Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why Wake the President?

George Lardner Jr. has an interesting piece in the Post.
"How many probing questions is a groggy president supposed to ask at 3 a.m.? How much confidence should he or she have in the answers?"

After all, if it's the end of the world, there's nothing the president can do about it. If it isn't, it can almost always wait till breakfast. We got through World War I that way. And we won that one, didn't we?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rice Crisis

It is not just wheat. I was intrigued to read that the industrialization of Asia, and the accompanying neglect of agriculture, has played a large part in a crisis that may roll back much of the progress that industry has helped to bring. It is disquieting that the rapid industrialization in that region of the world has had unforeseen negative consequences there as well as the toll it has taken on American manufacturing and worldwide petroleum consumption.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barack Obama Speaks on Race

via Politico

Watch the video.

UPDATE: Obama Soars Above Mud Pit

Brit Hume gives a good conrete example of the bias of FNC "newsmen" and Courtland Milloy shows us why, on a day like today, that does not even matter. At times like this I ask my self, "How is Barack Obama not already the President?" Then I remember, hopefully, I shall not have to ask that question much longer.

Monday, March 17, 2008

GOP Loves Hillary

I experienced this firsthand in Ohio, because Republicans had no qualms about confessing their intentions. This should be the nail in the coffin for anybody who cannot decide. Why would you support a candidate who is so sure to lose in November, that the opposition will give their time and energy to vote just to make sure she gets on the ballot?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

John Adams Miniseries

Here are some assorted reviews of the series that premiered this past evening. I was pleasantly satisfied. The historical errors are forgivable in my view, however, they do seem silly given the prominence of this line:

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence

Sun Times: No History Lesson

Mercury News: Adams Emerges

Boston Herald: Giamatti is Revolutionary

Free Press: All-Star Cast of 'Adams'

Washington Post: Bold Miniseries

NY Times: Not So Much

The State of the Army

This US Army Captain is leaving the service because it is not taking care of its members. Even if we could afford the costs of war or could observe progress moving at lively pace, which some on the right will argue, we certainly cannot maintain a reasonable level of preparedness with the dysfunction described in this piece. If the young officers keep leaving a the time when our military is most in need of qualified leaders, we will fail more and more in our objectives.

One thing that left me unsatisfied with this bit from the Outlook section was the omission by the writer, or perhaps an editor, of any further stories from the conflict. Granted, the piece was not so much about the situation on the ground in Iraq as it was with his frustrations with the Army as an institution. However, it would have been nice to read more about what informed his opinions about the value of remaining in the rotation in this war.

Friday, March 14, 2008

McCain & The Keating Five

This title might be misleading, because McCain was himself one of the Keating Five, not a charismatic lead singer with five backup singers from the Keating family.

This is an old scandal, but one that still has relevance. In this day and age a lot of wealthy businessmen are looking for a break as they try to salvage their failed or failing ventures, and we cannot afford a chief executive who has a proven record of making bad choices when it comes to letting business regulators do their jobs unencumbered by elected friends of irresponsible capitalists.

Also, the McCain presented in this story about his relationship with John Keating and the meetings organized on his behalf, presents not the stalwart warrior the GOP wants America to trust with their lives and liberty, but instead a naïve (and then much younger) lawmaker who was either too weak to stand up to his friends or too self-righteous to properly recognize the wrong in his actions. Even now, McCain apologizes for the appearance of impropriety, but not for the wrongdoing that earned him a rebuke from the Senate Ethics Select Committee.

"McCain was the weirdest," Black said. "They were all different in their own way. McCain was always Hamlet . . . wringing his hands about what to do."

New Republic Series - Democratic Primary

HRC: Fratricidal Maniac, But Not Monster

The Electability of Obama

Thursday, March 13, 2008

FT: Carville Calling For Calm

James Carville might be my favorite figure from the Clinton era. In his assertion that there is a preposterous desire to sanitize presidential politics, he is correct. While many of the things that have been said about Senator Obama have been irresponsible and stupid, especially for Democrats to be saying, none have risen to a level of offense that used to be considered the limit of decency. Likewise, Samantha Power, who expressed a sentiment with which many agree, should not a) have been quoted and b)have felt compelled to resign. Certainly there is a line that ought not be crossed, but in my view, and certainly in that of Carville, nothing in this race has broken it clearly.

However, as I said, Geraldine Ferraro and some other prominent Clintonistas have made some comments that were supremely stupid for Democrats to make. If their side is willing to allow some particularly irresponsible and dangerous innuendos to be integral parts of the race, they deserve to have their preferred candidate win the presidency, seemingly John McCain.

NY Times: Do As He Said

Bill Kristof on prostitution, with only a cursory referrence to the now former Governor of New York. I do not know how long he has again been available without a fee, but I am quite glad for that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Why does Georgetown, the regular season champion and top seed, have Villanova or Syracuse in the quarterfinals, two solid bubble teams, while Louisville, the second place team has the indisputably easier game, potentially facing Cincinnati? Who does these seedings? This will be one of the first times I have ever rooted for Pittsburgh, and believe me it will be strange indeed, and even if Pitt wins I have to look forward to the agony of maybe playing them in the finals.

Whoever says the Big East is not he best overall conference in the nation has no idea what they are talking about. Forget for a second the number of teams who have a legit chance to dance, reasonably eight, and you still must remember that in the last 10 years only the ACC and SEC have matched the number of national championship teams from the Big East.

WSJ: Infighting Worries Democrats

This sucks. Howard Dean has done a lot for making Democrats truly think about competing nationally, but if he really wants raise his stock, he needs to sort out this Charlie Foxtrot before it really sinks the ship.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

What The World Hears

Normally I post Fareed Zakaria without too much qualification, such is the credibility I think he has. Ordinarily there is not a significant point he makes which I question more than a few minutes. But this week his criticism of free trade talk in the Democratic primary has given me a more serious pause. In general, I agree that even Obama needs to temper the protectionist vein in his remarks, because after all he is a free trader. The message to the world, even beyond the sensitivities of Canadians, is worth careful examination.

The one place where I seriously cannot agree with Mr. Zakaria, and perhaps this will merit a lot more reading on the subject, is his point about the unfair scapegoating of global labor markets for the decline of American manufacturing.

There are no serious economists or experts who believe that low wages in Mexico or China or India is the fundamental reason that American factories close down. And labor and environmental standards would do very little to change the reality of huge wage differentials between poor and rich countries' workers.

Well if this is the case, what is causing them to close? American and the rest of the world are still buying steel, tires, vacuum cleaners, and the like, so I cannot be convinced the lack of demand has doomed those industries. If not the fact that others make them cheaper, by paying workers less, then why?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Yes We Canton

Well the news tonight is not very good if you are in my shoes. The bad news: the race will go on. I am officially rebuking CNN for flashing meaningless pie charts of the Texas results, which showed no meaningful changes, several times during the remarks of Senator Obama. The good news: Senator Obama may have found the motivation to put some fight into this fight.

An aside, Senator Obama made a brilliant point tonight about the misplaced scorn of Senators McCain and Clinton, adeptly linking them, for the sentiments that are already uniting Americans on the right and left. A real love of America does not rest on the accusation that others fail to love the nation enough.

Also Robert Reich thinks there is only a 20 percent chance that Americans are headed into a Depression, so it probably will not happen.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Random Thoughts From the Campaign Trail

I am in Canton, OH. My hosts are a tremendous family, perfect representatives of why the message of Senator Obama resonates with Middle America. Enthusiasm abounds among the staffers and volunteers, people for whom I have developed a great affection in the past week. Here there are young and old, locals and those of us from VA, PA, NC, CO, NY and other places across the country. The hard work we are trying to put out every day is only the beginning in a long hard process to bring the change we want; and increasingly people are coming to believe again that change can be had.

A few tokens --

I enjoy learning ever more about the complexities of the Texas primacaucus. Obviously, I will not think it so charming if we lose.

Everybody recognizes that Ohio is going to be close. I think, because it is an open primary, it will actually turn on the number of Republicans and independents who turn out to support Senator Obama. From my experiences canvassing, I think that number could be significant.

CNN: Obama Groundgame Factor in Ohio
More fun than it might appear. The food is great.

Pittsburgh T-R: Ohio Crucial for Clinton
I would contend that nobody is calling the election already.

Canton Repository
The leading local paper here in Stark County, which has endorsed Barack, like most every other paper in Ohio.
Why They Back Obama-Why They Back Hillary