Iraq one year later

This is an excellent article from Heritage on the improvements in Iraq an the necessity of the military effort:



Encounter with an Anti-war activist

Anti-war activists are pretty scary people. They are blind ideologues who care for nothing but their own narcissistic desire to be right. They will misquote anyone and everyone they can find to advance their cause for tyranny. At the loyola site slashdog, which is supposed to be non-partisan but is really just a forum for liberal extremism, I encountered just such a wacko. Here is our conversation.

The poor soul:

From what I understand of the Maryland Day festivities, the actual ceremony begins at 3PM. So this candlelight vigis does not intefer with the day's activities. As for "Some politically motivated demonstration", I counter witht he motives for the war in iraq. Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)??? Better yet, where is Osama and those responsible for the terror attacks on New York, Washington, and Madrid? This war was "some politically motivated demonstration." As Americans, we have a RIGHT to protest (see 1st Amendment). And as tuition paying students, we have a RIGHT to use our quad for a student-ran club activity. No one stopped the SGA, Lax Teams, Spectrum, etc from using the quad. As long as the JUSTICE club holds a peaceful protest that does not intefer with the mass, then I fail to see why this is a big deal.


"I counter witht he motives for the war in iraq. Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)??? Better yet, where is Osama and those responsible for the terror attacks on New York, Washington, and Madrid?"

Yawn. This is such a typical response from the anti-liberation left (and right). I take it you have read David Kay's report and testimony before congress. Well, if you had you wouldn't be saying "where is the WMD's." Kay has found ample evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program, the intent to develop and USE it further and the need to stop Saddam now. As Kay said, the war was probably EVEN MORE justified under the information he found than it was before. Iraq was disintegrating into anarchy, Saddam was desperate to attain weapons, he was silencing dissent, and he was butchering his own citizens. Perhaps you want your president of the United States to ignore a decades worth of evidence and countless numbers of experts (including David Kay). I don't

The U.S. is currently searching hard for Osama, I hope he is found soon. Yet your expression reveals a startling ignorance as to the real problem at hand. Even if we caught Bin Laden, the problem would still be serious and imminent. The US has been successful at dismantling much the Al Qaeda's original top brass (Where Kalid Mohammed, in a jail). But other officials are taking their posta and individual cells are taking their own initiative in fighting the infidel (ah, and we bring God in to justify tyranny!) Perhaps the problem is you believe that George Bush and John Ascroft are the problem, not the terrorists and the tyrannical states that are their mothers milk. Thank God your's is a fringe opinion

The poor soul responds: In a senate hearing, David Kay said (in reference to Iraq's WMD program) "Let me begin by saying, we were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here.


Saddam Hussien had a WMD program...10 years ago. Evidence shows that He was not able to rebuild it (although I'm sure he would have, given the opportunity). So, I'm not quite sure how Saddam's weapons program from the 1980's was a clear and present danger, much less a justification for war. I think your ignoring the bigger problem...the US intellegence community has had some blunders in the last 5 years (USS Cole, 9/11, Iraq), which have cost American lives. Instead of dumping millions into invading Iraq, I would have rather seen President Bush put those millions into better intellengce gathering so the aforementioned 'oversights' do not happen again.

Festa writes "Thank God your's is a fringe opinion "

I take offense at this...I think you will find that this nation is divided about this war. Look at the polls done by the New York Times, Fox News, or the Washington Post. They will show that a good number of Americans are not in favor of President Bush or the war. Not everyone shares your ideas on what is right and wrong, or where a UN mandate is needed. Liberating the Iraqi people was a good thing. I hope that Democracy will be successful in Iraq. But the fact that Iraq was invaded on questionable intellegence is disturbing (if the intellegence was not questionable, then the CIA would have known where the weapons were being stored). I hope your not so totally blinded that you miss that important fact. "

And I counter:

Ugh. I love selective quotations, love it. In that very very same article
"In my judgment, based on the work that has been done to this point of the Iraq Survey Group, and in fact, that I reported to you in October, Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N.] Resolution 1441.

Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities -- one last chance to come clean about what it had.

We have discovered hundreds of cases, based on both documents, physical evidence and the testimony of Iraqis, of activities that were prohibited under the initial U.N. Resolution 687 and that should have been reported under 1441, with Iraqi testimony that not only did they not tell the U.N. about this, they were instructed not to do it and they hid material"

Or how bout this

"With regard to biological warfare activities, which has been one of our two initial areas of focus, ISG teams are uncovering significant information - including research and development of BW-applicable organisms, the involvement of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) in possible BW activities, and deliberate concealment activities. All of this suggests Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of BW agents."

