1.26.2005

Bad losers

I should have been blogging vote fraud much earlier! It's something that I sometimes forget about, because it's no longer new to me. When I was working on the Bush campaign, we had people coming to the office many times to tell us their stories of fraud from the 2000 election. One woman, who had been an election official for many years, quit because of the levels of corruption. I also helped to coordinate some of our poll watchers on election day, and all of them reported at least some instance of questionable conduct by officials - and some of them reported more than one.

Anyway, the Badger Blog Alliance has been doing a great job tracking vote fraud across the state. Wisconsin really isn't as blue as it may seem, even in the big cities.

1.23.2005

More Union-blogging

Although I often enjoy the more Teutonic Rathskeller, the Lakefront Cafe is also a great place. The only problem with blogging in public is the danger of reading something brilliantly funny, and cackling to oneself in public: case in point.

Also, I am reading William Appleman Williams' The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. It goes very well with the Manic Street Preachers playlist I'm listening to. I'll be blogging it as I finish each chapter.

Preaching - good news

Al-Muhajabah posts some good news from Saudi Arabia's clerics:

The country's top cleric told 2 million hajj pilgrims Wednesday that some of Islam's own sons had been "lured by the devil" to conduct violent attacks on the kingdom and charged that non-Muslims were conspiring against people of the faith. Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al Sheik, speaking at a mosque near Mt. Arafat, lamented the violence waged by Muslim militants against Saudi Arabia.

"The greatest affliction to strike the nation of Islam came from some of its own sons, who were lured by the devil," the cleric said. "They have called the nation infidel, they have shed protected blood and they have spread vice on Earth, with explosions and destruction and killing of innocents."


Unfortunately, he only calls for the terrorists to stop attacking other Muslims - he doesn't say anything about Americans or Jews. But there is more, and it is more hopeful:

Sheikh al-Sudeis said militancy was not a valid interpretation of Islam. "Because Muslims have strayed from moderation, we are now suffering from this dangerous phenomenon of branding people infidels and inciting Muslims to rise against their leaders to cause instability," he said.

"The reason for this is a delinquent and void interpretation of Islam based on ignorance ... faith does not mean killing Muslims or non-Muslims who live among us, [emphasis added] it does not mean shedding blood, terrorising or sending body parts flying."


1.21.2005

The war between the roommates

Metafilter links to a set of pictures from the inauguration protests yesterday. Depending on where you stand on President Bush, you'll either like them or thing they show a bunch of jerks. This one is my favorite. A few years ago I took a Military Science course - Introduction to Tactics. For some reason, the instructor gave each of us an MRE, and I took it home and rether eagerly ate it. It wasn't bad, actually! The hot dogs were hot, the chocolate (M&Ms) were delicious, and most of the rest of it was ok. Of course, I might get tired of it after a long time, but it seems that they've come a long way since the little tins of World War II.

Also, my rommate returns from these protests tonight or tomorrow. Should be interesting.

Good and Bad

The UW must have turned it's wireless network off over break, because I couldn't get on until yesterday. But now I can tap into it, so I don't have to buy overpriced coffee at Steep N Brew any more - I can just crash at the Union. For my money (or not money, but whatever), there is no cooler place on campus than the Rathskeller - I love the old German beerhall look! The best place is one of the two large tables, each next to a fireplace.

The other nice thing about the Union's WiFi is that you can see other people's music playlists. I'm listening to someone else's collection of Air right now.

1.20.2005

Why the Dems won't be winning for a while

A friend of mine, who worked on the Kerry campaign while I worked on Bush's, has the following tidbit in his AIM profile:

"This is why Americans are stupid" and links to a study showing that many Americans do not believe in evolution.

As long as the Dems continue to tell large portions of the electorate that they're dumb, the Dems will continue losing elections.
Good professor

Sitting in class today (Poli Sci 103, which I realized just now I don't have to take so I'm trying to switch it to something else) with a bunch of freshmen, the professor asks, "How many of you are absolutists?" I raise my hand, and then a few other hands timidly go up. There aren't more than 5 or 6 of us. "Okay, how many of you are relativists?" Many hands, of course - it's Madison, after all. It wouldn't do to judge other cultures, you know!

Then he asks if murder is acceptable - say army x is from a country which believes that human sacrifices are necessary to please the gods. Army x has captured some soldiers from army y, and pop them up on the alter and lop off their their heads. Is that acceptable? "No, no, of course not!" comes the general reply. Killing is bad! Then one brave soul raises her hand:

"If they were killing their own people, it would be okay..."

Update: ...which reminds me of this post from Chrenkoff:

"Mr Hollenshead said he was not a traditional activist, but he decided to take part in the protest because 'I'm against everything that Bush is for and I'm for everything that he's against'."
President Bush is against cutting off children's ears with chainsaws. He's also not a great fan of peeing in your soup. Oh, and he is not in favor of executing Mr Hollenshead. Over to you, Mr Hollenshead.


1.17.2005

An anime foreign policy

Trigun, specifically: the story of Vash the Stampede, pacifist gunman extraordinaire. The hero who always manages to shoot the gun out of his enemy's hand without killing anyone. So why is a pacifist my example of a foreign policy leader? Because in the end, he realizes it doesn't work. He can only get by on shooting the guns out of people's hands for so long. There are signs as the show progresses. Midway through, he saves a town, but then re-arms it, so the people can defend themselves. Maybe he thinks that the mere posession of weapons will deter would-be enemies, but he knows that people must be able to defend themselves.

