Friday, March 30, 2007

Anemic Posting

Posting is apt to be slow for the next week or so, and through at least some of April. Tomorrow is moving day at work -- and garage sale day at home. We're cleaning the house up to sell it, and I'm involved in the kiddo-baseball auction, which gets pretty serious over the next couple of weeks.
I have a couple of half-baked posts, which I will get to finishing as time allows: on the British Royal Navy, on the US Navy, the chances of war with Iran, and the loons running things in Congress. But they will have to wait for the moment.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Iranian Hostage Games

The Iranian regime says that the 15 British sailors and marines seized by Naval Pasdaran units are "well" and it is considering charging them with illegally entering its waters.
Next they'll be calling the inflatable boats the Britons were using "nests of spies" and claiming that they're sorry, but from a distance the British boats looked a lot like foreign embassies. Maybe I'm behind the curve and they're doing this already: as both Captain Ed at Captain's Quaters and Wretchard at Belmont Club point out -- the Iranian threat to try these uniformed British sailors and Royal Marines as spies violates Article 46 of Protocol I of the Geneva Convention of 1977. (To be fair, the Iranians have signed this, but never ratified it, although customary International Law, which binds everybody, accomplishes the same object). Funny how none of the usual Lefty suspects can be troubled to look up from their Abu Ghraib photographs to notice this. I guess, for them, only Bush and America violate international law.
The Persians do love the hostage game don't they ? Probably they will keep loving it until they lose an oil port or something.
The Iranians are clearly playing games, but it should be remembered that this is at least the second time that such an incident has occured in the waters near the Iranian/Iraqi frontier. Why was there no resistance ? Did the British have no communications devices to call for help ?
I wonder what orders the captured British personnel had regarding challenges from Iranians ? Surely this possibility was considered. I wonder whether the captured personnel had rules of engagement precluding resistance; whether such would have been hopeless; and, finally, (given that this is a disputed, contentious border area), whether there were stronger British units in supporting distance ?
I cannot fathom why the local commanders would leave their sailors hanging out vulnerable to capture in this manner. That's not the Royal Navy that used to run the world. I strongly suspect that political considerations were in play, and the British commanders have orders to avoid lethal incidents with Iranians. But if this is the case, why were those sailors and marines mucking about near the border ?
The Iranians are at fault, and need to be slapped down. But the British have some questions to answer.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Impeachment, Chapter LXIII million

Senator Chuck Hagel, (Supposedly R, Nebraska), seems to think that President Bush could face impeachment because he's not falling in line with the cut-and-run faction on Iraq. Meanwhile, Hagel apparently is thinking about running for President in 2008.
Just which party does Senator Hagel think will nominate him ?
Senator Hagel's a gadfly, and gadflies talk like Hagel does, but, unfortunately, the Senator might not be far wrong. I've said for a long time that November 2004's results meant that impeachment was a real possibility. Nothing the President has done remotely justifies impeachment: but the Left-wing bigwigs now running things on Capitol Hill are in a real political quandry. The Lefties are, for the moment, a few votes shy of being able to shut down the war. They have the ability to make it impossible to appropriate funds to carry on the war, but nobody sane wants to do this, because it will put the left in the position of cutting off money for the soldiers. Now the Lefties would LOVE to do that, and to defund the military generally, but they would pay, in short order, a hefty political price.
Balked at stopping the war, the Lefties must seek their pound of flesh elsewhere. The first installment is likely to be Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, probably via this stupid US attorney "scandal." It wouldn't matter if President Bush had fired ALL the US Attorneys, or if he did so tomorrow, it would still be legal, and no scandal. No matter: the Democrats' best weapon is their ability to subpoena, and make headlines, and there's enough raw tinder out there to start a good blaze. If the Democrats can't stop the war: they can possibly bag a few Bush appointees, and maybe get articles of impeachment through the House.
It may be an interesting fall.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Trip to the Country

Back from an overnight trip to the country place last night (just the Jefe). All the wildflowers are out, and our little place even has some Bluebonnets, an Indian Paintbrush or three, and scads of dandelions.
Mid-spring is some of the best weather Texas has to offer, and this morning turned out to be very pleasant, although a few clouds showed up during the course of my morning to keep the sunshine honest. All the animals were being noisy. Looked around for some of our local reptiles, but didn't see any -- which perhaps is best for all concerned.
Enjoyed a passable merlot with my dinner last night, and listened to some Sir Edward Elgar; including his Symphony No. 2 (the fourth movement Moderato e maestoso is among my favorite pieces of music, period). Read my books and fooled with my papers; and watched an old movie. Turned out to be a nice evening, even though I forgot the laptop.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Democrats Run Up The White Flag; Iranians Say "Hands Up !"

By a majority of six rats 218-212, the House of Representatives voted to stab the war effort in the back and require President Bush to withdraw our forces from Iraq no later than September of 2008.
Nancy Pelosi (D-People’s Republic of San Francisco) tells us: “[t]he American people have lost faith in the President’s conduct of this war.” Well of course they’ve lost faith, Madam Speaker, because you and the other flaming lefty idiots in your repulsive party have done your level best for four years to wreck it.
President Bush has promised to veto such legislation in the event the Senate fails in its duty to stop it. But with a majority in the House apparently determined to include such disgraceful surrender language in a war spending bill, it is difficult to see how the war can be carried on.
This simplifies the enemy's problems immeasurably. Courtesy of the Democrats (who don't care who wins, so long as Bush loses), the Iraq rebels -- and their suppliers -- can now calculate exactly how long they have to wait us out. Persons sitting on the fence now know for sure that we are leaving in the foreseeable future. Now that there is no possibility of our staying in the war till the job is done enough for the government to successfully supress the rebellion on its own, do you think it is fence-sitters will support the government, or work their passage with the rebels ?
While the Democrats fall all over themselves in their eagerness to surrender, the Iranians laugh at us and our allies by seizing 15 British sailors. Why not ? The Iranians have good reason to suspect they’ll get away with it, don’t they ?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Left and International Law

We have built no temple but the Capitol, we consult no common oracle but the Constitution.

Rufus Choate, member of the US House of Representatives, 1833.

. . .an American I was born and an American I have remained all my life. I can never be anything else but an American, and I must think of the United States first, and when I think of the United States first in an arrangement like this, I am thinking what is best for the world. For if the United States fails, the best hopes of mankind fail with it. I have never had but one allegiance–I cannot divide it now. I have never loved but one flag and I cannot share that devotion and give affection to the mongrel banner invented for the League. Internationalism, illustrated by the Bolshevik and by the men to whom all countries are alike provided they can make money out of them, is to me repulsive.

National I must remain, and in that way I like all other Americans can render the amplest service to the world. . .

Henry Cabot Lodge in the Senate, 12 August 1919, speech opposing the League of Nations.

John Nichols, writing in The Nation's blog online thinks its time to "start talking" about impeaching President Bush.

Finished yawning yet ? Of course The Nation thinks that its time to start talking about impeaching the President: it no doubt would have supported impeaching President Bush even before he was inaugurated or otherwise flaying him alive even without the President’s claiming the seat desired by the sainted ALGORE. It's probably safe to assume The Nation has impeachment on the brain, and has never stopped talking about it. I'm visualizing a ginormous cuckoo clock in The Nation's editorial offices: with Bush's face on it -- and every hour the cuckoo (strangely resembling Maureen Dowd) --pops out and shrieks "Impeach !"
Still, The Nation’s latest Storm the Winter Palace screed did contain something interesting: a lengthy quotation from the usually tiresome moonbat lefty Dennis Kucinich on the floor of the House of Representatives. To be sure, Representative Kucinich is tiresome on this occasion also, but on with the show. Congressman Kucinich said, inter alia:

. . .The Administration has been preparing for an aggressive war against Iran. There is no solid, direct evidence that Iran has the intention of attacking the United States or its allies.

The US is a signatory to the UN Charter, a constituent treaty among the nations of the world. Article II, Section 4 of the UN Charter states, "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. . ." Even the threat of a war of aggression is illegal.

Article VI of the US Constitution makes such treaties the Supreme Law of the Land. This Administration, has openly threatened aggression against Iran in violation of the US Constitution and the UN Charter.
This week the House Appropriations committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to seek permission before it launched an attack against Iran.
Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran.
I know I’m losing sleep at night, hoping against hope that Representative Kucinich and his brave minions will be successful in protecting plucky little harmless Iran from aggression by the Imperialist Bush administration !
Okay, not.
Mr. Kucinich’s and The Nation’s vaporings aside, this Kucinich rant is of interest because it so completely and faithfully parrots a favored conceit of the Left -- the concept that international law trumps US law, or the Constitution. I’m never sure if the Lefties pushing this stuff actually believe it; are just plain ignorant; or, if it’s their wish-dream to see the US tied down like Gulliver by the international law/NGO crowd. I strongly suspect the latter. In any case: the concept that international law trumps domestic law, a favorite shibboleth of the Left – and the view supposedly held (of course) in Europe – is not always valid here.
It is quite enough that we pay for the UN, it is much too much to require us to actually listen to it. Fortunately, Representative Kucinich is quite wrong about the requirements of the law.
In the United States, a treaty (such as, say, the UN Charter), stands on the same basis as Federal legislation. This means that its obligations, so far as the US are concerned, can be modified by subsequent legislation, even if this amounts to a “violation” of the treaty. The international position of the US on such a treaty is a political matter, to be resolved between sovereign governments.
As far as American law is concerned, the last action in time controls. Moreover – to the extent that a treaty contravenes the Constitution – it can be held unconstitutional by the Courts, and thus of no effect. Executive Agreements and similar international “laws” which do not enjoy the status of treaties are on an even weaker footing. Finally, by virtue of the Supreme Court's dismissal of Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 (1979) -- the President apparently has the power to unilaterally abrogate a treaty without obtaining the consent of Congress. Goldwater involved complaints by Senators, including Barry Goldwater, concerning President Carter's termination of a defense treaty with the Republic of China (Taiwan).
One assumes that Representative Kucinich knows all this, although I’m less certain of his fellow inhabitants of the lefty fever-swamps. In any case, most Lefties seem content to have the US take its cues from foreigners and follow their mongrel banners: tying America down with "international law," even to our country's detriment. No thank you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Busy Signal

Sorry El Jefe hasn't been posting much, but I have a good excuse. Well, I have an excuse, at any rate. As I used to explain to both Madame, The Mother of the Jefeist of El Jefes and my Sixth Grade math teacher: "better a bad excuse than no excuse at all."
Between house-hunting (found one), spring break and such, I didn't get much done last week, and now I'm behind the 8-ball of needing to complete a Motion for Summary Judgment -- that's legalese for a truckload of paper. Then there's the Little League Baseball auction I volunteered to help with. To make matters worse, the State Bar frowns on lawyers who don't complete their continuing education requirements by the end of their birth month. . .so I'm spending evenings listening to seminars on computer rather than figuring out ways to singe Mad Jad's beard.
Finally, there's the occasional party or three, and, helas, El Jefe loves parties, and finds them more interesting than wacko-baiting. All of this adds up to some serious slacking-off in the blog production department. No doubt things will resume their normal course, soon enough.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Better A Trip to the Dentist for Multiple Root Canals

Did I mention I HATE house hunting, selling, buying, dealing, cleaning ? Better a double orchiectomy.
Okay, not that. We'll leave it at a trip to the dentist.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Light Posting

Light posting this week, for lots of reasons. It's Spring Break. . .which works out to a busier time for me at home and at work (with the Heir and other folks on vacation).

Also, the El Jefe Imperial Household is, (somewhat), in the market for a larger palace, and we've been casa-hunting of late. We're easy: looking for something simple and home-like. You know, kinda like this place.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Go See 300

There's a new film out, called 300, about the Battle of Thermopylae, in 480 B.C. In this battle King Leonidas of Sparta and his greatly outnumbered force of 10,000 or so (300 Spartans, plus 700 or so Thespians and from 5000-9000 other Greeks) -- held the pass there against King Xerxes I and his Persian army of almost 200,000.
Some estimates gave Xerxes almost a million, some two million, but this is ludicrous, even with fleets in close support, he couldn't have fed this many.
Now this stand by the Greeks was very brave, and the courage of King Leonidas and his army should not in any way be questioned, but the military sense of the Spartan King is another matter. Mountains or hills are no shield for an outnumbered force that cannot or will not maneuver. Anywhere shepherds or goats can go will have paths.
King Leonidas should have, and possibly did -- expect to be flanked on his left through the hills -- as the Gauls did to a Greek army here in 297 B.C., and the Romans under Manius Acilius Glabrio would do to a Seleucid army in this same position much later, in 191 B.C.; and, finally, as the German Army's 6th Mountain Division and 5th Panzer Division did to a British force here on the night of 24-25 April 1941. In any case, as is well known, King Xerxes's troops found paths around the Greek flank, and put paid to King Leonidas and at least a part of his army. The stand here did not slow up the Persian advance into Greece to any degree that mattered. King Xerxes and his army and navy went on to lose the Battle of Salamis, but it's debatable whether this had anything to do with the much ballyhooed stand at Thermopylae.
Truth in blogging -- I've always found the ancient Romans much more interesting than the ancient Greeks -- possibly I'm prejudiced. I wasn't planning to see 300.
However, my plans have changed -- I'm going to go watch 300, and I recommend that all of you do too. Wretchard over at Belmont Club called my attention to Dana Stevens's review in Slate, trashing 300.
If 300, the new battle epic based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, had been made in Germany in the mid-1930s, it would be studied today alongside The Eternal Jew as a textbook example of how race-baiting fantasy and nationalist myth can serve as an incitement to total war. . . .
. . .The comic fanboys who make up 300's primary audience demographic aren't likely to get hung up on the movie's historical content, much less any parallels with present-day politics. But what's maddening about 300 (besides the paralyzing monotony of watching chiseled white guys make shish kebabs from swarthy Persians for 116 indistinguishable minutes) is that no one involved—not Miller, not Snyder, not one of the army of screenwriters, art directors, and tech wizards who mounted this empty, gorgeous spectacle—seems to have noticed that we're in the middle of an actual war. With actual Persians (or at least denizens of that vast swath of land once occupied by the Persian [E]mpire). . . .
One of the few war movies I've seen in the past two decades that doesn't include at least some nod in the direction of antiwar sentiment, 300 is a mythic ode to righteous bellicosity.
Cool. Anything that gets the Politically Correct types all worried about shish-kebabing Persians (as if there were anything wrong with that), that makes "no nods to antiwar sentiment" and has "righteous bellicosity" absolutely has to be worth seeing. Since, as Ms. Stevens points out: ". . .we're in the middle [actually on the verge of] of an actual war. . .[w]ith actual Persians," a movie with some skish-kebabing of same sounds like just the ticket.
300 would no doubt be more acceptable to the Right Thinking crowd if Leonidas' army ran away singing "Give Peace a Chance," just let the Persians march on by and repaired to a sit-in demonstration trashing Eurocentric Western-Civ imperialism and militarism instead. Anyway, I'm planning to see 300.

Daylight Savings Time

Hurrah ! Daylight Savings Time is here at last. Don't forget to switch your clocks forward when you go to bed Saturday night/Sunday morning.
I'm glad Daylight Savings Time (known locally as El Jefe time) arrives early henceforth. This is an improvement -- better to abolish Standard Time entirely. Extra daylight in the evenings is a kewl thang.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Maxine Waters is Concerned for the Troops

Maxine Waters wants to bring all the troops home now. Representative Waters says that she'll vote for supplemental appropriations for the troops only if the bill requires withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq by 31 December. (The Congressperson doesn't give a year, I presume she means 2007). Surprise, Surprise, ha ha. I'm not even sure that's possible, without chartering tons and tons of shipping and airlift assets. No, I'm not linking her op-ed piece -- find it yourself if you want to waste time.
I have a better idea. Why don't we just encourage the northeast and the west coast to secede or join Canada or Mexico ? Then we could have done with blowhards like Maxine Waters forever.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Green Sex: Not Just a Fetish Anymore

Okay, why am I not surprised ? A Misty Harris, in a story available on Canada.com, reports that the Greenie Wackos and adult bookstores are promoting ways to make environmentally-friendly whoopie. Greenpeace assures us, Ms. Harris says, that you can be "a bomb in bed without nuking the planet."
No, I'm not making this up. You can buy bamboo sheets, organic lubricants, visit naked vegetarian websites and wear "eco-undies." Don't forget that "sustainably harvested timber" paddles will enhance your whole experience.
Once you've quit rolling around on the floor laughing at the thought of all the wackos rolling around on the bamboo sheets using organic sex toys to save the Earth, you see that all of this makes perfect sense. As Michael Crichton and others have so presciently argued, environmentalism is in many respects a religion, and it is only natural to want to make one's sex practices congruent with one's religious beliefs.
Still, the cynic in me thinks that this exciting social trend opens whole new, profitable and enjoyable vistas of endeavor for the world's greatest scam artists -- males on the make. Just think of all the undergrads and their older cousins out there strategically studying-up on ALGORE's books and films and learning Environmentalist Wacko mantras: all in order to more frequently be da bomb in bed without nuking the planet.

Libby: Another Viewpoint

Have a look at Beldar's post on the Libby verdict, over at Beldar Blog. I don't agree with much of what he says, in particular the reasons he thinks that this case should have been pursued, and the appointment of a Special Counsel. That said though, Beldar makes some well-informed and sensible arguments, and his discussion of the Libby case is worth consideration.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Scooter Libby

I may have more to say on the case of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby tomorrow, but for the present, it will suffice to say that this whole sad business is a great blow to the Bush administration generally; and more particularly to its ability to govern and carry on the war.
I have trouble remembering precisely what I said five minutes ago, let alone the contents or timing of business or political discussions conducted months ago, and I always thought this prosecution was ludicrous. I had hoped for another outcome.
In any case, Mr. Libby appears to me to be small-fry: even assuming he was guilty of something (which I doubt), it was in his capacity as the executor of the policies of others. Servants owe loyalty to their masters: but masters should take care of servants injured in their service. A king who doesn't back up his knights is not worth much. If the Left wants a pound of flesh for the administration's political maneuvers to defend its Iraq policy, then it should be dared to seek it elsewhere. Like the editors over at National Review: I hope that a pardon for Mr. Libby will be promptly forthcoming from President Bush.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Do We Laugh or Cry ? Actually, Both.

. . .Liberty and interest alike seemed to the Georgians therefore to demand a strategic approach to international relations. They saw national power as the essential foundation of national independence; commercial wealth as a means to power; and war as among the means to all three. They accepted it as natural and inevitable that nations should be engaged in a ceaseless struggle for survival, prosperity and predominance.
Correlli Barnett, The Collapse of British Power,
(Humanities Press International, reprint ed. 1987, p. 20).
To nobody's surprise, the Chinese are increasing their military spending. According to reports today by the New York Times and the AP, China’s new state budget will include a 17.8 percent increase in military spending to just under US $45 billion. The increase supposedly includes increased appropriations for military salaries and benefits as well as force modernization and technological upgrades.

China is beginning to deploy, among other things, the new J-10 fighter aircraft, and is also buying and building some new destroyers.

Given China’s astronomical economic growth, it’s only to be expected that some of China's scads of money, (dropped into the treasury courtesy in part of spend-happy Americans), would be devoted to increased military spending. Were I calling the shots for the Chinese military budget: I’d want a great deal more money than a paltry $45 billion.

It’s probable that the actual total is a good deal higher: some analysts say that the actual Chinese military budget is about three times higher than the publicly disclosed sums. The regular budget does not take into account government subsidies for military industries, spending on the paramilitary police, much military, research and development, and, apparently, purchases of foreign military technology and products. Finally, the Chinese, being sensible people, consider military budget figures a matter of national security and -- like sane people un-afflicted by liberal scruples or by idiots from Berkeley or the New York Times editorial page in positions of power -- engage in a certain amount of chicanery with numbers presented to the public.

Naturally, Washington is upset. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte, sometime Director of National Intelligence (DNI) chided the Chinese for being so secretive about their military build-up and demanded more “transparency.”

Should I laugh, curse or cry ? I would give a lot to see some video of Mr. Negroponte’s speech – I mean, hopefully he had the good grace to smirk, or cringe with embarrassment when he had to mouth all that ludicrous claptrap about the Chinese needing to be transparent.

Why should the Chinese be transparent ? What about the concept of “great power rival” does Deputy Secretary Negroponte not understand ? It’s not for the Chinese to be transparent, but for the American intelligence community to render the Chinese transparent by finding out what we need to know, by fair means or foul. I’m being unfair to former DNI Negroponte: Deputy Secretary Negroponte is in no way a rube from some Lefty or lawyer reservation, he knows Real World Rules very well, but he’s constrained to make such foolish statements to appease the dummies who think we live in some peaceable kingdom where the Americans are the only superpower forever.
If the Chinese military programs are a concern to the US -- and they should be -- the appropriate response is to procure 200 or so new F-22's and F-35's, and six new CVN-21 Ford class carriers, with supporting elements as appropriate. If national finances will not permit it, then raise the taxes appropriately. If this cannot be politically be done, so much the worse for us, and there will be a reckoning. But lets have an end to the bleating and special-pleading about "transparency."

The Chinese desire to expand their national power. Nothing hard to understand about that -- read Correlli Barnett's thoughts on this subject above. What’s harder to understand are all the Americans who want to hamstring American power.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Texas Independence Day

Today is the 171st anniversary of the declaration of Texas independence from Mexico. The Texas convention, meeting at Washington-on-the-Brazos could, of course, make whatever declarations it wanted: the text of the Texas Declaration of Independence tracked that of the US Declaration of Independence pretty closely. But the independence of Texas was secured not by declarations and politicians, but by soldiers and force of arms, on the battlefield.
All Texans may thank God that General Santa Anna, following the fall of the Alamo, spent late March and most of April throwing away the fruits of what till then had been a fairly well-run campaign against the Texas rebels: dispersing his powerful forces all over central and coastal Texas, giving Sam Houston his chance to win the Battle of San Jacinto in April.