Monday, July 31, 2006


Explaining Mel Gibson

I can't. What the heck was wrong with him? Like father, like son?

In vino veritas. Instead of an excuse, under Roman law, doing something while drunk was an intensifier as the Romans believed (correctly, I think) the central nervous depressant (alcohol) merely allowed one to do what one really wanted to do, which in Mel's case was spew anti-Semitic remarks. Those of us who defended him against charges of anti-Semitism in The Passion of the Christ, feel pretty much the fool now.

I'm still going to see Apocalypto; I'm a sucker for telling the truth about American Indian, pre-Columbian cannibalism.

And you have to admit that this statement is a real apology, not a pretend, Democrat style non-apology (as in I'm sorry you were so stupid as to be offended):

After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed. I drove a car when I should not have, and was stopped by the LA County Sheriffs. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person. I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said. Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry. I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health. (Emphasis added).

As for me, I admire many Jews and like a lot of them. I think, like Sartre, the origin of anti-Semitism is jealousy. The closest I ever got to anti-Semitism is this statement: We don't reject the Jews so much as they reject us.


Explaining Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter has gotten into another pickle by calling former President Clinton a latent homosexual because of his philandering. I believe the older term was Don Juanism, but I don't think the term is in the DSM 4, Rev. now And wait, isn't Coulter a lawyer? Where does she get off psychoanalyzing a raging set of contradictions like Bill Clinton. I think it's probable that he just likes pussy, a lot. Anyway here's the interview's good parts:

DEUTSCH: Off the air, you were talking about Bill Clinton. Is there anything you want to say about Clinton? No?
DEUTSCH: OK. All right. Did you find him attractive? Was that what it was?
DEUTSCH: You don't find him attractive?
Ms. COULTER: No. OK, fine, I'll say it on air.
DEUTSCH: Most women find him attractive.
DEUTSCH: OK, say it on air.
Ms. COULTER: I think that sort of rampant promiscuity does show some level of
latent homosexuality.
DEUTSCH: OK, I think you need to say that again. That Bill Clinton, you think
on some level, has--is a latent homosexual, is that what you're saying?
Ms. COULTER: Yeah. I mean, not sort of just completely anonymous--I don't know
if you read the Starr report, the rest of us were glued to it, I have many
passages memorized. No, there was more plot and dialogue in a porno movie.

The theory was that only a person worried about his sexuality would be a constant womanizer/cheater in order to prove to himself that he indeed was normal. Hell, I'd do it just for the heroin like beta endorphine jolt of heaven you get with orgasm (that and the valid and completing human contact). If you can get addicted to heroin, certainly you could be addicted to beta endorphine which is hundreds of times more powerful.

Since we're into a physician heal thyself sort of roll here, let Ann explain what in the name of Sharon Stone was going on here?


Explaining Andrew Sullivan

I wrote these lines in a posting on Sunday: Now they have the ability to psychoanalyze the President. Sullivan needs to look to himself about alternative reality, I think, first.

I've been asked to explain that. OK. Andrew Sullivan was born in 1963. He was diagnosed as having the HIV virus in 1993 (at age 30). I don't believe he contracted it before he was 20, in 1983, by which time everyone was well aware of how gay men passed on the disease and what it took to avoid it. Which means he contracted it by failing or refusing to protect himself during sex with men. I'm bolstered in this belief by news that Sullivan has in the past decade been online offering and soliciting unprotected sex on a "bareback" web site. He defends his action saying he would only have sex with other HIV positive men.

So there is a deadly sexually transmitted disease out there and a condom offers a lot of protection and Sullivan foregoes it and catches the always fatal disease. Who actually was avoiding reality?


Rock-a-billy Concert Report

Went to the Chris Isaak concert in a hot, flat parking lot near the Pepsi Center under a dirty tent. Sheila picked it. The opening act was DeVotchKa which I believe is Russian for woman or actually young woman. They were different: Singer on guitar; girl bassist just as often on Sousaphone; drummer; and, violinist/accordionist--playing music hard to characterize: Rock/Gypsy folk/Latin fusion? I kinda liked them. They have lots of song in the new Little Miss Sunshine movie about which movie I have high hopes. Til the End of Time is featured.

The average age at the concert was about Isaak's, 50 (although he has aged very well) but the gender split was about 65/35 women over men. Some men came as the other half of a couple but there were groups of up to 8 women with nary a man around. I guess he's cute or something and he sings well (high like Roy Orbinson who is clearly his main influence--he even admitted it during one of his painful soliloquies between songs). Some of the songs he's written are pretty good. He had an average talent band (he says they've been together for 20 years) and all in all they seem ready to kill as a lounge act in Las Vegas.

Isaac wore a sequined, blue suit like the old timey country and western guys did and then he wore a mirrored suit for the encore. He plays a big white Gibson hollowbody (an ES-345?) and he had the worst problem with the earplug in his right ear--it must have fallen out 60 times and he's stop playing and stuff it back in; didn't seem to hurt the song that he stopped playing once or twice a song. That's not so good. He got to one of his killer songs, Wicked Game and the people in the row behind us would not stop talking. They would not stop talking during the intimate (and not bad) unplugged set the band did; the couple behind us would not stop talking throughout the entire show. I don't quite understand that--Hey, honey let's go to the Chris Isaak concert, but instead of listening to the music, we'll have a conversation. But I couldn't really get too mad at them because you don't actually have to listen closely to understand and appreciate Isaak's music--one could easily turn it into background muzak for one's important conversation.

The guy of the couple in front of us had a head the size of a planet. I had to watch the concert on the jumbotron, because when it's a flat floor, which it was, unless they put the stage up high, which they didn't, a monstrous guy in the seat in front of you effectively blocks off your view of the stage. So except for the sometimes dreamy music, the hot, flat, tent covered, view blocked, non stop chatting, chubby girl dancing and banging into you venue was a little reminiscent of a concert in hell. You could do worse than the City Lights Pavilion, but you'd have to search. As for Isaak, been there, heard that, not going back.

But he really delivered on Go Walking Down There. Great song.


This Day in History

On this day in 1919; Primo Levi a Jewish-Italian writer and poet is born. Primo Levi was also a chemist most of his professional life. His memoirs are noted for his restrained and moving autobiographical account of and reflections on survival in the Nazi concentration camps. In his book, The Periodic Table, he wrote: "...conquering matter is to understand it, and understanding matter is necessary to understanding the universe and ourselves." Lewis Thomas and Stephen Jay Gould were talented science writers who owe a debt to Levi for his ability to turn science writing into contemplative high art. Chemistry, in turn, saved Primo's life. Imprisoned in Auschwitz, the young Italian chemist was granted a tenuous reprieve as a technician in the laboratory of an I. G. Farben rubber factory built by slave laborers on the camp's grounds. He died by suicide in 1987, after a long illness.

(h/t Today in Science History).


Thought of the Day

In war there is no substitute for victory.

Douglas MacArthur

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Hezbollah Pictures

These are the photos that damn Hezbollah for fighting as, and among civilians in contravention of the rules of war.

Sharp eyed observers will note this is the same fire that was behind the Hezbollah terrorist who I pretended was French actor Jean Reno. (The two do look a lot alike). This one has a stainless steel AKM 74 under sidefolder with a scope. I didn't even know they made them in stainless. The scope looks useless and cheap and zeroed at about 15 yards to me.

Hezbollah fighters manning and swarming around a Russian ZU 23-2 twin anti-aircraft automatic canon (23mm) mounted on a truck I can't identify. Notice the lack of uniforms and that the truck with the anti aircraft weapon seems to be parked near an apartment building.

Closer up on the crew of the anti-aricraft cannon. If some of them got killed and their survivng buddies took away the truck and the weapons, would they be poor innocent Lebanese civilians in the count? Does anyone out there believe either the Lebanese or Hezbollah is keeping an honest count of the casualties?

