Sunday, October 31, 2004

Kerry's Dishonorable Response.
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

The Times speaks out against Kerry's reaction to Osama-heit 9-11. Don't get your hopes up, it's the times from just a few miles South of New York.

Poll Watch
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

An MSNBC Poll says that recent events should be in Bush's favor. Let's hope so....

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Kerry's Afghan Amnesia
from the mind of  ME=mc^2.

Go; read; reflect...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

31% Chance of Kerry Presidency
from the mind of  Daredemo.

That's my prediction. How do I get this? Well, I decided while waiting for some code to run this evening to cook up a simple electoral college simulator. I went over to the RealClearPolitics site and recorded all the state by state polls they had collected in the past two weeks since the last debate. In states where multiple polls existed I combined the percentages and errors to give me a sort of combined measurement of how the vote would go in that state. I then told my computer to use that information to randomly generate 9999 fake elections (be careful how you say that), and calculate the resulting electoral college totals. It took roughly a minute and a half for it to perform all of them, as there were no court cases or recounts in my simulation. My results are summarized in the plot below:

This is the distribution of the number of electoral college votes President Bush would get assuming the errors in the individual polls were Gaussian (probably more or less reasonable), and assuming that any fluctuations between states were not correlated (hard to say, maybe thats not so reasonable, but its the easiest thing to do).

The red colored guys on the right are those that went for Bush, blue on the left are those that went for Kerry. Roughly 67.5% of the 9999 simulated elections I ran ended up as Bush wins, 31% as Kerry wins. That leaves 1.5% -- which are the guys that ended up with both candidate getting 269 votes -- an electoral tie! (the thin yellow stripe in between the red and blue)

So to be more or less official then, lets say my prediction for the number of electoral votes Bush will get is (drum roll): 281 +/- 24. I also predict a 1.5% chance of an electoral tie. In which case I believe the Republican led House of Representatives gets to choose the President...

Before people start taking what I've done here too seriously, let me point out a series of caveats:

  • I used all state poll data posted on the RCP site dated from 10/14 - 10/28 and assumed all were accurate, no matter the source of the poll. All polls were assumed equivalent and independent.

  • I treat Maine and Nebraska as all or nothing states for simplicity, since they both are on opposite sides and roughly have the same number of votes -- I also assume Colorado stays as an all or nothing state.

  • Nader and undecideds were dropped in each poll -- I.e. if a poll was taken of 1000 people, and it was listed that 50% said they'd vote for Bush, and 48% said Kerry, I then would use 500 "Bush" votes, and 480 "Kerry" votes to calculate my vote ratio and errors. The remaning 20 would be dropped. I think this is fine, as we only want to know who wins each state. A warning though -- I've read that historically undecideds tend to side with the challenger rather than the incumbent (the theory being if they were completely happy with Bush they wouldn't be undecided). This would push my distribution to the left slightly.

  • In some states the latest polls were from September or early October. All of those cases were states with low numbers of electoral votes, and high ratios toward either candidate (usually Bush). I took them at face value.

  • No attempt was made to try to use any information on trends in the data when multiple polls were available, though errors in these polls (typically around 4%) really are probabably too large to even try.

That all said, I believe looking at the numbers this way has much more meaning than simple, across the board national polls like we see all the time. Dunno about you guys, but this 31% (or possibly a bit higher) chance of a Kerry presidency has me rather scared. That's a bit high for my taste... Here's hoping the weekend talk shows spend their time examining the current terror threats and get some people to come to their senses about what's at stake here...

All I Need To Know in Life....
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

... I sure as heck didn't learn in Kindergarten.

Even though President Bush seems to be pulling away in the polls, the current popularity of the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat who by the way served in Vietnam (Thanks Mr. Taranto) is still baffling. One could chalk it up to populism, where Senator Kerry uses the lower middle class people's distaste for the wealthy to gain popularity, even though he belongs to the precise group of people that they hate. It could be attributed to the unbalanced picture that the media constantly provides to the public that allows them to buy into the doctrine of the 'do anything and say anything to be popular' Kerry. It could be many things, but it all boils down to education. If our voting public was more educated on some of these important issues, they would be able to notice when a load of bull was coming their way.

The problem lies within the fact that we could never educate the public on all of these issues. The only medium that we truly have to provide the public with such education is in our public schools. High school students would never be able to cover the required curriculum along with a course on the current state of our health care system, current tax codes, foreign affairs, and so on. We must look at the one piece that ties all of these together. One might ask what single piece ties all of this together? The answer is simple. Economics.

Our lives thrive on the exchange of money for goods and services. Even our recreation thrives on it. Almost everything we do, almost everything we use and experience has an economic aspect to it. The theories and laws of economics even come into play when trying to understand how different regulations on the health care industry will effect the quality and availability of care. A basic understanding of our nations economic structure would allow people to understand that taxing the rich is not a ticket to free money, and will, in fact, have adverse effects on our quality of lives. A basic understanding of how our economy actually works would allow people to see the realities of our current and proposed policies rather than trusting people trained in journalism to properly convey an accurate portrayal.

In my high school, we did have an economics course. It really went only as far as teaching us that supply and demand would find an equilibrium and that Mr. Keynes was supposedly a cool guy. Oh, and there was some sort of French word that was supposed to have something to do with the free market. Our compulsory education does not address issues of macroeconomics at a level beyond completely superficial. Macro would give people the tools to accurately clear the smoke screen placed by all of the different candidates claims about the benefits of this policy and the detriment of that policy. Understanding the time value of money would allow people to see that our deficit is not the highest that it has ever been, and compared to most other first world countries, it is still tiny. People would be able to see the whole picture for themselves, not have the picture interpreted by a group of people whose reputation has recently come under intense scrutiny.

No offense to you, Mr. Shakespeare... But we spend a lot of time on your works, and that doesn't help me at all know how to vote. If any candidate addressed the problem and offered a comprehensive plan (and actually explained that plan to us, not just say over and over again "I have a PLAN!") on how to educate people on these issues, I'd vote for him. If we are to be the worlds economic superpower, we need to have a better understanding of the economy. If that means that we have to sacrifice a little Shakespeare, a little Poe, a little Thoreau, so be it. It will offer huge dividends.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

VDH's Latest
from the mind of  ME=mc^2.

Go; read; reflect...

ACT Off the Wall
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

My wife is a registered democrat, so I am lucky enough to see some of the mailings that target democrats. So, ACT, one of the left wing groups that has taken to some pretty interesting efforts in the final few days of the elections to make sure people don't vote for Bush. A very interesting flier came in the mail today. Upon initial viewing, you see this:

the image is comprised of little micetype in different shades and colors to create the image seen. (note, the smudge on the bottom is a blurred out name of my wife and our address.)

I was drawn toward the whole concept, it's kind of clever, and I like to be informed of the claims and arguments of people who think differently than I think. So, I put my face really close to the paper, and started reading the roughly 7 pin type that is really bunched together. And, I found this:

(Note: in the full image above, the location of this text is noted by the little yellow arrows, though this statement appears several times on the flyer.)

So, we can fully agree that ACT is off its rocker. To claim that there is no relationship between this terrorist organization and the attacks on 9/11 would go against so many reports and so much testimony by the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks himself. (By the way, he is referred to as KSM in the 9-11 comission's report.)

This is what we are up against. We try our best to keep the truth in mind, while the opposition just fabricates these lies. It is absolutely unethical.... and I've shown you the proof. So, if they have to use such lies like this to support their claim that 'it's not working'... then maybe their claims are just plain false as well.

Oh, the address for the Oregon Chapter of ACT is plainly visible on the upper image. Feel free to write to them and give them a piece of your mind.

Watch O'Donnell Come Unglued on MSNBC
from the mind of  Cowgirl Up.

Speaking of downloads...

How do I love the internet?
Let me count the ways...

As usual, Michelle Malkin does an excellent job of chronicling this incident here and here.

Stolen Honor Now Free to Download
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Heard last night that the documentary "Stolen Honor" was to be released for free today on Sure enough there it is, in several formats for anybody to watch...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Spinelessness Masquerading as Sophistication
from the mind of  ME=mc^2.

An article in last Wednesday's Washington Post uncovered a 1994 interview with John Kerry discussing the prospect of U.S. troops being killed in Bosnia: "If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no." For all of Mr. Kerry's flip-flops, he has actually been remarkably consistent about his reluctance to use American military power. And this quote is deeply revealing.

Mr. Kerry clearly harbors a deep-seated and visceral distrust of American intentions and a belief that America is what's wrong with the world. Mr. Kerry's rhetoric and record bear this out: His testimony to the U.S. Senate in 1971 when he slurred his fellow veterans as war criminals, his championing of a nuclear freeze during the cold war, the litany of weapons systems he voted against during his twenty years in the Senate, his 1994 comment that only the U.N. -- but not America -- is worth dying for, his "global test" a president must pass before committing troops to war -- they all fall into place. They all show that he lacks the conviction that America is good and worth defending.

