Archive for August 10th, 2007

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I’m not sure if this reflects more on Bush or on me, but Carolyn Hax’s advice column and online chat today seemed to be about more than just relationships…

People who feel generally good about themselves can handle a little bad. They can say, oops, I screwed up, I’m sorry, without it presenting a serious challenge to the value they place on themselves.

It’s different for people who doubt their own worth — or people who see their worth as dependent upon visibly outperforming others (who, if not in the same club as the former, certainly hold their parties under the same tent). Then the vulnerability that comes with admitting fault looms a lot larger, and so the resistance to it is greater. An unwavering, “It’s not me, it’s you,” plays like dominance, and that’s exactly the point. That’s what cornered animals do.

Hmm… That sounds kinda familiar.

And my God, how I wish more Democrats were like this:

I know that I am a good person with a strong moral compass and I don’t ever want to compromise that because I am afraid of people being angry with me. I’ve spent too long behaving “well” so that everyone will like me. My goal is to be okay with people not liking me.

Seriously guys, have you ever just tried “Doing the right thing” as a political strategy? Has anyone?

August 10th, 2007 at 10:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Elections,Politics,Republicans

Third Rail

Dubya’s war adviser just grabbed it:

Frequent tours for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer force and made it worth considering a return to a military draft, President Bush’s new war adviser said Friday.

“I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

“And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation’s security by one means or another,” Lute added in his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.

President Nixon abolished the draft in 1973. Restoring it, Lute said, would be a “major policy shift” and Bush has made it clear that he doesn’t think it’s necessary.

The repeated deployments affect not only the troops but their families, who can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military, Lute said.

“There’s both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families,” he said. “And ultimately, the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions.”


Bush picked Lute in mid-May as a deputy national security adviser with responsibility for ensuring efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are coordinated with policymakers in Washington. Lute, an active-duty general, was chosen after several retired generals turned down the job.

Good luck with that, Republicans.

August 10th, 2007 at 09:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans,War

The Electric Car: Timeless American Classic

It was news to me, but the electric car has actually been around almost as long as, well, the car.

THE new hybrid Ford Escape taxis scuttling around New York City give their occupants an aura of environmental superiority. But as far as clean electric-powered cars are concerned, these high-mileage hybrids are actually a bit behind the times.

About 100 years behind.

Starting in 1914, the Detroit Taxicab and Transfer Company built and operated a fleet of nearly 100 electric cabs. Customers would often wait for a smoother, cleaner, more tasteful electric cab, even when a gas-powered cab was already on station.

At the turn of the 20th century, quiet, smooth, pollution-free electric cars were a common sight on the streets of major American cities. Women especially favored them over steam- and gasoline-powered cars.

In an era in which gasoline-powered automobiles were noisy, smelly, greasy and problematic to start, electric cars, like Jay Leno’s restored 1909 Baker Electric Coupe, represented a form of women’s liberation. Well-dressed society women could simply drive to lunch, to shop, or to visit friends without fear of soiling their gloves, mussing their hair or setting their dresses on fire.

“These were women’s shopping cars,” said Mr. Leno, who is a serious hands-on collector of autos and motorcycles dating from the 1800s to the present. “There was no gas or oil, no fire, no explosions — you just sort of got in and you went. There were thousands of these in New York, from about 1905 to 1915. There were charging stations all over town, so ladies could recharge their cars while they were in the stores.”


“I drive it from the garage up into the Hollywood Hills every year to see the Christmas lights,” he said. “The deer come right up to it and look inside. Because there’s no noise, no vibration, no gasoline smell, they’re completely unafraid.

“It’ll go for about four or five hours on a single charge, at about 20 to 25 miles an hour. Its range is about 110 miles, just about what most electric cars made these days will do. So we really haven’t come very far in a hundred years.

“It’s pretty fun to drive, actually — if you’re not in a hurry, that is,” he said. “Women love it.”

The whole “shopping car for the fine ladies” bit seems a little over the top, but it really is amazing.

And I had no idea. There were electric cars with respectable range, and this whole support system of charging stations, and not only did it all just… go away, but it’s like it was erased from history, too. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that maybe there was something problematic with the idea of electric cars as a perfectly mainstream, unremarkable technology. (On the other hand, what better way to smear the electric car than to depict it as a failed and obsolete technology?)

Or am I the only person who didn’t know we had electric cars 100 years ago? Maybe I need to watch Who Killed The Electric Car – I had always assumed that it was smothered in its crib, not airbrushed out of existence like one of Stalin’s ex-friends.

(Also, be sure to check out the slide show of Leno’s electric car – it’s quite posh)

1 comment August 10th, 2007 at 05:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Environment,Technology

Be Careful What You Ask For

David Sirota’s general premise is good, but I think his specific recommendation could easily backfire:

One of the major reasons why Democrats have not yet been able to pass legislation slowing down or ending the Iraq War is because they remained within their archetype (aka. the role low-information voters perceive them as reflexively playing). The strongest bills they have proposed have all been straight-up “antiwar” bills – that is, they bring the troops home to end the war and that’s about it. True, that IS the antiwar movement’s goal (a goal I wholeheartedly support) – but the problem with it as the stand-alone legislative strategy is that it doesn’t allow Democrats to play outside their antiwar archetype on Republican turf, nor does it make the average Republican incumbent all that uncomfortable, because it doesn’t force Republicans to make a choice between loyalty to Bush and loyalty to their conservative base.

Right now, the antiwar movement’s strategy is a battle of attrition. Keep pushing standalone antiwar bills, and hope that public opposition to the war will force Republicans to peel off. It certainly may work – but to echo Robert Redford’s famous line in The Candidate, there is a better way – at least in terms of a legislative strategy that gets our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible.

Think for a moment about which issue Republicans have been trying to one-up and out-conservative each other on…Got it in your head? Right – it’s illegal immigration. On that issue, the least offensive Republican proposal from a racist/xenophobic perspective has been the effort to beef up border security. A look at recent congressional votes shows that beefing up border security has the widest bipartisan support among all the immigration-related proposals being considered.

So here’s the concept (which, though I’m not 100 percent sure, I don’t think has been tried yet in Congress): How about when Congress reconvenes in September, Democrats bring a bill to the floor of the House and Senate mandating that, say, 25,000 National Guardsmen be taken out of combat in Iraq and be immediately redeployed to guard America’s porous domestic borders – both southern and northern?…

Think this through for a moment. All of a sudden, the illegal-immigration-obsessed Tom Tancredo wing of the Republican Party, which also happens to be the most reflexively pro-war wing of the GOP, would be forced to choose either the Iraq War or beefed up border security. All of a sudden, we would be having a debate about two very real, very pressing priorities, rather than theoreticals and hypotheticals, and we would be discussing exactly how the misuse of our National Guard as a wing of the regular Army harms our ability to deal with the domestic challenges the National Guard was originally established to deal with.

With the war so unpopular, far-right, law-and-order, “tough on immigration” conservatives would be hard-pressed to vote against this kind of bill, potentially providing a veto-proof majority in support of it. And if they didn’t vote for it, Democrats would have a flip-flop campaign ad all set for 2008. You can just hear the voiceover: “The Republicans who told us they support border security voted against Democrats’ bill to secure our borders.”

This is a great idea in theory, but it assumes that Bush and the Republicans are somewhat responsible and sane. Given their approach over the last four years, I think it’s entirely possible that they would say, “You know, those Democrats may actually have a point, but Iraq is just too important and the surge is working too well for us to pull anyone out of Iraq. Instead of redeploying Guardsmen from Iraq, we will simply make use of the Guard who are rotated stateside in between deployments to Iraq. Border patrol is much less stressful than serving in Iraq, so this should not affect their combat readiness at all.”

Can anyone give me a good reason why this would not happen?

August 10th, 2007 at 11:16am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Immigration,Iraq,Politics,Republicans

More B&W Trinity Photoblogging

Some more photos from Trinity Church:

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You got me. It’s a hinge.

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Spooky arch head!

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Some kind of memorial urn thingy.

August 10th, 2007 at 07:54am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

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