The truck with the anti-aircraft cannon from the front where people with more knowledge than I have might figure out what kind of truck it is. Pretty clearly diesel but that's about as far as I can go.

Those buildings behind the truck are different apartment buildings than shown in the other photos. These guys are in the center of a residential area, armed but without uniforms. And when Israeli pilots put a missle on the truck, it's Israel's war crime for shooting at or near civilians.

This is also the same cannon Nathan Filion (Mal) on Firefly fires during the Serenity Valley battle, but he was standing up in a sort of over the shoulder hard harness rather than sitting down. It is probably as irritating as a fly to the pilots of attacking jets because, hand cranked, it can't track and lead the jets properly. Or so Doug Sundseth says.

Told you.


Sunday Talking Head Shows

I think everyone on This Week with George Stephanupalogus is wrong about what's happening in southern Lebanon (except the Israeli ambassador)--but there could be a Tet Offensive irony developing here. First the ancient history--our soldiers in Viet Nam before January, 1968, were always hoping that the Viet Cong, a guerilla organization, would come out and fight like men, because we could slaughter them and win decisively. Had they kept fighting a guerilla style, they still could have lost but it would have taken a really long time. So the Communist forces in South Vietnam make a huge miscalculation, come out and fight like regular forces at Tet, in the belief that such an offensive would cause the South Vietnamese to rise up against their admittedly corrupt government, and the Commies could win decisively. But what the Viet Cong did was give up their advantage and get slaughtered in return for no uprising. It was a near total defeat and the North Vietnam generals, particularly their best, Gen. Giap, were leaning towards ending it in failure. But then, miracle of miracles, the world media, including our own guys, portrayed it not as the hoped for decisive defeat of the VC but as a defeat for us, and we bought it. The North took heart and kept up the fight and we lost heart, pulled out and then ultimately betrayed our former allies, the South Vietnamese. All kinds of bad happened as a result of those developments.

Hezbollah is like the VC, and it is a huge mistake for them to defend territory and fight toe to toe with the IDF, no matter how tough and well trained they think they are. That fight can only end in utter defeat and humiliation for them if the Israelis aren't stopped prematurely (either by timid leadership or by a unilateral ceasefire). But the talking heads are already calling it a defeat (somehow). They're worried that this struggle will cause more hatred in the Arab world against the Israelis. The ambassador, Daniel Ayalon, said the obvious about that. When the bulk of the Arab world will only be satisfied with another Holocaust in Israel, it's impossible for them to hate Jews more.

I'll humbly set some goalposts for victory: Southern Lebanon cleared of Hezbollah to the Litani River and a 'robust' international force (including some Muslims if possible) in place to keep Hezbollah out and disarmed of long range missiles north of the Litani. I doubt that even Baghdad Bob could spin that into a Hezbollah victory, (although I think that Noam Chomsky probably could with the linguistic legerdemain he employs).

The Fox News Sunday show has the same decidedly not robust Nicholas Burns trying to put a smiley face on this regrettable and sad situation. I can't write about what he's saying because, unlike Barbara Billingsley in Airplane, I don't speak jive.

Oh, man, even Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol are saying it's inevitable that Israel will stop too soon and it will be perceived as a Hezbollah victory. I hope the wise Israelis will see how important finishing the job south of the Litani has become. They haven't survived several attacks by overwhelmingly larger forces designed to wipe them off the map by making stupid mistakes. I'm hoping history will predict the near future events. The panel discussion ends with Kristol disgusted but wordless in the face of Juan William's moral equivalence argument. Resolve, Bill, and all neo-cons, we need a little resolve. If it takes generations of difficult struggle to defeat those who kill people merely because they are not their particular type of Muslim, that's what it's going to take. And the alternative? A fortress America? Don't make me laugh. We have, what, 5,000 miles of porous, unguarded border? There is no alternative.

Chris Matthews has a complete lefty panel, again. They seem busy building up Hezbollah when they're not bashing the President or declaring defeat. Andrew Sullivan seems clear eyed about the situation in Lebanon but is totally pessimistic about Iraq. I admit to being a little down about Iraq--we can hand them democracy but we can't stop them from killing each other over the dime's worth of difference between Sunni and Shia Muslim. I can't see an effective way to stop it and I haven't read one either. Defeatism is now running rampant among the panelists. On this show, whatever the Americans do, it's wrong. Now they have the ability to psychoanalyze the President. Sullivan needs to look to himself about alternative reality, I think, first.

John Edwards can defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democrat president nomination? Sullivan is again a welcome whiff of reality. Gore is the only credible candidate? Has Rove done another Jedi mind trick here? Kerry was a horrible candidate, Thank God, but he was only marginally worse than Gore. Bring it on with Al, please.

Sullivan says that the new legislation in response to the Hamdan decision is tantamount to withdrawal from the Geneva conventions. God, I hope so. As I've argued perhaps too many times, our adherence to those international treaties has been one sided for over 60 years. The sooner we recognize that reality and react to it, at last, the better.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 1452 BC, Aaron, the brother of Moses, dies at age 123 (which, as biblical ages at death go, is on the edge of believability). See Numbers 20:22-29.


Thought of the Day

Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

Friedrich Nietzsche (he would know about the individual part)

Saturday, July 29, 2006


More Tank Pictures

An Israeli Merkava Mk. IV going down a dusty road, it looks like, just inside Lebanon. You really have to admire the design of the turret, and the pitch of the slope of the armor here. Tough to get an RPG round to 'bite' and you can bolt on reactive armor or extra armor if it's a tank on tank battle the Arabs gave up in the 1970s.

Two Merkava getting ready to go. The engine exhaust is on the side, like with Russian tanks (as the back of the Merkava contains a big, armored hatch). The large white 'V' on the skirt armor seems to be on all the Merkavas and the 'V' is upside down or on its side on other types of armored vehicles. Traditionally, the rings on the barrel indicate tanks destroyed. I don't know if the Israelis keep score like that.


The Feds Begin to Plug the Leaks

In what sounds like good news to me, the Justice Department has issued at least one subpoena, for an appearance before a Grand Jury investigating leaks of secret programs, this one to fired NSA employee, Russell Tice, who has all but confessed to talking to reporters Lichtblau and Risen about the formerly secret program which monitors communications between al Qaeda overseas and people in the United States. The subpoena talks about “possible violation of federal criminal laws involving the unauthorized disclosure of classified information” and specifically mentions the Espionage Act.

OK. Now we're getting somewhere.

Here is some of the New York Times spin put on the news here:

Mr. Tice said in a telephone interview on Friday that he believed that the leak investigation and subpoena were designed to discourage whistle-blowers. “I feel this is an intimidation tactic aimed at me and anyone who’s considering dropping a dime on criminal activity by the government,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the subpoena as part of an effort to cover up government wrongdoing.

“Courageous federal employees like Mr. Tice who bring hidden truths to light, letting lawmakers and the American people know when official misconduct has occurred, perform a valuable public service,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the A.C.L.U.’s legislative office in Washington.

There is a specific whistleblowers statute, 5 U.S.C. 1213, which allows government workers like Tice, concerned with the legality of their actions, to reveal their concerns to the Office of Special Counsel. The statute protects those that do. There is no protection for going to the New York Times. Tice and the other malcontents who leaked the existence of this and other secret programs cannot claim whistleblower status and only an ignoramus blinded by partisan zealotry would refer to these criminals as 'courageous.' See more on the subject here.

Also the NSA program, as described by Lichtblau and Risen, does not violate FISA and is not criminal under several court precedents, including In re: Sealed Case No. 02-001, which is pretty much on point (although in dicta).

Finally, plugging leaks of secret programs necessary to fight against Jihadists is not covering up government wrongdoing, it's keeping our government's doing right secret and effective.


NORAD Begins to Stand Down

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, deep inside Cheyenne Mountain just south of Colorado Springs, will move soon to a normal building to consolidate with Northern Command administration on nearby Peterson AFB. (No word on the Stargate). The 'hardened' facility will become mere backup to the day to day duties of the warning system.

