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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ten most Harmful books of the 19th and 20th century 

This is good stuff (Hat Tip: WMD). Let the debating begin (Jason...)

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France cuts off its nose 

After the disastrous EU Constitutional Vote, all of Europe is in disarray, and Chirac is flailing vainly to save his legacy and his control of the government (Perhaps best expressed here). In some interesting analysis here, Turkish news source Zaman Daily notes the contradicting, and at times blindingly dumb, motivations for the various opponents of the charter.

According to the survey conducted by the Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) research center, 46 percent of French voters gave the reason that unemployment will increase with the introduction of the EU constitution for their rejection, and 40 percent said no due to their continued dissatisfaction with the current situation in the country. While 35 percent of the people who voted "no" find the constitution "too liberal", and the other 19 percent voted no because their anxiety that France will lose its identity.

In the CSA survey published in Le Parisien newspaper, on the other hand, 41 of voters rejected the constitution due to "the social problems France experiences", and 26 percent said "no" because of the "role of France in Europe".

Astonishing as it may be, many of the no votes had nothing to do with the content of the charter (as the numbers show, almost half voted no based on domestic strife). But rather than voting for reform to fix a shattered economic system, most voted no because they want to preserve the system of public Health Care and economic free riding, one which has had the result of unemployment above 10%, 1 in 4 French youth unemployed, and a Health Care budget more than 25 BILLION Euro in the red.
What's most interesting about the landslide no vote is how the Right and the Left (in French terms, which to those of us in the US "The center left" and "the insanely far left") basically came to opposite conclusions about the treaty, but still voted the same way! (Audio). While the French communists and moderate lefties saw the treaty as a giant capitalist ploy to unify all of Europe under a massive, satanic free market (which really wouldn't be that bad in its own way), the French Right expressed disdain with the loss of sovereignty and flexed their nationalism, mirroring in many ways the common UK discontent. Its no surprise that domestic concerns motivated the vote as much as political ones, what is surprising is that neither side got it right.
In essence, the vote vindicated many principles of realist dogma (which I must concede, grudgingly at times, often get it right), in particular that Nations, not organizations like the EU (or the UN), are the only lasting players on the global stage, and that nationalism and sovereignty will always win out. While subsequent votes could weaken this outcome, it is clear the French voters rejected the only means, sound or not, of balancing the United States. Ironically, it was their hatred of western capitalism that drove them to their demise.

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Monday, May 30, 2005

Chicagocrime.org 

Lots of crimes around my dorm. If only that was the reason I spend all of my time in my room, instead of the never-ending reading...

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In Memory 

Happy Memorial Day. God Bless the soldiers that fight for America, both the fallen and the survivors of both the past and present.

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

In Defeat... 

A victory. France Rejects EU Constitution! Developing (more to come)

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Memorial Day 

"Be it Memorial Day or Veterans Day or the Fourth of July, that's the point," she said. "The point is every single day of freedom is brought to you by that person who is not sitting there."

Just a friendly reminder of why we get Monday off. If I had a table, I'd set one too.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Apples to Apples at Guantanamo 

The Washington Post circled the wagons this morning with a story meant to protect Newsweek's story about "Koran Abuse." Carefully crafting a flashy headline to disguise a misleading and much less interesting story, the Post cites claims from 2002 that Koran abuse, and other prisoner abuse (the Koran is being held captive at Gitmo? Interesting...), were widespread at Guantanamo.
The summaries of FBI interviews, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of an ongoing lawsuit, include a dozen allegations that the Koran was kicked, thrown to the floor or withheld as punishment.

Ah, the heart felt sympathy with which the Post describes the "ravaging" of the Koran. Too bad its not true (here too). They ignore the fact that several detainees made high profile allegations, then provided no specific examples of abuse, and admitted never having actually seeing the abuse go on. One even claimed the guards were fornicating with the detainees' mothers! Come on, this is what is taken for a credible source by the Post these days? What happened to the last shreds of journalistic integrity? They published this story without even knowing if any of the allegations made are substantiated. And more importantly, even if they are true, WHO CARES?
Its time for people to examine this issue for what it actually is. Koran abuse didn't start at Guantanamo, it started with the terrorists who manipulated the holy book of Islam to justify crashing planes into buildings, murdering innocent children across the middle east, and conducting an un-"holy" war against western civilization for grievances, real and contrived, that range as far back as the crusades. We owe the religion of these terrorists (which is not Islam, and this should not be confused with such a statement on Islam at large) no more respect than we owe there entire backward, theocratic, chauvinistic, anti-western ideology. While the MSM fights to uncover the horrors taking place at the hands of the US military, the Patriot Act, the Bush administration Gestapo, the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts, we are in the midst of new operations in Iraq, seeking to eradicate more of the type of person who is currently contained in Guantanamo. Hopefully they will be killed in the action, so that they don't have to endure the "terrors" of Guantanamo. When will the media and the American left learn who the enemy is?

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Taxing... 

There is something timeless and downright hilarious about anything P.J O'Rourke writes, especially when it makes some policy sense too!
America's media and entertainment industry has a gross (as it were) revenue of $316.8 billion a year. If we subtract the income derived from worthy journalism and the publishing of serious books, that leaves $316.8 billion.

Classic!

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The Sith Sense 

This is pretty awesome. Vader's responses between answers are pretty funny too.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Justice and Mercy 

As long as Jason is going to link to every story published by NRO in the last 6 months (j/k), I figured I would link to a particularly interesting piece on the relative merits of justice and mercy, framed in a discussion of "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings" (Again, kudos to WMD). Those who cry inconsistency when they hear that many (myself included) support capital punishment but not abortion need to read on, and read carefully.
They all wanted me to realize that justice without mercy is inhuman and a boon to tyranny. That's true. But I wanted them to realize that mercy without justice is a sickening evil unto itself, one that corrodes the souls of victims and victimizers alike. God is indeed love, but love without responsibility is just a pretty bubble on the wind. I heard too many demands for "mercy" that were just softly-scented pleas for sentimental injustice. Real mercy respects justice enough to submit to it. Real mercy seeks atonement, not excuses.
(emphasis is mine)

This is why we fight so hard to bring to justice those who have done wrong. Such doctrines of "mercy" as proposed by the critics he mentions would mean that we ought not to seek out the murderer, the rapist or the terrorist at all, but rather forgive and forget, and pick up the pieces with whatever other cheek is left to turn. Mercy implies justice, and justice is itself merciful. What greater mercy is there for all parties involved than to atone for wrongdoing?

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Mmmm... 

I'm hungry now...

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Rove is a genius 

His special undercover agaent Howard proves it.

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What do you get 

when you shake flying monkeys and alcoholism over ice and serve with a nice olive? This.

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Now this'd probably start a second civil war 

President Cheney: "he likes to crack skulls for truth, justice and the American way."

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I want some new Senators 

Ohio republicans need to mount an effective primary challenge against these double-dealing RINO turkeys.

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The Nuclear Option 

Goldberg laments the coining of such a politically foolish phrase while saying whoever coined it should be chastized. I believe Trent Lott coined it.

Here's a great quote that sumarizes Goldberg's opinions:
And lastly, the phrase simply smacks of that typical, annoying, testosterone drenched attitude of Hill Republicans. Noooo...we can't use a phrase like "restore comity" or "reform debate" for we are Klingons! We must talk the manly talk. We must show off our big swinging nuclear options.

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I hope they're okay 

But the two people that were hurt in a mock lightsaber duel after the flourescent tubes they filled with gasoline exploded (!) were apparently videotaped when the incident occured. I somehow pine for the day when that tape hits the 'net. Darwin nominees for sure--maybe that'll comfort them during their recovery.

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Bloggers Unite! 

The New York Times editorial page ("You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy") has an engaging (for once) piece on the ongoing battle between Chinese authorities and bloggers (Hat Tip: WMD). The author encapsulates the effects of the growing numbers of bloggers on the gradual movement toward a modern political system, echoing posts I have made, and one by Jason as well:
"...the Internet is beginning to play the watchdog role in China that the press plays in the West. The Internet is also eroding the leadership's monopoly on information and is complicating the traditional policy of "nei jin wai song" - cracking down at home while pretending to foreigners to be wide open."


The problem with this latest challenge to the stranglehold on information that the Chinese government relies on for its very existence is one of quantity. They may eventually find a way to arrest or silence Mr. Li, the subject of the article, but there are millions more waiting, or already doing the same thing. Noting the authorities recent crack downs on web dissidents, the author reminds us "there just aren't enough police to control the Internet." And what’s more, the internet's ability to disseminate information at lightning speed, and to make overnight celebrities on a global scale (Think Star Wars Kid and that lip syncing video), means that the uproar caused by such a high profile arrest would cause more harm than good.
This, of course, points to a much deeper problem in china, one that relates also to our ongoing discussion of China-Taiwan. A friend over the weekend raised the pertinent question of whether "China" as such will continue to exist long enough to exhaust a time table for invading Taiwan. Some are already predicting that such an invasion will never come, preceded by an upheaval on the Chinese mainland.
So, how should this all effect US policy? China continues ot fight the current against progress and freedom with its grueling attempts at censorship and silencing opposition, but how long will such a measure last? And Taiwan, the US and allies cannot rely on an impending change to deter Chinese interests.

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Senate Compromise 

Well, the story of the day of course is the "compromise" struck to avoid a filibuster. As usual, National Review has an excellent roundup (here (excellent), as well as here and here), and good, insightful commentary can be found on proteinwisdom. Most interesting, a little piece about the New York Timesshooting itself in the foot on the filibuster issue. The attitude seems generally negative, and it should. Nearing a showdown that would have ended ongoing Democratic delay tactics as they continued to shrink into irrelevance, "moderate" (read: cowardly) Republican senators decided to take it into their hands to speak for the party at large by refusing to fight. Snatching defeat from the Jaws of victory, we instead get to read quotes of McCain extolling the virtues of the "voice of the minority," which as I have said before is such a false manipulation of the very essence of democracy that any who use it as defense should seriously be questioned in their capacity to lead. THE VOTE IS YOUR VOICE IN A DEMOCRACY. Not some petty, childish refusal to go on the record.
The only redeeming quality I can find right now is that this probably isn't over yet. The Supreme Court nominees will likely spark a new controversy, and perhaps it is there that Gondor will call for aide. This needs to be stopped, before we allow a bunch of sore losers to rewrite the constitution, and hijack the very workings of democracy.

