Honorable Men.

So. I went to see Shakespeare's Julius Caesar today, and I still marvel at how Shakespeare still speaks to me from a distance of 400 years.

I was struck by Marc Antony's funeral oration:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

This reminded me of Grim's post here

Yes, Senator Reid and Senator Durbin and Colonel Gardiner are honorable men. And the wicked may be blasted. But what else may get blasted along the way?
City of Light(ing cars on fire).
(yeah, I stole that).

ANYWAY, it seems incredible that there has been 8 straight days of rioting, violence and property destruction in Paris' suburbs and nobody has managed to get themselves killed yet.

The French can't even stage a race riot correctly.


Austin Bay comments on the subject.

I can't see how the French are going to get themselves out of this one.


Tim Blair weighs in.

And the Belmont Club.

And the Religious Policeman thinks he knows who started it all.


Chiraq finally notices the smell of burning cars. (hat tip: Instapundit).


Out of Pocket:

Not sure how much I'll be able to post while out of town. I trust that Daniel, Eric and Joel will fill the empty space if their own schedules permit. Otherwise, feel free to use the comments section to this post to argue about whatever you like. :)

See you Monday, if not before.


Alito & Spousal Notification:

The nomination of Alito has been a good thing for the country, if only so we could have this debate. The question is, "We've come to something of a settlement on a woman's rights. Now, what rights does a father deserve, and how do we balance the two?" The de facto answer is that we don't: the father's sole reproductive right is to keep his pants on. After that, the woman alone has the choices.

This answer has been reached because of two separate strains of American thought. The feminist strain is well understood. But there is a masculine approach here as well, of which I've been a long-term member, which holds that men have duties and ought to be bound by honor. The sentiment is conveyed by John Wayne's character in Rio Grande, speaking of his son's enlistment in the cavalry: "He must learn that a man's word to anything, even his own destruction, is his honor."

The de facto answer is the cross-roads of those two modes of thinking. The feminists insist that abortion be seen as a medical procedure that is the woman's business and no one else's. The child has no rights that ought to bind her, because the advocates for the woman's position in our law insist on that point. The masculine understanding, however, holds that the man's rights are overwhelmed by his responsibility for the child. The men who have ruled the discussion, men like me, feel that fathering a child is an awesome duty and one that ought to bind you. The compromise position gives both sides what they want: the leading thinkers of the women's position have demanded freedom for women; the leading thinkers among men have demanded responsibility for men.

So here we are. Yet the compromise is not tenable.

Consider the comment thread here, in which the conflict is laid bare by one of the blogosphere's greats, Allah himself. The death of Allah's blog remains a subject of lamentation, but it's good to see him still active. [UPDATE: Slight editing change to update links, Aug 2008.] The key quote that he gets out of Lauren of Feministe.us is this:

I’m obviously no legal scholar, but it seems to be that Alito has to decide between being a good judge and upholding crappy laws. Personally, I’m not so much for judicial means (problematic, I know) as long as it reaches a satisfactory end.
This is, of course, exactly what is meant by "judicial activism" -- the notion that the function of the judiciary is to strike down laws that are unpleasant, or undesirable, rather than unConstitutional. That is the real debate which we need to have, and it is one that has come directly to the fore here.

The fact is that the feminist and masculine reasoning on abortion is not compatible. We have reached a compromise that has lasted this long because the feminists were primarily interested in the effect of laws on women, and the men have primarily been interested in the duties of men. A compromise arose that gave each side what it wanted.

That cannot last. The same focus on duty that underlies the masculine position is horrified by this idea of the judiciary. The duty of the judiciary is to uphold, not make, the law. It is to judge constitutionality in order to preserve the Constitution, not to advance any other agenda. A political force that seeks judges who will advance their agenda in defiance of that duty is not acceptable. It does not matter if they are otherwise right, or otherwise wrong. The debate is pointless. They are demanding a class of public servant who will consider it proper to ignore core duties.

Nothing could be more unhealthy, or less likely to produce good government.

2 More

Two More Men to Admire:

Be sure to read both of these stories, which will inspire you. This is the kind of man America ought to produce.

The first story, via the Nation of Riflemen, is that of Walter Swita, a WWII vet who used his captured German Luger last week. He was defending his home against an intruder who had attacked and robbed him previously, and returned to rob his house:

“Watch out for the blood on the rug,” Swita, 83, said as he welcomed a reporter into the living room of his South Avenue home Monday. “That’s his blood. I hit my head on the TV stand when we fell.”


