Tuesday, November 30, 2004

This is the article that I was looking for a few weeks ago when I was talking about Arlington and our neighborhood.

Here's the most interesting part:

The gold standard for residential development near transit stations is Arlington
County, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., urban planners say.
In the 1970s, Arlington decided to concentrate development along its 3-mile
subway route to maintain the character of suburban neighborhoods. That was novel
and controversial at the time.

But the results are impressive: 35,000 residents living in 18,000 houses and
apartments, 75,000 jobs, 1,900 hotel rooms and 17 million square feet of office
and retail space within walking distance of subway stations. The half-mile-wide
corridor contains just 7.6% of Arlington's land but generates a third of its tax
, keeping residents' property tax bills lower than anywhere else in the

Neighboring Fairfax County opted for massive parking facilities around its
subway stations and shunned the housing-office-retail mix. A result was more
sprawl throughout the county. Now plans at two stations for clusters of
residential towers have sparked neighborhood opposition over traffic. Only 30%
of the newcomers would commute by subway, studies show.

“In Arlington, three-fourths of people walk to the train,” Dittmar says.
“In Fairfax, two-thirds drive. The difference is just dramatic.”

Pedestrian-friendly spaces are critical, planners say. Arlington learned from
early mistakes that buildings had to open onto sidewalks and invite walking. If
a goal is to cut car trips — only a fourth of all trips are work trips —
give residents fewer reasons to drive by mixing shopping, housing and
entertainment, planners say. It will lead to fewer cars per household.

Offer housing choices - apartments, condos, townhouses and single-family homes.
Single uses such as office buildings make for dead after-hours downtowns. Mixing
uses creates 24-hour villages and more transit ridership.

Barely a decade ago, Arlington's Clarendon neighborhood was economically
stagnant with aging housing and limited retail stock. Today, it's one of metro
Washington's hippest areas. Bars and restaurants hum late into the night.
Commuters rushing home pack upscale groceries for gourmet dinner dishes.

Man, it just makes me so proud.
The local paper in southeastern Virginia shows the residential tax rates of different cities in the area, and I noticed Arlington is exactly the same as Smithfield, VA and 50% less than Norfolk, VA. Amazing. Beautiful.

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November 30, 2004

I'm on fire today, people. With the posting and the efficient use of free time and all. There must be something inherently creative about today. Perhaps procreative. Just ask my parents....

Anyway, this Michael Kinsley op-ed in the WaPo is hilarious and contains this nugget, "For some reason, the views of those who feel that marriage requires a man and a woman are considered to be a "value," while the views of those who believe that gay relationships deserve the same legal standing as straight ones barely qualify as an opinion."

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I guess all I was going to say about Tappahannock was to pass along what my wife said about it. After all, with its low gas prices, large home lots with majestic older homes (probably as cheap as the gas) it would be a great place to live. Jen says, though, that it isn't a nice place to live if you are scared of your neighbors. I've never been scared of anything or anyone during my time in DC. I've walked around SE neighborhoods near the Potomac Ave. metro station, I've tried to hail a cab on the corner of W. St and North Capitol, NW. It has never really bothered me. But living in the middle of a sea of Republican Virginia red? Horrifying.

Hopefully some readers will be interested in discussing this further in the feedback section.

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Monday, November 29, 2004


Yeah, I paid that much for gas this weekend. In Tappahannock, VA. I definitely paid $2.09 somewhere in Arlington or Alexandria within the past week or so. That's a huge difference.

I'm gonna have to rip Tappahannock a new one in a future post. Or maybe make the case why I want to move there - I dunno.

BTW, Ashley Simpson, in her MTV reality show, claimed that she didn't want to sell out and do music like her sister. Now the two of them have an upcoming Christmas special where they sing a duet of The Little Drummer Boy. Goddamnit, if that isn't irony. Irony is such a bitch. To dilute that irony, check out this Korn song: Jingle Balls.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Hope to be listed here soon.

Already listed here. Check Clarendon on the orange line.

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What I'm Thanksful For

Tony's favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. He likes to say what he's thankful for.

I'm thankful for this jade, this tiger aloe and this Guinness.

My favorite holiday is Earth Day because it pisses rednecks off. When I was a freshman in college, I wrote "happy earth day" on the dry erase board on the door of my room. That's what blogging was in 1992. Someone erased it, so I wrote it again. Someone erased it again, so I wrote it again. Then I picked some beer cans out of the trash and put them in the recycling bin. It was a fun day.

I've been married now for about 14 months. I'm thankful for Jen. I'm also thankful for Jen's family. Jen's parents are parents I'd be happy to call my own. I'm thankful for my family as well.

I'm thankful for my friends. I'm thankful to have a job, to be healthy and to not have bombs going off in my neighborhood all through the night.

I'm thankful that when I eat a can of tuna, I can't actually taste the mercury. Yet.

I'm thankful for intersting books to read, loud music to listen to, and IKEA.

Happy Thanksgiving to you.

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Friday, November 19, 2004

So Pissed

Someone told me this was a Christmas cactus.

Well, it is blooming now and it is nowhere near Christmas.

Also, here's a jacaranda tree that I've grown from seeds. I picked up the seed pods along the Oversees Highway in the Florida Keys last year when Jen and I were there on our honeymoon.

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Eschew Obfuscation

"Eschew" is the word of the day. Also, the title of this post was seen on a bumper sticker. Love it.

Listening to very loud heavy metal is fun. When you hear the tea kettle scream in the background, it can be very scary.

Elwood responded to my post about Arlington here and asked some questions that I wanted to respond to.

When Jen and I decided to buy a place, we decided to stay in Arlington because we love it here. There is plenty going on, not TOO much traffic, great places to eat, parks with tennis courts, families, and black people. I'm always afraid when I go somewhere and don't see any black people. Like the corporate board room at my company, for example. We could have chosen a different location and paid less or gotten more house, but we weren't really willing to do that. I think our realtor thought we were crazy. We can quickly walk to either Clarendon or Court House and on a nice weekend day, we can even walk all the way Georgetown, across the Key Bridge or to the mall at Ballston. If only Chick-Fil-A was open on Sundays.

Jen and I aren't close to having a kid, so a small 1BR is enough for now. We'll stay in Arlington for a while. If we decide to move, there will be a whole bunch of factors that will determine where we move to, but not liking Arlington won't be one of them. Arlington is definitely becoming more and more urban and if Virginia had actually ponied up its share of land for the District, back in the day, we'd be in DC now. If I won the lottery or inherited $20m, I buy the penthouse at Lyon Hill and never leave.

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Glorious Empire

Cats and dogs scamper along streets littered with fallen bricks, broken glass, toppled light poles, downed power lines, twisted traffic barriers and spent cartridges. Walls and security gates are laced with bullet holes. Marines have blown holes in walls and knocked down doors to search homes

Dead Iraqis still lay out in the open Monday, their stiff limbs akimbo, like department store mannequins knocked off their pedestals. At least two women were seen among the dead. Some districts reeked from the sickening odor of rotting flesh, a stench too powerful for a brisk breeze sweeping in from the sandy plain surrounding the city 40 miles west of Baghdad. A Marine-directed body collection effort begun a day earlier stalled Monday when Iraqi workers demanded that Marines first open a road to their village.

The engineers’ convoy passed a wrecked market square, its wooden huts burned. Red chili peppers rotted in the sun, strewn about near an abandoned insurgent mortar position. At an amusement park, bumper cars were tumbled on their sides. A whirling spider-shaped fun machine was torn by gunfire. Along the main east-west commercial thoroughfare, burned cars stood in front of shattered storefronts, where electrical goods and sacks of grain spilled into the street. Other shops appeared less damaged, however. A Marine bulldozer scraped debris from the street. Big red spray-painted X’s mark buildings across Fallujah. The marks signify structures that Marines have searched for insurgents and weapons, often after battering their way in.

Marines are billeting in homes abandoned by Iraqis, sleeping on mats and huddling against the nighttime cold under abandoned polyester blankets. “All these houses have this stuff. They must treat their guests like kings,” said Lance Cpl. Freddy Ramosavilla, 22, of Commerce City, Colo. The Marines are often careful to put back the sleeping gear and they burn the remains of their food rations, but they have had to build latrines in yards. And the rooftops from where they have watched for insurgents often look like huge ashtrays.

Gagging amid the overpowering stench of rotting flesh, the Iraqis had to take special care because of the danger that insurgents have booby-trapped some bodies with explosives. On one stoop, the Iraqis pushed over a corpse and a grenade rolled out of its pocket. The weapon didn’t detonate, but Marines quickly hurried the workers away. Bodies lay in homes, on verandahs and in shallow, makeshift graves, buzzed over by flies and darkened by days of decomposition. Muslims generally bury their dead within 24 hours, but the fighting prevented the interment of most corpses.

