Archive:

April 2004, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Curing Diseases With Pig Worms:  It's after lunch, so I can link to this story, which is not for the squeamish.  As I have mentioned before, some scientists believe that we have become adapted to a certain level of internal parasites, and, without them, are subject to other diseases, such as Crohn's syndrome and ulcerative colitis.  The experiments have been so successful that a treatment is about to be tested in Europe.
Regular doses of worms really do rid people of inflammatory bowel disease.  The first trials of the treatment have been a success, and a drinkable concoction containing thousands of pig whipworm eggs could soon be launched in Europe.
. . .
The pig whipworm was chosen as it does not survive very long in people.
As I understand it, inflammatory bowel diseases do not currently have other cures, in general, so this may offer relief to thousands of people.
- 1:22 PM, 8 April 2004   [link]


Worth Reading:  This sober article by Andrew McCarthy on the intelligence mess.   McCarthy begins by dismissing the simple minded idea that our intelligence problems are caused by rivalries between the bureaucracies.  Most academic students of bureaucracies now recognize that some rivalry is healthy.  Our problems lie elsewhere, in the errors made after the Watergate scandal during the Carter administration.
But cataclysmic changes were ahead, and their harbinger was President Jimmy Carter's acquiescence in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  Here, for the first time, Congress and the courts undertook to regulate the gathering of national intelligence, particularly by electronic eavesdropping, against agents of hostile foreign powers.
. . .
The impact on intelligence collection was serious.  Previously, it would have been laughable to suggest that foreign enemy operatives had a right to conduct their perfidies in privacy—the Fourth Amendment prohibits only "unreasonable" searches, and there is nothing unreasonable about searching or recording people who threaten national security.  (The federal courts have often recognized that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.)  Now, such operatives became the beneficiaries of precisely such protection.
. . .
Gradually, courts rewrote FISA, grafting onto it a so-called "primary purpose" test requiring the government to establish not only probable cause that it was targeting operatives of a foreign power but also that its real reason for seeking surveillance was counterintelligence, not criminal prosecution.
It was this requirement that kept the FBI from searching the computer of Zacarias Moussaoui, the "20th hijacker", until it was too late.  And has blocked many other investigations of terrorists.

The problems were compounded by the Clinton administration.
The second nightmare for the CIA was President Clinton.  For the first President Bush, himself a former CIA director, intelligence had been a priority.  For Clinton, it was a nettlesome chore—and one he largely avoided.  Clinton had no time even for James Woolsey, his own chosen director of Central Intelligence, declining to hold a single one-on-one meeting during Woolsey's maddening two-year tenure.  This freeze-out had the predictable effects: agency morale plummeted, officers abandoned ship, and Congress's funding door slammed shut.

Human intelligence also fell into disrepair, having already fallen into disrepute.  It is worth considering that almost all the terrorism prosecutions of the 1990's took place after successful attacks.  We managed to stop exactly two such attacks: the 1994 Bojenka plot against the airliners, and a 1993 conspiracy to bomb New York City landmarks.  The former success was due to sheer luck (a fire, started by inept chemical mixing on the part of two terrorists, was detected by an alert Manila police officer), combined with a Pakistani informant who was induced to turn in the ringleader.  The latter happened because an informant penetrated the blind sheik's terror organization, recorded scores of conspiratorial conversations, and permitted agents to catch the plotters in flagrante delicto, stirring explosives.  Sadly, that informant had actually infiltrated the group in 1991 but had been deactivated seven months before the 1993 WTC bombing (after which he was reinstated).
A small airplane was crashed into the White House by a crackpot while Woolsey was CIA head.   A joke immediately went around Washington, D. C., that the pilot was Woolsey, trying to get a chance to talk to Clinton.  The joke doesn't seem nearly as funny in retrospect.

In my previous post, I mentioned the help that the 9/11 Commission is giving the terrorists, by revealing our intelligence to them.  The same is true of our court cases; by treating terrorists as criminals rather than enemy soldiers, we are required to reveal much of what we know about them.  McCarthy, who led the 1995 prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the organizer of the first attack on the World Trade Center), had to give the defense a list of 200 names of unindicted co-conspirators; within days, the list was in the hands of Osama bin Laden.

We are fighting a war, not confronting a criminal conspiracy.  The 9/11 attack, some say, changed everything.  It did for some, but far too many refuse to admit that we are in a war and should act appropriately if we want victory.
- 11:07 AM, 8 April 2004   [link]


From The Beginning, I was opposed to the 9/11 Commission, and everything I have seen since it was established strengthens my early belief that it would hinder the war on terror.  There was an unresolvable problem, obvious from the start, with intelligence.   To kill or capture terrorists, we have to know where they are and what they intend.   They understand that as well as we and make their plans accordingly.  For them, it is vital to know what we know about them.  Any open investigation had to reveal to the terrorists much of what we knew prior to 9/11 — giving them a great advantage in counteracting our efforts to find them.  There have already been reports that leaks from Congress about methods, published by thoughtless newspapers, or even broadcast, have shut down some of our best sources.  These hearings will provide another intelligence bonanza for the terrorists.

Doing an open investigation without a full discussion of intelligence might seem to be an alternative, but some thought will show you that the result would be dubious and unacceptable to many journalists.  A completely secret investigation by a small group of experts, with a few recommendations published, might be helpful, but that was never a possibility.

Instead, as Daniel Henninger observed in the Wall Street Journal, after the Clarke testimony:
From the moment the September 11 commission was authorized, the only important question was when it would propitiate the media gods.  That moment has arrived. We have finally reduced the entire story of September 11, as always, to heroes and villains, winners and losers.
We are staging a show ostensibly for some politically active relatives of the 9/11 victims, but actually for the TV cameras.  By now, such shows are so familiar that everyone knows their parts.  Representatives of the two parties will solemnly promise to do a non-partisan investigation while behind the scenes their staffers are looking for every possible advantage,   There will be dramatic scenes in which the winner will be the person who looks best, not the person who has told the truth.  When Oliver North testified in the Iran-Contra investigation, he won because he looked great, not because his conduct in the affair had anything about it to admire.

