Polls, polls, polls
has a run-down of the polls. There's something for everybody. I think the polls show a slight Bush lead nationally. Of course, national polls don't determine the presidency. Rather, it is now pretty clear that the election comes down to the following states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Whose ahead in these states? Take a look for yourselves and see if you can tell. Do you believe the Mason-Dixon polls? They show a pretty decisive win for Bush. Like Zogby? Kerry's your man. Probably, which poll you like is determined by which candidate you like. Zogby was the most accurate in 2000, but Mason-Dixon was the most accurate in the 2002 Senate races. Gallup, despite criticism on the left, gives a mixed bag.
I've heard from Republican friends, that Republican candidates poll poorly over the weekends. Who knows if this is true. Charlie Cook, on Meet the Press today, predicted a Bush win. Cook is probably the top political analyst when it comes to horse-races, but really, I feel there's no way to say who's going to win tonight.
John Kerry On The Bin Laden Tape
"I, for one, welcome our new Arab overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted leader of the United States, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground oil wells. Remember to vote Democrat on November Second."
What would Kerry do? What would Kerry have done? I've been arguing with my brother about the election. He's voting for Kerry. His answers to those two question is: It doesn't matter. We know what Bush did. He didn't plan for post-war Iraq adequately. That's his position, and while I think he's wrong, it has its advantages.
But don't you think it would behoove a candidate to be able to explain what he would have done in Iraq? I missed Kerry's interview last night, but here's an excerpt
TOM BROKAW: The fact is, Senator, we still don't know what happened to those explosives. How many for sure that were there. Who might have gotten away with them. Is it unfair to the president, just as you believe he's been unfair to you, to blame him for that?
JOHN KERRY: No. It's not unfair. Because what we do know, from the commanders on the
ground, is that they went there, as they marched to Baghdad. We even read stories today that they broke locks off of the doors, took photographs of materials in there. There were materials. And they left.
TOM BROKAW: The flip side of that is that if you had been President, Saddam Hussein would still be in power. Because you--
JOHN KERRY: Not necessarily at all.
TOM BROKAW: But you have said you wouldn't go to war against him?
JOHN KERRY: That's not true. Because under the inspection process, Saddam Hussein was required to destroy those kinds of materials and weapons.
TOM BROKAW: But he wasn't destroying them.
JOHN KERRY: And we would--but that's what you--have inspectors for. And that's why I voted for the threat of force. Because he only does things when you have a legitimate threat of force. It's absolutely impossible and irresponsible to suggest that if I were President, he wouldn't necessarily be gone. He might be gone. Because if he hadn't complied, we might have had to go to war. And we might have gone to war.
But if we did, I'll tell you this, Tom. We'd have gone to war with allies in a way that the American people weren't carrying the burden and the entire world understood why we were doing it. [emphasis added]
Now, I'm not getting into the Al-Qaqaa.** But put that aside, Kerry gives you no idea whether we would be in Iraq had he been in charge. "Maybe, might, not necessarily." Kerry gives no evidence that Saddam wouldn't have been in power. He's playing it both ways.
Truth be told, Saddam would be in power. Inspections wouldn't have destroyed these weapons. Sanctions would have broken down. The UN was hopeless and France and Russia were making billions off the status quo. So instead of an unaccounted for 380 tons, you'd have about a million tons in the hands of an unshackled Saddam.
**My take is that there were probably less than 380 tons of the high-level explosives there, and some of it may have been destroyed by the U.S. Some of it may have been moved by Saddam. Some of it may have been looted. But there's no way that 380 tons could have been looted. That's too much for unorganized looters to have taken.
Steve Stone Quits
Yep. My wife heard it on SportsCentral on 720. 2004 has to go down as one of the worst years for the Cubs. The whining, choking bastards ran the best color man in baseball out of town. My guess, he was frustrated and knew that he would not get cooperation from Dusty.
I don't care about Chip leaving. Chip was mediocre at best, but Steve Stone brought an insight to the game you don't get from color broadcasters. This will simply piss off Cubs fans more than they already are.
Want to make it better, Tribsters? Get Beltran, now!!
UPDATE: The Rooftopreport took time off from spouting his left-wing agit-prop to post Steve Stone's good-bye letter
"Dear Cubs fans:
Since I put on a Cubs uniform in 1974, I've seen lots of Cubs history. There has been heartache and joy, agony and ecstasy, not to mention 21 managers and 10 general managers.
Through all of these years and more than a few broadcast partners, I have always felt a strong connection to the greatest, most loyal fans in baseball, Cubs fans.
My love for the city of Chicago and the people who came to beautiful Wrigley Field has been a constant. Over three million of you Cubs fans came to the ball park in 2004 and the TV ratings showed you watched the Cubs broadcasts in staggering numbers.
Unfortunately, the 2004 season did not end as we had hoped. It was devastating for all of us who invested our hearts, our time and in many cases our lives, in the hopes and dreams of the Cubs winning a world championship.
I am sure you have read many things about this past season and my involvement in one or two controversies. However, you have never heard my story or my perspective of the events that have brought us to this point in time.
As has always been my personal policy, it is not my intention to divulge the content of private conversations I've had with others. Likewise, I do not want to be forced into sharing my side of the story.
I came to Chicago on the high road with my credibility and integrity. Thirty years later, I choose to leave the same way.
The phrase I used that angered certain people was "I regret nothing." Well folks, I was wrong about that and want to set the record straight. I regret I won't be calling another Cubs game on WGN-TV for the greatest fans in baseball…the fans of the Chicago Cubs.
It's been a great ride. I will never forget you. Most importantly, I thank you all for every minute of happiness, you, the fans have given me.
Hurray for the us against them mentality brought to this team by Dusty Baker!
Does this look real to you?
We see this every damn election. Bogus "voter suppression" flyers created by Democrats hoping to hype voter suppression claims, and keep the focus off of their widespread voter fraud program. Look at this:
Hat tip: To Daily "I don't care if the guys risking their neck to rebuild Iraq die or not
That's what Newsweek's Evan Thomas
(no conservative by any means) says
the MSM's support for Kerry is worth
KURTZ: You've said on the program "Inside Washington" that
because of the portrayal of Kerry and Edwards as young and dynamic and
optimistic, that's worth maybe 15 points. That would suggest...
