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Fasten, fit closely, bind together.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Cartoon 

I thought this was pretty funny also.

http://www.msnbc.com/comics/editorial/prc041030.gif
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New York Daily News 

Some people may not care about this because it is the Daily News, but I think that their reasoning for endorsing Bush is some of the best I've seen.


The News endorsed Clinton and Gore in the three races beginning with 1992, each time judging their domestic agendas in the best interests of the American people. But it is no longer Sept. 10th. The world has changed. And nowhere has it been more tragically altered than in New York. And nowhere are the stakes higher.
As the preeminent symbol of America, this city remains Ground Zero, primary target of Islamic radicals. How best to win the war against terror so the country and its leading city emerge from jeopardy is the overriding concern in the election. The News believes Bush offers the stronger hope in this urgent regard.
Tested severely by 9/11, Bush recognized it was not enough — it had never been enough — to treat Islamic terrorism as a criminal-justice matter, or just to hunt down Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen. The President had two crucial insights: First, that rogue states were a grave threat in that they could provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists as a force multiplier. And, second, that the Mideast's backward, repressed societies were generating virulent, homicidal hatred of the U.S. . . .
Kerry has promised to be tough on terror. His words are resolute — he will hunt down and kill terrorists — but they betray a skittishness about the exercise of American military power, conjuring up endless diplomacy before action while reducing the fight against Al Qaeda and cohorts to cell-by-cell skirmishing.
Forged in Vietnam, where he was both valorous and appalled by U.S. policy, Kerry has long been uncomfortable with the use of American might. Witness his senatorial votes against defense and intelligence spending proposals. And witness his vote in 1991 against giving the first President Bush authority to drive Saddam out of Kuwait, a step that was compellingly necessary to prevent Saddam from becoming a dominant force over the Mideast and its oil.
There's no doubt that Kerry has become more realistic since then, but his votes for and against the war and his shifting campaign rhetoric raise grave doubts about what, exactly, a President Kerry would do in Iraq.

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Friday, October 29, 2004

Gulliver's Travels 


Our boat approaching an island off of Hanoi.


The traffic in Saigon is out of control. Everyone and their mother owns a motor bike.


We were at this Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Wat Pho, and found this basketball court sitting right behind it. Looks like a good setting for NBA Street 2005.


This girl didn't take it so well when I told her I wouldn't be purchasing any dragonfruit from her.


Here's St. Nick at Marble Mountain. Kind of blurry, but there isn't much lighting inside a cave.


I think its pretty obvious why Bird Flu is a problem. The chickens are getting even with us for keeping them in such tight quarters.


Here's some Muay Thai boxing.


We went to Monkey Island in Halong Bay. The Lonely Planet tourbook described monkeys on this island as, "a fairly good source of rabies."


However the only problem I had was that one of them stole my can of coke.



But in hindsight, I got off easy because this German woman next to me got one of her sandals grand larsoned.

Not everything in Southeast Asia is cheeky monkeys and motorbikes. Southern Thailand is known for it's beaches and beautiful landscapes, but its rapidly becoming the next hotspot for global Jihad. The three southern provinces that border Malaysia are home to over 6 million Muslims. They want to secede from Thailand. Thailand's prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been taking a strong stand against these three provinces. Thaksin is a shady character. Earlier this year he declared a war on drugs, claiming he would send drug dealers to 'meet the prince of Hell.' He then sent the police on a spree, killing over 800 suspected drug traffickers, no trial, just swift enforcement.

Two days ago the Thai army suppressed a protest, arresting over a thousand Muslims. They bound and gagged many of them. Over 80 suffocated to death. Muslims were outraged. Indonesia, the world's most populated Muslim nation, did not take too kindly to it. It seems likely that global Jihadists will take an interest in Thailand, using it as a new front on the war against the West. With all the Western tourists, such as yours truly, flooding the country's island beach resorts, it looks like a Bali-style nightclub bombing may be in the cards. Thaksin needs to take it easy with the suffocations and the executions.

