Be a donkey, not a jackass

Dear Senator Kerry:

Stop being a terrible candidate.

I know you want to defeat President Bush in November. I understand that you have a “base” to pander to in your speeches. I realize that it’s hard to sound different from President Bush on foreign policy issues. For the months leading up to the Democratic National Convention, you pretended as though you weren’t running for president. That makes some sense because the facts are out there and seem indefensible to me, but you should’ve spoken out sooner. Unfortunately, I now know why you haven’t spoken out earlier. You’re a bad candidate who doesn’t understand the concept of espousing one message and pounding it into the electorate.

Allow me to highlight your latest blunder, as reported in this story:

“George W. Bush’s wrong choices have led America in the wrong direction on Iraq and left America without the resources we need here at home,” the presidential candidate said. “The cost of the president’s go-it-alone policy in Iraq is now $200 billion and counting.”

Kerry said the “hard reality” is that Bush’s choices have led to “spreading violence, growing extremism, havens for terrorists that weren’t there before.”

“I call this course a catastrophic choice that has cost us $200 billion because we went it alone, and we’ve paid an even more unbearable price in young American lives.”

President Bush is a bad diplomat, a bad strategist, and a bad leader. Got it. Hammer that point over and over again. It’s that simple. But you can’t stop there. A little taste of “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty” theatrics and you’re ready to perform at will. Don’t do that because you keep putting your foot in your mouth. As evidence, I offer this:

“$200 billion for Iraq, but they tell us we can’t afford after-school programs for our children; $200 billion in Iraq, but they tell us we can’t afford health care for our veterans; $200 billion for Iraq, but they tell us we can’t afford to keep the 100,000 police officers we put on the street,” Kerry said.

“He doesn’t believe that America can be strong in the world while we also make progress here at home. He believes we have to choose one or the other. That’s a false choice, and I reject it.”

That’s simple-minded. There is a large, complex, grey area in most issues of this significance. Just because President Bush pretends that the world operates like a black-and-white, wholesome 1950’s sitcom and, even then, usually only sees one of those two colors, you are free to analyze a little deeper. From your statement, you seem to imply that we can choose both with equal commitment. That’s old ideological Democratic nonsense. Lyndon Johnson tried it in the 1960’s and it failed miserably. You’ve referred to Iraq as a Vietnam-style quagmire, but do you really think you’ll be better able to manage a war and an expansive domestic agenda? President Johnson couldn’t do it. President Bush hasn’t been able to do it. How are you better?

The correct answer is “you’re not”. Fixing and finishing (finishing, not ending) President Bush’s foreign policy agenda is critical in the coming years. You deftly hit upon some of President Bush’s mistakes, but pretending like we can just walk away from those mistakes in the next four years is ludicrous. Neither you nor President Bush is approaching our foreign policy correctly. We are where we are. We need to understand that the war on terror isn’t going away. We need a coherent strategy for restoring order in Iraq. We need to demonstrate that the United States is willing to respect our diplomatic relationships and commitments. (I do not mean to imply that we mustn’t act alone if the situation calls for it, but we must eliminate our bully-mentality diplomacy.) We need to accept our mistakes, not as a sign of weakness, but as a sign that our leaders our human. We can’t adjust until we accept that there may be a better way.

America is a great nation. Whether you defeat President Bush or not will not change that. But to fix and improve what needs fixing and improving, you have to begin at the beginning. Make us certain that you know where the beginning is and that you grasp the magnitude of the task ahead. President Reagan used that strategy in 1980 and President Clinton used it in 1992. That focus inspires confidence in your potential. That confidence can make you a great candidate. With that, you might get to be president.

If that’s too much for you, at least stop being a bad candidate.

Thank you,

A donkey in elephant’s clothing

I read an interesting article today about our nation’s projected deficit over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office had estimated a deficit of $2.01 trillion for 2005-2014, but that’s going to fall short. The updated estimate is $2.29 trillion. For those of us keeping score at home, that’s $2,290,000,000,000. I believe the official term for that is A Lot&#153.

It’s been awhile since I mentioned the presidential election, but I haven’t forgotten. There are many issues involved, of which I’m sure I’ll bitch about most of them over the next two months, but our fiscal crisis is what needs attention now. President Bush has no rational reason to praise himself as much as he has for our economic situation. Based on the promises of more federal spending in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, I fear it’s only going to get worse.

I’m not going to babble about the economy because I don’t believe the President has as much control over the economy as most people believe. Alan Greenspan’s opinion matters more to me. But I do care about the deficit. As much as this may surprise you, I’m a fiscal conservative. I don’t believe the government can solve all of our problems. I don’t believe in throwing more money at problems. I don’t believe in wealth redistribution. The tax code is unfair and the government is too large. Every one of those is a reason why I’ll be voting for John Kerry in November.

Reading Andrew Sullivan recently, I read his comment that sums this up as succinctly as I could, so I’ll quote him here:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the only difference between Republicans and Democrats now is that the Bush Republicans believe in Big Insolvent Government and the Kerry Democrats believe in Big Solvent Government. By any measure, that makes Kerry – especially as he has endorsed the critical pay-as-you-go rule on domestic spending – easily the choice for fiscal conservatives.

Bill Clinton, in conjunction with the bi-partisan Congress, balanced the budget. President Bush, with the support of the fully Republican Congress, has returned us to Reagan-era deficits. Granted, the economy was better under President Clinton, but my argument loses little significance. President Bush believes the government can better than we can. He doesn’t want us to pay for it, though, which is why we get tax breaks. Yet, I can’t help feeling that, since he so obviously treats us as though he’s our father, it’s bad parenting of the worst kind that he wishes to pass our debts to our children and grandchildren. This is compassionate conservatism?

My calendar is broken

As part of my job, I’m responsible for system design. The easiest way to represent these is with flowcharts for the overall process, as well as the interaction of various systems. The de facto standard for flowcharts is Microsoft Visio. Since my project is only in design phase for a short time and the retail price for the standard version is $200, I chose to “try” the Trial Version of Visio for August. (In my former job, my employer provided Visio as a standard workstation installation. Since I’m now paying the bill, it’s not standard.)

When I installed it, I received this message. I wouldn’t normally expect to get into a battle of semantics with Microsoft, but I must when reading their statement that “This copy will expire on August 31, 2004”. Like any reasonable person who knows English, I understood this to mean that I can use the Trial Version until 11:59 pm on August 31st. I was mistaken. When I started Visio on Tuesday, I saw this message. That isn’t what I wanted to see. Microsoft and I agreed that I could use the software through the 31st, but they broke our deal and I’m none too pleased about it.

In the past I’ve been a supporter of Microsoft. I don’t believe that being a monopoly is bad as an objective reality. When a company earns it, it’s free enterprise at its best. Even though Microsoft went too far and strong-armed competitors, I don’t mind a few violations of the rules of competition as long as they don’t mess with the English language. There I have to draw the line.

For my last use of Visio, I created a flowchart to represent the Trial Version evaluation process. Even though I will not purchase Visio, it’s a great product. See for yourself and guess which path I chose at the decision point.

I’m turning blue, fat, and furry

Liz Lovely is back from summer vacation and they bring cookies!

Your favorite cookie artisans are back! We’ve relocated to Vermont, built a brand new bakery, and just watched our first shipment of cookies head off to the distributor last week. It’s been quite a summer…

Start looking for your favorite cookies at your local retailers starting September 1st. And if they don’t have ’em… tell them you want ’em!

By my calculation, today is September 1st. That means that I might find some cookie joy at my local Whole Foods? Today? Oh, my.

Liz Lovely has many different cookies in its product list but the Cowboy Cookie&#153 is the choice of choices. All of the other cookies are workable, but they don’t match the goodness that is the Cowboy Cookie&#153. I have a new phrase for Cookie Monster: “CC” is for Cowboy Cookie&#153.

I’m going to gain so much weight over the next few months.

P.S. Click here to determine where you can find The Best Cookie On The Planet&#153.