Monday, October 31, 2005

Grim Grinning Ghosts

When hinges creak in doorless chambers,

When candles flicker, where the air is deathly still...

This is the time when ghosts are present...

Happy Halloween...

And beware of hitch-hiking ghosts!

The Shadowlands
The Moonlit Road
Halloween Ghost Stories
Haunted Mansion

Oil Sands News

There's a pretty positive article on the potential and the reality of oil sands over at Tech Central Station.

I'm just going to send you there - there's a whole bunch of great links to check out as well.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Note To The Readers

Please pardon our dust - the owner is trying to find a template he likes. So far, without much success.

Also - a new Friday Furo Questus is up at The Wasatch Front.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Brief History Of Conservatism

Check out Jonah Goldberg's piece on William Buckley and American conservatism in the twentieth century.

I consider myself a conservative - and it's an interesting pedigree to read. One should know the roots of one's beliefs.

Miers Has Withdrawn

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the Supreme Court.

That was a wise choice. She was not a good pick for the court.

More at National Review.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A New Marine Special Forces Unit

W. Thomas Smith, writing today in National Review:
The U.S. Marine Corps is developing a brand new special-operations force to serve as an element of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Though unique, the force — officially "Marine SOCOM Detachment One" — will be the Corps' participating equivalent of the Navy's SEALs, the Army's special-operations forces (Green Beret, Delta, and other special purpose forces), and the Air Force's special operations units.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


2,000th death. I'd be surprised if you hadn't heard that news already. After all, several people have been eagerly anticipating this day.

It's a milestone, I guess; I tend to agree with
this gentleman's view of it.

But had you heard Iraq
ratified its new constitution? Have you?

It's strange, this war. It's so much easier to find out how many have died than what it is they died for.
An interesting simultenaiety today - a 2000th death, a constitutional ratification, and
an anniversary. For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition...

It used to be freeing men was the most noble - even the only noble - use of force there was. I wonder when we lost that. And if we can get it back.

St. Crispin's Day

If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

-- Wm. Shakespeare, King Henry V

The Battle of Agincourt occurred on St. Crispin's Day, October 25, 1415, when an English army under King Henry V defeated a numerically superior French force. While the consequences of the battle on history are small, it was a triumph for British military power that is remembered even to this day - proof that terrain and strategy can defeat numbers.

And it inspired one of Shakespeare's greatest speeches.

You can hear the speech over at American Rhetoric.

Thanks to
John at Argghhh!!! for the reminder.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Jay Nordlinger - Ignoble Nobels

Jay Nordlinger, in National Review Online:
Care to hear a word about the Nobels? They were particularly egregious this year. In fact, in the forthcoming issue of NR, we have a one-two punch: an article on the Nobel Peace Prize called "How Low Can They Go?" and an article on the Nobel Prize in Literature called "How Low Can They Go? II." The latter is written by David Pryce-Jones; the former is written by — well, me.

Harold Pinter won the literature prize, and here the Nobel committee performed almost a parody of itself: They picked the most anti-American, most unhinged writer they could find, and one whose literary gifts are less than Dantesque. Or rather, they picked the most anti-American, most unhinged writer they could find whom they had not already honored. Pryce-Jones has known, and read, Harold Pinter for decades, and to have such familiarity with him is not (necessarily) to admire him. Pryce-Jones is delicious on Pinter; you must read it — I like to think that the laureate himself will!

The peace prize was a parody, too: It was given to Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency. (ElBaradei is director general of the IAEA — the successor to Hans Blix.) This is not only a parody, but a cruel joke, and an insult, and a disgrace. The IAEA may not be damnable, although that is debatable. But it is virtually impotent, and to accord it this great honor is appalling.

For one thing, it misleads people: about the efficacy of the IAEA (which is supposed to enforce the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty). (Have you noticed much nonproliferation lately?)

The problem with the peace prize — like the problem with the literature prize, frankly — is that, just as you're ready to give up on it forever, they give it to someone good and deserving. Past laureates include Andrei Sakharov (1975), Lech Walesa (1983), the Dalai Lama (1989), and Aung San Suu Kyi (1991).

I might also mention the group Doctors Without Borders (1999).
I might also mention the group Doctors Without Borders (1999).

But, when such people are honored, are these really peace prizes, or more like freedom prizes? What is peace, anyway? Is it merely the absence of armed conflict — or any conflict at all — or is it a condition that only freedom and dignity can really bring? In my forthcoming piece, I pull an old trick and quote Mrs. Thatcher, in Cold War days: "We speak of peace, yes, but whose peace? Poland's? Bulgaria's? The peace of the grave?"

