How to Read a Newspaper (Updated)

I’m annoyed at the AP. My post yesterday made no sense after several people in my comments box pointed out that a Dick Cheney quote I republished had been Dowdified by the reporter.

I didn’t agree with the Dowdified quote. I didn’t agree with the real quote, either, but at least what Cheney actually said was less obnoxious than what I first thought.

Mark Twain famously said “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” This is so true. I know this in part because when I know a subject well I often scoff at how non-specialty newspapers cover it. My wife says the same thing, and her areas of knowledge are completely separate from mine.

So count me as one who appreciates what Jeremy Brown wrote today on his blog:

The trick is to not just believe what you read in the papers anymore. Naw man, you got to swagger in like you goin’ into a used car dealership. Then you got to show them motherfuckers you ain’t no easy mark, that you ain’t nobody’s two bit skank, never was, and got no plans to be.

Yep. I guess so. It’s been that way for centuries now, hasn’t it Mr. Twain?

UPDATE: Katherine in the comments points to this this Washington Post story:

In a change that highlighted the sensitivity of Cheney’s statement, the White House yesterday released a revised version of the transcript of his remarks. The official transcript, posted on the White House Web site Tuesday afternoon and e-mailed to reporters, said: “(I)t’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again.”

In a version released Tuesday to reporters traveling with Cheney, however, the period at the end of “hit again” was removed and replaced with a comma, which linked his blunter statement to his standard stump language expressing concern that future attacks would be treated as “just criminal acts, and that we’re not really at war.”


So, okay. Maybe the quote wasn’t actually Dowdified. It was taken out of context, which is kinda lame but a lot less lame. Then again, I’m going to follow Jeremy’s advice and remain suspicious of newspapers at least for the rest of the day.

I would ask if anyone has an audio link to the Cheney speech, but it isn’t really important. The reason I wanted to comment on this in the first place was to make a couple of points that aren’t even relevant any more anyway. There is a point when a “he said, she said” argument about punctuation gets tiresome (how do you pronounce a comma, anyway?) and I think we’ve passed it. Next subject…

We Cannot Fall Apart (Updated)

Dick Cheney is selling poison in Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa – Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday warned Americans about voting for Democratic Sen. John Kerry, saying that if the nation makes the wrong choice on Election Day it faces the threat of another terrorist attack.

As if we don’t face the threat of another attack now. Who knew we were so safe? Not me.

“It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States,” Cheney told about 350 supporters at a town-hall meeting in this Iowa city.

I don’t need to tell Dick Cheney that terrorists want to hit us again no matter who sits in the White House. But I would tell Dick Cheney, if I were his advisor, that this line of argument is crude, obnoxious, and has serious backfire potential built into it. He is explicitly saying no terrorist attacks can get through if he and George W. hold the White House.

We all know this is b.s. and I shouldn’t even have to point it out. It is not possible to deflect every potential attack. We could turn the United States into a totalitarian fortress and attacks would still get through.

If Dick Cheney is prepared to lay the blame of a future terrorist attack on both a Kerry Administration and even the voters (!) then his administration needs to accept the blame for terrorist attacks that occur on its watch. And that includes the attack on September 11.

I do not blame the Bush Administration for the attack on September 11. Nor do I blame the Clinton Administration. Nor will I blame a possible future Kerry Administration if it comes into being. Nor should anybody.

In The Art of War Sun Tzu famously told how to defeat an enemy’s leadership: “When he is united, divide him.” On that note I’d like to revisit an essay Lee Harris wrote for Tech Central Station on the second anniversary of September 11, 2001. He concludes:

The greatest damage that Al-Qaeda could possibly do to us is not to destroy our buildings or even to murder our people; it is to lure us into abandoning our sense of national unity at the very time we are most in need of it. 9/11 was not our fault, nor the fault of our leadership, of either party. Nor will the next 9/11, if it should come, be our fault, or the fault of those who might happen to be in power, and again of either party.


[N]one of us may not know for sure what we should do, we can all be absolutely positive about what we shouldn’t do, and that is, we cannot fall apart. For if we in the United States fall apart, who in the world will put us back together?

UPDATE: It looks like Cheney’s quote was snipped in the middle of a sentence. And the AP reporter used a period instead of ellipses to hide that fact. Here is Cheney’s complete sentence:

Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again, that we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we’ll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we’re not really at war.

That is a lot less inflammatory. The AP ought to be smacked for that. Will they run a correction? I’m runing a correction since I relied on their crappy reporting, so I certainly hope so. (Not holding my breath.)

I still think Cheney is wrong. John Kerry has said he will respond to any attack on the United States, and I believe him. Why wouldn’t he? He is not a peacenik.

What worries me about a Kerry presidency isn’t that he won’t fight back but that he doesn’t have any strategy that isn’t reactive. We could fight terrorism tit-for-tat forever. Bush has his eye on both pre-emption and root causes while Kerry doesn’t.

Quote of the Day

Natalie Solent:

Once it became acceptable to a broad section of Islam (and to Western apologists for terrorism) to select Jewish children as targets it was only a matter of time before non-Jewish children would also be selected. Children are the most convenient terrorist target as they are physically easy to control or kill, and because people will concede more to save them. The only thing that stops a Beslan happening every week is the shreds of morality that remain even in the minds of terrorists. Once the taboo was breached for Israeli victims it was breached for everyone.

Via sharp new blogger Eric the Unread.

City Shots

Sean LaFreniere posted some urban photography from the road trip he and I took last week. I stuck to the nature side of things in my photo galleries while he got some great shots of Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, and Salt Lake City.

Flip Flop Flap

John Kerry is a flip-flopper. Or Karl Rove is a clever liar who has convinced Americans that John Kerry is a flip-flopper. Depends on who you ask.

Let’s see.

From August 9th:

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. (Reuters) – Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said on Monday he would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing force against Iraq even if he had known then no weapons of mass destruction would be found. [Emphasis added.]

Taking up a challenge from President Bush, whom he will face in the Nov. 2 election, the Massachusetts senator said: “I’ll answer it directly. Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it is the right authority for a president to have but I would have used that authority effectively.”

From September 6th:

WASHINGTON – Democrat John Kerry accused President Bush on Monday of sending U.S. troops to the “wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time” and said he’d try to bring them all home in four years. Bush rebuked him for taking “yet another new position” on the war. [Emphasis added.]

It’s okay to slowly change your mind over time. It’s also okay to suddenly change your mind if you get a flash of new information or insight. People who never change their minds are either miraculously right about everything (yeah, sure) or hopelessly reactionaries who are sometimes right by sheer chance.

It is not okay to change your mind every couple of weeks or days or hours over and over again for no apparent reason. Especially when people are trying to nail you down so they can decide whether or not they want to vote for you.

The fact that John Kerry continues to do this on the subject of the sole-remaining super-power’s national security all but proves he doesn’t take the job he’s running for seriously.

Does John Kerry think changing the regime in Iraq was a good idea? Who on earth could possibly know? Does John Kerry have any idea how America should proceed in its prosecution of the Terror War? I haven’t the slightest friggin’ clue. And that is by Kerry’s design. He has deliberately turned himself into the Rorschach Candidate. We see in him what we want to see – or so he hopes. That’s the only way he thinks he can appeal to both peaceniks and hawks at the same time.

One other thing. The idea that Karl Rove and the Bush Machine invented the flip-flopping canard needs to die.

Kerry Urged to Dodge Foreign Policy (Updated)

Anyone who wins a primary election deserves serious consideration for the presidency, even if they don’t get my vote in the end. The “hawkish case for John Kerry” will not be easy to write, but I feel I owe it to him all the same. He may or may not deserve my vote, but he does deserve a little mental effort and attention.

I’m in the middle of compiling my list of points for that argument. It isn’t easy, especially since the Kerry campaign can’t even convince itself.

Here’s the New York Times:

President Bush roared out of his New York convention last week, leaving many Democrats nervous about the state of the presidential race and pressing Senator John Kerry to torque up what they described as a wandering and low-energy campaign.

