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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Arguments Against a Recount

Republican Daniel J. Evans gives some good reason's why not to have a hand recount in the Washington Governor race. I find his arguments to be persuasive, I wonder though if he would be making them if it was Rossi who was behind by 42 votes? That of course is the test of principles. That being said, I don't think that this means the Democrats who are asking for a recount are unprincipled, rather that they have different principles. As I noted to some friends in during the 2000 recount, the positions of the parties were remarkably similar to their overall philosophies. From a general point of view, Republicans tend to think that people should succeed or fail on their own merits and failure should not be rewarded by the government cleaning up after you. Democrats on the other hand have a general belief that failure is not a persons fault and the government should have a 'safety net' for when you screw up. This of course was mirrored perfectly in the dispute about what should be done about failed or mispunched votes. The cynic in me of course wonders if this alignment of positions with philosophy was in fact due to principles or if it was simply happy chance that their principles matched the most favorable position for them each to take.

Raich v. Ashcroft

Here is a great resource on the Raich v. Ashcroft Supreme Court case. Basically the case is about whether the Federal Government has the power to regulate medical marijuana under the inter-state commerce clause of the constitution even if the activitiy in question neither crosses state boundaries or is commercial in nature. My personal belief is that the constitution doesn't give the Federal Government the right to outlaw drugs even when the activity is commercial and crosses state boundaries (thats why we needed an ammendment to outlaw liquor after all) but regardless of that, this case is very interesting, and probably the most important case the Court has heard in a while. This bit here gives a feel for how important this case is:

I've seen nothing in the Government's materials that gives them a good answer to the question "If we overturn Raich, can you name any activity that is outside the reach of the Federal government?"
Should the Government win this case, Federalism will be effectively dead. (via Caffeine Dreams)

Ivory Coast Update


French soldiers opened fire on crowds of angry youths during days of mob violence and looting in Ivory Coast earlier this month, French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said. French forces had previously said they fired warning shots during the unrest, but Alliot-Marie told France's RTL television on Sunday night the troops had most probably "made full use of their weapons" in some cases. The mob violence erupted after government forces killed nine French soldiers and an American aid worker in a bombing raid on the rebel-held north, prompting the former colonial power to destroy most of Ivory Coast's small air force in retaliation.
But isn't France an enlightened country unlike the barbaric Americans?

Monday, November 29, 2004

ADHD news


Brain scans of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder show abnormalities in the fiber pathways along which brain signals pass, scientists said Monday. The finding indicates the disorder may be more than just a chemical imbalance, they added.
Very interesting stuff. This bit here seems to be good news:
In another study, Ashtari found the brain irregularities diminished in children who had been medicated with stimulant drugs for an average of 2 1/2 years. "The findings ... indicate that the therapeutic effect of stimulants may involve a brain normalization process," said co-researcher Sanjiv Kumra, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York.
I remain somewhat skeptical of both current diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. Not because I don't believe phychological disorders are real diseases, but I am leery of our ability to understand the minds of children and concerned that we no little about the long term effects of such drugs. Many people do legitimately need drugs to live a complete life. Many ADHD children may also need drugs to achieve and be happy. On the other hand though, it is not completely a fable that madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. I think that as much as possible, people should try to avoid mental medication. Being like everyone else can be a comfort, but it might prevent you from being unique. This of course does not apply to suicidal or severely handicapped people. Further, I think that people should make their own choices in such matter (or the choices for their children) and it is inappropriate to judge someone as we can never know what it is like on the inside. On the other hand, I am cautiously interested in the potential for mental 'performance enhancing drugs' not to say that I don't have the same concerns with them as I do with the more tradition medications, I certainly don't think we know enough yet. But long term, the potential for this and genenetic engineering is intriguing.

Aids Vaccine

Fox News:

It worked in mice. It worked in monkeys. And now in humans, a therapeutic vaccine has stopped HIV in its tracks. The vaccine is made from a patient's own dendritic cells (search) and HIV isolated from the patient's own blood. Dendritic cells are crucial to the immune response. They grab foreign bodies in the blood and present them to other immune cells to trigger powerful immune system responses to destroy the foreign invaders. HIV infection normally turns these important immune system responses off. But animal studies show that when dendritic cells are "loaded" with whole, killed AIDS viruses, they can trigger effective immune responses that keep infected animals from dying of AIDS.
Very exciting news. The downside of course is that for a while, perhaps a long while, this sort of custom made vaccine is going to be hideously expensive. That means rich people will be able to get it and poor people won't. It especially means that for the immediate future, this will be no help to the millions dying in Africa.

Vaccine Court

This article on the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is very interesting reading. There is a lot of stuff in it that I didn't know about previously. The underling issues are some of the most interesting to me. I don't think that anyone would argue that the people who make the polio vaccines and similar products provide a valuable service that saves huge numbers of lives. The unfortunate fact though is that for a small number of people these life saving medications themselves cause horrible problems. It is fairly obvious to me that in such a situation it is wrong to make the vaccine makers liable for these results. The current system, despite it's apparent flaws, which the article points out, seems to me to be in theory a decent compromise. If it wasn't for the fact that a vaccine is a pubic good, as well as a private good I might think differently, but the public as a whole benefits greatly from limiting the spread of contagious diseases and preventing epidemics. So a court, backed by a government controled fund, designed to ease the fears of people taking the vaccine that any possible negative effects will at least in part be mitigated is probably a worthwhile public goal. The problem seems to be, as with many worthwhile public goals, the difficulty in implimenting such a system. Too lax a system and a lot of fraud slips in, possibly undermining the system itself. Too stringent a system causes many deserving people to go without compensation, also undermining faith in the system. Striking a perfect balance is probably impossible, and even a perfect balance would allow some of each problem to occur, with both extemes probably recieving more publicity than they deserve. I am not sure that there is an answer to this but it is something worth thinking about.

Florida Northwest

Here is an interesting Op-Ed on the Washington Governor race.

But is it? It certainly isn't more precise, as the fiasco of Florida's chad counting proved in 2000. "When you're talking about close to 900,000 pieces of paper, I think the machine count is going to be more accurate than a manual count," Dean Logan, the elections director of King County and a Democrat, admitted to reporters. "Every time you have human judgment and frailty enter into the process it will change the result," agrees Bruce Chapman, a Republican who served as Washington's secretary of state before becoming director of the U.S. census in the 1980s. In an interview, he said a hand recount will likely result in bitter litigation that will see the courts intervene to settle the dispute. John Carlson, a Seattle talk show host who was the GOP nominee for governor in 2000, worries that "this state's reputation for clean government may not survive the bitter struggle that appears about to begin."
Perhaps next election we can get some Afghani's here to teach us how to run an election.

More on the Future of Media

This CNN Article has all sorts of implications.

IBM, Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. on Monday unveiled some key details on the powerful new "Cell" processor the three are jointly producing to run next-generation computers, game consoles and TVs. ... "In the future, all forms of digital content will be converged and fused onto the broadband network," Ken Kutaragi, executive deputy president and COO of Sony, said in the release. "Current PC architecture is nearing its limits." ... Sony said it would launch home servers and high-definition televisions powered by Cell in 2006, and reiterated plans to use the microchip to power the next-generation PlayStation game console, a working version of which will be unveiled in May. Toshiba said it planned to launch a high-definition TV using Cell in 2006.
It has long been predicted that TVs and Computers will merge to become a single, all purpose item. I expect that too an extent that is true, but I think that that appliance will mostly be an 'entertainment' device. The more 'work' related aspects of computing I think will be migrating toward a net based solution with the primary interface being more akin to cell phones than a computer. Obviously this will be a blurry line, and all the various hardware will connnect together, probably in ways that are difficult to see now. In any event, don't get too comfortable. Lots of things are changing.

The Future of Media

Check out this interesting, and well done, speculation on the future of media. (via Instapundit)

Friday, November 26, 2004

You say you want a revolution II

This New Scientist article on Chinese blogging is fascinating. This bit is especially cool:

Asked whether he has a strategy to expand blogging under China’s censorship regime, his response is Taoist: “What is our strategy? We do not have a strategy. But the information flow in the blogosphere has its own Way. The Way is our strategy: personal, fast, connected and networked.”
(via Instapundit)


The bloggers of Iraq the Model have formed their own political party. Go read the post. I don't know how anyone can read the Iraqi blogs and not have faith that Iraq will emerge as a strong, democratic nation.

Photos from Fallujah

Check out these photos from Fallujah. (via Powerline)

Help Support the Troops

Glenn Reynolds has put up this good list of charities designed to support the troops. I have contributed to a couple of these organizations in the past and plan to do a bit more this holiday season. If you are so inclined, this is a good starting place. Another charity I strongly reccommend is Spirit of America.

More on UN corruption

Wretchard at Belmont Club has a long post on UN corruption, ranging from sexual predations to the Oil-for-Food scandal. Well worth reading. Toward the end of his post he quotes Edward Mortimer, Kofi Annan's Director for Communications, in the Washington Post who, in an attempt to defend the UN's own internal investigations says:

Also, Mr. Annan has said that any U.N. official found guilty of wrongdoing will not be allowed to claim immunity from prosecution.
Very interesting weasel words here. IF they are found guilty they will not be able to claim immunity from prosecution. I assume that that means as long as they are not found guilty they can claim immunity from prosecution. One wonders of course how someone who can claim immunity from prosecution can in fact ever be found guilty. I have said before that the IDEA of the U.N. is something I support. The actuality in fact leaves much to be desired. I don't know if any reform, however drastic, would be able to change the culture at the U.N. and make it an accountable body.

You say you want a revolution

The Australian:

THE Ukrainian Government's control over nationwide television was broken today, a key factor in maintaining support for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, when a station began covering opposition demonstrations that have gripped the capital. The pro-government private channel 1+1 said in a statement yesterday that it decided to begin providing "objective information" after having halted news broadcasts since Monday when journalists refused to operate under censorship. The first reports of the mass opposition rallies in the country were aired in the dawn hours of today.
Kim Stanley Ronbinson wrote in his Red Mars Trilogy that political power derives from a look in the eye, not the barrel of a gun. I expect that Yanukovich is not happy with what he is seeing in the eyes of his people today. Hopefully Putin will also take note and steer Russia away from a similar course.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Giving Thanks

I just want to take a minute to thank all of my readers, especially those who take the time to comment on what I have written. It is always a joy to get feedback. I've been doing this blog thing for about half a year now. Obviously I am not a big name blog or anything but it is great seeing visitors from all over the place and with a wide variety of views. Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully the visit is worth your time.

Ray Bradbury

Bradbury is one of my longtime favorite authors. Yesterday he did an interview with Neil Cavuto.

"We're the alien life," Bradbury, now 84, told FOX News. "Mars is empty. It's only waiting for us — it's a threshold for future generations. The future is vast, and we will become the Martians." Bradbury thinks the dwindling interest in space travel needs to be rejuvenated by sending astronauts back to the moon. "We should never have left the moon," he said. "We should go back now. It should be the base for going back to Mars." ... "The most wonderful night was the night we landed on the moon," Bradbury said. "The whole world celebrated. We were doing something for the world — something peaceful. Instead of destroying, we were building."
Mars is the next step for humanity, it is something we should do because we can and because we must.

We have a Governor


Republican Dino Rossi came out ahead of Democrat Christine Gregoire by just 42 votes Wednesday in the recount for Washington state governor, and the Democrats are expected to demand yet another recount. The contest was the United States' last undecided race for governor. The machine recount of 2.8 million ballots left Rossi just 42 votes ahead of Gregoire, the state attorney general. That makes it the closest governor's race in Washington history. Rossi had also won the original tally, but his 261-vote margin was so small it triggered an automatic recount.
Guess my vote counted. I wonder how many legal challenges will be mounted...

Mother locks 7 yo in Trunk


A mother who left her 7-year-old son locked in the trunk of a car while she partied in a bar has pleaded guilty to child abuse and false imprisonment. ... Powell was arrested during her birthday celebration on August 23 at a bar in San Diego's Ocean Beach neighborhood. A witness had alerted police that the boy was in the trunk of Powell's Volvo, which was parked outside. The boy was found in the trunk with a pillow and a sleeping bag. Police said Powell told them she put the boy in the trunk for safekeeping when she was unable to find a babysitter.
Now I agree that this is irresponsible and a bad judgement, but child abuse and false imprisonment seems a little extreme to me. Is sending a kid to his room false imprisonment?

