Thursday, November 25, 2004

On the Road Again...

...and back in -dial-up hell. Posting will be a little light until I return home. To all my fellow Americans wherever you are now, I'd like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Chrenkoff Reports Good News From Iraq, Part 15

Check out what has evolved into the indispensible source for the good news coming out of Iraq. It's there, contrary to what our so-called mainstream media would have you believe. Arthur Chrenkoff has another doozy of an update and it's well worth the time.

Observation vs. Actual: There's A Difference

Fox News is reporting this morning that the NBC freelancer who filmed the sure-to-be-infamous Marine shooting the wounded terrorist as saying the terrorist "didn't move" before the shot was fired. That's the headline. The actual story, however, quotes Sites as saying, "Aside from breathing, I did not observe any movement at all." I have a problem with Fox's headlining here. First, they call the wounded "insurgent" a "prisoner." There were no Coalition forces present guarding him. There was no sign that the area was secure as yet. How is it that this insurgent qualified as a prisoner? Also, Sites was very specific in saying he "didn't observe" any movement, not that there wasn't any. All that says is that Sites didn't see anything, not that there was nothing for him to see.

Site's implications, however, are quite clear and I'm less upset with Fox over the headline than I would normally be. Sites prefaces his comment with the qualification that he was "not watching from a hundred feet away. I was in the same room." Yes, he was. Looking through the eyepiece of a camera, if you are to take him at his word. So, he's got 1 eye glued to a viewfinder which is, at best, a 2-inch square screen and perhaps not even in color. His focus was clearly not directed specifically at the insurgent on the ground, it was on the scene as a whole, including a rather animated Marine. I question Site's ability to detect small movements at that range, at that angle, with that kind of limited viewing area.

Let's not lose sight of the issue, however. It could very well have happened exactly as Sites is painting the picture. The Marine, pissed off in general, finds a wounded insurgent and puts a round into him in revenge. Possible? Sure, absolutely. Wrong? You betcha. 110% not sanctioned by the USMC or by the public here at home. Nor should it be, I firmly believe. An investigation should commence, and has commenced. If the Marine is found to have done this shooting in the way I've just described, he should be punished for it.

Of course, this presumes we're going to actually do an investigation and determine the facts. This is my largest problem with Sites to date. He seems quite hell-bent to prove that the Marine shot a wounded, helpless man, not that he was defending himself against a treacherous enemy combatant. He first makes damn sure to provide the tape to the networks - including a network known to be engaged in anti-American propaganda overseas - before providing them to the Marine command structure. Then he takes pains to write on a blog his conclusions on the incident and offers his eyewitness testimony to the public with no chance for the Marine, the Corp, or the public to cross examine. Take this same behavior and place it in context with a criminal case here in the States. Imagine that Sites had seen a police officer shoot a previously armed criminal who was wounded and down. The officer was moving to secure the area and the criminal and, seeing what he believed to be a move for a hidden weapon, fired at close range killing the perp. Now, Sites takes his tape and hands it over to the networks who play it ad nauseum on the air.

Well, you don't have to be a Law & Order fan to know what happens next. A judge would issue a gag order to the media to not play the tape. The defense attorney would be screaming to have the tape ruled inadmissable because having it aired publicly along with Site's unpracticed conclusions would represent extremely prejudicial evidence. He'd follow that up with a motion to dismiss, since that was the only evidence available. This all assumes that any District Attorney or Commonwealth's Attorney would touch the case at that point. Getting an unbiased jury seated would be a nightmare. There's no way that Site's behavior would be construed to have been in the public interest. To the contrary, he would have so muddied the investigatory waters as to make seeing justice discovered, let alone seeing it done would be nearly impossible.

The fact is, the networks would likely not have aired the tape even if Sites gave it to them gift-wrapped. Their lawyers know what would happen and they might even face legal issues themselves for being a participant. But this time, it was US Soldiers doing their jobs in a war zone in a war our media clearly doesn't support. So to hell with any investigation. To hell with the Marine whose name we're dragging through the mud with no chance to rebut.

The fact is, we don't know the facts. Until we do, we're doing no one a service, no one an honor to make unsupported conclusions. Let's find out what happened, then judge.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Hybrid Hummer Replacement?

This looks, frankly, too cool for words. It'll be great if the performance measures up.

Jack Kelly On Fallujah, Media

Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gets it very right.

:::::::: The rule of thumb for the last century or so has been that for a guerrilla force to remain viable, it must inflict seven casualties on the forces of the government it is fighting for each casualty it sustains, says former Canadian army officer John Thompson, managing director of the Mackenzie Institute, a think tank that studies global conflicts.

By that measure, the resistance in Iraq has had a bad week. American and Iraqi government troops have killed at least 1,200 fighters in Fallujah, and captured 1,100 more. Those numbers will grow as mop-up operations continue.

These casualties were inflicted at a cost (so far) of 56 Coalition dead (51 Americans), and just over 300 wounded, of whom about a quarter have returned to duty.

"That kill ratio would be phenomenal in any [kind of] battle, but in an urban environment, it's revolutionary," said retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, perhaps America's most respected writer on military strategy. "The rule has been that [in urban combat] the attacking force would suffer between a quarter and a third of its strength in casualties."

The victory in Fallujah was also remarkable for its speed, Peters said. Speed was necessary, he said, "because you are fighting not just the terrorists, but a hostile global media."

Jack Kelly is national security writer for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, by the way. (Contact him at, 412-263-1476, if you like.) Peters is quite correct. The US and Iraqi forces engaged in the Fallujah operation have conducted an immensely successful operation. Not that you'd know it listening to our news media, of course. Kelly continues:

::::::::The swift capture of Fallujah is taxing the imagination of Arab journalists and -- sadly -- our own. How does one portray a remarkable American victory as if it were of little consequence, or even a defeat? For CNN's Walter Rodgers, camped out in front the main U.S. military hospital in Germany, you do this by emphasizing American casualties.

For The New York Times and The Washington Post, you do this by emphasizing conflict elsewhere in Iraq.

But the news organs that liken temporary terrorist success in Mosul (the police stations they overran were recaptured the next day) with what happened to the terrorists in Fallujah is false equivalence of the worst kind. If I find a quarter in the street, it doesn't make up for having lost $1,000 in a poker game the night before.

The resistance has suffered a loss of more than 2,000 combatants, out of a total force estimated by U.S. Central Command at about 5,000 (other estimates are higher) as well as its only secure base in the country. But both the Arab media and ours emphasize that the attack on Fallujah has made a lot of Arabs mad. By this logic, once we've killed all the terrorists, they'll be invincible.

"The experience of human history has been the more people you kill, the weaker they get," Thompson noted.

For the Arab and European media, the old standby is to allege American atrocities. In this they have had invaluable assistance from Kevin Sites, a free lancer working for NBC, who filmed a Marine shooting a wounded Iraqi feigning death in a mosque his squad was clearing. Al Jazeera has been showing the footage around the clock.

The mutilated body of Margaret Hassan, the aid worker kidnapped in Baghdad last month, has been discovered in Fallujah, as have torture chambers. Residents of Fallujah have been describing a reign of terror by the insurgents. But it is the Marine's alleged "war crime" that is garnering the most attention.

Those Pesky Rules Of War

I guess the media has been too busy wailing about a Marine who shot a wounded terrorist to carry this story too far:

::::::::In Fallujah, where U.S. Marines and soldiers are still battling pockets of resistance, insurgents waved a white flag of surrender before opening fire on U.S. troops and causing casualties, Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert said Saturday without elaborating.::::::::

Cronkite Wants New Elections; Voters Too Stupid To Vote Correctly

Walter Cronkite was once considered the most trusted man in America. I remember listening to him myself as a boy. It wouldn't be for several years that I learned of his infamous declaration that America could not win the Vietnam War in the midst of the catastrophic rout of NVA forces by American and South Vietnamese troops in the Tet Offensive. His simple utterance - one completely unsupported by the facts - was the straw the broke the back of the American public's will and forced the withdrawl of US forces from Vietnam under Nixon. Nothing happens in a vaccum, I'd like to remind the reader, and what is casually left out of whatever history texts are used today on the Vietnam War is what happened to the people of South Vietnam after we pulled our last people off the roof of the embassy in Saigon. Millions killed. Millions more forced to run. Where do you think the term "boat people" came from?

Regarding Cronkite, however, you'd think that a man with 30 years of hindsight available to him - 30 years of research and reporting that shows that the Tet Offensive was most assuredly not a stalemate and certainly not a loss - such a man would be careful in spouting off again. Apparently not.

