Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Bush goes public with his NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR VICTORY IN IRAQ, here. Nothing new, and in some respects political, revisionist, and disingenuous, but at least he finally, formally answered the call. Now the burden is on his opponents to explain why we should pull out, in terms other than "Bush's approval rating is below 40 percent" and "Bush lied, kids died!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I am thankful for an administration that has the nads to wage war and the restraint to avoid getting into a pissing match about it. Someday I hope to be thankful for an honest policy debate.

The ever-reliable Hanson writes today about the Democrats' talking point strategy. They are hindered by the fact that the polls are uncertain and by the fact that they must wait until after things happen to talk about what they would have done differently. (The fact that they are wrong does not hinder; they overcome that through repetition and lack of conscience.)

[T]hese more astute Democrats are not sure that the Iraqi gambit might not work, especially with the December election coming up, the public trial of Saddam, the growth of the Iraqi security forces, and the changed attitudes in Europe, Jordan, and Lebanon. Many talk a lot about Vietnam circa 1967 but deep down and in silence most have mixed emotions about Saigon 1975.

For now Democrats stammer, sputter, and go the Bush shoulda / coulda route — not quite ready to take the McGovern sharp turn, forever waiting on polls and events on the ground in Iraq, always unsure whether peace and democracy will come before the 2,500th American fatality. Yet as they hedge — on television praising Congressmen Murtha who advocates withdrawal, but making sure they vote overwhelmingly on the record to reject his advice — they should consider some critical questions.

First, are the metrics of this war in the terrorists’ or our favor? Are the Iraqi security forces growing or shrinking? Are elections postponed or on schedule? Are Europe, Jordan, Lebanon, and others more or less sympathetic to a war against Islamic terrorism in Iraq? Are bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Zarqawi more or less popular or secure after we removed Saddam? Is al Qaeda in a strengthened or weakened position? Is the Arab world more or less receptive to democracy in the Gulf, Egypt, Lebanon, and the West Bank? And is the United States more or less vulnerable to a terrorist attack as we go into our fifth year since September 11? I ask those questions in all sincerity since the conventional wisdom — compared to the true wisdom and compassion of those valiantly fighting the terrorists under the most impossible of conditions — is that we are losing in Iraq, our enemies are emboldened, and the Arab world has turned against us. But if we forget the banality of New York Times columnists, the admonitions of NPR experts, and the daily rants of a Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, or Al Gore, more sober and street-smart Democrats are in fact not so sure of these answers.

So these wiser ones wait and hedge their wagers. They give full rein to the usefully idiotic and irresponsible in their midst, but make no move yet to undo what thousands of brave American soldiers have accomplished in Iraq.

What exactly is that? Despite acrimony at home, the politics of two national elections and a third on the horizon, and the slander of war crimes and incompetence, those on the battlefield of Iraq have almost pulled off the unthinkable — the restructuring of the politics of the Middle East in less than three years.

And for now that is still a strong hand to bet against.

Ledeen writes shame, shame on Bush for not advancing the strategic argument he rightly and capably made at the onset of war.

Alas, we have no policy to support regime change in Tehran or Damascus. Indeed, there is no policy at all, four long years after 9/11. A State Department official recently assured me that there were regular meetings on Iran, although there is still no consensus on what to do. Whether this is paralysis or appeasement is hard to say, but it is certainly no way to wage a war on terror.

If we were able to get past the basic strategic error — reflected in the national debate as in our conduct on the ground in Iraq — we might yet see that we hold the winning cards. Freedom has indeed spread throughout the region. Contrary to the confident predictions of many experts, many, perhaps most, Arabs and Muslims crave democracy, and are willing to take enormous risks to win it. Syria has received several devastating blows to its hegemony in Lebanon as the result of a popular prising. The Egyptians and the Saudis have to at least pretend to hold free elections. The Iranian people are being beaten, tortured and killed as never before, but most every week there are large-scale demonstrations, reaching even to the oil-producing regions without which the mullahcracy would be brought to the verge of collapse.

And there is an encouraging surge of pro-democracy enthusiasm in Syria itself. These people are the gravediggers of the old tyrannical order in the Middle East, and they deserve our help.

The main arguments against this policy are that the repressive regimes in Damascus and Tehran are firmly in control; that any meddling we do will backfire, driving potential democrats to the side of the regimes in a spasm of indignant nationalism; and that the democracy movements are poorly led, thus destined to fail.

The people who are saying these things — in the universities, the State Department, National Security Council and the Intelligence Community — said much the same about our support for democratic revolution inside the Soviet Empire shortly before its collapse. They forgot Machiavelli's lesson that tyranny is the most unstable form of government, and they forgot how much the world changes when the United States moves against its enemies.

Most experts thought Ronald Reagan was out of his mind when he undertook to bring down the Soviet Empire, and hardly a man alive believed that democratic revolution could bring down dictators in Georgia, the Ukraine, and Serbia. All these dictatorships were overthrown by a small active proportion of the population; in Iran, according to the regime's own public opinion polls, the overwhelming majority hate the mullahs.

Why should it be more difficult to remove the Iranian Supreme Leader and the Syrian dictator than it was to send Mikhail Gorbachev into early retirement?

Monday, November 21, 2005


I did purchase XM Radio and am loving it. It paid for the first month tonight as I enjoyed via C-SPAN Radio an uninterrupted hour of stimulating discussion on the Alito nomination by scholars from the conservative Concerned Women for America, conservative Heritage Foundation and libertarian CATO Institute.

I agree with the libertarian view that Congress is engaged in entire categories of activities that are unconstitutional, and with the notion that if you put good lawyers on the bench with a bias toward letting the Constitution speak for itself and toward dealing with the narrow, technical issues of law brought before them, you will get good, sound, common-sense legal decisions. Concerned Women for America just wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. I want good traditionalist legal minds on the bench and then I am happy to let results take care of themselves.

I found the conservative/libertarian debate much more stimulating than most conservative/liberal debate, the latter being much more ideological and much less intellectually honest.

Here's what the venerable Abe Lincoln had to say about too much power residing in the Supreme Court and the politicization of the Court:
[T]he candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned the government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink to decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.

On Bush bashing, gay marriage, and the rule of law:
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the poeple who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.

While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself, and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it....

By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years.

On the 24-hour news cycle:
My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time.

Quotes from Lincoln's First Inaugural Address at the onset of civil war, in THE ESSENTIAL ABRAHAM LINCOLN, John Gabriel Hunt, ed., Portland House, 1993.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Bush lied and we shouldn't have gone to war. But had we not gone to war, we wouldn't know Bush lied. (Of course, that assumes they really do believe Bush lied, and it puts aside their own naivete and gullibility for having believed the lies.)

We now know Saddam didn't have WMD stockpiles, but the only reason we know
it with any certainty is that we crushed his regime.


I was too busy working the event over the weekend to see that Peter Drucker passed away. His books on management were full of wisdom and insight and he created a lot of imitators. The WSJ published some "best of" pieces from articles he wrote for them over the years. Here are some highlights of the highlights:
The first and easily the most common sin is the worship of high profit margins and of "premium pricing." . . . GM's troubles--and those of the entire U.S. automobile industry--are, in large measure, also the result of the fixation on profit margin. By 1970, the Volkswagen Beetle had taken almost 10% of the American market, showing there was U.S. demand for a small and fuel-efficient car. A few years later, after the first "oil crisis," that market had become very large and was growing fast. Yet the U.S. auto makers were quite content for many years to leave it to the Japanese, as small-car profit margins appeared to be so much lower than those for big cars.

The lesson: The worship of premium pricing always creates a market for the competitor. And high profit margins do not equal maximum profits. Total profit is profit margin multiplied by turnover. Maximum profit is thus obtained by the profit margin that yields the largest total profit flow, and that is usually the profit margin that produces optimum market standing.

It's the essence of why Wal-Mart became bigger than Sears.
These few very large salaries are being explained by the "need" to pay the "market price" for executives. But this is nonsense. Every executive knows perfectly well that it is the internal logic of a hierarchical structure that explains them. . . . Money is a status symbol which defines an executive's place in the corporate hierarchy. And the more levels there are the more pay does the man at the top have to get. This rewards people for creating additional levels of management. . . . Yet levels of management should be kept to the minimum. . . .

It's similar in government, though power not money grow as more levels of management are created.
Businessmen owe it to themselves and owe it to society to hammer home that there is no such thing as "profit." There are only "costs": costs of doing business and costs of staying in business; costs of labor and raw materials, and costs of capital; costs of today's jobs and costs of tomorrow's jobs and tomorrow's pensions.

There is no conflict between "profit" and "social responsibility." To earn enough to cover the genuine costs which only the so-called "profit" can cover, is economic and social responsibility--indeed, it is the specific social and economic responsibility of business. It is not the business that earns a profit adequate to its genuine costs of capital, to the risks of tomorrow and to the needs of tomorrow's worker and pensioner that "rips off" society. It is the business that fails to do so.

He will be missed.

Since Bush got blamed for Katrina, can he take the credit for 2 1/2 months without a murder in New Orleans?

NEW ORLEANS - A woman was stabbed to death in what police say is the
first slaying in the city since Hurricane Katrina.

Police said they found the woman dead inside the home of New Orleans poet Jon Newlin, 56. Newlin had been beaten, they said, and was in critical condition at a hospital.

Friends told authorities they discovered the two Tuesday when they went to Newlin's home. Newlin hadn't shown up for a breakfast date with a friend or work at a French Quarter bookstore that day.

One or both of the victims may have known their attacker, police spokesman Juan Barnes said. The woman's name was not released.

The killing is the 205th for the city this year, compared with 225 by the same time last year, police said. The previous killing in New Orleans was on Aug. 27, two days before the hurricane struck.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Another story the media won't report: the air and water are much cleaner now than they were a generation ago. This is just the latest report. Cleaner, cleaner, cleaner, just about everywhere you test. But nooo, big business just wants to kill us and reap their evil profits.
Since 1970 there has been an 84 percent decline in emissions of sulphur
dioxide and a 37 percent fall in nitrogen oxide emissions, the gases largely to
blame for creating acid rain.

I'm finally back and I have a big story about the nuisance of closing this house and why service incompetence kept me offline for ten days.

You can't get away from T.O. news around here. He was even a big story on Rush last week. Yet I hadn't read the inside scoop until here.

In a related video link, I guess I should not have been surprised to see Jesse Jackson at T.O.'s side. What will Jesse Jackson not do to keep his name in the news?

Speaking of Rush, he got skewered a couple of years ago for suggesting on ESPN that McNabb was overrated, that he got a pass because he is black. The evidence keeps coming in that Rush was right again. Poor decisions, poor play, and poor game management by McNabb has absolutely sunk the Eagles in several games this year.

But who cares. The Steelers look good at 7-2.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Today's Big Story comes from down the road in Lititz, Pa. After keeping his 14-year-old girlfriend out all night, her parents called him to their house to confront him. He was packing, and things got heated, and from what I hear, he shot the mom and the dad in the head with at least one of the girl's two siblings looking on. He took off with the girl, an Amber Alert was issued, and they were just apprehended in Indiana. A friend from church lives down the block from the crime scene. Dude, you may remember Lititz as the town where we picked up our tuxes and stopped in a soda fountain drugstore straight out of 1954.

Earlier this week, another guy from Lititz shot a cop and later got shot by the cops.

Lititz is a delightful small town, largely affluent and nearly all white. Stuff like this used to happen from time to time in the questionable neighborhoods I lived in in New Orleans, but now it seems the whole world is going mad. I don't know if that's really true or if it just seems that way as I age.

You won't hear a closing sentence like this on the floor of the Senate any time soon, but you should. Pat Buchanan's longstanding positions on immigration are making more and more sense as events unfolds.

Major social disorder can arise from seismic movements in any one of these four geological strata: human nature, religion, race, foreignness. More than one might be implicated. In these recent French riots, I think all four have been.

The moral of this story is that maintaining a peaceful, harmonious social order isn't easy even under optimal conditions. To introduce extra causes of disorder into your society by importing great masses of foreigners of different races, speaking different languages, and practicing different religions, is foolish. Under some special historical circumstances, you might pull it off, but the odds are long against you. That it will result in your having a better society is not very probable. That it will end with
insurrections like the one we have been seeing in France, is quite probable. That any of this needs saying is a measure of how far postindustrial man has drifted from the simplest, most obvious of truths about human nature and human society.

Friday, November 04, 2005


Another fine article by Victor Davis Hanson. Radical Islamicists kill and must therefore be killed. The justification for war in Iraq is straightforward, defensible, and right. Yet even its own proponents won't say so.

Meanwhile, Westerners far too rarely publicly denounce radical Islam for its sick, anti-Semitic, anti-female, anti-American, and anti-modernist rhetoric. Just imagine the liberal response if across the globe Christians had beheaded schoolgirls, taken over schoolhouses to kill students, and shot school teachers as we have witnessed radical Muslims doing these past few months.

Instead, the world—if it is to save its present liberal system of free trade, safe travel, easy and unfettered communications, and growing commitment to constitutional government—must begin seeing radical Islamism as a universal pathology rather than reactions to regional grievances, if it is ever to destroy it materially and refute it ideologically.

If Pakistan were seriously to disavow terrorism and not see it as an asset in its rivalry with India and as a means to vent anti-Western angst, then Osama bin Laden, Dr. Zawahiri, and their lieutenants would be hunted down tomorrow.

If the petrolopolis of Saudi Arabia would cease its financial support of Wahhabi radicals, most terrorists could scarcely travel or organize operations.

If there were sane governments in Syria and Iran, then there would be little refuge left for al Qaeda, and the money and shelter that now protects the beleaguered and motley collection of ex-Saddamites, Hezbollah, and al Qaedists would cease.

So in large part four nations stand in the way of eradicating much of the global spread of jihadism — and it is no accident that either oil or nuclear weapons have won a global free pass for three of them. And it is no accident that we don’t have a means to wean ourselves off Middle East oil or as yet stop Iran from becoming the second Islamic nuclear nation.

Our leaders must explain far more cogently and in some detail — rather than merely assert — to the Western public the nature of the threat we face, and how our strategy will prevail.

When the American public is still bickering over WMDs rather than relieved that the culprit for the first World Trade Center bombing can no longer find official welcome in Baghdad; or when our pundits seem more worried about Halliburton than the changes in nuclear attitudes in Libya and Pakistan; or when the media mostly ignores a greater percentage of voters turning out for a free national election in the heart of the ancient caliphate than during most election years in the United States — something has gone terribly, tragically wrong here at home.

Former President Jimmy Carter yesterday condemned all abortions and chastised his party for its intolerance of candidates and nominees who oppose abortion.

"These things impact other issues on which [Mr. Bush] and I basically agree," the Georgia Democrat said. "I've never been convinced, if you let me inject my Christianity into it, that Jesus Christ would approve abortion."

Mr. Carter said his party's congressional leadership only hurts Democrats by making a rigid pro-abortion rights stand the criterion for assessing judicial nominees.

"I have always thought it was not in the mainstream of the American public to be extremely liberal on many issues," Mr. Carter said. "I think our party's leaders -- some of them -- are overemphasizing the abortion issue."

Running for president in 1976 -- just three years after the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision -- Mr. Carter took a moderate stance.

"I think abortion is wrong and that the government ought never do anything to encourage abortion," he said during that campaign. "But I do not favor a constitutional amendment which would prohibit all abortions, nor one that would give states [a] local option to ban abortions."

Democrats must "let the deeply religious people and the moderates on social issues like abortion feel that the Democratic party cares about them and understands them," he said, adding that many Democrats, like him, "have some concern about, say, late-term abortions, where you kill a baby as it's emerging from its mother's womb."

Either Carter is secretly ill and his evangelical side is worried that his abortion stance will keep him out of heaven, or he read Freakonomics and realizes that abortion is eroding the natural Democrat base.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I just checked out the new Google Print (beta) at and the results of my two or three searches turned up some very recent material that is surely protected by copyright.

My visit there reminds me to recommend Google Scholar (beta) to my scholarly chums - I use it from time to time to find academic treatments of narrow subjects, and while it is no substitute for my local academic library with all their various databases and personal assistance, it's not bad in a pinch.

Francis Fukuyama in the WSJ.
One year ago today, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh had his throat ritually slit by Mohamed Bouyeri, a Muslim born in Holland who spoke fluent Dutch. This event has totally transformed Dutch politics, leading to stepped-up police controls that have now virtually shut off new immigration there. Together with the July 7 bombings in London (also perpetrated by second generation Muslims who were British citizens), this event should also change dramatically our view of the nature of the threat from radical Islamism.

We have tended to see jihadist terrorism as something produced in dysfunctional parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan or the Middle East, and exported to Western countries. Protecting ourselves is a matter either of walling ourselves off, or, for the Bush administration, going "over there" and trying to fix the problem at its source by promoting democracy.

There is good reason for thinking, however, that a critical source of contemporary radical Islamism lies not in the Middle East, but in Western Europe. In addition to Bouyeri and the London bombers, the March 11 Madrid bombers and ringleaders of the September 11 attacks such as Mohamed Atta were radicalized in Europe. In the Netherlands, where upwards of 6% of the population is Muslim, there is plenty of radicalism despite the fact that Holland is both modern and democratic. And there exists no option for walling the Netherlands off from this problem.

It's worth reading this article in its entirety.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


James Taranto has an interesting analysis.

Democratic senators are transparently playing to the party's moonbat base, who've been taunting them for years demanding that they "stand up" to the Bush administration and who were demoralized when they didn't get the indictment for the war that they wanted for "Fitzmas"--the Angry Left nickname for the day indictments were handed up in the Valerie Plame kerfuffle.

The problem with such base-rallying stunts is that they rally the other side's base too. President Clinton, an advocate of free trade, capital punishment and welfare reform, was never popular with the hard left of the Democratic Party, but they were his most fervent defenders once impeachment was on the table.

President Bush has just had a rough month with his political base; the Harriet Miers misstep brought to the surface disagreements over other matters such as spending and immigration. He repaired much of the damage with the excellent appointment of Sam Alito on Monday, and the Democrats now look to be finishing the job for him.

Republicans should welcome anything that rallies the bases of both parties, for two reasons. First, the Republican base is bigger (see election results, 2004). Second, the Democratic base is totally insane. These people are now, according to the Village Voice, touting Cindy Sheehan for president. Democrats love to mock the Republican base for believing the Bible is true. Democratic basemen believe "Fahrenheit 9/11" is true!


Conservatives get their way and get the fight they want, or so they think. If the real fight turns out to be conservative Republicans vs. less conservative Republicans, the party could be the loser.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


– Time film critic Richard Schickel directed this documentary on how cameramen shot film during World War II. Hundreds of camera operators were unleashed in the middle of the fighting to bring whatever they could back and many died trying to do it. I was surprised at the amount of valuable footage that exists. My granfather fought in the Pacific and his brother the tail gunner was shot down over Europe. This movie gives a good record of what those young warriors witnessed. Thankfully, many of the cameramen are still with us and Schickel’s interviews are every bit as interesting as the footage itself. Produced by Steven Spielberg, this movie opens and is bridged by a bearded civil war looking Tom Hanks. Steven Ambrose also pops up with little facts ala History Channel. The movie needs neither Hanks nor Ambrose. They both tend to give the piece a TV feel when the movie is compelling for its honest simplicity alone.

+CRASH (2005) – Word of Paul Haggis script work on MILLION DOLLAR BABY must have gotten around Hollywood way before the release of the film, because CRASH was released just a few months after the Oscars. I thought his script for the first film was decent, but Eastwood’s smooth direction and cast plussed it up. The essence of Million Dollar Baby was getting you think different about the hot button issue of mercy killing. The hot button issue in CRASH is race and ethnicity and Haggis shows you how those elements enter the lives of many different kinds of people. He shows how white liberals deal with the fear of minorities, how vocally racist cops can be colorblind in moments of danger, how Muslims and Hispanics are viewed by everyone, and how professional blacks have to deal with their current world and the one they came from. The movie follows the same structure of two other L.A. films, SHORT CUTS and MAGNOLIA, where a bunch of characters live their lives intersecting with one another. And although I liked both of the aforementioned films, the device here actually weakens the material, because Haggis is trying something more ambitious than Altman or PT Anderson and the continual happenchance meetings between these few characters is jolting in a film that seems more like real life than the others. The biggest success of CRASH are the original and honest characters that don't make it into movies often enough. That helps make up for the conventionality of the resolution.

Z CHANNEL: A Magnificent Obesession (2004) – Zan Cassavettes, daughter of John and Gena and sister of Nick directs this compelling documentary about a popular L.A. pay channel that outperformed HBO and Showtime in the 70s and 80s. The real story isn’t the channel though, but its mad genius program selector, Jerry Harvey. Harvey practically invented the director’s cut by allowing noted directors to resurrect the versions the Studios hated. Uncut versions of Bertolucci’s 1900, Cimino’s HEVEAN’S GATE, and Visconti’s THE LEOPARD debuted on the Z CHANNEL. Quite probably, those versions wouldn’t exist today without Harvey. Harvey also helped make the career of young filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch by showing their films. Harvey’s showing of Paul Verhoeven’s European films led to the director making films in Hollywood. Eventually, the big players got tired of competing with little Z and used money muscle to outspend their little competitor in movie acquisition. Harvey met his own fate.

THE UPSIDE OF ANGER (2005) – Joan Allen stars as the abandoned wife trying to cope with hard liquor and the attentions of ex-ballplayer, Kevin Costner. Her four mostly grown daughters also pose their challenges along the way. It’s seeming like Costner is only good at playing jocks and ex jocks, but boy is he good at it. Allen is probably one of the better actresses of the day and this is the kind of role that should see her nominated. Costner has no shot at the same, but he holds his own in every scene with her. The film itself is lifted by the two leads, because otherwise the material isn’t terribly good.

TOMBSTONE (1993) – Our library evidently would rather compete with Blockbuster than Border’s because you have to pass through the sea of DVDs before getting to the books. I picked up Tombstone on the way to Hemingway not having seen it since its release. Kurt Russell stars as Wyatt Earp, but the money role is Doc Holliday played by Val Kilmer. Russell doesn’t make many classics, but he has a good feeling about scripts and he usually winds up in passably entertaining fare like this. Although the sets and costumes look fine, the movie doesn’t seem period real, but maybe that helped it outperform at the box office. It made $56 million which is about the same as Kevin Costner’s OPEN RANGE made in 2003. A lot of noticeable faces appear in this movie including a pre-stardom Billy Bob Thorton. At the time I remember many people telling me they loved this movie, although I didn’t really care for it all that much. A second viewing ten years hasn’t changed my opinion.

WINGSPAN (2001) – McCartney produced this documentary about his 1970s band I think because he wanted to remember Linda. It’s a family affair with his daughter doing the interviewing and Paul explaining the origins and dissolution of the band. There’s a lot of great tour video and Paul goes in depth on each album and how it came to be produced.

– All I knew was that Christian Bale was supposed to have lost a ton of weight for the role and that is evident when you see his shirtless body. I can’t imagine the experience was good for his health especially since he put it back on for Batman this summer. That said, The Machinst was a surprisingly great find. It’s a mystery for the audience because situations change and you have to discover with the character what is actually happening. It also has a few real touching moments that are all the more poignant by the end. Some might think it gimmicky, but I consider it clever.

BORN TO KILL (1947) – After Lawrence Tierney appeared in Reservoir Dogs, I read an interview he gave and he sounded like such a tough guy that I wanted to see one of his old movies. This wasn’t a bad choice. Here Tierney co-stars with Claire Trevor and is directed by Robert Wise. Not the typical noir movie because there is so much daylight, but Tierney is indeed one tough mother. This is a great one to show your daughter when warning of the dangers of chasing the bad boy. seems to think it’s worth 4 stars, but I think they give it an extra star for being noir. The plot is basically some psycho that kills people for every little slight and a woman that is attracted to him because of it. There are some interesting character performances that may be worth an extra half star at most.

WALT: THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH (2001) – This documentary was produced and aired on ABC for Walt’s Centennial. Dick Van Dyke does a good job with narration and in many ways it’s the best video biography ever produced by the company that bears his name. My biggest disappointment is the way they handle Walt’s politics in general and especially HUAC. We see Walt telling the committee that he’s had some communist agitation in his unions and we hear Van Dyke tells us that Walt was politically naïve. Nuts, I say. Union Leader Herb Sorrel was indeed agitating and taking his orders from the party. Not long ago Hollywood could have pretended that it was a witch hunt and a lot of innocent people were branded communists, but the release of the Venona papers in the mid 1990s provides the evidence of who was on what Soviet payroll. If anyone was politically naïve, it was those idealists that were taking money from a totalitarian government every bit as vicious as the Nazis. So, besides the fact that the movie has to apologize for Walt's politics, the rest of it is alright.

FAHRENHEIT 911 (2004) – Bowling for Columbine may have been manipulative propaganda, but at least it was funny. I may have disagreed with his premise, but it’s always fun seeing even-keeled professionals be confronted by that wooly mammoth. The audacity of taking those shot up kids to K-Mart is at least interesting. And the cartoon in that film was ridiculous and yet made me laugh anyway. The problem with all of his films is that they lack a clean narrative. BOWLING couldn’t decide if it was anti-gun or just anti-American shock media. Here the FAHRENHEIT is the worst of all worlds. There are scant laughs and the focus shifts on a dime. It has the feeling that it was rushed into theatres as a device to defeat Bush rather than a device to entertain. It made over $100 million, and about 10x the amount of BOLWING, proving that Bush hatred will fuel the box office more so than Clinton love or Kerry love.

– Dick Morris helped write and Ron Silver provides the voice over in this very effective refutation of the Michael Moore movie. They pretty much go point by point showing Moore’s deceptions and outright lies. The phony pipeline and the Bush relationship with the Saudis is dealt with extensively. Maybe more effective is the soldier that lost his arms explaining that Moore never visited Walter Reed Medical Center and that his interview was actually with NBCs Brian Williams. Unlike the portrayal in the film, this soldier is not bitter about what happened to him. The Oregon state trooper tells us that he was shot for another documentary and Moore was no where near that one either. He’s not too happy with the conclusions either. The film also talks to soldiers and families that have real love for the military. This movie is better than other debunking films like Michael Moore Hates America and Celcius 41.11.

WIMBLEDON (2005) – Typically predictable piece with Kirsten Dunst graduating from Spidergirlfriend to adult enough to romance the somewhat older guy. Trish is usually requesting comedies and there are so few good ones that star anyone still living. This is more or less a slight comedy with serious parts like Pretty Woman. Paul Bettany is the aging British tennis star ready to retire when meeting Dunst revitalizes his career. If the movie has any model it’s NOTTING HILL from a few years ago. Somewhat obscure Brit gets involved with famous yank. Remember the kooky roommate from HILL? That character is re-written here as brother of our hero who has made a living betting against the brother. John Farveau is the agent trying to make a dime off the resurgent Bettany. Sam Neill drops the Australlian accent to be Dunst’s driving father. It was mindless alright, especially the gratuitous shots following the tennis ball like a video game. You always hope to be surprised by a winning film like LOVE ACTUALLY, but Wimbledon is a reminder that most movies disappoint.

BATMAN BEGINS (2005) –I haven’t cared much for the character of Batman since I outgrew the campy TV show around age 11. I found Tim Burton’s two movies to be nonsense. Christopher Nolan finally gets it right. One of the most important elements here is his background, something we get with Spiderman, Superman and all the other mans. These filmmakers understand that it’s easier to identify with a character when you see the journey that led them to modern day. The second big strength is the superb cast of supporting characters, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson and the never off-key Morgan Freeman. And Christian Bale is certainly good as our hero. How did he put on the weight so quickly after the MACHINIST? The weakest link is Katie Holmes that suffers even months after the publicity stunt with Cruise. She is professionally cute, but too young looking to be believable as the Gotham DA. This could be a good series if Nolan and the cast want to continue.

Three words: Interstate Commerce Clause

Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, known as the Commerce Clause, empowers the United States Congress "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

Courts and commentators have tended to discuss each of these three areas as a separate power granted to Congress. It is therefore common to see references to the Foreign Commerce Clause, the Interstate Commerce Clause, and the Indian Commerce Clause, each of which refers to the power granted to Congress in this section.

The use of the Commerce Clause by Congress to justify its legislative power over citizens has been the subject of long, intense political controversy. Interpretation of the sixteen words of the Commerce Clause has helped define the balance of power between the federal government and individual states. As such, it has a direct impact on the lives of US citizens.

According to the Tenth Amendment, the federal government of the United States only has the power to regulate matters specifically delegated to it by the Constitution. Other powers are reserved to the States, or to the people. The Commerce Clause is one of those few powers specifically delegated to the federal government and thus its interpretation is very important in determining the scope of federal legislative power.

If the supreme court will interpret the constitution and strictly apply the 10th amendment, true freedom would return to the people. I nearly ran off the road with laughter today when an NPR commentator actually said, "...and Alito, who is very right wing, is also very pro-States' rights..." To me that is so telling of the liberal left that "States' rights" is seen as extreme. Another wonderful ruling by Alito is his desire to prohibit congresses power to regulate firearms. He wanted to strike down the law banning machine guns. I think we should heavy punish criminals who violently use guns, but this was a great ruling and a wonderful exercise of 2nd amendment interpretation.

During my tenure with the Federal Government in the Bureau of Prisons, I found that about 80-90% of ever crime committed made some reference to the "Interstate Commerce Clause" as to why and how this particular crime was a "Federal Crime." Much of the failed "war of drugs" would collapse if this ICC was more strictly and narrowly interpreted. Finally, a supreme court justice I can really sink my teeth into :-)

Bush seeks $7.1 billion for flu defense - Yahoo! News

What is going on? The hysteria on this is starting to reach all time high. I first heard about this 18 months ago. Is it a scientific conspiracy by biologists and big-pharma to increase Federal spending for them? Why is this "pandemic" being labeled as "inevitable". I just don't understand the reasoning behind it and I've really looked and researched it. It's maddening! Help!!

Jonah Goldberg says what I was trying to get at in my comment to Tom's celebrity sighting a week or two ago.
I know some folks around here [at National Review Online] are friends or friendly with him. But I am consistently amazed people take him as seriously as they do. He is brilliant, but he is also a deeply amoral pragmatist. The problem with analysts like him is that their insights are only useful when self-interest isn't in play. Since they have loyalty to no larger ideas or principles, they can be acute observers of politics. But such Machiavellianism is also a hindrance, because principles and a moral vision also help us notice when we're letting our self-interest intrude. When they are absent, self-interest reigns supreme.

WHO: Cuba Gooding Jr
WHAT: trick-or-treating
WHERE: my front yard

The Jacksons and the Funkhousers came over early with their two kids apiece and we imbibed and improvised dinner while we waited for Marci to get home. Once everybody was fed, we headed out for the first leg of trick-or-treating with beverage of choice in hand (in cup). We made the circuit and were heading back to the residence for a potty break slash refill. We had left our house dark in the interim, and as we approached, we passed a couple pushing a baby stroller near the base of our driveway. I offered a cheery HAPPY HALLOWEEN and the greeting was returned by Rod TIllwell.