Thursday, August 31, 2006


Why I No Longer Watch the Alphabet News

No, it's not Keith Olbermann's Alice through the looking glass, 180 degrees wrong, long, pompous rant about President Bush and the Nazi appeasers in the 1930s (according to Keith, President Bush is like Neville Chamberlain--stunningly wrong; so who then is Churchill? John Kerry?). It's the hidden agenda commentary in supposed straight news things they say, which things are absolutely wrong and what they show in supposed support actually reveal the original statements are wrong, that have me staying away from ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, et al.. Let's start from the beginning.

The President gave a magnificent speech today in front of the Vets of the American Legion. Here's the transcript.

I was finally working out, listening to Hugh Hewitt, who was great and after, when I was getting dressed, some member at the Y turned the the locker room TV to ABC News where David Gregory (that paragon of honest reporting, civility and fairness (sarcasm alert)) was covering the President's speech. Gregory said that the President again tried to tie Osama Bin Laden in with the attack on 9/11. Then they played this part of the speech obviously in what they considered support of that statement:

Here at home we have a choice to make about Iraq. Some politicians look at our efforts in Iraq and see a diversion from the war on terror. That would come as news to Osama bin Laden, who proclaimed that the "third world war is raging" in Iraq.

How do those sentences try to tie Osama bin Laden to 9/11? The short answer is that they don't--not in any way. When is it misdirection on the President's part to quote bin Laden when he talks about Iraq? The President's supporting his statement that Iraq is an integral part of the war against Jihadism with a quote from the enemy is appropriate. ABC could well learn to do the same.

The Gregory smear therefore was untrue, unfair, nearly unbalanced and unchallenged.

I see I haven't been missing a thing.


Glenn Ford Dies at 90

Perhaps not the greatest actor ever but a solid, man's leading man and a mainstay of movies in the 40s and 50s actor Glenn Ford was discovered dead in his Beverly Hills home yesterday. He was the leading man in Gilda a movie where the first view of Rita Hayworth can still take your breath away. He was a WWII veteran, a marine, and he served again briefly in Viet Nam. I've never heard a bad word about this guy. Here is a good site to see the 100 or so movies he was in.


This Day in Ancient History

This is an unlucky day on the Roman calendar, the birth date of two of its more evil Emperors-- in 12 AD, Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus aka Caligula was born and in 181 AD, Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus, know to history merely as Commodus is born. Bad day indeed.


Thought of the Day

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Insomniac Theater

Saw the 2002 version of Solaris again on IFC and it was better than when I saw it in the theaters. I have been a big Stanislaw Lem fan for most of my adult life and I've read all his books translated into English which is at least most of them. I started with Solaris which remains by a very thin edge his best (Fiasco is also excellent). I even suffered through the oppressively long and bad Russian version of the Lem novel in 1972. Until the reviewing of the Clooney version of Solaris, I just thought it was impossible to film Lem right.

The director, Steven Soderbergh, was on a roll after a sophmore slump after Sex, Lies and Videotape, making, between 1998 and 2001, several good movies, Out of Sight, The Limey, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and Ocean's 11. Solaris, while science fiction on a budget, was his last gasp before a break and it has some of his best and worst qualities about it. I don't care about the acting or direction or set decoration--let's think about the ideas inherent in the book and this version on film. They are not that hard really.

Although the planet looked gaseous in the filmk it has a 'sentient' ocean on it. I got the idea reading the book that here on Earth after life began, the cells evolved (sorry, Ann) into separate entities that carried the sea in which they first lived around inside them and the separate individuals and then the separate order, phylum and species were not united in consciousness. On Solaris, the cells never developed into separate individuals but the whole sea was one organism with an astonishing consciousness.

Here's where it gets a little more difficult--Lem seems to say that we would have to treat a truly alien life form, clearly as superior as it is different from us, as we treat the concept of God, what Clooney called the human concept of God in the film. It would be unknowable, as God is unknowable to most of us. And unknowable, we could never tell interacting with it whether it would be benign or murderous; whether it would love or hate us or be supremely indifferent.

I got the idea from the book that as we humans on the orbiting station studied the sentient ocean, it studied us and one of the ways it studied us was to take a memory from us, make it real, confront us with the real memory and see how we reacted. Clooney was lucky to get a beloved object, his suicide wife, and Lem hinted that others on the station were not so lucky and had either nightmares or very bad memories as their visitor. That one of the planet-made life forms could kill (even in self defense) would have been, I think, foreign to Lem. A horrible enough memory, always there, impossible to destroy would cause us to kill ourself so why be violent if death is what the ocean wanted, assuming it wanted anything or could even want, as ego and desire are human constructs and attributes.

OK. so what happens? In the book, I can't remember what happens to the wife copy but the main character goes down to the planet and has the amazing but limited contact one can have with the sentient ocean. It is a subtle but powerful ending without resolution. Hollywood (even the Russians) wasn't having any of that. They're here to have a story, by God, on film. So here goes.

At first Clooney is repulsed by the copy and has to send it away. Then the second copy, when she knows she's a second copy, is repulsed by the thought of being a copy and commits suicide (again) first ineffectually and then permanently with the scifi mumbo jumbo positronic ray or whatever. But the liquid oxygen attempt is important because it shows the copies cannot be destroyed physically by, say, drinking liquid oxygen or cutting oneself with a knife. Her cheek and throat burns heal before our eyes and she's fine. So what changes at the end? Her death in the whatever ray causes the planet to react, to come to the station literally. Clooney is about to escape to Earth (where it rains all the freakin time apparently) when he has more memories.

If the dead wife copies are only a physical manifestation of Clooney's memories, then his memories and her memories would necessarily be congruent, that is she could only have his (he could have more than hers). They are congruent in a way. She says he found her after her death (unless that's just a deduction, something she could not know) but she does not remember the cut on his finger (which he says he did after she died) and she says there are no photos in their apartment, even on the refrigerator (but Clooney either has or remembers that there is a photo of her on the fridge). So I think that Clooney realizes that the copy is not mere copy but real in every sense and he aborts his escape, stays on the station and probably dies as it is swallowed up by the expanding planet.

So what's his voice over scenes back on Earth? Now he is the copy (somewhere but perhaps not anywhere physical) and as soon as he realizes he is a copy, when his cut finger heals instantaneously, he is reunited with copy wife and death will have no dominion... The benign god-like planet acts like the 'human' concept of God and forgives the two and they dwell in love forever.

But has Clooney always been a copy? The 'dream' he has of his friend who calls him to the station but commits suicide before he gets there (actually kind of a rough life Clooney has--everyone he likes offs him or herself) is key to this question. The friend calls him a puppet who thinks he is a man. He has the cut on his finger when this wife copy first gets there on the station but we see the finger after he has cut it before us and there is no scar. It gets impenetrable there, I think, and I like that in a movie, like the central mystery in Picnic at Hanging Rock impenetrable but not frustrating. Kind of like the human concept of God or how practically we would have to react to a truly alien, truly superior life form. You can see how it all hangs together better. Still slow, but much more satisfying.

I'm glad I gave it a second go.


Something About a River in Egypt

I hate to give the Jihadists ideas (and I won't) but Hugh Hewitt has already talked about this--a single Jihadist with 500 strike anywhere matches could damage for decades the economy of the western part of this great country during a dry summer. Our hateful enemies don't have to have grandiose plans to damage and kill us. Home-grown Jihadists and recent emigres have been taking on individual acts of terrorism:

Shooting spree at El Al counter at LAX by 41-year-old Hesham Mohamed Hadayet in 2002;

Shooting spree in and around DC by John Muhammad and Lee Malvo in 2002;

Singularly unsuccessful suicide bomber at OU game in 2004 by Joel Henry Hinrichs III, 21, believed to be converting to Islam;

SUV as WMD at UNC (Chapel Hill) by Mohammed Reva Taheriazar in March, 2006;

Shooting spree in Seattle Jewish Community Center last month by Naveed Afzal Haq, 30; and yesterday,

SUV as WMD on the streets of San Francisco (and across the bay) by Omeed Aziz Popal from Afghanistan.

This last one is being denied an act of terror by Mayor Gavin Newsom and the SFPD chief (despite the fact that witnesses at the scene said he immediately identified himself as a terrorist) and he drove to a Jewish neighborhood to run down most of his victims.

There is none so blind as he who will not see.

