March 2005, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

We Won't Investigate The Election:  And you shouldn't either.  Like Stefan Sharkansky, at Sound Politics, I found this Seattle Times editorial appalling.  The wrong person now sits in the governor's mansion in Olympia.  There is strong evidence for fraud and mismanagement even in the raw returns — and more in the analyses that Sharkansky and others have been doing.  And yet when a private group, the BIAW, does what the Seattle Times should have been doing all along and uncovers evidence of fraud, the Times complains that their efforts are "sleazy".  And they complain without mentioning that the BIAW believes that they have uncovered false signatures with the effort.

If you have been reading this site for the last few months, you may recall that I had a small disagreement with Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat.  In this post, I said that "mainstream" journalists were not interested in investigating charges of vote fraud — when those charges are made by Republicans.  And then in a spirit of cooperation, I offered tips for journalists who were interested in investigating vote fraud.  To my knowledge, neither the Seattle Times nor any other "mainstream" news organization has followed any of the tips I gave there.  And some of them, if I do say so myself, are pretty darn good tips.  For instance, why was there a surge in the number of provisional votes last November?  It is hard to think of a completely innocent explanation.

One would think that the sheer size of this story would attract journalists.  It isn't every year that a governorhip is awarded to the wrong candidate, after all.  But it's a free country, and if the Seattle Times wants to mostly ignore the biggest story in decades, that's their privilege.  But they should not attack those who are willing to investigate vote fraud — even when it is directed against Republicans.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(One of the minor mysteries of the election is why the Seattle Times endorsed Dino Rossi.  I don't take their own explanation at face value, and I suspect I am not alone in my cynicism.   My guess is that some on the editorial board went along with the endorsement because they thought he had no chance to win.  They could pose as nonpartisan without cost.  It is, when you think about it, rather extraordinary how little support the Times has given to "their" candidate since the election.)
- 5:00 PM, 8 March 2005
More:  I am informed that the endorsement was made by the publisher, which would explain why the editorial writers have not shown much support for Rossi.
- 9:38 AM, 15 March 2005   [link]

Still More On Absentee Ballot Fraud In Britain:  Laban Tall has whole set of links to stories of vote fraud committed with what Britons call postal ballots, and what Americans usually call absentee ballots.  The parallels to American experience are quite remarkable, considering the short time such ballots have been used in Britain.  Judging by the stories, most of the fraud was committed in minority areas and benefited Labour candidates, just as absentee ballot fraud here is usually committed in minority areas and benefits Democratic candidates.  As I mentioned in this earlier post, the only American innovation that does not seem to have crossed the Atlantic yet is vote brokers, but I assume entrepreneurs in Britain will soon fill that niche.  (Or, if I recall my British history correctly, they can just revive some old practices.)

And there's one other great similarity.  The party whose candidates usually benefit from the fraud — Labour there and Democrats here — has no interest in controlling it.  (I don't know whether journalists friendly to Labour have been excusing the fraud, as some journalists friendly to Democrats excuse the fraud here, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are.)

(Thanks again to Natalie Solent for the link.)
- 8:56 AM, 8 March 2005   [link]

Terrorists Often Need Jobs:  As cover and to support themselves while they prepare for the next act of terror.  What kind of job would be best?  How about a position at an American university, teaching Middle East Studies?
The terrorist behind the Stage Club in Tel Aviv over a week ago taught Middle East Studies at a University in the US before he moved to Syria.

47-year-old Ramadan Shallah is the head of Islamic Jihad who was caught on tape ordering the attack by telephone from Damascus.
. . .
Shallah then moved from Durham to the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he taught Middle Eastern studies and headed the World and Islam Studies Enterprise, a think tank affiliated with the university.
Maybe not a perfect job for a terrorist, but a pretty darn good one.
- 7:07 AM, 8 March 2005   [link]

Politically Incorrect Cure For Juvenile Diabetes?  Maybe.   Michael Fumento has the story.
Harvard researcher Dr. Denise Faustman thinks she can cure type 1 (or juvenile) diabetes.   She's done it in mice and wants to try it on humans.  She's gotten financial backing from the Lee Iacocca Foundation and other groups, but needs millions more.  But she isn't going to get it from the world's largest diabetes foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, for reasons having little to do with the potential of her work.
. . .
Yet the JDRF, which awarded at least $85 million in grants last year and has funded three-fourths of the Edmonton surgeries, won't give Faustman a penny.  It has rejected her clinical trial applications three times.  I asked why but JDRF representatives refused to be interviewed, specifically citing my writings on the benefits of adult stem cells.

That's not particularly surprising, considering JDRF seemingly cares more about ESC [embryonic stem cell] research lobbying than it does diabetes — as I will document in my next column.  This antithesis to non-embryonic stem cells also appears to explain Faustman's rejections.  If the cure uses adult stem cells, apparently JDRF doesn't want one.  But you can support Faustman's work through,, or
The problem, Fumento thinks, is that Faustman's method uses the kind of wrong stem cell, adult rather than embryonic.  That's a strong charge, but it doesn't seem implausible to me, so politicized has the debate over stem cell research become.

(By way of the Medpundit.)
- 6:03 AM, 8 March 2005   [link]

Boeing CEO Ousted:  And the reason is a little unusual, for a 68-year-old grandfather.
Boeing Co. abruptly forced out its president and chief executive officer, Harry Stonecipher, for what the company said Monday was a violation of the company's code of business conduct stemming from a relationship the married, 68-year-old Stonecipher had with a female Boeing executive.
. . .
"It's not the fact he was having an affair - that is not a violation of our code of conduct," the chairman [Lew Platt] said. As the company explored the circumstances surrounding the relationship, however, it discovered "some issues of poor judgment" that impaired Stonecipher's ability to lead the company, he said.
Issues of poor judgment?  So far I have not heard what those issues might be, but blatant favoritism is an obvious possibility.

As I have mentioned before, old style political machines, for all their faults, usually did not allow their leaders to fool around.  Frank Skeffington, the mayor in Frank O'Connor's wonderful political novel, The Last Hurrah, fires a man for that very reason.  And the old Daley machine had similar standards.  There are reasons for that, reasons that some modern organizations have had to rediscover.

Wonder if Move On will try to rescue Stonecipher?  (I don't know whether he's a Republican or Democrat.)
- 3:44 AM, 7 March 2005   [link]

Al Jazeera Is The Main Propaganda Outlet For Osama Bin Laden:  The network is widely suspected of collaborating with terrorists in Iraq to film attacks on US and Iraqi forces.  Journalists at Al Jazeera took bribes from Saddam Hussein.  None of these facts are secret; none of them appear in this review of a book on Al Jazeera.

That's not to say that the review is useless.  I knew that the BBC had close ties to Al Jazeera but I had not realized they were this close.
The emir [of Qatar] was helped by the failure of another experiment: in 1994 the BBC had agreed with a Saudi-financed station to supply a news service in Arabic; the partnership collapsed in 1996 over Saudi objections to the content.  It left 250 BBC-trained journalists and auxiliary staff members out of a job; 120 of the newly unemployed signed on with the emir of Qatar and Al Jazeera was born.
It would be unfair to give the BBC all the blame for Al Jazeera's failures; it would be historically inaccurate not to give them some.

The reviewer, Isabel Hilton*, uses an old, old trick to make the case for Al Jazeera:
When the war in Iraq came, Al Jazeera was again well placed: its widely distributed correspondents all spoke Arabic and the station adopted a stance of skepticism toward all sides.  It is a position that is unacceptable only if you assume that one side in a war has a monopoly on truth.  Miles, who spent several weeks during the invasion of Iraq watching Al Jazeera on behalf of Sky News, argues that Al Jazeera favored neither side. "Like most Arabs," he writes, "it opposed Saddam's regime and opposed the invasion."
In fact, Al Jazeera did not adopt skepticism toward all sides, but only toward the coalition.  As a result, it made many, many errors in its coverage, nearly all in the same direction.

Hilton realizes that an honest discussion of Al Jazeera's performance will not convince most readers that the network is not a propaganda outlet, so she drags out a moldy strawman, the claim that no one has a monopoly on the truth, to distract us.  Of course, no one has a monopoly on the truth, not even the BBC or its partner, Al Jazeera.  But only a fool does not recognize that some sources are more reliable than others.  The democrats who opposed the fascists in World War II were more likely to tell the truth than their foes.  American forces now are more likely to tell the truth than bin Laden and the other terrorists.

And those closest to the conflict in Iraq know this.  As it happens, we have some poll information from Iraq on the question of bias.  A newspaper in Iraq, Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed, asked 2878 Iraqis in and around Bagdad a number of questions, including this one:
How do you think Arabic satellite news companies are covering Iraqi news?

Neutral = 16.75%
Not Neutral = 7.25%
Negatively Biased = 76%
(Satellite news companies would include Al Arabiya, as well as Al Jazeera.)  Now I cannot, for obvious reasons, evaluate a poll done by an Iraqi newspaper, but this is consistent with much other reporting on the attitudes of Iraqis toward Al Jazeera.  Isabel Hilton may like Al Jazeera, but average Iraqis more and more consider them the voice of the enemy.

(*Isabel Hilton is an odd choice to review this book.  She's a columnist for the leftwing Guardian.  Her academic expertise, such as it is, is on China.  Her predictions on Afghanistan in 2003 proved wildly wrong.

But there have been many odd choices of reviewer at the New York Times in recent years, so we should not be surprised.)
- 8:17 AM, 7 March 2005   [link]

The Early Dan Rather:  In November, I argued that Dan Rather had quit the wrong job, that he might be an acceptable news reader, but that he was a terrible reporter.  Philip Chalk tells a story from Rather's early years that shows that he was always a terrible reporter.   Rather became famous when he was credited, incorrectly, with breaking the news of Kennedy's death.   In fact, Eddie Barker, who was then the Dallas CBS news director, was the first to go on the air with the story.  Rather was first with another story.
It was a different lie--one delivered on national news, and at the expense of children--that caused Rather trouble at the time.  As reporters from around the world descended on the Texas city, Rather went on the air with a local Methodist minister who made a stunning claim: Children at Dallas's University Park Elementary School had cheered when told of the president's death.

The tale was perfect for the moment, reinforcing the notion among distant media elites that Dallas was a reactionary "City of Hate."  It slyly played to a local audience, too: The school named was in upper-income University Park, one of two adjacent municipal enclaves that shared a school district and a reputation for fiercely protected, lily-white privilege.  Finally, for the ambitious Rather--a native Texan and then a Dallas resident--the account represented the very sort of revealing, local dirt that the throngs of out-of-town competitors would have to work far harder to get.

Except that it wasn't true, and Rather knew it, Barker says.

Approached earlier by the same minister with what was a second-hand account, Barker himself had run the story by the school's principal and some teachers, all of whom denied it outright.   Because of the shooting, which took place at 12:30 p.m., the principal had decided to close the school early, though without telling the students why.  The children at the school--including three of Barker's own--were merely happy to be going home early, he was told.  There couldn't have been any spontaneous cheering at the news of Kennedy's murder, because no such news had been announced.
Barker told Rather this, but Rather went on air with the story anyway, bypassing Barker.

Understandably, Barker wanted to fire Rather, but CBS stepped in to save the liar.  The network was so pleased by Rather's coverage of the assassination that "the incident did nothing to slow Rather's rise".  The quick promotion of a man who put on a story that he knew was false helps you understand why CBS has stuck with Rather all these years.
- 5:22 AM, 7 March 2005   [link]

Indonesian Muslims Are More Positive Toward The US:  Or at least less negative.  That's the central finding of a poll done in the world's largest Muslim nation
Based on a survey conducted Feb. 1-6 of 1,200 adults in Indonesia — the world's largest Muslim country — the poll found that 40 percent favored U.S.-led efforts against global terrorism — up from 23 percent in 2003.

Another 36 percent said they opposed those efforts; the figure stood at 72 percent two years ago.

Confidence in Osama bin Laden has dropped.  When asked if they thought the terrorist leader could "do the right thing regarding world affairs," 23 percent agreed.

In 2003, that figure was 58 percent.
One reason for the change is the aid given after the tsunami, of course.

But the tsunami isn't the whole reason for the change.  Despite what the article says, the Pew surveys showed small shifts toward the US in Muslim countries beginning after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.  (I discussed the 2003 surveys here and the 2004 survey here.*)  So what we are seeing is the continuation, at least in Indonesia, of a trend that began almost two years ago.  The tsunami aid greatly accelerated the trend, but did not begin it.

(*The Pew surveys were widely misrepresented, beginning with the Pew analysts, or at least the people who write the Pew press releases.  Even while their own polls showed opinion toward the United States softening, the Pew press releases insisted that it was hardening.  And reporters, who as a group are not very good at analyzing polls, did not notice the contradiction.)
- 7:42 AM, 6 March 2005   [link]

Mignons?  Washington state Democratic chairman Paul Berendt appears to be getting nervous about the chance that the governor's election will be tossed out by the courts.   He just sent out an alarmist fund raising letter, which contained this funny mistake:
"I am not an alarmist," Berendt wrote in the letter.

"This is not Chicken Little crying: 'The sky is falling.'"

"Renew your membership today at the most generous level you can afford and help me stop Rove's mignons [sic] in their tracks."
Presumably, he meant "minions", not "mignons".  The rest of the letter, at least the part that Postman quotes, suggests that Karl Rove is behind the election controversy here in Washington.   Which shows either how gullible Berendt thinks his contributors are, or how much Berendt has come to believe in the myth of Karl Rove.  (It's a myth I have never subscribed to.  Rove appears to be a competent political operative, but nothing extraordinary.)

When I read the sentence, I recalled seeing "mignons" before, but couldn't recall the meaning of the word.  It wasn't in my American Heritage dictionary, so I checked my Petit Larousse, since it looked like a French word.  There it was, and here's the meaning:
Nom donné aux les favoris d'Henri III, très efféminés.
(Name given the very effeminate favorites of Henri III.)
Since Henri III was assassinated in 1589, I think we can be reasonably confident that his favorites, however effeminate, are no longer with us.  If it wasn't a mistake, then Paul Berendt must think that some Washington Republicans are their modern equivalents, are "girly men", to use the phrase recently popularized by Arnold.  (I didn't know Democratic officials were still allowed to make such accusations.)  If so, will Berendt be man enough to tell us which ones?   I can't think of any Washington Republicans who would fit that category, though it is a big party.

(If you are wondering where I ran across "mignons", it was in Garrett Mattingly's classic, The Armada.   Mattingly uses a wide angle lens to depict the struggle for control of Europe between the Spanish and their opponents, of which the Armada was just a part.  Much of the book describes the struggle within France.  Henri III's mignons were used by Spain's allies within France to undermine the ailing monarch and discredit him with the Paris mob.)
- 1:21 PM, 5 March 2005
More:  An emailer tells me that "minions" is actually an Anglicization of "mignons".  I almost never use "minions", so I hadn't bothered to check it's origins.  Interesting to see how the meaning of the word in English drifted away from its meaning in French.
- 10:42 AM, 14 March 2004   [link]

Media Research  has a collection of Dan Rather quotes over the years.  Here are three of my favorites:
"If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners . . . . Tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we're pulling for her."  — To President Clinton, via satellite, at a May 27, 1993 CBS affiliates meeting, referencing his new CBS Evening News co-anchor Connie Chung.
. . .
Bill O'Reilly: "I want to ask you flat out, do you think President Clinton's an honest man?"
Dan Rather: "Yes, I think he's an honest man."
O'Reilly: "Do you, really?"
Rather: "I do."
. . .
"He [Mikhail Gorbachev] has, as many great leaders have, impressive eyes . . . . There's a kind of laser-beam stare, a forced quality, you get from Gorbachev that does not come across as something peaceful within himself.  It's the look of a kind of human volcano, or he'd probably like to describe it as a human nuclear energy plant."
Rather quoted in the May 10, 1990 Seattle Times.
I will miss him — just a little — because his bias was obvious to everyone except, possibly, Dan Rather.  I prefer Rather's open bias to the sneers and grimaces of a Peter Jennings.
- 7:25 AM, 3 March 2005   [link]

If You Are Invited To Perform At Harvard , don't get too "heteronormative".  That's the mistake made by actress Jada Pinkett Smith.  She was named "artist of the Year" by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, which honored her with a banquet.   The Foundation now seems to be regretting the choice.
After some students were offended by Jada Pinkett Smith's comments at Saturday's Cultural Rhythms show, the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA) and the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations have begun working together to increase sensitivity toward issues of sexuality at Harvard.
. . .
The BGLTSA release acknowledged that the Foundation was not responsible for Pinkett Smith's comments.  But the Foundation has pledged to "take responsibility to inform future speakers that they will be speaking to an audience diverse in race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender and class," according to the release.
So what did she say that offended them?  Mickey Kaus dug up an earlier article (not available when I have checked) with this quote:
"Women, you can have it all—a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career," she said.  "They say you gotta choose.  Nah, nah, nah.  We are a new generation of women.  We got to set a new standard of rules around here.  You can do whatever it is you want.  All you have to do is want it."

"To my men, open your mind, open your eyes to new ideas.  Be open," she added.
(If, like me, you don't follow Hollywood closely, you may need to know that she is a beautiful woman, a successful actress, is married to Will Smith, and has two healthy children.  So you can see why she might think one can have it all, though I fear that just wanting it will not work for most of us.)

I must agree with Kaus that she does sound a little heteronormative, and agree further that the members of the BGLTSA should be able to hear such shocking ideas without fainting — even at Harvard.

(I can't resist this mischievous thought:  It would be amusing if someone now played the race card in Smith's defense.  I don't wish for that to happen, but I would laugh.)
- 6:40 AM, 3 March 2005   [link]

Why Do They Hate Us?  Remember that question?  It has been a favorite of leftists in the Seattle area, as it has been for leftists in much of the United States, for years.  And it isn't a bad question, if honestly asked.  But it almost never was, since the leftists were certain they knew the answer.  It was our wicked policies and our wicked (or sometimes moronic) president.

Now in this area, two political proposals have shown that not everyone likes Seattle area leftists.  Legislators — and not just a few of them — from Eastern Washington have proposed splitting the state in two.  Immediately, a few leaders on this side of the Cascades said they wanted to be in the state without Seattle, despite the mountain barrier.

The proposal to split the state was followed by Representative Toby Nixon's proposal to split King county into Seattle and all the rest, a measure that has a fair amount of support outside Seattle.

Hate may be too strong a word, but it is certainly clear that many Washington residents, including some close enough to know Seattle well, dislike the city's politics and want to escape from them.  But are any of the leftists now asking why they are hated?  Are they asking why the rest of the state is so unhappy with Seattle and its politicians?  Not that I have noticed.

In fact, the same people who were fond of the question before, when they were not its target, are dismissive of the question now.  Urban imperialist Joel Connelly complains, in an argument that some will find eerily familiar, that Eastern Washington has forgotten what Western Washington has done for it.  The Seattle Times dismissed the question with a patronizing editorial, perhaps not realizing that the patronizing air* so common to Seattle leaders is one of the things that makes them disliked in the rest of the state.  Neither Seattle newspaper seems much interested in why so many people in Washington state hate Seattle leftists, or at least want to escape from them.

But it's still a good question.  And it would be interesting if one of the Seattle newspapers were to stir themselves enough to send a reporter to, oh, for instance, the wilds of Covington, or even Yakima.  (I can supply directions if those locations are unfamiliar to their reporters.)

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(*What makes the patronizing air especially infuriating is that Seattle is one of the worst governed parts of the state, something every Seattle journalist should know.)
- 5:13 PM, 2 March 2005   [link]

101.4°  That's my current temperature and that's why you haven't seen any posts for the past two days.  I'm feeling much better than I did yesterday but expect that it will be a few days before I am back to 98.6° and regular posting.
- 10:24 AM, 1 March 2005   [link]