That Whole Rigamarole

Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Rat in the Bedroom

For those who don't understand the war, maybe this John Kass column from the Chicago Tribune will help clarify it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The Field

Everything about "black" aerospace technology in this article might be true, but it wouldn't be necessary to explain support for the war. This author includes the usual nonsensical musings about oil and North Korea. It reminds me of the people who wonder why Al Qaeda has been attacking us and spin complex theories about it. We could just take them at their word. Why not take Blair, Bush, (and Blix and the other countries already on board) at their word?

Found via dear Andrea Harris.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Inspections Without End

Steven Den Beste provides a good summary of the Blix Report. It is obvious that Iraq has not implemented UNSC Resolution 1441, which was supposed to be their “last chance” to comply with the related, preceding resolutions. So the inspections are now mostly beside the point, except to the people who insist that they should take their “natural course.”

Mr. ElBaradei and the Axis of Weasels and John Kerry and the rest who hold this view need to admit that the inspections no longer have a natural course. They are meaningless without an Iraqi commitment to disarm. What is the stopping point for a meaningless process? I guess in this case it would be that elusive “smoking gun.” It might take years to find it, and in the meantime we run the risk of the WMD being used before they are found. Also in the meantime, the Iraqi people suffer under Saddam’s rule of fear, and Saddam uses his Oil for Food money to make trouble everywhere he can.

I liken these inspections in some ways to ISO 9001 audits. Some auditors (inspectors) show up, ask some questions, look around, and draw some conclusions. In the case of ISO 9001 audits, the voluntary registration bureaucracy calls for a few auditor-days per year in a small manufacturing plant. They can only take a cursory survey of what’s going on. I think it’s safe to say that in many cases, they don’t really understand the reality of the organization, unless the organization really wants to air its dirty laundry, which usually it does not. It’s easy to fool a couple of auditors for a few days, especially when the organization is paying the auditors for their services. The auditors have very little incentive to threaten the organization’s registration, and plenty of incentive to continue the organization’s registration.

Without straining the analogy too much, I think anybody who has experience in the ISO 9001 system or with military inspections will realize that UN weapons inspections in Iraq cannot verify disarmament under the current circumstances. Even Colin Powell, an advocate of inspections, has realized this. The UN inspection process has in fact run its natural course. As Bill Kristol pointed out yesterday on Fox News Sunday, people like John Kerry who are calling for more inspections do not have the courage of their convictions. They supported the President last fall, and have called for UN involvement. The plain meaning of the UNSC decisions on this issue is that the time for forcible disarmament of Iraq has arrived.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Dealing with Count Data

Instapundit mentions some data about military recruitment that Donald Sensing has also discussed. The topic is Marine recruiting numbers coming from Northern California and Nashville. This is what Rev. Sensing had to say:
Just in case you missed it, that means that the single city of Nashville, population 1,187,521 in 2000, sends more men and women to the Marine Corps than half the entire state of California, population 34,501,130 (for the whole state; how many live in the northern half I don't know). And the Chronicle is apparently worried that the place is becoming too pro-military. Yeah, right.

Professor Reynolds misspeaks a little when he describes these numbers as recruiting rates. The rankings under discussion are based on counts of recruits. To fairly compare the "fertility" for recruiting, we should divide the counts by some appropriate area of opportunity. Sensing mentions total population, but an even better area of opportunity would be population in the appropriate age range.

The world of management is shot through with this kind of error in data analysis. If you look around, you will probably find many examples.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

License Plate Puzzle

We saw this one today:

I have no idea what that might signify. I'd be interested in the thoughts of those who see this. E-mail me, if you would.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Stopping Short

I saw the link to this Washington Post op-ed on one of the big-time blogs, can't remember which, and it also came to my attention via Yahoo! It states the obvious:
Even a perfunctory acquaintance with the realities of the global oil market would indicate that the "oil war" theory does not stand up to analysis. As an imagined rationale it doesn't square with the facts;....

This is exactly what Britt Hume was trying to explain to Juan Williams last time on Fox News Sunday. Juan, doing his best to represent the Left, was too dim to follow the argument. Juan's "Oil War" logic ran along the lines of:
We are preparing to attack Iraq.

We are not preparing to attack North Korea.

Iraq has oil.

North Korea has no oil.

Therefore, we are preparing to attack Iraq because it has oil.

