Category Archives: Ramblings

Semi-coherent and/or relatively incomplete thoughts.

A Platform for the Network

Networked information technologies (ex. the internet, mobiles phones, GPS) enable people to organize solutions to the collective action problems that, in the past, could only be solved by government.  The emergence of these technologies allow humanity to create a society that empowers communities to solve their own problems by expanding individual liberties.

The QS Platform combines the modern liberal’s mission of building an equitable society with the classical liberal’s mission of preserving individual liberty.  We advocate policies that nurture community organized solutions to local problems.  These policies include:

  1. Replace the Income Tax with the The Fair Tax universal sales tax.
  2. Place the Federal Reserve Bank under the authority of the Legislative Branch as advocated by Milton Friedman
  3. Provide vouchers to every American so they can select their own  education service provider, be it public, private or charter.
  4. Provide health care vouchers to every American and facilitating the creation of independent collective bargaining organizations.
  5. Enact a Carbon Tax deployed once at the point of carbon extraction.
  6. Dismantle the American Empire and construct a transparency-centric foreign policy.
  7. Eliminate subsidies, tariffs and other government interference in the international marketplace.

*Links go to organizations on the right path but we don’t necessarily advocate everything they describe.

Benefits of Civilization

Violence and war are still pervasive in our culture which makes it easy to disregard the amazing progress human civilization has made over the last 10,000 years.  Experts estimate half of all men in hunter gather societies were killed by another person.  In our post-industrial society, less than 1% of individuals die at the hands of another.  This makes civilization worth celebrating.

Civilization is most usefully understood as a singular absolute: the civilization is wealthy and peaceful.  To achieve absolute wealth and peace, it has unified passion and compassion to create a global cultural framework that  fosters personal self-actualization within a community of of autonomous individuals each of whom treat the other as he or she would like to be treated.  This is the benchmark that all prior human civilizations have failed to meet.

Civilization can also be viewed as a collaboration platform that enables individuals to engage in increasingly valuable trading relationships.  When the Roman Empire spread Latin technology – language, culture, standards – around the Mediterranean, they created a platform for collaboration that enabled individuals from disparate regions to interact and trade with each other in increasingly efficient and valuable ways.  Trade creates wealth, and wealth finances the development of civilization.

WTF is Happening in Brooklyn?

Everyone is talking about revolutions in media, science, medicine, energy, education, labor organization, philanthropy and the myriad of other fields that are effected by the introduction of transformative information distribution systems .  No one, it seems,  but the anarchists and new agers are talking about THE Revolution.  It is here, it is peaceful and it’s manifesting itself in many of the cultural movements taking place in Brooklyn.  The following are a few of the one’s I’ve witnessed:

1.  Art everywhere: There is nothing more liberating to an individual than participating in authentic artistic expression.  Even if the art is bad, if it isn’t ‘original’ or has no philosophy behind it, the simple expression of art is enough to get participants to think critically about their world.  This artistic expression is evident in the galleries, cafes, parks and music venues where every emerging indie musical talent seems to play,  but also on the streets as different graffiti artists battle day in and day out promoting their work with massive murals and/or prolific tagging.  There is street music, especially in the trains, and lots of the music players wear costumes: authentic  gypsy garb, cookie monster suits, V for Vendetta masks… it’s eclectic to say the least.  Then there is the community spaces such as 3rd Ward, the lofts where every other ‘apartment’ is a band’s dormitory and practice stage, the warehouses where massive installations are constructed and, of course, the streets, where all this artistic energy expresses itself in a general attitude of folks not giving a shit.

2. Conforming to non-conformity: People complain that the hipster aesthetic is hypocritical.  If everyone looks like they don’t give a shit they are conforming to what it means to look like one doesn’t give a shit.  It’s true, there is a continuity, maybe a conformity, but when the guy next to you at the bar is a bad ass architect, his friend is a musician and ‘shaman’ and all of you are talking to (a) girls from Manhattan who came to Brooklyn to see where dancing with free individuals would take them (b) Spanish designers who heard this bar was awesome in Barcelona or (c) ‘anarchists’, worries about hypocrisy quickly fade away.  Quite simple, it becomes quickly apparent if someone is boring and can’t dance.

3. A food focus: Whether it’s the half dozen urban farms that have popped up in the last 5 years, the well reviewed, locally focused indie restaurants that open every week or the underground kitchens secretly serving the most innovative meals to adventurous foodies, it’s clear that the food revolution discussed in recent feature films Food Inc. and Fresh: The Movie has found its east coast home in Brooklyn.

4. DIY: Do It Yourself, once considered a vestige of a bygone era of American machismo, has hit Brooklyn with tremendous force.  Massive factories and warehouses in Industrial Williamsburg and Gowanus (and to a lesser extent Queens and the Bronx) have been converted into wood and metal working spaces where artists can pay a monthly fee to use tools once only accessible to the most well financed artists.  Add a massive population of creatives and a community of people who genuinely want to drop out of the formal economy and traditional ‘consumer roles’ and you’ll find an area bursting with creative ideas and the tools necessary to make them a reality.

5. Hustler/Artists: Living in Brooklyn makes one aware of the many ways one can make a living in this world.  Lots of Brooklynites earn money so they can pursue their artistic endeavors and since the economy loves freelancers, people have lots of projects.  Some are for financial rewards, others are for social and artistic ones.  Painters are doing graphic design, sculptors sell real estate and everyone is an electronic music artist.  More social folks are realtors and event promoters, usually with a side of DJing skills.  People aren’t starving, but a lot of folks are following their dreams and that’s rewarding to see.

It’s important to note a sobering reality.  Over 2.5 million people reside in Brooklyn at a density level of 35,000 per square mile.  Chicago, in comparison has 2.8 million people living at 1/3 the density.  Everything I described happens in a small portion of the northwest of this metropolis bordering Manhattan.  The 18 train lines are slowly changing that.  Indeed, Brooklyn, with it’s extensive subway and bus network, boulevards, parks, coast lines, canals, and even beaches, it’s the only city in America that can compete with Manhattan.  Indeed, the two cities competed vigorously for stature in the 19th century.  In the 20th century Manhattan dominated, powered by the mass media and financial services industries.  In the 21st, Brooklyn is going to make a decisive comeback.  In fact, it’s going to be a revolution.

Italy 2006

I began writing my first blog posts when I was in Italy in 2006, chilling on a train.  Here are three of the finer ones tackling sex, technology and how Italians managed to institutionalize chillness.

Slut: Worst Word in the English Language
It has become cliché to complain about the double standard of sexuality concerning men and women.  A guy that has a lot of sex is a “player” or “the man” while a girl is a “slut” or “whore.”  We all know it, we all think its more or less ridiculous, but we keep the double standard going by using those negative, loaded words.  Every time a person calls a girl a slut, a guy somewhere is left unsatisfied because the girl he likes doesn’t want to be considered a slut.  The girl, of course, is left unsatisfied as well and confused about the sex role she is supposed to play.  The word slut has survived for a long time, originating in the Middle Ages, yet it still retains so much venom and power.  The synonyms to slut seem so dated nowadays, it makes you wonder how the word slut made it out of the 19th century: tart, floozy, tramp, scarlet woman, hussy, trollop, harlot, strumpet.  These words show just how dated the term slut really is.  The last time any of these terms were used in the vernacular, women couldn’t vote.
Slut, however, remains as powerful as ever.  It has transcended the simple language and has become a brand.  Are you a slut?  Are you a Playboy?  Once something becomes a brand, people use the word to compare their friends and themselves.  The coolest girls I know have embraced the word and made it their own, but in a world where female sexuality is taboo and confusing (i.e. Britney Spears being a virgin for so long) it is difficult not to have to deal with the slut brand.
If you consider yourself a feminist (or at least someone who views men and women as morally equate) you should never use a word that stigmatizes a woman freely embracing her sexuality; if you’re a guy that wants to get laid, you should never use a term that would make women less inclined to sleep with men.

I was riding on a train from Porto San Giorgio with three good friends and I couldn’t speak a word to any of them.  Witness the power of the iPod.  Lots of people enjoy verbally fellatiating (one of my favorite words) Steve Jobs, the leader of the cult of Apple, and sometimes I get on my knees and pay my respect, but over the last year I’ve become increasingly angry about how the iPod insulates me from the real world.  In my eyes, it’s contributing to a social transformation that will ultimately end much of the randomness, the unpredictable, the dangerous, and the thrilling parts of life.  I will elaborate on that topic more in future entries but for now, I’m going to keep it simple.
I was at a wedding earlier this summer and the father’s speech at the reception got me thinking.  He said, “One lonely night on the F train, I met a beautiful girl.  Little did I know that 40 years later I would be sitting with her as we watch the last of our five daughters get married and start a family of her own.”  I ride the F train sometimes, and I see beautiful girls on subways relatively frequently, but since I’m listening to my iPod and they are listening to theirs, I’d have to come up with a pretty sick line if I’m going to interrupt both of our listening experiences and start a conversation.  Back in the day, I would be bored and so would she and I could start the conversation with a simple “hi.”  Now, when people get on the train, they can rest assured they will not be interrupted by a random person as they listen to their desired song.  We can all rest assured that nothing potentially unpredictable or thrilling is going to happen and continue listening to Stadium Arcadium for the 5th time…
I’m no luddite, I love technology and think it will be the salvation of our species, (see the FAQ about the site) but we must realize we are sacrificing the often surprisingly delightful randomness of life for ease and utility.  I am in Italy and just bought a cell phone after nearly a week without one.  When I was alone, I actually felt alone: an emotion I haven’t experienced in a long time.  It brings me back to my childhood between the time I started taking mass transit without an adult and when I got a cell phone.  A time when if I got lost, I had to figure out what to do: it was a little scary but it was thrilling.  I was taking on the world alone and it made me feel like a grown up.  I wasn’t insulated but an active participant in the action taking place all around me: listening to the sounds of the train, following the plot of other passengers’ conversations and simply enjoying the reality of travel.
Watching doors open and close and people’s mouths move to the sound of Broken Social Scene is fun, but it removes us from the world we live in.  We are surrounded by millions of people just like us, living lives, dealing with problems and being happy.  It’s easy to forget that exceeding simply and important fact when they appear to be characters living in a world where you chose the soundtrack.  What if one of those characters could be a future spouse or a potentially thrilling hook-up?  When the doors of the train open and they walk on, are you going to be ready to enjoy the randomness of life or will you be listening to the same song you’ve heard a dozen times?

Institutionalized Chill
The Italians have got it made here. They’ve done the whole empire thing and now they relax.  They don’t make shit loads of money but they don’t need to.  It’s not a motivation of life.  Your economist friend may see that as a negative, but if a happy and satisfying life is what you look for, Italy has everything you need.
Chill is basically institutionalized here.  The effect of nothing being open for three hours in the day (from 1am-4pm) ripples through the entire culture.  If you aren’t working in an intense industry, you’re free to do anything but consume goods (minus eat food and drink espresso and wine.)  Unless you are the economist friend, you’ve realized that consumerism does not produce a happy populace and a healthy culture.  Money is money, but life is life.  Anyway, it’s a big stab in the heart of consumerism and makes people value each other more.

Turn Detroit Into Cape Canaveral

On Monday, General Motors spooked the entire economics community, financial and academic, when it reported that it was hemorraging $2 billion a month and might be forced to declare bankruptcy.  If their cash reserves dip below $10 billion, the company said it will be unable to pay its health care obligations or even finance its dealerships.  Shares in General Motors (GM) plummeted to $2.92 the next day, their lowest price since 1946.  As an employer of over one million people, a failure would have a horrendous domino effect on the economy.  Not surprisingly, it’s bad when an American corporation with the word “General” in its name goes under.

Although General Motors already received a $25 billion bailout from the government in September, the reality of the situation is that only further state intervention will save the troubled giant.  Democratic congressional leaders are pushing the Bush Administration to give additional funds to GM, but they have been unable to gain ground on the issue.  Barack Obama also fought for the additional bailout and pressured President Bush to that effect during their White House rendezvous.  Without altering course, the Bush Administration plans to let GM fail, much like Lehman Brothers.  It does not yet appear as though Obama has enough of a bully pulpit to substantially influence Treasury policy.  Congressional Republicans also refuse to support a bailout, on the grounds that bankruptcy arbitration will be positive for the flailing company.

The Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans are not likely to change their minds on the issue and General Motors will most likely declare bankruptcy in the next quarter or two.  In my opinion, GM deserves to fail, as their painful lack of innovation and horrendous corporate management structure is a death-knell for any company.  While Congressional Democrats are trying to get in good with Detroit, saving GM in its current incarnation would only stagnate American business culture.  It is very unfortunate that GM’s poor business practice will result in many thousands of layoffs, but it would be better to tear the band-aid off now and spare taxpayers the bill of future bailouts.  It should be noted that a large portion of GM’s fiscal instabilities have come from their extremely expensive health care plan.  As Thomas Friedman already noted in his most recent opinion column in the New York Times, “spare me”.  Universal health care probably would have saved them, but GM has previously denied support for any such measure.  In other words, they asked for it.

While certainly dire economic news, this situation also presents a major opportunity for the incoming Obama Administration.  If and when GM goes into bankruptcy, only then should the federal government present a bailout to them.  This bailout, far from the unsupervised check-cutting of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, should come with strict and unconditional terms that require GM to manufacture environmentally friendly and energy efficient automobiles within a reasonable amount of time. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, that damn San Francisco liberal, has already voiced her intentions to make those environmental reforms a stringest component to any automotive bailout. GM should be forced to cut its production of all fuel inefficient trucks and SUVs, whose sales have tanked anyway, in order to form the manufacturing base for Obama’s energy infrastructure revolution.  GM would be highly subsidized by the government and would bear little risk in the structured venture.

John F. Kennedy gave NASA ten years to get to the moon, Mr. Obama should give GM five.  The technology is already here, GM simply has to implement it within their production structure.  Indeed, GM, through their Chevrolet line, already plans to introduce an electric car, the Volt, by 2010.  If cars like the Volt and Prius-like hybrids were to fill GM’s production schedule in post-bankruptcy restructuring, an American car company could finally compete with the foreign operations like ‘recession-proof’ Honda, which just opened another fuel-efficient automobile manufacturing plant in Canada.  Once the immediate effects of the recession have ceased and consumers start spending again, albeit at probably lower levels than before, GM will have access to a huge market share.  It could revitalize Detroit and, if the other members of the Big Three followed suit and were equally successful, the entire Rust Belt.  Ford Motors already produces the fuel-efficient hybrid Prius, but continues to engage in poor investments with trucks and SUVs.

Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law professor and former colleague of Mr. Obama at the University of Chicago, recently published a book with behavioral economist Richard Thaler called Nudge.  The book advocates that the government engage in a form of soft coercion with both the public and private spheres in order to gently shape behavior in a positive and progressive fashion.  For instance, they recommend legislation that auto-enrolls employees in a retirement account with the option to drop out at any time.  Because retirement accounts are unquestionably good investments, coercing people, by shifting the default option to the economically beneficial side, can have tremendously positive effects.  As long as the option to drop out is ubiquitous, there is no real mark left on our freedom of choice.  So, why do I bring this up?

Mr. Obama, already aware of the theories behind Nudge and the book itself, could use GM as a significant test case for soft coercion.  By giving GM the option to either collapse or take loans from the government in bankruptcy court with serious fuel efficiency conditions, the US could softly coerce the first stage of a multi-pronged energy revolution in the United States.  Consumers, instead of being given the default choice of gas guzzlers, would have the initial opportunity to purchase “green” automobiles.  If we were able to cut our dependency on foreign oil through the measure, in conjunction with infrastructural innovations like wind, solar and geothermal technologies to produce carbon-free electricity, there would be a chain reaction in the global political economy.  Indeed, there is a perfect storm brewing.

With the international economy is a tailspin, global demand for oil has drastically fallen off.  China and the United States have driven down consumption and forced OPEC to reduce production by as many as 1 million barrels per day in each member country. Oil prices on commodities markets plummeted to a 22-month low yesterday, hitting $52 per barrel. OPEC states, many of which are hostile to the United States and its allies, have specific requirements for the price of oil in order to balance their national budgets.  According to PF Consulting, a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, this fiscal year Venezuela needs oil to be priced at $97 per barrel in order to balance its budget.  Iran requires a price of $58, Saudi Arabia $62, Kuwait $48 and United Arab Emirates $51.  For the next fiscal year, Russia requires the price of oil to stay above $70 per barrel.  With oil at $52, Hugo Chavez, Vladmir Putin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are freaking out. Each rely on massive social programs, financed with petro-dollars, to maintain their hold on power.  Putin and fake-Russian President Medvedev are so worried that they told European Union member countries at an economic summit this week that Russia and Europe, together, “speak with one voice.”  Russia and its stock market have been rocked by the financial crisis, occasionally suspending trading to keep volatility down. Ahmedinejad has already written Mr. Obama to express congratulatory sentiments.  Every state with a large stake in oil prices has gotten quite friendly all of a sudden.  Mr. Obama will never need preconditions for diplomatic meetings with any of these leaders, as long as he keeps the price of oil down.  That price sanction, issued at the consumer level, would speak for itself.

Economic interconnectedness is a double-edged sword.  OPEC may have sway over us when oil prices are high, but man do we have sway over them when oil prices are low.  Oligarchies only work when you can fund them.  Considering our immense opportunity to permanently diminish OPEC’s resource returns with a restructuring of Detroit, globalization is looking pretty good right now.  In one fell swoop, the Obama Administration could improve environmental conditions by creating a profitable, competitive and job-producing green manufacturing base, while simultaneously draining the capital from our self-declared enemies and increasing our national security.  That’s a win-win-win-win situation.

Let’s turn Detroit into Cape Canaveral.  The Green Revolution might blow up on the launch pad a few times, but eventually, it’ll get us to the moon.

And Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Prestige

David Blaine, watch your back.  Despite your impressive resume of awe-inspiring street magic and death-defying physical exploits, a far better illusionist is attempting to complete his last and most astonishing trick.  A vanishing act, so incredibly unbelievable, that it will forever be considered one of the greatest acts of deception ever displayed to an audience.  No, I am not talking about Criss Angel hovering across the stage in his Las Vegas smash success, “BeLIEve”.  The performer of which I speak is none other than the sitting President of the United States, George W. Bush, who successfully made both the United States and, now, himself utterly invisible. Allow me to explain his grand illusion.

Like the exceptional film “The Prestige” tells us, a magic trick consists of three parts.  First, there is ‘the pledge’.  You show the audience something completely ordinary, in this case a seemingly traditional conservative president presiding over the United States during peacetime.  Next, there is ‘the turn’.  Here, Mr. Bush earned his universal reputation as a skilled magician by making the America we knew and loved completely disappear.  It was one hell of a turn.  Through war profiteering, the torture of prisoners in secret military prisons, the corruption of domestic civil liberties and a collapsed economy, Mr. Bush succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.  But, as Michael Cain so pleasantly narrated, to make something disappear is not enough.  You have to bring it back.  Otherwise, the audience is simply confused and disappointed.  The remedy to this disillusionment, the final part of the trick, is quite appropriately entitled ‘the prestige’.  Mr. Bush, however, encountered a serious problem.  He has, in more ways than one, no prestige to give.  So, to pull off the greatest trick of all – to disappear America and then return it – Mr. Bush has engineered a great and final vanishing act.  He has convinced the world that Mr. Obama is already the President.  For then, we might be able to have the prestige everyone so desires.

Although the President still has until January 20th to preside over our much besieged Union, it has become remarkably clear that he no longer believes he has any duty to lead.  I cannot say that I am entirely surprised by this development, as it perfectly coincides with the empirical record.  Nonetheless, the degree to which everyone is comfortable with Mr. Bush’s prestige, or lack thereof, is remarkable.  Having only won the presidential election days earlier, Mr. Obama has already begun talking with foreign leaders, conferring with top business executives about the financial crisis, recruiting a crack team of advisers, receiving invitations to direct diplomacy from our enemies and affecting the outcome of our military adventure in Iraq.  No President-Elect in modern history has had so great a burden forced onto his lap months before assuming office.

We the people, the shocked and horrified audience of the greatest magic trick ever performed, demand our prestige.  Whether or not Mr. Obama can pull off the final act of President Bush’s grand illusion remains to be seen.  If he does not, we will be left with a dead bird called America, crushed by the collapsing cage of neoconservatism.

Idealism On Trial

On Tuesday night, with the resounding selection of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, the latest test case in the trial of idealism successfully earned a place back on the American docket.

It was a moment of emotional catharsis for idealism’s often denigrated liberal clerks, whose flowing tears and unrelenting exclamations of joy were on full display for all civilization to witness. For the first time since the collapse of the credit markets, international capital poured back into the United States, albeit of a different kind than expected.  The smiles we grinned were grinned right back – from Baghdad to New Delhi, from Tokyo to Nairobi, from Moscow to Tehran.  One of the darkest testimonies given in American history, ideologically defined by ruthless self-interest and brought to bear by the barbaric realpolitik of the Bush Administration, had finally lost its appeal.  That the victory was carried by the eloquence of a former-constitutional law professor over the deteriorating grandeur of an old soldier presents a symbolism that should be lost on nobody.  It certainly has not been lost to the international community.

After two years of partisan electoral chicanery, idealism prevailed. It survived the discursive barbs hurled by the Old Guard on both the Left (Hilary Clinton’s matter-of-fact statement to Democratic superdelegates, “He can’t win.”) and the Right (John McCain’s sad rhetorical decline into invocations of “Who is the real Barack Obama?”). Its opening arguments, spoken so mellifluously by Obama, were sometimes hard to pin down, resisting clear appropriation in favor of unrestrained creative potential and post-partisan unity. Idealism’s lack of ideological clarity has made Obama’s critics genuinely fearful of what could come to fruition if it reclaimed the reigns of American power.

Idealism, the hopeful pursuit of what-should-be instead of the cynical acceptance of what-is, spat upon by princes and presidents, has been granted another chance to triumph over the realism that has dominated the sad and lonely exceptionalism we have grown accustomed to.  Idealism is hungry for renewable energy independence.  Idealism is hungry for affordable health care.  Idealism is hungry for international law and multilateralism.  Idealism is hungry for proper regulation and equality.  Above all else, idealism is hungry for change.

We have seen idealism, channeled by Obama’s discourse, confront the same indictments it always has.  You just don’t understand how the world really works.  You just don’t understand, threats are everywhere. You just don’t understand. That idealism has been wholly rejected by the Kenneth Waltz’s and George Wallace’s of our time is neither a surprise nor a deterrent. We knew that they would not come around so quickly. We have to prove it to them.

The irony is that idealism’s detractors don’t realize the power of their own discourse. The world is exactly what you say it is and what you do about it. And idealism is ready to say and do something left unspoken and undone for what seems an eternity. For the last two years, Obama’s painstakingly confident and steady-as-he-goes approach won over the votes of nearly 70 million Americans.  Enough to win a presidential election, but not enough to permanently enact our liberal ideals.

Indeed, it has been a long time since anyone let idealism near the nukes.  In its lengthy absence from power, however, we have not forgotten the brilliant stewards that have steered idealism to reality – Kennedy, FDR, Wilson, Lincoln, Jefferson.  Obama is poised to add his name to that list and push forwards past their successes and failures.  They all faced tremendous challenges. They succeeded and failed. They all tried.  So, too, will Obama.  So, too, will we.

As a longtime student of idealism, Obama has brought the knowledge of history with him.  It speaks volumes.  History tells us that we must use what is at our disposal to make our ideals a reality, not just what we wish we had.  Our current shortcomings – a recession, two wars and declining American social capital – reinforce the necessity of the partnership between idealism and pragmatism.  Obama’s hero, another Illinois law professor turned President of the United States, understood that fact better than any that have followed him.  His challenge was the battle between reality and ideal.  Between a fractured and a more perfect union. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

Idealism has acquired another test case. This time its lawyer’s name is Barack Obama. We must be his devoted clerks, for the trial has only just begun.  It is time to win the case and make our idealism the law.  I am hopeful for the first time in my life that we might be able to do it.

Who Wins? (See Comments For Updates)

Tonight, everything is up for grabs.

Who loses in that type of situation?  The status quo. Existing worldviews.

Who’s playing?

Insurers, universities, health care organizations, foreclosure markets, and more health care organizations.

To the media players, desperate to keep this election interesting and watchable, McCain is currently “winning”, but everyone knows he’s going to lose.  Who is going to spill the beans?

The geography.  The demographics. The makers of cool signage software. CNN is very confident with their technology, while Fox looks like they are working with Powerpoint.  Wolf Blitzer talked to a hologram of

The democrats are going to take everything, and they don’t deserve any of it.  Everyone in the media knows this.  Obama is going to win and we might find out in the next hour.  Who is going to tell us first?

Will the Bradley effect be reversed?  Racism is celebrated by a community of people in less integrated areas.  If you asked my friend Joe from suburban Cleveland when his friends were around, he’d say he can’t trust Obama, but if you get him into a secret ballot, he’ll tell you what he actually thinks. Tom Friedman calls it the “Buffett Effect.”

Barack is outperforming any of the old red and blue candidates, because he is a purple candidate.

Meanwhile, CNN is projecting South Carolina with under 1% reporting…

Talk softly and carry a big stick.

On Sunday, it was reported (barely) by the New York Times that, allegedly, a Special Forces operation was carried out by four American choppers and on-the-ground commandos within
Syria‘s borders. They destroyed a terrorist haven in Kabul, a town that borders Syria and Iraq. Syria claimed that it was a “construction” zone. Intelligence indicated that the only thing Syria was constructing was a tunnel to funnel Iraqi insurgents from Syria. American officials at first denying the news, finally acknowledged that the attack was aimed at Badaran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, an Iraqi who smuggled fighters into Iraq from Syria. Good news: he was killed in the operation.

Angered by America‘s impunity, the Syrians asked for a charge d’affaires, an envoy when there is no ambassador to talk to, they shut down an American school. Recall, we don’t negotiate with terrorists. America has not returned the call. Bravo. Now, angered further, on October 30th, AP Reuters recently reported that Syria is shutting down the embassy in Damascus. Now it’s going to be even harder to talk.

The Washington Post applauded the United States, claiming “If Sunday’s raid, which targeted a senior al-Qaeda operative, serves only to put Mr. Assad on notice that the United States, too, is no longer prepared to respect the sovereignty of a criminal regime, it will have been worthwhile.” The juice was certainly worth the squeeze. However, Robert Dreyfuss of the Nation believes that once again the Bush Administration has overstepped its reaches. He claims that this tactic is just a new addendum to the Bush Doctrine and another disregard for international law. (Remember recently America launched drones and rockets into Pakistan.) But although the Bush Doctrine has too often lead to mistakes, the Bush Amendment (if I can coin that term) has pushed America in the right direction. While, the Bush Doctrine condones unilateral attacks by America as preemptive measures. This retaliation on terrorists in Syria is simply tit-for-tat and nothing like preemption. Terrorists within Syria struck first.

But the Bush Amendment can certainly fall under the umbrella of the Bush Doctrine which has stipulated that if you pal around with terrorists you’re going to get clamped. As Bush states on November 6th 2001,  “No group or nation should mistake America‘s intentions: We will not rest until terrorist groups of global reach have been found, have been stopped, and have been defeated.” In fact, the first Bush Doctrine, outlined in the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, made a vague goal: the eradication of terrorism, but the Bush Amendment has made our tactics a little more clear and pragmatic. In essence, you’re judged by the company you keep (Side note: the new National Strategy for Combating Terrorism published in September of 2006 revises the Bush Doctrine on many key points especially multilateralism, cultural sensitivity, roots of terrorism, and nation building.)

While crossing national lines might infringe on Syria‘s sovereignty, can they (or Pakistan) really complain. America might go in with choppers, but Syria has been trafficking weapons and fighters across Iraq‘s border. Those in glass houses should not throw stones. Now, maybe if this was Ethiopia and Somalia, America would not be as aggressive or responsive. But America is Iraq‘s protectorate, its body guard, and its bulletproof vest, and its going to protect itself and the Iraqi people. As the new bush doctrine sates, “Working with committed partners across the globe [Iraq], we continue to use a broad range of tolls at home and aboard o take the fight to the terrorist, deny them entry to the United States, hinder their movement across international borders, and establish protective measures to further reduce our vulnerability to attack.”

Finally, might is right. America has the firepower and they’re going to use it. What good is it to be a beacon of light without the will to light up the world? America is not afraid to ruffle the leaves, cross lines, and impede on national sovereignty. And the U.S. should. Sometimes having the guts to pull the trigger means breaking the rules. There are many problems and terrorism leads to making difficult decisions; sometimes you need to cross that line.