Yankee Blog

Friday, November 12, 2004

Maurice Clarett...

There is a great story in ESPN the Magazine this week about Maurice Clarett's saga. Clarett is the former star running back for Ohio State who got run out of town on eligibility issues and then tried to enter the NFL draft early. I wrote about how his entry into the draft could change the NFL a while ago, but it turns out that he was not allowed to enter the NFL and nothing has changed for him or the league.

The story is his side of the separation between him and Ohio State. It is a pretty sordid tale with free cash, free cars, and fixed grades. It is also not the least bit surprising. I have never been a fan of big time college sports, and I think that College Football is the worst of the bunch. The exploitation is just tragic to me. The reason that Clarett got all those perks is because that he what he was worth to the school (actually what he got was probably a fraction of what he was worth to the school). But because of the officially sanctioned collusion that is the NCAA he was prevented from getting a dime of that money. The NCAA, which is run by the colleges, perpetuates a system that benefits the colleges at the expense of young men.

I hope that the ESPN article is the start of a lot more research into this issue and a lot more stories that will expose this situation. However I doubt that will happen. ESPN is being pretty bold in pursuing this story and I applaud them for that. But if you look at the interests of ESPN this is hardly helping them. ESPN has a large investment in College football as a content provider to them, and while in the short term these stories will boost interest, in the long term they will work against the network.

The entire system is closed and the interests are in place to just protect each other. Sports journalism is about creating and driving the interest in sports. It is hardly in the interests of these "journalists" to tell a story that will reduce interest in their subject. Sports are not a given, and there is a reinforcing cycle between those who make the stories and those who tell the stories. I think that is why stories like the Clarett tale are so rarely told, even though they are so common. Maybe this will change things, but I doubt it.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Great article...

The magazine, "Next American City" has a great article on SimCity. I think that this game has done a tremendous amount to influence the number of people interested in city planning. I would not go as far as the author of the article to say that it actually influences how people think about city planning. It might be the case that the game points to certain dynamics, but I think that anyone who has a week of experience working for a city or trying to "plan" a city would have much of a "god" complex.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Who's a fan...

I am a big fan of the Apprentice. If you are too, I really recommend the episode recaps written by Sam (from the first season). He is not afraid to lay into Trump, the candidates, or anything else. It is quite funny, well written, and benefits from his experience as a contestant, but not in an obnoxious, the Quaterback who just retired and is now an announcer kind of way.

Definitely worth reading.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Fun and games...

I have been amusing myself at times over the last few days by imagining how great a George W Bush concession speech would be to watch. Seeing that smug, arrogant man humbled by a second straight failure to convince the majority of Americans to vote for him would be excellent. He will probably be a stammering mess. I am sure that he will do some conventional things, like thank his supporters and will do fine, but how will he handle having to be gracious in defeat.

Do you think he will still maintain that we are at war and need to be united behind our Commander in Chief? I think it more likely that he will lay the future groundwork for blaming Kerry for any future terrorist attacks. If it is somewhat close, but not razor thin, do you think he will say something like it is more important to put the good of the nation ahead of his own ambitions? I doubt it.

There are times when I think about how this could play out that he just might refuse to accept the results of the election. He will claim something like there was just widespread voter fraud and that he will remain in the White House until it is all investigated. At that point things could get very ugly, like blood in the streets ugly. I hope that it does not happen, but I would put the chances at a real, yet marginal 5%.

What I hope for is that the message our nation sends is loud and clear. Bush is not the leader that we want. We don't embrace his politics of fear and policy for special interests. We want to reluctantly go to war, not gleefully and ignorantly. We want a government that can be open and honest with the people and not rely on lies and deception to get its message across.

I sincerely hope that this election produces not just a Democratic President, but a more responsible Republican party. I want the choice to be real and not forced on me. I want to actually think that what the Republican promises he might deliver and be capable of doing it well. I hope that there is some massive bloodletting from the Republican party, and that several people go to jail, but I don't want to see the GOP crippled for decades as a result.

More questions...

I realized that I forgot two questions. Maybe you want to vote, know who to vote for, but don't know where to go. Well, assuming you are registered (and if you are not shame on you), you can just go to MyPollingPlace.com and enter your address and zip code and find the location you go to vote. It is impressive what the internet can do today.

Now, let's say you are confused about your rights as a voter. Well, after the last election a few people thought this might be an issue. So a variety of groups have put together information about your rights as an American voter (again, assuming that you are registered). You can read the DNC's version of voting rights. You also might want to print out the form to distribute to your friends and co-workers.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Why should I do anything else?

Read the earlier posts and you will see that this eleciton matters. Unfortunately in our "democracy" not all votes are created equally. There are lots of votes that end up being meaningless. In addition the vote of someone who cares very deeply about the outcome can count a lot less than a vote cast by someone who decides on the basis of which candidate they would rather have a beer with.

But by volunteering and asking your friends to vote you are overcoming these problems. Let your passion make a difference. Each person you call or drive to the polls increases the impact that you have in the election. It can be your personal protest against the electoral college.

Additionally it would be a shame to wake up on Wednesday morning, be stuck with four more years of Bush, and know that you did not do everything possible to prevent that from happening. Doing more than just voting will make sure that you wake up on Wednesday morning with a smile.

What else can I do?

You should first vote. Then comes the next part. Here are just a few ideas:

You can volunteer for the Kerry Campaign. Just click on this link and they will find a way to put you to use. It might be making phone calls, it might be going door to door. It might be driving people to the polls or it might be standing on a corner with a sign. All of these things make a difference.

You can also volunteer with MoveOn or ACT. These organizations are dedicated to making sure that the right to vote is preserved for every American. Help them out and you will be helping John Kerry put our nation back on the right path.

You can also just make sure that your friends vote. This election matters...big time. And it is important to remind all your friends that it does. Call them early on election day and remind them to vote. If they are hestitant, just ask them to consider it a personal favor. People care about you, and if you make it clear that this matters to you, than it should matter to them as well.

Why should I vote?

First, you should vote because you have the responsibility to do so. Democracy does not work if people don't vote. I think we saw in the 2000 election that every vote can matter.

Of course there is the little thing called the Electoral College that is fundamentally un-democratic. But even though some votes mean a lot less in selecting a President it is still important to send a message. I will have a lot more confidence saying that Bush does not represent America if he lost two straight popular votes.

But that is just why you should vote in general. For this election the stakes are so high and the candidates are so different. We need to send a message that failure is not a basis for re-election. If the way Bush has treated America and Americans over the last four years is not repudiated it will only be worse in the next four years. And the only chance you have to send that message is on November 2nd. So take the time, even if it is all day in line, to make your voice heard.

Who should I vote for?

If you are seriously asking this question at this point in time I really wonder what you are thinking. Read just about anything in this blog and it will be pretty clear what I think. But there are two major types of reasons why you should vote for John Kerry. The first is that our nation will be a better place with John Kerry and a worse place with another four years of George Bush. The other one is that Bush and the Republicans are engaging is some of the most despicable moves to undermine this election and that alone is a reason to preserve our democracy and let these people know they cannot steal an election.

On the policy side, let me just provide a few links to posts from the past year that highlight Kerry's strength and some of the larger failures of the Bush administration. First, check out this speech by Kerry on our foreign policy challenges. I really think that speech was a turning point of the campaign and gave Kerry momentum into the debates, which he dominated. And remember his convention speech. That was the best vision of a different America I heard in a long time.

But what about Bush's failures (and there are many). Think we are just losing troops in Iraq, and that is a price we should be willing to pay? Read about how our failure impacts our ability to intervene in other areas, like the Sudan. Remember the hate fest that was known as the GOP convention, I thought that was a low point in our nation's politics, only to be surprised how much worse they have been since then. How awful is it that when a story comes out about our failure to secure explosives in Iraq the Pentagon spokesperson dedicates himself to trying to spin the story.

