The Veritable Smorgasbord

"I'm just preparing my impromptu remarks."- Sir Winston Curchill

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

I'm a 30 year old San Francisco resident by way of Virginia, currently working as an alumni affairs officer at a major research university in the Bay Area. I mainly write about politics, sports, music, and culture. I am a 1999 graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Foreign Affairs. I am hoping to begin a master's degree program in Journalism in the next few years.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A star is born

Political history has been filled with memorable speeches. The Gettysburg Address. Churchill's, "We shall fight them on the beaches". Kennedy at the Berlin Wall. Tonight at the Democratic National Convention, the speech given by Barack Obama may reach that hallowed level. Mr. Obama, a law professor at the University of Chicago and candidate for a U.S. senate seat from Illinois, gave a rousing and powerful speech that shook the foundations of the Fleet Center in Boston. That this promising politician was literally an unknown a few months ago is one thing, but to be able to give the kind of command performance he did tonight at the most important convention in recent history was simply amazing. Everyone thought John Kerry would have a hard time topping former President Clinton's speech on Monday night; well, he's got an even higher bar to match now. Delicately weaving his own story into the larger tapestry of America, Obama tapped into the feelings of all Americans in these troubled times. A son of mixed ancestrey (his father was Kenyan, his mother an American from Kansas) he hit on troubles not only facing the African-American community, but those that concern all Americans, and he did so in brilliant fashion:

"Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't acheive unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice."

Digging deeper into the spirit of what we, as Americans, want to stand for and believe that we stand for, Mr. Obama delivered this powerful passage:

"A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief — I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper — that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one."

Obama then went on to address those that would seek to divide American from within, those who would see us split upon partisan lines:

"Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."

One could not have imagined a more perfect coming out party for this dynamic young politician. His speech might well be the highlight of this entire convention. With the lights on at their brightest, Barack still outshone them all. Bigger things are in store for Mr. Obama...let us hitch on and enjoy the ride.

The full text of Barack Obama's speech can be found here.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Final 9/11 report released

Yesterday, the 9/11 Commission released to the public its final report on the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The full report can be found here and is available to download in PDF form.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Senate findings attack pre-war intelligence

Today the Senate Intelligence Committe released it's findings on the validity of the CIA's intelligence information before the war in Iraq and the resulting report is not a pretty one. The committee accused the CIA of "group think" that lead to overstated or outright false analysis of the threat Saddam's Iraq posed. In a striking passage, the report lays bare their thoughts:

"This 'group think' dynamic led Intelligence Community analysts, collectors and managers to both interpret ambiguous evidence as conclusively indicative of a WMD program as well as ignore or minimize evidence that Iraq did not have active and expanding weapons of mass destruction programs."

The full text (in PDF format) of the conclusions section of the committee's report can be found here.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Politics: Kerry picks Edwards; the race begins

Speculation that was at a fever pitch over the 4th of July weekend ended today when John Kerry revealed that John Edwards will be his running mate against the Bush/Cheney ticket. Larry Sabato, professor of American Politics at the University of Virginia (and one of my former instructors), weighed in with snap analyis over at the Crystal Ball, an invaluable resource for political junkies. In taking a look at the potential running mates for Kerry, in my opinion, Edwards was the only potential V.P. candidate whose negatives didn't outweigh his positives. The flirtation with John McCain was interesting, but nothing was really going to come of that. Few in the party could get excited about the possibilty of Bob Graham or Dick Gephardt, die hard Democrats both, but not the kind of candidates to sway voters not already wedded to their selections. Fmr. Sec. of Treasury Robert Rubin would have been an unconvential choice, but the name "Clinton" would surely be mentioned at any given opportunity by Republicans in an effort to negatively associate the two. John Edwards, while lacking the long service record of many of the other candidates, may in some ways benefit from the fact that his short time in the Senate hasn't left a long paper trail that can be tossed back at him. His voting record will reveal him to be more moderate than Kerry, which will hopefully comfort independents and moderates afraid of the ticket drifting too far left. Edwards brings a spirit of youth and excitement to the Kerry campaign that was sorely needed. He connects well with the "common man" when on the stump, his humble backstory having the power to offset his occupation as a trial lawyer. In all, this was really the only choice Kerry had, but it should provide him with a spark heading into Boston in a few weeks to accept the nomination.