the talking dog
OCTOBER 2002 ARCHIVES
TD Extra, 10-31-02 -
Real Life Scary News.
Meanwhile, a "snag" over at the United Nations, as seen here and here, as our NATO "ally", France, our good "friend", Russia, and Communist China, all gang up on us (that's three- count 'em, three countries EACH with a security council veto) to tell us they want a "two-stage" resolution-- i.e., let Saddam cheat with respect to weapons inspections FIRST, and THEN come back for a use of force resolution (which, doubtless, these three countries, and whoever else is on the Security Council these days including such giants as Mauritius, Cameroon, Guinea, Singapore and Syria -- will doubtless find problems with at the time.
Who are we kidding: the timing was entirely in the hands of the President. No one was stopping him from going to the United Nations in September -- OF 2001-- and demanding that Saddam Hussein hand over the head of Osama Bin Laden, disarm immediately, and sing the Yellow Rose of Texas a capella, "OR ELSE"...and no one -- NO ONE -- would have doubted the resolve of the United States at that time. (Similarly, no one MADE him go to the UN in the first place; that move was made for political cover -- his people insisted it was an entirely unnecessary move). The current timing makes the United States look, shall we say, less serious, and hence, players who, like Russia or France, should be considered "our friends", or China, who would ordinarily get out of our way, see an opening to screw around with the hyperpower -- an opening handed to them by boy genius Karl Rove in his micro-managing of the timing of World War III (er, Gulf War II). Worse, if the President is RIGHT about Saddam actually being a threat to us, he has now done what he accused those Congressmen who wanted a UN resolution first of doing: he has placed the security of the United States in the hands of bureaucrats from Paris and Beijing. (Fortunately, I'm pretty certain he's fecklessly lying about Saddam.) Hey, how about our Saudi buddies backing a coup in Qatar the only country in the area that will let us build a base, 'cause the Saudis won't!!!
October 31, 2002, New York, New York. Happy Halloween.
On this "kids' holiday", in the "at least he's not gay" department, we give you a 19-year-old Eagle Scout named Darrell Lambert who has been given one week to profess his belief in a higher being, or be banned from scouting (despite umpteen merit badges and over 1,000 hours of community service). I await The Raving Atheist's take on this, of course. As a lefty-sorta libertarian, I will just say that the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization, and can make whatever stupid, bigoted, ill-conceived and wrongheaded policies it wants, and if a lad wishes to be a part of such an organization, he must abide. I will ALSO say that the Boy Scouts has just declared itself a religion (in this case, "theism", though there is a good claim to "generic Christianity"). As such, the stringent church-state separation mechanisms regarding its use of government facilities, the participation of the President of the United States as ex-officio head and signer of Eagle Scout certificates and any other government imprimaturs must now come into play -- MUST now come into play Ė in a way that was only hinted about when certain states started down this road because of the scouts ban on gay scoutmasters (and scouts). Certain practices (the Presidential role, for example) MUST END, lest this be establishment of religion. Other governmental ties must be closely examined. If scouting is sufficiently worthwhile an endeavor that people continue to want to do it (and I note that it likely will, as here in the big city, many scout troops are closely aligned with church groups), then the movement will go on. But it had better do so without government assistance or imprimatur.
"Winona's innnnnn troub - le" "Winona's innnnnnn troub - le" (picture a third grader shouting that, anyway...) Tough stuff at Winona Ryder's shoplifting trial, as a Saks store employee testified that she saw Winona cutting off tags in the Saks store of designer clothes, and then, when asked why, said she was researching for a part, but then kept changing the movie titles of the film for which she was "researching"! Of course, is a jury which includes Jon Guber, head of a studio for whom the defendant made three movies, likely to convict? Get real: is ANY Los Angeles County jury EVER going to convict a celebrity for ANYTHING? Besides, its not as if Winona will be sentenced to share a cell with Sybil Downing, while Russ Meyer gets to film the action, now, is it? A decent prosecutor just makes the same bogus community service, fine and restitution deal that you make with ANY (non-recidivist) shop-lift defendant, and get on with it. BUT NOOOOOO!!!!! Winona's a CELEBRITY, I have to throw the book at her! Well good luck. She's walking. You heard it here first. (And if I'm wrong, I will say "Itís about time we finally stopped coddling these celebrity miscreants!")
Rap D. J. Jam Master Jay of Run DMC was gunned down and killed today. While the death of a 37-year-old man is hardly funny, an FM radio commentator pointed out that TV accounts showed a body bag being dragged down the stairs of the building, so that "the kids can see what rap is about". As I said, hardly funny.
For some spirited historical discussion on the Reagan Administration and whether it is truly entitled to credit for the fall of Soviet communism (of all things) from (our featured link) the always incite-ful blogger William Burton, including some pithy comments from yours truly, likely to piss off truly doctrinaire liberals everywhere, see here and here.
And so, all I can say, five days before a pretty important election, is to quote from the great Ted Barlow now on blogging hiatus (Come back Ted! All is forgiven!): "Gridlock is good government". Ted's right.
TD Hobby Horse Extra, 10-30-02. I spoke too soon. If you don't like the political landscape in Israel, wait five minutes. As the Jerusalem Post reports, Labor leader Ben Eliezer has resigned from the government, ending the "national unity" coalition. Sharon's Likud is the largest party, so he can cobble together a coalition of smaller (read: crazy right wing) parties, or call early elections. Time will tell how this effects the Palestinian and Iraq situations.
October 30, 2002, New York, New York. Another day, another excuse to add someone to the Dog Run (the best damned links section on the InternetTM). Welcome to Les Dabney of "Testify! It's Time to Kick Some Rightwing Ass!" A little long for a name, but a punchy blog, nonetheless!
In TD hobby horse news, Israel's Likud Party reached a budget compromise (over spending on settlements, in part) with the Labor Party to preserve Ariel Sharon's tenuous national unity government. At this point, we can only conclude that Sharon and Labor leader Ben Eliezer realize that they both need the other: Sharon needs Labor as a tempering influence and cover for his hard-ass crackdown of the Palestinians, and Ben Eliezer needs Sharon because the alternative is likely a Bibi Netenyahu government in which Labor will NOT have the Foreign Affairs and Defense portfolios. So, in a parliamentary system, Israel can have what amounts to divided government in the same government. Kind of like Dubya's reaching out to both parties in his appointments (Democrat Norm Mineta is the Secretary of Transportation; come to think of it, that's the only Democrat Dubya has appointed to...anything!). Well, all right, itís not like Israel's system at all -- but don't tell it to our "liberally biased" press, which still asserts Dubya is a "moderate".
Well, itís the day before Halloween, so how about some "scary" news. (LOL Ė itís ALL scary!) In this report, UN arms inspectors are set to brief the President on various topics. Simultaneously, that namby pamby Colin Powell has announced that some "compromise with France" may soon be in the offing, regarding a weapons inspection resolution at the UN, but Colin warns that "time may be running out". Whatever that means.
Frankly, the only two clocks I can think of are the mid-term election in six days, in which the President will mostly likely watch his party fail to retake the Senate and may watch it lose the House of Representatives (probably not, though), and the election in roughly two years and six days, for which Karl (and Karen via speaker phone) are strategizing over the "best" political timing to start World War III (Gulf War II), so as not to win it "too early in the election cycle" like Papa Bush did in Gulf War I. I continue to be reminded of The Onion's headline, "Bush on Economy: Invade Iraq Now", and I will quietly chide the President. "It's the economy, Stupid". Bush pere lost the election because Gulf War I set the country into a deep, deep recession (from a combination of higher oil prices, fear over travel reducing economic activity, and the financial cost of the war diverted from other aspects of government spending as well as run up deficits to pay for it all). Gulf War II will likely do the same thing.
I have predicted that there may not necessarily BE a Gulf War II; rather than attempting to learn from his father's mistakes, Dubya may instead choose to emulate Bill Clinton, and allow Kofi to make a last-minute face-saving deal with Saddam. So Karen, Karl, listen up: It's STILL the economy, stupid. Just a reminder.
October 29, 2002, New York, New York. Hey, look at this. A TRUE FISH STORY. An "accidental fisherman" (a bumper sticker on his tacklebox no doubt said "I'd rather be hunting") in Oregon hooked a chinook salmon weighing over 71 1/2 pounds, blowing away previous fly fishing records. Look at that -- a story with a happy ending (except for the fish).
Our busy, busy sniper suspects are implicated in more crimes, now some in Washington State, and the federal government is coming forward with ITS charges against this troublesome pair. Perhaps, as the feds will charge, this WAS a grand interstate extortion scheme (though this clearly seems improvised after the fact). Maybe they were failing out of nursing school like the maniac in Arizona who killed three faculty members (all women). One does wonder, however, given that the Arizona maniac, John Muhammed and Tim McVeigh were all Gulf War veterans, if down the road, we can expect similar delayed externalities from any future Persian Gulf campaign...
In a piece I can't seen to retrieve, James Lileks once ran a long diatribe that pointed out how American vehicles (particularly SUVs) are fueled by human blood (he was being sarcastic at the time, though I am wondering...). Aside from the extremely high direct cost (a sluggish economy for years and years and a couple of hundred dead service personnel) the original Gulf War engagement (which, let's face it, was, regardless of what one thinks about the coming wars, a war to preserve Saudi oil hegemony), when you start to add up how many dead Americans on American soil seem to have resulted DIRECTLY FROM PAPA BUSH'S GULF WAR, be it from such diverse perpetrators as Osama bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, John Muhammed or Robert Flores (flunking nursing, but sadly, not marksmanship -- although the point blank range was arguably cheating), I begin to wonder if the cost of cheap oil (actually, the cost of somewhat more expensive oil, as Iraq at full production would reduce Saudi/OPEC hegemony and likely lower oil prices) isn't just too damned much human (that's AMERICAN human) BLOOD.
TD Sniper Creepy Extra, 10-28-02. Is anyone else as creeped out by this as I am (link via Kausfiles)? At the behest of Fox cable reporter Rita Cosby, David Berkowitz is basically giving his "professional opinion" regarding another set of serial killers -- and ended up being right about some elements of the denouement (they were, for example, captured while asleep in their car). I don't know, this seems beyond distasteful (even if in part accurate). I think those responsible should eat some crow (along with some fava beans and nice Chianti...)
October 28, 2002, New York, New York. Well, since I have been harping on a birthday theme, on this day after the Angels of Anaheim capture their very first World Series crown in what was a great series (even if no one, including myself, actually watched it) happy birthday to Bowie Kuhn. Bowie is 76 now, and while your TD is usually generous in his assessment of his fellow human beings (LOL) Bowie is, well, just a bad man. His most notable move as baseball commissioner (the job our current President most covets!) was to ban Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle from the game for acting as LEGAL casino hosts, while in his later personal life, Bowie absconded to Florida so he could avoid his own creditors from his failed law practice (for which his law partner went to jail!) So, happy birthday to you, big guy.
In other news, while we could try to add to the tragedy in Russia (and, by the way, although I have stated that Russia should say what the damned gas was to save lives already, on net, what Putin and his forces did was heroic, and saved hundreds of lives), or comment on the Minnesota tragedy (it looks like Walter Mondale will run for the Wellstone seat), or the slain American diplomat in Jordan, I'd like to talk about President Lula de Silva of Brazil.
