Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Kerry Breaks the First Rule of Holes

John Kerry brought in a metaphoric Cat D-9 to the press conference he held in order to dig the hole deeper. Even Democrats should shudder when they recall they made this guy their candidate for President two years ago. Video here, if you have the stomach for delusional faux outrage.

Here's a statement not apologizing he released and my responses in pale blue.

If anyone thinks a veteran [he is referring to himself] would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. [Are we crazy to think that veteran John Kerry would criticize in 1971 the million plus who served in Viet Nam?] This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. [I have to agree--a Democrat makes a stupid statement which reveals the truth of the Democrat position (here their contempt for the United States military) and the Republicans play recordings of the statement] I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks [Is it an attack merely to replay someone's recorded statement? I think not] that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did. [Ah the chickenhawk gambit--always effective]

I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. [How could it be lying about Kerry to replay his recorded words? It can't. Kerry is incoherent here] It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have. [A combo chickenhawk/they're lying about me to replay my recorded words]

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, [liberating 25 million from a Hitler like despot is betraying our ideals?] killed and maimed our soldiers, [I thought the Jihadists and insurgents did that] and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. [So if we don't fight against the Jihadists waging against us, we'll win?] These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor. [They all had body armor, but some was only rated IIIA not III or IV--big whup]

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men [what?] because they're afraid to debate real men. [like Kerry?] And this time it won't work because we're going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan [we're still fighting in Afghanistan along with our NATO allies as many Democrats have wanted us to do everywhere] and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq. [We've won in Iraq; the Iraqis may lose the advantage we've given them, but that will be their fault not ours]


Kerry Defames American Soldiers, Again

Speaking to students at Pasadena City College Senator John Kerry (D-MA) said, "You know, education...if you make the most of it...you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well...if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

This is actually the popular Democrat talking point that our troops are stupid failures who couldn't do anything useful with their lives. Another reason to fear a Democrat takeover of any part of the Government during the long, hard war we're in.

UPDATE: Captain Ed Morrissey has a good take and list of other places to look for comments. The consensus from the right is outrage; the left is silent, as usual.


This Day in the History of Possible Islamic Terror

On this day in 1999, EgyptAir Flight 990, flying to Cairo from New York, crashed off the coast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts killing all 217 people on board. Some American investigators suspect, based on cockpit recording of a Muslim prayer repeated just before the plane lost altitude and on the fact that the engines appear to have been shut off during the dive, that a relief co-pilot, Gameel Al-Batouti, deliberately put the plane into a suicide dive, causing the crash.


Thought of the Day

Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.

Milton Friedman

Monday, October 30, 2006


Our English Cousins Dare Compare Predictions of Democrat Electoral Tsunami to the Fizzled Hurricane Season Predictions

Tom Baldwin of the London Times has a story on line about Democrat fears they peaked too soon--or something like that. First paragraph:

PUNDITS predict that the Republicans will be swept from power on Capitol Hill on November 7 by an elemental force of voter anger aimed at President Bush and Congress. Some are forecasting a “Democrat tsunami”, while Charlie Cook, the pre-eminent American election guru, talks of a “Category 5 hurricane”.

Last paragraph:

The hurricane season is coming to an end. Instead, families are preparing for Halloween tomorrow night. And the Democrats are spooked.

It's seldom good to say an election is all locked up or in the bag--one looks like such a fool if the other guy wins.

[My current predictions is 12 net House seats lost--3 net Senate seats lost for the Republicans. Bad, but not bad enough to change the leadership.]


Duke Lacrosse Injustice Grows Ever Worse

KC Johnson, who more or less owns the blogging story here, details the prosecutorial misconduct of DA Nifong here. Some a relatively minor, but three are not. My favorite is:

Rule 3.3a(1): A lawyer must not "make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer."

Nifong started his involvement in the case--on March 23-4, when his office filed a motion demanding that the 46 white players on the team submit DNA and photo samples--by violating this rule. It is now clear that this motion was fraudulent in three ways:

Nifong claimed that the players called each other by first-name aliases and uniform numbers at the party; he had no evidence for either claim, and, indeed, no evidence for either claim exists now.

Nifong withheld from the court that the accuser had failed to identify any suspects in an official photo lineup, conducted in two parts on March 16 and March 21.

Nifong, it turned out, falsely promised the court that negative DNA tests would "immediately rule out any innocent persons."

The other 'dancer', Kim Roberts, now remembers that the accuser wanted "marks" on her skin after the two left the party.

DA Nifong, who had earlier revealed that neither he nor anyone in his office has yet interviewed the accuser about the facts of the case, says he regrets nary a thing.

Local ex-DA Norm Early, under whom I served my brief tenure as a prosecutor, says that it's OK not to interview the accuser but to rely solely on the police statements; the prosecutor's time is limited, after all.

Funny, Norm's view doesn't surprise me in the least.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1938 Orson Welles broadcast over the radio his version of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and allegedly caused a nationwide panic among a very few Americans. I've listened to the thing; it has about a 5 minute period ten minutes in when it's all reports of strange machines and then violence at Grover's Corner, New Jersey. Then it tells about our struggle and eventual triumph over the machines in a way that could not fool anyone into thinking this was real time news coverage. So you would have had to then turn off the radio at the right time and take to the streets to be panicked, and that just goes against human nature. I think the panic part of the story is mostly hype.


Thought of the Day

He that is busy is tempted by but one devil; he that is idle, by a legion.

Thomas Fuller

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Hunting Report

Back from a semi-successful antlered animal hunt--which is pretty hard work. We were getting up at 5:00 am, and going to bed exhausted at 8:00 pm. I shot a barely legal buck from about 150 yards, but the bullet hit about eight inches back from where I aimed, which means I gut shot it. It lay down, got up as we approached, and then ran off onto private land where we had to trespass to do the hunter's duty of putting a wounded animal out of its misery. We trapped it in a deep gully. I ran on to keep it from escaping. Gary, with whom I hunted, put it down with my beautiful rifle, but said the scope was off line; so we put that gun back in the hard case. I am always eager to blame my tools. Then, as it started to snow, we had to drag it up slope for about 1000 yards. I wish I had been working out harder. Gary did most of the work without complaint.

After the snow stopped falling the next day, everything but us took the day off. The next day Gary had a shot at a worthwhile buck at about 250 yards but tried to work in closer. The buck moved under the edge of the slope so that Gary couldn't see him and then escaped. We saw nothing worth shooting the rest of the day. So the lesson learned is always take the shot; you may not get another.

Then the real frustration hit. We got to our favorite ridge yesterday before sun up. Moved along it until we crested a hill at sunrise and saw three cow elk (we had extra tags for cow elk). In our excitement, we both missed our first two shots as the cow elk milled about. Before this, we had decided that, faced with this situation, Gary would shoot the one to the left and I would shoot the one to the right. It was a decision based on our political beliefs. Unfortunately, the ones on the end had their rear ends to us when they stopped moving; not the best shot to take. So almost simultaneously we shot the middle one, who was turned sideways to us and thus presented a good target. I had iron sites but it was only about 100 yards and elk are big. We heard the smacks of the rounds hitting. The cow toppled like a tree. Then the other ones presented and Gary, who had just reloaded his semi-auto Browning, aimed and click went the gun. He racked the next round in but by then the cows were over the top and gone. Fortunately, a group of deer with a nice 4 point buck was visible on the left, indeed, the buck turned sideways and stood still, and Gary steadied, aimed and again, click. Before he could rack another round in and re-aim, the buck was gone. I thought Gary's head was going to explode he was so angry. The bolt apparently was not closing. He WD-40ed the heck out of the action and took off to stalk the elk and I started cutting up the cow we had shot. One bullet had gone through the lungs and another had gut shot it. I know that I had iron sites and had gut shot the poor deer days before, but I will take to my grave the firm belief that I hit the cow in the chest, and killed it. And Gary will believe he killed it. We're splitting it, literally and figuratively.

We have cow tags for the entire month of December in another elk heaven area near New Mexico so I think we'll both get our own cow elk later.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1966, the National Organization of Women (NOW) was founded. Although the by -then largely unnecessary Equal Rights Amendment the group championed failed; it, and other organizations like it, were instrumental in making equal treatment of women a social norm. Like many groups which sought to change past practices, NOW suffered from its success. It became mainly an abortion support group and then a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democrat Party. The group became an embarrassment of hypocrisy when it failed to condemn President Clinton for his serial sexual harassments and it continues down the Lethe path to oblivion in its absolute silence about the treatment of Muslim women here and abroad. You've come a long way, baby. Now just go away.


Thought of the Day

Dura usu molliora.

Difficult things become easier with practice.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Light Posting Excuse

The server (whatever that is) was down most of yesterday, so I couldn't make fun of Keith Olbermann for his misplaced, faux outrage (at least I hope it's faux--otherwise he's a political idiot). And today I'm going camping and perhaps taking armed hikes north of Craig. Thanks to my house sitter and I'll be back as soon as I can. Take it away, Diomedes.


This Day in Mid 17th Century History

On this day in 1648, the treaties for the Peace of Westphalia were signed, ending the Thirty Years War (which actually was 30 years long)--incredibly stupid and cruel sectarian violence between Catholic and Protestant in a lot of Europe.


Thought of the Day

There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose.

John Kenneth Galbraith

Monday, October 23, 2006


The Georgia State Flag Gambit

Most people don't know that the Confederate States of America had three official flags: The Stars and Bars (with varying numbers of stars)--the one on the left has 13 which means it included Missouri and Tennessee;
the Stainless Banner which was, of course, the battle flag (also with 13 stars) in the corner of a white flag;
and, the third version which was the second version with a big red stripe at the trailing edge (so it didn't look so much like a surrender flag which, given when it was adopted, April, 1865, they should have striven to make it look more like). The Confederate battle flag, alas, has become at the hands of Democrat members of the Klu Klux Klan (which is almost all of the Klan through the century plus of its existence), a racist symbol. That's not good.

We sons of Virginia and the Confederacy, who wish to show that we are proud of the fighting prowess and semi-libertarian sympathies (but not the slave part) of the Confederacy are estopped from using the Confederate battle flag for fear of being associated with the Democrat racists. What to do? My father and I have decided to show the Stars and Bars and fly it only on the day Virginia seceded from the Union, April 17.

No one will know what the Stars and Bars is, and no one will complain and we will have honored our forefathers: Harvey D. Fraley (October 29, 1839 --July 11, 1933), who joined the 51st Virginia Infantry on July 16, 1861, fought in the Kanawha Valley Campaign in 1861 and 1862, at Fort Donelson in Tennessee in February, 1862, with 'Old Pete' Longstreet in East Tennessee in the winter of 1863-64, at New Market, VA in mid May, 1864, at Cold Harbor, VA in May and June 1864, marched with Jubal Early towards Washington DC in Summer, 1864, fought at Winchester, VA in September, 1864, was captured March 2, 1865 at Waynesboro, VA by forces under Phil Sheridan and spent the next few months as a POW at Point Lookout, MD until he gave his Qath of Allegiance to the United States on June 20, 1865 and got to go home; and, Martin P. Fraley, who enlisted June 3, 1861 in the 50th Virginia Infantry and fought in the Kanawha Valley and at Fort Donelson and also at Chancellorsville, VA in May, 1863 and was killed on the second day of Gettysburg (July 3, 1863) when, under General Edward Johnson's Division of the Second Corp, he attacked Culp's hill (the north flank of the Union line).

Georgia it turns out has employed the same strategy in its state flag controversy. Georgia used to incorporate the battle flag into the state flag; look left. Now, after an interim flag for a few years, it uses the Stars and Bars with the center of the state seal in the circle of stars; see below. It's a sound compromise. Heard any complaints about the racist Georgia flag lately?


This Day in American History

On this day in 1864, the largest Civil War battle west of the Mississippi takes place in Westport, Missouri (near Kansas City) where rebel forces under Sterling Price were caught between two union forces. General Price had wanted to steal a state under Union control (as an October surprise) to cover for the Confederate forces in the east who weren't doing so well, especially in Georgia and South Carolina. Although outnumbered two to one. Price attacked one Yankee force and then the other and then ran away as fast as he could with most of his troops. Casualties were 1500 on both sides, but it was a Union win as Price's raiding force disolved into Arkansas and Texas; and it was a Confederate win in that they were not completely destroyed.


Thought of the Day

If we are bound to forgive an enemy, we are not bound to trust him.

Thomas Fuller

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Rock Show Review

Went with Sheila to see Jonny Lang at the Paramount last night. It's not my favorite rock venue but it's OK in a semi-art deco sort of way. I actually booed the opening band, I couldn't help it. The last song, a solo by Reeve Carney was OK except for one unfortunate line (when I think about the people who just don't care, I think of you) I actually laughed out loud. Revolving Band. Devoutly to be missed.

Jonny Lang, (birth name Jon Gordon Langseth, Jr.) from Fargo, ND, 25, is sort of a rock phenomena because he started so young (14) but has such a mature sounding voice and delivery (the male version of Fiona Apple) and he's getting there on guitar. There were times his solos were self indulgent and had the structure of a wet tea towel, but there were other times when he delivered solid white boy blues solos that sounded pretty good. I wish he had listened to more Duane Allman's first hundred notes on Boz Scaggs' Loan Me a Dime and less to Skynard's Free Bird and the Outlaw's Green Grass and High Tides, but there's time yet.

Lang has four CDs out, of which I own three, so I am sort of a fan. He's married to a child actress not making the transition to adult actress, the former Haylie Johnson, who's right cute. Hey, Lie to Me, indeed. He gets a little radio play but not as much as he deserves and I think he's in the process of becoming a big act. And what a mixed crowd at the Paramount; average age 35, but only because there were just as many 45s as 25s. As usual of late at concerts, he didn't play my favorite song (Matchbox) but most of the ones he played (many about lost love, as a bluesman should write about, but a lot of social conscience ones lately) were pretty good. He only did one song written by someone else, but I'd rather listen to his cover of Stevie Wonder's Living for the City than to Stevie's version.

I wish he'd lose the scatting voice over his guitar playing--that was painful (and I really can't think of anyone but George Benson who can pull it off). Also, there is a sameness to his songs that's a little depressing, but he could do very mature artist things now and again which made me say 'wow' to myself. He'd build an emotional acceleration in a few songs. He'd take us through chord and tempo changes without losing the essential tread of musical satisfaction. Whatever that means.

I like this guy a lot and I hope to watch him mature as an artist and I hope it's a long time before, as happens to so many, his creative juices dry up and he goes totally pop or becomes a self-data miner or a parody of his former impressive self. Something tells me that the best is yet to come with this young man.


Friday Movie Review ( late)

Went alone to see Flags of Our Fathers, the new Clint Eastwood (as director) flick about the second raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945 and its long term sequelae. It was pretty good in a stately, safe way. I don't think it showed how really horrible the fighting was, but it did show a Hollywood version of it, which might be all we civilians can stand. Its most moving moment was a father and son scene on a hospital death bed 50 years later (at least that's what made me mist up--women, I admit, might react differently). Pretty solid performances. I have never like Ryan Phillippe more. One portrayal was a little jarring--it was tough to accept the bad guy from The Warriors as President Truman.

Let's get some quibbles out of the way. I have hated the radio ad campaign for the film which starts with the ludicrous statement, from the film: the right picture can win or lose a war. What bull crap--supporting a bumper sticker mentality which short changes the average American citizen. In the movie, the older cynical press whore says that the image, during Tet, of the summary execution of a captured, not in uniform, VC by the Saigon chief of police lost us the war. Yeah, right. (Actually, if you could put it to a single image, it was the self immolation of the Buddhist monk four and a half years before, which sucked moral support out of the war to the ultimate detriment of the effort). Joe Rosenthal's cropped photo of the flag raising (which was simultaneously filmed) is a nice, popular image but its effect on the eventual outcome of the war was nil to minimal. Even the War Bonds tour success, which is about half the movie, was not war winning despite the self serving statements of the white haired bureaucrat spearheading the use of the surviving marines to raise war revenue. We spent about 70% of our GDP on the war, such was the effort it took to defeat the competent, dedicated, imperial, fascist nations we fought, indeed, two of the more competent nations on Earth. We borrowed an amazing amount (in percent of GDP) to fund that effort and near the end our credit might have been getting a little tight. But the Marines did OK on Guadalcanal with minimal funding. The war in Europe was two months away from ending; we'd have muddled through to August and the one, two punch of nuke weapons and superb Soviet forces entering the war. I've spent too much time on the fundamental untruth of the movie.

The focus is on the three individuals, the flag raisers who survived the rest of the battle, prisoners of chance, who were called heroes for lifting up a pipe with a bigger, replacement flag (an action actually irrelevant to those on the island) when they know that they were not, at least compared to the other real, dead heroes. That human context is what Eastwood actually does best and it sustains the movie and makes it worthwhile. What he fails at is to convey to us what made the real heroes so deserving, what was so ineffable about that combat (I guess any combat) which made it near impossible for the veterans to talk to those who weren't there (as the flag raisers mention), indeed made it impossible for the veterans ever to talk about it. Eastwood can't recapture in Iceland the real hell on Iwo. As grueling as the first 30 minutes of battle in Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg couldn't either. What's missing from both is the tension of involvement. I felt it in the first Russian roulette scenes in The Deerhunter, which scenes were bull pucky historically, but we couldn't stand the wait for what would happen next. I guess the word for what's missing is intensity. In the two recent WWII movies, we're dispassionate, uninvolved observers of interesting images but it's not really giving us a safe taste of what it was 'really' like. At least that's what I think.

The weapons used were historically accurate as far as I could tell. The equipment was too. The CGI was pretty well integrated. All in all, it's a grand show of a very tough battle in a very tough war when we were tougher and more united and more dedicated to making the world a better place by destroying evil institutions through the supreme sacrifice of our average joes whom circumstance turned into uncommon heroes. You get to see a little of that, so it's well worth a look.


