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Monday, October 31, 2005

Wilson lies, Press Club laughs

Shameful performance by Joe Wilson and the National Press Club yesterday. I wish I was set up to post video clips, but at least I got it on tape.

Wilson first repeated the disinformation from his June 2003 NYT op-ed, claiming that the evidence he found on his trip to Niger (that Iraq had not actually succeeded in purchasing large amounts of uranium ore from Niger) debunked the President's State of the Union claim (that Saddam had TRIED to purchase uranium ore from Africa). He also omitted, as he did in his NYT op-ed, that he had actually found evidence that the Iraqis HAD tried to purchase uranium ore from Niger.

These Wilson lies have long since been exposed, first by then CIA director George Tenet, the week after Wilson's original op-ed:
He reported back to us that one of the former Nigerian officials he met stated that he was unaware of any contract being signed between Niger and rogue states for the sale of uranium during his tenure in office.
The same former official also said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Iraq and Niger.

The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales.
Wilson's lies about having debunked the President's sixteen words were also painstakingly documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee report on pre-war intelligence assessments. (UPDATE 11/5: A discussion about the initial reporting of Tenet’s exposure of Wilson, who was on it and who was hiding it, here.) How did the room-full of reporters react to being the vehicle for the repetition of known lies? They laughed and applauded.

The shameful low point for the Press Club was the "question and answer" session. No questions from the attendees were allowed. Press Club President Rick Dunham spoon fed Wilson a series of friendly questions, hand picked to lead Wilson into additional segments of his prepared screed. The curtain dropped entirely when Wilson let slip that he already knew the second question. Here is the revealing moment, transcribed from my tape of the speech:
Joe Wilson: ... Now with respect to the second question? Was Rove resign? [Sic.] Was that there?

Rick Dunham [sotto voce]: That's coming up.

JW [sotto voce]: Oh, that's coming up. [Then in full voice, realizing everyone has heard]: I read the question.... I read it over his shoulder.

RD: That's... right-heh… Should Karl Rove resign and...
[Interrupted by audience laughter. JW and RD also laugh, but without pausing as they hurry past the naked moment.]
This is a news organization? EVERY question was a leading puffball. "Have you been threatened?" "Should Bush be impeached?" Remember how they made a front page scandal out of American soldiers working out who would answer what type of question from the President? I'm sure they will be really outraged that an accuser telling known lies got to pick which questions he would be asked. Oh wait a minute. They were there. And they tittered and applauded and welcomed every false gesture.

It's hard to say what the low point for Wilson was, but it is worth exposing his newest disinformation about the forged documents. See Stephen Hayes’ recent Weekly Standard article for the sequence of lies that Wilson pedaled to several reporters in the Spring of '03, claiming to have discovered in Niger that the intelligence about Iraqi attempts to buy uranium ore had been based on forged documents. There were indeed some forged documents, which may have been concocted by the French to try to undermine the U.S./British case against Saddam Hussein, but these did not come into U.S. possession until October 2002. Wilson's trip to Niger was in February 2002. (Some claim the forgeries were concocted by the Italians, but either way, they played no role in Wilson's trip.)

Here is the story Wilson told to Nicholas Kristof at the Times. (The source of the story and the subject of the story were both revealed by Wilson, in Senate testimony, to be Wilson himself.)
[T]hat envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged. The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade.
The purpose of this lie was, of course, to accuse the President of lying. Here is how Wilson told the story to The New Republic's John Judis and Spencer Ackerman:
He [the unnamed ex-ambassador, sent to check out the Iraq-uranium intelligence] returned after a visit to Niger in February 2002 and reported to the State Department and the CIA that the documents were forgeries. The CIA circulated the ambassador's report to the vice president's office, the ambassador confirms to TNR. But, after a British dossier was released in September detailing the purported uranium purchase, administration officials began citing it anyway, culminating in its inclusion in the State of the Union. "They knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie," the former ambassador tells TNR.
Similar lies were retailed to Walter Pincus at the Post.

When the forged documents were exposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in March 2003, Wilson obviously did not know that they had not come into U.S. possession until well after his trip to Niger and he may well have assumed that they actually were the basis for his trip to Niger. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee report: "[N]one of the meeting participants [at Wilson's pre-Niger-trip briefing] recall telling the former ambassador the source of the report." [p. 45. Via Matthew Continetti]. In any case, based on his errant assumptions about the vintage of the forged documents, Wilson recklessly included them in his lies. When the date discrepancy came out, he had no choice but to back off. In Senate: testimony:
The former ambassador said that he may have “misspoken” to the reporter when he said he concluded the documents were “forged.” [Intelligence committee report, p. 45. Via The Daily Howler.]
At the Press Club speech yesterday, Wilson was not under oath and so the admission of "mis-speaking" turned into an accusation that Kristof lied. Wilson quoted Kristof "as saying that he was aware that I had not seen the documents. He knew it. And yet it got into his article.”

Presumably Wilson would say that Pincus, Ackerman and Judis were lying too. Everyone is a liar except for proven liar Joseph Wilson. Just one Minute is prodding Kristof on when he is going to clarify who mis-spoke. So far it seems that Kristof would rather be called a liar than to pull back a false story intended to damage the President. [UPDATE 11/2: Kristof just told Jack Shafer that: "he... was sure his piece accurately reflected what his sources told him."]

Yet even as Wilson's Press Club speech backed away from his earlier assertions that he had personally exposed the forgeries before they even existed, he still tried to insinuate that the forged documents were the basis for the Niger intelligence that he was investigating in 2002. No, he had not seen the forged documents, Wilson insisted yesterday, but: "I was briefed about the existence of documents... I never saw the documents. I never said I saw the documents." Get it? The documents that he has been loudly denying he ever saw--the forged documents that bad people like Kristof keep saying he claimed he saw--were presumably “the documents” behind the original investigation.

Actually, Wilson was not briefed about ANY documents, according to everyone else at the meeting (see above), but set that aside. "The documents" from 2002 are insinuated to be the forged documents, and just as Wilson charged earlier that he had told the CIA long before the State of the Union that the Niger story was based on forgeries, so too he insinuated yesterday that the Bush administration knew that the Niger intelligence was based on forgeries.

When the IAEA exposed the forgeries several weeks after the State of the Union, "At that time," said Wilson yesterday, "I determined that the record really did need to be corrected." But the forgeries had just been exposed. What was it that had not yet been set straight? It would have to be who knew that the forgeries were forgeries, and when they knew it. He is just trying to maintain his earlier accusations that the Niger intelligence was based on forgeries and that top people knew it, even after his basis for making those accusations has been exposed as one of the most outrageous whoppers in the history of treason.

[UPDATE 11/2: Wilson has now directly asserted on Larry King that the forged documents were the intelligence behind his original trip to Niger:
There was my report, there was one done by our ambassador on the ground and there was a separate one done by a four-star Marine Corps general, all of which concluded that there was no there there, that there was no reason to believe that the transaction that had been alleged in this documents that were later deemed to be forgeries had ever taken place or could have taken place.

The fact that these ended up in the State of the Union address I think in and of itself is something that's worth looking into.
The clueless Larry King of course had no idea that Wilson was telling the same lies he had already been castigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee for telling earlier.]

What actually happened within the administration is murky. It is at least logically possible that the forgeries could have influenced the State of the Union speech, since they had been in U.S. possession since the previous October and were not exposed publicly to be forgeries until several weeks after the State of the Union. Maybe some at CIA were fooled into thinking that the forgeries constituted corroborating evidence. Kevin Drum notes the Senate's finding that the State Dept. immediately suspected that the forgeries were forgeries, but that the CIA seems not to have picked up the warning. At the same time, the British, who President Bush cited for the Africa intelligence in his State of the Union speech, denied (and still deny) that the forgeries entered into their intelligence assessment.

Through whatever combination of factors, the exposure of the forgery did seem to throw the Bush Administration into mea culpa mode, prompting CIA director Tenet to concede that the Africa-uranium statement should have been left out of the President's address. (Of course this concession was misinterpreted in numerous press reports to mean that: "The statement is now acknowledged to be false").

