Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert

by Ted on August 30, 2004

HASTERT: You know, I don’t know where George Soros gets his money. I don’t know where — if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from. And I…

WALLACE: Excuse me?

HASTERT: Well, that’s what he’s been for a number years — George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he’s got a lot of ancillary interests out there.

WALLACE: You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?

HASTERT: I’m saying I don’t know where groups — could be people who support this type of thing. I’m saying we don’t know. The fact is we don’t know where this money comes from.

Readers are invited to share some of the other things we don’t know. If we’re creative enough, maybe the Speaker of the House will share them with the world next Sunday.

Via Kevin Drum. Welcome back.

UPDATE: Suggested by R. Robot, here’s a useful chart comparing George Soros to Reverend Moon.

A little more on Tariq Ramadan

by Ted on August 30, 2004

Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam has a few posts (here and here) about the decision of the State Department to deny a visa to Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan. Ramadan was to begin teaching in the fall at Notre Dame. (See also Chris’s post on the subject.) A spokeswoman for the State Department:

said Mr. Ramadan’s visa was revoked under a legal provision that bans espionage agents, saboteurs and anyone the United States “knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, is engaged in or is likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity.” She said she could not provide any details about Mr. Ramadan’s case.

I don’t know much about Ramadan, and no scholar is owed a visa. However, I’ve just read Daniel Pipes critical article about why Ramadan should be denied a visa (linked by Silverstein). His evidence alone doesn’t sound like it’s strong enough to keep him out of the country.

It’s maddening. I don’t like second-guessing this sort of decision, and it’s absolutely possible that there is good reason to suspect Ramadan. If that were true, the State Department probably shouldn’t be sharing their suspicions in great detail. But… if there’s real reason to suspect this scholar will engage in felonies while teaching at Notre Dame, why would the State Department invite Ramadan to reapply for another kind of visa?

“The man says he is Irish, he is also drunk.”

by Kieran Healy on August 30, 2004

Ireland “won a gold medal”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/olympics_2004/equestrian/3606042.stm at the Olympics this year, but after the “appalling intervention”:http://sport.guardian.co.uk/olympics2004/athletics/story/0,14782,1293496,00.html of ex-priest and arch-gobshite Neil Horan in the “marathon”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/olympics_2004/athletics/3610598.stm, Cian O’Connor’s performance in the showjumping competition wont’ be remembered as Ireland’s main contribution to the games. Dressed in a kilt and green hat with a handwritten sign on his chest reading “The Second Coming is Near,” Horan attacked the leader of the race, Brazil’s Vanderlei de Lima, at around the 21-mile mark. He knocked the guy over into the crash barriers. Amazingly, de Lima got up and — though he looked like he was in agony — continued running, only to be beaten into third place. Horan’s last public appearance was at the “British Grand Prix at Silverstone”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/northamptonshire/3081921.stm last year, where he ran onto the track. You’ll notice from the “news photos”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/northamptonshire/3081921.stm that he was wearing the same outfit then as now.

I am of course horribly embarrassed on behalf of Ireland generally, and I hope some of Horan’s “sneaking regarders”:http://www.the-kingdom.ie/news/story.asp?j=10631 back home will be feeling bad now that they’ve pissed off the whole of Brazil and forever burned their already-slim chances of hitting it off with any of their volleyball players. At the same time, I despaired at the behavior of the Greek officials at the race. Although de Lima had a policeman riding alongside him, and the route was lined with people in official T-Shirts, and this was supposed to be games with the highest degree of “camera surveillance”:http://edition.cnn.com/2004/TECH/08/10/olympics.security.ap/ in history, Horan had no trouble running out onto the course and attacking the leader. The crowd reacted faster than the police. Even if you didn’t know that Horan had a history of interrupting major sporting events, you’d think that _someone_ at the race might have suspected that the guy in the leprechaun costume with a Star of David on his leg and a message about the end of the world plastered to him _just might_ have been planning to do something when the leading runners and the TV cameras hove into sight.

Privatised humanitarian interventions?

by Daniel on August 30, 2004

Richard Ingrams is an old fart, a homophobe[1] and an anti-Semite[2] and I have suggested on a number of occasions to the Observer’s letters editor that amost anyone else would make better use of the space that newspaper provides him every week. But this week, he has a quite interesting point that I think bears discussion.

His subject is Mark Thatcher, who has managed to get himself arrested on suspicion of financing a coup in Equatorial Guinea. Ingrams notes that it would be rather unfair in the current political climate if Thatcher does get found guilty and thrown into jail, because after all, everyone would agree that Equatorial Guinea’s current President is a thoroughly bad man and the Guineans would be better off without him in power. True, Thatcher and his alleged co-conspirators had no real plan to deal with the aftermath of their coup (other than securing the oil wells) and actually make the Guineans better off, and true, many people suspect that their motives were not entirely purely humanitarian, but the Butler and Hutton reports have established that this isn’t even a reason for anyone at all to lose their government job.

The serious issue raised by this joke is, if we accept the logic of the “strong version”[3] of humanitarian intervention, then why should we also say that it is only the job of states to carry out such interventions? Since, ex hypothesi, any special position for states is ruled out by the strong pro-war internationalist liberal stance, why shouldn’t groups of private individuals take action? For example, Harry’s Place has five main contributors, each of whom could probably raise about $200,000 if they took out a second mortgage; maybe they should be ringing up Executive Outcomes and getting a few estimates in on smallish African states. Why leave this to the government?

[1]In my opinion, although given his history at Private Eye I think it would be pretty hypocritical of him to sue me
[2]Specifically, he has in the past suggested that Jewish journalists should identify themselves as Jews when writing about Israel; some people might consider this to be anti-Zionist rather than anti-Semitic but to be honest I’m not interested in arguing such a ludicrous point.
[3]By this I mean the version pushed in the pro-war blogosphere, under which any intervention that removes a bad regime is by that token good. Not the rather stronger criterion used by Human Rights Watch.