Sunday, February 29, 2004

The UofC should do this 

Not just because it would make college free for me, but because it's a good idea for wealthy institutions that have billions of dollars in their endowment to not charge the students who can least afford college.

OxBlog: "NOT ON HAITI, but Harvard deserves to be congratulated on this program - it would be a very good thing if other universities (President Levin?) follow suit:

Aiming to get more low-income students to enroll, Harvard will stop asking parents who earn less than $40,000 to make any contribution toward the cost of their children's education. Harvard will also reduce the amount it seeks from parents with incomes between $40,000 and $60,000.

'When only 10 percent of the students in elite higher education come from families in the lower half of the income distribution, we are not doing enough,' said Lawrence H. Summers, president of Harvard, who will announce the financial aid changes at a meeting of the American Council on Education in Miami Beach today.

Dr. Summers said that higher education, rather than being an engine of social mobility, may be inhibiting it because of the wide gap in college attendance for students from different income classes.

Posted 1:45 AM by David Adesnik "

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Kerry doubts God 

And people are supposed to vote for this guy? I'm disgusted.

DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2004�: "Democrat frontrunner John Kerry is not sure God is on America's side in the war terrorism. Kerry made the startling comments during Sunday's Democrat presidential debate in New York City.

Elizabeth Bumiller of the NEW YORK TIMES asked Kerry: 'President Bush has said that freedom and fear have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. He's made quite clear in his speeches that he feels God is on America's side.

'Is God on America's side?'

KERRY: Well, God will -- look, I think -- I believe in God, but I don't believe, the way President Bush does, in invoking it all the time in that way. I think it is -- we pray that God is on our side, and we pray hard. And God has been on our side through most of our existence. "

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The Geopolitics of Outsourcing 

Op-Ed Columnist: 30 Little Turtles: "There is nothing more positive than the self-confidence, dignity and optimism that comes from a society knowing it is producing wealth by tapping its own brains ?4 men's and women's ?4 as opposed to one just tapping its own oil, let alone one that is so lost it can find dignity only through suicide and 'martyrdom.'

Indeed, listening to these Indian young people, I had a d�j� vu. Five months ago, I was in Ramallah, on the West Bank, talking to three young Palestinian men, also in their 20's, one of whom was studying engineering. Their hero was Yasir Arafat. They talked about having no hope, no jobs and no dignity, and they each nodded when one of them said they were all 'suicide bombers in waiting.'

What am I saying here? That it's more important for young Indians to have jobs than Americans? Never. But I am saying that there is more to outsourcing than just economics. There's also geopolitics. It is inevitable in a networked world that our economy is going to shed certain low-wage, low-prestige jobs. To the extent that they go to places like India or Pakistan ?4 where they are viewed as high-wage, high-prestige jobs ?4 we make not only a more prosperous world, but a safer world for our own 20-year-olds."

Economic satisfaction, which inevitably along with capitalism brings a more open form of government that can fascilitate transparent economic transactions, will end the problem of terrorism.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Bush Backs FMA 

My Way News

The critics say it won't make it through congress. I say that's only before the evangelical christians of the country mobilize against anyone who stands in this suckers way.

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Saturday, February 21, 2004

The Law and Myths 

The Economist writes an article explaining the law of comparative advantage and expresses its opinions on the migration of some white-collar jobs overseas, and why it's good for America (as I said earlier, the current talk against free trade and labor is garbage).

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Friday, February 20, 2004

Questioning Facts? 

Why is free trade an issue in the democratic race? Edwards is trying to differentiate himself from Kerry, as the NYT reports, by noting Kerry's consistent voting record in support of free trade; Mr. Edwards seems to be making a stand against free trade in an attempt to pull an upset in the primaries.

Let me say that again: He's questioning the validity of free trade theory.

Huh? Maybe it's because I attend the University of Chicago, the home of such economic greats as Milton Friedman, but I never knew there was a logical rational for being against free trade. Last time I checked Marxism and pure socialism were abject failures, as is protectionism (anyone remember the Great Depression and Smoot-Hawley, perhaps?) Modern economics both supports increased free trade and relies on it to make accurate predictions and theories.

Maybe this explains it:

"Even though Americans aren't overwhelmingly protectionist — we don't elect people who are explicitly protectionist — it is an issue that can catch hold under tough economic times," Mr. Mann said. "And the delayed response in the job market to the economic recovery makes it all the more useful."

Alarmist OpEd's such as Bob Herbert's don't help matters.

He writes:

The sense of anxiety is growing and has crossed party lines. "We are losing the information-age jobs that were supposed to take the place of all the offshored manufacturing and industrial jobs," said John Pardon, an information technology worker from Dayton, Ohio. Mr. Pardon described himself as a moderate conservative, a longtime Republican voter who has become "alienated from the Republican Party and the Bush administration" over the jobs issue.

Mr. Pardon does not buy the rhetoric of the free-trade crusaders, who declare, as a matter of faith, that the wholesale shipment of jobs overseas is good for Americans who have to work for a living.

"There aren't any new middle-class `postindustrial' or information-age jobs for displaced information-age workers," he told me. "There are no opportunities to `move up the food chain' or `leverage our experience' into higher value-added jobs."

An aside: I'm from Clayton OH, a suburb of Dayton, and I can easily state that there are plenty of great jobs to be found in that area. They are not going to be handed to you, however. If you're layed off at the GM plant, you're not going to be able to find another job that pays that well that isn't going to require you to become more dynamic and perhaps get more education and experience in another field. The same goes if you're laid off at Lexus Nexux.

Simply because you cannot find the same type of job you once had in the same geographic area does not mean that one does not exist elsewhere, or that you cannot retrain to find another well-payed job in a different field.

There are winners and losers in globalization, and naturally the losers are the ones who are going to be more vocal than the winners. If the price of shoes went down 1 cent, but at the cost of a hundred american jobs, no one is going to support the decrease in shoe prices, but you can bet the layed of shoe workers are going to complain.

However, the net effects of globalization are a more efficient economy that yields a higher standing of living. There is change however, and as I've said the change bring about winners and losers.

I find interesting Mr. Herbert's concluding statements. Let me offer a bit of analysis on them.

We've allowed the multinationals to run wild and never cared enough to step in when the people losing their jobs, or getting their wages and benefits squeezed, were of the lower-paid variety. Now the middle class is being targeted, and the panic is setting in.

The middle class is being 'targeted'. I like that. It makes it sound like globalization is a vast conspiracy to screw honest americans that is perpetuated by an oligarchy of multinational corporations.

The jobless rate in America is not that high, and is actually decreasing now. If one considers the net economic benefit of globalization over the past ten years on the US, one would have to conclude that it has been a staggering success. A monumental amount of wealth was created over these ten years, even when one considers in that total the burst dot-com bubble and the minor recession that recently ended.

The US jobless rate is 5.4 percent. That's not too shabby, especially when you compare the US to other large, wealthy nations such as France and Germany, where it is much higher and the economy is much more socialistic and less laisez-faire.

What seems to be the issue is that those that are losing their jobs are complaining loudly, while those that find a great new job are not complaining, but instead working and being productive.

No one really knows what to do — not the president, not John Kerry or John Edwards, and most of all not the economists and other advocates who have been so certain about the benefits for American working men and women of unrestrained trade and globalization.

What to do about what? About those that are losing jobs? Is the criticism that people are losing well-paying jobs? So Mr. Herbert finds fault with the President and the democratic nominees because they cannot find an economic solution that would end people losing jobs. What a great, unreasonable gripe. Does he expect someone to discover a solution that leads to utopia? I hope our political and economic discussions can be more pragmatic than that.

What happens when the combination of corporate indifference and the globalized pressure on jobs and wages becomes so intense it weakens the very foundations of the American standard of living?

The fact that this critically important issue is finally becoming an important part of the national conversation is, to borrow a phrase used in another context by the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, "a good thing."

Perhaps an honest search for solutions will follow.

This same complaing has been made in the past every time jobs have been lost, and every time the American economy has succeeded in advancing and replacing these jobs with new ones. But, this isn't an instintaneous process. And, it's better than the option of protecing all jobs, which would stop complaining but lead to economic stagnation. If one remembers the USSR, there was 100% employment, but it an employment state that was sustained by backward, antiquated industrial production and useless jobs (my Soviet History Prof. Ronald Suny one day humerously described the old women that would be payed to watch escalators for no particular reason); it was a nation that had to import high technological products such as computer chips from the west, and which was completely uncompetitive with the capitalist nations.

If one wanst to protect jobs, one is going to put a damper on economic advancement, which will lead to the US economy becoming less competitive, leading to more protection being necessary to prevent job losses, creating an endless cycle that leads to collapes (ala 1991 in the USSR).

What Mr. Herbert wants is an honest search for solutions that no one is going to find, and honest solution for a Utopia that is really a fantasy. Economics, a modern science, has already proven that free trade is efficient and necessary, and history has proven that it is more successful than closed systems (a contemporary example: North Korea).

The questions that Mr. Herbert should be raising are how can politicians help make the US economy more vibrant, dynamic, and efficient so that it may compete even better in the world market. While the same jobs may not always exist (the trite buggy-whip manufacturers), if the economy is vibrant and competitive market forces will push business to create new jobs that peform tasks that cannot even be imagined now. To question these facts, yes facts (modern economics is a science based in mathematics) is to be alarmist and to hinder a real discussion on the state of the economy and current trade and tax policies.

Back to the democratic primary: So people are shortsided, ignorant, and selfish. A deadly combination. People are willing to try to protect their own jobs even though it is to their detrement economically to the whole, even though it may be of benefit to their small part of the whole.

It seems to me quite reckless to be campaigning against free trade, however (just as it is reckless to write an OpEd against free trade). What if Edwards wins, or if he forces Kerry to modify his stance on trade to be more protectionist. Having a President that would attempt to support protectionist policies in an attempt to secure his base (just as Bush supports tax cuts to secure his base) would be quite dangerous, risking trade wars and economic damage simply for political capital.

Isn't that dangerous political opportunism, wagering everyone's economic future for a few more votes? I understand that certain policies have a political nature, but aren't some issues just so obvious and logical that they just shouldn't be politicized, even if ignorant, stupid, or selfish voters consider it an issue?

Free trade is one of those issues.

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Is this Necessary, NYT? 

Op-Ed Contributor: The Athlete on the Sidelines

Yes, there may be unfairness in how competitive chearleading is treated on college campuses. Yes, competitive chearleading. However, on the valuable oped page of the 'paper of record' the NYT's, does space really need to be devoted to this subject?

How about an OpEd on the Iranian crisis, an important and undercovered subject.

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Thursday, February 19, 2004

Iran: Open Struggle for Power 

Michael Ledeen on Iran on National Review Online

Thise piece covers how the mullahs have been repressing their own people in an open struggle for control, which has gone unreported by big media.

I wonder if my predictions will prove true after all?

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Iran: Reform Papers Closed UPDATED 

Winds of Change(which also has several other great links to sites by Iranian bloggers found here, here, and here) scoops western media and reports that two popular reform papers have been closed for printing the letter written by moderate MPs which criticizes Khamenei (I blogged this letter yesterday).

I wonder if this is the beginning of a crackdown, and if the moderates will respond.

As I've written before in numerous blogs (which you may find in a chain of glosses in my post I linked above) the political situation in Iran is quite unstable. While it may appear the conservatives have the upper hand, at any time Katami, the moderate president, may finally declare he has had enough, put behind himself his past of backing down to conservative aggression, and attempt to lead a more effective political opposition or insurrection against the conservatives.

I hope he does so. Democracy in Iran is in the best interest of both Iranians and the world.

UPDATE: Oxblog has loads of stuff on Iran today (bleh, they get to blog in the morning, so they always scoop me;). Of interest are the blogs on the Iranian students criticizing Kerry, the Iranian papers being closed, and news on the corrupt election and the boycott by Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi.

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Youth Brings Power 

Power and Population in Asia by Nicholas Eberstadt - Policy Review, No. 123

In a very interesting article that predicts future demographics of dominant Asian countries, where most of the world's population resides, it is concluded that countries like China will face a problem of an aging population.

Most interesting, however, is the end of the article, which discusses US demographics in 2025:

Interestingly enough, the Asian Pacific power with the most strategically favorable profile may be one that we have not yet discussed: the United States.

By the unpd’s medium variant projections, the United States is envisioned to grow from 285 million in 2000 to 358 million in 2025. In absolute terms, this would be by far the greatest increase projected for any industrialized society; in relative terms, this projected 26 percent increment would almost exactly match the proportional growth of the Asia/Eurasia region as a whole. Under these trajectories, the United States would remain the world’s third most populous country in 2025, and by the early 2020s, the U.S. population growth rate — a projected 0.7 percent per year — would in this scenario actually be higher than that of Indonesia, Thailand, or virtually any country in East Asia, China included.

In these projections, U.S. population growth accrues from two by no means implausible assumptions: 1) continued receptivity to newcomers and immigrants and 2) continuing “exceptionalism” in U.S. fertility patterns. (The United States today reports about 2.0 births per woman, as against about 1.5 in Western Europe, roughly 1.4 in Eastern Europe, and about 1.3 in Japan.) Given its sources, such population growth would tend, quite literally, to have a rejuvenating effect on the U.S. population profile — that is to say, it would slow down the process of population aging. Between 2000 and 2025, in these unpd projections, median age in the United States would rise by just two years (from 35.6 to 37.6). By 2025, the U.S. population would be more youthful, and aging more slowly, than that of China or any of today’s “tigers.” (Furthermore, to state the obvious, neither a resurgence of hiv/aids nor an eruption of imbalanced sex ratios at birth look to be part of the U.S. prospect over the decades immediately ahead.)

One may of course debate the magnitude of the impact of such relative demographic advantages. For the time being, however, it would appear that demographic trends may, in some limited but tangible measure, contribute to the calculus of American strategic preeminence — in the Asia Pacific region, and indeed around the world.

Youth brings with it innovation and dynamism; if these demographic predictions hold true it seems to be a safe bet that the United States will continue to be the world's dominant nation well into the 21st century.

Not a bad development at all.

However, those that postulate on a rising European or Chinese superpower should take these demographic statistics to heart. The net population decrease that Europe will suffer, and the burden on the Chinese family and economy that an aging population will bring, could thwart such possibilities.

I'm going to ask Jon Mearsheimer, a Professor of Political Science here at the University of Chicago who writes in his book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics that the US will have to battle a rising China in the future for global dominance, what he thinks these statistics mean. I'll let you know what he has to say.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner, who I just discovered is an Assistant Professor here at the UofC (yeah, we are the illuminati of the blogosphere) has a post on this Policy Review article.

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Yahoo Sacks Google: The Search Wars Begin 

NewsFactor Network - - Yahoo Dumps Google, Strikes Out on Its Own

I searched MaroonBlog with Yahoo and found several references to the blog that google didn't have, which I found quite useful.

Having choices is good; now you can get two different pools of results instead of one when conducting a search, although it remains to be seen if one will be better than the other. Hopefully this will stimulate technological improvements by all parties involved in the beginning of this search war.

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Arthur C. Clarke 

The Onion A.V. Club | Arthur C. Clarke

Here is an interview by the Onion. I'm a fan, and you should be, so read the interview, and then read his books;)

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How to Be a Blogging Bigshot 

The Chairman of the Board in the blogging universe shares a few tidbits on how to make a splash in the blogosphere.

I seem to have been noticed in the warblog catagory, but I need to find another subject besides Iran that catches people's notice so that I can build a greater readership.

Readers, drop me a line and tell me what I should be blogging on. I want this site to be as good as possible, and will willingly take advice, suggestions, and criticism to heart.

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Carter Criticizes Army Force Structure 

Phil Carter writes that the Army needs to reform its force structure, specifically in rear support units so that they may secure themselves effectively with armored vehicles and effective amounts of firepower.

INTEL DUMP: "Ultimately, what's needed is a bottom-up, holistic review of the Army's force structure to see what the lessons learned in Iraq mean for the way the Army builds and equips its units."

He makes a compelling case. Check it out for yourself.

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Rummy: Later or Now? 

Mr. Sjostrom recounts on his blog:"In his autobiography with his wife Rose, Two Lucky People: Memoirs, Milton Friedman remarked that the biggest mistake Ronald Reagan made was selecting George Bush as his running mate rather than Donald Rumsfeld."

Yes, so that means there would have been a likely chance of Donald Rumsfeld being president in the early 1990s. However, I contend that he is more valuable right now during the war on terror as SecDef than he would have been as President. Sure, Saddam would probably have been removed in 1991, since Rumsfeld wouldn't have listend to Powell then (he doesn't now, does he?), but there is more to the world than Iraq. The military performed admirably in Afghanistan, and the DOD has been taking a leading role in conducting intelligence gathering in the battle against international terrorism, supplanting the random and feckless DOS in many roles.

I'm glad to have Rumsfeld as SecDef right now. Hopefully Bush is reelected so that Rumsfeld may serve honorably for four more years.

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Pejman on Polls: Lies, Damned Lies 


Mr. Yousefzadeh writes an analysis of the latest polls, some which claim that Kerry has a commanding lead. Mr. Yousefzadeh concludes that no one has the foggiest about who's going to win in November, and I think he's right. Take a look at his analysis for yourself and see.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

NYTimes endorses criminal behavior 

In today's NYT's the editorial page writes favorably about the "San Francisco event[]" in the "discussion about the right of gay people to marry". It doesn't mention at all that this act is in violation of California law, that it is illegal.

Jonah Goldberg
points this out in a piece in which he writes that most people are fed up with reading about this debate. I think I agree, while this is galvanizing a minority of people, it is not engaging most Americans.

Goldberg writes that federalism is a great characteristic of this country, since it allows local majorities to live the way they want, which allows great diversity in the nation. He writes, however, that the flaunting of the law in instances such as Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco violating is oath of office, violates the good faith needed to allow federalism to function properly.

The NYTimes apparently supports this bad faith and illegality. But, are you really surprised?

UPDATE: The WaPo writes:

"President Bush said today that he is "troubled" by the hundreds of marriages between gays being carried out in San Francisco and is "watching carefully."

"I strongly believe that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman," Bush said. "I am troubled by activist judges who are defining marriage. I have watched carefully what's happened in San Francisco, where licenses were being issued even though the law states otherwise. I have consistently stated that if -- I'll support law to protect marriage between a man and a woman. And obviously, these events are influencing my decision."

The President supports the law, why can't a lowsy newspaper do so as well? Oh, I know why, because it's against their political agenda, and they seem to regard their position on a bully pulpit as having no responsibliities.

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Iraq: Annan shows some sense 

Annan to Back Indirect Elections in Iraq, Diplomats Say: "Secretary General Kofi Annan has decided to endorse the view that the interim government to take office in Iraq this summer cannot be chosen by direct elections, but he will delay for at least a week his recommendation on how best to chart the country's political future, senior United Nations diplomats said today."

Good news. Now the Shiites won't, at least for now, be able to run roughshod over the minorities in the country.

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Guard Service Redux 

Byron York writes a piece on the president's national guard service, which contains the words of several national guard veterans who served during Vietnam (I referenced another piece on Bush's guard service last week which is worth reading as well).

York's piece ends with this quote: "The thing that got a few of us crawling out from under a rock, at no instigation from the White House, was that Guard service was being portrayed as being like a draft dodger."

Is it? I don't think so, and neither would most people if the facts of national guard service would be disseminated in a fair manner by the media.

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1000 Fighting Styles of Donald Rumsfeld 

POE News: Rumsfeld Fighting Technique

And I present to you another reason to like the man: our secretary of defense is a virtuoso in self-defense;)

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Keeping the Female Euro Jocks Down 

Google Search: Euro championship 2004 sexual relation prohibition

MaroonBlog, your source for late breaking European athletic sexual repression...

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Neoconservative Revisionism 

David Adesnik of Oxblog has a great piece that calls David Brooks on spinning history and taking away Jimmy Carter's accomplishment of restoring "moralistic language to the American dialogue with the Soviet Union", as well as other flawed aspects of neoconservatives, such as a lack of self-criticism.

It has been said about democracy, to paraphrase, that it is a poor form of government but the best known.

Neoconservatism, at least in foreign policy, is the best choice among several other random and vile choices(link in reference to the fraud of some liberal spin).

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Kill the Adjectives? 

The Chronicle: 2/20/2004: The Adjective -- So Ludic, So Minatory, So Twee

For the writers in the audience, here is a piece that caught me off guard. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and hopefully you will as well.

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Iran: Khamenei Challenged 

The WaPo is reporting that outgoing opposition leaders have issued a letter to foreign press criticizing the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, saying that he is to blame for the sham elections that will be held on Friday in which scores of moderate candidates have been ruled ineligible to run by the Guardian Council.

Outgoing Iranian lawmakers made a bold, direct challenge to the country's supreme leader Tuesday, issuing a tartly worded open letter accusing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of leading "a system in which legitimate freedoms and the rights of the people are being trampled on in the name of Islam."

The letter makes clear that the banned lawmakers regard Khamenei, who holds the title of supreme leader of the revolution, as responsible for this Friday's "sham" election, which was technically engineered by the Guardian Council, a supervisory body whose 12 members were appointed directly and indirectly by Khamenei. The council also has the power to veto legislation.

"Institutions under your supervision, after four years of humiliating the elected parliament and thwarting bills and restricting the legislature, have now, on the verge of the parliamentary elections, deprived the people of the most basic right the right to choose and be chosen," the letter said.

"Do the members of the Guardian Council dare to resist your orders? Or is it that, as rumors say, despite your public statements, they were permitted by you to disqualify these people illegally and widely?"

The letter appeared to challenge the ban on criticizing the supreme leader, who under Iran's theocratic system is regarded as responsible only to God.

We'll have to wait and see if the conservatives crack down with the force of the government on these outspoken critics. As I've said before, I hope that this is another sign of a coming wave of reform and revolution in Iran, but only time will tell.

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US Coup in Venezuela?  

News: "The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, yesterday angrily accused the United States of being behind a 2002 coup and of helping continuing opposition attempts to overthrow him.

Mr Chavez said the US Government was providing millions of dollars to Venezuelan groups. 'The Government of Washington is using the money of its people to support not only opposition activities but acts of conspiracy,' the President said."

This seems like simply an attempt by Chavez to make excuses for the gains made by the oppositions and to hide his own failures. It seems to have no real substance. I'll see if I can find if there is any official US response to this unfair accusation by an 'ally'.

Maybe the axis of weasels should have another member added to the roles.

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Pricey Cheese 

My Way - News

It seems that Comcast is unwilling to raise its bid for Disney now that stock prices have fluctuated; Comcast's stock has fallen slightly while Disney's has risen.

This threatens the attempt by Comcast to buy Disney, which I discussed earlier here.

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A Horrible Idea in Iraq 

The Shiites and Kurds of Iraq are backing a plan that would allow a partial vote to choose an Iraqi congress by June 30 that would exclude those Iraqis that reside in the 'Sunni Triangle', reports the NYTimes.

This is absolutely ridiculous, for several reasons. One, it disenfranchises a large geographic part of the county to maintain an unrealistic timetable. Does one really think that creating a political government that does not hold as its constituents the part of the country housing and supporting the guerrillas will really decrease the violence? I think Ireland provides a good answer that question.

Two, this will give even more power to the Shiite majority. There will already be enough danger that they will stomp all over the minority groups in Iraq, one doesn't need to tempt them to do so even more by allowing them to begin their political existence as a democracy by disenfranchising their long-time oppressors. This will just set a precedent that mass political exclusion is a legitimate means to various ends. Not a good plan; look at Iran to see the sort of unrest that such tactics may bring about (hopefully more unrest and revolution in the future, in Iran's case).

Three, by proposing this last-ditch plan to keep the transfer of power 'on schedule', the Shiite politicos have shown that they are not interested in creating democracy, but simply interested in obtaining power. This plan will simply give them power, even though they've demonstrated by proposing this plan that they are not interested in a free democracy at all. Democracy must be based on legitimacy, and legitimacy is gained by allowing free and fair elections. A mass exclusion of voters is neither free nor fair.

This plan clearly shows that Iraq is not ready to govern itself (the majority is already considering the minority irrelevant), and that the US must remain and continue to support it until violence subsides and enough order is constructed to allow truly legitimate and stable government to be formed.

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History of Preemption 

Aside from his vocal opposition to slavery in the House and its gag order against speaking against slavery in the years before the Civil War, John Quincy Adams, Monroe's Secretary of State, formulated a policy of preemption that was quite similar to that of Bush, as Rich Lowry writes:

This is the message of an important new book by the preeminent Yale Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis. In Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, he links Sept. 11 to another assault on the nation's capital, the British attack on Washington on Aug. 24, 1814, which left the White House in flames. In response, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams devised a national-security policy that depended on tools, Gaddis writes, that "sound surprisingly relevant in the aftermath of Sept. 11: They were preemption, unilateralism and hegemony."

Prior to the British raid in the War of 1812, America had tended toward a "duck and cover" foreign policy. Thomas Jefferson responded to the threat to American maritime rights during the Napoleonic Wars by refusing to trade. (Problem solved!) August 1814 exposed the folly of trying to hide, and brought out another American tendency. As Gaddis puts it, "Americans have generally responded to threats — and particularly to surprise attacks — by taking the offensive, by becoming more conspicuous, by confronting, neutralizing and, if possible, overwhelming the sources of danger rather than fleeing from them."

Centuries before anyone heard of Paul Wolfowitz, Adams realized the danger of what we now call "rogue states" on the perimeter of the United States. They could provide sanctuary to bandits, or a foothold for hostile European powers. So they couldn't be tolerated. As Adams demanded of the Spanish when they controlled Florida, they could either properly police it or "cede to the United States a province ... which is in fact a derelict, open to the occupancy of every enemy, civilized or savage, of the United States." Echoes of President Bush's ultimatum to Saddam Hussein.

As an aside: Hmmm...is rampant illigal immigration from Mexico a threat to national security? I think we'll all know the answer to that after the next batch of succesful terrorists slip through our porous southern border with a third world country.

UPDATE: Here's another piece on preemption and American Grand Strategy. Here at the UofC, we have an IR class titled that. I think I may take it the next time it's offered.

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By the Numbers 

An interesting little fact about how much federal spending has increased in the last thirty years:

John Derbyshire on Spending on National Review Online: "Total federal outlays in 2002 were $2,010,975,000,000. In the year I first came to this country, 1973, they were $245,700,000,000, which adjusts up to $862,100,000,000 in 2002 dollars. So (and I am sticking with 2002 dollars throughout here) the 2002 feddle gummint spent about $1.15 trillion more than in 1973. To put it another way, the poor old U.S.A. in 1973 must have been a bleak place, with all those $1.15 trillion worth of federal needs unmet! Five and a half thousand dollars per 1973 citizen! "

Do you think it's worth it? What could you do with 5 thousand dollars? I wouldn't have to take out college loans if I had 5 thousand more dollars (of course, I don't pay that much in taxes, so the only way I could get that money would be if a system of wealth distribution was in place).

Most of the money is going towards homeland security in the new budget, as Deroy Murdock writes, with domestic spending barely increasing:
Remarkably, domestic discretionary spending inches ahead only 0.5 percent after barreling forward an inflation-adjusted average of 5 percent each of the last three years. Better yet, 65 federal programs are slated for elimination. While these deletions trim just $4.9 billion, they point expenditures the right way: down. As one White House aide told me, these "are programs in search of work rather than programs that finish their work and go out of business."

It seems that most of the criticism that is being leveled at President Bush is that he is not cutting more programs to keep the total budget in line. This seems like a perfect opportunity to push for less pork, since it is extremely difficult for one to argue for more spending in the current climate.

Oh, and remember the Alternative Minimum Tax? No one wants to fix it now because doing so would bust the budget even more:

It should be fixed, but I really doubt it will. It's one of those difficult decisions like fixing social security that no politician will make because it spends too much political capital and leaves no group completely satisfied.
Absent such major savings initiatives, Democrats and Republicans alike will consume tax dollars and crowd out necessary reforms such as personal Social Security accounts and permanent status for President Bush's tax cuts. By 2014, some 23 million Americans (up from 2 million today), can expect to suffer the costly and complex Alternative Minimum Tax. Overheated spending has pushed this problem's solution off the stove.

"Two to three years ago, lots of folks were saying we would shortly fix AMT," NTU's John Berthoud recalls. "Nobody's saying that now."

We need a Solon(remember how he set Athenian government straight and unburdened debt slaves?), but will someone step up?

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Rumsfeld is Awesome 

I agree with Jay Nordlinger's Impormptus on Rumsfeld:

Just when I think I like Donald Rumsfeld a little too much — that I've gone a little bit overboard — something occurs that makes me think, "No, actually — I may have undervalued him."

One of the beautiful things about him is that he refers to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as "the so-called occupied territories." (For all I know, he uses "Judea" and "Samaria" when doors are closed!) But I'm thinking now about something else. At the recent conference in Munich, Rumsfeld was asked why the United States doesn't make a fuss about Israeli nuclear weapons. We're supposed to be against nukes, right? Why don't we go after Israel?

Replied the secretary of defense: "You know the answer by yourself, and the whole world knows the answer. Israel is a small country with a small population. It is a democracy, but exists among neighbors who want to see her in the sea. Israel has made it clear that she does not want to be in the sea, and as a result, over several decades, has organized in such a manner as not to be thrown into the sea."

Savor it now, ladies and gents, for we will probably never — ever — see the likes of this fellow, in an office this key, again.

He's just so awesome. We need more people like him willing to shoot straight and perform their jobs skillfully and confidently, as well as push to improve America's security and the standing of freedom in the world.

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Monday, February 16, 2004

Hawk: How's the Weather? 

An interesting article by The Economist talks about the benefits and dangers of Bush's declaration (in his Meet the Press interview) as being a war president.

the most striking characteristic of any war reputation is fragility. Between now and election day, America is due to hand over power in Iraq. This could go well, enhancing the president’s standing. Or it could precipitate chaos. There could be another terrorist strike (this has just happened in Russia, five weeks before that country’s presidential election). Or perhaps Osama bin Laden could be captured. War leaders, above all others, are hostages to the uncertainties of conflict. That will be true of Mr Bush, too. His decision to go to the country as a warrior-president is a big gamble.

While I may be a partisan, putting that aside I think that Bush will win a close election on the merits of his war record, with an impoving economy proving to be a non-issue in an election of pesonal attacks on war records and foreign policy statments.

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Can't Buy Me Love 

Economist.com | The science of love: "Romantics, of course, have always known that love is a special sort of chemistry. Scientists are now beginning to show how true this is."

We romantics do know what love is like; it's grand. While I may have said this to you many times this weekend already, Heather, happy Valentine's Day, suga'.

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The Five Sisters 

Op-Ed Columnist: The Five Sisters: "If one huge corporation controlled both the production and the dissemination of most of our news and entertainment, couldn't it rule the world?
You don't have to be a populist to want to stop this rush by ever-fewer entities to dominate both the content and the conduit of what we see and hear and write and say. "

Safire's got it right; media centralization is unacceptable. The way that most average people get their news in such an apathetic way allows big media to control what people think. Because not every citizen lives up to the responsibilities of their citizenship, the government must act to keep media diverse so that a plurality of ideas will be distributed to the uncaring masses, not the messages of a handful of powerful men.

Oligarchy is not what I want to live under.

UPDATE: WaPo editorial on media mergers has a good point: technology can keep us free.

If Disney's shareholders accept the Comcast offer, versions of this question will be debated by antitrust regulators, by the Federal Communications Commission and no doubt by Congress. But so far there seems to be no policy reason to oppose this merger, which is similar in conception to the recent marriage between Rupert Murdoch's media empire and DirecTV's 12 million satellite subscribers. Having just allowed one such vertical union, regulators would be wrong to object to a second.

The green light for Comcast should, however, be coupled with parallel efforts. Regulators must avoid creating obstacles to the rollout of rival technologies that could shake up the TV oligopoly. Fiber-optic cable is one such rival, and phone companies such as Verizon say they need regulatory clarification to clear the way for investment in this infrastructure. Wireless connections or innovations as yet unimagined may create other TV contenders. Technological variety is the best guarantor of news and entertainment variety -- and the best way of ensuring that the new days of television turn out to be good new ones.

Fiber optic connections certainly would make the internet quite speedy, not to mention everything else we do when we communicate. I say bring it out, and let's have another choice.

However, I don't think that technology can be developed fast enough or in enough forms to counteract the rampant mergers of the oligopoly. We need government intervention, and an FCC chairman that isn't as short-sited as Michael Powell.

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Tieing the Knot 

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Two-year wait for Saddam trial: "Iraq's deposed dictator Saddam Hussein is unlikely to stand trial for at least another two years, the Guardian has learned.

The Iraqi special tribunal for crimes against humanity is months away from hearing its first case, and when the trials begin in October or November the first defendants to appear will be high-ranking Ba'ath party officials."

Not soon enough. Saddam delende est. Start wrapping the 13 loops now.

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MSNBC - Target Disney

Disney will be acquired by Comcast. You can bet on it. While this may seem sad, or at least strange (Comcast is smaller than Disney), it's good news for the shareholders of Disney. Comcast should bring better management to Disney than Eisner's recent mistakes (like the loss of Pixar).

UPDATE: The Economist has a thorough piece on this situation.

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

Give 'em Hell, Kerry 

No, I'm not endorsing Kerry. However, I do agree with the new Friedman piece in the NYT's that argues that the most important foreign policy statement that can from from the US right can only come from Kerry's lips.

We already know Bush is not going to cut in run. The only way for the terrorists to win right now is to get the US to pull out under a democratic administration. For Kerry to say that this will not happen would be very important. It would let the Baathist murderers know that they have no chance of winning, and would help Iraq move much closer to a peaceful, more democratic future.

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Quothe the Raven 

Daniel OKrent Speaks

Interesting read from NYT's Ombudsman; check it out. I'm waiting for his conclusions on an bias at the times. He expresses that he hopes to address that after watching the situation for a while longer, as well as a soon to be written piece on editorial corrections. Let's see iif Krugman will get it or not. I'm betting not.

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WaPo is the real paper of record 

The Washington Post deserves to be recognized for being the leading American paper, especially when it prints well-thought editorials such as this one:

Time for Clarity (washingtonpost.com): "Mr. Kerry's attempts to weave a thread connecting and justifying all these positions are unconvincing. He would do better to offer a more honest accounting. His estimation of the cost of expelling Iraq from Kuwait in 1991 was simply wrong; and if President Bush was mistaken to think in 2003 that there was an urgent need to stop Saddam Hussein from stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Kerry made the same error in 1998."

