Monday, June 30, 2008

 

This Day in the History of the Importance of Judicial Precedent

On this day in 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia's anti-sodomy law, ruling states could ban homosexual acts, even between consenting adults in their home; but this case, Bowers v. Hardwick, was 'overturned' by another ruling in 2003, Lawrence v. Texas. It is simply amazing how much the Constitution changed in that 17 years.

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Thought of the Day

Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

George Orwell

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

 

E.J. Dionne--Writing From Ignorance

E.J. Dione, being a good little lefty, doesn't like the idea of peaceful, law abiding citizens having handguns for self defense. That's understandable, it's almost a default position for him and his ilk; but he strays from the teleprompter and attempts to criticize the Heller decision, and Justice Scalia, its author, from a pit of abysmal ignorance and it's not a pretty site. My chief case in point starts with this paragraph from his op-ed piece:


But these pragmatic judgments underestimate how radical this decision is in light of the operating precedents of the past 69 years. The United States and its gun owners have done perfectly well since 1939, when an earlier Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment as implying a collective right to bear arms, but not an individual right. (Emphasis added).


It is not radical to see what the Second Amendment clearly states. It's radical to see in the Constitution rights that clearly don't exist, like to abortion and to gay marriage.

I have to admit that I don't actually know what Mr. Dionne means by "operating precedent." I'm going to assume it's the same as just plain old precedent. I note, however, that the 58 year old actual precedent from Eisentrager, which Justice Kennedy threw over, based on his mere whim, in Boumedienne, engendered no such outrage by E.J. The 69 year old case he is referring to is the Miller case, which did not hold in any way that the 2nd Amendment was not an individual right but a collective right (whatever that is--some sort of unique right not repeated anywhere else in the document). Mr. Dionne appears not to have read the decision but is dimly aware of the lack of such a holding when he says the Miller case implied such a non existent collective right. Precedent is never implied; it is rather clearly stated and it resolves the main issue before the court. That is, it is not obiter dicta.

So in the 'logic' of Mr. Dionne, that an editor of the Washington Post signs off on, the majority of the Supreme Court was "radical" for reading the Constitution as written, seeing a right plainly in there and not overturning a non precedential ruling in a case which did not address the same issue. No wonder he's outraged.

As to the statement that gun owners have done well since Miller was decided (the issue decided in that case was that the Supreme Court could not take judicial notice that a very short shotgun was a weapon useful to a member of the unorganized Militia), I have to point out that citizens of DC, Chicago, and parts of San Francisco have been deprived of their right to keep and bear arms for decades. Not doing so well in my book. But perhaps Mr. Dionne meant everyone else but those several million people. There's more.


In his intemperate dissent in the court's recent Guantanamo decision, Scalia said the defense of constitutional rights embodied in that ruling meant it "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed." That consideration apparently does not apply to a law whose precise purpose was to reduce the number of murders in the District of Columbia.


The defense of constitutional rights to which Mr. Dionne refers is to non citizens outside America. I can guarantee you the framers did not intend to Constitution to apply outside the United States to foreigners. So in EJWorld, applying constitutional rights to foreigners, our actual enemies, in foreign land--good, recognizing that citizens back here at home have an important right--bad. It may have been the "precise purpose" of the gun ban in D.C. but the actual effect was just the opposite.


The ban went into effect in early 1977, but since it started there is only one year (1985) when D.C.'s murder rate fell below what it was in 1976. But the murder rate also rose dramatically relative to other cities. In the 29 years we have data after the ban, D.C.'s murder rate ranked first or second among the largest 50 cities for 15 years. In another four years, it ranked fourth.


For instance, D.C.'s murder rate fell from 3.5 to 3 times more than Maryland and Virginia's during the five years before the handgun ban went into effect in 1977, but rose to 3.8 times more in the five years after it.


However, as Rush Limbaugh often points out, those on the left don't care about actual results of their actions, they are only to be judged on their benevolent intent, no matter what Hell results. Here was a precise example of that. The gun ban never prevented a single death in DC and only caused the law abiding to be the defenseless victims of the law defying armed criminals, as gun bans always do.

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Republican Heaven...With Guns

Went yesterday to the Independence Institute's ATF party at Kiowa Creek Shooting Center way the heck out on Quincy. Jon Caldera started this shindig about 6 years ago to smoke cigars, drink alcohol and shoot guns (not in that order) and it was a lot of fun. I still suck with a shotgun (38 out of 100). Because I was wearing my fathers UVA hat, beltway 'boy' Fred Barnes talked to me for a bit. I also got to talk to pretty brilliant Dave Kopel about what the DC gun ban case, Heller, will mean in the future. He was wearing on his vest more NRA patches than I though existed, but he didn't shoot. Must be a hand gun guy.


Fred Barnes gave a semi-extemporaneous speech which was full of good common sense and possible future scenarios. A businessman whose name I promptly forgot also had a good rousing speech about the enormous power to do things the private sector has. Indeed, he said, only the private sector gets things done. Sounds right at least recently.

Also want to mention my old friend Leslie Hanson, Assistant District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe County et al.) who took over Kaplis' seat against mutual friend Craig Silverman on Friday on the radio and did great, although she had the unenviable task of supporting our laws against mere marijuana possession. Did I say old there? Opps. Lelsie looks superficially like Jane Fonda wishes she still looked but Les actually has a functioning brain. Anyway, I hope someone looks into Leslie taking on the job permanently as I don't listen to the show much because I just don't like one note conservative samba, holier than thou, Kaplis smarming his way through the show. Craig's no day at the beach either but at least he tries to be sincere.

Les and I once tried a man whom the judge ordered bound and gagged in front of the jury. I'm not kidding. We 'bitched' him, or at least Leslie did; I had to get to a second trial and she did the habitual part on her own.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

 

Richard Thompson - Sunset Song

Went with Kit to the first (our first this Summer) concert in the lovely Botanic Gardens. It was Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson. I'm done with Wainwright. Not clever enough in my book. I'm beginning to like his son Rufus (dog's name) better anyway. Thompson blew him off the stage as well. I think Thompson has forgotten how to play more than loud mouth Loudon ever knew. His songs are better too. There is one, Sunset Song, that is just lovely--words, tune, guitar work. Nearly a perfect song. Highlight of the 2 and a half hour concert. See for youself.


 

This Day in the History of Americans Fighting for the Freedom of Others


On this day in 1950, President Truman ordered the U.S. Navy and Air Force into the Korean conflict following a call from the United Nations Security Council for member nations to help South Korea repel an invasion from the North. The first American ground forces to arrive were called Task Force Smith, which units barely slowed the advance of North Korean forces and, even reinforced, barely held the Pusan section until the end-around landing at Inchon, which cut off the North Koreans in the South, liberated Seoul, and routed the rest of the Godless Commies up almost to the Yalu. We should have nuked the Chi Com forces who entered the war in November and dared the Soviets to do anything about it. Alas, Truman was only for limited gains and that's what he got. The North Koreans got 6 decades of suffering and the Soviets and Chi Coms tried to advance their pernicious, anti human nature, never worked once, economic system to other places. Had we freed North Korea and shredded everyone coming to their aid, the Cold War might well have lasted a lot shorter period with fewer nations coming under Communism's decaying sway.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

 

Colorado Springs Girl Saves Herself with Sports Bra

Although Jessica Bruinsma screwed up in the German Alps near the old NAZI stronghold of Berchtesgaden by falling over a cliff onto a ledge, she certainly knew what was likely to 'flag' male rescuers' attention in that she ran up her white sports bra on a logging wire, which act ultimately led to her rescue. Hope that all is well with her. My question is this: It was reported that the bra size was 36DD, did that size lead to a more rapid rescue than, say, a 34A? Or was it just the idea of a braless lady in distress? Just askin'

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The Ring is Delivered to Mount Doom

The Supreme Court finally delivers a 5-4 decision which make sense with the publication of the very lengthy Heller case. More later. The headlines are:

Private right. Reasonable restrictions OK: a city wide ban is not reasonable.

