January 2008, Part 4
Jim Miller on Politics
If I Were Running Obama's Campaign, I would claim that he had been mis-translated.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told a French magazine in an interview that if he wins office, he will hold a summit with Muslim countries to better the United States' image in the world.Or that he had suffered from temporary insanity. Because this idea is insane. I can only hope that he doesn't believe it himself and is just trying to con Democratic voters.
Let me begin with the obvious. Obama is, formally, a Christian. (He is also, by some standards, an apostate Muslim — which carries a death penalty in many Muslim countries.) For a Christian leader to summon Muslim leaders to a summit would be seen as incredibly demeaning, by many Muslims.
And then there are the seating problems. Most Muslim countries have Sunni majorities; some have Shiite majorities. Would there be separate seating for the two warring sects? And many Muslim countries have a small grievance or two with other Muslim countries. It would be a mistake, for instance, to seat Pakistan next to Bangladesh.
But all these — and many more practical objections — are small considering the grandiose stupidity of his central idea, that our differences with radical Muslims can be worked out in an "honest discussion". A significant minority in the Muslim world does not want to talk to us, but wants us to submit and, preferably, convert. Most Muslims do not want that, but most Muslims are not our problem. Our strategy must be to separate the radicals from the moderates, not to unite all Muslims to demand things from us.
Finally, let me note how demeaning that next-to-the-last sentence is. Millions of Muslims have joined the fight against terrorism, and thousands of them have died fighting against it. Almost every Muslim nation has helped us in some ways in the fight against terrorism, though some have simultaneously undermined us at the same time.
To imply, as Obama does, that Muslims have not fought against terrorism is disgraceful. In fact, as everyone knows, or should know, moderate Muslims have been the principal victims of Muslim extremists.
(I was reminded of this bizarre Obama campaign promise by this post, which calls his promise "pre-emptive appeasement". That seems about right to me.)
- 4:30 PM, 31 January 2008 [link]
Snowy Winter: You have probably seen those reports about snow in Baghdad and Jerusalem, but unless you live in this area, you may not have heard about the snow in Washington state, especially in our mountain passes.
Interstate 90 will remain closed over Snoqualmie Pass at least until 9 a.m. Friday, state transportation officials said today.I mention this not because most of you have any great reason to care about the weather here, but because, when we had a shortage of snow in recent years, many saw that as evidence of man-caused global warming. So far, I haven't seen any of those people say that this snowfall is evidence of global cooling, man-caused, or otherwise.
And I am glad they haven't because this is well within the normal variation in weather in this area. But I wish those believers in man-caused global warming were a little less certain that every warm or dry spell is evidence for their views.
(As always when I mention global warming, I urge you to read my disclaimer, if you haven't already done so.
For cross country skiers like myself, all this snow is gratifying — and, temporarily, frustrating. There is plenty of snow, but much of it is, for the moment, inaccessible.)
- 1:50 PM, 31 January 2008
Update: The snow just keeps coming.
The National Weather Service said that as of today, 130 inches of snow have fallen at Snoqualmie Pass, 165 percent of the normal 79 inches. The record was 154 inches set in 1964.And the snow is beginning to have significant (if short term) effects on the state's economy.
- 2:31 PM, 1 Februrary 2008 [link]
Barack Obama Wins Another Contest: The National Journal has just named him the most liberal senator in 2007. (Or, as I would say, the farthest left senator.)
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was the most liberal senator in 2007, according to National Journal's 27th annual vote ratings. The insurgent presidential candidate shifted further to the left last year in the run-up to the primaries, after ranking as the 16th- and 10th-most-liberal during his first two years in the Senate.He beat some tough competition, notably socialist Bernie Sanders.
In 2007, Obama's composite liberal score of 95.5 was the highest in the Senate. Rounding out the top five most liberal senators last year were Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., with a composite liberal score of 94.3; Joseph Biden, D-Del., with a 94.2; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., with a 93.7; and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., with a 92.8.(Incidentally, Sanders calls himself a socialist.)
According to the Journal, Obama was considerably more moderate in his first two years in the Senate, 2005 and 2006. Did he shift to the left in order to appeal to Democratic activists in the nominating contest? That's what the Journal suggests.
(Minor technical point: Unlike most other rating organizations, the Journal gives three separate ratings, for economics, social policy, and foreign policy. They also combine the three for a composite rating, which is what they are using in that paragraph above. Obama had perfect ratings on economic and social liberalism, and missed by one vote having a perfect leftist score on foreign policy. He voted for a sense of the Senate resolution saying that funds should not be cut for US troops in harm's way. Amazingly, sixteen senators voted against that resolution.)
- 12:58 PM, 31 January 2008 [link]
Another Friend Of Bill: Does very well.
Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.And then helps Bill.
Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton's charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra's more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton's inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges.Clinton helps Nazarbayev. (Who is not the world's most democratic leader.) Nazarbayev helps Giustra. And Giustra helps Clinton. Probably nothing illegal about any of the transactions, at least in the United States, but this helpful circle does not smell sweet.
This is not the first time that Clinton has benefited from overseas connections. And we can be sure that Nazarbayev, and other foreign friends of Bill, know that he is the spouse of the leading Democratic candidate for president, which makes matters even worse.
- 9:30 AM, 31 January 2008 [link]
The Instapundit reviews the little Asus Eee PC. He likes it and thinks it a good tool for "surfing, blogging and reading e-mail". (Though I should add that his blog posts are generally quite short, so he wouldn't be as limited by the small screen as other, more verbose bloggers.) Women, he says, seem especially attracted to it, in part because it is small enough to fit into most purses.
(Here's my earlier post on the nine inch wide laptop.)
- 5:50 PM, 30 January 2008 [link]
Washington State Republicans Trust The Voters: At least half way. But Washington state Democrats trust the voters not at all.
I say "at least" because the legislators now looking for ways to reign in our initiatives are all (almost all?) Democrats. So Republicans here are willing to let voters choose half the delegates to the national convention — and are willing to let voters pass initiatives on many subjects.
In contrast, Democrats here are unwilling to let voters choose any delegates to their national convention, and are increasingly critical of citizen initiatives.
It isn't hard to see which party has more faith in Washington's voters.
Cross posted at Sound Politics.
(I have to wonder whether state Democratic chairman Dwight Pelz's distrust of the voters, and his preference for deciding things within the party, isn't related to his fondness for Castro's Cuba, where the voters are allowed, from time to time, to ratify the decisions made by the ruling communist party. It would be interesting if some "mainstream" reporter asked Mr. Pelz why he is so fond of that brutal dictatorship some time, but I am not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.choosing delegates to the national conventions.)
- 4:20 PM, 30 January 2008 [link]
I Won't Miss John Edwards: Now that he is leaving the race. Here's what the New York Times had to say about his exit:
The Associated Press also gave Edwards a positive sendoff.
And in between those two runs, what did he do? Among other things, he joined a hedge fund that made investments of the type he condemned during this last campaign. Joining the hedge fund was consistent with his behavior in the Senate, where he spent much of his time investing in companies that did things he deplored on the campaign trail. He spent six years in the Senate — and accomplished nothing for the "powerless" while he was there.
But what he did does not seem to matter to most on the left. This morning, I heard a local left-wing talk show host (and former Democratic congressional candidate), Dave Ross, say that Edwards really cared about the poor. Here's a hint for Ross and others with the same view: A man who really cared about the poor would have done something for them sometime during his life, not just talked about them during a campaign. And it is embarrassing to remind Ross of this, but Edwards made his millions by persuading juries, using arguments that, in some cases, he must have known were false.
Nor do these leftists seem much bothered by the gap between how Edwards voted as a senator, and what he was promising during this last campaign.
So I won't miss him, and no decent person should, either. But we should worry about the large number of people who were willing to accept his words during this campaign, without ever asking whether he had done anything for those he claims to care about.Cross posted at Sound Politics.
- 1:35 PM, 30 January 2008 [link]
McCain Can Win, Romney Can't: That's Dick Morris's conclusion. (He is assuming that Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. It isn't clear to me whether the same analysis would hold if Obama were to be the Democratic nominee. And that could happen, though I would say that the odds are against it.)
Here's a sample of Morris's analysis.
McCain's co-sponsorship with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) of legislation to prevent global warming, his opposition to torture or waterboarding in terrorist interrogations, his support for campaign finance reform, his backing for regulation of tobacco by the Food and Drug Administration, his suggestion of serious corporate governance reforms in the wake of the Enron scandal, and his crusade against earmarking by Congress all put him squarely in position to win disaffected moderates, Democrats, and independents.I disagree with McCain on some of those issues — but I agree with Morris that McCain's stands on those issues will help with swing voters. And I agree that McCain has a great advantage over almost any other candidate on national security issues.
And I had reluctantly come to the same conclusion about Romney's business experience that Morris does; it may be a minus, since Romney can be connected to layoffs. The layoffs may have been necessary, but swing voters are unlikely to find them admirable.
(I do hope that Romney's considerable executive talents can be used somewhere in government. I have often thought that he would make a superb chief of staff, though there is little chance that he would get that position in a McCain administration.)
- 6:39 AM, 30 January 2008 [link]
If The Current Trend Continues, . . . John McCain will win the Florida primary. As I write, he has built his lead to more than 20,000 votes.
Using the map of Florida provided by the Post, I notice that the returns are spread all over the map, except for the panhandle, where polls close an hour later than in the rest of the state. As I understand it, the panhandle has many voters who are veterans, and many voters who are currently in the military. I would expect both groups to favor McCain.
But it is possible that this first batch of votes is atypical.
- 5:05 PM, 29 January 2008
Perhaps I blogged too soon: Again, as I write, McCain's lead is down to about 8,000 votes.
And I made a quick check on the panhandle by looking at Florida's 1st Congressional district, which includes most of the panhandle. The district does have a big military presence, but it has no more veterans (about 15 percent) than the rest of Florida.
- 5:23 PM, 29 January 2008
Now, the McCain's lead is about 50,000 votes. It is worth remembering that Florida is a winner-take-all state. The candidate with a plurality will get all the delegates from the state.
- 6:11 PM, 29 January 2008
McCain is the projected winner: By the Associated Press, CNN, and Fox.
- 6:33 PM, 29 January 2008
That map is pretty slick. If you mouse over the counties, you see the percentage results; if you mouse over the names of the candidates, you see the patterns of their support in the map. For instance, Giuliani seems to have drawn his strongest support in areas where there are many retirees from New York.
- 6:15 AM, 30 January 2008 [link]
Obama's Friend And Supporter: Goes to jail.
Accused Illinois political fixer Antoin "Tony" Rezko will be kept behind bars until his trial starts Feb. 25, a federal judge in Chicago ruled today.(Though I suppose Rezko is now, officially, a former friend and supporter.)
The money came from one Nadhmi Auchi, who is "implicated in the oil-for-food scandal".
I knew Rezko was an Illinois fixer; I did not know that he might be an international fixer.
- 4:14 PM, 29 January 2008 [link]
Deliberately Rude? Elected officials, especially high elected officials, are expected to behave in public. We expect them to have better manners than the average person because we know that they set an example for others.
Speaker Pelosi knows that as well as I do, and that's why I found her behavior last night during Bush's State of the Union speech so surprising. While he was speaking, she was often quite obviously reading, rather than paying attention, and at times had openly disgusted expressions on her face. (And at other times, just looked bizarre. Perhaps Botox has distorted her usually pretty face?) I have seen six year old kids who behave better in public than she did last night.
Why was she so rude? I'm not sure. It might have been a sop to the far left in the Democratic party, who are disappointed that she has not brought them the head of Bush on a platter. Or it may be that she is petty enough to be angry that Bush has so completely out-generaled her in this last year, defeating her again and again. Or it may be a combination of the two. Or something else.
Whatever the reason for her behavior, I can say this: If you have children, please tell them not to imitate Speaker Pelosi's behavior last night when they attend solemn occasions.
- 6:15 AM, 29 January 2008 [link]
Fishy Letters: The New York Times ran a front page scare story (and an editorial) on the dangers of mercury in sushi. The argument in the story is wrong, as Newsbusters noted, and as Jack Shafer showed, at more length, in Slate.
Before you jab yourself in the eyes with your chopsticks and swear off bluefin forever, consider the scientific findings on fish consumption. An excellent overview of the topic, "Twenty-seven Years Studying the Human Neurotoxicity of Methylmercury Exposure," published in the July 2000 issue of Environmental Research, can be purchased for less than a platter of prime sushi.No evidence. That seems fairly conclusive to me. Especially considering that the studies were conducted in such different places.
Today, the New York Times published letters on the article. Five letters. Four supported the article's claims. And the fifth gave another reason not to eat bluefin tuna: The species, claimed letter writer Gil Kulick, is "on the brink of extinction".
Once again, Thomas Feyer, the New York Times censor has suppressed critical letters. Feyer apparently thinks that scientific findings should not appear in the letters pages — if those scientific findings contradict the New York Times.
- 4:32 PM, 28 January 2008 [link]
Too Bad Bill Richardson Didn't Stay In The Race: That was my political analyst reaction to the results from the South Carolina Democratic primary.
It's the demographics, stupid: The black candidate won the black vote. The white woman won white women. The white man won white men.(Actually they face them every year, in local elections, and often in state elections.)
Would Richardson have won the Hispanics? It seems likely. (And there are a few Hispanics in South Carolina; they make up about 3.5 percent of the population, though probably not of the voters.)
(Richardson is (sort of) a Hispanic, just as Obama is (sort of) black. In fact, you could argue that Richardson is more of a Hispanic than Obama is a black. Richardson was actually raised by his Mexican mother, but Obama's Kenyan father abandoned him to be raised by his white mother and, eventually, his white grandparents.)
- 2:07 PM, 28 January 2008 [link]
That's Harsh: Caroline Kennedy says that Barack Obama is like her father, JFK.
Over the years, I've been deeply moved by the people who've told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.Unfortunately, Kennedy does not go on to say what happened to almost all those who were inspired by her father. Almost all of them were disillusioned when they learned that the man they admired was a reckless philanderer, so reckless that the Secret Service worried about the security risks in his escapades. Or that he had accepted the overthrow of an ally, the president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem. (That overthrow, most scholars believe, was the fundamental strategic error in the war.) Or that he mostly ignored civil rights issues before he was president, and while he was president. Or that his administration spied on opponents, or those it thought might become opponents, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Or that his inexperience and early weakness almost got us into nuclear war. And there are even a a few, like me, who think that he botched the design of our space program, and that we have never really recovered from his errors.
Some were inspired by John F. Kennedy. I don't doubt that Bill Clinton, for instance, knew all about Kennedy's sexual escapades — and was inspired by the fact that Kennedy had gotten away with them. (With, it must be noted, the help of many journalists.)
Caroline Kennedy says nothing about her father's actual policies, which is just as well for her argument. Because, if you look at his actual policies, especially his foreign policies, you would have to say that his ideas are closest to those of the modern neoconservatives.
If you are judging by character, it is unfair to compare Barack Obama to JFK. By most accounts, Obama is a far more decent man, personally. But if you are judging the two by their fitness to be president, you have to give the edge to Kennedy, as badly as he performed in many ways. For all his many faults, Kennedy recognized that we have enemies, and that we cannot solve all our foreign problems with pleasant words. For all his faults, he had a sense of the tragic that Obama has not shown us. It is hard, for instance, to imagine Obama saying anything as bitter — and true — as Kennedy's comment that life is not fair.
But an effective president has to understand such bitter truths, however much he may want to inspire the rest of us with soaring speeches.
- 1:30 PM, 28 January 2008 [link]
Two More Errors: While I am criticizing the Times of London, I might as well add two more errors that I found in a different story in their sister paper, the Sunday Times. Their reporter, John Follain, spent "two months in Italy and Seattle finding out the truth about Amanda Knox". (Knox, in case you have missed this sensational story, or just don't remember her name, is an American student whose year in Italy went very wrong. Knox is accused of complicity in the murder of her English roommate, Meredith Kerchner.)
Among the truths he found were these:
She [Knox] remained a good student at Seattle's Washington University, where she read Italian, German and creative writing, making the Dean's List of high-achievers. Knox studied hard but also found time for sport — she played football, went rock climbing and did yoga — and worked in two bars on the campus, which echoes Oxbridge; it boasts neo-gothic libraries and halls, and even a quadrangle, lined with cherry trees.Actually, that's the University of Washington. For my friends in Britain, I will add that there is a Washington University; it's a private school in St. Louis.
And there is nothing unusual about quadrangles at American universities, private or public. I haven't made a count, but I would bet that most have them.
(Did Follain actually visit the UW? If he did, he wasn't paying very much attention while he was there.
Most of you, I am sure, are familiar with the The Times of London. For those few who are not, or need a reminder, I will just say that it was, for many years, the most important newspaper in the world, and, even now, would make most top ten lists.)
- 10:22 AM, 28 January 2008 [link]
They Just Can't Get It Right: Near the end of a sensational Times of London story on spying in the US is this sentence:
Plame's husband, Wilson, wrote a report that undermined claims by President George W Bush that Saddam Hussein's regime had attempted to buy uranium in Niger — a key justification for the invasion of Iraq.There are two factual errors in that sentence. First, Wilson did not write a report; instead he gave an informal briefing. That the CIA did not even ask him to make a written report shows just how seriously everyone there took his little junket. It wasn't quite a joke, but almost.
Second, Wilson said in his oral report that an Iraqi trade official had visited Niger. (He was right about that.) Since Niger has almost nothing to sell except uranium, the CIA analysts took this as weak evidence that Saddam was exploring the possibility of buying uranium from Niger.
Afterwards, Wilson told a different story, privately to journalists and more publicly in a New York Times op-ed. And then he told an entirely different story when he was testifying to the Senate intelligence committee — under oath.
That his earlier, bogus story is still believed by so many journalists shows, again, why consumers of news must be distrustful of almost everything in the "mainstream" media, especially if it reflects badly on Republicans or conservatives.
(Is the rest of the story true? I have no idea. But mistakes like these two don't give me much confidence in the reporters who wrote the rest of the story.)
- 9:58 AM, 28 January 2008 [link]
Is The NYT Trying To Sabotage John McCain? If so, it is hard to think of a better tactic than this endorsement. They say they are backing McCain, but do everything to remind Republicans why they despise the New York Times, and nearly everyone it supports. And it will be mostly Republicans who choose the Republican candidate. (Mostly, but not entirely, because some of the remaining primaries are open to independents.)
No, I don't think the Times is trying to sabotage McCain, though their endorsement won't help him with party faithful. I think they are so arrogant that they do not realize just how despised they are by most Republicans. And so arrogant that they don't realize that mostly Republicans vote in Republican primaries.
Others, for example, the Instapundit, had the same reaction to the endorsement that I did.
- 7:00 AM, 25 January 2008
But I do think that Bill Clinton was trying to sabotage McCain, with these remarks.
"She [Hillary Clinton] and John McCain are very close," Clinton said. "They always laugh that if they wound up being the nominees of their party, it would be the most civilized election in American history, and they're afraid they'd put the voters to sleep because they like and respect each other."In fact I would give 10-1 odds that Clinton was trying to sabotage McCain by saying that.
- 11:24 AM, 26 January 2008 [link]
Maybe They'll Take It Out Of His Paycheck: That way he could repay the losses (not counting interest) in about 49,000 years.
A French bank announced Thursday that it had lost $7.2 billion, not because of complex subprime loans, but the old-fashioned way — because a 31-year-old rogue trader made bad bets on stocks and then, in trying to cover up those losses, dug himself deeper into a hole.According to this story, Kerviel did not make any money for himself out of the fraud.
More details in this Daily Mail story.
- 5:05 AM, 25 January 2008 [link]