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You Decide in 2004: Kerry or Scary?

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Terror and Liberalism

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria


Polyarchy by Robert Dahl

The Nazi Seizure of Power

The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen

Terror and Liberalism

Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman

In Association with

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck



Turkiye 0, Ingilitere 0

Seriously folks, try to keep the cheering to a minimum. I can hardly keep my excitement under control, I mean with such a thrilling scoreless tie and all. The exhilaration is never ending in matches like this!

OK, OK, so it wasn't that bad. Beckham was as pretty as ever, stadium-size flags covered the entire crowd at various points in the game, dozens of flares were lit in the midst of overpacked Turkish fans, and the Prime Minister and the President of Turkey were both in attendance. So it was a big thing.

But the whole zero-zero thing will remain as the reason soccer (or football as the rest of the world calls it) will never catch on in the United States. There was plenty of drama before and during the game, don't get me wrong: Rio Ferdinand, one of England's stars, was banned from playing in the game after failing to take a mandatory drug test leading the English team to threaten to boycott the match that would put the winner into the European championship series; and halfway through the first half a penalty kick was awarded to England - and Beckham slipped and missed the goal by about 15 meters too high, quite a feat considering the goal is only 15 meters away (that's him being taunted by Turkey's Alpay Ozalan after the miss). Fun times for all involved, but back to the scoreless, no goals, zero scoring, 0-0 tie.

America can't get on board a sport that doesn't produce results. There's a reason we like basketball so much: people score frequently and impressively, often times without even dribbling a single time on the way to the basket. Americans like scoring and soccer just doesn't deliver. The goals are great when they happen - spectacular even - but they are few and far between.

Watching soccer games back at home in the States is one of the most boring activities I can think of. Playing the game is wonderful, which is why every kid plays it. But watching it put Americans to sleep almost before the whistle starts the game. Maybe its our attention span and our inability to pay attention to something on television for 5 minutes, let alone 45 consecutive minutes, but our enthusiasm for sports that tease us with almost-goals seems limited to sports that involve wearing lots of pads and knocking people out while skating.

Perhaps if America was founded on insane levels of nationalism we could rally around our national soccer team. Probably not, but it could only help. Here in Turkey people seem to seek out random bars and cafes to gather at to watch the big game with their fellow countrymen. They sing, chant and drink with total strangers all because they have been told since grade school that Turks are the greatest people on the face of the earth and are infallible/invincible.

On a personal note, for once it was a good thing to tell people I was American. When we walked into a bar in central Ankara to watch the game and we ordered in broken Turkish they immediately knew our first language was english. Tense glances were thrown in our direction until the bar owner came over and asked us where we were from. We responded, "Ingilitere, yök! Amerika'dan!" (Not England! From America!). Suddenly we were buddy-buddy with the owner and all was good. If only it worked that easily every other time. It sure would be nice if America's image in the world was such that we could get that reaction every time we said where we were from.... but that's a topic for another time.

So to recap: the game was exciting for the Turks and for Americans in Turkey, but scoreless ties will forever keep soccer from catching fire in the States. Oh, and Beckham was very pretty and got upset when his little ponytail got messed up. Poor guy.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 4:19:00 PM

Saturday, October 11, 2003  


NLCS, Game 3

This game was big. Going up 2-1 in a playoff series is tremendously helpful, and now the Cubs are there. This means that if the Marlins want to win the series they will have to go through Mark Prior at Wrigley in game 6. Ain't gonna happen.

It took 11 innings and some theatrics from the end of the Cubs' bench, but in the end the Cubbies finished off the Fish 5-4 on a RBI triple from Doug Glanville and with the help of a big home run from Randall Simon in the 8th.

Wood wasn't exactly on tonight, but the Cubs offense was - even if it didn't finish a lot of the time. The Cubs stranded ten, a number that usually should mean a Cubs' loss. Instead the Northsiders kept throwing the offense at the lowly Marlins and in extra innings it finally paid off. Cubs win.

Next up in game 4 is Matt Clement. He wasn't too solid against the Braves, but one bad outing doesn't spoil the whole lot. He'll be going up against Dontrelle Willis, a young hotshot he was traded for just a year ago. Willis is apparently wildly unpredictable in how well he'll do, so game 4 could be a toss-up. The Cubs will have their work cut out for them at Pro Player Stadium, but if they can wrap up game 4 the World Series will be a certainty. Oh yeah.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 3:14:00 AM



This evening on my yahoo news page the top two headlines, right next to each other, were the following:

'Bush Touts Postwar Progress in Iraq'

'Bombing Kills 8 at Baghdad Police Station'

So who's lying, Bush or reality?

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 2:11:00 PM

Thursday, October 09, 2003  


I Mean It This Time

This is almost getting comical. Er, but in a very not funny way. I thought this guy was supposed to be Arafat's very own puppet, but apparently he would like peace just as much as Abbas did. Looks like the strings broke on that puppet.

Arafat needs to go. Natural death would be ideal, but the sooner he's out of the picture the sooner there will be a chance at peace.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 2:07:00 PM


NLCS, Game 2

The headline says it all. Indeed Sosa is heating up - and at just the right time too. In game one his heroics sent things into extra innings. It didn't work out so well, but the spark had ignited.

In the second inning Sosa pounded one 495 feet. That's right. 495 feet. Alex Gonzalez also jacked two out of the park and Aramis Ramirez added his own power. After five innings the Cubs were up 11-0. Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

My worries after game one about the Cubs having to rely on their two stud pitchers should be for nought if the Cubs' offense can keep up this kind of display. If they can put up numbers like this consistently then it won't matter who's on the mound.

Even so, game three will face Kerry Wood against Mark Redman. I don't know much about Redman, but I know Wood is the major league leader in strikeouts, is 2-0 against the Marlins this season, limited them to only one run in those 18 innings, and struck out 20. Now, I'm no Mike Billmire, but that sounds pretty solid to me.

Enjoy game 3.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 5:36:00 AM


NLCS, Game 1

These games are just at exactly the wrong time of day for me. Here in Turkey the Cubs games start up around 4am. If they were still playing during the day like every other normal Cubs game it wouldn't be as much of a problem. It would be around 11pm for me. No biggie. But 4am? That's just not right.

So imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning at 7am, went to check the score of Game 1 and found it still in progress - in the 11th inning! Next imagine the pain that set in when I saw that that 11th inning was not going to end the way it should.

Sammy did his thing and did it in impressive fashion in the bottom of the 9th to tie things up, but in the end the good guys fell just short.

I'm beginning to think that the Cubs' playoffs success will depend on the continued dominance of the two staff aces. In the Division series the only Cubs wins were on the backs of great outings from Prior and Wood. If those are the only ones they win this time around things could be tight. It's easy to win on the arms of two pitchers in a five game series - not as easy when you have to win four of seven.

Either way, tomorrow's game 2 will be big. Prior takes the mound once again. Hopefully he can duplicate his two-hit performance from the Division series. The Cubs need a big win in game 2 to stay in the hunt. I expect Prior will come through, especially since it's another night game at Wrigley. That always helps. :)

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 5:30:00 PM

Wednesday, October 08, 2003  


I Turn My Back For One Minute...

...and California elects this as their GOVERNOR.

The fifth largest economy in the world is now being managed by this guy. You've GOT to be kidding me.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 5:18:00 PM


'Bush Has Doubts Leaker Will Be Caught'

This is one of the stupidest statements I've ever heard. If Bush really wanted to clear up this whole mess he certainly could. All he would have to do is use his authority, which he should have as President of the United States, and ask his staff straight up. Anyone who has the guts to lie to the president is either insane or named Dick Cheney. All he would have to do is ask. An honest White House is all the stronger. Denying that this is a scandal will only make things worse. If Bush were smart he would roll a head or two and move on, with one less scandal to drag behind him into 2004.

"This is a town where a lot of people leak, and I've constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks, particularly of classified information," Bush said. "I hope we can get this investigation done in a thorough way, as quickly as possible."

It's good to know the President of the United States is displeasured by felonies. Good thing we cleared that up.

Bush turned the questions on reporters at the end of a Cabinet meeting. "You tell me: how many sources have you had that's leaked information, that you've exposed or had been exposed? Probably none."

Folks, both left and right, the problem is not in the media. Novak is a hack, and not even that entertaining on Crossfire, but he has a right to print the information passed on to him. The crime occurs when the information passes from authorized personnel to unauthorized personnel. The crime did not occur when Novak wrote his column, but when he was told the identity of a CIA operative. Get it straight, and don't kill the messenger.

"I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official," Bush said. "I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth."

