Friday, July 30, 2004

Right Coast Responds

What's this? WaPo blasts Kerry's performance?! Ouch.

And just to appease Mr. Proliferation, Salon seems to think Kerry nailed it. We shall see.

What About Your Friends?

One good TLC reference deserves another:

"First of all, I admire Kerry's guts in insulting the Saudis. They deserve it." I'm sure they fully deserve it, but as a ruling faction, and an on-again, off-again American ally in the Middle East, I'm not so sure insulting them on national television was the best move for someone who wants to both improve our image abroad and rebuild our international coalitions. Besides, the Saudis are finally coming to grips with the wrongs they've wrought, albeit slowly.

We've discussed the corporate tax loopholes offline, and you'll get no argument from me. As for the need for gravitas, YES, the man suffers from an overabundance of it. But that doesn't mean he should pull an Al Gore and completely abandon every element of his persona in favor of disputing people's negative characterizations of him. It was phony 4 years ago with Gore, what make you think people won't see right through the smokescreen with Kerry?

You're right. I'm not even sure Jesus would pass muster on public speaking. So sue me.

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

Senor C, you're so cute when you try to assemble an argument.

Glenn may disagree, but Alterman goes one better than I did. First of all, I admire Kerry's guts in insulting the Saudis. They deserve it. We have to understand the regime in Saudi Arabia doesn't even possess the rule of law, let alone the fact that their power is built fundamentally on an alliance to Wahabbism. It's good we have someone who has finally called a spade a spade.

As far as protectionism is concerned, yeah Kerry came out that way. But, importantly he didn't once say anything related to raising tarriffs. And this when his opponent has ballooned farm subsidies and installed steel tarriffs? Let's be honest here. I'm an avid free trader, but the politics of this country aren't and never have been ready for it. Kerry also did discuss the notion of competition in at least somewhat the right terms when he talked about education and training. That's a legitimate form of enhancing the competitiveness of this economy without resorting to protectionism, and it's where we've fallen woefully behind in the past four years. Closing the tax loopholes, the only explicit policy he mentioned, makes good sense. It does create an artificial incentive for overseas jobs vs. domestic ones.

Lastly, GRAVITAS? Are you kidding? If anything Kerry is always accused of having too much, and you say now it's too little? Would you have preferred an even stiffer, more wooden, more severe John Kerry? That line I think was good and delivered appropriately. Mentioning faith is a good idea but do we really want to stress it and start a jihad with the evangelicals? It was bold, and the Democratic party has shown their first signs of being comfortable with it this Convention.

You can criticize John Kerry for his delivery all you want, but you know it's the best you've ever seen him. Your bar is set so high I don't feel like Martin Luther King, Jr. could've given a convention speech you would've been proud of. I would easily say he did better than Edwards at the Convention because it was the worst Edwards performance I had ever seen. Lastly, I'll invoke this argument: You would be a fool to say you don't wish he could've given a better speech. Just like you'd be a fool to say you don't want a better car, or a better house, or a toilet made of solid gold. Unfortunately, we have to work with what we've got, and I think John Kerry raised himself to a level he NEVER was before. What more can you ask?

Oh that's right, you would've preferred Joe "I Talk Like I'm Constipated 24 Hours A Day" Lieberman. I'm SURE he could've delivered a better speech, as long as he didn't think of the debate he pathetically lost to Dick Cheney and start wetting himself on stage.

From The Left Coast

"They Should Have Picked Dean". Wow. You can't get a harsher response than that.

The Ex-Candidates

Two of the former Democratic presidential candidates, Joe Lieberman and Al Sharpton, making headlines at the most opportune moments.

Apparently, Joementum may be making a comeback. For those of you who aren't aware, Joey Liebs was my number one choice in the Democratic primaries. Unfortunately, he was completely destroyed by the better organized Deaniacs, Kerrykinds and Edwards worshippers.

On the other hand, Rev. Sharpton may be grasping for straws, yet again. We're back to square one on slavery reparations. Oh joy.

My take: There's no way that African Americans will ever receive reparations towards the legacy of slavery. For one thing, I think the damage that was caused is near impossible to quantify, especially in present dollar terms. Secondly, the reparation sum (whatever it may be) will only HURT the national economy (in addition to the tenuous social fabric of the country). How does Al expect the government to pay? Raise taxes? Take up a collection plate? Divert money away from current social programs? How do we even establish which black folks were hurt by slavery? The administrative costs alone would be overwhelming.

Suggestion to Sharpie: Pontificate on issues that will actually have a positive effect on the black community Al. Unfortunately, positivity, is not Al's strong suit.

Rebuttal Rebuttal

Oh Mr. Proliferation, you're so cute when you disagree with me! A couple things:

1. I was more concerned about the lack of emphasis on key phrases and key moments in the speech. Kerry, in all his ineptitude, NEVER let the crowd react. Your soundbites won't suffer from a lack of substance. Instead they suffer from not realizing their full potential because of Kerry's delivery. Imagine how much different the phrase would have sounded if there was a bit more gravitas in his voice:

"I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country."

2. I probably wouldn't have gone out on the limb and insulted the Saudi royal family. Boo on his anti-social security privatization rhetoric. Additionally, Kerry came out as a big-time protectionist. I'm not happy with either.

3. Because you and I disagree on the Iraq war and its merits, Kerry's stance on this particular issue during the speech probably conformed with your views quite well. Unfortunately, I would have to agree with Stephen Green's assessment on this one.

4. Lastly, Glenn disagrees with you somewhat. You may weep now.

Kerry's Great Performance

I have to disagree thoroughly with Senor C. Even Mickey Kaus felt good about the speech. It's easy to critique Kerry from the pundit perspective, but that wasn't the target audience of this speech. Most of America, those not paying attention to the primaries and who haven't been following the campaigns, had no idea who Kerry was. Last night, I think he gave a solid (though not on the concise-side) summary of who he is and what he stands for. Kerry sped through the speech, but that was GOOD, not bad! I mean, do you really want John Kerry to talk more SLOWLY? The speed actually I think made him seem relentless. And, with all the criticism Kerry has received for being dull and wooden and that sort of thing, I felt like we had a "George W. Bush Debate" effect. The bar was lowered so much for Kerry and his delivery among many people that I think he played it out by being semi-animated.

As for him not being Clinton, well, we KNOW this. Anyone who expected John Kerry to transform into a great speaker is deluding themselves. I think, despite that, this was his best oratorical performance probably in his whole career. I would easily rate his performance as better than Edwards' convention strut. For panders to the left, well YEAH. He's a democrat, but there were plenty of panders to the right. The question of how he's going to pay for it, well we all know every candidate does that and we can expect that he won't have to pay for it all because only part of his agenda will actually pass (if any). I was disappointed he came out so stridently against Social Security privatization, but I think he's finally articulated a coherent response for Homeland Security to the American public with his talk about first responders. If anything, Kerry's idealism about budget issues is not nearly as DELUSIONAL as Bush's, and people will easily recognize that.

