Wednesday, September 28, 2005

the $100 laptop

this is a great idea in the interest of bettering our world. here is the actual site. check out the cool illustrations.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

Icing on the cake

or in Japan I guess it would be a sweet bean roll. The LDP victory has influenced the DPJ party in ways positive for the U.S.:

"For much of the past two years, Koizumi's DPJ critics have squealed about Iraq and questioned his buddy-buddy rapport with President Bush. In its recent election manifesto, the DPJ pledged to withdraw Japanese troops from Iraq by Christmas. Meanwhile, party leader Katsuya Okada signaled his opposition to America's Futenma Air Base being stationed in Okinawa.

Immediately after the Koizumi landslide, Okada resigned as DPJ boss. His replacement, Seiji Maehara, 43, is a well-known security expert and longtime favorite of U.S. Japan hands such as Richard Armitage. The new DPJ chief favors a more robust Japanese military posture overseas. To that end, he has repeatedly suggested tinkering with Article 9 of the constitution--which renounces war--to afford Japan the right of collective self-defense. Tsuneo Watanabe, an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, reports from Tokyo that Maehara is 'a very strong supporter of the U.S.-Japan alliance.'"

Stay on target!

This was the feel good piece (for me, anyway) that I read yesterday. During a time when conservatives are getting antsy about spending money in the wake of Katrina - this piece is a refreshing glass of cold water thrown in the face, a few slaps and a "pull yourself together man!"

I also like the Redstate article Thomas Lifson linked to, which is a spirited defense of deficit spending. Borrowing and spending until the sun burns out may be overstating the case, but he provides plenty of food for thought. Personally, I never understood the argument that China has us at a disadvantage because they're loaning us money. It sounds like a win-win to me. They get a better return, we get to use the money. And if that money goes to fight the good fight, well, at least the Chinese are being supportive in some sense. Perhaps someday the national debt will become unmanageable - but Nick Danger doesn't think it will happen.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Huffington Toast has the skinny on Bush's bathroom note

E.U. buckles?

The next round of last chances won’t begin anytime soon. The E.U. sees staunch Chinese opposition that won’t be swayed, but believes that Russia, who currently is against referring the issue to the Security Council, might climb aboard soon. If that was the gist of it, that would be one thing, but what has the E.U. done to indicate they have any desire to take this issue to the next level? Here’s a telling statement:

"In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the U.S. and European initiative to refer Tehran to the Security Council as counterproductive, saying it 'will not contribute to the search for a solution to the Iranian problem through political and diplomatic means.'"

In other words – the search for the solution hasn’t even begun - merely the search for the search of a solution (I may have skipped a few ‘searches’).

Not that the 6 party talks are progressing any better. I was skeptical about the recent statement about a deal with N. Korea, but held out some hope that it might produce something. However, when Fred Kaplan thought it was good, I knew it was completely hopeless. Sure enough, within 24 hours, N. Korea went into schizo girlfriend mode, making ridiculous demands and unhelpful accusations. And what’s with Ted Turner’s looniness?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

If I had any say at the NYTimes

I know the first job I would cut. In fact, I would suggest that the paper get rid of the entire fiction division. I’d also push to have the paper change to a quilted two-ply. This wouldn’t reduce the operating costs, but it would reduce irritation to my rectum.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Redstate ponders the circumstances around the British jail break

Kidnapped, beaten, drugged and coerced

those aren't the claims of a contract worker helping to rebuild Iraq, but that of a suicide bomber. And based on this Fox report, similar claims are becoming more frequent. What's Zaqawi's dwindling supply of virgins looking like these days? Or has he switched to a barrel of monkeys?

No doubt Jay will want to go to the barricades over this

via Roger Simon.

ugly from every which way you look at it

Army storms jail to free seized soldiers

Monday, September 19, 2005

Another ex-CEO goes to the slammer

Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski faces 8 1/2 to 25 years.

Message: I Care About the Black Folks

this is one of the best ones i've read. i like the last paragraph:

"What comes next? Having turned the page on Mr. Bush, the country hungers for a vision that is something other than either liberal boilerplate or Rovian stagecraft. At this point, merely plain old competence, integrity and heart might do."

Reuters Explains Photo Of Bush Bathroom Note

interesting background of the highly circulated bush bathroom note.

The score might have to be ammended

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pejman ponders Biden's recent opinion piece

here's Biden's piece.

Scorecard: Bush 7, Axis of Weasels 1

via Instapundit.

And lest we forget the democracy that's still chugging in Afghanistan. Check out the Afghan ladies exercising their voting rights.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Another big election this weekend...

This time in Germany. I'm rooting for Angie Merkel, though I can't say I've been following this one very closely. Schroeder has narrowed the gap in the past couple of weeks, but it's not looking like it'll be enough.

UPDATE: And it wasn't.

Department of Homeland What?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hurricane expert Bacharach criticizes Bush

One [more] last chance

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei called yesterday for Iran to be given a final chance to address IAEA concerns.