"But, Bush said, "This is a large administration and there's a lot of senior officials."

"I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers," Bush told journalists.

Whoa! The way to catch the leakers is not to attack the media who got the classified information, but to track them down from the inside. Remember the First Amendment? Yeah, you can't do that.

Is anyone really convinced Bush has any intention of getting to the bottom of this? Attacking journalists who now hold classified information because of a crime occured by a senior administration official is not the way to solve things. Ask the staff, make them lie to your face.


Josh Marshall has this to say:

"All mumbo-jumbo to the contrary, the universe of possible culprits is quite small. I suspect the identity of the two is already well-known in the White House. But even if that's not the case, the president could quickly figure out who they are --- probably by demanding that they come forward, and certainly by reviewing phone logs and emails. Yet he has done neither.

"We now have the farcical spectacle of the Justice Department initiating a massive investigation --- with the net thrown almost comically wide --- in order to find out what the president could find out in a few hours, tops.

"That's the whole story right there.

"The president has said he wants to get to the bottom of this. Yet he has done nothing to get to the bottom of it. The only credible explanation is the obvious one: that he doesn't want to get to the bottom of it.

"Whether the Justice Department can find the culprits on its own is an interesting legal chess game. But no more.

"The president's lieutenants did this. Rather than trying to punish them, he's trying to protect them. The only thing the White House has been aggressive about is attacking the victims of its own bad-acts: Wilson and Plame.

"These simple --- and I think indisputable --- facts tell you all you need to know about what's happening here.

"In the end, I strongly suspect that Bush will rue the day he didn't do the right thing on day one."


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 3:09:00 PM

Tuesday, October 07, 2003  



Kid K dominated again. 18 (!) strikeouts for Kerry Wood in his two games pitched as the Cubs annihilate the Braves 5-1. Braves haven't seen this kind of thrashing since the days of Andrew Jackson. This is the first playoff series won by the Cubs since 1908.

We all know what happened in 1908, don't we?

CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES. History is destined to repeat itself.

Next up is the Florida Marlins, the wild card winner. That means the Cubs get home-field advantage for this series. That spells trouble for any Marlin fans because the Cubs with Wrigley fans behind them are unstoppable. And, seeing as it's been a while since the Cubs have been in this position, expect Pro Player Stadium to be dominated by blue and red. :)


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 3:44:00 AM

Monday, October 06, 2003  


Israel Strikes Deep In Syria

Is this the beginning of another Middle East war? I doubt it, but Israel's step certainly was bold.

"JERUSALEM - Israeli warplanes attacked an Islamic Jihad training base deep in Syria in retaliation for a suicide bombing at a Haifa restaurant that killed 19 people, the army said Sunday. Israeli media said it was the first Israeli attack on Syrian soil in more than two decades.

"The strike, which occurred late Saturday or early Sunday, targeted the Ein Sahev camp about 10 miles northwest of Damascus, according to Israeli officials. The base was used by several terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the army said in a statement.

"Syria has been warned more than once by the United States that it should close all the facilities of the Islamic Jihad," Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said. "Apparently it has not done so. And it is our policy after what happened yesterday to go after Islamic Jihad wherever they are."

The longer this goes on, the more I support the Israeli cause. Yes they attacked a sovereign nation, but if that's who is keeping their real enemy (Hamas and Islamic Jihad) afloat then Syria is just as much to blame. The bombing of 19 innocent Israelis yesterday is simply unexcusable.

The Bush Doctrine (is that what we're really calling it?) of going after terrorists and those who harbor terrorists is a good one and it applies to Israel quite well. Syria has been promoting a proxy fight for years. It's about time Syria gets what's coming to it. Apparently the strong threats from the Bush administration soon after the end of major combat operations in Iraq weren't enough.

Israel has the right to defend itself. If the Palestinian Authority isn't willing or able to control Hamas and Islamic Jihad then Israel must. Going after those two groups though has only cured some of the symptoms of terror. Going after Syria should help take the legs out from under this dispicable form of terror.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 7:56:00 AM

Sunday, October 05, 2003  


Game 4

Well, we can't win every one of them, that would actually let us sleep at night. What would a Cubs' trek to the World Series be without a little sudden death-Game 5 action?

Game 5 is tonight. Wood vs. Hampton. Bring it on. Then bring on the Marlins.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 7:43:00 AM