December 24, 2003

A Modest Suggestion

Instead of reading this blog, you should be celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah with your family and friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all my friends in the blogosphere! May I offer an ethereal toast to your success and good fortune in the coming year. Y'all rock!!! Now I gotta roll...

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:51 PM | Comments (3)

December 23, 2003

I'm So Lucky

I just discovered that Johnie Cochran is a new tenant in my building. I understand that Mr. Cochran has sworn off criminal law and is now pursuing ambulances in nine states and the District of Columbia. Well, I have read that the district courts of St. Louis are one of the most popular venues for filing personal injury lawsuits since "sympathetic" juries are virtually guaranteed for personal injury plaintiffs.

Ok Spoons, Professor Reynolds, Dodd, etc..., how does the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct address the practice of jury shopping and systematic abuse of the law of torts? Are ethics only about process, or is there some fundamental ideal of justice behind them? Sorry to be snarky, but as a layman, I don't understand why your profession allows this to go on.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:34 PM | Comments (2)

How Many Votes Is That Again Mr. Gephardt?

GDP Roars Ahead at 8.2 Percent in Q3

Gosh, I can't remember. How many votes were each 100 points of the DJIA worth again?

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

2004 Bush Victory Margin Reduced to 11%

In other words: Ralph Nader Rules Out Green Party Run

I guess that Internet thing didn't work out as well for Ralph "Unsafe at Any Speed" Nader.

In an effort to gauge support, Nader has a new Web site and an exploratory committee, attends small fund-raisers, and has mailed letters to supporters. He said he has raised more than $100,000, mostly to pay expenses for the exploratory network, but is noncommittal on whether the resources are sufficient yet to persuade him to run.

But not everyone is happy about it.

"I think we're all a little bit disappointed," said Scott McLarty, a Green Party spokesman. "I suspect Mr. Nader would have gotten the nomination."

Oooo..., Ralph's gonna regret not having that second Green nomination on his CV.

New York's Green Party urged Nader to reconsider, saying in a statement Tuesday that a separate run could be "disastrous" for both Nader and the party, in part because it could confuse voters and divide the infrastructure and resources that a single national campaign could help build.

The mighty behemoth that is the national Green campaign may fail to get 3% of the vote this year. Shades of Conrad are lurking about..., and yet, just in case you thought there might be some principle involved...

The Green Party is debating whether to take a nominee on a full state-by-state campaign or to adopt a "safe state" strategy. Under that method, the party would mostly avoid states up for grabs, in order not to jeopardize the Democratic candidate's chances against President Bush.

If you can't be green through and through, I guess the next best thing is to be a watermelon.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2003

.046

Do you know what I'm talking about?

Ok, I didn't end up in Japan again after all, but I did still have to go to DC. Tonight at about 11:00 PM I was driving through Reston, VA, when I noticed a large number of police cars with their light blaring on Baron Cameron Road, or perhaps it was Eldon by this point, I'm not really sure since I haven't lived here for five years. I'm only on this road since I decided to take my guests a different way home to show them more of the area. Anyway, as I pull up to where the police are standing about I have the good sense to roll down my window.

The police officer asks me if I have been drinking this evening. I said, "Yes, I have been drinking. I have had a bottle of wine tonight with dinner." The officer asks me to pull over to the left through to where the cones are. I do so and stop the car and the officer asks me to pull forward to the first cone. "No problem," says I, as I pull forward. I pull forward about three cones, roll the window up and stumble about to unlock the door. No doubt that impressed everyone, though I will freely admit to always struggling with where the door locks, the door latch, the lights, the trunk release, etc., are every time I get into another rental car, but I doubt that anyone cares.

The officer asks me to get out of the car, which I do, and before she can ask I hand her my driver's license. She explains the situation to me and advises me that she is going to ask me to step through a number of exercises to determine if I am intoxicated. "No problem," says I. Did I mention that there are two guys in my car, one in the front passenger seat and one in the back seat, both virtually passed out? I'm sure that the officers noticed, though neither of them said anything. Had they asked, I would have informed them that these two gentlemen were Japanese nationals who had flown in the night before from Tokyo, and in addition to sharing the wine with me for dinner, they were, in fact, suffering from extreme jet lag. But no one asked. Probably because no one cared.

Anyway, after stepping into the road behing the rental car, I casually recited the alphabet -- without singing it -- as requested, stood on one foot, pointed my right big toe toward Arcturus and counted to 15 and back to 1, and then tilted my head back and successfully touched my right hand to my nose, my left hand to my nose, my left hand to my nose again, and finally my right hand to my nose. Finally, another officer walked over and said that he wanted me to breath into this tube for fifteen seconds. He explained that it was not admissable in a court of law and that he had to inform me of that fact. Then I breathed into the tube as he requested. Harder, as he insisted. The officer showed the meter to the other officer, but not to me. The other officer asked me what I had to drink again and I said, "We shared a bottle of wine that evening with dinner and that I had had a beer about 7:00 PM before that."

At this point I wasn't sure what was going to happen. In fact, from the moment I knew what was going on when I rolled down the window I didn't know what was going to happen. I had been drinking. I didn't think I had had too much to drink, but I've had no experience with this sort of thing before, so I really didn't know what to expect. I started wondering what was going to happen to my guests from Japan if I was arrested, and then what would happen from there.

Then the officer said, ".046."

The first officer asked if I was from out of town. Perhaps my Missouri driver's license gave it away, but I said, "Yes." She handed my driver's license back to me and told me to drive straight back to my hotel and go to sleep. The second officer said that .08 was the legal limit and that I could go.