Brazil is just one of those places that captures the imagination (certainly mine). I wrote college papers on Brazil's economy; even then, over twenty years ago (my God!), I was prefacing my papers with "Brazil is the land of tomorrow. And always will be."
Lula has run for this job a lot. I recall him running for President when the then future Mrs. TD and I were visiting Brazil in the late 1980's; I believe a guy named Collor eventually won. Silva scares markets: he is an old-time lefty, former union man, who has said troubling things about his sorta contempt for unbridled capitalism. Well, the Brazilians have chosen him, by a landslide. This is the direction they want to go in, and we can either respect it (the AMERICAN way), or we can try to undermine it (the Nixon-Kissinger way).
We have an opportunity now, to embrace what looks to be one of the world's largest democracies (the largest in Latin America), and look for ways of advancing our mutual co-prosperity (I have it! The Greater Western Hemisphere Co-Prosperity Sphere! No, too...Japanese). Or we can shun the lefty. I kind of think the "Hemispheric Free Trade Zone" would be a great idea if we could pull it off -- and while at it, give the Europeans a run for it! And as I have said before, besides this hemisphere, we could toss in countries the EU has chosen to shun (like Turkey or Romania). Ultimately, as we contemplate the ongoing War on TerrorTM, spreading American-style prosperity to all corners of the globe may ultimately prove to be the best defense policy we could ever implement.
October 27, 2002, Brooklyn, NY. Reports out of Moscow show that over 100 of the hostages (and most or all of the 50 or so suicide bomber Chechen rebels; they have probably just cost their movement dearly in terms of goodwill in this country) were killed by the use of an unnamed gas, most likely a nerve gas developed in the good old Soviet era chemical and/or bio-weapons labs. Despite the inconceivable human cost, it seems hard at this moment to fault the Russians actions; there seems little doubt that the Chechens meant business, and were certainly prepared to blow up the building killing all 800 or so hostages. Still, I am reminded of a scene in the movie Speed where Keanu Reeves is talking to his partner, discussing his personal strategy of what to do when facing off against an armed hostage taker. Keanu's suggestion: shoot the hostage, to take him "out or the equation". Russia is, and has always been, a tough neighborhood. Putin has just shown the Chechens (and anyone else who might try it) that he isnít the least bit squeamish in getting people killed to advance his policy, in this case, the Chechen war. Alas, Russia has just been crossed off the list of likely TD places to visit, along with Afghanistan, Israel, Colombia, Zimbabwe, and some others! Still, now that itís done, it would be nice if Russian officials told area hospitals EXACTLY what the hell they used, so that more victims don't die needlessly in the cause of protecting Soviet era secrecy. Or does Mr. Putin prove that you can take a guy out of the KGB, but you can't take the KGB out of the guy?
Speaking of Israel, a suicide bomber kills 3, wounds over a dozen in the West Bank at Ariel. A review of the circumstances shows what the Israelis are up against. It is formidable, and I do not envy them. Still, restraint was shown until the last possible minute -- resulting in...dead Israelis. The Europeans, of course, will find some reason to condemn Israel anyway.
And in sniper news, the highly credible Louis Farrakhan states that our sniper suspects were NOT part of the organizing staff for the Million Man March. Meanwhile, Virginia joins Maryland and Alabama in the duel over who will get to try the perps first; Virginia is arguing that it has NO PROBLEM trying 17-year-olds as adults and executin' 'em, and therefore, should get the case first. This is one of the problems with the death penalty: it brings out a certain unbecoming bloodlust, which shouldn't be part of the process. The death penalty should be imposed in the same sober, clinical manner in which it is carried out in this country -- or not at all (which, given how arbitrarily we carry it out, is my position on the subject). It has not even been established if Malvo fired a single shot in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and yet, that state is already preparing his lethal injection. Again, ladies and gentlemen, this case must be made according to Hoyle. No excuses.
October 26, 2002, Brooklyn, New York. Allah be praised, in His infinite wisdom, he has seen fit to permit His subject (and YOUR talking dog) to see this day, a day two score in years after this birth.
And so, when the going gets tough, the talking dog goes...jogging. And so, in this installment of jogger blogger, this morning's commemorative jog took TD over the Brooklyn Bridge; I kind of wanted to circle City Hall and go home. Nope, I HAD to go see what was happening at Ground Zero. Itís pretty much clean now: an open, giant construction site, that looks very organized for an indeterminate plan; memorials are still up, there are WPA type "this is what it looked like in 1903, 1960, 1970, etc.) and the place is still thronged by ghouls from far off climes.
Right! Get over it, America! The Israelis are right, when they insist on building things EXACTLY the way they were before an attack, as a big "F-you" to those who would impose their will be violence. So, I'm going to use this occasion to say, let's lose this maudlin sentimentality. It won't bring a single WTC victim back. BUT, our resolve to show the bastards that perpetrated this MAY stave off the next attack. So you got it: TWO GIANT TOWERS, exactly the way they looked before (with a tad better safety features, this time!) If no commercial tenants want to move there, then we'll have the worldís tallest public housing project! America, right at the base of New York: let's GROW A PAIR!!!
TD Evening Extra, 10-25-02. Welcome Colby Cosh to the Dog Run, the best damned links section on the InternetTM. Colby has a nice tribute today to the late Richard Harris and to the late Senator Wellstone. Plus he bids a fond farewell to the Emory University career of Michael Bellesiles, someone whose name probably doesn't mean that much outside the blogosphere, but within it, is synonymous with "guy who made up facts about colonial ownership of guns to satisfy liberal stereotypes re: same, and was, ergo, awarded the Pulitzer (by MY esteemed alma mater) and then hemmed and hawed about it and FINALLY forced to resign from cushy academic job".
TD Afternoon Death Notice Extra II. The actor Richard Harris died today at 72. Is it just me, about to turn 40, noticing all this? Or is something going on...
Apparently something or someone extremely sinister decided to kill Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and his entire family in a small plane crash in Minnesota, thereby, ironically, enforcing the Senator's apparently broken pledge to serve only two terms.
Honestly, I liked Wellstone, though not as much as the insanely principled Feingold or the sainted McCain, but right after them. He was in a tight reelection battle; sadly, his entirely family died with him. I do not know what Minnesota law provides at a time like this. All I know is we are now eleven days before Election Day, and a key Democrat (for whose political benefit it was said, war resolutions were re-drafted) is now dead in a plane crash. Remind anyone of...MEL CARNAHAN?
TD Legal Extra, 10-25-02. With thanks to our friends at Quasipundit for this (and kudos to Quasipundit's own first-hand reportage of the sniper rampage -- proving that the blogosphere has quickly taken a very prominent place in journalism). It reminds me of something: 17-year-old illegal alien Lee Malvo is a JAMAICAN NATIONAL. Has anyone thought to call the Jamaican embassy to make sure it gets an opportunity to send a legal officer to advise Mr. Malvo PER INTERNATIONAL LAW? Let's make this case according to Hoyle, ladies and gentlemen: all t's crossed and i's dotted.
And THEN the suspects can receive a fair trial, most likely followed by a painless execution.
October 25, 2002, New York, New York. One more day until the TD turns...40 (how many times people -- THIS IS A VANITY BLOG!).
Now that we are safe from the Sniper rampage, the FBI is still concentrating on things that begin with "Sni" -- that's right: SNIDELY Whiplash, in the form of al Qaeda, is proposing to tie up fair maidens on railroad tracks, and otherwise disrupt national rail service, passenger AND hazardous waste transport. (Your TD is pleased that a few months ago, the national schedule of hazardous material rail shipments was deleted from the Internet! Good move!) Come on, FBI, can't we be allowed TWO good nights sleep in a row?
As the (please God, let it be over) capital sniper case winds down, our ongoing kudos to Unqualified Offerings for his unparalleled treatment of an all-too-close-to-home event. Even UO's wrap-up is compelling (by the way, your TD's rant on Chief Moose was posted at least twelve hours AFTER UO's similar rant; UO scooped the TD on this, and did so without the need for expletives undeleted.)
So, since we're in the "things that cost us sleep department", how about our esteemed President discussing compelling issues of North Korea with China's leader Jiang Zemin...at the ranch in Crawford (can't we call it the Western White House? Please? Pretty please?) Well, the President will doubtless be refreshed after some long runs, and can get down to bid'ness. How we deal with China over this is pretty much the ballgame: will China impose its considerable pressure on its insane neighbor to keep the world semi-orderly, and can our President push the necessary buttons to GET China interested in doing this, or will every sick fuck dictator between Pyongyang and Peru have an incentive to get their hands on a nuclear weapon as fast as possible, knowing that it buys untold leverage? Potentially, life on Earth hangs in the balance... Have a LONG massage today, Mr. President. I'm detecting some tightness in the right quad...
Fair trial and painless executions to follow. Stay tuned.
October 24, 2002, New York, New York. So, it sure looks like they caught the bastards in the capital sniper case. While we all hope the police got the perpetrators, one John Allen Muhammed (?) a/k/a John Allen Williams, a -- you got it -- Gulf War veteran of the US Army, and his stepson, Jamaican national Lee Malvo, 17, a .223 rifle found in their car makes it look more likely; ballistics tests will doubtless be critical.
My apologies to Chief Moose for any expressed lack of faith, though something tells me that it was the notes and communications that led to...a maniac training camp in Alabama...that led to these guys. The problem with crazed nuts who do this kind of thing is that they are CRAZY -- they did things that resulted in their capture; before the communications, it seemed very unlikely they would be captured.
Okay, it wasn't a White supremacist (these suspects are African-American), and it wasn't al Qaeda (though the perps apparently expressed sympathy and support for Al Qaeda). So, itís another McVeigh type scenario; of course, rumors of McVeigh/Nicholls/John Doe II ties to al Qaeda and/or Iraq circulate to this day (I have helped circulate some of them!) Of course, it wasn't a DC area regular, but outsiders, who "learned the area" without being lifelong residents (apparently); this made it harder to catch them, without their own help! How can people this stupid do this much damage? Isn't that the way it always is!
Well, let's hope this one is over; these guys will doubtless face the death penalty, and recriminations over a criminal case that had some people calling for martial law (and the feds violating the law by having the military involved). For my intimations that this actually WAS an al Qaeda project, as opposed to al Qaeda sympathizers, I give myself a B (with thanks to the Unseen Editor for suggesting a B+).
On second thought, the Unseen Editor is right: I predicted this would come to a stop before Ramadan (November 5th, this year). A B+ does indeed seem warranted, if Messrs. Muhammed and Malvo are indeed the perps.
Closer to home, good old Lizzie Grubman is off to jail (for 60 days). While in jail, Lizzie, may I suggest "networking".
And in other legal news, our hero, New York State Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos (for those of you legal eagles in other states who are wondering: the answer to your question is YES -- in New York, the LOWER court is called "Supreme Court"; our highest court is the Court of Appeals) has frozen payment of $625 MILLION in legal fees (that's $13,000 an hour for the hours the lawyers involved CLAIMED to have worked) arising from the national judicial travesty called the "tobacco litigation settlement" whereby smokers pay more per pack so that certain well connected lawyers can become billionaires (if they're not already) and states get more slush fund money, which a certain unnamed Southern state (where our newest featured link lives) uses to -- I kid you not -- subsidize tobacco farmers.
Well, keep up the good fight Justice Ramos.
October 23, 2002, New York, New York. Chief Moose, you've been holding out on us. Apparently, the sniper left a long letter at one of the crime scenes, denouncing police mishandling of the investigation. There are also more details on the tarot card than have been released, and there are doubtless other communications that haven't been released.
