Friday, August 24, 2007

Is Romney a Major Candidate?

Apparently not according to My Way News . The article notes that Hilary Clinton has a favorable rating of 55% - "the lowest of all major candidates." But according to the same article, Mitt Romney's favorable rating is 54%.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bleak Bleak House

I finished Bleak House. What a chore! Pure Dickens - long and convoluted, with characters who come and go while not a lot happens. I am not sure why Dickens is considered by many to be great literature. At times he is great satire, but certainly not literature in the mold of Conrad or Steinbeck. And no one really reads his books to conclusion anyway - unless they have a masochistic streak like me. Proof? The first copy of Bleak House I got from the library was missing 35 pages (about pp. 700-735) out of 1000. I returned it to the library and they got me a copy from another branch - same edition. It had pp. 700-735, but was missing 735-770. finally the library got me a third copy - a different edition, and that is the one I just finished. But, back to my point of Dickens as unread. If anyone had actually read to page 700 of the editions of Bleak House I was reading, they would have returned them and the library would have removed them from circulation. Since they were still in circulation - no one had read that far.

It reminds me of a contest wherein you had to submit "the worst opening sentence of a novel never read." The organizers thought they would only recieve made-up quotes from non-existent novels. But a friend of mine sent in the first sentence of George Eliot's Middlemarch. He didn't win, but he should have.

Defending Andrew

I'm sure he doesn't need my help, but I thought I'd comment on the Right's dislike of its past ally, Andrew Sullivan . There is a common meme in the conservative blogosphere that Sullivan has "lost it." For example, in yesterday's Corner, Victor Davis Hanson rips Andrew . Money quote:

I used to think Sullivan was perhaps unstable, but not necessarily dense. But I fear that he is increasingly both-or more still.
But, as far as I can tell, the only change in Andrew over the past few years is his opinion of the Bush Administration. He supported the invasion of Iraq, and has now admitted it was a mistake - mostly due to the incompetence of the Bush White House. He has taken a very strong stand against torture. But that is not a change, as it wasn't an issue before the war. His view on gay marriage has not changed a whit. In essence, the Right has decided Andrew is unhinged simply because he now disagrees with them on their relatively blind support of Bush.

Some point out how he has contradicted himself in various posts, or, as in the case of Hanson , allegedly mischaracterized another's opinion. As for the former argument, blogs are not journalistic bastions of consistency. As I think Andrew would agree, they are a running commentary of one person's thoughts. Hell, tomorrow I might think Andrew has "lost it." As for the latter claims, so what? Maybe Andrew read it incorrectly; maybe the author wrote it poorly. So it goes. People misinterpret and misunderstand eachother all the time. You correct them (or yourself) and move on. there is no need to claim someone is stupid or crazy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where to Get News

In a comment below, Annie asks a good question. In this world of partisan "news" and metanews, where to go for information. I can only say where I go. First, I read the Washington Post Op-Ed page. Then I read articles I can find in there. I look to various blogs to link to interesting articles, usually Andrew Sullivan, The Plank, and The Corner. I think they all have interesting views of the war, and find very disparate reports.

It is very important, however, to know your source - so that you can gauge how big that grain of salt should be. It is very clear where Andrew, TNR and National Review are coming from. Other outlets are less obvious. Conservatives will point to the NYT, and they have a point. I have recently been intrigued by the musings of Bill Sammon over at the Examiner. Take a look at this hard hitting piece. (Note the sole source). And this. And look at this beauty. The first three paragraphs tell you all you need to know.

Democratic presidential candidates are straying further from centrist policies than their Republican counterparts, which could make it harder for them to win over moderates next year.
“On national security, they’ve definitely moved farther to the left,” said Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein, a former
aide to centrist Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the former Democrat who is now an independent. “And that’s troubling.”
By contrast, the Republican candidates have hewed more closely to the center, drawing criticism from some party
activists that they are not conservative enough. GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani, for instance, supports abortion, gay rights and gun control.

Notice the Democratic strategist is a former aide to that reknowned liberal, Joseph Lieberman. And what the heck does he mean that the Republican candidates "have hewed more closely to the center.?" All I have seen is Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson try desparately to run away from their more moderate past views, and Rudy hasn't exactly been playing up his anti-gun, pro-choice, pro-gay rights views. Hell, the big issue has often been who has been more pro-life, and for how long.

Anyway, my point is - there is a ton of info out there. You just have to know who is supplying it and what that source is trying to make you think.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Surging towards Oblivion?

You might have noticed that there are numerous reports recently that the surge is having some success. See, e.g., here, and here. But "success" to what end? As Carl Levin said yesterday, "The purpose of the surge, by its own terms, was to have the — give the opportunity to the Iraqi leaders to reach some political settlements. They have failed to do that. They have totally and utterly failed." At, W Zip takes umbrage at Senator Levin's comment. But I have some questions? If the surge was not meant to set the conditions for a political settlement, what was its purpose? Was it to get Al-Qaeda of Iraq out of Anbar and arm the Sunni militias there? Was it to secure Baghdad for the sake of securing Baghdad?

In March of this year, General Petraeus himself said that there was no military solution to the problem of the Iraqi insurgency. Therefore, the military progress we are all hearing of now is, by the commanding General's own terms, not a solution. So I must assume from all this optimism we are hearing, that there is significant political progress. What? There isn't any?

Look, we have seen that after four and a half years of foreign control in Basra, the Iraqis will start killing eachother as soon as we leave. And that is without a large Sunni population. What makes anyone think that after a year, two years, three years of foreign control over Baghdad, the same won't happen when we leave, whenever we leave. Proponents of remaining in Iraq under the current conditions must have a reason to believe that the chaos they are so worried about if the US leaves now will not happen if we leave some unknown time in the future. Is there any evidence of this? I think Basra suggests exactly the opposite.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Me Generally

Some background on my views. I am definitely left of center. I did not vote for George Bush, nor did I support the invasion of Iraq. I wake up on some days wondering whether my country is moving in entirely the wrong direction. But the current approval ratings of W give me hope. I am against the death penalty, although I recognize that it is constitutional. I believe in the strict separation of church and state (In other words, I was not horrified by the Pledge of Allegiance case). I am a believer in a social safety net within reason. I do not think we should measure the success of our society by its GNP. I love the Red Sox, which makes me something of a cynic. I am currently reading the biography of William Henry Harrison as the ninth installment of my project to read biographies of the Presidents in chronological order (Question: do I read two biographies of Grover Cleveland? Are there two biographies of Grover Cleveland?). I am also finishing up Bleak House by Charles Dickens. It has been a long hard slog - but I am pot committed, only 40 pages to go. More later . . .


Welcome to my blog! This blog is meant to let me comment on the issues of the day, and let those who care (all two or three of them) know what's on my mind. Normally, my posts will relate to politics and current events. But I certainly expect a couple of Red Sox posts to find their way in. A special thanks to Debra at for giving me the idea and guidance to undertake this experiment. Thank you for your support.