Saturday, November 06, 2004

Around the world in 48 blogs 

Happy post-election. What have you all been blogging about?

In Australia, Tim Blair presents the "sorry ones."

The Currency Lad is joyous about the American result.

Gnu Hunter is hanging up his rifle. He will be missed.

The House of Wheels fisks John Edwards's concession speech.

Fabian's Hammer blogs about the growing anti-Semitism within the Australian Labor Party.

In the United States, Deacon at Powerline writes on what it's like being red in Washington DC.

Michelle Malkin on the death of the "high turnout benefits the Dems" myth.

Roger Simon writes on how the media's obsession with the "moral vision" thing has disenfranchised him as a Bush voter.

Armed Liberal at Winds of Change hopes for a Democrat reformation.

Andrew Sullivan's reader demolishes "Bush won because he was anti-gay" argument.

Greg Djereijan visits Kos and finds out the left still doesn't get it.

The Belmont Club ponders the fate of Yasser Arafat.

The Captain writes that the Dems have gripped the coasts and lost everything in between.

Blackfive: all the leftie celebrities always promise to migrate if the Republicans win - promises, promises...

Dean Esmay thinks the media is pushing Bush rightward.

Dan Drezner ponders what's next for the American foreign policy.

INDC Journal demolishes the "worst job losses since Hoover" myth.

La Shawn Barber celebrates her first blogiversary.

Tom Heard is keeping to his promise that he wouldn't gloat, but he wishes the other side wouldn't whinge so much.

BBC asked Americans to explain why they voted for Bush - Baldilocks responded.

D J Drummond at Polipundit writes, yes, we have a mandate.

Dan Wismar was a GOP poll observer in Ohio - here's his story.

A scientist wanted to scan Patterico's Republican brain.

Brainshavings has a plan for the next four years.

Bunker Mulligan blogs about the press and the President.

Fausta at Bad Hair Blog has thoughts on one big happy multilateral family.

CenterFued - another single-issue voter.

MuD & PHuD
: "To my liberal friends who say they feel 'disconnected' from the country, you probably are."

Peter Schramm at No Left Turns compares the 2000 and 2004 numbers.

Clayton Cramer
advises the Democrats on how not to lose in the future.

Joe Gandelman
is rounding-up the Dem reactions to the defeat.

The Diplomad writes on the reactions inside the State Department to the Bush victory.

Don't miss Chester, a former Marine officer who took part in liberation of Iraq, who is now keeping an eye on all the developments in Fallujah.

Solomon knows why John Kerry was so keen to drag Mary Cheney into the campaign.

Pacetown finds the lessons of the 2004 election in anagrams.

Libercontrarian writes about his hero, the unknown soldier.

In The Bullpen watches the angry left completely lose perspective on events.

Reasonable Force has some faith-based agenda for the second Bush term.

In Europe, Pieter at Peaktalk writes about the death of multicultural Holland: Al Zarqawi on clogs (part one and two).

John Rosenthal at the Transatlantic Intelligencer has republished his famous essay on the myth of the squandered sympathy (interesting in light of the ups and downs of American-European relations), and has got another interesting one about the foreign media interference in the US election.

Ne Pasaran: "Divorce from France? No kidding. Do you know where her mouth has been?"

In Asia, Simon World rounds-up the best of Asian-based blogs.

In the Middle East, Iraq the Model translates some Arab reactions to Bush's victory.

And Mudville Gazette rounds-up Iraqi blog reactions.

Isreallycool keeps an eye on Arafat's body.

Athena at Terrorism Unveiled blogs from Jordan: "These people are of the 19-22 age range and come from affluent families. They drive BMW’s, their parents have advanced degrees from the States or Europe. They dress like Americans, talk like Americans and many want to visit or live in America for at least a while. Many would love to study in America. They speak of the freedom of America. They love to meet Americans and say that they love Americans. And they love Osama bin Ladin."

Last but not least - Homespun Bloggers - have a "moral vision" and join in. Have an immoral vision and join in, too.


Friday, November 05, 2004

Guest blogger: Mesopotamia Redeemed, part 2 

This is second part of a guest post by Daniel Foty, who argues that democracy and the rule of law are nothing new in Iraq - the Coalition is merely trying to reintroduce the lost legacy of ancient Mesopotamia. Far part one, click here.

Mesopotamia Redeemed Part II

As described in Part I, perhaps the most important innovation of the Sumerians was their invention of legal codes. Several of these codes have been recovered, at least in part, and the reader is struck by their modernity.

The oldest recovered code is attributed to Urukagina of Lagash in the 24th century B.C. A striking fact about this code is that it is clearly reactive – an oppressive ruling dynasty had been overthrown, and Urukagina had been selected as the new ruler of Lagash.

The code begins by listing the grievances of the citizens of Lagash against the preceding rulers – excessive bureaucracy, oppressive taxation, and the expropriation of private property. This list of grievances is actually very similar to the list of grievances against King George III which is contained in the American Declaration of Independence.

The prologue to the code also states that Urukagina’s code was intended to re-establish the "divine laws" in Lagash. There are two inferences to be drawn from that statement. First, "re-establishment" implies that the "normal" situation in Lagash had historically been one of personal and economic freedom – and that the overthrown rulers had trampled on these rights in a manner that was alien to the citizens of Lagash. Second, the reference to the "divine laws" is directly referenced to Ningursu, the patron deity of Lagash; the stated implication is that the historical rights and freedoms of the citizens of Lagash had been granted by a higher authority than that of men. This sentiment is also directly contained in the American Declaration of Independence, in the famous passage that all men are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights."

Urukagina’s code was intended to do more than merely undo the prior abuses. It was clearly intended to establish the "rule of law" rather than the "rule of men." It established the basis for a written set of independent laws, along with specific statutes. These statute items list particular offenses, along with the particular punishment to be meted out in each case. Unfortunately, very little of this part of the code has been recovered, but a large part of what is available states that private property was to be strongly protected by the code. As a specific criminal case example, the penalty for convicted thieves was death by stoning.

Thus, the Urukagina code clearly indicates that the concept of the "rule of law" and the use of a clear and publicly-promulgated legal code are not recent innovations – but date back to the dawn of civilization. Urukagina’s code also makes it abundantly clear that the right to private property (and the legal protection of private property) is one of the oldest legal concepts known to man.

The second recovered Sumerian legal code is attributed to Ur-Nammu of Ur in the 21st century B.C. Like Urukagina’s code, Ur-Nammu’s code is also clearly reactive to ill circumstances which had befallen Ur. Sadly, little more than the prologue has been recovered, so we are left with the general intentions of the code but precious little information on the core of the code itself. However, there are other historical records which shed some added light on the occurrences which brought Ur-Nammu to power and caused him to produce a legal code.

