Friday, March 31, 2006


The Love (making) That Dare Not Say Its Name

This one's not for children.

I just read good news about AIDS in India (the new infection rate is reported to be down) and ran across this explanatory sentence: Male use of female sex workers is a main reason for the spread of HIV in these areas, which subsequently puts wives in a vulnerable position.

In Africa and, it seems, India, AIDS is largely a heterosexual sexual disease. In Europe and America, it is mainly a homosexual sexual disease and then a disease among those who share hypodermic needles. Heterosexual transmission is a distant third. What's the deal?

This article blames the spread of AIDS in some parts of Africa on the lack of circumcision in East African men. But that only explains how the men are getting it from the women (it neither explain why women are getting it from men with any sort of penis nor, therefore, why American women are not getting it from mainly circumcised men here). And most men in America are circumcised, including the homosexuals, so circumcision ovbviously offers the homosexuals no real protection from AIDS.

I have a different theory.

In America and Europe, we straight men generally strive to please our women sexually and spend the time and effort to get them in the right frame of mind for sex, with the added bonus that the right frame of mind has a lubricating effect down below so that vaginal trauma from sex and the resulting bleeding is minimized. Apparently that's tougher to do anally, as the back door is not self lubricating (not that I know much about it). So the main male homosexual act involves anal trauma and bleeding and the blood borne virus is transmitted more easily than in the non-bleeding, satisfied vagina. Or so I believe.

What's going on in Africa and India? It's hard for me to believe that most straight sex is bu-fuing on that continent and teeming sub-continent. Are the men there so selfish that they don't take care that their female partner is ready and willing (and wet as November, as Titus Pullo would say)? Are these questions too hard for AIDS researchers? Too politically incorrect?

There will be answers, I say.

And what about the Muslim world, is it a heterosexual or homosexual disease vector? Stay tuned.


Comment on the Democrat Plan for American Security

I'd planned to post about the recently released and long awaited Democrat plan how to fight and win the war being waged against us by Islamicist extremists, but I can't. As Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, Calif., there's no there there.

I'm not kidding. 123 pages of wishful thinking and platitudes. I doubt the majority of Democrats support a majority of it. Tough and smart, my arse.

UPDATE: No sooner stated than the evidence rolls in. This is how the the Democrats ACT to protect the country from foreign terrorist attacks; they try to cut 20% of the funding for the NSA, the most forward DEW line of the current war. From the LA TImes:

... Republicans on the House panel defeated a Democratic push to suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in spy agency funding until the Bush administration provided more information about a controversial domestic espionage program being conducted by the National Security Agency.

So given the choice between partisan politics and security, the Democrats chose partisan politics and the Republicans chose security. No surprise to me.

(h/t Captain's Quarters)


Troubling Feelings

I'm feeling bad because every time I scroll down over at Instapundit, I lust after the picture of Glenn Reynold's recently deceased grandmother (the 1938 photo). It's a very troubling feeling.


RMN Weighs In

I have been chided by my reader (OK there are more than one) for jumping to conclusions and misrepresenting Bill Ritter's position on health insurance. The center right editors at the Rocky Mountain News seem to think I jumped the gun by thinking Ritter will expand entitlement to free health care. Indeed, they chide Ritter, gently, for not giving a hint about where he's going with his first year's top priority. They ask:

How would he do it? Appoint a commission, made up of medical, business and labor leaders. Their mandate: Expand coverage and improve access to care statewide, including in rural areas.

That's mom-and-apple-pie stuff. Before entrusting Ritter with the governor's office, voters should expect him to offer his philosophical views on the role of government and private care and individual responsibility, so they could anticipate how he might steer the policy process.

For instance, a panel with those guidelines could recommend a variety of alternatives: impose a single-payer system, dramatically boost eligibility for Medicaid, force all employers to buy health insurance, or issue vouchers to the uninsured so they can buy their own policies.

Which general direction would Ritter prefer? He hasn't said, but he has a duty to be more forthcoming as the campaign unfolds.

In my defense, just look at the four alternatives:

1) Single payer system involves massive government intrusion, increased tax burden and (if Canada is a good example) decreased services and long waits. Full socialized medicine.

2) Increased Medicaid is merely subsidizing poor peoples' non-emergency care and it necessarily involves increased government involvement and a growth in our tax burden--it is movement further down the path of socialized medicine.

3) Forcing the employers to provide medical insurance is increased taxation by another name. It also involves increased government involvement and less autonomy over business spending--less freedom because the government says so. That's actually more like fascism than socialism.

4) Vouchers for poor people will involve a higher tax burden with a little more government intrusion. Clearly that is more socialism.

Bill is a pretty good Catholic and a Democrat. Does anyone really believe he's going to back a self reliant, no further burden on tax-payers, less government involvement solution to what I see as a non-problem? Pull the other one.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 307 AD, Flavius Valerius Constantinus (the Emperor Constantine I) marries Fausta, the daughter of former Emperor Maximian. If Augustus is like George Washington, Constantine is like Abraham Lincoln.
The vision of hoc signo victor eris before the successful Battle of Milvian Bridge causes Constantine to convert to Christianity and help the Church immensely. He also moves the main seat of Roman government to the more defensible city, which will be called, in his honor, Constantinople. Rome is sacked and sacked again while Constantinople shakes off sieges until other Christians (the 4th Crusade) in 1204 don't have the patience to go all the way to Jerusalem. Even after sacking, Constantinople holds out against the Mussulmen until Tuesday, May 29, 1453, during the reign of Constantine XI.


Thought of the Day

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read.

Groucho Marx

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Difficult Closing Arguments

After Zacarias Moussaoui testified in the penalty phase that he wanted to kill as many Americans as he could; that he was slated to fly a plane into the White House; and, that he lied to investigators so they would not discover, in time to prevent it, the 9/11/01 al Qaeda plot--his own lawyers had to resort to the following argument:

Zacarias Moussaoui is an arrogant, hate-filled, wannabe terrorist who lied in court about his involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, plot because he is incapable of telling the truth.

OK, but if you can't believe the man on trial for his life, who admits his guilt, whom do you believe? The prosecution witnesses? They say he did these things too. The defense counsel had to ask the Virginian jury to believe, instead of the confessed terrorist or the prosecution witnesses, "top al-Qaeda leaders" who dispute what Moussaoui said. Yea, those guys would never lie to us.

Very bizarre.


More Rock Sellouts

I've been watching more TV and hearing more old rock and roll standards used for advertising, and I've decided that I'm not OK with it. Have the old groups let the copyright on their song lapse?

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours--Stevie Wonder--Mercury cars

Every Day is a Winding Road--Cheryl Crow--Subaru (Lance hears that line, "Every day I'm a whining bitch")

Right Here Right Now--Fatboy Slim--Nissan Trucks

I'm Not Like Everybody Else--Boss Hog--IBM

In a Gadda Da Vida--Iron Butterfly--Fidelity Investments (not all bands in the Golden Age were good)

Time of the Season--Zombies--Fidelity Investments

Don't Stop--Fleetwood (although they sold out to President Clinton before this)


A Good Movie About Methamphetamine

Despite the fact that it has Val Kilmer, the best meth movie is the surprisingly good The Salton Sea. Neo-noir, stylish with a few surprises. It has an extraordinary performance by Vincent D'Onofrio as the Pooh-Bear. Not just extraordinary--unforgettable. Peter Sarsgaard is pretty good too. The weird thing is that they make a big deal about an 8 shot Colt revolver in .357 magnum. There is no such thing. That probably won't ruin it for you.

The history of meth is very interesting as presented in the movie and I liked the scenes about the meth user parties. My daughter said they were phony, but I didn't have the nerve to ask her how she would know that.

Don't buy the DVD, but it's well worth a watch.


Bill Ritter Shows His Roots

Democrat candidate for Governor, Bill Ritter, yesterday showed his Democrat roots and misplaced priorities: Ritter said that if he becomes governor, he'll devote his first year in office to coming up with a plan to solve the health care crisis.

What crisis, you might ask?

"Seventeen percent of our population has no health insurance, one of the worst rates in the nation," Ritter said. "It's a spiraling problem."

Uh, Bill, what percentage of those with no health insurance are illegal aliens? How many of them are healthy young people who have looked at the cost and decided, rationally, to take the gamble? If you remove those numbers, is it really a crisis? (I thought PERA was the crisis).

We on the right side of the political aisle say that your body and health are your responsibility, not the government's. Health insurance, which did not exist really before WWII, is not a right. Free medical care (other than emergency) should never have become a welfare type benefit that the government mandates and requires other people, mainly those who are responsible enough to pay for their medical care, to pay for the irresponsible. Medicare and Medicaid will probably bankrupt us. Bill Ritter wants to expand the free medical coverage?

Mr. Ritter has proven his magnanimous character by working for Catholic Charities in Zambia. That was his own time and money. Now it seems that his charitable nature wants to require others to be as generous with their money.

As much as I personally like Bill Ritter, I could never vote for him.


This Day in History

On this day in 1945, guitarist Eric Clapton was born in Ripley, Surrey, England. It gets more complicated. He was the illegitimate son of 16 year old Patricia Molly Clapton and 24 year old Canadian pilot, Edward Walter Fryer, who returned to his wife in Canada not knowing (for many years) he had fathered a son. To save the lad the stigma of being a bastard, he was raised by his grandparents, Rose and Jack Clapp, who pretended he was their son and his mother, Patricia, was his older sister. So his name was first Eric Patrick Clapp. (Clapton was the name of his mother's first husband). Even after he learned the truth, at age 9, about his mum from Rose, Clapton continued to pretend his mother was his older sister for years to come. Maybe that's too much information. Eric Clapton is 61 years old--not as ancient as the Stones, but getting on there. I have to admit it, I'm beginning to feel just a little bit old.


Thought of the Day

Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included.

Karl Marx

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Ending the War We're Losing

Like most former prosecutors, who felt every drug prosecution took time and effort from punishing real crime, I'm not happy about the War on Drugs. Neither is John Stossel whose column today, at, makes sense beginning to end. Money quotes:

...some of the unintended consequences of drug prohibition:
1. More crime. Rarely do people get high and then run out to commit crimes. Most "drug crime" happens because the product is illegal. Since drug sellers can't rely on the police to protect their property, they form gangs and arm themselves. Drug buyers steal to pay the high black market prices. The government says alcohol is as addictive as heroin, but no one is knocking over 7-Elevens to get Budweiser.
2. More terrorism. The profits of the drug trade fund terrorists from Afghanistan to Colombia. Our herbicide-spraying planes teach South American farmers to hate America.
3. Richer criminal gangs. Alcohol prohibition created Al Capone. The gangs drug prohibition is creating are even richer, probably rich enough to buy nuclear weapons. Osama bin Laden was funded partly by drug money.
Government's declaring drugs illegal doesn't mean people can't get them. It just creates a black market, where even nastier things happen. That's why I have come to think that although drug addiction is bad, the drug war is worse.

But unlike Stossel, who just kvetches about what is happening now, I have thought of a solution. Ready?

Keep the drug laws as they are, but set up government stores in skid row or 'bottom of the decline' industrial areas in every major city, where any adult can legally purchase any drug at a reasonable price just above the cost to produce it. The only catch is that the drug purchaser has to use the drug then and there. Then use the profits from the sales in the government stores to fund addiction treatment centers, in the nice part of town. This won't completely stop drug addiction, because of youth use and some people won't want to use drugs in the spartan drug store, but it will reduce such illegal drug use to a more manageable size.


This Day in History

On this day in 1973, the last American ground troops left Viet Nam. Not exactly a defeat (at that point) because we had signed a peace treaty, but we had clearly grown tired of the war and wanted out. South Viet Nam was in reasonably good military shape and they defeated a determined North Viet Nam invasion thereafter, with our Air Force's help. The real betrayal came two years later when we, because of the back stabbing Democrats in Congress, did not provide air cover or even resupply when North Viet Nam invaded again, this time successfully. That transmuted our withdrawal with a slightly tarnished honor into a undeniable defeat.


Thought of the Day

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?

Jean Cocteau

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


The Best 'Heist' Movies

MSN has a short history of the Heist movie and a list of the good ones, with which list I have no problem. Something in the back of my mind says that an important one has been left out, but nothing has fought its way to consciousness. The Lavender Hill Mob, The Ladykillers, Topkapi? Nah. I'd leave Ocean's Twelve off the list. The 35 minutes of no dialogue as the burglars break into the apartment in Rififi is superb; the rest of the movie, not so good. But then I'm partial to movies that tell a compelling story without dialogue, like in Blow-Up. Also the single take 15 minute robbery in Gun Crazy is really quite impressive.


Andrew Card Resigns

Is Andy Card the one who sounds like he's always doing a John Kennedy impersonation? I'm with Powerline--a big truck driving past the White House would cause a bigger "shake-up."


A Literary Giant Passes

Yesterday, on my site meter, I was getting hits for my bitter complaint that Stanislaw Lem had not received the Nobel Prize for Literature (too late now) when I asked, "Has Stanislaw Lem died and nobody told me?" So, I knew before it was reported that the great Polish writer, author of at least 7 genius class novels, had died at age 84 of a heart aliment. I'm not sad, it was a good long life and about 25 novels, most good and several great. Most are science fiction, serious, reality based science fiction (if that's not too weird a conjunction of words) but Lem hated the label. If you don't like science fiction, try his first novel, The Hospital of the Transfiguration, about the Nazi invasion of Poland. It is heartbreaking without being completely dismal. His best books, I think, are, in no particular order: The Futurological Congress, Solaris, The Chain of Chance, The Cyberiad, His Masters' Voice, Imaginary Magnitude, and Fiasco. I also liked one of the Pirx tales, about moon landing simulation. Very funny. Best to stay away from the movies made of his works, though.

OK, I'm a little sad.


Doubling Down

I made the prediction at the start of the Zacarias Moussaoui penalty phase that he could escape the death penalty. For a bit there, that prediction was looking good. How was I to know he would take the stand and commit suicide by testimony? But there still is a chance of error in the snafu of the off again, on again testimony by the transportation department witnesses. Therefore, I am saying still he will not be executed due to something about that decision.


Not Good News for Ray Nagin

A federal District Judge, Ivan Lemelle, has refused to postpone the New Orleans mayoral election, which remains scheduled for April 22, 2006. With the able citizens returned and somewhat aware of the supreme screw-up Nagin was half a year ago, he appears a little toast like to me, unless he can magically repopulate the 9th Ward in the next 25 days. I'm probably counting my chickens before they roost, but it couldn't happen to a less nice guy. He still has a chance with absentee ballots.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 193 AD, the Emperor Pertinax, aged 66, was murdered by the Praetorian (or Palace) Guards who then auctioned off the throne to the highest bidder. Didius Julianas becomes Emperor of Rome for the top bid of 25,000 sestertii per man. He is killed by the Guards two months later.

And we think our politics is rough.


Thought of the Day

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator, 1890

Monday, March 27, 2006


Senate Version of Immigration Reform

Panty waist, nancy boy doesn't begin to describe the version of immigration reform that passed out of committee today in the Senate. Thanks Arlen Specter, Lindsey Graham, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Mike DeWine of Ohio. Way to stand with the party.

Here is but one example, the rest are too painful to relate: The bill would double the Border Patrol and authorizes a "virtual wall" of unmanned vehicles, cameras and sensors to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border.

A virtual wall would be just fine if we were dealing with virtual illegal aliens.

I'm for more legal immigration (the Kennedy addition) if we actually stop the illegal variety. Line jumpers go to the end of the line. In Mexico. Not virtually, really.

And it looks like the national ID card is a couple of steps closer. I'm old enough to be OK with that. Younger paranoids might bridle a little


Short TV Post

OK, I gave it a chance, but the new Dr. Who is just not cutting it. First, the great Ron Granier composition for opening and closing credits music has gone through several new but not improved versions and this one is the worst of the lot--it's like the Muzak version of the Dr. Who theme. The new side kick is OK, if you like slightly pretty, chubby blonde Cockney slaterns (at least she's not as bad as Sarah the whiner from the early Tom Baker days). There's no K-9. There seems a complete lack of long multicolor scarves. None of the shows have been the least bit funny (try as they might) and the writing overall has been abysmal if not downright plagaristic of better (Douglas Adams) days, as the earth death one was remarkably like the Restaurant and the End of the Universe without the wit. "Eddies in the space time continuum" would be very welcome indeed.

OK, the good things. I kind of like Christopher Eccleston despite his asymmetrical ping pong paddle sized ears, and his racist dismissal of Rose's black boyfriend. (I put it down to jealousy). There's been liberal use of the sonic screwdriver. The special effects are a little bit better, and the explosions are much superior. The metal spiders were truly scary. Oh, and the new side kick, Rose, is a slightly pretty, chubby blonde Cockney slattern; and is it just me or are there sexual vibes happening between her and the doc? He's always been fond of his young, pretty, female sidekicks but in a more fatherly way; although I always imagined that Baker and Romana 1 were getting it on regularly with some spanking, humiliation and bondage of Romana 1. Again, that's probably just me.

All in all, the current version of the series is like Brooks Brothers--fond memories of past quality, but living off its reputation and no longer delivering the goods.


