Thursday, April 29, 2004
by The Yankee
Letter to TPM...
If you have been reading this blog at all, and based on the traffic figures at least a few people do, you know that one of my favorite links is to the Talking Points Memo by Josh Marshall. One thing about his blog is that he is very selective about his links. I respect that. But I looked over his list and they are all great...with the exception of Mickey Kaus who has turned into a total hack. Really it is sad to see how this guy has somehow become obsessed with every insult to John Kerry available. To see an example check out this post from Crooked Timber, link via Atrios. Anyway, I got moved to drop Josh a note about this, I am interested to see if I get a public or private reply.
I am wondering why Mickey Kaus is still on your list of "approved sites" You are clearly selective in this list, and it seems a shame that you want to associate yourself with this guy.
I am sure you read the blogs that are catching on to his one trick pony slur Kerry campaign, so I won't run down that list. I also know that in some ways he is a godfather of the blog world. But it has passed him by, I would bet that traffic from him is a fraction of your overall readership, and that most of your readership used to read Kaus but has probably found it completely useless since his coverage of the California Governor's race.
Is there a reason you leave him on? And to replace him I would suggest the Decembrist. He writes irregularly, but when he posts (2-3 times a week) it is just about the best blog writing around.
by The Yankee
I heard a bit of a piece on NPR this evening about some atrocities that American soldiers and contractors committed at a prison in Iraq. Pretty bad stuff...especially when we are now justifying our invasion on the grounds of human rights and freeing the Iraqi people from oppresive rule. But remember...the people who report this stuff hate America and only want it to fail. If they really loved freedom and the American way of life they would be unthinking automotons chasing the nearest dollar or hamburger.
by The Yankee
Too much information...
In the category of stuff that is probably only interesting to me, there is a whole slew of articles posted on the LSE website from a recent conference. The conference was called, "The Resurgent City" and from best I can tell the presentations (and their articles) cover a whole variety of aspects of what is contributing to this change in the way advanced economies are functioning. This is the heart and soul of what I drives my beliefs and I am interested in reading some of these articles and seeing where they are right and where I think they are wrong. Check them out...but be warned, there is tons of information there.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
by The Yankee
David Brooks is a moron and demonstrates it to all of us again today in this op-ed piece. His argument is that "Washington" is all abuzz about things from the past that don't matter, when people should be talking about what is going on in Iraq right now.
OK David, what do you want "Washington" to do? It seems like it really doesn't matter what "Washington" talks about because the Bush Administration is going to ignore them. Do you think that the choices in Iraq would be any easier if there were a lot of "Washington" types talking about them? The fact is that there is no easy answers and no good options. People talk about it being like Vietnam or 1920 Mesopotamia because they are hoping to find an answer in the past. But they will probably find nothing. At least they are searching. Really the only thing that we have right now in Iraq is the thing that the Administration has placed so much faith in during its planning, a hope and a prayer. Face it Brooks...we are screwed up over there, and no amount of Washington talk is going to change that. Admit it and stop peddling your idiotic party line.
As soon as you really start thinking about these issues the conclusion pretty quickly becomes, "How the f**K did we get ourselves into this mess?" And this is why all the talk in Washington goes back several years. Clarke's book is significant because it shopws how screwed up it is that we are fighting a war in Iraq while we should be trying to make friends and battle terrorists who are threatening the US and Europe. The real issue is not Iraq, it is terrorism....remember terrorism, the stuff that brought down the Twin Towers. People talk about other stuff than Iraq because that is where the real conflict is. But thanks to soldiers dying in Iraq we can't committ troops anywhere else and Bush's poll numbers are "jumping". I can't even begin to convey how absolutely screwed up everything is right now.
Monday, April 26, 2004
by The Yankee
For the second straight year the winner of best goalkeeper in England is an American. This year it was Tim Howard. Even though he was benched for the last couple of months of the year the writers recognized his stellar performance for the first part of the season. He really only had one bad spell and that was while playing behind a very weak defense.
If you look at the rest of the team he is in some pretty elite company. Great news for Howard, Manchester United, American Soccer, and the MLS.
by The Yankee
There are stories that are easy to ignore in the US, but have huge potential significance. This one about a letter sent by former British diplomats to Tony Blair is one of them. The pressure on Blair to do something other than being the Bush Cabinet official in charge of Britain has to be intense. And Blair is a smart man. He is not going to sacrafice his position in British politics to keep Bush happy (unless Tony did something very bad that no one knows about yet). Blair is trying to accomplish a lot in Britain, and he really believes that he is doing the right thing for the future of his country. I doubt that he believes the same thing about Bush policy in Iraq and the Middle East, and there have been numerous news stories about how his people certainly do not.
I am sure that Bush will want Tony to continue to toe the line through November and then recongnize that Tony has to do his own thing to win election. However, it might be the case that Tony will not be able to wait that long. There will be pressure from his own party to do something to keep the people happy or risk losing control of Parliament. That would have been unthinkable about two years ago, but now seems almost possible. Aside from the political angle, if the Brits leave Bush's side in Iraq then our troops are going to be stretched even thinner than they are already.
My prediction is that Blair will show the British public in no uncertain terms that he is backing away from following Bush on any issue. The troops will stay for the time being, and probably this whole affair will be nothing more than another sling and arrow that should destroy Bush, but the blind following American public will just look the other way from reality.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
by The Yankee
Ahead of the curve...
Josh Marshall echoes what I said about Kerry being smart to sit on his ammunition until later on in the campaign.
by The Yankee
I used to really like Thomas Friedman, but increasingly I find him to be twisting himself into a pretzel to come to terms with his support for the invasion of Iraq. He is in the same boat as John Kerry. There is just not a good position to take on Iraq right now because it is so screwed up. There is certainly positions of hope, which is what Friedman describes. But there are no solid actions that you can put forward which allow you to still view the invasion of Iraq as a good idea. You can't continue to believe that Iraq was an immediate threat to the US because we know now they had no WMD. If you say we did it for the Iraqi people it is hard to square that with the chaos they are suffering today and the killings in the street they are subjected to on a daily basis. If you say we did it for democracy then you have to say how the heck we are going to get from where we are today to democracy in the future. It is not a clear path to say the least.
People like Friedman and the rest of America need to admit to themselves that they were fools to think that President Bush and his head in the sand henchman ever could pull something off as complicated and difficult as building a democracy from a dictatorship in a diverse society. In hindsight you have to admire the hubris that led these people who knew little about Iraq how they could think they could pull this off. I was hoodwinked for a while, I thought that no American President would be downright stupid enough to get the US into a mess like this. It does go against all instincts of self-preservation as a politician. So far Bush has been able to hold this together with his posturing and rhetoric. But that couldn't have been part of the plan from the start. The only way to start thinking about what to do in Iraq is to admit it was a horrible idea to invade the place from the start. Maybe that will help build some Iraqi trust of what we need to do to get the hell out and never f**k up those peoples' lives again.
by The Yankee
After reading the Washington Post article I mentioned below I started wondered what is going to happen when the rhetoric has to stop and Bush has to face Kerry asking him to tell the United States the truth?
The article strongly hints that there are a lot of incorrect beliefs underlying Bush's support. And I think (or maybe it is hope) that the moment he is confronted by Kerry on this the support will collapse. I just find it hard to imagine that the rhetoric holding support together will survive face to face questions from his opponent. He will probably end up dodging the questions, but I think that will make him seem weak next to Kerry.
I also started picturing what that debate will look like. What happens when people see Bush standing there next to Kerry? Are Bush advisors are even going to let that happen? They will probably will no allow these two men to be photographed next to each other (not that it will matter because there will be a fake photo in every newspaper the next day). The thing is that Kerry just looks more like a US president than Bush does? He is going to tower over Bush, making him look small and weak next to Kerry. I think that Bush's image as a strong leader will take a big hit when he tries to swagger into a debate with Kerry. But of course I have been wrong about all this stuff in the past, and maybe even though the stakes are so high people will welcome his "awshucks" manner.
On another note I think that Kerry is wisely holding his fire right now. Iti s pretty clear that the Bush campaign is firing with all guns in the hope of an early KO in this fight. But that is not working out to plan. As we start to get into the summer and Kerry starts to hit back it will be interesting to see what Bush has left.
There are so many reasons to think that Kerry can't lose this fight, but still it scares me that there are so many things that can go wrong as well.
by The Yankee
Read this Washington Post article and tell me that the Bush strategy doesn't sound a lot like fascism.
Saturday, April 24, 2004
by The Yankee
A few months ago there was some talk about Cheney being dumped as Bush's running mate. It was suggested that the right time for this switch would be around now. Now, it clearly makes a lot of sense to do a switch as Cheney brings no positives to the ticket and a lot of negatives. In 2000 Cheney was the mature, stabilizing force to the ticket. After four years in office it is hard to see any evidence of that, and if people don't trust Bush, it is hard to see them looking at Cheney on the ticket and having that make the difference for them.
One of the questions about dumping Cheney was how to do it. It had to be seen as not an admission of failure, but rather a gentle easing out because of "health" concerns. This depends on several things. First is that Cheney would have to be willing to play along. It is hard to see any signs of that. He is fighting like hell and not giving ground any where. He has spent his public life trying to gain power and today he has it. There is no position in government that would allow him to approach the power he has as VP today. And he hardly seems like the kind of guy to rest on his laurels. He is a true believer in the constant war that has been preached by the Bush Administration and seems unlikely to trust leading that war to others.
While I think it is unlikely that Cheney would play along, I think it is even more unlikely that he will simply take himself out of the position. That means someone else would have to raise the topic. And I would assume that person would have to be George Bush. Bush seems to value loyalty over everything else, thus I think it would be hard for any advisor to raise this issue with him. Making this decision would require a huge amount of planning. They would have to poll on a wide variety of things. They would also have to make sure there is a replacement who would be supported by the GOP and by the American people (more on this below). My point here is that the dynamics of the way Bush works makes it hard for me to see the issue getting considered let alone executed.
Then there is the question of the replacement. Bush would want to bring in someone who is viewed positively in swing states. There are lots of Republicans around who are. But he would also have to bring in someone who has some credibility in the war on terror, since that is the pillar of his campaign. Finally he would have to find someone who would keep his radical right base happy. Finding someone with all these attributes is really hard. There were several posts that would suggest people like Condi Rice and Rudy Guiliani. However Condi is now damaged, and it is hard to see Rudy keeping the right wing happy. It is not clear how much compromise the right is willing to make to win this election (whereas all signs point to the left being ready to sacrifice anything just to get Bush out of the White House). Thus I think it would signal an act of desperation for the switch to happen. And with the way the polls are headed it is hard to see that happening.
This actually signals another thing about the campaign. So far Kerry has run a very mellow campaign. This is probably a good thing. Right now Bush has a lot of options, later in the campaign those options will decrease. And in the end the only poll that matters is the one taken in private in November.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
by The Yankee
There has been a lot written this week about some polls that put Bush in the lead. The typical explanations are his press conference and the rallying around the President in a time of duress for our troops. Well, if it is the press conference than I would love to see Bush try to give an evening Press conference every month until election day. I am quite sure people would start to see him for the empty suit he is. The press conference was special, if he continues it then it will not be special, and people will start to judge his performance.
And if he gets a boost from people dying well...lets just say that I hope even he is not going to put people in harms way for a poll boost.
by The Yankee
What John Kerry should say...
From Matt Yglesias at TAPPED:
If I were Kerry, I'd use this fight over the funding for Iraq to showcase the difference between his values and the president's on a choice where the vast majority of Americans would side with Kerry.
What would that sound like? Let's go to the videotape.
(John Kerry in suit and tie talking to camera):
"George Bush is attacking me in a cynical and preposterous ad that says I don't support our troops in Iraq. He's making fun of the fact that I voted for money for Iraq on one vote before voting against his plan to pay for the war on another. Once you know the facts, I think you'll be as disappointed as I am that this is the kind of discourse to which an American president would stoop.
"Here are the facts: George Bush is having our children pay for Iraq. He has put $160 billion so far on our kids' credit card to pay for a war we chose to wage. We are running record budget deficits of over half a trillion dollars a year because George Bush says our children should pay for their parents' war.
"My plan was different. My plan was to pay to finish the job in Iraq by repealing some of the tax cuts that George Bush gave to the best-off Americans.
"Every well-off American I've asked has told me they would have gladly supported such a plan. They feel, as I do, that it is un-American to stick our children with debts for today's wars in order to preserve big tax cuts for people at the top. It's just wrong.
"So I voted for my plan to pay for our own choices today, and against President Bush's plan to slip our children the bill so that he could give tax cuts to the wealthiest. I can't think of a clearer way to show you how my values differ from those of this White House. You'll be choosing between these values come November.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
by The Yankee
I grow weary...
It seems like too many blog posts are just about expressing outrage at the latest scourge of evil George W. Bush and his henchman have unleashed upon America. They are all true, but really it is without art. That is why I am officially adding a new blog to my blogroll. This one is just plain funny. The title of the blog is Jesus's General, and the dude who writes it is Gay (not that there is anything wrong with that). But he is some strange kind of gay, who is funny and stuff. I didn't know they existed. He also has a blog. And he writes letters to screwed up people with crazy ideas. It is funny stuff and a great break from all the boring heterosexual hand wringing over how screwed up our government is.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
by The Yankee
I urge you to read the New Yorker story about attacking Iraq from 3/11/02. There is so much interesting and so much correct that it is truly frightening just how predictable everything that happenend was. From the course of the build-up to the war, the war itself, and the aftermath, it is all in there. But there was one thought I had, which might be off the wall, but also might explain something. After reading this passage:
The ostensible theme of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's official visit to Washington in early February (2002) was the Palestinian conflict, but there was an important private agenda for the White House: briefing Israel about the President's determination to overthrow Saddam and persuading its leadership to delay a response, as it did during the 1991 Gulf War, in the event of an Iraqi Scud-missile attack. Israel is within range of Scuds coming from western Iraq. Thirty-nine Scuds struck Israel in 1991; despite extensive air and ground searches by United States military commanders, and despite repeated public assurances to the contrary, there's no evidence that American Special Forces troops were able to find and destroy any mobile Scud launchers in the Gulf War.
During Sharon's visit, American and Israeli officials told me, the Prime Minister and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the Israeli Defense Minister, reached an understanding with Washington on advance notice of any impending invasion, and also urged that the Bush Administration do what was necessary—placing a large number of troops on the ground in western Iraq, for example—in order to destroy potential Scud-launching sites at the outset of an attack.
Now lately one of the big stories was the dramatic way the President publically backed Sharon's plan for leaving Gaza. Basically Sharon got everything that he asked for from the President. Now the question was asked why the heck would the President make these statements now. There was a lot of speculation about it being the "right" thing to do, but even still, it was a quite radical break with traditional US policy and a risky break at that. Already Arab leaders are refusing to meet with Bush over his move. So why?
Now also in the last few weeks we have seen the potential political damage from the President seeming to have planned an invasion of Iraq too soon after 9/11 and before finishing work in Afganistan. Now I am wondering if Sharon knows something about the Bush Administration's discussions about invasions of Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11 that they were able to hold over Bush's head. After all, a few strategic leaks by the Israelis and there could be some real damage done to Bush's credibility. It would be ironic if Sharon was able to hardball the US in this way, but I would not put it past him.
This is just my speculation, but the facts do support this explanation. Thoughts?
by The Yankee
If you are not terrified by the fact that our nation is being cluelessly led into the abyss then read this New Yorker article from over two years ago (a year before we invaded Iraq, six months after 9/11) about the planning process leading up to the war in Iraq. Just read it and wonder why we are still ruled by these morons and how they ever got so much power.
by The Yankee
Via the Oxblog, I found this story about a secret visit to China by Kim Jong Il. Now anyone who has read any of the New Yorker pieces about North Korea (no links available) knows that this is really the most serious threat to international order. It is a ticking time bomb and no one knows how the sad saga of those people will end. But perhaps this is the first sign that something is going to change and North Korea can slowly be brought back into the community of humanity from the sick prison state they are today. We can only hope.
Monday, April 19, 2004
by The Yankee
My thought of the day...
There have been a rash of statements lately revisiting why people supported the war in Iraq. See Drezner's post for a bit of a rundown.
Here is my thought on the matter:
At first I supported invading Iraq. But my support was contingent on getting a broad coalition (including Arab nations) on board.
There was a path to make this possible. However, it was lost when we abandoned the weapons inspectors who were in Iraq.
And as we know now the entire logic for war was flawed (even if it was still justified). There were no weapons of mass destruction.
From that point my support of the war was lost. I could not beleive that America, the nation I had learned in school was the fairest and most just on the face of the earth, would invade another nation based on flimsy evidence, misleading statements, and outright lies.
Iraq might be screwed for generations or might be on its feet in a few months. I don't know what is going to happen there. But America's credibility in the world is deeply, deeply damaged. The extent of this damage is not as graphic as troops getting killed in Iraq, but in the long-run it will be more burdensome to our ability to be the leader of the free world.
This is why Bush's foreign policy being f**ked up is not just something to be ignored. And most importantly it is why we need to show that as a nation, as Americans, as voters, we have the good sense to punish the mistakes of our leaders and restore our internation credibility.
These are the real stakes of the election, and why Anybody But Bush is an entirely legitimate election strategy for voters simply concerned with America's place in the world.
by The Yankee
More intelligent stuff from Slate...
The Money Box column on Slate.com is one of the best regular online columns around. It is interesting, readable, and smart. Last week I commented on his take on the Apprentice. This week there is a mention of nationalized health care. The take away is that it is coming because it is in the interest of big companies. Well, you know what, it is also in the interests of small companies, and in the interests of most Americans, and in the interest of the American economy. Basically in a few years it is going to be the conservative true believers and the health insurance lobby against the rest of us. And they will lose.
The bottom line is that increasing health care costs are a huge structural burden that is placed on most companies. This is a cost that they incur regardless of how much money they make in a year. It is only dependent on the number of employees. It is also dependent on the number of employees they used to have. So old companies are placed at a disadvantage to new companies. It is also a good that is required for all people. Each person may not use it, but if a sick person shows up at a Hospital they are going to get care...maybe not the best care, but we are not going to see people dying on the streets outside hospitals because they were turned away.
All this together means that it makes next to no sense to have a system where health care is linked to your job. The transition will be interesting, because this is a huge problem to solve, but once all the interest groups realize that changing the current is in their interests it will happen sooner rather than later.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
by The Yankee
What is the number...
All we hear from Bush is that a free Iraq is worth the price. But it is not worth any price. What is the cost of lives and fortune when it is no longer worth it. There is a number. It might be millions of lives and trillions of dollars, but there is a number. Maybe it is every American not named Bush? What is the number dear leader, because I want to know when stories like this are going to start bothering you...because they damn well bother me!
by The Yankee
Apparently now we are going to start hearing that the only way to clean up the mess in Iraq is by "dealing with" Iran. I can't wait. Are there any other hare-brained schemes that will make America less safe and kill lots of American troops that I should know about?
Maybe we can invade France again? That might be an even more effective way of pissing off the world and getting our troops killed. Or we can just send them to Mars, but that might not antagonize the Martians enough.
by The Yankee
Answer me this...
I was just wondering...
When Democrats point to Bill Bennett being a gambling addict or Rush Limbaugh being a drug addict as examples of hypocracy isn't the implication that if these people were liberals than their shortcomings would just be OK?
Do liberals not realize how stupid some of their arguments are sometimes?
The conservative movement in America needs to be debated with, not ignored or marginalized. Only through that debate will liberalism emerge as dominant thought in America and lead us back on a path towards national greatness.
by The Yankee
I missed a chance to do a sport post last weekend, but here is this week's edition.
First, props go out to Phil Mickleson for winning his first major. I had the golf on (I cannot claim I was acutally watching it) for most of the day and it was a very exciting end to a golf tournament (as they go). Phil definitely earned this victory.
Second, the AFL news. The St. Kilda Saints are for real. They won yesterday to run their record to 4-0. A great start for a team that was viewed as young and full of potential. It will be amazing if the long suffering Saints fans get a chance to savor Grand Final glory, but that is a long way off and there is a lot of football to be played between now and then. As a little background the Saints of the Aussies Rules league are a lot like the Saints of the NFL...basically they suck every year, even when they are supposed to be good. They have a certain charm about them, but in all the years of playing football in a fairly small league they have managed to win only one title. However, like the area they represent it seems their fortunes are changing.
Another great AFL story of the year is my tipping (picking). Last week was the third week of the year, and I am in second place in the tipping competition I signed up for (about 15 people total). Not only that, but I had a perfect record last week. Pretty incredible considering that I am only able to read about the AFL for minutes each week and I can't watch any games. I guess my perceptions from two seasons ago are holding up pretty well.
Then there is the (real) football. I don't know if I noted the monumental washouts that we saw in the Champions League. I think the top three favorites were all eliminated in the quaterfinal round. Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Arsenal are all gone. I would have to guess that the favorite now would have to be Chelsea. The Blues scored a dramatic victory to eliminate Arsenal towards the end of the second leg of their home and home. It was Chelsea's first victory over Arsenal in 19 tries and the stakes could not have been bigger.
The race for the EPL title is just about over with Arsenal on the verge of clinching. This could set up the very interesting situation where Arsenal win the league, Man U wins the FA Cup and Chelsea wins the Champions League. A split in winning the league and the Cup is not at all unusual, but to have a third team from the same league win the Champions League has to be pretty rare. Of course I am just guessing on this, and I don't really have the patience to look up the domestic performance of various winners of the Champions League.
Finally, let's get some Cricket news up here. The fourth a final test for England in the West Indies was a dead rubber test. England had already clinched the series with three victories. There was some drama in seeing if England could get the clean sweep over the once mighty West Indies. But the real drama came from the bat of Brian Lara. Lara held the record for the most runs scored in a test innings with a total of 370 I believe. However against Zimbabwe late last year Matthew Hayden took that record from him by scoring 386 runs. This are really stratospheric totals, that are hard to reach if only because you have to score quickly enough that you don't delay a declaration. But in this test Lara took back the record with an unbeaten 400. This was against quality opposition, and is probably going to be a benchmark for a long time to come. I guess that other players might equal that record, but surpassing it will likely mean putting an individual record over the team. In any even congratulations of Brian Lara.
As an interesting side note to this tale, I was talking to a very drunk Brit of Indian decent on Tuesday night. I decided to talk some sport and console him on his team's loss. What I didn't know is that this Brit arrived in England via Guyana, and when he heard of his West Indian hero setting the new record he could not contain his excitement. He kept telling me what a great day it was for Lara and the West Indies. Thankfully it was time to leave otherwise this fellow would have been buying me drinks for hours in celebration of his countryman's feat.
More sport next week...but in the mean time check out this site for some interesting sports economics thoughts.
by The Yankee
Some reader mail...
I got a note this week from a reader who is very, very smart. Not only that, but he knows a whole lot more about politics than I do, what with his PhD in Political Science and all. Anyway, he took issue with a post that I wrote a week ago. He writes:
I could have told you that the Republican candidate had no chance in New York or Massachusetts six years ago. No great insight here. I could have also told you that Kerry (or any Democrat) wouldn't have any chance in Georgia, Nebraska, or Texas. The nation is deeply divided along partisan lines. Since I am from Nebraska and soon moving to Indiana, I find myself in contact with a lot of people who simply can't figure out why liberals are mad at Bush -- who they view as honest and moderate.
The real question is who stands a chance in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa, and Missouri. I think Kerry's odds are anything but a slam dunk in these swing states. They generally trust the President and attacks on him might appear desperate or undignified -- neither of which are good adjectives for a Presidential candidate. Liberal wafflers do not poll well among the swing voters and Kerry will have a hard time shaking both tags.
Bush's unprecedented war chest will make Kerry's campaign all the more difficult. Last March offered a glimpse of what Kerry will have to endure. The Bush campaign began running ads in battle ground states prior to Kerry's visit and continued until he left. The goal was to set the terms of the debate prior to Kerry's arrival and it was largely successful. I would be shocked if the Bush campaign didn't continue with the strategy. It will be very hard for Kerry to press his message and he will have to respond to Bush's message for the next seven months.
Kerry's best chances are:
a) Things go worse in Iraq (all too possible);
b) Economy continues to sputter along (unlikely);
c) Some sort of scandal hits the White House (e.g., Valerie Plaime).
"I can't imagine how Kerry can lose this campaign." I can all too easily.
I totally agree. I was definitely too optimistic. It is all too likely that Kerry will lose, which is why this election is so important. But I think there are so many negatives associated with Bush that the weight of them will just pile up when swing voters start to focus on them. I don't know if this is a hope, a dream, or a prediction.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
by The Yankee
I have been absolutely fascinated by The Apprentice since the first show. I love solving business problems and seeing how they work. The show is almost about that, but not quite enough for me. I really want them to have a hard core business version of the show that is extended to two hours and shown at some odd time on CNBC. It may not be for everyone, but I want to see the team's discussions of strategy and finances that is mostly ignored in the name of keeping the show interested in people who just want to see catfights.
I really don't know why I have not been writing about the Apprentice every week on this blog, but it was probably because I fell into the trap of just writing about what other blogs write about. Well, in keeping with that trend this post is really just a response to a column on The Slate Moneybox about The Apprentice. The argument made by Daniel Gross is that Trump selected people who are not like him, and thus actually can't stand himself either.
I really disagree with this assessment. I think that the people Trump has to choose from are exactly the kind of people that he should be hiring. There already is a Trump in his organization, he doesn't need another one. Look at the people who are working for Trump. They are not personalities, all they are is competent (and willing to put up with Trump). Trump is finding people who complement his skills.
And the reality is that if someone really is the next Trump, then what the hell are they doing working for the current Trump? There are some jobs that you work your way up an organization, but doing what Trump does is not one of them. You just get out there and you do it. You might fail a few times along the way, but that is what being an entrepreneur is all about. It is not taking the safe route and the regular paycheck, it is being the hustler and maxing out the credit card to finance a deal.
I have tremendous respect for the people out there running a business. Trump is one of them and a I respect him for that. He is smart, smart enough to know that he really doesn't need to hire someone like him, rather he needs to hire someone who doesn't need the spotlight. Trump is always going to be the face of any of his organizations (and the name too), that would really chafe at someone even remotely like Trump.
In the end I think that some of Trump's early decisions were just about keeping the show interesting. He knew what he wanted from the start, but he put together a team of diverse personalities just to make their interactions interesting. I don't fault him for that, but in the end he is also smart enough to hire the person who can actually do the job. Maybe he will find a place for some of the other people as well, but they will probably do just fine working independently to turn their new fame into their fortune. It is like I was discussing with a friend last night, sometimes getting fired is the best thing that can happen because it gives you the freedom to do what you were doing outside of an organization, and probably be a lot happier and more successful along the way.
by The Yankee
We are f**ked...
I can't even bring myself to say anything real about all the crap going on in the world. We are getting killed, literally, in Iraq and our President can't even admit to one mistake he has made. Practically all he has done is make mistakes. We are in an election year and everything is colored by that, but if this election is won by Bush it will say horrible, horrible things about our country and our electorate.
The Republican Party is welcome to put forward an alternative to Bush, and I would not have the same feeling about that person winning, but everything that has happenend in the last year and half has pointed to the fact that George W Bush is completely unfit to serve as President of the United States of America. It goes beyond his political views, those I don't agree with, but can tolerate. It cuts to the core of his personality and intellect. The findings of the 9/11 commission as well as the few candid statements from people who have left his administration all point to the fact that he is not capable enough to serve as President. Four years should be more than enough time for the American people to figure this out.
When September and October roll around and we start having a real national election with people paying attention this will become brutally obvious. Bush will be ducking debates, on the constant defensive, and basically just grasping at straws to stay afloat. John Kerry learned from the Primaries that elections are won in the weeks before the votes are cast, not months before. His campaign is clearly saving ammunition. That is the smart thing to do.
The anger of Americans towards Bush is reflected in the enormous amount of money raised for Kerry in the last few days. At a Boston fundraiser it was estimated that he raised $4 MM. That is to be followed by almost $5 MM in New York. And last but not least was the over $600 that I was able to raise just by inviting some people over my house. I have never seen anything like this. Bush may not be uniting our country, but he is uniting people like me against him in a way that I never thought I would see.
Hopefully President Kerry will be able to do good things with this kind of support.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
by The Yankee
I can't imagine how Kerry can lose this campaign. Bush is totally inept and has been shown to be so at every turn. Kerry is keeping quiet about this now, but if he is behind in October expect to see a total scorched earth campaign from Kerry. There is so much ammunition he is sitting on that I can't imagine going down with all that in the box. And once that arsenal is unleashed I can't see how petty little cries about playing politics will stop the barrage.
by The Yankee
I think I picked a good week to not blog because the news of the week was nothing but bad. We are seeing evidence that we screwed up big time in Iraq. I never thought that it would get this bad this quickly. We are actually closer to losing this war now than we were a year ago when we toppled a statue of Sadaam. The lie that our Mission was Accomplished has been proven false a thousand times over. Meanwhile the price for these mistakes is being paid by American troops and the people of Iraq caught in the cross-fire. There have been so many bad decisions that it is hard to point to anything since that statue fell that has actually gone according to plan. Of course that implies that there was a plan in the first place. Maybe they just had a collection of strategic recommendations?
Then there was the continued drip-drip of news from the 9/11 commission. This entire story is just tragic. We should be in a situation where the administration can honestly look at why this happenend and learn from the past. Instead we have them dodging and evading the commission at every opportunity. While they accuse the Democrats of politicizing the process they know that their political lives are at stake because Americans expect their government to protect them. The Bush Administration failed at that. That failure might be understandable, but the Bush adminstration is doing everything possible to stop people from understanding the failure.
As I spend more time around the northeast talking to different people I am hearing more and more anger at Bush. This is not just normal, "I am going to vote for the other guy" stuff. I am talking about people deeply angry at what is going on with our country. And there is not much that most of the people I talk to can do about it. Bush has absolutely no chance in New York and Massachusetts. We are talking a lot about democracy in Iraq, but I think we also need to talk about the state of Democracy in the US. We are being led by an idiot and there is little that I can do about it. They spin their message out to certain states, basically a total pack of lies, while just getting people who think about what is going on madder and madder. The only thoughts that I read on right-wing blogs are things that would scare the pants off middle America. Basically the entire situation is just pissing me off to no end, and I don't know that I can continue to write anything coherent about how bad it is.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
All of you who have lived in California will roll your eyes at this, but two nights ago was my first significant earthquake experience. I woke up at 2am wondering why my fiancee was jumping on the bed, when suddenly the entire house started making a really loud banging noise. It lasted about 30 seconds, then stopped, and everything was quiet. Very eerie and completely unreal.
The quake was a 6.6. or 6.8, depending who you believe, and centered about 150 miles (kilometers? I can't remember) northeast of here. Luckily, that's a sparsely populated area.
Is Zalmay Khalilzad a buffoon or is he merely implementing idiotic directions from the White House? For the second time in a month the US Ambassador to Afghanistan insulted Pakistan (officially a "major non-NATO ally") by suggesting that they are unable or unwilling to handle the Taliban types running around in the NW Frontier Province. Only this time, he added that the US might have to send troops into Pakistan to handle the situation if things didn't improve.
Now I'm no expert, but I can tell you that sending American soldiers into Pakistan is about the dumbest thing the US could do. And the mere suggestion that it's even a possibility serves to undermine Musharraf, which I think everyone can agree is not a good thing for America.
