Yankee Blog

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I wonder...

Not that I am going to watch it, but I wonder how this entire GOP convention this is going to play out. In case there were any doubts about the hate that lives at the heart of this party you should read this story about their latest official party platform. It is kind of interesting given that only a day ago the Vice President said that he thought that freedom meant that people were free to engage in any kind of relationship with each other. But I guess that freedom has never been much more than a word to the GOP faithful.

Anyway, the key speakers at the GOP convention are not people who are real keen on hate-filled diatribes. They are the moderates of the party. The people who have been given an easy ride to the top by virtue of being the only remotely electable candidates that their party can find in the leading progressive states in America. I am talking of people like Guiliani, Schwartzenegger, and Pataki. All of them are pro-choice and are not likely be playing up any ideas that homosexuality is a curse that God commands us to rid the earth of.

But I wonder what these people are going to talk about. The only issues that really get the GOP faithful going are marginal social issues and things about the war. But there is not a whole lot of good to say about the war. I think the public is not going to buy it if they hear all these stories about how we are bringing freedom to Iraq, when the news everyday is filled with stories like this and pictures like this.

My only point is that I wonder how this is all going to come together for the GOP and how these speakers are going to connect with the people in the room and win over votes of people who each side needs to win the election.

Top Bush Advisor Admits links to discredited Kerry attack group...

That is not the headline that you will be reading, but if we really had a liberal media it is what you would be reading. If this "story" was going the other way around I can't imagine the field day that the cable news idiots would be having with it. We probably would be at the point where John Edwards was heading up the ticket.

Instead the headline is, "Lawyer for Bush Quits over links to Kerry's Foes" and you have to read to the end of the article to find out that the guy with the real juice, all the juice, Karl Rove, appeared on a softball news program and even then admitted that he has links to the guy who has been financing this entire lie-fest. Well, as long as we are not talking about the issues I guess that it is all good.

Evil plot...

Corporate America is up to their old tricks again. Today I learned they are trying to make smart kids even less popular by turning them into fat kids as well. Just what the class geek needs, another 10 pounds around the waist to prevent him from being any good at sports.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

An idea...

I am just throwing this out, but how about a huge Kerry rally in NYC just after the RNC? It seems like it would be a great way to motivate all the protesters going to NYC to be well behaved. A rally would get huge coverage by the national media who will just be moving out of town. I bet that Kerry could have the largest political rally ever if it was organized well. Maybe the Parks Department will even let them use Central Park. It might also send a message to the nation that NYC is not Bush Country. It is really sad how Bush has exploited the very real suffering of a lot of families who lost loved ones on 9/11 while at the same time being mostly loathed throughout New York City.

I have said it before, the dangers from terrorism and the economic engine of America are in the blue states. And there are even more votes in the blue states. Yet somehow, we have a President from the Red States who is running our country into the ground. People in the blue states know that cooperation with our allies is important. They are the winners in globalization and know that no matter how much Bush claims he is making the world safer he is really doing the opposite. The people in the Red States are focused on a whole lot of other issues, ones that are frankly less important to the future of America and the world, but they are setting the policy for our nation and the tone of the race.

Well, I am going to stop with the generalizations. If you want more of them check out this web site. It pretty much cuts to the chase of what I am talking about.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

It would be a shame...

It would be really tragic for America if the story on the minds of people today was this one about the Swift Boat Veterans for Screwing Americans rather than the story about accountablity in the scandal we are going to struggling for decades to overcome.

I really can't put into words how important it is for America to make it clear to the world that what went on in Abu Gharaib does not represent Americans. I also can't imagine what it is going to take an already skeptical world that we are not the nation that abused those prisoners. Oh well...at least winning over the hearts and minds of the world is not important to our global war against terror.


What is wrong with the world when the President of the US cannot even exploit the athletic victories of another nation for political benefit? I mean back in the good old days we would only take pride in our own victories over those steroid freaks from the Eastern Bloc.