Those who watch the show will cheer for their party and boo their opponents.  This reaction to the first part of Condoleezza Rice's testimony today from "firstcavbrat" is revealing in more ways than one.
The PBS station I work for has it hearing on every TV set in the building.  The Libs here are going nuts.  I'm loving it.
No doubt that networks will sell some products, but we will pay a big price for that in the years ahead.

Finally, let me say something uncomfortable but true about the 9/11 families.  We can mourn for their loss, we can pay them generously — as we have done — but we must not let them set our national policy.  Being a victim or the relative of a victim does not make you an expert or a public official.

And not all of the relatives are admirable people, though they must be presented that way on television.  Recently, the father of a man who died in the 9/11 attack showed up to claim his share of the money.  A court awarded it to him, even though he had deserted his son almost immediately after the boy's birth and had not contacted him since.  (The court did force the man to repay back child support from the reward.)

Two weeks ago, in this post I predicted that Condoleezza Rice would win the public relations battle with Richard Clarke.  I still expect that to happen, but that won't make up for what this fiasco has cost the nation.
- 7:53 AM, 8 April 2004   [link]


Why Is The Firefighters Union Backing John Kerry?  For a very old-fashioned reason; he is promising them pork.
The senator, long a supporter of increased federal funding for fire services, promises IAFF and its comrades-in-arms a federal bonanza if he wins the election: grants to hire 100,000 more professional firefighters across the country, more funding for equipment and training, regulations that would make it easier for firefighters to qualify for disability, and extra money for local emergency planning.
Just two and a half paragraphs of the article are available free, but Howart Kurtz has more from it, in this column.
But hey, we can always use more firefighters, right?

Well, according to the Weekly Standard, the answer is, um, no.

Eli Lehrer, associate editor of American Enterprise magazine, makes these points:

From 1977 to 2002, the number of buildings on fire declined from 3.2 million to 1.6 million a year, and fire-related deaths fell from 7,400 to 3,400.
But we still have the same number of fire fighters, who in many areas are now mostly ambulance drivers.

Kerry's promises to the IAFF are great politics and terrible policy.

(Kurtz says that "Kerry's plan would boost the ranks of the 292,000 professional firefighters by a quarter."  Unless Kurtz left something out, that should be about one third, actually.)
- 8:20 AM, 7 April 2004   [link]


Did Richard Clarke Commit Perjury?  Maybe.  His testimony before the 9/11 Commission was so different from what he had told Congressmen and Senators in years before that the question deserves some attention.  And Clarke's explanation to the Commission for the differences, that he was working for the President earlier and naturally had to spin, does not inspire confidence in his honesty then or now.  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Porter Goss, has already said that perjury charges may be appropriate.  Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays has unresolved issues with Clarke, too.
Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism chief who contends the Bush administration was unprepared to deal with terrorism in the United States, told a House of Representatives panel in 2000 that it was "silly" to think the government could develop a comprehensive strategy to fight such threats.

He made those comments at a private House National Security subcommittee meeting, a 90-minute classified session on June 28 of that year.

According to unclassified staff notes from the meeting, Clarke said that instead of a coordinated strategy against terrorists, the White House had a policy of chasing what he called the "vermin du jour."  As the person in charge of counterterrorism in the Clinton White House, he said, he was confident that he knew where the threats were and had the tools to act accordingly.

Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Shays, R-Conn., the only member of Congress present, found such answers unsatisfactory. "He showed us a lot of contempt," Shays recalled Friday.
And never did answer the questions, even after a letter from Shays.  (This behavior is, to say the least, unusual for officials testifying before Congress.  Most consider it wise to at least appear to be trying to answer Congressional questions.)

Those familiar with Clarke's more recent testimony will note some small differences between what he said in 2000 and what he is saying now.

(Some background for those not familiar with the two Congressmen:  Goss is a respected moderate conservative who served in Army intelligence and worked for the CIA.  Shays is a moderate who strongly supports many reform measures.  He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.  Neither Goss nor Shays is an unthinking partisan.)
- 7:33 AM, 7 April 2004   [link]


Ralph Nader has always been something of a crackpot, or if you prefer, a bit eccentric.  In the past, most reporters ignored this because they sympathized with his attitudes and goals.  Now that he is running for president again, and may hurt the Democratic candidate, that's changed, as you can see in this Seattle Times article.   After noting that Nader had a small crowd, the reporter described Nader's speech, which included gems like these:
Nader said the nation should be self-reliant so, in the example Nader gave, Massachusetts could grow all the tomatoes it needs without imports from Mexico.

Even voice mail was condemned as a symbol of the corporate domination of America.
Nader must be familiar with Massachusetts winters, which make growing tomatoes there rather difficult for much of the year.  I am not a free trade purist, but I think that on the whole, we are better off with fewer barriers to trade.  That is especially true for agricultural products like winter tomatoes and other crops best grown in warmer parts of the world.   I wonder whether Nader thinks we should be self sufficient in bananas and coconuts, as well as tomatoes?  Or whether he cares about the peasant farmers whose livelihood he wants to destroy?

And when you start thinking that voicemail is a "symbol of coporate domination", it is time for you to get fitted for your tinfoil hat.

As those familiar with him would expect, Joel Connelly's reaction to Nader's visit was even more extreme.  Connelly does an entire column attacking Nader for causing problems for the Democratic party — without ever explaining why that's a bad thing.  Connelly's claim that the evidence is "irrefutable" that Nader cost Gore the election has already been refuted, here.   Probably Gore would have won without Nader in the race, but not certainly.

