Monday, February 28, 2005

Orange Revolution Redux? 

Looks that way in Syria, as Andrew points out below. I wish I had more time to look at this more closely, but alas school is taking up most of my time right now.

However, I have to say that with the recent events in Ukraine, Iraq, and now Syria, it looks very similar to 1848. However, let's hope that democratic changes that occur are more long-lasting than those formed in 1848...

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Freedom Part II 

My God, it happened quicker than I thought was possible: Karami is gone. Maybe you heard it first here (hope so ;-) ). It drew cheers from the thousands of protestors outside. Who knows what's next, but freedom is indeed on the march. More to come on this as it develops.

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Freedom is infectious 

Not that I am the first to say so, but it seems that the revolutionary upheaval in Ukraine is having its own ripple effects.Lebanese protestors are agitating for some changes in the government following the assasination of the quietly anti-Syria Hariri. The AP is reporting that the protests were remarkably peaceful, and that security forces did not attempt to stop protestors. Almost modelling after the Ukrainian opposition movement, many camped out in the square the night before to be grandfathered in for protest. Pretty amazing stuff, I would say. But more importantly, it only solidifies the US cause in Iraq and across the middle east.
Despite what others may say, people in the middle east, like people everywhere, want to live free. They want to be free from corrupt, backward governments and from invasive neighbors with questionable intent.
The assassination of Hariri has intensified world and Lebanese opposition pressure for Syria to withdraw its 15,000 troops from Lebanon. Those soldiers came to Lebanon as peacekeepers during the 1975-1990 civil war.

1990? 15 years after the fact, Syria is maintaining 15,000 troops in Lebanon. Doesn't sound like "Peace Keeping" to me. Saddam even claimed benevelent motives when he stormed into Kuwait. As a matter of fact, there are many similarities here. No wonder Assad is so worried. Not only is he under pressure for his country's soft support of Iraqi insurgents, but now he's got an uppity Lebanon to worry about. But no need to fret, there's always Iran. Don't count on it pal. France is backing the US on this one, and pressure is mounting in the UN to enforce the mandate for withdrawal. Meanwhile, the people of Lebanon grow restless, and the government is on shaky ground. Its time for Syria to look at Iraq and do some serious thinking...

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Inspiration of the Day 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
- Psalm 23

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Solar Power Cheaper than Fossil-Fuel Power? 

Possibly, although some Slashdot readers of the article in question are a bit skeptical. However, as one reader points out, the management team (ex Intel, etc) and research backers (Stanford, etc) are quite impressive...

I remember reading about this tech before, but not with the claim of 5 cents / kilowatt hour. If it's really that cheap, and isn't burried by the oil industry, the world will be a very different place indeed in a few years...

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Color Photos of WWI 

Amazing. I love history so... (Hat tip: Vodkapundit)

I can't resist, I'm hotlinking one...

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Quote of the Day 

There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.
- Josh Billings

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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Party like it's 1984 

Unsurprisingly, it seems that Mr. Putin might be laboring under certain misconceptions about the First Amendment:
It was meant to be a heart-to-heart: just the two presidents and their translators, sitting alone inside the historic castle that overlooks the Slovak capital of Bratislava. Four years earlier, in another castle in Central Europe, George W. Bush looked Vladimir Putin in the eye and saw his trustworthy soul. But what he saw inside Putin last week was far less comforting. When Bush confronted his Russian counterpart about the freedom of the press in Russia, Putin shot back with an attack of his own: "We didn't criticize you when you fired those reporters at CBS."

It's not clear how well Putin understands the controversy that led to the dismissal of four CBS journalists over the discredited report on Bush's National Guard service. Yet it's all too clear how Putin sees the relationship between Bush and the American media—just like his own. Bush's aides have long feared that former KGB officers in Putin's inner circle are painting a twisted picture of U.S. policy. So Bush explained how he had no power to fire American journalists. It made little difference. When the two presidents emerged for their joint press conference, one Russian reporter repeated Putin's language about journalists getting fired. Bush (already hot after an earlier question about his spying on U.S. citizens) asked the reporter if he felt free. "They obviously planted the question," said one of Bush's senior aides.

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The Conspiracy Continues 

But this time with flying monkeys!!!

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Quote of the Day 

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
- Herbert Spencer

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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Tsunami Photos 

Taken by a photographer who was killed by the waves he photographed...

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Friday, February 25, 2005

Irresponsible and misleading 

is probably the best way to classify stories like this one:
Cato Institute defense analyst Ted Carpenter said the recent level of U.S. casualties in Iraq resembled Soviet losses in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Both wars pitted forces of an invading superpower against tenacious Muslim insurgents.

Only several lines later is it noted that the soviets lost, on average, 1,622 soldiers a year. Thats more than the total US casualties (ed. Deaths, not technical casualties, which include wounded, killed and mia) for the entire 23 month US operation. Comparisons such as these are not only irresponsible, but down right dangerous. The ease of comparing the US -led liberation force in Iraq to the brutal occupational force of the Soviet Union is somewhat startling. The Soviet occupation was as bloody and gruesome as it was unprovoked. The UN may have dragged its heels in getting its hands bloody in Iraw, but they certainly didn't condemn the invasion. No matter, as the subject of the article is the "mounting blood cost." It seems that some, if not most, in the MSM don't seem to really grasp the nature of the conflict at hand.
Freedom, liberty and independence seldom come at a small cost. Americans are fighting in Iraq for the freedom and safety of both themselves and the Iraqi people. Let us not forget the battle of Normandy, spanning only two and half months,resulted in more than 37,000 Allied deaths, and over 170,000 missing or wounded. Or the battle of Gettysburg, where two hot summer days claimed the lives 51,000 Americans. The blood cost of these small conflicts, even within the context of a massive, bloody war, is still staggering today. Yet few would question the cause for which the soldiers stormed the french beaches. Loss of human life is tragic, but that is perhaps the most convincing argument in favor of the invasion. Need we be reminded of the barbaric torture and murderous rage employed by Saddam against his own people?
The death of American soldiers should never be taken lightly. But instead of trumpeting their numbers like slain cattle, manipulating heroic death for political profit, perhaps someone in the media should stop and consider the solemn honor and pride that can only be theirs, as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently put it, "to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the alter of freedom."

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NRO Adds RSS Support 

For articles, the Corner, Frum, TKS, and Beltway Buzz. I've been waiting for support for RSS support for the Corner for forever; this is great!

gets tech, it seems.

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Who knew there are Ents in Lebanon? 

So does that make Bashar Assad an Orc?

A good way to start the day:

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Bush in Europe 

This has been pretty well covered. Mark Steyn attributes the "new tone" Bush is using in Europe to the fact that tone is all there is left and that Atlanticism is necessarily doomed by the disparate security interests (actually the lack of European Security interest) of the two countries. Over at his blog, Austin Bay disagrees with Steyn, citing the Iraqi elections as a defeat for Chirac and Schroeder, and forseeing American-style European reforms. Between these two, I think this comment sent to Mr. Reynolds hits the nail on the head:
the French and a large part of Europe envy and resent the US and its power, just as much as Chiraq does. This will go on. Europe will never play together in any significant way militarily, with the US. And Europe will never build any worthwhile military capacity, given the political, economical and technological limits that Europe faces.

NATO´s big idea was to stop the Soviets. It worked, and it is finished. What is left is the girlfriend-like rhetoric, that Steyn points out. I think we will see an environment which is more like pre-WWI, with each larger power playing as best it can in its own interest, and with alliances shifting on a case-by-case basis. E.g., we see that in Lebanon, the US and France are allied to get the Syrians out.

This is probably so. But I think that the further east you go in Europe the more states you will run into that still have the vitality to actively combat Islamo-fascism and fight with the US for democracy as necessary - states like Poland and Ukraine.

