December 2005, Part 2

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Perfect Horrors:  In my disaster tour posts, of which the last is here, I discussed the hazards of some of the Oregon volcanoes.  I don't plan any more posts in that series, at least this year, because I have run out of recent pictures of volcanoes that I want to show you.

But while I was doing the research for these posts, I ran across a description of a volcano that is literally hundreds of times more dangerous than those I discussed.  In their book, Roadside Geology of Idaho, geologists David Alt and Daniel Hyndman describe this well known volcano, in terms rather different from what you may have seen elsewhere:
The Yellowstone volcano is now directly over the hotspot, the mantle site of the meteorite impact.  it is one of the largest and most violent active volcanoes in the world, one of a small number of those rhyolite monsters know as resurgent calderas.  They are, by any standard, the most outrageous of volcanoes, perfect horrors.
. . .
So far, the Yellowstone resurgent caldera has gone into major eruption three times at intervals of approximately 600,00 years, most recently about 600,000 years ago.  That long lapse since the last major eruption gives little reason to assume that the volcano is finished, little cause for comfort.  Quite the contrary.  A large mass of molten magma, almost certainly rhyolite, now exists a few thousand feet beneath the park.  All the ingredients for a new eruption are in place.
. . .
No resurgent caldera has erupted during the period of written history; we have no eyewitness accounts that might tell us what to expect.  In fact, there would probably be some considerable difficulty in finding surviving eyewitnesses if one of those monsters were to erupt.  To get a rough idea, consider that the 1980 explosion of Mount St. Helens produced less than one-third of a cubic mile of rhyolite.  Compare that to the 200 or more cubic miles known to have blown from some resurgent calderas during a single eruption.  If the Yellowstone volcano does erupt again, it is likely to cause an absolutely apppalling natural disaster, one far greater than any in historically recorded human experience. (pp. 240-242)
Geologists can be a cheerful lot, don't you think?

Rhyolite eruptions, as you probably can guess from those excerpts, are incredibly explosive.

(The book is one of a series.  I have six others, the guides to Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.  Eventually, I plan to get all the books in the series.  If you are interested in geology, or just wonder about the rocks you see along the roads, you'll enjoy the guides.

The "meteorite impact" they mention deserves some explanation.  Alt and Hyndman believe, or at least believed when they wrote the guide to Idaho, that a large meteorite struck southeastern Oregon about 15 million years ago.  This impact started immense lava floods in eastern Oregon and Washington and the strange "basin and range" country to the south.  It created a "hot spot" like the one responsible for Hawaii.  As North America moved away from Europe, the area over the hot spot changed from southeastern Oregon to Yellowstone.

Are they right?  Do most geologists agree with their theory?  I have done some simple searches but found nothing that sheds light on either question.  Nearly all geologists believe that Yellowstone marks the eastern end of a hotspot track, but I doubt that the rest of their dramatic theory has the same level of agreement.)
- 2:27 PM, 16 December 2005   [link]

If You Can't Say Something Nice, then say nothing at all.   That, says the SoCalPundit, was how the leftist blogs decided to treat the Iraqi election.   Jeff Goldstein checked many of the most prominent leftist blogs and came to the same conclusion.  "Captain Ed" looked at the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post and found nothing on the Iraqi elections.   That piqued my curiosity, so I looked at today's editorial pages in the Seattle papers.  In the Seattle PI, I found — nothing.   In the Seattle Times, I found — nothing.

(And yesterday, the Seattle Times lead story was on polar bears, which are, supposedly, drowning off Alaska because of global warming.  Their story on the Iraqi elections was at the bottom of the front page and began with speculation about a civil war.  There are times when I wonder whether Michael Fancher, the executive editor of the Seattle Times, is deliberately trying to decrease circulation.)

And to give credit where credit is due, the major networks gave the Iraqi elections positive coverage last night, according to Media Research.  That was the impression I got when I was channel surfing last night.  But it would be naive to expect this positive attitude at the networks to last long.

(Mark Finkelstein shows how the "mainstream" media might change the subject.
It was the MSM's worst nightmare-in-the-making.  A day, maybe more, of nothing but jubilant Iraqis waving those damn purple fingers, some of them no doubt soppily shouting "thank you, Mr. Bush!"   Ugh. Can't let that happen.

