Archives for October, 2005

Actual NRO Headline

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Bush must cross the Rubicon. 10/28 7:28 a.m.

In fairness, the article’s not what I expected given the writer and the headline.

Posted on Oct 28, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Halloween Bleg

I need a pair of handcuffs, a copy of the Apprentice, and a child’s scooter before Friday night. And I want to do it all for around 40 bucks. The only other choice on offer is to go as Man-Paris. Help.

Posted on Oct 26, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Oh Harriet.

That’s not to say that the nomination of a person who practically decorates her exclamation marks with little flowers isn’t occasion for a little dyspepsia. Slate has a piece on exactly how impressed one should be with the managing partner of a Dallas law firm and head of the Texas Bar Association in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Update: now I feel mean. But say what you will about Clinton, he never nominated Webb Hubbell for the Supreme Court.

Posted on Oct 26, 2005 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

“I can’t stop. I don’t have any legs.”

“He literally said that,” White recalled, adding that the Humvee came to a halt only after it rammed into a store….

The explosion drilled a hole the size of a softball in the driver’s door, he said. The red-hot shrapnel severed the driver’s legs while the Humvee was still moving.

“He probably would have bled out except the shaped charge made [the metal] so hot it actually cauterized his legs as it cut his legs off,” White said.

One minor grisly detail from the Washington Post cover story today on IEDs and 2,000 gone.

The Humvee driver in that case survived as an unintended byproduct of insurgent innovation with IEDs. Many others survive because of innovations in battlefield medicine. As this article from the New England Journal of Medicine makes clear, we’re getting better at saving soldiers’ lives. In WWII, 30 percent of those injured in combat died. In Vietnam–and even in the Gulf War–it was 24 percent. Now it’s 10 percent. That is unquestionably a positive development. But it also means that a great many of those we save are horribly maimed.

One airman with devastating injuries from a mortar attack outside Balad on September 11, 2004, was on an operating table at Walter Reed just 36 hours later. In extremis from bilateral thigh injuries, abdominal wounds, shrapnel in the right hand, and facial injuries, he was taken from the field to the nearby 31st CSH in Balad. Bleeding was controlled, volume resuscitation begun, a guillotine amputation at the thigh performed. He underwent a laparotomy with diverting colostomy. His abdomen was left open, with a clear plastic bag as covering. He was then taken to Landstuhl by an Air Force Critical Care Transport team. When he arrived in Germany, Army surgeons determined that he would require more than 30 days’ recovery, if he made it at all. Therefore, although resuscitation was continued and a further washout performed, he was sent on to Walter Reed. There, after weeks in intensive care and multiple operations, he did survive. This is itself remarkable. Injuries like his were unsurvivable in previous wars. The cost, however, can be high. The airman lost one leg above the knee, the other in a hip disarticulation, his right hand, and part of his face. How he and others like him will be able to live and function remains an open question….

Still, for many new problems, the answers remain unclear. Early in the war, for example, Kevlar vests proved dramatically effective in preventing torso injuries. Surgeons, however, now find that IEDs are causing blast injuries that extend upward under the armor and inward through axillary vents. Blast injuries are also producing an unprecedented burden of what orthopedists term “mangled extremities” — limbs with severe soft-tissue, bone, and often vascular injuries. These can be devastating, potentially mortal injuries, and whether to amputate is one of the most difficult decisions in orthopedic surgery. Military surgeons have relied on civilian trauma criteria to guide their choices, but those criteria have not proved reliable in this war. Possibly because the limb injuries are more extreme or more often combined with injuries to other organs, attempts to salvage limbs following the criteria have frequently failed, with life-threatening blood loss, ischemia, and sepsis.

Every other Thursday, surgeons at Walter Reed hold War Rounds by telephone conference with surgeons in Baghdad to review the American casualties received in Washington during the previous two weeks. The case list from October 21 provides a picture of the extent of the injuries. There was one gunshot wound, one antitank-mine injury, one grenade injury, three rocket-propelled���¢�¢?�¬�¢??grenade injuries, four mortar injuries, eight IED injuries, and seven patients with no cause of injury noted. The least seriously wounded of these patients was a 19-year-old who had sustained soft-tissue injuries to the face and neck from a mine and required an exploration of the left side of the neck. Other cases involved a partial hand amputation; a hip disarticulation on the right, through-knee amputation on the left, and open pelvic d��?���©bridement; a left nephrectomy and colostomy; an axillary artery and vein reconstruction; and a splenectomy, with repair of a degloving scalp laceration and through-and-through tongue laceration. None of the soldiers were more than 25 years of age.

Of course, none of this is an argument against any particular war, or war as such. If these men incurred these injuries charging Tora Bora, that would have been terrible, but the only anger that would have been appropriate would be that directed at the people who killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

But this war had nothing to do with that. And the men behind it never mustered a serious argument to the contrary. And since then, we’ve gotten little more from them than crashing platitudes and the occasional appallingly crass joke. Oh, but hey, Harriet Miers. She’s unqualified. That really makes me furious.

Posted on Oct 26, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

But Hey, How About That Autobahn?

From Nicholas Kristof’s review of Mao: the Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. Mao could be a bastard in the kitchen, but it seems that he made one delicious omelet:

Finally, there is Mao’s place in history. I agree that Mao was a catastrophic ruler in many, many respects, and this book captures that side better than anything ever written. But Mao’s legacy is not all bad. Land reform in China, like the land reform in Japan and Taiwan, helped lay the groundwork for prosperity today. The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. Indeed, Mao’s entire assault on the old economic and social structure made it easier for China to emerge as the world’s new economic dragon.

