. Skippy expressly acknowledged his error in a subsequent post. The professor could take a character lesson from the marsupial.

UPDATE III: Professor Spencer has now -- graciously, except for his last paragraph -- acknowledged his mistake. I will add but this, Bush's hiring of Abrams is not an ethical issue. It is an issue of judgment. Abrams is a very smart guy (full disclosure, I shared a podium with him once at an international law seminar and was impressed with his insights). Bush, I believe, felt comfortable hiring him because (1) he is able and (2) Bush believes he did nothing improper. Absent the pardon, I do not believe he would be a part of this administration. Fair minded people may question Bush's assessment of Abrams' culpability, but I think one must be wearing partisan blinders to view this as a consciously sleazy move.