[U.S. Marine Capt. Alex Henegar, a civil affairs officer attached to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment] said authorities were eager to clear the city of bodies quickly, to lessen health risks for returning civilians. Dr. Salah Al-Issawi, acting director of Fallujah General Hospital, voiced similar concern. “The city is completely isolated, and we expect the decaying of dead bodies and the spread of diseases,” he said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television.

- from the AP

I wrestle with how my feelings about this country after it voted to re-elect these people. I took a stab at it here, but I'm still wrestling with it. Jane Orben did a little better with it, and got me thinking about where I fit in, in a country where half the people aren't crazy about me and mine. I liked her post, but I was troubled by “you love this country, it’s the government you hate.”

Actually I can remember times in the 1990s when I liked the government a damn site better than I liked the public, and I wondered whether they were good enough to deserve it. While it’s occasionally wasteful and inept, the US government was built up by generations of progressives as a system to divert resources from the well-off to the needy. Over the last couple decades the Right has tried to tear this system down, with a great deal of public support.

Do I love this country? I love the country that was here in 1950, while acknowledging its deep flaws. It’s a place that gave birth to great things in literature, food, music, technology, and movements expanding political and social freedom. I love the cities and the small towns, even those filled with people who disagree with me. They have a kind of community I can understand and appreciate. But that part of America that stands on ground that was farmland in 1950 and now is something else, I loathe. Strip mall nation with its vapid consumerism is not for me. Such an alienated life has spawned a yawning inner void among its denizens: it is this void which is responsible for the growth of fundie mega-churches and the Christian Coalition. This movement emerged as a way to fill the spiritual void, not by reclaiming a meaningful life by taking constructive action, but by self-justification and a promised salvation without meaningful change. Sprawlville is a truly a place where nothing happens, a country not worth living in. At this point I hope for the survival and revival of the remaining islands of old America, traditional America, my home.

Politics and geography are all mixed up for me, and if you want to see why just go check out the maps again. I feel like my country is being erased from the earth, and this terrifies and enrages me.

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The thing I love about this picture is that you can just tell that Bush is wondering why the hell everyone isn't paying attention to him. He wants to jump and down and scream, "I'M the president! Daaa-deeee, make all those people pay attention to meeee." Clinton commands attention and I think even Bush is a little affected.

Ford couldn't attend because he had a prior engagement. Too bad Bush didn't have something previously scheduled. I mean, you'd think he'd be busy, don't you?

Another thing: Bush and Clinton were both born in 1946. Would you have guessed that fact just by looking at this picture?

Carter looks old, for the love of gawd.

I've heard Carter speak a couple of times in the past week or two or three. He kicks a lot of ass.

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Around the neighborhood

This first picture shows the newest construction in my neighborhood. A small part of my condo building, the Cardinal House, can been seen. The new condo that is being built will overlook the CHC's pool area, although it isn't yet apparent how much it will overlook it.

The Cardinal House is shaped like a plus sign and is built into a hill, which is how the pool access ends up being off the 4th floor C-wing.

A sign hanging in front of the Lyon Hill Condos says, "starting in the $600s". Wow! Jen and I paid just under $190k for a 759sq. ft. 1BR condo. That was in October of 2002. Already, condos in our building of the same size and even smaller (!) are selling in the $270s. Our friends that also live in the Clarendon area (see below), April and Clay, rent a 2BR in the buildings above the super fancy shopping center that has a Crate & Barrel, a Pottery Barn, a Williams-Senoma, a Container Store, and a Barnes and Noble. They recently closed on the most beautiful all-brick house in Charlottesville, and will be moving in the next year or so. Maybe Jen and I will follow them so that Clay and I can get our band started.

More on this later, but for now, I want to share some scenes from my North Arlington neighborhood.

This large block of buildings and commerce that houses The Cheesecake Factory also houses Tony's favorite restaurant, La Tasca. Maybe I'll get a picture of it next time. There is also a tanning salon in there with a REALLY, REALLY tan guy who works there.

The green and white bus in the picture is an ART bus, or Arlington Rapid Transit. Limited coverage, but slowly growing. One time, Jen and I saw an ART bus miss hitting a pedestrian by about a foot. The bus was going about 40mph at the time while making a left turn. We called in to report the driver and found out that the driver, at the time we saw him, was finishing his last shift because he had quit.

