Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Oxymoron: Conservative Rock-and-Roll

John J. Miller over at the National Review has a list of the top 50 conservative rock songs (the only 50 conservative rock songs). Here are the 5 he gets right and the 5 he gets wrong.


1. Taxman by the Beatles--"Let me tell you how it will be; There's one for you, nineteen for me. ... Should five per cent appear too small, Be thankful I don't take it all." I'd say the confiscatorily progressive British income tax of the mid-60s hit the Liverpool lads pretty hard. The late George Harrison wrote this gem early on.

2. 20th Century Man by the Kinks--from the too often overlooked Muswell Hillbillies album (Skin and Bone is another favorite song thereon), Ray Davies is dead on with his complaints about socialist tending Britain. "I was born in a welfare state Ruled by bureaucracy Controlled by civil servants And people dressed in grey Got no privacy, got no liberty. 'Caus the twentieth century people Took it all away from me."

3. Neighborhood Bully by Bob Dylan--is pro Israel. Need I say more? "Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace, They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease. Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep. They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep. He's the neighborhood bully."

4. Get Over It by the Eagles--might actually be just anti-southern California but it's good anti-southern California. "You drag it around like a ball and chain You wallow in the guilt; you wallow in the pain You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown Got your mind in the gutter, bringin' everybody down Complain about the present and blame it on the past I'd like to find your inner child and kick its little ass. Get over it Get over it. All this bitchin' and moanin' and pitchin' a fit Get over it, get over it."

5. Don't Tread on Me by Metallica--"to secure peace is to prepare for war." Straight and to the point American mainstream martial thinking. And the title has a long, noble pedigree, too.


1. The Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin--don't get me wrong, this is a great song, with supporting vocals by the late Sandy Denny, but it has the political content of an apple. "The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath, The drums will shake the castle wall, the ringwraiths ride in black, Ride on. Sing as you raise your bow, shoot straighter than before. No comfort has the fire at night that lights the face so cold. Oh dance in the dark of night, Sing to the morning light. The magic runes are writ in gold to bring the balance back. Bring it back. At last the sun is shining, The clouds of blue roll by, With flames from the dragon of darkness, the sunlight blinds his eyes." This is just warmed over Lord of the Rings.

2. Der Kommissar by Falco-- is as apolitical a song ever sung in German (and English) about a black whore in Berlin. Pass auf: "Ja, sie war jung, Das Herz so rein und weiß Und jede Nacht hat ihren Preis, Sie sagt: “Sugar Sweet, Ya got me rappin' to the heat!” Ich verstehe, sie ist heiß. Sie sagt: “Baby, you know, I miss my funky friends,” Sie meint Jack und Joe und Jill. Mein Funkverständnis" (trans.) Yes, she was young, the heart so clean and white and ever night had your price. She said, "Sugar Sweet, Ya got me rappin' to the heat!” I understand, she is hot, she said, "Baby, you know, I miss my funky friends," She meant Jack and Joe and Jill. My funk understanding.

3. Won't Get Fooled Again by the Who--again a great song, but I'm seriously doubting it has any conservative political content, despite its attempt to be a political song. "I'll move myself and my family aside If we happen to be left half alive I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky For I know that the hypnotized never lie Do ya? Yeah! There's nothing in the street Looks any different to me And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye And the party on the left Is now the party on the right And the beards have all grown longer overnight."

4. Cult of Personality by In Living Colour--I love this song, and I play it very loud often, but I can't find any conservative values in it: "Neon lights, A Nobel Prize The mirror speaks, the reflection lies You don't have to follow me Only you can set me free I sell the things you need to be I'm the smiling face on your T.V. I'm the Cult of Personality I exploit you still you love me." At best this is pseudointellectual dissatisfaction with fame.

5. Keep Your Hands to Yourself by the Georgia Satellites--do you really think that the singer is celebrating the fact that his girl won't have sex with him before marriage? That's when she told me a story 'bout free milk and a cow" and "you see I wanted her real bad and I was about to give in that's when she started talkin' true love started talkin' about sin" Any mention of a wedding happening in the song?


Good American Fun

Although it's not the Indianapolis 500 (it's not even Talladega, more's the pity) there are few things more American than car races on the Memorial Day, which is where I was, up I-25 a ways, near Erie, at the Colorado National Speedway, with Sheila (who was comped the tickets) watching the races.

The cub scouts and a three man barbershop quartet started us off. Everyone stood and removed their baseball type cap, even the girls. You could have heard a pin drop before the Anthem (in English) started.
The most fun were the spectators who were chosen to do a single elimination tournament in their street cars during the intermission. I was banking on a primer gray Datsun 280-Z but it developed transmission problems. The late model 'Vette took it, beating a Ford F350 "Dooley" by a wide margin. It just doesn't seem to help to turbo-charge diesel, although the truck made it to the finals. Then there were more roundy rounders until it got pretty cold on the windy plains and we went home.

Sammy Haggar (I swear) was there, but with the course only 3/8ths of a mile, I bet he could drive 55, and win. It was pretty fun, but I doubt I've become a diehard NASCAR fan. Compared to those guys, this was like watching a high school, pick up, 4 on 4 basketball game. Not bad, but not the best either.

There was a sci fi fan body type prevalent. The word of the day was 'caution.' I had some funnel cake. It was just as I remembered. I think there were several thousand people there. Who knew?



This is the first anniversary of blogging at this site. I want to thank all of our, on average, 110 daily readers and particularly the ones returning and providing their decidedly above average comments.

Readership at that level makes us a third rate site and we aspire to be second rate with 500 per day average. Excelsior.


Sun Rises in East; Dog Bites Man

John Allen Muhammad, one of the Washington snipers, was convicted, again, of murder, this time of 6 victims in Maryland, where there is no death penalty. I can see it as a form of insurance if something goes wrong in the appeal in the Virginia cases, where he received the death penalty, but it appears otherwise to be a waste of prosecutorial and judicial resources. Any other state want to sentence someone with a death sentence to life in prison?


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 455 AD, Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus, who had ruled a whole 70 days, is torn apart by a mob deep into Vandal panic. This is the end of a line of Roman Emperors and the beginning of a very low point in the history of the western Empire.


Thought of the Day

How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Paul, You Self-Proclaimed Ignorant Slut

CU law professor Paul Campos writes an unintentionally hilarious opinion piece about global warming. I have to give him some praise for being honest, but it is a weird combination and therefore funny.

He starts off on shaky ground calling an anti-hysteria commercial "hilariously dishonest" and "so ridiculous on its face". What is getting him so worked up? The claim that CO2 is a naturally occurring atmospheric gas. Regarding the commercial he disdains, he says:

The idea, you see, is that carbon dioxide is a good and natural kind of gas. We exhale it, while plants consume it. It's just part of the circle of life, so what is it with these wacky environmentalists and their irrational hatred of good old CO2?

But of course CO2 is a naturally occurring atmospheric gas which we do indeed exhale and on which plants rely. The problem, as with other necessities of life, is the amount. We all need water to live, for example, but too much and we drown. We need oxygen to live, but too much and we pass out and die. So what does the professor know regarding claims that we have too much CO2 in the atmosphere?

Like 99.87 percent of the people who are opining on the issue, I haven't actually studied the scientific literature relating to global warming.

Oh. But he knows the commercials are bunk. Got it.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 542 AD, according to tradition, Arthur, King of the Britons, died.


Thought of the Day

In amore forma plus valet quam auctoritas.


In love, beauty counts for more than good advice.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Rare Sports Post

The San Diego Padres are wearing three color desert camo uniform tops in today's game against the Rockies. Very cool, seeing it's memorial day and San Diego has such strong ties to our military. It's 4-0 Rockies in the 8th. Ultimately, I think our current non-computer generated desert camo is derived from the fabled leibermuster the Germans were preparing to wear as WWII ended. You make the call.


A View of Djibouti

Except he's facing the camera.

Tech. Sgt. Josh Cowger looks out the back of a C-130 Hercules after dropping 304th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron jumpers near Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, Africa. Sergeant Cowger is from Valdosta, Ga. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer Roger S. Duncan).


Poem of the Month

Into Battle

The naked earth is warm with spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun's gaze glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze;
And life is colour and warmth and light,
And a striving evermore for these;
And he is dead who will not fight;
And who dies fighting has increase.

The fighting man shall from the sun
Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth;
Speed with the light-foot winds to run,
And with the trees to newer birth;
And find, when fighting shall be done,
Great rest, and fullness after dearth.

All the bright company of Heaven
Hold him in their high comradeship,
The Dog-Star, and the Sisters Seven,
Orion's Belt and sworded hip.

The woodland trees that stand together,
They stand to him each one a friend;
They gently speak in the windy weather;
They guide to valley and ridge's end.

The kestrel hovering by day,
And the little owls that call by night,
Bid him be swift and keen as they,
As keen of ear, as swift of sight.

The blackbird sings to him, "Brother, brother,
If this be the last song you shall sing,
Sing well, for you may not sing another;
Brother, sing."

In dreary, doubtful, waiting hours,
Before the brazen frenzy starts,
The horses show him nobler powers;
O patient eyes, courageous hearts!

And when the burning moment breaks,
And all things else are out of mind,
And only joy of battle takes
Him by the throat, and makes him blind,

Through joy and blindness he shall know,
Not caring much to know, that still
Nor lead nor steel shall reach him, so
That it be not the Destined Will.

The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air death moans and sings;
But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,
And Night shall fold him in soft wings.

Julian Grenfell (born March 30, 1888--died of wounds at Ypres May 26, 1915)


This Day in History

On this day in 1857, Middle East academics and scholars announce that Akkadian cuneiform has been deciphered. This is a major breakthrough, as it unlocks the Assyrian civilization for Biblical and historical study.


Thought of the Day

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

Popularly attributed to Plato but probably from George Santayana

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Paranoia Strikes Deep

I'm reproducing another blog site posting (Tom Elia at The New Editor) in its entirety because there is no way to improve on it.

"People Who Don't Understand How America Works"

Andrew Sullivan has this for his "Quote for the Day":

"That's how this group of Bush followers thinks America is supposed to work. If you are a U.S. citizen, the President can unilaterally order you abducted and imprisoned; does not have to charge you with any crime; can block you from speaking with anyone, including a lawyer; can keep you incarcerated indefinitely (meaning forever); and can deny you the right to any judicial review of your imprisonment or any mechanism for challenging the accuracy of the accusations. And oh - while it would be nice if we could preserve all of that abstract lawyer nonsense about the right to a jury trial and all that, we're really scared that Al Qaeda is going to kill us, so we can't," - Glenn Greenwald, on his blog yesterday.

When I read stuff like this, I have just one question: How many American citizens have been detained in the manner described by Greenwald?

I believe the number so far is two -- Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi, who was captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan and subsequently released and flown to Saudi Arabia.

For comparison purposes: the Adams Administration jailed about 100 American citizens under the Alien and Sedition Acts; the Lincoln Administration jailed over 15,000 when it suspended the writ of habeas corpus; the Wilson and Harding Administrations jailed somewhere between 1,000-2,000 in the Palmer raids; and the Roosevelt Administration incarcerated over 100,000 Americans when it put Japanese Americans in detention camps.

Some historical perspective would be nice.

UPDATE: OK, maybe there is a little more to say. This is not that hard. We should imprison and interrogate all those fighting against us whom we capture and not reveal they are captured and not allow any communication from the captured, because taking those steps is the best way to fight the sort of war that has been waged against us for the past couple of decades. I believe there are grade school children who can see the wisdom of that course of action.

It's not a criminal matter (as the Clinton Administration nearly exclusively considered it--and I hope the Bush Administration only experimented with) and there should be no lawyers, nor charges, and only military due process for those who have declared and are fighting a Jihad, a Holy (to them) war against us. We stray from these principals at our peril.

Oh yea, Padilla has been charged, has a lawyer and will face trial just as Moussaoui did. So now the number of Americans being held in a scary way is down to, well, zero.

But by all means let's talk about the scope of the duties of the Executive Office and the inherent powers of the Commander in Chief.

And for anyone thinking, well, Hamdi and Padilla are the Americans we know about, I have some slightly used tinfoil and instructions for constructing your hat.


Murtha--The Reason to Let the Investigation Finish

I admit that I am biased about the so called marine massacre last November in Haditha, Iraq. There are so many good soldiers and marines out there, it's difficult for me to believe that these guys shot women and children in cold blood. But I'm willing to wait and see what the investigation turns up.

Representative Murtha (D-PA) wants to talk about it now. But he at the very least is unable to articulate the facts clearly and accurately. Here is what he said May 17, 2006, with Chris Matthews:

..they tried to say it was an IED, there was no IED involved in this.

Here is what he said today with Chris Wallace George Stephanopoulos (my bad):

An IED went off... (Link to transcript will be provided in update).

Is he talking about different things? Is he merely sloppy wrong about that detail? If so is that the only detail he has contradicted himself on? If he is wrong on a detail here and there, how can we trust his ultimate conclusion?

UPDATE: ABC is not into transcripts, but will play you the video recording of any particular section of This Week on demand.

Rep. Murtha (D-PA) said "There was an IED went off..." and later "An IED exploded..." I still see a contradiction, but perhaps the context of his first comments on Matthew's show makes it a rational distinction. I doubt it, but it's possible.


Thought of the Day

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Bertrand Russell


John Kerry--Nimble, Swift, Effective

John Kerry wants to respond to the Swiftboat Veterans who, before the election, said that many of the details John Kerry had told about his service in Vietnam were untrue. Since it's been a year and a half since Senator Kerry lost the election, perhaps this is just a little late. There is so much to cover, let's just concentrate on one story. Here is John Kerry in his own words:

Mr. President, I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the President of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia.
I have that memory which is seared-seared-in me, that says to me, before we send another generation into harm's way we have a responsibility in the U.S. Senate to go the last step, to make the best effort possible in order to avoid that kind of conflict.

That was from the Senate Floor in 1986. Here is Senator Kerry recently: John Kerry starts by showing the entry in a log he kept from 1969: "Feb 12: 0800 run to Cambodia."

Maybe they celebrate Christmas at a different time in Viet Nam. Perhaps Kerry went often into Cambodia and was there at Christmas and 6 weeks later. Or perhaps he's just making it all up.

He even brings up the magic hat again. This could actually be some fun. It's not like it's going to influence the choice of the President this time.

Byron York at NRO has, from August, 2004, a lot about Kerry Kontradictions--just about the Cambodia thing.

Tom McGuire at Just One Minute sounds eager to recover this ground.

We know from Kerry's hagiographer Douglas Brinkley (who wrote Tour of Duty about Kerry) that the Senator kept a diary of his time in Viet Nam (Brinkley quotes from it from time to time in the book). Let Kerry release that to internet scrutiny--if it says that he went to Cambodia time and again, then he will at last have defeated the Swifties, at least on this issue.

However, since Kerry has promised Tim Russert twice on TV to release his complete Naval records and never did it (even though he claims to have done so), I'm not holding my breath for the war diary.

I've read three books about this matter: Tour of Duty, Unfit for Command and Brown Water, Black Berets. All give one a lot of background for this now continuing, but meaningless, controversy.

UPDATE: Kerry in 1979 said this about Cambodia: "In fact I remember spending Christmas Eve in 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border..." Now his researcher has placed him 35 miles from Cambodia, in Cao Lanh, Viet Nam. Anyone but me see a contradiction between 5 miles inside Cambodia and 35 miles from Cambodia, still in Viet Nam? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? Buehler?

Here's what Kerry himself wrote about Christmas Eve in his diary reprinted in Tour of Duty via Mark Steyn:
On December 24 1968, Kerry was at Sa Dec – that's well inside Vietnam, 55 miles from the Cambodian border – and waxing wistful to his diary about a quiet Christmas far from home: "Visions of sugarplums really do dance through your head and you think of stockings and snow and roast chestnuts and fires with birch logs and all that is good and warm and real. It's Christmas Eve."

Saturday, May 27, 2006


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 1491 BC, Moses receives the Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai. (See Exodus 19:8-25 and 20).


Thought of the Day

I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the Stern Fact, the Sad Self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, May 26, 2006


Lay and Skilling Guilty

A big, boring scandal about Enron, an energy reseller that collapsed years ago, has come to a near end as the former chairman and CEO, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, respectively, were convicted of some sort of white collar crimes (fraud?) for overseeing and perhaps engineering the collapse. They will almost certainly be sentenced to decades in federal prison.

OK, so they go to jail. Is there any long term effect to the collapse other than more government paperwork? I think not despite former Enron adviser Paul Krugman infamous statement: "I predict that in the years ahead Enron, not Sept. 11, will come to be seen as the greater turning point in U.S. society."

Does he ever get tired of being wrong?


Just When You're About to Give up on the House...

For the 12th time since 1995, the House voted to open a tiny section of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge open to oil exploration. Everyone is confident the Senate will filibuster any similar effort there. Since the Senate has proved itself to be out of touch with the will of the majority of Americans (and capable of only making things worse), that's probably true. The imperial actions of Speaker Hastert this week had soured many on the House too (Warrants-not good enough for us; too good for the likes of you). Anyone who votes against drilling for oil offshore or in the middle of nowhere Alaska cannot bitch about high gas prices or demagogue Exxon-Mobile, et al.

As we used to say in the 60s: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.


What a Wonderful, Modern Age We Live in

The BBC reports that scientists are a year and a half from producing a "cloaking device" first for radar and, later, light (probably much later). I remain a bit skeptical, but it does sound plausible. Money quotes:

Two separate teams, including Professor Pendry's, have outlined ways to cloak objects in the journal Science.
These research papers present the maths required to verify that the concept could work. But developing an invisibility cloak is likely to pose significant challenges.
Both groups propose methods using the unusual properties of so-called "metamaterials" to build a cloak.
These metamaterials can be designed to induce a desired change in the direction of electromagnetic waves, such as light. This is done by tinkering with the nano-scale structure of the metamaterial, not by altering its chemistry.

Of course, as all true fans of science fiction know, being truly invisible leaves one blind. We only see when the light rays carrying the information hit the retinal wall at the back of our eyes, where they are turned into electro-chemical information and then sorted out in the brain. If the retinal wall is invisible, that is, it does not react with light, no vision. The same could be said for the cornea. It's clear, but still visible.


This Day in Renaissance History

On this day in 1521, the Edict of Worms bans the writings of Martin Luther (1483–1546) German leader of the Protestant Reformation. Didn't actually do a lot of good for the Catholic Church to ban his works. About the only good thing from the counter-reformation was the Society of Jesus.

Luther had appeared before the Diet of Worms the month before and had ended his defense very elegantly: Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. Amen. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.


Thought of the Day

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

J. R. R. Tolkien

Thursday, May 25, 2006


This Day in Ancient History

On this day, two things happen in Jewish History. First, in 1491 BC, Moses strikes the rock and water gushes forth (See Exodus 17:1-8). Good times. Second, in 67 AD, General Titus takes the city of Joppa in what the Romans then called Palestine in his campaign towards Jerusalem during the first Jewish Revolt against the Romans. Not so good times.


Thought of the Day

No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.

Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


After the Discovery Process, the Defense Speaks

Durham DA Mike Nifong's case against three Duke lacrosse team players has taken a blow to the chin from which it may not recover (although Diomedes and I think the case will limp on until after November, just for the face saving).

Here are highlights from a FoxNews story:

Defense sources also say the accuser admitted to having had sexual intercourse with at least three men around the time of the alleged attack. According to those sources, when investigators questioned her after DNA tests on the semen found inside her body did not match any of the Duke players, the accuser gave police the name of her boyfriend and two men who drove her to her dancing engagements.


According to the sources, the papers handed over by Nifong also reveal that the forensic nurse who did a gynecological exam on the accuser did not find abrasions, tears or bleeding in the vaginal area, which is often present in forcible rapes. They say she did find swelling in the vaginal area along with tenderness in the accuser's breasts and lower right quadrant.

OK, let's review. Despite the confidence of the DA that DNA would reveal the identity of the attackers--zip, nothing. No match. Neither time. The only sperm recovered (from the regular place) was from the boy friend. The drivers with privileges must have wisely used condoms. But there was always the ace in the hole; the press always repeated the rape kit results (consistent with assault) like a mantra, except it's not consistent with a forcible rape by three guys. The rape kit is only consistent with the accuser having sex with her boyfriend and drivers. Tender breasts--don't make me laugh. That's consistent with menses, not rape. There is nothing yet about examination of the accuser's anus. She said two of the boys bu-fued her. I'm no expert here, but wouldn't that leave a mark? Are the findings about that area there but the papers are too chicken sensitive to print it?

So, to finish the review. Huge credibility problems with the accuser, no corroboration by anyone, different versions of the story including denial that any rape occurred. No DNA, and no injuries to her tender areas consistent with a violent, 30 minute gang rape.

Oh, and the identity is tainted and wrong (no moustache) and all of the accused have pretty good alibis including robot time stamped photos, etc.

This may be the single worst rape accusation I have ever heard.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has chimed in taking a careful path of neutrality on the issue whether there was any rape (with one glaring exception), but stating, in any case, the white men are guilty of racism. Which white men you ask? All of them.

At a news conference given by one of the defendant's attorneys in Durham, community activist Victoria Peterson raised a question she has heard privately: Did the partyers specifically request black dancers that night? Peterson's question was ignored.
"White men have always been fascinated with black women over the years. That's nothing new," says Peterson, who launched Durham Citizens Against Rape and Sexual Abuse in response to this case. With outlets such as BET and others portraying African American women as highly sexed, "young white boys, they want to touch, they want to see," Peterson says.

The Washington Post is into the physical injuries to the accuser's nether regions stating: ...a forensic nurse examined the woman at the Duke University Hospital emergency room and found "signs, symptoms and injuries consistent with being raped and sexually assaulted vaginally and anally," a court document says.

Court document says injuries to vaginal area. The defense says: ...the forensic nurse who did a gynecological exam on the accuser did not find abrasions, tears or bleeding in the vaginal area, which is often present in forcible rapes. They say she did find swelling in the vaginal area along with tenderness in the accuser's breasts and lower right quadrant.

Whom to believe?


Smells Like Duke Spirit

Went to a rock concert with the regular gang, and a nice guy from India whose name I couldn't spell even if I could remember it, at the Paramount, which is a former movie palace from the 30s (the only one left in Denver) whose architecture holds only the barest hints of art deco.

Saw two opening bands. Duke Spirit, from England, where I hear they took second in the Leicestershire Battle of the Bands in 2003, and Augustana, an American band, and the most talented bunch of 12 year olds I have ever seen.

The last concert we saw all together was Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson, so that one was all lead guitar all the time. Here it was just the opposite. All the bands sported dual rhythm guitars and there was not a single coherent guitar solo all night. Spirit might have tried for a lead guitarist but through sheer incompetence didn't produce one. I hated the Duke. And that's despite the lead chic singer's stiletto heeled black boots. Funny, the last time I was at the Paramount was for Eddy Izzard and he wore the same boots (and looked better in them).

Augustana's songs were simple but heart felt. Lot of pre-teen passion from that band. They announced that they were selling CDs at $5 a pop, but I thought that was too steep, so I didn't get one.

The main attraction was British (Irish?) Snow Patrol. They were surprisingly good. The sound in the Paramount is not the best, the bass nearly overwhelms you while the singers' PA is barely audible. The lead guitarist for Snow Patrol was lead in the way that The Edge is the lead in U2. They both strum along magnificently. But as the set progressed, the songs became more complex and interesting. I had a good time. Someone needs to teach Snow Patrol the proper way to end a song. You ought not just abandon it in the middle. You're cooking along and then you just stop playing is not the proper way, but that's how nearly all Snow Patrol's songs ended, in a very unsatisfying sudden, and unexpected, silence. Perhaps they could listen to Bach or someone like that--the old masters always put a proper end to things.

But it's a small quibble because, until the silence, the songs were far more often good than bad. The book end songs, Close your eyes and Open you eyes (rough estimate of titles) were really good, as was the sonq with harmony and the words "light up" in it. Simple rhythms (most usually a march like cadence) with good hooks and nice melodies and a complex weaving of layer and layer of guitars and keyboard. Really very nice indeed.

The guys in Augustana and Snow Patrol must be cute or something because, again the opposite of a Satriani concert, the girls outnumbered the boys about 2 to 1.

I'd see Snow Patrol again, but if you put a gun to my head and said see Duke Spirit or I shoot, I'd have to think about it.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1950, ‘Sweetwater’ (Nat) Clifton’s contract was purchased by the New York Knicks. Sweetwater played for the Harlem Globetrotters and was the first black player in the NBA.

Even a cursory glance at the two teams left in this season's NBA playoffs will tell you that the last 50 years have been nothing if not an ever widening gateway of opportunity for black Americans. The idea that this nation is in its soul racist is laughable. But what to do with a movement that has achieved all its goals. As Duke Ellington once said, but not about the NAACP, "Dis band should disband."


Thought of the Day

Fama malum quo non aliud velocius ullum.

Virgil in the Aenied, IV, 174

Nothing moves faster than gossip.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Yugolsavia Break-up Complete

With the recent vote in Montenegro, Yugoslavia is as dead and gone as the USSR. What was once an international car producing nation just 18 years ago now is 6 nations--Bosnia-Herzegovina , Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia. Serbia and Montenegro were holding together for a long time under the old name, Yugoslavia, but not no more.

I had seen the so-cynical-as-to-be-nearly-subversive film Montenegro a few decades ago, so the break-up, post Tito's death, was no surprise to me, nor really the intensity of the violence there. I bet that movie holds up. Great performance by Susan Anspach and opening song by Marianne Faithful and the toy tank in the Zanzi Bar. A full of life film but dark.

Sic transit risus mundi.


Good News from Jordan

Jordan authorities are reporting that they have captured an "aide" to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but they are not releasing his name until Thursday.

First two BBC paragraphs:

Jordanian officials say they have arrested a senior al-Qaeda figure heavily involved in Iraq's insurgency.

Security officials in Jordan's capital, Amman, refused to identify the man, said to be a key aide to Iraq's most wanted militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Well done, Jordanians!

To my European nay-sayers (OK, it's one nay-sayer) has al Qaeda captured any aides to General Abizaid?


This Day in American History

On this day in 1910, Artie Shaw (Arthur Arschawsky) was born--a musician on the clarinet and a big bandleader, he recorded Begin The Beguine, Indian Love Call, Frenesi, Summit Ridge Drive, My Little Nest of Heavenly Blue, Back Bay Shuffle, Traffic Jam, Nightmare, The Blues, They Say, Thanks for Ev'rything, Stardust, Dancing in the Dark, Concerto for Clarinet, I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, and Any Old Time. He married 8 times and had Ava Gardner and Lana Turner in their primes. He broke the color barrier and hired a black singer, Billie Holiday. He quit his very lucrative job to join the Navy after Pearl Harbor was attacked, but they only let him play in a band. He toured the Pacific as Glenn Miller toured the European front. He wrote, ran a dairy farm, and quit the music business pretty early on. He died Dec 30, 2004.


Thought of the Day (Twofer)

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.

Every hero becomes a bore at last.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 22, 2006


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 337 AD, Gaius Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, known as Constantine the first or Constantine the Great, who was 63, died shortly after being baptised a Christian (and we assume he received eucharist and unction--but maybe they did things differently back then). This is a huge turning point for the Roman empire. Physically, the empire is divided between Constantine's four sons and faces a continuing decline and being serially overun by barbarians. Spiritually, Rome becomes the center for the Western Catholic Church and thus the locus of leadership of one of the most important and powerful forces in history.

Apropo of the tremendous money making of the Da Vinci Code worldwide of The Da Vinci Code, Constantine's death was actually recreated in the film.


USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)

They were mailing these photos to Republicans. Here is a good quote from the guy who played George Gipp in the movie, Ronald Reagan:

The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas-a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.

Reagan was saying that about the Soviets, but it certainly applies to our current struggle against Muslim extremists.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


New Fast and Furious Trailer

The trailer (actually Behind the Scenes) for the new film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift has my cousin Tanner Foust, who is a fast driving instructor, in it for a few seconds. It was such a pleasant shock to see him. Way to go, cuz.


McCain on Fox News Sunday

What a pompous, fatuous politician, sorry for the redundancy there, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is. If this guy gets the Republican nomination in '08, I'm moving out of the country, perhaps to Alaska. The guy was involved in starting a huge fire on the Forrestal (CVA 59) in 1967, which fire killed 134. He gets himself shot down and captured. He's one of the Keating 5 (a corruption scandal no one seems to remember). He sponsors ultimately useless legislation abridging the essential freedom of speech (political speech). He accuses us of torturing POWs. He is the second worst Senator on the right side of the aisle (Chaffee is worse--truly, spectacularly useless Specter is tied, and the women from Main are third). And he flip flops on some of the lesser issues. I suspect a giant ego as well. As Ann Coulter says, he'll be a viable Republican candidate for president as soon as you can show me a single registered Republican who will vote for him.

I usually don't dislike people this much, perhaps I'm projecting on him all of my anger and bitter, bitter disappointment in the Republican controlled Senate.

There, I feel better now.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 427 BC, the seminal philosopher Plato is born. I know, I know--Aristotle leaves him in the dust, but I haven't read any Aristotle (in the Greek) as I have Plato. Couple of decads ago, though.


Thought of the Day

The average soldier, much less a civilian, can form little concept of the scope of a battle. For us it was the part we were mixed up in...The war, to the dogface dodging mortar shells, is concentrated on him. He judges the nature of combat by his own relation to it. Thus battle becomes a very personal thing. If he gets killed, the war is over; if he lives, the war goes on. It becomes personally important therefore th the front line infantryman that the war for him continue. He will not cease to be in it until he is either deat or seriously incapacitated. War gets
to be the one permanent value in his being.

My cousin Ross Carter in Those Devils in Baggy Pants

Saturday, May 20, 2006


The Taliban's Spring Offensive in Afghanistan is Going Swimmingly

It was reported that Afghan soldiers have captured Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's one-legged field commander, during fighting near Kandahar. That may turn out to be false-- three Taliban leaders were captured but Mullah Dadullah might not be among them.

Any of our major commanders being captured, killed or even threatened? You make the call then about who's winning there. I won't go with the body count, but the good guys are laying the bad guys low.

The Afghan government has learned political speak. Witness:

We have captured a very important Taliban member but due to security reasons we cannot reveal his identity, said governor of Kandahar, Assadullah Khalid. I think they got him.


I'm Telling You Now That Freddy's Dead

Freddy Garrity of the 60s group Freddy and the Dreamers has died at age 69 from emphysema. I was not a fan, but I covered Long John Baldry's death so I ought to do this one. And another one bites the dust.


Physical Beauty

Someone shot the double window at Tommy's Thai restaurante on Colfax (in Denver) and it's a beautiful (to me) result involving lessons in physics and fracture. The front window had the normal reaction to a bullet but click on and look at the inside window--and the inches wide conchoidal fracture on the in-between surface. Wow. What were the forces involved with that?


Friday Movie Review (late)

Went to see The Da Vinci Code. It was ultimately silly, not that convincing and too confused with non-threatening conspiratorial elements that went nowhere to be satisfying in the whole. It's about the Grail, the Holy Grrrrrrail, as Cleese pronounces it. Spoiler coming. Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus and had a child whose bloodline down to the present has been the source of a war between part of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, which wants to keep that part of the story a secret, and the Templars who have pledged to defend the Wife of God and her tomb and progeny (actually mainly defend the tomb). The Church tries to kill Jesus' and Mary's descendents; the Templars and some council (which from time to time gets to hold ritual orgies) defend them. The knowledge that Jesus was married and had a child (a girl Sarah) is the grail. Da Vinci somehow knew it and put it in code in the Last Supper fresco (why, we're not entirely sure).

What a crock! Anyway, let's presume it's true, just for a second or two. In a way similar to the scientist in Help saying, "With this ring, I could, dare I say it, rule the world," someone in The Da Vinci Code (Hanks or McKellen, I can't recall) said that knowledge that Jesus was married and had a child would, dare he say it, cause a complete collapse of faith in the Church, and life as we know it would end. What a double crock!

Here is part of Catholic catechism 464:

The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man.

So, if, during the time he was true man (which was all the time between his birth and crucifixion), Jesus married and had a child, he was doing just what most men do. It takes not a whit away from his complete divinity nor, I think, does it confer anything on his descendents, hypothetically thinking. The Church would no more collapse from this revelation than the Basilica of Saint Peter would collapse from a hail storm.

OK, so except that the central tenant is completely stupid and based on the, to me, laughable proposition that, if it were true, anything would change, this was an OK movie. Oh, except that the acting was less than inspired, in fact kind of lethargic or just plain miscast. Hanks, who's not getting any better looking as he ages, was nice but pretty much nothing was going on. Paul Bettany, whom I have liked in other movies, couldn't pronounce Church Latin convincingly and his attempt at a Spanish accent accident was almost an insult. Kind of liked the self flagellation, though, but that's probably just me. Ms. Tautou, who remains very pretty, was with Hanks in putting out a 40 watt performance. Even Jean Reno was fairly tame. Only Ian McKellan seems to have decided to give it a real go.

A lecture on art and Church history and the paintings of Leonardo would have been more satisfying. Here's an example of dumb plotting. Spoiler coming. Alfred Molina plays a shady bishop who is part of the kill the children of Jesus sect and we spend a lot of time with him and his successful attempt to get millions of dollars in bearer bonds, for some purpose never specified--I'm going to say he's on screen for 20 minutes. And he winds up--shot by accident in London by his Opus Dei operative (Bettany) with the bearer bonds nearly strewn on the ground. That's the end of his role. What? Why was that even in there? Take all his scenes out and the movie is shorter, but no worse nor any less hard to follow. Pointless, really.

Low points in faux history include: The idea that it was the Christians acting up in Rome that caused Constantine to make Rome's religion Christianity. The inclusion of Sir Isaac Newton at all. Hanks says the Church was mad at him for doing science. No it wasn't. (Maybe Galileo centuries before, maybe). Tying the witch hunting book Malleus Maleficarum into the hidden, millennia long conspiracy. The destruction of the Templars in the movie is really the destruction of French heretics, the Cathars or Albigenses. I could go on and on with boring, half remembered historical facts, but then I would merely be imitating the film.

OK, the guns. Bettany carries a Glock but then it becomes a Walther/S & W P-99 and finally an HK USP. Maybe it was a shape shifting pistol. McKellan has a S & W chief's special, in .38, but he never fires it. Apparently the police in England do get to carry guns (German guns) but they have to yell out "armed police" at least twice before they can discharge them. I think "resistance is useless" would have been more effective.

It's 2 hour 29 minutes long. If you've read the book and liked it, you might like this film or if you haven't and don't get out or know much, you might like this film, but a lot of people are, I think, going to be very disappointed.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 526 AD, an earthquake devastates the city of Antioch in Syria (source of the Holy Hand Grenade), which was a major trading center and the site (in the book) of the chariot race in Ben Hur.


Thought of the Day

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung

Friday, May 19, 2006


What's Bird Flu--Prions May Be the True Deadly Menace

I have posted about prions before, but they returned with a vengeance recently in a Denver operating room. Here's the lead:

A patient at Littleton Adventist Hospital died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in March, raising a very remote risk that six other patients who had surgeries using the same instruments could contract the rare and fatal neurological disease.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the same thing as mad cow (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), scrapie, chronic wasting disease and kuru--all caused, I believe, by molecules called prions. I couldn't tell from the story at first whether the hospital gave the disease to the person who died mere months later or if the person who had the operation already had the disease. The first impression was the worse.

I had my ACL reconstructed at that hospital (and Diomedes was nice enough to drive me home from the hospital and bring me take away dinner) a decade or so ago so the news about 'my' hospital had an extra locus of impact for me.

Here's the scary part:

[The hospital] uses state-of-the-art sterilization, Wood said, but sometimes that's not enough to kill abnormal prions, which on very rare occasions change from the normal spiral shape to a washboard shape in the brain.

That washboard shape serves as a template for other prions to switch shapes, rapidly pushing forward the disease. The washboard shape is also more resistant to being broken down by enzymes or sterilization.

There is no cure, no treatment, no vaccination (nor is any possible with our medical knowledge) and you can't see them. The definitive diagnosis is a brain biopsy after you're dead. We don't know why some prions go rogue or how they break the brain/blood barrier. They are not alive as we usually use that term ( and are just protein with no RNA or DNA), and they create the problem merely by touching molecules and inducing them to change shape with a catastrophic effect on the brain--that is, you go crazy and die. The only good thing is that they appear to be somewhat rare. At least we hope so.

The Avian flu is a lightweight next to these things and we don't know if we're spreading them around more or not. They certainly are increasing in the deer and elk population of my state. And I still eat deer and elk.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle gives a speech where he takes the TV character Murphy Brown to task. Played by Candice Bergen on the short run CBS sitcom, Murphy had decided to get pregnant without getting married. Quayle said that she was "mocking the importance of fathers by having a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice."

Having raised three children alone (but with a lot of help from my family), I have to ask who would want to do that? It's tough with two parents.


Thought of the Day

The trouble is not that players have sex the night before a game. It's that they stay out all night looking for it.

Casey Stengel

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Culture of Arrogance

Victor Davis Hanson, a military historian I really like, writes sensibly about the troubled CIA. Money quotes:

The United States, thanks in large part to a clueless CIA, has been unable to anticipate everything from the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the fall of the Shah in Iran in 1979 to, more recently, Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Then, of course, there was the failure in advance of September 11. In the last few years, the U.S. got wrong Saddam's weapons of mass destruction capability, while underestimating the extent of the WMD arsenal in Moammar Gadhafi's Libya.

So Gen. Hayden will have his hands full justifying an intelligence agency that is ever more political and ever less competent.


The problem is not just that the CIA consumes too much money, has too many employees and gathers too much superfluous intelligence while missing the landmark events of the age. Or that too many analysts can't do their own assigned disinterested jobs. Or even that both Democrats and Republicans periodically try to rein the CIA in with their own political appointees when they suspect it has become openly hostile and insubordinate.

No, the deeper worry is that there has grown up at the CIA an entrenched enclave and an arrogant "we know best" attitude in which self-appointed moralists are often convinced that they can make up their own rules and code of conduct. Gen. Hayden will have to end that culture - or end the agency as we know it.


The Right Way to Dispose of Old Carriers

Yesterday, we sank the USS Oriskany (CV 34) 24 miles off shore from Pensacola in over 200 feet of water. This was a short carrier, one of the several Essex class carriers built after the end of WWII (with plenty of asbestos, no doubt) and later updated with a second offset flight deck. John McCain took off from the Mighty O, as it was called, (probably because it had such a really stupid name for a ship) on the flight where he was shot down and captured.

The French could learn a lot from us boorish colonials.


Coulter Turns her Sarcasm Scalpel on President Bush

She's pretty funny today, and the criticism is certainly deserved. Money quote:

Instead of choosing immigrants based on the longevity of their lawbreaking, another idea is to choose the immigrants we want, for example, those who speak English or have special skills. (And by "special skills" I don't mean giving birth to an anchor baby in a border-town emergency room.)

Why not use immigration the way sports teams use the draft -- to upgrade our roster? We could take our pick of the world's engineers, doctors, scientists, uh ... smoking-hot Latin guys who stand around not wearing shirts between workouts. Or, you know, whatever ...


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 1491 BC, God causes Mana to fall from the sky for the first time for the Israelis in the wilderness. See Exodus 16.


Thought of the Day

Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.

Jack Benny

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


End of the Line

The mighty French warship, the short aircraft carrier Clemenceau, has been towed back to Brest, France where its fate is unknown. It has too much asbestos in it to be broken up anywhere in Europe, or, it turns out, in India, where it sailed (was towed) but was turned back by a decree of the Indian Supreme Court. Why don't they just sink it?

UPDATE: Why don't they spray the few areas where the asbestos is (about 20% of the inside of the ship) with a hard resin fixative and then sink the ship in deep water?


Can't Stand the Stump

Paul McCartney and his newish wife, Heather Mills, have called it quits after nearly 4 years. Official reason:

Our parting is amicable and both of us still care about each other very much but have found it increasingly difficult to maintain a normal relationship with constant intrusion into our private lives, and we have actively tried to protect the privacy of our child.

Yeah, whatever you say.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1954, The Supreme Court issues its landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, holding that racially segregated schools are inherently unequal. Aren't they still?


Thought of the Day

The hardest of all is learning to be a well of affection, and not a fountain; to show them we love them not when we feel like it, but when they do.

Nan Fairbrother

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


People Finally Get to See Da Vinci Code

Drudge has this story at the top of his site about the premier of The Da Vinci Code at Cannes.

Lead paragraph:

"The Da Vinci Code" drew lukewarm praise, shrugs of indifference, some jeering laughter and a few derisive jabs Tuesday from arguably the world's toughest movie crowd: critics at the Cannes Film Festival.

I don't know if that's a good thing or not. They loved Fahrenheit 9/11.


New York Times Calls the Majority of America the Fringe

In another of an apparently never ending series of editorials with less than rigorous logic, the NYT today has this editorial on its website. Here are the first and last paragraphs.

President Bush's speech from the Oval Office last night was not a blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform. It was a victory for the fear-stricken fringe of the debate.

Of course those wanting us to enforce our immigration laws and defend the border during wartime are a fringe and fear-stricken at that. The majority want the border enforced and it's not so much fear as prudent caution.

It is still possible that a good bill will emerge this year, but only if Democrats and moderate Republicans hold firm to protect the fragile flame of good sense against the deter-and-deport crowd. This means sticking together to defeat destructive amendments on the Senate floor. It means overcoming this latest contribution from the ever-unhelpful president, who could have pointed the nation toward serious immigration reform last night, but instead struck a pose as Minuteman in chief.

The deter and deport crowd? I am proud to be in that group--the high wall, big gate crowd. Only a publication that is so far to the left that it looks like right to me could criticize the President's speech last night for being too harsh on border security. That's not where the conservatives are criticizing it.


Paul Campos is Nostalgic for a Past That Did Not Exist

CU Law School (full disclosure, I attended rival DU law school) professor Paul Campos publishes a column in the Rocky Mountain News once a week. Usually it's OK. I've agreed with a few of them. Campos is not an idiot by a long shot, but he is a lefty and it appears that his memory of the 90s is hopelessly awry. His work today was just stupid.


Recent opinion polls confirm that Bill Clinton, who after eight years in office garnered the highest approval ratings ever recorded for a president at the end of his term, remains immensely popular. This is hardly surprising: Under Clinton's stewardship America enjoyed a booming economy, gargantuan budget surpluses, almost no military conflict, and the respect of the international community.
By contrast, less than six years after the end of the comparative golden era that was the Clinton presidency, America is drowning in record levels of debt, mired in a catastrophic war, and hated by almost all of our former allies. It's no wonder that George W. Bush appears to be well on the way to becoming the most unpopular president in American history. Indeed, if not for the 22nd Amendment, it seems likely that Clinton would still be president, and we would have avoided most of the calamities of the past five years.

Where to start? During Stanley Baldwin's third tenure as Prime Minister of Great Britain (1935-1937) there was "almost no military conflict" involving the British. No, it happened on the next guy's watch, Neville Chamberlains and it took the leadership of Winston Churchill not only to survive the NAZI attacks but to put an end to Hitler (we and the Russians helped a lot). Did the fact that the NAZIs prepared for war all during his tenure but only attacked England later mean that Baldwin was doing a good job. I tend to think not. The militant islamacists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993 and bombed many other assets all during the rest of the decade and they declared war on us and Clinton did virtually squat. The 9/11 attacks were 8 months into George Bush's administration which was not up and running smoothly due to Gore's attempt to steal the election, which delayed transition.

And how, exactly would President Bill Clinton, third term, have avoided 9/11, the recession, Congressional overspending?

He would have avoided none of the calamities that befell us and I doubt seriously he would have done anything to amerliorate them, or to have ameliorated them as quickly or well.

Paul Campos lives in a world I do not recognize.


Judicial Watch Obtains Security Camera Film From 9/11

Take that Loose Change believers (you fools). Looks like a plane hitting the Pentagon to me. (Loose Change is a documentary, free on the web, that the 9/11 attacks were inside jobs--not real attacks, which makes the particular claim that no plane hit the Pentagon on that day).

Of course there is none so blind as he who will not see.

The mystery is why it took an FOI request from Judicial Watch to get these tapes. Is the Pentagon brass really that paranoid? Allahpundit (peace be upon him) says they could not release the video until the Moussaoui trial was over. More reason to use military tribunals.

There is a whole blog dedicated to exposing the stupidity and lies of the tin foil hat crowd's most famous free documentarian. The site must be busy about now.


Alligator Attacks

My family has had a home in Venice, FL, on the west coast in south Sarasota County for half a century. In '68, we went down with my friend Frank Kelly for Spring Break. Frank and I were walking on the beach and we went up a stream a few yards and there, near a pool in the stream, was a very big alligator, probably about 10 feet long. This was when we were being told that alligators were going extinct; so we were savoring the moment of seeing one of the last of its behemoth kind in the wild. It did nothing for minutes as we talked about all the alligator lore we knew (which didn't take too long to recount). Then I decided to get some action. The alligator was on the opposite side of the water, about 20 feet away, so I walked up to the pool and splashed my foot in the water. Before I could actually react, the alligator lunged and twisted and slid into the pool, much faster than we could have gotten out of its way. It went up the pool away from the beach and Frank and I fled to the safety of the beach. Who knew those things could move like that, and that fast?

Apparently some women in Florida didn't know. Alligators are strongly suspected of attacking 4 and killing 3 women (two of them right cute) in the past 10 days. That's just wrong.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 318 AD, Elagabalus is proclaimed Emperor of Rome by the troops. He is 14 years old. The troops want him to lead them against the unpopular Emperor Macrinus who is 54. I've done the etymology and there is happily no relationship between the older Emperor and the silly Spanish dance of a similar name about 15 years ago.


Thought of the Day

The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.

Milton Friedman

Monday, May 15, 2006


The President's Speech

It was OK. Let's see what the Senate does with the requests of the President--the more fence the better to my mind. I see a big problem with the ID cards. He wants to issue them to foreign workers only. How do you do that? Isn't the problem that you don't know who the illegal immigrants are and that their papers, such as they are, aren't checked at the border? If you don't have to have a national ID to get or keep a job, are you going to punish any employer who employs someone who only speaks Spanish (or any other language except English with an American accent) and who doesn't have the foreign worker card? I thought it was going to be a "difficult-to-forge" national ID card. Where did that idea go?

I've been thinking about cracking down on employers for a long time. First a little background, and I choose that word on purpose.

I have been buying guns for about 25 years now. At first the form to fill out had only two questions. Now it has about 25, but for a very long time it has asked if you are a citizen. Once you have filled out the form (and showed ID), the gun dealer takes the form, calls the authorities and in a short time they know if you can buy a gun, including whether you are citizen or not. So either they are lying to the gun dealers and the authorities on the phone have no idea whether you are a citizen or not; or for $10.00 and a few minutes time, they can tell anyone who asks whether you are a citizen or not.

So there is a system in place which can quickly and cheaply confirm identity and tell if you are indeed a citizen. I know that there is another system which will tell the curious employer whether the SSN he or she has been given matches the name he or she has been given.

So there already are databases and ways to figure out whether someone is a citizen with a valid SSN that matches the prospective employee's name on the ID, but no one is enforcing the legal requirement to only employ citizens or work visa holders which laws are already on the books. Do we really need new laws to ignore?

Hugh Hewitt is pretty up about the speech. He thinks Bush threaded the needle to hit the needed middle ground which will please those of us who think the laws should be enforced and the border guarded, but without alienating the growing minority like they did in California a decade or so ago, sending them into the arms of the Democrats.

I'm still in the wait and see crowd. Fence first, IDs next. The rest is not in crisis mode.

OK. Julie Myers, whom Michelle Malkin just hates and thinks is incompetent, has just taken the wind out of Hugh's optimistic sails. Talk of the fence might just be political wanking, we now suspect.


Doubling Down at Duke

Durham DA Nifong has brought the promised third indictment against Duke Lacrosse captain, David Forker Evans (that's an unfortunate middle name), who just graduated, and who says he is innocent (but even the guilty say that, like OJ). He sure acted like an innocent man--

Evans said he fully cooperated with police and that he and his roommates helped investigators find evidence in their house for nearly an hour.

He also went to the Durham Police Department and gave officers a statement without any attorneys present, as well as a DNA sample and access to his e-mail, Evans said. He also offered to take a polygraph test, but said that police investigators refused his offer.

There is a huge problem with the identification of Mr. Evans, other than the fact that it was conducted with only Duke Lacrosse players' photographs (and beyond the fact that the accuser says she's only 90% sure (that's an automatic reasonable doubt in my book--beyond a reasonable doubt is 95% sure--no less).) Here are the details.

Evans' attorney, Joe Cheshire, also said Monday that the alleged victim identified Evans in a photo lineup with "90 percent certainty," but that she was not 100 percent sure because he did not have a mustache.

"Mr. Nifong knows David Evans has never had a mustache," Cheshire said. "We have pictures of David Evans the day before, the day after and almost every other day, along with scores and scores of people's testimony that he never had a mustache."

Either these indictments were a politically motivated move by Mr. Nifong or he is an extraordinarily sloppy prosecutor. How do you explain the lack of a mustache on the alleged attacker, which the accuser says was there, when all you have is the accuser's testimony to convict. "Well, she got that detail wrong, but she's right about everything else" are not words any trial deputy DA longs to say.

We here in Colorado watched the prosecution's case in the Kobe Bryant prosecution (which many felt was reasonably strong at first) fall completely apart over the next 18 months, until the prosecutor had to dismiss it. In defense of Colorado District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, I have always believed that the incredible amount of sex the accuser was having before and after going to Mr. Bryant's room came as a surprise to him, while it completely ruined his case.

This case, on the other hand, started out weak and nothing has gone well for the prosecutor--nothing at all.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 495 BC, the temple of Mercury near the Circus Maximus was dedicated, as this was yet another annual Roman holiday this one for Mercury, the patron God of merchants.


Thought of the Day

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.

Marshall McLuhan

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Whom to Believe?

One of the things that we all thought had been resolved was the mobile laboratories in Iraq. Colin Powell had used them to support the claim we were making to the UN and to the World for finishing Gulf War 1. We had been told that they were probably not mobile labs for biological warfare but generators of hydrogen for artillery or weather balloons. Case closed.

Not so fast there, kitty cat.

Here are two stories that appear to be 180 degrees apart (in an arc like way).

First there is the AP story that there was political pressure to stifle the dissent about the mobile labs with our crack spy outfit and other experts. Highlights.

