Friday, September 27, 2002

Bias, preconceived notions, and apparent animus

I forgot to mention that Bill Simon, floundering candidate for governor here, has loaned his campaign some money, I think $4 million. This is a truly terrible practice, which other millionaire-candidates have used. Worse than regular campaign contributions because it means that every donation that comes in after the election goes to pay off that loan, so it goes straight into his pocket, and is thus even closer to bribery than normal.

Something else I’ve been meaning to mention is that the repeated claims that Iraq tried to assassinate Bush the Elder in 1993 were pretty much discredited by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker at the time. Happily, the website has just put that story online. And here's a current Hersh story on Zacarias Moussaoui. He suggests that the Justice Dept is looking for one conviction, the only one it could conceivably get related to 9/11, and doesn’t much care about how little the charges against him relate to reality, or whether he has any information. In a conspiracy case, you always go for a plea bargain to extract information, but Justice is unwilling to give up its shot at a nice, healing, feel-good execution.

I do enjoy the story about Justice accidentally giving him classified documents. The FBI defended itself by saying that some of its agents drafted in to work on terrorism after 9/11 didn’t know how to work with classified documents. As we all now know, the usual procedure is to lock them in a drawer and never act on them. The next Wash Post story says that the CIA director doesn’t like the staff of the House-Senate investigative committee. He accuses them of acting with “bias, preconceived notions, and apparent animus.” So he’s hiring them all as CIA analysts.

Daniel Goldhagen, who wrote Hitler’s Willing Executioners, has a book coming out on the complicity of the Catholic church in Nazi anti-semitism, including giving access to birth records used in finding Jews. He thinks the Church should have declared it an obligation to resist persecution of the Jews, as the Danish Lutheran Church did.

Milosevic in the Hague blames the Srebrenica massacre on...the French secret service. Didn’t see that one coming.

There’s nothing so fun as a good Tory party sex scandal: John Major and Edwina Currie, 1984-88. This is a guy who as prime minister had to fire several ministers whose affairs became public. Although there was one adulterous former-minister he never gave the cabinet-level job she expected: Edwina Currie.

From Newsweek, on the claim that Iraq is backing terrorism, including an Iranian group I’ve never heard of, which also used to be supported by various members of Congress, including one Senator John Ashcroft. And this is a group that killed Americans in Iran in the 1970s. In May 2000 he wrote to Janet Reno protesting the arrest of one of its members for failing to disclose her terrorist background when claiming political asylum.

The Bushies are extending health benefits to “unborn children,” including those of illegal immigrants, in a cynical ploy. My first thought was that if that’s what it took to get pre-natal care covered, so be it, but I’m having second thoughts. I think this policy isn’t just heading down the road to making abortion illegal, which I can deal with because the top of the slippery slope is not the same as the bottom, if you follow, but I think such a policy is already at the bottom of one dangerous slope, because it separates out, from a medical perspective, the health of the mother from that of the fetus. While the two are usually one and the same, when they conflict, I don’t want anyone putting their thumb on the scale in favor of the fetus. The policy would direct medical resources to the fetus in a way that treats the mother as an incubator, and this is not the way I want doctors thinking.

Can’t remember if I passed on the story about two Floridians who went fishing and found a severed human head, bringing it to the authorities only after continuing fishing another five hours. A detail I missed: they named the head Bob, geddit?

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