::::::::What America needs right now, legendary TV anchor Walter Cronkite said Thursday, is a new election -- and, he warned a laughing press conference full of reporters, he wasn't kidding.

''That's not entirely a joke,'' Cronkite said solemnly, arguing that the Bush administration has spent itself into ruin while embroiling the country in a war that will eventually make public revulsion to the war in Vietnam look ``like peanuts.''

''I think you journalists today have a great four years ahead of you,'' Cronkite observed dryly. ``It's going to be a great story to cover.''

Cronkite -- in South Florida on a promotional visit for the Fisher Island Philanthropic Fund, a children's charity -- spent 30 years at CBS News, including 18 as anchor of the network's evening newscast, before retiring in 1982.

His retirement has mostly been a quiet one. But during the past year, Cronkite -- who turned 88 earlier this month -- has made some startling departures from his old just-the-facts anchorman's demeanor. He proclaimed that most journalists are liberals and praised them for it, and accused Republican political operative Karl Rove of orchestrating the release of a new Osama bin Laden tape last month to help President Bush win reelection.

On Thursday, he whacked away at the Bush administration even harder, accusing it of destroying the nation's infrastructure and wrecking its education system to the point that American democracy itself is in danger.

''You want to get down to the nub of how this democracy is going to defend itself,'' Cronkite said. ``We've got to have an intelligent electorate and we're not going to have it because our education system is in a shambles right now.''

Well, let's just take a look at these declarations, OK? We don't have an "intelligent electorate". Well, isn't that nice? Too damn bad we're all such stupid, drooling morons unlike Mr. Cronkite. Nice to know we have such a massive intellect looking out for us and ready to point down from the mountain to highlight our sentience-challenged horrificly wrong decisions, isn't it? Yes, I'm feeling just ready to explode with my pride and agreement that Mr. Cronkite is the man because he thinks I'm too stupid to breed.

For this point alone, Mr. Cronkite: fuck off. If your demeanor and actions are supposed to be the mark of intelligence, I'm thinking it's the so-called intelligencia here in America that's living in the low end of the electorate's intellgence.

Not to mention the obvious glee he's feeling over how the legions of journalists today - mostly liberals, you'll note, and he's damn glad to see that - will have a great time covering the story of how the war on terror is making the public (Now, is that the same public that's too dumb to vote correctly?) recoil worse than the media made it look like everyone was doing 30 years ago when John Kerry was telling us all about the war criminals we had in uniform. Dry comment or not, he's already got the story written. Just a matter of playing it out for us poor old dumb shits back in the States. And for the record, Walt, you must really think we're dumber than a post to believe anyone possessed of any sense would just take your word for it that eeeevil mastermind Karl Rove manipulated OBL to send a tape on cue. For a guy who claimed the title "reporter" you've certainly devolved in your standards of reporting. And how about those other 2 statements you've tossed out here? That the Bush Administration has destroyed the nation's infrastructure and wrecked its education system? The education department's budget has gone UP hugely during Bush's 1st term, not down. How the hell is that to be considered "wrecking" it? Maybe you meant something else, but you don't bother to explain. Guess that's because you think I and my fellow citizens who re-elected President Bush are just too brain-dead to understand?

And the infrastructure? Care to get a little bit more specific? I'd imagine not, since that would entail actually defending an accusation.

Of course, when asked for his views on something closer to home, he suddenly gets a case of the "ethical laryngitis".

::::::::But he backed away from a question about the troubles at his old network, where an independent panel is investigating a report by Cronkite's replacement, Dan Rather, that raised questions about President's Bush's Vietnam-era service in the National Guard.

''I'm not going to comment on the Dan Rather matter until the investigators come up with their report,'' said Cronkite. ``I've had great difficulty keeping my lips buttoned, but so far I've made it.''

That's a matter of opinion, sir. Of course, I can understand why you'd like to avoid talking about a reporter who's allowed his personal agenda to color his reporting, while at the same time claiming to be an intelligent objective. Guess that must be my education suddenly kicking in.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Electronic Voting: Can It Work?

Not content to accept the results of the elections - even after the Kerry Campaign recognized the numbers just aren't there - the Left in this country is now attempting to argue that massive voter fraud occurred everywhere in such numbers that (you guessed it) Bush didn't win "this time either." The primary focus of their efforts regards the electronic voting systems in use in a variety of locations around the country and the security/veracity of such systems.

Excellent points.

As I have read it over the last several months, there are a number of such systems made and used around the country. Diebold appears to be the biggie here, but that's just my take on it based on the stories I read. Now, before I get started, I want to make a couple of things clear. First, foremost: I accept the results of the election and I recognize George Bush as President of the United States. Nothing so far put out here suggests problems of such a magnitude as to overturn the results of the election. I believe that people who are still striving to that end are wasting their time and the time of the majority of voting citizenry who elected President Bush. I further believe that if they contend to be members of this democracy, they should accept the will of the democracy and start bending some of this effort they're expending to meeting the stated goals of the democracy. Time will come that their side is the winning side in an election and they will be expecting those of us who prevailed in this election to do the same.

Secondly, I'm a network engineer whose specialty is designing and implementing computer networks that provide services in a redundantly robust fashion and protect the data transported from both interception and loss of integrity. That's my day job. I make networks that are there when people need them and slam 5-foot thick iron doors in the face of people not authorized to use them. While it feels strange to actually say this, I'm an expert in the field and recognized as such by a number of folks in departments of the government for whom that kind of talent is a requirement. I am qualified to speak on the topic of electronic voting systems and the security features they have.

So whose bright idea was it to make a system that isn't logging an audit trail? Diebold's system does not have a hardcopy feature in place. If you've ever seen the movie "Sneakers", you've seen such a device even if you didn't recognize it. When the Sneakers team is working to enter a secure building, they have to swipe an ID card over a reader to get through several doors. Every time such a swipe is made, a printer at the guard station prints off a line or two indicating who just entered and what door they passed. That's a hardcopy audit device. That's there so forensics can follow the trail of who entered what door and when even in the event of a total computer failure. Does that sound like a good idea for a national voting system? I think so. And before anyone tells me that this isn't really used today - I pass by 3 of them on my way to my desk every morning.

I read somewhere (and I wish I could find it now) that Deibold's engineers said they didn't have one because they couldn't couple a printer to their system. Bullcrap. It's an output device that accepts a text stream, just like the modems they found a way to hook onto their devices. They can still find serial printers, too, so don't try that one. Hey, you can even make it interactive, if you like, and run the paper through a plastic window like they do with cash register tapes at the mall. That allows someone to read what's been printed. In this instance, that would allow a voter to vote, look over at the tape, and verify that what they voted was what the machine printed. It would, in fact, slow the line down a bit but is that really an issue? That's solvable by deploying more voting machines.

Speaking of modems, let's talk about data collection. (Briefly, these stories make it sound like the voting machines are individually hooked to modems with a dial-up line connected. Some stories even make it sound like these modems will actually answer the line if someone dials into it. That's an amateur mistake, if true) I would suggest that every voting location collect all the data from their day's voting onto a local storage device, even something like a removable hard drive. With that caveat, you can then hook the voting locations up to data circuits to stream the data into a central collection point for the county. The county stores it locally, again, and then streams their collected data up to the State. Run the tally and announce the results. All the paper trails and storage devices are carried to their upline collection points and eventually all of them arrive at some State-level facility to be kept for a period of time - perhaps 2 years.

The most secure method to do that, of course, is point-to-point data circuits between the locations. That's also hideously expensive. Personally, I'd run encrypted tunnels from each site across the Internet. Yes, yes, I know. Hear me out. Nearly every voting location I've been to is at a school or county building. Virtually all of them already have Internet circuits there, so there's no install/disconnect cycle to go through. Connect to the local Internet circuit with a router capable of creating the encrypted tunnels to the collection points and allow the data to pass through them. If that's not secure enough for you, put a hardware encryption device - something that can't be hacked via software - in line between the voting machines and the new router. The voting machines' data is encrypted, passed to the router who encrypts it again and sends it out the tunnel. The opposite end reverses the process and the data comes into the clear. It can be done.

The voting systems themselves should run software coded specifically for that device. In short, the application should wake up, take a look around, and determine whether it's running in a voting machine or something else. If it's "something else", then the application should terminate. If possible, it should be running in an operating environment specifically created for it and no other. In other words, they shouldn't be running Windows 98, if you catch my meaning. Frankly, the only publicly-available operating system with the security needed for the job is BSD. Various flavors of Linux, perhaps, but not all. And absolutely no Microsoft product of any kind need apply. Create one interface for the local election worker to verify that a newly fired-up machine has no votes already on it and that it's correctly communicating on the local network. Create another for the actual voting screen and you're done. All the serious addition and reporting capability can be handled at the central collection point.

Anyone that has concerns beyond what I've already addressed I welcome you to comment. I don't suppose that I've already got all the answers regarding the system requirements for this kind of job, and that's the important part of designing the system. Feel free to join in.

(Please note, I mean "join in" as regards finding a solution for electronic voting that works, not for tossing out more unsupported accusations of voter fraud in the last election. Plenty of that going on elsewhere.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

PETA Says Fish=Dogs, Cats

Yep, PETA's at it again. But I like the attitude of Atomizer over at Fraters Libertas. Now, would that go best in an orange sauce, or honey mustard?

Time To Put Ohio Behind Us

It appears that a hugely increased percentage of provisional ballots cast in Ohio are being declared valid - about 81% of those examined. That's way, way up from the norm of 25% previously reported. Should that be the case across the state (and it would be an unprecedented level, to be sure) then 125,823 ballots will be accepted and counted. Even if we assume the nearly impossible and just say that all 125K+ votes are for Kerry, he's still just over 10,000 votes behind. Far more likely would be an outcome that roughly mirrored the State's election tally, which had 51% voting for Bush, 48% for Kerry. That puts Kerry's take of these ballots at 60,395. Still over 75K behind President Bush's totals, and let's not forget that his total would then be raised by 64,170 votes as well. Doing the math, 136,000 - 60,395 (new votes for Kerry) = Bush's lead at 75,605 votes; 75,605 + 64,170 (new votes for Bush) = Bush's lead at 139,775 votes. So what would it take to call Ohio for Kerry?

It would take the number of valid provisional ballots to get up to 88%, an increase of 7% over current levels. And Kerry has to win them all. Remember, if Kerry only takes 48% of the ballots, there's no way he can win. If he flip-flopped the percentages (pardon the term) and took 51% of the ballots instead of 48%, he could theoretically catch up. But only if there are 4,533,334 ballots. The math simply doesn't work. Bush won Ohio and it doesn't matter how you slice it. With Ohio out of Kerry's grasp, he could not - and can not - win the election. The election is decided and it's time for those who are saying Kerry really won to (pardon the term) move on. Better yet, join with your countrymen and work toward our democracy's decided goals. Make your case again in 3 years and come up with better arguments. That's the only way you can win.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

John O'Neill: Courage Under Fire

Swift Boat Vet John O'Neill has had to endure some of the most vicious attacks of the most biased of alleged "professional journalists" in the past year. Finally, an article in the Chicago Sun-Times gives the man the credit and fair handling he's been due.

::::::::Of all the targets of vitriol and attempted ambushes during the presidential campaign, I most admired John O'Neill of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth for his calm determination to stand his ground on his charges against John Kerry's Vietnam service in Unfit for Command, the book he co-authored.

O'Neill was called a ''liar'' to his face on a number of TV appearances, and, on an Oct. 14 ''Nightline,'' ABC-TV's Ted Koppel actually sent a crew to Vietnam to film alleged eyewitnesses in order to disprove one of the accounts -- how Kerry won his Silver Star -- in Unfit for Command. Casually, ABC news director Andrew Morse mentioned that ''the Vietnamese require an official minder to accompany journalists on reporting trips.'' The minder-censor from the Communist totalitarian state was there to ensure that the ''eyewitnesses'' stuck to the government script.

On camera, O'Neill told Koppel: ''You went to a country where all the elections are 100 percent elections, and you relied on people that were enemies of the United States'' for this "testimony." O'Neill repeatedly showed Koppel how the supposed eyewitnesses contradicted Kerry's own accounts in the past.

O'Neill is owed an apology - in prime time with advance advertising - by almost every news organization that reported on him during the election. The actions taken against him are beyond justifying and some nearly defy belief. When the rest of the media can be honest about things, they should begin healing their wrecked credibility by apologizing to this man who calmly stood his ground.

French Diplomacy Strikes Again

Noted at LGF, French President Chirac manages to look down his nose at America again:

:::::::: "Well, Britain gave its support but I did not see much in return," Chirac was quoted as saying in the Times. "I am not sure that it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favors systematically."::::::::

Yeah, we like that a lot. When Britain allied themselves with us against terrorism, they did it because it was the right thing to do for British citizens as well as American. What we've done together is the right thing for Afghan and Iraqi citizens as well. Chirac seems to be working specifically to keep the relations between America and France chilly as possible. I get it that he doesn't agree with what we're doing - he's made that abundantly clear. It's unnecessary and, in fact, provocative to "get personal" by impugning America's committment to her allies in this Coalition. It's just a bit too obvious an attempt at driving a wedge between us and the Brits and makes it hard not to look upon the French as hostile.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Afghanistan: Still Improving

The media lost all interest in Afghanistan when it became clear that the US-led coalition there had delivered on pretty much all the promises made. And after the elections were completed in good order, they really decided to ignore the place. Thankfully Aussie blogger Chrenkoff hasn't let up and offers his 6th episode of good things from Afghanistan. I'd pull quotes from his story, but there's way, way too much there and it's all important. Definitely worth a read.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Illegal Immigrant Issue

I've been thinking a great deal about a number of political issues lately, since well before the elections. One of them that I find myself absolutely on the other side of the fence from the President is the issue of illegal immigrants in this country. Let me state this very clearly right off the bat: I am adamantly opposed to any program being implemented that would allow someone who illegally penetrated this country's borders to remain here, let alone be granted citizenship.

From a security standpoint, it makes no sense to simply shrug off the concept that we don't know who is here from a foreign country. All the efforts we're going through to secure the airlines and all the wailing during the election of how we don't search every imported can of beans in every shipping container are useless if we don't secure the borders. That means that we don't allow people to enter illegally and when someone does, they don't stay. Period.

I know people who came here legally. The rigorous process we make them go through to even get a green card, let alone become a citizen, takes years to complete. It is not fair, in any consideration, to make those people who follow the rules wait years and then allow someone who flipped those rules the finger to stay. They get to have the same status immediately. That's not right, and I don't care what economic reasons you stack up against that realization. If they want to come here to work, great. I applaud that. But they do it by following the same rules every other immigrant has had to follow.

So, what do we do with all those that are here now? We do exactly what our laws say we're supposed to do. We arrest them and deport them. I have no problem with them coming back, so long as they do it within the normal channels. Oh, and if we had to hunt them down to get them back to their own country, that information should absolutely be kept on file. Just as those who voluntarily put themselves into the system should be commended and assisted where we can.

I've heard all the arguments about how we need these workers to do jobs "that whites won't do." I don't concede that whites won't do those jobs but what concerns me more is the part of that argument that's always left unspoken: that whites won't do the jobs at the pay being given to the illegal immigrants. And I say if there are businesses that can't make it without paying the sub-minimum wages they can get away with by employing illegals, then that business shouldn't be in business.

Amnesty, in the sense being discussed here, is a bad idea. It rewards criminal behavior and provides zero incentive to come into this country through the front door. It shouldn't be done.

Palestinian Internal Struggle Brings Gunfire

Well, that didn't take long.

::::::::GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gunfire erupted Sunday in the tent set up for mourners of Yasser Arafat (search) just after his successor as PLO leader arrived, and one Palestinian policeman was killed and five other people were wounded, witnesses and hospital officials said.

Gunmen fired in the air about five minutes after Mahmoud Abbas (search), Arafat's longtime deputy chosen over the weekend as his successor, arrived in a motorcade. Abbas' bodyguards also fired in the air, the witnesses said

No progress is going to be made for these people until they get leadership in there whose supporters aren't more interested in killing each other than making a better life for themselves and their families.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

"Values" Defined?

The artists at Cox & Forkum have it exactly right in this case. All this ballyhoo about the gay marriage issue being what those awful Christians used to snooker the electorate is just so much chaff but the Democrats won't see it that way. After reading commentary around the blogosphere and in the various media this week, it seems evident that this issue is going to be welded into place as "conventional wisdom" as to why Kerry lost, regardless of the truth. I'm still forming up into words my take on why those referenda in the states passed as they did. I have suspicions...

CBS Fires Producer

No, not the one that allowed 60 Minutes to evicerate its own credibility by putting up a story based on documents every expert in America has said were forged. No, the - ahem - investigation is still out on that one. I mean the one who broke into CBS's showing of CSI five minutes before the end of the show with news that Arafat had been finally declared dead.

