What’s the Rush?

Apr 5, 2003

I’m astounded by the pace of the war. I have to say that I’m more than a little surprised that US tanks are already cruising through Bagdad.

I really thought we’d leave our ground troops in Kuwait for a month and pound Iraq into submission from the air. It certainly worked last time. I expected history to repeat itself. But that wasn’t and isn’t the plan.

Instead we’ve dashed into Iraq, overwhelming their military and meeting relatively small pockets of resistance in our rush to Bagdad. The army and marines are on duty and have been very busy for the past couple of weeks. I can’t argue with their success but I might argue that our mad rush may have put more US lives at risk than I originally thought necessary so early in the war.

To be fair, the circumstances are very different. The Iraqi military isn’t spread as thin now as it was in 1991. The bombing of the last two weeks can’t cut their supply lines as effectively as it did then, starving their troops of both food and ammunition. In 1991, many Iraqi soldiers were glad to see coalition forces. There was a chance that one of them had a hamburger. In 2003, we’ve found it more difficult to coax the fox from their hole.

This time around Shock and Awe replaced the need for a drawn out bombing campaign. It did its damage, both in the mind and body of the Iraqi army. However, I’m not convinced it can really match two months of constant barrage.

Still, there’s little to complain about. The press may be unhappy about the pace of the war. I am not.

Dennis Miller told Jay Leno that he’s never been more proud to be an American. I have to agree. Our troops are doing us proud. And it’s not just their recent success. Their selection of targets and concern for the innocent is unprecedented. Iraqi troops fire from sacred mosques. Our troops respond with patience and precision. They win battles on the field and gain victory through their mercy.

They travel the streets of Bagdad now. The easy part is over. Heaven help them. The war is far from won.

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Mar 22, 2003

A war unfolds thousands of miles away. I sit in my living room and watch the images flash across the television screen. At home I’m captivated by it. At work, I’m distracted by it.

Bagdad lights up in their very own, and very real, fireworks show. Bush stops by to tell us of the difficulties ahead. A representative of MSNBC rides along with our troops into Southern Iraq. Someone from Fox News chats along with us while gunfire echoes in the background. I can’t help but feel that something is lost in the translation. Unprecedented access can bring us close to battle but not to the feelings of war.

Reports of enemy casualties don’t faze me. Reports of our own dead send a chill down my spine. The sight of Iraqi police literally beating the bushes for a downed pilot that didn’t exist made the hair on my neck stand on end. Shots are fired into the water for an imaginary POW. Real POWs are paraded in front of the camera.

A ticker scrolls along the bottom of the screen. As the fighting intensifies, so do the reports from the field. The big news of the night speaks of a suspected chemical weapons plant – 100 acres of it. We need no reminder why we’re here.

I’m proud to be part of a country that stands up to the despots of the world. I’m proud of our soldiers and the work they do. The television gives me a cloudy lens in which to spy on their frightening world. I pray for our soldiers. I pray for our enemy. I pray for the day when I’m happy to turn the TV off.

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Get Out of the Street

Mar 21, 2003

The attention getting tactics of the several street filling protests yesterday has me irritated. Protesters ran out into the street and blocked traffic, clogging the roadways for miles. Some degree of civil disobedience is acceptable. Ruining an otherwise pleasant commute is not.

I know my disagreement with their opinion fuels my disgust. I’m happy to see Americans exercise their right to free speech. I’m happy to know that dissenting voices exist to keep us all level headed and open eyed. I’m unhappy that, in this anxious time, policemen are diverted from their primary tasks to deal with folks who have trouble understanding the peace part of a peace protest.

I take solice in the fact that they’ve failed miserably in their attempt to sway public opinion. I’m not surprised. An agenda of anger and frustration doesn’t tend to bring people into the fold. The fact that many protests cross the line from an agenda of anti-war to anti-US leaves more than a token flavor of distrust in the air.

I’m happy to see some pro-war demonstrations counter the recent rush. Funny enough, I’ve yet to hear that one of them got out of hand. No policemen with batons required. No vandalism at the local McDonald’s (can’t we leave the Hamburgler out of this?) to speak of. The irony of this is not lost on me.

I can’t imagine sitting in traffic in one of those victimized cars, waiting to return home to my wife and child. I’m nervous and anxious, listening to war on the radio while signs and chants cross in front of me. Sir or madam, I don’t care about your message. Just get the hell out of my way.

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War on the Horizon

Mar 18, 2003

I’ve avoided talking about the war with Iraq. Part of the reason is surely personal. Most of my regular readers, many of which reside on the other side of the political fence, likely disagree with my thoughts. Still, I’m not usually one to shy away from debate. The second, and more major, part of the reason is laziness. I haven’t had the time or inclination to grasp the many thoughts in my head and use the force necessary to translate them into something resembling coherent sentences. But I can’t simply ignore one of the more significant events of my time, especially when I consider this blog somewhat of a diary (sheww, don’t tell anyone – it makes me sound girly). So, here goes. I’ll try to make it quick.

I’m for a war on Iraq because the last one is not yet over.

I want to get the preemptive strike talk out of the way first. If Iraq were just some random country toiling on nasty weapons in seclusion (and let’s face it, who isn’t), the argument for war would hold much less weight. We can’t attack another country simply because we believe they may be a threat to us in the future. The bully can’t take lunch money from the nerd just because he heard that he was saving for a gun. It wouldn’t be right. Premonition as an instrument of war is a dangerous toy.

But that isn’t an accurate description of Iraq (except for the toiling part). Iraq fought a war in1991 and lost badly. Yes, they lost. They lost despite the fact that tanks didn’t roll into Bagdad. They lost despite the fact they won’t admit it; maybe, just maybe, that is the problem. They pulled pens from their pockets and signed a couple of “agreements”. They agreed to follow the U.N.’s resolutions. We agreed to stop kicking their ass. Those agreements have since been ignored.

That’s brings up point two of the anti-war crowd: there is no proof that Saddam possesses the weapons for which we accuse him. Some believe that he has done what he says. I have a two major problems with that line of thinking: it assumes trust in Saddam Hussein and it assumes a distrust in the United States government. Saddam is the poster child of a madmen, rapidly climbing the ranks of the big boys. If Hitler were around, Saddam would surely have a picture with him on the palace wall. Trusting in him is folly. His own mother may love him but I’d be surprised if that wasn’t one parent who slept with one eye open and a gas mask in the nightstand.

If President Bush tells me Saddam has chemical and biological weapons, I believe him. If he tells me that Saddam is actively attempting to create weapons of mass destruction, I believe him. If for no other reason, the math works out: madman + recent history + no supervision + twelve years of defiance = bad news. All logic points that way. Bush isn’t some guy on a street corner and he isn’t the madman some believe him to be. In this case, he is the messenger. This isn’t the stance of George W. Bush. This isn’t the stance of his daddy. This is the official stance of the United States.

(On the other hand, if he tells me that grass is blue, we might have a little debate. Let’s leave that sexual relation talk at the door. We aren’t talking about Monica this time.)

Colin Powell’s take on this when speaking to the U.N. was eye opening. Look people, I shouldn’t have to tell you this. If your intelligence resources are anything more than incompetent, you should already know.

For me, no direct proof is necessary. I don’t need to know every detail. I’m delegating. There is a reason why they call it intelligence.

So let’s say Iraq has weapons that it shouldn’t. If this isn’t true, why did the U.N. send weapons inspectors to Iraq to begin with? Surely, there isn’t anything to find. We could just head over to the weapons factories (you know, the buildings with the “Weapons Here” signs on the roof) and make sure there isn’t anything more lethal than a pop gun being manufactured. What will more time allow the inspectors to do? If they are actively searching for something, what is it? Why wasn’t twelve years enough?

These weapons exist and we know it. The world knows it, even if you can’t scare France away their white flags long enough to admit it. Saddam, you said you’d rid your country of inhumane weapons. You lied. We can’t leave our children to clean up any mess that you or your offspring would certainly make. We must finish what we started. Call it Desert Storm, part duex.

There are rumors that Iraq is prepared to use chemical and biological weapons against our troops in retaliation – a scary proposition indeed. I can’t help but think the obvious: I thought they did not possess the ability to do so.

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Election Selection

Nov 4, 2002

For the first time ever, I’ve decided to open my votes for November 5th election
for public perusal. I’ve included some comments and a bit of my individual
research along with each choice.

I have to say that I enjoyed making the list. It forced me to take a better
look at some candidates and justify each selection in some way. It will also
give me a neat checklist when the election results roll in. As a republican
voting in a largely
state, I’m bound to
lose more than I win but that matters little. I can’t complain if I don’t
bother to cast a ballot and – let’s face facts – what republican doesn’t
have a lot to complain about in Maryland?

If anyone has the itch to share, please do, even if you read this long
after the fact. For anyone still undecided, I found the
voter’s guide
provided by the
Washington Post
to be a very handy guide. Check it out.
One more thing: don’t forget to vote, unless of course
you disagree with me.

Robert L. Ehrlich. Jr./Michael S. Steele

This is the easiest vote on the ballot for several reasons. It’s certainly
the one with the highest profile and the one I’ve spent the most time thinking
about. However, it wasn’t a hard decision. A republican with a chance to
take the governor’s post is a no brainer, even if I wasn’t a bit disgruntled
about the last eight years of Mrs. Townsend.

Comptroller: Gene Zarwell

I like Mr. Schaefer – he’s certainly a familiar face – but the state
is currently facing a deficit of over $1 billion. Is it his fault?
Nah. Should he take some of the blame? Just a little. Besides,
the man has an AOL email address.
It doesn’t really matter anyway. This is just a throwaway vote
in the face of what I’m sure to be an impressive victory for Donnie.

Attorney General: J. Joseph Curran Jr.

Mr. MacVaugh says some of the right things, like mentioning he would
be “… Bob Ehrlich’s attorney general …”, but sometimes there is just no substitute for experience.
As the incumbent, Mr. Curran has this qualification down. Note that I
got over the fact that he too has an AOL email address (you’d think
that the people at joecurran.org
would be nice enough to give him one, sheesh).

Representative in Congress (D 2): Helen Delich Bentley
Chalk this vote up to the balance in the House, where the republicans
have a decent chance of controlling both House and the Senate along
with the presidency. My biggest problem with Bentley is the fact that she
looks feeble; she’s not a spring chicken by any means.

State Senator (D 31): Philip C. Jimeno

Ugh, this one hurts. On one hand, Mr. Jimeno is proud of a report card that
in my opinion should send him to detention. One the other, David Kile
doesn’t even sport a college degree or a couple of issues I’m particularly
passionate about. If I was in Florida, I’d punch both holes or neither and
let the voting machine figure it out.

House of Delegates (D 31):
John R. Leopold, Don Dwyer, Thomas R. Gardner

This one is more of a crap shoot because I get to pick three of six.
Mr. Leopold came by and visited us during dinner one night, much to the
chagrin of the wife. Despite this, he still gets my vote. Dwyer
gets a vote for sheer effort. He waves to my wife every day on the
way to work – rain, sleet, snow, or shine. She doesn’t wave back but
she’ll make the wave that counts. Mr. Gardner gets my last vote
because he actually mentioned the deficit. Imagine that. It’s
a republican sweep for me.

County Executive: Phillip D. Bisset
Without revealing the innocent parties, let’s just say that
this one is personal. It’s a simple vote against a
disliked incumbent.

County Council (D 3): Ron Dillon, Jr.
The retired catering manager of La Fountaine Bleu vs. the manager
of Dillon’s Bus Service. It’s a toss up and I’m full.

Judge of the Circuit Court:
Nancy Davis-Loomis, Paul A. Hackner
The only two candidates present me with two choices. I don’t
even understand why they bother with the ink, given that I’d
guess they only need one vote each secure the office
(it probably has something to do with that pesky election law). Let’s
pretend I’m the only one. Everyone, leave this one to me.

Court of Appeals/Special Appeals
Here’s some more wasted ink that presents three candidates for
continuance of office. How many people lose these things
(hey mom, I lost to Daffy Duck, the famous write-in candidate)?
I’ll save the internet some bytes and skip listing their names.

State’s Attorney: Michael W. Burns
Let’s go for the newbie with an eye on Ehrlich’s Project Exile
program. Punish gun crimes like you mean it.

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Robert P. Duckworth
I can’t help but chuckle when I hear his name. He should
be a shrink (2 points if you get the joke). What is it
with Serabian talking about men being problem employees?
Let me write that down and figure out what that has to
do with anything.

Register of Wills: George N. Nutwell
The only candidate gets my vote. Someone wake me before I
get to the questions.

Judge of the Orphan’s Court:
Paul R. Shelby, Gordon H. Witherspoon, Jacqueline Boone Allsup
This is another pick of three out of six. Paul Shelby and
Gordon Witherspoon seem to be the best qualified. Nancy
Phelps went to Lansdowne (my alma mater), so she’s
out. Jackie Allsup gets my toss up vote.

Sheriff: John Edward Moran IV
What is with the IV’s at the end of these guy’s names?
Both of these candidates seem to be pretty good. This is
actually a close one. When in doubt, vote along party lines.

Question 1 – Interim Peace and Protective Orders: Against
This just doesn’t sound necessary to me. I’d need to know more and
I just don’t have the time to research it.

Question 2 – Legislation Authority of the General Assembly: Against
You have to be kidding me. This sounds so far reaching and so encompassing
that liberals and dictators everywhere must have rejoiced when it was first
applied to paper.

Question 3 – Certified Real Estate Appraiser: Against
Let’s get this straight: the government wants your property and gets
someone on their payroll to determine its worth. Somehow I think
Dutch Ruppersberger is involved in this one.

Question A – Ammended Ordinances: Against
Here’s a lazy vote. I don’t know why so I’ll just say no.

Question B – Fire Adminstrator: Against
I leave this vote with mixed feelings. It almost got me.

Question C – County Executive Vacancy: Against
I’m running short on juice and so is my ability to reason.

Question D – Arbitration for Law Enforcement Employees: Against
This sounds like a cost cutting measure but it also sounds like
the dirty parts of my employment agreement.

Question E – Arbitration for Uniformed Firefighters: Against
See question D.

Question F – Cooperative Purchases: Against
I’m a reasonable person and I have to vote yes to something. Don’t I?

Question G – Purchasing Contract Limits: Against
Competition slows things down. It also ensures fair prices and
guards against those nasty political favors you hear so much about.

Question H – Uniform Bidding: Against
Here are some words to guard against when taking true/false tests:
always, never, and ONLY. Let’s keep everyone honest. Shall we?

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Partisan Sorrow

Oct 31, 2002


Senator Paul Wellstone was reportedly a well-respected, well-liked representative of the United States. His
which occured when
the plane carrying him and his family plunged into the earth on
an Friday morning, should have caused waves of sorrow to sweep
through his
funeral. Instead, it turned ugly. It turned into a political

I didn’t know the man. Heck, I wasn’t even really aware of him
until this week. From what I gather, he was a democrat and a liberal.
His views fell far left of the fence. Undoubtedly, we would have disagreed
about nearly everything. That doesn’t limit my disgust about the tragic events
of his funeral.

Democrats have accused the republicans of taking advantage of a man’s death.
Some have went so far to ask them to concede the election.
But it seems it the real vultures were the democrats themselves; the pot
called the kettle black.

They cheered when Walter Mondale entered. They booed when Trent Lott
did the same. Can’t we all be civil?
If we are going to request
audience participation, as did Senator Tom
Harkin, can’t we at least stash the casket in the corner?

Mondale, Wellstone’s hand-picked successor to the ballet shuffled
to the podium and declared, “Tonight, our campaign begins.” Did it
have to be tonight? Can we be sad for just a little while? It seems
that Jesse Ventura might
the democrats against the ropes
for their actions. For once, we agree.

Those Democrats sure know how to throw a party. I just thought
they would have the decency to keep the dance floor off the man’s grave.

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The Clouds Have Lifted

Oct 25, 2002

On Tuesday night, amid all of the
sniper anxiety of the last several weeks,
something very interesting crossed the police scanner that rested in
my wife’s hands. A call rang out, “Shots fired.” Gun shots
were reported in the woods of Columbia and the activity on the
scanner quickly reached a crescendo.

The chatter of weapons fire was quickly followed by a report of a white
van along the roadside. Two individuals had reportedly bailed from the vehicle.
Orders were given to block the highways in the area and, if I’m not
mistaken, interstate 95 was one of them. The police response
was swift.