Nowadays when Americans try to be generous and proclaim the victories of others those ungrateful bastards start complaining about how we are killing their cousins. Thankfully Iraqis don't get to vote...they might find that their personal costs of war have outweighed the benefits. But we don't care, we are Americans and removing some crazy dictator makes for good speeches and backdrops to appearances on expensive pieces of Military hardware.

Umm...remind me again which way is up.

The Death Spiral...

Well, this summer has clearly put this blog into a slow death spiral. But I am not quite ready to read the last rites yet. I have been mostly out of the news bubble for the last few weeks, but it seems that some absolutely absurd charges by a bunch of GOP hacks has managed to dominate the news. At a time when there are some real issues facing our country (like, say, soldiers killing and dying in Iraq, or our economy sputtering to another recesssion) it is kind of sad that our politics focuses on some cooked up charges meant to distract from everything that really matters in this race.

If you want to get a sense of how I really feel about these charges and the coverage, I think that Josh Marshall has been doing the best job summing it up. In particular I would point to this post that cuts right to the heart of what a phony (I love using that word) George Bush is. But the real reason for this post was to turn attention to an article (not an opinion piece) in the New York Times. This is a tremendously scathing piece for the New York Times to publish as analysis, and gets right to the heart of how much our media is sucking during this race. The entire Swift Boat Veterans for Ruining American Politics story has been blown out of proportion by Cable News. These people have no confidence that their viewers would like to see a nuanced view of the Candidates on an hourly basis, so they find some issue that people can understand and people can yell about and repeat it ad infinitum. It is tragic. If we had a media that was just a little smarter, it seems that Cable News could be a great asset. They could provide amazingly in depth stories on what the candidates say about the issues that matter and what Americans say about those issues. But thanks to Fox News they have all been led away from that, and it is sad for America. As John Kerry says, "America deserves better".

Anyway, the other thing I wanted to mention is that on Sunday I was up in Bush Country. I was spending the day in Biddeford Pool, ME, and took a trip a few miles down the coast to Kennebunkport, ME. I guess that I should not have been surprised, but this place was as blue blood as they come. It was an amazingly peaceful place, with the water beckoning for fishing and sailing. These towns hard to the coast of Maine are also amazingly insulated from the issues that plague the rest of Maine. I think it probably says something about our President that this is the environment that shaped him. I also spent time in Nantucket. And while I think there was more money in Nantucket, there is actually something about it that makes it a bit more real to me. As an island there is no avoiding the entire spectrum of life. But I am probably making too much of this.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Sport...

There is some I could say about politics, but lets start my brief window of blogging with some sport. In case you did not know, the English Football season has already started again. I love the football schedule. It goes away for about three months, and sometimes one of those months is taken up with a World Cup or European Championship.

Anyway, QPR is playing in the league formerly known as Division 1. Which should not be confused with the top league, as that is the Premiership. But to add to the confusion, now Division 1 is known as the Coca-Cola Championship. And the league formerly known as Division 2 is now called Division 1. So to sum up: Top league = Premiership, Second League = Championship, Third League = Division 1. This is all very confusing, but if you look carefully at the links above you will see that the BBC website has still not bothered to change the words on their links.

OK, well, QPR is playing a league up from where they were last year, and they have not exactly gotten off to a great start. They drew their first game at home. Then they got spanked in their second game. In their third game they travelled to Sunderland (a definite promotion contender) and they should have come away with a win, but gave up an injury time goal. So, three games, two points. Not great, but not tragic. I think the goal for this year is to consolidate their position and prepare for a possible promotion push next year or the following year.

The Premiership also has kicked off. Man U lost their first game to Chelsea. They are near the bottom of the table, but they were seriously undermanned with Ruud and Saha both out. Although, the entire preseason performance by the Red Devils leads me to beleive that the Premiership will the the Gunners to lose. It should be another battle between Manchester and Chelsea for second.

Oh yeah, the Olympics are going on...who the hell cares?

I hope to get into some Cricket and Aussie Rules blogging in September. The St. Kilda Saints are poised for a run at the title and their is some big one-day Cricket tournament in England, but not the world cup.

I will do some American Football predictions before the season starts. I might even handicap the Apprentice after the first episode. And I probably should do a Premiership preview, but I think that might be too much work and be too late by the time I get around to it.

As for the politics...well that stuff just gets me mad.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Let's not get carried away...

There are times when I think sportscasters should just shut up about anything vaguely political. I just caught the introduction to the Iraq-Portugal Olympic Soccer match. The announcer starts by talking about how there is war there and yet they support the team...blah, blah, blah. Then he gets to this line, "today they play in Greece, and in Iraq they are free to watch."

Now as far as I know Sadaam Hussein never stopped people from watching soccer. If the announcer said "they watch with free eyes" or "they watch without having a tyrant watch them" that would be fine. But let's not pretend that Iraq was like North Korea.

I will probably continue my blogging holiday as between work and holidays I have not had a lot of time. Check back in a couple of weeks and there will be some posts from me again. Pedro might be able to pick up the slack as I think he will have some more free time in the coming weeks.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Off the roll...

When I started reading blogs and writing this blog there were a few blogs that I really liked. Several were liberal blogs but I also was reading two blogs that I thought were thoughtful conservative views. Drezner has continued to be that, but the Oxblog, being led by David Adesnik has lost it. He is taking on the tone of the entire right in the nation today, which is to just be snarky and dismissive of Democrats rather than talk about issues. It is just annoying to read since his snarkiness is not even funny.

Like this: "In contrast to his tough reviews of the FBI, The New Yorker and the Kerry campaign, Dan goes pretty soft on Baywatch bombshell Pamela Anderson. Or should I say hard?". Really, just not funny. And the substance is weak and defensive too, like his whole exchange with Matt Ygelsias and Laura Rozin about what Rand Beers said at a foreign policy forum that Adesnik was not in attendance at. That is what happens when you look for opportunities to attack a campaign rather than talk about issues.

Now I realize that there is a bit of kettle calling black with me giving this advice, but seriously, I don't think many people read my blog and I really don't worry about that too much. But I also have come to believe that the Oxblog doesn't really deserve readership either, so they are the first blog to be removed from the Yankeeblog's very exclusive blogroll. A replacement might be named later.


This NYT editorial cuts right to the bone, and makes it clear that our current leadership is more concerned with the politics of homeland security than actually keeping Americans safe.

When Barney Rubin has something to say about Afghanistan, people should listen. Here's his latest on the danger of the coming elections.

I think that with the Afghan elections, for the first time, Bush's interests align almost perfectly with Afghanistan's. What happens here in the next 10 weeks should shed some light on whether the Bush Adminstration's foreign policy failures have been due mostly to ideology or simple incompetence.

Also, note that Rubin portrays the US as only reluctantly going along with Karzai's move against the warlords. Well, that's certainly better than nothing, but it doesn't give me confidence that the Bush Administration will continue to help Karzai make the tough decisions that are needed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Just a little credit...

Almost a year ago that I wrote this post:

Last week I proposed that the Dems get moving on some efforts to convince CEO's that there coziness with the GOP is not in their or their companies' long-term

Today I have a new one for the Dems to get moving on. Since they are always complaining about not being able to get money, and since there is a huge level
of resentment at Bush in certain quarters, it seems that a fund-raising music tour would go along way to getting a lot of money. Sell tickets at high prices, put on the show in a number of big cities, get people to volunteer their time to perform, and watch the money roll in. I think there are enough people who would be willing to at least look the other way on the politics of the event to sell out large stadiums. Some back of the envelopes: 60,000 people, 5 cities, 10 shows, $100 average ticket gives a $60 MM gross. Not sure how much it costs to put on these events, and how many other resources could be donated, but I would guess this kind of thing could clear at least $30 MM...not a bad start to narrowing that funding gap.

And today I learned about this. Can I just get a little recongnition. Maybe not for the inspiration of the idea, but at least spontaneous generation of the idea.

Although I think he's a bit too partisan, I often find myself in general agreement with Atrios. His readers, on the other hand... oy.

I started reading the comments from this post because it was about Afghanistan, and hell, I'm a sucker for reading things about Afghanistan. And there's no way to say this without sounding completely arrogant and obnoxious, but most of these people don't know what the hell they are talking about and should probably just shut up.

First, there was the obligatory post declaiming that security in Afghanistan is in the toilet, as can be seen by MSF's leaving the country. Um, no, it's not quite as simple as that. (By the way, I had a very interesting conversation about MSF with one of the leaders of the NGO community the other day, and I hope to write about it sometime for the one or two readers who would be interested.)

And then the commenters -- almost without exception to the point where I grew disgusted and stopped reading -- started laying into Bush for tacitly supporting Karzai's approaches to moderate Taliban leaders.

Look, I despise the Taliban more than most people. And probably more than anyone who has not actually been to Afghanistan and seen firsthand the way they fucked up this country (which isn't to say that the Muj were any better -- from 1992 to 2001, there were no heroes).

But there are a couple of things to remember here. First, Afghanistan has an extremely conservative culture, and especially so in the Pashtun areas. While everything I've heard and seen suggests that the vast majority of Afghans -- including Pashtuns -- do not want a return to repressive Taliban rule, it does not surprise me that significant portions of the south are sympathetic to the neo-Taliban. Let's keep in mind that the US has continued to bomb a big chunk of that area and there is widespread feeling that the US has installed the hated Northern Alliance in Kabul at the expense of the south, and is actively directing reconstruction to other parts of the country. Plus there's a massive drought going on down there, exacerbating the poverty -- no wonder they're not too happy with the central government and international community.

I'm not sure there will ever be real peace in Afghanistan. But the only chance -- the ONLY chance -- is for the central government to have broad-based support from all regions of the country. And if you want significant support in the south, you need to reach out to the moderate Talibs.

The Taliban were responsible for numerous atrocities, in addition to leading what can only be desribed as a reign of terror. I have no doubt that human rights violations were committed by more Talibs than not. But, as in Rwanda, where the vast majority of Hutus were implicated in the genocide, at some point you need to forgive and reintegrate these people into society. Because otherwise you keep fighting the same war over and over again.

One more thing: Afghans make a stark distinction between the Taliban and al Qaeda ("the Arabs"). From what I can tell, the vast majority of Afghans -- including Pashtuns -- resent the Arabs and don't want them running around the country. On the other hand, many Pashtuns will protect and support the Taliban -- they are their brothers and uncles, after all.

One of the big mistakes the US made in Afghanistan, in my opinion, was not differentiating between the Taliban and the Arabs. The US and Karzai should have negotiated with moderate Talibs almost from the start and sought to sign a peace treaty, so they could welcome many of the fugitive fighters back into society.

The Bush Administration has made some good moves here in the last two weeks (or, at least, it has not prevented these moves from happening -- there is considerable debate as to how keen they were about Karzai dropping Fahim). I still think Bush has been a terrible president, and I will do what I can do help remove him from office, but credit to where credit is due.

Now if he'd just do something about expanding security forces outside Kabul and direct USAID to allow the Afghan government to have ownership of the reconstruction, we might start making some progress.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


Oxblog has been kind of crap lately, led by the snarky partisan comments of David Adesnik, but I am in complete agreement that this post by Easterbrook is spot on.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Lies, Damn Lies, and the crazy delusions of a senile old man...

I am currently "enjoying" Tim Russert's interview with Zell Miller, Democratic supporter of Bush and all around crazy old fool. Zell is stammering all over the place, reciting talking points entirely out of place, and generally not answering questions. Russert seems to be giving some sympathy to the old fool by not following up on questions, but there are still some gems.

I think that I just heard Zell say (in response to a question about the world being safer since the invasion of Iraq): "Sure it safer. The world is safer because the war is going on over there instead of over here right now.".

Well that clears it up. Iraq is not part of the world.

Really the entire thing with Zell Miller is just a farce. The guy is totally off his rocker in what he says. I am not sure what his motivation is, and there are reasons that he might decide to defend Bush and side with him, but his attacks are just false talking points. Russert was seeing right through the whole thing and was looking at Miller with totally pity. I am sure that the American people will see through the farce in the same way.