"A very large body of information has been developed through debriefings, site visits, and exploitation of captured Iraqi documents that confirms that Iraq concealed equipment and materials from UN inspectors when they returned in 2002. One noteworthy example is a collection of reference strains that ought to have been declared to the UN. Among them was a vial of live C. botulinum Okra B. from which a biological agent can be produced. This discovery - hidden in the home of a BW scientist - illustrates the point I made earlier about the difficulty of locating small stocks of material that can be used to covertly surge production of deadly weapons. The scientist who concealed the vials containing this agent has identified a large cache of agents that he was asked, but refused, to conceal. ISG is actively searching for this second cache."

I could go on, but whats the point? Iraq was desperately trying to break the sanctions. In order to continue some semblence of containment, we would have had to starve the Iraqi people to death and hope that Saddam, who was trying to reconstitute his weapons stock, did not find a way. This may be a risk you werewilling to take, but it is not a risk a responsible leader of the free world should take after terrorists declared war on us. You may also want to consider Kay's conclusion that the Iraq war was EVEN MORE justified under his findings. Intelligence always differs from reality, but its shocking how brutal, disgusting, and power hungry this man was. Plus, there were several other reasons for the Iraqi war, all of which have been validated, confirmed, or are in progress. The only reason you anti-liberation people focus on the WMD issue is because all your other arguments have been utterly decimated. (To be fair, I think Bush should have realized the media would never get the other reasons out why we were going and should have made a better case for the other reasons, which were justifiable. But thats crying over spilled milk. If you want to be an activist, you should at least educate yourself on them)

What you peace activists are saying is you want the status quo. You either want to keep starving the Iraqi people or youw ant to allow Iraq to reconstitute his weapons programs, and put millions of lives worldwide at risk. Hypocrisy at its worst.

"take offense at this...I think you will find that this nation is divided about this war. Look at the polls done by the New York Times, Fox News, or the Washington Post. They will show that a good number of Americans are not in favor of President Bush or the war. Not everyone shares your ideas on what is right and wrong, or where a UN mandate is needed. Liberating the Iraqi people was a good thing. I hope that Democracy will be successful in Iraq. But the fact that Iraq was invaded on questionable intellegence is disturbing (if the intellegence was not questionable, then the CIA would have known where the weapons were being stored). I hope your not so totally blinded that you miss that important fact."

Most polls show a majority of Americans support the effort in Iraq. There are people who oppose the war, but who are not active in supporting the regime of Saddam Hussein, which you have done implicitly with your protesting. Intelligence always differs from the reality on ground, it is not an exact science. Our intelligence needs to be improved, more spooks and agents are needed to get hands on intelligence. THanks to intelligence cuts congress and your favorite president passed after the cold war, this has become hard to do. What you are asking for is intelligence that is so tight and so irrefutable as to make the situation imminent. That will never happen. I hope you are not totally blinded that you miss this important fact.


Will the West Fight?

I have officially lost it with Old Europe. If they want to die a long narcissistic death, go bug off. I say this because I have become deeply depressed by the results of the recent spanish election (see below). The idea that a majority of the Spanish people thought the Spanish government more culpable for the bombings in Madrid then the terrorists themselves is both pathetic and cowardly.

Europe seems to be under the impression that there is no real threat. A couple of bombs here, a few thousand people there, where's the problem? Where's the problem? Cowards.

John Kerry wants to submit to the will of the United Nations, a body so corrupt that they put a pre-Iraq Libya in charge of a weapons of mass destruction disarmament committee. Libya? Also, what is Iran doing on the human rights committee? This is the same country that stoned a woman and threw a man off a cliff because they committed adultery. Where's the outrage?

Sure, Old Europe will scream foul. We helped you in Afghanistan! Baloney. As the British Columnist Mark Steyn said in the London Telegraph,

The other day, the editor of Le Monde, writing in the Wall Street Journal, dismissed as utterly false the widespread belief among all Americans except John Kerry's campaign staff that France is a worthless ally: "Let us remember here," he wrote, "the involvement of French and German soldiers, among other European nationalities, in the operations launched in Afghanistan to pursue the Taliban, track down bin Laden and attempt to free the Afghans."