Living saints have won the Nobel Peace Prize — Mother Teresa, for one (1979), and Elie Wiesel, for another (1986). But was this prize truly appropriate for these two souls? In NR, many years ago, the suggestion was made that the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize should be the American military, every year: for the American military is the planet's greatest guarantor of peace.

Flat-out rogues, like Le Duc Tho and Yasser Arafat, have won the prize — but in concert with someone else (Kissinger in the case of the Vietnamese Communist; Peres and Rabin in the case of the PLO chairman). At least one bona fide hoaxster has won the prize: Rigoberta Menchú, the Guatemalan teller of tales.

I could spend several paragraphs on Willy Brandt, the West German naïf (at best), but we should get moving.

The Nobel committee has always been especially offensive in nuclear matters. In 1962, they gave the prize to Linus Pauling, a brilliant chemist, who, in fact, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954. He had a second career, however, as an anti-nuclear activist, and in this area he was a flake — peddling every shibboleth around. In 1985, the Nobel committee bestowed its honor on International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

The nice thing about this group? Its chairman was Yevgeny Chazov, a member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party (not a peace organization, as Russian citizens, and many others, knew). Chazov was among those who signed the document judged to have launched the official Soviet campaign against Andrei Sakharov, the peace laureate from 1975.

Such is the topsy-turvy nature of Nobel morality.

A man who has a special place in my heart — so to speak — is Joseph Rotblat, winner in 1995. You may not remember him. I remember him well, however, in part because I wrote a piece on him when he won, exactly a decade ago.

(The Nobel committee seems to "go nuclear" every ten years: in 1975, Sakharov, a physicist as well as a human-rights hero; in 1985, those International Physicians; in 1995, the physicist and soi-disant anti-nuke activist Rotblat; in 2005, ElBaradei and the IAEA. Watch out for 2015.)

Rotblat worked on the Manhattan Project, but he walked out on that project, because he believed that Nazi Germany would never acquire the bomb — also that the U.S. was seeking its own bomb "merely" to defeat Imperial Japan, and to deter a post-war USSR. Rotblat was, to use a term that now seems antique, a fellow-traveler. That is an impolite term, as well as an outmoded one, but it does the job.

In the 1950s, Rotblat helped start the Pugwash Conferences, in which Western scientists would meet with Soviet ones, along with their KGB chaperones. (The conferences were named after the Nova Scotian village in which the first meeting was held.) Ostensibly, this was an anti-nuclear group, but somehow they managed to serve the Soviet agenda, whatever it was that year. The Pugwashers declared themselves completely opposed to the concept of deterrence — and everything else that eventually ended the Cold War, and won it for freedom. Before Rotblat received the Nobel prize, he and the Pugwashers were decorated by such peace-lovers as Husak, the Czechoslovakian dictator, and Jaruzelski, the Polish dictator. In fact, the Pugwashers were pleased to hold their conference in Warsaw after Jaruzelski imposed martial law.

And how they mocked Israel for its fear of what Saddam Hussein built! Then the Israelis destroyed Saddam's reactor. The entire world, including the United States, condemned them. But after the Gulf War, the secretary of defense, Dick Cheney, thanked them.

I should say one more brief word before leaving Joseph Rotblat: The Nobel committee, in awarding its peace prize, often likes to "send a message." When they gave it to Carter, in 2002, they were sending a message — "Nuts to you, George W." When they gave it to Annan and the U.N., in 2001, a month after the 9/11 attacks, they were sending a message — "Nuts to you, George W. (and don't you dare go it alone)." They sent a not dissimilar message this year.

And in 1995, when they chose Rotblat, they were sending a message . . . to the French. The French, you see, were testing nuclear weapons in the South Pacific. Chirac was indifferent to what the Nobel committee had done. He went right ahead, nothing daunted.

What an extraordinary thing to note about Jacques Chirac!

And here we have ElBaradei and the IAEA, in 2005. Well, if you can give an award to Annan and the U.N. — after Bosnia, after Rwanda, etc., etc. — you can give one to the inspectors, after their sorry performances.

I get into this in my NR piece, and should leave this topic for now. Suffice it to say that, where the world has had success in curbing proliferation — think Qaddafi — it has not been thanks to the IAEA. On the contrary. And I'm sure that the people who got the biggest chuckle out of this year's Nobel Peace Prize were in Tehran and Pyongyang.

