Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Three Score Years Ago

Many people know that the Japanese signed the surrender papers on the deck of the USS Missouri (BB 63) 60 years ago this weekend. Fewer know how the dignitaries got from the dock to the Missouri anchored way out in Tokyo Bay. I do. They steamed out on my dad's boat, the USS Buchanan (DD 484), pictured at right on the day the surrender was signed.

My great, great, great uncle, Harvey D. Fraley enlisted on July 16, 1861 and served the entire Civil War in the 51st Virginia Infantry. He died in Southwestern Virginia, where I and my folks are from, on July 11, 1933. My dad remembers talking to Harvey D., as he was known, about fighting the Yankee invaders in Virginia and Tennessee some 65 years before, just as my son recalls talking to his grandfather about serving on a destroyer in the Pacific some 60 years ago. That continues to amaze me--track back just five generations and we're fighting the Civil War.

The Buchanan refitted and with a new coat of dazzle camouflage. Between the two smokestacks are located the torpedo tubes. That was my dad's job, although he has informed me that by the time he got to the Pacific almost all the Japanese surface ships had already been sunk and he never got to fire even one of the torpedoes in battle. When the Buchanan was stationed off Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the destroyers were mainly used as anti-aircraft pickets against the Divine Wind (kamikaze). Pretty scary guys those determined suicide bombers. My dad says that if a plane appeared in the sky back then, they started shooting and asked questions later. To do otherwise risked letting the plane get too close to engage it effectively before it began trying to crash into them.

The Buchanan with an earlier type of camoflage scheme fueling from the USS Wasp (CV-7) while in route to the Guadalcanal-Tulagi invasion. Within 6 weeks of the taking of this picture the Wasp was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and eventually sank. My dad says that refueling in rough seas (not like these in the picture) was terribly difficult and sometimes the hose broke and fuel went all over everyone. When the men on the Buchanan rescued a Navy pilot from the sea, and brought him back to his carrier, the 'tip' they demanded and were paid was a few gallons of ice cream or 'gedunk' as my dad still calls it today.


Author James Galloway-- Xenophobe?

Although this bit of sunshine titled "We can't win in Iraq, so let's bring our troops home" is supposed to be a straight news story, it reads more like an editorial, in fact, exactly like one. James Galloway, author of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young (and eyewitness to some of the important Viet Nam battle of Ia Drang, which is the subject of the book), has ruined some careers by quoting lower ranked officers here and there in Iraq. If their careers aren't ruined, at least they are going to have to spend a lot of time explaining to higher ranked officers how Galloway quoted them out of context.

But more striking, is the conclusions Galloway draws:

Here's what it boils down to: We are not winning in Iraq, and we cannot win in Iraq by staying the course.

I know he's been there and talked to our fighting forces while I've just been an armchair general safe here at home, but he's just wrong. We have won and are merely providing security to a defeated enemy as they build from scratch a political solution and form their own military forces, kind of like we did with Germany and Japan 60 years ago. The forces in Iraq are being trained and the political solution is coming right along. The Iraqi people will vote on the proposed Constitution within a few weeks and will have another election in a few months. The political solution is just around the corner. Galloway must be very impatient to call it defeat and advocate getting out before the job is finished. Of course, that's just what he advocated in Viet Nam 35 years ago. Running away when the going gets the least bit tough must reside in his DNA.

But what really hit me is this pronouncement:

So please tell us again, Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld, why we must stay in Iraq when we can't win there? Why your obsession with the overthrow of a tin-pot tyrant led us down a path to the deaths of 1,900 Americans in a country that isn't worth the life of even one American soldier?

The country (of 25 million humans) isn't worth the life of even one American soldier? Twenty-five million Iraqi are not worth the life of one American soldier? The Iraqi people must therefore be individually worthless. Galloway's lack of compassion is stunning, but it sounds worse to my ears. It sounds like the worst form of xenophobia, the kind that declares foreigners non-people.
But maybe I'm quoting him out of context.


Thought of the Day

Gladiator in arena consilium capit.


The swordsman is making his plan in the sand.

The helpful translation guide says that this is a saying to use when a person makes a plan too late (in the arena). I prefer to think it's better used when a person is planning right out in the open (in the sand). Since arena means sand, tough call to make which is right.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The Great Works (Haiku version)

Light in August by William Faulkner

Straight razor sex, castration,
Cold black rage explodes.


Notice Anything?

In this very long term follow-up story about refugees from the political terror following our abandoning South Viet Nam in 1975, is there anything missing from the story? The boat-people left Viet Nam for what reason? And why did we call them boat-people; if they had left by plane would we have called them jet-people? But back to the main question. Here's a quote:

Mr Van Viet's story was that of many. He says he spent months in prison in Vietnam because the authorities suspected of him of helping others to escape.
Eventually, fearing for his life, he took that very route and made a new start in Malaysia, learning English, Malay and Cantonese, and training as an auto mechanic.

Any answers there? Did Mr. Viet spend time in prison because he was a criminal? Why was he fearing for his life? What about the 1975 "reunification" could be so stirring of a desire for permanent relocation? OK, OK. I know it's obvious.

The quarter million left Viet Nam (and 241,000 stayed away) because the Communist take-over was so horrible, the extreme risk of death at sea by storm or pirates--whatever, was preferable to staying put. I guess the Brit author thought we all knew that already.

CORRECTION: A quarter million people left Viet Nam by boat and arrived somewhere else. We don't know, and we'll never know, exactly how many left Viet Nam by boat and perished at sea.


Thought of the Day

In religion we believe only what we do not understand, except in the instance of an intelligible doctrine that contradicts an incomprehensible one. In that case we believe the former as a part of the latter.

Ambrose Bierce

Monday, August 29, 2005


I Knew Secretary Rice Was Misquoted

In an earlier posting about the Gaza pull out, I quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice based on a report I had read in the the paper of record--my source was the New York Times. I was less than happy with the quote, which follows:

"Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing," Ms. Rice said in an interview. But she added, "It cannot be Gaza only."

Great News! Secretary Rice didn't say it or at least didn't say it in the way the NYT portrayed it. Betsy Newmark at Betsy's page quotes others:

It was not Rice dictating to Israel that it "cannot be Gaza only." She was stating what others had been "repeatedly" telling Israel and the United States, and responding that there were four settlements in the West Bank being dismantled, with a Roadmap for the future.

The NYT dowdified Rice in a straight news story. Man, that's low.

(h/t Rich Rickman for the heavy lifting here). Read his whole thing and be further disgusted with the Grey Lady.


New Can of Corn*

If David Corn can criticize Clinton, I guess I can call my favorite talk show host Hugh Hewitt on a mistake he's been making on air. He's looking at a lot of standing water in the residental areas of New Orleans and says we should sell our stock of publically traded shares of home owner insurance companies active in the South. Don't bother. Hugh has not been watching the television commercials lately, which make it clear that regular insurance on your home does NOT cover damage caused by floods. To cover flood damage, you have to buy special flood insurance which is only available from... the U. S. Government, NFIP through FEMA to be precise. Wonder how many people with homes below sea level in Nya' lins bought the insurance. Seems a no-brainer now.

* An easy out or an easy to hit pitcher, anything easy in baseball (which is most of baseball except for the pitching and hitting).


Thought of the Day

Omnia vincit amor, nos et cedamus amori

Virgil, in the Eclogues 10:69

Love conquers all, so let us yield to love.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Rare Sports Posting

The Rockies reached the important late August milestone of over 50 wins with a second win over the vaunted Padres (who are atop the National League West, a couple of games below .500), and the Rockies have a winning record on their latest road trip to the West Coast. Wow. There was a time, not too long ago, when I seriously doubted we'd get to 50 wins by September.

The Broncos won their third exhibition game. In a row. It was hard to tell if their offense was good or if the Colt's defense sucked a lot (there's no doubt it sucks some). OK, I'm a believer. I'm officially upping my prediction for the season from "8 and 8 with no playoffs" to "11 and 5 with a humiliating loss in the first round of the playoffs." Something tells me you didn't hear that first here. Go Denver sports teams!


Short TV Blog

It's less than 11 hours until Rome starts on HBO. I might be a little excited about that. The critics are less than enthusiastic. I bet they can't read Latin. Not that I can.

FX, which has the solid dramas, Over There, Rescue Me and The Shield, also started showing two comedies, and I use that term advisedly, Starved and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
I've been giving them a chance, but neither has made me laugh yet. No, I take that back, the mad Munchkin was pretty funny but that lasted, what?, 3 seconds. Here are some examples of the suave, subtle humor these shows have (perhaps so subtle we all miss it)--in Starved, one of the four leads comes out of the doctor's office after getting an enema with water spurting out of his ass onto people sitting in the waiting room (gross, not funny); in Sunny, one of the four leads hits a girl (who has a penis--actually that was somewhat funny) right in the nose. Man, what a knee slapper! I'm giving them another week or so but I'm inclined to say FX should stick with drama.


Sunday Shows

I'm watching This Week right now and Senator Joe Biden (D, DE) is going on and on. Biden is one of those guys it's great to talk to, if you want to talk about Joe Biden. If you go to the illustrated DSM IVR and look up narcissism there's a small photo of Biden there. Apparently no one listened to Joe Biden and now the Iraq process is all messed up and women in Iraq are about to have the same rights they have in the rest of the Muslim dominated regions of the World. (I don't believe that, because of other parts of the proposed Charter (Constitution) which guarantee equal rights, etc, but I haven't seen the final version).
Senator John Thune (R, SD) is a welcome breeze of relief because he is actually talking about the subject, like saving Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota from closure. Like everyone on the show, he's unable to speak cogently about Iraq because of a lack of an encompassing knowledge about what's going on. I think it's fair to say that something very like politics is taking place in Iraq with dissent and even violence. I find that a vast improvement over the violence without dissent that took place under the dictator Hussein and his semi-psychotic sons ready to take over. The panel was bland. 23 soldiers died in Iraq last week, a little high.
The Fox show is on and two women, whose only credentials are that someone they bore 20 years ago died in Iraq, are talking about geopolitical issues vis a vis Iraq. Whatever your political belief, why should we believe these women know anything beyond their sad personal experience? The lefty mother is asking again and again why we're fighting. To take out islamofacist and make the World better, I answer (kinda like why we fought Germany in 1942 after Japan attacked us in 1941). She has all the Democrat talking points down but most of them are either false or facile. The right wing mother, I have to admit, is not saying things I wish she would say, but they don't sound to me like the Republican talking points. Chris Wallace thanks them for the service of their sons. That's wrong. Thank the sons who made the decision and the sacrifice. Show sympathy for the mothers and put on people who have personal knowledge about the subject and therefore are people we should listen to about the subject.
Now it's Senator Mitch McConnell (R, KY) versus Byron Dorgan (D, ND). I know that we sacrificed to help the country (and still do each day), but where do we get off thinking we have any real say in what Iraqis decide about their self governance. And yea, they'll still be Muslims. Did any sane person think otherwise? By comparison with the woman before him, Dorgan sounds positively reasonable. McConnell, however, has the right plan. Dorgan can't answer what is the Democrat's plan--he merely takes the time to criticize the current administration. Wallace tries again and Dorgan again ducks it by criticizing. McConnell points out the lack of an answer and Dorgan again 'nit-picks'. Dorgan won't touch Cindy Sheehan with a long pole, but McConnell won't criticize her. I think that speaks volumes about the unique position that woman finds herself in now.
Panel time. Brit Hume is, as usual, a river of reasoned, wise analysis. The new girl, Nina Easton, points out that the anti-war movement actually hurts the Democrats. They do, just as the extreme of the right hurts the sane Republicans. Kristol is tougher than usual. Juan Williams has some sound criticism about the silence or ineffective message of the White House, which Brit Hume seconds. Kristol offers some hope the President will deliver better supporting speeches.
Rank speculation about the future of the Iraqi Constitution followed. Hume smacks down Juan Williams for the, what?, 100th time.
Chris Matthews mini show's panel makes some sense from time to time. Even ever-Labor Katty Kay says the truth--that many people polled say they'd vote for a woman when they won't actually pull the lever (or whatever) for a female commander-in-chief in time of war. This will be doubly so if, as expected, there is a major or a series of minor attacks on us prior to November 2008. We should never take a Clinton lightly or expect her to make many mistakes, but I feel a little better about Giuliani's (or whoever's) chances in '08.


Thought of the Day

Posterity will never survey a nobler grave than this: here lie the bones of Castlereagh: stop, traveler, and piss.

George Gordon, Lord Byron

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Short TV Blog

Watched the final episode of 6 Feet Under again and I have to say the show went out on top. The triumph is the end song music video--Breathe Me by Sia (whoever that is) -- where the fate of all the principal parts are shown through 2084, when Claire dies at 102, interspersed with scenes of Claire driving to New York. It's theme is that we all will die. (Got it. Thanks.) It also seemed inspired by the micro-biographies interspersed throughout Run, Lola, Run. If you look close, you can see that one of the boys adopted by David and Keith is gay in later life, Brenda takes a Latin lover but is bored by him, in the future all older women will have great clouds of white whispy hair on their death beds, and, yes, as we always thought possible, Billy actually manages to talk his sister to death.

Before that there were a series of touching scenes of forgiveness and connection with building family bonds seeming the leitmotiv. One thing that was puzzling is the transformation of Nate's ghost. In life he was a pretty mellow dude who usualy was calm and helpful but in the first part of the last episode he was just an asshole--major negative waves generally directed at Brenda to prey on her (and every parents') fears about the baby being OK. Then Brenda has a dream where he tells her he will always love the baby and Nate is everafter restored to nice guy. He offers good advice to his sister and helps usher her out on the road. Cue Sia. Great editing. Series ends.

I'll miss it, but I doubt I'll ever watch reruns of it.


Open Range

Just watched the gun fight in Open Range for about the 6th or 7th time and this time I tried to count the number of shots Kevin Costner got off from his two Colt Single Action Army pistols without reloading. It's difficult because of the editing, but here goes.

In the first phase of the fight, from the time Costner shoots the bowler wearing tough in the forehead until Robert Duvall shoots the guy in the back through the wall with a shotgun, I count 18 shots coming from Costner (6 too many). Then Costner shoots 13 or 14 from a Winchester that I believe holds 12 (if it's a '73). I'll write that one off as my counting error.

Then Costner reloads and, killing the two who came around back, he runs out after shooting 6. Wow, they got that right.

In the final phase, involving the Marshall and Michael Gambon hiding in the jail, Costner gets off 20 rounds alternating between his two guns, mainly from behind the water trough. That's 8 too many.

Just in case you wanted to know. I was just killing time 'till the Broncos started.


NARAL's Second Strike

As I predicted here, pro-abortion advocacy group, NARAL is back with a second anti-John Roberts ad on its website, two weeks after pulling its first miserable try. You can view the ad here. Although the new ad doesn't lie through its teeth like the first one, it really is no more honest.

It starts out showing three concepts it calls well established rights--privacy, equality and choice. Right off the bat I have to say that privacy is not a right contained in our Constitution (nor is it even mentioned) and finding it hidden in the emanations from penumbras is not the same as having it well established. The equality right, which is in the Constitution, is merely mentioned once in the ad and then is heard no more. That in itself is pretty unfair. Choice, which is shorthand for the right to choose to end the life of a baby in the womb, isn't in the Constitution either but derives from the hidden privacy right.

The ad then gives examples of what John Roberts said when he was a lawyer representing clients. He questioned the very existence of a right to privacy (Yea, and?). Roberts said, in a brief he wrote for his client, that Roe v Wade ought to be overruled. (It should--abortion is a state issue nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, and finding hidden rights there is the primrose path to judicial tyranny). The final point/quote in the ad is not what Roberts said but what a paper wrote about him, regarding, again, his questioning the existence of a privacy right in the Constitution (where it isn't actually, uh, mentioned).

Just in case the few readers of this post don't know, lawyers are hired to make arguments on behalf of their client and often what they say or write during that representation is what the client thinks or wants and not what the lawyer thinks. Nor does what a lawyer says while representing a client give you any idea what the lawyer would think or do if he or she were a judge.

Man, the left really must have nothing on Roberts if they're reduced to citing his briefs.


If I Were King of the Forest

In a half-joking, snarky post about Canada just below, I might have jokingly advocated invasion of the lightly defended second largest country on Earth. Just kidding. We tried that during the Revolution and again in 1812. It didn't go too well either time.

But if I were President, I would go to the governors of each of the Provinces west of Quebec (and I'd probably go to British Columbia first) and maybe I'd go to Whitehorse and Yellow Knife as well, and I'd say, in all sincerity: "The United States would love to welcome the people of your Province (or Territory) as the 51st state of our union." (Even though I'm not sure there are extra desks in the Senate and I'd really hate to mess up the star field on our flag--on the whole, I think it might be worth it, especially Alberta and British Columbia).

I'd have to think about (pronounced 'a boot' up there) the Maritime provinces. Quebec is flat out.


Thought of the Day

But before you come 'round my door, woman,
Gonna see where you're comin' from.
Better count up your change,
And put a smile on your mind,
Before you walk away with any more of my time.

Boz Scaggs in Steppin' Stone on The Steve Miller Band's first of five good albums, Children of the Future

Friday, August 26, 2005


The Mouse that Roared

Canada was pretending to be a manly nation recently by showing the flag with a substantial portion of its mighty navy, that is, not one but two warships, the Shawinigan and the Glace Bay. This martial gesture took place near an uninhabited, God-forsaken, frozen rock called Hans Island and was a figurative throwing down the gauntlet in order to warn warlike Denmark to back off, Jack, that's our God-forsaken rock, eh?

Actually, to call the Shawinigan and the Glace Bay warships is being rather kind. They are both Kingston class Maritime Coastal Defense Vessels armed with two .50s and one 40mm Bofors gun. I've got almost as much firepower as that in my garage. There were armed Russian trawlers a few years back that could sink those doughty boats in a stand-up fight. And given the name of the island (Hans), something tells me the Danes might have been there first.

Canada, having been too long liberal, can't really afford to defend itself any more, and is reduced to relying on the kindness of strangers, like us. I read about a year ago that the combined might of the Canadian Armed Forces numbered around 50,000 men and women (mainly men).

We could take 'em; but who wants the headache of Quebec?


An Interface Between LIfe and Death

The FDA has once again put off a decision regarding allowing over-the-counter sale of the so-called morning-after pills. I, for one, wonder what the rumpus is about. The problem, they say, is implementing the committee's desire to limit sales to 17 year-olds and older. If it's over-the-counter, how do you get that done? (Have the package's bar code trigger a message in the register to ask for ID, like they do with alcohol in grocery stores? Just a suggestion).

That's not what's really causing the hold-up, I think. It's abortion politics. As the story in the NYT reveals:

Some conservatives say the pill, viewed by the drug agency as a contraceptive, is really an abortion pill. Liberals respond that easier access to it would actually reduce the 800,000 abortions a year in the United States.

The morning-after pill gives the worried woman a super shot of synthetic estrogen and progestin which, in turn, prevents any fertilized egg, fresh from a roll down the Fallopian tube, from embedding in the lining of the womb. There are thousands of fertilized eggs every day which don't embed (or implant) in time naturally and are flushed at menses--this inability to get the egg implanted constitutes a measurable percentage of all infertility. I'd hardly call it an abortion to take a substance to prevent this implanting. After all the contraceptive pill taken almost all month does exactly the same thing.

Purists don't defer. The egg is life, they say, even if it's never going to develop, and making it never implant or develop by taking drugs is an abortion. Purists are none too fond of contraception (other than rhythm) either. Most people, however, see it more like a smart contraceptive (taken only when it's needed). Most women I've been with who needed to take it, don't really like what the concentrated version of the pill does to their body and hormonal balance.

My prediction is that the pill (called Plan B) will be over-the-counter before 2007.


The Real Quagmire in Iraq

Here's some little reported good news from Iraq--the restoration of the wetlands in the south. Located in the Basra, Maysan and Dhi Qar provinces, the Mesopotamia marshlands once covered nearly 3,600 square miles. Saddam Hussein ordered them dammed and drained in 1991 as punishment, after Marsh Arabs in the area supported the Shia rebellion right after the Gulf War (part one). At their nadir, the swamps covered only 300 square miles. Once Saddam was deposed by coalition forces two years ago, the dams were burst and the water again flowed into the low areas and now some 37% of the original marshes mapped in 1970 have been restored.

You know, you'd think at least the Greens would be happy about this.


Hurricane Schedule

My parents live on the west coast of Florida, in Sarasota County south of Tampa/St. Petersburg, so I'm sometimes worried about Hurricanes during the 'season.' My folks have ridden out a few already, and the only way there's going to be catastrophic damage to their beach house is if the storm surge comes right up the beach and swamps the house. Near misses just strip a few (or all) leaves from their trees and wash away half the sand on the beach.
One of the cool things Drudge does is provide government date on the storms, including updated satellite photos and storm track. These things certainly ease my worries, especially when they show a miss. My question is, what is Katrina going to do after it gets to West Virginia next week?


Thought of the Day

After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.

Cato the Elder

But right after this he said "Cartago delenda est." (Sorry I couldn't find the Latin original).

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Aborted Rare Sports Post

Because I haven't been particularly kind to him in the past, I was going to come to the defense of Lance Armstrong who has been accused, again, of doping, specifically using EPO, a red blood cell enhancer.

Armstrong has insisted throughout his career that he has never taken drugs to enhance his performance. In his autobiography, "It's Not About the Bike," he said he was administered EPO during his chemotherapy treatment to battle cancer.
"It was the only thing that kept me alive," he wrote.

I was going to say that, given that revelation, perhaps a trace of the cancer treatment drug remained in his system and urine into his first victory at the Tour De France in 1999. Lance, however, has chosen to refute that defense by guaranteeing there was no EPO in his urine at his first Tour win. The champion necessarily implies then that the old sample has been tampered with. I have to admit that I find that a little hard to swallow. It reeks of conspiracy theory. I like my defense better. But perhaps there was just too much time between the cancer treatment and the first Tour win for the legal EPO still to have been in his system.

Another beautiful theory destroyed by the merest brush with the facts.

UPDATE: Lance comes right out and says it plainly: "There's a setup here and I'm stuck in the middle of it," Armstrong told The Associated Press. "I absolutely do not trust that laboratory," he said.


Watching the Sunset

Because the mountains to the west of here (I guess you'd call them the Rocky Mountains) cut off most of the flat, colorful rays when the sun is low on the horizon, we don't often get beautiful sunsets. Yesterday was different. Out of the bland grey-blue banks of rainclouds, red and gold clouds boiled up, flanked by dark veils of virga (rain that never reaches the ground) with lightning. It was very beautiful. No intelligent man can watch the sunset for longer than 15 minutes, I read once, (though I can't recall, or find, who wrote it). I watched it for about 6 minutes. I don't know where that puts me on the intelligence scale.


Thought of the Day

I know you don't like weak women
You get bored so quick
And you don't like strong women
'Cause they're hip to your tricks.

Joni Mitchell in You Turn me on, I'm a Radio

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Ubi Sunt Qui Ante Nos Fuerunt?

A story in the Rocky Mountain News earlier this week says that the charges of academic misconduct against militant, blowhard Professor Ward Churchill will proceed to the next level of review, but they have been whittled down to 7, including plagiarism and mischaracterization of sources. Fellow ex-DA and local radio show co-host, Craig Silverman, who has been a recent, vocal critic of Mr. Churchill, is semi-OK with the developments. Fellow ex-DA and blogger Diomedes has more on at least one of the two charges not bound over.

The charge of mischaracterization of sources reminds me of another academic fraud a few years ago, Michael Bellesiles, formerly of Emory University, and the former, and now disgraced, winner of the formerly prestigious Bancroft Prize for a distinguished book on history (which award was later taken back by Columbia University) . "The Committee [at Emory] concluded that Bellesiles was guilty of both substandard research methodology and of willfully misrepresenting specific evidence in Arming America."

Well, yeah, you could say that. Among other things, Bellesiles said in his book Arming America that working guns were really rare in America before the Civil War. Bellesiles certainly wanted that to be true and there were plenty of people willing to believe him (including several people on the Bancroft committee at Columbia University). He almost pulled it off, but other historians could not reproduce his findings from the same records. In a stupid lie, Bellesiles claimed to have researched probate records which were destroyed in the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906. A liar must be good at remembering. You'd think a historian might recall a fire associated with that earthquake. Oops.

In a similar vein of fraudulent citation, Churchill claimed in numerous writings we assume are his, that the U.S. Army gave small pox infected blankets to Mandan Indians, when the sources he cites for support say the opposite, that the Indians were infected by sick civilians. Churchill wants the U.S. Government to have been the bad guy and presto, in Wardland, so it is.

Where is Bellesiles now? Neither Yahoo nor Google will reveal? It is as if he dropped from the face of the earth. We can only hope for a similar result in the Ward Churchill case.


Local Politics

More good news for nice guy Democratic candidate for govenor Bill Ritter--Senator Ken Salazar will not run for govenor. This not quite shocker comes on top the dropping out of the race a month ago by not ready for hardball, rich guy, Rutt somebody, leaving Ritter the lone Democrat candidate. So far, despite the desire of the Colorado Democrats to have someone other than a pro-life candidate (Ritter is a good--though not perfect--Catholic boy), it's beginning to look like Bill Ritter will not have to run in a primary.

On the Republican side, Congressman Bob Beauprez is running for the nomination against former DU president Mark Holtzman. The Beauprez/Holtzman battle is, in one sense, double bad news for the Republicans. First, Beauprez holds onto his Congressional District (redrawn to within an inch of its life by recently retired Judge John Coughlin) largely because he is the incumbent and his running for Govenor, and not for reelection, makes the Seventh District vulnerable for Democrat takeover. Second, if my memory is intact, in the last election, 2004-- where, let's face it, Republicans got their asses kicked--every Republican who ran in a primary lost in the general election. That's a string, I, for one, am not eager to see continue.

As I have said, Ritter, if undamaged by his own party in a primary fight, will be a formidable candidate. Time for the Republicans to get seriously busy in their efforts to get Republicans elected in 2006.


Thought of the Day

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

Niels Bohr

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Thought of the Day

I keep my eyes on the prize, on the long fallen skies
And I don't let my friends get hurt.
All you back room schemers, star trip dreamers
Better find something new to say,
'Cause you're the same old story;
It's the same old crime
And you got some heavy dues to pay.

Steve Miller (back when he was good) in Space Cowboy

Monday, August 22, 2005


Thought of the Day

Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.

Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Thought of the Day

If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.

Mario Andretti


Light Posting Excuse (again)

I have a trial on Monday, so I'm going to use Bill Dyer's excuse and not post for a few days. Take it away, Diomedes.


Friday Movie Review (late)

Just saw The Great Raid and it was great. So moving. I didn't just cry at the end, I wept. It was hard to get it together by the time the lights came on. And it's not that sad--those were tears of pride. Guys who really like movies know the director's other work. He's John Dahl who did neo-noirish Red Rocks West, The Last Seduction and Rounders, each of which is good. The theatre wasn't very crowded (and most of the guys there looked like they could have been in the Philippines in 1945) so I don't think the box office is going gang-busters and the reviews have been mixed (more on that later). That doesn't matter--you should go see this movie soon (even though it's got Benjamin Bratt in it).

It's pretty long, 2 hours 12 minutes, but it only drags where it should, in setting up the raid and in the no-contact love affair. Connie Nielson, who was the 'love interest' in Gladiator, plays a very savvy and brave nurse who stays in order to help the POWs with smuggled drugs. Joseph Fiennes plays the American 'leader' in the Camp which is simultaneously slated for a Japanese style final solution (they skip the gassing part and proceed directly to burning the bodies without first killing them) and a rescue mission by well prepared but untested Rangers. Fiennes looks much too beefy to be dying of malaria. Special praise belongs to Cesar Montano for his portrayal of Filipino guerilla Captain Pajota. He managed, at least for me, to capture a quiet resignation to second class status all the while showing first class tactical skill and courage. The two Japanese secret police villains are superb--urbane, confident, polite and murderous. I've seen neither of them before. It also has Dale Dye as Lt. General Kreuger (whoever that was) and as the film's 'technical advisor'. Apparently there is a law out there that all American war movies must have Dale Dye in them.

In short, this is a movie where the heavily outnumbered good guys kick ass and take names and the bad guys die. What else do you want in a summer flick?

Not everyone has liked it, like this Stephen Holden, a movie reviewer at the New York Times. He said the movie was

a tedious World War II epic that slogs across the screen like a forced march in illustrates a depressing similarity between reckless war-mongering and grandiose moviemaking. Historical films with vainglorious ambitions, like ill-fated imperial ventures, often overlook the human factor, a miscalculation that usually results in a rout.

I have absolutely no idea what he's talking about. What "reckless war-mongering"? What "vainglorious ambition"? What "ill-fated imperial ventures"? Is he comparing this movie, set in 1945, to the current situation in Iraq? Let's take these questions in order.

Showing a historically accurate account of awell fought, little battle in a big war is not "war-mongering," what ever that means, with or without a mens rea. Accuracy in what the movie shows isn't the same as celebrating war. The Japanese had vainglorious ambition to try to conquer the area around them but the Rangers out to save the lives of their fellow servicemen had a purer motive and far from being big-headed and boastful (which is what vainglorious means) the Americans were the very models of self-effacing competence. Likewise, the Japanese invasions of the nations and islands around their home islands were indeed imperial ventures which I'm led to believe led to a somewhat bad end for Japan. But something tells me that movie critic Holden was not applying this term to the Japanese. Whom, exactly, he was referring to is necessarily a guess because he's just not very good a writer. Finally, since the three terms Holden throws about can't apply to the Americans in the movie and don't make any sense if applied to the Japanese, there has to be a broader sense he is using them for, like commenting on current war situations. But Iraq has nothing to do with the fight against Imperial Japan except that our boys are out there risking life and limb mainly for the benefit of others, just like we did in WWII.

I know I'm getting sidetracked here but the NYT review gets worse. Then Holden trots out this gem:

Its scenes of torture and murder also unapologetically revive the uncomfortable stereotype of the Japanese soldier as a sadistic, slant-eyed fiend.

I'm stealing the below quoted comment about this sentence from Small Dead Animals but I couldn't have said it better if I had taken weeks to write this.

If you read the Holden quote again, you'll see a favorite rhetorical trick of the left (or, as the Italians say it, 'la sinestra'). Look at the phrase "the stereotype of the Japanese soldier as a sadistic, slant-eyed fiend".
First, why 'slant-eyed'? Is someone claiming that the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army DIDN'T actually have epicanthal folds? Is someone claiming that these folds somehow caused or excused certain behaviors? Would the actions depicted be somehow less sadistic or fiendish if the perpetrators had, say, both eyes on the same side of their heads like a flounder?
No. Eyes (in quantities up to but not exceeding two and uniformly distributed) are expected on fiends and friends alike. I'll go out on a limb here and say that's pretty much a norm that we're all comfortable with. Same for the eyelids. So why bring it up?
Precisely because it IS an ethnic slur, and one of the worst sort possible in 21st century American culture -- it's a slur based on a visible ethnic difference. White Americans have a massive guilt complex when it comes to 'visible' ethnicity, and any phrase that reminds them of that complex is therefore extremely uncomfortable. We've been trained for four decades to automatically reject any phrase or concept that implies that a visual ethnic difference is an indicator of character or ability.
Stupid as it sounds, some people may be willing to call a sadistic fiend a sadistic fiend, but not if it involves throwing in an ethnic slur. I'm not saying this is a Bad Thing, I just resent it's being used gratuitously to manipulate opinion.
Now, if Holden had simply referred to "
the stereotype of the Japanese soldier as a sadistic fiend", most people would have recognized the other trick he used -- using the word 'stereotype' as a synonym for 'reputation'. Most of us Boomers were trained starting in high school that "stereotypes are Bad", and ethnic stereotypes are the worst; we automatically reject anything that perpetuates harmful ethnic stereotypes, except, of course, for stereotyping all Americans of Italian descent as being murdering, sadistic, racist Mafia thugs -- which is nothing more than good TV.
So, there you have it, the phrase "the reputation of the Japanese soldier as a sadistic fiend", which would have conjured up an indisputable historic fact, is replaced by a phrase that somehow makes the reader feel that any suspicion about the behavior of the Japanese soldier during WWII must be the result of western (American) racism.
Amazing what a few well-placed words can do, isn't it?

See also Scott Johnson's thoughtful post on the subject at Powerline

OK enough about poorly educated movie critics' cryptic or stupid comments about the movie. Now to the gun stuff. They pick out ten guys to shoot for an attempted escape (you saw it coming) and the officer has a Nambu 14th year pistol (which looks like a copy of a Luger made by a guy who's legally blind) and he walks behind each of the kneeling Americans and puts a bullet through their brain stem and out the throat. The POWs fall down like sacks of potatoes. But the Nambu only holds 8 in the clip and the officer stops after number 6 to put in a new clip for the last 4. (This scene is a great improvement over the Nazi head shots with an eight shot P-38 in the hard as a diamond movie The Grey Zone where the SS guard never reloads). The Japanese guard in our movie had to crank back the bolt to seat another round after he put in a new clip, because he did not shoot out the entire clip (which would have held the bolt open). Even though the Nambu round (8mm) is necked down, it's not as powerful as the Luger's round, 9mm parabellum, but up close that doesn't seem to matter.

I've always wondered why anyone would put a bayonet on a full auto weapon like the the Type 99 light machine gun the murderous Major Nagai has, but he uses it against the top (1st sergeant) and almost gets him except he failed to secure properly his bulbous Nambu holster.

Almost all our guys have M-1 Garands, except for Bratt's character, Lt. Col. Mucci, who has a Springfield 1903 (and unlike the religious sniper in Saving Private Ryan who can crank off 7 or 8 rounds left handed (from a gun which holds only 5) without reloading, Bratt, over iron sites, knocks down 5 Japanese soldiers slogging through a river. Then he's done.

The movie is based on Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides and the The Great Raid on Cabanatuan by William Breuer, and I'm told both are great reads.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Adopt a Box

Hearing the request of my blogfather, Hugh Hewitt, to read and report on one of many boxes of documents, supposedly regarding Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts, which were just released by the Reagan Library in PDF form, I said count me in and was assigned one by the man behind the man, the very capable Duane Johnson, who is a darned fine blogger himself at Radioblogger. I got box 4 (part 2) entitled Asbestos Legislation.