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Physics Cards for your PC 

First sound and then video, and now physics cards. It may cost you a bit more, but the capabilities this adds for generating realistic physics in displayed scenes seem to make the extra cost worth it.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Accelerator Used to Decipher Archimedes 

We always need more classical texts. Glad to see we're getting another=)

Here's the site of the palimpset project itself.

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Quote of the Day 

The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.
- Herbert Agar

That quote was found on my newly customized Google homepage.

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Imminent Collapse? 

Is the European Union on the verge of collapse? Perhaps. If it does collapse or destabilize, what will this mean for its constituent nations and for the US? Maybe some more European nations, especially those besides France and Germany, will realize that they can be friendly to the US, which has done a lot more good for them (providing regionally security) than France and Germany have done for them recently (sucking up their money and granting it in farm subsidies to their own citizens and trapping them in innefective and wasteful socialistic capitalism).

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Intelligent Decline 

TCS: Tech Central Station - Intelligent Decline

I think what's important to remember about evolution is that no adequate theory on how life began--how chemicals became cells in primordial earth--has been produced. Without an explanation for the beginning, the chain of evolution has no foundation. Unless a good thoery on how life began is developed and proven with strong evidence, why is it any more outrageous to take on faith that God created life than to take on faith that life began spontaneously?

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Is MAD Obsolete? 

In todays world of suidicidal terrorists and rogue regimes that seem to be less than rational (like North Korea) and that haven't been dettered by threats of force (like Saddam's Iraq), is mutually assured destruction still a valid defense policy?

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Not all of mainstream media is clueless 

The Chicago Tribune reports on Newsweek's apparent manipulation of poll data in October to make it look like Kerry was closing the gap against Bush.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Try Harvard 

Because The Onion says so!

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Historical Perspective on Filibusters 

The founders considered requiring a supermajority in the senate to overrule presidential judicial appointments.

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An eloquent review of Episode III 

Read this review from the WaPo. It captures the grandeur that is the greatest success of the new Star Wars. It's not a perfect film, but it would have been hard to make such a film perfect without someone like Wagner or Shakespeare working on it. The tale is that epic.

Ahhh...I love tragedy. And when it delites the inner fanboy in me, even better=)

UPDATE: Here's Instapundit's review and a roundup of reactions to the film.

Another UPDATE: Go here to read an interesting take on how Anakin brings balance to the force--he gets rid of the real problem, which was all force-wielders, good and bad (if one doesn't subscribe to the Extended Universe novels and Luke rebuilding the Jedi order).

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Canada (final) 

Sigh.

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When ball bearings attack 

Fear the steel... Or should I say DREAD it.

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In Praise of History 

"...trying to plan for the future without knowing the past is like trying to plant cut flowers..." Read the whole thing; it's a great explanation of how history is very relevant today--it can provide guidance in making decisions as well as its important purpose of preserving knowledge of the past.

Hmmm...I think I'll go read some Gibbon now.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Re: Episode III 

Yes, I attended a midnight showing too (nerds unite!), and Episode III was all that I expected and more. While I can't agree with Jason that about the first two (I enjoyed them, taken for what they are and what they had to be), I do agree that this is by far the best of the three. It is the first time I can remember being moved by any of the new films. Lucas manages to touch emotions in the audience in ways not immediately present in episodes I and II. Kudos to George, he has crafted the final chapter to his masterpiece, and leaves , if not on top, then somewhere near it.

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Episode III 

Freaking awesome. It belongs with the old school trilogy. Cast off the other two, and enjoy the four good films of Star Wars. While not as good script and acting wise as LotR, I must agree that many of the effects shots are much more beatiful and better realized than LotRs. Lucas, after two failed attempts, seems to finally learned how to use effects and make a good movie at the same time.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Headline of the Day, May 18 

Link

Isn't that what they're supposed to do??

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Re: Denim 

Things are getting very interesting in Canadian Pariliament as the vote approaches. Most importantly, it appears that the budget will no longer serve as a referendum on the current administration, but rather an amendment to the bill that was meant to garner support from the NDP (Hat Tip: GHA).
"It's our intention to support Bill C-43, the original budget," Harper said, looking tired after a long day for the Conservative frontman that included the surprise defection of high-profile former leadership contender Belinda Stronach.

"We'll oppose Bill C-48, which was the deal with the NDP, which is complete irresponsible fiscal policy," Harper added.

...

Prime Minister Martin has said that both pieces of legislation are confidence matters, and that losing either vote would result in a federal election.

