December 2007, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Happy New Year!  As the sun sets over Seattle.

Sunset over Seattle, October 2007

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(The picture was taken October 28th.  But Lake Washington will look about the same in an hour or so.)
- 3:11 PM, 31 December 2007   [link]

Maybe Obama Should Buy His Grandmother A Bigger Hut:  Even if he had to give up some arugula to pay for it.  That was my reaction to this curious story.
Barack Obama insists his experiences traveling and having family living overseas brings more to the table than, let's say, the job of a former first lady.

"It's that experience, that understanding, not just of what world leaders I went and talked to in the ambassadors house I had tea with, but understanding the lives of the people like my grandmother who lives in a tiny hut in Africa," Obama, D-Ill., told a crowd of would-be voters in Coralville, Iowa, on Friday.
At the very least, he should offer his grandmother some help.  Obama was never poor, and has been quite well off for years.

For the record, I don't think that having tea with his grandmother, or being a first lady, does much to prepare a person to be president.

(Similar thoughts here from Thomas Lifson and Bob McCarty.

In 1999, the per capita GDP in Kenya, where his grandmother lives, was about $360, so you should be able to buy a pretty nice hut there for just a few hundred dollars.  You might even be able to get her a house if you were willing to spend a few thousand dollars.)
- 10:52 AM, 30 December 2007   [link]

Oops!  Did we say the 18 feet?  We meant 12½.
The director of the zoo where a teenager was killed by an escaped tiger acknowledged Thursday that the wall around the animal's pen was just 12½ feet high — well below the height recommended by the accrediting agency for the nation's zoos.

San Francisco Zoo Director Manuel A. Mollinedo also admitted that it is becoming increasingly clear the 300-pound Siberian tiger leaped or climbed out of its open-air enclosure, perhaps by grabbing onto a ledge.

"She had to have jumped," he said.  "How she was able to jump that high is amazing to me."   Mollinedo said investigators have ruled out the theory the tiger escaped through a door behind the exhibit.
It shouldn't be amazing; a smaller cat, the cougar, can jump as high as 18 feet.

Apparently, the tiger didn't see any reason to leave her enclosure before, or didn't realize that she could.  Be interesting to know which of those two theories is correct.  (And she isn't the first big cat to be kept there, so her predecessors must have either wanted to stay, or not realized they could leave.  The last seems the most likely, given that the enclosure is almost 70 years old.)

(I learned just how high cougars could leap in 1998 when one started killing animals in a local game park, Northwest Trek.  The male cougar, which was eventually trapped, killed nine animals in the park, going over an 8 foot high fence to get at its prey.  Electrifying the fence didn't stop the animal.  Ironically, shortly after the cougar was captured and moved, it was killed by a car.)
- 1:28 PM, 29 December 2007   [link]

Not A Log Cabin:  But not a mansion, either.  A fire in an old Bush home reminds us that George H. W. Bush was not well off all his life, though he grew up in a wealthy family and ended up wealthy.
A home where President George W. Bush lived as a young boy with his parents in Odessa, Texas, and that is now part of a presidential museum there was damaged on Thursday by a fire that investigators blamed on arson.
. . .
The then 2-year-old Bush lived in the two-bedroom home from September 1948 to April 1949 with his father, former President George Bush, then a trainee for an oil company, and his mother, Barbara Bush.

The Bushes had come to Texas from the Northeastern United States after World War Two to get into the oil business.

The 800-square-foot (74-square-metre) wooden house was restored in 2004 and moved near the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library on the University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus.
800 square feet!  I can't remember living in a house that small, except when I was a poor graduate student.  The homes that the Bush family lived in during the next ten years or so were also modest, from what I have read about them.
- 9:23 AM, 28 December 2007   [link]

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated:  Exactly how she was killed is still uncertain.
The exact circumstances surrounding the assassination were still unclear.  Senior officials in Ms. Bhutto's party said she was leaving after addressing the rally and stood up in her car, putting her head through a window in the roof to wave at the crowd when she was hit in the head by a sniper in a nearby building.  Witnesses said that they heard two or three shots in total, and that the car moved on for another 50 yards before a suicide attacker blew himself up.

Other witnesses described a single assassin opening fire on Ms. Bhutto and her entourage, hitting her at least once in the neck and once in the chest, before blowing himself up.
Nor is it clear who ordered her assassination, though al Qaeda has already claimed "credit", according to some news reports.

For the moment what happened is so uncertain that I have little more to say, except for this:   Bhutto showed remarkable bravery, perhaps even recklessness, in returning to Pakistan to campaign for office.  We often complain about the faults of moderate Muslim leaders, but we should remember that many of them are risking their lives when they work with us.  We should not forget their courage, when we are assessing their careers.

(This bit from the Washington Post article on the assassination will give you and idea of just how brave she was:
Her father, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in 1979 by Pakistan's then dictator, Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq.  Benazir Bhutto, who was 26 at the time, was both toughened and inspired by his execution.  She survived numerous attempts on her own life.  Both of her brothers were assassinated years ago.
Numerous attempts.  But as the IRA once told Margaret Thatcher, after they just missed killing her, assassins only have to be lucky once.)
- 1:32 PM, 27 December 2007
More on Bhutto:  From Christopher Hitchens, who knew her, and to some extent admired her, without illusions.
- 9:05 AM, 28 December 2007   [link]

What Do The Palestinians Need?  According to Daniel Pipes, to accept defeat.
Palestinians must experience the bitter crucible of defeat before they will drop their foul goal of eliminating their Israeli neighbor and begin to build their own economy, polity, society, and culture.  No short-cut to this happy outcome exists. Who truly cares for Palestinians must want their despair to come quickly, so that a skilled and dignified people can move beyond its current barbarism and built something decent.
He's right, but it is almost illegal to say this, in polite circles.  But those who want the best for the Palestinians will want them to accept defeat — for their own good.
- 12:22 PM, 26 December 2007   [link]