Monday, June 30, 2008

Our political discourse

The state of political discourse in this country is embarrassing. I guess that it is an inevitable consequence of the fact that presidential campaigns last 2 years, and blogs and cable news require an outrage-of-the-day to generate readers and viewers.

The most recent dust-up involves Wes Clark's comments over the weekend on Face the Nation (offending comments in bold).
CLARK: He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, "I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not, do you want to take the risk, what about your reputation, how do we handle this publicly? He hasn't made those calls, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Can I just interrupt you? I have to say, Barack Obama hasn't had any of these experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.

CLARK: I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.
Although Clark's comment was undisciplined and he should have known better, the context demonstrates that he was making a valid argument (i.e., that McCain's misfortune does not somehow mean that he is more qualified to lead the nation than Obama). You may agree or disagree with that argument, but the argument itself is not offensive.

Let's move on.

A survival guide for the political season

Today Now!: How To Pretend You Give A Shit About The Election

Takes one to know one

Super-blogger Markos calls Joe Lieberman an "asshole" and then brags about it. I'm trying to think of a word to describe Markos. Hmmm.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why people hate airlines

Today I am flying from Minneapolis to Grand Rapids, Michigan. My client is paying an astounding $1,300 for my round-trip ticket. So today I go to check-in online and find that I have been assigned a middle seat, even though plenty of aisle and window seats remained available. Of course, I changed my seat assignment, but why should I have to jump through that hoop? These people are just stupid. No wonder every airline seems to make a trip to bankruptcy court every 10 years.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008


My spam filter keeps spam-detected emails for 30 days. I currently have 2284 emails in my spam filter. That is an average of approximately 76 spam emails a day. Think about that. I am not sure if I am more astounded in the volume of crap that is sent to me, or more thankful that I don't see 98% of it. Unfortunately, 2% still find a way to get through.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Major Number 14

SAN DIEGO — He has won four Masters titles, the first one by 12 strokes. He has won three United States Opens, the first by 15 strokes. He has won three British Opens, the first by eight strokes. He has won four P.G.A. Championships, one of them by five strokes.

Yet on Monday, in a playoff for the 108th United States Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course, Tiger Woods matched Rocco Mediate with a par-71 before parring the first sudden-death playoff hole to win a 19-hole struggle. Woods called it “probably the greatest tournament I’ve ever had.”
During my lifetime I have seen many remarkable athletes do remarkable things. Ali, Gretzky, Jordan, Brady, Bonds*. But Tiger is the most remarkable of all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Obama vs. McCain

Thankfully, I forget 99.999% of punditry within 48 hours of reading it. But this one has stuck with me since January, so I bring it back now:
Columbia, South Carolina — I went to Barack Obama’s rally here, on Sunday night, with a Republican friend who had never seen the Illinois senator in action before. Watching the crowd of more than 3,000 fill up the convention center, watching the people send up waves of energy to Obama, and watching him play off that energy in a speech that was one of the best political performances anyone has seen this year, my Republican friend said, simply, “Oh, s—t.” He recalled the scene from Jaws, in which the small seaside town’s sheriff realizes how big the shark he’s tracking truly is, and says, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” What my friend didn’t have to say was that he was deeply worried that Republicans just don’t have a bigger boat.
I must admit, at the time that article was one that started the adjustment in my thinking about the real possibilities of an Obama candidacy. At the time, I thought I was fairly solid for McCain, but I was open to revisiting that position. Minnesota held its caucus on Super Tuesday and we opted to go to the Democratic caucus and vote for Obama because we thought that he would need our help here (which was wrong) and McCain would not need our help here (which was wrong).

So what are the real possibilities of an Obama presidency? First, we get $800 trillion in immediate goodwill from around the world. I would like to hear from everyone who predicted that a black guy with a middle name of "Hussein" might be elected POTUS just 7 years after 9/11 and 4.5 years after pulling Saddam out of a spider-hole. Second, we get a potential for things to get done domestically. Of course, "get done" is nothing without specifics. That is where I start to get nervous (again) about Obama.

So what are the risks of an Obama presidency? I have two inter-related concerns. First, Obama is raw when it comes to national security and, second, if he wins he is likely to have comfortable majorities in both the House and the Senate. I'm not sure that I like the idea of a giving the Democrats complete control to do whatever they want over both national security and domestic policy.

It sucks to live in a democracy and have to sort through this stuff.