Ur-Nammu founded a new dynasty in Ur at a time when Ur’s fortunes had been waning; for some time, Ur had been losing territory to its arch-rival of Lagash (which had been the city-state of Urukagina some three centuries earlier). When Ur-Nammu came to power, he first undertook the task of defeating Lagash and restoring Ur’s original territorial boundaries. With that accomplished, he then turned his energy to internal reforms in Ur.

Although only fragments of Ur-Nammu’s code have been recovered, those fragments make it clear that Ur-Nammu’s reason for formulating and promulgating his code were much the same as that of Urukagina – to reform an abusive system. Ur-Nammu sought to eliminate corruption, graft, and the expropriation of private property; particular mention is made of the expropriation of livestock under the prior regime.

Like Urukagina, Ur-Nammu invokes divine favor for his code, contending that the rule of law should be based on authority higher than that of men. In this case, Ur-Nammu refers specifically to Nanna, the patron deity of Ur – as well as the other leading deities of the Sumerian pantheon.

In addition to a code consisting of basic "offense-and-punishment" statutes, Ur-Nammu’s code introduced some other innovations. One was the first introduction of monetary fines as statutory punishments – which is a rather refined method of implementing justice. Another innovation was Ur-Nammu’s introduction of standardized weights and measures, with a clear eye toward promoting honesty and integrity in commerce; this clearly informs us of the importance of trade and commerce in Sumerian civilization.

Overall, Ur-Nammu’s code had the same goals as Urukagina’s code – and it is even possible that it was created with full knowledge of the existence and usage of the older Lagash code. It endeavored to end abuse and establish the "rule of law" via a publicly-promulgated compilation of a set of laws.

The third recovered law code has been attributed to Lipit-Ishtar of the city-state of Isin in the 19th century B.C. This code likely had very far-reaching implications, so it will be considered separately in Part III.


Babes and Punjabis 

For ever and ever the trendies, the sophisticates and the beautiful people have painted us on the right side of politics as boring squares, joyless fanatics, religious nutcases, and monoethnic bigots. It was never true, but hey, the control of the New York-Harvard-Hollywood axis of moral and cultural superiority is a powerful tool in shaping public perceptions.

I keep coming back to the
CNN exit poll, and even if it's not 100 per cent accurate, it still paints an interesting picture of the Republican support across the nation. Sure, a lot of white Americans voted Republican once again, but this year 2% more African-Americans supported Bush (11%) than in 2000, 9% more Latinos (44%), and 3% more Asian-Americans (44%). And yep, there's a strong Protestant base to the GOP, but this year 5% more Catholics voted for Bush, giving him 52% support over their co-religionist Kerry's 47%. Religious Jews still vote overwhelmingly Democrat, but even in that group Bush scored 25% support at the election, up by 6% since 2000. There's even a few more percent of non-church-goers who also voted for that fanatical fundamentalist Bush. And almost one quarter of gay Americans voted Republican, too.

In another sign of change, increasing number of
celebrities are not afraid to reveal their Republican affiliations or sympathies. Not that it really matters - as Mark Steyn writes in today's "Australian", the Dem's celeb culture is an electoral liability for them - but while it won't win the GOP any extra votes in the real world, it does break one of the most entrenched and powerful stereotypes ou there - that the glamorous, the talented, the artistic and the creative ones are of necessity exclusively on the left.

And - not that its matters at all - but the Republicans are having more and more babes. Thanks to
New Jersey GOP for their public service in bringing all the right-wing babes to our attention (no nudity, but not quite work-friendly if your employer objects to bikini photos), and thanks to Alastair for bringing it to my attention.

A lot more importantly, as the CNN numbers show, just as the United States is becoming less White, less Anglo-Saxon and less Protestant, the Republicans are demonstarting that they can attract and appeal to an increasing number of ethnic and religious groups. The Democrats might have their new rising star in Barack Obama, but the Republicans have just elected Indian-American
Piyush "Bobby" Jindal to Congress from, all places, Louisiana (hat tip: Bruce).

If there is one great side-effect of the 2004 presidential campaign, it's that the richness and diversity of all those across America who share a passionate belief in strong and principled foreign policy and a prosperous, healthy society at home, has finally been revealed.


The wit and wisdom of Arundhati Roy 

Last year, it was Palestinian negotiator Hannah Ashrawi. This year, another worthy recipient of the $50,000 Sydney Peace Prize is the Indian novelist and activist Arundhati Roy, who as Australia's ABC notes "[r]ecently encouraged Australians to vote against John Howard because of his decision to go to war in Iraq... [and] also urged people to join the Iraqi resistance." No, not that resistance, as the recipient explains:
"One wasn't urging them to join the Mehdi Army, you know, but to become the resistance, to become part of what ought to be a non-violent resistance against a very violent occupation. So that is to redefine what resistance means, you know, we can't just assume that resistance means terrorism, because that would be playing right into the hands of the occupation."
Non-violent resistance in Iraq? Then one was obviously urging them to join non-existent resistance. Can't seem to find too many people in Iraq going on hunger strikes and singing "We shall not be moved."

As an Indian news service reminds us, "Roy... previously branded US President George W Bush as a 'terrorist' and described Australia's military presence in Iraq as 'inexcusable'. She has also accused Australia of genocide over what she believes to be its mistreatment of Aborigines is reportedly planning to donate her $50,000 peace prize to Aboriginal political activists."

Ah, remember how Roy had rallied against the oppression and genocide in Saddam's Iraq?

Neither can I.

I guess Iraq wasn't then "in the front lines of empire" which is all that matters. You can read Roy's acceptance speech here. It's full of insightful geo-politico-economic analysis like this:
"It has been only a few weeks since a majority of Australians voted to re-elect Prime Minister John Howard who, among other things, led Australia to participate in the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. The invasion of Iraq will surely go down in history as one of the most cowardly wars ever fought. It was a war in which a band of rich nations, armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, rounded on a poor nation, falsely accused it of having nuclear weapons, used the United Nations to force it to disarm, then invaded it, occupied it and are now in the process of selling it.

"I speak of Iraq, not because everybody is talking about it, (sadly at the cost of leaving other horrors in other places to unfurl in the dark), but because it is a sign of things to come. Iraq marks the beginning of a new cycle. It offers us an opportunity to watch the Corporate-Military cabal that has come to be known as 'Empire' at work. In the new Iraq the gloves are off."
I would have thought that this sort of early-to-middle previous century theorising has been buried under the rubble of the Berlin Wall, but obviously the trendies of Sydney still find it an appealing insight. Roy's "God of small things" I'm sure looks favourably on the left's moral sense


Thursday, November 04, 2004

A bit more willing this time around? 

What are the foreign policy implications of the election in terms of America's relations with the rest of the world? I wrote yesterday that "holding your breath and turning blue for the next four years is no longer a viable option" for foreign governments, and therefore we are likely to see a thaw of sorts between those from Mars and those from Venus.

Is it starting

" 'The United States and the European Union are linked by strong cultural, economic and political ties, and by our shared values. This makes us each other's natural and indispensable partners,' said Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who holds the EU's rotating presidency.

" 'Together, Europe and the United States face many critical challenges in the years ahead. As in the past, our best hope for success lies in common action,' EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said in a statement...

" 'On behalf of France, and on my personal behalf, I would like to express to you my most sincere congratulations for your re-election to the presidency of the United States of America,' Chirac wrote in a letter to Bush. 'I hope that your second term will provide an opportunity to reinforce the Franco-American friendship.'

"German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who also clashed with Bush over Iraq, voiced hope that his country would continue its 'good cooperation' with the United States...

"Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said from Bonn that he hoped the new US government 'would help to bring peace to the Middle East'...

"In Madrid, Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said his government 'wishes to contribute to effective and constructive cooperation with the Bush government'."
And Russia's Vladimir Putin had this to day:

"I am convinced that international terrorism gave itself the goal of not allowing the re-election of Bush. The statement by bin Laden in the final stages of the pre-election campaign is the best confirmation of this... If Bush wins, then I can only feel joy that the American people did not allow itself to be intimidated, and made the most sensible decision...

"Relations will not be easy. Between such countries as the United States and Russia with such a scale of mutual obligations, there are always some problems... Our relations in the last four years have undergone a big change, for the good of our peoples, of our countries, and for the good of our security... [Bush is] a reliable and predictable partner... [he] has proved to be a firm man, with a strong character, and a coherent policy."
Now, it's easy to dismiss all these comments as polite diplomatic chatter; after all, hardly anyone in the international arena - arguably, with the occasional exception of French officials - ever says what they actually think, and elections, like funerals, always provide an opportunity for an obligatory kind word to be said.

But I think there's more to it all than just rhetoric. Here is why:

For the past few years, the "international community" has built its policy vis-a-vis the United States on an assumption that Bush, that uncomfortable aberration from Texas, would be a one-termer. Walled in inside their own echo chamber, reinforced and amplified by the American mainstream media's anti-Bush stance, foreign governments have managed to convince themselves that no incumbent could survive electoraly the "quagmire" of Iraq abroad and the groundswell of opposition at home. In other words, the leaders from Caracas to Paris, and from Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, made the assumption that since they wouldn't vote for Bush, and the "New York Times" wouldn't vote for Bush, the American people wouldn't either - that is, for all the sophisticates' sneering about America and the Americans, the "unwilling" governments around the world thought that in the end the US voters would behave as "rationally" as the Belgians or the Jordanians would in these circumstances.

It was not to be. George W Bush has been clearly and convincingly re-elected and his policies at home - and most importantly abroad - re-endorsed by the majority of the electorate. And France, Germany, the EU, the UN, and all others are stuck with W in the White House for the next four years. Going back to the good old days of doing nothing and doing it all together is no longer a possibility.

Whatever we might think of foreign leaders and their ideological preferences, these people also tend to be realists. Now the uncertainty is over and it's time for plan B. Another few years of Cold War is not a productive option for anyone. The governments around the world are realizing, to use Lyndon B Johnson's favorite formulation, that it's better to be inside the tent pissing out than the other way around. As a mate of mine likes to say, even piss kills if from a a great enough height, but as the international community has discovered it's difficult enough to achieve the necessary deadly height if you're planning to urinate on a hegemon and a hyper-power.

The United States throughout the crisis of the last few years has generally tried to maintain good relations with everyone, including its many foreign detractors. I have a feeling that the second Bush term will see an even greater effort to reach out to international critics and skeptics - not to dilute the current policies of the Administration, but more on a symbolic level to help the Frances and Germanys of this world save some face.

So, one big happy multilateral family again? Non. But a detente, perhaps? Oui.


John Kerry imitates Dan Quayle - sort of 

John Kerry in his concession speech:
"[I]n an American election, there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning we all wake up as Americans."
Dan Quayle in a speech to the American Legion:
"The Civil War was the best war we've ever had because when you're fighting with yourself, you're always going to win."
Except that Quayle never actually said it. Kudos to Kerry and his speechwriters, though - it's a very nice line. I'll pay that.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Never concede, never surrender 

The media and the Dems really want to turn it into a second Florida, don't they? Except this time it's not 500 odd votes, confused retirees punching holes in wrong places, and chads hanging every which way. It's almost 140,000 votes, for goodness' sakes. There's definitely 135,000 provisional votes, plus maybe another 10,000 or so to be counted. Kerry would need to get all of them to win Ohio. Likelihood? Zero. At the same time Kerry - and the media - are quite happy to claim victory in four states with a similar margin - Pennsylvannia, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Hey, but the media needs excitement:
"The US presidential race headed toward chaos tonight with President George W. Bush grabbing a narrow lead, Democrat John Kerry refusing to concede defeat and the possibility of no winner for days or weeks."
Or this breathless introduction:
"The U.S. election system failed to choose a winner on voting day for the second straight presidential contest, raising the possibility that the courts may have to break a deadlock between George W. Bush and challenger John Kerry."
The U.S. election system did just fine, thank you very much. Just because John Kerry thinks he can pull votes out of his hat doesn't mean there's no winner. And just because John Kerry says there's no winner, it doesn't mean that the media has to be his echo chamber. But that would be to expect too much.

Remember? This was always going to be Kerry's strategy:
"Sen. John Kerry, bracing for a potential fight over election results, will not hesitate to declare victory Nov. 2 and defend it, advisers say... In short, the Democratic presidential candidate has a simple strategy for Nov. 3 and beyond: Do not repeat Al Gore's mistakes.

"The Democratic vice president prematurely conceded the 2000 race to George W. Bush in a telephone call, then had to retract his concession after aides said Florida wasn't lost. He never declared victory, an omission Kerry's advisers - many of whom worked for Gore - now believe created a sense of inevitability in voters' minds about Bush's presidency."
And it still is:
"But Senator Kerry's campaign manager - mindful of how Al Gore stopped in his tracks four years ago en route to conceding Florida - refused to throw in the towel as the count dragged on into the early American morning."
That's right, kiddies, because refusing to concede will make all those bad votes disappear. Because refusing to believe something means it's not actually true. Welcome to the make-believe world of Democratic politics; we'll make you believe we're won. Or at least we'll make you believe that there's something not quite right about the election result, something tainted, something illegitimate. So even though Bush had handsomely won the popular vote nation-wide and won the state by a fair margin, the Democratic specter will haunt the land for years to come, sinisterly whispering "Ohio... Ohio..."

Kerry's actions overnight are a scandal. Media's abetting of Kerry's tantrum is an even bigger scandal. It's time to end this farce.


Good news, bad news 

Good news:

1) Bush re-elected - of course. Congrats to all my American readers (which is roughly about 90% of you out there).

2) I'm not out of my job - had Kerry won, there would have been a flood of good news stories in the mainstream media about how the things have turned the corner in Iraq and Afghanistan under the new Democrat leadership and its fresh, warm'n'fuzzy, multilateral approach. As the things stand now with Bush re-elected, Iraq and Afghanistan remain red states and the official status is still "quagmire"... And I can keep on publishing my "Good news from..." series.

3) the rest of the "international community" now has to put us or shut up. There was seemingly overwhelming hope out there, from Cairo and Lima to Berlin and Beijing, that Kerry would be elected and we could all return to the good old days of doing nothing, but doing it all together. Now, holding your breath and turning blue for the next four years is no longer a viable option. Foreign leaders and diplomats are deep down realists, and now that they know they have to deal with a Republican administration for the next four years, expect a thaw of sorts in international relations.

4) if the mainstream media could not put their favorite into the White House at a time of rather average economic performance and in the middle of a not very popular war, then their power is seriously degraded - if not broken.

Bad news:

1) the country is very polarised - arguably more so than at any other time in recent political memory: New England and the West Coast versus everything in between, which is a lot of ground; large cities versus small towns; urbia versus suburbia; religious versus agnostic.

2) four more years of vitriol. The Republicans are much better at moving on, partly because since they don't control the mainstream media, entertainment industry, universities and other liberal elite havens, their anger tends to stay more out of public sight. Not so our left-wing friends. Expect a lot of "the people have spoken, the bastards" plus an assortment of conspiracy theories.

Hell, I think I can live with that bad news.


How interesting... 

It looks like Ohio is this year's Florida. No offence to Ohio, but I preferred Florida.

Isn't it close? No landslide either way.

And isn't it polarised - doesn't look like too many - if any (Update: with exception of New Hampshire?) - states are changing hands, but it looks like the red states are getting redder and blue states are getting bluer (OK, that's a big generalisation, so don't hang me over it). John Edwards was right - there are increasingly two Americas, but it's nothing that can be fixed by either of the presidential candidates.

I wrote two days ago that it is one of those elections where the latent support for either the incumbent or the challenger might have been underestimated in the opinion polls. In truth, it looks like the broad support for Bush was underestimated, but judging by the turnout, it looks like there was lots of strong political feeling generated during the campaign for both the candidates.

Spent the last few hours with the American community in Brisbane at the Marriott hotel eating hot dogs and watching CNN. Now back home, and Channel Nine is re-transmitting the CBS election coverage with Dan Rather, which is rather annoying.

Update: The Dems are not conceding Ohio, but as I watch the count, with every next hundred precincts coming in, and another percentage point of votes counted, Bush keeps on maintaining his lead of just over a 100,000.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

If I could vote in the US elections... 

... I would vote for George Bush - an election-stealing cokehead with a lay-about wife and alco daughters, whose running mate, a corrupt war profiteer, has a leso daughter he's ashamed of.

(according to respectively: Al Gore's daughter Karenna, Teresa Heinz Kerry's son Chris, Teresa herself (before a
retraction), the Deputy Chairman of the DNC Ben Johnson (the sound file here), the Kerry campaign, John Kerry himself, and John Edwards's wife Elizabeth)

Oh, and by the way, all of you who - unlike me can vote in the US elections - and will actually be voting for Bush,
have lost your minds and are retarded idiots.

(courtesy of respectively: John Edwards, the Tennessee Democratic Party, and Teresa Heinz Kerry)

And that's even before we get anywhere near the issues of policy.

Ain't the Democrats just a warm'n'fuzzy'n'tolerant bunch? As you say, Senator Kerry,
"America can do better".


Name dropping 

Something light before the very serious day. This morning I got my first Iraqi-inspired Nigerian scam email:

"Dear friend,

Permit me to introduce myself. I am Arafat Alli the Iraqi special assistant to Paul Bremer the civil American ruler of Iraq after the ouster of President Saddam Hussein. Paul Bremer was Iraq's effective ruler for more than a year, he handed over the running of the country to Ayad Allawi's interim government.

"Before he was suddenly requested to hand over the running of the Iraqi government to Allawi, he had already sent out of Iraq fifty million USD each in cash respectively to Spain, Netherlands and Swizerland. These were part of the funds he had in some of the contracts he awarded during his short stay in office. The money was deposited as valuables in different private security companies for safe keeping."
Arafat Alli, for goodness' sakes? If you're just some minor league fraudster from Lagos (or nowadays, just as likely London or Kuala Lumpur) and you've been trawling the news services to make your scam email sound more topical, why not name your protagonist Osama bin Hussein al Zarqawi and just get on with it?


See you in 2008 

Should George W Bush be re-elected tomorrow (my time), 2008 is potentially shaping up to be a one of the most fascinating campaigns in history:

Arnold Schwarzenegger versus Hillary Clinton.

Could it get any better?


Monday, November 01, 2004

Once more onto the boat, once more 

Tomorrow, all this will be part of history. One way or another. Today, while it's still journalism, go and read Dean Esmay's exclusive interview with Steve Gardner, a Swift Boat Veteran who served under John Kerry for two and a half months.
"[T]he scariest proposition that I can think of at this point in time is John Kerry being President of these here United States."
The blogosphere brings you the news because the mainstream media doesn't.


For a want of a translator a jihad was lost 

It gives a whole new meaning to "targeting the swing states." It seems that the media has initially misconstrued this part of Osama's recent speech:
"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your hands. Each state that doesn't mess with our security has automatically secured their security."
According to MEMRI, this is what Osama is really saying:
"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al-Qa'ida. Your security is in your own hands, and any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security."
So, Osama is not threatening the United States as a whole but only those states which will vote for Bush on November 2. According to an Islamist website Al-Qal'a, also translated by MEMRI:
"This message was a warning to every U.S. state separately. When he [Osama Bin Laden] said, 'Every state will be determining its own security, and will be responsible for its choice,' it means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy, and any state that will vote against Bush has chosen to make peace with us, and we will not characterize it as an enemy. By this characterization, Sheikh Osama wants to drive a wedge in the American body, to weaken it, and he wants to divide the American people itself between enemies of Islam and the Muslims, and those who fight for us, so that he doesn't treat all American people as if they're the same. This letter will have great implications inside the American society, part of which are connected to the American elections, and part of which are connected to what will come after the elections."
What's the saying ? "Lost in translation"? An interesting threat - an intra-state version of the ceasefire/divide-and-conquer offer/ultimatum given by Osama to Europe a few months ago - alas, it won't have any electoral impact in the US, since the public has no clue what Osama really meant.

A cave hire - $5

New robes - $100

A camcoder - $500

Having your tape played by every major network a few days before the election - better publicity than another terrorist attack somewhere in Yemen

Making sure the infidels understand what you're actually saying - priceless.

(Hat tip: Powerline)


It's been going on for quite some time... 

Finding symbolic beginnings and endings has always been something of a parlor game for historians.

Did the nineteenth century start in 1800 (or 1801, depending on how you count your centuries), or in 1789 with the challenge of the French Revolution to the established order, or perhaps in 1815 when the post-Napoleonic peace descendent upon Europe for the next 99 years?

Or how about the Cold War? I would argue that the inherent nature of the communist system meant it started on the very day the Bolsheviks overthrew the Provisional Government in the October coup. Others would argue that the turning point was the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, when the Soviet inaction had opened many a liberal eye in the West. Or maybe the Yalta conference? Or Churchill's "Iron Curtin" speech at Foulton, Missouri in 1946?

Two interesting new perspectives on the beginning of the war on terror. Writes Alastair Horne in the "Spectator":
"On the night of All Saints, 1954, a young honeymooning couple of French school teachers, dedicated to their work among underprivileged children, were dragged off a bus in the Aurès Mountains of Algeria and shot down. Their murder by the newly created FLN (National Liberation Front) marked the beginning of organised revolt against the French colonial 'occupiers'. The eight-year-long Algerian war was to bring down six French prime ministers, open the door to de Gaulle — and come close to destroying him too.

"The war was the last of the grand-style colonial struggles, but, perhaps more to the point, it was also the first campaign in which poorly equipped Muslim mujahedin licked one of the top Western armies. The echoes of la guerre d’Algérie still reverberate across the Islamic world, especially in Iraq."
Meanwhile, Amir Taheri looks at political continuity rather than tactics:
"When the Americans go to the polls on Tuesday they would do well to remember two events that have altered their lives forever. The first was the raid on the US Embassy in Tehran, and the seizure of American hostages on Nov. 4, 1979. The second was the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against New York and Washington.

"The embassy seizure showed that Americans were no longer safe outside their homeland and that even diplomatic immunity would not protect them. The 9/11 attacks showed that the Americans were no longer safe even in their own homeland, and that no amount of military clout could protect them against enemies that recognized no bounds.

"In a sense the Nov. 4, 1979 attack on the US Embassy in Tehran could be regarded as the opening scene of a long drama that reached its catharsis on Sept. 11, 2001."
For Taheri it was not so much the seizure of the embassy, but the Carter Administration's weak-kneed reaction to the incident that convinced observers from Ayatollah Khomeini down that America is the "weak horse". And we have been paying a price for that ever since. Weren't the 1970s a shocking decade geopolitically?


Good news from the Islamic world, part 2 

Osama Bin Laden says in his latest MoveOn ad that "we fought you because we are free people, we don't sleep on our oppression. We want to regain the freedom of our Muslim nation."

Yes, the Muslim people around the world like freedom - albeit most of them not Osama's type of freedom - and increasingly they're not afraid to work towards it. Here's some recent positive developments along the road to greater democracy, freedom, free market and tolerance among Muslims worldwide:

Region-wide: Writes Jackson Diehl in the
"Washington Post":

"Drowned out by the bombings in Iraq, and the debate over whether the staging of elections there is an achievable goal or a mirage, the Bush administration's democracy initiative for the rest of the Middle East creeps quietly forward. In neo-realist Washington, it is usually dismissed -- when it is remembered at all -- in much the same way that, say, national elections in Afghanistan were once laughed off... And yet, the process started at the Sea Island summit of Group of Eight countries in June is gaining some traction -- sometimes to the surprise of the administration's own skeptics."
Read this fascinating article about the growth of civil societies across the region and the increase in numbers and activity of local non-government groups working towards political and economic liberalisation of the Middle East. It seems that the common wisdom bigotry of low expectations towards the region is getting countered by numbers of individuals and groups which are answering President Bush's call for more open, free and democratic Middle East.

Meanwhile, Muslim intellectuals argue
against bigotry and for tolerance:

"Over 2,500 Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries have signed a petition to the United Nations calling for an international treaty to ban the use of religion for incitement to violence. It also calls on the Security Council to set up a tribunal to try 'the theologians of terror'...

" 'There are individuals in the Muslim world who pose as clerics and issue death sentences against those they disagree with,' says Shakir Al-Nablusi, a Jordanian academic and one of the signatories. 'These individuals give Islam a bad name and foster hatred among civilizations.'

"Nablusi said hundreds of Arab writers and academics were collecting more signatures and hope to have 'tens of thousands' by next month. Among those collecting signatures are Jawad Hashem, a former Iraqi minister of planning, and Alafif Al-Akdhar, a leading Tunisian writer and academic. Most of the signatories are from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states plus Iraq, Jordan and Palestine.

"The signatories describe those who use religion for inciting violence as 'the sheikhs of death.' Among those mentioned by name is Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian preacher working in Qatar. The signatories accuse him of 'providing a religious cover for terrorism'."
Addressing the petition to the United Nations is arguably a piece of wishful thinking, but the initiative at least embodies the right sentiment.

A mixture of good and bad - but always interesting - news in the results of this
latest opinion poll, in which the respondents were asked whether they have a positive or a negative view of the United States. The results:

Egypt: Positive: 2.8% Negative: 95.9%

Turkey: Positive: 17.5% Negative: 66%

Pakistan: Positive: 14.4% Negative: 65.1%

Iraq: Positive: 35.5% Negative: 60.5%

Saudi Arabia: Positive: 9.4% Negative: 56.5%

Bosnia: Positive: 49.2% Negative: 45.9%

Afghanistan: Positive: 65.9% Negative: 9.6%

Kosovo: Positive: 95.9% Negative: 1.8%
The implications? Aid and/or close economic and political relationship with the governing elite don't buy you love. Liberation generally does, with exception of Iraq where the initial gratitude seems to have eroded over time.

Afghanistan: For the latest good news from Afghanistan see my separate

Australia: A push for
more responsible moderate leadership of Australia's Muslim community:

"The controversial head of Australia's Muslims, Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali, is under threat from a new Islamic council that is trying to gather support for an alternative leader. The Islamic High Council of Australia was formed in southwestern Sydney this month with plans to become the leading organisation of the country's 400,000 Muslims.