And looking back to Iraq, read what I wrote on the eve of that war. It is chilling how much has failed since those days and how wrong I was to trust our government. It is helpful to be reminded how screwed up our intelligence was before our invasion of Iraq. But if you want to remember the symbol of this war that sums up our failure best, look no further than the hooded and wired up Iraqi prisoner. It is tragic that the US invaded to bring freedom and all we did is provide millions of Muslims with a symbol of US oppression. We have created far more terrorists with our Iraqi mis-adventure than we have eliminated.

I am always chilled to think how fighting terrorism is our highest priority, until it starts to make sense to outlaw weapons that could kill hundreds in minutes, which are sold right here in America. And also on the domestic side, how about hate being put into our Constitution. Let's not forget the deficit and tax cuts, we are putting our nation into debt today, and that debt will be borne by my generation and our children. That is not responsible policy.

Finally, here is what I thought was going to be my last word on this election. But you don't have to take my word for, read what the New York Times has to say or what the New Yorker has to say. And if you don't actually think about those arguments because it is just "the media" than our nation is in worse shape than I thought.

Now on the stealing the election side, there are a lot of stories that I could reference, but just take a look at this post and you will get a sense of what I think about this. If you want to read some more stories about election fraud, then check this out, or this, or this, or this. And remember the Swift Boat Veterans for Destroying American Democracy. At some point the stories just start to make you sick. You have to wonder about a democracy where one side believes that their best chance is to lie and try to make it more difficult for some groups of people to vote than others. For those on the fence, just think about how privledged you are to have the right to vote, and think about which side is more interested in seeing the election reflect the views of all Americans.

A series of posts...

I have been silent on the blog for the week, but I am about to spend my day writing a series of posts. Each post will try to answer a question about the election. These questions will be:

Who should I vote for?
Why should I vote?
What else can I do?
Why should I do anything else?

So, let me try to get right to this. For my purposes, each of these questions will be a different post.

Friday, October 22, 2004

In jail without a key...

This is the most disgusting thing I have ever read. These people really should be thrown in jail and have the key thrown away. People who try to discourage people to vote are the most virulent anti-Americans in the world. They are terrorists. There are not enough words for me to express the anger that I feel towards these people.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I wonder...

Starting from the assumption that all parties involved are sane, the only explanation I have for this story is that Bush and Co. really must have done something to piss off Pat Robertson. If that is the case, it is a great example of doing something little that really screws someone over.

Now the assumption that all parties involved are sane is certainly open to questioning.

Great post...

The Decembrist comes through again with a classic. This post about the sewage pit that American conservatism has become puts down what I have been thinking and unable to articulate for a long time. In my work I come across a lot of serious Republicans. These people are owners of small and mid-size businesses. They look at what they have accomplished and only see government as a hassle to them. There is something to this view. These people encounter tons of red tape every day and some (not all) of it is nothing more than a pain in the ass. For government to do its job as well as possible you need times when new regulations are passed and times when the regulations that don't work are tossed out.

But what are seeing today is so beyond the pale that it is not working to a productive end. Bush and DeLay are not trying to roll back regulations that don't work, they are just working to expand the government in ways that control peoples' lives, while getting rid of regulations that work. It is the opposite of what conservative government is supposed to be.

Now unfortunately politics today is not about debating the issues that affect people's lives, rather it is about tribal loyalty. The small business owners and other traditional Republicans are so distrustful of Democrats (due to divisive rhetoric) that they are unable to see when Bush and DeLay are betraying the faith their party and their nation put in them. It is this sad state of affairs that Jon Stewart was railing against on Crossfire last week.

But all of what I am saying now is about the same as what Kevin Drum wrote in this post where he compares George Bush with Jimmy Carter (although I really have no idea what Carter did that is so bad, but I was 5 when he left office so I might have missed something).

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Because I am angry...