But enough about the European trip. Over at ChicagoBoyz, (one of my favorite blogs, for obvious reasons), Mr. Green tells readers that the Administration is pulling a fast one:

Extremely clever of the Bush team to have W in Europe mouthing platitudes, and getting all the press coverage, while Rice and Rumsfeld are laying the foundation for Japan to be a regional and global military player, and checkmating China. But the Chicoms and the NKs are watching. China will be deterred because we are speaking with clarity and we are committing resources and gathering allies. This is all good. This is about hard deterrence and hard capabilities.

"Do Not Watch the Hand that Appears to be Moving," he says. Good advice, too. It seems that, especially in the MSM, the Japan story is conspiculously absent, giving way to this top headline.

Except for neglecting the difference between the torpid "old" and the more vital "new" Europe, Mr. Green makes a good point about the timing and necessity of this step in US-Japanese security co-operation. It's pretty clear that the Administration has its eye on the long-term situation in Asia (read: rising China), which is good, and necessary. What also needs to happen, though, is increased security co-operation with the world's largest democracy. And the sooner, the better.

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Lebanon Update 

Josh Landis has an excellent analysis of the (precarious) Syrian position in Lebanon, and how the Hariri assassination has taken the ball out of the European court. Meanwhile, over at the Lebanon blog Across the Bay, Tony Badran has a great roundup of Landis's posts as well as some pretty extensive commentary on the situation in. If you're interested in the Lebanon situation I suggest checking out both these blogs, and they update pretty frequently.

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National Insecurity 

The Canadian government has turned down a US offer to participate in a North American missile defense shield:

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew made the official announcement in the House of Commons.

He said that while the U.S. is pressing ahead with the missile system, "Canada . . . must act in its own interests and must determine where its priorities lie."

"After careful consideration of the issue, we have decided that Canada will not participate in the U.S. ballistic missile defence system."

He said the decision is based on sound policy principles rather than emotion.

Sound policy? Domestic policy, perhaps. We're going to shoot any missile headed for North America anyway. Having said that, I can't understand the Canadian lack of commitment to its own defense demonstrated by the willingness to perpetually pass the buck on security issues - even when the commitment only invovles personnel co-operation. Canada "must determine where its priorities lie." Indeed.

At least we're taking steps to maximize our security south of the border. Pursuing the missile defense shield is a smart move, especially from a realist point of view. If we manage to make the science work, US security from state actors is all but assured and world hegemony might just be possible.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Blogging Tips 

Atrios may normally be crazy, but his tips on blogging are very sensible...

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Slovakian wisdom 

President Bush knows a good thing when he sees it:

Thu Feb 24 2005 10:04:04 ET

President Bush, who has pledged to reform the U.S. tax code in his second term, today praised the flat tax implemented by Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda of the Slovak Republic. During their meeting in Bratislava, Bush, without prompting, made a point of touting the flat tax:

“I complimented the Prime Minister on putting policies in place that have helped this economy grow. The most important responsibility we have at home is to make sure our people can find work. And the president put a flat tax in place; he simplified his tax code, which has helped to attract capital and create economic vitality and growth. I really congratulate you and your government for making wise decisions.”
Words are fine, Mr. Bush, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

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Lebanon Update 

The French influence on Lebanese politics is showing:

BEIRUT, Feb 23 (AFP) - Leaders of Lebanon's banking, industrial and commercial sectors said they would shut down next Monday to demand the country's pro-Syrian government resign and that a "neutral" one replace it.

The strike would coincide with an expected vote of confidence in parliament, two weeks after the murder of former premier Rafiq Hariri in a bomb blast for which the opposition has pinned blame on the government and its Syrian backers.

The current government has been losing traction for two weeks now. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if this topples the government, although I'm not sure that what replaces it will necessarily be able to shake off Syrian influence without serious outside help.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting quote via KerrySpot:

The leader of this Lebanese intifada [for independence from Syria] is Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community and, until recently, a man who accommodated Syria's occupation. But something snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. The old slogans about Arab nationalism turned to ashes in Jumblatt's mouth, and he and Hariri openly began to defy Damascus...

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

Democracy spreading? Well I'll be.

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Expert: Baby Swings May Trigger Dog Attack 

I read this article with interest until I saw that the baby in question that was killed was attacked by the families pit bull. Then, I couldn't take the article very seriously any more.

Come on, have some sense. Don't keep a dog that was bread for fighting and attacking, like a pit bull or a rotweiler near a baby.

I bet there haven't been any reprots of a Labrador Retriever attacking babies in swings...

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Star-less Galaxy 

If you're into physics and cosmology, you'll find this interesting...

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Syrian Idiocy Revealed? 

A tape of a Syrian intelligence office confessing to having aided the insurgency in Iraq had been played on Iraqi TV.

If this pans out to be true, it'll really put Syria in a bind.

I'm really starting to lead towards Syrian invasion over Iranian invasion now...

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Stunning Invective 

Cringe or chuckle, depending on your slant...

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Quote of the Day 

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
- Sir Winston Churchill

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Putin more trustworthy than Bush 

That's what Germans said in a poll that was just released. As Josh Chafetz says over at Oxblog, paraphrased quite succinctly, both the poll itself and those that took it are stupid...

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Victory in Afghanistan? 

It's pretty amazing how far Afghanistan has come in the last 3.5 years. Miraculous.

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History by Mouse-Nest 

This is really cool...

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Stepping it Up 

Bush is saying the US will wait to see if Syria follows the Security Council resolution telling it to withdrawl from Lebanon.

The first step towards the next invasion? Time will tell...

David Adesnik says that Syria's making a strong play to become the next member of the Axis of Evil...

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Quote of the Day 

Liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or human happiness or a quiet conscience.
- Isaiah Berlin

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Who will be the Iraqi Premier? 

It's far from over, even after Chalabi drops out...

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The Joys of Traffic Court 

This is an entertaining piece from the NYTs.

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"Shower me with filthy lucre" 

Well, not really, but I always found that quote from Pejman above his ads to be priceless.

Anyway, I added a tip jar to the sidebar at the right. Funds will be used to improve MaroonBlog (like getting our own domain name and server, plus a snazier looking site!), so if you like what you see, and you want to make us feel really appreciated, consider dropping some change in=)

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Harvard, Free Speech and Academic Integrity 

The New York Post has an excellent editorial about the ongoing "uproar" over Harvard President Lawrence Summers. The issue here, as the columnist notes, is not just this single statement, but the record of President Summers, which is clearly at odds with the liberal academia. Am I the only one struck by the irony of the quick defense Ward Churchill recieved after his inflamatory (And frankly far more offensive and baseless) remarks. Comapring civilian victims of terrorist attacks to Nazis is acceptable, but proposing a hypothesis about the lack of women in high level science is not. And that's what really happened here, despite the horn blowing and hot air balooning on the left. Taken in context, his remarks are, well, hardly remarkable.
There are three broad hypotheses about the sources of the very substantial disparities that this conference's papers document and have been documented before with respect to the presence of women in high-end scientific professions. One is what I would call the-I'll explain each of these in a few moments and comment on how important I think they are-the first is what I call the high-powered job hypothesis. The second is what I would call different availability of aptitude at the high end, and the third is what I would call different socialization and patterns of discrimination in a search. And in my own view, their importance probably ranks in exactly the order that I just described.

He goes on to explain what he means by each of these (The full transcript is here), and points out that these are only broad theories. Actually reading the remarks would remove the wind from some critics sails, because its clear that he does eveything possible to present the ideas factually, and without disparaging anyone. He even notes at one point that he would prefer if the evidence pointed to some answer other than his hypothesis, but unfortunately it does not. By far the most disgusting aspect of this nonsense is the failure of more academics to come to his defense. Regardless of their feelings about what he proposed (Again, the NY Post article is ambiguous to that end), persons in academics everywhere should recognize the danger in curtailing the free speech at Harvard. A Washington Post editorial attacks those who are defending him, saying "Academic freedom does not protect any professor from having his or her ideas scrutinized." Come on. Anyone can see that this goes far beyond "peer review" and "scrutiny." If it were really that way, then there would be discussions and editorials about the factual content and debating various ideas on the subject. Instead, we have a liberal lynch mob calling for his removal. Scrutiny? Hardly.

