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Current Affairs

"The Scream" destroyed?

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Munch masterpieces destroyed?

This news report from Norway seems to indicate that the famous "Scream" painting might have been destroyed by art thieves. That would be something to scream about. This was one of the most famous paintings in the world.

Is CNN not playing well with others on the Web?

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Nick Lewis begins his article:

Last week, CNN attempted an unusual marketing campaign in the blogosphere. The campaign combined blackhat search engine optimization techniques, viral marketing tactics, and guerrilla comment spam. Unlike the majority of comment spam, this spam appears to only target blogs that have discussed CNN in the past 3 months. So far, 13 separate instances of the spam have been found. Most alarmingly, CNN may have also left malicious keywords at least 3 out of 13 with the intent of using google's keyword stuffing detectors to censor them. As of now CNN has not returned my request for a confirmation or denial.

A good analysis, in my opinion. If true, CNN has been bad, and needs to go to the Naughty Spot for a few minutes. (Snookums and I have been watching Nanny 911 recently . . . )

Is General Motors In Trouble?

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Stumbled across this via Free Republic:
Wall Street speculates on General Motors bankruptcy .

The adjustments that the company has made to its production schedule in the first two quarters of 2005, and the warnings from credit rating agencies that the company’s huge debt faces downgrading to junk bond status has focused America's financial markets on the problems of the world's largest carmaker.

Morning Whip, 4/18/05

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The Papal Conclave starts today. German Cardinal Ratzinger is the front-runner.

India and Pakistan are making nice.

Bad week for cruise ships. First bedbugs, now a giant wave damages a ship.

South Dakota is giving away an official Governor's Mansion. Get yours today!

Is too much Vitamin E bad for you?

Wi-Max gets closer. Intel announces a chipset.

Firefox releases an update.

Washington Election Debacle

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Followup to this morning's Whip entry on the Washington State Election: What's it all about? Brian Crouch at the blog Soundpolitics has extensive coverage of the scandal. The timeline is here.

The basic gist of the story is that the Democratic candidate, Christine Gregoire, held a slight lead before the absentee ballots were counted. After the absentee ballots were in, the Republican Dino Rossi pulled ahead. Then, over the next few weeks, Washington state election authorities kept "finding" ballots until they had enough votes to "decide" the election in favor of Gregoire.

College Basketball Today

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Congratulations to Virginia Union, winners of the NCAA Division II championship!

Yesterday with the big boys, Michigan State beat Duke, Kentucky over Utah, Wisconsin beat NC State, and North Carolina over Villanova. Big Ten flexing its muscle over the ACC.

LSU dismantled Liberty 90-48 on the Women's side. In progress, Duke and Georgia. Later tonight, Minnesota-Baylor and Arizona State-North Carolina. Tomorrow: Texas Tech-Tennessee, Rutgers-Ohio State, Vanderbilt-Michigan State, and Connecticut-Stanford.

Have the Republicans Jumped the Shark?

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Everybody knows about Jumping the Shark. Some of my all-time favorite shows jumped the shark at some point. Babylon 5 Jumped when they ended the series one year early (year 4 vs. year 5). Buffy the Vampire Slayer Jumped when Buffy died (again) and the show switched to UPN. MASH Jumped when Trapper John left the series. Etc., etc. People argue about exactly when a favorite series Jumps the Shark, but almost everyone agrees that a show has Jumped.

Driving home from work today, I had the thought that perhaps the Republicans have Jumped the Shark with this Terri Schiavo deal. I keep hearing conflicting things. Her cerebral cortex has been largely replaced with cerebrospinal fluid, and that she's conversing as best she can with her visitors. I don't know anything about neuroscience, but I wouldn't think both of these could be true.

On the one hand, the first-hand testimonials of her awareness from her family are not credible. I'm sorry, but in those situations, people see and hear what they want to hear. On the other hand, the actions of Mr. Schiavo are . . . questionable? Living and having two kids with another woman, for instance. So does he have a motive for letting Terri die? Maybe, but then how come he waits 15 years?

I don't know where the truth lies. That's the problem. So now the Republican Congress charges in and passes a law giving Federal Courts authority, and the Republican President signs it into law. What I really want to know is which political genius thought that this was a good idea, and what did he/she think they'd gain from opening up the political spigots? I can't shake the feeling that this should have been (in basketball terms) a "no-call" on the part of the Congress and the President. It is the same feeling you get when you realize your favorite TV show has jumped the shark.

Sheep Rustlers Caught

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You can't make this stuff up. (Hat tip: Freerepublic.com).

Article itself from the Corvallis Gazette-Times:

There's more ba-a-a-d news for Oregon State University's football team.

Beavers player Ben Michael Siegert was apparently caught driving the getaway vehicle that whisked a ram away from the university's Sheep Center, according to police.

A Benton County Sheriff's deputy found the animal in the bed of a pickup after pulling Siegert over for speeding on Southwest Whiteside Drive about 1:34 a.m. last Friday morning.

So now we have Beavers kidnapping sheep.

Libertarians . . .

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In the couple of days, I've seen two different articles focusing on that "L" word. Not "liberal." Libertarian. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that prior to my current life as a right wing wacko with serious lassez-faire tendencies, I was formerly an actual card carrying member of the Libertarian Party. This was before I realized that the world was as much about power as it was about liberty, that the Libertarians didn't have any power, and weren't likely to wield political power much more extensive than the occasional dog catcher, back-bench state legislator, or end-of-the-bench alderman.

Plus, Ronald Reagan really was a pretty darn good President.

Anyway, back to the strange confluence of articles about libertarians. First, the Wall Street Journal's Opinionjournal.com site ran a Julia Gorin piece titled Party On! Her money paragraph:

Politically, the Libertarian world isn't a bad place to be. Libertarians have more credibility with the left than Republicans do, even though their conservative side is callous compared with the charitable Christian right. And they have more credibility with the right than Democrats do, despite being more godless than the left. If Republicans and Democrats are the thesis and antithesis, Libertarians are a synthesis.

It's perhaps noteworthy that the column runs on their "On The Fringe" section. See above comment re: dogcatchers.

Then, I stumble across a Pejman Yousefzadeh article on Tech Central Station: Saving the Marriage: Conservatism and Libertarianism. This much more serious article tries to salvage what Yousefzadeh sees as the fraying coalition of libertarians and conservatives.

(Law professor Randy) Barnett also best makes the argument in favor of a continued collaboration between libertarians and conservatives for the purposes of augmenting each faction's political power. As Barnett aptly notes, via the creation of a Libertarian Party, libertarians have prevented themselves from gaining influence in either the Democratic or Republican parties. As noted above, libertarians and conservatives can and should find common cause on a number of key policy issues and fundamental political principles, so if libertarians wish to enhance their political strength, they should find a natural home in the Republican Party. Their entry should be welcomed by conservatives who sense the creation -- at long last -- of a governing political majority that will displace and eclipse the remnants of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal majority, and who should look for any and all opportunities to expand that coalition. Each side, therefore, has an interest in courting the other and furthering the historic political partnership with one another.

I would think that the prospect of securing the GOP's status as a majority party for at least a generation would hold some appeal for even the most unreconstructed paleoconservative, not to mention the shady and dangerous neocons.