Monday, July 31, 2006

Forbes Ranks DC #1

FORBES MAGAZINE HAS recently published a list of the best cities in America to get a job -- and Washington, DC ranks #1. The list is based on things like uneployment rates, living standard, median income, and job growth. The mag ranked 100 cities on these and other criteria and the results were quite interesting.

From the 'not surprising' category: Detroit and New Orleans are the two worst cities to get a job. Much more surprising is the fact that neither New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco managed to crack the top 85, finishing 96th, 93rd, 85th, and 87th respectively.

In case you missed it, here's the top 5 cities:
  1. Washington, DC
  2. Phoenix, AZ
  3. Las Vegas, NV
  4. Orlando, FL
  5. Bethesda, MD (a DC suburb)

Well, good for DC. We need the good news every once in a while. However, I'm wondering if Forbes factored in things like the cost of a small house ($500,000+) or summer temps (100 + degrees this week) into their list. I kind of doubt it.

Lieberman, Who Art Thou?

DESPITE SPENDING MOST of Sunday in Philadelphia, I did happen to read a story on Lieberman in the Hartford Courant. I don't know what's more depressing, the story (I'm still rooting for him) or the fact that I spent part of my weekend reading the Hartford Courant. But the story is worth a read as it tries to explain how and why Lieberman seems to have lost his mojo.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Does Rummy Get It?

WHAT ARE WE to make of Rumsfeld's latest assessment of the situation in Iraq. In a brief interview today he was asked if Iraq was closer to a Civil War. This was his response:

Oh, I don't know. You know, I thought about that last night, and just musing over the words, the phrase, and what constitutes it. If you think of our Civil War, this is really very different. If you think of civil wars in other countries, this is really quite different. There is - there is a good deal of violence in Baghdad and two or three other provinces, and yet in 14 other provinces there's very little violence or numbers of incidents. So it's a - it's a highly concentrated thing. It clearly is being stimulated by people who would like to have what could be characterized as a civil war and win it, but I'm not going to be the one to decide if, when or at all.
You can read the full transcript at the DoD website.

I think Andrew Sullivan has it right: Rumsfeld's detachment from his own responsibility is breathtaking.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Late Summer Reading

THE LATEST IN a series of books that are critical of the Iraq 'situation' is now available for your summer reading pleasure (early copies available in some places). 'Fiasco' , by WaPo writer Thomas E. Hicks, seems to have a leg up on the others in terms of credibility, but we'll have to see. The Right Wing will try to discredit him -- you know, because any report of something bad happening in Iraq is a product of the liberal media. But look for 'Fiasco' to weather the 'liberal media' storm a bit better than some other books on the topic. Several of the reviews I've read indicate a pretty long paper (and source) trail that backs up Hicks' account.

Michiko Kakutani has a review the book in the NY Times (which, of course, you can't read online because of their firewall -- damn you, NY Times!) . But here's a quick excerpt:
An after-action review from the Third Infantry Division underscores the Pentagon's paucity of postwar planning, stating that "there was no guidance for restoring order in Baghdad, creating an interim government, hiring government and essential services employees, and ensuring that the judicial system was operational." And an end-of-tour report by a colonel assigned to the Coalition Provisional Authority memorably summarized his office's work as "pasting feathers together, hoping for a duck."
I'll get my copy just in time for my trip to the beach.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Americans in Europe, Again

QUICK, NAME THE last European to win the Tour de France. How about the British Open? What's the matter, no names rolling off your tongue? Perhaps that's because it's been a while. Americans have been dominating the two biggest sporting events (outside soccer) in Europe for about a decade now. The French and Italian press desperately hoped American domination of the Tour de France would end with the retirement of Lance Armstrong. No such luck. Floyd Landis, a Mennonite from Pennsylvania, won this years race in dramatic fashion. Read the JIB account here or get the OLN account here.

Meanwhile, the British have been waiting for one their own to win since 1999 when Scotsman Paul Lawrie won the Claret Jug. Lawrie is the only European to win the Open in nearly 15 years. This Sunday, Tiger Woods put together an emotional four-day win to claim his 3rd Open Title, and second in a row.

Oh, and in case you're still looking for the answer: the last European to win the Tour was Marco Pantani in 1998. The last European to win the Open was the the aforementioned Lawrie. And just to hit home the point: the last time Europeans won both events in the same year was 1992 when Spaniard Miguel Indurain won the Tour and Nick Faldo won the Open.