THOMAS: Stupid thing to say. It was completely wrong. But I do
think that -- I do think that the mainstream press, I'm not talking
about the blogs and Rush and all that, but the mainstream press favors
Kerry. I don't think it's worth 15 points. That was just a stupid thing
KURTZ: Is it worth 5 points?
THOMAS: Maybe, maybe.
Now, there is no doubt that the anchors, most reporters, and most
talking heads want Kerry to win. We know that CBS used forged documents
to try to nail the President. We know that CBS was planning on
releasing the Al-Qa-Qaa story the Sunday before the election, at a time
in which there would be no chance to refute or explain what happened.
Bush is maintaining a slim lead, at least on the national level. I have
no idea what the press will do between tonight and Monday, but expect
something. They will do what they can to hand this to Kerry.
what the truth is about the Al-QaQaa weapons issue. Want to know a secret? Neither does Josh Marshall
links to the Washington Times' Bill Guertz on a possible Russian conspiracy. I don't have the energy to slog through it.
Again, what I do know is the horse race, at least on the national level. As I mentioned before, there are four tracking polls going right now
. You can keep track on a daily basis, but I'm not sure that they tell you that much. One thing I've noticed is that day to day obsessing doesn't tell you the full story. For instance, Kerry picked up 2 points today in Zogby. What does that tell you? Well, Zogby says Kerry had a good night of polling. But Zogby announced that Bush was +6 on the Saturday survey. That dropped off from his three day rolling average today. Daily Kos reported that Sunday's results were +2 for Kerry. Yesterday, Zogby had Bush up + 3 in the rolling report. That tells you that Monday's poll was probably Bush + 5 (6-2+5)/3=3. Today's 3 day report had Bush +1. That would suggest that the three days were (-2+5+0)/3. Tomorrow, Kerry's +2 result will drop off. If Bush is even with Kerry tonight, you'll see Bush at +2 on the three day average. Does that mean Bush has momentum? No, it just means that a good Kerry day dropped off. The next day Bush will be defending a +5 result. So, keep that in mind when you're watching these tracking polls. (The same thing is true of the Rassmussen Reports which show Bush up. Good Kerry days have been dropped in the last two days.).
It seems to me these rolling averages, in the absence of a true trend, mislead about what's really going on.
Just how bad were the Cardinals in this World Series? This bad
. And that's before game 4, where the Cards went 4 for 30 with 2 walks and only one extra base hit, a double (ESPN has yet to update the series stats. Those lazy bastards.)
How bad? Scott Rolen, who was one of the top 4 or 5 players in the NL, went 0 for 15. Jim Edmonds, he of 42 HR and a 1.061 OPS fame? 1 for 15 (a bunt single). Albert Pujols, no RBI (I know. We're not supposed to care about RBI anymore).
Red Sox commit four errors in each of the first two games? Still not enough. Cardinals pitching
totaled 15 strikeouts in the series. That versus 20 walks.
Add in boneheaded baserunning, and it was the worst World Series performance I remember.
As a Cubs fan, I'm supposed to hate the Cardinals. I've never really gotten into that. I don't hate the White Sox, either. But I was rooting for the Cardinals during the World Series. Now, with the Red Sox winning the World Series, the city of Chicago is alone in its futility.
As I said, I lost interest in baseball when the Cubs folded. I still remember that Saturday, with the Cubs in New York against the Mets one strike away from pretty much burying the Astros for the Wild Card. I remember the Tuesday when Maddux got rocked by the Reds. What an awful week of baseball that was. I won't rehash it.
The hope that began with the Cubs offseason moves last winter breathed life into me when I needed it most. Watching Red Sox fans tonight in the streets of Boston, all I can think of is that should have been us.
The hot stove league will be smoldering in the days to come. I want Nomar, Beltran, and the best available closer (probably, Percival). Sign Walker. Give Barrett and Zambrano a raise. Sign Aramis long term. Trade Sammy for a bucket of spit. Have a DuBois/Hollandsworth rightfield platoon. Or sign Mags or J.D. Drew.
I want that feeling. Make it happen, Mr. Hendry.
For the second straight newscycle, Bush has been on defense on the Al-Qaa-Qaa (well-named) weapons depot issue. In a tight election cycle, you don't want to be on defense. Ya gotta move the ball on the other side of the fifty.
As Bill Kristol
noted, the Kerry quote
noted below is "the mother of all flip-flops." The second Kerry
quotation noted below (also linked by Kaus, a KerryhaterforKerry
) is even more damning.
Here's how I would close this election out. A trustworthy Democrat would be winning this race easily. Kerry's not. People don't trust him to be strong, in large part because of his vacilation. If I was Bush's campaign manager, I'd inject this into the bloodstream now. Follow up with Kerry's statement on Face the Nation that it would be irresponsible to vote against funding for the war.
I've gotta believe that this is the issue they'll nail Kerry on soon. It's powerful stuff. Put whether you can trust Kerry to fight the global war front and center. Because the truth is you can't. Everything else is just noise.
The Heart of Blue America
Chicago, my kind of town, except
"In predominantly democratic Chicago, it's Kerry by a landslide, 80-to-12 and the margin is 57-39 in the increasingly democratic Cook County suburbs."
More Kerry MMQBing
If you think that the world is dangerous, if you think that a realistic world-view is a must in this terrible time, consider whether you can trust Kerry to lead the war on terror. Remember, to Kerry circa
September-October 2004, Iraq was the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Iraq was a distraction to the global war on terror. During the second debate (I believe), Kerry said first that he thought Iraq "was a threat," but five minutes later, he said that Bush has allowed Iran to become more dangerous by focusing on Iraq "which was not a threat." Putting aside that inconsistency, Kerry version 10.2004 does not believe that Iraq was a crucial part of the war on terror.
Consider, however, Kerry's statements
in October 2002.
"But the administration missed an opportunity 2 years ago and particularly a year ago after September 11. They regrettably, and even clumsily, complicated their own case. The events of September 11 created new understanding of the terrorist threat and the degree to which every nation is vulnerable. That understanding enabled the administration to form a broad and impressive coalition against terrorism. Had the administration tried then to capitalize on this unity of spirit to build a coalition to disarm Iraq, we would not be here in the pressing days before an election, late in this year, debating this now.
The administration's decision to engage on this issue now, rather than a year ago or earlier, and the manner in which it has engaged, has politicized and complicated the national debate and raised questions about the credibility of their case." (emphasis added).
This is really unbelievable. Kerry blames Bush, not for rushing to war against Iraq, but for taking to long to do so. Kerry now blames Bush for lying about WMD and the case for war in Iraq. What did Kerry say in October 2002?
"I have talked about that record. Iraq never fully accounted for the major gaps and inconsistencies in declarations provided to the inspectors of the pre-Gulf war weapons of mass destruction program, nor did the Iraq regime provide credible proof that it had completely destroyed its weapons and production infrastructure
It is clear that in the 4 years since the UNSCOM inspectors were forced out, Saddam Hussein has continued his quest for weapons of mass destruction. According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of the 150 kilometer restriction imposed by the United Nations in the ceasefire resolution. Although Iraq's chemical weapons capability was reduced during the UNSCOM inspections, Iraq has maintained its chemical weapons effort over the last 4 years. Evidence suggests that it has begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents, probably including mustard gas, sarin, cyclosarin, and VX. Intelligence reports show that Iraq has invested more heavily in its biological weapons programs over the 4 years, with the result that all key aspects of this program--R&D, production and weaponization--are active. Most elements of the program are larger and more advanced than they were before the gulf war.
Again, explain to me why you believe Bush was lying when Kerry was saying the same thing. Explain to me how Kerry has been "consistent" on Iraq. Explain how you can have any confidence in a person who will discard his position on the key issue of a generation when times get tough. Kerry will lead this country into paralysis while the killers gather. No number of UN conferences with bloated cleptocrats and dictators will lead to American safety. We can't afford four years of this guy.
points to a Kerry statement made in a November 2001 interview with John McGluaghlin. Kerry himself pointed to this article to argue that he had contemporaneously argued for more "boots on the ground" during Tora Bora. Mickey nicely destroys Kerry on that point. But, what's more startling about this interview is Kerry's statement:
"I have no doubt, I've never had any doubt -- and I've said this publicly -- about our ability to be successful in Afghanistan. We are and we will be. The larger issue, John, is what happens afterwards. How do we now turn attention ultimately to Saddam Hussein?
How do we deal with the larger Muslim world? What is our foreign policy going to be to drain the swamp of terrorism on a global basis? [Emphasis added]"
Mickey's comment is spot on, "Wait--I thought shifting the focus to Saddam was a "diversion" and distraction from the fight against Al Qaeda! Not, apparently, when Kerry saw an opportunity to score political points by advocating it."
Kerry's disingenuousness on Iraq is startling. He simply has not been "consistent" about Iraq "all along." Two months after 9/11, and Kerry's looking to turn his attention to Saddam. Kerry's statement underscores that he saw Saddam Hussein as the next logical and necessary target in the global war on terror. But now that Monday morning quarterbacking can score some cheap points, he's piling on (to mix my football metaphors).
Was Kerry LYYYYINNNG when he made this statement? Was Kerry looking for an excuse to take out Saddam and just using 9/11 as an excuse? If you're a Kerry supporter, I'd really like to hear how you explain this and his claim of being consistent.
Well, This Changes Things a bit...
My post last night about the weapons being looted after the liberation of Iraq expressed my depression at what seemed to be incompetence on the part of the Bush administration. But NBC news reports
that those weapons, some 380 tons, had been moved prior to the invasion.
It's hard to blame Bush for this, but regardless, our troops are facing an enemy armed with 380 tons of explosives that can be used in car bombs. The question remains whether there was planning on how to destroy the weapons during the war or whether the administration considered the possibility that weapons would be preemptively given to terrorists, making the occupation so difficult.
Interesting Poll Anomoly
I've become obsessed watching polls. I know something about statistics,
but am by no means an expert. I understand that if a poll shows a 50-47
split with a plus/minus 3 margin of error, it means that 95% of the time
the actual vote total would be somewhere between 53-44 and 47-50.
But, of course, if there's garbage in (a disproportionate sample, for
example), there's garbage out. I've been thinking about this because of
the four tracking polls I've been following (again, you can find the
daily results on realclearpolitics.com
). As I understand tracking polls, they're three day rolling averages. One of the advantages is
that you should be able to see trends emerging. And looking at the
polls individually over the weekend, you could see these trends. Bush
opening a wide lead in the TIPP poll. Bush inching ahead in the Zogby
poll. Kerry pulling even in the Washington Post poll. And Kerry edging
ahead in the Rasmussen poll.
Of course, taken cumulatively, the four polls tell you nothing.
Probably one of them is right, but since they're all inconsistent,
there's no way to tell which one. My theory is that weekend polls are
garbage in--at night, more people are likely to be gone from their
house, increasing the likelihood of skewed results. This is my approach
to weekend polls--ignore 'em. Too inconsistent to give you an idea of
what's happening. I predict that a trend will be established over the next three days. Something tells me that this won't be a close election one way or the other. We'll see.
The Politics of Bad Faith
For those of you who screach Bush is a LIIIAAARRR, check out your candidate's approach to Bush's "admission" that there's no way to prevent 100% of terrorist attacks. Sean Hannity asked the President whether the country could prevent all instances of terrorist attacks, and the President said, "Whether or not we can be ever fully safe is up -- you know, is up in the air. I would hope we could make it a lot more safe by staying on the offensive," he said.
That's absolutely correct. Anyone who thinks about terrorism knows it. John Kerry knows it. If a terrorist is willing to die, he can go into a mall and blow himself up. Unless you're willing to forego civil liberties (which the Democrats howl about even in the instance of the Patriot Act), there's no stopping someone committed enough from doing it (and imagine what would be necessary to stop it).
But here's the Senator, never one to miss an opportunity to make a cheap political point: "You make me president of the United States, we're going to win the war on terror," Kerry said at an evening rally in Boca Raton, Fla. "It's not going to be up in the air whether or not we make America safe."
How did this
happen? A huge cache of conventional explosives goes disappearing after the liberation of Iraq. These weapons, it appears, are ideal for use in car bombs. Again, people are dying because of this mistake.
"In an interview with The Times and CBS in Baghdad, the minister of science and technology, Rashad M. Omar, confirmed the facts described in the letter. "Yes, they are missing," Dr. Omar said. 'We don't know what happened.'" Why not? "'Should we have gone there? Definitely,' said one senior administration official. 'But there are a lot of things we should have done, and didn't.'"
Because the war was fundamentally about disarming Iraq, wouldn't securing explosives be among the first things you'd do?
Living in a Cocoon
We all tend to emphasize facts that agree with our view and ignore,
minimize, or attempt to discredit those which do not. However, a
stronger and more accurate view is forged by confronting inconvenient
facts. I attempted to do that in my analysis as to why I support Bush.
A not-so-friendly reader took the fact that I acknowledged that Bush
made mistakes to point to my idiocy. Of course, the mistakes
acknowledged weren't the whole story, as I attempted to explain in my
posts. But it emphasizes to me why Bush was probably right to avoid
admitting any mistakes. It doesn't score you any points politically
(though, it does in the intellectual honesty department). So, I was
criticized for breaking out of a cocoon.
On the other hand, some prominent left-wing commentators can't even
fathom that they might just be wrong about anything. If you're a Kerry
supporter, the polls, especially the national polls
, are inconvenient facts right now. But, if you have a column in the New York Times, you can feel free to simply ignore these facts. You can say such nonsense
national poll results range from a three-percentage-point Kerry lead in
the A.P.-Ipsos poll released yesterday to an eight-point Bush lead in
the Gallup poll. But if you line up the polls released this week from
the most to the least favorable to President Bush, the polls in the
middle show a tie at about 47 percent." Hanging your hat on one outlier and then simply making an inaccurate statement tells you something about the person: he can't deal with inconvenient facts.
Of course, he's not alone. Josh Marshall's
warmly snug in his cocoon as well. "But on balance
there seems to be at least a mild drift in Kerry's direction over this
last week." He makes that statement by ignoring most of the polls
showing Bush up. Marshall also lovingly lists every alleged GOP "dirty
trick" while ignoring what appears to be an attempt by the Democrats at
systematic voter fraud. Won't hear a word from him about that.
I guess I should make clear that this phenomenon isn't unique to the
left. Hugh Hewitt thought Bush easily won all three debates. What is
so dispiriting is that each of us can choose to read only that which we
agree with. If writers, especially those with as many readers as
Krugman and Marshall, are living in a cocoon, they're not doing anybody
any good. We may become a country divided in two with each side simply
ignoring the other's arguments and inconvenient facts.
For my part, as small as it is, I'll try to face inconvenient facts even
if it gets me derision by some snarky reader.
Forget the Bluster
And look at a completely disingenuous statement
by O'Reilly accuser Andrea Mackris's attorney, Benedict Morelli. Morelli, when asked whether she has audiotapes of her phone calls with O'Reilly, states "Why should we tell what evidence we have?" Morelli said. "They've forced our hand enough. Now they're going on my timetable, and we want this trial to be in court." Now, Morelli knows that he's going to have to turn those tapes over before trial. That's
what the discovery process is all about. It's interesting that O'Reilly wants the tapes out, and Mackris doesn't want them heard by the public. I assume that she has sex talk on them, but O'Reilly doesn't think it will damage him. Interesting. Drudge
also has obtained her financial records that Mackris is $100,000 in debt. Now the $61,000 in student loans isn't that bad, but $37,000 in credit card bills? Yikes.
I could say vote Bush because of his tax policies (though his spending like a sailor on shore-leave bothers me). Or I could say that his judicial appointments would be better for a consistent, logical, textual view of the constitution (though I don't like his proposed anti-gay marriage amendment). But to me, those issues are pretty secondary this year.
I believe in an expansive war on terror. There is little doubt in my mind that without an aggressive war against the thugs, an attack multiple times as devastating as September 11 will occur in the US. There's still a good chance of it happening despite an aggressive war. But an agressive war is a necessary component of preventing such an attack.
Bush will fight the war. Bush has made mistakes, but they were by and large tactical errors (too few troops, over-reliance on bad intelligence, reliance on Afghan proxies at Tora Bora). Perhaps Bush is incapable of admitting his mistake not because he does not recognize the mistakes. but because of the howling of those who oppose him. He isn't in a position to give an inch to those folks. The only way to ultimately win the terror war is to transform Arab and Islamic countries into modern nation states. It will be a long, hard slog.
John Kerry is a classic Monday morning quarterback. Bush's charge that complaining is not a strategy rings true. Kerry's current charge of "outsourcing"
the fight at Tora Bora is belied by his statement at the time. Kerry's statements about Iraq at the time, in the aftermath, and in his fight against Howard Dean demonstrate that he does not have a consistent view.
Most problematically, though, is how Kerry sees America's place in the world. He sees America as subservient to the UN. He would be paralyzed in fighting the terror war because he would give the world a veto over American action. We can't afford that. Our lives are on the line here.
I know Kerry denies the world veto charge. His global test statement wasn't as bad as Bush made it. But you can't trust a man running for office. He'll blur his past positions. Here
's what he said about America's ability to unilaterally act: In 1994, discussing the possibility of U.S. troops being killed in Bosnia, he said, "If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no."
The choice in my view comes down to a candidate who has made serious mistakes in a necessary global war and a candidate who will be unable to act. I don't think that is a real choice. Viva Bush!!
I mentioned that I believe that Bush's Iraq failures were born out of
incompetence rather than mendacity. Indeed, I couldn't support a
president who lied his country into war. But an interesting question is
how I (or anyone) can support a president for reelection when he has
made such God-awful mistakes, mistakes that have cost lives.
I believe the President was not sufficiently concerned about terrorism before
9/11. Neither were you and I, nor the media in this country. I don't
remember the issue of terrorism being a major, or even minor, issue in
the 2000 presidential race, despite the USS Cole attack occurring right
before the election. However, the media and general citizens are not
charged with protecting the safety of the homeland. The President was
asleep at the switch. This I think is forgivable, particularly in light
of Bush-critic Richard Clarke's admission that none of his
recommendations would likely have stopped 9/11. There was a failure of
imagination and it was early in the administration. It was a critical
mistake, but one that can be forgiven.