For years, journalists ignored Nader's crazy ideas on many subjects and helped build him up as a public figure.  I can't help but take a little pleasure seeing their aggravation, as they finally make some of the criticisms of Nader that they should have years ago.
- 6:54 AM, 7 April 2004   [link]


The Continuing Search For Moderate Muslims:  In this column, Joel Mowbray points out that one of the best known Muslim organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, had mixed feelings about the murder and mutilation of the American contractors in Falluja.
In a statement issued shortly after the gory murders, CAIR said that it "condemned the mutilation of those killed in Iraq on Wednesday."  The slaughter of these men was not "murder," though, it was merely a "killing."

Nowhere in the statement, in fact, did CAIR condemn the murder of the four Americans.

Nowhere in the statement did CAIR condemn setting on fire the cars the men were driving.

Nowhere in the statement did CAIR condemn the parading of the charred bodies through the street or the hanging of one of the headless corpses hanging from a bridge over the Euphrates River as the locals stoned it.

This is no mere oversight or simple semantic slip.  In the press release's second paragraph, CAIR explains, "The mutilations violated both Islamic and international norms of conduct during times of war."
The murder of men who were guarding a convoy bringing food to Iraqis was not wrong, from CAIR's point of view, only the mutilation of their bodies.

There are moderates among American Muslims.  It may even be that the majority of American Muslims fall into that category.  Those moderates that do speak out are threatened with violence by the extremists, just as they are in Europe, and in Muslim countries, for that matter.

CAIR claims to be "America's largest Islamic civil liberties group".  It is actually an apologist for Islamic terror everywhere, and completely indifferent to rights of non-Muslims, including the right to life.
- 4:05 PM, 6 April 2004   [link]


More On Our Fallible Intelligence:  This USA Today op-ed piece reminds us, again, just how fallible our intelligence has been — and always will be, in my opinion.
Intelligence is a murky business.  It is usually not possible to obtain incontrovertible evidence that a threat exists.  The CIA only can estimate based on given information what the nature of a threat might be.  In the past, the CIA repeatedly underestimated serious threats.
The CIA underestimated the Soviet nuclear program, missed the massive Soviet biological program almost completely, and underestimated by years how close Saddam was to a nuclear weapon in 1991.  Since the CIA had been wrong so many times, usually underestimating, I suspect that the Bush administration simply did not think hard about the possibility that they might miss in the opposite direction, as the CIA may have on Iraq.

(The piece illustrates, unintentionally, the difficulty of drawing conclusions from partial evidence,  Schweizer writes:
Secretary of State Colin Powell said last week that evidence he presented to the United Nations on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program was based, he was originally told, on solid intelligence.  But he admits now it may have been flawed.
Actually, as I learned listening to an interview with Powell, what he said was much more narrow.  He was asked about the trucks that were thought to be mobile biological weapons production facilities.  That is what our intelligence analysts thought then, but they now appear to have changed their minds on that one item.  Schweizer generalized wrongly, just as intelligence analysts often do.)
- 2:46 PM, 6 April 2004   [link]


Second Election Prediction:  A month ago, I made my first formal election prediction.  At that time, I predicted that George Bush would win re-election with 59 percent of the two party vote — given two assumptions:
First, my assumptions.  I am going to assume that the consensus among economists is correct and that the next 8 months will show solid economic growth and gains in employment.  I am also going to assume that there will not be anything dramatic like another massive terrorist attack on the United States or a war somewhere that involves the United States.  To some extent these two assumptions balance each other.  If the economy does not perform well, Bush will be hurt; if something dramatic happens, Bush will probably be helped.  (Almost all dramatic foreign events, even disasters like the Bay of Pigs invasion, help the president at least in the short term.)
So, my prediction is conditional.  I think the assumptions are probable, but not certain.  The latest gains in employment give me more reason to think that the first is correct.

Please note that I made the prediction when Bush was behind in the polls, though he now leads in most of them.

This month, I see no reason to change that prediction, and one additional reason to stick with it, the flurry of press reports that Kerry, or at least some on his staff, would like John McCain as their vice presidential candidate.  McCain is a moderate conservative; Kerry is a solid liberal, as their voting records show.  The biggest gaps between them are on foreign policy, where McCain has been, if anything, more conservative or hawkish than President Bush.  That people on Kerry's staff are considering such a mismatch, or say they are, makes me think that they agree with the general lines of my argument.  (Would putting McCain on the ticket work?  It seems unlikely.)

(As before, let me review some of the other predictions.  Ray Fair has not updated his economic model, so he is still predicting that Bush will win 58.7 percent of the two party vote, which is essentially the same as my prediction.  The Tradesports betters gave Bush a 63.7 percent chance of winning last time; when I checked this morning, they were giving him a 62.2 percent chance, just slightly lower.  Ron Faucheux of Campaigns and Elections has not changed his prediction, either and still gives Bush a 54.5 percent chance to win.  The options market run by the University of Iowa still has the worst odds for Bush; as of this morning, Kerry has a 47 percent chance to win.  Why the persistent difference between the Iowa results and the others?  I don't know, but it may be that the Iowa market attracts more academics, who are betting their feelings, rather than their analyses.

Finally, here's Scott Elliot's current election projection, which is not a prediction but a measurement of where we are currently. His latest puts Bush ahead in the electoral college, but behind in the popular vote.)
- 10:03 AM, 6 April 2004   [link]


School Yearbook Pictures often give the student's ambition next to the official picture.  In 2001, a British student, of Pakistani descent, expressed an unusual goal.
A TEENAGE bomb suspect still being quizzed by cops bragged of being the "next Osama Bin Laden" when he grew up.

Ahmed Khan, 18 — among nine Brits seized last week — declared his ambition in a 2001 school yearbook weeks before the 9/11 terror strikes.
To their credit, the other students, with British understatement, say they thought this ambition was "weird".

(Judging by the picture, Khan has not been deprived or oppressed, as the Patty Murray theory of terrorism would predict.)
- 8:49 AM, 6 April 2004   [link]


Cruel Leftist, Compassionate Conservative:  Leftist blogger Markos Zuniga has gotten much criticism for his sentiments about the murdered contractors in Falluja.  (If you haven't seen his "Screw them" post, it was saved here, along with many follow-ups.)   I don't have anything special to add to what so many others have said on the subject, but I was struck by the contrast between his attitude and the attitude of a compassionate conservative.
The photos are horrific.  The most recent shows children in Fallujah, Iraq, dancing gleefully while teen-agers tear at the immolated bodies of four murdered American aid workers.   In another set, circulated earlier this week by The Associated Press, 16-year-old Hussam Abdo, a Palestinian youth, is shown at an Israeli military checkpoint in Nablus.  The youth's hands are atop his head.  Around his torso is a vest containing 18 pounds of high-powered explosives.   The child isn't simply transporting the bomb, he is the bomb.  Young Abdo is the fourth Palestinian child rigged with explosives to be detected by Israeli soldiers and police in the past week.  The youngest was just 11.
This compassionate conservative has an answer for this problem, too, schools that teach decent values and academics, rather than hate.  And who has this compassionate attitude toward these terrible children?  Oliver North.  Read his whole column and learn something of what American troops are doing to provide schools in Iraq, and what you can do to help.
- 2:10 PM, 5 April 2004   [link]


Sometimes The Seattle PI is so biased it's funny.  The top story in almost every American newspaper last Saturday was the big job gain in March.  Where did the PI put it?  They hid it on page D6, the back page of the business section.   Does the PI want to be a joke?  It sometimes appears so.
- 8:50 AM, 5 April 2004   [link]


Quiet Objectors To Racial Preferences:  If you believe that race should not matter in admissions to academic institutions, you may not want to say so publicly, for all the obvious reasons.  Although it is the majority position in the United States, the left is quick to call anyone holding the traditional civil rights position, insensitive at best and racist at worst.  So, many judge it best to keep quiet about their views.   But they protest in other ways and their protest is growing.  
Officials of the New York-based College Board, which owns the SAT, acknowledged the sharp growth in what they call "non-responders."  More than 355,000 of the 1.4 million high school seniors who took the test in 2003 failed to provide their ethnicity in registering for the SAT.
One in four test takers has joined this silent protest.  There's no leader or movement to inspire them (with the possible exception of Ward Connelly in California), no publicity, just thousands of high school seniors deciding to do what they think is right.

I have been doing this for years myself, when I thought I could get away with it.  When I encounter the race question, I check "other" and add "American" in the blank.  I don't advise doing it everywhere, since it can cause serious bureaucratic problems for you in some organizations.  Some years ago, the Communications of the ACM, a professional journal for computer scientists, had an account from a man who had been making this protest for years.  It caused him problems more than once, especially when he needed a security clearance, strangely enough.

(The Post article ignores entirely the students making these protests, mainly discussing the problems it is causing for researchers, who will have to find other data or more clever ways of analyzing the SATs.  They do admit that this protest is making it difficult for colleges and universities to discriminate on race, although of course they don't put it that way.)
- 6:22 AM, 5 April 2004   [link]


Daylight Saving Time:  Which meant that I had to adjust the clocks.  Every time I do that I am struck by how much more work it is to change the digital clocks than my one analog clock.  To change the time on the analog clock, I find the knob on the back, push it in and rotate it until it is at the right time.

The clocks on the oven and the microwave are not too bad, now that I have done them a couple of times.  But the cheap Timex wrist watch I use requires me, each time, to take out the directions, look at the diagrams, study the details in the tiny print, and then press tiny and very stiff buttons over and over.  By the time I have finished, I am infuriated with the designers, so much so that the last time I looked for a cheap watch, I looked hard for one that was not too difficult to set.

I didn't find one, so I will offer my own ideas on the subject.  If, by some amazing chance, a watch company uses them, I'd appreciate a free watch.  The key idea is to use a control for setting the time that simulates an analog device.  A knob large enough to turn would not look right on small watches so I suggest, instead, a slot that can be turned with a screwdriver or common coin.  To change time on the watch, you would press a mode button on the front, which would display a message, or blink, or something similar, and then turn the slot on the back, clockwise for forward, counterclockwise for back.  Twisting it harder would make the changes faster, and twisting it more softly would make them slower.  Press the mode button one more time to end the operation.  (Or a few more times, if the watch has many modes.)  Adding a knob with a similar function to the stove and microwave would improve them, too.

Finally, credit where due.  As most of you know, Microsoft Windows, as least in recent versions, will take care of that for you.  For some reason, though, it does not post a message saying it has done so, though I seem to recall getting one the first time that happened.
- 9:47 AM, 4 April 2004   [link]


Depriving Minorities:  The new liberal radio network, Air America (with the same name, as many noted, as a CIA operation in Southeast Asia some years ago), needed radio stations in urban areas.  They did not have unlimited funds so they bought smaller stations in those markets.  A very sensible business decision.   Except that, in urban areas, those stations tend to cater to minority groups that are strong supporters of the Democratic party.  In New York, for example, Air America killed a station that had been serving Caribbean blacks.
A few miles north, black hearts were breaking at the sound of this proud parade of white liberals.  Air America is still finding placement on stations across the country, but in New York it is leasing the time for its 19-hour broadcast day on WLIB-AM 1190, which was until this week a pillar of the black community. For three decades, the station had broadcast a mix of talk radio, funky music and news reports on local and Caribbean issues.
The fans of the station are protesting and threatening boycotts and lawsuits.  And they see one of the villians as the Democratic party, even though it has no official links to Air America.  The other stations they purchased had similar audiences, and will likely cause similar hurt.

The network seems like a dubious idea to me.  For one thing, it competes with the current liberal network, National Public Radio.  Yesterday, while listening to the Seattle NPR station, KUOW, I could hear their worry about the competition.  Naturally they deny officially that they are a liberal network; sometimes the denials are almost comical.   For instance, on one program yesterday, "Rewind", I heard the host (a leftist) list his guests (all on the left), and then take calls.  A single moderate (and somewhat confused) Republican called during the broadcast, but every other caller was on the left.  As far as I can determine, the station does not have a single Republican on its editorial staff.   Or even a moderate Democrat.

