IMHO: Debate a draw

I opted out of "liveblogging" the debate. I figure Instapundit would be on it and linking to others who are on it. So go here and scroll up.

My take: a draw.

Truth in blogging: I'm a Bush supporter but I do try to offer as fair and objective an analysis of things as I can which means stating my point of view and not pretending I don't have one.

Both sides had their message and mission: Sen. Kerry had to be sure to avoid Al Gore's mistakes of being too smart aleck and aggressive. On that front (a personality issue), I think he was successful. Sen. Kerry had to draw differences (a policy issue) from President Bush yet not appear to be pandering to the anti-war voters. On this point, I believe he was less successful.

President Bush is regarded as clear in his positions. But there is sometimes doubt about his grasp of detail in formulating those views and carrying them out going forward. President Bush had to assure the voters he remains up to the job with enough of a grasp of detail (a policy issue). On this, I think he was successful. He also had to respond calmly (a personality issue) to reasonable criticisms on Iraq which I think he was less successful.

Let me elaborate on each point:

Sen. Kerry had to be sure to avoid Al Gore's mistakes of being too smart aleck and aggressive. On that front (a personality issue), I think he was successful.

Indeed, he did quite well on this point. He was respectful and didn't lapse into technobabble. He was able to stay within the time limit constraints. The exchange where the two men praised their families was a good moment that showed that political opponents don't have to be rude. I wish average voters who have a point-of-view could be as charitable to a voter who doesn't share that point-of-view.

Sen. Kerry had to draw differences (a policy issue) from President Bush yet not appear to be pandering to the anti-war voters. On this point, I believe he was less successful.

Kerry faced a real problem given his overheated rhetoric against the war in the past. He had to "thread a needle" of taking the position that he'll do a better job in Iraq than Bush yet retain his credentials as a critic of the war. He was able to point out deficiencies on the post-war Iraq problems. These were probably his most effective moments.

However, on other occasions, he criticized the decision to go to war on Iraq in such a strong way that it was easy to conclude that if he sees it that way, how will he resist the pressure from war critics to pull out of Iraq?

Kerry definitely knew he had to be tough rhetorically on Iraq and the war on terrorists. And on several occasions he said he would kill the terrorists. This needs to be said. But on other occasions his critique of the war on Iraq undercut his more firm pronouncements.

President Bush is regarded as clear in his positions. But there is sometimes doubt about his grasp of detail in formulating those views and carrying them out going forward. President Bush had to assure the voters he remains up to the job with enough of a grasp of detail (a policy issue). On this, I think he was successful.

Bush is not the smoothest speaker but he makes his points. North Korea was one of the more sharp differences on policy. Kerry wanted bilateral talks. Bush wants multi-lateral talks. Sometimes you worry that Bush will get tangled in his words but he clearly explained the need for all the nations in the region to be involved.

Bush also took advantage of the incumbancy in talking about the various world leaders he has had to interact with. This is a far cry from candidate Bush who couldn't name world leaders in an interview pop quiz.

He also had to respond calmly (a personality issue) to reasonable criticisms on Iraq which I think he was less successful.

Here is a case where television is different than radio. I watched the debate and at times they had the split screen format to show reactions to the candidate speaking. On a couple of occasions you got the impression that Bush was annoyed? It wasn't a condescension thing or an anger thing but it wasn't the usual good-nature Bush that is often cited as a positive.

The nearest analogy and it isn't a good one is the Reagan-Carter debate. At times, it seemed President Carter was angry and condescending being the incubant having to defend himself against Reagan whom he probably had little regard for.

The analogy breaks down in that President Bush didn't appear to have the same disdain that Carter felt for Reagan. And Kerry doesn't have the sunny manner of Reagan.

So all in all, a solid performance by both sides. In my book a draw.

I'm sure we will be spun dizzy in the next few days.

Did I just spin my blog audience? Was I "fair and balanced?"

I blog you decide! 8-)

Michele's Musings: Switzerland and "the Lexus and the Olive Tree"

Dear Rene,

You read, "The Lexus and the Olive Tree”" a few years ago like I did.

I can appreciate the thesis of that book more and more each day. You are probably seeing signs in Iraq more related to the “Olive Tree” philosophy. In this post, I will give you my thoughts from a Swiss-perspective.

Basically, every country in the world with a more or less homogenous culture and/or population is under increasing pressure from globalization, more so than in the much more heterogeneous USA where the “Lexus” is almost the only connecting value. Those homogenous countries with strong values on the “Olive Tree” side obviously want to preserve what is precious to them. Switzerland, I have learned, though a very developed country is no exception. There is just the ongoing question of how to blend those different, sometimes contradictory, requirements.