Most of all, I rate the speech a success because for all the cheesy lines, it's full of GREAT SOUND BITES. Most people who see any bit of this speech will be seeing clips on cable news, and this speech was full of them. The speechwriting team was genius in that regard. It's perfectly adapted to today's superficial politics because there are great one-liners and phrases that will drive the point home. It was theatrics, and it was long, and it was short on details, but this is politics. He's a candidate, not a think tank. I rate Kerry's performance as great because it was exactly what it needed to be. Anyone who hadn't been paying attention before got a decent notion of the kind of guy Kerry is and what he stands for, and he is BETTER THAN GORE, something last night really confirmed.

Kerry's Average Performance

The good news: It looks like Kerry managed to get the Democratic base pumped while also demonstratin his willingness to take on the GOP standardbearers head-on. The bad news: I'm not quite sure Kerry managed to enthrall the rest of America.

Kerry, in an attempt to counter allegations of his aptitude for a soporific speaking style, sped through his entire speech (I agree with Joe Scarborough on this point, unlike Andrea Mitchell, Willie Brown and Chris Matthews on MSNBC last night). Kerry rushed through every single line, continuously shushed the crowd and didn't do as well with emphasis on key phrases. Bill Clinton, he is NOT.

The message was simple: America can do better. Help is on the way. I don't know about the rest of you, but "America Can Do Better" just leaves Kerry-Edwards open to too many jokes.

As for content, Kerry's speech was not overly divisive and populist. He may have gone a tad overboard with the patriotic rhetoric and the references to his experiences in Vietnam (I'm surprised he didn't mention he won three purple hearts). Unfortunately, Kerry's speech also called for unrealistic goals while overtly pandering to the liberal Left. Not a good move. How does he plan to balance the budget with increased spending on the military, social security, economic investment, and education WITH a middle class tax cut by only raising taxes on the super wealthy? Hopefully, these issues will all be hashed out as the debates begin, but at first glance, I'm a bit skeptical.

I can't wait until the GOP convention to see what Rove et al have cooked up for Bush and Cheney. I'm sure it will be as full of pomp as the convention in Boston.

Update: The critiques keep coming. And coming. Again.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Drudging Up Nothing

Here's the beatdown to Drudge's story. This has actually been floated and discussed several times before, and there's a reason it hasn't gained traction, even on Faux News.

Also, the GOP has gone to new levels of dirty tricks. You have to admire that kind of deviousness!

Gas Leak

So there were some idiots outside our building in Ft. Belvoir that ACCIDENTALLY struck a gas pipeline. The alarms are still going off inside our building even though we were given the 'all clear'to re-enter, following an hour and a half outside, about a quarter mile away from the building. Dumbasses.

JFK Playing GI Joe

Oh snap. It looks like JFK2 is being accused of RE-ENACTING battle scenes and military assignments so they could be captured on film. According to Drudge:

"Kerry would revisit ambush locations for reenacting combat scenes where he would portray the hero, catching it all on film. Kerry would take movies of himself walking around in combat gear, sometimes dressed as an infantryman walking resolutely through the terrain. He even filmed mock interviews of himself narrating his exploits. A joke circulated among Swiftees was that Kerry left Vietnam early not because he received three Purple Hearts, but because he had recorded enough film of himself to take home for his planned political campaigns."

As if the press going gaga over the space suit pictures wasn't enough, now the Kerry camp has to deal with this mess. My one suggestion on this matter, DON'T let Teresa comment AT ALL. If this story turns out to be true, this is just another step up in the level of Kerry douche-itude, which is already well above average.

Cato Confirms Caro

Say what you will about the Cato Institute, but both of us agree upon the reasons behind Europe's economic stagnation.

Disclaimer: My LJ posts are of much lower quality than the ones on this blog. Most of them were written after ingesting significant amounts of alcohol, so while my imagination was let loose, my consistent C-plus grammar and writing skills reverted to those of a 15 year old stuck in elementary school (Which I suppose isn't all that different if you think about it).

Holy Raving Lunatics, Moonbatman!

Once again, the crazy have it.

Here is Ralph Nader, as his usual insane self, talking about accounts receivable bazaars with the Democrats. Of course he wants to go into the Convention! He must stalk the country and demand his relevancy!

I remember the line the son of a Republican State Senator from VA said to me once. . ."Even if Ralph Nader became President, I'd shoot his Red, Communist Ass in a Heartbeat." So appropo.

Also, those crazy Texans. What will they think of next. Glenn Reynolds has doubts it will hold up under Lawrence scrutiny.

?uestlove is spinning at Black Cat Friday night. Go, if for anyone, for me!

Obama Overrated?

So it looks like I wasn't the only one less than impressed with Barack Obama's showing on Tuesday evening at the DNC. Fortunately for me, my opinion isn't a punishable offense. If this type of retaliation against internal dissent isn't considered fascist in nature, I'm not sure how we could characterize the Bush Administration's either.

Positive Education

Businessweek Online has posted two new, interesting articles on the emerging dynamics of 527 and how they affect the Dems. First, there's the interview with the infamous Andrew Stern, who wants the Dems to be more like the Reps as a party. Then there's a generic piece about 527 Grassroots Efforts. An interesting issue, which no one has brought up, is that these 527's are technically not allowed to advocate against the Republican party. While no doubt this actually happens, in a sense it means that they are FORCED to represent themselves and do voter outreach by presenting a positive message. It CAN'T be all Bush-bashing. So, a lot of the positive planks of the platform this year, while not articulated at a national and public level, are being pushed at the grassroots. So, the whole business about Democrats not having any positive discourse may be overblown. It just might be talk happening at a lower level the mainstream media isn't interested in.

Also, why being global police is leaving the US broke.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Playstation Generation

Glenn Reynolds, as always, is a genius about yet another subject. Whether he's kidding or not (I have a feeling it's a little of both from his previous posts on video games and his libertarian stance on them), it does make one wonder. That a massive government program is what he's shooting for is doubtful, but the notion that porn and video games are cathartic I can get down wit.

Fact is, desensitizing people with violence and sex may have undesired consequences in general moral terms, but it at the same time removes the taboo and forbidden feel of it. Rebellious teenagers turn out not to feel so rebellious once they've been desensitized.

Moore's Long Lost Cousin

If you're a fan of satire, you're sh*t outta luck. Instead I present Ann Coulter's take on the DNC. Apparently the National Endowment for the Arts funds "crucifixes submerged in urine" now. Go figure.

Cannes' Favorite Son

If John Kerry is a douchebag, then Michael Moore is a complete wack job. Tell me again just how this man is contributing to progress?

Presidential Homework

A weekly pontification:

Outsourcing is a buzz word with a great deal of political ramifications. Unions fear it. Politicians would rather avoid the term altogether. And those uneducated in basic macroeconomics probably thinks it has more to do with energy issues than trade. Protectionism is rooted in some very shaky assumptions as this article states. I suggest that both the Bush and Kerry camps translate these facts into words that America can actually understand. Forget about the threat from China and India. Keep your eye on the unstoppable forces of modern technology.