Whew! There's a relief.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

 

Obama Throws Scarlett Johansson Under the Bus

It may well be true that he only answered one e-mail from her, but it apparently meant a lot to her; and I know he's happily married to unhappy Michelle, but there's no reason to disparage her or dismiss her enthusiasm or to distance him from her---oh and then there's this:



The man's just a fool.

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This Day in the History of Letting War Be Waged Against Us Unfought


On this day in 1996, either al Qaeda or Hezbollah Al-Hejaz operatives, probably the former, blew up a tanker truck, killing 19 U.S. military personnel at the Khobar Towers, in Saudi Arabia. The Clinton Administration did squat in response. Typical.

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Thought of the Day

saepe summa ingenia in occulto latent

Plautus

Often the greatest talents lie hidden out of sight.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

 

Al Qaeda is the Weak Horse in Iraq

Wonderful news about the effect of our rapidly approaching victory in Iraq, Money quote:


The impact of the Iraq mission on world security is also dramatic and counter to what is commonly heard in the media and academic elites. The Iraq conflict has drawn fanatical Islamists to fight nearer to home, and as a just-released Canadian institute’s study details, overall international terrorism fatalities — outside of the Iraq war — have plunged by 40 percent since 2001. The Simon Fraser University Human Security Brief records that, due to “the humiliating recent defeats experienced by Al Qaeda in Iraq,” popular support in the Islamic world for the perpetrators of 9/11 has fallen off precipitously. For example, in Pakistan (where al-Qaeda is arguably most deeply entrenched): “support for Osama bin Laden has dropped from 70 percent in August 2007 to 4 percent in January 2008.”

After going from success to success over the past three decades, from destroying a super power (the Soviet Union) in Afghanistan, to blowing up American embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole off Yemen, onto 9/11, and nearly pushing Iraq into civil war in 2006, the Islamic extremists have now failed dramatically. Their jihad to dominate the Islamic world and beyond has smashed against the twin rocks of a steadfast American will and the Iraqi people’s natural desire to live free of tyranny, whether from Saddam, al-Qaeda, or Iran. Nothing dissuades recruiting like catastrophic failure.

And the catastrophic failure of al Qaeda is nearly wholly the result of our forces' skill and sacrifice. This catastrophic failure of al Qaeda is also the reason President Bush's assessment by future historians will follow the rising curve of President Truman.

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This Day in the History of War Accelerating Technical Progress


On this day in 1915, young Oswald Boelcke, one of the earliest and best German fighter pilots of World War I, made the first operational flight of the Fokker Eindecker plane. This was just 11 and a half years after the first powered flight by the Wright brothers. Boelke had his first aerial duel win a few weeks later and died, at age 25, on October 28, 1916 after a collision with a fellow pilot named Böhme during a dogfight. He had 40 confirmed 'kills.'

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Thought of the Day

I simply cannot understand the passion that some people have for making themselves thoroughly uncomfortable and then boasting about it afterwards.

Patricia Moyes

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Monday, June 23, 2008

 

Why We Really Hate the New York Times

Here is a smorgasbord of the St. Vitus like conniption fits the NYT and most of its regular columnists had when they thought someone in the White House had told Robert Novak that lying Joe Wilson's wife worked as an analyst for the CIA. Many people knew she was CIA; she had retired from the field to raise the twins; she drove to work at Langley every workday morning in a freakin' minivan. Once the word was out, the CIA hierarchy took about 10 seconds to decide that she needed absolutely no protection as she never did anything that would make someone mad enough to want to harm her. She was safe as houses; which is why Richard Armitage, the gossip, (who did not work in the White House and would no more do their bidding than Gore Vidal would) never faced charges for revealing her identity and profession, which was a desk job at a failing bureaucracy in Virginia.

Compare that, any of the 3 million words falsely calling our President a traitor and worse, to the self righteous treacle the NYT is putting out for revealing the name of the person who interrogated, successfully, some of the bad Jihadis out there.


The Central Intelligence Agency asked The New York Times not to publish the name of Deuce Martinez, an interrogator who questioned Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other high-level Al Qaeda prisoners, saying that to identify Mr. Martinez would invade his privacy and put him at risk of retaliation from terrorists or harassment from critics of the agency.

After discussion with agency officials and a lawyer for Mr. Martinez, the newspaper declined the request, noting that Mr. Martinez had never worked under cover and that others involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda have been named in news stories and books. The editors judged that the name was necessary for the credibility and completeness of the article.

The Times’s policy is to withhold the name of a news subject only very rarely, most often in the case of victims of sexual assault or intelligence officers operating under cover.

Mr. Martinez, a career analyst at the agency until his retirement a few years ago, did not directly participate in waterboarding or other harsh interrogation methods that critics describe as torture and, in fact, turned down an offer to be trained in such tactics.

The newspaper seriously considered the requests from Mr. Martinez and the agency. But in view of the experience of other government employees who have been named publicly in books and published articles or who have themselves chosen to go public, the newspaper made the decision to print the name.


It is enough to make you spew.

The only bright side is that we actually don't have to do a thing to ensure the demise of so vile an organization. They are doing fine wrecking the old (and somewhat senile) Grey Lady on their own. That Karma can be a black hearted one, man.

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A Big Barred Spiral Galaxy

NGC 1300, 70 million light years away, 100,000 light years across. Nearly half of the spiral galaxies are barred like this one. Ours could be too, for all we know. The scientists say there is no big black hole in the center of this one (and there is in ours). I'm willing to believe them but what's with the spiral structure in the middle of the bar then? And what's the explanation for the asymetry of the sprial arms?

Magnificent.

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This Day in the History of TV Show Cancellation

On this day in 1957, The Roy Rogers Show aired its last episode after running for more than a decade. Rogers became a star in Saturday matinee westerns, with his trick horse, Trigger, and his best girl, Dale Evans, whom he married in 1947. Pat Brady had to look for work elsewhere. The operating on three cylinders jeep nellybelle could be junked. Bullet the Wonder Dog could retire to stud work. All good things.

Yippi Ki Yi, indeed.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

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Thought of the Day

It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded.

W. Somerset Maugham

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

 

Friday Movie Review (Late)

Went with number 1 son to Get Smart at the Continental and here is the musical movie review (recalling the TV show's theme music):

Dumb Dumb Dumb ----Dumb
Dumb Dumb Dumb ----Dumb

Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb
Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb

And not near funny enough. 6-7 funny things and that was it. They made effective fun of our president (James Caan) and in a second of fair and balanced ribbing, went after Hollywood types but the joke against them fell flat as a pancake.

The director is young Peter Segal who has directed about 10 unfunny comedies before this one. I don't think he was out of diapers when the TV show with the late Don Adams was first run and popular.

This one's failure is not Steve Carell's fault. Denver Bronco's fans will recognize the air marshall who tackles Carell on the plane. At least he didn't spit in anyone's face.

There was a hint of nostalgia here but the cone of silence fell flat and no Craw. Enough said. Puddy from Sienfeld played Hymie 2.0 and could have been better used.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

 

Joni Mitchell - Coyote

Joni with Pat Matheny and Jaco Pastorius. Almost heaven.


 

This Day in the History of Bleak Days for the British


On this day in 1942, the British South African Division (with some Indian troops) surrendered the Lybian port of Tobruk to the Afrika Korps along with nearly 30,000 Commonwealth troops. Then the only thing between Rommel and the Suez Canal was the British 8th Army, whom he had defeated nearly every time he took them on. Bleak days indeed. Had the Afrika Korps taken the Suez (and set up coastal guns in Morocco opposite Gibraltar) then the Mediterranean would have really been their ocean and victory in North Africa would have been a lot harder.

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Thought of the Day


vero possumus

Somebody in Obama's campaign who knew Latin

In truth we are able. (Yes, we can?) I think the slogan's creator was hamstrung by the lack of a Latin word for 'yes'

See Obama's new Great Seal.

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The Tragedy of Nick Drake


I didn't get Nick Drake's first two albums, Five Leaves Left (1969) and Bryter Layter (1970), neither of which sold more than 5,000 copies originally, but I did listen to a friend's copy of an early re-release of them probably in 1971, and I bought his last album Pink Moon right after it came out in 1972. I have been a fan pretty much from the beginning. That's pretty rare, because most of his fans today only learned about him after that Volkswagon commercial. It's possible that he has never been more popular than now. He died at age 26 in 1974 of an overdose of anti psychotic medicine. Most people believe it was a suicide. I learned of his death in 1976 and it hurt. But I was not aware of how really unhappy a life he had until recently, until I read his wikipedia entry. Man, oh man, was that a wasted life. I bring this up because it was his birthday two days ago.

One of the things that makes me an eclectic conservative, as opposed to a conventional Republican, is that I believe the government has no right to protect us from ourselves. The War on Drugs, for example, is a waste and a pathetic failure and we would be well served to combat people's problems with drugs not with courts and prison sentences but with medical treatment and NA. Indeed, the government should sell us cheap, high quality "hard" drugs which we could only use in certain areas of each county. Marijuana should just be legal, as legal as alcohol.

As firmly as I believe that, Drake's history makes me doubt the wisdom of such a policy. It is clear that he absolutely ruined his life with just marijuana and LSD. And I do mean ruined. Since I liked his songs a lot before I knew about his drug use, I can't say that his figurative self immolation makes the songs better, but to a person trained in irony detection, everything he sang has an added layer of emotion now that I know what was really going on with him. It's not, however, an added layer of happiness.

Happy belated birthday, Nick. I've liked your work for over 35 years, but I have to say that you blew it.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

 

Our Miss Brooks Fails History

Rosa Brooks, peripatetic law professor and LA Times columnist weighs in on John McCain's proper rebuke of Barrack Obama for thinking the proper way to fight the war being waged against us by Muslim extremists is in the trial courts of the federal judiciary. McCain called this September 10th thinking. It is.

Taking the contrary point, here is some of the wisdom, such as it is, from the professor on the subject:

Obama's point boiled down to common sense: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Our federal courts have been in business for more than 200 years. They've tried brutal Mafia bosses who controlled entire American cities, violent drug lords, Nazis, spies and the Oklahoma City bombers. U.S. courts have procedures for handling sensitive national security evidence, and they have already successfully tried Al Qaeda terrorists, including "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid and 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui. These men had their day in court, made idiots of themselves, and now they're locked away in a U.S. supermax prison.

There were no federal trials of Nazi spies. The Nazi spies in Ex Re Quirin were tried by military tribunals, convicted and executed or imprisoned. One of them was born in America. Because they were in America, they got habeas corpus relief (for what it was worth). The Nazis tried in China in Johnson v. Eisentrager got no such habeas relief. Professor Brooks' ignorance here is really astounding.

Ms. Brooks puts her well manicured finger on the problem. In the prosecutions she mentions, Reid and Moussaoui helped us out by constantly admitting guilt and more importantly, by not demanding we provide through discovery sensitive national security information, that is, that we burn our sources and reveal our methods, because doing that would be really bad and really dumb. We don't want to allow the enemy to learn from us how he got caught. That information would help our enemies. Reid and Moussaoui were damn fools, indeed. Had they let their attorneys run the show, Moussaoui, at least, might well have walked. But only a fool would rely on the illegal combatants held in Guantanamo Bay continuing to be so foolish. They could well demand through discovery sources and methods, the guys who captured them to be in the court, Miranda rights...the sky is the limit now that Justice Kennedy has gone free form and created a right that has never existed for legal combatants, much less for the illegal combatant, wholly forsaken by the Geneva Convention.

Here's another gem from Ms. Brooks:


Prosecutions in federal courts make sense when we're talking about suspects far removed from battlefields; military force makes sense when U.S. troops are confronting fighters in Afghanistan or Iraq.

What nonsense. As if proximity to the battlefield means anything in this sort of war. And where does she think most of the detainees came from? Here's a hint, Rosa, from the battlefield in Afghanistan.

Finally, she quotes the gentle, torture victim, John McCain, saying the Guantanamo detainees have rights under various human rights declarations. And one of them is the right not to be detained indefinitely.

Listen, one accused of a crime cannot be held indefinitely. Prove the crime or let him go. Punishment can follow the establishment of guilt of a crime but not the other way around. But we're not holding the illegal combatants pending an accusation of a crime nor for punishment for a crime--we're holding them so they don't return to the field of battle and kill our guys. We're doing what every nation, that took prisoners, has done since before history. All prisoners of war are held for the duration, and no one knows how long that will be especially early in the war. Most of our recent wars have lasted just a few years, but the American Revolution lasted eight and earlier in European history there were much longer wars--the Thirty Years War and the Hundred Years war. The Cold War lasted just over 40 years. So stop already with the 'detained indefinitely' whine. That's the essential nature of prisoners of war, except the ones who have committed war crimes (which is actually all of them here) who will be prosecuted (one day) and, we hope, executed.

All this confusion arises from the refusal of some to recognize that we are at war. It's not a matter of declaring it, although we have against al Qaeda, because al Qaeda has certainly declared it, and waged it against us.

You may not be interested in war, but I can assure you that war certainly is interested in you, said Leon Trotsky.

You can listen to lefty law professor Ms. Brooks who certainly speaks from some ignorance here, or you can listen to an actual prosecutor of terrorists, Andrew McCarthy, who speaks from experience. Your choice.

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This Day in the History of Duplicitous Name Changes

On this day in 1917, King George V ordered members of the British royal family to dispense with German titles and surnames. They took the name Windsor, because Saxe-Coburg-Gotha sounded pretty German. because, well, it was.

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Thought of the Day

defendit numerus junctaque umbone phalanges

Juvenal

Their numbers and their compact array protect them.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

 

Quibbling with the Hitchens

I have never liked Pat Buchanan, nor his unique 'brand' of Republican/Conservatism. He's always seemed more Mugwump to me. His recent book apologizing for the Nazis is not on my list of things to read and people whose opinion I value (especially Victor Davis Hanson) have been properly critical of Pat's latest effort at pretending to be a historian.

Hitchens is generally critical too and fair in it, but here's one sentence that caught my attention:


However, in point of fact Germany was governed by an ultra-rightist, homicidal, paranoid maniac who had begun by demolishing democracy in Germany itself, who believed that his fellow countrymen were a superior race and who attributed all the evils in the world to a Jewish conspiracy. (Emphasis added).
Ultra-rightist?

Now most people who think the Nazis, the National Socialist and German Workers Party, were on the right, I just write off as ill informed, who do not apparently know that socialism is a lefty thing. I can't do that with Christopher Hitchens; he's too smart and knowledgeable. So he has to think either that the name of the party (and most of its economic actions) were some sort of grand joke, or that something was essentially conservative, that is, on the right, about the Nazis, and apparently in a big way, otherwise why say 'ultra?' As Jonah Goldberg pointed out well, there was nothing conservative about the Fascists and fascism; at least the German and Italian varieties were far lefty socialism (national socialism to be sure, as opposed to the international socialism we call the Communists). The Internationale will be the human race... Sorry, that song popped into my head just them.

Or it's just possible that it's Hitchen's desire to have a counterpoint to the homicidal tendencies in Communist nations in the 20th Century somewhat balanced by attributing the homicidal tendencies of the Nazis to ultra-rightist political philosophy. I know that desire blinded me for a while.

I'll report back if I get any satisfactory answers.

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Distillation

I watch some television, but no broadcast shows--no sitcoms, no (or few) police, lawyer or doctor dramas. The movement seems to have been away from the traditional weekly short plays to reality shows anyway (I wonder if writer strikes have had any effect there?) and although I'm sure if I watched them, the reality shows would bore me, there is a lot to be said about the power of reality as shown in a good documentary.