In interviews, leading Democrats – governors, senators, fund-raisers and veteran strategists – said they had urged Mr. Kerry’s campaign aides to concentrate almost exclusively on challenging President Bush on domestic issues from here on out, saying he had spent too much of the summer on national security, Mr. Bush’s strongest turf. [Emphasis added.]

I have no idea, really, why the Democrats did not see this coming. There were some liberal hawks on the primary ticket that could have neutralized this from the get-go.

I didn’t vote for George W. Bush in 2000. It’s been a royal pain to defend this president from his worst critics while my heart hasn’t been in it. And it’s going to be just as difficult to “carry water” for John Kerry when his own staff and his own self can’t even cobble together an argument to convince defense hawks that he’s a safe bet. I really don’t think a Kerry presidency would be as disastrous as many Republicans are saying. He is no Dennis Kucinich. Still, no one would ever photoshop something like this to make fun of Joe Lieberman.


Image via Fark.

UPDATE: Some people in the comments take issue with the picture above because when John Kerry said he would fight a more “sensitive” war he did not mean he would be more sensitive to our enemies. Rather, he meant he would be more “sensitive” to Europeans. True enough, but “sensitive war” is an asinine thing to say in any context. War is a horror by nature, and the only things less sensitive are totalitarian oppression and genocide.

Besides, as “Bill” pointed out in the comments, Kerry has already referred to the Iraq coalition as “fraudulent.” That was not a very “sensitive” thing to say about Britain and Tony Blair, not to mention everybody else who is an actual rather than a would-be ally of the United States.

Only in a child’s fantasy universe did France oppose regime-change in Iraq because Bush was insufficiently “sensitive.” If John Kerry actually believes he can get Jacques Chirac into the American orbit by being “sensitive” he doesn’t know the first thing about French foreign policy since Charles de Gaulle. He’ll learn if he is elected, but the political education of John Kerry is still somewhere off in the future.

Move On

Dave Barry:

Call me a dreamer, but I’m hoping that at some point before we go to the polls, we can get this campaign past the Vietnam era to at least, say, the late ’70s.

It would be cool if we could argue about the late 70s. I was nine years old then. I actually remember the late 70s. Vaguely. I saw The Who’s Tommy. Didn’t understand it at all. Scared the heck out of me, actually. But I do sorta remember some of the craziness. It was a weird time to be a child, believe me.

I know it’s hard for some people to understand, but I really don’t care about Vietnam or the 60s. Sorry. I wasn’t even born yet in the 60s and the Vietnam War ended before I began kindergarten.

Anyone who is stuck in the 1960s today is exactly as out of date as were those conservatives in the middle of the last decade when Bob Dole prattled on about going back to the 50s.

Lefty Boomers seriously need to stop and ask themselves if they want to be today’s Bob Dole. Roger L. Simon told me on the phone today that when he left the Republican National Convention (where he blogged it live) he saw gray-haired protesters in the streets screaming exactly the same slogans he yelled more than 30 years ago when the world was a different place. People get reactionary as they get older. I guess it’s just part of the process. But it can be resisted with effort.

We are never going back to either the 50s or the 60s. You know it, too, so please move on and get over it.

Yesterday I wrote this in my comments box:

History swung on its hinges in 1968. And it happened again in 2001. The scream you hear from certain quarters (but not all) of the left comes from the knowledge that 1968 has been topped.

When Roger writes about the new reactionaries this is basically what he’s talking about, the difference being that he actually lived through the era in question.

Bush Gets a Bounce

A press release from Time magazine detailing their latest poll shows George W. Bush got a sizeable bounce from his convention.

New York — For the first time since the Presidential race became a two person contest last spring, there is a clear leader, the latest TIME poll shows. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 52% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 41% would vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry, and 3% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to a new TIME poll conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Poll results are available on TIME.com and will appear in the upcoming issue of TIME magazine, on newsstands Monday, Sept. 6.