In that box were, in 52 pages, a series of military memoranda and reports regarding Naval and Merchant Marine ship building between 1940 and 1944. Several of the reports on materials were about strategic minerals including asbestos. All were authored and typed in the 1940s, obviously none by Judge Roberts. There were a few notes and underlinings but none attributable to Judge Roberts. In short there was absolutely nothing in this box that would in any way give you any insight into Judge Roberts.

It was kinda interesting though to someone with a little knowledge of and more interest in naval history in general. It could have been worse.


Appointment in Samarra

In an earlier post about biased reporting in Iraq, the deaths of four American soldiers in an unknown city north of Baghdad were mentioned. Turns out the deaths occurred in Samarra. There is an old story about Samarra which used to send chills up my spine. I'll reproduce it here:

"The Appointment in Samarra" (as retold by W. Somerset Maugham [1933])

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw Death standing in the crowd and he went to Death and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, Death said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

The story is also the epigram for John O'Hara's good novel of the same name. And the best person I ever heard tell it was Boris Karloff in Peter Bogdanovich's only really good movie Targets.


Misanthropic Nature Reporting

Reuters has this story about the decline this century in numbers and range of the Aquatic Warbler. I posted before about avian pair bonding and why the male's help is needed to protect the eggs and helpless chicks who hatch. It appears that the male Aquatic Warbler is not holding up his end of the bargain:

The male bird plays no part in nest-building or raising chicks and spends most of its time hunting for willing females and mating at length.
In contrast to most birds, which get the business over in a mere one to two seconds' sexual contact, aquatic warbler spend up to 35 minutes copulating...

In other words, the male may be a great lay but is utterly useless helping with the babies. Could this be part of the reason for the birds' decline--a sex obsessed mate who's inattention to the home front causes higher chick mortality? Not according to Reuters. We're, apparently, to blame:

However, numbers have slumped to less than 20,000 in the past century -- a decline of 95 percent -- and its range has shrunk from continent-wide to isolated strongholds in eastern Europe as humans have ravaged its habitat.
Scientists [want] to save the randy songbird, whose habitat is disappearing as marshlands are drained and farmland is expanded.
(Emphasis added).

The Reuters story has a photo of a bird with it, but it doesn't look like an Aquatic Warbler whose real picture is here.


John Kerry's Advice to his Party

John Kerry is giving advice to state lawmakers who are members of his party on how to be more like him but not lose--advice such as this:

We have to go out and fight for the real issues that make a difference in the lives of the American people and we don't need some great lurch to the right or lurch to the left or redefinition of the Democratic Party.

In other words, Democrats should just keep doing what they've been doing (losing). Check out this nugget:

Kerry said Democrats have an opportunity to rebuild nationally by simply addressing the concerns that affect people's daily lives-- energy, transportation, health care and security.

Yea, that should help.

And the article ends with Kerry's lie of the day (with bonus pathological projection):

Kerry told his audience that while Republicans dither and practice politics of "nastiness and partisanship," Democratic legislators are showing the right stuff, connecting with people on their front porches and then going to the capitals to fix their problems.


Thought of the Day

Ah you hate to see another tired man lay down his hand
like he was giving up the holy game of poker
And while he talks his dreams to sleep
you notice there's a highway
that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder.

Leonard Cohen in Stranger Song

Friday, August 19, 2005


Lott More Where That Came From

John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, provides potent statistical support for his titular argument in this article over at NRO. Money quotes:

The 2000 International Crime Victimization Survey, the last survey completed, shows the violent-crime rate in England and Wales was twice the rate of that in the U.S. When the new survey for 2004 comes out later this year, that gap will undoubtedly have widened even further as crimes reported to British police have since soared by 35 percent, while those in the U.S. have declined 6 percent.

Australia has also seen its violent-crime rates soar immediately after its 1996 Port Arthur gun-control measures. Violent crime rates averaged 32-percent higher in the six years after the law was passed (from 1997 to 2002) than they did in 1995. The same comparisons for armed-robbery rates showed increases of 74 percent.

During the 1990s, just as Britain and Australia were more severely regulating guns, the U.S. was greatly liberalizing individuals' abilities to carry firearms. Thirty seven of the fifty states now have so-called right-to-carry laws that let law-abiding adults carry concealed handguns after passing a criminal background check and paying a fee. Only half the states require some training, usually around three to five hours. Yet crime has fallen even faster in these states than the national average. Overall, the states in the U.S. that have experienced the fastest growth rates in gun ownership during the 1990s have experienced the biggest drops in murders and other violent crimes.

Brazil has also tried to reduce crime by banning handgun ownership. Wonder what's happened to the crime rate there?

"An armed society is a polite society," wrote Robert Heinlein


The Hammer of the Cabbage

Charles Krauthammer makes some sense about the unilateral concession that withdrawal from Gaza represents. Money quote:

The Gaza withdrawal is not the beginning but the end. Apart from perhaps some evacuations of outlying settlements on the West Bank, it is the end of the concession road for Israel. And it is the beginning of the new era of self-sufficiency and separation in which Israel ensures its security not by concessions, but by fortification, barrier creation, realism and patient waiting.
Waiting for the first-ever genuine Palestinian concessions. Waiting for the Palestinians to honor the promises -- to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism -- they solemnly made at Oslo and brazenly betrayed. That's the next step. Without it, nothing happens.

Here's our official reaction from Secretary of State Rice:

Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing," she said in an interview with The New York Times. But, she added, "It cannot be Gaza only."
According to the Times, Rice said that while the withdrawal would take several weeks, Israel must take further steps soon afterward, including loosening travel restrictions in the West Bank and withdrawing from more Palestinian cities.

That doesn't sound good. The Israelis make this historic, heart-wrenching concession and we want more? I'm with Krauthammer. This is the end of Israeli concessions until Palestinian leadership becomes sane, responsible and peaceful. The ball is 100% in their court.

I also say: "Never give up the Golan" (more on that later) and "There is a Palestinian state, it's called the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan" but the Palestinians wore out their welcome (to put it nicely) and King Hussein kicked them out in "Black" September, 1970 with the loss of about 1,100 Palestinian lives (some estimates go as high as 10,000). But I'm just a quiet Catholic boy who reads a lot of history, what do I know?


Thought of the Day

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite.

Paul Dirac

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Marx Versus Smith

I'm having trouble believing that oil is actually worth over $65 a barrel. So I'm looking at stories about oil prices to try to obtain some insight. All I find is more confusion. Like this.

One story, from BBC News, about recent decline in the oil price since a $67 high, says Chinese demand is jacking up the price. It's quoted as follows:

Although concerns about US refining have lessened after some of the 12 plants that had closed reopened on Friday, analysts said fears about oil supplies from Iran, and demand from fast-growing nations such as China could still drive crude prices higher. (Emphasis added).

Another story, from the Taipai Times, says central government planning is causing Chinese refineries to put out less product. Here are some quotes:

Officials scrambled yesterday to resolve severe gasoline and diesel shortages in China's south and east amid complaints that government price controls are worsening supply problems...
Although disruptions to tanker traffic due to recent typhoons were one factor, the crisis is mainly blamed on government price controls that prevent local refineries from passing on higher costs due to surging crude oil prices.

So, let me get this straight. Chinese demand is causing oil prices to rise but Chinese supplies of gasoline in the south and east are dropping. Can both these things be true?

And look at the results of different political attempts to lower the high price of gasoline. In the west, with capitalistic free markets, the government knows better than to try to control prices and we have plenty of gas (even though we're paying a lot for it). Of course, a long term solution would be to develop oil fields in some God-forsaken, frozen corner of Alaska, for example, or to help an oil rich nation (with a crumbling oil infrastructure caused by years of neglect due to a corrupt, totalitarian government) export more oil . The Chinese decree a price ceiling and the gasoline goes away. Hmmm.


Short TV Blog

I really wasn't into Over There (FX channel, Wednesdays at 8:00 Denver time) last night. Didn't follow everything that was going on and certainly didn't understand how a guy with a radio and binoculars improves the aim of over the horizon mortar crews against moving targets on a road whose distance from the mortar pit could be measured to the millimeter. (Nor why we couldn't spot the mortars with a Predator or with radar). Really stupid. I mean bone-an-inch-thick- headed. OK, if he's telling the speed of the vehicle and where it is on the road so the mortar men know when to shoot, I get it; but without the spotter, the mortar rounds weren't even hitting the road. What?

Mrs. B, the girl driver, became much more interesting--very religious girl in the army who will crush the hand of a dead enemy for grins and now she's into casual sex with Haliburton types. More complex than the average TV woman character. She suddenly looked better and much more voluptuous too. (Or was that just me?)

OK, the gun part. The .223 is accurate and flat shooting and there's nothing wrong with using it as a medium range sniper round even out of an M-16 on semi-auto (as they showed King moving the selector to from the back side). But he used the fleshy part of the end of his finger (rather than the area right over the last joint--'bone on bone' is a cardinal rule of sniping) and he jerked the shot rather than slowly squeezing until the explosion is a surprise. No way he made that, what? 250 yard shot in real life.

Kinda of a step backwards for the show from my point of view.


Good News from Iraq

This story from the AP (by QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA) contains some guarded good news from Iraq. Here's two thirds of the lead paragraph:

A spokesman for the biggest Shiite party Thursday predicted a breakthrough on the constitution within the next two days, as negotiators scrambled to finish the draft by next week's deadline.

But what's the last third of the lead paragraph? you ask. Here it is:

A roadside bomb killed four more U.S. soldiers in a city north of Baghdad.

This is like one of those tests--which of these objects does not belong with the others. It's as if the AP style manual says that all good news from Iraq must be followed with a report on the deaths of Americans, no matter how jarring a non-sequitur is created.


Thought of the Day

Women are like elephants. I like to watch them, but I wouldn't want to own one.

W.C.Fields in Mississippi

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Life is Made of Memories

And one I recall from last week is taking my oldest daughter to a strip club. It's not as bad as it sounds. We were heading down Santa Fe Drive to pick up a car from Dom when the car we're in stops working. The nearest phone was in PT's Sports. We called AAA and then went outside to wait for the tow truck, where we played 20 questions (I ruled). So all in all, 5 minutes inside. She's 21 and could have gone in without me. Still, it was creepy--The men, some in suits, looking up at the women 'dancing'; The women having to do this demeaning thing (the stuff of major adolescent nightmares) for money, apparently pretty good money. Not a pleasant memory, but I don't think lasting damage was done.

What a difference it would have been with my son, or maybe not. I put on a bluff front, but it was embarrassing from the moment we entered and I would have been just as embarrassed with Andrew.

Still doesn't make me interested in what's happening with cash-poor Centennial.


Matt Lauer Smackdown

Freeper Mark Finklestein posts the following transcript with comments involving a US Army officer taking Matt Lauer of the Today show down. (h/t Jack Kelly at Irish Pennants)


Lauer interviewed a group of soldiers at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, and at one point asked about the state of morale. After getting two responses to the effect that morale was good, Lauer had this to say:

"Don't get me wrong, I think you're probably telling the truth, but there might be a lot of people at home wondering how that might be possible with the conditions you're facing and with the insurgent attacks you're facing."

If Lauer was the advocate for the anti-war case, he then made the cardinal mistake that no advocate should make: asking a question to which you don't know the answer.

Asked Lauer: "What would you say to people who doubt that morale could be that high?"

Captain Sherman Powell nailed Lauer, the MSM and the anti-war crowd with this beauty:
"Well sir, I'd tell you, if I got my news from the newspapers I'd be pretty depressed as well!"


Powell went on to add that, while acknowledging the difficulties the media face in getting out into the field in Iraq,

"For those of us who have actually had a chance to get out and meet the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police and go on patrols with them, we are very satisfied with the way things are going here and we are confident that if we are allowed to finish the job we started we'll be very proud of it and our country will be proud of us for doing it!"



Sins of the Father

Here's a kinda smear (which is driving Jed Babbin, subbing for Hugh Hewitt on the radio, apoplectic) regarding Supreme Court nominee John Roberts and where he grew up. He lived, it turns out, in a "nearly all-white community" called Long Beach, Indiana, a "Mayberry-like community that was largely insulated from the racial strife of that era."

You mean that he didn't live in a ghetto or that he did?

The authors of the article speculate without reaching a conclusion (sometimes it's enough just to ask the question) whether Robert's white-bread upbringing led him to be the racist, sexist he may be today. Here's where they attempt to connect the dots:

Roberts' criticism of racial "quotas" in some documents from his work as a White House lawyer has alarmed civil rights groups and some Democrats, who say he may be a partisan for conservative causes. Other memos from his time in the Reagan Justice Department portray an attorney who urged his bosses to restrict affirmative action and Title IX sex discrimination lawsuits.

The part that gets me is that the article mentions the existence of restrictive covenants in property deeds, prohibiting selling the property to non-white, non-Christians about 15 times. Like that was something important and special to this town in Indiana. Do the authors not know that many deeds all over the country prior to 1964 contained those covenants. Do they not know that these remnants of our somewhat racist, anti-Semitic past were declared void (and unenforceable) as against public policy 40 years ago, before Judge Roberts was a teenager?

Do they really think that everyone from a nearly all-white Mayberry like town are more likely to be a racist or a sexist or an anti-Semite ? Isn't that very thought a little racist in itself?


Thought of the Day

And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Poem of the Month

Vides ut alta stet niue candidum
Soracte nec iam sustineant onus
siluae laborantes geluque
flumina constiterint acuto?

Dissolue frigus ligna super foco
large reponens atque benignius
deprome quadrimum Sabina,
o Thaliarche, merum diota.

Permitte diuis cetera, qui simul
strauere uentos aequore feruido
deproeliantis, nec cupressi
nec ueteres agitantur orni.

Quid sit futurum cras, fuge quaerere, et
quem fors dierum cumque dabit, lucro
adpone nec dulcis amores
sperne, puer, neque tu choreas,

donec uirenti canities abest
morosa. Nunc et Campus et areae
lenesque sub noctem susurri
composita repetantur hora,

nunc et latentis proditor intumo
gratus puellae risus ab angulo
pignusque dereptum lacertis
aut digito male pertinaci.

Liber I, Carmen IX

Do you see how Soracte stands in deep, bright snow,
and the labouring woods no longer sustain the weight
and the white water streams are encased
in the fierce cold?

Dissolve the cold; generously pile wood
on the hearth, and liberally, from
the big Sabine jugs, O Thaliarchus,
bring on the pure, four year old wine.

Leave the rest to the gods just when they've
muffled the winds fighting fiercely the
boiling seas, now neither the cypress
nor the old ash are able to stir.

Whatever tomorrow brings, do not demand,
and what days by chance you're given count a plus
and don't spurn sweet love,
kid, or neglect to dance,

while it is fresh, and morose grey-hair
is absent. Now, revisit the Campus,
and the squares, and soft whispers
in the night, at the hour agreed,

and now the pleasing laugh of a girl
hidden inside a corner reveals her,
and the pledge retrieved from her arm,
or from a poorly resisting finger.

Ode 1.9

Except that it's in Latin, has weird names in it and is over 2000 years old, this is a modern poem. Horace invented the phrase Carpe diem, Sieze the day! and he fleshes that thought out here. The poem starts in winter when the world is frozen--nothing can move--even fierce winter winds have been suppressed so that the trees are locked and groaning beneath the ice. But humans can act--build a big fire and bring out the good wine. Then the advice starts. The poet urges us to appreciate every second of every day because in our youth we can love and dance. Crabbed old age will come, Horace, warns, but now seek out the trysting places of soft whispers and the pleasant laughs of women who have agreed to meet you and who will let you capture a love token, lightly defended.

My favorite line is near the end about the pleasing laugh of a hidden girl revealing (or betraying) her in a corner and the word for girl, 'puellae' is literally inside the words for pleasing laugh (gratus risus) and she's also surrounded by the words for inside corner (intumo angulo). The image itself is very pleasing but the structure of the sentence conveying the image is near divine.

Frank Sinatra said, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." He would have liked this poem.


Taking the Dead With You

The LA Times reports that removal of the bodies from Jewish graveyards in Gaza is becoming a problem. On the one hand, it seems easier than removing the roughly 1/3rd of the settlers who won't leave without some application of force; but, on the other hand, it is a delicate procedure.

I'm asking why the bodies have to be removed. There are little cemeteries all over the Eastern US in relatively weird places (at my family's reunion in North Carolina two weeks ago, for example, there was a 20 grave family type plot in the middle of the golf course). Do they have to remove the bodies for fear of the Palestinians digging them up and desecrating the remains? It's a sick thought but, on reflection, probably true.


Thought of the Day

America is a model of force and freedom and moderation - with all the coarseness and rudeness of its people.

George Gordon, Lord Byron

Monday, August 15, 2005


Political Chin Music

Robert Novak argued early last week that the NARAL ad defaming Supreme Court Justice nominee John Roberts, which was withdrawn late last week (and the communications director responsible for it resigned to 'spend more time with his family'), was a brush back pitch (high and inside), a little chin music, for the President to keep in mind when he nominates someone to become the next Supreme Court Chief Justice.

The Democrats, Novak argued, are saying: "If we'll do this to a squeaky clean middle-of-the-road conservative, about whom some stauncher conservatives (cough AnnCoulter cough) have reservations, imagine what we'll do to a real dyed-in-the-wool conservative."

Could be.

I bet, however, that the President steps back up and crowds the plate.


Short TV Blog

Second to last 6 Feet Under tonight and it was pretty sad. I have to admit that it's ending just about when it should. I am so sick of the by now cliched visual metaphor of the dead returning to talk to the living left behind. Stop already. It doesn't happen. I thought the use of dreams was pretty good though. David's at the beginning was really creepy and Brenda's about incestuous feelings for Billy was perfectly done. I was yelling, "No! Don't do it," at the screen and she didn't (and even sent Billy away after the dream).
Claire and David are such wooses. They have just totally fallen apart over something they have been exposed to their entire life. Claire's drunken Democrat Underground talking points did little to endear her character to me. I wasn't quite hoping for a fatal accident as she sped from the coyotes, but if she had one, I was ready not to shed a tear.
And why did the sister have to help the Iraq War vet kill himself? They sell guns to guys with only one full working limb. And what was Nate doing as the child stalker/killer? I can't begin to see the phychological resonance in David hallucinating that.
Nate described death as a dreamless sleep forever (echoing Catullus' "one perpetual night to be slept" in an earlier poem of the month). I've always been a fan of Kurt Vonnegut's "violet light and a humming noise forever" myself.


Thought of the Day

There are women and women, and some hold you tight,
While some leave you counting the stars in the night.

Bernie Taupin in Come Down in Time

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Someone Tell Frank Rich He's an Idiot

If your blood pressure needs a jump start to redline, read this piece by Frank Rich today in the New York Times.

John Hinderaker at Powerline provides some antidote to Rich's bitter musings here.

Mr. Rich and I, it turns out, share a few things: We have the same birth day and Mr. Rich helped start the weekly Richmond (VA) Mercury which I read once when I lived in Richmond.

You may wonder what has prepared Mr. Rich for his job as political analyst. Well, he was the theater critic at the NYT for many years and before that the arts critic (mainly TV and movies) at Time magazine and the New York Post. Nothing prepares you for clear thinking about the real World as sitting in darkened theaters watching play acting and make-believe for most of your adult life.

The truth, at least as I see it, is that we've already won the military struggle in Iraq and are merely waiting for a political solution to the terrorism/insurgency which plagues the country (and the whole Middle East for that matter). That political solution is coming in the form of an Iraqi constitution (tomorrow), further elections (later this year and next year), and the training of an army and police force that actually help and defend, rather than murder, the people of Iraq (coming along slowly). While the defeatism that became chic and popular during the Vietnam War (and was echoed in a hostile press and on TV), was somehow able to turn victory there into defeat; things have changed so much that a similar result is truly unthinkable now. The current defeatists like Frank Rich sound more like Lord Haw Haw or Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf aka Baghdad Bob than like Walter Cronkite 35 years ago.

UPDATE: The Iraqi constitution which was to be completed on Monday will now be completed next Monday (August 22, 2005). A week's delay seems no big deal; another delay might signal a bigger problem.


Thought of the Day

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government.

Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, August 13, 2005


La plus ca change, la plus c'est la meme choses.

There is a fascinating posting over at Wizbang which started from finding a 1943 paper. Maybe the progression of feelings Cindy Sheehan is having is just wired in some people's brains, like the five stages of grief are supposed to be. Maybe in the future, DSM VI will describe the progression of the mental unbalance and PET scans will show what areas of the brain are active when one suffers Cindy Sheehan discognizance.

UPDATE: Jay Tea over at Wizbang admits that the alleged 1943 article he quoted yesterday was made up out of whole cloth. He calls it a satirical piece. I missed that detail. The rest of what I wrote might survive this revelation, though.


Thought of the Day

Acquaintance: A degree of friendship called slight when its object is poor or obscure, and intimate when he is rich or famous.

Ambrose Bierce

Friday, August 12, 2005


NARAL inoculated John Roberts

NARAL withdrew the despicable ad regarding Supreme Court nominee John Roberts it had created, put on it's website and peddled to CNN and elsewhere for airing. That's the good news. The bad news is that it'll just try again with something else.

But it might not be so easy subsequently. Just as an ineffective virus, introduced into the blood, creates in the body the tools to fight a real virus that comes later (the process we call inoculation), then NARAL's failing this badly in it's first political salvo makes it more difficult to score a hit later--there is always in the back of the mind, even of those who want to believe, the memory of the lie and failure the first time.

Notice the apology too: "We regret that many people have misconstrued our recent advertisement about Mr. Roberts' record," NARAL President Nancy Keenan said. Why doesn't she just say, "We're sorry. We're sorry you're too stupid to understand our brilliant ad."


Cindy Sheehan

When I was an undergraduate at Stanford, a near ice age ago, one of the engineering professors there, a Nobel laureate in physics named William Shockley (1/3rd of the team that invented the transistor) was talking about race in a frowned-upon way. I was interested in race at the time (less so now that the late Stephen Jay Gould has set me straight) and I didn't know if what he was saying about intelligence and race was true or not. Those who wanted to say Shockley was wrong couldn't say he was stupid (Nobel laureate); so they said he was out of his comfort zone of expertise. He may well have been.

Cindy Sheehan, to my knowledge, does not have any pedigree as a political analyst or a connoisseur of modern history. All I know is that she lost her son. I seriously doubt that grief gives one any greater insight into current politics, indeed, it may have the opposite effect. It certainly ups the emotional output and if Ms. Sheehan was talking about her grief and how she overcomes it just to get out of bed in the morning, etc., I would probably listen to her. Byron York over at NRO has some quotes that make her sound as foolish as any tinfoil-hat-wearer at Democratic Underground. Tell me again why I should listen to her.

Most of the rest of the family sounds positively sane by comparison. Here is their press release via Drudge.

The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.

Sincerely, Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.


Fumento on Over There

Every word Michael Fumento over at Townhall writes about the FX show Over There is true.
Money quotes:

If “Over There” has a true military advisor, he deserves the firing squad. In the first episode a squad is pinned down while besieging a terrorist-filled mosque. The unit remains for about 36 hours with no air support, because “Air is dedicated to another area.” Never mind that planes or choppers are always available within minutes. They request artillery, again to no avail. There’s no armor...

The GIs ARE depicted as both brave and dedicated, as they must be in order to be proper pawns. Conversely they’re also hot-headed; they constantly bark at each other like obnoxious poodles and there’s a knife fight by the second episode. Do the soldiers beat and torture prisoners? Do you have to ask?

Meanwhile the terrorists, who in reality favor “soft” civilian targets, are braver and tougher still. They make the Viet Cong look like pansies. One literally has his torso blown off and yet his legs incredibly keep marching forward. A metaphor, perhaps, for the invincibility of the terrorist Jihad?

Fumento is an ex-paratrooper (do we still have those? why?) who was embedded with the Marines in the last part of the Gulf War two years ago. He probably has forgotten more details the show gets wrong than I will ever see. I'm still going to watch it, though, just in case it grows.


Thought of the Day

It is human nature to think wisely and act foolishly.

Anatole France

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Answers to Oz Super Trivia

I hope this isn't seen as too cheesy, but the answer to both questions yesterday about Witches of the East and South in The Wizard of Oz is: No one.

The legs of the Wicked Witch of the East under the house were not real. (If they had wanted to have an actual person, I would have nominated Dorothy Parker even though she was not an actress).

There is no Good Witch of the South. (If there was one, however, I believe Tallulah Bankhead would have been the right choice to play her).


Thought of the Day

What a drag it is getting old.

Mick Jagger/Keith Richards in Mother's Little Helper

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Short TV Blog

Over There continues to get better, as I hoped, even though the show's producers/directors are finding it difficult to let go of even the tritest of cliches (like the hard drinking, bad father; the sex-obsessed, unfaithful wife; and, the indomitable spirit of those who will not take morphine). Let's talk about last Wednesday's show where our squad (this time somehow without the women drivers) set up the World's deadliest checkpoint. Our guys shot up 3 out of the 4 civilian cars that approached the checkpoint and killed 6 including two old men, a wife and a little girl. Oh, and they captured the one guy we were all looking for.

I got a kick out of the squad scholar from Cornell, "Dim," beating up the hard black guy from Compton without breaking a sweat. I thought the introduction of an Arab-American soldier, Tariq Nassiri (played by Omid Abtahi), was a brilliant idea. This guy will become worth his weight in gold.

One thing I couldn't figure out was the lack of entry wound on the little girl. All the shots are coming from the front. How can she have a huge exit wound at the back of her cranium and an intact face? (I guess the bullet could have gone in her mouth while she was screaming). How long can you be alive with such a wound? She was definitely alive before Dim disobeyed orders, again, and opened the car door.

Tonight's episode was like Abu Graib lite. They needed to get information from the guy captured in episode 2 and they got it. I didn't see a breech of the code of conduct but maybe I wasn't looking hard enough. Tough to tell the political angle on the episode's long arc of the story. Was it effective, necessary, but harsh interrogation or was it more evidence of how ruthless and this far from criminal our soldiers have become. And who were those guys? Soldiers or CIA? And somehow the two women came back.