This building is diagonally across the street from the Clarendon metro station. I don't think it'll last long. With the amount of new construction going on in the area, I'm pretty sure that I'll get demo-ed and something a lot taller and fancier will go in there.

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Ohio State Gives ESPN Cars, Cash to Stop Reporting on Clarett Story

Sports Pickle - Onion-esque sports articles.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004


...tickets for Washington's new baseball team go on sale tonight here.

I have a few questions:

1. What is the name of the team?
2. Where will the team play?
3. Do I like professional baseball or something else?

For the record, I don't support the name "Senators". Why? Oh, I don't know, perhaps because there is no such thing as a "Washington Senator"?

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Savage Love

from: Savage Love on The Stranger

Provided we don't all leave, here's how we get through a second Bush term: For at least the next four years, American lefties, artists, and queers should not consider this land our land. It is not a land of opportunity that spreads from sea to shining sea. No, we live on a chain of islands, an archipelago, not a continent. Sane people live on our islands—New York, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Madison, Austin, Boston, and on and on; basically all the cities, in red states and blue, that voted for Kerry—and we may not be the majority right now, and it may feel like sea levels are rising. But, hey, we own all the best real estate. We've got the cities, the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West Coast. And what have they got? The Wal-Marts, the West Virginias, the Alabamas, the McMansions, and the mega-churches. Fuck 'em. Let 'em have that crap. We'll fight the fuckers in two years during the midterm elections and take back Congress. And we'll take 'em on again in four years and take back the White House. In the meantime, enjoy island life.

Italics is the part I wanted to share (funny) but included everything for context.

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Some of Josh Marshall's best posts are the short ones:

Is it really a paradox?
The lede from a
piece in tomorrow's Post ...

Condoleezza Rice, who will be named as Colin L. Powell's replacement as early as today, has
forged an extraordinarily close relationship with President Bush. But, paradoxically, many
experts consider her one of the weakest national security advisers in recent history in terms of
managing interagency conflicts.

I'm gonna assume there was a smirk on someone's face.
-- Josh Marshall

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Losing Ohio

Come on, blood lover, let's walk along the fire tower road
through the stain glass, shadows of the white church through the pines
Us alone now, us alone now

Appalachia, dearly driving from, feed me water, Appalachia
- David Holm

I went back to Ohio
But my city was gone
There was no train station
There was no downtown
South Howard had disappeared
All my favorite places
My city had been pulled down
Reduced to parking spaces
. . .
I went back to Ohio
But my pretty countryside
Had been paved down the middle
By a government that had no pride
The farms of Ohio
Had been replaced by shopping malls
And muzak filled the air
From Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls
-Chrissy Hynde

I wrote a big post on the whole Ten Americas theory and how the Democrats can reclaim majority status here at Steve's blog. The striking thing to me was that Bush's strongest region was the formerly solid Democratic Appalachia, home of Robert Byrd and a host of other populist Democrats. This stunning development has often been explained by saying people are voting their values rather than their pocketbook interests. But is that true?

Sullivan's article describes Appalachia as America's poorest and most rural region. But if they have voted Democratic for decades, and have done so because of their economic interests, then why are they still so poor? It seems to me their economic advocates have not been very effective. Much of politics today is pure posturing. This is why so many rich kids have fallen prey to Naderism - they aren't looking for results, they want someone who "speaks for" them. What they want out of a political party or candidate, really, is someone who will articulate their values or beliefs clearly and forcefully. For the Right it's the same thing - if they are opposed to abortion, for example, they want a senator or a mayor or a school board rep who will state that position clearly. It doesn't seem to matter if the politician in question makes progress on the issue, or even if the office is remotely related to the issue at hand. What is important is loud, clear posturing. Symbolism. Gun control? It doesn't matter if the assault weapons ban is actually effective, what matters is my values. Crime? It only matters that the candidate is tough, not whether crime rates actually fall.

But economic issues are a different animal entirely. FDR and LBJ created constituencies for themselves by doling out money and concrete benefits to specific interests (unions, retirees, poor mothers with dependent children). But today's Democrats seem to think that poor people will vote for them if they express the right amount of concern, show empathy, feel their pain. It doesn't work that way. Bill Clinton was the most popular politician of any race among African Americans not because he "related" to them, but because the racial wage gap fell to historic lows under his administration. If other working class groups are not so Democratic anymore, it may be because they can no loger be fooled into thinking that talk is a meaningful substitute for action.

Appalachia is a disaster. Its communities are dying, people are fleeing to the cities, to new opportunities in the South and West. What has anyone done over the past 30 years to help West Virginia or Southern Ohio? As we move into the globalized Information Age, vast swaths of the American landscape are sinking into the Third World. These areas need good jobs, good schools, and access to First World health care. Whether they are white trash miners or Latino agricultural workers, they need to see real economic progress. Yet the Democrats spend their time "speaking to" the middle class and have no clear plan that I'm aware of to address the needs of working people. So perhaps people aren't choosing between their pocketbooks and their "moral values" at all. Perhaps no one addresses their economic issues, and voting on "values" is the only avenue available to register dissent against uncaring, oblivious "elites."

If we want their votes, maybe we should help them rather than "talk to" them.

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Bob Posted by Hello
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Friday, November 12, 2004

Heavy Bag
[drunk thoughts!]

I doubt this band ever amounted to anything, but I used to be pretty into them when I was in college ('93-'94). Stick is the band, Heavy Bag is the album, Grind is the song

Love this line...

"I've got a grind and plenty of axes.
I'll think twice next year before payin my taxes"

It had been raining like a fucker all day, so I haven't been able to get out to take any pictures of my neighborhood like Craig does, but I'd like to do that soon. Blogs as historical documents...

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I Can't Seem to Think of a Headline Dire Enough

The guerillas have already left Fallujah - the fighting actually seems to be more intense elsewhere in Iraq.

[A]t least one resident who drove around several districts of the city [Mosul] on Friday said he saw no presence whatsoever of Iraqi police or other security forces, and saw only one convoy of U.S. troops, moving rapidly through a northern area. He said insurgents remained in charge of at least one of the nine police stations attacked and set ablaze on Wednesday and Thursday. Some residents suggested that many police had taken off their uniforms and decided to join the insurgents.
Mosul's governor imposed an immediate curfew on Wednesday as the northern city of three million people exploded in violence. Anyone attempting to cross any of the city's five bridges over the Tigris river during curfew was to be shot on sight.

Free fire zones? So much for keeping civilian casualties low.

While President Bush has frequently described the prospect of free elections
as a boon to the people of Iraq, many in the minority Sunni population see
elections as a threat. Sunnis dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein, but the
long-oppressed Shiite majority could gain control in elections. That calculus
has made Sunni cities such as Fallujah hospitable to insurgents.

"The only choice is to attack other places sequentially," said Marine Col.
T.X. Hammes, an expert in insurgency warfare at Washington's National Defense
"Insurgencies are political and last decades. Do not think
that one single battle is decisive."

Retired Army general Montgomery Meigs saw firsthand the labor-intensive and
time-consuming work of establishing calm in a violence-riven country during his
tenure as commander of U.S. and allied troops in Bosnia. The Fallujah battle, he
said, has denied insurgents the ability to use a key population center as a base
for operations. "But the larger and more difficult problem will involve denying
to the insurgents the ability to select and attack targets at will," Meigs said.
"It's going to be a hard winter."

Decades? 20 years X 365 days per year X 2 dead soldiers per day = 14,600 dead soldiers

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Arafat Dies

Bob, Tony, thanks for your support on the new blog. Comments are good, they make me want to be even more argumentative.

What to think about Yasser Arafat? He was a terrorist, true. But there was a lot of that going around when he was coming up. Menachem Begin blew up the King David Hotel, Yitzak Shamir assassinated the UN High Commissioner, Lord Bernadotte. Both of those guys were later Prime Minister. A lot of people are already screaming "no moral equivilency," but even they know it's bullshit. A Jewish guy blowing up a hotel and killing innocent people is, in fact, morally equivilant to an Arab guy blowing up a hotel and killing innocent people. And the sad fact is, the only reason the powerful pay attention to the powerless in this world is because the recognize the value of order and stability, in the sense of nobody blowing up their hotel.

So I was kinda sympathetic with the cause, although not with the murder of civilians, and counted myself as something of a fan when Arafat was willing to seek peace and independence through negotiation. To me, his biggest failures came later. At the 2000 peace talks, he didn't bring a counter-offer to the table. He rejected the Israeli offer - no surprise there, why would he support the Israeli position? But the point of the summit was for each side to make a proposal, settle the issues that could be settled, and come up with a document stating the remaining differences. Without a counterproposal, this couldn't happen - basically Arafat was more worried about the political repercussions of making a proposal that was unacceptable to Hamas than he was about the future of his country.