I have the feeling that Switzerland doesn't want to avoid globalization entirely as almost 20% of the people in Switzerland are non-Swiss citizens. Swiss companies export enormous quantities all over the world: $160 Billion worth out of a total GDP of $330 BN in 2003.  Money-laden Swiss companies invest all over the world as well.

But Switzerland stands to lose a lot because to be fit for globalization it needs to be among the best or among the cheapest. Switzerland is neither though the emphasis on quality is still VERY strong and I would say Switzerland needs to preserve this position. In the past, Switzerland was able to produce high-quality goods due to its independent nature and its fairly educated citizens. Today, new skills are necessary like flexibility, risk taking, creativity, innovation, etc. It will take some time for Switzerland to adjust as their society is based on safety-nets and its citizens have become a bit “too comfortable” relying on them.

In addition, as long as Switzerland ranks high on the quality of life scale, its people are more hesitant to sacrifice cultural values for closer integration in the world of globalization. And like everything in Switzerland, it all takes time due to the political process of its flavour of democrazy.


LA Life: Avoiding Parking Tickets

I live in a part of Los Angeles where parking is scare and enforcement aggressive.

Last night, I put my car in a permit 78 street with Tuesday 8-10 AM no parking for street cleaning.

I dashed out of my apartment at 7:57 AM this Tuesday morning to see the white Parking Enforcement vehicle right behind my car... it was probably about 8:02 AM at this point! Drat, this could be my fifth ticket of the year.

One time I got to my car just as the officer pushed the print button on the ticket producing PDA... too late it can't be recalled he said... ring a ding we have a winner: $45 "contribution" to the LA City government.

Whew! He either hadn't started typing in the information into his PDA or hit the print button yet so the Parking Enforcement vehicle started up to pull in behind the other car on the street in front of me. I saw a guy sprinting down the street to this car and the Parking Enforcement officer foiled again pulled his car to the next car down the street where I saw a young woman sprinting to her car!

Poor mister parking enforcement officer, $135 worth of tickets not handed out. But there was other prey to be found in my part of Los Angeles. You can't fight City Hall.

Michele's Musings: The Fall of AT&T Wireless

Hello Telco-Friends,

This really is a good article worth 10 minutes of your time to read.


Rene: I recently left ATTWS because of poor signal strength in my service area.

Hooray for Lance Berkman

The Dodgers managed to win in San Diego. Many game balls to hand out for the victory. The pitching was not great but it was enough. Ishii managed to escape some early inning troubles but eventually ran out of gas in the 5th but by then the Dodgers had a big lead. But key was some great defense and finally some offense.

Meanwhile, up in SF, the Giants were on their way to a win until Berkman hit a 3-run HR to take the lead in the top of the 9th.

So as it is, the Dodgers are up 1 1/2 game with 10 to go. Six are against the Giants!

Go Dodgers!

Troops to Darfur Sudan?

It may finally happen. The African Union may send some troops but they are asking the West and the UN for logistical help.

Money quote:

The African Union is ready to send 4,000 to 5,000 troops "very soon — within days, weeks," African Union Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare told The Associated Press.

But Konare said movement depends on logistical help from "Europe, America and the United Nations especially."

So far, he said, there has been just talk about assistance.

"Sometimes people speak big, but when it is time to give big, they are not willing," Konare said.

Will the USA and some other nations step up to the plate? We always hear the phrase, "Never again." Yet, it has happened time and again.

Can Iraq be won? Two views.

Went to RCP to see their latest op-ed roundup.

Here is an item that says we should stay.

Here says it is Vietnam all over again.

Excerpts from the latter:

The United States is "losing" in Iraq, literally losing territory and population to the other side. Careful readers of the leading newspapers may know this, but I doubt most voters do. How could they, given the martial self-congratulations of the President and relative restraint from his opponent? High-minded pundits tell us not to dwell on the long-ago past. But the cruel irony of 2004 is that Vietnam is the story. The arrogance and deceit--the utter waste of human life, ours and theirs--play before us once again. A frank discussion will have to wait until after the election.
I remember how well General Westmoreland articulated the strategy back in the 1960s, when war's progress was measured by official "body counts" and reports on "new" fighting forces on the way.

But this time Washington decided the United States couldn't wait for "Iraqization," a strategy that might sound limp-wristed to American voters. The US bombing and assaults quickly resumed. The Bush White House is thus picking targets and second-guessing field commanders, just as Lyndon Johnson did forty years ago in Indochina. Bush is haunted by the mordant remark a US combat officer once made in Vietnam: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."

Meanwhile, Bush's war is destroying the US Army, just as LBJ's war did. After Vietnam, military leaders and Richard Nixon wisely abolished the draft and opted for an all-volunteer force. When this war ends, the volunteer army will be in ruins and a limited draft lottery may be required to fill out the ranks.

