Monday, November 29, 2004

School Choice by Tax Credit

Arizona's "Tuition Tax Credit" program is showing promise. It allows dollar for dollar tax deductions for those who contribute to scholarship programs. It's turning out that it might actually save Arizona money in the long run.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Ukranian Election Map

Here's a nice election map for the disputed election going on in the Ukraine. The election has been declared a fraud by everyone, but both sides have come to an arangement, probably a run off election. Thanks to the Polish.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Totten in Tunisia

Michael Totten has a great tale of his visit to Tunisia. He describes what Tunis is like and takes the reader into the desert interior, which is like night and day from the coast. I could do one of my "country of the weeks" on the country, but you wouldn't get the real feel of it. With Totten you get the feel of it. It's a must read.

Attack on Fallujah

Terrorists are attacking with wild abandon and firing missiles into the Green zone in Bagdad. This just shows that they are frustrated by what the US is doing in Fallujah. This article I'm linking to started out talking about how the US is raiding high profile mosques looking for assailants.
This is an interesting turn, that while this article (AP) is kind of down on this whole raiding mosques thing, the feeling among some Iraqis is positive.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Dictator or Democracy?

Saw this on Oxblog. Apparently some professors at Dartmouth have proposed that the "Quagmire" that is Iraq can only be solved by installing a friendly dictator, or a "secular strongman" as they put it. Their premise is that wars against counterinsurgency in the 20th century were all failures (except for the British victory in Malaya).
There's a problem with that, as David Adesnik reveals. He notes that the professors are omitting one war where there was a clear US victory: the Filipino insurgency of the 1950s. He notes:<>

"But the much more interesting thing to note is how the United States and its Filipino allies won. They did it by promoting democracy. In the late 1940s, the extreme corruption of the elected Filipino President, Elpidio Quirino, antagonized rural peasants while undermining the armed forces' ability to perform in battle.

Rather than accepting Quirino as the only alternative to Communism, the United States demanded that Quirino appoint Ramon Magsaysay, a popular reformist, as Minister of Defense. Magsaysay immediately begun to purge the corrupt Filipino officer corps, restrict the use of violence against peasants and implement reforms to increase the government's popularity in the countryside. In addition, Magsaysay prevented Quirino from rigging the 1951 elections for the Filipino House and Senate.

By 1953, the Communists were on their last legs. In order to cement his victory, Magsaysay stepped down as Minister of Defense and ran against Quirino for President. He won by a landslide. Determined to ensure a victory by Magsaysay, the CIA provided extensive financial support to local election monitors in order to prevent fraud. The United States knew that its candidate was the people's candidate.

In the same year that Magsaysay became President, the CIA overthrew a democratic government in Iran. The next year, it overthrow a democratic (but pro-Communist) government in Guatemala. Compare the history of the Philippines, Iran and Guatemala since 1954, and it's not hard to see which strategy served America best.

So, you might say, what good is this one example when our friends from Dartmouth have seven historical examples to support their side of the debate? Well, ask yourselves this: In how many of those seven cases did the great powers involved seek to promote democracy as a means of defeating the insurgents. Answer: zero."

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Kissinger complicity

I'll be looking out for this one in the coming months. Since classified documents from the 70s have recently been released, there have been some developments and revelations that make Kissinger appear to have not only allowed that certain dictators in latin America were committing human rights crimes, but he was actually encouraging it.
So claims Christopher Hitchens, writing for Vanity Fair (hat tip: Michael Totten). I am curious if there is much of a defense for Kissinger here, and I've come to trust Hitchens for being an intellectually honest writer, especially for his treatment of Michael Moore and the election.
In South America today, the hidden resting-places of los desaparecidos are being found all the time. New and democratic governments, assisted by principled lawyers and judges and forensic investigators, are disinterring and identifying the maimed and twisted corpses of men and women, and of boys and girls, who were lost to their friends and families about a quarter of a century ago. (The critical resource for this and the rest of the story of Argentina is Martin Edwin Andersen's 1993 book, Dossier Secreto.) At the same time, in Washington, D.C., the declassification process for government documents is entering the disclosure phase. And, in a horrible way that is not being faced, the two excavations have begun to converge. From the standpoint of their victims, the death squads of Argentina and Chile were going about their busy work with the approval-no, the encouragement-of the secretary of state of the United States of America.
What follows is a long look, from the perspective of Hitchens, who covered and interviewed some of these dictators back then, at the United States' policy toward those dictators in the name of curbing communism in those parts of the world.
Kissinger had explicitly told Guzzetti not that he should slow down the rate of kidnappings and murders and disappearances but that he should speed it up. Hill's memo to Kissinger is perfectly plain. Guzzetti was told in June 1976 that "if the terrorist problem was over by December or January ... serious problems could be avoided in the U.S." Get on with it, in other words. The number of desaparecidos in Argentina at that stage has been calculated at 1,022. In October, at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Kissinger told Guzzetti, "the quicker you succeed the better."
Brrrr. That's chilling. Is this truth?
The whole truth?
I certainly can see this in the context of the cold war. The US was deeply concerned about communism spreading in our neck of the woods, and in the decade before Reagan no one thought the war would end anytime soon. This just puts a slimy blood soaked cap on the historical US policy of "He may be a facist dictator, but he's OUR facist dictator." Which I never was quite comfortable with.
I certainly hope there is nothing like this going on in our current administration's worldwide efforts to curb terrorism.

More Electoral maps

Found these on Tech Central Station, with a little help from Instapundit. Patrick Cox is trying here to make an association between population denisty and how people voted in the election. I would say that it's already a given that larger urban areas voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in both 2000 and this year. I'm not sure population denisity is the key here, though. Or, rather, if it is, it's definitely not alone in determining the results.
For instance Dallas and Houston, two of the largest metropolitan areas in the country went strongly for Bush. Home state might have had something to do with that.
Another issue Cox brings up is the relationship between federal spending by state and how states went in the electoral process. I don't buy this one.
Thirty of the U.S. states reap more in federal spending than their citizens contribute to the federal government in taxes. The other 20 states provide more in taxes than they receive in spending. In the 2000 U.S. presidential election, George W. Bush won most of the states that are net beneficiaries of federal spending programs, while Al Gore won most of the states that are net contributors to federal spending.
Now, federal spending is usually tied to how much each state contributes to things the federal government needs. It also has a lot to do with what Senators and Reps you have in Washington and how much senority they have. For instance, Oregon's contingent to DC is 2 Repulicans and 5 Democrats. Since the Dems are out of power, and have been the Minority since the 90s, that might be part of why Oregon pays out more money than it gets from the Feds. Our one Republican Senator is a relative greeny, he is just in his second term, and he plays the bi-partisan roll a lot, to the detrement of any possible pork projects he could be bringing here. And yes, Oregon went solid Kerry this election. But I think the bredth of voters here cause both results, not that the results of one (lack of Fed dollars) causes the other (win for Gore and Kerry).

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


I haven't written about this lately, but with the election cycle, there hasn't been much attention to it. Glenn Reynolds has been keeping up with it though. He links to this William Safire piece about the UN obstructing justice in the investigation. Which is no surprise.
Also he finds this Reuters article correcting the amount that Sadaam profited during the 90s. The article asks: "How could the world be so blind..." to which Glenn answers: "I think the answer is that they were not so much blind as in on the cut."
Rice replaces Powell
Is anyone here besides me amazed at the speed at which Bush is replacing cabinet members? I don't think any of the resignations in the last couple of weeks have been a surprise to the Bush administration. These all seem like they were expected, and Bush had his replacement choices ready to go.
I like that Rice is staying with the Bush administration, taking over as Sec of State. There were rumors over the last year that she wanted to go back to academic life. My only reservation about her appointment comes from a mildly racist thought: how affective will Rice be with nations where patriarchy runs strong. I.E. in nations where women are not taken seriously, will they take her seriously?
On the flip side, having a black woman - a perfectly capable one - in such a visible spot in the world will hopefully have a very positive effect on women all over the world (especially in those patriarchal countries).

Update: This from a reader at Instapundit...

The media is overlooking something. Not only is Rice the first female black Secretary of State, she's the first black person to replace another black cabinet official of any gender.
And do I need to mention this is the first administration to have two black Secretaries of State?<>
Thank God for the GOP's affirmative action stance. Namely, "may the best person win."

Great to see that this form of protest is still alive and well, even here in the United States. Apparently some disgruntled Yemeni terror informant set himself on fire in front of the White House. He is in critical condition now. (ed-They rescued him?)
In interviews with the Washington Post prior to the incident, Alanssi said he was angry about not being able to visit his family in Yemen. He said his wife is seriously ill with stomach cancer, and he cannot travel there because he has no money and because the FBI, which is expecting him to testify at a terrorism trial in New York, was keeping his Yemeni passport.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Hart Mountain
This national wildlife refuge, primarily designed for Pronghorns, is located in eastern Oregon, closer to the border with Nevada. Here's a map.
RoguePundit has a look into the politics of this area, as the refuge has a 15 year ban on livestock grazing which ends in 5 years. The reason for the ban was to try and improve the pronghorn and grouse populations in the refuge. This has happened, but as Roguepundit explains, the science of why that has happened may get lost in the debate.
See while cattle might be bad for the area, and harm pronghorn numbers, cattle grazing isn't the only thing that has changed since the ban took effect. Number one: the drought that long affected the area ended that year, and the last 10 years have seen some pretty good rainfall overall. Number two: when the refuge ban went into affect, most of the cattle related fences were taken down. Fences are a major barrier to pronghorn, as they are fast but not good jumpers. Number three: Prescribed burning has been practiced there recently, in an effort to bring the vegitation back to a more natural state. Number four: Coyotes have remained moderately few even with the increased number of pray in the refuge, helping the increase of other animals.
Really, which one of these issues is the real reason that wildlife is doing so well. The question needs to be, what effect will bringing back cattle have in the face of all these other changes?