His second offence was refusing to share power with the Prime Minister, clinging to personal control over security forces (and his slush fund), again finding personal power to be more important than national progress.

Now that he's dead, I hope progress will be made, but I fear instead a civil war.

Which should bring us to Iraq, but I have nothing to say at this point. It always seems to be worse than you thought it was last week. I don't see how it can be salvaged. I know Tony's mom liked him and all, but even with the situation being what it was, it is mind-boggling what a truly terrible job Bremer did as viceroy. Republicans: "the party that claims government can't do anything right and then get elected to prove it."

This KOS diary is one of the best pieces I've read about Al Quaida strategy and how we are playing into it:

In radicalizing your apathetic sympathizers, you have no better ally than the violent extremists on the other side . Only they can convince your people that compromise is impossible. Only they can raise your countrymen's level of fear and despair to the point that large numbers are willing to take up arms and follow your lead. A few blown up apartment buildings and dead schoolchildren will get you more recruits than the best revolutionary tracts ever written.

Another thought provoking screed that's been in my head the last couple days is here. It's angry, it's mean-spirited, it's over the top, and damn it feels good right now.

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For the record, my enthusiasm about my stock portfolio is largely sarcastic. I mean, I'm happy that I'm making money, but I wouldn't wish 4 more years of Asshole on anyone...

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I want to have a kickass blog too...

Craig's new blog, Elwood Grobnik, is so damn smart that I want to blog my ass off too.

The problem is that I've been very introverted over the past week. I'm embarrassed. I'd say I'm embarrassed for the country, but that gets too close to the name calling and disparaging of the red-staters that I'd like to think I'm above. What I more embarrassed about is the enthusiasm that I had to think that Kerry could actually win. Freezing my ass off in line for an hour and fifteen minutes to vote seemed noble at the time. Now, all I have is this:

Arlington County, VA
John F. Kerry (D) 63,705 68%
George W. Bush (R) 29,545 31%
[This is gonna be the new header for the NAAS blog.]

I'm also embarrassed for all the people who worked their asses off trying to get Kerry elected. Damn, that must be demoralizing.

One of the things that kept me inspired through Bush's first term was that I knew that History is a harsh muthafuckin judge. I knew that a one-term Bush would be judged as one of the worst Presidents of all time. He may still. But he's one-upped his dad and shrugged off that one-term label that would have given me something. That's embarrassing.

So really, I don't care anymore. I don't read my MoveOn.org e-mails. I only half pay attention to Al Franken when I listen to his show. I watch soccer. I have my first beer 15 minutes earlier in the day. I read more - stuff that was written a long time ago.

Anyone that wants to tell me that I am being a defeatist and that "they only win" when I give up, can tell me that shit in three and a half years. Right now, I don't care.

But at least I'm acknowledging this. I'm getting it down and hopefully I can move on.

For now though, my stocks are going through the fucking roof!


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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

If we make it out of the next four years, it will be interesting to see where we'll be. I will be the first to kiss his ass if there are working, democratic and viable Iraqi and Palestinian states. Also ass-kissing rights will be given out for manageable social security and medicare reform and just about any deficit reduction. I feel these are very, very, very unlikely scenarios, but he's got his "mandate" and he can no longer invoke 9/11 and Clinton for his shortcomings. Good. Those who went out there made a choice. Let them eat Bush.
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Monday, November 08, 2004

Fallujah Invasion Commences

"We had to destroy the village in order to save it."
(Thanks for the headline, Steve)

Well, this is the big one. At least this time, the Marines are going in backed up by the 1st Cavalry's Bradleys and Abrams tanks. In April, they were sent in without armor, which is why casualties were so high. Apparently Rumsfeld was convinced that the insurgency would end with the capture of Saddam Hussein, and send all but 70 tanks back to their bases is the US, Germany etc. for maintenance or whatever. I don't have time to look for the article today, this never became an issue for some reason, but this error was why casualties were so high in April. Look for a less disastrous operation this time, but still I think the political negatives for the US may be higher than the military positives of assault. Sadr is encouraging Iraqi National Guard troops to desert rather than fight, and apparently many have done so, with one brigade shrinking from 550 to 174 guys overnight. I just read this a couple hours ago, again I don't have time to hunt for the link. Bad news seems to just disappear down the memory hole and vanish these days . . .

Update: this is the report I saw:

Another issue is the role of Iraqi forces fighting alongside the Americans.
A National Public Radio correspondent embedded with the Marines outside Fallujah
reported desertions among the Iraqis — with 255 members of a 500-man Iraqi
battalion quitting over the weekend, the correspondent said.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

This is a great observation, from MYDD:
As many books as we write about them, our enemy is not Bill O'Reilly, or Rush Limbaugh, or even George Bush. Further, as much griping as we may do about them over the next few months, our problem is not Terry McAuliffe, or Bob Shrum, or any of our candidates. Individuals are neither our enemy, nor our problem. Instead, our enemy and our problem is conservatism itself. Yesterday, John Kerry won among self-described Independents and "moderates" by greater margins than George Bush won among the nation as a whole. Yesterday, we improved on our 2000 vote by 10%, more than twice the 4.7% increase in the national population since 2000. Our activism kicked ass. Our ability to appeal to the center kicked ass. Our problem is that we are in the minority. Our mistake would be to start blaming individuals and creating scapegoats.
Read the whole article: this is right on. Look, we have to stop thinking of ourselves as Democrats or independents or Greens or whatever. Our opponents are the group of people who call themselves the "conservative movement." Over the past 40 years they have grown to dominate American politics to such an extent that even Democrats are reduced to arguing "George Bush is not a fiscal conservative, real conservatives wouldn't act like that," or some kinda crap like that. Conservatism is the enemy. Conservatism. Its two, strangely incompatible components, are religious fundamentalism and the libertarian view of economic and social life: every atomized individual or family for itself, to "succeed" or "fail" on its own "merits" with "handouts" from society seen as inappropriate and an unfair drain on the resources of the "successful," subsidizing "laziness."

We need our own movement, our own think tanks, our own language. Here's a start:

1. Libertarianism is bunk. We exist as an economic and social network, not as "radical individuals." We are each responsible for the well being of the larger community, which encompasses or entire region and not just our own little suburb, neighborhood or ethnic or religious group. A well-run network can provide education, health care, food and housing to all of its members through some combination of public, private, and nonprofit providers. This is not charity, it is our responsibility to our community. You gotta pay dues to join the club.

2. In a diverse society, no group has the right to impose its religious beliefs on any other.

What else do we believe?

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

By the way I am the same person as Craig. I updated my profile to create a the new blog, which is written with a pen name, and it changed the name on every post I ever made! F'ing technology, I just don't get it.

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This is cross-posted from my new blog which everyone should keep an eye on because it's gonna be so cool.

Election Post-Mortem

So George W Bush got a majority of the popular vote, the first to do it since his father in 1988. Everybody I know is crying in their beer now. I should be pretty depressed too, but really there’s a spring in my step this morning. I’ve got this politics bug bad, and this is one of the most fascinating days in American history.

The question on my mind today is: how’d they do it? Looked at as separately as possible for policy questions and “issues,” what did they do to win the vote? You can’t tell me W has an agenda for America that the public has gotten behind, because he hardly has an agenda at all. “Tax cuts.” Anything you can sum up in two words is not an agenda. The country has been evenly split, but somehow there were more of them on election day. Here’s what I think, keep in mind it’s Wednesday morning and still very new.

GOTV – They kicked our asses on this one, pure and simple. About halfway through Saturday’s canvassing in Milwaukee, I realized that the “undecided” voters were not going to vote. It was as simple as that. Victory was going to be found in getting more of our supporters to the polls, not in convincing more people to vote for us. Democrats have a traditional advantage here, is the common wisdom. But if that’s so, why do most Likely Voter models assume more Republicans will vote?
The effort in Wisconsin was very disorganized. We had way more people and resources than the Republicans did in Wisconsin, but we didn’t use them well. Saturday we were still knocking on doors asking for names and phone numbers. Why didn’t we have that information in July? Some of the independent groups had lists of voters and addresses organized by block. Why didn’t the party? It’s called information technology. Florida hired an outside firm to generate a list of felons. Inaccurate and abhorrent as that is, it’s and example of using IT for political effect. If the party doesn’t know where its supporters live, it should hire a marketing research firm to find out. Next time I want names, in an interactive database, and I want to canvass with a printout of our efforts on the block so far in my hands.

