Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Monday, June 30, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Living On Earth


The June 27th Living on Earth has a few of the Dems, include Dean, in a moderated forum. Some highlights...

Question: Governor Dean, is there any, in your mind, any scientific disagreement about global warming that's significant, or do you think it really is an established fact?

DEAN: It's an established fact unless you're in the Bush Administration. It's clearly a scientific - I agree with Joe - one of the things that drives me absolutely crazy, in all areas, not just the environmental area, is this president is willing to discard science because he doesn't care about science. This is an administration that has substituted ideology for thought. You can't run a country, you can't run a state, your can't run a company if facts don't matter. And facts don't matter to this administration. I will note, however, just on a note of, sort of, sadness, in one way - this is Christie Whitman's last day on the job as EPA director. And you may applaud, but this was a women who I served with . She wasn't all that bad, for a Republican, on environmental issues. And she has to be leaving because no one pays any attention to her. She hasn't run the EPA since she arrived there. It's all run by the right-wing young folks from inside the White House who don't care about environmental protection. She tried to do her job, she left because the White House told her what to do, and I think it's a disgrace.

Question: Lead is said to be perhaps the single most preventable disease in America today, and yet nothing has effectively been done about it. What's your prescription?

DEAN: Let me tell you what we did in our state. Not only is lead preventable, but it is also a significant contributor to learning disabilities when kids go to school. We have very old housing stock. We simply put a lot of money in. First of all, we banned lead paints, which has been done nationally. We lowered the standards of lead that were supposed to be in kids' blood. We tested them, we test virtually every kid - we have a law where we can do that. And then we put a bunch of money in, to go through old housing stocks where poor people lived and - it's very expensive - take the paint off the wall, and put new paint in. It's expensive, landlords have to pay for some of it, but it has to be done. The only way to get lead out of kids is to first of all, make sure that the paint comes off and they're living in lead free homes. You have to do that with a combination of regulation and money. And second of all, to deal with the environmental racism issue. And if I just may, for a second...

OLNEY: Your minute is just about up.

DEAN: In that case, I won't for a second.

[LAUGHTER]

Question: Children are especially vulnerable to environmental contaminants because of their developing immune systems. What steps would you take to protect children from environmental threats?

DEAN: We talked about environmental racism. I think the key to environmental racism is to raise the bar for all pollution and if more pollution is in minority communities, that stops too. That implies...we've talked about lead - that's absolutely critical. We've talked about mercury. That's absolutely critical. The bottom line is: if we want to win this election based on environmental issues, we have got to connect the environment, as I was saying, to mercury, directly through families. To talk about what happens to your child when they go to the emergency room with an asthma attack. Those are the kinds of things that we can do. Talk directly about children and then connect it to the environment, just as we connect national security to the environment by not having a renewable energy policy of any kind.

Audio and transcript are available on the LOE website.

ntodd


 
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I'm Not a Power Hitter


I hit singles. But I've swung for the fences in this case. Will you?


Here's the pitch...batter swings...and it's a...

Film at 11.

ntodd 
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Off the Clock


I can't take it any more. I'm done writing B2B material for the day, and I didn't do too badly. Got about 14 pages done, which may or may not sound like a lot to you, but I'm pleased--that's half of what I anticipate pumping out for this 1-day, discussion-based class. Now for a glass of Shiraz and a little blogging...

I was just reading an op-ed piece called DON'T YELL - SELL!, which says:

Nobody is listening - because nothing relevant is being said. Protesters are expressing their rage and frustration, but slogans do not sell ideas, - commercials do. The message must be changed. The protest movement must start to inform the public. It's time to advertise.
...
Anti Bush slogans have become distractions that are simply ignored, if not mocked by the public and the press. Protest slogans must not become fodder for the opposition. Hard facts will be more difficult for the opposition to slap down. We must send a powerful message when we protest. We can earn the respect of the public by showing our knowledge of the issues and we can win supporters by sharing that knowledge. No one responds well to being shouted at. Our slogans must become creative ads that sell this nation back to the people.

We have to get the opposition to switch teams; it is not enough to just try and beat them!

Damn straight.

I marched against Gulf War I in January, 1991. It was the first big protest right after the air campaign started, and there were upwards of 100,000 people in DC that day. It was a beautiful day, albeit a little chilly by the end. Some images:

* Before the march started, there was a gathering in Lafayette Park (I think--I wasn't really familiar with DC, and 12 years have gone by). I was struck by how many damn commies were there, distributing their newspapers. I remember one guy in a black beret that debated me for a while on imperialism. I was against the war, but I wasn't convinced by his Marxist ideology. Come on, Marx was ironically trapped by his own historical frame of reference, failing to see that maybe the proletariat could own the means of production without resorting to revolution. Look at the rise of unions and the number of households who own stock. But I digress...

* A cute protester asked me if I would distribute leaflets, which I of course did. I have no idea what they said. That was not important. Did I mention she was cute?

* I handed some leaflets to my friend Gunnar, one of our troop who travelled down from Maine to attend the rally, so he could help me help the cute girl. He started to hand one to an old lady who sitting on the ground, and she said "No thank you, honey". We looked down and saw she had a little cardboard sign that had some pro-war slogan on it. She was very nice, though.

* Some folks started chanting "Send George Junior!" I look back from today's vantage and am amazed that they were referring to our current President. I think some people in this year's protests recycled the "No Blood For Oil" signs that were around then, too.

* Just as we were all getting ready to motivate for the march itself, some young Republican types started a counter march with a big banner that read "20 empty silos, 20,000 dead Iraqis...it's Miller Time!" I still cringe when I think of the callous attitude they had, and likely still have, toward non-American life.

* I remember thinking: isn't there another anti-war song besides "Give Peace a Chance"? Stop singing it! Stop it. Please. Now I understand why the construction workers on the scaffolding above us kept flipping us the bird.

Slogans can be useful. I can get behind the "Bush Lied. People Died." meme. We are right, but really, we must state our case better. Otherwise the other side will dismiss us, and that's just as bad as not being heard at all.

Peace out,
ntodd 
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Slow Blog Day


Scanned the news, had a cuppa joe, and need to plug away at B2B. Probably will take a blog break at some point, but major opining will have to wait. A few thoughts before shutting myself up:

* I greet news of Israeli forces withdrawing from Gaza and Bethlehem, the cease fire announcements, and all the other the small steps toward peace with a mixture of hope and skepticism.
* Bill Frist is either a moron, evil, or both. Come on, a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?
* Dean has reached the $6.3 million level. Still not Bush-esque numbers, but astounding all the same and puts him in the top tier of contenders.

ntodd 
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Sunday, June 29, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Six Million Dollar Man


Ho-Ho may have $6M in the bank this quarter, but sadly he has nothing on Bush, as the NY Times reports:

Mr. Bush is forgoing matching money, so there will be no limit to what he can spend. His campaign says it plans to raise $170 million, almost twice what Mr. Bush had in 2000 when he also refused matching money and faced stiff primary opposition, and many times more than any other candidate has ever spent.

In comparison, the amount is equivalent to everything spent for salaries and expenses at the White House during the 2002 fiscal year.

In a two-week coast-to-coast blitz that began June 17, the Bush campaign expects to raise more than $20 million. The president had fund-raisers in San Francisco and Los Angeles on Friday. Earlier, he had $2,000-a-plate events in Washington, in New York and at a resort near Atlanta. He intends to wrap up the swing on Monday with appearances in Miami and Tampa, Fla.

During the two-week period, Vice President Dick Cheney has been at fund-raising events in Boston and Richmond, Va., and he was scheduled to be in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Akron, Ohio, on Monday. Laura Bush has raised money in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Chattanooga, Tenn.

Counting proceeds from direct-mail solicitations and a Web site, the campaign said it expected to have as much as $30 million on hand by the end of this month.


Yikes! Looks like the Campaigner-in-Chief is doing some good fundraising--too bad that energy couldn't be spent on, say...actually doing the people's work. But come general election time, will it matter? Here's what Tony Corrado, a prof at my alma mater, has to say at the conclusion of the article:

"Presidential elections tend to be driven by real-world events like the state of the economy or developments in foreign affairs," said Anthony Corrado, a political scientist at Colby College in Maine who specializes in elections.

"But if it's a really close race like the one in 2000, if every last vote counts, this could make the difference," Mr. Corrado said.

So maybe the big bucks matter more than the quagmire in Iraq and the crappy economy, or maybe not. As cynical as I am, I still hold out hope that democracy will prevail over plutocracy. Remains to be seen, I guess.

ntodd 
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Changing My Name to Thor


What a difference a bat makes! I switched to a heavier, 33 oz bat (contrast: last year I exclusively used a 22 oz) this evening and went 2 for 2, with a run scored. I was definitely swinging later, so didn't pull the ball as much, nor did I pop it up. Swinging felt good, so I think I found my swatter for the season.

My second hit was a 2-out single, and I reached 1st base (with bases loaded) when we called the game in the 2nd inning due to extremely close lightning. In fact as soon as the ball left the bat, there was an enormous bolt of lightning about a mile away. We all agreed in the dugout that it was evidence of my incredible pent up power, though there was some debate if that made me Zeus or Thor--I say Thor.

We were only down 7 runs, which is pretty close for us--usually by the 2nd inning the game is already way gone. The way we were hitting tonight, I might've scored again, making the game competitive. Ah well, we'll never know.

So now I'm going to install a new filter in the fish tank since my old one gave up the ghost today. Then maybe a little Harry Potter before my wife kills me. I'm writing today off, no pun intended, and will be back at the B2B development full-swing tomorrow and Tuesday. Gotta get things done by start of biz Wednesday, so I envision a couple looong days--at least my slides are all done, and I've got a good framework for my text, so maybe it will be better than I think. Wish me luck.

Cheers,
ntodd

[Update: Filter installed, running well. Fish are happier now that they have oxygenated water. I am happier now that I'm getting back into the hitting groove. Just did the math and I'm 5 for 11, which is a .455 average! You care. You really do.] 
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Senator Biden on Iraq


While taking a little break from B2B on Friday, I watched Senator Biden on CSPAN2 (yeah, I sure know how to relax) say a few words about the situation in Iraq. Here are some highlights:

I returned from Baghdad on Tuesday with two of my distinguished Republican colleagues--Senators LUGAR and HAGEL. I came away with several impressions that I want to pass on to my colleagues in the hope that it will give some additional information or insight...First, there is still a war going on. It is more like a guerrilla war but there is a war. Meeting with our military troops, meeting with our generals, one told us: Every time I send a young man out on patrol on the streets of Baghdad in a humvee, I tell them: Treat it as if you are in battle.
...
[T]here seems to be a tone deafness right now, and that is that the administration thought building the peace would be built upon three assumptions they had, for which, in the hearings we held I never found any basis. ...The result has been massive problems in terms of getting basic services back and restoring security. We have seen looting and political sabotage against power, oil, and water plants, some organized resistance, which seems to be getting more organized...

While Rummy may deny it, we are indeed engaged in a guerrilla war. Biden's assertion seems to be borne out by Capt. Jeff Fitzgibbons, a military spokesman: "America has to understand that we've gone from a conventional war that ended May 1 to an unconventional war. We're not at peace by any stretch." This sends chills down my spine. I recall, through the hazy memories of 30 years ago, as a toddler having nightmares about Vietnamese "gorillas" taking my daddy away. I was too young to know what "guerrillas" were, but heard enough on TV and in grown-up talk to know whatever they were, they were definitely scary--I suspect I incorporated stuff I'd heard about my Dad's travails with the Draft Board and his status (he was 1-O and did rehab work in Williamsport, PA, as his alternative service). And now we see GIs being abducted and killed, and hear that the National Guard and the reservists are not coming home any time soon. I feel for today's toddlers who might be having their own nightmares about Iraqi gorillas.

Biden also reminds us we shouldn't have been surprised by all this:

[W]e should have known better. We had extensive experience in the Balkans. We had considerable experience in Afghanistan, which is a failure, in my view. We had considerable bipartisan testimony from experts on the left, right, and center, going back to July, that these problems would be protracted and they would be deep. I will never forget two leading generals, the former head of CENTCOM and former NATO director, testifying before our committee, and I remember the parallel they used.

They said we have this incredible military juggernaut which we have planned incredibly well and executed it incredibly well, but we should in tandem be planning for the occupation of Iraq. There was virtually no planning, but that is water over the dam.

The Senator must have read my blog entry from Wednesday. I earnestly hope that we can overcome our mistakes leading up to this war, and that they won't haunt us or the Iraqis for generations. To that end, we must redouble our efforts at rebuilding Iraq. That won't be easy:

[W]e are going to need significant resources to get all of this done. Just a couple of weeks ago my committee, headed by Senator Lugar, had testimony from leading members of the administration saying do not worry; basically, the oil revenues are going to take care of all of this.

What a joke. We have a leading oil man appointed by the administration in Baghdad with whom we sat and met, my two colleagues and I. He said we will get to 1 million barrels a day maybe by the end of the summer; maybe by the end of 2004, an average of 2.4 million a day.

Let me explain that. It means there may be the ability to generate $5 billion worth of revenue this year and $14 billion next year; and it costs us $3 billion a month just to maintain our troops there.

I'm not an economist or MBA, but I'm pretty sure that $5 billion is less than $36 billion. All that talk about oil paying for it all was a bunch of crap, just like everything else we've heard from BushCo. The Economist discusses this in a recent article: [A]fter three months in the country, America has yet to export a drop of fresh oil, and its production rates are barely half the 1.5m barrels a day target set over a month ago...[proconsul] Bremer admits that his target of $5.5 billion of oil exports by the end of the year (which would yield revenue of $3.5 billion in 2003) depends on security. And we all know the security situation right now is ugly. I agree with the Senator when he says:

It is time we start leveling with the American people...Nobody back home understands. The American people have not been given the facts, in my view, to be able to fully understand how monumental the task is we are undertaking, how long it will take and how much it will cost, how many troops. The President needs to go to the American people and tell them.

I will end where I began 10 months ago in this Chamber after my hearings in July--almost a year ago, when I chaired the Foreign Relations Committee. I said then and I repeat it: The one thing all who come out of the Vietnam era generation can agree on is, regardless of what our view was on the war at the time, no foreign policy, no matter how well fashioned, can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people.

Reminiscent of a Kissinger quotation: No foreign policy - no matter how ingenious - has any chance of success if it is born in the minds of a few and carried in the hearts of none. Indeed, we the people need to know the facts. Our democracy demands it. Our security requires it. Our foreign policy cannot be run by a cabal that dismisses the protests of a sizable portion of the US and world populations as a "focus group" and refuses to level with us. Tell us the truth--we can handle it.

Peace,
ntodd 
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Ministers knew war papers were forged


The Independent (UK) reports:

A high-ranking American official who investigated claims for the CIA that Iraq was seeking uranium to restart its nuclear programme last night accused Britain and the US of deliberately ignoring his findings to make the case for war against Saddam Hussein.
...
The testimony of the former US diplomat further undermines the claims of both the British and US governments that Saddam had developed, or was developing, weapons of mass destruction.

The Niger connection became one of the most important and most controversial elements in the build-up to war, and both Britain and the US used it to claim that Iraq was "reconstituting" its nuclear programme. It later emerged that the report was based on forged letters obtained by Italian intelligence from an African diplomat. The Italians were said to have passed the letters to their British counterparts, from where they reached the CIA.

When the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finally had the opportunity to inspect the documents, nearly a year later, they were dismissed as fakes in less than a day. Neither the US nor Britain ever gave the IAEA any other information to back up their allegations on Iraq's uranium-buying activities, despite the "separate sources" cited by Mr Straw.
...
The ex-diplomat says he is outraged by the way evidence gathered by the intelligence community was selectively used in Washington to support pre-determined policies and bolster a case for war.

I used to be outraged, but I'm so far beyond that at this point I don't even know if there's a word for what I feel now. Bush lied, people died. Let's get the liar out of office in 2004, before he kills again.

ntodd 
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U.S. Death Toll In Iraq Passes 200


The AP reports:

After days of intense searching by ground and air, U.S. forces on Saturday found the bodies of two soldiers missing north of Baghdad, as the toll of American dead since the start of war topped the grim milestone of 200.
...
The deaths bring to at least 63 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since major combat was declared over on May 1. The military has confirmed the identities of 138 soldiers killed before that date, for a total of 201 so far, while the names of several other casualties have not yet been made available.

In addition, some 42 British troops have died in the current conflict. The American death toll was still far below the 382 U.S. troops killed in the 1991 Gulf War.

It is impossible to know how many Iraqi soldiers have died since the war started on March 20. An Associated Press investigation completed earlier this month found that at least 3,240 civilians died throughout the country.

We'll probably never know how many Iraqi soldiers were killed, though estimates are in the thousands. As for Iraqi civilian and US/UK casualties, I want to draw your attention to a couple of items in the right nav bar. While the AP estimates 3240 civilian deaths, Iraq Body Count estimates a range of 5500-7200. As for our military casualties, there is a running total over at Lunaville that breaks this conflict up into three periods: from the start of the war until Saddam's statue was brought down; from the fall of Baghdad to the USS Lincoln stunt declaring major combat ops over; from May 1 to present.

I'm keeping both Iraq Body Count and the Lunaville Summary on the right side of the blog for the duration. This, as gruesome as it is, must be kept in the forefront. People need to know exactly what Bush's butcher bill is. Maybe eventually people will get the hint.

Peace out,
ntodd 
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In the Immortal Words of Mel Allen




I received a message from Dean early this morning (not long after my post-poker post):

We have passed an incredible milestone in our campaign.

Thanks to you, our fundraising total for the second quarter has surged from 3.2 million dollars to 6 million dollars in just eight days.

How did this happen? You and over 21,000 people believed that your individual contribution could make a difference in our campaign. And your contributions have made a massive difference. I cannot thank you enough.

From Meet the Press, through my announcement speech, to our MoveOn victory--and now with over $2.8 million raised through thousands of donations--the last eight days have been amazing.

As Mel would say: "How about that!" I humbly request you help Howard reach another milestone. I think he might be getting some of last night's winnings afterall...

ntodd 
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20 More Bucks For Dean?


Ah, no, I'm keeping tonight's poker winnings. As usual, a very fun evening, and I made out pretty well, too. I'm a little wired right now, so I figured I'd blog a little before bed.

Made a couple more tweaks to the template, so if you're a regular (yaright), you might notice things appearing, disappearing, etc. Just playing around a bit. Feedback welcomed and encouraged.

ntodd 
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Saturday, June 28, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Dean Expands Online Presidential Campaign


The AP reports:

Expanding his already active use of the Internet, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is mounting an online ``adopting Iowans'' attempt make thousands of backers around the country a force in Iowa's leadoff precinct caucuses.

Dean has posted a video on his campaign's Web site asking backers around the country to use a regularly scheduled ``meet-up'' next week to convince the thousands of backers who log on to his site to each write two letters to Iowans urging them to give Dean's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination consideration.
...
With rivals like Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. John Kerry having closer ties to the Democratic establishment, Dean has sought to use the Internet to build backing among nontraditional backers.

Dean also is seeking to raise money over the Internet and is expected to report some success when contribution reports are filed next week with the Federal Election Commission.

Dean aides have predicted he would report about $4.5 million in money raised this quarter, but campaign sources said as much as $500,000 a day has been flowing into the campaign, largely through the Internet appeal.

"It will be over $5 million,'' Trippi said of this week's report. That would put Dean, lesser known than some rivals, in the top financial tier of the Democratic field.

Don't forget to help Howard get over that $5M!

ntodd 
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Sleepless Days and Nights


While I was making some lunch today I filled my glass with cold, clean water, thankful that it's not so hot that the glass immediately starts sweating, and I realized that I wasn't really sweating either. Such a relief from the stifling days we've had lately here in Vermont. Contrast to what Michael Birmingham observes in Baghdad:

I spoke with a 70 year-old woman, who says she cannot sleep at night, because there is no air conditioning or even a fan for the stifling heat. During her sleepness night, it is dark and frightening. There are no streetlights or light within the house. She lives only with her daughter-in-law and young grandchildren as her sons are abroad because of sanctions era poverty and consequent need to earn income. She is afraid to leave her bedroom. Occasionally there is still gunfire outside the house. She is afraid of the "cowboy" U.S. soldiers (whom she sees as young clueless and operating with impunity), as well as house breakers who could at a whim decide to enter the home of her completely defenseless family.

All while proconsul Bremer enjoys air-conditioned comfort and security in Saddam's former palace. And I blog, and drink cold, clean water.

ntodd 
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Another Milestone


At 9:29:36 am this blog had its 250th visit! Took two weeks exactly to hit this mark. Average traffic is 31 visitors a day--still small, but growing. Too cool for school.

ntodd 
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When Do We Start Using the 'Q' Word?


No respite for troops in Iraq:

One U.S. soldier was killed and four others were wounded Friday night when their convoy was attacked in a northern neighborhood of Baghdad, a U.S. military spokesman said.

An Iraqi, who was working as an interpreter, was also wounded in the attack just before 11:00 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) Friday in the district of Thawra, the spokesman said.
...
The assault is the latest in a string of attacks against the coalition that shows no sign of slowing despite Operation Desert Scorpion, the military operation designed to crack down on Iraqi insurgents.
...
"What we're seeing is an urban guerilla force taking the initiative against the forces that are there," said a U.S. military official familiar with the latest briefings on the security situation in Iraq.

"We are seeing the elements getting traction, probing, finding a vulnerability, and there is no coercive apparatus to punish them, so we can expect ... more of this stuff. We don't have the secret police-type there to root out that insurgent force and never will, so we are at a disadvantage," he said.

It's called "assymetry". According to the report ASYMMETRY AND U.S. MILITARY STRATEGY (emphasis mine):

[Asymmetry] is acting, organizing, and thinking differently than opponents in order to maximize one's own advantages, exploit an opponent's weaknesses, attain the initiative, or gain greater freedom of action. It can be political-strategic, military-strategic, operational, or a combination of these. It can entail different methods, technologies, values, organizations, time perspectives, or some combination of these. It can be short-term or long-term. It can be deliberate or by default. It can be discrete or pursued in conjunction with symmetric approaches. It can have both psychological and physical dimensions.


And you see some of that definition at work in a recent CBS story:

The U.S. administration in Iraq knows that restoring electricity is crucial. But there can be no power without security.

"Our crews are somewhat afraid of being robbed, being mugged, being killed," says Peter Gibson, a U.S. electricity adviser. "We've had people killed for doing their job."

Repair crews have reported 2,000 incidents of damage to the power grid in six weeks. Some were strategic attacks.

This is what Wolfowitz has to say about the situation in Iraq:

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said the trend in Iraq is still good and should not be seen through the lens of one day's events. "The direction is pretty clear," he said in a telephone interview. "It is toward a more secure Iraq," in which the Baathist position is weakening and basic services are being restored.

Do I hear "light at the end of the tunnel" in his words?

ntodd 
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Big Deal


Red Sox score record 10 runs before making an out:

Boston set a major league record by scoring 10 runs before making an out and cruised to a 25-8 victory over Florida on Friday night...

So what? Opposing softball teams do that to us all the time on the way to scoring 18 runs in the first inning. This isn't history--this is every Sunday and Wednesday night for us. The horror. The horror...

ntodd 
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If I Were A Betting Man...


...and I am, I would bet that jimlog's prediction about Howie is spot on:

Howard Dean is going to raise more money in this quarter than any other Democratic candidate.

This will shock the political world.

To put this in perspective. Last quarter Edwards raised $7.4 million and Kerry raised $7 million. Dean was 5th on the list with $2.6 million, far more than anticipated. The estimates for this quarter are Kerry with $5 million, Gephardt with $5 million, Edwards with $4-5 million, and Dean with $3.5-$4.5 million.

Tonight is poker night, so maybe I'm just in a gambling mood, but I think all y'all should bet on Howard Dean. Think about it: with 10-1 odds*, your 50 dollar contribution could become, well...it still would be 50 bucks, but that's not the point. It's an investment, not a bet. It's an investment in a man who will take America forward, not a man who would take us back to the McKinley era. It's an investment that will pay dividends for all Americans, not just rich, white, straight people. It's an investment in a stronger, more secure America that is also true to its ideals. It's a good investment.

Don't make me wax eloquent--just give Dean some money before the quarter ends on June 30th. Let's show the naysayers and the freepers, the DLC and the DNC, and all the American people that Dean's for real. You have the power!

ntodd

* The page takes a little while to load on dial-up. Presidential horse race is at the bottom. 
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Friday, June 27, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Affirmation of Life


Thank you Evan and Aime for bringing new life to this world. Congratulations on the birth of your son, Oscar!

xoxoxo,
ntodd 
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For Laughs


Check out what the freepers are saying about Dean and the MoveOn primary. One example that leapt out at me:

Rob Reiner (aka Meathead) shilled for Dean on Charlie Rose last week, touting a Dean/Clarke ticket on the theory that Clarke can compensate for Dean's rabid hatred of all things military.

Well said. Not that spelling counts, but are we in the running for the Dan Quayle Potatoe Spelling Award? It's Wesley Clark. Anyway, here's what Dean actually says:

America became America by rebelling against imperial power.

America emerged from isolation to greatness by beating fascist power.

America became synonymous with justice by supporting independence for colonies from an imperial world.

America's ideals triumphed when it confronted communism to the point of extinction.

America is not Rome. We do not dream of empire. We dream of liberty for all.

In November 2004, the American people will seek a President who is prepared to use our brave and remarkable armed forces as I would to defend against any actual or imminent threat to ourselves or our friends and allies and, in concert with others to deal with grave humanitarian crises.

They will seek a President skilled at garnering the support of allies, but willing to act as I would when it is necessary to protect and defend our country.

They will seek a President focused as I would be on the dismantling of terrorist organizations, the disruption of terrorist operations, the apprehension of terrorist planners and the prevention of terrorist efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

But they will also seek a President who would strive as I would not to divide the world into us versus them, but rather to rally the world around fundamental principles of decency, responsibility, freedom and mutual respect. Our foreign and military policy must be about the notion of America leading the world not America against the world.

Recall that I don't dig violence--what Dean says still sounds pretty damn reasonable. Can we honestly believe that the US even with all it's wealth will be able to outspend the entire world on defense forever? Do we want to? Do we want to take on a United States of Europe, or China, or the ever-growing Axis of Evil on an eternal battlefield? Dean suggests that we not solely rely on our military might to achieve our aims and secure the peace. Dean suggests that we strengthen our alliances to combat terror. Dean suggests that our armed forces are truly remarkable, and should be used to uphold American ideals, not American imperialism. What's the problem?

Well, hopefully the freepers don't vote.

ntodd

 
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All Your Base Are Belong to Dean


First, I have to thank hank at Eschaton for the headline. Dunno if he actually coined the modified phrase, but no matter--it was he who used it in the post I read, so credit he shall get. If you don't get the joke, I can only ask where have you been?

Now, on to the matter at hand: Dean's base. Howie's coming off an impressive trouncing of Kucinich, who is arguably more lefty than Dean, in the MoveOn primary. As I've noted before, Dean's really not all that liberal when you get down to it, so it's cool to see that progressive elements in the party are getting behind him.

His 43.87% vote tally is impressive, but I think his 86.02% "enthusiastic support" level is more remarkable and important. It means that a lot of people would unite behind him should he win the nomination, even if he's not as liberal as they would like. A very good sign. Of course, we've got to keep our feet on the ground and recognize that this primary only involved 317,647 people. Greater sample than a poll, but clearly a skewed demographic.

I'm becoming ever more awed by the online (and offline) grassroots element of his campaign. 5000 people crammed into Church Street Monday to watch his announcement in person. 30,000 people nationwide reportedly watched his speech online or on CSPAN. Just a little while ago he crossed another threshold with 40,000 MeetUp members, representing meetings in 300 different cities. This is just the thing for someone who is still relatively unknown and will never raise the same kind of money as our Campaigner-in-Chief. He can't win by playing Bush's game, so let's find a new one!

There's been a bunch of talk in the blogosphere, mostly from rightwing trolls but also from non-Dean Dems, about how his alleged liberalism will be easy pickings for Bush. Rumor has it even the Wall Street Journal is hyping Dean under the assumption that he's the weakest possible nominee. I wouldn't be so sure. Howie's biggest flaw is that he's a thoughtful politician, with complex ideas that don't boil down very well into good, simple propaganda. That said, I think this can also be his greatest asset: you can't pin any one particular label on him. That might give him the maneuverability required in this battle.

Regardless what his positions are, Dean clearly is bringing a great deal of energy to the table. He is exciting a lot of people, and if enough folks become engaged in the process his momentum will keep growing. So come on, get involved. Remember: you have the power!

ntodd

PS--Shermaclay has thoughts in a similar vein. Ignore the fact that we're both using the same blogspot template (yes, I'll be personalizing the design sometime...). 
   |


Rachel


The Seattle Times reports today:

Israel's military prosecutor has exonerated Israeli soldiers in the death of Rachel Corrie, 23, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in March as she protested the destruction of a Palestinian home at the Rafah refugee camp.

Though I didn't know her, Rachel's death made me very sad at the time. I honestly don't know what really happened, as it is with all such things. If you don't remember the story, here are a few accounts:

* The Observer - Making of a martyr - As always, Rachel Corrie went last Sunday to the falafel stall where she usually had lunch and bantered with the Palestinian proprietors. Carrying a loudspeaker and wearing an orange fluorescent vest, the young American peace campaigner was heading for a protest against the Israeli army's demolition of Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

Later that afternoon Corrie, 23, died under the blade of an Israeli bulldozer and now, according to a growing legend, she is a new heroine for Palestine. There are graffiti in Gaza in her honour - one slogan reads: 'Rachel was a US citizen with Palestinian blood' - there is a picture of her on the website of the terrorist group, an honour usually reserved for suicide bombers. Yasser Arafat has pledged to name a street after her.


* WaPo - American Is Killed By Israeli Bulldozer - Corrie, who had been in the Middle East for about six weeks as a volunteer for a U.S.-based Palestinian support group called the International Solidarity Movement, was kneeling in front of the bulldozer and tried to scramble out of its way, said Tom Dale, 18, a British protester who said he was standing several yards away.

"She thought they'd stop, but they kept going," Dale said. "She tried to stand up and fell over backwards. The bulldozer dragged her under its blade. About four of the internationals [protesters] gestured to the driver . . . but it kept going, and she was under the main body of the bulldozer.


* Ha'aretz - American peace activist killed by army bulldozer in Rafah - Israeli officials expressed "regret" over the incident to American officials, sources in Jerusalem said, and in Washington, a State Department statement said it had received reports of the incident, and was "assessing the situation."

Some say she was effectively aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorists. Who should I believe? The Palestinians, who have made her a martyr, or the IDF and its defenders, who say she was protecting tunnels used by murderers? Again, I don't know. Here's what Israel Insider said about Rachel:

[T]he sacrifice Corrie emblematized was that of others -- the victims of violence that she facilitated. She dedicated her life to protecting tunnels used to smuggle weapons and bombs from Egypt into Gaza. The elaborate structures, dug from inside homes under living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms and often outfitted with electricity, elevators and communications equipment, serve as a means to the murders of Israeli civilians.

Corrie was acting on behalf of the radical Arab-led International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group dedicated to "resistance" against "the occupation of Palestine." In her diary, Corrie writes sympathetically of the killing of Israelis by Arab terrorists. "[T]ry to imagine, please," she gushes, "the courage it requires."
...
Terrorists like Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Mohammed Hanif who, under the cover of Corrie's ISM, slipped into Israel from Gaza on April 30 and went to a Tel Aviv beachfront pub strapped with bombs that might have come through Corrie's tunnels. There they murdered three people and maimed 55, all innocents who were merely enjoying drinks and human company -- life-affirming acts that required negation.

The bulldozer that killed Rachel was ostensibly on a tunnel-destroying mission. Clearly I can have no idea if that's true or not, so I won't comment on that. But let me note that the author of the above article sneers at Rachel's ability to see another side of the issue. To add context to what he quoted, here are her words in full:

I would also like to ask you, and those to whom you pass this on, to think about the relative positions of the fighters and occupiers in this monumentally unequal struggle. While the huge force of Israelis have every technical aid invented by the US war machine, the few young fighters have NOTHING BUT THEIR WEAPON (and this not the most modern) - no helmet, bullet proof vest, radio contact or other protection. No back-up, no plane, helicopter, tank, APC, searchlight, dogs, flares, ambulance or refuge - put all the Israeli/American propaganda aside for a few minutes and try to imagine, please, the courage it requires to do what these young fighters do, knowing that the odds are against escape and that, every time they do succeed in evading death, the odds against a further survival are shortened. Even if the operation is a success the price is always high.

Yes, she is talking about people who are killing innocent Israelis, but listen to her plea. She rightly observes the obvious imbalance in power, the overwhelming Goliath that Israel has become. This doesn't sound like gushing, to me. More like a non-violent activist who understands the situation all too well.

On some of the conservative blogs and other sites a lot of noise has been made about the pictures of Rachel lighting a paper American flag on fire. Somehow, they see this as proof that she was in fact violent. While rich with symbolism, her act is as non-violent as any other she engaged in. America funds an Israeli military machine which has killed almost two thousand Palestinians*, and I can certainly understand someone like Rachel wanting to protest our involvement in such slaughter.

Bottom-line: Rachel was someone engaged in active, non-violent struggle for people who really feel powerless. This might sound odd, but I hope her example ultimately will show the Palestinians that there might be other ways to fight than by blowing up Israeli buses and cafes. It's pretty clear to me, as it was apparently clear to Rachel, that their armed resistance is futile. Time for both sides to find another path.

If you would like to know more about Rachel Corrie, check out ISM's website, which includes photos, correspondence, and other items of interest.