It appears, with the defection of Stronach, the vote will actually be even closer than predicted, but the Tory bloc should have enough with the votes of several key independants. Either way it goes, it will come down to about 2 votes.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Grey Lady takes steps towards online irrelevance 

This fall, the NYTs is going to make its oped columns only available online to paying subscribers. I can see no better way for them to drastically decrease their readership than to limit access to paying subscribers. They'll also lose all the add revenue they recieved from people coming from blogs to read their op-eds.

Oh well, the death of a rag like the NYTs is no loss to me...

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Monday, May 16, 2005

RotS 

It's Fresh! I'll post my own review Thursday after I see the movie.

UPDATE: Duh. Google aggregates movie reviews now.

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Color me surprised 

UNSCAM hearings resume tomorrow, following a Congressional report linking Kremlin officials to the oil-for-food scandal. Not that I'm shocked or anything - nobody thought that it was restricted to just one government or extra-governmental organization. What is going to be really interesting is watching the Kremlin try to control the damage - not something they usually have to worry about and therefore probably have little experience in. It's not that I expect a full-court-Press on the issue, but the coverage, MSM and otherwise, should put the Russian government in a very uncomfortable position.

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Denim Update (2): 

Now that the weekend is over, things are heating up again in Canada (no pun intended).
+ The latest polling numbers are telling a different story in Ontario, where the Liberals maintain a commanding lead. But look a little deeper:
The Leger Marketing poll for the Sun chain of newspapers put support for the Liberals at 43 percent in Ontario compared to 31 percent for the main opposition Conservative Party.
...
n the June 2004 election the Liberals won 75 of Ontario's seats with 45 percent of the vote, a result which allowed them to form a minority government.

The headline, and exposition, of this story are misleading. If the polls are accurate, the liberals have actually lost ground in what is considered their stronghold. Very interesting...

+ The political unrest caused by the ongoing scandal, and the recent agitation for overthrow, have sent the Canadian dollar plummeting. Another convincing argument for Martin's resignation. Even if he wins the vote (which he probably won't), how can he justify staying in power when he is only causing economic and political woes to the country at large?

+ Conservatives are already parading out policy reforms, ahead of the expected election in June. Reuters is reporting support for bank mergers a move away from government regulation so popular under the liberal regime.

+ Lastly, Bloomberg has an interesting piece profiling the two MPs whose votes will likely decide the fate of the Prime Minister:
Chuck Cadman, who lists guitarist Eric Clapton among his heroes, and David Kilgour, who quit Martin's ruling Liberal Party over its policy toward the Darfur region of Sudan, are the only undecided lawmakers as Martin moves toward a critical vote in Ottawa this week. Without their support, his 10-month-old minority government will fall, leading to elections in June.

Guess I'm not the only one "Running on Faith..."

Stay tuned, more to come!

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Walk the Walk 

It's time to get tough on Syria, and Condi has no qualms doing just that. This is an issue that should have been addressed some time ago.

"The Syrians have managed to get themselves in a situation of standing in the way of the progress of people in the Middle East and I would think that wouldn't be a very comfortable place for a Syrian regime to be," Rice said.

In addition to addressing recent Iraq issues, she also spoke to concerns about Syrian interference in the Lebanese elections. Its no secret how Syria feels about the United States, the much publicized alliance with Iran. Its time to really put the pressure on, especially if we want to actually shoot for the August Constitutional timeline. Foreign insurgents flowing across the Syrian border will be, and have been, a large obstacle to getting public opinion on board, especially in heavily Sunni areas. I also think we have a responsibility to the Lebanese to assist in an removing as much Syrian influence as possible. Hopefully, the Lebanese will use the power of their vote to elect a pro-western, moderate government, although it seems many are still loyal to the Syrians. I guess there's no accounting for taste...

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Chappelle in South Africa 

Hmmm...doesn't sound as crazy as I thought earlier. Its certainly true, though, that money changes the people around in a not-good way.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Denim Revolution Update 

Latest news on the events unfolding North of the border:

+ It appears that the Conservatives have taken the lead in the latest polls conducted, according to the latest polling numbers. (See also here) What does it mean? Well, the shift in popular opinion continues, that’s for sure, but will it be enough to oust the current administration? And if so, will the people install a conservative one? Food for thought

+ Canadians, and Americans, are starting to pick up on the disparity in converge between Canada and the United States, noting the superiority of US blogger coverage to that of the Canadian media at large. See here and comments here

+ Much of the discussion seems to center around the ability and willingness of Canadians to shrug off, at least partially, the liberal run nanny-state government. (See comments here). At least one reader claims that the culture of "Conservative hate-on" will continue, despite the scandal. Wonder how this changes with the latest numbers (see above)

+ Even the little that had been accomplished recently by Canadian Parliament has been stalled, as Sudan has rejected Canadian attempts to send troops and aid to war ravaged Darfur.

Stay tuned, with the coming budget vote this is bound to get really interesting (and potentially nasty)

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Star Wars Personality Test 

Yeah, I'm a geek. But it'll be worth it for the five minutes of James Earl Jones/Darth Vader badness I'll get to see on Wednesday night/Thursday morning...

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Chappelle flees to South Africa? 