In the other article, the author says we need to stay the course. Excerpt:
... the daily televised fare from Iraq is little more than fist-shaking militants full of ingratitude, if not hatred, toward the United States, mixed with RPGs and suicide bombings.

Yet leaving unilaterally from Iraq would be a tragic mistake. We have already done something like that before -- many times. What rippled out afterwards was not pretty. American helicopters flying off the embassy roof in Saigon in 1975 gave us the climate for the Soviets in Afghanistan, Communists in Central America, and embassy hostage-taking in Tehran. Ignoring murders in Lebanon, New York, East Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, or lobbing an occasional cruise missile as tit-for-tat payback when terrorists harvested one too many expendable Americans abroad, ensured us September 11. In our loony world, losing credible deterrence (and we would) is an invitation for disaster -- as bin Laden himself illustrated when he logically thought that the toppling of the World Trade Center would be followed by another Black Hawk Down American pullback.

Leaving Afghanistan to its own misery after the Soviet retreat, not going to Baghdad in 1991, turning boats around from Haiti, or quietly ducking out of Mogadishu all were less messy in the short term, but in the long term left even greater chaos. The ultimate wages were the Taliban, 350,000 sorties for over a decade above Iraq, the current mess in the Caribbean, and terrorist havens and worse in Africa. We forget how often in history a perceived stumble or the half-measure only emboldens enemies to try what they otherwise would not.

In contrast, on those occasions when we have shown the patience to stay engaged after victory -- in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Panama, or the Balkans -- there was less chance that Americans would be left with either perpetual autocratic enemies or terrorist sanctuaries.

We also have a moral stake in Iraq, whose people have suffered from 30 years of Baathist state terror and terrible fatalities in three losing wars. Our defeat of Iraq in 1991, our subsequent abandonment of the Kurds and Shiites to a wounded Saddam Hussein, twelve years of occupying Iraqi airspace, the corrupt U.N. embargo, and the recent final defeat of the Baathists brought untold misery to the Iraqi people.

In contrast, for the last year and a half, the United States has paid a high price to ensure the Iraqis a chance for the first humane and civilized government in the entire Arab Middle East. If it was callous to abandon the Shiites and Kurds in 1991, it is certainly right now to ensure that Saddam's gulag is not superseded by either a Taliban theocracy or a Lebanon-like cesspool.
slamic fascists are now fighting openly and losing battles, and are increasingly desperate as they realize the democratization process slowly grinds ahead leaving them and what they have to offer by the wayside. Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and others must send aid to the terrorists and stealthy warriors into Iraq, for the battle is not just for Baghdad but for their futures as well. The world's attention is turning to Syria's occupation of Lebanon and Iran's nukes, a new scrutiny predicated on American initiatives and persistence, and easily evaporated by a withdrawal from Iraq. So by taking the fight to the heart of darkness in Saddam's realm, we have opened the climactic phase of the war, and thereupon can either win or lose far more than Iraq.
Amid the daily car bombings in Iraq, murder in Russia, and slaughter in the Middle East, we cannot see much hope — but it is there, and we are winning on a variety of fronts as the world continues to shrink for the Islamic fascist and those who would abet him.

Existence of God: Wish fulfillment?

I managed to set my VCR for the PBS show, Existence of God and watched about 1/2 of it tonight.

Very thought provoking.

The format of the show is to follow the life of Freud (who was an atheist) and Lewis (who was an atheist who became a Christian). After an episode in the life of Freud and Lewis is shown in drama/documentry fashion, a round table of people talk about the issue at hand.

One commonly held view is that God is really created in our image: we have this childish wish for a God.

Interestingly, one panelist said, well, does wishing for something tell you anything at all about the reality or non-reality of the thing wished for?

And then there was this comment, what if there really is a God and God put that wish and desire within us?

Very thought provoking.

How about it readers?

As a theist who believes in Christ, I find this discussion right on target.

We all have a God shaped place in our life.

We try to fill it with all sorts of stuff but there is this longing for something more than "stuff."

Hence, Jesus uses parables to explain things. One notable one is "the living water." Jesus talks to the outcast Samaritan Woman at the well and tells her she is really looking for living water i.e. God.

The atheists dismisses a desire for god as a childhood wish.

But what if we desire god much like we need water?

Our wishing for it can be evidence for its reality?

Dodgertown: Panic City?

The Dodgers have now dropped 4 of the last 5 and haven't scored a run in 17 innings.

The starting rotation is a shambles.

Beltre has cooled off. Werth is injured. Bradley has been in a funk. Green is becoming the new Eric Karros of the Dodgers. You can almost always pencil in an out for the catcher's slot with Mayne or Ross.