Centrifugal Force (World Roundup)

Let the Arms Race begin! Since the Rumsfeld Commission, crazy defense nuts have been pushing in a self-destructive fashion a fancy, expensive missile defense program to counter rogue states. Kaplan makes a great point about how asinine missile defense is. For all the blowhards who go on and on about why we need missile defense, if anything 9/11 should have shown us how useles it would be. The facts are that defensive missiles will actually only encourage more nuclear proliferation and development as people try to find ways around them. So, a state by state arms race could spark from developing missile defenses. Also, what missile defense advocates won't tell you is that there are two sure-fire ways around it. Two come immediately to mind, and both would mean troubling developments and involve different a different kind of "arms race." They are as follows:

1) Cruise Missiles- Cruise missiles launched from offshore, from a container ship or some other source, would not be stopped by even a fully operational missile shield. They are too fast and too small to be intercepted by ANY of the contemplated missile defense systems currently proposed.

2) Terrorist Delivery- This possibility was laughed out of the room not so long ago, but not anymore. A terrorist with a briefcase bomb would get around any missile defense shield. Israel reportedly used blackmail of this variety with briefcase bombs to cause the Soviet Union to back down during some of it's skirmishes with Jordan and Egypt, who were Red Army-backed. In a perverse way, missile defense could ENCOURAGE cultivation of this terrorist "delivery technology", which none of us want. Bottom line, it's counter-productive, expensive, and full of holes to proceed with missile defense. Yay for billions of wasted taxpayer dollars that could better equip our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan! Hooray!

Speaking of nuclear proliferation, Uh-oh! Big surprise, Iran's nuclear centrifuge program has been restarted. This government in Iran is the most backstabbing state the world has seen. Until the mullahs get the boot, we can live in constant fear that they will pursue their nuclear program. Why? Who's going to stop them? No one can. There's a lot of talk that we should've invaded Iran instead of Iraq, but if you think the backlash from Iraq was bad Iran would've been TEN TIMES worse. What the US and Europe needs to do is start blatantly backing the internal reformist groups and moderate groups to bring about an immediate regime change, which in this case is way more possible than it was under Saddam.

Also, despite the catastrophic bombing today and security situation in Iraq, Iraqi elections are making mild progress. The ethnic groups are squabbling in the caucuses, but it's not nearly on the degree of civil war and they've done a fairly good job including at least some from each group. The grumbling about how many and the ratios will probably continue though. At least this convention is a good dry run for how elections will go in January (hopefully).

Afghanistan is a disaster. Besides the return of smack, aid agencies are in retreat. "Basket-case" indeed. NATO has not stepped up, and that makes the future look gloomy for a multi-national force in Iraq too. Also, South Korea has been inundated with another surge of refugees. At least those people managed to escape the hellish grasp of Pyongyang, let's just hope the South Korean government doesn't send them back as some rumors have gone.

Next Stop, Times Warner Square

While the DC Metro is nowhere near (and has many years to hike up prices), New York City's MTA has proposed a [gasp] groundbreaking idea. I'm still convinced Metro will be able to milk some money out of local and the Federal governments. Viva la Metro revolucion!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Bubba Has Left The Building

Even the most ardent Clinton detractors have nothing but praise.

Shyamalan Hates America?

Apparently, M. Night's latest movie is. . .[gasp]. . .an Anti-Bush Tirade! According to [gasp] Fox News! I wonder how his buddies Bruce "I'll Volunteer to Fight For You in Iraq, Mr. President" Willis and Mel "Catholic Jerry Fallwell" Gibson feel about that. . .

Humoring Pops

Pops is a GOP-leaner. See below for an example of what he sends me daily:

2004 National Democratic Convention Schedule-updated Agenda

6:00 p.m. - Opening flag burning ceremony.
6:00 p.m. - Opening secular prayers by Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton
6:30 p.m. - Anti-war concert by Barbra Streisand.
6:40 p.m. - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
7:00 p.m. - Tribute theme to France.
7:10 p.m. - Collect offerings for al-Zawahri defense fund.
7:25 p.m. - Tribute theme to Germany.
7:45 p.m. - Anti-war rally (Moderated by Michael Moore)
8:25 p.m. - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
8:30 p.m. - Terrorist appeasement workshop.
9:00 p.m. - Gay marriage ceremony (both male and female couples)
9:30.p.m. - * Intermission *
10:00.p.m. - Posting the Iraqi Colors by Sean Penn and Tim Robbins
10:10 p.m. - Re-enactment of Kerry's fake medal toss.
10:20.p.m. - Cameo by Dean 'Yeeearrrrrrrg!'
10:30 p.m. - Abortion demonstration by N.A.R.A.L.
10:40p.m. - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
10:50 p.m. - Pledge of allegiance to the UN.
11:00 p.m. - Multiple gay marriage ceremony (threesomes, mixed and same sex).
11:15 p.m. - Maximizing Welfare workshop.
11:30 p.m. - 'Free Saddam' pep rally.
11:59 p.m. - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
12:00 p.m. - Nomination of democratic candidate.

Any chance we could get Ted Kennedy to drive Hillary home from the convention?

Commission Impossible, The Sequel

Kerry is showing more and more seriousness about campaigning for Virginia. I think it's a good thing, and he's striking the only other part of the state where he can get support besides Northern Virginia. You guessed it, my homeregion Tidewater. He went there for Memorial Day to March in a parade in Portsmouth and now in the Navy's backyard. Kerry's message has a better chance of sticking in Tidewater than commonly appreciated. Sure, it's Pat Robertson's house, but the area has undergone massive demographic shifts recently, which has resulted in a younger and more diverse population and more urbanization. All the same, it would probably work like a charm if he sent Edwards to Southern VA to campaign for him.

What Kerry said is interesting though. He wants the 9/11 Commission to stay at work past Aug. 26th and assess progress on the recommendations. The man may have seized the notion that the 9/11 report would make a good counter-terrorism platform. Bush is still "assessing" what to do, while Kerry could actually turn the tables and act decisively and say he wishes to implement all of them.

Former Senator Loses It



It looks like the DNC is all fun and games in Boston. Former senator Max Cleland relives his days as a US Senator with Mick Foley playing the role of Senator Zell "Decepticon" Miller. In other news, imminent Kerry-supporter Andrew Sullivan almost busted a nut after golden boy Bill Clinton's acceptance...ahem...rousing speech last night. I'm wondering, where's Ana when the need for coverage is greatest?

Get Ready, You Mother, For the Big Payback

Ahhh, yes. Revenge. The NYT actually covers a genuine Biology of Revenge The article asks an interesting question right away. Aside from the rhetoric about Al Gore and the Democratic Party's obvious need to lash back at the Republicans and their sense of betrayal and rage, how about a more fundamental exploration. Is revenge crucial for communities? When someone is wronged, if their "apetite for revenge" is high they will seek to punish the wrong. In a sense, this may involve actually defending communal norms and upholding the fibers that hold said community together. It's perhaps a biological imperative for karmic enforcement. Batman throwing criminals off the roofs of buildings aside (obviously a necessary part of life), this is important for more than just vigilante justice and action movies.

