Saturday, August 28, 2004

From the Miami Herald.

“John Kerry had just pumped up a huge crowd in downtown West Palm Beach, promising to make the state a battleground for his quest to oust President Bush, when a local television journalist posed the question that any candidate with Florida ambitions should expect:

“What will you do about Cuba?

”As the presumptive Democratic nominee, Kerry was ready with the bravado appropriate for a challenger who knows that every answer carries magnified importance in the state that put President Bush into office by just 537 votes.

'I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,'' Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning. Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: ``And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.''

”It seemed the correct answer in a year in which Democratic strategists think they can make a play for at least a portion of the important Cuban-American vote -- as they did in 1996 when more than three in 10 backed President Clinton's reelection after he signed the sanctions measure written by Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton.

”There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.”

”Asked Friday to explain the discrepancy, Kerry aides said the senator cast one of the 22 nays that day in 1996 because he disagreed with some of the final technical aspects. But, said spokesman David Wade, Kerry supported the legislation in its purer form -- and voted for it months earlier.”


Yesterday, a well-known Maine citizen aka Tom the Blog Dictator expressed concerns over the EU’s Competition Department opening an investigation into a Microsoft and Time Warner agreement that would effectively put them in charge of Contentguard.

To clarify what Contentguard does: well, with the arrival of the worldwide web, companies had the possibility to online offer hitherto unknown amounts of digital info, whether it be audio, text, video, games, business information or whatever. Of course a lot of these data can’t be copied or used right away. So the owners of web information and service providers effectively need a powerful software tool for the description, interpretation, and enforcement of rights to use any web resource.

Well, Contentguard is a company offering such a software tool. It developed XrML 2.0, which stands for eXtensible rights Markup Language, and which can be used to extend the range of rights-enabled business models applicable to digital content and web services. Learn more about XrML on It’s worth to take a brief look. Technical description here. XrML is an XML-based (XML = HTML’s successor) usage grammar for specifying rights and conditions to control access to digital info and services. XrML’s predecessor was DPRL (Digital Property Rights Language). DPRL in fact became XrML when the lisp-style metalanguage used to construct DPRL was replaced with XML.

Now, with the undreamt of stream of copyright-eligible info on the web, the Digital Rights Management (DRM) market promises to become a vast business in itself. Apparently SuperMario, or the EU’s current Competition Commissioner Mario Monti, saw in the Microsoft/Time Warner initiative another attempt of that vile Bill Gates to dominate a market THAT HAS YET TO DEVELOP!!!

It’s stupid, I admit it. But hold your fire.

Instead, cheer up and answer the following question: what do the following personae have in common?

Neelie Kroes

Laetitia Casta

They are both women. They are both European. They are both defenders of the free market. They are both older than 25 and younger than 64. They both can be found on the net, here for instance for Miss Casta and here for Mrs. Kroes. They both were on board, Mrs. Kroes was on the Supervisory Board of Lucent Technologies BV, Volvo and New Skies Satellite NV and Miss Casta must in her life definitely have been on board of some ship, I mean, when you’re 26 years old one can’t imagine you have never been on some ship, no? They both make men shiver, they both live in a country which is a neighbour of Belgium... the similarities are striking... know what I’m sayin'?

Anyway, without worrying too much about the digital rights management of Tech Central Station I will let them do the talking:

More importantly, there is good news for supporters of the free market: several of the most important Commission jobs have gone to center-right politicians with experience in - gasp! - the private sector. The most crucial assignment - and arguably a more important job than the presidency itself - is that of competition commissioner. The current occupant, Italian Mario Monti, is perhaps most famous for thwarting a couple of high-profile US mergers (WorldCom-Sprint and GE-Honeywell) and for relentlessly pursuing an antitrust case against Microsoft. Monti was successful early on in his tenure at breaking up state monopolies and forcing governments to stop subsidizing anemic business sectors. But lately he has racked up a pathetic record of blocking innovation and letting countries such as France prop up ailing industries.

Replacing him in the new Commission line-up will be a Dutch woman, Neelie Kroes. She's not only a member of the Netherlands' pro-free-market liberal party (VVD), she's also got significant private sector experience, including service on the boards of Lucent Technologies and Volvo. It's too early to tell whether she'll make a real difference in EU antitrust policy (which has grown increasingly ham-fisted of late), but at least she figures to have more sensitivity to the competitive business environment than did the bookish Monti.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to point out that the recent snafus of SuperMario have shed a bad light upon the EU’s Competition Department. Personally, I DO think it can fulfill an important role in Europes business landscape. Just take a look here and don’t tell me you disagree.

Competition is a basic mechanism of the market economy and is a simple and efficient means of guaranteeing consumers a level of excellence in terms of the quality and price of products and services. In order to be effective, competition assumes that the market is made up of suppliers who are independent of each other, each subject to the competitive pressure exerted by the others.

Of course the excesses of this spring have left a drab impression of what an EU Commissioner for Competition stands for. But believe me, there’s a vast array of cases in which its role should rather be lauded than castigated. This very spring I had a post (Kerry will doubtlessly remember) on the EU Competition Department fining the Charleroi-based low-cost airliner Ryanair for having unrightfully received vast amounts of money from the Wallonian Regional Government, which caused an unfair advantage for Ryanair compared to other low-cost carriers such as Virgin: AEA Welcomes European Commission’s Ruling that Payments to Ryanair by Charleroi Airport are State Aids.