Swita, “shaking like a leaf,” said he sat down to call 911 to report the shooting. The call taker asked if the man who’d been shot was breathing. Swita said he told her he didn’t care.

He assumed the intruder would die because of the shot to the head. He doesn’t expect to be charged with any crime, reasoning that he just defended himself in his own home.

“Was I scared? You bet, both times, whoof!” Swita said, exhaling as he recalled the frightening encounters. “You don’t know what they’ll do to you. A witness said there were two [other] guys waiting on the sidewalk and they ran when they heard the shots.”
That goes to show you that, even at 83 years of age, you can still defend yourself and your home. All you need is the discipline and the tools.

The second story is from Southern Appeal, and speaks for itself.
For 40 exhausting minutes, Wayne Goldsberry battled a buck with his bare hands in his daughter's bedroom.

Goldsberry finally subdued the five-point whitetail deer that crashed through a bedroom window at his daughter's home Friday. When it was over, blood splattered the walls and the deer lay dead on the bedroom floor, its neck broken.


Zell Miller on Plame:

Former Senator, Governor, and Sergeant of Marines Zell Miller has written a piece on the Plame business. Zell thinks it was Plame and Wilson who decided to attempt to use her position at CIA to influence a domestic election.

It sounds unbelievable, a fiction, perhaps to be called "To Sting a King." But it is no fiction. This is the story behind Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson and the Bush administration. And it appears that Plame and Wilson will get away with the biggest sting operation ever.

No one seems to care that our intelligence agency has crippled our president. Certainly not the media. They are determined to make Wilson a hero. Recall the dozens of times the Washington Post and The New York Times carried his lies on the front page, above the fold. The conclusive story discrediting Wilson was buried 6 feet deep, back by the obituaries.

To the media, it doesn't matter that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence says Wilson lied about what he did and with whom he met while investigating Iraqi attempts to purchase "yellowcake" uranium.

To the media, it doesn't matter that the CIA says what Wilson did actually find supported that Iraq was attempting to buy the uranium — a direct contradiction to Wilson's public claims.
So far, that's my read on the situation as well. Maybe that's just how it looks to folks from the North Georgia mountains. Still, Zell was there in the Senate while this report was being generated. Maybe it's not surprising that he and I tend to see it the same way, as we come from the same part of the country and the same political tradition. All the same, I'm glad to hear him come to the same conclusions independently.

UPDATE: On the other hand, another man I respect comes to the conclusion I've been suggesting we avoid. In a piece called "The Secret Third Party," Froggy puts it this way:
I’m not talking about the Libertarians or the Greens; I’m talking about the CIA party. Partisans in the CIA and the State Department are waging a political battle against the President of the United States while at the same time providing much of the information the President needs to make foreign policy decisions. Have you ever wondered why the White House is so shy about touting the many successes in the Global War on Terror? Me too. The reason is that many bureaucrats at Langley seem to think that they are entitled to set the direction of US foreign policy instead of Chimpy Bushitlerburton the duly elected Commander in Chief and they are not afraid to leak damaging or even false information to make that happen.

Zell Miller has a very interesting piece (h/t Sean) out in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in which he quite convincingly postulates that this entire Niger/yellowcake kerfuffle was the result of a premeditated “sting operation” conducted by Valerie Plame using her husband Joe “Politics of Truth” Wilson as an unaccountable proxy to mischaracterize the situation in Niger publicly in an effort to influence the 2004 election. Unfortunately for the Wilsons, the British Butler Report and the Senate Intelligence Phase One Report on Pre-War Intelligence strongly rebuked their efforts. But a predictably complicit media made things interesting last November and has never stopped carrying the torch for the CIA and the Wilsons. Let’s not forget that George Tenet told the President two weeks before the War that Saddam’s possession of WMD was a “slam dunk”, and yet he allowed an active employee publish a book highly critical of the President’s decisions in the GWOT anonymously in the run up to his re-election campaign.
So, is there a wider conspiracy at CIA to influence American politics -- a 'secret third party'? The case of "Anonymous," which Froggy cites, is a useful way to examine the question.

Anonymous' real name is Michael Scheuer. He appeared recently at Grim's Hall, because of a skit he performed for the Air Force Association. He and Wilson are alike in exactly one way: both used their work for CIA as the basis for activity that was critical of the administration during an election cycle. Beyond that, the differences between them are more important and telling.

Wilson went and published a piece in the New York Times that was at variance with his report to CIA. He somehow -- I agree that exactly how is a question we'd benefit from having answered -- managed to avoid CIA secrecy regulations and agreements. Scheuer submitted himself to agency rules, requested permission for his book, and accepted Agency edits.

Wilson spread a series of flat untruths into the media to try and create a false impression among Americans. Scheuer fundamentally believes everything he has written, and is making an argument to the American people. I happen to believe it is wrong, but it is an honest argument.

Wilson, both before and since, has been an activist. His purpose has always been political. Scheuer, since leaving CIA, has been trying to help the military understand his position. His main purpose is not political change, but improving the GWOT according to his best understanding. As I said in the piece on his AFA skit, I think his central mistake is not realizing how well informed and educated the military actually is already. Still, while he reads disagreement as ignorance, his response is to try and educate. He may be a jackass, but he's an honest jackass who is trying to help America's war effort. Wilson is, as he has always been, trying to destabilize it.

I don't have a problem with people like Scheuer. I think they're wrong, but I respect their work and am willing to consider their arguments -- even if I reject the largest parts of it, as I did with his AFA argument.

If the CIA is full of people like Scheuer, it's a problem, but it's a problem only because it limits intellectual diversity at the Agency. It contributes to the groupthink and stovepiping that were the core problems uncovered in the Senate Select Committee report. It's not a problem because of the fact that they sometimes come to the wrong conclusions, or because they are operating from the wrong premises. Having people who think about these issues differently is a strength, because even when they're wrong they compel those who are right to think their position through more carefully. Plus, no one is always wrong, just like no one is always right. The problem for CIA is a lack of competitive viewpoints, not the inclusion of Scheuer's viewpoint.

Even though my sense is that spies are essentially untrustworthy and dishonorable, I'm not ready to believe that CIA is engaged in a grand conspiracy against its own government. I think most of the people at CIA -- who are not spies but analysts and technicians -- are honest patriots, and that even among the spies there are some who are amoral patriots rather than immoral actors. The CIA, as Zell points out, has strong internal rules designed to control their spies.

For now, I'm not ready to accept that the CIA as an institution is involved in conspiracies. The example of Scheuer seems to me to suggest that even some with strong dislike for the administration and its policies behave honestly and honorably in their actions. Scheuer felt he needed to take an argument to America, out from beyond the wall of secrecy. Good -- we need people to feel they can do that, when they think it's really important. Secrecy is an enemy to the republican nature of the government, and it should be possible for the Agency's denizens to speak directly when they feel they really must. Scheuer submitted himself to the rules and controls. I disagree with him and his argument, but I don't think he did wrong by making that argument.

The case of Wilson, however, appears to be one of genuine bad-acting. How we resolve it will say a lot about how serious we're prepared to be where issues of this sort are concerned. The likelihood of a genuine conspiracy by intelligence officers in the future is greatly increased if the response to this kind of manipulation is muted. To prevent the monster Froggy draws from becoming a reality, we need to treat seriously with this business.


Re-Debating the War:

Yesterday's closed session by the Honorable Mr. Reid and Durbin was certainly, as it has been described, a political stunt. Their ready-made statements for the press is one evidence of that; another is the fact that Reid himself occupies an ex officio seat on the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence by virtue of his position as Minority leader, and thus could have applied whatever pressure he felt was necessary from the inside. I think, as I said in the comments to Eric's post, that the point here is to cover the forthcoming surrender on Alito with a big nasty debate over the administration's alleged manipulation of pre-war intelligence related to Iraqi WMD.

You can't blame the Democratic Party leadership for this, as they have no alternative. The National Party must keep their base inflamed in order to maintain the level of political donations, which was for the first time last year on par with Republican donations. Yet they cannot win on Alito, because enough of the "Gang of 14" have already pledged to oppose a filibuster that using the filibuster would only result in its removal as a tool. Alito would still be approved, and in the case of future nominees, there would be no filibuster to fall back upon. Besides, Alito was approved unanimously in previous votes and, in spite of having participated in one notable dissent that will draw liberal fire, he has a balanced record on the law that is plainly not the mark of an extremist. Pulling out all the stops on a well-qualified, judicious candidate is not a winning strategy.

So it's to be the war again. We've already had the first of the Senate Select Committee reports, which examined the ways in which the intelligence community utterly failed to perform in the runup to the war. Now the pressure is on to complete and put out a second report, one that focuses on the administration's alleged manipulations. The hope must be to keep the Left fired up, and perhaps score a few points, by investigating the administration in a public way.


We will all benefit from such an investigation. It is certainly the Senate's job to perform one. Meanwhile, it may finally resolve questions that continue to dog this nation. Not all of these questions are coming from what we've been calling "bad actors," like Joe Wilson. I'm thinking, for example, of Colonel Sam Gardiner. Gardiner wrote a piece a while back called "Truth from these Podia," which alleged a number of manipulations of the domestic press coming out of the Pentagon.

Gardiner is, to judge from his past work at the War College and his publications, an intelligent and insightful man. He is also, to judge from TftP, a man who has entered into a kind of collective paranoia: in the introduction he reports that several parties to whom he showed his data before publishing it had promised him he 'would be punished.' Well, it's been a little while now, and as far as I can tell, he hasn't been: when he first put the thing out, he was supplementing his pension by giving interviews on US military policy to foreign media. These days, it seems he doesn't have to: he's been working with prominent US media, as well as fringe publications. Certainly, if he's suffered at all from an evil conspiracy, it's not immediately evident.

An investigation of this sort is just what he's been calling for, and I'll be glad to see it. I know quite a few people like Col. Gardiner: sharp, smart, patriotic people who have come to believe, for one reason and another, that America is in the grip of a band of evil liars. It is one thing for teenage anarchists to believe that, but quite another to find patriots believing it. We will benefit from exposing the whole business to the sunshine.

The "bad actors" won't be satisfied, of course; and those whose main interest is political will claim not to be, or will simply ignore the report when it arrives (as they have ignored the first one). We owe these people nothing, except contempt.

There remain also the honest patriots, though, who have become concerned for their nation. America owes its patriots an accounting. Those who have loved and believed in her, fought for her, and served her, they have a right to be heard by her. For the Colonel, then, and for others I have known like him, I will be glad to support the investigation. Doubtless it will bring a storm of political opportunism and nasty rhetoric. May the sunshine that comes in the wake of the storm, however, be bright enough to restore the faith of our patriots in this great nation.

Or -- if they are right, as seems highly unlikely but is not impossible -- may it blast the wicked. Either way, we shall be well served.



I will be in St. Paul this weekend. While I have a busy schedule, I'd be glad to meet with any of the regulars, should it prove that any of you live in the area. Any readers in the area who would like to get together for a beer (or coffee, as you like), drop me an email.

The Democrats are not getting their monies' worth.

So, as Uncle Jumbo predicted, Aspersions are already being heaped on Judge Alito.

However, if this redstate.org post is correct, they didn't cover their tracks very well. Be sure to follow the links. (via Hugh Hewitt)

I just love the internet.

More commentary on this can be found at Captain's Quarters.

If the Democrats keep looking like fools like this, the judge is going to get confirmed. Probably without any real fight too.

Was Meiers really a head-fake? I begin to wonder.


Project Valor-IT:

This got put off for quite a while following Katrina. Nevertheless, it was and remains an important charity. It seeks to purchase voice-activated computer technology for use at hospitals so that veterans, maimed by IEDs and other attacks, can remain connected with family in their hardest days. The folks at Fuzzilicious have started a fundraising challenge, here.

There's a USMC team. So, if you're inclined to make a contribution...

elite opinion

Two Elite Opinions:

As we know, elite opinion is very important on matters relating to the Supreme Court. Here, then, are the opinions of two of America's elite.

Former Navy SEAL Froggy says:

You know it’s a good nomination when all the right people are pissed off about it. Just like voting for the California initiatives, looking at the opponents is probably more revealing than looking at the supporters.... Slick move of the day goes to the President for having nominated a candidate from the home state and judicial circuit of Judicial Committee Chairman Specter. This puts the squishy pro-abortion Republican in the position of having to consider the ramifications of punching out a fellow Pennsylvanian while attempting to reconcile that conflict with his fawning NARAL buddies. Touche' Mr. President!
Former Special Forces blogger Uncle Jimbo says:
What we will get is a serious look at some of the most important issues of our times in the confirmation war. Abortion, gay marriage, racial preferences, all will be part of this discussion and that is needed. We have tap danced around them for too long. Let's get the cards on the table and see what the American people think about them. That is a side advantage of a confirmation fight, we get to air the most contentious issues and hear the opinions of the intelligentsia on both sides.

The biggest danger for Dems is not if he is confirmed, it is if they filibuster. That would be political suicide. The public is well in favor of an up or down vote and the Dems could really lose any chance they have of seeming reasonable, plus their least palatable members are about to lose their minds about this guy. That will spill over to anyone who gets out with them in shrill opposition to him. I expect to hear him called a racist, misogynist oppressor and all the money NARAL and the rest have banked will be spent smearing him in any number of vile ways.
Two for two, then.


Good Rifle News:

Looks like the XM8 may not make the cut after all. The Army has chosen to pull the solicitation in order to "reevaluate its priorites for small caliber weapons, and... incorporate emerging requirements[.]" Hopefully one of those requirements is a caliber in the .30 range.


Gotta Love Patton:

This month's issue of Equus has an article called "A Remarkable Rescue," which deals with General George S. Patton Jr.'s salvation of the Lipizzan stallion. The Red Army was advancing on Vienna, and had already captured one of two riding schools that still taught the old cavalry techniques on the Lipizzan breed. The Russians, understandably but tragically, slaughtered the rare horses for food. The Vienna school managed, in spite of war necessities, to secure space to ship their stallions westwards -- to surrender them to Patton.

Patton, it turns out, was not only a cavalryman but a former Olympic horseman. He was just the right man. The master of the school, Podhajsky, managed to win an audience to demonstrate the horses and their techniques to Patton on the last day before Germany's surrender. It's a great story, and worth the cover price if you happen to be interested in grabbing an issue.

The best part, though, is the photograph of Patton on the reviewing stand. All the other officers around him are wearing their side caps, but not Patton. He's standing right there wearing his mirror-polished combat helmet, like always. "Be always ready with your armor on," as Baden-Powell put it.

Things not to do w/ broken toe

Things You Can, and Can't, Do With a Broken Toe:

Yesterday I hiked six miles out the White Oak Canyon, up to a beautiful 86-foot waterfall. It's smallish by comparison to 729-foot Amicalola Falls, which I suggest to anyone, but a nice hike all the same. While I was out there, I climbed up a cliff face some hundred feet or so, just to amuse the three-year old who wanted to see me do it.

All that was through the miracle of duct tape, plus good quality boots.

Today, I decided to leave the tape off, and accidentally set my foot down slightly hard in the kitchen. The bones at once re-broke. $#%@#!

So: six-mile hike across broken ground, yes; climb cliff faces, yes; walk around the kitchen, apparently not. Apparently there's something rather important about immobilizing the fractured bone for a long period of time. Well, I'm to fly on Friday; we'll see what TSA has to say about it when I take off my shoes for the scanner.

"Is that duct tape?"

"Why, er... yes, yes it is."


Ode to England:

This ode, which is entitled "I Hate England," may be the most complimentary account of the English I have ever read. It ends poorly, as if the author hadn't realized what he'd said; but the first two-thirds is as fine an account of a genuinely noble people as you will find.



Apparently it's time for the next go-round on the Supreme Court appointment. Most of us don't follow judges' careers, but the blogosphere includes quite a few people who do.

The boys at Southern Appeal have been talking about Alito all last week. They can provide you with a sense of what conservative lawyers think about the man, and what his history on the bench and resume provide. They had posts, from earliest to most recent, starting here, and then here, here (a personal anecdote), here, here, here (a cartoon), and here (a parody song). Overall, the mood appears to be one of joy.

SCOTUSblog provides the view from the left, which is respectful of the man's accomplishments but concerned about his philosophy.

Bush, a President who has refused repeatedly to govern from the center, maintained that approach in selecting a judge who is well known as a committed conservative.

Liberal observers of the Court immediately pointed to a handful of Judge Alito's opinions on the Third Circuit as indications of just how conservative they expect him to be. Among those cited, for example, by americanprogress.org were these: 1991, supporting abortion restrictions, in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision that later went to the Supreme Court and led to the partial reaffirmation of Roe v. Wade; in 1997, in Bray v. Marriott Hotels, seeming to endorse a limited view of minorities' job rights; in 1991, in Nathanson v. Medical College, appearing to embrace tougher standard for asserting disability rights; in 2000, in Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, finding that Congress had gone too far in passing the Family and Medical Leave Act; in 2004, in Doe v. Groody, embracing broader police search power, including strip searches; and in 2004, Dia v. Ashcroft and Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, taking a hard line against immigrants' rights.

Alito has a lengthy resume, filled with strong indications that he is qualified professionally. Those who know him personally, and those who have served with him and appeared before the Third Circuit, have said he is an even-tempered individual. Some expect him to attempt to become a consensus-builder on the Supreme Court, and to be less aggressive in advancing his conservative views than Justice Antonin Scalia is known to be.
Dave Kopel has tried to sort out Alito's 2nd Amendment views, without much success.

Volokh has some talk about Alito this morning (Kerr is "very pleased"), as well as this Kelo post which is not related but interesting on its own terms.

Nothing from Bainbridge yet, but check back. He was one of the leading opponents of Miers, for conservative reasons, and should provide some useful reading on the topic when he has time.