Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Another Example of the Dubious Link between Technology and Productivity

Via Blankbaby, here's another example of why technological advancement doesn't always lead to increased productivity. Cats in Sinks compiles photos of, well, cats in sinks.

Katrina, Oil and New Orleans

The NYT reports that the Bush administration has decided to release supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve:
The move, which was expected later in the day, is designed to give refineries a temporary supply of crude oil to take the place of interrupted shipments from tankers or offshore oil platforms affected by the storm.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service said Tuesday that 95 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's oil output was out of service. Oil prices surged back abov
e $70 in European markets on Wednesday but slipped quickly to $69.56 after disclosure of the decision involving the release of supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Eight refineries were shut down due to Katrina -- half of them producing gasoline.
Gasoline futures jumped 20% yesterday:
For consumers across the nation this means that retail gasoline prices are likely to jump above $3 a gallon - matching inflation-adjusted records reached in the early 1980's - just as millions of drivers hit the roads on the Labor Day weekend.
As for New Orleans itself:
With whitecaps on Canal Street, water coursing through breeched levees and 80 percent of the city under water, surviving, not rebuilding, is now the order of the day. But in the back of their minds people who love New Orleans are wondering what will remain physically and psychologically of perhaps America's most distinctive city when the water recedes and - days, weeks or months from now - some semblance of everyday life struggles to resume.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina and Oil Prices: Fasten Your Seat Belts

Here it comes. Oil prices are spiking due to Katrina:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil struck a high near $71 on Tuesday as oil companies raced to check their abandoned oil platforms and refineries for damage after Hurricane Katrina's rampage through the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. crude hit a record $70.85 a barrel before settling at $69.81, up $2.61 a barrel, amid reports of drifting oil rigs and flooded refineries.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Philly Folk Fest (continued)

The Philadelphia Folk Fest went on despite the rain.
John Francis, who looks a little like Dave Matthews and sounds a lot like Jeff Buckley, opened his Sunday afternoon set with his song, "Philadelphia."
French Toast played the dance tent Sunday evening.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sunday Folk Fest Blogging

The rain is coming down but the music continues. Coming up later today in the dance tent is Delaware's own French Toast:
And on the main stage, also from Delaware, Angel Band with David Bromberg playing backup (how cool is that?):

Friday, August 26, 2005

Change and Controversy at Del State

Alan Sessoms, who came to Del State as president two years ago, is a man in a hurry who seems unconcerned that not all share his plans for changing the historically black institution. Yesterday Dr. Sessoms responded to his critics, as reported in the News Journal:
WILMINGTON -- Laying out his vision for Delaware State University after months of criticism and the alumni association's recent call for his resignation, President Allen Sessoms said there will "always be anxiety over change."
But "change we must, and change we will," he told about 100 attendees of a Thursday presentation before the Wilmington Rotary Club at the Hotel du Pont.
Delaware State University was founded in 1891 as The State College for Colored Students. The William C. Jason Library, built under the previous president, William DeLauder, is emblematic of the school's ambitions. Dr. Sessoms' plans to raise standards, attract more research funding and increase enrollment have alarmed alumni and other black leaders who are concerned that Del State will lose its identity as a black university:
"We strive to be a premier" historically black university, he said. "We also strive to become a premier university, period. We want this to be the best place in the nation for everyone to come, black and white."
Sessoms also said he wants Delaware State to become the school of choice for the large percentage of in-state students who don't get admitted into the increasingly competitive University of Delaware.
"The rest of those kids have to go somewhere," Sessoms said in his speech. "We want to be the place where they go. ... If UD wants to be Princeton, more power to them."

Dr. Sessoms took time to meet with some influental black clergy yersterday:

The Rev. William Wilmore, president of the United Baptist Convention of Delaware, was among a group of black clergy who did get to meet with Sessoms before the luncheon.
"I'm not mad at him for raising the bar, but I don't want it to be at the expense of destroying the legacy," Wilmore said. "We did agree that there needs to be a much longer and open meeting. The Board of Trustees needs to reach out to folks."

Wes Clark: What Should Be Done on Iraq

As public support for Bush's war continues to erode, the question of "Now what?" becomes more important. Should we pull our troops out ASAP or are we stuck? Wes Clark offers his analysis today in the Washington Post. He points out three specific failings of our current strategy that must be corrected if we are to avoid failure in Iraq:
From the outset of the U.S. post-invasion efforts, we needed a three-pronged strategy: diplomatic, political and military. Iraq sits geographically on the fault line between Shiite and Sunni Islam; for the mission to succeed we will have to be the catalyst for regional cooperation, not regional conflict.
Unfortunately, the administration didn't see the need for a diplomatic track, and its scattershot diplomacy in the region -- threats, grandiose pronouncements and truncated communications -- has been ill-advised and counterproductive. The U.S. diplomatic failure has magnified the difficulties facing the political and military elements of strategy by contributing to the increasing infiltration of jihadists and the surprising resiliency of the insurgency.
With each passing month the difficulties are compounded and the chances for a successful outcome are reduced. Urgent modification of the strategy is required before it is too late to do anything other than simply withdraw our forces.
Armando over at Kos offers a good paragraph by paragraph critique of Gen. Clark's oped:
Ahhh. So the onus is on Bush. If he does not do what Clark (and other Dems hopefully) say, then Bush will lose Iraq and be forced to cut and run. Excellent. This, in my opinion, should have been the lead paragraph. In fact, he should have junked the lead paragraph. The column should have been that Bush has placed us on the brink in Iraq leaving us this close from having no options but to withdraw.
Clark's concluding paragraph:
The growing chorus of voices demanding a pullout should seriously alarm the Bush administration, because President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam: failing to craft a realistic and effective policy and instead simply demanding that the American people show resolve. Resolve isn't enough to mend a flawed approach -- or to save the lives of our troops. If the administration won't adopt a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that it bring our troops home.
Armando thinks Clark should have opened with his conclusion:
There you go General. Bush is losing Iraq and will lose Iraq and have to "cut and run" unless he adopts our winning proposals (which he of course will never do).
Ok. I am sold. Lose the first paragraph, and we can adopt this as our Democratic manifesto on Iraq now. That would be good politics and can lead to good policy after we win the 2006 elections.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

1,444 Days after 9/11: Where is bin Laden?

The Nuremberg Trials began 1,444 days after the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor.
It has been 1,444 days since 9/11. Where is Osama bin Laden?
(Photo: Nuremberg Trials Project of the Harvard Law School Library)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Northeast States Step in where EPA Won't

Nine states have worked out a preliminary agreement to cap and reduce power plant emissions of CO2 by 10% over the next 15 years. The NYT reports that Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont have agreed to a set up a system of tradable emission allowances to offset the expected higher energy costs associated with pollution controls. The White House did its best to put a positive spin on its own inaction:
In a statement, James L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, tried to put the states' initiative in a positive light. "We welcome all efforts to help meet the president's goal for significantly reducing greenhouse gas intensity by investing in new, more efficient technologies," he said.
Left unsaid in that statement is the fact that Bush has stubbornly refused to consider actually requiring utilities to reduce emissions.
Trading emission allowances is a rational strategy for reducing CO2, which affects large regions. The same cannot be said for trading mercury emission allowances, as proposed by the Bush administration. CO2 is a gas. Mercury is a heavy metal that lingers for years. If a power plant in New Jersey reduces greenhouse gas emissions, there is a benefit for Delaware. But mercury emissions in Delaware harm those who live or work close to the plant, and that harm cannot be offset by reduced mercury emissions elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Overdue Praise for UD's College Democrats

Smart Blue Hens, the blog of the college Democrats at the University of Delaware, has continually impressed me as being well-considered as it is impassioned. If only more "grown-up" blogs showed the sophistication of this exceptional group of college students as demonstrated in this posting by Mike McKain:

Make no mistake about it, no one wants us to fail in Iraq, and I personally still do not believe the time has come to cut our losses and abandon all hope. But if there is any true lesson of Vietnam, it is that we can not win a war without the support of a majority of Americans. So what should be done?
President Bush needs to come down from his cloud and face reality. He needs to be honest with the American people. He needs to make a call for sacrifice, a sacrifice shared by all Americans, not just military families like the Sheehans, and the tens of thousands of others with killed or wounded soldiers, the hundreds of thousands with military personnel overseas. And, perhaps most of all, he needs to say something new. “Stay the course” just won’t do.

Monday, August 22, 2005

In Memory of Robert Moog

True propellerheads will always have a special place in their hearts for the original modular Moogs the way an old space flight fanatic might yearn for the sight of the Apollo spacecraft. I will never forget how I learned about the fundamentals of musical sounds while working with a Moog 55 in college. The modular design meant that I was able to understand exactly what was happening to each note at each stage of the synthesis process.
The NYT obit does a good job of describing the Moog's basic modules:
The first Moog synthesizers were collections of modules, connected by electronic patch cords, something like those that connect stereo components. The first module, an oscillator, would produce a sound wave, giving a musician a choice of several kinds, ranging from the gracefully undulating purity of a sine wave to the more complex, angular or abrasive sounds of square and sawtooth waves. The wave was sent to the next module, called an A.D.S.R. (attack-decay-sustain-release) envelope generator, with which the player defined the way a note begins and ends, and how long it is held. A note might, for example, explode in a sudden burst, like a trumpet blast, or it could fade in at any number of speeds. From there, the sound went to a third module, a filter, which was used to shape its color and texture.
Analog synths have long since been overtaken by digital machines. But Moog Music still sells versions of the Minimoog, and software versions that emulate its classic sound are available for digital recording systems like Pro Tools. If you Google "analog synth" you will find a wealth of information about what I think of as the original instrument movement of electronic music.

Bush to Rally Support for a Long Hard Slog

No student of history, he:
Senior aides say Bush will attempt to portray the Iraq conflict in the context of long wars like World War II, which U.S. forces fought from 1941 to 1945.
It has been 1,441 days since September 11, 2001. WWII lasted 1,365 days, from the attack on Pearl Harbor to Japan's signing of the instrument of surrender on board the USS Missouri:

Sunday, August 21, 2005

When Smear Tactics Fail

Once again, Frank Rich is precisely on target:
Once Ms. Sheehan could no longer be ignored, the Swift Boating began. Character assassination is the Karl Rove tactic of choice, eagerly mimicked by his media surrogates, whenever the White House is confronted by a critic who challenges it on matters of war. The Swift Boating is especially vicious if the critic has more battle scars than a president who connived to serve stateside and a vice president who had "other priorities" during Vietnam.
The most prominent smear victims have been Bush political opponents with heroic Vietnam résumés: John McCain, Max Cleland, John Kerry. But the list of past targets stretches from the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke to Specialist Thomas Wilson, the grunt who publicly challenged Donald Rumsfeld about inadequately armored vehicles last December. The assault on the whistle-blower Joseph Wilson - the diplomat described by the first President Bush as "courageous" and "a true American hero" for confronting Saddam to save American hostages in 1991 - was so toxic it may yet send its perpetrators to jail.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Eric Massa, Democrat for Congress in NY-29

Last week I met Eric Massa, who is running for Congress in NY-29. He is up against Randy Kuhl, a first-term conservative who won in 2004 with just 51%. Eric, pictured here with his former boss Wes Clark, is a Naval Academy grad and a disenchanted former Republican. Unlike his opponent, he believes in strengthening, not gutting, Social Security:
"I do not believe the purpose of being sent to Congress is to shake the president's hand or ride on Air Force One," Massa said, referring to recent events Kuhl has participated in with President George W. Bush. Kuhl flew with the president on May 24 when he visited Rochester to stump for Social Security reform.
Check out his powerful statement over at Daily Kos:

During my time [as a Staff Member in the House Armed Services Committee], I expressed grave concerns to the Republican leadership and wrote several dissenting documents about the plans to invade Iraq. When I saw what was happening to our returning veterans, I again documented my concerns to the Republicans. When my former Commanding Officer and friend, Wes Clark, joined the Presidential race, I refused to let partisan politics stand in the way of my loyalty to him. I left my position on the House Armed Services Committee and have not looked back. While I was not on the House floor when the vote to invade Iraq took place, I voted with my feet by joining the Wesley Clark for President Campaign in New Hampshire.
Since the election, I have only become more concerned about the future of this country, as I have watched right-wing extremists hijack the Republican Party and pump out legislation that seems designed to destroy the middle class and make life harder for working families. I believe I have a responsibility to pass on to my children Justin and Alexandra a nation as solid and secure as the country I inherited from my parents.
That is why I am a Democrat.
This is a winnable district. Check out Eric's website and see why he people are believing that he will help the Democratic Party win back control of Congress.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fox News Tells it Like it Is

You can't make this up. Media Matters for America posted this screen capture from Fox News:

Support for Cindy Sheehan Across the Country

The NYT reports on the outpouring of support for Cindy Sheehan:
CRAWFORD, Tex., Aug. 17 - Supporters of Cindy Sheehan held more than 1,500 candlelight vigils across the country on Wednesday night in solidarity with this mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, who has set up a protest encampment down the road from President Bush's ranch here.
My friend Bill Detwiler, who sent me this photo, reports that there were about 150 at the Downingtown vigil in Chester County:
[There were] hundreds of cars honking horns and shouting support as they passed. One heckler stopped with a car load of young guys saying, "What about 9/11?" I took the moment and shouted back "“If you feel so strongly why are you here and not in Baghdad?" They said nothing and took off.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

What Rhymes with Bolton?

Via TWN, here's a ditty Calvin Trillin penned about Bolton in his Deadline Poet space in The Nation:
On President Bush's Recess Appointment of John Bolton as Ambassador to the United Nations
Calvin Trillin

The job's too vital, Bush has said,
To leave unfilled, and so instead
He'll simply stiff the Senate now,
And name John Bolton anyhow.
The problems of the world have grown,
And so we need some tantrums thrown.
Some analysts who haven't skewed
Intelligence remain unscrewed.
But that will change with Bolton there:
The man knows how to overbear.
We need someone to show contempt
For resolutions we'd pre-empt
And show contempt as well for those
Who might oppose what we propose--
Reflecting through contemptuous power
The last remaining superpower.
Those tiny nations need a pasting.
So let's get started. Time's a-wasting.

Japanese Rent-a-Cow System

Stories about the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII and the upcoming parliamentary election cover the front page of the English edition of the Asahi Shimbun. Reform of Japan's postal system is the top issue in the election. The ruling LDP is fielding candidates to challenge party "rebels" who voted against Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's postal reform bills.
The post office/savings banks are said to be popular in Japan's rural communities, which are experiencing demographic shifts as younger people leave for urban areas. Inside the paper is a story that reflects the decline of traditional farming culture:
Rent-a-cow system keeps everyone content
Four black wagyu Japanese cows graze contentedly on common weeds--kudzu, pigweed and overgrown goldenrod--effectively acting as "live weed eaters" in the fallow rice fields of Yanai city, on the Inland Sea coast of Yamaguchi Prefecture.
The cows are part of the city's "rent-a-cow" system for local farmers. Many of the farmers are elderly and ready to retire but do not want their fields to become overgrown with weeds and infested with pests. They fear those pests could ruin their neighbors' crops.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

John Visits Judy in Jail

You can't make this up: The Huffington Post reports that John Bolton paid a visit to jailed NYT reporter Judy Miller:
According to a trusted Judy File source, Bolton recently took time out of his busy schedule to pay a jailhouse visit to Judy.
No word on what they talked about.
Of course not.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

WWII and TWOT: 60 Years after VJ Day

On August 14, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's surrender, 1,346 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S. produced 270,000 airplanes in the years 1942 to 1945. (Photo: Air Force Historical Research Agency)
It has been 1,433 days since September 11, 2001, and we still have not yet furnished our troops with effective body armor:
The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system.

