Yankee Blog

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Step 2b...

OK, a little playing around with spreadsheets, and here we have the largest donors to Tom DeLay:

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
$ 40,000
UNION PACIFIC CORP. FUND FOR EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT
$ 38,000
J. P. MORGAN CHASE & CO. PAC
$ 36,000
DEALERS ELECTION ACTION COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSOCIATION (NADA)
$ 35,000
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
$ 35,000
NATIONAL BEER WHOLESALERS ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
$ 34,000
SBC COMMUNICATIONS INC. EMPLOYEE FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (SBC EMPAC)
$ 33,499
AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
$ 32,500
LOCKHEED MARTIN EMPLOYEES' POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
$ 31,500
AMERICAN MARITIME OFFICERS VOLUNTARY POLITICAL ACTION FUND
$ 30,000
EL PASO CORPORATION PAC
$ 30,000
MBNA CORPORATION FEDERAL POLITICAL COMMITTEE
$ 30,000
NRA POLITICAL VICTORY FUND
$ 29,750

If I get a chance I will make a few phone calls to find out just how they feel about their role in funding a political terrorist.


Learn more...

Want to learn more about how evil Tom DeLay is? Just read this story from a week ago. My favorite part is when he accuses the Attorney General of engaging in partisan politics when he is only enforcing the law. What could be more partisan than enforcing the law of the land? This man has no respect for law, and that is why he is such a danger to our country.


Step 2...

My Step 2 in Stopping Tom DeLay is to single out the people that contribute to his campaign and his PAC. I am trying to find a list of the largest contributors to his campaign and the list of contributors to his most evil PAC (as judged by the US legal system) the Texans for a Republican Majority, but that is going to take a little time. Right now I can only point you to this list of all his contributions from PACs. Be prepared to have your faith in democracy shaken.


Stop Tom DeLay...

This is my new mission. Step 1: Signed the petition. You should sign it to. Still looking for step 2.

If you are curious about my new mission, it was largely brought on by an interview I heard on NPR. The interview was with Lou Dubose who is the author of a book about Tom DeLay. The one thing I took away from this interview is that DeLay is a man who cares nothing about America. I am not sure what his goal is, but he really doesn't give a crap about trashing the Constitution and every other law in the land to accomplish his goal.


Flurry...

There might be a flurry of posts today. There are two themes in my head. Number one is what Kerry should do in the debate tonight. Number two is I am coming to believe that stopping Tom DeLay is perhaps an even bigger priority than stopping Bush. Bush will go away. It might take 4 months or 4 years, but he will be gone. DeLay does not have to go anywhere.

And in case you are wondering why he must be stopped, take a look at this story. Apparently just for shits and giggles the GOP has decided that DC should have the same gun laws as Texas. Sure they are completely different places, and sure there will probably be a bunch of people killed as a result, but who the hell cares, it is a chance to score some cheap political points and that is more important anyway.

More on the how of stopping DeLay later in the day.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004


This is a travesty...

Since the GOP convention polls have been all over the place. Some are saying Bush has a big lead, others say the race is tied, and still others have said that Kerry has the states to win the election. It is a strange situation that is hard to understand. But this post by Atrios (following the link) helps shed a lot of light on why things are so screwy.

My view is that I think that every poll is going to underestimate the turnout for this election. I think that WAY more people are going to vote this year than we have ever seen before. And we all know that high turnouts benefit the Dems because they are the ones that stay home. The GOP core are the reliable voters and the Dems are the flaky ones.

So I expect that we will be seeing a lot of surprises on Nov. 2nd, and I think that most of them will make me happy.


Monday, September 20, 2004


Powerful stuff...

It is definitely worth reading this email (yes the whole entire thing) from the Kerry campaign today. Looks like he might finally be finding his voice on the unspoken issue of the campaign.

This election is about choices. The most important choices a president
makes are about protecting America at home and around the world. A president's
first obligation is to make America safer, stronger and truer to our ideals.
Three years ago, the events of September 11 reminded every American of that
obligation. That day brought to our shores the defining struggle of our times:
the struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism. And it made clear that
our most important task is to fight and to win the war on terrorism.

In fighting the war on terrorism, my principles are straight forward. The
terrorists are beyond reason. We must destroy them. As president, I will do
whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies. But billions of
people around the world yearning for a better life are open to America's ideals.
We must reach them.

To win, America must be strong. And America must be
smart. The greatest threat we face is the possibility Al Qaeda or other
terrorists will get their hands on a nuclear weapon.

To prevent that from happening, we must call on the totality of America's strength -- strong
alliances, to help us stop the world's most lethal weapons from falling into the
most dangerous hands. A powerful military, transformed to meet the new threats
of terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. And all of America's
power -- our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, the appeal
of our values -- each of which is critical to making America more secure and
preventing a new generation of terrorists from emerging.

National security is a central issue in this campaign. We owe it to the American people to have a real debate about the choices President Bush has made and the choices I would
make to fight and win the war on terror.

That means we must have a great honest national debate on Iraq. The president claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the
battle against our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Invading
Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.

This month, we passed a cruel milestone: more than 1,000 Americans lost in Iraq. Their
sacrifice reminds us that Iraq remains, overwhelmingly, an American burden.
Nearly 90 percent of the troops -- and nearly 90 percent of the casualties --
are American. Despite the president's claims, this is not a grand coalition.
Our troops have served with extraordinary bravery, skill and resolve. Their
service humbles all of us. When I speak to them when I look into the eyes of
their families, I know this: we owe them the truth about what we have asked them
to do and what is still to be done. In June, the president declared, "The
Iraqi people have their country back." Just last week, he told us: "This country is headed toward democracy. Freedom is on the march." But the administration's own official intelligence estimate, given to the president last July, tells a very different story. According to press reports, the intelligence estimate totally contradicts what the president is saying to the
American people. So do the facts on the ground. Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis. 42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover. But 54 died in July -- 66 in August and already 54 halfway through September. And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August -- more than in any other month since the invasion. We are
fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone. In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they attacked 2,700 times -- a 400% increase. Falluja, Ramadi, Samarra, even parts of Baghdad -- are now "no go zones" -- breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who is accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad.