John Kerry polls slightly better than Bush on health care and “understanding the needs of people.” Kerry and Bush are virtually tied on the economy. What seems to push Bush over the top is that he beats Kerry by more than 20 percentage points on the issue of terrorism.

More polls using a different methodology are sure to be forthcoming. Bush’s lead could shrink or even grow.

John Kerry got a negligible bounce from his own convention, probably because he annoyed the hell out of damn near everybody who hadn’t already decided to vote for him.

For the first time in many months I’m willing to predict the winner. I shouldn’t even need to say who it is.

Can I make an old complaint still one more time? Why, oh why, did the Democrats have to pick Kerry? I voted for Kerry in the primary, too, but it wasn’t my fault. By the time the primary election rolled around in my state the only choices remaining were John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, and Lyndon effing LaRouche. Do those of you who had early primaries have any idea how irritating those choices were? Next time, think ahead a little more. You could have gone with Edwards or Lieberman and neutralized Bush’s national security advantage. That’s what you should have done if you wanted “anybody but Bush.” This whopping convention bounce is the punishment for making that decision.


Andrew Sullivan is back from vacation and isn’t any more impressed with the Republican National Convention than I am.

How to convey the spectacular incoherence of last night’s continuing infomercial for the re-election of George W. Bush? The evening began with a series of speeches trumpeting vast increases in federal spending: on education, healthcare, AIDS, medical research, and on and on. No, these were not Democrats. They were Bush Republicans, extolling the capacity of government to help people, to cure the sick, educate the young, save Africans from HIV, subsidize religious charities, prevent or cure breast cancer, and any other number of worthy causes.

What a complete and utter joke these things are. I”m a swing voter, so I know both parties are trying to pitch to me right now. And I am not going to let myself get huckstered by either one of them. The Democrats pretended to be Republicans at their convention and swaggered more than generals at a Latin American military junta’s parade. And now the Republicans are pretending to be big-government bleeding hearts. Gimme a break, people. If you want my vote, don’t insult my intelligence. Seriously.

The Zell Miller Speech

The polarization during this election season makes me lonely. There are few centrists left. Most have hitched their wagons to one partisan train or another. Hardly any honest dialogue remains.

When I see other people of a moderate persuasion writing sentences like these by Matthew Yglesias I feel a horrible sinking feeling that makes me want to stop blogging until mid-November. (I won’t stop, but I do wish I could hit a fast-forward button.)

Here is Matt on the speech by Democrat-in-name-only Zell Miller at the Republican National Convention:

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a more disgusting speech delivered in the English language. The fact that I couldn’t see a single person on the floor who seemed to feel anything less than the utmost enthusiasm for that lunacy was, well, a bit disturbing.

Come on, Matt. I have my own problems with the speech (see below) but it wasn’t anywhere near the worst ever. Have you not heard any of the hysterial speeches at anti-war rallies lately? Don’t tell me you have forgotten about those. Want some more recent examples from the left? Here’s one for you:

U.S. Rep. Major Owens, a New York Democrat, warned a crowd of feminist protesters that the Bush administration is taking America “into a snake pit of fascism.”

Owens also said the Bush administration “spits on democracy” and is leading the country down a path reminiscent of “Nazi Germany.”

And here is another:

A featured performer at a National Organization for Women rally accused President Bush of having “savagely raped ” women “over and over” by allegedly stealing the 2000 presidential election.

Poet Molly Birnbaum read aloud to a crowd of feminists gathered in New York’s Central Park on Wednesday night, as part of a NOW event dubbed “Code Red: Stop the Bush Agenda Rally.”

“Imagine a way to erase that night four years ago when you (President Bush) savagely raped every pandemic woman over and over with each vote you got, a thrust with each state you stole,” Birnbaum said from the podium. (If something is pandemic, it affects many people or a number of countries.)

Those speeches, Matt, were in English.

