Sunday, October 31, 2004


What Osama Really Said

Powerline reports on a Memri translation of OBL's latest video. Bottom line: the American media mistranslated a key phrase; Osama was, in fact, directly threatening any US state that votes for Bush.

The U.S. media in general mistranslated the words "ay wilaya" (which means "each U.S. state") to mean a "country" or "nation" other than the U.S., while in fact the threat was directed specifically at each individual U.S. state.
The Islamist website Al-Qal'a explained what this sentence meant: "This message was a warning to every U.S. state separately. When he [Osama Bin Laden] said, 'Every state will be determining its own security, and will be responsible for its choice,' it means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy
Homeland Security should pass this warning on to the public, with a caution to be extra careful at the polls, lest OBL target polling locations in neighborhoods known to be favorable to Republicans. This is a credible threat from a credible source.

UPDATE: Commenter John Mann says we cannot trust "Zionist" translations. In response, here is the full english transcript from al-jazeera, plus a "Jihad For Dummies" interpretation from Al-Qal'a, who, as noted here have "in the past carried statements by militants in Iraq, including Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi accused by the United States of being the leading operative of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network in Iraq.":
The Islamist website Al-Qal’a explained what this sentence meant: “This message was a warning to every U.S. state separately. When he [Osama Bin Laden] said, ‘Every state will be determining its own security, and will be responsible for its choice,’ it means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy, and any state that will vote against Bush has chosen to make peace with us, and we will not characterize it as an enemy. By this characterization, Sheikh Osama wants to drive a wedge in the American body, to weaken it, and he wants to divide the American people itself between enemies of Islam and the Muslims, and those who fight for us, so that he doesn’t treat all American people as if they’re the same.
Seems pretty clear to me: Osama, Al-Jazeera, Al-Qal'a and Memri all agree on the same meaning of the words in question. The threat is real and should be reported as such.

UPDATE: Commenter John Mann objects to my reference to his characterization of Memri & their translation. In response, here are his original words:
MEMRI is a Zionist-slanted organization which will say anything at all to make Arabs look bad
The complete discussion is available in the comments section.


Easier Said....

John Kerry:

pledged anew to “destroy, capture, kill Osama bin Laden and all of the terrorists.
Did the Dems of 1945 ever finish capturing all the Nazis who fled to S. America?

Some jobs are easier said than done.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


The Blogs They Are A' Changin' ... Us!

Q: Why does Bush poll so much better in the US than worldwide?
A: Cuz the US has more, and more influential, blogs.

Two-thirds of Americans already do online research before making a major purchase. Why wouldn't we expect some of those to do the same before voting for president?

Women use it for research

The AOL/BWN study found that 84 percent of women say the Internet saves them time in every aspect of their lives. Nearly all (96 percent) of the women surveyed have researched products online
Men listen to it
Ages 18 to 54 with Two Thirds Men Internet Radio Listeners
Kids prefer it over TV!
The study looked specifically at the habits of people aged between 9 and 17 and found that nearly two thirds, 63 percent, prefer the Internet to TV and 55 percent rate the Internet above the telephone for communicating.
To be sure, there are also pro-Dem blogs, but they mostly recycle MSM talking points and preach to the choir. The Pro-Bush and balanced blogs are the new element in the equation, the one that makes a difference.

As for the MSM itself, it's in open decline, exemplified by the 50% per capita drop in newspaper readership over the last generation. Its credibility is sinking even faster: Dan Rather's TANGy hit piece, which would have been an effortless success ten years ago, is instead the butt of late-night jokes.

Modern liberalism should enjoy its world-opinion rankings for now. As the rest of the globe adopts the new technology, that same world will inevitably adopt the new attitudes, too.

Friday, October 29, 2004


Mork & Mindy In The Middle East

Remember Mork & Mindy? The comic premise was that Mork was an alien who only knew Earth from what he had learned from television. Now we have a real-life example - the latest "Osama" video. Consider the F911 style of the points covered:

In his address just four days ahead of the US presidential election, bin Ladin also said the US administration resembled "corrupt" Arab governments.
He said the United States has dropped millions of tonnes of bombs on Iraqi children, just for the sake of replacing an old agent with a new one to plunder Iraqi oil wealth.
"God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind,"
"It appeared to him [Bush] that a little girl's talk about her goat and its butting was more important than the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers. That gave us three times the required time to carry out the operations, thank God," he said.
All of which explains why the tape is so culturally clumsy and (for the terrorists) counter-productive. The ME really believes CBS, NYT & F911, and thinks that Americans do too. Just like Mork.


OBL Video or Al-Jazeera Production? No Matter.

Al-Jazeera (a.k.a. the Islamist propaganda and part-time collaborators network) has just released the purported latest rantings of Osama Bin Laden, just in time for it to be an October Surprise. A partial transcript in English is already available here.

"We decided to destroy towers in America," bin Laden said, referring to the World Trade Center, which were brought down on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Your security is not in the hands of [Democratic candidate John] Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands," bin Laden said.

"To the U.S. people, my talk is to you about the best way to avoid another disaster," he said. "I tell you: Security is an important element of human life and free people do not give up their security."

Questions remain - expect this part to grow exponetially in importance over the next few hours - as to the video's authenticity, as much of the dialogue has the translator's voice alone, allowing no means to verify the translation.

But it doesn't matter. The videotape is devastating to the Kerry camp whether it's by OBL or not:
  1. If OBL didn't create it, then who? Why, Al-Jazeera, of course! Not much wiggle room for Kerry there. What can he say? "al-Jazeera loves me, but we haven't heard from OBL yet!"

  2. If it's later proven to be an al-Jazeera fake, then OBL is probably dead; score that one for Bush, too.

  3. Regardless, it brings the whole issue of terrorism to the forefront. This is Bush's bread-and-butter issue this election, and if OBL is alive, it re-emphasizes the danger.

  4. It underscores that AQ has not been able to pull off another 9-11 since then.

  5. The tape itself, as some have noted, is also something of an invitation to negotiate! OBL (and/or al-Jazeera) are essentially going straight to the American people and suing for peace. I'm not naive enough to think it's a sincere offer, but it does indicate they are looking for time to regroup, which itself means they're hurting and they know it.
The video hurts Kerry seven ways to Sunday, regardless of whether it's by OBL or by al-Jazeera. Either way, how can he rebut it?

UPDATE: Drudge has a partial transcript available, too. The more I read it, the more it looks to me like it was written by a westernized partisan hack, not an Islamic terrorist leader; the style is completely different from OBL's earlier pronouncements. My own bet is that it will eventually turn out ot be an Al-Jazeera effort, in whole or in part.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


The Russians Are Coming - With A Truck!

This blockbuster story was just released by the Washington Times:

Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned.

John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.
Officials believe the Russians also can explain what happened to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.
If true, the story is devastating to Kerry as it completely undermines his entire approach to the war of working with the Security Council and the rest of the UN. Work with Russia? They were arming Saddam in the first place and helping him fight the war!

Was it Bush's plan to release this story all along? Or only if he felt the election were still close enough for litigation? (Please, not again!) In any event, it's out there now, and masterfully preceded by an MSM furor over some 300-400 tons of weaponry that US Forces may or may not have been secured properly after capturing it.

That story has rapidly been disproven, but Kerry is running a campaign commercial based on it, nonetheless, which makes it almost impossible to ignore this sensational followup a day later, one that may also include the release of confirming surveillance photos.

My question is this: did Russia get a heads-up that this was coming? Putin is a kinda sorta ally. He makes no secret of his preference for a Bush presidency, nor of his disdain for Kerry. But it was also his government that helped Saddam. How much control does Putin really have as he tries to clean up the endemic corruption there?