I am not well-versed in all the logical fallacies, but I believe that "correlation does not prove causation" applies in this case. The linked article goes on to explain in simple terms why, if our main interest was oil, we would not be doing anything like what we are now preparing for in Iraq.

But the author, Thomas Lippman, expresses perplexity about the justification for the war. I would paraphrase him and say:
Even a perfunctory acquaintance with the realities of Iraqi weapons development activity since 1991 would indicate that the time for military intervention has arrived.

My personal bogeyman in this whole mess is the nerve agent VX. The Army instilled in me the belief that were I to get so much as a drop of this stuff on my skin, I would soon be doing what we called the "kickin' chicken." Oh sure, there was a chance that the atropine injectors would work, but I was never really confident of surviving an encounter with this stuff. The point is, VX is very scary and lethal. And Iraq was known to have tons of the stuff. Here's a little story I found via Google. It does not display the year, but my (obviously) limited HTML skills revealed that it is from 1997. Hence the vignette of a scowling Bill Clinton next to Saddam. (Bill is quite imposing there, don't you agree?) Here's the most important bit from the article:
The VX gas Iraq is producing is 10 times more toxic than the sarin gas that killed 12 and injured 5,000 people on a Tokyo subway in 1995. And though U.N inspection teams destroyed 28,000 chemical weapons, 480,000 liters of chemicals used to make them, and 1.8 million liters of other chemicals, the Iraqis now admit they have 3.9 tons of VX gas. (Emphasis mine.)

This stuff is not accounted for. The various UNSC resolutions require them to account for it. They haven't accounted for it. They don't intend to account for it. The inspectors could look for years and never find it. This is but one of many examples. The case for war is obvious for anyone who cares to look, including our erstwhile allies in "Old Europe."

Headlines for the Oblivious

I'm not entirely clear on the concept, but I believe the headline on this story would elicit a "With Cheese!" from Juan Gato. The headline: "U.S. Plans Massive Attack on Iraq - Report." Sometimes I see these stories and I have to wonder why they even move.

The text goes on to describe a CBS report about war plans (for March) involving hundreds of cruise missiles fired in 2 days, for the purpose of amazing and terrifying the Iraqi regime. They cite Pentagon sources. Does anyone think for a minute that anyone at DoD who actually knows anything about the war plans is telling CBS? Whose sanity check does that pass? As I say, I wonder why some stories even move.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Making the Case

Dr. Condoleeza Rice lays out the case for material breach in plain English in the paper of record. The link to the Times story (I think free registration is required) popped up in the Yahoo sidebar to this AP story featuring Colin Powell. He is also speaking in very unambiguous language. The message to all not currently on board with the US/UK/Australian coalition could not be clearer: "We are going to do what we need to do. Get on board or get out of the way."

Rush to War?

This Reuters story uses a phrase that I see often and which really irritates me:
The stand taken by Paris, Beijing and Moscow means a majority of the five veto-wielding permanent members on the U.N. Security Council are against rushing into war.

How on Earth can we and our true allies be said to be "rushing" into war? The 9/11 attacks were (counting on fingers) 16 months ago. This action is certainly related to those attacks. It's also the case that the current confrontation with Iraq is a continuation of hostilities that ended only partially in 1991. We have been in military conflict with Iraq continuously since that time.

Our so-called allies are perverting the meaning of UNSC resolution 1441, and they know it. The journalists who use phrases like "rushing into war" display the same willful disregard of history. All of these people are going to feel awfully stupid in a few weeks.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Time's Up!

With this statement from President Bush today, I think we can say that the decision is definitely made and the patience of the US and UK is at an end. The final paragraph is key:
Asked how much time he would give Saddam to comply with United Nations demands to disarm or face possible military action, Bush said: "I will let you know when the moment has come."

I think that means there won't be any more warnings or requests or negotiations. We may put the question to the Security Council within the next 10 days, but it will not be a request for permission. It will be more along the lines of "We're going in. If you want to back the winning horse, the time is now."

Monday, January 20, 2003

Usage Note

I have been reading many very talented writers lately who use phrases similar to "squash dissent." I think the word they mean to use is quash:
Pronunciation: 'kwäsh, 'kwosh

Function: transitive verb

Etymology: Middle English quashen to smash, from Middle French quasser, casser, from Latin quassare to shake violently, shatter, frequentative of quatere to shake

Date: 13th century: to suppress or extinguish summarily and completely

Definition from Merriam-Webster Online.