It’s not just the left that can be nasty. Some of the speeches at the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston were a lot more disgusting than anything Zell Miller said yesterday. Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan prevented me from being a Republican for a decade all by themselves. I felt vaguely like a Democrat then, but I had no real party affiliation one way or another until I heard those two screwjobs declare war on their own country to roaring applause. I’m a bit older than Matt. Perhaps he doesn’t remember what it was like to be a non-Republican twelve years ago. It was, at least for me, one heck of a serious no-brainer.

Today it is much less so. Like Zell Miller, I’ve been seriously torqued at the Democratic Party. But I’m no Zell Miller. I really don’t get him. Why isn’t he a Republican? He seems to me a lot more right-wing than other Republicans like Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Arnold Schwartzenegger. Granted they are all liberal Republicans, but they are still Republicans.

I don’t want to pick apart every sentence Zell Miller uttered. I do agree with some of what he said. He gave John Kerry one heck of a shellacking on military spending, for example. But in other areas he completely let himself go.

That’s the most dangerous outsourcing of all. This politician [John Kerry] wants to be leader of the free world.

Free for how long?

Please. Who, exactly, is going to make the world unfree? France? Don’t make me laugh. Al Qaeda? Even if they nuke New York City they won’t be able to enslave the United States.

One of the strangest things about Zell Miller’s speech is his trouble with the English language.

Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today’s Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.

And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.

Get a grip, Miller.

Of course the American and British militaries liberated Iraq. Removing a totalitarian regime cannot plausibly be called anything but liberation unless another similar regime is installed in its place. But let’s not kid ourselves. There are plenty of people in Fallujah who don’t feel liberated. They sang in their Saddamite chains. It’s horrible, but it’s true. Keeping them out of power required a military occupation. You can’t spin that away, and there isn’t any point in trying to do so. Occupations are sometimes necessary. Getting prickly and defensive about it prevents any serious discussion of the subject.

Keeping Shi’ite religious goons like Moqtada al-Sadr out of power similarly requires an occupation, even though the insurgents in question recognize that they have been liberated from the secular tyranny that predated that occupation. Liberation and occupation are not necessarily exclusive. What the American soldiers are not is colonists. They aren’t moving their families to Baghdad.

President Roosevelt, in his speech that summer [of 1940], told America “all private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger.”

Franklin Roosevelt is by far my favorite president of the 20th Century. But the man wasn’t Moses, and I’m not going to praise everything he said just because he was the one who said it.

My private life has not been and will not be repealed. Don’t any Republicans find that quote creepy? That’s the kind of crazy talk that makes up Kim Jong Il’s lunatic North Korean “juche” ideology.

I won’t be misunderstood here. Obviously FDR was not a totalitarian Stalinist. He certainly wouldn’t be my favorite president since Lincoln had that been the case. And Zell Miller is no Stalinist, either, nor anything like it. But come on. It would be scarcely possible for Miller or anyone else to find a worse quote from FDR to apply to the modern era. It really does bring to mind Christopher Hitchens’ description of life in North Korea where everyhing that is not absolutely prohibited is absolutely compulsory. Because that’s what you get when all private plans and private lives are repealed. I know very well that Pyongyang isn’t what Roosevelt or Miller had in mind, but that is what those words point to. Recycling them does make me wonder about Zell Miller’s instincts. I just can’t imagine favorably quoting something like that. I would have to become a very different person in order to do so.

But don’t waste your breath telling that to the leaders of my party today. In their warped way of thinking America is the problem, not the solution. [Emphasis added.]

Whoa there, Jackson. John Kerry is not Noam Chomsky. And John Edwards is no Michael Moore.

There are plenty of people on the left who think America is the problem, that America is eeeevil, that America is the new fascist police state. I’ve beaten them over the head with a rhetorical club on this blog for almost two years now. They are the most irritating people in the entire country, in part because plenty of them live in my neighborhood and I have to put up with their bullshit on a regular basis. I’ve also taken aim at mainstream liberals who refuse to call them out on the carpet. I expect a blowhard like Rush Limbaugh to make no distinction between a mainstream Democrat and a radical wingnut, but no one, and I mean no one, who is a Democrat himself has any excuse for not getting this right. If “the leaders of the Democratic Party” were as Zell Miller described them, Ralph Nader would be out of a job and Noam Chomsky would be a senator instead of a crank on the margins at Z Magazine.