Good Things from France

This is French actress Catherine Deneuve's birthday, who, having been born in 1943, is 63. Ouch. Since I watched most of the early Polanski movies, I knew about her sister, Françoise Dorléac, who died tragically young in a car wreck in 1967. I used to love to tell guys raving about Deneuve's beauty that she had had a prettier and much sexier sister. They wouldn't believe me, but it was true. Go watch Cul de Sac. You'll see.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1962, President John F. Kennedy informed the world that the Soviet Union was setting up previously secret missile bases in Cuba and that he had ordered a naval quarantine of Cuba (they'd decided not to use the word 'blockade' because it sounded too bellicose). He also demanded that Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev remove all the missiles and their bases, which they eventually did, as we removed our missiles based in Turkey. I remember my mother telling me to be quiet during the television address, and saying, "Your father might have to go back in the Navy." That shut me up. For the next few weeks we would ride our bikes over to the highway through Mobile, Alabama to see big military convoys with tanks, big green M60 main battle tanks!, on carriers. We thought getting ready for thermonuclear war was neat.


Thought of the Day

Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.

Calvin Coolidge

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Interesting, but not Lasting

Dick Morris we know pretty much hates the Clintons, Hillary more than Bill, but still this is a fun story. Money quote:

During the debate, [Republican Senate candidate] Spencer highlighted Hillary's vote against the NSA's wiretapping program and her efforts to kill the Patriot Act.

John Spencer began his challenge to Hillary tonight. The race starts today.

Hillary's huge financial advantage and her lead in the polls was of little use tonight because it was obvious that the empress has no clothes.

While Hillary gave scripted, rehearsed answers, Spencer challenged her failure to deliver on her campaign promises of 200,000 new jobs and mocked her refusal to accept blame for anything, pinning the job loss on Bush and the North Korea bomb on the State Department.

UPDATE: I watched 90% of the Spencer/Clinton debate on CSPAN2. Dick Morris is high. Spencer was fiesty but not that great and Clinton was about the same as always. So much for getting our hopes up.


Jerry Brown and the Law

Ancient leftie Jerry Brown, mayor of Oakland, California, is running for Attorney General of that state. (It is hard to imagine he could be worse than the current one, Bill Lockyer). But there is a problem--California law, which says:

No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.

Jerry Brown, who was admitted to the bar in 1964, went on inactive status for a period of time and only became active again in May, 2003. The LA Times story covering the story (almost alone in the buggy whip media) admits that being inactive means that: An inactive member cannot appear before a court. So it would appear that within the last 5 years immediately preceding this election Mayor Brown could not have practiced before the California Supreme Court. The GOP is suing to throw him off the ballot (and get the GOP candidate, whoever it is, elected by default). [The Republican candidate is Chuck Poochigian--I'm not making that up].

Irwin Chemerinsky, the lefty 'smart guy' on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, (with whose legal analysis I have almost never agreed) said the most important factor is that Brown passed the bar and was admitted to practice. "I don't think his being on 'inactive status' should matter," Chemerinsky wrote in an e-mail. "He could easily have changed that just by paying his dues.

Yes, but he didn't. What Irwin also does not take into account are the words in the statute "period" and "immediately". If passing the bar and practicing in the distant past was enough to let you run, even if you quit being a lawyer for decades, then why would the statute specify that you must have been able to practice before the Supreme Court in the 5 year period immediately before the election?

Obviously the requirement of practice for 5 years immediately before election is to allow only a lawyer knowledable of the current law to become the chief lawyer of the executive of the state. I think Mayor Brown is in trouble.

Rick Hasen, a Loyola Law School professor, adds in the LAT story that the GOP should have brought Brown's inactive bar to running earlier than a few weeks before the election and so should be barred from bringing a suit for laches (an equitable concept that urges prompt action). Yeah, that'll do it. Laches and 10 pennies will get you a dime in a court of law deciding a legal, not an equitable, question as outlined above.

Of course, as Jay Tea pointed out here over at Wizbang, any law that makes it difficult for a Democrat to run is routinely ignored in Court while laws that hurt Republican candidates (and voters) are scrupulously enforced; so Jerry Brown shouldn't worry too much.


This Day in Naval History

On this day in 1797, we launched the USS Constitution, a 44 gun frigate which is still the oldest ship in the navy although it can barely limp around Boston Harbor now. In the War of 1812 (American Revolution II) the Constitution accounted for two of the three naval victories in row against British ships, which drove the Limeys crazy (Guerrire on Aug. 19, 1812, and Java on Dec. 29, 1812). It has been rebuilt three times since its launching so not a single original plank, spar or beam remains, creating the ontological problem of how is it still the Constitution.

Also on this day but in 1805, the British soundly defeated a French/Spanish fleet in the Atlantic off Spain, to end forever any chance of French naval ascendancy under Napoleon (and thus any chance France could invade England). The British commander of the fleet, Admiral Horatio Nelson, a legend even before Trafalgar, was killed in the battle by a sniper in the fighting tops of the French ship of the line, Redoubtable. Nelson's flagship was the HMS Victory, another sailing ship still around today.


Thought of the Day

Pacis et armorum vigiles.

Vigilant in peace and arms.

Another 'ancient' Latin motto, actually a good one for the times ahead.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Battle of Iwo Jima

Here's a photo, taken from an American plane, of Iwo Jima on D-day, February 19, 1945. The landing craft (LVTs) have off loaded the Marines and are going back for more. My father, on a destroyer there, has told me that he knew it was tough ashore because the reserves were almost immediately committed to battle. The big ship in the right middle is the Tennessee (BB-43)

Mt. Suribachi is covered in smoke on the left.

I hope Clint Eastwood gives the real heroes of the battle a fair shake.

Diomedes doesn't think we could win a battle like Iwo today. I say we could but the press coverage would be less favorable.


This Day in Mid Renaissance History

On this day in 1524, physician and a classical scholar, Thomas Linacre, founded the Royal College of Physicians in London. Sounds impressive, but at that point they were bleeding people to death in an attempt to cure them of a cold. It is only in the last two centuries that physicians again became a competent force for good.


Thought of the Day

If people turn to look at you on the street, you are not well dressed.

Beau Brummel

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Tet, Did Somebody Mention Tet?

George Stephanopoulos, channeling Thomas Friedman from the NYT, asked President Bush yesterday if the current onslaught in Iraq (we'll get to a hundred American battle deaths this month easily) was like the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam in 1968. The President said it could be. I agree that there are parallels, but it is a comparison that the left should not welcome. Here's the history.

After years of fighting a guerilla war that was frustrating to us and our allies, the Viet Cong tried to take over the country and spark a general uprising with conventional tactics. They came out and fought like men. We slaughtered the VC. Indeed, we took the VC out of the war we killed so many of them. It was a huge, overwhelming victory for us, and, for the Communist leaders in the north, such a crushing blow that they seriously considered giving up. We had won the war.

However, our esteemed press spun that truth so that the populace back home thought it was a defeat (I still marvel at that accomplishment, what? nearly 40 years later). We lost heart, began to withdraw our troops and in 1975, when the north was fighting a conventional, blitzkrieg type war in the south, the Democrats in Congress knifed the south in the back (by refusing to give them military aid) and Viet Nam was reunified under harsh Communist rule. You have to call that our first lost war. Won on the battlefield, lost at home.

We know that the Jihadists are media savvy. If they are now increasing the bloodshed, playing to the cameras, in the hope that they can repeat the 'black is white' reporting from Tet and so influence the outcome of the upcoming elections, that means that they would rather have Democrats than Republicans in our government. Do the Democrats really want American citizens who remember recent history to think that they are the party supported and preferred by our enemies? I believe the preference is true, but I know I wouldn't want to make the comparison if I were a Democrat.


Soldiers Bound Over

All of our soldiers (and sailor) who were undergoing recently the military version of a preliminary hearing for rape and murder charges were bound over for court martial. Thus, there is the military equivalent of probable cause to believe a crime might have been committed. At the court martial, the standard will be proof beyond a reasonable doubt, moral certainty under Catholic epistemological concepts. If you recall The Dirty Dozen, the idea that our troops could also commit crimes is not unknown, but we hate to think of our guys doing such bad things.

I'm not buying the combat stress made them do it excuse. I think, if they are guilty, it was more the case of the temptation of thinking you can't get caught. I don't think the prosecutions will get a clean sweep of convictions, but some of these guys may be executed eventually, which is worse punishment than we've doled out to a captured murderous Jihadist yet.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1781, General Cornwallis surrendered his British forces to the American Army and militia under General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia in the last major battle of the American Revolution (although peace would not come for two years). Cornwallis had counted on the British fleet to whisk him and his troops to safety in New York if he got into trouble on the peninsula between the York and James rivers, but the French fleet turned the Limeys back at the mouth of the Chesapeake and Cornwallis could not be rescued. I hate to say this, but we owe the French big time for the help (although our helping to liberate them from the Nazis probably balances the slate). The war would have almost certainly been lost without that crushing victory.


Thought of the Day

I personally call the type of government which can be removed without violence "democracy," and the other, "tyranny."

Karl Popper

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Fair and Balanced But Not Infallible

One of the guys at Special Report, Cameron?, who's usually pretty good, was running down the house seat races where the Republicans are all but toast and he mentioned the 6th District in Colorado. Hold on there, kitty cat. That's Tom Tancredo's District. His challenger, whoever he is, may be doing better than past challengers but it's certainly not a matter of all is lost, turn out the lights. In fact, no race in Colorado is that way with the possible excetion of the Udall kid up in Boulder (the Second), I'm sure he'll win in a walk and Diane DeGette in Denver (the First) doesn't have an opponent so she may be able to scratch out a win. Beauprez is behind Bill Ritter but as I recall, Senator Allard was way behind Ted Strickland in '02 and I had to cut short a hunting trip to rush home to vote in a contest Allard won by several points.

With Tancredo's notoriety, wouldn't we have heard if he's going to be voted out?


Photos From the War Against Jihadists

A U.S. Army soldier with 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team provides security for fellow soldiers preparing to enter a suspected militia leader's home in Jisr Diyala, Iraq, on Oct. 4, 2006. The soldiers are conducting an operation to capture known terrorists by raiding several homes and buildings simultaneously throughout the town of Jisr Diyala in southeast Baghdad, Iraq.

DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik A. Wehnes, U.S. Navy.

The LAV III, Stryker (named for 2 unrelated Medal of Honor recipients in WWII and Viet Nam) is a very heavy 8 wheel armored car (the front 4 steer) that holds 9 soldiers. This one has a Browning M2 .50. up top. The armor is thick enough to stop the Russian 12.7 mm. The railings around it is protection against RPGs. The shaped charge on an RPG cuts through armor only if it explodes while in contact. The rails cause the RPG warhead to explode about 18 inches away from the armor where it is useless, but not harmless. The Stryker has a big diesel 'cat' motor and can travel at 62 miles per hour, but I'd hate to go that fast in it.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1961, "Le Bateau", by French painter Henri Matisse, went on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The painting attracted large numbers (over 100,000) of viewers. For 47 days, nobody realized that "Le Bateau" was hanging upside down. Slight black eye for an otherwise wonderful museum.


Thought of the Day

Boyhood, like measles, is one of those complaints which a man should catch young and have done with, for when it comes in middle life it is apt to be serious.

P. G. Wodehouse

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Slap on the Wrist for Traitorous Terrorist Enabler

Lynn Stewart, who, I'm sorry to say, was a lawyer, the lead defense counsel for Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in 1995, and who was convicted last year of helping the 'blind sheik' (mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center) continue to communicate from federal prison with his savage Egyptian terrorist organization, the Islamic Group (Gama'at al Islamia) was sentenced yesterday to 28 months (which is 2 and 1/3 years). She had faced 30 years and should have gotten most of them as her punishment.

Under the guise of attorney client communications with Stewart, blind Sheik Omar would actually give terror instructions in Arabic to the interpreter, who passed them on to the terrorist group in Egypt. The interpreter got 24 years, a little more like it.

Andrew McCarthy, who was the lead prosecutor of Omar Abdel Rahman, writes at NRO and shoots down, seemingly without effort, the 'no harm--no foul' apologies for Stewart which may well have caused the judge to deviate from the recommended sentence.

Money quote:

"[M]ore than 400 letters [Stewart] submitted to Judge Koeltl about her sentence include many from law professors and criminal defense lawyers who said that her actions never caused actual harm and warned of a chilling effect on lawyers who defend terrorists if she receives a long sentence."

These points are meritless. Our national counterterrorism strategy now is to prevent terror attacks from happening, not to prosecute them after people have been killed. Under the circumstances, it is no defense for those who knowingly assist organizations that practice indiscriminate murder to claim that no one ended up getting hurt--the whole point of the strategy is to disable the accomplices so no one does get hurt.

Moreover, as I tried to point out (in obvious futility) to Ms. Preston [writer for the NYT], Stewart's conviction does not pertain to what she did while she was actually defending the blind sheikh. The government has always been extremely deferential to the needs of attorneys representing accused terrorists as they prepare for trial, conduct trial, prepare for sentencing, and draft any appeals. The acts on which Stewart's convictions were based took place long after Abdel Rahman's trial and sentencing, long after his appeals were rejected, and well beyond the time allotted for filing habeas corpus petitions to attack his convictions. When she was indicted, Stewart was not performing the function of a lawyer defending a terrorist; her prosecution thus portends no interference with lawyers engaged in the zealous representation of criminal defendants.

Diomedes likes McCarthy as much as he likes Mark Steyn. McCarthy is good.

UPDATE: McCarthy wrote a piece after the sentencing here. It's good. Money quote:

And speaking of tactics, it is noteworthy that Lynne executed the standard defense sentencing playbook masterfully — and with great success. She affected contrition for what she portrayed as mistakes of judgment (not real crimes, of course), and pleaded with the sentencing judge to be lenient because she had already suffered enough with the loss of her precious law license. “The end of my career truly is like a sword in my side,” the New York Times reports her as plying the court’s heartstrings. ”Permit me to live out the rest of my life productively, lovingly, righteously.”

So what happened once she got the much sought after slap-on-the-wrist? Why, she marched right outside the courthouse and defiantly proclaimed: “This is a great victory against an overreaching government. I hope the government realizes their error, because I am back out ... [a]nd I am staying out until after an appeal that I hope will vindicate me, that I hope will make me back into the lawyer that I was.”

Translation: Despite my conviction, I won and the government lost. And once the appeals court fixes things, my conviction will be gone and I’ll be right back in business.

And what about the cancer, which sentencing judge John Koeltl also relied on to rationalize his ill-conceived beneficence? The Times relates that the “feisty” Stewart — sounding a lot more like a professional crook than a professional lawyer — brayed that if it eventually comes down to serving the 28 months, “I could do it standing on my head.” Apparently, she’s feeling better.

The rest of us should be feeling worse. We’ve tried responding to terrorism by standing on our heads and sitting on our hands. It didn’t work out too well, and Act II promises only more of the same.


Paul Campos Fails to Provide Important Details

Credit is due to local law professor and Tuesday RMN columnist, Paul Campos, for his courage to talk about race today. It is not a common subject for political writers because they fear being called racist. I know I stay away from it. A case in point was the book, The Bell Curve, a decade or so ago which told the truth about black IQ scores in America and got the authors branded as racists.

But Campos alludes to an explanation for the lower scores for African-Americans. He says: "psychologists have documented how African-American students tend to do significantly worse on a test if they're told it's designed to measure intelligence than they do on exactly the same test if they aren't told this."

I am perfectly willing to believe this and indeed I would rather believe this than think (but never say) that blacks have lower IQs, on average, than white Americans. Wish he had given the details. Perhaps I can google it. But what is the explanation for such test choking just in one race? I have got to read these phychologists.

Campos, however, gets a little fuzzy later on. He first sets up a scale of opinions:

Consider a scale from one to five that represents the following positions: race should never be taken into account when distributing social goods; race should only be used as a tiebreaker between substantially identical candidates; race should give a black candidate (for example) a small advantage; race should give the candidate a big advantage; social goods should be handed out on the basis of racial quotas.

Notice how this scale moves from race neutral to racist (but in a benevolent way for blacks). And what the heck are "social goods"? I have to guess because I've never heard that term before.

Then, after noting affirmative action supporters won't be honest about where they fall on the scale, Campos says:

As for affirmative action opponents, they all naturally claim to adhere to the first position, when in fact quite a few behave as if being black (for example) should be considered a negative factor when evaluating candidates. This is hardly surprising: It's extremely difficult to grow up in America without absorbing some racist beliefs.

Hold on there, kitty cat. Who considers being black a negative factor? The Aryan Nation? How is this behavior shown in people who sincerely believe all actions should be race neutral? Really needed more here. But it's the next sentence that is just flat out wrong. There is no doubt that hold-overs from America's clearly racist past (pre-1964) still exist, but a lot of us who received our education (in and out of class) after that date have done a good job not to harbor an invidious racial animus. Does Campos have children? I ask, because I don't believe there is any general racism among the current generation of high schoolers and college students. Indeed, it is difficult to grow up in America now and to absorb racist beliefs. The kids just don't care what color you are. The only people under 50 who care what color you are are the supporters and implementers of affirmative action, which is at best beneficent racism.

To say those who oppose taking race into accourt are the racists is to say black is white; and to say America is still generally racist defames the current generation and the real progress that has taken place over the past 50 years. Paul Campos started off laudable but couldn't keep it up for the entire piece and resorted to his default, hate America, position.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1777, General Burgoyne surrendered his remaining troops at Saratoga to overwhelming numbers of American troops and militia and provided the American rebels with a much needed victory. The British had started a three column push in northern New York on September 17, 1777, but the columns never joined up as planned. Burgoyne had both British and German troops and marched down the west side of Lake Champlain and the Hudson until he met Virginia riflemen at Freeman Farm. The British stopped, dug in and the main battle was fought on October 7, 1777, where General Benedict Arnold was the most impressive leader to an American victory, although others stole the credit later. The British retreated back to Saratoga until trapped and forced to surrender.