That being said, I'm leaving tonight to go to an island resort. Godspeed. Gotim.
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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Halliburton  

The most recent post I have written, addressing what I have called Bushocrats, has led to a lot of serious comments that have encouraged me to look further into the actions taken by Halliburton and its subsidiaries during the Iraq occupation. Firstly, I wanted to find out how a private firm goes about getting a contract from the federal government. Secondly, I wanted to find out who judges the validity of these contracts, and if they have been driven by any kind of political agenda. It is certainly obvious that my lack of confidence in our current President has led me to make some bold accusations, and in doing so I have questioned his integrity in relation to other, former Presidents. I have gotten the attention of some strong Bush supporters, and their points have been well taken. In the most unbiased way possible, here is what I have found:

In regards to the question dealing with how a private firm gets a government contract -

Initially, it seems apparent that when the government in this country puts out a request for service the most highly capable firms apply, and the most competent, most economically efficient firm wins the contract. This is how Halliburton got into the business, from all of the information I have seen, they reportedly have done excellent in their ability to get the job done. In addition their efficiency seems to be, again, excellent. Halliburton has maintained that they received contracts to maintain oil infrastructure in Iraq because they were simply the most capable of getting the job done right. It seems that once you get a contract from the government, you really have to do something wrong to lose their trust in future jobs. In other words, you stay at the top of the pile unless you’re caught cheating or sleeping.

In regards to the question dealing with who reviews the integrity of the awarded contracts, both before and after they’re signing -

The job tends to go to the Army corps of engineers in the case of Halliburton and other infrastructure jobs requiring massive rebuilding. They work as an intermediary between the government and the firm, reviewing the proposed offer to complete the job and the corresponding price tag. Once negotiated, a deal is met and implemented.

Now, from the top on down, accusations have been flying all over the left about the integrity of the contracts awarded to Halliburton, specifically to its subsidiary Kellog Brown and Root (KBR), who is dealing specifically with the oil infrastructure in Iraq since the invasion. The truth, according to FactCheck.org is that Halliburton, whether committing any crime, has not been officially charged with one. It is wrong to suggest they have cheated Americans and are working with this administration in back-door deals to make that really bald white guy rich when their has been no action taken from a legal perspective. John Kerry has regularly opposed the no-bid contracts to Halliburton because he sees them as unfair deals that are only taking the interests of a few into consideration. I admit that I joined the bandwagon because it was one more thing to throw on the Bush fire. For that I want to apologize. But I cannot completely go out in shame, and I hope you weren't thinking I was about to.

Recently a woman named Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, a civilian employee who works for the Army Corp of Engineers, has brought to light the way in which the Halliburton contracts went down. She is the highest civilian employee in the company and is maintaining that the offer for reconstruction efforts in Iraq were laid out in a request months before the invasion and given solely to KBR, giving them time to prepare a plan, while other firms were unaware of what was unfolding. Like I said earlier, it is customary practice for the Pentagon to continue a relationship with a certain firm so long as they get the job done right, but not in back door rooms where executives from the potential awardee can listen in and throw in there two cents. Questions are being raised, again by a brave whistleblower, about not only the way on which KBR received the contract demands early and was able to negotiate the substance of the contract, but also about the length of the contract. She was prepared to offer no more than one year of no-bid competition for Halliburton's KBR to do oil reconstruction in Iraq and then open up the bidding for all firms capable of the job at the end of that year. The Pentagon, however, and the Army Corp handled friendly negotiations with Halliburton executives and discussed issues that should have remained private to bidding firms. So a five-year contract was awarded, for billions of dollars, all while miss Greenhouse was voicing concern. Eventually, the contract was shortened to one year, and other firms were brought to the table. Halliburton remained to have the largest stake in the oil reconstruction effort. If Bunnatine's case is successful, proving that their was a conflict of interest when Halliburton was awarded contracts for reconstructing Iraq's oil infrastructure, the victory would go down in history as the second coolest thing in the world, behind her name. But it would give some validity to the claims made by Kerry and company, and provide more gas for the Bush fire, instead of more hot air.