I'm not sure I could recommend the long series/documentary Carrier (about the USS Nimitz, CVN 68), it's about 4 episodes too long for me, but if you get a chance, give Another Day in Paradise a look. It's about three fathers on the ship, a distillation of the perhaps too long series, as the Nimitz sails from San Diego to the Persian Gulf and then back over 6 months. It's wonderful and a lot is packed into 90 minutes, not the least of which is some powerful emotional connection (or so I imagined).

It's on PBS and it gives our military a fair shot. Wow! It premiered tonight but they'll play it again.

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Reports of His Capture Were Somewhat Exagerated

Back in April, I reported here that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri had been captured. Then I never heard another thing. (I also reported that he had died of cancer years before). Now it's reported that he's giving interviews to an Egyptian. So I guess not captured after all.

Oh well.

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The Democratic Plan for New Energy Production

When John McCain and the Republicans running for office this November began to make some headway with the meme, "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" the Democratic Empire struck back with this sort of complaint--


After being pummeled by Republicans for opposing efforts to open more areas to offshore drilling, Democrats have shifted gears and are blaming energy companies for not fully exploiting the domestic oil and gas reserves they already control.

House and Senate Democrats are complaining that U.S. oil companies are not drilling on 68 million acres of leased federal land and waters.

“At a time when our constituents are paying $4 per gallon at the pump, the answer is to make sure that oil companies are producing on the land they currently own,” four leading House Democrats wrote in a letter to colleagues. “They need to either use it or lose it.”

Expect to hear 'use it or lose it' for a time until people realize how shallow and stupid it is. And as a lawyer I have to point out that 'own' and 'lease' are mutually exclusive legal concepts. There's more.

The vast majority of oil and natural gas resources on federal lands are already open for drilling, and they are not being tapped,” [Senator] Dodd said June 12 on the Senate floor. “I hear complaints about the 1.5 million acres closed off in ANWR, and yet we are sitting on roughly 68 million acres under lease but not in production — why don’t they talk about that?


OK, I think I get it--The official Democratic plan is that we should only drill where the Oil Companies have already determined that it is not commercially viable to do so.

Yeah, that should work.

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More Thoughts on Boumediene

Boumediene--"this is what happens when the swing justice is the dumb justice."

Ann Coulter

Part 2 is coming, I promise. It will be pretty long. Sorry.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

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Ta-been There, Ta-done That


Because Summer is but two days away, it is now or never for the Dreaded (but not too much) Taliban Spring Offensive, 2008 version. Well, it's come. To a village called Ta-been in the area called [Castle] Arghandab in Afghanistan near Kandahar. And...wait for it...the Taliban are again having their asses handed to them by combined NATO (Canadian, eh) and Afghan forces. Not that we're counting bodies, but so far it's 23 to zero.

That's not to say that the news this past week has been all bad for the Taliban. The illegal combatants in Afghanistan were made honorary American citizens (if captured and held in Guantanamo Bay) by Justice Kennedy and four other Justices. And there was a big jailbreak and nearly 400 Taliban types broke out of stir along with another 450 common prisoners. They are being swept back up as I write.
The photo is of a Marine from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, International Security Assistance Force looks through the scope of his 5.56 mm M-4 carbine rifle during operations in Garmsir, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on April 29, 2008. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Piper, U.S. Marine Corps. I know the .223 doesn't have a lot of kick to it, but he's not leaving enough space between his 'scope' and his eye socket. He could be sorry. Finger's not on the trigger, though. He's got sunglasses on. Probably not in the act of shooting. Still...

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

 

Taking the Rough With the Smooth

I've never really hated the French. Most of their food is too good; some of their movies and books are pretty good; many of their women are too pretty to hate the French. Paris is really nice too. I do make fun of them about their lack of military success since about 1918, but there are guys who know how to fight in France--I'm thinking primarily about the French paratroops--and the French Foreign Legion can fight. They also have nukes (and are not afraid to threaten their first use) and a nuke carrier that's too dangerous to take out of port. I would be proud to call them an ally, even an independent ally.

So, under any circumstances it's a good thing that the President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy wants to rejoin NATO and ramp up his country's pathetic little military budget by a pitiful woefully inadequate amount, because of the recognition of the threat Muslim extremism holds for the West. A real good thing. Vive le France!

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And Then There Was One

Despite the declarations of guilt of cold blooded murder by several congressional Democrats, including, foremost, the porcine Rep. John Murtha, almost all of the Marines involved in a firefight with a lot of collateral damage in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005, and a supposed cover-up thereafter, have had their charges dismissed, or been found not guilty. The final defendant, S.Sgt. Frank Wuterich, faces a dozen charges of manslaughter, et al., not murder.

If Wuterich is acquitted or the charges dismissed before hearing, honorable men would apologize for defaming the Marines. Because they are blame America first Democrats, the odds are long that we'll hear a single word on the matter.

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This Day in the History of Bleak Days

On this day in 1967, China became world's fourth thermonuclear power. The H-bomb genie was pretty much out of the bottle then.

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Thought of the Day

scilicet ut fulvum spectatur in ignibus aurum tempore sic duro est inspicienda fides

Ovid

Just as yellow gold is proved in the fire, so too is the faith [of friendship] known only through hard times.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

 

Projection

Here is a little gem of a posting at the Ace of Spades HQ, which I'll use for a jumping off place for further discussion about the essential nature of the left/right political divide. Essential nugget from lefty blogsite Firedoglake:


If there is a President Obama come next Jan. 20, normal folks better brace for what the right-wing crazies have in mind. Because it’s becoming clear that they are winding themselves up now for a fresh spate of violence if Obama wins.

A fresh spate of violence?

What was the old one from 'right-wing crazies'?

All I can think of is the abortion clinic bomber and shooters and perhaps Timothy McVeigh, although I'm not sure of his politics.

Is there anything else? Consider that an invitation for comment.

Now let's go back just 50 years and consider the left wing crazies and the violence they brought down or at least attempted to perpetrate:

November 22, 1963--President John F. Kennedy shot in the neck and head by Communist defector, returned to the United States, Lee Harvey Oswald.

June 5, 1968--Probably unsuccessful presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was shot in the head by Christian Palestinian socialist Sirhan Sirhan.

1969--Fascist organization Weatherman/Weather Underground, through Barack Obama's friend Bernardine Dohrn, adopts the policy and then actually declares war on America, runs a bombing campaign against government buildings and business targets until 1980, which bombings resulted in several deaths.

November 6, 1973--Fascist organization Symbionese Liberation Army shoots and kills Marcus Foster, kidnaps Patty Hearst, robs banks (killing several) and fights a big looser battle with LA Police where most are shot and/or burned to death. The active violence ends in 1975 but the last of the survivors are not brought top justice until 2004.

September 5, 1974--Lefty hippy, Manson follower Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme tries but fails to shoot President Ford

Sept. 22, 1975--Lefty hippy, Sarah Jane Moore tries but fails to shoot President Ford.

March 9, 1977--about a dozen socialist Muslims take over buildings in DC, killing one reporter and wounding then councilman Marion Barry.

1978 through 1995--Socialist/Luddite Unabomber mails bombs to two dozen people and businesses, three people killed.

November 7, 1983-- militant leftists Armed Resistance Unit bombs the US Senate.

January 25, 1993--lefty Muslim Mir Aimal Kasi kills 2, wounds 3 as he sprays the CIA parking lot with gunfire.

February 26, 1993--first bombing of World Trade Tower by lefty Muslim Ramzi Yousef kills 6 and injures nearly a thousand.

February 24, 1997--Danish leftist, possibly in league with Palestinians, kills one, wounds several on observation deck of Empire State Building.

Beginning on November 30, 1999, lefty anarchist riot and break things at random in Seattle while WTO meets there.

September 11, 2001--19 socialist Jihadists attack World Trade Center and Pentagon and another unknown building in DC, nearly 3,000 killed.

July 4, 2001--raving socialist Egyptian Hashan Mohamed Hadayet shoots up El Al desk at LAX, killing 2.

October, 2002--socialist American Muslims John Mohamed and Lee Malvo shoot many and kill ten around DC area.

June, 2006--Animal Liberation Front, socialist/anarchist group tries but fails to bomb UCLA lab of Professor Lynn Fairbanks.

Beginning 12/31/99 through the present, socialist/anarchist group Earth Liberation Front starts campaign of burning buildings and cars. No one killed yet, millions of dollars in property damage done.

I have to ask again, what old spate of right wing violence?

Lefties, beam in your eye causes you to see only tiny mote on the right. I left out all the Democratic rioting of the 60s and 70s.

I've often thought that the right would be better at armed insurrection. We have more guns and are better shots than almost any group on the left. But the first side that uses violence to achieve political ends has lost the debate and any claim to moral persuasion. This is why there is so much more political violence in America, and in the World, on the left, where the incidence of political murder and violence has a ratio between 10 to one (in America) and 100 to one (rest of World)left versus right.

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How to Mitigate the Disgraceful Disaster that is the Boumediene Case

One of our strongest thinkers on how to fight properly the Muslim extremists who have been waging war against us for decades, Andrew McCarthy, over at National Review Online, has good advice, beautifully presented, on what our leaders need to do now. Money quotes:


Now the Court has decided that the combatants have constitutional habeas rights. If you can follow this, the bloc of liberal justices reasons that the framers designed our fundamental law to empower enemies of the American people to use the American people’s courts as a weapon to compel the American people’s commander-in-chief to justify his actions during a war overwhelmingly authorized by the American people’s elected representatives . . . even as those enemies continue killing Americans.

Disgraceful. The military can use tribunals for our citizens facing court martial, but for our enemies, who disobey nearly all of the rules of war and deserve only two to the back of the head, such tribunals are not good enough. Enough belly-aching, what is to be done?


Thus, Congress could quickly enact a statute requiring the district courts in combatant habeas cases to afford the commander-in-chief a presumption mandating detention. That is, if the government established a rational basis for believing the detainee was an enemy combatant, he would be ordered detained unless the detainee proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not an enemy combatant.

Congress could provide for the presentation of evidence by hearsay, proffer, and affidavit — with a directive that the court may not compel the government (particularly, the military and intelligence community) to produce witnesses for testimony in court. It could provide for classified intelligence to be presented to the judge ex parte, with only a non-classified summary provided to the combatant. It could require the court to give deference during wartime to the conclusion of combatant status review tribunals already conducted by the military (allowing judges to disregard those conclusions only upon a showing that the conclusion was irrational — the same standard that compels federal appeals courts, in every single civilian criminal case, to refrain from disturbing a trial court’s findings of fact).

To promote efficiency, since the issues in these cases are likely to be repetitive, Congress could also direct that all petitions be filed in the District of Columbia, with all appeals to the D.C. Circuit and, ultimately, the Supreme Court. Though I would prefer to see the cases directed to a specialized court, it is not practical to expect one could be designed in the short-term. We need a solution that can be implemented tomorrow.


As a solution to the Supreme Court's horrible mistake, this is about as good as it gets. I might skip the DC Circuit Appellate Court and make the Supreme Court hear every appeal from the District Court of every Jihadi asserting his innocence, but that's just because I'm probably more vindictive than Mr. McCarthy.

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This Day in the History of France Being France


On this day in 1940, having lost catastrophically to the invading German Armies, in the city of Vichy, the French Senate and Chamber of Deputies made 84-year-old Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain (the hero of Verdun) Prime Minister of France, the as yet unconquered by German forces part, which he would be for less than a month. On July 11, he received the title of "Chief of State," making him a virtual dictator--although one controlled by Berlin. Eventually, the Germans would take over all of France and then, just over a year and a half later, would be kicked out of the country by combined American, British, Canadian, et al., forces starting in earnest on June 6, 1944.
Recall this photo whenever you hear of the heroic French resistance. There were, before D-Day, many more collaborators than resistance fighters in France.

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Thought of the Day

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Too Early Passings

On this day in 323 B.C., Alexander the Great died from an unknown type of fever in Babylon, current day Iraq, at age 33. I blame George Bush.

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Friday Movie Review

Went to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Truly Horrendous Plot Twists (or whatever) with only son and I have devised a musical review (recalling the theme song):

Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb
Dumb Dumb Dumb

Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb
Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb

ad infinitem

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Thought of the Day

facta non verba

Deeds not words.

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Well, This Just Sucks


Good guy (for a lefty) and about the only TV talking head with an ounce of cross examination skills, Tim Russert is dead at 58 (young!) of an apparent heart attack. He could hound a guy and still be polite. I like that.


RIP


I haven't watched Meet the Press for years now. No need to start now, I reckon.

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Boumediene (Part One)

Before we know how badly off track Justice Kennedy (and the liberals) are in Boumediene v. Bush, we have to know how we got here.

We'll start with Johnson v. Eisentrager, where the Court wrote about the German soldiers who fought us (more specifically spied on us for the Japanese) in China after the Nazi surrender, were captured, tried by an American Military Tribunal, convicted and held by Americans, as punishment for their war crime, in a German prison:

We are here confronted with a decision whose basic premise is that these prisoners are entitled, as a constitutional right, to sue in some court of the United States for a writ of habeas corpus. To support that assumption we must hold that a prisoner of our military authorities is constitutionally entitled to the writ, even though he (a) is an enemy alien; (b) has never been or resided in the United States; (c) was captured outside of our territory and there held in military custody as a prisoner of war; (d) was tried and convicted by a Military Commission sitting outside the United States; (e) for offenses against laws of war committed outside the United States; (f) and is at all times imprisoned outside the United States.

The Court didn't grant the German soldiers the right to habeas corpus relief and noted this pertinent point regarding the balancing of 'rights' of foreigners versus the security of American citizens:

Moreover, we could expect no reciprocity for placing the litigation weapon in unrestrained enemy hands. The right of judicial refuge from military action,which it is proposed to bestow on the enemy, can purchase no equivalent for benefit of our citizen soldiers.

Then visit briefly Hamdi v. Rumsfled, where the Court (Justice O'Connor writing) held that an American citizen, held out of the country as an enemy combatant, had a right to "be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker." After a nearly interminable discussion, of no interest now, Justice O'Connor had this big finish: "There remains the possibility that the standards we have articulated could be met by an appropriately authorized and properly constituted military tribunal." Justice Kennedy was silent on the subject.

The next case is Hamden v. Rumsfeld, where the Court (Justice Stevens writing) held that the military tribunals the executive branch set up to determine the status of the foreign enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay were not good enough, " ...military commission convened to try Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate both the UCMJ and the Geneva Conventions." Critics pointed out that illegal combatants like Hamden did not get any protection from the Geneva Conventions and the critics are right. Justice Kennedy wrote what now seems an ironic thing: "The Constitution is best preserved by reliance on standards tested over time and insulated from the pressures of the moment." He also spent most of his concurrence/dissent whatever talking about the statutory things wrong with the Military Tribunals set up by executive order. He said nothing about the Writ of Habeas Corpus.

Then we'll seek out the important portions of the law that Congress wrote at the invitation of the Court in Hamdi and Hamden, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005:

1) IN GENERAL- Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
'(e) Except as provided in section 1005 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider--
'(1) an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba;

And then I'm too frustrated actually to talk about the Boumediene case, because the Supreme Court, and all of them, ignored that proper Constitutional exception to their abiility to hear and decide this case.