This sounds like the plot of a scetch...

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Friday, May 13, 2005

Denim Revolution? 

Something is happening in Canada, which may result in a fundamental shift in the political makeup of the Canadian Parliament. The governing body remained deadlocked today, as they again voted to shut down early. The opposition is gathering support for a vote of no confidence, and it is believed that defeating the budget would result in the fall of the current administration (Sound like Episode I to anyone else or what?)

The division in the House is so close that every vote will count on Thursday's budget motion, which would bring down the government if it's defeated.
...
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper called on Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson to step in - although she can't force an election on her own.

However, the Governor General can summon the prime minister to Rideau Hall and advise him to dissolve Parliament and call an election


Where is this coming from? The answer is the much publicized (at least up north) Adscam scandal, which involved the Liberal party's misallocation and misuse of millions of dollars intended for Government advertising. Captain's Quarters blog first revealed the extent of the scandal when it published this blog that contervened a Canadian block on reporting on the testimony of one John Brault, president of a Canadian Advertising group called GroupAction. Once his testimony became public, the public opinion shifted dramatically against the liberal ruling government.
So, what will happen now? It appears that the upcoming vote on the budget will act as a vote of confidence in the current administration, with a rejection signaling the fall of the liberal minority. You know its bad when:
"several Tory MPs wore blue jeans to the Commons in a work-to-rule protest."

Who knows, maybe this will be known as the denim revolution, and join the ranks of Ukraine, Lebanon, Georgia and others as the Canadians shake off their own brand of corruption, in favor of a rule reflecting the will of the people. Perhaps Canada would even return to its place as a stalwart supporter of the US and Anglosphere Allies Australia, and Britain. Here's hoping.

[Edit: Welcome Instapundit Readers. Have a look around while you're here]

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A sweet piece of hardware 

If you're technically minded, check out these stats on the new XBox 360 due out in the near future. They're litterally jaw-dropping.

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Chicago trumps Harvard 

I'll take maroon over crimson any day...

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Rice on guns rights 

Condi today on gun rights:

"I also don't think we get to pick and choose from the Constitution," she said in the interview, which was taped for airing Wednesday night. "The Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment."

This is why so many are calling for this woman to run for President: she is articulate, intelligent, incisive and well versed in politics. She is right on the money yet again. Her anecdotal remarks about her youth silence liberal critics, as a black youth who experienced first hand the power of armed citizenry to defend life and property. And her belief that some regulation of sales is necessary, while adamantly disagreeing with any sort of gun tracking or ownership lists, will acquiesce hard liners. The core of her argument is sound principles: private ownership of firearms is a right owned by all citizens of a free society, and the government should facilitate safe and legal transfers of arms among citizens; nothing more. It seems she can see clearly what so many cannot:
"there might be circumstances that people like my father experienced in Birmingham, Ala., when, in fact, the police weren't going to protect you."

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A little Bullying never hurt anybody 

Especially the UN. Voinovich "slammed" (I love the choice of language by the AP People) the nomination of John Bolton today, but said he wouldn't filibuster. He called Bolton arrogant and bullying. And? We aren't dealing with the Idaho Caucus here, we are talking about the UN! The biggest collection of thugish third world leaders ever to garner some say in the decision making of the rest of the free world. Considering who sits on their human rights commission (Cuba? Zimbabwe? Come on!), I think they need a little pushing around...

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"Both (empty) Barrels" 

In the latest installment of the biggest scandal ever ignored by the MSM, British MP George Galloway fired off some comments to his detractors about his willingness to confront allegations he was heavily bribed during the oil for food scandal. (Hat Tip: G.H.A.)

"Book the flights, let's go, let's give them both barrels," his spokesman quoted him as saying.

"That's guns, not oil."


It is amusing to first note that Britain has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the civilized world, many of which Mr. Galloway voted for, and it is unlikely he would be able to brandish the weapon were he able to legally acquire it. A quick glance on wikipedia, and we discover that Mr. Galloway has a long history of fiery quotes, and soft actions:

+ In 1994, Galloway faced some of his strongest criticism on his return from a Middle-Eastern visit during which he had met Saddam Hussein and reported the support given to him by the people of the Gaza Strip. He had been filmed saying "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability".

+"I am on the anti-imperialist left." The Stalinist left? "I wouldn't define it that way because of the pejoratives loaded around it; that would be making a rod for your own back. If you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life. If there was a Soviet Union today, we would not be having this conversation about plunging into a new war in the Middle East, and the US would not be rampaging around the globe."

+attended 3% of votes in parliament in the last year — 649th out of 657 MPs.

+"No wolf would commit the sort of crimes against humanity that George Bush committed against the people of Iraq."