About the only thing that is still sort of normal is the bullpen. Considering that Mota (traded), Martin (traded) and Dreifort (injured) are gone, the "no name" bullpen still goes on with Brazoban, Carrara, Sanchez, Venefro and Stewart. The only big name is Gagne and he doesn't have much to do now that the Dodgers are losing games.

Last night, in post-game Dodger talk, host, A. Martinez asked, "Is it time to panic yet?"

Well, with only 2 1/2 games on the Giants, I think so!

Of course it is better to be 2 1/2 games up rather than 2 1/2 games behind like they were in previous seasons.

What I'm listening to...

Love my iTunes.

I have Ordinary World by Duran Duran playing.

Haunting sound and lyrics. I seem to be drawn to those kinds of songs.

If you haven't been able to catch the lyrics as you hear it on the radio, here are some...

Came in from a rainy Thursday on the avenue
Thought I heard you talking softly
I turned on the lights, the TV and the radio
Still I can't escape the ghost of you

What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some'd say
Where is the life that I recognize?
Gone away
Passion or coincidence once prompted you to say
"Pride will tear us both apart"
Well now pride's gone out the window cross the rooftops
Run away left me in the vacuum of my heart

What is happening to me?
Crazy, some'd say
Where is my friend when I need you most?
Gone away
Obviously a song about love lost.

Am not in a love lost mood tonight - there have been those sleepless nights and tearful mornings - not tonight, but am in a reflective mood. And so for all two (?) of you out there who will read this blog post sometime in the next three hours, I suppose maybe we can relate.

Rather than the lost love motif, I'm haunted by the refrain:
But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive
Have that feeling. Have that feeling where ordinary would be nice. No, not the end of my world here, not even close, not even a 6 on the scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is deepest darkest sadness. As they sing in the song Ours is just a little sorrowed talk compared to the grand scale of sadness and sorrow in the world. Perspective remains, sort of. The world waits for the Lord's coming. What we regard as slowness God regards as patience and mercy.

What is this feeling?

Just a wistful feeling... there is newer world not quite here yet but we get tastes. Just a nagging feeling... that knowledge that sweeps over me now and then... that knowing that the world isn't the way it ought to be.

No worries. Tomorrow is another day. Over and out. And good-night where ever you are in the blogosphere.

3 years after 9/11

A part of me says, it is time to move on. But a part of me says, no, we have to continue to remember.

Last year, I started a blog with my good friend, Kari. Our blog had just started then and we remembered 9/11 here and here.

Glenn Reynolds is of two minds also but did post. He remarks, One day, I suppose, these images will be like the images of the exploding Hindenburg, or woodcuts of the Chicago fire: historical, without much power to move people. We're not there yet. And we won't be, for quite a while.

Today, as I post, I went to volunteer in Los Angeles to serve food to the poor, I'll swing by the lab to take care of some things and in the evening it will be a guy's night at the ballpark. I would imagine at the stadium there maybe a moment of silence or some other kind of simple way to remember the lost and honor their memory.

For this blog post, I'll direct you to some photos I took of New York 11 years ago when the Towers stood tall. They maybe gone but what makes America great are the people of the city of New York and for that matter the people throughout our great and blessed land.

Sold OUT - all LA Dodger NLDS tix snapped up

Well, I opted to try to get the tix via internet and by phone rather than go to the Stadium box office.

By the time I got through on the phone at 3:30pm.... the sales rep reported that all tickets were sold out!

Prior to getting through on the phone I periodically tried the internet option. That was also unsuccessful as I kept getting the page that said, you are in the "virtual waiting room" and then when I got past that, I got error messages saying due to high demand we cannot process your request.

Oh well. Live and learn. When it comes to sales of hot tickets like this: GO TO THE TICKET OFFICE!

If the Dodgers survive the first round and tickets go on sale for the NLCS, I hope I'll be able to go to the ticket office!

Guest blogger

Below this post is the first of what I hope will be periodic posts from half-way around the world!

I met Michele during my Washington DC life. Since those days, I've moved to SF and LA while she has moved to HK, NY, OC, SF, OC and now Switzerland!

We have been able to stay in touch and stay friends through the digital link that emails and cyberspace affords.

Her features will be titled Michele's Musings.

So dear gentle readers, please welcome Michele to the blog!

Michele's Musings: Summertime in Switzerland

I was in the Alps a few days ago for a very traditional event. The farmers celebrate the "Alpabzug" every Autumn when they bring their cattle down from the Alps for the winter months. They dress up in traditional clothing as the farmers and their sons celebrate coming down from the mountains and entering back into the little village. They spend most of their time up in the Alps during the Summer and don't have contact with ordinary life. It is amazing that this tradition is still held over all these years but Switzerland is very good at holding on to the past! I often feel as if I live in a "paradise" where "time stands still."

