Scott's Soapbox

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Who Doesn't Have a Good "Cheerleader Boots" Story?

From the AP:

A Cleveland Indians pitcher was shot in the right calf when a bullet pierced the team's bus and grazed another player late Wednesday night. Team trainers were able to remove the bullet from the calf of Kyle Denney, who was expected to spend the night in the hospital but was not seriously hurt, perhaps thanks to high white cheerleading boots he was wearing as part of a hazing ritual, club spokesman Bart Swain said.
Kyle Denney is 1-2 with a 9.56 ERA in four starts with the Indians this year.

The rest of the team was unharmed. The shooting occurred as the team rode to Kansas City International Airport after a game with the Kansas City Royals. Swain said the shot was fired into the side of one of the Indians' two buses while it was on a ramp between Interstate 435 and I-70, grazing outfielder Ryan Ludwick. "It went through his pants and then hit Denney," Swain said. "At first, there was a little bit of panic. Once we realized Kyle was OK, fears were subsided." As part of a rookie hazing ritual, Denney was wearing a USC cheerleader's outfit, including the high white boots, on the trip to the airport.
"Our trainers said the boots may have saved Kyle from further injury," Swain said.
Police said Thursday that a tip had led to identification of a possible suspect, who was not in custody. Telephone messages left for the Royals were not immediately returned.
The Indians arrived safely at the airport and boarded a plane bound for Minneapolis early Thursday.
Denney, who started Wednesday night's 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, was expected to rejoin the Indians on Thursday in Minnesota, where Cleveland begins its final series of the season Friday.
After getting called up from Triple-A Buffalo on Sept. 14, the 27-year-old Denney is 1-2 with a 9.56 ERA in four starts with Cleveland. He beat Kansas City 8-3 on Sept. 19 for his first major league win.

Baseball Is Back in DC

For those that do not know, I am from Potomac, Maryland, about 15-20 minutes outside of DC. Maybe it is becuase I am Marylander, maybe it is because I grew up with the Orioles, maybe it is because I went to a fair amount of games growing up (including 3rd game ever at Camden Yards), but baseball in DC? I don't need it. Granted, if I lived in Northern Virginia I would not want to haul it up to Baltimore for a weekday night game. However, for Marylanders, I think the Orioles are it. For DC folk, it is the Redskins 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. The the Wizards, and then maybe Georgetown basketball. Ask Ted Leonsis how much of a hockey town DC is.

The new team will play in a new stadium and I am sure generate some excitement, but I predict the area will now have two so-so franchises instead of one.

Which is the Best Resume Item?

Accountant- Authur Andersen
Factchecker- CBS News
President- Martha Stewart Enterprises
Prosecutor- O.J. Simpson Civil Trial
#1 Fan- Montreal Expos

There's lots of funny here, but maybe I am just too sleepy. It's officially a contest!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Kerry Can Still Win- Here's How

Bush is running as if he is not already the president. Economy- recession started under Clinton. 9/11- not my fault- all I have done is strike back and lead a war. Huge federal deficit- he said yesterday on O'Reilly that Congress needs to show fiscal responsibility. Iraq WMD intelligence- we all believed it: Clinton, Blair, Putin, UN. Chaos in Iraq? Blame the forces fighting against freedom. He is accountable for nothing, he takes responsibility for nothing. Why does he get away with it?

Because Kerry does not offer solutions. He lists the problems with Bush but does not take the next step towards fixing them. All this does is get cheers from his own voters. The undecideds are looking for something more. As I first wrote a few months ago "people have decided they are not happy with Bush." The right-track/wrong track number is still low (41/52 is the RCP average). All Kerry had to do to win was make himself an acceptable alternative. But he hasn't yet (Bush leading 49/43 is also the RCP average). He does not offer us a new direction- he does not say often enough and specifically enough- here is what I would do right now. This is my plan. This is what I believe the next four years should be about. This is why I would be a better president than Bush. It is not enough to say no more Bush. John Kerry has to make people want to vote for him to win.

One thing killing him on this is the Bush campaign's constant flogging about flip-flops. They have succeeded in making this a character issue, particularly when it comes to Kerry's fitness to be Commander in Chief. Unfortunately, while Kerry's record in actually fairly consistent (much more so than the "resolute" Bush) he sounds like he is arguing with himself when he speaks. He sounds like he doesn't know what he really thinks sometimes, and sometimes like he is giving himself an "out" for later on. Some of this is no doubt due to his career in the Senate as opposed to a governor like Bush. He has to answer questions and then get out of his own way. Keep It Simple, Stupid! He must meet this issue head on and turn the tables. Here's how:

The Iraq vote:

"Mr. President, I know what I believe. I voted to give you the authority to use military force if necessary against Iraq. You assured us there were weapons of mass destruction there. There were not. You assured us you would form a global coalition. You did not. You assured us you would seek another vote at the U.N. to try to get support not just for the war, but for the peace. You did not. You assured us you had a plan to win the war and secure the peace, and you did not. Our brave young men and women are fighting and dying over there every day, and lives have been cost by your administration's failure to plan and failure to commit the troops necessary. We let ammunition dumps go unguarded, an army disperse, and looting to ensue. We let terrorists keep their bases of operations and recruit more militants into their gangs. Mr. President, our men and women in uniform deserve better leadership, and when I am elected
president they will have it."

The 87 million dollars:

That quote of him saying he voted for it before he voted against it is the worst thing he has said all campaign. The minute I saw that, I thought "Oh boy. I am going to see this clip in an ad." So here's what to do: "Mr President, of course I would do everything necessary to support our troops in battle. How dare you or anyone else suggest otherwise. I have fought and I have bled for this country, and there nothing more important to me than the safety of Americans, especially those brave souls on the front lines. What I objected to in this bill was how it was going to be paid for and how it was ging to be spent. We still all these months and all these attack ads later have only given out a few million [whatever it is] of all that money anyway. I did not vote against our troops, I voted against the way they were being led here in Washington. I voted against the failed policies of your administration, and I would do it again."

On Iraq:

Kerry needs to say exactly and specifically what he would do and what we should be doing right now to make the situation better and protect our troops. He needs to explain how bad the situation is right now, what our failings are and then I want to hear the words, "If I were president, I would start by doing" And then, he needs to shut the hell up. Simply saying he would have to wait and see what the situation is on the ground (while honest) in January does not cut it, and sends a message that nothing will change right now anyway.

On the economy:

Again, be specific. We know for the most part, Bush's economic record has been lousy. But what would Kerry do differently. Kerry must not say, we have lost so many million jobs, blah, blah, blah. People know this already- just say how he would fix it.

"I would immediately do the following things to get our economy moving again and get good jobs back here in America. At the same time, we cannot ignore the outsourcing of America which is sending good jobs overseas that we need here at home. As president, I would immediately end the tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas and make the climate better for business here at home."

It almost does not matter what the issue is, Kerry needs to say his piece real quick and be done. Do not use all of his time. Do not hesitate or equivocate. Do not beat around the bush (pun intended). Do not say "maybe" it depends" or "I would have to see."

Watch for this- because if this last example happens...

Moderator- Given what we know now, would you support military
action to get
rid of Saddam Hussein?

Bush - Yes. Blah blah blah.

Kerry- Well, of course there is no way to have known that blah blah

We will have four more years.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Rules for the Debates

These have been agreed upon, (by the candidates, at least- the networks are still haggling) see here, and there are some surprises! For one, each candidate wil be given not just a "wireless lapel microphone" but "also an identical microphone to be used as backup per industry standards." They may move around only in there "predesignated area" and "may not leave that area once the debate is under way." (I am imagining right now the candidates being affixed with those electric fence collars for dogs and Al Gore getting shocked back to his "predesignated area" as we wandered over towards Bush in 2000.) For Cheney-Edwards they will be seated, "in swivel chairs that can be locked in place." In case of what- unruliness? I can see Cheney droning on about something, only to be interrupted by a spinning Edwards, gleefully shouting "Whee!" as the circular motion of his unlocked chair causes wind to run through his trademark fly-away hair. He will be grinning boyishly until an unamused Dick Cheney announces "That will be enough! Lock him down." The Secret Service now takes over, and a subdued and immobile Edwards struggles the rest of the way. Score one for the old man.

"Each candidate shall determine the manner by which he prefers to be addressed by the moderator." If I were Kerry I might go for "Mr. President" in the hopes of confusing the matter. How about Bush is addressed as "The Greatest Living American" or "Our Beloved Leader." Maybe they meant it differently, like say...every statement addressed to Bush has to be in the form of an answer, like Jeopardy. Kerry's are all in quotes from movies or something. I'm just spitballing.

Okay, maybe all of this stuff is standard is every agreement like this. Like when I close a mortgage and it seems like every little thing is covered. But I mean, good gracious. Were the Bushies going to try and sabotage Kerry's microphone? Was the Kerry campaign really going to sabotage Bush's podium by writing something on it- "Bush Sucks!" It all seems a little silly. See 'em on Thursday.

This is Hilarious

Kind of like Jib-Jab's examnation of Bush v. Kerry, this is an advertising pitch to re-make the Dick Cheney brand.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Poker Champion

So, we have been playing poker on and off for a few months now, and I finally won the whole thing. We pay out the top 3 finishers and I was fourth the last 2 times, which is so aggravating! It took forever, but I held out and prevailed after going all in a bunch of times at the first table, only a few at the final one. So kudos to me. I took home $120 for my trouble, and a bunch of leftover food...

Friday, September 24, 2004

2:12 p.m.

So I am driving in my car just now, and Al Franken has Joe Conason on his show and they are complaining about Bill Schneider's analysis of Dennis Hastert's comments concerning al Qaeda vis-a-vis John Kerry. They go to a commerical, so I flip over to Rush Limbaugh.

Limbaugh in complaining about...Bill Schneider and they way he framed some questions saying he has a liberal bias.

Bill must be doing something right if he hs both sides mad at him.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

More On That Lady Who Got Fired...

Tim Noah continues the

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Blogging and "New Media"

Andrew Sullivan has his take here. He gets special points for using the word "piffle" which is just so George Will.

I think blogs can act as an important corrective measure to the mainstream media. Plus, it allows for quick rebuttals and quick access to facts useful against the talking heads. (Bill O'Reilly seems to be extremely popular with this- see Sweet Jesus I hate Bill O'Reilly, O'Reilly Sucks, Pocket O'Reilly, et cetera). Not that most blogs are strictly factual in nature. Often, we have no editors, no restrictions, and no commitment to get our facts straight. But most do try, I think the line is clearer in the blogosphere between opinion and staright news than in the mainstream media. Generally, when our coverage is going to be slanted, you know that going in.

From my own experience, I did have one person tell me that my blog was too opinionated! Well, yeah...hello, it's called Scott's Soapbox! Someone else said it was "just like talking to me." I hope that's right.

Cheers to all to write and all who read, we are all sharing our thoughts. And that is a good thing.

Kerry's Top Ten on Letterman

A little humor never hurts:

John Kerry Top Ten Bush Tax Proposals:
#10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. Presidents.
#9. W-2 form is now Dubya-2 forms.
#8. Under simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.
#7. Reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.
#6. Attorney General Ashcroft gets to write off U.S. Constitution
#5. Texas Rangers can take business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.
#4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa to cover the whole damn thing
#3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent
#2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it “nuclear” instead of “nucular.”
#1. Bush gets deduction for mortgaging our entire future.

More on Edwards

Is here in Slate and here in the Post. He is an appealing guy, much more "likeable" than Kerry. So why don't we see him more? At least use him in the ads standing side by side with Kerry or something. Traditionally, the wife of a candidate can "humanize" him and make him seem more like a normal person. Teresa just makes John Kerry seem more strnage and aloof. Edwards has the opposite effect- they seem to work well together, and it makes me feel more comfortable with Kerry. I would break the traditional planning and maybe put the candidtates together a lot. Make a "husbands team" and a "wives team" and send them out on the road together. Both of the Edards could soften up their opposite and make a formidable team.

Monday, September 20, 2004

CBS and its Documents

Well, now that CBS has announced that they are unable to verify the documents, it is time to take a reasoned look back at all that happened. Howard Kurtz wrote a good wrap-up about what happened step by step in the Washington Post Sunday. But I hope to try and put this in a little bit of perspective:

It seems to me pretty obvious that CBS was had. They obviously ran with a story before it was fully vetted. Many are alleging they did this simply out of liberal bias and the fact they "wanted" the story to be true. The fact is, they do have a big bias. The break-the-news-and-get-the-big-scoop bias. The need-to-be-essential-to-the-network bias. A lot of these folks are under a tremendous amount of pressure to keep their jobs. Network news is struggling more than ever to be relevant in these days of 24-hour cable news, online newspapers, online magazines, and blogs. Personally, I never ever watch the evening news. I get the news I care about faster and easier on the web.

So obviously, they got carried away. Also, they did want the documents to be real because it confirmed what they already thought they knew. Bush did not take his physical. He did not fulfill his commitment as he had agreed to. This is undisputed by anyone at the White House. (This is also, I think, irrelevant to anything at this point.) So when CBS got these documents, what was in them seemed to make so much sense that they were ready to believe.

The subsequent mistakes they have made are like something out of any other political scandal: the stonewalling, the blaming of others, the changing stories, the incriminating evidence leaking out slowly in a quote here or a source there. However, this time, it was the news organization on the flip side, and it wasn't pretty. They made a bad situation so much worse by sticking by their story for far too long, with far too little to stand on. Will heads roll at CBS News? Many are calling for Rather's head. Certainly the producer, Maples who had "worked on this story for 5 years" has to go. The whole news organization has been affected by this, and it is unfair to all the rest to not have a good accounting and clean house where need be.

Some questions are now being raised about what if any involvement the Kerry campaign may have had in all this. Joe Lockhart did speak with CBS's fraudulent source (Killian) and this is he tells it on Fox News:

"He had some advice on how to deal with the Vietnam issue and the Swift boat" allegations, Lockhart said, referring to GOP-fueled accusations that Kerry exaggerated his Vietnam War record. "He said these guys play tough and we have to put the Vietnam experience into context and have Kerry talk about it more."

The White House called the exchange evidence of coordination
between the Kerry campaign and Burkett.

"The fact that CBS News and a high-level adviser to the Kerry campaign coordinated a personal attack on President Bush is a stunning and deeply troubling evelopment," said White House communications director Dan Bartlett. He urged Kerry to hold accountable anybody involved in helping CBS obtain the documents.
Okay, wait a minute. This guy talks to Lockhart about something else (both say) and this represents a "coordinated" attack? Killian told others that he had tried to contact the campaign but could not get through to anyone high up and they never called him back about the documents. Let's compare and contrast: the Bush campaign had "nothing to do" with the Swift Boat ads but the Bush campaign's main outside lawyer had to resign because he was involved with advising them? They are bankrolled by a prominent Bush fundraiser? Good lord. (Of course, this comes from an administration who associated 9/11 with Saddam Hussein every chance they get, so maybe they are a little fuzzy on defining relationships.)

The irony of the Bush campaign making its own allegations without any evidence whatsoever about a situation consisting of unsubstantiated allegations is comical. And let's suppose for a minute I work for the Kerry campaign. I get a call from this Killian guy, a known Bush hater who says he has dirt on the president. I tell him not to give it to us, but to give it to the press. What is wrong with that? What should Kerry hold me responsible for? Blowing the guy off? What was I supposed to do? These things were not released on John Kerry's stationary, so what is the problem?

Kerry ends up being the loser in all this anyway. The story is not Bush's record, it is these documents. Bush comes off as sympathetic with people out to get him. Kerry gave a major (and much praised) speech about Iraq yesterday, but got hardly any coverage. This week, we have more beheadings, more bombings, more chaos. But all I hear about are these documents and stories about how awful Dan Rather is. A good week for Bush.

Jimmy Swaggart's Head Explodes

Okay, anyone who is watching knows that Jimmy Swaggart is nuts. He is also a liar, hypocrite, self-confessed porn addict, and repeated user of prostitutes. He was also accused of having an affair in 1989 by a lady who said she met with him10 times between July 1987 and January 1988. She says he inquired about the possibility of his having sex with her daughter as well. Her daughter was 9 years old.

(He did redeem himself by making one of the most unintentionally funny things I have ever seen- here. )

So why do I bring this up: last week on his television show (it's the Septemebr 12th episode, highlights just before the 36th minute). He made the following statements:

"Men marrying men. I've never in my life seen a man I wanted to marry."

Okay, but you've also never seen a prostitute you did not want to bang in a sleazy motel room.

"And I'm going to be blunt and plain...if one ever looks at me like that, i'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."

So, you who is without sin, would murder and lie to God. Of course you cannot lie to God, who is all-knowing, but intellectual consistency is not exactly his strong suit.

"I'm not knocking the poor homosexual, I'm not...they need salvation just like anybody else."

Except, of course, if they look at me in which case I will kill them (see above).

It is bad of me think that if his head really had exploded, I would have rejoiced. But I was praying for a bomb, a bullet, something painful...go to hell, Jimmy. You've earned it.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Whatever Happened To...John Edwards?

I have a seen a few reports about the whereabouts of John Edwards. One pundit asked if he had been whisked to an "undisclosed location." It's true I have not seen any media coverage for him, (except, naturally, when he was just down the road in Chillicothe) and he does seem to have fallen off the radar. Intersting article about what he has been up to here . I agree that Edwards does not have to be the "attack dog" we have seen in campaigns past. With Edwards' positive message and nice-guy demeanor- he just does not seem right in that role. Also, thanks to all the wonderful 527 ads, outside groups can hurl the mud themselves.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hockey Win

We won another close one tonight 5-4. All of our goals were scored by defenseman, as Dugan kept pointing out. (He had 2). We went out after the game, and our fans all agreed that we seem to be getting worse each game. I have no idea why. Now that we are actually practicing we are ghetting worse. I think it is hurting us a little hit because we take it kind of easy on each other in practice and so when we get in a game it is like we are going in slow motion. I don't know, but I swear I used to score goals sometimes...

Scary Stuff from Russia

A great but chilling article in The New Republic about Russia's future. Putin sees one way to deal with terrorism...repression, media manipulation, and a slide towards fascism.

(Yes, one can draw some parallels to the Bush administration's exploitation of 9/11, but the people who would say the two are equivalent think Michael Moore has all his facts straight.)

Really interesting article by Ryan Lizza of TNR, who is out on the trail with Bush. He describes it as alomst being "transported into a parallel universe." The Bush campaign of course refuses to let non-supporters into his campaign events. (Bush spoke recently here in Columbus at Nationwide Arena. I would have liked to have gone, and I even would have ponied up the $10 to get in. However, I would have been required to sign an oath of loyalty, given them my personal information, and said that I was willing to volunteer for the campaign. Um, no thanks.) They have built such a bubble (Andrew Sullivan termed it a cocoon) around the president that blocks out the negative. Anything that does not fit in this structure is simply disreagrded as irrelevant or blamed on the "liberal media."

What's funny is the fact that I don't think they know they are doing it. There is such a sense detatchment from both campaigns to the voters. I think the Kerry people sit around, scratch their heads, and wonder how the hell anyone could vote for Bush. It seems so obvious to them that they are blinded.

Ryan makes a good point about how Bush's reputation for being plain-spoken helps him avoid the truth:

"In fact, the genius of Bush's fetish with speaking clearly and plainly is that it makes it much easier for him to get away with saying things that aren't true. In the Bush campaign, simplicity is equated with veracity."

I think, the idea of Bush being a liar just does not fit the frame in which we see the campaign. The press has never held him to anywhere near the standard they hold others to. We have it framed as...Kerry flip-flops, Bush tells it like he sees it. Bush wants smaller governement, Kerry more. It's all packaging, not substance. We simplify these things so much sometimes that we cannot see what is outside these little boxes. Why to we elect the leader of the free world just like we choose our soda or fast food. If Kerry could somehow go on sale or offer a mail in rebate he would win handily.


Iraq Mess

Two unsurprising facts:

1) Iraq is a mess because we had no plan to recontruct and did a shockingly bad job is assessing what we would find. Dick Lugar says, "The lack of planning is apparent." Our reconstruction efforts are "beyond in the zone of dangerous" says another Republican, Chuck Hagel.

2) Bush is still out there every day saying that "We are making progress" and that everything is getting better. Of course, we are...we take one step forward and then two steps backward. (In fairness to Bush since he does not read newspapers or watch the news on television maybe he doesn't know.) Wait a minute, this was an Intelligence Estimate prepared for him. Crap. Well then, he is just clearly not telling the truth.

The White House response is so typical...Scott McClellan says today:
"You know, every step of the way in Iraq there have been pessimists and hand-wringers who said it can't be done," McClellan said at a news briefing. "And every step of the way, the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people have proven them wrong because they are determined to have a free and peaceful future."
I know, if we just keep going and ignore the pessimists, we will triumph. What they are ignoring is REALITY! Every day there are kidnappings, bombings, beheadings and a security situation which is just degnerating. The so-called safe "green zone" is now a battleground like everywhere else. Yet, the White House just wants to cheerlead. This is pathetic, dishonest, and it is costing lives.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

In case you missed it...

This is kind of a funny story about being fired for one's political beliefs. I just wish John Kerry had emphasized that this was one more job lost under George Bush. Could be a funny line I think...

It's Official- No Hockey!

In a surprise to no one, the owners and players have been unable to agree on a new labor deal so the owners have locked out the players. The main issue is the owners need for "cost certainty" which basically involves a floating salary cap so that player salaries cannot go over a certain percentage of revenues. The players will not go along with any notion of a salary cap and have offered a baseball-like "luxury tax" system. Any team which went over a set figure in salary would have to put money into a pool which is then redistributed to the other owners as a way of competitive balance. Bottom Line: There is going to be no hockey this year, maybe not this whole season. Last time the Stanley Cup finals were not held was 1919, when Ottawa's team (ironically named the Millionaires) and Montreal canceled the series due to a severe outbreak of influenza. All we have now is a severe outbreak of greed.

The players' salaries simply way too high for the NHL's revenues to support with such a small TV contract. On the other hand, no one held a gun to the Rangers' head and made them pay Bobby Holik 9 million a year. If you said "who" that explains why he should not be paid 9 million. Gretzky, Lemieux, okay. Holik not. Even the marginal players now are making high six figures. The two sides are so far apart that this is going to take a long time to resolve.

The bottom line is, no matter who wins in the negotiations, it is abundantly clear who loses. The support staff who work for the teams and the league, the fans, and the game itself. What a good way to setback hockey's continued growth in America. What a shame for the sport!

Saturday, September 11, 2004


What a beautiful day it was today. I had a great time at the library picking up a ton of stuff- some serious, some not so. I took Andrew Sullivan's Virtually Normal with me to Scottie MacBean's in Worthington and enjoyed an iced chai tea and the people watching. Then I headed over to Inniswood Metro Gardens and walked around there for a while. Such a great variety of things to see outside- one of my favorite places in Columbus.

Is there any better feeling than lifting one's face up and being kissed by the warm glow of the sun? (At its best on a cold winter morning, when one's breath floats up in a haze and the cold air meets the radiance of the sun). Is there anything more beautiful than sunlight flickering through the trees, patterns waving and emerging like waves...the light diffuse and softened, just glowing on green and greener leaves? I was sitting down watching this light play it tricks whilst two squirrels played whatever game they play (looked like tag) frolicking through the underbrush. I saw them run, heard a woodpecker pecking away, and watched a caterpillar crawl along the path. And I felt at peace.

What a rejuvenator nature can be! How I felt myself recharge sitting on that bench! Without a care in the world, just enjoying the wonder of it all. A good walk in the park could do us all some good.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Hockey Team Wins

We finally made it back to .500 this season. Thanks to some untimely injuries and a toughened up league, we dropped 2 of our first 3 games. Tonight we win 6-3 but still look awful. I was useless out there for anything but watching the puck bounce off my stick into the corner. Also, I could shoot the puck wide of the net. "Apparently, they're making the nets smaller this year." Thankfully, linemates and defenseman covered for me and I still end up a plus 3. Thanks, guys.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Our Political Dialogue Enhanced

This site says "This sticker has undergone an informal focus groupand the results have shown that it had the potential to sway some undecided voters into the Bush camp."

"Had" in past tense? Not "has" still?

"An informal focus group" sounds to me in size and scope about the same as we had last night at the bar at Max & Erma's over dollar drafts. We agreed that Terlesky should play forward tomorrow night in out game, and we are going to move Shull to defense. We were split 2-1 on whether or not the girl with wearing the black top and glasses was attractive. 3-0 unattractive for orange shirted girl, 3-0, a clean sweep, for the other girl in their group being attractive. Okay, now I'm just trying your patience.

I bet their "group" determined they could turn a profit...

The website is covered with words and phrases so it would come up in any search for "bumper sticker" "Republican" "best" "very best" et cetera. Hooray for marketing!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

What Kerry Should be Saying on Iraq

On the stump today Kerry is talking about how the increased deficit numbers mean yet again, we are on the "wrong track." The people agree already, John. Look, Bush is not running on his record at all. Nobody cares. The Bush administration has lost over million jobs, has 5 million more people without health care, has the biggest federal deficit in history (both as number and as percentage of GDP), has grown even non-military\homeland defense spending as the greatest rate since LBJ's Great Society, has watched Medicare premiums increase this week by a record 15 percent, has involved us in a war which has cost over 1000 U.S. lives, divided our population, and it opposed by most worldwide.

There is no plan nor timeline for us to get out of Iraq. Today, Rumsfeld admitted that Fallujah has become again a safe haven for terrorists, and that ground operations are needed. General Myers said today "The enemy is becoming more sophisticated" and that this accounts for the rise in casualties. Just this bloody month, we have 23 dead soldiers. More wounded, more abductions (2 Italian women and 3 Iraqis today,) well over 50 Iraqi soldiers or police officers dead, Ukrainians pulling out troops, a Turkish company leaving over threats of beheading. This is a success? We are winning? If our casualties are increasing, and they are getting more sophisticated, shouldn't we be doing something? Bush's answer to this is that "We will leave when the job is done." Okay, that sounds good, but how do we know when the job is done? No answer.

This administration has presided over two of the greatest intelligence failures (9/11 and Iraq) ever, and still has no plan besides relying on Congress to fix it. No heads rolled, no structural changes, no big increase in funding, nothing.

Again, if Kerry can't make hay out of this, he deserves to lose.

Republican Convention Summary and Kerry's (Belated) Response

The Republicans wanted to send three clear messages:

1) The war on terror is the issue that matters most.
2) George W. Bush is the man to fight that war.
3) The war in Iraq is part of the war on terror.

And you know what, they did. I thought the convention on these terms was incredibly effective. They set a limited goal and reached it. This convention was not about the economy, health care, the budget, or any domestic issue. This was a one issue convention, and that was its strength and its weakness. They did it by spending much of their time tearing up John Kerry on these issues, saying he was "weak and wobbly," "unfit," "wrong," and basically a big sissy who wants to fight a "more sensitive" war. Bush was able to do this in such a way that he appears above the fray and still look presidential, which is a tough thing to do. So, for the convention at least- Mission Accomplished!

Kerry has responded to this by attempting to shift people's attention towards domestic issues. He came out firing in Springfield, Ohio- about 45 minutes west of Columbus to defend his record and shift the issue. He needed to come out strongly and defend himself, and finally he did. Asking the crowd whether Cheney's "five student deferments" make him more "fit" than his "two tours of duty" is good stuff. Really, Kerry finally met this head on. And then...

He changed course and talked about health care, jobs, and how much Iraq is costing the American taxpayer. This is a mistake on many levels, but let's start out with Iraq. The issue is not how much money it costs but a few simple facts. 1) There are now (as of 9/7) 993 American soldiers dead. 2) There have been 6497 (as of 8/14, last DoD update) American soldiers wounded . 3) The casualty rate is not tailing off, but actually has increased the last few months. 4) We have no plan for when we are going to leave. 5) There have been no weapons of mass destruction found, and this of course was the primary justification for the war. 6) Any links between Iraq and al-Qaeda were informal, furthermore there is no evidence of any joint operational planning or execution.

Why does Kerry not beat Bush over the head with this stuff? He does always use the line about how Bush "misled" us into war, but this is, at best, arguable. Why not use facts? Ask the president to really defend his actions. The problem is, Kerry has boxed himself in. By still defending his vote even if we knew what we knew now, he has limited himself to criticizing only the management of the war. He cannot criticize the decision to go (as by voting for this authority, he is at least culpable) and hence is forced to embrace it. So, Kerry is in a box with all Iraq's slings and arrows. I think he is so afraid of being labeled a flip-flopper one more time he cannot bring himself to do it. But people can change their minds on things when new facts present themselves. I do it all the time, even on war and peace. I know, because I supported this war.

I supported it, because my president and this administration told me things that turned out not to be true. NOTE: I am not accusing them of being liars or distorting intelligence. I think they made the best decision based upon the information available to them. Did they overstate the case- sure. But that is a very big difference. But knowing now there were no weapons I would not trade 7500 soldiers killed or wounded to liberate Iraq. Deep down, would John Kerry?