This also explains why collective action actually can occur, in a slight rebuke to Nash and other Game Theory experts like Mancur Olson. If it's biologically rooted, people will want to punish the freeriders who screw them over. It even could explain why enforcement institutions arise! It explains everything! All right, I'm going overboard, but the point is if the urge for payback and revenge is rooted in some biological apetite for justice it does pose interesting questions for more than just social science and psychology.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Beggar Thy Neighbor?

Apparently, the use of plastic has kept the US economy afloat. Here's another reason (subscription required) why Right-wing nutjobs are more amusing than others:

"Some Christians see the pervasive use of plastic as part of a dark biblical prophecy. Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, has said that plastic may signal the cashless society of the end times foreshadowed in the Bible. Mr. Robertson's network accepts contributions from supporters on both Visa and MasterCard...."

Thanks Dan.

Drunken B*tch Slap

And in response to Jon's Andrew Sullivan post, a fisking by Stephen Green, causing more pain than a punch to the kidneys.

Dishing It Out

This Andrew Sullivan piece is required reading. As someone with political theory background, I have to say Sullivan does a perfect job of parsing out what is conservative about Bush and what isn't in a strictly philosophical/ideological way

Markets Over Mayhem

Partially privatizing Social Security remains the best alternative to save the system, yet only these two Congressmen have the wherewithal to introduce a bill that MAKES SENSE. This portion of the GOP plank is one that I can outrightly support because a) it doesn't require taxes increases, b) it's the individual's choice to switch to personal accounts and c) it doesn't reduce benefits for current or upcoming retirees. Baby Boomers have dictated the terms of government initiatives for the past few decades mainly because they're a generation that's more apt to vote than their younger counterparts in the 18-29 year old demographic. Lets give the AARP a blackeye and the Baby Boomers a run for their money. MARKET FORCES will ultimately prevail.

CogNETive DISSENTonance (World Roundup)

Now to NOT talk about the Convention in Boston. Why? Well, because I'm not in Boston and there are about a thousand bloggers who are. Instead, here's some obscure world news that's more interesting than how many people are dying in Iraq, and also not about the mounting genocide in Sudan.

The WT has a good story on how the web and the internet are affecting Chinese politics. This new brand of Chinese netizenshiphas a lot going for it. The race is on, with the government trying to supress the technology and the citizens finding ways around it and actually connecting with Party members. If anything, this is opening up lines of communication and facilitating information sharing like nothing before it. Despite government repressive moves and other such things, it's laying the foundation for a Chinese body politic for the future and provides a path outside the typical government propaganda machines.

A conflict between the Masaiand a series of ecotourism-milking ranchers is heating up in Kenya. No violence yet, but there's rumblings. The interesting thing about this dilemma is it brings up the classic development vs. anti-development clash that is happening throughout the third world which people like Arturo Escobar and others talk about often. Interestingly enough, it also addresses some of the darker sides of the new ecotourism industry.

Finally, some progress for the Marsh Arabs. Those people deserve it. If there's any crime of Saddam's that should be undone stat, that's it. Not only was it a form of ethnic cleansing and repression, but also one of the world's greatest environmental catastrophes. Restoring Iraq's marshes could be a true precedent for undoing such environmental evils and would do a lot of good for the country. In Bangladesh, monsoon season is as deadly as ever. The capital is half-underwater and diseases are coming soon. And lastly, rebels in Columbia have turned to kidnapping the clergy. The Colombians I've known and talked to typically regard the rebels with disdain and say violence, coercion, and drug money are all that keep them alive. This is either a sign of escalation or desperation on their part.

Senseless Criticism: Bourne Hits the Tipping Point

Lots to mull over on this dreary DC Monday (get ready for three straight days of rain!) First of all I saw the Bourne Supremacy this weekend. While I didn't like it quite as much as the original, it was still a good movie and had a car chase to rival Ronin. And that, for all of you who don't follow spy thrillers, is saying something. It was great to see a plodding evil, cranked up Karl Urban (Eomer from LOTR) play Bourne's Russian nemesis, complete with thick, brooding Russian accent. It's a shame Potente isn't in the movie for too long, who lent so much international flavor and emotional depth to the first Bourne flick. She was definitely missed, but Damon at least brought his acting to a new level in the character with heightened anguish and existential crisis at his situation. Lastly, Brian Cox was, as always, the man and played a beautifully villainous bureaucrat from hell.

I'll say things a few critics have said, and that the movie is good but packed with Cold War nostalgia. While we're facing a threat that in some ways is more dire than Communism was in our society currently, we still backtrack and make movies about Communist and post-Communist Russians serving as villains. Sure, Russia has plenty of corruption, but when can we get movies about Islamists? It's less accessible than Russians and Communism, all too familiar to Hollywood Directors and Spy Novelists, but it's time to get with the times. All right, that's enough of that. I'm not asking for Bond to fight Al-Qaida in the next movie, but we should at least deal somewhat with the topic in a less than James Cameron, "True Lies" fashion. (Anyone remember the Crimson Jihad? You know you do. Strange how Arnold was actually a trailblazer in fighting the War on Terror, even if they were human cartoons. . .)

Now some music: So I got "The Tipping Point" and the new Okayplayer compilation, "True Note 1." I think it's sufficient enough to do a dual review here. First of all, this has been a great year for hip hop. There's a lot of mindless talk about hip hop's star fading and rock coming back, but at the same time we've got some amazing underground/indie hip hop releases this year. There's Dilated People's masterpiece work Neighborhood Watch, Kanye West, the deft Gift of Gab album, and countless others. Okayplayer compilation brings some of the best, with Hieroglyphics, Jean Grae, the Roots, Skillz, Blackalicious, Madlib, and RJD2. It's worth checking out, a diverse album with some dark, smooth beats that at time resembles the trip hop style sound that's becoming big in hip hop and bubbling up through the underground sound. "The Tipping Point" is good, some stripped-down funky straight-up hip hop. While my favorite Roots album will always be Phrenology, I rank this my second favorite. Every song is enjoyable, with some standouts and some thrashing rhymes on a lot of the tracks. There's some uptempo stuff and slow jams, and some impressive guitar work. I recognize a ton of the songs from the Okayplayer show I saw back on New Year's Day at the 9:30 Club. Both of these albums are worth a listen if you're a hip hop fan at all, and probably worth buying too.

Social Psychology Triumphs Yet Again

Apparently, the reason behind the vitrolic political environment in Richmond is due to the lack of social opportunities. Well, that about kills my ambition to become a state legislator.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Episode 3 No More

Star Wars Episode 3 is now officially titled, Revenge of the Sith. For reaction from geek fandom click here.

