Weekly round up Sunday 12 February

More political stalemate in Iraq: the Shi'ites haven't agreed on a candidate for the premiership.

Le Monde reports on a fascinating proposed alliance between General Michel Aoun (the Christian militia leader) and Hizbollah. The terms include the recognition that Syrian forces must stay out of the Lebanon, a secure border also with Israel, and the possible merger of Hizbollah forces into the Lebanese armed forces. General Aoun hopes to become president.

Silvio Berlusconi is ridiculed by a Daily Telegraph correspondent for "seeing Reds under the bed". Because he sends copies of a book outlining the damage done by Communist and fellow-traveller intellectuals in European countries to party activists? Suppose the allegations made by respected (outside Cuba and North Korea and Massachusetts) historian Stéphane Courtois were true? BTW the book she mentions is not the Black Book of European Communism, but the newer book Du passé faisons table rase!, not available yet in English. The book outlines the deliberate actions of European Communist Parties in infiltrating academic circles and public institutions, something a smug English or American journalism-school graduate cannot begin to fathom, but a reality for hundreds of millions of people.

Democrats flagellating themselves over losing the Judge Alito nomination to the U.S. supreme court. Full campaign strategy (six months late) here.
"Helpful advice" offered no doubt in the spirit of compassion by Roger L. Simon. Meanwhile, this is what I call twisting the knife.

Le Figaro runs an in-depth analysis of Islamist political parties doing well in elections around the world. Any bets that none of this stuff sunk into the brains of the U.S. president George W. Bush's advisers?

Uzbekistan, a friend of the U.S. government in the "war" on "terror", tortures a pro-US free-market advocate on trumped up charges of embezzlement. (As if president Islam Karimov hadn't taken bribes from the U.S. government.)
Memo to the U.S. State Department: nice job sabotaging the credibility of the President's call for democracy throughout the Middle East.
Memo to warbloggers: where are you guys?

The Finnish presidential election, that was supposed to be a shoo-in for the moderate socialist, in fact was very close. Funny how the statist media only realized after the votes had been cast that the conservative had a chance! BBC, Le Figaro does a man on the street interview, Le Monde portrays the reelected president as a pacifist, but pro-NATO, though Mrs Tarja Halonen is not actually in favour of joining NATO.

For "pro-democracy protesters" in Nepal, be wary. They're often Maoists or other Chinese backed Communists. With that in mind latest news:
King authorizes shooting of pro-democracy demonstrators;
French report on the communist threat;
pro-communist French report;
BBC equivocation about communist terrorists, again;
...but not this time!
Daily Telegraph takes the appease Communists line, the problem is that the Maoists are a constant threat, and the political parties turn a blind eye in the hope that when the Maoists take over, they can do a deal. Pretty stupid after the experiences of Czechoslovakia, Poland, the U.S.S.R., China, Cambodia (also a monarchy in similar circumstances in the early 1970s). I guess they're afraid. So what's the Telegraph's excuse?
Fancy that, the king must go!

Troubled election in Haiti, reports in French and English here, here, here, here, here and here.
Second round seems likely.

Doom for California's Democrats, in the short term: they could lose the power to gerrymander districts and therefore power in the State legislature. That said, the reform would reduce the ability of a future Republican assembly majority from cooking the election rules. In the long-run, this could help Democrats: in theory the ethnic minority demographics should be helping them already.

George W. Bush continues to set the agenda for when he leaves office: judges appointed to federal courts (which is of course where the better-qualified Supreme Court nominees for years to come will be found).

... and one of the judges is the first black woman to serve as federal judge in a New England state. You know all those Democrat nominees since 1861 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut? Nope, none of them were.

Memo to Vanessa Bryant: the racist hate mail starts now, from "liberals" who can't tolerate black women who don't submit to their chosen roles of victim or guilt merchant.

Polish government takes sides in Belarus election campaign. What's the Byelorussian for "Clark County"?

San Mateo (California) wants to go postal. When the fraudulent registrations and multiple voting happens, maybe someone will go postal.

Voting fraud opportunities in New York? Perish the thought!

I'm sorry I didn't cover the Palestinian Authority election in more detail. As I forecast, the side that killed more people won. Will this encourage the Israeli party with the most willingness to fight Hamas to assassinate terrorists in the run-up to elections. You better believe it!
My round up of French and English language coverage is here:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 and 9.

My DD has a monthly forecast of U.S. Senate results for this year. You can find earlier months through the link.

John Kerry's trying to blow his 2008 election chances already. Going to Switzerland in order to give a press conference saying that you want a filibuster because you haven't had time to debate Judge Alito's appointment is dumb, like the guy who thought he only needed to gain New Hampshire to win in 2004, and who "voted for the $87 billion before voting against", and managed the feat of being the only Catholic candidate in U.S. political history to lose the Catholic vote.

US Democrats end January in a shocking state. Let me see: scandals rocking Republicans, administration officials facing charges, not exactly splendid news coming out of Iraq or Afghanistan, budget and trade deficits not brilliant, and a president who alienated many of his supporters with the Harriet Myers nomination to the US Supreme Court and his bloated spending plans. Add to this the (at best) teething problems of Medicare Part D and a congressional race in California coming up where the outgoing Republican resigned in a barrage of criminal charges.
So what do they do?
this (Howard Dean is an incompetent buffoon)
this (Not my idea of a winning slogan: "We can only win if the convicted killers and rapists vote for us!" P.S. What happens if some of them vote Republican? Oops!)
this (a Democrat enthusiast assumes the opposite conclusions from figures which show why his party is a near-permanent minority in Congress)
this (Democratic "machine" politics in Pennsylvania, as explained by a Democrat enthusiast)
this (Democrat backs Alito for Supreme Court, and Polipundit has names for the next two Supreme Court judge nominations by president George W. Bush: Janice Rogers Brown or Raoul Cantero)
and these words of wisdom from former Governor Phil Bresenden fan Glenn Reynolds.
In particular I note:
That said, I think that lefties are over-focused on Bush, and that the GOP likes it that way. Bush's numbers may be down (though they seem to be trending up on Rasmussen at the moment, for reasons that aren't obvious to me; the filibuster talk, perhaps?) -- but it doesn't matter. Bush isn't running again. The next GOP candidate will run on an "I'm not Bush, but you can trust me on security more than the Democrats" platform -- as the elder Bush did in 1988. The Democrats' Bush-hatred just plays into that strategy. If they were smarter, they'd be building up some people of their own, which among other things would involve keeping them out of the fray of Bush-bashing. The only candidate who seems to fit that bill is Mark Warner, but I suspect the Kos/Moveon crowd won't like him.

The US Democrats look like they did in early 2004. And we know what happened in November...

BBC Report on the Conservative victory in Portugal (January 22). Even of the left hadn't been split five ways, Anibal Cavaco Silva would have won, given that he had 50.6% of the first round vote, making a run-off unnecessary. He is the first right-wing president of Portugal since the coup of 1974.
More reports here.