|View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Saturday, January 31, 2004
And Second Am I!
Just a short bioblurb here to round out Joshua's kind introduction of yours truly to the Blogosphere. True, I'm not a pilot; rather, I'm a bluewater sailor who spends most of his summers practicing on Lake Chatfield, near the big oceanic expanse known as "Highlands Ranch." And, if I'm truly taller than Joshua, it's only because I stand on the shoulders of giants! (;->)
Truth to tell, I'm originally American, but decamped to Canada when I was 18 to escape the draft--that is, 18 months! When my parents found out that I could talk in whole sentences, they wanted to draft me into pre-school! Hardly fair for a mere toddler, I felt . . . . Seriously, for some strange reason, my Ontario-born mother didn't feel that New York City was a civilized-enough place to raise children, and so the family headed to Toronto. And this was back in 1957! Of course, she did have a history of being prescient, and so I've paid attention to her ever since.
I've been in Colorado since 1980, when I entered the DU law school, thinking I was headed towards a career in elective politics. A summer in D.C. changed my perspective dramatically, and I settled for a life of comparative ease and sanity in the Rocky Mountain West. Politics can be an addiction, however, and so I've kept my hand in over the years as a campaign worker, sometime consultant, and special-issue activist. It's hunting season again, and, as Joshua prophesied, it's gonna be a whale of a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to being a part of this community!
For those who might be interested in learning more about me and my current foci, and even possibly connecting, Joshua tells me he's gonna enable a hotlink on my name. As Italian tour guides are wont to say, "Andiamo!"
Friday, January 30, 2004
Then There Were Two
I'd like to welcome aboard Bill Eigles, esq., to the View From a Height Team. Bill lives here in Denver. He's not a pilot, but makes up for it (and maintains the Official Site Theme) by being taller than I.
Bill's originally Canadian, having sneaked across the border Frodo-and-Sam-like one wintry December eve back in the 70s. When he discovered that he was going to have to wait until May to see whether or not the Buffalo streets were really paved with gold, he headed west. And south. Colorado offered him the snow without the cold.
Bill's an attorney, although he's pretty much out of that business now. He's been in Colorado much longer than I, so he has a better grip on the mechanics of state politics, although he's not actually what you'd call a politico. Those of you who follow state politics anywhere know that the shelf-life of a state politics far exceeds that of all but a handful of national figures. Colorado politics have arisen a little like the mountains: slow changes marked by titanic upheavals. Ten years ago, every major state-wide figure was a Democrat.
Welcome to the Blogosphere, Bill. It's gonna be fun. Feel free to add actual biographical facts, if you like.
Look Ma, a Keyboard!
Thanks to Joshua, here's my maiden contribution to this trenchant blogsite on the issues of our times. So, "Mommy, Daddy, I'm now a novitiate blogger!"
Thursday, January 29, 2004
The Two Faces of John
This from the February 27, 1991 Boston Globe. It seems that one Walter Carter both faxed and mailed this letter to Sen. John Kerry on January 9 of that year:
Mr. Carter, having sent two copies of the letter, received two responses. Read carefully, and see if you can spot the subtle but important differences.
Don't Do This Now, But It's There If You Need It
From the AP:
Three Blind Mice
What was Kerry's formative experience again? From an April 23, 1985 Washington Post piece about a trip he, Sen. Harkin, and then-Sen. Al Gore took to Nicaragua.
Well, maybe indirect parallels. Certainly not the 17th.
Eighteen Years Ago
Charles Krauthammer is nothing if not consistent. Then again, his target hasn't moved much in 18 years, either. Look carefully for a Currently Important Name.
I guess it's fair to say that Democratic foreign policy has evolved somewhat in 18 years. They're now willing to be interventionist as long as no vital US interest is at stake.
Dean and Aspen
Took 'em long enough. The Denver Post finally got around to interviewing some people who knew Howard Dean during his ski tour at Aspen. Surprise, surprise, there are no surprises. He went to ski and hang out, at a time when Aspen was a place that kids with no money could go do that. Not a wild partier, just a really good skier.
On the other hand, he used to work for a Norwegian immigrant out in Aspen, who later opened a small restaurant in - Vermont. Knowing something about socialism first-hand, she had this to say about her former governor:
George Will today claims that the Democrats have rediscovered the virtues of masculinity, leading them to support Sen. John Kerry. Kerry seems to me to have decided long ago, on foreign policy, to be decisively passive. To be militantly inactive. He came back to dishonestly oppose Vietnam, supposedly on the basis of massive US war crimes. He opposed Reagan's "illegal war in Central America," which helped lead to democracy in that part of the world.
He opposed the first Gulf War, arguing for giving sanctions time to work, for up to 12 or 18 months, knowing full well that a president could almost never launch an offensive between his convention and an election. Kerry argued that sanctions would weaken Saddam's army, while our half-million men and women then deployed could stay out there indefinitely. Having served in Vietnam, he evidently never felt the need to look at a map of Korea.
Kerry, like the French whom James Taranto believes he resembles, has discovered the virtues of langor. Far easier to order up another Manhattan Iced Tea than to actually commit action.
Kerry would like us to believe that his military service alone is somehow important. True, he didn't run away to the slopes like Dean. He served with distinction, and put himself in harm's way, and for that service he's due the extraordinary thanks any veteran gets. But the presidency is about leadership and leadership is about judgment. Were it up to Kerry, Danny Ortega would still be running Nicaragua, and Saddam Hussien would be not only in Baghdad, but also Kuwait City. At least.
George McGovern was a war hero, too. He piloted bombers over Europe. Steven Ambrose wrote a book about him. None of that mattered when he proposed fatal weakness in our foreign policy. It shouldn't matter now.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
It's always fun to see what Google or Yahoo! searches lead to this site. Because of the name, a fair number are something like "John+Kerry+Height" or "Seabiscuit+Height." We don't like to disappoint, so herewith, the listed heights of the remaining Presidential candidates:
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Liberals and Moderates
One of my favorite web sites, at least every two years, is Project Vote-Smart. It's been around, first as a gopher site and then as a web site, since at least 1994. Here are some selected, but representative, advocacy group ratings for Messrs. Edwards and Kerry.
Since Blogspot(TM) wants to make you scroll down to see the table, here's the punchline - except for the National Journal ratings, according to the advocacy groups, there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two.
If you're handicapping the race, Kerry starts to look like the favorite. While Dean avoided humiliation, and is still viable enough to keep running, he's starting to look more and more like he's peaked. Hugh, give it up.
Third place is where the action is. Kerry always had a problem in the South. While the Southern Democrats used to be more conservative than they are now, they're still more conservative than their Northern bretheren. This was the ticket for Edwards in South Carolina, and polls showing Clark running in front in Oklahoma. But neither man broke the magic 15% to pick up any delegates.
As I'm writing this, it's nip-and-tuck for third place. Fourth place probably means doom for either man. It probably hurts Edwards more than Clark, though, who was supposed to do well here. He may be able to keep limping along, but almost certainly won't be a factor in the final delegate count. The big question is whether or not Kerry has established enough momentum to push Edwards aside next Tuesday. If so, game over. If not, Edwards may still make a three-man race of it.
What I want to know is, where, outside of a fraternity prank, did Al Sharpton find 300 people to vote for him?
Piracy and Shipping Choke Points
Dana Dillon and Lucia Selvaggi write in today's Wall Street Journal (registration required) about the threat to international shipping posed both by piracy and terrorism at one of the world's most congested shipping lanes, the Strait of Malacca shared among Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. They describe the magnitude of the threat thus:
Indonesia has been in the same sort of denial that preceded the Bali bombing, and only Japan seems to be taking the threat very seriously. Since the attacks are predominantly coming from Indonesian shores, they have primary responsibility for stopping them on land. Historically, this sort of problem has only been solved by the presence of a significant naval presence. If we don't want, say, China to use this as an excuse to expand its blue-water navy, at our eventual expense, we're going to have to take up the slack.
Consumer Confidence Rebounds
The Consumer Confidence Index of the Conference Board rose to 96.8 in January, from December's 91.7. Other numbers also look good:
So people see their personal situations doing better, although they're still reluctant to breathe a little easier and take heart from their neighbors' improved sentiments. This seems to happen a lot, until there's a crystallization of opinion. For instance, in the 1992 elections cited on Powerline last week, even as Bush I's re-elect numbers and job-approval ratings were quite poor, in the low 40s, people still believed overwhelminly that he would be re-elected.
E. J. Dionne Doesn't
In the meantime, E.J. Dionne reports on the "regiments," more likely platoons, or veterans who he believes give John Kerry foreign policy credibility.
Some would say that the Democrats, seemingly focused on "electability," realize that military credibility is something that matters to the electorate as a whole, even if they themselves don't care much about it. I don't recall Dean's Battle of the Slopes at Aspen hurting him much at the time it came out. While Kerry went, it's not clear that his opposition to the war developed until it became to his political advantage. And it apparently extended as far as the appearance of tossing away his medals...
Kerry wants to refight Vietnam, for which conservatives now have an answer. He calls our support of the Contras and the government in El Salvador, "Reagan's illegal war in Central America." Let him go tell the voters in Nicaragua that, after they keep defeating the Sandanistas at the polls, in elections inconceivable without our military support for the opposition to that dictatorship. And who knows what his actual position on the Iraq war (and whatever comes next) may be? It seems he not only wants to refight the original Vietnam, but all the other non-Vietnam Vietnams since then. Bring it on.
The Post Gets It (Mostly)
Deacon from Powerline has noticed that the least biased sections of the Washington Post seems to be its editorial page. Today, the Post's lead editorial takes the Democrats to task for not understanding the nature of the current recovery. It comes from greater efficiency and productivity, which is always very closely tied to standard of living and income.
Of course, they take a shot at the current deficits. I'm not delighted by deficits, either, but the fact is, they're not large as a function of GDP by historical standards, and there's hope that we'll grow out of them. Plus, they began to accumulate both as a result of falling tax revenue from the recession, and a deliberate attempt to stimulate the economy, which they have. If we continue to run $500B deficits year after year, that won't be good. But right now, there's every reason not to worry about them.
Monday, January 26, 2004
Edwards Tackles the Tough Ones
John Edwards, in USA Today today (courtesy of Real Clear Politics), comes out strongly opposed to college admissions preferences - for legacy students. These are children of alumni. These preferences, practiced by almost all colleges and universities. As policy, they're a courtesy to alumni; as fundraising, they're smart.
Edwards defends affirmative action, naturally, as promoting "diversity," since he certainly can't defend it as promoting fairness. He provides no evidence that legacy applicants are more likely to be admitted to a school than are beficiaries of affirmative action. Nowhere does he state the number of students so affected. How many students who get into, say Virginia, with legacy help, couldn't have gotten into another comparable school, but either didn't want the hassle, or did want to carry on a tradition? How many students really are going to Harvard rather than Roanoke County Community College because dad went to Cambridge?
Edwards is both taking a slap at President Bush, widely perceived as getting into Yale on his father's coattails (the only coattails his father seems to have had), and signalling that he's going to try to run a populist campaign, playing off his image as a moderate. He talks as often about his poor upbringing as Kerry does about Vietnam; so often you half expect him to claim that he was raised a poor black child. We'll see if it works.
For the past few days, and the next few, we are hosting a neighbor's dog while she and her son are on vacation. The dog is terrific, pleasant, doesn't complain, goes about his business (which we'll get to in a moment), and we'd have him again in a minute, but let's just say you don't really know a dog until you live with him.
Clancy, theirs, is a small springer spaniel. Clancy runs around the house randomly sniffing the floor, like one of those ergodic pool cleaners filmed at 18 frames per second and played back at 24 fps. He'll also run back and forth between the hallway and a given room 10 or 20 times in a row, as though he's got doggy Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. "Gotta touch that chair again. Again. Again. Again..."
It suggests a way to clean floors while you're out of the house. Rubber-lined cloth dog booties that you soak in floor cleaner. Then, you hang a timed treat dispenser over a shallow pool of diluted cleaner. The dog roams the house for a while cleaning the floors, then replenishes his foot-mops when he shows up to get his half-hourly treat.
This would be true even if Sage were making an effort to make Clancy feel like a welcome guest. Sage, ours, is a very large black lab, about 110 lbs. Sage is and always has been, an only dog. So sharing is, shall we say, not in his nature. He seems to want to play, but he's also a little threatened and annoyed by Clancy hanging around, getting treats there were clearly meant for him, before Clancy showed up. So he'll growl at Clancy while his tail is up and wagging. All part of the cognitive dissonance of being a large lab, I suppose. Fortunately, Clancy doesn't seem to mind, ceding whatever it is Sage thinks he wants, and going back to sniffing out the ghosts of parakeets who once lived here.
Sunday, January 25, 2004
U.S. News and John Ashcroft
U.S. News, in its January 26th issue, runs a cover story on Attorney General John Ashcroft. Unlike most reporting on this subject, Ms. Ragavan makes a deliberate attempt to separate the personal from the policy.
I thought the policy questions got more of a fair shake than you normally see. For instance, it treats the Patriot Act rationally, making the point that most of its provisions were already in force for organized crime investigations. It takes to task those critics who lump in detainees and deportees with Patriot Act complaints, pointing out that the rhetoric is unfair, as one has nothing to do with the other.
It did seem to me, however, that their treatment of the alleged politicization of the department, while not taking the complaints at face value, failed to sufficiently consider the source. The loudest complaints come from "junior staffers," whose only point of reference would be the severely politicized Reno Justice department. They would tend, by tenure, temperament, and politics, to find the appointment of conservatives by a conservative Attorney General objectionable. Only one career manager is quoted, who was one of five reassigned. Without being told his seniority, or how many career managers served on the level of those transferred, we have no perspective within which to judge his complaints. Certainly he might have reason to be resentful of the effects on his career, which would tend to impugn rather than confirm his testimony.
As for the personal, the following quote sums up the story's take. Fortunately, they avoid talking about his singing.