All right. Let's stop this "leave it to the professionals" bullshit once and for all. After 9-11 and anthrax -- hell, after CHANDRA LEVY -- the police and FBI have given us no reason to place our unquestioning faith in them. Chief Moose, release every freaking communication you have that's even ARGUABLY from the sniper that won't put SOME SPECIFIC PERSON'S life in danger RIGHT NOW! That's the tarot card, front and back, in full; ditto, "the note" and anything else youíve got, including both the transcript and the recordings of conversations. DO IT NOW, or the blood of the next victim is on YOUR HANDS. And if there's pressure on you from higher ups about NOT RELEASING ANY OF THIS -- TELL US THAT TOO -- in code if necessary -- so we can shift the blood to THEIR HANDS.
The Unabomber case was solved only when some journalists decided to say "fuck this" and published the Unabomber's sick-fuck manifesto -- and his brother recognized a unique construction ("eat our cake and have it too", instead of "have our cake and eat it too" -- Ted Kaczynski and myself being the only two people of whom I'm aware that use the CORRECT construction of that maxim as a general matter).
Yes, I know that's an awful lot of expletives not deleted -- but I am freaking mad that secrecy and ego-aggrandizement are trumping openness and honesty when crazy decisions are made like using the military for law enforcement and imposing massive school closures, all at a time when the police refuse to TELL THE GODDAMNED PUBLIC EVERYTHING THEY KNOW!!! This maniac sniper or sniper group is going to murder people whether the police make him or it happy or not, and whether demands (for money, secrecy, or anything else) are complied with or not. Whatever disinformation campaign is going now is NOT WORKING, so stop it!
That's it then. The experts may ultimately solve this, but ten dead and three critically injured over three weeks is enough "trust". Even the "we don't want to cause a panic" rationale is over: massive lifestyle disruptions and bringing the military into law enforcement have shown that the panic is ALREADY THERE -- at least on the part of school administrators and government officials. So enough: the public has GOT to be brought on to "the team" to solve this one. It's also probably the one angle this sniper bastard hasn't anticipated.
TD Afternoon Extra, 10-22-02. Finally, what we hope is a long awaited break in the sniper case.
Montgomery County Police Chief Moose and Fairfax County Police Chief Squirrel are seen here with three suspects just taken into custody.
October 22, 2002, New York, New York. Sometimes, your TD's having to make a living precludes, or at least delays, blogging. Today was such a day, with court appearances in Hackensack, New Jersey (yes that IS part of the United States) and downtown Manhattan.
Hey look! Another sniper incident in Aspen Hill in...Montgomery County, Maryland (this bastard(s) is GOOD -- shooting right back in the HEART of where everyone is paying the most attention!) For ongoing sniper coverage (as always): Unqualified Offerings and CNN. The latest victim has died, bringing the number of dead to ten; a note seems to be in the hands of the police saying "your children are not safe anywhere or any time". Nice.
THIS IS NOT THE WORK OF TERRORISTS! Really? Well, whoever this is is way smarter than the average psychotic criminal, or the average terrorist. Unfortunately, as we know (from 9-11; Bali; anthrax; the sniper; Israel, etc.) killing people REALLY IS EASY. Getting away with it, alive, is harder -- but in the end, itís not all THAT hard. Building a world that people actually want to live in (as opposed to the universal-shithole Islamic world, which people generally want to ESCAPE FROM) is what's HARD.
Apparently, al Qaeda HATES nightlife; itís a quality of life thing -- they want to kill ANYONE that has any life at all except bowing down to Mecca five times a day and living under strict sharia law, including burqas for women, beards for men, and grimness for everyone in a shithole utopian Islamic world like Taliban Afghanistan in which, let's face it, life is probably not worth living! Hence, al Qaeda made plans to blow up Southeast Asian nightclubs (such as those in Bali and the Philippines) to bring that marvelous utopian vision of theirs to everyone. Nice. A cultural viewpoint worthy of our respect.
In the East Asian theatre, our President will undertake multilateral efforts to disarm North Korea. What is this diplomacy shit? Where is that cowboy spirit? How DARE the President do something that seems sensible on its face (and I mean this, for a change). Well, featured link blogger William Burton demurs on the President's handling of North Korea. Mr. Burton is a wise man. Featured link Matthew Yglesias isn't quite willing to go as far as Mr. Burton, but sees his point. Well, let me just say it this way: NORTH KOREA IS A BIG, HUGE, THROBBING DEAL -- and is the NUMBER ONE foreign policy priority right now. Indeed, the pre-9-11 Bush foreign policy consisted largely of abrogating the ABM treaty so that...we could...defend against rogue states like...North...Korea. That, and letting Don Rumsfeld make money (Burton is hot!).
Well, we'll see. Russia is giving us guff about our UN resolution; we kind of need them onboard, as they hold a veto. Whatever bribe they are holding out for, it seems to be a sticking point. In the end, your TD is not entirely convinced that our esteemed President will not, in the end, let Kofi make some kind of last second deal so that what could really be a costly war in blood and treasure terms can be avoided (of course...that would be...something like...diplomacy...) Time will tell...
TD Evening Extra, 10-21-02. Your TD is seldom pleased these days when his prognostications prove correct, but some events seem immutably linked to others. IDF easings of restrictions on Palestinians are ALWAYS followed by murderous attacks on Israeli civilians, such as a bus attack that killed 14 and injured over 60, reported here by the Jerusalem Post.
The horror continues in Israel, without missing a beat. You know, if the United States were "serious" about a "War on TerrorTM", then instead of kowtowing to dictatorial and murderous Arabs (to endorse our misguided war against contained Iraq), such as the Saudi bastards (who by all rights we SHOULD BE AT WAR WITH, as they have CONTINUED TO THIS DAY TO SPONSOR AL QAEDA), under the Bush DoctrineTM, we would be endorsing any and all Israeli efforts to crush the Palestinians -- the more brutally the better (rather than telling Sharon to "ease off").
Oh wait, psychotic and indiscriminate murder (even genocide) is the stuff of ARABS -- such as, say, Saddam Hussein, or the late humanitarian Hafez Assad of Syria. You remember a town of about 15,000 called Hama in Syria? You don't? Like JENIN in the West Bank, Hama, Syria was an irritating hot bed of terrorism. Haffez Assad's forces surrounded it with tanks and artillery and leveled it, killing all of its occupants, men, women and children, terrorist and mostly innocent non-combatant alike. Or of course, Saddam Hussein, who periodically ALSO engages in that level of insane brutality, is...an...Arab.
Alas, the United States is not THAT serious about the mislabeled "War on TerrorTM"; indeed, Ariel Sharon isn't that serious about HIS OWN war on terrorism. Not even remotely. Ask the "Arab street" and its members will tell you that Israel has ALREADY committed atrocities of this scale, and indeed, routinely engages in them. The "Arab Street" loves to exaggerate (just as our press loves to exaggerate, by giving credence to things that aren't even remotely credible, such as...the Arab Street.)
So, Israel won't engage in the only ABSOLUTELY EFFECTIVE method of eliminating terrorism, i.e., eliminating the terrorists, along with their families, friends, neighbors, and anyone within a few hundred meters in any direction. And the United States really wouldn't be very pleased if its leading Middle East client state did so, with weapons our aid packages bought for them. No, no, no. (Of course, we are also troubled watching weapons largely purchased by diversions of our "humanitarian" aid being used AGAINST civilians of our client state. But...we...have...to...beÖquiet...because of...that ...thing...with...Saddam...HE TRIED TO KILL MY DAD!!! This international stuff is...so...hard...has anyone seen my sneakers?)
Where was I going with all this? Oh yes. Terrorism is hard to stop in a free society. Israel, periodically, feels it HAS to let the Palestinians live in SOME semblance of a free society, or at least, a less nasty military occupation, and this is seemingly ALWAYS followed with terrorism. Oh yes, yada yada yada no easy answers yada yada yada free societies are always at risk. Though no particular retaliation is planned (hey, let's level Arafat's compound, OK, let's rebuild it AND THEN level it!) Sharon will do something, though we're not sure what. This should doubtless help his poll numbers against Bibi. And I suppose, somehow, it will help our President's.
October 21, 2002, New York, New York. Happy birthday to Mr. Henley of Unqualified Offerings, and happy 1,000th birthday to the UO blog. Your TD stands less than a week from his own 40th; just 960 to catch up thereafter!
As I write this, I have just been sent a "breaking news flash" from CNN that someone in a white van is being surrounded by police in Richmond, Virginia. Obviously, we hope this is some kind of break in the sniper story; I just hope itís not another case of Richard Hatfill or Steven Jewell (yes...I...know...I...mixed...them...up.)
Across the pond, Irish voters approved the Nice treaty, allowing the smooth expansion of the EU from 15 to 25 (except for Turkey, of course, because the EU elitists are nothing if not hypocritical bigots). The Irish voters' price for this largesse? Being able to hold their heads up high as "good Europeans". Seems to me that a country whose workers on net support lazy-from-endless-subsidies French farmers should have made a deal to counter that inequitable farce. Nope. They get to be "good Europeans" (while simultaneously approving a framework that will make large countries -- France, Germany, Spain and arch-enemy Great Britain -- more important at the expense of smaller countries like Denmark, Greece, and...Ireland). What do I know? When the smoke clears and dust settles, the EU will have 25 member states, or around 1/8 of the world's countries, somewhere around 1/10 of the world's people, and collectively, the world's largest economy. Since its legal framework gives it many aspects of a government (though its stupid people insist on retaining sovereignty in their various pathetic nation-states), it would have the attribute of being the world's second largest anti-democratic and unaccountable governmental institution (after the People's Republic of China). Way to go!
By the way, in my opinion, the United States misses a tremendous opportunity here vis a vis certain countries that the Europeans insist on snubbing for either economic reasons (Bulgaria, Romania) or racist reasons (Turkey): these countries are all (coincidentally or not) strongly pro-American. We should invite them to join NAFTA. I understand that Southern senators would likely go crazy at the thought of having our economic policies coincide with our foreign policies at a time when it might cost them campaign dollars (a la the fiasco over refusing to cut a break to Pakistani textiles, we see that itís NOT ABOUT VOTES, mind you, but campaign dollars from well-placed lobbying groups. Sorry...taking...chill...pill... There, much better.) Since the EU is setting itself up to be a "strategic competitor" at least in the economic realm, I suggest we fight 'em fair and square: kick-ass economies in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, and any other European country that wants to join us and NAFTA in the "War for Economic ProsperityTM" (itís mine, I said it first!) will ultimately be the best revenge.
October 20, 2002, Brooklyn, New York. A new shooting in Ashland, Virginia appears to break the capital area sniper's pattern of not shooting on weekends, as observed here by, naturally, Unqualified Offerings, and here by CNN. As a free society, as we have learned the hard way many times, the bad guys always have a short term advantage. Let's just hope that this particular bad guy(s) is captured, preferably while resisting arrest against many heavily armed officers.
Meanwhile back at the ranch (the White House, I suppose, as the President only WISHES he were back at the ranch), Time magazine speculates that a deal is being worked out between Bush and Sharon: something like, if Saddam or the Palestinians attack Israel, you can have unremitting revenge on ONE, but not the other, with the "deal" being that it be against the Palestinians. This seems a tad farfetched to me, as Sharon already has a pretty damned free hand now. The "ultimate" deal, the head of Arafat, is not in the offing. Sharon, being, a nasty S.O.B., but not, shall we say, AN IDIOT, knows that he's better off politically with HIS bogeyman ALIVE and out there (compare and contrast Administration attitudes toward Saddam Hussein).