N Dot, I look forward to drinking a beer with you and NOT talking about politics, as we seem to be divided on the issues. However, our underlying interests are the same I think, and as much as I hate admitting to supporting largely false claims I am glad I found out the truth on the issue. As for Spidey, Halliburton is going to make money on this venture; I think we all know that. I regret your assumption that I have no respect, maybe you could explain why you think that way, in as un-biased a way as possible, as I just tried to do in this post.
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Now I Can Die 

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A 'Bushocrats' Leader 

A week before the election and I still don't know what a 'bushocrat' is?? I must be dumb. I could not have gotten this close though without the help of N Dot. For that I must thank him. I have heard it is something like the force, all wisdom like. Powerful. But before I draw any conclusions Yoda is insisting I come back to finish my training. Their is a lot of information to review. After all, it has been four years.



A 'bushocrat' certainly did not exist before September 11, 2001. That was a bad day. That was a bad day for EVERYONE. But the dark side flourishes in the bad, it grows in it, gains respect in it, and strips people of their natural born rights in it. We must start from there. True 'bushocrats' did not exist when the worst thing an arch-rival could do was to get some mean intern top in the oval office, did they? No way.

Giving up alcohol for God? Cocaine and Alabama elections, but NO draft? Being the boss of your dad's buddies? Choking on pretzels? Sounds more like 'bushocrat' material by the question mark. And his white-haired, semi-bald buddy, he has got to be close. Enron? Blackouts? They didn't plan that thing? Power is in the air tonight, I can feel it .To take from gotim, you're suspect! So...

We invade Iraq, Suddam Hussein is left to be nothing more than an ace in the deck, and the war on terror [ackward] is in full effect. But wait, two years later and American heads are still rolling? literally? and bombs are blowing up trains that normal people are riding? The coalition will prevail? We do have Poland... the evil stands no chance. Poland, 'Bushocrats?' no, I don't believe it. I think some politics are being played here. Not to worry, that long-winded guy forgot about them. He's finished. His yellow bracelet and I wanna knock out Laura Bush-I make ketchup wife, definately not a 'bushocrat.' He's not from Texas, he doesn't have a chance at being so jedi.



Iraq, still. "I don't even know why we're over here fighting." I am trying to figure it out myself. I don't know if Daniel Planap, marine corporal, qualifies as 'bushocrat' but I think he is on to something. And back home, home on the ranch... the cost of oil has jumped 75% this year ALONE, the dow jones reached its highest point of the year on friday and I think it is safe to say that some investors are scared. They can feel the dark side. Support the troops. You better. 50 Iraqi volunteer policemen were shot in their heads yesterday, so its more action for the Daniel Planap's of Iraq. "We did not foresee the size of the insurgency, nor their resources." Don't say that, you guys were on a roll. Sounds 'bushocrat' to me.

[ He cut me off. "That's not how the world really works anymore, he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do." ] Gotcha. 'Bushocrat?' I'd say so. Hard to see past the frankness of a senior George W. Bush advior. I am still waiting for the return of the jedi though.







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Monday, October 25, 2004

What a Riot 

There's a storm brewin' in New York City that I think may have been flying under the radar over these past few hectic election weeks. Let's go the map!



People, it looks like we're seeing a pretty strong cold-feelings front moving in from the liberal east coast that's going to merge with some hot air rhetoric from Anti-Bushocrats on the west coast. Now that looks like it has a possibility of mixing with some electoral college results over the swing states, where there's already a chance of some pretty heavy Republican voting participation. With this happening in high-pressure areas over states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, it could mean some nasty weather conditions for the rest of the country.

Right now I'm seeing a 65% chance of riots in New York.

Where am I getting this weather forecast from if not from the friendly folks who do weather on Fox News? Well, Elizabeth Edwards for one made a rather telling comment this weekend that I think we at Billiken should consider for a second. Now I've always kind of liked the vice-presidential hopeful's wife, thinking she seemed pleasant enough in her plump and jolly, well-fed rich lawyer's wife kind of way, so I'm not going to harp on the woman too much here (though I did begin to have second thoughts when Missus Edwards, the corpulent ying to John Edwards' yang, alleged out of nowhere that Dick and Lynn Cheney were ashamed of their daughter for being a lesbian - but forget that for a second). About this comment, I think the woman makes a point that we may have been ignoring.



So what did Edwards Donuthands have to say that caught NDot's attention? Well, when a supporter expressed concern that riots may break in Pennsylvania after the election, she said

Liz Edwards: Uh.....well...not if we win.

Not if we win, eh? As long as we all vote Anti-Bushocrat in this election, says team Kedwards, everything will be all right and we won't have to worry about the bullhorns, burnings, bongos and other silliness that will inevitably accompany the rabid malcontents if they spill back out into the streets. One is inclined to agree; given even the travesty that would be electing an insufferable fake and traitor to the White House in a place of an actual leader, conservatives would be more likely to take their painful loss quietly and keep their discontent indoors.

But if Dubya secures another win? Well, you hadn't thought about that have you, Manhattan-dwelling Billiken readers. But you know there's nothing the ABs like better than a protest-riot party, and in what is sure to be a tight election they have the perfect excuse. With only 8 days until the election, I guarantee you the most ardent Anti-Bushocrat orcs have already gone on a bathing strike in order to maximize pungency when their bitter, repellent odor wafts into Union Square. Dreads are being prepared. T-shirt slogans revamped. Effigys are in construction. Armpits across America are going unshaved.

Torches? Bricks? Weapons? These are the variables in post election 2004 hysteria. It would be patently unfair for me to associate impending violence and destruction automatically with Anti-Bushocrats who are going to righteously pissed but want only to be heard (and smelled). But I see enough anger out there on my Anti-Bushocrat Emotional Weathermap to put up a storm warning. These are the people, remember, who destroyed property and lashed out at NYPD in midtown in the weeks after 9/11 to protest the WTO meeting. Should the president win reelection, I for one see a thin line forming between the ABs who deserve our mocking and a mob that deserves our reckoning. Most likely they'll do their usual routine: Union Square will reek for a few days and there will be minor property damages will be the norm. Or, there could be an all-out Anti-Bushocrat fiasco that makes Gangs of New York look like a toddler's temper tantrum. All NDot is saying is be on your guard.



As we are located north of Union Square, my boss suggested we don't show up for work on November 3rd if the man wins, suspecting the worst. Could be unnecessary, alarmist even - but NDot will take that day off anytime. You can find me in Union Square with a fat Bush-Cheney T-shirt and a hammer in an undisclosed location.
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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Sox victory sign of impending doom?? 

If an analogy between the Red Sox and the haughty French looking democrat from Massachusetts, who also served in Vietnam, can be made, should I root against the Red Sox?? How could I root for the Sox if they are supposed to symbolize the liberal candidate? Also, how perfect would that comparison have been if the Astros had won, and we had a Texas-Mass. World Series and election?

I've waited my whole life to see the Sox in the World Series, and now here they are. But, along with that they have the unfortunate timing of playing right before the election. Kerry and his aides have been brain-storming to come up with the best way for the Red Sox to positively affect his campaign. The aides have told Kerry that an appearance at a stadium would be ill-advised, because politicians usually get boo-ed at sports events. Is there any doubt that Bush would be at the games if the Astros won the National League Pennant? And doesn't this unwillingness to root for the home team look an awfully lot like how Kerry is rooting for France and other countries in Europe over the home team (the USA)?

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Democrats Give Out Crack to Pay for Fake Votes 

Check it out. This is not an article from The Onion , people. I guess after fake CBS documents, The Kedwards "Cheney has a gay daughter!" routine, the DNC voting handbook telling democrats to allege voter intimidation even if there wasn't any, and now this, there's probably a lot you'd could say at this point about the desperation of Anti-Bushocrats in the country and the level they will stoop to get a win.



But there's nothing you really need to say at this point, is there?
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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Re: Explain the John Kerry Statement Challenge, Part II  

It is easy to take specific parts of an entire response and compare them to specific parts of another and find contradictions on the surface. Republicans have mastered the art and ran with it through their entire campaign, they deserve credit for that, in doing so they have made John Kerry look like the politician he is to all of America. However, just as you [N Dot] said in your response to a comment made about Bush making similar contradictions, by looking at only the surface of something and then making a claim to the idea trying to be made is often misleading. You called it an exaggeration, however, the truth is that it is just wrong.

I had no interest in making any kind of response to your challenge, but when you said that comment you made it too hard not to. It made it seem very obvious to me that your interest in pointing to Kerry's supposed "flip-flopping" was not in the genuine truth behind his reasoning, but instead to merely undermine his position and give your boy Bush a boost. The truth is that both Bush and Kerry make contradictions in policy positions all of the time, and so does every politician, if you want to look at it the way Republicans have recently defined it. By looking at the result of an implemented policy you supported and deciding that, based on the results, that now a different course of action is necessary for success you are not contradicting yourself, you simply have re-evaluated your position based on the results of an action. I thought a contradiction was saying one thing and doing another, maybe I am wrong though?

If I did support Kerry and his position on Iraq and Saddam Hussein I would defend the two comments you grouped together in making a case for a contradictive stance by saying this:

In response to the first quote, ”Well, let me tell you straight up: I've never changed my mind about Iraq. I do believe Saddam Hussein was a threat. I always believed he was a threat. Believed it in 1998 when Clinton was president. I wanted to give Clinton the power to use force if necessary,” Kerry is saying that he is recognizing the potential danger posed by Hussein, and that IF NECESSARY he supports the use of military force. IF NECESSARY means that he [Hussein] is an immediate and direct threat to the security of American citizens based on intelligence information and no other means of stopping him exist.

In response to the second quote,"And what's interesting is, it's a threat that has grown while the president has been preoccupied with Iraq, where there wasn't a threat,” he is responding to a question that obviously involved some other nation or group that threatened American citizens, and the level of that threat was greater in Kerry's opinion than the threat Iraq was believed to be posing to American citizens. "...where there was not a threat" is not contradicting what Kerry said in the first quote, because based on the information that has been gathered SINCE the invasion of Iraq, no weapons of mass destruction have been found that would pose a threat to American citizens, as was believed by both parties based on false intelligence presented before the invasion.

The threat that Saddam Hussein posed was real, nobody is denying that, not even Kerry. That does not mean that the threat was so great to American citizens, or even greater then the threat several other countries posed, to warrant the deployment of American troops, hence the phrase IF NECESSARY. You spent no time analyzing either of the quotes you used to support your argument; you simply took them out of context and used them to support the invasion of Iraq. That is mindless, misleading, and ultimately baseless, and only takes things at face value, which even you expressed concern for in your comment.

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Even Anti-Bushocrats Should Be Able to Agree 

....the Bush women are blazingly hot. Admit it.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Explain the John Kerry Statement Challenge, Part II 

The last time we had an Explain the John Kerry Statement Challenge, it seems no Anti-Bushocrats were up to the task. No one even took a stab at it! I don't blame you guys, of course; it's tough to actually justify the inane babble the senator puts forth as a foreign policy, and much, much easier just to slap on a few Anti-Bushocrat buttons or bumperstickers and call yourself politically enlightened.