Breakfast in the Alps!

Russia under attack

Two passengers blown up. A massacre at a school. The terrorists are at war with the world. What can the Russians do?

Postrel cites an item she saw over at Belmont Club. Excerpts:

America's unmatched power allowed President Bush to select the most humane course of war available. No European power, nor all of them put together, could have embarked on such a precise campaign for lack of means. It was a rich man's strategy, a guerre de luxe.

But no one who has seen the rags and hodgepodge of equipment issued to the Russian Special Forces can entertain any illusion that Vladimir Putin can go around launching raids with hi-tech helicopters, or follow around perps with robotic drones before firing, or use satellite-guided bombs to wipe out enemy safe houses that have been seeded with RFID chips. Nor will those detained by Russia gain weight the way detainees have done at the "inhuman" Gitmo prison. That's an American way of war which even Europeans can only regard with envy. The poor must respond with less.

Frum has these observations. Excerpts:

Who doubts that al Qaeda would have liked to carry out an attack like this on American soil if they could?
The Chechens had a once-good cause – a much better cause for example than the Palestinians or even the Kashmiris. But their cause has been infiltrated and hijacked by Islamist extremists, and the world must demand that Chechen nationalists repudiate both the ideology and the vicious methods of the Islamic extremists. Independence movements that commit such atrocities lose all moral standing, no matter how sympathetic the origins of those movements.

I hate to be morbid but what is going on in the minds of Al-Qaeda?

If they want Sen. Kerry to win, they should "take a vacation." I don't see the US public turning Bush out if they perceive that the danger is still present.

Al-Qaeda only cares about killing and destroying. I don't think they even care who is President of the USA. They would attack whenever they have the chance regardless of the consequences.

the single life, part II

Another delightful thirtysomething female writer on the internet I have a "blog crush" on is Camerin Courtney.

In a recent essay she asked the question, "Is Singleness a Sin?"


In a moment of melodrama a couple years ago, I joked with a single friend that at times voices within Christendom have been so silent or so judgmental about singleness, that I suspected they thought the s-i-n at the beginning of the word was no mistake.

Now, unfortunately, one Christian leader has made that bit of humor-laced conspiracy theory a reality. At Joshua Harris's New Attitude Conference for singles this past January, Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said:
"I'm going to speak of the sin I think besets this generation. It is the sin of delaying marriage as a lifestyle option among those who intend someday to get married, but they just haven't yet. This is a problem shared by men and women, but it's a problem primarily of men."

Well, how about that? As a guy, the zinger hits a bit closer to home to me.

As is often the cause, advocates of a point of view tend to simplify and though there is some truth in Mohler's remarks, I think it is a bit more complicated than that.

Anyway, Camerin speaks her mind:

Dr. Mohler seems to imply that singles today aren't taking marriage seriously enough. In his talk and in Rainey and Lepine's response on the radio, they chastised singles for their passivity in not making marriage a greater priority. Sure, singles today are taking a good, hard look at marriage prospects before settling down—sometimes too much so. As we've been talking about here in recent weeks, we're often guilty of taking too good and hard a look at dating prospects before even going out for dinner or a movie. Yes, the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of caution and fear when it comes to romantic interests.

But let's look at the factors to which the caution is a reaction. We're the first generation of the no-fault divorce. Many of today's singles have lived with the consequences of young, perhaps-not-so-well-thought-through marriages of generations before. So of course many single people today are a bit gun-shy about entering an institution they saw, from a front-row seat, fail. We're also renegotiating romantic relationships in light of recent gender role shifts in our society. Others still are healing from their own divorce, coping with widowhood, rethinking relationships after becoming a Christian later in life, or simply waiting for a healthy, God-honoring mate possibility to enter the picture.
So singleness as sin? No way! If the reasons for delaying marriage truly are selfishness, childishness, and a purposeful denying of God's will, as Mohler, Rainey, and Lepine assert, then those things are the sins—not the resulting singleness. And throwing around the s-word like that, especially toward a group of individuals who already sometimes feel devalued by the church, our families, and sometimes even ourselves, seems not only unscriptural but also irresponsible.

I'm sure in some cases, the choice of singleness is truly a gift from God. We can think of St. Paul. And of course, the life of Jesus, despite the nonsense being propagated by Dan Brown in "The Da Vinci Code."

And I'm sure in some cases, the choice of singleness is selfishness (one of the best definitions of sinfulness) and some men (mostly) and women prefer to jump from relatioinship to relationship leaving behind a wake of broken hearts and dreams.

And in some cases, there is psychological baggage having grown up in a broken home or other emotional trauma in youth or early adulthood. In this case, it is more of a case of singleness due to brokenness more than sinfulness. Afterall, some can run a mile in 6 minutes but most can't. And those with a broken leg, sprained ankle or whatever else, will have a lot harder time covering the distance.

If we are all psychologically healthy (or close to it) I would imagine marriage would be more prevalent. But many of us (this writer included) have "baggage" that is being dealt with.

Some of my friends have gotten married and I'm happy for them and they share how God works on their baggage in the marriage.

Then there are me and my friends who aren't married and want to be. The baggage sits there perhaps scaring off potential marriage partners? So those of us who call upon Jesus, beg and plead for God to heal us. And, you know, healing does take place but not always at the speed we wish it. And in my mind if healing takes place partly by getting married, I say, "YAHOO!" But if healing takes place while I'm single, I will not be ungrateful for that grace from God.

the single life, part I

Every couple of weeks I drop by Sherry's blog... and these two recent posts stand out to me today...

"Always a bridesmaid" resonated with me in that I am keenly aware that as time goes by my single friends are and will be getting married off and finding new single friends will be an ongoing challenge.

I scrolled through my cell phone listings. A few singles here and there but not among my closest friends, at least not the ones who are local. And not many among my outer circle, either. Good heavens, I've become one of those people.

In "Once Upon a Time" she wistfully remembers a weekend she spent with an intriguing man.

We didn't know one another very well or have too much in common but we liked being together and we laughed and pointed things out to each other and leaned into one another while we walked. We ate Krispy Kreme donuts. There was a gingko tree on the street outside his little brownstone and as I left I tucked a leaf from there into my journal to remind me of the sense of magic you can sometimes get from visiting someone else's world, just for a weekend.

Hmmm.... such sweet memories. I found myself thinking about "practice" dates. Each one is delightful and memorable in its own way. Sure it would have been nice if one of these little episodes had marked the beginnings of a relationship that led to the love of my life. But as it is, I can relate to Sherry's "sense of magic" about these self-contained encounters with a fellow soul traveling in the journey of life.

Read the fine print in polls

Drudge is linking to this poll which claims Bush has a 54-43 lead on Kerry.

The problem with the poll?

374 Republicans (plus or minus 6)
303 Democrats (plus or minus 6)
300 Independents (plus or minus 6)

The sample has a LOT more Republicans which I don't think is reflective of the country at large.

LA isn't a football town

The Raiders and Rams have long left the area and for many years. UCLA had a couple of good seasons but otherwise have been pretty much out of it. Last season USC had a good run to the national title and they are favored to do so again.

As a UCLA alum, I follow the team. Today, I have the radio on and they are playing against Ok State. The guy on the radio says the O-line of Ok State has about a 60 pound average edge over the defensive line of UCLA. It shows. OK State is making the defense look like swiss cheese. The score is 21-14 and the half isn't even over and Ok State has the ball again and they are marching to score again.

At this rate, it will be a blowout. UCLA's only chance will be to force some turnovers on defense and hope for some big plays on special teams and offense to score. A grind it out game means the Bruins will be turned into mashed potatos.

Dodgers shut out 3-0

A loss is a loss but at least it wasn't 13-0. Lima only giving up 3 runs in 7 innings is a good outing considering how many big bats the Cards have. But unfortunately, the Dodgers only manged 2 hits the whole game.

We shall see how the next two games go. If the Dodgers can take at least 1 game and be competitive in the other, they have to feel good about their prospects.

Live blogging the final night of the GOP convention

Here is the released text of the upcoming speech.

Wonder if any other speaker has used the speaker in the round set up for an acceptance speech?

Bush opened up with thanks to family.

He moved next to a simple recollection of 9/11.

Bush is now moving onto economic issues.

It is a bit of a laundry list and short on details. In particular is the commission on tax code simplification. Sounds good but can you give us a peak at what is on the table? Flat tax? Sales tax?

Now, he is onto health care. He is talking insurance portability and medical malpractice lawsuit reforms.

Okay, so this is being folded into this notion of the "Ownership Society." It is about owning your health care, home and retirement plan and having more control over your life.

Transitioning to education.

Bush uses Spanish to say, "We will leave no child behind."

Next up is health care for children.

This speech is turning into a bit of a State of the Union laundry list.

He gives a brief counter-punch at Sen. Kerry.

He is now hitting the hot button social issues. He mentions protecting the unborn and protecting the institution of marriage.

Bush is seizing on the conservative values theme and pointing out that Sen. Kerry isn't a conservative.

Bush is now back on the war on the terrorists and restates his determination.

The camera has panned over to apparently the security people pulling somebody out of the auditorium. What the heck? What kind of security do they have here?

It is happening again. Another demonstrator is being ushered off.

I suppose they can get in but as long as they don't carry anything dangerous.

Bush is talking the future of Afghanistan and Iraq and the hope of democracy over in those lands.

He now speaks directly to the soldiers and their families and thanks them for their sacrifice in liberating the oppressed peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is that famed I voted for and then against the $87 billion Kerry flip-flop.

Bush thanks the world leaders who have supported the liberation of Iraq and chides Sen. Kerry for saying they are the coalition of the bribed.

The theme now is on liberty and freedom throughout the world and thus making all safer.

Some self-effacing humor about his mangling of English, the swagger which Texans call walking and then his straight talk which he thanked his mother for.

Now, he is speaking movingly of the military families he has met and extols the character of the American people.

He tips his hat to the New Yorkers: here buildings fell, here a nation rose.

"To everything we know there is a season — a time for sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding. And now we have reached a time for hope. This young century will be liberty's century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America — and tonight, in this place, that dream is renewed. Now we go forward — grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and confident in the future of the greatest nation on earth. God bless you, and may God continue to bless America."

Instant analysis: A "B" effort. Bush is most moving speaking about the stakes of the war against the terrorists and linking the progress of liberty abroad to security at home. His jabs against Sen. Kerry were perhaps a little bit much but certainly nothing like the fire and ice of Zell Miller and VP Cheney last night. The domestic part was a bit cut and pasted. The "Ownership Society" theme could have been more clearly announced.

Can the Dodgers do it?

It has been a few years since there has been this much excitment over the Dodgers. The true blue fans have been riding the rollar coaster for a few months now and are feeling some hope and anticipation.

I think the city's casual fans haven't gotten on board yet. When they do, will the town be as excited about baseball as they have been about the Lakers?

If you are a fan you know they are 5 1/2 games in front of the Giants and 6 up on the Padres and that Dodger playoff tickets go on sale on September 10, the Friday after tomorrow.

If you are a casual fan, wake up and join the bandwagon!

Anyway, I won't be showing up at the ballpark for the lottery but I'll try from the internet to snare some tickets.

Friday/Saturday/Sunday contests against St. Louis will be a huge test of the Dodgers. Skeptics have been thinking the Dodgers have been beating up on the NL West but won't stand up against the best of the rest. Right now the Cardinals are definitely getting the buzz of those who are looking for a team to root for against the Yankees as the road to the MLB championship gets near the end.

Live blogging Cheney's speech

Very low key. Must be intentional. Don't want to appear rabid while he is slicing up Kerry. And it shows that he isn't out for 2008 and carving his own place.

He is tearing Sen. Kerry limb from limb... a Senator can be wrong for 20 years without consequence... OUCH!

UPDATE: Instapundit is live blogging and agrees Cheney is quiet. He liked Zell Miller. Unfortunately, I missed that speech!

UPDATE: David Brooks on Newshour is saying Cheney's speech comes across like how he talks in person in an interview. As Brooks puts it, he doesn't do showmanship.

UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge is live blogging and here is what Bainbridge thinks of Zell Miller's speech and there is more and still more.

UPDATE: Here are Cheney's remarks on USAToday.


People tell me that Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks, his sex appeal, and his great hair. I say to them — how do you think I got the job?
Since I last spoke to our national convention, Lynne and I have had the joy of seeing our family grow. We now have a grandson to go along with our three wonderful granddaughters, and the deepest wish of my heart and the object of all my determination is that they, and all of America's children, will have lives filled with opportunity ... and that they will inherit a world in which they can live in freedom, in safety, and in peace.
The President's opponent is an experienced senator. He speaks often of his service in Vietnam, and we honor him for it. But there is also a record of more than three decades since. And on the question of America's role in the world, the differences between Senator Kerry and President Bush are the sharpest, and the stakes for the country are the highest. History has shown that a strong and purposeful America is vital to preserving freedom and keeping us safe — yet time and again Senator Kerry has made the wrong call on national security.
In his years in Washington, John Kerry has been one of a hundred votes in the United States Senate — and very fortunately on matters of national security, his views rarely prevailed. But the presidency is an entirely different proposition. A senator can be wrong for 20 years, without consequence to the nation. But a president — a president — always casts the deciding vote. And in this time of challenge, America needs — and America has — a president we can count on to get it right.
Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. It makes the whole thing mutual — America sees two John Kerrys.
The other candidate in this race is a man our nation has come to know, and one I've come to admire very much. I watch him at work every day. I have seen him face some of the hardest decisions that can come to the Oval Office — and make those decisions with the wisdom and humility Americans expect in their president. George W. Bush is a man who speaks plainly and means what he says. He is a person of loyalty and kindness — and he brings out these qualities in those around him. He is a man of great personal strength — and more than that, a man with a heart for the weak, and the vulnerable, and the afflicted.
George W. Bush saw this country through grief and tragedy ... he has acted with patience, and calm, and a moral seriousness that calls evil by its name. In the great divide of our time, he has put this nation where America always belongs: against the tyrants of this world, and on the side of every soul on earth who yearns to live in freedom.