"Everything points in the direction of a need for more time. So it would be in everybody's favor to give it some three or four weeks," a senior diplomat close to the IAEA told Reuters news agency on the condition of anonymity.

If Iran fails to take advantage of this last chance, then, presumably the issue will go to the National Security council where several dozen more last chances will be issued.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

It must be the mercury tainted salmon.

Tom Plate on Koizumi

Here’s a hit and miss piece about Japan’s remarkable prime minister. I believe that some of Koizumi’s support in the election came from his foreign policy stance, though as Plate says, it was not the center of debate. I don’t believe this article credits Koizumi for what he’s done in that arena.

"But now, like Bill Clinton in his second term, Koizumi needs to turn to foreign affairs and work some magic there. At least he needs to make a better effort.

"Getting along with one's neighbors is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Without seeming to kowtow to China, this brilliant politician must work more closely with China on key bilateral and regional issues, including North Korea and Taiwan."

I suppose Plate doesn’t consider Taiwan a neighbor. Through Koizumi, Japan has taken unprecedented steps to tighten ties with this democratic island. He’s also done so with the democratic Australia. See a pattern? That’s not to say that he’s ignored China. Economic ties are increasing each year. But part of having a good relationship requires some movement from the other side.

"China is not always right in its disagreements with Japan, nor is South Korea. "

Try hardly ever. Even S. Korea has been acting immature when it comes to hot button issues with Japan.

"Getting along with one's neighbors is not a sign of weakness but of strength."

Knowing when someone is trying to use and abuse you is also important – as is standing your ground. Biting your lower lip, Clinton style, does not work on the People’s Party, which is why Clinton’s dealing with the Chinese counts as one of the lower points of his foreign policy.

"While Koizumi has demonstrated that he is a masterful domestic politician, history's judgment is still to be rendered on his performance as a world statesman."

The dye has already been cast and Koizumi will no doubt be seen positively as a major foreign policy leader. Mr. Plate should see that.

Krugman's column will no longer be free online

However, the Krugman Truth Squad will still be available.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Whale curry served at lunch in Japanese junior high - for the first time in 38 years

Curious. Lady T____ used to eat whale meat quite often when she was in school in Tokyo – though I’m not sure what kind it was. During my last trip there I had the chance to eat whale sashimi. It has little taste but was rich, if that makes any sense. I found out that it was best eaten raw (as with seafood in general). I’m not the only one who thinks this way. As Stubb instructed the Pequod’s cook, Fleece, in Moby Dick after the latter served him a whale steak:

“Well then, cook; you see this whale-steak of yours was so very bad, that I have put it out of sight as soon as possible; you see that, don't you? Well, for the future, when you cook another whale- steak for my private table here, the capstan, I'll tell you what to do so as not to spoil it by overdoing. Hold the steak in one hand, and show a live coal to it with the other; that done, dish it; d'ye hear?”

He went on to order more delicacies:

“And now to-morrow, cook, when we are cutting in the fish, be sure you stand by to get the tips of his fins; have them put in pickle. As for the ends of the flukes, have them soused, cook. There, now ye may go."

But Fleece had hardly got three paces off, when he was recalled.

"Cook, give me cutlets for supper to- morrow night in the mid-watch. D'ye hear? away you sail, then. - Halloa! stop! make a bow before you go. - Avast heaving again! Whale-balls for breakfast - don't forget."

Whale balls, eh? I wonder what they would call those at Cattleman's....Leviathan fries.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Massive 9/11 roundup on Winds of Change

via Instapundit. Hugh Hewitt had a good memorial post, which started by featuring heroes from the war.

Japanese Election update: Big Win for Koizumi and LDP

Koizumi’s LDP gets an outright majority in the Lower House. The party needed 269 and it looks like it got 296 – better than expected. It’s the first time the LDP has had a outright majority in 15 years. The party will try to urge Koizumi to stay in office for a year after his planned resignation in September of ’06, though he says he won’t.

Katsuya Okada, the head of the LDP’s main opposition party, the DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan), will step down from his position after failing to win a majority. Incidentally, Okada had vowed to bring troops home from Iraq if his party gained a majority.

About half of the LDP dissidents look like they'll survive.

The Nikkei site has some different numbers than Kyodo, but those numbers are displayed in a nice table showing the primary coalitions. What's a little odd is that in a country where you'd be hard pressed to find many people who would profess an interest in politics, the voter turnout is expected to have been up around 67%.

UPDATE: The blogosphere slowly awakes. Roger Simon, who return from Japan last week (and had some good photos here and elsewhere) says that Koizumi looked like a winner last week.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A couple of remarks

When I switched templates, I wasn't thinking and all the comments disappeared. I apologize for this error.

Also, I've had little inclination to post on Katrina. Nothing I would have to say hasn't already been said by others at least a dozen times. After tempers wind down and the rescue efforts fade away, I might change my mind and post on it. Of course, that shouldn't stop anyone else from doing so.

Things are getting cooler in Bagdhad according to this fellow.

Even though people continue to get killed, the numbers have fallen off
noticeably. The number of car-bomb explosions has dropped very sharply in the
past 30 days or so. The factors responsible for this good news are something of
a mystery. The passage of a Constitution gets some of the credit. If that is
true, then the details of how it came about are so arcane as to be

Something else that gets credit is the Iraqi Army. There truly are signs
that this army is starting to have some impact on events here. The terrorists
can't simply walk up to a checkpoint, kill everyone in sight, and not take a
very strong risk that they might all be killed in return.

What continues to be whispered, and what I have reported here once or
twice, is the claim that the Iraqi Army is killing hundreds of the terrorists
whom they do arrest. No trials. No niceties. Just a quick shot in the head. I
can neither confirm nor refute this persistent report. But, I hear it so often
that I do tend to believe something along those lines is happening. The victims
of the Army killings (if they are happening) are the former Saddam loyalists who
form the core of the terrorist groups.

It's noteworthy that absolutely no one is bothered by this evidence of an
army that is perhaps running amok.

He seems to have a little different take than he did last month.

Cross your fingers!

In addition to being a day of remembrance, this Sunday is also notable because of the elections in Japan. I know what you’re thinking…since George Bush has taken office, it seems that you can’t sling a dead cat without hitting a significant election, some in places where such events are a true precedent. Of course, Japan has had free and fair elections for many decades – as it is a shining example of U.S. nation building. This particular election is significant for two main reasons. The election, itself, is billed primarily as a referendum on Koizumi’s reform agenda – and specifically his privatization plan for the Japanese postal system. It is also important to the U.S. because Koizumi's fate is tied directly to the election and he has been a strong ally in Iraq as well as with our defense posture in Asia.

On the domestic front, Koizumi has done much to push tough reforms through that have added to the long-term economic health of Japan. The more radical parties would say that he hasn’t gone far enough and that as an LDP member he's still subject to special interests, etc. However, considering the resistance to reform that Koizumi faced when coming into power, his performance has been impressive – most visibly with Japan’s banking system. Indeed, he’s met resistance every step of the way. Now he’s pushing his postal reform bill, which has been a keystone of his reform agenda. This bill seeks to privatize – more or less – an institution that is, in addition to a postal service, the largest financial institution in the world as well as an insurance company. The effects of his proposed reform, so far as I understand it, will reap little short-term benefits but will lay groundwork for future growth. When the lower house of the diet defeated the bill with the aid of 30+ LDP defectors, Koizumi quickly dissolved the parliament and set the upcoming elections. At that time it looked like he had a steep uphill battle, with victory unlikely. If he loses, he will have to resign and his reform agenda will be severely crippled, if not completely abandoned. If he wins, he will remain until the end of his term in 2006 and should be able to push the postal reform through. The boldness he displayed is rare in Japanese politics and has created a level political excitement in a country that is not very politically exciting.

On a party level, the LDP is something else. It’s managed to be the dominant party for over half a century. And it hasn’t done so in the same ways that Mubarak in Egypt has done or the People’s Party in China has done. Opposition parties have been free to campaign and try to win the people’s support. The past decade has seen some erosion of LDP support, but thanks largely to Koizumi, they are expecting a reversal in this trend. And this support seems to be coming from younger people and coming in urban areas – again, showing a reversal to recent trends.

From an American perspective – long term Japanese growth is certainly important for a variety of reasons. A prosperous Japan is good for trade, but it’s also good for a healthy diplomatic landscape in Asia. As mentioned before, it’s important for us that Japan emerge from its pacifist period and become an increasing participant in the War on Terror.

While foreign policy doesn’t seem to be a main deciding factor in the upcoming election (except, perhaps, in regards to the issue of kidnapped Japanese in N. Korea), foreign policy will be affected. Koizumi has led the way in an important transition. He’s sent troops to Iraq – to his own political detriment, he’s reinterpreted the idea of Japan’s national defense and solidified support for the defense of Taiwan, he’s also strengthened ties with Australia, and he has had our back with the 6 party talks. These stances would each suffer a blow if Koizumi finds himself on the way out next week. Inevitably, Japan’s prosperity and survival will rely on these shifts. A Koizumi defeat will make the transition that much more difficult and painful.

For an American, regardless of whether you think Bush is a unilateral knucklehead or a spreader of freedom, you would be hard pressed to justify rooting against Koizumi – unless you are also rooting for a U.S. defeat in Iraq and elsewhere. After all, isn’t it the tagline of Bush haters that we don’t have enough allies? And isn’t Japan one of our main allies? Likewise, our N. Korean strategy (and yes, there is one) would also be compromised and our leverage in dealing with China weakened without a fast friend like Koizumi. In short, no good can come of a Koizumi defeat.

The U.S. has been lucky thus far. The political leaders that make up the Coalition of the Willing have fared well in elections. While we lost Aznar in Spain, Blair and Howard both won. It seems likely that Schroeder will be out and Chirac seems to be weakening (granted, not because of Iraq so much as the domestic issues). A Koizumi victory would continue that trend. The world needs more courageous political leaders like him. Cross your fingers!