Oh, put a baguette in it, will you? The Continentals didn't "launch" anything in Afghanistan. They showed up when the war was over - after the Taliban had been toppled and the Afghans liberated. And a few hundred Nato troops in post-combat mopping-up operations barely registers in the scale against the gazillions of Americans defending the Continent so that EU governments can blow their defence budgets on welfare programmes that make the citizens ever more enervated and dependent.

Here in America, we have a pretty clear choice for President in 2004. We can elect a man who, whatever his faults, recognizes the threat of Islamo-Fascism and the limits of the state or we can elect a man who will submit to the corrupt UN and pacify, to the extent that he can, the American people with his shopworn welfare soma.

Couldn't be any more clearer to me.


A catholic institution?

I am finishing up my last semester at Loyola College. I am very grateful for the education I have received here and have even written about it.


However, I have recently become extremely dismayed with the way this college has been promulgating and teaching the faith. For instance, I just finished reading in the greyhound about a full weeks worth of campus sponsered events on sexual diversity.


My own personal beliefs not withstanding, I am not de facto opposed to such an event (although the broad term "sexual diversity" scares me. Trangender?) But why has there not been a similar event with the abortion controversy. The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a moral evil that must be countered. Therefore, it is the job of a Catholic institution to do all that it can to counter this tendency to view abortion as an economic or judgment calculation on the part of the mother. Why is there no keynote speakers and discussion groups for this debate? When I went back to my Catholic high school, I saw posters all over the school of the Pope and Mother Theresa condemning the abomination that is abortion. Why do I not see similar posters here at Loyola? This is a culture that views the extraction of a baby to the point of delivery followed by the sucking of its brains out with a tube as a medical procedure. Is this not an evil that needs to be countered with all the vigor and might that a Catholic institution is de facto supposed to represent?

Another event that annoyed me was a lecture sponsered by the Center of Values an Services entitled "Why Service?" This particular lecturer, Colman McCartney, was a supposed peace activist. Yet it became abundantley clear to me after 5 minutes of this lecture that this man was nothing but an arrogant nihilistic nutbag. In the beginning of his lecture he led a prayer (so broadly defined that, as he said, an atheist wouldn't have objected) in which he said the following:

"Let us pray for all those people who have died by violence and all those animals that were killed by human greed."

Yes, that's right. He just equated human beings with animals. Sickening. The College should be ashamed of itself for allowing a wacko with beliefs as nutty as these disgrace Christ and his Church. Who knew that a Catholic institution would support a nut whose philosophy equates KFC chicken with the holocaust. (To those who say that maybe he didn't mean this, baloney. He said this in the same sentence and with the same vigor. By making the claim that it is an abomination that any human being kill an animal right after he righly claimed the former, he is equivocating. There is no difference between him and the most extreme wacko at PETA. He may deny it if you call him up, but it's not hard to understand his philosophy.)

I left almost immediately after that (I did stay for the following statement though. "40 million people are currently illiterate, they are probably the one's who voted for George Bush") so I do not know if he actually said something informative on the value of service. It doesn't matter.

I take solace in the fact that a majority of the faculty does not think the way that the above people do.


The always excellent John Fund of the Wall Street Journal had a rather disturbing article out today. Since I have yet to figure out why I cannot get my links to work, I will summarize his arguments and then comment on why I find this disturbing.

His article was on the increasing polarization of the political sphere. John says that

Both major political parties are increasingly squeezing out moderates, in part because the country is so polarized, and also because each party's primary electorate is becoming smaller and more ideological. Ask John McCain, who was flattened in the 2000 Republican primaries, or Joe Lieberman, whose campaign this year for the Democratic nomination went nowhere.

This is a bipartisan effort. Fund says that 5 moderate democrats were defeated by more liberal candidates in primary elections. One moderate black congressman was fairly blunt:

Because I didn't do what the white, liberal, extremist Democratic leaders wanted me to do, they're trying to punish me," he told the Houston Chronicle. "They think they ought to control the minds and hearts of every black in the Democratic Party, and if you don't do what they say, they're going to try to drag you back to the plantation like a runaway slave."

For the republicans Fund sights conservative republican challenges to Sen. Arlen Spector as well as some other primary challenges in the past year. In a quote I find most revealing, conservative libertarian Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth said that:

"Mr. Moore says his group seldom enters GOP primaries and then only when the incumbent violates basic Republican tenets. "Low taxes are the central linchpin of conservatism," he says. "It's possible to disagree about abortion, gay rights or the proper level of military spending, but we can't disagree about our one unifying message as conservatives."

My comment: I find this trend most disturbing. If representatives are being ousted because they "sell out" or "compromise" it will be almost impossible to get anything done.

With regards to the democratic side I am not in the least surprised. The democrats have become increasingly partisan ever since Bush took office in January of 2001. For the most part, Bush has governed as a right leaning moderate. He has cut income taxes, but he has also significantly increased spending. Two most glaring example of this is with the Medicare prescription drug bill and the Leave No Child Behind education bill. These two bills have many democratic ideas in them, yet the democrats scream, yell, and wig out everytime they are mentioned. Add on to this the fact that a majority of the democrats have decided to fight Bush tooth and nail on any further prosecution of the war on terror and you have a pretty scary situation. I know what the Democrats aren't, but I have no idea what they are. What Fund is telling me is that I shouldn't be holding out any hope that this will change.

But the Republicans seem to be doing exactly the same thing. Most distressing is the comment by Stephen Moore that the "core" republican belief is the cut in income taxes. While this is true in principle, it is not true that every republican who opposes a particular tax cut at a particular time is violating republican beliefs. It is entirely possible to be a conservative economist and oppose the Bush tax cut of 2003. One need not be violating any republican principles. For instance, one could say that the money may be better spent prosecuting the war on terror or that one should leave any stimulus to the monetary authorities (most conservative economists believe in the latter). Although I do not hold to these beliefs, I accept those who do and recognize that they are my friends and not my enemies.

But there are other reasons to be distressed at Mr. Moore's comments. It is increasingly hard to define exactly what a republican is and is not. Part of the problem is the confusion people have over the difference between a republican and a conservative. All republicans are not conservatives and some conservatives are not republicans. This confusion becomes even more evident when you throw the libertarians into the mix. Libertarians hate being called conservatives AND republicans as they do not believe they fall into either camp. What about those neoconservatives and paleoconservatives? Those two groups can't even be trusted in the same room together!

So, what do I propose as an alternative to the term republican? Well, I am not so sure. But I wouldn't define the term in as narrow a way as Mr. Moore is doing. Rather, I would note that the republican party is the big tent in which various groups of men of the right gather to form a consensus on how to advance the nation. In theory, every republican should like tax cuts. But that doesn't mean that prudential considerations should be misconstrued as heresy.


Tax Cut Hysteria

Whenever I need a good laugh, I just type in "tax cut" and "liberal" into my google webpage. Then I can read all the nonsense and hatred I want. But recently, a couple of economists had a debate on the merit of George W. Bush's tax cuts. For those unfamilar with macroeconomics, textbook macro theory states that during a recession governments, if they want to lessen the extent of a recession, should pursue countercyclical discretionary policy (ie cut taxes and increase spending.) This really isn't a partisan issue. JFK pursued the same policy during the 1960's. Rather, the point of contention among serious economists is how effective (justified?) The Bush Tax Cut was.

Noam Scheiber of The New Republic writes:

Liberals in Congress and at places like the Economic Policy Institute complain that the Bushies should have targeted the bulk of their tax cuts toward the working poor and middle class, who were more likely to spend their tax savings than more affluent beneficiaries were...

...[However] there is evidence that affluent people spend a higher proportion of their income than economic models have traditionally predicted. And, Democrats' complaints notwithstanding, the tax cuts provided plenty of stimulus when it counted. In all, according to Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley's chief global economist, the tax cut provided about 1.5 percentage points of economic growth last year (which amounts to about $150 billion in a $10 trillion economy)."

Arnold Kling, another economist, notes the following:"The complaint that the tax cuts went to "the wrong people" simply does not fit the macroeconomic facts."

But, as he later points out, this doesn't stop the partisan economists from having seizures. Brad Delong, a liberal economist who served under Clinton, said that
"A fiscal policy that redirected tax-cut-for-the-rich money to the states, that compressed the deficit and delivered more short-term stimulus, and that did target more tax cuts at the non-rich would have had no trouble delivering twice as much stimulus."