Boy, Europe must really be getting tired of the United States.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Joe to Get Help from Bill

BILL CLINTON WILL make an appearance in CT to campaign for Joe Lieberman. That's good news for Joe. It's also good news for the Democratic 'center'.

This race is a critical one for the Dems. I'm guessing Lieberman will pull it out in a squeaker. Let's hope so.

Landis in Paris?

WITHOUT LANCE ARMSTRONG there were questions about whether an American would be wearing the yellow jersey in Paris at the end of this year's Tour de France. Last week it looked like Floyd Landis (Team Phonak) would have as good a chance as anyone to be in yellow. Then came stage 16 -- a tremendous stage with three massive moutain climbs. Landis bonked (as they say), finishing nearly 10 minutes behind the winner (losing more than 1 minute per kilometer on the final climb), finding himself more than 8 minutes behind the yellow jersey

The Tour was over for Floyd Landis, the shy rider who grew up in a strict Mennonite family in rural Pennsylvania.

At least that's what the French and Italian press said.

But they didn't count on Landis's performance in today's 17th stage -- another brutal stage, this one covering 200.5 kilometers with 5 major mountain passes. Landis broke away with nearly 100 km to go and beat everyone up the Col de Columbiere and the Col du Joux-Plane and gaining back all by 30 seconds of the previous days deficit.

Wow. And I thought the Tour might be a bit boring without Lance. Read much more about this year's tour at OLN. And get ready for Saturday's individual time trial - it's going to decide the winner.

Fair Media Coverage on Iraq

CAN FAIR-MINDED REPUBLICANS in Congress still claim that the situation in Iraq is being distorted by the 'liberal'media? Not according to several key GOP lawmakers. WaPo has the story.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

George Will Takes on the Neo-Cons

JUST WHEN YOU think George Will is going to give you a outside slider, he comes up-and-in with a fastball. Will's record as a conservative is virtually unblemished, but his take on Iraq is one of skeptisism at best. In today's Post he ratchets-up his criticism of the Neo-Cons to a new level.

Here's a sample:
The administration, justly criticized for its Iraq premises and their execution, is suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature. The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but to the Weekly Standard - voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism, "neoconservatism" -- everything is crystal clear: Iran is the key to everything...

So, the Weekly Standard says: "We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait?" ... "Why wait?" Perhaps because the U.S. military has enough on its plate in the deteriorating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which both border Iran. And perhaps because containment, although of uncertain success, did work against Stalin and his successors, and might be preferable to a war against a nation much larger and more formidable than Iraq. And if Bashar Assad's regime does not fall after the Weekly Standard's hoped-for third war, with Iran, does the magazine hope for a fourth?

Or a fifth, or a sixth? When does it stop for the Neo-Cons. But Will isn't done yet: is not perverse to wonder whether the spectacle of America, currently learning a lesson - one that conservatives should not have to learn on the job - about the limits of power to subdue an unruly world, has emboldened many enemies.
This isn't some liberal blogger talking, it's George freakin' Will. But just incase you didn't know it was George Will writing, he throws in this baseball reference at the end:
Neoconservatives have much to learn, even from Buddy Bell, manager of the Kansas City Royals. After his team lost its 10th consecutive game in April, Bell said, "I never say it can't get worse." In their next game, the Royals extended their losing streak to 11 and in May lost 13 in a row.
Now that's vintage George Will.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mr. Bush is No Teddy Roosevelt

I'VE TRIED TO read as many biographies of Teddy Roosevelt as possible. I can't brag about my results -- I'm only up to three so far. But those three are enough for me to know that TR and George Bush don't have very much in common -- despite what Karl Rove thinks.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Take a look at this piece in the New Republic by Washington Times writer Eric Pfeiffer. Here's the start:

Last week's Time magazine carried a paean to the virtues of Theodore Roosevelt by Karl Rove. Titled "Lessons from a Larger-than-Life President," Rove's article offered such insights as "The United States, while not flawless, is a profound force for good in the world" (lesson three) and "Character matters" (lesson seven). Though our current president--and Rove's boss--isn't mentioned in the piece, the implication is clear: George W. Bush is a modern-day TR. Yet anyone familiar with TR's life and presidency should understand that not only would he have had serious differences with George Bush, he would have hated Karl Rove....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Heath Shuler Coming to DC Again?