So was Khalilzad off the reservation, or is some idiot in Washington telling him to apply pressure to Pakistan by making outrageous statements? I haven't met the guy (I knew I should have gone to the Town Meeting two weeks ago!) but let's hope it's the former, and let's hope that Bush sends him on an extended vacation with no email or cell phone.
Sometimes it seems like the Bush Administration is intentionally trying to screw things up.
Speaking of which, let's lay siege to a handful of Iraqi cities. Since the majority of Iraqis love us and want us to be there, they will understand when we send tanks and bombing runs into the middle of Fallujah to root out whoever it is that's fighting us. Right? Right?
Late Update: I just noticed that the AP is reporting that the US blew up a mosque in Fallujah, killing about 40 people. I really, really hope this is not true. If it is, it's a complete and utter disaster... and totally predictable when you invade a city. The situation seems to be progressing to a point where there isn't any good way of calming things down and restoring order. The US apparently can't do it, and if not the US, then who? And what is our military's mission right now, anyway? To kill everyone violently opposing the US presence? Good luck.
Sunday, April 04, 2004
by The Yankee
I am going to be on the run for the next week. Blogging figures to be infrequent at best. That is probably for the best for me anyway.
by The Yankee
We are screwed...
There is a decent article in Newsday today about Rice's tesitmony this week. The GOP side comes via quotes from Rich Bond, former RNC chairman. He has a few gems about Rice being above questioning because she is an African-American woman, but the money quote is this: "The imagery of George Bush standing on the rubble of 9/11 overrides anything (Richard) Clarke can say." That about says it all. Forget about analysis of why things went so horribly wrong and we missed any chance we might have had to stop 9/11, it is all about the image of Bush standing on the rubble. That is all you need is the image, any substance is meaningless in the face of that image. Thank you Rich Bond for making it so clear what is so wrong about the Bush Administration.
By the way, where are the cries of politcal opportunism about Bush capitalizing on 9/11 to increase his popularity? His popularity shot up after 9/11, by standard GOP logic it would stand to reason that because Bush benefited voting for him must be giving the terrorists what they want? Sounds about right based on the incredibly simplistic reasoning the GOP pushes on the American people.
Oh yeah, it looks like we really turned a corner in Iraq...we now have significant portions of the population fighting American and Coalition troops in the street. Can this please be the final straw to make America realizes that we f'd up big time invading Iraq. Oh, and where are the comments from the White House saying they are concerned about the rising opposition to the US presence and that clearly we are not doing a good enough job addressing the concerns of the Iraqi people. I am wondering how long they are going to deny what is going on in Iraq? Probably just long enough for things to get really, really screwed up.
by The Yankee
I am thinking about dedicating my entire blogging to sports and urban / economic issues because the rest of the stuff just gets me very, very angry. So, it being Sunday I thought I would do myself, and my readers a service by running down all the sport, most of which you will not learn on Sportscenter.
I watched most of the DC United v. San Jose Earthquakes / Freddy Adu debut game yesterday. I have not watched much MLS in the past, but now that I am back in the States I think that I might have to start following it more closely. The quality of play in the MLS is very mixed. It is clear that ther are some players who are of very high quality and some who are much weaker. The thing that struck me most about the game yesterday was how weak most of the defenders were with the ball. The bad players, many in the back line, would struggle to make a Div. 2 English team. At the same time, some of the stand-out performers, most notably Bobby Convey in this game, would fit right into a Premiership side. Unfortunately the game was pretty chippy and did not allow the talent to really shine.
I was pretty disappointed to not see more from Landon Donovan. This was not really his fault, when he touched the ball he generally was very good. But he was not getting great service from his teammates. Maybe it was an off day for San Jose, but it seemed like Donovan could make more of an impact in an attacking midfileld position (a Paul Scholes type role). San Jose struck me as having a much weaker midfield than DC. But that might be because the DC midfield had Bobby Convey. It was a tale of two halves for Convey. In the first half he seemed to be in a set-back role, and did not do a whole lot. In the second half he played more of an attacking role, and he made some of the best runs of the game.
But the story of the game was Adu. Honestly, he was far from the best player on the field, and didn't do anything of note really. He had a chance to beat a defender one on one and didn't do it, but that was really his only chance to shine. He made a few good passes, and a few bad ones. There were a number of times where he did not really seem to know where to go on the field, ending up either drifting behind the play when he should have made a run, or drifting into an off-side position and preventing the ball from being played to him. This was my first time seeing him play. I trust that he is an amazing talent, but I would be shocked if he was able to come close to dominating the MLS in his first year. Hopefully I will be wrong.
Also in Soccer news, the big match of the weekend was Arsenal - Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. You will all be happy to know that United came out on top. I was pretty disappointed that the game was at 12 noon BST, meaning 6 am in the US. Needless to say I have nothing to say that I didn't learn from the match report.
Also in England the Queens Park Rangers faced off against Bristol City, their rival for the second promotion spot. It was an away tie, but unfortunately QPR could not steal a point. They are now ahead only on goal differential for the second spot in the First Division, but they do have a game in hand. Should be an exciting run down the stretch at Loftus Road. Come on you R's!
In the Cricket, yesterday England scored a huge win over the West Indies to clinch their first Test Series win in the Carribean in over 30 years. Matthew Hoggard bowled a hat trick (taking a wicket with three straignt balls), the 11th Hat Trick in English history and only the 33rd hat trick in the history of Test Cricket.
It also looks like I picked the right season to not be able to watch F1. Michael Schumacher won his third straight race to start the season. All the predictions that Ferrari would be challenged this season seem to be coming up empty. Disappointing given the excitment that last season provided. Schumacher now has a 9 point lead on his teammate, a 15 point lead on Jensen Button (an impressive third place), and an 18 point lead on Motoya (who was predicted to be his closest rival.
Finally, the Aussie Rules action. The season started last week with a big win for the mighty Saints. This week presented a big challenge with a match against the periennial powerhouse of Melbourne, the Essendon Bombers. But the young Saints were up for the challenge, scoring a 34 point victory and going to the top of the table. It looks like the Saints could really be putting it together this year. Also notable was Essendon dropping two to start the season, and it looks Port Adelaide and Brisbane will continue to be forces to be reckoned with in the AFL. I really need to get Fox Sports World so I can watch the weekly highlight show they have.
by The Yankee
I noticed an ad on Drezner's web site the other day for Bush Meet-Ups. I was thinking that this might be a good place to go to talk person to person about all the harm Bush is doing to the US and the world. But after looking into it I realized that it would be a waste of time. While there were 160,000 people registered for Dean Meet-ups and there are currently 80,000 registered for Kerry Meet-Ups, there are less than 4,000 people registered for the Bush Meet-up. Most refreshingly is that there are less people registered for the Bush Meet-up than are registered for a group called "Impeach Bush". Amen.
by The Yankee
Credit where credit is due...
I usually spend a few moments bashing David Brooks' Saturday column. However the one he produces this week is not as heinous as usual. He makes a point that I made a while ago, basically that the economy will recover no matter what policies are pursued by whoever is in the White House. My issue, which I will go into later is what other policies are pursued along the way.
But Brooks' is still wrong in the course of getting there. What he says is: "Since 1995, the U.S. has enjoyed a productivity renaissance. The McKinsey Global Institute breaks the economy down into 60 sectors. U.S. workers are the most productive on earth in at least 50 of them. Productivity gains cause standard of living increases. Productivity gains lead to employment gains." It is the last sentence where Brooks loses it. Productivity gains are a fantastic thing. They do increase standard of living. The challenge is distributing those gains. There is no guaranteed mechanism for that happening. In fact, there are significant ways that productivity gains go against gains in employment. Basically if everyone needs a loaf of bread everyday if each person producing bread can produce more bread, then less people are needed to produce bread.
But that is the simple stage one of the story. It is a story that leads to less jobs. It is often the case that jobs are created in the next stage of the story. When it takes less people to produce a loaf of bread, the price of that bread should fall. For someone buying bread that means that they have more money to spend on something else. Instead of just buying bread they might buy cheese. People eat more cheese (standards of living rise), more cheese is needed to be produced, and thus jobs are created in a different industry. However there is no equation that says more jobs are created at stage 2 than at stage 1. But the story is ultimately not about jobs, it is about the improvement in standard of living. Productivity growth most certainly enables that, so I am definitely not bad mouthing Brooks' point, just the flippant way that he connects two items that have a complicated relationship.
Now, while Brooks' main point is one that I agree with, there is a lot of stuff that is still wrong with Bush's policies. Job growth is ultimately private sector driven, but there are things that government can do to speed that process. Tax cuts are a great example. However the Bush tax cut provided a small amount of economic stimulus for maximum cost to the budget. He accomplished this by giving the vast majority of his tax cut to the richest tax payers. And now, with the economy growing again, Bush wants to make those tax cuts permanent. He is just ignoring the fact that we have a huge deficit, which is going to be a drag on our economy in the future. But damn the future, we have an election now right?
The other issue is that government can do more to make economic transitions less painful. In the story I described above the workers making bread are hired to make cheese. But that does not happen overnight. We can ease the transition process (and actually accelerate the growth of productivity) by providing better transitional assistance to workers. The biggest missing piece of that puzzle today is health insurance. Linking health insurance with a job is an artifact of the past. It has been obsolete since we accellerated the process of economic change and a job stopped being a job for life. National Health Insurance would encourage people to take more risks, be more entrepreneurial, and more quickly leave a job where they are not being as productive as possible.
Saturday, April 03, 2004
by The Yankee
The attack in Fallujah last week made me sick in a very visceral way. I could not look at the pictures, they made me shudder deep down inside.
But after a few days and with the shock wearing off the real problem is starting to hit me. If you look at those pictures you see the public hating America. The situation in Fallujah and some other areas goes against everything that I think people beleive about America. We are supposed to be the good guys. We grew up with the stories of the American Revolution and World War II infusing our shared identity. Sure America has enemies, but those enemies are supposed to be mis-led. We are supposed to be the friend of democracy, but seeing all those people rioting in the street against America, and showing their hate so strongly, it sure made it look like we were fighting a people.
I am wondering when America got so far off the track that we could inspire thousands of people to the streets, and have hundreds of people without a visible leader take to the streets to kill and mutilate Americans. If I had sketched out a few of the highlights of what we are seeing today five years ago I think that I would have been laughed at. Think about this: A nation with a leader who more people voted for his opponent than for him. That leader leading the nation to an invasion of another country based on intelligence that was wrong and a rationale for war has been largely discredited. And now the invaded nation is killing the troops of the invader everyday, the people are protesting and rioting in the streets.
To me it is shocking and disturbing that America is that invading nation. When you look at it from the outside, and look at the facts somewhat selectively, it is quite apparent how many Europeans can conclude that America is the biggest threat to the world. When we make mistakes like this, when we start marching towards war, what power does the rest of the world have? There was a significant block of nations that tried to stop or slow our march to war, and they could do nothing. All that America has to defend ourselves is that we are a democracy and that the government reflects the will of the people.
But what evidence is there that the American people should be trusted? Almost half of our nation continues to support the policies of George Bush. The rest of the world looks at that and cannot understand it. With that kind of support for our government, and with the way that our government is concealing the truth from the public and lying repeatedly about things big and small where is the evidence that we are not a threat. Our democracy is hurting. Bush puts forth the most ridiculous campaign ads, talks tough, and denies the reality of the impact of his policies. I still have faith that all this will fall apart for him, sooner or later, but in the mean time where is the evidence that I should not be deeply concerned about what is going on with our country?
Events like Fallujah just highlight how powerless the people of Iraq, the people of Europe, the people of Massachusetts are to stop the US government and its failed policies. While the people of Iraq are suffering and getting angry the people of Europe are getting worried all the people of Massachusetts (and New York, Illinois, California, and millions and millions nationwide) are left to watch and wonder where is our power to stop any more of this being done in our names.
Friday, April 02, 2004
by The Yankee
Well, maybe integrity is not the right word, but this article has some interesting things to say about the relative silence of Powell and Tenet during the last two weeks. But in the end all this does is confirm that Richard Clarke is on the mark...and anyone not blinded by ideology has probably realized that by now.
by The Yankee
Stop the lie...
This story in the NYT about writing the Presidential campaign into TV scripts prompts me to ask a question:
Just because a party is telling lies all the time is it the responsibility of the networks to repeat those lies in the name of fair balance?
I think it is time to put an end to the belief that each side deserves equal representation. Bush is all about good and evil, right and wrong; why can't we have a media that will apply those same principles to his statements and his party. They are wrong...a lot...and they are...maybe...just maybe...EVIL!
by The Yankee
My head is full...
I am having a hard time keeping track of all the scandals circulating around the White House these days, and when I think about how the Presidential race is even close my head gets ready to explode. The last few days have been a slight lull in the news about the 9/11 commission (although that is either going to change due to this story, or will just have to wait until next week when Rice tries to spin the administration's actions prior to 9/11). Of course there is also the medicare story , the story about how the White House probably decided to call Letterman a liar when he was clearly telling the truth, the story about using the treasury department to investigate Kerry's tax plan, the story about the GOP senator comparing his opponent's looks to the Hussein sons, and the story about Condi Rice having a speech ready on 9/11 that focused entirely on missile defense and didn't mention terrorism at all. But the news for the last few days has rightly been focused on the craziness in Iraq. But don't worry, people being killed and bodies being mutilated is a sign that we are winning. As Bush said, "Bring it On!"
Anyway, somehow, in the midst of all this I started to wonder what exactly is going on in the Plame investigation. It is quite apparent that the Bush administration will stop at nothing to smear their critics, but on this one they overstepped the lines and actually broke some laws in the process. The investigation has been mostly quiet with a few kick-ups every now and again. There is a story in the NYT today and it raises a number of concerns about the activities of the Administration while also mentioning the course of action if no indictments are handed down. But also on this front is some new information about the ways that Karl Rove might have broken the law in this story. Josh Marshall has the full (and fully hedged) story, but what he appears to be saying is that Rove (because of his access to intelligence) may have broken the law by peddling the story after the initial leak broke via Novak...even if Rove were not the source of that leak. This is one of those days where I think that maybe losing an election is not good enough for these people...they should spend time in jail for all the ways they abused this great nation.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
by The Yankee
What's really going on here...
There are times when I wonder what the heck the Bush Administration is thinking stonewalling the 9/11 commission at every turn. I think, "What's the big deal, they didn't see 9/11 coming, we didn't see it coming, let's just learn from it." But I think I finally have it figured out. The problem is not that they didn't see it coming. The problem is that they didn't see it coming and Clinton did.
If America ever wakes up to the fact that smart people in charge is actually safer than tough talking people in charge than the GOP is going to be banished into the Wilderness. The Bushies know that all they have going for them is their tough talk, and if that falls apart they are as doomed as doomed can be. But for some strange reason I have faith that the truth will come out. It will probably be in a few months, but it might be in a few years. In either case the GOP have only a limited time to really f**k over the USA and their progress has been slowed considerably this year by the need to fight scandels and actually bend to public opinion every couple of days.
Note: Is this just garden variety lying and deception, is it a big deal, or should it be a big deal but we have all grown so used to the lies that it doesn't even merit attention. You make the call.
by The Yankee
What the F**K...
The big story in Boston for the last few days has been the closure of North Station and I-93 while the Democratic National Convention is in town. Of course this is due to security concerns with the train station being directly below the arena the event will be taking place, and the road running underground alongside the arena. But after an experience I had a few weeks ago (see note below) I started wondering what was going on with Penn Station in New York where the GOP National Convention is being held. North Station handles a fraction of the traffic of Penn, and is not a key link on the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. Closing Penn would be a HUGE deal, for Long Island, for New Jersey, for New York City, and for all of the Northeast.
A quick google search reveals that while security concerns will essentially shut down Boston, Penn Station will be able to remain open. Why is that? What is the justification for shuttting down one city because the Democrats are in town and finding solutions to allow another city to remain open while the Republicans are in town. I have no proof, but I really think that something stinks here. Stinks BAD! And you know what? There has not been a single mention of this difference that I have seen in any story about this in Boston. What is going on here?
UPDATE: Apparently the New York Times noticed this difference, but has no real information on why except: "Ann Roman, a Secret Service spokeswoman. "Each security plan is tailored to each venue," "
My story is that I recently attended a basketball game at MSG right after a day of work in NYC. I brought my work bag with me, had it searched, and had no problems with it (well, until beer was spilt behind me and I had to keep the bag on my lap). A week later or so I am heading to the Fleet Center after work, I have my bag with me (same bag) and they refuse me entry. At the Fleet Center they have a no exceptions policy on bags. Well, needless to say I am pretty pissed. There was a bar across the street that checks bags for $10. When I wrote the Fleet Center they said their policy is consistent with other arenas in North America. What the idiots running the Fleet Center don't realize is that they are a special case because they are not surrounded by acres of parking lots where people can just leave their bags in a car. Anyway, it was the difference in policy between MSG and the Fleet Center that caused me to question this convention policy in the first place.
by The Yankee
The awful truth...
Josh Marshall expands on the emerging view that there are some deep flaws in the way that this administration continues to fight it "war" on terrorism. Since the views of Richard Clarke had their public day in the sun the two questions have been: Did the Bush adminstration take terrorism seriously before 9/11 and has the Bush Administration properly pursued the war on terrorism since 9/11 (particularly in its invasion of Iraq). The thread that ties these two questions together is the view that the Bush Adminstration continues to view the major threats to America as being tied to states. There is a lot of evidence which says that we are not deeply threatened by state actors (which we are more than capable of bombing back past the stone age to the big bang) but organizations that are much more difficult to retaliate against (like Al Qaeda and whatever it is turning into under our noses).
But the Bush Adminstration has focused on states. The Axis of Evil was three states, not the terrorists that attacked us and a few other very dangerous groups out there. The threat we addressed was a dictator (who we claimed had ties to terrorist groups) rather than the terrorist groups themselves. And now we are faced with a battle in Iraq where we don't even know who the enemy is. Last year, when I returned to school, I was struck by how just about every trend in the world was viewed through the lens of globalization. This was particularly striking because it is a term that is hardly present in the American news casts. The only time that we talk about globalization is in the context of jobs being outsourced to India or trade with China.
But Globalization is affecting everything in the world and we are painfully slow to adjust to that reality. American troops in Iraq is an issue for Pakistanis, Indonesians, and South Africans. Terrorists training in desert camps in Afganistan exert a huge influence on the course of world events. At the same time national governments (such as the Argentinians) have little power over their own economy. One of the core aspects of globalization is that it reduces the power of state actors. Things happen at either a lower (i.e. local) level or a higher level. The problem is that while this is happening the US government is running around like a bull in a China shop thinking that it can reshape the world by exercising military power against other states.
We are not winning this "war" on terrorism. Heck, we might even be losing the war of civilization against chaos. We should be winning both, but as long as we are fixated on the way that things were and not the way things are we are putting ourselves at a disadvantage. I am not sure John Kerry is the man for this new world, but I am damn sure that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld (with the exception of his emphasis on remaking the structure of the military) are not the people for shaping a better future.