This distrust has caused Mr. Kerry to consistently come down on the wrong side of history: He opposed the American intervention in Vietnam, and the collapse of the South resulted in mass murder, millions of refugees, and millions more sent to Communist reeducation camps; he supported Daniel Ortega and his Soviet backed Communist tyrrany in Nicaragua; he opposed stopping the genocide in Bosnia without the UN; he opposed putting an end to Iraq's plundering of Kuwait; and he now opposes the removal of Saddam Hussein and the present efforts to implant democracy in Iraq. In each instance Mr. Kerry shows himself to be a person who lacks the moral courage to stop an atrocity. He is spinelessness masquerading as sophistication.

How can such a person be president?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Backwards Thinking at
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

While I was doing my ostrich research for the post below, I cruised around the site to see what they had to say. What I was really looking for were the 'plans' that they are always talking about. You know, the John Kerry has a plan' for this and that and every single problem. I didn't really find any detailed plans at all, but I did notice some iteresting statements from the page where the Kedwards campaign contrasts itself to the Bush Administration. One of those 'this is why we are right and they are wrong' sort of things. There were things that ranged anywhere from 'maybe this would be good, but absolutely not feasable' to 'boy, oh boy! isn't that backwards thinking!'. I'll just quote a few and then comment in italics below. (The first two words will link to the page where the quote was taken.)

  • For John Kerry and John Edwards, making America more competitive means investing in more jobs at higher wages. Um... isn't that the exact reason for outsourcing? That jobs are cheaper overseas than they are at home? I think cutting taxes for employers and employees would be a great way to make things more competitive. Remember, most people that make over $200,ooo a year are also called employers. They are the ones that create jobs. It would be a disaster to raise taxes on them.
  • John Kerry will create a new partnership to expand the supply of natural gas, and develop and deploy clean electric power from coal. Now, natural gas is a good idea, but coal? Clean? Coal can be done cleaner than it used to be done... but why not nuclear power? I'd rather have my pollution contained in a benign block of glass buried in the ground rather than floating around in the air that I breather while I ride my bike.
  • John Kerry will lead a new era of broad alliances to execute a more effective war on terror. Broad alliances? Like Poland, Japan, Australia, Iraq, Great Britain, South Korea, and the many other countries that are helping us currently? Personally, I don't want the help from countries who were bought off by Saddam's Oil-for-'Food' program.
  • To help win the war on terror and strengthen the military to meet new threats, John Kerry will increase our troop strength by 40,000 and double our special forces capability. Currently, the US military has a roughly 10 support to 1 combat troop ratio. So, by adding 40,000 troops to active duty, that would only bring 4000 troops online to help in the war on terror. Now, Kerry has said that the contributions of other nations are insignificant... and if that is so, then 4000 extra combat troops in our military would also be insignificant. Perhaps cutting defense budgets and reducing the size of the military was not such a good idea. But, that's exactly what happened during the last administration's 8 years. And, yes, Senator Kerry, you helped him do it. Maybe a better plan is to try and transform our military into a lighter and faster and more agile military so fewer support troops are needed for each combat troop. Now, that would really increase our military strength. But, that idea is already taken by the current administration... DARN!

Well, I've had enough fun for now. Be sure to read the post on the Duelfur Report by Daredemo

More DNC Junk Science
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Well, there were two animal based advertisements that came on the airwaves this week. The most talked about spot was the WOLVES advertisement which uses striking imagery to convey a point. The other spot was from the DNC, which uses an eagle and an ostrich to contrast how they see themselves and how they see those who oppose them in government. One of the points that they drive into the ground is that somehow, their opponents are just sticking their head in the sand and hiding from the problem at hand. They even use video footage of an ostrich with its head in the ground. See for yourself:

Now, I had always wondered if ostriches actually do stick their head in the sand. I could not figure out what purpose it might serve... so I went investigating. This is what I found:

If threatened while sitting on the nest, which is simply a cavity scooped in the earth, the hen presses her long neck flat along the ground, blending with the background. Ostriches, contrary to popular belief, do not bury their heads in the sand.

Well, there you have it. The DNC is using false imagery to prove a point. It seems as though I remember another organization using false imagery to prove a point... most of you have probably forgotten that little story with Dan Rather...

So, if you hear anyone talking about this advertisement, you can inform them that the video must be fake or doctored or something... because ostriches don't stick their heads in the sand.

But, then again, I'll probably get blamed for using scare tactics if any liberals read this.

One More Thing: Be sure to read the great post on the Duelfur Report. It is time well spent.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Telltale signs
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Sen. John Kerry Drops By Bike Gallery in a recent visit to Portland, OR. Now, I know a few of the guys at the Bike Gallery, and they are great guys. Really. So, in no way do I want to give out the idea that I think lowly of the Bike Gallery at all. It's always fun to have a celebrity come into the shop and need service.

But, what is more interesting in this article is what John Kerry was doing there. He was having flat tires fixed... TWO flat tires fixed. As someone who worked in a very busy, very high end bike shop for many years, I have a little insight into what we can learn from this.

First off, let me describe John Kerry's riding kit first. He rides a steel Serrotta bicycle. The frames are made in the U.S. and the bikes are assembled in the States. They make a fine product. I find it kind of odd that Mr. Kerry would choose steel, when Serrotta makes a very nice Titanium bike. You'd think he would go for the best money can buy. I also noticed that he uses Campagnolo components on his bike. Oftentimes, we in the bike industry would label someone who buys a steel bike (heavier than Titanium or Aluminum) and they put Campagnolo on it (more expensive than Shimano) as a bike snob. People that will pay top dollar for components, but won't pay top dollar for the finest frame always seemed odd to me. Also, he was riding in baggy shorts and a baggy shirt. Anyone who spends serious time in a saddle will not use such shorts, as they chafe the skin and have some seams in pretty delicate places. Road Cyclists wear tights shorts for a reason... They feel better and take better care of the body. He might be letting public image get in the way of making a good decision here.

Now, as far as his visit to the bike shop the other day, we can tell this: First, he would rather drive to a bike shop and have 'a common man' change his flat tires rather than fix them himself and save the time. I'm sure, as he travels all around the nation that he prepares himself with a basic repair kit. Maybe he makes the secret service officers carry it. Also, two flat tires is extremely odd on a road bike... Unless the tires are well underinflated. Most road cyclists know, from experience, that tires have to be topped off almost every time you ride. If you ride a lot, maybe two or three days can go by with one pumping, but most of the cyclists I know check their pressure before every ride. It just takes a simple squeeze with the thumb to check.... (there is a possibility that two flats could have come from glass or thorns, but it's just not probable. Underinflation is the prime suspect.)

So, what can we gather from this? First, he doesn't pay attention to detail. And, when that lack of attention to detail comes back to bite him in the butt, he pays someone else to fix the damage.

I would, however, like to thank him for unnecessarily spending money at a local business in Oregon. Maybe Tuh-ray-zuh paid for it...

Please be sure to read Daredemo's post on the Duelfer Report. It is time well spent!

Update: When you take this event and combine it with his marathon record (thanks Michelle Malkin) you can really begin to see that his 'sporting life' is just an attempt to be popular.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Duelfer: "the world is better off"
from the mind of  Daredemo.

I spent some time going through a transcript of Charles Duelfer's report to the Senate Armed Services Committee on October 6. CSPAN has the testimony and question and answer session archived here. I highly recommend watching it in its entirety. I have not yet seen the transcript posted anywhere publicly, but was able to take advantage of one of the few benefits of academia and grab a copy off Lexis Nexus. Figured I'd crop out some interesting tidbits below. There was a lot of interesting information here, so this post is looking long...

As a sort of introduction, I thought it would be useful to start of with Duelfer's own description of what the purpose of his report is:

The relationship between Iraq and the rest of the world has been complicated and dangerous for three decades, a dilemma that has confounded the international community through much of recent history. Three wars, devastating sanctions, and an endless progression of international crises have eroded or ruined thousands of lives.

The region and Iraq are both complicated and unstable, and obviously very dangerous. Weapons of mass destruction have added to the uncertainty and risk posed by an unpredictable and clearly aggressive regime in Baghdad.

This report is not simply an accounting of the program fragments that we have examined in the aftermath of the recent war and the ongoing conflict, nor is it my aim merely to describe the status of a program at a single point in time.

The complexity and importance of the question deserves a more synthetic approach, in my opinion. Instead, the objective of this report is to identify the dynamics of the regime's WMD decisions over time. I want to identify the area under the curve, not just a single point on a trend line that may be going up or down.

In other words, this problem deserves calculus, not algebra, and thus the report I have prepared attempts to describe Iraqi WMD programs not in isolation, but in the context of the aims and objectives of the regime that created and used them, which is not to say that I'm not going to look at the artifacts and what we did find at the given point in time when we began work.

His full prepared statement is here. Read it. No -- seriously, go read it & come back. I'm only going to deal with the Q&A session here. These are the chunks I thought the most interesting -- we start of with the chair of the committee Senator Warner:

WARNER: ...And my question will be very simple, it's asked frequently, it's discussed frequently: Is it your professional judgment that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein now in custody facing the rule of law?

DUELFER: Well, in my opinion, there was a risk of Saddam Hussein being in charge of a country with that amount of resources and with that amount of potential for both good and evil. What Iraq was under Saddam and the potential for what it could be, there was an enormous difference. The trends I think are important.

DUELFER: Our analysis and this study was to not look at a single point in time, but to look at dynamics and trends. He clearly had ambitions with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He clearly had a strategy and tactic to get of the restraints of the U.N. sanctions. He was clearly making a great deal of progress on that.

But for the intervention of the events of 9/11, I think the world would be in a very different position right now.

WARNER: In conclusion, the world is better off with his now facing -- in custody -- the rule of law to account for his crimes?

DUELFER: I am analyst, and I realize I'm in a political world right now.

WARNER: No. It's just that I have to...

DUELFER: Analytically, the world is better off.

Warner's questions were the first in the testimony, and as head of the committee. As you can see they were direct, and to the point. Remember when the Duelfer report first came out? Remember the headlines? "US 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons" (Washington Post), "Report: No WMD stockpiles in Iraq" (CNN), etc. etc. Why not "World is better off"?

Now the media's headlines are indeed based on statements he made -- in fact in his response to the next question:

DUELFER: It is clear that Saddam chose not to have weapons at a point in time before the war.

Interesting. Well there we go, Bush lied, we're all wrong. It clearly was all a waste of time -- lets stop reading and go home! But wait:

DUELFER: When we look at the frame of reference that Saddam saw around him -- I mean, he saw U.N. sanctions, he saw forces around him, he saw diplomatic isolation after 9/11, he saw his revenue streams dropping -- he chose at the point in time to allow U.N. inspectors in.

As an analyst, I look at that and say, "Well, were those conditions sustainable?" And I find it hard to conclude that those conditions were stable or sustainable.

So while Saddam chose not to have weapons at that point in time, the conditions which caused him to make that decision were, A, not sustainable; B, extremely expensive not just for the international community, but for the Iraqis themselves.

Over the last decade, observing what happened to the civilian infrastructure of Iraq under the sanctions is stark. I mean, here is a country with enormous talent. The people are educated, Westward- leaning for the most part. They had a great education system. And watching that decay under sanctions was not a pleasant experience. There was an enormous price for that.

Those are some of the factors. Others will look at the data and draw other conclusions. But my opinion is that the conditions were not sustainable over any lengthy period of time.

WARNER: Had he lost his life by whatever means and the assets that he then had under his control had fallen into the hands of one or several of his children, particularly his sons, they clearly presented an equal if not greater danger to the world if they had control and custody of those assets. Am I not correct?

DUELFER: Well, from the discussions of the top people around Saddam, his ministers, military leaders, they were not fond of Saddam's offspring. And these people had a high tolerance for tough behavior.

So I would have to agree with you that a succession from Saddam to one of his offspring, while it's a hypothetical and it's hard to imagine exactly how that would play out, but it was not a pleasant prospect.

So this seems to me like a pretty clear statement that something had to be done. That had we not removed Saddam or his sons we'd be in for some serious problems. Senator Levin questioned next, and concentrated on accumulating ammunition against the Bush administration. I guess he found some -- specifically Duelfer confirmed his belief that the aluminum tubes were to be used for rockets (suggesting that the suspicious tolerences that led us to believe they would be used for uranium enrichment may more be due to incompetence on the part of the Iraqis than anything else: "DUELFER: That is my judgment, recognizing that in Iraq, the types of logic that we apply here don't always apply there.") He also stated that he did not believe Iraq had an active nuclear program, however "there was an attempt to sustain intellectual capability and to sustain some elements of the program". Gotta get those sanctions removed first right? There was also discussion regarding the suspected mobile biological weapon weapons labs found earlier in Iraq:

LEVIN: All right. Let me just talk about those trailers. Those trailers...

DUELFER: The two trailers that were captured in Irbil and Mosul were for the production of hydrogen. In my judgment, my firm judgment, and the judgment of most of the people who have looked at them, or of our experts, they had nothing to do with biological weapons.

LEVIN: Well, thank you for that testimony. It just totally undercuts the statements which were made by the vice president.

Thank you.

WARNER: Were you able to give a full response to that question? I want to make sure that the record has all of your thinking on it.

DUELFER: The question of those two trailers is, to me, separate and distinct from the question of whether Iraq had a mobile biological weapons program. Our efforts to fathom that possibility departed from a source who subsequently turned out to be largely a fabricator. That does not mean that there was not an Iraqi mobile biological production capability. But we have not found evidence of that.

Again, the biology area is an area where because it takes very few people, it takes very little in the way of resources, it is one of the areas where I think there is some risk that we might find new information that might change the content of this report.

WARNER: And a very little area to conceal it, am I not correct?

DUELFER: It takes very little area to conceal.

In other words any biological program could take a very long time to find. Duelfer is very careful not to say there aren't any stockpiled bio weapons. There are several occasions in this testimony where Duelfer is pressed on this and he is always reluctant to make any definitive statement that they didn't exist. It appears he has not found evidence yet, but repeatedly emphasizes that its not hard to hide or transport them.

Senator McCain was up next:

MCCAIN:OK, let me lead you though a couple of questions here, because we only have six minutes. There is the belief purveyed by some -- this is in sort of aligned with what we were just saying -- that there was a status quo in Iraq where basically the sanctions were in effect. And things were fairly normal. And so therefore we really had a choice between the status quo and an attack on Saddam Hussein.

Isn't it more likely, as you have stated in previous testimony, the sanctions were being eroded, American airplanes were being shot at, as you just mentioned, businessmen all over Baghdad were thinking that it was a matter of time before the sanctions were lifted, we have a burgeoning scandal in the oil-for-food program, and there was not a status quo?

In other words, there was a steady deterioration of any restraints, real or imagined, that Saddam Hussein may have felt. Is that an accurate assessment of the situation in Baghdad?

DUELFER: That is a very accurate assessment. We spent a fair amount of time analyzing exactly that and trying to understand the strategy and tactics which Iraq was using to encourage the decay of sanctions.

Duelfer also obliterates the "Bush Lied" fallacy:

MCCAIN: There's also the belief in some circles that this was an idea that was hatched, either in the Department of Defense or somewhere in the White House right after 9/11: Let's go attack Saddam Hussein, and we'll invent this weapons of mass destruction issue to sort of as a pretext for it. And there was really a hidden agenda there.

Why, in your viewpoint, did every single intelligence agency on Earth that I know of -- the British, our friends the French, the Germans, the Israelis -- every single intelligence agency believed, as our intelligence agency did, believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? How do you account for that?

DUELFER: Well, sir, that wasn't really my mandate. However, I do have an opinion.

MCCAIN: I'd appreciate your opinion.

DUELFER: I think there's a lot of factors that are involved in that. One, as I've mentioned before, Saddam had an experience where these weapons were vital to him. So why wouldn't he have them, sort of logically -- why wouldn't he?

Second, the United States had almost no contact with Iraq over more than a decade. To me, I sometimes forget that, because I spent a lot of time there myself, but that was because I was with the U.N.

That means that the analysts who were forced to make judgments about this were actually in a very poor position. They didn't have any ground truth. They spent a lot of time looking at computer screens, but not a lot of time talking to Iraqis, not a lot of time walking around Iraqi plants and getting a feel for them.

I mean, for example, if someone associates a particular vehicle with a chemical weapons program, as was done, there was something called a Decon (ph) vehicle. Well, if you spend much time in Iraq, you realize the Iraqis could be selling ice cream out of those vehicles. To associate a particular vehicle with a particular program, you know, it's that kind of a feel for the ground that was rare in the United States.

Also, Saddam, as we learned from talking with him, was deliberately ambiguous. He gave a speech, I remember quite well, in June of 2000 where he said, in essence, you cannot expect -- and he wrote his speeches himself largely, by the way -- but you cannot expect Iraq to give up a rifle and live only with the sword if its neighbors don't give up rifles and live with swords.

Now, that's kind of typical Saddam-ese. But it makes you think, well, he's saying he's going to hang on to his weapons of mass destruction.

So we asked him what he meant by that. He said, well, he had audiences in mind. This is a rare time I think he actually was candid.

DUELFER: He said he had two audiences. One was the Iranian threat, which for him was quite potent, palpable. The Iranian threat was very, very palpable to him. And he did not want to be second to Iran. And he felt he had to deter them. So he wanted to create the impression that he had more than he did.
MCCAIN: So every intelligence agency was fooled by him.

DUELFER: Well, including, to a certain extent, the Iraqi intelligence agency, because there were many Iraqis who were not convinced that there either were or were not special weapons within their arsenal.