This Day in History

On this day in 1965 (Good Friday), south central Alaska was rocked by a great earthquake (Richter scale 8.3-8.5) releasing over twice the energy of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It was felt on land over an area of almost 1,300,000 sq km. The death toll was only 131 (because so few people live in Alaska), but property damage was very high. The earthquake tilted an area of at least 120,000 sq km. Some landmasses were thrust up locally as high as 25 m; elsewhere land sank as much as 2.5 metres. Extensive coastal damage resulted from submarine landslides and tsunamis. Tsunami damage reached Crescent City, Calif. Tens of thousands of aftershocks indicated that the region of faulting extended about 1,000 km.

(h/t Today in Science History)


Thought of the Day

The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, "Is there a meaning to music?" My answer would be, "Yes." And "Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?" My answer to that would be, "No."

Aaron Copland

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Stairway to Purgatory

The only slightly sloppy Page guitar solo in Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven has been voted the best guitar solo ever. Really? Who was voting? 5th grade girls attending Sunday School?

Oh, no. Almost 2,000 readers of Total Guitar magazine, including music teachers and professional guitarists, voted in the poll. Well, if it's readers of a magazine no one has ever heard of, then it's OK.

Don't get me wrong, I like Stairway to Heaven and the solo, especially the end; but there's been some music made since that song came out. Some of it, including the guitar solos, have overtaken the masters. I'd also feel better about this vote if Page had ever been able to reproduce even a close copy of the solo on any live album. He could not. He certainly never did it better live.

Here are the results of the vote:

Top 10 guitar solos
1) Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
2) Van Halen - Eruption
3) Guns N' Roses - Paradise City
4) The Eagles - Hotel California
5) Metallica - Enter Sandman
6) Cream - Crossroads
7) Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
8) Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train
9) Free - All Right Now
10) Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

Many of these are outrages. Notice the total lack of Jeff Beck. And those voters call themselves guitar fans.


The Answer is Not 42

I have a question for the atheists out there, and you know who you are, Mark. The current cosmological theory is that, about 15 billion years ago, the universe went from a hot very dense marble to roughly the current universe in a trillionth of a second, if not less. What then is the difference, really, between that current theory and the two words of the Vulgate, fiat lux?

I'm serious.


Silencing the Critics

Representative for the counties just a few yards south of where I type in the dark, Tom Tancredo (R-CO) was on This Week and did only OK, even against Senator Arlen Specter (R?-PA). He started strong, saying merely that he wanted to enforce the law, but then got a little wordy. I'm a strong supporter of calling illegal aliens line jumpers--a concept we all know and really dislike. Anyway, he was followed by the round table with Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the looney leftist The Nation, a woman I'm beginning really to hate. And now I know why.

It's not just that she's an ardent socialist when history tells us socialism most often delivers a generalized misery, but she tries to silence the other side with hateful epithets. It is a tactic most often employed by the left and it is despicable. Katrina compared Tancredo's desire to enforce our immigration laws to the racial and ethnic hatred of David Duke; then, if that wasn't enough, she called the Republican desire (such as it is) to stem illegal activity xenophobia. Way to go, Katrina! Elevate the debate with assigning the most hateful motives to the other side. When I call her a socialist, she should agree and embrace the 'epithet' but no one wants to be compared favorably to Klan leaders--even former Klan leaders like Senator Byrd (D-WV).

I don't know what new legislation will 'fix' the illegal immigration problem and I certainly don't know what the political ramifications of that legislation will be, but I'm with Jim 'Pinko' Pinkerton, a fence will be built and the huge gatherings of illegal aliens in many of our large cities this past week cemented it.

UPDATE: Along with the line jumper comparison for illegal aliens, I also support Pinkerton's analogy of legal immigration as taking each country's first round draft picks. Yea, that sounds right.


Afghani Christian Convert Freed

The Afghan man, who had converted to Christianity, Abdul Rahman, has had the prosecution, in which he faced the death penalty for his conversion, dismissed, according to the AP. Hallelujah! The court said there were evidentiary gaps. I doubt that. I hope we hear the real reason soon.

Mark Steyn, as usual, writes well in a clear eyed assessment of the matter that really isn't any comfort at all. Money quotes:

There's talk of various artful compromises, such as Rahman being declared unfit to stand trial by reason of insanity on the grounds that (I'm no Islamic jurist so I'm paraphrasing here) anyone who converts from Islam to Christianity must ipso facto be out of his tree.

On the other hand, this "moderate" compromise solution is being rejected by leading theologians. Let this guy Rahman cop an insanity plea and there goes the neighborhood. "We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," says Abdul Raoulf of the nation's principal Muslim body, the Afghan Ulama Council. "Cut off his head! We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left." Needless to say, Imam Raoulf is one of Afghanistan's leading "moderate" clerics.

For what it's worth, I'm with the Afghan Ulama Council in objecting to the insanity defense. It's not enough for Rahman to get off on a technicality. Afghanistan is supposed to be "the good war," the one even the French supported, albeit notionally and mostly retrospectively. Karzai is kept alive by a bodyguard of foreigners. The fragile Afghan state is protected by American, British, Canadian, Australian, Italian, German and other troops, hundreds of whom have died. You cannot ask Americans or Britons to expend blood and treasure to build a society in which a man can be executed for his choice of religion. You cannot tell a serving member of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Kandahar that he, as a Christian, must sacrifice his life to create a Muslim state in which his faith is a capital offense.

But the whole thing is great.


This Day in the History of Science

On this day in 1986, in Pripet, Russia, the Chernobyl nuclear plant blew up in the world's worst civil nuclear catastrophe which sent a cloud of radioactive dust over European Russia and the Ukraine. It was the result of a poorly executed experiment, causing the fourth reactor to explode and melt down. Thirty-one people, mostly firemen, were killed immediately after the explosion, and scores more - those involved in the clean-up and children - have since died from radiation-related illnesses. I guess the lesson learned is not to conduct experiments at a nuclear power plant.


Thought of the Day

Pull my chin, stroke my hair, scratch my nose, hug my knees
Try drink, food, cigarette, tension will not ease
I tap my fingers, fold my arms, breathe in deep, cross my legs
Shrug my shoulders, stretch my back - but nothing seems to please
I need contact
I need contact
Nothing seems to please
I need contact

Peter Gabriel in I Have the Touch

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Why I Don't Like Carville and Begala

They're ugly and they lie. They lie like other people sleep--every day and for long periods. I remember hearing the normal fare from Carville, when he was being bested by Laura Ingraham on the Today show earlier this week (despite the David Gregory tag team). He said, at about 3:17 into the Expose the Left clip, three statements of questionable truthfulness in a very short period. First he said former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was "on the ground" in Iraq when in fact Allawi left Iraq shortly after he was nearly killed by a crowd at a mosque in Baghdad, and then voted out in December, 2005. Carville would not let facts stand in the way of his opinion and would not be corrected by Laura Ingraham, who knew better. Then Carville repeated something from the widely questioned poll by James Zogby. But he saved the best for last, Carville said: "...Martin Van Creveld, who is the foremost military historian in the world, says this is the most foolish military operation since Caesar Augustus, in 9 BC, invaded Germany. I assume he knows what he's talking about." Assume what you want, James, but that doesn't make it true.

Begala, it turns out, said about the same thing about the obscure professor Martin Van Creveld, whom he called "one of the most esteemed military historians in the world." I guess we should be thankful for the qualifier "one of" But I still ask, What? I read military history all the time, and I've never heard of this guy.

Here is a partial list of Van Creveld's World eteemed work. World's foremost military historian my ass.

And don't get me started on the non-foolish nature of the fighting in Germany by Roman troops in 9 BC, the Teutobergwald massacre notwithstanding, because comparing Teutobergwald to the Coalition's incredible success in Iraq would of course reveal that you are one of the World's dumbest military historians as well as one of the least known. Besides, it was Varus who lost the legions, not Augustus.


This is Going to Hurt

Robert Novak, who is right more often than he is wrong, reports today:

Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has advised friends that he has no derogatory information about former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and is not implicating him as part of his plea bargain with federal prosecutors.

Democrats who can see through the partisan hate fog, and who, therefore, know that the surviving charges against DeLay in Texas are a mockery and a sham, were always counting on the second shoe to drop, an indictment for some sort of misdeeds regarding evil lobbyist Jack Abramoff. If that doesn't happen, as Novak says it won't, and the charges are dismissed or DeLay is otherwise acquitted in Texas, he emerges with a clean bill of ethical health and a chance at regaining a leadership role in the House.

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday which I believe said, "Have you seen Tom DeLay's ethics lately?" That's just a little sign of the investment the Democrats have made in faux charges and rumor and innuendo. Not exactly a sound investment.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 30 AD, the Good Thief, Dismas, is crucified (along with the bad thief, Gestas, oh, and Jesus). See Luke 23: 39-43. The last time I went to Mass (which was quite a while ago, I'm afraid to admit) they called these two guys revolutionaries instead of thieves. What's up with that? (Luke just says criminals). Isn't it a little weird too that the date of Jesus' crucifixion is different each year (Good Friday--this year April 14) while the death of this guy is put at March 25, 30 AD. Yet Jesus and Dimas both died on the same day. I guess the traveling date of your death goes with the privileges of being God. That's a little flip, but it is weird. Oh, and Dismas is a Saint, patron of death row prisoners et al. Good choice. Is it blasphemy to ask what he did for sainthood, other than speak well of our Lord as they both were executed?