Lets hear it for the Marines

Janan Ganesh writes in the Time Online:

THE MOTTO of the US Marine Corps is Semper Fidelis, or “always faithful”. And faith is exactly what the Western media eschew in their relentlessly cynical coverage of the American Armed Forces, which plunged to a new nadir last week with the outrage at a Marine who shot dead an injured and unarmed Fallujah terrorist. Their determination to portray the Americans as trigger-happy louts and the Iraqi terrorists as mere “rebels” slanders the former, sanctifies the latter and betrays everybody who trusts journalists to be objective. Each American transgression is covered exhaustively and reproachfully, while triumphs, such as the trouble-free elections in Afghanistan and the reconstruction of Iraqi infrastructure, are treated as background noise. The torture of a few dozen prisoners in Abu Ghraib, for example, received far more attention than the restoration of the Marsh Arabs’ homeland.
I am glad that our nation, and the Marines are held to a higher standard. That is a good thing. It is not so good when the standard become so high that every possible infraction is used as evidence that the mission is a failure or lacks moral legitimacy. Mistakes will be made, even by good people trying to do good things. That is an unfortunate fact of war. It is not however, an excuse to do nothing.

A Change in Europe?

Tony Blankly opines in The Washington Times the Europe, catalyzed by the murder of Theo van Gogh, is now ready to fully enter the War on Terror.

This Christmastime could be the moment when Western Europe finally joins our war on terrorism. Anti-Islamist fear and anger from the mouths of the European volk is breaking through the surface calm perpetuated by the elite European appeasers. The assassination and mutilation of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic fanatic — and the retaliatory firebombings of mosques by ethnic Dutchmen — have forced high European leaders and news outlets to begin to publicly face up to the implications of September 11, 2001 and the migration of Muslims in large and hostile numbers into the heart of Europe.
I am not sure that he is wrong about this, but it is interesting to note the differences here between Europe and America. Blankly says in his article:
Heating the German national broth is the re-emergence of a call for German "Leitkultur," the term for the dominant and guiding culture. Der Spiegel quotes Christian Democratic leader Joerg Schoenbohm: "In the Middle Ages, ghettos were founded to marginalize the Jews. Today, some of the foreigners who live with us in Germany have founded their own ghettos because they scorn us Germans. Those who come here have to adopt the German Leitkultur. Our history has developed over a thousand years. We cannot allow that this basis of our commonality be destroyed by foreigners."
America has no similar concept. There is no such thing as American 'Leitkultur' the closest we have is an every changing pop-culture and a heritage of being a melting pot. Similarly, while there was some violence directed at Muslims after 9/11, it was extremely minor. Holland has expirienced more anti-Muslim activity following the murder of van Gogh than America did after the murder of 3000 of our citizens. I expect that the two differences are not unrelated. While I certainly hope that Europe gets serious about the War on Terror, I admit to being a little nervous about the manner in which it will do so. To put it bluntly, their are strains of European culture that we have fought wars to stamp out. I don't want to see the War on Terror become transformed in Europe as a means to revive those dark impulses.

Good for us

ABC News:

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday the United States cannot accept the results of elections in Ukraine, which the opposition says was marred by fraud. Powell warned "there will be consequences" for the United States' relationship with Ukraine as a result of the developments in the former Soviet bloc nation.
This is a very important election for Ukraine and will likely determine the course of that nation for a long time. America should firmly stand on the side of a fair democratic practice. My gut feeling is that the Ukrainian people will prevail here and be able to develop a true democracy. The support of the U.S. and other democratic nations is very important in that process though.

Steps toward Peace


Insisting it was time for peace between Pakistan and India, Pakistan's prime minister said Wednesday that the two nuclear-armed rivals had the chance to "prove the pundits of gloom and doom wrong." "After nearly half a century of acrimony and tensions, Pakistan-India relations are now at a historic crossroads," Shaukat Aziz said in a speech to Indian business leaders after meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "If India takes a step forward, Pakistan will respond by two," Aziz said. "Let us both prove the pundits of gloom and doom wrong."
This is a very hopeful sign.

It's a Miracle!

Miraculous Hello Kitty Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Religious Law Schools

This article on a religiously oriented law school has caused some interesting commentary in the blogosphere. Chris, at Dagger in Hand, has posted the best analysis I have seen of this so far. Highlight:

1) Don't these schools merely represent the rise of what one might call "Critical Christian Studies" (hereinafter "CCS"), just as we have long had critical race and critical gender studies? Like all crits, these people subject the law to radical criticism from the perspective of a given set of values, and assert that because the current system of legal decisionmaking gives insufficient weight to those values, the resulting "rule of law" lacks legitimacy. I think it's fair to say with regard to any of the "crit" schools of thought, that the more strongly a judicial candidate adheres to it, the less likely he is to feel morally bound to apply established legal rules where that would lead to results his ideology deems unjust. I think, therefore, that to be consistent on this score you would have to say that anyone who is "highly inclined to view the law through the prism of critical race theory" should be regarded as being at least as unfit to be a judge as one who views it "through the prism of Christian dogma." Do you disagree
I believe that their must be a moral standard that is higher than the law of the land. It is what we use to determine if our laws are correct. Their are differing views as to what the source of this higher standard is, some view morality as being source in a particular religion, others from the human intellect or natural law. Whatever you believe to be the source of moral principals though, it is worth remembering that we are all human and our moral judgments and interpretations will fail. That being the case, it is useful to foster a wide variety of views in our society, to allow us to test one interpretation against another. I believe that people of good will are likely to arrive at similar moral conclusions regardless of what they perceive as the source of morality, but often a divergent viewpoint can enlighten us as to blindspots in our moral view.

Ukrainian Democracy

Here is a new portal site dedicated to news about the Ukranian Elections. Included in the site is a statement by Vaclav Havel:

Dear Citizens, Allow me to greet you in these dramatic days when the destiny of your country is being decided for decades ahead. You have its future in your hands. All trustworthy organizations, both local and international, agree that your demands are just. That is why I wish you strength, perseverance, courage and good fortune with your decisions. Yours truly, Vaclav Havel
Arthur Chrenkoff notes that Poland, unlike the rest of Europe is strongly supporting democracy in the Ukraine.
President Kwasniewski also said that 'right from the start, Poland was of the opinion that these elections are the exam of Ukrainian democracy'... According to the President, Ukraine failed that exam... "Kwasniewski, recalling Polish's long-standing policy towards Ukraine, said that Polish aim was always to bring Ukraine closer to the EU and NATO. He admitted that this policy had not found any takers [in the West]. He underlined the fact that many Western countries prefer to 'sacrifice relations with one country for the sake of relations with another'."

You Are: Palpatine

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

A mastermind of maneuvering surrounding forces, you care little for the concerns of those in your way. Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Personality Test

Myers Briggs Jung Explorer Test
Actualized type: INTP
(who you are)
INTP - "Architect". Greatest precision in thought and language. Can readily discern contradictions and inconsistencies. The world exists primarily to be understood. 3.3% of total population.
Preferred type: INTP
(who you prefer to be)
INTP - "Architect". Greatest precision in thought and language. Can readily discern contradictions and inconsistencies. The world exists primarily to be understood. 3.3% of total population.
Attraction type: INTP
(who you are attracted to)
INTP - "Architect". Greatest precision in thought and language. Can readily discern contradictions and inconsistencies. The world exists primarily to be understood. 3.3% of total population.