::::::::CBS News has axed a news producer who cut into prime-time programming Wednesday night to report the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The staffer, a female senior producer for CBS’s overnight newscast Up to the Minute, broke in to CSI: N.Y. shortly before 11 p.m. with the report, outraging viewers who missed the end of the crime drama.

CBS apologized for the interruption Thursday, saying an “overly aggressive” staffer “jumped the gun on a report that should have been offered to local stations for their late news.”

As for the producer’s dismissal, a CBS spokesperson said Friday, “We do not comment on personnel issues.” CBS planned to repeat the CSI: N.Y. episode Friday night to placate viewers.

OK, CBS's management certainly has a reason to be annoyed with this producer. Cut into what is arguably CBS's most popular show (and, thereby, it's cash cow) 5 minutes before every station on the east coast is going to a news program? The news of Arafat's death is hardly such an emergency situation that 5 minutes would have made any difference. It was that clearly present "gotta get the scoop" attitude by being the first to announce the news in the US. "[O]verly aggressive" is a correct term for it. But is that an actionable offense? The "Rathergate" scandal smells much more of inappropriate journalistic activity and those employees are still gainfully employed. Even CBS's rivals are confused:

::::::::An executive at a rival broadcast network said the whole situation left them puzzled. “I think people here were scratching their heads over the decision to break in, and then scratching it even harder over the apology for breaking in,” the exec says. “And now we’re wondering what kind of process they have in place to take the network to a special report.”::::::::

If CBS does a whitewash over the forged memos story, they're going to look even worse doing it after this.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Global Warming On Mars?

Yes, the surface temperature on Mars is rising and the dry ice polar caps are receding. Instapundit blames Halliburton. The Speculist blog has an interesting question and I'd like to know the answer myself. As he writes:

::::::::n the other hand, I can't help but wonder — if two planets so close to each other are both experiencing a rise in surface temperature, isn't it just possible that it might have to do with that nearby star they both orbit? I'm just asking is all. I mean, what if...

What if.

And I'm just asking. But what if global warming is real, but it isn't our fault and there is nothing we can do about it? (With current technology.)

Just asking.

Good question. I'm a network engineer by trade and when I see multiple devices on a single network exhibiting similar routing behavior, I look for common items between them, not simultaneously occuring independent problems. Aside from the Sun, Earth and Mars don't have a lot of common items, so I'd have to wonder if the reason we're heating up isn't more an issue of more solar energy coming in than before. Perhaps cyclical?

That SDAC research NASA's involved in might be more important than originally thought.

Railway Spillage In Virginia

::::::::CHILHOWIE, Va. (AP) - Fourteen cars of an 83-car Norfolk Southern train derailed near an industrial park, leaving the area smelling like a brewery Thursday.

About 20,000 gallons of beer leaked from three cars of the Roanoke-bound train, said railway spokesman Robin Chapman.

Now, would that make the railway guilty of driving with an open container?

Microsoft Says IE 'Secure As Any Other Browser'

Then how is it that a colleague here at the office using IE got whacked with a piece of trojan code while surfing a web site and I, using Firefox, didn't? Good try, Microsoft, but those of us who know what we're talking about know better. IE's got holes big enough to drive FedEx's whole truck fleet through and the "speed" at which MS fixes those holes is the laughing stock of the industry. A report on CNET quotes Steve Vamos, Microsoft Australia's managing director, and Ben English, Microsoft's security and management product manager talking about Firefox and its features. One of the passages in that report is especially noteworthy:

::::::::"I don't agree that just because a (competing) product has a feature that we don't have, that feature is important," he said. "It is not. It is only important if it is a feature the customer wants. There are plenty of products out there with features we don't have. We have plenty of features that our customers don't use.

"If there are features in our products that are subpar or need to be added, then I have great confidence that we are an organization that responds pretty quickly and effectively to that."
Digital agenda

English reiterated that features such as tabbed browsing are not important to IE users.

"I don't believe it is a true statement that IE doesn't have the features that our customers want," he said. "We take user feedback very seriously. If you have that feedback, then you should feed it back to us because we will feed it to the product team."

Interesting statements to make, considering they haven't installed or used the software they're scoffing at. If you haven't used tabbed browsing, you'll be hooked after the first time you get to try it. The ability to open links on a page you're viewing into another tab in the same window and not interrupt what you're already looking at is priceless. The bookmarks can be grouped in ways that allow you to open up a brace of pages you find you always use - for example, the home pages of a number of on-line news services - all at once in different tabs. That feature alone was enough for me to download Firefox but the enhanced security is a bigger deal. Is Firefox perfect? Hardly. And there have been instances of vulnerabilities found in the code. Fixes for these holes have generally been available within a matter of a few days or even hours. Microsoft took 6 months to close one of their holes.

Go have a look and see for yourself.

NASA Scramjet Preparing For Run To Mach 10

I missed posting about this one but this is some fascinating stuff. NASA's X-43A scramjet test aircraft will attempt to hit Mach 10 (7200 mph or 11587.3 Kilometers/hour) in a test flight over the Pacific Ocean. Just to give you a reference most of us can relate to, that speed would take you from Washington, DC to San Francisco in 20 minutes.

::::::::Next week, NASA plans to break the aircraft speed record for the second time in 7 1/2 months by flying its rocket-assisted X-43A scramjet craft 110,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean at speeds close to Mach 10 -- about 7,200 mph, or 10 times the speed of sound.

The flight will last perhaps 10 seconds and end with the pilotless aircraft plunging to a watery grave 850 miles off the California coast. But even if the X-43A doesn't set the record, it has already proved that the 40-year-old dream of "hypersonic" flight -- using air-breathing engines to reach speeds above Mach 5 (3,800 mph) -- has become reality.

For obvious reasons, there won't be any "chase planes" covering this with cameras but there's supposed to be on-board cameras and tracking stations. Military buffs can have fun with this thought: at full speeds, this bird will outrun a Sidewinder missile in level flight by a differential of 1 Mach number faster than the SR-71 Blackbird's top speed. The shape of things to come!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Arafat Dies

As reported all over the place, PLO leader Yassar Arafat has died. I don't like to speak ill of the dead, but this man has been (in my view) the largest obstacle to peace in the Mid-East and to a better life for his own people. I have hope, now, that perhaps some true progress can be made.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Unidentified Sub Spotted In Japanese Waters.

Troops In Fallujah Find Hostage Slaughterhouse

Also just in:

::::::::FALLUJA, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi troops retaking the city of Falluja have found hostage "slaughterhouses" where people were held captive and beheaded, an Iraqi military official said Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassem Mohan, commander of Iraqi forces in the battle, said his soldiers found CDs that show beheadings and black clothes worn by kidnappers when seen on television.

"We have found hostage slaughterhouses in Falluja that were used by these people (kidnappers) and the black clothing that they used to wear to identify themselves, hundreds of CDs and whole records with names of hostages," The Associated Press quoted the general as saying.

Wonder how close we're getting to these "warriors" of the "Religion of Peace".

Jeb Bush Not Looking For A Dynasty

This must be like the 6th or 7th time I've read that Jeb Bush does not want to run for the Presidency.

:::::::: Read his lips: Gov. Jeb Bush (search) really, really isn't interested in succeeding his brother in the White House in 2008.

Bush reiterated Tuesday that he is not going to run for the Senate when Florida has a seat up in 2006, and said he has no designs on the presidency four years from now.

And he is getting awful tired of the question.

"Might you change your mind?" asked a reporter.

"No!" governor said. "Why am I not believable on this subject? This is driving me nuts."

Skipping lightly over the likelihood that some people in this country find Gov. Bush not believable because he's related to the President, I think Jeb's made his point clear. And you have to just love that question "Might you change your mind?" That's about as useless a question as, "But, isn't it possible?" The guy tells you "no", and hardly anybody believes it. Suspicious buggers, aren't we?

Al Gonzales Replaces Ashcroft At DoJ

On O'Donnell and Secession

My take on Lawrence O'Donnell isn't a favorable one, as some of you might know. His performance on-air where he spat out an incessant and childish litany of "Liar! Liar!" directed at Swift Boat Vet John O'Neill ranks among my personal list of top 10 most disgusting displays on public TV has been well documented. His mail-in, non-apology apology read on-air by Pat Buchannan simply seals the image of an arrogant, condescending jackass who, in spite of his putting on the air of the elite media sophisticate, clearly can't stomach any dissenting opinion from his own personal "gospel-according-to-me." Now that his predictions (and, clearly, his hopes) of a Kerry victorious has been proven not in keeping with the feelings of the majority of his fellow citizens, he now says he shouldn't be fellows with those aforementioned citizens any longer.

Tony Blankley was an eyewitness to O'Donnell's latest pompous-ass statement on The McLaughlin Group last week. O'Donnell suggests that is would be proper and preferable to simply have the "blue" states withdraw from the Union. He's not alone. As an aside, I'd counter to Mr. O'Donnell that it's not a matter of "States" that were in favor of a Kerry Presidency, so if he's talking about having anything leave the United States, it should be counties that went for Kerry. As you can see in the linked map, there was considerably less in the way of whole states that went for Kerry rather than populous counties. But I digress.

Blankley has an editorial in the Washington Times on the matter today and his feelings echo my own:

:::::::: The opinion pages of the New York Times (that would be pages A-1- D 37 inclusive) have been running articles by prime cut liberals, the general themes of which have been that conservative Christians are the equivalent of Islamic terrorists and that the benighted provincials who voted for President Bush are simply hate-filled bigots who have no place in America.

The apotheosis of this political dementia was put forward in my very presence on last week's McLaughlin Group by my friend and colleague Lawrence O'Donnell. Lawrence, in cool blood and in apparent full control of his senses, asserted that this election will give rise to a serious consideration of secession from the Union by the blue states.

I should point out that, though Lawrence has been barking more than usual in this election season's TV commentary, he is a brilliant political analyst and a serious Democratic Party player. He was the late Sen. Moynihan's top Senate staffer. He comes from one of the great Democratic Party families. I believe it was his uncle who was President Kennedy's White House chief of staff. He is also the most gifted writer/producer on the NBC show, "West Wing." He is not one of those no-name nitwits who the cable shows pull from obscurity to recite Democratic Party talking points.

I elaborate on his enviable pedigree and qualities of mind and experience, because if he says such a thing to a television audience of 6 million viewers, it must surely reflect some measurable body of senior Democratic Party sentiment. And although it is inconceivable that any senior elected Democratic Party officials would ever repeat or act on such a deranged notion, it is a measure of how deep is the Democratic Party elite's contempt for and estrangement from the American public.

Agreed. The whole editorial is worth reading, most especially the final paragraph. I have family members who are Democrats, registered and everything, and this speaks particularly of them.

::::::::Fortunately, most rank and file Democrats are not infected with such secular bigotry. Democrats don't need to secede. They just need to purge their party of such of their leaders and intellectual vanguard as spew forth such rubbish.::::::::

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"Sunni" Headline A Bit Misleading

Go to most of the on-line news services and you'll likely see a headline that says "Sunni Party Quits Gov't" or some such. It's true, but the impression the reader is left with is that the Sunni Iraqis have decided to leave en masse. Not so. It's the Iraqi Islamic Party that's felt the need to leave. They instructed their 1 minister in the cabinet to quit in protest of the attack in Fallujah. That's their call, of course. There doesn't appear to be any word from them about how they were going to handle the problem of a terrorist stronghold in control of one of their cities, either.

Yet More Arrogance And Oversimplification

Regrettably, not on the Democratic side of the aisle, now. From one of my most favorite blogs, Power Line:

::::::::HINDROCKET adds: The Times article prompts two quick thoughts: 1) If the first time is tragedy and the second time farce--the only clever thing Karl Marx ever said--then the Dems' talk of establishing their own nation so they can abort their babies in peace definitely qualifies. 2)...::::::::

(Emphasis mine.) This is just ludicrous and every bit as bad as the idiocy shouted out by the likes of Lawrence O'Donnell, Carville, Moore, and all the rest of them. As swift as we Republicans were to denounce the talking heads of media and the DNC leadership for painting us all as rabid, bible-thumping, brainless wonders, to now start thinking all Democrats just wanna kill all them babies!!! is, in fact, brainless. I defy any of us to find a single person out there that thinks abortion is such a good thing every woman ought to have one. I defy any honest member of the GOP - hell, I'll extend that invitation to anyone making ridiculous statements like these regardless of party affiliation - to find someone who doesn't think abortion is bad. Good luck, you're going to need it.

To hear some of my blogosphere heros talk like this makes me cringe. It gives evidence to and fuels the fires of those who think anyone who identifies himself as a conservative wants to sit there cackling as women are forced to carry pregnancies brought by rape or as couples stare down the barrel of a medical risk to a woman's life that they don't think is warranted. Fellow conservatives, think what you're saying. Don't get caught up in the aftermath of the campaign hype. It's all too easy to villify the whole opposition based upon the words of other idiots. We know O'Donnell is a thoughtless bastard. We know Moore is a lying ghoul. We can be safe in the assumption that those who are talking about splitting the Union are simply saying something shocking to get attention. I am convinced these people lack the courage and conviction to give it a real go. Don't let them be the yardstick you measure people by.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Here We Go Again - Bush Supporters Still Stoopid

The New York Times continues its tradition with this latest story by Bob Herbert calling into question - again - the intelligence of Bush supporters. We begin by laying the foundation that the election was a real squeaker and so close that if someone's grandma and another's neice had shown up and voted for Kerry, he'd have won. Let's listen in:

::::::::Last week's election was extremely close and a modest shift in any number of factors might have changed the outcome. If the weather had been better in Ohio. ...If the wait to get into the voting booth hadn't been so ungodly long in certain Democratic precincts. ... Or maybe if those younger voters had actually voted. ...::::::::

Well, here we have a whole cornucopia of baseless assumptions and "facts" sans attribution or proof. First, 4 million votes isn't "extemely close" even in an election with 115 million voters. Florida in 2000 was extremely close. This wasn't. Saying it was is a pretty weak attempt to assail the legitimacy of the vote, but it's all Mr. Herbert has. And then to blame the weather? It was raining, not a blizzard. He makes it sound like thousands of people grabbed their keys, walked over to their doors to go vote, took a look outside and said, "Oooo, man, lookit that rain. I can't go out in that. Guess I better skip voting and catch the next one four years from now." It's extemely likely that there were some people who did just that, but to think that it amounted to tens of thousands is just more wishful thinking. As for the "ungodly" wait in certain Democratic precincts, which ones? Precisely? I saw plenty of waits for the voting booths out here in Virginia and we supported President Bush for re-election pretty decisively. What, our waits for voting were simply "godly"? Other bloggers have shown pretty clearly that the younger voters did, indeed, turn out for the vote. It's just that 1) they didn't all vote for Kerry, as Michael Moore would like you to believe and 2) higher percentages of all the other groups showed up, too. The "young vote bloc" only works when the rest of us decide to skip voting.

And here's for those people telling me with a straight face that the members of the media aren't saying Bush supporters were stupid, or dumb, or just brainless.

::::::::I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election's outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.

This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.

Yeah, old Bob here's really making us wish we'd voted his way. Yessiree, nothing like a good insult and a dose of arrogant condescention to make me really believe the speaker is someone whose opinon I should give a rat's ass about.

The University of Maryland hasn't exactly been a bi-partisan paragon of objectivity in the years I've lived here. While Mr. Herbert doesn't deign to provide details, or a link to where we can get them, he implies one of the survey accepted responses in his prose. Note the use of the term "clear evidence." What is clear evidence is a matter of subjective judgement. (If you're interested in a Clinton-era take on whether there was such collusion, look here.) I think there's clear evidence that the media is, generally speaking, so liberally biased they can only make left-hand turns while driving. Others looking at the same stories I do say that's "nonsense". So who's right? Any survey question that allows for an response of "clear evidence" is flawed - the answer cannot be compared apples-to-apples to the same answer given by other respondents. Flawed questions, flawed survey. Flawed survey, flawed conclusion. Note that hasn't slowed Mr. Herbert down much. Oh, and a news bulletin for Mr. Herbert: chemical weapons have been found in Iraq. More than once. The fact that we haven't yet found 4 gazillion containers marked (in English) "Danger! WMD inside! Hide from UN and American inspectors!" on a big label with hazmat symbols does not detract from the fact that we've found chem weapons. And there are things being discovered all the time. Lastly, the "substantial majority of world opinon" comment. Same issue as "clear evidence." It's completely subjective and points yet again to a flawed survey.

This is the kind of "rational pitch" Mr. Herbert's talking about? I suggest that the fact someone feels that way about this kind of commentary is the scary thing. Oh, but old Bob's not done yet.

::::::::Traumatized Democrats are wringing their hands and trying to figure out how to appeal to voters who have arrogantly claimed the moral high ground and can't stop babbling about their self-proclaimed superiority.::::::::

Funny, we Republicans are having the same issue with people who voted for Kerry. Here's something I don't claim and no other Bush supporter I know has claimed: Democrats aren't stupid. They haven't "put that part of their brain on hold", either. They have different views and that's OK for my fellow citizens. I don't agree with them and I voted that way. Their views weren't convincing to the majority of American voters. Funny how that's "clearly" all our fault.

Iraqi Government Online (Updated - Good News From Iraq)

As reported on Chrenkoff, the Iraqi Interim Goverment appears to have a web presence. Being the cynical network professional I am, I decided to trace who hosts the website and verify I'm not looking at the UK Guardian's latest attempt to influence the news far beyond their readership.

The admin contact is listed with an e-mail address at "" which announces that it's "Iraq's Leading High-Tech Company." (Hey, how do I know? They might be just that.) eKur runs an Internet Group, a software company, a hardware company (presumably all techie stuff) and, interestingly, a shipping firm. Now that's diversity. The shipping site is showing under construction but it might be that eKur got tired of trying to sell things it couldn't get shipped in so decided to handle the shipping in-house. Might be the start of something really good.

eKur themselves are buying their hosting off a New Jersey Firm, Datapipe. Datapipe also has offices in Europe, but with the technical contact listed with a phone number in American area code "201" (that being a New Jersey number), I have to assume that eKur's sites are handled here in the USA. Works for me.

Update: While we're on the subject, let's hear it for James Robbins writing about the near-total blackout by the MSM on good news stories from Iraq. There's a whole ton of good news from over there, but you never hear about it. Go to the trouble to inform yourself. The MSM sure isn't going to do it for you.

Slow Blogging Weekend

...But only because I was busy with other projects. Seems my new house had some very old plumbing in the bathrooms so I took advantage of my father-in-law's knowledge on the subject. Trust me, you do not want to know what's in an older house's bathroom sink traps. Suffice it to say I've got faucets that are now new or working like new and plumbing that meets today's standards. Fun stuff. I'll be trying to catch up with events today.

A Go In Fallujah

Seems the Coalition forces around Fallujah finally got the word to go.

::::::::NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq — With warplanes pounding the city, U.S. Marines fought their way into the western outskirts of Fallujah (search) on Monday, seizing a hospital and two bridges over the Euphrates River in the first stage of a major assault on the insurgent stronghold.::::::::

Saturday, November 06, 2004

New Blogger On The Block

Noted by several luminary bloggers, we have a new blogger in the 'sphere. The Backseat Philospher sounds like he's going to make a name for himself. Definitely on my daily reading list.

Analysis Of Gay Marriage Issue in re: Election

Andrew Sullivan could certainly not be called a supporter of President Bush. He's been bandying about the notion - picked up by many in the press and on the left - that it was the issue of gay marriage that got all those Bush supporters to the polls. (Me, I say that's ridiculous and it has so far remained unmentioned by any of the Bush supporters I know.) There are a large number of people who agree with me and Mr. Sullivan is posting their e-mails on his site, too. Rather than use annecdotal information like I've got, one of his readers offers this analysis supporting the opinion that the issue of gay marriage was not the big factor it's claimed to be.

::::::::EMAIL OF THE DAY: "So lots of pundits, including you, have been attributing Bush's success nationally to his having excited the base over the gay marriage issue. In particular, the strategy of using the ballot initiatives in 11 states, thereby dragging religious conservatives to the polls to vote against marriage and at the same time check the box next to Bush, is regarded as having been particularly effective.

That is, of course, fiction. Bush improved his share of the popular vote by 3.2% from 2000 to 2004 (47.9 in 2000, 51.1 in 2004). Now how did he do in the states which had anti-marriage ballot initiatives?

Arkansas +3.0%
Georgia +3.3%
Kentucky +3.1%
Michigan +1.8%
Mississippi +2.2%
Montana +0.7%
North Dakota +2.2%
Ohio +1.0%
Oklahoma +5.3%
Oregon +0.8%
Utah +4.2%

Only in two states (Utah and Oklahoma) did he gain a significantly higher vote share than he did nationwide. Maybe comparing to the national popular vote is misleading, so let's compare each of those states to a neighboring, politically-similar state which did not have an anti-marriage initiative on the ballot:

Missouri +2.9 (AR +3.0)
Florida +3.4 (GA +3.3)
Tennessee +5.7 (KY +3.1)
Wisconsin +1.5 (MI +1.8)
Alabama +6.0 (MS +2.2)
Idaho +1.2 (MT +0.7)
South Dakota -0.4 (ND +2.2)
Pennsylvania +2.0 (OH +1.0)
Texas +1.8 (OK +5.3)
Washington +1.2 (OR +0.8)
Wyoming +1.2 (UT +4.2)

Again, not much. In only 3 cases (UT-WY, ND-SD, and OK-TX) did Bush improve a lot more in a state with an anti-marriage initiative than he did in the state with which it was paired. And, in the case of North Dakota, the hotly contested Senate race in South Dakota may have skewed things a bit; a better comparison might be Nebraska, where Bush was +3.0% better in 2004 than in 2000, a better improvement than what he got in North Dakota.
That leaves two states, Oklahoma and Utah, which had an anti-marriage initiative on the ballot and in which Bush's vote share improved more both relative to the nation as a whole and relative to the neighboring state selected.
It is certainly possible that the fact that the Bush administration raised the issue to the level to which did led to increased turnout among religious conservatives nationwide, which then resulted in Bush's overall improved vote share over his 2000 performance. However, one would also expect that this vote share improvement would have been particularly high in states in which the marriage issue was particularly relevant. On the contrary, there is no evidence that suggests that the strategy of putting the anti-marriage initiatives on the ballot in several states did anything to improve Bush's performance in those states."

It's convenient to think that this was the issue of the election because it has the double impact of painting Bush supporters as a whole as bigotted homophobes (by extension making Kerry supporters enlightened sophisticates) and discounting completely the war on terror and in Iraq as a principle motivating factor for people voting for Bush. I'd also add that most people I know didn't have just 1 issue in voting for the man. Right behind the President's role in the war comes either the belief that this administration will be better able to recover the economy or the lack of faith in Kerry's ability to lead with integrity. I have ideas about why the gay marriage amendments passed by the margins they did. I'll be writing about that another day. This constant striving to explain the President's support by leaning on the "bigot, homophobe" theory is just wishful thinking.

Hat tip: Power Line

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Media Lean

Stephen Hayes has an article about the bigger loser of Tuesday's elections.

::::::::The assault began in July 2003, when Joseph Wilson accused the president of lying. Wilson's charges have since been thoroughly discredited and the author of The Politics of Truth revealed as unreliable. But the damage was done. Wilson's claim that the Bush administration had knowingly cooked intelligence provided the prism through which many reporters viewed the election.

For some 16 months, then, journalists at the New York Times and the Washington Post and the television networks saw themselves not as conveyors of facts but as truth-squadders, toiling away on the gray margins of political debate to elucidate the many misstatements, exaggerations, and outright lies of the Bush administration and its campaign affiliates. Sometimes these "fact-check" pieces were labeled "news analysis." More often, they were splashed on the front page as straight news or presented on the evening news.


Here is a brief, random review of their effort.

Joseph Wilson--When Wilson claimed that his clandestine work proved the Bush administration was lying about alleged Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger, he was lionized as a courageous truthteller willing to stand up to a corrupt and deceitful administration. Oops. In fact, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee review of pre-Iraq war intelligence concluded that Wilson's findings contradicted his earlier public claims and that despite his insistence that his wife, undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, had had nothing to do with his selection, his work was undertaken after she recommended him for the job. The media buried those reports.

Richard Clarke--Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism czar, was similarly celebrated when he published a book criticizing the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror and the Iraq war. The Fox News Channel released a transcript of a background briefing Clarke gave while he was still at the White House in which Clarke praised some of the very efforts he would later criticize. Most journalists focused on the propriety of Fox's action, not the contradictions in Clarke's accounts. Clarke also argued that Iraq had never supported al Qaeda, "ever." Several months later, the final 9/11 Commission report, however, quoted an email Clarke had written in 1999 in which he cited the existence of an agreement between Iraq and al Qaeda as evidence that Saddam Hussein had assisted al Qaeda with chemical weapons. Most journalists ignored the revelation.