The second major mistake, in my view, was relying on the faulty
intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. I discussed why I believe
Bush was not unreasonable in his belief about WMD and why he did not lie
about them. However, this is a mistake that has severely weakened the
US's position in the world and makes taking preemptive action against
Iran or any other rogue state that much more difficult. Regardless of
the intelligence failure, Bush, as President, has to be held accountable
for such a monumental error.
Finally, the post-war reconstruction/occupation has been a disaster. I
can't believe that anyone would argue otherwise. It started with the
looting after the collapse of the regime and continued as terrorists
came over the border from Iran, Syria, and other neighboring countries.
Then came the violent insurrection and the detaining of Iraqis in Abu
Ghraib prison and the attendant sexual humiliation against many who had
little or no useful intelligence to provide. It is fair to say that
these awful events occurred largely because the coalition force was not
large enough to handle occupying a population that was grateful for the
collapse of Saddam but not happy about being occupied.
These were all major errors, errors which have cost lives. I don't
think they were moral failings on the part of the President, but they definitely deserve to be noted. Why Bush is incapable of admitting to these mistakes or at least acknowledging that things didn't go according to plan is beyond me. It
rubbed me the wrong way when he refused to answer the question about
whether he has made a mistake.
So, why does Bush deserve reelection?
Obvious Lawyerly Blustering
Check out this story
about the Mackris' lawsuit against Bill O'Reilly. Mackris's attorney states: "He has not answered our complaint because they (Fox and O'Reilly) can't deny it."
Now, I don't know New York Civil Procedure Rules, but in federal court you get 20 days to answer a complaint. The suit was filed last week. The fact that the defendants haven't filed an answer says nothing except that Mackris's counsel is being disingenuous.
Thoughts from the Sidelines
Watching the playoffs this year is a bittersweet experience. I'm rooting for an Astros/Red Sox World Series, but obviously, I lack the fiery intensity of last year. The Red Sox are on the verge of the greatest playoff comeback ever. My thoughts in brief: A-Rod is (or at least was tonight) a dirty player and a cheater. He hit Bronson Aroyon as he was tagging A-Rod out on a grounder down the first base line. He swung and hit his forearm to force the ball out. This is exactly what Robert Fick did last year against the Cubs. Fick was roundly criticized because a hard swing to the forearm can break an arm. The first base umpire originally called him safe, but for the second time in the game, the crew got together and made the right call (the first was Mark "the Horn" Bellhorn's homerun, originally called a double). A-Rod knew he cheated but had the temerity to argue the call. The New York crowd showed the class we expect of Yankee fans by throwing balls and trash on the field. Nice.
I like the fact that umps now huddle to get the call right. Joe Buck, Al Leiter, et al. are right in that I think that's a new phenomenon. They did it twice and got both calls right. Joe Buck, though, was wrong to excuse A-Rod for the dirty play. He said, "well, Rodriguez might as well have done that because he would have been out anyway." That's exactly what Fick said last year. Basically, he was saying you might as well cheat if you can get away with it, even if cheating puts another player in danger of a serious injury.
Finally, if the Series ends up being Sox/Stros, look for Kerry (Mass) vs. Bush (Texas) comparisons within ten seconds after the ninth inning of the ALCS.
Lies and Those Who Screach LIARRSS!
I don't know about you, but the screaching this election year gets me down. It's tiring and tiresome. Obviously, the loudest screach is that Bush lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. I recommend anyone interested in the issue read the Duelfer
report. While the report makes clear that Iraq's WMD program was basically destroyed after the first Gulf War, Saddam made verification of this fact impossible. Saddam was Iraq, and he portrayed Iraq as having WMD throughout the '90's. He refused to comply with the UN mandate that he verify the destruction of WMDs. Fear of Iran mandated that Iraq portray itself as a regional power with the capability to use WMDs. Throughout the post-war period, he focused on ending the sanctions and resuming his WMD program. He collaborated with France and Russia to skim from the oil for food program for his own strategic purposes.
Remember that in '98, the U.S. bombed Iraq for a few days. President Clinton
justified the bombing accordingly:
"The international community had good reason to set this requirement. Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.
The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.
The United States has patiently worked to preserve UNSCOM as Iraq has sought to avoid its obligation to cooperate with the inspectors. On occasion, we've had to threaten military force, and Saddam has backed down." Read the whole thing. President Clinton concluded that Saddam had WMD. After the bombings, Iraq did not verify that it had destroyed its WMD. Based on what we knew then, there was no doubt that Iraq maintained WMD.
So, in 2002, to doubt that Saddam had WMD, you would have had to believe that he unilaterally destroyed them in the meantime. The rational position was that he maintained them. In early 2002, Saddam again did not fully comply with inspections and verify his destruction of WMDs.
Now, we know this was wrong. Saddam's program was destroyed in 1991. That we got it wrong is the worst intelligence failure (along with 9/11) since Pearl Harbor. Still, if you were the President of the United States, would you have believed that Saddam didn't have WMD? Even when all major intelligence services said he had them? Even when the Director of Central Intellegence said the case was a "slam dunk?" Even when your predecessor said he had them?
So Bush was wrong. The honest argument against Bush is incompetence, not mendacity. The error is staggering, but the screaching of LIARRRRSSS is disingenuous at best.
Bleedin' Badger Red
As a graduate of UW, I'm pretty psyched about the Badger football team. Their defense is the best college d I remember. Of course, that's when Erasmus James is playing. Unfortunately
, he's out next week. Fortunately, the Badgers are at home against Northwestern. I haven't seen any mock drafts for 2005, but I can't imagine there are many players ahead of James. He's a man among boys.
Purdue knocked him out of the game on Saturday with a chop block on a play called dead. The Badgers prevailed, thanks to a late fumble by the alleged Heisman trophy candidate, Kyle Orton. Wisconsin now plays four games against teams they should beat (Northwestern and Minnesota at home and MSU and Iowa on the road). The Badgers are currently ranked 6 in the AP and 7 in ESPN/USA Today.
If James is able to play after the Northwestern game, I like their chances to go 11-0 and maybe play for the national championship. I've heard criticism of Barry Alvarez as a game-day coach. Maybe. But Wisconsin has gone to 9 bowl games (including 3 Rose Bowl wins) in his 12 years. Prior to the Alvarez era, Wisconsin went to 6 in about 90 years. Wisconsin is now on par with Michigan and Ohio State as a football school. Keep that in mind if you want to dump on Barry, Badger fans.
That Liberal Media
Check out the reporting about the new Newsweek poll
. The Newsweek poll reveals that Bush is ahead by 6 in a three way race among likely voters. Might the headline be "Bush takes lead in race after third debate?" No. That's buried halfway into the story. Rather, the headline reads "Too Close to Call." To justify this headline, MSNBC/Newsweek use the registered voter numbers showing Bush up 2. My guess (without going to past polls), Newsweek, like most news organization, has used likely voters in the past as their touchstone. But instead, they spin it to say that turnout is going to be the key. This may be true, but it's inconsistent with how the MSM has used polls in the past.
Also, note this counterintuitive internal feature from the poll:
"Bush has a clear advantage with women, who prefer him 49 percent to 43 percent. Kerry has a slight edge with men, 50 percent to 46 percent."
There is no way Kerry is leading Bush among men. I don't believe Bush is leading Kerry among women either, though.
An anonymous poster said below "The Defense budget absolutely dwarfs education, social security, and welfare projects COMBINED." Well, that's just not true. Here's a citizen's guide
to the federal budget. Look at page 12. Defense spending is 16% of the budget. Social Security is 23% of the total budget. Personally, I consider Medicare and Medicaid to be "welfare projects" (though Medicare is not means-tested). That's an additional 19% of the budget. "Other means tested" entitlements makes up an additional 6%. That's 48% of the budget to Social Security and "welfare projects." Not exactly dwarfed by the meager 16% of the budget made up by defense spending. And we didn't even get into education... Maybe old anonymous should take his own advice and "educate himself"
Get Your Cubs Gear Here
Quick. Easy. Plus I get a cut.
has a fine selection of gear. Get your Sammy jersies before he's run out of town on a rail.
are currently having a 20% clearance sale. One interesting tid-bit is that the jerseys included in the clearance sale are Hee Seop Choi (gone), Alex Gonzales (gone), and Matt Clement (going, going...)
Voter Fraud, Voter Disenfranchisement
We hear a lot about voter disenfranchisement from the Democrats. There are reports
that a firm hired by Republicans may have trashed some voter registration forms filled out by Democrats. If so, I hope the states prosecute those responsible for it. But a bigger and more wide-spread problem is voter fraud. I have no doubt that my vote in Chicago will be swamped by literally thousands of votes by people who have either been paid to vote (in violation of law) or aren't legitimate voters at all.
We know that the Democrats sued in 2000 to keep polls open later in Missouri than the law allowed. It worked and required an emergency appeal to stop the illegal voting. It may very well have cost John Ashcroft his Senate seat.
We hear that Republicans monitor vote sites and how outrageous it is to force voters to show a picture ID. Well, why shouldn't they? Anyone who knows anything about urban voting knows about "walking around" money and phantom voters. It's not a thing of the past. People joke about voter fraud in Chicago. Personally, as a Chicago voter, I don't think it's funny.
But next time you hear Jesse Jackson or the ridiculously partisan Mary Frances Berry (Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) talk about voter intimidation, look at what
the Dem's are telling their henchmen: "If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a 'pre-emptive strike.'" In other words, make shit up. Democrat bullshit artists should quote civil rights leaders about voter intimidation despite the lack of any evidence of it happening. Nice.
It all goes to the garbage that Democrats and their creepy minions
have been spouting about how Republicans will do anything to win, whereas the Democrats have been too moral to do so. If you're a Bush voter, I recommend you read some left-leaning sites, like Josh Marshall
. You will read about Republicans trashing some yard signs. Indeed, trashing campaign yard signs is a common, bipartisan campaign action. It's unfortunate and illegal, but not the end of the world. Certainly, the people that do this aren't Klansmen
, despite what Marshall might like to suggest. But you won't hear a peep about AFL-CIO thugs
trashing Bush/Chenney headquarters in several cities. We need to win this election just to knock the smugness and self-righteousness out of these people.
As I said, I am a Bush supporter, and I listened to Fox News tonight. The pannelists were giddy about how well Bush did. I don't agree. I thought Bush fumbled the affirmative action question. What is wrong with saying: I don't think anyone should get a preference based on the color of his/her skin? You can go on and say that the key to greater equality is better K-12 education in vulnerable schools. Kerry even said he favored set-asides!! Unlike the talkingheads, most people, including majorities of all races, are against racial preferences.
On support of Roe v. Wade, why not make the same argument he made on gay marriage? I support overturning Roe because it symbolizes judges deciding a contentious issue. You can be in favor of overturning Roe without backing a complete ban on abortion. I'd like to see the issue decided by the legislatures of each state. Let the people decide abortion law, not unaccountable judges.
But maybe the problem with how I watched the debate is that I would like for someone to be able to articulate conservative positions. Bush doesn't do that very well. Partially, it is because he hasn't governed as a conservative. He was rightfully on the defensive when it came to the deficit. He hasn't controlled spending at all.
On the otherhand, Bush's style was a lot better than before. His answers on faith and the women in his life were very good and may have an impact on undecided women. Kerry seems stiff and unlikable, but that may just be me. I don't think there's anyway to tell how this will play out. I don't think that it can be spun as a big Kerry win, and I suspect that the race will stay close to tied.
is Andrea Mackris' sexual harassment complaint against Fox News talkinghead Bill O'Reilly. Here
is O'Reilly's and Fox News' lawsuit against Mackris and her attorneys, which was filed before Mackris filed her suit.
Reading both complaints, I think they both might be true. Obviously, I don't know what happened, but it seems extremely possible that O'Reilly did what he's accused of and Mackris tried to milk him for millions. Fox and O'Reilly seem to indicate that the detailed quotes in Mackris' complaint were from a tape-recording of their conversations. Some of those quotes read that way to me as well.
I'm a labor and employment lawyer, although I now just write about the law rather than litigate claims. I litigated a pretty awful sexual harassment case, and I litigated a lot of bogus employment claims. The complaints with merit generally were more detailed than those that lack merit.