Don't worry, MSM: the New York Times, with a nice assist from the Washington Post, have got your back.

The Times has admitted that the story on alleged US spying on Al-Qaida-linked phone numbers in the US has been embargoed for a year.  So when do the Times and the WaPo choose to break it?  Why, today of course, just in time to rain on the Iraqi election good-news parade.
Is he right about the timing?  Well, we can't prove that he is, but it is suspicious.  About one thing we can be certain, though.  No one at either newspaper will call for an investigation of these leaks, which may have done serious damage to our nation's security.)
- 8:38 AM, 16 December 2005   [link]

Wonder Where  those anti-Christian fish magnets came from?  They are sold by a company called Reefer Magnets.   The owner of the company has the views one would expect from the name of her company.  And the activist who created the design has curious fears.
"We don't need to be in a war for oil because we have industrial hemp," [owner Allison] Bigelow said.  "If you look into all the little things that hemp can do, you'll understand.  We wouldn't be killing people for oil."

This latest ichthys parody was created by a Seattle activist who wanted not to be named.  He said he feared for the safety of his cats if the controversy grew out of control.
At one time, those opposed to marijuana argued that it caused long term brain damage.  Some will take Ms. Bigelow's views as evidence for that argument.  (Since I haven't checked the latest scientific studies on the subject, I won't venture an opinion on whether her curious views may be due, in part, to marijuana use.)

As for the activist, he lives in Seattle, a city where there is political violence from time to time — almost all of it by leftists.  But even they, as far as I know, have not attacked cats, at least for political reasons.
- 7:54 AM, 16 December 2005   [link]

Kudos To Senator Cantwell:  For supporting the liberation of Iraq and for supporting today's election in Iraq.

"People obviously are excited about (the) election and the fact it is happening," Cantwell said in a telephone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press after she arrived in Baghdad with three other U.S. senators.

"It's a very historic moment," Cantwell said.  "Let's hope that it's a down payment on some challenging but (ultimately) some more successful days of an Iraqi government stepping out front."
. . .
Lawmakers have been wearing full flak jackets and helmets since their arrival and expected to wear them throughout the three-day visit, she said.  Still, Cantwell said she was thrilled at the opportunity to witness history.

"We think of elections in the U.S. and we're used to them," she said.  But in Iraq, people have been killed simply putting up posters encouraging others to vote.

"I am grateful to be here. It's an incredible thing to witness," she said.

Would that more Washington state Democrats had the same enthusiasm for the spread of democracy to a Middle East country — even if President Bush supports it.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(Don't worry.  Although I think Cantwell is (mostly) right on this issue, I differ with her on enough other issues so that I will almost certainly vote for her Republican opponent next year.   Right now it appears that her opponent will be Mike McGavick, who would be preferable to Cantwell for many reasons.  I think it fair to say that he would not, for example, have co-sponsored the "Motor Voter" Act, or as I like to call it, the "Motor Cheater" Act.

By the way, I plan to do a series of posts on Cantwell's record next year.  If you have any information on her political or business careers, feel free to send it to me.  I am especially interested in stories about her work for Jerry Springer (yes, that Jerry Springer) and her work for the ethically challenged California senator, Alan Cranston.)
- 12:51 PM, 15 December 2005   [link]

Did Saddam's WMDs Go To Syria?  There have been reports that Saddam hid his weapons in the neighboring Baathist state, reports that began before the liberation of Iraq.   And, as far as I can tell, there is no doubt that a large number of trucks moved something from Iraq to Syria just before the fighting began.

But what?  The former head of the Israeli defense forces thinks he knows.
Saddam Hussein moved his chemical weapons to Syria six weeks before the war started, Israel's top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom says.

The assertion comes as President Bush said yesterday that much of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was incorrect.

The Israeli officer, Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon, asserted that Saddam spirited his chemical weapons out of the country on the eve of the war.  "He transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria," General Yaalon told The New York Sun over dinner in New York on Tuesday night.  "No one went to Syria to find it.
There is nothing implausible about his conclusion.  It is supported, as I said, by circumstantial evidence, the fact that something was transferred to Syria.  It would be consistent with Saddam's behavior during the first Gulf War, when he tried to hide some of his air force in Iran.  And it is a fact that Israel has its own sources on intelligence in the Arab world, including, almost certainly, in the Syrian government.

So the conclusion is plausible (as is the possibility that Saddam hid some part of his weapons somewhere in Iraq), but somehow it is not a subject fit for discussion in our "mainstream" media.   Discussing General Yaalon's conclusion would spoil, I suppose, their preferred story, that the Bush administration "lied" about Iraq.
- 10:29 AM, 15 December 2005   [link]

Screech And Chong:  Maybe we can replace the those drug sniffing dogs with owls.  
Veterinary staff members from Pelican Man's Bird Sanctuary were a little surprised when they were recently called to rescue a screech owl found perched in a Christmas tree that had been inside a house for five days.

But the story got stranger still when medical staff examined the owl back at the sanctuary's hospital and noticed a sweet smoky smell coming from the bird.
And the smell was from marijuana, as blood tests showed.  I thought owls were pure carnivores.   It seems unlikely, but maybe this one caught a mouse just after it had been feeding on the plant.

(No political point, but I found the story funny — and a little puzzling.)
- 10:04 AM, 15 December 2005   [link]

Katie Couric Wasn't Happy About The Iraqi Election:  After watching her anger and despair after the 2004 US election, I was curious to see how Couric reacted to the Iraqi election, which appears to be another victory for President Bush.  This morning, judging from her appearance, she was unhappy and angry, but not suicidal, as she appeared to be after the November, 2004 results.  Her co-anchor, Matt Lauer, and the NBC Baghdad correspondent, Richard Engel, were not as obvious with their reactions to the Iraqi election, but it is fair to say that neither was happy about this great step forward for democracy.

What a terrible thing it must be to be so trapped by partisanship that you can not enjoy a free election in an area that has had so few of them.

(Media Research has a telling story about Engel, which reveals much about the NBC correspondent.
NBC's Richard Engel conceded on Tuesday's Today that he rarely gets to report on the heroics of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, but he did this one time because those heroics saved him.  Recounting how the Army unit with whom he was traveling came under attack, Engel noted how a soldier "actually stepped right in front of me protecting me with his body and started to return fire at the insurgents.
American soldiers may have saved his life, but Engel still won't give them much recognition of their many achievements.)
- 7:56 AM, 15 December 2005   [link]

The Iraqi Election  is the big story today, and, most likely, the big story of the year.  Pajamas Media is promising live coverage from Iraqi bloggers all through the day.  I know I'll be checking their site frequently.
- 7:29 AM, 15 December 2005   [link]

The World Could Use More  of these efforts.
Volunteers from Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation will guard churches across the world's most populous Muslim nation on Christmas amid fears of terrorist attacks on those places, the group said on Friday.

Jakarta police have said they would boost security in the capital ahead of Christmas to avoid a repeat of 2000 Christmas Eve bombings on churches in several Indonesian cities, including in the country's capital.
In this area, when a vandal attacked a mosque, some Christian churches made a similar offer of help.   I believe, though I haven't checked, that there were similar offers of help in many other American cities.
- 10:29 AM, 14 December 2005   [link]

Gerhard Schroeder's Sellout:  That's the Washington Post's title for their editorial, not mine.  But if you read the editorial, you will probably agree with their title.
But when Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, announced last week that he was going to work for Gazprom, the Russian energy behemoth, he catapulted himself into a different league.  It's one thing for a legislator to resign his job, leave his committee chairmanship and go to work for a company over whose industry he once had jurisdiction.  It's quite another thing when the chancellor of Germany -- one of the world's largest economies -- leaves his job and goes to work for a company controlled by the Russian government that is helping to build a Baltic Sea gas pipeline that he championed while in office.  To make the decision even more unpalatable, it turns out that the chief executive of the pipeline consortium is none other than a former East German secret police officer who was friendly with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, back when Mr. Putin was a KGB agent in East Germany.
And there are strategic reasons to worry about this project, as the editorial goes on to explain.

(Davids Medienkritik has some commentary, as you would expect.  Apparently the former chancellor is threatening to sue anyone who raises questions about this deal.  He once threatened to sue over a report that he dyed his hair, so he can be touchy.)
- 10:18 AM, 14 December 2005   [link]

Paul Berendt Says he's sorry about the anti-Christian fish magnet the Washington state Democrats were, briefly, offering for sale.

The item — a magnetic version of the fish, emblazoned with flames and the word "Hypocrite" alongside a cross — appeared last week on the Democrats' Web site.  It was displayed along with other political-message magnets, bumper stickers and buttons that the party sells.

State Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt said he first found out about the hypocrite fish posting on Friday when someone from KIRO radio called to ask him to go on the air to give an explanation.

"The moment I became aware of it, I insisted it be taken down," Berendt said Tuesday. "I'm sorry if anyone was offended. It's embarrassing."

He's sorry if anyone was offended, but not sorry enough to put up an apology on the Democrats' web site, or to even to apologize directly to those offended.  Nor does he mention any discipline for the Democrat who put this up, not even a reprimand.  The cynical will suspect that Berendt is truly sorry — sorry he got caught.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(The Democrats' calendar shows an interesting ambivalence on the Christmas/holiday problem.  If I read it correctly, the Pierce County Democrats are having separate holiday and Christmas parties — in the same place and at almost the same time.  Not sure how that works.

Finally, though it has been many years since I donated to a Democratic candidate, I would be happy to give the Washington state Democrats an apostrophe.)
- 6:06 AM, 14 December 2005   [link]

Elections In Iraq, But Not In New Orleans?  This is strange.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco has postponed the New Orleans mayoral election, setting up a legal battle with voters who filed a lawsuit seeking to ensure the election is held as scheduled in February.

In an executive order, Blanco cited the recommendation of Secretary of State Al Ater, the state's top election official, who has said the city is incapable of holding elections in February because Hurricane Katrina caused so much damage to polling sites and voting machines.  Blanco did not set a new date for the elections; her order says they should be held "as soon as practicable."
Since this is Louisiana, I can not help but wonder whether she and her administration fear that the election would hurt them, by publicizing their failures during Katrina, by electing the "wrong" people, or both.
- 5:22 PM, 13 December 2005   [link]

Intimidating Journalists:  As I mentioned in this post, our enemies often intimidate journalists.   By way of Natalie Solent, I found this example
It happened in 2002, at the height of the Israeli anti-terrorist action on the West Bank, following a whole series of suicide bombs that had rocked Israel and murdered hundreds.

One of the Palestinian terror groups was filmed by a Palestinian cameraman seizing and summarily executing a teenage Palestinian boy who they deemed to have collaborated with Israel.  The Palestinian cameraman was hidden, and was able to film the whole incident without being seen.
(She says "executing"; I would say murdering.)

What happened to that film?  The cameraman suppressed it, in part for fear of his life, an entirely rational fear.  When you see video or read stories from the Middle East, you should remember that we do not see or read some stories because the journalists who have them would be murdered if they broadcast or published those stories.

I may be wrong, but I think that intimidation is a far larger problem than the possibility that the United States may have paid for some (true) stories in the Iraqi press.
- 10:46 AM, 13 December 2005   [link]

Four Victims, Or Thousands?  Last night, after decades of appeals, the founder of the Crips street gang, Stanley "Tookie" Williams was executed for four cold-blooded murders.   But I have never thought that those four were his only victims, and the California attorney general agrees.
The California Attorney General's Office estimates 10,000 deaths statewide from gang warfare from 1981 to 2001, 75 percent of those in Los Angeles.  In a letter discouraging clemency for Williams, District Attorney Steve Cooley said the Crips have "been responsible for literally thousands of murders in Los Angeles County alone."
The war, or wars, that Tookie started probably caused more American deaths than the current Iraq war.  Most of the dead were young black men, and most of the damage from these gang wars was to the black communities that the gangs terrorized.

Bridget Johnson, who wrote the piece I linked to, grew up in a neighborhood terrorized by those gangs.   She ends with this sad thought:
I've heard about a more peaceful time on my native turf from older generations.  I would have liked to have seen it myself.
And the execution of Williams may help bring some peace to Los Angeles.  As I explained in this post, I believe that the death penalty is a deterrent, though I admit that the argument on that point is not closed.

(For more, see these posts by "Baldilocks" and La Shawn Barber.)
- 9:16 AM, 13 December 2005   [link]

Urban Imperialists:  That's the term I have started using for environmentalists from urban areas who want to set policy for those in rural areas, without consulting them, or even taking the time to really understand the problems.  As it turns out, there are some authorities who share my view, though they may not use my phrase.
People living in towns and cities are dominating the environmental debate and overlook the opinion of rural dwellers, a leading botanist has said.

Sir Peter Crane, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London, said the urban view of the natural world was often at odds with the issues facing people living in rural areas.
As examples, he gives the plague of deer around American cities (he says in the mid-West, but I think our Northeast would provide better examples) and the suppression of fire in some forests, where it is part of the natural cycle.

Sir Peter was speaking to delegates to the International Media and Environment Summit.  Other speakers there made similar points.  I was amused, but not surprised to see that New Zealand is plagued by some of the same big tree worship — and I don't say "worship" casually — that has been a problem in the United States.

In my experience, urban imperialists have trouble grasping two simple ideas:  Most people in in rural areas want to take care of where they live, and may understand better how to do that than people who live in cities.
- 5:05 PM, 12 December 2005   [link]

Science Bits:  (I've put those from last Tuesday's New York Times first, since they will expire tomorrow.)
  • Dr. Stone Freedberg, at age 97, still wonders what would have happened if his early research showing a connection between stomach ulcers and bacteria had been accepted.   (There is a similar example that I have wondered for many years.  A French researcher discovered the antibacterial of action of the penicillium mold more than a decade before Fleming.  But for some reason, perhaps World War I, his findings drew no great attention.)

  • Treatments with the fat regulating hormone leptin may help people keep weight off after they lose it.

  • Dinosaur hunter Martin Whyte, while walking along the Scottish coast, found the tracks of a giant scorpion, about five feet long.  Fortunately for us, it lived 330 million years ago.  (At the same link, you will find brief items on methanogens, clay on Mars, and a really great picture of the Crab Nebula.)

  • According to a new study, sudden infant deaths can be cut 90 percent by using — pacifiers.

  • Boys and girls like different toys.   Boy and girl monkeys, that is.  And the differences the researchers found will not surprise most mothers, especially mothers who have both sons and daughters.

  • Health officials worry that bans on the use of thimerosal may make it difficult to fight avian flu.

  • Biodiesel can't replace fossil fuel.  Who says so?  One of the farthest left columnists at the Guardian.   My own view is that biodiesel makes sense on a small scale, when we get the fuel from waste products, but probably not otherwise.

  • A new mammal has been discovered, or at least photographed, in Borneo.

  • Did an enormous volcano clear the earth for the dinosaurs?  There were dinosaurs in all three periods of the Mesozoic era*, the Triassic, the Jurassic, and the Cretaceous.  They began in the middle of the Triassic and flourished in the two following periods.  They were able to do so, in part, because of the great die off at the end of the Permian period, which preceded the Triassic.  Now geologists believe they have found chemical evidence for the theory that a vast Siberian volcano caused that die off.  (This finding is of special interest here in the Northwest, since there was a similar volcano covering eastern Washington and Oregon millions of years ago.)

  • Lichens can survive space travel.   We already knew that bacteria could, but lichens are far more advanced than bacteria.  In fact, like us, those light green patches one often sees on rocks are eukaryotes, or to be more specific, symbiotic eukaryotes that include both fungi and algae.
(*Need a review of the terminology?  Geologists usually classify time into four great eras, Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic.  Within these eras, are periods.  The most recent are the Permian, the Triassic, the Jurassic, the Cretaceous, the Tertiary, and the Quaternary.  And then, in most cases, there are "ages" within those periods.)
- 1:51 PM, 12 December 2005
Jay Manifold has more on the Crab Nebula picture, including this interesting detail: Each of the roughly 15 million pixels in the picture is 2.5 billion kilometers across.
- 11:05 AM, 13 December 2005   [link]

Bush Is Right About Iraq — BBC:  Yes, the often anti-American, and almost always anti-Bush, broadcaster really did say that, in an article discussing the results of a poll they (along with ABC) did in Iraq.
The findings are more in line with the kind of arguments currently being deployed by US President George W Bush, he [BBC World Affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds] says.
(Don't they have copy editors at the BBC?  That's a terrible sentence.)

Here are some of the results that led Reynolds to that conclusion:
An opinion poll suggests Iraqis are generally optimistic about their lives, in spite of the violence that has plagued Iraq since the US-led invasion.
. . .
Interviewers found that 71% of those questioned said things were currently very or quite good in their personal lives, while 29% found their lives very or quite bad.

When asked whether their lives would improve in the coming year, 64% said things would be better and 12% said they expected things to be worse.

However, Iraqis appear to have a more negative view of the overall situation in their country, with 53% answering that the situation is bad, and 44% saying it is good.

But they were more hopeful for the future - 69% expect Iraq to improve, while 11% say it will worsen.
It sometimes seems as if the only people optimistic about Iraq are the Bush administration and their supporters, the American military — and the Iraqi people.  I suppose the latter two groups must be discounted since they are, after all, much too close to the situation.  How, for instance, can a resident of Mosul possibly know as much about his own situation as, say, a professor in Massachusetts?

(I can't help wondering whether this poll pleased or dismayed Democratic chairman Howard Dean, and those who share his views.  My guess is that, if asked, he (and they) will simply dismiss the poll findings.)
- 7:00 AM, 12 December 2005
More:  Here's the ABC story on the poll.   One interesting detail: 61 percent of Iraqis feel safe in their own neighborhoods, up sharply in the last year and a half.
- 4:33 PM, 12 December 2005   [link]

Paul Greenberg Is Shocked! Shocked!  After learning that the United States has been trying to get our message across in Iraq, in a variety of ways, not all of them approved by most American journalists.
What's this?  The Pentagon is planting pro-American, anti-terrorist stories in the Iraqi press?  It's even paying Iraqi papers to print them — either as advertisements or editorials, and sometimes without revealing the source.  There are even reports that foreign journalists might be on the American payroll!
Well, actually he is not shocked, because he knows a bit about the history of the Cold War, in particular the Congress for Cultural Freedom, which battled communism all over the world.
There was no need to go into detail about just who was putting up the money for this counter-offensive in the war of ideas: the American taxpayer.  And this was just the start.  At its peak, to quote one historian, the Congress for Cultural Freedom "had offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, published over twenty prestige magazines, held art exhibitions, owned a news and feature service, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances."

The Congress was particularly interested in promoting left-wing anti-Communists, a la George Orwell, who was happy to cooperate with British intelligence.  In Europe, it recruited Andre Malraux, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone and Stephen Spender — some of the most prominent literati of the time.
. . .
The Congress' finest product had to be Encounter magazine, a vigorous proponent of free thought (so long as the thought wasn't critical of American foreign policy). Some of us still miss it.
What you should also know is that the CIA, which was paying the bills for this effort, was joining an old game, not creating a new one.  European governments had, for centuries, tried to influence the press in other countries.  And probably still do.  In an ideal world would this happen?  Of course not.  But, in the real world, where our enemies bribe and intimidate journalists, we are justified in countering them in various ways, though as Greenberg says, we should be careful not to get caught.

And I should add that, just as a practical matter, sometimes the best way to do these things is right out in the open.  The Voice of America has had some success in spreading our views and has always been in the open.

(During the 1950s and most of the 1960s, it was taken for granted that American liberals (and European social democrats) opposed communism and other totalitarian movements.  Though critical, often for good reason, of flaws in Western society, they still saw it as vastly preferable to its enemies.  Now, many on the left define their views mostly by hostility to conservatives, to the West, or perhaps to traditional religious leaders, rather than some positive view of society.  That leads them, often, into strange tactical alliances with communists, radical Islamists or other anti-Western groups.  It is that shift that leads me to call many "leftists", rather than "liberals".)
- 5:51 AM, 12 December 2005   [link]

Fishy Fund Raising:  Briefly, the Washington state Democratic party was selling this magnetic Christian fish symbol on its site, along with the ribbons that you can still see there.

Somehow I don't think this particular fish was intended to honor Christians, given the "hypocrite" message and what I suppose are hellish flames.

This saddens but does not surprise me.  Three years I wrote about the dislike many of the delegates to the 1992 Democratic convention felt toward those on the fundamentalists.

The secularists, especially in the [Democratic] leadership, have a hostility toward fundamentalists that comes close to bigotry, and may sometimes cross that line.  Delegates to the 1992 Democratic convention gave fundamentalists an average score of 11 on a 0 to 100 warmth scale.  (By contrast, conservatives got a 34 from the same delegates.)  This was the coldest view toward any group by the delegates at either convention.  More than half of the Democratic delegates gave Christian fundamentalists a 0 score, rating them, in effect, with Hitler and Stalin.  (Well, perhaps not with Stalin.  It is not a big secret that there are still people in the Democratic party with some warmth toward socialist experiments.)  What makes these low ratings even more striking is that they come from political people, who one would think would be inclined to like, or pretend to like, every potential voter.

This intense dislike by many in the Democratic party for fundamentalists (or evangelicals, or the religious right) has helped the Republican party in some elections.  But I think, as I said in this post where I compared the Democrats to the French Radical Socialists, that it has been bad for the nation.  I hope that the state Democrats apologize for this.  And I think they should show they are serious about the apology by firing the person responsible.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(Thanks to local blogger "DunnerMeister" for spotting this fish, and to World Net Daily for publicizing it.  Like DunnerMeister, I wonder whether this story will get picked up by the local TV stations or the Seattle newspapers.

The fish isn't the only nasty thing for sale at the Democratic site, as you can see here.  The state Republican site is more positive and less commercial.)
- 1:40 PM, 11 December 2005
More:  If you want more data on these questions, see this article by Bolce and De Maio.
- 4:01 PM, 11 December 2005   [link]

Give CNN The News First:  What political leader planned to use that tactic if something embarrassing was uncovered?  Bill Clinton?  After all, the network did get nicknamed the "Clinton News Network", and Clinton once promised Monica Lewinsky a job there — without first checking with the network.  Perhaps, but he isn't the only leader who thought CNN would be the best way to put out his version of a story.

Stephen Hayes has been trying, without success, to get access to captured Iraqi documents.   In the course of that effort, he has gotten descriptions of some of the documents, including this one.
Title: Presidential instruction from Hussein concerning mass graves in southern Iraq, and how to handle the PR/media fallout.

Description: Concerning mass graves found in the south: Check for nuclear radiation, identify bodies, ensure that CNN is the first news agency onsite.
Hayes explains the likely purpose of this document:
Presumably, this was a plan to blame any mass graves on deaths supposedly caused by depleted-uranium artillery shells used by U.S. forces in the first Gulf War--a favorite talking point of the pro-Saddam left in the 1990s.
So, most likely, Saddam Hussein was planning to blame some of his mass murders on depleted uranium from the first Gulf War.  And who did he plan to use to get that message out?  CNN.

(Bribery of journalists is, as far as I can tell, a nearly universal practice in the Middle East.   And Saddam, as we know from partial accounts, practiced this art vigorously.  It would be foolish to think that he did not try to bribe Western journalists, and naive to think that he did not succeed with a few.  As far as I know, no major news organization has investigated its own journalists to see whether any were corrupted by Saddam.)
- 7:24 AM, 11 December 2005   [link]

It Is Hard To Feel Sorry For Some Defendants:  Such as this one, for instance.
"We were detained by one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet it was only after four months in detention that they gave me cigarettes," said Barzan [Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam's former intelligence chief], charged with crimes against humanity.

"And then they were of the worst quality in the world."
But I am sure that at least a few will believe that this inhumane treatment requires that we apologize and turn Barzan loose.
- 1:19 PM, 9 December 2005   [link]

Minorities NOT Hardest Hit:  At least not by Katrina in New Orleans.   If the storm had killed randomly, about 68 percent of the victims would have been African-American.   In fact, only 48 percent were.  Caucasians were over represented among the victims.  Why?   If I had to guess, I would say it was because so many of the victims were in nursing homes, and the residents of those homes are disproportionately white.

(There may be one or two people who have missed the joke that I refer to in a headline.  It is told about many newspapers, but in this country, most often about the New York Times and the Washington Post.  The newspaper learns that an enormous asteroid (or some similar disaster) will hit the earth tomorrow and runs this headline: "World Ends Tomorrow, Women and Minorities Hardest Hit".)
- 8:53 AM, 9 December 2005   [link]