"Members of the council said their goal was to appoint a mufti of their own, in a direct challenge to Sheikh Hilali, the current mufti of Australia. The council is hoping to tap into disenchantment in some Muslim communities with Sheikh Hilali over his controversial speeches, in which he reportedly attacked Jews and supported suicide bombers...

"A spokesman for the new council, Mahmoud Krayem, said yesterday that 20 Muslim organisations had joined the council from different ethnic backgrounds around the country, including Afghan, Indonesian, Pakistani and Lebanese...

"The spiritual leader of the new council, Sheikh Salim Alwan Al-Hasani, said there was a need for a moderate umbrella organisation that 'totally refuses all kinds of extremism' and rejects interference from overseas."
According to Sheikh Alwan, "In looking at the current state of the Muslim leadership in Australia, we can confidently say there is an urgent need for the unity of all the moderate sheikhs, sincere scholars and the highly qualified and educated members of the community." In a dig at the perceived influence of Saudi Wahhabi money, Sheikh added that "Darul-Fatwa Islamic High Council of Australia [as the new group is known] is not a tool serving the interests of any foreign government nor does it accept or receive funds from any overseas sources." His final words offer encouragement for all those who hope to see the Muslim community taking a strong stance against the Islamist cancer: "Darul-Fatwa totally refuses all kinds of extremism as it refuses its elements from any group or individual and declares all acts of extremism unrelated to Islam, as Islam is not related to them in spite of those who claim otherwise."

Egypt: A
new moderate party comes onto the political scene:

"A new Egyptian political party created with the rare approval of the government held its inaugural meeting and promised to push for reforms and amendments to the constitution. The Al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party received an authorisation from Egypt's political parties committee on Wednesday, only the third time the state body had granted a licence to a party in 27 years.

" 'Al-Ghad has a specific agenda for political and economic reform in Egypt. It has already drafted a new constitution based on the idea of a parliamentary republic,' party leader Ayman al-Nur said in a statement."
Critics see the Al-Ghad party as close to current political establishment and its registration as a "cosmetic move designed to please Washington." Still, if the party - whose founding members are 37 per cent women and 22 per cent Coptic Christians - is actually genuine about political and economic reform, then surely it's a welcome step.

Meanwhile, legal progress for
Egyptian women:

"Campaigners say the state's new 'family courts' should lead to a huge improvement in Egyptian women's rights. A total of 224 courts with no less than 1,200 judges are being set up across Egypt in a process launched at the start of October to streamline the legal process and allow women greater access.

"The new system, which has proved effective in many other countries around the world, should help solve some 1 million cases a year focusing mainly on divorce, alimony, child custody, and paternity. The family courts will replace the century-old institution of personal status courts and mark a significant breakthrough for Egyptian women."
Indonesia: The American-educated first democratically-elected president of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says he wants to become "a globe-trotting advocate for moderate Islam":

"I could go to other part of the world, by for example, playing a more active
role in the Middle East, by having greater communications with Islamic countries
worldwide... And of course, if everything is going well, then Indonesia can be a
good example, a good model of Islam that is compatible with democracy."
Iraq: For the latest good news from Iraq, see my separate post.

Kuwait: Good news for
media diversity:

"A Kuwaiti publisher launched the country's first privately owned television station Friday, ending decades of government monopoly of broadcast news media. AlraiTV, which broadcasts by satellite, features news, dramas and movies as well as religious programs. Its name translates as 'Opinion TV.'

" 'On this station, we are pioneers of freedom ... and openness,' Jassem Boudai, the station's main owner, said in an editorial Friday in the newspaper Al-Rai Al-Amm, which he also owns. He promised objective reporting and talk shows void of 'sensationalism'."
Private media doesn't necessarily have the best record in the region for balance and responsibility (Al Jazeera, anyone?), but Kuwaiti printed media tends to be among the Middle East's best, which will hopefully carry on into the airways.

There is also a call from the very top for
greater democratic participation:

"Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah opened the new legislative term of the emirate's outspoken parliament Tuesday by urging MPs to pass a bill granting women full political rights and approve a package of economic reforms.

" 'It has become necessary that Kuwaiti women practice their right in voting and contesting parliamentary elections,' the emir said in a speech read by Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, which is customary in Kuwait's parliament. Women's suffrage is essential for expanding the voter base and carrying out comprehensive political reforms, he said."
Much needed economic reform is also on the parliamentary agenda: "Privatization and income tax measures are among key economic bills, seen as essential for economic liberalization, that are expected to be debated by the house. A privatization bill, which has been in parliament for 12 years, is seen as the key to solving most of the ills of an economy that relies on oil for about 90 percent of public revenues."

Less guns, more butter for the 1980s' chief international renegade:

"The son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi proposed a new scheme for general reforms in which he said his country will move away from the Middle East and reduce spending on the military. 'Libya has decided to separate from the so-called Middle East,' Seif al-Islam Gaddafi said at the opening session of a Tripoli conference for business leaders from Western countries.

"Gaddafi said he is proposing a new reform plan that will include major cuts in military expenditure. 'There is no need anymore to continue spending on the military field,' he said. 'Instead, we will direct such spending to development'."
The European Union has recently ended 12 years of sanctions against Libya, and the country is expected to be taken off the US State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom is
decentralising in the run up to next year's elections:

"Moves are under way to increase the number of regions in the Kingdom from 13 to 18 and give more powers to regional governors as part of administrative reforms...

"Landmark nationwide municipal elections will be held in the Kingdom from Feb. 10 and until April 21 as part of the government's efforts to enhance participation of citizens in the decision-making process. The elections will be conducted in three phases in order to choose half the members of the 178 municipal councils."
In what could be the first for Saudi Arabia, "Prince Mansour ibn Miteb, chairman of the general election committee, does not rule out the possibility of appointing women to municipal councils, saying it will be decided by the Municipal and Rural Affairs Ministry."

Tunisia: More women enter
Tunisian parliament:

"Women have won an unprecedented share of 22.7% of the seats in the new Tunisian Chamber of Deputies. Legislative elections, which were held on October 24th with the participation of seven political parties and close to 1,000 candidates, have allowed women to win a record number of seats...

"The percentage of women in the new Tunisian legislature is the highest since the country's independence and one of the highest in the world. According to the most recent figures put out by the Inter-Parliamentary Union... the ratio of Tunisian women in Parliament is above the 15% average for women in parliaments around the world and higher than the averages in all regions of the world with the exception of the Nordic countries."
As the report reminds us, "[w]omen of Tunisia enjoy equal rights and are active in all walks of life. They constitute 27% of judges, 31% of lawyers, 40% of higher education teachers and 34.4% of the journalists."

