28 February 2008

Col. Morris Davis and Guantanamo: An Unlikely Legal Rights Advocate?

Former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo and Bush administration military commision stalwart, Col. Morris D. Davis, will testify on behalf of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver.

According to The New York Times, Davis said

. . . there “is a potential for rigged outcomes” and that [Davis] had “significant doubts about whether it will deliver full, fair and open hearings.”

Should be interesting. The whole article is worth a read for background into the remarkable about face, and the conviction with which Davis appears poised to proceed.

27 February 2008

More on Mexico City Blast

To get back to the bombing in Mexico City two weeks ago. Immediate speculation pointed fingers at the usual suspects: maybe it was the drug cartels, or maybe it was the EPR, the guerrilla group whose name always comes up in the initial search for clues regarding potentially political violence in Mexico.

Turns out it wasn't either of these, but a homegrown assassination attempt against a local police agent. The Mex Files has the info, with a touch of appreciation for the inherent, low brow comedic nature of the crime.

24 February 2008

Nader Buzz

What's the word on the (cyber) street about Nader's announcement today that he'll run for president again?

This headline from TPM sums it up: Bush's Chief Enabler Signs On.

__________

UPDATE: Steve Benen has a slightly more developed analysis:


The unpleasantness of 2000 notwithstanding, Nader appears anxious to run yet again — but as I’ve mentioned before, it’s just not quite clear why.

By his own admission, Nader doesn’t expect to win, he doesn’t expect to change the Democratic Party’s agenda, he doesn’t expect to appear in the debates, and he doesn’t even expect to make the ballot in every state. So, what exactly is the point here?

Asked about this a few months ago, Nader said, “What third parties can do is bring young people in, set standards on how to run a presidential election and keep the progressive agenda in front of the people. And maybe tweak a candidate here and there in the major parties.”

Is it me, or is this wildly unpersuasive? Major parties can and do bring young people into the process; in fact, Barack Obama seems to be pretty good at it. For that matter, Nader’s multiple efforts have never affected election standards, and his campaigns have generally done a poor job of promoting progressive ideas, instead focusing on his personal disdain for the two major parties.


19 February 2008

Plavwriter Lite

Blogging is light to non-existent as I complete my last grad school app (go BU!) and struggle with server connection issues. Hope to be back at it shortly.

18 February 2008

Lay v. Lie

For anyone still struggling, like me, with "lay" versus "lie" (I'll be teaching this tomorrow in a 7 a.m. class, and it could get ugly), Grammar Girl gets down to the nasty on this one and reveals something I didn't know: that lay is the past tense of lie, but lay is also the appropriate, present tense verb when a direct object is involved. I'll let her explain.

Thanks to Jenna for passing along the site.

15 February 2008

Explosions Rock Mexico City

A pair of explosions in Mexico City this afternoon, which AP suggests are drug related.

"There were two explosions. It was a device that set off two explosions," Police chief Joel Ortega told Mexican radio.

Images broadcast on live television showed damaged cars and dozens of riot-gear-laden police officers crowding into the area, as a woman who appeared to be slightly injured was helped into a sitting position on the sidewalk.

President Felipe Calderon has deployed the army in a year-old battle with Mexico's powerful drug cartels. Police have made several busts in the capital and arrested suspected drug gang members found with large arsenals of weapons.

Emphasis mine. The article goes on to state:

It's not the first time the area has been hit with blasts. Mexico was hit last year by a series of nonfatal bomb attacks by a left-wing guerrilla group on oil installations.

To which I have to observe that there's a pretty big difference, as I see it, between guerrilla groups sabotaging oil delivery pipelines--without casualties--and drug cartels terrorizing popular tourism centers in a tit-for-tat with the federal government that resulted in 1 death and at least 1 serious injury.

Justice in Mexico: Feeling the Heat

While we are reminded almost daily that Mexico is a tough country for journalists (see here and here), Anna Maria Salazar points out today that reporters aren't the only ones having trouble practicing their profession without fear of reprisal.

From Mexico Today:

Retired Supreme Court Justice, Juan Díaz Romero, said violence against judges and justices has reached unimaginable levels in Mexico.

Salazar's bulletin posts the sentence without comment and moves on, but I assume that, as with the journalists*, this is the heavy hand of narcotrafficking tipping the scales of justice. Indeed, Jeremy Schwarz reported on the topic just two weeks ago.

*Unfortunately for journalists, they also have the government attempting to intimidate and coerce, not just the drug cartels. Double whammy for truth, justice, and freedom of speech in Mexico.


Human Rights Watch: No Confidence in Mexico Human Rights Commission

From Mexico Reporter:

Human Rights Watch released a damning report today, calling Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission ‘ineffective’ and ‘disappointing’.

‘When it comes to actually securing remedies and promoting reforms to improve Mexico’s dismal human rights record, the CNDH’s performance has been disappointing,’ reads the report, which also points out that the Commission’s failures hasn’t been due to a lack of funding.


Emphasis mine. Read the whole thing here.

FEMA's Greatest Hits

From the AP: FEMA rushes to find temporary housing for 35,000(!) Gulf Coast residents afflicted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Wait. Didn't FEMA already rush to find temporary housing? Like two-and-a-half years ago, after the hurricanes hit?

It seems once wasn't enough. Now the problem involves toxic levels of formaldehyde in trailers that were provided to displaced hurricane survivors.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency came under new withering criticism Thursday after tests found dangerous levels of formaldehyde fumes in many of the trailers the agency used to house hurricane victims in Louisiana and Mississippi.

[snip]

FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison said Thursday the agency would rush to find temporary housing for roughly 35,000 families now in its trailers. "We're moving as fast as we can," he said.


It turns out FEMA has known about the high formaldehyde levels since at least the summer of 2006, when the Sierra Club conducted independent tests on 44 units and found formaldehyde rates "nearly equal to what a professional embalmer would be exposed to on the job."

The CDC and the EPA got involved, but, according to the FEMA website, findings of an initial round of air tests suggested that "ventilating the units is effective in reducing levels of formaldehyde." It wasn't until the following year, July, 2007, that FEMA announced a longer range study, to be conducted by the CDC. That study began in December, 2007, and the results were delivered yesterday.

14 February 2008

Conscripting Spies?

Did the U.S. State Department ask a Fulbright scholar and a group of Peace Corps volunteers to spy on Cubans and Venezuelans in Bolivia?

Via LANR, ABC News ran the story last Friday.

My first response was "Are you kidding?! Is this for real?!" Then, when I slow down to think about it, and read the article all the way through, I can see it happening all too regularly. I mean, the Bush administration has pretty effectively turned every conceivable government office, wittingly or no, into a cog in the surveillance machine in the so-called War on Terror. Why not the Peace Corps, too? There's probably a memo, if anybody digs a little, instructing State Dept. officials to include this in their regular briefings.

Drug Wars

I'm looking around for more info on Felipe Calderon's recent about face in the war on narcotics trafficking. Not finding a whole lot, actually, but I did see this picture over at The Mex Files. Something's working, or at least that's what the feds want us to think.

In the meantime, I'm stumped. I'm having a tough time getting current--as in this month, or even this year, for crying out loud--results when I google "felipe calderon, narcotrafficking"; "felipe calderon, war on drugs"; and "mexico, narcotrafficking". I did see plavwriter at least once in those search results, though. That was encouraging, though the whole point was to find the people who know more on this than me.

More soon, I hope.

N. Illinois Campus Shooting

Whoa. This from Yahoo News: 17 injured, at least one dead at Northern Illinois University.

Another Crush on Obama

Steve Benen has a great post on why Mark McKinnon, top advisor to John McCain's presidential campaign, might not make it through the campaign season. McKinnon has made news recently for saying that he couldn't run a campaign against Barack Obama because he couldn't run a negative campaign against the guy.

McCain's top campaign advisor? Obviously, as Benen points out, the odds of a McCain/Obama match-up seemed pretty long just a few months ago. But still, no scrambling to rewrite the original context? No denying the statement?

Apparently not. According to ABC News, McKinnon is sticking to his guns.

Truly, this election cycle gets weirder and weirder.

13 February 2008

The More Things Change . . .

Via Kevin Drum, Josh Green at the Atlantic Monthly writes about the Clinton campaign muck-up going on right now, and looks into some of the reasons why. What follows is a detailed look into the management style and campaign philosophy of Clinton's recently ousted campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle.

Green's article offers great background on the Clinton camp, reviewing Solis Doyle's role in Clinton's 2006 Senate reelection campaign, and looking beyond that even to 1991, when Solis Doyle first hired on with the Clintons. Kevin Drum's post concerns itself, briefly, with the damning seriousness of Green's article, and implications for the Clinton campaign.

Here's what caught my eye, though:


. . . Clinton chose [Solis Doyle] to manage the presidential campaign for reasons that should now be obvious: above all, Clinton prizes loyalty and discipline, and Solis Doyle demonstrated both traits, if little else.

Emphasis mine. In a campaign that has become very focused on change, or at least the perception of change, this sounds an awful lot like the current status quo in the Oval Office, no?

12 February 2008

What Earthquake?

Earthquake? I didn't notice an earthquake . . .

Seriously, though. I was walking rapidly when it hit, so maybe I was bouncing too much to feel it. I did see all the telephone poles swaying, and the steel, shop-front doors started loudly drumming up and down the street. I thought a really big wind was coming up. Weird, I thought. Windy. Even though I didn't feel any big wind. But I didn't realize the earth was trembling beneath my feet.

So is that a sign of too much coffee, or not enough?

Against the Ropes?

"For Clinton, Bid Hinges on Texas and Ohio." Not a headline I expected to read. Is this true? Is this the media framing the race in terms that are media friendly? Does Hillary Clinton slip far enough behind in the delegate count if she doesn't show up well today that her bid truly hinges on two states?

“She has to win both Ohio and Texas comfortably, or she’s out,” said one superdelegate who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to share a candid assessment. “The campaign is starting to come to terms with that.” Campaign advisers, also speaking privately in order to speak plainly, confirmed this view.

Wow. Could be interesting to see what the day brings. My favorite part, though? Speaking privately in order to speak plainly. A certain poetry, that.

11 February 2008

Reevaluating Success: A Zionist Reality Check

Daniel Gavron takes to the NYT opinion page to encourage fellow Zionists to wake up and smell the success:

If in the 1880s (the start of Zionist settlement in what is now Israel) or in 1948 (the War of Independence) or even in 1967 (the Six-Day War) somebody had said that one day virtually the entire world, including all the Arab nations, would accept the existence of the State of Israel in 78 percent of the land of Israel, he would have been regarded as either idiotically optimistic or clinically insane. That, however, is where we are today. We have won, but we are refusing to accept the result.

I think Gavron makes an effective case, though I disagree with his next statement, which will no doubt draw fire:
Wake up, fellow Israelis, it’s over, we’ve won! What is more we’ve won a lot: more than 8,000 square miles out of the 10,400 square miles of the British Mandate for Palestine. And most Palestinians have accepted this territorially lopsided resolution of the 100-year-old dispute.

Emphasis mine. That last seems a little over the top, if only because the word "accepted" is sure to provoke reactionary fervor, and understandably so. It's hard to see "acceptance" where isolation, embargo, and blunt force are the primary means of implementing geopolitical policy.

Gavron's whole piece is worth a read. He reminds Zionists and Israelis that building walls will never lead to peace, and that walls never work anyway.
What matters is that we are acting from a position of strength, and we ought to be investing our energy and creativity in working out a long-term solution with the Palestinians that will be acceptable to both of us.

What we should not be doing is what we are doing now: besieging and blacking out Gaza, killing and arresting dozens of Palestinians in the occupied territories every month, and constructing walls and fences between us and our neighbors.


[snip]

To cower behind a wall is to demonstrate again our loser mentality at a time when we have, in fact, won.

Emphasis mine. The regular use of the word "won" rubs me the wrong way, in light of the ongoing human suffering among Palestinians, but I get it that this is, after all, a Zionist prerogative. In the end I like the sensibilities here, and wish more of this kind of thinking would go into the political rhetoric coming out of the Zionist camp.

Virtual Ascendance, Part 2

I've noticed a spike in my visitors today, so naturally I nosed around the Site Meter stats to figure out why. Turns out I hit the jackpot with my post "Upcoming Democratic Primaries." Turns out that's a pretty popular phrase. Google has plavwriter at the #3 spot, if you can believe it, just ahead of The Politico and Wikipedia.

Not bad for a poet masquerading as political analyst. Thanks, everybody, and keep up the good work.