Posted on Oct 25, 2005 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments


The Miers nomination has managed to horrify almost every big-firm or ex-big-firm lawyer in the country. Because we all know/worked for someone just like her. Someone with such a vacuum of an internal life that they’d happily agree to write those insipid bar journal articles and sit on all those friggin’ committees. It’s atavistic ambition without even the touch of evil that might make it interesting. Tracy Flick without the spunk.

Those Texas Bar Journal articles Miers wrote (which can be found here) are about as badly written as David Brooks said they were, though I’ve seen much worse. The managing partner of my old law firm used to write free verse about leadership and service to the client. I remember talking to a colleague about having it translated back into the original German and posting it throughout the firm, but we were both too enervated to follow through.

But the Miers articles are bad nonetheless, as can be seen here [.pdf]:

Two years ago the name “Jim Parsons” became synonymous with “inclusion.”

Which must have been confusing for old Jim.

He made specific, sweeping efforts to inform all Texas lawyers that the State Bar of Texas welcomed involvement by all its members, regardless of geography, area of practice, race, ethnicity, or gender.

Those efforts were both specific and sweeping, no mean feat. But this is an inspiring tale of triumph over intolerance, since the Texas Bar Association’s longstanding prejudice against real estate lawyers is well known.

The outstretched hands of Jim and his wife, Karen, spoke loudly to many lawyers who earlier felt excluded or who had been uninterested.

Why couldn’t the talking hands keep it down and leave the uninterested lawyers alone?

But the sentence that makes me regret my pettiness comes a few paragraphs later. It suggests that the Aspens never turned, and the roots never connected, and that there was nothing, nothing ever, beyond the next meeting of the Professional Development Committee. It’s a sentence that breaks my heart:

Several weeks ago I looked around the room at the Bar Leaders Conference and felt a great sense of hope.

That may be the saddest thing I have ever read.

Posted on Oct 19, 2005 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments


I am informed that Commander in Chief is about to get even worse.

Bill Clinton’s former national security adviser Sandy Berger and longtime Al Gore senior aide Ron Klain have joined other Clintonistas as advisers on “Commander in Chief,” in which Geena Davis is President. Hillary operatives are watching the show’s ratings as a barometer for how she might fare in ’08. “So far, it’s doing really well,” a source tells The News’ Ken Bazinet. …

I always thought it was a bit unsettling to have a National Security Adviser named “Sandy.” It’s a little friendly and cutesy, more appropriate for a daytime chat show host than a defense guy. But then he was replaced by “Condi.” And another guy, a grown man who actually calls himself “Scooter,” got involved. Apparently, he also thinks he’s Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Posted on Oct 19, 2005 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Imperial President in Heels

You probably haven’t been watching ABC’s “Commander in Chief.” Alas, I have. And I have a piece up on Reason’s site today explaining why Geena Davis is not my president.

A commentator on Hit and Run points out that Taft wasn’t such a swell prez from a libertarian perspective, which is fair enough, but he beats the bastards who bookended him, and wrote intelligently about the president’s constitutional role. Plus I liked the contrast of a statuesque Geena Davis and a fat, bewhiskered Taft.

Posted on Oct 18, 2005 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Chauncy Gardener Effect

I don’t know what kind of mind voodoo GWB has going for him, but even in the midst of his darkest hour politically, he has some conservatives convinced he’s a Machiavellian genius. I caught a couple of minutes of Laura Ingraham this AM and she was taking calls pro and con for the Miers nomination. Out of the eight calls I heard, three said that they were against the nomination–and so was Bush. They independently expressed the idea that Bush planned the whole thing, right down to the conservative revolt. Miers apparently is a decoy nomination, designed to unify the right and, as one caller suggested, the left is “playing right into our hands.” It doesn’t make any sense to me either. But hey, “It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.”

Posted on Oct 13, 2005 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Tivo Is Wise

Everything you’ve heard about Tivo is true. Moreover, even when making crap movie recommendations, it seems to have an eerie insight into what I like. From the “Suggestions” screen:

Suspect Device C. Thomas Howell. A low level intelligence agent learns he is a cyborg marked for death by his superiors.

Posted on Oct 13, 2005 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Gee, I Thought I Was a Victim of Your Petty Tyranny.

Infuriating story in the Washington Post today about a 45-year-old woman handcuffed and hauled off to jail for having a single glass of wine with dinner. She blew a .03, but, as is made apparent from the story, the cop subjected her to the pointless indignity of arrest because he didn’t like her “carefree” attitude:

As D.C. police officer Dennis Fair, who arrested Bolton on May 15, put it in an interview recently: “If you get behind the wheel of a car with any measurable amount of alcohol, you will be dealt with in D.C. We have zero tolerance. . . . Anything above .01, we can arrest.”…

Fair acknowledged that many people aren’t aware of the District’s policy. “But it is our law,” he said. “If you don’t know about it, then you’re a victim of your own ignorance.”

Posted on Oct 12, 2005 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Expectations Game

I thought I had low expectations for politics, but you can’t beat this slogan from Liberia’s current presidential race, which comes after 14 years of civil war:

“Did he kill your ma? No!

“Did he kill your pa? No!

“Vote for George Weah!”

Posted on Oct 11, 2005 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Great Moments in Public Reasoning

A nice one-two from Harriet Miers’ most brilliant man alive:

BUSH: Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals.

I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, and Al Qaida attacked us anyway.


The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet militants killed more than 180 Russian school children in Beslan.

Which do you find less disconcerting, the notion that he thinks you’re this stupid, or the alternative?

Posted on Oct 7, 2005 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Surfing the Wave of History, Screaming “Cowabunga!”

The man who gave this speech, honors National Review on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Which isn’t as inappropriate as it may sound, considering.

Posted on Oct 6, 2005 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Get Out Much?

This, from David Frum, tells me all I need to know about Harriet Miers:

[Miers] once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met.

Posted on Oct 3, 2005 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments