Scott's Soapbox

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Wow, 100 Posts

I have spent a lot of time on this thing.

Ah, but the blog is a cruel mistress- it requires a lot of time, a lot of research, and it taunts you with its neverending appetite for new material. I wish sometimes the thing would just update itself, you know?

I will be back letr on with some personal news and some election preditions- for now, Playstation hockey. I am looking forward to my fourth striaght one-goal loss to Craig. Untill later...

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Eighty Degrees and Sunny

Not in Florida. Here, in Columbus Ohio. Last weekend in October and I am wearing a silk shirt, shorts, and sunglasses. The sky is Chamber-of-Commerce blue, not a cloud to be found. I have been running errands all day, not sure whether to wash the car or go to the park this afternoon. So light blogging- enjoying the day instead.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Missing Iraq Weapons

This story is obviously getting huge play right now in the media, I think because it fits the storyline of the election- Bush's determination/bullheadedness versus Kerry's argument of competence. Here is a response I wrote to a discussion on our family website:

What happened to these explosives is still a matter open for discussion. The AP article a brief timeline here: to UN inspectors, they were there and marked the explosives in January 2003. They were last there March 15th, 2003 at which time the seals were unbroken. The inspectors pulled out before March 20th, due to the pending invasion. Our first troops arrived there April 3rd and were engaged in a battle there. They did not search the area thoroughly at that time. April 6th, they left- April 10th, the next big unit in. They did not search the complex. Widespread looting was reported at the time. However the area did not get searched until May 3rd, at which time the weapons were found missing. The point being, between March 15th and May 3rd, the weapons dissapeared. We have no idea where they went oe when they left. All we know is that we do not have them. Did Saddam move them- then where are they now? Syria? Insurgents have them? Who knows?Okay,opinion time...The reason this is getting such big play is it fits many peoples dynamic of the war. I, for one, supported the war but think it has been run in a just amazingly irresponsibile manner. The administration ignored War College planning, Congressional reports and military opinions that all said we would need more troops- not for the war, but for the peace.

With more troops (ours, or a bigger coalition) we could have searched these areas more rapidly, controlled the borders, stopped much of this insurgency before it began. This administration did not do this, and it did not level with the American people about what it would take to accomplish the mission. It is plain to I think anyone who looked at this before the invasion that we would be in Iraq for YEARS. The administration has called this suggestion "reckless" while the offical military planning has us there at least until 2007 (which is as far as it goes out). We are building permanent military bases over there. Remember the flap about how much it would cost- paid for by the oil, Hadley (Wolfowitz' deputy) told Congress. In the debates, Kerry said over 2000 billion and Bush said less than that. Bush was right, at least until he requested funds pushing it over $225 billion.

In sum, I think this operation, while necessary and noble, has been plagued by incompetence and hubris from the start. We never had enough troops, never had the money, never had a plan, still, to this day do not have an exit strategy. This is why so many thoughtful Bush supporters in 2000 are abandoning him in the media and blogosphere, why so many are frustrated. Chris Hitchens, Andrew Sullivan, Dan Drezner, Bob Barr (R-Ga.), The Economist many a newspaper that endorsed Bush last time are passing this time. What a failure it is of both men that the two "plans" we have are 1) more of the same admit no mistakes ever ever ever or 2) I'm not Bush so I will be better. Sad. Our troops deserve so much better.

(Also, if Kerry had a real plan to fix Iraq, he would be up by 10 points.)

More on Explosives

Jack Shafer gets it exactly right in Slate.

Money quote: The New York Times scoop raises as many questions as it answers.

Also, the sentence "A waltz through Nexis and a skip through Google document the breadth of the public knowledge about the boom-boom Saddam stored at Al-Qaqaa" is simply one of the best sentences I've ever read. That's why they get paid the big bucks to write I guess.

I do it for free, for "the love of the game" so to speak, so while not rich, famous, and influential, I am at least "pure." So take that, Jack Shafer!

A Beautiful Fall Day in Ohio

Look here and reflect...

Thanks to Laura for the photos all around Columbus.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Red Sox Close it Out

Sweeping the Cardinals after winning 4 straight against the Yankees. They won eight straight games at the biggest time of the year. It is only been since 1918.

They did it in style with determination and heart.

Congratulations to them. They deserve it.

The Modern Way to Campaign?

Politicians on scooters?

Good times.

Fallout Beginning for Bush's new Civil Unions Position

Guess what, Bush is now for civil unions and some people do not like that very much:

Front page link on even Fox News!

But this is a complete non-story right now. All the other MSM outlets it is all horse-race coverage. How sad.

Slate Bears All

So Slate has surveyed their writers again to ask how they are voting. Unsurprisingly, it's Kerry 45 to 4. Some hilarious wuotes ensue:

Will Saletan (chief political correspondent) :

Here's what I wrote about Bush when we disclosed our votes four
years ago: "He's shallow, obtuse, and proud of it. He's disdainful of reflection
and indifferent to work. ... Congress can restrain either of them, but a
president can catastrophically botch a foreign policy crisis all by himself. I
trust Gore in that situation. I don't trust Bush."

Looks like I was wrong about Congress.

Henry Blodget, Contributor: Kerry

Not perfect, but "reality-based."

Timothy Noah, Senior Writer: Kerry

Sen. John Kerry is the least appealing candidate the Democrats have nominated for president in my lifetime. I'm 46, so that covers Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, and Gore. McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis get the worst press in this bunch, but I liked all three of them and still do. I can't pretend to like John Kerry. He's pompous, he's an opportunist, and he's indecisive. Although I'm impressed by Kerry's combat record in Vietnam, I can't suppress the uncharitable suspicion that what drew him there wasn't patriotism so much as a preppy passion for physical challenge and the urge to buff his future political resume.
Still, I'm voting for Kerry...Kerry may rate a C-minus, but a C-minus beats an F.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

More Ohio Litigation

The Republicans have now filed 35,427 challenges in 65 counties against newly registered voters. Those folks that registered but had their mail returned as undeliverable are suspected of fraud by the GOP, whereas the Democrats suggest these people might have moved, et cetera. The point is, by acting pre-emptively the Republicans are trying to prevent people from voting on what may just be a technicality. I do understand the concerns of people voting more than once, people being mixed up on Election Day. But let's put this in perspective:

I myself moved just over about a year ago. What if I forgot to re-register to vote? What if I did not know? Should I not be allowed to vote now? Should I be denied the right just because of this?

Frankly, that is un-American. One person, one vote. Both sides ought to encourage everyone who can to vote. If it is a pain to count, a pain to sort out, a pain to get it right...then let us all work together and get it done. America should be the model for democracy in the world, instead we have serious talk about the UN monitoring our elections. What a disgrace!

Since I initially posted, The Washington Post has a great wrap-up of these Ohio issues. It reminds me again how much better the Post is than the Columbus Dispatch, which for the 15th largest city in America, is just a terrible newspaper. All one gets is AP and Knight-Ridder stories mixed in with the occasional article I could have written better in 5 minutes.

Just One More Reason to Hate the Buckeyes

For the small fee of $530,000 per year, at least through 2005 the annual Ohio State-Michigan game will be known as the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic. Ohio State will display a big SBC ad right on the scoreboard.

Now, I know money plays a role in all these kind of things. I do not pretend that big-time college athletics is pure love of the game stuff, but this is really ridiculous. I understand that bowl games have sponsors (my all-time favorite was the Poulan-WeedEater Independence Bowl) but regular season games. Seems crazy to me. Couldn't we all just pretend it's still innocent?

Bush Flip-Flops Again

Gay marriage is a) a states' issue (2000) b) a federal issue (2004) or c) a states issue (now).

Bush supports a) civil unions (2000) b) not civil unions (outlawed by his propsed amendment) or c) civil unions (now).

He told Charlie Gibson on Good Morning America:

He [Bush]added: "I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman. Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others."

Mr. Gibson then asked, "So the Republican platform on that point, as far as you're concerned, is wrong?"

"Right," Mr. Bush replied.

The article goes on to point out that back when Bush proposed the consitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, he said he believed states should have the right to recognize the civil unions if they so pleased. Of course, the amendment he supported, and the one Congress voted on, contains the following:

Marriage in the United States “shall consist only of a man and a woman.” It also would have required that neither the U.S. Constitution nor any state constitution “shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidence thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”

The key to the latter part is the phrasing of "legal incidence thereof." This means all the things that come along with a marriage contract- property rights, financial rights-of-action, shared health benefits, hospital visitation rights, et cetera. These are all the things a civil union is designed to produce.

So, the problem with holding these two positions- 1) civil unions if states allow them and 2) supporting the amendment- is that they are inherently contradictory.

For most people, this results in what I learned in Psychology 101 as "cognitive dissonance" an uncomfortable feeling when one attempts to hold opposing thoughts as both true in one's head. The textbook (literally) example of this is the picture of a dress in the window- guy thinks 1) "I hate that dress! Who would wear something like that?" He thinks 2) of his girlfriend "I sure love Mary!" Naturally, he next sees Mary wearing the hated dress. He experiences "cognitive dissonance" and psychological stress as a result of it. He then "resolves" this by realizing "I still love Mary, but I do not like her taste in clothes or she made a bad decision about that or (better still) dumping Mary for a new girl. Just kidding, but either way it is resolved.

What worries me about Bush is, he does not even experience this moment. I do not think he sees the contradiction. His strategy is unwavering, but he never wants to change course even when new facts present themselves. When he does completely flip-flop, he never admits to having changed his mind, he just denies it and turns the criticism around. It's like since he saw Mary in the dress, he has loved the dress all along. The problem we face now is Mary's dress is a global war on terrorism, an Iraqi insurgency, a bloated federal budget, an economy still struggling to create jobs. His solutions are merely the same old things: more "resolve" on terror, more "hard work" in Iraq, more "tax cuts" despite the deficit and increased spending. None of these have done what he told us they would do.

So why not change course? Why not stop and check a map instead of driving further down the wrong way?

I get the feeling if Bush and I took a trip together, we might get on the wrong road and Bush would just keep going until he drove of a cliff, despite all the signs and warnings ahead. I would be stuck, a la the Griswolds, having a beer in the desert while our car sat there dead. I also think if I told him the map said to go the other way, he would either completely ignore me, or (more likely) question my patriotism and throw me out of the car. Kerry would stop, read the map, check the sun, check a compass, and ask 50 people which way to go. It might be slow, but at least we'd go in the right direction.

Andrew Sullivan Finally Endorses Kerry

One of the last of the undecideds makes his choice.

How did a pro-Iraq war Bush in 2000 supporter end up with this stance? The total incompetence of Iraq post-war planning and strategy. If you believe in fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, as both Andrew and I do, Bush leaves you nowhere to hang your hat.

Read the whole thing, it makes a compelling argument.

More From Ohio

Chris Suellentrop has an interesting article in Slate about both sides GOTV (that's Get Out The Vote for you non-political-types) in Ohio. Highlight for me was reading basically, what a jerk Dave Beckwith (a Bush spokesman) is. He points out that the Kerry headquarters is on Gay Street while they are on Rich Street and described the re-elect workers for George Voinovich (Ohio's Republican senator who is winning handily) as "cocksuckers" because they are hardly having to work, and never in the office. He used this word to a reporter! Incidentally, according to the John Kerry website, their office is on E. Broad St. right downtown. Perhaps, he meant the Ohio Democratic Headquarters. Nope, that's on 271 E. State St. What a jerk!

I wonder if Mary Cheney is offended by this, or perhaps "angry father" Dick Cheney?

So, this guy makes two sly remarks about gays on the record in one article- no doubt an angry Bush has fired him already. Never mind, Bush does not hold anybody accountable for anything ever no matter what absolutely not, so I bet not.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Life In the Battleground

Howard Fineman has an excellent article this week about "The Next Florida"and it highlights, of course- Ohio! As mirrors the national strategies, in Republicans are focused mostly on turning out their base, particular the religious right who did not come out in large numbers last time. They are hoping Bush's focus on faith and the presence of an anti-gay amendment will boost turnout among relgious voters. (Notice, I did not say "anti-gay marriage" because this goes much further, denying all forms of civil unions and domestic partnership arrangements. If this amendment passed and the omnipresent Mary Cheney lived here, and her 10-year partner was in a car accident- she could not visit her in the hospital. She would have no financial rights, no legal standing at all.) The Democrats are still focusing on swing voters, as evidenced my John Kerry's much-ballyhooed hunting trip here. At the Kerry booth at the Pumpkin Festival, the first thing they handed you was a picture of Kerry with gun in hand which said "John Kerry Will Protect Ohio." It has long been my opinion that most undecided voters have decided to fire Bush, but are not sure that Kerry will defend the country. Apparently the Kerry people agree, and are taking dead aim at this by showing Kerry taking aim down the length of a rifle.

Legally, it is a mess here. The issue over what to do with "provisional" ballots has divided even the courts. Let's recap quickly for our non-Ohio I, Scott Stuart, a registered voter decide to vote on Election Day. But I have lost/misplaced/did not get/ignored/whatever my voter registration. So, instead of going to the church on Sawmill Rd. I am supposed to go to, I go to the library. Once there, they check the rolls of voters and find out I am in the wrong place. Now, I am in a hurry to get to work so I fill out a provisional ballot anyway. What is supposed to happen is, as long as I am otherwise properly registered in Franklin County, they check out my information and then my ballot is counted. It is a mechanism designed for a) honest mistakes, and b) to avoid someone having to drive across town to vote if they moved or whatever. The problem is, number one this creates a lot more work for the already understaffed election officials, who have been swamped by new applicants this year. Number two this creates greater possibility of voter fraud, as I could be attempting to vote 20 times all around Columbus in an attempt to have my vote count more than once. (As they say in Chicago, vote early and vote often!)

As a response to this, the Secretary of State, Republican Kenneth Blackwell, sent out instructions to disregard these type of ballots. The Democrats filed suit in court and initailly won, only to have this decision reversed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. So it looks like right now, these ballots will not count. But here is the best part- provisional ballots will not be counted until 11 days past Election Day! As Blackwell says in the article "That could be the ballgame here- provisional ballots from new registrants." New voters are the most likely to have this problem, and most new registrants are Democrats this year. The upshot of this is, if Kerry wins on Election Day- and it appears to be trending very slightly that way, this issue will more likely fade away. If Bush wins close, and the Democrats believe these ballots would turn this around, look out, this will be in court for quite a while. Would we really want an election decided because I went to the school and not the church, so my vote did not get counted?

What a mess. I cannot wait for all the lawyers to descend and for the media frenzy to start...

Pumpkin Show Wrap-Up

Well, I saw the "World's Largest Pumpkin Pie" yesterday, and it was impressive, although not as big as one might think. I was expected something as big as a house, you know? It takes 66 pounds of pumpkin and 44 pounds of sugar to create to make this thing, which sat in the front window of Lindsey's Bakery in Circleville.

The whole town is literally consumed by this festival. All of downtown is closed off, and one can see thousands of people wandering about in search of pumpkin related merchandise. There is pie, pie in a cup, cheescake, rolls, ice cream, brownies, tarts, crepes, seeds...even chili, all fashioned from the pumpkin. There are adults dressed with pumpkins on, children dressed as pumpkins, and many a baby in a stroller with a pumpkin hat on their head. There is even a "Cirlceville Pumpkin Man" who wore roller blades and traversed the crowd spreading what I suppose was intended to be good cheer. This was more likely to frighten little children, who, upon the approach of a face-painted, green and orange clad, man rolling towards them, were as like to hide behind a parents leg as they were to come forward in greeting. The art show features a lot of- you guesseed it- pumpkin signage, little girls posing prettily with pumpkins, farmers working their land (no doubt in search of the elusive largest pumpkin), and many, many pumpkins in repose along with cornucopias, flowers, and bits of Americana.

The heart of the festival, right on the corner of Main Street, is the pumpkin patch, where there were giant pumpkins aplently. This year's winner, a 1353 pound effort by Circleville's own Dr. Robert Liggett, who won $2000 for his entry, was colossal. All of the top finishers were there, and as I gazed over this field awash with gigantic pumpkins, I could not think how cool it would be if David Letterman were there to drop these things off of buildings or crush them bulldozers. I bet 1353 pound pumpkin would create quite a blast radius if dropped from a significant height, don't you? On a more serious note...the idea of, say, Osama bin Laden leaning out of his cave only to be crushed by this giant symbol of Middle America is delightful to me.

Actually the whole time I was there it felt quintessentially American experience. More specifically, the Midwest. The earnest looks of those offering their wares for sale. The kindess of folks helping the elderely get around, the smiles we all share at children at play. The cross-section of people wandering through, looking at all the sights and sounds. All the different types of food there were. Including the pumpkin-show-traditional Chinese, Filipino, and Bourbon chicken booth (offering free samples!) Although I obviously did not fit in there in many ways, I felt that Midwest hospitality from everyone. I think this represents to me, all that is good about America, and I felt proud to be an American.

The show has ended for the year now, and the pumpkins no doubt have moved on. All of you who wish to enter the contest next year can check out, which although it sounds like one, is not a pornography site. As Circleville's Ken Speakman, the second place finisher, said, "There is no excitement quite like the pumpkin show."

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Something to do During the Hockey Lockout

If you are one if the eight Americans including me that know that NHL hockey is locked out due to a labor impasse, take heart in the Denver Post's coverage of their hometown team, the Avalanche. They have set up a "Video Hockey League" where kids between the ages of 8 and 14 contest the Avs' games on an XBox video game system. The Avs are struggling at 2-3, but did get healthy here in Columbus, winning 7-3 led by a John-Michael Liles hat-trick. There are classic post-game interviews and everything. 9-year old coach David Cook said "my team needed to pass better and score moer goals." How fun is this!

Light on the Blog, Heavy on the Pumpkins!

Over the past couple of weeks I have heard a lot of "Why didn't you write about this" or "How come you haven't updated your blog recently?" Frankly, work is so crazy busy I cannot even tell you. Second, Yankees-Red Sox captivated me even though I am not really a basebal fan. Third, I am a little sick of politics right now- anyone who lives in a swing state knows what I mean. During the baseball games, I would repeatedly see Kerry or Bush ads back-to-back. Plus, unofficial ads from the Swift Vets, Media Fund, and the like. And of course, all the local ads for judges, sheriffs, I think I speak for all of Ohio when I say "leave us alone, let me watch the stupid game!" Oh, and everyday, one of the top four is here- Bush today, Edwards tomorrow in Dayton, Kerry hunting goose earlier, Cheney hunting Kerry, everybody hunting for votes.

Sorry about that- where was I? Oh, right, pumpkins. I am going today to the Circleville Pumpkin Show down about 30 minutes south of Columbus. I am sure there will be folks there with signs, buttons, and the like, but I will ignore them. Who has time for politics when one is on the way to see a 1353-pound pumpkin? Reading the schedule of events, I found very comforting middle American things- animal show, pumpkin-eating contest, hogt calling, and then at 6:15 today we have "Dynamic Moment" and "Group Therapy." I really hope these are the names of bands and not some sort of pro-pumpkin encounter group. Stay tuned...

Friday, October 22, 2004

Hockey Team Does It Again

We had our ups and downs this season, needing a win in our final game to even make the playoffs. We won 3-2 and made it. First time our whole team has made it to the game all year.

So, last night, playoffs. First game against the #1-seeded (9-1) Chili Dogs. We got on them from the start and took a 3-0 lead. The second goal was a classic- me from behind the net, backhand spin, out to Craig and in- only been doing it for 10 years now! Slam-a-bama-ding-dong! They called timeout with about 5 minutes left and we discussed how easy it is to blow a 3-0 lead, much to Yankee fans chagrin. 3-1 is the final.

Championship game- we are down 5-4 with 2 minutes left in our season. I knew we did had to do it right then. Perfect play from the faceoff- Craig, to Kevin across to Dugan, who takes the shot. After practicing this all season at the rink in Gahanna(thanks Craig), I tip it perfectly over the goalie's shoulder. 5-5. Our 5 fans go wild! :) Next shift I get stuck out there, trying to get a line change when the puck comes right to me. I spin aorund and flip to Treegs, who goes around one man and fakes the goalie, pulling the puck to the afr side. I am trailing the play for a rebound, but no need. In it goes- 6-5. That's your final- we are winner winner chicken dinner.

So after losing in the finals two season ago, we have one the league two years in a row. I am so sore today I cannot even tell you, shoulder, groin, knee...but it's all worth it to get another stylish champions t-shirt. Great job boys!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

For Those of You who have Started your Christmas List Already

Don't forget to add this.

Seriously, for a long time it seemed like William Shatner fouhgt everything he was associated with- his ego, Star Trek, the campiness, the toupees. Now he has embraced his image and himself. The Priceline ads with Leonard Nimoy replacing him are laugh-out-loud funny.

Bill Shatner, a man in full.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Another Sign of Successful Planning in Iraq

Is this big news? Or just part of the pattern?

Our commander on the ground (Richard Sanchez) needed more help and wrote that he "could not continue to support sustained combat operations with [supply] rates this low." Twice postponed shipments of body armor? Lack of parts for tanks and helicopters? So, Bremer wanted more troops and did not get them, Sanchez wanted parts he did not have. Sounds great. Luckily the Iraqis greeted us with blown kisses, thrown flowers and open arms due to their joy of celebrating freedom.


Politics Behind the Scenes

Harry Shearer finds some neat art out of "raw feed" video- what happens before and in between airtime.

Poll Watching

The new CNN poll shows Bush way ahead, but also shows underneath Kerry winning the 3rd debate and maintaining his favorability rating.

MSNBC has an interesting article here showing Bush ahead among women and Kwerry ahead among men. What?

The polls showing it close are the "Registered voter" polls. The polls showing big Bush leads are the "likely voter" polls. What is the difference? Typically, the first question is "did you vote in 2000?" If no, not "likely." So these polls tend to under-represent young voters and newly registered voters (who tend to be Democrats). There are clearly many people out there who are apathetic to politics, but motivated enough to vote against Bush, and these type of people are also not counted. So, the upshot off all of this's still close. It will still be decide in a few states only, and it will still be all about turn-out.

Mickey Kaus has an interesting take (scroll down to Saturday) on the vote-with-the-winner phenomenon over at Slate. He suggest people might want to make sure there is a clear winner so as to avoid another recount mess, and hence would vote for the favorite. I don't buy it, not this year with tensions so high on both sides and also with the Dems feeling like they got screwed last time. I think we still have a long election night ahead of us.

My Surgery

There is a "live on webcam" display of my upcoming surgery here. Just click on the webcast to see (Thanks to Laura for finding this.) Under a month to go now. I am excited, but a little scared as well.

It is kind of interesting for the first 10-15 minutes where they are talking in generalities and what patients this is good for. They decribe me exactly as a good candidate- otherwise healthy heart, no other problems, causes decline in quality of life, permanent AF. After that, unless you are a doctor or med student, it is drop-dead (maybe bad choice of words?) boring. Blurry black and white picture with doctor doing operation. Lots of big medical words and it is hard to follow along with what he is doing. So my advice is to not sit through the whole thing. Heck, I am having the surgery, and even I scrolled ahead and ahead.

The Iraq Situation

I think Andrew Sullivan really nails it right here on the Tim Russert show a couple of weeks ago.

His money quote :

TR: You started our conversation by talking about mismanagement by President Bush in Iraq. Explain that.

AS: Well, look. I'm, like Christopher, very enthusiastic about this war: believe that Saddam's tyranny was disgusting; believe also that he had almost certainly weapons of mass destruction; and believe that we didn't need to get the French and Russian's agreement to do what we had to do. But I assumed that we'd go in there with sufficient troops; I assumed we'd be able to seal the borders; I assumed we would be really deadly serious about controlling that country and transitioning it to democracy. I didn't assume that you'd go in there with clearly not enough troops to keep order; have no idea or concept an insurgency could arise; commit blunders that have only alienated the entire Iraqi population, with the exception of the Kurds and some Shi'a, against us; attempt to retake Fallujah and then abandon it; and now abandon whole swaths of the country to Islamist and jihadist forces; and now tell us, "Well, nothing's perfect," in the words of Donald Rumsfeld. It makes me furious that they have attempted such an important, noble and vital enterprise and botched it, and not taken the care to make sure this darn thing was done right.


By the way, the whole discussion is well worth a read, Chris Hitchens brings news and insight just back from Afghanistan.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Meeting the General

So, General Clark was as good as advertised. Second row is always good! First, the set-up:

Columbus mayor Michael Coleman was the first one to speak- I did not even know he was coming. He just spoke a little about how important the election was here. He said when he was in DC, one Congressman said- "You're from Ohio? You guys are going to save the world!" He introduced some members of the Sisters Speak Out organization. They are a group of women who have loved ones currently serving in Iraq or have lost a loved one there. I met one the founders before the show- Judy Jensen, who is just the sweetest lady you'd ever want to meet. There were about 6 of them there, and they about about their experiences. Brooke Campbell's brother went into thwe Guard to get m,oney for college. He completed his one year of duty in Iraq was sent back again. 4 days after being extended, he was killed in a suicide bombing attack. Heavy. One lady's only child had been hit and even now after 10 surgeries, had not regained his eyesight. The lady right in front of me had lost her son just on August 23rd . All of them were crying and hugging together. Most of the crowd, including me, was crying. So the lady who had lost her son managed through her tears to introduce General Clark.

