Post No Bills
Welcome to the Me Show.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
  • Missed because they wanted you to miss it: this government report (pdf) that the Christian Science Monitor observes is "highly critical of the administration's efforts in the war on terror and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." From the report:
    'Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies [the report says]. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.'

    That's a pretty sharp slap-down of Bush's rhetoric. The Monitor notes that the report was released late on Wednesday afternoon before the Thanksgiving holiday. Via Today In Iraq.

  • Bush is in Ottawa. Friends of mine have gone to protest. I am stuck editing down and finishing up my paper. If all goes well, I will be pretty much finished by tomorrow afternoon and Bush will go home knowing that Canadians think he sucks.
    "I made some decisions that some in Canada obviously didn't agree with," he told reporters. He added, in an echo of his stump speech from his re-election campaign, "I'm the kind of fellow who does what I think is right."

  • Monday, November 29, 2004
  • Domestic politics and the decline of the US. Via Majikthise.

    One of the more impressive statistics from the recent election was the correlation between education and voting behaviour. If you were young and educated, you probably voted Democrat. If you were young and uneducated, you probably voted Republican. At the time, I commented to friends and acquaintances that a possible consequence of this result would be a cut in federal funding for education. Even without the statistic, you might expect a funding cut based on the right-wing's obsession over the idea that academia is a haven and breeding ground for the radical left. If, for either or both of these reasons, you expected the Republicans to cut money for higher education, you were right:
    Nearly a quarter of low- and moderate-income college students who currently qualify for federal Pell grants will see their awards reduced or eliminated under a change in federal rules that Congress allowed in its new spending bill passed over the weekend, according to an estimate from higher education analysts.

    Declining numbers of educated people has obvious implications for US economic power, while simultanously raising the number of likely military recruits and the number of likely Republican voters. One more sign of the decline.

  • My formerly-Marxist friend Michael recommended I look for a recent Zbigniew Brzezinski article on the role a militarily-integrated EU could play in limiting American aggression. So far, the best I've come up with is this piece on the potential gains from a stronger US-EU alliance.
    That may not be easy to achieve, given divergent American and European perspectives, but the benefits of cooperation outweigh the costs of any compromise. For the United States, a joint approach would mean less freedom of unilateral action; for the European Union, it would mean less opportunity for self-serving inaction.

    I suspect this is not the same article, and I'll have to keep looking. Obviously, my interest is to see how Zbig's take on things aligns with my own high hopes for the EU. But by the by, this article is an excerpt from his book, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership, which I'd imagine would be quite interesting... From the Amazon page:
    This book makes an exemplary argument for the proposition that idealistic internationalism is "the common-sense dictate of hard-nosed realism."

    Truth be told, I'm not that familiar with Brzezinski's work. He's most famous for his 'grand chessboard' analysis of geopolitics and earned a reputation as a particularly keen observer of internal Soviet politics. He was also Carter's National Security Advisor. He's one of the figures which my political science schooling has weirdly skirted around without ever quite tackling directly, much to my regret - and surprise, given that he's a McGill graduate. Maybe I should point this lacuna in the curriculum out to my department.

  • Sunday, November 28, 2004
  • Entertainment and Politics.

    This is interesting. Warren Kinsella and I have overlapping musical tastes. For his review of the Pixies, whom he saw on Thursday in Toronto and which I saw on Friday in Montreal, click the link and slide to November 25. Judging from his comments, the Pixies may be the only band he and I'd agree on.

    Also, I just finished watching the latest episode of Enterprise. Yes, I am that big of a geek. This show has basically sucked from day one and really, deeply sucked all of last year. Last season's much-belaboured and fundamentally misconceived story arc was a replay of 9/11, with the target being Florida rather than New York. This year, though, they're doing a much, much better job. In the latest vignette, the Vulcan High Command takes the role of the Bush Administration, misrepresenting intelligence in order to launch a preemptive war. Finally, some rewarding science fiction.