Finally, in the "and then there were 15, er 25" department, Ireland's voters are poised to ratify the Nice treaty permitting streamlined procedures for EU expansion to include 8 Eastern European nations and 2 small island countries (Malta and Cyprus) to join the club in 2004. Irish taxpayers COULD have held out for better terms re: the "Common Agricultural Policy" (i.e., blood money to appease French farmers), but apparently, this was not in the offing.
October 19, 2002, Brooklyn, NY. American negotiators have threatened the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with "extreme international pressure". Actually, all we have to do is shut off Kim Jong Il's supply of world class cognac and Danish hookers (I'm serious) and MAYBE we can get him to play ball. I mean, international pariah status, trade sanctions and massive starvation of the population are one thing. Taking a way the man's booze and broads, however, is quite another...
Apropos of, I don't know, we give you this story of a car bomb outside a McDonald's in Moscow, injuring seven (one critically). The story indicates this was the possible result of a clash between the McDonald's owner and their competitors. Kind of gives a new meaning to the term "Burger Wars", I suppose.
In the "someone can't keep a secret" department...1,500 U.S. Special Forces troops are training in Jordan to take over that country right next to Jordan that isn't Syria, Israel or Saudi Arabia (look it up on the map). Speaking of maps, take a good look at this one. Notice something? If United States troops manage to take over Iraq, and North Korea negotiates its way out of the Axis of EvilTM, that leaves, as the sole member of the Axis of EvilTM...Iran. And it leaves it surrounded by American troops on all sides. Makes you wonder...
TD Extra Extra, 10-18-02. Hey, what the hell! From Wilmington, North Carolina (ANOTHER state neighboring blogosphere superpower Tennessee... what is going on with that?) we give you another proud addition to the Dog Run (the Best Damned Links Section on the InternetTM), Tales of a Bathroom Scale.
Our always astute Unseen Editor asks the musical question: Has North Korea resigned from the Axis of EvilTM by "coming clean" about its nuclear program. My answer: I don't know. Time will tell. I WILL say that just as it was argued that the gutless Bush I Administration sent the wrong message to tyrants by not removing Saddam in GWI, and Clinton sent the wrong message to everybody with everything he did (although, or particular note, his messages to bin Laden were particularly troublesome), under the Bush II pre-emption doctrine, the President HAS to do something about this (an Axis of EvilTM member WITH WMDs!), or he will send the message "my doctrine means little or nothing except as to guys who tried to kill my dad".
The fact that I DO agree entirely with UE's premise that LITTLE OR NOTHING will be done about North Korea and we WILL go to war with Iraq, even though Saddam is (really, he is) effectively contained, and Kim Jong Il is not, to my mind, a source of comfort.
October 18, 2002, Brooklyn, New York. CIA Director George Tenet tells us that the odds of another al Qaeda attack in the near future are seriously high -- pre-9-11 high. So, tough talk on Iraq and all, Afghan "war" and all, the danger remains of our worst fear: an al Qaeda terror attack. Just one question: why is this bozo holdover from the Clinton Administration still in that job? If ANYONE'S head should have rolled post-9-11, it was his. Oh, one more question. While we all must acknowledge that the odds of the government's ability to reduce the possibility of a terrorist attack to zero are themselves zero, we CAN safely question whether current policy is working (Can't we? Or is that an act of sedition akin to treason like Congressman Bonior? I'm so confused!)
Meanwhile, "consultations" regarding North Korea are taking place in...Beijing. Our strategic partners (or is it competitors?) in Beijing urged "caution" and "opposed the use of force" against a regime that makes Iraq look like Norway, whose people are starving to death while it goes onward with a very First World weapons program.
Way back in pre-history (around two years ago) most pundits believed that the likeliest locations of the start of World War III were, naturally, the Middle East, Latin America (particularly Colombia, where AL Qaeda seems to have some ties, interestingly), and NORTH KOREA.
Am I the only one who thinks this is a big deal? Ignore Kim Jong Il behind the curtain -- look at Saddam!
TD Dog Run Extra, 10-17-02. Welcome to the jungle...er, Dog Run (yada yada yada, the best damned links section on the Internet) to The Hillbilly Sophisticate. We see a trend, here (or could it be a conspiracy) as THIS is from West Virginia, which is next to that superpower state of blogging (Tennessee).
October 17, 2002, New York, New York. Well, awesomely troubling news from the Axis of EvilTM as North Korea proudly announces the progress it is making toward a nuclear weapon; going along with its ongoing ballistic missile program (which provides hard currency by selling to such friendly regimes as Egypt who uses American aid money to buy such missiles when, oh, at any given moment, 10-20% of North Korea's population is STARVING TO DEATH), Kim Jong Il's Glorious Stalinist Shithole is turning into quite the Little Engine That Could (destroy Japan? I think I can...Nuke Alaska? I think I can...cause bitchin' damage to California? I think I can, I think I can...)
In fact, this news is SO troubling that I will defer to another time my endless discussion of the capital area sniper, including the ACLU's questioning of the use of the military for civilian law enforcement (as first postulated by our alert Unseen Editor and expostulated on here yesterday) or of apparent United States warnings to Indonesia regarding bombings of potential tourist locales in the two weeks before the Bali bombings, or even of President Bush (after discussions with Israeli PM Sharon) has stated that Israel would retaliate if attacked by Iraq; PM Sharon noted that Israel had never enjoyed as warm relations with any American president as with the current maniac...er, the President.
Nope, all of that pales in comparison to the thought that Kim Jong Il, one of the few leaders in the world I am comfortable saying makes Saddam Hussein look like Mary Poppins, is well on his way toward not only having a nuclear weapon, but being able to lob and deliver said nuclear weapon at Japan, the Philippines (where five people were killed and over 100 injured in...a...bombing...), or at present, Alaska, and in the not too distant future, California.
Well, under the Bush Doctrine, we, the United States, unilaterally or otherwise, MUST RESPOND and pre-empt this. Say what you will about Saddam, North Korea DOES (verifiably) supply weapons and ballistic missile technology to unsavory regimes on our terrorist list, a la Libya, Iran, Syria, perhaps Iraq... And this is a guy who has ALREADY let 10% of his people starve to death, rather than give up an iota of his military programs. This was the guy that Bill Clinton (in conjunction with the "interested parties" Japan and South Korea) agreed to provide REAL MONEY and technical help to build "peaceful" light water reactors for North Korea's PROMISE not to develop nuclear weapons. Good move. Well, we have to do something now; I guess we go to the Security Council for an immediate resolution, inspectors, with follow up force if necessary.
Oh wait!!! Besides its own formidable military, Kim Jong Il has the tacit backing of that wannabe superpower in Beijing!!! Saddam's Iraq, by contrast, is pretty much a singleton (although France wants to play with us for sentimental reasons, and Pooty Poot has some serious scratch invested there). Okay then, SADDAM HUSSEIN continues to be the number one threat to the security of the United States, yada yada yada, regime change, yada yada yada, WMD's to terrorists by Saddam, yada yada yada. Got all that?
TD Late Morning "Black Helicopter" Conspiracy Extra, 10-16-02. Our Unseen Editor poses the interesting question of whether the D.C. area sniper has played into the Bush Administration's (and especially John Ashcroft's) most heartfelt dreams: the ability to wage the War on TerrorTM at home. Is the Posse Comitatus Act which generally precludes the use of our military for civilian law enforcement functions being violated (albeit for a popular use)? American military surveillance aircraft are rarely used domestically; generally, they are used for drug trafficking situations. The proposed use of surveillance aircraft over a large area where millions of Americans lived purportedly to catch one (or at least a tiny number of) miscreant(s), does seem to have far more serious Big Brother implications than anything heretofore deployed; particularly troubling when such use might be AGAINST THE LAW.
This from a government that refuses even to tell us who the Vice President met with to form national policy while working on the public's dime, and that believes American citizens can be unilaterally declared persona non grata and have their constitutional rights stripped at the whim of the President.
October 16, 2002, New York, New York. A bit of a wind and rain storm here in the big city today; into every life some rain must fall. (My other clichť de jour: revenge is a dish best served with fava beans and a nice Chianti).
In his various books on "How to Win Friends and Influence People", Dale Carnegie suggested that one of the means was to "throw down a challenge". Our military is apparently doing just that in the Washington area, as high tech surveillance aircraft will scour the skies of the capital region in search of discharged gun muzzles. Why the sniper will not simply lie low until this program has been suspended remains a mystery; I guess the idea is to see if he (or they) want to continue to push the envelope. Of course, with a 9 out of 11 kill rate, one wonders if you really want to push such characters, but then, this shit does have to be stopped. More brainstorming on Unqualified Offerings as to possible means and methods of the sniper, including "the white van itself is a red herring -- the shooter is either on foot, or actually WAITS for a white van to go by before shooting".
Hey, the returns are in, and Saddam got 100% of the vote. It does the heart proud to see people rally around their president and nation at a time of crisis, when their nation is threatened by hostile foreign powers and local terrorist cells.
Meanwhile, our President (the one who got less than 50% of the vote) is scheduled to meet with Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, and to tell Sharon to ease off in the restrictions imposed against the re-occupied Palestinian territories. Obviously, two political calculations have been made by Karl on this (three if you count the issue of whether Sharon will actually take heed of the President): (1) pressure brought to bear on Israel help smooth things over a bit with the Gulf states for purposes of the coming Iraq war; and (2) more dead Israelis as a result of the inevitable suicide bombings that follow any and all "easings up" on the Palestinians will help Bush politically by keeping the "War on TerrorTM" on the front page (without the troubling collateral issue of dead Americans as a result of terror).
The problem, of course, is that more dead Israelis might perversely ALSO help Ariel Sharon in his REAL battle, not the one with Arafat, or even Saddam Hussein, but the one with Bibi.
TD Afternoon "The Trail of the Sniper" Extra, 10-15-02. Its back to work...for the sniper. For excellent logistical and "meta-" coverage of the ongoing capital area sniper case, I commend you to Unqualified Offerings. Once again, I am fascinated by a theory of UO's: the weekday nature of the sniper's activity means he is in the retail trade, or possibly construction and using company vehicles.
Anyway, I ran a Google search on the names of all of the localities in which shootings occurred: Aspen Hill Wheaton Rockville Silver Spring Washington Fredericksburg Bowie Manassas Falls Church, and I got this result.
For the most part, the search yielded sniper stories, such as this. But I was fascinated to find this, a list of DC area...bookstores. Perhaps someone on a book delivery route with a JFK-book-depository obsession? Or this, a list of D.C. area bike shops. The truck connection is interesting, but it strikes me that a truck that appears to be operating in the ordinary course of things might just blend in...a delivery truck? A phone company truck?
I should point out that in the course of running the first few shootings on Google, such as this search I got bus routes. The first few shootings are close; this could mean, for example, vans used by the Metro transit authority, or any of the area utilities, might be involved (or other unmarked vehicles used by other governmental agencies). Throwing things out further into the DC hinterlands makes things more interesting; on the other hand, I have never assumed there HAD to be only one perpetrator; perhaps one perp or team for each "cluster" (Fredericksburg, VA is a ways from DC, as is Bowie, MD, but the Montgomery County, DC and Fairfax County shootings are all relatively close to each other)...
