…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.
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.
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.
This looks, frankly, too cool for words. It’ll be great if the performance measures up.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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.||::::::::|
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.
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.
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.)
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?
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.