Saturday, February 26, 2005

Thought Bush Had A Successful Tour of Europe? Think Again.

NRO's Denis Boyle has a long history of calling like he sees it, damn anyone who objects. This week he examines what you did not see, when the cameras were off as Bush traveled through Europe. The whole article is here for free, but here is Mr. Boyle's take on the meeting with Russia's Putin:

The only way for Bush to salvage the whole adventure was to go to Slovakia, where, before generally happy crowds, he blindsided Russia's Putin, who thought he was showing up to talk about terrorism, but ended up getting a justifiable upbraiding about his country's threatened relapse into totalitarianism. The big take-away: Putin agreed that Iran and North Korea shouldn't have nukes, something he agreed to long ago, but never mind. Russia wasn't about to stop trading with Iran any more than (as Ian Black in the Guardian reports) the EU is going to reconsider its plan to sell weapons to the Chinese — who, of course, sell weapons to Iran, too. As this piece (.pdf alert!) in Parliament Magazine by MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit shows, nothing Bush could have said or done would have made a bit of difference, so he might as well have done some of his famous straight-talking.

Sleep tight America.

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SoCalPundit DOES NOT Endorse James Hahn For Los Angeles Mayor

All the candidates with a chance at winning, are DEMOCREEPS. With the state of the Dems today, no one left of Zell Miller will get my support. But James Hahn is "special" even by Democratic standards. With allegations of charging his personal international travels to the tax payer, SoCalPundit learned recently of several probes into Hahn's supporters and employees that are very alarming.

County prosecutors have been probing allegations that Hahn supporters shook down firms which wanted to do business with the city by tying public contracts to political contributions. Federal prosecutors have opened their own inquiry.

Although Hahn has not been implicated and denies knowledge of any potential wrongdoing, the investigations touch whole segments of city government - from members of Hahn's inner circle to Los Angeles International Airport and the water and power department. With prosecutors issuing subpoenas for Hahn's office e-mails and summoning some of his aides before grand juries, the investigations are proving popular with his challengers.

This guy is dirty, we just don't how dirty, yet.

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For Those of Us That Were Democrats Before 9/11

I found this little commentary in (of all places) The San Francisco Gate. Many of my readers were where Cinnamon Stillwell and I were before the attacks of September 11th. She begins with her pedigree:

As one of a handful of Bay Area conservative columnists, I'm no stranger to pushing buttons. Indeed, I welcome feedback from readers, whether positive or negative. I find the interplay stimulating, but I am often bemused by the stereotypical assumptions made by my critics on the left. It's not enough to simply disagree with my views; I have to be twisted into a conservative caricature that apparently makes opponents feel superior. They seem not to have considered that it's possible to put forward different approaches to various societal problems and not be the devil incarnate.

But in some ways I understand where this perspective comes from, because I once shared it. I was raised in liberal Marin County, and my first name (which garners more comments than anything else) is a direct product of the hippie generation. Growing up, I bought into the prevailing liberal wisdom of my surroundings because I didn't know anything else. I wrote off all Republicans as ignorant, intolerant yahoos. It didn't matter that I knew none personally; it was simply de rigueur to look down on such people. The fact that I was being a bigot never occurred to me, because I was certain that I inhabited the moral high ground.

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Why Not Here? Indeed!

It is rare that you will find be heralding a New York Times Commentary. I am not really sure of the particular political leanings of the author, David Brooks, but I surely agree with Mr. Brooks as he ponders the question being asked in nations around the world. Why not Democratic reform here? The question has been asked in Georgia and Ukraine (both former Soviet Block countries) as well as in the Palestinian Territories and now even Egypt. Mr. Brooks breaks down the recent changes in Lebanon:

The question is being asked now in Lebanon. Walid Jumblatt made his much circulated observation to David Ignatius of The Washington Post: "It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world."

So now we have mass demonstrations on the streets of Beirut. A tent city is rising up near the crater where Rafik Hariri was killed, and the inhabitants are refusing to leave until Syria withdraws. The crowds grow in the evenings; bathroom facilities are provided by a nearby Dunkin' Donuts and a Virgin Megastore.

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While Russia Curtails Democracy, Egypt Expands It

I was extremely pleased to see this Associated Press headline this morning; Mubarak Orders Egypt Election Law Changes. Believe it or not, previous to this announcement, only one candidate could run for President (Egypt's highest controlling political position, unlike Iraq where such position will be mainly ceremonial) in each election. Obviously that is not very Democratic.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered a revision of the country's election laws Saturday and said multiple candidates could run in the nation's presidential elections, a scenario Mubarak has not faced since taking power in 1981.

Opposition figures and reform advocates welcomed Mubarak's announcement, but some feared it may only be a superficial change to appease pressure at home and abroad. The step came as a dispute sharpened with the United States over Egypt's arrest of one of the strongest proponents of multi-candidate elections.

So we will have to wait and see if this is anything more than political lip-service in answer to criticism of the recent arrest of an advocate for multi-candidate elections.

UPDATE: We found out what might be modivating this sudden reach towards more Democracy.

A senior U.S. official, citing Rice's displeasure with the arrest and other internal actions taken by the Egyptian government, said change was needed and she wanted to see what steps were taken before going to Cairo. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The decision not to go apparently caught Egypt off-guard. The country's major pro-government newspaper, Al-Ahram, reported Friday that Rice would be in Egypt next Saturday.

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