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Thursday, February 12, 2004



Will Edwards win the nomination? Will Kerry keep his lead and then be able to successfully take on Bush?

As Drudge says...developing...

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Air National Guard 

This letter to the editor by a Lt. who served with Bush in the Air National Guard (a later commander in the ANG as well) explains that serving in the ANG was not avoiding duty at all. It was a dangerous, risky proposition that involved putting in more time (at least 2.5 years) than a draftee's tour in Vietnam (2 years).

It also explains that when someone would serve temporarily with a unit while they were in a different region for career reasons (like Bush working on those political campaigns that he did), the paperwork was often laggy, and the commander didn't really grow to know the temps much at all.

Bush most likely served honorably in the ANG, and is simply a victim of attacks by Kerry and his cohorts (like Michael Moore, who has served nowhere) and 30 years of distance to allow details to fade.

Read the letter, it is an important document in this battle.

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School Issues 

Sorry for my abscence, readers, the past few days, but college was consuming all of my blogging time. Hopefully I can make it up to you this week with some good analysis;)

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Saturday, February 07, 2004

Pejman Capitulates, Free World Shudders 

Mr. Yousefzadeh has responded to my challenge to his contradictory statements regarding sex drive, and has admitted that while he may in fact exist and have multiple personalities, and the University of Chicago may be an elaborate scheme by social scientists to test sex deprivation, he did contradict himself.

He has also admitted that he is a great sport;)

Mr. Yousefzadeh is a commanding presence in the blogworld: a titan of the web.

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Maternity didn't Matter 

Jones Finds Higher Gear in Comeback
Quite impressive: Marion Jones won the 60m dash at the Millrose Games after returning from maternity. Put a check next to women's equality, for those of you keeping score.

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Big Government goes Up in Smoke 

It's good to see a victory for smaller government in these days of an increasing budget and increasing spending for social welfare programs:

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Court rejects effort to ban foods that contain hemp: "A federal appeals court in San Francisco yesterday rejected a government effort to ban the sale of bread, protein powders and other foods made from hemp, the psychoactively benign botanical cousin of marijuana.

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals undercuts an attempt to halt domestic consumption of hemp launched by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in October 2001.

The decision leaves unresolved the bigger battle over the federal government's prohibition on domestic agricultural production of hemp, which can be used for everything from paper production to car parts. Currently, hemp products and foods are produced from seed, oil or fiber imported from other countries, such as Canada, where harvest is not prohibited.

Unlike smoked cannabis, hemp contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that produces the 'high' sought by the pot users.

The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled that the DEA maintains regulatory authority over smoked marijuana and synthetically derived THC, but not over food that contains hemp. Officials at the DEA and Justice Department declined to comment."

Since this is related, I thought I'd express my interest in making some drugs, at least marijuana, legal, so that it may be sold at state stores and taxed. They do it for alcohol, a drug that is at least as dangerous as marijuana, so why not marijuana itself?

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Record Stores are Replacable 

Requiem for the Record Store (TechNews.com)

While it may be cool to have all different types of music in one place, a record store can't compete with an online store--the interent business can be searched in an instant for a particular genre, artist, or song, and can even have clips of songs of virtually every album that you can listen to before you buy.

Not to mention the fact that you never have to leave home and worry about weather, or pay for the lighting, heating, and costs to make the store look cool; record stores will eventually be replaced by online stores like Amazon that can sell the same product at a cheaper price and with more convenience.

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Kerry still favored at this 'Time' 

Take a look at the times today (these two stories) and you'll see that they're doing their best to spin him into looking like his liberal voting record is irrelevant and his foreign affairs record is wonderful.

I wonder how long it'll take before the media finally turns on him.

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Friday, February 06, 2004

The Coin has Two Sides 


Byron York on Judiciary Memos on National Review Online: "
In a letter delivered to the committee Friday morning, Manuel Miranda says he has read 'documents evidencing public corruption by elected officials and staff of the United States Senate.'
It is also not clear whether those unreleased memos will ever become public. There has been no decision whether to keep the results of the sergeant-at-arms investigation secret or whether to release some or all of its findings to the public."

The Democrats rightly demanded an investigation of how the memos were obtained. The Republicans should demand an investigation of possible corruption. It's only fair.

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Scary: Swiss Cheese Brains 

WHIOTV.com - Health - Study Looks At How Creutzfeldt-Jakob Is Transmitted: "British researchers believe some people could be passing the human form of mad cow disease through blood donations.

While it has yet to be proven that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can be transmitted through transfusion, the scientists did find a case in which a blood donor and the recipient died of it."

(note: I just noticed that this site I got from google news is WHIO-TV; that's Dayton Ohio, the city near which the suburb I'm from is located)

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Invest in the Euro 

Bankers: Their Gains, Our Risks by Gary North

An interesting commentary on banking, with a provocative point. If you had invested in the Euro two years ago, you'd be stinking rich right now. But you won't, because you're insulated in America.

Read the whole thing, especially the conclusion.

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U.S. soccer team hears Osama chants in Mexico: "The Mexican crowd hooted 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' It booed U.S. goals. It chanted 'Osama! Osama! Osama!' as U.S. players left the field with a 2-0 victory."

That is just sick.

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No Northern Love 

AxisofLogic/ Canada: "According to a new poll, only 15 per cent of us would vote for the President"

Canada is the North American France, eh?

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A Good Prosecutor 

It's nice to see a prosecutor using his statutory digression for good:

Chicago Tribune | Charges dropped in Wilmette gun case: "In a slap at Wilmette village officials, Cook County prosecutors today announced they would not pursue charges against a homeowner, who shot and wounded an alleged home intruder, for letting his state firearms registration lapse.

'We choose to prosecute the real criminal here, the person who broke into this house not once, but twice,' said Assistant State's Atty. Steve Goebel, supervising prosecutor in the Skokie courthouse.

Wilmette resident Hale DeMar had been charged with failing to renew his state Firearms Owner's Identification Card when it expired in 1988. Had DeMar been found guilty of the misdemeanor, he could have been fined up to $2,500 or sentenced to a year in jail.

'He purchased a gun legally. It was registered. What he failed to do was keep current (his FOI card), and we chose not to prosecute this memory lapse,' Goebel said.

Prosecution, Goebel said, 'would violate the spirit of the law and be a narrow-minded approach.' He said his office decided not to pursue the case after conferring with Wilmette police, who brought the charge."

The burglar got what he deserved; crime is a risky business, and defending oneself against it add an additional burden by the state.

It's also nice to see the prosecutor's office not wasting it's resources prosecuting this minor crime; certainly the gun owner will re-register his firearm. However, one shouldn't have to worry about such matters when one is faced with a home invasion.

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Iran: Moderates Concede Defeat UPDATE 

Just in, the struggle seems to be over in Iran, and the mullocracy will continue, at least in the near future. Apparently the reformers did not have a coherent plan and determined leadership by the president, which allowed them to be defeated by a more determined and persistent conservative opposition.

Here is an excellent explanation of their failure and the larger situation:

The reformers' admission of defeat came on the final day of a sit-in by incumbents to protest the mass blacklisting of candidates for the elections Feb. 20.

"It has gotten to the point where it is impossible to accomplish political reform within the system," said Fatemeh Hagighatjou, who represents Tehran in parliament. "The fate of the country will be either dictatorship or collapse, although they (the clerics) should remember that the outcome of a dictatorship is also collapse."
In defeating the reformers, the hard-liners are likely to lose any hope of gaining widespread public support for the elections or acceptance of the next parliament. Iranians elected a reform-minded president twice and voted in a majority of reformers in the last parliamentary elections.

Turnout this month is likely to be extremely low, as the head of Iran's largest reformist party said its members wouldn't take part, nor would the 127 members of parliament who resigned in protest over the ban.

"We know elections are needed in a democracy, but that does not mean we have to participate in every election," said Mohammad Reza Khatami, the president's younger brother, who heads the party called the Islamic Iran Participation Front.
Many reformers are angry with President Khatami for not backing them more forcibly in the acrimonious political dispute, one of the worst in the Islamic republic's 25-year history.

"The president swore to respect the constitution," said Hossein Ansarirad, a reformist cleric and banned incumbent whose colleagues yesterday responded with fervent applause. "He doesn't have the right to hold the elections."

Blame lies with parliament itself for not standing up to the hard-liners all along, said Baha'oddin Adab, who represents the northwestern city of Sanandaj in Iranian Kurdistan. "We should have done this two years ago," he said, gesturing to the dozens of parliament members staging the sit-in outside the main chamber.