Clark came on to a standing ovation with his eyes moist, thanked the ladies for being there, and went down the line of crying women with hugs and reassuring words. I cannot tell you (and again, this is literally a foot in front of me) how sincere he was. This guy absolutely feels it in his gut. He thanks them and all the families and told how what is was like for him to kiss his 5-month pregnant wife goodbye and head off to Vietnam all those years ago. "It never occured to me that anything would happen to me. When I got back I had been shot 4 times." He described what it was like seeing his son (Wes Jr.) for the first time, and thinking of how close he had been to never laying eyes on him. After all of this, there was not a dry eye in the place. I thought "he would be ahead of Bush by 10 points."

After that, he gave a standard 5 minute or so stump speech about where the country was, what Bush was doing, why we need Kerry. Then he opened the floor up for questions. Most were about Iraq, or Osama bin Laden. A few about health care and the economy. In discussing Iraq, he said he thought as well Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction but that we "had him in a box" and that there was no need for the invasion. (He was in charge of the northern no-fly zone airstrikes for a while as NATO Supreme Commander-Europe). He gave very thoughtful and substantive answers about what we should have done to prepare for winning the peace: more coalition- especially Muslim countries, troops trained in Arabic, Arabic pamphlets expaining the new government system, training for the leaders on the ground in how to present these ideas. He said he loved our troops, but you have Sargeants and Lieutenants out there "trying to hold town hall meetings about democracy in a language they don't know in a culture they're unfamiliar with." He claimed that George Bush had "used and abused the armed forces."

One person asked him what he would do November 3rd if president-elect John Kerry called him and asked him to be Secretary of Defense or State. He laughed and demurred. I actually then pointed out he could not be Secretary of Defense since he has not been out of uniform for 5 years. (I researched it earlier). One person asked him to compare Bosnia on Iraq. Remember, we stopped ethnic cleansing there and got rid of a brutal dictator without the loss of a single American life. He talked about what had been done there (never mentioning himself once) and what Iraq is like now. Here, I suspect, he made some news. He said John Kerry and he "have been discussing this all along" and talked about how to improve the situation on the ground. My guess is, if Kerry is elected, Clark becomes the next Paul Bremer of Iraq. He is obviously qualified to do this type of operation, he as already commanded international forces, and he knows the leadership of the Europeans and thinks he could get them on board by changing the way things are being run. He thinks Europe must be "our closest ally" in not just Iraq but the War on Terror. We need their help, and we need international guidelines so that "someone cannot get away with planning an attack in Germany, carry it out in America, and get away with it."

I think- Clark would be winning by fifteen points. He is able to make an argument for internationalization without seeming like a wimp. He can criticize Iraq as not part of the War on Terror without being accused of being "soft" like Kerry is. His level of sincerity in the room was incredible. He was so "in the moment" you believed he was saying what he thought right then. He seemed so much more confident speaking then he did back in the primaries- practice, practice. So he finishes up to another standing O and stays around to shake hands and have his picture taken. A couple observations- he is shorter than one would expect, compact, but coiled. Very strong, good handshake. The ladies were swooning over him- he is really good-looking up close, chiseled like a Greek god.

Clark was every bit as good as I hoped he would be. A powerful presence up close.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Should be a Great Morning

Because I am going to meet a true American hero, someone who has earned a word we so overuse.

When I was 25 years old, I worked in a bank. When Wesley Clark was 25, he had graduated #1 in his class from West Point, completed his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, and was leading a platoon in Vietnam, when "As the friendly force maneuvered through the treacherous region, it was suddenly subjected to an intense small arms fire from a well-concealed insurgent element. Although painfully wounded in the initial volley, Captain Clark immediately directed his men on a counter-assault of the enemy positions. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Captain Clark remained with his unit until the reactionary force arrived and the situation was well in hand. His courageous initiative and exemplary professionalism significantly contributed to the successful outcome of the engagement. Captain Clark's unquestionable valor in close combat against a hostile force is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army." (From citiation from his Silver Star). Having been shot four times- in the right shoulder, right hand, right hip and left leg, Clark refused to leave his men, ignoring the entreaties of his medical corpsman. He stayed until the battle was won.

He would go on to serve 34 years in the United States Army, retiring as a four star general, with a chest full of medals, having left as been NATO's supreme commander in Europe where he helped negotiate the Dayton Peace accords. Thanks in part to his leadership, we acheived peace in the Balkans without the loss of a single American life.

That is the man whose hand I am going to shake today. My heartfelt gratitude is all I can offer him with the sacrifices he has made for all of us.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Another View on Autumn

Autumn is brazen...
Full bodied
Wine red
Ferengi gold.
Autumn comes blazing
with fiery fronds
of Euonymus alatus
and yellow redbud hearts.

Chilling rains are brief
but thorough.
Winds rise high
and toss the leaf

of Sycamore that clatter
thin as crespelles
and tells
us clearly that we may gather

these and others for a Fall bonfire:
a fun fare of pumpkins
cinnamon, cider, and spice

chipmunks still grazing
on bright orange crabapples
and squirrels on acorns
(and my late tomatoes).

Ah, the brazenness of the raising
hell trees that do not heed
our inconsequential need
to celebrate Fall,
politely, quietly,
before the cold.

This one is from my mother, last year. Any wonder I like to write? Any mistakes are mine, the insprition is from her. Mom- I love you!

Further Analysis of Polls

Bill Scheinder just went over the underlying numbers- the polls within the polls, and they say Bush had better style, Kerry on substance. So I am redeemed in my analysis. Hooray for me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

General Clark versus Sean Hannity

Okay, I'm biased. He was my candidate all along. I find his story inspiring, his miliatry background unimpeachable, and his personality would make a great commander in chief.

Sean Hannity on Fox just said John Kerry had a "wimpy" record on defense. Clark and he talked around each other for awhile, neither one letting the other talk. Hannity went on and on about weapons systems Kerry had "voted" to cancel, that form the basis or our army today. Of course, the basis of our army is the brave men and women in it. Anyway, Clark, who actually knows a little bit about the Army having been in it for 34 years, mentioned Dick Cheney supported these cuts as well. Question: after the Soviet Union fell, did we really need more MX missles? So Hanniny goes on about Kerry and says he is weak. Clark says in college, Kerry played hockey and Bush was a cheerleader. I laughed so hard I cannot even tell you! Hannity gets all offended, and wants Clark to apologize to men who our cheerleaders.

Okay, Clark was over the top. But Sean Hannity is simply a hypocritical asshole who is beneath contempt. Besides lying and parroting talking points, he is just worthless. When will he apologize for the things he says - Hannity is all offended by someone making fun of cheerleaders, yet is book is entitled Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism. His official Fox News bio says he is "known for his provocative style." Uh-huh. Also, he lies. A lot.

So the Polls Say Kerry Won

All of them so far- CNN, ABC, MSNBC. Just like I wrote. Okay, no I didn't. Maybe I have Slate syndrome. Blaming Kerry for what he did not say, rather than what he did. But as I look back, I really thought Bush looked good, pasionate and involoved, Kerry looked tired. On substance, all a remember from Bush was education- even Robert Novak is complaining about that- no matter what the question was.

So, Kerry on substance, Bush on style?

Live Debate Coverage

8:51 - Laura Bush is wearing what appears to be a burlap sack.

9:02 - Let the games begin!

9:03 - They are wearing the exact same outfit, same tie and everything. Kerry wins for best knot. Also, Bush's suit is striped and does not look as good as Kerry's.

9:06 - Kerry hit first question out of the park. Bush just lied. He just said he never said he didn't care about Osama bin Laden.

9:08 - Flu vaccine question? Bush was not prepared for this one. And why should he? This is a second question? Screw you, economy, jobs, health Is he serious- Bush did not get a flu shot? (Carter says put on a sweater.) Seriously, what the hell is he talking about. Kerry moved it to health care- he answered the question he wishs he was asked. Kerry uses Blue Cross/Blue Shield- wow, this is getting absurd. Me too! Hooray for Kerry, wow, who cares.

9:14 - Kerry kills Bush on the economy and fiscal matters. Bush just to me has no credibility on this issue to me.

9:19 - Bush would tell someone who lost their job to someone overseas, here's an education. Here's a Pell Grant.

9:20 - Kerry lost all momentum with Tony Soprano joke. He had opportunity to bury Bush there, swing and a miss.

9:21 - Are Kerry's hands shaking? Does he need a drink or something- oh no, that's the other senator from Massachusetts. Bush- "Wooo!" (I'm a cowboy!) Jobs...Bush mentioned the tax marriage penalty. He has no concept that anyone has lost their job. He is so out of touch. Disadvantage of being the pres. Bush's saying Kennedy is the conservative sena

9:26 - Wow, tough question on homosexuality. Bush does great job in answering homosexual question about choice. "I don't know". Who does? Even sounds good on gay marriage. Kerry is fumbling this. Oh my, this is terrible.

9:29 - Kerry is starting terribly on abortion/Catholicim question, but rescues himself. Bush is very solid here- culture of life is a great turn of phrase. Bush wins.

9:33 - Bush's laugh infuriates me...heh, heh, heh. He is blowing this question right now. What is his plan to make it better? Still waiting. Kerry is much better on this. Saving himself. I wonder how much of his reluctance to talk about his religiosity is from being a New Englander?

9:37 - Kerry defends his health plan. America, you choose. Home run on health care! This stuff about every person getting as good health care as legislators is a great line. Also, mentioned small businesses to avoid scaring them. Bush makes bad joke again. Let's quote the Luwen (sp?) report. I read a lot- never heard of it. Maybe Bush does not listen to Kerry- there is no need to choose.

9:44 - Bush is 2 for 2 in pronouncing strategy- kudos. Does Bush have any credibility on medical expenses after his administration lied about their plan. No.

9:46 - Laura's tea is ready.

9:52 - Illegal immigration- have not heard anything about this yet. Bush wants to treat people "humanely," and give them all "Guest worker" cards to work here. Kerry is tougher on immigration than Bush is.

9:58 - Minimum wage questionis fastball right over tha plate for Kerry and he doesn't miss. Bush answer is to increase education. I guess so we can avoid minimum wage jobs and have them be filled by "guest workers." This might help someone in say, junior high or lower, but what about an already struggling worker trying to feed their family but are stuck working at a minimum wage job? They can't just quit, get a Pell grant and go to school. There is a case to be made that raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses, slow down job growth, and cost jobs. Why doesn't Bush make it?

10:03 - Kerry makes too many "gut" references. Kerry does okay with National Guard question, but not great.

10:07 - Bush just flat out lied again about what Kerry said. Kerry says "guts" again. Just me, or does Kerry look tired. Bush is getting stronger, Kerry weaker right now.

10:08 - Bush on assualt weapons ban...prosecute offenders, but need no more laws. Kerry, keep assault weapons ban. Yawn. They both gave canned answers, exactly what we have all heard a million times before.

10:11 - Wow, affirmative action question. Never heard this all year. Kerry I think takes the right tone of regrettably we still need it. Necessary evil. Bush goes back to education, education, education. He has no answer to this- why? He did great in Texas with so many hispanics, he has a fairly diverse administration. Bush is very good personally in this, and I credit him for that, but he has no answer for this.

10:15 - Bush's question about religion he does a great job, obviously something he cares about. "Armies of Compassion" reminds me of 1000 points of light. He did just say that God wants people to be free and that is part of his foreign policy. That kind of scared me. Kerry is sleepwalking again. His right eye seems closed. Making me sleepy? Maybe he is hypnotising Kerry, vote Kerry...

10:19 - Kerry makes good case, but he seems so sleepy and out-of-it. Maybe he needs a cup of coffee or something? Can he call a timeout and regroup? Bush says this is his biggest dissapointment. He is running as a Washington outsider while already president. Good position.

10:23 - Bush gets good laughs about his wife. Stand straight and funny. Story is so human, classic backyard bbq story. Kerry also gets laugh about Teresa's money. Kerry is okay, but just cannot compete with how good Bush was here.

10:25 - idear, idear, idear- so New England. Dean is even worse.

10:27 - First Vietnam reference of the night by Kerry. Both closing statements were lousy. Neither one made a difference.

10:31 - Overall, borrring. Maybe I am just tired of this stuff, maybe I have seen to many ads already, but I needed something interesting. I think Bush wins barely.

10:34 - Someone on MSNBC just said this was a "civil, substantive" debate. By which he means- boring.

Debate Scorecard

# Candidate Phrase or Action

1 Kerry Will make joke about hoping he does better than the Red Sox did
* Bonus if Bush Mentions a mistake he made- trading Sammy Sosa
3 Kerry Will say "I have a plan for that" without explaining plan
5 Kerry Say Bush cannot fix a problem he does not see
5 Kerry "I have never" flipped, wavered, wilted, or whatever
10 Kerry Mention the word "new" for leadership, direction, et cetera

3 Bush Say recession started under Clinton
5 Bush Say Kerry will raise taxes
5 Bush Directly pivot into a War On Terror/national security issue
5 Bush Accuse Kerry of flipping, wavering, or whatever
10 Bush Call Kerry a "liberal"

Grab a drink and play along!

Alarming News About Dick Cheney

From The Onion.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan, who beats me to everything somedays...of course, this is his job after all.

Thoughts Of Fall

Fall especially makes me miss home, I think. I always love coming home for Thanksgiving. I think because we almost always spent Thanksgiving there- whereas Christmas we traveled around. So I think what many people look forward to as going home for Christmas...for me it is Thanksgiving.

Coming home- it is cold, but normally not too bad yet. Windows open some of the time. Home, visit, sleep. Next day, awaken to smell already of turkey in the oven. Mom busy in kitchen, pots and pans everywhere. Minki (border terrier) hovering underfoot on that little area rug in case anything were to "accidentally" make it down his way. Dad on couch reading either newspaper or book, depending on how late I slept. He immediately springs into action offering coffee and breakfast- even though Mom of course did the same 30 seconds ago when I went into the kitchen. All I want to do is read the paper and wake up. "Sleep okay? You sure you don't want anything? Sure I can't get you something?" Dad knows, as I do that even though I said I did not want anything, Mom has poured cup of coffee and toasted a bagel. Because, of course, I better eat up- we all go hungry on Thanksgiving. But it's sweet. I am only home every so often, so they have to get all of their parenting done.

Morning spent lazing about. I offer to help in the kitchen, and Mom ends up letting me do something easy. How she knows when 15 different things are done, I have no idea. My dad would need a spreadsheet with graphs of "optimal" cooking times. I would end up with a fully cooked turkey and peas still in the freezer. Actually, one year my mother was not there for Thanksgiving and Dad and I made dinner. In case anyone was wondering, gravy out of a can versus Mom's homemade? Mom's. But we tried. My uncle Hoff will arrive soon, with his famous apple crisp. What to do before mealtime...

Computer games. The men bond over flickering screens, yelling battle cries down the hall. We had two computers, so one of us would wander from room to room, watching the other two. Hey, I like it when my avatar kills my father's avatar with a sniper rifle. Anybody got a problem with that? . (Yeah, yeah, Freud, pipe down!) We used to have a pool table, that worked as well. My father grew up playing a lot of pool- his "misspent youth" he calls it. So he normally wins by shooting shape. Hoff gets streaky, I will hit a good shot and then forget to see where the ball will go next. Eventually, my Mom will ask if we are hungry yet. Hoff says, "I don't know, what time is it?" My mother will comment how she does not understand this. My father will explain it is from growing up on the farm. I assume this conversation takes place every holiday. My parents have been married for 37 years.

It's food time, but first the Lepaige family blessing. We all hold hands around the table. I have always remembered it, even though we lost both of my mother's parents now 20 years ago. I can see my grandmother when I do it. She is always smiling in that kindly way grandmothers have. My mother does not miss out on minding her flock either, making sure everybody gets enough to eat. Such a problem with a table stuffed wall to wall with food. We always have to remember the Thanksgiving where Garfield (guess who named our old Siamese cat) dragged the turkey off the table. Also, when Minki ate a pen underneath the table during dinner and just kept chewing and chewing even though he and the carpet ended up covered with ink. We all laugh and make sure we remind him not to do it again this year. He will climb up so his front legs are in my lap and turn his head around to investigate the table. He has his priorities straight. After we finish eating (in there anything better than stuffing?) we take a break before dessert.

The men do the dishes and put the leftovers away (in our family, the women tend to cook, the men clean up afterwards- just because). Dad always wants to keep everything. Mom wants to throw more away which won't keep or heat up well. Compromise on keeping everything. Then it is time for our walk around the neighborhood.

It is just the thing after a big meal- fresh air, brisk walk. Dog very excited, lots of sniffing and marking of territory, but he is usually out of "ammo" by" the second turn. Funny to see him still determinedly lift his leg after coming up dry for the last ten mailboxes. You show 'em, pup. You are probably the oldest dog in the neighborhood anymore. Someone has to show those whippersnappers who's boss. The other dogs are very intimidated by a small, friendly dog with an arthritic hip and fading eyesight. Back home now to warm up.

Time to retire to the family room. Hoff builds a fire in the fireplace, with much discussion from Dad about having to leave a door cracked open for "air." Mom says it is too cold (she is in kitchen with opened door) and they compromise on window. 37 years of marriage. Have to turn on the football game, even though none of us are huge football fans. It just seems obligatory. Un-American somehow not to watch the game. We avoid football-induced boredom by falling asleep on the couch. After nap, maybe time to throw a football or play catch with a baseball. Have to do something to work up appetite for leftovers.

Maybe only thing better than turkey and stuffing at dinnertime is stuffing combined now with turkey sandwiches. Lots of salt and pepper on mine, dad's plain. Also, dessert time now. Pumpkin pie is one of my favorites. Also, we have Hoff's apple crisp. It's like apple pie, only better. With vanilla ice cream- bliss. Add coffee ("Some decaf would be nice"- Hoff) and it is a win all around.

After this meal, it is time for a board or card game. Survive, Life, Trivial Pursuit, Boggle. I always argue for bridge, but it's "too serious- you have to think." More recently, it is Mexican dominoes. I always insist to keep score (I love numbers) no matter what game it is. No matter the game, cannot play with out a piece of pie and some apple crisp beside you on plate.
After game ends, time for Hoff to head home. Mom tries to send him home with enough food to feed him until New Years. Dad always says "Whoa, whoa, whoa, woman! What are doing with my food." "You won't eat all that. Let him take it." "I will eat that, that's (insert food item) good!" Compromise on Hoff taking the food. 37 years. For the three of us remaining, there is probably only enough left now for 20 meals! (Keep in mind, there is a whole new menu planned for tomorrow. And I'm leaving Sunday.)

We walk Hoff outside to his car. Night has fallen. It is now normally perfectly cool outside. Sweater weather. I love it. We say our goodbyes and talk about when we will see him again (normally Saturday). Dog wanders around outside, getting in the way of the car. If they did not go outside, Mom hold the dog up and "waves" his paw goodbye. The dog looks confused, but Mom beams. We shake our heads at her and grin. Silly, but cute. (Sometimes I wonder if I "waved" goodbye to people when Mom could pick me up.) Inside, the guys unload the dishwasher and put things away. Mom says, "OK guys, I'm gonna go up now." Good nights and hugs all around. Mom says "I'm so glad to have you home" and squeezes.

Dad and I are now alone for probably the first time since I have been home. He wants to know, "How is school/job/girlfriend/life?" This is his version of fussing over me. He cares about these things, of course, but really he is just trying to say do you need any help? Is everything really going okay? What can we do to help? He is a problem solver. I have gone from needing his help as a child, to "I'm going to do everything myself because I'm a grownup," to recognizing there is nothing wrong with asking for help sometimes. He goes up to bed and I am the only one left awake. I normally just sit downstairs and think. Maybe read a Washingtonian magazine or something I haven't seen. But often I just sit and look around.
The day is over, and I am home.

More Advances in Beer

Ummmmm, more beer, drooooollllll....

Both of these articles are from the front page of I think we can agree no matter what one may think of their political coverage, CNN clearly has a pro-beer bias! Kudos.

I think the next time I want to order a beer, I will just ask for a pint of "your best yeast-treated wort, please."

I do not want to see what my hamburger or sausage was before it was on my plate, same deal with beer. Ignorance is bliss.

Debate Prediction

Kerry wins, handily. He simply has better ammo. Deficit, jobs, health care he all enjoys 2-digit advantages on. But, he'll win big tonight, and it won't matter. For so many, this is a one-issue election- the War on Terror. Two issues, if you see Iraq separately as Kerry does and Bush does not. So while Kerry wins on the issues and also wins by relating to real people with real problems factor. Hard to meet these real people when you are already the president- easier when you are going to county fairs all across the country in the primaries.

So, Kerry wins the day, but it does not move the war much farther along.

I am back to 50-50 odds to win this election. Kerry has the momentum now, though. The battleground state polls are turning his direction. We will find out, just how negative can Karl Rove be? I speak for all Ohioans, we don't want to know. I just wanted to watch some baseball last night...I saw so many political ads it would make your head spin.

2nd Debate

I have been soooo busy I have not posted anything in quite some time. Real simple, Debate #1, I thought Kerry killed Bush. Debate#2 - A draw. This was a good debate, both men made their points, there was a little less of the personal back and forth crap that we all hate. Much more substantive. One cannot watch the debate and not come away with the idea that there are clear differences between these guys. I think a good debtae for both, and good one for the country. Bush does do better at these kind of town hall style debates, because he connects very well with people. But Kerry did well too- I think this shows his advantage of having been through the primaries this year- Kerry has done a hundred of these all across the country, and he has gotten much better. Although Kerry's answer on abortion just was terribly muddled on Bush pointed it out saying something like "I'm still trying to decipher that." A lot of people have been criticizing Kerry for what he did not say, rather than what he did. I thought he did very well and slightly edged Bush. Bush only pulls even due to the "soft bigotry of low expectations" because of his terrible performance down in Miami.

Interesting questions I thought as well. Real people always seem to do better than journalists at asking what questions America wants to hear answered.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Let's Start in Choronlogical Order

The VP debate. I was one of the minority that thought Edwards killed Cheney- just killed him. Edwards seemed much more knowledgeable, framed his arguments better, and I thought was so much more likeable. I have been saying ever sense his pick that the conventional wisdom was wrong, and that Edwards would beat Cheney. Simply because of the visual- young, handsome, eager Southern gentleman versus old curmudgeon. It runs to the Democrats theme- change versus more of the same (1992); however now Kerry calls for a "new direction" and "new leadership." If you had this debate with the sound off, who was more appealing, a balding, bespectled man looking down at his notepad or Edwards gazing confidently into the camera. I do think Edwards has a little too much Eddie Haskell in him though, when he thanks or salutes people I hear "You look lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver!"

But I thought Edwards beat Cheney solidly on substance as well. Edwards took an aggresive line, put Cheney on the defensive and Cheney never recovered. Cheney's best moment, all agreed was saying that he had never met Edwards before because Edwards was not around to vote in the Senate. The only problem with this story is, of course, it was a naked lie. Obviously, this was not a spur of the moment answer, where is the research team for the Repubs? The Dems had video of them at that Prayer Breakfast up less than a half hour after the debate. So, the next day story became- Cheney lied. Nice going.

So, anyway, I think it's not even close and then I listen to MSNBC's post debate coverage and they all say Cheney. CNN, Cheney. Fox, Cheney. I wonder if I am worng. I go online, chatroom on RCP- Cheney. National Review- Cheney. It turns out only the indespensible Andrew Sullivan and I really thought Edwards walloped him. Sullivan called Cheney "roadkill" and said he wanted to turn away from the screen. Ouch. I think the talking heads all saw it the other way because they were looking to much for specifics and details, they think Edwards is just a pretty face. They think he talks down to the audience too much and some make fun of him for explaing things slowly and easily. You know what, the audience Edwards is talking to, they need that.

Most undecideds do not follow politics. They do not know these things. They do not know the intricacies of our Iraq policy. They do not know about North Korea already. They have not "heard all this stuff before" as Tony Snow said on Fox today. No they haven't because they don't follow this stuff. Edwards courtroom lawyer presentation is perfect for this audience, and in polls afterwards the undecideds said Edwards won.

Score one for me and Andrew.

I'm Back- I'll Try to do better

A word to my loyal readers- all 6 of you. :)

I apologize for the lack of content being posted recently- much has been going on politically to comment on, but much has been going on in my life as well. My job has been absolutely crazy busy, with so much going on I barely have time to sleep. Personal life- also busy, we had a friend come into town this weekend and visit- good time all around but exhausting. So I am trying to get back on a more regular schedule this week in life and in blogdom.

Plus, sat down and wrote a 2 pager about all the voting issues going on here in Ohio, the central battleground state in this election and who knows why, it never actually posted. Which kind of honked me off towards my blog. The blog is a cruel mistress...

But there is a lot to catch up on, and it starts now.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

"Hard Work"

Of course, the Kerry camp is making fun of Bush for saying our efforts in Iraq were "hard work" over and over again- 22 imes by Washington Post count. Kerry did this yesterday here in Ohio, but he did not say:
Of course we know our work in Iraq is hard work. What we want is the opportunity for "hard work" here in Ohio! We want the opportunity to have good jobs here in our heartland, so Ohioans can make an honest living and support their families...blah blah...outsoucring of jobs ...blah blah...I will fix economy..."