I got back in the car. Both my passengers were out of it. They didn't wake up until the second time I roused them from their slumber at the entrance to their hotel I am looking forward to their questions in the morning as they twirl the events from tonight around through the haze they are feeling now.

I had two thoughts about this evening's "experience." The first was what our troops in Iraq must go through every time they stop someone, not knowing what to expect. They have my respect and undying thanks. The second was in my reaction during and after the event. I felt nothing. I didn't get nervous, I didn't sweat, I wasn't cocky, and I wasn't obnoxious. I just felt nothing. I went through the motions like I was buying groceries. I don't think this is a good thing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:52 AM | Comments (1)

December 18, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. C

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

At the speed of light, hereís the big C, which more properly should be the little c since, as Albert Einstein first posited, E=mc2. And using roman numerals, that would mean that E = 10,000,000. That will come in handy in about 9,997,997 years for those who script copyrights for movie credits and other arcane users of roman numerals who still appreciate and delight in the semantics of such antiquated numerological semiotics. Of course, there are a lot of assumptions inherent in such a statement, not the least of which is that there will still be humans around who will still remember the meaning of the ancient symbols in 9,997,997 years, much less that there will still be movies as we understand them today. Given the pace of technological change, and the evolution that can take place over that time span, who knows what sort of entertainment our descendants will enjoy then? Thinking about something like the library on Terminus, Iíve often wondered what historical research would be like once there was more material than could even be queried adequately in one lifetime, no matter how sophisticated and efficient the Googolplex search engines might be by then. But, I digress.

Although I am pressed for time, I thought Iíd save you the trouble of responding to some of those spam e-mails weíve all been getting lately and give you a little more Dick for the holiday season. Frankly, I donít know if I deserve acclamation for scourging Richard Cohen for so long (though admittedly, with decreased frequency of late), or condemnation for failing so miserably to stop the inanity offered up twice a week by the Washington Postís most predictable partisan hack. This is necessarily the shortest headline youíll see on a Scourge the rest of my natural life since it is hard to imagine that Richard will still be publishing his column long enough for me to scourge enough of them to get to M, or worse, that I would still be stuck in the non-creative rut of writing Scourges nine years from now. Oh the humanity! After all, at some point, even the publishers of the Washington Post will realize that at least half his columns are oh-so politically correct, recycled, boilerplate talking points from the DNC.

Speaking of regurgitated tripe, Dickís back to whacking his favorite trope Ė his opposition to capital punishment. Iíll give Mr. Cohen a little credit for consistency, even when it means standing up for Saddam Hussein. Of course, Emersonís oft-misquoted aphorism seems apropos here:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

While jumping on the rickety bandwagon of those who choose to defend Saddam must be more than a little challenging, I can only observe that this seems to be taking the whole the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend meme just a little too far. But why? What motivates Richard Cohenís dislike of capital punishment, beyond the opportunity to call those of us who support it Neanderthals? The only thing Iíve been able to discern thus far about Mr. Cohenís beliefs is a utopian idea that somehow the criminals can be reformed or that we must not stoop to their level. I wonder why utopians have so much trouble accepting that most of us have no interest whatsoever in seeing Saddam Hussein reformed and we don't think it's possible to stoop to his level no matter how hard we might try. I certainly canít believe that anyone takes seriously the argument that being caged for the rest of his life so he can reflect upon his crimes is a harsher punishment that taking his life from him.

Now, there are some legitimate concerns about the application of the death penalty within our current system of justice. If it is true that it is better that one-hundred guilty men go free than an innocent man be convicted, then it must also be true that it is better that one-hundred heinous murderers are sentenced to life without parole than one innocent man be put to death. Unfortunately, it has become difficult to work to improve our system of jurisprudence when it comes to the death penalty since opposition to it has become so dogmatic. The actions of former Illinois Governor George Ryan in commuting all the death sentences in Illinois stem more from an almost fervent religious belief in our fallibility than any attempt to try and improve the system. Some of the men who got a new lease on life from Governor Ryan are amongst the most wicked men on earth. But when Governor Ryan through out the baby with the bath water, he made no attempt to distinguish between any cases that perhaps merited further discussion and investigation and those cases where the right decision had unequivocally and unambiguously been made.

Which brings us to Saddam. At least Mr. Cohen spares us the existential hand wringing about whether Saddam can get a fair trial and acknowledges that he is a beast that, well, deserves the worst punishment we should offer. We just happen to disagree on what that punishment is. Watch in shock and awe as Mr. Cohen attempts a Clintonian conflation of morality and legality meant to confuse the simple and confound the concerned in Let Saddam Live:

That title is funny, in a sad sort of unfunny way, isnít it? Industrial strength irony has been resurrected since this is exactly what France, Germany, Russia, and all his buddies at the UN had been doing for a long time Ė letting Saddam live, while so many died.

This column may be the most futile of my long career.

The competition is stiff.

I am about to plead for Saddam Hussein's life. I do so not because I have the slightest doubt that he is a killer, responsible for taking the lives of many thousands, but because sparing his life would send a message to the world that judicial death -- so often abused -- is no longer acceptable.

It is always a highlight in my day when the actions of a nation to depose and dispose of the most brutal madmen of the last fifty years are considered the moral equivalent of some third world execution following a show trial. The Iraqi Governing Council is apparently no better than Robert Mugabe in Dickís eyes. Of course, the question as posed by Mr. Cohen could be addressed by trying to eliminate the abuse of capital punishment where it exists, but thatís a little to obvious to a mind that thinks like Dickís.

Such a day will come, no doubt about it.

Perhaps by E AD. Or E CE if you prefer.

The death penalty is already illegal in most of Europe, and renunciation of it is required for admission to the European Union.

See, all the kool kids arenít doing it! Poor Dick has Euro-envy. Again. If Dick gets a bump on the head do you imagine that twelve little yellow stars circle his noggin against a light blue background? Of course, the EU wonít even consider letting Turkey in to its Franco-German-weíll-abide-by-the-rules-we-want-to-abide-to club, so why should Iraq care what Europe does or doesnít do.

Many other countries keep the death penalty on their books but have not had an execution in so long that the prospect of one is remote.

Unless, of course, someone within their borders manages to be responsible for the deaths of perhaps one million people. Then weíll see if the situation is comparable.

This, of course, is not the case in the United States. Here, the death penalty not only remains on the books but executions are common.

Common? Thatís a relative term, and Iím not sure I would concur. But Iíll accept that the some parts of the US still believe in holding all of its citizens fully responsible for their actions.

Along with such pariah nations as Sudan, the United States still executes children (under 18) and the mentally feeble -- and, inevitably, the innocent.

More moral equivocation with the US being compared to Sudan. Itís not pretty, is it? But Iím curious, when is the last time a person under 18 was put to death in the United States? I donít know, but Iím guessing it has to be at least 50 years ago Ė and even most of Europe still allowed the death penalty 50 years ago. Sure, some criminals have been convicted and sentenced to death for crimes they committed before they were 18, but given an activist judiciary and publicity-seeking politicians like George Ryan, thereís always the possibility that those sentences will be commuted before they are carried out. Anyway, it takes a long, long time to exhaust all the mandatory appeals on the books to carry out any death sentence, so Iím quite certain that it is unlikely that anyone under the age of 18 will ever be put to death in the US. And last time I checked, the Supreme Court made it illegal to carry out the death penalty on the mentally feeble. But letís not let facts get in the way of a poor rant.

President Bush has already endorsed the death penalty for Hussein. "I think he ought to get the ultimate penalty," he told ABC's Diane Sawyer. But Bush, a primitive in such matters, was somehow not the first to call for Hussein's death.

Primitive. Jeez. But Dickís right about one thing, I think the Iraqi citizens in Ambassador Bremerís briefing were probably the first to call for Saddamís death after he announced, ďWe got him.Ē

That honor may belong to Joe Lieberman, who, in the manner of John Ashcroft with the Washington snipers, said the United States ought to shop for a jurisdiction that permits the death penalty.

Itís not often youíre going to see Joe Lieberman slandered by a true believer with a guilt by association reference to John Ashcroft, whom we all know would be the Devil incarnate, if the Angry Left were to believe there was a such a thing as the Devil.

For some reason -- probably an oversight -- he did not suggest Virginia or Texas.

Maybe because heís a Senator from Connecticut? Or because Saddamís trial and subsequent execution will happen in Iraq, where, incidentally, all the states that border it still do utilize the death penalty, sometimes rather commonly.

Instead Lieberman merely ruled out the International Criminal Court in The Hague, because it is not empowered to impose the death penalty.

As if thatís the only reason to rule out the ICC.

The court is now trying the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic -- and has already convicted others from the wars in the former Yugoslavia -- but it sorely lacks a gallows, and for that matter a torture chamber.

Is this an implication that there are torture chambers in the United States? Or at least in Virginia and Texas?

"So my first question about where he's going to be tried will be answered by whether the tribunal can execute him," Lieberman said in response to a question from Tim Russert on "Meet The Press." Calling Hussein evil, the Connecticut senator said, "This man . . . has to face the death penalty."

Joe Lieberman continues to be the only Democrat running for president who can be taken seriously.

Probably most of the Democratic presidential candidates agree.

Probably? Are you sure?

In the United States the right of the government to take life is almost universally accepted -- if not applauded.

Applauded? We donít rejoice in the application of the death penalty, Dick. But we donít shy away from it either where it is appropriate.

In Europe there is no such consensus.

Huh? I thought Richard had just said that there was such a consensus in Europe in the opposite direction.

That's because in the past century, much of the continent suffered under fascist or communist governments that routinely murdered their own citizens, often "legally."

And these are the people we are now supposed to admire and follow? When ďEuropeĒ has had a democratic government for oh, letís say 200 years, then weíll talk.

It's true, of course, that these governments also jailed and tortured people without killing them, but only death is irrevocable.

I think Senator John McCain might note that some of the effects of torture are just as irrevocable. Last time I checked, I donít think chopped off tongues, ears, or hands grow back either. How can Dick so casually dismiss the physical pain, mental anguish, and the damaged and destroyed families of all those tortured and killed by Saddam Hussein? Silly question.

Life in prison is a lifetime of punishment.

Sorry, I was wrong in the rambling preamble. Apparently Richard Cohen does still try to argue that life in prison is worse than death. I guess he never saw the videos of Richard Speck.

In many ways Iraq was the equivalent of a European totalitarian country.

Huh? Not even Hitler killed as many of his own citizens so routinely. But then again, I guess we can consider Stalin as a European. And anyway, whatís with Dickís fixation on Europe? Why not compare Iraq to, oh, I donít know, Sudan?

Call it Baathist if you will, Ö

Or if you want to be correct.

Ö but Iraq under Saddam Hussein was essentially fascist, with the death penalty meted out willy-nilly, sometimes for serious crimes, sometimes for trivial infractions such as possession of a cell phone.

Is there a point here? Saddamís not going to be tried for a defined code of punishment that was out of line.

The Iraqis no doubt expect to treat Hussein as he treated them.

How ridiculous is that?

It would be marvelous if they were disappointed.

After all, the Iraqiís have had nothing but disappointment from the international community for the last 35 years. Why change now?

We can do better than an eye for an eye.

But only once for Saddam.

We can establish the principle of limited government that should be so dear to American conservatives such as Bush: Among the things government should not do is take a life.

Richard Cohen is an idiot. There, I said it. To state that you cannot have limited government unless you do not allow capital punishment is to be willfully ignorant of the entire history of the United States. The US Constitution, the embodiment of limited government that Europe just canít quite get the hang of, explicitly allows for capital punishment. Always has, letís hope it always will.

Except for the principle, I don't care about Saddam Hussein's life.

Like any card-carrying illiberal utopian in good standing, Dick cares about mankind, but not men. Saddamís eventual execution serves two purposes. One is punishment and a small measure of retribution for his crimes. The second is as a message (which Dick is so fond of sending) that everyone can and will be held accountable for their crimes now and in the future.

I care about him the same way I care about your more prosaic murderer -- not at all.

Message: I (donít) care.

But the principle is important.

I agree. The principle is important, which is why Iím making the effort to respond.

The death penalty vindicates the killer's mentality: Life can be taken.

Taking life is part of nature. One of the primary attributes of civilization is that we try to temper and mitigate it as much as possible, especially with respect to other people. The ďkillerís mentality,Ē if there is such a thing, is that the rules of civilization that apply to everyone else do not apply to him or her. This is not a subtle difference.

When a California killer named Hung Thanh Mai, who had murdered a cop at a routine traffic stop, faced the jury during the penalty phase of his trial, he said he was prepared to die. "Personally, I believe in an eye for an eye," he said. "I believe in two eyes for an eye. If you take down one of my fellows, I'd do everything to take down two of yours."

And your point is what Dick? That one amoral anecdote can condemn the motivation for justice that is as old as the history of mankind?

President Bush, Joe Lieberman and much of America will probably have it their way. Saddam Hussein will be tried -- probably in Iraq -- found guilty and executed.

Gee Dick, I guess that means youíre out of step with America. Again.

In his reptilian brain, he will understand. He would have done the same thing himself.

See, those of us who still believe that capital punishment is a valid response to certain crimes used to be Neanderthals, but now Dick thinks we have devolved even further in our thinking into reptiles. No doubt, in Richard Cohenís low estimation of our thinking we will continue to devolve until we are nothing more to him than prokaryotic cells. But, is that any worse than implying we are morally no different than Saddam?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:27 PM | Comments (2)

December 17, 2003

Next!

Do you recall how some on the Angry Left asked why the US wasn't taking on every evil dictatorship in the world if the US was going to take down Saddam Hussein because he was a evil dictator? Well, how do they know that we aren't? Declaring war on evil dictators doesn't mean you have to engage every one of them in a fight on day one. What it does mean is that we develop and implement a strategy to take them down as we can, while husbanding our resources and continuing to pay the requisite attention to all the other needs of the country which aren't directly or indirectly related to this war on evil dictatorships.

As we have already seen with Germany and France's rapid acquisence on Iraqi debt forgiveness, attitudes and actions change quickly once your opponents appreciate that you are sincere and firm in your convictions and willing to follow through in the face of adversity and criticism. In time, these battles will become easier and easier as the remaining dictatorships find themselves with fewer and fewer friends or places to hide.

If illiberal utopians will simply remove their anti-American dung-colored glasses to see Iraq as it truly is (a much better place than it was a year ago, even with the sporadic violence), or as it may become as a free and independent democracy in the Middle East, then they will find themselves free to join the battle to help liberate the oppressed throughout the world -- as they usually advocate. Of course, it is asking too much to expect the UN to engage as a partner in this struggle since the UN caters to these same dictatorships as though they have the same legitimacy as the world's free democracies.

Short of another major terrorist attack on US soil, I doubt that we should expect the next tyrant to fall before the election next November, but if President Bush should win with a mandate-invoking majority, I expect that two more tyrants may fall in his next term, and perhaps more. The world truly could be a very different place in twenty years than it is today. And that could be a good thing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

The Wright Stuff

Every once in a while, someone wonders whether, despite all the technological advances made in materials, computer technology, and process, we can replicate the feat achieved in nine short years with 1960's technology of sending a man to the moon again. The answer is apparently no.

One-hundred years after the Wright brothers' first flight, an attempt to re-create the moment failed Wednesday when a replica craft couldn't get off the ground and sputtered into the mud.

There were giants in the Earth in those days...

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

What the hell is wrong with the international community's sense of justice?

President Bush's view that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein deserved the "ultimate penalty" stirred unease Wednesday in Europe, where the death penalty is outlawed, and concern in the Middle East that the ex-dictator's fate had already been sealed.

I find it depressingly sad, though not surprising, that Big Media and Big Diplomacy so willingly take President Bush's opinion on justice for Saddam and then impute a will to act dictatorily to enforce his will, the US Constitution (not to mention vaunted international law) be damned, and all that. And it is even more telling that the perception is that President Bush's opinion has sealed Saddam's fate, rather than Saddam's deeds sealing Saddam's fate.

Spain's Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said she opposed the death penalty for Saddam and that his trial should showcase the power of humanity over inhumanity. "Saddam's trial must be a symbol of human ethics and morality in the face of the most miserable and inhumane qualities," she said.

How humane is it for the relatives of all those he killed to know how gently Saddam will be treated after so cruelly torturing and killing their loved ones? Or that those in power are more concerned with symbols of ethics and morality than justice for the worst mass-murderer of the last half-century? I mean, how can the reality of mass murder and widespread torture over thirty years compare to the accusation of being miserable and inhumane. One might be tempted to believe that Saddam Hussein is worse than President George W. Bush!

Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino was also against a death sentence. "I am not willing to give political powers a license to kill," he told a news conference.

To paraphrase Michael Corleone, "Who's being naive, Antonio?"

Middle East leaders and commentators said Bush's comments reinforced their belief that the United States' most prized prisoner would not get a fair trial.

Why is it that a "fair" trial must somehow ignore all that is known about Saddam's crimes. I just can't wait for Reuters and the BBC to start referring to Saddam's alleged crimes once he has been indicted. In some bizarro world corollary to suspending disbelief while watching the cinema, these illiberal utopians seem to want us to suspend belief in order to "keep on open mind" or to be "fair and impartial". Nonsense. This is a false dichotomy. One can easily have an open mind and be fair and impartial without pretending to have developed no opinion about Saddam and his crimes. It's almost as if there can be no fair and impartial trial unless there is a sizable possibility, if not probability, that Saddam may be found innocent.

And another thing, there is no question that some of Saddam's crimes extend into the international community, but that does not negate the fact that many of his crimes are strictly under the purview of Iraq. If Iraq chooses to try and execute Saddam for crimes committed within Iraq to Iraqi's, that is their prerogative. They can then hand his corpse over to whoever wants to further try him. To whine and wail that a trial for Saddam's international crimes, for which he will almost certainly not face the death penalty, must take precedence is pathetic. Or should I say, pathetique.

"I doubt he will be given a fair and free trial," said Khatami

That would be Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, well known arbiter of human rights, champion of international law, and all around swell guy to the international community. Pay no attention to his peaceful nuclear program or all those hands lying on the ground that used to be attached to petty thieves.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said that politicians should not interfere. "We politicians shouldn't say anything at all about what decision the court should make," she told reporters.

Unless it's about American cop killers, I guess.

Pierre Moscovici, France's former European affairs minister, now France's representative in the Convention on the Future of Europe, said Bush's comments prejudged the verdict.

In other words, President Bush chooses to engage his rational faculties, while Monsieur Moscovi prefers thoughtless ambivalence, while awaiting the outcome of the process. Process is so much more important than justice.

"A trial should never be concluded before the judgment has taken place," he said.

I assume that something was lost in translation, otherwise, this is gibberish.

"It's very typical that (Bush) is seeking revenge and punishment (but) what worries me is that this is a form of pressure."

So typical of that cowboy, isn't it? Apparently Mr. Kettle, sorry, I mean Monsieur Moscovi, typically wishes to restrain the privilege of exerting pressure to those who are sophisticated enough to exercise it irresponsibly about something really important.

DOWNDATE: Tacitus offers a less vituperative (but only a little less), better researched, more thoroughly sourced, and more clearly reasoned opinion on the same topic (via Instapundit).

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

Jeez, If You Have To Explain Them, It Just Isn't Worth It

I leave not one, but two (IMHO) allusions to Marathon Man over at Tim Blair's site and absolutely no one seems to notice. What's the point of being too clever by half with pop culture references and free word association if absolutely no one is going to notice? While bloggins's been light of late, I have been lounging about the blogosphere and leaving a lot more comments than usual in the ether for good measure. But you'll just have to find them.

Just be sure to catch Dodd's Caption Contest later this week. I've outdone myself. And that's saying something. Just ask Dodd. In fact, if everyone who reads this will enter just one caption entry then perhaps I won't have half the total entries for this week's contest. Yet again.

Oh, and I have to go back to Japan on Thursday. This is one more brutal holiday season business trip. But as I told my wife, I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me. And you too can have yourself a merry little Christmas if you'll (yule?) just meet me in St. Louis.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2003

Meanwhile, At An Undisclosed Location...

Saddam's response to his on-going interrogation is below.

Some people say that i'm a bad guy,
They may be right, they may be right.
But it's not as if I don't try,
I just f*ck up! Try as I might.

But I can change, I can change!
I can learn to keep my promises, I swear it!
I'll open up my heart and I will share it.
Any minute now I will be born again!

Yes I can change, I can change!
I know I've been a dirty little bastard.
I like to kill! I like to maim! It sounds insane,
But it's okay, 'cause I can change!

It's not my fault that i'm so evil,
It's society, society.
You see my parents were sometimes abusive,
And it made a prick of me.

But I can change, I can change!
Satan: But what if you never change? What if you remain a sandy little butthole?
Saddam: Hey Satan! Don't be such a twit,
Mother Teresa won't have sh*t on me!

Just watch, just watch me change,
Here I go, I'm changing!

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

To Blog Or Not to Blog

Last night I picked up a book and read it for about 45 minutes before going to bed. My wife noticed and said, "that's the first time I've seen you reading anything in bed for a long time." By a long time, I think she means about eighteen months ago. She's right. I used to read for 30-90 minutes every night before going to sleep, but I've fallen out of the habit.

Hmm, I started blogging about 18 months ago. Coincidence?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:13 PM | Comments (4)

Ace of Spades

Motorhead.

If you like to gamble, I tell you I'm your man
You win some, lose some, it's all the same to me
The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say
I don't share your greed, the only card I need is
The Ace Of Spades
The Ace Of Spades

Playing for the high one, dancing with the devil,
Going with the flow, it's all a game to me,
Seven or Eleven, snake eyes watching you,
Double up or quit, double stake or split,
The Ace Of Spades
The Ace Of Spades

You know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools,
But that's the way I like it baby,
I don't wanna live for ever,
And don't forget the joker!

Pushing up the ante, I know you've got to see me,
Read 'em and weep, the dead man's hand again,
I see it in your eyes, take one look and die,
The only thing you see, you know it's gonna be,
The Ace Of Spades

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

Random Shots

If we were able to confirm that it was Saddam in a few hours via a DNA test, why do DNA tests in many court cases take weeks or longer?

John Kerry was despicable this morning. While running concurrent "live" interviews on CBS and FOX, he said that this was not a day for partisan attckas and then proceeded on to his usual litany of partisan attacks including President Bush not confirming the Kyoto treaty. Please. At least Howard Dean has the good sense to stay off the air for a while. Kerry has not only blown his chance at the presidency, but I don't think he'll be taken seriously as a senior statesman any longer once this is all over.

On NFL Gameday, as I expected, Chris Berman started off by noting Saddam's capture and thanking our troops. Then as he got ready to move on to football, Tom Jackson and Michael Irvin interrupted him and let everyone know loudly that Saddam Hussein had just been "jacked up!" You bet.

The euphoria won't last -- it never does -- but we should enjoy it while it lasts.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

Stick a Fork In Him

Figuratively, and literally for that matter. Saddam Hussein has been captured by coalition forces.

This is a good thing.

This is a really good thing.

Congratulations to our armed forced and President George W. Bush. This has to be the best news for the people of Iraq since, well, ever. I think it's a great idea to let the Iraqis bring Saddam to book. However, he should stay in US custody right up to the moment he is hung. We cannot risk a small contingent of Iraqi's allowing him to escape.

I've had a lot of snarky thoughts this morning, but I will suppress them. I only hope that everyone continues to look forward and conducts themselves with honor, thankfulness, and respect for all involved.

DOWNDATE: Wouldn't it be fitting to see Saddam in a little cell in Guantanamo? He looks like he could use a little sun and a cool breeze off the ocean.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2003

They're So Mad They Can't See Straight

The older I get, the more often I see the truth and wisdom of all those aphorisms that keep popping up from time to time. Today's aphorism is:

Don't get mad, get even.

I not sure whether it says more (or less, as it happens) about the leadership of the DNC or the rank and file that this simple lesson continues to be consistently ignored. As long as anger is their primary attribute, they'll never make much progress in what they want. But unlike Rich Lowry and the folks at National Review, the last thing I want to see is Howard Dean get the Democrat's presidential nomination. Please don't throw us in that briar patch.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2003

Help

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm curious, did the Supreme Court utilize it's late penchant for referencing international law in its decisions in deciding that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." means something other than what it says?

Great Britain certainly doesn't have the kind of free speech we have -- sorry, had -- in this country. I'm not familiar with the laws in most of the rest of the world, but somehow I think things probably go downhill from Great Britain with respect to free speech.

This is a very bad thing. I guess perhaps it's time to just accept that we are now ruled by robed oligarchs that will do whatever they damn well please. Wow. Magna Carta to the US Constitution in 572 years. It only took 216 years to revert back to a pre-Magna Carta view of power, with the judiciary substituted for the king. Pre-Magna Carta, the law was whatever the king said, no matter what or why. Now the law is whatever the court says, no matter what or why.

Is all of this just hyperbole or is the American experiment over?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:15 PM | Comments (4)

What Part of "No" Didn't They Understand?

The EU was right on steel. But this ain't steel.

The European Union's head office said Wednesday it would examine whether the Pentagon decision to shut Germany, France and other countries that opposed its war in Iraq out of bidding for reconstruction contracts violates World Trade Organization rules.

"We are asking the U.S. to provide us with information so we can see whether or not their commitments with regard to the WTO have been respected," said Arancha Gonzalez, trade spokeswoman at the European Commission.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

If It Wasn't For the UN...

Where would Bobby Mugabe be allowed to show his face in polite society? Bobby Mugabe's in the house!

President Robert Mugabe's anti-British diatribes rose to new extremes yesterday when he declared that Britain was using the internet to destroy Zimbabwe and recolonise the Third World.

Yea, if anybody's going to destroy Zimbabwe, it's going to be Bobby Mugabe, damnit!

Many delegates at the summit in Geneva hailed a new era of free access to information. But Mr Mugabe saw the internet as pernicious.

In other words, not completely controllable by Bobby Mugabe and his rent-a-thugs.

"Beneath the rhetoric of free press and transparency is the iniquity of hegemony," he said.

Oooo, hegemony.

He controls all broadcasting in his country and in September closed the Daily News, the only independent daily newspaper.

Apparently, Bobby Mugabe only likes hegemony if it's his.

He said information technology was dominated "by a few countries in the selfish interests of those countries which are in quest of global dominance and hegemony".

Maybe "hegemony" is Bobby Mugabe's word of the day. Eight more uses and it will be his.

He singled out Britain, the United States and Australia for using their information technology superiority to "challenge our sovereignty through hostile and malicious broadcasts calculated to foment instability and destroy the state through divisions".

Who said irony is dead?

Mr Mugabe told the conference that the internet and computer revolution were "spin-offs of the same industry that allows once again for the conquest of our societies . . . the same platforms used for high-tech espionage".

The same platforms used for education, medicine, agriculture, and prosecuting war criminals and others guilty of crimes against humanity.

New technology provides one of the few channels of information still open to his opponents.

Those must be the hegemonists Bobby Mugabe is tlaking about. With that or those who can only hope and pray for a liberation of Zimbabwe from Bobby Mugabe.

During the failed referendum campaign to approve a new constitution enlarging his powers in February 2000, critics distributed a highly effective mobile phone text message declaring: "No Fuel. No Jobs. Vote No."

Yea, baby!

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change and Zimbabwean human rights groups have made extensive use of e-mail.

And the UN wants to take over the Internet so Bobby Mugabe and his compadres can rid themselves of such pesky interference. Not on our watch.

What a sad, sick joke the UN is.


Posted by Charles Austin at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

And You Thought Al Haig Was Bad

I have a lot of respect for anyone who reaches the rank of general or admiral. It takes intelligence, hard work, dedication, imagination, and superb people, political and organizational skills. Or at least I used to think this. Every time Wesley Clark speaks, my belief in what it takes to reach such a high level of command takes another hit:

Retired Army General Wesley K. Clark yesterday suggested that President Bush bears some responsibility for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, saying the administration had been warned about the threat of Osama bin Laden but did not act quickly enough to prevent the tragedy.

"Now, we know who did 9/11," Clark told a roomful of business people at a law firm in Portsmouth, saying the Bush administration should be investigated for its actions prior to the attacks. Bush, he said, is "responsible for our preparation, our defense, and that's the issue. . . . This was a president who was in charge in this country for almost nine months, and failed" to defend the country.

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to document any of the many things that are so, so wrong with this utterance. I'm not wasting any more time pointing out what General Shelton has already alluded to.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:26 PM | Comments (1)

Our Friends and Allies

The uproar and whinging from our erstwhile friends and allies in the EU and Canada about being excluded from bidding for American-funded prime contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq is very revealing. I assume that the average Iraqi served by these improvements couldn't care one way or another whether their new road was put in by an American firm or a French firm, as long as it's there and it works. But then, we've known all along that the primary concern of those that opposed the libertion of Iraq wasn't the average Iraqi. Since we are talking about funds from the US Government, I have no problem at all with the US Government deciding how best to spend those funds. Rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies is rule #1 of politics, and especially Realpolitik.

Really though, this is classic. Perhaps our friends and allies aren't in it for the oil, but they are in it for the money. Tell me again about how noble a virtue this is and how pure their motives are. Isn't it fascinating that after all their objections to deposing Saddam and carping from the sidelines while the heavy lifting was done by others, they are now claiming to be victims of the liberation of Iraq as well. I suppose it's true that this isn't conducive to further coalition building, but then neither was their active hostility to us before, during and after the liberation of Iraq. In fact, there's no end in sight to their thinly veiled anti-Americanism.

As Tony Soprano says, "there have to be consequences." Or as John Kerry might say, f*** 'em.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:32 PM | Comments (4)

December 09, 2003

Why Hasn't This Made Instapundit?

Hot times in East Tenneesee/Northern Georgia:

General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon said the recreational area at Chickamauga Dam has become "one big sex party."

Judge Moon? You're kidding, right?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:44 PM | Comments (1)

Damn!

I missed another one.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:40 PM | Comments (1)

"There's No Reason To Get Snippy About It"

Poor Joe can't see the forest for the trees:

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) responded to his rejection by former vice president Al Gore with a sharp attack on Howard Dean on Tuesday, questioning Gore's judgment and warning that the former Vermont governor would lead the Democratic Party back into the political wilderness.

Back?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

On Bended Knee or On His Knees?

Wesley Clark sort of popped the question to Hillary! today:

On the presidential campaign trail Tuesday, Wesley Clark said he has not ruled out Hillary Clinton as his running mate, if he wins the Democratic presidential nomination.

I wonder if Hillary! likes being used this way? Of course, he's left himself an out since he's not going to win the nomination, but is there anything more humiliating -- in theory -- than proposing and being rejected?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

Joe's Done

Joe Lieberman might as well hang it up. No matter how mad Joe is, there's no way he can match the anger of Howard Dean that all the kool-aid kids crave. Besides, who's going to elect Barney Fife to protect them?

mad joe.jpg

Personally, I think Joe's been treated badly by Al Gore. But realistically, why should Joe be surprised about it?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

Vox Populi, Vox Humbug

There's something a little wrong about the way so many Democrats are trying to anoint Howard Dean as their party's new champion. With all the criticism of the bad old days of old men in smoke-filled rooms picking nominees, here we are with the contest virtually over five weeks before the first vote is cast in Iowa. I understand it and the rationale for it, but it does seem to be at odds with a professed love for the voice of the people.

Or am I missing something?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2003

A Question

How is the public interest served by Big Media when they treat the political process primarily as nothing but a horserace in which they try to impress us, and each other, with the quality of their handicapping skills?

Place your answers in the comment box.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:50 PM | Comments (2)

I Haven't Forgotten

Does Howard Dean still have to guess whether Saddam's removal was a good thing?

Saddam Hussein's government may have executed 61,000 Baghdad residents, a number significantly higher than previously believed, according to a survey obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

Remember, that's just in Baghdad.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

The Appearance of Propriety

Not yet content with having a greater probability of dying in office than losing a reelection bid, here's a really bad idea to help cement incumbents of both parties even more firmly in place than they are now:

Like minority parties in several states, Florida Democrats want to change the way political boundaries are drawn by taking the process out lawmakers' hands and giving the responsibility to an independent commission appointed equally by both parties.

Funny how this never occurred to the Democrats when they weren't in the minority.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

Passing the Flaming Bag of Poo

Al Gore to endorse Howard Dean!

Perhaps Howard declared he was in favor of the Dingle-Norwood bill. Or maybe Al was impressed by Howard's use of his invention, the Internet. Or maybe Howard was the only guy angry enough to carry forward the hostility Al felt after failing to get a vote re-re-re-count in selected Democrat-dominated counties in Florida. Who knows? Who cares?

Of course, being endorsed by sore losers isn't exactly something politicians usually brag about. The only thing I see this doing is putting another nail in Joe Lieberman's campaign. Gee, that makes Al look kind of bad for choosing Joe to begin with if he doesn't feel Joe is the guy now, doesn't it?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:13 PM | Comments (1)

About Time

Finally, Bill Janklow accepts some responsibility and resigns from Congress:

U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow resigned from Congress on Monday following his conviction for manslaughter, stemming from an automobile accident in which he killed a motorcycle rider in a collision, his office said.

Personally, I think he should have resigned from Congress after the accident. It would have made me think a lot more of him if he had acknowledged his guilt and asked for mercy instead of mounting a weak, and ultimately unsuccessful, defense in which he tried to evade the responsibility for running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. We should expect better behavior from every adult, especially those in Congress.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:55 PM | Comments (1)

December 07, 2003

One Big Thing

On December 7th, it is good and proper to recall the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. It is also worth remembering that President Franklin D. Roosevelt is considered to be one of our greatest presidents ever, primarily because of his administration's conduct of World War II. In many respects, especially with the benefit of hindsight, without our victory in World War II there is no way the President Franklin D. Roosevelt would be considered as one of our nation's greatest presidents, what with his threats to pack the Supreme Court and other actions during his first two terms that did more to prolong the depression than to get us out of it, and the legacy of the New Deal which still hurts us today and threatens to bankrupt the United States in the coming years unless we get serious about our ever-expanding entitlement programs. Nevertheless, President Franklin D. Roosevelt got the one big thing he had to get right right, and that one big thing overwhelms all the other negatives.

On this December 7th, we find our nation at war once again, though this enemy is quite different in many respects than those that have dared threaten or attack us in the past. It still astounds me that so many people are unable or unwilling to understand that as the world around us has changed, the nature of warfare has changed, since, as von Clausewitz noted, "war is just the extension of politics by other means." After all, look at how much the rest of the world has changed since World War II. The advance of technology has been remarkable, colonialism has virtually disappeared, all the old empires have crumbled, old enemies become new friends and vice versa, and the world has become a very small place with the advent of cheap travel, worldwide media, and the Internet. Why shouldn't warfare, or armed conflict, be expected to change and evolve as well? But the world at large, with the exception of Israel, has been slow to apply the lessons of Hitler's appeasement prior to World War II to terrorists today. Only now are we starting to deal with terrorism on a principled basis, instead of allowing hope to triumph over experience in our therapeutic culture that seeks to excuse evil deeds, mitigate wickedness, and discount individual responsibility in a misguided search for root causes.

At this time it is hard for me to envision any scenarios that have me voting for anyone other than President George W. Bush for president again next year -- unless something truly terrible should happen, and then I expect to be voting for Vice President Dick Cheney. I find myself in substantial disagreement with many of the policies the current administration has implemented and advocated, though not as much as some, and I'm no more willing to give President George W. Bush complete credit for the economic recovery, unlike some, than I am to give Bill Clinton credit for being president during the prosperous times the nation enjoyed while he was president. As I have stated before, heaven help us if any president should ever be able to actually control the economy.

Ultimately, my support for President George W. Bush comes down to the fact that he is right on the one big thing that overrides virtually everything else today -- the War on Terrorism. The administration may not pursue it as aggresively as I might like, or others, but short of assuming dictatorial powers, it is hard to imagine the Bush administration pushing much harder than it is now. With Congress as closely divided as it is and without the American people solidly behind a more aggresive policy towards those who oppose us, it is just not possible to move much faster than we have. Considering the depleted state of our armed forces, the interconnectedness of the world economies, the anti-Americanism so prevelant in governments around the world, and an actively hostile media, I am pleasantly surprised at how much we have actually accomplished.

I believe that the current administration would like to do more, and I will continue to advocate doing more, but as with most other things in life, the perfect is the enemy of the good. No matter how one might choose to measure it, President George W. Bush is good on the War on Terrorism. The carping from the Left and the current crop of Democrat presidential aspirants in favor of a utopian perfect solution stands in stark contrast to what has been accomplished thus far and what still remains ahead of us. I don't expect the War on Terrorism to end in my lifetime, but I do expect us to stay ahead of the game, acting preemptively where necessary and extracting a heavy toll from those that dare harm us or our interests.

Until such time as the Democrat Party decides en masse to accept that we are at war and aggresively defend the United States, they will be dead to me. I am an Independent, but I may feel obligated to become a Republican, if only to help ensure that we as a nation continue to get the one big thing right.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)