Thursday, December 30, 2004

Triple Whammy. Sorry for not being around for the past few weeks -- I got hit by a triple whammy: sick (with a lingering bad cold/sore throat -- into my third week with it), work, and a personal thing that has me not wanting to chat. Basically, my sister's husband has decided he's not happy (or in love), so he's pulling an Amy Grant and moving out. I guess he thinks by devastating my sister and their three kids, he will find happiness.

Pray for her, for the kids, and for her husband. Abandonment of one's responsibilities does not lead to happiness.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

USAToday is making a mistake. Walter Shapiro's nine year run ends today -- he will be missed, but I know a smart editor will pick him up. As I noted back in 2002, he wrote one of the best columns explaining the partisan divisions in the USA in this May 1, 1998 column.

In today's final column Mr. Shapiro notes
I also cherish the dialogue, which admittedly sometimes became fractious, that I had with readers. From the moment that I published my e-mail address at the bottom of this column, my goal had been to respond to every reader comment with a personal message. As is often the case with such high-minded intentions, I sometimes became overwhelmed by the volume of e-mail that I received.
I can affirm, from personal experience, that this was the case -- I was (pleasantly) surprised to see his reply to a message I sent once.

He will be missed, but hopefully for not long.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Sgt. Rafael Peralta, USMC. This is from the Marine Corps website, in it's entirety:

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Dec. 02, 2004) -- "You’re still here, don’t forget that. Tell your kids, your grandkids, what Sgt. Peralta did for you and the other Marines today."

As a combat correspondent, I was attached to Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment for Operation Al Fajr, to make sure the stories of heroic actions and the daily realities of battle were told.

On this day, I found myself without my camera. With the batteries dead, I decided to leave the camera behind and live up to the ethos "every Marine a rifleman," by volunteering to help clear the fateful buildings that lined streets.

After seven days of intense fighting in Fallujah, the Marines of 1/3 embraced a new day with a faceless enemy.

We awoke November 15, 2004, around day-break in the abandoned, battle-worn house we had made our home for the night. We shaved, ate breakfast from a Meal, Ready-to-Eat pouch and waited for the word to move.

The word came, and we started what we had done since the operation began – clear the city of insurgents, building by building.

As an attachment to the unit, I had been placed as the third man in a six-man group, or what Marines call a 'stack.' Two stacks of Marines were used to clear a house. Moving quickly from the third house to the fourth, our order in the stack changed. I found Sgt. Rafael Peralta in my spot, so I fell in behind him as we moved toward the house.

Sgt. Rafael Peralta, Hero A Mexican-American who lived in San Diego, Peralta earned his citizenship after he joined the Marine Corps. He was a platoon scout, which meant he could have stayed back in safety while the squads of 1st Platoon went into the danger filled streets, but he was constantly asking to help out by giving them an extra Marine. I learned by speaking with him and other Marines the night before that he frequently put his safety, reputation and career on the line for the needs and morale of the junior Marines around him.

When we reached the fourth house, we breached the gate and swiftly approached the building. The first Marine in the stack kicked in the front door, revealing a locked door to their front and another at the right.

Kicking in the doors simultaneously, one stack filed swiftly into the room to the front as the other group of Marines darted off to the right.

"Clear!" screamed the Marines in one of the rooms followed only seconds later by another shout of "clear!" from the second room. One word told us all we wanted to know about the rooms: there was no one in there to shoot at us.

We found that the two rooms were adjoined and we had another closed door in front of us. We spread ourselves throughout the rooms to avoid a cluster going through the next door.

Two Marines stacked to the left of the door as Peralta, rifle in hand, tested the handle. I watched from the middle, slightly off to the right of the room as the handle turned with ease.

Ready to rush into the rear part of the house, Peralta threw open the door.

‘POP! POP! POP!’ Multiple bursts of cap-gun-like sounding AK-47 fire rang throughout the house.

Three insurgents with AK-47s were waiting for us behind the door.

Peralta was hit several times in his upper torso and face at point-blank range by the fully-automatic 7.62mm weapons employed by three terrorists.

Mortally wounded, he jumped into the already cleared, adjoining room, giving the rest of us a clear line of fire through the doorway to the rear of the house.

We opened fire, adding the bangs of M-16A2 service rifles, and the deafening, rolling cracks of a Squad Automatic Weapon, or “SAW,” to the already nerve-racking sound of the AKs. One Marine was shot through the forearm and continued to fire at the enemy.

I fired until Marines closer to the door began to maneuver into better firing positions, blocking my line of fire. Not being an infantryman, I watched to see what those with more extensive training were doing.

I saw four Marines firing from the adjoining room when a yellow, foreign-made, oval-shaped grenade bounced into the room, rolling to a stop close to Peralta’s nearly lifeless body.

In an act living up to the heroes of the Marine Corps’ past, such as Medal of Honor recipients Pfc. James LaBelle and Lance Cpl. Richard Anderson, Peralta – in his last fleeting moments of consciousness- reached out and pulled the grenade into his body. LaBelle fought on Iwo Jima and Anderson in Vietnam, both died saving their fellow Marines by smothering the blast of enemy grenades.

Peralta did the same for all of us in those rooms.

I watched in fear and horror as the other four Marines scrambled to the corners of the room and the majority of the blast was absorbed by Peralta’s now lifeless body. His selflessness left four other Marines with only minor injuries from smaller fragments of the grenade.

During the fight, a fire was sparked in the rear of the house. The flames were becoming visible through the door.

The decision was made by the Marine in charge of the squad to evacuate the injured Marines from the house, regroup and return to finish the fight and retrieve Peralta’s body.

We quickly ran for shelter, three or four houses up the street, in a house that had already been cleared and was occupied by the squad’s platoon.

As Staff Sgt. Jacob M. Murdock took a count of the Marines coming back, he found it to be one man short, and demanded to know the whereabouts of the missing Marine.

"Sergeant Peralta! He’s dead! He’s f------ dead," screamed Lance Cpl. Adam Morrison, a machine gunner with the squad, as he came around a corner. "He’s still in there. We have to go back."

The ingrained code Marines have of never leaving a man behind drove the next few moments. Within seconds, we headed back to the house unknown what we may encounter yet ready for another round.

I don't remember walking back down the street or through the gate in front of the house, but walking through the door the second time, I prayed that we wouldn't lose another brother.

We entered the house and met no resistance. We couldn't clear the rest of the house because the fire had grown immensely and the danger of the enemy’s weapons cache exploding in the house was increasing by the second.

Most of us provided security while Peralta's body was removed from the house.

We carried him back to our rally point and upon returning were told that the other Marines who went to support us encountered and killed the three insurgents from inside the house.

Later that night, while I was thinking about the day’s somber events, Cpl. Richard A. Mason, an infantryman with Headquarters Platoon, who, in the short time I was with the company became a good friend, told me, "You’re still here, don’t forget that. Tell your kids, your grandkids, what Sgt. Peralta did for you and the other Marines today."

As a combat correspondent, this is not only my job, but an honor.

Throughout Operation Al Fajr, we were constantly being told that we were making history, but if the books never mention this battle in the future, I’m sure that the day and the sacrifice that was made, will never be forgotten by the Marines who were there.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Come as a Child. We went down to my parent's place in NC for Thanksgiving and had a wonderful time. My mother is really into sewing and embroidery -- she has these powerful machines that can embroider practically anything on cloth (even toilet paper, but that's another story). In the months prior to Christmas, she really gears up and sews all kinds of fabulous gifts for the family. She (and my Dad) also buy us gifts (as you see, they go all out); so she's always looking for an indication of what we'd like.