Take Myers Briggs Jung Explorer Test
personality tests by similarminds.com
(via Nome)

Wealth in surprising places


When Genesio Morlacci left $2.3 million to a small college here, many people were astonished at the wealth amassed by a man who operated a dry-cleaning shop and later worked as a part-time janitor in retirement. But to those who knew Morlacci well, his bequest came as no surprise. "He was a fellow who felt that if you didn't need it, you shouldn't buy it," said Joe Marra, his former attorney. "Gene," as he was known, wanted to help others obtain the formal education he never had, Marra added.
Obviously he was a very good man, not to mention thrifty.

Ivory Coast Shooting

Here is a good round-up of the possible French shooting of Civilians in the Ivory Coast.

Dan Rather to leave CBS evening news

ABC news:

Dan Rather announced today he will step down as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" on March 9 — 24 years to the day after his first broadcast as the network's anchor. Rather will stay with CBS News, working full time as a correspondent for both editions of "60 Minutes," and taking on other assignments as well.
My only question is why is he still going to be working for 60 minutes. That is the program that got him in trouble in the first place. Look for a lot of blog-gloating today.


This is bad news for Democrats.

The center of the Republican presidential coalition is moving toward the distant edges of suburbia. In this month's election, President Bush carried 97 of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties, most of them "exurban" communities that are rapidly transforming farmland into subdivisions and shopping malls on the periphery of major metropolitan areas. Together, these fast-growing communities provided Bush a punishing 1.72 million vote advantage over Democrat John F. Kerry, according to a Times analysis of election results. That was almost half the president's total margin of victory. "These exurban counties are the new Republican areas, and they will become increasingly important to Republican candidates," said Terry Nelson, the political director for Bush's reelection campaign. "This is where a lot of our vote is." These growing areas, filled largely with younger families fleeing urban centers in search of affordable homes, are providing the GOP a foothold in blue Democratic-leaning states and solidifying the party's control over red Republican-leaning states.
A few days ago, Brian at Broken Quanta put up this post about how demographic density is a good predictor for voting patterns. Dense areas pretty much always vote democrat while areas with sparser populations vote Republican. I expect that a number of factors influence this, but quality of life is probably not the least. If you are generally happy with the way things are, you live in a nice town with a nice (not necessarily expensive) house and are comfortable with your neighbors, you are likely to have a 'conservative view'. For you, there are no huge problems that need fixing and the status quo is worth maintaining. Added in, you are more likely to have kids, which raises your concerns on moral issues and you quickly become the typical Republican voter. Conversely if you live in a large city, in a small apartment with neighbors you barely know and no deep connections to a community you are more likely to be dissatisfied with the way things are. Add in that you are more likely to be single and free-wheeling and you are a pretty typical democrat. For a variety of reasons, not the least being continued economic good news, this flight to the new suburbs is likely to continue. Good for Republicans, probably good for the county, but bad for Democrats.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Good News from Iraq

Arthur Chrenkoff has a roundup of good news from Iraq in the Wall Street Journal. While car bombs and fighting in Fallujah are more exciting stories, the good news is just as important.

Letter to the Marines

Kevin Sites, the reporter who filmed the shooting of the injured Iraqi in Fallujah, has written an open letter to the Marines where he explains what he saw and why he released the film. Very interesting reading. I think that he behaved responsibly, although it is unfortunate that the incident has been turned into pro-Insurgent propaganda. As for the actions of the Marine, it is difficult to tell if they were justified or not. I am sure the truth will come out in the inquirey and, unlike our enemies, if the rules of engagement were violated he will be punished. Mistakes will be made in wartime, that is part of the price. It is unfortunate though that in the world of fast-paced media, judgements are made before the facts are known.


This USA Today article talks about the inadaquacy of our current approach to potential bio-warfare and what steps should be taken to prepare for this type of theat.

The trouble with Project BioShield is that it invests in technical solutions to detect known agents and to treat known threats. But it offers no equivalent investment in planning, analysis and research for stronger surveillance, international collaboration and other approaches that are needed to prevent the spread of new, potentially devastating biological weapons. Its game has little or no offense — and certainly not enough to win the bioterrorism game.
While the ideas they present are good, they are probably not sufficient. To put it plainly, with current and emerging technologies (technologies that are by and large beneficial) the capability to create bio-weapons is increasing at a phenomenal rate. These technologies will be in wide use and defending against any possible misuse of the technology is probably impossible. What is even more frightening is that this bio-warfare will probably be able to be used by individuals with minimal funding, perhaps even a lone crazy with a medium sized bank account. There is nothing we can do to stop such a person in advance, and probably little we can do to halt the damage before it becomes devastating. This will be one of the great challenges of the next century.

Presidential Power


With Cheney's renouncing presidential ambitions, it is known in advance that the Bush Administration will die in January 2009 without an heir. What does that mean? Late in Bush's term, it will mean terminal lame duckness, even more powerlessness than most late presidencies experience. Who, after all, will be around later to reward and punish? No one. But early in Bush's second term, the fact that Bush-Cheneyism will never have to seek popular ratification again gives Bush unique freedom of action. Which, in the hands of a President with unusually ambitious goals, will yield perhaps the most energetic — to some, the most dangerous — presidency of our lifetime.
This situation leaves Bush incredibly free to act without political considerations. I consider this to be a good thing, but I can certainly see why those who fear Bush's policies would be nervous. The next four years a likely to hold a lot of changes, probably the most dramatic since the '80s. Certainly the last four years have been busy, but all of the radical changes were in the foreign policy arena. The next four years will see a continuation, perhaps even an escallation of that sort of thing along with signifigant changes in domestic concerns.

Friday, November 19, 2004

No confidence in Kofi

Channel News Asia:

UN employees were readying on Friday to make a historic vote of no confidence in scandal-plagued Secretary General Kofi Annan, sources told AFP. The UN staff union, in what officials said was the first vote of its kind in the more than 50-year history of the United Nations, was set to approve a resolution withdrawing its support for the embattled Annan and UN management.
It will be interesting to see what happens with this.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Red States: Not so Homophobic?

This Washington Post Article about a gay teen in Oklahoma who came out and was subjected to protests by Fred Phelps, the ultra-conservative gay hater, is an interesting read. (hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Fish have feelings too

Yahoo! News:

Animal-rights activists have launched a novel campaign arguing that fish are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat.
I have never eaten cat (unless those rumors about Chinese restaurants are true) but I have had dog a few times and found it quite good. Now, I don't advocate eating the family pet (that would be a bit creepy) but unless you have a pet tuna I don't see how eating fish would be a problem. (via Ann Althouse who has some interesting comments on the anthropomorphization of the mascot as well.)

Memo about stopping leaks leaked


The Central Intelligence Agency's new director has called on his staff to stop leaking damaging top secret memos as he seeks to control what President George W Bush sees as one of the more recalcitrant and even mutinous arms of government. ... "As agency employees, we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies," he said in an internal memo that was leaked yesterday.
This whole issue raises interesting questions. One the one hand, CIA and other government employees should be doing what the boss wants done and not trying to set policy on their own. One the other hand, if improper actions or misuse of facts should be released to the public for scrutiny. Of course the irony of a memo about stopping leaks being leaked is delicious.

Latest news on Iranian Nukes


The United States has intelligence indicating Iran is trying to fit missiles to carry nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said. Powell partially confirmed claims by an Iranian opposition group that Tehran is deceiving the United Nations and is attempting to secretly continue activities meant to give it atomic arms by next year. "I have seen intelligence which would corroborate what this dissident group is saying," Powell told reporters Wednesday as he traveled to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago, Chile. "And it should be of concern to all parties."
Can you say "Regime Change"? I knew you could.

Poetic Justice

CNN Money:

E-mail users inundated with unsolicited "spam" messages have reason to hope Microsoft Corp. will develop better tools for tackling the problem: Bill Gates is suffering more than anyone. Gates, Microsoft's chairman, gets 4 million e-mails a day and is probably the most "spammed" person in the world, his Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said Thursday.

A fallen Hero

Read this post on Belmont Club.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Washington State Governor

For those of you from other States, you might be interested to know that the elections still arn't over for us here in Washington. Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi are less than a couple hundred votes apart in a race that is headed to a recount. More info here. For the record, I voted for Dino Rossi. I dislike Christine Gregoire because of her involvement in the Tobacco Lawsuits. Here is the Secretary of State tally

The Aztecs are Back

Ralph Peters presents aninteresting way of looking at Terrorism in USA Today. Basically his premise is that terrorism isn't really related to Islam, but is rather a throwback to far more primitive religious beliefs.

Every one of the great religions is under siege. But the crisis is nowhere as intense as in the Middle East, where treasured values and inherited behaviors simply do not work in the 21st century. Nor is the cult of human sacrifice unique to "Islamic" terrorists even now. What was Jonestown but the murder of hundreds of humans in service to a warped religious vision? From spaceship cults in California to the killing of "witches" in the developing world, the impulse to please one god or another by spilling blood remains more deeply ingrained than we like to admit. "Experts" schooled in the failed dogmas of the past century say Osama bin Laden and his ilk are political actors driven to violence, that the religious trappings of terror are only superficial. They're utterly wrong. The terrorists' relationship to their god is fundamental. It's time to put aside the international-relations texts that have failed the world so miserably. We must confront the elementary problem of our times: Frightened human beings and the longing for easy answers that lead to the most repugnant forms of faith. The Aztecs are back.
I think there is a lot of truth to this idea. The pressures of modernity combined with the lack of flexibility in Arab society, resulting in widespread failure and misery are the 'root causes' of terrorism, or as Mr. Peters would say, reversion to blood sacrifice cults. This makes a fair amount of sense to me. The main thing though is the realization that modern Terrorist activities have very little to do with politics. These acts are Religious in nature, brutality designed to appease a brutal god (note: I agree with Ralph Peters that that god is not Allah.) While I think that political solutions can help relieve some of the pressures that cause people to turn to this 'religion' it should be clear that no political measures will ever satisfy its adherents.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Secretary of Education

James Lileks proposes an expirament in today's Bleat.

As for the Department of Education, I’d like to see an experiment: let the position go unfilled for four years and see if it has any impact on the educational abilities of the nation’s youth. I’m guessing no one would notice if we didn’t have a Secretary of Education. Everyone just keep on doing what you’re doing, and get back to us.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Oil for Food


Saddam Hussein's regime made more than $21.3 billion in illegal revenue by subverting the U.N. oil-for-food program -- more than double previous estimates, according to congressional investigators. "This is like an onion -- we just keep uncovering more layers and more layers," said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, whose Senate Committee on Government Affairs received the new information at hearing Monday.
I expect that this story will continue to grow, much to the detriment of the U.N. This bit here is also very interesting:
Coleman said the probe is just beginning and that officials aim to discover "how this massive fraud was able to thrive for so long." He said he is angry that the United Nations has not provided documents and access to officials that investigators need to move ahead.
If the U.N. continues to stonewall this investigation I expect that more and more Americans will question the purpose of this organization. It may be that the damage done by Oil-for-Food is too great for the United Nations to recover from anyway, but if it is not, failing to come clean will likely doom them. While I think that the U.N. has little moral authority, I would like to see the organization be preserved in the hopes that it will be able to evolve into a more moral institution. This will of course require the nature of it's members to change but it also requires cultural change within the bureaucracy itself. Obviously the U.N. failed miserably in regards to Oil-for-Food, but perhaps it can yet redeem itself.

Shades of the 6th Day


War and Peace

Michael Totten writes about the Democratic establishments difficulting in dealing with national security issues. His basic premise is that since the '60s democrats have essentially stopped thinking about war and national security. The exception of course is a group of liberals, now known as Neo-Cons, who were more or less driven out of the democratic party. This intellectual tradition is now perhaps the most signifigant influence on Americas foreign affairs. The big questions of when war is justified and when it is not are always difficult. It is obvious that most of America believes that war is sometimes justified, but the Democratic establishment by and large offers no substantive means of determining this. During the reletively peaceful years of the '90s this was no great handicap but in a post-9/11 world unless the democrats get serious about foreign policy, they will continue to lose elections. Unfortunately, as Michael Totten's post points out, this is a probably a long-term institutional project that will be difficult to accomplish.

Iraq the Model 1 year old

The writers of the Iraq the Model blog have posted their thoughts on the one year aniversary of thier blog. They, and many other Iraqi bloggers, have given me a lot of hope about the eventual success of our project in Iraq. Perhaps more importantly, they have reiterated to me the fact that we all, whatever our nationality, religion, or political affiliation, have much more in common than we have differences. Reading the Iraqi blogs helps remind me that all people have the same dreams and fears.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Anime Reviews

For any of you who are interested in Anime, Random Gemini has posted several reviews. For me, Anime is something I can take or leave. The medium doesn't matter to me (Anime, live action, whatever) what I like is character, plot, and an altogether enjoyable expirience. I love Akira and Vampire Hunter D for example, but a lot of Anime (like a lot of live action movies) doesn't impress me. If you want a different style of Animation, Nome has posted links to the Foamy cartoons. Caution: Not for the easily offended.


While Palestine tends to get a lot of coverage, the Kashmir region between Pakistan and India has been an equally troubled area. Tensions there have risen and fallen in recent years (and decades for that matter) but lately there has been some positive signs. This article gives some further hope for resolution in the region.

India could consider Pakistani suggestions for resolving the Kashmir dispute if they are made formally, Foreign Minister Natwar Singh said on Saturday after Delhi announced it was scaling back its forces in the region. Ideas on the future of the divided region floated informally last month by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf at an Iftar fast-breaking meal included demilitarizing the state, independence, joint governance or some form of U.N. control.
While nothing formal has been proposed, reading between the lines it is quite clear that both sides are open to negotiation and I think they earnestly want to resolve the situation. The Bush administration has put a lot of effort into diplomacy with both Pakistan and India. While certainly a lot of this has been focused on the more narrow goals of the War on Terror, resolving the Kashmir situation has been a major goal as well. By all extrenal signs, progress is being made and I think we can begin to engage in some cautious optimism. From a strategic point of view, resolving Kashmir is probably more important that Palestine. First, the simple fact is that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and Kashmir has brought them to the brink of nuclear war a few years ago. Second, the Kashmir situation, along with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, are the prime factors behind the radicalization of many of the Pakistani people and in particual the radicalization of Pakistan's ISI (Saudi money caused a lot of this problem as well.) Lastly, a strong peace between Pakistan and India, who depite religious differences, have a lot in common, will put pressure on both Iran and China and help curb any ambitions either of these countries might entertain.

Arafat's Legacy

After seeing a lot of the media coverage eulogizing Arafat, this Washington Post article was somewhat of a relief. It offers a balanced look at Arafat, what he was, what he claimed and what he could have been.

This is not to say that Israeli Jews in any way mourn Arafat's departure. The fact that he died in Paris and not in his homeland, or that his heirs have been battling over control of his ill-gotten bank accounts, seems to many of us Israelis a fitting end to a life that might have achieved lasting esteem for its contributions to peace but will likely be remembered for its fostering of corruption and war. Had he chosen a different path, Arafat could well have been buried in Jerusalem in an august ceremony respectfully viewed by many thousands of Israelis and attended by the country's leaders. Instead, he was buried in his half-demolished Ramallah headquarters, the symbol of his failure as a statesman, and the funeral service, held in Cairo, was boycotted by even the most left-wing Israelis.
Arafat was a bad man. He has a long history of terror. Even with that though, if he had chosen peace in the nineties, something that was easily in hes grasp, he would have to a large degree redeemed himself. Instead, his true nature rose to the top and his lust and hatred ruled him. History will judge him harshly, and it will also harshly judge those that praised him.
For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.' John Greenleaf Whittier
Update: Here is a one minute movie of Arafat's Legacy.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Police use stun gun on 6 year old.


Police used a stun gun on a 6-year-old boy in his principal's office because he was wielding a piece of glass and threatening to hurt himself, officials said Thursday. The boy, who was not identified, was shocked with 50,000 volts on October 20 at Kelsey Pharr Elementary School.
I've known a few 6 year olds. I am surprised that 50,000 volts was enough to put him down.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veteran's Day

I just want to take a moment and express my gratitude to all Vetrans. I am humbled by your sacrifices.

Blaming the Victim

I haven't previously commented on Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh's brutal killing by muslim extremists in the Netherlands because I didn't have anything meaningful to add. It was a tradgedy, the sort of which we have become all to familiar. Indeed, perhaps the greatest tradgedy is that such events, while still inspiring horror, no longer inspire surprise. The editorial on the Index on Censorship is simply disgusting though. According to the author, Theo Van Gogh got exactly what he deserved and indeed, what he desired. I have no words to express my disgust.

Arafat Dead


Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who passionately sought a homeland for his people but was seen by Israelis as a ruthless terrorist and roadblock to peace, died early Thursday at a Paris military hospital. He was 75. "The last two days were very painful, very difficult days," said Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, who confirmed Arafat's death Thursday morning. "And now, after these painful days of President Arafat, he is dead." Arafat died at 3:30 a.m. (0230 GMT), a hospital spokesman said.
Perhaps his death will allow the Palestinians to begin to abandon some of their hatred and move toward a peaceful resolution with Israel. I expect thought that Arafat's absence will lead to violence to fill the power gap though, at least in the short term.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Revenge of the Sith

You can view the trailer here. Looks cool.

Fallujah update


Iraqi troops retaking the city of Falluja have found hostage "slaughterhouses" where people were held captive and beheaded, an Iraqi military official said Wednesday. Soldiers have found CDs labeled "beheading of ..." and showing the beheadings of hostages. Black clothing and masks worn by the kidnappers when they made the videos were found, along with banners hoisted in the background, according to Iraqi and U.S. military officials. Soldiers said it was apparent that numerous killings had taken place there.
This is the method of war the Iraqi Insurgents have chosen to wage. It is competely barbaric, and obviously fails to live up to the standards set by the Geneva convention. We cannot afford to let Iraq fall into the hands of these sort of thugs. And these tacics are continuing. Reuters:
As if the pressure on Iraq's prime minister were not already enough, three of his close relatives have now been abducted and threatened with death. Islamic militants have kidnapped Iyad Allawi's 75-year-old cousin, his cousin's wife and their daughter-in-law and have threatened to behead them in 48 hours unless Allawi calls off the offensive on the rebel city of Falluja, west of Baghdad.
I am fairly sure that Allawi, although personally very troubled by these events, understands that to give into this sort of demand can only result in continuation of this tactic. I grieve for the victims in this situation.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

An important aniversary

Will Collier reminds us that 15 years ago today the Berlin Wall fell. Go read his very moving post. Perhaps a lot of my optimism toward the future of Iraq stems from the fact that I became an adult at about the same time the Berlin Wall fell. Those who are much younger have little comprehension of how futile the fight against Communism seemed at times (when it appeared the best we could hope for was a very Pyrrhic victory) and those who are much older became to accustomed to the idea that the world in fact wasn't going to get any better.

