Friday, July 30, 2004

I don’t usually talk about politics here, but I thought I’d make a rare exception based on something John Kerry said at the Democratic National Convention last night.

While Kerry was attacking President Bush’s record on the war in Iraq, he put into words something that I’ve been thinking for months. He said, “The United States of America does not go to war because we want to. We go to war because we have to.”

When Bush said we needed to go to war with Iraq, I supported the war on the premise that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that were an imminent danger to this country and our allies. I thought that we had to get Saddam out of power, seize the weapons and dispose of them. As a byproduct of this, we would rid the world of an evil, brutal dictator.

Now, as everyone knows, there are no WMDs in Iraq. There was no link between Saddam and 9/11. The whole thing was based on faulty intelligence data.

When the President of the United States commits this country to fighting a war, he had better be damned sure of his facts. He had better know that an enemy poses a serious and fairly immediate threat to this country and its people. Otherwise, he’s in the wrong and he’s wasting our military resources.

Do I believe that the world is a better place without Saddam running Iraq? Of course. There’s no question about that. However, you have to consider the costs of getting rid of him: over 900 American soldiers dead, hundreds more wounded; over $100 billion spent on the prosecution of the war with billions more to come; thousands of Iraqis dead; and the damage to our reputation and our ability to lead the world.

In the business world (where both the President and Vice-President Cheney have plenty of experience), we’re taught to look at things from a cost/benefit analysis viewpoint. It’s simple: do the benefits of taking an action outweigh the costs? In my opinion, the costs of attacking Iraq outweigh the benefits we received. Saddam is gone. The lives of the Iraqi people may be better in the long run. The danger of a terrorist attack sponsored by Iraq is gone. Of course, this is offset by the fact that the U.S. has angered a lot of other people in the Middle East with our attack on Iraq.

All this is why I’m voting for John Kerry in November. I’m not a huge Kerry fan. But I think that George Bush has done such a horrendous job of running the War on Terror (I won’t even bother getting into all of his social positions that I disagree with), he’s proven to my satisfaction that he’s not up to the job of running this country.

Speaking of the DNC, it’s now over. The delegates are returning home, and the people of Boston can return from the Cape, the Berkshires, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont or wherever it is they’ve been hiding for the last week. Things went astoundingly well, as so many people stayed out of town that the predicted traffic nightmares never developed. As I sit on the train on the side of the Mass Pike this morning, cars are zooming along at a good clip. The only people who seem to have been negatively impacted by the convention are some downtown business owners who lost the business from their regulars who avoided the city, and never saw a compensating increase in business from the people who were in town for the DNC.

I took Thursday off from work, with the original intention of taking a day off from the expected hassle of going into Boston this week. Of course, the hassle never materialized, but it was nice to have a day to recharge my batteries and relax. The kids were in camp, so I was able to go for a long walk, have a good lunch, run a few errands and take a nap in the afternoon. I then picked up J. from camp and took him to his test for his yellow belt in Tae Kwan Do. He did very well and really seems to have learned a lot over the past year or so since he started taking classes.

Oh, and where the heck did the Braves come from? This was supposed to be a down year for Atlanta. They lost Gary Sheffield and Greg Maddux after the 2003 season, and hadn’t really done much to replace them. They are playing in the same division as the World Champion Marlins and an improved Phillies team. Yet here we are at the end of July, and the Braves are once again in first place. They’ve won the last 12 NL Eastern Division titles (excluding the 1994 strike). I give Bobby Cox a lot of credit for the Braves success this year. It’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it up for the next two months.


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