But there will be a part 2.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

 

Worse Than We Think

I'm pretty far into Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court's decision today that the Writ of Habeas Corpus applies to non Americans outside America. It seems, so far, a stunningly dishonest, monkey wrench sort of case but I need some time to digest. Also I need to get the history of the other two cases straight. I am also concerned about the congressional limitation on court review in the laws here, which I believe, so far, the Supremes ignored. If true, that last one might be the most troubling of all. More later

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This Day in the History of Solved Crimes Unpunished


On this day in 1994, O.J. Simpson stabbed his ex wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman to death outside her home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, California. Here is but a small amount of the evidence the criminal trial jury (idiots all) ignored in acquitting him: Simpson had a cut finger he could not explain; his blood was found at the murder scene; blood, hair, and fibers from Brown and Goldman were found in Simpson's car and at his home; one of his gloves was found in Brown's home, the other outside his own house; and bloody shoeprints found at the scene matched those of shoes owned by Simpson. These bloody shoe prints were made by Simpson's size 12 Bruno Magli "Lorenzo" shoes (rich men's shoes) and were found in Simpson's car and at his home as well. Did I say the criminal jury were all idiots? Oh, I see I did. Well, they were.

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Thought of the Day

sibi servire gravissima est servitus

Seneca

The most severe slavery is being a slave to oneself.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Sad Ends

On this day in 2001, just after 7 am, Timothy McVeigh, the 1995 Oklahoma City bomber, was executed by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. McVeigh had won the bronze star during Gulf War I and was a good 25mm gunner in the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He apparently turned later to the dark side.

His attorney, Nate Chambers, a good friend of this modest blog, was in attendance, at the request of his client.

I get mad at the government too from time to time, but I would never think to blow up a federal building with a truck full of ammonium nitrate and nitromethane.

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Thought of the Day

quid dignum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu

Horace

What will this promiser produce worthy of such a pompous piehole?

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 

Thought of the Day

Tutela valui

Ashely Dupre
I've been well and remain that way because I have protection. (kinda)
Mark Buchan, a classics professor at Columbia, says that it could mean "safe haven"
I have no freakin' idea and the addition of a butterfly makes no sense whatsoever.
Oh, this is the prostitute who ruined the political career of the execrable Eliot Spitzer.
I would have gone with Meretrix or perhaps beef in oyster sauce in Chinese ideagrams.

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Why I Love Summer


It's the ice cream.
And the cleavage.
And the short skirts.


(h/t The Superficial which has developed a serious Kim Kardashian obsession)

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This Day in the History of Democrats Standing Athwart History

On this day in 1964, the 71 day filibuster of the Civil Rights Act, which was perpetrated by Democrats (and only by Democrats) was ended by a cloture vote 71 to 29. The only Southern Democrat voting for cloture was Ralph Yarborough of Texas. The only 'Northern' Democrat voting against it was former KKK Kleagle Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Without very strong Republican support, this filibuster would never have been defeated. So of course the 'history' of the period is that the Democrats are the friends of the blacks and the Republicans are the racists. This entry is an effort to show real history, as if that mattered.

The bill passed 9 days later.

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Semantic Infiltration

The front page, above the fold, headline in my city's second tier paper, the Denver Post is this:

Child-poverty jump in Colo. leads nation

What the heck is 'child-poverty'? When I was child, a near ice age ago, I earned next to nothing and never had much more than a quarter in my pocket, when I was lucky. I guess I was a victim of child-poverty too then, right? What? Oh, it's not the income or wealth of the child that determines whether he or she is a victim of 'child-poverty' or not, it's the income and wealth of the parent. Oh! So the statistic is for plain old poverty or adult poverty of people with families. Gee, I wonder why they call it 'child-poverty' then? It couldn't be to tug at the heart strings of those weak minded sob sisters et al. who might become more emotionally involved if you mention 'the children'?

Of the 76,000 new families who don't make a lot of money, how many of them are illegal immigrants who theoretically can earn no money whatsoever in this country? I look for that statistic in vain. The article mentions immigrant families, but doesn't tell us the pertinent facts beyond that.

Hmmm?

Here is the speculation in the article for the increase:


Experts say there are several reasons why Colorado could be faring worse than other parts of the country.

Among them: The state's discretionary expenditures on services — from highways to higher education to health care — ranks 44th nationwide. The state spends a little more than $4,000 a person, according to the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute.

New Mexico and Wyoming spend far more, $6,541 and $7,860 respectively, the report shows. Wyoming ranks second in the country, and New Mexico ranks seventh in overall per-capita spending. Both states have fewer children, as a percentage, living in poverty, and both states have improved their percentages since 2000.

Other factors could include Colorado's low graduation rate: Roughly 72 percent of the state's high school students finish. The situation often is referred to as the "Colorado paradox" because of the higher-than-average number of people in the state with advanced degrees.

In Jefferson County, for example, the number of people with less than a high school degree has pushed up since 2002 to 10 percent of the population. In Denver, only 51 percent of those in high school finish with a diploma.

Experts also point to the shifting nature of the state's demographics. The number of children living in single-parent families has increased 13 percent.

As a whole, however, it is difficult to truly pinpoint what makes Colorado different from other states, especially those also toiling with tough problems: rapid growth, an influx of new immigrants, high foreclosure rates and chronically poor education options for the urban core.

Let me see if I can agree with the article about what makes some families poor.

  1. Colorado's low graduation rate
  2. number of children living in single-parent families
  3. an influx of new immigrants
  4. chronically poor education options for the urban core.
Spending more on highways, not so much.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

 

Global Warming Takes a Break


Here, in pretty good agreement with the UAH satellite numbers is the RSS. Down quite a bit in the last 17 months. Anthony Watt also has an interesting little posting on the benefits of a rise in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. So Global Warming is not an unmitigated disaster.

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This Day in the History of American Violance in Reaction to Stupid British Acts


On this day in 1772, colonists angry with passage of the Townsand Act in Parliament, which Act restricted and taxed colonial trade, rowed out to the HMS Gaspée, which had run aground near the village of Pawtuxet on Narragansett Bay leading up to Providence, Rhode Island, shot its captain in the belly, rowed him and the crew back to shore and set the schooner on fire. Take that, Brits.

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Thought of the Day

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

Douglas Adams (from the Guide)

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

 

Good News and Bad News

First the bad news. A Seattle jury acquitted Naveed Haq of one count and could not agree on any of the other 15 or so. Haq is accused of murder and attempted murder, et al. for driving from his home in Eastern Washington, practicing his shooting skills on the way, to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle where he shot 6 women, killing one and seriously wounding 5. He is a Palestinian who was upset with how the Israeli Hezbollah war in Lebanon was going. He is also bipolar. But the jury let us know that the insanity defense was not their problem--the issue of premeditation was, that is, whether Haq thought out the plan to kill people before the pulled the trigger again and again. The jury also couldn't decide (and it was not a lone holdout) if when he fired his gun into defenseless women at close range he actually meant to kill them. To paraphrase Ripley in Aliens, have Seattle IQs dropped significantly recently?

Unlike a lot of attorneys with over 20 years of courtroom lawyering, I still have a lot of faith in juries. I believe they are usually serious about the task and smart enough to do the job. There have been a few exceptions, on the West Coast particularly, which make you despair about our collective ability to have the wool pulled over our eyes, but generally they do good work.

The good news is that the retrial after a hung jury generally goes in the prosecution's favor. It is usually an issue overlooked by the prosecution which hangs up a jury and the prosecutors learn from the mistakes made and do a better job the second time. The defense, having pulled the wool, or the rabbit out of the hat, the first trial, rarely is able to invest another issue with the same appeal to the jury's lenient side and goes down the second time. Retrial in 6 months. We'll see how the second trial goes.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

 

Trusting Barack Obama, NOT

I've posted on the strangeness of the contradictory promises Senator Barack Obama made to Israeli supporting Jewish persons at the AIPAC a few days ago. Here's part of the promise:

Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided

Here's the staff walk back more recently:

Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties [as part of] an agreement that they both can live with.

So maybe not completely undivided after all.

This is an important election, especially for American supporters of a country which should now have real concerns for the quality of the Democratic commitment of support for our best (and only) ally in the Mid East.

(h/t little green footballs)

UPDATE: Here are words from Obama himself on CNN as reported by the Washington Post. I see a backtrack but perhaps that's a result of my dislike for the man's policies and judgment.
The Washington Post writer certainly saw it: "Obama quickly backtracked yesterday in an interview with CNN."