Peace,
ntodd

* I included this International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism report in an effort to provide full disclosure about some of the stats we've heard about I/P casualties. At least according to this report, whose veracity I cannot vouch for, the imbalance in the number of civilians killed on either side is not "as bad" as often reported. And yet 34% more Palestinian noncombatants have died. Further, the number of combatant deaths I think also illustrates how much more powerful the IDF is. That said, I find keeping score to be a gruesome and unhelpful exercise. The butcher bill is simply too great on either side, and let's leave it at that.


 
   |


Greg would have supported you, Dr. Dean


Go read this letter, posted last night on Dean's blog:

My friend died today.

My best friend, Lance Corporal Gregory MacDonald of the United States Marine Corp died in Iraq when his vehicle overturned while rushing to aid a group of fellow Marines who were being ambushed.
...
Dr. Dean, we need you more than ever. Something is wrong with this country when our best warrior-philosophers are thrown into the cauldren of Iraq by a President who went AWOL from national guard duty. Something is wrong with this country when an actual expert on the subject of Iraq is sent to war by a cynical, unscupulous Vice President who had "other priorities" when it came his turn to serve.
...
I support you Dr. Dean, because I can think of no other way to better honor the memory of a man ten times greater than our President, even when he plays dress-up in a flight suit - unintentially mocking those who fought and died in uniform.

I don't know who the author, SZ, is. I don't know if this is for real or not (the incident is real, just not sure about this letter). In a way, I don't think it matters because whoever posted this has an eloquence I cannot match.

Peace,
ntodd 
   |


The Results Are In!


Well, Ho-Ho didn't receive the required 50% for him to garner MoveOn's endorsement, which is not all that surprising really, but he did crush everybody else in the very crowded field, garnering 43.87% of the vote, with Kucinich in second place at 23.93%. That certainly bodes well for his campaign, I think!

There was a second question on the ballot, asking people to mark all the candidates they would enthusiastically support. In response, 86.02% of all voters said they would enthusiastically support Dean, while Kerry came in second at 75.29%. This also seems like a big positive for Howie.

More to come when I've had time to analyze things. First some lunch, and a little more work on B2B...

Don't forget: You have the power!

ntodd 
   |


On the Lighter Side


He's baaaack:

Ex-Iraqi information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf has re-emerged on Arab television screens claiming the U.S. released him after questioning.

The former minister, who was ridiculed in the U.S. and UK for his daily media briefings alleging Iraqi successes during the war, said Thursday the battle had been a "very difficult time. Not just on one man, but on all."

With white hair and without his trademark beret and grin he appeared subdued compared to his usual combative style.

Welcome back, Mr. al-Sahaf. I hope to hear pithy comments from you again soon. In the meantime, I've got your oldies to make me laugh.

ntodd 
   |

Thursday, June 26, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Dancing in the Streets


By now it's old news, at least according to Internet time--it's been all over the blogosphere and I've read quite a lot of posts. Today the Supreme Court ruled on the Texas sodomy law:

The Supreme Court struck down a Texas ban on gay sex Thursday, ruling that the law was an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

The justices voted 6-3 in striking down the Texas law, saying it violated due process guarantees.

"The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court's majority. "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime."

Gay rights advocates immediately hailed the decision, while religious conservatives condemned it. In a blistering dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia said the court "has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda."

This is huge. I'm very happy that finally SCOTUS reversed Bowers v. Hardwick. Reversed it!

A personal aside: I got my start spouting opinions in print when I wrote an op-ed piece about the 1986 decision for my college newspaper freshman year. That got me a stint as the Opinions Editor, and launched me on a checkered career as a writer and editor for a variety of school pubs.

Anyway, I'm pleased that we have something to celebrate. We're not there yet, but this is a big first step toward recognition of fundamental rights for our fellow citizens and human beings. About bloody time. There have been a lot of interesting debates at Eschaton and DailyKos, so I won't dwell on this much more. Check out their threads to get a good diversity of comments (unlike here, where there will be a grand total of zero, guaranteed). The only thing I want to say here is that Scalia is a constructivist jerk. He's wicked smart, but intellectually dishonest, IMNSHO.

If you're so inclined, you can read for yourself:

* Majority Decision
* O'Connor's Concurring Decision
* Dissenting Opinion
* Thomas' Dissent

Rock on,
ntodd 
   |


VPR on Dean


Vermont Public Radio's Switchboard call-in program had a roundtable discussion on Tuesday about the Dean campaign:

Reporters and analysts from around the state assess Howard Dean's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Bob Kinzel's guests are VPR's John Dillon, Tracy Schmaler of the Vermont Press Bureau, and Middlebury College Political Science Professor Eric Davis.

Interesting to note that they also talk about the blogosphere's impact on news and the campaign.

ntodd 
   |


A Wiener Not Worth 2 Bucks, Let Alone 2000



I'm not going to have at it with the same zeal as Atrios, but I still wish everybody a happy Appropriate Michael Savage's Name For Your Own Purposes Day:

Today, as you know, is Appropriate Michael Savage's Name For Your Own Purposes Day, in response to the right-wing media personality Michael Savage's dumb-ass lawsuit against three websites that exist solely or largely to criticize him. I've requested that as many bloggers and other website-keepers as possible dogpile onto Mr. Savage, because he can't sue us all. Keep tuning in to my website all day today, as it will serve as a clearinghouse for all the participants.


Enjoy the festivities everyone, and please remember to drink responsibly!

ntodd 
   |


Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!


Dean still dominates the news cycle:

* McPaper: Democratic race still tight enough to turn on accident of timing - In the past six months, Howard Dean has transformed himself from an ego-powered dreamer into an enthusiasm-fueled candidate on par with his established Democratic rivals. Yes, other maverick candidates such as Jimmy Carter (1976), Gary Hart (1984) and John McCain (2000) have surged out of nowhere to upend a presidential race. But never before has a play-by-his-own-rules insurgent made a dash like Dean's so far in advance of the primaries.

* Las Vegas Sun: Dean: Anti-War Doesn't Mean Weakness - In Wednesday's address [to the Council on Foreign Relations], Dean said American needs to lead by example, not force, and unite allies. He vowed to defend America against imminent threats such as terrorism and longer-term dangers such as global warming and disease.

* Boston Globe: Dean shifts message in Iowa television campaign - Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean shifted his message in television ads that began airing Tuesday..."As governor, I made sure that every child in my state had health insurance," said Dean. "We added jobs, we raised the minimum wage and we balanced budgets."
...
"I opposed the war with Iraq when too many Democrats supported it," said Dean.


(BTW, you can see the ad here.)

ntodd 
   |


This is Just Weird


The problem with ‘embryo adoption’ :

One of the strangest outcomes of the ongoing debate over embryonic stem-cell research is the government’s use of taxpayer money to support a little-known private organization called Snowflakes. Devoted to encouraging couples to “adopt” human embryos, Snowflakes has received over $1 million from the Bush administration and Congress.

WHILE HELPING people have babies is ethically commendable, there is something very strange about extending the use of the term “adoption” to embryos. Children get adopted, but ... embryos?

And, it is even stranger that the federal government is buying into this way of thinking.

I don't even really know what to say about it, but I find Snowflakes to be a bit disturbing.

ntodd 
   |

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Dean Doesn't Sell $2000 Hotdogs


Democratic leader yet to emerge in early presidential money chase:

Dean raised about $600,000 in the roughly 48 hours after he formally announced his entry into the race Monday, campaign manager Joe Trippi said. "The most important thing for us is to have the resources we need to keep moving forward," Trippi said.

He declined to estimate how much Dean would collect this quarter, but said that if it's $4 million "or any number like it, it should be pretty clear to people" that the former Vermont governor is in the race for the long haul.

Not bad for a couple days' work. If you don't know much about Dean, please read the various posts below. And if you agree that he's a pretty darn good candidate, then please contribute before the fund-raising period ends June 30th. Help him stand out from the Democratic crowd.

You have the power!

ntodd

PS--If you'd rather spend 2000 bucks on a wiener, might I suggest that you just grab some Oscar Meyers at the grocery store? 
   |


Mission Accomplished!


Nuke component unearthed in Baghdad back yard:

U.S. officials: Find is not smoking gun

The CIA has in its hands the critical parts of a key piece of Iraqi nuclear technology -- parts needed to develop a bomb program -- that were dug up in a back yard in Baghdad, CNN has learned.
...
David Albright, who was a U.N. nuclear weapons inspector in Iraq in the 1990s, said inspectors "understood that Iraq probably hid centrifuge documents, may have had components, and so it is very important that those items be found."

"What it is that Obeidi was ordered to keep was all the information and some centrifuge components, so that if he was given the order, he could restart the centrifuge program," said Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.

"In a sense, the program was in hibernation. He was the key to the restart of this centrifuge program, and he never got the order. So in that sense it doesn't show at all that Iraq had a nuclear program. And Obeidi told me that he never worked on a nuclear program after 1991."

