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July 29, 2005

Who says we don't cover international news?

Don't get any ideas, Val.

Russians are queueing up in hordes to have images of President Vladimir Putin tattooed onto their bodies.
Josef Radimov, from Omsk city, said he had decided to get a tattoo of Putin's face on his shoulder because it made him feel safe.

He said: "Having a tattoo of President Putin is very fashionable at the moment - all my friends have them.

"Being able to look down at my shoulder and seeing our President there all the time makes me feel more confident and safe."

Free Michael Graham?

Well okay, he's not in jail, so I guess that's not really necessary. He did, however, lose his job as a talk show host for comments he made regarding Islam.

I've followed Michael's career for years, ever since he was doing The Usual Suspects in South Carolina where I used to live. He's no stranger to this kind of controversy, having been fired from a gig at Charlotte's WBT following an unfortunate comment made in the wake of the Columbine massacre. Having been down this road before, surely Michael saw this step as a distinct possibility.

Now look, ABC Disney has a perfect right to fire him if that's what they want to do. What disturbs me more than the loss of one man's radio job is a political environment in which a particular religion is immune to criticism, no matter how many atrocities are committed at the hands of its adherents.

Read Michael's column that started the whole thing. It's provocative, sure. Controversial, sure. But its substance is disturbingly difficult to refute. Tired, meaningless PC platitudes about Islam being a "religion of peace" simply don't cut it anymore.

Look, we all know there are many peaceful practicing Muslims who are appalled by what's being done in the name of their religion. But the undeniable fact is that a significant portion of Muslims at least tacitly condone this barbarism, as recent polls have indicated.

I disagree with Graham's assertion that Islam is a "terror organization," but it is a religion that's defiled by a cancer of hatred, a cancer that is growing and metastasizing. The existence of extremist fanatics may not invalidate an entire faith, but we also can't pretend that the religion itself doesn't have a serious problem. And we can't even begin to correct that problem unless and until we can engage in a frank and honest dialogue on the matter. Unfortunately, in today's climate, that doesn't seem possible.

Add this one to the list

Earlier this week I posted a link to an ABC news story cataloging the accomplishments the Bush Administration has been able to rack up while the Democrats were preoccupied with fitting Karl Rove for his noose. I guess you can now add a Senate bill to protect gun manufacturers from civil lawsuits. Even the New York Times is noticing that for a lame duck, George W. Bush isn't particularly lame.

Democrats on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Check out this transcript of Nancy Pelosi's press conference yesterday. She was pissed off that the defection of 15 or so House Democrats helped get CAFTA passed, and accused Republicans of vote-buying.

Q Can you elaborate, Madame Leader, on some of the offers that were made to Democrats that you know about?


Q In which case -- it's a pretty serious charge, that you're saying some of them didn't pass legal muster to you.


Q You're saying that -- that Republicans were trying to bribe Democrats?

REP. PELOSI: I didn't use the word bribe.

Q Well, you said it wasn't legal.

REP. PELOSI: I said that offers were made that were, in my view, questionable. And I know that they would be at a cost to the taxpayers. And I say that without any hesitation.

Q But that's a very serious charge.


Q Could you just -- could you just give us the specifics of what you've heard?

REP. PELOSI: No, I'm not going to. I'm telling you, and -- why don't you go ask the Republicans or the White House what they were offering people? They would know best; they're the ones who were making the offers. I think that this has to stop. We have to stop the Republican rip-off of the legislative process on Capitol Hill. It has to stop now...

Q Madame Leader, I'm sorry to belabor this point, but it is -- let me see how to phrase this -- is there a difference between horse trading and federal violation regarding offering something of value for somebody's vote?


Q There's got to be a difference, right?

REP. PELOSI: Yeah. There is.

Q So now you're beyond just the normal give and take of --


Q I don't see how you can just lay that out there without giving us the specifics --

REP. PELOSI: Well, I just did. But I just did.

Q Is that fair, though? Is that the way you would like to be treated?

REP. PELOSI: That's the way we are treated. That's the way we are treated.