Zell Miller transcript.


And I know that's how you feel about your family also.

Like you, I think of their future, the promises and the perils they will face.

Like you, I believe that the next four years will determine what kind of world they will grow up in.

And like you, I ask which leader is it today that has the vision, the willpower and, yes, the backbone to best protect my family?

The clear answer to that question has placed me in this hall with you tonight. For my family is more important than my party.

There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their future and that man's name is George Bush.
What has happened to the party I've spent my life working in? I can remember when Democrats believed that it was the duty of America to fight for freedom over tyranny.

It was Democratic President Harry Truman who pushed the Red Army out of Iran, who came to the aid of Greece when Communists threatened to overthrow it, who stared down the Soviet blockade of West Berlin by flying in supplies and saving the city.

Time after time in our history, in the face of great danger, Democrats and Republicans worked together to ensure that freedom would not falter. But not today.
Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home.

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.
They don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy.

It is not their patriotism - it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking. They claimed Carter's pacifism would lead to peace.

They were wrong.

They claimed Reagan's defense buildup would lead to war.

They were wrong.
Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts.
This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?
George Bush wants to grab terrorists by the throat and not let them go to get a better grip. From John Kerry, they get a "yes-no-maybe" bowl of mush that can only encourage our enemies and confuse our friends.

I first got to know George Bush when we served as governors together. I admire this man. I am moved by the respect he shows the First Lady, his unabashed love for his parents and his daughters, and the fact that he is unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to America.

I can identify with someone who has lived that line in "Amazing Grace," "Was blind, but now I see," and I like the fact that he's the same man on Saturday night that he is on Sunday morning.

He is not a slick talker but he is a straight shooter and, where I come from, deeds mean a lot more than words.

I have knocked on the door of this man's soul and found someone home, a God-fearing man with a good heart and a spine of tempered steel.

The man I trust to protect my most precious possession: my family.

Wow! This is a Democrat praising Bush!

Whoa!! What a thrashing he is giving Sen. Kerry!!

Electoral Vote Web Page

Check this out for the latest electoral college breakdown.

Speaking of the electoral college. Many years ago I read a short little paperback that explained the system and largely defended it. I'm sure newer books have been written about the system pro and con.

I'm dusting off my memory of what I read in that book and here was how they defended the electoral college.

(1) The US has benefited from the political stability of the two-party system. In popular vote models, the role of minor party candidates could prove disruptive. If people think politics in the USA is "Balkanized" now, imagine how it would be if minor party candidates can horse trade their voters in a popular vote system. As it is now, minor party candidates almost never get electoral votes and thus their impact is minimized.

Some will say Nader cost Gore the election. Possibly so. He got 2.88 million votes nationally. If there was a popular vote system, imagine if Nader on October 15 approached the major candidates and said, "I have a deal for you. If you give me X, Y, Z then I'll drop out of the race and tell my voters to support you." Admittedly, Nader's ego was so big he wouldn't have done it but what if in the future we go to a popular vote system and the minor party candidate is willing to make deals?

(2) The electoral college also prevents politicians from catering exclusively to urban voters. If the goal is just to get the most votes then candidates would only visit states with lots of voters and run ads in major media markets. This would result in a politics that caters to large population centers i.e. big cities and counties.

Take a look at the 2000 map. Bush carried only three "big" states: Texas, Florida and Ohio. Gore carried five: California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Michigan.

A popular vote system would drive the politicians to the big states and the big media markets. And we all know what kind of politics dominate big cities? The "fly-over" part of America would be ignored!

Would any politician go out to New Mexico or Iowa?

But if Iowa and New Mexico's electoral votes matter then politicans go out there.

In the end, politicans will never view all 50 states equally in terms of campaign value. But with the electoral college system, a mix of big states and small states will get visited.

(3) Changing the system would have unintended consequences like the ones mentioned and who knows what other ones. One scenario would be Florida-like recounts in all 50 states in a close election!! I'm sure imaginative people could come up with more.

In any case, the system has given a winner without popular vote victory very rarely (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000) and the country did NOT fall apart. As the old saying goes: if it ain't broke why fix it.

Heading into the October international break

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