July 2005, Part 3
Jim Miller on Politics
Britain Tries to get the UN to define and condemn terrorism.
British diplomats are putting heavy pressure on the United Nations finally to make good its promise to devise an unequivocal definition and condemnation of terrorism.Which leads me to wonder: If the UN does come up with an unequivocal definition of terrorism, will the BBC accept it? Probably not.
- 10:27 AM, 24 July 2005 [link]
Muslims In Britain, Again: In December 2002, the Telegraph commissioned a poll of Muslims living in Britain and came to some unpleasant conclusions, which I discussed here and here. Here are the bullet points from those two posts:
There's more in the current poll and not all of it bad. For example, three out of four British Muslims say that they would tip off the police to a terrorist attack. (Whether they actually would, of course, is another question.)
But on the whole we should find these results worrying. A very large fraction of British Muslims reject British society so strongly that they believe violence is justified in order to force changes. And young Muslims are more likely to reject British society than older Muslims, so the problem is likely to grow.
Why do so many Muslims reject British society? These differences may hint at part of the explanation.
The proportion of men who say they feel no loyalty to Britain is more than three times the proportion of women saying the same.It is no secret that radical Islamists reject Western ideas of sexual equality, or that many young Muslim men are powerfully influenced by that rejection. It may be relevant that the man now thought to be the leader of the four bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan, worked as a teaching assistant to a woman teacher in a school in which the head teacher was also a woman.
The two polls had, as I said, only one question in common. But there is enough similarity in the answers so that I would say that this hostility to Britain by a large fraction of British Muslims is fairly stable.
For what it is worth, the hostility does not seem to have increased because of the Iraq war; if anything, it seems to be slightly lower now than it was in December 2002, before the war began. Remember that the next time you see someone argue that the war alienated Muslims. I have no doubt that many Muslims were angered when the war began, but it seems to have had little permanent effect on Muslim opinions, even in Britain. (Although I do wish that YouGov had asked more questions that allowed direct comparisons.)
And I have one final conclusion that those on the American left should think about carefully: American leftists often see European welfare states with advanced social policies as the ideal toward which the United States should move. But it appears to be those very welfare states, with their advanced social policies, that many Muslims in Britain reject, some of them violently. Those young Muslims have mostly grown up in a European welfare state — and a significant number of them hate it.
(Mildly technical point: All this analysis assumes that the respondents were telling the truth. I think it certain that some of those who are, for example, actually disloyal, did not tell the interviewers that out of fear, or just in order to not offend them. How much that affected the results is hard to say, without considerably more data. If forced to guess, I would say that, if we could get truthful answers from all the respondents, the disloyal category would increase to at least 20 percent and possibly 25 or even 33 percent.)
- 4:20 PM, 23 July 2005 [link]
Most Of The Victims In Egypt Were Muslims: Probably. They are still finding bodies, so we can not be certain, but that seems likely. "Big Pharaoh" says that most of the victims were Egyptiams and although Egypt has a significant Christian minority (11 percent, my almanac says), there were also tourists there from other Muslim countries. I wouldn't be surprised if most of those killed were low level hotel employees, clerks, waiters, and the like, trying to make a modest living in the tourist business.
But then most of the victims of Muslim violence over the last twenty years have been Muslims (with the possible exception of the Sudan). That doesn't seem to bother many of the terrorists, as far as I can tell.
And the now familiar simultaneous bomb attacks remind us that these attackers are too weak to directly challenge even governments like that of Egypt. Instead, they have to use — and please forgive me this phrase — publicity stunts in order to gain the attention of the media. That is not much comfort, but it may be some.
- 1:17 PM, 23 July 2005 [link]
Mountain Blogging: Last Sunday was exceptionally clear at Mt. Rainier, so clear I could see Mt. Hood, 100 miles away in Oregon. Of course it helps that, at 11,240 feet high, Mt. Hood is the highest point in Oregon.
The mountains in the foreground are part of the Tatoosh range, and are much older than Mt. Rainier. Mt. Hood, I just learned, is not a national park like Rainier. Instead, the central part is a wilderness area and the rest belongs to the Forest Service — which is part of the Department of Agriculture. That's why Hood, unlike Rainier, can have a commercial skiing site.
- 4:44 PM, 22 July 2005 [link]
Backing Up Isn't That Hard To Do: Glenn Fleishman explains why you should back up your hard drive, and the basics of how to do it.
