Runcible Blog

Dean's speech at Timberlane High School

Dean stumping in Plaistow, nh
Dean talks about the economy to a packed auditorium at Timberlane High School in Plaistow, NH.

I went to see Howard Dean make an appearance in Plaistow last Sunday. The topic was mostly economic policy and lots of Bush-bashing. He had some seemingly controversial things to say. For instance, when asked about where to place blame for high health insurance costs, Dean listed 5 parties responsible: doctors, lawyers, insurance companies, hospitals, and us. He explained that people have become too demanding regarding health care -- expecting a cure for everything and a prolonged life at any cost. And health insurance companies take advantage of that demand. Well, I don't know how significant the observation is, but he went on to make the point that his campaign is about "empowering people" and treating people like adults rather than saying, "vote for me, and I'll solve all your problems. And you won't have to sacrifice anything." He justifies his opposition to the Bush tax cuts (including the so-called "Democratic" tax cuts thrown in) by explaining that since most people didn't receive much of a tax cut, it would be better to use that money for something more important, like universal (or single-payer, whatever) health insurance. He believes that if you give citizens a choice between a measly tax-cut or better government services, they'd choose the latter. I appreciate Dean's honesty and hope his message continues to resonate with ordinary folks.

Dean also had a few memorable quotes when asked about solving the AIDS crisis. He said that when he heard Bush mention funding AIDS programs in Africa, he felt like throwing up because he knew it was a sham. Also, while explaining the need to teach prevention in third world countries, he said (paraphrase) "... you have to talk about condoms. Unfortunately this president is too giggly to mention the word... He needs a Surgeon General who can explain the birds and the bees to him." Ha!

It was a pretty good speech overall. Of course the audience members mostly asked him softball questions ("what are the top 5 companies profiting from the war?"). I suspect not many republicans come out to Dean's stump speeches. At any rate, the NH primary is still a few months away. I hope I can get out to see a few more events/rallies before his inevitable nomination. How cool is it to meet the future president? Pretty cool.

Dean stumps in Plaistow, NH

More on the report

Slate has a more detailed look at Kay's WMD report. It basically chews up and spits out the Tribune's editorial very nicely.

David Kay's interim report on whether Saddam Hussein had a serious program to build weapons of mass destruction—an investigation that Kay and 1,500 agents from the Pentagon's Iraq Survey Group have been conducting for three months now—is a shockingly lame piece of work.

I'm doubtful that my letter will be published. Lately it seems that the Op-Ed page has been increasingly one-sided. They even stopped printing Molly Ivins's columns. Now it's mostly stuffy Republican syndicated columnists shilling for the whitehouse and loony right-wingers from the backwoods of Boxford or Windham writing letters to the editor -- himself a tool in the Washington spin-machine. Ah well.

Letter to the Editor

From: Dave St.Germain (
Date: Sun Oct 5, 2003 4:37:31 PM US/Eastern
Subject: WMD report is not a smoking gun

Sunday, October 5th's Editorial, "Iraq report shows Saddam had WMD technology" incorrectly claims that Dr.David Kay's report to congress constitutes a "smoking gun" on the issue of Iraq's possession of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Dr.Kay plainly states that his team has not found any stocks of weapons of mass destruction, seemingly refuting Vice President Dick Cheney's August 26, 2002 claim that "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." Meanwhile, on May 30th, 2003 a surprised Lt. Gen. James Conway remarked "We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there." While President Bush declared in his State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein "had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons" of chemical weapons Dr.Kay's report does not support such a conclusion. In fact the report's details are full of circumstantial evidence bordering on hearsay and rumor with very little real documentation to bolster its claims. At most, the report reveals that Saddam Hussein may have wanted to develop nuclear and chemical weapons programs -- not that he had been successful. The report concludes on chemical weapons that, "Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce and fill new CW munitions was reduced – if not entirely destroyed – during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of U.N. sanctions and U.N. inspections." On February 8th, President Bush claimed that "We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons." How could the Iraqi military use chemical weapons that didn't exist?

The editorial's bold assertion that "the Bush administration never -- never -- stated that there was an 'imminent' threat to the United States from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" is a blatant attempt to rewrite history. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice warned on September 8th, 2002, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." While the administration may have been careful not to use the word "imminent", they repeatedly sowed the seeds of fear by insinuating that Iraq had tons of deadly weapons ready to unleash on America and its allies. It is clear now that many of the pre-war accusations were exaggerated, falsified, or just plain wrong. After months of equating Saddam Hussein with 9/11 and Al Qaeda, the president himself recently said, "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." The quote would have come as a surprise to the 70 percent of Americans who believed Iraq was involved with September 11th. The Eagle-Tribune, however, buried the story which would have served to dispel a widely-held belief. By attempting to restate the Bush administration's case for war and failing to adequately report that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the Tribune has done a disservice to its readers and has betrayed its purpose as a newspaper.

David St.Germain
15A Perry Ave.
Lawrence, Ma

Lost in Translation

I saw Lost in Translation tonight at Loews in Methuen. I overheard a few remarks like "four thumbs down" and "I think that was the worst movie I've ever seen", but I have a feeling that we weren't all watching the same film. At the beginning of the movie some people were laughing enthusiastically at parts that weren't very funny. It was almost as if they were expecting to see a movie like Groundhog Day or What About Bob? because Bill Murray played the starring role. Expectations often lead to disappointment.

While there were some funny bits, comedy wasn't the point, and those who walked out midway through probably didn't "get" the movie's point. To be honest, I didn't really get it either, but I still liked it. I think the premise of a a young lady falling for Bill Murray seems far-fetched, but then again what do I know about young ladies? I do know that out of the perhaps 100,000 frames in which Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) graces her presence, not one is less than strikingly gorgeous. Am I exaggerating? Well, maybe, but seriously, is it possible to take a bad picture of this girl?

I envy anyone who's ever seen her in person. That's how beautiful she is.

Eh-hem. Anyway, back to the movie. The film is heavy on mood and emotions. Although I couldn't relate to their characters, I felt for them. Maybe I felt with them. I can very much relate to Bob Harris's (Bill Murray) conflict and his longing, and Charlotte's search for purpose is not far from anybody's.

But more than anything else, I missed those characters when I left the theater. I wanted to stay in Japan; I didn't want to leave with Bob Harris (figuratively speaking). I suppose connecting with the characters is the most you can expect from any film, so in that sense Lost in Translation is a great success -- at least for me.