Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Anchors, Away!

Watching the Main Stream Media continue to deny that they have a hatchet in their collective heads is akin to the Black Knight's claim of invincibility despite losing all of his limbs in his fight with Monty Python's Arthur.

At some point you just have to turn your head away in disgust. But let's keep looking just a little longer.

Brian Williams, man-tan mannequin who is slated to replace Tom Brokaw on NBC, just lost another limb:

Bloggers, he said, are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Let me get off the pot and respond, even though I've got wireless.

These expressions of denial are similar to the same fundamental shifts that occured in the manufacturing and service sectors over 20 years ago. And the MSM's salvation lies in these industries' response, if they care to listen:

Regulated and protected industries with captured markets (eg utilities, telephone, and even the auto industry in the 70s) organized themselves functionally in hierarchical siloes, each group focusing on their own small piece of the overall product or service offering. Manufacturing didn't speak to sales, Sales didn't speak to R & D, and R & D didn't speak to Marketing. And nobody spoke to the customer.

Products and services were "pushed" out to their customers, with the focus on standard offerings, long production runs, and efficiencies instead of customer service. You remember what happened to the K-car.

In the MSM newsroom, the Anchor sits at the top of these siloes, isolated with a certainty that a protected bureaucracy promotes, and sees themselves as the arbiter of "news," obligated to push out their product which the masses should accept.

Except we're not buying. And the bloggers are their only hope.

In an enlightened newsroom, the "Anchor" would be called a "Team Leader," responsible for delivering the nightly news to their customers' requirements - objectivity, not agendas. The Team Leader would seek out participation from a broad, non-hierarchical team, internally and externally, to provide feedback on customer requirements, check product quality, and insure customer satisfaction. That guy with the modem sounds like an asset, not a liability.

So drop the Anchors and bring on the bloggers. Anchors, away! Do I need to get a tan?

Reference: Outside the Beltway

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Great Divide

Gallons of ink, googles of electrons, and endless hours of Thanksgiving dinner-table discussions have been spent sifting through the fresh entrails of our national election, desperately hoping to find that undigested nugget of wisdom that foretells the future of our seemingly rent republic and explains the depths of our current sociological divide.

Are we Blue or Red, Secular or Religious, Coastal or Heartland, Saks or Walmart, CNN or Fox, Mars or Venus, Atkins or South Beach? All no doubt germane, but let's get to the crux of the matter:

Maher or Miller.

Both comedians have more firepower in their routines than a Fallujah mosque, but their outlooks, and audiences, couldn't be more different:
Bill Maher:
Stop saying that blue state people are out of touch with the values and morals of the red states. I'm not out of touch with them. I just don't share them. In fact, and I know this is about 140 years late, but to the Southern States, I would say, "Upon further consideration, you CAN go. I know that's what you've always wanted, and we've reconsidered. So go ahead. And take Texas with you."
Dennis Miller:
"I wish there was a country called al Qaeda and we could have started the war there, but there wasn't. And Hussein and his punk sons were just unlucky enough to draw the Wonka ticket in the a**hole lottery."

The French, you might as well gas up the dinghy and go fishing with Fredo because you are dead to me, okay. You know something? They're putting swastikas on our flag in France. You've got all those boys buried in Normandy. And after we had the good taste to chisel the armpit hair off the Statue of Liberty you gave us, you know something, I — always thought that tint was oxdized copper. Little did I know it was green with envy."

Smug, snide, cynical leftist-libertarianism or stream-of-conscious rants spiced with obscure cultural reference center-right libertarianism.

Maher or Miller: Maybe this ought to be the question on Mid-East visa flight school applications. And then there's the Lenny Bruce question - which one eventually flames out?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Buy An iPod, Save Your Child's Financial Future

Wonderful little product, the iPod. Your entire music collection is digitally miniaturized into a sleek, portable unit that fits into your pocket (I prefer the mini), allowing you easy portability and immediate access to thousands of songs at the flick of a clickwheel. No more frenzied searches for lost CDs behind the stereo, or carting jewel cases around on your trips. The user interface is elegant, and you can organize and cross-reference artists, albums, songs, genres, and playlists.

But it has the potential to do much more than make music easy to listen to. It's popularity will save your child's financial future.

The iPod is just another tool in a trend towards "disintermediation" - the removal of steps and middlemen within the business chain of value from design, production, marketing, sales, and service. Fueled by the Internet and the digital economy, disintermediation has put information and products directly into the hands of the consumer from the manufacturer. Costly and time-consuming steps, processes, and inventories are removed. Lower costs result. Record store infrastructures are a casualty of this process.

The iPod also promotes the concept of "mass customization" or the ability to tailor products to specific customer needs with the economies of mass production. iPod users can select individual songs to download off the internet, creating their own collections of songs as opposed to "batched" songs by artist from a CD.

Which brings us to saving your child's future. The proliferation of iPods further acclimates the concepts of disintermediation and mass customization, creating an expectation within the younger generation of portability, tailored services, control over assets, and direct access. It's not too far a leap to submit that the iPod generation will take these expectations, apply them to their government services, and tip the balance in the
reform of social security to include personal accounts, and the institutionalization of medical savings accounts, both of which are necessary to address the long-term crisis in our social security system. It may cost more in the short term budget, but in the long-term, a child born in 2000 will only, at best, receive 70% of their promised benefits if nothing is reformed.

So pick up an iPod for Christmas, and maybe your kids won't come back to live with you when you're retired. And that new U2 single is way cool.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Remembering Dhaka

The early ‘90s were heady times; after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the conclusion of the Gulf War governments raced to cash in the peace dividend while riding an economic recovery powered by the technology boom and steered by the winds of globalization. Buoyed by these forces of prosperity, U.S. companies aggressively reached across borders, continents, and cultures to seek new markets, chase cheaper labor, and expand their economies of scale.

This resurgent economic dynamism in the U.S. had a democratizing effect on the conduct of business: global travel trickled down from the executive suite to the lower ranks, creating a new cadre of international corporate emissaries. Middle managers, engineers, technicians, and support staff were routinely dispatched overseas to assess suppliers, outfit factories, secure logistics channels, and orient new business units, all with only a cursory nod to corporate travel budgets.

Trans-Pacific jaunts became as common and as exclusive as an overnight stay at the Ramada for the regional sales meeting.