THE FIRST TIME Heath Shuler made his home in Washington, the results weren't what you would call stellar. As quarterback of the Washington Redskins in the mid-90s, Shuler was a disaster, hardly living up to his potential as the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

But Shuler wants to come to Washington again, this time as the Democratic Congressman from North Carolina's 11th District. Here some of the lates info from the field:

Public Policy Polling (PDF). 7/10. Likely voters. MoE 3.7% (May results)
Without leaners
Taylor (R) 43 (42)
Shuler (D) 47 (46)

With leaners
Taylor (R) 45
Shuler (D) 51

And according to fundraising numbers from the latest quarter, the cash-on-hand numbers look like this:

Taylor $100K
Shuler $550K

Looks like great news if you're Heath Shuler. The only probem is that Taylor is worth about $500 zillion and he's going to be able to write some big checks in November -- the kind of checks used to spear opponents on TV. Shuler better hope Taylor doesn't produce any adds recapping his career with the Redskins. Neverthless, this race is proving that this seat is vulnerable for the GOP. You can visit Heath Shuler on the web at

Income Gap

THE NEW INCOME distribution numbers are out and the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider in the United States. Before we sound too many alarm bells, let's understand that income disparity is not a bad thing. In a free-market economy there is going to be a substantial difference between, say, the richest 5% and the poorest 25%. The question about how to deal with this gap must be posed in very general terms if it is to answered adequately. As far as I am concerned, distribution of wealth issues are not worth getting too upset about as long as three conditions are being met: 1) the economy is growing and getting wealthier as a whole, 2) there is a safety net in place to protect the very poorest people, and 3) everyone has the ability to move up the economic ladder.

America has no problem with number 1. It's numbers 2 and 3 that sometimes worry me. That's where the discussion should begin.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bush on Deficit

POTUS IS SOUNDING like a proud father in recent days, claiming that his tax cuts are responsible for the fact that the deficit is lower than forecasters predicted for the current quarter. Unfortunately, he rarely mentions the fact that it was those very cuts that led to the largest deficits in recent history. Bush entered office in 2001 with government surplus at a record high. That very surplus has dwindled and turned into a record deficit ever since. Let's be grateful that the deficit is going down (at least at the moment), but let's also understand how we got onto Deficit Road in the first place.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Weekend Round-Up

PLENTY TO DIGEST this weekend:

  • Foreign Policy reports Kim Jong Il's missle shenanegans are putting more money into some people's pockets.
  • Two great stories in WaPo on the two teams remaining in the FIFA World Cup. First story on the Italians and their penchant for singing. Then a fascinating story on the multi-hued French national team. (Allez les Bleus!!)
  • Will a new 'Guardian Toolbar' lesses fears that has become the nation's #1 site for sexual predators? [Freakonomics]
  • Batchelor pad at 30,000 feet? Yes, if you are founders of Google. [WSJ]
  • Bush news conference in Chicago[AP account]

Copy Cat Coulter

BOTTOM-OF-THE-BARREL columnist Ann Coulter is facing charges of plagiarism. The New York Post ran a story on Sunday claiming Coulter has taken material from others (including the LA Times and Planned Parenthood) without proper notation. Apparently the uber-conservative Queen Ann is fairly liberal when it comes to citing sources.

UPS, Coulter's distributor, is looking into the allegations. The NY Post published the plagiarism story after working with a website called, which has a sophisticated system of tracking digital information.

Coulter replied to the charges in typical fashion in her July 5 column:

Once considered a legitimate daily, the Post has been reduced to tabloid status best known for Page Six's breathless accounts of Paris Hilton's latest ruttings, and headlines like 'Vampire Teen: H.S. Girl Is Out for Blood. How crappy a newspaper is the Post? Let me put it this way: It's New York's second-crappiest paper.

Coulter went on to say, 'I have sold a LOT of books -- more books, come to think of it, than any writers at the New York Post.'

Ah yes, the classic 'I've sold more books than you so screw you' defense. That's one of my favorites.

Another for the NY Post

I HATE TO keep refering to the New York Post, but they continue to provide some of the best headlines among the major dailies. Here's Thursday's: