Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Poem of the Month

the mockingbird

the mockingbird had been following the cat
all summer
mocking mocking mocking
teasing and cocksure;
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
tail flashing
and said something angry to the mockingbird
which I didn't understand.

yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
with the mockingbird alive in its mouth,
wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping,
feathers parted like a woman's legs,
and the bird was no longer mocking,
it was asking, it was praying
but the cat
striding down through centuries
would not listen.

I saw it crawl under a yellow car
with the bird
to bargain it to another place.

summer was over.

Charles Bukowski

The new method is to reproduce beautiful poems with no need for exegesis or discussion. Besides, it's late.


NAZI comparison

Former Time person of the year and candidate for the US House seat for Minnesota's second district, Coleen Rowley, has a web site that used to contain a photoshop picture of her rival, Republican Congressman John Kline, in a German uniform during WWII.

The Democrats are up in arms protesting this baseless smear. Wait, no, what apparently steams the Kos horde is that it's only a Luftwaffe uniform rather than, for them, the more appropriate Allegemeine SS uniform. What was she thinking?

(h/t Powerline)


This Day in Ancient History

WARNING: Major Rome spoiler for next season, since there will be a second season a full year from now. On this day in 36 BC, Antonia ("Major") is born in Athens, Greece to Marcus Antonius and Octavia. She will live until 25 AD and be the grandmother of an Emperor and an Empress (similar to her sister Antonia Minor, who was the mother of Claudius).

CORRECTION: I have totally messed this up. Antonia Minor, the mother of Claudius, was born on this day. The rest is correct, or so I believe.


Thought of the Day

Maledictus a malefico non distat nisi occasione.


The difference between bad words and bad actions is opportunity.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Democrats Job Plan For Energy Independence

Chairman of the Democrat National Committee, Howard Dean, was on the Fox Sunday show with Chris Wallace. He said something interesting right from the start: The Democrats have put forward a jobs plan that has to do with energy independence.

I have been on alert looking for any sign of a plan from the Democrats (which the Democrat leadership last year promised to unveil about now) and I was dismayed that I had missed such an important unveiling. I searched the internet for the plan. This is all I could find, the December 12, 2005 plan on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's website: "Energy Independence 2020".

After I read it, I realized why it had passed under my less than phased array quality radar, it's a mess--a mixture of wishes and platitudes, and, I have to believe, a little prevarication. Let me explain.

Although the Democrats admit that: "High energy prices hurt our economy," what they propose can only raise energy prices, not lower them. Here are the proposals:

- Establish a national electricity standard that requires greater use of renewable energy
- Enhance incentives for energy production from solar, wind, and geothermal
- Increase dramatically the production of domestically grown biofuels
- Increase environmentally friendly extraction of oil and gas from existing domestic sources
- Encourage construction of the Alaskan natural gas pipeline
- Support the development of a hydrogen economy
- Promote deployment of advanced clean coal technology with carbon capture and storage

Solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels are not as cheap as oil and natural gas. If they were, they wouldn't need "incentives" to spur their development; people would be flocking to energy production from these sources because it is a good way to make money. So the Democrats are hawking more expensive sources of energy to cut high energy prices. Impossible.

The Democrats say they want to increase extraction of oil and natural gas from existing domestic sources but they vote for just the opposite. They block production of oil and gas in the west, off the coast and in a tiny part of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. The weasel words "environmentally friendly" also mean increased costs of production which are not conducive to lower energy prices.

Hydrogen is the fall back. When we run out of fossil fuels, there still will be plenty of water we can split with electricity (from solar, wind or geothermal) into oxygen and hydrogen. Hydrogen uniquely burns without producing CO2 so widespread hydrogen use will stop the rising CO2 level worldwide in its tracks--kind of a win, win situation. The trouble is, hydrogen is very expensive while natural gas and oil are still relatively cheap. So again, good idea, but if the goal is to cut energy costs, the exact wrong way to go.

No wonder the Energy Independence 2020 plan sank without a trace.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 9 BC, the Ara Pacis, the Altar of Peace, is dedicated by the Emperor Augustus on the spot where it still stands today, near the Tiber River in Rome. (See Luke 2:1).


Thought of the Day

Many people think the purpose of their faith is to make them feel good.

Lee Frank

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Friday Movie Review (late again)

Went with my daughter Alex to see Match Point, the new film by Woody Allen. I thought it would be good and it was pretty good, a little stately and long. Scarlett Johansson, who looked great, got blown off the screen by the good English actors. Or maybe she played such an uanppealing character (despite her looks) that I just thought she was bad.

Woody has apparently run out of anything funny to say and is reduced to recycling the old, bleak themes of prior, better movies. The World is mere chance without real love, meaning or justice to the Woodman, who manages to update Raskolnikov's actions in Crime and Punishement and remake Crimes and Misdemeanors (which also sucked the dusty marrow out of Dostoevsky's bones) all at the same time. Is it possible that he feels some guilt even now for seducing and marrying the adopted daughter of his long-time main squeeze, Mia Farrow, for whom the public betrayal and humiliation was like a murder? Just asking.

It's a good movie; not great.


Republican Heaven

Drove down with my old friend Nate to a Republican leadership dinner at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. We were Deputy DAs together a long time ago. Nate was much better at it than I was. Anyway, because his wife (the DA of Arapahoe County, Carol Chambers) couldn't make it, I was able to go and it was great. I met some politicians including the man I believe may be the next governor, Bob Beauprez, and I met some media heroes of mine, local radio guy Mike Rosen, and, even better, Hugh Hewitt without whom this site, such as it is, would not exist. I even saw an old girlfriend who dumped me years ago without a word of explanation. I still don't know.

Nate and I were doing Republican drugs at the Broadmoor--good Bourbon, and the evening just got better and better. I bought a soccer ball signed by all the Rapids for pocket change. I got to see some of the nuts and bolts (works and problems) of the Arapahoe Republican Party. I think they can iron most of the problems out. The guy next to me at dinner (whose name I promptly forgot, sorry), was an NRA instructor and he gave me some pointers for my continuing attempts to get better at double taps. Ann Coulter was the keynote speaker but it was more of a stand-up routine than a speech. She pointed out a lot of things I think we all felt (or most of us) and, like a true genius, she told us the bleeding obvious, which was always right there in front of us, but we couldn't articulate. The thing that impressed Nate and I was her observation that the Senate judiciary committee is hand picked so that Democrats from absolutely safe seats can say outrageous things about judges, which outrageous statements appeal to their sinisterior (every more to the left) base. You never hear the Nelsons, Baucus or Dorgan unfairly criticize the able judges, "it's always Leahy, Kennedy, Biden and Feinstein," Ann Coulter said. She is indeed prettier in person than on TV. I don't know why that is.

Nate said that there are only six Deadhead Republicans in the whole country and a third of them, Ann and he, were there in the dining room. He said she was a little pollyannaish about the future of the Party. There were a lot of worried people there upset with the party over the outrageous spending and the border, either of which could start the swing of the political pendulum back. Still, it was good to be in a big room with pretty good food and drink, and hundreds of smart, successful people who share the same views and values as you. It gave me a new sense of resolve and, dare I say it, pride. Thanks, Nate, and good talking to you after too long a time.


A Discussion of FISA Hypotheticals

Here's what I wrote a few days in an attempt to get some comments on NSA listening in to foreigners:

Abdel, in Karachi, Pakistan and Mahmoud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia are both members of al Qaeda, although no one in America knows this. They talk to each other on cell phones at least once a week to plan an attack on Miami, FL. They plan to fill up an 18 wheel truck trailer with ammonium nitrate and diesel, park it close to the Dolphins stadium during a football game there and blow it up.

Can the President, through the NSA, listen in on their conversations without having to apply for any warrant? If not, why not?

If Abdel travels to Miami and continues to talk on the same phone about his plans with Mahmoud to blow up football fans, does the President then need a warrant for NSA's listening in? Why?

Young Mike in Prague is the only guy who commented on them and he says FISA would prevent us from listening in on Abdel without a warrant once he sets foot in America. I have to say if that is what FISA requires, it is a really stupid law. We have no constraints about listening in overseas, but as soon as one comes here to implement the plan and kill us, we can't listen any more. That's beyond stupid; that's insane.

There's no chance of a warrant here because no one can link these guys to al Qaeda. I think when the al Qaeda guy gets here is when we need to listen in the most, because here is were he can get things done and people, Americans, killed.


Hillary Joins the Filibuster Rear Guard

"History will show that Judge Alito's nomination is the tipping point against constitutionally-based freedoms and protections we cherish as individuals and as a nation."

Hillary Clinton, at a fundraiser in Seattle (h/t Roger Simon)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says that everyone knows that the Democrats don't have the forty votes needed to block the vote on Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. So why the empty gesture by Senator Clinton? Is she being mindful of her base so she can tell them she did everything she could to stop Alito. However, appealing to her base puts off the centrists, who may well be the majority of the people of the United States. I thought she was positioning herself to appeal to the center, like her old man did so well.

I can't see the political advantage of making such a statement or joining a cause lost from the beginning. This is even more the case when other Senators, including fellow New Yorker Charles Schumer, say a filibuster will backfire and hurt the Democrats' chances in November. Of course Hillary Clinton is so much smarter than I am that I'm sure it is to her advantage to do this. Does she do anything that is not to her political advantage?


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 275 AD, the Emperor Aurelian dies. He built the great wall around Rome, much of which still stands.


Thought of the Day

How come the cry of love is so alarming?

John Hiatt in Thing Called Love

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Sound Advice from Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton, from the lap of liberal, multinational luxury in Davos, Switzerland, is reminding us that Rome wasn't built in a day and it takes time for terrorists organizations to pay the lip service to the demands of the West and take certain words of doom and violence out of their charters (or something like that). He counsels patience (which, of course, he had an infinite supply of regarding radical Islamicist terrorism).

Hamas told him to go intern himself. Well, not literally.

Hamas leaders said they're not changing a thing: no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel, and no removal from their charter of the part about obliterating Israel (which charter in Article 17, strangely talks also about an armed struggle against the Masons and Rotary Clubs. What?).

Another highlight from the Hamas charter: There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

Who doubted that? Oh, that's right, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the only two Democrat Presidents in the last 30 years.


Long, Hard Slog

Although we turned our attention to Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq over four months ago, it in only now that our local commander is declaring victory, and he has to call it a "fragile victory." Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's prediction about the global fight against militant islamicism (particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq) might have been a bit rosy.

I wonder if we have the stomach for such a protracted war; of course, if we get tired of it, the enemy will certainly be glad to remind us of the need to fight back.


The Forgotten Hostages

This is what happens when your kidnapping of 4 untelegenic guys get upstaged in the media by the kidnapping of a pretty, young girl reporter; you have to act like the UN does routinely and send out a cry for atention type notice that you really, really mean it about the next deadline, and you're not just kidding around.

I don't mean to be flip about the real tragedy of being kidnapped in Iraq. We all know how ruthless the militant islamicist terrorist are over there. I pray for the safe return of all the hostages; but I have always been suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the abduction of these four Christian peace workers, and what started as tragedy is beginning to sound like farce.


Routine Patrol

Marine Lance Cpl. Eliot Yarmura walks point on a patrol of Iraqi soldiers in Barwana,Iraq a few weeks ago. Why is the first Iraqi soldier behind him hiding his face? He looks like the Karl Rupricht Kroenen character in Hellboy. Isn't it the bad guys who are covering their faces?


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 814 AD, Charlemagne dies in Rome.


Thought of the Day

Metus improbos compescit non clementia.


Fear, not kindness, restrains the wicked.

Friday, January 27, 2006


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 6 AD, future bad Emperor Tiberius dedicates the aedes Castoris, the temple of Castor and Pollux, in Tiberius' name and in the name of his brother, Drusus. Tiberius had basically rebuilt the structure and some of it remains, three tall columns connected with a lintel in the south-east portion of the forum.


Thought of the Day (Dowdified versions)

Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

Benjamin Franklin

Here is what he really said in 1755:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

The version that appears on the Statue of Liberty's pedestal reads:

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

(h/t Michelle Malkin)

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Evil Twin Defense Fails

AP is reporting about the conviction of the Palestinian in Indianapolis for traveling to Iraq for bad reasons as follows:

Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban, who blamed his troubles on a twin who relatives testified does not exist, was convicted of charges including acting as an unregistered foreign agent, violating sanctions against Iraq, conspiracy and witness tampering.

To use the evil twin defense effectively, it really helps actually to have a twin, as I previously discussed.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 97 AD Timothy is stoned to death in Ephesus for opposing the worship of Dionysus. He was converted by Paul and received two letters from him which are now part of the New Testament. He is the patron saint of intestinal disorders and stomach diseases for reasons I can't begin to decipher.


Thought of the Day (Dowdafied versions)

Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing...

Vince Lombardi

What he actually said: Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing worth working for.

Quite a different thought.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


FISA hypotheticals

Abdel, in Karachi, Pakistan and Mahmoud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia are both members of al Qaeda, although no one in America knows this. They talk to each other on cell phones at least once a week to plan an attack on Miami, FL. They plan to fill up an 18 wheel truck trailer with ammonium nitrate and diesel, park it close to the Dolphins stadium during a football game there and blow it up.

Can the President, through the NSA, listen in on their conversations without having to apply for any warrant? If not, why not?

If Abdel travels to Miami and continues to talk on the same phone about his plans with Mahmoud to blow up football fans, does the President then need a warrant for NSA's listening in? Why?

It turns out that Mahmoud was born in Washington, DC, when his dad was a consular officer there, but he spent only three months in American and he's never gone back. Does the President need a warrant under those circumstances when Mahmoud's talking to Abdel and both are overseas? Why?

Why would we ever give up our technological advantage to obtain signal intelligence from foreign enemies during war time, especially in the sort of war where intelligence regarding planned attacks is key to thwarting such attacks and winning the war?

Why does the fact it's an American citizen, anywhere in the World, on the line with a foreign enemy deprive the President of powers traditionally inherent to his duties as commander in chief?

Why does the fact it's a foreign national, standing in America, on the line with a foreign enemy outside American deprive the President of powers traditionally inherent to his duties as commander in chief?

Answers on Sunday.


It Was There, But I Didn't Notice

But a better mind than mine did. Lorie Byrd at Polipundit has good thoughts on the Alito vote here. Money quote:

Every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voted against Judge Alito, and virtually every Democrat is certain to do so on the Senate floor as well.
This is a new and unprecedented standard, and Republicans should return the favor if a Democrat becomes president.
From this day on, every Republican senator on the Judiciary Committee has an obligation to vote against any judge to the left of Attila the Hun. Indeed, every Republican senator has an obligation to so vote on any judicial nomination that comes to the floor.
If a future Democrat president wants to nominate a liberal, or even moderate SCOTUS Justice, he will only be able to do so with a Democrat Senate. Just as a Democrat Senate would only confirm liberal nominees, a Republican Senate will only confirm conservative nominees.
This is the new standard that Democrats have created, the Alito Standard.
And, given that the red states elect 62 senators, Democrats will regret the Alito Standard for years to come.

I, for one, am not sure what Attila's political affiliation was in the context of early 5th Century society, but I recognize the allusion. It may be similar to ignorant people thinking Hitler was not a socialist.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 41 AD, Claudius is confirmed Emperor of Rome by the Senate at age 51, and he is a pretty good one for 14 years until he is poisoned and the bad Emperor Nero takes over. I can't stress how good the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves are. They are the best historical fiction I have ever read. (Also see Acts 11:28).

This is also the death day in 98 AD of Nerva, a good Emperor (if only by comparison to his predecessor Domitian) who only ruled a short time. He suffered a stroke on January 1, 98, lingered for a few weeks, and died at age 67 He was succeeded by Trajan whom he had adopted, setting a custom followed for the next several decades and paying off with 4 good Emperors.


Thought of the Day

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

John Stuart Mill

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Voted Out of Committee

Judge Sam Alito has been voted out of the committee and on to the full Senate along party lines--10 to 8. All the Democrats voted against him. For a comparison, Chief Justice Roberts was voted out 13-5, so three Democrats broke ranks (Kohl, Feingold and Leahy). We're not hearing any real talk of filibuster nor any real reason to believe that any Republican will defect (even the really squishy ones like Lincoln Chafee and the ladies from Maine) but even if they do defect (along with Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) who have also not publicly committed their vote), all other Republicans and Ben Nelson (D-NE) have said they'll vote for Alito and that makes 51--so it still looks like confirmation.

If Justice Stevens or Ginsberg quits or dies, I imagine things will get even worse though.


What's Missing is Telling

The trial for racketeering, fraud and bribe-taking, real corruption for shaking down builders for "contributions," by former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell has started and the NYT covers it here. Read it and consider what's missing.

It's not the race of Bill Campbell; in the last paragraph, the reporter reveals that Mayor Campbell is black (which information is appropriate to the last paragraph--who, besides the defense counsel pretending that race is an issue here, cares what race Bill Campbell is?). No, there is no mention regarding to which political party the Georgia politician belongs. Not a word. He's a Democrat. Given the Democrat talking point repeating the phrase "culture of corruption" ad nauseam regarding Republicans, might that detail have been worth a mention; it's certainly more important to the background of the story than race.

So the new rule is: In stories about political corruption, if the MSM story does not reveal the party affiliation of the accused--he or she is a Democrat.

See if that's right. Then check to see if, when it's a Republican who has been indicted, the MSM ever fails to identify that person's party affiliation. Fat chance.


Slightly Disappointing Great News

Before the election yesterday, the Liberals ruled Canada with the most seats in the Canadian Parliament.

Here is what the 4-party breakdown looked like:

Bloc Quebecois--53

Here's what it looks like now:

Bloc Quebecois--51

So, a win but not a blow out, Liberals only lost 30 seats and not all of them went to the Conservatives--lefty NDP got a lot bigger. Independence suffered.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 41 AD, virtually insane 28 year old Emperor Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, known as Caligula (which means little army sandle--don't ask), was assassinated during the Palantine Games. His lame, stuttering uncle, Claudius was selected as his successor.

Also this is the birthdate, in 76 AD, of the good Emperor Hadrian, under whose rule Rome reaches nearly its zenith with all of Trajan's conquests solidly consolidated into the Empire. Hadrian rules for more than 20 years and is remembered for the wall that bears his name, built across the top of England to keep the nasty, blue Picts out.


Thought of the Day

A nation is a society united by delusions about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbors.

W.R. Inge

(Like Canada).

Monday, January 23, 2006


Living and Dying by the Numbers

Weekend box office numbers are out and a pretty good movie, Brokeback Mountain, did pretty well ($6,200 per screen on nearly 1200 screens). A really bad movie, Munich, did worse and worse, slipping to #14 and reaching the dizzying heights of less than $38,000,000 in 5 weeks, which is only about half its budget before marketing. Movies have to work hard not to make money, because of DVD sales and fees for showing it on TV, not to mention overseas box office (which is the only thing keeping King Kong, a movie I liked a lot, in the black), but I think we can officially call Munich a flop despite the critics' near hagiolotry of it.

The current Christian flick, End of the Spear, opened pretty weak ($4,200,000) but it has a tiny budget so it might creep into profits. Disaster for Memoirs of a Geisha and The New World (that's two big flops in a row for Colin Farrel). The big winner was Underworld: Evolution with $26,800,000 gross and an impressive $8,200 per screen. There might be a bit of a drop off there next week although Kate Beckinsale continues to look quite good in tight leather. Who knew?


Oh Canada

The Tories have won but not a straight majority and the Liberals held on to a lot more seats than clever, but not prescient, Canadians, like Mark Steyn were predicting. The Western Provinces are overwhelming conservative, especially Alberta, the Maritime Provinces overwhelming liberal, especially Prince Edward Island, and Ontario is split, still leaning to the left. Oh, and Quebec is like a different country.

It's a start.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 726 BC, the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser II dies, Shalmaneser becomes king and Hosea takes the opportunity to seize the throne of Israel. (See II Kings 15:29-30 and 17:1-6). It was the beginning of a new age in Assyria. Israel remained about the same.


Thought of the Day

Fortunam citius reperias quam retineas.


You can find good luck easier than you can retain it.

(and the Broncos' good luck sure ran out yesterday)

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Short TV Post

The geekiest of the NRO crowd, LA Times columnist Jonah Goldberg, recently analyzed the latest Battlestar Galactica episode from a political point of view that is pretty cogent (which is probably why I missed it). A whole 'nother layer to this excellent show opens up.

Personally, I think it was a silly way to keep the president alive, even though they had to do it (she was so good in Dances With Wolves).


The Department of Justice on Foreign Wiretaps

It's a long, long read, but the Justice Department has issued a 42 page report on why the President is required to listen in on foreign communications by known or suspected al Qaeda members or their sympathizers. He doesn't need a warrant. Here's a PDF version.

Here's my synopsis: The President's primary duty is to defend the country as commander in chief of our military forces. Spying and wiretapping is clearly part of historical military activity (George Washington used spies to intercept British documents; J.E.B. Stewart had man riding with his troops who would tap telegraph lines and listen in on Yankee Morse code messages--who knew?). The Congress' September 14, 2001, Authorization for Use of Military Force, (AUFM), bolstered the President's inherent power to use all necessary and appropriate force to prevent another al Qaeda attack. The recent Hamdi case said that, even if the specific "force" is not spelled out in the AUFM, Congress empowered our President to take any action which is a "fundamental incident of waging war." In Hamdi it was holding prisoners; here it is spying on al Qaeda.

FISA is a 1978 law which prohibits wiretaps of American citizens "except as authorized by statute." The AUFM is the authorizing statute. Even if there is a question whether the AUFM applies to what the NSA was doing, it is a settled rule of statutory interpretation that a statute is not interpreted to create a constitutional problem. Since the President has inherent constitutional authority to spy on foreigners (bolstered by AUFM), the courts should not interpret FISA to impede that authority. Congress cannot take away by statute what the Constitution clearly grants to the President. The 4th Amendment is not violated because the President's spying on al Qaeda is reasonable under the circumstances of our being at war with al Qaeda and its supporters.

Oh, and the case law overwhelmingly supports the President's position on this.

Quod erat demonstrandum.


Honoring One of the Coolest Original Astronauts

The U.S. Navy has decided to name a ship after Alan Shepard, Jr. , one of the original 7 astronauts. He was the first American to travel into space (very low non-orbit), and later commanded the Apollo 14 mission to the moon (where he became the first -- and only -- man to golf on on the moon). (h/t Wizbang).

Great news! What sort of ship -- a fast attack submarine, one of the new class of guided missile destroyers, a new aircraft carrier? No. Decidedly no. The USS Shepard is a T/AKE class of auxiliary ship which has a primary mission of delivering supplies to Navy ships, transferring cargo and providing logistical support. Oh, man.

To the left is the T-AK 2046 Austral Rainbow, which may look a lot like the USS Shepard, which is still under construction in San Diego. Not exactly the Platonic ideal of a warship.

I know that we need munitions carriers, but name them after bureaucrats and put our heroes' names on the cool ships.

A naval aviator who retired a Rear Admiral, Shepard, who was awarded a Medal of Honor (space), a Navy Distinguished Flying Cross and two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, and who died in 1998, deserved better than this honor.


Canadian Bread and Circuses

Despite the excellence of Cirque de Soleil and I'm sure their bread is fine, Canadian citizens are sick to death of the very liberal mis-rule of the World's second largest country and are prepared to vote in conservative Stephen Harper, which means Prime Minister Paul Martin should be voted out tomorrow. I've been wondering how long the liberal's unabashed socialism could last in the Great White North for months now. Not much longer is the answer. Thank the Lord.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 49 BC, Cicero writes a letter to his wife Terentia and daughter Tullia urging them to leave Rome and join him (or failing that to barricade the door and post slave/guards). Those of us who enjoyed Rome will remember the scenes which showed that Cicero had fled Rome with Pompeii Magnus, but without his family, after Caesar crossed the Rubicon. I think I translated this letter 33 years ago and it bored me to tears then. It's not much better now, but I can see the context better thanks to the BBC and HBO. Tullia's life seems to have been rather short and unhappy. She died shortly after giving birth, in February, 45 BC, to a child of a man who had the year before divorced her.


Thought of the Day

There was a time when I believed that you belonged to me
But now I know your heart is shackled to a memory
The more I learn to care for you, the more we drift apart...

Hank Williams

Saturday, January 21, 2006


You Can't Fool All of the People All of the Time

The movie I think I hated most last year, Munich, has dropped out of the top ten for box office receipts. It is showing on 1498 screens in the US and has taken in about $35,000,000. It's tough to earn another ten million, let alone another twenty, once you're out of the top ten. Munich has been playing for 4 weeks and is R rated. I doubt it earns its budget back [with domestic box office receipts--I should have said].

A movie I thought was good, Brokeback Mountain, is now showing on 1196 screens and has a gross, in seven weeks (playing on ever increasing numbers of screens), of $36,5000,000 (about twice its budget). It had good but not excellent numbers on Friday of $1,806 per screen. It might make $50,000,000 domestically, but I doubt it goes much above that number. It's only made $2,000,000 overseas. It too has an R rating.

The first Narnia movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (from the second book by Christian writer C.S. Lewis), which was also good, and is about courage and redemption, with a PG rating, has made $590,000,000 world wide in its 7 weeks.

So, of course, Hollywood is planning more agenda driven, anti-Western values, depressing, R-rated movies, chief among them--The Da Vinci Code. No wonder box office receipts are nosediving.


Friday Movie Review

I'm sure there are good movies out there, I just don't want to see any right now. Apparently, I'm not the only one. While there will probably be movie theaters into the future, we might have crossed a threshold regarding the way we watch them. I see DVD becoming the main conduit for movies. Each year the DVD sales will increase and box office at theaters will decrease. I also see declines if Hollywood continues to produce agenda movies that no one wants to see. So here's a review of a movie I saw on TV last Thursday.

Tonari no Totoro (My neighbor Totoro) is a 1988 gem of a Japanese cartoon from the Ghibli studios, the Walt Disney of Japan. It is as wonderful as people who saw it were telling me for years and years (including my son Andrew). Turner Classic Movies are showing movies from this studio every Thursday--first dubbed in English and then in Japanese with subtitles (I prefer the latter). I see I'm late in getting the news out--only two to go next Thursday (Only Yesterday and Pom Poko-- the latter is not my favorite).

Totoro is an egg shaped furry forest spirit who lives in a huge champhor tree near the home of two little girls who have moved to the countryside to be near their ailing mother (we never know her sickness). Mei, the younger girl, 4, is I think the most accurate and complete 4 year old character I have ever seen. It's amazing. She's merely a series of drawings. I think 4 year olds are incapable of acting so we have to rely on artists to recreate them.

Not really that much happens, but it's funny and beautiful and it makes your heart warmer. If you have young children, buy it for them as soon as you can and watch it in Japanese after they go to bed.

UPDATE: My prediction about DVD and theatrical releases is apparently already coming true.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 63 AD, Claudia (daughter of Emperor Nero and Poppaea) is born. The reason you've never heard of her is that she died a few months later. It's not easy finding important events every day.


Thought of the Day

Politics is kind of like sport for old guys.

Mitt Romney

Friday, January 20, 2006


False Memories

25 years ago, I believe to the day, my parents, wife and I were at the stock show in Denver watching the last rodeo I ever saw live. The announcer was overcome with emotion for the back then recent release of the Iran hostages after 444 days in barbarous captivity (and perhaps with the inauguration speech of Ronald Reagan). He couldn't shut up about how proud we were to be Americans again. Then he said, "Let's all bow our heads and say a short prayer of thanks to which ever God you pray to for the safe return of the hostages, and if you don't believe in a God, then say a prayer of thanks to President Reagan." Or something like that.

I was the only one who laughed.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in Rome in 225 AD, the Emperor Gordian III is born. Who? He rules 238-244 AD and is remembered for nothing. He was killed fighting in what would become modern Iraq near Fallujah. The more things change...


Thought of the Day

Placere occepit graviter, postquam emortuast.

Caecilius Statius

I really liked her after she died. (not the motto of the American Society of Necrophiliacs)

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Accounting for the Missing

The BBC is reporting that nearly 3,200 people remain missing in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Another 8,000 originally listed as missing have been accounted for. Money quote:

Officials say some may have been traced without being removed from the list, while others may have chosen to vanish.

But several hundred names are causing particular concern to the authorities.
State medical examiner Dr Louis Cataldie said around 400 of the missing reports were from addresses in badly-flooded areas of the city, AP news agency reported. He urged another thorough sweep of the rubble in the area.

The focus is on 400 of the 3,200 remaining. Hmmm. Are the other 2,800 either counting mistakes or disappearances? Seems a high number to me. Some may be discovered to be dead, like Barry Cowsill of the pop group The Cowsills. Some may have died and been swept to sea, never to be recovered. I'm thinking the bulk of the missing merely left New Orleans and have no one to contact.

Call it the bowling alone effect.


Brave Attack

For the first time since the non-renewal late last year of a cease fire between Palestinians and Israelis, a suicide attack has occurred in Tel Aviv. The BBC says one killed (the bomber?) and 10 wounded, one seriously. Reuters says 22 wounded. Islamic Jihad is apparently admitting guilt. It looks to me like a case of so close, but so far away...

"All of a sudden a policeman came, he pulled him [the suspect] out, and started searching him," a man called Itzik, who was eating at a fast food stand nearby, told AP.

The suspect ran away and five minutes later the explosion was heard, he added.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 379 AD, Flavius Theodosius becomes Emperor and is in fact the last Emperor to rule the entire Roman Empire.


Thought of the Day

Quid Romae faciam? Mentiri nescio.


What shall I do in Rome? I don't know how to lie.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Hillary Clinton Helps Us Heal the Racial Divide

Speaking during celebrations of the birth of Martin Luther King, in Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) played the race card apparently just for fun. Asked what was the difference between Democrats and Republicans, Hillary replied:

For the last five years, we've had no. Power. At All. And that makes a big difference, because when you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation. And you know what I'm talkin' about. It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary point of view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard. The Senate's not that bad. But it's been difficult. It's been difficult.

The House has been run like a plantation. What? And you know what I'm talkin' about. No I don't. I don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Michelle Malkin does her best to explain it, as does Michael Goodwin, but other than comparing Republicans to slave owners, it doesn't make any sense at all. Republicans have never been slave owners; they were the party that stood for the ending of slavery. Election of the Republican's first candidate for President sparked the Civil War and remade the union for speedy passage of the Constitutional Amendments that actually ended slavery. The Democrats were the Rebels opposing the end to slavery. The Democrats were the slave owners, and members of the KKK, and the demagogues who stood in the school house doors to prevent blacks from attending. It is the Democrats who now run a metaphorical plantation of black voters.

So not only is it a stupid analogy, it is a baseless slur. And Hillary is perhaps the Democrats' best politician.

However, there may be storm clouds on the horizon for the Senator.


Thought of the Day

Federal judges have the duty to interpret the Constitution and the laws faithfully and fairly, to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, and to do these things with care and with restraint, always keeping in mind the limited role that the courts play in our constitutional system. And I pledge that if confirmed I will do everything within my power to fulfill that responsibility.

Judge Samuel Alito (soon to be Justice Sam Alito)


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in in 52 BC, Publius Clodius Pulcher was murdered by a mob in the streets of Rome, near Bovillae. One of the more vindictive of Roman politicians, Clodius maintained a long running feud with Cicero. This is the guy who crashed the woman's party and only escaped prosecution by bribing the judge. And in further proof that the ancient world was indeed a small one, his sister, Clodia, is the character Lesbia in a cycle of poems by Catullus and apparently a heart-breaking, round heeled bitch.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


France Has Aircraft Carriers?

Although we tend to forget French war prowess, I think because we are mad at them for stabbing us (particularly Colin Powell) in the back three years ago, they are a nuclear power proud and strong, with a navy with nuclear aircraft carriers, well, one carrier, the Charles De Gaulle, which rarely sails anywhere. They had another one, the Clemenceau, but it's on its way to the ship breakers in India. Slowly. The third, the Foch, was sold to Brazil in 2000.

Egypt has just agreed to let the Clemenceau transit the Suez Canal over the protests of Greenpeace that it has asbestos in it, or something like that.

The Clemenceau displaces about 27,000 tons. Our nuclear power Nimitz class carriers (of which we have 9--the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) being the latest) displace about 100,000, nearly four times as big.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 395 AD, the Christian Emperor Theodosius Magnus dies in Milan, Italy at age 49. He is best remembered for the Edict which ended almost all religious persecution. At least we Christians remember him for that.


Thought of the Day

Omnium consensus capax imperii nisi imperasset.


The consensus of all would have been he was capable of ruling if only he had not ruled.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Sniper Humor

I liked this paragraph:

December 9, 2005 (CNN) While interviewing an anonymous US Special Forces soldier, a Reuters News agent asked the soldier what he felt when sniping members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The soldier shrugged and replied, "Recoil."

(h/t Cheat-Seeking Missiles)

It reminds me of a question to a door gunner in my favorite Viet Nam book, The Short-Timers:

Q: How can you shoot women and children?

A: You just don't lead 'em as much.

In my imagination, Viet Nam was a way harsher war.


The Rough with the Smooth

Chile elected a woman, Michelle Bachelet, as president, Hooray! Good job! Way to go! She's a socialist. Oh, man, bad move, Chile.

"Bachelet has promised to maintain the free-market policies that have made Chile's economy one of the strongest in the region." Yea, they all promise that, at first. Buena suerte, amigos.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 27 BC, Octavian, nephew of Gaius Julius Caesar, is proclaimed Emperor and given the new name Augustus by order of the Senate. He will rule for 40 years and be the best Emperor in the same way that George Washington is the best president.


Thought of the Day

Partutiunt montes, nascetur riduculus mus.


The mountains suffered in labor, a ridiculous mouse was born.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Insomnia Theater

Watched 2/3 of Shallow Grave a few nights ago and I am glad to report that it remains an excellent movie, nearly as shocking now as it was 12 years ago. Although not quite the classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is, it has a similar theme (corruption of the soul by a boatload of money) and a quirky, cynical final scene that is rightfully called the best movie ending in British cinema in the past 20 years.

The director is Danny Boyle. He burst out of TV directing to helm this, his first medium budget film, and knocked the ball out of the park (or whatever the cricket metaphor for doing really well is). He went on to direct Trainspotting and more recently the ultimate zombie film 28 Days Later [Boyle is making 28 Weeks Later about the Americans coming to Britain to take over after the zombie plague had completely depopulated it and of course screwing it up. In the original the British government and army were the bad guys--now it will be the Americans. Euro-progress, I guess].

This was the first movie I saw Ewan McGregor in and he's terrific as the cynical, hedonistic reporter, one of three flat mates who inherit, by possession, a large suitcase of 100 pound notes when the new, fourth flat mate dies. That's not all they get; the vengeful rightful owners are violently wending their way to a visit, torture victim by torture victim. McGregor has gone on to do a lot of movies--my generation will probably remember him for the junkie in Trainspotting while a younger one will remember him as young Obi-Wan Kenobi. My favorite of his post Shallow Grave work was as an American in Black Hawk Down. The other flat mates don't fare quite as well. I've never seen the slightly less than Hollywood pretty, scheming girl played by Kerry Fox in any other movie. She has apparently disappeared into smaller roles and TV. The last and really the best of the flat mate trio, David, played by Christopher Eccleston, who is scary in his intensity as he goes homicidally insane, barely fared better. He was in 28 Days Later, as the evil, urbane Major, and plenty of other movies, but Boyle is apparently the only director who will give him a role of importance. He's the 9th Doctor Who, though, and the reviews of his work in that are nearly ecstatic.

To say this movie is violent is an understatement, because the violence has a nearly casual sense of realism, which makes it all the more shocking. I really like it and I'd watch it again, if I couldn't sleep, and I'm sure I'd enjoy it again. It's a fantasy/morality play, I guess. My only problem with the plot is how the very weird police discover the identities of the dead, bad guys. How'd they do that? I guess we're just supposed to think that they have their ways.


Vita Simul Artis

In the beginning of A History of Violence, a movie I really didn't like at all, there are two guys traveling about the country murdering almost everyone they meet, including children. I thought to myself, there aren't any people like that, are there?

Well, it turns out there are, and they struck in my old kinda home town (I went to High School there), Richmond, VA. The suspects are long time criminals, Ricky J. Gray and Ray J. Dandridge, who are uncle and nephew but are both 28 (Southern family values, I guess). These guys should be dead, to paraphrase Dennis Miller, before the 't' sound stops in their confession "I did it."

Grisly details:

What was discovered inside was so gruesome that homicide detectives cried. All four Harveys -- Bryan, 49; Kathryn, 39; Stella, 9; and Ruby, 4 -- had been bound with tape and beaten. Their throats were slit.


Five days later, police acting on a tip went to a working-class neighborhood a mile from the Harveys' home and found three more bodies. Like the Harveys, Ashley Baskerville, 21, her mother, Mary, 47, and stepfather, Percyell Tucker, 55, had been tied up before being slain in their home.

There's more:

The men have told police they slashed the throat of an Arlington man [who survived] on New Year's Eve, and police suspect they robbed a Chesterfield County [ south of Richmond] couple in their home three days later. In addition, Gray is a suspect in the death of his wife of barely six months, Treva Terrell Gray, whose body was found in November in a weedy lot south of Pittsburgh.

What caused this to catch my attention is that victim Bryan Harvey was a semi successful musician in a two man group, House of Freaks (best CD is Tantilla, named after the Richmond dance hall, dear to my heart, torn down in 1969). Another rock and roll victim of senseless, vicious crime.


Sunday Talking Heads Shows

I watch all the Sunday talking head shows I can without Tivo or a working VCR. So it's This Week with Stephanopoulos, the Fox Sunday show with Chris Wallace and the thankfully short Chris Matthews Show. I really miss Meet the Press.

Chris Matthews, a partisan Democrat TV pundit, had another all lefty panel, (moving from extreme to center)--Cynthia Tucker, Norah O'Donnell (Matthews is partial to fellow Irish derived), Michael Duffy (See!) and Andrew Sullivan (just imagine if it was O'Sullivan). The panel talked about the Alito hearings and proved that Hell has no fury like a Democrat embarrassed.

The criticism of the bloviating Democrat senators, though universal from every talking head, was tame, for example, on the much criticized Fox Network show, when compared to the Matthews panel, particularly Cynthia Tucker. She was still angry days after the debacle. Oh, and Sullivan talked about homosexual rights again, somehow tying it to Republican efforts to recruit blacks into the party (which they all agreed was failing badly).

Although he never let it out like the panel, you could tell that Matthews was disgusted by what happened on TV last week in DC, and in his closing thoughts apparently advocated scrapping the current system of bloviations followed by a question and then interruptions of the answer for more bloviating. Except that I'm always glad to give the Democrats the means to embarrass themselves, I agree. (Pat Buchanan said on McLaughlin that Senator Biden (D-DE) politically slit his own throat with his tongue at the hearings-- a horrifying image but true, if you gave Biden any chance to begin with).


When Not to Use the Evil Twin Defense

Most prosecutors have come across the evil twin defense (made popular by bad TV shows)--I didn't do it; my (cousin, brother, friend) who looks just like me, did it. Sometimes it's hard to get a conviction over that defense (as superbly competent, hard working attorney Nathan Chambers knows from the Crips golf club case). Other times, it's pretty easy to get past it, like when the cousin, brother, friend is merely a childhood pretend companion.

That last appears to be the case in the trial in Indianapolis of Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban, accused of acting as a foreign agent, violating sanctions against Iraq, conspiracy (et al.) for traveling to Iraq in late 2002 and offering to sell the names of American agents to Iraq. Shaaban says he never entered Iraq and maintains authorities have him confused with a twin brother.

Yesterday the good twin defendant's real older brother, Mohammed Hafiz Ahmed, 57, testified that no such twin exists. Their family has 19 children, including two sets of fraternal twins, but no identical twins.

Shaaban, who is representing himself, says that his brother is lying, but the brother has a letter Shaaban allegedly wrote from jail threatened Ahmed (who told jurors the letter said he might be beheaded depending on his testimony) while at the same time suggesting Ahmed pass himself off as Shaaban's twin brother during trial.

It's not looking too good for the Shaaban evil twin defense.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 69 AD, the Emperor Galba, 72, was assassinated in the Roman forum after a reign of just 7 months and 6 days. His successor, Otho, was selected by the palace guards, aka the Praetorian Guard. He lasted about three months. Sometimes, becoming Emperor of Rome was more a curse than a blessing.


Thought of the Day

Leges bonae ex malis moribus procreantur.


Good laws are created by bad morals.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Rare Sports Post

Concerning the Broncos/Patriots game, my observation is I'd rather be lucky than good. Well, the Broncos certainly were good at pouncing on Patriot fumbles. And I hope they have Champ Bailey do some 102 yard windsprints so he can finish strong next long interception. Turning point of the game. Bring on the Colts or whoever.

UPDATE: Looks like it's the whoever, the Steelers. Who would have thought it? The mighty Colts stall big time. Of course, if the Denver offense (particularly the running game) doesn't shift to a higher gear, the Broncos could be sitting out the final rounds as well. Still, they've gone a lot further than my prediction of 9-7. I'm happy to be mistaken here. Now if only the Avs can shore up a too porous defense. We need a mid-season trade of two extra good defensemen.


Hard Learned Lessons

Diomedes already covered the story that the Virginia murderer, who was executed in 1992 proclaiming his innocence, was proved by recent DNA testing to be guilty. Still, I wanted to repeat a lesson I learned in my rather short career as a prosecutor: A guy depraved enough to rape and murder his sister-in-law, might just be capable of lying about his guilt. I know it's a shocker to many a lefty bleeding heart, but now they have some proof.
I wonder if this is going to cause a rewrite of a future inJustice, assuming there are future episodes of that ABC show.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 82 BC (unless he lied about his age) Marcus Antonius, whom we call Mark Anthony, was born. He will fall on his sword at age 51 after defeat by Octavian, but what a 51 years! He's my favorite male character on Rome on HBO.


Thought of the Day

Solitudinem fecerunt, pacem appelunt


They made a desert and called it peace.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Cassandra Addresses the Democrats

Froma Harrop, if that really is her name, has some pretty sage advice for the Democrats over at RealClear Politics. Money quote:

Furthermore, it's not in American interests to assert that nothing good has come out of the war. For starters, we got rid of the mass murderer Saddam. For another, a fledgling democracy has been created. Its survival is no certainty, but the scenes of Iraqis voting -- Sunnis included, in the last round -- are to be savored.

The crazy thing is that at this very moment, Bush is doing much of what the Democrats demand: He's already started bringing the troops home. Reuters reports that defense officials are looking at a possible reduction to 100,000 U.S. troops by "later this year."

By "later this year," I bet they mean by Nov. 7, the date of our midterm elections. (Karl Rove has also seen the poll numbers showing discontent with the war.) The plan is clearly in place to declare victory and come home. As Election Day approaches, expect to see Republicans bragging that they've already reduced troop levels in Iraq by a third -- while exaggerating the good things that have happened in Iraq.

Then what will the Democrats do? What they should do is make a nuanced argument that the results, while mixed, were on balance not worth the sacrifice. But are they capable of it?

I have $100 that not one Democrat leader listens to her.


More Evidence of Civil War in Iraq

One of the better arguments against finishing the Gulf War by invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein, was that the country, freed from the tyranny of Hussein, would split into three nations after a bloody, Lebanon-like civil war. My friend Tony, a good man of the left, repeats this argument at the drop of a hat. It could happen. And there is evidence of a civil war starting up in Iraq. The local Iraqi insurgents are fighting against the foreign al Qaeda fighters. That's a good thing, as a famous felon is wont to say.


Slovenia Joins the Fight

Elements of the Slovenian Army are slated to join in the struggle in Iraq. Before you go all giddy with excitement about this possible turning point in Gulf War II, keep in mind that there might only be 5 of them going and they aren't actually going to fight.

To the left are Slovenian troops in 2001 (before they joined NATO), setting up what appears to be a Russian 120mm mortar. They have nice camo uniforms (probably not desert camo), and they're armed with the AK underfolders most eastern European soldiers use. These guys on the left may indeed be the bulk of the guys going to Iraq. Slovenia, for the geography challenged, was a part of former Yugoslavia, and is now a valued (though small) ally in the global war against militant islamicists. Welcome to the party, pals.


I Have to Admit It's Getting Better...

The old saying that life before civilization was nasty, brutish and short turns out to have been optimistic. At least nowadays we don't have giant eagles snatching us up and tearing our eyes out as one did to a famous skull, the Taung child skull, which was unearthed in South Africa in 1924. Money quote:

Ten years ago, Dr Berger and a colleague suggested that the child, about three or four, was killed by a bird. This remained an educated guess until Dr Berger read a paper which listed bone damage distinguishing kills by birds from those of big cats.
"These critical clues were puncture marks in the base of the eye sockets of primates, made when the eagles ripped the eyes out of the dead monkeys with their talons and beaks," Dr Berger said.
He re-examined the Taung child skull. "I looked into the eyes of the skull. I saw the marks - they were perfect examples of eagle damage."

Just a little better all the time.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 86 BC, the Roman dictator (this was before the period of Emperors) Caius Marius died at age 70. Born a plebeian, Marius became a great general, fighting under Scipio Africanus Minor at Numantia and then slowly, success after success, taking on command of the Roman Army, where he made many reforms. The result was a professional army with some political ties. Pompeii Magnus and Caesar would benefit from the army Marius created. Marius was made tribune and then praetor and was seven times consul before he became embroiled in civil war with Sulla, who at first beat him. However, as soon as Sulla left Rome to fight abroad, Marius returned, slaughtered all his enemies and took over as a tyrant.


Thought of the Day

The vast majority of the press is not concerned in covering what is actually happening. They are interested in covering what they think people want to think is actually happening.

Bo Peabody

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Press Accuracy

RealClear Politics, which should be a daily visit for everyone, featured the following story, Foes ponder next move in fight to defeat Alito, by Tom Curry at MSNBC. It contains the following sentence about Lawrence Libby:

Libby is under indictment for conspiracy in the leak of the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame.

No, he's not. He faces a multi-count indictment--one count of Obstruction of Justice (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1503), two counts of False Statements (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001(a)(2)) and two counts of Perjury (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1623). There is no conspiracy count and there are no criminal charges in the indictment about leaking anything, much less leaking Valerie Plame's indentify as a CIA analyst, largely because it is not a crime to leak the identity of a non-covert employee of the CIA like Ms. Plame was before she recently retired after 20 years service. (Just so, it is not a crime for me to say Porter Goss is now Director of the CIA). Nor can one conspire to commit a non-crime. All of the criminal counts Mr. Libby faces arise from his conduct during the investigation of the non-crime.

I have e-mailed Mr. Curry, urging him to correct his mistake. He could surprise me, but I'm not betting that he e-mails me back or corrects his stupid mistake.

UPDATE: Mr. Curry e-mailed me, apologized for the error and apparently corrected it (so says the commenter and she's pretty reliable). So it seems it was an honest error and I apologize for doubting Mr. Curry's honesty.


The Nation Magazine

There was a copy of The Nation magazine in the gym, so I picked it up. What a change has gone on since the last time I picked one up. It's small now, and printed on the same cheap sort of paper you used in First Grade with the really widely spaced lines on it. Under the leadership of Victor Navsky, who has left for greener pastures but is still listed as Publisher Emeritus on the masthead, circulation is supposed to have skyrocketed from 20,000 to 184,000, a nine fold increase--most of it in the past few years. That's not bad. It has about as many advertisements as The National Review, which is none too many compared to a flashy magazine like Vogue or Vanity Fair. It seems to be now a boutique publication for those who hate President Bush, and Lord knows there are plenty of them

The Editor and Publisher is Katrina vanden Heuvel, who I think is one of the more radical and bitter loopy leftists out there. It is a weekly (usually) magazine of the far left and it has a website, so no one can say it's not moving ahead with the times. I found this original policy statement, which is still displayed on the website, to be a little ironic:

The Nation will not be the organ of any party, sect, or body. It will, on the contrary, make an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration, and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred.
-- from The Nation's founding prospectus, 1865
[It's a pretty old magazine]

Ironic because if The Nation is not an organ for the Democrat wing of the Democrat Party, what would you have to call it--a magazine of socialist nostalgia? Ironic too because in the on line article I'm going to examine briefly, there were plenty of exaggerations and misprepresentations. Let's get to it.

The article was titled "The Impeachment of George W. Bush" by Elizabeth Holtzman. Since I agree with Mark Steyn that the Democrats should be encouraged to talk long and often about impeaching the President, especially for the NSA warrantless surveillance of al Qaeda, let me praise this article for its achievements. There were no spelling errors. Uh, it was almost 6 pages long. That's all I can think of.

What about the exaggerations and misrepresentations? Here's a paragraph where she gets busy.

Like many others, I have been deeply troubled by Bush's breathtaking scorn for our international treaty obligations under the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions. I have also been disturbed by the torture scandals and the violations of US criminal laws at the highest levels of our government they may entail, something I have written about in these pages. These concerns have been compounded by growing evidence that the President deliberately misled the country into the war in Iraq. But it wasn't until the most recent revelations that President Bush directed the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)--and argued that, as Commander in Chief, he had the right in the interests of national security to override our country's laws--that I felt the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I did during Watergate.

Here, in order, are responses to Ms. Holtzman's points. Because of its utter inaction in light of atrocities in Africa, the former Yugoslavia and the Mid-East and its rampant corruption and sclerotic bureaucracy, the UN is worthy of a lot of scorn. It is the League of Nations II, and has failed as completely and utterly as the original failed in the 30s. The Geneva Convention does not apply to al Qaeda, but when we capture its members, they are treated much, much better than any American prisoner of war has been treated since May, 1945. Why does she write 'torture scandals" in the plural? Abu Graib is the only scandal I am aware of, it did not involve real torture unless, ultimately, merely capturing and detaining an enemy or unlawful combatant is torture. In short order, the guys and girl who took the embarrassing photos have been tried and punished and the general in charge at the time replaced and retired. Violation of laws at the highest levels? Who is she talking about? Are there proven crimes by officials at the highest levels and only her readers know about them? Indeed, they must be so well known that she does not have to mention anyone by name. So far, she's a little light in the supporting evidence department. And what growing evidence the President deliberately misled us? Translation: yet another repetition of the tired lie, Bush lied. Apparently old slanders never die; they merely slink off to pulpy oblivion at The Nation. Then she mentions the main event--NSA surveillance of foreign enemies without FISA warrants and the declaration that the Constitution empowers the President as commander in chief with the ability to spy on our foreign enemies. Ms. Holtzman compares that to Watergate (apparently everything a Republican administration does can eventually be compared either to Vietnam or to Watergate). I don't quite see the parallel; Nixon spying on the Democrat party in DC versus Bush spying on al Qaeda overseas. Somehow it seems different to me.

There's more in the pages and pages that follow but no foot- or end-notes, no links, hardly any names (but Bush), and really no evidence. Here's a better example of her supporting evidence:

While many facts about these wiretaps are unknown, it now appears that thousands of calls were monitored and that the information obtained may have been widely circulated among federal agencies. It also appears that a number of government officials considered the warrantless wiretaps of dubious legality. Reportedly, several people in the National Security Agency refused to participate in them, and a deputy attorney general even declined to sign off on some aspects of these wiretaps. The special FISA court has raised concerns as well, and a judge on that court has resigned, apparently in protest.

I highlighted the weasel words. This is more like cheerleading than argument. There's more.

Ms. Holtzman rings the alarm bell about the coming Presidential coup:

...it is impossible to find in the Constitution unilateral presidential authority to act against US citizens in a way that violates US laws, even in wartime. As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor recently wrote, "A state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

Oh, so Lincoln acted unconstitutionally when he ordered the Army of the Potomac to march into Virginia and shoot anyone who opposed them, or jailed secession supporting Marylanders without charges? Although it's not a high point in our history, the Supreme Court decided that FDR's internment of American citizens of Japanese descent in 1942 passed constitutional muster. It can't be unconstitutional if the Supreme Court says it's constitutional, unless you're a Democrat who knows better than the Supreme Court. Ms. Holtzman quotes Justice O' Connor from the Hamdi case but neglects to mention that the Court in that case approved the President's actions even though detention of captured members was not specifically mentioned in the Authorization for Use of Military Force [against al Qaeda] on which the President relied to detain Mr. Hamdi. Holtzman later says the lack of specific mention of spying on al Qaeda in the same Congressional authorization means the President committed a High Crime to try to protect the country from attack by foreign terrorists.

You get the picture from these few examples. I think it's going to be a few more years before I pick up another copy of The Nation. I guess I'm too partial to proof, facts and logic.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 230 AD, St. Tatiana of Rome was tortured and martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Alexander Severus.


Thought of the Day

Multiculturalism is a kind of societal Stockholm Syndrome.

Mark Steyn

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


There's a Culture of Corruption...

..but is it in the Republican party? Here's the lead from an AP article:

A Louisiana congressman demanded bribes in exchange for his help in promoting a pair of business deals in Africa, according to court documents filed Wednesday with a guilty plea by one of the congressman's former staffers...

Court documents did not identify the congressman by name, referring to him only as "Representative A." But the documents make clear that [Representative William] Jefferson [D-LA] is the congressman.

Don't tell me we don't have good Democrat Representatives in the House, we have the best Representatives money can buy. (h/t Will Rogers).


Dark Echoes From the Past

If I paraphrased a question asked again and again today of Judge Sam Alito this way, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton?" would it stir any memories about Roy Cohn, HUAC and the Communist Party?

I'm a little confused, because I was led to believe that the Democrats thought that guilt by association was a bad thing. We have a constitutional right (it's in the First Amendment, in words even) to associate with whomever we want. Can I now call the Democrats anti-First Amendment, or would I be blaming them for what was done by members of their party--the Senators who were such jerks today about the Concerned Alumni of Princeton? Just asking.

UPDATE: Seems I'm not the only one thinking about the tactics we've unfortunately lumped under the term McCarthyism. Todd Zywicki at the Volokh conspiracy has this post. Hugh Hewitt notices a familiar churlishness. James Taranto makes the same comparison. I guess it was pretty evident.


Laughing at Joe Biden

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) had merely a half hour to question Supreme Court nominee Joseph Alito, so of course he talked, poorly, for eleven and a half minutes about Princeton, and other stuff, before he actually asked a question to Alito. I'm not sure Delaware is getting its money worth here. Does Biden have ADD? John Podhoretz over at the Corner at NRO says it was 15 minutes 22 seconds in before Alito spoke, and that Alito got in a full 72 words in the half hour of the so called questioning. Hugh Hewitt was making a big deal about a speech Biden gave at Princeton a few years ago, but for fatuous pomposity you don't need to go beyond his droning on and on during his questioning period. Radio Blogger has some good stuff too.


Sometimes it Helps to Read the Law

In an earlier post, I had stated what I thought was the central question in the NSA surveillance kerfuffle (h/t James Taranto) thus: No one doubts that the President can order our spies to listen in, without a warrant, on the telephone, and other forms of communication, of our foreign enemies, but what if an American is on the line with an al Qaeda member? Does that make it necessary to get the FISA warrant? I had answered no, and I believe I was right but I really should have looked up the law, specifically 50 USC Section 1801(b)(2)(E) which is a definition section and contains the following:

"Agent of a foreign power” means—

(2) any person who—

(E) knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).

So assuming that al Qaeda's call to someone in the U.S. is not a wrong number, taking the call and discussing plans, etc. makes one an agent of a foreign power by definition and no warrant is necessary for the NSA to listen in to the phone calls of an agent of a foreign power.

The New York Times' so called patriotic leak turns out to be just another case of accusing the President of doing what the Constitution and law allows him to do and what all sane Americans would expect him to do in time of war.


This Day in Ancient History

In the Roman classical period, on this day Carmentalia begins (day 1) -- a two-day festival (with a three day break between the days) in honour of the deity Carmenta, who was probably the goddess of both childbirth and prophecy. Possibly this goddess was represented here on Earth by the big fat red woman Niobe prostrated herself to in Rome on HBO last season.

(h/t rogueclassicism)


Thought of the Day

Every liberal thinks he's intellectually superior to conservatives; every conservative I know wants to think of himself as morally superior.

Paul Begala

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Ted Kennedy and Truth are Strangers

In an embarrassing pontification yesterday during his opening statement at the confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel Alito, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) shot himself in the foot (figuratively) on a few occasions.

First, he doesn't seem to know the name of the nominee, calling him 'Alioto' on a few occasions. (Here's the video--if you can stomach it)

Second, he lied about Alito's record. Kennedy said: "In an era when America is still too divided by race and riches, Judge "Alioto" has not written one single opinion on the merits in favor of a person of color alleging race discrimination on the job. In fifteen years on the bench, not one." But the truth is Alito ruled for Plaintiffs of color in Title VII cases time and time again. Even dedicated lefty Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky said on Hugh Hewitt's radio show that Kennedy was wrong when he said that.

He lied about President Bush, saying: "In an era where the White House is abusing power, is excusing and authorizing torture and is spying on American citizens..." The Democrats, of course, have no problem accusing the President of crimes, even war crimes, during war but there is absolutely no truth to this smear about "authorizing torture," and Kennedy knows it.

Finally, he cited a study he had requested of Law Professor Cass Sunstein which contains some bogus figures (cited by Kennedy) and the following (not mentioned by Kennedy):

A preliminary analysis suggests two points. First, Judge Alito's opinions are carefully reasoned, well-done, attentive to law, lawyerly, and unfailingly respectful to his colleagues. Second, it is fair to say that the law, fairly interpreted, could well be taken to support those claims. Hence he has exercised his own discretion, not lawlessly but in a way that helps to illuminate his general approach to the law.

Sounds like a good judge to me. (h/t) John Sullivan

Although I laugh at Joe Biden, grit my teeth whenever Pat Leahy speaks, doubt nearly everything Charles Schumer says, I am beginning to hate Ted Kennedy, the bloated, alcohol addled, truth challenged, ethically challenged, should have been convicted of vehicular homicide decades ago, least of the Kennedy brothers. Hate's not good.


Turning to the Dark Side

My friend Diomedes, always a connoisseur of the weird, has in his last two posts on this site, shown us the geek acts of the World's Circus Side Show--at least in Germany and Iran, which countries, truth be told, have always been located down in the dark end of the tent row.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 49 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar crosses the minor river Rubicon with his soldiers and moves towards Rome in defiance of the Senate. It is reported that he said at the time: "Alea iacta est." The die is cast. He meant, of course, that he had made a move which could not be taken back and the ultimate result of which was unknowable. The die has been thrown, but the number is not yet known. Notice too that alea is in the singular--one die, not multiple dice. Who plays with just one die?


Thought of the Day

Utinam tales esse sani perseveremus quales nos fututos profitemur infirmi.

Pliny the Younger

If only we could become when well, the person we promised to become when we were sick.

Monday, January 09, 2006


This Day in Medieval History

On this day in 1324 AD, the Italian traveler Marco Polo dies. I've always thought his greatest achievement was bringing Chinese noodles back to Italy to be incorporated into the national cuisine there--that and giving his name to the swimming pool game.


Thought of the Day

Simul ac [mulieres] pares esse coeperint, superiores erunt.

Cato (as quoted by Livy)

As soon as women are our equals, they will be our superiors.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Steyn on Those Who Would Grant 4th Amendment Rights to our Foreign Enemies

Mark Steyn just gets better and better. Now he's making sense about what is necessary to fight against the militant Islamicists who declared war against us and attacked us here with terrorist tactics on 9/11/03. Money quotes:

It's very hard to fight a terrorist war without intelligence. By definition, you can only win battles against terrorists pre-emptively -- that's to say, you find out what they're planning to do next Thursday and you stop it cold on Wednesday. Capturing them on Friday while you're still pulling your dead from the rubble is poor consolation... If the state cannot take action until its sworn enemy uses those materials, it had better be prepared to lose the war.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out the obvious. But, unmoored from reality, wafting happily into fantasy land safe in the hermetically sealed Democrat-media bubble, Sen. Barbara Boxer and her colleagues are apparently considering impeaching the president for eavesdropping on al Qaida calls made to U.S. phone numbers. Surely, even Karl Rove can't get that lucky


This isn't a hypothetical situation. Consider Iyman Faris, a naturalized American citizen also known as Mohammad Rauf and nailed by U.S. intelligence through the interception of foreign-U.S. communications. He was convicted in 2003 for doing the legwork on an al Qaida scheme to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge... In 2002, he was commissioned by al Qaida to return to America and procure the materials for severing suspension-bridge cables and derailing trains.

Do you want Iyman Faris in jail? Or do you think he should have the run of the planet until he's actually destroyed the bridge and killed hundreds of people? Say, the Golden Gate Bridge just as you're driving across after voting for Barbara Boxer and congratulating yourself on your moral superiority.

But, if you want Iyman Faris in jail, you better consider how you're going to get him there -- because, as a rule, the only way you find out details of a terrorist plot is by intercepting communications. And these days that means electronic communications, like telephones...

Read the whole thing.


No Witness for the Persecution

I wrote yesterday on the Drudge Report headline that Democrats plan to destroy Sam Alito's chances to take over for Justice Sandra O'Connor's seat by quoting from a 23 year old alumni magazine NOT written by Alito (but by someone who belonged to the same alumni organization) which stated an unfortunate truth. I guess, viewed in retrospect, that plan may not have been the actual key to keeping Alito off the Supreme Court.

Apparently someone in Washington DC agrees that such testimony might not be the ticket and have removed the person, Stephen Dujack, who would have talked about the alumni organization, from the Democrats' witness list for the upcoming confirmation hearings. Dujack has compared meat eaters to NAZIs, but that alone doesn't make him a nut case embarrassment.

(h/t) Dafydd ab Hugh at Big Lizards


Tom DeLay--1 Ronnie Earle--1

Although Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX) was able to get a judge to throw out an indictment without having to put on any evidence, a feat almost unheard of with a competent, fair prosecutor, he couldn't get the second indictment (which seems no stronger to me than the first) thrown out in time to keep in the battle to continue as the majority leader in the House. If that's what Earle really wanted to do, get DeLay out of his leadership role, he's won a round too.

I don't know if DeLay should get any special praise for bowing out, but it is the right thing to do (especially in light of the rumbling storm clouds of another round of indictments for playing golf with Jack Abramoff, or something like that).


This Day in Late Renaissance History

On this day in 1642 AD, Galileo Galilei dies. He popularized the viewing of the heavens with telescopes and changed naked eye observation of the stars and planets (and the silly connections people would draw between them and births on Earth), called astrology, into one of the great highways to truth, astronomy.


Thought of the Day

Remedium frustra est contra fulmen quaerere.


It is pointless to seek a remedy for a thunderbolt.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Congressional Research Service Report on NSA Intercepts

I just finished reading the 44 page report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on the legality of the recently leaked NSA program. You can read it in PDF form here. John Hinderaker at Powerline has a good analysis of it here. I'll try not just to parrot what he wrote and I'll try to be brief for a change. (Fat chance).

As I and other bloggers have written, there is one case out there which is on point, recent, and supportive of warrantless surveillance of foreign communications. In re Sealed Case No. 02:001, which states in pertinent part:

The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign information... We take it for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional powers. (p. 48)

Although the CRS tries like hell to make those clear statements meaningless, it really never lays a glove on them. That is the state of the law. While no one seriously doubts that the President can, without a warrant, listen in on our foreign enemies' communications, does the presence of an American on the line change foreign surveillance into the domestic version. I know of no case law so holding, but I do know of a long line of cases which hold that if only one side of a confidential conversation chooses to tell other people about the conversation or to tape it, there's nothing the other party to the conversation can to to stop that legally. The one side of the two party conversation does not have veto power over the decision of the other to tape or publish the conversation. I think that, similarly, the presence of one American during an overseas conversation does not veto the President's inherent power to find out what the foreigner on the line is saying.

The entire analysis of the problem by the CRS is I think tainted from the start by the repeated referral to Justice Jackson's concurrence in the steel mill seizure case, Youngstown Co. v. Sawyer. Whatever use a one Justice concurrence has in future decisions or in framing the issues, one thing is clear--it is not a statement of the law. The CRS either doesn't know that or it ignores the plain fact.

The analysis by the CRS only looks at one thing the President has presented to justify his actions, a December 22, 2005 DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs letter to certain members of Congress.v That is another limitation of the CRS report. One of the arguments in support of the President's course of action with the NSA, contained in the letter, is that the President's inherent, that is, constituional, power as commander in chief was bolstered by the passage in Congress of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which authorized the President to "use all necessary and appropriate force against" those who attacked us, or helped attack us on 9/11/01. That was al Qaeda. The NSA was appropriately limited to listening in on al Qaeda.

Therefore, the pivot point of the CRS analysis occurs in its argument whether the AUMF, combined with the President's inherent powers as commander in chief, allows the President to bypass anything required by FISA. The CRS asks this question: May any statutory prohibition arguably touching on national security that applies "unless otherwise authorized by statute" be set aside based on the AUMF?

The answer to that question is emphatically yes, so long as the national security matter is clearly part of the normal use of military force. The CRS staff didn't quite see it that way. More fools they.

In the Hamdi case, regarding the question whether AUMF allowed the President to take and detain prisoners of the conflict, it took Justice O'Connor nearly ten pages of hemming and hawing hand wringing to decide well, yes, he can. What foolishness. Of course taking prisoners is an inherent part of conducting warfare, unless you want to take no prisoners and shoot everyone who is unwilling or unable to fight back (a course of conduct we Americans have held to be barbaric since before we became Americans. Tarlton's Quarter).

Just so, sending out scouts and spies to see what the enemy is doing or planning to do is as much a part of armed conflict as the actual fighting, older, I bet, than uniforms or a rigid chain of command. Of course the power to use necessary and appropriate military force includes the power to spy on the enemy. To think otherwise requires one to adopt the stunningly absurd notion that Congress empowered the President to order al Qaeda members shot in the head whenever they show themselves, but if he wants to listen in to them talking on the phone, he has to get permission.

The President did the right thing, he should listen in on our enemies' communications without having to ask for anyone's permission, and no matter how the CRS analysis is reported (and the Washington Post does the normal job of depicting it falsely as both unimpeachable opinion and a sharp rebuke to the President's position) it is not that well reasoned or argued, and really does little to advance the debate.


A Justice Delayed

The Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) has apparently told the Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) that the Democrats will seek to delay the vote on nominee for Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito by a week. I'm wondering why?

Drudge has this story under the ominous headline: Democrats Plan to Destroy Alito. Apparently Alito joined an outfit called Concerned Alumni of Princeton or CAP. Here's the meat of the story:

Alito will testify that he joined CAP as a protest over Princeton policy that would not allow the ROTC on campus.

THE DRUDGE REPORT has obtained a Summer 1982 article from CAP's PROSPECT magazine titled "Smearing The Class Of 1957" that key Senate Democrats believe could thwart his nomination!

In the article written by then PROSPECT editor Frederick Foote, Foote writes: "The facts show that, for whatever reasons, whites today are more intelligent than blacks."

Senate Democrats expect excerpts like this written by other Princeton graduates will be enough to torpedo the Alito nomination.

One Democrat Hill staffer involved in their strategy declared, "Put a fork in Scalito. It doesn't matter that Alito didn't write it, it doesn't matter that Alito wasn't that active in the group, Foote wrote it in CAP's magazine and we are going to make Alito own it."

I'm not that worried. There clearly has been a push to put acquaintances of Alito on the road for local talk radio and TV shows to try to show what a great guy he is. I have to believe people with actual knowledge over a smear about something someone else wrote in an alumni magazine 23 years ago. And dare I ask this question? Isn't it true that here in America blacks do worse as a group on IQ tests than whites as a group? I'm told, however, that there's something wrong with the test. (Could be--I only scored a 122 and I'm way smarter than that).

UPDATE: Rich Lowry over at NRO has a good story about the truth behind some of the complaints we are bound to hear from Democrats during the confirmation process.

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