But we're giving you a chance to redeem yourselves here with this second challenge. Remember people, the stakes are high: if you can explain to me the contradiction found in the following statement with any, ANY degree of logic, NDot will wear an authentic Anti-Bushocrat button of your choice from now until Nov. 2nd. This is all about my own education people - I'm counting on you.

This is from the last debate (which a lot of AB's seem to think Kerry somehow won), and frankly it makes me feel like I've been taking crazy pills.

First he said, in response to a question about his flipfloppin':

”Well, let me tell you straight up: I've never changed my mind about Iraq. I do believe Saddam Hussein was a threat. I always believed he was a threat. Believed it in 1998 when Clinton was president. I wanted to give Clinton the power to use force if necessary.”

Then, not even a half hour later in response to a question about Iran - in the very same debate, mind you:

”I don't think you can just rely on U.N. sanctions, Randee. But you're absolutely correct, it is a threat, it's a huge threat.

"And what's interesting is, it's a threat that has grown while the president has been preoccupied with Iraq, where there wasn't a threat.”

As of now I'm operating on the assumption that anyone we would elect to office should be able to decide - given years and years to make the call and even being able to refelct on the outcome - if a world power presents a threat. Note he does claim "I have never changed my mind." But if anyone is up to the Challenge of explaining how this makes any degree of sense I am certainly waiting to hear it, cuz I feel like I'm in Alice in freakin Wonderland over here watching this guy talk.



Anyone?
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My Boy's Wicked Smart 

From the AFP:

Nobel laureate calls for steeper tax cuts in US

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Edward Prescott, who picked up the Nobel Prize for Economics, said President George W. Bush (news - web sites)'s tax rate cuts were "pretty small" and should have been bigger.



"What Bush has done has been not very big, it's pretty small," Prescott told CNBC financial news television.

"Tax rates were not cut enough," he said.

Lower tax rates provided an incentive to work, Prescott said.

Prescott and Norwegian Finn Kydland won the 2004 Nobel Economics Prize for research into the forces behind business cycles.

The American analyst, who is a professor at Arizona State University and a researcher at the Federal Reserve (news - web sites) Bank of Minneapolis, said a large tax cut in 1986 had lowered rates while collecting the same revenue.

But "in the early '90s the economy was depressed by the tax increase in '93 by about four percent, and it's right at that level now," Prescott said.

Bush, who is fighting to get re-elected November 2, has cut taxes by about 1.7 trillion dollars during his term.

The US leader accuses his Democratic rival John Kerry (news - web sites) of favoring tax increases, despite Kerry's promise to cut taxes for everyone earning less than 200,000 dollars a year.


Paul Krugman and others who are sippin Haterade on the tax cuts, how many nobel prizes have you won for economics? Oh wait, zero - my bad.
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Monday, October 11, 2004

Score One for Political Courage 

With our own presidential election heating up during a week where Yankees and Red Sox are preparing for an equally bitter play-off rematch, it doesn't come as much of a shocker that the collective American attention span has little appetite for a slice of the Australian political pie. But given that Saturday's Australian election represented a major test of international support for the current administration's policies in Afghanistan and Iraq and has profound significance for our electoral battle here, it's a slice we here at Billiken would have to serve up hot - with a scoop of NDot biased opinion on the side. As Arsenio would say, Mmmm mmm - that's some good-ass pie!



Quick take: The reelection of Prime Minister John Howard gives anyone serious about fighting terrorism a reason to crack open a Fosters in celebration. The disparity in resolve and vision was clear going into this weekend: while Prime Minister John Howard has long been a strong ally of America in general and was committed to supporting the United States in the Afghan and Iraq wars, Labor Party leader Mark Latham had run on a firm Anti-Bushocrat platform (or the Australian equivalent) and had committed his party to bringing home Australian troops in Iraq by Christmas. Had Latham claimed a victory, it would surely have been seen as a dramatic setback for the American president and British Prime Minister who claim international support for the intervention in Iraq, as well as a sign of weakening resolve in the face of a terrorism threat that has already been successful in replacing a US ally in Spain with a Socialist government that ran on an Anti-Bushocrat platform (or the Spanish equivalent). It would have been celebrated exuberantly by the following, in no particular order: France, Germany, terrorists, Middle Eastern despots, the United Nations, various international NGOs, the DNC, and other Anti-Bushocrats throughout the world.

Thankfully, Howard won. And not only won, but cleaned up; after three terms in office - when most voters are getting a little sick of seeing your mug and hearing whats coming out of your pie-hole - Howard actually increased his majority to a big dog 30 seats and gained control of the Senate, marking the first time since 1981 that the conservative Coalition has controlled both Houses.

In other words, it's John Kerry's turn to scowl. While the Kerr-bear has been on the mic dissing our allies ("that's not a grand coaltion!"), flip-floppin' around on whether the undertaking was a mistake or not, and vehemently trying to convince the world that international support is crumbling, its genuinely inspiring to witness the victory of a leader who took an unpopular stand and stuck with it, ultimately convincing his electorate that an Australian alliance with the US that has been strong since 1917 was worth keeping. Score one for political courage abroad - even as some of us once arrogant and self-assured are a bit more nervous about its victory at home.

Still confident, though. Same with the Sox.

Speaking of events abroad, the Billiken readership still awaits word of our intrepid correspondents in Thailand. Gotim, St. Nick - are you receiving our signal? Over.
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Monday, October 04, 2004

Coalition? 

After the events last week, both in this country and abroad, I find it hard to swallow the argument made by George Bush in the presidential debate last week that a strong coalition exists, and is unified in the fight against terrorism. Sadly, just days before, it seems that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi surrendered to terrorist demands, paying one million dollars to the men who kidnapped two Italian women in Iraq on a reconstruction effort. Now, although Italy was not mentioned in the list of nations associated with Bush's coalition in the debate, it is possible that Kerry forgot to mention the Italians like he did Poland, but that is unlikely, as the President made no reminder after the fact like he did with the Polish. Nonetheless, this is a terrible display of what happens when you ignore U.N. recommendations and try to muster together something you call a coalition in spite of those recommendations.

By giving in to the kidnappers, Berlusconi has set a precedent for other nations who face the same situation in the future; heed to their demands and they will be compliant. This is a complete disaster for the so-called coalitions' efforts, because it has completely undermined the idea of not dealing with terrorists. Now nations who are not directly affiliated with the coalition will be less of a target because of their direct defiance of American policy. In addition, America will seem even more of a unilateralist because of Italy's reaction to the hostage situation. As a result, American soldiers and peacekeepers will become even more susceptible to similar situations, like the beheadings we have seen in recent months.

It seems as though Bush is confident in his reconstruction effort, and he has decided that not only is negotiating with terrorists unacceptable, but negotiating with other, peaceful nations is just as bad. He has clearly shown the world that he could care less whether or not they agree with his ideas of democracy and the need to promote its ideas across the world. He admitted having a hard time sleeping at night knowing he put soldiers in harms way, maybe his loss of sleep has made him cranky, and tough to negotiate with as a result. I don't know if I can give him the benefit of the doubt though.
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Friday, October 01, 2004

Editor's Note 

As Zwill alluded to, I am leaving tomorrow on an extended trip to Thailand and Japan, among other places. I will still be performing my own special brand of investigative reporting from abroad. As long there is an internet connection and news for me to make fun of, I will do so. If anything I will be ahead of the game, a whole 11 hours ahead of you NYCers, with your Eastern Standard Time.

It's great to see so many people, old and new, contributing on Billiken. The political posts have dominated of late. I think the dialogue, however heated it gets, forces us all to be better writers and become more informed. Let's remember though it's all in good fun, and let's try not to take everything too seriously. There's plenty of news out there that is begging for commentary.

Keep your ear to the street.
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