We'll know soon enough. If Putin knew this was coming, he'll already have lined up his worst internal enemies as scapegoats and he'll leverage the whole affair to purge himself of a few more rivals. It will be swift and public. If he didn't know this was coming, he's gonna have to eat the blame himself. I'm betting on the former, but we'll see.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Sleepwalking Through Surgery

Megan McCardle, currently guest-blogging at Instapundit, asks a good question: why does the medical profession overwork its interns?

I have no patience with the way hospitals work their interns and residents. I've never heard a good explanation for why we want our junior medicos, who provide a lot of our front-line care, in a state of perpetual exhaustion; most revolve around the utterly unconvincing idea that they somehow need to learn to work under pressure, as if they were all going to be disaster-relief doctors. After a few weeks, older doctors assure me, they learn how to cope.
She eventually concludes it's done because they are such cheap labor, which is true, but I think there's a social factor at play, as well.

I think it's also an important rite of passage. They're being indoctrinated to be doctors, and there's a lot of pride in that, and maybe a bit of tribalism too. Becoming a doctor should be seen as difficult; it justifies the prestige and wealth of the position, and instills a sense of pride and purpose in those who achieve it. They'll be all the more proud of their accomplishment, and presumably devoted to their profession, for having busted a gut to get there. And the the rest of us will accept it that way, too.

Could we accomplish the same thing without putting exhausted rookies in charge of life or death situations? Of course, and I think we should. But we won't get there without first understanding why we've got the system we've already got, and the rite of passage is a part of it.


Arafat Near Death?

Irony of ironies (ok, not really): Yasser Arafat, the man who, more than any other, has created the modern-day suicide bomber, looks set to die in his bed of old age.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, 75, has lost consciousness, Israeli public radio reported, quoting Palestinian sources
I hope there is a hell.


Maybe They Were A Member Before They Weren't?

From the Opinion Journal:

In a December 2003 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Kerry said that in 2002, "I sat with the French and British, Germans, with the entire Security Council." Problem is, Germany didn't become a member of the Security Council until 2003.
The man is a serial fibber.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


The Danger Of The Last Few Days

As I have posted before, I have always been concerned that the closeness of the polls is an important factor in dissuading terrorist attackson the US this election season; the terrorists run the risk of electoral blowback, and could potentially cost Kerry a victory he might have won anyway.

But of late, two developments coincide to raise my concerns even higher:

  1. Bush has developed a stubborn 3-5 point lead in the polls. Latest rumors even have Kerry, in effect, giving up on Florida in order to marshall those resources elesewhere.

  2. A Washington Times article detailing how the terrorists are openly declaring that their goal in ratcheting up the violence is to embarrass Bush and cost him the election. They apparently feel that Kerry would be more plable to their wishes.
    Resistance leader Abu Jalal boasted that the mounting violence had already hurt Mr. Bush's chances.

    "American elections and Iraq are linked tightly together," he told a Fallujah-based Iraqi reporter. "We've got to work to change the election, and we've done so. With our strikes, we've dragged Bush into the mud."
Ok, put it all together and what have you got? Bush looks like he'll win, and the terrorists will have nothing to lose by trying a Madrid-style attack on the US before the election.

If I were Bush, I'd be worried about this. So much so that I'd explicitly warn people to be even more careful now, specifically on the basis of the terrorists' own statements that they want to ensure a Bush defeat and a Kerry victory. The terrorists are therefore likely to try to duplicate their Spanish success and the next few days are the time they will have to do it.

Monday, October 25, 2004


Measuring The Rise Of Cyber-Extortion

How prevalent is cyber-extortion? Let's put some numbers to it:

Alan Paller, director of research for security organisation SANS, said today that online extortion was rife and that cybercrime was set to get worse.

"Six or seven thousand organisations are paying online extortion demands," said Paller on Friday at the SANS Institute's Top 20 Vulnerabilities conference. "The epidemic of cybercrime is growing. You don't hear much about it because it's extortion and people feel embarrassed to talk about it."

"Every online gambling site is paying extortion," Paller claimed. "Hackers use DDoS [denial-of-service] attacks using botnets to do it. Then they say 'pay us $40 thousand or we'll do it again'."
"Applications breaking after patching is the operating system vendor's fault," he said. "They tell developers to build applications on unprotected systems. But the other half of the game is that application vendors should have to test their products on safer systems..."
"They tell developers to build applications on unprotected systems!" I.e. it can be secure or it can work; but it can't be both.

All of which means there is no solution coming in the foreseeable future. This problem is gonna get a lot worse before it gets better.


The First Lie Is The Hardest

John Kerry made cooperation with France, Germany et al the centerpiece of his foreign policy, as described by Mr. Kerry himself when he said this:

“Secondly, I spent a lot of time before the vote looking at this issue. I went up to the United Nations at the request of some friends. And I met with the entire Security Council in a room just like this at a table like this. I spent two hours with them. (inaudible), just me and the Security Council, asking them questions. The French ambassador, “Is there a time when President Chirac would be ready to come on board? What do we need to do to move the French people to a place where they understand the stakes? Are you prepared to spend money? Do you believe we might have to use force in order to disarm Saddam Hussein? At what point would you be ready to do that?” I went through that with all of them. And I left there convinced that the U.N. was prepared to be deadly serious about this.”
Yet today the Washington Times reports:
no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.
But of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.
OK, so he's caught in an awfully barefaced lie. What's interesting is that Kerry has told this tale many times already.

Note the dates:

John Kerry, speaking to the United States Senate, 9 October 2002 --
John Kerry, speaking to the Boston Globe, 10 December 2003 --15 months
John Kerry, speaking to campaign rallies as reported in the New Yorker, 19 July 2004 --8 months
John Kerry, speaking to the Unity: Journalists of Color Conference, 5 August 2004 --1 month
5. John Kerry, speaking to the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, 26 September 2004 --1 month

This list is probably not exhaustive, but the pattern seems clear: try it out and see if the mainstream media will call you on it. If not, forge ahead. It gets easier every time.


DNA: a complex volume

From The Speculist

Ten years ago most genetic scientists thought that the human genome consisted of 100,000 or more genes.
After further analysis, scientists in the U.S., Asia, and Europe announced this week that the estimate of functioning human genes is only 20,000 to 25,000.
This is good news. If finding the cause of a genetic disease were like finding a needle in a haystack, the size of the haystack is only 25% of the size we thought it was a decade ago.
I hope the Speculist is right, but have my doubts that this will simplify things quite as much as hoped.

If creating a human only takes one-fourth as many genes as previously thought, then the interrelationships between those genes (and/or the physical characteristics they inspire) must be correspondingly more complex.

Many genes will have one-to-one relationships to specific undesirable conditions, but many others will depend on increasingly complex interactions. To be honest, I would have preferred more genes and simpler relationships; volume scales better than complexity.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


A Tale Of Two Candidates

What happened when Maria Parra, the Dem congressional candidate in northeast Indiana panicked and could not take the stage to face her Republican opponent, Mark Souder?

One cracked under pressure. The other showed grace.

A case of stage fright sent Democrat Maria Parra off a TV stage Thursday, abruptly ending what would have been her only debate with Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd.

“I’m not used to being in front of the camera. … I couldn’t get my words out. I was just overwhelmed,” she said after the aborted debate, which was being taped at WPTA and which would have been aired this weekend. The matchup has not been rescheduled and is not likely to be.
Now consider the way each of them responded afterward:

In the first attempt to tape the debate, Parra did not make it through her opening statement before leaving the set. Observers were asked to leave the room, and the taping began again. Souder and Parra made their opening statements, and Souder responded to a question about health care from the moderator. When Parra was given a minute to respond, instead she left her seat, saying, “I can’t do this. I just can’t do this. I’m sorry.”Souder said it’s common for inexperienced candidates to be nervous in front of cameras and during a debate.

He said that’s why candidates usually only spar over issues during debates rather than making personal comments.