Suppose that the forgeries did have some affect on the intelligence assessment. What difference would that make? There is no reason to believe that the analysts and the other administration figures involved were doing anything but making sincere efforts to convey the intelligence accurately (however incompetent those efforts sometimes were). Wilson has absolutely nothing to add here. All he did was lie about what he found in Niger (claiming to have debunked the story that Saddam had tried to buy uranium ore, when he in fact he verified it), and lie about having exposed the forged documents before anyone had seen them.

Wilson is guilty of treason, over and over again retailing malicious disinformation about the nation's war effort, and the main organs of the mainstream media keep proving themselves eager to abet.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Evil bit©h II

An awesome takedown of California's evil bit©h #2 by David Gelertner in the LA Times (via Powerline).

In questioning Condi Rice, Senator Barbara Boxer rejected the idea that saving Iraqis from Saddam's murderous regime was a legitimate war aim. Her reasoning? Because her own relatives had been slaughtered by Hitler's murderous regime. She was OFFENDED, apparently because the murder of other people's relatives was being likened to the murder of HER relatives!

Gelertner has the right word for her. Not the b word, but the d word:
[I]t is only natural for demagogues to attack thoughtful, polite officials who are trying hard to tell straight truths about a complicated war. The Boxers of this world ought to be met with single-minded slogans, but no doubt Rice can't see why she should stoop that low.
Gelertner uses Boxer's pusillanimity as a taking off point for putting our war aims in larger perspective (“A history lesson”). Definitely worth reading.

Gelertner also has an awesome takedown of the nation's #1 evil bit©h, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont: "Americans won't let Democrats lose Iraq."

I only have one quibble. "Iraq is nothing like Vietnam," claims Gelertner. Wrong. Iraq is VERY like Vietnam. We had that one won too, until the stinking Democrats succeeded in intentionally losing it. But Gelertner is right about what is different this time around:
This nation will abandon the Democratic Party before it abandons Iraq.
We certainly better.

California's #1 evil bit©h here.

[About the bit©h euphemism: it's not that I'm squeamish about using not-quite bad language. I just don't want my blog censored by squeamish censoring services.]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Evil bit©h watch

Dianne Feinstein takes the Vietnamization of Iraq to a new low today, trying to paint Iraq with one of the left's great lies about Vietnam: that it was a civil war, implacating no important principles that called for our taking sides.

The enemy is not driven by Islamo-fascist ideology, you see, or by any desire to recapture the Sunni-Baathist dictatorship. Murderous opposition to democracy is merely driven by Sunni fear of being denied democratic equality:
This is not an insurgency single-mindedly propelling itself against U.S. forces, rather, at its core it is driven by visceral Sunni fear and objections to Shiite rule over the near and long term.
Just ignore the Baathist history, and all those Al Qaeda foreign fighters. Can't you see that the terror-bombers just want to be treated fairly? And given a civil dispute like this, there is really no grounds for favoring the side that is being murdered by the thousands while struggling for democracy over the side that is murdering by the thousands while struggling against democracy:
We are in the middle of two factions, Shiite and Sunni, attempting to settle their differences by mostly violent means. Sunni extremists have killed over 8,000 Iraqis so far this year and estimates indicate 25,000 to 30,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since the war began.
There is nothing larger that anyone is fighting for here:
I believe this is a matter for Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds to address through political negotiation. This battle cannot be won militarily. ... America needs to change course, reassess its mission in light of this escalating insurgency, place more responsibility on Iraq for a negotiated settlement, and begin a structured drawdown of American forces.
The fact is, we have already won militarily. Democracy is already established. The legitimate government is rapidly developing the capacity to destroy its and our Baathist-Islamofascist enemy. The only thing that can possibly go wrong is if we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by leaving too soon, which is exactly what Feinstein wants. She is seeking a repeat of the Democrats' great historical victory: the loss of the Vietnam war. If only the Democrats can find a way to engineer a loss in Iraq, Feinstein imagines, there will follow another decade of Democrat party ascendency in America, as followed that earlier Democrat "triumph."

Why is anyone still a Democrat? Self-service doesn't explain it. Making moral sense would be far more self-serving than shilling for terrorists is. How can beings with the capacity for moral comprehension embrace such gratuitous evil?

More bit©h brigade here.

Janice Rogers Brown

Because we've just seen how damaging a nomination that splits a party's base can be. A knock-down-drag-out that pits white leftist Democrats against a super-competent black woman would permanently double the Republicans' percentage of the black vote.

She's not the bedrock originalist of a Luttig or a McConnell, but she is 100 times the scrupulous lawyer that O'Connor was, and she is one of the only judges around who is solidly behind increased protection for economic liberty. See, for instance, her invocation of the "takings" clause in this San Francisco property rights case. She is also a fantastic wordsmith and an outspoken fighter. It will be such a shock to a P.C. witch like Ginsburg, who likes to see herself as patronizing black people, that she just might quit.

Like Brown herself, I am utterly against taking race and sex into account for affirmative action purposes, but am all for it for political effect. Brown would smash the Democrat party like a vase.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Frodo Test

The following is a somewhat lengthy two part post on the Supreme Court’s arrogation of the unconstitutional power to set aside the Constitution whenever it deems that there is a “compelling state interest” in doing so. The main article lays out the broad history of this usurpation, beginning with the Court’s dishonest invention of the compelling-state-interest test in the World War II internment case, Korematsu v. United States. The tragic denoument is Justice O’Connor’s embrace of the full unconstitutional potential of the Korematsu test in her fifteen year tenure as the Court’s dominant swing vote.

The second part is an addendum, taking a detailed look at the family of constitutional balancing tests spawned by Korematsu. These tests were first embraced and elaborated on the strength of their legitimate uses. The extraordinary power of balancing tests does not just make them dangerous. It also makes them indispensable. The Court just has to be very scrupulous about maintaining the proper priority between different kinds of weights. In particular, nothing can be deemed to outweigh a constitutional requirement but another constitutional requirement. Korematsu’s tainted origins destroyed this safeguard from the start, making O’Connor-type destruction of the Constitution inevitable. What is needed now, if the ring of evil power is to be returned to Mt. Doom, is to distinguish the legitimate from the illegitimate uses of the Korematsu family of balancing tests, and banish the illegitimate uses forever.

Article: The Frodo test

Since the 1930’s the Supreme Court has worked two fundamental depredations against the Constitution. First, it freed the political branches of the federal government from the Constitution’s clearly articulated system of limited enumerated powers. Second, it arrogated to itself unlimited power to set aside constitutional requirements whenever it deems that there is a “compelling state interest” in doing so.

When evaluating nominees to the Court, it is not their view of the first of these depredations that is the greatest concern. The important question his how they will respond when they become one of the bearers of the ring of unlimited unconstitutional power that the Court has forged for itself. Will they be part of the fellowship of the ring that is trying to return the ring of evil power to the Mountain of Doom from which it was faithlessly drawn, or will absolute power corrupt absolutely, as Lord Acton warned? Will they revel and glory in their unlimited power to choose a path for the nation that no majority can override?

These high stakes, never contemplated by the framers of our Constitution, call for the application of a litmus test that all nominees to the Court must pass before they can be confirmed. They should all have to pass a Frodo test, demonstrated by years of clearly articulated conviction. They must burn with a desire first and foremost to return the Rhinegold to the Rhine: to destroy the ring of evil power, placing it forever beyond the reach of any future Court.

Harriet Miers, who has almost no experience with Constitutional law at all, has never confronted the Frodo test. Thus she has not passed it, and should not be confirmed. That would be like sticking Sauron’s ring on a random person. Her chances of turning out to be a ring-bearer are one in a thousand. We need to appoint those who are already identifiable as ring-bearers, and no one else. The havoc that stands to be wreaked by one who succumbs to the power of the ring makes the stakes too high. Just as important, the only ones who have a chance to find the path back to Mordor are those who have spent a lifetime studying how the ring of evil power came out of Mordor.

The first revolution: overthrowing the system of limited powers

Under threat from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “court packing plan,” the Supreme Court ruled that, since everything affects interstate commerce in some way, the federal government is empowered under the interstate commerce clause to do anything. This interpretation of the commerce clause had earlier been rejected precisely because it annihilates the system of limited powers, proving that it could not possibly have been intended. But a new day had dawned.

A desperate nation, rallied by a popular president, insisted that the Court see the Constitution, not as a dead letter, but as a “living Constitution,” to be interpreted flexibly according to the needs of the day. “Take this scepter and crown,” the nation cried, and after thinking it over, the Justices decided that they could live with that. The historical aphorism is that “a switch in time saved nine”: that FDR’s Court Packing scheme was averted when Justice Owen Roberts switched from resisting FDR’s open ended use of the commerce clause to supporting it. But Roberts is not the only one who switched. Most of the justices quickly accommodated themselves to their new role as philosopher kings, empowered to read into our “living Constitution” whatever requirements would best serve the age.

The second great revolution in constitutional law came through the particular mechanism by which the Justices arrogated to themselves the unconstitutional power that the mob thrust upon them. The problem with a living Constitution is that there is always that pesky written Constitution, standing as a rebuke to any violation of its language. Some means for setting the written Constitution aside was needed. The means was discovered almost by serendipity. It is perhaps best described as a seed that fell into a crack, then grew into an oak, that split the world.

The “compelling state interest” test

In 1944, the Court heard the case of Korematsu v. United States. Fred Kormatsu was a Japanese-American who, refusing to leave the West Coast evacuation zone during World War II, was forced into an internment camp. When he sued the federal government for violating his right to equal protection, the case should have been simple. The Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to the federal government. It explicitly only applies to the states. Nothing in the Constitution barred the federal government from discriminating at will. Korematsu had no case.

To a Court that had taken on the job of fashioning a living Constitution—of reading the Fourteenth Amendment, not for what it says, but for what it should say—this was unacceptable. The states are not allowed to discriminate, but the feds are? Clearly this was an oversight, a mistake, that needed to be fixed. Still, as with the commerce clause, the Court needed to find some linguistic trick by which it could get around the plain language of the Constitution. What it came up with is the H-bomb of constitutional interpretation: an all-purpose means for setting aside any constitutional requirement, anywhere, any time.

It is called the “compelling state interest” test. Unwilling to admit that Mr. Korematsu had no constitutional right to be treated equally by the federal government, the Court instead ruled that his constitutional rights could be set aside in the face of a compelling state interest, such as the need to protect the nation from disloyal Japanese-Americans in time of war. In fact, this was no ordinary state interest. This was a matter of upholding the war powers allocated to the president by the Constitution. Thus if Korematsu actually did have rights that were being violated, that violation could have been allowed under the traditional principle that one constitutional requirement may give way when it comes in conflict with another constitutional requirement.

The problem for the Court was that this traditional interpretation would have distinguished between the state and federal governments, exactly the distinction that the Court was trying to elide. The Court could not advert directly to the president’s war powers without confronting the fact that such federal powers are not constrained by the Fourteenth Amendment at all. Thus the Court asserted a generic “compelling state interest” test and the seed was planted. This test, and the related balancing tests that it gave rise to, carry unlimited potential for abuse.

There had always been the problem of how to discern the meaning of constitutional provisions. Does the right to free speech mean the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater? No. That was not the intention. But once the intention was discerned, nothing could override it but another constitutional provision. No more. Korematsu overturned the very principle of constitutional supremacy. Henceforth, any state interest deemed by the Court to be “compelling” could constitute sufficient grounds for setting aside constitutional rights.

O’Connor forges Sauron’s ring

The Korematsu Court was almost certainly not aware of what kind of seed it was planting. Nevertheless, as subsequent Courts sought grounds to express their ideas about what the Constitution should say, the compelling-state-interest test spread in its application. At the same time, the bar for what constitutes a “compelling state interest” has been lowered. In particular, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor developed as her signature style the Korematsu-like balancing of constitutional requirements against generic state interests.

O’Connor would collect all of the various competing constitutional arguments that a case raised and throw them on the scale with all of the various competing state interests and interests of the people that a case raised. Then, as the personification of blind justice, she would, without any bias in favor of any class of interest, feel how the weights balanced against each other, and render her judgment accordingly. In fifteen years of dominating the Court as the usual swing vote, she was able to stamp this style on an extensive body of precedent. Two cases from 2003 demonstrate the extent of the destruction.

In Grutter v. Bollinger, the University of Michigan affirmative action case, the bar for what constitutes a “compelling state interest” was stomped into the ground. The state’s race conscious behavior was acknowledged by the Court to violate the most express intent of the equal protection clause, which was to bar the states from treating people differently on the basis of race. Yet the Court was able to find that at least part of what the State of Michigan was trying to accomplish with its race consciousness was race neutral and hence not necessarily barred by the Constitution.

Michigan’s theory was that catering to the race consciousness of individuals would make them more comfortable and hence improve their education. Improving education is not in itself an illegitimate state purpose and that was enough for O’Connor, establishing a new standard for compelling state interests. So long as the Constitution itself does not with absolute certainty brand a particular state interest as necessarily illegitimate, that state interest is sufficient, after Grutter, to overturn the Constitution.

Another O’Connor expansion of the compelling state interest test was introduced in Federal Election Commission v. McConnell where the Court upheld the McCain-Feingold Act’s sweeping regulation of political speech. In this case, “important governmental interests” in campaign regulation were used to set aside the First Amendment rule that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Never mind that the framers of the Constitution already contemplated the state’s interests in regulating speech, weighed them against the state’s interests in freedom of speech, and established freedom of speech as the fundamental law of the land. Wearing the Korematsu ring, the Justices are free to weigh these state interests again for themselves and come up with a different answer, if they think they see better than the founders did.

By its nature, this power is unbounded. As Justice Thomas noted about the upholding of speech regulation in McConnell: “The chilling endpoint of the Court's reasoning is not difficult to foresee: outright regulation of the press. None of the rationales offered by the defendants, and none of the reasoning employed by the Court, exempts the press.” Thomas cites the difficulty of distinguishing media and non-media corporations, but even if “the press” could be distinguished, it would still be open to regulation wherever the Court might find a compelling state interest in doing so.

This is not just the Court’s de facto position. It is Court’s official position. The Constitution can be set aside in favor of “compelling state interests” or “important governmental interests,” or any of the growing number of forms that the Korematsu test is spreading into. The “living Constitution” de jure is the corner bistro’s soup de jour, especially after O’Connor. Like Galadriel, Queen of the Elves, O’Conner could not handle the ring. She was perverted by it. She reveled in its power, glorying in the irresistible queenliness that it bestowed. All must bow before her wisdom and mercy. All must adore, for she can crush them with a thought. All she was ever aware of was the empowerment of her own judgment, oblivious to the constitutional structure, erected by vastly wiser minds, that lay in ruins behind her.

The fellowship of the ring

The destruction is not yet complete. O’Connor and her enablers burned down a priceless heritage with this flame thrower, but much of the Constitution still stands. It stands like tinder, stripped of all protection, like Topanga Canyon after a month of Santa Anas, ready to disappear at the next dropped match. We have to realize our point in history. If we want to save the Constitution we must secure within the Supreme Court a fellowship of the ring, committed to sinking the ill-got ring back into the oblivion from which it should never have been drawn.

O’Connor established 15 years of ruling precedents that will have to be overcome. The chance that an untested Harriet Miers, as the Court’s crucial swing vote, can guide the ring back to Mordor without succumbing to its power is small. The only thing we know about her is that her views seem highly changeable and inconsistent. Late in life she became a pro-life evangelical Christian. Long after she supposedly switched from Democrat to Republican she helped the SMU Women’s Studies Department raise money for a series of left-wing feminists to come speak on campus. She reportedly was one proponent of the Bush Administration’s position on Grutter v. Bollinger, which contained much of what is most perverse in the Bollinger ruling. Most importantly, she has never made a single public comment that suggests that she even understands the Court’s abuse of power, never mind has a commitment to end it.

