Don Giovanni Swept into Hell – Updated

Ah, here’s the stuff! Someone has uploaded the chilling Commandatore scene of from the 2000 Metropolitan performance of Don Giovanni, with Bryn Terfel as Giovanni, the wonderful Ferruccio Furlanetto as Leporello and Sergei Koptchak as the Commandatore.
Some might be familiar with this scene as it was depicted in Milos Foreman’s film, Amadeus. This is the part wherein the evil and unrepentant rakehell/rapist/murderer Don Giovanni, having flippantly invited the ghostly statue of the Commandatore (whom he had killed in the opening scene, after trying to rape his daughter) to sup, finds the statue has accepted. The chilling being is an entity Giovanni can neither charm nor best, and it challenges Don Giovanni to face up to his life, repent of his sins and embrace his last chance for salvation.
I don’t know how the good Captain feels about embedding stuff from youtube, so the link is here.
Don Giovanni is wearing a large cross recently bestowed upon him by the foolishly besotted Donna Elvira who, also worried for his soul, had interrupted his gargantuan meal to plead her case. He repays Elvira for her love and concern by attempting to force himself upon her – on the dining table – before Leporello rescues her and escorts her away. Thence comes the Commandatore. Leporello cowers, the Commandatore makes a non-negotiable offer and Don Giovanni, after his initial shock at seeing his victim come forth a terrifying a supernatural spectre, proceeds to mock the being, his offer, the notion of salvation, and so forth.
Then, of course, he gets sucked down into hell. Terfel is wonderfully cold, imperious and intense.
Some prefer more post-modern, less literal adaptations. I’ve seen a few, and was unimpressed with a blue-jeans clad Giovanni eating McDonalds before a hungry Leporello. I rather like this tradition depiction – the sets by Franco Zeffereli are terrific and so are the costumes. Enjoy…for as long as the thing is up, anyway!
Update: Someone has just posted a less intense moment from Don Giovanni; his attempted seduction of the new bride Zerlina, as Terfel and Hei-Yung Hong sing La Ci Darem La Mano.
And because it is one of the best parts of this production, you have to check out Ferruccio Furlanetto singingLeporello’s Catalogue Aria to a dismayed Donna Elvira – enumerating and expounding on his master’s many sexual conquests, (In Spain, 1003!) while an amused Don Giovanni listens in. It’s delicious, and while Furlanetto barks some of it, he’s still great!
Crossposted at The Anchoress Online.

Fallaci gifts pontifical school

The headline is deplorable (she deserves to be named) but I knew immediately that they were writing about the great Oriana Fallaci, here: Atheist gifts pontifical school in will

An Italian journalist and self-described atheist who died last month has left most of her books and notes to a pontifical university in Rome because of her admiration for Pope Benedict XVI, a school official said Saturday.
Oriana Fallaci had described the pontiff as an ally in her campaign to rally Christians in Europe against what she saw as a Muslim crusade against the West. As she battled breast cancer last year, she had a private audience with Benedict…
In one of her final interviews, Fallaci told The Wall Street Journal: “I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true.”

You’ll want to read the whole article, it’s pretty good.
Fallaci was a fascinating creature and I think the left is making a cowardly mistake in distancing themselves from her because of her ardent writings on Europe and the rising threat from Islamofascists. In decreeing Fallaci insufficiently tolerant, the left has been slowly but surely throwing away one of its most interesting and honorable legends. I love this story about her:
Forced to wear a chador while interviewing the Ayotollah Khomeini, Fallaci asked a more insolent question: “How do you swim in a chador?” Khomeini snapped, “Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it. Because Islamic dress is for good and proper young women.” Fallaci saw an opening, and charged in. “That’s very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I’m going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now.” She yanked off her chador.
That the fierce, passionate and relentlessly cerebral Fallaci, a former resistance fighter against true fascists, is shunted aside and called a “fascist” by know-it-all collegiate bookstore clerks while feminist clowns rule the day is a sad reflection of our dumbed-down era and the devolution of genuine, “classically liberal” thought.
It’s alright. In 20 years, we’ll still be talking about Oriana Fallaci. I doubt we’ll be able to name her detractors. Her most recent books translated to English were The Rage and the Pride and The Force of Reason. Both are brilliant, thoughtful, passionate, maddening and moving and whether you agree with her or not, she will challenge you to think. When or if the third book in that trilogy will be translated to English is anyone’s guess, given the times. I’m not even sure of its title.
While Fallaci was dying of cancer, she couldn’t eat, so she drank champagne, instead. I love that. She lived a life.
Crossposted at The Anchoress Online.

There’s an art to good politics

Peggy Noonan wrote a column in this week’s WSJ that touched on the artlessness of our current crop of politicos, none of whom seem to posess the deft and graceful footwork of presidents and legislators of the past. She wrote:

The dance is where you see the joy of the joust. It’s a gifted pro making his moves. It’s a moment of humor, wit or merriness on the trail; it’s the clever jab or the unexpected line that flips an argument. It’s a thing in itself and is so much itself, so distinctive, that whether you are left, right or center, red team or blue, you can look at the moves of a guy on the other side and say with honest admiration: “Man, that was good.”
FDR, of course, could dance. He gets caught breaking a vow he’d made in Philadelphia when first running for president. What to do? He and his aides agree. “First thing, deny we were in Philadelphia!”

She is correct, of course. The most successful politicians (or at least the most faithfully beloved) had among their gifts the ability to laugh at themselves (as W manages to do from time – to – time, and Bill Clinton did very well) and to even mock their opponents with well-placed, humorous parry that draws a little blood but leaves both standing, even as the rest of us smile and mutter, like Osric, “a hit, a very palpable hit.”
A terrific example of Noonan’s point has just played out on the political stage this week, involving Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the wife of our former president.
In a nutshell, Mrs Edwards – speaking off the cuff – managed to put her foot into it by declaring that while she and Mrs. Clinton are both women of a generation, she, Mrs. Edwards, thought she might be a bit more joyful than Hillary. Which, while perhaps not the greatest thing one can say about another, is not exactly awful, either. Then came, of course, within a 24-hour newscycle, Mrs. Edwards’ humble apology to Mrs. Clinton, along with the standard, responsibility-deflecting excuse:
“Unfortunately, large portions of the material released by (Ladies’ Home Journal) as quoted statements by me were erroneous and nearly all the statements, either because of significant omissions, or editing, or error, give a misimpression about what I said,” Edwards said. “This is particularly true with respect to my comments about Sen. Clinton, who holds a serious and demanding public office while I am largely home, joyfully I must admit, with two lovely children.”
Edwards also said she has “great respect” for the senator.

This reminds me of two amusing scenes: One is First Lady Hillary Clinton’s excuse for kissing Suha Arafat after listening to Mrs. Arafat proclaim in a speech that Israel was targeting women and children and poisoning the Palestinian water supply. Called on the kiss, Mrs. Clinton’s excuse was that she didn’t realize what Arafat had said. She had a “bad translation” of the speech. Everyone else got the accurate translation, but the First Lady and Wife of the American President got…you know…the bad copy of the translation. She couldn’t be held responsible!
This Edwards/Clinton brouhaha also brings to mind the Trial of Clevinger in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. In Mrs. Edwards tortured attempt to insure her apology is sufficiently broad and groveling she sounds like Clevinger, finally understanding what a prosecutor wants from him and – drawing a deep breath – delivering the line: I always never said you couldn’t defeat him, sir.
I always never said you weren’t joyful, Hillary!
The whole episode has been artless and humorless and it has squashed anything like thoughtful commentary from either side. Mrs. Edwards it seems, was being not malicious but merely thoughtful when she made her comparison – her comment was clearly a stream of consciousness moment, an unfinished thought. Mrs. Clinton made no public comment but perhaps she should have. If Mrs. Clinton had the political acumen of those who’ve gone before her – or of her husband – she might have thought back to moment during last year’s State of the Union address during which President Bush made a gentle joke about Bill Clinton’s growing relationship with the Bush parents and the cameras showed Hillary glaring while everyone else in the chamber managed a chuckle. Having remembered that, she might have made a thoughtful and, if not self-deprecating, at least gracious statement, herself. Something along these lines:
“Mrs. Edwards has survived treatment for breast cancer, and it is not surprising that, coming out the other side of such an ordeal, she has managed to find real joyfulness in her life. That’s a blessing. I’m both happy for Elizabeth and grateful that she has reminded me – reminded all of us – that every life has its share of gifts and burdens, and that if we must endure the burdens, we ought to try to remember to find the joy in the gifts. Indeed, joyfulness is something I need to work on, myself. And, hey, I can feel some joy coming on…for all of us…on November 8th!
It’s not really that difficult. It takes a willingness to drop the imperiousness, think a thing through and be a little warm. Instead, Hillary did the silence, then the apology-acceptance, but she left us all with the same sense we’ve always had of her: Joyless, humorless, entitled, Godfather-esque. Kiss the ring and back out. Very good. You can go back to your little life, now, Mrs. Edwards, and when I need you, you’ll be there for me.
A shame. Hillary had a chance to be “human Hillary” and she blew it. And to my way of thinking Elizabeth Edwards blew it, too. She could have done so much better than, “the magazine quoted me badly, I adore Hillary, of course I didn’t mean that!”
She could have said. “Yes, that’s exactly what I said, but I meant nothing negative. I think Mrs. Clinton is smart enough, herself, to know what I’m talking about, and that she’d be the first to say she is often working too hard, and not smelling enough roses.”
That would have been refreshing. And artful, too. Just my opinion, but I think America would hae been keenly interested and grateful to see either woman allow this small episode to play out differently – less predictably and defensively – than it did.
Crossposted at The Anchoress Online.

I have the Conn!

I recall in the film Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr’s character talked about “having the Quan,” which had something to do with self-confidence and positive thinking.
I however, have the Conn – thanks to the good Captain, Ed Morrissey. This apparently means I am at the helm of his fine vessel. Now that I’m here, I don’t know what the man was thinking! I don’t know a rudder from a…you know, the thing that shifts a sail? Ah, well. Expect no sea-faring metaphors for this weekend.
Ed has graciously handed over control of Captains Quarters Blog to yours truly until sometime Sunday. I was very thrilled and flattered to be asked by Ed to do some guest posting for him while he and his First Mate go help young couples find their sea-legs on an Engaged Encounter Weekend. Ed is my first and favorite Blogfather, a first-rate writer and researcher, even-handed and generous. He’s also very kind. I hope I can do well by him and his blog. Certainly I have very big shoes to keep moving.
I will be cross-posting between here and The Anchoress Blog, particularly if I write anything halfway decent. But if you have no idea who I am (and that’s quite likely the case) and would like to get a sense of what I’m about, here are some blasts from my past:
Wealth Porn and Cognitive Dissonance at the Grey Lady
It Starts Not with a “Give Me” but with a “Please Take”
Faith and Reason and Forced Conversions
Prod Mary
Tina Brown, Our Lady of the Air Kiss
Bill Clinton’s Captive Heart
Oriana and Rosie; Two Women of the Left
We’ll not see the like of RFK Again, to Our Detriment
Media Whores and their Creators
“Whatever,” he smiled
The Essential President Bush
“Breeders” infected with “Feeders”
Let’s cast off, then!
The Anchoress

Was Patrick Lane Development In Rory Reid’s District?

Earlier this morning I wrote about Rory Reid, Harry Reid’s son, and his position on the Clark County Board of Commissioners around the same time that his father’s Patrick Lane LLC benefited from a zoning change that allowed commercial/retail development of their parcels. It turns out that the district Rory represents includes Patrick Lane, and the Las Vegas Review Journal noted that in an October 2004 article on the development of a new Wal-Mart. This comes from Lexis-Nexis and has no link, but the article is dated October 5, 2004 (note: CQ reader Dennis S provides this link):

A controversial Wal-Mart Supercenter probably will be built on public land next to McCarran International Airport, but one county representative hopes he will score points with residents if a new soccer complex is included in the project.
County Commissioner Rory Reid, who oversees the older neighborhood, sent developer Marnell Corrao Associates away in June and said its plan for 160 acres of leased airport land would not be approved without input from residents.
Although some homeowners are firmly against a Wal-Mart on a 20-acre portion of a parcel at Russell Road and Eastern Avenue, Reid said he would entertain an opportunity for a developer to build soccer fields in an otherwise heavily developed neighborhood. …
Under Marnell Corrao’s revised plan, to be unveiled Wednesday, Wal-Mart will move from the southwest corner of Russell and Eastern. A 42-foot-high, 203,000-square-foot Wal-Mart would be built on the north side of Patrick Lane west of Eastern Avenue.

This may not be the same parcel that Patrick Lane LLC owned; it sounds as though the airport owned this parcel, at least in June 2004. However, it shows that Patrick Lane falls into Rory’s district, which seems to tie him closer to his father’s deal on the rezoned parcel, and I wonder whether Rory disclosed that when it came to the Clark County Board of Commissioners. Nothing in my Lexis-Nexis search discusses any aspect of Reid’s land deal or the zoning change that enabled it between January 2001 and December 2004.
UPDATE: No, the Patrick Lane LLC parcels were not in Rory Reid’s district. I noted that on another thread, but this is the one I should have updated. That assertion was incorrect, and I apologize for it. That doesn’t change the rest of this story and the rest of Harry Reid’s connections to Nevada developers, most of which have been reported by the Los Angeles Times and other mainstream publications, and which deeply involve his sons and their lobbying for the federal intervention into Nevada real estate championed by their father.

Russia Flacks For Kim Jong-Il

The seismic record of today’s nuclear test by North Korea reveals a very small impact, almost so small that nuclear experts wonder if it isn’t a hoax by Kim Jong-Il. Russia, however, wants everyone to know that they’re very impressed by the test:

Russia’s defense minister said Monday that North Korea’s nuclear test was equivalent to 5,000 tons to 15,000 tons of TNT. That would be far greater than the force given by South Korea’s geological institute, which estimated it at just 550 tons of TNT.
By comparison the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima during World War II was equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT.

The AP reports that Pyongyang alerted Russia to the test two hours before the test took place. Perhaps Russia is working from their pledged yield. In the meantime, one has to believe that South Korean seismologists would have a better position with which to measure the force expended by the test.
Why is this important? The yield of the device has to be significant enough to provide a military deterrent. A 550-ton-yield nuke is worse than useless. One can build conventional bombs with more impact than what Kim tested this morning, and with none of the diplomatic messiness that Kim has created over the last twelve years. A 550-ton-yield nuke doesn’t even make a good tactical weapon, let alone a strategic deterrent. (See Update II below)
Even a 5000-ton-yield nuke would have a questionable deterrent level, considering the inventory in the arsenals of the world’s declared nuclear powers. It might have some value as a terrorist weapon, but it would do no more damage than a Stealth bombing run can do, and the latter has a lot more accuracy than the former. No one would shrug at a bomb that has one-third of the power of the bomb that leveled Hiroshima, but we expected more than that — and right now, it looks like Kim only has a bomb one-tenth of that size.
So why is Russia insisting on overstating Kim’s success? Other than sheer bloody-mindedness, it’s hard to say. If we take them at their word, then we’d have to insist that Russia join in sanctions immediately, which they have so far refused to do. They may want to make the argument that Kim has enough of a nuclear deterrent that we should leave him alone, but that won’t fly either.
The Russians may simply want to continue its game-playing against the West, but as I wrote earlier, the stakes are going to get very high for Vladimir Putin as well as Kim Jong-Il. If they want to bet the house on a pair of deuces, they had better prepare to lose everything.
UPDATE: For those who wonder what a 4.2 Richter measurement really means, this site’s deconstruction of an earthquake falsely assumed to have been a nuclear test seems particularly relevant:

Size of 1997 Event The Washington Post for August 29 gives the seismic magnitude of the event as 3.8. Quoting Pentagon officials, the Washington Times on the 28th states “initial data on the event produced ‘high confidence’ that the activity detected was a nuclear test equivalent to between 100 tons and 1,000 tons of TNT. The relatively small size would be consistent with tests used to determine the reliability of a nuclear weapon . . .such as a scaled-down test of a warhead primer.” The Reviewed Event Bulletin of the IDC gives a seismic magnitude, mb, of 3.9, obtained by averaging readings from two stations. Magnitude is proportional to the log of the amplitude of seismic waves.

The Richter scale is an exponential/logarithmic scale (we native Californians know this from birth), so the difference between 3.9 and 4.2 would mean that the seismic strength was three times stronger than the 1997 event. That would mean the yield on North Korea’s nuclear test would have been between 300 and 3,000 tons, not 5K – 15K as the Russians claim. It fits with the initial Western estimate of 550 tons, although that’s on the low side of the scale. Unless the estimate of the seismic strength gets revised upwards, we’re dealing with a very small yield — which is why the North Koreans may be preparing a second test.
This chart seems even more clear (h/t QandO):
3.5 73 tons
4.0 1,000 tons Small Nuclear Weapon
4.5 5,100 tons Average Tornado (total energy)
A 4.2 seismic event would therefore put the energy towards 2.5 and 3 kt maximum — much ado about almost nothing.
UPDATE II: Yeah, well, obviously the first cup of coffee hadn’t kicked in while I wrote this. The biggest bomb in the arsenal is the MOAB, and it has a TNT yield of 12 tons, not 12 kt, which I mixed up this morning. A few CQ readers kindly asked me whether I had mixed up my tons and kilotons, which obviously I did.
Another point that some have made today is that some nuclear tests are deliberately set up to produce low yields; their point is to test designs, and when dealing with a limited amount of fissile material, this small test works best. However, I doubt that the North Koreans wanted to do that kind of design test. Their intent was to make a big splash and frighten people. While a 550 kt device would make a good terrorist weapon, it doesn’t do much strategically.

Czech Jews Targeted By Jihadists

Islamists planned to round up dozens of Czech Jews and kill them in a spectacular raid on a synagogue, Reuters reports. The radical Islamists planned to target the small remaining Jewish community surviving after the Holocaust:

Islamic extremists planned to kidnap dozens of Jews in Prague and hold them hostage before murdering them, the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on Friday.
The Czech Republic’s leading newspaper quoted unidentified sources close to intelligence agencies as saying the captives would have been held in a Prague synagogue while the captors made broad demands that they knew could not be fulfilled.
When those demands — which were not specified by the sources — were not met, the extremists would blow up the building, killing all who were inside, the paper added.

The Czechs refuse to give any details to the plot, which they apparently foiled on September 23rd. On that day, Czech security troops fanned out across Prague due to an unspecified terror alert. While Prague has not been victimized by terrorists before this, the Czechs have troops in Afghanistan and advisors in Iraq, which makes them a potential target.
It sounds like a rather typical plan for the Islamist radicals: take hostages, issue impossible demands, kill the hostages, and blame the West for not negotiating to resolve Islamist grievances. This should demonstrate that the radical terrorist impulse in Islam has nothing to do with grievances at all, but with a desire to dominate and intimidate.
Once again, the Islamists have focused on Europe for their attacks, which seems at odds with European anti-war sentiment. Either they have seen a security opening to exploit or they do not have the resources to reach across the ocean to attack America. That’s not good news for Europe, but they appear to have blocked three major attacks in a row now, which means that the Islamists may not have the best intel these days — and that’s good news for all of us.

Ethics And Policy In Election-Year Chat

Earlier this morning, I took a few minutes to participate in a chat session hosted by the AP’s Otis Hart on ethics in national politics. I joined Nick Gillespie from Reason and Judd Legum from Think Progress, and we managed to put aside partisan battles — for the most part — to talk about how ethics impact elections and politics:

asap: OK: We hear a lot about the term “ethics” in connection to politics. What sorts of things do you think voters are thinking of when they worry about ethics?
Morrissey: I think that local races will still focus mostly on policy …
Morrissey: but the ethics issues will certainly be part of that consideration, as it should be.
Gillespie: ethics and politics are like oil and vinegar. you need a mix of both, but they separate as soon as they hit the plate.
Legum: I think it goes to the fundamental question on the minds of all voters…
Legum: who does my congressperson represent?..
Legum: Our district and our country…
Legum: or are they more concerned with their own power and self-interest

