July 2006, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Still More On Saddam's WMDs going to Syria:  Even before the shooting war began in Iraq, intelligence officials were saying that Saddam was moving some of his WMDs to Syria.  And after the war, one of the inspectors, David Kay, said that his survey team had found evidence for that claim.
David Kay, the former head of the coalition's hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, yesterday claimed that part of Saddam Hussein's secret weapons programme was hidden in Syria.

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay, who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war to overthrow Saddam.

"We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons," he said. "But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme.  Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.
Others, including Israeli intelligence officials and one of Saddam's generals, have made the same claim.

The claim has always seemed plausible to me, but unproven.  (For my latest restatement of my views on the subject, see this post.)  Now Ed Morrisey has found a document that describes a very suspicious truck convoy arriving in Syria.

We may never know for certain whether Saddam shipped some of his WMDs to Syria, but the accumulated evidence makes that very likely.  The question deserves, as David Kay said, more investigation — which it will not get from our "mainstream" media.
- 11:32 AM, 31 July 2006   [link]

Weird . . . And Disturbing:  We have learned two more things about Naveed Haq and his family, one weird.
Naveed Haq, now widely portrayed as a Muslim American so angry at Israel that he shot up a Jewish charity in Seattle, had recently converted to Christianity.
. . .
Last winter, Haq began attending a weekly men's group meeting at the home of a men's ministry leader with the Word of Faith Center, a non-denominational, evangelical church in Kennewick.

Since he declared himself a Muslim at the time of the shootings, I would say the conversion didn't last.  And, according to the same article, Haq stopped attending the meetings some months after he was baptized.

And one disturbing.
Yousef Shehadeb, 46, a member of the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities, recalled Haq as quiet and something of a loner.  Shehadeb said he and Haq's father, Mian Haq, both work at the Hanford nuclear reservation, as do many members of the area's Muslim community.
That's right, at Hanford, best known for producing the material for the first nuclear bombs.

(Washington state's Tri-Cities are Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland.)
- 6:39 AM, 31 July 2006   [link]

A Victory for Hezbollah.
An Israeli air raid on the southern Lebanese town of Qana killed dozens of civilians today, many of them children, marking the bloodiest day of this conflict and putting enormous pressure on Israel and the United States to move rapidly toward a cease-fire.

Late today, Israel agreed to suspend its airstrikes for 48 hours while it investigates the bombing of Qana, a State Department spokesman said.  The spokesman, Adam Ereli, told reporters in Jerusalem that Israel would coordinate with the United Nations to provide a 24-hour period during which residents of southern Lebanon could leave area safely.
And there is no reason to pretend otherwise.  The Hezbollah leaders have been trying to maximize civilian casualties — in Israel and in Lebanon.  And in this air strike, they have a wonderful piece of propaganda.  Which will work even if we eventually learn that they had been firing rockets off the roof top, and had forced the civilians inside the building.  Which may have happened, although I would say the odds are against it.

To see one of the many reasons I harbor such dark suspicions about Hezbollah, take a look at these pictures, which had to be smuggled out.  Hezbollah was trying to get Lebanese killed and has succeeded, though we don't yet know how it happened in the raid on Qana.
- 2:47 PM, 30 July 2006   [link]

Want Some Good News This Morning?  Here you are.
The Keller family illustrates what may prove to be one of the most striking shifts in human existence — a change from small, relatively weak and sickly people to humans who are so big and robust that their ancestors seem almost unrecognizable.
. . .
The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they used to.  There is also less disability among older people today, according to a federal study that directly measures it.  And that is not just because medical treatments like cataract surgery keep people functioning.  Human bodies are simply not breaking down the way they did before.

Even the human mind seems improved.  The average I.Q. has been increasing for decades, and at least one study found that a person's chances of having dementia in old age appeared to have fallen in recent years.
Now isn't that more cheerful than the news out of Lebanon?  And far more important in the long run, though it may not be easy to see that today.

And here's some more good news for Americans.
Crimes against property started to fall by 1980, but it wasn't until 1993 that we saw a reduction of violent crimes.

Still, once the ball started to roll it just kept on hurtling downhill.  Today the people in the United States enjoy an aggregate crime rate that is less than half of what it was during the dark and lawless days.
Two brief thoughts on this decrease in crime:  First, this shows, among other things, the success of the democratic process.  Voters may not always have been sure they knew the best way to reduce crime, but they knew enough to get rid of politicians who failed.  Second, from what I read, Britain seems to be making much the same mistakes that the United States did in the 1970s.  And so far Britons have shown no interest in learning from our mistakes.
- 10:52 AM, 30 July 2006   [link]

The Excuses Were Ready:  When Naveed Haq forced his way into the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, he told the people working there that he was a Muslim-American and that he was unhappy with Israel.  He then began trying to kill them.

Even before he gave himself up to the police, our local journalists were ready with the excuses.   Haq was a lone gunman (as if that made him less dangerous).  He had a history of mental illness (many terrorist are not quite right in the head).  He had a minor criminal record (many terrorists do).  And so on.

The local journalists want us to ignore Haq's plain words, and murderous actions.  His terrorist attack can be called a hate crime, but not terrorism.  And the reporters did not even want to ask what kind of mosque he might have been attending recently, even though we have had mosques here that were terrorism centers.

And the local journalists avoided, as much as possible, the "M" word, not saying Muslim, except for reassuring statements like this one.
The Muslim community in the region watched in horror as news broke of the shooting.

"We categorically condemn this and any similar acts of violence," the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a joint statement with the Ithna-Ashari Muslim Association of the Northwest, the Muslim Association of Puget Sound, the Islamic Educational Center of Seattle, American Muslims of Puget Sound and the Arab American Community Coalition.
And some, maybe even most, of them may actually mean it — though those familiar with CAIR's record will find their statement difficult to accept.

Let me say this as plainly as I can.  Many in the Muslim community here, maybe even most, may have reacted with horror.  But a significant percentage had mixed feelings, and some small number privately applauded this attack.  Our local journalists don't want you to even think about such questions, and that is why they had their excuses ready.  But we have seen too many of them before to ignore this particular elephant in the living room.

(Matt Rosenberg makes a similar argument here.)
More:  Byron Dazey found evidence that not every local Muslim "watched in horror".  But you won't ever see his pictures in a Seattle paper.
- 5:55 AM, 31 July 2006   [link]

We Are Reducing Toxic Pollution:  And you may be interested to see which nation is reducing it fastest.
A new report by the NAFTA environmental agency shows that the United States has been doing a better job than Canada in cutting toxic pollution — but the releases on both sides of the border remain large.

The report, Taking Stock, shows that close to three million tonnes of toxic chemicals were produced as waste by North American industry in 2003, with roughly one-quarter of that amount released directly to the air.

Almost 11 per cent of toxic chemicals released in 2003 were known or suspected carcinogens, while 8 per cent were known to cause developmental or reproductive harm.

U.S. manufacturing facilities cut their releases of toxics by 21 per cent between 1998 and 2003, while Canadian manufacturers cut releases by 10 per cent.
Two thoughts: First, although that three million tons sounds large, it is not that much considering the size of North America and the number of manufacturing plants here.  Nor does it necessarily indicate any great health problems, since many toxic substances are not dangerous after they are diluted.

Second, the Canadian Prime Minister during this period, Jean Chrétien, generally got good marks from environmentalists, who are often satisfied with leaders who make the appropriate noises, if those leaders are on the left.  But, as the Globe and Mail admits, the United States did far better than Chrétien's Canada.  Mostly, by the way, because of legislation backed by President George H. W. Bush, a Republican.
- 10:36 AM, 28 July 2006   [link]

Globalization Is Real:  Not that you didn't know that already, but I received a reminder yesterday from Office Depot.  I had, as you may recall, ordered an HP laptop from them three weeks ago.  It was built to my order, which is why it wasn't delivered within a few days of my order.  Yesterday, I received an email saying that the laptop had shipped, and giving me a link to FedEx, so I could follow its journey.

The laptop started out in Shanghai — China, and is now in Narita-shi — Japan.  And will be here next week.  FedEx is even giving me a day and time to expect the delivery.

(And, since the laptop started its journey on the other side of the date line, it began its journey on the 28th.)
- 10:14 AM, 28 July 2006   [link]

Appointed Versus Elected Judges:  The Massachusetts Supreme Court, which is dominated by leftists, decided, narrowly (3-2), to establish gay marriage in that state, basing their decision, absurdly, on the state's ancient constitution.  Because that constitution is so difficult to amend, their decision, which does not have majority support in the state, has held up.

Yesterday, the Washington State Supreme Court, which is dominated by leftists, decided, narrowly (5-4), not to over rule the legislature and impose gay marriage here.

The Massachusetts court is appointed; the Washington court is elected.  I think that is the most likely explanation of the difference in the two decisions.  Our judicial elections are not perfect; I sometimes think that they are designed to make it difficult for the voters to know what the judges are likely to do.  But the elections do serve as a check, one that is much needed when so many judges think they were put in office to legislate, according to their personal fancy.

And I suspect that the fact that some of those judges will face the electorate this fall explains why we got the decision now, after months of waiting.  A swing judge or two got nervous.

(You can find my latest thoughts on gay marriage here and here.)
- 3:16 PM, 27 July 2006   [link]

Stalin Understood The Governator:  In this column, Debra Saunders wonders why so many politicians, definitely including Governor Schwarzenegger, are so often late.
Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up 40 minutes late for a lunchtime speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco -- and he didn't even apologize to the hundreds of people who took the time out from their busy lives to come see him.  In May, Schwarzenegger showed up more than 45 minutes late for a morning naturalization ceremony honoring 1,150 new American citizens and their families.
Why do Schwarzenegger and many (most?) politicians behave this way?  Here's an answer from, of all people, Stalin.   When he first met Lenin, he was surprised that Lenin was not a giant, physically, and thought Lenin erred in his behavior.
It is the accepted custom for a great man to arrive late at meetings so that the assembly may await his appearance with bated breath, and then just before he appears come the waning whispers: "Hush-silence-he is coming!"  This ceremony seemed to me to have its uses, for it inspires respect.  What was my disappointment to learn that Lenin had arrived before the other delegates, had sat down somewhere in a corner, and was unassumingly carrying on a most ordinary conversation with the most ordinary delegates at the conference.  I will not conceal from you that I thought his behaviour to be a violation of certain essential rules.
Not essential, but common.  Empires, as you may know, often carried these kinds of things to grotesque lengths, sometimes requiring those approaching the emperor to wait endlessly, and then to prostrate themselves, or worse.

These ceremonies, as Stalin said, do inspire respect — which is why they are so common.   Politicians know that they work.

But they wouldn't work if more of us understood these tricks, and refused to accept them.  I think less of the politicians who pull these tricks and I wish more of my fellow citizens would do the same.  In some cases, the right thing to do when a politician is late for a meeting is to leave.  And I rather wish that a heckler at the sedate Commonwealth Club had yelled out his unhappiness about the delay, when Schwarzenegger finally did show up.

(Saunders names two politicians who did not pull the late trick, former California governor George Deukmejian and President Bush.  She could have added the first President Bush and, I think, President Reagan.

Bill Clinton was one of the worst for lateness, so much so that his friends have standard excuses for his behavior.  I never believed those excuses, even for a minute.)
- 2:27 PM, 27 July 2006   [link]

Howard Dean Can Be Absurd:  As Matt Drudge pointed out with this series of headlines:
Dean Says Iraqi PM an 'Anti-Semite' . . .

Compares FL GOP Candidate Katherine Harris to Stalin . . .

Calls for End to Divisiveness . . .
Now here's my question:  Why do we have to rely on Matt Drudge to point this out?  Why don't "mainstream" reporters make the same point, even indirectly?  Do they actually not see how bizarre this combination is?  Or are they too partisan to put it in their stories?

Finally, imagine, just for amusement, how our "mainstream" reporters would have reacted if President Bush had a similar set of statements.

(There are two separate, but related, questions that are also of interest.  Do the Democrats listening to these speeches have to suppress giggles?  Or are they too partisan to realize just how funny this is?  Second, does Dean understand that this makes him look silly?  I've thought for some time that Dean simply doesn't care whether what he says is true, that he enjoys saying these things for the immediate effect.  And by now he must know that the "mainstream" reporters will let him get away with it.  But he may actually believe what he says.)
- 9:11 AM, 27 July 2006   [link]

Leftist Humor:  After those last two rather bloody minded posts, I thought you might like to see this bumpersticker.

I don't agree with one word in the bumpersticker, but I do find it funny.  I don't know the owner of the car, but I do think they have a sense of humor, and can imagine having a civilized discussion with them.

(Some will wonder if I have any more clues about the car's owner.  Not many, but the car does have a license plate holder from an education grad school, and an Oregon license plate.)
- 4:04 PM, 26 July 2006   [link]

Eradicate?  Fortunately, I had finished my lunch when I came across this Seattle Times headline which says that I should be eradicated.

Eradicate those who have put us in the Middle East

The headline was for a letter from a reader, Mark Lemmon.  The last paragraph, which apparently inspired the headline, reads as follows:

Yes, we Americans have our own problems: We need to weed out these neocons and their globalist conspirators!  It's wake-up time because the alternative is World War III.

For the benefit of the Seattle Times, I'll give the dictionary definition of eradicate from my American Heritage dictionary:

1. To tear up by the roots.  2. To get rid of as if by tearing up by the roots.

The Wicktionary definition has a similar first meaning, and an even harsher second meaning:

2. To completely destroy; to put an end to; to extirpate.

Luckily, as I said, I had finished lunch, so reading the letter didn't ruin my appetite.  But it did put me off a little to learn that Mark Lemmon, whom I have, to the best of my knowledge, never even met, wants me weeded out and, perhaps, eradicated.

Some might think that the examples of those who followed eradication policies during the 20th century — most notably Stalin, Hitler, and Mao — had discredited those policies, but apparently not.  (By the way, Mao was especially fond of comparing his opponents to weeds, who deserved to be eradicated.)

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(It is not entirely clear to me just what Lemmon means by "neocon".  In this area, perhaps the simplest definition is that neoconservatives are followers of Henry M. Jackson, followers who left the Democratic party, when it moved to the left in foreign policy.  Since Senator Jackson was very popular in this state, Lemmon wishes to "weed out" many of his neighbors.  And the Seattle Times published a headline advocating the eradication of many of its readers.  Both seem impractical, as well as immoral.)
- 1:23 PM, 26 July 2006
Update:  I sent a polite email to the editorial page editor, Jim Vesely, suggesting that he apologize for printing that letter, with that headline.  Here's his complete reply:

No thanks, I'll stick with our earlier decision and with the headline,  the dictionaries agree with our use of the words.

In a day or two, I may do a post comparing the rhetoric in the letter and in the headline to that used by some famous dictators.
- 4:24 PM, 26 July 2006   [link]

More Evidence for my theory that the Nobel Peace Prizes are actually reprimands.
Nobel peace laureate Betty Williams displayed a flash of her feisty Irish spirit yesterday, lashing out at US President George W.Bush during a speech to hundreds of schoolchildren.

Campaigning on the rights of young people at the Earth Dialogues forum, being held in Brisbane, Ms Williams spoke passionately about the deaths of innocent children during wartime, particularly in the Middle East, and lambasted Mr Bush.

"I have a very hard time with this word 'non-violence', because I don't believe that I am non-violent," said Ms Williams, 64.

"Right now, I would love to kill George Bush."  Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.
I guess they liked her "feisty Irish spirit".  (By the way, shouldn't the Irish consider that description an insult?)  Would "demented" be a better adjective than "feisty"?  You make the call.

(Apparently, Williams came to have a grievance against President Bush because she bought some propaganda put out by the Saddam regime, and swallowed, uncritically, by many on the left.  I do not know whether she has the same grievance against Saddam Hussein, who more than once ordered children shot.)
- 8:49 AM, 26 July 2006   [link]

Newspapers Keep Some Secrets:  Mike Armstrong proves it.
Who says the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times can't keep a secret?  Oh sure, once in a while they casually divulge some government spy program designed to thwart terrorism, but when it comes to issues that really matter, mum's the word.

Does anybody remember "The Crying Game"?  Vincent Canby wrote in his New York Times review: "The film's producers have pleaded with reviewers not to reveal important plot twists . . . .  More from me you will not get."  True to his word, Canby took that secret to his grave.  Only he and the millions of people who saw the movie knew that the female lead was actually a guy.
Armstrong ends with seven examples, noting that newspapers kept secrets in five of the seven.  The example above may give you a hint at which secrets they kept — and which secrets they didn't.
- 7:16 AM, 26 July 2006   [link]

Some Headlines Make Me Speculate Wildly:  For instance, the headline to this article, which, as I write, says:
Diary cows dying; many ripening crops at risk
Farmers fight to protect animals and crops from the heat
At first, I imagined sad cows scribbling their last thoughts as they were about to die.  But I had trouble figuring out how the cows would hold their pens, and so I realized there was another possible interpretation.  The cows could be named in some sinister diary that predicts their deaths.  And there may be other interpretations that will occur to me after I finish my morning coffee.

(I suppose there aren't a great many dairy cows in San Francisco, so this mistake is understandable.   Be interesting to see how long it takes the newspaper to correct it.)
- 5:39 AM, 26 July 2006   [link]

Sockeyes In Seattle — Again:  Another good year for our favorite fish.
Lovely weather and a horde of sockeye are expected to greet thousands of anglers on Lake Washington for a three-day fishery — the first since 2004 — that begins Saturday.

"We're very excited to provide this opportunity in Lake Washington, and it is an amazing fishery with a high success rate," said Tim Flint, the head state Fish and Wildlife salmon biologist.  "The interest in the fishery is great, and where else can you have a salmon fishery in protected waters so close to a metropolitan area?"
The sockeyes received more than a little help from a temporary hatchery.  According to the reporter, Mark Yuasa, a permanent hatchery would have been built by now, except for local opposition.  (He doesn't tells us what motivates the opposition.  The opponents might be NIMBYs, or they might be "environmentalists", who often oppose hatcheries on principle.)

(Those not familiar with this area may need to know that Lake Washington is near the center of the Seattle metropolitan area.

And if you haven't seen sockeyes, you may want to look at these pictures, some of them showing the sockeyes in their bright red mating costume.)
- 4:30 PM, 25 July 2006   [link]

The BBC Has High Standards:  In principle.
Producers have strict guidelines for dealing with issues of taste, sexual matters, violence and strong language.  Every audience includes people of different ages, cultures, religions and sensibilities.  A warning is transmitted if we judge some people may find a particular broadcast distressing.

We never intentionally try to cause offence.
But not always in practice, according to Theodore Dalrymple.
For a license to receive television broadcasts in their homes, British households must pay an annual fee of about $200 (soon to rise), which subsidizes the once famous but now increasingly infamous BBC.   This broadcasting system exemplifies two of the guiding principles of contemporary British public life: the active promotion of vulgarity and the shameless looting of the public purse.
He then follows that with an example from a political interview which makes the boxers-or-briefs question to President Clinton look positively prudish.

(I don't quote the example here because, as I have said, I want to keep this site, "sprog friendly".

By way of the Biased BBC.)
- 3:34 PM, 25 July 2006   [link]

What Is The British Government Doing About "Honor" Killings?  (Or, as they would call them, "honour" killings?)  Less than one would like.  In fact nothing about the center of this problem, forced marriages.
The lives of young women might be ruined by the Government's failure to make forced marriages illegal, a senior police officer has warned.

Commander Steve Allen of the Metropolitan Police said that a decision by ministers last month to drop proposed legislation had been greeted by some ethnic minorities as a signal that forced marriage was acceptable.

His concern about the about-turn, which was partly prompted by fears that the new law would stigmatise Muslims, is shared by a Crown Prosecution Service director and the head of Scotland Yard's Homicide Prevention Unit.  The head of a South Asian women's charity said yesterday that girls were already suffering the consequences of the decision.

I would have guessed that forced marriages had been made illegal in Britain long ago, say sometime back in the Middle Ages.  Perhaps I have bizarre values, but I think that saving women's lives and preventing forced marriages is more important than not stigmatizing some group.

Forced marriages are not rare in Britain.  If the partial numbers given by the Times of London are reliable, hundreds occur every year.  And, of course, one would expect undercounts to be more common than the reverse.

(If you read the whole article you will see that the Times is more candid than the Guardian was about which "Asians" are responsible for these honor killings and forced marriages.  The perpetrators are mostly Muslims, especially those of Pakistani descent.

By the way, from I have read, these forced marriages are often made to allow non-citizens to get British citizenship.

Here's my latest post on honor killings.)
- 2:23 PM, 25 July 2006   [link]

That Wilson/Plame Lawsuit:  As I have confessed, I have an inordinate interest in the absurd Wilson/Plame "scandal".  And I get most of my fixes from Tom Maguire, who had an exceptionally good post on the suit that Joseph Wilson and his wife filed against Scooter Libby and company.  As Maguire noted, the lawsuit was welcomed by both Republicans and Democrats.

Which party is likely to be pleased by the outcome of the suit?  Here's Maguire's answer:
For the Democrats, this civil suit represents an opportunity to depose Bush Administration officials and maybe strike gold with some embarrassing or even illegal tidbit (think Paula Jones).  On the Republican side, there is a sense that Joe Wilson may be humiliated in discovery, along with the media and the anti-Administration CIA cabal alluded to recently by Rep. Peter Hoekstra.

Advantage — Democrats!  Neither Joe Wilson, Tim Russert, nor George Tenet are candidates for anything; Bush won't be either, but he is the leader of his party, notionally at least.  The Dems have a puncher's chance of scoring a big win; the Reps are more likely to "win" this suit, but what is victory — humiliating Joe Wilson?
So the odds are that the Republicans will win the lawsuit, but won't win much.  And it is possible that the Democrats will find some "embarrassing or even illegal tidbit", which would give them a big political gain.  That analysis sounds about right to me.

(And if you want still more on this "scandal", you may want to read this Clarice Feldman post on the connections between Joseph Wilson and Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson, best known for keeping large sums of cash very cold.)
- 11:23 AM, 25 July 2006   [link]

Want To Know More About The Missile Attack On The Israeli Ship?  Go here.

(One of the things I liked best about the analysis is that Spencer and Trelenko disagree on some points — openly.)
- 10:13 AM, 25 July 2006   [link]

Here's an interesting shift.
Half of Americans now say Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded the country in 2003 -- up from 36 percent last year, a Harris poll finds.  Pollsters deemed the increase both "substantial" and "surprising" in light of persistent press reports to the contrary in recent years.

The survey did not speculate on what caused the shift in opinion, which supports President Bush's original rationale for going to war.  Respondents were questioned in early July after the release of a Defense Department intelligence report that revealed coalition forces recovered 500 aging chemical weapons containing mustard or sarin gas nerve agents in Iraq.
Chemical weapons are WMDs, even if they are "aging", so half the public has now come to the correct conclusion — in spite of the best efforts of our "mainstream" media.

This shift may represent a victory for the alternative media, Fox News, the conservative talk shows, and blogs like this one.

(You probably noticed the same mistake that I did.  President Bush did not have a single rationale for going to war, but a whole list, including Saddam's support for terrorism.  Since the downfall of Saddam's regime we have learned that Saddam may — I repeat, may — have had smaller stockpiles of WMDs than we thought, but we have also learned that his support for terrorism was probably greater than we estimated.)
- 7:37 AM, 25 July 2006   [link]

If This Site looked strange yesterday, that was because my second post had two long URLs in it.  (It looked OK to me in tests with Firefox and another browser, but not, as I noticed later, with Internet Explorer.)  I've replaced them with ellipses, which should solve the problem.

By the way, if you see problems with the site, please let me know.  I check posts with two different browsers, and make more checks when I change the site.  But there are some checks that I can't make, because I don't have the equipment.
- 7:15 AM, 25 July 2006   [link]