The interrogator (who played the character Bull in Band of Brothers) had the best equipment, including a suppressor (often called a silencer) on his M-16. I guess he had sensitive ears and wanted as little sound near him as possible. The bullets from an M-16 go between 3000 and 3700 feet per second (about 3 times the speed of sound) so they make a lot of noise as they go by with miniature sonic booms. Not quite the stealth weapon the producer/director had in mind. (It only makes sense to suppress a sub-sonic pistol round; suppressed guns using those can be pretty darn quiet).

The interrogator also had a flack vest that matched his three color desert camo. Our regular guys have three color desert pants, shirts and helmet covers, but flack vests in woodland camo (which kinda destroys the tiny effect the desert camo has).

I also liked the detail that when the tough sergeant who cares (another cliche) finished shooting up a car, he removed his half shot out clip and replaced it with a fresh full clip and stored away his half used one. Neither Dim nor the competent black soldier (who learned to shoot at Bible camp) replaced their clips.

Like I say, getting better.


Rolling Stone Creativity

If you're old enough to know what Mods and Rockers were in England in the early 60s then you reveal which of those two sides you were on to admit which band you liked more back then--the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. (Actually you're choosing between American Rhythm and Blues versus American Blues in choosing one over the other). I'm a Beatles guy. I did like the early Stones when they did blues covers and when Jagger/Richards wrote good songs. That period has been over for a long, long time.

The sexegenarian rock group (oxymoron) The Rolling Stones apparently needs either money or the drug of adoring fans and they're about to tour on the new album A Bigger Bang, and one of the songs on the new album is political. It's title--Sweet Neo Con. I have to admit that I'm amazed Keith Richards even knows what a Neo Con is.

Here are some sample lyrics:

You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite
You call yourself a patriot, well I think you're full of shit...
How come you're so wrong, my sweet neo con?

Worthy successor to Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown, eh?

The Stones never did a thing that the Beatles didn't do first and better, including quitting. (For example, just compare their albums from 1967--Their Satanic Majesties Request versus Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band--it's no contest). The Stones had a career built almost solely on attitude and 42 years of a diminishing creativity now running on fumes. It is only rock and roll...

UPDATE: Drudge has more lyrics:

How come you're so wrong? My sweet neo-con, where's the money gone, in the Pentagon...
It's liberty for all, democracy's our style, unless you are against us, then it's prison without trial.


Donald Luskin on Science and Faith

I don't read Paul Krugman often (I don't always understand what he's talking about and I have strong doubts that he's giving it to me straight), but I always read Donald Luskin debunking what Krugman has written. Like this gem over at NRO.

Money quote:

"It must be moral force — it certainly isn’t science — that permits Krugman to claim that supply-side economics has “never been backed by evidence.” How does he reconcile the fact that federal tax revenues plummeted after peaking in 2000 (while tax rates remained high) and then recovered after the 2003 tax cuts were put in place? What does he call Krugman Truth Squad member Kevin Hassett’s observation that the tax revenues currently anticipated by the Congressional Budget Office for 2006 are about the same as those it anticipated for 2006 back in 1999 — even though tax rates have been slashed since then?
Here’s what I call it: scientific, empirical, real-world proof. Supply-side economics works. Lower tax rates, higher economic growth, and higher tax revenues go hand in hand in hand."

Krugman Truth Squad, indeed.


Wizard of Oz Super Trivia

We all know the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) and the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke) but who played the Wicked Witch of the East? And who was slated to play the Good Witch of the South? Answers tomorrow.


Local News

Denver recently gained some unwanted notoriety as the place where singer/songwriter Marc Cohn was shot in the head during a car hijacking and lived, but there is another story that just made the papers this morning which I find even more disturbing. Michelle Malkin had this lunacy on her site yesterday. Quote from the AP story to which she links:

Lt. Col. Alexis Fecteau, director of operations for reserve forces at the National Security Space Institute in Colorado Springs, is believed to be responsible for defacing at least 10 vehicles between December and June, police spokesman Sonny Jackson said Tuesday. A bait car left by a police detective was also defaced and the detective tracked down Fecteau, who turned himself in Friday.
Fecteau is suspected of blacking out the Bush bumper stickers and then spray painting an expletive and the president's name on the vehicles.

So let me get this straight, a light colonel in the Air Force (reserves) is vandalizing cars that have a sticker on them supporting President Bush, Fecteau's commander in chief. To quote the melting Witch of the West (wicked): "Oh, what a world! What a world!"


Thought of the Day

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

Steven Wright

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


First Low Blow of the Fight

NARAL, the pro-abortion right group, is currently running an online ad regarding Supreme Court Justice nominee John Roberts. You can go here to see it. It is a very dishonest ad, I think, and so say the Annenberg Fact Checkers here.

Summary at the fact checking:

An abortion-rights group is running an attack ad accusing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts of filing legal papers "supporting . . . a convicted clinic bomber" and of having an ideology that "leads him to excuse violence against other Americans." It shows images of a bombed clinic in Birmingham, Alabama .
The ad is false.
And the ad misleads when it says Roberts supported a clinic bomber. It is true that Roberts sided with the bomber and many other defendants in a civil case, but the case didn't deal with bombing at all. Roberts argued that abortion clinics who brought the suit had no right use an 1871 federal anti-discrimination statute against anti-abortion protesters who tried to blockade clinics. Eventually a 6-3 majority of the Supreme Court agreed, too. Roberts argued that blockades were already illegal under state law.
The images used in the ad are especially misleading. The pictures are of a clinic bombing that happened nearly seven years after Roberts signed the legal brief in question.

Despite the lack of truth to the ad's charges, Matt Drudge says here that CNN has agreed to run the add on its cable channels. We're not even a third of the way through August, the hearing before the Judiciary Committee doesn't start until September 6, and already the Democrats are lying about the nominee in mass advertising. Long, hot summer indeed.

UPDATE: NRO's Bench Memos has more here. Just scroll down to the several things Edward Whelan has written about NARAL in the past few days.


Libertarian Values

John Tierney, the op/ed columnist replacement for William Safire at the NYT, is becoming a voice of reason for many of us Republicans with basic libertarian leanings and who specifically believe we should be able to do what we want with our own bodies and who think that the government doesn't really help drug addicts by putting them in jail. Here is an example of Tierney's clear thinking.

Heart of the argument:

It's the same pattern observed during Prohibition, when illicit stills would blow up, and there was a rise in deaths from alcohol poisoning. Far from instilling virtue in Americans, Prohibition caused them to switch from beer and wine to hard liquor. Overall consumption of alcohol might even have increased.
Today we tolerate alcohol, even though it causes far more harm than illegal drugs, because we realize a ban would be futile, create more problems than it cured and deprive too many people of something they value.

Read the whole thing. Even if you have to register.


Hard Questions for the Left

I guess I'm impressed by British accents. I think it comes from my study of Brit literature. I was at one time a big fan of Andrew Sullivan, before he lost his way. I love Mark Steyn, even though he's merely Canadian with the accent. I've always liked Christopher Hitchens a lot. Who else can do a hour monologue on why the Dalai Lama and the late Mother Theresa are bad people?

Here is a tough article he wrote a few days ago. I tried to link to it yesterday but couldn't make a decision on what to quote. Still hard-- it is that good.

How can so many people watch this as if they were spectators, handicapping and rating the successes and failures from some imagined position of neutrality? Do they suppose that a defeat in Iraq would be a defeat only for the Bush administration? The United States is awash in human rights groups, feminist organizations, ecological foundations, and committees for the rights of minorities. How come there is not a huge voluntary effort to help and to publicize the efforts to find the hundreds of thousands of "missing" Iraqis, to support Iraqi women's battle against fundamentalists, to assist in the recuperation of the marsh Arab wetlands, and to underwrite the struggle of the Kurds, the largest stateless people in the Middle East? Is Abu Ghraib really the only subject that interests our humanitarians?

Later, he asks.

Question: Why have several large American cities not already announced that they are going to become sister cities with Baghdad and help raise money and awareness to aid Dr. Tamimi? When I put this question to a number of serious anti-war friends, their answer was to the effect that it's the job of the administration to allocate the money, so that there's little room or need for civic action. I find this difficult to credit: For day after day last month I could not escape the news of the gigantic "Live 8" enterprise, which urged governments to do more along existing lines by way of debt relief and aid for Africa. Isn't there a single drop of solidarity and compassion left over for the people of Iraq, after three decades of tyranny, war, and sanctions and now an assault from the vilest movement on the face of the planet? Unless someone gives me a persuasive reason to think otherwise, my provisional conclusion is that the human rights and charitable "communities" have taken a pass on Iraq for political reasons that are not very creditable. And so we watch with detached curiosity, from dry land, to see whether the Iraqis will sink or swim. For shame.

Go read the whole thing and listen in vain for answers from the left to those tough questions.

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