Not knowing New York law, I don't know whether Fox News can defend itself by arguing that the plaintiff failed to complain about harassment despite Fox's having a complaint mechanism. That is an effective tool in federal sexual harassment cases. I also don't know whether New York allows for individual liability. Federal sexual harassment law under Title VII does not.
Putting all that aside, it seems to me that if O'Reilly did what is alleged, then O'Reilly is power-mad. He thought he could do whatever he wanted without accountability. How you can treat another person like this is beyond me.
I look forward to seeing whether he's on tonight and whether he says anything about the cases. Interestingly, O'Reilly has said on his show that those who settle claims did what they were accused of. In his words "otherwise they wouldn't have paid." I think we may witness the collapse of the most popular cable pundit.
On the other hand, I think Mackris is out for money and to make a political statement. We'll see.
UPDATE: I just saw that O'Reilly mentioned his lawsuit but refused (smartly) to get into the details of the lawsuit against him.
So, Who's Gonna Win?
Seems fair to me to say that nobody knows, and those who say they do are kidding themselves. As everyone knows, the presidency is decided through 51 separate elections (the vote total of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.). It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. I've looked at a lot of poll numbers and different projections. I currently score the election 254 E.V. for Bush, 228 for Kerry, and 56 up for grabs. You can do your own calculation here
. Based on the polls I've seen, I'd give Bush Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Colorado, Tenn., Nevada, Virginia, and West Virginia in addition to the base scale in the map. I'd give Kerry Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Washington, and Oregon. This leaves Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, and New Mexico up for grabs. If the polls are correct to date, Bush would win if he wins Ohio. He'd also win with any two of Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
At this point, there's no telling who's winning these states. Look at the various polls out tonight
. Iowa has polls going both ways, as does Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Personally, I think Kerry will win Pennsylvania, but we shall see.
As I said, with the end of the Cubs season, I will be turning my attention elsewhere. What interests me most right now is the election. Obviously, it is an extremely difficult time for the country. Talking about the election may be divisive, but I'm pretty easy to ignore.
So, if you hate the President and you've been checking in here from time to time, feel free to stay away. I'll be cataloging the ups and downs of the election, with a pro-Bush slant.
Learning from Failure
We all fail at times. I won't say there is no shame in failure because sometimes there is. But failure should not be the end of the story. Time keeps on slippin' into the future. And time can do so much. It's the great leveler. (Kids, don't try three cliches in a row without adult supervision).
After the pain of failure subsides, you have to look at how you were responsible for your failure. I've done it. It hurts, but the truism is true
: you can learn a lot from failure.
So, the Cubs failed. Dusty Baker needs to take his share of the blame. But what might be learned from the failure? I'd say that the Cubs inconsistent offense was the largest contributing factor. The inconsistent offense was due, in part, to the Cubs failure to work pitchers, draw walks, and put an emphasis on getting on base.
Here's Dusty's take on this
: ''Yeah, you need on-base percentage guys to put the pitcher in the stretch,'' he said. ''I don't agree with going up there looking for a walk unless the game situation dictates it. This isn't Little League."
A little disection is in order. First, while putting the pitcher in the stretch is a definite plus, the primary benefits of getting on base are: 1) your guy didn't make an out, thus increasing the likelihood of a big inning; 2) the team's ninety feet closer to scoring; 3) you can try to manufacture a run if the situation so dictates (stolen bases, hit and run, or bunt); and 4) subsequent homeruns won't be solo shots.
I agree that batters should not go up to the plate looking for a walk, per se
. However, it should not be sneezed at dismissively. Look at the context of the article. He's talking about Patterson as a leadoff guy. Patterson improved this year in taking walks. He still didn't do it enough. He did not work the count enough. This is a direction Corey should be encouraged to go in, especially if Dusty wants him as a leadoff man.
Dusty's made other comments about walks prior to the season. He disparaged them for "clogging up the bases." He said he didn't like walks because they weren't any fun. Little guys in little league are encouraged to walk. He thinks that steals the fun from the game.
Well, Dusty, playing in the playoffs is fun. I'm seeing a lot of guys having fun tonight while we're sitting at home.
The Cubs were 25th out of 30 teams in walks. The Angels
are the only playoff team worse than the Cubs. The Cubs were 23rd in OBA
, lower than all playoff teams. The Cubs, however, did do better in OBA than the Royals, Pirates, Brewers, Devil Rays, Mets, Expos, and Diamondbacks.
So, Dusty, take some time to reflect on your failure. Take fifteen minutes and consider why the Cubs offense couldn't score three runs against Al Leiter, or scratch across a run against the vaunted Reds bullpen in two extra-inning losses. Failure's an opportunity for growth. It's time (actually, past time) to grow up.
Hard Losses, Hard Wins
I was reading my archives last night. What struck me was how often I wrote about games that got away. I reasoned that this was not surprising because there seemed to be a lot of them this year, and the Cubs seemed to win a lot of games 10-3, 9-2, etc. In fact, in thinking about the season, the only really inspiring win that comes immediately to mind is the game in which Baker forgot to make the double switch and Ramon Martinez batted out of order. Sosa and Alou hit back to back homeruns in the ninth to win the game, I believe. Thinking more about it, there was a walk-off by Gonzales early in the year, and one by Patterson.
There weren't any in the final 9 games though, and that's what sticks with me about the season. Obviously, there were four games in that stretch that were extremely winnable (enough to make the playoffs). These were the Prior game in New York, the Rusch game against the Reds, the Prior game against the Reds, and the Zambrano game against the Braves.
Maybe it's just the freshness of the melt-down. Or maybe there were more tough loses than inspiring and dramatic wins. Or, just perhaps, as a Cubs fan, I'm so prone to heartbreak that they just stick out in my mind. So let me know. What winning games stick out most in your mind from this season?
Goodbye to All That
Today, I went to the last Cubs game of the 2004 season, not so much to enjoy a nice day at the park as to say goodbye to a team that failed in a way that no other Cubs team has (In my lifetime, at leat. Older folks have '69, which was much worse).
Just a little background. I had a very difficult time last fall and winter. It's not fair to say that it was because of the Cubs, but the Cubs didn't help any. I went to all of the home Atlanta games last season. I was ecstatic. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior pitched so beautifully during that series that I couldn't believe that they were Cubs.