Turkey: Turkey's
legal system is undergoing a radical overhaul - mostly for the better - as the country prepares for the eventual entry into the European Union:

"[I]n Turkey's newly established family courts... women now have equal rights in marriage and courts are obligated to put restraining orders on bullying spouses.

"Family courts are just one product of the sweeping changes that have both transformed and swamped Turkey's legal system. An avalanche of new laws, geared to bring the nation closer to European Union norms, has altered the way the state treats everything from police brutality and juvenile delinquents to commercial transactions and industrial pollution...

"Turkey abolished the death penalty and the feared state security court. It created intellectual property courts, consumer courts, juvenile courts and family courts. Treason was redefined, police powers limited, criminal penalties revised, trademark laws created and press laws revamped."
Content of the new laws is being generally welcomes, but the pace of adjustment is straining the Turkish legal infrastructure.

United Arab Emirates: UAE is experiencing considerable
economic growth: "UAE's gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 12.8 per cent last year while the oil sector reported a significant growth of 5.8 per cent, according to Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, Governor of the Central Bank." It's not just oil-based, as other sectors of the economy boom: "Suwaidi said while the industry sector grew by 11.5 per cent during 1990 - 2003, financial services and tourism sectors grew by 11.4 and 10.3 per cent respectively, during this period. In terms of contribution to the GDP, the manufacturing sector emerged the second largest contributor after the oil and gas sector."

There's also a positive
change in media policy:

"In a significant change of policy, Abu Dhabi Television, the first channel to break the news of British hostage Kenneth Bigley's beheading by Iraqi militants, on Saturday refused to show a video showing the brutal killing despite being in possession of the footage. An Abu Dhabi television official said in a statement that it was an editorial decision as the station did not want to be used by such groups to voice their views."
The United States: Washington-based American Middle Eastern National Conference (AMENC) has endorsed George Bush for President. The AMENC "is a coalition of Americans of Middle East descent who express the aspirations of various religious and ethnic backgrounds including: Arab, Maronites, Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, Persian, African, Copt, Berber, Sunni, Shiite, Orthodox, Melkite, Jews, Druze, Lebanese, Iraqi, Syrian, Egyptian, Libyan, Sudanese, Palestinian, Jordanian, Algerian, Yemeni, Arabian, Kuwaiti, Afghani, Iranian, Turk, Moroccan, Mauritanian, Ethiopian, and others." In its statement, the AMENC notes:

"We the undersigned, declare our endorsement of President George W Bush for a second term as a President of the United States. We base our endorsement on the President's support of policies we deem in line with the aspirations and agendas of the majority of Americans from Middle Eastern descent. We especially support the principles which the President has articulated in the areas of U.S. national and homeland security, the international campaign against terrorism and the promotion of human rights, democracy and self determination in the Middle East...

"We thank President Bush for declaring a campaign to spread Democracy and freedom in the Broader Middle East. We as Americans from Middle Eastern and North African descent reject the notion that our mother societies do not deserve democracy. We praise the President's agenda of supporting Human Rights, especially the rights of Women, youth and minorities in the Middle East. We feel that with President Bush's policies and principles we will be able to assist our mother civil societies in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and elsewhere to move towards Democracy."


Whatever happens tomorrow 

The presidential campaign is drawing to a close. It's been fought under the shadow of two wars: the war on terror and (depending on your point of view) its extension or distraction from in Iraq, as well as the Vietnam War, not just on account of the never-ending search for parallels and lessons, but also because of the presence in the campaign of John Kerry, a man whose political life spans those two conflicts in a very physical as well as quite metaphorical sense.

Two days before the poll, do yourself a favour and read this long post by Isntapundit about
the true legacy of Vietnam. "Vietnam wasn't a strategic and military defeat. It was a cultural, intellectual and spiritual defeat from which America has not yet recovered. Our best chance to avoid repeating that disastrous history is to really understand it, which we have yet to do," he writes. And the fact that we have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed by left-wing propaganda into believing something else means that we still fail to understand the true significance of Kerry's candidacy.

In this context I'm reminded of the post I linked to yesterday by an Australian blogger,
the Currency Lad, who wrote: "It's possible that next week the American people will ask somebody to be the last man to die for a mistake. The man will be John Forbes Kerry. The mistake was the 1960s. Not the calendar entity - the relentless Julian odometer of time - but the fraudulent hybrid of moral relativism and civilisational self-loathing ignited in that era."

Only two more sleeps, as they say, and barring protracted legal challenges we should know the choice the American people have made. This election is notoriously difficult to pick. Most assessments agree that it might be very close and victory, whichever way it goes, will be narrow. But at the same time landslides can't be ruled out either (thus
Mark Steyn predicts a strong Bush victory while Australia's premier election prognosticator Malcolm Mackerras opts for a big Kerry win), because this is one of those rare times when quite possibly the extent of either the pro or the anti-incumbent feeling in the electorate is not accurately registering in the opinion polls. This is yet another reason why the November 2 poll reminds me of the October 9 Australian election. It doesn't necessarily mean though that in the United States, too, there is greater latent support for the right-wing incumbent than it's apparent in most of the pre-election research - although I certainly hope so.

It's become a cliche to say that whoever wins on Tuesday will have a hell of a job to do for the next four years. Will Bush's victory solve all the problems? Of course not; as the President himself say, it's going to be a long, long struggle. Four more years of George W will not bring us to a satisfying conclusion any more than four more years of Truman have ended the Cold War - and in the war on terror we're more at the Truman rather than the Reagan stage (although I think this one will not go on for 45 years). By the same token, would a Kerry presidency be an unmitigated disaster? Anything's possible - half a dozen American cities nuked, for example, or a multilateral "solution" that transforms a foreign conflict into regional conflagration - but it's unlikely. The corrective mechanisms of American politics make it very difficult for any one resident of the White House to stuff everything up completely. Setbacks yes - just think the Carter presidency - but followed by a renewed resolve; a sort of one step back, two steps forwards dance of American history.

Whatever the outcome on November 2, there will be a lot of teeth gnashing for months afterwards, from one camp or the other. The politically conscious strata of the American population is too polarised to allow the country to simply "move on" after the election. But although many dreams might end tomorrow, the history will not. Victorious or otherwise, we'll have to keep in mind that we're but little links in a long, long chain of struggle between freedom and tyranny, stretching from the antiquity to, hopefully (barring the Second Coming, nuclear war or a stray asteroid), well into the future. As such, it is our obligation to face the future battles with the greatest determination we can muster and despite any - momentary - obstacles that might fall our way.


Sunday, October 31, 2004

NYT: Bush is losing because he's not trouncing Kerry 

Why should I comment about the "New York Times" election coverage? Why, indeed. But this is just so patronising. If this story was spinning any harder it would generate its own electricity:
"There is a good deal of nail biting going on at the mostly picture-perfect campaign rallies held for President Bush.

"Terry Buck, a first-grade teacher from Cleveland, feels the nervousness. So does Jim Nichols, a municipal purchasing officer from Saginaw, Mich. Both turned up this week at big events for the president near their homes. While they cheered endlessly, they also fretted some.

"Ms. Buck and Mr. Nichols say the election is much too close. Mr. Bush should be trouncing Senator John Kerry. Something is not quite right, and like many of their fellow Republicans, they share the belief that the news media has played a role by skewing coverage in Mr. Kerry's favor.

"For unsettled Republican voters in battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Hampshire, the last leg of the presidential contest has at times been more of a group therapy session than a victory march.

"In turning out by the thousands at airports, in stadiums, on farms and along roadsides - some waiting four or five hours for a chance to spend 40 minutes listening to the president - many Republican loyalists are seeking the strength and comfort that large numbers often bring."
Nail-baiting? Unsettled? Therapy session? Strength and comfort that large numbers bring?

This, from a newspaper, where the only coverage of John Kerry's "Wake Up, America!" is this sanitised line: "The candidates had begun their day by starting to make their closing arguments to the voters with Mr. Kerry urging 'a fresh start' on national security and domestic policy."

In case you've only been reading the "NYT" lately, at a rally in Florida Kerry was imploring the electorate: "Wake up America, wake up. ... You have a choice." If you have to grab the American people by the shoulders and shake them as an argumentative tactic, in my dictionary that's a definition of a campaign that's... what's the word?... unsettled. And biting its nails. And in need of a therapy.

But then again, I'm not the "NYT."

Update: How's this for a group therapy session:
"The US Democrats have unleashed their girl power to battleground Florida, deploying the daughters of presidential hopeful John Kerry and those of former presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Also in the charm brigade were the daughters of Senator Kerry's running mate John Edwards and of former vice-president Al Gore, who opposed Bush in the 2000 election, as well as veteran pop singer Carol King...

"The crowed responded by chanting 'JFK' - the initials of [Caroline Kennedy's] father and of John Forbes Kerry...

"References to Mr Bush were greeted with chants of 'liar, liar', while references to the controversial 2000 election elicited boos from the crowd.

" 'We know we really won,' said Karenna Gore, echoing the belief of many Democrats that Mr Bush stole the election amid counting chaos in Florida.

" 'They won't steal it again,' she said at the outdoor rally, which concluded with King leading the crowd in singing her famed 'You've got a friend'."
Mind boggles.


Around the world in 43 blogs 

Hey, blogosphere, wassup this week? (and, as always, if you have a good post for next week, let me know.)

In Australia, Tim Blair - "Did you know that the mainstream media is being criticised? By people using the 'global Interwebnet' technology? It's true!"

Vox Felisi on the Polish colors that don't run in Iraq.

The Currency Lad: "It's possible that next week the American people will ask somebody to be the last man to die for a mistake. The man will be John Forbes Kerry. The mistake was the 1960s. Not the calendar entity - the relentless Julian odometer of time - but the fraudulent hybrid of moral relativism and civilisational self-loathing ignited in that era."

The House of Wheels demonstrates once again he's got far too much time on his hands with all-links-included list of John Kerry's 112 flip-flops.

Fabian's Hammer compares two insurrectionists, Michael Collins and Yasser Arafat. Yasser doesn't come off the best.

John Ray at A Western Heart blogs about the impact of Australia's gun laws (which should be of interest to all the readers who recently wrote to me along the lines: "Australia's a great country, but if only you guys liberalised your gun laws." Well, ain't gonna happen).

In the United States, Powerline: "Kerry is riding a really slow horse."

Lots of good stuff at the Belgravia Dispatch: the Osama tape; NYT and al Qaqaa; Arafat on deathbed.

Belmont Club comments on Osama's surrender proposal. Bill Roggio blogs on Osama and the logic of the left. And Peaktalk sees Osama refocusing his energies on a certain target.

Roger Simon makes a prediction.

A Small Victory on the worst case of the left's hypocrisy.

Blackfive speculates on John Kerry's navy discharge. Captain Ed has more.

Dean Esmay has random election thoughts.

INDC Journal notes lot more strange Russian activity in Iraq. So does Michelle Malkin.

Pejman asks why the Dems and MoveOn are airing campaign ads in the bluest of the blue Chicago?

The Polish Immigrant
doesn't like Carter, but he likes even less Carter's National Security Advisor and a fellow Pole, Zbigniew Brzezinski. I have to agree that my former sympathy is also evaporating fast.

Silent Running endorses George Bush for the lack of General Patton or Ghenghis Khan.

The Moderate Voice has a huge round-up of reactions to the new Osama tape.

MuD & PHuD continues his series of evolution vs creationism.

Marty Dee has a million and a trillion dollar question about Kerry.

Tex the Pontifcator has another variant on that old, controversial photo from Iraq.

Brainshavings blogs on why libertarians must vote for Bush.

Blog wars give Libercontrarian the opportunity to say everything he always wanted to say to the Democrats, his family's old party.

Verifrank is furious that the mainstream media runs around chasing 380 tons of explosives while almost totally ignoring Saddam's bloodthirstiness. Eric Cowperthwaite who was on the ground in Iraq in 1991 agrees.

Desertlight Journal aims with its coverage and media work to correct the media on myths and factoids it recycles about domestic violence.

MoJo at Carrots and Stick notes the latest weapons in the liberal arsenal: eggs, spitballs, and pies. In a similar vein, but on an ongoing basis, new blog When Liberals Attack chronicles the rash of overtly anti-Republican assaults, vandalism and burglaries that are occurring throughout the United States. What's that you say about a climate of fear?

Happy Halloween: Faust at the Bad Hair Blog notes that John Kerry is after new constituency - the ghouls.

In Europe, Tim Worstall says, "the European Union must be destroyed" - in Latin.

Transatlantic Intelligencer
writes on how German public TV creates moral equivalence between the US and its enemies.

In Asia, Simon World - more "Asia by blog."

In the Middle East, Iraq the Model note a formation of a new Iraqi party.

Grayhawk at Mudville Gazette sees bad moon rising over Baghdad.

In Africa, Ethiopundit observes the competition between America's Boeing and Europe's Airbus and muses "ain't capitalism grand?"

Africa regional briefing at Winds of Change.

Please also welcome a new kids on the blog: Granny Get Your Gun (musing of USA granny Pajamahadeen from Cow Girl Country, United States: "Older than dirt, some say eccentric, some say obstinate, very interested in the future of Iraq, politics").

And, as always, don't forget Homespun Bloggers.


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