CONTEST EVERY STATE – The Republicans put a lot of effort in Blue States they didn’t need. Who really thought they would win Pennsylvania or Michigan? In fact, at this writing, it is still possible, even likely, that every state will go the same way it did in 2000! But the popular vote has definitely shifted (although not by much) towards Bush. It makes him look like a big winner. Even if he hasn’t won Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Iowa, he has done well enough there and in Pennsylvania to tip the popular vote scales. We should do more in Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Louisiana. We won’t win those in the near future (well, maybe Virginia, and Texas, the second most urban state, by 2012) but a lot of dispirited Democrats sit home in those places. Turnout in “our counties” in the South would make it look better nationally for the Dems. Strong local candidates will help. But we had some pretty good Senate candidates who just couldn’t survive the Bush surge in many of these states.

BALLOT INITIATIVES – many people are going to say Bush won this election by demonizing gays and lesbians. The interesting thing is how: by drawing social conservative to the polls to vote for anti-gay ballot initiatives. These voters also pulled the lever for Bush. Democrats need to find popular progressive issues and put them on the ballot to drum up turnout: stem cell research or drug re-importation would have been good ones this year.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

This is the day, this is the hour . . .

I like Milwaukee. Beer, motorcycles, Puerto Ricans. Block after block of century-old cottages and wooden bungalows decaying along tree-lined streets. Small-town America writ large, mugged by the global economy. If there's a gentrified yuppie district I never saw any sign of it. If there's a festering ghetto, I never saw any street I wouldn't walk alone. Just like Racine, the city is surprisingly integrated, especially compared to Chicago. Every street, in every neighborhood I visited, was racially and ethnically mixed. The sound of Spanish was everywere, the chorizo was spicy and mouthwatering. The climate is terrible, the people are great, especially the Palmers who let me stay at their home with only a few hours notice. The Heartland. The Battleground.

Clinton returned the Democrats to the executive branch after 12 years by winning over a block of states known as the Great Lakes region, the Upper Midwest, the Heartland, or the less flattering Rust Belt: Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa. While mostly regarded as "blue states" over the last decade, they are in fact intensly polarized politically: Democrats are centered in large urban areas with substantial minority populations and a history of labor activism, in college towns, and in some smaller cities built by union jobs. Republicans rule the depopulated countryside and the sprawling outer suburbs, where economic and population growth have been concentrated in recent decades. Controlling these neighborhoods means controlling America. Volunteers from safe states come pouring in to "help", talking up the locals about jobs or abortion. The locals are amazed that Illinois hasn't seen a campaign ad all season. The visitors are mystified by the strife, failing to grasp the essential local issue: the loss of power and prestige, their status as the country's industrial base, the experience of becoming second-class citizens in their own country. Dan Chaon of Cleveland, in the New York Times, describes the experience of being targeted by so many out of state carpetbaggers: "It's like being asked out on a date by someone who secretly thinks you're stupid and ugly."

Milwaukee is the key, and everyone knows it. Gwen Moore, a black state senator, is running to be the first African American US Representative ever from Wisconsin. Her district is safe Dem and she would bring minority voters to the polls in record numbers even if it weren't such a critical year. Republicans know this spells doom for Bush's chances to crack the Blue Belt here: they are trying anything they can think of to suppress the minority vote. The county refused to print an adequate number of ballots until the city promised to pay for any extras. The GOP challenged 57,000 registered voters claiming their addresses are invalid - mostly, these are typos or addresses that do exist. An organization calling itself the Milwaukee Black Voters League is distributing a flyer aimed at convincing African Americans they won't be allowed to vote if they have voted in the primaries, been convicted of traffic violation or not yet registered, and that they can be jailed for trying to vote improperly. This in a state that automatically reinstates felons' right to vote and allows people to register at their polling place on election day.

In respose, Democrats and their allies have knocked on every door in the city, chatted up moms while their kids are trick or treating, helped little old ladies find their polling places. City hall has a line five hours long of people waiting to vote early.

I don't know any more than anyone else what will happen tomorrow. I know that Gallup polls had Al Gore down 53-39% the weekend before the vote in 2000. He won the popular vote. Gallup's error? They assumed our people wouldn't turn out to vote. This year Gallup shows a tie at 48%. We can win this thing, but only if we get out the vote.

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