Rather than the sleak computer screen room shown in WarGames, (with a young, pre-Ferris Matthew Broderick), the heart of the underground complex always looked like a stacked doublewide trailer to me.

I guess with no impending Soviet nuclear attack, the extra expense of working inside a mountain could no longer be justified.

Passing of a Cold War icon, though, like SAC, the Strategic Air Command, in Omaha, which closed up shop in 1992.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 238 AD, the Co-Emperors Pupienus and Balbinus are tortured and murdered by the Praetorian Guard and Gordian III, just 13 years old, is proclaimed Emperor to replace them. Gordian III will die at age 19 campaigning against an expanding Sassanian empire under its energetic leader, Shapur I, who said Gordian III was killed in fighting near present day Fallujah; the Romans said Gordian III died of a fever 250 miles up the Euphrates near Circesium in present day Syria.


Thought of the Day

Brevis esse laboro obscurus fio.


When I try to be brief, I become obscure.

Friday, July 28, 2006


They Also Serve Who Sit and Blog

All of us guys who were not subject to the draft or not drafted, even if we have the card, and didn't join during the last of the Vietnam War or after, always are giving moral ground to those who have served our country in its Armed Services, including the Coast Guard. I'm not saying that's not appropriate and I do appreciate our soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and women, etc. more than the average American, I think.

But service in the Armed Forces, doesn't make you automatically a better historical analyst of current events. Indeed, specialization in one field can give you tunnel vision and destroy clear eyed assessment based on all the known factors.

Still, it's tough to get past the St. Crispin's Day speech in Henry V. Money quote:

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.' T
hen will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

John Keegan in his book The Face of Battle adds some resonance to the King's speech with his analysis of the battle of Agincourt. The consensus that it was the longbow that was the decisive advantage is hooey according to Keegan, that was earlier in the Hundred Years War, at Poitiers and Crecy, for example. What doomed the French knights was their hubris and the well known French inability to queue properly. They overwhelmingly outnumbered the English and were between them and their escape through Calais, but the noble French knights all wanted to get into battle with the top guys on the English side, and they crowded each other, pinned arms against sides and chests and they got slaughtered by the English troops who had elbow room. So more men could have indeed doomed the English forces.

And you don't have to have been in the Armed Forces in the 20th Century to be able to see that.


Ralph Peters Has Another Downer Column

But this time I disagree with him, on many points, in his second bummer column in a row. Money quote:

The IDF's errors played into Hezbollah's hands. Initially relying on air power, the IDF ignored the basic military principles of surprise, mass and concentration of effort. Instead of aiming a shocking, concentrated blow at Hezbollah, the IDF dissipated its power by striking targets scattered throughout Lebanon - while failing to strike any of them decisively.

Even now, in the struggle for a handful of border villages, the IDF continues to commit its forces piecemeal - a lieutenant's mistake. Adding troops in increments allows the enemy to adjust to the increasing pressure - instead of being crushed by one mighty blow.

Given the nature of the inciting incident, surprise was not in the cards. Couldn't agree more that more men into the first waves of bunker clearing would have been good.

I wouldn't say that it's over. Things looked pretty bleak on December 20, 1944 in many parts of Belgium, we still crushed the Krauts.


Capture the Flag

Hezbollah's flag, that is.

Any pictures out there of Hezbollah Jihadists waiving a captured Israeli flag?

I haven't seen any.

It appears to me that the Israeli APC, such as the one to the left, is merely the Merkava chassis with no turret and therefore more room for troops who exit out an armored back door. I could be wrong.


Three Guys Making a Lot of Sense

Even though it is thinking the unthinkable, our leaving Iraq swept up in a Lebanon like civil war, Ralph Peter's column at the New York Post is clear eyed and well thought out. Kind of a bummer though. Money quote:

Instead of working aggressively toward a solution, key elements within the Iraqi government have become part of the problem. Responsible for the police and public order, the Interior Ministry has failed utterly. Instead of behaving impartially, Shia-dominated police units provide death squads to retaliate against Sunni insurgents. As a result, more Sunnis back the insurgents in self-defense. More Shias die. More Sunnis die. The downward spiral accelerates.
This is bad news for our troops in Iraq. For the first time, we may face a problem we have no hope of fixing. We can defeat the terrorists. We can defeat a political insurgency. But when our forces find themselves caught between two religious factions, the only hope is to pick a side and stick to it, despite the atrocities it inevitably will commit.

Charles Krauthammer's logic is unassailable, as usual (and he continues his true support of Israel). Money quote:

Israel's response to Hezbollah has been to use the most precise weaponry and targeting it can. It has no interest, no desire to kill Lebanese civilians. Does anyone imagine that it could not have leveled south Lebanon, to say nothing of Beirut? Instead, in the bitter fight against Hezbollah in south Lebanon, it has repeatedly dropped leaflets, issued warnings, sent messages by radio and even phone text to Lebanese villagers to evacuate so that they would not be harmed.

Israel knows that these leaflets and warnings give the Hezbollah fighters time to escape and regroup. The advance notification as to where the next attack is coming has allowed Hezbollah to set up elaborate ambushes. The result? Unexpectedly high Israeli infantry casualties. Moral scrupulousness paid in blood. Israeli soldiers die so that Lebanese civilians will not, and who does the international community condemn for disregarding civilian life?

The guy Wretched at the Belmont Club speculates (accurately, I think) on what the IDF is trying to do in Lebanon. Money quote:

...I'm going to say that despite the received wisdom of the newspapers to the contrary, the fighting at Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbeil have been and continue to be an unmitigated defeat for the Hezbollah. The Hezbollah are doing the single most stupid thing imaginable for a guerilla organization. They are fighting to keep territory. Oh, I know that this will be justified in terms of "inflicting casualties" on the Israelis. But the Hez are probably losing 10 for every Israeli lost. A bad bargain for Israel you say? No. A bad bargain for Hezbollah to trade their terrorist elite for highly trained but nevertheless conventional infantry. Guerillas should trade 1 for 10, not 10 for 1.


This Day in Ancient History

Today was celebrated in ancient Greece as the birthday of Athena (who sprang fully formed, and in armor, from the head of Zeus) particularly in Athens for obvious reasons. It is also the last and greatest day of the Panathenaic Games with major sacrifices to Athena.


Thought of the Day

I wish I was in Tiajauna
Eating barbecued iguana.

Wall of Voodoo

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Face Painting

When I played football in High School, I used to finger paint this black greasy stuff in a swath on each of the cheek bones, a half inch under my eyes. I don't think I was getting any glare off that part of my face, I just thought I looked cool. I could have.

Apparently soldiers think so too. And they do.

Apparently the idea is to make the face not look like a face in shades of green. You're supposed to put light where there are shadows on the face and dark where the light hits most. So on top of the brow line, on the nose and cheeks and chin, dark green. Around the eyes, under the nose, in the sunken hollows of the cheeks and under the chin, light green.

I don't think I'd like this guy if he were angry.



"In wartime," stated Winston Churchill during World War II, "truth is so precious that she must be attended by a bodyguard of lies."

The short, new hour reports on the radio state that Israel both will not expand the fight beyond south Lebanon but will call up 30,000 more reserves. Sounds like slightly contradictory news reports to me.

Yoni Tidi, a former IDF sniper, who calls into Hugh Hewitt's show regularly, says neither are correct--the numbers in the reserve call up is classified information and the reason for the classification of the number to be callled up is also classified.



French Film Star Jean Reno Joins Hezbollah

And he was so good in Leon (The Professional) and some earlier French works like Le Dernier Combat (an entire movie with no dialogue) and La Femme Nikita, all by Luc Besson.

He's carrying an AKM-74 underfolder with thermamold 30 round clip and improved barrel (lenghtened). Very nice.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 587 BC, the Temple of Solomon is destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, the Jewish King Zebekiah is blinded and he and most of the surviving Jews are carted off to Babylon to be slaves. Thus, ends the First Temple Period. See Jeremiah 52:1-16.