Miller’s argument with Chris Matthews on Hardball was similarly offputting. (Click here to see the video.)

He makes some good points, but he’s still a bully and a loose cannon. Chris Matthews is not generally known for amiability or grace under pressure, but I think he handled Zell Miller’s steamrolling admirably. Miller can’t hold down a conversation with somebody who disagrees with him even when that person is ignoring the insults and the bullying. Matthews even professed admiration for Zell Miller, yet Miller still couldn’t resist threats of physical violence. He seems to have been knocked clean off his rocker by hatred for his own party. He’s been seized by Bush-hatred inverted.

He ought to be my kind of Democrat since we’re both alienated from the party for some of the same reasons. But he’s becoming a hallucinatory right-winger, incapable of grasping straightforward objective reality. It is painful for me to watch. The Democrats are a bit nuts right now, but it simply won’t do to match their craziness and hysteria with more of the same.

Zell Miller might have made me more likely to vote for George W. Bush by presenting a reasonable case. Instead I’ll be stuck cobbling together my own “liberal case for Bush” and seeing if it holds up enough for me to run with it. What Miller is doing is acting as a kind of anti-role model for me. Note to self. Don’t be like Zell.

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias responds. And for the record, Matt, I do not think you are deranged. You’re on my blogroll, after all.

UPDATE: When Laura Bush was asked what she thought of Zell Miller’s speech she said “I don’t know that we share that point of view.”

The Drive Back

Well, I’m back home again. Sean and I drove 5,350 miles in eight days. I don’t want to go anywhere near my car right now, but the next time I do have to drive someplace it won’t seem far. Mexico’s Sea of Cortez is only one fifth that distance. Big deal, no sweat, I can cruise on down there any time.

I hardly know the first thing about photography. I’m happy with a few of my nature shots, but I can’t seem to figure out how to take decent pictures of cities. Minneapolis and Chicago are both beautiful cities and I took plenty of pictures of each, but somehow the pictures just aren’t working for me.

I really do wish my Chicago pictures turned out since that was our destination. And what a fantastic destination it was. I used to live within three-hours driving distance, so the city was not new to me. But I missed the place because I hadn’t seen it for years. Sean had never been there before. And since he’s a graduate student in University of Oregon’s architecture program, not having been to Chicago was a mistake that needed correcting.

I was afraid I wouldn’t like Chicago as much anymore because I’ve been to Europe and New York in the meantime. But I have to say I still think Chicago is one of the greatest cities on Earth. It really is an architectural masterpiece. If Europe had a towering vertical city it would look like Chicago, not like New York. And Chicago’s sophistication and cosmopolitanism (people from every country in the world live there, just as they do in New York and Los Angeles) easily rivals that of any other world class city.

I’d go so far to say that out of all the American cities only New York beats Chicago, and only just barely. Every time I visit that city I have a hard time understanding why most people on the coasts overlook it. What is the deal, anyway, with the coastal snobs sniffing at “flyover country?” Is it because the Midwest is flat? Because it grows corn and has cows?

If you think San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York is the center of the universe, you’ll be shocked by what you see in Chicago if you ever decide to visit. Chicago makes everywhere else — and I do mean everywhere — seem painfully, even brutally, provincial.

Some day I hope to figure out urban photography. In the meantime, here are some of the places we saw on the drive home.


Here is the the Iowa River just north of Iowa City. The Midwestern scenery may not be spectacular due to the lack of topography, but it is pretty and I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise.


One of the rolling green hills of Iowa, of which there are millions.


The Iowa prairie.


The trees of the Midwest vanish in Western Nebraska where the rain shadow of the Rockies casts an arid pall over the plains.


Nebraska has a different vibe from the lush Midwestern states around the Great Lakes. It feels slightly, but not quite, Western. And it’s a lot more conservative.


Look at the flatness! Some parts of Western Nebraska are just a gigantic featureless ground.


