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January 30, 2006

Carnival of the Capitalists

The best intellectual property on the web.

Culture of Entitlement

Apparently, state Democrats figure that since they supported the Ref C tax increase, they get to decide how it gets spent:

Republican state lawmakers who opposed Referendum C are lining up with ideas on how Colorado should use the extra money the state will collect over the next five years, raising eyebrows among some of the Democratic leaders who fought hard to pass the measure.

Just two weeks into the 2006 legislative session, several Republican lawmakers who opposed lifting the state's revenue cap and pledged to be the state's fiscal guardians are pushing bills that would use some of that Referendum C money.


That litany has caused some Democrats to complain that those lawmakers don't have the standing to say what should be done with the money.

"These people chose not to be part of the solution," said House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder. "Part of me says, 'Too little, too late.' They're a day late and $300 million short."

This explains why Alice Madden isn't House Speaker.

In fact, it also indicates at least the second time that the majority Democrats have had to re-iterate that fact, indicating more insecurity than they'd like to let on. After all, the House rules are such that if the Dem caucus were united, this sort of browbeating wouldn't be necessary. The only way any of these ideas gain traction is if some Democrats support them, making the target of this outburst obvious.

It also suggests that the Republican gubernatorial nominee has a chance to carry down-ticket seats with him, if he chooses to.

Goooooodbye Google

No more Google Ads. Since this wasn't precisely my main source of income, neither I nor Google are going to notice much of a hit to our respective bottom lines.

Still, seems like the right thing to do, and it's not likely even to cost me entry to the Lucrative China Market.

January 29, 2006

24 and Race

One of the commentary tracks for the 2nd season contains the following exchange between Executive Producer Joel Surnow, and the actress who plays the First Lady, Penny Johnson:

Her: This is the beauty of 24 here, in terms of casting. I enjoy when I see people who look like me, and look like other people, and represent the full spectrum of people without making a big deal out of it.

Him: That's because the show's written by Republicans, Penny, not bleeding-heart liberals.

After which, they go into an extended exchange about how Johnson's vast admiration for Condi Rice is causing her to re-think her alleigance to the Democrats.


The War and the Temptations of Electoral Politics

Since the Republicans are right on the War on Radical Islam, and since that is the defining issue of our time, and since, for the moment, most Americans agree, there is a strong temptation to try to ride this issue to victory after victory.

This would be a mistake with potentially tragic consequences for the party, and worse, for the country.

At the most basic level, the war is only one issue, and one that operates primarily (although not exclusively) at a national level. Focusing on the war makes it easier for down-ticket large-government Republicans to recreate the successes of Illinois and Pensylvania. Simultaneously, failing to make electoral tests of free-market economics and conservative social policy puts off serious reduction of government indefinitely - since those issues never win a mandate.

More importantly, though, acquiescing in making the war a partisan issue makes it almost impossible to win the war. Bruce Catton, in a series of lectures, published as America Goes to War, points out that the Civil War - and any war in a democracy, really - is as much a political problem as a military one.

Lincoln understood that the war couldn't be won if it became a Republican War. Lincoln was able to co-opt prominent state and local Democrats through the device of the "political general." Whatever their military shortcomings - and it's far from clear that they, rather than the professionals - did the lasting damage to the war effort - political generals served to keep the war non-partisan, and to keep the country generally unified on the issue.

In allowing the War on Radical Islam to become partisan, and by not co-opting lower-tier Democrats, every election becomes a referendum on the war, even if that's not the issue forwardmost in voters' minds. In means that in order to win the war, Republicans have to win every time, and in a 48-48 (or even 52-48) country, that's just not going to happen.

Now it's no good saying, "the Democrats wouldn't allow that this time - they were too set in their Bush-hatred." Even given that certain elements of their party were beyond hope, it's the President's job to find a way to get as many of them on board as possible. The longer we wait, the more powerful the anti-war voices get within the Democratic party, and the harder the job gets.

January 28, 2006

LPR Straw Poll

Lots of interesting goings-on at the LPR retreat, but for the moment, the most interesting one.

Hugh Hewitt (and the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt) made the trek from LA, and at the end of Hugh's presentation, he did his 2008 Republican primary straw poll. The results were telling.

In a room of about 150 people, John McCain raked in about 4 votes, Rudy a few more, and Romney somewhere in-between. George Allen received the proverbial Forest of Hands, probably between 2/3 and 3/4 of the room. Hugh said that the McCain apathy is replicated everywhere he goes, but that he was a little surprised at Allen's strength.

I still think that the real race is between Allen and Romney, the governors (or former governors) in the race.

January 27, 2006

Hamas & "Negotiation"

CNN is reporting that by a margin of 48-43, Israelis want to leave the door open to negotiations with Hamas. The reporter claims that this is because the Israelis "don't want to believe that there's no partner on the other side."

He's got it completely backwards: such a result is only possible because Israelis have already given up on the Palestinians. It also suggests that public grasps and accepts the logic behind Kadima's platform.

It's a mark of how effectively Sharon changed the political equation by taking the initiative, promoting disengagement behind the security fence. Israelis don't really believe they'd be negotiating peace with Hamas; they understand they'd be negotiating temporary accomodations, which they'd be doing with Abbas as well. The election of Hamas isn't going to alter the strategic balance between the two sides.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Beware those numbers you see in the newspapers. (Look closely for a familiar name, too.)

The DenPo-WaPo Bubble

The Denver Post editorial staff who attacked the NSA international intercept program yesterday probably think of themselves as bold crusaders for domestic civil rights. Unfortunately for them, they comes across as willfully ill-informed. Again.

President Bush launched a campaign-style offensive this week to defend his secret executive order allowing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop, without court warrants, on phone calls and Internet traffic in the United States.

His advisers hope the publicity blitz will impress the public in advance of Bush's State of the Union address next Tuesday and upcoming congressional hearings on whether the president has the authority to order such surveillance.

It's not until the end of the editorial that the Post acknowledges that the speeches are not happening in a vacuum, but are coordinated with the release of a Justice Department white paper laying out the President's legal case.

The road show is a distraction. If the president sees the need for an unbridled domestic eavesdropping program, he should negotiate its provisions with Congress. (emphasis added -ed.)

And if the President wanted to declare Tuesdays to be "Dress Like a Disney Character Day," he'd need to negotiate that, too, and it has about as much relevance. That the Denver Post can't understand the difference between "domestic" and "international" suggests a woeful shortage of dictionaries in the newsroom. Intercepting phone calls that cross international boundaries is nothing like an "unbridled domestic eavesdropping program." Things that cross borders are different from things that don't. We have passports, visa, tariffs, Customs, border police, the Interstate Commerce Clause.

As the Justice Department notes:

Finally, as part of the balancing of interests to evaluate Fourth Amendment reasonableness, it is significant that the NSA activities are limited to intercepting international communications where there is a reasonable basis to conclude that one party to the communication is a member or agent of al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist organization.

It's also little short of bizarre that the Post would argue that the President should enter into political negotiations without making a political case to the public. Of course, for a paper that has consistently supported elections without campaigns, also known as McCain-Feingold, maybe this position makes sense to them. It also presumes good faith on the part of Congressional Democrats, who were well-informed of the program, failed to object in any meaningful way for years, still don't call for the program's end, but are willing to use its existence as a political bludgeon.

On the campaign trail, the president is re-branding the surveillance program to make it seem more palatable. "It's what I would call a terrorist surveillance program," Bush said Monday during a town-hall-style session at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.

So the Post, having out-and-out lied about what the program is doing, turns the tables and accuses the President of "rebranding."

Polls suggest the public is divided on the issue, although two recent surveys indicate most Americans favor the NSA obtaining a warrant whenever it sees a purpose to snoop on domestic communications.

When asked about what's actually going on, however, the public turns out to be not quite so divided.

After finally acknowledging the Justice Department White Paper, the Post quotes, verbatim, from a discredited Washington Post report on the Congressional Research Service's own findings. (Incidentally, the DenPo has the CRS responding on January 7 to a White Paper issued on January 19. Someone needs to look into this covert time-travel program.)

"It appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here," the authors of the CRS report wrote. The administration's legal justification "does not seem to be ... well-grounded."

Note the ellipses. This particular quote - and the WaPo's misrepresentation of the CRS report - has already been deconstructed by Powerline.

For the record, here's the full quote: "Given such uncertainty, the Administration's legal justification, as presented in the summary analysis from the Office of Legislative Affairs, does not seem to be as well-grounded as the tenor of that letter suggests."

The Denver Post editorial writers willfully repeated a discredited, misleading partial quote, weeks after its appearance. Who do they think they are, the LA Times, or something?

January 26, 2006

Yup. A Deal From Hell

The Journal post-mortems Boston Scientific's successful bid for Guidant. Nothing in these has me rethinking my belief that the combined company will be either up for sale or reorganizing within 2 years:

Boston Scientific will borrow an estimated $9.6 billion to finance the deal -- and sustain four years or more of damaged earnings -- on its hunch that Guidant is the answer to its own deteriorating product line. While paying down all that debt, the company will have to integrate the largest merger in its 27-year history, revive Guidant's flagging market share, develop new products, and wrestle with any product-liability costs from Guidant's legal problems.

Investors nonetheless have shown their confidence, keeping Boston Scientific's shares relatively stable during a tumultuous merger showdown. The combined company, with revenues of about $9 billion...

Debt. Target as Savior. Complex operations. Key target personnel leaving. Uncertain regulatory environment.

BTW - the shares that have been stable this year are already down 30% from the start of '04.

Salazar on Justice Thomas: "an Abomination"

Sen. Salazar, champion of civil discourse.

Thomas is an abomination. James Dobson is the antichrist. And Thurgood Marshall's on the way to sainthood. Good thing the liberals are around to preserve separation of church and state.

Overheard at the Coffee Shop

"So they gave me demerol, percoset, and valium, and the headache went away."

January 25, 2006

Electronic Subversive Follow-Up

At a time when Microsoft, Cisco, and Google seem to have electronically-jammed moral compasses, it's good to be able to report that Anonymizer, of the companies mentioned below, is actively working to get around the Great Firewall of China:

But it's difficult to question the honorable nature -- some might even say "nobility" -- of the work Anonymizer is doing with the U.S. government. Cottrell said that immediately after 9/11, for example, the company put a front end on the FBI's tips page on the Web. The idea was to make it possible to assure tipsters of their anonymity, and the effort yielded 25,000 tips within three months.

Yet the effort that's probably most worthy of that badge is Anonymizer's work in collaboration with Voice of America to enable people in China and Iran to access information on the Internet that their respective governments don't want them to see. Anonymizer sends e-mail blasts into both countries, and those messages include specially generated URLs that people can click on to anonymously get to sites that can't be accessed through in-country ISPs.

"We're punching holes in the Chinese firewall," Unrue said. China's government, Cottrell claimed, is trying to launch denial-of-service attacks against in retaliation.

January 24, 2006

In the Mail...

Glenn Reynolds's An Army of Davids and two versions of Spychips, the secular and the apocalyptic.

The Compleat Electronic Subversive

This is a repeat of a post from last August. Because trackbacks and comments didn't survive the port to MT 3.2, I've been asked by the company to re-post it as an FYI for their user community.

As any Neal Stephenson fan knows, it's an arms race between the encryptors and the decryptors. Still, this looks like the kind of thing that any aspiring terrorist operative - or Chinese protest organizer - would want to have.

Stealthsurfer II is a little USB device that looks like one of those Jumpdrives, but acts as a shunt for all your Internet traffic. Even browsers with very small caches still write to disk, and those files are more or less permanent. Arthur Anderson should also have taken hammer to all of their Enron hard drives. The Stealthsurfer intercepts email, web browsing, and FTP traffic, and encrypts it using ES3. It's apparently versatile and easy to use.

Why would this be useful? Well, think of the number of intelligence coups we've had when we caught al-Qaeda guys parading around with their laptops. Using the Stealthsurfer, much of this content would never have hit the hard drive. Captured, they could either impersonate drug mule or just toss the little capsule away. Someone could use the Net for operational traffic, and if they weren't under surveillance, searching their laptop wouldn't do intelligence agents or federal prosecutors any good.

Another feature lets you spoof your IP address, making it seem as though your traffic is originating from a computer thousands of miles away. Handy little tool for the terrorist on the go.

It appears that the service reroutes your traffic through their servers, 128-bit encrypted, so the host website your accessing thinks that Anonymizer is the client. Anonymizer claims to cooperate with law enforcement, but if the transmitted information is already encrypted or hidden, they might never know their service was being used this way. And since they also claim they don't keep any of the traffic, the trail might well stop at their servers.

Now the tool does have limitations. Chinese dissidents or protest organizers wouldn't exactly be able to parade into an Internet cafe and cover their tracks. There's a login screen, a popup window, and some other give-aways. Also, the ChiComs are in the nasty little habit of blocking internet sites and monitoring traffic, so this kind of thing is likely to attract the attention of that little white van parked across the street.

So, take an electronic one-time pad that tell me where to look for my next instructions, a host site that has nothing but an innocuous-looking JPEG with the instructions embedded in it, a hand-held GPS for setting up remote drops and meetings. Add plausible deniability to my laptop and even my physical location, and I'd say we've got a little problem here, 99.

And The Last Word On the Canadian Election...

...belongs to Mark Steyn. Of course. *Sigh.*

For Tories, it was a good night, if not a great night. But, given that the party was reduced to two seats in the 1993 debacle, after 12 years in the wilderness most Canadian conservatives will take a strong minority government as a spectacular landslide. We'd be dipping our voting fingers in maple syrup and triumphantly waving them at the UN observers if they hadn't all fallen asleep 20 minutes into the thrilling election-night coverage.

For the past century, Canada's ruling Liberals have been the democratic world's most consistently successful political party. This time round, mired in a series of scandals that were turning Canada into the G7's first Third World kleptocracy, the flailing Trudeaupians adopted an even more ferocious version of their usual strategy: scare the voters back to Nanny. As the Liberals warned Canadians - or, rather, shrieked at them - Stephen Harper will take away "a woman's right to choose"! The unwanted boys you'll be forced to have will grow up to be Bush cannon fodder in Iraq, and the unwanted girls will be sold as white slaves for Halliburton corporate cocktail parties round the pool at Dick Cheney's ranch.

Well, that's certainly why I voted Conservative, but it's hard to believe many of my fellow Canadians (and even my fellow Quebecers) felt the same way.

Size Matters

Oh, cut it out. A review of Joel Miller's Size Matters is up.

January 23, 2006

Live-Blogging the Election (Sort of)

The early returns suggest that it may be a bit of disappointment for the Tories, at least in the Atlantic provinces. They've closed to witthin a few percentage points of the Liberals, but are still getting crushed on a seat-by-seat basis, picking up only two to trail 20-9. Still, it appears that they may be doing better than expected in Quebec. The Liberals had made a comeback of sorts there in the last few days, so any Quebec seats the Tories pick up will help a lot.

Right now, the CBC has it 47-32-10-4 Lib-Con-NDP-BQE, but they don't report the seats the way a sane network would. They report "leading or decided," and they start counting as soon as the first box of ballots is opened. Which means that if they've counted one precinct (or poll, as they call it), and you're ahead 6 votes to 3, they put you up as "leading." Which means that these first numbers are actually worse than meaningless.

And yet, that doesn't keep the talking heads from drawing grand conclusions about the fates of parties from them.

More, during commercials as we find out what is in those canisters...

UPDATE: Just before we start Hour 5, the whole thing has changed; 85-66-26-21-1, Con-Lib-BQ-NDP-I

UPDATE: Doesn't look like we'll get a majority, but right now, the Tories are trailing the combined Lib-NDP 113-106. Even though the Bloc will join the government, it'd be nice to have the Right outpoll the Left, even if it doesn't matter in terms of governance.

UPDATE: OK, so the Tories will form the Government, but it's not exactly 1974 for them. The Grits still have over 100 seats, after a campaign, as the CBC newshead giddily put it, "where it's hard to pick out any one day that was good for them." Hopefully, the BQ will remember that it split from the Tories.

UPDATE: Damn. Belinda Stronach was re-elected. Belinda was the Conservo-babe who was dating Stephen Harper, and then left both him and the Party to keep Paul Martin in power in the infmaous Only No-Confidence Vote That Counted. There's a rumor that she might challenge Martin for the Liberal leadership now. If she wins, the Parliament's going to look like CTU after Jack realizes just who Nina's working for...

CORRECTION: I just realized that Stronach wasn't dating Harper, but Deputy Tory Leader Peter MacKay. Since MacKay tends to think of himself as #1A rather than #2, this could make things even more interesting.

January 20, 2006

Fragmenting the Net?

The Balkans may not have been worth the bones of one Pomeranian grenadier, but apparently for some Germans (and others), they're a perfect model for the Internet.

German computer engineers are building an alternative to the Internet to make a political statement. A Dutch company has built one to make money. China has created three suffixes in Chinese characters substituting for .com and the like, resulting in Web sites and email addresses inaccessible to users outside of China. The 22-nation Arab League has begun a similar system using Arabic suffixes.

Since the Net's hardware and local networking infrastructure now exist elsewhere, the idea is to build alternate Domain Name Servers, which can handle other alphabets, other domain suffixes, or alternate uses for the same domains.

The politics of this, especially coming from the Germans, are little short of disgusting:

Mr. Grundmann ... set up ORSN in February 2002 because of his distrust of the Bush administration and its foreign policy. Mr. Grundmann fears that Washington could easily "turn off" the domain name of a country it wanted to attack, crippling the Internet communications of that country's military and government.

And after all, what calling could be more noble than that of protecting the communications of the Iranian or North Korean militaries and governments? Mr. Grudmann might spare a thought for the actions of Cisco and Microsoft at the behest of the Chinese government.

As for the Arabs,

Similarly, Arab countries have in the past 18 months experimented with country code domain names in Arabic, distinct from the Icann system, says Khaled Fattal of Surrey, England. Mr. Fattal is head of, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the Internet multilingual.

"There is no such thing as a global Internet today," says Mr. Fattal. "You have only an English-language Internet that is deployed internationally. How is that empowering millions of Chinese or Arab citizens?"

Apparently the irony inherent in the fact that the hundreds of millions of Arabs can only be "empowered" by a technological innovation being led from England is lost on them. The lack of Hebrew URLs doesn't seem to have hampered the Israelis at all, nor those Iraqi blogs that are doing such good work, nor, for that matter, those Islamist chat rooms and websites we hear so much about. Arabs live, by and large, in countries run by governments who first ask themselves why the Americans beat them to the Net, and then why the Chinese beat them to its censorship. And the only answer they can come up with is that the Net works left-to-right.

The Net has operated like one huge free-trade zone, but that's imperiled now. One could see a self-reinforcing system of regional nets corrsponding to political and trade blocs. MercoNet, EuroNet, the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Net. Fragmentation also starts to look like a revenue source, as governments would have an easier way of monitoring - and taxing - traffic that crosses these electronic frontiers. You want to work from South American DNSs? We'll tell you what it's worth to you.

Businesses will probably pay whatever freight they need to so that they can cross lines seamlessly, but it's an added expense and complication, so it tends to benefit the big guys who can afford it. For the little guys, it'll just show up as another hidden fee on their monthly access bill. Given that so many of the Net's economic benefits come from opening up economies of scale to the little guys, it's just that much more sand in the gears.

This whole issue is important enough that I've copied the text of the Journal article below.

Endangered Domain
In Threat to Internet's Clout,
Some Are Starting Alternatives

Rise of Developing Nations,
Anti-U.S. Views Play Role;
Pioneer Sounds the Alarm
A 'Root' Grows in Germany
January 19, 2006; Page A1

More than a decade after the Internet became available for commercial use, other countries and organizations are erecting rivals to it -- raising fears that global interconnectivity will be diminished.

German computer engineers are building an alternative to the Internet to make a political statement. A Dutch company has built one to make money. China has created three suffixes in Chinese characters substituting for .com and the like, resulting in Web sites and email addresses inaccessible to users outside of China. The 22-nation Arab League has begun a similar system using Arabic suffixes.

"The Internet is no longer the kind of thing where only six guys in the world can build it," says Paul Vixie, 42 years old, a key architect of the U.S.-supported Internet. "Now, you can write a couple of checks and get one of your own." To bring attention to the deepening fault lines, Mr. Vixie recently joined the German group's effort.

Alternatives to the Internet have been around since its beginning but none gained much traction. Developing nations such as China didn't have the infrastructure or know-how to build their own networks and users generally didn't see any benefit from leaving the network that everyone else was on.

Now that is changing. As people come online in developing nations that don't use Roman letters -- especially China with its 1.3 billion people -- alternatives can build critical mass. Unease with the U.S. government's influence over a global resource, and in some cases antipathy toward the Bush administration, also lie behind the trend.

"You've had some breakaway factions over the years, but they've had no relevance," says Rodney Joffe, the chairman of UltraDNS, a Brisbane, Calif., company that provides Internet equipment and services for companies. "But what's happened over the past year or so is the beginning of the balkanization of the Internet."

The Internet, developed by U.S. government agencies beginning in the 1960s, uses a so-called domain-name system, also called the "root," that consists of 264 suffixes. These include .com, .net, .org and country codes such as .jp for Japan. The root is coordinated by a private, nonprofit group in Marina del Rey, Calif., called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or Icann. This body works under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which set up the organization in 1998.

A single root helps ensure that when people type in a Web address such as, they all end up at the site of the Internet retailer no matter where in the world they are or which Internet service provider they use. All addresses must use one of the 264 domain names. Any changes must be approved by Icann and ultimately by the Commerce Department. Alternative roots form the basis for rivals to the Internet.

As the Internet's role grows around the world, some are uneasy with the notion that a U.S.-based body overseen by the U.S. government has sole power over what domain names are used and who controls each name. Other countries such as China also say Icann is too slow in forming domain names in non-Roman languages, hindering the development of an Internet culture in those countries.

Concern about U.S. oversight increased last summer when the Commerce Department persuaded Icann to postpone the approval of a new domain-name suffix to be used for pornographic Web sites, .xxx. The department said it had received letters of complaint from Christian groups. While other countries also opposed the name, critics cited the incident as evidence of Washington's influence.

The matter of control came to a head last November at a United Nations summit in Tunis, where the U.S. delegation fought off demands from more than 170 countries to give up unilateral oversight of Icann.

More than half of the Internet's users today are outside the U.S. Governments increasingly are interested in how the Internet works. Brazil, for instance, collects much of its tax revenue online. "The Internet has become a critical part of our lives," says Abdullah Al-Darrab, Saudi Arabia's deputy governor for technical affairs. "These policies should not be left to a single country or entity."

U.S. officials counter that the Internet is too valuable to tinker with or place under an international body like the U.N. "What's at risk is the bureaucratization of the Internet and innovation," says Michael Gallagher, the Department of Commerce official who administers the government's tie to Icann. Mr. Gallagher and other backers of Icann also say that the countries loudest in demanding more international input -- China, Libya, Syria, Cuba -- have nondemocratic governments. Allowing these nations to have influence over how the Internet works could hinder freedom of speech, they say.

Others argue that a fragmented Internet is a natural result of its global growth and shouldn't be terribly harmful. Governments already control what their citizens see on the Internet by blocking some sites, making surfing a less-than-universal experience, notes Paul Mockapetris, who invented the Internet's domain-name system in the early 1980s.

Icann's master database of domain names is preserved in 13 "mirrors" -- servers that automatically copy any changes made to the original database. The duplication makes the system robust in cases of attack or failure. Ten of the 13 mirrors are in the U.S.; the others are in Amsterdam, Stockholm and Tokyo.

Operating the 'F Root'

A nonprofit organization headed by Mr. Vixie operates one mirror called the "F root." Working without pay or contract from Icann, he runs his mirror from the basement of an old telegraph office in a brown stucco building with a red, Spanish-tiled roof in Palo Alto, Calif.

Located between a Walgreen's drugstore and an art gallery, the F root building looks unimpressive, but it plays a critical role in the flow of Internet traffic. Powerful servers inside a locked, metal cage translate Internet domain names into a series of numbers, called Internet protocol addresses, helping users find Web sites and send and receive email. Mr. Vixie's center handles about 4,000 queries a second from several continents.

Mr. Vixie, a high-school dropout, was a precocious programmer, helping while still in his mid-20s write the domain-name software now used on most servers. He now runs a company that services the software. He helped build the F root in 1994 when he was 30 and helped foil an attack by hackers in 2002 that hampered all the mirrors except his and one other. Later he came up with a way to bolster the system by replicating the function of the 13 mirrors at other servers.

Now Mr. Vixie is turning his attention to what he feels is an even greater threat to how the Internet works: fragmentation.

Last June, Mr. Vixie emailed Markus Grundmann, a 35-year-old security technician in Hannover, Germany. Mr. Vixie was seeking information about the Open Root Server Network, or ORSN, which Mr. Grundmann founded.

Mr. Grundmann at first thought the email was fake. He was surprised that a pillar of the U.S.-led system would want anything to do with him. He explained to Mr. Vixie that he set up ORSN in February 2002 because of his distrust of the Bush administration and its foreign policy. Mr. Grundmann fears that Washington could easily "turn off" the domain name of a country it wanted to attack, crippling the Internet communications of that country's military and government.

Mr. Vixie says he has no interest in making political statements but he agreed last September to work with Mr. Grundmann by operating one of ORSN's 13 mirrors. Mr. Vixie has also placed a link to the once-obscure German group on his personal Web site.

The moves roiled the Internet community of programmers and techies of which he is a prominent member. Vinton Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, says he asked Mr. Vixie on the phone, "What were you thinking?" Says Mr. Cerf: "I don't think it's helpful to give visibility to a group that is fragmenting the Internet."

Mr. Vixie says he sees the European effort as a check of sorts on the Icann system. The U.S.-backed group will be more likely to act in the global interest if it knows that users have an alternative, he says.

Twelve other computer scientists -- mostly in Germany, Austria and Switzerland -- have agreed to help run the new root. Close to 50 Internet service providers in a half-dozen European countries now use ORSN.

For the moment, that is merely a symbolic step. The domain names in ORSN's directory are identical to those in Icann's. Users of ORSN get routed in the same direction as they would have if they were in the Icann system and can communicate with the same Web sites. ORSN doesn't create or sell its own domain names. If it did, Mr. Vixie says he would quit immediately. But if ORSN disagrees with a move taken by Icann, it could refuse to follow suit.

"The Internet is a child of the U.S. government," says Mr. Grundmann. "But now the child has grown up and can't stay at home forever."

Choosing a Suffix

A company called UnifiedRoot, based in Amsterdam, has taken things a step further than ORSN. In late November, the company began offering customers the right to register any suffix of their choosing, such as replacing .com with the name of their company. The price is $1,000 to register and an additional $250 each year thereafter.

The company has established its own root and signed up Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, among other companies, according to Erik Seeboldt, UnifiedRoot's managing director. These companies can use their own brand name as a domain name to create addresses such as arrivals.schiphol, he says. Users of UnifiedRoot can also access all sites using Icann-approved domain names such as .com, but Icann users couldn't go to a .schiphol address, he says.

"We want to bring freedom and innovation back to the Internet," says Mr. Seeboldt. The Internet service provider Tiscali SpA, which has five million subscribers in Europe, and some of Turkey's largest service providers use UnifiedRoot's naming system.

Some countries with non-Roman alphabets are also taking matters into their own hands. China has created three domain names in Chinese characters -- .zhongguo, .gongsi and .wangluo -- and made them available for public and commercial use inside China only.

Similarly, Arab countries have in the past 18 months experimented with country code domain names in Arabic, distinct from the Icann system, says Khaled Fattal of Surrey, England. Mr. Fattal is head of, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the Internet multilingual.

"There is no such thing as a global Internet today," says Mr. Fattal. "You have only an English-language Internet that is deployed internationally. How is that empowering millions of Chinese or Arab citizens?"

Icann is responding to the criticism. At its last meeting in December it took steps to enhance the role of foreign governments in its decision making and accelerated the development of non-English domain names.

Paul Twomey, the chief executive officer of Icann, says the divisions reflect cultural differences between nations that operate under a strong government hand and those, including the U.S., that put more trust in the private sector. "We are more comfortable with messy outcomes that work," says Mr. Twomey, who is Australian. "But we need to integrate other values and languages into the Internet and make sure that it still works as one Internet."

That's not enough for some. "We would like the process to speed up," says Li Guanghao, the head of international affairs for the China Internet Network Information Center, in an email interview. The center allocates Internet-protocol addresses in China in conjunction with the Icann system but is also developing the non-Icann Chinese character suffixes.

Mr. Vixie says he joined ORSN to make clear his view that such efforts will continue unless Icann becomes more inclusive. "I realize that this could help unleash the hordes of hell," he says. "But I hope it will make people wonder: 'What if there are more of these?' "

Write to Christopher Rhoads at

January 19, 2006

One Last Canadian Note

One side note in all this is the somewhat hyperinflated view that the Canadian Left has of itself vis-a-vis the United States. Maybe in over-compensation for losing all of their best comedians to us, the Liberals seem to think that, well, what they say, you know, matters to us.

First, they dredged up this idea to propose a treaty banning weapons in space. The CTV and Globe and Mail and the rest all treated it as though it would actually prevent us from putting weapons in space! Are the serious? The Russians couldn't keep us from pulling out of ABM.

Second, there's the whole Kyoto thing. Now they rarely actually say so, but part of their pride in Kyoto is in the fact that we didn't sign in. As Steyn has pointed out, it's all well and good to go feeling morally superior to us for having signed, but we're the ones who've done better at keeping down greenhouse emissions.

Finally, there's ANWR. "ANWR? ANWR?," I hear you cry. "Isn't that in, like, Alaska?" Yes, but apparently the 2000-acre drilling site (that's 3 square miles, for those of you without a calculator) will utterly destroy 180,000 caribou, starving out the "Gwich'in," who seem to be people who don't use oil. So not only do the Canadians think they have a right, the liberals think they're the reason we haven't set up the rigs yet:

"If Bush father and Bush son have been unable to drill there, it's because Canada was supporting the forces of progress in the United States saying don't do that," [Environment Minister Stéphane] Dion said in an interview.

I've been following the ANWR debate with some interest, and I can't say that I've yet heard anyone say that we can't drill there because it'll tick off the Canadians.

In one way, all this is kind of cute, kind of like how Virginia Tech goes around claiming they're "The University of Virginia." The telling point is that you never see U.Va.-trained engineers making the reverse claim. Canada used to be a serious country. They also tamed their West, and did it with fewer travel weeks. They played a major role in D-Day. But somewhere in developing expertise in peace-keeping, they forgot about the peace-making part.

Geographically, they're North American, but spiritually, they've got the European Disease. Hopefully, that's about to change.

Liberals Disappear in Quebec

Mark Steyn was just on Hugh Hewitt, and when Hugh asked him about the elections, Steyn said that normally voting for the Tories in Quebec is a lost cause, but that this year, they've replaced the Liberals as the main federalist party in Quebec. (Quebec has something called, "Le Bloc," which is not LeBloc, who I think was a defenseman for the Canadiens in the 60s. It's short for "Bloc Quebecois," a party which is dedicated to secession. For this reason it's dominated Quebec politics for over a decade, and doesn't exist outside the province. In this case, then "Federalist" means a party that actually operates in English.)

Now, a Liberal candidate has thrown in the towel, asking undecideds to vote Tory to try to unseat in the incumbent LeBlocker. While most of the new Tory support has come from the Liberals (or, "Grits," as they're known for some reason), the situation is dire enough for le Blocheads that they're playing the language card, accusing the Tories of wanting to throw translators out of business all over the province.

This is a big deal. Where the opposition isn't despondant, they're desperate.

What Cease-Fire?

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber has wounded upwards of 30 people at a Tel Aviv shwarma stand near that city's old Central Bus Station.

In the meantime, ISIME at DU is promoting a panel discussion with optimistic poll results, including one that claims that 2/3 of Palestinians support continuing the "cease fire." To paraphrase, with cease fires like these, who needs war?

The WaPo Shish-Khababs Good News From the Front

Front-page real estate on the Washington Post is hard to come by, especially if you're good news from the GWOT. The Post has run five stories in the last six days on the American airstrike intended for Zawahiri, but which seemingly instead got his assistant Abu "Shish" Khabab, and you can gauge how good the news is by the page number.

At first, when simply reporting that the airstrike had taken place, and who its target was, the Post put the news on page 9. The next day, the page-9 airstrike turned into a page-1 debacle:

Pakistani officials said Saturday that a U.S. missile strike intended to kill al Qaeda deputy Ayman Zawahiri had missed its target but had killed 17 people, including six women and six children.

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis staged an angry anti-American protest near the remote village of Damadola, about 120 miles northwest of Islamabad, where Friday's attack took place. According to witnesses, the demonstrators shouted, "Death to America!" and "Death to Musharraf!" -- referring to Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf -- and the offices of at least one U.S.-backed aid organization were ransacked and set ablaze.

On Monday, as the PR situation deteriorated, the protests were demoted to Page 10, but the only note of doubt was a comment that, "U.S. intelligence sources were uncertain about the identities of those killed and about whether Zawahiri was among them." You had to wait until paragraph 10 to hear that unsupported doubt. While the story was on Page 10, I seem to remember it getting a somewhat, er, larger, headline on the website.

Two days later, also on Page 10, the emphasis remains on the negative: we didn't get Zawahiri, and there were demonstrations:

U.S. intelligence sources said Tuesday that they were increasingly certain a missile strike in Pakistan on Friday had failed to kill Ayman Zawahiri, second in command of al Qaeda, but regional officials in Pakistan said the attack had killed four or five other foreign Islamic extremists who were attending a dinner in a village near the Afghan border.

The Pakistani report bolstered earlier U.S. assertions of strong pre-strike intelligence that a group of al Qaeda figures was in the immediate area. But political condemnation and confusion continued in Pakistan over the CIA-ordered strike, in which 13 to 18 civilians, including women and children, were also reported to have died.

Finally, today, when the news is actually confirmed as being good, it barely merits 225 words, and gets demoted to page 16. Really:

A senior Pakistani intelligence official who also spoke on condition of anonymity said Pakistan had received convincing reports Wednesday confirming that at least three al Qaeda operatives were killed, including Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, who uses the alias Abu Khabab al-Masri. The United States has posted a $5 million bounty for the reputed training camp leader and expert in explosives and poisons.

The intelligence official also said Abdul Rahman Maghribi, the son-in-law of Zawahiri, was killed. Maghribi was believed to have been al Qaeda's chief of propaganda for the region. A key operative in Afghanistan's Konar province, Abu Ubayida Misri, also died, the official said.

Now, if we can only get Abu Shwarma and Abu Falafel, we'll be in good shape.

I'm Not Making This Up

So I'm working late, trying to get some coding done before the customer changes his mind altogether, and I figure that the perfect thing to help me concentrate would be Dave Barry's appearance on Talk of the Nation. Since Barry gave up his column a few years ago, we've had to get along on scraps and the odd book, and since he doesn't do those very often, it made me feel better just knowing he was still around. (Now, though, Barry has a blog, including some startling insights on 24.)

What did I learn? First, I learned from host Neil Conan, that if you're going to have a world-renowned humorist on your show, don't try to keep up. He's paid to be funny. You're paid to be the pseudo-intellectual voice of our tax dollars at work. You were born to be a straight man, this is your moment to shine.

Second, I learned this about money:

The problem was that gold is too heavy to be constantly lugged around. So, to make it easier for everybody, governments began to issue pieces of paper to represent gold. The deal was, whenever you wanted, you could redeem the paper for gold. The government was just holding your gold for you. But it was YOUR gold! You could get it anytime! That was the sacred promise that the government made to the people. That's why the people trusted paper money. And that's why, to this very day, if you–an ordinary citizen–go to Fort Knox and ask to exchange your U.S. dollars for gold, you will be used as a human chew toy by large federal dogs.

Because the government changed the deal. We don't have the gold standard anymore. Nobody does. Over the years, all the governments in the world, having discovered that gold is, like, rare, decided that it would be more convenient to back their money with something that is easier to come by, namely: nothing. So even though the U.S. government still allegedly holds tons of gold in "reserve," you can no longer exchange your dollars for it. You can't even see it, because visitors are not allowed. For all you know, Fort Knox is filled with Cheez Whiz.

Which brings us back to the original question: If our money really is just pieces of paper, backed by nothing, why is it valuable? The answer is: Because we all believe it's valuable.

Really, that's pretty much it. Remember the part in Peter Pan where we clap to prove that we believe in fairies, and we save Tinker Bell? That's our monetary system! It's the Tinker Bell System! We see everybody else running around after these pieces of paper, and we figure, Hey, these pieces of paper must be valuable. That's why if you exchanged your house for, say, a pile of acorns, everybody would think you're insane; whereas if you exchange your house for a pile of dollars, everybody thinks you're rational, because you get... pieces of paper! The special kind, with the big hovering eyeball!

January 17, 2006

Jury Duty - Like High School, Only Moreso

For those of you lucky enough to have escaped this civic duty, you show up at the courthouse, and are told to site in a large room and wait your turn to be called for a case. This room has TVs for those instructional videos we all thought we left behind in college. It also has sound, which somehow starting piping in local radio, drowning out the lady giving us instructions. What it doesn't have it wifi, which wasn't entirely unexpected in a 70-year-old building.

Naturally, I was late, so I got to stand in the back until the first set of jurors had been rounded up. I finally found a seat, and in walked my friend Mike. This was also not unexpected. I'm convinced there's some sort of rolling geographic filter at work here. Nobody I know got called for duty the first 8 years I lived here, and now, suddenly, 6 other people in my precinct get recruited.

The video itself, as the plaintiff's attorney later admitted, didn't really tell you anything except not to be scared, and that you probably wouldn't have to give up your life for the next 2 months. It was capped by a personal thanks from a nearly-comatose Chief Justice Mary Mullarky. The whole video is about how important we are to the system, how we are the system, how people like us designed the system. And then the Chief Judge in the system smiles like she's getting a cue from a director telling her to look like a stewardess and "big smiles, everyone!"

Now, I was late, but I was also dressed right - collar and tie. I was one of three. The whole room was dressed more like a defendant than a juror. Honestly, people, show a little respect. If you're a defendant, or even if you're the little-guy plaintiff looking for justice, would you really want your fate decided by people who's sense of fashion comes from Bill Bellichek on gameday?

Here's an idea: instead of making everyone sit through a video together, work out a deal with Comcast where jurors have to download and watch this video in the privacy of their homes. And then tack on a little show-and-tell explaining to people that they should shower and maybe even change between the gym and the courthouse.

I kind of wanted to sit on a case. Mike had no such ambition. Mike wanted to get back to his job.

More numbers. 4345. 3334. 4536. 4223. 4223. James Wannamaker. 4223......4227.

Mike: "Boy, that job must stink."
Me: "Well, I understand she works the Bingo circuit, too."

That got about 5 people to turn, look at me, and start laughing.

Now, sitting there waiting is kind of like Juror Keno, with numbers all around you falling, but your own still uncalled.

4111. 5337. 5483. and, 5839.

Mike: "Damn. I mean, 'Here'."
Me: "Bummer. Kind of like getting shot the morning of 11/11/1918."

Then the same thing happened to me, and I think people were a little disappointed when I answered "here," rather than "Bingo!"

The selection itself was straightforward. They brought in 25 of us, sat 14 of us in the Box, and then we became the Default Jury. Nobody managed to disqualify himself despite some pretty strenuous efforts. Most people weren't going to outright lie about their own objectivity, after all.

So it's supposed to make me feel better being a pre-emptory dismissal? I know everyone who gets tossed thinks, "they were just worried I was too smart," but in this case, I think they were just worried about how I saw the case. The plaintiff's attorney spent a lot of time asking us about what type of information we'd want to know. This was his way of finding out if we were Fairness People, Justice People, or Law People. I was doomed the moment I came off as a Law Person.

Ah well, at least I have the rest of the week free.

Jury Duty

The great civic responsibility calls. Spotty blogging today.

Legal Clinic

No, not what Sam Alito administered to the Senate Democrats.

What public law schools are funding - primarily to advance leftist legal theories in court.

Instapundit refers to Heather MacDonald's assessment. Judging from the list at CU's Law School, I'd aay she's got a point.

Your tax dollars at work.

Deals From Hell Just Keep Coming

Am I the only one who sees a replay of the Qwest-Verizon-MCI struggle in the current Boston Scientific-J&J-Guidant bidding war? J&J can always win this thing if it wants to - it just may not want to. And BSX is now offering substantially more than its own value, on its way to wrecking the combined balance sheet of the two companies.

Then there's this:

Some of Guidant's largest shareholders have protested what they believe is an unfair preference for J&J at the Guidant board level, despite what they regard as J&J's inferior offers. This suggests that a hostile bid might find backers among these groups.

That should also sound familiar.

Likewise, some are arguing that J&J needs Guidant because it has few other growth opportunities. I'm not certain that a profitable and growing company worth $180 billion needs any company worth about $25B.

There are some differences. For instance, Qwest had no outside help. In this case, Abbott Labs seems willing to fund BSX's escalating offers - at least to some extent - by agreeing to pay more for certain overlapping bits of Guidant that can't keep. But there are some limits, here, too. Abbott is only valued at about $65B, and certainly won't be looking to blow its entire roll of cash just block J&J. This isn't the Persian Empire bankrolling the Spartans.

I suppose there's that argument that something is worth what you can get for it, but people value companies for a reason, and J&J had excellent reasons for pushing down Guidant's price. Using the pre-deal list from Deals From Hell, I'd be a little worried about winning if I were a BSX shareholder. It's a bidding war for a public company, one that BSX has valued above itself, and which the board is clearly hoping will save the company. There are complex regulatory issues to be negotiated. And there will almost certainly be expensive buyouts and severance for senior- and middle-management. Speaking of management, with one exception there's very little management investment in BSX.

If J&J wins, they may be overpaying.

If BSX wins, they may soon be up for sale.

January 16, 2006

Shadegg for Majority Leader

This is important enough that, for what it's worth, I'm signing on to the Bloggers for Shadegg.

We need smaller government and the means to enforce it, not more limitations on yours and my power to petition. Shadegg is the only one so far willing to take these things head-on in a meaningful way.

If you have a Republican representative, call him or her. If, like me, you're among the unfortunate minority, call the Republican reps in your state. If you're in Colorado, remind them that we've got two of the most vulnerable Republicans here, and that it's not 1998 any more.

Beauprez & The House Leadership Race

As a Congressman, Bob Beauprez usually isn't dealing directly with the same issues he would as governor. Immigration is one counterexample, where he's helped sponsor a tough border control bill. So are taxes, where in 2003, he supported a bill to reduce capital gains, dividend, and income taxes.

Another is the House leadership race. Rep. Beauprez hasn't yet announced a candidate to support, but he's a member of the fiscally conservative Republican Study Committee, led by Rep. John Shadegg. Shadegg is a reliable conservative, fiscally sound, and squeaky-clean ethically. At issue is both what Rep. Beauprez does and what the RSC as a whole does.

Rich Lowry has pointed out that waiting too long to endorse might doom Shadegg's candidacy. It might also provide cover to people who don't really want him elected.

While, as Michael Barone notes, there's little point in handicapping such a race, and the that doesn't mean we can't ask the representatives who they're backing. The vote may be private, but public statements are on the record. If Beauprez were to make a strong public statement in favor of Shadegg, or to argue that the RSC should declare now rather than later, it would make a strong impression on conservatives who want the party to clean up its act for real.

Beauprez does operate at something of a disadvantage, since he needs to deal with practical issues as an elected official, in a way that Holtzman does not. The House leadership race can provide one barometer of where he wants the party to go when it's under pressure.

Cross-Posted at Holtzman v. Beauprez.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that the National Journal is reporting Beauprez as committed to Blunt. The date of the posting is 1/14, which suggests that it was working off a slightly older list than that. This was before, or close to, the time Shadegg actually announced, at a time when Blunt was trying to sell the fiction that he had it all locked up.

Even public committments are next-to-impossible to enforce. Beauprez could argue that he committed too early & he's sorry about that, but that Shadegg hadn't yet entered the race and, after all, it's better to say something publicly rather than do the traditional private-ballot back-stabbing thing and wait until the vote.

January 15, 2006

That Canadian Liberal Media

Ginna Dowler at PeakTalk notes that even the traditionally liberal Canadian media have, in their disappointment and disillusionment, turned on the Liberals:

In 2004, the media still believed in Paul, the man who would rescue us. I think the turning point came in May 2005, when Martin held onto power by bribing an opposition member (Stronach) into crossing the floor. I can't find the link, but there was a particular press scrum where all the journalists burst out laughing at the Liberals' explanations. And all of a sudden things began to change.

By the time this campaign began it seemed clear that the media love affair with Martin was over. He'd duped them, collectively and individually. And collectively and individually they are lashing back.

Well, maybe. Certainly, there's a certain sense abroad in the newsrooms that the Liberals are intellectually bankrupt, and have resorted to the shabbiest schemes to keep from being financially so. But this looks a great deal more like one of those "interventions" done for a friend's own good than an actual eye-opening questioning of allegiances.

Look at the one major media source that's actually bowed to the inevitable and endorsed the Tories, the Globe and Mail. Its reasons for voting Tory amount to giving the Liberals a timeout from the strains of pretending to govern in order to tidy up. After all, a certain amount of malaise and entitlement is bound to set in after a decade or two.

I suppose that's better than then-Canadian Peter Jennings's calling the 1994 Congressional vote that turned out a 40-year Demcratic House majority "a tantrum." But it's clear they're angry at the feckless Liberals for being fxkless, not for being liberal. There's certainly nothing in there about Conservative ideas.

"Fear of becoming too American" is so firmly entrenched in the national trope that it's part of opinion poll questions, and invariably interpreted as a Tory weakness. The notion that the ongoing national identity crisis has led them to become "too European" seems never to have crossed their minds. (Given the latest Government proposals on marriage, becoming "too Arabian" might be more of an issue, but that's another story.)

The eye-rolling foolishness of accusing Stephen Harper of planning martial law is obvious to all. The fact that Canada no longer has a military worthy of the name goes unmentioned. (Perhaps having played a key role in liberating France, they just don't want to make that mistake again.)

PM-to-be Harper suggests that Canada abandon the Kyoto-treaty-in-name, and he's "turning his back on Kyoto," or "endangering Canada's diplomatic standing." The fact that Canada's greenhouse emissions have grown faster than those CO-breathing, poison-swilling Americans have gets buried next to a statment about how ditching Kyoto now will only make things worse later on.

The debate on Public Health only goes as far as trashing the NDP leader for actually trying to secure treatment a decade ago.

Canada may be financially sound. It may be able to struggle along with its Europeanisation Programme for a little while longer. But if you look at where it's gotten the Europeans, you have to be worried about the Tories winning an election without a clear mandate to steer in some other direction.

January 13, 2006

Life Imitates Art


The Governor's Role in the Nominating Process

The RMA (in the persons of Ben DeGrow, the Kestrel, and me) had a chance to interview Governor Owens after yesterday's State of the State address, and the last question asked was about his role in the ongoing Republican gubernatorial nominating process. In short, whether or not it made sense for him to have a role.

His answer can be summarized (not quoted) as follows: He intends to keep a low profile, but is backing Rep. Beauprez. His main purpose in doing so is to preserve party unity, since he sees a practical need for the conservatives in the party to work with its more centrist members, something that neither side always appreciates. Owens told Holtzman that he was backing Beauprez even before Holtzman decided to get into the race, and that Holtzman shouldn't be surprised. Owens seemed genuinely offended that Holtzman would run his campaign against him, and promised that "human nature would kick in," and he would defend his record. In any event, he'd like to be in a position to help whomever the nominee is to win the general.

Everyone wants to win - the Governor's Mansion and at least one house of the legislature if possible. Still, Owens was largely behind the whole Pete Coors thing in 2004, and in the two interviews we've conducted so far, it's clear that Holtzman has more ideas ready to go than Beauprez does. If John Kerry in 04 or the British Tories over the last decade hold any lesson, it's that electability isn't enough to get you elected.

That's not to say Beauprez can't or won't win. It's not to say that by the time people start paying attention, he'll have enough well thought-out policy proposals to fill Ken Salazar's pick-up truck. But Dick Wadhams - remember Dick Wadhams, Governor? - is a big fan of primaries, figuring it makes a better candidate come October. Getting outside help is liable to fool the nominee into thinking he's a better candidate than he really is.

I'm not sure the Governor should be involved here. (Recall the 1988 Presidential race, where the Republicans held neither house of Congress, and yet Ronald Reagan simply refused to insert himself into the nominating process.) I realize he genuinely believes that Beauprez is the better candidate, and he's certainly got the stronger presence in the state. But a debate about the party's character and direction is more or less inevitable upon the retirement of a popular governor, and using the considerable power of the governor's office to short-circuit that debate is likely to breed resentment rather than unity.

January 12, 2006

Senator Kennedy

Listening to Senator Kennedy cross-examine - in his own way - Judge Alito on the concept the "unitary Presidency," you can see why he had to cheat in law school.

By the way, at the time the Senator attended U.Va., the undergraduate schools there did not admit women. Although the future Senator was at the Law School, not there as an undergraduate, I think such fine distinctions are really just an attempt to evade responsibility for the institution as a whole. He also shares membership in the U.Va. Alumni Association with known terrorist apologists as well as actual, card-carrying members of the Republican Party. Why does his association with the University continue to appear on his official bio?

Vindication By Association

The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, in particular Feinstein, Kennedy, and Schumer, have been trying to use Judge Alito's association with CAP to claim that they know what's really in his heart concerning non-Italian minorities.

Alberto Rivas, with whom I spoke last Thursday, would beg to differ. A center-left Democrat who worked with Alito 20 years ago in the US Attorney's office and has known him well ever since, Rivas wouldn't be out on tour promoting Alito's nomination if he had any doubts the Judge's character. Racism is one of those things that pretty hard to keep locked away without saying something incriminating over the course of decades. Lord knows, the Democrats have had no trouble digging up such disqualifying comments in the past.

Sadly, Mr. Rivas had to leave the interview early - to go speak to Univision, the Spanish-language TV network.

January 11, 2006

The Great Right North

As both of Canada's voters prepare to go to the polls, and with a little under two weeks to go in the campaign, an increasing number of polls show the Tories pulling ahead of the incumbent Liberals, with their momentum accelerating.

It's been a long road back for the Conservatives, who basically dissolved into three parties in 1993, and have spent the last decade trying to put the pieces back together again. It looked like they might have in 2004, but the momentum stalled just before Election Day. This time, it looks as though people are ready to vote Conservative, knowing they might win, which is a completely different dynamic from a protest vote. Apparently, Stephen Harper may be boring, but once you actually get to know him, he's not all that scary, really.

If they win, it'll be at least in part because the Liberals are hitting the Self-Destruct Trifecta: incompetence, corruption, and intellectual bankruptcy. (On the corruption point, at least, the current legislative Republicans should take note of what's happening up North.)

In what can only be some sort of political Dissonant Convergence, the paucity of ideas merged with the incompetence this past week. It's not exactly Carter Briefing Book stuff, but someone leaked the Little Red Book to the Western Standard, who dutifully satisfied the public's Right To Know. Apparently, nobody satisfied the party's right to know, though, as Paul Martin's "number one priority" didn't make the cut. Either Martin's making it up as he goes along, or the post-election party revolt has started early.

That "number one priority" isn't too impressive, either. It has to do with something called the "notwithstanding clause:"

As part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the notwithstanding clause gives courts the responsibility to protect the rights of minorities, while providing politicians the power to go against the wishes of the court.

The clause was included in the Charter in 1982 after tense negotiations between then prime minister Pierre Trudeau and provincial leaders.

Martin has said in the past that he would be willing to use the notwithstanding clause to protect the rights of churches that didn't want to perform same-sex marriages. But he now feels that politicians should no longer possess that option.

When you're number one priority involves giving away your own power, it's a pretty fair bet that you expect to be Not With Standing yourself in fairly short order.

In what passes for Canadian foreign policy, the Liberals, not content to keep American weapons out of space also want to keep the Canadian military out of -- Canada.

There's something disappointing about the Tories finally getting power back, if that happens. The Western provinces have been so consistently alienated from the national government for decades that some of us had hoped they might trade Ottawa for Washington and finally give us a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Now, they'll have to settle for running Canada.

Shouting, "Fire" In a Crowded City

I'm on the way back to Denver from Atlanta, after helping out my sister a little with the kids as she goes through a...procedure. She'll be fine, God willing; it's mostly preventative and borderline at that. But better safe that sorry, and in this case, that could be very sorry if wrong.

So here I am, sitting in the Atlanta airport, having navigated both United's check-in process and the security check, being subjected to CNN. Now, I was a little busy here, but I did have time to notice the report of a wildfire down south back home. I've been through Aguilar. Nice little town, and there's a gorgeous back-road that starts there.

Too bad they live in the mountains, which have been so dry. One of the risks of not living in the big city, which is insulated from things like that.



Power, Faith, and Fantasy

Six Days of War

An Army of Davids

Learning to Read Midrash

Size Matters

Deals From Hell

A War Like No Other


A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud