Yankee Blog

Saturday, January 31, 2004

A weekly feature...

It is time for what is rapidly becoming a weekly feature here at the Yankee Blog, namely skewering the drivel that David Brooks puts out in his Saturday column. Today Brooks presents the idea that the Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire would dare choose someone who is electable and that for some reason this is bad.

You can imagine how the general arc of the column goes, Kerry was supported because he was electable, Dean catches fire, Dean stumbles, Iowa gets fooled into thinking that Kerry is electable again, and Dean falls while Kerry rises. Among the gems that Brooks presents us along the way is: "Clark seemed so immediately electable to so many Democrats that the day after he announced his candidacy, he shot up toward the top of the national polls. These voters are nothing if not principled, and their primary principle is that they should win. This, after all, is a party of ideas."

Well David...first lets just take a moment to reflect in the irony of a Republican bemoning the lack of discipline to ideas on the other side. OK, after we think for a moment of the huge deficit, the growing spending, the medicare bill, the foreign adventure in Iraq, or new committment to nation building, and the trampling of individual rights I think we can move on. Now let me remind you that the Democratic party is a party of ideas. It is just that there are so many of them that there is real discussion about them. We might contrast this to the personality driven loyalty to George Bush and his "leadership" but I won't push it that far.

The Democrats have a hard time agreeing on anything, but Bush has led them to agreement, namely that just about anyone would be better than Bush as our President. This is not a partisan statement. I am sure that if John McCain were President you would see a very different Democratic Primary Race. The fact is that Bush has managed to so effectively bungle all domestic policy (you see Democrats actually care about the future of our economy and society) while pandering so well to his "base" that most Democrats would vote for a retarded chimp before Bush (as long as Dick Cheney weren't pulling the strings behind that chimp).

But what is really disturbing is the way that Brooks dismisses the ability of Iowa and New Hampshire voters to make an intelligent choice. Besides stating the obvious, which is that beating Bush is an important issue to Democrats this year, Brooks also seems to be saying that Democrats are sheep and are getting it all wrong. The proof of this is, I guess, that people changed their minds? If you look a bit deeper the real proof seems to be just that Dean was leading and Kerry then won. So, basically no matter who won, if electabliity was the issue, then there is something wrong because people are just sheep and more votes went to the winner (I know it makes no sense when I write it, but that is what he seems to be saying).

I firmly believe that the people of Iowa and New Hampshire take learning about the candidates very seriously. I would be interested to see what the vote breakdown was among people who saw a candidate speak. What is lost in all this talk of Kerry not connecting with voters, and Kerry being aloof, is that the people of New Hampshire and Iowa were in the best position to judge that (and had lots of other great choices) and still gave the majority of votes to Kerry. Should I even bother to hope for an intelligent argument from Brooks?

Friday, January 30, 2004

Angry at partisanship...

A few months ago I was very angry at partisanship. Then I got really angry at Bush and have just let it overshadow any ill feelings I have towards excessive partisanship. There will be plenty of time to mend fences when the people on the other side are behaving sanely. Well, a friend of mine thinks the time for action is now. Responding to a DNC email about the stealing of files from the Sentate Judicial Committee he wrote:

Why do the democrats do things like this? I mean, this is a serious, serious allegation. If true, why isn't it all over the news? I fit is all over the news, and I am just oblivious, why don't they link to mainstream websites and provide some objective evidence of the situation? Why don't they actually discuss how the petition will be used? I poked around the rest of democrats.org and everything I saw was exactly like this. I was amazed that even though I agree with almost all of their positions, I found reading the material to be unpalatable due to its lack of even pretend impartiality. For instance, the piece on the judge that Bush appointed, why wouldn't you have links to things like ana analysis of that judge's record on civil rights record? Or congressional hearings where he got rejected last year? Or inform the reader about how and why or why not a president can bypass the confirmation process?

They aren't educating anyone on these issues, just inflaming people who are already convinced - and I don't think they are doing an excellent job of that. On the republican side, this activity is done through the Rush Limbaugh's of the world... This site should have some of the pretend subtlty of Fox News at least "Fair and Balanced."

Agree or disagree?

My roomate in DC (who works in the Senate) and I used to discuss building a new political party (maybe a party, maybe just a wing of the democrats) through a website. One that aligns the values of people like us (fiscal conservatism, socially liberal, anti-corruption, free trade, subsidy reductions). He and I dropped the idea after about a day of straight brainstorming due to philosophical differences. I thought that the site needed to find ways to be self funding (donations, maybe grants, etc.), while he wanted something purer.

Want to do a thought experiment on reviving that project? I don't know what percentage of the world is like minded to you and I, but I get the sense that most of us are fairly disenchanted with politics and that we are even pretty well divided between democrat and republican (e.g., people who are staunch republicans but agree with you or I on almost all of the important issues). I feel like the biggest obsticle to these positions being dominant and centrist is the ability of fringe members of the two parties to polarize the country around relatively minor issues like abortion. Realizing that it is political heresy to call that issue minor, still, despite strong pro-choice sentiments, if I were running for president it would be about issue #987 of the top 1000 I'd want to address.

Is there something out there like this already that I don't know about? Anyway, it is fun to think about, and I think that it might be fun to try some day.

My response to this is first that I agree. The Democratic site could use some improvement. The story did not get the attention it deserves (yet...I hope) because it broke right aruond the Iowa Caucuses and the state of the union, but they still could provide more links. But they are the DNC and partisanship is their job.

There are groups that are trying to rise above the partisanship. The one that I have found most interesting is The Centrist Coaltion, which is trying very hard to not be partisan. One of the problems is that when one party has such a clear leader, and that clear leader is very partisan it is difficult to rise above without looking like you are taking a side. I honestly believe that the GOP has a vested interest in disengaging the majority of the American people from the political process. The less engaged people are the easier it is to serve special interests. It is sad, tragic even, and the Democrats have been very bad at formulating a response to this. Historically the Dems have been as beholden to special interests as the GOP, but I think that is changing. Hopefully the party noticed that the two union guys in Iowa finished 3rd and 4th. I think there is an opportunity to rise above, and while Kerry is not a tremendously engaging person, I have a feeling (or hope) that he is capable of transending the politics as usual.

If you are really interested in the state of affairs of moderate politics in this country I would encourage clicking through some of the links from the Centrist Coalition Blog. What I usually find on those sites is a fear of Dean and a deep feeling that Bush is running this nation with the interests of the hard right in mind. I hope that the Dems can find a way to counter this, because if not we are all in trouble.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


As usual Krugman lays the beat down into Bush. At the end he asks the question: "What has gone wrong with our country that allows this president to get away with such things? " (I trust that without reading the article you can insert a few such things)

It makes me think that maybe the American public was on to something all those years of splitting tickets. Maybe the GOP is just too disciplined a party to be trusted to run two branches of government? It really is a sorry state of affairs we have when a President can resist an investigation into why our intelligence was so bad that we ended up invading a nation on false pretenses. There is something seriously wrong with that, even if you do think that the invasion was justified anyway. Can we please figure out what in hell is going on in our government? Please!

What you need this morning...

Are you just waking up? Got your coffee, your breakfast, all ready to start your day? Maybe you are just looking for a quick break from whatever you are doing at work? Well, have I got the thing for you...it is evidence that the Dean Campaign is going down in flames (I say this without glee, yet with a certain sense of relief). In case you hadn't heard yesterday Dean brought in an old Al Gore hand and out went his campaign manager Joe Trippi. Apparently the Dean Campaign has already spent $35 MM of the $40 MM he has raised and has no wins to show for it. Sounds like a change was due.

I think it would have been better for Dean to just convert his campaign into a Grassroots movement to get rid of Bush, retain some dignity about the whole thing, and pledge to be out there, travelling the country to motivate people to change the direction of America and to take back this country. But I sometimes forget that people have egos. It sounds to me like Dean supporters want to be a part of something that makes a difference. Sure electing a President is one way to do that, but creating an entire wave of new political activists is another, and one that is much more acheivable. I hope that the Democrats are able to find a place for Trippi where he is organizing and innovating, but not controling the purse strings. I hope that Dean is able to find his place in the Democratic party and fully support the goal of getting some sane leadership for this country. Time will tell if I am going to be disappointed in our nation's leaders yet again.

A rant...

Following up on the theme of anger, here is Brad DeLong getting a bit bitter and a lot angry at Bush's economic "management" of the country. The more I read about what is going on here the more confused I get. Seriously, WTF is going on? First Bush advocates tax cuts to reduce the surplus...fine there is a real argument to be made for that. Then we get hit by a recession. Tax cuts to grow out of the recession...OK, but perhaps we should give some thought to the best possible design of tax cuts for economic stimulus. Then, we have a lack of job growth and a growing deficit...more tax cuts. War comes to our nation and a need for some shared sacrafice...the answer: more tax cuts. Then we have where we are today: A huge and growing deficit, growing spending in all parts of government, dreams of huge national and international projects being thrown around and what do we get...tax cuts...and vague promises of caps on domestic discretionary spending with little mention of what exactly those caps will be.

It just boggles the mind. Today there is an article in the New York Times that Bush is going to propose increases in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. What?! This is the farthest thing from conservatism possible. It is a modest amount of money that we are talking about, but for years the NEA has been a political hot potato. And now, mere weeks after making noises about cutting spending Bush is proposing an increase in spending on a group that is so far from the Republican mainstream they might as well be funding abortion clinics. It would be laughable if it were not so sad. As Brad DeLong describes, these people are making a complete and total mess of everything, not by design, but just by being a kid at the controls, a bull in a china shop, a drunk behind the wheel, etc., etc. etc.

They must be stopped before I have to pay the taxes to bail this nation out in 15-20 years!

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre of Blog posts...

Read this post about New Hampshire and other things. It is such a gory savaging of everything that you cannot look away. Read it.

One last thing...

If you want some evidence why the 2004 election is winnable for the Democrats look no further than this article in the NYT with the headline "9/11 Commission Says It Needs More Time to Complete Inquiry." Apparently the GOP leadership thinks that they don't deserve more time. Let me lay out the logic here. Our nation is at war according to the Commander in Chief. We are at war because we were attacked. Yet rather than find out how that attack happenend we are going to first delay, then stop an investigation. Is the GOP entering the business of gift wrapping elections for the Democrats?

Afganistan and politics...

I read the article Pedro recommended and it really sounds like things are not going so great in Afganistan. My question is can Bush somehow keep this off the front pages for the 10 months until the November election. This is his big victory in the War on terrorism (capital W), and if it is spoiled in the eyes of the American public it will cast further doubt on his ability to really make the US safer. Bush already can't say "Osama Bin Laden", what happens when he can't say "Afganistan" or "Taliban"?

As for today, thanks to bombings in Iraq, the New Hampshire primary, the Super Bowl, and a Northeast snow storm the news about a bombing in Afganistan is far from showing up on any front page. Keep reminding us that what happens in Afganistan matters!

The state of the race...

It appears that Kerry has taken a commanding position in the race to send Bush packing. I know that some people are looking at the result and saying that Dean finished a comfortable second and is still in this. I think that is flat out wrong. Dean didn't win in two states where people have had the chance to get behind him, and where his army of volunteers have been at work for months. The only drama left in this race is can Edwards, Dean, or even (fat chance) Lieberman generate any momentum next week in the South and Midwest. I think that the Democrats in those states are going to look at Iowa and NH and realize that Kerry has something going and will stick with him...but I could be wrong.

While I am not giddy about Kerry, I do think that he has the stuff to beat Bush. I was talking to a friend of mine in New Hampshire last night and she made a great point. She thinks that the troops coming home from Iraq soon are going to be a factor in this election (the troops are coming home due to year-long rotations, not because we are abandoning Iraq...just yet). These troops have been over there for a year and realize that the task ahead of us is daunting. They are proud of th job that they did, but are keenly aware that there has been a lot of propaganda put out around this war. And if there is one thing I think John Kerry will be good at is giving a voice to these troops. He has been there, he has come back from war and realized that you can speak out against your government while still being proud of your service. And, as with all the candidates Kerry is smart enough to tear Bush to shreds in a debate.

Another interesting dynamic is what is going to happen to Dean's volunteer army. I think he did a great thing by bringing so many people into the process. It appears that the other candidates have copied Dean and become more effective at organizing online. I hope that Kerry is able to keep the Dean army motivated and engaged in this election. Beating Bush is really the ultimate goal, and I hope that Dean is able to engage in that process even if he is not the nominee. The sooner Dean and the Democrats can prepare for that transition the better off we are going to be through the summer and fall.

Finally, let me add a link to this post. Last night one of my new favorite blogs, the Decembrist, had a post speculating that Cheney is going to be dumped. There are certain aspects of this that I think are very valid, Cheney is not going to help Bush win. But the question is who else? I put some thoughts in a comment (you can read it over there). It would certainly radically alter the dynamic of the race if it is not Bush/Cheney but Bush/(someone less loathsome). I don't know what are the signs to watch if this is coming, but I would expect it to break sometime in mid-Spring if it is going to happen. If Bush is lagging in the polls I would not be surprised if the switch is made.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

A place holder...

I will do some posting later or tomorrow, with some news expected out of New Hampshire. In the meantime Drezner is getting into outsourcing, and you know that I have something to add. My comment follows, but I want to first put up a link to a Wired article on outsourcingthat I will be reading soon (right after I read Pedro's linked article):

I don't think that stopping outsourcing is a solution, but one has to look at what is happening and acknowledge that there are policies that can help the situation.

While David Thomson (and others) believe that each person's problems are their own, in reality we are not islands. Each person lives in the context of a society. We are all better off when that society is working properly. And one aspect of it working is to try to make sure that people are not suffering. Suffering leads to anger, which leads to conflict, which can harm society, which then harms each individual.

So what can be done to help smooth the changes that outsourcing is leading to? I think that one thing is to not have government redirecting resources towards those already benefiting from economic trends. So less tax cuts for the wealthy and for capital, they are doing fine right now (I am not advocating upping tax rates, just a return to the level a few years ago that still allowed for ample...some might say too much...investment).

Another thing is job training. This is often seen as a silver bullet solution, but it is not. I think right now we are doing fine on this front, let's just not start cutting (see current budget for example of that).

Another element of helping is to make sure that nations that are benefiting from outsourcing are pursuing policies that protect what we do well. Creative industries lose billions of dollars a year from piracy in Asia. Since we are playing nice, these countries should play nice. More money spent on our products means more jobs for people to make those products...it is pretty simple.

I don't think this is a comprehensive list, but it is a start. I am sure there are other great ideas out there.

If you are at all interested in what's happening in Afghanistan, you have got to read this article by Ahmed Rashid in the latest edition of the NY Review of Books.

He's a highly-respected Pakistani journalist who closely covered the Taliban during their rise in 1994 and 1995. His book, Taliban, is easily the best on the subject. So when he has something to say, it's worth listening to. I hope to have more comments about this article soon, but in the meantime, I urge everyone to go read it.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Breaking news from the western side of Kabul:

About 30 minutes ago there was a suicide attack on an ISAF vehicle on our
street (Darulaman) between here and the palace, near the old Russian
embassy.  Two ISAF soldiers were killed (not sure what nationality yet),
and some other soldiers and pedestrians injured.  The only thing left of
the suicide bomber was his feet.  This according to Baba Jan, who went to
check it out.  I didn't hear the explosion.

Assuming this is true (and I expect it is), this is the first real suicide attack in the capital since last June. There has been lots of noise recently about attacks to come (some Taliban spokesman claimed they had dispatched scores of bombers to Kabul), but no evidence that this was actually the case.

Let's hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Long delayed...

A couple of weeks ago the discussion about the organization of sport and specifically how it relates to the emerging organization of Ultimate Frisbee in the US bubbled up to the surface on this blog. This was coming out of a board member of the Ultimate Players Association, Jim Parinella, noticing what I had written over the summer about the organization of sport. Jim responded to my post of January 8th with this letter, split up into different parts(Thank you for permission to put this up):

First, regarding another post of yours about the organization of pro leagues in Europe and the US (Promotion and something). There is no free agency in Europe, is there, or what there is is very limited. If the promotion system existed in the US, we'd probably see shorter term contracts, and free-agency eligible players on teams about to be demoted would probably jump ship to another established team. They would also be less likely to sign with teams on the bubble for fear of being relegated to the minors through no fault of their own. As an aside, Bill James posited the reformation of organized baseball into such a scheme, in one of his yearly abstracts (I think it was the final own, 1988 or so). Dissolve all teams, start over with eight-team leagues all over the country (however many leagues wanted to form). Every year, the All-Star team would be promoted to the next league, and in about 10 years, you'd have a new major leagues with the best players. In his historical abstract, he tracks the independence of the minor leagues over time (they were completely independent entities at first, developed relationships over time with certain big league clubs, eventually became the autonomous property of the big league clubs, and now are 99% serfs, as they can lose their best players to the big leagues on Sept 1 even if they're in the middle of a pennant race).

Before we get into the Frisbee stuff, I understand that there is free agency in European Soccer. Contracts are typically signed for extended periods of time, but when they do expire I believe a player is free to sign wherever they want (or can refuse to sign with the club that owns them and thus get a "free transfer"). But the most common way that a player moves is on the transfer market, where a contract is purchased by one club from another. Interestingly trades are very rare, which leads into an entirely different discussion, so let me get back to the real topic at hand.

Regarding baseball, Bill James' idea is very interesting. As I think I pointed out in my earlier piece the biggest barrier to making that work would be geography. The US is just so big that you need a certain scale to make a national league work. This creates all kinds of problems related to re-shuffling the deck in terms of promotion and relegation. There are ways to address these problems, but it requires real organization, and once the organization is there I think the temptation to close the system sets in, and that is where we are today. While promotion/relegation is incredibly interesting, I think that there is no way you will see an existing closed league ever adopt it. OK...back to Jim and Frisbee

Back to Frisbee, I've thought about Frisbee organization for a long time. This was written in 1994, after DoG's first Nationals win. I don't necessarily agree with everything I wrote then, and I may have a factual error or two, but I stand by it.

To some extent, DoG is a "club." We add some players more with an eye on "down the road" than with what they can do today, and players come on to the team knowing that they won't play much at Nationals. However, there is a big difference between being in uniform and playing a little, and sitting at home following Nationals on the Internet. Additionally, every player always thinks he can move up the ladder enough during the season to earn more playing time, whereas a "club" would form its official rosters too early for this to happen. (Presently, our roster is practically finalized in August and officially finalized at Sectionals (~Sept 15), which leaves a lot of time for players to move up or down before Nationals. If we had to pare the roster down in August and decide who was on A and who was on B, that would change the dynamic.) The players who are on the bubble do get good competitive experience, but it happens in the practices, not in the tournaments (except for the ones where we take a small squad or split into two teams). The way that they get their competitive tournament experience is to play recreational (summer league) and semi-recreational (off-season tournaments like Fools or Terminus or Tempe or Kaimana or ...) events.

One of the benefits of the club would be that the team could send a A-/B+ team to a less-competitive tournament while the top half of A practices with the bottom half of B (or some similar arrangement). The club could also send a combo team to a competitive far-away tournament while still having enough left behind to practice. And lower-level players could spend part or all of some practices with the big team without being completely lost as to what is going on with plays and schemes.

I guess the way that this would happen would be for the present A and B captains to get together to develop a combo team that doesn't leave the other players out in the cold. They would probably have to appoint a (paid?) non-playing coach and possibly a coaching staff, and would probably have to work with BUDA to sanction the team. I agree in principle about the fields, but don't think that would work in reality here unless there was a whole complex in a good location (say one of the colleges opened up their prime fields and facilities to the entity). It's possible that it would also work if the ability to get a field here became much worse. Now, it's a little bit of a pain to get fields, and we usually end up practicing on less than perfect fields, but that's preferable to having better fields but losing our autonomy. If the fields were a lot better, and we were relegated to crappier or expensive fields, that might tip the scales, but with the current status, the field situation wouldn't be enough.

Now would be the right time to begin something like this, since I suspect that something significant might be happening. Historically, not just in Boston but in other cities as well, this is the spot in the cycle where the top team takes on a new look. It's possible that nothing significant will happen this year, just because I'm not really sure that there are any revolutionaries in the position to make it happen, but the environment is certainly favorable for change NOW.

I am hoping that Pedro is willing to participate in this discussion. This is something that he is actually very knowledgeable on. I am not in a position to respond to Jim's points regarding the optimal structure of club for the purposes of developing players. Perhaps Pedro can add to that discussion, but I am not going to pretend to have anything to add to the thoughts of a multiple national and world champion.

I will be more bold regarding the issue with fields and establishing a club structure. I think the point Jim makes about fields is very valid. Field space is hard to find, and typically the only groups that have access to a lot of fields are colleges. And they have those fields so that the college students can use them. However I think if there was a group that was put together in such a way as to be able to demonstrate that they were able to accommodate the interests of a broad swath of the population a local government might be able to provide such field space.

I think the trick is that there needs to be an organization that can make a good case to City Council, Regional Parks Authority or some such body that it makes sense to have some field space dedicated to an Ultimate Frisbee club and allocated by that club (within some limits). One concern of the local authority is that fields are taken care of. I think that giving a long-term lease on the field space to a group would make this happen. But the question still is why should they encourage the growth of an Ultimate Club. Here I would refer to another piece I wrote in the late summer about Ultimate Frisbee and the Creative Class. The point I was making in that post is that a thriving Ultimate community can be a way of creating community among transient, high-skilled workers, thus making a place friendlier and more appealing.

I do believe that a great case could be made about the benefits of having a semi-independent ultimate association with social leagues and high-level teams being subsidized by a local authority. An issue here is to find the right local authority. Boston is difficult because there is no authority that is at the right level to really care about making this happen. A lobbying effort at the City Council level would be a good start, but the MDC (now called the Division for Urban Parks and Recreation, essentially the Parks Authority for the Metropolitan Area) is the group to make this happen, and it looks like they are accountable to the State Government, which has a lot of other issues to be concerned with.

There might be foundations that would be willing to put some money behind this, like the Boston Foundation. These groups are becoming increasingly concerned about the loss of young people from the area (I don't think rightly, but hey...take what you can get). They have deep pockets and could probably be convinced to put some money alongside the State Government in finding and developing field resources in the area. In the end I think there are really ways to make this happen. But it does require new alliances in the Ultimate Community. If that happens then perhaps the right voice can be found with the people in power to enable the conditions to reorganize the rest of the sport. This is all very interesting to talk about, but it would be even more interesting to make happen. After all Howard Dean got his start by putting in a Bike Path in Burlington, VT.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Is this ironic...

For some reason I continue to read David Brooks' columns. And they continue to...well...suck is a pretty good word. Brooks' starts this week by making some good points about Kerry taking some risks in what he says in speeches. Then the kicker according to Brooks is that Kerry just does not follow through. Ergo, Kerry is inferior to...get this...John McCain.

Well, I saw McCain on the Daily Show this week and I might take a serious look at McCain if he were running. But he is not. George Bush is who Kerry is trying to run against. And there is no better example of not following through on what he says than Bush. Surely even Brooks knows this. Just one example: Last year in the State of the Union Bush promised $15 BN in funding for AIDS programs worldwide, according to a professional I know working in international AIDS prevention the follow-through has been zero. And don't even get me started on all those statements regarding Sadaam's WMDs (er...I mean Weapons of Mass Destruction related programs).

Friday, January 23, 2004

Great article...

There is a very good article in the Weekly Standard about why we did not use Special Forces against Al Qaeda before 9/11. It is about what you'd expect (i.e. Pentagon culture, lack of civilian authority), but still interestings. One quibble I have is that if you are going to talk about a lack of action against Bin Laden there should be some acknowledgement of the cruise missles that we sent into Afganistan. And then if you acknowledge that some action was taken, perhaps you could look at the response to that (i.e. that Clinton was creating a sideshow from his impeachment trial). And once you start to understand the GOP response to Clinton's action you can see how rather than Democrats being "un-patriotic" in not supporting a President in battle, it is an issue where the GOP was not even willing to acknowledge that Clinton was trying to fight some real battles with real enemies.

The GOP always talks about Clinton's moral shortcomings, but the real problem is the environment of hate and fear that the GOP created with their constant attacks on Clinton. They were much more interested in creating sideshows than letting the elected President address real issues that matter. That was probably because they knew that Clinton would come up with real solutions to those issues, solutions that the GOP would have a hard time disagreeing with. So instead they limited Clinton's ability to do so. It is sad. And now we have someone who displays little interest in finding new, positive solutions to our nations problems. Instead choosing policies that create the best sound-bites. I think we deserve better.

The Sport...

Even though there was a debate last night, and I did kind of watch it, I think that I will spend sometime this morning providing a run down of some sport news.

Perhaps the most shocking news in sport is the death of the coach of the Victorian State Cricket Team. Honestly I had not heard of this guy before he was beaten to death. And the first accounts I read were that he was hurt trying to break up a bar fight. However this post by Michael Jennings on Ubersportingpundit tells the full story. Apparently it was not a fight he was breaking up, but rather he was attacked by bouncers. And what made the story more personal is that the bar this happened at is about a kilometer from where I lived in St. Kilda. I have been to the place, I liked it, but even if I do back to Oz, I don't think I will be back at the Beaconsfield for a Sunday session.

Also in Cricket, Australia and India continue to battle it out in the VB series of 1-day internationals. Zimbabwe is there as well, but they don't seem to be bothering anyone much. The entire affair is not terribly riveting. They play a best of three final that might increase the intensity (don't laugh).

Football transfer news has been heating up as well. The transfer of Brian McBride to Fulham became official this week, meaning that Fulham now has two US national team players on their squad full-time, and a special place in my heart. I probably would abandon Manchester United for them if it was not for Tim Howard being on United. Also there are rumors floating around that Landon Donovan is headed to Portsmouth on a loan until the MLS season starts. I think this would be a fantastic move to lay the groundwork for an eventual transfer to England. The thing with Donovan is that he is under contract to Bayer Leverkusen, and they loan him to the MLS. I am not sure how long his contract runs for, but you can bet that they are going to want something significant if they are ever going to let him go on something other than a loan.

And finally, Clint Mathis found a team. He is going to be playing in Germany, which will lead me to promptly forget who he is. Maybe this will turn him into a great player. My guess is that it will make him some money while younger US players get better than him for the next World Cup. Too bad too because he seemed to have the right personality to sell US soccer.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

While I'm at it...

Here is another good blog, belonging to one of the dwindling number of sane moderates left on Drezner's comments section. It is also worth a read.

Check it...

Lately I have been a bit partisan, but I really just think that Bush and the conservative Republicans are leading our nation in a wrong direction. It is not Republicans I have a problem with. And this is why I think I like this organization. Hopefully they will help lead our nation back towards the middle. And while you are checking them out take a read through their blog.


My post below quoted an article. I just finished it, and I want to urge you to read it. It is written by someone I know, Richard Florida of "Creative Class" fame. While I think that he can overstate the importance of the creative class to economic development I think that his analysis of politics in the US is spot-on. So please, just read it.

And my question of the day is, "Is there any rational reason to support President Bush (not Republicans in general) aside from uncertainty about what electing someone else would do to our nation's security?" I feel like I am losing touch with the majority of America.

A comment...

Dan Drezner put up a post saying that America's soft power is as strong as ever. Only problem was that his post was all about corporations and not about perceptions of the American people. That led me to post this comment:

After seeing Josephy Nye speak last year was under the impression that "soft" power went beyond if people are buying our products. I thought that true "soft" power is about being a nation other nations and people aspire to be like, rather than just being a nation that can sell products to the rest of the world. I think that definition jibes with some of the links back in the post.

And while this not solid data, I spent some time reading responses to the state of the union from around the world, and it certainly does not look like we are the envy of the world right now. They are more afraid than envious.

Of course that was met with the expected comments that America is super-strong and our enemies know that we mean business, and thank god we have a fearless leader willing to stand up to our enemies (blah, blah, blah). That led me to post another comment, which I am sure I will get similarly slammed for, but I had to do. I hope to have the strength to just ignore the inevitable attacks that I am a lily-livered Osama lover, but I am not sure I have that in me. Anyway, here are my real thoughts on the hard power vs. soft power debate:

When I put out that definition of soft power I was not making a value judgement. I think that soft power is great, but so is hard power. What I really feel is that we need the right mix of the two. I think that what many of the "us vs. them" views of the US and Western Europe miss is that we could have a very effective division of labor between us and W. Europe if we were actually working together with Europe more effectively.

I am not sure if that division of labor is entirely in our best interests because we need some amount of soft power (especially to keep our economy strong), but it probably would be a good thing for world stability. This would hopefully encourage situations to have nations like Libya go to Western Europe and say things like, "protect us from the US, we will work with you to make sure the US will not see us as a threat." Some of this is happening and it is very encouraging.

However, I think that we can go overboard in our quest for absolute security. I think (and I will probably get flamed for saying this) that we should be willing to accept some risk in the name of being an open and free society.

Some here put forward that people who speak against America are irrational and that in reality they all want to move to the US. However according to an article I just read, "A recent study by the National Science Board found that the U.S. government issued 74,000 visas for immigrants to work in science and technology in 2002, down from 166,000 in 2001 – an astonishing drop of 55 percent." This is due in part to the collapse of the tech bubble and increasing outsourcing, but it is also the exact kind of stat that would indicate we are losing favor.

In that same article (link below) the author writes: "But having talked to hundreds of talented professionals in a half dozen countries over the past year, I'm convinced that the biggest reason [for the decline in visa applications] has to do with the changed political and policy landscape in Washington. In the 1990s, the federal government focused on expanding America's human capital and interconnectedness to the world – crafting international trade agreements, investing in cutting edge R&D, subsidizing higher education and public access to the Internet, and encouraging immigration. But in the last three years, the government's attention and resources have shifted to older sectors of the economy, with tariff protection and subsidies to extractive industries. Meanwhile, Washington has stunned scientists across the world with its disregard for consensus scientific views when those views conflict with the interests of favored sectors (as has been the case with the issue of global climate change). Most of all, in the wake of 9/11, Washington has inspired the fury of the world, especially of its educated classes, with its my-way-or-the-highway foreign policy. In effect, for the first time in our history, we're saying to highly mobile and very finicky global talent, "You don't belong here." "

Now I am not entirely convinced by this argument, but I think it is something to bear in mind. I am sure this perception of the US is not universally true, but it is one that I find surprising having spent a significant time abroad recently.

In the end, while our "hard" power President might play well at home, and might even be the best way for us to be safe, we should also be mindful of the trade-offs we are making. It is my belief (and here I am just guessing so disagreement will not offend me) that a less aggresive approach towards every threat (i.e. passing on the opportunity to invade Iraq, still invading Afganistan) might not make that large a difference in our security and might enhance our "soft" power which will pay dividends in the future.

BTW: The article is at: http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=17576
I found it by accident and make no claims about the reliability of it as I have not had a chance to look into the authors background...heck I haven't even finished the thing myself, it just had a good stat and passage in it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


Calpundit apparently decided a SOTU diary was a good idea as well. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, given that he was watching the same speech, but he makes many of the same points as me.

Also, saw Jon Stewart on NBC News. It was not nearly as funny as Brokaw on the Daily Show.

And oh boy did Nancy Pelosi suck. Hopefully that will be the last we hear of her until after November. Daishle (sp?) was much better, but probably most people had shut off their TVs by then.

My State of the Union diary...

As the Sports Guy does diaries of the NBA draft, here at the Yankee Blog we will have a diary of the State of the Union address. Hopefully I will be able to keep up with what is going on. If not, well there will be either little in the diary or little that I will pay attention to in the speech (I am not sure what is worst). BTW: I am watching the speech on CNN.

9:02 - Just dealing with the prelude...I am nervous that I might break the TV if Bush says something excessively smarmy.

9:03 - Apparently we are going to hear that things are going well in Iraq tonight. I would recommend that Bush stop his media boycott and read this piece from the Washington Post today.

9:05 - Did I mention yet that Dick Cheney creeps me out more than any other person with power greater than a store manager. This guy scares me.

9:06 - Bush enters...I am told that this is a bi-partisan moment. I am not worried...Bush will ruin that within moments of opening his mouth. My over-under guess is 2 minutes from first word.

9:07 - Bill Frist also creeps me out...not in the same way Cheney does...that guy is in a class all his own.

9:08 - More creepy Cheney...you have to wonder what it would take for Bush to ditch him? There is the smarmy grin..get it together man, you have done this before.

9:09 - Gavel...intro...more of that grin...but not from Teddy Kennedy (who looked large and in charge at Kerry's speech last night...that can't be a good thing)

9:10 - First words. The clock is ticking. We are rising to meet great responsibilities...to everyone except future generations. Oh...I forgot about the ovation interruptions, can I double my estimate.

9:11 - Terrorism and fear...what a surprise...but not partisan...oh there it is, the tax cuts are "working". I was right it is 9:12, two minutes. Now we are raising standards for schools and giving medicare....at least Teddy K isn't taking this trash seriously. Who is paying for all this.

9:13 - Old policies and old divisions. That is your department buddy! We are "Competent and Strong", can I add not thanks to you.

9:14 - First 9/11 reference, more fear mongering. Can we look to what we can do, rather than what threatens us? And is it even possible to defeat terrorists? Maybe we can stop them, but defeat?

9:16 - Awkward applause at Patriot Act expiration...over-confident grin from some creepy white guy. I will miss the way Bush concentrates on pronouncing the names of foreign terrorists. I can't critisize him for it, it is hard to say some of those names. But he can't say Osama bin Laden...maybe that is a speech impediment because he doesn't even try.

9:18 - Also can't get on him for the nuclear prononciation...I don't even know if I can spell it right. (the CNN text tells me I got it right on the first try). Afganistan...all good stuff. It is hard, but I think we are making a good effort there, and Bush is doing a good job.

9:19 - "the people of Iraq are free"...well at least for now. Right up until we realize that being in Iraq is really hard, and that factions are fighting, and we leave them with a half-baked government.

9:20 - Phone call...tivo pause of speech...all times are delayed by about two minutes.

9:21 - Is he happy there is a continuing danger in Iraq? Why not say the name, "Sadaam Hussein"? That one is easy to pronounce.

9:22 - There...he said the name...he was saving it, not sure if it was worth the effect.

9:23 - Head of the Iraqi Governing Council doesn't look too impressed. Apparently the black and white reasoning of the President of the US does not impress her.

9:24 - Opps...the woman shown was not head of the Iraqi council. But the guy who is seems to enjoy the ovation he is getting. Now if only his people would support him as well maybe we could get somewhere with this Iraq problem

9:25 - Libya - That was a big win for the Bush administration, and I have to give him credit for it. It is definitely the best example of what I hoped invading Iraq would lead to. I can't even disagree with his logic that it was due in part to invading Iraq.

9:26 - Do you think the people in the room get tired of getting up all the time and then sitting back down? Do you think the standing ovations and sitting ovations are choreographed?

9:28 - Wow...he mentioned the carrier. I am somewhat surprised. He will give the resources to win the war on terror...but then turn his back on veterans? What happens when peole start to do what he did and bug out from the military when the going gets tough?

9:30 - War, War, War. Oh...Dick Cheney is completely creeping me out...he makes Rumsfeld look good.

9:31 - Consequences of leaving Sadaam in power...what WMD programs? Where were they? What is he talking about? Does he even care about the truth? Then the seamless transition to killing fields. Not the same thing.

9:32 - Wow...Hillary looks really excited to be sitting through this speech. As miserable as this is for me, it is clearly a million times worse for her. And she really looks unhappy about the sitting and standing thing.

9:33 - He is trumpting our alliance with Norway and El Salvador. Well, we are in safe hands with friends like those. The Joint Chiefs seem challenged by the sitting and standing thing...has to be hard when you are in the front row. And let me say...we don't need a permission slip to defend ourselves, but was Sadaam really a threat to us...seriously man who writes this stuff.

9:35 - Positive things said about freedom in the Middle East. I have to say that this is good stuff, and certainly about time that it was said. First thing about money, and doubling what I am sure is a miniscule budget for Arabic radio is probably a great investment.

9:36 - No ambitions of empire...I believe it, but does the rest of the world. Especially when he starts talking about a "special calling" Even if that calling is freedom, that language turns off the world.

9:37 - List of things that sucked in the last three years...thank god tax cuts saved us from all of that. Death tax...please. Why is he pretending that the tax cut was a fair distribution across the nation. The only smart thing he did was give a token to all Americans so that he could continue these lies.

9:38 - Manufacturing growing...after a huge collapse. Exports climbing...because the dollar is in the toilet. Americans using money better than government...only government is still using the money, except they are borrowing it from future generations.

9:39 - He is talking about job training...to bad he is cutting funding for that. Now on to education...apparently by passing a law that people learn you can make it so. And if you test they will learn...makes sense to me.

9:40 - Jeb Bush's son (I think that is who it is) looks bored. I feel your pain man.

9:41 - Apparently education sucked before Bush showed up. We are so lucky to have him. Laura Bush looks like she has to go to the bathroom. I have been there, it really sucks when you have to go and it would be incredibly awkward if you got up.

9:42 - People who are not professional teachers can do a better job than teachers...sure. Why the standing ovation for Community Colleges? Was I missing when that became a GOP issue? If it is then put another check in their column because CCs are very good for worker training.

9:43 - Apparently the only tax cuts were related to marriage, small business, estate taxes. Notable division in the chamber over this one.

9:45 - You think they put that frivolous law suit line in after Edward's performance last night?

9:46 - " We shoudl be good stewards of tax payers dollars" But what about the dollars that I am going to earn tomorrow? Sure, take care of people today, but we don't have to worry about the people in the future?

9:47 - Cut the deficit in half over the next five years. Is that the deficit that you gave us? I hope you can pull that off. Now on to immigration...I like him when he talks about this...curious to see if the applause gets anywhere near Social Security? Nope...lukewarm applause, I will give him credit if he gets anything effective done on this front. It will probably end up being a sucky bill that he will take credit for.

9:49 - Medicare...I am so tuned out on this issue.

9:50 - Still on Medicare...that reminds me...where is all the Space nonsense? It will be interesting to see if the GOP is able to take that stuff seriously. Still on Medicare...Kennedy is unimpressed, I guess that I should be as well. What is this thing about health care coverage choice? Isn't it that either people try to save your life or they don't? What is the choice, to buy your own insurance or deal with the government's crappy coverage?

9:52 - More law suits. For some reason Hillary is amused.

9:53 - Did he just say that health insurance is 100% deductable? I might be able to support that. But clearly Charles Rangel can't. Is he asleep?

9:54 - Is this thing going to be over soon? Probably, he is talking about churches as pillars of civilization. On to Drug War...people in the audience really seem tired of this one. Is he talking about Drug testing in schools? Aren't there still civil liberties in this country?

9:56 - Finally something important...performance enhancing drugs in sports. This is a clear win isue, but it doesn't seem like Tom Brady is too excited. WTF! I just realized that I might have misjudged this Brady guy. I really liked him, but if he thinks all this Bush crap is gold, maybe I should realize that he is just a guy good at throwing a ball and figuring out where to throw it.

9:58 - I think I missed something on absetance (sp?). On to Marriage...and he brings Clinton in here to soften his position. It is always dangerous for Bush to get on judges and their "arbitrary will" since it was that "arbitrary will" that put Bush in office. I like how Santorum is the poster boy for the anti-gay arguments.

10:00 - Faith-based stuff...he kind of stumbled on this one. I suppose I should get annoyed about this, but for some reason I am tired of getting annoyed. Where is the space stuff?

10:01 - Prison re-entry into society. This is absolutely critical in some places, and it deserves an ovation from the entire house. When he gets to talk about issues like this it makes me wonder what the heck is going on with the Dems that they can't start taking some initative and talking about innovative policies. Is there a law against Democrats putting issues on the agenda?

10:03 - I think he is making up this thing about a 2 year old writing a letter. The troops all look thrilled that Ashley Pearson believes in them. I am reminded of a near brawl that I saw on a train the other night between two people. One was a foul mouthed Marine screaming that he was going to kill some guy for being a pussy. It sounded like the guy trying to ignore the crazy guy was an Army Paratrooper. The crazy guy said he was on two week leave from Iraq. It was really very sad, clearly the guy was under a huge amount of stress.

10:06 - Oops...I missed the big end with my story. I don't think he did that space thing...well, that is probably for the best. After all it even got my Dad annoyed, and he generally ignores most of the political nonsense. I think I will end this diary, even though I am sure that the media spin will piss me off even more than the President's speech.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Quick Thoughts...

I have not posted today, I have not followed up on the article in the Globe about Electoral Geography, I have not followed up on the organization of sport, and I will not be posting again until late tomorrow. I am a bad blogger (but at least I am more on top of things that Pedro...where are you? We worry when we get no news).

The least I could do is provide some quick thoughts on Iowa. I am excited. I know that Clark is probably not helped by this, and he is my man, but I think that Kerry and Edwards are both people who can also win the election. And just as I thought that Dean was not such a horrible guy, he is just about gone (at least I think he is...he was all about momentum, without it he is more than likely done). Edwards is definitely the surprise of the night, I was wondering a few weeks ago why he was tilting at windmills, but I have been proven wrong. But Kerry still won...and won big. Just today I was hearing at work about someone who knows enough to select candidates based on meetings. For that person Kerry was the man. He might be a bit stiffer in front of a crowd (although I really think this is overstated) but apparently people like him.

Bush was definitely helped in the 2000 election by the fact that he was able to get along with the press, while Gore was the distant, adversarial figure. It will definitely help in 2004 if the tables are turned on that. It will be very difficult for Bush to endear himself to the press again, especially while trying to run the country (to the extent he actually does that). While a challenger will have all the time in the world to be a good guy. It seems like Dean is more in the business of pissing people off than making friends. He can tap into anger, but he is struggling to articulate a vision of the future. That is what Iowans voted for. Gephardt plays to a vision of the past, Dean plays to an anger against the present, but Kerry and Edwards talk about the future, and how it can, and should be better than where we are headed.

Democrats need to be about hope for a better tomorrow. As long as we have candidates who can sell that, we will be fine. The best thing about tonight is that no matter what Bush wasn't going to win. Tomorrow night will be his night, but tonight is not. And I am happy just for that.

One last thing, how many debates do you think that Bush will agree to? Kerry or Edwards both look like they will just destroy Bush when it comes to articulating a vision for the future of America. Bush will be talking about wars against our enemies, the Democrats will be talking about a future that is not about war. Bush will try to talk about the economy, Democrats will talk about fairness, health care, and corporate scandels. I am excited for the election just to see Bush flail around trying to defend himself, or squirm as his team tries to minimize the debates and the importance of them to the country. I can only hope that either helps America recognize the true George W Bush.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Who is running this show...

I have said in the past that my favorite candidate is Wesley Clark. I have explained the reasons many times, and you can just look at the post below for a few of them. But the thing about the Clark campaign is that I have not been too impressed with the others supporting Clark. First their was Madonna. I would rather Madonna support Clark than anyone else, but they made a big deal about the support of someone who has not been much of a presence in politcal issues. Yesterday they picked up the endorsement of someone who is a presence in the nation's political dialogue, and not always in a positive manner...Michael Moore.

Michael Moore first gained famed with his documentary, "Roger and Me." This film did a great job showing what can happen to a town when the major employers close their doors. But it was pretty short on solutions. It was great at putting blame at the feet of GM execs for being incompentent, but the fact that was not addressed was that GM was making crappy products, people weren't buying those crappy products since they were offered better products, and there was no reason to pay a lot of people a lot of money to make a crappy product that no one wanted to buy.

Recently Moore has gained a lot more fame with his blame-game. Most notably he won an Oscar for his film, "Bowling for Columbine" which searched for reasons why two kids took a pile of guns into a Colorado High School and started shooting people. This was a far better film, doing a remarkable job putting to film an issue that is very complex. The conclusion was that we were living in a culture of fear, a fear that is driving guns into our houses and lives. Moore is not against guns, he was disturbed with our nation's increasingly adversarial culture where neighbors are fearing neighbors.

There was some blaming going on in Bowling for Columbine, but it was directed at the media and our leaders who lack the courage to bring us together as a nation. However a long with the movie was the book "Stupid White Men" and a speaking tour (including a month-long engagement in London that I saw). I did not read the book, but his one-man diatribe was all about blame. Some was good, I still think that he can develop some incredible insights. But he also blamed the Columbine parents and rescuers for not charging right into the school, he said that all invading Iraq was about was control of oil supplies, and he thought that our problems with consumerism could be helped by cutting in half our store loyalty cards. After seeing his show I wrote him this letter (which he probably never read and certainly didn't reply to):

Dear Mike:

I just saw your show last night and it was everything I thought it would be. It made me laugh, it made me think, and it was worth what I paid (a lot I might add). There was much that I agreed with: loyalty cards should be destroyed (even though I understand the logic behind them, they certainly help the company more than the customer), 3 billion people should not be without clean drinking water, Americans should not be without health care, and Brits do learn more about the world than Americans (I was going to doubt this, but after that guy knew the capital of Burkina Faso all respect to him and the English). Most importantly I think that people can change the world, and that everyone should always remember that. But, like I said, I went to your show to think, and thinking is not just saying yes, but understanding why I did not agree with some of what you said. I imagine that you want to think about these things as well, so let me state what you did not say, and maybe cause you to think about it a bit more.

George Bush?s intelligence aside, there is a case to be made against terrorism. It is precisely for the reason that it was ?just? Bin Laden and his men?s club rather than a nation-state that America has such a difficult time with Al Qaeda as an enemy. And we were attacked by Arabs, not multi-millionaires, because that is what all the people on the planes had in common. But it is more than that, they attacked America because of its position relative to the Arab world. And to not think that America has a part to play in defending the world from madness is na?ve.

If an attack on Iraq is not supported by the public in the case of 1000 American casualties that is a problem, either because the American people have a very short memory about what terrorism can do (and are too comfortable), or because there is not enough of a threat. I hope that weapons inspectors will tell us which one. I want you to read a recent two part article in the New Yorker about Hezbollah and tell me that there are not threats in this world that should be dealt with. These people are scary. They want to kill me (or convert me) simply because I am Jewish. Does it matter what I have to say about Israeli policies? No, not one bit, I am Jewish and thus I should die. Think about that sentence with Catholic instead of Jewish for three minutes. This is not acceptable in the world. If you want to think these things then fine, but when groups like that start acting on their words, it is wrong, and they should be stopped. Stopping them sometimes requires force, although I would say it is better to try to address the causes of their anger before force is required.

The most uncomfortable part of the talk for me, and my fellow Americans in the crowd, was the critique of Columbine parents and police. They did not go inside because they did not know what was in there. You said yourself that as you watched the tapes you started to question their behaviour. Sure, but the police and parents were not watching tapes, they were living this in real time with some unknown threat behind walls they could not see through. It is very easy to second guess actions, but it is especially unfair in this case, scores no points in my book, and puts people off from the rest of your points about people being too comfortable.

One thing that most critics of US society forget is that most people like it the way it is. Does that make everything right? No. Does that mean that certain things should not change? No. But what it does mean that critics, like you, need to be more thoughtful. As you said, people need to be convinced why it is in their selfish interest to change things. This is exactly where change starts, and not from a tirade against the rich. We should take better care of everyone because a society fractured is not a sustainable society. Leaders realised this after World War II. Injustice (in all forms) has dangerous consequences for everyone. US policies which continue to privilege Americans (the richest country in the world) over others are counter-productive. And further, policies that privilege the rich in the US are even worse. The fact that the US continues to subsidise farmers is crazy and occurs only at the expense of poor nations. But, there are only certain things which fit this category, and the indiscriminate targeting of the ?comfortable class? will get you no where because there is no link between becoming less comfortable and helping others. You need to be smart and pick your battles. You (especially) can change the world, but only by putting forward productive alternatives. That is what you did to K-Mart, but arguing against respect for police authority without a productive alternative only leads to the rest of your ideas being dismissed. You put ideas that are justified side by side with those that are not, and thus limit your credibility and respect in the minds of many. It is very easy for a member of the ?comfortable class? to walk out of your show, realise that certain things you said were mean or not right, and thus dismiss everything. I don?t imagine that is what you want to have happen.

One final point about your show that made me not pleased to be there. You start your tirade against the ?comfortable? by asking the crowd to imagine 90 African-Americans being held hostage by a box cutter. The laugh from the crowd only proved to me that you are playing on the racial stereotypes that a crowd of the liberal wealthy still hold. They know what you meant because (racist) society has framed the ?African-American? as being stronger, more powerful, more fearless, and more familiar with crime. Your statement, by playing on this, and not calling the crowd on it afterwards, only reinforces this stereotype. It might sound like a small thing, but like you said, one person can make a difference.

So, suffice to say I am not all together thrilled with Clark getting Moore on his side. But what is most surprising to me is Moore's rationale for endorsing Clark. It is all about electability. It is a pragmatic argument for Clark that I am shocked to hear coming from Moore. I agree with all his reasons for endorsing Clark, but I do wonder about what Clark is saying to Moore. I heard yesterday from some people that Clark is just a Republican. Well, I think this puts that to rest. Moore is many things, but one that I respect him for is that he is principled. He would not endorse someone unless he believed in that person, and he believes that Clark will lead our nation in a better direction than Bush. So, while I have reservations about this, if you are looking at Clark and saying what Nader might (i.e. What's the difference between Bush and Clark?) take a closer look, imagine an adminstration without the America First and Alone ideology of Cheney, imagine an adminstration that valued the people over corporations, imagine an adminstration that didn't put the interests of the wealthiest 3% above 97% of the rest of us. These are some pretty real differences you would see between Bush and Clark. Here is Michael Moore's letter about Clark:

I'll Be Voting For Wesley Clark / Good-Bye Mr. Bush
by Michael Moore

Many of you have written to me in the past months asking, "Who are you going to vote for this year?"

I have decided to cast my vote in the primary for Wesley Clark. That's right, a peacenik is voting for a general. What a country!

I believe that Wesley Clark will end this war. He will make the rich pay their fair share of taxes. He will stand up for the rights of women, African Americans, and the working people of this country.

And he will cream George W. Bush.

I have met Clark and spoken to him on a number of occasions, feeling him out on the issues but, more importantly, getting a sense of him as a human being. And I have to tell you I have found him to be the real deal, someone whom I'm convinced all of you would like, both as a person and as the individual leading this country. He is an honest, decent, honorable man who would be a breath of fresh air in the White House. He is clearly not a professional politician. He is clearly not from Park Avenue. And he is clearly the absolute best hope we have of defeating George W. Bush.

This is not to say the other candidates won't be able to beat Bush, and I will work enthusiastically for any of the non-Lieberman 8 who might get the nomination. But I must tell you, after completing my recent 43-city tour of this country, I came to the conclusion that Clark has the best chance of beating Bush. He is going to inspire the independents and the undecided to come our way. The hard core (like us) already have their minds made up. It's the fence sitters who will decide this election.

The decision in November is going to come down to 15 states and just a few percentage points. So, I had to ask myself -- and I want you to honestly ask yourselves -- who has the BEST chance of winning Florida, West Virginia, Arizona, Nevada, Missouri, Ohio? Because THAT is the only thing that is going to matter in the end. You know the answer -- and it ain't you or me or our good internet doctor.

This is not about voting for who is more anti-war or who was anti-war first or who the media has already anointed. It is about backing a candidate that shares our values AND can communicate them to Middle America. I am convinced that the surest slam dunk to remove Bush is with a four-star-general-top-of-his-class-at-West-Point-Rhodes-Scholar-Medal-of-Freedom-winning-gun-owner-from-the-South -- who also, by chance, happens to be pro-choice, pro environment, and anti-war. You don't get handed a gift like this very often. I hope the liberal/left is wise enough to accept it. It's hard, when you're so used to losing, to think that this time you can actually win. It is Clark who stands the best chance -- maybe the only chance -- to win those Southern and Midwestern states that we MUST win in order to accomplish Bush Removal. And if what I have just said is true, then we have no choice but to get behind the one who can make this happen.

There are times to vote to make a statement, there are times to vote for the underdog and there are times to vote to save the country from catastrophe. This time we can and must do all three. I still believe that each one of us must vote his or her heart and conscience. If we fail to do that, we will continue to be stuck with spineless politicians who stand for nothing and no one (except those who write them the biggest checks).

My vote for Clark is one of conscience. I feel so strongly about this that I'm going to devote the next few weeks of my life to do everything I can to help Wesley Clark win. I would love it if you would join me on this mission.

Here are just a few of the reasons why I feel this way about Wes Clark:

1. Clark has committed to ensuring that every family of four who makes under $50,000 a year pays NO federal income tax. None. Zip. This is the most incredible helping hand offered by a major party presidential candidate to the working class and the working poor in my lifetime. He will make up the difference by socking it to the rich with a 5% tax increase on anything they make over a million bucks. He will make sure corporations pay ALL of the taxes they should be paying. Clark has fired a broadside at greed. When the New York Times last week wrote that Wes Clark has been "positioning himself slightly to Dean's left," this is what they meant, and it sure sounded good to me.

2. He is 100% opposed to the draft. If you are 18-25 years old and reading this right now, I have news for you -- if Bush wins, he's going to bring back the draft. He will be forced to. Because, thanks to his crazy war, recruitment is going to be at an all-time low. And many of the troops stuck over there are NOT going to re-enlist. The only way Bush is going to be able to staff the military is to draft you and your friends. Parents, make no mistake about it -- Bush's second term will see your sons taken from you and sent to fight wars for the oily rich. Only an ex-general who knows first-hand that a draft is a sure-fire way to wreck an army will be able to avert the inevitable.

3. He is anti-war. Have you heard his latest attacks on Bush over the Iraq War? They are stunning and brilliant. I want to see him on that stage in a debate with Bush -- the General vs. the Deserter! General Clark told me that it's people like him who are truly anti-war because it's people like him who have to die if there is a war. "War must be the absolute last resort," he told me. "Once you've seen young people die, you never want to see that again, and you want to avoid it whenever and wherever possible." I believe him. And my ex-Army relatives believe him, too. It's their votes we need.

4. He walks the walk. On issues like racism, he just doesn't mouth liberal platitudes -- he does something about it. On his own volition, he joined in and filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan's case in favor of affirmative action. He spoke about his own insistence on affirmative action in the Army and how giving a hand to those who have traditionally been shut out has made our society a better place. He didn't have to get involved in that struggle. He's a middle-aged white guy -- affirmative action personally does him no good. But that is not the way he thinks. He grew up in Little Rock, one of the birthplaces of the civil rights movement, and he knows that African Americans still occupy the lowest rungs of the ladder in a country where everyone is supposed to have "a chance." That is why he has been endorsed by one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Charlie Rangel, and former Atlanta Mayor and aide to Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young.

5. On the issue of gun control, this hunter and gun owner will close the gun show loophole (which would have helped prevent the massacre at Columbine) and he will sign into law a bill to create a federal ballistics fingerprinting database for every gun in America (the DC sniper, who bought his rifle in his own name, would have been identified after the FIRST day of his killing spree). He is not afraid, as many Democrats are, of the NRA. His message to them: "You like to fire assault weapons? I have a place for you. It's not in the homes and streets of America. It's called the Army, and you can join any time!"

6. He will gut and overhaul the Patriot Act and restore our constitutional rights to privacy and free speech. He will demand stronger environmental laws. He will insist that trade agreements do not cost Americans their jobs and do not exploit the workers or environment of third world countries. He will expand the Family Leave Act. He will guarantee universal pre-school throughout America. He opposes all discrimination against gays and lesbians (and he opposes the constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage). All of this is why Time magazine this week referred to Clark as "Dean 2.0" -- an improvement over the original (1.0, Dean himself), a better version of a good thing: stronger, faster, and easier for the mainstream to understand and use.

7. He will cut the Pentagon budget, use the money thus saved for education and health care, and he will STILL make us safer than we are now. Only the former commander of NATO could get away with such a statement. Dean says he will not cut a dime out of the Pentagon. Clark knows where the waste and the boondoggles are and he knows that nutty ideas like Star Wars must be put to pasture. His health plan will cover at least 30 million people who now have no coverage at all, including 13 million children. He's a general who will tell those swing voters, "We can take this Pentagon waste and put it to good use to fix that school in your neighborhood." My friends, those words, coming from the mouth of General Clark, are going to turn this country around.

Now, before those of you who are Dean or Kucinich supporters start cloggin' my box with emails tearing Clark down with some of the stuff I've seen floating around the web ("Mike! He voted for Reagan! He bombed Kosovo!"), let me respond by pointing out that Dennis Kucinich refused to vote against the war resolution in Congress on March 21 (two days after the war started) which stated "unequivocal support" for Bush and the war (only 11 Democrats voted against this--Dennis abstained). Or, need I quote Dr. Dean who, the month after Bush "won" the election, said he wasn't too worried about Bush because Bush "in his soul, is a moderate"? What's the point of this ridiculous tit-for-tat sniping? I applaud Dennis for all his other stands against the war, and I am certain Howard no longer believes we have nothing to fear about Bush. They are good people.

Why expend energy on the past when we have such grave danger facing us in the present and in the near future? I don't feel bad nor do I care that Clark -- or anyone -- voted for Reagan over 20 years ago. Let's face it, the vast majority of Americans voted for Reagan -- and I want every single one of them to be WELCOMED into our tent this year. The message to these voters -- and many of them are from the working class -- should not be, "You voted for Reagan? Well, to hell with you!" Every time you attack Clark for that, that is the message you are sending to all the people who at one time liked Reagan. If they have now changed their minds (just as Kucinich has done by going from anti-choice to pro-choice, and Dean has done by wanting to cut Medicare to now not wanting to cut it) -and if Clark has become a liberal Democrat, is that not something to cheer?

In fact, having made that political journey and metamorphosis, is he not the best candidate to bring millions of other former Reagan supporters to our side -- blue collar people who have now learned the hard way just how bad Reagan and the Republicans were (and are) for them?

We need to take that big DO NOT ENTER sign off our tent and reach out to the vast majority who have been snookered by these right-wingers. And we have a better chance of winning in November with one of their own leading them to the promised land.

There is much more to discuss and, in the days and weeks ahead, I will continue to send you my thoughts. In the coming months, I will also be initiating a number of efforts on my website to make sure we get out the vote for the Democratic nominee in November.

In addition to voting for Wesley Clark, I will also be spending part of my Bush tax cut to help him out. You can join me, if you like, by going to his website to learn more about him, to volunteer, or to donate. To find out about when your state1s presidential primaries are, visit Vote Smart.

I strongly urge you to vote for Wes Clark. Let's join together to ensure that we are putting forth our BEST chance to defeat Bush on the November ballot. It is, at this point, for the sake of the world, a moral imperative.


Michael Moore

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Why, oh why, do I bother...

Maybe it is something about the titles of David Brooks' columns that draw me in, because just about everytime I read them I am just subjecting myself to the same crap. Today Brooks promises to enlighten us on who is the best Democratic candidate. I should have realized the exercise would be as predictable as professional wrestling and about as fair. Brooks has three categories, Integrity, Domestic Policy, and Foreign Policy. There are good categories, so it is a good start, but his use of the categories and rankings within the categories leaves much to be desired. It is basically all just a political hack-job. Since Lieberman has no chance of getting the nomination Brooks is free to lavish praise on Joe. It is clear that Lieberman has views closest to Brooks, but it is far from clear that if Lieberman was a real threat to Bush that Brooks would be as comfortable praising him.

Why do I say this? Well, for each of the candidates who are actually in the running Brooks makes clear to savage them in at least one section. For Dean it is Integrity, where Brooks gives him a F and writes, "He's vague about what he's for, but he's venomous toward anyone who disagrees with him. If elected, political discourse would sink to new lows." That is rich...did it ever occur to Brooks that Dean is not vague, just not ideologically pure. He is not venomous towards anyone who disagrees with him, just when he thinks those views are leading the nation down the wrong path. After all the Civil Union Bill in Vermont was not his idea and he probably wished it would go away, but he did not start speaking out against gays at every chance.

But my favorite is that Dean would cause Political Discourse to sink to new lows. What the heck? Will it be any lower than misleading a nation into an invasion of another nation? Will it be lower than calling programs to cut more trees and relaxing emission standards "Healthy Forests" and "Clear Skies"? Will it be lower than politically driven outings of CIA agents? Will it be lower than attacking the patriotism of those that disagree with policy decisions? It is just absurd to claim that the decay in political discourse in this nation is something that is not at least partially at the feet of Republicans. From the misguided impeachment of Clinton to the ultra-secrecy of Bush, the GOP has been at the forefront of so much frustration with politics in America. And perhaps that is by design. The less people who are engaged the easier it is to use corporate money to buy the sound-bites that will be the only guide people have on who to support to run our cities, states, and nation. I am going to go back to bed and cry now.

OK, I am ready to get back to skewering Brooks' column. He dismisses Kerry as aloof. This is just a weak conventional wisdom line to dismiss a leader that the GOP has no real argument against. He then gets on Gephardt for Domestic Policy. The problem with Gephardt's Domestic Policy, according to Brooks is, "Would capitalize on rising protectionist sentiment in the G.O.P. to erect trade barriers, setting off ferocious conflicts with the rest of the world and impoverishing workers here and abroad." Since when are trade barriers a domestic issue? Only according to the GOP who treat trade tariffs as a way of buying votes at home. Trade is an international issue. Foreign Policy is not limited to who we are going to bomb and flying alongside which other nation when we do so. It is about being a trusted friend in all kinds of interaction. I disagree with Gephardt's protectionism, I think that Brooks is right in what it would lead to...but let's be clear, Trade is Foreign Policy.

Let me close by addressing Brooks' treatment of Clark. Clark is a guy that the GOP are scared of. Attacking his patriotism will come right back to the GOP. Attacking his lack of domestic policy experience will just shine a light on the failed policies of the administration. Clark will force the GOP to focus resources on the south and with veterans. Clark will also not have to convince voters that he is a leader on par with Bush, people know that four star generals are leaders. So how does Brooks treat this? Like Clark is some watered down version of vanilla ice cream. B's and C's across the board. Claims that Clark has no convictions because he said some good things about Bush before he was ramming excessive tax cuts through Congress, marching over our allies, not funding his "compassionate" agenda, and invading other nations without a clear idea of what comes next. Sounds to me like there are a lot of reasons to change one's tune between early 2002 and early 2004. In other categories Brooks almost sounds like he is praising Clark, although he does so in lukewarm language that is meant to convey to voters that he is not a serious candidate.

Really...why do I bother reading this stuff? It is total trash.

Kind of interesting...

About 99% of the email that ends up in my bulk folder gets deleted without me reading it. However today, just as a I deleted a message I thought, "wait a sec...that might be interesting". So I dug out of my trash folder an email that with the subject line, "Republican Protest Candidate." I was not disappointed. Although this guy might be a total crazy, I think that I would vote for him before Bush and probably a few Democrats (not any of the New Hampshire front-runners though). Anyway, what the email had to say was kind of interesting. Here it is:

My name is Blake Ashby, and I am running for President on the Republican ticket. I have never run for office before, and I will likely never do it again. But I had to do something.

I have been a Republican since my sophomore year in High School. My Republican party has a core set of principles and beliefs. We don?t hold these beliefs to get elected. We seek election to put these beliefs into action.

My Republican Party believes that budget deficits are stealing from our children. Further, we recognize that budget deficits are a distortion of the free market. My Republican Party believes that while the government certainly must help insure the stability and integrity of the institutions of the free market, the free market itself tended to do the
best job of allocating resources and generating value. My Republican Party believes that free trade is good not only for our economy and the global economy

Again, we don?t hold these beliefs to get elected ? we hold them because they are prudent and cautious. Because we believe we have an obligation to pass on to our children a sound and healthy country. Unfortunately, this administration has abandoned all of these principles. This Administration has doubled farm subsidies, regularly puts up
trade barriers, and is running a massive budget deficit. Think about it ? we have a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican President, and yet spending beyond homeland security has skyrocketed. By any measure, this Administration has abandoned the prudence and caution that were the hallmarks of my Republican Party.

The President likes to talk about his tax cuts. My Republican Party knows the difference between a tax cut and a tax deferral. The $400 billion of government we didn?t pay for this year, we still have to pay for. My Republican Party knows that the ONLY way to cut taxes is to cut spending. Unfortunately, this Administration is throwing money at any
interest group it thinks it has a chance of buying votes from. But government spending doesn?t hurt less just because it is a Republican writing the checks.

I voted for the President, twice ? in the primary and general election. I thought I was getting another fiscal conservative, another Eisenhower. I thought I was getting an Eisenhower, but instead I got a Lyndon Johnson. It?s ironic, but this President, our President Bush, will go down in history as the Republican President that most increased the tax burden on U.S. citizens.

You know that what I am saying is true. You know that what has happened in Washington over the past three years is not what we believe in. And you know that we are slowly bankrupting our country. Will you stand up to the President? Do you want this to be your legacy? That you stood by and did nothing while our government was bankrupted, and our principles trashed? Will you be able to look your grandchildren in the eyes? Will you be proud of your stewardship?

Please, be a Republican and stand up for our beliefs, and the future of our country. Do what you can to help. Write in Blake Ashby when you vote in the Primary. Forward this email to friends and associates. Call your elected officials and let them know how unhappy you are with the Administration. If you are interested, visit ashby2004.com and sign up
for our email list. But whatever you do, please do something ? this is the future of the United States we are talking about.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Electoral news...

I try not to pay too much attention to polls. I have worked with surveys and stats and know that you have to be very careful with how you deal with the data. But it is worth noting that the primary landscape does appear to be shifting. Apparently Clark's support is growing in NH and Kerry's in Iowa. Both are gaining support at the expense of Howard Dean.

I just finished reading the New Yorker profile of Howard Dean last night and it really taught me a few things. I think I might have been underestimating Dean's abilty to bring something different to the campaign. He sounds like someone who will be able to out-"straight talk" Bush. Of course as my opinion of his electoral chances grew, my opinion of his ability to be President fell. I still think that he would be a far better person in the Oval Office than Bush, but I no longer beleive that his main liability is that he would just get smeared to death by Bush. In any event a Dean-Bush matchup would make for one very interesting campaign.

One other thing to mention this morning is this piece from my new favorite blog, The Decembrist. The post is about the decline of decorum in the Senate, focusing on Rick Santorum's comments regarding John Edwards, and is definitely worth reading (He called Edwards and empty suit). I think that Republicans breaking with tradition and becoming more partisan in the Senate is a sign of emerging hubris. It probably looks to them that the nation is moving towards their views, and that they will be governing for the forseeable future. However, I would caution that with growing power comes increasing opportunity to waste it all. The Republicans in charge today, Conservatives like Santorum, might not realize just how fragile any advantage is in American politics. All it takes is one scandal, one attack, one recession, and all the blame could be laid right on them. Pride cometh before the fall, and they will fall someday, and they should be careful what environment they will be trying to operate in after that happens.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The idiocy of dialogue in America...

Anyone reading this blog regularly will know that I read only a few other blogs, and one of them is Dan Drezner. You might also have noticed that I occassionally will comment on Dan's blog and copy my thoughts over here. Well, I was thinking today that I would not share my comments, but things are just a little too strange for me to not pass it on.

Anyway, the subject of Dan's original post was Paul O'Neill and if he was intimidated by the Administration into shutting his mouth. But the subject of the original post is irrelevent. My role in the story starts with reading this comment:

How can Andrew Sullivan still be halfway sensible after having attended Harvard University? This must be one of the greatest existential mysteries of the universe. Normally, one can take it for granted that a Harvard liberal arts degree is a guarantee of mediocrity. Oh well, miracles do indeed occasionally occur.

It was by someone I know to be a total right wing nut, but this was too much for me to let slide, so I weigh in on the discussion:

The "Bush considered invasion before 9/11" story is just a total nothing to me as well...and I have come to hate Bush for all variety of reasons (if you really care why you can read through my blog...but I don't encourage it).

However, for David Thomson to say that Josh Marshall and Brad DeLong are trying to curry favor with the "intellectual left" is the most absurd dismissal of reasoning ever. By that rationale I could say that everything Drezner writes is just about trying to prove his conservative credentials.

And I am curious, is there a difference between a Harvard Liberal Arts degree and a Harvard Business Degree? What about between a Harvard Liberal Arts degree and a Yale Liberal Arts Degree? Should someone's ideas be dismissed (as absurd as this sounds) just because they were educated at one of the most competitive academic institutions in the world? And please go ahead and attack me for saying this just because I attended Williams College...really, I want that to happen...I am daring you to use your reasoning to state that everything I say is because I was brainwashed by some liberal, politically correct doctorine that you think is handed out like candy in the dining halls.

I was somewhat interested in the response, but that was pretty stupid because what did I expect? This guy to take the time to write, "Gee...I didn't think of it that, you are so right." Instead I got this:

Harvard University?s liberal arts graduates appear mostly mediocre and vastly overrated. They are of course extremely bright. I am sure that their native intelligence and SAT scores are among the highest in the world. Still, they are not taught to primarily think and follow a logical argument. The Harvard culture demands that one be a liberal. Thus, these folks usually put their wet finger into the air and see which ways the liberal zeitgeist is blowing. I am currently reading Richard Pipes? excellent work,-VIXI-Memoirs of a Non-Belonger.- He has a two whole chapters devoted to his years teaching at Harvard. Pipes says the following on page 234:
"I have often been asked, both before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, how someone with my views on communism and the USSR could survive at ?liberal Harvard.? My answer, only partly playful, was as follows: Imagine yourself living five hundred years ago, in the fifteenth century. The vast majority of people believe that the earth is flat. You, through your studies and observations, have concluded that it is round. Now no matter how idiosyncratic, indeed, how inane, your view may strike others, you know that sooner or later it will be vindicated. So you patiently wait for time to do its work.?

Very persuasive stuff. In a mild fit of masochism I felt the need to contribute to this "discussion" further (keep in mind that all around this Harvard discussion the typical Bush is God vs. Bush is the Devil debate is going on surrounding what the heck we are doing in Iraq. Here is my post, just wade through the smart stuff at the start to get to the idiotic argument at the end:

There are some very sophisticated arguments being made here for why invading Iraq and removing Sadaam was the right thing to do. And while I don't talk for all Democrats, I know that these make sense to me. Which is why a year ago I was not marching in the streets against the war, but rather getting in fights with people who were against America's choice to invade Iraq.

But I was putting my trust in President Bush that he was correct in his justification for invasion. It might make sense based on a lot of things, but the one that was chosen to "sell" the war to America and the world was the argument that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. I was curious that there was little very compelling evidence of this, but I trusted that keeping this information close to the vest was justified by a need to not disclose what we knew about his weapons before we were in a position to remove them.

However, the fact that no weapons turned up violated my trust. I feel like a fool for trusting the President to make sure that everything he said to justify an invasion of another nation was certifiably true.

Now, all this would not be as big an issue if things were going great in Iraq. If we had a great plan for post-invasion that would really turn around the Mid-east, make Israel safe, and reduce the threat of terror against the US, I would probably be more forgiving of an overstatement of what he (and many others) believed to be true. But that was not the case. Taking over Iraq has presented the US with a huge set of problems, it has stretched our military forces, it has cost many lives, and it has not endeared us to the rest of the world.

All this does not mean that I think he should be impeached, but it does mean that I will not be voting for him. Now, many people will say that Bush is popular and is going to be re-elected so he was right to invade Iraq. While popularity means that he deserves to be President, it does not make all his actions right. Many times in history popular actions have been shown to be misguided.

Finally, and I am not sure why I bother with this...but...David Thomson explained why people with Harvard Liberal Arts degrees are mediocre. But my question remains...are things different at HBS or Yale? And you know why I am using those two as examples.

Of course, since I got off topic there was more idiotic response to my new thoughts not about Harvard:


I'm curious as to what qualifies as compelling evidence for you. Have you read or even looked at Resolution 1441... passed unanimously in the UN Security Council 15-0. It stated unequivocably that Iraq was ALREADY in material breach and was being given one last chance to come clean.

And by the way, how hard is it to dig a whole in the desert, bury some 55 gallon drums, cover it up with sand and mark it with a GPS locator... or how about this ... you discreetly, and in small shipments move any WMDs into Syria in small trucks as part of the normal traffic flow.

Clearly if I was just a bit clearer about what I was saying it would clear everything up? That is what I was thinking when I wrote this:

In response to Bill, who wrote (I am paraphrasing): the war in Iraq was not illegal, was justified by UN resolution 1441, and that the WMD's could easily be hidden in the desert or shipped out to Syria.

I never said invading Iraq was illegal, and I think that Bush was legally justified based on UN resolutions. But I think the strength of the UN is not what is passed officially, but what the concensus of nations is. And the consensus was against us invading. You can say that doesn't matter, and I respect that, in a situation where we were under threat I would also say f**k the UN.

Thus my support for invading was based on a real threat to the US. I would agree that Sadaam could have been a threat, but it sure doesn't seem that way based on what we learned since the invasion. Now, assuming your scenario of what happenend to the WMD is true then I would still say invading was not the answer. If we forced the WMD to be buried and essentially lost (which I have to assume they are since we have most of the Iraqi leadership in custody and still have not found any WMD) then I don't think they were much of a threat. And if they ended up in Syria, then I would say that invading actually made these weapons more dangerous, since they are that much closer to Israel and not under the control of an identified leader.

Bottom line for me is that I am not a fan of invading countries unless neccesary (Afganistan meets my definition of neccesary), and in retrospect (hindsight being 20/20) invading Iraq was not neccesary. I don't think Bush should be impeached or put on trial, but I do think that he (and his adminstration) made a HUGE error in judgement. We should hold him accountable for that error by electing a new leader, and hold that new President to the same standard of trust and judgement I am holding Bush to.

I was getting close to striking a nerve at this point, because all I heard back was this:

As to the rest of the neverland players...

Rich: "Invading is not the answer"?
Ok. But IT DID HAPPEN. YOu get that much, right?You know, Post-tense?

So what in the world are you going on about?

Why I still thought responding would be a good idea is beyond me. But I pressed on:

I get slightly annoyed when people respond to me without reading what I actually wrote. First, I have three posts in this thread, and none have that quote. The closest I found was this, "Now, assuming your scenario of what happenend to the WMD is true then I would still say invading was not the answer." which does seem to convey the fact that this did happen (I am no English major, but I think "was" still is the past tense). In fact everything I have written is about what DID happen, I did go back and check.

I won't go into detail what I think should happen next, but you can sleep easy knowing my views take into account that Iraq is now our problem, and we have the responsiblity to fix it...regardless of how stupid it was to invade in the first place. (try to follow the tenses in that paragraph)

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother writing any of this because clearly people just see what they want to. The assumption is if I am opposed to Bush everything I think must fit into your vision of what someone "anti-war" thinks. I thank the people who post here who actually do respond to others views, rather than assume and attack, there are enough of you to make this interesting most of the time.

Needless to say I received another response, from yet another person. This one actually was saying something I agree with, so instead of saying, "lets not judge that Bush was right yet" I let this be the last word:


Man, your Monday morning quarterback approach to your foreign policy judgments seems a little unfair to me. You can't judge President Bush on what we know now but on what we knew then. In the runup to the war the debate wasn't about whether or not he was a threat but what to do about it. The verdict isn't in on anything yet ... WMDs, connections to Al Queda or connections to 9-11 so any judgment about who is right or wrong on these issues smacks of ideological wishful thinking.

I don't really recommmend reading the entire comments section, since what I posted is about 10% of what is there now. But if you do read through the entire thing, will someone please tell me if you think "Scott Harris" and "GT" are actually the same person?

Oh yeah...I wanted to share one more comment by someone defending Bush...perhaps the best one of all..
The reasons for the Iraq War:

1) Because a Sunni group killed 3000 Americans on American soil...we deliberately reversed more than 1000 years of Sunni dominance in the Muslim world. Saddam was, more than Al Qaeda, an energizing force for the Nazi-like dream of the Sunni Arab world to dominate the world's oil supply and destroy Israel. Now...Sunnis face the permanent reality of Shiite Muslim dominance in the Middle East WITH or WITHOUT democracy. So the Sunnis now have no choice but to want democracy and, when they wake up, want America to protect them from Shiite expansionism.

2) Bush knew that Iraq's nuke program was in Libya. But the important thing was to cut off the oil funding for that program. Likewise, Bush knew that the chemical weapons had already been moved to Syria before the war started. But what was he supposed to do: say "Whoops, we have to get UN and Congressional authority to attack Syria instead of Iraq now"? We would have been playing musical target countries if we played by the enemy's rules. Of course Bush lied and called their bluff. Were our enemies (including leftists in our own country)then going to say "You lied because we know the weapons are in Syria". They wanted to say that, but they knew they could not. So Bush called their bluff. Now the idiots are saying "The WMDs never existed!" This almost begs Bush to go into Syria to get them. But Bush can't attack Syria because Syria is hostage to Israel at the moment. Notice how there have been no serious Palestinian terror incidents inside Israel since Israel made it a policy 4 months ago to go to war with Syria if another such attack happens?

To be continued...