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Daily Show: Fact Obsessed Bloggers 

Oh my. That was very, very funny...

The Daily Show seems to have improved now that the election is over and Jon Stewart isn't trying to swing the election any more...

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Patron Saint of the Internet 

ISIDORE of Seville. I was surprised to find out there was a patron saint of the internet.

John J. Miller at The Corner wonders who the patron saint of blogging will be...

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Inspiration of the Day 

[A] righteous man will be remembered forever.
- Psalm 112:6 (NIV)

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O'Reilly Factor: Yoda 

You might have already seen the transcript of Bill O'Reilly interviewing Yoda, but I felt I had to link to it anyway. Warning: you may spill your coffee reading this from laughing too hard... =)

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Up, up, and away! 

President gets more popular (which irks some)--because people see that he's a good and honest guy. Well, he gets more popular with the 48% that didn't already know that...

UPDATE: The LA Times editorial on the tapes is generally positive--and you know that means that they must be devestatingly in favor of the President.

Here's a sample of the editorial which shows the positive spin:
The George W. Bush revealed in two years of surreptitiously recorded private conversations with a former friend is more complicated and appealing than the uncompromising, language-mangling leader whom Americans are accustomed to hearing. His struggle to fit his morality to his politics is illuminating, if not exactly comforting.
I disagree with the last statement, though. I think it's tremendously comforting that the President is struggling with important moral questions. It shows he's thinking critically, cares, and is not a dogmatic idealogue. Almost exactly the opposite of how he's been portrayed for the past several years.

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Hold On to Fun 

Texas Hold'em is fun and certainly no more corrupt than Bingo, so it should be legal.

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Abuse of Imminent Domain 

I hope the Supreme Court curbs this "legalized theft".

Will Baude
thinks there's a chance they will, otherwise why would they have taken on the case?

UPDATE: Mr. Yousefzadeh has a great roundup on this along with a possible solution to prevent abuse of Imminent Domain.

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Quote of the Day 

And of all plagues with which mankind are curst, / Ecclesiastic tyranny's the worst. /
- Daniel Defoe

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That's what Day by Day is to liberals, but I think that a bit of poking fun is a good thing.

This is really funny:

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Terrorist scorecard 

...can't tell who's dead without a scorecard...! (Hat Tip: Vodkapundit)

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Random Stuff 

I'll be back later to write some more on George Washington and Syria, but in the meantime, I can't help but post this link with a bunch of musical remixes of the Dean Scream I stumbled upon. I can't believed I missed this stuff last year...

Also, here's a great Cox & Forkum cartoon that I thought I'd point out since it's related:

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President's Day 

The George Washington Story is pretty disgusting, but it only hints at a broader theme in the teaching of American History today. Is it not at all noteworthy that that hallowed halls of the University of Chicago celebrate a week of Martin Luther King tributes, highlighted by a visit from Kweisi Mfume, yet there is hardly a whimper on president's day? What is the sad and sordid state of affairs in America when "Not quite half of young adults know the name of Washington's wife or where he lived."

Washington's life and accomplishments are the business of all Americans. His presidency was pivitol in the formation of the role of the Presidency and the scope and direction of the Federal Government, and his actions to end the "whiskey rebellion" both preserved a fragile nation and set the precedence for the dominance of Federal law that would be harkened to during the Civil War and beyond. His courageous leadership in the American Revolution, sometimes holding together an Army by sheer force of will alone, are more than admirable. Even before his ascent to commander of the Continental Army, Washington's actions in both victory and defeat marked him as a man of intelligence and character. Other than Eisenhower, he was the only president to reenter military service after his presidency.

The sad fact is that more and more people just don't know any of that. In an age of increasingly liberal and decreasingly qualified primary educators, history consists of gender and race issues, and reminding students that the "founding fathers held slaves too!" Ignoring Washington's amazingly forward legacy of promoting religious liberty, especially for Jews, and his remarkably humane treatment of his slaves (the norm for the times was to sell apart families and pass on slaves to future generations, Washington did neither and in fact freed his slaves upon his death and ensured as President that slavery would be banned in the northwest territories, but I digress), the most widely know information about Washington is probably the anicdotal and factually dubious story of the Cherry Tree. I can't help but feel a little ashamed when perhaps the greates among our founding fathers is reduced to a naive children's tale. I think that Ted Widmer (see story) may have said it best:
"Let's face it, 'First in war, first in peace, and seventh in the hearts of his countrymen,' doesn't sound very impressive,"

In fact its a damn shame.

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Cool Classical Music site. Check it out.

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Syria planning withdrawl from Lebanon? 

I would be more skeptical of this news, since they've been claiming this since the peace treaty signed in 1989, but since the news is coming from the Arab League Secretary-General after a day of meetings with Assad, it might have some truth in it. Saudi Arabia and other monarchical Arab countries no doubt would like to avoid another US invasion. If Syria doesn't withdrawl, the US might act and spread democracy to another country and further weaken the monarchs' grips on power. Many members of the Arab League have an obvious interest in Syria doing more to placate the US.

We'll obviously have to wait and see, but I bet Syria does pull out, or make very public gestures that they are (like removal of some troops). If they do so than they can probably keep supporting terrorists in Iraq longer without getting invaded (unless more assassinations occur or the Iraqis just get fed up with their neighbors duplicitousness).

UPDATE: Massive protests in Lebanon against Syrian-backed puppet government (via Glenn Reynolds).

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Inspiration of the Day 

[S]eek first his kingdom and his rigteousness, and all [your needs] will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- Matthew 6:33,4 (NIV)

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News like this... 

...makes me smack my head against the desk. George Washington, in two seperate polls done ranking greatest presidents, finishes up behind Bill Clinton! *Thud!...thud!...*(Stop, stop, I want to live...!-ed)

Lincoln coming up number one I agree with (the Civil War was pretty dicey), but really, if you count Washington's service at the general that kept the Continental Army intact (by employing a Fabian strategy) long enough to allow the US to win the Revolutionary War and thus exist, he certainly comes up much higher on any sort of list ranking presidents. I think that easily gives him number two, and arguably number one (although I think Lincoln's oratorical abilities and the very precarious nature of civil war put him ahead). Certainly, though, ahead of 'the first black president'...

The article says that only about 40% of respondants knew that Washington was head of the Continental Army... Oh, the lack of basic knowledge of history is leaching my will to live........ *Thud!...Thud!...Thud!...* (Nooooooo....Oh, it burns, it burns...!!-ed)

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Work to help freedom 

Work at Spirit of America. (Thanks to Mr. Yousefzadeh for the link)

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The R-Files 

Someone get Duchovny to investigate Rove!

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Quote of the Day 

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
- George Bernard Shaw

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CNN Breaks federal firarms laws 

And one blogger says that the ATF should be 'busting' the offending reporter.

I disagree. Well, partially. The ATF should investigate, and perhaps arrest the offender, but I think an all-out prosecution would be a waste of resources, since this wasn't done to commit a crime. Either no prosecution, or a slap on the wrist. Either way, some good 'ol fashion prosecutorial disgression is in order, since there are much bigger fish to fry than CNN's investigative reporters...like, you know, terrorists...

UPDATE: See the comments for a continued discussion on the issue of whether or not charges should be brought against the reporter (assuming the evidence is against him, obviously).

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Who was right? 

The Iraqi insurgency is at the negotiating table. This mere fact, as the Time article states, is indicative of the insurgents' willingness to lay down their arms. (Via Daniel Drezner, who has a roundup on this.)

President Bush is going to look very good to history indeed if this is a trend...

UPDATE: Hindrocket at Powerline concurs and says that this is great news; continuing, Hindrocket writes that the election was obviously a greater turning point than we thought at the time if this pans out

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The Land of Opportunity 

More Africans now enter US each year than during the days of slavery...

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Inspiration of the Day 

We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beyolding self. Indeed, what could be more ludicrous in a vast and glorious universe like this than a human being, on the speck called earth, standing in front of a mirror trying to find significance in his own self-image? It is a great sadness that this is thei gospel of the modern world.
- from Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper

The rhetoric of Piper's arguments is at once both well-written and persuasive. I greatly recommend the book for either a Christian or one whom wants to better understand the Christian mind--although I'm only just beginning the book.

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The Death of Conversation 

The Observer has a short piece on the death of conversation in Britain--and its replacement by 'banal banter'.

I've been thinking about this for a long time while I've been a student at the University of Chicago. Certain topics like politics and to a lesser extent religion are impossible to discuss with certain people without them getting upset or taking a negative opition away from the encounter about you. And that's just silly. Conversation and debate are not personal attacks and offenses, they're what you do when you talk. It drives me insane that people think disagreement means you don't like them.

But then, I guess people don't have any sound ideas about conversation, since the article says that 2/3rds of those surveyed think the phone is the best way to have intelligent conversation...

Personally, most of the people that I'm thinking of when writing this, those that can't have a debate without getting pissed at you, seem to be in line with this observation from The Observer piece:
Carter believes that considered opinions are the first casualty of an excess of small talk. 'Too much chatter means we keep our real thoughts to ourselves,' he said. 'We risk becoming rigid and thoughtless in our opinions,' he added.

And as an aside, there is a very interesting quote by a British author in there--one that is either by an idiot or sarcastically about idiots. I'm not sure which, but I'm inclined to think the former:
Lemn Sissay, named as one of the 50 key black British writers, fetes small talk: 'Talking about traffic and patio doors is the Western Buddhist mantra,' he said. It's a way we can find inner peace in today's society. Small talk can give away so much more about people, and be much more fascinating than big talk. I truly respect those who can sit around and discuss patio doors for half an hour and get something out of it.'>

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Quote of the Day 

"Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep." - Fran Lebowitz

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The Battle of the Advocacy Groups 

This is democracy in action, John McCain, not corruption. I say let's get ready to rumble!

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Jib Jab's 'Second Term' 

Not as good as 'This Land' from the election, but worth the time for a few good smiles...

UPDATE: This rap on the Declaration of Independence is amusing as well...

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What if the Rathergate forger(s) had had a clue? 

It is hypothesized that it wouldn't have changed the election, but it might have prevented the idiots at CBS news from inflicting a body (perhaps mortal?) wound to the MSM.

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Axis of EVIL indeed 

Forced abortions and infanticide at labor camps in North Korea... I really don't know what to say; I'm too disgusted to speak. All I can do is pray for the victims and the liberation of the country...

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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Inspiration of the Day 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16 (NIV)

Not sure what reader response to this'll be. Post up some comments or send me an e-mail. If there are no complaints and you keep reading, I think I'll keep this up.

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He's an honest guy 

The tapes of President Bush don't reveal anything shocking:
The private Mr. Bush sounds remarkably similar in many ways to the public President Bush. Many of the taped comments foreshadow aspects of his presidency, including his opposition to both anti-gay language and recognizing same-sex marriage, his skepticism about the United Nations, his sense of moral purpose and his focus on cultivating conservative Christian voters.

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Savant: possible for everyone? 

Very interesting: the help one very articulate savant is giving scientists in understanding how a savant's mind works might lead to the knowledge of how ordinary people can access this ability. And that would be marvelous, I think.

UPDATE: Savant for a day...

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Quote of the Day 

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." - Mark Twain

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They're moving in... 

After the Hatian crisis last year, China sent peacekeeping forces in its first deployment of troops to the western hemisphere. This is part of a long-term strategy to "supplant U.S. influence in the region." Now it's taking the next step:

China is waging an aggressive campaign of seduction in the Caribbean, wooing countries away from relationships with rival Taiwan, opening markets for its expanding economy, [and] promising to send tourists

Right now it seems that they main goal is to erode Caribbean support for Taiwan. However, from an American standpoint, this could be rather threatening in the long term. However, the administration has no will to respond.

"China's intensified interest in the Western Hemisphere does not imply a lack of focus by the United States," Roger Noriega, the U.S. assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, said in a recent letter to the editor of New Jersey's Newark Star Ledger.

The United States has long stood for expansion of global trade and consolidating democracy."

But when does this commitment to trade end and when does the Monroe Doctrine kick in? I don't think we've even come close to that point yet, but it is something to consider. Perhaps we're waiting for this economic liberalization to lead to the corresponding political liberalization? In that case, I just hope we don't end up waiting too long.

Or maybe Mearsheimer is getting to me. If he were SecDef, though, I'm pretty sure that he'd be defending U.S. regional hegemony pretty strongly.

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Iran-Syria Alliance 

This is, in my opinion, the biggest story of this past week:
Iran has vowed to back Syria against "challenges and threats" as both countries face strong US pressure.

"We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats," Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said after meeting Syrian PM Naji al-Otari.

It's worrying, of course. But not exactly unexpected, it makes perfect sense from an Iranian or Syrian point of view. There are only so many states willing to associate themselves with either of them, and their common goal of disrupting Iraqi elections and compromising the government of that country likely would gives some pretext to this sort of security cooperation.

This also throws some more light on Iraq. I cannot concieve that this is other than a balancing action on the part of the Iranian and Syrian governments. Assuming that there is cooperation between Iran and Syria in attempts to destabilize Iraq, it's likely that this alliance is born out of the failure in their Iraqi endeavors, even in light of the more recent election results. Read the words of Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref again. It is difficult to reconcile those words commiting his country to a strategic defense of a secular nation with the idea of a government which seriously thinks that it might co-opt the Iraqi government using common religion, whatever the election results in that country.

On the Syrian side, this is made necessary by a weakening Syrian position on several fronts, necessitating a crackdown of sorts. The popular reaction to the assasination of Rafik Hariri is an example of the precarious Syrian position in Lebanon. Mr. Hariri was murdered in broad daylight in one of the most liberal districts of Beirut, and the popular resentment of the act has manifested itself in peaceful demonstrations, which are enough to worry the Syrian government and the pro-Syrian Hizbollah party. When demonstrators call for assistance from the international community in throwing off Syrian domination, the Syrian government hears "regime change" and panicks. The Hariri assasination was a part of the crackdown which misfired politically unlike Assad's replacing of the previous intelligence chief with his own brother, a move which only makes his regime more secure.

Internationally, Syria and Iran are both under serious diplomatic pressure. Other than a Russian willingness to sell them outdated missile systems, the two states are very much alone on the international scene, and will soon get even more lonely as Mr. Bush looks to get EU diplomatic co-operation on Iran and Syria. Right now, it looks like all Syria and Iran have left is each other.

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Friday, February 18, 2005


History = Sexy

That is all...

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

The History of the Swimsuit Issue 

I can't believe Daniel Drezner missed this one...

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Iran-Syria Alliance 

This about covers it:

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Quote of the Day 

"In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination." - Mark Twain

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Maybe I was wrong... 

Iran and Syria might not be the best targets to be at the top of the US's hit list...

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Ahhh, the joys of theocracy... 

This is really, really funny...

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

RatherGate heats up 

Captain Ed has a great post on the imminent legal nightmare that CBS news faces. I personally hope full discovery happens and that they fry...

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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 

It looks pretty awesome, actually. To bad the author didn't live to see it...

You can see the trailer at Amazon.

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Iranian Nucleur Plant explosion 

This is a strange series of events, and I can't help but note agian the Russian connection (see below). The presence of US drones overhead lends credence to conspiracy theories about the blast, but as yet the cause is unknown.
Iran's interior ministry denied the blast was caused by a hostile attack and said it happened minutes after an Iranian plane had flown over Dailam

More on this to come, but there is sure to be international reaction, and statements from the Iranian Government.

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Re: Syria and Iran 

This won't help much either. Russia is a growing problem, one I hope resolves itself before we get into anything with Syria or Iran...
(ed. Apparently we beat Yahoo to this "United Front" thing, check the times)

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Iran and Syria: Burgeoning conflict 

Its not a matter of which anymore, but a matter of when. It seems that Syria and Iran aren't competing with each other for the top of Jason's list; rather they have agreed to share the prize. Both governments claim that the budding alliance is not anti-American, but if this is the case, what exactly are they uniting against? The infidelic Israeli Jewery? Not that it would be surprising, or indeed contrary to anything either government has said before. Clearly this is meant to show solidarity agains the western Imperirialist infidels. Iran is not helping themselves by refusing to comply with demands regarding nucleur programs, and by authorizing the downing of US drones. Most amusing was the use of rhetoric, similiar to President Bush's discussion of troops in Iraq, to justify Syrian pressence in Lebanon:
Moustapha told CNN Damascus regarded its military presence in Lebanon as a "stabilising factor" and said "we would be happy to withdraw the troops" if the Lebanese government asked Syria to do so.

How's this for stabalizing? The truth of the matter is that we saw much the same rhetoric and blatant disregard from Saddam and Saddam-era Iraq. He was later recovered in a spider hole...

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A revolution in political science 

The Perestroika movement. An interesting read, and essential for poli-sci people that don't already know about it.

What strikes from that article me is the comparison made to the discipline of economics, where mathematics and rational choice theory have already won. If political science goes that route, where do the qualitative researchers go? I guess they go where the qualitative economists have gone: they'll become historians, because history is not bound by straightjackets of methodology. You can almost write whatever you want, as long as it works. And while gaining more minds is good for history (and future historians like me), it's certainly bad for the disciplines that are locking themselves into one mindset and losing intelligent people. Haven't people learned by now that pluralism is always good?

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The Scandalous bias of Google News? 

"Not so fair and balanced", says Michelle Malkin. LGF and Jack Lewis have had strange responses as well.

The next news scandal?

I wonder if Yahoo News, which has the added pluss of RSS support, is better than google news as far as balance goes?

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Syria or Iran? 

Who will be on the top of the list next for political and military intervention? Before this weekends assassination in Lebabon, I would have said Iran, but it looks like Syria is trying to take away the top of the hitlist from the mullahs. I can't decide though, although I think the safe bet is on Syria right now.

Either way, though, bringing down another tyrannical regime is a win-win for both us and the people of the region. Well, unless you're a despot...

UPDATE: This site is probably the best source on Syria right now.

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Stop the presses! 

Wow, that's really irrelevant nowadays...let me try again...

Stop the electrons! (You'll need to work on that one-ed)Yeah, I know...

Anyway, shock of shocks, the US is spying on Iran with satelites. Yeah, that's right, satelites.

You may lift your jaw off of the floor and resume your business...

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Thought of the Day 

Not as high-minded as normal, but since it mentions CNN I couldn't resist...

"CNN is one of the participants in the war. I have a fantasy where Ted Turner is elected president but refuses because he doesn't want to give up power." - Arthur C. Clarke

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McCain waves stick futily... 

...at local newscasters that cover little local politics. The market has spoken, and while it may be a shame, I don't see how one can force them to cover more local stories. Any attempt would just be too close to state-sponsored TV for my liking...

Well, I guess that makes sense coming from McCain. We know he has concern for the First Amendment and free speech after we see the chilling effect on political speech he wants campaign finance laws to have...

What a shame...

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I'm sure they will serve with honor... 

...but you have to wonder what the crew'll think of the USS Jimmy Carter...And isn't there something ironic (I'm not sure if it's strange or funny) about the thought of the USS Jimmy Carter attacking a foreign nation?

UPDATE: Glad I'm not the only one befuddled by this...

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Cox & Forkum Editorial Cartoons 

Wow. Every one of their cartoons is brilliant. A must read, really.

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If only... 

The following would certainly show sponsors of terror that we mean business...

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Pajamas at the Gate 

Take no prisoners...

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Bill Gates imitates T-Rex... 

Amusing...He's also planning on having MS release free anti-spyware software. That'll probably kill other free programs like Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy, which may be a shame, since a lot of hard work went into those projects for the sake of the consumer.

Yet again monopoly flexes its muscles and destroys the weak. That must be why M. Gates is practicing his dino impressions...

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Likely Iraqi PM shows moderation 

Al-Jaafari, the likely PM, wants equal political rights for women, and says that the new constitution should draw on other sources besides Islam for inspiration:
"I am looking for a constitution that would be a clear mirror of the composition of the Iraq people," he said. It should be "based on respecting all Iraqi beliefs and freedoms."
Ayatolla Sistani, the spiritual leader of Iraqi Shiites, is also not directly supporting a candidate for PM. The cleric's unwillingness to engage in politics will hopefully set a good precident for separation between the government and Islamic clerics.

This following statement about Sharia in Iraq by the likely PM seems to sound good as well:
The party explicitly urges for the "Islamization" of the Iraqi society and the state, including the implementation of Sharia, or Islamic law.

He dismissed the apparent contradiction, saying only, "theory is different from practice."
After less than two years since the invasion of Iraq by the United States, things look incomprehensibly better in that country than they did under Saddam.

I hope that the moderation that al-Jaafari has shown in this interview rules the day and becomes imbedded in the nascent Iraqi political culture. If it does, democracy will succeed. This is a good first step.

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Sistani was right 

At least in advocating for earlier, broad-based elections than what the US originally envisioned. The Sunnis are realizing that they need to get on board the political boat to have any say. That, my friends, is the road to stability and democracy--a realization that the peaceful political process and not violence is the road to influence and power in the new government.

Captain Ed has more.

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Democrats support a flat, regressive tax... 

...in California, of all places. Heh.

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Numeracy versus Literacy 

Rand Simberg ponders why it's acceptable for many educated people to have no understanding of math, but a similar disdain for reading is abhored.

I think the answer to that question is quite simple: an ability to read competently is a skill that is exercised much more regularly than knowledge of advanced mathematics, at least in everyday life. I used to know how to do calculus, got a 5 on the AP test, a in a calculus class that had proofs in it, etc, but I don't remember how to do much of it now. Why? Because I don't use it regularly. Not because I hated match--I found it interesting in fact--but because I just don't have much use for derivatives and integrals, let alone proofs of such concepts, in my everyday life and studies as an history major.

I still understand the broad concepts that I learned in a general sense, and when I see mathematical notation I can work out a basic understanding. However, expecting much more than that from those of us that don't use math everday as part of our studies our living is unfair. Advanced mathematical knowledge is specialized knowledge. It'd be like expecting a mathematician to have a detailed knowledge of the Roman Empire or Victorian Britain for example. They might, but such knowledge would be something that they would more likely not have because it's not something they involve themselvs in every day.

Basic math and reading are both essential. However, since speech is related more closely to writing than it is to math, and we speak every day, that explains why reading is valued more than math. Good reading skills mean a better understanding of the spoken and written word, and thus better skills at understanding the world and not being taken or lead by it.

The dropoff point for the use of advanced math skills seems to be earlier than that of reading skills. Arithmetic, basic algebra, trig, and calc are all you really need in most circumstances. The ability to read complex documents and decipher arguments seems to be much more useful.

Of course, I am obviously biased, because reading is what I do most of my time. Thoughts?

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Credit Cards don't lead to increased personal indebtedness 

Interesting: credit cards merely lead consumers to shift their debt from other high-interest sources of credit like pawn shops and layaway.

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Arthur Miller: Revisionist commentary 

Here's the concluding paragraph from a critic of the late playwrite:
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the fanfares to die away, and no less interesting to see whether any of Miller's plays outlive him. Most are already deservedly forgotten, but I expect that "Death of a Salesman" will continue to hold the stage, though not because it is beautiful or intelligent or provocative. It is, rather, sentimental, and sentimentality always goes over big in the commercial theater, so long as it's disguised as realism. More important, "Death of a Salesman" has a coarsely compulsive power that somehow manages to mask its aesthetic deficiencies, or at least render them momentarily palatable. That's the mystery of theater: It's all about what works, and like it or not, "Death of a Salesman" works. But it's no "Lear," just as Arthur Miller was no Shakespeare, and anyone who thinks otherwise is as lead-eared as he was.

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Good Point 

Iraq will probably be more pro-Iran than the US, but that doesn't necessarily mean much.

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Quote of the Day 

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. - Robert Benchley

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Long Live the King? 

I must admit that sometimes I feel the following sentiment (via Amo Amas Amat):
“Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king.”
-Sideshow Bob

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F-35 JSF 

I'm an airplane nut, so all I have to say is: Cool.

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Quote of the Day 

"Happiness depends upon ourselves." - Aristotle

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"I felt a great disturbance in the force..." 

"...as if thousands of reporters suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."

So who's the Emperor of the blogosphere? Obviously, Emperor Glenn Reynolds...

I guess we now know that botox doesn't do much for dark-side induced rotting of the flesh (that's right, Glenn Reynolds uses Botox, must credit MaroonBlog!!!!! j/k).

Seriously, as an aside: maybe one of these days I'll get to do more substantive posts. In the meantime, enjoy my fellow bloggers here here while I throw myself into more college work.

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Google gets cheeky 

Guess this is the next logical step from the WMD search result from last year...

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"Assualt Weapon" Mall shooting 

could turn out to be an anti-gun field day. The shooting took place in upstate New York, and apparently the guy was a really bad shot:
The man then walked out of the store and into the mall's main corridor, where he continued firing until he ran out of bullets...

A 20-year-old National Guard recruiter was struck in the left knee and taken by helicopter to Albany Medical Center, Olson said.

"There's a possibility he might lose the limb," Olson said.

The second gunshot victim, a 56-year-old man from nearby Kingston, suffered superficial wounds to his left arm, left thigh and left lower leg, possibly caused by a single "fragmented projectile," Olson said.

Another person was injured not from a bullet but possibly from flying glass, he said.

Two other people had bullet holes in their clothing, but escaped injury, he said.
He emptied the whole clip, and hit two people? Doesn't sound like any right wing conspirator I know. But much more worrisome than that is CNNs careful inclusion of only one quote in their openning paragraph:
The incident began shortly after 3 p.m., when a man from the nearby Saugerties area fired from "an assault-type rifle" as he entered a Best Buy store at Hudson Valley Mall, said Capt. Wayne Olson of the New York State Police. (emphasis added)

The quote is later clarified, when the officer explains that they haven't determined if the gun is legal or not to begin with, but the damage is done. The overt use of the quote, clearly dug from context, does little to mask the bias and intent of the author. It seems all to convenient that this occurs just months after several state and national weapons bans expire. The misnomer of "assault weapon" has been combated many times, (The Texas State Rifle Association has a good, concise piece here), but then the MSM has always prefered to villify the tool and glorify the criminal who uses it.
Liberals will be quick to label this prime evidence of the need to more strictly curtail the availability of certain weapons, mostly differentaited for consmetic reasons. But a healthy 20 year old in a crowded mall couldn't manage to seriously wound more than one person. What if the nature of the crime lies not in the weapon it is committed with, but (Gasp) the perptrator himself! Sadly, I fear the brilliance of this insite will be lost on Billary et al...

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Re: What a maroon 

The real travesty here is that it is secifically noted as appearing in "News." Memo to Lancetta (and this ones not forged): Learn the difference between Op-Ed and News piece. And while you're at it, learn how to write.

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Classical Values are Good 

From the blog of the above title i have learned that 1/3 of high school students thing that the First Amendment goes too far in protecting rights.

This seems pretty modest to me:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
But then, I am classically educated thanks to the rigours of the University of Chicago=)

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

What a Maroon 

As you might know, this last week about 150 University of Chicago students hosted 2,200 plus high school students at the seventeenth annual Model United Nations at the University of Chicago (MUNUC), and I was one of them. It cost me a lot of sleep and a lot of time which could have been spent studying, but I did it because it interests me and because it was a great experience for me in high school. This is the very first paragraph from Joel Lancetta's story on MUNUC in the Chicago Maroon, the school paper:

This past weekend, Model United Nations of the University of Chicago (MUNUC) hosted one of the premier high school United Nations simulations in the country for the 17th year. Some 150 Chicago students sacrificed time and sleep to teach thousands of high school delegates that, unlike the Bush administration’s policies, diplomacy and debate can work.

Personally, if there's one lesson that model U.N. conferences have taught me, it's that the U.N. is almost useless. No model U.N. committee I have been a part of has ever done work that can be described as effective and decisive. You might chalk this up to delegate inexperience, but I think that it's telling that most delegates have less regard for state sovreignty and individual freedoms than most real U.N. delegates.

One would think that the recent real-world examples of U.N. ineffectiveness during the tsunami and the U.N.'s willingness to let slide the genocide taking place in the Sudan would help counter that impression.

Perhaps if Mr. Lancetta had listened to NU law professor Douglass Cassel's keynote speech, which discussed the U.N.'s morally repulsive behavior towards genocide in Sudan, he might have realized his misconception. Perhaps, if he had paid attention to Rathergate he would have realized how unwise it is to allow personal bias into a news item, let alone an overt political statement. Instead, we get prosaic gems like this one:

A nagging suspicion continually crosses my mind throughout the session: Are these kids smarter and shorter than we were at their age?


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Saturday, February 12, 2005

A more virile strain of aids 

This is not good. Although, as it has been pointed out elsewhere, a more virile strain means there is less time for unknowing infectees to spread the virus before they get sick and find out about their plight...

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A Cool Photo Indeed 

Here. Hat tip: Ann Althouse

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Another one bites the dust 

After taking a pounding from the entire blogosphere, Eason Jordan has finally stepped down. Now, you might have thought that after Rathergate old media figures might have figured out that evading questions with silence and bogus remarks isn't the best way to defuse a crisis. Well, you would have been wrong.

Glenn Renoldys refers people to Hugh Hewitt's book (again). Personally, I find it amazing that he has to. People like Eason Jordan are supposed to be on the cutting edge of news to be effective. People like Eason Jordan are supposed to be fair and objective in order to be effective. And people like Eason Jordan are supposed to maintain basic jornalistic principles to be effective. Jordan obviously fails on all three counts: He did not providing sources to back up is claims or a transcript or tape to prove he didn't make them; he was obviously biased as a reporter and a poor journalist because of it, and he was Hopelessly behind the curve technologically.

Poor sod.

UPDATE: TLB has the roundup here.

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National ID Redux 

And now I reply to Andrew: The problem with the bill in question is that it forces states to link their id databases together into one national database. If all the info is together, and you have to have an ID to do many common things like board and airplane, than you have a defacto national ID. The national database is the key. Remove that from the bill, and it's less worrisome; however, it is still laying the groundwork, even without the national database, for the next logical step of creating a national ID.

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'Bush, more generous than FDR!' 

But is that a good thing? *looks at large defecit...*

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Re: National ID 

Not sure if I can go along with Jason on this one or not. The idea of a mandatory ID has, in the past, been viewed as a step toward invasions of privacy, and ultimately a Police State. I can't tell if that is what this is or not, so I think this needs a careful read. I think that reforming Drivers liscences is definatelly necesary, the fact that there are at least half a dozen types of ID's and drivers licences just for Maryland.

The measure, called the Real ID Act, says that driver's licenses and other ID cards must include a digital photograph, anticounterfeiting features and undefined "machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements" that could include a magnetic strip or RFID tag. The Department of Homeland Security would be charged with drafting the details of the regulation.

I am all for this, standardizing ID's would allow them to be verified much easier, and prevent all types of problems (underage drinking and terrorism alike). Also, I would be careful to note that the opponents of the bill are missing the fact that the bill standardizes IDs, but doesn't require citizens to carry IDs. As it stands now, we all have to show IDs to board planes anyway. Why not have them at least be somewhat standardized.

