Vae Victus

Classical Musings on a Modern World - Politics, Military Analysis, Dog Training, and More

Location: Chicago, IL

I am a consultant from chicago where I live with my wife, our dog, and two cats

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Campaign season again

It's coming early this year, but with the indictment of Tom Delay there can be no doubt that the Democrats are back into full campaign mode. While they continue to lose at the polls, they still continue to fight to win in other ways - either through frivolous indictments or through obstruction.

Speaking of obstruction, the Democrats are getting their alliance together for whoever the next Supreme Court nominee happens to be and can be expected to put together a filibuster even if the nominee is only slightly to the right of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Why? The sheer amount of money and energy that has been spent on their Supreme Court fight is overwhelming and has become a central plank to the Democratic future. Whoever isn't fully engaged for this next round will not stand a chance in 2008.

However, the Republicans have a variety of choices here. Bush could capitulate and name a full, squishy "moderate" to the court - someone who thinks the constitution only means some of what it says it means. Or he could name another justice in the mold of Roberts - or someone with a longer record on the issues who is even more frightening to the Democrats. If he does indeed name someone in the mold of Roberts (and I fully expect that he will), the Democrats will do their best to filibuster that person. If they have any record at all, and I mean ANY record, that filibuster will likely succeed, and the Republicans of the Senate will be making the next move.

Do they change the rules to take away the filibuster for judges or not? Do they fight back against Democratic obstruction? That is the key question, both for the Senate Republicans and for Republicans and Tom Delay - Do they fight back?

In Delay's case it's just a matter of sticking with him until the facts come out (precisely what they didn't do with Gingrich). In the Senate's case, it's a harder road, but any Senator that has aspirations of running for President has to realize that this fight will define his chances for 2008.

We'll see if they have the backbone. Already some have called to not extend the tax cuts and other stupid ideas, so I might have a right to be skeptical. On the other hand, I think the President will get this done. He knows when to spend his political capital and despite low poll numbers he remains by far the most powerful politician in the country.

Monday, September 26, 2005

More Media malfeasance

Kudos to and for exposing the media's incredible errors in reporting the news from New Orleans. Not only were the reports of lawlessness and crime vastly overstated and probably about average for this inherently violent city (this is NO we are talking about not Mayberry!), but the loss of life was overstated by huge amounts.

When the hurricane hit, it was billed as a chance for the old media to show why they were still relevant, a chance for them to show that they had far greater reach and resources than the blogsphere, but what we got was another failure, another reason not to trust them with something as important as the "news".

Was it bias or just their overwhelming need to provide sensational news even at the cost of accuracy? There may a deeper, more insidious problem with journalism today: the need to empathize with the subjects of the news may not allow them the objectivity to question what people say or even make them capable of putting events into a bigger, broader context to see a more accurate picture.

Unfortunately, that ability to take a broader view is not something that a journalist can learn in a journalism course or journalism school. Instead, it is some combination of a broad, strong education and experience and wisdom, and journalism schools provide none of those three components.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Iraqi Constitution Passes Another Hurdle

As Ed reports on the Iraqi parliament has approved their proposed constitution. Despite not getting full agreement from the Sunni representatives who were bent on obstructing the passage, the Constitution goes onto a nationwide vote on October 15th. There seem to have been compromise by different groups and not every group got what they wanted (sounds like a good beginning to a Federal arrangement to me!).

No mention of this on CNN or the NYTimes as far as I can tell, although both of those sites note yesterdays "insurgent" attacks. We'll see if this story gets any play on Monday. My guess is that we'll see them ignore it as much as possible and when they don't, they'll play up the lack of Sunni support in parliament as the biggest issue of the day.

Yahoo's story is here:

Most interesting quote to me, "Sunnis are deeply opposed to portions of the draft that allow for federalism and to its reference to Iraq as a Muslim but not an Arab country.
The Sunnis say federalism is only a prelude to the breakup of a country that historically has been held together by a strong central government."

Of course, the AP writer, Sameer N. Yacoubi doesn't bother to tell us that the Kurds would take issue with being called an "Arab" country. Second of all, the strong central government that has historically held the country together has been one run by the minority, tyrannical Sunni coalition. Finally, the Sunnis should be happy to have a federalism. They don't have the oil, they don't have anything other than the memories of having once been the dominant minority and having squandered it and the nation's wealth and advantages by supporting a murderous thug.

Either way, the Sunnis have to muster over 2/3 opposition in 3 provinces. It is likely that they can only get that support in 2 of those 3 (see Ed's commentary for a more complete discussion).


Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Blame Game

The "blame game" in the press has cycled through a couple of times. After the immediate, knee-jerk reaction of the press to blame the entire hurricane on Bush, the truth has started to come out. Evidence of the chronic and incredible levels of incompetence by Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco combined with vacuous enabling from Sen. Landrieu have started to shift the attention from Bush and his team.

Michael Brown took the fall for the administration's perceived problems in reacting to the huge calamity, and Bush took the additional step of doing a televised speech to take some of the blame and to layout his plans for reconstruction. That move by Bush has been somewhat successful. Aside from allowing Bush to get on with the (probably politically advantageous) reconstruction effort, it also allows Brown to do what he has already done - go to a paper and tell the story. In this article Brown tells the NYTimes what happened:

His portrayal of Governor Blanco is devastating despite efforts by the Times to continue pushing the blame back to Bush. While the Bush administration can be considered negligent in simply bypassing the Governor's wishes (and violating Federal law in the process), Blanco's state response was ill-prepared and inadequate. Even the best prepared Federal response would have been utterly hamstrung by the State's failures.

Yet, that brings up the next question, how was the response? In terms of timing, it was pretty good. Maybe one of the best ever organized by the Federal Government. They were on the ground in far less time than they were under other disasters despite the roadblocks and challenges presented by the Louisiana state government. If anything, Brown is most guilty of being unprepared for the intensity of the spotlight that was put on him by the press. His political naivete and inability to handle that pressure meant he had to go. Unfortunately, politics in Washington is hardball, and the exaggerations or inconsistencies on his CV were the final nail in his political coffin.

However, the Katrina story is still not finished. To this day, stories are coming out about the extraordinary rescue effort. Apparently the national guard, the coast guard and the many other agencies that helped out in the aftermath of the storm were far, FAR more successful than anyone knew. The death toll has been startlingly low given the dire predictions of the press in large measure thanks to those men and women who toiled almost anonymously to rescue the people stranded by the flooding. Their biggest problem was that their Herculean efforts were almost entirely ignored by a press secure in their belief that their eyes on the ground were seeing all there was to see. Fortunately for the victims of this storm, that belief was simply untrue.

More news and information continues to pour out, but another political casualty of the storm may prove to be the main stream media. Crying wolf after initially downplaying the storm, exaggerating the number of people lost in the storm, ignoring key aspects of the rescue effort, and attempting to place all the blame on Bush should be another nail in their coffin.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A welcome weekend

After another week of work, the weekend is upon me. I'm almost too tired to comment today, with two conference calls scheduled for this afternoon.

We took Jacque to see his trainer last night. As I've discussed previously, we are training him in a dog sport called French Ring (something the French use to test their dogs for military and policework).

A quick note about his training. We are NOT training him to be a vicious dog or even to bite (all dogs already KNOW how to bite). Instead, we are teaching him control and the techniques to do a sport routine like French Ring and to know that he can go into combat with an attacker in a real or street situation and win. In many ways, we are simply using the genetics and characteristics that a German Shepherd is supposed to have. He goes to his sessions a happy dog, anxious to work, and when we return home is a VERY happy dog.

Even though he is biting a sleeve and in some cases is effectively fighting the handler in stressful situations, he is very clear headed and social. We recently had a dinner party with 11 adults and 4 toddlers in our home. He was great with everyone there and handled the children gently and quietly.

So now that the disclaimer is finished.. back to last night's training session...

As he is now mature enough to handle the pressure, we have also started to use defensive training as a way of making him harder and stronger during his bitework. In general, there are two things that cause a dog to bite a man wearing a suit or a sleeve - prey or defense. Prey is the same as a dog who wants to chase something that is moving, and the same as a wolf hunting a rabbit. They see it move and want to get it. It is instinctual and dogs have different levels of prey. Although, a good trainer can get the most out of a dog's prey drive.

Defense is very different in that the dog is reacting to what it perceives to be a threat. This is why the dog must be mature (e.g., you wouldn't as a 12 year old boy with a little karate training to fight for his life) and the dog has to have the genetics to do this work.