My cousin Steven Cristol should enter the lottery: he's already beaten seemingly impossible odds by enduring "seven mechanical hard drive failures in five computers," as he describes it.Every hard drive will fail eventually. If you have anything worth saving on yours then you should do regular backups. Fortunately, backups are much easier to do than they were just a few years ago when most of us relied on tape drives to back up our personal computers. Now we can use CD or DVD burners, or even external hard drives, all of which are easier to use, more reliable, and faster than the old tape drives.
(What do I do about backups? I use Linux for most of my work, which simplifies things because my work files are all in my home directory. (Even when I download a program, I keep the original download file there.) Once a week, I copy that entire directory to a CD. There are much more sophisticated ways to do backups, but this works well, and saved me when I had a disk crash last year.)
- 1:09 PM, 22 July 2005 [link]
Darn! The police may have thought they had to shoot this London bombing suspect, but I wish they could have captured him, instead.
A man has been shot dead by police at Stockwell Tube station in south London, as officers hunt four bombing suspects.This may be why the police shot him.
Another passenger on the train, Anthony Larkin, told BBC News the man had been wearing a "bomb belt with wires coming out".The death is unfortunate because we want to interrogate as many of these killers or would-be killers as possible.
- 9:20 AM, 22 July 2005
- 1:39 PM, 22 August 2005 [link]
Did The Liberal Media Help Re-elect Bush? That's the provocative argument James Taranto makes in this column. Taranto argues that liberal journalists have a false idea of what will appeal to voters, and that Kerry erred by acting as if their picture was true. In particular, Taranto criticizes Kerry's emphasis on his Vietnam record (something I criticized, too) and Kerry's unwillingness to apologize for his extreme statements during his antiwar phase.
The Kerry camp evidently hoped the media would gloss over the candidate's antiwar activities, and for the most part, for many months, they did. One exception was ABC's Charlie Gibson, who in April 2004 confronted Mr. Kerry about the 1971 medal incident. Mr. Kerry answered evasively, then muttered into a live microphone that Mr. Gibson was "doing the work of the Republican National Committee." This was a telling comment. Mr. Gibson was, in truth, doing the work of a journalist: asking a politician tough questions. But Democrats expect the mainstream media to treat them sympathetically--an expectation that has ample basis in experience.Now one can concede all of Taranto's specific points — without coming to his conclusion. It is, in my opinion, true that Kerry erred by emphasizing his brief Vietnam experience so much. It may be true that he would have been better off if the media had raised the issue of his antiwar activities — and he had used that to apologize. But even if one grants both points, one should not conclude that Kerry was hurt by the "mainstream" media.
Why not? Because there were other issues. Above all, there was the issue of the economy, which was the most important issue, as it is in most elections. Most vote models use the state of the economy as their main variable, and most vote models predicted that Bush would win by a bigger margin than they did, because the economy was performing well during 2004. But the voters didn't think the economy was performing well. As I showed in this post, the voters' evaluation of the economy got worse during the year — even as the economy improved. Why? Because of the Democratic campaign and because of all the negative coverage of the economy by the "mainstream" media. That negative coverage may not have cost Bush five percentage points, as Newsweek's Evan Thomas predicted, but it surely cost him two or three.
- 6:28 PM, 21 July 2005 [link]
Those Secret FBI Files Contained An Interesting Name: Lawrence Silberman had to read the secret files that J. Edgar Hoover accumulated over the years. Most of what he found he wouldn't reveal, but he did, under pressure, come up with this story on Bill Moyers.
Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men's room in Washington. Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater's staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files.This tells us much about Bill Moyers. He was willing as a young man to participate in blackmail. He is willing, as a much older man, to try to bluff someone in order to protect his reputation. But then Bill Moyers learned from a master — Lyndon B. Johnson.
I have wondered for some time whether Moyers' intense distrust of his political opponents came from his service in the Johnson White House, whether he believes others behave as badly as he and Johnson did. I would say this disgusting incident gives us one more reason to think that he is projecting when he attacks conservatives.
(Silberman tells us something interesting, indirectly, in the next paragraph:
Other presidents, according to those files, misused the bureau, although never Truman and Eisenhower.Hoover was named Director of the FBI in 1924 by President Coolidge. He left office during the Nixon administration. Thus, he served under Presidents Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Nixon. Silberman tells us that Truman and Eisenhower did not use Hoover's files for blackmail. I don't know of any reasons to think that either Coolidge or Herbert Hoover used the files. But I think we can reasonably conclude that, though Johnson may have been the worst, Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Nixon also misused the FBI.)