On the otherside of the issue, I am a die hard Second Amendment fan, and the idea that this could be used to encroach on fire-arm purchases, while slightly far-fetched, is still worisome.

And as for this:
The American Civil Liberties Union likened the new rules to a "de facto national ID card," saying that the measure would force "states to deny driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants" and make DMV employees act as agents of the federal immigration service.

Come on. They are (smacks forhead) undocumented immigrants! They shouldn't have drivers licences, because they shouldn't even be here!

What I am getting at is that standardizing ID cards and licences is not the same as mandating them. If such a bill were up, I would be as against it as the ACLU. But these are not the same thing.

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The Ultimate Red Sock 

Waiving the bloody sock?

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Let there be noise! 

In my grand and god-like benevolence I have enabled comments on Maroonblog. Yak it up, but keep your vulgar ramblings civil or I'll hurl lighting bolts at you (and ban you too).

Have fun. I look forward to the discourse.

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Back door to a national ID card 

Shame on the House Republicans. I hope this doesn't pass the Senate. The article doesn't state if it will. It's often the case that the house will pass radical legislation that has no hope of passing the Senate. I hope that's the case this time.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

A 'Burning Hell'? 

Only for those living in Iran... I don't hear the chants of Islamofascist fanatics, I only hear our victorious troops... (Wow, you're really turning into a velociraptor-ed) Naaa...I just wanted to allude to ancient Rome. Although a free Iran with no nukes would be a good thing worthy of great sacrifice. With great power comes great responsibility, right? (Unless, perhaps, you're an appeals court justice-ed)

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Spider-Man in Appeals Court Decisions 

But not cited. Stan Lee, call your office!

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Is Abbas for real 

about Peace? James Robbins thinks so. And today's developments seem to point in a positive direction. Despite the sudden developmetns, all of the Palestinians terrorist groups have rejected the cease fire, meaning that it probably won't last very long...

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Don't look now 

but North Korea has got The Bomb! (or so they say).
"We cannot spend another four years as we did in the past four years, and there is no need for us to repeat what we did in those years."
Did this guy vote for Kerry, or just work for him? More importantly, will this compel China to rethink its position as North Korea's "last remaining major ally.":
Since 2003, the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia have held three rounds of talks aimed at persuading the North to abandon its nuclear weapons development in return for economic and diplomatic rewards.

But no significant progress was reported in those talks, all hosted by China, North Korea's last remaining major ally.

Hmm... talks aren't working with a semi- sovereign nation, but we should have tried them in Iraq, right? (Stick that in your berret and smoke it.) Condi seems reluctant to make any sort of commital statement, but I guess that makes sense. Officially, the claims remain unverifiable, and North Korea hasn't tested a nuke yet, and how this will effect the precarious balance of power in economically booming Asia remains to be seen. Officially the US has said that we have no plans of attacking or invading North Korea, but this may change things. If they are bluffing, for how much longer? This calls for some interesting policy movement, so check back.

(ed. The recent announcement by President Bush about Iranian nucleur aspirations begs the questions of whether this will remain a blanket policy, or whether we need to adapt policy based on the presence of China in the N. Korean scenario?)

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Imperator! Imperator! Imperator! 

That's what we'll be hailing the proconsul in Tehran if they don't stop their nukes. And I'll be in the chorus.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

More corruption at the UN, this time at the 

UN Weather Agency?

The tempest inside the World Meteorological Organization began with a single check.

An accountant working late one night in July 2003 at the United Nations-affiliated weather agency in Geneva spotted a check that he had signed, but noticed that someone had endorsed it to an unknown third party, one L. Khalil. The accountant's curiosity was piqued, and he began nosing around.

"Within half an hour I had found about 25 checks worth about $400,000 that had not gone to where they were supposed to go," said the accountant, Luckson Ngwira.

That led to a formal audit and a continuing criminal investigation by Swiss authorities at the sleepy agency, focusing on allegations of embezzlement of training funds by Muhammad Hassan, a Sudanese employee who controlled that money. Investigators allege in documents and interviews that Mr. Hassan stole as much as $3 million over three or four years.

It gets worse

Mr. Ngwira, 49, the Malawian accountant who uncovered the first unusual check, initially hesitated to report his suspicions.

"Hassan was very close to the man who was then our secretary general," he said, referring to Godwin Olu Patrick Obasi of Nigeria. Mr. Obasi had run the meteorological agency for more than 20 years, and Mr. Hassan had boasted of being close to him. "They were always together, so we knew that if you annoyed Muhammad Hassan, you were annoying the big man," Mr. Ngwira said.

Mr. Ngwira said Mr. Hassan had told him that he had helped re-elect Mr. Obasi as head of the agency by defraying travel expenses for representatives of national weather services when they went to Geneva, one of Europe's most expensive cities. Those representatives elect the agency's secretary general.

Annan & co. wisely hang these guys out to dry, claiming that they are affiliated but not responsible. Representative Hyde (R-Il), chairman of the House IR Committee makes a good point, that the UN wants all the credit organizations like this can get them, but is neve willing to take any of the blame.

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Re: Fukuyama 

If at all interested, The National Review has an excellent article about the implications of president Bush's inaugural address, and the implimentation of Democratic Peace Theory in US policy since Bush senior. (Thanks WMD)

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fukuyama and the End of History revisited 

Francis Fukuyama presented a worthy follow-up to his now famous "end of history" thesis earlier today, one which was worthy of both the praise and controversy of the original. More importantly, it reinforced the relevance of Fukuyama's thesis in our current global political situation. (The original article can be read here) Needless to say, Fukuyama did not disappoint, restating the thrust of his monumental thesis, and adapting to objections that the last decade and a half have raised. Chiefly among these, he discussed the rise of Radical Islamo-fascism, and the recent Euro-American schism.For those unfamiliar, Fukuyama proposed on February 8th, 1989 (in the same room, Social Sciences 122, no less) and later in an article in the National Interest and a book of the same name, that the end of the cold war marked a resounding victory for western democracy and culture. He argued that the progression of modernization had its goal not in socialism, but in liberal democracy. He writes that it marked:
...the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affair's yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.

His discussion this evening focused mainly on the topics of dissent mentioned earlier. He notes that there is empirically a de facto Muslim exception to the progress of modernization. This discussion seems particularly relevant to me, as opponents of Bush's "democracy on the march" seem to imply that Arab-Muslims are inherently unfit for democratic society. Fukuyama argued to the opposite, noting first that non-Arab Islamic nations, such as Turkey and Indonesia, have not experienced the same lag in political or economic modernization. Thus the problem must be one not of Islamic origins, but of cultural Arab roots. This seems to skirt the issue, at least slightly, in my opinion, but he led in nicely to the topic of Radical Islam. He argued that it is not in fact a fundamentalist movement at all, instead a reactionary movement taking place in Arab-Islamic countries that borrows from the extreme right and left of 20th century Europe. He compared its sudden rise to that of German Fascism; a people in need of an identity in the midst of industrialization. He then argued, and I tend to agree, that were it not for the support of oil rich Saudi Arabia and Yemen, such a movement would be a much smaller phenomenon. He stated that he this does not render outdated his thesis, on the grounds that Islamic theocracy and Islamo-Fascism are rejected by the mainstream Arab world.

On the second issue of division, he proposed that certain cultural differences between the US and Europe lead to the current divisions, but will not result in an "civilizationary" change. Among them, he cited Europeans love of the welfare state, differing views on sovereignty, and beliefs on the use of military. He concluded by noting that he has no answer to those not at the end of history, because there is no accepted theory as to what drives and enables modernization. The force of Fukuyama's argument has lost little of its strength in 16 years (amusingly, both he and the professor who introduced him both cited today as the 15th anniversary, not the 16th), and less of its eloquence. His subtle adaptations lend credence to many of the claims made by present day conservatives regarding the spread of democracy and western values. I was most pleased with his comments on Muslims in Europe, an Issue Pete addressed in an earlier post. Europe, he said, must craft policies that both recognize that they are no longer a Christian society, and ask of their immigrants that they accept certain enlightenment ideals common to Europe and western civilization.

Criticism abounded during the questioning period, among them one man accusing Fukuyama of painting modernization as a "paradise on earth," while glossing over the remarkable atrocities of the last century, which are greatly attributed to modernization. This of course, is a common liberal objection to the thesis, and simply shows a lack of understanding of Fukuyama's true argument. As his thesis states, (and Roger Kimball argues nicely here ) the end of history does not imply an end to either conflict or development. Nor is he trying to paint modernization as a cultural panacea. Technology is morally nuetral, we must remember, and just because a particular development carries with it the capacity to do evil does not make that development inherently evil (see liberals on gun control). On the issue of Islamo-Fascism as a threat to liberal democracy, I tend ot think that the more powerful rebuttal is the one he largely skirted over. The fact that the movement is based on tenants of the Arab-Islamic World, and outdated political philosophy, means that it lacks any sort of broad appeal outside of the Arab world. It would need the broader appeal of the socialists worker's movement, for example, in order to be classified as a threat demanding he revise his thesis. As a final note of interest, at one point Fukuyama offered a stirring defense of American exceptionalism, scoffing at the suggestion that a "neo-con conspiracy" had given rise to it. He pointed out that on the back of the $1 bill can be seen a Masonic symbol, below which is the inscription "New Order of the Ages." Fukuyama seems to agree.

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Mr. Hewitt: 

writes about "the most busted name in news."

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The Points system 

that was the bane of unskilled Americans desperate to move to Canada after the elections may now be adopted by the UK.

The British government yesterday proposed tighter immigration controls and said only skilled workers who speak English would be allowed to settle in Britain permanently.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the government also would fingerprint foreigners applying for visas to stop them from remaining in Britain once their permits expire.

The measures, which would not affect citizens of the European Union, are part of a Europe-wide drive to tackle illegal immigration — an issue particularly sensitive for Prime Minister Tony Blair's government as it gears up for national elections expected in May.

This is an important step for UK immigration, but I think that it's even more important that the other EU countries stand up and take notice. Language is arguably one of the most important parts of a nation's culture, and integrating immigrants into that culture is one thing that many EU countries (here's looking at you France) have had difficulty doing, and must do in the future if they have to survive.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Re: Billary 08 

Read the comments by Roemer in the Dean article ( link here). About time somebody talked some sense over at the DNC.

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Billary '08 

Well, dont say I didn't tell you so. Her miraculous "move to the center" has begun. If only Howard Dean wasn't getting so much of her darn attention right now, she might be able to use the Iraqi voting success to reposition herself on the war (you can quote me on that one, 'cuz we all know its coming). And speaking of Dean, he is all alone at this point. See my earlier post, but I think this will only make things more difficult for madam Billary. Not only is he hogging the spotlight, he's saying all the wrong things!!!

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Re: Iraqi Elections 

Hmm, kurds making gains. Worrisome that the US backed Allawi has slipped behind another ticket, but the Kurds should be pretty pro-US at any rate. This brings another counter to the "its time to leave Iraq." crowd, however. We need to hang around long enough to ensure that the Kurdish backlash against the Sunnis isn't that bad.

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Bush = Big deficits? 

Meh. Big deficits aren't good; I like a strong dollar. I can't buy foreign wine at reasonable prices otherwise... ;)

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Strategy to encourage regime change 

Machiavelli would be proud. And I wouldn't mind. I say let's march to Damascus, and Tehran, and Pyong Yang, and Riyadh, and.......(Hmmm...that sounds familiar...-ed)

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A good argument for Regime Change 

Take a look at this old article from 2002 by Christopher Hitchens supporting intervention in Iraq. It barely mentions WMD, and makes a pretty good case.

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The definitive criticism of the term 'chickenhawk' 

Here, here, and here. I think making such arguments now would be a lot harder, but in 2002, people still remembered September 11 vividly enough to have some sense.

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Goldberg smacks down Juan Cole 

And, I thought I should add, being a 'maroon' is not a bad thing.

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Academic freedom is dead 

Expelling someone for writing an opinion paper is just patently ridiculous.

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What's french for 'crow'? 

France wants a fresh start in its relations with the US...

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Replace Hubble 

We'll get a better telescope for a price less than a service mission. What's the down side?

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Friday, February 04, 2005

Deaniacs and the future of the party 

So, what does the probable promotion of Dean to DNC Chair mean for the Democrats? Depends on who you ask. It seems to be a reverse from the earlier stance that Dems need to connect to "morals" voters, considering his hard line pro-choice stance, his state's track record on Gay marriage and his dubious and equivocal statements on Drugs.The obvious answer is that they are looking to energize a bummed out party, and Dean is certainly high (yaaaar!) energy. But this cannot be expected to go over well with their pressumably still moderate base. The bottome line is that this will hardly win them any elections and most likely it will simply be another opportunity for the Media to prostrate themselves before the alter of unchecked wacko liberalism.
I am being reminded that he will only be party chair of a party that holds no visible majority anywhere (unless the supreme court counts, but I like to pretend they retain a shred of nonpartisan dignity), but this means he will be representing the Dems to America, at least until Hillary gets around to campaigning. Speaking of which, how does the self-proclaimed heir apparent feel about the matter? Dean garnered Ickes support on the 29th, for what its worth. I am not sure what Dean's removal from the '08 race will mean, except for one less person lossing to madam Billary in the primaries. She can't be too pleased with him crashing the recent news coverage of her conversion to moderate. I think it's difficult to imagine him winning the primary anyway. The amount of media attention surrounding his stunning rise and monumental train wreck in Iowa have already alerted most Americans to his politics, which needless to say fall outside the realm of mainstream america. The goal of all this is surely to spark more "grass roots" movements and garner support, and it probably will. I'm just not sure for which side.

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Re: What about the exit polls? 

Looks like they are winning by a lot, Pete. So much for the Dean Factor.

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Well, Japan confirmed the first case of Human Mad Cow Disease, and it appears the US is poised to confirm the first Party Wide Infection. This of course begs the question: What's for dinner?

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Joinin' Up 

Hello, Andrew Dzwonchyk here, another first year at the college. I'm looking forward to adding fuel to the fire, so stick around.

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I'll go even farther... 

Glenn Reynolds is the antichrist. Yep, the bringer of the end times, the child of Satan, the embodiment of pure hatred and destruction. And he had an abortion (I can't find a link to the picture!).

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A roundup of history on the web 

I'm a history major, so I really appreciate this. Go check it out.

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FDR wanted social security reform 

That trumps all, I think.

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The legal system... 

...can be pretty screwy sometimes. This is a prime example of the damage frivolous lawsuits can do.

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Pictures of an exploding star 

Clearly, with such majesty, there must be a God, ehhh?

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Brand new rule sets 

Dr. Thomas Barnett's New Rule Set Project has come out with its first e-Journal. I'm not quite through it yet, but I did read Dr. Barnett's article, and, although I'm quite familiar with his argument already, it seems to be a pretty good primer as to his opinions on Iraq. I think he's right about alot of things. Although I'm not sure he expected that the elections would go as well as they did, I think that everything would have gone smoother - and will go smoother in the future - if we followed his ideas about system and force restructuring.

If you want to get the full story on Barnett, here's his lecture, and here's his book. I suggest that everyone should watch one or read the other. Or both.

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What about the exit polls? 

The early results are in in Iraq, and, unsurprisingly, the Shi'ite coalition is winning.

Jalal Talibani, the leader of Kurdistan is going to seek the position of President or Prime Minister. Can I say I think this is unlikely at best, and possibly very dangerous? It's not like the Assyrians are going to call dibs on Minister of the Interior any time soon.

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The latest on Eason Jordan 

Hindrocket has a pretty good rundown on the Eason Jordan affair. If you don't know who or what I'm talking about, Jordan is the top newsman at CNN and claimed at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the United States military has been targeting/deliberately killing journalists in Iraq.

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