But Parra, before taking off her microphone and leaving the TV set, called Souder “an embarrassment” and said his performance in Congress was “do little, do nothing, do damage.”In a separate interview, Souder said ending the debate prematurely isn’t “a commentary on her knowledge of issues, in particular. I believe she was just very nervous.”

I sympathize with Parra's stage fright & all, but as for her response afterward ... well, which candidate would you trust to represent you under pressure? The one who calls names, or the one who graciously excuses their opponent?


Karzai Wins Outright

Despite what appear to be pro-forma complaints of irregularities by the losing candidates, Afghanistan's first election ever has been a stunning success.

Hamid Karzai clinched a majority of the votes cast in Afghanistan's first presidential election, near-complete results showed Sunday.
By Sunday evening, Karzai had received 4,240,041 votes, more than half of the estimated 8,129,935 valid votes cast in the Oct. 9 ballot, the joint U.N.-Afghan electoral board said.
Victory would make him Afghanistan's first popularly chosen leader
U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said the panel met with election observers, some of whom have already said they saw nothing on polling day to invalidate the result...
"The efforts of terrorists will be fruitless because the Afghan people are determined to continue on the path of reconstruction, democracy and stability," he [Karzai] said in a statement.
His real work now will be to keep progress in line with expectations.


Meet Me In Paris, John

As the campaigns head down the straight...

Democratic presidential nominee and Vietnam War veteran John Kerry tried to burnish his national security credentials on Saturday by vowing to hunt down terrorists with the same energy he used to pursue the Viet Cong.
...but Kerry already has some history in this regard...
[Kerry] openly told Sen. Fulbright's committee in April 1971 that he had traveled to Paris and met with "both sides" to the Paris Peace talks.
There were two Vietnamese communist parties to the Paris Peace talks – these are the "both sides" with whom Kerry met.
Kerry pursued the Viet Cong, alright, all the way to Paris for secret negotiations and a glass of red wine together.

Friday, October 22, 2004


No News Is UNnatural

In a previous post I referred to Oil-For-Food as "possibly the most underreported scandal ever". Strike the word "possibly."

From The Corner

For anyone who wants to quibble with the notion that the media favor Kerry, consider this: Since January 1, 2004, here are the number of morning and evening news stories and interview segments the networks have devoted to uncovering the growing United Nations Oil for Food program bribery scandal: four.

NBC aired three: a January 15 report by Myers, a July 20 report from Andrea Mitchell, and a Myers story on October 6, when the Duelfer report came out detailing the scam.

ABC aired only one this year: from investigative reporter Brian Ross on April 21, the day the UN announced its own internal probe into the scandal.

But we found CBS has not aired a single story on the scandal
ABC, CBS, and NBC have combined for more than 75 stories on George W. Bush's National Guard Service, more than 50 stories on "skyrocketing" gasoline prices, and hundreds on prison abuse at Abu Ghraib.

All year, Kerry has touted a greater UN and European role in Iraq. Now, those players look like what liberals called "the coalition of the bribed." And the anchormen are keeping quiet.
And they wonder why they're being replaced?


Dowd: Dems Giving Up On Kerry

Maureen Dowd is a bellwether of the Left:

Dowd: Dems Already Looking Past Kerry to Hillary

While they still intend to vote for John Kerry, many Democrats are already resigned to his defeat and are looking forward to Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy in 2008, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said Thursday.

"I know a lot of Democrats I've talked to are really resigned," Dowd told radio host Don Imus. "They've sort of moved on in their heads to Hillary in 2008."

While the acerbic writer continues to fight the good fight on the Times op-ed page - bashing Bush with her trademark venom and hoping the charges stick - Dowd's off-the-cuff observations suggest she's given up on Kerry as well.

"Kerry's problem seems to be a Gore-like problem," she complained. "He's a loser even when he's winning."


Gore On A Mission


OK, but which party sent him?

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Breaking For The Challenger?

Time was, conventional wisdom held that undecideds broke to the incumbent, the devil they knew. Lately, though, the media have been saying it's the other way around, that incumbents break for the challenger. The new rationale is that, if the undecideds had a favorable opinion of the incumbent to begin with, well, they wouldn't have been undecideds, would they? They were self-selected to break the other way.

The media cite a few stats in that regard that on their surface look good. The stats generally show that, indeed, challengers poll better on election day than they did in the nearest polls.

But their samplings are very limited; a handful of recent presidential elections, at most. So I grabbed the data from the 2002 elections, available at Survey USA and ran the numbers myself.

Indeed it's true. Of 18 elections for Governor, the Senate, or the House, where an incumbent ran, the incumbents lost ground to the challenger as compared to the nearest previous poll. It wasn't a lot on average - a fraction of a point - but it was there. Score one for the media.

Except ... I then ran the numbers by party, which tells a different story.

On average, Dem incumbents lost 3.9 points, whereas GOP incumbents, in their own election races, gained an average of 3.2 points.

If we just look at the direction of the move, ignoring its size, we see a similar pattern. Dem incumbents had an overall record of 2-5-1; i.e. they gained ground (basis the nearest previous poll) in 2 elections, lost in 5, and broke even on the other. GOP incumbents, for their part, had an overall record of 8-2.

The "Undecideds Break To The Challenger" theory does not explain this. A better explanation is that pollsters have, by design or by error, underpolled Republican support and overpolled Democratic. It is very hard to avoid this conclusion.

The recent historical era has been one where Republican challengers have won control of the House, Senate and Presidency. If undecided voters have been supporting the challenger lately, it appears to be - at least, based on the most recent results from 2002 - because that challenger was Republican.

UPDATE: Here's the data used in this analysis.
Abs=Absolute change for the candidate relative to last prior poll;
R-Net=Net Chg for the Republican relative to opponent;
DI-Net=Net Chg For Dem Incumbent relative to opponent;
RI-Ne=Net Chg For Rep Incumbent relative to opponent.

CA GovSimonR394230
CA GovDavis *D454830
CO SenateAllard *R5051111
CO SenateStricklandD46460
FL GovBush *R5156588
FL GovMcBrideD4643-3
IL SenateDurkinR363823
IL SenateDurbin *D6160-1-3
IA GovDrossR424536
IA GovVilsack *D5653-3-6
IA SenateGanskeR3844612
IA SenateHarkin *D6054-6-12
KY SenateMcConnell *R6664-2-9-9
KY SenateWienbergD29367
KY CongressNorthup *R4952333
KY CongressConwayD48480
KY CongressDavisR464822
KY CongressLucas *D51510-2
MO SenateTalentR49490-3
MO SenateCarnahan *D475033
NV GovGuinn *R636851111
NV GovNealD2822-6
NY GovPataki *R4749211
NY GovMcCallD32331
NY GovGolisanoI1715-2
OH GovTaft *R5758122
OH GovHaganD3938-1
OK SenateInhofe *R5357433
OK SenateWalterD36371
OK CongressSullivan *R56560-1-1
OK CongressDoodD41421
OK CongressPharaohR25261-1
OK CongressCarson *D727421
SC GovSanfordR4653712
SC GovHodges *D5247-5-12
TX GovPerry *R5358588
TX GovSanchezD4340-3

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Where's Al-Waldo?

From the ever prolific Brothers Judd: Beep Beep Beep Boom

Pakistani Forces Pound Alleged Hideout
WANA, Pakistan - About 1,000 Pakistani soldiers backed by helicopter gunships, mortars and artillery Wednesday pounded a mountainous region near the Afghan border where a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers is believed to be hiding.
The strategy of secretly implanting GPS transmitters in these guys at Gitmo and then releasing them appears to be working.
Yes, and whether it's true or not, you gotta wonder what sort of reception a released terrorist would get when he tries to catch up on old times with the gang.