My colleagues and I rode this wave with vigor. As mid-level managers in a global shipping firm, we eagerly hop-scotched across the Pacific Rim, throughout Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America, soaking up the hyperactive buzz of global business, and culturally channel-surfing through our frenetic itineraries.

We were the foot soldiers of corporate America’s outsourcing explosion. And we were first-hand witnesses to the socio-economic implications of this burst of global investment.

But, like the rising stock market, we were lulled into believing that these forces were inexorable and accelerating, and we didn’t foresee the cultural fractures and domestic resistance that have come to characterize international trade today.

Global business investment continues apace, but its blinkered innocence of that time is lost in the wake of Islamist terror, the sneering fashion of anti-Americanism, and the grudges of tribal geo-politics.

Puffed up by the deference undeservingly bestowed upon our arrival in-country (back home we were only “staff”), our role as the American corporate representative being hosted by the agent in the developing country was intoxicating, and we adopted an air of authority and a patina of worldly sophistication that allowed us to make decisions and to recommend changes that were informed by our American habits - changes which of course lasted only for the time that we were there.

Always tipping a hat to the local culture, but not overly solicitous, we raced from site tours to conference rooms to customer dinners, never thinking that our personal security was ever in doubt or that our American-ness was begrudged.

In reality we were only doing the necessary drudgework of checking up on the field offices, which just happened to require a passport to visit. But our vantage point would be invaluable in drawing some conclusions as to what this global business phenomenon was all about.

The seeds of globalization had taken root and were branching in many directions, and my assignments left me with vivid memories of its power: from the remote Franklin Mint plant in Malaysia where shrouded Muslim women hand-painted the lips on Marilyn Monroe dolls and polished Spaceship Enterprise models, to the jungles of Manaus, Brazil where this tax oasis for Korean consumer electronics companies churns out stereos and television sets, sending them down the Amazon for the Mercosur countries and providing the only “employment” for jungle inhabitants within hundreds of miles.

And from the Orthodox Jew shopkeepers and traders in the streets of Colon, Panama to the resort-palaces on the Persian Gulf where spoiled oil-princes strutted their wealth, the mechanics of trade and commerce mixed cultures as easily as it exchanged currencies.

But it was Dhaka, Bangladesh that brought the limits and promise of globalization into stark contrast. And my visit to that 83% Muslim, 17% Hindu country resonates today for me in our post-9/11 world in ways that one might not expect.

I’d seen the juxtaposition of shanty towns and five star hotels that were so common in developing cities such as Jakarta and Manila, and I was familiar with the working conditions of the South China garment factory. But there is an oppressive weight in this capital city that strikes you as soon as you arrive, and permeates everyone who lives there. It’s immediately evident upon arrival that those who can get out have already left.

At the northern end of the Bay of Bengal, this Iowa-sized country of 141 million souls is routinely battered by monsoons that tear across the coastal flatlands and deep into the interior, indiscriminately destroying lives, livestock, and crops. With a per capita annual GDP of $1,900, Bangladesh ranks well below its neighbor India and is chronically at the bottom end of global development. The cotton textile and jute industries are its principle exports, and the vast majority of its inhabitants are tied to subsistence agriculture. The famines of the 70s may be in the past but the scarcity remains.

We arrived with the goal of helping our agent obtain more business from the growing textile export trade. And for three days we lived out of the Sonargaon hotel, the preferred hotel in Dhaka for the garment buyers. Taking brief trips across town to visit our agent’s offices, we would be immediately surrounded by a frantic crush of bodies, adult and child, pounding the windows and pressing their infirmities into our field of vision to receive handouts. Maimed children, some intentionally so, are held up for favor in the competition. The street scenes became so overwhelming, and heart-breaking, that our traveling party began a running series of jokes and sarcastic comments at the locals’ expense - cruel words became the only way to disassociate from the human tragedy that engulfed us.

Meeting with the local team of managers in their offices, which required stepping over slaughtered chickens on their building’s front steps, we worked hard brainstorming solutions to a competitors’ service advantage, ran some numbers on alternative pricing scenarios, role-played sales presentations of our newly designed service, and we drew up more flexible contract language for our customers. Our visiting party and the local team both contributed and brought value to the lengthy discussions, and we learned from each other.

In the midst of this deprived environment, a virtual galaxy removed from the office parks of America, we conducted business.

In retrospect this visit wasn’t about providing a specific good, or service, or even money. It was, as trite as it might sound, about disparate people working toward a common goal. Business has a leveling property that helps cut through the cultural differences and focus on the mechanics of daily life: we were on the same team, working to improve both of our lots (however incongruently), and race, religion, socio-economic status, or nationality did not inhibit our interaction. There was a bond developed based on common interest and shared experience. The end of our three-day visit came surprisingly quickly for the Bangladeshis and for us.

Most international flights depart Bangladesh in the early hours of the morning, and driving through Dhaka well after midnight you see motionless, prone bodies asleep on the street sidewalks. At the air terminal, locals mill about, pressing their faces against the windows to see the strange activities of foreigners coming and going. On the tarmac, as the sun begins to rise, a languorous line forms outside the fence to watch the novelty of a large plane up close. That line also expects that it won’t ever ride in the plane.

Businesses and governments may have gotten too far out front during the early ‘90s in their pursuit of profit and advantage, but a process of economic “globalization,” despite its pejorative implications, is the only lifeline for those on the Dhaka tarmac to rise out of their current conditions. It also, if delivered fairly and humanely, can be the bridge across the economic divides and cultural rifts that are making our shrinking world less livable. I viewed our visit as a small piece of that bridge.

We need to remember Dhaka, and other countries like Bangladesh, when we consider the implications, opportunities, and promises of global markets.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Razzing Putin

It seems that George W's deep gaze into Vladimir Putin's soul when they first met might have been clouded by first-date jitters and the anticipation of better things to come.

Vladimir took the scrapping of the ABM Treaty lying down, and he's stood behind our man in the fight against the Islamist fanatics, but his fidelity to a rapprochement with the West is coming under question.

Evidence suggests that Mr. Putin is cavorting with his old flames of authoritarianism and corruption, creating a Czar-Lite regime with half the freedom of a regular democracy, same full control as the communists displaced by Yeltsin. I don't think W, even if he was off the wagon, is going to swallow it.

U.S. policy has to consider the two over-arching, and intertwined challenges that we face in the foreseeable future: the aggressive confrontation of radical Islam and the defeat of the Jihadists, and the promotion of democratic institutions throughout the non-democratic world.

