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From the presidential campaign down to every contest for Congress, one of the hottest political questions this fall will be: Is America safer because of its decision to go to war with Iraq?

I put the question this week to former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, the conservative candidate in the primary campaign to determine which Republican will oppose Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in the fall. Kaloogian answered resoundingly in the affirmative, but not for some of the reasons you might imagine. His rationale had nothing to do with the existence or absence of weapons of mass destruction, whether Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat, or whether his regime had been harboring terrorist cells. Kaloogian's response was much more direct:

"I'd rather have the terrorists going to Iraq in order to fight our Army rather than coming to America to kill our citizens... They're going to do one or the other."

In light of the guerilla-style attacks on American troops and car bombings directed at Iraqis supportive of the U.S.-backed coalition government, I asked whether that view might be construed as less than sympathetic to the American troops in Iraq.

"God bless 'em. They volunteered for service and they do a phenomenal job and they ought to be supported and provided with the training and the machinery and the technology to do the job that they have volunteered to do."

95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at