Friday, February 23, 2007

Smart Man

"I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it." - John Stuart Mill

They write headlines

From AP: White House opposes war authority limits

If I was the editor, I'd leave a comment like "Omit needless words."

White House opposes war authority limits

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tip your servers, Part II

"Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well"

Darth Cheney on the British withdrawing from areas of Iraq that are "stable" because they are firmly in the control of the Shi'a militias who have engaged in horrific ethnic cleansing.

I'm here all week, tip your bartender and drive home safely!

From standup comic Condoleezza Rice: "The coalition remains intact."

What? What "coalition?" Albania? Estonia? My grandfather's birthplace, Denmark, which has announced it's leaving (cutting off the supply of beer and porn.)

Can these people PLEASE go on MapQuest and find directions to reality?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My Life is Over...

I open up the mailbox and find the world's most dreaded missive...

The AARP mailing.

Goodbye cruel world.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Supremes

No, you can't hurry love, you just have to wait...

Wait, wrong Supremes.

I'm referring to the Supreme Court, which came down with a remarkable decision vacating a punitive damage award against a tobacco company. I find it remarkable for many reasons.

1) First of all, I can't believe they took this case. The Supreme Court is the only federal court that can control its docket. In most instances, the Supremes can pick and choose what cases to hear. Yes, this one did involve a staggering amount of money, but it is really a routine matter of state tort law that just doesn't present constitutional issues. It is a HUGE stretch by the majority to bring this case within a due process ambit and scare court resources could have been better spent sorting out real issues.

2) I also think they are wrong on the basic legal point, about what harms the jury can consider in assessing punitive damages, and

3) Talk about strange bedfellows, Scalia and Thomas joined in a dissent by GINSBURG, where she wrote quite logically that "I would accord more respectful treatment to the proceedings and dispositions of state courts" than did the majority.

From Worst to First, Redux

First of all, let me apologize the "Presidents' Day" mistake!

Then we have the Idiot-in-Chief saying about that first president
George Washington's long struggle for freedom has also inspired generations of Americans to stand for freedom in their own time. Today, we're fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life. And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone.
Ahem, we are NOT fighting to "defend our liberty and our people and our way of life." WE are not fighting. Volunteers are stuck in a hellhole because of you. WE are not fighting, they are, because of you.

You stumbled on that "we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone." George Washington said that
Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other....So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.
He hardly would have supported external war to change the form of government of foreign states.

As I wrote on Schmidlap,
I stole James Thomas Flexner's ever-so-accurate description of Washington as "the indispensable man."

Was he a great general? No, not in a classical sense. He had little experience and no training in military tactics, and he won no major victories during the revolution. The legendary "crossing the Delaware" was a Christmas Eve raid on drunken Germans who didn't want to be there, and let's face it, the French won Yorktown.

However, he was the "indispensable man" because he was THE leader that held the revolution together. You will also note that Washington didn't win big battles, but he didn't lose them either. He almost by force of will kept the Continental Army together as a fighting force.

Let's compare Washington with his fellow Virginian (and step-in-law many times removed) Robert E. Lee. Lee was a much more accomplished tactician and fought and won set-piece battles. However, Lee's "wins" involved a casualty count and loss of equipment that ultimately doomed the South. Washington kept his revolution alive in the field long enough to negotiate a settlement, and Lee bled his to death.

And as president, again, he was not a master politician, but his very presence solidified the republic. We saw a tremendous amount of opposition to the new "constitution" but even the anti-federalists agreed to much because of "the indispensable man."

Monday, February 19, 2007