Obviously, the Foley scandal (now nicknamed “MasturGate”) comprised part of the discussion, but it went far beyond the outrage du jour. How much should ethics play a part in the decisions made by voters? Does ethics matter more than policy, or do ethical questions trump policy? What was the worst ethical violation of the last ten years? You may be surprised at the answers, and I was surprised how well this worked between the three of us. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to participate, and the next topic for discussion.
That brings me to the lastest in the MasturGate scandal, and a piece of advice for the Republicans. People jumped all over an earlier Drudge Report flash that claimed the sexually explicit IMs were part of a joke played on disgraced politician Mark Foley and a question as to whether the teenager involved had turned 18 beforehand (he hadn’t, as it turned out). The story was used to claim that the scandal was a hoax and a hit job on Republican leadership, but that meme died when ABC found three more former pages who claim that Foley also sent them harassing IMs.
This is a real scandal, and attempting to blame the Democrats will gain Republicans nothing. Had the GOP handled this properly in the beginning, it could have remained isolated to Foley himself, as it should be — after all, he’s the one who harassed the pages and not Denny Hastert, John Boehner, or anyone else. Hastert and Boehner are terrific people by all accounts, and I’m sure the IMs have horrified them as much as anyone else. But the father of all this misery comes from the decision made by Hastert and/or his staff to keep the parental complaint about Foley from the bipartisan Page Board. House procedures call for complaints regarding pages to be handled by the Page Board, and no one — not even Denny Hastert — has provided a single explanation as to why they neglected to do so.
I don’t believe that they intended to cover up any misdeeds by Mark Foley, but I do think they put partisan concerns ahead of their responsibilities to Congress, the pages, and the voters. Is that transgression enough to demand Hastert’s resignation? That’s a matter of opinion, and you already know mine. That failure is a fact, however, and had it not occurred, none of the rest of this would matter.
Republicans should stop going on offense on this issue; it’s a fight that is unwinnable. The violation here is Foley’s betrayal of public trust by hitting on young and vulnerable pages, regardless of whether they had turned 18 or not. It’s not ABC reporting on the IMs, and it’s not whether anyone held onto the IMs for a period of time before ABC reported them. Arguing these points will not win any converts among the voters that the GOP could lose in this upcoming election, and it’s not going to motivate the base to turn out for the vote. The constant argument only prolongs the embarassment, and it sets up Republicans for a “gotcha” every time another former page comes forward … and I think we can look forward to more of that as the days progress.
Michelle Malkin has been trying to advise Republicans to simply acknowledge the failure honestly and work to rebuild trust in GOP leadership. Unfortunately, they and their supporters have proven resistant to good advice. The sooner we quit trying to win an unwinnable argument, the sooner the air will deflate from this embarassment. If Republicans had done that last Friday, all of the subsequent revelations would have generated drastically less damage to party credibility.
NOTE: One of CQ’s longtime commenters posted that I’m motivated to publish this opinion in order to burnish my non-existent credentials as a moderate and to win blog awards. All I can say in response is this: I didn’t start this blog to shill for any politician or political party, nor do I do this to win blog awards. What you get at CQ is my honest opinion. If you want to read someone who will never criticize Republicans, I suggest you bookmark the party’s web site.

Three Years Of CQ

Three years. 8,156 posts. Over 109,000 comments and 16,000 trackbacks. 23 million visits. And the best blog community in the ‘sphere.
It all started with this post:

Welcome to the Captain’s Quarters!
So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas which on him prey
And these have smaller still to bite ’em,
and so proceed ad infinitum.
Thus every poet, in his kind,
Is bit by him who comes behind.

— Jonathan Swift
I love this quote, and I’ve had it memorized since I first read it in Tom Burnham’s Dictionary of Misinformation. In fact, I think it explains blogs and their popularity, and in some degrees their incestuousness. Glenn Reynolds or Andrew Sullivan read a news story, and they post a commentary, and then other blogs post commentaries to their commentaries, and so proceed ad infinitum.
Don’t get me wrong – I think that’s terrific! We need an open market for political discussion. Hash things out to the nth degree. Argue, bicker, and scold. The trick is to keep your head, check your assumptions, and expose yourselves to differing points of view. That’s what I will try to do here. I hope you enjoy the hell out of it.

When I first started this blog, I expected it to serve two purposes: an archive of my thoughts and important stories on current events, and a way to hone my writing skills and discipline. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the success I have experienced. In fact, had I known it would get anywhere near this kind of attention, I would have used a different nom de plume. “Captain Ed” was a nickname well known to my friends and family, who were the only people I thought would ever read this.
On the other hand, I’ve made a lot of friends through this blog, friends that I never would have made otherwise. People like Hugh Hewitt, Mark Tapscott, Jonathan Last, Glenn Reynolds, and so many more. Some, like Jon Henke, started almost from the beginning of the blog. Others, like Michelle Malkin, came a bit later and are just as dear to me. I’ve met people across the political spectrum, like Joe Gandelman and E. J. Dionne, who proved that political differences don’t have to translate to personal animosities. I’ve worked with the New York Sun, the New York Post, the Washington Post, the Weekly Standard, and now I get to work with the Examiner and the Heritage Foundation.
I also get to do a great radio show every Saturday with outstanding folks like Mitch Berg, King Banaian, Brian Ward, Chad the Elder, John Hinderaker, Michael Brodkorb, and even occasionally Scott Johnson. All of these are great friends and terrific bloggers, whose links are at the top of my blogroll for a reason.
So I feel very, very blessed, but most of all I feel blessed by having such a great community of readers and commenters. Most of the CQ experience comes from this group, not from me, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of you, regardless of your perspective. Sometimes I fret too much about keeping the rhythm of the comment threads to a high standard, but my impulse is pure even if my implementation is sometimes clumsy. I look forward every day to the debate that gets facilitated at this site, and I hope you do, too.
In three years, I have never taken a day off, which I believe means that I’ve solved that writer’s discipline problem. I may at some time take a few days to recharge the batteries, but for the moment, I’m delighted to have this outlet for my opinions and perspective. I’m enjoying the hell out of this. I hope the rest of you continue to do so, too.
And I do have one person to thank most for these three years:
If it wasn’t for the First Mate, I’d never be able to do this.
NOTE: Another great blogfriend, The Anchoress, celebrates 2 million visitors. Congratulations on my blog-twin Sister Toldjah for her 3rd blogiversary, too, and big thanks to Joe for a nice post at TMV.

Blankley Says Hastert Must Go

The Washington Times’ Tony Blankley has joined a small chorus of voices calling for the resignation of Denny Hastert as Speaker of the House:

The facts of the disgrace of Mark Foley, who was a Republican member of the House from a Florida district until he resigned last week, constitute a disgrace for every Republican member of Congress. Red flags emerged in late 2005, perhaps even earlier, in suggestive and wholly inappropriate e-mail messages to underage congressional pages. His aberrant, predatory — and possibly criminal — behavior was an open secret among the pages who were his prey. The evidence was strong enough long enough ago that the speaker should have relieved Mr. Foley of his committee responsibilities contingent on a full investigation to learn what had taken place, whether any laws had been violated and what action, up to and including prosecution, were warranted by the facts. This never happened.
Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois, the Republican chairman of the House Page Board, said he learned about the Foley e-mail messages “in late 2005.” Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the leader of the Republican majority, said he was informed of the e-mail messages earlier this year. On Friday, Mr. Hastert dissembled, to put it charitably, before conceding that he, too, learned about the e-mail messages sometime earlier this year. Late yesterday afternoon, Mr. Hastert insisted that he learned of the most flagrant instant-message exchange from 2003 only last Friday, when it was reported by ABC News. This is irrelevant. The original e-mail messages were warning enough that a predator — and, incredibly, the co-chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children — could be prowling the halls of Congress. The matter wasn’t pursued aggressively. It was barely pursued at all. Moreover, all available evidence suggests that the Republican leadership did not share anything related to this matter with any Democrat. …
House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once. Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week’s revelations — or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away. He gave phony answers Friday to the old and ever-relevant questions of what did he know and when did he know it? Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance.

As I wrote earlier, the strange reluctance of Republicans to investigate the earlier e-mails combined with Hastert’s clumsy attempts to distance himself from the scandal on Friday have compounded the scandal — which by all rights should fall completely on Mark Foley himself. Hastert’s staffers told the press on Friday that he hadn’t known of a problem with Foley, forcing John Boehner to retract his statement that he himself had told Hastert of the issue. Only after Thomas Reynolds went public the next day did Hastert himself admit that he had known of the earlier e-mails.
But let’s put that aside for the moment, and concentrate on what Hastert and the leadership say they did in response to Foley. Once they found out about the e-mails through the complaint of an underage page, all they did was ask Foley about it, and accepted his denials at face value. Incredibly, no one apparently ever asked any of Foley’s former or current pages if they had noticed any inappropriate behavior from the Congressman. What kind of an investigation doesn’t address the reality of patterns in allegedly predatory behavior? Foley’s uncommon interest in young teenage boys had become parlor talk among the pages, but either Hastert didn’t want to find that out or deliberately avoided it. Hastert apparently made the decision not to follow procedures and refer the matter to the Page Board, the bipartisan committee that oversees pages, and that looks very clearly like a cover-up.
And someone has to explain why Foley retained his position on the Caucus for Missing and Exploited Children. No one saw a problem with this?
Even ascribing the best of intentions to Hastert and the other members of leadership, personal friendship with Foley doesn’t excuse that level of incompetence. Furthermore, when the scandal broke, Hastert should have immediately explained his involvement in the earlier complaint, rather than wait for it to dribble out. That’s what leadership means: controlling a situation and providing an example rather than allowing events to control you and your party. All Hastert needed to do was to come out on Friday and said, “We had a complaint about suggestive e-mails this winter, and we relied on Mark Foley’s word that nothing more untoward had occurred. In hindsight, that was a mistake, but we wanted to honor the wishes of the parents and not make a public spectacle of the situation.” It wouldn’t have explained the earlier incompetence, but at least it would have dampened the firestorm that erupted around the changing stories of House leadership.
I can’t agree with Blankley’s suggestion for a new, interim Speaker. Henry Hyde is a fine Congressman, but if he thinks that the author of Clinton’s impeachment will serve as a symbol of bipartisan cooperation, he’s mistaken. The GOP needs to find a reformer for the short-term position, someone whose reputation for clean government will be beyond reproach. However, Blankley’s call for new leadership in some form is one that the Republicans should heed.
UPDATE: Brendan Miniter doesn’t go as far as Tony Blankley, but he’s on the same wavelength:

Here’s what we know so far: Late last year, when informed that there might be something amiss, the speaker’s office referred the issue to Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois. He heads the committee in charge of the page program, and he took a look at the few emails that had surfaced. Mr. Shimkus was concerned enough by what he saw to confront Mr. Foley and tell him to cut off all direct contact with underage pages. The Florida congressman apparently spun a story that he was only mentoring the boy who had received the emails. And, looking over messages asking for a picture and what the page wanted for his birthday, Mr. Shimkus apparently bought it. But the question that will haunt Republicans now is, if the evidence was compelling enough to confront Mr. Foley, why wasn’t it also compelling enough to dig deeper?
We also know that Mr. Foley, an active campaigner and prolific fund-raiser, flirted with the idea of running for Senate this year (spurred on by some Republicans who considered him a stronger candidate than Rep. Katherine Harris, who still carried baggage from the 2000 election). He inexplicably withdrew from consideration several months ago. When ambitious politicians suddenly decide not to climb to a higher rung on the political ladder, there’s usually a good reason. Since Mr. Shimkus was already aware of concerns of Mr. Foley’s emails to congressional pages, it’s fair to ask another question to which Republicans may prefer not to find an answer: After Mr. Foley folded up his Senate ambitions, why didn’t Mr. Shimkus or anyone else considered the possibility that there was more to those emails than Mr. Foley let on?

Other voices: Hugh Hewitt disagrees; be sure to read his whole post. OTB agrees, as does La Shawn Barber.
UPDATE: Dafydd ab Hugh disagrees as well, and at length. Be sure to read all of my old co-blogger’s post.