What It Takes

Captains Quarter's takes note of the UN's ability to handle Iraq during its reconstruction:

So the same countries that have been screaming for the UN to take over the administration and rebuilding of Iraq, and who have castigated the Bush administration for insisting on remaining in charge, won't lift a finger to support and protect the UN mission which they demanded. I'm shocked, shocked! to find such hypocrisy at the United Nations, as I'm sure everyone will be.

Had we given up the command of the adminstration and rebuilding, it's now clear that we still would have had to supply all or nearly all of the security forces needed in Iraq. The only difference would be that the mission would be commanded by the same UN that allowed Saddam to fleece billions of dollars from their so-called humanitarian program instead of the US, and we'd likely be looking at another Kosovo -- where we have sat in the same status quo for over five years without a hint of resolution, or even an agreed goal for which to work.
What he said.


Jennings Quote Of The Day

From ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings, comes this:

"“I’m a little concerned about this notion everybody wants us to be objective,” Jennings said.
With thanks to


To Mock A Soldier's Death

Would you make fun of a dying soldier, and openly mock their sacrifice? Some people already do: Kos & Atrios, both heavy-duty Dem supporters, have created Blogpac. Its purpose is to present the Left's point of view and their first effort is an attempt to perpetuate the draft scare, via a website called Enjoy The Draft, now being picked up by Dem echo-chamber sites elsewhere.

Here's what that view looks like, with a bit of their own sample commentary included:

"I look hot in a black body
bag, and I don't even work out."

I wonder how the families of those in Iraq feel about this? Or the families of those who died?

Now if you ask the site's creators, they might just tell you it's a "protest" against the war. But that wouldn't be the case. No, this would be a Kerry Campaign website by proxy, run by some of the largest Dem advocates on the Web. The purpose of it has nothing to do with protest, and everything to do with using scare tactics to win votes.

Here's a sample quote they use to make their point:

"I made it very plain. We will not have an all-volunteer army." - George W. Bush, 10/16/04
But, what they don't tell you is that Bush, in the very next breath, corrected himself:
"Let me restate that," he continued. "We will not have a draft."
I find it strange that I, a Canadian, now know more about the US military's staffing plans than do many Americans. I can only conclude that the constant pounding of draft scares and disinformation are taking their toll, and that's a shame. Young people especially need to know the truth: that these rumors, put out by the Dems via their friends in the media, have been systematically disproven, one by one.

As always, you are welcome to review some of those previous rumors, including the recent Democratic attempt to legislate a reinstatement of the draft, by checking out my previous posts on the subject here and here.

Kos & Atrios should be ashamed of themselves, if that's possible.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Drafting Rumors

Just when you thought the Big Bad Draft Rumor, having been fully discredited, was dead, the Dems are bringing it back to life. Not to worry though, this latest incarnation is as bogus as its predecessors (and I got links to prove it!)

  • The Rumor: A draft specifically aimed at skilled technicians and medical personnel is in the works.

  • The Reality: The SSS floated a proposal a year and a half ago, saying that it would make a good target list of people to approach for voluntary recruitment. The SSS lives on the edge of bureaucratic oblivion and has had to fight before to keep itself alive; this proposal seems to have been more of the same.

    In it they also said that in times of emergency - possibly military, but they were emphasizing civilian disasters at that point - it would be a good thing for government agencies to have access to such a list.

    In February, 2003 it was duly floated to the appropriate people at the Department of Defense, but went nowhere.
Ok, for those who want a little more detail, here it is, sigh (but don't make me do this again!):

The SSS, aka the Selective Service System, under housekeeping legislation passed by Clinton, registers Americans for potential military service. Clinton faced a choice at the time: either deep-six the SSS permanently, cuz it wasn't needed anymore, or keep it around just in case. He decided to keep it around, and the Service have been maintaining their database ever since.

But it is once again fearing a challenge to its existence. Far from a draft being imminent, the SSS is apparently still worried that they will become obsolete. New president, same bureaucratic concern. So, under their Acting Director at the time, Lewis Brodsky, they floated a proposal:
[February, 2003]
However, the Secretary of Defense and Department of Defense manpower officials have stated recently that a draft will not be necessary for any foreseeable crisis. They assume that sufficient fighting capability exists in today's "all-volunteer" active and reserve Armed Forces for likely contingencies, making a conventional draft of untrained manpower somewhat obsolete.
while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical [technical] skills may be warranted in a future crisis, if too few volunteer.
While the database's "worst-case" use might be to draft such personnel into military or homeland security assignments during a national mobilization, its very practical peacetime use could be to support recruiting and direct marketing campaigns aimed at recruiting skilled personnel to volunteer for community or military service opportunities and to consider applying for hard-to-fill public sector jobs. Local government agencies could also tap this data base to locate nearby specialists for help with domestic crises and emergency situations.
The SSS would thus play a more vital, relevant, and immediate role in shoring up America's strength and readiness in peace and war.
Thus did the SSS, a year and a half ago, seek to make itself relevant enough to be kept around a little longer.

This is no small matter to them, and in April, 2004 Brodsky, on his retirement, was lauded for his efforts in that regard:
Brodsky also demonstrated his leadership by providing the Congress with compelling rationale that argued for Agency survival during federal downsizing and severe budget reductions. Further, by working personally and diligently with top officials throughout the Executive branch, Brodsky ensured that the SSS remained in business to serve America. For his many achievements with the Agency, Brodsky was awarded the SSS Distinguished Service Award with Gold Medal
And, at the end of it all, your big question is probably ... how was the proposal received? Well, here's what was reported in May, 2004, over a year after it was first floated:
Dan Amon, a spokesman for the Selective Service System, based in Arlington, Va., said that the Pentagon has taken no action on the proposal to expand draft registration.

"These ideas were only being floated for Department of Defense consideration," Amon said. He described the proposal as "food for thought" for contingency planning.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, said the Pentagon "has not agreed to, nor even suggested, a change to Selective Service's current missions."
Next rumor, please.


Why Haven't Terrorists Struck The US Again?

Why Haven't Terrorists Struck The US again, since 9-11? I mean, big attacks, like the original.

Homeland Security was given an impossible task: protect the entire US from a band of suicidal fanatics who were already in the country, had been building their infrastructure for years, organized themselves into discrete hard-to-track cells, and had political support elsewhere in the world who also provided funding. They could strike anywhere: schools, bridges, power plants, traffic jams ... anywhere.

Yet the record since then is one of near-perfection. I think Homeland Security is probably doing a very good job overall, but perfection? That's too good to be true, so what else factors in?

Here's three theories; each comes with its own caveat:

Theory 1. Terrorists are not as freelance as they make themselves out to be. They are state-sponsored killers, and their sponsors - Iran, for example - are intimidated by the presence of US troops on their border. Fearing retaliation, they have called off the dogs for now.

Caveat 1: As soon as Iran gets nukes, they will be able to attack Iraq, finance terrorism, create suitcase nukes for terrorists, or do pretty much whatever they want with near-impunity.

Theory 2. The War On Terror (including Afghanistan and Iraq) has broken up the central bases and support systems that made large-scale terrorism possible. It may be hard for investigators to follow a trail from one cell to another, but it is equally hard for the terrorists themselves to coordinate their efforts. Their cells are limited to about 75-100 people, staffed mostly with amateur fanatics, and isolated from each other. They need a central coordinating base to be effective (interestingly, "Al Qaeda" is Arabic for "The Base").

Caveat 2: Allowing the terrorists to relocate to safe havens elsewhere will bring back more 9-11's. The terrorists have the will to destroy as much of the West as possible; they only lack the means.

Theory 3. Removing Afghanistan and especially Iraq from the ledger of terrorist supporters has crimped terrorist financing below a certain threshold, forcing the terrorists to cut back on operations. This is amplified by GWOT efforts to track down and eliminate terrorist financing worldwide.

Caveat 3: Funding can be replaced. As long as there are organized, supported terrorist groups, it's only a matter of time till they strike again. The West cannot play perfect defence forever in hopes of a scoreless tie.