A year after Bush administration claims about Iraqi "bioweapons trailers" were discredited by American experts, U.S. officials were still suppressing the findings, says a senior member of the Iraq inspection team.

At one point, former U.N. arms inspector Rod Barton says, a CIA officer told him it was "politically not possible" to report that the White House claims were untrue. In the end, Barton says, he felt "complicit in deceit."

Then there is a translated captured document. Highlights:

Military Industrialization Commission
Ibn Rushd General Company
Number 10025611018
Date 11/11/2002
To: Military Industrialization Commission/Department of Projects
Subject: Investment Plan for the year 2003
In regards from the letter signed with you on 12/10/2002 regarding our company investment plan to the year mentioned above, included is the technical report according to the letter showing its details below:
1. Develop and enlarge existing laboratories, 178,000,000 Dinars

Whom to believe--our weapons experts or our former enemies? It shouldn't be a tough choice, but it is.

'Captain' Ed Morrissey has a pretty solid analysis. There might have been a benign explanation for the labs but hydrogen production seems a wholly wrong call. It's not like our intelligence services haven't totally failed us before. And often.


This Day in Late Enlightenment History

On this day in 1796 Edward Jenner administered the first vaccine against small pox to 8 year old James Phipps. Vaccines are medical science at its best--teaching the body to kill off the virus with no further medical intervention needed. Within 2 centuries small pox was eradicated, largely because it apparently only exists in humans and there is no natural reservoir of it as there is with polio. Of course small pox still exists in frozen samples in American and Russian labs (and only there, we hope). The number of people killed or disfigured by small pox over the millennia of human existence is incalculable; but within a relatively short time it's gone based mainly on Jenner's insight. See, there is evidence of progress everywhere throughout history.

Does anyone at PETA argue that the small pox virus is equal to human life and we should not have eradicated it? Just curious.


Thought of the Day

Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgment. Go some distance away, because work will be in perspective and a lack of harmony is more readily seen.

Leonardo DaVinci

Saturday, May 13, 2006


I Love These Heartwarming Stories

A woman who had lost the use of her legs, and was confined to a wheel chair, has been cured at a California hospital. It's a freakin' miracle.

Laura Lee Medley, 35, is a Los Angeles activist for the disabled since being paralyzed by a drunk driver, who has been trying to make a living lately from suing 4 different California governmental entities for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) violations due to injuries she sustained from her wheel chair overturning. She was arrested in Las Vegas, and when she was brought back to California, she complained of some medical problem and the police took her to a Long Beach hospital.

"She gets to the hospital and while she's waiting for an examination, she gets up from the chair and runs," prosecutor Belinda Mayes said.

Medley sprinted through the hospital corridors but was quickly apprehended by police and booked pending extradition to San Bernardino, southern California, where she is facing charges of filing false documents, attempted grand theft and insurance fraud.

So now she can walk. It nearly brings a tear to your eye.


Solution to the CIA Mess

The triumphs of our intelligence services in the last century, have been largely in the code breakers, who did signal intelligence, and not with our spy services. I know, I know, the CIA can't talk about its successes, so all we hear about are its failures and that it gives us a false picture of its competence.

But if we fired everyone now employed by the CIA and replaced them with recent High School graduates, we would get about the same quality of product.


Duke Lax Redux

I'm not sure if the reporting on this is trustworthy. I don't know if a partial match with DNA is the same thing as no match at all. Our Denver DA, Mitch Morrissey, might know. He was prosecuting using DNA evidence when the science was young. But here's the report, it all looks line bad news for the Durham DA. Highlights:

A second round of DNA testing in the Duke University lacrosse rape case came back with the same result as the first - no conclusive match to any member of the team, defense attorneys said Friday.
Attorney Joseph Cheshire, who represents a team captain who has not been charged, said the tests showed genetic material from a "single male source" was found on a vaginal swab taken from the accuser, but that material did not match any of the players.
"In other words, it appears this woman had sex with a male," said Cheshire, who spoke at a news conference with other defense attorneys in the case. "It also appears with certainty it wasn't a Duke lacrosse player."
Cheshire said the testing did find some genetic material from several people on a plastic fingernail found in a bathroom trash can of the house where the team held the March 13 party. He said some of that material had the "same characteristics" - a link short of a conclusive match - to some of the players, but not the two who have charged with rape, kidnapping and sexual assault.

So the damage to the vagina consistent with rape (the best evidence I have heard supporting the charges) could have been caused by the sex the victim accuser had with someone other than a Duke lacrosse player.

The lack of DNA material of the two accused players on a fake nail found in the house where the rape was alleged to have occurred, when the accuser has said she scratched the guys raping her, is another body blow to DA Nifong's case.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1846, America declared war on Mexico and proceeded to defeat Mexican forces nearly everywhere we fought them, including a march to and capture of Mexico City by about 10,000 American soldiers. Pretty bold. We got about half of Mexico, all the border states except Texas, which had already fought Mexico and won. The Mexican War was by far the most unpopular war with Americans to date.


Thought of the Day

The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all your time.

Willem de Kooning

Friday, May 12, 2006


How Hitler Could Have Won the War

There's a whole book on the subject but my dad can reduce it to 3 words: "Don't invade Russia." But let's go back to June, 1940. France is out. Britain is alone and pretty much useless on its island nation for the next few years. No one can stand up to the 150 division German Army (except the Soviet Union, with a lot of death and pain, and us, if you give us a year to get buffed up and ready). Hitler wants land for the tightly packed farmers of his nation, but he needs oil, and the closest he can just take is in the Caucasus Mountains south of Russia, north of Persia.

What to do? He can fiddle around in North Africa and air blitz the Brits while he prepares to get to the Caucasus oil the hard way (through the Ukraine and Russia) or he can get serious about North Africa and put 5 divisions (instead of just over one, called the Africa Corps under Erwin Rommel) into Tunisia and take Morocco and Egypt so that no one gets into the Mediterranean except Axis ships and then launch from Egypt across Syria or Iraq into the Caucasus and take the oil. The USSR might not have even fought back.

If Hitler doesn't declare war on us and isn't fighting the Russians, the Brits would never have been able to storm ashore in France or Italy and we might have decided to stick just with the difficult task of defeating Imperian Japan. But to succeed, the Germans had to put a 100,000 men into North Africa in 1940 and take Egypt from the British with plenty of men left to spearhead a drive to the oil. They didn't. Adm. Erich Raeder, however, saw it and urged Hitler to adopt this winner of a plan, but Hitler didn't listen. Later, after defeat in Egypt, Hitler put 10 divisions, nearly a quarter million men, into Tunisia and the French colonies, but he had missed the window of opportunity, and on this day in 1943, they surrendered, along with the remaining Italians, to U.S. and British forces, a bigger defeat in numbers of soldiers lost to the Reich than Stalingrad.

The ultimate end of the war in Europe was no longer seriously in doubt after we defeated the Nazis so utterly in North Africa.


NYT Gets It Wrong

In a deceptive and ultimately silly editorial, the NYT comes out against a NSA phone call database. What a surprise. Here are some errors of fact therein.

But if all the details of the program are confirmed, the invasion of privacy is substantial.

The Supreme Court says differently, but of course Smith v. Maryland is not mentioned.

The phone companies are doing a great disservice to their customers by cooperating.

Yea, who would want our Government to try to protect us against terrorist attack? (About 2/3 of America is the answer).

President Bush began his defense of the N.S.A. program yesterday by invoking, as he often does, Sept. 11. The attacks that day firmed the nation's resolve to protect itself against its enemies, but they did not give the president the limitless power he now claims to intrude on the private communications of the American people.

But wouldn't the attacks on 9/11/01 necessarily engage the President his Article II powers as commander in chief of our Armed Forces to combat those waging war on us? The answer is obvious to any right thinking American--what the NYT editors sneer at and call "limitless power" is merely the constitutional duty imposed on President Bush. And there is no intrusion in recording the number dialed.

These editors are legal morons.

Lileks on Hugh Hewitt's show yesterday said, "They want us to connect the dots, but they do not want us to collect the dots.." Better analysis than the NYT appears capable of.


Expectations of Privacy

Not that long ago (I used to see it on The Andy Griffith Show) you would talk to a real person from your phone and tell that person whom you wanted to talk to; that person, the operator, would then make the manual connection of your phone to the phone of the person you wanted to talk to. Now we do all that with robot switching stations, but you still give the information of what phone you want to ring to a third party (the phone company) by sending out electronic pulses of the phone number (dialing has pretty much gone the way of the live operator).