This year she sent out a request for wish lists from the family and added, if we didn't respond, we'd get embroidered underwear. She followed this up with several e-mails asking for our lists and then sent this e-mail out before Thanksgiving:

I have received Christmas wish lists from Ann, William and Debbie, the Gallahans, and Brian. For the rest of you this Tuesday I will be purchasing the underwear--maybe socks too! :-)
My wife told the kids about these messages, seeking to compile their wish lists for Grandma.

When we arrived at my Mom and Dad's, the two little kids went scurrying off with their bags, while Debbie and I were greeting my parents and sister (who arrived before us). Pretty soon, Emilie (age 3) and Joe (age 6) were tugging at my Mom. She leaned over to see what they wanted. They each handed her a stack of clean underwear.

He's Back. Chris Muir's Day by Day is back.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Alexander the Bomb. Ollie Stone's new movie is getting terrible reviews -- "puerile" "uninspired, repetitious, tedious" "a 178-minute-long wall hanging" and "a bad movie of truly epic proportion." I like Stephen Hunter's review best:
[Stone's] Alexander, as expressed through the weepy histrionics of Colin Farrell, is more like a desperate housewife than a soldier. He's always crying, his voice trembles, his eyes fill with tears. He's much less interesting, except as a basket case, than Richard Burton's Alexander of far less enlightened times -- 1956 -- in Robert Rossen's "Alexander the Great." Burton got Alexander's dissipation, but also his martial spirit; this was, after all, one of the great light-cavalry commanders of all time and a general who fought by leading his troops, sword in hand, not directing them from some safe hill. But in this one you think: Teri Hatcher could kick this twerp's butt.

* * *

Then there's Angelina Jolie as Mom. Really, words fail me here. But let's try: Give this young woman the hands-down award for best impression of Bela Lugosi while hampered by a 38-inch bust line. Though everyone else in the picture speaks in some variation of a British accent, poor Jolie has been given the Transylvanian throat-sucker's throaty, sibilant vowels, as well as a wardrobe of snakes.
The whole review is witty and a work of art which should be read. [More: Read Mr. Bradley's take as well.]

Nevertheless, Alexander, the subject, should not be written off, even if Stone's flick is.

Stephen Pressfield has just released a novel of Alexander, The Virtues of War. Based on my read of one his prior novels, Gates of Fire, a novel about the stand at Thermopylae, I have moved this to the top of my reading list. In Gates of Fire, Pressfield not only tells the story of the stand, but he conveys a sense of the philosophy, the religion, and the social structure of the men and women of that period of time. It also makes the USMC's reading list.

Here's an excerpt from an interview with Pressfield on Alexander:

But for me, Alexander's defining preoccupation wasn't sex or power or subjecting other peoples to his will (as I've read in other books, and which are all legitimate approaches.)

I believe his life was about heroic ambition, and I use the word "heroic" in the Homeric sense, that is, derived from an era of legend and from characters like Achilles and Heracles, who were semi-divine and who lived their lives according to a code that transcends what we would call justice or morality. Alexander did that too, but not in an era of legend, in a real historical era. He's accessible to us. He's "modern." But he lived, I believe, according to that ancient heroic code. In the loftiest terms, I think, he sought to achieve undying glory, to set a mark for the ages. But justice, or at least the concept of conventional justice, took a back seat to glory.
And this comport with my study of the ancient Greeks. Don't waste time with bad movies, read a good book instead.
Congratulations! According to this article, more women over 40 are having babies. Amy Welborn certainly backs this up. I'm excited for her (and she kind of hits home for me -- I'm the same age as her husband, she's the same age as my wife).
...and another "best album list" This one, best discs for 2004, from the publishers of Chritianity Today. My daughter disses it -- "too pop," but I think it's not a bad sample -- it's got Buddy Miller, for example. Pay attention to the one's that missed the cut. The blithering daughter likes Todd Hertz's pick.
Make it Sing. I love the new U2 disc. Great review here.* See also CT's review, here. The song that's currently on my repeat button, Yahweh:

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I'm waiting for the dawn

Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don't make a fist
Take this mouth
So quick to criticise
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I'm waiting for the dawn

Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
The sun is coming up on the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this heart
And make it break

* This link take's you to Kenneth Tanner's review as republished by the National Review Online (I figure they've got bandwidth). In the alternative, you can read the original here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Some Great Harry Potter Links. In honor of today's release of the Prisoner of Azkaban:

If you haven't seen Azkaban and haven't read the book, I strongly recommend reading the book. While director Alfonso Cuarón did a fine job, he did leave out a number of key points and scenes -- my daughter and I figure it would've only taken another 2 to 5 minutes of movie time to have added these.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Cool (Adult) Toy: All I want for Christmas is the Oakley Thump.
Cabinet Seats? I'm very happy about Condi Rice -- that's a lock.

Has Agriculture or Commerce been filled? I like Zell Miller for Ag and Herman Cain for Commerce.
Fresno. I've been out of town all week in Fresno, CA. The highlight of the week was being wined and dined by blogger extraordinaire, Peter Sean Bradley, more about below. I stayed at the downtown Radisson which promised Wi-Fi in every room. It must've been on a rotating basis, because I was able to get it for somewhere between 30 seconds and 5 minutes each night. Not good for blogging.

More bad news: I learned when I upgraded my OS, I'd wiped out my Earthlink software -- I stopped by Best Buy and CompUSA, hoping to get a promo disc, but nada.

Fresno was cold -- but I'd been warned of this by Mr. Bradley, so I was steeled and ready to go.

Peter was a very gracious host, driving out to the hotel to pick me up, giving me a tour of Fresno, taking me out for tapas and beer, wonderful conversation, and not letting me pay for a thing. (I owe you big time, Peter.)

And, as usual, he has asked several probing questions and given me much to think about.

Oh, and work went well too.

I got back Friday night and spent Saturday morning catching up on mail and things. Then Joe and I went out back and split wood for a few hours. I remember when President Reagan used to split wood, I thought it was kind of a photo-op thing, but the more I do it, the more I love doing it. Whether it's the well seasoned log that I can split with one whack or the very green (and too long) piece in which I bury my wood grenade before hearing that satisfying cracking noise (like think ice breaking on a pond), it's all good.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Read This. Read this now. An excerpt:

For my wife and her family, being a Catholic meant being a Democrat, and being a Democrat meant fighting for the little guy - literally. That included the poor, the homeless, racial and ethnic minorities, and the unemployed. It also meant defending the unborn child.

For my wife, arguing whether an unborn child was a "full human person" or a "developing human being" was irrelevant - or worse, a kind of lying. The dignity of the unborn life involved was exactly the same, whatever one called it.

In the years since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand, my wife and I have struggled many times with the choice of voting Democratic. Our youngest son has Down syndrome, and Democratic policies often benefit the disabled in ways Republican policies don't.

But it's also true that children like our son are becoming extinct in part because the abortion lobby has a stranglehold on the Democratic Party platform, with all that it implies for legislation and judicial appointments. The easiest response to handicapped children is to kill them before they arrive. That's not a solution. That's homicide.

Like I said, read it all.

There is a group calling for a return to sanity for the Democratic party.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Currently reading. The afternoon of the Bin Laden tape release, my library hold of Shadow War by Richard Miniter came in. Had I picked it up a day earlier, I would not have been surprised to find bin Laden still alive -- Miniter presented solid evidence for this in the first 5 pages. Nevertheless, I had been reluctant to read this one, assuming that since it was on the Regnery label, it was right-wing screed and/or rah-rah Bush. Not so. While Miniter does make the case that the War on Terror is largely being won, he does not pull his punches, critizing Bush where warranted.

I'm also reading Wormwood by G. P. Taylor, and am frankly finding it quite boring. Maybe it's the British narration, but I'm finding it like Dickens, without plot or characterization. Rev. Taylor seems to be spending all his time showing you a very dark menagerie, but there doesn't appear to be any redeeming point to this tale. I'm not going to go so far as to label this "spiritual pornography," but I'm almost half-way through and I keep waiting for a glimmer of light. Right now, I'd recommend reading any of the Harry Potter books and stay away from this one.

Recently, I finished reading the final two books in the Jasper Fforde "Thursday Next" series, Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten. The series is great fun and the conclusion of "Something Rotten" is very satisfying. (BTW, I read half of Rotten, then had to return it to the library and ended up listening to the whole book on audiobook -- a good reading. I'm not sure if the other three books in the series could've made the jump to audio book, but this one does. Nevertheless, there are a lot of gimmicks that only work on paper. Think e.e.cummings.)

Up next: Jim Webb's Born Fighting and Owen West's Four Days to Veracruz. BTW, I strongly recommend West's first novel, Sharkman Six about the Marine "invasion" of Somalia (now in paperback!).

On the horizon: Philip Yancey's Reaching for the Invisible God and Michael Crichton's State of Fear.
Get Religion. Since the GetReligion crew is traveling, here is a link to a recommendation from Morton Kondracke to "Get" religion.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Hawai'i Football. Good article on the front of the USAToday: High School football in Hawai'i rivals that of Texas and Florida. I especially like the focus on Kahuku Red Raiders.
Unconstitutional. As has been extensively noted, since activist courts* have taken to redefining "marriage," persons in a number of states have adopted constitutional amendments seeking to fix the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. See, for example, this Jeff Jacoby column.

This should fix the problem, right? At least as far as the individual states are concerned, right? I mean what's higher than the constitution?

No, this doesn't fix the problem.

Matt Foreman, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is quoted as saying "We'll win some states and we'll lose some states, but eventually the Supreme Court is going to look at the Bill of Rights and isn't going to give a damn what's in any of these state constitutions."

And he is quite right.

In Romer v. Evans, (1996) the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Colorado's Amendment 2 to that state's Constitution. According to the majority opinion, "Amendment 2, in explicit terms . . . prohibits all legislative, executive or judicial action at any level of state or local government designed to protect the named class, a class we shall refer to as homosexual persons or gays and lesbians." Or, as Justice Scalia observed in his dissent, the amendment was adopted "to prohibit[] special protection for homosexuals." The court held that in adopting this amendment to the constitution, the state was discriminating agains gays: "Amendment 2, however, in making a general announcement that gays and lesbians shall not have any particular protections from the law, inflicts on them immediate, continuing, and real injuries that outrun and belie any legitimate justifications that may be claimed for it."

In Romer, the Supremes declared themselves to be above the law and seized the authority to strike down state constitutional provisions that the judges simply didn't like.**

You can bet that if they've done it once, they will do it again. The Supreme Court doesn't give a damn what's constitutional.

*In another, not-to-remote era, courts affirmed the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. For example, in Singer v. Hara, 11 Wn. App. 247 (1974) the Washington Supreme Court noted in passing, "The operative distinction lies in the relationship which is described by the term 'marriage' itself, and that relationship is the legal union of one man and one woman." (declining to apply the state's Equal Rights Amendment to homosexual marriage). However, in Hawai'i, Vermont, and most recently in Massachusetts, judges have begun re-writing the law.

** For more reading, see this issue of First Things which led to open warfare between the neo-cons and the theo-cons.

More on the Incredibles. Don't miss this essay by Frederica Mathewes-Green on this superb movie (her observations about Pixar ring true as well).
Raising Cain. So Ashcroft and Evans are the first to depart the Cabinet (post-election). Ashcroft's departure will bring sadness to those who use him to raise money for the left and far left. I was expecting he would be followed by Larry Thompson, but the WaPo says it ain't so.

There's no speculation on Evans replacement at Commerce. I like Herman Cain for that position.
From Tun to Fallujah. Happy Birthday, United States Marine Corps. 229 and counting.

Some people spend their entire lifetime wondering if they have made a difference,
the Marines don't have that problem.

-- Attributed to President Ronald Reagan

Saturday, November 06, 2004

A letter to K. I took Tuesday and Wednesday off to chop wood -- we took down a lot of trees over the past year and I'm cutting everything by hand. Back at work on Thursday, the despair was tangible. Bush was re-elected and Kerry lot. The attorney in the office next to mine -- K., a lesbian very active with the HRC -- K. said "I might as well start wearing my badge now."


As the attorney on the other side of me, D., -- a gay man, also active with HRC -- as he would say, "Too much drama."

George Bush -- despite all the Bush=Hitler rhetoric -- is not a step on the way to Nazism and death camps. Neither is the different votes on the state ballots against changing the definition of marriage.

I'd love to discuss this with you, K., but I can't -- maybe I have my own parallel paranoia -- but I'm afraid that any attempt to try to present another side of this issue would be seen as discrimination and harassment.

So let me break it down here.

First, apart from a very small minority -- the Fred Phelps crowd -- religious conservatives don't want to stone gays. In fact, true Christian teaching affirms the dignity and worth of each and every person. You, K. are made in the image of God. He knows you and loves you.

Were you my enemy, His command to me would be to love you -- but you are not my enemy, you are my co-worker and, I hope, a friend. I admire you. You are a very skilled attorney -- a bright engaging person. Therefore, how can I treat you as less than I would an enemy?

So why were all those states voting on gay marriage? Let's be honest -- it's because some people are trying to change the definition of marriage. Marriage has always meant the union between a man and a woman. (Yes, in some cultures, there have been polygamous relationships which have been classified as a "marriage," but this is an aberration.) Moreover, this attempt to change the definition -- to change the law -- is not being waged in the legislature, the branch of government vested with the power to make and change law. This attempt is being waged in front of judges; taking the power of lawmaking away from the people and their representatives and giving it to arbitrary men and women -- a very small group at that. It's not just about changing the very definition of marriage, it's also about taking the right to vote away from the people and having it seized by judges.

We have seen this happen before with abortion -- now millions of children are being killed every year and there's nothing that can be done to stop it. Once the judges found a "right to abortion" clause in the disappearing ink of the constitution, there was nothing that could be done to change it.

Now, we're seeing it happen again. Four judges in Massachusetts said there was a constitutional right for gay men to marry one another; for lesbian women to marry one another.

The only way to head this off is by taking the action that the voters in those states took last week.

What I would say to you, K., is that if you believe in the rightness of your cause, you seek to achieve it by amending the laws through the legislature. Persuade people. Compromise. Get what you want one step at a time. Legitimately, not through judicial fiat. The way of the judges tyranny, not liberty.

In fact, George Bush, instead of forcing a badge on you, has extended an olive branch to you. The NYTimes reports:

In an interview on Sunday with Charles Gibson, an anchor of "Good Morning
America" on ABC, Mr. Bush said, "I don't think we should deny people rights to a
civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so." . . .

According to an ABC transcript, Mr. Gibson then noted to Mr. Bush that the Republican Party platform opposed civil unions. "Well, I don't," Mr. Bush replied.
He added: "I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman. Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others."

In short, there's nothing out there to justify your reaction.

Apt Title. We all went to see The Incredibles last night -- this is, without a doubt the coolest movie of the year.

One thing I noticed (very mild spoiler coming), one of the "bad guys" was the whole class of trial lawyers. It reminded me of when the EPA shifted from being good guys to [jerks] in Ghostbusters or the media went from being heroes (in All the President's Men) to [jerks] in Die Hard (interestingly, the same actor).

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I Voted. My daughter's friends told her that if Kerry was elected, the kids would have to wear uniforms to school and have school on Saturday's. We told her it wasn't true. The 55-year old guy in line behind me said if Bush was elected, all the kids in high school would be drafted. Different versions -- same lie.

The wait was about 35 minutes and, since I took the day off, I voted at an "off" time.

So who will win -- I hope Bush, but if it's Kerry, he will have my support. We are Americans and we are at war. We need to hold our leaders accountable, but not be like the Michael Moore's of the world in doing so.
Scorecard. Here is the scorecard. Hopefully this link will work. The other link was for yahoo's briefcase, which is no longer open to public. Sorry about that.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Election 2004. A quicky -- I'm for Bush. Here are my three favorite election websites: RealClear, the Electoral Vote Predictor, and RedState.Org

Here is my Election Night Score card -- it's a color-coded MSWord document, with states sorted by poll closing times (Eastern Standard). Based on polls done last week, when I prepared the document, I've coded states by strong Bush, leaning Bush, undetermined, leaning Kerry, strong Kerry. I've also got a slot for the relevant Senate races.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

New Blog. For "young Anglicans" (which now leaves me out), it's called Balaam’s Ass. I heard about this from my daughter's youth group leader.
Idol Worship. You may have noticed I've been a little speechless lately.* The truth is, I'm stunned by the Episcopal Church's commitment to moving away from Jesus Christ as swiftly as possible. In brief, and without any sensationalizing, the ECUSA is proudly celebrating idol worship and pagan rites. Yes, I know this is a sensational charge but it is all quite well documented and laid out. You can read about it on Christopher S. Johnson's blog, or Kendall Harmon's or the CT Weblog has an excellent summary here and an update here.

I could not believe this when I first read about it, but when I saw the evidence, I felt like vomiting. This American denomination is so utterly beyond the pale -- it is truly an abomination.

*Part of the problem, as well, is with blogger and/or blogspot which has taken to deleting posts in a random fashion.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Curse of the Sox? Congrats to the Sox and their fans. My daughter's softball coach, a lifelong Red Sox fan, had SRO tickets to the game tonight -- I'm happy for him and for all the long suffering fans.

Nevertheless, when the announcers talked about 1918, all I could think about was the Great Influenza Pandemic that started that same year.

Friday, October 22, 2004

New Bear? Awhile back, Mark Byron invited folks to update the Reagan "Bear-in-the-Woods" ad. I seem to recall I did it with a snake (but can't find the link). Now it appears that the Bush campaign has done it's own version. With wolves.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Yankees Win ACLS. The Red Sox pulled off one of the most amazing series comebacks ever last night -- my whole family was rooting for them (exception, my Dad). Nevertheless, using the logic of those still walking around maintaining that Al Gore was the winner of the last election ("he won the popular vote"), the Yankees were the true winners. See for yourself:

Score for each game:

Game 1 -- Yankees 10 - Red Sox 07
Game 2 -- Yankees 03 - Red Sox 01
Game 3 -- Yankees 19 - Red Sox 08
Game 4 -- Yankees 04 - Red Sox 06
Game 5 -- Yankees 04 - Red Sox 05
Game 6 -- Yankees 02 - Red Sox 04
Game 7 -- Yankees 03 - Red Sox 10

Totals: -- Yankees: 45 - Red Sox 41

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Ironies. George Neumayr of the American Spectator has an interesting essay today, which begins:

The presidential race is full of religious ironies, pitting a Protestant
who quotes the Pope against a Catholic who rejects the Pope. The Protestant --
campaigning on opposition to abortion and homosexual marriage -- will likely get
the Catholic vote. The Catholic -- campaigning on embryo-destruction,
partial-birth abortion, and the alternative lifestyles of pagan antiquity --
will get the mainline Protestant vote.

In one more irony and historical marker of clerical decadence, the Catholic candidate will receive a higher percentage of support from the Catholic episcopate than the Catholic laity -- the very episcopate Kerry has made a point of saying that he will ignore on matters of morality.

The remainder of the essay is dedicated to showing the divide between the RC episcopacy and the laity and should be read and considered. Nevertheless, this is an interesting and succint distillation of the ironies present in the current contest for the White House.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Windsor Report. The Windsor Report is scheduled to be released tomorrow and may be found here. Intelligent commentary on this report may be found at TitusOneNine, Andrew Carey, CANN, Chris Johnson, and the AAC blog. Comments by the revisionists may be found here, here, and here.

No matter what the report actually says, there will be no winners or losers; we are all losers, all sinners. The report should be measured, not merely short term, but long term, by the fruit it produces. This is a time of brokeness; we in the Episcopal Church have been incredibly arrogant and are greatly in need of repentance.
Preference v. Orientation. In response to the question in the debate regarding whether homosexuality is a choice or is biologically pre-determined, President Bush admitted he didn't know whereas Senator Kerry said "I think if you talk to anybody, [homosexuality is] not choice." In the ensuing controversy regarding the Democrats efforts to drag the sexuality of one of the candidate's children into the spotlight, Liz Edwards made the following statement: ''It indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferences. . ." (emphasis added)

Note that last statement -- this is a term of art in the "sexuality wars." It indicates that Liz Edwards disagees with Kerry -- she sees homosexuality as a "choice" a "preference" whereas he sees it as an "orientation" -- something predetermined.

In truth, as I noted below, there isn't a clear answer, therefore Bush's answer seems to be the most honest. Some research seems to indicate a "gay gene" whereas other research with respect to identical twins indicates no biological predispostion.

I do think it interesting that there has been no attention to the disparity between Kerry and Liz -- I wonder where John Edwards come out?

Also, I think Kerry's much ballyhooed commitment to valueless science is undermined by his prejudice on this issue. Does this mean that research on whether homosexuality is a choice or preference will continue to be suppressed?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Thomas articles. As I noted below, the WaPo ran a series of articles on Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States: The main article was titled "Clarence Thomas: The Style of a Justice; Enigmatic on the Bench, Influential in the Halls -- Image as an Uncompromising Jurist Belies His Engaging Demeanor as a Mentor." These are the additional articles from the paper: "Thomas's Across-the-Aisle Aid Puzzles Even the Beneficiaries; Clinton Judicial Nominee Surprised by Support;" "Yale Law Lacks Portrait -- And Thomas's Goodwill; Jurist Won't Permit Picture in Protest, Some Say;" and "Thomas v. Blackmun: Late Jurist's Papers Puncture Colleague's Portrait of a Genteel Court." They also posted a photo gallery via this link.

The Monday article was titled "Clarence Thomas: The Record of a Justice; Jurist Embraces Image as a Hard-Line Holdout." The following additional articles also appeared: "Culling the Reputable, Reliable, Right-Leaning; For 'Family' of Clerks, Thomas Weighs Politics, Loyalty and, Sometimes, Hard-Luck History;" "In Sharp Divide on Judicial Partisanship, Thomas Is Exhibit A;" and "Jurist Mum Come Oral Arguments; Reticence on Bench Perplexes Observers" with three related graphics : "Patterns of Jurisprudence;" "A Justice's Private File;" and "Clarence Thomas Weighs In." (More about the graphics later).