Frank Rich Tells the President the War is Over

Frank Rich's stinging column crystalizes the moment in our long national train wreck that is the Iraq war. He describes a war spiraling out of control, a country running out of patience and a president stubbornly out of touch:
Only someone as adrift from reality as Mr. Bush would need to be told that a vacationing president can't win a standoff with a grief-stricken parent commandeering TV cameras and the blogosphere 24/7.
According to Rich, our Iraq misadventure is in its last throes:
The country has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We're outta there. Now comes the hard task of identifying the leaders who can pick up the pieces of the fiasco that has made us more vulnerable, not less, to the terrorists who struck us four years ago next month.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Talking with Wes Clark

I had a chance to talk with Wes Clark on Thursday at a fundraiser for WesPAC. We discussed the comparative timeline between WWII and TWOT. He said that if Bush had been in charge during WWII, we would have invaded Brazil.
General Clark is not optimistic about Iraq, saying that one of the better possible outcomes would be for Iraq to become a buffer state for Iran. He told the gathering that the Democratic Party can take back congress next year -- if we contest the congressional elections in all fifty states and demonstrate our respect for red state culture.
I agree. Jon Tester, who's a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Montana, is an organic farmer, but I don't think granola ranks high on his campaign agenda. We're not trying to convert folks to Ben & Jerry's. We're trying to win elections in order to wrest power from the wingnuts and set our country back on the right path.
Respecting red state culture and toning down our message are two very different things. Paul Hackett didn't soften his criticism of Bush, and he won 48% of the vote in Ohio's most conservative congressional district. Voters responded positively to his outspoken campaigning.
What does this mean? Respect the values of our fellow citizens. Speak clearly and forthrightly about how we disagree instead of trying to "split the difference" between us and the GOP. (After all, where's the middle ground on Social Security or stem cell research?) That's how we win without compromising our principles.
I met Eric Massa, a former aide to General Clark, who is running for Congress in NY-29. You can read more about him over at DailyKos, read his blog or check back here tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday Night Museum Blogging

I got back this evening from D.C., where I caught this dance performance at the new National Museum of the American Indian.

Tomorrow I will post on the WesPAC fund raising event I attended and relate some of the conversation I had with Wes Clark.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

After 3 Years and 11 Months, TWOT Has Lasted Longer than WWII

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese navy attacked the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. The next day, Congress declared war against Japan.
The Allies landed in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944 -- 912 days later. On April 12, 1945 -- 1,222 days later –- the Allies liberated the Buchenwald and Belsen concentration camps. That same day, President Roosevelt died and Truman became President. April 30, 1945 -- 1,240 days later -- Hitler commited suicide in his bunker.
1,247 days later, Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.
On August 14, 1945 -- 1,346 days after Pearl Harbor -- Japan agreed to surrender. Japan signed the surrender agreement on Sept 2, 1945 -- 1,365 days after the U.S. was attacked.
The United Nations was officially born on Oct 24, 1945 -- 1,417 days after the U.S. was drawn into war. On November 20, 1945 -- 1,444 days after Pearl Harbor -- the Nuremberg trials began. The U.S., which ended WWII as the strongest nation in the world, led the creation of the alliances that shaped the world for 60 years.
The War on Terror
On September 11, 2001, Osama Bin Laden directed the attacks that struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The U.S. begins bombing in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 -- 26 days after 9/11.
On October 11, 2002 -- 395 days after 9/11 -- Congress authorized an attack on Iraq.
The Iraq War began on March 20, 2003 -- 555 days later. On May 1, 2003 -- 597 days after the U.S. was attacked -- President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq.
On March 11, 2004 -- 912 days after 9/11 -- Al-Qaeda struck Madrid with a coordinated series of train bombings. London was struck with a similar series of rail bombings on July 6, 2005 -- 1,394 days after Al Qaeda attacked the U.S.
Today is August 11, 2005. 1,430 days have passed since the U.S. was attacked. Bin Laden is at large, there is no end in sight in Iraq and the U.S. more isolated than it has been in many decades.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ronald Reagan Boulevard?

Representative Henry Bonilla (R-TX) wants to rename 16th Street in D.C. "Ronald Reagan Boulevard." But the GOP isn't exactly lining up behind Bonilla:

But Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., the chairman of the House committee that oversees District affairs, promised Thursday to kill the measure.
"I think the proposal is ridiculous," Davis told WTOP radio. "We'll put it in the appropriate file."
Davis was unequivocal in his opposition to the Bonilla proposal, saying he would also object to the measure being attached to another bill.
"We've named the Ronald Reagan airport, we have the Ronald Reagan building downtown, but I think if Mr. Bonilla wants to name anything else, he ought to look to his own district in San Antonio," Davis said.
Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams agreed with Davis.
In a statement Thursday, Williams said Bonilla should instead find "suitable sites" in Texas if he feels that more streets should be named after the late president.

Other cities can name streets after presidents. Wilmington has Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison and Lincoln Streets and Grant Avenue. But as far as I can tell, D.C. has maintained its traditional street names. Even the Washington Times has published a piece against the proposal:
Bet you didn't know that Texas' 23rd Congressional District measures 52,620.74 square miles -- or 20 percent of the Lone Star State's total square miles.
Or that this sprawling district, the largest in Texas, comprises 25 counties and is bigger than 24 U.S. states, including Virginia.
Within that vast and varied acreage, I bet you can't figure out why U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla is unable to find enough space to rename every road "Ronald Reagan Boulevard" if he so chooses to "memorialize" his presidential hero.
Instead, Mr. Bonilla, a Republican who represents the 23rd District, has chosen to ride roughshod over D.C. leaders and residents to rename their main local thoroughfare -- 16th Street NW -- the Ronald Reagan Boulevard.
Now D.C.'s local government has about enough authority to tie their shoes and answer the phone as far as congress is concerned. So help preserve tradition in our nation's capitol by voting against the proposal at this online poll.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Not So Fast, Mr. Koizumi

A month ago, the lower house of the Japanese Parliament narrowly passed a measure to break up and partially privatize the country's postal service which is also Japan's largest savings institution with nearly $3 trillion in deposits. At the time I tried to describe why this is such a big deal. It turns out that the measure was defeated in the upper house, which is similar to the British House of Lords. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has dissolved Parliament and called new elections in an effort to revive his economic reforms:
Proponents of the reform said it was needed to put the postal saving system's massive deposits into the hand of private investors and provide a strong jump-start to the economy, which is only now emerging from a decade-long slowdown.
Privatizing Japan Post, which has $2.9 trillion in savings and insurance deposits, would create the world's largest bank.
Those funds have financed the massive public works projects central to the LDP's pork-barrel system, while the network of unionized postal workers has long proved a bastion of support for the party.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Democratic Leaders: Get to the Point

Over at MyDD, Scott Shields offers this contrast between a speech in Iowa by Evan Bayh with a letter to the editor of the WSJ by Wes Clark:
I'll admit that Bayh's got a point when he says that our party has an image problem. But the image problem is just that -- an image problem. A recent letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal from Wesley Clark went after this same perception.
Here's Clark's letter to the WSJ:

'Resolve' on Iraq Is Fine, but We Also Need a Plan

Letter to the Editor
Wall Street Journal

In your June 30 editorial "Wanted: A Constructive Opposition," following the president's speech on Iraq, you chided me and a number of other Democrats for simply critiquing the president's plan rather than offering our own. Your criticisms are both incorrect and misplaced.