10 February 2008

The Road to Cordoba

UPDATE: Stu will discuss his story and field questions online. Monday, 11 February, 12:00 pm. washingtonpost.com/liveonline.

__________

Stu Dybek has written the most beautiful thing I've read yet in 2008: The Road to Cordoba.

The editors of The Washington Post Magazine 2008 Valentine's Fiction Issue sent pictures to the featured authors and asked each to write a story from the picture. I teared up as I finished reading this one.

Thanks to John S. for sending me the link. Enjoy.

Funny Business?

Josh Marshall asks the question: Why did the Washington State GOP announce a winner in yesterday's caucus with a very slim margin and only 87% of returns counted?

Golden Nugget

Researching my last post, I found this nugget from 2004, which is simply too dear to not pass along:

"At 67, John McCain almost certainly will never be president."

Ah, the inexplicable nature of politics. How I do love thee.

Guesses and Predictions on the Straight Talk Express

A couple days ago I posted that I don't believe conservatives will stay home this November rather than vote for John McCain. My thinking is that in the end, the worst Republican candidate is still a better choice for president, to the minds of conservative voters, than the best (read "least offensive") Democratic candidate.

Kevin Drum disagrees. Of last night's caucus results Kevin remarks:

Bottom line: this has been a disastrous night for McCain. Sure, he'll win the nomination eventually, but he looks like a goner in the general election. He's either going to be forced to spend so much time pandering to pissed-off conservatives that he loses the independent vote, or else he's going to beg for independents and wake up on November 5th to find out that half his base decided to stay home rather than vote for him.

Not sure what I think about that, but it's well put and Kevin makes the strong point that, one way or another, McCain is going to lose one group of voters to appeal to another. I have to assume that knowing who he will run against will answer the question of which group will be the disenchanted ones.

Warning: Guesswork and extreme oversimplification ahead. Okay. You've been warned.

If he's trying to beat Obama, then I figure McCain doesn't sweat the independent vote. Not sure why, I just have it in mind that independents and undecideds, and maybe a handful of disgruntled Republicans, too, break for the Democrat in that race. (Deep down we are still an idealistic and optimistic nation. Hope, peace, and prosperity have not gone out of fashion.) In which case McCain woos the conservatives, makes all manner of obscene promises, and descends to the grossest levels of pandering, hoping for a wave of political support (big money) from his party to carry him home to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Plus he prays for a stream of really good press. And it will have to be extremely good press, for the simple reason that every time the papers run Obama's good natured smile--or his pensive "foreign policy face"--next to McCain's temperamental and strangely asymmetrical mug, Americans, being the creatures we are, will find ourselves drawn to the more handsome of the two.

Against Hillary Clinton I foresee a different strategy. McCain doesn't sweat the conservative vote, counting on "Billary" to motivate (should I say "provoke"?) the base for him. Instead he relentlessly tries to make the case to independents, undecideds, and anti-Clinton Democrats that he is the moderate stalwart this country needs right now to restore credibility both at home and abroad. And, since the economy will likely still be in a tailspin as he pushes his campaign toward the finish line--and, incidentally, the holiday season--he'll remind taxpayers they'll be forfeiting significantly more money in taxes each year under a President Clinton than a President McCain.*

The tricky part, regardless of who comes away with the Democratic nomination, is that McCain has to run both these campaign strategies simultaneously until the Democratic nominee becomes clear. In this I agree with Kevin completely:
This is a mighty narrow tightrope he's walking, and it looks like he's going to be fighting gale-force crosswinds the whole way.

The way things are going now, it looks to be a very long summer of mixed messages and minced words on the Straight Talk Express.

*I'd love to offer some insight on how McCain situates the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the ongoing War on Terror (which phrase has been dialed down of late in the national colloquy), in his campaign, but this is far too slippery for this amateur political observer.

08 February 2008

New From Mexico Reporter

Mexico Reporter has two new troubling posts. The first, published today, reports on journalist Lydia Cacho and the Mexican Supreme Court. Cacho (background here and here) apparently made waves last night by announcing in Mexico City that all six Supreme Court judges presiding over her case against Puebla Governor Mario Marin had been bribed.

Next up on Mexico Reporter, a spate of violence against journalists the past week continues to make Mexico one of the most dangerous countries for journalists behind Iraq.

I'd say happy reading, but nothing very uplifting about any of that. It's worth checking out all the same.

Upcoming Democratic Primaries

Here's a pretty good run down of what to expect in the upcoming Democratic primaries. Clear, concise, and absolutely honest about the unreliability of prediction making this election cycle.

The (Perceived) Problem With McCain

As you can see from my blogroll, I often like to read outside the lines to see what I'm missing when I don't watch Fox News.

Today's hit comes from Mona Charen, at Townhall.com, on why real conservatives can't vote for McCain.

In addition to saying that he has strayed from conservativism, Charen reminds us that McCain denounced waterboarding as torture (!). She goes on to impugn McCain for too frequently reminding the American public that he was tortured in a Vietnamese POW camp, thus rendering political debate neutral by trumping with patriotism. (Not sure I agree with this last, by the way, but she's entitled to call it as she sees it. Certainly, the guy sells what he's got, but do smooth political operators back down at the mention of his service history?)

Here, though, is the kicker for Charen:

There is a strutting self-righteousness about McCain that goes hand in hand with a nitroglycerin temper. He flatters himself that his colleagues in the Senate dislike him because he stands up for principle whereas they sell their souls for pork. Not exactly. He is disliked because on many, many occasions, he has been disrespectful, belligerent and vulgar to those who differ with him.
Hmm. Okay. He's unliked because he's not nice?

The bottom line, I guess, is that I really struggle when I hear suggestions that real conservatives won't vote for McCain. I don't believe for a second that conservatives are going to stay home this year, no matter what kind of bad impression the candidate makes. Real conservatives won't vote for Obama, I don't imagine--though things are kooky this year, so who knows?--nor will they be keen to elect him by abstention. And c'mon. If Clinton is the nominee? Real conservatives who haven't driven in 15 years will fire up the Dynasty and drive their friends to the polls on election day to get the vote out against Clinton, no matter what they feel about John McCain.

So what's with all the bluster? Do the red-blooded American conservatives just have to have their moment to whine before they follow the herd? Probably. Meanwhile, will McCain smooch to the base when he's got such a commanding, if unexpected, presence in the contest? That will be the question to watch.