Later, he refuses to shoot, and is only saved when his partner kills the bad guy. Vash is crushed, but he begins to see that someone had to die, only because the bad guys were set on it. They wouldn't accept "no" for an answer.

Finally, Vash himself is forced to kill to save his friends. His enemies think that the experiencec of killing will destroy Vash. It nearly does. But after the pain subsides, Vash is able to move forward with a greater determination, and a greater strength.

Trigun is thus a parable of America's dealing with terrorism. Under Clinton, we tried the trick shots - negotiating with Arafat, a few token missiles launched at an al-Qaeda training camp. But we didn't engage. And so our enemies rammed airplanes into our buildings, and killed our people. They'd been doing that, of course, but we weren't psychologically able to fight back. After the weeping of September 11, many of us grew strong. We realized that trick shots are nice, that the promises of a liar still sound nice. But we also realized that sometimes, promises aren't enough. The bad guys are out there. They won't take "no" for an answer - they have no interest in negotiating, and they don't hesitate to kill. But the difference is, we're fighting back now, and we're re-arming the townspeople who couldn't defend themselves before. The liberals can keep trying for trick shots, but now people realize that a trick shot isn't the same as fighting back.

1.13.2005

"Liberal" business growth

A survey in the Wisconsin State Journal says that while Madison business owners think the city is a good place to do business, they don't feel the city is promoting "a positive business environment". One of the city's alders responds:

"I just wish we could get more concrete about what the problem is. ... I'm very interested in helping small, locally owned businesses thrive. I just can't get a handle on what we can do. I'm frustrated."

Maybe it has to do with the city idiotically raises the minimum wage despite business protests. Instead of helping business keep costs down, the city worked against businesses to further its socialist agenda. Now it doesn't have the courage to stand up for what it's done.

Relatedly, the city only has 6 alchohol licenses to give out this year. This will be bad news as the city expands, but don't count on the state to do much about it.

1.12.2005

It was a good try

Rumors that Kid Rock was set to perform at the inauguration have turned out to be wrong after all. Although I never thought I'd see the day I was disappointed that Kid Rock wasn't performing somewhere, the symbolism is important. Just as some predicted that Kerry would have been a weak president, with little base left by the time he was sworn in, so has President Bush's victory created a power shift in the Republican Party. As wrong as the "moral values voters are all right-wing Christians" meme is, it continues its hold in both camps. Those on the left, of course, love it because it lets them continue thinking that Bush and his supporters are all insane bigots.

But because the (liberal) media didn't put the meme to rest, it also gives the right wing, conservative Christian side of the GOP a strong voice inside the party. Kid Rock performing would have given some sign that the libertarian wing of the GOP was alive and well.

Update: More bad news - they're keeping Hilary Duff and JoJo...

Update 2: More moral outrage!
Score one more for the non-environmentalists

NASA Watch linked yesterday to an article about exposure to perchlorate, which in large enough doses can affect the thyroid adversely:

A new report by the National Academies' National Research Council on the health effects of perchlorate, a chemical that in high doses can decrease thyroid function in humans and that is present in many public drinking-water supplies, says daily ingestion of up to 0.0007 milligrams per kilogram of body weight can occur without adversely affecting the health of even the most sensitive populations. That amount is more than 20 times the "reference dose" proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a recent draft risk assessment.

As with most environmental issues, when the hard science comes out, things are generally better off than the chicken-littles would like. I guess it's just a good thing that the same left which derides religion as superstition doesn't cling to its delusions in the face of hard evidence... oh, wait. Nevermind.

1.11.2005

Good from bad

Moxie has a great post about the recent tsunami and some people's hesitancy to support countries whose populations tend to support Usama bin Laden. Even though it should be obvious, she points out that not all Muslims support UBL, and that the right thing to do is to help out as much as we can. Relatedly, Abu Aardvark continues a series of posts on Muslim reactions to this disaster:

The brilliant Lebanse liberal Hazem Saghiye writes in today's al-Hayat that the weak Arab response - both in feeling and in financial terms - to the tsunami has raised painful questions about the Arab world for Arabs and non-Arabs. He points out the irony of Arabs demanding that the world pay attention to their issues, while remaining completely uninterested in the issues of others. He attributes this to the unfortunate rise of a politics of identity and authenticity in Arab political culture. He dismisses stupid attempts to politicize or religion-ize the natural disaster, dismisses conspiracy theories about American-Israeli nuclear experiments. The weak Arab response to the tsunami, he muses, reflects a damning parochialism, which has left Arabs isolated from the broader trends in the world. Along the lines I've been noting the last few days, Saghiye writes that it is time to link up this problem with the more general challenge of reform.

So it seems like change - or at least the possibility for change - is spreading across the Muslim world. Afganistan, Palestine, Iraq, and now SE Asia.


Why it's good to pay attention

I didn't recognize the number that was calling me the other day, so I answered with "Steve Schwerbel". The caller asked, "Yes, is this Steve Schwerbel?"

People, if you're a journalist, and things like Rathergate keep happening, and you can't even bother to pay attention to how people answer the phone, maybe you're in trouble.
By way of explanation

I'm no good at introductions (I've just spent multiple hours trying to think of a clever introductory post), but it seems that there should be some kind of explanation for all this, after all. So: I'm a student at the UW-Madison. I'm also a conservative (or something. It'll come out in the blog). Anyhow, the combination leaves me feeling enough like a castaway that the blog title suggested itself, what with the Internet being a big ol' pond. So please come back - things get easier from here on out.