Arnold wants him to use some econometrics to back up his assertion. He should. But I think there are a few other points here that are worth pondering. Who exactly pays taxes? If we are going to actually meaningfully cut taxes, how do we go about doing it? Well the top 50% income earners pay 96.09% of all taxes (IRS). Any tax cut that is implemented is going to skew towards the rich because the rich pay almost all of the taxes. You cannot have a standard tax cut for lower income wage earners because they do not pay all of the taxes.

In order to implement Dr. Delong's policy, one would have to come up with some sort of redistribution plan, ie taking tax money from the rich and giving it to the poor. But this would most likely have to be temporary. But then temporary tax cuts do not have as strong an affect on output as permanent tax cuts. So what does Dr. Delong want to do, create a permanent redistribution program? Does he want to skew income taxes even more to the rich?? I hope not.

While in the short term this may be stimulative, it would have long run negative consequences I am not comfortable with (every recession we would be cutting taxes for the middle class. Eventually, what happens is only the rich pay taxes and it becomes impossible to cut taxes for the middle class anymore....kinda like what we have now). Rather, it is prudent to cut taxes across the board in order to mitigate this effect. To the extent that Bush has done this is the point I am most interested in.

All in all, I would give Bush a B on economic policy. I think the tax cut implemented was based off of both theory and prudence and was thust justified given the current climate. Dr. Delong would be more justified in criticizing Bush's spending priorities rather than his tax policies (NASA just had their Mars space probe hammer a rock yesterday, yeah thats not a waste of money)

Update-It occured to me that Delong may advocate something along the lines of a payroll tax cut, as poorer people tend to pay more in payroll taxes than rich people (its a regressive tax). After talking this over with a few people, I believe that in an ideal world Dr. Delong is right. The payroll tax may, on average, deliver more stimulus than an income tax cut. However, in order to implement this policy the payroll tax would have to be permanent because temporary tax cuts do not stimulate as much as permanent tax cuts. There may be an argument here for a permanent tax rate cut (such a payroll tax cut may force congress to start getting serious about future benefit grants in the social security system). But this is the third rail of American politics. If Bush were to argue for a permanent payroll tax cut, he would be bashed by both the left and the right for raiding social security. It would have been a political ticking time bomb.

Spanish elections

Wonderful, the socialists just took over power in Spain

The opening paragraph is the most scary: "The opposition Socialists scored a dramatic upset win in Spain's general election Sunday, un-seating conservatives stung by charges they provoked the Madrid terror bombings by supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq and making Spain a target for al-Qaida."

Sigh. The socialists are playing off of the fear of the Spanish people. Does this new ruling party really think it can run and hide from the fascists? I guess what they figure is that Al Queda will just continue on bombing us and killing our innocent citizens. So long as they are doing that, they can continue on in their socialistic fantasy land. What a great way to honor the brave souls who were unjustly murdered in Madrid! Horrible

The terrorists may be retaliating against the Iraq war and pulling out may stop another terrorist attack in the short term. But Spain cannot hide from this problem forever. One would think that Europe learned their lesson after WWII, where millions of lives could have been saved if the continent recognized evil when they saw it. This is a bad day for liberal democracy. A great ally of the United States has just elected a bunch of anachronistic Neanderthal's.

Update -Thanks to www.right-thinking.com for this passage:

"If only Spain had not supported the evil terrorist George W. Bush then the Islamic fascists would have left Spain completely unharmed. This is exactly the same drivel we heard from much of Australia after the Bali bombing. Come to think of it, we also heard if after the Istanbul bombings, and the Morocco bombings, and after just about every other terrorist bombing. There seems to be a pattern here: any action by al Qaeda is merely a reaction to the world's number one terrorist George W. Bush and racist hegemonic America. If only the peace loving nations of the world could show the Islamofascists that they are not their enemy, then none of these attacks would ever take place!

Winston Churchill once said, "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile -- hoping it will eat him last." Well in this case the crocodile is Islamic fascism, and it needs to be killed now before it gets any more hungry. "



Welcome to my new blog where I will be posting on everything from sports to politics to science. For those who do not know me, my name is Matt Festa and I am finishing up my last year at Loyola College in Maryland, where I study economics and mathematics. At Loyola, I write an opinion's column entitled "Festa's Rant" where I tend to stir up a bit of controversy. Since it is always prudent to tell people where you stand, here is what I am
Politically: conservative
Religion: Catholic
Sports: Baseball, New York Yankees (aka the evil empire)
Voting Record: Bush 2000