Seems such an obvious twist to me.

Just What the World Needs

Caffinated beer! (My heart will love it! Maybe it would be okay, if I just sipped it rythmically at regular intervals?)

One: As the article says, this is a reaction to all those flavored rum and vodka-based drinks so popular now. Used to be, the guys drank beer and those girls that did not drink beer drank wine collers. Now, the girls who don't drink beer drink this fruit-flavored stuff. Will girls want to drink berry flavored beer? (I know I am being sexist and sterotyping, but honestly, who is going to be the guy who orders the first of these with his buddies. "We'll have a beer, a gin and tonic, a round of Jagr-bombs, and Joe down there will have the berry-flavored beer." Joe's nickname is now "Berry," right?) Does this product that sound good to anyone out there? Seriously, a sweet, fruity beer? I have a hangover just thinking about it.

Two: The article says they designed the beer for "21 to 27-yera-old drinkers." I feel old all of a sudden. :(

Three: I cannot help thinking another country just invented something like a more fuel-efficient engine or a way to make a faster computer. But we have new beer! Take that, world. Maybe I'm just pessimistic- after all, we have done well with Nobel prizes this year. America- we work hard, we play hard.

Paul Bremer's Quotes

Remember L. Paul Bremer? The Bush team's hand-picked head of the Provisional Govenrment in Iraq? The guys who ran the country from May 2003 until the June 28th handover to Iraqis?

He talks about some things he should know about, discussing the looting and disorder when he got there:

"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," he said yesterday in a speech at an insurance conference in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. "We never had enough troops on the ground."

Oh, earlier he also said:

In a Sept. 17 speech at DePauw University, Bremer said he frequently raised the issue within the administration and "should have been even more insistent" when his advice was spurned because the situation in Iraq might be different today. "The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout" the occupation, Bremer said, according to the Banner-Graphic in Greencastle, Ind.

Bremer is now backing off these comments, sort of:

"I believe that we currently have sufficient troop levels in Iraq," he said in an e-mailed statement. He said all references in recent speeches to troop levels related to the situation when he arrived in Baghdad in May 2003 -- "and when I believed we needed either more coalition troops or Iraqi security forces to address the looting."

Bremer "strongly supports" Bush's re-election.

I read this as, I tried to tell them but they would not listen to me. The occupation's problems are not my fault. I support Bush's re-election publicly, but I just dropped a bomb on it. You decide.

I am very curious to see the Bush camp's spin on all of this. Is Bremer simply wrong? A disgruntled former employee trying to cover is own behind for failures over there? Or will they admit a mistake?

So, the Bush administration on post-war Iraq ignored the Army War College planning, General Shinseki (Army Chief of Staff), and their own people. They have discounted their own National Intelligence Estimate. Joe Klein in Time magazine even wrote: "For one thing, the President's obvious skepticism about this National Intelligence Estimate stands in stark contrast to his wanton embrace of the NIE he received in October 2002, which said that Saddam probably possessed weapons of mass destruction. That report was produced after Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld pressured the CIA to come up with stronger evidence for invading Iraq. The current assessment is more credible. It comes from a cautious, chastened CIA. My second thought was pretty wicked: Scott McClellan is beginning to sound like Baghdad Bob, the infamous spokesman for Saddam who announced hallucinatory Iraqi victories as the American troops closed in on Baghdad."

In the pre-war planning they, similarly ignored anything that did not fit their worldview. There is a great list here, by the admittedly progressive Center for American Progress. They ignored experts on the famed aluminum tubing- the nuclear program that wasn't. They have repeatedly overstated intelligence on Iraq, ignoring and discounting differing views. Anything in opposition is "not supporting our troops" and "no way to win the war on terror." In this view, one can either march in lockstep, or undermine the country. As Andrew Sullivan wrote this week: Memo to Bush, we live in a democracy.

Why We Need a Plan in Iraq

On September 30th, the most recent and 38th Ohioan died from wounds received in Iraq.

Allen Nolan, 38, of Marietta, Ohio was a Specialist in the United States Army Reserve. He was injured September 18th in Balad, Iraq while driving a tanker truck as part of a military convoy. He survived the attack and flown back to the United States, where despite all medical attention, he died of his injuries at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He was scheduled to leave for home in just four days before he was attacked. Spc. Dan Johnson also a Mariettan, remembers "Nolan was a completely selfless individual...he always had a 'can-do' attitude."

Allen Nolan, 38, of Marietta, Ohio was also a worker in the Broughton Foods factory where he had worked for five years. Co-workers remember him as "one of the guys you never forget," "dedicated to his family" and "one of the good guys."

Allen Nolan, 38, of Marietta, Ohio was a father of five, who leaves behind a wife and five young children (three of which they had recently adopted). Their church has started a collection to help. His youngest natural son Keenan, 9 years old, told their pastor "The Lord must have needed him more than I did."

There have now been 1063 United States military fatalities in Iraq. Through September 4th, there had been 7531 wounded in action according to the DoD. Many left behind wives, husbands, children. Many with stories just like Allen Nolan.

Those that return home are "overloading" the VA health system, according to There is a current backlog of 300,000 claims going back for decades with a new class of 150,000 eleigible thanks to their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Bush's proposed budget for 2005 cuts VA staff to handle these claims).

Let me as clear about this as I have ever been about anything on this blog. We have to win in Iraq. We have to succeed. No matter what anyone thinks about whether we should have gone over there in the first place., we are there now. It is ours. The Bush plan seems to be more of the same, a series of blunders both military and civilian. The administration has shown no sense of even being aware that problems exist. No mistakes have been conceded, no changes made. Kerry's plan seems to be- I'm not Bush! I'll hold a summit! Talking solves everything! Once I talk to other countries' leaders, they will want to send troops to die in our place! This will happen because...I'm not Bush!

We have the finest military in the history of the planet. They are the best trained, best equipped, and best soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen there has ever been. We all should think about them every day- living their lives on the front lines so we can live ours at home. The deserve our respect, our honor, and oureverlasting gratitude.

They also deserve a real strategy for Iraq. If we keep going down this path, we will find more of the same road ahead. More bombings, more attacks, more kidnappings. Our casualities have increased now for four straight months. Other countries have, or are considering, reducing their troop levels. We need to make a decision very soon, or it is going to be too late. We need to take the battle to these insurgents, removing their safe havens, removing their support and defeating them to the last man. If we lack the fortitude for this, if we do not want to see the higher casualties, if we will not do it, we need to get the hell out of the country as fast as we can. I thought we would have learned years ago that we cannot fight a war without fighting a war. The current situation in untenable, and must be changed. Because the middle ground where we are now standing is shrinking, and our miltary is paying the price. Allen Nolan and the others like him must not die in vain.

(By the way, 21 people died today in central Baghdad, with 85 wounded by car bombing attacks. Two hostages, an Iraqi and a Turk, were murdered. A police chief was killed when his car was sprayed by bullets. In Baquba, a 13-year old child was killed and eight others wounded by a mortar attack. 3 workers from the Ministry of Science and Technology were attacked, with 2 being killed. In Mosul, a car bomb attack killed 3 and wounded at least six, including two children critically wounded. Another car bomb in Eastern Mosul wounded a U.S. soldier. Over here in the US, any of these would be startling news. In Iraq, it's just another Monday.)

Things I Miss

Today was a beautiful fall day here- about 65 degrees, sunny, crystal blyue sky, with the occasional fluffy white cloud passing by overhead. I was thinking of living closer to home...of spending a clear day like this on the golf course at Northwest Park, playing that little nine-hole executive course with my father. It is not a great course or anything, but an interesting one. Lots of memories of the fall days. The fading sun reflected off the bright orange and yellow leaves, just starting to get chilly at the end. After finishing up, we would head home, where Mom would have a nice warm dinner waiting for us (maybe beef stroganoff?). I miss my dog too. I always miss him when I go to the park, as I did this weekend- just not the same without him.

Maybe I need a trip home...

Monday, October 04, 2004

Bush's Debate Notes

Hat tip to Laura for this hilarious link. I do not know how they smuggled these out- seems top secret. Good for a giggle...

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Good News!

The Buckeyes lost. To Northwestern. Ha ha ha! The announcer said last night the Buckeyes "clearly were not the number six team in the country" and "were ranked way too high." This is before they lost to a bad Northwestern team (who entered 1-3). What happens when NW plays a good team- they get blown out, like by Minnesota last week (43-17). You have to understand, being a Columbus transplant as I am, OSU is absolutely everywhere. It is literally all you hear about. You have to choose what side you're on- no "undecideds" on this subject. Every game is played on TV, replayed (twice!) and then wrapped up today. Spring scrimmages were televised. I saw Colin Powell pre-empted one morning on Face the Nation as our country prepared for war in Iraq for a replay of the game. A replay!

