Saturday, March 31, 2007


Fisking a Reader Comment

Here is what lefty reader/commenter peter b took a long time to write and my responses thereto in a different color. He's tripping off the bad things from the fighting in Iraq.

1. As a result of the Iraq affair, Iran has been allowed to become the most powerful country in the middle east and a much bigger threat than Sadahm (sic) ever was. I'd argue that both Pakistan and Saudia Arabia are much more powerful than Iran, which can't even pay its bills to Russia, has to import gasoline, and has an economy teetering on the brink of collapse. Iran hasn't become more of a threat, so much as you finally have woken up to the threat Iran has been since 1979. You're use of the word 'allowed' is telling in that it presupposes that we somehow control other countries and that any action against Iran would have been acceptable to you opposition types.

2. As a result of the Iraq affair, we have diverted resources that could have been used elsewhere in effectivly fighting terrorists. It's easiest to fight terrorists when they come out to fight so there is no more effective way to fight them than to draw them into Iraq and kill them there, which we are most certainly doing.

3. The costs of the war have been enormous, much higher than predicted, and greatly outweigh the benefits. And the thousands of American lives lost and the countless more ruined, are only part of the costs. I am unaware of any war that didn't cost a lot of money and take many lives but perhaps you have a greater historical knowledge. Compare the cost we undertook to defeat just Germany, who never attacked us, in WWII--dozens of times more expensive in dollar cost and lives.

4. After 9/11, the USA was looked on with favor by most other countries. But Bush blew it: he (sic) failed to rally world opinion, he failed to get the Arab world on our side, he failed to let the inspections process run its course, and he failed to plan properly for the postwar occupation. The result is a loss of American power and prestige, a diminished chance of Iraq becoming a pluralistic democracy, and an al-Qaeda that's been given a second lease on life thanks to George Bush's Queeg-like obsession with Saddam Hussein. Don't let the sympathy after the 9/11 attacks fool you, our nation is not popular in the rest of the world because we actually do things (because with the only really functional military force--we're the only ones who can). Most of the Arab world is on our side where it counts (anti-terrorism). The inspections would never have been successful. No war plan survives the first skirmish. Our power has rarely been greater and prestige is overrated. Iraq is a pluralistic republic with democratic institutions now thanks 100% to the coalition. Are you really that delusional? They had no chance of being that with Saddam and his sociopathic sons alive. Al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self but what I call the Jihadi movement is still strong--our long struggle against it has just begun. Ahab has an obesssion--Queeg is paranoid and perhaps delusional; but in either literary illusion, finishing the Gulf War made perfect sense as even your ilk will admit in just a few years.

5. Does anyone dispute the fact that the world is less safe than it was before we invaded Iraq? Al-Qaida is still capable of causing harm to us in our homeland. Osama bin Laden is still at large and able to lead events from some relatively secure place, probably in Pakistan; Almost all of our shipping containers slip in without inspection; our borders, particularly our southern one, remain alarmingly porous; our first responders are still absurldly underfunded. The world remains a very dangerous place due to Islamic extremists but two (three if you count Somalia) formerly safe staging areas have been made very unsafe, so that's clear progress. You're repeating yourself about al Qaeda but bin Laden is not about to lead events. Hamas is much more active and effective lately than al Qaeda. Most of the shipping containers don't need inspection, but we should do a better job with some of them. I can't explain our nation's nearly complete failure on the border but I'm as unhappy as you are about it. Our police, firefighters, EMT and hospital are good to great, I really have no idea what you're talking about here, as if response to an attack is the same thing as defense against that attack.

6. tHe (sic) occupation of an Islamic country by the United States has resulted in a recruiting tool for Islamic terrorists. And this is tragic bottom line of the Bush catastrophe: the (sic) administration has at once increased the ranks of jihadists by turning Iraq into a new training ground and recruitment magnet while at the same time exhausting America's will and resources to confront that expanded threat. We occupy two Islamic countries, but you have no evidence to support your statement that it is a recuritment tool. They seemed to be getting all the men they wanted before 9/11. And Iraq was a training ground for the al Qaeda franchise in Iraq before we invaded. You have no idea whether there are more Jihadists now than in a world where 9/11 never happened or it happened and we did nothing or merely less. If we take bin Laden at his word, then a strong reaction to attack and a forward defense in a logical place would be a strong horse which would diminish Jihadi action. It is mainly the left that has lost what little will it had to confront the serious threat of Islamic extremism. I and most Republicans (regrettably not all) are as strong as ever for fighting the war that is being waged against us. The military is in good spirits, mainly, battle hardened, and well suited to fight this long struggle The 'broken Army' lefty talking point is about the stupidest one out there.

7. We cannot win the civil war in Iraq. The Sunni and Shia hate each other. No amount of dead infidels is going to change that. And neither of them want us there. We're not fighting a civil war in Iraq. We are providing security while the political vacuum left from Saddam's fall fills. It's taking a while but we are progressing. The Shia/Sunni divide is the most overrated thing your ilk likes to spout--it's similar to the Protestant/Catholic divide and Sunni and Shia live peacefully side by side throughout the Muslim world. If Iraq truly wanted us out--we'd go.

So what do we do now. (sic) I have no idea. I believe you.


Seeing What is Right in Front of You

Rush's brother David, has a good post at TownHall giving very sage advice to the President. Would that he would take it.

Money quote:

Lest I be misunderstood, I'm not suggesting the president reciprocate in kind and treat Democrats as disrespectfully and unfairly as they've treated him and his cabinet. I'm not advocating that he employ the same abusive and underhanded tactics they've employed against him.

That would require him to level false charges of misconduct and criminality against them, to demagogue every imaginable issue and to place his and his party's interests above the national interest and our national security. It would require him to misrepresent their intentions, statements and actions and to be bitterly partisan and consistently nasty. It would require him to make preposterous, grassy-knoll charges against them like "war for oil, WMD lies" and repeat them every day until people who know better begin to abandon their sound judgment.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.

I used to think that common sense was a gift from God, bestowed here and there (and somewhat sparingly), but now I begin to suspect a genetic component as well.


Poem of the Month

This is the last of Catullus. More whining in two poems about the two minds he has about his lost love, Lesbia, and the possessive jealousy he feels seeing her with someone else. Someone should have Cher slapped him like Nicholas Cage--Snap out of it!

Catullus 75
Lesbius est pulcer. quid ni? quem Lesbia malit
quam te cum tota gente, Catulle, tua.
sed tamen hic pulcer vendat cum gente Catullum,
si tria natorum suavia reppererit.

Lesbius is pretty. Why not? Since Lesbia likes him
more than you and all your people, Catullus.
But still let this pretty boy sell Catullus and all his people
if he should find three to acknowledge his birth.

The last line has to do with Roman law and it is very clever but totally lost on us without a long and, I'm afraid, tedious explanation. Lesbia's new lover is lower class and proud Catullus can't stand it. Short and to the point, that.

Catullus 79
Nulla potest mulier tantum se dicere amatam
vere, quantum a me Lesbia amata mea est.
Nulla fides ullo fuit umquam foedere tanta,
quanta in amore tuo ex parte reperta mea est.

No woman can truthfully say she was so much loved,
as my Lesbia was loved by me.
No such big trust was ever kept in any commitment before
as, on my side, my love for you was kept.

Yeah, yeah, you were the model of a faithful lover, a paragon of faith and adoration, and she cheated on you. Welcome to the party, pal. Snap out of it.


This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1939, Britain and France agreed to support Poland if it was invaded by Germany. Of course, they never did come September and Poland suffered a German (and, for a while, Soviet) military occupation longer than any other European nation, and I do mean suffer. France probably would have done nothing in any event, but England was pretty much hamstrung by the speed with which Germany defeated and occupied Poland. The Brits were ready to fight WWI again, with slow troop mobilization and mass rail movement thereof, while the Germans had already figured out how to fight WWII, with massed tank, combined with air, attacks and motorized and often armored transport of troops.


Thought of the Day

I have always felt that everybody on earth goes about in disguise.

Sean O'Faolain

Friday, March 30, 2007


Friday Movie Review

Went with Beata (and Alex and Lee) to The Lookout, which is the second good movie with the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the other was Brick). It's the directorial debut of Scott Frank, the screenwriter of Malice, Get Shorty, Heaven's Prisoners, and Out of Sight, and it's a darn fine movie. Well done, Scott, who usually puts out an intelligent script, and he did it again this time.

So, what's so good about it? Well, there is the interesting and new to me information about major brain injury. There is an ever growing sense of menace from the bad guys, particularly Gary Spargo played by Brit actor Matthew Goode, who has always played nice guys before (the brother-in-law in Match Point; the lovable and sensible husband in Imagine Me & You). There is the family tragedy of loss and estrangement and guilt. There is the outwitting of the bad guys by a brain injured guy for whom we are rooting mightily as he figures out how to plan and bring off the plan with the rudimentary 'sequencing' skills he has. And there is the achingly sad feeling of what the accident cost the lead and how little of him is actually left. It's a role that is difficult to get just right, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is magnificent at it. Jeff Daniels is pretty good too in a realistically likeable character--how long has it been since he played one of those? I just have one quibble; do we really let major brain injured people drive? Really?

The much maligned, deputy doughnut, it turns out, is a brave man and master of the Weaver fighting stance--he's knocking them down one after the other with well placed double taps from his unidentified service auto. Extremely menacing looking Bone has sawed off most of the stock and some of the barrels of a fine looking over/under shotgun for his weapon, and he's deadly with it, for a while.

The denouement is heartwarming in a brain injured, limited sort of way and full of acceptance and hope. So as sad as it is, the movie is not a complete downer. It's 99 minutes long, so pretty taut in the action of the plot line, once the action starts, which is actually rather late in the film. I think it's the best thing out there right now.


The Dreaded Spring Offensive Begins

And, as usual, the Taliban gets beat like a bongo drum. Very good news indeed. Bring it, Mullah Omar, bring it on.

Complete success is being claimed for the largest Afghan-led operation yet against the Taliban.

Afghan army forces and police have now purged the Nad Ali district of Helmand of 400 Taliban fighters, following a series of chaotic battles.

Allied commanders estimated 70 Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting, while many others fled or gave up their weapons.

Locals said that the dead included at least one senior commander, Mullah Abdul Bary.

"Of course there are some Taliban left in here, but they have dropped their weapons and they are hiding," said Colonel Rasoul, the commander of the 3rd Kandak, the best regular army unit in the fledgling Afghan security forces.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward reached an agreement with Russia for the purchase of Alaska for $7,200,000 in gold in a deal roundly ridiculed as "Seward's Folly." It works out to about two cents an acre, which seems a pretty good deal to me. Also there's gold and oil there and it would have been a big problem to have had a huge portion of North America under Soviet control during the Cold War. Also it's right pretty up there, or so I'm told.


Thought of the Day

To torture a man, you have to know his pleasures.

Stanislaw Lec

Thursday, March 29, 2007


The New York Times is Surprisingly Candid

Here's the editorial, the normal Democrat apologist nonsense, but here is the paper's bold description of what the editorial is about:

Victory is no longer an option in Iraq, if it ever was. The only rational objective left is to responsibly organize America’s inevitable exit.

I used to think that the new Physics stuff about alternative universes was bunk, but here, clearly, is proof that a substantial portion of this nation lives in one.

The Democrats ran on a platform that contained the planks: 1) End the Iraq War; and, 2) Stop pork spending. So the House and Senate have funded rather than stopped the Iraq War and added to an emergency funding bill for the military billions of dollars of wasteful spending. Two campaign promises broken in votes on a single issue. However, in the alternative reality, the Democrats will defend the vote as moral and brave.


Photos of American Patriots

U.S. Navy Sailors man the rails aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) during the ship's decommissioning ceremony in Mayport, Fla., March 23, 2007. The conventionally-powered aircraft carrier served its country with more than 38 years of service and 18 official deployments. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Regina L. Brown)

We have one less carrier, named ironically after a fighting Democrat, a faction all but gone from the political scene. The Kennedy was non-nuclear, so the Warmies should be glad.


Properly Made, Poorly Explained

Tom Maguire at Just One Minute blog as a good posting on the expected testimony today of former Attorney General Chief of Staff D. Kyle Sampson. Money quote:

The distinction between 'political' and 'performance-related' reasons for removing a U.S. attorney is, in [Sampson's] view, largely artificial.

Ann Coulter also writes about this in a 'where has all the backbone gone' sort of nostalgic way. Her money quote:

The Bush administration is embroiled in the most ridiculous non-scandal scandal in human history -- set off when the administration stupidly apologized for firing its own employees.

U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president. The president may fire them for any reason at all. That includes not implementing the president's policy about criminal prosecutions. It also includes being in the way of someone else whom the president wants to appoint for patronage reasons.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1973, the last United States troops left South Vietnam, ending America's direct military involvement (other than air support) in the Vietnam War--a phased withdrawal by a Republican President keeping a campaign promise to bring peace to Vietnam. Things would have been fine had not the Democrat controlled Congress later cut off all military aid to the South. That was our defeat, not this action nor the thousands of tactical victories (and one big strategic victory at Tet) our brave troops won in 8 years of fighting with one arm tied behind their backs.


Thought of the Day

History may be read as the story of the magnificent rearguard action fought during several thousand years by dogma against curiosity.

Robert Lynd

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


The Australian on David Hicks

In an interesting and plain spoken editorial from the Australian newspaper (for which Mark Steyn often writes), Hick's years of service in several Muslim terrorist organizations is contrasted to John Lindh's few months of service (which got him a 20 year sentence). What will be the sentence for Hicks' plea of guilty to materially supporting a terrorist organization? If he gets substantially less than 20 years, I'm prepared to say justice was not served.

Hicks became a bit of a cause celebre down under with many on the left there saying even if he was a terrorist he should be immediately freed anyway. Yeah, right.


Rare as Hen's Teeth

Japanese veterans from the Battle of Iwo Jima commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the Battle at Iwo Jima, Japan, Feb. 14, 2007. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lindsay Elaine Beaulieu).

Sixty-two years ago there were at most 2,000 of these guys, many of them wounded, out of the 22,000 defenders against the first American assault on Japan proper. Are we really down to five?


This Day in History

On this day in 1939, the lefty forces in Madrid surrendered to the politically mixed forces under Generalissimo Francisco Franco to pretty much end the Spanish Civil War. Today most view this rather savage struggle merely as a tune up for the main event which started six months later.


Thought of the Day

On the one hand, we have no choice but to trust in our technology. Without it we would never have set foot on the Moon. But sometimes we have to pay a high price for that trust.

Stanislaw Lem

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Paul Campos and Moral Equivalence Blindness

There are parts of Paul Campos' column in the Rocky Mountain News today that make sense. Carbon offsets are bullpucky. Al Gore is a 'do as I say, not do as I do' hypocrite. But Campos has to be Campos and reveals his inability to distinguish between substantially different situations.

Namely, Campos trots out the incredibly insulting chicken hawk argument and equates that to Warmie unwillingness to practice what they preach. Campos sets up a strawman, Jonah (Goldman?), who posts lots of things on the Internet in which he argues that the Iraq war is the central front in the war on terror, and that the war on terror is a fight for America’s survival.

Campos calls him a hypocrite and a coward for not joining the military and going to Iraq to fight. Really? So everyone who has an opinion favorable about our nation's actions in Iraq needs to join the military otherwise that person is a hypocritical coward? This is schoolyard logic. If I have a strong opinion about enforcing our laws, am I a hypocritical coward if I don't join the police force? If I have a strong opinion about the utter horribleness of our public schooI systems, am I a hypocritical coward if I don't become a teacher? The list of career choices for each of my opinions is nearly endless but I can only do one thing at a time. Campos is a maroon on this line of argument. You don't have to be a soldier to have a valid opinion about the war.

It's a little better than that because he at least distinguishes between someone who has an opinion and someone who voices his or her opinion on a blog. It's just the bloggers who support the war but don't join the military who are hypocritical coward.

But there is a real difference between a blogger, even a popular one, and Al Gore making a documentary and testifying before Congress and generally becoming the oracle of Warmie faith. That's a whole magnitude of investment greater than a blogger, just as someone with a blog is a tiny magnitude greater than a person with an unvoiced on the internet opinion.

Never strong on logic, Campos here completely abandons discriminating between the substantial differences between Gore and Jonah. But an utter lack of ability to discriminate between substantial differences has become an identifying attribute of the left.


Waking Up About the Lack of Reciprocity

If I had a dime for every time I have pointed out that American soldiers have not received Geneva Convention treatment from our enemies since WWI (with an exception, mainly from the Luftwaffe, in Germany 1942-1945), I would be at least a dollar richer. Not only do we give Geneva Convention protection to enemy soldiers we capture but we give them (under the less than wise decree of our highest court) to those who don't deserve them, illegal combatants. But it's all one sided, we provide protections without exception, we never receive those protections, certainly not in the last 62 years.

Jay Tea over at Wizbang has had enough and wants new rules for terrorist, whom he defines as follows: a person or group, not tied to any nation-state or other similar governmental body, that uses violence against strictly non-military targets for political gain.

I'm not OK with all of Tea's ideas, and I think there is no real downside to treating the guys we capture humanely, but it's good to see the plain facts of history are getting some discussion.


This Day in Soviet-American History

On this day in 1941, the U.S. Congress authorized $7 billion in Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union soon to be fighting Germany in World War II, with more billions to follow both before and after our entry into the war. I often wonder if the Germans would have knocked the Soviet Union out of the war had we not helped with trucks and spam. It's something we'll never know for sure, but the trend lines are against it.


Thought of the Day

You can always get the truth from an American statesman after he has turned seventy, or given up all hopes of the Presidency.

Abolitionist Wendel Phillips

The last two Democrats in the office of President appear to be exceptions to this rule.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Australian Jihadi Takes the Deal

I wrote here about David Hicks, the Australian, al Qaeda trained Jihadi who has been our guest at Guantanamo for the past half decade, and closed with wondering if he would take the deal.

We need wait no longer. Hicks pled guilty to materially supporting a terrorist organization, al Qaeda. Hicks' lawyers had cynically refused the deal and delayed and delayed in the wanhope that the Australian government would be forced to demand Hicks' return. Yeah that was a good strategy with John Howard at the helm down under. Hicks, who was described as looking a little thick, apparently got tired of the wait (or the weight gain) and took the deal. He hopes to return to an Australian prison within a few months.

You can't say the guy doesn't dream big.


Our Miss Brooks and the Liberal Line

Rosa "Luxemburg" Brooks, who writes what Patterico calls the weakest and most poorly reasoned column at the rapidly shrinking L. A. Times (no mean feat that), had another dusie two weekends ago about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, whom she called a nasty piece of work. Sounded good for a bit there.

Here is the gist of her argument, such as it is: From the beginning, the Bush administration should have called terrorism what it is: an ambitious form of lethal and complex criminality that at times requires a military response as well as a political and police response.

War, not an ambitious series of complex criminal acts, is being waged against us by radical Muslims whom some call islamofascist (while I prefer the term Jihadists). We tried to treat it as a crime during the Clinton administration. The effectiveness of that method was revealed on 9/11/01. Waging war against al Qaeda and the Muslim nations which harbor it and other Jihadi organizations, has not been without sacrifice, but it has been effective, so far, in preventing another attack. We are of course hopeful that the lack of repeat attacks here is not merely the result of a rest and refit period before another operation unfolds. Time will tell. I still prefer to wage war back at them, something Rosa Brooks will not support, no matter what the successes. To the left, nothing the Bush administration can do is good and effective and even the confession at a tribunal of the central architect of the 9/11 attacks is merely an opportunity to blackguard further our President.

Everyone and his brother knows this except, apparently, our Miss Brooks and the clueless wing of the Democratic Party she represents.


This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1942, the first trains with freight cars full of Jews, soon to be processed into the Endlosing, arrived at the Auschwitz and Birkenau Camps in Poland. This was the beginning of an industrial scale political (or ethnic) murder called the "Eichmann transport" after the Nazi official who organized it, Adolf Eichmann.


Thought of the Day

It is impossible for a stranger traveling through the United States to tell from the appearance of the people or the country whether he is in Toledo, Ohio, or Portland, Oregon. Ninety million Americans cut their hair in the same way, eat each morning exactly the same breakfast, tie up the small girls' curls with precisely the same kind of ribbon fashioned into bows exactly alike; and in every way all try to look and act as much like all the others as they can.

Lord Alfred Harmsworth Northcliffe

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Short TV Post

The final episode of Rome was OK--good, lean depiction of the battle of Actium-- but the series ended in a sort of whimper, I thought. There is another 350 years of interesting history to compress and gloss over, but it's tough, I guess, to get the excellent production values for a moderate cost, and the lowish number of viewers weren't making the figures work. I'll miss the completely made up story of Pullo and Vorenus, however, a great deal. The actors who played them, McKidd and Stevenson (and Purefoy as Mark Anthony) were really great, particularly Stevenson.

I have to reveal the roots of my utter geekitude to discuss what just went wrong with Battlestar Galactica (sorry, Les). I liked the original Star Trek episode with Ricardo Montalban and it was great that they brought him back for a role in the second movie, one of the few good ones. However, the storyline was bunk. He was in his 30s, at least, when he was involved in mid 1990s war on Earth, started by genetically enhanced leaders of which Montalban was one, the best of them, in fact, Khan Noonian Singh. So that meant he had to have been genetically altered in the early 60s and even as we watched Star Trek then, we knew that we didn't have the means of genetically manipulating (into eventual superior beings) babies or zygotes, or whatever, back then. We don't have it now. It was more than a mistake about the speed of our scientific advances in the future, it was a plot miscalculation and a stupid one at that. Not as bad as the Frank Gorshin horribleness, but bad.

Tonight they revealed four of the five final Cylon models (I guess we're supposed to guess until October at least who is the 5th. I go with Baltar for reasons I'll explain later). One of them is old Col. Tigh. Uh ho. Now I have always imagined that the Cylons that look like humans are manufactured in that goo bath and come out fully formed. Then they show up among us for spying and sabotage but they're only weeks old even though they look in their 30s to 60s and either have a false memory of a past or lie about their past. So Tigh could look 60 and still be a Cylon--no problem. But he can't have had a 40 year career among humans who know and remember him (he and Admiral Adama reminisce in the very first show) since before the first war because there is no way the Cylons were making human like Cylons before they rebelled in the first place. It's just stupid to make him a Cylon. It's the same sort of forgetting about the time he has been among the humans as an ultimate sleeper agent as happened with the childhood etc. of Khan.

Here is why I believe the 5th is Baltar. Cylons apparently like to sleep with other Cylons. They certainly can get on the same wavelength (the President's ability is a bit of a mystery there) as tonight's episode showed; so this 'psychic' connection must be sexual stimulating, or something. I know that one model seemed to have fallen in love with Starbuck who's probably not a Cylon (but I saw no evidence of sex between them--they were just playing house, kind of a murderous form of house). But think of who has paired up--all Cylons: The Chief and Boomer (I know she had a child with Helo but they made her do that); Sam and the President's aide; and, Baltar and 6. Ergo, Baltar must be a Cylon.

I know Lee and Starbuck got it on too, but there's only one spot left so it can't be both of them. Also Starbuck can't be both savior and Cylon, can she? Oh and the Chief has a wife probably not a Cylon, oh, and Ellen slept with everyone including a Cylon--maybe they'll bring her back from the dead too.

Finally, having the uniting or 'turning on' song be Dylan's All Along the Watchtower was another stupid idea. And hinting it in verses--which we recognize as they are being said-- was pretty silly too. Happy Birthday would have been a better choice, but any song we recognize is the wrong choice even though we have to recognize it for the 'scary' foreshadowing to work. Face it, any uniting song was kinda silly.

I fear the writers have run out of good ideas and are slapping together things that only sounded good at the time.


This Day in the History of Little Remembered Kings

On this day in 1306, Robert I, "the Bruce," was crowned King of Scots. Most history fans know about Scot victories over English forces like Bannockburn (1314) and William Wallace's modest successes before that, but few remember when the Scots were slaughtered by the English like at Halidon Hill (1333) and Flodden Field (1513). There's a reason for the United Kingdoms of Great Britain. England kept beating the snot out of the Scots every so often. A de facto union occurred at the beginning of the 17th Century. The Act of Union of 1707 made it de jure and, for all practical purposes, made Scotland merely a part of England, which it geographically is, I guess, just as Wales is, but which union seems slowly to be dissolving lately.


Thought of the Day

Hay smells different to lovers and horses.

Stanislaw Lec

Saturday, March 24, 2007

HamNation: Better Living Through Activism

I love these videos from Ms. Ham. My only quibble is that she should have thrown the real cat instead of a stuffed animal.


Watching Rome

As I viewed the penultimate episode of Rome on HBO, I was struck by Cleopatra VII's saying to Marcus Antonius about his desire for a war with Octavian--what does it matter how it starts as long as you win it, or words to that effect. Of course, we know that Anthony lost the war, on the sea at Actium to Agrippa, but that does not take away the wisdom of Cleopatra's words, a sort of 'history is written by the winners' comment.

Applying that to our recent history in the mid-east, it really won't matter how unpopular this war was (The Mexican War was the most unpopular war in American history ever--we still won). What was the source of so much discontent, on both sides of the political aisle, in recent months was that we seemed for a while there to be merely wasting lives while the Iraqi government did not step up to provide strong leadership to stem the Northern Ireland type stupid violence between slightly different religious factions and things were getting worse.

Things are definitely no longer getting worse and while they may not be getting better yet, as a result of our changed 'surge' tactics under General Petraeus, there is hope for the future, even the near future (even though fighting and casualties will continue for a long time--not as long as the Troubles, probably, but a long time). It has always been a mystery to me how the North in our civil war with a population of 20 million, couldn't just crush, in a few weeks, the South which had a population of only 6 million (with a third of that slaves or slave descendent and probably not too keen to support slavery), but no one dwells anymore on the series of ineffectual generals the North had for years because it eventually got good ones and crushed the South (about this time of year, 142 years ago). Only history fans know really how poorly the North waged the war for three of its four years, because its forces eventually won.

Fred Kagan and Bill Kristol have a good piece on how the Dems are dwelling in the past now in the stupid and ineffectual (and just barely passed) legislation they are supporting.

America rarely loses a war--we don't like to lose and we don't like the guys who want us to lose--or ultimately the guys who cause us to lose. Just as the Great Depression kicked out the Republicans from a sustained majority in Congress for 60 years, so too the Viet Nam war ultimately kicked out the Democrats from their former overwhelming majority in Congress (and certainly out of the White House except for southern exceptions from time to time). It is a dangerous game trying to sabotage a war politically, and the Democrats would do well to cease to play games in Congress and try actually to pass, through both houses, legislation which the President will sign. There is near zero probability that they will ever overcome a veto. The Dems haven't even gotten the minimum wage raised, have they? Most of the time in Congress has been spent 'protesting' the war with non-binding (and not passed in the Senate) resolutions and the recent emergency bill, a snafu which will probably not get through the Senate intact, much less be signed. Mere political theater during a time of war just seems wrong.

It seems like a loser's strategy.


Still Reason for Hope

In response to sports writer J. Paul Caulfeld's saying the Attorney General's office would soon drop the rest of the charges against the Duke lacrosse three, the AG's office issued this statement:

Our review of the case, including reviewing documents and conducting interviews, is still under way at this point and no decision has been made.

That's not really a denial--it's just saying it won't happen tomorrow; although most lawyers could review even the most complicated of cases in a few weeks, so one wonders what the hold up is. Good prosecutors, which group apparently does not include Mike Nifong, have a duty when the case goes as seriously south as this one has, to dismiss the charges as soon as possible. The stink of this dog of a case seems to be spreading past Duke U. and the Durham police and the district attorney's office into the soul of the North Carolina justice system. That's not so good.

The spokesman did say the review should be over in a few weeks. Most rational people even casually acquainted with the ever changing story from the 'victim,' hope and pray the AG's office does the right thing soon.

(h/t reader Tony)


This Day in the History of Well Remembered Queens

On this day in 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died at age 69, after ruling England for more than 40 years. Since she never married, she was called the ‘Virgin Queen.’ Yeah, right. My home state, Virginia, 400 years old this year, is named in honor of her nick name. She was one of the greatest monarchs in English history, and perhaps the most important woman in world history.


Thought of the Day

Don't let us make imaginary evils, when you know we have so many real ones to encounter.

Oliver Goldsmith

Friday, March 23, 2007


This Day in American History

On this day in 1775, at the Second Virginia Convention held in St. John's Episcopal Church (to the left, as it looks now) in Richmond, VA, Patrick Henry closed the sessions with a rousing speech recognizing that the colonies in the north were already fighting the war with England, finishing:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me Liberty or give me Death!


Thought of the Day

Man does not fear death, only the suffering.

Witold Gombrowicz

Thursday, March 22, 2007


We Hope This is True!

Fox News is reporting that the remaining charges in the non-(and never was a)-rape case involving the three Duke lacrosse team members may be dismissed within the next few days. Oh, happy days.

And note that dismissal of the wrongfully brought charges is an essential element to a suit for wrongful or malicious prosecution.

The source is a writer on lacrosse named Paul Caulfield, who said. There is no case here and they will be hearing a dismissal in the coming days. Let's hope he knows what he's talking about.

In related news, the prosecutor formerly in charge, Mike Nifong, had his hearing on charges of multiple ethics violations arising from his actions on this case he no longer handles scheduled for June 12, 2007. That's pretty quick. There's still no trial set in the Duke lacrosse case, even now.


Rare Sports Post

The Avalanche took apart the Edmonton Oilers last night 5-1, but it wasn't as close as that score indicates. The lads are chasing the last playoff spot and are 4 points behind the Calgary Flames who currently have it. The Flames play the best in the West Nashville Predators tonight and we play the Oilers again on Friday. I had given up on the Avs as far as the playoffs were concerned, but now I don't know. We have about as tough a schedule to the end of the month as they do...

UPDATE: The Flames beat the Predators in overtime--6 points back.

UPDATE 2: The Avs lost to the Oilers in the shoot-out, so 5 points back.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1765, the Stamp Act was enacted in Britain as a direct British tax on items in the American colonies. Although it only lasted just under a year, it was so unpopular that it remains high in the list of wrongs for which we sought redress in the American Revolution.


Thought of the Day

Practically all Science Fiction is trash.

Stanislaw Lem

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


More on Plame

I wrote this about a part of her testimony about her role in getting Joe Wilson to Niger (I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him. There was no nepotism involved. I did not have the authority). But I did not note this--If the very convenient leader (whom she can no longer remember) did actually say: What about your husband, Valerie? He'd be perfect for the job. Once she wrote the memo, she was in fact both suggesting and recommending her husband (which I think is in fact at least a form of nepotism), even if she was not the first to do so.

Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) who was on the Senate Committee who was investigating things (and discovered Joe Wilson's serial lies and the e-mail memorandum Valerie Plame wrote suggesting and recommending her husband for the job), took another look at the evidence, including the memo and sent his own e-mail to NRO's The Corner stating this:

I stand by the findings of the Committee’s report on the Niger-Iraq uranium information, including the information regarding Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.

We have checked the transcript of the comments made to the Committee by the former reports officer and I stand by the Committee’s description of his comments. If the reports officer would like to clarify or change his remarks, I’m certain that the Committee would welcome his testimony.

We have also checked the memorandum written by Ms. Wilson suggesting her husband to look into the Niger reporting. I also stand by the Committee’s finding that this memorandum indicates Ms. Wilson did suggest her husband for a Niger inquiry. Because the quote [the portion of the memo quoted in the Senate report] obviously does not represent the entirety of the memorandum, I suggest that the House Government Reform Committee request and examine this memorandum themselves. I am confident that they will come to the same conclusion as our bipartisan membership did.

So she lied under oath to Congress, which is two crimes.

I somehow doubt she will share the same fate as Scooter Libby.


This Day in American Invention History

On this day in 1991, Leo Fender died at age 82. He was an inventor and manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, including the first solid-body electric guitar to be mass-produced: the Fender Broadcaster (1948). It was renamed the Telecaster two years later. It remains a favorite among Country and Western guitarists. He was an electronics enthusiast and radio repairman who got involved with guitar design after guitar-playing customers kept bringing him their external pickups for repair. Before Fender came along, guitarists met their amplification needs by attaching pickups to the surface of their hollow-bodied instruments. The Stratocaster (1954), had a flashier, contoured, double-cutaway body, with three (as opposed to two) single-coil pickups and a revolutionary string-bending unit, known as the tremolo or twang bar. It became a much favored model of rock guitarists.

(h/t Today in Science History)


Thought of the Day

I am going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer than usual. Call the time Eternity.

Jerzy Kosinski (his suicide note)

The Painted Bird and Blind Date are good. The rest, not so good. Steps, which won a National Book Award, is just plain awful.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Careful Review of Ausi Jihadi Claims

Here's a long story in the New York Times about an Australian, David Hicks, who was captured fighting with the Taliban a few months after 9/11. He is being tried in Guantanamo and he alleged in 'court papers' that he was abused by his American guards and interrogators before he got to Guantanamo and not since, although he says he now regularly gets shots which make him feel funny. The use of the word 'abuse' is very telling. The word 'torture' is sprinkled in the story but not really used by the reporter to describe what Hicks alleges was happening to him and others.

It is a tale of occasional rough treatment. Oh, no.

I would much rather know how an Ausi ended up in Afghanistan supporting the Taliban, but that is a story for another day, I guess.

The reporter does mention the possibility of a plea to supporting a terrorist group for time served. I wonder if he'll take that deal?


War Crimes

There are four major Iraq war crimes wending their way to justice, in which our guys are in the dock--Killing the wrong guy (Hashim Ibrahim Awad), shooting some prisoners, the horrible rape murder and Haditha. All but Haditha are pretty much over and our guys were pretty much guilty in the three. In the shooting prisoners case, the two shooters pled out and testified against their sergeant who was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to 10 years (the shooters got 18) and another guy pled out and got less than a year. Guys are admitting guilt in the wrong guy case and in the rape murder. I keep holding out hope that, in the Haditha case, our guys are acquitted, just to show Rep. Jack 'no bribe at this time' Murtha (D-PA) has his head up his ass for his sentence first, trial later, well covered opinions.


This Day in the History of Not That Effective Terrorist Attacks

On this day in 1995, in Tokyo, 12 people were killed and more than 5,500 others sickened when packages containing poisonous gas (the nerve agent Sarin) leaked on five separate subway trains. This extreme ratio of dead to injured is typical of poison gas attacks during WWI and the very recent chlorine gas attacks in Iraq, but one would think, with as lethal an agent as Sarin in an enclosed space like the subway, that at least hundreds would have died. The logical conclusion is that even nerve gas is just not that deadly in real world war uses.


Thought of the Day

The difference between western and eastern intellectuals is that the former have not been kicked in the ass enough.

Witold Gombrowicz

Monday, March 19, 2007


Short TV Post

Rome is down to one last episode, Battlestar Galactica has been a little weak for abut 8 episodes and will soon end until next season, but another decent show started on FX called The Riches with executive transvestite comedian Eddie Izzard and slimmed down but slightly off putting Minnie Driver as Irish-American Gypsies (Travelers) who, with their children (one of them a young Eddie) assume the identity of a road dead couple and 'steal' the American Dream. Izzard is a wonder and Driver is superb as a woman with a severe drug habit and a loving but not quite trustworthy husband, trying to keep it together. I'm not buying it for a second, even with our bowling alone society, but it's a fun ride just for Izzard.

Today he and his new boss shot a short barrel Colt Python and a Smith & Wesson J frame, both in .357, into the photos of the faces of neighbors etc. as paper targets, and grouped three inches at about 30 yards (nice shootin', Tex) but it was all fake, of course, as the gun didn't even move a millimeter in recoil when he fired it (a sure sign of blanks--it's not really the insubstantial gas jet leaving the barrel which sends the gun back, it's the substantial bullet at speed which, leaving one way, drives the gun the other way. Something to do with Newton's third law). And the bullets came out the targets from behind, per usual.

Check it out, even if you hate films that glorify Travelers, like I do.


Horrible News From Washington

A recent study indicates that 36% of the adult residents of the District of Columbia are functionally illiterate. That means that over one third of the people who live in our nation's capital can't actually read. That's well above the average of just over one fifth everywhere else in America. I can make fun of those people here, because they can't read this to know, but I won't.

My Catholic friends who went to Georgetown in the 70s say that sounds about right, based on their experience.

I think 20% is a crime, that a third of the adults in a school district that now spends more than $15,000 per pupil per year is very disheartening.

I'm sorry but I'm too bummed out about this to make a joke about the DC city government or Congress, or the Presidency, for that matter. I don't think George Bush the younger is dumb, but I do believe he has a learning disability not dyslexia.


Ethnic Food

Call me an ethnofascistic xenophobe if you want, but I've got a little problem with this:

In 2003, a large suitcase containing the remains of 26 butchered monkeys was confiscated at Logan Airport in Boston on its way from Ghana.

The 300 pounds of raw meat, destined to be served as the main course at a wedding in New Hampshire, was "oozing out of its container," said Tom Healy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Experts estimate that about 500 million wild animals, from cane rats to elephants, have been killed in Central Africa for their meat. In the Congo Basin alone, this "bushmeat" is consumed on the order of 1 to 5 million metric tons, or the equivalent of 9 to 45 billion quarter pounders.
A small percentage of that meat finds its way into the United States, and with it, scientists warn, comes a potential public health crisis.

Cane rat, monkey and bat are the bushmeats most often found being smuggled into the United States, and according to Jennifer McQuiston, a veterinarian at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, each is known to carry diseases that can be deadly to humans.

"Rodents from Africa carry viruses like monkeypox, and nonhuman primates can carry Ebola and tuberculosis," she said.

In 2003, more than 50 people across the Midwestern United States were diagnosed with monkeypox. Scientists traced the outbreak to a Texas pet shop that sold domesticated prairie dogs, as well as a giant infected rat imported from Gambia.


Last year federal agents found 33 pieces of bushmeat, including a monkey arm hidden under dried fish in the garage of a Liberian immigrant living in Staten Island, N.Y. Mamie Jefferson, 39, who is still awaiting trial on smuggling charges, says that consuming bushmeat is a religious practice protected by the First Amendment.

Anecdotal evidence suggests a variety of ways the meat is smuggled into the country, Eves said.
"Carrying it in duty-free bags through customs, in luggage, shipping it in the mail and carrying it on their bodies. On the commercial level, shipments are often embedded in dried fish," she said.

From there, it often finds its way into the markets of American cities that have large concentrations of immigrants from Western and Central Africa.


The risk of diseases jumping from animals to humans is very real. In addition to the SARS and bird flu epidemics out of Asia in recent years, "it is generally understood that HIV arose through contact with nonhuman primates," said Nina Marano, a veterinarian at the CDC.

Increased human contact with wild animals -- from butchering to eating -- increases the risk of infection for a host of diseases, some well-known, others less so. Simian foamy virus, a retrovirus in the same family of diseases as HIV, "is associated with people who butcher nonhuman primates," Marano said.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1942, President F.D. Roosevelt ordered men between 45-64 to register for non-military service. We put 17 million in uniform by the end of that war, because we had to, the German and Japanese military forces were that good.


Thought of the Day

Every man of genius is considerably helped by being dead.

Robert Lynd

Sunday, March 18, 2007


No Caption Needed

(h/t Rob at Say Anything)


Different Generations

Since there are people out there who were alive during WWII, perhaps they can help me here. I wonder if any of the mothers and fathers who lost sons in that war blamed Presidents Roosevelt or Truman rather than Tojo or Hitler, or the troops of Germany and Japan.

Just wondering?


Photos From the Central Front

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Airik Mutschler, from the 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, overlooks the city of Kirkuk through the sights of a SAW, the Squad Automatic Weapon, designated M 249B, while manning his post at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, on March 10, 2007. The 506th ESFS is responsible for securing the base perimeter by providing an armed response when required, law and order for safety of all base residents and by providing base defense command and control. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bradley A. Lail.

The bad news is that we're using a Belgium made machine gun, and the worse news is that it's in 5,64 mm (Winchester .223). The good news is that the Belgiums are making a version in 7,61 mm (NATO .308), the M240, which has the confidence of almost all who use it.


This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1938, a new German Weapons Law was passed--a tough gun control law, which revised several earlier versions, and ensured only National Socialist Party members could own or carry weapons, especially handguns. More proof, if you needed it, that the Nazis were lefties.


Thought of the Day

Friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals; love, an abject intercourse between tyrants and slaves.

Oliver Goldsmith

Saturday, March 17, 2007


War is Not the ANSWER

Unless the question is: How can we stop foreign extremists from invading other countries and killing people there, et al.?

I just watched Cindy Sheehan and others speak at the ANSWER (an organization founded by the WWP, Workers World Party--for whom post-Stalinist communism was not rigorous enough) rally. It's the fourth anniversary of the start of a now unpopular and frustrating war and how many people have descended on Washington to protest it? Looks like about 4,000 to me.

I lived only 100 miles south of the nation's capital 4 decades ago, and I can recall mid-November, 1969, when about 700,000 descended on DC and gave the police a lot of overtime work. Even on April, 24, 1971, there were 500,000 in Washington protesting the war. Heck, I've seen bigger anti-war rallies at Stanford (Free the El Camino 600!) in 1972, when we were actually phased withdrawing from Viet Nam.

The thing I noticed is that in the late 60s and early 70s, all the speakers talked about at the anti-war rallies was, well, the war in Viet Nam. Now they're talking about the School of Americas, Palestinian rights, some guy in jail regarding Cuba, and a dozen other subjects, of very narrow interest, before Cindy Sheehan demonstrates her lack of a grounding in reality once again.

I hear the Gathering of Eagles had just as many counter-protestors (almost all of them Veterans) as the loopy lefties. Way to go, guys.

In defense of the lefty protestors, Global Warming has apparently made the ambient temperature in DC about 35, even though it's the last week of Winter. It's never pleasant to protest when the weather is cold, wet and windy.


Plame Timeline

Proving that you can always learn more about anything, here is an instructive timeline and reasonable inferences therefrom at the Sweetness and Light blog. Here are my favorite details:

February 28, 2003: Joe Wilson was interviewed by Bill Moyers. Wilson agreed with Bush’s SOTU remarks, and reiterated his belief that Saddam had WMD and that he would use them on US troops.

MOYERS: President Bush’s recent speech to the American Enterprise Institute, he said, let me quote it to you. "The danger posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons cannot be ignored or wished away." You agree with that?
WILSON: I agree with that. Sure.
MOYERS: "The danger must be confronted." You agree with that? "We would hope that the Iraqi regime will meet the demands of the United Nations and disarm fully and peacefully. If it does not, we are prepared to disarm Iraq by force. Either way, this danger will be removed. The safety of the American people depends on ending this direct and growing threat." You agree with that?
WILSON: I agree with that. Sure. The President goes on to say in that speech as he did in the State of the Union Address is we will liberate Iraq from a brutal dictator. All of which is true. But the only thing Saddam Hussein hears in this speech or the State of the Union Address is, "He’s coming to kill me. He doesn’t care if I have weapons of mass destruction or not. His objective is to come and overthrow my regime and to kill me." And that then does not provide any incentive whatsoever to disarm. (Emphasis added).


March 8, 2003: CNN’s Renay San Miguel interviewed Joe Wilson about the so-called Niger forgeries.

SAN MIGUEL: So how do you play this, then? I mean, what, do you admit it, do you just move on? Do you try to get these things verified if you do believe, indeed, that Iraq was trying to buy this material from Niger? I mean, how do you handle this? What’s the damage control on this?
WILSON: I have no idea. I’m not in the government. I would not want to be doing damage control on this. I think you probably just fess up and try to move on and say there’s sufficient other evidence to convict Saddam of being involved in the nuclear arms trade. (Emphasis added).

Note that up until at least March 8, 2003 Joe Wilson still contended that Saddam had WMD and that he was involved in the nuclear arms trade.

So what happened after March 8th to make Wilson change his tune about the Iraq’s WMD and re-write his findings from his trip to Niger? A version in direct contradiction to what he told his CIA debriefers, according to the 9/11 Commission?

The answer is easy. The US invaded Iraq in March and after searching for two months, admitted they had not found any stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.


Jack Kelly Talks Sense

Pittsburg paper columnist and blogger, Jack Kelly, has a column today I hope the President's staff, at least, reads. Here are the parts I think are true:

President Bush caused himself no end of grief when he apologized for saying in his 2003 state of the union address "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," even though every word of it was true.

That blunder may have been topped by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at his news conference last Wednesday. The "senior Justice Department official" who told reporters Mr. Gonzales' performance was "disastrous" was being kind.

Memo to the President--apologize for errors, defend the truth no matter how unpopular and stand with those who stand by you, like Scooter. You will gain nothing by agreeing with the left, but further disdain and criticism from them and the growing doubts from disgust with spinelessness from your base. But perhaps that's just me.


Fair and Balanced Proposal Regarding Plame

I am perfectly willing to admit that members of the federal government should be more careful about talking to reporters about people who work at the CIA. It could be that they are talking about desk jockies with neither a history nor a future in the field, but it could be they are either exposing spies or undoing things those spies have accomplished.

That being said, it's kind of important for an honest to Pete real spy not to allow her spouse to invite the spotlight on his whole family (by first her proposing the spouse for a 'spy' mission and then by his lying about that and about the spy mission itself in the New York Times), and it certainly should be the practice of a real spy who does not want anyone to recognize her for her secret past, not to pose for Vanity Fair cameras.

I think Valerie Plames career as a spy, such as it was, was over for several reasons, not the least of which was that she was a mother of twins, well before Richard Armitage mentioned her to Bob Woodward and Bob Novak, but it certainly was over when she posed for the cover of a big glossy magazine.

These guys agree. I wonder if there are any reasonable people on the left who can.


This Day in the History of Little Remembered Kings

On this day in 1040, Harold Harefoot, King of England, died, and was succeeded by Harthacanute, King of Denmark, who ruled poorly for two years and died from binge drinking induced convulsions. The throne then returned to Saxon hands for 24 years under Edward the Confessor. All the while french speaking vikings, particularly Guillaume II, duc de Normandie, were looking longingly across the channel.


Thought of the Day

With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.

Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison

Friday, March 16, 2007


Plame Makes Some Bold Claims

In her testimony today (sworn) before Henry Waxman's House sub-committee Valerie Plame probably said some things she shouldn't have. I'll just focus on one. I don't yet have the transcript of anything but her opening statement, but here is a long story, and a pretty fair one, from Matt Apuzzo.

Valerie Plame flat out denied the report she had suggested her husband for the trip to Niger, saying: I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him. There was no nepotism involved. I did not have the authority. (Not having the authority to pick him for the job is not the same as not having the authority to write a memo, which she very clearly did, which both recommended and suggested him--does she think we are stupid?)

Here's what the bipartisan committee, on page 39, wrote: The CPD reports officer told Committee staff that the former ambassador's wife "offered up his name" and a memorandum to the Deputy Chief of the CPD on February 12, 2002 [a day before Cheney's briefing regarding Niger yellowcake, by the way, hmmm?] from the former ambassador's wife says, "my husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed some light on this sort of activity."

Oh, my. Whom to believe?

She also contradicts Robert Grenier who recently testified (under oath) against Libby and said that a CIA guy he contacted "mentioned" that Wilson's wife worked in the division and was the impetus behind the trip. "I am certain the individual did not tell me the name, only that it was Ambassador Wilson's wife."

Because there is an e-mail memorandum from her to her superior, she could not possibly deny that she wrote the memo--so here's her explanation how she wrote the memo which suggested her husband was a good choice for the job, even though she did not suggest her husband was a good choice for the job. It's pretty funny:

An officer serving under her was upset to have received an inquiry from the vice president's office about yellowcake from Niger and evidently, while she was comforting that junior officer, some guy walked by her office and suggested her husband should go to Niger to check it out.

Then her supervisor asked her to write an e-mail about the idea. She did so. That e-mail, she said, was the basis for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence claim that she had been responsible for sending her husband to Niger for the CIA.
John Podhoretz writes: In other words, she didn't recommend him or suggest him. Rather, it was a guy who walked by.

OK, one more short one.

She and her husband have sued the government for several members' gossiping about where she worked alleging in the first paragraph that: This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of one such human source at the CIA, Valerie Plame Wilson... (Emphasis added).

Here's what she said under oath about those same actions--senior officials at the White House and State Department "carelessly and recklessly" blew her cover... (Emphasis added).

OOPS. That second statement is a much different accusation (and a loser accusation under the circumstances, due to governmental immunity). I don't think the lawsuit has the legs she and Joe hoped it would have.


Rough Work For Nifong Replacements in Durham

ABC News has the not very surprising tale that the so called victim in the Duke Lacrosse players non-rape case is not being very co-operative with the prosecutors from the Attorney General's offce, who have had to take over this dog of a case after Durham DA Mike Nifong screwed up so badly he may well be disbarred. The article spends about two of its four pages talking about how sexual assault victims (real ones, that is) have difficulty remembering the crime.

I have a different explanation--she's been lying since day one and doesn't want to go to jail for false reporting now that the incredibly naive, 'I'll buy as many versions as you have' DA is off the case.


Will Valerie Plame Be Sworn?

Serial liar Joe Wilson's wife, former CIA employee, Valerie Plame will testify before a House committee today. We'll see if any of the Republicans on the committee have any curiosity about her 'covert' status, and travel on Agency business in the 5 years before her mention in Robert Novak's column years ago. These are elements of violation of the identities protection act and to date no one can say with certainty what her status was.

I predict that the Democrats will seek to portray her as a victim of a Bush White House conspiracy (a charge we know is false). Let's recap--she retires from the CIA with her pension and other cushy benefits, gets a milti-million dollar book deal, will soon have a Hollywood movie made about her and is moving to Santa Fe for her comfy retirement. We should all be so victimized.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1802, Congress authorized the establishment of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. And as a result, our Army officer corps have been generally superb for over 200 years.


Thought of the Day

Everybody sets out to do something, and everybody does something, but no one does what he sets out to do.

George Moore

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I'm Shocked, Shocked

The New York Times continues in manufactured high dudgeon about the firing of 8 U.S. Attorneys with an unintentionally comical editorial and an equally slanted news piece that Carl Rove showed interest by e-mail regarding the firings. So let me get this straight--the President's top political advisor showed an interest in the political effects of the perfectly legal but probably politically motivated firings of political appointees by other politicians in Washington, D.C. Oh, the humanity.

During the Gregoire 'count 'em until they come out right' disgrace in the state of Washington two and a half years ago, Stefan Sharkansky was discovering a boat load of fraudulent voter registrations and probably a lot of fraudulent ballots, but the crack, former U. S. Attorney, John McKay, has said concerning the allegations: There was no evidence.

That's good enough for the NYT editors, who go on to state not only that the Administration's reasons given for the firings were frauds but further: These charges, like the accusation that Mr. McKay and other United States attorneys were insufficiently aggressive about voter fraud, are a way of saying, without actually saying, that they would not use their offices to help Republicans win elections.

Help Republicans win elections? Since when did a federal prosecution for voter fraud overturn a stolen election for Governor? I have to admit that I'm laughing at the editors here.

Regarding Rove and others in the administration, no reason for replacing some of the U. S. Attorneys is good enough. Witness:

The White House and Justice Department have defended the dismissals as appropriate, pointing out that the prosecutors are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president. But some of the fired prosecutors told Congress that Republican lawmakers had pressed them about corruption or voter fraud investigations, provoking charges from Democrats that the dismissals may have been political and that they threatened the traditional independence of the prosecutors.

...the traditional independence of the prosecutors. Where do the NYT editors live, Pollyannaville?

This is a 'no there, there' sort of faux scandal which only begins to sour the more spineless the Attorney General and the President sound in defense of the firings. The Senate sub-committee will kick Mr. Gonzales around for a couple of hours and the Democrats will huff and puff afterwards and the partisan and ignorant will think something bad happened when it didn't. You know, the usual.

The U. S. Attorneys indeed serve at the pleasure of the President and George Bush was displeased with some who would not do or would not do with sufficient zeal what they were asked to do. Happens all the time.

...the traditional independence of the prosecutors. That's a good one. I'm still laughing at that one.


Guantanamo Confessions

Khalid Sheikh Muhammed has confessed to masterminding the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks on the twin towers and pentagon, et al. I thought we already knew that.

How are the willful fools who believe the silly conspiracy claims of Dylan Avery as shown on the web video Loose Change? I predict he and the rest of the nuts will just ignore it (or say it is merely part of the conspiracy).


Historical Perspective on the Surge

Classicist and war historian Victor Davis Hanson names all the precedents from history I can think of for hope regarding General Petraeus' new tactics of the surge. Best paragraphs:

But has a single commander ever made much of a difference in almost instantly turning around an entire theater?

In fact, yes. The once relatively unknown Gens. Ulysses S. Grant, Curtis LeMay and George S. Patton all found renown only after replacing their failed predecessors. Indeed, in almost every war, on occasion a single general can so radically change the pulse of the battlefield that a political victory becomes possible where once the public thought it was utterly improbable.


After the bleak summer of 1864, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman saved the Union cause, and with it the Lincoln presidency, by taking Atlanta. By winter, we will see whether David Petraeus can likewise do the unexpected in Baghdad.



Here's a video of fighting in Afghanistan last summer set to rock music. I don't know which stirs a male spirit more--tracer rounds at night or cluster bombs in the morning. I hate the Taliban's intolerance and illegal tactics, but I begin to feel a little sorry for them and the slaughter they will suffer in the coming Dreaded Spring Offensive.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day, the Ides of March, in 44 B.C., Gaius Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate by a group of conspirators led by Cimber, Casca, Cassius, and Marcus Junius Brutus. To the question, Et tu, Brute? allegedly came this reply: Sic semper tyrannis.


Thought of the Day

I go to church because I am a skeptic in regard to my own skepticism.

Henryk Sienkiewicz

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Misreading the Second Amendment and Miller

The New York Times, reacting swiftly, has an unsigned editorial today saying the Parker case announced last Friday by a D.C. Circuit panel is a terrible case which "must be overturned." Color me not exactly shocked.

The Miller case from 1939 is really the only Supreme Court case on the Second Amendment. It concerned a sawed off shotgun. The question in that case was not whether the Second Amendment gave an individual right to keep and bear arms, the question was whether a short shotgun was the type of weapon a Militiaman would use. Had there been any evidence that it was, then the law banning its possession would clearly have been held unconstitutional, as it had been at the trial court level. The enemies of the Second Amendment mistake the focus of the court in Miller and say it stands for what it doesn't. The New York Times editors continue that mistake. What else is new?

And I really love this last part:

The new decision jeopardizes sound legal precedent and the district's law. It would imperil needed gun controls in place in jurisdictions around the country at a time when violent crime in many places is once again on the rise. (Emphasis added).

As John Lott points out, the main effect of the 1976 gun ban in D.C was to cause murder and robbery to rise sharply. If the gun ban was successful, rather than absolutely counterproductive, I'd be tempted to put up with an unconstitutional law that saved a lot of lives, but an unconstitutional law which causes more violent crime could only be supported by the legal geniuses on the left and at the New York Times. Same dif.


Bad Legal Advice

Walter Dellinger and Christopher Schroeder have an op-ed in today's NYT where they say, among other things, that the Congress can indeed hamstring the commander in chief with laws made under their constitutional power "to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." I always thought that power was to make rules for the armed forces just as they make them for us regular citizens. Certainly they do not have commander in chief powers and attempting to usurp what is given solely to the President would be a real constitutional crisis. But even if they could get it done, it still wouldn't be a good idea.

This brings up a question. One of the many Democrat plans to try to insure defeat in Iraq is to take back the war declaration equivalent Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq. President Bush is unlikely to sign that if the Democrats could even pass it, and I doubt seriously they have the 2/3 it would take to override a veto. President Bush certainly would also veto any bill that usurped his commander in chief powers. So what, exactly, is the planning of defeat all about? Despite this brainstorming session by the seriously lefty lawyers, cutting off the funds appears to be all Congress can do and the Dems are too timid (or patriotic) to take the political heat for such an irresponsible act.


This Day in History

On this day in 1883, German political philosopher Karl Marx died in London. A great intellect who often worked 18 hours a day in the library of the British Museum, his lengthy German sentences are often impenetrable. Although his criticism of capitalism was cogent, his economic solution, running, as it does, counter to human nature, is responsible for more death and suffering than any other political philosophy. His central concept of dialectic materialism remains at best a monumental failure of intellect, understood, if at all, by very few and useful to none. His work seems now a wrong turn down a very bloody and blind alley.


Thought of the Day

Two kinds of men generally succeed best in political life--men of no principle, but of great talent, and men of no talent, but one principle: of obedience to their superior.

Abolitionist Wendel Phillips

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Deserving of Criticism

Yesterday the L. A. Times carried an editorial which I found to be somewhat critical of Speaker Pelosi and indeed of all the Democrats regarding Iraq. Now it's the Washington Post's turn. Man, how bad are you when the normally reliable cheerleaders are turning against you?

Best paragraph from Do we really need a Gen. Pelosi? in the Times:

Members of Congress need to act responsibly, debating the essence of the choice the United States now faces -- to stay or go -- and putting their money where their mouths are. But too many lives are at stake to allow members of Congress to play the role of Eisenhower or Lincoln.

Best paragraph from The Pelosi Plan for Iraq from the Post:

In short, the Democratic proposal to be taken up this week is an attempt to impose detailed management on a war without regard for the war itself. Will Iraq collapse into unrestrained civil conflict with "massive civilian casualties," as the U.S. intelligence community predicts in the event of a rapid withdrawal? Will al-Qaeda establish a powerful new base for launching attacks on the United States and its allies? Will there be a regional war that sucks in Iraqi neighbors such as Saudi Arabia or Turkey? The House legislation is indifferent: Whether or not any of those events happened, U.S. forces would be gone.

They sound like Vice President Cheney.


Tales of Gore Criticism are Somewhat Exaggerated

The New York Times has an article about Al Gore's Oscar winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, which was hyped as a hit piece on the movie, but it is very tepid criticism, very tepid indeed.


This Day in American History

On this day in 1865, the Confederate Congress authorized the enlistment of up to 300,000 slaves as soldiers, in exchange for their freedom. Little late to use 30% of the population, whose Northern counterparts had proved their courage and fighting skills time and again. The Confederacy didn't last a full month after this action, which should have taken place the day after Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation. Even better would have been Longstreet's idea that each state should have freed its slaves as it withdrew from the Union.


Thought of the Day

What's another word for "Thesaurus?"

Steven Wright

Monday, March 12, 2007


A Report That Raises More Questions Than it Answers

This Reuters story by 'special correspondent' Alistair Lyon carries the headline: Misery tempts Palestinian Christians to flee. Here's the first paragraph:

Despairing of life under Israeli occupation, many Palestinian Christians are moving abroad, threatening their ancient links to Bethlehem and the land where Jesus was born.

Forgive me for thinking, based on that sentence, that the Christians were leaving the Bethlehem in the West Bank, (of the former Kingdom of Transjordan, of the former British Palestine Mandate, of the former Ottoman Empire) BECAUSE of the Israeli occupation. It turns out not to be the case.

There's this atrociously unfair paragraph: A towering concrete wall is closing in on Bethlehem as part of a barrier that Israel is erecting, which it calls a defense against suicide bombers from the occupied West Bank. Much of it has been built on Palestinian land.

Were there not suicide bombers entering Israel from the West Bank which the fence has greatly reduced? Mr. Lyon seems under the delusion that the second Intifada grisly death toll is some sort of Israeli propaganda.

Then come the real reasons both Christians and Muslims have left and are leaving Bethlehem.

1) The aid-dependent Palestinian economy took a devastating hit when international donors decided to boycott a Hamas government formed after the Islamists won an election in January 2006.

How is that Israel's fault? It isn't. The Palestinians have only to look in a mirror to see who is responsible for the cutting off of the European dole they have relied on for 50 years or more. The rest need no comment.

2) Violent infighting between Hamas and the once-dominant Fatah faction has driven Palestinians closer to breaking point.

3) Two-thirds of the population now live in poverty, according to the British charity Oxfam, with more than half unable to meet their families' daily food requirements without assistance.

4) ... most [Christians] cited similar motives to Muslim migrants -- political conditions, unemployment and lawlessness, although discomfort with rising Muslim militancy was a factor for some.

It would appear to most fair-minded readers that the Palestinians are responsible for the growing self-exile of the Palestinians, but there's a greater historical precedent for blaming the Jews for, well, everything.

Here's where I wish the writer had had either a bit of human curiosity (or less stringent lefty blinders on):

About 50,000 Christians live in the territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war -- east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Another 110,00 reside in Israel.

And what's the emigration rate for the Christians who reside in Israel? I'd bet a lot less want out of that particular Israeli occupation. Anyone care to bet against me?


This Day in History

On this day in 1940, the Winter War ends badly for the Commies as Finland and the Soviet Union concluded an armistice. It was a small part of the inspiration for Hitler's plans to invade the USSR in Spring of 1941, that the Soviets had been unable to defeat a little country like Finland.


Thought of the Day

Quid, cedo, te obsecro tam abhornet hilaritudo?


How, tell us, I beseech you, can you and cheerfulness be complete strangers?

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Friday Movie Review (quite late)

Went with Beata to see the Best Foreign Film this past year, Das Leben der Anderen, The Lives of Others, set in East Berlin (probably mainly in the artsy section whose name I've forgotten) beginning in 1984, it is the tale of human connection without connection and anonymous redemption. It is by far the best German movie I have ever seen (but perhaps that is faint praise). It is made by more than a mouthful sophomore director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and my hat's off to him--there's nothing too stylistically cutting edge, no green screen magic, but it tells a heck of a story.

It is not a cautionary tale of what the right wing is currently doing in America, although there have to be some on the left who think that. It is a single tale from the billion page history of 20th Century left wing excesses, where nearly all the political murder, violence and soul numbing state security turning of informants was perpetrated by the left. In that sense it is 100% looking back, and not in the ostalgia we've seen some in reunified Germany have for the old days before the wall fell, especially evident in comedies like Sonnenallee and Good Bye, Lenin!

This is the dark side of a communist dictatorship, here the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) East Germany, which was policed by the technically proficient Stasi, but ruled by the weakness and whim of corrupt men. Men with huge tidywhities who rape women in the back of their imported Volvo limos while the rest of the people walk or drive the execrable Trabant. That's the plot starter--mere lust, for which the nomenklaturnik denounces a loyal playwrite in order to remove a rival. But that's not the worst of it--the betrayal of the hero playwrite by his actress/lover is as complete as Winston Smith's of his lover in 1984--Do it to Julia indeed. Heartbreaking. And she knows it and takes the proper if tragic course of the betrayer.

But it's not a complete downer as some German films are wont to be--this has a wealth of human emotion, telling detail after telling detail, with enough irony to keep a film discussion going into the small hours. And as small as it is, there is a triumph of the human spirit in the arc of the anti-hero from a terrible sword and shield of the state to ein guter Mensch, who buys the book dedicated to him in the Karl Marx bookstore for himself. You don't cry, but you sure are glad you saw it.

It's 2 and a quarter hours long but it has enough edge of your chair suspense that it mostly flies by. Great performances by lead lovers Sebastian Koch and Martina Gedeck and by the bad guys, with the same first name, Ulrich Muehe and Ulrich Tukur. Muehe (who has an umlaut rather than a first 'e' in his name) is really superb. A lot of people were complaining that they couldn't see why he would change--I thought he made it real with his tightly controlled acting--being smitten by Martina, hearing the truth from a little boy, finding out why he was placing Sebastian under surveillance and growing to admire him. I thought it made a lot of psychological sense. It has sub-titles, so soldier on if you don't speak German, but it is pretty magnificent, just the history makes this a must see.


The New York Times Sunday Magazine on the Law and the Brain

Very interesting, but I wish I had more confidence in 'brain' science. Of course, I'm slowly but surely losing my confidence in the law, so that soon I will trust neither. That's not so good.

UPDATE: An equally interesting article there on the limits of our knowledge of the physical universe. Who knew we don't even know the basics?

When the New York Times is good, it's very good.


The Great Global Warming Swindle

I despaired that the BBC America channel I watch from time to time(lord) would ever show the channel 4 program which debunked if not the Global Warming scare (although I thought it was very effective in doing that) at least the lie that there is no longer any scientific debate on the subject. So I was glad to see that Little Green Footballs has it on a small screen, but very clear, video. It's long, nearly an hour 16 minutes, but it is very good.


Kagan Actually Says the Surge is Working

Robert Kagan, at the Washington Post, has a very optimistic column today which, as Hugh Hewitt implies, everyone should read. Now.

Money quote:

Leading journalists have been reporting for some time that the war was hopeless, a fiasco that could not be salvaged by more troops and a new counterinsurgency strategy. The conventional wisdom in December held that sending more troops was politically impossible after the antiwar tenor of the midterm elections. It was practically impossible because the extra troops didn't exist. Even if the troops did exist, they could not make a difference.

Four months later, the once insurmountable political opposition has been surmounted. The nonexistent troops are flowing into Iraq. And though it is still early and horrible acts of violence continue, there is substantial evidence that the new counterinsurgency strategy, backed by the infusion of new forces, is having a significant effect.


Steyn Goes Bitter

Mark Steyn is witty but humorless as he recounts the many instances of disgraceful conduct by the real players in the Plame kerfuffle. And he doesn't even mention the huge damage Fitzgerald has done to journalists. It was a very sad day when David Corn speculated (wrongly it turns out) that the White House conspired to punish truth telling (yeah, right) Joe Wilson by 'outing' his CIA wife, and not just for Libby.

Money quote:

The prosecutor knew from the beginning that (a) leaking Valerie Plame's name was not a crime and (b) the guy who did it was Richard Armitage. In other words, he was aware that the public and media perception of this ''case'' was entirely wrong: There was no conspiracy by Bush ideologues to damage a whistleblower, only an anti-war official making an offhand remark to an anti-war reporter. Even the usual appeals to prosecutorial discretion (Libby was a peripheral figure with only he said/she said evidence in an investigation with no underlying crime) don't convey the scale of Fitzgerald's perversity: He knew, in fact, that there was no cloud, that under all the dark scudding about Rove and Cheney there was only sunny Richard Armitage blabbing away accidentally. Yet he chose to let the entirely false impression of his ''case'' sit out there month in, month out, year after year, glowering over the White House, doing great damage to the presidency on the critical issue of the day.

So much of the current degraded discourse on the war -- ''Bush lied'' -- comes from the false perceptions of the Joe Wilson Niger story. Britain's MI-6, the French, the Italians and most other functioning intelligence services believe Saddam was trying to procure uranium from Africa. Lord Butler's special investigation supports it. So does the Senate Intelligence Committee. So Wilson's original charge is if not false then at the very least unproven, and the conspiracy arising therefrom entirely nonexistent. But the damage inflicted by the cloud is real and lasting.

As for Scooter Libby, he faces up to 25 years in jail for the crime of failing to remember when he first heard the name of Valerie Plame -- whether by accident or intent no one can ever say for sure. But we also know that Joe Wilson failed to remember that his original briefing to the CIA after getting back from Niger was significantly different from the way he characterized it in his op-ed in the New York Times. We do know that the contemptible Armitage failed to come forward and clear the air as his colleagues were smeared for months on end. We do know that his boss Colin Powell sat by as the very character of the administration was corroded.


It's the End of the World as We Know It

The scientist written part of the IPCC report on global warming, as opposed to the bureaucrat written summary which came out earlier this year (sentence first, trial afterwards) is being leaked and part of it is available at Drudge.

Ann Coulter complimented the Warmies on picking a method to hamstring current capitalist commerce which would not be revealed as complete hokum for a hundred years. I join her in the compliment, but I'm a very patient man.

Here is a detail to seize on and watch--the popular predator Polar Bear (the largest land carnivore extant). The report says: By 2050, polar bears will mostly be found in zoos, their habitats gone.

OK, warmies, you're on. I think there are about 30,000 polar bears outside zoos, up from just 5,000 in 1955. But let's use the conservative figures from the IUCN, which says there are about 22,000. 43 years to lose 22,000 bears, that's roughly 500 a year. (We're allowing yearly hunting of 700 a year by non-native hunters and an unknown number by the Inuit et al., but let's just ingnore those figures). I'm not saying that there will be a straight line loss, surely it will accelerate as the sea ice melts (even though sea ice forms and then melts now, through the seasons). But surely, if they are to be gone by 2050, there will have to be some decline in the world polar bear population by 2025 (when I'll be a crabbed 72 and the technological details of our daily lives will be unimaginably different). If the white bear population is steady or growing by that time, the science prognostications will be shown to be bunk, and not just about the bears, but about all of it. In short, being a scientist will be shown not to give precognition to fallable humans and history will not be kind to these scientists, whose opinions apparently are for sale.

Patience anti-warmies.

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