I'm still waiting...

[Update, 6/26: http://whatreallyhappened.com has a brief discussion about what a gas centrifuge is really all about. Basically, you ain't burying one of these puppies in your backyard. Thanks to grytpype over at Eschaton. Also check out TPM, where Josh Marshall makes the points I should have about this story.]

ntodd 
   |


The Fog of Softball


It's going to be a long season:

* Game 1 - I went 2 for 3, reached on a fielder's choice, scored 2 runs, and committed an error in right field. We lost 39-7. As my wife just said when I told her, we really suck.

* Game 2 - I went 0 for 2. Popped up to shallow left both times. That's weird, because last season I was the master of the grounder. I mean, I was hitting over .600! I think I'm swinging too early, because in each of the 2nd games I've played, I switched to a light bat and batted .000. Have to tweak things a bit it seems. Oh, and we lost 17-2.

Both games the mercy rule was invoked, though it was so foggy at the end of the 2nd game that we would've called it anyway. There was a downpour about an hour before we played, which cooled things off by about 10 degrees, but it made everything really misty. A couple times when I was in the outfield I couldn't see the ball come off the bat.

It was pretty, though. We play on a school field that sits practically at the foot of Mt. Mansfield. The mist really made for an nice, layered, picturesque view as the sun set. What a great place to play softball.

ntodd 
   |


Still a Long Climb for Dean


The latest Gallup Poll says Lieberman Continues to Pace Democratic Field:

Twenty percent of Democrats in the United States prefer Lieberman for the party's 2004 presidential nomination. Lieberman has a five-point lead over Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt, large enough to be statistically significant. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, at 13%, is close behind Gephardt. Lieberman, Gephardt, and Kerry form a top tier of Democratic candidates, as no other candidate reaches double-digit support, on this or the last two Gallup polls. The second tier of candidates is closely bunched, with North Carolina Senator John Edwards and Sharpton at 7% and Florida Senator Bob Graham, former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun, and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean at 6%. Long-shot Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is supported by just 1% of Democrats.

The silver lining for Ho-Ho? The poll was conducted June 12-18. That's a few days before Dean's MTP appearance and his official announcement speech. I'll be curious to see if that bumps up his recognition and national numbers.

Also interesting is this:

The poll also asked Americans who they are more likely to vote for in 2004 -- George W. Bush or the "Democratic Party's candidate for president." Fifty percent of Americans say Bush, and 38% say the Democratic candidate. (Among registered voters, the figures are 51% and 39%, respectively.) These figures have changed little in recent months, after showing slight movement toward Bush after the start of the Iraq war.
...
While these results give an early read on Bush's re-election chances, it is unclear at this point how predictive they are of the actual outcome of next November's election. Comparable data are available only for the elder George Bush, who stood at 51% support (versus 30% for the Democrat) in June 1991. Bush fell below 50% support in October 1991, and was in the mid-40s in January 1992, 10 months before being defeated for re-election by Bill Clinton.

What was that about history not exactly repeating itself?

ntodd 
   |


From the No Duh Files



Today's WaPo has the headline Inexperienced Hands Guide Iraq Rebuilding:

Two months after the fall of Baghdad, the critical task of postwar rebuilding and governance of most Iraqi cities remains in the hands of U.S. military personnel, almost all of whom lack expertise in government administration and familiarity with the Arab world.

Some current and former U.S. officials involved in the reconstruction effort contend that the failure to more quickly include civilian reconstruction specialists in the postwar occupation has delayed resumption of local government operations and led to resentment among the nearly 20 million Iraqis who live outside the capital.

"The reliance on the military has been a mistake," a senior U.S. official here said. "You need civilians in an operation like this. This is both a political and a military operation. We need to emphasize the political dimension more."

As Lt. Colonel Wally Z. Walters concluded in his April 2002 report THE DOCTRINAL CHALLENGE OF WINNING THE PEACE AGAINST ROGUE STATES:


The U.S. military may be capable of defeating Iraq or other rogue states in war, with or without the assistance of allies. It is less clear that the U.S. can win the peace after war, if it limits its wartime objectives, empowers others with the initiative, or fails to act now to develop the doctrine which would be necessary for success.

I think we have in fact empowered others with the initiative. But just how bad is this, really? A bit earlier in his report (which is subtitled HOW LESSONS FROM POST-WORLD WAR II GERMANY MAY INFORM OPERATIONS AGAINST SADDAM HUSSEIN’S IRAQ), the good Colonel makes an observation about how we handled our occupation of Germany:

American failure to achieve coordination of political, military and allied policy was to haunt the United States for years, especially in the 1948 Berlin crisis, and ultimately in the division of Germany until 1991.

I've referred to the problems with historical analogies before and while we can't say history repeats itself exactly, I think we can make some general observations in applying historical lessons. Clearly, we did not learn much from post-WWII Germany--or rather, not everybody got the memo. Some of us, however, saw this coming. Small solace. I just hope our recent mistakes don't haunt us until 2049.

ntodd 
   |


What Howard Said


The transcript for Dean's appearance on the June 22nd MTP is now available. Some people have dissed his performance--judge for yourself. And because it's worth repeating, here's his "Great Restoration of America" speech from Monday.

ntodd 
   |

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Wish I Had a Magic Wand


Then I could wave it and bring about world peace and cool my house off by a frooglepoopillion degrees. No, we don't have AC--we live in Vermont, for Pete's sake! Well, I've got the ceiling and window fans going, and think I'll retire to read a little Harry Potter. My wife's annoyed that I got to the book first, and I'm savoring every minute of it. Add that to my X-Files DVD faux pas, and my marriage might not last until the next installment. Maybe reading Harry Potter and the Errant Golf Cart will placate her until I finish...

ntodd

[Update, 6/26: I've noticed a bunch of hits on the blog searching for the word frooglepoopillion. It's a word invented in a Dilbert cartoon from earlier this week. Think: very big number. Unclear if it's larger or smaller than a googleplex--my guess is larger, maybe 10^100^100. Hope this helps!] 
   |


Verizon and Union Talks Begin With a Clash on Health Care


My wife and I each have Verizon Wireless* cell phones, both our landline phones are from Verizon, and my office building has a DSL line from them. Not only that, but they're a good customer of my company's as well (we teach telecom/datacom classes for them). In short, this doesn't bode well for us:

"If they don't agree to improve the Verizon Wireless situation, there will be no settlement," Mr. Bahr [president of the CWA] said in a telephone news briefing before the negotiations began.

Verizon officials say they take the strike threat seriously, noting that the union went on an 18-day strike against the company three years ago.

Indeed. Word from my (management) students is they've never seen the company so well-prepared. No wonder: the WSJ expects a 10 month affair (sorry, no link--just saw mention in the print edition). I didn't see any official news release from the company, but the union predictably is using some tough words:

CWA and Verizon met today to start contract negotiations. The Company came to the table with retrogressive demands in virtually every area of the existing contract.

The Company's demands would strip any and all job security, would permit unlimited subcontracting and transfer of work of the New York/New England geographic area. The Company' demand for medical cost sharing and payment for sickness absence would catapult our members back to the 1940's.

As the Union stated in their opening statement we can only surmise that Verizon wants a long and devastating strike and to do everything possible to bust the Union.

It's really unclear to me how the union membership feels. There's a lot of bravado on the VerizonEatsPoop.com website, but I've seen hints there and heard "on the street" that many members are not pleased with their leadership and worried that a "long and devastating strike" will hurt them in the short-run, and the union overall in the long-run.

Now supposedly if a strike does happen on August 2nd, it will be "business as usual" with Verizon. My students chuckle about that, and it remains to be seen. If anybody orders DSL in the next several weeks, I'd be interested to hear how long it takes to get installed...

ntodd

* Note that Verizon Wireless is not 100% owned by Verizon. 
   |


"The Road to Coverup Is the Road to Ruin"


He may be one of the biggest pork barrel politicians on the face of the planet, but damn I love it when Sen. Byrd gets feisty:

[Our] new national security strategy is based upon pre-emptive war against those who might threaten our security.

Such a strategy of striking first against possible dangers is heavily reliant upon interpretation of accurate and timely intelligence. If we are going to hit first, based on perceived dangers, the perceptions had better be accurate. If our intelligence is faulty, we may launch pre-emptive wars against countries that do not pose a real threat against us. Or we may overlook countries that do pose real threats to our security, allowing us no chance to pursue diplomatic solutions to stop a crisis before it escalates to war. In either case lives could be needlessly lost. In other words, we had better be certain that we can discern the imminent threats from the false alarms.
...
The business of intelligence is secretive by necessity, but our government is open by design. We must be straight with the American people. Congress has the obligation to investigate the use of intelligence information by the Administration, in the open, so that the American people can see that those who exercise power, especially the awesome power of preemptive war, must be held accountable. We must not go down the road of cover-up. That is the road to ruin.

Not quite the same without listening to his lilty, W. Virginia delivery, but he does turn a good phrase now and again.

ntodd
 
   |


I Would Ride 500 Miles


And I have! Actually, 517.8 thus far this season. Just did it on the same short loop as yesterday.

* Temperature when I left: 95 F

* Temperature when I got back: 92 F

* Pace: exactly 2 minutes slower than yesterday.

* 2 things that went through my head the entire ride:
- That Proclaimers song - I knew I'd hit 500 today, and I plan on at least another 500 over the balance of the summer/fall. I'm very suggestable--the Jedi Mind Trick works on me, too.
- "The Chain", by Yuri Olesha - at one point in the story, the child is riding his bike and he gets a bug in his eye. The bug is killed and the child wonders why it died, and whether there are poisonous juices in his eye that caused its demise. Yes, I got a bug in my eye about 9 miles into it.

ntodd 
   |


Long Lines at the Polling Places


Finally, I was able to cast my vote in the MoveOn Primary! I didn't get my ballot until 10:23 this morning, and then I had to try 4 times to submit my ballot. I take that as a good sign that turnout is heavy.

Who did I vote for? Here's a challenge: for each person who posts a correct guess before the primary winner is announced on Friday, I will donate an additional 5 bucks to my candidate (who's gotten a fair amount from me already). I'll announce the results and make my extra contribution on Friday (hopefully I can win it back at poker on Saturday. Heh.).

[Update, 6/27: Nope, no comments, no guesses, so no more dough for Ho-Ho. Oh well. Maybe I'll slip him a few more bucks later...]

ntodd 
   |


Milestone


Last night at 11:08:53 pm Eastern, a Road Runner customer was my 100th visitor. Wahoo! All the fuss about Dean apparently drove most of the traffic here yesterday, boosting the daily average from 10 to 16. Slow and steady wins the race--that's good, because I can't get fancy high-speed access like the rr.com person...

ntodd 
   |


The Day After


I'm sick of B2B, so a little blog break. As you might expect, Dean dominated the local front pages today. A round-up of coverage:

Burlington Free Press

* Plausible as president (editorial) - Have no doubt, Howard Dean is a legitimate candidate with a real shot at the White House. And at this point in the campaign schedule, that's all he needs.

* Dean revs crowd - Democrat Howard Dean came home to Burlington on Monday to formally announce for the presidency. He gave a crowd-rousing speech that gave Vermonters a glimpse of the more passionate, more populist politician Dean has become.

* Thousands jam streets for glimpse of history - The Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. shop reported brisk sales of "Maple Powered Howard," a sweet concoction of maple syrup, vanilla ice cream, walnuts and maple-flavored whipped cream. The line for the one-day-only sundae stretched out of the shop minutes after Dean concluded his speech.

* Dean kicks himself for 'country club' remark - "The Democratic Party, all the candidates from Washington, they all know each other, they all move in the same circles, and what I'm doing is breaking into the country club." ... Dean winced as he heard his own words.

* National media turns spotlight on Dean - The media interest in Dean, according to one national correspondent, is more than routine. "He's sort of come out of nowhere to rattle the cages of both Democrats and Republicans," said David Shuster of NBC news...

Rutland Herald

* Dean launches White House bid - Despite coming from a small state and having a comparatively weak fund-raising base, Dean has emerged as one of the leading candidates in the field of nine Democrats vying for the nomination. He raised $2.6 million in the first fund-raising quarter and is expected to collect about $4 million in the second period, which ends next week.

* Home state reception is enthusiastic - While governor, Dean developed a reputation as a moderate Democrat who never shied away, indeed sometimes sought out, battles with the liberal wing of his party.

On the presidential campaign trail he has been tagged as a liberal for his fervent criticism of Bush on the Iraqi war. Admittedly, it's a bizarre metamorphosis for Dean, and some liberals in Vermont, who are still adjusting to the shift in perception.

"I agree a centrist in Vermont probably qualifies as a more liberal person elsewhere," Dean told reporters Monday at a news briefing before the speech.


And Elsewhere

* NY Times (requires free registration): After a Year Campaigning, Dean Officially Enters Race - Howard Dean offered a new reason for his presidential campaign today, declaring that a year of campaigning had convinced him "our nation is in crisis" because of a White House that he said was in the grip of big-money contributors and conservative ideologues.

* LA Times (requires free registration): Dean's in the Race Officially - After months of crusading as an antiwar candidate, Democrat Howard Dean sought to recast his presidential campaign Monday with a fiery speech in his hometown that struck anti-corporate and anti-Washington themes but made just glancing reference to Iraq.

* WaPo: Ex-Vermont Governor Comes Out Swinging - Dean's rhetoric was forceful, his delivery impassioned, of a piece with his attempt to define himself as the plain-speaking insurgent in a Democratic field dominated by Washington veterans. So far his strategy has not failed him. Polls show the 54-year-old, five-term governor running well in Iowa, and he won a recent straw poll in Wisconsin. In New Hampshire, a Concord Monitor poll this week finds him in second place, 9 points behind Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).

ntodd 
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Word for the Day


I was reading Salam Pax this weekend and when he was recounting a story about getting a ride from a cabbie with a hand grenade, he said: "it is Halal to kill those who are agents of the infidel occupier."

I remembered a piece on NPR ages ago that discussed issues with labeling and certification of halal meats (the comparison was to kosher food labels). It was a long time ago and I couldn't remember what "halal" literally meant, especially in Salam's context. According to The American Heritage Dictionary, my understanding of the word is listed as the first meaning: Of or being meat slaughtered in the prescribed way. I didn't think that's really what Salam meant in this case. However, the second definition is more generic, as I found both in the AHD and here: (that which is) allowed, permitted or permissible.

Poor Salam. Read his post--it is truly scary. It's disturbing that the situation is so bad that a) it's permissible to kill people who co-operate with the US and b) many people do in fact view us as infidel occupiers.

ntodd

PS--Last post for a while. Gotta do some real work. 
   |


Progressive popularity contest


Good article in today's Salon about the MoveOn Primary:

This week's virtual Democratic primary, sponsored by the progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org, may not carry the weight of a state contest, but it could have far more influence than just another online poll. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to cast ballots in the Internet election, and the victor could net millions in campaign cash, as well as a big boost in buzz.

MoveOn has billed the primary, which begins today and will be open for 48 hours, as an attempt to get liberals involved in the Democratic kingmaking process early in the presidential campaign. The group's leaders say they want their people to decide who they think is a viable candidate, before corporate donors and droning pundits decide for them. Some Democratic critics say that MoveOn is stacking the deck in favor of its favorite candidates. Yet even if MoveOn's detractors dispute the contest's legitimacy, they concede its importance. MoveOn has promised the winning candidate the organization's full support, a pledge that could involve millions of dollars and an army of volunteers. The group, which formed in 1998 to fight Clinton's impeachment, raised $4.1 million for congressional candidates in 2002. Since then, its membership has tripled to 1.4 million.

(Note: if you're not a subscriber, you can still use the Day Pass option to read the article in its entirety. Free!)

Any criticism of today's primary is just silly. Gosh, a progressive PAC is skewed toward ostensibly more progressive candidates? Whodathunkit? I guess the DLC is scared. Good.

I think the most important thing about MoveOn is that it has the potential to motivate the more progressive elements in this country. I don't always agree with liberal positions, but on the whole I think they've got the right attitude about this country's founding principles. So I'm glad to see a group who can pool that idealism, energy and, yes, money, to create social and political change. And it's not all that surprising to me that the Internet is the catalyst.

Keep hope alive,
ntodd



 
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Haloscan Operational


Unclear when they came back online, but it appears sometime after 9PM last night. Comment away!

ntodd 
   |

Monday, June 23, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Good Press for Dean


CNN gave Dean some surprisingly positive ink/airtime today:

The liberal tag defies his record in Vermont, where Dean was known as a centrist, pro-business governor for 12 years.

He battled Democrats to restrain spending and balance the state budget, even pushing for cuts in human services programs such as benefits for the aged, blind and disabled.

He nominated tough-on-crime judges, most of them former prosecutors. And he imposed work requirements on welfare recipients well before former President Bill Clinton did.

As governor, some of his strongest supporters were Republican leaders of the business community. Difficult to label, Dean once called himself "an odd kind of Democrat."

Indeed, I've seen a lot of folks talk about his "liberalism" being a "liability". I laugh because I've never really seen him as a liberal. On social issues, yes he is a good bit to the left, but he is a fiscal conservative and fairly pro-biz, which is why we have a pretty strong Progressive party in this state. Too many people felt Dean wasn't liberal enough!

Vermont is a pretty weird state politically. We seem to really dig split government. The highest Constitutional officers (Gov and Lt. Gov) are Republicans (during Dean's tenure they were Democrats), and the other offices are held by Democrats. There are 4 Progressives and 2 Independents in our House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republicans. Our Senate is run by the Dems. Our sole US Rep, Bernie Sanders, is an Independent, and in the 80s was mayor of Burlington (succeeded by the current mayor, who was endorsed by both the Progressives and Dems). Sen. Pat Leahy's a Dem, and I'm sure many of you have heard of Jim Jeffords (I, formerly an R).

Time for an anecdote about Burlington. In 1991 the Republicans took over from the Progressives. During the winter there was, as one might expect in this area, a lot of snow. Unfortunately with budgets cut, snowplowing was unusually bad. My favorite bumpersticker from that winter read "At least the hippies plowed the roads". The Republicans now have a single member on the City Council.

ntodd
 
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Viral Marketing


While I was checking out my feeble stats, I took a gander at the referrals section. Saw a weird one from a site called Technorati, which apparently tracks blogs and how people link to them (who knew?). So somebody found my site because my link to Whiskey Bar in the right nav got picked up. Cool.

What's cooler is what happened when I entered my own blog URL completely on a whim, prepared to see an animated face laughing mercilessly at me. But no, my account of the Dean rally was already linked to by another blogger, Bohemian Mama:

NTodd has a great replay of it from a Vermonter's view, which is really worth reading.

Thanks, er...Mama! This is better than getting good evals from students--if only I could get paid for this instead of writing about B2B...

ntodd 
   |


Speaking of Principal Skinner


I just checked the blog stats and there have been 28 visitors today, which is a new record! And the day's not over yet. Watch out Atrios--you might have a daily visitor count that's three orders of magnitude greater than mine, but I'm hot on your heels. Thanks for stopping by, everybody. The comment server sure picked a good time to crash, eh? This could've been my tipping point. Alas.

Here's a message from Haloscan:

Server work

Earlier today, our host started running into problems so we decided to freeze the site temporarily while we work out the problems with the server. The Javascript loader will continue to load to a basic degree so as not to slow down your pages. Thanks for your patience as we work through this matter.

-Haloscan.com - 6/23/03

Well, I'm glad they are trying to fix things. It's been very cranky of late. But hurry up!

ntodd 
   |


I Have the Power!


But apparently Haloscan does not. Well, what should I expect from a free service?

Anyway, got back from my ride a little while ago. Note to self: next time try to not wait until it's 87 degrees to go biking. The highlights:

* Low Moment #1: about 1 mile into it a hay truck passed me, spewing stray hay all over the place. This stuff was floating in the air for another half mile or so. Gag.

* High Moment #1: fastest time to 10 miles, on pace for just under 19 mph. Feelin' good!

* High Moment #2: I hate riding slowly up hills. Right around 43 minutes, I saw a dude ahead of me on what I call "Fairfax Hill" (because it leads to the town of Fairfax), and decided to kick by him. I really cranked and was quite pleased with myself, although this episode led to Low Moment #2...

* Low Moment #2: hit the proverbial wall at about the 45 minute mark on what I call "Grinch Hill" (it's right by a house that loves putting out a frooglepoopillion X-mas lights, and the hill itself is a mercifully short, but absolutely brutal incline around a curve). Had to downshift, which is anathema to me.

* In the "life's little victories" category: I did not break the hour mark on this loop, but I did bump my average up to 18.1 mph (from 18 even).

* 2 things stuck in my head the entire ride:
- "You have the power!"
- Principal Skinner saying "I made a game of it. Seeing how many times I could bounce the ball in a day, then trying to break that record."

Carry on,
ntodd 
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I Care


Geesh, Haloscan is still down. Grrr. Things have been shaky for several days--maybe I need to choose a new platform.

I'd really like to hear people's thoughts on Dean and all the other stuff I've blogged. Please read my posts and visit again soon to comment. Oy how pathetic. Sounds like "I'll be your best friend" in grade school...

ntodd 
   |


You Have The Power!


What a crowd at the Dean rally. 5000 people crammed onto Church Street, our pedestrian mall. Looks like it was at the intersection of Church and Bank (I recognized the jewelry store where I got my wife her engagement ring). Maybe my friends who were at the announcement can share their thoughts, but in the meantime, here's what I saw through CSPAN's lens...

Battle of the Signs
Probably the image that will stick with me the most was a big sign on a long pole held up in the background by either a Nader supporter or a GOP agitator.

One side read:

NADER
7% IN
VERMONT

And the other:

VOTE FOR
GREEN
PARTY

It was a huge sign, optic yellow, with big, black, block lettering. I was really hoping someone would get word to Howie that this was going on. Would've been cool if he'd turned around and engaged the fellow: "Welcome back to the party!" and/or "Are you going to help Bush win again in 2004?"

Instead, resourceful souls eventually got going. A couple folks moved a ladder around and stood on it with Dean signs, though that wasn't very effective. Near as we could tell, somebody must've gotten some gardening bamboo from Pier 1 down the street, attached a lot of Dean signs, and shoved those in front of the Nader sign. Some sticks had 3 signs, some 4, and one had 3 across and 3 down. The guy didn't leave and kept moving around, which was distracting. However, by then his sign was pretty much covered up. TKO.

A thought just occurred: clearly the Nader dude showed a bit of foresight, creating a sign readable from a distance, sticking it on a long pole so it could be seen over the stage, etc. Hopefully Nader voters are foresighted enough to give up on Green in 2004.

The Performance
The speech was pretty good, IMNSHO. A few stumbles, and while he clearly had the thing memorized, he did consult his notes quite a bit. A lot of content from his standard stump speech, and he made a reference to today's Supreme Court decision on affirmative action. Dean was appropriately passionate. I think that's one of the things I like the best about him. Very engaging. Still needs to work on the applause lines a little, but that's just another minor cosmetic thing.

Was That Howie or Jesse?
I really liked his closing, despite its being reminiscent of Jesse Jackson's "Keep hope alive!" x 3 pattern. "You have the power to..." is I think a very, uh...powerful message. I can't solve America's problems--you can. I like the idea of being empowered myself. I don't need a "father knows best" president.

One populist-like thing I would like to see him change is the "Take Back America" line. Sounds too much like the "Take Back Vermont" crap we heard around here from the homophobes who hated the civil-unions law he signed. Rather, let's "Take America Forward", as some Vermont bumperstickers have suggested for our state.

Please, No More Dancing
When he was finished, Aretha Franklin was revved up on the sound system. Lots of hugging, handshaking, and arm raising. One thing I don't want to see in the future is Howard Dean dancing on stage. That goes double for Jim Jeffords, who was doing leg kicks! If the country sees more of this, I think the campaign is doomed.

It's Hot Here
On the whole, I still wish I'd been there, but given that I actually don't like crowds, and it's 358 degrees Kelvin, I'm probably happier at home. Still frustrated and disappointed, so in a little bit I'm going to take it out on my bike. Just my 19.3 mile "maintenance loop", with hopes of completing in an hour for a season high average speed. It'll be the hottest day I've ridden this year, so that might be a bit aggressive given my week+ layoff. We'll see.

Keep hope alive,
ntodd

PS--If you missed it, you can see the rally on-demand after 6PM today. 
   |


Meet Howard Dean - On Howard Dean's Terms


The rally is happening right now, so I'm in Dean Mode until about 1330. ABC's The Note has a few things to say:

Yesterday, Howard Dean failed miserably in the eyes of all but 10 members of the Gang of 500 by performing - by Gang standards - absolutely unfabulous in a key Beltway ritual.

Today, Howard Dean's announcement speech will be seen live by more supporters than any announcement in the history of presidential politics (we are pretty sure … ).

Those two contrasts perfectly encapsulate the riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a question that is the essence of deanforamerica.com.

It's a kinda snotty piece, but it makes some good points and has links to some other items. Indeed, Howie has his work cut out for him, and I'm confident he can overcome some of his trouble spots.

ntodd
 
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Comments Are AWOL


The Haloscan server that hosts my comments is apparently down. 404 on Atrios' and others' blogs as well, so it is not just me. Hopefully be up sometime before my next visitor arrives--that means there's plenty of time...

ntodd 
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June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 April 2007

FAIR AND BALANCED

Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards

A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.

For more about me, go to www.pritsky.net. You can also e-mail me at blog@pritsky.net.

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