Thursday, August 1, 2002
A word from Seattle
Alert reader Carol fired off an e-mail to alert me to what I was missing in the Seattle papers in my absence. Yesterday's Seattle Times had a pair of doozies that inspired me to blog a little more.
First, we have a fairly standard "We hate the military" snivel:
We had planned an important trip for the first weekend in August (a family reunion), which we are now obliged to cancel having realized that the dreaded Blue Angels will be buzzing our home and terrifying our pets for three solid days. It is impossible to leave them with a pet sitter under the circumstances, as (the pets) quake and shudder in the basement or attempt to run away.
Must we go through this every year? And especially this year! After 9/ll, the roar of a plane about to hit one's home is less appealing than ever.
How are the Blue Angels funded and what do they cost? What if you were to simply cut them out of the budget and blame Tim Eyman?
John Aylward and Mary Fields, Seattle
(Notes to readers: Tim Eyman is a Seattle area anti-tax gadfly, hated by the local big-government types. The Blue Angels are the Navy's flight demonstration team, similar to the Air Force's Thunderbirds.)
The Blue Angels are in Seattle once per year, for SeaFair. The Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island, the Air Force Base to the south, Seattle/Tacoma International Airport, and Boeing Field (where several Boeing products are manufactured, and flown) are here all year long. Do they send your pets into a frenzy? If not, it is rather unlikely that the (relatively quiet) F-18 aircraft used by the Blue Angels will agitate them.
As to their financial sourcethey are funded by the Department of the Navy. The Navy spends a good deal of money to maintain and operate the squadron, but the public relations and recruiting interest they generate cannot be bought at any cost; they are an invaluable tool, and banning them because they displease you is *not* an option.
The next is a "Cuba is paradise, America is repressive" template:
I may or may not have just returned from Cuba. Either way, my hat is off to all legislators who voted to ease the travel ban on Americans traveling there. Simply stated, there could not be a clearer, more fundamental example of tyranny than a government that seeks to govern its subjects outside of its very borders.
Don Hanzel, Seattle
Except, perhaps, for one that doesn't allow its subjects outside of its very borders?
I've not noticed a great trend towards immigration to Cuba, but I certainly saw a lot of immigration from Cuba.
In any case, Mr. Hanzel's rhetoric is overheated; most countries have nations to which travel is prohibited.
posted at 01:32 PM | permalink | Comments (1)
UPDATE: Seattle reader FH informs me that I may have been a mite too critical of Mr. Aylwood and Ms. Fields. Apparently the Blue Angels can be a bit loud over the skies of Seattle. I will retract some of the vitriol from my original post.
Stupid letters from Florida
Since I am in Florida, not in Washington, I am reading the Florida papers. While southwest Florida is much more conservative and sedate than the Seattle area, they have their cranks here, as evidenced by this letter from the Fort Myers News-Press:
Now that President Bush has repudiated the international treaty establishing an International Criminal Court (which would act only if national courts did not,) signed by the previous president, one wonders how this act will be viewed in the schools and slums of the Third World. Will other nations follow our example and repudiate international agreements on anti-terrorism? In an environment of hatred and envy for United States, how many more terrorists and terrorist supporters do you suppose this act will create? Our country’s arrogance smacks of colonialism.
W. DEXTER BELLAMY, Fort Myers
I have a couple of thoughts on this.
Firstly, the ICC is already being exploited as an anti-Israel/Anti-US tool, precisely as feared by the Bush administration. (If you don't recognize the conflation of the two countries in the minds of terrorist extremists, you are too stupid to walk the streets and should be committed immediately.) That is one of the reasons the US won't be a party to the treaty, and it is interesting that Clinton waited until AFTER the election was decided to sign it. If it was so important to him, why did he wait so long? The treaty was over two years old at that time; in fact, Senegal ratified it 2 February 1999. I wonder if the treaty would have been signed if Gore had won the election.
Secondly, the ICC violates the fifth and sixth amendments to the bill of rights. It contravenes three sections of each amendment. (The Cato Institute has a nice analysis here; while four years old, the information is still pertinent.) The rights guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution cannot be negotiated away, treaty or no treaty; the Clinton administration refused to acknowledge this when Clinton signed the treaty on the last day of the 20th century.
Mr. Bellamy references anti-terrorism agreements. While a few codicils are attached to UN charters, the nations that sponsor or knowingly harbor terrorists are not signatories to the treaties in any case, so there is little to fear from threats to withdraw from agreements that they don't recognize. Further, despite the agreements in place and extradition treaties negotiated between countries, most EU nations will not extradite criminals to the US if they might be subjected to the death penalty. France has already refused to extradite two murderers to the US on the grounds that their civil rights are endangered by following the terms of the extradition treaty negotiated between the two countries. (This isn't a sweeping multilateral agreement, this is an agreement between the two countries). What is to stop other countries from doing the same?
"Our arrogance smacks of colonialism". I think not. Unlike most of Europe, and Japan, we had only two colonies, one of which was granted independence four years after our acquisition (Cuba). The other was scheduled for independence in the early 1940's, but the Second World War pushed back the timetable a few years (the Philippines). Neither of these territories was raped by the US in the colonial fashion Mr. Bellamy implies, and holding our constitution above the whims of international opinion is not colonialism in any case. One may make the argument that it is provincial (or parochial, perhaps), but I hardly believe that contravening our constitution on the altar of world opinion is a trivial matter.
posted at 09:37 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
UN releases Jenin report
Yep. I'm still around.
If you've e-mailed me, or linked to me recently, I've noticed. I'll be updating the bloglist this weekend, and responding to e-mail at that time.
Now, the subject of this post, from the Beeb:
UN says no massacre in Jenin
We've not heard this for a while, but the UN report puts the final nail in the coffin of the "massacre" that never occurred. 52 Palestinian deaths, half of whom were civilians (by this, I assume they mean non-combatants; it's a semantic distinction, but an important one). Of course, the condemnation of the Israeli use of tanks is noted, as is the refused cooperation from the Israeli military, but it also notes the Palestinian fondness for hiding terrorist leaders in densely populated areas, as well the booby traps they set (which, while intended to kill IDF soldiers, also imperiled non-combatants).
Of course, it has its shortcomings, as well: It discusses the Israeli policy of detaining ("attacking") ambulances, but it fails to note that the Palestinians were using them as high-speed explosives ferries, and it grouses about curfews restricting the diets of Palestinian civilians. Of course, if the attacks originating in Jenin hadn't occurred, then this wouldn't be an issue, but that is another discussion.
The Palestinian negotiator Saec Erekat rejected the report's findings, insisting that a massacre did occur. (For once, the UN releases a report with which the Palestinians disagree, and Palestinians are beside themselves with ragethe nerve of the UN team to disagree with our assertions!)
"How many civilians must be killed to speak of a massacre?"
I don't know; the Palestinians have been screaming their damn heads off about the 14 killed in Gaza city, but they've been strangely silent about the 19 killed in Jerusalem in June, the 17 killed on a bus in Megiddo (also in June), the 29 killed in Netanya in March...an incomplete list (only includes attacks up until June 19) can be found here.
This Palestinian doubletalk makes me ill. (After looking over the list to which I have linked, I actually feel queasy). At least the UN has finally released a report which assigns some blame to the Arabs, instead of "it's all Israel's fault", which has been the norm.
As an aside, five of the seven killed in the university bombing were AMERICANS, not Israelis, and ten of the dozens who were injured were Israeli Arabs. The Bush administration released a very strongly worded statement about the attack, but still held out the hope of peace. I think they are misguided; the Palestinian terrorists will not (or can not) respond to reason.
posted at 08:27 AM | permalink | Comments (1)
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Today's Seattle Times letters page is a fascinating (and sometimes repulsive) study in contrasts regarding the Israeli attack on the Hamas asshole they wasted last week.
I'm not going to quote all of the items, but there is a radical polarization in the letters, and for the most part the Times did a good job of alternating anti-Israeli and anti-Palestinian pieces. (They alternate until the last two, both anti-Israel and the last anti-Bush as well). Regular readers know exactly where my sympathies lie, but here's a snippet from the next to last, and most offensive, of the letters:
When a Palestinian blows himself up with a home-made bomb, killing Israeli soldiers and civilians, he is a terrorist; but when Israel, with a U.S.-supplied F-16 fighter jet, bombs a house, killing one Hamas leader, over a dozen innocent Palestinians and injuring well over 100 Palestinian people, Israel is just acting a little out of line.
You're damn right that when a Palestinian walks into a crowded restaurant and blows himself up, killing scores of totally innocent people, he is a terrorist. There is no strategic advantage to blowing up innocent civilians.
Israel's targeting of the MILITARY LEADER OF HAMAS (note the title) resulted in some unfortunate additional deaths. It is regrettable that the children died, but the rest of the people who were killed got what was coming to them. Surrendering a known murderer to the Israelis would have prevented the deaths, as they Israelis would have had no reason to attack if Shahadeh was in custody or dead. Absent those conditions, Israel was totally justified in the course of action they took. Hamas has declared war on Israel; people die in wars, sometimes even innocents.
And of course, we have the "US-supplied F-16" trope. If the fighter had been a Soviet Su-27, would the deaths have been justified? How about if it was a French Mirage or Rafale? The fact that this writer found a need to tie the US in speaks volumes to his mindset about how the world works.
posted at 04:25 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Live from Fort Myers Beach...
I'm back online. I had intended to blog last night, but a sudden change of plans forced me to reevaluate.
My mother had booked us a week in a nice 2/2 condo, directly on the beach, last month. When we arrived, we found that the management company had booked another family over top of us, LAST WEEK. They had a two-week booking that started last week, so they were already moved in. The complex was totally booked (no surprise, as this time of year is very busy for SW Florida). Of course, being Saturday, the management company (bluegreen is their name) was closed. We had groceries in the car, and no place to stay. After 20 phone calls, we found a couple of possibilities (we needed two rooms and a kitchen, which meant that most of the hotels were out. We also weren't going to spend $1500 or so for a premium suite). None of the possibilities panned outthey were either not available, not answering, or not up to our standards. We finally found one (next to a dive that was not an option), and they had one unit left, at a reasonable price. It's a bit smaller than we'd have preferred, but it is nice, clean, and has a wonderful view of the Gulf of Mexico from the living room and bedroom windows, and a nice screened patio that overlooks the gulf as well.
I'll probably post something later tonight, but I want to catch up with all the news I've missed elsewhere on the other blogs.
posted at 08:39 AM | permalink | Comments (0)