07 February 2008

Changing Course on Narcotrafficking

I missed this note yesterday over at Mexico Today:

And in an a major announcement, President Felipe Calderón said he is backtracking in his use of the armed forces in the fight against narcotics trafficking.

The president announced a change of strategy and that army troops would gradually be pulled out of the battle against drug trafficking as bad officers are cleared out of police corporations.
Wow. That is, to my reckoning, a 180 degree turnabout in the war on narcotrafficking. Why?

More thoughts on this later.

06 February 2008

USA v. Mexico: Underway

UPDATE V (and final): Tie game. The US extends their 9 game unbeaten streak against the southern neighbor, on American soil, and Mexico doesn't lose. Sounds like Tuesday night in America.

And with that very minimal analysis, I bid you a good night.

UPDATE IV: Approaching the 90 minute mark. Still 2-2. Both teams look . . . sharp, actually. Lots of complaining on the field, but that's alright. Not that I actually care. This is just what happens when I've got too much time on my hands. I blog badly about something you can all read about on the online sports pages, if not watch on tv.

UPDATE III: 4:something (after halftime): 2-2.

UPDATE II: 39:00 2-1, USA.

UPDATE: At 35:30, 1-1.

__________

The game has started. While many friends and coworkers simply said "What?" (or "Que?") when I asked if they would watch the Superbowl last weekend, they all knew about the soccer match.

13:30 played, 0-0.

Facebook & Readership

So far as I'm concerned, Facebook has been really wonderful for Scrabulous and sending virtual flowers. Now Steve Clemons tells me I can use it to promote my blog or advance my presidential campaign. (I have a link up--for my blog, not my campaign--but nothing more.)

You can bet I'll be looking into this. It's long been a goal of mine to double the plavwriter readership from 9 to 18. Next, the world.

Bilingual in America?

The Golden Age of Enlightenment in America:

While the rest of her fifth-grade class was taking Spanish classes mandated by the Grapevine-Colleyville school district curriculum, Ashleigh Allison sat in the Timberline Elementary School library writing a report about France.

Ashleigh and her mother, Leigh Allison, say teaching elementary school Spanish only makes life easier for Hispanic immigrants in the community who do not learn or speak English. And Ashleigh shouldn’t be forced to conform, they say.

“She wants to be that one voice that forces them to learn English,” Allison said. “We’re not going to turn America into a bilingual country to accommodate you.”

Ah, the good days in America. Perhaps this is unfair, but it seems likely to me that these are some of the same people who were ordering Freedom Fries as recently as a couple of years ago and boycotting "France" at Epcot Center. What a thing.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. Now I've got to go back to making my conjunctions in the Spanish subjunctive, if you'll excuse me.

Virtual Ascendance

Hey guess what? Plavwriter comes up as the #3 result when you google the words "frida kahlo moustache".*

Pretty cool, huh?

*Original search was performed as "freda kahlo moustache". Note the misspelling. Turns out we're #3 either way. Thanks to a UK reader for helping me learn about the site's ascension to page 1 of the Google search results.

Making Statements, and Having Statements Made For You

From the AP (via Yahoo):

Sen. Barack Obama predicted Wednesday that Republicans will have a dump truck full of dirt to unload on Hillary Rodham Clinton if the former first lady wins the Democratic presidential nomination, and said he offers the party its best hope of winning the White House this fall.

Now, when I read that, the way it's phrased made me wonder if what Obama didn't say is that the GOP won't have a truckful of dirt on him. Pretty bold, if that's the way things went down.

As it turns out, that's not the way things went down. Read to the bottom and you get Obama's actual words:

And you know I think what is absolutely true is whoever the Democratic nominee is the Republicans will go after them. The notion that somehow Senator Clinton is going to be immune from attack or there's not a whole dump truck they can't back up in a match between her and John McCain is just not true.

That's a whole lot different than the opening paragraph of the article. The trick is that Obama didn't specifically say, in some knowing way, that the GOP will have dirt on Clinton (which doubtless they will). What he said is that the GOP attack machine will go after whoever the Dem candidate is, and that any "notion" that Clinton will be "immune" from this is hogwash. Which of course it is. If anything, Clinton stands to get the worst of it, because she's got a longer political career behind her and the Clinton name alone generates hatred among the so-called Fever Swamp like nobody's business.

I'm not too interested in parsing why the reporter framed the article the way she did. There are too many unknowns to come to any substantive conclusion (though that sort of argument rarely stops me). I am actually much more interested in something else Obama said this morning, which also made it into the article:

"I have no doubt that I can get the people who vote for Senator Clinton. ... It's not clear that Senator Clinton can get all the people I'm getting," he said.

Whoa. I haven't found a transcript of his full remarks, but if this is really how this one went then look out. That's a huge claim, straight up and quite direct. And I'd love to see some numbers to go with it.

What seems plenty likely, to my ear right now, is that there may have been some discussion about the general election that we just aren't privy to in this snippet. In that context, I think Obama's right. Come November, if he's the one, then I suspect he will get almost all those would-be Clinton votes. Does it work the other way, then? Would Clinton be able to get as many of the same folks out to the polls as Obama appears poised to motivate? That seems like a pretty valid question to ask as the country took another step closer last night to the possibility of a brokered convention.

What Comes After Super Tuesday? Wednesday Morning Speculation, Of Course

Everybody agrees: Super Tuesday was a draw for the Democrats. The Washington Post declares "Clinton, Obama Split Super Tuesday Contests." The New York Times: "Clinton and Obama Trade Victories." Los Angeles Times: "With No Losers, the Fight Goes On." The Wall Street Journal: "Obama, Clinton, Split Dems' Super Tuesday." Accordingly, Obama didn't "grab" any major upsets, though I think Connecticut counts as a significant one, and Clinton didn't "blow" any of her expected gimmes. All of which means what, exactly?

As The Carpetbagger Report's Steve Benen wrote yesterday:

I suspect tonight will be similar. Clinton, I cautiously assume, will win most of the Democratic contests. But how the results are perceived will make all the difference — if the headline reads, “Clinton cruises to victory in most Super Tuesday states,” she’ll have momentum going into the next round of contests and solidify her position as the frontrunner. If it reads, “Clinton, Obama split delegates on Super Tuesday,” it’ll be a wash.

[snip]

I suspect Obama may very well lose [NY, NJ, CA, CT, MA,] but if it’s perceived as one rough day — a rough day in which Obama still wins a lot of delegates from each of the states — it’s easier to bounce back.


I think Benen makes a lot of sense, and he cites Adam Nagourney and Markos Moulitsas on his way to reaching the conclusion that Obama "has to lose just well enough." That is, hang in, keep it close, and continue to position himself as the next great hope. Obama, of course, is running on the platform of change. To this end I believe his campaign wants to continue to generate momentum, chip away at Clinton's top dog status, continue to inspire and exhilarate supporters, thus attracting new ones, and continue to generate preposterous sums of cash. (It's no doubt more complicated than all that, but the point is that a close night for Obama is actually a victory; he was never supposed to come this far against the first family of Democratic politics.)

Now Obama must simply keep doing what he's been doing--it seems to have worked so far--and reap the next handful of primaries where he's positioned to do well. The perceived draw last night, and a number of "Victory" headlines for the Obama camp, even little ones like South Dakota that may trickle in through May and June (eons from now, on the political futures markets), could just put him into the #1 slot as the hype mounts in Denver in anticipation of the August convention.

I'll just repeat that little note, that Obama took Connecticut, albeit the least consequential, in terms of delegates, of the 5 presumed wins Clinton was seeking. Obama's performance also made for dramatic news in Missouri when the AP called the state for Clinton and then reversed the announcement in Obama's favor. That had to feel good.

Contrary to Steve's "rough day" comment, I don't think it looks that way at all for Obama. The Obama camp would have loved a big coup in a state like New Jersey or California, but I think he'll take what he's got and keep working. Clinton, at the same time, is likely chagrined about the 26 delegates she didn't get from Connecticut, as well as the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't turn of events in Missouri. Remember, she's still fighting to keep everything she's got. Obama, for whom nothing is assumed, is fighting for everything he's going to get. Just from the outset, that plays in nicely to him looking hopeful and her looking embattled.

05 February 2008

Traveler Beware

Via Kevin Drum: United to charge $50 for your second bag.

Ouch.

From the People Who Know More Than Me

To understand current events in Oaxaca, and their implications, I rely heavily on those with more experience here, more understanding for the complexities of the politics, both at the state and federal levels, and a (much) better grasp of the Spanish language. To this end, as you have seen on this blog, I give a lot of attention to the Oaxaca Study Forum and to the Oaxaca Study Action Group. Still, sometimes, the information doesn't all come clear at once.

Today the OSAG provides some clarity on what has turned into a tricky point. Was Alejandro Barrita Ortiz, the police official killed in Oaxaca last Wednesday, an officer of the civil service or not? (Click here for more background.)

Bob Stout posts an answer:

The bank police are trained police, part of the law enforcement system. Individual businesses pay the government, state or municipal, for their services. In Oaxaca they participated in the June bust up of the Section 22 sit in, various actions in October and November, and the November 25th assault.

Richard Grabman wrote:
Thanks, Nancy [Davies]. Your first post suggested you were talking about "seguridad privada" -- "rent a cops" -- or, in this case, hired guns. Policia industrial -- or the equalivalent (my familiarity is with DF, not Oaxaca) are civil servants, even if their posts and duties are for the benefit of private concerns.


Emphasis mine. Nancy Davies's original comments are here. She did recognize Stout in a recent correspondence on the group site for setting the record straight. I hope that helps clarify the point.

"Sex workers get ‘more business’ at GOP conventions."

Apparently, if you've to to work the crowd, as they say, better to do so on the GOP side than for the Dems. From Think Progress.

04 February 2008

Another for Obama

"The master of artfulness confronts the mistress of embattlement." Todd Gitlin on why, tomorrow, he'll vote with the Obama crowd.

"Secret, Okay?"

Lalo's got a secret, and because he shared it with me, I've got a secret too. I don't like this secret, but Lalo's an adult, 21, so I'll honor his request and not mention anything to his family. If they ask me outright that might be another story. I think of myself as an honest person. I don't like to lie. I once said I'd been to Turkey, when in truth I hadn't. That was years ago, and I still don’t know why I said it. Afterwards I had to tell a few more lies, to cover myself, about which Turkish cities I’d been to, and it all felt pretty hairy. So if the family asks me I'll likely just tell them, but they won't ask, unless Lalo gives them a reason.

Lalo and I have worked together two months now. Hard to believe, it goes by so quick. In many respects we're still just figuring each other out. He sees me as a young guy, doesn't realize the ten years between us means I don't like to drink at La Divina, which I call a bar for ninos. He doesn't like that so much, but he laughs. No, he tells me, it's for punks. Kids who like to mosh. Lalo's not a punk rocker, by any stretch, but he is a punk kid, loudly talking trash to his friends, cooing at the ladies in the market, on the street. He especially likes to check out the tourist girls in tank tops. He's not too sly about it, but Mexican men aren't, as a rule. They don't even bother. That would defeat the purpose.

The worst is when he points and says "These . . . they . . . these . . . are . . . good! No?" We're working on pronouns, he still has trouble deciding on the right one. "Como se dice ellas son bonitas?" he asks me. "They are pretty," I say. "And don't point. I don't think women like that. No senales con tu dedo. Creo que mujeres no les gusta." I've broken my own rule, no Spanish during English lessons, but it's for a good cause. If I only taught English during our hour together, but let him be a slimeball, I wouldn't feel very good about the thought of him on the street applying what he'd learned.

It's imperialistic, I suppose. Who's to say there's inherently a problem with macho? I hear the litany of reasons my wife, who works for women's health and reproductive rights, will give me when she reads this. But still, me imposing my cultural imperatives on the kid seems, intellectually, a little pompous. Nevertheless I express my view, consider it a cultural lesson to help him interact with the people, specifically the females, with whom he hopes to one day speak English. Oaxaca is full of creeps who approach the solo, female travelers, looking to "practice English." Lalo's a punk kid, but I like him and I can't stand the thought of him pulling that act on some tired traveler who just wants to sit in the late afternoon and watch the light change color on Santo Domingo. It's a beautiful experience, which everyone should have sin chorizo. Without sausage, if you'll pardon the crudity.

"I . . . to . . . United States . . . do you go? . . . en . . . en . . . en la proxima semana." I'm getting better at interpreting broken English, but this one misses me completely. "Will I go to the United States next month?" Lalo shakes his head yes in the dopey way he has, eyelids half closed, when he hears my tone but not my words. I search his face for a minute, then decide to let it ride and see where we go. Sometimes, I've learned, a misunderstanding makes a worthwhile exercise in the importance of listening carefully.

“No,” I say. “I won’t go to the United States next month.”

“No!” he insists. “I . . . to . . . these . . . United States.”

We’re walking on the Alcala, and I stop to squint at him in the morning light. “You want to go to the United States?”

“No. I . . . am go . . . in United States. Ohio. Voy a trabajar en Ohio.”

I am at a loss. Lalo’s never been anywhere. A Christian camp in Puebla, a trip to Chihuahua. That’s about it. Ohio? Seriously? “Lalo,” I start. “How will you get there?” I want more information, because there’s a likelihood, with this one, that he doesn’t have a clue what he’s said.

“In . . . trailer. Four days. And . . . and . . . Ohio!” He punctuates emphatically. “Is, como se dice, primavera, Ohio?”

“Spring?!” I can’t help spitting this back at him. “Next month?” He shakes his head yes, amiably. “No, Lalo. It’s not spring in Ohio next month. It will be very, very cold.” He has no idea what I’ve said, so I mime cold.

Frio? Verdad?” It’s like he can’t believe it. He’s sure, he’s been assured, it’s like spring in Ohio in February.

Lalo’s going up to work illegally with a crew of friends, one of whom has been before. He doesn’t know how much the pollero, or coyote, will charge to smuggle him up. He thinks maybe 25,000 pesos, or 2,500 dollars, roughly. This number is unbelievable to me. I ask for clarification. 25,000. He’s pretty sure that’s right. It's a sentence of indentured servitude, though there still could be mistakes with the numbers, an extra zero. Even so, I don’t figure Lalo has 250 dollars to spare. No, he confirms, he doesn’t have any money at all. That’s why he wants to go. And for the adventure.

We’ve walked up the Alcala and cut through Conzatti to Parque Llano, where I realize it’s a beautiful morning, one of the most beautiful I can remember. The sky is blue, the temperature is just right, traffic is sedate. It's a perfect day. Birds chirped in the trees overhead. Mountains stood quietly nearby, sheltering the city. Why would you leave this?, I want to ask him. Then I remember walking past two hundred or more police officers clad in riot gear just the other night, guarding the university on law school election night. The candidates for president of the law school are all so corrupt they hired student protesters, and youth off the street, and promised law degrees to everyone should their campaign win. They are all so corrupt they hired armed goon squads to intimidate people away from voting for the other guy. And these are just piddling, small time, law school elections.

I remember reading somewhere that Oaxaca, the third poorest state behind Chiapas and Guerrero, boasts one of the most expensive capital cities to live in in Mexico. Oaxaca is full of stunning contradictions. Indigenas from mountain villages come to town in rags and tattered sandals to sell flowers to tourists, to rich Oaxacans who drive Hummers and BMWs. Bus prices have gone up to 4.5 pesos per trip. The minimum wage in the state is 50 pesos a day. A little less than 5 dollars. If a minimum wage worker takes the bus both ways to work, he or she has spent a fifth of the day's earnings on transportation alone. If he or she brings a child over three with them to work, then the child must have a fare, too.

“Secret,” Lalo says, as we sit on a bench in the shade in the Llano. “Secret, okay? My family . . . they . . . angry.”

I look at him again. What can I say? “Okay, Lalo. Okay.”

“Secret?”

“Yeah, secret.” I ask questions about the trip, about the work. He doesn’t know anything about anything. More, he’s not interested in details. He's only excited for the best prospect he believes he’ll have in his lifetime. He has no idea what lies ahead. He asks me about the life in the U.S., what the people are like, how much a sandwich costs. I tell him that the people are good, generally, though they suffer a lot of racism. I think about what I said, and, unfortunately, I think it’s true.

Racismo? Si?

“Yeah. Racism. And food is expensive. Sometimes a sandwich costs three or four dollars, and sometimes it costs 15 dollars. Depends.”

“Oh.” He asks me, in Spanish, how much it costs to rent a house. I try and explain that houses are very expensive to rent, that you have to pay first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit all up front. This is lost on him. Frankly, from where I sit in the moment, it’s lost on me too. I try to picture where this kid will end up, what kind of room he’ll share with how many others, because he appears poised to arrive literally without a dollar. The conversation depresses me, so I switch gears.

I ask if he’s got warm clothing, and pantomime a large jacket, heavy for winter. The kid has no idea. He’s never seen snow in his life. I tell him to take all his clothing, knowing full well it’s a waste of breath. Anything extra will simply end up as litter on the desert during the long walk through Arizona. If he gets to the border without incident, and if he gets across without incident, and if the border patrol and the local “neighborhood watch” don't find him first, and if the truck on the other side makes connection without incident, then the best case scenario is that he gets into his trailer with little more than a ripping headache for the dehydration. Then the long drive north begins.

Our hour is up. We walk back to the market, he trying to make more and more complex questions from the same dozen or twenty English words, me half-answering, half-thinking how to expedite a couple of lessons in survival English. Lalo’s excited. I’m bummed. He tells me again it’s a secret. He leaves in two weeks, sooner if he can. Don’t say anything to his family, he says. I point out they’ll be worried when he’s gone. No, he says. They won’t miss him. He’ll call from Ohio. That’s the plan. Already he’s just waiting for his phone call, to catch his ride whenever and wherever he is told. One morning I’ll show up at the market for our lesson and he won’t be there. His aunt will say she doesn’t know. He does this sometimes, misses work. He’s flojo, she’ll say, angrily. Lazy. She’ll ask me if I think he’s learning any English, and I’ll say Si, poco.

"Yes We Can": Poetry, and Politics, In Motion

Via Steve Benen. If you still think politics isn't sexy, check out this message of hope.

Defections

I wrote yesterday that I was betting on Barack Obama to get the job done for Democrats in 2008 (and 2009, 2010, 2011 . . . you get the idea). Looks like I'm not the only one. Kevin Drum, who I would have guessed would stick with Hillary Clinton, has endorsed Obama for the primary tomorrow. And Kevin is in California, a state which Clinton wasn't supposed to have to fight for.

Things could get real interesting now.

Blogging Blind

I've lightened the background color behind the text on the site because I've been having a hard time, recently, reading my own posts. Like the print didn't pop enough against the original background, and my eyes got tired halfway through a long post.

So now that I've made that change, do I keep the offset color behind my block quotes,


like this, just to give a little more emphasis? Or is it too busy?


Because I could also leave it plain, and just run the block quotes like I would on any piece of paper,

like this, without any fanfare and hooplah. Just good old fashioned indents.


Since the wife is out of town (hi wife!) and I've got nothing better to do after the Superbowl (for my money the most exciting Superbowl game in my lifetime!) than eat leftover nachos and tweak the blog, I stayed up late last night taking the block colors out and putting them in, taking them out and putting them in, until I honestly couldn't tell the difference anymore. Any feedback would be helpful.

03 February 2008

The Ideal Primary Ad, and Thoughts on Election 2008

Slate writer and CBS News correspondent Jeff Greenfield narrates the ad he'd like to see this primary season:


—I'm Janet Napolitano, Democratic governor of Arizona—a state Bush won twice.

—I'm Kathleen Sebelius, Democratic governor of Kansas—a state Bush won twice.

—I'm Claire McKaskill, Democratic Senator from Missouri—a state Bush won twice.

If Al Gore had won any of our states in 2000, there never would have been a Bush presidency. Instead, Democrats lost the last two presidential elections because our candidates couldn't compete in our states, and too many others.

Any Democrat can win in your deep blue state. But to win the White House, we need someone who can win our states, too. We believe that candidate is Barack Obama.

—We think so, too. I'm Tim Kaine, governor of Virgnia, where Bush won twice. And I'm Ben Nelson, Democratic senator from Nebraska, where Bush won twice.

Please: Give us a Democratic candidate who can win the states that will decide who wins the White House. Give us Barack Obama.

By this time in the primary season I've gone hot and cold on a number of candidates. Last Christmas (and I'm Jewish, for crying out loud) I bought my in-laws Obama's book. Then I published a post about why I wanted to like Hillary. Then, though I loathe to say so now, I published a post about why I thought Mike Huckabee might not be a bad pick for the Republicans. (I'm currently dragging my feet on a much, much less flattering follow-up. Maybe if I wait a little longer, I won't even have to write it.)

So the question I'm struggling to evaluate is who will make the stronger candidate in the general election? Because here's the thing: watching the Democrats through the past couple election cycles has been like watching my home team the Detroit Lions. They just seem to have a way of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Now, neither Clinton nor Obama are a Howard Dean, subject to passionate, if guttural, howls of victory. Neither one is a John Kerry, so easy--and somehow so satisfying--to malign (I hate to say it but it's true: Politics aside, I sort of enjoyed watching the guy flail. It wasn't what he said, but how he said it. Just a little too imperious, in the end). And, in the end, I sincerely hope that having two good Dem candidates--and I think there were at least 3 or 4, earlier on--gives us all kinds of advantages, like elevated dialogue and substantive debate. As we've seen already, however, the Clinton and Obama camps could easily lead this thing into the sort of lowbrow Washington theater we can't stand to watch. I'm glad to see this sort of thing checking itself, because a nuclear war between the two most promising Democratic candidates since Bill Clinton would be disastrous for the party.

So, back to the original intent of the post. The ad Jeff Greenfield would like to see sounds like a pretty good one. I'm prepared to vote for Hillary Clinton in a general election and hope like hell that she could pull one out for the good guys. I'd go a step farther, with Obama, and say that I'd actually be excited for his prospects. This isn't to say which would make the better president. This is simply who I think gets to the Oval Office. I like to think it's a gimme for the Dems, but we've been fooled before.

I think in a head-to-head against McCain, Hillary Clinton looks more extreme and aggressive, traits we Americans don't like in our women, while Barack Obama sounds more inspiring, more authentic, and strangely enough, more seasoned than he actually is. John McCain is running on the war, a drastically unpopular platform. Obama would have an easy time, I think, reminding the country that all the experience of McCain's 72 years isn't worth didley if it means we stay in Iraq for 100 years, make a new Cold War with Iran, watch Afghanistan and Pakistan fall still farther out of step with our western, pro-democracy national ideologies, all while watching our friends and neighbors struggle with foreclosures as the housing bust and the domestic economy actually get worse before they get better, which seems sure to happen before the average American has a chance to wonder where that $600 tax rebate went. Also, Obama looks fit and vigorous, very presidential, against a McCain who will turn 73 this August. You can bet that voters will be constantly reminded that the guy is in a traditionally high risk age group among American males. If he won and was reelected, he'd retire at 81; Reagan, by comparison, was 79 when he left office, if my math is correct.

Here's the other thing, and this is pure speculation, so take it for what it's worth (as with all the rest): America once more wants a president who sounds presidential. I think we can't underestimate this right now. Most Americans sense that our standing on the world stage has fallen. If George W. Bush's dumbing down of executive politics has actually helped in some way, it's that Americans remember now why they want a president who speaks clearly and thoughtfully. McCain's not really that guy. His "My friends I can tell you" schtick comes off, to me, as just as faux-folksy as Bush's Crawford ranch brush shoveling routine. I don't believe McCain's the one who can restore the luster to the Republican party, nor to the Oval Office. Clinton and Obama both will take the American stock up a tick, at face value, though judgment will be withheld until the actual business of the presidency gets underway. In the meantime, I just think Obama can excite more people--to the Democratic advantage--than Clinton can.

Like Greenfield, I believe Obama has a better chance in the general election. Ask me next week and my wisdom could well change. It's been that kind of cycle, not just for me but for some of my favorites writers who have seen a lot more of these things than I have. The thing is that neither of these candidates are perfect. Obama's gonna get worked, hard, exactly because of the charm of his higher political discourse. The country will demand to see more than just rhetoric, and the opposition will remind folks that Bill Clinton had a way with words, too, and look what happened. We got a charismatic liar and philanderer in office.

In addition to getting specific about policy, Obama will have to balance and frame his policy prescriptions in such a way that they resonate across a very broad spectrum, because for some dumb reason it seems a whole lot of Independents and moderate Republicans still seem to think of John McCain as the maverick politico centrist he branded himself as eight years ago to run against the conservative's conservative, George W. Bush. This isn't unique, it's just that it seems more Americans--specifically more Republicans--are poised to calve from the glacier of habit if Obama actually succeeds in walking his fine line. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, doesn't bring that element to the general election.