Robots Just Don't Understand

Every July or so, the movie-going public anxiously awaits for Will Smith's requisite summer blockbuster. From effects-laden Independence Day to the guns ablaze in Bad Boys, Mr. Smith has shown the ability to draw both crowds and dollars. Even though he has justified his multimillion dollar salary through a multitude of box office receipts, one question still eluded the multi-talented uber-entertainer: Can Will Smith draw minds in addition to bodies to movie theaters? In his latest installment I,Robot, Will Smith manages to carry a movie that requires not only a leap of faith in Newton's laws of physics, but a minimum IQ level as well.

As turf-hardened Chicago Detective Spooner, Will Smith demonstrates a range of acting skills he's undoubtedly picked up from some of his more serious fare. I've never watched Ali, a film which garnered Smith an Oscar nomination, but I can definitely see Smith's growth as an actor, in contrast with the witty upstart in his television semi-biopic, Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The man definitely dazzled me with his ability to shed the immature chauvinist in his 80s hip hop days for a more self-instrospective, conflicted persona.

I was informed by other movie geek/fanboy websites that the plot/script only lightly followed Isaac Asimov's classic story. Not that it mattered since the story itself was your standard robot vs. man doomsday scenario, a plot with nothing overly unpredictable (Think Terminator minus thick-accents and nuclear holocaust). While my opinion might be anathema to the many Aasimov disciples, there were a few positive elements to the movie. Chicago of 2035 was probably the most believable futurisitic city I've seen in a movie. As opposed to massive overhauls of the urban landscape, the set designers did well for themselves by maintaining most of Chicago's architectural magnificence. I didn't feel like the designers pushed the envelope too much with the visuals, which is one of the first movie elements to draw out a casual movie watcher's ire. The robotic designs and buildings didn't look like something straight out of Queer Eye, and IMHO that's quite an accomplishment in contemporary big budget movies. Plus I've always been a sucker for a movie with a smooth gray and blue pallet. That's probably one reason I will never get sick of Minority Report or A.I.

The biggest NEGATIVE of all was the lack of screen time for "always the bridesmaid never the bride", super supporting actor James Cromwell. As Will Smith's "confidant" in the film, I felt like their relationship could have been developed a bit more. In addition to Keith David, another uber-supporting actor, I don't think Cromwell's ever played a character I didn't like in a movie so you can imagine how robbed I felt. The film score was nothing to marvel at, and former model Bridget Moynihan played your standard "I feel closer to robots than humans" character because of her undying devotion to her work as a robotics engineer.

All in all, I'd recommend this movie to anyone who likes a balance between pure action and geeky science/philosophy in their films. In the end though, this film was all about Will Smith. SPOONEY!!!

Friday, July 23, 2004

Awww. . . .Geek Out!

So, a day that would've driven me ecstatic at age 8 has arrived. . .but now I really don't know how I feel about it. That's right kids, Dreamworks has decided to make a live-action TRANSFORMERS movie. While initially I was excited, and Speilberg is producing, I think I smell a botching coming. Really, I mean, how do you transformers live action? How would it not be cheesy? Granted I felt the same way about X-men, and then about Spiderman, but GIANT ROBOTS THAT CHANGE FROM CARS seems a little farfetched as live-action. Don't get me wrong, it's a superb and groundbreaking idea for animated fantasy, but I don't even want to think about live action Optimus Prime. It would totally ruin my memories.

Also, for those wanting more geek movie news, I have it for you courtesy of the ever-vigilant Cinescape. Neil Gaiman's Death comic series is about to become a reality. The biggest argument to be excited? He wants to direct it himself. I'd be really interested to see how this master of a novelist and artist would do behind a movie helm. Also, Pi's genius Arofonsky is going to direct The Watchmen. It's good to have such a groundbreaking comic to be articulated by one of the more inventive directors out there.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Commission Impossible (World Roundup)

So, the 9/11 report is about to arrive, and judging by one summary it looks like it wasn't the partisan, shrill attack a lot of people thought it was going to be. Surprise! It's actually a (gasp) constructive report detailing a lot of discrete recommendations and laying blame even, and justifiably on both Clinton and Bush. Wow! It's like, you know, REAL bipartisanship! Does anyone else miss that, or am I alone there? It marginalizes the intelligence czar plan to below Cabinet level and blasts some of the asinine plans for an MI5 intelligence-style agency. I mean, the problem now is coordinating the intelligence we do have and bringing agencies together. . .do we really want to add ANOTHER one to exacerbate the turf wars? I say we make the FBI work and the CIA do what they're supposed to do instead of creating more bureaucracy.

Was anyone else aware there's an appropriation for torture? This guy sounds like a total nutjob. Even if he's telling total lies his very existence should make us afraid of our continued use of contracted-out mercenaries in our foreign wars.

Also Grand Ayatollah Cheney has more Iran troubles, and the investigation is turning serious. Anyone who thinks Cheney has scruples about dealing with sponsors of terrorism feel free to check your credibility at the door.
Afghani Progress has been mixed, and the fact that we're about to pull more troops out of there scares me. At least there's some development in Kabul. . .too bad we're dealing with a WHOLE COUNTRY here and not just a city state! And, in another disgusting environmental act, Japanese Whalers are making a power play on Antarctic whales. You would think, with all the modernization Japan has done, they would stop living in the nineteenth century and give up on this whaling shenanigans. Instead, we get EXPANSION of it.

El Wapo has an interesting story on the Palestinian Power Struggle. It's heating up majorly with the Queria resignation scandal and a
moderate's assasination. Everyone seems to be upping the violence ante in what started as genuine people-power moments. Is this reform or Civil War? Maybe some of Arafat's corruption and failings can be cast off, but in the process Palestine could end up with even more corrupt and violent leaders.

Egyptian reforms are somewhat on a roll also, but that's going to take a careful eye. "Gradual reform" can be a synonym for "useless pandering."

Lead into Gold

Jerry Goldsmith has died. This is a sad day for film soundtracks. The man truly carried movies straight out of their more ridiculous sixties and seventies soundtracks and into a more modern period, combining a lot of great classical sounds and more experimental modern and contemporary orchestral arrangements. He'll be missed in theaters everywhere.

Kerry Strat Session

Salon's David Gopian hedges on a Kerry win, and the demographic split that the race boils down to is, you guessed it, the education gap. The analysis please:

"Bush's disdain for complexity and nuance is costing him the support of voters with a broader understanding of the world. Kerry's patrician manner has not yet won over [college-educated] voters wary of his background and style..."

"For [high school or less educated] voters whom Kerry must reach, much of what might matter politically resides in personal encounters at the most rudimentary level -- friends and relatives who have lost jobs, the shuttered businesses on Main Street that they walk by, health problems that go untreated because of the high costs of healthcare, personal knowledge of an increasing crime rate in town, sons or daughters who cannot afford college, nephews and nieces serving anxiously in Iraq, the leaking roof they cannot get fixed, the water that tastes funny, the mounting balances on their credit cards.

"To communicate effectively with these voters, Kerry must recognize the limits of what this constituency knows compared with better-educated voters, and he must tap into the reservoir of experiences that inform their outlooks."

