Compassion for Honesty

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There is a wonderful scene on 191 in which Roark demonstrates an incredible compassion for honesty. Keating has come to Roark after winning the Cosmo-Slotnick contest on building that Roark essentially designed. Instead of gloating, Keating ends up trying to convince Howard of the rationality of sellingout. Roark finally asks Keating “What is it that disturbs you about me as I am?” to which Keating replis “I don’t know…” After this comfession, Roark is almost consolling Peter, but as soon as Peter begins his diatribe again Roark snaps at him to “Shut Up!” thus ending any fleeting compassion between the two. It’s really a remarkable scene and I think it says something about Rands longing for a world in which true honesty could prevail.

Forget Iowa: A New Strategy For Howard Dean

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If I were Dean I’d forget about Iowa. I would not fret about it, apologize for it, or hesitate for a second. I wouldn’t spend another dime trying to take on Gephardt. Cut my losses, it’s as easy as that. This is not a mystical revelation, its a simple cost benefit analysis.

First of all, there is the significant cost in resources that campaigning in any state requires. A candidate must have offices and employees. He or she must run ads and commercials targeting local sentiments. He must make regular visits and shake millions of hands and that costs time. That’s time that could be spent on the same activities in other states. All this is heightened when you’re in a close race in a particular state as Dean is in Iowa. Recently the DesMoines Register reported that a local poll has Gephardt inching ahead of Dean in Iowa which means that if Dean wants to win, he’ll have to expend even more resources.

“But what about all Dean’s money?” you ask. True Dean has a cash advantage, but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be frugal. If he wins the primaries he still has to take on Bush in the fall and at the moment, Bush isn’t spending a dime. If Dean doesn’t manage his resources well his fall campaign will likely sputter.

Moreover, there is a risk in taking on Gephardt in Iowa. Gephardt knows he has nothing to lose and you have to figure that his campaign is banking on Iowa. They’re probably willing to spend any sum to win, because if they don’t they’ve got to fold. Don’t try to bluff a guy who’s willing to go all in, especially if you think he’s actually got a hand.

Afterall, a win in Iowa doesn’t mean all that much now that Clark isn’t in the heat. Clark is considered Dean’s major challenger, which means he has to quickly show that he can beat him. A win over Clark proves something; a win over Gephardt or Kerry doesn’t (at least not right now).

While Dean is playing the caucus game with the Dickie Gephardt, Clark is shrewdly positioning himself to stop Dean’s surge after NH. Clark isn’t wasting his time with Iowa, and probably isn’t even planning to win NH (even though he does want to make a good showing). He started way too late in those states. What Clark can do is win South Carolina on February 2nd (as Bush did in 2000) and use that win to gain momentum for the Michigan Primary on the 7th and the Tennessee and Virginia primaries on the 10th (both important southern states in which Dean is likely to have troubles). Clark’s successful execution of this strategy could quickly put an end to the Dean insurgency. This is especially the case if Dean has yet to get the party insiders behind him. In this scenario we would see a showdown on Super Tuesday, March 2nd.

All this becomes especially important when you consider that the Democrats have restructured their primaries to assign delegates proportionally. The number of delegates to be gained from a win in Iowa in New Hampshire is even less important than before. In contrast, a good showing in the bigger states of SC and Michigan has become more important.

Last, if Dean were to pull out of Iowa it would even further de-legitimate that caucus so that a win for Gephardt would really mean absolutely nothing to the rest of the country.

The Dean and his manager Joe Trippi have to be careful not to let all the media’s “frontrunner” talk go to their heads. He is still in a close race. He’s better off taking all the resources that he is spending in Iowa and sending them to South Carolina. Clark is a southerner and has the endorsement of a former Governor. Dean is from Vermont and has made a couple of controversial statements about the south. If he doesn’t get to work he’s likely to get outflanked by the Clark campaign.

Be sure I have no personal interest in the matter, but the analyst in me can’t help pointing out obvious mistakes.

More on the WMD Problem

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As I said yesterday, it has only been a couple months since the end of the war, and to expect the US to have found weapon which Saddam had years to hide is a little absurd.

That being said, I want to make it clear that if WMD, or evidence thereof, are not eventually located Bush will have a serious problem on his hands, at least politically speaking. I always thought that WMD was not the right justification for the war and it could come back to haunt Bush. Here is the evidence.

Some of the potential consequences of not eventually finding evidence of a WMD program in Iraq:

1) [electoral] Bush will have a major vulnerability on foreign policy, an area once thought to be his primary advantage in 2004. Thus the likelihood of a Democratic president in 2004 rises dramatically.

2) [institutional] There will be a complete collapse of the preemptive doctrine (which is a good thing). The intelligence service will no longer command the trust of the White House and the White House will have problems getting the trust of the American people (a bad thing). There overall trust in government will continue to decline.

3) [economic] Investigations into the Bush Administration and the CIA will create a general atmosphere of scandal. This could effect the economy. If people fear the terrorists adn don’t trust the president this makes for a very uncertain investment climate.

With all the Democrats have to gain from pushing the issue it is no surprise that we hear the WMD question daily. Ultimately, I would be outraged to find that Bush lied about or manipulated intelligence information to drag the country into war, even a war I supported under different justifications. I would turn on Bush as would many republicans and call for his resignation. However, I think that it is far to early to be suggesting conspiracy and scandal. Trust me there is plenty of time for this to become an issue next summer and fall without us jumping the gun. Give the president time to get things under control in Baghdad. However valid this issue could eventually become, it isn’t valid yet. The defense department just announced yesterday that it was switching its focus from looking for WMD sites to looking for people involved in the program that might give them information as to where they wer hidden.

Markus had a good question in yesterday’s comments, he asked me:

Assuming the Islamofacists have the WMD, doesn’t that mean the war has multiplied the danger to the US? If you truly believe this, why are you not up in revolt against a president who endangered you thus?

In one respect he is right that if the WMD have been sold to terrorists or given to neighboring regimes it creates just as big a political problem for Bush, because as Markus noted the war is not even serving US interests, at least in the short run. Yet, for me the good of the war will hinge upon the establishment of a liberal capitalism in the Middle East. As consequentialist as this sounds I am not arguing the ends justify the means. The means were justified simply by virtue of Saddams brutality and international disobedience, of course this isn’t what the Bush administration argued. The means were justified but the question of the ends is still up in the air. Will the result of the toppling of the Hussein regime lead to a safer more capitalistic, democratic world. We’ll see.

Where O’ Where are the WMD

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I have been purposely trying not to feed this media beast, but if I don’t the left could further poison the public mind. So here goes.

First, soldiers are still dying, tanks are still rolling, electricity is still scarce, law is somewhat absent and order is an inconstant. Given the state of affairs in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq, I suppose the US military is supposed to drop what it is doing and traverse the desert, looking for weapons that may or may not be there. Forget the humanitarian crisis, forget working to keep islamofacist-wanna-be-talibans from filling the power vaccuum, forget the long term success of the whole operation….find the WMD!

Remember, Saddam had about a year to prepare for the storage or sale or transport of whatever weapons he had. You have to imagine that he knew that a US invasion was almost ineveitable and therefore, took necessary precautions to prepare for the aftermath. He had plenty of time to transport them to Baathist Syria, who would have welcomed them with a smile and sanctuary for the fallen dictator, or he could have arranged their sale on the black market. The possibilities are numerous.

It also is possible that a cabal or two of fedeyeen or islamofacists were able to secure the anthrax or sarin gas themselves in the wake of the Iraqi leadership’s less than spectacular collapse. In fact, if Saddam truly had the stockpiles that experts claimed, every terrorist organization in the world was probably in Baghdad getting their piece of the pie during those first few days of anarchy.

To somehow assert that because we have no public evidence after just two months is really nothing but an attempt to weaken the President’s Foreign Policy popularity.

There, I’ve made peace with it.

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John Kass on Sammy Sosa

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Thank god someone has finally written a rational opinion on the corked Sosa incident. Did I tell you that WGN broke in on regularly scheduled programming in order to broadcast Sosa’s post-game press conference. The absurd amount of attention and criticism the story has attracted is unfortunate for the Cubs, and especially for Sammy. John Kass said it better than I ever could in this morning’s Trib. The highlights:

…for all he’s [Sosa] done for Chicago, for baseball, for every fan who has paused before leaving a room to look back at the TV when he comes to bat, for all that, he deserves something.He deserves some respect. You heard me. Respect.

Respect, because Sosa doesn’t take days off. Respect, because you might remember that recently he was hit in the head with a major-league fastball, the helmet shattering.

The very next game, he was in the lineup. His infected foot was aching. And he played. Hurt and scared, his insecurities raging, he stood there, and took his swings.

He’s not a great ballplayer anymore. He’s never been a smart ballplayer. But it was great watching him. And he deserves more that what he’s been given over the last 24 hours.

You want outrage over a sports story? Try this.

A few hours before the Sammy cork incident would happen, Tribune reporter Todd Lighty was working on a story about Rashidi Wheeler, the Northwestern University football player who died during summer conditioning practice in 2001.

Wheeler’s medical records–including a copy of a physical examination given to him before he collapsed and died on the field–were destroyed.

An NU doctor, Mark Gardner, destroyed them after Wheeler died.

That’s an outrage, as compared with Sammy’s pimple. But how many sports fans heard Dr. Gardner’s name? No, the outrage was reserved for Sammy. It happened on TV, it was contained, there was video, and it was easy.

Call me naive but I actually think Sammy is telling the truth. He made a stupid mistake that will cost an unfair share of his reputation. There is no reason to call him a cheat. The rest of his bats were examined and they’re ALL clean. Harry Carey’s, a local restaurant, had the historic bat that graces its walls x-rayed. Guess what? It’s clean. This isn’t a pattern, it is an incident and guess what…he’s still going to the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest hitters ever….so relax…take it easy…cheer for Sosa when he returns…or turn the channel….whatever….just quit with the gasping and awing and finger wagging, it isn’t that big a deal