Political Animal

CONFUSION….I think I’ll join Jeanne

CONFUSION….I think I’ll join Jeanne d’Arc as a fellow Los Angeles Times reader who really doesn’t know what to think anymore:

  • France and Germany are vile appeasers for not supporting war with Iraq right this second.

  • But the next day Bush and Blair agree that maybe we should give the inspectors a few more weeks.

  • Then again, Americans should prepare for war.

  • On the other hand, the State of the Union address will not be a declaration of war.

  • But if we do go to war, we might need to use nukes.

  • Because we know where Iraq’s WMDs are hidden: deep underground where only nukes can get to them

  • But we’re not going to tell the inspectors about this, it’s our little secret.

  • While in other news around the world, the tough talk has vanished against North Korea and now “all of the options are on the table.”

What the fuck is going on around here?

UPDATE: Kevin Batcho at Beyond the Wasteland thinks he can explain all this. I have a minor quibble or two with his analysis, but overall it sounds pretty reasonable. (Permalinks aren’t working, so scroll to “Checkmate in the Gulf.”)


ARE GOOGLE’S PAGE RANKS FAIR?….This is interesting. Via Ampersand comes a link to LawMeme, which reports on a suit between Google and a company named SearchKing. Here are the basic facts of the case:

Google ranks all websites with a PageRank, which ranges from 1 to 10. SearchKing owns a subsidiary called PRAN that is in the business of locating highly ranked sites and then asking them if they would be willing to sell advertising space. If they agree, PRAN then sells this space to its clients.

Apparently Google didn’t like this, so they intentionally lowered SearchKing’s own PageRank from 8 to 4 and decreased PRAN’s PageRank from 2 to 0. SearchKing sued, but a few days ago the judge in the case denied several requests from SearchKing, in the process accepting Google’s contention that PageRanks are “opinions” covered by the First Amendment. The full ruling is here.

Ampersand calls SearchKing a “cyber-leech,” but I’m not convinced this ruling is altogether good news. Google is tremendously powerful in the internet search business, and it’s not clear to me that it’s right for them to manually lower the PageRank of people they don’t like or that they compete with. In a similar way, common carriers like telephone companies and railroads are prohibited from favoring certain customers over others, and airline booking services like SABRE are prohibited from favoring one airline over another.

I’m not quite sure how to react to this case, and the legal details are certainly beyond me, but at the very least it will hurt Google’s credibility if it turns out that they do this very often. The case isn’t over yet, and it sounds like it’s one worth following.

UPDATE: Ampersand has a followup post here that makes some good points. I’ve done a little more reading about SearchKing, and I’m tentatively willing to agree now that “cyber-leech” might be a pretty good description. However, the principle involved still worries me a bit: did Google simply tweak their algorithm to make it harder for people to game the system, or did they deliberately target only SearchKing? If the latter, it strikes me as a bad precedent.


YEP, IT’S ALL ABOUT OIL….Trent Telenko at Winds of Change wonders if the French will really veto a U.S. use of force resolution in the United Nations. Are they secretly (and deviously) working with us? Will they wimp out and support us in the end? Or is there a third choice?

3) The French aren’t bluffing, in which case the UN is useless for promoting American interests. So we should let the French veto the use of force resolution and attack Iraq anyway. That will make the UN another “League of Nations” and remove it as an obstacle to American interests. The up side is that it also gives us the justification make a really public and gory example of France.

I really don’t see France crashing and burning the U.N. over this. It is clear to all and sundry that the USA is out to control Arab oil income so that it won’t be diverted to Pakistani and North Korean WMD production or to fund Al-Qaeda and its mind children. Control of that oil income is a great deal of economic power. Volunteering to be the first example of that power’s use is *not* within the meme of French Statecraft.

Crikey. Which rock do people like this crawl out from, anyway?


NIXON HAD A SECRET PLAN TOO….This just doesn’t make any sense:

In Tokyo, U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Washington’s top arms control diplomat, said Iraq had maintained an extensive program for producing weapons of mass destruction, including long-range ballistic missiles banned since the 1991 Gulf War.

“That is information that we have, and I think that, at an appropriate time and in an appropriate way, we will make the case about Iraq’s violations,” Bolton told a news conference on the third and last stop of a tour of Asia.

If this is false, then Bolton is lying and the administration has no credibility.

If it’s true, then the administration has deliberately alienated our allies and helped to drum up opposition to the U.S. by witholding evidence that would persuade them to support a war.

What the hell is up with these guys? And what exactly is an “appropriate time”? What’s wrong with right now?