'This constituency', referring to the less-educated demographic, is typically a mop up job for the Dems. Current polls indicate a below average performance by Kerry of a few percentage points, and Gopian infers that only true, grass-roots activism will win these voters over. This is where John Edwards refined but unpretentious communicating style, his ability to connect with voters and his "Two Americas" mentality, will come in handy. Hopefully, this analysis holds true, if not for the country's sake than for Microsoft's.

Senseless Criticism: Rescue Me

So last night I watched the premier episode of FX's new show Rescue Me. Is it me, or has FX completely managed to jack HBO's whole style of making shows from them? First the Shield, then Nip/Tuck, and now Rescue Me. The show has, like many of FX's brand of mock-HBO, a lot of complexity and a lot of potential. Leary is better than usual, finally having a role that lets him be bitter and stretch out his emotions and range some. The cop and crook roles he did were never really this multi-dimensional, and had him dealing with the disintegration of his own life and the grief and sensitivity he feels for the people he saves. Also, it makes it clear right away that the character's front is all macho but on the inside he's a lot more mushy. This Tommy Gavin is probably going to be the role of his life.

Also, it explores 9/11 and the culture of firemen in a very interesting way. It's not too direct, but always there hovering in the background. The show is also expressionistic, using Gavin in unusual ways as he grapples with problems, including alcoholism, all the while talking to his dead cousin (9/11 Casualties). The conversations aren't in dream sequences, though, because people always ask Gavin who he's talking to. There's a huge cast of other characters, including Gavin's children and his wife, who he's separated from. The show had a roaring start, but, with many of these things, you never know if it will go anywhere or noodle on the same themes over and over again like Nip/Tuck comes dangerously close to doing with aging.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Grand Theft Auto: Capital City

So, let me get this straight. A teenager steals a car, a take home car, from the SECRET SERVICE and is then found shot dead in it. Why am I not surprised?

The cops say it's drug-related, but I guess that's not a huge surprise this being DC. My question is, what on earth would provoke someone to steal a Secret Service Car? It wasn't even like just an Agent's car, but an Agency take-home vehicle. It had to have US Government plates on it, at least! All I have to say is wow. Whatever business this kid was mixed up in it must've been serious.

Vote Or Die

Sean Combs evidently thinks that the nightclub-tough guy routine is kosher in the political arena. Outside of a Jimmy Hoffa style political machine, I respectfully disagree. The rest of the country is nothing like the China Club on Friday nights Mister P-poppa Diddy-pop.

What I Don't Want to See. . .

Michael Moore on any magazine cover, barely conceiving his private parts, with traitor written on him. The man is on a roll to becoming the most controversial man in America besides, well, Dick Cheney. If this is any indication, the guy is starting to inspire Dixie Chicks level of hatred (not that he didn't before)for music performers that link themselves to him.

Honestly, rushing Linda Rondstadt off stage for dedicating a song to Michael Moore and then BANNING her from the venue? That's pretty extreme by any standards. F9/11 seems to have opened a rift bigger than predicted. This sort of thing makes me almost laugh when I listen to my old Rage Against the Machine albums. I mean come on, isn't there something more offensive out there than dedicating a song to Michael Moore? The idea that there isn't probably scares me most of all. Who's next to be blacklisted and forbidden for discussion? Sure, F9/11 is in part unfair and polarizing, but is the best way to respond to that to be more polarizing and more unfair? Again, is it too much to ask for sanity?

Filler: Who knew the colonel was such a sadist? Wow. . .tastes just like. . .torture? I'm no animal rights activist and am halfway a carnivore, but this STILL makes me more than a little queasy.

Music Announcement: Quannum is putting out Lateef and the Chief are the Maroons: Ambush on October 5th. Mark your calendars, because it will be a landmark in indie hip hop.

Full Moon, Of The Reverend Variety

So Reverend Moon is a classic nutjob, this everyone knows. But why did Warner, why John Warner, did you have to help this guy out? Anyone should know renting out a room for a religious ceremony in which a man crowns himself the messiah in front of a bunch of public figures has got to be an embarassment. Just when I was starting to think there were decent Republicans as Warner voted against the FMA, this has to happen. Is it too much to ask for sanity in Congress? Or at least not to directly associate with clearly insane people?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Virginia Is For Swingers

Fox News claims that Virginia is a swing state. Let the bludgeoning begin.

Brighter Day (World Roundup)

Some actual good news today. Queria, one of the few Palestinian leaders with actual power who has a solid and reformist agenda, is not only here to stay but is also calling for genuine change in Palestine's security forces. Maybe now we can finally see a little more order and moves to create something like a Palestinian government that might one day be something like a Palestinian democracy.

Also, something had to go right eventually in Afghanistan. They've got Mullah Omar's brother now, at long last. And also, Britain steps up with AIDS, to once again make Bush's AIDS boasts look as empty as they are. So all in all, not a bad day, although the Iran stuff is becoming more troubling by the second.

Can we say War On Terror, Part Troix? I hope not.

Once Again, I Blame Farm Subsidies

So, as Kuntzman writes in the great pattern of so many, the USDA's talk of revising the food pyramid is a joke to make much of an impact, and has gotten amnesia about Mad Cow. The fact is, we need to take a serious look at agriculture in this country. The Heritage Foundation is smart on this subject, for once. All the taxpayer dollars for farm subsidies go to giant agribusinesses that have turned into a turbo lobby that promotes diabetes-causing corn syrup. We seriously need to rethink the USDA's role. . .is it really just a protectionist organization that dumps out misguided, unhealthy food propaganda and keeps 3rd world farmers in dire poverty, or does it serve an actual useful purpose? I'd bet on the former.

Israel vs. France vs. Palestine

Ariel Sharon was obviously the rebellious kid in high school. Jaques Chirac was the popular kid that always picked on the rebels and powerless nerds. And Yasser Arafat was the clumsy geek, with the thick glasses and pocket protector. Can't you just see these three in the same class? These days, it looks like an ongoing high school reunion.

Abu Sayaaf Wants You

After the Philippines fulfilled their end of the bargain, the formerly kidnapped Filipino hostage in Iraq was returned unharmed to the steps of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Baghdad. It's a sad day when a country, let alone a long running ally of the US, is so willing to give into the demands of terrorists. Like Staunch Moderate says, this is NOT about whether or not you support the Bush administration. Terrorists are not to be negotiated with, PERIOD. Following this debacle, Al Qaeda-friendly Abu Sayaaf in the Philippines has a precedent on which to rely. The question now is whether the US should actively support the Philippines in its anti-terrorism campaign, or should we disregard our decades-old partnership following any future American kidnappings in the Philippines? The threat still exists.

All-ACC Worthy

Did I make a mistake by attending UVA?

"Duke University freshmen will get something even more trendy than a Blue Devils T-shirt when they arrive next month: a free Apple iPod digital music player."

That's two early Christmas presents for the Dukees this year. First Coach K sticks around, and now this. Maybe the extra 20k per year would've been worth it.