With the bar for compelling state interests lowered all the way to the ground, what might a Justice Miers consider a compelling state interest? Anything terrorism related, certainly. And why shouldn’t the steps taken to fight terrorism be used to enforce every kind of morality? After all, as long as a state interest contains at least one thread that does not in itself necessarily constitute an illegitimate state interest, then the state’s interest is sufficient to be considered compelling, and hence superior to the Constitution.

Will Miers glory in that power, as O’Connor did? Most people would. Until the Court’s ring of evil power is destroyed, only a select few can be allowed on the court: those who have passed the Frodo test, by proving over many years their commitment to destroying the ring. Everything else is secondary. Fixing the system of limited enumerated powers is secondary. If the ring is not destroyed, there won’t be any Constitution left to fix.

Part II: Addendum on the Korematsu family of balancing tests

The “compelling state interest test” IS a ring of evil power. It allows the Supreme Court to set constitutional provisions aside whenever a majority of the Justices deem that there is a compelling state interest in doing so. This is not a power the Court is supposed to possess. The Constitution is supposed to reign supreme, yet the justices have empowered themselves to negate it at will.

As stark as this betrayal is, the full story is much more complicated. The ring was forged out of light as well as dark, and not just the light of good intentions, but of good solid constitutional law. The compelling state interest test introduced into constitutional law the concept of a balancing test. This kind of test has very important legitimate uses and it is these legitimate uses that led the Court not only to embrace the compelling state interest test, but to derive from it a whole family of related balancing tests, where the greater the constitutional interest at stake, the greater the state interest required to overbalance it.

One legitimate use of balancing tests is to discern the intended scope of a constitutional provision. An example is the balancing test applied to religious liberty in Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963). Here a state law requiring that government employees work on certain days if they want to receive package benefits was held to infringe substantially on an employee’s First Amendment’s religious liberty right to keep the Sabbath holy. There was no compelling state interest in placing this restriction on benefits packages, so it was not allowed.

This was an appropriate way of trying to discern the intended limits of religious liberty. The framers never intended that government bend over backwards—forbearing what it otherwise had good reason to do—out of deference to this, that and the other proclaimed religion. That would verge on state establishment of religion. Should a sex-cult religion, for instance, constitute an excuse for perpetrating what would otherwise be considered a criminal sexual assault? No. There is a compelling state interest in preventing sexual assault and that properly defines the limit of religious liberty.

The other legitimate role of balancing is to adjudicate conflict between competing constitutional provisions. This use of balancing tests is exampled in Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 campaign finance law case. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 placed severe limits on so-called “hard money” contributions to a candidate’s campaign financing. These restrictions infringe donors’ First Amendment speech rights by limiting how far they can use their own resources to promote the speech of their choice.

At the same time, "hard money" limits also protect First Amendment rights to association by making it harder for financiers and candidates to engage in quid-pro-quo corruption. Such corruption makes it impossible for others to associate effectively through the election process for the advancement of their political views. They think they are voting for someone who represents their views, but the candidate is actually a corrupt fraud. Instead of representing what he claims to represent, he is selling his representation under the table.

When constitutional rights conflict like this, it is appropriate to balance them against each other. Restrictions must not do more harm to competing rights than is necessary to effect their purpose, and Congress must not be allowed to give a clearly lesser constitutional harm priority over a clearly larger constitutional harm, but within these guidelines Congress should be deferred to.

In Buckley, the Court satisfied itself that these conditions were met by noting that, under the 1971 law, those who want to spend more than the contribution limit on influencing an election were free to spend additional money financing their own speech (rather than a candidate's speech) about how people should vote and why. If they wanted to, they could “expend such [additional] funds on direct political expression,” the Court observed, referring to the “soft money” that the 1971 law did not limit, and this made all the difference. Since people could still spend their money directly on speech, limiting their indirect funding of other people’s speech was not a severe impairment of their speech in total.

In this way, the Court maintained a crucial distinction. Buying a candidate (quid pro quo corruption) harms associational rights and can justify some infringement of speech rights, but the state has no legitimate interest in regulating speech for its own sake. People devoting their resources to the exercise of speech in an attempt to sway how their fellows vote in an election is the substance of free speech and the state can never say there is too much of it. It can try to stop people from buying candidates, but it cannot try to stop them from buying influence with voters through expenditures on speech.

I don’t think the Court balanced these different First Amendment interests very well in Buckley. It over-estimated the threat of quid-pro-quo corruption and it under-estimated the harm that contribution limits do to speech rights. Nevertheless, what is more important is that the Court was on a legitimate track. Like the Sherbert religious freedom case, Buckley’s use of balancing tests was legitimate because the Justices were careful, when placing interests in the scale, to give them the weights that the Constitution says they should have. They looked to the meaning of the First Amendment to decide that stopping people from buying speech was an illegitimate state interest according to the First Amendment: one that could not be weighed positively, but must be weighed negatively, as a harm to First Amendment rights.

Notice that nothing in the abstract form of the balancing test compels this responsible use. The form is wide open. This is a reflection of the Court’s specific intent in Korematsu to elide the crucial distinction between interests specified or implicated by the Constitution and generic state interests (see the main article for this history). If the Court wants to negate the Constitution, all it has to do is take advantage of this wide-open form to under-weigh some constitutional concern, or overweigh some generic interest, or weigh positively some interest that the Constitution says should be weighed negatively. The test itself imposes no guidelines or restrictions. All depends on the Justices being scrupulous, in case after case, not to use the ring of illegitimate power that Korematsu placed on their fingers.

With O’Connor, the dam broke. Writing for the Court in McConnell vs. FEC she simply ignored the distinction made in Buckley between buying a candidate (thereby defrauding fellow voters) and buying an election by spending on speech that convinces fellow voters. The spending on speech that the Buckley Court insisted must be weighed positively is weighed negatively in McConnell. Poof. No more First Amendment. Just weigh free speech negatively. O’Connor did not even have to find a compelling state interest in setting speech rights aside. With speech weighed negatively, anything could overbalance it. Indeed, the negative value of speech itself is all that is needed to justify regulation, which is exactly what O’Connor argued.

Section III of O’Connor’s McConnell opinion simply accepts McCain-Feingold’s characterization of “soft money” as a “loophole” in Buckley’s attempt to quash quid-pro-quo corruption. “Title I,” the section begins, “is Congress' effort to plug the soft-money loophole.” She goes on to uphold this justification, without anywhere acknowledging Buckley’s key condition: that the only reason hard-money regulation is tenable is because soft-money remains unregulated. Sauron-like, she spins gold into lead. Free speech itself becomes an enemy to attack.

But the Buckley court cannot be absolved of blame. Buckley is one of many cases to invoke the Korematsu family of balancing tests without ever articulating the requirements for their legitimate use. It cites (at p.25) three cases as precedents for the use of the compelling state interest test: Cousins v. Wigoda, NAACP v. Button, and Shelton v. Tucker. Each represents a narrowly defined legitimate use of the test, but none of these limited applications is noted in Buckley’s citation. One has to go back and look at the cases to see how their use of balancing tests was limited.

Wigoda favored the weightier of two competing constitutionally protected interests (with rights to participate in primary elections taking precedence over any right there may be to have the state enforce party rules.) Button was a scope-of-constitutional-provision case. (Rights to association were found to include rights to organize civil-rights lawsuits. In contrast, the state’s competing interest in blocking third party promotion of lawsuits was found to be less than compelling.) Tucker held that harms could only be properly balanced if restrictions were narrowly tailored so as not to impose more harm than necessary on protected interests. The latter is the only requirement that Buckley mentions. It makes no note that the other cited cases were examples of the only legitimate kinds of balancing allowed.

Button is even worse. It simply asserts the compelling state interest test without any citation of precedent at all:
The decisions of this Court have consistently held that only a compelling state interest in the regulation of a subject within the State's constitutional power to regulate can justify limiting First Amendment freedoms. (At 438.)
One object of this reference must be Sherbert, the religious liberty case described above, since that case was from the Court’s previous term (also 1963). But here the fact that Sherbert is a legitimate scope-of-provision case cannot even be traced, since no specific cases are cited at all. The history of legitimate balancing-test use is simply dropped.

