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Monthly Archives: July 2005

Required Reading

July 15th, 2005 - 12:42 am

Jeff Goldstein has four steps to addressing the root causes of terrorism.

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Not Getting It Department

July 14th, 2005 - 11:19 pm

Andrew Sullivan writes:

Emails are running overwhelmingly in favor of the “abusive and degrading” treatment of detainees, as cited in the Schmidt report. And they are in favor of narrowing the definition of torture to the extremes that the Bush administration has done.

Sully goes on to quote (in toto, it appears) one of those in-favor-of emails. Want to read it? Click on over and read Sully’s post – no need to republish it here. It speaks well of Sully that the email he chose was well-reasoned and well-written.

The moral of the story:

I fear this [support for Gitmo "torture"] is the popular view. America is not the America it once was. But a couple of points: much of this is against the law, unless you believe that the president can change the law as he sees fit in wartime. Most do. As another emailer put it, “The Bush Administration will not be harmed by these reports of torture. The country has spoken and it does not mind. The pictures and actions are very American.”

I read earlier this week that, at 42, Andrew has now spent exactly half of his life in America. Maybe by the time he’s 63, he’ll get it. What I mean is, this is how America once was, and how America is, and how – I hope – America will always be. Let me quote from Walter Russell Mead’s “The Jacksonian Tradition“:

Indeed, of all the major currents in American society, Jacksonians have the least regard for international law and international institutions. They prefer the rule of custom to the written law, and that is as true in the international sphere as it is in personal relations at home. Jacksonians believe that there is an honor code in international life

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Perspective

July 14th, 2005 - 11:11 pm

Now in Screed form.

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Movie Talk

July 14th, 2005 - 8:31 pm

Couple weeks back, I tried to wind down at the end of a long day by watching “The Machinist.” Made a similar mistake Thursday night, “relaxing” to “Million Dollar Baby.”

Missed it on the big screen, but read just enough about it to avoid reading any spoilers. Still, I went in thinking “Baby” was a boxing movie. Yeah, and “The Bridge on the River Kwai” is all about civil engineering in Thailand. Melissa didn’t want to see it, so she went upstairs to the little TV, while I took over the big HD screen downstairs.

I opened a Coke. Popped some popcorn. Got ready for a good time. Had one, too. 40 minutes in, I was so entertained that I just had to pause the movie and run upstairs to tell Melissa something.

“Honey, remember how after we watched ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,’ I decided that at least one out of every five movies should be set in Savannah?”

“Yes…”

“Well, now I think that one out of five should star Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman together. Oh, and there should be some overlap with the Savannah Rule.”

Needless to say, at least once each movie night my wife looks at me funny.

Then again, am I really crazy, just because I’d like to see an Eastwood/Freeman movie set in Savannah? What’d be even better is if they were the oldest members of Michael Corleone’s Georgia crew. And had lightsabers.

If you’ve seen “Baby” already, you know what happens about 2/3rds the way through. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you. But I do know that the two most powerful movies I’ve seen in the last year (“Million Dollar Baby” and “Mystic River”) were both directed by Eastwood. The man is good.

Anyway, I wasn’t shocked by the Big Shocking Scene. Eastwood planted his clues in exactly the right places, and always in the context of the characters. What happens from there follows naturally, perfectly, dramatically, tragically. If “Baby” isn’t the perfect feel-good sports movie, it’s almost certainly the best feel-something sports movie.

Topping it off was Freeman’s voiceover. Oftentimes, I find voiceovers distracting. Unless you’re one of those people God talks to out loud all the time, you just don’t hear voiceovers in real life – so I find they can remind me I’m just watching a flick. But Freeman’s easy rumble sounds right anywhere. If your life could have a narrator, you’d probably choose Morgan if you could afford him.

The one surprise I didn’t see coming was the nature of Freeman’s voiceover. That little tidbit isn’t revealed until the last line of the movie, and makes for the perfect capper.

Anything else of interest going on in the world? Hell if I know. I’ll scan some headlines, sip a bit at my post-movie cocktail, and see if I can’t find something.

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Homer Simpson Predicts Time Travel

July 14th, 2005 - 4:35 pm

Donuts. Is there anything they can’t do?

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About Time

July 13th, 2005 - 11:34 pm

Briant Erst emailed this story:

ROCKPORT, Mass. (Reuters) – An ice-cold tumbler of vodka garnished with two speared pearl onions made history on Tuesday as the first alcoholic drink sold since 1933 in the coastal town of Rockport, Massachusetts.

“It’s a great day for Rockport,” toasted a beaming Peter Beecham, who led the effort to lift the town’s ban on the sale of alcohol. “And this,” he added, raising his $7.50 glass of Grey Goose vodka on the rocks, “is very good.”

Ah, the sweet taste of success.

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Late Night Rambling

July 13th, 2005 - 11:24 pm

Here’s a head-scratcher from the New York Times:

A sudden and mysterious drop in China’s oil consumption helped to push down the International Energy Agency’s estimate on Wednesday of global demand for this year.

After growing 11 percent in 2003 and 15.4 percent last year, China’s overall oil use declined 1 percent in the second quarter from the comparable quarter a year earlier, the agency said.

If China’s economy really has stalled, then it’s time to move an Aircraft Carrier Battle Group or four just east of Taiwan. Let me explain.

In a mature, liberal-market economy like ours, the economy grows because people do things they want to do, and enough of us do those things profitably to keep things movin’ on up. Our government profits only to the extent that if feels safe spending our tax money.

In an immature, post-Communist economy like China’s, the economy grows because the government has decided to let people be just free enough to do a few approved of things to keep things humming. That government profits to the extent that if forestalls the inevitable collapse, be it economic or political.

Of course, in unfree countries, political and economic collapse generally go together like Mao and little red books. And that’s pretty much my whole point here.

China’s communist leadership wants to have it both ways. They want the power (and money) that results from freedom. They also want the power (and more power) that comes from having, well, power.

In a mature, multiparty nation like ours, when things turn sour we can turn the bastards out. In an immature, single party nation like China

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An Explanation

July 13th, 2005 - 10:32 pm

Let’s get something straight. There are only two issues I take seriously: The security of this country, and the liberty of its people. Anything else, I take with a cocktail. Or, as happens some days, I just shop the Victoria’s Secret catalog.

So let me make a point I thought I’d made yesterday, but this time with a little more force and clarity. I wrote:

“The truth will out,” it’s said – and the WSJ argues that Rove merely helped it along. But do we really want the truth outed in intelligence matters? No matter the political cost, aren’t these things best handled quietly if only for the peace of mind of other, better agents?

I don’t care if Valerie Plame had a cover or not. I don’t care if her husband was a lying prick. (Although, to his credit, he certainly seemed to know how to enjoy adult beverages in foreign countries on somebody else’s dime.) I don’t care if anyone had a secret agenda. I don’t care if that agenda was at odds with Administration policy.

What I care about, first and foremost, is the security of this country during time of war. By extension, I care about our intelligence services being able to do their jobs. By further extention, I care about our intelligence officers not having to fear public reprisals.

Private reprisals? Certainly. Including getting fired? But of course. (And starting, I wish, with George Tennet on 9/12/2001.) However – no matter what the circumstances are, no matter who the players are, and no matter which party they belong to, these are matters to be settled privately.

America’s intelligence community is already hobbled by shortsighted laws and Mr. Magoo rules. Some of them are asked even to put their lives on the line, and do so even when the odds (and Washington) are stacked against them.

Did Plame deserve what Rove seems to have leaked? Almost certainly. There are hundreds of other agents who don’t deserve that kind of treatment – but who may now fear it.

That’s bad for our intelligence community. That’s bad for America.

We clear?

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Intelligence Brief

July 13th, 2005 - 12:11 am

The guys over at the Wall Street Journal argue that

…Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real “whistleblower” in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal. He’s the one who warned Time’s Matthew Cooper and other reporters to be wary of Mr. Wilson’s credibility. He’s the one who told the press the truth that Mr. Wilson had been recommended for the CIA consulting gig by his wife, not by Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Wilson was asserting on the airwaves. In short, Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn’t a whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign. Thank you, Mr. Rove.

“Thank you, Mr. Rove” is taking things a bit too far for my tastes.

Even if Rove didn’t give out Valerie Plame’s name (which appears, for now, to be the case), it also looks like he pointed a pretty bold arrow her way. That kind of leak is breaking the rules, and that’s a bad thing.

Now, as I understand the law regarding intelligence officers, Karl Rove didn’t do anything illegal. But was he right to leak? Or was he to be, as the WSF editors did, to be congratulated? My gut tells me no on both counts.

As a practical matter, leaking classified information has usually been treated as a matter of discretion for higher-ups – and Rove’s actions might fall under that historical leeway.

Even if Plame wasn’t covered by the law, and even if her husband was a lying ass, and even if Rove was acting within the tradition discretion accorded someone in his position… Rove’s leak – at the very least – sent a bad message to other intelligence officers: “Toe the line or we’ll out you.”

Well, I don’t see how that kind of thing can be good for “company” business.

“The truth will out,” it’s said – and the WSJ argues that Rove merely helped it along. But do we really want the truth outed in intelligence matters? No matter the political cost, aren’t these things best handled quietly if only for the peace of mind of other, better agents?

Finally, my thoughts come down to this. Republicans have complained since 1975 that Congress gutted our human intelligence — and it’s a fair cop. Between Congressional meddling and Clinton rule-making, Republicans are right when they say our human intelligence resources have been gutted. But those complaints seem less justified – and more hypocritical – when a high-ranking Republican treats an agent’s identity with anything less than perfect circumspection.

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Capiche?

July 12th, 2005 - 12:46 am

Man, I hate slow news days.

Busy day, but it was planned around the blog. There were some phone calls to make, some furniture to move, some painting prep to do. All in all, I figured six or seven hours of real work

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No, No, Kill The Bugs! Not The Appliances!

July 11th, 2005 - 6:41 pm

Oh, this is great.

Couple of kids from the termite company came out today to treat my house. They just did the garage and crawl space because of the weather. We got home from work and discovered we had no hot water. I couldn’t get the pilot to re-light, and when I checked out the heater, it looks like they banged against the pipes and shook one of them loose. The ground around the heater was saturated with water. And the little bastids took off like bats out of hell when I pulled up at the house at lunchtime (all the note on the door said was, “finished garage and crawl space”).

I’ll lean on the termite company to pay for it, but either way, it looks like I’ll be needing a new water heater. Anybody have any suggestions for a natural gas model? With apologies to Hank Hill, we don’t have propane service, and I’d rather not rewire for electric. Any experience with these tankless jobs?

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Stirred, Not Shaken

July 11th, 2005 - 5:25 pm

Here’s Christopher Hitchens in the Weekly Standard, on the July 7 bombings. The finale:

[F]rom now on, we must increasingly confront the fact that the war within Islam is also a war within Europe. It’s highly probable that the assassins of 7 July are British born, as were several Taliban fighters in the first round in Afghanistan. And the mirror image also exists. Many Muslims take the side of civilization and many European fascists and Communists are sympathetic to jihad.

These are not the bright, clear lines that many people fondly imagine to be heritable from a heroic past. But the nature of the enemy is somewhat similar. Like the fascists that they are, the murderers boast that they love death more than we love life. They imagine that this yell of unreason is intimidating and impressive. We shall undoubtedly go forward and put these grave matters to the proof but, meanwhile: Death to them and Long Live London!

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A (More or “Les”) Worthy Cause

July 10th, 2005 - 9:13 pm

Have a hundred words to spare? They’re needed over here.

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Middle Class Blues

July 10th, 2005 - 8:45 pm

This is interesting:

AL-QAEDA is secretly recruiting affluent, middle-class Muslims in British universities and colleges to carry out terrorist attacks in this country, leaked Whitehall documents reveal.

A network of

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Hurricane Update

July 10th, 2005 - 4:25 pm

I’m hearing from friends in south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle that thus far, Dennis has done much less damage than anticipated. “Nothing like Ivan” is what I’m hearing from several people. That’s no consolation to those who did get severe damage, though, and I’m sure there are plenty of them. The beaches in Destin and Walton County are said to be extremely eroded by the storm surge.

My folks (in Alabama) didn’t even lose electricity, for once. After Opal in 1995, it was out for over a week.

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Breaking

July 8th, 2005 - 2:17 pm

William Rehnquist has reportedly just turned in his resignation letter.

Despite our two-month long cool, rainy spell here in Colorado Springs, it’s looking like a long, hot summer.

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“Dean Wormer would be proud.”

July 8th, 2005 - 11:59 am

New-to-me blogger Colin Samuels takes on Paul Krugman, stupid cops, and… well, just read it.

But here’s a small hint: Somebody needs to put Krugman on double secret probation.

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By the Numbers

July 8th, 2005 - 11:12 am

Is the “flypaper effect” working? According to data being (inadvertently) pimped by Mark “Kos” Zuniga and uncovered by James Joyner, it very well may be.

James did some fine work putting his post together – read it all. Kos, less so.

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The Perfect Storm

July 8th, 2005 - 10:43 am

Back-Up Emergency Co-Blogger Will Collier can’t blog right now, but he was able to email me this link:

Dennis is now the most intense June or July hurricane on record, beating out Hurricane Audrey of June 1957, which was a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds and a central pressure of 946 mb at its peak. Audrey killed 390 people in Texas and Louisiana when it came ashore, making it the sixth most deadly U.S. hurricane on record.

Today will be the worst day in Cuba’s modern history. Dennis is a worst-case hurricane following a worst-case path for the island. The storm is already punishing Cuba as it moves parallel to the island, subjecting much of the island to hurricane force winds and rainfall totals of 10 – 15 inches, and destroying much of the rich sugar cane fields and other crops. The situation will get much worse tonight when the storm makes landfall, pushing a storm surge of 20 feet or higher onto a long section of the coast. Dennis will pass near Havana, the most heavily populated part of the island. Although loss of life will be low thanks to Cuba’s excellent civil defense system, the destruction of buildings will probably be the worst in Cuba’s history. Building collapses are common in Cuba without having hurricane winds battering the cities. Dennis will damage or destroy hundreds of thousands of buildings, leaving a large percentage of Cuba’s population homeless. Lack of fresh water and electricity will be serious problems, and Cuba’s political stability could well be threatened by the scope of what is likely to be its greatest disaster in modern history.

Florida’s poorer Panhandle communities are in trouble, too.

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South Park Brits?/Pardon the Language

July 8th, 2005 - 10:20 am

Solidarity: FUCK YEAH!

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On a Lighter Note…

July 8th, 2005 - 9:50 am

…Roger Ebert practically fisked the new Fantastic Four movie:

Are these people complete idiots? The entire nature of their existence has radically changed, and they’re about as excited as if they got a makeover on “Oprah.” The exception is Ben Grimm, as the Thing, who gets depressed when he looks in the mirror. Unlike the others, who look normal, except when actually exhibiting superpowers, he looks like — well, he looks like the Hulk, just as the Human Torch looks like the Flash, and the Invisible Woman has some of the same powers as Storm in “X-Men.”

Is this the road company? Thing clomps around on his Size 18 boulders and feels like an outcast until he meets a blind woman named Alicia (Kerry Washington) who loves him, in part because she can’t see him. But the Thing looks like Don Rickles crossed with Mt. Rushmore; he has a body that feels like a driveway and a face with crevices you could hide a toothbrush in. Alicia tenderly feels his face with her fingers, like blind people often do while falling in love in the movies, and I guess she likes what she feels. Maybe she’s extrapolating.

That last line might just be the funniest thing Ebert has ever written. Don’t get it? Think about it.

NOTE: I don’t much care for Ebert’s politics, but we have very similar movie tastes. He’s one of the few critics I can usually trust.

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Required Reading

July 8th, 2005 - 9:40 am

Niall Ferguson writes that when he “heard the news of Thursday’s events, my first thought was that people have bombed London before, and some have lived to regret it.”

You’ll especially enjoy his conclusion.

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Bad Move

July 8th, 2005 - 9:35 am

Ralph Peters explains what the terrorists lost yesterday:

* Instead of intimidating the the heads of state at Gleneagles

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A Fisking

July 7th, 2005 - 11:28 pm

What follows might not prove to be a full frontal fisking, but certain things have to be said. Also, my humor isn’t exactly in the best of spirits right now. I made some fast and fine friends in London six weeks ago, and I spent the first half of the day worrying about their safety.

That said, here’s Joshua Micah Marshall on the 7/7 attack:

First a thought, or perhaps an affirmation. The only response to acts of indiscriminate murder such as those today in London is implacable resistance — and such resistance means not only retaliation against those responsible and guarding against all possible similar acts, but implacable resistance to terrorists’ desire and aim to disrupt the rhythm of our daily lives and our civilization itself.

Amen, brother. Joshua is a good liberal, and I don’t mean that as an oxymoron or a putdown. As I wrote in a well-received essay last year, “We didn’t beat the Soviets by establishing our own Five Year Plans, and we won’t beat the children of oppression by becoming oppressors.” Life must go on

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Notice

July 7th, 2005 - 8:55 pm

If I have the energy – and drink one glass less of wine than is left in the open bottle – then you’ll have a brand spanking new fisking here later tonight.

Or maybe if I switch from less wine to more vodka.

UPDATE: Smart guy that I am sometimes, I switched to vodka. If you aren’t wearing your VodkaPundit Decoder ring, “switched to vodka” decrypts to “I started the fisk already.”

Of course, it also means exactly what I said. You can’t have a fisk without a martini, my friend.

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Fifth Column Watch

July 7th, 2005 - 8:50 pm

Richard Combs has a stronger stomach than I do. While I was looking at bloody pictures from London, he was reading the Democratic Underground.

And, no, I wasn’t trying to be funny or ironic.

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Breaking

July 7th, 2005 - 3:59 pm

From ABC News:

U.S. authorities tell ABC News that British police have recovered two unexploded bombs from the scene of the terror attacks in London.

In addition, British investigators say that parts of timing devices have been recovered from the blast scene that would have been used to detonate an explosive device. This could provide evidence that would help determine who was behind the attacks, sources told ABC News.

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Graphic

July 7th, 2005 - 3:53 pm

Uncropped photos of London’s bloody BMA building can be seen here, here, and here.

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Mail Bag

July 7th, 2005 - 3:49 pm

Tim Peters has some thoughts on the London attack:

One of the root causes of terrorism has not and is not being addressed either by the MSM or by the G-8. That’s Saudi Arabia and it’s financing of these terrorists. Despite all the protestations to the contrary by the Saudis and averyone else, including Bush, Saudi is the main funder and supporter of AQ and it’s international terrorist network(s). When will we acknowledge the obvious and deal with it?

Good question. Got one I can answer?

The AQ network in Iraq also executed a kidnapped Egyptian envoy today. They’re learning a little since they didn’t video his beheading. Can anyone at this point even jokingly sympathize with their “cause” anymore?

Well, sure – hasn’t George Galloway pretty much already done so? Although I haven’t (yet) read any idiots asking “Why did they bomb London, where so many anti-war people live? They should have gone after Midland, Texas or some evil Red State place.”

I am willing to bet a bottle of the best vodka around that after the perfunctory professions of horror and detestation, the left, both here and abroad will be blaming Bush and any allies we have for bringing this upon themselves. Just give it about 5 days to a week and see.

Five days? Try five minutes. Head over to DailyKos (no link, sorry) to see what I mean.

I just hope that this horrible tragedy wakes up many Britons who were kidding themselves about this war and the nature of their enemy. Appeasement is no solution. As Churchill said and Steyn reiterated, “appeasment is just hoping that the crocodile eats you last.”

Amen.

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Required Reading

July 7th, 2005 - 3:42 pm

Hitch:

It will be easy in the short term for Blair to rally national and international support, as always happens in moments such as this, but over time these gestural moments lose their force and become subject to diminishing returns. If, as one must suspect, these bombs are only the first, then Britain will start to undergo the same tensions

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