There is another reason the network is a dubious idea; most listeners do not choose networks, but programs.  Their best strategy would have been to develop programs that people on the left wanted to listen to, and then syndicate them.  If their audiences were large enough, there would be no problem about getting them on other stations.  In other words, they should try to imitate Rush Limbaugh, not Fox News.
- 8:03 AM, 4 April 2004
More:  Byron York has the facts on the new network.  There are four other stations besides WLIB so far.  The two in Chicago and Los Angeles were Spanish language; all of them had tiny audiences.
- 9:06 AM, 6 April 2004   [link]


More French Than The French:  Partisan Seattle PI columnist Joel Connelly uses the French to attack President Bush, with the help of "travel entrepreneur" Rick Steves.
During more than 30 years of traveling, writing and filming TV shows in Europe, Rick Steves has never found feelings toward an American government so hostile as today's attitudes about the Bush administration.
. . .
"In two years, however, America has become a rogue nation," Steves said. "It has been an astounding descent."
Why the change?  Part of it, in Steves' view, is the vast unpopularity in most of Europe of the Iraq invasion.  One exception he cites is Poland, whose experience with Nazi Germany produced sympathy for a pre-emptive strike against Saddam Hussein.
. . .
"The hypocrisy of American foreign policy is easier for Americans to overlook than for the victims of that foreign policy to overlook," he observed.
. . .
One case in point: Last year, Western Europe sweltered through a record heat wave.  Lots of people in the Old World live in tiny apartments without air conditioning.  Thousands of elderly people in France died.

"In Europe, they're disgusted that this country has stopped progress on a global approach to global warming," Steves said.  "We are the world's one superpower, and we are the one country dragging the process down."
I have to give Connelly some credit here for that nasty bit of writing.  He has just told you that President Bush was responsible for thousands of deaths in France, or at least that the French think so, without citing a single bit of evidence that can be traced to any named French citizen.  He doesn't say that, and Steves doesn't quite say that, but we are left thinking that the French all believe that — as no doubt some do.  Clever and completely unfair.

But are any of these accusations true?  Not even a bit.  Let's go through the entire implied argument in some detail, since it is a common argument, and nearly all of it is false.  When the Kyoto agreement was signed in 1997, two things were immediately clear; it would do almost nothing to stop global warming, and it would cripple the United States economy.  (Because the subject comes up so often, I have added a standard disclaimer on global warming, which you can read here, explaining my own ideas on the subject.)

Bjorn Lomborg, author of the The Skeptical Environmentalist gives an estimate, from a computer model, that shows just how little Kyoto would do to stop global warming.
It is perhaps worth noting that the Kyoto reductions in the Nordhaus and Boyer model will cause a surprisingly small reduction in temperature (0.03 degrees C) in 2100, partly because the developing countries will increase their CO2 emissions compared to the business-as-usual model. (p. 309)
Perhaps.  Surprisingly small.  The Danes, or at least Lomborg, have a taste for understatement, I would say.

The United States Senate may not be up on computer models, but they did understand the damage Kyoto would cause to the American economy.  In a 95-0 vote, they requested that the Clinton administration not even send the treaty to the Senate for ratification.  (Clinton took the hint.)  The great fault in the treaty was that it would not apply to the developing countries, especially China and India.  This explains why it would have little effect and partly why it would damage the United States economy, since we would have costs that many of our competitors would not.

After this fiasco, negotiators attempted to revise Kyoto so that it could get at least one vote in the United States Senate.  Which nation torpedoed those efforts?   France.
The Kyoto treaty was killed in November 2000, during the dying days of the Clinton-Gore administration.  We didn't notice in the United States because something else was going on at that time.  This is also why we didn't notice that it wasn't the Americans who killed it.   It was the Europeans, most prominently (surprise, surprise) the French.
. . .
The various sides in the argument came together in November 2000 at The Hague in the Netherlands to sort out their differences.  Frank Loy, the chief negotiator for the Clinton-Gore team, acted swiftly to try to compromise.  He dropped the previous American stance of demanding that developing nations commit themselves to "meaningful" involvement in the Kyoto process.  He told the conference, "It's time now that we commit ourselves to a pragmatic, not a dogmatic approach.  We're past the time for rhetoric - we need give and take.  The U.S. has shown flexibility."

But as the U.S. position softened, and the United Kingdom - true believers in the Kyoto process - tried to broker a deal, the position of "Old Europe" hardened.  French President Jacques Chirac in particular took up a radical stance, telling delegates "France proposes that we set as our ultimate objective the convergence of per capita emissions."  This idea is based on the theory that everyone in the world should have the right to emit carbon in equal amounts - so requiring a vast decrease in the amount emitted by industrialized nations and a massive increase in the amount emitted by the Third World.  Chirac admitted that Kyoto therefore represented "the first component of an authentic global governance."
The Blair government, which had tried hard for a compromise, blamed the Europeans, as did the some environmental groups at the time.

All this happened, please note, before President Bush was even inaugurated.  If you think Kyoto is a great thing, you should complain to President Chirac, not President Bush.

Now what about those French deaths?  Again, Iain Murray has the answer.  The United States had similar episodes in the past.
Across the United States, annual excess mortality from heat-related deaths has decreased by around 80 percent since the 1960s, despite an apparent increase in average temperature.

[Bob] Davies and [Wendy] Novicoff attribute this decrease to sociological and physiological adaptations.  In other words, we've gotten used to hotter weather while at the same time have mitigated its worst aspects by improving access to air conditioning, better health care and proactive community response and warning measures.
And the true lesson of the French deaths?
In many ways, therefore, the French disaster was needless.  By learning from the way America reacted in the past to the problem of heat-related excess mortality, France could have avoided its current problems.
If the French were less anti-American, they might have learned from our experience.  The simplest measures, such as asking relatives, neighbors, and police, and postmen to check on elderly people during heat waves, have had great effects in the United States.  They could have similar effects in France as well.