Obama, I think, will peel off some of these Independents and Republicans that Clinton won't be able to touch. Also, if Obama continues to build momentum without losing his higher message, I think he'll draw out significant numbers of people who aren't inclined to vote, if simply to get involved in the next great hope. While it won't be that many, every bit helps, especially in the states that Greenfield mentions in his article. Between Obama and McCain, though, most of these people still stay home, and that'd be a good thing for the Dems.

Hillary Clinton, of course, will mobilize droves of these people, but not in her favor. The Republican machine is counting on getting the vote out like never before if Clinton wins the nomination, and I think they'll succeed. It won't matter how disenchanted the conservative base might be with McCain, and it won't matter how much Clinton works to soften her tone and deliver sound policy messages. For a lot of people it'll be more fun than swinging a Swiftboat stick at a Kerry pinata. The bottom line, for much of the country, will be Anybody But Clinton.

So I say okay, Jeff Greenfield. Obama doesn't have an easy road ahead, but you keep pushing for your ideal primary campaign ad, and I'll wait to see it on the tv (or on YouTube, more likely, since I'm in Mexico). Probably all this is a little premature, since we've yet to see what surprises may crop up this Super Tuesday, but it sure is fun.

01 February 2008

Hard Times

This is almost old news at this point, but TPM sums it up so well. It's hard being a Republican these days.

Hashing it Out in Oaxaca

I'm a reliable one for blogging what I think in the heat of the moment, hitting the publish button, and the next day wondering whether I actually believe what I've most recently written. Things being a little hot in Oaxaca right now (not a lot hot, just a little), you can imagine that I've had plenty to try and wrap my brain around. So it's only natural that I've spent a chunk of time today hashing over what I wrote last night.

Yesterday I suggested that while narcotrafficking is the easy guess for an attack on the scale of what happened Wednesday morning at El Tequio--bad men, machine guns, multiple vehicles squealing away from the scene of the crime--it wasn't the only guess. While everything I read from the few who were writing pointed at narcotrafficking, even though the government wasn't really pushing this story yet, I wanted to take a moment to think about other possibilities.

The two or three that came to mind were the EPR (People's Revolutionary Army), a small but widely known terrorist organization; angry or vengeful victims, wronged by the deceased, Alejandro Barrita Ortiz, or their families, seeking reprisals; or splinter groups spun out from the unresolved conflict of 2006 who wanted to make a strong statement (the strongest) about the current state of unrest in Oaxaca. This last I saw as a possibility because of the coincidental announcement that Flavio Sosa would face new charges in Oaxacan courts, even though the federal government has told the state to let this one go.

Today I talked myself out of all those stories. Of course it has to be narcotrafficking. First of all, people who know more than I do about Oaxaca tell me so. Secondly, the officer killed was at the top of a division of police who would certainly have everything to do with narcotrafficking in Oaxaca, and you don't get to the top of that division by playing the straight and narrow. Most likely the guy got in too deep, got in trouble, and got what you get when you play those games. Lastly, do I really think a small band of guerrillas , who usually blow up oil pipelines, are really taking on the role of assassins? (Could be--I actually don't know much about the EPR). For that matter, do the friends and families of victims of repression in 2006, or small time anarchists, have access to so much firepower? I mean, AK-47s, 9mms, .380s . . . It seems like a lot.

Well, there you go. I was satisfied with my answer. Then I came home from work today and checked my email, and I discovered that both Ronald Waterbury and Nancy Davies, two of the voices I count on to keep me informed, were also questioning the narcotrafficking story. In a correspondence on the Oaxaca Study Forum listserv, Ronald Waterbury agrees with other readers that there may be many ways this thing actually falls out, and that, in the end, we may never know who is responsible. Similarly, Nancy Davies writes that


The possibilities are "organized crime", i.e. narcotrafficking, which to my thinking does not mean Barrita was fighting crime but was probably involved in it; the second possibility is the APPO which I don't beleive and which they have denied, because of their pacific stance; a third is the EPR or other civilian guerrillas.



Sounds familiar. If Ron and Nancy are wondering, then I'll come full circle again and leave myself open to all my questions and considerations from last night, without worrying that I'm some kind of conspiracy freak or skepto-pessimist or far-fetched daydreamer. I mean, I sort of am, but isn't that the point of keeping a blog?

In the meantime I think we have to leave off with these words, from Ron Waterbury, for now: "Tal vez nunca vamos a saber por seguro." Perhaps we will never know for sure.

NOTE: Nancy Davies points out in her recent update that the Policía Auxiliar, Bancaria, Industrial y Comercial is a private police force with government affiliations, and not a branch of the state or federal police, as I had originally thought. Sorry for any confusion.

Correction: Misreading the Spanish (And Believing What I Hear)

Yesterday I wrote that Wednesday's attack at El Tequio killed a police chief, his two bodyguards and a local athletic instructor. This is not correct. The attack targeted the chief and his one bodyguard. Also killed were local athletic instructor Virginia Galan Rodriguez, and another innocent bystander, Alonso Muños Rafael.

Dear Microsoft . . .

UPDATE: I am glad to see some "beef" in the WaPo article mentioned below. When I clicked through this morning it came up as little more than a headline and a caption. Don't know if that was all they had, or if I simply had a problem dialing it all in. At any rate, the article that I chide here is actually fairly substantial. You can see for yourself.
__________

I'm not a fan of profanity on blogs, and though I speak my share of filth during the average day, I have an aversion to printing the same on my site. It's like a cop-out, you know? Like saying "I feel strongly about this but I'm not feeling very creative right now, I can't think of anything more articulate to say."

That said, I've written a brief, open letter to Microsoft. I have to say that I feel strongly about this, and I can't think of anything more articulate to say:


Dear Microsoft,

Please don't fuck up my Yahoo, okay?

Yours,

Matt



This after reading this non-article (seriously--where's the beef?!) in the WaPo today.

Now I'm not a Yahoo loyalist, and I've got no particular love for the service. But I'm familiar with it, I've been using it for years, I think the beta improvements are actually pretty good, and I like that the mail service makes it easy for me to put my hands on everything that's ever come in or out of my inbox. I used Hotmail for a year, just to get fluent in something else, and I couldn't stand it. I do all my work related emailing through Gmail, and it's only okay. I don't find any of the big services nearly as compliant and accessible as Yahoo.

So seriously, Microsoft, don't go messing up a good (enough) thing. Thank you.