More on Fallujah

Wretchard at Belmont Club has some good analysis (as always) on the events taking place in Fallujah. The whole thing is interesting, but this little bit caught my eye:

Capabilities which didn't exist on September 11 have now been deployed in combat. It isn't that American forces have become inconceivably lethal that is scary; it is that the process has just started.
In many ways, the American military is a very scary thing. While I strongly believe that America is a force for good in the world, the sheer level of discrepancy between our capabilities and that of most other nations is amazing, and as someone who distrusts concentration of power on principle, a little scary. What is interesting though is that too a large degree the American Military hadn't really focused on assymetrical warfare before Sept 11. Obviously we had paid some attention to it, but this was mostly in the form of tactics and training. Now we are putting a vast effort into R&D to develop technical edges in this sort of fighting.

Points of View

Here are some cool election maps. I especially like the one that shows shades of purple and the counties adjusted to population size. Perhaps that is because I am much happier with the thought of living in a purple nation than either a red or a blue one.

Monday, November 08, 2004

on Iraqi Elections

Powerline has quotes from Iraqi's on the upcoming election there translated from an Iraqi newletter. If you are concerned that democracy cannot thrive in Iraq, go read it and it will give you some hope.

Robo Warriors

This is an interesting article on various remote technology being employed by the U.S. military. I expect that over the next few years we will see a dramatic increase in this sort of thing, to the point where individual soldiers are able to view their environment through a swarm of unmanned vehicles.

Battle for Falluja


Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Monday he has given U.S. and Iraqi forces the green light to rid the city of Falluja of insurgents, and he promised to restore law and order. "We are determined to clean Falluja from terrorists," Allawi said at a news conference.
This is the most important battle of the war since the end of major combat operation in May of '03. I expect it will go well for our side. We have learned a lot in the battles of Najaf and Samara and I think that those lessons will be valuable in Falluja. Another thing that will help us is that a lot of the civilians have already left Falluja (at least according to several of the Iraqi blogs) which makes it harder for the insurgents to use them as living shields. Hopefully this assault will go well, and hopefully we will capture or kill Zarqawi.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Progress in Iran nuke talks

Washington Post

Two days of talks in Paris between Iranian and European delegations about Iran's nuclear program ended late Saturday without a formal agreement, but diplomats said progress had been made. "After two days of very difficult discussions, we have made significant progress toward a provisional agreement," a senior Iranian envoy involved in the negotiations said on condition of anonymity in a telephone interview from Paris. "We all agree after these difficult talks on a common approach to the problem. . . . An agreement is attainable." A nearly identical statement from the French Foreign Ministry, issued after 20 hours of intense negotiations, also noted "considerable progress." The European delegation -- with members from Britain, France and Germany -- and the Iranians will consult with officials in their capitals over the next few days and then provide formal responses. No further meetings are envisioned, the Iranian envoy said. European envoys stressed that Iran must answer by the time the International Atomic Energy Agency takes the issue up Nov. 25
I suppose it is just a coincidence that 'considerable progress' has occured since Bush won re-election.

Friday, November 05, 2004

How bout this for foreign allies

Yahoo! News

World leaders rushed to congratulate US President George W. Bush on his re-election to a second four-year term and pledged cooperation with Washington to heal deep divisions over a host of international issues, notably Iraq and the Middle East. In Brussels, the European Union's executive arm extended "warm congratulations" to Bush on his re-election and pledged Europe's renewed commitment to the transatlantic link.
I especially like this quote:
"The Americans have made a clear choice," Portuguese Foreign Minister Antonio Monteiro told national news agency Lusa. "For Portugal there is no change. We would work with any US administration although with this one we have come to establish a very close working relationship."
It is an interesting conjecture, whether or not Bush will attract more foriegn allies with his steadfastness, than Kerry would have with his concilliation and friendship. In foreign affairs, what it all comes down to is self-interest. One thing that no nation is interested in is taking a risk and being left hanging. It will be interesting to see if anything substantial develops from the various kind words of leaders around the globe.

Advice for Democrats

The Backseat Philosopher has some advice to Democrats. As someone who believes in the two party system, and wants both parties to be political entities I can respect, I heartily endorse what he has to say. I would also suggest to Democrats that they work out (or better explain) the core philosophy of the Democratic Party. Right now, to a large degree, I think the Democrats are a lose coalition without a central guiding principles. Unfortunately, one side effect of this, is that it is easier for their party to be hijacked by radical elements. (Link via Instapundit)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Election results by county

I know some of my readers will enjoy this.

Oh, my eyes

From James Lileks:

Interior Desecrations

Arafat in a Coma

ABC News:

Yasser Arafat has lapsed into a coma in French hospital, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday, a day after the Palestinian leader was rushed to intensive care following a sharp deterioration in his health.
I know, I know - it's serious

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Silver Lining

For all you sad Democrats out there: 1st, you have in Barak Obama a new Senator who has the potential to bring some much needed energy and vitality to you party. I will be closely watching his career. 2nd, Hillary '08

A great day.

Yesterday was a wonderful day for our democracy. I say that not because my guy won, although I am pleased by that, but because the election went off well. Our nation, once again, showed that democracy works. Record voter turnout. No major voting issues. And, perhaps in some ways most important, while terrorism and the war were a major issue in the campaign they were not the only issues. Americans showed a great deal of confidence in our nation and in our system. We should all, Democrat and Republican, be proud of that.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Talk about absentee voting

Fox News:

With a quick computer key stroke, space station astronaut Leroy Chiao became the first American to vote for president from space, casting an encrypted ballot via e-mail and urging fellow countrymen to go to the polls Tuesday. "It was just a small thing for me, but it is important symbolically to show that every vote does count," Chiao said from the international space station a few hours after the polls opened 225 miles below.

Election Day

Everyone remember to vote today. This election matters and you owe it to yourself to make your voice heard. Win or Lose, sometimes what matters is that you stand up to be counted. Let me also say this. Who ever wins, I will support him as President. It would be the height of hypocracy to trust democracy in the middle east, and fail to trust it here. I believe that in some unknown fashion, the wisdom of the people tends to give us the President we need at the time. Lets all try to remember, that for all our political differences, we are Americans and have much in common.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Can you tell the difference between John Kerry, Michael Moore and Osama Bin Laden. Take the Quiz I scored 50% (hat tip: Vodkapundit

Bin Laden's Message

Washington Post editorial:

Start with his defensiveness: The "emir" who once issued medieval declarations of war against "Jews and crusaders" and who bankrolled the Taliban's despotism in Afghanistan now feels obliged to protest that he does not "hate freedom." To justify his murder of thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001 -- a crime for which he now openly takes responsibility -- he cites not his erstwhile platform for Islamic dictatorship in the Middle East but -- improbably -- Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Something is clearly troubling Osama bin Laden: Could it be the millions of Afghans who eagerly turned out to vote in the country's first democratic elections this month and who overwhelmingly supported the moderate, pro-Western Hamid Karzai for president? Or the growing support for democratic government in Iraq, especially from senior members of the Islamic clergy? Al Qaeda suddenly finds itself on the wrong side of a swelling debate about freedom in the Middle East -- one triggered both by Osama bin Laden's bloody extremism and the powerful U.S. response to it.
Whatever may happen tomorrow, George W. Bush will be remembered by history for changing the middle east. Afghanistan has shown what the people of it's nation think of democracy with their very successful election. In January, Iraq will do the same. In a few years, I expect other nations of the region to follow suit.

