Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

McCain's RNC Speech

Last night, the Republican Party tried to put its centrist foot forward. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are popular with independents and were the keynote speakers last night.

Something that should be a major story but might not be....John McCain made a reference to a "disingenuous film maker" (meaning Michael Moore). The crowd erupted into a chorus of boos. Then when the delegates on the floor noticed that Moore was in the gallery with press credentials the boos turned to a cacophony of boos, angry chants and insults. Delegates were gesturing angrily at Moore. More sat and smiled and waved. This went on for several minutes. After a while McCain got the crowd quieted down and then he said, "That last line worked so well I'll use it again....Disingenuous filmmaker" and at that there was another couple of minutes of the same.

Later in his speech McCain called on Republicans not to hate their political opponents. This drew polite applause and more than a few rolling eyes from delegates.

The rest of the speech was a predictable theme: 9/11 = Perl Harbor; War on Terrror = WWII = War in Iraq; Bush = FDR (McCain even quoted FDR's "rendezvous with destiny" line); Kerry = Flip Flopper.

Three messages. Which will the press report?

Which do you think is the real face of the Republican party today?


Is the War on Terror Unwinnable?

Recently President Bush said in an interview that the war on terror wasn't a war we could "win" but that we could make it harder for terrorists to operate. In defense of the statement, which was pounced upon by press and opponents, Republicans say that Bush was merely pointing out that the War on Terror is not a conventional war - that it won't produce a surrender. In other words, we won't know when it will be over if ever.

THANK YOU! Bush has now publicly admitted that the War on Terror is more like the War on Drugs or the Cold War than it is like World War II. The political science community has known this since even before 9/11. Nice to see that the President has come around.

However, will Bush go all the way and stop using this unconventional and interminable "war" as a justification for everything from tax cuts for the top 1% of the income distribution to concentrated police powers to corporate give aways? I won't hold my breath.

Also, it points to how this "war" should be fought. If we were talking about a nation, it could be that we could invade country X and having taken it over, defeat some batch of terrorists and then move on to the next military campaign. But if we take the view that the War on Terror is "unconventional" it becomes less of a military and more of a law enforcement/political effort. Remember, we didn't win the Cold War by invading Eastern Europe. We won it by convincing the vast majority of East Europeans that our way was better. And we didn't even put much effort into convincing them (aside from a few radio broadcasts). We simply lived our prosperous, relatively free lives in open view of them. They did the rest.

The War on Terror will be over when anti-American/anti-Western recruiters are marginalized in their own communities. If we keep bombing those communities, such recruiters will be lionized not marginalized. We should use military force sparingly and with extreme precision. Most of our effort should be directed at "winning hearts and minds."


Monday, August 30, 2004

You people are nothing but a pack of fickle mush-heads!

I'm referring, of course, to the most enigmatic of all people, the undecided voters. From Zogby, again:

"Just 3 percent of persuadable voters said they would make up their minds after next week's Republican National Convention. An additional 31.8 percent will decide after the debates, 36.6 percent will decide during the last week of the campaign and 13.5 percent expect to decide when they walk into the voting booth."

Now, according to the article I took this from, there are about 2.6 million of these people. Is there not enough information out there for them? TV ads and news, newspaper, radio, internet, friends, family ... apparently all of this was not enough to persuade these people.

But the worst is the 13.5 percent (about 350,000!) that are planning to decide when they walk into the voting booth. Do we really want these people voting? It's like Homer trying to decide whether to vote for Sideshow Bob in the voting booth: "I don't approve of his Bart-killing policy ... but I do approve of his Selma-killing policy!"

Listen, if you're one of these people, let me help you out. Go to, answer the questions, and vote for the person who corresponds to your interests. Okay?

"He's right!" "Give us hell, Quimby!"


