Monday, November 29, 2004

Marcland revisited

For the last few weeks I have been troubled by the sudden disappearance of the ninja blog dojo known as Marcland. Well, Marc is back. And this time, it's personal.

All I can say is: Watch your back, Storm Shadow.


PS - I have no proof that Marc is involved in this atrocity, but I don't have proof of his non-involvement, either.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Georgia on my mind

The blogosphere has noticed that something is going on in Ukraine. As it turns out, I have been studying Ukrainian ethnic politics for the last couple of years, so I have been following this very closely. From what I can tell, it appears that the regional/ethnic political divide which I have been writing about has played a very important part in the election. The tide seems to have turned against the Russians, and the Ukrainians seem to have passed the tipping point. Kuchma will not be able to pass the torch to Yanukovich without substantial help from Moscow. And it looks to me that Putin is not willing to plunge over the brink.

I was at a conference on Ukraine a month ago in Ottawa and there was a panel discussion about possible election outcomes. Everyone assumed that Kuchma would use as much influence as possible to sway the populace away from voting for Yushchenko, but that this would not be enough and in the end he would have to falsify the election results in order to declare Yanukovich the winner. In this they appear to have been right on the money.

People differed on what would happen next. First there was the question of whether the fraudulent results would be close enough to convince the populace that they could make a difference by hitting the streets and protesting. They seem to have been close enough, because people are turning out in huge numbers.

This being the case, there were predictions that Kiev would be closed from the west and flooded with folks from the East, in order to suppress popular demonstrations in the capital. This has happened.

There were disagreements on how much Russia would intervene. So far, Putin has congratulated Yanukovich as the winner and then recanted and said that he only offered him congratulations based on early returns and that he is waiting to see who is officially declared the winner. There are also very credible reports of Russian spetznats troops in Ukrainian military uniforms deployed in the capital to protect Kuchma, but so far to my knowledge there has not been any shooting. Russian intervention is still an open question, but it appears that Putin is playing it cautious.

There was also disagreement at the conference about the way that the Ukrainian military would respond. The consensus was that Kuchma had carefully selected which units would be allowed to mobilize, on the basis of their supposed loyalty to him. Some predicted massacres of protestors, but this has not happened yet. So far, protestors have replayed scenes from the US in the sixties, pinning orange flags (for Yushchenko) and flowers on the soldiers and their guns. The defense minister has been playing it cool and has said that there would be no mass mobilization to maintain order. Given this reaction, I would suppose that the opposition has been talking to the defense minister, as Yeltsin and his people talked to important officers during the hardliner coup. I would have thought the Russians would be aware of such dangers, but perhaps the defense minister is more firmly in Kuchma's corner than he appears to be at the moment. And, in a move that I did not hear predicted at the conference, some Ukrainian militia units have been swearing loyalty oaths to Yushchenko. It is not clear how widespread this phenomenon is, but I naturally suppose that it is most prominent in the west. If this is so (and I see no reason to believe otherwise), this could mean civil war if people start shooting.

Another event I did not see predicted at the conference is that the Greek Catholic church has declared Yushchenko the winner. To my knowledge, other churches have not taken sides. It will be interesting if they do.

My prediction? I think we will see a Georgia-style popular revolution with little violence. The real question is whether Putin's support will embolden Kuchma (and to a lesser extent, Yanukovich), but for the moment at least Putin seems to be wary of throwing Russia's full weight behind their boys in Ukraine. Without such support, the spark for conflict would have to come from the west, which I think is less likely.

But I guess we will see.


PS - To my imaginary readers: My apologies for the lack of links. Work schedule permitting, I will put more in later.

PPS - To my professors who thought that my conclusions were too strong: How ya like me now?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Mr. Personality

Pictures of Kim Jong-Il are disappearing in Pyongyang. In one of the few remaining cult-of-personality states in the world, can this be anything other than a good sign?


UPDATE 11/18: It's been interesting to see the meltdown of the Democrats here in the US, who bet all their political capital on a losing horse. I have wondered if perhaps there aren't politicians in foreign parts who likewise bet wrong and are suffering the political consequences. I'll admit, I thought it would be folks like Chirac and Schroeder, and not Kim Jong-il. But maybe that's what's happening.
Flappy Bird

Holy crap! I'm a Flappy Bird! Thanks, everyone!


Monday, November 15, 2004

Cabinet changes

It seems that four more department heads will be announcing their departures from President Bush's cabinet. The four Secretaries are: Colin Powell (State), Rod Paige (Education), Ann Veneman (Agriculture), and Spencer Abraham (Energy). John Ashcroft (Justice) and Don Evans (Commerce) have already submitted their resignations, which means a total of six new faces in the cabinet next year.

In comparison, President Clinton's cabinet had seven changes immediately after Clinton's reelection in 1996. Here's a chart (sort of) for comparison:


DEPT. 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
STATE WMC-------------------MA----------------
TREAS LB--------RER-------------------LS------
DEF LA-----WJP------------WSC---------------
JUSTC JR--------------------------------------
INTER BB--------------------------------------
AGRIC ME----------DG--------------------------
COM RB---------------MK---WMD------------NM-
LABOR RBR-------------------AH----------------
HHS DES-------------------------------------
HUD HGC-------------------AMC---------------
TRANS FFP-------------------RS----------------
ENRGY HRO-------------------FFP--BR-----------
ED RWR-------------------------------------
VA JB-------------------------TDW----------


DEPT. 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
STATE CLP------------------CR--
TREAS PHO-------JS-------------
DEF DHR----------------------
JUSTC JA-------------------AG--
INTER GAN----------------------
AGRIC AMV------------------XX--
COM DLE------------------XX--
LABOR ELC----------------------
HHS TGT----------------------
HUD MRM---------AJ-----------
TRANS NYM----------------------
ENRGY SA-------------------XX--
ED RRP------------------XX--
VA AP-----------------------
HS TR-------------

More complete information on the cabinets can be found here. It is important to note that this list includes only heads of executive branch departments, and not other cabinet-level officials. The White House considers six other officials to be cabinet-rank: the VP, the President's chief of staff, the USTR, the drug czar, and the heads of the OMB and EPA.

Of these, I am not aware of any announced changes, although concerns about Cheney's health have sparked speculation that he might retire. (If he does, I know who I want to replace him.)

How many more changes are in store? The CIA just got a new boss in September, but Bill Mueller has been head of FBI since 2001, so a change is not out of the question. Other important members of the president's foreign policy team are departing as well.

Anyway, I don't know that there is a point to this post. I just think the turnover is interesting. If any of my imaginary readers would like to speculate about who else might leave, or who might get a new job as a cabinet secretary, leave a comment.


UPDATE: Sorry those "charts" are ugly. I can't seem to make regular html tables work in blogspot for some reason. Suggestions?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Dept. of Rich Widows Advisory System

A spokesman for Sen. John F. Kerry confirmed today that events in the Middle East have raised the Rich Widow Alert from ELEVATED (What can I say about Teresa?) to HIGH (Trial separation). Experts warn that the alert level may rise again to EXTREME (Filing for annulment).

With friends like these

Bob Jones recently congratulated President Bush on his electoral victory. (Hat tip: INDC Journal.) Sometimes I think that the best argument for supporting Bush is the list of those who call themselves his enemies. Anything that Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, and Ted Rall oppose is probably a good thing for me to support.

On the other hand, there are plenty of despicable people who call themselves Bush's friends. This includes Bob Jones, who certainly is no friend to me and mine. And of course there's that idiot Pat Robertson. And that fat buffoon Jerry Falwell.

Maybe I shouldn't judge my Democratic friends too harshly. As the Bible says: Let he who is without horrible cretins in his party cast the first stone...

Blog Empire

The Commissar has once again mapped the blogosphere. The map, as usual, looks great. All it needs is a little link back to this blog. I suggest "Paynemont" where the Piedmont is now. But beggars, as they say, are filthy and smelly.

I know I am.


UPDATE: Hooray! I got added!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Who's your daddy?

You do know who your daddy is, don't you?

A little less Karl Rove? Are you kidding me?

(Tip of the hat to our good friends the Llamas.)


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

No more red and blue

If you or anyone you know has used the phrase "red states" or "blue states" in the past month, I have three suggestions. First, never utter those words again. Second, read this article and study the accompanying map. Third, never utter those words again. Thank you.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Thank you, paranoid potheads

In 2000, fifty million people voted for George W. Bush. This year, although the results are still being added up, it appears that fifty-eight or fifty-nine million people voted for George W. Bush.

Thank you, Michael Moore, and all your wild-eyed, unwashed hippie friends. Four years of crazy talk and whining have convinced eight or nine million Americans to vote Republican. Now, please move to France, as you have promised you would.

Thanks again, and good night.


(UPDATE 11/29: It now appears that George W. Bush got almost sixty-one million votes. So the Democrats managed to convince not eight, not nine, but more than ten million Americans to vote Republican. Thanks, guys! You're the best!)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A last-minute plea

Good morning, imaginary readers. Before you go to the polls today (and you darn well better go), please do me one small favor and watch this campaign ad. I think it speaks for itself. Thank you.

(Hat tip: Dean.)


Monday, November 01, 2004

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

UPDATE: Not true. I don't know what happened this morning, but when I looked at my blog, my trackbacks had disappeared. I'm not sure why. I fiddled with HaloScan and got the feature back, but all the old trackbacks previously associated with past posts are still gone. Too bad.
The final countdown

In thirty-six hours, the apocalypse.

I'll be in my specially prepared shack in the hills, going over my checklist. Leather jacket and shotgun? Check. Knife? Check. Rations? Check. Teddy bear? Check. Eyepatch? Check. Angst-ridden robot girlfriend? Check. 1973 Ford XB GT Hardtop? Check. Bicycle? Check. Roller skates? Super-awesome sailboat? Check.

Hey, you can't be too careful.


UPDATE: Be afraid. Be very afraid.