Violence against Iraqis from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation is on the rise. Basic living conditions are also deteriorating. Residents of Baghdad are suffering electricity blackouts lasting up to 14 hours a day. Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees. Children wade through garbage on their way to school. Unemployment
is over 50 percent. Insurgents are able to find plenty of people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing U.S. convoys. Yes, there has been some progress, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Schools, shops and hospitals have been opened. In parts of Iraq, normalcy actually prevails. But most Iraqis have lost faith in our ability to deliver meaningful improvements to their lives. So they're sitting on the fence instead of siding with us against the insurgents. That is the truth -- the truth that the commander in chief owes to our troops and the American people. It is never easy to discuss what has gone wrong while our troops are in constant danger. But it's essential if we want to correct our course and do what's right for our troops instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
I know this dilemma first-hand. After serving in war, I returned home to offer my own personal voice of dissent. I did so because I believed strongly that we owed it those risking their lives to speak truth to power. We still do. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has
left America less secure. The president has said that he "miscalculated" in Iraq and that it was a "catastrophic success." In fact, the president has made a series of catastrophic decisions from the beginning in Iraq. At every fork in the road, he has taken the wrong turn and led us in the wrong direction. The first and most fundamental mistake was the president's failure to tell the truth to the American people. He failed to tell the truth about the rationale for going to war. And he failed to tell the truth about the burden this war would impose on our soldiers and our citizens. By one count, the president offered 23 different rationales for this war. If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded. His two main rationales -- weapons of mass destruction and the Al Qaeda/September 11 connection -- have been proved
false by the president's own weapons inspectors and by the 9/11 Commission. Just last week, Secretary of State Powell acknowledged the facts. Only Vice President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat. The president also failed to level with the American people about what it would take to prevail in Iraq.
He didn't tell us that well over 100,000 troops would be needed, for years, not months. He didn't tell us that he wouldn't take the time to assemble a broad and strong coalition of allies. He didn't tell us that the cost would exceed $200 billion. He didn't tell us that even after paying such a heavy price, success was far from assured. And America will pay an even heavier price for the president's lack of candor. At home, the American people are less likely
to trust this administration if it needs to summon their support to meet real and pressing threats to our security. Abroad, other countries will be reluctant to follow America when we seek to rally them against a common menace -- as they are today. Our credibility in the world has plummeted. In the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Europe to build support. Acheson explained the situation to French President de Gaulle. Then he offered to show him highly classified satellite photos, as proof. De Gaulle waved the photos away, saying: "The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me." How many world leaders have that same trust in America's president, today? This president's failure to tell the truth to us before the war has been exceeded by fundamental errors of judgment during and after the war.
The president now admits to "miscalculations" in Iraq. That is one of the greatest understatements in recent American history. His were not the equivalent of accounting errors. They were colossal failures of judgment -- and judgment is what we look for in a president.
This is all the more stunning because we're not talking about 20/20 hindsight. Before the war, before he chose to go to war, bi-partisan Congressional hearings... major outside studies... and even some in the administration itself... predicted virtually every problem we now face in
Iraq. This president was in denial. He hitched his wagon to the ideologues who surround him, filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders of his own party and the uniformed military. The result is a long litany of misjudgments with terrible consequences. The administration told us we'd be greeted as liberators. They were wrong. They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraq's infrastructure. They were wrong.
They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots. They were wrong. They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy. They were wrong. They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it. They were wrong. In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and
under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the president has held no one accountable, including himself. In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth. General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that Iraq would cost as much as $200
billion. He was fired. After the successful entry into Baghdad, George Bush was offered help from the UN -- and he rejected it. He even prohibited any nation from participating in reconstruction efforts that wasn't part of the original coalition -- pushing reluctant countries even farther away. As we continue to fight this war almost alone, it is hard to estimate how costly that arrogant decision was. Can anyone seriously say this president has handled Iraq in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism? By any measure, the answer is no. Nuclear dangers have mounted across the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism in the Middle East is on the rise. We have divided our friends and united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all time low. Think about it for a minute. Consider where we were... and where we are. After the events of September 11, we had an
opportunity to bring our country and the world together in the struggle against the terrorists. On September 12, headlines in newspapers abroad declared "we are all Americans now." But through his policy in Iraq, the president squandered that moment and rather than isolating the terrorists, left America isolated from the world. We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat to our security. It had not, as the vice president claimed, "reconstituted nuclear weapons." The president's policy in Iraq
took our attention and resources away from other, more serious threats to America.