In contemplating why we might not have had enough "ground truth" in Iraq, taking a peek at something like following link might be of use.

Teddy Kennedy, the conservative senator from Massachussets, was up next, little substance here as would be expected, but before we go there I thought it'd be useful to include a quote off a Left leaning website for some balance -- posted just prior to us taking action in Iraq:

Senators Kennedy and Byrd are now responding to the outcry with the following legislation:

* Senate Resolution 32 (introduced by Sen. Kennedy, co-sponsored by Sen. Byrd) urges the president to give UN weapons inspectors full support to finish their work and requires a vote of Congress prior to an attack on Iraq.
* Senate Resolution 28 (introduced by Sen. Byrd, co-sponsored by Sen. Kennedy gives the weapons inspectors the additional time which they have requested, asserts that we should "exhaust all peaceful and diplomatic means" before invading Iraq (which we have not done), and calls for the US to seek "specific authorization for the use of force" from the UN Security Council (which we do not have).

BTW, the pathetic parenthetical statement at the end was in fact false -- the authorization was given with the aid of John Kerry's vote. (you know the one where he voted to authorize the use of force, before his vote supporting the troops before he voted against them). Ok -- this now puts us in the proper frame of mind to look at Senator Kennedy's question:

KENNEDY:And we have to ask -- you have more than 1,000 people on your staff now. Press reports indicate that we've spent more than $900 million on the search for the weapons of mass destruction. And your testimony says that you've just obtained a large number of documents that's approximately equal to the total previously received since the end of the war and that it will clearly take many months to examine.

But isn't this a total waste of money? I mean, why does the search keep going on and on and on? And aren't we at the point where we have to admit the stockpiles don't exist?


KENNEDY: Well, my question is: Wouldn't the resource that you're spending to find weapons of mass destruction that evidently don't exist be better spent on weapons that do exist and that are threatening American servicemen every single day?

DUELFER: Sir, if I might just respond a bit on that. My task was not to find weapons of mass destruction. My task was to find the truth. You know, I am quite proud of the work that we have done to delineate the program and to describe in detail, which anyone else can examine, what we did find.

I'm not suggesting that we should continue searching this. I think, you know, the staffing and requirements to continue these small remaining uncertainties, resolving those, is small.

And you say "wild goose chase." And we've had a lot of people who have -- we've had a couple of people die. We've had many people wounded. And to tell them they've been involved in a wild goose chase to me it's not really what we're doing. We were meant to find what existed with respect to WMD. We weren't tasked to find weapons. We were tasked to find the truth of the program. And that's what we tried to relate. And I think it was a worthwhile endeavor.


We find some interesting stuff in Senator Reed's Q&A period:

REED:why didn't he simply hide small portions of this material?

DUELFER: Well, he wanted to get out of sanctions. That was his priority.

On a noninterference basis with that objective, he wanted to sustain -- as we understand it from talking with his advisers and him, he wanted to sustain the intellectual capabilities and some bits and pieces that are hard to duplicate of his programs.

This is particularly the case in the early years of the U.N. constraints, from '91 to, say, '95, and particularly the period of time during which his son-in-law, who was in charge of developing and had some pride of creation of these programs, was still around. But after he left in 1995, I think Saddam concluded that this business with the sanctions is going on longer than he expected. He did not anticipate the duration of these and he had to take other decisions to include getting rid of some of the production capabilities and other things.

REED: It seemed that the sanctions were working.

DUELFER: Well, again, if you look at a point in time and if you look at -- it depends on what you mean -- I hate to say this -- by "working."

The sanctions certainly were modifying Saddam's behavior. They were also having an enormous effect on the people in Iraq. And once Saddam elected to begin the oil-for-food program because of the devastation on the Iraqi population and because of the threats that that caused to his own regime, once those oil-for-food programs began it provided all kinds of leverage for him to manipulate his way out of sanctions.

So the sanctions were falling apart especially thanks to the oil-for-food program.

In Senatar Allard's Q&A session we find this (Referring to Iraq's WMD report submitted to the UN):

ALLARD: But you did see enough evidence there that raised suspicions about the accuracy of the 2002 report to the U.N. Security Council?

DUELFER: Well, there certainly were errors in that report.

ALLARD: Errors did exist?

DUELFER: Errors did exist, yes.

In other words, Saddam was in clear violation of Resolution 1440, but we knew that already... After a bit of discussion over what evidence Saddam may have had destroyed, we find again some interesting tidbits on the effectiveness of the prior administrations methods in dealing with Iraq:

ALLARD: On its face, we have a closed society. They agree to have inspectors come into their country in Iraq. Then all of a sudden you kick them out. I mean, that does raise suspicions about what's going on in the country as far as weapons of mass destruction, doesn't it?

DUELFER: Well, certainly in December 1998, when Desert Fox took place, there was four days of bombing. UNSCOM left Iraq. There was an enormous division in the Security Council at that time, because there was difference of opinion about whether that bombing should have taken place.

The Iraqis -- certainly Iraqis I spoke with were actually quite satisfied and pleased. One individual I spoke with I remember said, "Well, gee, if we knew that that was all you were going to" -- meaning the four days of bombing -- "we would have ended this earlier."

Keep this and Kerry's voting record in mind when you hear the Democratic party make the statement "stronger at home and respected abroad". A bit further in Sen. Allard's Q&A we get to some meat regarding where the WMD's might have gone:

ALLARD: I understand from your remarks there's a degree of uncertainty regarding involvement of the neighboring countries in Iraq's potential transportation of weapons of mass destruction or facilities.

ALLARD: For example, we saw reports that Iraq intelligence services would replace border security guards while cargo caravans crossed various border stations. Would you want to elaborate on those assertions and facts?

DUELFER: Well, our investigations looked a lot at what took place at some of the border points and surrounding the border crossing points, and this is described in some detail in our report.

Certainly, there was a lot of activity related to the transfer of prohibited conventional munitions. The Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service was involved in that. They had people at these border points. There was a lot of traffic back and forth. There were reports about WMD-related materials crossing the border.

But I still feel that we have not yet run down all the leads that we can on that. I'm not sure we'll ever be able to definitively answer that question, but I still think there are some avenues of exploration which we can pursue.

ALLARD: Are some of those papers in the volumes of information you just acquired believe that they could be there?

DUELFER: Well, the customs documents are not replicated in the book, but the discussion about some of the lines of inquiry we have had are included in that, including the role of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service.

Here's some more comments about where the WMD's might be from Senator Graham's Q&A:

GRAHAM: The only reason I mention it is, was there ever at any time that Saddam Hussein was engaged in trying to acquire a nuclear weapon?

DUELFER: He certainly was -- he had a very elaborate program. His top weapons designers freely admit that. They discussed that. The head of the program, Jafar Jafar, will tell you that after being imprisoned and only let out of prison if he agreed to begin a program, to run the nuclear weapons program, he did that, and that continued on until 1991.

GRAHAM: So what we know thus far from history is that he had chemical weapons within in house, he used them on people to survive, and that he was actively procuring nuclear weapons.

Now, was there ever any evidence that he transferred any material to a third country?

DUELFER: We have not come across evidence that he transferred WMD materials to a third -- well, let me rephrase it.

GRAHAM: (inaudible) to anyone?

DUELFER: We have some reports that we're trying to run down, as I mentioned earlier, of material moving out of Iraq just prior to the war.

But if your question means, was he sharing the wisdom and knowledge that he acquired about WMD, we haven't seen that, but neither has that been a particular emphasis of our investigation.

GRAHAM: But you're still searching out the issue of whether or not he may have moved some weapons material before the war?

DUELFER: That is correct.

Senator Nelson asked about countries and corporations involved in weapons trading with Iraq:

NELSON: But the report will name French, Russian, Polish and other companies that traded with Iraq, and some of the trade may not have been illegal, though much of it -- I take in the words of the report -- was clearly illegal. Is this accurate?

DUELFER: Sir, it was my view to put forward all the data -- names of people, companies, countries that were involved in this, because I felt it was important for people to understand that. And believe me, this was -- I had to argue on this.

However, with respect to the American names, and lawyers have told me that the Privacy Act, you know, prohibits putting out publicly American companies' names. But they are included in the report, which is an official document provided to official Americans.


BEN NELSON: But isn't it interesting that we print the names of petty criminals in the police blotter sections in weekly newspapers across the country, but somehow the names of these companies don't get in.

Now, apparently the Privacy Act doesn't relate to foreign companies. Was that ever discussed with you, or do you have any thoughts about that?

DUELFER: It evidently does not.

I would point out also that these data on the -- to which you're referring, oil vouchers (inaudible), that data is going to become public anyway. It's part of many investigations which are ongoing.

The U.N. has an investigation going on -- documents which we received from the Iraqi government.

So I think as a practical matter, the full disclosure of all of this is going to happen. But, you know, we can't be a part of that.