Thought of the Day

People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election.

Otto von Bismarck

Monday, October 16, 2006


Relative Good News from China

Not only is China searching vehicles crossing the China/North Korea border, but they have stepped up construction of a border fence. Now, why would they do that? Are they preparing for millions of refugees seeking relative safety in China? Are they foreseeing an end to Kim Jung Il's reign as son/dictator?

Money quotes from the CBS story:

In a sign of Beijing's wariness about refugees, construction of a massive concrete and barbed wire fence along parts of its 880-mile border with the North has picked up in recent days. Scores of soldiers have arrived in communities along the banks of the Yalu River, up from Dandong, over the past week to erect the barrier, farmers and visitors to the area said.

"The move is mainly aimed at North Korean defectors," said Professor Kim Woo-jun at the Institute of East and West Studies in Seoul, South Korea. "As the U.N. sanctions are enforced ... the number of defectors are likely to increase as the regime can't take care of its people."

The Chinese started on an earnest border barrier earlier this summer.


Even More on the Duke Lacrosse Injustice

This guy, KC Johnson, a Brooklyn College, CUNY history teacher, has been all over the Duke Lacrosse Injustice story from the beginning. Here is his summary so far. The good news is that it's nearly everything you need to know about the case. The bad news is that it's pretty long.

UPDATE: La Shawn Barber too has her worthwhile 2 cents after the 60 Minutes story. She's posted on this before and is firmly in the injustice camp.

(h/t Instapundit)


36 of 60 Minutes

Ed Bradley and the team at 60 minutes did a pretty good job showing what an injustice seems clearly to be brewing in Durham. Here is close coverage for those who missed it.

As a former prosecutor, I was struck by the actions of DA Nifong:

District Attorney Mike Nifong, who had declared that DNA would be the crux of his case, played down the results, speculating that the absence of DNA meant that the attackers may have used condoms, although the accuser had already stated that there were "no condoms used", and that at least one of her three attackers had ejaculated inside her. Although it was a major setback for his case, the D.A. said he was undeterred.

"For most of the years I've been doing this we didn't have DNA. We had to deal with sexual assault cases the good old-fashioned way--witnesses got on the stand and told what happened to them," Nifong stated.

Without the DNA evidence he had hoped for, the D.A. needed the accuser to identify the three men who had raped her. Days after the party, she was shown photo lineups of 36 lacrosse players and didn't pick out anyone as her attacker. In fact, she didn't recognize David Evans at all, and was fairly certain only that she had seen Reade Seligmann somewhere at the party. So, two weeks later, the D.A. supervised another line-up, this one showing mugshots of all 46 white players on the team. (Emphasis added).


60 Minutes asked James Coleman, a prominent law professor at Duke University Law School who helped establish guidelines in North Carolina designed to protect against false identifications in police line-ups. He says this line-up broke one basic principle: there were no "filler" photos, no pictures of people not connected to the case. The accuser only saw photos of lacrosse players who police told her were at the party.

"If she's told all of these people who were considered suspects were at the party, so you pick three and we'll indict those three," Coleman says.

"So she can't make a mistake," Bradley remarks.

"Can't make a mistake," Coleman replies.

Professor Coleman says the line-up ordered by the D.A. for the Duke lacrosse case violated local, state and federal guidelines. The D.A. has been quoted as saying that will be up to a judge to decide.

So DA Nifong declares before the media that he's sure a rape occurred and that DNA will make his case. (He got a court order to take the samples from all the white players on the team so he had to tell the judge that it was necessary and helpful for the case). DNA exonerates the Duke lacrosse players. So he creates a line-up with no fillers. As Professor Coleman says, the accuser can't be wrong--if she picks someone, he was on the team and therefore must be guilty. Incredible.

But the line up also presents an opportunity for the Court to step in and stop this miscarriage. The accuser is shown photos of most of the team (including at least two of the accused) and she fails to identify anyone. She is then shown only photos of the whole team in the photo line-up. The Court could declare the photo line-up done this way was so suggestive that it violated the accuseds' due process rights and tainted any in court identification and suppress any such identification by the accuser of the three Duke players. Because there is no other witness nor any DNA, that means a dismissal. We'll see.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1859, late at night, John Brown, a militant abolitionist, and about 20 followers, including freed slaves, slipped into Harper's Ferry, Virginia, took about 60 hostages (including direct kin of George Washington) and the town's famous arsenal and rifle work in the hope of fomenting a slave rebellion that would sweep the southern states free of that horrible institution. Didn't happen. Two days later, Col. Robert E. Lee led a marine contingent that freed the hostages and captured Brown and most of his men who had survived. Five escaped. The captured were soon tried for treason against Virginia, et al. and hanged. Many believe this was the start of the Civil War. Harper's Ferry, now in West Virginia, seems locked in a time warp and is a beautiful place to spend a few hours, especially right about now.


Thought of the Day

I feel like Zsa Zsa Gabor's sixth husband. I know what I'm supposed to do, but I don't know how to make it interesting.

Milton Berle

(I think I actually met Gabor's 6th husband through girlfriend Barbie while I was going to school in California--small world)

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Sunday Movie Bonus Review

Went with Sheila to The Departed, the new gangster film by Martin Scorsese, and wow was that a good movie. Best movie of the year. Everyone in it was terrific. The plot was convoluted but not impenetrable and you cared about everyone but Frank Costello (Nicholson) so it kept your interest intellectually and emotionally. As with most Scorsese movies, you wanted to take a shower afterwards. Let's get to the nuts and bolts.

It's kind of a remake of a Hong Kong film Mou gaan dou (in Cantonese) Wu jian dao (in Mandarin) and Infernal (not internal) Affairs in English. As with a lot of HK movies which play up the duality of man's nature (good v. evil--cop v. criminal) and have these polar opposites embodied in the protagonists who are often friends; and ultimately ask boring questions about life, the universe and everything--think any John Woo film (but without the white doves), Infernal Affairs has a yin and yang vibe going with polar opposites in places where they don't belong.

Scorsese has been making films since the 1970s and many of them are quite good. I love Mean Streets (1973) and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) , admire Taxi Driver (1976), think Raging Bull (1980) was well made, love Goodfellas (1990)(and to a much lesser degree its sequel/companion piece Casino (1995)) but most of the rest are not that good and some of the recent ones are butt awful.

It's set in Boston rather than New York and it's the Irish mob (rather than the Italian one, Nicholson's name notwithstanding). There might be in it a little realistic violence, which is to say ugly violence, with head shot after head shot and a Hamlet like everyone dead on the floor but one end scene. DiCaprio carries and uses a Walther PPK in .380 while Nicholson seemed to have a Baretta Cougar also in .380. Ray Winstone (who almost always is great) had twice a Smith & Wesson 686 (in .357 magnum) but used a smaller gun actually to commit murder using the poor man's silencer (a 2 liter plastic bottle). Since I write primarily a review, that is, a piece for people who have already seen the film (as opposed to a recommendation/tease), there will be a lot of spoilers in the following paragraphs so stop reading if you haven't already seen the film.
The Boston mob has infiltrated the Boston Police, the Mass. State Police, who are much more than rural traffic cops back east (and perhaps the Feds) while the feds, staties (see just above) and perhaps the local police force have riddled the mob with informants--rats (the storied undercover cop). This is basically an anti-rat movie, echoing E.M. Forster's recommendation to betray your country before you betray your friends.

The connection between the yin/yang characters (Matt Damon, a mobster pretending to be a statie and Leo DiCaprio, s statie pretending to be a mobster) is the less than classically beautiful shrink Madolyn, played by Vera Farmiga--never heard of her. They both bed her and one of the unexplained (kinda) mysteries is who is the father of her fetus, baby or whatever. I go with DiCaprio because otherwise why would her last words to Damon be "and I thought I was the liar"?

Another unexplained mystery is why the gangster Delahunt (the same actor was space marine Drake in Aliens) tells DiCaprio he's made him as the rat but doesn't tell the rest of the gang. The news says he's a local cop rat in the gang but Nicholson dismisses that as disinformation so he'd stop looking for the real rat (DiCaprio). It's hard to believe undercover fed cop Delahunt would have been involved in crime long enough to be the number 3 man and would throw Martin Sheen off the roof. I can't recall the details of the photo with FBI liaison so it's a wash. Many believe it's real redemption or appreciation of DiCaprio's kindness to him. Pretty weak arguments. Delahunt told DiCaprio 314 but he shows up at 344. Wow the right block but the wrong commercial address. Close enough for government work. Where was 314, next door? Everyone is infiltrating the mob but the federal case is never made against Nicholson. I vote for Delahunt as FBI liaison and the local agents don't even know it. Finally, when the staties open up on the van, Delahunt doesn't shoot back. Explain that away, doubters.

Finally, the open on my death envelope. Because Leo only trusts Wahlberg after Sheen's death clearly it is info for Marky Mark (who appears to have had during the whole movie a hard on to humiliate or fight every single person he meets) to finger Damon as the rat. How else would Wahlberg show up dressed for murder? Details that mitigate against that solid belief. Why not just give the proof to Wahlberg? (Leo wants to make the bust--and there is the timing. He gives the envelope before he gets the proof). Why then did he tell his black 'friend' from the Academy to call Wahlberg when he meets Damon, and why didn't Wahlberg show? Actually Wahlberg has the worst (difficult to believe) scene in the film when he's ragging on DiCaprio, telling him all the reasons he can't be a cop. I think many people were asking why the instant hostility and why can't Leo be a cop--he just graduated? But you soon forget that mis-step.

Just enough mystery to keep it interesting. A little fill in the blanks at the end. I loved the homage to the end of The Third Man. Damon waits for the girl after the funeral of her true love and she walks by without a word or even a glance, but then I'm a hopeless romantic.


Talking Head Sunday

This Week, with Bill Clinton operative George Stephanopolous, started with UN Ambassador John Bolton, but he was speaking in international bureaucratese and I now have no memory of anything he said. Oh, one thing--he seemed to think that China saying it wasn't doing what it had just voted to do (see Diomedes' excellent posting below) was unthinkable. Maybe unthinkable, but very real none the less.

Now he's providing Harold Ford a free political infomercial; I have to believe that he'll give Bob Corker separate but equal time. We'll see. Ford came off has a pretty good guy. I liked it that he wouldn't describe the abortion horror he witnessed that changed his mind about abortion as a political issue. He feels that it is a constitutional right that should be rarer. I, and Ann Coulter, find that an impenetrable self-contradiction. Imagine calling for the right to keep and bear arms to be ever rarer. (OK bad example-I'll try again) Imagine calling for the constitutional right against self incrimination to be ever rarer. Constitutional rights exist and they exist for a reason and they must be followed and made real all the time or the whole point is lost, and thus no real constitutional right should be ever rarer. Corker did pretty good too. I have to say the embarrassment factor about saying you're not voting for a candidate who happens to have dark skin could make the extremely thin lead Ford has in the polls go away in early November. Democrats call that embarrassment racism. Maybe. Tough to call.

Panel time, Fareed Z points out the historical fact, that all rollbacks of nuclear weapons programs (I'm only aware of South Africa's) were the result of two party talks with a lot of carrots from the US, to support the Democrat talking point that we need to go it alone (for once) with North Korea. Wrong. China, which is our mortal enemy, is the key and will do nothing to help us out (until Japan has nukes too). George Will points out properly that Cuba and North Korea have had sanctions against them for decades and still exist (barely) and so further sanctions will probably have no effect. I say no, duh. With a country where people are eating tree bark to survive and they only have two thousand light bulbs that work, not allowing them to import consumer goods probably will be somewhat unuseful.

Now they're talking '08 presidential election politics. Isn't there a closer election than that? I guess the story is closed on the '06 elections.

Well known political expert Marg Helgenberger (who looks great--loved her in China Beach) is up next. What? Was Jessica Alba unavailable? She wants women to vote. Who doesn't?

32 American dead in Iran and Iraq in a week! Ouch. They're all really young and they're all from flyover country.

On to the Fox Sunday show with registered Democrat host Chris Wallace, they have Secretary of State Rice, only speaking slightly less obtusely than Bolton. She'll be followed by John Kerry. Can't wait. She also blows off China's clear statement that they're not doing anything to help, like inspections of goods going in and out of North Korea. She seems to think that the UN is actually capable of anything. Sorry, Condi--it's not. In my opinion it has actually passed the League of Nations in utter uselessness.

With the lead from Secretary Rice shorting out, they go early to commercials. One is for Clint Eastwood's movie about the battle on Iwo Jima. I might go see that. Wallace throws the failure of the Bush Administration to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the North Korean (and the invasion of target of opportunity Iraq). She handles the question well. I add, what did they want us to do with North Korea--nuke it? Two thirds of the Axis of Evil is actually more dangerous than when President Bush said it was our policy to prevent Iran and North Korea from getting nuclear weapons. True. Wallace points out that our diplomatic efforts vis a vis Iran, through the UN, have been tepid at best and completely ineffectual. True, again.

Non-president Kerry starts out saying North Korea is bad but then actually blames everything on President Bush. Quelle surprise. Kerry says that talking directly to North Korea is the answer. Yeah, sure. It worked so well with Clinton. Kerry seems to think that Bush scotched the deal even though he admits the North Koreans were cheating on the deal from the start (although he clings to the meaningless distinction between plutonium (produced under the first Bush and Clinton administrations, but made into a bomb while Bush 43 was president) and uranium, the cheating bomb component (first produced while Clinton was president) not yet (we assume) a bomb). With Kerry, it's not that there are evil guys in the world which we do our best to combat or contain, all evil flows from the failures of the Bush Administration--the Kerry corollary to the Blame America First platform of the Democrat party. Kerry is generally wrong. Thank God, according to an HBO documentary next week, Republicans cheated in Ohio and kept Bush in the White House.

Panel time: Kristol says what I'm thinking. We are going to let Iran and North Korea get and keep nukes with nary a bad thing presently happening to them, unless our 'allies' step up and actually help. Fat, freakin' chance. We Republicans have gotten on board the multilateral fantasy of the UN and have therefore frittered away the political advantage the Republicans had of being prepared actually to do something, 'unilaterally' if necessary, to prevent evil men from getting powerful weapons, that is, to do something other than talk. Right thinking people are not fooled by Bolton or Rice. The trouble is that Democrats are even less willing to do anything other than talk, ineffectually, so Republicans are still the lesser of two weevils.

Now they're too talking about '08. Is the election just over three weeks away suddenly chopped liver? Even on Fox? In final words about the next elections, the mood is bleak. If things don't change it will be Speaker Pelosi. Like I said, bleak. Juan Williams says something in closing about Republicans could have some real hope. Really.

Chris Matthews short show. Has Bob Woodward suffered a mini-stroke, or has he always talked that way? The first 15 minutes are an infomercial for Woodward's book. I'm still not buying it, literally and figuratively. Matthews unconsciously reveals what is his central problem--he likes to deal in psychobabble (is President Bush worried about being in the shadow of his father?) rather than talk about facts. He moves by default to speculation about grist for gossip rather than rigorous logic of analysis. I saw it all in a second. That's why I prefer Prager and Hewitt to most of the TV talking heads, Kristol and Hume excepted.

For better or worse, a pledge many of us recognize (even if we failed to uphold it) is not just for marriage--it exists in political alliances. If we say we will support the government of (South Korea, South Viet Nam) Iraq against our mutual enemies, you have to stick with that even if it gets hard and battle deaths are in the stratospheric area of 4 per day. Doing less than that--Oh, it's too hard we have to cut and run--damages America's ability to protect itself much much more than 4 battle deaths and multi millions spent every day. I wish the Iraqis would be more like Floridians and less like the Lebanese of the 70s, but the Iraqis will do what they want to do. They will seize the opportunity we have sacrificed to give them to be relatively free from political violence or they will, Balkanslike, dive into a consuming violence over differences not worth a dime. It was not wrong to give them the opportunity or to depose the Hitler like dictator (with sociopath sons waiting in the wings). Part of the legacy of deposing of Hitler was East Germany, and the rest of Eastern Europe under Soviet face stomping boots for 50 years. Not exactly nirvana that.

Matthews ends with his unerring ability to misunderstand movies. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was reasonably good (even when it went achronistic during the filibuster) and the new Robin Williams flick is crap. These movies did not represent the spirit of the times, few movies do--the rare, great ones--they represent the ideas of the filmmakers. Nothing more. Matthews merely uses movies he watches to reinforce his pop psychology analysis as he did all through his book, American: Beyond our Grandest Notions. Compare that little read book to one from a good writer/thinker, Walker Percy, using movies to illustrate actual human truths in The Moviegoer.


Steyn as Political Theater Critic

Even when Mark Steyn's off his topic, he's right on. And funny. Behold.

In my new book (out this week, folks: you'll find it at the back of the store past the 9/11 Conspiracy section and the Christianist Theocrat Takeover of America section and the ceiling-high display of the new Dixie Chicks six-CD box set of songs about how they're being silenced), I say that some of us looked at Sept. 11 as the sudden revelation of the tip of a vast iceberg, and I try to address the seven-eighths of that iceberg below the surface -- the globalization of radical Islam, the free-lancing of nuclear technology, the demographic weakness of Western democracies. Other folks, however, see the iceberg upside down. The huge weight of history -- the big geopolitical forces coursing through society -- the vast burden all balancing on the pinhead of the week: in this instance, Mark Foley.