Dan Drezner has been on an epic campaign to stay on the fence regarding who he is going to vote for this year. Dan is historically a Republican, he supported the invasion of Iraq, but he also thinks about things and is willing to look at how things really are. His most recent post put his chances of voting for Kerry at 80%, but he put up a last minute plea for comments that might change (or reinforce) his decision. And I just need to take a few minutes to refute and ridicule the idiocy of some of the arguments for re-electing Bush.

Comment #1:
I fear for the future of this country when 1,000+ dead in a country of 290 million is considered too high a price to pay for what our ancestors willingly sacrificed everything for.

This is just silly, people are not bothered by the number of deaths, they are worried because those deaths are not making us safer, and the entire invasion of Iraq has only undermined our credibility in the world and made more people really, really, like terrorist angry with us. Ten thousand deaths of brave soldiers would not be too high a price for peace, but with the way we are waging this war those deaths right now are only a sign of pending defeat.

Comment #2:
I fear Kerry has been able to get by on anti Bush sentiment to this point and, if he is elected, we are going to regret it sooner and later.

Well, the Bush campaign had a chance to make the campaign about Kerry and they failed. The focused on a made up story attacking his heroism from three decades ago. If you actually listen to what Kerry has said in the debates, and what he has said throughout the campaign you will see that Kerry has a better vision for America. The Bush campaign insists on repeating that Kerry is a Massachusetts Liberal, but that is just a meaningless label. But the fact is that a re-election campaign should be about the incumbent. If Bush did a good job he would deserve to be re-elected, but he did not, so we need a change. That is the way the world works.

Comment #3:
I understand the fear that a second administration may be taken as a validation of bad policy decisions. However, I think that is unlikely. I think most people, and the president especially view this election not as a referendum on the policy decisions, but on the foreign policy instincts.

OK, now we are drifting into the world of denying reality. America is not going to be judged and our peace will not be determined by good instincts. We are going to be judged by the decisions and the results of those decisions. We cannot just create our own reality out of our instincts, but have to deal with reality. Bush has screwed things up, that is the reality, and we have to deal with reality, not with "instincts".

Comment #4
Kerry's doctrine seems to be best described by a do-nothing approach unless (a) we get the green light from a variety of non-U.S. actors, including those who may or may not have adverse interests in the U.S. in taking the action, and (b) the threat is so imminent as to be completely unavoidable.

Again, please listen to what Kerry actually says. That refutes the first part. But more troubling is this belief that we really should be attacking everywhere in the world just because we have a hunch (that might be wrong) that they are a threat. When did it become our job to attack every nation in the world? What is bad with trying to work with the rest of the world to stop threats?

Comment #5
I might be moved to vote for Kerry, if only I thought he had any character. And if only he weren't a Democrat.

Well, this one is at least honest. I feel like this is the real reason why most people stick with Bush, and it has nothing to do with records, beliefs, and policy positions. It is just about the label, and when labels trump all else that is not a good decision making process. I think the only people who continue to be believe that Kerry has not character are those who are willing putting their heads in the sand, and voting purely based on a label is good indication of that.

Comment #6
Kerry's problem is not that he has excessive faith in diplomacy, it is that he doesn't understand the nature of diplomacy at all...Diplomacy had failed to bring Saddam into compliance with international will not because more countries needed to scowl disapprovingly at his obfuscation, but because he had no reason to believe he personally would suffer.

Well, actually diplomacy was ready to work. Bush could have had a great victory in Iraq if he was ready to take it. He got the authority to invade, he went to the UN, he got the inspectors in, and he could have left them there and demonstrated that as a victory over Sadaam. But Bush ignored that process. Kerry talks about it. The absence of data on Kerry is just a function of being a challenger. That ends up being the core of many arugments for Bush, and it basically boils down to vote for Bush because we can't change Presidents now. And that just gets me mad. That is not an argument for Bush, but an argument for dictatorship.

OK, I am tired and sick of this crap. Bush voters are not going to change, because they don't deal with reality or objective examination of facts. The media also sucks, they seem to have no desire to call Bush out on his lies and mis-truths. They allow this election to be about who is willing to tell the biggest lie.

It would be sad...

The New York Times has made official what anyone with half a brain would have seen coming for months. That they are endorsing John Kerry for President. And while making it official is not really noteworthy, the editorial is worth reading. It is ruthless in laying out what harm Bush has done to our nation and what little concern he actually has for the national interest. In reading it I started thinking it was over the top, and it was sad to just pile on a President who is so clearly a horrible leader for our nation. A horrible leader at any time, but an especially tragic choice at a time when the stakes are so high.

But you know what, it is not over the top and it is not sad. It is entirely neccesary because we have an electoral process that completely sucks and we have a vast number of citizens who are so willing to stick their heads in the sand and vote on the basis of such idiotic reasons as which person they would rather have a beer with.

I am pretty sick and tired of people calling our nation the best in the world. We have a lot to learn from the rest of the world. We could be great, but our greatness is hampered by our almost willful ignorance of reality and our horrible Electoral College that completely skews the political process. Maybe someday these things will change, but in the meantime the only reasonable thing to hope for is to have Bush removed from office and give some grown-ups a real mandate to try to fix the mess that Bush has created in our nation and in the world.

Friday, October 15, 2004


I have a friend who believes that everybody who commits election fraud and takes votes away from people who have the right to vote should spend a long time in prison. I agree. People who try to take away the right to vote are essentially saying our government is not for certain people. This is lower than low. It is only done by the kind of scum that lives off the slime that grows in the darkest corner of the wettest, dirtiest pools of sewage. And while I believe that these people will be punished ultimately for their deeds, that is little consolation while they are conspiring to take away the representative nature of our government and pose a real threat to our democracy. I do hope that we have

Thursday, October 14, 2004


I really am sorry for not posting more. I just checked the stats on this site, and for some reason I am getting more visitors a day that I did a year ago when I was writing several posts a day (it is actually interesting to read them...at least for me).

I have said this before, but let me say it again, the problem really is that there is nothing left to say. I have made it quite clear that Bush is the worst President ever. I don't really think it makes a difference to add another reason to the pile of why he is the worst President ever.

I have thought for a long time that Kerry will make a good President. I think that everything in the debates confirmed my view.

The last couple of months have really bothered me (and I assume that is not going to change in the next couple of weeks). I find the political process to be so dirty that it turns me off from what I like, which is a real discussion of what is the best thing for America. I do have to tip my hat to the debates though. They have been great for showing each candidate for what they are and also for showing some stark differences in their policies and approaches to how to govern America.

But each day I read more stories about voter fraud in Nevada, Oregon, etc. and it turns me off. I think it is time to stop fooling ourselves in America; we do not have a great democracy. We have a political system that is run by a very strong executive, and the election system for that executive effectively disenfranchises millions of voters. I have mentioned this before, but let me ask you to indulge in this thought exercise again: Imagine how different the focus of the election would be if the popular vote determined the winner. Imagine what issues we would hear about and which ones we would not. Imagine how much more confidence we could all have in our President. Imagine how much less of an impact the dirty political stunts of each side would have. Imagine if you had a neighbor whose vote mattered.

It is at this time of the political cycle when I start thinking about these things more and how fundamentally imperfect our system is, and how utterly impossible it would be to change the system. It really bothers me.

Perhaps I should just get back to writing more posts about sports. Did you know the Yankees (at least for now) kicking the crap out of the Red Sox? Did you know that the US qualified for the next round of World Cup Qualifying? Did you know that Australia won the first test of a four test series, but has since fallen behind in the second test? Did you know that Queens Park Rangers have put together an amazing run in the Championship? Did you know that Port Adelaide kicked the crap out of Brisbane in the Grand Final? Did you know that the New York Football Giants are 4-1? Maybe a few more posts about all of that stuff would get me interested in blogging again.

Also, did you know that they are thinking about building a Gondola as a mass transit system in Ogden, Utah? There is lots of interesting stuff, but I just have to get excited about it again. Hopefully I will be able to be happy and think about all of it after November 2nd. I really hope that I am a happy camper after November 2nd. Really!