You can assign a relative importance to each of the above, vary the weightings, ignore some or all of the theories, but the central question always remains: why haven't they been able to strike a second time?

Monday, October 18, 2004


Dated Kerry; Married Bush

Bush goes with his gut; Kerry analyzes nuance. These all-or-nothing statements are exaggerations, of course, because each of us actually uses both approaches. But the idea does capture the relative styles of the two candidates.

Then why, liberals wonder, would voters prefer Bush? Surely the anaytical approach is better, they say.

Be honest, who would you rather marry: the one who loves you unconditionally, or the one who determines, all things considered, that marrying you might be a prudent course of action, at present, considering the complexities?

I think the voters have more trust in Bush because of his emotional commitment, and worry that, logically, Kerry could take pretty much any position on any day (and they may be right), whereas Bush loves America unconditionally.

"Neuropsychologists have found that if the emotional decision-making areas of the brain are extremely damaged then decision making becomes impossible. Effectively, the unfortunate individuals afflicted by this problem make endless plans but seem to be incapable of choosing which they wish to follow." [John Mauldin]
Now, before anyone gets carried away, I should point out that I'm not saying Kerry is brain-damaged or anything like that; I detest the childish brand of politics. Rather, I'm noting a principle here: that when we are too analytical, too divorced from our emotions, all paths look logically equal because we have no basis on which to discriminate between them.

Kerry is like that to a much greater extent than is the average person. Bush is Kerry's opposite. And deep down, people prefer being unconditionally loved.


Compare and Contrast

From Afghanistan:

"Finally the day has arrived. I am so happy, it's like a dream. I feel that we are finally human," said Zahooba, a toothless old woman of 65 who walked half an hour on shaky legs to the polling station to cast her vote
From Florida:
a group of labor unions sued over the ballot law, saying that it unconstitutionally disenfranchised voters who may not know their polling place.


Politics In A Poem

Prayer (to the sun above the clouds)

Sun that givest all things birth
Shine on everything on earth!

If that's too much to demand
Shine at least on this our land

If even that's too much for thee
Shine at any rate on me

-- Piet Hein

Sunday, October 17, 2004


Even Sully Holds Off

Andrew Sullivan was once a Bush supporter until the whole gay marriage debate completely reprogrammed his neural net. He's been rabidly anti-Bush ever since. For example: "...Bush's cabinet is actually a royal court, in which criticism is simply treachery." Yeah sure, Andrew, that's why he sacked Colin Powell ... except he never has. Bush, if anything, never sacks anyone, which kinda kills your argument.

But no matter, that argument isn't what this post is about. The real point here is that Sully - as anti-Bush these days as anyone on the Left - had this to say about the election:

despite the assertions of others to the contrary, I haven't endorsed Kerry
Telling, isn't it?

You know, other than from his fellow Massachusetts senator (Ted Kennedy), Kerry never got a single endorsement from another US Senator until after he'd won New Hampshire and his Dem counterparts pretty much had no choice but to go with him. 20 years in the Senate and only one friend.

Bush has political enemies, for sure. But he also has friends; Kerry doesn't. How can such a man ever hope to build the coalitions he speaks of? When even the febrile anti-Bush crowd has to pause and say, "but as for Kerry, I'm still not sure," you really gotta figure the Dems nominated the worst possible candidate.


Canada's Revolutionary Voting Technology

The move back to paper ballots is long overdue. If you wanna do it on a computer and print a receipt, well ok. But really, can you beat that wood-pulp technology?

Florida vote canvassers, take note. Within four hours after the last polls closed in Canada's parliamentary election, officials at 50,000 polling stations had hand-counted virtually every one of nearly 13 million paper ballots. There were glitches, to be sure -- an angry voter seized a ballot box in Nova Scotia and threw it into a polluted lagoon. But overall, Canada's federal elections system, which uses no counting machines, had a smooth Election Night.
There were 60,728 polling stations involved.


Kofi Capone

Top UN Poobah Kofi Annan says that the US invasion of Iraq didn't make the world any safer.

Kofi, you despicable man. You let hundreds of thousands die in Rwanda, Bosnia and elsewhere while you were busy pocketing Oil-For-Food bribes from Saddam. Your comments are like hearing Al Capone say that law enforcement didn't make Chicago any safer.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


A Voter's Yes/No Guide To Bush vs. Kerry

This post is a simple series of yes/no questions. There are no right or wrong answers.

These questions are used because otherwise it is very easy to “spin,” even to ourselves. I believe that properly-framed yes/no questions help to focus the issues; the answers are much harder to fudge. Feel free to skip any question, or simply to answer, “I dunno.”

About me: I am a Canadian, as it happens, with no vested interest whatsoever in the election outcome. Nor have I ever joined nor worked for any political party. I follow politics purely out of interest and found myself frustrated by the low fact/fluff ratio that I saw; thus this post. Vote as you please, but vote knowing why.

Links and references have been provided on each topic for those who wish to investigate further.

Terrorist Intentions: Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center were planned many years in advance, going back at least as far as the Clinton Administration. The terrorists themselves openly seek a holy war in which all infidels (non-Muslims) will be conquered or killed. However, some commentators have claimed that the US could have prevented the attacks had it pursued a more conciliatory policy towards Islamic countries beforehand.

Question: Do you believe the terrorists were going to attack the US anyway?
Yes or No _______
Al Qaeda will wait years to act and decades to succeed," Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. prosecutor who has been investigating Osama bin Laden for about a decade, told the Sept. 11 commission this summer. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, admitted to U.S. officials that the planning began in 1996. Mohammed said the plan, first developed in 1996, called for hijacking five planes on each American coast, but was changed several times as al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden sought to improve the chances that the attacks could be pulled off simultaneously.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, has told American interrogators that he first discussed the plot with Osama bin Laden in 1996
documents showing a Philippine police report about the terrorist plot of September 11, 2001 that was given to the FBI in 1995

Oil-For-Food:Possibly the most underreported scandal ever, Oil-For-Food is relevant to the American voter because it is at the heart of the arguments over how to have handled Iraq.

The basics of the scandal are simple. After the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq was beaten, so in 1996, out of humanitarian concerns for its people, Oil-For-Food was begun. It was intended to be a humanitarian program, whereby Saddam could sell oil, but only use the proceeds for feeding Iraq’s people instead of rearming his military.The program was administered by the UN (United Nations).

To make a long story short, it was completely corrupt. Saddam used the money to bribe politicians, journalists and other opinion leaders worldwide. The amounts involved are staggering: Enron is just a drop in the bucket by comparison. This corruption is important because the alternative to invading Iraq was to rely on the UN to contain him for as long as was necessary.

Question: Do believe the UN would have been able to successfully contain Saddam indefinitely?
Yes or No _______
The report said, "Saddam was able to subvert the UN OFF (oil-for-food) program to generate an estimated $1.7 billion in revenue outside U.N. control from 1997-2003.",2933,132832,00.html
It began as a U.N. humanitarian aid program called "Oil-for-Food," but it ended up with Saddam Hussein (search) pocketing billions to become the biggest graft-generating machine ever

A monstrous dictator was able to turn the Oil-for-Food program into a cash cow for himself and his inner circle, leaving Iraqis further deprived as he bought influence abroad and acquired the arms and munitions that coalition forces discovered when they invaded Iraq last spring.

Saddam’s WMDs:Saddam Hussein did indeed have WMDs, primarily chemical; that fact has never actually been in dispute. The real question is when did he have them? And did he destroy all of them before the invasion? Both sides acknowledge that Saddam retained the capability of creating WMDs, and intended to do so as soon as the heat was off. Critics of the WMD justification, however, claim Saddam voluntarily destroyed all his existing WMDs before the war, and that sanctions could have kept him from restarting those programs. Others, who disagree, think he hid them, perhaps in neighboring Syria, which also had/has a Baathist government, and/or that he would have easily circumvented future UN inspections in order to restart his programs, the basics of which were still in place.