Whether he likes it or not, terrorism is the issue of this election. John Kerry could make a compelluing case for why he would fight a smarter, better, more effective war. Why doesn't he? He can meet this issue head-on on offer America a real alternative. He can offer a plan for how to make our intelligence better. He can tell us what he would do differently right now in Iraq. He can tell us how long our troops are going to be there. He can tell us what criteria he would use in the future to send our troops into battle. If he can't he will lose, and we will deserve to.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

A Few Things to Unite Us

1) Let us send all our sympathies as a people and as a nation to those affected by the terrible tragedy in Russia. This reminds us once again that we are fighting a global war on terrorism. Nothing should unite the civilized world more in righteous anger than the sight of a dead child being removed from a school. This is what we're up against. To the Russian people who are dealing with this awful event, we are thinking of you.

2) Let us send all our sympathies to President Clinton as he prepares for heart bypass surgery. No matter what your individual feelings are about this man or his presidency, he deserves all our best wishes for as President Bush said "a swift and speedy recovery." (For myself, I have a particular sympathy for those undergoing heart surgery.) Mr. President, we are thinking of you.

3) Let us all be thankful that our southern states were spared at least some degree of the ravages coming from yet another huge storm. Even in its reduced capacity, Charley may still dump 20 inches of rain and cause major damage. For this to happen again so soon just does not seem fair to all of those still trying to rebuild their lives. We are thinking of you.

4) Let us send our heartfelt gratitude to our soldiers here at home and all around the globe who serve us so bravely and so well. I do not go a day without turning towards my bookcase and being reminded of your sacrifice. I look and I see my American flag, my candle I kept from the September 12th, 2001 vigil at the White House, my Washington Post headline which describes New York's skyline sadly as "A View Forever Changed." I see An Army at Dawn, Our Finest Hour, Faith of Our Fathers, and Flags of Our Fathers. Lastly I see the Marine Corps Memorial drawn in colored pencil. It reminds me of the structure itself, and driving past the shattered Pentagon to find it, to find strength for the times ahead. I see those words, writ gold around its base where Admiral Zimitz states that "Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue." I cry every time I think of the lives lost in war, and the ultimate cost made so I can live in freedom today. To all who stand today so bravely for the United States and for freedom across the world, we are thinking of you.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Republican Convention - Day 3

Tonight the Republicans unleashed the dogs of war upon John Kerry. Let's start with Zell Miller.

I will skip Zellotry, Mad as Zell, and other punny introductions. For the moment lets ignore the fact the Zell Miller had flip-flopped on such small issues rights for blacks, segregation, abortion, and Sen. John Kerry (who in on March 1, 2001 he introduced by saying "My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend...John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment.) See Joshua Zeitz' excellent TNR article on this here.

The impression I took away from this speech is how angry Zell Miller seems. He reminded me of a bitter old man in a nursing home, complaining how his children do not come to visit him. His stiff, robotic posture, shrill manner, and obvious lack of respect for any sort of dissent was downright scary to me. I thought I was watching Pat Buchanan scaring off middle America in 1996 with talk of a "religious war."

Miller goes on to say that "our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our Commander-in-Chief." Wow. I find really troubling this whole argument that to question the president is to be anti-American and tear America apart. This is democracy at its finest.

He says Truman "pushed the Red Army out of Iran." I though, maybe if they were still there, we would have someone to negotiate with as opposed to our current strategy about Iran, which is...? Anybody? But of course I'm kidding. Seriously, a "Red Army" reference?

Zell says "Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator." Okay, it is a little ironic to say this when ythe Republican convention is staged just blocks from the Twin Towers in an effort politics with national security. Zell Miller's very existence on that stage is playing politics with national security. So, no debate at all? Or does he mean by "playing politics" actually being willing to sacrafice serious business to merely score cheap political points? We'll see.

"Nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators." Ahem. In a poll published 4/28/2004, 71% of Iraqis view the US troops as "occupiers" rather than as "liberators." But, maybe they are just ingrates. Or maybe something got lost in the translation. More recent polling suggests now this number has risen to over 80%. This is a terrible, terrible shame, and may have damaged our reputation in that part of the world beyond repair for a generation.

Our failure to secure the country immediately, our continuing failure to create an atmosphere providing at least basic safety, our shifting dates and plans for handing over of "sovreignty" to (councils? elections? Paul Bremer? Chalabi?) the Iraqis, the Abu Gharib abuses. Many of these problems come from a basic flaw in the Bush team's post-war planning. It seems clear now to all but them that we did not have enough troops to begin with and we placed them in roles for which they are ill-suited. Our troops are trained to be the greatest killing force the world has ever seen. There is frankly, no one that can even play on the same field as us. However, our soldiers, as brave and competent as they are...they are not traffic cops, prison guards, anti-terrorist forces. They are simply not trained and not equipped for these missions. We should not be surprised when problems occur, and when the populace becomes disenchanted. When I think of the brave sacrifice our men and women have made, with 979 dead and 6497 wounded in action, only to get this reaction from an Iraqi "They say they are bringing us freedom, but what they are bringing is even worse" it breaks my heart. What a management screw-up, and our soldiers on the front line are paying the price. Increased hostility towards the US brings increased hatred., which breeds terrorists, which breeds attacks.

Okay, back to Zell- sorry about that. (But it's my soapbox!) He goes on to list a series of actions by our "army of liberators" WWII, Korea, Cold War (no mention of Vietnam, first Gulf War, Bosnia) . Our soldiers have given us "freedom of the press" (not the reporter), "freedom of the press" (not the poet), "freedom to protest" (not the agitator). I guess I see his rhetorical point- freedom must be protected and preserved, but is their not courage in dissent. I remember reading about a time Albert Camus was the editor of Combat, a French resistence newspaper during World War II and was stopped and searched by the Nazis. They told him if they found the evidence he was involved he would be shot. That to me, takes courage. There is as much courage in standing up and saying "Give me liberty or give me death" as there is in fighting for it. I am proud, so proud, of the fact that I can write my opinions down on this blog for the whole world to see. I can do this with no fear of repercussions from my government. I can do this and no one can make me stop. I know damn well why I can- because of the bravery and wisdom of Americans throughout our history who have provided me with the most free and open society in the history of mankind.

Moving on, he accuses the Democratic leaders of "thinking America is the problem, not the solution." Okay, thanks for questioning their patriotism. Let's all get through our heads a simple concept- America is the greatest nation on earth. What it is not a perfect nation, it makes mistakes, and these have consequences. Anyone want to argue for slavery? Internment of the Japanese? Providing Osama bin Laden military training in Afghanistan? I did not think so.

Miller goes on to list a series of programs Kerry "opposed". And it is a huge, and hugely misleading list. I will leave this to Fred Kaplan in Slate, as he has covered this a few times already-see here and here. Reading the George H.W Bush and Dick Cheney quotes are worth it alone. Suffice it to say, these charges are disengenous at best, given that they cherry pick parts of larger bills. Simple example- Sen. Scott Stuart votes against a bill saying 1) fund the military and 2) round up and kill all the dogs in America. He votes nea, but then votes yea on a later bill to fund the military but leave the dogs alone. Miller declares I voted against funding the military and declares rhetorical victory.

Miller says "Twenty years of votes can tell you much more about someone than twenty weeks of campaign rhetoric." I agree. Miller keynoted for Clinton in 1992 and said Kerry "strengthed our military" just 3 years ago. So, zig-zag Zell strikes again.

"Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations. He would let Paris decide when America needs defending." My first thought was, "the United Nations has moved to Paris? I bet New York is pissed! No, whew, okay- close one." Then I thought, if Kerry really thought that he could not have voted for the Iraq resolution, right? This is all based upon what a disgruntled, recently back from Vietnam, 26-year-old Kerry told the Harvard Crimson in 1970. (Unsurprisingly, he has since disavowed this statement- which is good, because it is of course ridiculous. At his convention, Kerry said "I will never give any nation or international instituation a veto over our national security.") In 1970, Zell Miller worked on the staff of Lester Maddox, who CNN described upon his death as "the defiant ax handle-wielding segregationist" (he had attempted to bar blacks from entering his restaurant in1964, the day after the Civil Rights Act was signed with a pistol and ax handles). Charming. Zell's 1970 is a glass house.

The rest of the speech is just vitriol about how the election of John Kerry would endanger the free world, how he would give the terrorists a "yes-no-maybe" bowl of mush, and how "weak and wobbly" he is. Bush, in contrast, is the whole bestest, with a "spine of tempered steel" (maybe he met Arnold as the Terminator?) and "the same man on Saturday night that he is on Sunday morning" (of course, in our fateful year of 1970, George W. Bush was most likely drunk on a Saturday night). But that's beside the point. (Pretty cheap too, so maybe I should take that out. But my co-worker laughed out loud- so in it stays.)

Zell Miller was tonight who he has always been, a man with his finger in the wind waiting for the wind to blow him in a direction. He is a bitter man who spewed his rage all over that convention floor for all to see. If you missed it there, he yelled at Chris Matthews on MSNBC in an agressive, intimidating manner. His challenging Chris to a "duel" only added to the growing theater of the absurd. Let me close with a quote:

"Americans have seen plants shut down, jobs shipped overseas, and our hopes fade away as our economic position collapses right before our very eyes. And George Bush does not get it!"

John Kerry? John Edwards? Sounds like something one might say today, right?

Nope, it's Zell Miller, 1992, speaking to the Democratic National Convention. How times have changed.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Republican Convention - Day 2

I don't know. I did not see it. I was watching the USA-Canada hockey game while eating chicken wings. Canada looks very solid, and at their best can beat anyone in the tournament. USA has powerful forwards, but the injury-prone defense is not quite able to handle the top-level forwards Canada has. Canada 2-1 win.