Thought of the Day

Noli simul flare sobereque.


Don't whistle and drink at the same time.

Friday, March 24, 2006


They're All Jayson Blairs Now

The New York Times has had to admit that it unknowingly published false stories twice in the past few weeks. They published a long story about the guy claiming to be the Abu Ghraib poster boy (the figure, arms akimbo, in a black bag and hood). He wasn't. They also had a long story about a Katrina 'survivor' who turned out not to have been in the storm in any way. Add to that the seditious, criminal behavior of publishing secrets--rendition flights, European prisons, NSA signal intelligence. I know from my own now and again analyses that their editorials often contain basic factual errors. And we're not even talking about the bias of what they choose not to cover.

Accelerating fall for the former paper of record? I hope so. Couldn't happen to less nice guys.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 268 AD, Claudius II Gothicus is proclaimed Emperor of Rome. If you collect Roman coins, you might well have one with this fellow's name and face on it as he minted vast quantities of coins.


Thought of the Day

Laudant illa sed ista legunt.


They praise these, but they read those.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Happy Ending

The Christian Peace activists who survived their kidnapping were freed yesterday in a joint military operation by British, American and Canadian forces. No shots were fired, but no kidnappers found. The three men were rescued. Hooray!

There are lots of thanks, and sadness over Tom Fox's death a few weeks ago, being voiced by the British officials and families of the former kidnappees. Pretty much expected. What does the organization to which the newly freed men belong say?

Harmeet, Jim and Norman and Tom were in Iraq to learn of the struggles facing the people in that country. They went, motivated by a passion for justice and peace to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation wracked by armed conflict. They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers. We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end. (Emphasis added).

What happened to 'thank you'? Not a word of thanks for the rescuers in the statement.

Now, as I've written about over the months, I would like to know how it came to pass that the kidnapping of the four took place at the exact place the Italian Giuliana Sgrena was kidnapped. Tough to believe it was mere coincidence.


This Day in Ancient History

This was the Roman Holiday (like they needed another one) Terminalia -- a festival in honour of Terminus, the divinity who presided over boundaries. In Rome itself, Terminus had a shrine within the Temple of Jupiter beneath an opening in the roof because, it is said, when they were building the Temple of Jupiter, Terminus refused to move. What happened in the city is unclear, but the rustic version of the festival involved something like ... at boundary stones, farmer families would gather and build a turf altar; a fire would be built and one of the younger members of the family would throw grain in the fire three times. Others offered other things like honeycombs and wine, then a sheep or pig would be sacrificed and a feast would follow.

(h/t Rogueclassicism)


Thought of the Day

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is To have an ungrateful child. (KIng Lear, Act I, Scene iv, line 295)

William Shakespeare

Wednesday, March 22, 2006



I just conducted a poll at least as valid as the one John Zogby did in Iraq recently. I only asked one question: What is the capitol of South Africa? The majority answered Johannesburg (actually the majority didn't know). So, now do South African government employees have to relocate from Pretoria, Capetown and (to a lesser degree) Bloemfontein to the big city (but definitely not the capitol) of Johannesburg? Of course not.

I guess polls about what people plan to do, like vote for a candidate, are reasonable and helpful. Polls about satisfaction are pretty worthless unless it leads to who they will vote for. But polls about facts--Will there be a Civil War in Iraq? What is the capitol of South Africa? are just complete wastes of time. Could the mere belief of a majority make the thing true or the prediction more likely. NO. Why ask them then?

Ann Coulter has a slightly more sophisticated look at the irrelevance of polls.


A Glimpse of the Magnitude of the Problem

Yesterday, four vans overturned or crashed on snowy roads to the east of Denver and slightly injured their passengers, who appear to be 48 illegal aliens. On Monday, two other vehicles spun out or rolled over in the snow and, in the 6 auto accidents, a total of 113 suspected illegal aliens were taken into custody. I assume there were unreported vehicles involved in weather related accidents out on the snow blown plains of Colorado in the past few days, so it's not like the only vehicles out there are full of illegal aliens, but I don't think I'm the only one out here who finds that randomly discovered number of illegal aliens huge. The story mentions Colorado's 'key role' as a crossroads of illegal alien transportation, but the reporter used the euphemism 'undocumented workers.'

As Robert Johnson sang, "I got the crossroad blues this mornin', Lord, baby I'm sinkin' down."


Success and Failure in Iraq

Yesterday, 100 'insurgents' staged a raid on a jail in Muqdadiyah (about 25 miles from the Iranian frontier and 60 miles northeast of Baghdad), and in two hours they lost 10 dead, killed 20 fellow Iraqis and freed 33 prisoners of which 18 were formerly incarcerated fellow 'insurgents.'

This morning in Madain, about 14 miles southeast of Baghdad, 60 of the same sort of fighters attacked a police station, killed 4 Iraqi policemen, but were hung up by strong opposition, and then were trapped by combined US/Iraqi troops coming to the rescue and most (around 50) were captured, apparently without much of a fight, as none were killed. Which of these two actions will capture the lion's share of press coverage over the next few hours and days?

But here is the pretty undeniable proof of the bias in the overall coverage of the Iraq front, the story not covered. On Monday nearly 4 million Iraqis completed their travels from all over Iraq (but mainly from Baghdad 80 miles away) to Karbala for the final day of the 40 days of mourning for Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Unto Him). We've seen these guys over the years--they cut their hairlines with big knives; they whip themselves with chains. In 2004, coordinated explosions of planted bombs, mortar attacks and suicide bombers killed at least 180 of the pilgrims. This year, a drive-by shooting wounded 5. This is an overwhelming success for the Iraqi security forces guarding the pilgrims and a huge indication that Civil War is not actually, well, happening. So of course it doesn't get nearly the coverage the jail raid did.


This Day in Ancient History

Kind of a dark period of the Roman Empire begins on this day in 235 AD and lasts for 50 years. Emperor Severus Alexander, merely 26, is murdered by his troops near Moguntiacum (Mainz), Germany. Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus, known as Maximinus Thrax (he was from Thrace--European Turkey) takes over as Emperor of Rome. The period, known is the Age of the Soldier Emperors, is marked by constant struggle of Generals to win the support of the local Legions, assassinate the leader no longer beloved by his troops and then avoid the fate of the predecessor. Many Emperors come and go in this period.


Thought of the Day

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

Albert Schweitzer

But he neglected to say whom to serve. Thanks for the tip, doc.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Signs of a Civil War Coming

You know if the media around the globe are desperate for there to be a Civil War, and it doesn't look like it's quite happening in Iraq, they could start reporting on the growing political violence in Gaza, which seems to have all the earmarks of a Lebanese type Civil War to me. But, of course, I'm not eager for there to be a Civil War anywhere, so maybe it's just the brink of a Civil War in Gaza. Money quotes:

Gunmen stormed the main government compound in Gaza, opening fire randomly in the air and battling police.
A gun battle broke out when gunmen blocked a main road and attacked a convoy going to meet the police chief.
Members of an armed affiliate of the mainstream Fatah party, which lost recent polls, are protesting over jobs.
There were at least five attempts by members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to disrupt government activities on Monday - a day after the victorious Islamist group Hamas named its new cabinet.
The most serious was when about 30 militants charged the foreign and finance ministries and exchanged fire with security forces.
Two gunmen and two security officials were wounded - one of them hit by stray bullets in the legs as other employees ran for cover.

Mmy guess, however, is that we'll hear very little about a Palestinian Civil War. Unless the reporters can figure a way to blame it on the current administration.


A Minor Synthesis

It's difficult for the faux military bloggers (like me), the middle aged lawyers, who never served a day in the military, to speak with authority about the war against militant islamicims and its central front in Iraq. We've never even been to Iraq. So we cannot say the guys there are wrong, at least not with a lot of credibility. But I continue to say we have already won in Iraq and the conjunction of these observations below just make me believe it all the more.

At today's Wall Street Journal's blog, Christopher Hitchens, who has been often to Iraq, writes:

In February 2004, our Kurdish comrades in northern Iraq intercepted a courier who was bearing a long message from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to his religious guru Osama bin Laden. The letter contained a deranged analysis of the motives of the coalition intervention ("to create the State of Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates" and "accelerate the emergence of the Messiah"), but also a lethally ingenious scheme to combat it. After a lengthy and hate-filled diatribe against what he considers the vile heresy of Shiism, Zarqawi wrote of Iraq's largest confessional group that: "These in our opinion are the key to change. I mean that targeting and hitting them in their religious, political and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies . . . and bare the teeth of the hidden rancor working in their breasts. If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis as they feel imminent danger." (Emphasis added).

From Wretched (Richard Hernandez) at the Belmont Club, a real military blog:

Politically what's interesting is how the narrative has changed. Nobody is talking about the Sunni insurgency succeeding any more. Even the press hardly makes the claim of an insurgency on the brink of success. As late as November 2005, the Daily Kos was boasting: "The occupation is exacerbating terrorism in the country. America is losing, the insurgency is winning. Maybe we should say, 'has won.'" But by the December 2005 elections this view could no longer be held by anyone with the slightest regard for the facts...

Instead of insurgency the talking points have changed to how Sunnis might soon become victims of an ethnically hostile Iraqi army in a Civil War. Going from a boast of conquest to a portrayal of victim is usually an indicator of something. In my view, the shift of meme from the "insurgency" to a "civil war" is a backhanded way of admitting the military defeat of the insurgency without abandoning the characterization of Iraq is an American fiasco. It was Zarqawi and his cohorts themselves who changed the terms of reference from fighting US forces to sparking a 'civil war'. With any luck, they'll lose that campaign too. (Emphasis added).

And Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail has these observations:

We argue the definition of civil war is far too broad, as armed conflict within a state is not the sole indicator of civil war. Key indicators of a civil war would include the breakdown of the political process and an unwillingness of the opposing parties to negotiate, the factionalization of the military and security institutions, and open warfare between the various parties. It is for these reasons we provided the indicators of a civil war in Iraq after the destruction of the dome of the Golden Mosque in Samarra.

So far, we have seen little indications of these signs coming to pass. Yes, the political process is slow and painful, and counterproductive to quelling the violence, but there is progress. Yes, there is an insurgency in Iraq, but it is being fought by the Iraqi government alongside with the Coalition forces. Yes, there is sectarian violence, but this violence is not sanctioned by the government of Iraq, or the political or religious leaders. Yes, there are armed militias and rogue elements within the security services, but the majority of the Iraqi politicians recognize the threat they pose and are working to diminish the power of militias.

The only sobering thought I have is that Iraq might well be the easy campaign in this long struggle.


This Day in the History of Science

On this day in 1877, Louis Pasteur begins work on virulent anthrax bacteria in his laboratory in Lille, France. With his assistants, the anthrax was cultured for a number of years, resulting in the production of the first vaccine for what was otherwise a fatal disease.

(h/t Today in Science History)


Thought of the Day

I've had a wonderful time, but this wasn't it.

Groucho Marx

Monday, March 20, 2006


Latest Word on Operation Swarmer

No firefights, no bombs, no casualties but several prisoners were captured, as were enemy munitions. Additionally, new intelligence was obtained, a new form of fighting (now that the air assault capable 101st is back in Iraq) was practiced. Good cooperation between US and Iraqi forces occurred and the enemy now knows that 1500 US/Iraqi troops can suddenly turn up anywhere in the country. That knowledge can't be providing them comfort. So all in all, not John Wayne, but not bad at all. Indeed, I hope all our operations go that well.

Of course nothing is good enough for the MSM in Iraq. Great story on that aspect at by W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

Exhibit 1 of what Mr. Smith is complaining about is this whiny bitch number from the Nation.


Thought of the Day

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

T. E. Lawrence


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 43 AD, the great poet Ovid, Publius Ovidius Naso, is born in Sulmo, to a family with money. Sulmo is now known as Sulmona and is about 75 miles east northeast from Rome.

Also on this day but in 59 AD, Agrippina Minor is killed through the order of her son, the Emperor Nero, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. See Acts 25: 10-12. The Caesar mentioned there is Nero.


Why I Remain Optimistic About '06 Elections

I know the polls are terrible for the Republicans, support for the war in Iraq is waning, and they are ignoring the border problem and borrowing and spending like there's no tomorrow, but I still think that we on the right side of the political aisle will pick up seats in both the House and Senate in 2006, and I think this because we Republicans have a not so secret weapon. That weapon is the Democrat Party.

This opinion piece, by Peter Brown over at RealClearPolitics makes me even more sure of Republican success. The Democrats won't even face their problem--no support by the majority of Americans. All they can do is scheme to pick up votes around the margins. That's not how winners do it.

Also the trend lines of American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan is down (that's good); the economy is going great (stock market should be exceeding old record highs in October) and there's just the chance that Republicans will stumble onto at least a faux fiscal responsibility and a tightening of border security in the next 6 months. It could happen.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


The Incredible Shrinking Peace Movement

Since I lived about 100 miles south of Washington DC in the late 60s early 70s and went to school across the bay from UC Berkeley from 1971-75, I was aware of or at some of the larger of the anti-Viet Nam War protests. the largest of which, with perhaps 700,000 people, was in November, 1969 (and I watched them fade to background noise as we shipped our troops back to the World by mid 1973). President Kennedy started our troop involvement (with advisors) in Viet Nam shortly after he entered office and his VP actually started sending in soldiers (up to 500,000) starting in March, 1965, but the real war protests (except at Berkeley) didn't come until 1967 and then they just kept getting bigger. There was a delay between troops deployed and the big anti-war rallies against the war in Viet Nam.

In the several months of our well telegraphed punch at Saddam Hussein more than 3 years ago, there were millions of people across the World, protesting our Coalition's completing Gulf War 1. Today, all over America, on the third anniversary of the start of Gulf War 2, the anti-war protestors measured in the tens and hundreds and no where in America reached a thousand. Around the globe, the protests have a hundredth of the numbers they had before the war. The DC mall was nearly protestor free today. So the protests grew with Viet Nam; they've shrunk with Iraq.

What if they gave a war protest and nobody came?

What's the deal? Are the pacifists staying home in numbers because of the college basketball tournament? Is it too harsh a very late Winter day? (It was cold in November 1969 in DC). Do the anarchists have to get up early to go to work? Puzzling?

How about this for an explanation? There are no protestors, or very few, because they finally get that it's too late. The war is being waged and the only disaster we could face is losing our nerve and pulling out early--the sin of Onan on a moral, rather than a sexual plane. You'd think with the polls showing growing dissatisfaction with the President's handling of the war, there would have been a few more of those intellectually stimulating Chimpy McBushHitler signs out there. They really make you think, you know.

Is it possible that it's not the anti-war snow ball rolling down the mountain the MSM portrays the national mood to be? Just asking.

UPDATE: OK Portland had 10,000 protestors. Good job. Still a little short of the million plus across the nation on October 15, 1969, not that I'm saying we were cooler in the 60s (our clothes were actually worse).


Friday Movie Review (late again)

Went with Sheila to Tristram Shandy etc. playing at the Esquire and had a good time. The trailers for this somewhat old movie (2005) tout it as a move of the unfilmable book (very early--1760--serialized novel by Laurence Sterne) of the same name, but not the same subtitle. My observation is of course you could film it. There it is. The question is why would you want to? I have forgotten whole sections of the book which I read 30 some years ago, and I didn't actually like it all that much then. The lead actor (Steve Coogan) says into the camera that it is the first post-modern novel except that it was long before any modern period to come after. Let's just say the novel is sui generis and not everyone's cup of tea. Pretty much the same for the movie, but...

Like I say, I had a good time watching it. The director is Michael Winterbottom who did the great 24 Hour Party People. It's pretty much in the same style with the same actor talking into the camera, and the same hit or miss sense of humor. The book is labeled a comic novel but that's not how I remember it. The movie, on the other hand is very funny in places--the womb shots and the hot chestnut down the pants being the best bits (although the seductive Naomi Harris talking about the greater significance of the battle scenes of Lancelot du Lac by Robert Bresson and anything significant about Rainer Werner Fassbinder movies was pretty darn funny too-- Angst Essen Seele Auf my ass). This is a film about making a film (like Day for Night) and it has the easy camaraderie all good British movies seem to have lately. The upshot of the making a movie about making a movie is that it captured, I think, the experimental, even playful nature of Sterne (who was admittedly before his time) better, far better than a straight page by page adaptation.

Steve Coogan is great--he reveals more of himself than I have seen any actor do in a long time and it's not always a pretty picture. Vain, petty, self absorbed, foolish, and those are his good characteristics. He does redeem himself with a brief scene with his girlfriend's baby, his son. He comforts and changes the crying baby and then sings 'My Bonnie lies over the ocean' to him until he goes back to sleep. As he said of the father of Tristram, Walter Shandy, two seconds shown holding the child will make up for everything else he did; and it's true.

I liked the actress, Shirley Henderson, playing the actress playing the servant Susannah. Most people will remember her as Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter films, but I liked her best as the alcoholic light Opera singer (Leonora Braham--Yum Yum) in the movie about Gilbert & Sullivan, Topsy-Turvy, which is a must see. After you've seen her in that, the, uh, distinctive voice she has sounds pure sex, at least it does to me. I don't react to it exactly like Pavlov's dog (which is actually shown in the movie), but something like it.

I also have to apologize to Sheila for telling her that the Siege of Namur took place during the War of the Spanish Succession (which turns out to have been waged 1701 to 1714). It certainly was not; the siege Uncle Toby could never get over occurred in 1695 during the 9 Years War, also known as the War of the Grand Alliance and the War of the English Succession (among others). Sorry for the misinformation; it took me a while to put my finger on it.


Not Good News

Former Prime Minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, has said that the only way to describe the situation in Iraq is Civil War. In context, he was focusing on the civilian casualties (50 to 60 per day) and said there were no other words for that many internecine deaths. I guess he's right in a technical sense. I still remember Ralph Peters saying he's traveling around Baghdad and seeing children playing in the streets, not civil war. I still remain buoyed by that observation, but I believe that there were children playing in the streets of Washington DC and Richmond, VA in 1864. Those were different times though. I don't believe there were children playing in the streets of Beirut on Christmas, 1975 and the only children playing in the streets of Kinshasa on July 4, 1997 and in Monrovia on July 4, 2003 were carrying AKs and playing at shooting people.

George Will is gloomy (but that may be because we got whooped in international baseball). Chuck Hegel says we've already lost but we can't quit, the opposite of what I say. The Secretary of Defense is only marginally upbeat. Who am I to say those smart guys are wrong? So let's assume some of them are right; there's a low grade civil war going on in Iraq and a tough row for us to hoe just when were getting sick of the whole thing.

But we've been down before. Think of March, 1942. The Germans had an unbroken string of victories from France to the doorsteps of Moscow and Leningrad and had not yet faced defeat in Egypt or the turning of the tide at Stalingrad. The Japanese had expanded their empire at an amazing rate and we, the British, and Dutch had lost big to them everywhere they attacked, and we had not yet even launched the morale building airstrike led by Jimmy Doolittle or fought to the rough tie in the Coral Sea. My dad used to say that in his neck of the backwoods, people at that time would sometimes greet each other with 'Heil Hitler, in case we lose'. Although a tough time was ahead back then, we and the Soviets et al. went on to slaughter the Nazis and Imperial Japanese and it was a good thing we did. When did we begin to talk about giving up because it's hard? Jeez. I guess Viet Nam still is the model of defeat we embrace. I suppose I'm gloomy too, but our armed forces are so good, only we can defeat ourselves.

Christopher Hitchens made a good point on This Week; he said that freeing Iraq from horrible despotism and stopping and isolating al Qaeda in Iraq, and making them seem the bad guys they clearly are, would be worth all the effort, money and lives we've spent. Right.

UPDATE: I've thought about this more and I see that I've been caught up in the instant gratification thing again. Saddam Hussein looted the country at the expense of the infrastructure for a quarter century, we bombed them twice (and we're pretty good at that) and we expect them, within just three years, to be like Germany and Japan in 1955. Patience, my friends. If we don't quit, we (the Coalition and the Iraqis) will get there.


Thought of the Day

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Prisoners in Europe Keep Turning up Dead

Victor Davis Hanson, a great military historian, has a fine article at the National Review's blog about the Europeans' record regarding Yugoslavian war crimes compared to our treatment of prisoners in the current war. I love it when clear minds reveal startling hypocrisy. Money quotes:

The prison at Guantanamo Bay was designed to interrogate terrorists and jihadists swept up from the battlefield: the idea was to keep them as prisoners of war in a war that was undeclared, and as enemy combatants without uniforms or officers. It had a no-win mandate, and will probably close soon due to international outcries about its supposed barbarity. Yet, for all the fury about its existence, not a single detainee has died there in over four years of operation.

In contrast, the European Milosevic just dropped dead while under custody of the U.N. at the postmodern tribunal at The Hague. This follows the recent suicide of Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic, likewise an inmate in a European detention center.

Few in Europe said much about the deaths of such high-profile prisoners, whose barbarity differed from that of many of the killers in Guantanamo mostly in order of magnitude. If American Rambos can keep alive Muslim jihadists, with their radically different customs, religion, languages, and diets, why cannot the more sensitive Europeans ensure that fellow Europeans don't drop dead in their jails?

We often hear about how incompetent the Iraqis, under American tutelage, have been in trying Saddam Hussein. After all, his trial is only in its initial stages, two years after he was captured. But compared to the more illustrious court of The Hague, Saddam's trial is racing along at a rapid clip. Before his sudden death, Milosevic had been in court for four years without a verdict. In terms of utopian international jurisprudence, the reprobate Milosevic died a free man, at his last breath still innocent until proven guilty.

The public wonders why the incompetent Americans can't catch Osama bin Laden, or at least Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Few note that it has been over six years since the collapse of the Serbian rogue regime, and still no one seems to know where either Radovan Karadzic, or his military commander, Ratko Mladic, is hiding inside Europe — not exactly the Sunni Triangle or the borderlands of the Hindu Kush.


As is always the way of the pack, there is a tired conventional wisdom circulating among pundits that the days of American activism are over, and a new, more realistic and multilateral approach — read Euro-like — must correct the neoconservative excesses of the past.

But I wonder: Are we going to look to the European practice of trying war criminals? Should Saddam be transferred to Milosevic's now empty cell? Is the model coalition in Afghanistan all that much more loved or effective than the one in Iraq? Should we shut down Guantanamo and outsource its inmates to The Hague? Have the European police done so much better in hunting down a Mladic or Karadzic than our soldiers have in their more muscular hunt for Osama? And will the United Nations, the EU3, the Russians, and the Chinese, in multilateral fashion, really stop the Iranian nuclear program — or simply stall meaningful action until they can collectively shrug, and sigh, "Oh, well, just another Pakistan, after all"?

And I'll add that if the prisoners at Guantanamo had been housed in Maze prison in Northern Ireland, many of them would have already died from starvation. As it is, none at Guantanamo have died, as Mr. Hanson mentioned, or even been harmed, I add, but we're the bad guys.



Here is a recent, near looney left rant by the NYT which I'll reproduce and intersperse with my comments. Somebody's got to do it.

