December 2006, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

And Now For Something Frivolous:  Specifically, this analysis of Capitol Hill hair styles.  (I'm not sure whether they are right in their psychological arguments about which styles inspire trust; sometimes studies on such subjects are well done — and sometimes they aren't.)
- 8:08 AM, 29 December 2006   [link]

Gerald Ford Was A Decent And Often Underestimated Man:  He became president in the worst way, but served honorably, correcting some of his predecessor's errors and bringing many talented people into his administration.  He might have done even more had the Democrats not won so big a victory in the 1974 elections.

He was often underestimated by journalists because he did not have an easy way with words.  Some even thought this man, who had graduated in the top third of his law school class at Yale, was not smart.   And there were many who thought this man, who had been voted the most valuable player on the University of Michigan football team and who was skiing at Aspen when most men are retired, was clumsy.

Many journalists who underestimated Ford enjoyed quoting Lyndon Johnson's crude sneers at Ford, some of which you may have heard.  Few of them bothered to find out that Ford had been right and Johnson wrong in the policy conflicts that inspired the sneers.

Ford came closer to winning in 1976 than many realize.  He lost the popular vote to Carter by almost 1.7 million votes, but if he had carried Ohio, which he lost by 11,116 votes, and Hawaii, which he lost by 7,372 votes, he would have won election with 269 electoral votes to Carter's 268.

We have lost an honorable man who served his country well.

(For more on his life, you may want to see this Washington Post story, this Telegraph obituary (which includes Johnson's sneers, but not the fact they were wrong), or this Pajamas Media roundup.)
- 6:42 AM, 27 December 2006
Correction:  A sharp-eyed reader noted that I had written the 1994 elections, when I meant, of course, the 1974 elections.  I have corrected the mistake above.
- 11:15 AM, 27 December 2006
And still another correction:  Actually, he would have won election, not re-election, as I originally wrote.  And I have added two more links to more on President Ford,
- 5:53 AM, 28 December 2006   [link]

Jaffar Hani Is Right  to approve of this ruling.
An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday upheld a ruling to execute deposed leader Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity and said he could hang within 30 days.

"From tomorrow, any day could be the day of implementation," chief judge Aref Abdul-Razzaq al-Shahin said at a news conference in Baghdad.
Sounds good to me.  And I like the fact that he will be hanged, rather than shot, for reasons I explained here.

And Jaffar Hani?  He's one of the millions of Iraqis who are looking forward to this execution.

(Those who want to see still another example of bias will want to look at this New York Times article on the same subject.  The reporter, or perhaps I should say, the "reporter", Christine Hauser, mixed every bit of bad news from Iraq she could find into her article on the scheduled execution.   Does she have any idea how silly this makes her look?  Probably not.)
- 1:24 PM, 26 December 2006
Hundreds of Iraqis have already volunteered to be the hangman.  (Maybe they could select a group to do it jointly.)
- 5:43 AM, 28 2006   [link]

Christmas Hazards:  If you are a book lover, you probably know about one hazard that I worry about every year.  You like to buy books for other people, but when you go shopping, you inevitably find books that you want for yourself.  Once or twice, I must admit, I have gone into a bookstore to buy Christmas books for others — and ended up buying more books for myself than I bought for everyone else.

This year wasn't too bad — perhaps because my to-read stack is so large.  I found two books at a Half Price Books store, a so-so Poul Anderson novel, Byworlder, and a used copy of the . Roadside Geology of the Yellowstone Country.   Later, in a Barnes and Noble store, I couldn't resist Michael Lewis's Moneyball.

I don't regret any of the purchases.  Even so-so Anderson novels are pretty good.  I eventually plan to get all of the Roadside Geology guides.  Though I am only mildly interested in baseball, I am fascinated by the intelligent use of statistics to improve efficiency.   But I should have been finishing buying Christmas presents, instead of getting books for myself — as I tell myself every year.
- 12:42 PM, 26 December 2006   [link]

Leftist Bigotry Toward Iraqis:  Theodore Dalrymple spots a particularly clear example.
A headline in the British liberal newspaper, the Guardian, caught my eye recently: IRAQIS CAN'T BE BLAMED FOR THE CHAOS UNLEASHED BY INVASION.  The writer was that newspaper's veteran foreign correspondent, Jonathan Steele (another immortal headline to one of his articles, in May 2002, read: NEW YORK IS STARTING TO FEEL LIKE BREZHNEV'S MOSCOW).

Let us grant, for argument's sake, the article's premise: that American policy in Iraq has been naive, rash, foolish, precipitate, and culpable.  Yet still it would not follow that "Iraqis can't be blamed" and so forth, unless one also believed what not even the severest critics of the Bush administration have alleged—that the American army, or other agents of the American government, have desired, planned, and even executed the ongoing terrorist attacks in Baghdad.

The only other explanation of the non-culpability of Iraqis would be that they were not really full members of the human race—in other words, that they did not reflect upon their circumstances and act upon their reflections in the way that the fully responsible and therefore potentially culpable Americans do.
Steele is not the only leftist, or even the only leftist journalist who does not treat Iraqis as "full members of the human race".  In fact, his attitude is common on the left, and not just toward Iraqis.  If you are a member of what they consider a victim group, many leftists will not think that you are fully human, that you are responsible for your own choices, even if those choices include, for example, mass murder of innocent civilians.

That's bigotry, and crude bigotry at that.

(By way of Orrin Judd.

Here's the Guardian column if you want to look at it yourself.  I found the comments following it quite interesting, as a few commenters, notably "MarkGreen0", understand that Iraqis, like other human beings, can be held responsible for their actions.  Others are even more convinced than Steele that everything bad that happens in Iraq must be the fault of the United States and Britain.

Dalrymple heard many excuses as a prison doctor, an experience that he describes vividly in Life at the Bottom.   What kept so many of his patients at the bottom was their unwillingness to take responsibility for their own actions.  The leftist bigots who encouraged those on the bottom to see themselves as helpless victims did not do the underclass a favor.)
- 5:51 AM, 26 December 2006   [link]

Now They Tell Us:  The election is over, the Democrats won, and so now the Washington Post can remind us of what everyone in Washington, D. C. has known for years.  John Murtha is a sleazy politician.
For a quarter of a century, Carmen Scialabba labored for Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), helping parcel out the billions of dollars that came through the House Appropriations Committee, so when the disabled aide needed a favor, Murtha was there.

In 2001, Murtha announced the creation of Scialabba's nonprofit agency for the disabled in Johnstown, Pa.  The next year, with Scialabba still on his staff, Murtha secured a half-million dollars for the group, the Pennsylvania Association for Individuals With Disabilities (PAID), and put another $150,000 in the pipeline for 2003, according to appropriations committee records and former committee aides.  Since then, the group has helped hundreds of disabled people find work.

But the group serves another function as well.  PAID has become a gathering point for defense contractors and lobbyists with business before Murtha's defense appropriations subcommittee, and for Pennsylvania businesses and universities that have thrived on federal money obtained by Murtha.
What a great cover group!  If you worry about these connections, you can be accused of being mean to disabled people.

And there's much more in the article, enough to convince anyone that Murtha's relationship with PAID (what a great acronym) pays him very well, but cheats the taxpayer.

As I said, everyone in Washington, D. C. has known about the sleazy side of John Murtha for years.  Even so, Murtha was Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi's choice to be House majority leader.   Pelosi says she wants to clean the House.  Not all of us believe her.
- 5:06 AM, 26 December 2006   [link]

Merry Christmas!

(Or belated Happy Hanukkah, if that is what you were celebrating.)
- 1:25 PM, 25 December 2006   [link]