So we have a historical precedent for what happens when the Jews lose a war, and it's not pretty. Weird that this destruction took place on the same calendar day over 600 year later, when the Romans under Titus ended the Second Temple period with the destruction of the Temple of Herod in 70 AD .


Thought of the Day

It is better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.

Anatole France

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Lance Bass Comes Out of the Closet

Lance Bass, one of the 5 pretty boys in the pre-teen heart-throb band N' Sync (the band, with Britney Spears, which headlined the first concert daughter Alex and I attended together) has told the world that he is gay.

Knock me over with a feather.


Saddam Requests Firing Squad Over Noose

Having been shot (and it didn't hurt until late that night), I think I'd choose firing squad over hanging as well. Saddam Hussein had to be figuratively dragged to court where he made the following request:

He asked the court to execute him by firing squad — "not by hanging as a common criminal" — if it convicts him of all charges and sentences him to death.

"I ask you being an Iraqi person that if you reach a verdict of death, execution, remember that I am a military man and should be killed by firing squad," he said.


This Day in History

On this day in 1945, Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister having had his conservative party lose badly in elections held just prior. Talk about an ungrateful nation. Churchill had left the Potsdam Conference to stand for election and Clement Atlee, his replacement as Prime Minister, returned to the house that looks like a face west of Berlin. Eastern Europe suffered a lot for the decision of the British people.

Because Potsdam was in East Germany and, in fact, was in the Commies idea of an urban preservation zone, many houses in that suburb still show evidence of fierce firefights from Spring, 1945.


Thought of the Day

Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking.

Clement Atlee

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


American Woman Soldier Patrols Gay Shops in Iraq

U.S. Army Sgt. Christina Watkins provides security during a climate assessment of a marketplace in Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Climate assessments are conducted to collect information about the needs and concerns of the citizens in the area. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika).

Hey, when did we start putting women into combat roles?


Lawyerlike Arguments of Moral Equivalence

Paul Campos, I hope, has not written today a column in the Rocky Mountain News laced with humor (into which parts he can retreat if called on his lack of rigorous logic). He's talking about the war between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. He makes the arguments you might expect from a lefty law professor on this subject--moral equivalence. Money quotes:

Note Dershowitz's argument closely resembles that made by Ward Churchill in his repugnant "little Eichmanns" essay, for which Churchill was properly excoriated by people all across the political spectrum. The office workers in the World Trade Center were not truly innocent victims, Churchill claimed, because they had chosen to be part of the system with which al-Qaida was at war. Churchill also endorses something like Dershowitz's sliding scale of culpability, arguing that his claims don't really apply to the janitors in the building.

Alan Dershowitz said that the people in southern Lebanon who have been warned by Israeli leaflet to leave or face being bombed or shelled are somewhat complicit, by their choice not to leave, with Hezbollah, which uses them as shields. Note that Campos is equating Dershowitz's analysis to faux Indian Ward Churchill's calling "little Eichmanns" the people who merely went to work and were killed in a sneak attack against civilians from al Qaeda. Many of us who are not law professors might not see any connection at all between those two statements, between choice after warning and no choice before a sneak attack. Professor Campos must be brilliant to see connection where there is none. But there's more:

It's striking how, when our enemies intentionally kill ordinary men, women and children, we have no difficulty recognizing that such acts are essentially monstrous - yet when we or our allies commit similar acts we find it almost impossible to do so. (I'm using the word "intentional" in its precise legal sense: the commission of an act one knows will have certain consequences.)

Using part of the legal definition of intentional -- almost certain to have an expected outcome -- however, does not make the acts of Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah terrorists equal morally. Hezbollah sets off unaimed rockets in the general direction of cities in Israel. Their intent is to hit civilians and kill them even though they know that some rockets will miss and destroy nothing. The Israeli pilots and gunners are trying to hit only military targets even though they know that their misses may hit civilians and kill them. Campos argues that because the Israelis know that a small percentage of their bombs and shells may kill innocent civilians they intend this regrettable outcome just as surely as the Hezbollah terrorists intend their victims' death. Campos does not complete the analysis and argue that because the terrorists know some percentage of their rockets will miss their targets that they intend their barrages to do no damage. Had he done so, people would laugh at him. But the moral equivalence argument he did make is worthy of no less. But there's more:

It's said the difference between soldiers and terrorists is that soldiers don't want to kill civilians, while terrorists do. But it's easy to overstate this difference. For one thing, given that sociopaths are rare, the average terrorist and the typical soldier would no doubt prefer to achieve their goals in less horrific ways. Each knows that what he does kills innocent people, but each has been taught to believe the greater good justifies his actions.

So, according to Campos, the Hezbollah terrorists don't really want to kill all Jews and wipe Israel off the map, they would prefer to wipe Israel off the map without killing any Jews (kind of like the banishment final solution, discussed at Wannsee and rejected). Here is what the Hezbollah manifesto says:

We see in Israel the vanguard of the United States in our Islamic world. It is the hated enemy that must be fought until the hated ones get what they deserve. This enemy is the greatest danger to our future generations and to the destiny of our lands, particularly as it glorifies the ideas of settlement and expansion, initiated in Palestine, and yearning outward to the extension of the Great Israel, from the Euphrates to the Nile.

Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, and built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.

Not exactly the stuff of peaceful negotiations, is it?

Anyone who equates Hezbollah's efforts to obliterate Israel with unguided munitions aimed generally at cities with Israel's efforts to stop Hezbollah's barrages by an air and shelling campaign designed to cut off command and control and means of retreat and resupply (before a direct ground assault against the terrorists themselves), is a fool.

In Campos' case, he is a well educated fool.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 306 AD, Gaius Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, Constantinus Magnus, Constantine the Great, is hailed Emperor upon the death of his father, Constantius, in Eboracum (York), England. Constantius had come to England to put down an incursion of Pict soccer hooligans. There is a cool bronze statue on the very spot where Constantine bacame Emperor.


Thought of the Day

Deliberation. The act of examining one's bread to determine which side it is buttered on.

Ambrose Bierce (from the Devil's Dictionary)

Monday, July 24, 2006


Lame Lefty List

Although the list of 50 "conservative" rock songs at the NRO wasn't exactly heaven, I have to say I'm very, very disappointed with this reaction list at backwards R K, whatever that is.

First, Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie are not rock and rollers, I don't care who covers their song. They were certainly socialist songwriters but it's not rock and roll. If Chuck Berry sang God Bless America, it would not magically become a rock song.

Is it me or did the guy making the list seem to have runs of memory of other lefty songs by the same people? REM has spots 2-4, then there are two in a row by John Lennon and then one by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and then one by Neil Young. Maybe it's just me.

Where the guy went horribly wrong:

Get Up, Stand Up by Bob Marley Listen

We sick an tired of-a your ism-skism game -
Dyin n goin to heaven in-a jesus name, lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you cant fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do? ),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah!)

Regarding the bold text, last time I checked, Lincoln was a Republican. The rest of the song is about Ras Tafari (Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, whom Marley worshiped as a God).

Russians by Sting Listen

There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

Apolitical appeal to sanity to end the MAD policy of the Soviet Union and the United States. As I recall, President Reagan (a Republican) put the final stake in which sane Democrats had helped fashion 40 years earlier.

Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones Listen

Oh, a storm is threatning
My very life today
If I dont get some shelter
Oh yeah, Im gonna fade away

War, children, its just a shot away
Its just a shot away
War, children, its just a shot away
Its just a shot away

See just above.

Piggies by the Beatles (George Harrison wrote it)

Everywhere there's lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.

This is political? (Think of all the White Album songs that were political--just missed!)

I have to say the Lennon's Imagine is the most liberal song since The Internationale, the words to which are below.

Arise ye workers from your slumbers
Arise ye prisoners of want
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of cant.
Away with all your superstitions
Servile masses arise, arise
We'll change henceforth the old tradition
And spurn the dust to win the prize.

So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction
On tyrants only we'll make war
The soldiers too will take strike action
They'll break ranks and fight no more
And if those cannibals keep trying
To sacrifice us to their pride
They soon shall hear the bullets flying
We'll shoot the generals on our own side.

No saviour from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer
Our own right hand the chains must shiver
Chains of hatred, greed and fear
E'er the thieves will out with their booty
And give to all a happier lot.
Each at the forge must do their duty
And we'll strike while the iron is hot.

Now that's a liberal song


Rare Sports Post

Tiger takes the British Open by two strokes. Cries, appropriately.

Another American takes the Tour de France (Floyd Landis, with an arthritic hip in need of replacement--like me) despite a concerted French effort to eliminate the top non-French competition with iffy doping charges.

The Rockies actually score some runs in the 9th to rally and take one against the Diamondbacks.

NFL training camps for this season have either started or are mere days away.

And at least for a few more hours, all is right in the sports world.


Michael Barone Looks at the Mid-East

With his experience and wisdom, Michael Barone is usually well worth listening to regarding American politics. Who knew he could be so clear sighted about the Israel/Hezbollah war? But he is. Money quote:

Today, almost no one is demanding a land-for-peace deal. The reason is obvious. Israel left the Gaza strip last year, and the Palestinians there, instead of observing a cold peace, began launching missiles into Israel and elected a Hamas government that seeks Israel's destruction. Now, Hamas forces have killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Similarly, Israel left southern Lebanon to the tender mercies of Iran-supported Hezbollah fully six years ago. But Hezbollah, urged on by the Iranian mullahs who want to deflect attention from their nuclear program, has lobbed missiles into Haifa and attacked Israeli soldiers.

No government can be expected to ignore such armed attacks on its people and its military forces. Land-for-peace is a non-starter. Hamas and Hezbollah already have land. And they have made it clear that they will never willingly make peace.


Wall Street Journal Poll Tracking

The Wall Street Journal has a place to go to see the trends in polling for the Senate races which are actually in play. It's sobering for us Republicans. I'm already thinking up excuses for my bad prediction we would pick up seats.

On the bright side, Debbie Stabenow, (D-MI) looks in real trouble in the WSJ's poll, fine in others. Whom to believe?

There are people out there who poll accurately but the trouble is I forget who they are in the two years that have passed since I last cared about polls.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1847, Brigham Young and the original members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints arrived at the Great Salt Lake, where they would settle and, amazingly, prosper.


Thought of the Day

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.

Groucho Marx

Sunday, July 23, 2006


The Ego Flies on Friday

If you're unclear why Senator John Kerry (D-MA) couldn't get within 3 million votes of a vulnerable President Bush in 2004, read this from Kerry, stumping for the not going that well candidacy of fellow democrat Gov. Granholm in Michigan.

Talking about the current war in southern Lebanon, Kerry said: "If I was president, this wouldn't have happened."

Really? Kerry would have prevented Israel from pulling out of southern Lebanon in 2000? No, he wouldn't have been president then--it has to be since January, 2005. OK, I'm stumped, what else did he say, maybe there's a clue there, although usually Kerry hasn't any?

"The president has been so absent on diplomacy when it comes to issues affecting the Middle East."

Oh, so Kerry would have done such a fine job on the diplomatic front that Hezbollah wouldn't have stored 10,000 to 13,000 rockets and wouldn't have ambushed the IDF patrol and kidnapped two wounded soldiers? He would have merely talked the Jihadist fanatics out of it. Is this guy full of himself or what? But there's more. He said:

"This is about American security and Bush has failed. He has made it so much worse because of his lack of reality in going into Iraq.…We have to destroy Hezbollah."

Oh, so it wasn't a matter of diplomacy it was a matter of destroying Hezbollah and Bush hasn't been tough enough fighting against the Jihadists.

This isn't merely delusional narcissism, it seriously incoherent as well. And many Americans can sense disabling neurosis, thank the Lord.


Tanks for the Memories

With focused raids on Hezbollah strongholds by tank supported IDF troops about to become a broader bunker to bunker search for rockets, perhaps a brief history of Israel tanks is in order.

In the war declared by 5 surrounding Arab nations immediately upon Israel becoming a nation (under a UN mandate) Israel only had the tanks it could scrounge on the after WWII market which were mostly, but by a slim margin, the hopelessly obsolete M-4 Sherman (but better than nothing). By the time the Arabs felt like another ass-kicking in 1956 (mainly in the Sinai), the Israelis had both the M-4 Super Sherman (still only just slightly better than nothing) and the French AMX-13, pictured below
France then stopped selling arms to Israel so by the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israelis were using our M-48s and M-60s as well as the pretty decent Centurion tank from England. The Israelis began a program after that war ended to build the Centurion in Israel, where it was called the Sho't. Lefties in England (like the lefties in France before them) forced that deal to falter, but apparently the Israelis kept the blueprints even after they lost the license. Below and to the right is a British centurion in the Gulf of Aden.

During the Yom Kippur war in 1973, when the Russian anti tank weapons the Arabs had were knocking out Israeli tank after tank, we were shipping emergency M-60 Patton tanks to keep Israel from being overrun by Egyptian and Syrian forces using the Russian T-55s and T-62s.

I recall a boisterous young Israeli spending several nights with one of the few round heeled girls in my 'dorm' at college in 1974. He effectively recounted to me the terror he felt in his tank under RPG and Sagger attack, and his thanks to the United States for the needed replacements.

Having had two suppliers dry up on them, the Israelis decided that producing their own tanks would be a good idea and under the able leadership of Aluf 'Talik' Israel Tal, the result was the Merkava (Chariot) now in the Mark 4 version. Given the history above, it is no surprise that it looks a lot like the Centurion tank (with a little AMX-13 slimming in the turret) but better. Below center is an earlier model Merkava, probably a Mark 2

Below and to the right is a Merkava Mark 4 and an armored Cat D-9 rolling past the, as usual, totally ineffective UN Peace Keeping forces outpost.

I hope the blue helmets at least got to watch the show of the Katusha launches from this beautiful watch-tower, as they did absolutely nothing to stop the sporadic barrages nor anything to carry out UN resolution 1559 to disarm Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Not that I'm bitter or anything.


This Day in WWI History

On this day in 1914, Baron Giesl von Gieslingen, ambassador of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Serbia, delivered an ultimatum to the Serbian foreign minister asking, inter alia, that the Serbs let the Austro-Hungarians take over the investigation of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo nearly a month before. An answer within 48 hours was demanded. The Serbs replied within the time limit and agreed to everything but allowing the Austro-Hungarians to investigate. It was not good enough and the leaders of the Great Powers of Europe were unable either to control or to placate their lesser allies and keep the diplomatic process going. Three days later, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia and the rest of Europe's monarchs and leaders followed suit, declaring war on each other's countries during the next month for reasons not fully clear despite close study for nearly a 100 years.


Thought of the Day

When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.

African proverb

Saturday, July 22, 2006


No Court Martial Probable for Nathan B. Lynn

One of the twenty or so American soldiers accused of crimes in Iraq, Pennsylvanian Guardsman Nathan B. Lynn, should be coming home soon a free man. Military officials had alleged that Lynn improperly fired on Gani Ahmad Zaben and then conspired with other members of his unit to plant a weapon in a pool of blood near the body to cover up the crime. While the shooting and planting of the AK-47 all apparently happened, at the Article 32 hearing in Baghdad last week, the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing in the criminal side of our judicial system, the hearing's presiding officer, Lt. Col. John W. McClory, found that Specialist Lynn both thought the man was armed and followed the rules of engagement, when he shot Zaben in an area that had been the scene of frequent insurgent attacks. McClory also concluded that Lynn did not play a role in placing an AK-47 near the man's body.

Lynn said he shot the man as he and another suspected insurgent moved stealthily toward his position. Another soldier in Lynn's unit, Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr., allegedly conspired to place an AK-47 found near the scene next to the body. The investigating officer recommended that charges against Ortiz -- including the conspiracy count and unrelated charges of assault and uttering a threat -- go forward


Let's get on with holding the Article 32 hearings on the soldiers accused of murder in Haditha and rape/murder in Mahmoudiya, the investigations of which have been seriously hampered by the refusal of many Iraqis to exhume the alleged victims for forensic analysis.


Sistani Says the Right Stuff

In an effort to stem the rising tide of internecine violence between Shia and Sunni that has arisen since the bombing of the Al Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq's most important religious leader, the grand ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said last Thursday:

"I call on all sons of Iraq... to be aware of the danger threatening their nation's future and stand shoulder to shoulder in confronting it by rejecting hatred and violence."

It would be great if the Iraqi on Iraqi attacks would diminish--so far nothing. We'll see in the future.

Still, it's much better than had Sistani issued a fatwa for his Shia followers to slaughter all Sunni, so we got that going for us.


Rock Concert Report

Went last night with a gang (Mark, old college friend Gary, and Curt the Carpenter Saint) to the Gothic Theater on South Broadway in Denver to see Robin Trower. We might have gotten there too soon as we had to endure the opening act, local band Jaded Poet, who kind of epitomized all that was bad about the 80s hair bands. I really hated these guys. The only interesting fellow was guitarist, Muno, who looks Indian to me, and is a bit of a fret wanker. And why have 5 strings on your bass if you're only going to hit the top two? In Hell these guys would be consigned to playing Time Warp over and over again forever. I've already spent more time on them than their talents deserve.

Trower was pretty darn good but the last time I saw him was with Procul Harum quite a few decades ago so his physical appearance was something of a shock. He could be 80 (born 3/9/45 in Catford, London, England, he's only 61--could have fooled me). There was an Alice through the looking glass twist on The Portrait of Dorian Grey to the night--Trower ages badly but his music stays just the same (doing the Time Warp indeed). His squarish nose is exactly the same. No spring chickens ourselves, we were already joking about the number of aged people in the audience before Trower came on, calling it Geezer Fest and Geezerpalooza-estimating that the average age of the crowd, including the 50 or so young women as temperers, was about 45. When Trower took the stage, the average age went up a full year. He plays, we noticed, through twin Marshalls in a slave/master set up (to use the Nietzschean term). Pretty loud in a big sounding, still-using-tubes-to-amplify sort of way

The four guys in the band could not have looked more British if they had been wearing Union Jack T-shirts, Tottenham scarves, had their passports out and were singing God Save the Queen. Gary, who does know music (even if he is a bit of a know it all--I should talk), said everyone but Trower was American. My ass. I'm just kidding him. We stayed up to 3 drinking Kirin ichiban and tequila and talking music and philosophy with Mark (Curt had to work the next day and left early).

Trower's default position is E minor 7. Most of his solos started and ended on that chord (Mark told me that--I can't recognize a chord just from hearing it). I could see that he plays with only three fingers (like Robbie Robertson) which has to be a little limiting. The coolest thing about Trower is that he makes it seem pretty effortless and smooth, like the old black dancers doing a slow soft shoe elegantly. The most impressive thing is that there was not a 20 note period of play that you would not have recognized as Trower's. I'm blown away. Think of all the guitarists you have ever heard and how few have achieved that sort of distinction of style and sound that you would recognize the player even if you didn't know the song--Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Fripp, maybe Clapton and... as I say it's a pretty exclusive club. Very impressive.

Curt, who I think plays the guitar very well, caught a pick from Trower but gave it to a younger, very enthusiastic fan with a cute girlfriend. I thought the guy was going to cry with gratitude. All and all a very impressive concert, I just wish the sound system had been a little more balanced so I could have better heard the singer, Davy Pattison, who was an excellent replacement for Jimmy Dewar who died a few years back. The guitar came through fine though and, let's face it, that's why we were there in the first place.

I'm going to finish up with this. Not all great guitarists bend the notes on the frets, Robert Fripp doesn't, David Gilmour only uses the twang bar, but I think it makes the difference in a subtle way, perhaps all the difference in a guitar style that has its birth deep in the blues but has transcended what passed for great in the Mississippi delta 80 years ago. Trower bends the heck out of the strings and it gives his playing a soul or, if that's too religious a reference, a human edge that is so pleasurable--like a big pat of butter on perfectly cooked ear of corn or a biscuit. I'm glad that Trower is still touring and I thank those who twisted my arm to get me there last night to hear him.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1933, the first round-the-world solo flight (15,596 miles) was completed by Wiley Post, in his single-engine Lockheed Vega 5B aircraft "Winnie Mae," in 7 days 18hr 49min. He had made an accompanied flight around the world in 1931. Born 22 Nov 1898, Wiley Post made his first solo flight in 1926, the year he got his flying license, signed by Orville Wright, despite wearing a patch over his left eye, lost in an oilfield accident. Post invented the first pressurized suit to wear when he flew around the world. Another credit was his research into the jet streams. He died with his passenger, humorist Will Rogers, 15 Aug 1935 in a plane crash in Alaska.

(h/t Today in Science History)


Thought of the Day

If a scientific heresy is ignored or denounced by the general public, there is a chance it may be right. If a scientific heresy is emotionally supported by the general public, it is almost certainly wrong.

Isaac Asimov

Friday, July 21, 2006


Plame Lawsuit Motivation Explained

When I first slogged through the Plame/Wilson complaint against three famous people and 10 John Does, I thought that they had alleged just enough to get past a motion to dismiss on the pleadings and perhaps some of the claims would survive a Motion for Summary Judgment even under the rigorous standards of federal court (where the Judge can take out weak cases not just hopeless ones). Then smarter lawyers than I said that it will run afoul of governmental immunity.

If that is true, then why would the Plame/Wilson plaintiffs bring a loser of a suit? Even the most narcissist of narcissists doesn't want to be remembered as a loser.

Riding to the rescue is Byron York over at The Hill. He thinks that it's an effort to revive interest in Valerie Plame's book (working title: Fair Game). Of all the reasons to bring a lawsuit I have heard, and I've heard a lot, that may be the worst ever.


New York Times Wish List

The New York Times has a stern editorial today that is laughable in its politically correct pollyannaishness (if that's a word). Here are some tidbits followed by some snark (and a cold dose of reality):

Lebanon needs more than U.S. marines to evacuate Americans. It needs the fighting to stop and the international community to step in and guarantee the security of Israel and Lebanon. That will require not only a cease-fire and peacekeepers but also a guarantee that Hezbollah will be forced to halt its attacks on Israel permanently and disband its militia.

Are the NYT editors unaware that the UN has had peace keeping forces in southern Lebanon for decades now? A guarantee that Hezbollah will halt attacks on Israel forever and disband its militia. Wow, can I get a flying pig and a lantern with a djinn in it?

So it is not surprising that the Israelis are skeptical that another Security Council resolution will make any difference. A robust resolution is nevertheless a prerequisite for robust diplomacy and clear threats of punishment for all who resist. Ideally, the resolution would not only require all sides to stop fighting and authorize the deployment of a peacekeeping force, it would also order Hezbollah to withdraw from Israel's borders and begin to disarm -- and order Syria and Iran to stop supplying their client. The price for refusing should be international sanctions and complete isolation.

At least the editors seem aware that there was a UN resolution two years ago that robustly called for Hezbollah to disarm. Robust resolution..robust diplomacy. Are the editors high? Diplomacy with a body like Schwarzenegger used to have is but a flyspeck compared to a single, well aimed 155 mm round. International sanctions, as I seem to remember, only cause suffering in the little people, the leaders continue to live high on the hog (like Arafat or Saddam). Sanctions don't seem to have much effect in a dictatorship or in a country dominated by another country and a stateless band of fanatics whose only reason for existence is the extirpation of the state of Israel. The NYT should pull its collective head out to see the change from the general reaction in the rest of the Muslim world with fellow Arabs this time blaming not Israel but Hezbollah for the current troubles, and that Israel is accomplishing just what the NYT says it wants--Hezbollah disarmed and away from the border. Complete isolation--oooh, the horror.

The United States will have to take the lead, not least because it's the only country Israel trusts. That means Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- who has been dragging her feet to give Israel more time to fight -- needs to get on a plane and visit Damascus as well as Jerusalem. The longer she delays the more lives will be lost, and the harder it will be to build a lasting peace.

The United States is the only country that has been an unwavering, generous supporter of Israel. That won't change as long as Republicans (other than Pat Buchanan) are in charge. The only thing that can build a lasting peace on Israel's northern border is the utter defeat of Hezbollah by Israel. The only thing that appears able to prevent that end is a cease fire. So the NYT has it exactly wrong. Again.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1899, in Oak Park, IL, Ernest Hemingway was born. He went on to become quite a good writer, winning a Pulitzer in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He can't hold a candle to Joyce or Faulkner, but I like some of his novels and many of his stories, particularly the ones involving fly fishing. To Have and Have Not, with the script punched up by Faulkner, made quite a good movie in 1944. The rest of the films from his books--not so good.


Thought of the Day

War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory.

Georges Clemenceau

Thursday, July 20, 2006


This War is Hell (Except for Anti-Semites)

The current war between Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas appears to be very distressing to the cultured person who is able to have true sympathy. For the true anti-Semite (who hates all Semitic people both Arab and Jew) this is as good as it gets.

Arabs blowing up Jews and Jews blowing up Arabs. Whew-eee. It's like Christmas in July!

I'm not like that at all. I enjoy (if that's the right word) the justice inherent in the IDF kicking yet again, the skinny heines of the people stupid enough to attack them.

You do kinda feel sorry for the Lebanese not members or supporters of Hezbollah.


Walking On The Moon

I have to admit that the bloom was off the rose between the time the first couple of astronauts went up into space or orbited the earth and the time they landed on the moon on this day in 1969 (nearly forty years ago). I slept through it. I'm led to believe I didn't miss much.

Over the years we have all heard what Neil Armstrong said upon first stepping on the moon. I think he flubbed his line but he doesn't see any mistake. Let's compare his version to what I maintain is the correct one.

"That's one small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind." (bad real version--missing indefinite article)

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for Mankind." (corrected fantasy version--indefinite article restored)

I am so convinced of the rightness of my version that whenever they play the clip (as they did today a lot) at the pause in the middle, I always yell out--"a man" or "a man, you moron." I can't help it.


Proportional War

Proportionality is an ethical or legal term which has only recently been applied to war as part of the just war theory (See Catechisms 2307-2314). Here's one definition: Proportionality: in the conduct of hostilities, efforts must be made to attain military objectives with no more force than is militarily necessary and to avoid disproportionate collateral damage to civilian life and property. The concept hardly belongs to war, as it is a matter more about the seriousness of the conflict rather than some sort of handicapping. It certainly is not a 'governor' device for evening out the casualty rates. But, for example, it would be wrong for us to drop a nuclear weapon on Valparaiso, Chile (picked at random) because a single U. S sailor was knifed in a bar there (although I seem to remember a near declaration of war in the late 19th Century by the US against Chile for just that).

Japan attacked Hawaii in late 1941 (killing a few score civilians) and Alaska (actually Unalaska) in June, 1942 (10 civilians killed at Dutch Harbor) but neither Alaska nor Hawaii was a state at the time. The only bombing deaths of civilians in the continental US was the tragic explosion of a Japanese bomb, carried here by balloon, that killed 6. I posted about that here. So that's the score here in the United States from Japan--one bomb, 6 civilians killed.

We bombed Japan starting with the Doolittle raid on April 18, 1942, but didn't start burning up their cities until late Winter, 1945. Over the last 5 months of the war we dropped over a million tons of bombs on Japanese cities and killed: 2 million 5

Hiroshima [nuclear weapon]:
about 138,890 according to Gilbert
. 5
Nagasaki [nuclear weapon]:
about 48,857 according to Gilbert
Tokyo bombings:
"On May 24, more than four hundred American bombers dropped 3,646 tons of bombs on central Tokyo, and on the industrial areas in the south of the city. More than a thousand Japanese were killed."
Tokyo, March 1945: "83,793 Japanese civilians killed. That was the official minimum death toll; later, 130,000 deaths were 'confirmed' by the Japanese authorities." 5
Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Yokohama, Kawasaki March-May 1945:
"more than a quarter of a million"

6 versus 2 million. That's the 'scorecard' of civilian bombing deaths in the United States and Japan during WWII. People keeping the death statistics in the current war in southern Lebanon should keep that in mind before they pop off about proportionality.


Ann Coulter With Appropriate Snark

This posting on Ann Coulter's site has just the right mix of disdain and sarcasm. I liked it a lot.

Money quotes:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says that "what's going on in the Middle East today" wouldn't be happening if the Democrats were in power. Yes, if the Democrats were running things, our cities would be ash heaps and the state of Israel would have been wiped off the map by now.

But according to Dean, the Democrats would have the "moral authority that Bill Clinton had" — no wait! keep reading — "when he brought together the Israelis and Palestinians." Clinton really brokered a Peace in Our Time with that deal — "our time" being a reference to that five-minute span during which he announced it. Yasser Arafat immediately backed out on all his promises and launched the second intifada.


On "Meet the Press" last month, Sen. Joe Biden was asked whether he would support military action against Iran if the Iranians were to go "full-speed-ahead with their program to build a nuclear bomb."

No, of course not. There is, Biden said, "no imminent threat at this point."

According to the Democrats, we can't attack Iran until we have signed affidavits establishing that it has nuclear weapons, but we also can't attack North Korea because it may already have nuclear weapons. The pattern that seems to be emerging is: "Don't ever attack anyone, ever, for any reason. Ever."


Justice in Denver

Two little noticed cases entered final chapters recently with guilty pleas. The first is a wimpy deal from the Denver District Attorney's office (where I worked in the 80s). Lt. Col. Alexis Fecteau (soon to retire) pled guilty to a single count of felony mischief naming all 13 of the victims whose cars he vandalized because they had pro-Bush stickers on them. That's good. He got a two year deferred sentence. That's bad. He refrains from vandalizing more Republican owned cars for two years and the charges are dismissed. The real punishment may be from the Air Force which will decide what pay grade Feckless gets for his retirement. We can hope, I guess.

The second is more robust. Joseph Yacteen, 27, who shot Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Marc Cohen in the head after a gig at the Botanic Gardens, pled guilty to attempted first degree murder (the proper charge) and faces up to 48 years when he is sentenced on October 2. There was very little coverage of this, as Denver does not want to be known as a town where you can get shot in the head during a car jacking. Cohn was hospitalized but recovered quickly.


This Day in the History of Science

On this day in 1804, English anatomist and paleontologist Sir Richard Owen was born. He is famous still for his contributions to the study of fossil animals, but less known for his strong opposition to the views of Charles Darwin (thus earning a special place in the heart of Ann Coulter). He created the word "Dinosaur" meaning "terrible reptile" in 1842 (thus earning a special place in the hearts of all 7 year old boys). Owen synthesized French anatomical work, especially from Cuvier and Geoffroy, with German transcendental anatomy. He gave us many of the terms still used today in anatomy and evolutionary biology, including "homology". In 1856, he was appointed Superintendent of the British Museum (Natural History). He died December 18, 1892.

(h/t Today in Science History)


Thought of the Day

[I]f all the weaponry in this region were in the hands of the Islamists and Jihadists, the result would be genocide; while if all the weaponry were in the hands of Israel, the result would be serenity.

Frimet and Arnold Roth (whose teenage daughter was blown up by Jihadists)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


This Day in WWII History

On this day in 1944, nearly a hundred German officers plotted to kill Adolf Hitler and stage a coup. Colonel Klaus von Stauffenberg (who had been wounded in Russia and only had two fingers remaining), left a briefcase concealing a time bomb at Hitler's feet during a meeting at the Wolf's Lair in Rastenburg, East Prussia (now Gierloz, Poland). Apparently someone moved the briefcase to behind the stout support for the map table. The bomb killed 4 people, but not Hitler. In Berlin, conspirators took over, believing Hitler was dead. By midnight, they and von Stauffenberg had been shot or (according to legend) garrotted with wire (and filmed).


Thought of the Day

There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy.

George Washington

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Stein on War

In a book review of Nicholas Wade's Before The Dawn, Mark Steyn, my favorite pundit with an English accent now that Andrew Sullivan has almost totally lost his way, writes some very wise things apropos of our marvelous modern age. Wade's point is that the peaceful, noble savage is nearly completely a myth and that war has been nearly constant and very bloody through out human history. Here are some tidbits on Steyn's reaction to that revelation:

In reality, Pocahontas's fellow Algonquin Indians were preyed on by the Iroquois, "who took captives home to torture them before death," observes Nicholas Wade en passant. The Iroquois? Surely not. Only a year or two back, the ethnic grievance lobby managed to persuade Congress to pass a resolution that the United States Constitution was modelled on the principles of the Iroquois Confederation -- which would have been news to the dead white males who wrote it.
A couple of years back, I came across a column in The East African by Charles Onyango-Obbo musing on the return of cannibalism to the Dark Continent. Ugandan-backed rebels in the Congo (four million dead but, as they haven't found a way to pin it on Bush, nobody cares) had been making victims' relatives eat the body parts of their loved ones.
Lawrence Keeley calculates that 87 per cent of primitive societies were at war more than once per year, and some 65 per cent of them were fighting continuously. "Had the same casualty rate been suffered by the population of the twentieth century," writes Wade, "its war deaths would have totaled two billion people." Two billion! In other words, we're the aberration: after 50,000 years of continuous human slaughter, you, me, Bush, Cheney, Blair, Harper, Rummy, Condi, we're the nancy-boy peacenik crowd. "The common impression that primitive peoples, by comparison, were peaceful and their occasional fighting of no serious consequence is incorrect. Warfare between pre-state societies was incessant, merciless, and conducted with the general purpose, often achieved, of annihilating the opponent."

As usual, it would be better if you read the whole thing.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 64 AD, the Emperor Nero set fire to parts of Rome and blames it on the Christians. The fire is well planned and burned only the districts in most need of renovation without damaging any of the newer, better sections of the city. There was no loss of life. His building projects in the wake of the fire renewed some of Rome's worst slums. He may not have played the harp during the fire, but he deserved to.


Thought of the Day

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Groucho Marx

Monday, July 17, 2006


Jeff Goldstein Has Survived the Frisch Attack With Humor Intact

Or so it appears to me from our most successful local blogger's take down of the gift that keeps on giving, Howard Dean. Money quote:

“This country is in the worst shape since Richard Nixon, and probably before that,” Dean said.

“We’ve lost the high moral high ground everywhere in the world. We want to be respected around the world again.

Ah, how I do so love DNC calculus. To wit: freeing 50 million people from totalitarian regimes and spreading democracy = loss of moral high ground; pandering for international “respect” from those who took money from Saddam in exchange for blocking the way for the destruction of his regime = moral high ground.

Had Dean mentioned gay marriage, he’d be Andrew Sullivan.

I'm proud I know the guy.


More Trubling News About Iraq

George Stephanopoulos on This Week played this very troubling clip of a simple question placed to Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker--Are we winning in Iraq?

After an exceedingly long pause, Schoomaker responds by saying “I…y’know…I think I would answer that by telling you I don’t think we’re losing.”


Of course everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and that's not what General Abizaid at Central Command thinks.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 587 (or 586) BC, King Nebuchadnezzar breaches the walls of Jerusalem during his second war against Israel and despite the frantic defense led by King Zedekiah. See II Kings 25:2-4.


Thought of the Day

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Hezbollah Missile Primer

Here is a very brief article on the types of missiles Hezbollah is using to bombard Israel. The relatively small Qassam is probably strictly from Gaza, where they are hand made by the hundreds and hundreds; real pip-squeaks next to the mighty Fajr-5.

For comparison, the warhead on the ATACMS rocket, which fires from the M270 MLRS mobile rocket launcher, carries between 353 and around 1200 pounds of bomblets, 592 pounds of 13 BAT submunitions, or a 500 pound unitary explosive. So the Fajr-5 is pretty big.

Hezbollah claimed to have 12,000 rockets (the Israelis agreed there were probably 10,000 Katushas alone). How many have they fired already?


Wizbang Caption Contest

I took fifth place in the Wizbang caption contest this weekend with what I thought was the lesser of my two entries. Not that I'm complaining or anything, as all the other ones I've entered over the past few weeks either never were judged or I lost. Winners 1 and 3 really were good.


Looks Like War


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 622 AD, the Prophet Mohhamed (PBUH) flees from Mecca to Medina in current Saudi Arabia, and this is counted as day one of the Moslem year one and the Era of the Hegira.


Thought of the Day

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.


Saturday, July 15, 2006


If You Can't be Sincere, At Least Pretend Better

Matthew Yglesias, a generally sane lefty blogger and former radio guest on Hugh Hewitt's show, actually writes this:

[Democrat political strategists tell candidates] "That the Democrat believes marriage is between a man and a woman is among the strongest reassurance for older blue collar voters, seniors and those in rural areas. If this is what a candidate believes, it is important to say it."

If I might throw in my two cents, I would further strongly urge Democrats who don't believe marriage is between a man and a woman but who feel they ought to pretend to believe this in order to win elections (a plausible position) need to do a better job of pretending. I've heard a shockingly large number of politicians say things, in rooms where journalists are present, that make it perfectly clear that they think gay marriage is just fine but that the voters aren't ready for it. That's a sensible thing to believe, but you can't go around saying it if you're trying to win votes. If you're going to lie, then lie -- and lie convincingly! (Emphasis added).

This is a central tenet of Democrat strategy, a corollary to their one core belief that they should be in power.


The Love is Back

After a two year absence for lack of funding, the Love Parade in Berlin is back. It's just a big, week-end long block party (I guess they're called Raves now) that started after the Wall fell in 1989 and has become a monster ever since, stretching for miles from the Brandenburger Tor through the Tiergarten nearly to the Spree. If I were 30 years younger (and had the time and money), I would be there because I love loud techo music and German beer in combination. Oh, and hardbodied, pink haired, dancing German girls in fuzzy bikinis on X are good too.

Here's a taste of a parade a few years ago.


Israeli Bomb Takes Out a Lebanese Bridge

Taken at about just the right time, this AP photo from Lebanon yesterday shows the power of modern munitions on modern infrastructure.

You really have to wonder what Hezbollah was thinking about crossing the border to kill 8 IDF soldiers and kidnapping the two wounded soldiers.

There are times for restraint and then there are times you have to face the neighborhood real bullies and make them realize that their actions have consequences, like this.


Lebanese Forces Fight Back

But probably not very effectively. In this AP photo, the soldier is firing a Russian ZU 23-2 twin anti-aircraft automatic canon (23mm) mounted on an American M 113 APC (talk about a hybrid). The gun's vertical range is just over 16,000 feet so what he can mainly do is keep the Israeli airplanes higher or harass them as they dive.

There is an emblem on the side of the tracked vehicle, but I don't recognize it and it's not on the Lebanese Army website. His camouflage is not a Lebanese pattern I'm familiar with (it's not a Syrian or Iranian pattern I know either).

You can see an empty seat next to him (no idea what that's about) and the box of ammunition on the side of the gun. This contains 50 shells on a belt. The maximum rate of fire is 2,000 rounds per minute but with replacing the boxes of ammunition and changing out the barrels periodically, it's more like 300 to 500.

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