Up through Buckley, the Court was pretty good about applying balancing tests in legitimate ways, but terrible about noting that these tests must be limited to these legitimate uses. That set the stage for O’Connor’s perversion of these tests in Grutter and McConnell, abandoning the legitimate uses of constitutional balancing and embracing the illegitimate: setting aside clear constitutional provisions in favor of whatever O’Connor deeded to be more important state interests. Sixty years after Kormatsu, the full destructive potential the generic balancing test has finally been fulfilled.

Hence the need for Supreme Court nominees to pass a Frodo test. The only people who can be allowed to possess O’Connor’s ring of unconstitutional power are those who are committed to destroying it, without ever using it. Balancing tests can and should be retained. Balancing is a fundamental judicial role that cannot be done without. But these tests must incorporate the two hundred years of pre-O’Connor precedent about what is to be given more weight than what. In particular, constitutional provisions must take absolute priority over any government interests not specified in the Constitution. Balancing tests can help discern the intended limits of constitutional provisions, and they can adjudicate conflicts between constitutional provisions, but they can never be used to give generic state interests priority over the Constitution.

The End

Anyone who got this far should reward themselves by enjoying my internment cartoon!

And just so TruthLaidBear's tracking tool will know: "I oppose the Miers nomination."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It's Sunni Sheehan!

Ha ha ha ha. Sometimes something is so funny it just makes you happy.

Check out this Sunni Cindy Sheehan, miserable over the trial of Saddam Hussein:
I felt sorry. I almost cried. Every country in the world has terrorism. All the presidents of this region torture their people. Why, of all the countries, do they come after us?
How come we have to lose OUR torture-master? Ohhhh, I want to cry.

I wonder if he killed her own family members. Then she would really be a Sheehan clone. But at least she doesn't call Saddam a freedom-fighter. None of the American Cindy's dishonesty for Gramma Sunni. She knows Saddam wasn't for any freedom but his own freedom to torture, rape and enslave, and gosh-darn but she misses it.

Grand-daughter Sunni, age twenty, shares the family bathos:
He's a hero, he's a tough leader. If he came back, I'm sure he'd provide us with security.
Where now will she find an Uday or a Qusay? All the psychotic murderers are being annihilated. What is a girl to do?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Crescent Tower is Islamic prayer sundial

Is the Tower of Voices from the Crescent of Embrace memorial for Flight 93 an Islamic sundial? Islamic prayer times are determined by shadow positions. Muslims are instructed to commence afternoon prayers (called Asr prayers), when the length of an object’s shadow is the length of its mid-day shadow, plus the object's height. The “Tower Section” detail from the Crescent of Embrace PDF’s gives the tower height as 93 feet. Plugging this height, and the latitude and longitude of the crash site, into J. Giesen’s awesome Sun Shadow Applet, it is easy to calculate for any date the exact direction and length of the Tower’s shadow at the time for Asr prayers. The following graphic plots mid-month Asr-prayer-time shadows on the Tower Plan for June through October.

Figure 1: Asr prayer shadows for June 16th (the shortest day of the year) in red; July 16th, in green; August 16th, in blue; September 16th, in yellow; October 16th, in orange. Scroll down to Part II for calculations.  Posted by Picasa

After October, the tower’s shadow at Asr prayer times takes on a different shape. The tower itself is a long extruded crescent. It is cut at the top on a 45 degree angle with the crescent tips reaching up into the sky away from the sun, enhancing the crescent shape at the end of the tower’s shadow (visible in figure 1). Another feature of the tower is a pair of substantial slots cut vertically into the sun-side of the tower, one at the bottom and one at the top.

Figure 2. Looking up the crescent shaped tower. Notice the substantial slot, cut maybe a quarter of the way down the spine of the tower, starting at the top. A similar slot at the bottom forms a doorway from the sun-side of the tower into its crescent shaped bottom. The upper tip of the bottom slot is visible at bottom of the graphic.  Posted by Picasa

At all of the mid-month Asr prayer times up through October, sunlight comes through this slot at so much of an angle from the side that it gets blocked by the east-side crescent arm. By November, this has changed. Asr prayer times have started coming early enough in the day that at least some of the sunlight coming through the slot at the top of the tower is unblocked by the crescent walls when Asr prayer time is reached.

This transition point is actually depicted in the Tower Plan, excerpted in figure 1 above. Notice that the shadow depicted in the plan has thin strips of sunlight coming through the slots at the top and the bottom of the tower. The tower shadow in this graphic is pointing exactly 45 degrees from north. (Add 180 degrees to get the corresponding azimuth of the sun: 225 degrees from north.) On what date do Asr prayers correspond to an azimuth of 225 degrees? November 1st, according to the Sun Shadow Applet.

How much before November 1st sunlight might make it through the slots at Asr prayer time one cannot tell for certain from the PDF's, but the Tower Plan graphic seems to be depicting a very thin vertical of sunlight getting through the slots at this point, indicating that as the sun continues west, this vertical of sunlight will quickly get closed out. What we can say for certain is that from November 1st on, sunlight passing through the slots will reach the ground at Asr prayer times.

The sunlight coming through the upper slot at Asr prayer times defines a second tower height, corresponding to the bottom of the upper slot. Only below the slot will the tower shadow become solid. (I applied the same rule for determining the upper tower height, measuring to the bottom of the shadow-casting crescent rather than to its upward reaching tips. This is also why I am measuring shadow length starting from the sun-side of the tower. The bottom of the upper crescent, and the bottom of the upper slot, are both features of the sun-side of the tower.)

How much lower is the lower tower height? Just look at the how far down the upper shaft of sunlight comes in the tower shadow from figure 1. These graphics are all CAD generated, and as anyone who has ever used Computer Aided Design programs knows, illumination tools calculate the actual shadows that the defined structures would cast, given a specified light source. Using pixel counts, the tower to the bottom of the upper slot is 82% of the height of the tower to the bottom of the upper crescent. Using this height to determine mid-November and mid-December Asr-shadows yields the following full set of mid-month Asr-prayer shadows:

Figure 3. Same as figure 1, plus Asr-prayer shadows for mid-November (aqua); and mid-December (fuchsia). Again, calculations are detailed in Part II, below. The mid-January Asr-prayer shadow will be the same as for mid-November. Mid-February will be the same as mid-October, etcetera.  Posted by Picasa

Lastly, I added in the implied Asr-prayer-line, using November 1st as the transition date between upper and lower tower heights:

Figure 4. On any day of the year, when the lowest point of the top of the tower's shadow reaches the outer pink line, Asr prayer time has arrived. Notice that the prayer line remains contained within the inner arc of trees.  Posted by Picasa

It sure looks like Murdoch designed the Tower of Voices to be a very clever and reasonably accurate Asr-prayer-sundial. There are some contra-indications however.

First, the Tower Section detail of the PDF’s shows the upper slot to be only 8% of the full tower height, less than 8 feet out of 93, not the 18% rendered in the tower shadow shown in the Tower Plan. So which is the true design? Figure 2, looking up the inside of the tower, also shows the upper slot extending much more than 1/12th of the way down. Is the Tower Section detail a deception, so that if someone tries to calculate shadow positions and compare them with Asr prayer times, they will be thrown off? That would be pretty exotic behavior on the part of the designers, but remember, what is being tested here is the hypothesis that the designers have indeed built hidden Islamic meaning into the Crescent memorial. In other words, the hypothesis is that the designers HAVE engaged in some very exotic behavior. Thus the need to invoke exotic behavior as an explanatory device does not necessarily serve as counter-evidence.

In any case, the Tower Section does not match up with the other two tower graphics. Either it does not depict the actual design or they do not depict the actual design. The fact that the tree line tracks the Asr-prayer line for five months makes me suspect that the correct graphic (the one depicting the actual design) is the one that continues this pattern to the end of the year. The only way to tell for certain is to get hold of Murdoch's computers.

Another discrepancy is how the Tower Section detail shows the tower standing on a mound that rises almost ten feet above the surrounding grade level. Does this mean that the full tower height is actually 103 feet, not 93 feet?