Read the whole thing, and repent of frivolity.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1946, with two out, and St. Louis Cardinals’ Enos Slaughter on first, Harry Walker hit a line drive to left-center. Slaughter got an early jump as Boston Red Sox pitcher Bob Klinger failed to hold him on the bag. Leon Culberson (in center) bobbled Walker’s single and shortstop Johnny Pesky hesitated on the cutoff (checking the runner on first instead of throwing home). Ignoring third base coach Mike Gonzalez, Slaughter rounded third and scored. Pitcher Harry Brecheen shut down the Red Sox in the ninth and St. Louis won the game, 4-3, and the World Series, four games to three. The ’46 Series will always be remembered in Red Sox lore as the one in which “Pesky held the ball.”

(h/t Those Were the Days)


Thought of the Day

Thus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the nine-millimeter bullet.

Dave Barry

Saturday, October 14, 2006


This Day in American History

On this day in 1947, U.S. Air Force Captain Charles Yeager rode the X-1, attached to the belly of a B-29 bomber, to an altitude of 25,000 ft. over dry Rogers Lake in California. After the X-1 was dropped like a bomb from the B-29, Yeager lit up and rocketed to an altitude of 40,000 ft. and became the first person to break the sound barrier, that is, to fly faster than sound waves, probably 650 mph up there. Yeager flew P-51 Mustangs in 1944 over France and Germany. He shot down a Messerschmitt 109 on his 7th mission. On the 8th he was shot down after being jumped by three Focke-Wulf 190s. He made it back to England with help from the French Resistance. On October 12, 1944, he became an ace in a day--he caused a German pilot to veer into his wingman, two planes down, then shot down three more. He was even a rat catcher for the German jet, the Me-262, that is, he followed the jet down as it slowed to land at an airfield and shot it down. Yeager is the real hero in Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff as he well deserves to be.


Thought of the Day

Being in therapy is great. I spend an hour just talking about myself. It's kinda like being the guy on a date.

Caroline Rhea

Friday, October 13, 2006


Short TV Post

Dr. Who did a reunion show with the English guy from Buffy and (to the left) Sarah-Jane Smith (Sarah the Whiner) and K-9 (to the right) from earlier Whoventures.

K-9 looked only a little worse for wear, but time has not been very kind to the the actress who plays Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) especially round the mouth, but it's been a good long while; Sarah was originally with the Pertwee Doctor (and then with Baker the Magnificent). And of course in tonight's episode she was whining bitterly that the Baker Doctor abandoned her on Earth. My memory is that she wanted off the TARDIS. There was never a hint that Who lusted after any of his companions (mainly because Dr. Who was an old man in the first three versions, Baker seemed absolutely uninterested in sex and many of the later ones, though young, seemed a bit pufta). It is only the last two who seem to have some romantic interest in the Cockney, Rose.

If I were to get it on with any Who companion, certainly the first Romana (Mary Tamm) (on the left) is a candidate. She was extremely pretty with a good body, but a bit stiff and haughty. Look close at that photo of her if you doubt me. That's not a come hither look. If I actually could have my pick, I think it would be Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) (below), just as cute a face, better body, and she seemed more open--you could reach her heart.

Beauty is important; but it's not the only thing.


The Need For Nuclear Power

On the world maps at night, South Korea looks like an island. Here's a close up of the area. The single spot of light in North Korea is the capital Pyongyang. If ever a nation needed nuclear power more and nuclear weapons less.

What could account for the all lit up nature of South Korea and the all darked down nature of North Korea? Could it be the different economic systems they embraced after WWII? Just asking.


It's Only Chapter 11

Liberal radio empire, Air America, has, as was rumored about a month ago, filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 (so it can continue playing for the 50,000 or so people around the country who listen to the shows while it looks for another sucker investor). Apparently there was to be a buyout by Sheldon Drobny but it fell through at the very last minute. Brian Mulroney, who more or less owns the lowdown on the twists and turns of Air America's race to the bottom, and who blogs at the Radio Equilizer, has the exclusive on that. More mainstream coverage here.

Money quote:

Air America has struggled financially since its inception. Documents filed with the bankruptcy court show that the company lost $9.1 million in 2004, $19.6 million in 2005 and $13.1 million so far in 2006. [That seems to be going in the wrong direction].

Air America also disclosed in the court documents that two directors departed in the last two months, Douglas Kreeger and Tom Embrescia. Gary Krantz also departed as president in June, and executive vice president Tom Athans and chief operating officer Carl Ginsburg left in July.

I stick with my prediction for last month that they'll limp through to the election and then give up the ghost.


Friday Movie Review

Went alone to see The Illusionist at a theater with the worst parking lot in Denver. It was pretty good but I had some quibbles. First the good. The lighting is uniformly terrific. Most of the acting is first rate. Paul Giamatti is terrific as usual, Edward Norton explores the limits of a minimalist performance and Jessica Biel (whom I last saw shooting an arrow at Dracula--don't ask) was actually OK. I hate to see Rufus Sewell deteriorate before our eyes. He was so handsome in Cold Comfort Farm and I thought his career would take off--didn't happen and I guess he's not through yet as he's not yet 39. You certainly hated his character, so I guess he was an effective actor here.

OK, the quibbles. There is no doubt about the end of the movie from about halfway through. We know we're seeing illusions designed to serve the ends of the not doomed lovers and we're right. The lack of surprise undercuts the power the movie, had it had a real twist, could have had. And what's with the accents? The movie is set in pre-WWI Vienna (and a few other parts of Austria) so of course everyone speaks English. However, it's not real English, but English with a slight non-Germanic accent. I'm OK with English speaking movies set in different lands, but giving the actors accents that don't fit the place is just silly. Wouldn't they have needed to sound like Schwarzenegger? Or Kurt Waldheim? I can't think of any other Austrians.

The movie has a stately pace but is only boring when it's dealing with children. I loved seeing places in and around Vienna I recognized and it is a great city. The lovers doomed by station in the Austro-Hungarian Empire is an often filmed subject (Mayerling was the latest) and it got a good shot in the arm by having the huge illusion movie (the best recent example of which is The 6th Sense) woven in. You could do a lot worse than this movie.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that the soundtrack music is by Philip Glass. It actually sounded pretty good, although to me Philip Glass always sounds pretty good because he always sounds the same. Like Bernard Herrmann.


This Day in Medieval History

On this day in 1307, Philip IV (the Fair) of France ordered the Templar Knights (who according to one fool were busy guarding the body of Mary Magdalene) arrested for blasphemy and irreligious practices (body guarding?). Some people think that since it was also a Friday on October 13, 1307, the unlucky fate that befell the Templars was the origin of our common, modern belief that Friday the 13th is an unlucky or even a paranormal day. Sounds a little thin to me.


Thought of the Day

At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.

P. G. Wodehouse

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Duke Lacrosse Debacle Details

I've decided not to call it a rape any more. It appears that 60 Minutes is coming on board with a hard look and an Ed Bradley interview of the second dancer, Nikki, aka Kim Roberts. She disputes the accuser's account of the beginning of the rape. Has anything good happened to the prosecution's case in this matter?

Money quote:

"In the police statement, [accuser] describes the rape in this way: 'Three guys grabbed Nikki,' 'That's you,'" says Bradley, "'Brett, Adam and Matt grabbed me. They separated us at the master bedroom door while we tried to hold on to each other. Bret, Adam and Matt took me into the bathroom.' Were you holding on to each other? Were you pulled apart?"

"Nope," replies Roberts, who says she was hearing this account for the first time.

Roberts also denies the accuser's statement to the police that after the alleged rape, Roberts came into the bathroom and helped one of the rapists dress her.

When pressed by Bradley about whether she saw signs of rape from the accuser, such as complaining about pain or a mention of an assault, Roberts says, "She obviously wasn't hurt ... because she was fine."

Every false accusation of rape that fools a prosecutor, but not a jury, hurts real rape victims all across the nation. Every showboating prosecutor, whose ego prevents him from dismissing a case that has almost completely fallen apart on him, hurts the people's trust in the justice system by failing to do the required, right thing.


This Day in Late 16th Century History

On this day in 1580, Francis Drake sails back into Plymouth, England in the Golden Hind, having sailed around the world by going west, the first English navigator to do so (and the second person after Magellan (kinda) 7 decades before). He started on December 13, 1577. For his efforts (and the Spanish treasure he captured off the West Coast of South America) he was knighted the next year by Elizabeth I.


Thought of the Day

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.

Amelia Earhart

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Rare Sports Post

Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle flew his private airplane into the side of a Manhattan high rise at 72nd on the east side. If the engine, avionics and fuel were OK, and he wasn't showing off for a girl, you well might conclude that he took the team's early elimination by the usually horrible Tigers way too hard.


Poem of the Month

Dicebas quondam solum te nosse Catullum,
Lesbia, nec prae me velle tenere Iouem.
dilexi tum te non tantum ut vulgus amicam,
sed pater ut gnatos diligit et generos.
nunc te cognovi: quare etsi impensius uror,
multo mi tamen es vilior et levior.
qui potis est, inquis? quod amantem iniuria talis
cogit amare magis, sed bene velle minus.

Catullus LXXII

At one time you said that you alone knew Catullus,
Lesbia, neither did you wish to know Jupiter instead of me.
At that time I loved you not as the common men love a girlfriend
but as a father loves his sons and sons in law.
Now I know you; how even if I'm hotter for you,
you are cheaper and more vile to me.
You say how can this be? Because a hurt of such a kind
forces a lover to love more, but to wish her less well.

Catullus 72

I'm with him except for the sons and sons in law part. I've felt a lot of things for a lot of women through my life, but never have I felt for a lover what I feel about my son and (perhaps in the future) my sons in law. Catullus refers to poem 70 in the second line with the repetition that Lesbia once said she'd rather know Catullus than the king of the gods. He even reasks the question in poem 85, how it can be that he hates and loves at the same time. I hope you don't recognize the lover who betrays or hurts you another way and that very action makes you want her the more even as you rationally think less of her. Catullus knew that sweet pain. So kind of a pastiche poem during the end period of his love affair with the inconstant Lesbia, but a good one, and short.


This Day in Very Late-19th Century History

On this day in 1899, the Second Boer War began in South Africa between the British and the Dutch settlers who had been there in numbers for nearly 300 years. At first a disaster for the British, with the Dutch farmers, armed with Mauser 1895 model rifles, knocking down the tommies at 1800 yards over iron sites, the British poured in men (nearly a quarter million) and eventually clubbed the guerilla bands, called Kommandos, into submission over 2 and 1/2 years later; and the Orange Free State and the Transvaal joined the empire. No need to talk about British use of the Spanish invention, the concentration camp, as its heyday came the next century. It is indeed a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way, my friend.


Thought of the Day

A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost.

Ferdinand Foch

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Paul Campos--Eternal Optimist

Local law professor and Tuesday columnist for the Rocky Mountain News declares the liberation of Iraq from Hitler-like dictator Saddam Hussein a complete failure, a waste of time, money and American lives.

If the point of the Iraq invasion in 2003 was to complete Gulf War 1, remove Saddam Hussein, prevent him from ever again invading another neighbor or having access to WMD, and allow the Iraqis to vote for their own government, I can't see how any rational person can say we've failed. If the point was to make Iraq as peaceful as the Amish countryside (OK not a great example), then we still have work to do. Baghdad is not the kite flying paradise it was before March, 2003, as portrayed in Fahrenheit 9/11, I'll admit. We've failed to make it Michael Moore's fantasy, for sure.

First fatuous quote:

Thus we are stuck in a terrible situation: While there are rational arguments in favor of escalating the Iraq war and withdrawing altogether from it, the one course that almost every expert on the question agrees makes no sense - maintaining enough of a military presence to inspire both the insurgency and sectarian violence, but not enough to effectively curtail either - is the course on which we seem destined to remain. (Emphasis added).

Almost every expert agrees that what we're doing is wrong? Campos only cites non military experts Fareed Zakaria and Senator John Warner (R-VA) and neither of them say that. So cut and run is right; flooding Iraq with American troops is right; providing security and training as the Iraqi government slowly gets up and running is wrong. Glad that's clear. I think just the opposite. I'm willing to bet most military men with 602 knowledge of Iraq agree with me.

Second fatuous quote:

All of which means it will become increasingly clear that American troops are being killed and wounded in Iraq for no good reason. And, as in Vietnam...

You know Viet Nam wasn't just a disaster because, even as our forces triumphed, the leadership back home lost heart and then the war, but also because we then betrayed an ally (the Democrats betrayed South Viet Nam in 1975) and the rest of the World's nations said under their breath, never trust the U.S. to stay a difficult course.

Let's repeat that lesson to the world, and encourage our enemies and cower our potential allies by cutting and running in Iraq. Excellent idea, professor.

UPDATE: I try to remember to email what I write to the author of the article I'm writing about. This time Paul Campos responded: The 101st Fighting Keyboarders springing into action is always an inspiring site.

Cute (site for sight is very subtle) but I can't say it really responded to my criticisms or arguments.


Colorado Pre-Hunt Sunset

As pretty as the eastern states are, there's no place like home. This is from about 15 miles north of our state's border with New Mexico, west of the San Louis Valley looking at the San Juan Mountains.


This Day in History

On this day in 1861, Norwegian explorer, oceanographer, statesman, and humanitarian with the unpronounceable (first) name, Fridtjof Nansen, is born. He led a number of expeditions to the Arctic (1888, 1893, 1895-96) and oceanographic expeditions in the North Atlantic (1900, 1910-14). Nansen wrote The Oceanography of the North Polar Basin (1902). For his relief work after World War I, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.

An obscure Scandinavian earning the Swedish Peace Prize--what are the odds? Did they win for bad mouthing America back then?


Thought of the Day

It is madness for sheep to talk peace with a wolf.

Thomas Fuller

Monday, October 09, 2006


Another Democrat Triumph of Diplomacy Comes to Fruition

Assuming that the North Koreans actually did test nuclear weapons today, here's a reminder of who allowed the Dear Leader to create weapons grade uranium without a word of protest or any serious effort to stop it.

Hint: it wasn't President's Bush's administration. The Bush administration has had a lot of words of protest.


This Day in History

On this day in 1967, incredibly inept guerilla Ernesto "Che" Guevara was executed in Bolivia. Karmic justice for a serial, mass murderer pretending to be a revolutionary. He was 40.


Thought of the Day

The number of laws is constantly growing in all countries and, owing to this, what is called crime is very often not a crime at all, for it contains no element of violence or harm.

P. D. Ouspensky

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Civil War Battlefields--Petersburg

This is what's left of The Crater in the extensive battlefields east of the city of Petersburg, 25 miles south of Richmond, VA. By the time Grant and Lee were fighting here, the Civil War in Virginia was largely fought from trenches and redoubts (forts with cannon). As was done without success in WWI, the Yankees dug a 511 foot shaft from their trenches to under a Confederate fort and blew it up on July 30, 1864 with four tons of gunpowder. The Confederates were onto them before the explosion, and countermined, but missed. If you recall the scene in Cold Mountain, with a crater seemingly a hundred feet deep, this remnant is a disappointment, as I have low spots in my lawn deeper than this.


Richmond Revivals

There are three outstanding examples of architectural revival movements in my old home town Richmond, VA. The first and oldest is Greek Revival which is best shown in the capital building, on which many American state capital buildings (and the one in the District of Columbia for that matter) are styled. This is the back of the building because the front is covered by scaffolding. You get the picture, though--dentition molding/decoration under the eaves, Doric faux columns, white marble.

The second was Egyptian Revival in the early 19th Century. This was perhaps not as popular as Greek Revival but it is a hell of a building. It was used as a hospital during the Civil War (the White House of the Confederacy, also in pretty good shape still, is 2 blocks away) and it is still in use today at the Medical College of Virginia (at VCU).

The third, built at the beginning of the 20th Century, is Gothic Revival (stone gingerbread?) as epitomized by the old City Hall. Just magnificent. There is near the end of Kubrick's version of Lolita, a view down Broad Street from the East and you're sure it is Richmond because this beauty of a building really stands out. It's been said that I have a lot of provincial pride.



Sick and Tired

OK after watching the Sunday talking heads shows, I'm oficially sick to death of this stuff about Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL). A sex scandal with no sex, a protection of the innocent 'children' all of whom are past the age of legal sexual consent which is, appropriately, 16 in DC. Just as Seinfeld was a show about nothing, this is a scandal about nothing. Can we please talk about something that actually matters now.

UPDATE: I am happy to say that Mark Steyn feels the same way. Money quotes:

It's a good basic rule of thumb that no matter how bad a scandal is, the political class' response will be worse, largely hysterical and lacking any sense of proportion. But, even by those minimal expectations, this last week has been unbecoming for a serious nation. In London, sex scandals come along every other week. You name it, British parliamentarians do it: three-in-a-bed, auto-erotic asphyxiation, gay teen flagellation, getting your toes sucked while wearing the soccer kit of Chelsea Football Club. But at least at Westminster, sex scandals require actual sex. That the governing party of the world's only superpower could be felled by one creepy pervert's masturbatory e-mails and IMs is an event historians will marvel at. Granted that the Roman Empire in its death throes got hung up on gay sex, the American hyperpower seems set to be the first to collapse over gay non-sex.


It's as predictable as the leaves falling from the trees, except that it only occurs every other autumn. Still, I take my hat off to the media and Democratic Party. Indeed, in the spirit of Bill Clinton, I take my pants off to them. It is a remarkable achievement to have transformed, in little more than a week, the GOP into the Catholic Diocese of Boston with Speaker Hastert as Cardinal Law and the page program as the massed ranks of 7-year-old altar boys. What an awesome force the Dems would be if only the ruthless skill and cunning that went into this operation could be applied to, say, national security.


This last week is unbecoming of a mature democracy. In the wider world, America can survive being the Great Sa- tan, but not the Great Laughingstock.

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