It has been the course of Fourth Amendment analysis to look at the expectations of privacy the citizen has (and decide if it's reasonable) rather than look at the textual "persons, houses, papers, and effects" in the Constitution, as amended. It's pretty much establish that you can't have a reasonable expectation of privacy in something you tell a third party--that person is always free to tell someone else. The Supreme Court in Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979) looked at phone number records a different way--getting the number is not a search--but the result is the same. You have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the numbers you dial.

Orin Kerr at Volokh has an analysis of the laws dealing with the subject. It doesn't appear to be much of a question to me, but he's not as sanguine. If the phone company turns the records over voluntarily, what is the problem?

Of all the tempests in a teapot that we have witnessed in Washington in the last couple of years, the recent media and Congressional hyperventilating about an NSA database of the records of numbers called is the least significant. It's almost as if they're ignorant or posturing.


This Day in Ancient History

A mystery. Yet another Roman holiday, the Ritual of the Argeis (Straw Men). 27 straw figures were cast into the Tiber from the Sublician Bridge as an expiatory or purification rite. (Compare Lev. 16:21-22 with Micah 7:18-20 and also Acts 17:22-23). Sounds like we know a lot about the Ritual, doesn't it? Too bad no one knows what God was being worshiped.


Thought of the Day

The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be.

Raymond Chandler

Thursday, May 11, 2006


New York Times Tax "Cut" Agenda

There is yet another edtorial at the NYT about extending the President's tax rate cuts, decrying, you guessed it, tax cuts for the rich. Is this part of the repeat it until they believe it plan? Here are some of the tired old arguments:

The top 10 percent of income earners will get almost all of the benefits, and everyone else will get crumbs.

To justify the giveaway, President Bush and Congressional Republicans insist that tax cuts for investors benefit everyone — and pay for themselves — by stimulating economic growth. That assertion is seriously delusional.

Tax rate cuts obviously help the tax burden on tax payers. What could be more clear. What has it done to tax revenues? Last month this is what occurred:

$ 119 billion = Government surplus in April '06.
13% = Increase in monthly federal tax receipts (April '05 v. April '06).

Maybe that increase in tax revenues is just a delusion. Seriously.

You'd think the NYT would be aware of the spectacular success President Bush's tax rate cuts have been in invigorating the recessionlike, diving economy he inherited 5 years ago, but I guess truth is not the agenda at the NYT; Democrat success in '06 is the agenda, the truth be damned.


What Killed the Horses and Mammoths in North America?

There has been an ongoing intellectual battle among paleontologist about what caused the large animal extinction at the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years ago. The choices are overkill (human hunting caused the extinction) and climate (forests grew where there were grasslands and the grass eaters died off). I'm firmly in the overkill camp. There is a story on the climate theory today at the Washington Post. Why would the wrong theory be pushed in the paper? Is it to make the thought of climate change now seem more scary?

Here's my proof. It wasn't just one ice age and one melting; it was a series of at least 20 during the Pleistocene (the last 2.5 million years) Growing glaciers, shrinking glaciers and a warm interglacial--at first the cycle took 40,000 years but lately it's been taking about 100,000. How did the large mammals survive the first 19 dramatic climate changes? What was different about the last? The answer is obvious, the difference was there were organized human hunters during the last. QED


Report on Iraq: It Don't Look Good

Central Command has a captured document up at its website which complains about the lack of success the enemy is having, especially in Baghdad. Any guess to how much coverage this is getting in the buggy whip media? A lot, a little, none? Do you really have to guess. Highlights:

Most of the mujahidin power lies in surprise attacks (hit and run) or setting up explosive charges and booby traps. This is a different matter than a battle with organized forces that possess machinery and suitable communications networks.

...the mujahidin ... are not considered more than a daily annoyance to the Shiite government.

The strength of the brothers in Baghdad is built mainly on booby trapped cars, and most of the mujahidin groups in Baghdad are generally groups of assassin without any organized military capabilities.

The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. Other word, the significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them.

At the same time, the Americans and the Government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements, and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after the other. That is why every year is worse than the previous year as far as the Mujahidin’s control and influence over Baghdad.

As I've said for nearly a year, we've won in Iraq and are continuing to crush the dead enders, who know they have no hope of strategic victory but are merely putting on a deadly show to un-man the weak and diminish the will to fight among the less than loyal opposition here at home.

Worked in Viet Nam.

UPDATE: Jack Kelly at Irish Pennants reports on a search to see how many media outlets were covering this story--none. No wonder those predisposed to believe bad things about America think we're doing poorly in Iraq. The fact is that it's just the opposite.


Iran in the Near Future

Back when Time was a pretty thick magazine which I read regularly, it had from time to time a center section which was pages and pages of advertising about one thing. It may still, for all I know. Back in the late 70s the big center advertisement section was once about a nation--Iran. I can't recall all the details but, for example, Iran was 5th largest steel producer in the World back then and there were other really good things. The future was bright.

Then the Shah got cancer, Jimmy Carter betrayed him, there was an Islamic revolution and eventually the perception that you ought not to mess with the Americans for your own safety vanished in some parts of the Muslim World. Iran became a theocracy, a pariah nation for warlike acts against American embassy personnel and the main supporter for Islamicist terrorism. Things got worse. Iraq invaded and caused 400,000 battle deaths in an 8 year war. Kharma's a bitch.

Now Iran seems intent on becoming a nuclear suicide bomber. That is, once Israel is convinced that Iran has a nuclear weapon it can deliver, there will be airstrikes which may be nuclear. If Iran explodes a nuclear weapon over a city in Israel, there will almost certainly be massive nuclear retaliation. The thought that, if the Soviets did something really bad 30 years ago, that action would trigger an overwhelming American counterstrike, kept the Soviets from doing anything really bad, until there were no more Soviets. I'm not sure that idea will constrain Iranian theocrats.

Even if we never start nuclear bombing, Iran has an Achilles heel--although the country has a lot of oil wells, it doesn't have sufficient refineries and has been importing refined products since 1982. An embargo of gasoline and diesel will bring what's left of their once vibrant economy to its knees. And we can enforce such an embargo with our Air Force and Navy and never fire a shot. But again, if the threat of Israeli annihilating retaliation is not enough to deter them, then a fuel embargo will have no effect whatsoever.

I don't like the look of things, Fred.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 330 AD, the city of Constantinople oficially becomes the new capital of the Roman Empire.


Thought of the Day

The reward of the young scientist is the emotional thrill of being the first person in the history of the world to see something or to understand something. Nothing can compare with that experience... The reward of the old scientist is the sense of having seen a vague sketch grow into a masterly landscape.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Selling Out (Round 4)

Rock and roll and pop songs in advertising--it's a Tsunami.

Stevie Wonder--You Are the Sunshine of My Life---Zales Listen

Stevie Wonder--Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing--UPS Listen (Is Stevie hurting for money?)

Grand Funk Railroad--Some Kind of Wonderful--Kraft mayonnaise Listen (appropriate)

Pussycat Dolls--Don't Cha--Heineken Lite Listen (The answer to each question is 'yes').

Sam and Dave--Hold On, I'm Comin'--Savin Listen

Madness--Our House--Maxwell House coffee Listen

Deep Purple--Highway Star--Lincoln Navigator Listen (Smoke on the Water is for Ford Pintos, I guess)

Cars--Just What I Needed--Circuit City Listen

Allman Brothers--Melissa--Cingular/AT&T Wireless Listen (Not the Allman Brothers!)

Isley Brothers--It's Your Thing--Pier 1 Listen


Russ Feingold Calls His Fellow Democrats Wussies

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), one of the very few who has actually accomplished less in the Senate than John Kerry (D-MA) (excepting Feingold's assault on political speech) came out swinging yesterday, urging his fellow Democrats to show more backbone and stand up to President Bush on Iraq. The Democrats have been cowering in their 'political foxholes' and have been intimidated by President Bush, according to Feingold. Well, the President is pretty scary.

If we do not show both a practical and emotional readiness to lead in the fight against terrorism, we will lose in '06 and we will lose in '08, just like we did in '02 and '04.

Sounds reasonable to me. Does anyone believe the Democrats have an emotional readiness to lead the fight against terrorism? Does anyone even believe the Democrats are in any way practical?

Here are samples of Feingold's practical and emotional readiness to fight against militant Islamicists. Feingold has proposed that U.S. troops leave Iraq by the end of the year. (That's taking it to them). He also wants to censure the President for ordering the NSA to listen to our known enemies' communication with unknown persons in the United States. Wow, what a tiger!

So let me get this straight--to Feingold, showing a practical and emotional readiness to lead the fight against terrorism is to propose cutting and running in Iraq and only fighting against Bush from the Senate floor. Wow, I'm sure the Zarqawi followers are quaking in their boots at the very idea of Democrat war leadership.

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