"Tower Section" detail. Shows short vertical slots top and bottom and shows land to east and northeast of Tower to slope away from Tower base.  Posted by Picasa

But here too, the Tower Section is inconsistent with the other drawings. The main Crescent PDF contains a topo map that shows the ground sloping upwards from the tower to the northeast and east (where Asr-prayer shadows land). In the 50 odd meters from the tower to the inner ellipse of trees, the ground could easily come up 10 feet. If it does, then there would still be a rise to the Tower platform from the west (the view depicted in the Tower Section), but the land from there to the trees on the opposite side would be level. If this is not what is happening, if the ellipses of trees actually remain below the tower platform on all sides, then the height of the platform should be added to the height of the tower when calculating the length of Asr-prayer-time shadows. The resulting Asr shadows would still follow the contour of the first and second ellipses of trees, but they would fall approximately between these rows of trees rather than remaining contained within the first ellipse of trees.

INTERJECTION/UPDATE: I found a legible topo map of the Tower site on TerraServer . The grade DOES slop upwards from the tower towards the northeast, at just a little less than 10 feet per 50 meters. Below is the Tower part of the topo from the site-plan PDF, and a snippet of the Terra-server map.

Tower site with Topo lines. Hard to read. Posted by Picasa

TerraServer topo map of same site. The red cross marks tower site (as best as I can eye-ball it). The blue line angles 27 degrees above east (the middle of the arc swept by Asr-prayer-shadows), and 112 pixels long (100x51). The scale (according to TerraServer) is 2 meters/pixel. Thus the grade rises 40 feet in 224 meters heading in the prayer-shadow direction. Posted by Picasa

This proves that the Tower Section detail is out of whack. Apparently whoever worked out this little scheme was afraid that the sundialists would nail him! Lot’s of other stuff is hidden in the Crescent memorial, but it has all been there in the plans to find. This is the first thing I have come across where the plans themselves are deceptive.

The upshot for the sundial analysis is that the height of the tower above where its shadows land seems to be the 93 feet indicated on the Tower Section detail. All the platform does is bring the bottom of the tower up to the level of the inner ellipse of trees.

Of course there could be some grading plan that would change this. Again, we would have to get hold of Murdoch’s computers to be sure of the plan. What we can be certain of (END INTERJECTION) is that from June through October, Asr-prayer-time shadows follow the contour of the ellipses of trees pretty much exactly. Also certain is that after October, Asr-prayer-time shadows cast by the crescent at the top of the tower no longer follow the contour of the ellipses of trees, but sunlight passing through the upper slot will during this period reach the ground at Asr prayer time, defining a lower tower height that brings Asr-prayer-time shadows back closer to the contour of the inner ellipse of trees (all the way back to the original contour if the slot is cut as deeply as indicated in the Tower Plan).

That’s pretty damning. I don’t think it would be possible to do that by accident, any more than I think that the other Islamist features I have discovered in the Crescent plan could possibly be by accident. A brief review:

Misdirection and resolution as architectural method

New visitors may not have seen my earlier report, detailing my discovery that the memorial wall, down near the crash site, has a separate upper section, precisely centered on the huge crescent of red maple trees. To see the calculations verifying this precise centering, or the details of anything else I summarize here, visit the earlier post.

So there is a separate section of memorial wall, centered so as to make it integral with the larger crescent structure, while the lower memorial wall, the one with forty translucent blocks inscribed with the names of the forty murdered Americans, sits off to the side. Who could that upper memorial wall be for? Looking closely, it also has translucent blocks. Three of them it turns out. But there were four terrorists. Forty four dead. Forty three translucent blocks? If the upper memorial wall is a memorial to the terrorists (turning the entire structure into a memorial for the terrorists, with Americans on the side) then where is the forty-fourth translucent block?

It turns out that there IS a forty-fourth translucent block, also on the line of the flight path that the two sections of memorial wall lie along. It is the large glass block at the upper crescent tip, the one that dedicates the entire site.

View up the flight path from the crash site. Lower and upper sections of memorial wall on left. Forty-fourth translucent block at Portal above. Artist left out copse to allow clear view of flight path.  Posted by Picasa

This hidden-in-plain-sight forty-fourth translucent block is, like the tricky two-height sundial tower, part of a pattern of seeming contra-indications which, when examined closely, reveal intent. First, there is a copse of trees that sits almost exactly on the center-line of the huge red maple crescent that gives the Crescent of Embrace its name.

Crescent and star. Posted by Picasa

If the copse sat exactly on the center line of the crescent, it would be positioned exactly as the star on an Islamic flag. Such positioning would be indefensible, but when one looks closely, to see what there is about the upper third of the copse that might explain why the crescent if centered on this part of the copse, one finds the upper section of memorial wall.

Then there is the second mystery. If this wall is a memorial to the terrorists why does it only contain three translucent blocks? This leads to the discovery of the forty-fourth translucent block, which in turn resolves the most important contra-indication of all. When the tips of the red maple crescent are defined by the furthest extents of the red maple trees, the orientation of the crescent is 1.7 degrees off Mecca. Is the pattern of precision behind seeming imprecision repeated here as well?

Just draw a precise Mecca line through the center of the circle that the red crescent partly inscribes and see what crescent tips it defines. The bottom crescent tip is unambiguous. There is a last red maple sitting directly on the circle of the crescent. It is at the top where a spray of features makes alternative crescent tips possible. Drawing a perpendicular to the true Mecca line inwards along the Mecca line until it hits the unambiguous bottom crescent tip, what crescent tip is defined on top? The large glass block dedicating the entire site. The forty-fourth translucent block on the flight path to death.

Could this be come kind of coincidence to the 100th power? A coin flip coming up heads a hundred times in a row? No. Because if you go back up to the Tower of voices, you find exactly the same two orientations planted in the array of crescent shaped lines of trees surrounding the Tower. This was the subject of my first report on the Tower of Voices (subsequent to my report on the upper terrorist-memorial wall). The two most protruding crescent tips point the same 1.7 degrees off Mecca that the red maple crescent does. There is then a second available choice for the lower crescent tip, slightly less obvious, but the obvious second choice, that creates a second orientation, this time precisely on Mecca (as precisely as the pixel resolution of the graphics can determine).

Graphic from my first Tower of Voices post. Red line, crossing two outer most crescent tips, is 1.7 degrees off Mecca. Aqua line, crossing four other crescent tips, and the next crescent tip in at the bottom, orients precisely on Mecca.  Posted by Picasa

Can it be a coincidence that the two orientations of the main crescent, one 1.7 degrees off Mecca, one precisely on Mecca, are duplicated in the Tower array? What are we up to now, five hundred heads in a row? Is the object here to NOT believe the evidence, no matter how many times over it constitutes proof? Not for me it isn’t. But if anyone is unpersuaded, here are a hundred more heads in a row:

Other tower features

In addition to constituting an Islamic prayer-time sundial, the Tower of Voices has a couple of other notable features. There are dozens of ways to draw lines out from the tower to the many different features of the array of trees around the Tower. There are only three ways, however, to draw lines outward from the tower that cross the ends of two or more rows of trees. All three are significant.

INTERJECTION/UPDATE/POSSIBLE-NONSENSE-ALERT: Looking more closely, I found 3 or 4 more rays from the tower that touch multiple tips of rows of trees, none of which, at first glance, have any obvious significance, so the seeming significance of the first three may be…just a random run of unlucky coin tosses. The first three, as originally described:

Line 1: exactly fifteen degrees counterclockwise from north, three rows of trees end along the same ray out from the tower. [(x, y pixels) at 300% zoom = (-62, 231).] Fifteen degrees west of north is the precise angle of the flight path into the crash site.

Three lines from the tower touch the ends of more than one row of trees: 1) flight path (orange); 2) line to center of giant crescent (blue); 3) line to upper tip of giant crescent (red). Posted by Picasa

Line 2: moving around to thirty degrees clockwise from north, a line coming in from the northeast to the tower is touched on its upside by the end of an outer crescent of trees and on its lower side by the end of an inner crescent of trees. If this line is extended to the southeast, it touches the end of another crescent of trees. Extended down towards the crash site, this line goes through the exact center-point of the red maple crescent. [ (x, y pixels) = (178, 310).]