Great Column...

I have been kind of enjoying the post-hiatus Thomas Friedman. And while he got the whole Iraq thing wrong every which way, he gets this right. Read IT

Monday, October 11, 2004

Pedro Sucks...

We learned in the last couple of weeks of the regular season that Pedro sucks. We are also learning it hear at the Yankee Blog when Pedro abandons all posting to the Yankee Blog. Well, in the spirit of ALCS rivalry Pedro is hearby officiallly suspended from all posting activities. I am sure that you will miss his lack of posts. To say good bye let me quote what he wrote, but didn't post about the recent elections in Afganistan:

The funniest and saddest thing in the Sunday paper this week will be
thearticle about the Afghan presidential elections. Three years, thousands of
troops providing security, scores of highly paidinternational elections experts,
hundreds of meetings, tens of murderedregistered voters and elections
volunteers, hundreds of millions ofdollars of development money, and about a
billion speeches made by the Bush Administration trumpeting the success of
democracy in Afghanistan. And the UN never bothered to make sure that the ink
used to mark the handsof voters wouldn't wash off with soap.Unbelievable. Except that it was really the most predictable outcome.

Friday, October 01, 2004

What I think...

Well, clearly I think that Kerry won the debate. But that is because I listen to their ideas, and I know that Kerry's ideas are superior in my mind to those that Bush has been repeating for months on end. So, really, my opinion on who won is meaningless. But it is nice to see that lots of people agree with me.

During the debate Bush asked,

"What's the message going to be?" he asked. "Please join us in Iraq for a grand
diversion? Join us for a war that is the wrong war at the wrong place at the
wrong time? I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit
down with world leaders frequently, and talk to them on the phone frequently.
They're not going to follow somebody who says this is the wrong war in the wrong
place at the wrong time."

I think there is a fairly straight forward answer to this question posed by Bush. The message will be,

"We screwed up. We thought that Sadaam was an imminient threat, you thought that he was a threat, and we were all wrong. We thought that we could put Iraq on the path towards democracy, but we were wrong there too. We need help. The fact is that the previous President of the United States made a series of errors in judgement. I wish that we could fix those errors quickly, but we cannot without help. We are coming to the world and specifically the arab community to ask for your help. Regardless of how we got here, we need your help now. A broken Iraq, with chaos on the streets, and the potential for civil war helps no one. We need to spend the time to work together now to get this right, or we will all be paying the price in the future. The US is in trouble here, but the future of the middle east is in trouble too. We need to look forward from this day, and say what can we do to make the world safer. Step one is to stabilize Iraq, and the last 18 months have shown that the US cannot do that by itself. We need help, and we are asking you for that help. We will work together to find the best way to put Iraq back on track and make the world safer for the next five years and the next generation. "

That is a message that only John Kerry can deliver. It is a message that Bush has explicited refused to deliver. And it is the only message that will make the US safer in the long run. It is the message that will start restoring the US's credibility, which is the most important thing in the world right now.

The other thing that amazed me about the debate was the absolute banality of Bush's answers. Every argument that he made basically boiled down to, "I am the President today, and because of that I should be the President tomorrow" There was no rationale to this argument, it was just put forward as a truth that should not be argued with.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Step 2b...

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

$ 40,000
$ 38,000
$ 36,000
$ 35,000
$ 35,000
$ 34,000
$ 33,499
$ 32,500
$ 31,500
$ 30,000
$ 30,000
$ 30,000
$ 29,750

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

Learn more...

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

Step 2...

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

Stop Tom DeLay...

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

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


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

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

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

This is a travesty...

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

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

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

Monday, September 20, 2004

Powerful stuff...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Potent line of attack...

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

That Liberal Media...

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

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

Thought exercise...

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

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

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

Seems about right...

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

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

Caught my eye...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


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

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

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

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

Friday, September 03, 2004


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I wonder...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evil plot...

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

An idea...

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

It would be a shame...

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

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


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

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

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

The Death Spiral...

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Sport...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Let's not get carried away...

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

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

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