September 2007, Part 2
Jim Miller on Politics
Israeli Jets Flew Over Syria Ten Days Ago: The Times of London is sure they know what happened in the raid.
It was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria's formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.The Observer isn't sure at all what happened, and ends their survey of the possibilities with this bizarre speculation.
Whatever the truth of the allegations against Syria — and Israel has a long history of employing complex deceptions in its operations — the message being delivered from Tel Aviv is clear: if Syria's ally, Iran, comes close to acquiring a nuclear weapon, and the world fails to prevent it, either through diplomatic or military means, then Israel will stop it on its own.If the North Koreans and the Syrians were cooperating on nuclear matters, then both were breaking promises, as well as risking war.
The speculation from the Observer is worth some study, because a great many intelligent, reasonably well-informed people in Britain, and elsewhere, will find it plausible. Some ascribe this kind of thinking to anti-Semitism, and I am sure that is part of the explanation. But I think another part is that it seems to these people just so inconvenient that Israel continues to defend herself.
- 4:38 PM, 16 September 2007
More Speculation, from a well-informed Israeli.
- 4:54 PM, 17 September 2007
Still More Speculation, this time from Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal.
- 10:34 AM, 18 September 2007 [link]
Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places: Who? Governor Deval Patrick.
This year I marked the anniversary of Sept. 11 by driving through Massachusetts. It wasn't exactly planned that way, just the way things panned out. So, heading toward Boston, I tuned to Bay State radio talk-show colossus Howie Carr and heard him reading out portions from the official address to the 9/11 commemoration ceremony by Deval Patrick, who is apparently the governor of Massachusetts: 9/11, said Gov. Patrick, "was a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States."Does Governor Patrick believe this nonsense? It seems unlikely, given what he must have learned in politics, especially as practiced in Massachusetts. But he said it anyway, which tells us something about what he believes about the voters there.
- 2:20 PM, 16 September 2007 [link]
The View Across The Lava Flow: When I stopped at Lava Butte on my latest disaster area tour, I took another picture of the Cascade volcanoes across the lava flow, this time with a better result.
From left to right, that's Mt. Bachelor (best known as a ski resort), Broken Top, and the Sisters. Those yellow bushes in the foreground are, I believe, rabbitbrush, though I am not sure which rabbitbrush.
(That dead tree is popular with photographers. I used it last year, and a few weeks ago saw a photo on the web using the same tree — a better photograph than either of mine, by the way, mostly because whoever shot it used the tree to frame one of the mountains.
You can find my previous 2007 disaster area post here, the last 2006 disaster area tour post, with links to earlier posts, here, and the last 2005 disaster area tour post, with links to earlier posts, here.)
- 12:47 PM, 14 September 2007 [link]
No "Unexpected" In This Article: But you can sense some surprise.
The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that when this budget year wraps up on Sept. 30, the deficit will total $158 billion, down by 36.2 percent from last year's $248.2 billion deficit.The article does not give any particular president credit for this development.
(Here's a question I have wondering about since 2001: Did the surpluses that Clinton ran in the late 1990s cause or contribute to the recession that began in either 2000 or 2001, depending on which indicators you prefer? Standard Keynesian theory says that the surpluses would, at the very least, have contributed to that recession, but I have never even seen a discussion of this question.)
- 8:56 AM, 14 September 2007 [link]
Pork Versus Safety: As many have noted, one reason we have safety problems on our highways is that many politicians prefer to spend money on wasteful, but high profile, projects, rather than on maintenance, which is dull and does not allow them to cut ribbons or even get their names put on signs. (For some examples, see here and here.)
Many politicians have this preference, as I said, but few are as frank as Washington state's Mary Margaret Haugen. First some background on one of the state's most dangerous roads:
Why has the road been negelected? Here's why:
Yes, it is really brutal, Senator Haugen. What you have just said is that you and your allies have been allowing people to die along Highway 2 because you don't like the representatives they choose. That's not just brutal; that's despicable.
And there has been money for improvements for years, but those running this state have chosen to spend it on cargo cult projects, such as light rail, rather than maintaining the roads. And there is no sign that they intend to change their ways, despite those deaths on Highway 2, and elsewhere.
Cross posted at Sound Politics.
(There may be another reason for the neglect of Highway 2. Many of the state's Democratic leaders are what I call "urban imperialists", who see rural areas the way most emperors see conquered provinces, as places to be exploited, not nourished. When I returned to Washington a little more than a decade ago, I was shocked to see how Highway 2 had been neglected. It is almost as if those running this state want to clear the population from that area and convert it all to wilderness.As you might already have guessed, Washington's Democratic governor, Chris Gregoire, was quick to respond to this article and to the growing discontent along Highway 2. She toured the road and is promising action. And the cheerleaders at the Seattle Times say they believe her. But the cheerleaders didn't bother to check to see if Gregoire had cleared this with Senator Haugen, nor did they mention this unpleasant fact: So far, Gregoire has made many promises to improve our roads, but has little in the way of actual accomplishments, or even real plans. And she is absolutely unwilling to divert money from the cargo cult projects.)
- 4:30 PM, 13 September 2007 [link]
Interesting, If True: The New York Post is claiming that MoveOn got a special rate on that NYT ad.
WASHINGTON - The New York Times dramatically slashed its normal rates for a full-page advertisement for MoveOn.org's ad questioning the integrity of Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.But I wouldn't make too much of the story, just yet, since I have read (in a blog comment) that almost no advertiser pays those stated rates.
But it is true that the New York Times did not have to accept the ad, which is slanderous in the ordinary sense of the word, though it may not be so legally.
- 10:04 PM, 13 September 2007
More: Today's Best of the Web discusses the discount given MoveOn; the price was not unusual, but MoveOn may have gotten help in placing the ad on that particular day. More important than any possible favoritism is the undisputed fact that the New York Times published a slanderous advertisement. And the Times does, from time to time, reject political ads.
- 1:44 PM , 14 September 2007
The Times is now admitting that they gave MoveOn a favorable rate.
- 6:05 AM, 23 September 2007 [link]
Worth Reading: Joanne Jacobs takes on a school that was failing to teach many students, but was forced to change by the No Child Left behind Act.
One teacher is quitting rather than try to meet the standards. You'll want to read what she said — and Jacobs' devastating reply.
- 5:02 PM, 12 September 2007 [link]
A Terrible Earthquake Has Hit Indonesia: As you probably have heard.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - A powerful earthquake shook Indonesia on Wednesday, killing 10 people, injuring scores and triggering a small tsunami that hit one city on the island of Sumatra, authorities said.Most likely the death toll will rise, as more reports come in, but this shows no sign of being a giant catastrophe like the earthquake that caused the December, 2004 tsunami.
Judging only by the article, governments in that area seem to have learned from the 2004 disaster; warnings went out, people were moved away from ocean, and so on.
(Need a review on Richter magnitude numbers, as I often do? Here's one that includes this earthquake.)
- 4:38 PM, 12 September 2007
Time magazine should have done the same review I did. Here's what Amanda Ripley has to say about magnitudes:
Yesterday's magnitude-8.4 quake was smaller than the 9.1 of 2004, but only slightly.Take a look at the Wikipedia article if that "slightly" doesn't strike you as funny. (The article also gives different magnitude estimates for the two earthquakes, but the difference wasn't slight, no matter which estimates you use.)
The rest of Ripley's article has an interesting discussion on progress, and lack of progress, in warning against tsunamis, but I am not sure how much of it to believe after that blunder.
- 7:40 AM, 13 September 2007 [link]
Norman Hsu's Money: One of the more puzzling things about the Hsu campaign finance scandal is the source of his money. After all, he had declared bankruptcy not that long ago, and seemed to have no viable businesses.
Now, the Wall Street Journal, which has led the reporting on this scandal, thinks they have part of the answer. Today's edition has a front page article (which you will have to pay for or find in a library) by Ianthe Jeanne Dugan and Brody Mullins. Here are the third and fourth paragraphs:
New documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal may help point to an answer: A company controlled by Mr. Hsu recently received $40 million from a Madison Avenue investment fund run by Joel Rosenman, who was one of the creators of the Woodstock rock festival in 1969. That money, Mr. Rosenman told investors this week, is missing.So, most likely, Hsu's money came from a classic "Ponzi scheme", similar to one he had run before. But that doesn't explain why he was contributing all that money (at least $1.8 million) to the Democrats. Was this just part of his cover? Was he making these donations in order to meet new suckers? Was he trying to buy a future pardon, just in case he needed one? Or does he just like Democrats?
There's nothing in the Journal article that even hints at why he was making those donations, though it is strange behavior for someone running a Ponzi scheme. Typically, those who run Ponzi schemes avoid publicity, letting the first investors recruit later ones, and accepting those later investors with some pretended reluctance. (The short term profits that Hsu promised, and delivered to the first investors, are typical of Ponzi schemes. Rosenman could have saved himself a few millions if he had remembered the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.)
So, for now, we will just have to hope that an explanation of his motive for making the donations will come out at one of his trials. (This new information does make it less likely, though not impossible, that he was working for some foreign power.)
(More on Ponzi schemes here.)
- 1:57 PM, 12 September 2007
The Wall Street Journal has freed the article, putting it in their public section.
- 6:50 AM, 13 September 2007 [link]
How Did The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Commemorate 9/11? By showing Michael Moore's disgraceful "documentary", Fahrenheit 9/11 — twice, on September 5th and September 9th. And by linking to the movie's site, so that Canadians could more easily buy copies of this propaganda piece.
By way of Kate McMillan.
(The BBC was just as bad, putting up, in their children's section, an explanation of the 9/11 attack that almost could have come from Al Qaeda.
The CBC site doesn't mention them, so I will. There are many factual critiques of Moore's "documentary", including at least one movie, Celsius 41.11.)
- 9:26 AM, 12 September 2007
At least two movies: There's also Fahrenhype 9/11. I haven't seen either movie, but have seen decent reviews of the first.
- 10:01 AM, 12 September 2007
Stealth Edit? Newsbusters says that the offending BBC article has been replaced by one more balanced. The explanation that the BBC gave one reader — that the article had been around since 2001 — is even more dismaying than the original piece.
- 12:27 PM, 12 September 2007 [link]
Eating Their Own: It's begun.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is encouraging anti-war activists to find challengers to centrist Democrats, with the aim of moving the party to the left and ramping up opposition to the war in Iraq, to the chagrin of top Democratic aides.Woolsey is exposing Pelosi's strategic problem: The Democratic majority in the House would not exist were it not for the election of 58 Democrats from moderate and conservative districts in 2006, districts that voted for President Bush in 2004. (Just 8 Republicans represent House districts lost by Bush in 2004.) If Pelosi accommodates those 58, she will infuriate the activists who provide so much money and volunteer work for the Democrats.
So far, Pelosi has mostly chosen to give the activists symbols, and the moderates substance. But it is clear that the activists will not be satisfied with symbols forever.
(Woolsey, who represents Marin and Sonoma counties, north of San Francisco, is one of the most extreme House members on cultural issues. For example, she sponsored a bill to revoke the federal charter of Boy Scouts, because they don't allow gay scoutmasters. When the Republicans forced a vote on the bill, it received just 12 votes — and made a nice issue for the Republicans.)
- 6:23 AM, 12 September 2007 [link]
More Unexpected Good News on the economy.
Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in July as Boeing Co., General Electric Co. and Deere & Co. shipped more airplanes, engines and tractors overseas.After five months of record exports, one would think that another would no longer be unexpected. And, as Bloomberg should know, a lower dollar and expansion abroad are both good for American exports.
- 5:36 AM, 12 September 2007 [link]
Why Haven't We Had Another Major Attack On The US Since 9/11? Judith Miller thinks she knows.
Why has al-Qa'eda not repeated the attacks it staged in New York and Washington six years ago to the day? Because it can't.She's probably right, but as she says later in the piece, we shouldn't be complacent about our success in avoiding another 9/11 attack.
- 4:59 PM, 11 September 2007 [link]
Obsession Now Available In Stores: The documentary on the threat of radical Islam that I wrote about last January is now available in stores, at Amazon, and, of course, directly from the producers. (I'll be buying at least two copies, maybe more.)
Cross posted at Sound Politics.
- 1:16 PM, 11 September 2007 [link]
Worth A Look: Today, Lucianne is showing one of the famous pictures of a 9/11 jumper, someone who chose to jump and die instantly, rather than slowly in the fire. They assume that you will not see that picture in your local paper or on TV, and I am sure they are right. (In fact, I had come to the same conclusion as Lucianne and had planned to scan the same picture from this book, so I could display it here this morning)
If you have a fast net connection, you may also want to look at this collection of 9/11 photos, though it will take some time to load.
- 6:05 AM, 11 September 2007 [link]
Profile In Some Courage: In my youth, the book, Profiles in Courage, was immensely influential. There was a lesson, most thought, in the stories the book told of eight senators — John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton, Sam Houston, Edmund G. Ross, Lucius Lamar, George Norris, and Robert A. Taft — who had gone against public opinion and, often, their parties, to do the right thing. Many thought then, as I still do, that the eight stories showed that sometimes the best thing an elected representative can do is to stand against the majority in his district, to defy rather than to follow public opinion, however difficult, or even dangerous, that may be.
Brian Baird, who represents the third district in Washington state, has not faced anything like the threats and hatred those eight senators did. But he has taken a stand that requires some courage, and he should be commended for that. As you probably know, Baird had opposed the war in Iraq from the very beginning, but, now, after a visit to Iraq, believes that we are making military progress and that General Petraeus and the troops deserve more time.
There is no reason to suspect that Congressman Baird has taken the stand for political advantage; in fact, there is every reason to think that he knows it will hurt him with some of his strongest supporters. He took this stand because he thought it was the right stand, for the United States and for Iraq. And I admire the courage he has shown in taking that stand.
Cross posted at Sound Politics.
(I did not mention the name of the author of Profiles in Courage because it is generally agreed that the man whose name is on the cover — John F. Kennedy — did not write the book. But it also generally agreed that he conceived it.There are some interesting similarities between Baird's position and Jack Kemp's.)
- 2:57 PM, 10 September 2007 [link]
Here's A Question For Clark Hoyt: In his latest column, the public editor at the New York Times begins with this:
Why doesn't The New York Times just come out and say that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is a liar?He then goes into a long discussion in which he makes it clear that he thinks that Gonzalez is a liar, but that the New York Times is right to not say that directly, at least in news stories. (By the way, he is responding to a question from NPR's Bob Garfield, which shows, again, how much NPR needs reform.)
Now for my question: Why doesn't the New York Times print letters that just come out and say that the editorial writers, or Paul Krugman, or Frank Rich, or Maureen Dowd, or one of the many other bad children at the Times are wrong? As they often are.
Note that I am not asking the Times to print letters saying that they are lying — though all of those I mentioned have less acquaintance with the truth than Alberto Gonzales. Instead, I am asking why the Times is unwilling to print letters from those who disagree with their positions. Most newspapers are willing to allow dissent in their letters page, but the Times censor, Thomas Feyer, suppresses almost all dissenting letters.
As I have said before, this is bad for the Times, because we usually learn of our mistakes from our opponents. By cutting off this feedback, the Times denies its miscreants a chance to learn from their mistakes. And that may help explain why those I have mentioned have gotten worse in recent years.
(So far Hoyt has proved to be a disappointment as public editor, though not a surprise. The first public editor at the Times, Daniel Okrent, improved the paper. The second, Byron Calame, did no great harm. (And he did publish some dissenting letters.) So far, Hoyt mostly seems worried about that the Times is not biased enough, as the Gonzalez column shows. But then he was chosen by Bill Keller, who has bizarre ideas about newspapers in a democratic society, so I didn't expect much from Hoyt.)
- 10:02 AM, 10 September 2007 [link]
Deborah Solomon Plugs Senator Dodd's Book: (And his presidential candidacy.) Or, I would say, his father's book.
Your new book, "Letters from Nuremberg," takes us back to the rubble of postwar Germany, when your father, former U.S. Senator Thomas J. Dodd, was a young attorney assigned to prosecute Nazi criminals. Why did you wait so long to publish his letters? I didn't find them until 1990. My sister had them in the basement of her house, and she gave them to my brother, and he gave them to me.(You'll notice that Christopher Dodd's answer is implausible. Maybe I am too suspicious, but I think this book may be part of his campaign for president, which explains why it is being published now, rather than, in say, 1991.)
After two sappy questions, the two combine to produce this:
You seem eager in the book to contrast the idealism of the American past with the moral disasters of the present. Nuremberg — say the word and it conjures images of moral authority, of global leadership, of responsibility. Say the words Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and what images come to mind?We had little choice about fighting World War II, but the idea that a war fought with Stalin as our ally was more idealistic than the war on terror is absurd. And it is simply a fact that we are treating the terrorists we capture now far better than we treated captured Germans and Japanese during World War II. Nor is there anything in our conduct of this war that compares with our attacks on Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki — however necessary those attacks may, or may not, have been.
And, while Solomon is discussing the idealism of the past, she might want to say a word or two about the later career of Thomas Dodd, who was censured by the Senate in 1967 for converting more than $100,000 of campaign funds to his personal use.
(In one way, Thomas Dodd was far superior to his son morally; he was a committed anti-Communist, unlike his son Christopher.)
- 8:51 AM, 10 September 2007 [link]
It's Wrong To Call Political Opponents Unpatriotic: Or even traitors. Unless you are the leftist group, MoveOn.
Tomorrow--as General David Petraeus provides his Iraq assessment to Congress--the antiwar group MoveOn.org is running a full-page advertisement in the New York Times under the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray us? Cooking the books for the White House."(This short piece was written yesterday, so the ad is appearing today.)
As Pete Hegseth explains just a few paragraphs down, MoveOn has allies.
MoveOn.org has been working closely with the Democratic congressional leadership --as an article in today's Sunday New York Times Magazine makes clear. And consider this comment by a Democratic senator from Friday's Politico: "'No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV,' noted one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. 'The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us.'(Here's the article Hegseth is referring to.)
Is MoveOn's ad acceptable to the Democrats in Congress? We'll be able to tell by their reaction. But I fear that anonymous Democratic senator speaks for most of them. If so, they will be delighted to have MoveOn slander an honorable man — if that helps their political objectives.
(Byron York reminds us just how extreme MoveOn is; their first reaction to the 9/11 attack was to oppose a military response.)
- 5:57 AM, 9 September 2007
Will Democrats condemn the ad? So far, most prominent Democrats have refused to condemn the ad. (Honorable exceptions: Senator Joe Lieberman (of course), Senator Joe Biden, and and Senator John Kerry.) Majority Leader Reid's reaction is typical:
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said while the ad gave Republicans "a new talking point," Reid would not be decrying the ad.Note that the spokesman begins (though he does say more) by complaining that the ad helps Republicans. That suggests what is most important to the majority leader.
- 8:32 AM, 11 September 2007 [link]
Gabriel Schoenfeld Takes A Look At The CIA's Report On Their 9/11 Failures: Michael Scheuer comes off poorly.
Who is to blame for the intelligence disaster of September 11? The sixth anniversary of the attacks is upon us, and the finger-pointing continues unabated. Last month the CIA reluctantly made public a summary of a 2005 report prepared by its Office of Inspector General (OIG) undertaken to determine if any agency employees "should be held accountable" for failing to forestall the worst attack on our homeland in our history. Among others, the report harshly judges the performance of former CIA director George Tenet, and the media have understandably focused on that. But how do other lower-level CIA officers come out? That is a question about which the press has been remarkably incurious.There's much more in the article, and hardly any of it will please Michael Scheuer. Like Richard Clarke, he has become an expert on terrorism without any known successes in the war on terrorism.
As Schoenfeld emphasizes, much of the report is redacted, so his conclusions about Scheuer must be tentative. But they are consistent with other, publicly available assessments of Scheuer's performance.
(If Scheuer did fail as badly as Schoenfeld suspects, then one would think that journalists would want to find other experts when they need a quote on the war on terror. What may keep him in their Rolodexes is that he has often been sharply critical of President Bush.
Earlier posts on Schoenfeld's work here and here.)
- 5:23 PM, 9 September 2007 [link]