Updated Bombing Statistics

I have finally gotten around to updating my creepy homepage with information about the last two terrorist bombings in Israel. I created this page as a way to analyze whether the various Israeli countermeasures were reducing the number of these crimes. I'm not sure why I published it. But anyway, the current scorecard suggests that indeed the Israeli's have had some success lately. Here's to more of that.

More Jawboning?

I saw a couple of eye-poppers in this story about the inspection shuffle (Blix is the speaker):
"On the substantive issues relating to anthrax, VX (nerve agent) and a number of Scud missiles, we have not discussed that. That is to be discussed some time in the future."

There was no mention in the statement of taking scientists outside Iraq for interviews, as Washington has demanded on the grounds that the interviewees need protection from reprisals.

So if I understand this correctly, Dr. Blix is negotiating with the Iraqi government about these issues. The issue of interviewing people outside of Iraq struck me oddly, because here is an excerpt from UNSC Resolution 1441:
5. Decides that Iraq shall provide UNMOVIC and the IAEA immediate, unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access to any and all, including underground, areas, facilities, buildings, equipment, records, and means of transport which they wish to inspect, as well as immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted, and private access to all officials and other persons whom UNMOVIC or the IAEA wish to interview in the mode or location of UNMOVIC’s or the IAEA’s choice pursuant to any aspect of their mandates; further decides that UNMOVIC and the IAEA may at their discretion conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq, may facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq, and that, at the sole discretion of UNMOVIC and the IAEA, such interviews may occur without the presence of observers from the Iraqi Government;....

(Emphasis mine.) See, these issues are all decided. The UN resolved, and Iraq accepted. We need no more lengthy negotiations. Or, if you like, the UN resolved, and Iraq did not accept. We need no more lengthy negotiations. The logic is compelling, is it not?

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Blix: The Jig is Up

Well, that isn't exactly what this Reuters story says, but it's there if you look carefully. Here is a key line:
We are not closer because there are too many gaps in it (the Iraqi declaration) and the world would like to be assured that Iraq is rid of weapons of mass destruction. And until we inspectors have been convinced of that we cannot so report to the Security Council.

Of course they cannot. And thus the final sad act of Saddam's reign in Iraq begins. Report on 27 January, State of the Union address on 28 January, meetings with Tony Blair on 30 and 31 January, and what amounts to an ultimatum to the Security Council shortly thereafter. February will be a most interesting month. I believe it will start a great step forward for legitimate peace and freedom around the world.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Sympathy for the Devil?

I suppose now we should call off the war because Saddam may have cancer.

I like this line:
The doctor, who reportedly last saw Saddam in July 2002, was quoted as saying that Saddam does not give the impression of a sick man.

See, to me he gives the impression of a sick man who is in good health.

This Will Make a Good Movie Someday

From sunny Venezuela, this story about the workers taking control of the means of production. The oil industry remains shut down (I'm sure it's difficult for the National Guard to run it themselves) but the all important food products from the Coca-Cola bottling plant will not be denied to the people!

I'm just glad they didn't decide to kill a bunch of folks, although I will be surprised if that doesn't start happening before the strike is resolved. Here's hoping the military won't have much taste for slaughtering their countrymen.

A Real Stretch

My wife decided to treat herself by watching one of her old favorite shows last night: ER. This one happened to feature Ed Asner playing a self-righteous jerk. It was quite the acting performance.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Some very good points

I am loving this Washington Post editorial. It points out that Hans Blix is "freelancing" with his inspection teams instead of reporting the obvious: that Iraq is failing to fully cooperate in disarming itself of prohibited weapons. I think we are going to see plenty of proof that war is necessary before it actually kicks off.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Clanking to Life

I am going to try to bring this thing to life, with a post at least daily. It may be nothing much. The look and feel is decidedly amateurish. But I've been commenting regularly elsewhere, and I just feel an interest in bringing my own blog out.

Don't Waste Money Unless It's On Me

I had high hopes for this story about government economic development projects when it popped up in my inbox today. I thought "this will point out some great ways to save money in cash-strapped Illinois." It turns out that the study is from a group that would replace transfer payments to corporations (which are generally bad) with tranfer payments to public works and other busy-body approved projects that don't promote suburban sprawl.

Idea for Governor Blago: Embrace the spirit of the study by ending all the business subsidy programs, fire the employees of the implementing agencies, close their office buildings down and sell them. I won't hold my breath.