Luckily, this was a false alarm. Unluckily, the police did not have another
chance to catch the sniper. The gun shots from the woods were from
a hunter; a hunter that evidently thought he was above a
by the governor. The van in question had broken down. It’s occupants
had left the vehicle to seek assistance. The situation was quickly
investigated and quickly resolved.

That didn’t mean the whole incident didn’t grab the interest of the wife and
I. Is it him? Are they on the run? Speak up scanner. We need to know.
Could we be listening to the call that finally catches the killer?
Unfortunately, the answer was no. The
events of Wednesday
night followed a similar path. This time, however, we watched
along with the rest of the world as the events unfolded on national

Reports stormed in about a
to Tacoma, Washington. The view from the
helicopter showed the police cleaning up. Evidently, they hadn’t just arrived.
Killings in Montgomery, Alabama were suspected to be related. Finally,
focus of the police shifted from the ever elusive white van to something
completely different and much more specific. Police were seeking
a 1990 Chevrolet Caprice and the men who were driving it. Names
were given. Pictures soon followed. I looked over to the wife and said,
“They’ll have them by noon.”

They did.

A passing motorist noticed that not all of us had slept well the night before.
Two men were rudely awaken at gunpoint. The car was searched. The weapon
found. The evidence is damning. Hand shakes began.
The clouds of the last several weeks that came in the
form a madman that stalked the innocent behind the scope of a rifle have
finally been lifted.

As the
details slowly leak out, I’ll have a little battle with myself.
I’m intensly curious about the details of the investigation. What
were the communications with the police? What did the police know
and when did they know it? However, I’m not so sure the public should be
told. I’d hate to think that someone could learn from this killer’s mistakes.

The terrorists of the world like to believe their acts are of courage and
bravery. I disagree. I can’t imagine anything more cowardly than
hiding behind a gun and firing on women and children. I hope the
careful words of the past are replaced by shouts that
denounce this act for what it was:
a treacherous crime by a gutless chicken shit.

Looking back (if, in fact, I can look back at this point), people
Andrew Sullivan, bring up some interesting
I have one to add. I’ve found it rather sad that some of the horrible events
around the world were all but ignored by the major news networks during
the sniper’s reign of terror.
Tragic events such as the fiery
attack in Bali or the ongoing
crisis in Russia should not have been regulated to a scrolling
update on
CNN. These are major events. I understand that
our crisis at home was important, and, for that matter, weighed
heavily on my own mind, but we found out on September 11th that
terrorism is world news. It does effect us, rather we like it or not.

The end of all this brings a nice, if only temporary, sense of relief.
People no longer need to approach the gas tank of their car like a
deer stealing a drink of water from a nearby stream.
I may take a celebratory walk through the neighborhood just to
mark the occasion. No need to peer into the woods. It’s safe – at least
as far as we know.

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Method to His Madness?

Sep 22, 2002

Bush has a wild hair up his ass. Everywhere you turn you can hear
someone on his staff banging on the drums about a war
with Iraq. It’s inevitable. It’s required.
Bush is a crazy man, or so it may

Howard Finneman, who wrote the article linked above has a
which is interesting if nothing else. He makes the case that
the efforts of the Bush administration to
begin military action in Iraq are not the acts of a desperate
warmonger and not the acts of a country happy to start a war.
All the chain rattling may be part truth and part political ploy.

Mr. Finneman makes a strong, if not interesting case. Junior Bush
has of history of reckless abandon, followed by tough but reasonable
bargaining. It happened in his term as governor and it happened
in Afghanastan. Is it happening again?

Maybe; maybe not.
There’s no denying that the United States is putting Iraq under pressure.
The past several weeks have been filled with growing setiment within the
Bush camp that Iraq is the next destination of our military.
Troops are
moving; here we

Then, Bush surprises the world with an excellent
We don’t want to go it alone. We await the actions of the UN. We want
the support of the world. He paints the UN into a corner: enforce your
rules or get out of the way.

For the first time in a while, the United States acted as a leader, not just a participant, in the United Nations. The idea is a pleasing one, and one that
shouldn’t seem like past history. Forcing the United Nations to your will is
no easy task but Bush layed out the cards: if you don’t lead, we will..