Iraq The Model, One Year Old!
Each of them has a special message today about Blogging in post-invasion Iraq. Congratulations boys.
Iraq the Model was mentioned in that article I posted about Saturday. They spend considerable time talking about blogs in countries like Iraq, Iran and China. If you haven't read it, do so.
7000 miles an hour
Scanning Yahoo this morning I noticed this article. NASA has already tested a plane travelling at 5000 miles an hour, but now want to test the X-43A "Scramjet" that is estimated to travel at 7000 miles an hour, about 10 times the speed of sound.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I haven't been blogging as long, or as prolifically as some. My writing and logic may not compete with the experts in the fields. But this is still an exciting thing to do. I find that it allows me to keep track of certain facts that I find in the blogosphere and to make comments and solidify my thinking on certain things.
It also gives me the opportunity to research and learn about things myself, like my past posts on countries of the world, and of the Oregon state measures during this last election.
If you have wondered about the history of blogs and how much of the world they penetrate, then I recommend reading this article by Daniel Drezner and Henry Farrell for Foreign Policy online called "Web of Influence". Foreign Policy doesn't publish small articles. They publish essays. So pull up a cozy cushon and adjust the fire tonight. Pour yourself a glass of wine and dig in. It is an interesting look at the blogosphere, even for a seasoned blogger.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Battle of Fallujah
Joe Katzman over at Winds of Change has some in depth analysis and status report on the battle. He has some links to great maps of the action too. Here's one:

Regional roundups
Winds of Change has been blogging up a storm lately, and since I have been out of town I have been trying to catch up. There's always lots going on in the world. Take a few minutes and get caught up yourself.
Here is their Latin America briefing. Nate's Central Asia Summary. A Russia briefing, and the weekly Winds of War, detailing what's going on in the war on terror.
Heck, just go to Winds of Change and keep scrolling. It's all good this week.
Also, here is a Asia roundup of blogs and news from the far east from SimonWorld.
Regional roundups
Winds of Change has been blogging up a storm lately, and since I have been out of town I have been trying to catch up. There's always lots going on in the world. Take a few minutes and get caught up yourself.
Here is their Latin America briefing. Nate's Central Asia Summary. A Russia briefing, and the weekly Winds of War, detailing what's going on in the war on terror.
Heck, just go to Winds of Change and keep scrolling. It's all good this week.
Also, here is a Asia roundup of blogs and news from the far east from SimonWorld.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Progress in Darfur
Via Instapundit, this is great news. Read the Christian Science Monitor report.
Into this fray comes the 322nd Air Expeditionary Group of the US Air Force, based in Ramstein, Germany. They set up camp at Rwanda's main airport, surrounded by rolling hills and turquoise mountain lakes. From there they've ferried troops, supplies, and equipment - including armored personnel carriers - 1,000 miles north into Darfur. Besides planes, the US has pledged $300 million to the Darfur effort. The European Union has also pledged $125 million. The money and airplanes are crucial because African countries notoriously have little of either. But they do have troops - something America has been reluctant to put in Africa since 18 US rangers were killed in Somalia in 1993.
And also read this analysis by Intel Dump.
I'm heartened that the U.S. has decided to commit what it can to the Sudan operation — even if it's not enough in my opinion. Moreover, this model demonstrates that you don't always have to go in heavy to make a difference.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Election Post Mortem

RoguePundit is a blog I enjoy reading. I don't always agree with him, but most of his posts are neutral, and he is a thinker in the blog realm. A thinker is someone who spends lots of words on one subject, as opposed to a linker, who spends all their time making short comments on stuff they link to. Instapundit is a linker. Roguepundit is a thinker.
He makes this comment that I really liked, but has much more in this post. Read the whole thing.

The Democrats still haven't learned how to be an effective minority party, in part because they've never accepted the fact that a number of their beliefs are not mainstream. The denial about that is profound, especially in places like Oregon. Enough lashing out...time for some soul searching. If you don't want to change, then learn to convince your opponents, not demean them...that takes time and effort. Enough of the petulant statements like "If Bush wins, I'll go to New Zealand." Democracy means accepting winning as well as losing, all the while working to improve the nation.

Election County Map
Sorry I've been out of town. And for the whole election - shame on me.
Well, here is a nice election map by county from I tell you, as I look at this, that the divide between rural America and Urban America looks more and more defined. Bush won such a larger mass of the American landscape this time it kind of looks like a mandate from the map.

Update: ESRI has a great 3D election map by county. They also have their own regular county map, but more filled in than the USA Today map.
CBS also should have a lot of ESRI generated demographic maps related to the election, like where the candidates spent their money. The ESRI site has a flash presentation of the maps, but it flashes too quickly to see any of them in great detail. I can't find these maps on the CBS site.