Oil Prices Ease


Crude oil futures tumbled to a four- week low in New York on speculation that growth in demand will ease as supplies increase. U.S. manufacturing growth was the slowest in more than a year in October, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Iraqi exports rose almost 7 percent to an average 1.84 million barrels a day last month, the highest since the U.S.- led invasion last year, according to data compiled by local shipping agents.
This is good news for the economy. Good news for Iraq as well. Another interesting Bloomberg article, that may be related:
Copper prices in New York fell for the second session in three on signs of slowing demand from manufacturers in China, the world's biggest buyer of the metal. China's manufacturing activity fell to the slowest pace in six months in October, said CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in Hong Kong. Companies had reduced access to funding as the government boosted interest rates, and higher oil and steel costs slowed spending. Copper rose to a 15-year high last month.
My impression is that China's recent boom is overheated and built on quite a bit of bad debt. A Chinese recession is quite possible, and would have signifgant international effects.

Good Advice

Citizen Smash has some good advice for every voter:

WHOEVER ULTIMATELY WINS a majority of the electoral votes will be the next President of the United States – not just the leader of the Republicans or the Democrats. While this election has been particularly partisan, once the votes have been counted it will be time for us to stop bickering and start thinking of ourselves as one nation again. Remember, the integrity of our democratic system is far more important than any transitory partisan agenda. We can only have one commander-in-chief at a time.
Read the rest of his post as well.

Red and Blue

David Warren writes:

The American electorate is not voting blind. They are choosing between two men who are, in character, deeply representative of their respective constituencies. The manners, mores, and rhetoric of Mr. Bush resonate with conservative, rural and suburban "Middle America". This America is not indifferent to him; it loves him. The manners, mores, and rhetoric of Mr. Kerry resonate with the more liberal and urban America of the edges. (You see these constituencies in a glance at the red/blue distribution on a map of the states; it becomes clearer still when the map is further subdivided into counties.) And this America does not love Kerry. It hates Bush.
I think that this is a very accurate statement. Tomorrow's election is all about one man, and that is George W. Bush. If you believe in Bush's vision of how to fight the War on Terror, you will probably vote for him. If you don't, you won't. The old aphorism is you can't beat something with nothing. I think that it is likely it will turn out that you can't beat Bush with not-Bush. We'll see though.

Dear Lord, let it not be close

Tom Scarritt:

The most frightening apparition this Halloween is the specter of an election that will not die. For the sake of our nation, we should all pray for a clear winner on Tuesday. "I am really, really worried," Doug Lewis of the nonpartisan Election Center told The Wall Street Journal. "We're all on our knees - `Dear Lord, let the winner win big, whoever it is.'" Most of us can live with the notion that our misguided neighbors might pick the wrong candidate. That has happened plenty of times before, and we have worked harder to win the next time around. In any contest, though, it is much easier to accept the outcome if it is decided by the players on the field, rather than by a huddle of referees after the game.
I agree with this sentimate completely. While I strongly support Bush this election, even more than I want Bush to win, I want the election to go off smoothly and the margin of victory to outweigh any possible voter error or fraud. A bitterly contested, court decided election would probably be worse for our democracy than any other possible outcome. So my greatest hope for tomorrow, is that before I go to bed, we know who won. I predict though that this will be the case. Although the polls are very close, and this is true in several key swing states as well, I have a feeling that the country as a whole is going to make a clear decision one way or the other. I suspect that there will be at least a 3% difference in the popular vote and one side or the other getting at least 300 electoral votes, making any single swing state irrelevant in the final outcome. I dearly hope I am right.

Musharraf dual role approved


Pakistan's upper house of parliament has passed a bill to allow President Pervez Musharraf to stay on as army chief despite his pledge to give up the post by the end of the year. The bill, passed on October 15 by the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, now needs only to be signed by Musharraf to become law. It was passed by a voice vote in the Senate, or upper house, amid noisy protests from the opposition. It calls for the president to be allowed to hold two offices to facilitate the war on terror and safeguard Pakistan's territorial integrity. Under a deal last year with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Islamic opposition alliance, Musharraf pledged to stand down as army chief by December 31 in return for their support for constitutional changes that gave him sweeping powers to sack parliament and dismiss the government.
The idealistic, pro-democracy part of me hates this development. One of the key signs that a nation is truley a democracy is when the military no longer controls the county. In a democracy, the military is the servant, not the master. Pakistan is still a long way from this ideal, and this decision doesn't move it any closer. One the other hand, the real-politic side of me is somewhat relieved by this. The decision was at least voted on my the Pakistani parliament, and a strong Musharraf is a good thing, with much of the Pakistani military and ISI being heavily infiltrated by Islamist sympathizers and Pakistan possessing nuclear weapons. Musharraf may not be the best guy in the world, but he is on our side, and while somewhat undemocratic, he is not a total thug either.

Did Bin Laden threaten the Red states?

This Memri Translation is interesting.

The U.S. media in general mistranslated the words "ay wilaya" (which means "each U.S. state")(2) to mean a "country" or "nation" other than the U.S., while in fact the threat was directed specifically at each individual U.S. state. This suggests some knowledge by bin Laden of the U.S. electoral college system. In a section of his speech in which he harshly criticized George W. Bush, bin Laden stated: "Any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security." The Islamist website Al-Qal'a explained what this sentence meant: "This message was a warning to every U.S. state separately. When he [Osama Bin Laden] said, 'Every state will be determining its own security, and will be responsible for its choice,' it means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy, and any state that will vote against Bush has chosen to make peace with us, and we will not characterize it as an enemy.
Obviously I am not an Arabic speaker, so I cannot comment on this translations accuaracy. However, given the nature of the red states, I do not think that threatening them is a good way to get them to do what you want.

New Election Ad out

This is funny