Now then, it is worth asking why so many, especially in France, are so misinformed about Kyoto and President Bush.  The answer to that is simple.  Because their leaders and their media have lied to them.  The lies on another matter, the course of the war to liberate Iraq, were so bad that a journalist for a French publication wrote a book about it exposing the errors.  He was fired and neither his cause nor his book have received much attention in France.

There is a larger point worth some comment.  Connelly and Steves want you to think that, since many in France (population approximately 60 million) do not like President Bush, we should replace him.  But many in the United States (population approximately 290 million) don't like President Chirac.  Should the French, by the same reasoning, replace Chirac?   (I think they should, but because he is a corrupt failure, not because we dislike him.)  If you look through Connelly's column, you will not find a single thing to suggest that Chirac may be at fault for the problems between the two nations.  Those who have read Connelly for a time will know that he would take an entirely different position if President Bush were a Democrat.  Then, any similar troubles would be the fault of the foreign leader, not our president.

Finally, the rather arrogant stance taken by Steves and Connelly lead me to make some mischievous suggestions.  Both are sure that global warming is occurring and that it is mostly the fault of the United States.  Therefore, as American citizens, they should take actions to reduce it, rather than wait for the (unlikely) coming of President Kerry.  (Who voted against Kyoto along with 94 other Senators, but now favors it.)  We need, Steves and Connelly believe, to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.  If we agree with them, there is a practical step we can take immediately, banning tourist travel to Europe.  No more trips to Europe for Mr. Connelly (and he'll have to move to an efficiency apartment in Seattle, as well).   Mr. Steves will have to close his business, except possibly for writing a book titled "How Tourism Is Destroying the Planet", or something similar.  I'll pass these modest suggestions on to the two gentlemen, and I am sure that they will follow the logic of their own arguments immediately.

(Connelly and Steves are not much as climatologists, public health officers, or students of foreign policy, as I discussed above.  They are not much as public opinion researchers, either.   Both claim that Europeans like Americans and dislike President Bush.  In fact, as the latest Pew report showed, there are millions of Europeans who like President Bush, and even more millions who dislike Americans in general.  (Forty-three percent of the French admit to having a somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of Americans.)

Steves says he has not heard from such people and he may be telling the truth.  Those in the tourist trade are unlikely to tell some of their best customers that they dislike them, a point that seems to have eluded Steves.  And, as far as that goes, it seems likely that the French who dislike Americans would be less interested in careers where they would often be in contact with us.)

- 2:37 PM, 3 April 2004
Oops!  I wrote "undeveloped", when I meant "developing".  I have changed it above.
- 9:20 AM, 4 April 2004   [link]


Beneath Contempt:  This short note from the American Thinker pointed me to an outrageous story by Dan Rather and CBS on American contract employees killed in Iraq.
"The long job slump," in George Bush's America, "has left many Americans desperate enough to risk everything for a decent paycheck," CBS's Dan Rather suggested Wednesday night. So, that is driving people to "risk death in Iraq" by accepting dangerous civilian jobs over there where some end up paying "the ultimate price."

That man who was killed opposed Bush's war with Iraq, reporter Bob McNamara emphasized as he asked the widow: "Was he for this war?"  McNamara insisted that the man's "desperation for work" led him to take the job in Iraq, but he was from Delaware where the unemployment rate is well below the national average.
The unemployment rate in Delaware is currently 3.4 percent.

What about the four contractors so brutally killed in Falluja?  Were they desperate for work?  Not if this New York Times story about the men is telling the truth.  Scott Helvenston was a stuntman and fitness trainer who had helped trained stars like Demi Moore, and had his own parts on television programs.   Jerry Zovko, according to this story, went to Iraq for the best of motives.
Jerry Zovko, an Army veteran and bodyguard and one of the four American civilians killed in Iraq on Wednesday, went to Iraq, because he wanted "to make it a better place," his brother said.   "He was trying to stop something like this from happening to somebody else."
No doubt the hundreds of American contract employees in Iraq have all sorts of motives.   But to imply, as CBS did, that all of them are there because they are desperate for work — on the day the news came from Falluja — is, as the American Thinker says, beneath contempt.  CBS has every right to oppose President Bush and the efforts to liberate Iraq.  But they should not slur these brave and idealistic men, who no longer can defend themselves.
- 7:37 AM, 3 April 2004
More:  Here's a protest to Dan Rather from a man who has served our country as an army officer — and as a civilian contractor in some very dangerous places.
- 7:41 AM, 5 April 2004   [link]


Suppose You Were At A Meeting where others proposed assassinating United States Senators.  Would you remember that, even if it was a few decades ago?   I think most of us would, but John Kerry does not remember.   Or says he does not, anyway.  Through a spokesman.
Senator John F. Kerry said through a spokesman this week that he has no recollection of attending a November 1971 meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War at which some activists discussed a plot to kill some US senators who backed the war.

"Senator Kerry does not remember attending the Kansas City meeting," Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said in a statement to the Globe in response to written questions about the matter. "Kerry does not remember any discussions that you referred to," the statement added, referring to the assassination plot.
Earlier Kerry was claiming that he had not even attended the meeting, but now is backing away from that after "historian Gerald Nicosia said he had found an FBI document that he said indicated that Kerry was there".  (Kudos to the Boston Globe, a pro-Kerry newspaper, for following this story.)
- 4:06 PM, 2 April 2004   [link]


Dominique de Villepin Is Out:  The French foreign minister, who did so much damage to relations between the United States and France, has been moved to the Interior Ministry.  This account from Le Monde describes some of the difficulties he caused, but never explains why Colin Powell was so angry with de Villepin.  Instead the writer attributes their disagreements to different styles as well as the quarrel over Iraq.  Is the writer really this ignorant?  Or does Le Monde not wish its readers to know what is common knowledge on this side of the Atlantic?

Colin Powell was angered by de Villepin, not just because of the disagreement over policy, but because de Villepin blindsided him, as Kenneth Timmerman explains in this excerpt from his book, The French Betrayal of America.
After a special session of the Security Council devoted to the war on terror, held at de Villepin's personal request, Powell had driven over to the French U.N. ambassador's official Park Avenue residence, where de Villepin was to host him to an exclusive lunch.

Instead, de Villepin stayed behind at the U.N. and announced to the world that France would never support a U.S.-led military intervention against Saddam Hussein.
. . .
Just the evening before, over a private dinner at the Waldorf Astoria, the two men had discussed possible wording the French government could accept in a new U.N. resolution (the 18th, in fact) that would authorize the use of force against Iraq.  Powell would say later that he had thought they were close to an agreement.  Diplomats at the U.N. were actually laying bets - at 100-to-1 odds - that the U.S. would get the votes for the resolution.  None of them was prepared for what the Frenchman said next.

"If war is the only means of resolving the problem, then we have reached a dead end," de Villepin said.  "A unilateral military intervention will be the victory of might makes right, an attack on the primacy of international law and morality."  The U.N. should wait until the U.N. inspectors made their next report, scheduled for January 27, before deciding on any further action, he said.  At that point, "Iraq must understand that it is time for it to cooperate actively."
In short, de Villepin deceived Powell about his plans.  Why?  It is hard to say, since there is nothing more likely to offend the Bush administration permanently.

Moving de Villepin to a different job won't help the French much, though it will remove one irritant.  Why not?  Because Chirac deceived Bush at the same time de Villepin was deceiving Powell.
There was good reason for the Bush administration's confidence, as I can reveal here for the first time.  Until Jan. 20, I learned in interviews with a half-dozen administration officials directly involved in the negotiations, the French had gone out of their way privately to assure the president, the secretary of state and U.S. diplomats working the issue that they backed the U.S. in the showdown with Saddam, even if it included the use of force.
. . .
In early December, he [Chirac] sent a top French military official to CENTCOM [United States Central Command] headquarters in Tampa, Fla., to negotiate the specifics of the French participation in the war.

"Chirac personally told the president he would be with us," one senior U.S. administration official told me.  "We didn't know until the ambush that France would not go to war with us.   We thought they might complain, or abstain, or not vote - but not that they would actually veto."   Added another, who was privy to the Oval Office conversation, "Chirac's assurances are what gave the president the confidence to keep sending Colin Powell back to the U.N.  They also explain why the administration has been going after the French so aggressively ever since. They lied."
President Bush is often blamed for the break between France and the United States, and the loss of public support in Europe that followed.  All the blame for the break, and much of the blame for the loss of public support belongs on the other side of the Atlantic.
- 1:16 PM, 2 April 2004   [link]


If You Are Feeling More In the Mood for April Fool jokes today, you'll want to look at this collection of the top 100, as collected by the Museum of Hoaxes web site.  The BBC was more fun when it was doing stories on the failure of the Swiss spaghetti harvest.
- 7:54 AM, 2 April 2004   [link]


The Latest Job Report looks very good.
U.S. employment rose last month at the fastest pace in nearly four years as hiring increased across a wide array of industries, the government said on Friday in a report that stunned financial markets.
. . .
Non-farm payrolls climbed 308,000 in March, helped a bit by the return of workers after a labor dispute at California grocery stores ended, the Labor Department said.  This was the biggest gain since April 2000 and well above the 103,000 rise expected on Wall Street.
. . .
January and February payrolls were revised upward a combined 87,000, contributing to the report's positive tone.
This gives me more confidence in the prediction that I made at the beginning of last month, that President Bush would be re-elected with 59 percent of the two party vote.  (I'll have an updated prediction out next week.)

The revisions to the January and February figures should remind us just how lousy the preliminary figures often are.  Robert Musil reminds us just how wrong the numbers were 1992.
But it's worth noting that after that election, the revised 1992 employment numbers were better than had been thought.  Payroll employment was initially reported to have risen only 423,000 during 1992, - but that number was later revised to 1,157,000.  That made for an average of 96,417 per month during 1992 - in contrast to the average 35,250 per month thought to be the case while the campaign was being waged.
The coverage of economic issues that year was almost relentlessly negative.  Some journalists even speculated that the Bush team was cooking the numbers to make them look better, when, as we now know, the statisticians were erring on the other side.

Prediction: Paul Krugman, the almost pathologically anti-Bush columnist at the New York Times, will soon write a column accusing the Bush administration of cooking the job numbers.  And he won't be the only one to make that accusation.
- 7:40 AM, 2 April 2004   [link]


Thanks To All who visited last month.  You set a new record for this site.  Although the numbers are still modest, they have been growing steadily, helped along from time to time by a link from the Instapundit or other better known blogger.   If traffic continues to grow, I'll think about looking for ads to pay for some upgrades, like adding comments.  If you have any other suggestions, let me know.

One of the pleasures of running the site, as I have said before, is the visits that I get from countries all around the world.  The map below shows those countries in red.



Roughly in order of the number of visits, the countries are: United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, Singapore, Belgium, New Zealand, Austria, Thailand, Greece, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Brazil, Poland, Taiwan, Finland, Slovakia, Spain, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Ireland, Estonia, South Africa, Czech Republic, China, Portugal, Argentina, Turkey, Philippines, Lithuania, Iceland, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Croatia, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Romania, Cyprus, Indonesia, Chile, Ukraine, Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan, Qatar, Malta, India, Brunei Darussalam, Virgin Islands (USA), Bahamas, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Slovenia, Vanuatu, Bulgaria, Peru, Tonga, Tuvalu, Armenia, Bermuda, Cuba, Togo, Andorra, Uruguay, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Faroe Islands, Guadeloupe, Former USSR, Cayman Islands, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic), Samoa, Venezuela, Guatemala, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Niue. (There's one puzzle in the list, which came from my internet provider, the "Former USSR".  I'm really not sure where that might be.   Old internet addresses in what is now Russia, perhaps?)

The map was generated at this entertaining site, which lets you make your own map of the countries that you have visited.  Or, in this case, the countries that have visited me.
- 6:36 PM, 1 April 2004   [link]


The "French Looking" John Kerry:  For months, the Republicans have been teasing John Kerry about being "French looking".  It is easy to understand why they have been doing that; recently Americans have not thought much of the French.  In fact, a French consultant, Clotaire Rapaille, has argued that Kerry is making a mistake — as an American politician — by appearing too French.  The Economist magazine agrees, and sees John Kerry as appearing, if not French, at least European.

And it is not just a matter of appearances.  You probably already know that his father was a diplomat who served in Europe, that he went to a Swiss finishing school, and that he vacationed regularly in Brittany.  He is more European, even more French, than almost all other American politicians.

All this creates an obvious problem for Kerry; being European or French will appeal to some narrow constituencies in the United States, the editorial board of the New York Times, the Yale faculty, and similar groups, but it does not appeal, especially now, to most American voters.

Recognition of this problem has even crossed the Atlantic.  Senator Kerry's relatives in France are backing him strongly, while mostly denying that he is even a little bit French.
John Kerry's relatives in France bristle at jabs from across the Atlantic that the presidential contender has a French connection.

They say Kerry has no link to France other than the home his grandparents bought here. "John Kerry is incredibly American," says Brice Lalonde, Kerry's cousin and mayor of this seaside village in Brittany. "He has absolutely nothing French about him."
But they love him anyway, and have Kerry bumper stickers on their cars to prove it.  LaLonde is Kerry's relative, so perhaps we should not be too hard on him, though the mayor did inspire me to look up the French word for liar.  It's "menteur".  Other Kerry relatives are more honest.
"Monsieur Bush is angry with France," says Ian Forbes, 85, a Kerry uncle who lives at Les Essarts.  "We don't want to accentuate the connection between Johnny and France."
Too late for that.  Senator Kerry wants to be known as John F. Kerry.  By the end of the campaign, many Americans are going to think the "F." stands for French.
- 1:56 PM, 1 April 2004   [link]


Strange Indicators:  I am not much in the mood for April Fool's jokes today, but I like weird indicators in presidential races so much that I'll pass along this bunch from Richard Whalen.   Three of the "rules" he describes have a plausible reasons behind them, in my opinion.  The rest are best discussed on April 1st.

(Whalen makes a common error when he says that "Bush is the first president since Benjamin Harrison, in 1888, to win the presidency despite losing the popular vote".  Actually, John Kennedy also probably lost the popular vote, as I explained here.)
- 1:12 PM, 1 April 2004   [link]


Some Americans Back The Terrorists:  They aren't for peace; they are on the other side.  For an example, listen to the audio at the March 22 entry on Roger Hedgecock's site.  A young woman, going by the name of Rebecca, made it quite clear in a speech to a "peace" demonstration in San Diego that she was an ally of the Iraqi terrorists, at least in spirit.  She was not a single individual, but spoke as the representative of a college group, the University of California at San Diego's chapter of the International Socialist Organization.

From much experience, I suspect that this shocking speech was not covered by the San Diego TV stations or newspapers.

(Kudos to "Citizen Smash" for making the recording.)
- 9:46 AM, 1 April 2004   [link]


Journalists And Terrorists:  Nearly always terrorists can not hope to overthrow governments by themselves.  They have far too little physical strength in comparison to the governments they face.  That is, as everyone knows, especially true of the conflict between the United States and Islamic extremists.  They understand it and we understand it.  So their attacks on us are psychological, intended to weaken our will, not to defeat our forces.  To understand the ghastly attack in Falluja and to plan our reply, we must always keep that central fact in mind.

What the terrorists staged — and it was staged — was a repeat of one of their most successful operations, the 1993 attack on our Rangers in Somalia.  DEBKAFile quotes unnamed intelligence experts arguing that the attack was staged as part of a series of psychological blows, but you don't need to be an intelligence expert to come to the same conclusion.  The cast of this show was not large.  Falluja is a city with a population of about 300,000, and the reports I have seen say that the mob consisted of no more than 150-200 men and boys.  Some of the bit players may have spoken spontaneously, but others had their lines prepared.  It was no accident that they had signs in English, or that boys were used to deliver some of the most evil statements.

To stage this kind of show, you need television cameras.  Those planning the show needed the cooperation of a news agency, preferably a Western news agency.  They selected the Agence France-Presse and Reuters, both sympathetic to terrorists.  You may recall that AFP filmed an unsuccessful attack on a transport airplane last year.  And Reuters is almost unable to to call terrorists by that name, now matter how evil their deeds.  How much AFP and Reuters knew about the operation they were invited to witness is uncertain; that they knew they were being invited to film a crime is almost certain.

I am planning to send a letter to President Bush asking for an investigation of the complicity of AFP and Reuters in these attacks.  I have found the name and address of an AFP representative here in the United States and will send a protest to him:

Philippe Debeusscher (White House Correspondent)
Email: philippe.debeusscher@afp.com
Phone: (202) 414-0577
Fax: (202) 414-0635
Address: 1015 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Later today, I hope to find a Reuters representative, as well.

Meanwhile, what about our response in Falluja?  I think our best strategy, though not psychologically satisfying, is to treat this as a common crime, rather than as a brutal act of war or even terror.  We should describe the perpetrators as criminals and, if possible, have them tried by Iraqis in Iraqi courts.  We should avoid any collective punishment of Falluja, despite the disgusting scenes.  The terrorists believe in collective responsibility and use it to justify attacks on civilians.  We should not fall into the trap of doing the same.
- 9:09 AM, 1 April 2004   [link]