Sunday, August 29, 2004

H.L. Mencken Quotation

Here is a statement by H.L. Mencken that I think neatly points out the problem with the current theocratic tendencies of the Republican Party:

"So long as theologians keep within their proper bounds, science has no quarrel with them, for it is no more able to prove that they are wrong then they themselves are able to prove that they are right. But human experience shows that they never keep within their proper bounds voluntarily; they are always bulging over the line, and making a great uproar over things that they know nothing about. "
Prejudices: Fifth Series [1926]: "From the Files of a Book Reviewer",., p.125

Think of this when considering Republican policies on health care (stem cells) and education ("rational design" versus evolutionary biology). Think of this when considering a President who orders other men to war after consulting only a "higher father" instead of his own biological father who was not only President before but also Director of the CIA!


Bumbling Along In Gitmo

Hi Again,

Here is a link to an update on the rank incompetence and bungling going on in the military tribunals in Guantanamo. LA Times Story.

The scariest exchange reported is:
"Earlier, questioning of the lone alternate member of the commission highlighted the limited legal backgrounds of panel members.
A defense attorney, Navy Cmdr. Charles Swift, asked the alternate if he understood the primary source of international law.
'Do you know what the Geneva Convention is, sir?' Swift asked.
'Not specifically. No, sir,' Lt. Col. Curt S. Cooper answered. "And that's being honest."
That incident and others led observers from nongovernmental organizations to call for an all-lawyer panel.
'We've asked five very able commission members, who have essentially no legal training, to decide complex questions of constitutional and international law,' said Deborah N. Pearlstein, an observer with Human Rights First.
'And they are struggling with the definition of 'jurisdiction,' of 'due process.' Those terms are so basic. It calls the credibility of the entire process into question when we don't even have a baseline to start.'"

This is the most important thing going on in our Country at this time and it is barely being discussed! Perhaps Law Talking Guy could revisit some of his analysis of the Supreme Court's ruling on Guantamo detainees' rights in the context of these tribunals? In particular, do the tribunals satisfy the procedures called for in the Supreme Court's ruling?


Neo-con Espionage Case

Hi Everyone,

In their efforts to keep America safe from terrorism the Bush administration's I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby exposed one of our own CIA agents as part of a politically motivated vendetta against her husband.

Now, we hear that a high ranking Defense Department (DOD) official, Larry Franklin (who is close to both Paul Wolfowitz and Douglass Feith) was giving the Israelis classified documents about US policy towards Iran. Franklin is the top Iran specialist at DOD. Now this is not simply a case of a pro-Israeli DOD official sharing intelligence with an ally. In this case, Franklin gave the Israelis a rough draft of an administration policy document that was still being debated at the highest levels of the administration. The LA Times reports that "Officials are concerned because the directive was still being debated by U.S. policymakers at the time, possibly putting the Israeli government in a position to influence the final document, officials said."

I have said several times on this blog that the only thing keeping a dozen or so high ranking Bush administration officials out of jail is the fact the Republican Party controls both houses of Congress. Republican majorities prevent Congressional investigations into the long series of criminal negligence, corruption and crimes technically classified as treasonous (like exposing CIA agents and passing secrets to foreign powers).



Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Zogby on Independents

Zogby Polling put out this press release on 8/20:

"Kerry had a 10-point lead among independents that has grown,'' John Zogby, president of Zogby International, said in an interview. "That countervailed against the president actually increasing his lead among Republicans.'' Bush is backed by 86 percent of Republicans, according to Zogby, and Kerry draws support from 79 percent of Democrats.

This tells us a fascinating story about the election. Independent voters favor Kerry by a large margin. Kerry will win if he can turn out the Democratic base. Similarly, Bush's strategy is to turn out the Republican base, to an even larger degree than Kerry can.

For those who don't know, Zogby is considered among the most accurate polling operations for its record since 1994. Gallup, Harris, ABC, and CBS -- the other major operations -- have a more mixed record. Gallup gets more press because it was, in the period 1960-1990, the dominant national polling operation.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Coming Clean Without Consequences?

Hi Everyone,

With all the Republican accusations about whether or not John Kerry planned to get wounded three times in Vietnam to further his political career people might be excused for missing some important news items.

Item 1: The Abu Ghraib Commission led by former Nixon Defense Secretary James Schlesinger released its report today. The report was "harshly critical" of current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld but made a point of saying that his resigning would only "energize the enemy." The article I read didn't specify whether Schlesinger was referring to Al Qaida, Iraqi civilians, or the Democratic Party. The report also made clear that they had evidence that military intelligence had instructed MPs to abuse prisoners. The panel also called for additional criminal charges up the chain of command (but apparently not against any Bush appointees in the Pentagon).

Item 2: The first military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees opened with one detainee's representative (Cmdr. Charles Swift) insisting that members of the tribunal step down from their posts because they are unqualified. In particular, he said that the presiding officer of the tribunal was not a member of the Virginia Bar Association (the officer's native state) and so not qualified to practice law. Here is an instructive passage from the LA Times article I read.

" 'Are you challenging the system, or are you challenging me?' Brownback asked.

'We're challenging you, sir,' Swift replied.

But the system itself is also on trial, the defense made clear in the first of four days of military pretrials here. One by one, Swift posed legal questions designed to show that Brownback's four fellow panel members and one alternate — none of them lawyers — are unprepared to address some of the most complex issues of international law in recent years and would defer to Brownback's legal training — a flaw Swift called 'unlawful command influence.'

Questioning by Swift revealed that three commission members have what he termed 'extensive backgrounds' in dealing with detainees, intelligence and the war in Afghanistan, paving the way for a likely challenge based on conflicts of interest."

Item 3: Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby was the Bush administration official who "outed" CIA operative, Valarie Plame in retaliation against her husband's criticism of Bush Iraq policy. The reporter who was keeping Libby's name confidential has released Libby's name after Libby contacted him and released him from the confidentiality agreement. The reporter had been facing contempt of court charges. So at least Libby is an honorable a point.

I find it interesting that these stories are all coming at a time when the media is preoccupied with the Olympics and the Swift Boat Veterans "For Truth" ads. The White House had control over the timing of two of the stories: item 1 and item 3.

Comments? I'm especially interested in hearing what Law Talking Guy has to say about the Gitmo tribunals.


This is great

From a recent President Bush speech:

"I think Senator Kerry served admirably, and he ought to be proud of his record," Mr. Bush said. "But the question is who's best to lead the country in the war on terror, who can handle the responsibilities of the commander in chief, who's got a clear vision of the risks that the country faces."

"I think we ought to be looking forward, not backward," he said.

First of all, he's absolutely right about everything. It's actually a really decent, sensible quote from someone not known for such things. But what will make Simpsons fans laugh is the last line, taken almost verbatim from the Simpsons when the two aliens run for President:

"My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball, but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom."


Sunday, August 22, 2004

More Questions About Casualties and Oversight

Law Talking Guy's recent posting about the casualties in Iraq mentioned that the military doesn't count "non-hostile" casualties. But I heard on NPR recently that the military doesn't count, or even try to keep count of, casualties among the independent contractors. This report on NPR again raised concerns (that I have posted about on this blog), that there is insufficient oversight of US policy in Iraq. NPR reported that the military has difficulty counting casualties because they don't even know exactly how many contractors are there - and they aren't asking either. This means that we have probably already exceeded the 1,000 killed in action mark by a substantial amount. But many of those killed weren't currently in the military but were contractors hired by the military.

Apparently, in the old days when contractors were building toilets or airplanes or whatever, the military only cared if the items were delivered and maybe also cared about the price. How the items were produced and by how many people was of less concern. But now, contractors are performing military duties such as guarding convoys and VIPS, helping to manage POW detention centers etc. Nevertheless, the military continues to stick with the old practice of not investigating the "how and by how many" questions. This is especially problematic when contractors sub contract part or all of their jobs to other companies. The result can be that the people actually doing a job can be two, three or more steps away from the government authority responsible for oversight.

What do you think?


Friday, August 20, 2004

New Stuff

I've added some new links to our sidebar to appease our fan base. We now have the excellent (and truly independent, for once), a great resource to find out whose ads are lying more. I also added, at RbR's suggestion, a link to the current Doonesbury cartoon. Finally, a link to The Simpsons Archive so you can pick up all the references we'll hopefully be making.

By the way, has anybody checked out George Bush's web site and compared it to John Kerry's web site recently? Let me throw out a discussion topic -- some are saying that Kerry is not being negative enough in his campaign strategy. (a) Do you agree with that and (b) might Bush be losing voters by coming off as too   negative?


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Casualty Update: Iraq

From the CNN regular update:

There have been 1,083 coalition deaths, including 953 Americans, as of August 19, 2004. At least 6,497 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon. The Pentagon does not report the number of non-hostile wounded.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Colorado, etc

So now it seems that Colorado is looking to change its electoral vote system. I don't really know what to make of this. It would certainly benefit John Kerry's campaign, but its constitutional legitimacy appears to be in question. I would like our legal expert to comment on this.

I also encourage our readers to check out this article in The Onion. I especially like the line "During his term in office, George Bush has relentlessly continued to be president-despite the clear benefits to America his absence would bring to the lives of citizens everywhere." Great political satire (although Kerry has not really attacked Bush all that much recently)

I'm working on a post about French politics, but in the meantime I'm enjoying watching the Olympics here. I'm getting to see sports that I don't often see in the US (like fencing and judo) and they actually show the sports here, instead of fluff! How nice!


Monday, August 09, 2004

San Francisco to Use STV Electoral System

Hi Everyone,

The LA Times (and other papers I'm sure) are reporting that San Francisco will use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) in this November's city elections.

In this system, voters rank order the candidates (San Francisco will allow 1st, 2nd and 3rd rankings). The votes are counted several times. After the first round of counting, the candidate with the fewest 1st rankings is eliminated. All the people who ranked the eliminated candidate 1st will then have their votes transferred to the candidate they ranked 2nd. The count process is repeated until one candidate gets over 50% of the vote.

This system has a number of advantages over the single member district plurality system (SMD) used in most US elections. The LA Times article discusses these and I've posted about this before.

This system would most likely benefit moderate candidates. Consider a three way mayoral race between a Green (G), a Democrat (D) and Republican (R). Let's suppose there are several kinds of voters with the following rank orderings for candidates:

Greens: 1 = G; 2 = D; 3 = R (15% of voters)
Republicans: 1 = R; 2 = D; 3 = G (43% of voters)
Liberal Democrats: 1 = D; 2 = G; 3 = R (32% of voters)
Moderate Democrats: 1 = D; 2 = R; 3 = G (10% of voters)

Under the current US electoral system if everyone voted for their first choice, the Republican would win with 43%, the Democrat would come in second with 42%, and the Green would lose with 15%. However, this hypothetical city has a 57% majority against the Republican. What is more, 47% of the voters, more than actually voted for her, consider the Republican the worst possible candidate! Would a Republican mayor really be the best, most democratic expression of the voters' preferred policies in this city??

Now consider the same city with the same candidates but this time, the votes will be counted using STV and each group of voters will rank order the candidates as indicated above. After the first round, the Green candidate would be eliminated and his votes transferred to the Democrat. The Democrat would then win with 57% of the votes to the Republican's 43%. What's more the Democrat would be 1st choice of 42% of the voters and the second choice of the other 58%. So no one would feel like the election produced their worst case scenario.

Obviously this example makes some assumptions about the candidates involved and voters' preferences. You could play around with it on your own and figure out how such a system would work with 4 parties by adding a party on the far right too. Also, this kind of example assumes one dimensional politics (left versus right) that assumption works most of the time.

Comments? Discussion?


Chalabi Folly

There has been unusual silence about this Ahmad Chalabi business. He was the major source for WMD "information" before the war. The Pentagon, Rumsfeld leading, wanted him as the the interim leader in Baghdad. This is widely known. Now we discover he's been playing the Iranians too, and worse. The Allawi regime in Iraq has now charged Chalabi with all manner of capital crimes. Who is the bigger fool, the fool, or the fools who follow him?

Question: where is the accountability? Where is the resignation of those in the Pentagon who relied on Chalabi for so much? Where is the admission that we were either (a) fooled, or (b) using Chalabi's lies for our own purposes? The editors at The Economist were right that, for the Abu Ghraib fiasco, Rumsfeld's resignation was the only thing that could have restored credibility (Instead, the hapless Lynddie England is the fall girl). And in such things, Rumsfeld was only the root cause, not the instigator. For this error in judgment, the lack of accountability is proof that the Bush administration has learned nothing from its mistakes, and intends to learn nothing. The only solution is a new administration.

The bottom line, after the WMD reports and the expose of Chalabi, is that we now know that we were under no "imminent threat." We had all the time we needed to put together a real international coalition, including real Arab support, and squeeze out the Ba'athist regime. Nearly a thousand American soldiers are dead now, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Its Funny Because its True

Hi Everyone,

The title of this posting is a Simpsons reference.

I normally don't like to make fun of people with learning disabilities but this is just too good to let go. At a recent speach President Bush said the following:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

An MSNBC story reports that "White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush’s misstatement 'just shows even the most straightforward and plain-spoken people misspeak.'

'But the American people know this president speaks with clarity and conviction, and the terrorists know by his actions he means it,' McClellan said."

I don't know which is funnier, what the President said or that the White House thought it was the perfect time to remind us that the President speaks with clarity and conviction. To be honest, based on this latest statement I rather hope he doesn't.


Friday, August 06, 2004

Ron Reagan On Bush

Hi Everyone,

I recently read an op-ed piece forthcoming in Esquire (September 2004, Volume 142, Issue 3) by Ron Reagan (late President Reagan's son for those who live in a cave). I really feal like I can relate to where this guy is coming from. Like me, he was raised by Republicans and raised around a Republican party that was radically different from the one we see today. I strongly suggest reading it. My favorite quotation from it is the following:

"My father, acting roles excepted, never pretended to be anyone but himself. His Republican party, furthermore, seems a far cry from the current model, with its cringing obeisance to the religious Right and its kill-anything-that-moves attack instincts. Believe it or not, I don't look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration. We have reached a critical juncture in our nation's history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don't trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them?" -- Ron Reagan

I don't know of it Ron Reagan feels any nostalgia for the GOP of the 1980s. By that time, I was already becoming disillusioned with Republicans. However, I at least knew then that Republicans shared a more or less common view of democracy and liberty with Democrats even though they disagreed strongly on particular policies. I'm no longer confident that the Republicans share that view anymore - at least not the current leadership and dominant faction within the party.


Thursday, August 05, 2004

Torture by the Coalition of the Willing

Hi Everyone,

The Danish newspaper, Politiken, is reporting that Danish troops at Camp Eden in Iraq abused/tortured both civilians and POWs in their custody. Danish military authorities are investigating the case and a female officer, Kaptajn Annemette Hommel, has been sent home already. The Danish abuse case involves many of the same things as the Abu Gharib case: denial of food, water, toilet facilities and forcing prisoners to assume painful positions for prolonged periods - but never hit or kicked say investigators. The abuse allegedly took place between March and June of this year. The difference in the investigations is that the Danish press reports that investigators have found that Danish leaders knew about it all along. In fact, the Danish government removed the leadership of their Iraq contingent (something like 500 troops) over this issue. This is a marked contrast from the American investigation that is dead set on limiting accusations of direct misconduct to enlisted personel.

Kaptajn Hommel says that Camp Eden started to get out of control in June. She says civilian interpreters were walking in and out of the infirmery all the time and were uncooperative. Some had to be sent home. Hmm, chaotic prison environment? I thought that was an isolated thing at Abu Gharib?

This is more circumstantial evidence that the abuse in Abu Gharib was a policy from the top not mearly, as the Bush administration insists, a few bad soldiers dishonoring their unit. More alarming, this happened AFTER the Abu Gharib scandal broke! Again, the so called liberal media in the USA is not picking up the story. Who cares about tiny little Denmark, right? But this is important because if allied troops were doing exactly the same stuff at another detention center in Iraq, then the "few bad apples theory" looks less and less likely. Where is American investigative journalism?


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Are Bush Administration Terror Warnings Political?

Hi Everyone,

The most recent terror alert sparked a considerable amount of security measures in New York especially. However, it now turns out that the supposed new information was 3 years old. This has led to some open speculation that the Bush administration is using terror alerts for political gain.

This is almost impossible to prove - a good thing for Bush because if it were proved he would be doomed in the elction and possibly vulnerable to criminal prosecution of some sort.

So far the only terror announcement that had details of a planned attack had to do with the supposed plot to bomb a shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio (a swing city in a swing state). A Somali immigrant and small businessman, Nuradin Abdi, was arrested the day before Thanksgiving 2003 and held incommunicado in Cincinnati. On June 14th, 2004, John Ashcroft made a grandiose announcement that “America’s heartland has been targeted for death and destruction!” The announcement was made because the Feds were about to – finally – give Abdi his day in court. Ashcroft’s announcement said that Nuradin Abdi was a known Al Qaeda operative who was planning on “blowing up a shopping mall” in Columbus. The spin from the Attorney General was that an Al Qaeda cell in Columbus was bout to activated but had been stopped in the nick of time by heroic efforts of the Bush administration.

However, when Abdi showed up in court he was clearly not in command of his faculties. Having declined counsel, he swayed back in forth muttering to himself incoherently during the hearing. Occaisionally he would bang his head on the table in front of him. The judge ordered the prosecution to take Abdi to a mental institution to determine if he was mentally fit to stand trial. The story has yet to be picked up again. I suggest that after 7 months in custody it should have occurred to the Justice Dept. that Mr. Abdi was possibly schizophrenic. So why did they make such a big deal about it only to almost immediately stop making public announcements about it?

I suggest that this case is a likely example of the Bush Administration using arrests and terror announcements for political purposes. I think they rushed to make the announcement because of its obvious potential to solidify shaky support for Bush in the critical state of Ohio. Then when it showed signs of being an embarrassment, they hushed up. The media has been all too willing to let Bush and Ashcroft off the hook on this one.


Speculating About Al Qaeda's Goals

With the latest alarming non-alert (or was it a non-alarming alert?), the other political scientist and I got into a conversation about what Al Qaeda is actually likely to do next. He can correct me if I misrepresent areas of consensus but here is what I remember us agreeing on:

1) Predicting what Al Qaeda will do next is really at the heart of the "War on Terror." Far more important than adventures in Iraq or other "rogue states" which may or may not have any direct links to Al Qaeda.

2) Predicting what Al Qaeda will do next depends on our understanding of what Al Qaeda's goals are. Or at least what the goals of its leaders are.

Here is what I remember us more or less agreeing are major factors contributing to Al Qaeda's goals.

1) Organizational survival. Remember that Al Qaeda's raison d'etre was opposition to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. When the USSR pulled out and then collapsed, Al Qaeda (and Osama Bin Ladin) were out of a job. It was only then that Al Qaeda transformed itself from an anti-Soviet to an anti-American organization. One can view this as politically opportunistic or entrepreneurial depending on your perspective. In either case, this view of Al Qaeda would mean it’s ideology is actually secondary to its activity. The continued operation of the organization is the goal.

2) Furthering the personal ambition of Osama Bin Laden to be a “big shot” in the Arab world. In this view, Al Qaeda is an organization devoted to increasing the political profile and prestige of Osama Bin Laden. Again, in this view any ideological concerns would be secondary.

So what does that suggest?

1) Osama Bin Laden’s audience is NOT primarily the US or Western public. Rather, he is most concerned with impressing people in the Arab/Muslim world. Either because doing so brings in recruits or because that is the community in which he seeks to have political influence. In this context the point of terror attacks is not simply to maximize the casualty numbers. Rather it is to maximize media sensation in the Arab media. This suggests that attacks against smaller towns and cities in the American Midwest or South are not as likely as many Americans fear, it would take too much to explain what the targets are to the intended audience. Instead, Al Qaeda will continue to try to make the “big score” type attacks. So that would be good news for Austin or Columbus but bad news for New York, D.C., Chicago, L.A. and other cities with more fame outside the USA.

2) Questions about who Bin Laden wants to win the US Presidential election are pointless. Bin Laden probably doesn’t care who wins the US elections so long as he can claim in the Arab press to have been a factor.

Comments? Disagreements? Additions?