Plus there was this article in the CSM.
Debate 2004.3 I saw this as a clear Bush win. Who was it on Kerry's team who pushed for more debates than one? -- this person should be looking for a job. Dubya clearly got better with each debate, while Kerry slowly unwinds (or maybe becomes extremely tiring, I can't be sure). (transcript) Some notes:
  • Bob Schieffer comes in a close second to Jim Lehrer as the worst debate anchor.
  • I thought the Pres handled the flu vaccine question well -- I think he should've made a more obvious link to the problems with importation of pharmaceuticals regarding one of Kerry's contentions, but not a big deal. Kerry, however, failed to answer the question; but it did lead to the best line of the night...
  • ...which was " a plan is not a litany of complaints, and a plan is not to lay out programs that you can't pay for."
  • On the other hand, Bush ducked the jobs question and turned it into an education standards question.
  • Which lead Kerry to one of his many errors, claiming Pell grants were cut. As even the pro-Kerry AP noted, Kerry "later altered the accusation when the president pointed out accurately that about 1 million more students are getting the aid than when he took office. Kerry then said Bush has not raised the maximum Pell grant as much as promised."
  • On the nature v. nurture v. "choice" issue of homosexuality, Bush acknowledged he didn't know, whereas Kerry came down firmly on the "nature" side -- it's the way "God had made them." More on this later, I'm sure.
  • But first, what's with the repeated emphasis on Cheney's gay daughter -- is this something their polling tells them will keep people from voting for Bush? And the way Kerry paused and uttered "lesbian" -- I thought that was pretty contemptuous (and weird -- I don't doubt that he's the more gay-friendly candidate)
  • This was an important statement from the President: "I do know that we have a choice to make in America and that is to treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity. It's important that we do that."
  • Kerry once again equates abortion with a sacrament -- that's a longer subject.
  • Kerry correctly pointed out that Bush did not answer the question as to whether he would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned; Kerry is firmly behind it and will only appoint judges who agree with it. This, however, led to something akin to Kerry's "global test" revelation in the first debate, which is the claim that...
  • Full quote: "I'm not going to appoint a judge to the Court who's going to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, or some other right that's given under our courts today — under the Constitution. And I believe that the right of choice is a constitutional right."
  • The above is a true revelation and is worthy of much more ink (or pixels)
  • Kerry got off the third best line of the debate: "You don't measure it by a percentage increase. Mr. President, you measure it by whether you're getting the job done." This probably would be the second best line, if he had defined "it." (But little words like "it" and "is" are problems for Democratic lawyers).
  • So the second best line goes to Bush: "The best way to take the pressure off our troops is to succeed in Iraq."
  • Speaking of best lines, if you could distill this, it would be in the running: "In 1990, there was a vast coalition put together to run Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. The international community, the international world said this is the right thing to do, but when it came time to authorize the use of force on the Senate floor, my opponent voted against the use of force. Apparently you can't pass any test under his vision of the world."
  • When Kerry said: "I served on the Small Business Committee for a long time..." I couldn't help but think "Yeah, but did you attend any meetings? Did you actually do anything?" I bet many others, not all Bush partisans, had that reaction.
  • Nevertheless, I think Bush missed a big opportunity by failing to note the disparity of education between poor urban minority children and other non-minority children and that Kerry and his Klan stand in the way of vouchers and related assistance for minority children.
  • I loved Bush's answer to the "strong women" question. Heck, I even like Kerry's answer -- it was the first time I actually saw any humanity in the guy with respect to his opening notes about having " married up." Nevertheless, when he got to the warning his mother gave him from her hospital bed, I had to wonder if he should be admitting on national television that his mother was warning him that he needed to have integrity.

In any event, it was the last debate for us this election year, and the last debate for Dubya forever.

The NFL really sucks. Yeah, I know, not an intelligent comment, but it does.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Kerry's Abortion (con't'd). Here's a good essay in Human Events. Excerpt:

Grant Kerry, too, his false premise (presumably based on the atrocious
Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade) that abortion really is a "constitutional
right." Would Kerry consistently apply the same logic to taxpayer funding of
other constitutional rights--including those, which unlike the "right" to
abortion, are expressly guaranteed in the Bill of Rights?

Fat chance.

The Second Amendment guarantees "the right of the people to keep and bear
arms." Thus strict application of the Kerry Doctrine--taxpayers must subsidize
poor people in doing "whatever the constitution affords them if they can't
afford it otherwise"--would mean the government must buy poor people guns.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Kerry's Abortion. In response to this question from Sarah Degenhart in the second debate, Senator Kerry came out in favor of taxpayer support of abortions:

Senator Kerry, suppose you are speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?
Kerry first gives his twisted response about abortion being a sacrament:

But I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for
someone who doesn't share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can't do that.

He then posts abortion as a "constitution right" (I think it must be Amendment nine and three-quarters, the ones muggles like me can't see, but some Justices, Senators, and professors can see). From there he gives his unqualified support to forcing those "who believed abortion is murder" to support murder:
And that means . . . making certain that you don't deny a poor person
the right to be able to have whatever the constitution affords them if they
can't afford it otherwise.

This is very frightening. Even if you favor abortion, do you really think we should create a vast entitlement program to fund this?

BTW, it appears that Degenhart is a teacher at a Catholic school. I imagine she, like many Catholics and others who have grave moral concerns about America's extreme abortion practice and is looking for Kerry to show a little moderation on this issue. Being a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Abortion, he want's to throw tax monies at them.
Post-Modern? The WaPo runs a 'fake but accurate' headline, as noted by Rod M. in the comments to this post below.

The WaPo has two part article on Clarence Thomas running today and tomorrow. I haven't read them yet -- I can't imagine they would be at all favorable. I can't think of a single person, even including GWB, who has been so demonized by the MSM. Nevertheless, I find his opinions to be very thoughtful and thought-provoking.
Rather Back in Afghanistan? The Professor (Instapundit) had a picture posted the other day of people voting in Afghanistan -- looking at it, I could swear the guy on the left end looked like Dan Rather. What do you think?

It wouldn't surprise me -- he's been there before -- I wonder how he got voter registration papers? Oh, right.
Another Babe for Bush:

Friday, October 08, 2004

New Book. I should have a new book coming out: How to Lose Weight like a Porn Star by Leonardo DaVinci as told to Michael Moore (who refused to listen).

Speaking of books, I loved Danny Dunn, mentioned by the Professor today.

Last, in the weighty book category, read this review of the Nobel's Lit Prize by Charlotte Allen

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Knight for a Rook? The release of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) report looks to the WaPo to be substantially undermining Bush: "U.S. 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons" subhead: "Report on Iraq Contradicts Bush Administration Claims." Also reported on the front page, albeit minimized is Hussein Used Oil to Dilute Sanctions, subhead: Report Says He Gave Valuable Vouchers to Those Who Helped Iraq.

Does this hurt Bush? Yes, without question.

However, the better question is Whether this hurts Kerry more than it does Bush? The answer to that is also yes.

Both Bush and Kerry have admitted to relying on intelligence related to the weapons in question in authorizing war. Was this intel wrong? Possibly -- we do know that he had had those weapons and had used them against his own people. There was not a full scale review after the first Gulf War -- if you want to blame anyone, you can blame Bush41, Powell, and Cheney.

Nevertheless, don't forget that what the UN resolutions did was to put the burden on Hussein to account for his WMD, and the equipment used to make them, and to destroy them in a verifiable manner. Hussein refused to do so.

What separates Kerry from Bush is the issue of appeasing Old Europe. Bush tried diplomacy and tried to build a coalition involving France and Germany. We now know for certain that this was impossible because France and Germany were part of the Battalion of the Bribed. Bribed by Hussein.

By continuing to embrace the Battalion of the Bribed, Kerry loses more than Bush does.

Bush is hurt -- in the chess game, he loses a knight; however, Kerry loses a rook.
Ex-Raiders in the news:
  • Todd Marinovich is serving 90 days in the pokey for possession of a controlled substance (meth), resisting arrest and the unauthorized possession of hypodermic needles. It is not known whether he will be serving time in the Warren Wells wing of the jail.
  • Former Oakland Raiders kicker Cole Ford is being sought in a drive-by shooting last month at the home of entertainers Siegfried & Roy, police said Wednesday. For the record, he missed -- sounds like Ford alright.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Following up on my note yesterday regarding John Edwards' claim: "Under the law of this country for the last 200 years, no state has been required to recognize another state's marriage." John Edwards is so wrong on this it would be laughable, if not so serious.

Let's lay aside all the "little" cases such as Franzen v E. I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., 146 F.2d 837 (3d Cir. 1944) (a non-commonlaw marriage state recognizing a common-law marriage), In re May's Estate, 114 N.E.2d 4 (N.Y.1953) (validating uncle-niece marriage), and McDonald v. McDonald, 58 P.2d 163 (Cal. 1936) (recognizing an "underage" marriage performed outside the state), and go straight to the biggie. In Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court dealt with a Virginia couple who were married in D.C., in violation of a Virginia state statute forbidding inter-racial marriages, and then returned to Virginia. The Lovings were convicted of violating Virginia's antimiscegenation statutes and received a suspended sentence (see the case for details -- in esscence they were exiled from Virginia for 25 years).

One of the provisions of the antimiscegenation statutes was section 20-57, which automatically voided all marriages between "a white person and a colored person" without any judicial proceeding.

The unanimous court overturned the conviction holding that these antimiscegenation statutes violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In short, the Commonwealth of Virginia, which had by law declared the Lovings marriage void was forced to recognize their marriage. (Quite properly, I might add -- the Commonwealth was wrong, wrong, wrong.)

I believe John Edwards, who "earned a law degree with honors in 1977 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill" knows better.

Must Reading. For me, a daily stop at GetReligion is required -- I strongly recommend it. Especially noteworthy is this piece by Douglas LeBlanc on the torn friendship of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria and ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold.

More here. (from Titusonenine, which is also must reading.)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Unfinished business. I forgot -- Truro's rector is a candidate for the bishopric of the Rio Grande Diocese in Texas/NM.
Most Overrated. Andrew Sullivan continues to be the most overrated blogger around.
Cheney crushes Eddie. In marked contrast to the first Bush-Kerry debate, I thought VP Dick Cheney crushed John Edwards. I listened to the debate on the radio, for the most part, while driving back from Lowe's. Here are a few random thoughts and comments:

  • While Lehrer was the clear loser of the first debate, Gwen Ifell was excellent as moderator in this one -- yes, there were a couple of lapses, such as giving Edwards and extra 15 seconds one time -- nevertheless, her questions were equally good at putting each man on the spot and her follow-up questions ("... but I don't want to let go of the global test question ...") were superb.
  • I tuned in after the debate had started -- about 10 - 15 minutes into it, when Eddie was mentioning jfk's Vietnam service.
  • Eddie brings up his bogus figures: "...we've taken 90 percent of the coalition casualties...We're at $200 billion and counting..." and Cheney destroys him, noting first that Eddie neglects the Iraqi casualties and can't add (perhaps he should've spent more time with Dad in front of the TV): "With respect to the cost, it wasn't $200 billion. You probably weren't there to vote for that. But $120 billion is, in fact, what has been allocated to Iraq. The rest of it's for Afghanistan and the global war on terror."
  • Eddie refuses to take the hint, which leads to the best exchange:
EDWARDS: . . . Not only that, 90 percent of the coalition casualties, Mr.
Vice President, the coalition casualties, are American casualties. Ninety
percent of the cost of this effort are being borne by American taxpayers. It
is the direct result of the failures of this administration.

IFILL: Mr. Vice President?

CHENEY: Classic example. He won't count the sacrifice and the contribution of
Iraqi allies. It's their country. They're in the fight. They're increasingly the
ones out there putting their necks on the line to take back their country from
the terrorists and the old regime elements that are still left. They're doing a
superb job. And for you to demean their sacrifices strikes me as...

EDWARDS: Oh, I'm not...

CHENEY: ... as beyond...

EDWARDS: I'm not demeaning...

CHENEY: It is indeed. You suggested...

EDWARDS: No, sir, I did not...

CHENEY: ... somehow they shouldn't count, because you want to be able to say
that the Americans are taking 90 percent of the sacrifice. You cannot succeed in
this effort if you're not willing to recognize the enormous contribution the
Iraqis are increasingly making to their own future.

    • Another great line from Cheney: "Now if they couldn't stand up to the pressures that Howard Dean represented, how can we expect them to stand up to al Qaeda?" To which Eddie puts his fingers in his ears and repeats "Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton."
    • Okay, I was unloading the van from the time they started talking about Iraq until I get in front of the TV to hear Eddie saying : "...vice president and his wife love their daughter." Hmmm -- must be a gay marriage question...I'm not sure what Cheney's response was, but Eddie sure seems to be fumbling... especially when Ifill follows up. Cheney's response (thanks and "That's it") seems classy...
    • Edwards says: "For example, a gay couple now has a very difficult time, one, visiting the other when they're in the hospital..." and I think, could that because of oh, TRIAL LAWYERS suing the pants off of doctors and hospitals...?
    • Edwards then says: "Under the law of this country for the last 200 years, no state has been required to recognize another state's marriage." This is not true and Eddie knows it (or should know it).
    • Next up, the trial lawyer question (one for which, let's face it, Eddie's spent his life preparing to answer). As an aside, I'm thinking whoever drew the word "plan" in the debate drinking game must be smashed by now.
    • Cheney hits Eddies tax avoidance: "While you were in private practice in law and as a senator, you had the advantage of a special tax loophole, Subchapter S corporation, which you set up so you could avoid paying $600,000 in Medicare taxes that would have gone into the fund. . . .
      EDWARDS: Well, first of all, I have paid all the taxes that I owe. " Nice lawyerly avoidance of the issue there, Eddie.
    • Ifill has an interesting fact: " women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts...." Neither are able to answer her question, however Cheney comes across as forthright: "I have not heard those numbers with respect to African- American women. I was not aware that it was -- that they're in epidemic there, because we have made progress in terms of the overall rate of AIDS infection..." whereas Eddie is disengenous, implying that Bush is failing to innoculate people against AIDS: "If kids and adults don't have access to preventative care, if they're not getting the health care that they need day after day after day, the possibility of not only developing AIDS and having a problem . . ." etc.

I'm looking forward to Friday...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Throwing Stones. President Bush was correct to denounce Sen. Kerry's attacks on our allies, the Iraqis who are fighting for freedom, and those in the administration who are taking a stand against terrorism. Yet, perhaps it is time that Mr. Bush put his own house in order. Consider this item from the WaTimes' Inside the Ring (fourth item down):
We've known for some time that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and certain Pentagon policy-makers don't see eye-to-eye on all war issues. Now, Mr. Armitage has raised the ire of the top commander in the Persian Gulf, Army Gen. John Abizaid.
During congressional testimony last week, Mr. Armitage described newly minted Iraqi police officers as "shake-and-bake."
Asked about this term Sunday by Tim Russert on "Meet the Press," Gen. Abizaid's blood pressure rose. "'Shake and bake' gives some sort of an idea that the Iraqi police and the Iraqi armed forces that are out there standing on the line fighting for their country right now are somehow or another unserious, unqualified and unprofessional people, and that's just not true," the general said. "They are serious enough to be fighting and dying for their own country, and we need to give them a little respect and help."

General Abizaid is right and I believe it is necessary for the Secretary of State, if not the President, to take corrective action.

The return of Crazy Eddie. John Edwards says that Bush voters are crazy? Is he insane?

Friday, October 01, 2004

Despair. The A's season is over. Already down 4-0, Amezaga hits a grand slam in the top of the 6th to make it 8-0. Theoretically, the A's could win on Saturday and Sunday and win the division, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Interesting tie. The ChiTrib has this item:

Among Kerry's rivals were campus conservatives George E. Pataki, now New
York's governor, and J. Harvie Wilkinson III, now chief judge of the U.S. 4th
Circuit Court of Appeals in Charlottesville, Va. Kerry became president in his
junior year by lobbying Wilkinson to support him in return for his backing the
next year.

"John got him in a corner somewhere and wore him down," recalled Lanny
J. Davis, who reported on the union's activities for the Yale Daily News and
later was an aide to President Clinton. "He was a powerfully persuasive

I wonder what happens if Wilkinson is nominated for a position on the Supreme Court?

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Debates. I thought jfk did much better than I expected -- Bush worse. The big loser, in my opinion, was Jim Leher. His questions alternated between "Let's talk about your mistakes, Mr. President." and "Senator, would you like to talk about the President's mistakes."

Glad to see Sudan get some notice - not happy about either response.

The Dylan Chronicles. In honor of Bob's soon to be released autobiography (and the Newsweek cover story), here are my top ten Bob Dylan Bootlegs, a few of which have been released.

10. All Hallows Eve &
which has been released by Dylan as Live 1964.

9. Contract With The Lord
and II. This one
might be more highly rated if it had been a soundboard boot, instead of an
audience recording. Nevertheless, for an audience recording, the sound is good
and the performance of his gospel tunes is excellent.

8. Eating Caviar In A
King-Sized Bed
-- this 1998 recording shows Bob ain't dead yet.

7. Genuine
N.E.T. Covers
- a nine or ten disc set of all of Dylan's covers of other
(non-Dylan) songs from the Never Ending Tour.

6. A Tree
With Roots
- also known as the Genuine Basement Tapes revisited. This is it,
the whole shebang.

5. From Newport to the
Ancient Empty Streets in LA
Several tracks from the Newport Festival in 64
and 65 flowing into the 1965 Hollywood Bowl show -- excellent. (see also, We Had Known A Lion.)

4. Folksinger's Choice
The Cynthia Gooding Show, March 11 1962 -- this sweet radio
interview/performance showcases Bob before he became Bob.

3. Blood on the Tapes (aka Blood on the Tracks New York
) - this is the original version of Blood on the Tracks that was
pulled just before release.

2. Complete Waterbury 11-11-75 -- the full version of a Rolling Thunder Revue
concert, from T-Bone Burnett covering Werewolves of London to the closing
ensemble singing This Land Is Your Land with Baez, McGuinn, et al in

1. "Royal Albert Hall
" which, famously, came from Free Trade Hall in Manchester. This May 17,
1966 concert sizzles, opening with a traditional Dylan accoustic set before
unleashing an electric performance with the Band. When listening to this, turn
it up to hear the exhange between Dylan and the audience. "Judas!" cries out
someone in the audience, to which Dylan replies: "I don't believe you; you're a
liar." He then tells The Band to "Play it f***ing loud." The good news about
this boot is that it has been released by Dylan and Co. See Live 1966

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Klaatu Barada Nikto. Driving in to work this morning, before 6 a.m as usual, I saw a huge silver craft, all lit up hovering over DC (perhaps the Foggy Bottom area). I quickly saw it was a blimp, but it was kind of unnerving, it had no markings (MetLife, Goodyear, etc.).
Good News/Bad News. Béisbol may be coming back to DC.

On the other hand, my beloved A's have lost 14 of their last 22 games and are now tied for first with the Angels.

More. I agree with this -- let's call the new DC team the Grays.

Friday, September 24, 2004

At 60, he swam to Alcatraz handcuffed. While towing a half-ton boat.

Jack LaLane turns 90 this weekend -- his is a wonderful story. Growing up in the Oakland area, we used to hear about his exploits and swap Jack-jokes.

I'm looking forward to his 100th birthday.

BTW, my mother, who is considerably younger (although my baby sister just turned 39), plays 18 holes of golf twice a week, walking, not riding, and carries her clubs.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Upset? I like Winsome Sears (R) in an upset over incumbent Bobby Scott (D) in Virginia's third district. This is not likely to happen, I admit -- think USA v. Russia in Olympic Hockey, circa 1980. Yet, I believe in miracles. And Sears has done something similar before. Scott has been around forever -- I remember talking about him with a friend in college over 20 years ago.

Yet, she could do it...

Reports on the Scott-Sears debate here

On the other hand, I have no idea who will win the contest in Virginia's 2nd after Ed Shrock's surprise resignation.
L'église, c'est moi. The continuing adventures of former Bp. Spong: Roland Williams is an "empty man," with "no courage, no backbone and no ability to lead." In short, a "miserable failure."

Of course, Spong is the measure of all things and we all fall short.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Time for Prof. Volokh to put his money where his mouth is... (and this is an easy one). According to the AP, the Republicans are disseminating a mailing arguing that Liberals want to ban the Bible. (via CT Weblog)

Yesterday, Eugene wrote "when Republicans say outrageous things, it seems to me that we Republicans ought to condemn them, to try to redeem the movement's good name. "

I expect he will.
Sunset Beach

Here's a picture of Sunset Beach, O'ahu in the late afternoon, August 29, 2004. As you can see, it's flat, nearly glassy. No surf means no surfers, so it was not crowded; also, somewhat cloudy -- nevertheless, a glorious afternoon.
Swaggert's Six Commandments. UCLA Law Prof. Eugene Volokh rightly notes Jimmy Swaggert is beyond the bounds of humanity with his announcement that he would kill any gay man who looked at Swaggert with lust and then lie to God about it. Swaggert is best known for flouting the commandment against adultery and now looks to, in order, read out of existence the commandments against murder, lying, and honoring God. [Update: Volokh has more here.]

However, Volokh then argues that all Christians have a responsibility to declaim the words of Swaggert, which have given rise to a concern about "guilt by association." Prof. Volokh, being a true gentleman and scholar (and I do not use these words lightly, Eugene has always been scrupulously fair), posts a lengthy articulate e-mail and responds.

I believe the division between Volokh and his correspondents is really more over the nature of being a Christian.* For Volokh, anyone who proclaims themself to be a "Christian" should be taken at face value. Yet, there are many out there who call themselves "Christian," who believe and support the most abhorrent practices known to humanity. Currently, John Kerry is a self-professed Catholic, yet believes that there should be no prohibition on the murder of infants in the womb or those infants who have a part of their body still clinging to their mother. Recently, speaking of the Catholic Church, there has been a crisis with respect to ministers who have been engaged in horrendous acts of child molestation. Reading a book a couple of months ago, I learned that a "Christian" minister was an active participant in the acts of genocide in Rwanda ten years ago. [see related]

Within my own denomination, the Episcopal Church, we have had bishops and ministers who have denied the resurrection and/or Divinity of Jesus. We have a crisis because of the elevation to bishop status a man who is living in an active sexual relationship outside the bounds of matrimony. Further aggravating the crisis is the unilateral decision of a number of ministers to authorize the blessing of same-sex relationships, despite clear denominational teachings and prohibitions against this practice.

So my question, I guess, is what are Christians to do? Should we set up an index? An office to engage in, oh, inquisitorial practices?

Making things even more difficult for the establishment of an index is the fact that Christianity is not really a unitary system: it is a religion manifest in a multitude of denominations. I have little reluctance to critique those within my own denomination (and be critiqued by them). I will do the same to those with whom I have a relationship (even if a cyber-relationship). I will critique those within Christian churches which are related to mine and with which I feel a close kinship. For those farther removed, such as a Jerry Falwell, I am more reticent.

Personally, I have long regarded Swaggert as beyond the bounds of Christianity (although, not beyond the bounds of Christ -- Swaggert may still be reached by Jesus). I see him as being like that former Gore supporter and self-proclaimed minister who is involved with that "godhatesfags" movement.

While not set up as judges (Mt. 7:1), we were left a clear text for determining sheep and wolves:

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who
says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' "

Mt. 7:15-23 (NIV)

I believe Jimmy Swaggert is a false prophet -- look at the fruit of his belief system and his practice: he has completely eliminated four of the eternal ten commandments. This is bad fruit.

Now, on the contrary, if you want to see what real Christianity is, read this essay just posted on the Christianity Today website about a student who encountered Christ in a dying homosexual activist and his cats.

One last thing, Prof. Volokh observes: "Christianity is a belief system -- not just an involuntary status such as race or ethnicity, but a consciously chosen belief system that is based on certain writings and certain traditions." I have Calvinist friends who would strongly deny this -- they would argue that they did not choose Christ, He chose them. For them, it is every bit as deep an involuntary status as race or ethnicity.

*If I remember correctly, the words used in the New Testament to refer to "Christians" literally means a slave of Christ and was used by those outside the faith, not the adherents themselves.
ACLU requests restraint on press is the title of an article in today's Omaha World-Herald. The first sentence of the story sums it up:
In a stark turnabout from its free-speech advocacy, the ACLU urged a judge
Monday to prevent the Omaha World-Herald from publishing the name of the
Plattsmouth, Neb., man who sued the city over a Ten Commandments monument.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Rather Forgeries are, of course, not forgeries.

I have it on good authority that CBS is in possession of the original Killian memos and that, if you examine them properly under UV light, you will find, on the back, the map to the legendary lost treasure of the Templar Knights.

There is no truth to the rumor, however, that the Rather Forgeries were kept in a pumpkin on a farm in Maryland.

Update: Dan Rather responds: "Ah, but the strawberries! That's, that's where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with, with geometric logic, that, that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox did exist. . ."

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Back in a couple of weeks.

Here's my beloved on the beach at Lanikai last Friday:

Thursday, June 24, 2004

See you in September. Work has been even more demanding lately -- I'm working a lot of extra hours. Add to the mix that we're doing construction on our house (word this morning is that we're going to have to wait 1-2 weeks for the severed phone line to be replaced) and I doubt I'll be stopping by much.

After Labor day things look better.

Friday, June 11, 2004

After the Sunset. The whole family went down for the visitation on Wednesday night and met up with three in from Louisiana who were downtown for the procession. I regret missing the procession -- my wife's cousin and his friends were very impressed. They said they could see the details on the jets as they flew by.

We got in line a little before 9 pm -- it was hot, but the sun was setting. We wound our way through a snaking line and after about three hours we were told we were about two hours away. In the old Soviet Union, this is what people did to get toilet paper. How the world has changed -- because of this man.

Joe fell asleep in the stroller, but Em seemed to rev up -- did someone give her some coffee? Sarah was wonderful -- always cheerful and upbeat (except for one moment when she discovered she'd lost one of her magic beans -- we had the whole line [okay, not the whole line, but several hundred people looking for it -- no luck). After awhile -- around midnight -- staffers appeared and started handing out copies of a congressional resolution on President Reagan -- very nice, but I was more impressed that they were there so late at night.

About a half hour later, Joy discovered they were handing out coffee -- she was in heaven.

We talked about his final address to us -- the letter announcing he had Alzheimer's and how, even then, he was both gracious and full of hope:
In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.

I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

A little later, we saw Mark, a friend from church and a staffer for Sen. Rick Santorum -- it was nice to see a friendly face, but (repeating myself), I was very impressed that he was there so late at night to help people out.

Many were there handing out water. Those in line were chatting, reading, talking on cell phones; my wife called a good friend in Seattle at midnight. The heat never broke -- before we had to shut off the phones we called weather -- the temperature was 81 (after midnight), high humidity, no breeze.

Finally, we made it through security -- two different checkpoints. Everyone was very friendly (except for the people in the main screening tent -- not sure what was wrong there).

We still had a longer wait on the West porch of the Capitol Building -- beautiful views. I remember a pre-9/11 world when I actually used to run a lap around here in the mornings before work -- very early, I used to observe Newt's Mustang convertible parked on the East side. It was the first time my three youngest had been up there.

The line would move swiftly, but come to a complete standstill every now and then. One of the officers explained that at the changing of the guard every half-hour the viewing was halted. He said it took about 7 minutes.

Soon we were nearing the entrance and I pointed out that this was where the President stood when he was first sworn in -- the first president to face America, instead of facing Europe.

Time to wake Joe up -- he did not want to wake up. Joy pushed the stroller while I tried to get Joe to stand up (and wake up). Emmie went with her Mom; Sarah went with Sarah (from La.). Jared and Tyler (from La.) carried the stroller up the stairs to the Rotunda and we all climbed the stairs...

Then we were there, in the chambers. There was the flag draped over the box that held the shell of the Man. I would like to tell you of how I wept and prayed and cherished my memories of Reagan and observed the majesty of the event and all that happened, but I was a parent wanting to ensure my son understood these things. How well I succeeded? Time will tell.

We lingered as long as possible -- in the back -- and left too soon.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

* * *

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Photo source: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Arlo K. Abrahamson.
Text from Walt Whitman's O Captain! My Captain!
Some Dunce! The following passage is from William Greider's Secrets of the Temple (a book about the Federal Reserve). You may recall (Reagan critic) Greider ran an embarassing "expose" of David Stockman, President Ronald W. Reagan's director of OMB, in the Atlantic magazine. Please pay attention to the final paragraph in particular.
Ronald Reagan, ironically, had a surer grasp of the subject [monetary policy] than any of his senior political advisers -- ironic because, in most realms of government policy, Reagan was a passive executive, with a weak grasp of details. He often left both the particulars and the strategic choices to his circle of advisers. They worked out a consensus among themselves, then brought the decision to him for ratification. When it came to money, however, Reagan knew what he wanted and expressed it forcefully.
"Most of the major players in the White House -- Baker, Meese, Mike Deaver -- don't know much about monetary policy," one of their colleagues explained. "The President probably has the most developed understanding of any of them."
David Stockman elaborated the point:
The President has two metaphors he uses when he talks about monetary policy. One is "zooming the money supply," which meant money was too easy. "Pulling the string" meant it was too tight. The President doesn't have a lot of things right in his head. He is kind of selective about what facts he takes in, but one thing he really believes in deeply is anti-inflation. He used the same cliche over and over: "Inflation is like radioactivity. Once it starts, it spread and grows."
Ronald Reagan was a monetarist himself. That label had never been publically applied to him in all his years as a candidate (perhaps because most political reporters were oblivious to the distinction), but Reagan's campaign bromides clearly reflected his monetarist perspective. Inflation originated with the "printing press" money at the Federal Reserve, he said, and in order to brake inflation, the government must halt its excessive production of money.
This was the one thing that the President knows in detail [Stockman said]. He could take a piece of paper and draw a line tracing the money-supply growth all the way back to the sixties. He had one thing that he knew and he always made the same point about the Federal Reserve. The money supply "zoomed" in every election year -- flooding the economy with money," he said -- and then, after the election, the Fed "pulled the string" and the economy went into recession.

--Greider Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country (1987) at 329.

[BTW, the title of this post refers to Clark Clifford calling President Reagan an "amiable dunce." I am recalling Winston Churchill's address to the Canadian Parliament (December 30, 1941) where he noted some in France who said if England fought on, she would have "her neck wrung like a chicken" in three weeks. Churchill observed "Some chicken! Some neck!" Hear Churchill here in real audio.]

More Here is more on the Clifford quote from this site:
Only once in his long career did he step out of character, and that was when he referred to President Ronald Reagan as an "amiable dunce." The remark was made at a private dinner party but, unknown to Clifford, a tape recording had been made so that the hostess, who was ill with the flu and unable to come to her own party, could hear what was expected to be some sparkling conversation. Excerpts from that tape were published out of context.

Clifford explained his remark this way: "In the fall of 1982, President Reagan said he would cut taxes by $750 billion, substantially increase defense expenditures and balance the budget in the 1984 fiscal year. Those were public promises. I made a comment that if he would accomplish that feat, he'd be a national hero. If, on the other hand, it did not work out after such a specific and encouraging promise and commitment, I thought the American people would regard him as an amiable dunce."

Given the opportunity some time later to retract his remark, however, Clifford declined to do so.