Do you recall what I wrote about ElBaradei from the Davos conference, last January? He was on a panel with the Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi. They seemed quite chummy, like allies. And they made light of American concerns about Tehran's program — this despite the fact that Iran had deceived the IAEA for a full 18 years. It took an Iranian opposition group to blow the whistle on the nuclearizing mullahs. In fact, they had to do that twice.

Oh, well. Last year, the Nobel people gave their prize to Wangari Maathai — remember her? She's the Kenyan lady who plants trees and claims that AIDS is a Western plot to wipe out black Africans. In presenting her with the world's most hallowed award, the chairman of the committee said, "We have added a new dimension to the concept of peace." No doubt. But as I say in the next NR, the Nobel committee has done no such thing this year. They have returned to an old concept of peace — and it does not have much to do with peace. Not with real peace.

And a bit more Nordlinger - because this bears repeating:
Can you stand a little more ElBaradei? Indulge me in one more point. He has the quite peculiar view — particularly for the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency — that established nuclear powers, such as the United States, have no real right to prevent others from acquiring the same destructiveness.

Here is ElBaradei in the New York Times, last year:

"We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security."

A staggering statement, that. Think what it means for Iran and Israel. Think what it means for North Korea and Japan. Think what it means for the entire world.

Forgotten in ElBaradei's statement is the character of an individual regime, and the purpose for which it possesses nukes, or seeks them. All of this is elementary, really — but still not widely enough comprehended.

There, I'm done with Nobel prizes. Aren't you glad?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Unacceptable Failure

From The Onion:

"Study finds city of Pittsburgh completely unprepared for zombie attack"
Study Reveals Pittsburgh Unprepared For Full-Scale Zombie Attack
October 19, 2005 Issue 41•42

PITTSBURGH—A zombie-preparedness study, commissioned by Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy and released Monday, indicates that the city could easily succumb to a devastating zombie attack. Insufficient emergency-management-personnel training and poorly conceived undead-defense measures have left the city at great risk for all-out destruction at the hands of the living dead, according to the Zombie Preparedness Institute.

"When it comes to defending ourselves against an army of reanimated human corpses, the officials in charge have fallen asleep at the wheel," Murphy said. "Who's in charge of sweep-and-burn missions to clear out infected areas? Who's going to guard the cemeteries at night? If zombies were to arrive in the city tomorrow, we'd all be roaming the earth in search of human brains by Friday."

Government-conducted zombie-attack scenarios described on the State Department's website indicate that a successful, citywide zombie takeover would take 10 days, but according to ZPI statistician Dr. Milton Cornelius, the government's models fail to incorporate such factors as the zombies' rudimentary reasoning skills and basic tool use.

"Today's zombies quickly learn to open doors, break windows, and stage ambushes," Cornelius said. "In one 1985 incident in Louisville, a band of zombies was able to lure four paramedics and countless law-enforcement officials to their deaths by commandeering an ambulance radio and calling for backup."

ZPI researchers noted that tens of thousands of Pittsburgh citizens live in close proximity to a cemetery. This fact, coupled with abnormally high space-radiation levels in eastern Pennsylvania and ongoing traffic issues in the East Hills and Larimer areas, led Cornelius to declare the likelihood of a successful evacuation as "slight to impossible."

"The designated evacuation routes would be hopelessly clogged, leaving many no choice but to escape by foot," Cornelius said. "Add a single lurching zombie into that easily panicked crowd and you've got a nightmare scenario."

Cornelius' model shows that after the ensuing stampede, "the zombie could pick and choose his victims," and predicts the creation of hundreds of new undead "in a single half-hour feeding frenzy."

Pittsburgh's structural defenses are particularly inadequate. The city's emergency safe houses, established by a city ordinance in the early '70s, lack even the most basic fortifications for zombie invasion.

"Under the ordinance, wooden tool sheds and rusty station wagons are classified as adequate shelter," Cornelius said. "But once dozens of zombies hungering for living flesh begin pounding on the walls and driving their half-decomposed fists through the windows, sheds and cars quickly give way."

Federal Undead Management Agency spokesperson Dr. Sheena Aurora downplayed the ZPI report, arguing that zombies move slowly and can be easily overpowered. Aurora advised citizens to look over their shoulders frequently, adding that a large shopping mall can serve as a "long-term, even fun" refuge from zombies.

Such assertions alarm zombiologist Olivier Baptiste, who calls FUMA's information "hopelessly outdated."

"Dr. Aurora's claims are based on decades-old zombie models," Baptiste said. "Widely released evidence from recent years clearly shows that zombies can run just as fast, if not faster, than a living human."

Added Baptiste: "That FUMA trains its field agents to shoot zombies in the torso, rather than the head, demonstrates just how out of touch the government is."

Evans City, PA Police Chief Gino Fulci said zombie preparedness comes down to training on the local level.

"Children need to be taught from preschool that they might have to put a bullet between the eyes of their own undead mother," Fulci said. "'Destroy The Brain' banners should be hung above the entrances of schools, churches, and town halls everywhere."

Cornelius recommends that Pittsburgh residents prepare a "go-bag" containing a Glock 17 pistol and 50 rounds of ammunition. If leaving the house is not an option, Cornelius advises residents to barricade all first-story doors and windows, and have at least one method of suicide prepared, should zombies successfully breach the home.

Completely unacceptable! Call! Incompetence this deep must run all the way to the top! IT'S ALL BUSH's FAULT!!!!

Alright Already!

The year of the hurricane continues.
Wilma Now Most Intense Atlantic Storm Ever
Gathering strength at a fierce pace, Hurricane Wilma swirled into the most intense Atlantic storm ever recorded Wednesday, a Category 5 monster packing 175 mph wind that forecasters warned was "extremely dangerous."

And just yesterday - less than 24 hours ago - this storm was barely a hurricane.
Wilma's top sustained winds reached 175 mph early Wednesday in the most rapid strengthening ever recorded in a hurricane, said meteorologist Hugh Cobb of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. At the same time Tuesday, Wilma was only a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph.

Its confirmed pressure readings Wednesday morning dropped to 882 millibars — the lowest ever measured in a hurricane in the Atlantic basin, according to the hurricane center. The strongest on record based on the lowest pressure reading is Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, which dipped to 888 millibars.

Typically, the lower the pressure, the faster the air speeds. But because the pressure around each storm is different, lower pressure doesn't always correspond to a specific wind speed.

Forecasters said Wilma was more powerful than the devastating September 1935 hurricane that hit the Florida Keys, the strongest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall on record. But Wilma wasn't expected to keep its record strength for long, as higher disruptive atmospheric winds in the Gulf of Mexico around the hurricane should weaken it before landfall, Cobb said.
Should weaken. That's good news. Still, it amazes me how fast these storms intensify.

It is expected to hit Florida this weekend.

Oh - and hurricane season doesn't end until November 30th.

P.S.: Check out this tidbit:
The hurricane is the record-tying 12th of the season, the same number reached in 1969. That is the most for one season since record-keeping began in 1851.
1969 is the same year Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast - the most destructive storm to hit there, until 2005's Katrina took that dubious honor.

More Info:
National Hurricane Center

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Genteel Eugenics

Found by Kathryn Lopez at The Corner, take a look at this piece in the Washington Post:

The Abortion Debate No One Wants To Have by Patricia E. Bauer
If it's unacceptable for William Bennett to link abortion even conversationally with a whole class of people (and, of course, it is), why then do we as a society view abortion as justified and unremarkable in the case of another class of people: children with disabilities?

I have struggled with this question almost since our daughter Margaret was born, since she opened her big blue eyes and we got our first inkling that there was a full-fledged person behind them.

Whenever I am out with Margaret, I'm conscious that she represents a group whose ranks are shrinking because of the wide availability of prenatal testing and abortion. I don't know how many pregnancies are terminated because of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome, but some studies estimate 80 to 90 percent.

Imagine. As Margaret bounces through life, especially out here in the land of the perfect body, I see the way people look at her: curious, surprised, sometimes wary, occasionally disapproving or alarmed. I know that most women of childbearing age that we may encounter have judged her and her cohort, and have found their lives to be not worth living.

To them, Margaret falls into the category of avoidable human suffering. At best, a tragic mistake. At worst, a living embodiment of the pro-life movement. Less than human. A drain on society. That someone I love is regarded this way is unspeakably painful to me.
This next paragraph is what gets me:
At a dinner party not long ago, I was seated next to the director of an Ivy League ethics program. In answer to another guest's question, he said he believes that prospective parents have a moral obligation to undergo prenatal testing and to terminate their pregnancy to avoid bringing forth a child with a disability, because it was immoral to subject a child to the kind of suffering he or she would have to endure. (When I started to pipe up about our family's experience, he smiled politely and turned to the lady on his left.)
Moral obligation to abort? This is interesting too:
Margaret's old pediatrician tells me that years ago he used to have a steady stream of patients with Down syndrome. Not anymore. Where did they go, I wonder. On the west side of L.A., they aren't being born anymore, he says.

The irony is that we live in a time when medical advances are profoundly changing what it means to live with disabilities.
This is a debate we need to have. Technology has outpaced our morals and our thinking - it would be a good time to think about what we are becoming.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Rush Limbaugh today in the Wall Street Journal:

Holding Court
There's a crackdown over Miers, not a "crackup."

Monday, October 17, 2005

I love being a conservative. We conservatives are proud of our philosophy. Unlike our liberal friends, who are constantly looking for new words to conceal their true beliefs and are in a perpetual state of reinvention, we conservatives are unapologetic about our ideals. We are confident in our principles and energetic about openly advancing them. We believe in individual liberty, limited government, capitalism, the rule of law, faith, a color-blind society and national security. We support school choice, enterprise zones, tax cuts, welfare reform, faith-based initiatives, political speech, homeowner rights and the war on terrorism. And at our core we embrace and celebrate the most magnificent governing document ever ratified by any nation--the U.S. Constitution. Along with the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes our God-given natural right to be free, it is the foundation on which our government is built and has enabled us to flourish as a people.

We conservatives are never stronger than when we are advancing our principles. And that's the nature of our current debate over the nomination of Harriet Miers. Will she respect the Constitution? Will she be an originalist who will accept the limited role of the judiciary to interpret and uphold it, and leave the elected branches--we, the people--to set public policy? Given the extraordinary power the Supreme Court has seized from the representative parts of our government, this is no small matter. Roe v. Wade is a primary example of judicial activism. Regardless of one's position on abortion, seven unelected and unaccountable justices simply did not have the constitutional authority to impose their pro-abortion views on the nation. The Constitution empowers the people, through their elected representatives in Congress or the state legislatures, to make this decision.

Abortion is only one of countless areas in which a mere nine lawyers in robes have imposed their personal policy preferences on the rest of us. The court has conferred due process rights on terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay and benefits on illegal immigrants. It has ruled that animated cyberspace child pornography is protected speech, but certain broadcast ads aired before elections are illegal; it has held that the Ten Commandments can't be displayed in a public building, but they can be displayed outside a public building; and the court has invented rationales to skirt the Constitution, such as using foreign law to strike down juvenile death penalty statutes in over a dozen states.

For decades conservatives have considered judicial abuse a direct threat to our Constitution and our form of government. The framers didn't create a judicial oligarchy. They created a representative republic. Our opposition to judicial activism runs deep. We've witnessed too many occasions where Republican presidents have nominated the wrong candidates to the court, and we want more assurances this time--some proof. The left, on the other hand, sees the courts as the only way to advance their big-government agenda. They can't win national elections if they're open about their agenda. So, they seek to impose their policies by judicial fiat. It's time to call them on it. And that's what many of us had hoped and expected when the president made his nomination.

Some liberal commentators mistakenly view the passionate debate among conservatives over the Miers nomination as a "crackup" on the right. They are giddy about "splits" in the conservative base of the GOP. They are predicting doom for the rest of the president's term and gloom for Republican electoral chances in 2006. As usual, liberals don't understand conservatives and never will.

The Miers nomination shows the strength of the conservative movement. This is no "crackup." It's a crackdown. We conservatives are unified in our objectives. And we are organized to advance them. The purpose of the Miers debate is to ensure that we are doing the very best we can to move the nation in the right direction. And when all is said and done, we will be even stronger and more focused on our agenda and defeating those who obstruct it, just in time for 2006 and 2008. Lest anyone forget, for several years before the 1980 election, we had knockdown battles within the GOP. The result: Ronald Reagan won two massive landslides.

The real crackup has already occurred--on the left! The Democratic Party has been hijacked by 1960s retreads like Howard Dean; billionaire eccentrics like George Soros; and leftwing computer geeks like It nominated John Kerry, a notorious Vietnam-era antiwar activist, as its presidential standard-bearer. Its major spokesmen are old extremists like Ted Kennedy and new propagandists like Michael Moore. Its great presidential hope is one of the most divisive figures in U.S. politics, Hillary Clinton. And its favorite son is an impeached, disbarred, held-in-contempt ex-president, Bill Clinton.

The Democratic Party today is split over the war and a host of cultural issues, such as same-sex marriage and partial birth abortion. It wants to raise taxes, but dares not say so. It can't decide what message to convey to the American people or how to convey it. And even its once- reliable allies in the big media aren't as influential in promoting the party and its agenda as they were in the past. The new media--talk radio, the Internet and cable TV--not only have a growing following, but have helped expose the bias and falsehoods of the big-media, e.g., Dan Rather, CBS News and the forged National Guard documents. Hence, circulation and audience is down, and dropping.

The American left is stuck trying to repeat the history of its presumed glory years. They hope people will see Iraq as Vietnam, the entirety of the Bush administration as Watergate and Hurricane Katrina as the Great Depression. Beyond looking to the past for their salvation, the problem is that they continue to deceive even themselves. None of their comparisons are true. Meanwhile, we conservatives will continue to focus on making history.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Old Bad Ideas Never Die

As relayed by Jack Fowler in The Corner, National Review writes in its Oct. 24th issue:
Since Zimbabwe’s president-for-life Robert Mugabe began to implement “fast-track land redistribution” (which is to say, forcible dispossession of white farmers) in 2000, Africa-watching cynics have been trading the following joke. Q: What is the difference between Zimbabwe and South Africa? A: About five years. Well, well, many a true word is spoken in jest. South Africa’s Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, a government body set up to return to black people land lost under apartheid, says it will for the first time force a white farmer to sell his land. South Africa’s government further says it wants to hand over about a third of white-owned farmland to blacks by 2014. Ominously, deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, urging an acceleration in the pace of “reform,” added that: “We may need the skills of Zimbabwe to help us.” Alas, the actual skills of Zimbabwe, the ones that formerly made that nation one of the richest in Africa, have mostly fled abroad to escape the depredations of Mugabe and his thuggish cronies. Zimbabwe is now sunk in a condition of near famine, chronic unemployment, rampant inflation, and diplomatic isolation. South Africa’s prospects look dire indeed if Zimbabwe is to be its model for “reform.”
Once again, when the govrnment gets into the property redistribution business, it's going to come apart. And the cirumstances that led to the "white flight" from South Africa in the 1990s are coming true.

I have mentioned the abuses that have and continue in Zimambwe before, here and here.

I guess those disasters need to be repeated. We obviously can't learn from them...

A New Friday Furo Questus up at The Wasatch Front.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Spending Dollars To Save Pennies

From the Seattle Times: "Bus-tunnel error years ago is costly in shutdown today."

Apparently, in order to save $1.5 million fifteen years ago, the planners of the Seattle bus tunnels made a decision. Plans for putting light-rail trains in te tunnels have long been extant; in fact the rails are already in place. But they cut a corner to save $1.5 million, and it now that corner-cutting will cost them $45 million and use of the tunnel for two years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Remember The Cole

At 11:18 AM on October 12, 2000, the USS Cole was attacked.

Moored in the harbor of Aden, Yemen, the destroyer was approached by a small boat, which suddenly veered towards the ship and exploded, opening a massive hole in her side and killing 17 sailors.

Five years after they gave their lives in service to their country, they deserve to be remembered:
Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Kenneth Clodfelter
Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow
Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Francis
Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna
Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn
Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels
Engineman 2nd Class Marc Ian Nieto
Electronics Warfare Technician 2nd Class Ronald Owens
Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer
Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett
Fireman Patrick Howard Roy
Electronics Warfare Technician 1st Class Kevin Shawn Rux
Mess Management Specialist 3rd Class Ronchester Santiago
Operations Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders
Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr.
Ensign Andrew Triplett
Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley

Later investigation would recognize that the suicide attackers were affiliated with and aided by Al Qaeda.

The subsequent history of the USS Cole is interesting; she was brought home with much effort, repaired, and is back out there, somewhere, doing her duty.

But we failed her, and the seventeen who died.

Their deaths were the distant thunder, a warning of the coming storm.

We ignored the warning they died to give us.

(Thanks for the reminder, John and Alan.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rebuilding the NOPD

Jack Dunphy discuuses the New Orleans Police Department's need to rebuild:
About 80 percent of the officers have been left homeless and are now living on a cruise ship in the harbor. Some of their stations are in ruins, hundreds of their squad cars are now nothing more than rusting scrap metal, and much of the civilian support staff has been laid off. And rumors of pay cuts and layoffs for the officers themselves are eating away at what little morale the overworked and underpaid force may have left.
His ideas? They make sense to me:
1. Hire a recognized leader to head the department. Just as an ailing LAPD reached out to former New York police commissioner William Bratton in 2002, New Orleans needs to commence a nationwide search for a police professional of sufficient stature and reputation to take on the monumental task at hand. Once installed, the new superintendent should be given a free hand in moving personnel to fit his needs. He should also be free to hire a command staff from outside the city as well. The salaries offered should be commensurate with the challenge; the current salary for an assistant superintendent on the NOPD is only $62,096 a year, less than a sergeant earns on many big-city departments.

2. Reward the officers who endured the hardships of Katrina, and fire those who didn’t. There should be no place in the department for any officer who abandoned his post when the city and his fellow officers needed him most. If the deserters aren’t dealt with harshly, they’ll be a cancer in the department for as long as they are allowed to remain.

3. Eliminate the residency requirement for police officers... If the residency requirement was enacted to ensure that the police department was a true reflection of the city’s population, they got what they asked for. Today there are several former New Orleans police officers doing time for murder, including one who in 1995 killed her own former partner during a robbery. Many, many others have been convicted of lesser crimes.

4. Hire officers at all ranks from other agencies. The best police officers revel in confronting challenges, and today there is no greater challenge in law enforcement than the one facing New Orleans...

5. Institute a realistic disaster plan for the city. New Orleans had elaborate plans for dealing with the predicted flooding, none of which were followed... The next flood could come as soon as tomorrow. The time to prepare for it is today.
Will Mayor Nagin do these things? I doubt it. He has blamed everyone but himself for what went wrong so far...

And if you can't admit there's a problem, it won't get fixed.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Seen At The Corner

Andrew Stuttaford at The Corner:
Thanks to the reader who highlighted this. It turns out that the Dutch princess not only would like us to talk to al-Qaeda, but has herself talked to dolphins and trees.

That says it all really.

Friday, October 07, 2005

When The Balance Quivers

"Statesmen are not called upon to settle the easy questions. These often settle themselves. It is when the balance quivers and the proportions are veiled in mist that the opportunities for world-saving decisions present themselves."
-- Sir Winston Churchill

A New Friday Furo Questus

...has been posted at The Wasatch Front.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

An Email Exchange - on Harriet Miers

So how is President Bush's pick for the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, playing out here in flyover country? Not too well.

An email exchange between Jamo of
The Jamoblog and myself:

Re: Miers for SCOTUS - What do you think?

Don't forget, Bush pretty much *had* to pick a woman for this nomination. No way around it.

A notable senator commented that many of the greatest justices this country has ever seen were not judges prior to their nomination. Granted... this "notable senator" was Hatch...

I don't know enough about her to have an opinion either way yet. I will pay close attention to the confirmation hearings.


"Had to pick a woman"? You mean politically, right?

My question is - why? There is currently a woman on the Supreme Court (Justice Ginsburg). I think if the President nominated someone conservatives could get behind, that wouldn't be an issue. Yes, the Democrats would whine - but they will anyway, and they have been continuously since Bush was elected. It wouldn't be new.

Unlike Chief Justice Roberts, Ms. Miers has not practiced before the Supreme Court. She has no record of opinions on constitutional law.

This post at The Corner made an excellent point:
"It has EVERYTHING to do with proven experience dealing with issues of the Constitution. I would even argue that a supremely respected History or Gov't/PoliSci professor, one who specialized in constitutional studies and had written extensively on the Constitution and on Madison, etc., to great acclaim, would be more qualified for the high court than Harriet Miers is. Can Harriet Miers knowledgeably discuss the important issues raised by Saenz v Roe? What does she think of Clarence THomas' separate opinion in it concerning the applicability of privileges/immunities? Does she even have a clue? Maybe so - but we should know she has a clue already. She shouldn't be a cipher."
That's my biggest problem - she doesn't have a record to examine. There is nothing here to verify that the President has made a wise choice.

And that is the problem.


I agree. And, yes, I think he had to pick a woman politically. It's a recurring issue, "not enough females on the bench." Personally, I'm indifferent. I believe that it's the character and ability, not
gender, that matters.

With Roberts the oft-quoted phrase was "he's absolutely perfect in every way, except he's not a woman."


Somehow, we have to get away from that. And the only way I see to do that is ignore the whiners.

If we are really going to judge people on their merits - we need to start. I think Bush has the political capital to do that now - the people who helped get him elected are ready, willing, and able to fight that political battle. But Bush has just neutered them by picking Miers.

It appears he picked a woman solely for the sake of picking a woman. And that isn't playing well with the people who elected him President.


The other side of the "pick people based on credentials" argument is "there are just as many women who are qualified as there are men... so he'd better pick a woman."

Lamo, but that's how it will work.


So does this mean we need to start agitating for a Mormon on the court?

Or a Russian, or a transexual, or a Martian, or a ...

Yeah, lame. Identity politics at its worst. "I know, let's pick a ______ so all the ______ and the New York Times will be happy and like us!"

Except that won't work; it never has, and never will.

And the President has managed to annoy the people who did like him.


Personal Relationships and International Relations

National Review is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this week.

As part of the commemoration, the editors are posting notable articles from their archives, such as William F. Buckley's
publisher's statement explaining the purpose of establishing NR:
The launching of a conservative weekly journal of opinion in a country widely assumed to be a bastion of conservatism at first glance looks like a work of supererogation, rather like publishing a royalist weekly within the walls of Buckingham Palace. It is not that, of course; if NATIONAL REVIEW is superfluous, it is so for very different reasons: It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.
A mission they continue to uphold, as this week's Supreme Court nomination debate has demonstrated, to their credit.

But there is also
this piece, a commemoration of Prime Minister Margret Thatcher by President Ronald Reagan. It contains this facinating passage:
Personal relations matter more in international politics than the historians would have us believe. Of course, nations will follow their overriding interest on the great issues regardless, but there are many important occasions when the trust built up over several years of contacts makes a real difference to how things turn out.
The relationship between Reagan and Thatcher during the decisive decade of the Cold War was truly extraordinary - there was a personal trust there. And that trust made possible the united front that finally shattered the Communist lance that had threatened the peace and liberty of Europe for forty-five years.

Our time finds us in a new ideological war, once again a struggle between freedom and tyranny, one which the West has been slow in recognizing. Indeed, if popular culture is any gauge, a war which most are trying to ignore.

But not all. National Review is still there, trying to rouse a drowsy world, trying to stop the fading of the old good traditions into obscurity, yelling stop to those eager to remake the world into a vapid haze that praises licence and lasciviousness and which obliterates liberty and virtue.

Thank you, Mr. Buckley. And thanks to the rest of you. Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The New SCOTUS Nominee [UPDATED]

The official Pacific Slope position on President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers:


From The Corner at National Review Online

I honestly do not know what Bush is thinking on this one. I'm sorry, but there are several people better qualified and better able to perform the tasks of a Supreme Court Justice.

I have no idea who Ms. Miers is. That's my problem with her.

Michael McConnell, on the other hand, is a well-regarded expert on constitutional law. He was, prior to his current appointment, one of the preeminent commentators on Supreme Court rulings.

If Miers was picked to avoid a confirmation fight - why? I see her lack of obvious credentials a bigger reason to object than any quibble over some skeleton which may or may not be in the closet. The Democrats are going to complain, regardless - look what happened to Chief Justice Roberts. There is going to be an ugly confirmation fight anyway - so let's pick someone worth fighting for.

Dump Miers. Nominate McConnell.
Although Ponnuru would do, too.

UPDATE [1:00 PM]:
Well, I've said my piece. Here are some more views from the right side of the blogosphere:
Polipundit - One Day Later (For Miers)
The American Thinker (For)

Randy Barnett in the Wall Street Journal (opposed; concerned about cronyism)
The Editors at the Wall Street Journal (opposed)
The Editors at National Review (opposed)
The Corner (ongoing discussion; pretty much unanimously opposed, and disappointed)
Ponnuru - Bainbridge - Hewitt (opposed - opposed - for; should prove an interesting debate)

One more point I'd like to make: I think Bush has disappointed and annoyed his social conservative supporters, his most loyal. Pat Buchanan speaks to that here, in the most succinct objection to Miers' nomination I've seen. Hugh Hewitt doesn't think so. I guess we'll see in the confirmation hearings.

But if the Democrats don't lay a glove on her during the confirmation (Sen. Reid apparently has already come out in her favor) - I think we have a problem.

Monday, October 03, 2005

So How Big Is Alaska?

So big that the only way anyone noticed a gigantic avalanche is that it registered on seismographs as a 3.8-magnitude earthquake.
"It showed on all our instruments on mainland Alaska," Natalia Ruppert of the earthquake information center said, adding that the amplitude of the event was about equal to a magnitude 3.8 earthquake and more than 200 seismometers all over the state picked up its vibrations.
Found over at Orbusmax.

"What Was That?"

"That was the primary buffer panel. This landing could be interesting."

"Define interesting."

"'Oh my God, Oh my God, we're all going to die'?"

Wow. Saw Serenity this weekend, and I loved it. Go and see it, is all I can say.

It's a fun cross between space opera and a Western; but the beauty of this is its characters. The characters are rich and interesting; that they are well-acted doesn't hurt, neither does the excellent story or the liberal use of well-placed humor.

So if you want a movie that will entertain; one that tells an original story; and one that will leave you waiting for a sequel, go see Serenity.