The world reaction was surprising. All of a sudden Saudi Arabia opens
Countries begin lining up in support of a strong
UN resolution backed up by force. Most surprising of all, Iraq submits
to weapon inspections. We must appease this madman before
while he is being reasonable.

How does Bush react? He reacts with more than a little
Let’s see it. We are not backing down from our plan. Hey Congress,
get over

It’s all too soon to see how it will shake out but, for now, the signs are
encouraging. All of a sudden – and maybe just for the moment,
Mr. Hussein
cause and effect. Continue to block weapons inpsectors and your next visitors
will be packing military hardware with a letters “US” on them.
As noted by William Saletan in a recent
article on the

If you think that an American invasion of Iraq is unwise and that the world
would be better off with unfettered U.N. weapons inspections backed by the
serious threat of force, you’re probably right. But if you get what you want,
thank Bush.

You don’t have to say what you mean to get what you want. It’s an interesting
theory and one that seems to be supported more and more by facts.
If nothing else, it shows that, unlike his predecessor, it helps to have advisors
other than those that spend an inordinate amount of time on their knees.

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September 11th, 2001: a day I both want to forget and remember.
A year later, some of us are listless, some of us are full of sorrow,
some of us are angry, and some of us are all of the above.
Browsing the internet turns up its share of
tributes and

careful reminders
, stirring up the raw emotions of that fateful day.

I’ll never forget it; I won’t forget the anguish and fear.
I’ll never forget how far away my wife felt; 40 miles seemed like forever.
I won’t forget our eager embrace later that afternoon.
I’ll never forget that many Americans never had the chance to hold their
loved ones again.

I’ll also never forget the rage I felt. This was an act of war.
Our response needed to be, and certainly was, quick and
efficient. The guilty must be punished. America would not stand silently
by and watch these events unfold on

A year later, what I really want to know is did the terrorists of the world
learn a lesson?
Do they understand that they did not divide but unite us?
Do they understand that we are the sleeping giant, ready and
willing to use our might? America is not to trifled with.

I can’t pretend to understand the thought process of a terrorist.
I can’t pretend to understand how anyone could use one innocent
life to harm another or take their own life in the process.
It is totally and utterly beyond me. But I hope
they can understand a simple lesson.
Any attack against our nation requires a swift and violent response.
You cannot get the best of us.
Did we make our point? Was Iraq taking notes?

Despite the fact that he’d probably tell you different, I bet Osama Bin Laden is
not nearly as comfortable within the hole he cowers as he was
roaming around Afghanistan, spewing his lies to eager ears.
His network of bastards are injured and on the run. His base of power
is destroyed. But can evil learn; can evil regret?

I originally wrote this to record my feelings on this day – one year removed.
You know what? I’m still angry; angry as hell.

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I hate to say it – and I hate to admit it – but president Bush is very
likely a one-term president.

I predicted it long ago during the race of 2000. The economy was just ripe for downturn. The nineties had been quite prosperous. Any signs of recession had been evaporated by the rush to take advantage of the next big thing: the internet. You can delay a recession for a while but you just can’t fight it. We were due and any president, be it Bush or Gore, would have to try. The battle is often lost at the polls in an election year. Just ask father Bush.

I don’t think I can blame Bush any more for the recent economic plunge
than I can credit Clinton for our economic prosperity of the 90s – despite
Al Gore’s claims that he, in fact, invented the internet. Its simple
macroeconomics. Economic growth and contraction follow each other
in a fairly repeatable pattern. Both Gore and Bush had to see the troubles

George W. Bush’s staying power at the polls, largely generated from his
leadership after the terrorist attacks last year, is now
and the economy is to blame. Big surprise. We unite behind our president
during times of war, as we should. However, in times of relative peace,
we become a bit more introspective and look at the problems at home.

I also hate to say that Bush can increase his chances of reelection by starting a
war with Iraq. I hate to mention it because I feel that a war with Iraq is
basically inevitable. We can do it now or we can wait for Iraq to manufacture the
weapons needed to really give us nightmares. This problem should have been solved years ago. It shouldn’t be considered a political move, despite its obvious benefits at the polls.

However, I could be overreacting. His
numbers are still quite good and a whole lot can happen in two years,
including a nice economic recovery now that the internet bubble has finally
burst. In any case, I won’t be voting for Gore in 2004. I can guarantee you

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