My conclusions at the end of the day:

1° Phew. Monti is leaving the scene.
2° In his place as EU Commissioner for Competition comes a true defender of the free market, Neelie Kroes.
3° The EU Competition Department, when it’s not losing itself in pointless cases, is necessary.
4° Not all that comes from France is bad.


Friday, August 27, 2004

The embellishments just keep on coming.
For all those who thought that opposing the invasion of Iraq would keep you safe from terrorism, there's this.

More EU silliness.

This week, the European Union's (EU) European Commission (EC) opened an investigation into a Microsoft and Time Warner deal that would give them control of digital rights management (DRM) company Contentguard.

The crime? Future domination of a market that does not yet exist.

If you're confused or angered by this, then you must not be a socialist or an EU commissioner. So step outside yourself for a moment, you capitalist dog, and try to see things from the EC's side of the table.

Here's what the EC claims: "It appears to the Commission that the transaction might possibly create or strengthen a dominant position by Microsoft in the market for Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions."

Hat tip to Little Green Footballs

One more reason I like UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party):

Yesterday UKIP London went into action over this issue, by announcing publicly that they were supporting the Paris bid for the Olympic Games 2012. They unfurled a banner outside City Hall and wore t-shirts with pro-Paris slogans for the photocall. (Whether the French, who, presumably, have also looked at the figures and the empty stadium in Athens, are quite as happy with that support as one might wish them to be, is another question.)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Downeastblog through Snoop Dogg's eyes.
Michael, do you have something you want to tell us?
More Kerry storytelling. Boy, is this clown ever in the wrong line of work.

John Kerry speaking at a Martin Luther King day celebration in Virginia last year said, quote, "I remember well April 1968, I was serving in Vietnam. A place of violence. When the news reports brought home to me and my crew mates the violence back home and the tragic news that one of the bullets flying that terrible spring took the life of Dr. King." That date, of Dr. King's death, was April 4, 1968. According to kerry's website, it was not until November 17, 1968, that he reported for duty in Vietnam.
Has the Left completely lost it or what???

Anything less than 100 million shouters is a horrific failure? Well, I'm looking forward to it.

Hey people, serious. This is insane (scratching head, looking puzzled, letting out deep sigh)

On another note: I bought a magazine on (a.o.) US Marines in Iraq. Ok, it was a French magazine (Raids) but it's prety good. Great photos, accurate reporting, no particular stance taken). There wer several photos of Marines in combat situations with the old Vietnam-era M-79 grenade launcher. I was really surprised these one-shot things were still in use. I mean, I thought all grenade launchers today came attached to the barrel of an M-16. What are you supposed to do in a fluid combat situation when you have shot your gun? I guess that if it's still on the USMC's inventory it must be pretty good for its intended purpose.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Oh, what the hell. Might as well round it out. Favorite pieces, composers, songs, music. Though it is obvious that you'd all really rather stick to politics!

Kerry's campaign now says is possible first Purple Heart was awarded for unintentional self-inflicted wound...

Kerry received Purple Heart for wounds suffered on 12/2/68...

In Kerry's own journal written 9 days later, he writes he and his crew, quote, 'hadn't been shot at yet'... Developing...
If this is true Kerry is more of a douchebag than I thought and as Scott has mentioned, someone should just follow him around with a microphone.

KERRY: "Why are all these swift boat guys opposed to me?"

BRANT: "You should know what you said when you came back, the impact it had on the young sailors and how it was disrespectful of our guys that were killed over there."

[Brant had two men killed in battle.]

KERRY: "When we dedicated swift boat one in '92, I said to all the swift guys that I wasn't talking about the swifties, I was talking about all the rest of the veterans."
Until us DownEaster's get a chance to chat about it, here is today's "OPEN THREAD" post. Anything not relevant to any other post can be an ongoing discussion here.

(Thanks to Mark at New Birth of Freedom for the suggestion!)
Now for the intellectual books. I'm begging here for a compilation between political and non political, non fiction and fiction. Recommended reading.....?

Monday, August 23, 2004

OK, I'm asking for your....favorite movie lines ever!!!

Need a little break from politics, and excepting Jamie and myself, it's all guys 'round here, so I figure it won't be hard for you to come up with some, it is genetic isn't it?
"A mix of red and blue, the color purple embodies red's sense of authority but also blue's association with serenity, making it a less negative and more constructive color for correcting student papers."

"The concept of purple as a replacement for red is a pretty good idea," said Leatrice Eiseman, director of the Pantone Color Institute in Carlstadt, N.J., and author of five books on color. "You soften the blow of red. Red is a bit over-the-top in its aggression."

Good lord.
I know that this will be surprising to everyone. How bad does it have to get before the leaders do something more than publicly lament every time something happens like this?

Michael has already given us that answer I believe. Malheureusement, it will be too little too late.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Ok, so other than their respective military careers, what do we all think of Kerry and Bush, and why do we plan on voting the way we do? For me, it's still the same as it was many months ago. I trust GWB more with the War on Terror and with the economy, and the guy who is going to raise my already ridiculous taxes is always going to have a hard time getting my vote. There's lots of other pros and cons, but they don't add up to much in light of those issues.

So what's influencing everyone else, other than military records?
Here is one reason the Olympics don't completely blow.

Hat tip to Smug Monkey