Threats like North Korea, which actually has weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear arsenal, and is building more under this president's watch -- the emerging nuclear danger from Iran -- the tons and kilotons of unsecured chemical and nuclear weapons in Russia -- and the increasing instability in Afghanistan. Today, warlords again control much of that country, the Taliban is regrouping, opium production is at an all time high and the Al Qaeda leadership still plots and plans, not only there but in 60 other nations. Instead of using U.S. forces, we relied on the warlords to capture Osama bin Laden when he was cornered in the mountains. He slipped away. We then diverted our focus and forces from the hunt for those responsible for September 11 in order invade Iraq. We know Iraq played no part in September
11 and had no operational ties to Al Qaeda. The president's policy in Iraq precipitated the very problem he said he was trying to prevent. Secretary of State Powell admits that Iraq was not a magnet for international terrorists before the war. Now it is, and they are operating against our troops. Iraq is becoming a sanctuary for a new generation of terrorists who someday could hit the United States. We know that while Iraq was a source of friction, it was not previously a source of serious disagreement with our allies in Europe and countries in the Muslim world. The president's policy in Iraq divided our oldest alliance and sent our standing in the Muslim world into free fall. Three years after 9/11, even in many moderate Muslim countries like Jordan, Morocco, and Turkey, Osama bin Laden is more popular than the United States of America. Let me put it plainly: The president's policy in Iraq has not strengthened our national security. It has weakened it. Two years ago, Congress was right to give the president the authority to use force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. This president, any president would have needed the threat of force to act effectively. This president misused that authority.
The power entrusted to the president gave him a strong hand to play in the international
community. The idea was simple. We would get the weapons inspectors back in to verify whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And we would convince the world to speak with one voice to Saddam: disarm or be disarmed. A month before the war, President Bush told the nation: "If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully. We will act with the full power of the United States military. We will act with allies at our side and we will prevail." He said that military action wasn't "unavoidable."
Instead, the president rushed to war without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work. He went without a broad and deep coalition of allies. He acted without making sure our troops had enough body armor. And he plunged ahead without understanding or preparing for the consequences of the post-war. None of which I would have done. Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no -- because a commander in chief's first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe. Now the president, in looking for a new reason, tries to hang his hat on the "capability" to acquire weapons. But that was not the reason given to the nation; it was not the reason Congress voted on; it's not a reason, it's an excuse. Thirty-five to forty countries have greater capability to build a nuclear bomb than Iraq did in 2003. Is President Bush saying we should invade them? I would have concentrated our power and resources on defeating global terrorism and capturing or killing Osama bin Laden. I would have tightened the noose and continued to pressure and isolate Saddam Hussein -- who was weak and getting weaker -- so that he would pose no threat to the region or America. The president's insistence that he would do the same thing all over again in Iraq is a clear warning for the future. And it makes the choice in this election clear: more of the same with President Bush or a new direction that makes our troops and America safer. It is time, at long last, to ask the questions and insist on the answers from the commander in chief about his serious misjudgments and what they tell us about his administration and the president himself. If
George W. Bush is re-elected, he will cling to the same failed policies in Iraq -- and he will repeat, somewhere else, the same reckless mistakes that have made America less secure than we can or should be. In Iraq, we have a mess on our hands. But we cannot throw up our hands. We cannot afford to see Iraq become a permanent source of terror that will endanger America's security for years to come. All across this country people ask me what we should do now. Every step of the way, from the time I first spoke about this in the Senate, I have set out specific recommendations about how we should and should not proceed. But over and over, when this administration has been presented with a reasonable alternative, they have rejected it and gone their own way. This is stubborn incompetence. Five months ago, in Fulton, Missouri, I said that the president was close to his last chance to get it right. Every day, this president makes it more difficult to deal with Iraq -- harder than it was five months ago, harder than it was a year ago. It is time to recognize what is -- and what is not -- happening in Iraq today. And we must act with urgency. Just this weekend, a leading Republican, Chuck Hagel, said we're "in deep
trouble in Iraq ... it doesn't add up ... to a pretty picture [and] ... we're going to have to look at a recalibration of our policy." Republican leaders like Dick Lugar and John McCain have offered similar assessments. We need to turn the page and make a fresh start in Iraq. First, the president has to get the promised international support so our men and women in uniform don't have to go it alone. It is late; the president must respond by moving this week to gain and regain international support. Last spring, after too many months of resistance and delay, the president finally went back to the U.N. which passed Resolution 1546. It was the right thing to do -- but it was late. That resolution calls on U.N. members to help in Iraq by providing troops, trainers for Iraq's security forces, a special brigade to protect the U.N. mission, more
financial assistance, and real debt relief. Three months later, not a single country has answered that call. And the president acts as if it doesn't matter. And of the $13 billion previously pledged to Iraq by other countries, only $1.2 billion has been delivered. The president should convene a summit meeting of the world's major powers and Iraq's neighbors, this week, in New York, where many leaders will attend the U.N. General Assembly. He should insist that they make good on that U.N. resolution. He should offer potential troop contributors specific, but critical roles, in training Iraqi security personnel and securing Iraq's borders. He should give other countries a stake in Iraq's future by encouraging them to help develop Iraq's oil resources and by letting them bid on contracts instead of locking them out of the reconstruction process. This will be difficult. I and others have repeatedly recommended this from the very beginning. Delay has made only made it harder. After insulting allies and shredding alliances, this president may not have the trust and confidence to bring others to our side in Iraq. But we cannot hope to succeed unless we rebuild and lead strong alliances so that other nations share the burden with us. That is the only way to succeed. Second, the president must get serious about training Iraqi security forces. Last February, Secretary Rumsfeld
claimed that more than 210,000 Iraqis were in uniform. Two weeks ago, he admitted that claim was exaggerated by more than 50 percent. Iraq, he said, now has 95,000 trained security forces. But guess what? Neither number bears any relationship to the truth. For example, just 5,000 Iraqi soldiers have been fully trained, by the administration's own minimal standards. And of the 35,000 police now in uniform, not one has completed a 24-week field-training program. Is it any wonder that Iraqi security forces can't stop the insurgency or provide
basic law and order? The president should urgently expand the security forces training program inside and outside Iraq. He should strengthen the vetting of recruits, double classroom training time, and require follow-on field training. He should recruit thousands of qualified trainers from our allies, especially those who have no troops in Iraq. He should press our NATO allies to open training centers in their countries. And he should stop misleading the American people with phony, inflated numbers. Third, the president must carry out a reconstruction plan that finally brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi people. Last week, the administration admitted that its plan was a failure when it asked Congress for permission to radically revise spending priorities in Iraq. It took 17 months for them to understand that security is a priority, 17 months to figure out that boosting oil production is critical, 17
months to conclude that an Iraqi with a job is less likely to shoot at our soldiers. One year ago, the administration asked for and received $18 billion to help the Iraqis and relieve the conditions that contribute to the insurgency. Today, less than a $1 billion of those funds have actually been spent. I said at the time that we had to rethink our policies and set standards
of accountability. Now we're paying the price. Now, the president should look at the whole reconstruction package, draw up a list of high visibility, quick impact projects, and cut through the red tape. He should use more Iraqi contractors and workers, instead of big corporations like Halliburton. He should stop paying companies under investigation for fraud or corruption. And he should fire the civilians in the Pentagon responsible for mismanaging the reconstruction effort. Fourth, the president must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to guarantee the promised elections can be held next year. Credible elections are key to producing an Iraqi government that enjoys the support of the Iraqi people and an assembly to write a Constitution that yields a viable power sharing arrangement. Because Iraqis have no experience holding free and fair elections, the president agreed six months ago that the
U.N. must play a central role. Yet today, just four months before Iraqis are supposed to go to the polls, the U.N. Secretary General and administration officials themselves say the elections are in grave doubt. Because the security situation is so bad and because not a single country has offered troops to protect the U.N. elections mission, the U.N. has less than 25 percent of the staff it needs in Iraq to get the job done. The president should recruit troops from our friends and allies for a U.N. protection force. This won't be easy. But even countries that refused to put boots on the ground in Iraq should still help protect the U.N. We should also intensify the training of Iraqis to manage and guard the polling places that need to be opened. Otherwise, U.S forces would end up bearing those burdens alone. If the president would move in this direction, if he would bring in more help from other countries to provide resources and forces, train the Iraqis to provide their own security, develop a reconstruction plan that brings real benefits to the Iraqi people, and take the steps necessary to hold credible elections next year -- we could begin to withdraw U.S. forces starting next summer and realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four years. This is what has to be done. This is what I would do as president today. But we cannot afford to wait until January. President Bush owes it to the American people to tell the truth and put Iraq on the right track. Even more, he owes it to our troops and their families, whose sacrifice is a testament to the best of America. The principles that should guide American policy in Iraq now and in the future are clear: We must make Iraq the world's responsibility, because the world has a stake in the outcome and others should share the burden. We must effectively train Iraqis, because they should be responsible for their own security. We must move forward with reconstruction, because that's essential to stop the spread of terror. And we must help Iraqis achieve a viable government, because it's up to them to run their own country. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home. On May 1 of last year, President Bush stood in front of a now infamous
banner that read "Mission Accomplished." He declared to the American people: "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." In fact, the worst part of the war was just beginning, with the greatest number of American casualties still to come. The president misled, miscalculated, and mismanaged every aspect of this undertaking and he has made the achievement of our objective -- a stable Iraq, secure within its borders, with a representative
government, harder to achieve. In Iraq, this administration's record is filled with bad predictions, inaccurate cost estimates, deceptive statements and errors of judgment of historic proportions. At every critical juncture in Iraq, and in the war on terrorism, the president has made the wrong choice. I have a plan to make America stronger. The president often says that in a post 9/11 world, we can't hesitate to act. I agree. But we should not act just for the sake of acting. I believe we have to act wisely and responsibly. George Bush has no strategy for Iraq. I do. George Bush has not told the truth to the American people about why we went to war and how the war is going. I have and I will continue to do so. I believe the invasion of Iraq has made us less secure and weaker in the war against terrorism. I have a plan to fight a smarter, more effective war on terror -- and make us safer. Today, because of George Bush's policy in Iraq, the world is a more dangerous place for America and Americans. If you share my conviction that we can not go on as we are that we can make America stronger and safer than it is then November 2 is your chance to speak and to be heard. It is not a question of staying the course, but of changing the course. I'm convinced that with the right leadership, we can
create a fresh start and move more effectively to accomplish our goals. Our troops have served with extraordinary courage and commitment. For their sake, and America's sake, we must get this right. We must do everything in our power to complete the mission and make America stronger at home and respected again in the world. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.