Mr. Galloway represents all that is wrong with the left today: the self loathing, the raging anti-corporate rants, and a superficial respect for the lives of a few, only to help him campaign among his shrinking constituency. "No wolf" eh? How about a dictatorial tyrant who murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people, cut off limbs, burned and stabbed, raped women and girls in front of their families and fed people through wood chippers. The saddest part is that I could be talking about Saddam, or the Soviet Union he so pathetically pines for. But this strikes at something deeper, quotes like this, something that is inherently hypocritical about the pacifist, socialist left in Europe, and growing in the United States.
George Orwell argued much better than I can, that pacifism is not only wrong but a moral wrong at its core. Mr. Galloway advocates acts of violence, comic as they may be, against legitimate authorities who question his involvement in an international conspiracy. Yet he condemns such action when it would liberate millions from the clutches of a never-ending nightmare in Iraq. So how can he claim to be anything but the biggest of hypocrits. You decry violence, yet you allow yourself to live in a civilized society that can only be maintained by other people undertaking violent acts on your behalf. You would will that others commit the very acts you yourself reject (at least some of the time), so that you can claim the moral superiority for not committing them?
Its no surprise he supported the Iraqi regime, it was feeding him a free ticket to millions of barrels of oil. If he wishes to confront his detractors, he will need to do better then make of beat remarks about brandishing firearms. He will need to address the legitimate body of evidence and allegations first raised by British media outlets, then by the Iraq Survey Group and the US congress. Part of me wishes he would come to the US, and be brought to task for his involvement. But, like before, I am afraid this is little more than more pathetic braying while others keep the wolves at bay.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Re: the New Cold War 

I have to go with Pete on the Russia call (and with reader George H. A.), at least partially. Initially, I argued on the side of Mearsheimer that Russia would need to balance the rise of Chinese power to ensure their own borders and sovereignty, and would consequently side with the US and western allies. Closer examination, and some basic realist tenants, demonstrate to the contrary. Most notably, and mentioned before, the Russians stand to gain financially from the Chinese defense expansion, and are already doing so. But even more importantly, there is a certain degree of Buck passing and coalition building here. The Russians will not again be a great power, at least in the near future, and will not be able to balance the Chinese on their own. India aside, the Chinese stand as the next possible regional hegemon. Knowing this, the Russians will do as all other non-hegemons do in a multi-polar world: join up with one side or the other. Combine this with financial benefits of such an alliance and the geographic and political gaps between the US and Russia, and the most likely outcome is that the Russians will probably not do much of anything. They wouldn't jump in on the side of the Chinese; they risk openly alienating the US and other Anglosphere allies; but they will probably continue to supply, queitly, the Chinese with armaments. Frankly, if this happens within the next 10 years, the Russians will do all they can to avoid entering the conflict at all. Realist "black box" aside, the Russians have too much else to worry about right now.

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Vader's Blog Redux 

"It is vital that you enhance the inter-departmental syngergies of your operation," I said. And then I killed him.
Good stuff.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

John J. Mearsheimer and the new Cold War 

Last Wednesday I attended a talk given by the Taiwanese Student's Organization. Speaking was Peng Ming-Min, a senior adviser to President Chen. He said exactly what you'd expect him to say: that Taiwan is it's own country with it's own identity at home and abroad (which the TSO demonstrates, by the way,) and that China's all wrong if it thinks that it can bully Taiwan back into the fold. Not that I disagree with him here, but it was pretty predictable.

So was Professor Mearsheimer, mostly. Obviously, M is a big proponent of nationalism, and he realizes that both the Chinese and Taiwanese have developed a strong sense of it, which will continue to drive this conflict - even if China suddenly becomes a democracy. While I can appreciate the power of nationalism, I don't agree that a change of government would make no difference in Chinese foreign policy.

Obviously, Mearsheimer thinks that future hostility with China is inevitable, and balancing is already happened - Japan declaring Taiwan a shared security interest with the US and the US allowing Lockheed Martin to bid for India's 126 fighter contract, and pledging to make India a world power. From M's point of view, it's all exactly what you'd expect from an offshore balancer like the United States, and yes, it's pretty predictable.

But there were a few surprises. Mearsheimer expects the timeline of any Chinese agression in the region to be anywhere on the order of 30-50+ years, a far cry from the 2008-2010 window forecast in this Navy War College paper. Furthermore, he expects the balancing coalition to be larger than I think will be achieved. Australia, South Korea, Japan, the United States, India and Vietnam are easy calls. But Mearsheimer is sure that Russia will eventually balance a Chinese threat to its borders, especially as its population continues to shrink. This I find hard to believe; unlike the previous countries, there is no evidence the Russians are especially concerned of growing Chinese military power. In fact, the Russians have been the primary source of the latest Chinese military hardware and technology, including the SS-N-27 Anti-Ship Cruise Missile, the Varyag aircraft carrier, Kilo-class subs, and the Su-30, which China has been buying up in large numbers and which easily eclipses its indigenous J-10 fighter.

Not only, that, but the strength and speed of the coagulation of the balancing coalition Mearsheimer envisions surprised me as well. When I asked about India balancing China, M responded (paraphrased) "I have spoken with a number of Indian military specialists, and the response is 100% positive, the Indians want to jump into bed with us as much as we do with them." Honestly, it's been pretty hard for me to find evidence of Indian enthusiasm to balance China - I've been lurking Sino- and Indian-defense boards to try and glean that sort of sentiment (and have been largely unsuccessful), so I guess this sort of second-hand info might have to do for me. It stands to reason, then, that the reason that India has been so slow to award its fighter contract (now largely a political decision) to Lockheed is that the F-16 is far from the best plane for the job. It's not, but it's a move they'll pretty much have to make, and in this both M and myself agree.