Dan Rather--The CBS anchor aired a story about "new" documents suggesting that the young George W. Bush

had received preferential treatment from political big-wigs to avoid serving in the Vietnam war. The documents were forged--something CBS had been warned about before the story was broadcast. When numerous forensic document experts concluded that the memos were fraudulent, Rather lashed out at his critics as partisan hacks and spoke of the supposed broader truth of the allegations. Although CBS later backed away from the story, Rather never apologized to President Bush.

The Missing Explosives--Eight days before Election Day the New York Times published a major story about missing high explosives in Iraq. The Times's account was based largely on an erroneous assessment from IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei. The Times collaborated on the piece with 60 Minutes, and a producer from CBS admitted that they had hoped to hold the story for October 31--two days before voters would go to the polls.

These are some of the big ones. There are dozens of smaller examples. Knight-Ridder newspapers reported that President Bush had claimed an "operational" relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda in a speech he delivered in Tennessee. He had said nothing close. The Washington Post omitted a key phrase from one of Vice President Dick Cheney's appearances on Meet the Press, an omission that inverted his meaning. And on it goes.

Reach Out, Yourselves

OK, and I'm also about done hearing members of the news media and the local Democratic Party that the President and the rest of the majority of US citizens who voted for him need to begin reaching out and move their attitudes toward the left. What should be obvious is that the majority doesn't agree with the left's views as much as the left wants them to. Simply saying that they need to reach out and consider the viewpoints of people whose viewpoints they rejected isn't "finding common ground." I say that these same people need to do a bit more than simply expound on their worries and hope the President reaches out to their side. They need to be reaching out to our side, too. So far I'm not seeing any evidence of that at all. It's like the election changed nothing and the realization that more people supported the President than not doesn't seem to be getting through. Compromise, folks. It means both sides take steps toward the other and that includes the Democrats, in both senses of the sentiment.

Note To Media: The Polls Were Flawed (Updated)

Not exactly a newsflash. The exit polls were horribly, horribly wrong. They were skewed wildly, whether through incompetence or design in immaterial. The fact is that those polls did not - and do not - reflect accurate conclusions about the electorate. The media and the blogosphere both got caught out by the inaccuracy of the polls and everyone has come to the proper conclusion that the conclusions of the polls are utter bullshit.

So why am I now hearing those same polls being touted as proof that the "religious right" of "Evangelicals" were the driving force of the President's win and, therefore, it signals a mandate for... well, religious-based legislation? It's crap, boys & girls. The polls were tainted so... You. Shouldn't. Trust. Them. At all. Not even a teensy.

Update: Now here's an example of exactly what I'm talking about. The same inaccurate, wildly fantisizing polls that are being denounced as way off base in telling who was going to win the election are being used to push forth the concept that the people who voted for Bush are "values voters" scared to death of gay marriage and abortion.

Hogwash. Tripe. Bull. Shit.

Absolutely no one I know cites that as the reason we voted for Bush. The reasons cited are the firm conviction that President Bush will pursue the war on terror better than Kerry and a complete lack of faith in nearly anything Kerry said. He was not credible and Bush is. Disagree with that statement all you like but those are the reasons the people I know voted for the President. The fact that the religious are happy about the result of the election is a result, not the cause.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

"I Tried To Tell You..."

Zell Miller speaks:

::::::::This election outcome should have been implausible, if not impossible. With a litany of complaints — bad economy, bad deficit, bad foreign war, bad gas prices — amplified by a national media that discarded any pretense of neutrality, a national opposition party should have won this election.

But the Democratic Party is no longer a national party. As difficult as the challenges are — both real and fabricated — Democrats offered no solution that was either believable or acceptable to vast regions of America.

I also find this map of the country telling since it offers a bit more detail regarding the distribution of voting patterns.

No conclusions, it's just interesting.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Kerry Concedes Updated

From WTOP News in DC:

::::::::WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush won a second term from a divided and anxious nation, his promise of steady, strong wartime leadership trumping John Kerry's fresh-start approach to Iraq and joblessness. After a long, tense night of vote counting, the Democrat called Bush Wednesday to concede Ohio and the presidency, The Associated Press learned.

Kerry ended his quest, concluding one of the most expensive and bitterly contested races on record, with a call to the president shortly after 11 a.m. EST, according to two officials familiar with the conversation.

Update: I didn't get the chance to blog any more yesterday but I wanted to say I admired Senator Kerry's dignity and decision to avoid dragging this nation through another courtroom election brawl. In spite of calling for him to concede, I honestly never believed he would and I was quite surprised when I heard the news. That definitely raised him a couple of notches in my estimation. It's much too soon to say whether his supporters will heed his call to work to find common ground but one can hope.

Good Memo

Voter Turnout Headed In The Right Direction

Preliminary numbers reported are showing the voter turnout was huge.

NYT Pines For Daschle, Grudgingly Admits Thune Victory

Even the New York Times has to admit the defeat of Tom Daschle in South Dakota but they clearly don't have to write objectively about it. (Yes, I know. I wasn't expecting them to.) To be completely honest, I'm more amused by the more obvious stuff than anything else.

::::::::Mr. Daschle was defeated by John Thune, a telegenic former congressman and...::::::::

Ah, it starts. See, Thune isn't just a former congressman, he's a telegenic former congressman. He looks gooooooooood on TV, they think. Hmmm.

::::::::The outcome will strip Washington of one of its more familiar Democratic faces. Soft-spoken and gentle, Mr. Daschle has led the Senate Democrats for 10 years, two years longer than his most famous predecessor, Lyndon Johnson. Until John Kerry emerged this year as the Democratic nominee, Mr. Daschle was the de facto spokesman for the national Democratic Party.::::::::

Daschle was "[s]oftspoken and gentle"? How soon we forget Mr. Daschle's performances in 2001 and 2002 while the Democrats held the Senate majority. I seem to recall a number of times Senator Daschle was anything but soft-spoken. (If I get time today, I'll find some links.)

::::::::"People believe in him," Senator Jon Corzine, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a recent interview, describing how upset Democrats would be should Mr. Daschle lose. "He's a good leader. He's a guy that holds us to a strong moral compass."::::::::

Note to Senator Corzine: Apparently more people don't believe in him than do, so you might want to re-assess this judgement.

::::::::They agreed early on that if anyone could send Mr. Daschle into retirement, it would be Mr. Thune, a former high school basketball star whose good looks and Christian conservative credentials give him strong appeal here.::::::::

Ah, so it's not Mr. Thune's vision and leadership that give him appeal, it's his "good looks and Christian conservative credentials" that do the trick. So how about it, NYT? If he was dumb as a post and couldn't lead the way to the men's room, he'd have still been elected? On the basis of good hair, white teeth, and the ability to recite the "Lord's Prayer" by heart?

::::::::He ran a tough, aggressive race, and made no bones about making the race a referendum on Mr. Daschle, attacking the senator on everything from his record on abortion to lobbying activities of Mr. Daschle's wife, Linda. Democrats complained bitterly, and Mr. Daschle said Tuesday that the race was "a lot more negative a campaign than I have seen in a long time."::::::::

Two years and four years constitute a "long time" for Mr. Daschle? The last couple of elections - not to mention the rhetoric from the Democratic side of the aisle - have seemed quite negative to me.

::::::::As a result, Election Day dawned in South Dakota with a last-minute surprise: a federal court ruling that Republican poll workers had intimidated Native American voters in one county, Charles Mix, by jotting down their license plate numbers and following them from the polls.

United States District Court Judge Lawrence Piersol issued a temporary restraining order at about 1:45 a.m. after an emergency hearing requested by the Daschle campaign, which said its poll workers spotted the Republicans' tactics. By mid-morning Tuesday, Senator Daschle pronounced himself "very pleased," saying, "We know of no new reports of voter intimidation."

And here, at last, we come to the NYT's masterpiece. A report of a "...federal court ruling that Republican poll workers had intimidated Native American voters..." that casually neglects to pass along some very important points. See, they want you to assume that this ruling came out of nowhere - an unbiased, spontaneous judicial response to confirmed acts of intimidation by evil Republican operatives. Let's get some of the facts, shall we?

First, the ruling came as a result of an 11th hour lawsuit in which Daschle personally sued Thune personally. A blogger managed to get a wifi signal while sitting in the courtroom and provided reports in real time, but the essence of the complaint is this: A former Dean operative was put on the stand as the witness to this attempted intimidation and it amounted to a lawyer rolling his eyes. 5 instances - yes, five - of a Republican poll challenger walking out after some voters had voted and writing down a license plate. After the voters had voted. Oh, it gets better. Senator Daschle not only decided to bring this case before the court on the night before the elections, he did so in the courtroom of a judge he had helped get onto the bench and who just so happened to have been the lawyer that helped Daschle sue to get put into office in 1978. I cannot think of a more clear-cut case of conflict of interest and one where the judge should have recused himself. Not counting on the power of the blogosphere, both he and Daschle thought they could get away with this and have it hidden until after the election. Score one more for the bloggers. The case is going to be appealed (although I'm not sure if Thune will do that, now, or simply let it slide since the people of SD have seen through it).

The Old Gray Lady just can't let that go, though. Should be interesting to see if they want to rebuild their credibility after squandering it these past several months.

President Bush Convinced Of Victory, Gives Kerry Time To Consider

WTOP News in DC is reporting that at 5:41 am eastern time White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card announced victory for the President. Citing a report from Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell that Bush's lead is "statistically insurmountable", he called Ohio's electoral votes for the President, along with Nevada and New Mexico, putting the President over th 270 electoral votes needed for victory.

::::::::Card said Bush not only won a second term but Republicans added "to our majority in the House and ... to our majority in the Senate."

As Bush made plans to declare victory, his high command dispatched a 10-person political and legal team to Ohio in the event Kerry triggered a Florida-like fight. Card said Bush delayed his own public statement to "give Senator Kerry the respect of more time to reflect on the results of this election."

That was a veiled request for Kerry to bow out gracefully, and avoid the rancor that accompanied a 36-day recount in Florida four years ago.

That margin was small, but Bush's lead in Ohio is substantial _ Card called it "statistically insurmountable, even after provisional ballots are considered."

With Bush leading by 145,000 votes and roughly 190,000 yet to be counted, one top Kerry adviser said the Democrat's chances of winning Ohio, and with it the White House, were difficult at best.

For Kerry to win, he needs to do over twice as well in the provisional ballots as he did in the best county he won in Ohio. By my math, and using the numbers listed, the provisional ballots would need to need to break 76.3% for Kerry in a state where the votes broke 51% for Bush, 48% for Kerry. To be hoping for that kind of break is something I'd call delusional. And Kerry's chances cannot survive Ohio's loss.

I'd also like to point out that President Bush has taken the popular vote - something the Democrats have loudly pointed to in the past four years - by 3.6 million votes. He has, in fact, won a true majority of the American public's vote. While it's not the basis for the election of the President according to the Constitution, it was the major argument 4 years ago in justifying Al Gore's legal challenges to the voting. No such justification exists here today. It's time to concede, Senator Kerry. Do the right thing and avoid the damage this will cause to the credibility of elections in general. Be the hero you've claimed to be and put the clear will of the majority of this nation's citizens above the desires of both you and your backers. It's time to concede.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Oh, Yes - Voter Fraud Is Happening, All Right...

Just not where the Democrats want you to believe it is. This in from Blackfive about his attempt to vote this morning. Seems like a lot of Republicans aren't in the voter roles for some reason.

::::::::I have two forms of ID - a driver's license and a Firearm Owner ID. I also have a faculty ID for the UofC and a corporate ID from where I work. I had my Voter Registration Card. I also had a paycheck with my address on it.

There were many people who were also not in the voter books. The guy next to me was screaming about "Fraud!". There were four ladies who were crying. Another guy was yelling about his rights. The election judges were freaking out.

The election judges (certainly inept and under-prepared for the onslaught) didn't have any provisional ballots.

They turned everyone (that was not in the books) away.

As I left on my way to the County Election Commission to file a complaint, I asked ten different people who were also denied a vote because they weren't in the book, "Are you Republicans?"

All ten replied, "Yes."

"Did you vote in the primary?"

Nine, "Yes."

And let's not forget about an event up in South Dakota, where Democratic Senator Tom Daschle is fighting for his political life.

::::::::At the McLaughlin Community Center on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, a Daschle operative (a male lawyer in his 50s) has taken over part of the election table and is interfering with the election workers' duties in violation of SDCL 12-18-3, 9.1 (9.2 gives authority to have the person removed and arrested). The election worker feels intimidated by the Daschle operative and feels that the man is interfering with the process. When told this was illegal, he responded "F--k you, do something about it."::::::::

You got it, bub. Turns out the election worker did very much the right thing and called the Sheriff. We now have 1 jerk lawyer who's been forcibly ejected from the polling location. Next door in Wisconsin, we have attempts to impede Republican voters from getting to the polls. Captain Ed reports on a story about someone deciding to slash the tires of 30 vehicles that had been rented by the local Republican Party in Milwaukee to drive voters to the polls.

In that same story, by the way, there's a very sad - and angering - note all the way at the bottom. A man whose wife had died put into her obituary that in lieu of flowers, he'd like people to vote for Kerry. No, that's not the sad part, regardless of what you or I might think about using your wife's obit to try to buy votes. The sad and angering part is that some slimewad called this guy up and left a message saying he hoped the man's wife burned in hell. The story referred to that as an increased "level of incivility." That's the understatement of the year. The asshole who thought it would be just ripping good reparte to pull that stunt ought to be tracked down, identified publicly, and never, ever be allowed to live it down.

People have forgotten that we live in a democracy and you don't always get your way. Regardless, you owe it to your fellow citizens (who are eligible to vote) to allow them unimpeded access to the polls. Everyone, on every side of the political spectrum and we need to work on it, all of us.

Once More...

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...

Election day. Get out there and vote.

Vote for Bush/Cheney 2004!

Monday, November 01, 2004

DNC Fakes Norman Schwartzkopf endorsement

Seems the DNC is making campaign phone calls in Florida and saying that retired General Norman Schwartzkopf is endorsing John Kerry. What's Stormin' Norman have to say about it?

::::::::On Sunday, the retired general gave Bush a strong endorsement in Tampa, Fla. Schwarzkopf released a statement Monday saying that the Democratic National Committee was making fraudulent phone calls and demanded that they stop.

"I am supporting President Bush for re-election because he is the candidate who has demonstrated the conviction needed to defeat terrorism," Schwarzkopf said.

Can't resist cheating even at the last moment, can they? I've said it before - this is not a party of people that can be entrusted with the governance of our nation. Here's to tomorrow punctuating that fact for them.

One More Day

Tomorrow is election day. I know which way I'm voting and, if you've read this blog for very long you know, too. The most important thing I can ask you to do is vote. Make sure of it. Go out of your way to get to the polls. Schedule the time in your dayplanner or whatever, treat it like it's a business meeting or a doctor's appointment. I'm also going to echo a call I'm hearing from some of my colleagues in the blogosphere, put best by Citizen Smash:

::::::::Respect Other Voters

EVERY ELECTION, Democrats accuse Republicans of voter intimidation, and Republicans accuse Democrats of ballot fraud. Which is worse?

Intimidating voters (or misdirecting them) is a form of disenfranchisement. But so is voting multiple times, or casting a ballot when you are not eligible to vote. Every illegal vote neutralizes one legally cast ballot for the opposition.

Just because someone has a different opinion than you, doesn’t mean they have less of a right to vote than you do. Don’t undermine our democratic system – vote once, and go home.

Don’t Panic

THE POLLSTERS tell us that we’re in for another close election. There may even be legal challenges to the vote counts in several states.

We have a legal system in this nation that has withstood the test of multiple wars, insurrections, and a full-on civil war. While heated rhetoric by rapid partisans and the occasional riot might make us feel insecure, rest assured that we have well-established and tested legal procedures to ensure that any disputed election will be peacefully resolved long before Inauguration Day.

This brings us to our final point:

Respect the Results

WHOEVER ULTIMATELY WINS a majority of the electoral votes will be the next President of the United States – not just the leader of the Republicans or the Democrats. While this election has been particularly partisan, once the votes have been counted it will be time for us to stop bickering and start thinking of ourselves as one nation again.

Remember, the integrity of our democratic system is far more important than any transitory partisan agenda.

We can only have one commander-in-chief at a time.

Indeed. I have already pledged to do this. I will not be sitting here for the next four years badmouthing Kerry should he be elected President and I certainly won't be engaging in personal ridicule of the man. I won't be agreeing with everything he's doing, assuming he does what he says he's going to do and I absolutely will say so. What I won't be doing is calling him stupid or suggesting he's the reincarnation of Pol Pot. I won't be engaging in baseless allegations regarding what his running mate's business dealings are and I damn sure won't be calling for any foreign body of any kind to provide oversight of their administration.

It would be nice to think that President Bush could expect that kind of treatment from his opponents should he carry the day. Guess we'll see. Tomorrow's the day we speak. Barring lawsuits filed by the parties or their proxies, we should have a fair idea of who's got it in 48 hours.