Both of these features are innocuous. They simply tie the site together and do not in themselves convey any Islamic or Jihadist meaning. They do however, make clear that the designer has intentionally used lines through the tower that cross the tips of multiple rows of trees to indicate meaningful directions. This suggests that the exact Mecca line, crossing four crescent tips, is indeed intended. It also makes the third direction out from the tower that crosses multiple crescent tips not too much of a surprise.

Line 3: come up 8 degrees clockwise from the line between the Tower and the center of the crescent. At that angle (38 degrees from north) a ray out from the tower crosses two of the lower crescent tips. [(x, y pixels) = (164, 210).] Extend this line down towards the large red crescent, and it points directly at the upper red crescent tip, the location of the large glass block that dedicates the entire site and defines the precise Mecca orientation of the large crescent.

To the casual observer, this third direction from the Tower would also seem innocuous. It points to the place where the flight path enters the memorial, the place where the site is dedicated. What is wrong with that? Nothing, unless you know that the glass block dedicating the site defines a second orientation of the red crescent, pointing exactly to Mecca, and that it is the forty fourth translucent block on the flight path, implicating the fourth terrorist (and hence the other three). Very clever. The stinker who designed this loves to hide in plain sight.


That the crescents of trees point by themselves directly towards Mecca (instead of just implicating the red crescent, and its orientation towards Mecca) is necessary to complete the Islamist design. If the tower indicates Muslim prayer times, as it does, the faithful are going to need to know which way to face. Just go stand on a straight line between the most protruding crescent tips, face the northeast tip, and you are facing 1.7 degrees from Mecca. Good enough. Move in a few feet to the left and look down the line that connects three crescent tips and you are facing Mecca exactly. Can’t miss.

Two features of the tower itself are also significant. Notice that on the Tower Plan, the elliptical platform on which the tower is built, is depicted with a dark outline extending around a symmetrical portion of its northeast tip. (The Tower Section detail reveals this line to be a short solid wall that serves as a bench.) A line due north from the edge of the tower hits right at the end of this stone or concrete bench.

Black arc ends directly north of trailing shadow edge of tower (red vertical). Posted by Picasa

Thus the end of the arc shaped bench provides a reasonably accurate marker for the time of shortest shadow, which is one of the five times each day that Muslims are called upon by their religion to pray. Due north is not a precise indicator of shortest shadow, because the Earth wobbles in its orbit. To provide a precise indicator of mid-day prayers, the end of the bench would have to be stepped, with each step representing a pair of months, or signs of the zodiac, telling an observer just where the shadow line should fall to indicate mid-day at a given time of year. Some such feature may have been planned. The Crescent of Embrace PDF’s that are available from the Park Foundation do not contain that level of detail.

Finally, there is the crescent shape of the tower, the crescent shape of the tip of the shadow that it casts, and its name, the Tower of Voices. I was prompted to look into the tower portion of the memorial by commentators who noted that the tower not only looks like a stylized minaret, but that a minaret is a literal “tower of voices,” from which religious functionaries cry out the daily calls to prayer in Islamic locales. Turns out these commentators were right in their suspicions. The Tower tells the time for Islamic prayers. It’s a gigantic minaret/Islamic-sundial, “visible from the highway,” as the site plans brag.

None of us would be too surprised to discover that a “liberal” multi-culturalist architect thought it would be a nice idea to include Islam in the memorial to Flight 93. After all, this unfortunate misunderstanding we are involved in with the Islamo-fascists has two sides, right? Isn’t our goal is to appreciate each other? And we all know that violence is never the answer, blah, blah, blah. Of course the heroes of Flight 93 proved the opposite, but this memorial is much more than multi-culturalism run amok. This is a thorough-going memorial to the terrorists. Every main feature of the entire structure is either determined by, or multiply tied in with, the upper section of memorial wall (the terrorist memorial wall) and the forty-fourth translucent block on the flight path (the fourth terrorist memorial block).

It is hard to imagine that Murdoch was not at least a full co-conspirator in this evil. If it was just the red crescent and the placement of the upper memorial wall, and the orientation on Mecca, the landscape architect might conceivably have snuck in those parts of the terrorist memorial on his own, but the Tower of Voices is multiply tied in as well. The only plausible explanation is that Murdoch tried to defraud the federal government on behalf of the terrorists. That is a federal crime. He and his associates need to be hauled before Congress for questioning and likely prosecution.

Part II: calculations

One of the revelations for me in pursuing this investigation is the astounding range of powerful analytical tools that are available to anyone over the internet. When I wanted to check whether the Crescent of Embrace site plan is oriented towards true north, I was able to compare features on the site plan to features visible on Google Earth and verify that north on the site plan is a smidgen off of true north. (I suppose it could also be Google that is a smidgen off of true north, but the two are close enough to determine that the site plan is at least not based on magnetic north, and represents the architects’ understanding of true north.)

When I was wondering whether the culprit could be the landscape architect Nelson Woltz, I came across a crescent shaped amphitheater he installed at Westminister Presbetyrian Church in Charlottesville. I tried to see on Google Earth if the amphitheater is oriented towards Mecca but the photos did not have enough resolution, so I googled “Charlottesville aerial photos,” found a set of high rez photos commissioned by the city, and was able to clear Woltz of suspicion in this earlier case. The internet is stacked!

To analyze the sundial operation of the Tower of Voices, I called upon a host of internet resources I had no idea existed. Qibla.org has a calculator that gives Islamic prayer times for any longitude and latitude. Giesen’s Sun Shadow Applet is a tool developed for sundial enthusiasts that calculates the shadow that any object, vertical or tilted, will cast at any time of day, at any point in the world, and it is child’s play to use.

The Sun Shadow Applet gives results in polar coordinates. When I needed to translate these into Cartesian coordinates, I used the online coordinate translator provided by The Kusashi Group. These resources make it possible for anyone to plot the tower-sundial’s Asr-prayer shadows to the pixel on their computer screen. If anyone wants to verify my calculations, the steps are as follows.

Step 1 is easy. The Tower Section gives the tower height as 93 feet to the bottom of the upper crescent. If you want to add the height of the tower base, just count pixels. Zoom in on the Tower Section in the Tower of Voices PDF, take a screen shot (Alt + Print Screen), paste into Microsoft Paint, and use the line tool to count pixels in the attached scale. Zooming to 200%, I get 24 ft = 115 pixels. (I’m not certain, but I think this should be the same on every viewscreen, regardless of resolution.) The height of the base then measures 46 pixels = 9.6 feet. I leave out the height of the base in my shadow calculations, assuming that the topo map is right and the ground rises between the tower and the trees. Someone else may want to calculate exactly how much further out the Asr-prayer shadow line will fall if I am wrong.

Step 2: For the tower height to the base of the slot, I use 82% of 93 feet, giving me as my two tower heights, 28.35 meters and 23.25 meters. (I convert to meters because the Sun Shadow Applet uses meters. Feet to meter converter available here.)

Step 3 is to pick a date and use the Sun Shadow Applet to find the length of the shortest shadow on that day (the mid-day shadow), and the time of day when the Tower’s shadow is the length of the noon shadow plus the tower height (the time when Asr prayers are supposed to commence). A shortcut is just to look up the Asr prayer time on an Islamic prayer finder. Comparing the two methods verifies that they yield identical results.

For instance, for June 16th (the shortest day of the year), qibla.org says that Asr prayers at the Flight 93 crash site should commence at 4:15 PM. (Set the qibla.org calculator to the coordinates of the crash site: 40.3 N latitude and 78.54 degrees W longitude. Turn off the Daylight Savings Time option, and set the hour to -5 GMT.) That this is the correct Asr-prayer time can be verified using the Sun Shadow Applet. Plug the crash site coordinates into the Applet, turn off its Daylight Savings Time option, set hours to -5 GMT, set the shadow-caster height to 28.35 meters, then poke around for the time of shortest shadow. (Sundialists call a sundial’s shadow-caster a “gnomon.”) On June 16th, the time of shortest shadow turns out to be 12:15 PM, when the Tower of Voices will cast a shadow 8.631 meters long. Thus Muslims should begin afternoon prayers when the Tower shadow is 36.981 meters long (8.631 meters + 28.35 meters).