All of these were by Muslim men (with one exception in Oklahoma) against innocent Americans yet all together they have received less coverage together than one day of Boulder DA Mary Lacy's making legitimate for a while the pathetic ravings of Mr. Karr.

Time indeed to wake up, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday. Money quote:

I recount that history [about appeasement in the 1930s] because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. Today -- another enemy, a different kind of enemy -- has made clear its intentions with attacks in places like New York and Washington, D.C., Bali, London, Madrid, Moscow and so many other places. But some seem not to have learned history's lessons.

We need to consider the following questions, I would submit:

With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?

Can folks really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?

Can we afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply law enforcement problems, like robbing a bank or stealing a car; rather than threats of a fundamentally different nature requiring fundamentally different approaches?

And can we really afford to return to the destructive view that America, not the enemy, but America, is the source of the world's troubles?

These are central questions of our time, and we must face them and face them honestly.

We hear every day of new plans, new efforts to murder Americans and other free people. Indeed, the plot that was discovered in London that would have killed hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of innocent men, women and children on aircraft flying from London to the United States should remind us that this enemy is serious, lethal, and relentless.

But this is still not well recognized or fully understood. It seems that in some quarters there's more of a focus on dividing our country than acting with unity against the gathering threats.
It's a strange time:

When a database search of America's leading newspapers turns up literally 10 times as many mentions of one of the soldiers who has been punished for misconduct -- 10 times more -- than the mentions of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror;

Or when a senior editor at Newsweek disparagingly refers to the brave volunteers in our armed forces -- the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard -- as a "mercenary army;"

When the former head of CNN accuses the American military of deliberately targeting journalists; and the once CNN Baghdad bureau chief finally admits that as bureau chief in Baghdad, he concealed reports of Saddam Hussein's crimes when he was in charge there so that CNN could keep on reporting selective news;

And it's a time when Amnesty International refers to the military facility at Guantanamo Bay -- which holds terrorists who have vowed to kill Americans and which is arguably the best run and most scrutinized detention facility in the history of warfare -- "the gulag of our times." It's inexcusable. (Applause.)

Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of myths and distortions that are being told about our troops and about our country. America is not what's wrong with the world. (Applause.)

The struggle we are in -- the consequences are too severe -- the struggle too important to have the luxury of returning to that old mentality of "Blame America First."

One of the most important things the American Legion has done is not only to serve and assist and advocate, as you have done so superbly for so much of the past century, but also to educate and to speak the truth about our country and about the men and women in the military.

Not so long ago, an exhibit -- Enola Gay at the Smithsonian during the 1990s -- seemed to try to rewrite the history of World War II by portraying the United States as somewhat of an aggressor. Fortunately, the American Legion was there to lead the effort to set the record straight. (Applause.)

Your watchdog role is particularly important today in a war that is to a great extent fought in the media on a global stage, a role to not allow the distortions and myths be repeated without challenge so that at the least the second or third draft of history will be more accurate than the first quick allegations we see.

You know from experience personally that in every war there have been mistakes, setbacks, and casualties. War is, as Clemenceau said, "a series of catastrophes that result in victory." And in every army, there are occasional bad actors, the ones who dominate the headlines today, who don't live up to the standards of the oath and of our country. But you also know that they are a very, very small percentage of the literally hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women in all theaters in this struggle who are serving our country with humanity, with decency, with professionalism, and with courage in the face of continuous provocation. (Applause.)

And that is important in any long struggle or long war, where any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong, can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.


Eye Pleasing Propaganda

I have to admit that I like this better than the Passion of the Toys. The result is, regrettably, the same however--a good looking, undamaged object against the wreckage of Lebanon. You have to wonder about what they make those white lawn chairs of--the steel car is a wreck and the chair is fine. And wouldn't this woman be whipped in Iran, Saudia Arabia et al. for showing her arms, face and hair? Just asking.

(h/t Charles Johnson)


This Day in American History

On this day in 1862, the Second Battle of Manassas concluded in defeat and retreat of the federal Army of Virginia under General Pope to Centreville. Having turned back the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan on the Peninsula earlier in the year, Robert E. Lee sent Jackson to prevent Pope's army from linking up with McClellan's to become an overwhelming force-- 180,000 to the Confederates' 60,000. Jackson with 24,000 men attacked Pope's much more numerous forces and pinned them while Lee and Longstreet, with another 28,000 arrived unnoticed, turned Pope's flank and rolled up the Yankees and sent them home. Stiff rearguard action kept it from becoming a total rout like the first battle there a year before.

One can be proud of the fighting prowess of the Confederate soldiers, several of whom were my ancestors, without being a racist. I am proud of them, just as I'm glad they lost.


Thought of the Day

Nobody talks so constantly about God as those who insist that there is no God.

Heywood Broun

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Women's Voices

'Til human voices wake us and we drown.

Except for the naughty bits, and perhaps good looking, bare extremities, oh, and the face--that goes without saying--one of the best things about a woman is her voice. It's so much more complex and pleasing than a man's. We men even hear it in a different part of our brain. It's a great attribute, that is, of course, if the woman has a good voice. Here are some women who I believe have a good voice:

Kathleen Turner (she of the great neo-noir film Body Heat 25 years ago--one of the few films to have the plot turn on violation of the Rule against Perpetuities) has a great voice--rich, vibrant, sexy, just about the feminine ideal. Of course, if you've seen her lately on TV previews for Nip/ Tuck you know that the past 25 years have not been kind and a good voice is about all that's left of her sultry seductiveness. But a really outstanding voice.

Claudia Black has a good voice, especially when she's wearing tight black leather, but I don't know why that is. It doesn't hurt that she has an Aussie/Anglo accent.

Barbara Jefford had a great voice, but I'm going back a way for that one. She was Molly Bloom in the film of Ulysses, Hippolyta in the great BBC '68 version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the screen voice of the best Bond girl, Tatiania Romanova, in From Russia with Love.

Here are some women who do not, alas, have good voices:

Hillary Clinton--she sounds at times like a Magpie that learned to talk in a house with a couple who screamed at each other all the time.

Cindy Sheehan--Valley girl intonations way, way past time for that and a tone that's like grating chalk, the exact opposite of sexy, indeed a black hole for sexy.

Mary Lacy--I would rather listen to cats fight than hear another word from her, especially in tedious, lame explanation of her mistakes as Boulder's DA. If indeed her expert said he needed an official cop like DNA mouth swab of former suspect Karr, then she was poorly advised rather than just an idiot, but still takes the blame for believing it.

I will say this for Boulder DA Lacy, at least when the DNA doesn't match, she drops the charges; unlike the Durham DA, Mike Nifong, who, having promised that the DNA he took from all the white lacrosse players at Duke would identify the rapists, said, when the DNA came back negative for all the players, well, you don't need DNA when you have a 'victim' as strong as I have. But I see I've strayed from my original subject. Time for bed.


Short and to the Point Book Review

Finally finished the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, the great British Medieval History professor and Christian writer. I read The Last Battle which didn't have much of a battle and which ended Narnia without ending Narnia. Its ending stays with you, I hope for a long time.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 32 BC, John the Baptist is beheaded due to the enduring enmity of Herodias, or so we have conspired to believe. See Mark 6:21-28. Flavius Josephus puts the date at 36 and gives the name of the the daughter of Herodias, Salome.


Thought of the Day

Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error of judgment.

Philip K. Dick, a science fiction epistemological writer buried, next to his sister, near Sterling, Colorado.

Monday, August 28, 2006


John Kerry--Lose Me Two Times Babe

Although only the Kool Aid Drinkers of the Democrat party (which is a reference, for the benefit of the younger readers, to the cyanide laced purple FlaVor Aid the 900 followers of religious nut Jim Jones drank in British Guyana in 1978 to commit mass suicide on Jones' order--it's been switched to Kool Aid Drinkers, to mean the people who will accept any order of a political organization, because nobody had ever heard of FlaVor Aid)--getting back on track here...only the Kool Aid Drinkers could either swallow or stomach these complaints the first time-- and they got Kerry nothing but a reputation as a sore loser and a bigger jerk-- he's trotting them out again and accusing Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell of voter hanky panky (or actually some sort of voter legerdemain, since how the votes were switched, buried, lost, miscounted or the voters intimidated has never been clearly stated, much less supported with something approaching evidence).

You don't want to turn out like John Kerry (Michael Medved and his Yalie colleague, after a single meeting with then upperclassman John Kerry, used to say this to each other if one of them became arrogant or foolish-- See Right Turns). Indeed.


Rock Sellouts--Part IV

Here are some more bands, songs and advertisers who are picking the dead bones of long eclipsed talents or sucking the marrow out of newer lesser acts. This set took some effort.

Sam Adams Beer -- George Thorogood & the Destroyers Who Do You Love? Listen

Lee Jeans -- Stevie Wonder Sir Duke Listen

Coors Beer -- Fatboy Slim Right Here, Right Now Listen

Hallmark Cards -- Earth, Wind and Fire Singasong Listen

Qwest -- Beatles Got to Get You Into My Life

DirecTV -- Thunderclap Newman Something in the Air Listen

AT&T -- Oasis All Around the World Listen

Budweiser Select -- Chemical Brothers Galvanize Listen

Dite Coke (and DirecTV) -- BodyRockers I Like the Way Listen

HBO -- Zero 7 In the Waiting Line Listen

Saab -- Paul Oakenfold Ready, Steady, Go Listen

General Motors -- Everclear AM Radio Listen

American Express -- Minotaur Shock Museli Listen

Citibank -- Camper Van Beethoven Guradian Angels Listen

Hummer -- DMX Ruff Riders' Anthem Listen

I enjoy Quicksilver Messenger Service's version of Who Do You Love? and by a wide margain. The bravest advertiser is Hummer. How did they find a section for the commercial without the n-word or a curse word?


Night Time in the Switching Yard

Three Humvees filled with soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 506th Regimental Combat Team, 101st (No Longer) Airborne (merely Airmobile) Division conduct a night patrol in the Zafaraniya District of East Baghdad, Iraq, on Aug. 13, 2006.

Click on it for details, like the Ma Deuce gunner in the middle vehicle dancing like an Egyptian, the ghostly passenger in the lead vehicle flipping us off and the clusters of four smoke grenade launchers on the Hummers. Do they really need those things?

DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Keith W. DeVinney, U.S. Navy.



The pilot, Capt. Patrick Hook, is much younger than the plane he's flying, a B-52 Stratofortress up at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., on Aug 21, 2006. Hook is a pilot with the 23rd Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Wing.

I've always had a cautious admiration for the B-52 ever since one, about 100 yards off the deck, flew over me and my horse just when I was feeling my most late 19th century (as I had been riding old fences for the whole morning and hadn't see a 20th Century thing) until the jet bomber mock strafed me and almost caused the horse to go insane.

DoD photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung, U.S. Air Force.


The Eternal Plame

I have written about Valerie Plame from the first few weeks I started this blog and I have always thought it was, as James Taranto always said, a kerfuffle, much ado about nothing.

The left in this country were trying to sell the lie that the President or at least his political advisor Karl Rove, and probably the Vice President, destroyed the career of CIA secret operative Valerie Plame, the wife of ex-Ambassador Joe Wilson, as vengence for Joe Wilson's blowing the whistle on lies the President told about WMD in Iraq, by naming her and her job to columnist Bob Novak who published both.

EVERY WORD OF THE LEFT'S STORY WAS A LIE (except what Novak published).

Here's the truth from Mr. Taranto on his week-daily blog spot at the WSJ online:

Three years after the Valerie Plame kerfuffle began, it seems to be ending with a whimper--that whimper being "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War," by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. Corn is the writer for The Nation, a left-wing magazine (or possibly a right-wing parody of a left-wing magazine) who got the whole thing started by parroting Joe Wilson's claims that his wife's "outing" violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Isikoff is a reporter for Newsweek. Their collaboration raises the possibility of liberal bias in the mainstream media.

First of all, "Hubris"? This comes on the heels of Tom Ricks's "Fiasco." Then there were "Slander," "Treason" and "Godless." It seems everyone wants to be Ann Coulter these days.
But we digress--for which you can hardly blame us, as the Plame kerfuffle is such a tedious affair. Nonetheless, out of an obligation to history, we shall recount the revelations from the Isikoff-Corn book, which Isikoff outlines in a story in Newsweek:

The man who "leaked" Plame's identity and her involvement in her husband's Niger junket to columnist Bob Novak and other reporters was not Karl Rove, Scooter Libby or anyone else in the White House. It was Richard Armitage, then deputy secretary of state.

Armitage's motives were not malicious. He is "a well-known gossip who loves to dish and receive juicy tidbits about Washington characters" and "apparently hadn't thought through the possible implications of telling Novak about Plame's identity."

It was from a classified memo that Armitage learned Plame worked for the CIA. But there was no violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act; special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald "found no evidence that Armitage knew of Plame's covert CIA status." (By all available evidence, Plame's covert status had expired by the time of her "outing" anyway.)
In October 2003 Armitage confessed to his boss, Colin Powell, that he was the "leaker." The State Department decided to withhold this information from the White House, because "Powell and his aides feared the White House would then leak that Armitage had been Novak's source--possibly to embarrass State Department officials who had been unenthusiastic about Bush's Iraq policy."

David Corn weighs in on the Puffington Host in which he hilariously tries to downplay the extent to which these revelations discredit his initial enthusiasm for the purported scandal:
The Plame leak in Novak's column has long been cited by Bush administration critics as a deliberate act of payback, orchestrated to punish and/or discredit Joe Wilson after he charged that the Bush administration had misled the American public about the prewar intelligence. The Armitage news does not fit neatly into that framework.

To say the least! As we observed on
PBS 10 months ago, this was a "Seinfeld" scandal--an investigation about nothing.

Of course, much as this seemed like a sitcom, it had consequences in real life. Because Armitage did not come clean right away, many people suffered:

Millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted investigating a nonexistent crime.

Innocent White House officials were distracted from serving the country in order to participate in the investigation, which was in full swing a year ago when Hurricane Katrina struck.

Scooter Libby lost his job and was indicted for actions that never would have occurred but for the investigation.

The Democratic left, putting its faith in scandal to bring down the Bush administration, became even more fatuous and ineffective.

The only winner in this whole deal is Joe Wilson's ego--and think of the toll it's taken on his poor little superego.

Those who tried to turn the Plame kerfuffle into Watergate threw around words like "treason" and "slander" (though, interestingly, not "godless"). Armitage appears to be guilty of nothing of the sort. But it does seem that he was careless with secret information, eager to cover his own backside, and heedless of the consequences his actions had for others. So let it never be said that Richard Armitage is a profile in courage.


Obligatory JonBenet I Told You So

The news is alive with the sound of musings, a song they have sung for a thousand years.... Especially the national press is talking about the failure of the DNA of pencil-neck weirdo John Mark Karr to match the DNA recovered from the body and clothes of JonBenet Ramsey. The local press is so far silent especially in the face of this fiasco sub-headline just last week: Evidence is solid in Ramsey case, prosecutor claims. A self proclaimed expert not in the Boulder DAs office had this helpful information: The DNA evidence in the JonBenet Ramsey case is solid, and there's a strong possibility it points to the killer, a self-proclaimed neutral observer and expert on DNA analysis said Wednesday.

What a difference a few days make.

This turn of events effectively kills the case against Mr. Karr so that no charges will be filed against him vis a vis the little girl murdered. Couldn't they have done the testing while he was in Bangkok? I am fortunately on record as being skeptical from the git go.

Local radio personality Craig Silverman (another ex Denver DA) who apparently has a clause in his contract that he must cover JonBenet Ramsey whether there is any new information or not, has been speaking no ill this past week of the Boulder DAs office, saying again and again that it would be such a black eye regarding the basic competence of the DA Mary Lacy, that he just couldn't believe she would fly troubled Mr. Karr back, first class, based only on his uncorroborated (and somewhat difficult to swallow) confession. I kept asking what has Mary Lacy done in her entire career as a prosecutor that would cause anyone, including Craig, who is nobody's fool, to believe that Mary Lacy was competent in any way. I'm listening to Craig right now and he's calling Mary Lacy an idiot and a fool, and that's when he's being kind. No fury like an egoist burned.

I believe I heard a sigh of relief from Durham, North Carolina, because now Mike Nifong is no longer the biggest disgrace of a prosecutor in the country.

I remain in the Ramseys did it camp, and I have been there since I read the ransom note.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1963, over 200,000 people march through Washington in a civil rights demonstration led by Rv. Martin Luther King, who delivers the stirring "I Have a Dream" speech. Former NRA president Charlton Heston is on the front row.