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"There is no Terrorist Threat" 

The London Times has perhaps the most important story in the web today, hands down. Prepare to be at least somewhat disconcerted.:
Dimitri spoke fluent English with an American accent. He was tough and businesslike. “The Alazan rocket will cost $200,000 (£105,000),” he said. “The price is not negotiable. It’s a very special thing.”

The Alazan he offered, a slender rocket 4ft 7in long with a range of eight miles and a radioactive “warhead”, is considered by defense specialists to be an ideal weapon for terrorists.

The implications of this story are shocking, and should demand an evaluation from anyone who stands to be harmed from the spread of such weapons, which is all of us. The reporter describes a 007-style series of encounters that would get the adrenaline pumping for any boy over age 8, were it not for the fact that the reporter comes within a single financial transaction of obtaining first one, and then three, advanced "dirty bombs." Transdniester is a relic of communist europe, an authoritarian regime that emerged from a short civil war as a police state recognized by no other government in the world, and is accused, so the article tells, of burgeoning arms sales. The broken, ex-soviet republic brings back memories of everything that was wrong the USSR, and the author's description of the crumbling soviet statues and slogans is almost comical. The end of the Cold War had many implicit effects, and one of the more worrisome ones from a foreign policy standpoint is the presence of massive amounts of agin, defunct and unregulated weapons caches across eastern Europe.
...in 2003 it emerged that at least 38 Alazans were fitted with warheads containing up to 400g of caesium-137 and strontium-90, apparently to help scientists track the clouds.

Specialists said that if they fell into terrorist hands and were fired into a city center, they would spread contamination for miles, causing widespread panic and economic disruption that would cost many millions of pounds.

The rockets are believed to be part of a huge stockpile of ageing, unwanted weapons guarded by Russian soldiers in Transdniester, a 129-mile-long sliver of land on Moldova’s border with Ukraine.


The fact that the reporter posed as a middleman for an Islamic Terrorist Group should bring home the gravity of this situation. Those of the Michael Moore and Blame America First crowd would have you think that things like this don't exist. The truth is that there are groups around the world who, unlike the reporters in this article, would have no qualms with forking over a relatively small amount of money to this group in order to obtain the weapons necessary to cripple the United States. The problem of terror is not a false threat, it is a very real matter of money.
President Bush is in Eastern Europe right now, being hailed by tens of thousands of Georgians as he promotes his spread of global freedom, and met with Putin several days ago. If Putin wants to patch relations with the United States, he should work to take action against the shadows of his country’s past that still linger in Europe. Mr. Bush, too, should address the presence of such accessible weapons, as there are few obstacles that are so dangerous, so damning to the spread of freedom as those who would do anything to prevent its spread.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Why we must fight for Freedom and democracy everywhere 

" I long for the day when all of us are free" Read it.

Those who say Iraq was better off without us, need to be reminded of what countries like that are really like. (And believe me, Iraq is much worse than China).

[Edit: Check out the pdf of the senate statement, and note who signed (or more accurately, who didn't sign]

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Smooth Operator 

President Bush made some slick political moves in the last few days, and it seems they are paying off: His visit to Moscow helped to patch up relations with a troublesome Putin regime, but he demonstrated he was not afraid to charge forward with his charge of spreading liberty and democracy for the second term, even if it rubbed some of his friends the wrong way. Stopping in Georgia not only makes him the first President to do so, but also sends a clear signal to the Kremlin that the recent reigning in of civil liberties in Russia is not in line with the Bush agenda. The Georgians couldn't be happier, which is always a good thing. Wonder if John Kerry would consider this "working with our alies?" Then again, who cares what John Kerry thinks...

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Call a vote 

Senator John Cornyn's guest peice in the National Review provides sound, if somewhat anectdotal, argument for demanding an end to the partisan filibustering (Further background, see my post here, which the senator seems to echo somewhat). It's disappointing that an angry minority can so hijack and malign the democratic process that a woman has waited 4 years just to know whether she is confirmed or not. Its not as if they are continuing to reject her, which would be fully within the power of the Senate to do,they simply are refusing to call a vote.
Unsurprisingly, she enjoys the enthusiastic support of a bipartisan majority of senators.

Yet a partisan minority of senators now insists that Owen may not be confirmed without the support of a supermajority of 60 senators — a demand that is, by their own admission, wholly unprecedented in Senate history. Why? Simple: The case for opposing her is so weak that changing the rules is the only way they can defeat her nomination.
Remind me again how obstinant silence is "the voice of the minority?"

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Friday, May 06, 2005

A little explanation 

is in order for the light blogging recently:



Scav Hunt is on... I'll try to blog, but if not, see everybody on monday

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Solar Sails 

This is just cool. Maybe we can strap one to Michael Moore.

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Brain Damage(ing) 

Terry Schiavo's handlers better hope that this story doesn't catch on, because whatever beleaguered and deflated argument they had to get them across the finish line goes out the window in light of stuff like this. There was an initial clamor after the accident to try to standardize laws regarding legal power of attorney and right to life, but some fervor seemed to have faded with the passage of time and baseless rhetoric about federalism (See my post on filibusters and Schiavo here). Perhaps stories like this will make people reconsider there positions on the debate.
Ten years after a firefighter was left brain-damaged and mostly mute during a 1995 roof collapse, he did something that shocked his family and doctors: He perked up...
"It's almost unheard of after 10 years," she said, "but sometimes things do happen and people suddenly improve and we don't understand why." (emphasis is mine, of course)

There are, of course, many differences between this man and Terry Schiavo. But with the knowledge that such recoveries are possible, and the reminder that they do happen, how can we be satisfied with a system of laws based on such a shaky and subjective diagnosis as "persistent vegetative?" The moral of the story, despite "progressive" mantras, is that modern medicine is by no means a panacea. While doctors should be expected to do all they reasonably can to diagnose and treat illness, the truth of the matter is that many things remain a mystery. This man's recovery shattered preconceived notions of even experienced staffers, one of whom noted that recoveries usually occur within 2 or 3 years. That has to beg the question: How long is too long to wait? In both cases, the patient was on no form of life support, and was as biologically self sustaining as a young child. Schiavo's only need was to have her food delivered in an acceptable median. She could even pass bowel movements. Supporters of her killing would seem to suggest that those who cannot feed themselves deserve to die, and can be killed if deemed necesary. Knowing that such social Darwinism was once the very enemy of the humanitarian left, I find it hard to believe that the lefties who clamored so adamantly for the "right to die," and claimed that a 13 year old was being "forced to carry a baby to term," would truly advocate such an animalistic and cruel statute.
The only way to avert future atrocities like the one we witnessed in Florida is for lawmakers to make a stand for basic human dignity, and propose legislation to standardize laws relevant to such cases. It took a miracle for this man to recover, a miracle that many families hope for, but like Terry's parents, may never receive.

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Terror in the Stacks 

Deroy Murdock, over at the National Review (Hat Tip: WMD), points out some interesting not-so-new developments in the ongoing debate over the Patriot Act, reaching a conclusion I announced several weeks ago: Critics need to put up, or shut up.
At least seven of the 19 9/11 hijackers used government libraries in the run-up to their mass killings in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. This fact should quiet critics of the Patriot Act who demonize it as a magnifying glass through which federal snoops read over the shoulders of law-abiding Americans. Instead, the Patriot Act should be reauthorized, and federal agents, with court permission, should feel anything but bashful about conducting counterterrorism investigations at U.S. libraries.

I couldn't agree more. Given the fact that most of the provisions in the Patriot Act are already legal for use against US citizens under criminal investigation, I am not sure what, or who, opposition supporters are defending.

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My day has been made... 


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Monday, May 02, 2005

A "real" Nucleur Disaster 

Kofi Annan continues to claw against irrelevance, issuing a statement on Nonproliferation Treaty today that was in large part intended to pander to protestors who gathered in New York over the weekend. His comments on Iran and North Korea were well grounded, and I think most of the civilized world agrees with him, but he couldn't resist a poke at the US
"An important step would be for former Cold War rivals to commit themselves, irreversibly, to further cuts in their arsenals so that warheads number in the hundreds and not the thousands," he said.

What Mr. Annan fails to grasp is that the main deterrent for rouge nations like North Korea is the might and arsenal of the United States, and our allies. It puzzles me that the United Nations still finds time to banter about reducing arsenals, even when the overall ineffectiveness of the United Nations has been proven again and again.
"Unless violations are directly addressed, the most basic collective reassurance on which the treaty rests will be called into serious question," Annan said.

It is hard not to be amused at the contradictions here. "Directly Addressed?" Where was the United Nations when the US and allies were directly addressing the proliferation of WMDs in Iraq? (Let me guess, "there are none!" Well, there were (check here, here and check out this list of articles, for starters)and besides, the only reason we know for sure is because we went in there in the first place!) The UN continues to call for action, as it always has, yet ignores the largest global crisis it now faces.
The true failure of the UN in the last 18 months has not been to address issues of North Korean and Iranian Nuclear arms. They have demonstrated, most recently in Iraq, that they are incapable and ill-equipped for such measures. Basic realism shows that States are, indeed, the largest players on the geo-political stage. Instead, they have continued largely to ignore the savage butchery taking place in the Sudan as we speak. While Annan issues high minded statements about global peace and humanitarian disarmament, civilians are being cut down in Darfur by the day. Where are the statements on the need for intervention in the Sudan? Why aren't countries meeting to question why countries like Zimbabwe and Cuba sit on the Human Rights committee? Its time for the UN to get back to what it does best, and really the only thing it does at all, before it is too late.

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Deep Thoughts on Rock, Paper, Scissors 

From Daniel Drezner (via Instapundit).

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