The Applet gives the shadow length at 4:15 PM (the Asr-prayer time indicated by qibla.org) as 37.231 meters, which is about a foot longer than the exact Asr shadow length. A minute earlier yields a shadow length of 36.975, which is only off by a couple of inches, and is still longer than the exact Asr shadow length (Asr prayers are supposed to commence AFTER the prescribed shadow length has been reached), so maybe qibla.org is off by one minute with its Asr-prayer time, but close enough. They obviously are using the noon shadow + height method and are calculating it pretty accurately. Thus instead of poking around with the Shadow Applet looking for precise Asr prayer times, I just use the qibla.org calculations.

Qibla.org also allows users to calculate Asr prayer times using a second method (“hanafi” rather than “shafii”), where prayer time is defined by a shadow length of noon-shadow plus TWICE the tower’s height. I haven’t worked through that set of calculations yet, but it will be interesting to see where these hanafi shadows land.

Step 4 is to take the polar coordinates of the Asr prayer shadows (degrees and meters) and convert them to Cartesian coordinates (meters and meters), then into pixels. I’ll work through the calculations for June 16th (the shortest day of the year) in detail, then present the remaining the mid-month calculations through December in summary form.

June 16th, 2005
Qibla.org places the Asr prayer time for June 16th at 4:15 PM. For this date and time, the Shadow Applet yields a shadow 37.21 meters long at an azimuth of 270.4 degrees clockwise from north. Looking away from the sun instead of towards the sun, this direction becomes 90.4 degrees clockwise from north (270.4 – 180). Subtract this from 90 and multiply by -1 to get degrees up from east of -.4.

Degrees up from east is the polar orientation assumed by the Kusashi coordinate translator. Put the shadow length in the “modulus” box and the angle in the “argument” box. Leave the optional +/- boxes empty and press “compute.” The resulting “real” component is the Cartesian x and the resulting “imaginary” component is the Cartesian y. Translating to (x,y) coordinates, (37.21 meters, -.4 degrees) becomes (37.21 meters, -.19 meters). This then has to be converted to pixels on the Tower Plan, which uses a different scale than the Tower Section detail. On the Tower Plan (at 1200% zoom), 694 pixels = 480 ft. = 146.304 meters. Thus 1 meter = 4.74 pixels. Translating from meters to pixels yields (x, y) pixel coordinates for the top of end of the tower shadow of (176, -1).

Performing the same calculations for the other mid-month dates yields:

July 16th
Asr = 4:19 PM; (modulus, argument) = (38.54, 2); (x, y) in meters = (38.52, 1.35); (x, y) in pixels = (183, 6), which is virtually on top of the line for June, and just a few pixels longer. The changes become more rapid as the sun gets lower.

August 16th
Asr = 4:09 PM; (mod, arg) = (43.38, 10.9); (x, y meters) = (42.6, 8.2); (x, y pixels) = (202, 39).

September 16th
Asr = 3:41 PM; (mod, arg) = (51.21, 24.1); (x, y meters) = (46.75, 20.91); (x, y pixels) = (222, 99).

October 16th
Asr = 3:06 PM; (mod, arg) = (62.23, 38); (x, y meters) = (49.04, 38.31); (x, y pixels) = (232, 182).

November 16th
For November and December, there are two shadow ends to calculate, one taking the bottom of the top crescent to be the top of the tower and one taking the bottom of the upper slot to be the top of the tower.
Full tower height:
Asr = 2:38 PM; (mod, arg) = (77.143, 49.9); (x, y meters) = (49.69, 59.01); (x, y pixels) = (236, 280).

Shadow from bottom of upper slot:
82% of (236, 280) is (194, 230).
December 16th
Full tower height:
Asr = 2.34 PM; (mod, arg) = (86.92 , 55.4); (x, y meters) = (49.36, 71.55); (x, y pixels) = (234, 339).

Shadow from bottom of upper slot:
82% of (234, 339) is (192, 278).
These are the shadow lines plotted in my figures 3 and 4 (using the lower tower heights for November and December).

A new kind of hâfir?

Is there a historical precedent for this kind of Islamic-prayer-time sundial? It turns out that Islamic sundials exist, but that they are not designed as fixed emplacements. Rather, they are portable constructs with the months of the year inscribed in a circle around the outside. The user rotates the sundial so that the current time of year is oriented along the shadow line. When the shadow of the sundial’s vertical reaches the prayer-line for that date, it’s time to face Mecca.

On the left: an ancient hâfir, with daylight divided into 12 hours. On the right: a modern hâfir, with day and night divided into 24 equal length hours. Only hour lines are shown. Prayer lines are a bit more circular, since prayer times get earlier as the sun gets lower. Posted by Picasa

A hâfir's prayer lines. Actual hâfirs contain both hour lines and prayer lines, here separated for clarity. Graphics from the sundial page of de Vries, Oglesby and Maddux. Posted by Picasa

De Vries, Oglesby and Maddux say they have found no existing examples of historical sundials that would qualify as hâfirs.

[[[CORRECTION. I had originally said that De Vries, Oglesby and Maddux had not found examples of fixed position Islamic Sundials, but such a sundial would by definition NOT be a hâfir, and hence is not what they were referring to. Thanks to Fer de Vries for pointing out my mistake. Notice that with this correction (and my understanding that there is nothing unique about a fixed position Islamic sundial) the following two paragraphs don't make any sense.

NONSENSE ALERT. The Following two PP's left in only people have already commented on them.

No tricky dual-height tower would be needed to make a fixed position Islamic prayer sundial. Just mark a line on the ground that follows the Asr-prayer-time shadows of a single height vertical. This would, however, create a shape that does not LOOK like a traditional hâfir.

Is this why Murdoch went with the tricky dual-height tower? Notice that the traditional hâfir has an ellipsoid shape very similar to the ellipses of trees surrounding the Tower of Voices. The two-height tower allows the Tower of Voices to pay homage to the traditional variable-position hâfir while still giving reasonably accurate Asr-prayer-time readings from a fixed position sundial. It also hides the sundial’s Islamic nature behind a layer of misdirection.

END NONSENSE ALERT. The zig zag asr line is a bit of misdirection, but the sensible explanation for it is so that the tree line will not be immediately recognized by a competent sundialist as a traditional fixed position Islamic sundial. BEGIN WARLIKE THOUGHTS ALERT.]]]

This is the kind of invention that scholarly monks produce, with an unhealthy dose of Islam’s religiously sanctioned deception (“taqiyya”) thrown in for bad measure. It is brilliant, really, if you happen to be a stinking Islamo-fascist moron. Not that I’m against clever Islamic representations in general. Only when they are incorporated in a terrorist memorial.

The implication seems to be that Murdoch is some kind of secretly festering Ayatollah Khomeini. How does that happen? Hard to figure. But there is no denying it. Murdoch, or someone who pulled the wool over his eyes, is an Islamo-fascist. What are we are up to now, a thousand heads in a row? Isn’t that more quarks than exist in the universe? As I argued in my first report, these kinds of constructs can no more be random than a monkey can sit down and type a page of Iago ON THE FIRST TRY. In a thousand eons of random arrangements, a maximally accurate dual-height, Asr sundial, together with a mid-day prayer indicator, set in an array of crescents oriented precisely on Mecca, might pop up by chance, but if an architect sits down and produces it on the first try, it is NOT chance.

Then there is the fact that the Tower’s Islamic coincidences coincide in multiple ways with the Crescent memorial’s other page of Iago: the terrorist memorial wall and crescent, also oriented precisely on Mecca. This is pure evil. This IS Iago, living amongst us. He needs to be uncovered and destroyed, as do all of his Wahabbist, Salafist, Jihadist ilk. Islamo-fascism is conspiracy to commit murder. Every last person who has made an adult choice to follow the Islamo-fascist path needs to be dead. American William Joyce was executed for treason by the British after WWII for his role as the axis radio propagandist Lord Haw Haw. We aren’t hanging traitors these days, but we ought to be.

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