Strangely enough, Jacque works VERY well in defense. Even better than he does in prey. I'm not sure if it is just the genetics (many German Shepherds have a good defensive drive) or if it is that he is smart enough to realize that the prey work is nothing more than prey. Even his bitework is when working in prey improves after he has had a little defensive pressure put on him in a training session. He bites fuller, harder and more confidently.

In last night's session, we put a muzzle on him so that the trainer could get close enough to get in his face without getting bit. The trainer did this, agitated him, and then we took the muzzle off and did two scenarios. In the first scenario, I gave Jacque his warning command, "Reviere". When he hears this command, he starts to bark and knows that a threat is nearby. The trainer then attacked us head on - coming toward us. The trainer was wearing a hidden sleeve so that that Jacque would act as if it was a real attack (if he wears the big sleeve, Jacque realizes that it is a game). We then made him let go or "aus" and did the next scenario.

This one was where the trainer was at the other end of the room and after I gave Jacque the "watch" command, I sent him on an attach or "packen"

At the end of the session we did some sleeve work and tried to get Jacque to switch from defense to prey while working. He made some progress and went out of the room with the big sleeve firmly in his grip. All in all a good session. If we get more regular work, he should get his French Ring Brevet and be in good shape to start training for Schutzhund next year.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

NY Times - you need to pay for our expert bias!

Wow, the NYTimes really knows how to reverse the tide of irrelevancy that has hit them. Losing subscribers? No longer the "paper of record"? Start charging for people to read your "all-star" columnists online. NewsMax is reporting that the NYTimes will start charging 49.95 a year for the privilege of reading Krugman, Rich, Dowd, Friedman and the rest of their lineup.

Drudge is thinking of kicking them off his site. Personally, I don't care where they end up. I really only read them as curiosity pieces anymore. There isn't a thing that one of them has done to make a difference to me in years. The only exception being that a collection of columns by Frank Rich convinced my wife that we shouldn't be subscribing to their opinion, I mean newspaper.

Is there any other company that so completely misjudges their place in the market place? I mean, how many companies when faced with falling demand would actually raise prices?

My only guess is that they vastly overrate their importance in the marketplace of ideas. Or, they recognize that their readership is shrinking into a very solid minority group, a group that is rabid enough to pay for their preachy opinions. Certainly, they resemble the caricatures of southern ministers that they love to promote in their newspaper. "Believe us, have faith.. Send us your money!"

No overriding urge to do any in-depth analysis today. Instead, here are a few short comments on various happenings:

Roberts Hearings
I haven't watched the Roberts hearings. I try to avoid long-winded speeches by the likes of Leahy, Kennedy, Schumer, Durbin and Biden. On the other hand, some of the transcripts have been funny. It looks like they tried on the first day to get Roberts to make a slip or two that they could attack throughout the hearing. When that didn't succeed, they settled down to making speeches for their constituents. At least they'll have some sound bites for their fund-raising efforts!

Bush's Speech to the UN
I'm looking for the transcript, but Bush apparently made an impressive powerful speech to the UN yesterday, but unfortunately, the coverage seems pretty spotty. The Tribune put it on the front page next to the car bombing news from Iraq. The adage being that any good news for Bush must be balanced by any bad news available. Noticeably absent from their front page was the success the Iraqi military and the US troops had at Tal-Afar:

The tribune did have an article on the actions at Tal Afar, but it largely ignored the more strategic implications of what Tal Afar means, and the way in which it bolsters the US's chances at succeeding in Iraq.,1,2899637.story

Inflation or not??
As Larry Kudlow describes it, Inflation does not seem to be a problem. However, the recent rise in the price of gold does indicate that there should be some readiness to respond in case it keeps rising. Like Kudlow, I look at gold and commodity prices as a key indicator in whether or not current monetary policy is inflationary or not. Certainly, the price of gold and other commodities in the late 90's showed that we were in a deflationary period. Unfortunately, Mr. Greenspan chose not to notice those clear cut signs and instead focused in on what he described as the "irrational exuberance" of the stock market. Let's hope that his replacement sticks more closely to classical economics.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

How to spin good news as bad news... an MSM specialty

So, do they teach this in journalism school these days? If a Republican administration has some really great news, something that signifies that an historic achievement is within reach, you must somehow spin it as a defeat. Today's Washington Post reaches hard to turn the news from Iraq's President into bad news with this article "Talabani Says Iraqis Could Replace Many U.S. Troops: President's Claim About Major American Withdrawal by Year's End Conflicts With White House Position"

Normally, one would think that the Iraqi President's comments were talking about the state of the war against Iraqi's terrorists and Sunni holdouts and would be construed as good news. That the US being able to pull out 50,000 troops at some point is a good thing. But, according to the Washington Post, the big news here is that, "That assessment differs dramatically from those offered by Bush and by U.S. military commanders in Iraq."

Is it likely that the US will remove that many troops? Probably not, but if the referendum goes well on October 15th, and if national elections also go well in December, the Iraqi government would be well on track toward being able to drive their own destiny with less help from the US. Those who get their information from sources other than the MSM probably know by now that the war against the terrorists is being won in the field and that US and Iraqi units are busy cleaning up the last holdouts and closing down the border to Syria to shut down new terrorists from entering and providing support. (see or for excellent analysis and here: for Michael Yon's incredible reporting from Iraq.)

The main point here is that the Iraqi's are gaining confidence - more confidence than the US media and people have at this point. Of course, that has essentially been the goal of many of the people in the media, to undermine the confidence of the people. So, even when good news appear, it must, must, must be spun into something dire for Bush.

The press' refusal to report the news rather than try to shape it means that all of us with our blogs have to struggle to keep them honest and to let people know when they overreach.

As usual, Mark Steyn says it best

In the Telegraph, Mark Steyn lays out the hurricane and the political dimensions from beginning to end. My favorite line: "Nancy Pelosi, the armchair general of armchair generalities."

The Republicans may not be perfect when in power (I have plenty of complaints), but so long as the Democrats put forth vacuous know-nothings like Pelosi, they will continue to keep losing elections.


Did the Hurrican wash away Tax cuts?

In today's WSJ, Brody Mullins reports that the House and Senate are postponing plans to extend Bush's tax cuts. Currently, they are scheduled to expire in 1998. Mostly, the argument is that the politics are too dangerous now with the Katrina recovery in process.

While I understand the need to be politically savvy, actions like these concern me. There are all ready enough Senators and Congressmen who think that they can campaign on free markets, lower taxes and lower spending, and then, when elected, proceed to legislate much differently. One way around this could be to join the tax cuts with a larger scale Louisiana/Mississippi economic development plan. If the Federal Governement (i.e., taxpayers) have to rebuild the cities and businesses, then the Federal Government should be able to do it the right way. In this case, they should take up Jack Kemp's idea of making a "tax free enterprise or empowerment" zone in the area.

There are two things that support this. First, the free market always builds things faster and more effectively than the government - especially the goverments of Louisiana and New Orleans! Second, Even before the government entities had prepared to respond, the various companies that do business there were already preparing their logistics to bring in the goods and supplies that would be needed. We should put this free market energy to use, and give the proper incentives to make Louisiana and Mississippi's recovery one that also serves to build their economies.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Just a short post today (I hope!).

My wife and I are sending our best wishes and hopes to the people of New Orleans. We had planned to go on a trip there this year. It would have been her first time trip to New Orleans and my 4th. It's a great city with wonderful people who have our prayers.

I won't go into full "TribuneWatch" mode today, but will just note that they publish an Op-ed piece from Dick Durbin - or at least from the staffers employed by that dim-bulb of the Senate. The title is "What's at Stake with Roberts". While I won't go into the point by point of his argument, he's basically saying that Roberts won't interpret the commerce clause or the "Right to Privacy" in the same way s the most liberal courts have interpreted it, and that all protections for women, minorities and any laws keeping guns out of school schools will vanish. It's good to know that the Federal Government is the ONLY legislative body that can implement all of these things! Anyway, my point is that he must be telling the truth because the stakes are high enough in his mind to make up deliberate falsehoods about a meeting with Roberts and then push those falsehoods to Jonathan Turley who then published them.

It goes to show what little credibility is left in the mainstream media that this story was dropped so quickly (probably from a good deal of embarrassment that their side would have someone as ham-handed and stupid as Durbin). Anyway, read his article if you wish to be amused.. then read more about Durbin here in Powerline's very useful documentation of the story:

and more here, if you want to know what Durbin is all about, in Captainsquartersblog, another of my favorite sites: