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Indiana Jones 4 To Start Filming in ‘07


Man, I hope it’s good. I have lost all faith in Lucas, and I trust Spielberg less than I used to. But I am an optimist.

Althouse Cont’d


She responds to Ron Bailey here. Radley Balko has an interesting response to Althouse here.


AP Bends to the Power of the Corner!


Okay, I don’t know that we get credit. But they did change the header to:   “Critics Comment on Executing Saddam.

Web Briefing: December 20, 2014

Astrophysical Relations Plus!


Cool video of various stellar bodies , with a social commentary kicker at the end. No spoiler from me. 


Poor Saddam


CNN is worrying about the cruel and unusual hanging of the dictator: “Will Saddam suffer in death?” (The audience answers: “well, it would be what he deserves…”)

Welk No Racist!


Me, scoffing at the very un-black composers of public school “Winter Concert” Kwanzaa songs in my December Diary.

“I note that Ms. Albrecht and Mr. Emerson have about as much blackness between the both of them as the cast of the Lawrence Welk show.”

A vigilant reader:  “Derb—Regarding the ethnic makeup of the Lawrence Welk Show, have you forgotten Arthur Duncan?  

[Me again]  Curses!  All I can plead in my defense is that I was not the most committed viewer of the Lawrence Welk Show.  Not by a long way.  A long, long way.

A Good Cause


If some of  you out there want to give more in this season of giving, you may want to check out this NYT story today about a sad turn of events in Iraq.  In particular, see the last few ‘graphs for what appears to be a very, very worthy cause. 

Here is the backstory on this very exceptional young man.

UPDATE:  A reader sends along the following:


I talked with Mrs. Childs this morning and she sent me the donation information. His parents are in the air now on their way to D.C. now and Dustin is due to arrive at Andrews then Bethesda later tonight.

Should anyone ask, a donation account has been opened for Dustin and his family at Bank of America.  Anyone wishing to make a donation may take it to any Bank of America or simply send to:

Dustin E. Kirby Medical Fund

c/o Bank of America

2765 Veteran’s Memorial Hwy

Austell, GA  30168

Re: Trent Franks and Hunter


Methinks Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) choice for president in ‘08 may have something to do with the committee he serves on in Congress.  Franks is a member of the House Armed Services Committee — the panel that until the, um, recent unpleasantness Duncan Hunter chaired. 

Hume Horan on Saddam


Hume Horan, perhaps the most talented State Department Arabist in a generation, continue to ring true.  He succumbed to cancer less than a month after the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq.  Below are thoughts he sketched out in a November 2003 e-mail:

On Muqtada al-Sadr: “Arrest him, anytime, anyplace, as soon as possible. No matter what. His expanding thuggishness reinforces Iraqis’ belief that we tolerate him because he divides the Shi‘ites, and thus leaves us masters of Iraqi politics and of Iraqi oil. Otherwise how could the greatest power in the world, which destroyed Saddam’s mighty army, shrugged off Arab rage and the opposition of its European allies, not respond to al-Sadr’s provocations? Al-Sadr has money, and many ruthless supporters; if he continues unchecked, July 1 [2004] might set off a gang war between rival militias.”

On Saddam Hussein: “I bet every Iraqi politician (outside of the Sunni triangle) prays that we catch Saddam, before July 1 [2004]. So long as his pug marks can be seen in the morning around our campfire, Iraqis will not sleep soundly. And for too many reasons to enumerate, he must be killed. No Iraqi legal system could cope with Saddam alive. We can pooh-pooh the likelihood of his ever making a comeback. But just that simple word ‘comeback’ must bring on a fainting spell for the likes of Governor [Iskandar] Witwit [of Hillah], who saw his brother’s head hacked off in front of him.”

Transfer of Sovereignty: “I don’t know whether the Iraqis will be ready for independence. But after July 1, we’ll honestly be able to say to ourselves, and to the world, that we left Iraq freer than we found it, that we showed an altruism that may be incomprehensible to the peoples of the Middle East, and that we gave the Iraqis a new chance to plot their destiny and make their own mistakes.”

re: Nobody Favors Saddam’s Execution


Of course, the Iraqis do favor capital punishment and that’s what matters. His death will be broadly popular, just as the deaths of his sons were. Human Rights Watch is free to lobby against capital punishment, but it is indefensible that Human Rights Watch told the Iraqi tribunal that HRW would withhold evidence it had removed from iraq in 1991 about the chemical attacks on the Iraqi Kurds unless the Tribunal agreed to abandon the death penalty. And, it is rich that so many European governments that once enabled Saddam now take such a stand. Had various governments—the U.S. government included—abandoned their “realist” notions for a few moments and taken a no-nonsense toward Saddam’s human rights abuses in the 1980s, he may not have spun so far out of control. Will there be an upsurge in violence? Terrorists will use it as an excuse—all the better to get media attention and shake confidence—but Baathist insurgents privately say they will be glad to see Saddam go. He long since stopped being an entity. Unrepentant Baathists blame Saddam for their downfall just as unrepentant Communists blame Mikhail Gorbachev. Attacks will continue apace, though, all the more so as Baathists compete to fill the void.

“Hero” Cat Exposed


That “hero” cat  who supposedly saved his family from a cigarette-sparked fire (See the first post of the day) has been exposed.

Hunting for an Alternative?


Trent Franks — Republican congressman from Arizonais endorsing Duncan Hunter for president.


Romney on the Record


Human Events asks him about Iraq, gay marriage, health care, etc. Here’s the exchange on abortion:

Now on domestic issues, in a recent interview with National Review Online, you addressed concerns that conservatives have raised about your previous views on abortion. I’m wondering, why should conservatives believe you when you say you’re now pro-life despite some previous statements you’ve made on that subject?

Conservatives, of course, can make their own assessment. But the great thing is people don’t have to look at what people say, they can look at what they do.

When I was running for office 12 years ago, there were a number of things that I said and felt at that time that, with the benefit of experience, I have a different view today. One of those is abortion.

As governor, I’ve had several pieces of legislation reach my desk, which would have expanded abortion rights in Massachusetts. Each of those I vetoed. Every action I’ve taken as the governor that relates to the sanctity of human life, I have stood on the side of life.

So talk is cheap, but action is real. And people can now look at my record.

The Mormon Thing & The Religion Thing More Generally


Saddam and Iraq


Re: Nobody Favors Saddam’s Execution


This brings up an interesting point. 

I was ambivalent at best about the death penalty until I worked on terrorism cases.  Having been in government for many years, and seeing how screwed up (which is to say, human) it can be, I was not thrilled at the machinery of death, an incorrigible penalty, being in the hands of the state.  Also, though I am a lapsed Catholic at best, I remained troubled that there was probably a lesson intended for us in Jesus’ execution at the hands of the state.  I wasn’t convinced there was, or that I was necessarily divining the right lesson, but it was certainly cause for pause. 

Finally, a lot of the bad law prosecutors have to deal with (growing out of the defendants’ rights revolution of the 60′s and 70′s) arises from death penalty cases.  That is, philosophical opposition to the death penalty was so strong that in several cases — there having been in those cases no legal problem with the sentencing proceedings themselves — scrutinizing courts discovered flaws in other aspects of the trials (having nothing specifically to do with capital punishment).  Those discoveries naturally took on constitutional dimension … such that they were then applied to the benefit of every criminal, whether it was a death penalty case or not.  It seemed to me to be way too high a price to pay just to execute the occasional murderer, however, heinous.

National security cases, though, are different.  Someone like Saddam is destabilizing in a war for national survival as long as he lives.  Jihadists, similarly, become much more influential in the jihadist world when they have been convicted for acts of terrorism and are imprisoned. 

Bin Laden, for example, credits the Blind Sheik for the fatwa that authorized the 9/11 attacks — issued in 1996 when the Blind Shiek was in prison serving his life sentence.  Sayyid Nosair became a player among radicals after he killed Meir Kahane in 1990 — and was thus able to inspire and participate in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, from jail.  And bin Laden’s close associate, Mamdou Salim, maimed a prison guard in New York during a hostage-taking/escape attempt, while he was awaiting trial for the 1998 embassy bombings.

These “defendants” are enemy combatants, not just criminals.  Their survival has to be weighed against the safety of the nation, not just individuals they might endanger.  That tilts the scales, heavily in my view, in favor of their execution.

re: Rago


The kid sure knows how to make a name for himself on the blogosphere, even if he hates the thing.

Romney Trouble in Michigan?


Nobody Favors Saddam’s Execution


That’s the impression you’d get if you read this really quite shocking AP round-up.



Sen. Joe Lieberman, just returned from the Middle East, has a very strong op-ed in the Washington Post today (which is one of NRO’s “Hot Links” today). A few key excerpts:

[L]et there be no doubt: If Iraq descends into full-scale civil war, it will be a tremendous battlefield victory for al-Qaeda and Iran. Iraq is the central front in the global and regional war against Islamic extremism. …

In Baghdad and Ramadi, I found that it was the American colonels, even more than the generals, who were asking for more troops. In both places these soldiers showed a strong commitment to the cause of stopping the extremists. One colonel followed me out of the meeting with our military leaders in Ramadi and said with great emotion, “Sir, I regret that I did not have the chance to speak in the meeting, but I want you to know on behalf of the soldiers in my unit and myself that we believe in why we are fighting here and we want to finish this fight. We know we can win it.”

In nearly four years of war, there have never been sufficient troops dispatched to accomplish our vital mission. The troop surge should be militarily meaningful in size, with a clearly defined mission.

More U.S. forces might not be a guarantee of success in this fight, but they are certainly its prerequisite. Just as the continuing carnage in Baghdad empowers extremists on all sides, establishing security there will open possibilities for compromise and cooperation on the Iraqi political front — possibilities that simply do not exist today because of the fear gripping all sides. …

As the hostile regimes in Iran and Syria appreciate — at times, it seems, more keenly than we do — failure in Iraq would be a strategic and moral catastrophe for the United States and its allies. Radical Islamist terrorist groups, both Sunni and Shiite, would reap victories simultaneously symbolic and tangible, as Iraq became a safe haven in which to train and strengthen their foot soldiers and Iran’s terrorist agents. Hezbollah and Hamas would be greatly strengthened against their moderate opponents. One moderate Palestinian leader told me that a premature U.S. exit from Iraq would be a victory for Iran and the groups it is supporting in the region. Meanwhile, the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have bravely stood with us in the hope of a democratic future would face the killing fields.

In Iraq today we have a responsibility to do what is strategically and morally right for our nation over the long term — not what appears easier in the short term. The daily scenes of death and destruction are heartbreaking and infuriating. But there is no better strategic and moral alternative for America than standing with the moderate Iraqis until the country is stable and they can take over their security. Rather than engaging in hand-wringing, carping or calls for withdrawal, we must summon the vision, will and courage to take the difficult and decisive steps needed for success and, yes, victory in Iraq. That will greatly advance the cause of moderation and freedom throughout the Middle East and protect our security at home.


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