Russia, with its cultural roots in Orthodox Christianity (and despite its lurch into communism) and its restless borders with the Islamic world (not to mention the Beslan horror), is a natural ally in the Global War on Terror.

But Putin's strong-man proclivities and complicity with the Ukraine election fiasco potentially compromises our credibility as the global promoter of democracy should we choose to look the other way. We don't want Putin on Bush's arm if he's stepping out on our marriage contract.

This issue is likely, like another famous Russian, to rear its ugly head again and again. For the U.S.'s sake, its time to Razz Mr. Putin.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

How (Not) to Win the War on Terror

The Well-Intentioned One has resurfaced.

In a coda to his virtuoso performance in front of the 9/11 Commission, during which he unctuously apologized for the U.S. government's collective sins of omission in fighting terror, Richard Clarke has written a new article that argues for a radical change of course in our Global War on Terror.

Except that it's not radical. He wants to return to the glory days of fighting terrorism pre-9/11. And this was the man to whom America's safety was entrusted in the death match with the Jihadists.

To bolster his case for "change," Clarke asserts that "jihadist groups have conducted twice as many attacks since Sept. 11, 2001 as they did in the three years prior." Clarke refuses to see 9/11 in its transformational light, that of a culminating attack on the core of America civilian life, enabled by our government's failure to recognize the gathering Islamist menace and to treat the '93 Twin Towers, '96 Khobar Towers, '98 Embassy and '00 USS Cole attacks as hot battles within a wider war.

Clarke can't see that the battle heats up when one opponent decides to join the fight. It was peaceful on Dec 6, 1941 as well, but that didn't mean the American people were safe.

He goes on to suggest that we "stress our common values" within the Islamic world, and that we should "defuse sources of Islamic hatred for the United States," such as our policy that insists on an honest Palestinian broker prior to peace talks and our military efforts to safeguard democratic elections in Iraq. He calls for the U.S. to cease military operations against urban areas within the Middle East, and reduce our goals in Iraq so that withdrawal can commence forthwith.

Perhaps we should turn Fallujah back over to Zarqawi and give his torture-masters a group hug.

Clarke embodies the problem of bureaucratic words vs. results, equivocation vs. resolution. What's worrying is that there are others like him still pulling the levers within the halls of government.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Phoenix, Alaska

"Unless we address them (greenhouse gases), people in Arizona are going to have the same problem as those in Alaska today." - John McCain, referring to glacier melting in Alaska during his hearings on global warming.

From geckos and roadrunners in Nome, to tongue-twisted Inuits, a blizzard of cataclysmic environmental scenarios are being concocted to hype the global warming debate. But when it comes to public policy on global warming, cooler heads need to prevail.

And if you're in the political center, or right of center, this issue needn't be dismissed as simply a plot to constrain America's economic engine, even if Kyoto reads like another Paul Ehrlich screed.

Hysteria is to environmentalists as rap sheets are to Indiana Pacers: a requirement for the job.

So let's forget for the moment all of the extraneous doomesday scenarios and focus on the questions at hand:

1) Is the Earth's temperature rising significantly?
- many scientists point out that Antarctica has been cooling, portions of the outer atmosphere have been cooling, and that temperature fluctuations have been the norm through the millenia. We need to focus on data and facts, not model extrapolations or statistical noise. Environmentalist group-think is rampant.

2) If the Earth's temperature is significantly rising, what is the primary cause?
- solar flares, sun spots, earth wobbles, Ford Expeditions, Chinese factories, or Bill Clinton library speeches. . . man or nature?

3) Can we impact the primary cause and arrest the trend?
- would we send a team, like in Armageddon, to douse the sun or do we simply boycott Duraflames?

4) What is the cost and benefit (economic, social, environmental, spiritual) of attempting 3)?
- many scientists, and George W. Bush, believe that Kyoto would have no significant impact on reversing climate change, yet would seriously impede the economic progress of billions within the developing countries. Do we keep a generation of third world peasants in poverty for the sake of feel good politics?

It's reasonable to expect our scientific and political leaders to use objective, data-driven analysis to reach a fact-based policy, immune from the socialist biases of the environmentalists and the dismissive bent of the reactionaries. If this fails, you might want to invest in some North Slope farmland.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Hoop Screams

Next time you take your family out to the ball game, make sure you dress appropriately: flak jackets, helmets, and boxing gloves (mouth guards optional). These days, spectator sports have become full-contact reality shows.

Melee in Michigan, and this summer's Oakland Brawl are more reminiscent of the battle scenes in Braveheart than the idealized contests in Field of Dreams.

But what can we learn from this latest debacle? That professional athletes aren't models of virtue and are coddled, indulged, overpaid, and self-centered? Heh. What we've learned is that some of them can throw mean right hooks. And don't challenge a professional athlete on their field of play unless your last name is Tyson.

We certainly can't turn to the sociologists for help. These latest incidents remind me of my (misguided) days at Berkeley, dabbling in the sociology department for a few easy credits. I took "Sociology of Sport," taught by the renowned Dr. Harry Edwards, Olympic mentor to Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Edwards' thesis? It's all about racism. And Dr. Harry Edwards (his autobiography was the textbook.) One's grade was directly proportional to the amount of times you could use the words "systematic" and "institutionalized" in your papers.

Let's see what Dr. Harry is
saying these days (from an article in 2000):

"Sports always recapitulates society, in terms of its character, dynamics, and the structure of human relations. Just as I believe emphatically that the challenge of the twentyfirst century will be diversity in all of its guises, the challenge in sports in the twentyfirst century is going to be diversity. We are going to be looking at circumstances where we cannot separate out race, from class, gender, sexuality, technoclass status or age."

In other words, not much. The only thing more empty than the interview of the athlete after the game is the suit of the broadcaster-athlete after he's retired.

Sport is about doing, not analyzing. And when good people compete, and are patronized by good people in the stands, you get a
good result. But I'd still pack the flak jacket.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Fueling China's Fire

The geopolitical spark that ignites a global realignment may not, after all, originate from the boiling Islamist cauldron of the Middle East, but from the gray expanse of Shanghai's factory district.

Bin Ladin, Zarqawi, Al-Sadr, Khamanei, Assad, et. al. may in the long run be only bit players in a much larger civilizational challenge: accommodating China's
thirst for oil to sate its industrial momentum and the requirements of its bourgeoning middle class. Suburban sprawl spreads to the Middle Kingdom.

With 1.3 billion people, an
average 9% GDP growth over the last twenty years, and industrial production growth rate of 30%, and a net consumption deficit of 1.6 mm barrels of oil/day, China must secure long-term, external sources of oil or face the internal political dislocations of a slowing economy. And given their actions over the last few months, the Party is committed to "steppe"-ing on the gas.

Eyeing Russia's vast oil wealth, and seeing a competitor in Japan, China is playing
cat-and-mouse games over the East China Sea oil fields. At the same time, Beijing has discovered a new interest in the jungles of South America, and is cozying up to the medieval Mullahs in Tehran. Even the opportunist-extraordinaire Mr. Chirac is getting into the act.

Put all of these puzzle pieces together and you've got a Japan, pre-WWII: dynastic in world-view, economically constrained, demographically exploding, and authoritarian in nature. And we're concerned about a postage-stamp sized frozen piece of tundra on the north slope of Alaska.

With the Taiwan independence movement gaining steam, you're going to need your flame-retardant suits - we've got the ideal conditions for spontaneous geopolitical combustion.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Le Conference de Chirac

Shaking Spears provides a free translation service for those readers interested in Jacques Chirac's press conference in London, as reported by the BBC:

Dateline: London, 11/18/04

French President Jacques Chirac has called for a sounder and fairer international order based on a reformed and strengthened United Nations. Speaking in London, Mr Chirac said a world based on "the logic of power" would lead to conflict. (translation: our aircraft carrier is still in dry dock, and any conflict would require us to transport troops in this.)

He said the West could not impose its values on the world and confuse democratisation and Westernisation. (translation: If France could welcome the Nazis in WWII, oppressed peoples of the world should accept their fate as well.)

"Granted, it is still possible to organise the world based on a logic of power," Mr Chirac told a gathering sponsored by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. (translation: The gauche Texan ignores me. And they're winning.)

"Yet experience has taught us that this type of organisation is, by its very definition, unstable and sooner or later leads to crisis or conflict," he said. (translation: Don't slam the doors while we're cooking souffles.)

He said that to create a fairer world order no state could act independently. (translation: We're rapidly falling behind economically, even before the admission of Turkey to the E.U., and we intend to drag you down with us.)

"It is by recognising the new reality of a multi-polar and interdependent world that we will succeed in building a sounder and fairer international order," Mr Chirac said. (translation: Anti-Americanism sells in France, and as long as I'm President, I'm not in jail.)

We must work together to revive multilateralism, a multilateralism based on a reformed and strengthened United Nations (translation: Kofi's Oil for Food program was our meal ticket.)

The French president called for enlarging both the permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council to represent "new balances" in the world. (translation: Don't kick us off the permanent Security Council in favor of India.)

Earlier, speaking to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Chirac said the war on Iraq had not made the world more secure. "There's no doubt that there has been an increase in terrorism and one of the origins of that has been the situation in Iraq," he said. (translation: Don't trace the surge in anti-Semitic attacks in France to my hijab policy or my anti-Americanism.)

"I'm not at all sure that one can say that the world is safer." (translation: Have you read de Villepin's poetry?)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Iraq's Auschwitz; The CIA's Waterloo

"Fallujah had been suffocated by the Mujahidin. Anyone considered suspicious would be slaughtered. We would see unknown corpses around the city all the time." - Fallujah resident and survivor.

"They would wear black masks, carry rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs, and search streets and alleys. . .they executed five men one day and seven another" - Iyad Assam, 24.

The picture emerging from the aftermath of the Fallujah battle is one not of the suppression of a popular insurgency, so benignly described by Chris Matthews, but as the liberation of a terrorized populace who were subject to the imposition of the pure Islamist creed.

The discovery of human abattoirs, executed and discarded corpses, and the primeval decrees of the Mujahidin Advisory Council conjure up the horrors of another dark era in humankind's presumed march toward enlightenment: Fallujah is Iraq's Auschwitz.

Can we now retire the canard that Iraq is not central to the war on terror?

Do we need any more evidence that this is a civilizational clash which requires victory, not accommodation?

But our friend Mr. Chirac says our policies are making things worse. Landing at Normandy and driving through the Rhine made things worse too.

Meanwhile, it's clear that the careerists and establishment-types in the CIA have finally been called into account. The Global War on Terror is likely to get more hot, not less, and the methods required to ferret out Islamist thugs aren't likely to pass Frank Church's rules of etiquette.

The timidity of the terror war in the 90s, and the intelligence failures of 9/11 and Iraq show the limits of technical intelligence gathering and clinical analysis - Bush and Goss are cleaning house to make way for a new generation of risk-takers. From Iraq's Auschwitz to the CIA establishment's Waterloo, the war rages on.

The Terminal

As a 100,000 miles per year air traveler, I see a lot of in-flight movies, almost all without the sound (I'm busy reading, ipodding, or laptop-tapping).

The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks (now playing E/B on American, W/B on Continental), is about some guy from some foreign country that has some problem getting past U.S. customs. He then lives in the Terminal for an extended period of time for some reason (who needs sound?).

This got me thinking. What would it be like to live in various airport terminals around the country?

Detroit (DTW): McNamara Terminal - like living in the Ritz. And you could ride the indoor train over and over again. Smith Terminal - like living in a Skid Row half-way house (watch for falling ceiling tiles, exposed electrical wiring, and hypodermic needles.)

Dallas (DFW): Designed by a moron, guaranteed to keep you fit and trim as you race through
the semi-circular gate areas trying to catch your next plane. Only take the tram if you've got hours to spare. If you're returning a rental car, don't arrive from the North (you'll burn a tank of gas getting to the rental center.) Like living in a gymnasium.

Atlanta (Hartsfield): As JFK said about Washington, DC, it's got the South's efficiency with the North's charm. Will they ever change the computer voice on the tram? God forbid if an escalator goes out. As fun as the traffic on Georgia 400.

Denver Intl: Big and roomy, and out on the plains, the main terminal is a shopper's and diner's paradise. Like living in an upscale ski chalet near a shopping mall. Put another log on the fire and watch the snow fall. You need to take a helicopter to get downtown, however.

Oakland Intl (home base): Like living in a Greyhound Bus Terminal. Only without the coziness or the privacy. The Fallujah Motel 6 would be more enjoyable. You need shoulder pads and a helmet to get through the crush.

And the winner is. . .

Austin Bergstrom International: Live Country & Western music on Thursdays (!), killer barbeque restaurants, great gift shops, displays of vintage guitars, clean restrooms, uncongested, and you walk to your rental car. . . "I just can't wait to get on the road again. . ."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Condi War Games Iran

Condoleeza Rice has her work cut out for her.

Not only does she have to preside over the stabilization of Iraq, jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian Road Map for Peace (sic), prevent North Korea from obtaining more nukes, and insure that China and Taiwan don't lob missiles at each other, she's going to have to deal with European car envy.

But one issue needs to take priority. And the options aren't reassuring.

Iran is embarked in a effort to enrich 37 tons of uranium, and it is resisting IAEA efforts to regulate their efforts. In addition, the Iranians announced that it had missiles capable of hitting targets 1,250 miles away, reaching well past Israel into Europe as well as to India. The image of the crazy mullahs with intercontinental, nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles is enough to make you rush out to see this.

James Fallows, editor of the Atlantic magazine, anticipated this geopolitical minefield and assembled a team of political and military experts to war game a scenario in which U.S. intelligence determines that Iran nuclear capabilities are imminent.

The war game panel reached some tentative conclusions: 1) An Israeli pre-emptive strike was likely to fail and the political and military costs would be too high, 2) A U.S.-led pre-emptive air strike to take out Iran's nuclear facilities was also likely to, at best, only delay Iran's eventual nuclear capabilities, and 3) a full-scale invasion for regime-change, while technically feasible, would likely result in a U.S. military presence stretched too thin given the span of its responsibilities in the Mid East. A "lite" option of punitively striking Iranian Revolutionary Guard units was deemed feasible, but not of itself able to turn back their march to nuclear capability.

Fallows, a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter (not a career-enhancing item on one's resume) doesn't address other options: 1) full-scale covert operation to de-stabilize the regime and assist the bubbling pro-western, counter-revolutionary movement, and 2) holding a nuclear-capable Iran to account for any future nuclear terror attack on the U.S., whereby we, in advance, would assume that Iran was responsible for instigating any such attack and would therefore be our first (nuclear) counterstrike.

The mullahs are desperately holding on to their state power, and a U.S. policy of nuclear retaliation could provide a deterrent effect with respect to their terrorist-supporting activities. It might also enlist them to police the dissemination of their weapons and materials. This approach would have to be accompanied by total sanctions (including a blockade) to insure that their capabilities do not grow.

Short of these options, we're back to building a missile defense shield and aggressive diplomacy. Given France's opposition to Security Council sanctions on Iran, Condi has a monumental task in front of her. Maybe she could accidentally roll over Jacques Chirac with an SUV.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Ring of Fire: From Krakatoa to a Country Near You

On Tuesday, October 2, 1883, a Dutch soldier in the port town of Banten, Indonesia, was carrying out rescue and recovery operations in the wake of the Krakatoa eruption. Suddenly, a bearded man dressed in white and carrying a curved dagger jumped him from behind, and began stabbing the soldier repeatedly.

And thus, says Simon Winchester, author of Krakatoa, the Day the World Exploded, began the Islamic rebellion against the Dutch colonialists who had commercialized Indonesia, eventually turning the country into the world’s largest Muslim country – 231,000,000 and growing rapidly. Winchester’s book makes the claim that the Krakatoa eruption was not just a geophysical event, but also a geopolitical one.

Indonesia has generally been considered a “moderate” Muslim country – its roots in Javanese mysticism have historically leavened the harshness of Islam’s Arab origins. In the 1980s and 1990s, Jakarta was a booming international city where Western business flourished and was encouraged – American businessmen swarmed over the capitol city to establish new manufacturing sites for their products. But the business climate has dramatically changed, with the Bali bombings, the ongoing Islamic militant uprisings throughout the archipelago, and the policies of the former Megawati administration.

The conflicts within Indonesia are symptomatic of a wider Ring of Fire between Islamic and non-Muslim countries, reaching from the Philippines, through Thailand, China, India, the Caucuses, the Balkans, Greater Europe, Spain, down through Sudan, Nigeria, Namibia, and the entire continent of Africa. The inability of assimilation or peaceful co-existence between these two cultures is the central thesis of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations.

These external conflicts are also a manifestation of the internal civil war between Islamic radicals and non-militants, where this fault line is growing.

In geology, the Ring of Fire refers to the clashing of tectonic plates and their resultant volcanic activity. We’re witnessing another Ring of Fire, as unpredictable and potentially as lethal as the Krakatoa eruption.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Liberating Baghdad-by-the-Bay

On those crisp, clear winter days, in between the weekly Pacific rain storms that cleanse the city, you can stand out on the wharf and see forever across the wind-chopped bay, from the noble Golden Gate, back over to Sausalito, the lonely Alcatraz and Angel Islands, and across to Berkeley. Green hills rim the bay and keep it from overflowing its shores, protecting this intrusion of the Pacific into the mainland.

In the boat slips sea lions compete for buoy space, barking in a cacophony of marine sounds, and gulls circle and dive for discarded snacks. Sea smells, some natural, some from the nearby restaurants, waft through your nostrils and clear your head. Behind you the sloping hills and terraced buildings watch out over the fields of water that lap against the pier. The breeze braces your face and causes you to bundle up with your wife. You like it here.

This is the “Baghdad-by-the-Bay,” as the late San Francisco columnist Herb Caen used to describe the City. He was referring to its exotic, bohemian character that has as its pedigree the Gold Rush and the roaring ‘20s. Italian immigrants in North Beach, Asians in Chinatown, adventurous mid-Westerners, African-Americans, Mexican migrants, Gays, Straights, you name it. . . come together on this Peninsula and create an urban stew that can be as energizing as the elements out on the wharf.

But the story doesn’t end here. The natural beauty of its surroundings masks the deep decay that is endemic on the streets – homeless people, most deeply ill or drug-addicted – roam aimlessly and grow coarse as they fight the elements. Hundreds die each year from overdoses and infections. Paying for its misguided romanticizing of the Vagrant, and its encouragement of all across the country to come to Zion, the City on the Bay now resembles Calcutta more than ancient Baghdad.

San Francisco continues to reel from its inability to deal with its 15,000 homeless, its political paralysis in attending to the problem, and how best to allocate the $200 million of public funds that have been earmarked for its eradication.

Mayors who have confronted the issue head-on have been defeated (Frank Jordan); Willy Brown, like a modern-day Marie Antoinette, simply ignored it (and was re-elected), and the current mayor Gavin Newsom has paid lip service to the issue and opted instead for same-sex marriages. The Supervisors who run City Hall could be political consultants in a Michael Moore movie.

For the compassion of those who are out on the streets, this issue needs to be solved.

New York and Chicago have proven that this problem is not intractable – Rudy Giuliani, for example, has shown that a humane public policy focused on 1) drug and mental health treatment, 2) providing available shelter, 3) vigorous welfare to work programs and incentives, 4) food payments instead of cash, and 5) stepping up street policing of quality-of-life offenses can make the difference and save lives.

It’s time to liberate Baghdad-by-the-Bay. A city this beautiful shouldn’t be punishing the weakest within it.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

What Chicken Fingers Can Teach the Democrats

The Democratic Party's navel-gazing has come up with some interesting theories as to why this election was lost, but it may have finally stumbled on an answer that could lead to a solution to their electoral woes.

According to one Democratic Party operative, the answer lies in their leadership's dining habits: they don't eat at Applebee's.

If the Washington elite, the theory goes, ordered more chicken fingers and chocolate fudge brownies, they just might get in touch with the values of those Red State voters.

Close, but no cigar.

Yes, Applebee's does hold the answer to their problem, but not in the way that these pundits suggest. Applebee's - (I prefer Chilis, and even Ruby Tuesday's with their low-carb menu) - does an outstanding job of meeting customer demands for convenient, low to medium priced American-cuisine meals with a friendly atmosphere and good service. Strategically placed near Marriott Courtyards and Hilton Garden Inns, they are the business travelers' staple for a quick bite after a long flight the night before the business meeting. And they take AMEX.

What these strategists are missing is that this business model was strategically planned, thoroughly researched, operationally designed, and ruthlessly executed to bring the customers those crunchy chicken fingers in a cost-effective manner. I bet that Applebee's also outsources some elements of their business so that they can focus on their perceived core competencies. And some business person had to put their capital at risk to get the whole enterprise off the ground.

These are the businesses that make America tick, and Americans are running them with pride, including the purchasing clerk who insures there is enough ketchup at each restaurant, to the truck driver who delivers the food and supplies, the manager who staffs the waitresses and cooks, the corporate quality control manager who insures consistent levels of service, and on and on. Each one of these employees tries to add value by lowering cost, improving service, and generating more customers. They understand competition.

Democrats see the business landscape as a rigged game with fat cats exploiting the workers at the bottom. Recent corporate scandals certainly show that this indeed occurs, and these excesses must be stopped, but the rule is more of people coming together to make business work.

So. . . instead of dining at Applebee's, the political strategist should GO TO WORK at Applebee's.

He would see that Americans want businesses to flourish, they want to keep more of their take-home pay, they want a dynamic job market so that they can switch jobs if they don't like the boss, and they generally don't want to be beholden to a union.

Mr. McAuliffe, can I have another Diet Coke?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Under the Radar

In the wake of this past election season's humiliation of the Main Stream Media (e.g. Rathergate, exit polls, missing Iraq explosives, ABC News memos ordering a tilt to Kerry, the NYTimes, etc.), it's up to pajama-clad bloggers to point out recent critical news stories that went under the radar but are as important as the lead in Peter Jennings' broadcast:

1) Missile defense deployment: the U.S. is quietly deploying a missile defense system to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles potentially armed with nukes. Read this, and ignore the snotty commentary.

2) Resumption of six-nation talks on North Korea: Kerry twisted himself in knots calling for multi-lateralism in Iraq but bi-lateralism with Korea. While he was twisting, Kim Jong-Il gleefully ignored international pressure, waiting for Kerry to win and prostrate himself in Pyongyang. Bush won, and this is the result.

3) The suicide of the European Union: Belgium is the latest "country" in the E.U. to demonstrate its fecklessness in the face of the Islamo-fascist threat. Their leading party was "banned"(!) because it objected to female genital mutilation in Islamic countries. How dare they.

4) Blowout Jobs Report: Reuters chokes on having to report a blow-out jobs report, proving that the economy is steaming ahead. 337,000 new jobs mysteriously appear after the election.

5) Madonna's Foreign Policy: Oh wait, this got TONS of press! Glad the media is covering the things that matter.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Secular President

Reconcile this:

1) The modern Left has never fought harder against an American president on the grounds that Bush is forcing religious intolerance down their throats and attempting to establish a pseudo theocracy.

2) George W. Bush, supposed puppet of the Evangelical Right, has done more for the cause of global Secularism than the combined efforts of the modern Left in toto.

Or, as Christopher Hitchens so effectively captures this contradiction, "the left apologizes for religious fanatics. The president fights them."

And this from one of the Left's leading intellectuals.

Recognizing that the Global War on Terror is a fight against an Islamic Fascism that is wedded to a cult of death, Hitchens continues: "Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left."

The Taliban ruthlessly destroyed historic Buddha statues, executed "heretics" that didn't wear their beards long enough, shrouded their women and kept them from being educated, promoted honor killings, and subjugated 20 million people in a 7th century barbaric hell, and yet Bush is the religious extremist.

The left's apologetics for the Islamo-fascists have lost all intellectual coherence:

"from the first day of the immolation of the World Trade Center, right down to the present moment, a gallery of pseudointellectuals has been willing to represent the worst face of Islam as the voice of the oppressed. How can these people bear to reread their own propaganda? Suicide murderers in Palestine—disowned and denounced by the new leader of the PLO—described as the victims of "despair." The forces of al-Qaida and the Taliban represented as misguided spokespeople for antiglobalization. The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as "insurgents" or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. If this is liberal secularism, I'll take a modest, God-fearing, deer-hunting Baptist from Kentucky every time."

And Hitchens ominously warns:

"We have seen it at work on the streets of our own cities, and most recently on the streets of Amsterdam. We know that the obscene butchery of filmmaker Theo van Gogh was only a warning of what is coming in Madrid, London, Rome, and Paris, let alone Baghdad and Basra."

The fascists are already threatening further mayhem should the Dutch actually begin to fight back against this cult of death. Given that it's the artists, writers, and intelligentsia that are the first to be attacked by the Islamists, when will we see more Hitchens-like conversions from the American left?