Eerie hills in Utah. It looks like God torched some sand dunes with a blow torch.


Arches National Park, north of Moab, Utah.


Utah is like another world. I enjoyed the drive through Colorado, but it looks so much like my Oregon I’m a little hard to impress. But I can’t tell you how many times I said “wow” while driving through Utah. I need to go back and spend some quality time in the desert.


Here is one of the arches in Arches National Park. This thing is enormous, much bigger than it looks in the picture.


And here is the view through the window of the arch to the desert beyond.


A sunset near Castle Valley, Utah.


The Great Salt Lake Desert. I heard distant thumping explosions from the military proving ground as I snapped this picture.


Nevada desolation.

Blogging While Driving

Check it out, I’m blogging while driving.


Okay, I’m not actually driving. Sean is driving and I’m the passenger. But I took this picture with my digital camera, “developed” it by uploading it onto my laptop, and published it here with my cell phone modem, all without getting out the car or even slowing down.

We’re in Colorado heading toward Utah. Stay tuned for a lengthier post including pictures, commentary, and even – yes – opinion.

In Chicago

Sean and I are in Chicago. We will be at the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building (875 N. Michigan Avenue) at 10:00 tonight. If you live in Chicagoland, come on down – er, up – if you’re in the mood for some conversation and the consumption of adult beverages.

From Idaho to Minnesota

Don’t try driving through Yellowstone National Park on the way to somewhere else, not even on a Tuesday. It can’t be done. I don’t even want to think about how many hours that “little” detour took me and Sean yesterday. The idea was to take a quick spin through the park on our way to Rapid City, South Dakota from Idaho Falls. But by 5:00 in the evening we were only 200 miles from where we started at 7:00 that morning. It was two hours before dark and we had 500 miles to go.

Our schedule was utterly shot. There was no hope of getting anywhere near South Dakota, let alone to Rapid City and the Badlands, before dark. So we just decided to heck with the plan. We would drive until we got tired and see how far we could get. We made it all the way to Minneapolis. (Not before dark, though.)

I don’t remember South Dakota. We blew through it on autopilot and cruise-control. Granted, it was dark for much of the way, but still. South Dakota, like Nebraska, is an enormous chore state. It seems to go on forever and ever and ever and there is almost no visual evidence of progress. How could Sean and I be so mentally zonked that we could forget that experience? We made that trip today. I still shudder at the memory of driving on I-80 across Nebraska ten years ago.

Anyway, I have some photo evidence of Eastern Idaho and Wyoming for you. I did snap one picture of South Dakota in an apparently brief moment of lucidity and awareness.

We’re in Minneapolis now. Tomorrow we have to leave, but I don’t want to.


Morning mist rises out of a valley in Eastern Idaho.


The most beautiful place in Idaho — Swan Valley.


The Grand Tetons form the western wall of breathtaking Jackson Hole, Wyoming.


Wyoming is almost totally empty of people. There is no urban sprawl here.


You can’t speed through Wyoming the way you can South Dakota.


We paid money to get into Yellowstone, but the free scenery was best.


The sky in South Dakota is bigger and more open than here in Northern Wyoming, but this scenery frames it better.


The Missouri River winds through South Dakota.

Postcards from the Road

Today my friend Sean and I drove 750 miles from Portland to middle-of-nowhere Idaho just shy of the border near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Here’s what we saw.


Mt. Hood looms above Trillium Lake.


The forest around Trillium Lake.


After crossing the Cascade Mountains we entered Oregon’s Outback. Most people don’t know it, but half of Oregon really is desert. This photo was taken in the middle of the state just after the forest vanished.


Malheur County, Oregon, the most remote and least densely populated place in the lower 48 states. Outback, indeed.


Somewhere in Southern Idaho.


Somewhere else in Southern Idaho, near Pocatello, as the last rays of sunlight splashed on the mountains.

Tomorrow, eastward!

Will I post more photos? Or will I have enough time for the regularly-scheduled opinionated blather? Stay tuned to find out.


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