I and others have offered our plans again and again. We called for a diplomatic strategy in the region -- rather than relying wholly on threats and warning -- more and better equipped U.S. forces focused on training the Iraqis, and a more intensive effort to promote political and economic development in Iraq. I first articulated my plans in my 2003 book, "Winning Modern Wars," and continued to propose a better approach throughout the presidential campaign.

But no matter: It is the duty of the president to propose a plan that works, and to explain it and win the support of the people. Instead, as casualties mount and Americans begin to doubt, all the president does is call for "resolve."

I'm all for resolve -- I lived it during my tour in Vietnam. But Americans are beginning to understand that success in Iraq requires more than just resolve: It requires an effective plan, sufficient resources and effective execution of political, economic and diplomatic efforts, not just great "soldiering."

We in the loyal opposition are doing our duty by pointing out shortfalls in the president's approach.

Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark

Shields sums up the difference between Bayh and Clark:
Bayh gives weight to GOP claims of a weak, idea-less Democratic Party by repeating them and handwringing over how to neutralize them. What he doesn't do is simply refute the claims. By contrast, Clark's strategy is to take the charge that Democrats are "fringe" and lack "backbone" and upend it. No, you're wrong, here's why. And that is what we need more of from party leaders -- not a nervous shift to the right to appease the Republican Party.
This is probably why Wes Clark is so well regarded among the netroots. Wes Clark and Paul Hackett (who since Tuesday is being touted for Ohio governor or senator in 2006) are similar in that, secure about their national security credentials, they get right to the point in criticizing Bush's foreign policy.

Martian Snow Cone

Here's a pretty sight for a summer day. The ESA has published this spectacular image of water ice in a crater on Mars:
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Jim Wallis on the Message Thing

I had this NYT oped from Jim Wallis emailed to me via the Delaware Young Democrats list. Wallis writes of the need for Dems to forge a positive message. For instance:
As for "family values," the Democrats can become the truly pro-family party by supporting parents in doing the most important and difficult job in America: raising children.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Journalists Won't Give Conscience Award to Judith Miller

The fourth estate has second thoughts on proclaiming Judith Miller a hero, reports Editor & Publisher:

NEW YORK The board of The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has voted unanimously to reverse an earlier decision to give its annual Conscience in Media award to jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller, E&P has learned.
The group's First Amendment committee had narrowly voted to give Miller the prize for her dedication to protecting sources, but the full board has now voted to overturn that decision, based on its opinion that her entire career, and even her current actions in the Plame/CIA leak case, cast doubt on her credentials for this award.

Wired News on Bloggers and Latoyia Figueroa

Wired News has picked up on the story of how Philly bloggers got the media to pay attention to the plight of Latoyia Figueroa:
The bloggers argue that [Natalee] Holloway and [Laci] Peterson, who are both white and good-looking, are more attractive to national broadcast media than someone like Figueroa, who is African-American and from a less affluent background.
The story mentions how Richard Cranium's open letter to CNN Headline News anchor Nancy Grace, along with the activism of other bloggers, generated national attention:
Through the rallying of local bloggers, the Figueroa case late last week garnered national media attention at CNN, USA Today, Fox News and other news outlets. Like this story, however, the coverage tended to focus on the blogger angle.
Latoyia's still missing and the media are playing the blogger angle. Maybe it's time for another forum on blogger ethics. In the meanwhile, visit the All Spin Zone's Latoyia Figueroa reward fund.

Katherine Harris Complains her Photos Were Colorized

I am not making this up. The Tampa Tribune reports that U.S. Representative and former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris acknowledges she has an image problem and blames, who else, the media, complaining, as Blogwood puts it, "the nerdy kids who edit the yearbook are obviously out to get her."

On Monday, on a conservative radio talk show, Harris, now a congresswoman from Longboat Key running for the U.S. Senate, hit back, blaming newspapers for the criticism and charging that some - without saying which - altered her photographs.
"I'm actually very sensitive about those things, and it's personally painful,'' Harris said when host Sean Hannity asked about her image problems from 2000.
"But they're outrageously false, No. 1, and No. 2, you know, whenever they made fun of my makeup, it was because the newspapers colorized my photograph,'' Harris said.

Joe Biden Testing the Waters on The Daily Show

Joe Biden's appearance last night on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart prompted one of those "mainstream media noticing how many people get their news from hip alternate media" stories in the News Journal:
NEW YORK -- Sen. Joe Biden wants to be president. So on Tuesday, Biden went where every presidential hopeful goes these days to get noticed and generate some buzz -- "The Daily Show."
"I'm going to see if anyone besides me thinks I should be president," the Delaware Democrat told a friendly crowd at a Tuesday night taping.

The Return of the Long Bond, Part 2

As noted here in May, the Treasury Department is bringing back the long bond. Today's announcement confirms that Treasury officials are working on fitting the 30-year bond into its auction calendar, which is awfully crowded these days with all the deficit spending that has to be financed. The NYT reports:
''We believe this is a prudent debt management step that will continue to allow Treasury to finance the government's borrowing needs at the lowest cost over time,'' said Randal Quarles, the department's undersecretary for domestic finance.
The United States stopped selling the ''long'' bond in October 2001, which turned out to be the last year the government produced a budget surplus. After that, though, it has racked up record amounts of red ink, helping to push up the national debt, which now stands at $7.8 trillion.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hackett Loses in OH-02

The final 91 precincts from Clermont County are in; Paul Hackett has narrowly lost the special election in OH-02 to Jean Schmidt by 4%. See my previous post re Charlie Cook's benchmark.

Early Analysis on OH-02...

For early analysis of what the OH-02 result means, let's turn to Charlie Cook's benchmark via Kos:
A Schmidt win of less than five points should be a very serious warning sign for Ohio Republicans that something is very, very wrong...

Nail Biter in OH-02

With 580 of 735 precincts reporting, Hackett is trailing Schmidt 48 - 52. Swing State Project and MyDD are tracking the returns.
UPDATE: With 662 of 753 precincts reporting, Hackett is trailing Schmidt by 870 votes out of 99,492. We're waiting for 91 precincts in Clermont County (which is east and southeast of Cincinnati) to report.

Will John Bolton Make an Offer the UN Can't Refuse?

How effective will John Bolton be in the UN? Not very, according to David Meyer at The Washington Note:
We'd be more likely to get international cooperation on Iraq with a horse's head in Kofi Annan's bed.
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By the way, if you'd like to leave a horse head in someone's bed without ruining the linens, you can buy a horse head pillow from

Monday, August 01, 2005

Paul Hackett Making a Run for it in OH-02

Excitement is going through the roof in the campaign for Congress in OH-02. Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran, is making this a close race despite the 30% GOP advantage in the district. Swing State Project, which is embedded with the Hackett campaign, has done wonders to help make this special election a national event. (SSP has made a believer out of me, and I have just added it to my links.)
Former senators and war veterans Max Cleland and "Mr. Clean the Marine" John Glenn are campaigning with Hackett. The Netroots have raised thousands for Hackett and the DCCC jumped in late last week with a big ad buy. Hackett is getting a lot of people pumped up by showing that an attractive, straight talking, progressive war veteran can turn a solidly red district into contested turf.
And if he doesn't win, he plans to go back to Iraq as a civil affairs officer. No sunshine patriot he.

John Bolton Will Get his Recess Appointment

The AP reports that President Bush will make a recess appointment to send John Bolton to the UN.