- 4:27 PM, 21 July 2005 [link]
Judge Robert's Wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, belongs to an interesting organization, Feminists for Life. Those trying to determine the Bush nominee's views on abortion are trying to find clues in that membership, as you can see in this approving David Brooks column or this mostly disapproving Los Angeles Times article.
John and Jane Roberts have acted on her (their?) pro-life beliefs. Those two cute kids you may have seen on TV are both adopted.
(What do the Feminists for Life believe? Here's what they say:
If you believe in the strength of women and the potential of every human life.As you can see, they use arguments more common on the left than the right to attack abortion. Their position is not uncommon in the general public, though it gets very little coverage from the "mainstream" media.
Not surprisingly, they are not accepted by other feminist organizations. They have been blocked from the Lilith Fair, a feminist music festival, and similar events.
This has been FFL's view since its beginning in Columbus in 1974, when founder Pat Goltz was expelled from Ohio NOW because she was pro-life, and was soon followed by fellow NOW pro-lifer Catherine Callaghan. The group has been fighting their birth mothers' battle against pro-abortion feminism ever since.There have been so many examples of this kind of intolerance from the left that another doesn't surprise me a bit.)
- 9:03 AM, 21 July 2005 [link]
"Incidents" In London: As you almost certainly have heard, there were small explosions on the London subways and on a London bus. The BBC is saying that the explosions were from detonators. If that's correct, then the explosions would have been about as large as those from firecrackers.
If the early news reports are correct, the police have captured one of the men carrying a detonator.
Hard to know what to make of this without more information. If I had to guess I would say this was a follow-up attack to those on 7/7 — without a skilled bomb maker.
- 7:24 AM, 21 July 2005
More: Fox News is reporting that the police found "left-over explosives", which gives us more reason to think that the bombs were made by an unskilled bomb maker. And the police seem to think that they will find many clues in the explosives and the rucksacks that held them.
- 10:25 AM, 21 July 2005
Incompetent bomb maker? That's why some experts think the bombs didn't explode.
The homemade explosive thought to have been used in both bombing waves can deteriorate after just a few days, a weapons expert has said.You can find a similar suggestion from a different expert here.
- 9:00 AM, 22 July 2005 [link]
Eric Scheie spots a nasty attempt to smear John Roberts. He's disgusted by it, and I can understand why, but I thought it was pretty funny, too.
This was the kneejerk reaction of certain Daily Kos regulars, who wasted no time in calling for an investigation to determine whether John Roberts' son is gay.The son is four years old. If the Kos kids investigate, I am sure they can find an acquaintance who will say that he is a "poopy head".
(It's only fair to add that many, perhaps most, on the left would not approve of such tactics.)
- 4:40 PM, 20 July 2005 [link]
How Many Republicans Can You Find? I like to think that I am pretty good at figuring out which party a person belongs to (or, if you prefer, which person they voted for in the last election). When I look through this schedule for the local NPR station, I can find only a single Republican, only a single person who voted for President Bush last November. Now I have not listened to all the programs and I have not had a chance to ask all the hosts and regular guests which party they belong to, or which candidate they voted for, but I am reasonably certain that I haven't missed more than two or three Republicans.
(Where is the single Republican? In Matt Miller's show, "Left, Right, and Center". Miller (who is not a relative, I hasten to add) uses a standard bureaucratic trick* to make himself look reasonable, and for that he needs a Republican.)
Please understand that I am not saying that KUOW uses a formal political test when the station hires people, or when the program manager selects programs. But the result is almost the same, a nearly complete exclusion of more than half of the American public from the schedule. They do think that the far left "Chomsky cult" deserves to be on the schedule, but they do not think that Republicans deserve to be on the same schedule.
In this, they differ from most commercial talk show hosts, who like to get calls from those who disagree with them. And some of those hosts, Michael Medved, for example, make a practice of bringing on guests who disagree with them. If you want to hear views from both parties, you should not listen to NPR — assuming that our local station is typical.
As far as I can tell, no one at KUOW feels that this near total exclusion of Republicans from their schedule is a problem. No one at KUOW seemed bothered, for instance, by the strange interview that KUOW conducted with the unpopular Washington governor, Christine Gregoire. Although 52 percent of Washington's voters disapprove of her performance in the latest poll I have seen, all the on-air questions and all the email questions were from supporters. Marcie Sillman, who hosted the Weekday program for that interview, did not reply when I sent her a critical email. The same program regularly brings on three local journalists to discuss issues with the host, Steve Scher, on Friday mornings. All four of them voted against Bush last November — and nearly all the calls and emails come from other lefties. I have suggested a way for Scher to bring some balance to the program. He did not reply to my email. (But if either he or program manager Jeff Hansen wishes to hear some ideas for better balance, I would be glad to help.)
And as far as I can tell, no one at NPR thinks that this near complete exclusion of Republicans from the KUOW schedule is a problem, either.
I'd like to think that even hidebound government bureaucracies, such as the one that runs NPR, are capable of reform. But I have seen no evidence that the NPR bureaucracy understands that this exclusion will not be tolerated forever. Republicans in Congress can see the same problems that I do, and they are likely to address them in the obvious ways, by cutting funds, by putting controls on content, and perhaps even by forcibly privatizing NPR. The organization will change, but I fear that those running it are so intolerant of Republicans that the change will have to come from the outside.
Cross posted at Oh, That Liberal Media.(*What's the trick? When bureaucrats are asked to provide alternative courses of action for their bosses, they will often respond with three alternatives, one that they like and two ridiculous ones in the opposite directions. If, for example, the question is what kind of courthouse to build, the bureaucrat might present three possibilities, a shack, a palace, and the one they actually want. Miller uses the same trick, presenting himself as a centrist, in contrast to his regular lefty, Robert Scheer, and a conservative. That lets Miller pose as the reasonable person of the three.)
- 4:22 PM, 20 July 2005 [link]
Think You Live In A Silly City? Try Toronto.
Toronto is being run by idiots.This is a little too strong; she can appear there, but just not as Miss Universe.
Glebova, 23, won the Miss Universe contest in Thailand seven weeks ago. The country made her an honorary ambassador.Remarkable. A city that makes Seattle and San Francisco look relatively — note that I said relatively — sensible.
As Kate McMillan points out, somewhat different displays are welcome in Toronto. Note: She is not kidding when she says her link to the pictures is not "work safe", or, as I might say, sprog friendly.
(Some readers will think that any post on Miss Universe requires a link to some pictures. She looks qualified to me.)
- 9:34 AM, 20 July 2005 [link]
Why Not The Best? While President Bush was looking for a nominee to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's spot on the Supreme Court, those watching made many suggestions on the politics of the choice. Most often they said that Bush should choose a woman or a Hispanic. (Of course a woman Hispanic would have been almost ideal for those who thought only of the politics of the problem. What would have been ideal? Perhaps a woman Hispanic disabled war veteran. But there may be still more categories to fill, for those who think that way.)
Instead Bush chose John Roberts, who will not help him with an identifiable group, but who appears to be superbly qualified — according to the current justices.
That strikes me as not just the right thing to do, but good politics in the long run, and maybe even in the short run.
(What does Judge Roberts believe? Instapundit (and law professor) Glenn Reynolds says he doesn't know. Talk show host (and law professor) Hugh Hewitt says that Roberts is a solid conservative. I have no special knowledge, so I will not venture an opinion. But I do hope that he is better on freedom of speech issues than O'Connor.
Does the title of the post seem familiar? I borrowed it from Jimmy Carter. And from a friend who said that had been how Carter decided which members of his Cabinet to dismiss when his administration was floundering.)
- 8:43 AM, 20 July 2005 [link]
California Likes To Believe It Has Big Quakes: But they don't really compare to this one.
The biggest starquake ever recorded resulted in oscillations in the X-ray emission from the shaking neutron star. Astronomers hope these oscillations will crack the mystery of what neutron stars are made of.As often happens with our little earthquakes, the starquake set off a series of oscillations, at a frequency of 94.5 Hertz, which is "near the frequency of the 22nd key of a piano, F sharp".
Theorists are delighted by the data from the starquake, which may give them some insight about the composition and structure of neutron stars.
- 11:04 AM, 19 July 2005 [link]
The Decline Of The New York Times: As anyone who has read this site for any time knows, our newspaper of record has serious problems with its stories, columns, and editorials. It also — and there may be a connection between these two facts — has serious problems with its financial results.
The New York Times reports its circulation numbers on a consolidated basis, which can be misleading, given the Times' push for greater national distribution in the last twenty years. The consolidated numbers paint a picture that is not too bad. But the Times' performance in its home market, the 30 counties around Manhattan, has been a disaster:The circulation numbers in their home market are the important ones for locally based advertisers. Trading subscribers in the New York area for national subscribers may give the Times more influence, but it probably will hurt their advertising revenue.
One has to wonder whether the Times' poor financial performance affects their coverage of economic issues. If you worked for a company that saw its stock price decline by 30 percent in the last two years, it might be harder to be optimistic about the economy.
One of the puzzling things about the decline of the Times and similar declines at the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, two other liberal newspapers, is that journalists do not seem to have drawn any adverse conclusions about those newspapers. Readers are, more and more, rejecting them, but journalists continue to love them. For example, the two Seattle papers continue to draw much of their content from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times — even as the readership at those papers decline.
(By way of the American Thinker.)
- 8:19 AM, 19 July 2005 [link]
Suicide Bombers? Maybe not. In this post, I noted the possibility that the London bombers were dupes who were tricked into blowing themselves up, rather than volunteer suicide bombers. Michael Ledeen gives us more reasons to suspect they were dupes in this article, in which he pretends to interview the late James Jesus Angleton. For example:
JJA: "Why would anybody think it was a suicide operation?"Ledeen mentions other reasons to think they may have been dupes, among them the fact that none of the men left the usual video tape or letter explaining his actions.
John O'Sullivan makes a similar argument in this column and agrees with a point I had made in my post, that it is difficult to find men (or women) who will kill themselves for a cause. It would have been easier to find recruits if they didn't know they were going to die.
- 7:16 AM, 19 July 2005 [link]
Some Airline Passengers Are Bigger Than Others: The United States may send Britain, by cargo plane, fifty grey whales.
Conservationists are planning to fly 50 grey whales from California to Cumbria in an attempt to reintroduce the species to British waters after 400 years.Sounds like a great idea. And, with any luck, the grey whales would eventually repopulate the Atlantic.
- 2:36 PM, 18 July 2005 [link]
Worth Reading: If you are at all interested in the space shuttle. And along with the main article, the New York Times published articles on the liftoff timing, the mission to-do list, the problems of beer in space, and the mission stakes. (The last article includes links to multimedia presentations.)
If you want to see the articles without paying for them, you'll have to hurry, since the New York Times published them last Tuesday.
- 2:19 PM, 18 July 2005 [link]
Greg Piper learns that, if you are a reporter, people will automatically assume that you are a liberal.
More things I've noticed or learned from my new life as a very low-level reporter.Now why would people assume that — if, as so many assert, journalists are not predominately liberals? Maybe because most journalists are liberals (or, as I prefer to say, leftists) and nearly everyone knows that.
Though nearly everyone knows that most journalists are liberals, you can not say that everywhere. If Piper were to tell these folks that most journalists are liberals, I would expect many of them would argue the point.
(Piper mentions something else of interest in a comment: The people he meets are "total suckups" if they hope he will give them positive coverage. Would that kind of fawning behavior distort a journalist's perceptions over time? I think that, for many, it would.)
- 9:45 AM, 18 July 2005 [link]
Yesterday Being Nice, I went for a walk to look at some flowers. (You can ignore that ice and rock in the background, if you like.)
I am not very good at identifying wild flowers, but I saw avalanche lilies, anemone, bear grass, heather, lupine, spirea, shooting star, and many others. The mix varied with the local conditions, sometimes in ways that puzzled me.
(If you are thinking of a trip to Rainier yourself, you should know that it is crowded on nice summer weekends, just as the park's web site warns you. I arrived at the main entrance about noon, had to wait in line for some time to buy my pass, and then had to look hard for a parking place when I got up to Paradise.
One of the things I enjoy about these trips is that the usual urban barriers about talking to strangers drop away when you are on the trails, and you can have interesting conversations with people you would ordinarily never get a chance to talk to. Since Rainier is close to Fort Lewis and other military bases, you'll encounter many military personnel and their families. I suspect that's why more than one young man addressed me as "sir", when I said hello to him yesterday. (Sadly, there is one exception. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I saw several Muslim women on Rainier in their full burqas, all covered except for their eyes. Neither they, nor those with them even acknowledged the presence of anyone else.)
And one of the things that dismays me nearly every time is the number of people who go for hikes on the mountain without any preparation, and without even proper foot gear. I often see people trying to cross snow fields in running shoes. Which may not be a problem if you are young and fit, but can be if you are not. In fact, yesterday I had to help an older woman wearing running shoes with not much tread on them over a slick spot on a snow field. I've even seen people wearing flip-flops, several thousand feet up from Paradise. And yesterday I saw a number of families, at least an hour away from Paradise, who were carrying no water at all.)
- 8:55 AM, 18 July 2005
- 1:50 PM, 18 July 2007 [link]