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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
Jack Ryan, Meet Bill Clinton
Not that this will matter one bit, but Jack Ryan is officially out of the race. After a week of not so brilliant public relations moves, the pressure on Ryan simply became too much.
Ryan released a statement saying that his options would have been limited to a very negative campaign. I think that gives his chances too much credit.
"It's clear to me that a vigorous debate on the issues most likely could not take place if I remain in the race. What would take place, rather, is a brutal, scorched-earth campaign - the kind of campaign that has turned off so many voters, the kind of politics I refuse to play."
Ryan would have lost anyway, but it's interesting to see that he quit once he thought even his brutally negative campaign wouldn't have won. Apparently if negative could have won it for him he would have tried it. That's unfortunate.
I do think it is indeed "outrageous," as Ryan put it, that the Chicago Tribune would sue to get into his divorce files. It really is something that is completely irrelevant to Ryan's potential abilities as a representative of Illinois. I would much rather see Barack Obama dominate Ryan on the merits - which he certainly would have done - than to see Obama win over who ever replaces Ryan.
And on that note, the choices for the Illinois Republican Party are quite limited. The options include ice cream man James Oberweis and state senator Steve Rauschenberger who ran ads that completely centered around driving old people to Canada and a handful of blasts from the past such as former governor Jim Edgar. Oberweis and Rauschenberger have no chance at coming close to Obama. They lost to Ryan by at least 10% in the primary. Edgar would be the only candidate who could give Obama a real hint of competition, but even he would have a major uphill battle. And, oh yeah, Edgar says he won't run.
So, let's offer a nice warm welcome for Senator Barack Obama.
Now this is just no help at all. Two new Ohio polls show exactly opposite results. A June 23 poll by American Research Group shows the following:
(MoE = 4%)
Kerry - 49% Bush - 43%
Nader - 2%
Interestingly, with Nader not in the race, Kerry still leads by 6%:
Kerry - 50% Bush - 44%
These results are virtually identical as the ARG poll from May 12, but a new poll by Fox News has very different results:
Bush - 45% Kerry - 41%
Nader - 4%
While the ARG poll is a bit of an outlier compared to other Ohio polls of late, the Fox News numbers seem suspicious as well. Fox has Bush leading in states like Michigan which have not been nearly as close as the 2% as they suggest. Also, in Florida Fox shows Bush with a 10% lead. No other poll has been that off.
So I think both of these polls are a bit off. My guess is that reality lies somewhere around a 1-2% lead for Bush. Including Nader doesn't seem to be all too critical since his supports seems to be cutting both ways. Must be Republicans out there who aren't so hot for Bush but can't stand Kerry either.
Once again, bombs are going off in Turkey. Like last November, there have been several blasts and in multiple locations. Unlike last time however, the attacks are in two different cities and they do not appear to be suicide attacks. To me this would suggest a different group is responsible for these attacks - a group unaffiliated with al-Qaeda.
Earlier this morning a small percussion bomb detonated near the Ankara Hilton hotel. No one was killed, but two people were injured. One of those injured was a police officer who kicked the bomb, causing it to detonate. That is just plain stupid.
I had been to the Ankara Hilton in early November of last year when my parents stayed there while visiting Turkey. It is in a very nice neighborhood in the southern part of the city and has a nice drive-thru entrance area. I assume the bomb was in this area of the hotel. Bush is scheduled to stay at the Ankara Hilton when he attends the NATO Summit this weekend. If I were the White House I might reconsider entrusting the Turks with security. They clearly are not up to the task.
The bigger attack today was in Istanbul. In a scene right out of Jeruselem, the attacker(s) bombed a public bus, killing at least five and injuring at least 20. The attack took place near the Istanbul University Hospital which is in the Fatih (conquerer) District of the city.
This is yet another setback for Turkey. I am not convinced that the Turks know what they are doing when it comes to counter-terrorism. So much of their defense efforts are rooted in their strong military which focuses like a laser on the Kurds in the southeast and even more irrationally, on the Kurds in northern Iraq. Little of Turkey's defense efforts go to preventing and combating terrorists who do not play according to the rules of warfare.
This was best displayed to me two days after the November attacks in Istanbul last year. I walked by the German and Japanese consulates in Istanbul two days after bombs tore apart the British consulate and a British bank. In an effort to defend these other two consulates however, the Turks closed off the street in front of the consulates - but with yellow caution tape. To me, I would think yellow caution tape might not stop a car bomber determined to destroy the Japanese consulate which sits just feet from the street. But hey, that's just me.
The Turks need to reorganize their efforts and recognize the true nature of the threats that seem to be able to strike at will in their country. In the meantime, I wouldn't be too cheery about attending a politically contentious Summit in a city where the police and the military are asleep at the wheel.
**UPDATE**: The AP has a few new details about the Istanbul bombing. Apparently the bus was not the intended target. It was merely being carried by a member of a "far-left Marxist" group. The type of bomb is not one that is necesssarily intended to kill people, but rather to terrorize - through the jolt of its sound and percussion. That is of course, unless you carry a live bomb onto an enclosed bus. Idiots.
"The Istanbul explosion occurred as the bus passed through the residential Fatih district, about five miles from the summit's venue.
"The bomb - a concussion grenade - exploded in the lap of a woman in her early 20s who apparently was transporting the device when it accidentally went off, said Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler. The woman was among the four killed, said Korhan Taviloglu, a doctor at Capa Medical Center.
"It was apparently a bomb that was being carried," Guler said. "It is understood that the target was neither the bus nor the passengers aboard."
"Concussion grenades produce a loud noise and shock wave but usually cause little damage - unless they go off in a confined area. Thursday's blast blew out bus windows and tore through passengers."
It appears that in this case at least, the attacker's stupidity matched the inadequacies of the Turkish police (see police officer kicking bomb).
Much has been made by the Bush campaign and administration about how much the economy is growing. The problem of course, is that much of the labor that lost their jobs are still unemployed despite record levels of growth. So where is the recovery? The manufacturing worker of Youngstown hasn't seen it. So who HAS seen all the benefits of the recovery? (via Kevin Drum)
The corporate bottom line (click on graph for a larger image).
In every other recovery we have seen in modern times, the distribution of the recovery has been spread fairly evenly between business and labor. Not this one. As you can see in the graph, the red bar that represents the current recovery is, uh, a bit larger than average for corporate profits. Meanwhile wages and salaries have actually decreased.
"Despite recent good news on employment growth, the current economic recovery, now approaching its third year, remains the most unbalanced on record in respect to the distribution of income gains between corporate profits and labor compensation. Essentially, rapid gains in productivity have been translating into higher corporate profits without increasing the wage and salary income of American workers."
Of course, that's what matters to Bush and his Republican backers. To them, all that matters is the fat cat bottom line. Sigh.