Question: Do you believe Saddam voluntarily destroyed all his existing WMDs?
Yes or No _______

Question: Do you believe Saddam voluntarily destroyed all his existing WMDs?

Question: Do you believe Saddam would have been able to restart his WMD programs?
Yes or No _______
the Baath regime initiated its chemical warfare on the Kurds in 1988
Before the Gulf War, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein conducted a campaign of suppression in the 1980s against the Kurd people living in northern Iraq, including a March 1988 poison gas attack in Halabja, Iraq, in which an estimated 5,000 Kurds were killed.
Saddam believed his use of chemical weapons against Iran prevented Iraq’s defeat in that war. He also was prepared to use such weapons in 1991 if the U.S.-led coalition had tried to topple him in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
1992-94: United Nations Commission's Destruction Group destroys large amounts of tabun, sarin and mustard agents1995: Iraq claims it has reduced amount of mustard gas and abandons program to produce VX nerve agent

Saddam and 9-11: Saddam Hussein had numerous contacts with terrorists, and often provided shelter and support within Iraq for various terrorists with whom he worked. Saddam also courted the Islamic movements. For example, he prominently claimed to have had a copy of the Koran written in his own blood, as a display of his faith. He also made substantial public payments (approx. US$25,000) to the families of Islamic suicide bombers, as a reward for each bomber’s service.However, the question still remains whether or not he was personally involved in 9-11 planning and execution. No definitive proof exists that he either did, or did not, participate in that attack, regardless of his known connections to Al Qaeda and others.

Question: Do you believe Saddam was directly involved in the terrorists’ operational planning for 9-11?
Yes or No _______

Question: Do you believe Saddam would have attacked the US if he could?
Yes or No _______

Question: Do you believe Saddam was a threat to Americans?
Yes or No _______
The Czechs have long maintained that Atta, leader of the 9/11 hijackers in the United States, met with Ahmed al-Ani, an Iraqi intelligence official, posted to the Iraqi embassy in Prague
The CIA has confirmed, in interviews with detainees and informants it finds highly credible, that al Qaeda's Number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, met with Iraqi intelligence in Baghdad in 1992 and 1998.
Iraqi defectors had been saying for years that Saddam's regime trained "non-Iraqi Arab terrorists" at a camp in Salman Pak, south of Baghdad. […] Sabah Khodada, a captain in the Iraqi Army, worked at Salman Pak. In October 2001, he told PBS's "Frontline" about what went on there. "Training is majorly on terrorism. They would be trained on assassinations, kidnapping, hijacking of airplanes, hijacking of buses, public buses, hijacking of trains and all other kinds of operations related to terrorism. . . . All this training is directly toward attacking American targets, and American interests.”

The Return Of The Draft?: On January 8th, 2003, 16 members of the House Of Representatives, all Democrats led by Charles Rangel (D-NY), sponsored bill H.R. 163 to bring back the military draft in the US. Some say it was a serious effort; most think they were just grandstanding. Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC), who sponsored a corresponding bill in the Senate, supported them in their efforts.

The House bill was defeated just recently, on October 6th, 2004, when the Republicans forced it to a vote, saying they wanted to make clear to the voters that Republicans were against reinstating the draft (this was important because elections are near), and that rumors to the contrary were just a campaign tactic by the Dems. It soon became apparent the bill could not pass in the face of this opposition and was voted down; ultimately, even the bill’s own sponsors voted against it.

Bush & Kerry have each stated that they do NOT wish to implement a draft (although Kerry does propose mandatory civilian service, a point that sometimes overlaps into military-draft discussions). The US military itself has also stated that it opposes a draft, preferring its current approach of an all-volunteer military.There has also been some activity by the Selective Service. This activity is basically housekeeping, and is done under the GPR Act of 1993, passed by the Clinton Administration, which basically says that Selective Service needs to keep things in running order, whether they’re needed or not.

Question: Do you believe a military draft is necessary?
Yes or No _______

Question: Do you believe a civilian draft is necessary?
Yes or No _______

Question: Would you like to see a draft?
Yes or No _______
To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes
House Republicans leaders forced a floor vote on the issue this week, and then watched with satisfaction as colleagues rejected the idea, 402-2.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are having no trouble recruiting. Through March, all four services combined are at 101 percent of their goal with more than 81,094 new enlistees this year.
…this strategic plan was required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993, which President Bill Clinton signed into law. Basically, this was a reform-minded law aimed at getting all of the government's various agencies to create strategic plans

North Korea:North Korea was, and is, one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world, and appears to be undergoing mass genocide and/or starvation from within. Books will someday be written of the horrors being experienced there at present.

In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton dispatched ex-president Jimmy Carter to negotiate a deal with North Korea designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weaponry. Carter’s deal provided NK with nuclear fuel in return for a promise not to threaten its neighbors or to develop nuclear weapons. North Korea broke its promises rather openly. The exact dates of NK’s development of nuclear weapons are unknown, but in hindsight they were clearly working on such a program all along, and most likely completed the first weapons sometime during 2000 or 2001.

Invading North Korea is probably out of the question; China treats it as a buffer state and would respond accordingly. Worse, Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is only about 50 miles from their common border with the North, and would almost certainly be annihilated in any battle before their defenders could drive back the enemy

Question: Do you believe North Korea is a threat to its neighbors?
Yes or No _______

Question: Do you believe North Korea is a threat to the US?
Yes or No _______
“Clinton's military chief of staff testified in 1998 that North Korea did not have an active ballistic missile program. One week later the North Koreans launched a missile over Japan that landed off the Alaska coast."
North Korea tells the U.S. delegation that it possesses nuclear weapons, according to Boucher on April 28 [2003]—the first time that Pyongyang has made such an admission.
“The U.S. should clearly understand that a preemptive attack is not its monopoly,” North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun said

Iran: In 1979, near the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, an Islamic revolution in Iran toppled the Shah and replaced him with a group of Islamic mullahs. The mullahs then took a group of Americans hostages and held them for over a year, until they were released shortly after Ronald Reagan won the presidency.

The same people remain in charge of Iran to this day and are among the top sponsors of terrorism in the world. Now, as then, they refer to the US as “The Great Satan,” and appear to mean it as more than just rhetoric. Iran was included with Iraq and North Korea in President Bush’s “Axis Of Evil,” and is currently attempting to develop nuclear weapons.

Kerry & Edwards have proposed a deal, similar to the one negotiated by Carter with North Korea in 1994, that would provide Iran with nuclear fuel in return for assurances that they would halt their attempts to develop nuclear weapons, and not use the nuclear material provided for that purpose.

Question: Do you think Iran can be trusted with nuclear material?
Yes or No _______

Question: Do you think the US should supply Iran with nuclear material?
Yes or No _______

Question: If Iran had WMDs today capable of destroying the US, do you think they would use them?
Yes or No _______
During the debate with President Bush Thursday, Kerry remarked that the U.S. should have given Iran the nuclear fuel it wanted.
Tehran would welcome John Kerry's proposal to supply nuclear fuel, Hossein Musavian, the head Iran's Supreme National Security Council's foreign policy committee, announced today.
1979 - Ruhollah Khomeini was viciously anti-American in his rhetoric, denouncing the American government as the "Great Satan" and "enemies of Islam." […]The US President, Jimmy Carter, immediately applied economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran
2002 - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has denounced George W Bush, describing him as the bloodthirsty president of "the Great Satan".

Afghanistan/Bin Laden: Afghanistan had been run by the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group, and was where Osama Bin Laden had found refuge and set up his headquarters. After 9-11, the US invaded this land, deposed the Taliban, and instituted elections, which were held just recently in October 2004.