Thought of the Day

Taxation with representation ain't so hot either.

Gerald Barzan

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Short TV Post

I missed the geek science fiction shows on Friday because I was drinking and laughing at Goldstein, but I hear that the series Stargate will not return to the SciFi channel next year. Just as well, it didn't really survive McGyver's departure and the replacement for Hammond is horrible. I was finally warming to Ben Browder (even though he was much funnier in FarScape) but I really like Claudia Black who has just been phenomenal (much better than her stint on FarScape). So there's that sadness.

Deadwood, my second favorite show on HBO, ended with a whimper, and it too won't be back (barring a miracle). So that was kinda disappointing. Clearly there's more to tell. I for one would like to know the details of the relationship between Sheriff and Mrs. Bullock. Oh well, I watch too much TV as it is.

This is slightly off the track but Jeff Goldstein did a few minutes at Hot Air. Everyone in Denver ought to see it. Go here.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 55 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar lands in England at the white cliffs of Dover.


Thought of the Day

The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.

Milton Friedman

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Friday Movie Review ( late)

Went to see Little Miss Sunshine with the lovely Beata and liked it a lot with some reservations. First of all, the acting was terrific all around. Second, it was pretty funny. Third it made you feel good about your family in two ways (if you think your family is dysfunctional, the one in the movie--at first--is worse (so you feel better about yours) and at the end you realize one of the most important things in life is having your family support you, so you're ready to jump in when needed). Good message, well presented.

Now the reservations: It was too like an expanded, formulaic TV sitcom (the dying breed variety)--with the crusty, profane, hedonistic grandfather (Alan Arkin), the angst ridden alienated teenage son (no idea), the befuddled near failure of the father (Greg Kinnear being really good), the overwhelmed emotional core but still barely there mom (good looking version Toni Colette) and the pure young daughter for whom the others will literally do anything to aid and protect--like cops. The little girl here, Olive, is also near perfect, as she was in Signs where she was, well, the little girl. Also the plot has some holes in it which defy logic, but are inconsequential. It was written by Michael Arndt, about whom I know nothing. The directors seem to have done nothing before but lots of some sort of music video (do they still make those?) but they get an awful lot right here. Wait, this is supposed to be the reservations part. All the humor arises from pain (like every rose has a thorn or whatever).

The part I liked best was the faygele brother (another TV cliche) played by the ever increasingly impressive Steve Carell. Except for some dark moments in junior high, I have never seriously contemplated suicide and I could never understand people who even tried it not for real. Carell gives me a key hole with which to glimpse the soul of that despair. I wish there was some way that the writer or directors could have showed us whether he really was a good Proust scholar or not. I'm going to assume that he was. He loses his job and apartment and has to live in his silent nephew's room; he loses his pretty (boy) lover to his arch academic rival, who is good looking, drives a nice Jaguar, just won a Macarthur fellow 'genius' grant and has his new Proust book advertised on an entire page of the NYT. If the rival isn't as good a scholar as Carell, even happy go lucky I might despair under those circumstances.

At one point the 'vow of silence' teen Nietzsche fan (another TV cliche) writes a note to Carell, "Welcome to Hell," and at that moment in the messy, crowded, lower middle class ranch house in Albuquerque, it seems appropriate; but the real descent into Hell awaits at Redondo Beach--a beauty pageant for little girls, the Little Miss Sunshine of the title. Jesus, Mary and Joseph is that thing disgusting and the airbrushed, smiley, big haired, dwarf hooker looking little girls are enough to creep John Mark Karr out. They all look like their faces were inflated by bicycle pumps. Oh my God. And they look even worse next to Olive, who has been a pretty homely little girl most of the movie in the god awful mismatched colorful clothing girl gradeschoolers gravitate to and even wear; but with less makeup and more inner warmth and true innocence, she is the prettiest little girl there. Unfortunately, she's no Rick James, bitch.

It is a sad commentary on the pitiful state of American movies that so far, this flawed little film might be the best movie of the year. My kids loved it. I liked it a lot. Oh yea, some of the movie's music was by the weird group DeVotchKa, who opened for Chris Isaak. Even though I had a warning in advance that their music was in the film, I didn't recognize a thing. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes movie music shouldn't actually be recognizable or otherwise stand out.


This Day in the Dark Ages

On this day in 846 AD, Saracens plunder the Basilica of St. Peters in Rome. So if the Muslims are still angry about the Cursades taking and losing Jerusalem, they started it. Critics of the then current Pope, Sergius II, complain that he had advance warning of the raid and failed to take action so to inflame the Christians with hatred of the Muslims. That sounds vaguely familiar. They do so in a manuscript titled Laxus Permutandus.


Thought of the Day

No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the sources of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed, and love of power.

P. J. O'Rourke


Blogger Bash

Went to the Blogger Bash at the former Minturn Saloon on Broadway. I was there first (after work) but by 7 there was most of the usual crowd there. Still heavy on libertarian gun guys. Linda S from a real paper here in town was there but the elevator didn't work so she was exiled to the ground floor. Her thoughts on the difference between real journalism and what bloggers do were profound. It was fun to meet people whom I really didn't know but who read me from time to time. Looking at the site meter, there can't be but so many.

Jeff G actually was pretty sane although he's like a psycho jack-in-the-box/human karaoke when his handsome family leaves. He managed to piss of and obsess about the well stacked waitress at the same time. Steven G was absent and missed but it was somehow appropriate given the amount of blogging he's done lately. I played pool with the women and laughed a lot. Andy and David were gracious hosts (and David took a fiscal bu-fuing on the bill others had neglected to, well, pay, but he said it was less than last time--what a mensch). Rae, who flew in from SLC, and who really is a fascinating woman, was see-sawing between the ying of her normal heterosexuality and the yang of her nascent, well latent lesbianism (she draws the line at using her tongue in any way). She kept off the cold by using the handsome Colorado conservative as a blanket, a rather heavy blanket at that.

When I got there I asked if there was a Blogger Bash table or something and got the blankest of stares. Bloggers, it seems, get no points for their efforts from the normal folk. It also seems they have no fewer problems than society at large, and I guess the only thing that makes them different is that they are willing from time to time to publish their thoughts and experiences to strangers. Like now.

Friday, August 25, 2006


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 30 BC, (or on one very like it that year) Cleopatra VII, last of the Ptolemaic queens of Egypt (whose ancestors came from Macedonia which used to be part of Yugoslavia), commits suicide with an unknown poison. This is just four weeks after her beloved Marcus Antonius fell on his sword (compare the Shakespeare scene which has her doing it mere minutes after him).

Later in history the idea that she snuffed it with an asp becomes popular. What they back then called an asp is believed now to be the Egyptian Cobra (now called the Snouted Cobra-naja haje annulifera) which is the narrow, yellow fellow to the left--nearly ten times more poisonous than Indian Cobra and a real killer in the snake world.


Thought of the Day

Women should be obscene and not heard.

Groucho Marx

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Good News from Baghdad (For a Change)

The situation in Baghdad, which for a time seemed to be spiraling down into a Lebanese type civil war, now seems better. Attacks on and deaths of Iraqis by other Iraqis are down and the generals in charge say they are confident they can continue to suppress Iraqi internecine tendencies into the future. OK!

Money quote from the AP story:

U.S. authorities claim a joint American and Iraqi operation that began in early August has improved security. The U.S. military has said the operation, for which 12,000 troops were redeployed to Baghdad, aims to curb mostly sectarian warfare.

"I believe there is a danger of civil war in Iraq, but only a danger," Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, said after meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. "I think Iraq's far from it. I think that there's been great progress in the security front here recently in Baghdad."

Abizaid said he and Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, were "very optimistic that the situation will stabilize."

Casey also said the security operation was working.

"I think everybody has seen an improvement in the situation in Baghdad over the last weeks because of the operations of the Iraqi security forces supported by the American Army," he said. "And we're confident that we can sustain that."

Reuters has much the same:

Abizaid, who met General John Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said comments he made earlier this month before the U.S. Senate in which he said the sectarian violence in Iraq was the worst he had seen had been misrepresented.

"I never said that Iraq was one foot from civil war. It is amazing how you say things sometimes and they get reported differently. I believe there is danger of civil war in Iraq, but only a danger. I think Iraq is far from it."

U.S. commanders have said the clampdown -- which has put an additional 12,000 U.S. and Iraqi forces on the city's streets -- has produced a sharp decline in violence in some deadly Sunni and Shi'ite neighborhoods.


Ann Coulter-- Pretty, Witty and Wise

Coulter's column today, available at Townhall, is great and deep in it has a line that made me snort my coffee through my nose. Republicans and independents should do themselves a favor and read it. Democrats can take a pass unless they want to learn something basic about themselves.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn (who will guest host Rush Limbaugh's show today) has a good review of Coulter's new book Godless here. He did not talk about the evolution chapters. Apparently no one will. (I will, but I need my book back from Cort first).


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 79 AD, Vesuvius erupts and a pyroclastic cloud descends on Pompeii, Strabia, Herculaneum and hundreds of individual villas scattered over the Compania between the volcano and the Bay of Naples. Everyone within the flow is killed by an 400 degree rock, ash and gas cloud traveling at hundreds of miles per hour. The buried towns wait for nearly 1700 hundred years to be released from the burying ash and tephrite.

The flow that buried the Roman towns is called a base surge and it is created when the initial eruption heats the air insufficiently to carry the cloud clear away on convection currents. The towering plume falls back to earth and down the sides of the volcano. Above is a 1986 photo of a base surge down the side of a volcano in the Philippine Islands. To the right is Karl Briullov's 1830s painting The Last Day of Pompeii with lots of Roman histrionics but nary a hurtling pumice stone to be seen.


Thought of the Day

There is only one way to kill capitalism – by taxes, taxes, and more taxes.

Karl Marx

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Questions for the Left

How many hurricanes have there been this year? (The answer is none).

If it is beyond dispute that the average temperature of the Earth's surface is going up, and, according to Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth, that the warmer water of the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will be like adding dynamite to the Hurricanes that spawn and travel there, why haven't there been any hurricanes this season?

The recent increase in hurricanes, another component of man-made global warming according to Gore's film, also suggests a cyclical pattern. For if one looks at any given 50-year hurricane timeline, it becomes obvious that hurricane seasons ebb and flow. The period between 1900 and 1950, for instance, saw the most intense hurricanes in U.S. history. Yet oddly enough, no one has chalked that up to man-made global warming. Not even Al Gore.

Last year there were plenty of named storms (27) and some big hurricanes, like Katrina, which approached southern Florida this time last year. The new storm over near Africa is Debby. D is the 4th letter; K is the 11th letter. All of the named storms have been so far merely tropical storms or depressions. The National Hurricane Center and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have had to lower the number of predicted named storms and hurricanes from what they had earlier this year.

Is it possible that there is not a one to one correspondence between having warmer water and the number of hurricanes there are in the season?

Is it possible that there is not a one to one correspondence between increased atmospheric CO2 and average global surface temperatures?

Just asking.


Ann Althouse Takes Judge Anna Diggs Taylor Apart

And she does it in the New York Times (which continues to send me free issues--pity really, because it is a well produced paper, but I'll never buy the traitorous rag). Professor Althouse notes the trade off Chief Justice Marshall created in Marbury v. Madison--we Justices will be the final word about the constitutionality of government action..but the judge so deciding must actually do some genuine legal analysis, including whether there is an actual controversy which concretely affected the plaintiff. Althouse thinks, rightly, that Taylor failed to do her job.

Money quote:

If the words of the written opinion reveal that the judge did not follow the discipline of the judicial process, what sense does it make to take the judge’s word about what the law means over the word of the president? If the judge’s own writing does not support a belief that the rule of law has substance and depth, that law is something apart from political will, the significance of saying the president has gone beyond the limits of the law evaporates.

There’s irony for you.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 410 AD, the end of the grandeur that was Rome. Alaric the Goth breaks the aqueducts on the Campanian side and the city is stormed and sacked. Other aqueducts are broken thereafter and the city becomes a ghost of its former self for centuries.


Thought of the Day

To tax the larger incomes at a higher percentage than the smaller, is to lay a tax on industry and economy; to impose a penalty on people for having worked harder and saved more than their neighbors.

John Stuart Mill

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Too Cool for the Prize (in a Geeky Sort of Way)

A Russian math genius, Grigory "Grisha" Perelman, has turned down a Fields medal - an award many consider the Nobel Prize of math. Perlman is sometimes described as "unconventional," but you have to admire a guy who can walk away from an award coveted by most of his peers, and who can solve the Poincare conjecture, first described over a hundred years ago.

Few who have turned down other big prizes--Sartre and Pasternak, the Nobel Prize for Literature, George C. Scott and Marlon Brando, the Academy Award--have seemed less cool after the snub, but you can go too far the other way as well. Witness:

Only one person has refused a Fields medal previously. The German mathematician Alexander Grothendieck declined his 1966 award in Moscow in protest against the Soviet Union's military intervention in Eastern Europe, though he later accepted it.

He subsequently became disillusioned with the upper echelons of the math world and is said to live as a hermit in Andorra.


Free Times

For the third day in a row, I have received a free New York Times with my usual paper. I can't think it is a good sign that they're giving away their paper for free. Maybe there's a method behind this apparent madness.


This Day in History

On this day in 1770, Captain James Cook, having landed at present day Cooktown at the mouth of the Endeavor River in Australia, claimed the whole continent for the British King, George III. The Dream Time officially ended.


Thought of the Day

People never believe in volcanoes until the lava actually overtakes them.

George Santayana


Rock Review

Went to Chautauqua with the lovely Pamela to see Susan Tedeschi who was very good. We had a good time. Tedeschi is a 36 year old blues singer and journeyman guitarist from Massachusetts, of all places, who sounds like a combination of Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin and has a voice that drips sex but with a lot of power. She is married to Derek Trucks, current guitarist with the Allman Brothers Band and nephew of longtime drummer with the band, Butch Trucks (interesting name).

She had a full band--bassist, drummer, tenor sax and keyboardist (who kept shoving in Happy Birthday in all his solos--whose birthday we never discovered, certainly not Tedeschi's). She handled lead and really gave it a go. Since I've been seeing some of the greatest guitarists ever recently, I was less impressed with the output than with the effort. She's nearly as good on regular lead guitar as Bonnie is on bottleneck. Whatever her ability on lead, the guitarist Gods certainly should be jealous of her rich, ripe voice. A minor quibble was that her microphone was not cranked up appropriately so that it was difficult to hear the words from time to time as she hid her talent under the straw.

I'm not sure about her choice of outfits. There's unpretentious and then there's what she wore--faded jeans and what looked like a homemade halter top (maybe). Nice shoes, though. She played a blonde Gibson Les Paul and changed it out with a gaudy Fender (Telecaster? Tough to tell from my seats). Sounded the same to me, anyway. The keyboardists had a Korg electric piano and a huge stretch in his right hand as well as a Hammond B-3 with the leslie on full, all the time. I thought he was in danger one time of throwing out one arm with the cross over between piano and organ. He straightened it out.

Highlights were from the new album and the album that got her noticed, Just Won't Burn from 1998. Nearly all of the songs had us restless and dancing in our seats, but there's no place to dance in the Music Hall. I really liked It Hurts So Bad (where she does her Janice Joplin impression), Evidence and Angel From Montgomery (even though it morphed briefly into an insipid Grateful Dead song) and she did a Dylan song, Lord Protect My Child, proud. All in all a good night and I'd see her again, especially if her sweet voice boomed out.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Appropriate Smackdown

Andrew McCarthy over at NRO has a harsh but fair analysis of the opinion of federal district Judge Anna Diggs Taylor regarding the NSA terrorist interception program. Like him, I believe she got it wrong from finding standing on.

Money quote:

After all, who knew that lurking in the penumbras, unnoticed lo these two centuries, has been a First Amendment right to communicate privately overseas, in wartime, with enemy operatives plotting to murder Americans?

To arrive at this novel (ahem) discovery, Judge Taylor simply needed to blow past the long-settled law of standing-to-sue, as well as about 150 years of precedent — reaffirmed by the Supreme Court only a year ago — which holds that lawsuits may not go forward if they run an undue risk of impairing the national defense by publicly revealing our intelligence gathering capabilities.

For a moment, though, let’s leave aside standing. And state secrets. And the bizarre construction of free speech principles. And even Judge Taylor’s preposterous assertion that the Fourth Amendment “requires prior warrants for any reasonable search, based on probable cause” (compare, for example, here, for some of the zillion or so types of searches for which judicial probable-cause warrants are not required). What is truly galling here is Judge Taylor’s stern lecture about “separation of powers,” over which President Bush is portrayed as having run roughshod.

In the real system of separated powers devised by the Framers, the courts of the United States had no role — none — in defending this nation from foreign threats. That was to be the job of the president and the Congress, which is to say, the officials actually accountable to the citizens whose lives were at stake.

(Emphasis added). Read it all.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1831, Nathaniel 'Nat' Turner began the largest slave rebellion in America, in Southhampton county Virginia (this may be the only thing of note that ever happened in that county in southeast Virginia). Turner's group of about 50 slaves and black freedmen went from house to house, freeing the slaves and hacking or beating to death every white in the household including children (they didn't want to alert the populace by using firearms). The insurrection was put down within 48 hours, and more than 50 whites had been slaughtered, but Turner avoided capture in the dismal swamps thereabouts until October. He was tried and executed the following month.

The long term effect of the rebellion was disastrous for the slave population in America, indeed for all America. Virginia soon thereafter voted on a proposal to abolish slavery in the state and the slaves were not freed by a close vote no doubt influenced by the savagery of Turner's murderous slave rebellion. Imagine how short the Civil War would have been had Virginia not seceded from the Union because it was a free state. Bad move, Nat.


Thought of the Day

The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now.

South Carolina v. United States, 199 U.S. 437, 448 (1905) (Justice David Brewer)

Friday, August 18, 2006


Light Posting Excuse

I'm going with my hunting buddies to 'scout' the area in which we drew our cow elk tags for late this year (and I guess shoot guns and then drink beer). I don't really think this is necessary, but it's a chance to see some of the good part of Colorado, the San Juan Mountains west and south of the San Louis valley, just north of New Mexico. Take it away, Diomedes.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1774, Meriwether Lewis was born in Albemarle County, Virginia (near Charlottesville). He is half of the explorer team of Lewis and Clark. He probably suffered from major depression most of his life and died of (probably) self inflicted gunshot wounds to his head and chest on Oct 11, 1809 in a tavern on the Natchez Trace called Grinder's Stand about 70 miles from Nashville, Tennessee.


Thought of the Day

Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.


A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Obligatory JonBenet Posting

Because I was a prosecutor, a long time ago, and I live in Denver just 20 miles down the road from Boulder, I have to post about the recent 'arrest' in the near decade old JonBenet Ramsey murder case. OK, here we go then.

The inestimable District Attorney for Boulder, Mary Lacy says we have to presume innocence for the suspect John Mark Karr. You bet we do. Here is part of what he said:

Karr also said he picked JonBenet up at school and took her back to her home.

But the murder occurred on Christmas. There was no school.

He said the death "was an accident."

JonBenet Ramsey had a near foot long skull fracture and had been garrotted by a cord tightened by a thick artists paintbrush handle. Not really circumstances supporting an accidental death.

There are more problems associated with his so called confession.

If this guy can print just like the War and Peace length hand written ransom note (written on a pad that was at the house with a sharpie also already at the house) then I'll begin to believe this is the guy.

And of course if his DNA matches the material found under JonBenet Ramsey's fingernails or the "fluid" found in her under pants, then my presumption of innocence will be gone.

It would also be nice if they could show he was in Boulder on that day.


The Black Cloud of Defeat with no Silver Linings

Ralph Peters is clear eyed about the recent defeat of the IDF in southern Lebanon. It's worse than you think. Money quote:

And that ain't all, folks. If you're an Israel supporter - as I proudly admit to being - get ready for some tough love: Not only did Israel's abysmally incompetent government start a war impulsively and prosecute it half-heartedly, the country's military leadership failed, too. Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, who was going to destroy Hezbollah from the skies, reportedly put his main effort on the eve of war into selling off his stock holdings before his bombs could weigh down the market. Now that's insider trading!

But that was just one jerk-general dishonoring his uniform. The serious news is that the IDF's reserve forces were a shambles when they mobilized. Information from an inside source reveals that, when the reserves' warehouses and depots were opened, key stocks were missing - stolen.

What was gone? Fuel, weapons, ammunition, food, spare parts - all that a modern military needs to go to war. And I doubt it ended up in Iceland.

The IDF has great combat leaders and brave soldiers. But Hezbollah's boys proved tougher - and we can't pretty it up. The terrorists were willing - even eager - to die for their cause. Israeli leaders dreaded friendly casualties. And IDF troops - except in elite units - lacked the will to close with the enemy and defeat him at close quarters.

Israel tried to fight humanely. Hezbollah was out to win at any cost. The result was inevitable.

On the ground in southern Lebanon, the IDF was able to muster a ten-to-one advantage around contested villages. But its leaders lacked the guts to do what needed to be done. And Hezbollah's frontline fighters survived.

You can't win if you won't fight.


This Day in History

On this day in 1815, Napolean arrives at the island St. Helena, in the South Atlantic north northwest from present day Namibia, for an exlie (unlike the exile to Elba) which will last until his death in 1821.


Thought of the Day

You've got to learn to survive a defeat. That's when you develop character.

Richard Nixon

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


This Day in History

On this day in 1906 (just a few months after the Great San Francisco Earthquake) Valpariso, Chile is hit by a big earthquake on that part of the Pacific coast. Valparaiso was no stranger to disaster--the Dutch destroyed it in 1600, the Spanish in 1866, and the Chilean civil war in 1891; and there were earlier earthquakes in 1731, 1822, 1839, and 1873, This one struck after a night of unusually violent thunderstorms. It destroyed two thirds of the city, the coastline was raised three feet, and 1,500 died (compared to the 600 some who died in San Francisco).

(h/t Those Were the Days)


Thought of the Day

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.

Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Using Civilization Against Itself

Laura Ingraham's buddy at the The Dartmouth Review, and an excellent thinker and writer, Dinesh D'Souza, tells this story in one of his many good books:

One of his teachers used to say that if Mohandas Ghandi had tried his civil disobedience campaign against the Germans rather than the English, he would be a lamp shade today. What the teacher meant was that the British had a sense of toleration and fair play that kept them from doing very awful things against the Indians trying to drive them out. Indeed, the key to Ghandi's success was the decency of the British and their forbearance about killing the non-violent lawbreaker/protestors.

In the same way, the Islamic fascists are relying on our basic goodness and forbearance to be able to do such damage to us and us do nothing, usually, back.

Caligula said of the Germans: Oderint, dum metuant--'Let them hate, so long as they fear', and I think it's a basic truth about barbarians like the current terrorists. Yes, I know Caligula was a bad guy. Even bad guys can see the truth now and again.

I'm definately not in the Nuke Mecca crowd. That would be a stupid thing to do. But I am for taking the gloves off.

I had a list of things we could do to make the Jihadists fear us, but I don't think it's time to bring up details yet. I seem to be hearing a hardening of hearts in the clear thinkers among us. It's a necessary thing in these trying times.


More Wisdom from Dr. Dean

The good doctor answer to David Gregory's question on last Sunday's Meet the Press below reproduced with my comments in color (with links to the support for some of my statements):

MR. GREGORY: You talk about defending America. What is the Democratic Party's prescription for fighting and winning the war on terror?

MR. DEAN: Well, first of all, if you want to fight and win on the war on terror, the fact is Iraq is a distraction. (Not according to the people involved, including the Jihadists-- Bin Laden said "This Third World War is raging" in Iraq. "The whole world is watching this war." He says it will end in "victory and glory, or misery and humiliation" Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki said basically the same thing before a joint session of Congress in July)

Iraq never had anything to do with the war on terror (as lefty writer Christopher Hitchens has pointed out Iraq was the retirement home for old terrorists including Abdul Rahman Yasin and Abu Nidal, as well as the shelter for the late Mr. Zarqawi ; Steven Hayes has a whole book about the connection)

and that's just a fact (Democrat talking point)

and that;s what the 9/11 Commission said (not even close--the Commission did find evidence of co-operation between al Qaeda and Saddam, they just didn't find a day to day co-ordination of operations. Since the 9/11 report came out, there have been many documents from Iraq declassified which show a great deal of co-operation between the two. And the Czech counterintelligence service stands by its report that Mohammad Atta met with a former head of Iraqi Intelligence (Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani) in Prague a few months before 9/11).

So it's not enough to listen to the right-wing folks that claim that we're fighting the terrorists off the shore so they don't come on the shore. That is hooey. (How can it be hooey that preoccupying the terrorists with basic survival, in the face of attacks from American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, might keep them from planning and carrying out another attack on us over here? A forward, layered defense is a basic miltenanttenent, as is the maxim the best defense is a good offense).

The people who fought the terrorism best in the last couple of weeks have been the British, who uncovered this plot. (Yes. Well done Brits).

We need to upgrade our airport security (Do we really? No one will be able to use a hijacked plane as a weapon again because the passengers will beat them to death and the liquid explosive route seems much more difficult now. Isn't this closing the barn door after the horse has escaped?)

and we've tried to do that in the Democratic Party, (really? When? Name the bill)

and our additions to the budget in Homeland Security have been turned down by the Republican majority (really? When? Name the bill)

We need a real tough fight on terror, (agreed)

but we need to be tough and smart (you mean like John Kerry smart? No thanks),

not just talk tough. (When have the Democrats, other than Joe Lieberman, ever talked tough about the Jihadists, much less been tough about defeating the Islamic fascists?)

It's not as bad as the scream, but the mixture of false statements with wrong headedness from the head of the Democrats' National Committee is simply breathtaking.


Lieberman Makes Sense; Campos Doesn't

After a couple of weeks of inoffensive, albeit somewhat pedestrian, columns, the local Mad Munchkin, law professor Paul Campos has returned to form with a completely incoherent case of the vapors over plain talk from the last of his kind, pro defense Democrat Joe Lieberman. Behold Lieberman's offending quote:

"I'm worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don't appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us - more evil, or as evil, as Nazism, and probably more dangerous than the Soviet communists we fought during the long Cold War."

Paul Campos can't believe anyone would be so stupid as to say that. He writes:

That a statement like this is treated as a reasonable observation rather than denounced as transparently hysterical nonsense indicates the extent to which hysterical nonsense now passes for clear-eyed statesmanship. And that should be far more frightening to Americans than any terrorist threat.

The Nazis were really bad, as Professor Campos points out: The Nazis managed to murder perhaps 10 million people, while starting a war that killed at least 40 million others.

Yeah, by 1945 they did that, but in the mid 30s, their murder victims numbered in the few hundreds, rising each year. In the current countdown to a third hot world war in a 100 years, Hezbollah and al Qaeda are actually ahead of the Nazis.

Campos has more semi-reasoned argument that Lieberman is wrong: At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union's explicit goal was to establish a global communist dictatorship. In the pursuit of this goal, the Soviets built an army of 6 million men, equipped with, among many other things, 10,000 nuclear weapons, which in a matter of minutes could have wiped the United States off the face of the Earth, while killing perhaps 150 million Americans.

Yes, but the Soviets were not suicidal fanatics and could be deterred from too blatant adventurism or a direct attack on the United States because of our military might and the MAD doctrine. Does anyone think that our several thousand nuclear weapons deters al Qaeda for a second? Didn't seem to scare them much 5 years ago.

But there's more: More Americans drown in bathtubs every year than are killed by terrorists...

Clearly Campos is in the camp (with Michael Moore) that doesn't believe there is a terrorist threat, and whatever threat it composes is somehow less a threat than fellow Democrat Senator Lieberman' supposedly wild eyed, cowardly wolf crying.

It was Lieberman's point that many Democrats don't see the true danger of Islamic fascism; Paul Campos could not have proved Lieberman's fears any better had he actually tried.


Winners and Losers in Lebanon

Some very smart people, like Ed Morrissey, not to mention the President, are declaring victory in the recent hot war in southern Lebanon. Others, like Krystol, Krauthammer and the editors of the Chicago Tribune, say what I believe, Israel lost.

I haven't heard anyone say this, but clearly the Palestinians lost too. Israel was perfectly willing to leave Gaza (they did leave Gaza) and the West Bank and live peacefully behind a fence, but the Palestinians, like Hezbollah up north, can't stand that and either buy rockets from Iran or make their own and shoot them over the fence at Israelis in order to kill them and destroy their property.

So don't expect Israel to pull out of the West Bank any time soon and aimed missiles and shells will be coming back into Gaza for a long time to come. I think we can expect a change of Israeli government to a much more aggressive sort of war fighter, which is bad news for Hamas and Hezbollah.

Thank God the Muslim extremists are fine with screwing fellow Muslims, otherwise they might be gaining real ground.


Moving to Montana Soon, Going to be a Mastadon Tycoon

They invite all the seniors who have played sports at my college to a dinner. The alumni boosters ask you ahead of time to put down your intended occupation and then match you with a local booster in that field. I put down 'Mastadon rancher' but my girlfriend made me cross it out and substitute 'writer' (so I was seated next to a postman--see the connection?). Somehow, I was at the table with Joe Paterno, the speaker. That was fun.

I see that I should have stayed with my first answer.

Bodies of extinct Ice Age mammals, such as woolly mammoths, that have been frozen in permafrost for thousands of years may contain viable sperm that could be used to bring them back from the dead, scientists said yesterday.

My idea was to clone them but it's still the same plan.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 29 AD, Octavian, the adopted son of Gaisu Julius Caesar (and real son of the harpy Atia) celebrates a triple triumph in Rome for his victories in Dalmatia, Actium and Egypt (the latter two were over Anthony and Cleopatra). He will soon become Emperor and change his name to Augustus. See Luke 2:1.


Thought of the Day

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C. S. Lewis

Monday, August 14, 2006


Howard Dean on Meet the Press

Here's Dean and my comments in color:

...there's plenty of room for differing points of view on how to defend America. (Not really, there may be slightly different methods but the key is to learn about the enemies plans and then disrupt them. The Democrats have tried hard to hamstring the first and have done some serious Monday morning quarterbacking on the second).

The problem is, the President has failed to defend America. (Really? Has there been a second attack? Oh, I see; he has a list).

Since he has been in office, the number of nuclear weapons in North Korea has quadrupled, (This is George Bush's fault? Wasn't it Jimmy Carter's/Madeline Allbright's peace in our time deal that allowed the North Koreans to go nuclear in the first place? Why, yes it was. And Dean is complaining they have four bombs now? The nerve).

Iran has moved closer to nuclear weapons, (But aren't there yet (we hope) and we still have time to bomb Tehran with bunker buster nukes --oh, that's right, we don't have those because the Democrats in their zeal to defend the country wouldn't allow us todevelope them).

Osama bin Laden has set up shop in Pakistan five years after the fact. (In what way has he set up shop? What has he done to conduct a war against us since escaping by the skin of his teeth from Tora Bora? The Democrats used to be all for containment--he's contained).

I think one of the 9/11 chairs just said it very well: If your top priority isn't defending the American homeland, then you're not doing your job. (And we all know that the last two Democrat presidents, Carter and Clinton, moved heaven and earth to stop the spread of islamic fascism (major sarcasm alert)--Carter allowed it to start by betraying the Shah and Clinton did f--- all to stop the al Qaeda metastasizing all over the place).


Plotting an End to the Last Year of Confusion

Those with enough knowledge of Latin to be dangerous know that several of our months after the hot summer are numbered in order 7th to 10th--September to December. But those months are, on our calendars, actually the 9th to the 12th months. WTF? Here is the explanation. On this day in 46 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar, who learned about accurate calendar making in Egypt (when he wasn't shtupping Cleopatra) reformed the calendar by adding 4 months to make up for lost time from the former, inaccurate calendar system. The year 45 BC would be 445 days long and the new year would start then and thereafter on January 1, rather than on the traditional March 1.

So if March was the first month of the Roman year, then, assuming all the other months stayed the same, September was indeed the 7th month, etc. Aha!

The Julian Calendar lasted in Europe until 1582 when the next reform came, as explained here. We Americans, still British subjects, didn't adopt the new calendar until 1752, when England finally did.


Thought of the Day

If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.

Thomas Paine

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Stopping to Admire the View

It's been a rough several weeks for most everyone. Here are some pictures of natural beauty to cleanse the retina.

A heron. A blue one. What is causing the bumps in the S-curve of the neck? Has it swallowed a tinkertoy?
View from my parent's front yard, July 4, 2006.

Alex came home from New York and rescued my digital photos from the camera, regarding which I lacked the knowledge (and a working cable) to transfer them.


