Monthly Archives: October 2005

Wetzlar, 10/30/2005

Set list from Pagel:

1. Drifter’s Escape
2. Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
3. God Knows
4. The Times They Are A-Changin’
5. Cry A While
6. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
7. Highway 61 Revisited
8. Shooting Star
9. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
10. Just Like A Woman
11. Honest With Me
12. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
13. New Morning
14. Summer Days

15. Like A Rolling Stone
16. All Along The Watchtower

The Pennsylvania Line’s in an Awful Mess …

By all accounts, Alito is the hill worth dying for, that many of us have been waiting for. I have no independent knowledge so I’m deferring to those who are smarter at this point. Alito certainly seems to have the broad respect and admiration of serious conservatives. The Dems are squealing on cue, so that’s a good sign. In the kind of fight that’s ahead, however, it is the more lily-livered Republican senators on which this will turn. Today is Hallowe’en, and, make no mistake, what we have to fear is the spectre of Specter; i.e. Arlen, R- Pa, the worst conceivable Chairman of the Judiciary Committee we could have at this point in time.

To make matters worse, it appears that Specter has some particular history with Alito that could make him act in an even more pig-brained way than usual. From Patterico:

In 1991, Arlen Specter and other political and union leaders filed a lawsuit challenging the closure of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The shipyard had been targeted by a closure list created pursuant to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act. Specter was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. He and the other plaintiffs argued that the process was stacked against the shipyard, but a federal judge threw out the suit, ruling that the federal courts had no authority to review the decision.

A divided panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. (Specter v. Garrett, 971 F.2d 936 (3d Cir.1992).) Two of the three judges held that base closure decisions under the Act were indeed subject to judicial review. A third judge dissented, arguing that Congress, in passing the Act, had insulated base closure decisions from judicial review.

That judge was Sam Alito. And his dissent was a rejection of the arguments made by Sen. Specter.

The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the decision and instructed the Third Circuit to reevaluate the case in light of a recently issued Supreme Court decision. But the Third Circuit didn’t take the hint, and reaffirmed its earlier decision. Judge Alito again dissented, for the same reasons as before: Congress had expressly provided that there be no judicial review of base closure decisions. (Specter v. Garrett, 995 F.2d 404 (3d Cir. 1993).)

The case was once again appealed to the Supreme Court. (Dick Cheney, as defense secretary, was the lead named defendant.)

The lawsuit was a big deal to Sen. Specter. He personally argued the case in the Supreme Court, telling the Justices that “failure to allow judicial review here would virtually repudiate Marbury v. Madison … and nearly two centuries of constitutional adjudication.”

The Court was not impressed. On the issue of judicial review, the Court unanimously reversed the Court of Appeals, citing principles articulated in Judge Alito’s second dissent. (Dalton v. Specter, 511 U.S. 462 (1994).)

This is speculation, but my guess is that Arlen Specter has had it in for Sam Alito ever since.

Now, apparently Specter has said some nice things about Alito too. However, I give that zero weight, because I think that he is a weasel among weasels, and would surely and shrewdly seek to hide any personal animus behind a smokescreen of positive on-the-record comments.

There’s a lot of arguing ahead, but the fight is going to come down to some crucial moments in the U.S. Senate which will shift momentum this way or that, and Arlen will be in a position to exercise vital influence. I will be keeping my eye on this Specter long after Hallowe’en is past.

Property of Jesus

For the second time this year, former Senator John Danforth (he is also an Episcopal minister) has bizarrely railed against the influence of conservative Christians on the Republican party. The first time was in a New York Times op-ed less than five months after the Republican party’s sweeping victories in the 2004 elections. The second time was last week at the “Bill Clinton School of Public Service,” at the University of Arkansas. He said that the Republican party (the party of George Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Paul Wolfowitz, Mike Bloomberg and Dennis Hopper) had been “taken over” by “the Christian right.”

My first reflex would be to lock him in a room with a couple of those C-Span callers who claim the Jews have taken over the Bush adminstration, and not let them out until they come to an amicable understanding (perhaps it wouldn’t take very long, on consideration).

Richard John Neuhaus of FIRST THINGS has a more reasoned (and more devastating) reaction:

[Danforth] deplored the fact that the Republican Party has been “taken over by Christian conservatives, the Christian right.” These are the people who think “they understand God’s truth, and they embody it politically.” The great danger of religion in politics is that it is divisive and produces results such as we see in “Iraq, Northern Ireland, and Palestine.”

John Danforth is an ordained Episcopal priest and a good and decent man. It is a pity that he is letting himself be used in this way. Or maybe this is what he really believes. If so, he is more than a little confused. He calls for “people of faith” to involve themselves in politics, but then seems to add the proviso that they must be people who share his understanding of faith. Or, if they have a different understanding, they should not let their faith impinge on their politics.

Of course there are kooks on the right who are as crazy as kooks on the left. I have written extensively on the wrongheadedness of Christian “reconstructionists” and “theonomists” (see, for instance, “Why Wait for the Kingdom? The Theonomist Temptation,” First Things, May 1990). They are marginal and carefully contained. To describe Christian conservatives in general as people who think they know God’s truth and embody it politically is a leftist slur unworthy of John Danforth.

As for his examples of religious “divisiveness,” he surely knows that with Iraq and Palestine we are dealing with a very different religion. Christians in politics represent the religion that provides the foundational ideas of a just and free society – as in “Render to Caesar . . .” and “We holds these truths to be self-evident . . .” The reference to Northern Ireland is egregiously inapt. In terms of tyranny and mayhem, the atavistic tribal thuggery in Northern Ireland is hardly a world-class conflict. Moreover, the violence has been declining for years and only held our attention for so long because it was happening in the Christian West and was so atypical of the way Christians engage one another in political contest. As for Northern Ireland’s relevance to the American scene, Mr. Danforth surely knows that the “Christian conservatives” in this country whom he so unfairly caricatures are evangelical Protestants and Catholics making common cause – the very parties that are in conflict in Northern Ireland. In short, his example makes a point exactly opposite to what he intends. One might think that Mr. Danforth would rejoice in the growing amity and cooperation between Protestants and Catholics in America.

Again, almost everybody agrees that John Danforth is a decent man who has rendered valuable service to his country. I hope he will think again and not continue on the course of acting as a shill for proponents of a naked public square who would exclude from public life the very “people of faith” whom he encourages to become politically engaged.

Danforth has evidently come a long way since he endeavored to buck up Clarence Thomas during those horrible confirmation hearings of 1991 by playing Onward Christian Soldiers on a tape recorder.

I wonder what’s on his iPod now?

Wait for the Light to Shine

Dylan sings Wait for the Light to Shine, from Spokane, Washington on 10/5/2001 (mp3 sample here for a little while).

The song is credited to Fred Rose and has been sung by Hank Williams, the Louvin Brothers, and, um, Pat Boone, amongst many other luminaries.

When the road is rocky and you’re carrying a load
Wait for the light to shine
If you find you’re friendless on that weary, lonesome road
Wait for the light to shine

Wait for the light to shine
Wait for the light to shine
Pull yourself together, keep looking for the sign
Wait for the light to shine

Oberhausen, 10/29/2005

Set list from Pagel:

1. Maggie’s Farm
2. Tell Me That It Isn’t True (Bob on harp)
3. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
4. Lay, Lady, Lay
5. High Water (For Charley Patton) (Donnie on banjo)
6. To Ramona (acoustic)
(Bob on harp, Donnie on electric mandolin, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
7. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
(Donnie on violin, Tony on standup bass}
8. The Times They Are A-Changin’
(Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
9. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
10. Ballad Of Hollis Brown (acoustic)
(Donnie on banjo, Denny on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
11. Highway 61 Revisited
12. Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) (Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
13. Mr. Tambourine Man (Tony on standup bass)
14. Summer Days (Tony on standup bass)

15. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
(Bob on harp, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
16. All Along The Watchtower

By all accounts, Bob is in excellent voice on this tour. One change to the stage arrangements that has been noticed is that his microphone is no longer positioned so low that he has to hunch down over his keyboard in order to sing into it. The question is not so much why it has been moved up as why it was positioned so low before – since 2002 when he made the move to the keyboard – but we’ll probably have to wait for Chronicles Volume 5 to find that out.

Whatever: so long as he’s happy.

Nothing But Clouds of Blood

Three high school girls beheaded in Indonesia.

Unidentified assailants attacked a group of high school girls on Saturday in Indonesia’s tense province of Central Sulawesi, beheading three and seriously wounding a fourth, police said.

The students from a private Christian high school were ambushed while walking through a cocoa plantation in Poso Kota subdistrict on their way to class, police Maj. Riky Naldo said. The rural area is close to the provincial capital of Poso, about 1,000 miles northeast of the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

He said the heads of the three dead girls were found several miles from their bodies.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation. But Central Sulawesi has a roughly equal number of Muslims and Christians. The province on Sulawesi island was the scene of a bloody sectarian war in 2001-2002 that killed around 1,000 people from both communities.

Bone Fragments Found Near WTC Said Human.

Ten bone fragments discovered more than four years after the World Trade Center attacks on the rooftop of a nearby skyscraper are human, officials said Friday.

The pieces were found last month by construction workers sifting through gravel on top of the former Deutsche Bank building, which is being torn down.

Parts of the trade center’s south tower spread debris and carved a gash in the 41-story building’s facade when it collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

The city has recovered 19,964 pieces of human remains from the attack and identified 9,100 of them, Borakove said. Of the 2,749 people who died at the trade center, 1,152 have no identifiable remains.

Danish police arrest terror suspects.

DANISH police have arrested four men suspected of plotting a suicide terrorist attack, as part of an operation linked to growing signs of Islamic extremism in the former Yugoslavia.

The four men, arrested in Copenhagen on Thursday night, are said to have been in the final stages of carrying out an attack on an unidentified target. “We have reasons to believe that they were about to plan a terror attack some place in Europe,” a Danish police spokesman said.

Only one of the four held is believed to be a Danish citizen; the rest are thought to have direct links with Bosnia.

During a series of raids overnight, Danish police detained a further 21 people and confiscated computers, mobile telephones, books and pamphlets related to Islamic extremism, and 200,000 kroner (£18,000) in cash.

The Danish authorities launched their raids after receiving a warning from the authorities in Bosnia, where western intelligence services are becoming increasingly concerned about militant activities.

Serial blasts rock Delhi, at least 65 dead.

A series of explosions rocked Delhi on Saturday evening, killing at least 65 people and leaving scores injured, some of them critically.

As many as 20 people have been killed in an explosion in Sarojini Nagar market and 15 others have reportedly been killed in Paharganj.

Most of those injured or killed in the explosions were ordinary people out shopping in the festival season.

Carefully coordinated butchery in Delhi. Schoolgirls getting their heads sliced off in Indonesia. Bones of obliterated and innocent human beings discovered 4 years later in New York City. And terrorist planners found in Denmark.

All in all, a pretty average day of Islamofascist massacre and the ramifications thereof – and this doesn’t even include the latest murder in Iraq, or the quasi-hilarious statements of the Iranian regime (“when we say ‘wipe out Israel,’ we mean ‘peace for the Palestinians.’ ) The decapitation of the Christian girls in Indonesia makes one sit up and notice, I guess, but that’s due only to their age. The beheading of Christian adults in that part of the world hardly makes the news anymore, and certainly prompts no outrage from a press that flips over backwards regarding the soiling of a Koran in a prison or the cremation of Taliban remains in Afghanistan

Listing these incidents together just provides a random opportunity to ask the question: What if they threw a world war and nobody noticed?

AP headline: Unidentified Assailants Kill Everybody Identifiable; Worldwide Identity Crisis Foreseen.

Trust Yourself

… but, if you’re Dubya, it wouldn’t hurt to take some advice from Victor Davis Hanson either. In his latest piece, he gives spot-on recommendations about how the president should move to advance in the war on jihadism, and how to aggressively call to account leftist hate-mongers at home, while even venturing to make some sharp observations about the battle for the Supreme Court:

Before Harriet Miers, conservatives pined for a Chief Justice Antonin Scalia, with a Justice Roberts and someone like a Janice Rogers Brown rounding out a battle-hardened and formidable new conservative triad. They relished the idea of a Scalia frying Joe Biden in a televised cross-examination or another articulate black female nominee once again embarrassing a shrill Barbara Boxer – all as relish to brilliantly crafted opinions scaling back the reach of activist judges. That was not quite to be.

But now, with the Miers’ withdrawal, the president might as well go for broke to reclaim his base and redefine his second term as one of principle rather than triangulating politics. So he should call in top Republican senators and the point people of his base – never more needed than now – and get them to agree on the most brilliant, accomplished, and conservative jurist possible. He should then ram the nominee through, in a display to the American people of the principles at stake.

I would add that he may well not succeed in “ramming” such a nominee through, but that it shouldn’t matter.

The ideological balance of the U.S. Senate no doubt played a huge role in Bush’s gamble with Miers. When he saw her name show up on Harry Reid’s list of acceptable candidates he simply could not resist the idea that his enemies had delivered themselves into his hands. He was sure he knew who Harriet was. It cannot now be said otherwise than that her nomination was a mistake – but Dubya was seduced by his idea of a piece of political sleight-of-hand to out-do all others: putting an ideological conservative on the court and making the Democrats like it.

Bush is painfully aware of the real numbers in the Senate today. If Democrats were able to unify against a nominee with a paper trail full of easily distortable opinions (a realistic likelihood), then Bush would be faced with the weak-kneed Chafees and Snowes, and the worst possible Chairman of the Judiciary Committee that he could have at this point in history: Arlen Specter (who helped Ted Kennedy put the “-ed” in “Bork,” and who has made it quite clear that he will oppose anyone he believes will not support Roe v Wade, in spite of Bush’s support of him against his primary challenger in ’04. That support now seems like the tragic error of Bush’s presidency.)

Bush should have had one free try at putting someone as combative as Janice Rogers Brown on the court. Let the fight be as rough as it needs to be, and be willing to lose it, on votes, in the end. Then, nominate another papered conservative and dare the same players to do it again. Let the American people have a chance to understand exactly what is at issue with these nominations, and there is no question that the Democrats’ poll numbers would start going through the floor.

Unfortunately, getting mired down with Harriet might seem to have taken that one free shot away from the president. Would failing to get a second nominee confirmed – albeit through getting voted down or filibustered this time – be too much of a political failure for his presidency to bear? Possibly … and possibly not. Politics is not a science; there are unknowables.

In order to succeed with the next nomination, it seems to me, President Bush has to be willing to fail, in terms of the votes. That may be a tall order, but then, there’s more than enough at stake to justify it.

Rotterdam, 10/28/2005

Set list from Pagel:

1. Maggie’s Farm
2. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
3. Watching The River Flow
4. Lay, Lady, Lay
5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
6. Blind Willie McTell
7. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
8. Ballad Of A Thin Man
9. I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
10. Love Sick
11. Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)
12. Down Along The Cove
13. Chimes Of Freedom
14. Highway 61 Revisited

15. Like A Rolling Stone
16. All Along The Watchtower

Hannover, 10/26/2005

Set list from Pagel:

1. Maggie’s Farm
2. Tell Me That It Isn’t True (Bob on harp)
3. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
4. Lay, Lady, Lay
5. High Water (For Charley Patton) (Donnie on banjo)
6. Positively 4th Street (Bob on harp, Stu on acoustic guitar)
7. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)
8. Man In The Long Black Coat (Bob on harp)
9. Highway 61 Revisited
10. Never Gonna Be The Same Again
(Bob on harp, Donnie on violin, Tony on standup bass)
11. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
12. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob on harp)
13. Visions Of Johanna (acoustic) (Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
14. Summer Days (Tony on standup bass)

15. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (acoustic)
(Bob on harp, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
16. All Along The Watchtower

Ideas Have Consequences

If, and more likely when action is taken against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, these words by the Iranian President should be remembered (from the AP):

“There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world,” Ahmadinejad told students Wednesday during a Tehran conference called “The World without Zionism.”

“Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury, any (Islamic leader) who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world,” Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad also repeated the words of the founder of Iran’s Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who called for the destruction of Israel.

“As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,” said Ahmadinejad, who came to power in August.

Of-course this sentiment is hardly anything new, but the brazen-ness of making such statements while the “international community” is considering what to do about Iran’s nuclear program is something to note.

Facing an enemy who publicly calls for your extermination, and is clearly setting about achieving the ability to implement it, what is the logical and sane response?

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
‘Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac

Addendum: And that “new wave of attacks” that the terrorist President of Iran just mentioned continues today with more murder at a market in Israel.