Even now, few reform politicians advocate changing Iran's political system, in which unelected clerics hold supreme power and can overrule the president and parliament. The reformers have virtually ignored demands for a referendum on the constitution by many younger Iranians, for fear of altogether eliminating an Islamic republic established by revolution 25 years ago.

That hesitancy played into the hands of the hard-liners, who used public disillusionment with the reformers as an opportunity to silence their movement.
Khamenei's speech Dec. 16 on the U.S. capture of Saddam Hussein set the tone. In an apparent reference to Khatami's government, he alluded to a need to remove people from power who were thinking about improving relations with the United States.

I'm quite disappointed that my predictions of a change in government proves incorrect, I dearly want to see the Iranian people gain true freedom in the way they govern themselves.

Will disillusionment stand, or will someone rise up to lead the younger generation against the clerics, since the current reformists have not had the courage to force change?

Time will tell...I'm betting yes, that such will occur this year; as the Iranians see Iraqis gaining more freedoms than they have, another of Wolfowitz's dominoes will fall. Iran has such a large youth population that eventually this group will demand the better the better opportunities that only an open society may provide, and just as in 1979 they will rise up, only this time they will look West instead of to the past for inspiration.

UPDATE: Winds of Change seems to have some very nice coverage of the situation. Perhaps in the future this opera will have a better ending.

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Massachusetts Ruling Bad for Gay Marriage? 

The WaPo had this to say in an editorial today:

Why Not Civil Unions? (washingtonpost.com): "We support gay marriage. It is, in our view, wrong to deny to people in loving, lifelong relationships the benefits and rights that normally attach to being married. At the same time, we are skeptical that American society will come to formally recognize gay relationships as a result of judicial fiats, and we felt that the 4 to 3 majority on the Massachusetts court had stretched to find a right to gay marriage in that commonwealth's 224-year-old constitution.

Now the same majority has stretched still further, finding that the state constitution not only grants to same-sex couples a substantive right to marry but also dictates the nomenclature of the unions. When moral certainty bleeds into judicial arrogance in this fashion, it deprives the legislature of any ability to balance the interests of the different constituencies that care passionately about the question. Given the moral and religious anxiety many people feel on the subject and the absence of clear constitutional mandates for gay marriage, judges ought to be showing more respect for elected officials trying to make this work through a political process.

The judges' action has increased the likelihood of a state constitutional amendment that could ban gay unions under any name. Politicians at the federal level now more than ever will trip over one another to swear allegiance to traditional marriage and push a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay unions in all states. The case for this noxious proposal rests on the claim that judges are forcing gay marriage down people's throats in an anti-democratic fashion. In refusing to allow the people of Massachusetts to choose civil unions as an alternative, the court seems bent on playing to this caricature."

By pushing this issue before it was ripe and vocally supported by a large segment of the population, gay marriage advocates and the court itself may be setting themselves up for the other two elected branches of government to pass an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage in any form. There is certainly a compelling argument to pass such an amendment to restrict judicial fiat that can bypass a real discussion of gay marriage; I'm betting that such an amendment will be passed in Massachusetts, although I don't agree with it (yes, I'm changing my stance, which will be explained in a more detailed post later today).

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Thursday, February 05, 2004

Honorable Service? 

A reader sent this e-mail on George W. Bush's national guard service record:

After listening to the national Democrats criticize George W. Bush, I think it is time to make available to the voting public what it takes to become a proficient F-102 Delta Dagger fighter pilot. You don’t just walk onto the nearest Air National Guard base and jump into the seat on an F-102. In point of fact, there is a full flight syllabus, including ground school, basic flight training, probably in a T-28, followed by basic jet training in either a T-33 or T-37, followed by tactical training in the F-102 which would take place at an airbase in Florida, Texas, Arizona, or Nevada. After all this has been successfully completed and after several hundred hours in these types of aircraft, then and only then are you assigned to a squadron. Most of this training takes place while you are on full-time active duty in the Air Force, although you belong to the Air National Guard. (Remember, the United States Air Force is totally responsible for the training and equipment of the Air Guard and always has been.)

Just like the squadrons here in Colorado that fly the F-16s today, the pilots of the era of George W. Bush were just as well trained in their day. It is a mistake to characterize the President’s military service as just another Reservist who showed up every now and then with no basic training and no military skill and whose only purpose was to avoid danger. One must only look to the number of reserve Guard and Reserve pilots killed each year in training, much less the number who are called up for active duty as they were in the late 1960’s. (See history of the 140th TFG of Colorado which served in Vietnam from 1968-1970.) Not only were Guard pilots subject to being deployed overseas during Vietnam, they were also subject to being in the thin red line supporting NATO and the defense of Korea.

I agree. An indisputableble fact is that George W. Bush did fly fighter jets, and underwent thousands of hours hazardousous training learning how to do so. No one can argue this aspect of his military service.

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Iran: I told you so? 

Thanks to Oxblog for the tip.

It may be a bit early to declare that I was correct and civil war will occur, but it is looking more and more likely now.

It seems my suspicions about Iran (that each side had too much at stake and would lose too much credibility if they backed down, thus stopping them from compromising), which I thought were going to prove false yesterday when a compromise was announced by Khomeini, seem to be proving to be more and more correct (the interview of Montazeri seems to indicate a polarization of the country between democrats and oligarchs instead of on religous lines); the conservatives are rejecting a compromise and the moderates are therefore are standing by their boycott of the elections as they demand free and fairi ones. Iran may indeed facing the legitimacy test that I discussed Tuesday night.

None of the major papers are covering this story today on their websites. It's quite a disappointment, especially since no compromise means that the chance for civil war is just as great as it was on Sunday when I declared that this issue matters and deserves much more coverage (I called for more coverage with support from Oxblog monday as well).

Wake up, media, the world is beginning to shake.

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Tenet on Iraqi Intelligence 

Mr. Smash has posted up Mr. Tenet's statements and a highlight of them. Check it out.

UPDATE: Winds of Change has many links on background reading for this topic as well as some commentary and synthesis on the speech.

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Bush on WMD 

Powerline reports Bush's speach in South Carolina addresses the WMD issue since Mr. Kay's testimony. Read it, it seems to hit all the necessary points well.

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Mr. Jarvis is pissed off about the soiree that AOL Time Warner threw the other day in NYC. I'm pissed off too; why couldn't they have put that money towards my beloved Braves (they dumped my favorite player of all time along with over half the team! [yeah, you can tell I'm a nerd when I like a control pitcher])

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Angles of Attack 

Mr. Tagorda has a nice post on angles that the GOP and Bush can take in assaulting Kerry.

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Remember The War of Northern Aggression? 

Mr. Goldberg discusses the divided America, and aptly points out that when democratic contenders talk about how divided the country is today, they are wrong in many ways.
Jonah Goldberg's Goldberg File on National Review Online: "Which brings us back to this Democratic mantra of 'bringing America together.' Americans are divided because they disagree with each other. That is the American constant, and it doesn't bother me in the least. Yes, I'd prefer that we were divided about different things, but that's because I'd prefer to win the current arguments separating the two sides of the culture war. However, if you think unity is the highest political value, you need to ask yourself: Would you rather have national agreement on positions you fundamentally oppose, or would you rather have divisiveness with a chance for victory another day? If you answered honestly, stop complaining about America being divided."

Read the whole article, it's worth it.

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The Limit of the Judiciary UPDATED 

Hadley Arkes on Marriage & Civil Unions on National Review Online: "it might be said that the court itself has offered a series of slogans searching for a principle; and yet that may impute too high a reach to Chief Justice Marshall and her colleagues. The judges in the majority were mainly making it clear that they were in charge, and would have nothing less than what they had 'invited' the legislature to produce. Those folks seasoned in the legislature must retain some ordinary reflexes found among ordinary human beings, and if they retain at least some minimal self-respect, this gesture of contempt by the court should be enough to push them over the edge. It is not enough to put off for two years a constitutional amendment. There are things to be done even now. The governor seems to be studying again the lessons taught by Lincoln on the limits of the court and the constitutional responsibilities of the political branches. As Lincoln reminded us, the executive and the legislature could respect the disposition of any case in regard to the litigants, but they may not be obliged to accept the principle articulated by the court. The court might issue injunctions to registrars throughout the state, ordering them to give marriage licenses to people of the same sex.

But the constitution of the state is clear that the laws on marriage belong mainly in the domain of the legislature, and the legislature has the decisive authority to determine the terms on which courts may issue injunctions. Exercising that power in the past, the legislature had diminished the authority of the judges to intervene in labor disputes, and leap in with injunctions to break strikes. By any reckoning, the laws of marriage would be at least as fundamental as the laws on labor and servants. The powers are there to be used. The main question then is whether the legislature of Massachusetts, happily composed as it is of members drawn from both sexes, can summon either the testosterone or the simple nerve to take their responsibility, and to vindicate 'the right of a people to govern itself.'"

The article doesn't mention another historical example of the judiciary being defied: the supreme court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to displace the Cherokee Indian tribe from their native lands. President Jackson ignored this opinion and did it anyway; this may not have been right, but the President does not have to listen to the supreme court in executive matters, especially if congress agrees with him. The Supreme Court could do nothing; it has no power to issue writs of mandamus, writs that allow it to order others to do things.

Even if it could, though, I think that there is a limit to the judiciaries power to run roughshod over the legislatures ability to create laws. Massachusetts is a good example.

One can say that this will lead to great injustice; however, like all government, moderation and balance is required; no matter how much of it is spelled out explicitly sometimes decisions will have to be made that fill in gaps of the law.

Judicial review is based on a supreme court ruling, and is not explicitly spelled out anywhere in the constitution, and is this way in many states. Our government will simply have to figure out new limits to stop judicial adventureism and dictat and bring representational government back to the people.

UPDATE: Mr. Hewitt has some comments on this:

The New York Times also reports that "Bush Expected to Endorse Amendment on Marriage," a wise and overdue course. Judicial imperialism is offensive on many levels, but the Massachusetts quartet of Caesars in robes is too much to swallow. Nobody elected them to anything involving the fundamental rewrite of the state's laws, and a supermajority of Americans resent being told that all of recorded history and every major denomination currently active on the globe has it wrong when it comes to the proposition that marriage is an institution reserved for a man and a woman. If even one legislature anywhere in the United States had passed a gay marriage act, the case for gay marriage would be on a completely different ground. But not one legislature has passed such a law, reflecting a bedrock belief on the subject that can only be altered by judicial diktat, and this country was not set up to be run by such diktats, but by the public votes of elected representatives. The campaign for a constitutional amendment will not be primarily about gay marriage but about the role of the courts in America, and it is a debate long overdue.

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Where will I buy classical music? 

Tower Records to Seek Chapter 11 -Sources

Borders really sucks; someone please name me another store in Chicago that carries a better selection of classical music.

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The DEMOCRATIC primaries 

Gee, I wonder why more people are watching CNN during the election right now...

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Pejman will own your soul 

Perusing his blog, I stumbled upon his legal agreement, which is quite elaborate (he is a lawyer, after all).
"2. In exchange for the access to the content of Pejman Yousefzadeh's Websites, described above, you agree not to sue Pejman Yousefzadeh for the contents of Pejman Yousefzadeh's Websites, whether original, or linked, or quoted from any source, in any court, on any grounds whatsoever in law or in equity. Should you violate this agreement by filing such a lawsuit, you agree to pay the owner or owners of Pejman Yousefzadeh's Websites the sum of one million dollars ($1,000,000) as liquidated damages, in addition to all court costs, attorney's fees, and other expenses associated with this litigation, and you agree to indemnify and hold harmless Pejman Yousefzadeh's Websites and its owner or owners from any damage award made against them in such an action. Should this agreement not to sue be held unenforceable by a court of competent jurisdiction, you agree to binding arbitration, with all arbitration expenses to be paid by you. The arbitration panel shall be composed of three (3) weblog operators selected by the owner or owners of Pejman Yousefzadeh's Websites from those in the links on Pejman Yousefzadeh's Websites. The award to you, if any, in such arbitration, shall be limited to (1) a monetary sum not to exceed one dollar ($1); and (2) the publication of a retraction on the pertinent individual site that is part of Pejman Yousefzadeh's Websites. Should this arbitration provision be held unenforceable in a court of competent jurisdiction, you agree to accept as liquidated damages in any lawsuit against the owner or owner of Pejman Yousefzadeh's Websites a monetary sum not to exceed one dollar ($1), and that you will be entitled to no other relief of any kind, either in law or in equity. You agree that all disputes concerning the content of these Terms of Use or the content of Pejman Yousefzadeh's Websites are to be resolved in the courts of Orange County, California, under the laws of California and the United States of America. "

That's painful, although I'm skeptical as to how long it'd last before a judge would throw it out.

However: Pejman, I'd be honored to serve as a member of your arbitration panel should the need ever arise.

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The Tide Begins to Turn 

The media is beginning to turn on Kerry; this story is probably the first drop in a torrent of stories that will reveal Kerry in a new, more critical light.

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Sad Times 

Why in the NYTimes are we subjected to articles that consider conservatives and the GOP like an exhibit on display to be dissected and prodded, while Democratic views and candidates are treated as mainstream?

The points that are valid against Kerry are treated as if they're simply hot air to destroy him and not valid criticism. The Times even stresses the likelihood of Bush slinging copious amounts of mud at Kerry, quoting a Kerry advisor as saying:

Another Kerry adviser was more blunt. "This is not the Dukakis campaign," the adviser said. "We're not going to take it. And if they're going to come at us with stuff, whatever that stuff may be, if it goes to a place where the '88 campaign did, then everything is on the table. Everything."

Perhaps I'm reading a bit too much into this, but it seems that the Kerry team is being treated with much more respect and the Bush team is being treated like a science experiment to be gawked at.

UPDATE: Oxblog has a different perspective of this article:

THE FEEDING FRENZY HAS BEGUN: This NYT article gives way too much attention and credibility to cheapshots that Republicans have begun to take at Kerry. While Kerry's defenders get a few good shots in themselves, you've got to scroll down a ways to see what they say. But that is the price of being #1. And while the Times' editors are hoping that John Edwards will do their mud-slinging for them, the fact is that the media will play the lead role in picking Kerry apart.

Now, one particularly disturbing aspect of the NYT article is that it focuses on partisan slurs while ignoring substantive criticisms of Kerry's record. If the RNC can get top billing by calling Kerry an extremist, it doesn't exactly promote serious debate. But it's not as if the Times is letting Bush off the hook. Also in today's paper, the Times reviews the military service issue, which never plays well for Bush.

I don't think that they're giving credit to the Republican cheapshots. It seems that by recounting them without substantive commentary, they're simply allowing the reader to put the pieces together and ridiculte the GOP.

I do agree that the article doesn't treat Kerry favorably, but it doesn't hurt him (it may represent the beginning of his falling out with the media, though) What it does do is treat democrats as a whole neutrally (how often do you see the word democrat in there, and how often do you see GOP or Republican?), and the GOP like a bunch of children to be scorned. But, don't we expect that?

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An interesting article on the origins of hatred for the west, termed Occidentalism by the authors of this article.

The Chronicle: 2/6/2004: The Origins of Occidentalism: "Something else is going on, which my co-author, Avishai Margalit, and I call Occidentalism (the title of our new book): a war against a particular idea of the West, which is neither new nor unique to Islamist extremism. The current jihadis see the West as something less than human, to be destroyed, as though it were a cancer. This idea has historical roots that long precede any form of 'U.S. imperialism.' Similar hostility, though not always as lethal, has been directed in the past against Britain and France as much as against America. What, then, is the Occidentalist idea of the West?
Wherever it occurs, Occidentalism is fed by a sense of humiliation, of defeat. Isaiah Berlin once described the German revolt against Napoleon as "the original exemplar of the reaction of many a backward, exploited, or at any rate patronized society, which, resentful of the apparent inferiority of its status, reacted by turning to real or imaginary triumphs and glories in its past, or enviable attributes of its own national or cultural character."

A very interesting article, that I encourage you to read the rest of; I was somewhat disappointed at a slant in the ending, though:

"In the West itself, we must defend our freedoms against the holy warriors who seek to destroy them. But we must also be careful that in doing so we don't end up undermining them ourselves. In the balance between security and civil liberty, the latter should never be sacrificed to the former. We should also guard against the temptation to fight fire with fire, Islamism with our own forms of intolerance. To think that we are at war with Islamism in the name of Christianity, as some zealots believe, is a fatal error, for that is to conform precisely to the Manichaeistic view of those who seek to defeat us. Muslims living in the West should not be allowed to join the holy war against it. But their rights as Europeans or Americans must be respected. The survival of our liberties depends on our willingness to defend them against enemies outside, but also against the temptation of our own leaders to use our fears in order to destroy our freedoms."

The authors doesn't point out what "our own forms of intolerance" are. But, they do discuss Christian zealots (which most people reading this article would consider evangelical Christians, regardless of specificity), without clarifying what kind are dangerous. There are many evangelical Christians out there who have very strong beliefs, but these beliefs do not extend to hatred towards Muslims and other groups. The author doesn't say this, however, and lumps all 'zealots' and Evangelicals together and indirectly paints them both as intolerant. This may be an accidental rhetorical slip that doesn't consider that most people view Evangelical Christians as zealous, but I'm not so sure. It may just be the typical bias that one encounters frequently by people in academia, an environment filled with pervasive atheism.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Bin Laden a CIA Agent! 

Bin Laden was contracted by the CIA at the order of the Illuminati, whom George HB Bush is a senior member of, to attack the US so that George W Bush could help his father finish conquering the middle east and get re-elected...

Conspiracy theories are a symptom of the age of reason and moderninity. Perhaps the Arab street isn't as far in the dark age as we suspected.

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Charlie Brown the Existentialist? 

Philosophy Now

Existentialism has been accused of being defeatist and depressing (and Sartre didn’t help his cause with terms like ‘abandonment’, ‘despair’, and ‘nausea’). But Peanuts also demonstrates the optimism of the philosophy. Why does Charlie Brown continue to go out to the pitcher’s mound, despite his 50 year losing streak? Why try to kick the football, when Lucy has always pulled it away at the last second? Because there is an infinite gap between the past and the present. Regardless of what has come before, there is always the possibility of change. Monstrous freedom is a double edged sword. We exist, and are responsible. This is both liberating and terrifying.

You decide.

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Pejmanesque: A word for contradiction? 

Mr. Yousefzadeh blogs about the finding that human creativity is largely driven by sexual desire. He states that he agrees. However, with this he contradicts himself.

A few days before this post he indicated that he was familiar with the University of Chicago dating scene, and implicitly agreed with the sentiment that the University of Chicago dating seen is in sorry shape, with little to no sexual activity occurring among the gargolic students.

Mr. Yousefzadeh attended the University of Chicago, and is obviously a quite intelligent. His own existence contradicts his agreement with the finding that sex motivates creativity, since sex is obviously not the factor that drives University of Chicago students to excel, since they don't have partners (as confirmed by Mr. Sjostrom at Atlantic Blog and verified by my own admission that picture I posted proves that I am a fraud).

I call on Mr. Yousefzadeh to clarify. Does he believe that sex motivates creativity or not? If he does, than he clearly can not have went the UofC, because he is intelligent, or he does not in fact exist and is a figment of the imagination.

Or, are you implying that the limit as U approaches U(C) of the integral of e^x is equal to a number greater than zero? If you are, you're obviously dividing by zero, thus destroying the whole world in a great ball of illogic.

Does that in fact make you a terrorist as well as full of contradictions, as the personal contact with Bin Laden cooberates?

The world demands answers, Mr. Yousefzadeh.

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Iran: Pressure Relieved? 

The Moscow Times is reporting that Khomeini is attempting to relieve the pressure over the disqualified candidates by ordering a review of their status.

The review will occur under the intelligence agency, not the a conservative oversite body (the Guarding Council?) as the WaPo reports.

It seems that the crisis has been averted, since the intelligence ministry is controlled by reformists; most of the disqualified candidates will likely be reinstated.

A Cabinet minister indicated that most of the candidates, but not all, were likely to be restored to the ballot by the review. ... What makes the new review different is that it is to be conducted by a ministry that is nominally under the control of reformists.

Khamenei had this to say during a state television broadcast:

"No one is allowed to refuse to carry out his legal responsibilities because of his opposition," Khamenei said, referring to the provincial governors' stand. "Avoiding one's responsibilities by way of resignation, or other forms, is illegal and religiously forbidden."

He attacked reformist lawmakers for their protests against the disqualifications.

"Some had excessive demands and resorted to bullying to push their objectives. They put pressure on the president and the Guardian Council and parliamentary speaker, who resisted the pressure," he said.

So, revolution is postponed in Iran. But what is the fallout of this struggle? It seems that the reformists have won because they will be largely reinstated. But will the Guardian Council attempt to rebuff them by other means in the future? Iran went to the brink here, and the clerics have attempted to avert a long fall. Will the political tension that has resulted from this crisis cause the government to malfunction in the future, since many have lost credibility?

Unless another situation develops, the next large event in Iran will be the upcoming elections. Recently the voter turnout has been a meager 10-15%. Perhaps this crisis will motivate move people to vote. Or, perhaps because the supreme leader has exerted his influence by dictat, more voters will be disillusioned by the superficial constitutionality of the Iranian government and turnout will be worse.

Then, the Guardian council and conservatives would have their victory, since they have done well in elections with low turnout.

The Iranian press should act and publish the interview by Supreme Ayatollah Montazeri. The press and the students can still bring democracy to Iran even now that the crisis is cooling, if only they will act.

I encourage them to throw of their chains and seize their freedom.

UPDATE: Patrick Belton added this at Oxblog:

Commentators have speculated that Khamenei is grasping for a compromise solution which permits elections to continue with a minimum of protest and, in so doing, preserves as much legitimacy as possible for the clerical organs of governance - the Guardian Council and his own office of Supreme Leader.

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A canadian baby was born with a second head attached as an appendage to its head. Take a look at these pictures. They look like something out of the imagination.

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The Other Half 

An interview of Chirac is commented on in the WaPo, and it seems that despite a rhetorical softening, he's still adamant about European influence:

Chirac begins with what I count as a small semantic concession. (Words do still matter in France.) "Multipolar," he says, is not a code word for challenging and reducing U.S. power, as some critics charge. It is instead a way of describing a view of the world "that should reinforce the transatlantic relationship.

"Inevitably in this new century we will see a number of important powers assert themselves," Chirac notes. "China, India, Europe, South America are examples. This leads to what I call a 'multipolar world.' Given human nature, the development of a number of big powers -- that is, of strong multiple poles -- could expand the risk of conflict. Those dangers are already quite large due to the power of modern weapons.

What a list. It should be China and India, with maybe South America in the distant future. At least they have military capabilities on par with what one might expect. Unless Europe gets its act together and develops military capability (unlikely since it can't even get its economy together) it'll be playing second fiddle to the US, China, and India.

I'm really kind of glad that Europe can't find the resolve to develop arms. Any organization in which France tries to exert a great influence is going to have severe problems. As I like to say about France, which as it's been pointed out many times has lost quite a few wars and been occupied, has been on a slow and steady decline since Napoleon was exiled.

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Europe Does Matter (and least half-way) 

WaPo Op-ed explains why Europe's economy is in the pits:

Why not? Well, the economy is so enfeebled by high taxes and restrictive regulations that it can't pay for all the benefits. The gap between promise and performance must widen and, in the process, spawn disillusion and discord. One early example involves France's and Germany's violation of the Stability and Growth Pact, requiring member countries to hold their budget deficits to less than 3 percent of gross domestic product. In 2002 and 2003, France and Germany failed and, rather than face penalties, forced other countries to suspend the rules. Naturally, smaller countries that complied were furious.

It then explains why Europe does matter to the United States and the world:

[W]hat's worrisome is that Europe isn't helping the global recovery. True, growth in the euro zone should be better this year than last -- perhaps 1.8 percent compared with 0.5 percent in 2003, estimates the forecasting firm Global Insight. But Europe is feeding off the revival of its export markets, including the United States (expected 2004 GDP growth: 4 percent to 5 percent). Even this is imperiled by the recent rise of the euro on foreign-exchange markets. It's now worth about $1.25; in December 2002 it was worth $1. Most economists think it will go higher -- maybe to $1.50. By making exports more expensive, a stronger currency could undermine Europe's recovery.

The EU is one of the world's largest economic zones. It needs to get its act together before more fiscal imprudence digs the hole even deeper. I really don't want to be facing a tight job market when I graduate because some dolts in Germany and France can't figure out macroeconomics.

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Maintaining a Reputation 

A Campaign Fiasco That Wasn't (washingtonpost.com): "I'm proud of my war service, but today I'm more interested in peace. I certainly don't want any more wars like the one in Iraq -- a country that posed no threat to us and had nothing to do with Sept. 11, 2001. There seem to be no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But here at home, 100,000 Americans die each year from alcoholism. Multitudes are suffering from clinical depression or obesity or other disorders. And in the world at large a child dies from hunger every five seconds. Those are the weapons of mass destruction that disturb my rest."

George McGovern keeps his popularity sky high.

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From Beyond: October Surprises 

Mr. Safire of the NYTimes channels Nixon from beyond the grave for a an interview about the Presidential election. Of interest is the exchange about what issue will dominate the campaign:

Q: Will the dominant issue in the campaign be jobs or Iraq or health care?

RN: You forget the Quemoy-Matsu syndrome. What decides a close race is how candidates react to an October surprise. What if bin Laden is caught, or "Dr. Germs" spills the beans about Iraqi anthrax, or our casualties continue? What about a White House scandal, or some revelation about a candidate's liberalism, or an accident or a heart attack? What if the market falls out of bed or there's a terrorist attack or the Chinese move on Quemoy and Matsu?

Q: Yes — what if?

RN: Most crises help incumbents.

Alright, all you other pundits out there. What will be the suprise of the election? Place your bets now.

Based on not much in particular (perhaps hope?), I'm going to wager that Bin Laden is captured before the election.

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