Monthly Archives: June 2005

Why should we “respect the box”?

Every couple of months I like remind the folks who check in on this humble outpost why I call it “Respect the Box.” I stole it wholesale from the inestimable Professor Volokh. It comes from this post, which reads in full:

“Respect the Box”: I was just thinking back to a particular set of incidents (the details need not detain us), and it struck me how important it is both to think outside the box and to understand why the box is there and why 95% of the answers are within it. So the catchy slogan “think outside the box,” important as it is, needs to be complemented with an equally catchy antithesis. Hence, my proposal:
Respect the Box.

I liked the idea so much it took it as my own motto. It’s simply irresistible for a crusty old conservative like me. With Prof. Volokh’s permission, I also used it to name my website/blog.
Thanks again, Professor!

Noonan: Stuff a sock in it, Barack.

In her article today about the hubris of modern politicians:

This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time magazine and explaining that he’s a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better. “In Lincoln’s rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat–in all this he reminded me not just of my own struggles.”
Oh. So that’s what Lincoln’s for. Actually Lincoln’s life is a lot like Mr. Obama’s. Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery.
Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton’s first campaign for the presidency.
You see the similarities.

God, I love Peggy Noonan.
Read the whole thing, of course.

Back from WDW!

As I mentioned a while back, the family went to Walt Disney World. It was an amazing trip! Much fun was had by all.
If you haven’t been, or haven’t been recently, go. Now.
Sorry for the long hiatus.
(Like you cared.)

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

When I saw this article about the Canadian Chainsaw Murderer, I started composing a post in my head. It went something like this: “I can’t believe the MSM is criticizing the border patrol for not holding someone about whom they had no information to suggest that he had committed any crime.”
But then I saw this post by the inestimable Professor Reynolds. He holds the incident up as being an example of why homeland security is a joke. So I thought, “Well, geez… I usually agree with Glenn. I must be wrong. Let me read it again and reassess my opinion.
Nope. I think Glenn’s wrong on this one. What if this guy hadn’t killed anyone, and the chainsaw was just rusty, or he had used it to, oh, I don’t know… say, tear down his red barn (o.k., I’m stretching, but stay with me here.) [OOOOOoooo wait! What if he was a new agey artist on his way to performing Chainsaw In Red Paint at a National Endowment of the Arts function?] How quickly would someone on the left jump up and down and shout ASHCROFT!! in an ACLU meeting to incite a lefty riot about how citizen’s rights were being trampled by the border patrol, who had detained this innocent man for an excessive period of time for no better reason than they didn’t like the look of his chain saw? [And an artiste no less!]
Seriously, though. What’s the probable cause to detain this guy? He’s carrying some weapons and a chainsaw that may or may not have blood on it. And yet they did detain him – for two hours. (I didn’t get detained for two hours the last time I crossed the border – how about you?) But they simply didn’t have a reason to keep him.
If anyone can posit a reason based upon either state or federal law for detaining someone under these circumstances, I’m open to the argument. But based upon the AP story, I just don’t see it.

Anthony said Despres was questioned for two hours before he was released. During that time, he said, customs agents employed “every conceivable method” to check for warrants or see if Despres had broken any laws in trying to re-enter the country.
“Nobody asked us to detain him,” Anthony said. “Being bizarre is not a reason to keep somebody out of this country or lock them up. … We are governed by laws and regulations, and he did not violate any regulations.”
Anthony conceded it “sounds stupid” that a man wielding what appeared to be a bloody chain saw could not be detained. But he added: “Our people don’t have a crime lab up there. They can’t look at a chain saw and decide if it’s blood or rust or red paint.”

That sounds about right to me. And respectfully, I don’t see how this is an indictment of homeland security. After all – there was no reason to detain him at the border, but they did take away his weapons. Then, when Canadian authorities did finally get around to putting out an alert of this guy, American authorities were able to find him within hours. To my way of thinking, the system worked as it should in this case.

Marine’s dream was born in Moscow

There’s an interesting story in the Columbus Dispatch today about a Russian kid who came to the United States in September 2001 at age 15, spoke no English, but later became a Marine.

Alexey Gvenetadze had never seen someone as tough as that Marine guarding the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
The 14-year-old’s mother had married an American she’d never seen until just before the wedding. Mother and son were standing in line for visas to the United States. Alexey didn’t want to leave his friends. But then he saw that Marine.
“He freezed when he saw him,” said his mother, now Elena Kumbrasova Burnett. “He said, ‘Can I go and look at him one more time?’ ”
She was ready to marry a stranger, to leave her family and friends in Nizhny Novgorod. She wasn’t counting on her son’s wanting to join the Marines.
She had married, in part, to get Alexey out of Russia and away from mandatory military service. For years, she’d gone to doctors, telling them he’d wet the bed, hoping for some medical excuse she could give to the government.
“I just want peace in my life,” Elena said.
But he’d seen that Marine. And as it turned out, he wouldn’t find his real place in the United States until he became one himself.

The story goes on to explain how Alexey’s mother met her father – not quite a mail order bride, they met through mutual friends who had used a Russian-American dating service.

Elena and Alexey, by then calling himself Alex, arrived in the United States at the end of September that year, just after the terrorist attack. The attack would eventually lead to a war in Iraq, where Marines would go to fight.
At 15 years old, Alex started at Westerville South. He didn’t even know the English alphabet. He learned it, but not happily.
“He seemed very lonely,” said Carole Dardamanis, who teaches English-as-a-second-language classes at Westerville South. She was Alex’s favorite.
“I remember talking to his mother and saying something was missing. He just seemed so solemn.”
Alex stayed that way for two years. Then, one day when he was a senior, he met a Marine recruiter at school. He remembered what that Marine at the embassy had looked like. His entire personality changed.
He walked and talked differently. He started working out so he could pass the physical requirements. He asked Dardamanis to tutor him for the military entrance test.
“He had such purpose,” the teacher said. “He had found his place in his new culture. . . . He was an all-American kid.”
Elena didn’t like it, but she wasn’t worried. He wouldn’t be able to pass the English test, she thought. But he did. Then she thought he couldn’t pass the physical test, but he did that, too.
“I told him, ‘You don’t have to fight for America. It’s your adopted country,’ ” she said. “Look at all these happy people around with jobs and girlfriends who aren’t fighting.”
He answered, “Maybe if we weren’t in Iraq, they wouldn’t be so happy.”

That’s cool. It took this kid just three years in America to realize that some things are worth fighting for. Why have so many others who have lived here all their lives still not had the same realization?
(Here’s the link – but you have to be a subscriber.)

News flash! USSC Opinion Just Announced!!

Care to know where your favorite justice came down on SPECTOR V. NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE LTD. (03-1388)?
Good luck.

Kennedy, J.,
announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II-A-1, and II-B-2, in which Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined, an opinion with respect to Parts II-A-2, II-B-1, II-B-3, and III-B, in which Stevens and Souter, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part III-A, in which Stevens, Souter, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Ginsburg, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Breyer, J., joined. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in part, dissenting in part, and concurring in the judgment in part. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O’Connor, J., joined, and in which Thomas, J., joined with respect to Part I-A.

I guess it’s true what they say: Everyone has an opinion.

Free Katie!!

Anyone else tired of complaining about Islamofascism? It’s time for a new cause celebre!
The rumor is that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are already engaged. This of course, is an outrage that goes far beyond splashing urine on a Koran.
The last time I so enraged about geopolitical affairs, I wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Free Kuwait”.
Well, it looks like I have some shopping to do.