I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The E.U. Conundrum

The current anti-American rantings of the European press, political class, and public at large is, post election, of no great surprise. The decisive Bush victory has only increased their vitriol by undercutting their premise of his illegitimacy and causing the Europeans to acknowledge that his policies have popular support.

Bush has continued to reach out, but he has not been overly solicitous of the E.U. He has not let his unpopularity there sway the key elements of his foreign policy.

But recent stirrings within the E.U. suggest that the obstacles to reconciling U.S. & E.U. policies may be insurmountable .

As Martin Walker writes, Jacques Chirac's knee jerk "multi-polarity" rationale is now the founding principle of his and his successor's (de Villepin) foreign policy. United Nations pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions must be countered, say the French, not because a nuclear-capable Iran is undesireable, but because it is favored by the Americans. Creating an E.U./China bloc is of greater French interest than assuring the Mullahs don't get nukes.

Across the channel, Michael Howard, the Tory leader in Britain, has chosen to stake out the ground as the "un-poodle," being willing to "dis" Bush in order to differentiate himself from Blair and curry favor with the Guardian and Independent. The party of Margaret Thatcher is now led by a man who exhibits the graciousness of Michael Moore. It is clear that British support for Bush in both parties is only as deep as Tony Blair.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, the assassination of Theo Van Gogh, during which a Muslim Manifesto was pinned to his bloody corpse, has stirred the people but cowed the politicians.

So where do these events leave U.S. policy vis a vis the E.U.? Up to this point the U.S. has steadfastly supported tight integration of the E.U. and its eastward expansion, including the membership of Turkey. But the E.U. itself remains split on Turkey's admission.

The European model of expansive welfare states cannot be sustained with their endemically low GDP and employment rates, the aging of their population, and their below-replacement birth rates.

They can't support their current model unless they ramp up economic growth, but they can't grow unless they increase their working age populations to pay for the transfer payments to their aging population. The only hope to reinvigorate the shrinking working class is to open up immigration and ultimately "Islamicize" - a demographic fact that many scholars say will happen by mid-century.

That is the E.U. conundrum. With their current knee-jerk "multi-polarity" as their guiding principle, and their demographic trends as their fate, the U.S. needs to assess whether the E.U. is worth the effort.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Brian Wilson Smiles Again

38 years after its conception, Brian Wilson performs his “teenage symphony to God

The casual pop/rock listener’s familiarity with the Beach Boy classics, and their association with an era and youth culture of early sixties innocence, can overshadow the full appreciation and experience of their songs – at Brian Wilson’s concert this past week at Davies Hall in San Francisco, one fan wore a shirt insisting “it’s not about surfing!”

But when one ponders the grand, chugging intro to “California Girls,” the soaring harmonies of “I Get Around,” or the orchestral arrangements of “God Only Knows,” the question of “from whence did this aural splendor come from?” becomes inevitable.

And when the creator, writer, producer, and arranger of these gems emerges for a new and rare concert tour for the performance of his unfinished, epic master-work, those that include pop music as part of their lives need to take notice.

Wilson took the flat cave paintings of sixties pop/rock and exploded them into a three dimensional color wheel of melody, harmony, and sonic depth.

His innovations in modular recording techniques, layered harmonies, unconventional song structures, and orchestrated arrangements, solidified his reputation as a creative genius and rock Gershwin. The well-known storyline of his emotional breakdown, drug abuse, his man-child eccentricities, and decades of seclusion added fuel to the mad-genius mystique.

But what can we make of his newly finished work, key elements of which have been released as individual songs over the years but not as part of his full vision?

Smile” is a three-movement pop/avant-guard score that evokes the sweep of Americana, childhood and the father-son relationship, and ruminations on youth. It is a musical theme park that pushes the artistic boundaries today, just as it would have shattered them in the sixties.

With lyrics provided by Van Dyke Parks, a fellow wunderkind composer and arranger on his own, these two twenty-something kids initially collaborated on an ambitious project that was to take the accomplishments of Pet Sounds, and popular music in the late sixties as a whole, into uncharted depths.

Thirty seven years after the process fell apart, both artists re-united to complete the project, record a CD, and have Brian take it on the road. On Thursday night, we heard it performed live in all of its glory, filled with whimsy, humor, and emotion.

The overall impression after the performance is one of creative freshness and a musical work that shares the timeless qualities of his classics. It belongs in your collection.

The first suite begins with the hymn “Our Prayer,” is anchored by the rollicking “Heroes and Villains,” and ends with “Cabin Essence,” a song that conjures up the vast plains and wilderness of the American West. This section is a romp, similar to a three-penny opera score, that is accompanied by an abstract storyline of Westward expansion across the American continent.

The second movement is the most cohesive of the three, beginning with the French-horn spiced “Wonderful” and flowing through to the grand “Surf’s Up” where Wilson’s falsetto rejoices at the end “I heard the word, wonderful thing, a children’s song!”

The third section alternates between humor (“I Wanna Be Around/Workshop”), whimsy (“Vega-Tables”), contemplation (“Wind Chimes”), and ultimately the payoff of the classic “Good Vibrations,” placed in its originally-intended position as a finale to the whole work.

The Smile performance began the second set of the San Francisco show. In the first set, Brian took the stage surrounded by his incredibly versatile and youthfully exuberant band, the Wondermints. Beginning with a set of acoustic and a cappella arrangements, Brian was protectively surrounded by the band as they charmingly reproduced some of Wilson’s finest: Surfer Girl, Wendy, Add Some Music to your Day, Good to my Baby, Let me Wonder, Drive in, Good Timing, and Dreams Come True.

After moving to his keyboard console positioned squarely at the front of the stage, the band kicked into an electrified Sloop John B, and the house tingled with the excitement of the full band treatment of the Beach Boys classics. California Girls, God Only Knows, Sail on Sailor, and I Get Around were rousingly performed by this ensemble who obviously adores Brian and his work.

Sitting two seats to our left, I watched as the curmudgeonly Neil Young joined the crowd in several standing ovations and sing alongs. One gets the feeling that there are few shows that Young would be caught swaying to the music.

For encores, the crowd was in full sing along mode to Barbara Ann, Help Me Rhonda, Surfin USA, and Fun, Fun, Fun. The 63-year old Wilson re-took the stage for a final number, explained to the audience “sorry, no more rock and roll tonight”, and finished up solo with a touching “Love and Mercy.” Seeing Wilson sing strongly through a full set of his music is an uplifting experience given the personal demons that he has had to overcome.

Smile is Wilson’s Fantasia, a collection of timeless scenes and stories, colored brightly with musical themes that are independent of era or genre. It delights the senses of both young and old. Judging from the applause of the San Francisco crowd, and this reviewers’ own reaction, Smile will leave you grinning from ear to ear.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Calling Bob Dole

"Britney (Spears) got $10 million bucks for the commercial. I got a lifetime supply of Pepsi."

Mrs. Shaker and I just returned from an evening at the San Jose, CA Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner, at which Bob Dole was the featured speaker.

Working the crowd like a seasoned nightclub comic, Dole offered up quips and self-deprecation to keep the well-attended crowd in stitches, but laced his talk with serious and inspirational observations that demonstrated the caliber of this man.

He said that he keeps getting invitations to these events because the audience expects him to come with free samples of his endorsed products (think little blue pills).

As a set up to his speech, a three-minute video was played that detailed his childhood in rural Kansas. What was notable for me was the fact that the video ended just as WWII began, never mentioning his war heroism or his long career in the U.S. Senate. One wonders how much more effective John Kerry would have been had he chosen to run as a silent, and humble, war veteran.

Dole recounted his recent trip to Libya where he met with Moammar Ghadafi. Ghadafi said that in preparation for their discussion he had read Dole's condemnations in the Congressional Record, and that he wanted Dole to know that he was committed to taking his country in a new direction that wouldn't warrant such criticism. Dole's anecdote reinforced the power and example that the U.S. wields on the world stage, and that our current course in the War on Terror is indeed yielding the right dividends - the dismantling of Libya's WMDs being prima facie evidence.

He spoke sincerely about the government's need to focus on ideas and problem solving vs. partisanship and polarization, using the bipartisan effort to reform Social Security in the 80s as a model of the spirit of American resolve. Tom Daschle could have heeded Dole's words.

Dole singled out the Mainstream Media as an institution that was in dire need of self-reflection, eliciting applause from this bipartisan California audience.

And he spoke of the WWII Memorial, and how a recent immigrant who was not a WWII veteran was the largest single contributor to the effort, writing a check for $1 million dollars. This Armenian immigrant wanted to give thanks to the U.S. for freeing Europe, and fighting for liberty and democracy around the globe.

Dole is an optimistic man, imbued with those heartland values that we are now being told are odd, intolerant, and somehow regressive. Yet it was obvious to all who attended that our government could use more men like Bob Dole to help smooth the partisan divide and coalesce our political rivalries around the big issues that confront us.

Calling Bob Dole.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Did Gavin Newsom Re-Elect Bush?

A theme running through the MSM election post-mortems is that cultural issues, and religious values in particular, were the driving force behind Bush’s popular vote majority - vividly illustrated by electoral maps at the state, and more impressively, at the county level, bathed in a sea of red.

Pollsters who identified the religious/non-religious split between Bush and Kerry voters explained that this energy was summoned up within the rural and suburban communities and focused on the question of sanctioning gay marriages, where state constitution amendments were on the ballot in eleven states.

If it weren’t for this divisive social issue that stirs the passions, Bush would not have been able to capitalize on the religious-right’s fears of same-sex marriage being codified into law.

And this issue might not have become the rallying cry for the fundamentalists had Gavin Newsom, boy-wonder mayor of San Francisco, not chosen to ignore California’s own laws and issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, thereby opening the floodgates for other states and municipalities.

59 million people turned out to slap down the upstart, and overly-ambitious, democratic poster-boy from the Sodom and Gomorrah of the West.

Interesting theory. But it is a rationale meant to circumscribe Bush’s victory, and conveniently ignores the greatest challenge of this generation, the fight against Islamist fascism and terror.

Contrary to the hysterics of coddled pundits, millions of mainstream Bush voters (MSBVs) went to the polls and voted 1) to aggressively pursue the War on Terror despite the ugliness and messiness of war, 2) to reject the America-as-evil-empire moral equivalence of the Michael-Moore Left, 3) to reinforce the individual’s control over their financial destiny through Social Security reform, Medical Savings Accounts, and lower taxes, 4) and to limit the judicial fiat of activist judges in matters that affect the social fiber of the nation.

You don’t have to be a Bible-toting caricature of a right-wing zealot to ascribe to these principles.

This rationale more fully captures the true motivations of Tuesday’s voters. If same-sex marriage was the deciding factor, then gays would not have voted for Bush in the same percentages as they did in 2000.

We have seen a profound shift in the body politic, with the credibility of the Mainstream Media, the radical Left, and major elements of the Democratic Party being called into account. For the good of the nation, the Democrats need to respond by offering alternative means to achieving these worthy goals, not by misrepresenting the character of the MSBV.


Michael Moore sighting?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Zogby's Last Call - Kerry Electoral Landslide

Perhaps destined to be the stake in the heart of their credibility as a polling organization, with the benefit of almost a full day of actual voting:

Released: November 02, 2004

Our CallZogby International's 2004 Predictions(as of Nov. 2, 2004 5:00pm EST)

2004 Presidential Election Electoral Votes: Kerry 311 Bush 213

Too Close To Call Nevada (5) Too Close To Call Colorado (9)

The nationwide telephone poll of 955 likely voters was conducted (November 1-2, 2004).

The MOE is +/- 3.2 2004 Battleground States: Zogby calls Florida, Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire for Kerry.

Monday, November 01, 2004

As We Await the Fate of the Free World. . .

. . . some interesting tidbits from around the horn:

Victor Davis Hanson puts our successes in Afghanistan and Iraq into historical perspective and explains that our problems in Fallujah can be traced to the Turkish Assembly. . .

Fred Barnes explains why the Democrats have no shame and the press feels justified in going into the tank for Kerry. . . hat tip Viking Pundit.

More good economic news that is reported as bad economic news. . .(don't you just love how economic expansion is reported as "not as fast as previous quarters" or "slowing" or "lower than expected"). . . we continue to outpace the rest of the industrialized world. . .

AlphaPatriot finds a nice entry on the Churchill/Bush theme, picking up from this meme.

For all you Road Warrior compatriots, a nice site to help plan your trips and maximize comfort.

Finally, look for my review this weekend on this site of the upcoming Brian Wilson concert in S.F. in which he performs the infamous Smile. . .