What would George do?

No, not that George – George Washington.
I’ve been reading a lengthy thread over at the Volokh Conspiracy about the constitutionality of Bush’s authorization of domestic wiretapping by the NSA. The debate has followed fairly predictable lines between essentialists and consequentialists, but one item stood out. The contributor Medis was interpreting Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and (s)he noted:

As an aside, I note that one of the first things George Washington did when he was appointed commander of the Continental Army was ask for the Continental Congress to provide Articles of War based on the British Articles of War (which in turn were based on Roman Articles of War). He believed that such regulations gave the British (and the Romans before them) an advantage in conducting war, and he wanted the same advantage for his forces.

He actually later complained about the Articles of War passed by the Continental Congress, citing various insufficiencies. At that point, however, he did not decide to simply ignore Congress and make his own rules. Instead, he went back to the Continental Congress and asked them to pass new, better, Articles of War.

Finally, as the first President (and thus the first Commander in Chief), Washington once again asked the First Congress to pass a law adopting the (new) Articles of War that had regulated his forces in the Revolutionary War. Apparently, this person who had commanded our armed forces in what is still the most important war in the history of our country, and in many respects the war which had become the most desperate at times, nonetheless thought, based on his own experience, that Congress should be providing rules to regulate the conduct of the armed forces.

What a difference from today’s George, who seems to think that being Commander in Chief in an undeclared war means that all legal constraints are optional. As Medis observed elsewhere in the same thread:

And I agree with another commentator that if it is true that the Administration deliberately did not seek action in Congress on this issue because of “political risk”, we again encounter a very frightening principle–that somehow we can’t “risk” operating as a democracy during war. Again, that can’t be right: except perhaps when it is impossible to seek new legislation given emergency time constraints, the President has a duty to faithfully execute the existing laws until those laws are actually changed, even during war.

Blast from the past

I flew home from Denver yesterday evening, concluding my last bit of travel for 2005. (But don’t ask me about how 2006 is shaping up!) At the airport I ran into Balint Fleischer who used to be CTO of the Network Storage Group at Sun. He’s now working at Intel, and seems to be enjoying himself.
The flight was uneventful, but full; fortunately I’d burned some frequent flier miles to upgrade. We arrived at Boston 15 minutes early, but all the time saved (and more) was lost because the Ted Williams tunnel was partially closed. (More flooding? Accident? Maintenance? Who knows…) The limo driver got thoroughly frustrated trying to find the best way through the maze of downtown Boston streets, and he didn’t do a very good job of containing his frustrations. I was too tired to tell him, “Hey, if I wanted stress I could drive myself and park at the airport – I pay* you guys to reduce the stress of travel!” Oh, well.

*Sun’s expense policy covers cab fare between my home and the airport when I’m on business travel. Back in the 1990s they’d spring for a limo, but times change. I’m not enthusiastic about Boston taxis (who is?), so I still get a limo , expense cab fare, and pay for the difference myself. Usually it’s well worth it.

Seasonable socializing

I’ve been visiting TheSunOperationFormerlyKnownAsStorageTek in Louisville, CO this week, for a series of meetings. For the most part these have revolved around the alignment of technology roadmaps and how best to use ex-STK technology in Sun products and vice versa. As with all such projects, the purpose of the meeting is not to make the final decisions, but to agree on goals and processes and establish working relationships between engineers. The hard work is still to come, but you have to start with the face-to-face connections.
As part of these meetings, John Fowler (EVP of Network Systems) and Glenn Weinberg (VP of Solaris) flew in. Two VPs sounds like a bit of a misfit for a technical meeting, but these guys are engineers: we were soon discussing the finer points of HyperTransport bandwidth with different HBAs on PCI-X and PCI-Express, as well as the build procedures for OpenSolaris code drops.
seasonal get-together
This evening I was invited to a Christmas party hosted by Barbara Bauer, VP of software in Sun’s Data Management Group. It was great to hang out with the people I’ve been working with over the last six months and not talk about work!!! Many thanks, Barbara – and David for giving me a ride into Denver.

An interview with Paul of Tarsus

Very witty spoof interview between Brian Lamb and Paul of Tarsus. Final exchange:
BRIAN: What are your long range plans? Any future scrolls in the works?
PAUL: Well, as I say in the letters, the world is going to end shortly… so there wouldn’t really be much point.
BRIAN: The world’s going to end?
PAUL: Yes.
BRIAN: Now, did you write that to sell scrolls or do you really believe it?
PAUL: I believe it.
BRIAN: Is it going to end soon?
PAUL: We are living in the final days.
BRIAN: You’re sure?
PAUL: Oh yes! Many alive today will witness the end of the world. This is as absolutely and undeniably true as anything else I have written.
BRIAN: Paul Of Tarsus, thank you.

More blog work

This theme is called LactPlate. I like the clean look, but the text colours and header font are unfortunate. I’m still exploring the vast world of WordPress themes.
One thing that these themes are revealing is that I have far too many categories. I need to cut them down to a dozen or so. I’ve just found a neat plugin to do bulk category management, so when I get a chance….
In my previous blog (still available here) I hand-crafted a set of pages which I linked from the top of the sidebar. WordPress makes it easy to create such pages (even a hierarchy of such things), so I’m starting to migrate the content from the old files.
I still haven’t done anything with the blogroll and links. In the old blog, this material was hand-edited into the MT index template, with much use of [very] raw HTML. There’s no easy way to import this stuff: I’m going to have to do it by hand.
UPDATE: I think I’ve got the fonts the way I want them, including the mouse-overs, and I’ve started to make progress on the sidebar. I need to find a plugin to provide a better editor for new posts: right now it’s easier to author a comment (with live preview) than it is to enter the original blog item. The default handling for picture uploads is very crude….
UPDATE: I imported all of the entries from my old MT blog into the new one. However I’ve left the original pages around in read-only form to satisfy any links back from search engines and other blogs. I’ve also (just now) disabled all of the MovableType CGI’s, so any attempt to comment on the old content, or use the search function, will simply 404
Anyone who gets to my blog through RSS (directly or via an aggregator) shouldn’t notice any problems; I’ve added an .htaccess rule to rewrite the requests. In the long term it’ll be more efficient if you switch to the correct URI.

Still fiddling

I just installed a WordPress plugin to support comment preview and markup, and it seems to conflict with the complex stylesheet used by my previous theme. So I just reverted to the default theme.

Quick turn-around

It’s less than 36 hours since I got home from Los Angeles, and here I go again: off to Denver. After this trip, I should be home for quite a while – three or four weeks, perhaps….

Debugging the new blog

This theme is promising. It’s based on Neuron, which I found at Alex King‘s archive of WP themes.
To-do list: push new RSS links to the various aggregators (and exeriment with an RSS redirector); import my blogroll; test MarsEdit compatibility.
Here’s how I’ve configured comments. The first time you submit a comment (with username and email address), I’ll have to approve it. If I do so, your subsequent comments will appear immediately. We’ll see how this works.

'It's just a goddamned piece of paper'

Yes, I know it’s from Capitol Hill Blue, but it certainly seems compelling:

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.”