The elections were an enormous popular success.Most analysts agree the Al Qaeda is now largely a spent force and more of a “brand name” for terrorism than anything else; however, other Islamic terrorist groups worldwide are still a danger.

Question: was bringing democracy to Afghanistan worth the effort?
Yes or No _______

Question: is OBL still alive?
Yes or No _______

Question: : is it more important to pursue other terrorist organizations than it is to track down OBL (presuming he’s still alive)?
Yes or No _______
It was a celebration today. There was a tremendous buzz of excitement at the polling stations.
The largest group of independent poll observers, the Free and Fair Election Foundations of Afghanistan (FEFA) which is made up of 13 local non-governmental organizations, said the vote was fair despite the complaints.
In Kabul, at the end of the day, emotional women told the BBC that it had been the most memorable day in their lives. Some of them were in tears. One old woman said she'd woken up early in the morning and then woke up her sisters saying: "We have to get out to vote. The future of Afghanistan is at stake."

Enabling Democracy In Iraq? :The theory is that democracies are less warlike than dictatorships, This is often illustrated by the rhetorical question: Name a war between two democracies?

Question: Do you believe democracies are less warlike and threatening to the US than are dictatorships?
Yes or No _______

Question: Is it legitimate for the US to topple dictatorships in favor of democracies.
Yes or No _______

Question: Do you believe the upcoming January elections will improve Iraq’s chances of being a peaceful nation in the future?
Yes or No _______
The violence in Iraq will not stop the country's elections from going ahead, as planned, next January, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Sunday. Elections will take place throughout Iraq in January with no exceptions, the interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, and the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, have insisted.

The Economy:During the last presidential election campaign, a recession had already begun; indeed, had it not been so, Al Gore would likely be president today.

Two things then magnified the recession already in progress: the collapse of the dot-com bubble, and the attack on 9-11. 557,000 payroll jobs were lost during year 2001, but before 9/11. This was before Bush's budget priorities and tax cuts could take effect and appear to have been part of the “normal” recession process, wherein weak companies are culled and bad debt is written off. Then, in the 100-day period right after 9/11, over 900,000 additional jobs were lost, many of them directly because of the terror atrocities themselves.

Measuring from August 2001, the economy has recovered all but 28,000 of the payroll jobs it lost due to the recession and to the fallout from 9/11. If you include non-payroll jobs (contractors and self-employment) the economy has grown by 1,850,000 net jobs since Dec. 2000. The unemployment rate of 5.4% is considered low.The downside has been the growth in deficits and debt. At present, neither candidate appears to consider these a priority (they give lip-service only). Bush is a spender. Kerry wants to spend even more.

Question: should government deficits continue to increase under either candidate’s presidency?
Yes or No _______

Question: did 9-11 cause increased job losses?
Yes or No _______,filter.all/pub_detail.asp
our analysis suggests that the Kerry proposals would, if enacted into law, add about $1.7 trillion in new government spending over ten years
Kerry's campaign promises could still hit taxpayers with a $226 billion blow, on top of the 29 percent spending run-up under George W. Bush's term.Based on Kerry's promise to "pay for" every program he has proposed, U.S. taxpayers would each face an average additional $2,206 in higher taxes during Kerry's first year in office, and a cumulative increased tax burden of $6,066 over his first term."By exempting a series of major discretionary categories, Kerry's so-called 'strong' spending caps are actually so porous as to be no more effective than the restraints George W. Bush has sought," Johnson concluded. "In the final analysis, the 'winner' of the 2004 election could very well be the federal deficit


Ignorance Of The Law Is Unavoidable

The EU has some weird rules that only a dictocrat (is that a word?) could love:

In Turkey it’s a crime to mention Armenian genocide. With the entry of Turkey into the EU, and the European arrest warrant, it will be a crime in all of Europe. Thanks to the European arrest warrant, one can be arrested for a crime which is not a crime in his own country, deported to the country where he has been indicted, and tried and jailed there. Although the genocide of Armenians is rarely mentioned, I’ve known about it for a long time. When I was a child a popular novel about it, The Forty Days of Mussa Dagh, was serialised for radio.
Something to think about the next time the Left screams about civil liberties. Honestly now, are you certain you have broken none of the laws of Turkey today? And France? And Germany? And...

UPDATE: Will these new rules also apply to tourists? I would presume so. Therefore, if I visit France, for example, and say something that might conceivably be a crime in Turkey - such as by even mentioning the Armenian Genocide - I can be deported to Turkey for trial? That oughtta improve tourism.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Did Kerry Pass 5 Bills, Or 56?

An excellent post from Cold Hearted Truth:

Last Night the President suggested that John Kerry had written only 5 bills that passed... Kerry suggested 56. Who was right? Well technically neither.

While Kerry may have the semantics of the issue on his side, as 56 of his bills did pass the Senate; truth is that only 11 of those bills actually passed both houses and became law. Of those 11 bills 4 designated special days or weeks with titles... 1 expressed solidarity with a family... 1 renamed a building... and won awarded Jackie Robinson a congressional Gold Medal. Two appropriated funds for existing programs, one amended an existing act, and one reauthorized an existing program...

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Pandora's Feeling A Little Boxed In, These Days

This comes as no surprise:

A recent federal court ruling says the FEC must extend some of the nation's new campaign finance and spending limits to political activity on the Internet.
The Web changes everything about who controls the message and to what purpose. Looks like those who benefit from the old way of doing things are beginning to notice. Expect them to go to the wall in order to rein in the Web, cuz they're really fighting for their own survival. So are we.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Terror On The Web

Sometimes it's not one thing or the other, it's one thing and the other.

Thing 1: This news article here, now making the rounds at a number of Left-wing sites as proof of Bush's failure vs terror:

More than two-thirds of the people living in Australia, Britain and Italy - three countries allied with the United States in the Iraq war - believe the war has increased the threat of terrorism.
Thing 2: Now compare the story above to this one below:
BRITONS are more scared of spiders than terrorist attacks and death, a survey shows.
So, the War On Terror has increased the threat to the point where it's now almost as scary as ... a house spider?

Spiders are good for the earth; terrorists are not. Methinks people actually know this fact quite well, even if hard-rudder pollsters do not.


A Man For All Reasons

If you've got 3-4 minutes and want to understand why John Kerry is not connecting with the voters the way he had hoped to, click here. With a hat tip to Lorie for bringing this to our attention.


A Canadian, A Swede and an EU'er meet in a bar...

It's official: the Afghanistan elecions are settled. Votes are yet to be counted - and that will take a few weeks to collect the ballots from the remote areas and count them all - but Karzai has won.

Hpw do I know? Simple, the opposition knows:

... The panel will comprise a Canadian diplomat, an election specialist from Sweden and a third member yet to be named by the European Union.
Ethnic Tajik candidate Yunus Qanooni has joined several other candidates -- including Haji Mohammed Mohaqeq -- in agreeing to accept the findings of the independent commission.
They'll meet, exchange rolodexes and move on, cuz there's not much more for them to do. This is truly historic, you know.


Qaddafi Switching Sides

"Qaddafi received delegation of Italian Jews Monday to discuss compensation for 6,000 Libyan Jews forced to flee after 1967 War"
Am I the only one who thinks the above is a sign of who's winning? I have no illusions about Qaddafi himself, but it does look more and more like he's switching sides. And that says a lot about how things are really going, overall.


Feminists Consider Criticizing Saudis

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Women may neither vote nor run in Saudi Arabia's first nationwide elections, the government has announced....
How long, now, before feminists groups react with an outrage at least equal to that with which they opposed the War in Iraq? (Don't worry, it's a rhetorical question)


Iraqi forces raid Ramadi mosques

Think about that subject line. Note that it does not say "American forces raid Ramadi mosques."

The times they are a' changin'....