Did you know Jim Tressel is "the best coach in the history of college football"? Actually, I did not, until someone told me- well Tressel does have 35 all-time Division 1-A wins. And one national title. My coach, Bobby Bowden only leads Tressel by 310 wins. And a national title. And once he had a losing season at Florida State...his first 1976 he went 6-5. Good luck Jim, win 10 games a year for the next 31 years and we'll talk, okay.

Okay, so I hate the Buckeyes. But if you lived here, you probably would to.

Another Victory for Politics

The Department of Homeland Security's chief of cybersecurity resigned this week. Why?

Yoran has privately confided to industry colleagues his frustrations in recent months over what he considers the department's lack of attention paid to computer security issues, according to lobbyists and others. He resigned following a push from industry of the Hill to give him more power and more ability to change things. Alas, the Bush administration said no. He should have waited, Bush might change his mind and give him the authority that he wants (See 9/11 Commission, WMD Commission, new Inteligence Director).

We know that al-Qaeda is able run their operations via the internet and sattelite phones- couldn't they be working on something like this. Then again, it dopes not seem bloody enough for them. No chance of killing innocent women and children, so probably not up their alley. Still, this is something we need to be working on- that was dealt a blow last week.

Great Column by Thomas Friedman on Iraq

Tom Friedman has been off writing a book, and I missed his biweekly column at the NYT (back today- thanks to Dad for forwarding it). He owns three Pulitzer prizes, has a gift for making his topics interesting, his columns readble, and he knows this region of the world. His From Beirut to Jerusalem is still a classic. He tells the story from having lived it, and gives a remarkable first hand account of life there during the conflict. I see amazing similaries between Beirut in 1982-1983 and today. The various ethnic groups, the hatred, the crazy atmosphere, the uncertain security situation. The Iraqis today refer to the "situation" when discussing the insurgent activity over there, as we might discuss the weather. "How's the situation outside?" "Pretty good." (This means no bullets flying.) "Great, I think I'll leave my home today."

While Friedman certainly in a liberal to some degree, he has certainly has praised Republicans and criticized Democrats as the case may be. On Iraq, you come away with a sense of his deep dissapointment. He feels, as I do, that this is an important moment for America. We have a chance to make a huge difference in this region and right now, we are blowing it. The Bush strategy is clearing not working, and Kerry's strategy is well...let me know when they have one. Let me just ask you this, does this sound familiar:
"I had no doubt at that late stage how dedicated they were to getting us out of there. From our point of view it stopped being a war for an objective; it became a war of revenge. It became real personal: stay alive, get your revenge if you can, and stay alive until they pull us out. We just never broke out of that vicious cycle." This was an Israeli army captain, 1984. A man used to living in an environment as an occupying army- subject to car bombings, sneak attacks, small arms fire- all from a relentless and unscrupulous enemy who did not care who else got hurt. How far are we today from this in Iraq?

Where do we go from here? Kerry is trying to boil it down to the same 1992 Clinton formula- "Change vs. More of the Same" and you know what- it works. Saying that this is "hard work" seventeen times does not help anybody. Refusing to change a "strategery" that does not work is not helpful. Kerry rightly pointed out ourrate of casualties is increasing, our level of control is decreasing. Where do we go from here?

Friday, October 01, 2004

Joe Scarborugh

He writes at "What we have here in this debate tonight is basically the cowboy vs. the professor. If you are scoring this thing, the professor won on points. The question is— and this is what we are going to find out when people talk about it tomorrow— is that are they going to say, "Boy, John Kerry really had a better grasp of where to take this country over the next four years," or are they going to say, "George Bush knows what he believes in; he may not be the smartest guy on stage, but I trust him?" That's the question.

Best thing I have read all night. We will all have to wait and see, I guess.

Media Wrap-Up

Almost everyone agrees Kerry won. Tom Bevan on RCP has it right, I think- "I don't think there is any question that John Kerry helped himself with his performance tonight. Just how much, and how much it may matter in the polls is a different story altogether."

Josh Marshall blogs "If President Bush's current lead is built not upon confidence in him or his policies but in a simple belief that Kerry isn't solid enough to be president, then I think this performance could help Kerry a good deal." Exactly. If the Bush lead is really based on Kerry not being a viable alternative yet, I think Kerry helped himself a lot here.

Pundits seem to agree. Even Bill Kristol says Kerry did a good job. Flash polls show Kerry win. NBC in-studio undecided voters say Kerry wins unanimously. I read the comment thread real quick at RCP and saw no dissapointed Kerry supporters, but a fair amount of "worried" Bushies. MSNBC online poll has it 69/31 for Kerry.

So Kerry won. The important question is- di this debate make up anyone's mind. Change a vote? Too soon to tell.

Post Debate Wrap-Up

First of all, I should say that I just got done watching the debate on videotape. We had another hockey game tonight (another easy win) and so I had to tape it. I watched it straight through, without a notepad, to just get a general impression of the thing. I tried to see it from a general public point of view, as opposed to my personal political junkie view. I have not watched any media, read any articles, or seen any instant polls. These are just my first impressions.

The Debate:Bush started out strong I think. He seemed to know what his message was (Kerry sends mixed messages) and he stayed on message. But as much as it seems he knows his message, Bush still seems completely detached from the reality in Iraq. He has no new proposal, no new plan. Just more of the same. Is "the same" working? Not today, many people died today in multiple car-bombings in Baghdad. Shouldn't Kerry have mentioned this news just as an example? Kerry objected mostly to Bush's decision process and planning in the war, but not about the conduct of the war itself. Which is odd, because he is making that the main focus of his Iraq argument.

Kerry did a better job of stating his Iraq position than I have ever heard him give tonight. He said Bush went to war "the wrong way" and "rushed" into it. But then he did not follow through with all the other things that should have followed. What about not securing the borders which Allawi says terrorists are "pouring through"? What about disbanding the army, or letting the looting go on? What about our conduct towards al-Sadr? What about Fallujah? What about the fact that even Republicans are complaining now about the "total incompetence" (Chuck Hagel) displayed? The whole debate seemed to focus on why Bush went to war, not whether or not it was administrated poorly. Point missed by Kerry.

Kerry kills me with the whole work with our allies thing. Number one, it is pessimistic because it suggests America cannot accomplish anything it sets out to do. Of course, we could not fight a global War on Terror without any help from other nations, but our collective ego thinks we can. Also, it plays into his perceived weakness of leaning on other countries too much. Kerry says he would not give any other nation veto power of our security, but then he says all the time we need allies. When exactly would he go it alone if he had to? Couldn't he say "if American lives and interests our at stake, I would to defend our people no matter what the rest of the world thought." When Kerry trotted out that example about John Kennedy and Charles DeGaulle, I was looking for a hook to come out. Hello, mentioning "France" does not help your cause.

Perfect example is his "solution" for Iraq. A summit. Great, I'm sure the militants will just stop their attacks against our soldiers then. Once we start talking. Remember I wanted to know what Bush or Kerry would do right now to change things. I heard nothing tonight.

Wrap-Up of Wrap-Up:
Kerry won, but not by much. Not enough to change the race. I think he passed a bar, he looked and seemed presidential. But I do not know that he moved the polls too much tonight. I can see his performance being effective for those I-kind-of-want-to-vote-for-Kerry-but-I-have-doubts type of people. I think his "leaners" are now more in the strong category. Kerry won on points, but he certainly did not score a knockout. Bush seemed a little lost and on the defensive. All he seemed to say was- this is "hard work" and we have to be "resolute" to win.

Best line for Kerry - It's one thing to be certain, another thing to be certain and be wrong.

Best line for Bush - I'm interested in working with our nations and do a lot of it. But I'm not going to make decisions that I think are wrong for America.

Things notable by their absence: Only one Israel mention? No mention at all of Palistinian conflict, "Road Map" to peace... Nothing at all about the lack of progress there, and what we could or should be doing about it? Wow, how that has fallen off the face of the news (by the way, 29 people died today, and an Israeli spokeman called it an "escalation," "not an invasion.")

Abu Gharib prison. How much of this horrible conduct might be linked to Rumsfeld's edict that the Geneva Convention does not apply to terrorists.

Our border security. We heard some stuff from Kerry about our ports, but nothing about our borders. Homeland security, right?

9/11 Comission, new intelligence director, any of these recommendations.