I went to the first two games against the Marlins. I remember Sammy's homer to tie the game. I remember the disappointment in losing that game, and the joy of winning the next. I remember sitting at John Barrleycorn as Aramis Ramirez hit a grand slam off Dontrelle Willis. On a weekend afternoon, I had a bad cold and watched Carlos Zambrano lose game five against an unhittable Josh Beckett. I figured that it was okay. We had Prior and Wood at home.
I remember the joy of "five outs away." Kissing my fiance (now wife) and high-fiving everyone in sight with every out that got us to that point. I sat in Section 204 and watched a foul ball drift down the line, towards section 4. I remember Moises Alou jumping and screaming. I couldn't see exactly what happened, but 10 seconds later, the crowd behind the polls were screaming (they had a TV showing them a replay). We know what happened next...
The next day, everyone at work was kind to me, knowing that I was a mess. I took a friend to the game, and he said there was no chance that the Cubs would win. Momentum, he said. Fresh off of reading Moneyball, I thought I was taking a rational point of view in thinking the previous night wouldn't matter. Kerry Wood was pitching, for Christ's sake. I remember Kerry's game-tying homerun and the shot of pleasure was like nothing else I'd felt at a sporting event. We remember what happened after...
I walked home. My fiance had left for New York. Home alone, I sat in a chair and watched ESPN. I can't say that I cried, but tears welled up, and I just sat for a couple of hours.
Two weeks later, darkness came over me. The next four months are still very difficult for me to talk about. The details are very banal, but it was painful nonetheless. One of the things that pulled me through was watching the off-season moves of the Cubs. Todd Walker, LaTroy, Hollandsworth, and Derrek Lee all seemed like solid moves, and the Maddux signing brought me some sorely needed joy. I read every morsel of Cubs news I could find.
I did the Prior Watch. Prior's injury forecast kept getting longer and longer. But still the Cubs seemed to be the class of the central.
I watched the preseason games. I saw Andy Pratt explode, and Borowski scuffle. I remember a 45 year old ruin a game in Atlanta. I went to opening day at Wrigley and straggled along with the Cubs early in the year. They never broke open early, but it was only May, and they were hanging in there.
As summer came around, I went to a lot of games while preparing for my wedding. Around the 4th of July, the Cubs went into a funk, and the Cardinals buried them over the next three weeks. I returned from my honeymoon and went to a game with my dad and grandpa. As we walked home, there was a loud cheer from the Dark Horse. We stopped at a bar and learned the Cubs had gotten Nomar.
The Cubs chances improved. They had weathered injuries. They had one more to deal with, as Nomar went down for a week. Neifi Perez, the most maligned player in baseball (at least on stat-centered sites), played out of his mind. The Cubs remained in control. They finished up their tough stretch of the schedule and still looked good.
I was in Geneva, Illinois last Saturday with my in-laws. The Cubs were 87-66 at the time, with a 1.5 game lead (and 2 in the loss column) over their closest competitor. My wife and mother-in-law were shopping, but I snuck into a bar with my father-in-law to watch the ninth inning. I screamed at Dempster to throw strikes. I watched LaTroy give up a crushing two out, two strike home run to a guy who didn't even think he had hit it out. That started the worst week I've had as a Cubs fan.
We know what happened. They choked. The papers are full of stories in which Dusty and his players deny that's what happened. But they choked. Alou watched a low, inside curveball called for a strike, and he whined the next day. Steve Stone called Dusty out on WGN radio, and Dusty cried about it the next day. The Cubs spent more time bitching and moaning over the last 9 days of the season than they did concentrating on winning a playoff spot that was theirs for the taking. I went to the last two games and just let the wasted twelve month since I sat in that chair wash over me.
So where do we go from here? Well, we know that Chip's gone. Hopefully Steve Stone remains. We're pretty sure that Moises, Grudz, and Clement are history. Today, though, WGN reported that Sammy came to the game late and left early without permission. I'm thinking the Cubs will ship him if they can find anyone willing to take him. That would free up a lot of money. I'd expect that the Cubs try to resign Nomar. Give him 4 years at $48 million. That seems fair. They resign Walker. They sign Aramis long term. They have the core of Barrett, Lee, and Patterson, as well as Maddux, Wood, Prior, and big Z. Maybe they let Dempster, Rusch, Mitre and Angel Guzman fight for the fifth starting spot. I'd like to see them get J.D. Drew and/or Magglio Ordonez (if he's healthy). Most importantly, I think the Cubs need to sign a top-line closer. That among all other things would have made the difference this year.
It's sad to write a post-mortem early in October. It's disappointing that a team built to win this year choked away a playoff spot that was right there
. Such is life.
I've decided to keep this site alive. I'll be posting updates on the Cubs (when warranted), Wisconsin football and basketball, and the election. Truth be told, though, I'm not in the mood to wait 'til next year. The bitterness will take some time to wear off. But it'll be okay.
Thanks to all who have stopped in at this site. It's been fun, and I hope the Cubs do what needs to be done over the winter to make 2005 a success. Eamus Catuli!
Premature Wrap Up
I'll do a longer post-season wrap-up. But I went to the game today, and it was pretty depressing. The crowd knew that the season was ending. The Cubs opened up a lead with homers by Sosa, Alou, and Ramirez, and let it slip thanks to a dropped pop up to Jose Macias in center. Carlos pitched pretty well despite his line. He showed some serious guts. He deserved better, but Jose couldn't find a ball in the sun.
One thing that stood out today was Baker's stuborness. After the extra-innings loss that began with Adam Dunn getting a hit off Remlinger and after getting reemed by Steve Stone about Remlinger's lack of success against lefties, you might think that Dusty would look at the numbers. Well, he brought in Remmy to face J.D. Drew with the Cubs up one, first and second and one out. Boom--tripple to right center, sac fly, and the Cubs lose by two.
I'm going to the game tomorrow. I'll say goodbye to the 2004 Cubs. After that, I've got a long, long post on what I think about this season. I hope that you'll read it.
Stoney--Listen for Yourself
Stoney's radio interview
. Really tough. And insightful. Hat tip to Joe at the View