Archive:

September 2003, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



The Leading Republican Candidate For Governor  in Louisiana is Bobby Jindal, a "son of immigrants from India, a Republican whose given name is Piyush".  Governor Jindal.  Sounds good to me.
- 8:51 AM, 30 September 2003   [link]


The Wilson-Plame Scandal?  It is a cardinal error to theorize, Sherlock Holmes said, before you have the facts.  In my opinion, the facts are murky enough in the Wilson-Plame case so that a responsible commentator will not come to any firm conclusions.  Unless you have avoided news reports for the last few days, you know that the White House is now accused of leaking the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, in order to get back at her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson.  But the stories told by those involved conflict each other, as Andrew Sullivan points out.

And there is one very odd part of the story, the very beginning.  Wilson said that he was asked to go to Niger to find out whether Saddam was, in fact, trying to purchase uranium from that country.  According to his own account, he went there, had tea with a few old acquaintances, and concluded that the story was false.  When this first came out, it seemed so implausible that I waited for a correction or at least a follow-up.  Who would think that (1) sending Wilson openly to Niger was a good way to determine the facts, or (2) that his visit settled the matter?  Just imagine the scene: Wilson sits down for tea with his friends and, after a few pleasantries, asks them whether they are breaking international treaties and helping an evil dictator.  Who would expect them to confess in that situation?  And why would anyone be sure that those particular officials knew all the facts about sales of uranium?

There is an obvious answer to the who question, Wilson's wife.  She might have encouraged her CIA superiors to send him to Niger.  Now then why would she, and her superiors, authorize this odd trip, which had so little chance of settling the question?   On this question I can only speculate.  One possibility, and it seems the most likely to me, is that Plame and her superiors were trying to undermine the case the Bush and Blair governments were then building against Saddam.  Wilson was sent to Niger in order to bring back a negative report, not to make a real investigation.  Wilson's report, in other words, was part of a factional struggle then going on inside the CIA.  Another faction may have struck back by revealing Plame's CIA connection.  Or Wilson himself may have; we already know that he is both a bitter opponent of President Bush, and rather careless with the facts.  He charged—apparently with no evidence at all that Karl Rove had leaked the facts about his wife.  Some of us think that charging someone with committing a crime should not be done lightly; Wilson obviously does not agree, at least for Republicans.

In recent months, my caution about theorizing before the facts are in has been justified many times.  For example, in April I wrote this post, arguing that it was too soon to know just how much damage had been done to the museums in Baghdad.  I was right, and nearly all the journalists who wrote on the subject were wrong.  In this August post, I pointed out that, contrary to the claims of some of his opponents, President Bush had not said that his policies were responsible for the recent increase in salmon runs.  There is, if I may say so, a lesson in these two examples.  One of the more fevered critics of President Bush on the Plame case, Kevin Drum, was wrong on both earlier "scandals".  (He may have corrected the record on the museums, but has refused to correct his post on the salmon, to my knowledge.  Drum is hardly alone in this; in fact, I mention him only because I am disappointed that he has not learned from those earlier mistakes.  I expect more from him than I do from most bloggers, and hope that he will try harder to avoid that "cardinal error".  Someone in the Bush administration may have broken the law, but, for now, we simply don't know enough to be sure of that.
- 8:23 PM, 30 September 2003   [link]


Apologists For Islam often claim that when Spain was ruled by Muslims, Jews and Christians were tolerated, and there was an equality not found in much of the medieval world.  We can learn, they tell us, from the experience of Andalusia.  But was the kingdom a paragon of toleration?  No, as the historical record makes clear.
But as many scholars have argued, this image is distorted.  Even the Umayyad dynasty, begun by Abd al-Rahman in 756, was far from enlightened.  Issues of succession were often settled by force.  One ruler murdered two sons and two brothers.  Uprisings in 805 and 818 in Córdoba were answered with mass executions and the destruction of one of the city's suburbs.  Wars were accompanied by plunder, kidnappings and ransom.  Córdoba itself was finally sacked by Muslim Berbers in 1013, its epochal library destroyed.

Andalusian governance was also based on a religious tribal model.  Christians and Jews, who shared Islam's Abrahamic past, had the status of dhimmis—alien minorities.  They rose high but remained second-class citizens; one 11th-century legal text called them members of "the devil's party."  They were subject to special taxes and, often, dress codes.   Violence also erupted, including a massacre of thousands of Jews in Grenada in 1066 and the forced exile of many Christians in 1126.
In short, the Muslim rulers of Spain behaved much as the Muslim rulers of other lands did, tolerating Christians and Jews when that was convenient, and persecuting them when it was not.  In that, they may have not been very different from the Christian rulers of the same period.  But there is this difference.  Nearly all in Christian countries, or lands with Christian heritage, now reject that medieval barbarity.  Many in Muslim lands do not.
- 2:21 PM, 29 September 2003   [link]


What Duct Tape Is Not Good For:  Contrary to what many think, including the Instapundit, there is one thing you should not fix with duct tape.
After months of testing, Max Sherman and Iain Walker of DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concluded that duct tape is good for lots of things, but it's no good for sealing ducts.  "We tried as many different kinds of duct sealants as we could get our hands on," says Sherman, of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division.  "Only duct tape failed . . . often quite catastrophically."
- 2:01 PM, 29 September 2003
More:  An emailer reminds me that duct tape was originally called "duck tape", and was first used in World War II as a "waterproof tape to keep the moisture out of ammunition cases".
- 6:22 AM, 30 September 2003   [link]


Worth Reading:  If you have wondered what was going on in the California recall, you should read "All Politics Are Loco", a lively account by Michael Lewis, who is always entertaining and sometimes insightful.  Among other things, you will learn that Governor Davis, a politician all his life, has no friends.  This is as strange as a surgeon who can't stand to look at blood, or a fighter pilot with poor reflexes.  Even Richard Nixon, another man whose personality seemed unsuited to a political career, had friends.
- 8:17 AM, 29 September 2003   [link]


Cutting Off Al Qaeda's Money:  This Los Angeles Times article uses another standard trick to fool its readers.  The headline and first paragraphs, which are read by almost everyone, are not supported by the facts farther down in the article, which many readers will skip.  As everyone knows, it is of crucial importance to cut off al Qaeda's money.  Forensic accountants may be more important than our special forces in the war on terror.  So how are we doing?  The headline is gloomy, "Cutting Money Flow to Terrorists Proves Difficult", and the lead paragraph equally so.
A U.S.-led campaign to eradicate terror networks by choking off their sources of money is running into roadblocks in many countries that will make it difficult, if not impossible, to prevent the groups from financing attacks, U.S. and other officials say.
And there are difficulties, especially in some countries.  But the article also gives us an official estimate of the bottom line
There have been many successes since President Bush signed Executive Order 13224 on Sept. 23, 2001, authorizing sweeping new powers for the Treasury Department and other agencies.

A few senior Al Qaeda paymasters have been killed, and others have been captured.  One of those captured, Mustafa Hawsawi, has provided a wealth of information about the network.

U.S. officials have designated 321 individuals and entities as terrorists or terrorist supporters, and more than $136.8 million has been frozen around the world.
. . .
By one recent Treasury Department estimate, Al Qaeda's cash flow has been dispersed and reduced by two-thirds.
Two-thirds!  Would you have guessed that from the headline and the first paragraph?
- 9:44 AM, 28 September 2003   [link]


The Average Person Got A Little Poorer in 2001, but the rich got much less rich.
The incomes of the top 1 percent of Americans fell 18 percent in 2001, as did their income taxes, shaving $66 billion off revenues and showing how dependent the federal government has become on its wealthiest citizens.
That top 1 percent paid 37.4 percent of all personal income taxes in 2000, but just 33.9 percent in 2001.  Not because of any Bush tax cuts, which did not much affect the wealthy in 2001, but because the stock market declined.  The stock market bubble of the late 1990s pumped up many things, including tax receipts.  When it burst, as it had to, those declined as well.

Our dependence on the incomes of the very wealthy for such a large share of the federal budget means that our federal receipts will continue to move with the stock market.  Perhaps the next time receipts jump up we will have the wisdom to see that the gains are temporary, but I doubt it.
- 9:20 AM, 28 September 2003
More:  As Hal Varian points out in this column, California's budget was even more drastically affected by the stock market.  Revenues from capital gains taxes rose from $7.5 billion in 1998-1999 to $17.6 billion in 2000-2001, and then fell to $5.2 billion in 2002-2003.  (You can probably ignore Varian's discussion of California's electrical crisis, which was much worsened by Governor Davis's mismanagement.  Note that Varian has already had to post corrections.)
- 8:34 AM, 29 September 2003   [link]


More Good News From Afghanistan:  The nation now has a draft constitution and refugees are still returning, including some who are giving up businesses and careers in the West.
- 8:30 AM, 28 September 2003   [link]


The Discovery  of this cache of conventional weapons in Iraq should remind us just how easy it would have been for Saddam to hide his chemical and biological weapons.  We have been searching for such stockpiles for months, but just found this one.  And there is every reason to think that, if Saddam hid part or all of his chemical and biological weapons, he took more care than whoever hid this cache.
- 8:20 AM, 28 September 2003   [link]


What Sports Do Americans Hate?  Dog fighting, pro wrestling, bull fighting, pro boxing, and pro golf.   AP sports columnist Steve Wilstein gives us some interesting speculations on the reasons for those dislikes, and the relatively high numbers who dislike other sports, including stock car racing and pro basketball.
- 6:47 AM, 28 September 2003   [link]


The Gallup Poll Of Baghdad Residents, which I discussed here, was bad news for leftist critics of our policy.  If, as the poll shows, a large majority even in Baghdad favored the overthrow of Saddam, it is hard to not to agree that what happened in Iraq was a liberation, not an occupation.  Most of these critics will, I predict, not face this bad news (from their point of view), but hide it.

The Guardian, not surprisingly, provides an example.   The newspaper used two standard tricks for hiding the bad news; first, they bury the poll at the end of a long article with many other subjects, knowing that many readers will miss it.  Second, they run a long column by an Iraqi exile, who has been out of Iraq for 34 years, with the opposite point of view.   (He is also, as we learn from the column, a supporter of the Iraqi Communist party, which suggests just how unrepresentative the views of his friends there are.  Whatever support they may have had in the past—and I think he greatly exaggerates on that point—they are now a small minority.)

The combination of these two tricks will fool most Guardian readers.  The newspaper did not lie in either the article or the column, but it deceived its readers anyway.  Did the editors intend this result?  Of course.
- 7:14 AM, 27 September 2003   [link]


One Chance In A Thousand:  At most.  In this post, I mentioned a sensational charge, that the original selection of the 3 judge panel of the 9th Circuit that postponed the California recall had been rigged.  After the choice of a new 11 judge panel, all of whom voted no on postponing the recall, my suspicions increased, and in this post, I asked for help in calculating the odds against this strange pair of events.  Fortunately, Jonathan Falk, vice president of NERA, saw my post, and sent me the calculations.  We can't get a single result, but we can examine each possible case and set a lower bound.  (I am just posting the results; if you want to see the intermediate figures and more of the reasoning, look at this post.)

What Falk did was calculate the odds for each possibility.  He started the least likely case; only 11 judges of the entire 27 in the 9th Circuit opposed the postponement.  This would mean that the two drawings were extraordinarily unlikely, 1 chance in 13,037,895, as shown in the first row.  If 12 judges of the 27 opposed the postponement, then the chances increase to 1 in 1,337,220, and so on down through the table.  The highest probability is for the 2 cases where 21 or 22 judges opposed the postponement, but even there, the odds against these panel selections are more than 1000 to 1.  Such odds are not proof of a fix, but they are high enough so that an investigation is in order.

Odds On 9th Circuit Panel Selections

Judges Opposed One Chance In
1113037895
121337220
13257157.7
1470133.92
1524313.09
1610130.45
174916.25
182731.25
191725
201242
211035
221035
231350
242925


If the choices of the first 3 judges was rigged, how was it done?  I don't know enough about the procedures for random drawing of judges at the 9th Circuit to even speculate, but it is quite common for very low level employees to control key parts of a drawing.  I can recall a case in which some low level employees rigged a lottery by filling some of the ping-pong balls they were using with water.  Similarly, some of our worst security breeches have come from people near the very bottoms of their organizations.  The bottom is where I would start investigating.
- 11:12 AM, 26 September 2003
Update:  An email reminded me that 3 judges had to excuse themselves from the first panel, because they are married to ACLU officials, and that the selection rules may have required some judges to be on the 11 member panel.  I'll do another post incorporating these facts soon, with new numbers, if possible.   (Unless someone beats me to it, of course.)
- 7:10 AM, 28 September 2003   [link]


Who Are You Going To Believe?  Journalists or your own lying eyes?   Washington Post columnist David Ignatius goes to Baghdad and sees that conditions have improved, contrary to what he has been reading in the newspapers.
The cascade of bad news from Iraq leaves a returning visitor unprepared for a small surprise here: Compared with six months ago, when the war ended, the Iraqi capital is cleaner and more orderly.  The new Iraq is still a distant dream, but the work of rebuilding has at least begun.
But he recovers and by the end of the column is back to the pessimism he brought to Baghdad.
Baghdad is a neater place than it was, and Iraqis and Americans are united in wanting real security.  But the window for cooperation won't stay open much longer.
If you think that Ignatius should believe his eyes, rather than his fellow journalists, you may want to read this Wall Street Journal column which names some useful sites for information on Iraq.  None are British or American news organizations.
- 7:37 AM, 26 September 2003   [link]


Open Borders?  Almost no one here favors open borders, in principle.  (I say "here" because there are many in other countries who favor it, even expect it.  I say "almost", because it is the policy of the Libertarian Party, providing more evidence that they are not entirely in contact with reality.)  Many, however, favor open immigration in practice, immigrants who want their relatives to join them, businessmen who want cheap labor, Democrats hoping to stop the decline of their party.

One such Democrat, who may be the next governor of California, is Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.   As Debra Saunders reminds us, Bustamante has been surprisingly frank on the subject.
When asked if he saw a distinction between legal and illegal immigrants earlier this month, Bustamante told reporters, "I think that anybody who works and pays taxes ought to have a right to citizenship."

U.S. citizenship is a right for non-Americans who break the law.

In Bustamante World, illegal immigrants should pay no penalty whatsoever.  Au contraire, they should be rewarded with documents, tuition discounts and health care.
He holds this position in spite of the considerable costs that illegal immigrants are imposing on taxpayers; one study found that they cost California taxpayers a half billion dollars a year in health care alone.  He is not alone.  His position is, as Saunder says, part of the orthodoxy of the California Democratic party.  And elsewhere.  Most Democratic officials in Washington state hold similar positions.  No doubt I am old fashioned, but I don't think we should reward those who break the law.  And I do think that any nation, even the United States, should be allowed to control who comes into the country.
- 7:14 AM, 26 September 2003   [link]


Some Clarifications On Saddam's WMDs:  I don't want to leave a false impression that I am certain that the Ekeus explanation for the missing chemical and biological weapons is correct.  Right now, his conclusion that Saddam switched from building stockpiles to building the capability for the weapons seems like the most probable explanation, but there are others that I would not rule out, including that the weapons have been hidden somewhere (quite easy to do considering their small volume), or transferred to another country, most likely Syria.  And I think there is a very good chance that Saddam followed a mixed strategy, hiding some and destroying others, while building even more dual use facilities.

I would go even farther and say that anyone who is certain—as so many on the left are—about what happened to Saddam's arsenal is jumping to conclusions, unless they have access to information not available to the public.  A related problem, the question of Saddam's involvement in the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, shows how difficult these investigations are.  Even now, after many investigations, we do not know for sure that he had nothing to do with it.  In fact, as Vice President Cheney said on Meet the Press last Sunday, we have uncovered new evidence against Saddam.
"Now, is there a connection between the Iraqi government and the original World Trade Center bombing in '93?" Cheney said.  "We know, as I say, that one of the perpetrators of that act did in fact receive support from the Iraqi government after the fact."
Ten years later and we still don't know for certain.

Nor would the Ekeus argument make much difference in the legal case against Saddam before the war.  He had agreed to give up not only the weapons but the capability to produce them.   In the long run, the capability to produce them is more important than the weapons.
- 6:00 AM, 26 September 2003   [link]


Intelligence Failures Are Normal:  After I wrote the preceding post, I realized that some would wonder why, with all our resources and all our technological tricks, we could be wrong about the Iraqi weapons programs.  The sad fact is that intelligence failures are normal.  There are so many examples from history that it is hard to choose just one, so let me mention two that are well studied, the Battle of the Bulge and the first Chinese attack in the Korean War.

By December 1944, the allies were convinced that the war with Hitler was almost finished.   And we were confident that we could keep track of German troop dispositions.  We had, after all, air superiority, were reading their codes, and were getting a constant stream of information from prisoners and deserters.  We even spotted one of the most important clues fairly early.   As the authors of a recent study on the battle, Hitler's Last Gamble note:
As early as 1 October, intelligence intercepts had revealed that many German armored formations, especially elite SS Panzers, had been withdrawn from the front lines for rebuilding.   Most did not appear in the line but remained in reserve throughout October and November.   Furthermore intelligence also revealed the creation of the Sixth Panzer Army on 20 October, although the information was not released in intelligence summaries until the first week of November.  (This was standard procedure for protecting the intelligence source; the source was noted to be a German deserter.)
In the Korean War, MacArthur first held the North Korean attack (which also surprised us) at the Pusan perimeter in the southern part of the country, then turned their flank with the Inchon landing near Seoul.  By October, 1950, we had pursued them to near the Chinese border, actually reaching it in one place.  Again, we had air superiority, but we were just as surprised when the Chinese entered the war as we were by Hitler's attack in December, 1944.  Here's what the West Point Atlas of American Wars says about our defeat:
In retrospect, the defeat of the U. N. forces in northern Korea contains several interesting lessons.  The U. N. forces—initially at least—were not greatly outnumbered; they possessed several times the fire power of their opponents and had outstanding superiority in armor and artillery.  They were (with the relative exception of the ROK [South Korean] units) fully motorized and suffered no major logistical shortages.  Finally, they had complete air and naval superiority.  Yet they suffered one of the most definite defeats ever inflicted on American forces by a foreign army.
We were surprised by both the Chinese intervention and the tactics they used against us.   Eisenhower was a competent military commander and MacArthur may have been a genius.   Both were served by experienced and competent staffs, yet both were surprised.

Surprises run the other way, too.  Although they are usually less dangerous, overestimates of enemy capabilities may be even more common than the underestimates like those that led to our defeat in the early weeks of the Battle of the Bulge and our expulsion from North Korea.  I think intelligence experts are especially likely to err after they have blundered.  Like a weather man who misses a big snowfall and then predicts snow whenever a cloud comes on the horizon, they may over react.  After the first Gulf War, our experts were greatly surprised by how much they had underestimated Saddam's weapons programs.  They were surprised again a few years later when, after years of inspections, they learned from an Iraqi turncoat that they had missed entire weapons programs.  These unpleasant surprises may have made them too pessimistic in their latest estimates.
- 1:43 PM, 25 September 2003   [link]


What Happened To Saddam's WMDs?  The former head United Nations inspector, Rolf Ekeus, thinks he knows.  Last Monday, Jim Lehrer interviewed Ekeus on the PBS News Hour.   The interview starts with a bang:
[Lehrer]: Why do you believe no weapons of mass destruction have been found since the end of the war?

Rolf Ekeus: I think that one has been first of all looking not in the right direction or for the right stuff.  My feeling is very clearly that the Iraqi policy long before the war was to build capability to develop its capabilities to produce weapons for the situation, for the conflict situation, not to produce for storage and create a problem of storage management.

Jim Lehrer: So it was a mistake to think that there were stockpiles buried underground or in warehouses or hidden in various places in Iraq in the first place?

Rolf Ekeus: Definitely, that's my, I tried to tell that for years, that the Iraqi policy was to have a capability to develop qualities -- to develop engineering, design, new types of weapons, especially in the chemical weapons and the bioweapons field in order to at a given moment, when the situation appears, to activate the production, because they learned during the 80's that when they produced say especially nerve agents like sarin, vx and all these things, when they put it in drums, in a storage places, after at least months the quality deteriorated.
So we won't find stockpiles because the Iraqis were not producing the weapons in quantity.

Ekeus then argues that the Iraqi stockpiles of the 1980s were intended for use mainly against the Iranians, and that the Iraqis knew they would not be effective against troops as well protected as the American forces.  If they were to be used against Iranians, then Saddam might reasonably expect to have time to start the production lines, if necessary.

The next question is obvious.  If not stockpiles, what should we be searching for?
Jim Lehrer: Okay, so let's go back to what's happening on the ground there now or isn't happening on the ground there.  What should the U.S., essentially now U.S. weapons inspectors, what should they be looking for then?  If they're looking for capability, testing of quality, what should they look for in order to prove that?

Rolf Ekeus: They should certainly, first of all they should bring in the right type of people.  And I understand they have started to do that, namely process engineers, specialists, researchers, and go into the civilian production facilities and investigate the whole production line, what's going on in such a facility, what is the input, what kind of chemicals are being put in, what is the output.  Can the site manager make it clear explanation what they have been…is there something missing from, if you compare input with output?  And to cross-examine the large number of people who have been involved in production.

But it's easier said than done, because my conviction is, as I've been in touch with some of the Iraqi weapons specialists, is that there's still fear for Saddam, they still don't trust that the U.S. will stay there and the guy who comes up and spends everything to, for instance, he may be in deep trouble.  If they think if Saddam is watching that and, a treacherous, he's a traitor and will be trouble.
So, instead of looking for artillery shells filled with poison gas, we need to be examining factory records, and giving protection to the right scientists.

The Ekeus argument seems plausible to me, but it does conflict with some pre-war intelligence, at least if the leaks from British and American sources have been reported correctly.  Both countries' intelligence services believed that Saddam had retained large stockpiles.  As did nearly everyone else, including the United Nations and intelligence services in other nations.  It might be possible to reconcile these two positions, that of most intelligence services and that of Ekeus, if we assume that Saddam hid those weapons that he could store without deterioration, and destroyed the rest.   He had had such success hiding parts of his arsenal during the inspections period that he had every reason to think that he could continue to hide other parts, as long as he kept production facilities disguised as pesticide plants and the like.

If Ekeus is correct—and I think the odds are now strongly in his favor—then the political fight over the missing weapons will end, I believe, not with a bang but a whimper.  Bush and Blair will be able to show evidence that Saddam had kept his weapons program going, and their opponents will be able to say that the intelligence was wrong in some respects.  Both will claim vindication, and public attention will slowly turn to other subjects.  (Perhaps it is this possibility of an indecisive political outcome that has kept this interview from getting the attention it deserves.  Those looking only for ammunition, for either side, will not find it of much interest.)
- 9:36 AM, 25 September 2003   [link]


Still More Suspects:  This Washington Post account tells us that there are "as many as four other service members" under investigation, and something about what Chaplain Yee and Airman Halabi may have done.
Of particular concern to Pentagon officials is the information that Halabi allegedly attempted to deliver.  It includes a copy of flight information involving the movement of military personnel to and from Guantanamo Bay, details about which prisoners are housed in which cells, letters from detainees and copies of operations orders for the transfer of prisoners, according to court papers.

"If you put all that stuff together, in the wrong hands, hands that have the capability to use it, it's very significant," a senior defense official said.  The information could potentially be used to attack U.S. aircraft or to cause a riot, several officials said.

The allegations that Halabi was carrying messages from prisoners as well as cell numbers raise the disturbing possibility that the detainees are coordinating activities and communications among themselves or with outsiders, defense officials said.
The investigators didn't tell the Post, apparently, what religion(s) the other people being investigated belong to.  Are they Baptists?  Buddhists?  Hard to guess, unless you ignore political correctness and use a smidgeon of common sense.

The Washington Times, not being handicapped by the investigators' requirements of confidentiality, or the Post's political correctness makes the obvious point in this editorial.
Considering that there are only approximately 4,500 Muslims in uniform, their record of religious-based crimes is significant.  The most notorious case of conflicting loyalties was that of Sgt. Hasan Akbar, who killed two of his commanding officers in a grenade attack in Kuwait last winter and shouted, "You guys are coming into our countries, and you're going to rape our women and kill our children."
Though Akbar is the most notorious, he is hardly the only example.  At the very least, we must rethink our security checks.  For example, although Yee's four years of study in Syria might not disqualify him automatically, it should, we now can see, flash a big warning to us.
- 8:00 AM, 25 September 2003   [link]


The Little Statue to the left on the main page was made when I was younger and skinnier, though I still don't look like a contestant in a pie eating championship.  I still sometimes read as I walk, and expect that I always will.   You can probably guess, from previous posts, the name of the city in the background.   That may change in the future, as I learn a little more about photo programs.
- 6:17 AM, 25 September 2003   [link]


Way Back In March, I wrote this post, arguing that a majority of Iraqis would support the invasion of Iraq.  Since then, a number of polls have been done of Iraqis in Baghdad or in the entire country, that supported my argument.  Now, Gallup has done a poll of the city of Baghdad, which provides still further support for my conclusions.
After five months of foreign military occupation and the ouster of Saddam Hussein, nearly two-thirds of Baghdad residents believe that the removal of the Iraqi dictator has been worth the hardships they have been forced to endure, a new Gallup poll shows.
(Niggling correction: Sixty-seven percent is not "nearly two-thirds", it is just over two-thirds.)  Even higher percentages would probably approve outside of Baghdad, as I have explained before.  The New York Times reporter seems surprised by these results, though he would not be if had read the reports from John Burns, a New York Times reporter who reached the same conclusion that I did.

And there is more reason for optimism in other findings in the poll.
But half the respondents said the occupation authority was doing a better job now than it was two months ago, and their view of Mr. Bremer himself was remarkably positive, with 47 percent holding a favorable view of him compared with 22 percent who held an unfavorable view.
The occupation authorities fumbled in the first few weeks, by all accounts.  The Bush administration spotted this quickly and replaced them with Bremer, who appears to be doing a much better job.

(From what I read of their polling procedures here, this looks like the most professional poll done in Iraq since the liberation.)   
- 1:51 AM, 24 September 2003   [link]


Deutsche Bank Leaving Deutschland?  Bloomberg News columnist Matthew Lynn thinks that the bank, despite its denials, has been floating rumors that it will leave Germany.
Some corporate moves would be social and political dynamite.  Coca-Cola Co. quitting the U.S. to protest the invasion of Iraq would be one.  Sony Corp. leaving Japan because of the failure of reform would be another.  Deutsche Bank AG moving out of Germany on account of the growing anti-business culture of its home country would be a third.

The first two are pure fantasy.  The third?  Who knows?  Unbelievable as it sounds, it could happen.

In London last week, the Financial Times and the Times of London ran stories suggesting that Deutsche Bank may leave its Frankfurt base and relocate.  Maybe it would go to London, maybe somewhere else.  But it would get out of Germany.
  Lynn urges the bank to quit fooling around and move to another country where it will get better treatment.  Seattle officials can tell the German government that such threats should be listened to.  After years of complaining, Boeing moved its headquarters from this area to Chicago, and one of the reasons was certainly the lack of attention to their complaints from local and state officials.
- 8:57 AM, 24 September 2003   [link]


More Reasons To Worry About Clark's Character:  From his former commander, retired general Hugh Shelton, who says he wouldn't vote for Clark and fired him for reasons that "had to do with integrity and character issues".  Not good, though I suppose there could be a legitimate explanation.
- 8:39 AM, 24 September 2003   [link]


What Are The Odds?  The Ninth Circuit Court first selected—randomly—three judges to hear the argument that the recall election should be postponed.  All three voted for a postponement.  The court then selected—randomly—eleven different judges to review that decision.   All eleven voted against the postponement.  As I mentioned in this post, some found the original choices reason to think that the choices were not, in fact, random.  The unanimous reversal adds weight to that argument, and so I have been trying to calculate the odds against the first selection.  If the fourteen judges were the entire court,the calculation is easy; unless I made a mistake with my calculator, there is less than three chances in a thousand that a random selection would select all three of the judges that favored a postponement for the first case.  But there are more judges on the court, so that is, I think, not the correct calculation.  Anyone have any idea whether the odds can be calculated, and, if so, how to do it?  (There are some possible approaches if you have a good ideological measure for all the judges on the court, so that you can rank them from left to right.   I haven't seen such a measure, but wouldn't be surprised to learn that an interest group or scholar has constructed one.)

(The caller to the Hugh Hewitt show who claimed that the original selection had been rigged said, as I remember, that the rigging had been done by court officials working with the ACLU lawyers.  The court officials knew when the random drawing had selected these three judges and told the plaintiffs when to file to get those judges.  I don't know enough about the court's procedures to know if this is possible.  It seems almost certain to me that the officials would be breaking rules and perhaps laws if this happened.  And the attorneys would be at fault, I would think, too.)
- 7:14 AM, 24 September 2003   [link]


Worth Reading:  Frank Gaffney's column on what may be a Muslim 5th column in our military, the Muslim chaplains, most of whom were trained by an extremist school with ties to terrorists.
- 5:28 AM, 24 September 2003   [link]