Thursday, September 09, 2004


Potent line of attack...

I have been reading the piece in the New Yorker from a few weeks ago about Darfur in the Sudan and have heard a few things about it on the radio. Today Colin Powell called what is going on there genocide. It is a total tradegy, one that most Americans know little about, and one that we are doing very little to stop. It is interesting that we are doing nothing because from what I can tell, up until Darfur blew up, Sudan policy was one of the few success of the Bush Admistration. They were helped by the fact that doing what was right, the interests of the religious right, and the interests of oil companies were all aligned.

But in the Darfur conflict we appear to be lost. Bush has made a few statements condemning it, and Powell droped the Genocide word today, but overall it does not seem like we are doing the right things to prevent it.

Now the question in this year has to get back to what are the politics of this. A few months ago Kerry made some statements talking about Sudan, but it has not been a consistent theme of his campaign. Bush is probably moving to cover his flank with the statements Powell is making, but I doubt he will be able to do much more than that. The fact is that we really can't do much about it. The number one reason that we can't do anything is because all our troops are stuck in Iraq. This should be Kerry's line of attack. Yes, it is unrealistic to do anything, so instead of just saying, "this is horrible, if I were President we would do something about it", say, "This is horrible and we can't do anything about it because our armed forces are stretched thin doing what we need to do in Afganistan and what we foolishly chose to do in Iraq."

The situation is compounded by the ability of the rest of the world to dismiss us. We don't have a credible threat because our troops are all busy. But not only that, we also lack credibility. When Colin Powell makes his statements at the UN the Sudanesse are able to just say that he is lying like the last time he spoke there and told us all there was proof that Iraq had WMD programs. But there is even more. This is the defense of the Sudanesse government given in the New Yorker article:

“In Abu Ghraib, there are violations by the U.S. Army,” he said. “But the
violations are not from the whole Army. The violations are from individuals. You
cannot generalize.” When I asked why Sudan had not complied with American
demands that it disarm the janjaweed, he said, “The United States is facing
those terrorist people in Iraq. Is it possible for the United States to disarm
those criminals? Is it possible for the United States, with all of its
equipment—it is a superpower—to disarm these people in one month, two years?
Danforth stands there in the United States and says, ‘The government of Sudan
has just a few days to control the janjaweed and to stop those attacks.’ If it’s
so easy, why don’t you do it in Iraq?”

The fact that we are not able to take a clear moral highground against these kinds of atrocities is perhaps the biggest casualty of the Iraq war. Our nation is hurting, and more so overseas than at home. It is sad that the foolish policies of the Bush Administration is leading us to be helpless to prevent tens, and perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people to die at the hands of their countrymen. But maybe this trajedy can highlight just how costly the WRONG policies of the Bush Adminstration have been.


Travel...

Something I always enjoy, but don't get to do enough is travel. As I am not writing enough new posts I think that I will be posting some travel stories that I have written in the pasts on this site over the next few weeks.

And if anyone else out there has some travel stories I would be happy to put them up as well. Hopefully it will just be a chance for a lot of different people to share stories and come up with ideas for adventures of their own.


That Liberal Media...

I have been pretty disappointed in the liberal media lately, but the front web page of the Times is pretty favorable to Kerry. The lead story is about Bush flip-flopping on the powers of a National Intelligence director (a sharp change from earlier positions), a story about how behind the number there are a 1000 stories of loss from Iraq, a story about the Assault Weapons Ban (Despite popular support the ban will expire), and even mention of Bush's National Guard days.

By my count Kerry has won every day this week. And the streak will probably continue as the stories about loss in Iraq are going to get a few more days, and the Bush lied about the National Guard story has a few more days to run its course. Maybe the panic of the weekend after the GOP convention was a bit pre-mature.


Thought exercise...

Just imagine how different our politics would be if the President was elected by the people. Imagine if a vote in Massachusetts, Texas, Alabama, or New York was worth the same as a vote in Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Florida. Imagine how it would change the rhetoric if every speech meant to attract a conservative it was also considered how many liberals it would motivate. Imagine the impact it would have on how parties cater to special interests. Imagine what it would do to the Cuban-American lobby. Imagine what it would do to the Coal and Steel lobbies. Just imagine.

I think this far more important than who gets elected this year. We need to change the system, but I am not sure how. Is it possible? Whose interests are threatened? Whose interests are helped? Who could fund this project? What would it take to pass?

This is something worth thinking about that is being almost totally ignored.


Seems about right...

From the NYT: this editorial seems to hit the mark. "A Disgraceful Campaign Speech"

I can't believe how much of a free ride the media gives Cheney on this trash. During the GOP convention there was a story about how the Speaker of the House (a kind of important guy) implied that George Soros got his money from drug cartels. You weren't reading it in the NYT though. Apparently it is par for the course for the people who are running our country to be engage in lies and the lowest levels of rhetoric.


Caught my eye...

This story listed on Planetzien caught my eye. It is from the Denver Post and the headline reads, "Families head inland to better life: Professionals discover job and home satisfaction far from large coastal cities." Perhaps I was being stupid, but I thought that it was going to talk about people moving to smaller cities like Dubuque, IA or Reading, PA. This is something that I have more than a passing interest in.

However the article, while interesting, is telling a different stories. The case studies that it includes are not people moving to really small towns and cities in Colorado, but rather people moving to Denver. And while I am sure this will be a shock to the people of Colorado's self-image, Denver is not a small city. It is a sprawling metroplex just like those large cities on the coast that you want to look down on.

The economic challenges of a place like Cheyenne, WY or Portland, ME are very different from those in Denver. Denver has a large and talented labor pool, it has the finanical and managerial resources to run just about any type of business. In a city that might be a tenth the size of Denver the situation is very different.

One of the points that the article makes is that it is much cheaper to live in Denver than in New York, Boston, LA or SF. And this is certainly true. I will continue to argue that this has more to do with the productivity that comes from having a large number of extremely talented people concentrated in one place. Now if you are an extremely talented person, and are in a situation where you can do your thing in Denver, from an economic point of view it would be silly to stay in those larger cities. However, I think the article illustrates, although does not make clear, that the very expensive cities in the US present opportunities for learning and advancement that are just not present in most other places.

The article states that New York is a great place for young, single people, but does not explain why. It is more than the nightlife and the ability to go to a bar without driving. It is about the density of opportunities. Jobs are forced to provide rapid advancement because each person has so many other options. The labor markets are much more flexible, meaning that as soon as you out grow one job there is another one waiting for you. You can't say the same thing about many economies where your best path is to work your way up a single corporate hierarchy. And even the corporate hierarchies are forced to become more flexible in larger cities where they have to compete with many more employement opportunities.

But the one thing in the article that moved me to write this post is a throw away line at the end where someone is quoted as saying that New York is not a very entrepreneurial city. I can say from experience there is nothing farther from the truth. New York is all about finding your own, new way in the world. From immigrants to investment bankers they are all out there with dreams and designs of running their own operations. It is a city that is seething with small businesses, and many of those businesses have dreams of being so much more. It is a city filled with opportunity and people chasing dreams. So to say, "very few entrepreneurial innovations have happened in big cities. In fact, New York is probably the least entrepreneurial place in the country," is just plain wrong.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Despondent...

Needless to say when those first polls came out after the GOP convention I was pretty despondent. It was mind-boggling that the hate-fest passing for a hopeful vision of America was well-received by Americans. But I think the aftermath of the convention is going to see America start to evaluate all the things that they heard, and I think they will be critical enough to see through the lies.

No matter how much the Administration tries to ignore it, the fact is that Iraq is a disaster. That disaster is going to get its day in the sun today as the coverage will focus on how 1000 Americans have been killed in the conflict. That number would be disturbing if we were winning, but it is becoming more and more clear that we are not. We continue to suffer casualities at an alarming rate, and we are even abandoning control of parts of the country. The GOP convention showed that war will unite America, but you damned well better bet that we should be winning that war. I think that most people are coming around to see that this is a war we are losing.

Then there is the issue of fear. This is one that Kerry might be able to cut right into in the debates, but I am not sure about that. However I think as Dick "The Dick" Cheney is out there saying that America will be less safe under Kerry most people are not going to swallow that hook line and sinker. The Dick is well loved by his constituency, but there is a reason why he is not President. As he gets out there sowing fear I think that people are going to start to see through that and realize that all he is trying to do is make people afraid. But the nail in this coffin would be a wise quoting of "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

But if, in the end, the American people are willing to forget the disaster the last four years have been, and give Bush and Co. another shot at it, I will just be supremely disappointed in America. We are a great nation, but our democracy is very sick. We have a President who did not get more votes than his opponent, and now he is using every trick in the book to try to fool the American people into giving him another four years to screw over this country. American's need to be vigilant about stuff like this, because there is no such thing as the American Exception, and our nation can fall into disorder as easily as another if we don't make sure that the government is representing the will of the people.


Friday, September 03, 2004


Hate...

That is what was on display all week at the GOP convention. They are a morally bankrupt party that uses fear to increase their power, which, as best I can tell, they pursue for the sake of having it. The nation is going to catch on to this ruse eventually. The GOP is going to be brought down in a wave of scandels that will astound America and lead to another round of media and national soul searching about how we could have been so stupid (similar to what went down about the WMD debacle).

I just hope this happens before November. Their display this week was dispicable. They used childish attacks in place of a record from the last four years. They used lies and half truths to smear John Kerry without even mentioning issues like jobs and the environment which are really quite important. How far a cry was this convention from "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

We are a strong nation. The only way we will be brought down by Islamic fantasism is if we allow ourselves to engage with it on its level. Yet that is exactly what Bush and his team seem bent on doing.

There is a great article in the New Yorker from a few weeks ago talking about the lessons from WWI. I could not help but be struck by the similarities with what we are seeing today. In an effort to position themselves rhetorically for "victory" and to not appear to stand down in any way the leaders of the world killed 9 million soldiers in the most futile manner, and created the conditions for WWII. This was after a period of tremendous prosperity and globalization.

I fear that we are being led down that same path today. Tough talk is preferred to smart policy. Nobody seems to be thinking through end results and outcomes. Nobody is making value based decisions based on legitimate possible outcomes. The worst outcome of this thinking is Iraq, but it seems to be getting worse and worse.


Home