Sunday Talking Head Shows

Russ Feingold on This Week said that our finishing the Gulf War by invading Iraq was a mistake because al Qaeda attacked us, not Saddam Hussein. True, but in WWII Japan attacked us and yet we gave priority to attacking, invading and conquering Nazi Germany. We beat the Germans before the Japanese. Clear thinking Democrats 60 years ago saw that, despite a lack of formal alignment, Nazi Germany (Fascist Italy) and Imperial Japan comprised the enemy and we had to defeat them all decisively by killing millions of them. There was no mention (I can find) of the popular modern silliness, that killing Nazis would only create more Nazis, and of course it didn't. Killing Nazis ended Nazism (at least in Germany); the sympathetic followers of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem apparently didn't get the memo.

Kristol and Krauthammer say Israel lost this round and Olmert is finished. I agree. Will Netanyahu do better? I don't know, but it would be difficult to do worse. I still endorse the 'mulligan' idea: Cease fire, reload, then, under new management, take a second shot at Hezbollah.

Is it possible to get a conservative woman on the Fox Sunday panel? Elizabeth Shogren from NPR is pretty but weak in her analysis. Bring back Moira; she at least was occasionally right.

Chris Matthews' little watched short show is at least asking the right questions but neither he nor his panel (3-1 lefty) appear to have any clear insight or answers. What matter will it make that Lamont took the primary if independent Joe Lieberman wins the November election? Lamont didn't embarrass himself completely on Fox, but it was tough to get a read on him as he was ducking the questions so furiously. Chrystia Freeland from the Financial Times, wicked widow's peak, is a lot like the paper she represents--pink, smart and erudite but a little stodgy and boring.


More 1930s Comparisons (With Predictions)

Mark Steyn has a good column today in which he points out that if 5 years ago one had predicted that there would be no carry on luggage or liquid other than baby formula allowed on British commercial airplanes, he or she would have been considered a kook. Sometimes, he silently points out, the future is truly unimaginable.

The Spanish Civil War, July 17, 1936 to April 1, 1939, is rightly considered a tune up fight for WWII. The deaths the Spanish Civil War caused are not clearly known--estimates vary between 300,000 and a million. Let's choose 500,000--many tens of thousands of which were executions of prisoners. The war that followed (with the same political line up), WWII, cost at least 50 million deaths, that is, it was 100 times worse.

3,000 Americans died on 9/11; 2,600 in Afghanistan and Iraq. Probably 34,000 Iraqis and Afghans have died, The Israeli/Hezbollah first big battles have killed less than 2,000. The butcher's bill for the past 5 years is a mere drop in the bloody bucket even compared to the little war in Spain.

We are now fighting with severe restrictions, as are the Israelis, and history will not be kind to our leadership for our and the Israeli's self-limitation. It will cost us all dearly in the end, an unimaginable cost just now.

I have to say that I can see within 10 years forced deportation of all Muslims from many European nations and the United States (similar to the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII but much more brutal). Strong candidates for cities joining the exclusive club of cities bombed by nuclear weapons include New York, Washington, Tel Aviv (I can't tell about Jerusalem), Damascus, Tehran, Riyadh, Islamabad and Pyongyang. That's not a wish list.

It's clear, however, that we are not serious about fighting and winning the war which has been waged against us by Islamic extremist for about 27 years now and 9/11 did not make us serious enough. It will take another bloody attack and until there is that attack we will not be winning this war.

(h/t Ralph Peters)


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 193 AD, Lucius Septimus Severus is proclaimed Emperor by his troops in Pannonia, (mainly the former Yugoslavia) and he begins an untimately successful campaign to end the civil war raging after Commodus and take Rome itself.


Thought of the Day

Peace has to be created, in order to be maintained. It is the product of Faith, Strength, Energy, Will, Sympathy, Justice, Imagination, and the triumph of principle. It will never be achieved by passivity and quietism.

Dorothy Thompson

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Star Trek's Evil Earth

Being secure in my coolness, such as it is, or resigned to me geekdom (take your pick), I have no problem with revealing that I watch Star Trek and have since I was a boy in 1966. In the original series, there was one episode (Mirror, Mirror) where Kirk and company somehow hooked up with a parallel universe where the United Federation of Planets (here) was the evil Empire of Earth, where their symbol was a picture of Earth with a dagger through (or behind) it. Evil Spock had a goatee. They did a two part episode (Through a Mirror, Darkly, pts. 1 & 2) on the recent "Enterprise" series with the same parallel Evil Earth (they even recreated the benign scene at the end of First Contact, where Dr. Zefram Cochrane meets the Vulcans and plays them Ooby Dooby (performed by Roy Orbison), but this time, in the alternate universe, Cochran pulls out a short shotgun and kills the Vulcan). The background images during the opening credits to the show were more martial and the soundtrack was too. Actually, it was all quite well done. It all ends in tears though.

But the rather bad TV science fiction got me thinking about American History in the 20th Century. We have been the good guys playing rock and roll rather than gunning down visitors, taking their ship and enslaving their entire population. We fight hard, when we or our friends are attacked, and we cause a lot of deaths but we don't conquer or enslave and we've held out a hand of kindness often, even to our former enemies. I'm beginning to think that it might become necessary in the near future for us to say no more mister nice guy. I don't think anyone in June, 1942, when the fourth Jap carrier went under at Midway, knew that the tide had turned and it was going to be non-stop victory after victory until the war ended. Likewise, I can't say that we've turned the corner the other way in the current war. But it sure doesn't feel like we're winning right now.

A Japanese sneak attack which killed just over 2,200 and nearly destroyed the Pacific fleet was sufficient to get us serious about fighting and winning that war. Apparently a sneak attack which killed 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania doesn't have the same power to full us with the terrible resolve it will take to fight a long, hard fight and win. But we see from recent events that the radical Islamicists will not stop, cannot be appeased, will not be talked out of their murderous ways; and will one day succeed in a terrible attack (probably a dirty bomb; maybe a nuclear weapon) which will finally do the trick and get even the Democrats serious about fighting and winning. Terrible innocent sacrifice to get there, but that's how the stars are lining up and I can't see any other way to victory right now. Of course, in 1985 I was pretty convinced we would nearly all die in a Soviet/American nuclear war, so I could be wrong.

I hope I am.

I'm thinking about growing a goatee, though.

Diomedes already has his.


Depressing, Wise Articles

Andrew McCarthy (not the Brat Pack actor) over at NRO has been on a roll for the past days writing well here and here about the major setbacks we are watching in our little war against radical Islamicists. Under the rubric it is better to know than to be happily ignorant, they should be read.

Money quotes:

We, of course, are neither joining Israel’s fight against Hezbollah nor registering that Hezbollah’s provocations, along with Hamas’s, are just the latest salvos in Iran’s war against us. Our top priority, instead, is to save Lebanon’s democracy. The administration — at least publicly — is advising Israel not to escalate the war while the “international community” works feverishly toward a “truce” according to which Israel would go back home (where Hezbollah has so far fired 3300 missiles) without having defeated the enemy, while Lebanon — the country that just told us it’s too weak to defend itself — would send 15,000 of its crack troops to police the border in conjunction with that great lover of Israel, the U.N.

You’ll no doubt be shocked to learn that Hezbollah thinks this is a dandy idea — the “best way” (you’d better be sitting down for this) to “preserve the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon.” If you don’t know whether to be more outraged by Hezbollah’s mendacity or by the fact that the international community cares what it thinks, you’re not alone.


If all that is not tragicomic enough, consider this: While we are throwing our arms around Lebanon, Lebanon is throwing its arms around Hezbollah. Between the sobs and sniffles that mark the oratorical style of this somewhat less than reassuring head-of-state, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora paused the other day to assert: “We are in a strong position [against Israel] and I thank the Sayyed for his efforts.”

“The Sayyed,” of course, is none other than Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s “secretary general” and the current darling of the Muslim world. (In a profile more glowing than any Republican could ever dream of, the New York Times has helpfully explained that the designation sayyid means Nasrallah “is a cleric who can trace his lineage back to the Prophet Muhammad” — making him just about the most distinguished America-hating, pathologically anti-Semitic mass-murderer of our time.) Heaping further praise on terrorists who hide among Lebanese civilians when they are not launching rockets at Israeli civilians, Siniora added, "I also thank all those who sacrifice their lives for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon."

To put it in Bush Doctrine parlance, presented with its “decision to make,” Lebanon has decided to “continue[] to harbor or support terrorism.” So, are we regarding it as a “hostile regime”? Heavens, no. After all, it’s a democracy.

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