Here's some more insight into Saddam's strategy -- in answering a question about the decay of Saddam's WMD capability under sanctions:

DUELFER: Biology -- it's a small number of people that is required. The physical plant required is very small. So it would be easy for Saddam to conclude or assume that he has that capability and it's on the shelf. And I said this in my testimony. Because he was able to do it in the past, because the people are still there, because he can produce indigenously even if he has to start from scratch -- fermenters, spray-dryers, tanks and dispersal systems -- that is something which, in his mind, he says, "I can do that if I want to and it won't take me long to do it."

Chemical is somewhat more difficult. You know, it takes dozens of people in terms of the engineers, the production engineers and the chemists. It would be a bit more difficult depending upon the type of weapons system that you wanted to use. You know, if it's simple dumb bombs, that's one thing. If it's missile warheads, that's kind of another thing.

Interestingly, though, where he did choose to very openly violate the resolution was in the ballistic missile area, and that is an area where he tried to draw a distinction between weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles.

But he also, I think, understood this is a long-lead item. Building -- indigenously certainly -- the types of missiles that he was building, the Samoud-2, that took a lot of time. And it was when he was in possession of a substantial amount of wealth, largely derived from the oil-for-food program, that he actually committed to those production programs, particularly around 1999 and 2000.

Senator Dayton queried about whether the foreign terrorists now in Iraq were able to obtain any of Iraq's WMD ("linkage" here is terrorists + Saddam's WMD's):

DAYTON: You see that possible linkage as still a threat?

DUELFER: I do. I was a little bit reluctant to put much more into the public report on that, because it's an ongoing, you know, force protection, kind of, an issue. But what we found -- the Army raided a facility called the Al Aboud (ph) laboratory in an area of Baghdad which is known as the Chemical Souk. And by chance they found a person there who was working on some ricin.

And so we quickly got involved in that. We quickly began to debrief him and, you know, pare down his contacts and work a link analysis, et cetera. We pursued a series of raids pursuant to that. And we, you know, put together a picture of a series of efforts and a number of individuals who were trying to, you know, put chemical agents of various sorts into munitions, including mortar rounds.

We think we've got most of that particular activity, not under control, but we understand it.

Now, these individuals were anti-coalition people. They were not people that we identified with foreign terrorists. But it has certainly been the case that characters like Zarqawi have expressed an interest in exactly this type of weapon.

But I think, you know, the resources of the ISG, the analysts and the ability to react quickly, allowed us to get ahead of this problem. And I'm quite proud of what the people did.

I.e. sounds like they've more or less nipped this one in the bud... This is good news. General McMenamin, Commander of the Iraq Survey Group answers more on this in a bit...

Her Majesty Senator Clinton asked questions as well -- nothing on the substance of the Duelfer report, but more along the lines of what contradictions she could find in statements over the past weekend from members of the current administration. That wasn't all that successful, but she did finally ask a useful question regarding how what we've learned from Iraq might apply to Iran or the DPRK...

CLINTON: Do you have any advice about, you know, the best way for the United States to try to degrade and decay such capacity, so that we can be assured that proliferation will not pose a threat to us or to others around the world?

DUELFER: Well, the decay that occurred in the Iraqi program was a function of the sanctions and, you know, the extraordinary limits put on this regime.

We looked at some of the activities of these scientists, in areas where we thought they might have been serving as a surrogate for nuclear-related activities. For example, there was a development program of a rail gun, which is an electromagnet -- it's like a magnetic device for firing projectiles. We thought that that might be a surrogate for development of nuclear expertise. We looked at a series of projects like that, but we found that it was inconclusive.

Drawing conclusions that would apply to a country like North Korea -- it's difficult, frankly, Senator, because they are so different. Iraq invaded another country and lost. It was subject to an extraordinary set of U.N. regulations. It fought a war with Iran. It had enormous natural resources. It has a population which is energetic; they're great builders.

It's in a different region where, you know, many would expect just objectively to see, you know, Iraq as a country and its people really should be the hub. But, by virtue of the leadership, you know the difference between what is in Iraq and what could be is huge.

I don't know. It's difficult for me to draw lessons for North Korea, but it's a very good question. Maybe others smarter than I can do it.

Here's where McMenamin talks a bit more about Insurgents getting their hands on WMD, in Senator Pryor's Q & A session:

PRYOR: Let me ask about a scenario that someone referred to a few moments ago, and you actually have it in your written statement -- it at least is referred to. Maybe I should ask General McMenamin about this.

There's a scenario out there that I think we in the Congress are concerned about. What if insurgents team up with Saddam Hussein regime chemical weapons experts? What if they team up and, you know, could cause quite a bit of damage there?

Here's the question I want to ask the general: Do we have, in your view, sufficient resources on the ground in Iraq to prevent this?

MCMENAMIN: I would say, for the military commanders, the intelligence effort that we have to try to identify these people is sufficient at the moment.

One of the more successful programs that the Embassy is running is the scientist redirection program. We are working with the Embassy and the Ministry of Science and Technology to actually employ some of these former regime scientists, either here in the United States or in Iraq, which will also help the issue.

PRYOR: Now, so the answer to my question then is what? Do we have sufficient resources on the ground?

MCMENAMIN: Yes, sir.

PRYOR: We do. OK.

We're doing everything we can do to make sure that scenario doesn't happen?

MCMENAMIN: Sir, any time we get any notification of any type of chemical weapon, we send a team out, we interview sources, we run down sources. We run down everything from epoxy glue to baby powder to crude schematic drawings of missile systems that somebody took out of a book just so they can get some money.

So that possibility appears covered. In Pryor's Q & A he also asked Duelfer about whether he found evidence of Saddam passing anything on to Al Qaida. Duelfer said no. So once again, its good we got in there when we did.

It seems appropriate to close this off with some comments made by Duelfer to Senator Warner's final questions -- referring to the prospects of WMD scientists continuing in that line of work now:

You know, frankly, it's been my experience that most of these people would rather pursue other lines of business; that they want to pursue a line of business that allows them to, you know, earn an income. Most of these people didn't grow up thinking, "Gee, when I grow up I want to make anthrax." They were, kind of, channeled into that by a very odd regime.

And now that regime is gone, and these people can get on with their lives... Here's a bit of Duelfer's view of the future in Iraq:

Well, sir, it's, obviously, unrelated to my report, but I've spent a lot of time there.

My sense is that what they desire most, of course, is security. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.

If they have a structure to step into, and they believe it is their structure, not a foreigner's structure, and that that structure is fair and represents Iraq, I think that'll happen.

I had a lot of very candid conversations with many Iraqis, even under Saddam. And there's lots of discussions of the different tribes, clans, the Shia, the Sunni. Many of them made the point to me, they said, "Yes, but, you know, over the last few decades, we have acquired our nationality. We are Iraqis first."

And the way Saddam dispersed favor and so forth, he tended to reward groups and so forth, and he fended off threats that way to himself.

But I think if there is a structure, that it is identified as an Iraqi structure, that it is seen as something which will contribute to their future, that there's a true, you know, possibility that that will happen.

So this ends my probably too verbose summary (?) of Charles Duelfer's testimony to the Senate Arms Committee. I erred on the side of verbosity here because the transcript of the Q&A session does not appear to be publicly available on the web. Though the video is, and should be watched!

What I think we've gotten here is yes, the details of the pre-war intelligence on Iraq were flawed. The aluminum tubes probably really were to be used to build rockets. We expected stockpiles, but have yet to find them. There's some chance those stockpiles ended up out of the country, but we may never know what happened to them.

But what is much much more important here is that whether stockpiles existed at the time of the invasion is not as relevent as Saddam's intent, and the conditions that existed surrounding the sanctions imposed on him. What we learn here is that those sanctions were, as Duelfer says in his report in as state of "free fall". They were not working, and near collapse. Further we find that we appear to have enough of a handle on things to prevent the existing WMD's in Iraq from landing in the hands of Al Qaida. Had the US not taken action when it did, those sanctions most likely would have disappeared, and Saddam would have definitely started rebuilding his arsenal. One then does not know where elements of that arsenal could have ended up. The threat was clear, and thanks to Bush's decision to take action has been eliminated. This war was certainly not the "wrong war the wrong way at the wrong time". It was absolutely the RIGHT war, the RIGHT way at the RIGHT time. As Duelfer said, and as the media should have taken as their headline for his report, "the world is better off".

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Hussein and Terror
from the mind of  Cowgirl Up.

Still arguing with your conservative associates that taking out Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the War on Terror? Adamant about there being very little possibility that America haters Hussein and al Qaeda would ever collaborate, much less carpool to a US flag burning?

Then clearly you have not yet read Deroy Murdock's Saddam Hussein's Philanthropy of Terror.