Whatever Happened to Master P?

If I was a Charlotte basketball fan, I'd bring my grammar books to every game. Run for your lives....

Monday, July 19, 2004

Resurrect Churchill.

In this day and age of porous borders, well-equipped terrorists, failing treaties and powerless mulitlateral bodies, it's a wonder that the United States still has a semi-coherent foreign policy. The pundits have gone to work on both Bush's record and Kerry's rhetoric, and to everyone else's dismay, we're not being presented with the rosiest scenario in November. Just once, I wish I was surprised.

Endangered Species (Shoot Them With The Bop Gun)

So, is Russia scary enough? Not only is Putin a de facto dictator but it looks like becoming any sort of journalist or muckraker in that country can be dangerous. Is it enough just to question at this point whether Russia is not a democracy but instead a kleptocracy, or should we be asking even more serious questions?

It is more troubling that the man was Armenian and represented an Armenian arts magazine. What would be controversial about that? It's hard to say, but this second death of a foreign journalist in 10 days is starting to make it look like some kind of journalist hunting season.

Lack of Intelligence

So, now I will comment on my other area of expertise: government reform This whole talk of creating an "intellgence czar" is so misguided. For those of you knew to the discussion, Department of Homeland Security is a huge mess . All this talk of reorganizing and recoordinating federal government departments and agencies is a lot harder than it sounds. These places have separate budgets, separate financial management systems, and separate personnel systems, ALL BEFORE you actually get to the missions issue. The notion of having a new intelligence "macro manager" is an excellent concept, but the fact is it's on the ground and at the lower levels where we're having problem. Putting new structures and people on top will not lead to making these agencies work more cohesively together in day to day operations, just in making fancy, glossy new strategic plans. And, as we all know, a plan is a list of things that never happen.

Sure, we need intelligence reform, but all the czars in the world won't help. We need new methods and new interagency programs at the ground level to make this happen, not a shiny new political appointee with no real control over budgets and field agents.

Nader's Corporate Raiders?

Ralph Nader, campaign spoiler or stubborn SOB? How about Republican henchman (You need to sit through a 3-second ad for access)? This third wheel has got to go.

UPDATE: David Broder (one of my media idols) and I apparently share the same perspective.

"A Nation of Cowards"

Apparently, some US senator (still trying to find out who) had the gusto to slam the Philippines when everyone's favorite dictator, Marcos, still reigned supreme. Invoking the quote, yet again, rings true even more today. Thanks Vp.

Arnie Foible

Would you trade political correctness for leadership? Since California maintains an overabundance of PCness, the answer seems obvious.

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

For my first post on this blog, something from the foreign affairs desk. The Gaza debacle has taken a turn for the positive, and it looks like the Palestinian people are finally fed up with Chairman Arafat's nepotism, cronyism, and rascalism. Kicking the security chief out and replacing him with family members sparked protests and more. It also was in reaction to Arafat trying to consolidate security under his power. The Palestinian people have apparently finally grasped the notion that they have to curtail Arafat if they ever want to live with anything besides a dictatorship in Gaza.

Simpsons Character Speaks

Well, not really. An attendee at the NEA's (you know, the teacher's group labeled a 'terrorist organization' by some GOPers) recent conference goes to town on the event and some of its featured speakers. Said attendee, ironically, is a LIFELONG Democrat. When the lifers indict stalwart supporters from the SAME PARTY, something has to be amiss.

Friday, July 16, 2004

WTF LOTR?

A riveting article on the possibility of a LOTR remake.  Professor X as Gandalf?   

Time Constraints

I'm giving up the superhero act.  It's too time-consuming to maintain three blogs on three separate topics all at once.  From here on out, RM won't be restricted to news and politics.  Everything is FAIR GAME.     

Proud to be an American...

...ashamed to be a Filipino.

Where's Rene Russo and Dennis Leary?

John Edwards' White House portrait.



Free Gas

Firestarter and kindler, Jonathan Chait slamming Bush in vicious fashion.

"The reasons why we're here..."

Still undecided? See the following post for pro-Bush arguments. See this one for some good, old-fashioned anti-Bush sentiment. Why not 'pro-Kerry' or 'anti-Kerry'? Because this election isn't about voting in JFK2.  It's about re-electing an administration that was never supposed to be one in the first place or tossing out Dubya and his puppetmaster goons.  Can't you see, I'm acclimating to the propaganda....


Gasping For Breath

Two things: 
 
1.  I removed the initial post on my political stances because in addition to being incomplete, the completed items weren't nuanced enough. 
 
2.  See this post.  The GOP 527s are doing much poorer than expected.  Could it be due to Bush's ridiculous pre-Kerry fundraising pace effectively leaving the well dry during the ramping up of the general election?  Are GOP supporters displaying their disapproval of Dubya (following pre-war intelligence deficiencies, Abu Ghraib and the FMA) with their checkbooks as opposed to polling numbers?  Or could it be the party-in-power syndrome?   


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

But He's Not Afraid of the YMCA

Colin Powell, the Bush administration's (and my) favorite son hates to fly. He validates his disaffection for the jet set with a letter citing the availability and accessibility needs of the President for the Secretary of State on issues of foreign policy. Ironically, statistics show that while Powell travels less than almost all modern day Secretaries of State, George W. Bush travels more than any of the modern day presidents except for daddy.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Brilliant

Even though my disdain for almost anything West Coast coarses through my veins, I find this post to be remarkably interesting with regards to political ramifications. Los Angeles as the 8th largest state in the Union? I believe that would be a harbringer of the end of the world.

Bush Buddies Blasted

First Spain's administration faced defeat in post 3-11 elections. Then Blair's Labour party in Britain experienced some substantial setbacks. Now, Japan's Koizumi is feeling the wrath of anti-Iraq involvement voters.

Thumbs Down From Allen

Possibly a form letter sent from a underpaid office aide:

Dear Mr. C___:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the issue of marriage and a
Federal Marriage Amendment. I appreciate your concerns and want my
position to be very clear.

As a United States Senator, I will support and protect the
traditional, common sense definition of marriage in law as only a legal
union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. While it was
my hope that the existing Defense of Marriage Act could accomplish this
goal, I believe that recent events and future court decisions indicate that a
constitutional amendment is needed to protect the rights of the people
in the States to define the institution of marriage.

To that end, I will vote for a Marriage Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution when the Senate considers one in July.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. If you would
like to receive an e-mail newsletter about my initiatives to improve
America, please sign up on my website (http://allen.senate.gov). It is an honor
to serve you in the United States Senate, and I look forward to working
with you to make Virginia and America a better place to live, learn, work
and raise a family.

With warm regards, I remain

Sincerely,

Senator George Allen


Post 3-11

So it looks like the 300 Spaniards who died on Europe's 9-11 may have died in COMPLETE and utter vain. The new socialist government is not up to task to lead in the post 3-11 world if they do not possess the political fortitude to enact change to minimize if not insure that another 3-11 does not occur. A day often compared to America's 9-11, Europe's 3-11 should have demonstrated the type of threat the Western world is dealing with on the domestic front. But instead of rallying to fight the islamo-fascists, the Spanish proceeded to elect a political party that can't make heads or tails of the greatest security threat of our time.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Rove Needs a Check up, STAT

Has Karl Rove gone to the doctor lately? I'm sure the main man responsible for Dubya's acension to prominence in national politics needs his head to be reexamined. He may be a brilliant political tactician, but read this article to see why I think Rove may be certifiably insane. The American people will see right through you Karl.

J-E-L-L-Oh damn.

ORIGINALLY POSTED on July 5th on Livejournal.com.

Everyone's favorite Jell-O spokesperson, Bill Cosby, displayed his brass cajones yet again. In another searing indictment of the African American community, Cosby points out the failings of its youth, culture, and its leaders who merely cover up for the community's "dirty laundry".

Initially, I didn't know how to react to opinions that actually possess a nugget of truth, but a truth that requires some nuance. Even though I've drifted further to the center/right on the political spectrum, I'm still a firm believer in the culture of poverty, the lasting effects of slavery and segregation, and I continue to support affirmative action. As for my background, I've both been in the grassroots trenches and I've also been the only non-black person in the room to discuss political strategy. But being a non-black person, it's always been a chore for me to discuss sensitive topics with the majority of my black friends.

In the wake of my political and intellectual growth, I've finally begun to draw lines in the sand with regards to issues of civil rights, issues on which I've historically sided with the hard Left. Take rap music for example: Most hip hop music has been overly commercialized to the point that it sounds just like the next Britney song: like a smoldering pile of crap. I still yearn for the classics of old: Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash, Eric B and Rakim, et al, with their socially conscious lyrics, their gritty beats and semi-original hooks. Today's persistent rapping about fast cars, easy women and bling blinging has run its course, yet most of contemporary rap's spotlighted acts continue to promote various negative images. Keep in mind, I don't blame rappers for black America's problems. Musicians typically write with their life experiences in mind, I will acknowledge that.

But Cosby's pointed commentary on black America's adoption of a term typically employed for derogatory ends (the n-word) into their everyday vernacular is spot on. I've never been able to accepts its use, even with the argument that blacks "own" the word and therefore can use it amongst themselves. Give me all the anthropological mumbo jumbo you like, but I no longer buy that argument.

Cosby's indictment of black parents (which should have been an indictment of all American parents) serves as a sobering wake-up call. Ideally, a child's education begins at home. But when that fails, the least we can expect from parents is a glimmer of hope. Parents lead their household just like a general leads his or her troops into battle. Correct me if I'm wrong, but do good generals lead their troops without rallying their spirits, without kindling some can-do, "We can prevail against all odds" attitude, giving them something to fight for? Good generals DO NOT.

We can discuss "external circumstances" all we want, but after all is said and done, it still comes down to one question: It's your life, and your country gives you the freedom to make something of yourself, so what are you going to do? White America may not be giving black parents much of it, but there is more hope today for upward socioeconomic mobility than there was 30 or 40 years ago for blacks, and every other American for that matter.

My problem with many liberals today is their complete lack of optimism. Some think we're stuck between a rock and a hard place on many issues. Agreed, many changes need to be enacted to ensure the continued progress of our country and its citizens. I can point out 5 priorities right now that need readdressing. Yet irrefutable evidence in our history books proves that progress has been made on behalf of black America since the time of Jim Crow, etc. And with proponents like me and many others who support causes important to the progress of black America (which also represents progress for America in general), the black community should not take the successes, maybe minimal in their eyes, for granted. We're here with you in this struggle.

Bill Cosby has done us all a favor for turning the discourse regarding black America on its head. Lets run with this new infusion of energy (good or bad) and come up with some positive solutions to what ails all of us.

John Dirt?

ORIGINALLY POSTED July 7th, 2004 on Livejournal.

Did anyone predict the Edwards-bashing to begin this early? It'd be ludicrous to think it wouldn't.

Before transforming into the consulting powerhouse that I am today, I previously served my post-college sweatshop sentence as a paralegal at Spriggs & Hollingsworth in Washington DC. S&H promotes itself as a boutique law firm specializing in the defense of toxic tort actions, products liability litigation, etc. Saying I served the interests of "the man" wouldn't be too far from the truth as even I was skeptical when I first began work at a law firm whose biggest client was one of the largest pharmaceuticals in the world.

In one of the most dramatic about-faces in my short career, I opted to put law school on the backburner and return to my quantitative roots by becoming a corporate drone like so many of my contemporaries. Luckily, my legal experience was not all for naught especially as it applies to the presidential election. I can't help but identify with this article about John Edwards and how his fortune came about. Plaintiffs lawyers were essentially portrayed as money-grubbing low lifers while I worked at S&H, and I have serious evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, to support that contention. I had hoped that John Edwards was actually a different kind of plaintiff's attorney, on a different level. But alas, there seems to be more than a small bit of evidence to put that dream into doubt.

Soul Control

ORIGINALLY POSTED July 6th on Livejournal.

My soul.

Until today, I thought I'd lost it when I unofficially volunteered for John Kerry's presidential campaign. I felt unfairly forced to settle for one of the worst presidential candidates imaginable. But after today, I can reclaim my soul, along with any iota of pride I have left in the Democratic party. JFK2 chose my "number 2" pick from the primaries, North Carolina senator John Edwards. This decision was a great move for a number of reasons:

1) Dick Cheney will NOT obliterate this election year's vice presidential opponent should a debate occur. Sorry Joe Liebs, but Edwards has the ability to out hustle both you and Cheney any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

2) The Dems now have a fighting chance in the Rust Belt, the Sun Belt and the rest of the mid- and southwest 'belts', which include several battleground states with an abundance of moderates and swing voters. Lets also not forget the Southern battleground states (one of which is now Virginia, three cheers for campaign commercials!) which could very well tip either way. I refuse to vote for third party candidates as a statement of principle this time around.

3) If not already underway, Edwards will force Kerry to create an interlocking theme and message, a lens through which to view all of the campaign's major themes and platform issues. Hopefully Kaus and the Slate folks will finally ease up on the Kerry-bashing and Kerryisms.

4) Edwards possesses energy and style with loads to spare. While anethma to some "substance over style" political purists, Edwards' campaign charms will add appeal to a man generally known for his lack of zang and inability to connect with voters.

My political leanings may be balancing out a bit, but I concluded only recently that Bush deserves to face a regime change of his own. I'm as excited as can be and maybe this year, I won't even complain about not being paid.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Upgrade

Welcome to my official political blog. Most of my initial posts are being copied straight from my livejournal files, mainly because I wanted to devote a blog entirely to the 2004 elections. Apologies for the repetition.

UPDATE: It would be more accurate to label this as an election AND policy blog. Don't be surprised to see commentary on random policy issues, most notably education, transportation, foreign policy and local Virginia/Washington DC topics.