"A statement from the Combined Press Information Center said: "The mosques are suspected of participating in a spectrum of insurgent activity, including harboring known terrorists, storing illegal weapons caches, promoting violence against the Iraqi people and encouraging insurgent recruitment.


The U.S. military said the mosques are considered holy sites and are granted protective status unless they are a being used for militant purposes.
The "unless" part in the last line above has been a long time coming....

UPDATE: The CNN report above has been rewritten on the CNN site. It now places a little more emphasis on the fact that US forces backed up the Iraqi forces who actually carried out the raid:
Iraqi security forces, backed by U.S. Marines and troops [my emphasis], launched a series of raids Tuesday on seven mosques in the central city of Ramadi, the U.S. military said.

"Our participation in these raids has been limited to supporting Iraqi security forces," U.S. Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford said.Iraqi security forces, backed by U.S. Marines and troops, launched a series of raids Tuesday on seven mosques in the central city of Ramadi, the U.S. military said.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Polling The Terrorists To A Standstill?

Four new polls were released today.

  • Zogby shows Kerry leading 47%-44%.
  • Rasmussen has Bush ahead 49%-45%.
  • Gallup gives the lead to Kerry 49%-48%.
  • The Washington Post calls it Bush 51%-46%.
A terrorist, looking to influence the US elections, as was done in Spain, would not know what to do.

Bomb the US, and Americans would be more likely to rally to the president than to abandon him. The terrorists wouldn't want to push the voters to Bush, potentially costing Kerry a victory he might well have achieved anyway.

So they wait, just as they waited in Spain, until just before the election and the polls there showed a solid Aznar lead, before they attacked because they had nothing to lose. Except, this time, the polling shows too close a race to call yet. So they must wait even more.

May they wait forever.


What's In A Word? Quite A Bit, Actually.


Originally from the Kerry-Edwards Campaign, the following has since been removed from their website (which is why I got it from archives instead). Kerry has always allowed himself wiggle-room in his answers to questions of mandatory national service, which is of course just a half-step away from mandatory national military service. But that's not the point of this particular post.

Creating a New Army of Patriots

[...] As part of his 100 day plan to change America, John Kerry will propose a comprehensive service plan that includes requiring mandatory service [my emphasis] for high school students and four years of college tuition in exchange for two years of national service.

It seems to me that K/E are proposing two plans:
  • A plan for mandatory national civilian service; and
  • a plan for subsidized national military service.
Question: doesn't the mandatory civilian service sound far more prone to abuse than the military service? At least in the military, the role is well-defined. But the non-military service? That can be whatever the political masters of the day deem it to be.

Just how slippery is that slope? Well, can you envision teenagers - under threat of criminal prosecution, I presume, since that's what "mandatory" means - forced to work for years on the local pols' pet projects? I can, cuz that's what it says above. That little word means so much. Will Kerry-haters want their kids to do his bidding any more than Bush-haters would want their kids to do Bush's?

Are you, or are you not, the property of the state? That seems to be the real question here.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


The "Nuisance" Factor

‘’We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance,'’ Kerry said. ‘’As a former law-enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.'’
--John Kerry, via the NY Times, October 10, 2004
UPDATE: It has since occurred to me that the way vices, such as gambling & prostitution, are handled by "enlightened" govts is to legalize and tax them! Perhaps Mr. Kerry intends to balance the budget by taxing terrorism, rather than eliminating it?


Afghanistan Elections Look Like A Success

Here's an Afghanistan Election Roundup, courtesy of Instapundit.

From a BBC reporter's own blog

It was a celebration today. There was a tremendous buzz of excitement at the polling stations.

I genuinely got the feeling that this was the people's opportunity and that's why in Kandahar the problem with the ink is being laughed out of town.
From Reuters:
The largest group of independent poll observers, the Free and Fair Election Foundations of Afghanistan (FEFA) which is made up of 13 local non-governmental organizations, said the vote was fair despite the complaints.
From ABC:
The Taliban vowed to turn the Afghan election into a day of bloodshed, but the rebels mounted only a smattering of small-scale attacks on police and civilians and a larger clash that left many of their own dead.
Robert Tagorda has a nice overview of the election, as well

All in all, an incredible day in the War On Terror and an amazing accomplishment for Bush. Next up, Iraq in January.

And, per my previous posts on the subject, here and here, it will be interesting to see if those who denigrate the effort to establish democracy will try to use the previously underestimated number of eligible voters as a weapon for attacking this election's legitimacy.


American Muslims Favor Kerry Over Bush 11:1

Muslims prefer Kerry over Bush by an 11:1 margin?

Yes they do. Although the full article then does its best to make it seem like a demographic horse-race, the key bits are here:

In late September, a poll conducted by Zogby International for Georgetown University's Muslims in the American Public Square found Muslims supporting the Kerry-Edwards ticket by a margin of 76 percent to 7 percent over Bush-Cheney. The random nationwide telephone survey of 1,700 Muslims had a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
By the way, the sampling size is larger and the margin of error smaller than just about any other election poll lately. Guess these guys really musta wanted to know.

Saturday, October 09, 2004


ABC "Not Equally Accountable" Fiasco

An internal memo written by ABCNEWS Political Director Mark Halperin has sparked a furore. Here's what it says, excepting that I have removed the candidates' names and substituted a generic "Candidate 1" and "Candidate 2" respectively.

Read it; then tell me this: would you trust ABC to give you unbiased coverage of the election?

Halperin Memo Dated Friday October 8, 2004

It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns - and our responsibilities become quite grave

I do not want to set off (sp?) and endless colloquy that none of us have time for today - nor do I want to stifle one. Please respond if you feel you can advance the discussion.

The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Candidate 1 attacks on Candidate 2 involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Candidate 2 has done.

Candidate 2 distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Candidate 1 efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Candidate 2 at least partly through distortions.

It's up to Candidate 2 to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.

And now, for those of you who're curious, here's the original, including the candidates' names. Does it matter?


Howard Wins! With The Bush Doctrine!

Australia's Coalition, led by Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch supporter of the American effort in Iraq, won a resounding victory today in national elections widely viewed as a referendum on foreign policy.

You might not hear much about this in the mainstream media. But it's of note for the several parallels to the upcoming US elections:

1. The govt supported and participated in toppling Saddam and installing democracy.

2. The opposition in both countries was straddling positions, trying to be both for the war and against it at the same time.

3. Polls in Australia showed a neck-and-neck race often described as too close to call (instead, Howard not only won, his party actually increased their share of the vote, their margin of victory, and the number of seats they won).

Come to think of it, maybe those parallels are the reason you haven't heard much of this. Honestly now, if a staunch Bush supporter had lost, do you think it would still be such a non-story? Dan Rather should investigate.


Where Have All The Afghan Voters Gone? Part II

The following report, sourced from the Associated Press, is part of a story now being picked up by the media in general.

candidates challenging interim leader Hamid Karzai (search) said they would boycott the outcome because of potential fraud in the system designed to keep voters from casting more than one ballot.
About 10.5 million registration cards were handed out ahead of the election, a staggering number that U.N. and Afghan officials say was inflated by widespread double registration. Human rights groups said some people obtained four or five voter cards, thinking they would be able to use them to receive humanitarian aid.

Afghanistan has an estimated population of 25 million.
I posted on this "staggering" number previously,but it bears repeating: Afghanistan has approximately 25-28 million people (the estimates vary), a little over half of whom - which would mean 12.5-14 million - are of voting age and therefore eligible. So why would 10.5 million registrations be "staggering?"

The 10.5 million figure will now play a prominent role in the upcoming claims of fraud, where it will do its damage, hopefully not too much.

UPDATE: This story was sourced from Reuters:
During the campaign, some candidates expressed surprise that as many as 10.5 million out of the country's 28 million people had registered to vote, and said they believed many people had received multiple voter cards.
But why would this number have been surprising?