Another Reason to Vote for Bush
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

The Japan Times Online has a short piece about a joint project between Hitachi and GE to bring new nuclear power plants online, possibly by 2010... now that's some good news!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Swifties Petition
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Just got an email from the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth list -- they have a petition that people may sign to demand Kerry set his Vietnam record straight. Signatures were up above 32k when I signed it... Spread the word!

Limosine Liberals
from the mind of  ME=mc^2.

Today's Wall Street Journal reports that according to Teresa Heinz Kerry's 2003 tax return, Mrs. Kerry earned $5.07 million. This seems like a surprizingly small number for someone worth over a billion dollars. Moreover, $2.78 million of that income came from tax-exempt interest from state, municipal and public entity bonds. These are the sorts of investments that expensive tax attorneys and accountants advise rich people to put their money into. The Wall Street Journal goes on to note that her remaining taxable income was $2.29 million on which Mrs. Kerry paid $627,150 in taxes. Here's the clincher: Her overall average federal tax rate was only 12.4% on her $5.07 million in total income. The average taxpayer paid 14.2%.

Where's that book?
from the mind of  Duke.

At lunch today I walked to Costco to pick up a copy of Ann Coulter's latest book, How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must). A few days previously there had been several large stacks of them, but today there were none in sight. I told myself that at least her book must be selling well to disappear so quickly, and wandered off to look for otter pops and wine (don't you love Costco?).

But the missing books just seemed too strange, and I walked back to see if I had just overlooked them the first time around. A closer examination revealed that the books in the political section didn't all line up properly. A little digging revealed that atop each stack of Coulter's book, someone had placed one by Michael Moore. There were four or five stacks, so it was clearly done intentionally.

This isn't the first time I've seen such behavior. When Unfit for Command had just come out, I walked into Waldenbooks to see if they were stocking it. I wasn't looking to buy, but merely to see if they were carrying it, as other bookstore chains had "accidentially" ordered too few copies. They did have the book, sitting it the number one spot on the bestseller rack. But somebody had carefully turned around each and every copy so that the title was not in view.

Isn't it strange that the same people who so loudly complain that their right to free speech is being taken away would resort to this sort of censorship?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The new Jehovah's Witnesses...
from the mind of  Daredemo.

When I got home friday evening I found somebody had hung a long strip of paper on my door emblazened with "Vote Early". On the other side was a 3 point list with a URL. The list I thought was interesting:

1. If you VOTE EARLY, the progressive coalition will put you on the "DO NOT CALL LIST" and you should not be bothered with any more calls during the final 2 weeks of the election!

2. Since you already know how you are going to vote, it is easiest and most convenient to get it out of the way and VOTE EARLY!

3. By mailing your ballot early, you can make sure your vote will get there on time and be counted!

That's right -- don't think about it! Vote quick! Then followed a few paragraphs of (paraphrasing) "well we don't endorse a particular candidate, but since you can tell the world is about to end, there's wars everywhere, everyone's lost their job, its probably time for a change isn't it?"

My first reaction was: hmm -- polls last week had Kedwards as high as they ever have been -- wonder if this means they're worried something will change that... BTW, it should be noted that these folks, it appears, only visit voters registered Democrat or independent.

But anyway, I then came back to something I was thinking about after watching the edwards of Kedwards use the "they see it on their television every single day" argument in his debate with Cheney, to try to show that things were going terribly in Iraq. The Left really remind me of Jehovah's Witnesses. The arguments they use, and now it appears methods, are almost identical.

One of the more misspent periods of my misspent youth involved attempting to convert a Jehovah's Witness that showed up at my door, to something resembling sanity. One day an older gentleman in a very stiff looking polyester suit and slightly too small looking hat knocked on my door with a tall teenish looking young man silently standing behind him. After some usual "howareyoudoingisn'ttheweathernicetoday..." sort of pleasantries he began to look very concerned: "aren't all the wars we see everywhere on TV nowadays terrible? It wasn't always like this..." I shrugged & said that we also didn't always have 24 hour news networks to tell us about all the wars everywhere. Young man's brows furrowed a bit, but he remained silent. Mr Polyester: "And all these terrible new diseases -- all the cancer..." I said we probably die of all these terrible new diseases now because we've figured out how to cure the old more terrible diseases that would have killed us sooner. The young man stayed quiet, but looked a bit worried. The next week the older gentleman returned, alone, and thus followed several weekly meetings culminating in my handing over a thick folder of checked references from one of their books, with originals photocopied and misquotes highlighted. Never saw him again.

It seems to me the Left and Jehovah's Witnesses target the same people -- the soft minded. If you didn't think about whats said too deeply -- hey yeah, there really are a lot of wars everywhere, and come to think of it all you hear about nowadays is stuff like cancer! You say if I were go join up everything will be OK? I'll be saved from impending doom? Yumpin Yiminy! Gimme some o' them holy skivvies and a blue suit! Click yer heels & call the Watchtower -- I'm signin up!

By the same token the Left whine insessantly, and now canvas door to door, about how the world is such a scary place, that America is evil-- don't you feel ashamed?! Europe is. People are losing their jobs everywhere! Your grandma will be left out in the street! But hey, join us and it will all be OK. We'll make it better, we have a plan! And the sick will stand up from their wheelchairs and walk again! Come. Join us. Here. We have some special patchouli scented longjohns for you.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Greetings from San Diego
from the mind of  Duke.

Us Extraordinary Gentlemen have a habit of congregating in unusual places. Here's Duke and Cowgirlup on the flight deck of the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier that served our country for 47 years.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Tax Cuts a "Redistribution" of Wealth???
from the mind of  Zeke_Wilkins.

Today a friend of mine sent a copy of an email his mother had received that criticized the President. Most of the email was pretty standard garbage, but the last "point" contained a novel level of stupidity and selfishness that grabbed my attention and made my blood boil. Below in italics is an excerpt of the criticism, and my (slightly edited) response in bold:

George W. Bush believes in the redistribution of wealth to the richest, at the expense of the poor. His new "middle class" tax cut actually sees 44% of the benefits going to the top 20% of the country. The middle class only sees ten percent. Healthcare is a disaster as close to 50 million Americans don't have any health insurance. Bush has consistently sided with corporations at the expense of the poor. His offer of up to $3,000 per family to purchase healthcare is insulting as the current costs are more than $8,000. John Kerry has supported real tax breaks for the middle class and working poor. He has vowed to eliminate corporate greed and handouts to the wealthiest Americans.

To use the term "redistribution" to denote allowing people to keep the money they earn is so disingenuous as to warrant contempt. Redistribution is taxing the rich at a rate far higher than you would the middle and lower classes, then spending that money on a slew of programs that not only fail to deal with the problems of healthcare, homelessness and unemployment; but concurrently foster feelings of entitlement toward government handouts and an unmitigated reliance on government rather than personal initiative. People have the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor; and taking from the wealthy to give to the poor is not only a moral wrong; it is bad public policy. Stealing from the rich is still theft; and stealing for the poor is as morally wrong as ignoring them.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Roll Out!
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

I'm heading down to Central Point, OR to see the President tonight, and possibly some pretty great people that are reportedly traveling with him. I'm excited, to say the least.

I made this pin to wear:

Maybe it will get some exposure.

I hope to have pictures posted by midnight. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Effortless Voting?
from the mind of  Zeke_Wilkins.

How is it that the loudest cries for social activism and the registration of new voters are also the laziest jerks on the planet?

First you have all these "get out the vote" drives. Am I the only person who thinks that only people who actually take the time to seek out a means of registering to vote, should actually vote? Yes, voting is a right, but do we really want people who have to wait until they are approached in public to register, to participate in the upcoming election? It is a sad and telling move by the political left when they resort to the kind of hand-holding they engage in to register voters. Make no mistake, liberals are banking on these uninformed and unmotivated newly registered voters to turn out in droves to vote for their man Kerry.

Another annoying manifestation of this helpless mindset can be evidenced in a letter to the editor of the Oregon Daily Emerald (found here), written by nutty professor Frank Stahl. Dr. Stahl is upset that University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmeyer did not take more steps to establish a quorum at the 2003 University Senate vote to authorize the University to take a political stand on the war in Iraq. Hey Frank, here's a thought: maybe you couldn't get a quorum because people either didn't care about your agenda, or had enough intellectual honesty to admit that it isn't the job of a University to take such a stand. Yes there were obstacles for people intent on attending the vote, but truly passionate voters will overcome such hurdles. Your pacifist drivel just didn't inspire enough individuals for you to get your quorum: go cry in the corner.

Finally, it has been pointed out that the level of security to ensure the identity of voters in Afgahnistan's recent election puts the measures taken in the U.S. to shame. Drudge is now reporting a new voter fraud scandal in Colorado (see here), and proposals to require photo ID at polling places is routinely called "racist" or simply painted as an attempt to reduce the turnout of blacks and the poor.

I'd like to see more effort on the part of voters: more effort to register themselves without having to be browbeaten in supermarket parking lots and college campuses, more effort to become informed, and more effort to support measures that protect the integrity of the election. Let's all reclaim voting as a right and a tradition that requires effort and sacrifice.

Guns At Lane Community College (Oregon)
from the mind of  Zeke_Wilkins.

Lane Community College has been told by its attorney that the current policy of banning handguns is legally untenable. A potential policy change is in the works. Can you hear the paranoid anti-gunners screaming yet? The story can be found in the Register Guard [sorry, I tried linking to it and had troubles].

Hopefully the policy change will go smoothly and will bring the LCC into compliance with Oregon state statute. Several surrounding public school districts have already done so; while the bastion of tolerance and diversity, the University of Oregon, treats its faculty, staff and students and homicidal dolts who can be trusted with cars and alcohol, but not firearms.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bush to Visit S. Oregon
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Here is the page that will give details about a Bush rally in Central Point. I will try to make it down there and report back.

The Real Coalition of the Bribed
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Read it. Great Britain, Japan, Poland, Australia... well... they just don't seem to be on this list.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

John Kerry for Heisman
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

This is one of those 'must see' pages. I think it really highlights some reasons not to use botox. I hear that his boyhood dream was to play at 'Lambert Field'. I think it's somewhere in Wisconsin....

My take on Oregon's ballot measures...
from the mind of  Daredemo.

I finally checked my (physical) mailbox and found the ballot measures edition of the Oregon State voter's pamphlet had arrived sometime this week. I usually try to spend a fair amount of time going through this, so since we're doing this blog I thought it might be worthwhile documenting my conclusions... Enjoy!

Measure 31

Amends Constitution: Authorizes law permitting postponement of election for particular public office when nominee for office dies

This appears to be a general maintenance measure, currently if the candidate for an office wins the election, but dies before taking office (or vice versa, dead guy winning election), either the incumbent stays in office until another election is held, or there's a a vacancy depending on the office involved. Its apparently connected to Oregon Senate Bill 552, that passed, which requires major parties to replace deceased candidates. Sounds like it can help prevent some of the shenanigans certain parties have a propensity to do in this situtation...


Measure 32

Amends Constitution: Deletes reference to mobile homes from provision dealing with taxes and fees on motor vehicles

Another "maintenance" measure. Mobile homes appear to be currently regulated by the Dept. of Motor Vehicles whether they are indeed mobile or not. Apparently they must even have a license plate. This measure moves them to being treated like usual stationary houses for tax and housing code purposes (since these things tend to fare the worst in natural disasters, mobile homes being subject to housing codes rather than vehicle codes sounds like a good idea). They will be regulated as vehicles if in transit though.


Measure 33

Amends Medical Marijuana Act: Requires marijuana dispensaries for supplying patients/caregivers; raises patients' possession limit

I'm marginally divided on this one, being somewhat libertarian minded, I could care less what chemicals people choose to stick in their bodies, as long as they aren't driving the airplane I'm riding in. But this seems to be a very good formula for abuse and corruption -- introduce new bureaucracy and minimize the qualifications for one to be a part of it. All relating to a substance thats still technically illegal and in high demand. This looks to me like it was written with the forethought and attention to detail that only a pothead can give. I am also somewhat swayed by the Oregon Medical Association's argument in opposition. The fact that it will cost money to implement seals it.


Measure 34

Requires balancing timber production, resource conservation/preservation in managing state forests; specifically addresses two forests

So in the 30's and 40's forests in northwestern Oregon were essentially destroyed by a series of large wildfires now called the "Tillamook Burn". If ever there was a case for managing our forests this was it. Those forests now are reaching maturity, and this appears to be an effort by environmentalists to prevent harvesting the timber from these forests. I don't see why Californians should have any more pull over how Oregon's forests are managed than they do now. Further, enacting this will both decrease state revenues and increase expenditures, not something to do when the state's bleeding money.


Measure 35

Amends Constitution: Limits noneconomic damages (defined) recoverable for patient injuries caused by healthcare provider's negligence or recklessness

This is the anti John Edwards measure. It only caps subjective "pain and suffering" damages to $500,000 in cases of nonintentional negligence. The $500,000 cap would increase linearly with the Consumer Price Index each year to adjust for inflation (deflation?). It is opposed by organizations like OSPIRG and AFT, organizations I use as reliable litmus tests to vote opposite to.


Measure 36

Amends Constitution: only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or legally recognized as marriage

Despite the hype surrounding it, this is also just another maintenance measure. Currently the only requirement on parties wishing to be married are:
106.010 Marriage as civil contract; age of parties. Marriage is a civil contract entered into in person by males at least 17 years of age and females at least 17 years of age, who are otherwise capable, and solemnized in accordance with ORS 106.150.

The issue here is that this taken alone could require any combination of males or females of any species that are 18 years (17 year old creatures require parental permission, and therefore sentience) of age or older to enter into marriage. It also appears that there is no restriction on number that may enter into a marriage, the only restriction there is that they are not already currently married. Though now that I read through the law further I see:
106.150 Form of solemnization; witnesses; solemnization before congregation. (1) In the solemnization of a marriage no particular form is required except that the parties thereto shall assent or declare in the presence of the clergyperson, county clerk or judicial officer solemnizing the marriage and in the presence of at least two witnesses, that they take each other to be husband and wife.

OK, "each other" implies two. But then the "husband and wife" line there also appears fairly clear, were circumstances normal I would say thats good enough, and oppose the change. But some local authorities seem to view that as vague, and have issued hundreds of licenses to male-male, and female-female couples. So far I have not yet heard of nonhumans being issued marriage licenses in Oregon, but I believe currently there is no restriction on this. By current standards a guy could legally marry an 18 year old parrot in the state of Oregon.

The new language added would be:
It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage

This makes the law clear as to what makes up a marriage. One man and one woman. Implicit in that is that they both be human. Also note that there is no language here restricting people of any sexual preference from entering into a marriage. A homosexual man can marry a homosexual woman just as legally as a heterosexual pair.


Measure 37

Governments must pay owners, or forgo enforcement, when certain land use restrictions reduce property value

Although in principle I believe limiting the government's ability to control private land use is a very good thing, I'm not certain this is the way to do it. For example, I know that there are currently very strong restrictions on rural land use, which severely limit the ability of the owner to build any kind of structure on it. Limits like that kill economic development. This measure does not relieve that problem, and instead appears to require the state to reimburse landowners millions of dollars for past and current land use revisions. Far better would be to revise/remove those restrictions, and allow economic development that would contribute to state coffers in the long term.


Measure 38

Abolishes SAIF; state must reinsure, satisfy saif's obligations; dedicates proceeds, potential surplus to public purposes

I don't like the idea of SAIF in general -- a government run insurance company. However, as I peruse the voters pamphlet I see that this measure roughly is a dispute between SAIF and a competing private insurance company, Liberty Mutual. SAIF wants to continue to exist, Liberty Mutual wants it to go away. One possibility is that if SAIF disappears it will allow Liberty Mutual to raise its rates. Liberty Mutual seems to argue that SAIF will run it out of business and become a monopoly. I don't know, I'm not insured by either one, so that in itself doesn't do a lot for me. What does sway this for me though is the estimate of financial impact. In there it is claimed that passing this bill will drop state revenue by $405 million per year, while reducing expenditures by $301 million per year. That and some simple subtraction then tells me that SAIF makes the state $104 million per year. Further, killing SAIF apparently will cost the state a one time shot of $2.2-2.4 BILLION. (for comparison it looks like that number is more than half what the Governor's 2003-5 proposed budget wants to spend on all higher education, or is approximately the same as what is to be spent on all public safety). So based on that, whatever kind of beastie SAIF is, it appears to pay for itself, and would cost a heck of a lot to abolish.


OK, so there you go -- if you're still awake, that's how I think I'm going to vote on these guys.

Afganistan Candidates lear from Gore
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Is the DNC in Afghanistan? It looks as though no elections are ever going to be held without fraud and disenfranchisement arguments. Way to go, DNC! In 2000, you ushered in a new era of distrust in the democratic process.

Might I say, all of these issues only matter in a close election. If an election is a landslide, then any effect from fraud or voting irregularities won't be strong enough to skew the results... Unless it is a really big fraud or irregularity.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Evan's Post Debate Wrap Up
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Transcript of Debate #2 here.
A few fact checks at CNN from the debates
The CIA report on Iraqi Weapons. You should read this if you haven't. I wouldn't trust the media to interpret it for you. At least read the 'Key findings' part. It sure reads differently than Mr. Kerry's interpretation. Anyone who says 'The Sanctions were WORKING!!!' hasn't read this report, or they have on some very powerful liberal blinders.

Thoughts about online polls: The democratic party and many of their sympathizers have been in force trying to get people to flood the online polls and be sure that the different media outlets can report that Kerry won the debate, based on those polls. Well... two things that we could do. One, we could try to match their floods and balance their votes. But, more effectively, we could go to the same polls and vote for kerry, so the results are so lopsided that they would not be believable. I personally only endorse this approach on non-scientific polls, like the one at MSNBC, or CBS. Well, they are pretty easy to find.

Damning Documentary of Kerry's positions on National Security A must see. Trust me. (hat tip, Blogs for Bush)

Bush Kills!
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

In a comedic sense, that is. It was great to see the President not hold back and speak the truth about his opponent. The opposition's cheap shots have not gone unanswered now, and with force the President showed his conviction and ideas to the American public. All I have to say is: Way to go, Prez! I'm proud to have you leading me.

Now, let's go off and vote on the online polls for Bush. He was the clear winner in this one.

FBI at the Border
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Progress in Homeland Security. good news on keeping foreign criminals out of our country. If you believe JK and JE, you would never be able to believe that this is happening.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Tax on Men for Violence on Women Proposed
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Luckily, in Sweeden. This is what happens when the government takes over your life. People actually look at taxing all men to pay for the low number of men who cause problems. How about this: Enforce laws that protect your citizens. Throw woman-beaters in jail, and make jail a not nice place. They might make good cars, but they don't make good government.

Diplomacy at work....

North Korea is running out of time. It has been pretty amazing to see the side-by-side differences between the diplomatic processes with the DPRK compared to the process that we used with Iraq. If Iraq had been freed of the sanctions or was able to obtain Nuclear Weaponry (or other kinds of weapons that could cause mass destruction of life and property), could you imagine the prospects of 6 party talks with Saddam? I don't think so. Now that the DPRK has it's finger on the red button at all times, we are not really left with many currently accepted options but to deal with this diplomaticly. Of course we could just obliterate the entire northern half of the Korean Peninsula and not have the problem to deal with any more, but we, as a country, have prioritized reducing civilian casualties in our military actions. Hopefully Mr. ElBaradei will be able to generate some force to deal with the regime in one way or another. It would be nice if the international community would step up on its own instead of having to be lead by the 20 or 30 nations that are willing to defend all free countries.

I just can't stop thinking about how much of a joke 6 party talks with Saddam would have been. They would have been as useful as a deadbolt lock on a tent. Or perhaps a bottle of sunblock on a spelunking trip. Oh! Oh! I'll stop now. I don't want to cause any hernias from laughing too hard....

Saddam's Obsessions

Since Saddam was obsessed with Iran as an enemy, one can only assume that Saddam was planning on reviving his Nuke Program. Iran has been fairly public about their Nuclear program, and their main rival as military superpower in the middle east (Except for Israel, but in the minds of Iran and Saddam's Iraq, Israel didn't count.) one could only assume that the nuclearization of Iran would have lead to the nuclearization of a de-sanctioned Iraq. Once again, another reason to remove Saddam. Now on to those mullahs....

Peace through strength sure has its upsides, doesn't it?

from the mind of  Duke.

Bill Whittle has posted another of his phenomenal essays. Stop reading our crappy blog and go have a look.

Media incompetence
from the mind of  Daredemo.

Now admittedly this is a more or less local news issue, and doesn't technically have anything to do with politics, but I think this is relevant as some sort of illustration why many people now turn to Dan Rather's men in pajamas, who tend to be experts in their respective fields (in his case typography), for information instead of what used to be 'orthodox' media.

I (and probably many other viewers of Northwest Cable News) observed a very strange exchange at the end of this morning's Mt St Helens press conference, announcing the Mt. St. Helens alert level being reduced to level 2 ("clock's ticking"), down from level 3 ("she's gonna blow!"). As the conference ended and was breaking up, the presiding USGS geologist (whose name I unfortunately forget) backed a short distance from the microphone, and was greeted by a reporter who commented that she had just arrived, and "missed the whole thing". (Her affiliation is unknown -- actually NWCN has been doing a reasonable job covering the mountain, so she's probably not affiliated with them) The geologist smiled, and made some comment like "sorry to hear that, its been quite a show". She then began to berate him because she was under the impression that the mountain was going to erupt at any time, and how dare he change that. To his credit the geologist politely mentioned that in fact the mountain had erupted several times in the past few days, and they do still expect it to erupt more in the coming weeks if not months. The screen went black just before she could stomp her feet with the tearful exclamation "Daddy, make it do it again!".

Now I don't think I need to comment on why her attitude was completely silly, everyone with even a cursory understanding of oh, I don't know, life in general, knows that volcanoes erupt on their own timescale, and not when its convenient for the press. What Mt. St. Helens seems to be doing now actually looks consistent with events leading up to past eruptions in that there often have been periods of steam & small ash bursts interspersed with periods when the mountain didn't seem to be doing a whole lot at all. But the issue here isn't what the mountain is doing or not doing, but why should such an ignorant individual be dispatched to cover this sort of news? Fact is, those of us in science (as my fellow conspirators here can attest) see the press behaving stupidly when covering science events all the time. This week I've seen Geraldo Rivera completely "mis-remember" the events of May 18 1980 that he claims to have witnessed, and if I had a dollar for every time I've seen a reporter talk about "magna" (that's not a typo, nor a geological anything) erupting from the mountain I'd be quite rich.

I've studied science for most of my life now, and throughout that time have seen the press continually demonstrate an utter lack of any understanding when attempting to report it. I have always wondered whether their reporting of other topics that I may not necessarily be familiar with shows the same level of incompetence. Since September 11, I, probably like most people, became much more engaged following world events, and quickly found that the media continually mis-quotes speeches and misrepresents documents. I now try to use CSPAN and original documents as much as possible to understand the news. I frequently look at the reporting coming from Iraqi bloggers, several of which are linked on this page, and see a completely different picture as is reported by the residents of the Al Rashid hotel's bar. We often talk of media bias, and how there's some diabolical conspiracy between the left and the media, but I think fundamentally the answer here is that the members of the media are simply lazy and really are just as dumb as rocks. And as we all know, if you don't pay attention or think too carefully, you'll more than likely gravitate to the left politically.

OK, good -- now I've turned a volcanic eruption into a political issue, so will therefore yield the soapbox. Enjoy.

Saddam's weapon-building intent
from the mind of  Evan Kruse.

Report details Saddam's weapon-building intent - The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA

We may never know the extent of what was to come, but I think that is much better than the 'wait and see' approach that I'm sure we would be taking under an administration of the other party. I am so comforted that our current administration won't wait for another attack to happen in order to take these guys out.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Fahrenhype 9/11
from the mind of  Zeke_Wilkins.

For those who haven't heard, Dick Morris has created a rebuttal of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Featuring Zell Miller, Ann Coulter, Ed Koch, Morris himself, Ron Silver, David Frum and others, the movie systematically responds to the allegations in Fahrenheit. I watched it after the Veep debate and it was great. Certainly worth the $4 that Blockbuster charged. Furthermore, I was happy Blockbuster actually chose to carry it, since in an interview with Sean Hannity, Morris said there was some uncertainty as to how wide the circulation would be.

To Win the Peace in Iraq, Win the War First
from the mind of  ME=mc^2.

During the question and answer period at an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld commented that "you cannot allow a series of safe havens or a consistent pattern of misbehavior, anti-social behavior, violence against the government of Iraq, to go on over a sustained period of time." But that's in fact just what they've done. To wit, the ongoing insurgency in Fallujah and the broader Sunni triangle. The appearance if not the reality is that whoever is calling the shots in Iraq -- whether Paul Bremer, General Abizaid, or most recently Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi -- is prematurely preoccupied with winning the peace when in fact the war has not yet been won.

Victory in Iraq, tragically, will claim more civilian casualties: They can come either as the result of this perpetual relatively low level tit-for-tat fighting, terrorist attacks, and car bombings, or as the result of collateral damage as the insurgents in the Sunni Triangle are crushed by the American Military, our allies, and the Iraqi Security forces.

It's time for the Bush Administration, the allied commanders on the ground in Iraq, and Prime Minister Allawi to face up to three fundamental facts. First, a moral one. It is the enemy terrorists, not we Americans, our allies, or the Iraqi Security forces, who choose to turn schools into armories, mosques into bases, and neighborhoods in battle grounds. It is they, not we, who target civilians. As the historian Victor Davis Hanson has noted, "there is a difference, a moral difference, between deliberately targeting civilians in peace and deliberating attempting to avoid them in war." Second, a political fact. Failure to defeat these terrorists will place the elections scheduled for January into grave jeopardy. And third, a historical fact. In war, true and lasting victory only comes after an enemy is defeated, his ideas discredited, his hopes for victory lost, and his will to fight on exhausted. The few remaining enemy survivors must be made to believe deeply that fighting on will result only in the complete and utter destruction of everything they hold dear. General Curtis LeMay, British Air Marshal Arthur Harris, and President Harry Truman probably weren't concerned with "winning the peace" when they ordered, respectively, the fire-bombing of Tokyo, the destruction of Dresden, and the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Instead, all three were trying to win the war.

To put not too fine a point on it, winning the peace will be much easier after the war is won.