Here's what he said: When asked about an undivided Jerusalem, (Palestinians have no future claim on the city?) Obama said:


Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations. As a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute [a division of the city] and I think that it is smart for us to -- to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city.

Sorry, I find "Israel has a legitimate claim on the city" a far cry from "Jerusalem...must remain undivided."

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

 

More on Afghanistan

Good guy Herschel Smith at The Captain's Journal has a second look at what's actually going on in Afghanistan. He's with me. The Taliban is coming out to play, on a vastly reduced scale from what we expected, and are getting their asses handed to them. If all the forces there were American Marines, as opposed to the completely feckless non English speaking NATO forces, then Afghanistan would soon be a Taliban free zone.

Money quote from Mr. (Captain?) Smith:


The Captain’s Journal loves the truth, and presents critical analysis for the purpose of examination of strategy, tactics and logistics. We do not engage in political ‘hackery’, and we don’t shill for politicians or political parties. The campaign in Afghanistan is suffering from lack of force projection. The campaign in Afghanistan must be won. The Marines are showing us how to win it. These are not contradictory points, and our articles on this have made perfect sense. (Emphasis added).

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Thought of the Day

quis talia fando temperet a lacrymis

Virgil

Who, speaking of such things, can keep from tears.

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Contiguous?

In an effort to keep American Jews Jewish persons (who support the nation of Israel) from completely abandoning him for his radical foreign policy views and support of and by Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah, Senator, and perhaps future president, Barak Obama went to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting and said a lot designed to reassure part of his party's generally reliable base about his steadfast support for Israel. He also said this:



Let me be clear. Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is nonnegotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them
to prosper.

OK, the former part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, the West Bank, is on the eastern side of Israel and the former Egyptian conquest, called the Gaza Strip or just Gaza, from which Israel unilaterally withdrew recently, is on the west side of Israel. How do you make these two 'Palestinian' areas contiguous without making Israel two parts? Riddle me that, Batman.

Local Jewish person/spokesman Craig Silverman announced on the radio yesterday that he was fully satisfied with Obama's speech at the AIPAC. I guess he's OK with a bifurcated Israel then.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

 

Obama Versus Canute the Great

Let's start with the old guy. It is a 1000 year old story that King Canute, king of England and most of Scandinavia, Canute the Great, in order to shut up his sycophantic courtiers, had them place his throne at the shore where he commanded the incoming tide to stop, which, of course, it did not. There is indeed a limit to human ability vis a vis the power of nature.

Compare that to this little piece from Senator Obama's speech last night:


...I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war...


Yeah, if Obama tells the seas not to rise, they should tremble and obey.

Oh, and there are two ways for us to end the war being waged against us, beat the Jihadists or surrender to them. Any bets which way Obama leans? Anyone? Anyone?

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Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out



Here is Cindy Sheehan announcing her run against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Yeah, that should work.


Here she is yesterday.


Sad, in almost every way.



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Global Warming--HA!



Here is the most recent UAH satellite record of the global mean temperature anomaly from the 'normal' average 1979 to 2000. May was indeed colder in most of the World than usual. Wonder what the RSS results will be and what the Summer will be like?

Up in the Arctic Basin, the sea ice is at 3.90 million square kilometers, just a bit below the 1979-2000 'normal'. It will be interesting to see how low that goes as well. Last year was somewhat alarming as it dipped to 2.75. If it stays well above 3 million, recovery from last Summer will be pretty much complete.

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This Day in the Long Modern History of the French Being French


On this day in 1954, following their defeat at Dien Bien Phu and (more importantly) the destruction of Group Mobile 100 in the Central Highlands, France granted full independence to Viet Nam. Let's review a bit. After France fell to the Nazis about this time of year in 1940, their colony in Cochinchina was governed by Vichy, then invaded by Japan; and, then in March, 1945, freed by the Japanese of its French masters. So after the defeat of Imperial Japan in September, 1945, when all the good nations were granting independence to their former colonies, what the heck was French leadership thinking about when it retook Viet Nam and tried to make it a colony again? They deserved their stinging defeat by the Viet Minh, just as Viet Nam deserved its freedom.
Rough luck about the Communists, though. The photo is of a wrecked halftrack, on highway 19, which was still there when we were fighting against a Communist take over of Viet Nam in the 60s and 70s.

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Thought of the Day

dat inania verba dat sine mente sonum

Virgil

He gives empty words, he gives sound without meaning.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

 

The Science Behind Sunspot Prediction


Belief in the idea that an ever increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere leads inexorably to an ever increasing warming of the globe requires a lot of willing suspension of disbelief. One has to ignore the Vostok ice cores which show CO2 rises after the atmosphere and seas warm from other causes, almost certainly sun related. One also has to ignore the cooling periods which have occurred as the CO2 steadily climbed, lately, in the 1970s and more recently, ever since 1998. The correspondence of sunspot activity to global warming and cooling requires no such suspension. The sunspot numbers go down, for example, and then Earth gets a lot cooler. The sunspot numbers go up and then it gets warmer.

Some scientists, and a growing number of them, are a little concerned that the sunspot Cycle 23 is lasting way too long, much longer than the average just over 11 years (usually a sign of lower numbers to come). The magnetic emanations from the sun have, according to the vaunted Canadian Space Agency remained low (in the upper 60s when 64 is as low as the number ever gets) and that means a 'quiet' sun, usually, as well. I guess we're officially still in Cycle 23. There was a Cycle 24 sunspot near the first of the year but since then there have only been a few late Cycle 23 ones and a few very tiny and short lasting ones which could have been Cycle 24, but it's hard to tell. The sun is clear today.

Now there is this paper. I can't pretend credibly to understand each and every word, but I can read what Anthony Watt says is the bottom line prediction. It's not good. And I say that not as a lover of warm weather, I'm not, but because the suffering and cost from even a 'mini' ice age is much worse than from the opposite amount of warming.

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The Wild Wild West



A couple of photos of the gig Mark recently had. Looks like they were in the groove to me.

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Two Sides of the Same Coin


Here are two divergent opinions about how things are going in Afghanistan. I suspect the truth is tough to decide here, so I'm believing we're kicking ass and decapitating (figuratively) the Taliban leadership so that, for the second time in as many years, the Dreaded Spring Offensive just failed to occur. However, with the 'sanctuaries' in Afghanistan (which Musharraf has tried and failed to root out and appears now to have decided just to leave alone), the war theater will be hard for a long time. My source, after all, is the New York Times.

My favorite part:


Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit have been clearing Taliban and foreign fighters from the district of Garmser, in southern Helmand Province, an important infiltration and drug trafficking route used by the Taliban to supply insurgents farther north.

“The insurgents, after experiencing these several weeks of pressure below Garmser, are trying to flee to the south, perhaps to go back to the sanctuaries in another country,” said the NATO commander, Gen. Dan K. McNeill.


Herschel Smith has a nearly irrefutable point, however--we don't send in the Marines when the job is done, we send them in when the job is hard and yet to be accomplished.
The photo is of the underside of an A-10, newly refueled and turning to complete its mission over Afghanistan. As the eager types in country used to say: Git sum.

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This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1938, the German Reich ordered the confiscation of "degenerate art," by which they meant the good art still in Germany, much of the best of which ended up in Hermann Göring's villa in Berchtesgaden. At least the folks weren't poluted by seeing it.

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Thought of the Day

dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat

Virgil

Who will ask of an enemy whether [he won] by strategy or by virtue?

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Monday, June 02, 2008

 

Good News From Afghanistan

When those who cannot stand for our President to succeed at anything began to twig to the fact that things actually were getting better in Iraq, and it was dangerous to continue to say that we had lost that war, some turned their attention to Afghanistan, where, they said, the ever resurgent Taliban was ever ready to stream back into the country they were swept from so abruptly in 2002 and overwhelm our troops and those of our NATO allies. Here are but a smattering of the 'all is lost in Afghanistan' articles to appear in newspapers and elsewhere over the past few years.

Here is another view, and I think, having followed some of the campaign there, the much, much more accurate one. Money quote:


The new "precise, surgical" tactics have killed scores of insurgent leaders and made it extremely difficult for Pakistan-based Taliban leaders to prosecute the campaign, according to Brig Mark Carleton-Smith.

In the past two years an estimated 7,000 Taliban have been killed, the majority in southern and eastern Afghanistan. But it is the "very effective targeted decapitation operations" that have removed "several echelons of commanders".

This in turn has left the insurgents on the brink of defeat, the head of Task Force Helmand said.

Here is a telling paragraph:

However, with the shortage of helicopters still a problem, most movement is by road and Brig Carleton-Smith warned that British forces must prepare for an increasingly Iraq-style insurgency as the Taliban modified its tactics from pitched battles to ambushes and roadside bombs.

As the Taliban loses stand up fight after stand up fight, it will indeed resort to the IED ambush tactic which has been the preferred tactic in Iraq for years. Thus, as the Taliban's tactics change, there will be more IED casualties, but that won't mean that the Taliban is really fighting or actually, uh, winning.

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Maybe Diomedes Was On to Something


In his latest of ever decreasing posts here, Diomedes noted that photos of Barak Obama in the press sometimes have a nimbus of light around his head. Here's another Nimbi sighting.
This one is positively iconic.

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Still Alive at 55

Happy Birthday to me...

As I reach my advanced age, the pain of growing old is somewhat alleviated by what could well be a faux wisdom, but hard won through experience and, mainly, mistakes. So I've decided to impart some of the wisdom over the remaining half life of this blog. Today's subject, unfortunately, is farts.

  1. Never admit you've passed gas, even if there are only two of you.
  2. If a woman farts, (which is actually exceedingly rare) don't acknowledge it, not even a raised eyebrow. Keep a poker face as you pretend nothing happened. Trust me, this is the best course for the long run.
More as the spirit moves me.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

 

Report on the American War Dead in Iraq and Afghanistan

The news is mixed but generally good--a very low number of war dead in Iraq, higher numbers from Afghanistan--32 combined, just over one per day. As reported by the Department of Defense, during May, 18 members of our armed forces died in Iraq (way down from the 50 plus last month) and 14 died in Afghanistan (well more than the single digits it's been for, well, forever, in May 2007, eight died there). Here's a closer look at those numbers.

In Iraq, 8 died from IEDs, three from small arms and one from an automobile accident. Four Marines died in al Anbar in what was, as usual, only described as combat operations and two soldiers died of non combat causes, under investigation.

In Afghanistan, 6 died from IEDs (that's up, as I have long predicted), four from small arms, two from non combat causes , one from combat operations (a Marine) and one from natural causes, in Dijbouti. With that last reported death, it is clear that it is difficult to criticize the DOD for underinclusion of deaths in the theater of operations.

Two commissioned officers died, Lt. Col. Joseph Moore, 54, (the guy in Dijbouti) and 1st Lt. Jeffery Deprino, 35 (from an IED). Two women died, Mary Jaenichen, 20 (NCC) and Jessica Ellis, 24 (IED).

Our hopes and prayers go out for all our brave warriors and their families.

UPDATE: In June, the Department of Defense released the name of another soldier killed in Iraq in May so the total killed there was 19, with three of non combat causes under investigation (generally this means suicide).

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The Washington Post Wakes Up to History

In a stunningly upbeat article on the success of the 'surge' change in tactics in Iraq, titled The Iraqi Upturn, the liberal icon Washington Post puts the ball squarely back in Senator Obama's court. Witness:

THERE'S BEEN a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks -- which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war.


Odd? ODD? The bad news from Iraq is over-covered, the success in Iraq is not covered at all. This is the way it's been since about June, 2003. It's not odd at all. Wait, there's more.

While Washington's attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have "never been closer to defeat than they are now."

All true.
Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained "special groups" that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans.

Careful, the next thing you'll be saying is that we're winning in Iraq. That would contradict all of the Democrat leadership over the last several months, including Barack Obama.

Gen. Petraeus pointed out that attacks in Iraq hit a four-year low in mid-May and that Iraqi forces were finally taking the lead in combat and on multiple fronts at once -- something that was inconceivable a year ago. As a result the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki now has "unparalleled" public support, as Gen.Petraeus put it, and U.S. casualties are dropping sharply. Eighteen American soldiers died in May, the lowest total of the war and an 86 percent drop from the 126 who died in May 2007.


Lovely to hear, and oh yeah, they get to Obama.

If the positive trends continue, proponents of withdrawing most U.S. troops, such as Mr. Obama, might be able to responsibly carry out further pullouts next year. Still, the likely Democratic nominee needs a plan for Iraq based on sustaining an improving situation, rather than abandoning a failed enterprise. That will mean tying withdrawals to the evolution of the Iraqi army and government, rather than an arbitrary timetable; Iraq's 2009 elections will be crucial. It also should mean providing enough troops and air power to continue backing up Iraqi army operations such as those in Basra and Sadr City. When Mr. Obama floated his strategy for Iraq last year, the United States appeared doomed to defeat. Now he needs a plan for success.

Doomed to defeat? That'll be the day, with the quality of most of our armed forces. And yes, an Obama plan for continuing our success in Iraq would be quite refreshing. I'm not actually holding my breath in anticipation.

On the contrarian front, see what those stuck in the Democratic alternative reality still think, like theater critic Frank Rich, peter principled up to political opinion pieces at the sinking Grey Lady. His succinct take on the what he sees of the "national tragedy," the current situation in Iraq:


Mr. McCain and his party are in denial about this. “Elections are about the future” is their mantra. On “Hardball” in April, Mr. McCain pooh-poohed debate about “whether we should have invaded or not” as merely “a good academic argument.” We should focus on the “victory” he magically foresees instead.

But the large American majority that judges the war a mistake remains constant (more than 60 percent). For all the talk of the surge’s “success,” the number of Americans who think the country is making progress in Iraq is down nine percentage points since February (to 37 percent) in the latest Pew survey. The number favoring a “quick withdrawal” is up by seven percentage points (to 56 percent).

It’s extremely telling that when Gen. David Petraeus gave his latest progress report before the Senate 10 days ago, his testimony aroused so little coverage and public interest that few even noticed his admission that those much-hyped October provincial elections in Iraq would probably not happen before November (after our Election Day, wanna bet?). Contrast the minimal attention General Petraeus received for his current news from Iraq with the rapt attention Mr. McClellan is receiving for his rehash of the war’s genesis circa 2002-3, and you can see what has traction this election year.


Notice that Rich uses popular opinion rather than actual metrics of success to continue his defeatists ideas, and he uses the press' self imposed embargo on good news from Iraq (and the near complete lack of coverage of General Petraeus's latest report) as proof that the present just doesn't matter, that the failure to find WMD 5 years ago is much more important than current success and a relatively secure, Iraqi republic. Not that compelling an argument in my book. It seems more like clinging to the straws of the tiny bit of bad news from Iraq in the cascading torrent of good news.

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This Day in the History of Making Lemonade From Lemons

Having been stung, indeed stunned, by three naval defeats in a row during the War of 1812 (USS Constitution defeating HMS Java, USS Constitution defeating HMS Guerriere, and USS United States defeating HMS Macedonian) Captain Sir Philip Broke of the British heavy frigate HMS Shannon, mirroring British naval sentiment, begged Captain James Lawrence of the somewhat ill-fated USS Chesapeake to come out to fight outside Boston off Cape Ann, and Captain Lawrence complied. However, most historians say he had not sufficiently trained his gun crews, where the British gun crews on the Shannon were well trained and outstanding, and the Chesapeake lost the battle in just 13 minutes. As he lay dying, Lawrence uttered the then ironic words, don't give up the ship to men who struck the colors mere seconds after their captain died. As they should have, they had utterly lost the battle and thus the ship.

Still, the United States Navy gained a slogan and thereupon a very, very proud tradition after that.

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