  • The ShitBegone toiletpaper company is boycotting the Red States and offering a discount to the Blue ones.

  • Via Atrios, this report that various Iraq hawks, including "prominent neoconservatives" are calling for a significant withdrawal of US forces from Iraq following the January elections and should concentrate on border security rather than the urban centers.

    For this, Atrios labels them "batshit crazy". Something to think on.

  • Thursday, November 25, 2004
  • Political science gets steamy:
    Diane had longed to bandwagon with Jack since their first year in grad school. In their own prisoner's dilemma, she now knew that she wanted more than just tit-for-tat -- she had to have Jack's grim trigger. This wasn't just a one-shot interaction for her. She wanted repeated play -- and although she would never say this out loud, she sensed that Jack had a very long shadow of the future.

    It only gets hotter from there. By Dan Drezner, via Matt Yglesias, who says Dan's is the 'best... blog post... ever." Hmm... maybe the politics focus for Post No Bills was a poor choice?

  • Tuesday, November 23, 2004
  • Let's not let the Ukrainian election mess go unmentioned. I don't know much about the Ukraine, but I'll tell you what I do know.

    First, Ukraine is actually a pretty big deal, despite its apparent backwaterness. Although most people say it was the Baltic nationalist movements that did in the USSR, the coup de grace was definitely Ukraine's declaration of independence. One of the more striking facts of Ukraine's period as an independent country has been its willingness to (along with Kazakhstan) renounce nuclear weapons and send its Soviet nukes back to Russia.

    And although from this distance Ukraine tends to look like Russia's awkward clubfoot, it actually does a pretty good job standing up to Russia much of the time. (Not like that pushover, Belarus.) Russia has worked very hard to keep Ukraine within its sphere of influence and, for the most part, the West has been basically okay with that. But here's what's at stake in this election:
    Yushchenko, 50, a former prime minister and central banker, is considered a reformer in this country of 48 million, favoring closer cooperation with NATO and the European Union. Yanukovych, 54, has received strong support from President Vladimir Putin of Russia, whose spokesman issued a statement Monday from Brazil, congratulating Yanukovych on winning the presidency, although the result has not been declared.

    If NATO were to increase its cooperation with Ukraine, that would make Russia very unhappy indeed. Which, incidentally, could be bad news for Moldova.

  • Canadian news.

    What's up with turning the territories into provinces? This deserves more thought than I can give it. For now, though, this catches my eye:
    The prime minister says the future of the North is not just about creating provinces, but about asserting Canadian sovereignty the Arctic. He says that is becoming more important because climate change will make it possible for shipping to sail through the North and because of the vast natural resources to be exploited in the north.

    "We're just telling the world the Arctic is Canadian territory, so we will exercise sovereignty," said Martin.

    That's the clearest statement I've seen yet that our recent sovereignty exercises are about controlling arctic shipping. And, while I support Canadian control (somebody's got to control it), I also am not above pointing out PM PM's ties to the shipping industry.

    And this sounds like a fair exchange:
    Under the plan, Canadians would train Central and South American forces in peacekeeping in exchange for a schooling in jungle combat.

    I'm not sure that our troops really need to learn jungle warfare, but, hey, it's pretty damn cool.

    Finally, in local news:
    About 100 farmers penned 10 to 15 cows in Lafontaine Park to protest the low prices they get for selling their animals.

  • Bush's Barn Door. I'm surprised Wonkette hasn't posted this yet. Click through on this one, folks.

  • Monday, November 22, 2004
  • Stupid Americans. From Kevin Drum. Also check out what the US Congress has been up to. (It includes buying Bush a yacht.)

  • Is anyone watching The Greatest Canadian? The whole project, it seems to me, was rather misconceived. But watching a few minutes of Rex Murphy talking about Pierre Trudeau just now got me thinking.

    One problem (of many) with the concept is that it's being handled like a weird version of Canadian Idol. It's the populism and the lack of gravitas, which just don't mesh with the basic idea.

    Googling the show turns up this blog post which points out that people's understandings of 'greatness' differ so radically as to make the whole thing sort of meaningless. Is it celebrity or social contribution that makes a figure great?

    There's another problem. Why now? You see a lot of this sort of thing happening around important dates - like the turn of the millenium, or a major anniversary for the country, and so on. As we all know, Gutenberg was the most influential person of the second millenium. But it's 2004 and the result will be announced on November 29th. As far as I can tell, the decision to broadcast the Greatest Canadian now was made by some scheduling clerk with an evening slot to fill.

    A related point has to do with a basic flaw in the show's concept. You can't repeat this show for quite a while because if you got a different result the second time through, you'd be undermining the result of the first vote. If you're going to talk about the Greatest Canadian in the History of Canada, that shouldn't change much from year to year.

    It seems to me that a far better concept (and one which I'd be happy to help the CBC with for a reasonable fee) would be a Greatest Canadian of the Year award show. Obviously, there'd need to be a one-year lag, so that in 2005, we'd vote for the Greatest Canadian of 2004 and so on. You could do this every year, not just once a century; it would be much more reasonable to base it on a popular vote rather than some objective greatness criteria; there's no problem with a different person winning each year; and part of the fun would be the debate over the proper interpretation of 'greatness' - something which can occur better over several seasons rather than just one.

    I also happen to think that, if done properly, such a thing could be very good for Canadian society, which is obviously another goal of the Greatest Canadian.

    Any thoughts?

  • File under U for Unusual. CHRISSY CAVIAR:
    My feelings about being a thirty-something, single woman who has yet to be married and have a child, the concept of advertising myself and my DNA as a product for consideration and consumption, and the experience of going through this medical procedure in order to literally put the most precious piece of myself into my art, are all reasons explaining the motivation behind this project.

  • Saturday, November 20, 2004
  • This, via Mainja, is awesome. Winston Churchill's pet parrot is alive and well.
    SHE WAS at Winston Churchill's side during Britain's darkest hour. And now Charlie the parrot is 104 years old...and still cursing the Nazis.

    Her favourite sayings were "F*** Hitler" and "F*** the Nazis". And even today, 39 years after the great man's death, she can still be coaxed into repeating them with that unmistakable Churchillian inflection.

  • The EU is building its military:
    The European Union is expanding plans to set up several elite battle groups for rapid deployment to international trouble spots.
    The original plan was to have nine such groups of 1,500 troops ready by 2007 but EU military officials said an enthusiastic response from countries wanting to contribute forces means at least 12 will now be set up. Of that, four - led by France, Britain, Italy and Spain - should be in place next year.

  • Kevin Drum makes a good point. The destruction of American credibility abroad can't just be a byproduct of Bush's "special" approach to the truth. No, it has to be an actual policy goal.
    Secretary of State Colin L. Powell shared information with reporters Wednesday about Iran's nuclear program that was classified and based on an unvetted, single source who provided information that two U.S. officials said yesterday was highly significant if true but has not yet been verified.

    And this man was supposed to the voice of reason in this administration.

    The weirdest part is, you almost expect Powell, getting ready to end his term in office, to suddenly become more genuine, not less. Without the pressures of having to go on working with this crowd of crazies for very much longer, he should feel more free to be himself. Maybe he fears a slime attack some time in the future? Or maybe he's simply just as misguided and mendacious as they.

  • Friday, November 19, 2004
  • When I have a little more time, maybe we can talk a little about Martin's L-20 initiative.

  • Quebec TV update:

    Watching 110% right now on the Mouton Noir, where they're laughing their asses off at the Americans for getting in a huff over this Desperate Housewives scandal. They had a great introduction where they combined that scandalous footage with the shot of Janet Jackson's breast from the Superbowl. But here's the thing: because this is Quebec, they don't bother to blur the breast.

    ...Oh, now they're replaying the video over and over again. I've learned a new word: outre(e). As in, Non, j'uis pas du tout outree, which is what every one is saying.

  • This is somewhat surprising: Josh Marshall is coming around to the idea of amending the constitution to grant foreign-born citizens eligibility for the presidency.

  • A little lightbulb:
    Hunters soon may be able to sit at their computers and blast away at animals on a Texas ranch via the Internet, a prospect that has state wildlife officials up in arms.

    Remote-control hunting: just like video games, except something really dies. Makes me want to puke.

  • Thursday, November 18, 2004
  • So, yes, Martin pushed out Parrish, though the Canadian Press is saying it could be for (a) Bush-bashing; or (b)a lack of loyalty to Martin's government. 6 of one...
    Her ejection from Liberal ranks reduces Martin's tenuous minority in the House of Commons to 134 Liberal seats.
    The Conservatives hold 99 seats, the Bloc Quebecois 54 and New Democrats 19.
    Parrish becomes the second Independent in the Commons.

    How about jumping to the NDP, then, Ms. Parrish?

  • I've been using Google Scholar for about five minutes and I feel comfortable saying it rocks.

  • Bush will be in Canada on November 30. He should be here for two days.

  • Tuesday, November 16, 2004
  • For some time now, I've been wondering about the word "natch" which is catching on in the blogoverse. Today's example is from Kevin Drum whose post on an utterly blatent bit of congressional corruption is well worth reading:
    Yes, that makes sense. We need to eliminate financial reporting requirements for every rich person in the executive branch. For national security reasons, natch.

    According to this philology site, 'natch' is short for 'naturally' and dates back at least to the 1940s. Doesn't that make sense, then?

  • Monday, November 15, 2004
  • First Bhutan, then the world?
    The remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has decided to ban all tobacco products from Wednesday, a government notification says.

    Personally, I think prohibition is probably a bad idea for any substance, but I don't know much about Bhutan. I do know that it has a growing cannabis problem, and that it's extremely isolationist. Here's the BBC country profile. Here's the country's only regular newspaper which, curiously, is in English. The King, who just celebrated his 49th birthday, lives in a log cabin. His four wives, who are all sisters, live in a "fortress-like palace".

  • Internets Vets for Truth is a group that's posted some of the best videos from the US 2004 election and what led up to it. That includes the Jon Stewart Crossfire Smackdown. Via Eschaton.

  • From Busy, Busy, Busy:
    So the world is walking on the beach one day and spots an antique-looking bottle half-buried in the sand and picks up the bottle and tries to rub it clean which causes the genie within to billow out, thank the world for freeing it and grant the world a wish. "Any wish?" asks the world. "Anything you want, world" says the genie in a thundery sort of voice. "Then build me a nice wide highway to Mars," says the world, "a whole lot of people would like to move away for a while right about now." The genie shakes his head. "World," he says, "I can do that but it's a really big tough job. You sure there isn't anything else you want?" "Actually, yes, there is," replies the world, "you could answer one question that's really been bugging me lately. Can you explain American democracy to me?" The genie stares for a moment. "So, world" he says, "that highway, do you want it four-lane, or eight-lane?"


  • Best election map yet. Courtesy of CBS.

  • Sunday, November 14, 2004
  • Truly wild:
    Nothing happens fast on this European Space Agency spacecraft, which left Kourou, French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5 rocket on Sept. 27, 2003, climbed into Earth's orbit, then used the gentle yet insistent thrust of its ion propulsion engine to gradually scale the heavens to the moon's embrace.

  • News Roundup:

    Rumor has it that Iran will stop enriching uranium. Looks like the US (and some European countries) will be helping the PLO hold elections in January. It's a little chaotic there right now. As is the Ivory Coast, where everyone's trying to calm things down. Back in the US, the CIA is being purged of Democrats and others not loyal to George Bush.

  • Matt Yglesias on Blair's gambit and it possible consequences:
    Blair is going to need to be able to show his constituents in Britain (and, perhaps more to the point, in the Labor Party) that cooperation with the United States is a two-way street. This Middle East initiative is his best shot to do just that. If it fails, the odds that Britain will abandon Atlanticism -- and that the EU will start working hard to create a counterweight to America -- in the near future go up sharply.

  • Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas, anymore.

    Oh, hold on, yes we are. It's just that Kansas taxes illegal drugs:
    The fact that dealing marijuana and controlled substances is illegal does not exempt it from taxation. Therefore drug dealers are required by law to purchase drug tax stamps. ... Drugs seized without stamps or having expired stamps may result in criminal or civil penalties which may include fines, seizure of property or liens against real estate.

    A dealer is not required to give his/her name or address when purchasing stamps and the Department is prohibited from sharing any information relating to the purchase of drug tax stamps with law enforcement or anyone else.

    Purchasing drug tax stamps does not make possession of drugs legal.

    Confused? This is from the Kansas Department of Revenue, and as far as I can tell, it's real. I got it from Majikthise. From the department's FAQ:
    Why tax illegal drugs?
    There are two reasons why illegal drugs are taxed:

    Taxing the Underground Economy - The fact that the business of dealing marijuana and controlled substances is illegal does not exempt it from taxation. Legitimate business transactions are taxed. Dealing drugs is a large part of a previously untaxed underground economy.
    Providing a Source of Revenue - 25% of drug tax collections are allocated to the State's General Fund.

    File this under "Too stupid for Words."

  • Kevin Drum on how we got to Red vs. Blue. Here's a tantalizer:
    In 1976, NBC identified states won by Gerald Ford in blue and Jimmy Carter's states in red.

  • Saturday, November 13, 2004
  • The CBC report on the Bush-Blair press conference confused me this evening. First: Why on Earth would Blair still want to be seen standing next to that man? Second: Why are the two of them blathering about democracy in Palestine? In comes the NYT:
    He came with a mission to get an unambiguous and strategic commitment from the American president to close a deal for a Palestinian state that has eluded all their predecessors - and was denied Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died this week. To some extent, he did. Mr. Blair believes that the restoration of hope for Palestinians will bring a sense of balance back to Middle East policy and sap some of the energy feeding the jihadist movement and a worldwide network of Islamic extremist groups.

    By delivering Mr. Bush for the European agenda on Middle East peace, moreover, Mr. Blair also stands to restore his badly tarnished credentials on the Continent, where he had styled himself as the essential European leader with real influence in Washington.

    He appears to have told Mr. Bush that Britain can help deliver the Europeans for greater assistance and cooperation in the Holy Land, perhaps through an international conference in London. That would set the stage for greater trans-Atlantic cooperation on other issues, like containing Iran's nuclear ambitions or even Iraq, his aides say, and a healing of the rifts opened by the war in Iraq.

    Progress toward a Middle East peace agreement would also help Mr. Blair at home, mitigating the political damage of his Iraq stance. ... In greeting the president's re-election, Mr. Blair used a megaphone across the Atlantic to say that revitalizing the Middle East peace process "is the single most pressing political challenge in our world today." In doing so, he was not only taking on the ideologues of the Bush administration, who had downgraded the issue to insignificance, but was also speaking strongly for Europe.

    So much for the politics. Here's the substance:
    ...Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair - though short on providing any details - changed the language of the Middle East peace process by stating they were going to do whatever it took in coming months to support democratic elections in the Palestinian territories. They pledged to mobilize the international community to help rebuild security and other civil institutions in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, allowing a new and democratic Palestinian authority to emerge for negotiations with Israel.

    They're trying to hold things together in Palestine by pledging Western support for a Palestinian state on the condition that the Palestinians hold things together, have elections, and don't collapse into civil war. Fine. Except. Blair thinks he's giving the Palestinian's a carrot, incentivizing a peaceful post-Arafat power transition, you might say. You guys hold it together, we'll give you a state. Bush thinks he's giving the Palestinian's a stick. If you don't hold it together, we'll let you rot. Bush is in top form now that he is the will of the people. Here's what he said:
    We are going to develop a strategy, so that once the elections are over, we'll be able to say, here's how we will help you. If you want to be helped, here's what we're willing to do. If you choose not to be helped, if you decide you don't want a free, democratic society, there's nothing we can do. If you think you can have peace without democracy -- again -- I think you'll find that -- I can only speak for myself, that I will be extremely doubtful that it will ever happen. I've seen it work too many times -- tried too many times.

    You'd almost think Bush were hoping they don't manage to hold it together. It would give him a great excuse to go on doing nothing for the Palestinians.

    So, now the question is: What else are Bush and Blair going to do to help Hamas, Hizbullah, Fatah and the others to avoid a civil war?

  • I don't want to harp on the decline-of-the-US meme because, as I mentioned, I don't actually think we've passed the tipping point beyond which the decline becomes inevitable. I do think America is weaker now than it was pre-Bush and I expect it to keep going downhill at least as long as he remains in power. However, I still think the damage done by Bushco can be undone. But I'm also interested in what people are saying on this topic, so here's James Wolcott on the anti-American blowback for American corporations, among other signs of decline. Atrios points out how much things have changed. And Sy Hersh, who spoke recently at Iowa State made this additional point:
    Hersh thinks the EU might attempt to become an interlocuter in the Israel-Palestine conflict because the U.S. has failed in this role under Bush.

    Ezra gets the politics right:
    The underlying issue, which is going to keep foiling our every foreign policy whim, is that foreign populations have begun to hate us. A lot. That means foreign governments can curry favor with their citizenries by standing up to us, by opposing us, by obstructing us and by fighting our priorities. Their incentives lead them to block our projects and ignore our criticisms, not the other way around. And if that remains the case, we're in real trouble.

  • Friday, November 12, 2004
  • Via Pandagon: Fuck the South.

  • Damn! Those are some ugly sweaters.

  • Kevin Drum tries his hand at theology. He's exactly right, of course, that arguing bible interpretation with fundamentalists is a mug's game, since clearly anyone who insists that there's one and only one correct interpretation of just about anything - especially anything linguistic - doesn't know nothing. However, I was very interested to learn that this is the Bible passage upon which the Christian anti-abortionists base their position:
    When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, etc.

    This is Exodus 21:22-23. As Kevin explains, the fundies apparently have a different translation (and, of course, their's is the right translation) which replaces "miscarriage" with "premature birth" and then the "harm" which deserves retribution refers to the baby, not the mother. Or something. And, of course, it doesn't matter that the passage obviously refers to men attacking a woman, rather than, you know, performing an operation on her at her request. Oh, sorry.

    Pardon me for thinking.

    The first part of the problem is the misguided hermenutical theory. The second part is the fact that these people think morality is a matter of "right reading". Enough.

  • Thursday, November 11, 2004
  • Tit for tat:

    India is drawing down its Kashmir deployment.
    “In recognition of the improvement in the situation, the government has decided to reduce the deployment of troops this winter,” Mr. Singh[.] ... Pakistan described Mr. Singh's announcement as a step in the right direction but said it would wait for details before responding further. ... “We welcome this announcement. But what matters is not the number of troops that will be cut but the way the security forces behave with the people in Kashmir,” said Abbas Ansari, a moderate leader of the Hurriyat, Kashmir's main separatist alliance.

  • Arafat has died. Here's what's happening:
    Rawhi Fattouh, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was sworn in today at noon as interim president of the Palestinian Authority, hours after Yasser Arafat died in a French hospital. ... Under Palestinian law, Fattouh, 55, will serve as president until elections are held in 60 days.

  • Wednesday, November 10, 2004
  • Americans apologize to the world at Via Wonkette.

  • Tuesday, November 09, 2004
  • Ashcroft out. Will the next AG be any better?

  • Oh look, a stupid don't-move-to-Canada column from the Houston Chronicle. This one's almost funny and almost informative, and then it's neither. It's only noteworthy because it's there.

    And here's a petition calling for the secession of California.

    And here's a decent column from the Toronto Star on Defining Canada's Role. The best bit:
    Canada's role in North America should be to experiment with social policies that cannot yet find traction within the American political spectrum. Such policies contribute to a dialectic within North America that is important to the vitality of the political debate within the United States.

  • In case you missed it, as I did, Saskatchewan has become the seventh Canadian jurisdiction to allow same-sex marriages.

  • This is hilarious. Via Atrios, who has a video link. And if you absolutely must know, Andrew Sullivan lives here.

  • Monday, November 08, 2004
  • Fun with election maps. I'd post some of the pictures here if I weren't so lazy. Click through, though, and check out the cartograms. They're trippy.

  • The decline, Chapter 2?
    The dollar could slide still further, in spite of hitting an all-time low against the euro last week in the wake of George W. Bush's re-election, currency traders have said.

    More here, here, and here.

  • So, you know all those military exercises Canada's been engaging in recently up north to prove our sovereignty up there? It seemed to me like a curious emphasis for our government.

    No longer:
    Rising global temperatures will melt areas of the Arctic this century, making them more accessible for oil and natural gas drilling, a report prepared by the United States and seven other nations said on Monday.

    What I really want to know is, what's GW's take on global warming now? So long as it was clearly bad news for the oil companies, he denied it was happening. What about when it becomes good news for the oil companies? Sure, the coastal cities are going to be flooded and wrecked, but hey... most of the coastal states went to the Democrats, right?

  • Sunday, November 07, 2004
  • Another Bush victim:
    A Georgia man fatally shot himself at Ground Zero, and friends believe the tragic suicide was a political protest against President Bush's reelection and the war in Iraq.

  • Thought the election would wipe out the Bush-incompetance stories? Guess again.
    American intelligence agencies have tripled their formal estimate of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile systems believed to be at large worldwide, since determining that at least 4,000 of the weapons in Iraq's prewar arsenals cannot be accounted for, government officials said Friday. ... It was unclear whether Iraqi military or intelligence personnel removed the missile systems during the initial invasion of Iraq or whether they disappeared from warehouses after major combat ended.

    Via Paul Glastris, who has some more details about the threat posed by Stingers. That's right, Red-staters, the war in Iraq did not make you any safer.

  • Friday, November 05, 2004
  • E-Condolences from a friend of Winston's.

  • I'm not sure why, but, um, Via Wonkette.

  • Unf tries to give us some perspective. Via Pandagon.

  • Kevin Drum and economist J Bradford DeLong appear to agree with me that the longer the Republicans are in power, the more likely it is that America will decline. He's talking about an Argentina-style meltdown. How do you call yourself a superpower when they're comparing you to Argentina?

  • Thursday, November 04, 2004

  • Via Matthew.

  • Wednesday, November 03, 2004
  • Josh Marshall on what happens next:
    Changes in domestic politics, in theory at least, can be shifted back at a following election. The world, though, is different. There we are just a ship -- though the largest one -- on waters we can never truly control. And I fear that this result will set in motion dangerous dynamics that even the relatively young among us will be wrestling with and contending with for the rest of our lives.

    Josh makes many of the same points I made drunk at 5am last night. He's less melodramatic, of course, and more articulate. And he's not talking about global power dynamics. But the major points are the same: this is going to be hell; the global harm is probably more irreperable than the domestic; and the American left (such as it is) must not give up.

  • just to be clear, i'm not giving up hope. CNN has 254-252 for Bush. This could still happen.

  • Majikthise asks the questions we all want answered.

  • If George Bush wins...

    which seems pretty likely at this point, then here's how I see things.

    We liked the US. It was a good global leader for a brief period there, and it held tremendous potential. But it's time has passed. It still has the power, it's still the hegemon, but with W at the wheel, it no longer deserves to be. Hegemony requires both overwhelming power and legitimacy. If W wins the presidency, the US loses the latter. It is certainly conceivable that for a time the US will continue to run the world, even without international legitimacy. This is incredibly bad news. But either the US will become a global empire (a boot stamping on the human face forever) or it will implode. Or first the empire, then the implosion. In any event, the likelihood of an American decline continues to rise with each day that the Republicans control the US government.

    And, of course, with the Republicans in control of every branch of government (including the media) there is every possibility that they will go even further in undermining democracy and guaranteeing one party rule forever. Hell, maybe even Bush family rule. A boot. Stamping on a human face.

    Some people, motivated I think by a gut-level anti-Americanism, think an American decline is basically a good thing. Unipolarity gives way to multipolarity and we return to a nice, stable international system. But here's the problem: the US's only potential rivals at this point are Russia and China. India and Europe are in the running, but only distantly at this point. And the thing is, do we really want to share the world with Russia and China? No. They suck. So, in my opinion, our best hope is Europe. (I like India, but it's a mess.) With the US headed in entirely the wrong direction, Europe needs to quickly coalesce into a serious force. It needs to unite, to build a military and to make sure the United States doesn't run amok over the planet.

    To me, the American government, is like the Ring of Power. Wielded for the sake of the good, it could be a tremendous benefit to the world. A beneficient hegemon is a fantastic idea with the potential to evolve into a world democracy. But wielded for the sake of evil, the potential harm of the American military-political machine is unthinkable. So it must be stopped. For so long as the ultra-right controls the Ring of Power, our best hope is Europe. Europe has to get its shit together and become a global player in support of moderate social democratic values.

    And for Canada?

    Yes, we're under the American thumb. It's inescapable. Eventually, you and I might just have to get on a boat bound for Britain. But in the interim, the Canadian government needs to push Europe to pull its weight in the world and to do whatever it can to restrain the United States. That includes working hard to diversify Canada's international ties, to reduce our dependence on the US.

    And for us, people of good conscience who live outside the US?

    Boycott the USA. Reject American products because doing so will (a) reduce American power; and (b) increase the probability of electoral defeat for the Republicans.

    And for anti-Bush Americans?

    The hope, of course, is that I am wrong, that we can get back control of our government, that the US can once again become a force for good in the world. And, obviously, Americans need to keep trying to get back control for their own sakes. As a commentator on CNN put it tonight, a Bush victory - with a signifcant victory among the popular vote - alongside Republican gains in the House and Senate and the upcoming appointments to the Supreme Court, will be taken as a major mandate to push an even more radical agenda. They will push and push and push, trying only to avoid massive civil unrest. Some civil unrest, of course, they'll be happy to put down. (A boot. Stamping. On a human face.) So, yes, the goal for average Americans remains unchanged: get control over your government, and use it to protect yourselves and improve the world.

    One last thing. And this is a prediction rather than a prescription. If global anti-Americanism was strong before, it's about to get a hell of a lot worse. Before, they hated George Bush. But now they will hate Americans.

    Am I too pessimistic? Maybe W will try to consolidate his rule by moving to the left. It might be smart, but it sure as hell wouldn't be in character.

  • Tuesday, November 02, 2004
  • Well, I was just about to coin the phrase "corporate feudalism", when I discovered that a Conceptual Gorilla did it first. This was meant to be a post in response to Kevin Drum's asinine dichotomy here. But, well, whatever. Kerry takes most of the swing states tonight. Bush cries and wets himself.

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