We understand the frustration that led Senator Russell Feingold to introduce a measure that would censure President Bush for authorizing warrantless spying on Americans. No, the spying is on the foreigners suspected of being with al Qaeda communicating with someone in America. No one knows if that someone in America is an American or another foreigner visiting. It's galling to watch from the outside as the Republicans and most Democrats refuse time and again to hold Mr. Bush accountable for the lawlessness That's a bold charge for which there is not a shred of evidence, just another smear and incompetence of his administration. Yea, I think the intention of the framers was to set up a legislature which was all powerful and could scold and remove poorly performing members of a co-equal branches at a whim. Yea, that idea is clearly in the Federalist Papers. Actually sitting among that cowardly crew must be maddening. So the Congress is cowardly for not doing what Feingold is doing (trying to give 4th Amendment rights to a foreign enemy). See, I told you this was looney left ranting.
Still, the censure proposal is a bad idea. Members of Congress don't need to take extraordinary measures like that now. They need to fulfill their sworn duty to investigate the executive branch's misdeeds and failings. Sworn duty? In the oath of office perhaps? And a repetition of the smear. Talk about censure will only distract the public (and Lord knows how easy it is to distract us poor, dumb citizens) from the failure of their elected representatives to earn their paychecks. Are they talking about the Congress? Who are they talking about? Poorly thought out and poorly written as well.
We'd be applauding Mr. Feingold if he'd proposed creating a bipartisan panel to determine whether the domestic spying (foreign signal intelligence) operation that Mr. Bush has acknowledged violates the 1978 surveillance law, No he didn't. Are the editors aware that the Senate decided to pass on an investigative panel after the Attorney General explained the legality (and the people polled proved overwhelmingly in support of listening to our enemies where we could)? as it certainly seems to do. It only seems wrong to those who haven't read with comprehension the FISA Act, In re Sealed Case: 02:001, Hamdi and the AUMF. If you actually know things, it doesn't seem wrong at all. It actually seems wrong not to try to spy on our enemies and prevent them from attacking and killing us, but maybe that's just I. The Senate should also force the disclosure of any other spying Mr. Bush is conducting outside the law. (Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has strongly hinted that is happening.) Yea, what a good idea! Let's tell the enemy everything we're doing to spy on them. Let's name the agents we have among them, if any exist; let's describe in detail the signal intelligence we're conducting; let's get it all out there in the open so those who think, poorly, this is a good idea, can see if any of it is illegal. Brilliant thinking.
The Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees should do this, but we can't expect a real effort from Senator Pat Roberts, the Intelligence Committee chairman, or Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Because they're Republicans. They're too busy trying to give legal cover to the president's trampling on the law This must refer to FISA and the Constitution. This is harder to call unless they want to give 4th Amendment rights to our foreign enemies, which apparently they do.
When the Republicans try to block an investigation you mean try not to reveal sources and methods of intelligence to the enemy?, as they surely will, we should be so lucky Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, should not be afraid to highlight that fact by shutting down the Senate's public business, as he did last year OK with me and everyone who sees the federal Government (other than the military) as a problem creator rather than a problem solver--stay out all year if you want. This time, though, Mr. Reid needs to follow up. The first time Mr. Reid forced the Senate into a closed session, Mr. Roberts said he would keep his promise about an investigation into the hyping of intelligence on Iraq. But Mr. Roberts continues to sit on that report. I'm not sure what sit on means here, if it means limit the report regarding sources and methods of intelligence to those with the clearance to see it so that our enemy doesn't learn about them, then I'm OK with sitting on it. If they mean it literally, I don't know what to say.
The nation needs to know a great deal more about the domestic spying (foreign signal intelligence)--yea, let's tell the enemy everything, absolutely everything we do. How many people's calls and e-mail were tapped? How were they chosen? Didn't they reveal this, if the communication was with a suspected al Qaeda operative, they listened in. Is the NYT unaware of even the basic facts here? Was Mr. Bush planning to do this until the war on terror ended I hope so--that is, forever? I hope not, but with the Deomcrats revealing sources and methods to the enemy and the NYT calling for more, maybe we will have to fight, hamstrung, forever. The public should be asking why members of Congress are afraid to make those important and legitimate queries. More coward calling from the brave heroes of journalism.
With so much still unknown about the domestic spying, (foreign signal intelligence) when they can't even get the basics right no wonder they come to the exactly wrong conclusion the censure resolution merely allows the Republicans to change the subject to fairy tales about Democratic leaders' trying to impeach Mr. Bush. But aren't the Democrats talking about impeaching Bush? Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you...They are also painting criticism of Mr. Bush as unpatriotic. The same old charge. I still think it's a form of projection; the NYT editors and their ilk know that they are weak on defense so they actually see any criticism of their actions vis a vis the war effort as impugning their patriotism. Let's get this straight. The Democrats are as patriotic as the Republicans, but the Democrats are so wrong and so blind to the deleterious effect they are having on the war effort, that they are actually dangerous and cannot be trusted with control of the government, which they do not now have, thank the Lord. That's tedious nonsense, hello, Pot, Mr. Kettle here; you're black but watching Mr. Feingold's Democratic colleagues run for cover shows how effective it is. Is it possible that the Democrats are running for cover from Feingold's looney stunt, because they have actually read and understood the FISA Act, In re Sealed Case: 02:001, Hamdi and the AUMF, and the polls, and are trying to get reelected in the future? Just asking.


Squid Duty

This is a familiar duty for sailors since the naval ships changed out coal fired boilers for oil fired boilers before WWII. On the left is our rather aged carrier, CNV 65, the USS Enterprise, which is taking on aviation fuel through two sets of hoses (the Big E is nuclear powered, so it doesn't need fuel oil for the boilers). On the right, the FFG 50, the USS Taylor, takes on fuel oil through one set of slightly thicker hoses. The Taylor is a guided missile frigate, and boy, does it look small. Notice that the name of the ship supplying fuel (and bombs, on the fan deck) is the USNS Supply (T-AOE 6). Brilliant. A supply ship named the Supply. Talk about generic names.

Notice too that they're refueling at sea while they sail along fast enough to water ski behind them. The swell looks relatively slight, but there are whitecaps. That just can't be easy.


This Day in Late Renaissance History

On this day in 1584, Russian czar Ivan IV, or Ivan “The Terrible,” dies at age 53.


Thought of the Day

Don't try to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. It can't be done except by liars.

Bernard Baruch

Friday, March 17, 2006


What Liberal Media?

No political agenda here, nothing to see; just move along; no bias detected; OK, folks, just keep moving.

"President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a 'free and peaceful Iraq' that would serve as a 'dramatic and inspiring example' to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide a stabilizing influence in the Middle East and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict."--editorial, New York Times, Feb. 27, 2003

"One prominent neoconservative, Francis Fukuyama, asserts in a new book that the administration embraced democracy as a cornerstone of its policy only after the failure to find unconventional weapons in Iraq. The issue was seized upon to justify the war in retrospect, and then expanded for other countries, he says."--New York Times, March 17, 2006

(h/t James Taranto Best of the Web)


Sniper Patrol

Here's another cool photo in high resolution. Click on it to see the details. The soldier with the binoculars is First Air Cav. The guy with the sniper rifle is 1st Armored Division. They are on the Iraq border with Syria. The sniper rifle is the US M 40 A1, which is just the commercial Remington 700 made available for use by our military. It's in NATO .308 (7.62 x 51 mm) and there appears to be mounted on it, with the high clearance rings necessary, a 10 power Weaver scope with a sunshade on the front. Notice the new hand cuffs on the side of the pack the sniper is using for a rest, although what a sniper needs with hand cuffs, I don't know. The sniper has spray painted his gun sand colored, or so it appears to me.

The M 40 A1 has been our primary sniper weapon since Vietnam where Carlos Hathcock was the top guy with 93 confirmed kills. I've heard some of the snipers in Iraq have passed that record like it was standing still. Don't run, the snipers warn, you'll just be tired when you die.


Continuing the Sweep

Operation Swarmer is in its second day. Not much to report--no battles or casualties, 6 storage sites of weapons found and 40 guys detained (10 quickly released). And no Abu Mussab al Zarqawi (or Izzat Ibrahim). The concentration of hammer (air delivered) and anvil (soldiers in trucks and tracked vehicles) in a 10 mile by 10 mile area, leads me to believe this is a manhunt rather than an area clearer. Let's hope the Iraqi intelligence (they picked the area to air assault) is better than ours.


Poem of the Month


HAVE you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heavens of life; and you're a man reprieved to go, 5
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same,—and War's a bloody game....
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz,— 10
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench,—
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, "Is it all going to happen again?" 15

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack,—
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads, those ashen-grey 20
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the Spring that you'll never forget.

Siegfried Sassoon


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 180 AD, the good Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, Marcus Aurelius for short, dies at age 54 in Vindobona (Vienna). His son, Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus, Commodus for short, age 19, begins 12 years of pretty rotten rule.


Thought of the Day

The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.

Abbie Hoffman

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Air Assault

There are two kinds of people: Those who like and support the 101st (no longer) Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles of Band of Brothers fame; and, those who like and support the 82nd (still) Airborne Division, the All Americans of Those Devils in Baggy Pants lesser fame (the book was written by my cousin, Ross Carter). I'm in the latter category. The 82nd had a longer, tougher, more important WWII career. Oh, and the 82nd guys still train as parachutists.

Although there was a time that jumping out of a perfectly fine airplane, with just a few millimeters (thick) of silk canopy to slow your descent, made some sort of military sense, the Germans, who invented the very idea (Fallshirmjaeger), quit doing it in 1941 after a pyrrhic victory in Crete. That should have told us something. With helicopters, there is absolutely no need for paratroopers, but of course any idiot can ride in a helicopter and get out and walk after the chopper lands. Doing it just right couldn't take more than a few hours practice, could it? So I'm hoping the continuing of the Airborne after the 101st is honorific because they no longer train to jump out of airplanes with parachutes.

Oh, the 101st Screaming Eagles are the main part of Operation Swarmer north of Samarra in Iraq, a combined American Iraqi air assault (they ride in on helicopters) with mobile armored vehicle blocking forces. The hope is that it's an attempt to get Zarqawi. These helicopters are lined up ready to carry the mixture of troops to the target villages north of Samarra.

I pray for the boys' safety and hope for their success.

Click on the photo to the right and it will get bigger. The guy with his back to us is the Screaming Eagle. Notice the black plastic ties on his right in the back loops of his flack jacket. They use those instead of handcuffs. The two guys in old cookie dough camo (6-color desert) are Iraqis. Notice the AK clip pouches on the closest Iraqi soldier's chest. These guys are ready to rock and roll. The still have the easy to pull up to cover their faces scarves/turtlenecks. I'm still dismayed by the need for them to cover their faces. God speed to all.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 37 AD, Emperor Tiberius dies at age 78 and within two day Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, popularly known as Caligula, his nephew, takes over and becomes perhaps the worst of the Roman Emperors. See Matthew 22:17, John 19:12.


Thought of the Day

Multi committunt eadem diverso crimina fato: ille crucem sceleris pretium tulit, hic diadema.


Many commit the same crime and face a different fate: that man gets the cross, this man the crown.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Greek Fire

Whatever it was, it kept Saracen invaders out of Constantinople for a few centuries. Greek Fire was the Dark Ages secret weapon and the recipe was kept so secret, we don't to this day know what it was really or how it was made. It was invented around 672 AD, during the reign of Emperor Constantine IV, by a Greek architect, Kallinikos, who took refuge in Constantinople when his own town, Heliopolis, in Syria, was overrun by Muslim jihadist. The liquid weapon he invented floated on water, clung to any hard surface, could not be extinguished once started, and burned up everything it came in contact with. Wow. That's a weapon. It was most effective at sea against wooden ships.

More than 580 years later, Albertus Magnus wrote, around 1250 AD, a formula which included resin (colophonium), sulfur, saltpeter and linseed oil. However, this is clearly not the feared Greek Fire. It doesn't cling and and the flame this stuff produces doesn't survive a dousing with water. Phosphorus has to be involved, if only for the cannot be extinguished by water part. A more volatile substance than linseed oil, like naphtha, mixed with the some other secret ingredient could have the cling characteristic that the jellied gasoline we call napalm certainly has. Others have stated, as if a fact, that it was a colloidal suspensions of metallic sodium, lithium, or potassium--or perhaps quicklime--in a petroleum base. A colloidal suspension we have some familiarity with is Hollandaise Sauce. Somehow I can't see ancient Byzantines whipping naphtha and sodium over heat until it thickened. The quicklime mentioned contains calcium phosphide which, when exposed to water, puts off phospine (phosphorus hydride, Ph3), which ignites spontaneously. Hmmm. Quicklime and jelied gasoline--what could be more dangerous?

The recipe, it seems, is to be forever secret. Of course, the inhabitants of Constantinople would not have called it Greek Fire as they considered themselves Roman, which they were.


More (Although Slight) Evidence of Collusion

Diomedes in a posting below made a comparison between the Grizzly Man Tim Treadwell and the first casualty among the kidnapped Christian Peace Activists, Tom Fox, who was recently murdered after being held hostage with three others for several months. D. linked to a statement by Mr. Fox. I find this part of the statement below a sort of projection/prediction, and some evidence that, as I've suspected, the Christians plotted with the Muslims to facilitate the kidnapping of the four men.

Mr. Fox wrote well before the kidnapping: We unequivocally reject kidnapping and hostage-taking. In such an event, CPT will attempt to communicate with the hostage-takers or their sponsors and work against journalists' inclination to vilify and demonize the offenders. We will try to understand the motives for these actions, and to articulate them, while maintaining a firm stance that such actions are wrong... We reject the use of violent force to save our lives should we be kidnapped, held hostage, or caught in the middle of a violent conflict situation.

If the other three get killed, the truth will probably die with them. Another reason to root for their safe return (beyond the normal humanitarian reasons).


Oh Canada

I like our nice neighbors to the North, especially the ones in Alberta. I kid the Canadians about the Nancy boy status of their military (50,000 soldiers and sailors for the world's second biggest nation, I mean really) and the general Nancy boy status of their government (until recently). Today there were people on the 16th Street Mall, good hearted people no doubt, handing out boycott Canada fliers with the above seal whacking photo. So I began to like the Canadians more just from that.

Then I read about the new Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) traveling to Afghanistan to visit the Canadian troops there (I wonder how many there are? 30, 100?--but I'm creeping back into kidding status) where he said they won't "cut and run" from their mission and he is prepared to take on "doubters" in Ottawa who question the human cost of the effort. (Ottawa is the Washington DC of Canada). Good show, I thought.

So not all the guys in Canada are Nancy boys (and I don't mean just the hockey players and seal whackers).


Rock Review

Went last night to the Fillmore, to the Dream Theater concert (a band I had hardly heard of before and certainly had not heard before consciously). I was not the oldest guy there, but it was a close run thing. Went with the same crew who went to Porcupine Tree plus 1/8 of the old gourmet club, Scott, whom I have missed. He had some weird thoughts/news? about the double ex fiance (about whom I still think fondly from time to time--more fool I). Mark bought the tickets again. Thanks, old man (he's British). And I had a great time. Did Republican drugs again (Makers Mark bourbon) and for the first set we were 30 yards back and I couldn't make out a single word. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing for a band who chooses as its name a concept from Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse (the only Nobel literature prize the committee regretted publicly). I don't think the lyrics are what makes Dream Theater a compelling and fun concert. Finally, to the review.

It's the quintessential rock band, guitarist, bassist, drummer, keyboardist and singer. They call themselves progressive (like Queensryche and Fates Warning) and stand on the shoulders of giants of that genre: Yes, Genesis, King Crimson. There are other influences (I kept hearing strains of Uriah Heep) and unknown, un-named heavy metal hair bands from the 80s, when this band formed. There's definitely a hard edge to the intelligent music they play. They all had long pants on (which is a good thing) and t shirts (except for the drummer, Mike Portnoy, who wore a Rockies uniform shirt at first). The keyboard player, clean head Jordan Rudess, (central axis rotating Korg, what seemed like an honest to God Moog, and a new touch pad thing ( a Continuum) which I believe I read about in science fiction books in the early 60s) had on BDU pants in woodland camo (doesn't he know Ivory Coast twig camo is the in camo?). The drummer (looking like Stallone in Nighthawks) had the biggest drum kit I have ever seen, almost a complete drum store, and he played machine like (as Carl Plamer does). The 6 string bassist is Asian (tough to call more than that--but based on his name, John Myung, I'll go with French Indochina as region of origin), after a while he began to look a little like the girl out of the TV in the Ring, but he could really play, four fingers running up and down the frets, bending the strings, and four fingers picking them, just amazing. But I have to say the star is guitarist, John Petrucci. There was some discussion early on whether he was a great guitarist or just a fret wanker. By the end of the show I thought real, great guitarist.

The guitarist, bassist and drummer are the core of the band; they met at Berklee Music School in Boston in the mid 80s and formed a band called Majesty (from a Rush lyric, oh, there's another influence) and have gone through a couple of singers and a couple of keyboardists in 9 studio albums and 5 live albums. The current singer, James LaBrie could wail with the best of them, but I began to like it when he left the stage so the musicians could showcase their undeniable talent. The best was when they all played harmonious difficult progressions perfectly. One of my favorite memories, from a concert in 1971, is when Rod Stewart in the Faces came up behind Ron Wood and did the fretwork on the guitar he was playing. Last night Myong and Petrucci traded fretwork duties twice and missed not a note. Everyone smiled. Mike Portnoy throws the sticks up in a twirling arc a lot and then catches them just in time to make the next beat (80% of the time). Very cool show. The tiny bit of criticism is that the core guys rarely dropped into background--they were going all out, all the time and it was slightly numbing and certainly exhausting. But I'd go see these guys again in a heartbeat. Thanks again, Mark.


This Day in Ancient History

This is the ides of March. Ring a bell? On this day in 44 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar was murdered on the steps of Pompey's Theater, where the Senate met, by the conspirators including Brutus and Cassius. Flowers are still placed on his altar in the Forum, in Rome, on this day every year. I wonder who's paying for those flowers?


Thought of the Day

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

William Jennings Bryan

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Oh Allah, I'm Stuck in Lodi, Again

Michelle Malkin reports that a witness at the trial of Hamid Hayat and his father, Umer, for lying to FBI agents about the son's attendance at a terrorist training camp, has testified that Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top strategist and personal physician, was in Lodi, California in 1998 and 1999.

Either the witness is mistaken, or...

There were in Summer 2002, several stories around that President Clinton had a plan to "roll back" Al Qaeda. Others on the right side of the center aisle doubted that. If Al-Zawahiri was indeed wandering around central California in 1998 and 1999, that fact speaks volumns about the Clinton plan.

A short history: On August 23, 1996, bin Laden issued Al Qaeda's first "declaration of war"against America, his "Message from Osama bin Laden to his Muslim brothers in the whole world and especially in the Arabian Peninsula: declaration of jihad against the Americans occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques (Saudi Arabia); expel the heretics from the Arabian Peninsula." (Emphasis added).

I'll skip the multiple bombings of American assets by al Qaeda around the world.

In February 1998 bin Laden and several leading Muslim militants declared the formation of a coalition called the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders to fight the U.S. Member organizations included Al Qaeda, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian Islamic Group, and organizations engaged in Kashmir and Bangladesh. Bin Laden was appointed to head the Front's council (shura). The militants signed a fatwa (religious opinion) outlining the Front's ideology and goals. The fatwa was published in a London-based Arabic paper, Al Quds Al Arabi; it called on all Muslims to "kill the Americans and their allies - civilians and military," wherever they may be.

So, after numerous bombings and two declarations of war against us, the Clinton plan included allowing the number 2 man in al Qaeda to live and worship openly in and around Lodi, California.

Wow, some plan.

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