Well, who knows? With each murder, the shooter(s) is/are increasing the possibility of detection. Let's hope that the odds favor the good guys on this one, and this shit stops.
TD Afternoon "Too Funny to Make Up" Extra, October 15, 2002. Here we have a report of an attempted hijacking thwarted on a SAUDI AIRLINES flight from Khartoum, Sudan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. You KNOW things are tough in terrorist-land when you have to start hijacking your own chief sponsors!
And in other too funny to make up news, Saddam Hussein appears to be heading for an even bigger landslide than the LAST TIME he ran unopposed when he won 99.96% of the vote; the Baath Party denizen is looking for a perfect 100% this time; the question is: how many voters want to get shot THIS TIME?
And Winona Ryder's trial on various charges arising from her "removal" of $6,000 in designer goods from a Saks store and other charges was deferred for a day, when Winona "just didn't show up". We are witnessing a double "celebrity treatment", cutting both ways: most shoplifting cases are disposed of in less spectacular matters than a felony trial; of course, most defendants who miss their trial dates are the subject of immediate arrest warrants and not given "do-overs".
October 15, 2002, New York, New York. In deference to those readers who have come here because your TD (unlike other lawyers of note such as Harvey Birdman, Gomez Addams, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton -- who, as the first two, are fictional characters, or the last two who, respectively (1) resigned from the bar and (2) was suspended from it) I am actually an attorney! Thus, we give you this LAW-RELATED story: out of Illinois, where EVERY death row inmate in the state may be eligible for executive clemency.
Illinois Governor George Ryan, who first imposed a moratorium on executions, is a courageous man, and has my admiration for this action. Let me tell you my "operationally liberal" basis for opposing the death penalty. Itís not that I think "life is precious" that I OPPOSE the death penalty; itís because life is precious that I feel it is too bad that we have squandered the ultimate penalty by meting out so arbitrarily by our system (Texas in particular, and this IS intended as a slight on a certain running man) that we have to stop meting it out entirely. Because we should save it up for special cases, like Tim McVeigh and whoever this DC area sniper is, and not use it on some unlucky schmuck (who on occasion is not even guilty!) in Florida or Alabama OR TEXAS who couldn't afford a decent mouthpiece -- which is how the ultimate penalty is generally used in the United States now. And we continue to insist on using it in this way!
Thus, in my humble opinion, anyone who has toiled in the courts of our nation for a while (in my case, over 15 years), whether in criminal cases or civil (I have done both, though overwhelmingly more on the civil side), will recognize the intrinsic imperfections in our judicial system. Judges and juries are of wildly uneven quality (as are lawyers). Things that get a pass in some cases (DNA evidence linking the defendant to the crime, a la O.J.) result in conviction in many others. The appellate system is imperfect too. Is the system "close enough" to be trusted with denying people their freedom (in the interest of general public safety)? Well, given that our American justice system, for all its flaws, is most likely the fairest system in use in the world right now, the answer to THAT is probably yes. But is it good enough to KILL people? Some would say: if we have a confession or other unequivocal proof of guilt. I look at it systemically, and say, on balance, a country that fancies itself a "free country" had better give the benefit of the doubt to not killing people itself (or the shorthand: the state is too intrinsically flawed, or even "corrupt" an institution to carry out this penalty).
Finally, on an arguably "law" related note, that homicidal son of a bitch has struck again in Fairfax County, Virginia. The killings are getting more daring and brazen; as a result, there may even be useful witness accounts on this one (an "olive-skinned man"), which may or may not lend credence to my "this is the work of terrorists" opinion. I only have one thing to say about this sniper: I hope they get this bastard, and BEFORE he (and it seems to be a "he" or possibly a "they") kill(s) again. Hopefully, I tend to agree with those who hope the perpetrator(s) somehow engages in a brazen act of resisting arrest against heavily armed officers...
TD Depressing Afternoon Extra, 10-14-02. This story was pointed out to me -- an unidentified 26-year old man collapsed and died during the running of the Staten Island Half Marathon yesterday, lending a rather saddening note to my "blogger jogger" entry. The day was overcast and breezy with temperatures in the low 60's -- usually considered ideal for a distance race. Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens from time to time, most likely from a congenital health problem, although no cause of death has yet been determined.
In other depressing news, the United Kingdom has reassumed direct control over Northern Ireland after allegations of IRA espionage activities. Well, more kudos to the Nobel Peace Prize committee are in order for their 1998 award to David Trimble and John Hume for their obviously successful work on the Irish peace process (making Bill Clinton, well, viciously jealous at the time, and committed to redoubling his efforts to win the prize himself -- which he could doubtless use NOT to pay his legal bills!)
And in REALLY depressing news, a statement purportedly signed by Osama bin Laden in praise of recent attacks in Yemen and Kuwait has emerged. Could that son of a bitch NOT BE DEAD? While I agree with the sentiments of Instapundit -- insofar as I also want to see a video of him reading The New York Times before I suspend my disbelief, the MERE POSSIBILITY that he is still live is depressing.
But, its a gorgeous day out in the New York area (and hopefully wherever you are reading this): go enjoy it!
October 14, 2002, New York, New York. Well, happy Columbus Day; New York's famous parade will commence a block or two from my window, but why should I look, since my favorite Italian-American actors won't be in the parade? Insta-poll (results will not be tabulated!): who comes off as more offensive: Mayor Bloomberg, who heavy-handedly insisted on bringing "guests" with him to the parade without consulting the parade organizers first (and as a result of the furor has decided NOT to march himself) -- or the parade organizers themselves, who, while purportedly lamenting the "stereotype" that "all Italian-Americans are affiliated with organized crime" (and are thereby peeved at the mayor for inviting Lorraine Bracco and Dominic Chianese, two actors from "The Sopranos" to march with him at New York's annual parade to celebrate the reputedly culturally genocidal Genoan who discovered America), instead serve to create their OWN stereotype that members of Italian-American organizations are obsessed with the stereotype that all Italian-Americans are affiliated with organized crime?
Well, in this installment of "blogger jogger", yesterday your TD forced his aging, tired and overweight body through the 13 miles of the Staten Island Half Marathon (and then another 3 getting back to the ferry). The event now commences from the kazillion-dollar-plus minor league ball field that Rudy Giuliani rammed down our collective throats, and winds its way through a course ending near the start line for the NYC marathon. Of significance: this race was not run last year, as the NYPD, less than a month after you know what, did not want to divert that much manpower and close off the streets of Staten Island; just a few weeks later, the NYC Marathon itself, however, DID go off, and in your TD's humble and biased opinion (as finisher 21000 and change), was the real starting point of the City's psychic "healing".
For those who like to put personal touches to their mass-tragedies, among the missing in the Bali explosion aftermath is Jake Young, a former all-American football player from Nebraska.
In the face of extra-constitutional detention department we give you the continuing saga of Jose Padilla. The government continues to insist that, as an al Qaeda agent (so declared by the President and his delegates), Mr. Padilla's rights as a citizen -- even to meet with his own counsel -- are suspended. Doesn't that seem...wrong?
Finally, let's give a nice welcome to the Dog Run (the best damned links section on the Internet) to: Bags and Baggage. As their tag-line goes, others surf the Internet; these guys snowboard it!
October 13, 2002, Brooklyn, NY. Well, regardless of what one thought of historian Steven Ambrose, one will no longer be able to tell it to...Mr. Ambrose (unless, perhaps, John Edward is asked to acknowledge some of his relatives): Steven Ambrose died at a not very old 66.
The recent attack on American marines in Kuwait has been linked to al Qaeda. Ties to al Qaeda terrorism are being examined with respect to the Bali explosions and the explosion in a French tanker near Yemen.
The President, in first "proposing" the War on TerrorTM, said it would be fought on an ongoing basis, in theatres of battle all over the world. The terrorists are apparently just acting consistently with their own version of the "Bush Doctrine" of "do it to them before they do it to us" -- far more consistently than it has been implemented by...the Bush Administration. The Bush Administration has received well-deserved criticism for under-deploying in Afghanistan, resulting in large swathes of the Taliban -- and more importantly, al Qaeda leadership -- to escape as a result. The consequences, alas, continue to unfold, from Kuwait and Bali to...Baltimore?
Well, screwing around for over a year with respect to Iraq (while refusing to drop the issue) will prove to be a bad thing. Let us all hope it doesnít prove to be THAT bad.
October 12, 2002, Brooklyn, NY. Jeez; a talking dog takes the wife and kid apple picking (more like apple LOOKING on this rain soaked day), comes back, and finds that all hell has broken loose for a Saturday!
From normally paradisical Bali, we get this message, apparently Arabic (an Iraqi dialect perhaps?) for "bring it on", two horrifying explosions in night clubs killing well over 100. Meanwhile in ALSO strategically meaningless and non-aligned HELSINKI, where an apparent suicide bomber killed over half a dozen. HELSINKI!
For those in the blogosphere who, because of an aggressive act in the no-fly zone here or there have been saying "the war already started", your TD assures you: it has not. YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET. There are vulnerable spots all over the planet. Your TD is not pleased to see reports such as this of thankfully THWARTED suicide bombing attempts in Israel, including one recently near the USA embassy, and of course, a recent communication between Saddam and Yasir. The attempts at murder, however, go on, and Saddam and Yasir remain thick as thieves. Le plus que ca changes, le plus que ca la meme choses.
What does it say when basically ONE OR TWO GUYS in the capital area (whether Islamic terrorists or just "ordinary" homicidal psychopaths) are effectively controlling the lives of millions of people? The vulnerabilities are there. We kind of don't have to be reminded.
Still and all, your TD would have felt an awful lot better about the entire Iraq war if (1) it had commenced a year ago, when the alleged basis and urgency for it actually accrued and (2) it just didn't somehow feel like Kenny-boy Lay was George Bush's version of Monica Lewinsky, and Iraq Dubya's own version of wagging the dog.
TD Afternoon Sniper Extra, 10-11-02. CNN reports another murder victim, the seventh, in the capital area sniper spree, this time, at a gas station near Fredericksburg, Virginia, resulting in massive traffic stops throughout the area. My feelings remain unchanged on this story: if this were a murder spree in Omaha or Milwaukee or Seattle, I might be inclined to accept "straight serial killer"; anything of this nature that strikes either our nation's financial/cultural capital or its political capital, however, might just be the kind of "terror" that we have a "War on" to stop.
TD Afternoon Extra, 10-11-02. Well don't I feel like an idiot. After talking to the Unseen Editor at lunch, and reviewing the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners I forgot that besides Yasir and Kofi, Jimmy Carter now joins HENRY A. KISSINGER (one of the Five Most Evil Men of the Twentieth CenturyTM) as a Nobel Peace Prize winner. It has been said that if Hitler lived long enough, he would probably have won a Nobel Peace Prize.
He CERTAINLY would have voted "Yea" on yesterday's use of force resolution.
October 11, 2002, New York, New York. What an unbelievable news morning in the world. Congress approves Presidential dictatorial war-mongering powers in an awesome bipartisan display of political cowardice, (your TD's special heartfelt thanks [LOL] to "my" senators [Clinton and Schumer] for going along with this farcical force resolution -- and GOD BLESS YOU, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, the only tri-state area senator to give the only appropriate vote to the poorly worded abrogation of democracy the President sent to Congress: No). Meanwhile, the capital-area sniper case goes on (the police are about to release a "graphic aid"). Pakistan staged an "election" and the winners appear to be Islamist parties who favor the Taliban in that troubled, NUCLEAR-ARMED COUNTRY, so critical to our efforts to hunt down the perpetrators of the September 11th events. At least the Norwegians can all give us something to laugh about this morning: former President Jimmy Carter joins Yasir Arafat as a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate making Bill Clinton OFFICIALLY the most jealous man on the planet.
So, on a dark and chilly day like this (its even raining here in New York -- just for effect!), let's give a huge and warm Dog Run welcome to two new members of the best damned links section on the Internet, Jay Zilber's Mind Over What Matters (this site's been up a few days -- my apologies for being too obsessed with that sniper thing -- but crimes/acts of terror like that -- thank God-- don't happen very often); and The Poor Man. I commend you all to read these sites -- no, "I command you". (Just kidding; the Supreme Court didn't elect ME king -- unlike the guy who they DID elect king, I couldn't run a 6-minute mile to save my life!)
TD Afternoon "I Am God" Google Extra, 10-10-02. My understanding of the various crime scenes (including the latest in Manassas, Virginia) is that each was pretty close to major highway access. It has been a number of years since your TD lived in the District of Columbia, and I am not absolutely familiar with each and every crime scene (or any of them to be honest), but my vague and general understanding is that an element of each chosen target was the ease of the ability to escape NEAR A MAJOR HIGHWAY. In terms of where surveillance efforts should focus, it strikes me that timed surveillance cameras near every highway on-ramp with a gas station near it within, say 75 miles of the nation's capital, might be the way to go (no need to disclose exactly WHERE surveillance cameras are; just get them out there). I have no idea what this would cost, but it makes sense to me, and the damned cameras can be used for traffic control and other Big Brother related purposes once this case is solved. Actually, a highway on-ramp is frankly NOT someplace one necessarily has a reasonable expectation of privacy, in my humble opinion, and certainly is less intrusive than a full roadblock. We'll ignore the slippery slope connotations for now.
In the red herring department, the "I am God" thing on the "Death" card just fascinates me. So I ran a Google search, and got this result. Well, that's over 3,000,000 responses, most of which would be a laugh riot for our friend The Raving Atheist (who has a related piece up today). Since you all know what I'm thinking, I modified the search, to "I am God" and "Allah Akbar", and got this result. A MUCH more reasonable 8,500 responses. Well, in particular, I found something interesting on this site which recites an old story of a Moslem boy in Northern India who proclaimed "I am God" (noting that, in translation, the phrase "I am God" is "Anul Huq"); the boy was eventually martyred by having his legs amputated and he bled to death; both the severed legs, and later his cremated ashes, continued to recite "Anul Huq". Amazing. I have no idea in what language "I am God" is "Anul Huq", but Allah Akbar (God is Great) is certainly Arabic, and that phrase ends in Q leading me to believe it is ALSO Arabic (or possibly Sanskrit).
So I ran this search, Anul Huq, and got this result with an extremely manageable 7 responses, most of which appear to relate to the story of the Moslem boy above. So I then ran "Anul Huq" and Maryland, yielding nothing, so I just ran "Huq and Maryland", yielding this, around 1000 responses. A review of the Montgomery County White Pages leads to a few people named A. Huq. Few enough that someone should at least run their names and see if they own white vans or trucks; if they don't, move on, I guess (frankly, if Chief Moose hasn't had his people run every freaking white truck or van in the United States, Canada and Mexico by now ANYWAY, he should tender his resignation).
My opinion is that this is as much of a complete and total red herring as trying to tie anthrax suspects to the mythical Greendale School in Franklin Park, New Jersey. However, I DO think the camera thing is the way to go...
October 10, 2002, New York, New York. I apologize for going "All Sniper All the Time", but as I see it, we're looking at this year's 9-11, and I'm not convinced itís NOT a continuation of 9-11. As we all know, but for 9-11, the "blogosphere" would probably consist of little more than Josh Marshall, Mickey Kaus, Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan and possibly myself (and I wasn't even live until a week AFTER 9-11!).
I'll just give you this link to CNN's coverage of the Maryland (and now Virginia) sniper case. The "profilers" (or at least ex-profilers) on record speculate that the shooter is a male, probably under 40, and on the "organized" end of the spectrum. The speculation is that this is NOT the act of a foreign-based terrorist organization, because, according to this from Time Magazine:
"On the one hand, this killer is terrorizing a community and a nation, and so he is, by definition a terrorist, but on the other hand these shootings probably don't originate with al-Qaeda. Foreign terrorists, as we've come to understand them in the post-9/11 world, are not prone to calling attention to themselves. They prefer to get in, act, and get out as silently as possible. This sniper is taunting the police, surfacing again and again to perform identical crimes. This kind of violence is more in line with domestic terrorism, a la Eric Rudolph, the man suspected of bombing several abortion clinics in the South ó and a suspect in the Atlanta Olympic bombing."
You don't have to guess MY feelings on "foreign" vs. "domestic" terrorism (aside from yesterday's post) because I'll tell you: NEITHER CAN BE RULED OUT UNTIL THERE IS COMPELLING EVIDENCE EITHER WAY. Which is why your TD remains very angry, VERY ANGRY INDEED, with the FBI's botching -- er, handling -- of the anthrax case, whereby the FBI INSISTS, despite no apparent evidence AT ALL (other than the path of the tainted letter(s), potential leads which I'm certain have been allowed to go cold) that the anthrax tainted letters MUST have originated with a DOMESTIC nut, and certainly not al Qaeda, or heaven help us, Iraq (at least until we NEED it to be Iraq!).
So it troubles me that investigators MAY BE (though there is no evidence they are) ruling out a potential source of suspects (Islamist nuts or their confederates). The problem with these "profiles" is obvious: anyone who has watched the "X-Files" (or of course "the Profiler") is aware that some perpetrators actually STUDY old crime patterns with the INTENT of eluding law enforcement (who will expect certain patterns to emerge). Thus, the "statistical likelihoods" go out the window, because the perp is on to these methods. What matters is hard evidence, of any kind -- which right now seems scant (and THANK YOU, National Rifle Association, for having lobbied so hard to block legislation that would have enabled the "fingerprinting" or chemical tagging of bullets -- a possible law enforcement tool that is unavailable here).
On this last point, by the way, let me come out and say ABSOLUTELY AND IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that I acknowledge the constitutional right to bear arms, and think that it is sacrosanct as a means of protecting against tyranny. I endorse the position of our featured link William Burton here. Specifically, my brethren liberals should also get off the fence and acknowledge that the right to bear arms is ABSOLUTE, and we are absolutely NOT seeking a total gun ban in this country (as if it would happen anyway). However, SENSIBLE REGULATION OF GUNS AND BULLETS IS PERFECTLY CONSISTENT WITH THE SECOND AMENDMENT (just as the "right to vote" is still REGULATED, via residency, registration, age and other requirements). Any responsible gun owner should have no problem registering their weapon, and I can think of no LEGITIMATE reason why they should object to registering their bullets. But, it ain't the law, making law enforcement's job that much harder in a case like this. So, again, thanks to the National Rifle Association. From all of us.
October 9, 2002, New York, New York. Well, its that time again; despite his protestations of burnout with the story, Unqualified Offerings continues his tireless pursuit of the Maryland Sniper story; the latest development: the killer (we THINK its the killer) left a tarot "death card" near the shooting in Bowie, Maryland, with handwriting that said "Dear policeman, I am God." This is potentially a huge break; I'm sure there are a finite number of outlets where such tarot decks are sold, and MAYBE something can be made of handwriting analysis. As this article shows, the death card does not usually refer to actual death, but to transformation. We can safely assume (I can, anyway) that someone who would randomly murder people does not have a deeply defined spiritual sense, and are probably not familiar with the arcane details of the tarot (put that in the profile). Elite military commandos would sometimes leave "kill cards" near killed enemies (or perhaps I have seen too many damned movies). Maybe...
This is not to say that I don't think this killer, like the anthrax killer, does not have ANY spiritual sense. I think he (or they) have such a sense. That is why I predict that this shooting spree, just like last year's attacks (to re-cap: anthrax, Richard Reid, Flight 587) will all come to end soon. It will end, oh, just before November 5th, which is not only Election Day, but also the start of...Ramadan.
(By the way, it will be remarkably easy with a single sniper incident to prove me wrong; nothing happening in that time will not necessarily prove me right...and don't tell me that the incidents I referred to above happened during Ramadan last year! Pretend I'm The New York Times and don't bother me with the facts!)
October 8, 2002, New York, New York. Well, we are all (except for The Raving Atheist, and I'm sure even he is pulling for some non-divine intervention) pulling for the critically injured 13-year-old boy in Bowie, Maryland, the latest victim of the seemingly random shootings gripping the Northern suburbs of our nation's capital; CNN reports here. Continue to check out ongoing coverage from Unqualified Offerings, the blogosphere's man on the scene.
I don't know; I recall just one year ago this month, the nation was gripped with fear of anthrax; the death toll ended up being a single digit number, but people in Oregon or Nebraska or New Mexico who had no reason to fear being killed when a 767 plowed into their skyscraper nonetheless had the shit scared out of them every time they opened the mail! A less spectacular result, but in terms of wearing on the enemy's psyche -- a more effective trick (and potential economic disruption in the range of, say, a prolonged West Coast longshoreman's strike!) So, in taking a brief look at interviews with "ex-FBI profilers" regarding the anthrax attack, all of whom concluded that the perpetrator(s) of said anthrax attack was a lone White male "with scientific training", and a scar on his left cheek and a pickup truck, but unquestionably NOT A TERRORIST FROM THE MIDDLE EAST -- I wonder. Isn't the current attack similar -- remarkably unspectacular (compared to New York's tallest buildings burning and then imploding) in both spectacle and body count, but in terms of the "fear factor", MORE EFFECTIVE than a big boom downtown? At some point (unless someone beats me to it) I will assemble "profiler's notes" from both attacks, and see if we have anything to learn (perhaps Barbara Hatch Rosenberg can pin the Montgomery County shootings on Steve Hatfill? Perhaps Wen Ho Lee is the wheel man and Richard Jewell is scouting targets for Hatfill?)
It frankly makes no difference to the victims if this is the deliberate act of terrorists, or "White supremacists", or of some "ordinary" thrill-killing psychopaths; but it DOES make a difference (or it damned well SHOULD) to our law enforcement and national security apparatus(es) (and the rest of us). To the extent that public dissemination of known information is held back to avoid general panic, this is a tough call, but the public needs to know if specific victims or locations present more risk than others. To the extent there is a hold back for political correctness purposes, then the "holders-back" have, and deserve, my utmost contempt (and that of everyone else). I don't know; the killers know what they are doing-- they don't seem to want to get caught. For a change, that could be a (perverse) advantage to law enforcement -- someone at least rational enough to want to escape is at least easier to deal with than a suicidal maniac who thinks they are some kind of martyr.
TD Afternoon Anti-Iraq War Blogburst,10-7-02. Well, I have little to add to my own comments of August 9, 2002, which are here, written on the 57th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing, because so little has been added to the debate in the intervening two months. In fact, the most troubling aspect is that yet two more months have elapsed; we are that much further from the urgency that the events of September 11, 2001 created. Instead, we are in October 2002, and still haven't completed DEBATE on either a Congressional or United Nations resolution vis a vis Iraq.
Certainly, no one in their right mind wants to see a Stalin-like tinhorn dictator like Saddam Hussein possess the means of vaporizing New York (or Tel Aviv) or dumping anthrax or mustard gas on Riyadh or Kuwait (or Tel Aviv). Of course, he has had the ability to do the latter for over a decade. Notwithstanding this, the WORLD'S response (including that of the United States under BOTH presidents Bush) has been to diplomatically and militarily put Iraq in a box, tacitly winking at his efforts to evade international inspections, while threatening massive military action, and ultimately letting Kofi make last-second deals.
Well, Mr. President, you have made rather snide remarks about members of Congress who prefer to await a UN resolution before voting themselves on a war authorization, asserting that members of Congress should put the interests of the United States first. All well and good. But then, please tell the nation, Mr. President, why, when you deemed it sufficiently urgent one year ago today to seek whatever legal authority appropriate and then execute a military action against the Afghan Taliban, you did NOT see fit -- until literally ONE YEAR later-- to take similar action against what you assert to be the potentially far more lethal Republic of Iraq?
An uninformed citizen, such as myself, has only a small number of conclusions to be drawn from these events: (1) Iraq presents a far smaller threat than you say it does, which is why you have not taken military action until now AND there is some political benefit to your waiting until now (less than a month before a Congressional election in which both houses are up for grabs), OR (2) Iraq presents an extremely grave threat which you have neglected to deal with UNTIL NOW for partisan or other inappropriate reasons, allowing Saddam Hussein to grow stronger each day. For all our sakes, I'm hoping it's (1); if it's (2), Sir, your negligence has put us all at grave, imminent risk and you should resign at once in favor of someone who will take his national security duties seriously.
October 7, 2002, New York, New York. Well, today is the first Monday in October; if no citizen is safe when Congress is in session, let's just say that goes double for when the Supreme Court of the United States is in session!
Today is an anti-war with Iraq blogburst, run by Ampersand (with thanks to Unqualified Offerings for the link). I have nothing particularly witty to add to the discussion that you have not read here umpteen million times, but for those who wish to participate, go for it. (I may join the fray later...)
And, of course, we await the President's big Iraq speech tonight; I predict 18 minutes or less. Look for at least one new catchphrase, like Axis of EvilTM or War on TerrorTM; the speechwriters are big on those.
October 6, 2002, Brooklyn, New York. Well, among the other details contained in the exhaustive and impressive coverage of the Montgomery County, Maryland shootings of Unqualified Offerings (I'm going to nominate UO for a bloggy for this work) is a reference to articles apparently from Europe noting that "rural Americans" are running scared and hiding, we had this coming because of our love affair with guns, etc.
So, while obviously I am upset for the man, it is not completely unfunny that the Mayor of Paris, France suffered a stabbing by a mad man. Unlike Pim Fortuyn, at least the mayor survived. But Europe, ahem, has problems with violence just like their cowboy cousins over here stateside.
Finally, on today's irregular "jogger blogger", your TD ran "Grete [Weitz]'s Great Gallop", 13 miles over the irritating Central Park course. Unlike last year (a special fall season for New York running culminating in the cathartic and defiant NYC Marathon -- please God, let there never be ANOTHER season like it) Grete wasn't giving high fives; but like last year (and unlike previous years this time of year) the weather remains freakishly pleasant: in the 70's! This race often featured the Norwegian national anthem accompanying Norwegian-type weather. No more. To be fair to the global warming critics, we have too small a sample to tell if we are in a macro-climate change; still, the micro-weather observations are, well, freakish.
October 5, 2002, Brooklyn, New York. Well, don't I feel all safe and warm here in Brooklyn (no one ever gets shot for no reason just because they were standing outside at the wrong moment here in...Brooklyn...) SO: police are linking a shooting in Virginia to the Montgomery County, Maryland (and D.C.) shootings, as reported by CNN here. We commend you for ongoing coverage from Unqualified Offerings, who blogs from the heart of Montgomery County, Maryland. Instapundit is also on top of this story.
The rest of us await the President's "big speech" on Monday night, about Iraq. What now? Saddam evil yada yada yada Saddam a threat to give terrorists WMDs yada yada yada abuses sanctions regime to exploit his own people's suffering yada yada yada Saddam violates UN resolutions yada yada yada regime change yada yada yada tried to kill my Dad yada yada yada used chemical weapons against his own people yada yada yada -- have I got it all in there?
October 4, 2002, New York, New York. Still unexplained, some pretty damned effective killer(s) drove around suburban Washington, D.C.'s Montgomery County, Maryland, yesterday and murdered five people who seemed to have the misfortune of being outside in front of few if any witnesses at the wrong moment; CNN reports here and Unqualified Offerings, headquartered in the heart of...Montgomery County, Maryland...brings us these reports here and here. I wish I had a witty rejoinder about the brutal, inexplicable murder of five people, who doubtless leave behind grieving families, or at least was able to provide some level of comfort to anyone. I seem unable to do so.
Elsewhere on the police blotter, we are scheduled for not one, but TWO guilty pleas in conjunction with judicial efforts in the War on TerrorTM. Elsewhere in suburban Washington, American Taliban John Walker Lindh is expected to receive a twenty-year sentence today for his service to the Afghan Taliban. Lindh is expected to speak in court. And in Boston, thwarted shoe bomber Richard Reid is expected to plead guilty; although prosecutors have termed his request to remove reference to al Qaeda in the charges as "moot", we will see how that turns out.
Its a glum weather day here in Midtown Manhattan, which, to be honest, has had remarkably nice weather (and freakishly so) going all the way back to last September 11th (a day I can remember clearly). It was about a year and a day ago that your TD found himself working in what was then a temporary job in suburban White Plains, New York, which I joked at the time was at least strategically irrelevant (your TD's office was located in an unfashionable two-story building in an unfashionable section of an unfashionable suburb, although it WAS next door to the local IRS office, a potential target, I guess, though an unlikely one.).
Anyway, the thought I (and others) had about that (even though, of course, I left Mrs. TD and Baby TD back in strategically more important Brooklyn every day, although to GET to work, I had to either go through strategic Grand Central Station, or over the strategic, but not THAT strategic, Triborough Bridge) was that at least White Plains was not important. And yes, I and probably millions of New Yorkers were thinking in similar terms (and may still be). Lindh's and Reid's crimes, of course, involve airplanes (Lindh a tad indirectly, as there is virtually NOTHING linking him to the 9-11 events, making it a damned good thing he pled guilty to something). The events of Montgomery County are more prosaic: a panel van and a gunman going around murdering ordinary people (such as a man with a lawnmower, or filling his gas tank) in what should be strategically meaningless suburbs.
As the Richard Reid events have shown, people are already on "Code Red" (whether Tom Ridge is or not) when they step into an airplane cabin (something your TD has not done since 9-11, largely because as a result of his 9-11 induced job changes, has not had a vacation opportunity since that day, though its not exactly as if I WANT to get on an airplane). But what the hell is this? Obviously, we are all too familiar with the events in Israel right now, where no Israeli OR PALESTINIAN is safe from a potential suicide or other attack at any time, any place. We have all discussed the THEORETICAL possibility that the same is true here: we are a free country, and in the end, we really can't safeguard against every potential act of aggressive violence and REMAIN a free country. But what would happen if this REALLY IS the opening some sort of terrorist salvo?
What an amazing time to be alive, when all we can do is HOPE that this atrocity is the work of just some ORDINARY serial killer.
TD Late Morning Judicial Activism Extra, 10-3-02. How DARE our hero Mickey Kaus be right about the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision to say "we don't need no stinking statute". Of course the highest court of a state is being downright partisan in violating the clear text of a state statute: it is too late for the Democrats
(less than 51 days before the election) to substitute a candidate (I suppose even WITH the acquiescence of the other party). (And how DARE our featured link law professors at Instapundit and the Volokh Conspiracy join him in being right!).
Well, as I vouchsafed to Professor Volokh in an e-mail yesterday, "them's the breaks". BTW, the SCONJ (Supreme Court of New Jersey) was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican governors. Courts issue bad decisions that ignore the plain wording of statutes all the time. (Er, Justices Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas seem to revel in this sort of thing in their ongoing contempt for our legislative branch of government). What you gonna do? SCONJ clearly made a bad decision: there was no statutory provision for a waiver, and I actually do not support this result. I also see no federal implication warranting the U.S. Supreme Court's intervention (haven't they done enough for us all after Bush v. Gore?)
As an aside on that case, in a very intelligent observation by (our featured link) Jane Galt, she says that one's opinion on the outcome of Bush v. Gore the court case is inextricably intertwined with one's opinion of the candidates in the Bush v. Gore election. Guilty as charged. My point, however, is this: the Supreme Court of the United States made up an equal protection argument to give Bush the win. It didn't have to; it had a BETTER reason to give Bush the win called the "case and controversy" doctrine. Gore only asked the Florida court for a very limited recount -- the Florida Supreme Court gave him a much wider one than he asked for, arguably BEYOND the case or controversy pending in the courts. A weasel-shit result, but potentially correct, unlike the "reasoning" used to justify the politically motivated outcome. The ends do not justify the means under our legal system (well, they didn't at one time!)
Oh, HERE''S THE KICKER: in Bush v. Gore, we were set up for an all out Constitutional showdown which the nation would have enjoyed. Under the applicable law, two sets of Florida electors would have gone to Congress; the House would have voted for Bush, the senate (with Albert himself casting the deciding vote) would have gone to Gore, sending the election to...the Governor...of Florida...John...Edward...BUSH. Game, set, match. The Supreme Court of the U.S. wanted to avoid that ugliness.
Well, here, the Dems control the tie-breakers: they can actually CALL OFF the election entirely if Torch resigns within 30-days; as I have said, the Democratic governor can call a special election in December or January, and fill the seat, without constitutional implications of an "extended term". As Mickey Kaus notes, this result is allowed by the statute, without the need for court-tortured readings. I'm not sure if the decision references that possibility.
In the end, you either respect the "rule of law" (making our courts the highest arbiters of interpretation of the law) or you don't. As a practicing lawyer, I could tell you stories... Hey, some of our nation's greatest court decisions have been the result of courts just taking it upon themselves to make up the Constitution as they feel like it: Roe v. Wade, Dred Scott, Bush v. Gore...
Them's the breaks.
October 3, 2002, New York, New York. Well, it seems that Richard Reid's intended guilty plea asks the government to remove language tying him to al Qaeda. Always intelligent sounding A.G. Ashcroft notes that it is Reid's right to plead guilty to any charge he wants, but the government has no intention of altering the charges here. Unlike Messrs. Lindh or Moussaoui, against whom the government had (or has) cases that presented the possibility of conviction only on lesser charges than warranted life sentences (or capital punishment), if not the possibility of outright acquittal, the evidence against Mr. Reid is pretty damned unassailable.
Er, except for that tied to al Qaeda part. Unlike Moussaoui, whose attempt at a guilty plea was a bit, shall we say, divergent from the underlying indictment, Reid pretty much owns up, and knows that his alternatives are a minimum of 390 years (though after 275, he might be eligible for a halfway house) and a maximum of life. Your TD is clearly not sure why he doesn't want to own up to the al Qaeda part...maybe itís...not...true? You mean, he might just be some crazed Muslim extremist...copy cat...dufus? He seems to have spent time in al Qaeda camps (or so we're told). Might...this...also...not...be...true?
Once again, the government should not be so hasty to look a gift horse in the mouth. The big-win-challenged Ashcroft (still smarting from his Senate loss to a dead man) wants to kick someone-from-al-Qaeda's ass; why should Rummy get all the fun? The problem is, a court loss on any point, ESPECIALLY THE AL QAEDA TIE IN, would not only be a huge embarrassment, it might force the government to go public with sensitive information in a case where Reid is leaving prison in a box NO MATTER WHAT. It seems to me that the move is to make a deal that puts Reid away forever, and be done with it. He can always be confronted with the al Qaeda tie in at his court "allocution" (where the judge must be satisfied that the guilty pleader is, well, actually guilty -- the thing that caused so much mirth at the Moussaoui trial).
As with everything else, the Bush Administration should seriously reconsider its standing policy of spectacular show trials, and just get down to the business of keeping people like Richard Reid locked up, and actually protecting the people of our nation, instead of just talking about it.
TD Afternoon Newsflash Extra, 10-2-02. According to a CNN bulletin, Richard Reid, the would-be shoe bomber thwarted by alert passengers and flight attendants, is supposedly about to plead guilty to all 8 counts against him. More proof positive that secret military tribunals (subject only to the President's whim) must be set up IMMEDIATELY, and while we're at it, let's include citizens as well as aliens in their ambit, because...repeat after me: OTHERWISE, THE TERRORISTS WILL HAVE WON.
October 2, 2002, New York, New York. Just when we thought it was safe for Congress to advance the war effort (against Iraq that is: Saddam is bad man, tried to kill the President's Dad, etc.) by coming closer to passage of a war resolution, that prickly War on TerrorTM seems to have popped up again, this time with an explosion near a U.S. military facility in the Philippines killing at least one American serviceman.
Hey wait a minute, the Philippines is nowhere NEAR Iraq OR Afghanistan. But, it seems to have its share of crazed Muslim extremists, so...there you go. (You mean winning the War on TerrorTM might be...hard?)
Meanwhile, we eagerly await the prospect of how the New Jersey Senate race works out. If Mr. Forrester and the GOP were smart, they would just say: bring on former NJ senator Frank Lautenberg (arch-enemy of Bob Torricelli!). Since Forrester ran a Rick Lazio-style one issue ("I'm not Bob Torricelli") campaign, a replacement with an experienced, popular, albeit 78-year-old Lautenberg would be, well, not nice. Of course, our hero Mickey Kaus says: so what!? He thinks that the inevitable loser pulling out near the end on a regular basis might actually create competitive and interesting races with the voters getting the choice of the TWO BEST CANDIDATES. Imagine that!
The shtick here, is that New Jersey's statute as written might allow Governor McGreevey to appoint a replacement for the Torch if he resigns for UP TO TWO YEARS. That would be politically stupid: it would clearly look like an end run around the voters, which would bite McGreevey on the tushy later. The move is for McGreevey and the gang to offer to substitute Lautenberg on the ballot for November. If the Republicans refuse, THE GOP looks like sore losers trying to subvert the democratic process by forcing the Dems to run no one based strictly on the timing of Torch's "selfless withdrawal". If the GOP did that, McGreevey would have Torch resign, appoint Lautenberg as interim senator, and then call for a special election IN JANUARY (which Lautenberg presumably would win). That way, the voters still get their say, with no danger of an "unconstitutional term extension" issue in the courts. Bob, Jim, Frank, you got all that?
TD Late Afternoon Birthday Extra, 10-1-02. Today is the 78th birthday of BOTH Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former President Jimmy Carter, who, despite their disparate politics, share 10-1-24 as their birthday.
What's wrong with this picture: the President gives a big speech at the United Nations, lamenting Saddam Hussein's numerous thwartings of PRIOR UN resolutions; Saddam's people and Kofi's people (duly chastened by Bush's speech) meet in Vienna and AGREE ON THE TERMS FOR THE RETURN OF INSPECTORS but our State Department vows to thwart this plan, to enforce those same PRIOR UN resolutions unless the UN passes some NEW AND IMPROVED resolution?
It all makes sense to me! The President has fixed the geo-political calculator. The answer to any problem or equation will be the same: the stated policy of this Administration is regime change. Saddam thwarts weapons inspectors = regime change; Saddam allows weapons inspectors = regime change; Saddam hands over Osama and company and all of his WMDs = regime change; Saddam holds a verifiably democratic election and wins = regime change. Got it?
October 1, 2002, New York, New York. Welcome to October, 2002, the final quarter of this year, which has certainly been a dismal one in financial markets. Perhaps things will look up this quarter: maybe we'll resolve that Iraq thing, al Qaeda will be rounded up, the mid-term elections will provide some stability, economic news will improve and the market will return to positive territory (LOL!) Maybe we'll even have peace between the Israelis and Arafat (LOL some more!)
Well, at least Bob Torricelli has seen the light and announced his withdrawal from the Senate race -- though he proposes to keep his seat until the end. He will doubtless resign after Saturday, when Jim McGreevey can appoint a successor who would not have to stand for reelection for TWO YEARS. Of course, the Torch may be holding out for a deal with the Governor, threatening, perhaps, NOT to resign -- forcing a tough legal showdown that may leave NO Democrat on the ballot in November. We commend you to the extensive coverage of the Indepundit on this issue, including his reliance (yesterday) in part on legal authority provided by one of the leading legal eagles in the blogosphere...
Well, as one of those phrases that has emerged in the parlance of the blogosphere only (such as fisking, or the TWO definitions of perma-links, or, well, blogosphere), there will be less free ice cream today.
September 30, 2002, New York, New York. Well, in this ever changing and ever more dangerous world in which we live, man could we use Superman now. For a brief discussion (followed by comments including those of, well...guess!) on the moral implications of comic book superheroes, we give you some dead-on insight from Unqualified Offerings here and here.
Meanwhile, on to less comic matters (the more I try to escape from this issue, the more they keep dragging me back in!) its off to Baghdad. Actually, itís off to Vienna home of really good pastries and OPEC meetings, and the current discussion between Iraqi and UN officials over the proposed resumption of weapons inspections (by the way, Steve Hatfill was trained as one of these). CNN's report indicates that France (they'll cave, they always do), Russia (this is a problem; we haven't bribed Pooty Poot yet, even though I felt that his support was the linchpin of any diplomatic strategy) and China (they won't get in our way themselves, but will be delighted to join, well, France and Russia in thwarting their leading strategic competitor, no partner, no competitor...never mind) are leaning toward a less nasty UN resolution than Dubya and Tony.
Simultaneously with our executive branch war-mongering, three Democratic members of Congress are making it interesting, and are in Baghdad, urging the United States to "take Iraq at its word" over the proposed weapons inspections. Although Scrappleface has his own (inimitable) take on this, as someone who feels that the Bush Administration has given us no reason to trust it on these matters (though the Congressmen telling us we can trust Saddam Hussein MORE seems a tad much), I will simply say that if we the people have the right to speak freely on any subject (especially on the political implications of war and peace) those who would scoff at the RIGHT of our ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES to do so (even with Baghdad's skyline behind them) are UN-AMERICAN and enemies of our Constitution. So, people like Uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan (another blogger I greatly admire, and another one of the original inspirations for this particular blog) who would go so far as to question the LOYALTY of these Congressmen to our nation (including Vietnam vet and House-minority whip Boniors!) and glibly toss around the word "treason" had just damned well better watch what they do and say (in MY humble opinion). Just kidding: the beauty of our system is that EVERYONE gets the right to voice an opinion, even when many, or even MOST, disagree with it.
September 29, 2002, Brooklyn, New York. Mrs. TD and I were married just 11 years ago today (by quirk of calendar, also a Sunday). Also interestingly, this appears to be the day this site's hit meter crosses 10,000 hits. (This IS a vanity blog; once in a while, I have to mention things like this!)
Your TD is shocked, SHOCKED I say, to learn of this report showing a possible bungling of the Chandra Levy investigation by the District of Columbia police in failing to arrange for a bi-lingual polygraph technician, relying instead on a translator; thus, a suspect accused of similar crimes may have been prematurely dropped as a suspect for Chandra's murder. "The District" TV show notwithstanding, does anyone in America REALLY attribute competence to the D.C. police? Anyway, the two major problems with this story are (1) we all suspect Gary Condit did it, unless the "suspect" can be tied to him per some contract hit, and (2) under a case called Frye v. United States, the "lie detector" has been deemed unreliable scientifically, and its results are thus inadmissible in every courtroom in America.
Meanwhile, the IDF has pulled back on its siege of Arafat's compound in Ramallah just as PM Sharon heads off to Russia. Israeli troops remain close enough to nab (supposedly) any of the 41 suspects believed still inside the compound (now one building and a great deal of rubble). The Palestinians call the move "cosmetic". For a change, they are precisely right: the idea is to take Israel off of front-pages and radar screens -- places that the Sharon government seems intent on putting it, as Ariel and the boys slowly, but surely, undermine Israel's moral high ground, the principal asset of a client state dependent on US largesse to maintain its mighty military, otherwise under siege from hostile neighbors.
Finally, your TD is still unclear as to what to make of the story of the "weapons grade uranium" supposedly found in a taxi in Turkey, somewhere in the general vicinity of Iraq and Syria. Is this to be the famous "casus belli"? We'll see.
September 28, 2002, Brooklyn, New York. Well, in the JUST TOO GOOD story that keeps on giving, Madelyne Toogood has been arrested again, for giving a "false address". As a member of a group of Irish Travelers (described by some as the "anti-Amish", for their close-knit, secretive community's EMBRACING of all things modern), she probably had several addresses. But let's hear it for the Hoosier (Nanny) State: they sure know how to kick her while she's down. Just how, precisely, THE CHILD benefits from forcibly being removed from her family setting (including her uncharged father and two siblings) remains solely within the ambit of our children-fetishizing nanny state. Way to go. (To see the video, click here, scroll down and follow the instructions).
Well, the United States is (in conjunction with Britain; I don't care WHAT you say about Tony Blair -- he IS Bush's poodle, he IS, he IS, he IS) circulating a proposed UN Security Council resolution that Iraq had pretty much give up all of its Weapons of More Destruction in one week.
Well, the immediate elimination of Saddam Hussein's ability to wage unconventional warfare is a laudable goal, but as I read it, it is designed to be the type of conditions proposed to Slobodan Milosevic (before we bombed Yugoslavia) or to Mullah Omar (before we bombed Afghanistan), i.e., unmeetable. At least in THOSE cases, compliance with our demands was theoretically possible; it seems obvious to everyone that if Saddam Hussein were to hand us the head of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, and the addresses of and keys to the secret hideouts of the entire remainder of Al Qaeda leadership as well as its secret coloring books of proposed targets and operations, and the keys to Iraq's OWN secret WMD weapons laboratories, Ari Fleischer would announce these as subterfuges on the part of Iraq and that the stated goal of American policy was regime change.
At least under THOSE circumstances, SOMEONE in Congress might actually look carefully at the latest poll numbers, and realize that the overwhelming majority of American opinion supports military action on Iraq IF the United States has the support of the international community, as, amusingly, reported here by the PRC People's Daily.
this mean? It means that what the President is counting
on to steamroll through his (well, Dick Cheney's,
anyway) warmongering is the perception of a voter
backlash that isn't there!!! American democracy folks,
it'll be here all week...
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