Q Are you going to pursue any sort of ethics complaint --

REP. PELOSI: I may. I may. I may. Not me, but those who have the information may. But these are the kinds of things that are very hard to prove if the deal is not consummated. That doesn't mean the deal wasn't offered. And it really -- because they have a poverty of arguments in favor of CAFTA, they have to resort to these extraordinary means.

I think the accumulated stress of two terms of the Bush presidency is taking its toll on the Democrats. Quite a few of them seem to be going bat-shit insane. I suppose in the short term that's good news for Republicans, who need all the help they can get in the face of their own declining poll numbers. In the long run, however, I think this country benefits from a viable, healthy two-party system. Unfortunately for us, we now have one party that has fallen prey to the arrogance of power and the inevitable corruption of the entrenched majority, and another that is ready for a padded cell. Fabulous.

GOP schism on stem cells

Much is being made over Bill Frist's decision to support enhanced federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The truth is that the GOP was never of one mind on this issue, but Frist's departure from Bush policy will highlight the Republicans' internal debate and bring it into sharp focus.

I think this is a good thing. I personally know more people who voted against Bush because of stem cells than because of the war in Iraq. Granted, some of this is due to the fact that Bush's opponents have been allowed to spin Bush policy as a "ban," but there is still widespread agreement that current guidelines are too restrictive.

Interestingly, I get more heat from libertarians than social conservatives for my support of ESC research. I understand a libertarian case can be made against funding such endeavors, but let's be honest, that's not what's going on here. The libertarian argument isn't even on the radar. So long as federal funding of basic biotech research is a fact of life (and it is) I support funding those areas in proportion to the promise they show in treating disease. That, in addition to the political reasons, is why I'd like to see Frist come out the winner on this one.

July 28, 2005

Mixed marriages

Scott Kirwin has an interesting post on mixed marriages. Politically mixed, that is.

There are serious benefits to a Liberal/Conservative marriage. First and foremost it keeps both of us from the extremes. If she comes home with some barking moonbat piece of tripe, I can usually shoot it down before she has wasted too much time on it or worse, come to believe it herself. Likewise I can sound an idea or an opinion off her and get her candid take on it before going public with it - thereby applying a level of rigor to what might otherwise have been a stupid idea or opinion. Secondly we can intellectually spar with one another, thereby keeping our ideas fresh and perhaps even (gasp) changing them. Finally, when we're together we can handle issues and situations using our different perspectives. Because of her liberal nature she can be much more open with salesmen than I can be. If the salesman takes advanatage of her openness, I can step in and bitch-slap him into submission without any regard for his feelings or the validity of his opinions. Needless to say the "Good cop - Bad cop" routine comes in quite handy when dealing with disputes with retailers and service providers.

I'm in such a marriage myself, so I always find it interesting to hear other people's experiences with such a relationship.

It sounds like Scott's experience, as mine, has been mostly positive. I do think my wife and I tend to moderate one another, but unlike in Scott's household (interestingly) it's my wife who's a hardass in dealing with annoying people, and I'm usually the pushover unless things get really bad.

I'm also learning that relationships such as ours are a bit more unusual than I used to think. I can't think of a single one of my friends who's in the same boat, for example.

If you're in a mixed relationship, we'd like to hear your stories here at Cynical Nation, good or bad. You can do so anonymously. Step right up for True Confession Hour!

It's his thumb, people!

Fer Christ's sake, I can't believe I actually have to post this.

When I first saw this early this morning via Atrios I just laughed. What other appropriate response is there?

But I'll be damned if it isn't being linked on every moonbat site in the world, in addition to being the subject of about fifty threads on the Democratic Underground.

Apparently some people think Bush flipped off reporters before a meeting with Congress yesterday:

It's his thumb, people! For the love of God, It's. His. Thumb.

Look, here's me giving a thumb's-up sign:

Now here's me flipping a bird (aren't cell phone cameras great?):

Shrink these puppies down, and tell me which you think more closely matches Bush's hand in this vidcap.

If you watch the actual video clip here, it shows the whole thing much more clearly than the still, in my opinion.

Honestly, people, this is just embarrassing. In one short year, we've gone from "Bush lied, people died!" to "Ooh! Teacher! Little Georgie made a naughty sign!! Ooh!" Ah well, such is the paucity of substance for many of Bush's critics, I guess.

And speaking of Atrios, this seems to be something of a theme for him of late. This morning he also posted a clip showing Tucker Carlson to be a "potty mouth." Now how's that for irony? Duncan Black calling Tucker Carlson a "potty mouth." I know, I know, it's about the "hypocrisy," right?

It's going to be a looooooong three years and three-and-a-half months.

Rove's Plamegate strategy?

All right, I'm normally skeptical of moonbat conspiracies that view every single phenomenon in the observable universe as part of a Karl Rove-orchestrated conspiracy. I've got to say, though, that the whole notion of a Plamegate Rove-a-dope is looking more and more plausible all the time.


  • The MSM is beginning to shift focus away from Rove as the original source of the Plame leak.
  • It's a White House M.O. to allow Bush's critics to whale away against the president ad nauseum, so long as they're reasonably assured the assaults won't ultimately amount to anything substantial.
  • What little, tantalizing information we have about Rove's involvement, that has kept this story alive for weeks, came to us because Rove himself signed a waiver of confidentiality.

Now perhaps I'm just being paranoid, but if the Rove feeding frenzy had been deliberately manipulated by Rove, one would be hard-pressed to deny it's been a success:

If the Bush White House weren't so completely distracted by the Wilson leak investigation, perhaps the President would be able to actually get something done -- besides sign CAFTA, the highway bill, and the energy bill into law; read all the improving economic figures; celebrate his still-bullet-proof Supreme Court nomination; and continue along semi-stealthily on 2006 fundraising and candidate recruitment.

And if the Democrats weren't so sure that a one-sentence party platform ("Karl Rove should be in jail.") was a sure winner, perhaps they would Notice that the Republican majority is likely to get at least some credit with voters for passing these laws; that the Bill Clinton Democratic Party of free trade just might have been dead and buried shortly after midnight; and that the AFL thing -- along with the America Coming Together thing, along with the DNC thing -- leaves the party with some serious money and organization questions.

And all the while, the Democrats were sending out marching orders rallying the troops to "stay on message," and not to be distracted by minutiae like the Roberts nomination, but to keep hammering away at Rove, Rove, Rove, 24/7.

I'm still not completely sure I believe in the Plamegate Rove-a-dope. My biggest problem with the theory is that it seems to have worked too well. I mean, no one can really be that adroit at manipulating their enemies....

Can they?

The CAFTA vote

CAFTA passed the House in a squeaker, and Will Franklin observes that the vote adhered much more closely to party lines than did the NAFTA vote of a dozen years ago.

His chart is interesting, but I'm not really sure that it represents an actual realignment on the issue of trade, or merely reflects the differences you would expect given that NAFTA was pushed by a Democratic president and CAFTA by a Republican.

(Hat tip: Glenn)

Porn tax?

I thought the GOP was supposed to be the party of sex-phobic priggishness. But last week saw Hillary Clinton call for a federal investigation of a video game, because of sexual content that can't even be accessed in the retail version (the cop shooting, car stealing and drug use in the game presumably don't warrant senatorial attention.)

And now, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) is sponsoring a bill to implement a 25% "porn tax" and mandatory age verification for websites with adult content. The Senate bill's co-sponsors are:

Tom Carper (D-Del.)
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)
Mary Landrieu (D-La.)
Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Ken Salazar (D-Colo.)
Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)
Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)

There's already a House version of the bill as well, sponsored by Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

I don't even know what to say. As of today, there's still a scant handful of issues on which I prefer the Democrats to the Republicans. That handful seems to be diminishing on a near-daily basis, however.

July 27, 2005

Breaking file-sharing myths

I could've told them this.

People who illegally share music files online are also big spenders on legal music downloads, research suggests.

Digital music research firm The Leading Question found that they spent four and a half times more on paid-for music downloads than average fans.
"The research clearly shows that music fans who break piracy laws are highly valuable customers," said Paul Brindley, director of The Leading Question.

"It also points out that they are eager to adopt legitimate music services in the future."

"There's a myth that all illegal downloaders are mercenaries hell-bent on breaking the law in pursuit of free music."

Is Roberts unfit for the Supreme Court?

If nothing in his paper trail is found to disqualify him, it won't be because the New York Times didn't try.

In a proposed response to a letter from Gov. Bob Graham of Florida about the disposition of Cuban refugees from the Mariel boatlift of 1980, he repeatedly misspelled Marielitos (writing "Marielitoes") and rendered the capital of Cuba three times as "Havanna."

How often does this happen?

I agree with Ted Rall. Not when he calls the Federalist Society a "far-right cadre of scary college kids who worship Ayn Rand, dress like Tucker Carlson and care deeply about your sex life," but a few grafs further down, when he says this:

In a sick way, the end of Roe v. Wade may turn out to be a net positive for America. For one thing, Roe was a legally dubious decision based on flawed constitutional logic. Rather than pass abortion rights into law, 14 cowardly congresses and seven weasely presidents have relied on the 1973 ruling to avoid taking political fire from the Bible-thumpers.

Unlike Rall, I don't see the reversal of Roe as a fait accompli, but I do believe that women's rights have been extremely poorly served by feminist groups and abortion rights activists, who have put all their eggs the single basket of shoring up this one dubious, thirty-year-old Supreme Court decision. The abortion rights crowd was negligent not to devote more energy to safeguarding those rights through the legislative process.

Doonesbury yanked

All right, I'll be the first to admit that Doonesbury can be occasionally offensive, and, more to the point, has not been remotely funny even once during the past two decades. But can anyone explain to me why this particular strip got pulled?

July 26, 2005


Please indulge me this one post. I love music, jazz in particular. And I've just listened to one of the best pianists to come along in a very long time.

His name is Eldar Djangirov and he is an 18 year old prodigy from Krgyzstan. This kid is simply amazing. His debut album is arrangements of standards by Herbie Hancock, Monk and others. If you enjoy traditional jazz piano, you have to add this recording to your collection, it's worth every penny.

I can't wait to see where he takes his music next.

Beautiful Sight


July 23, 2005

Massacre in Egypt

I guess Egypt shouldn't have invaded Iraq. Oh wait, they didn't. I wonder how the George Galloways of the world are going to explain this one.

July 22, 2005

Plamegate fatigue

All right, I'm now officially bored beyond tears with the increasingly desperate attempts by Josh Marshall and others to cobble together something resembling an actual scandal in this whole Valerie Plame nonsense.

In the beginning, we were led to expect a tale of high treason -- a deliberate and coordinated White House plot to destroy the cover of American secret agents during wartime, simply to settle a score with the president's enemies. Karl Rove would be shown to be the Rosenbergs, Benedict Arnold and Alger Hiss rolled into one. A ten-blowjob scandal on the Treacher scale, if you will.

Having fallen ridiculously short of that goal, the Rove lynch mob is now frantically but tediously parsing mind-numbing minutiae in their pathetic attempts to spin it into at least a half-blowjob scandal as opposed to a zero-blowjob scandal. I just can't watch the spectacle anymore. It would be grotesque if it weren't so embarrassing.

I'm done with it. Wake me up if they actually come up with anything.

Friday thoughts on Hayek

The Volokh Conspiracy has a roundup of posts on Hayek. It's fascinating stuff, but I'll admit that some of it is over my head. A lot of it has to do with whether the recent phenomena of blogs and open-source software could properly be considered Hayekian information-processing mechanisms. The debate seems to center on the centralization and decentralization of knowledge, and whether centralized systems emerge as a consequence of intentional as opposed to unintentional decentralized decision making.

I guess I need to think about that one some more. Meanwhile, I remain convinced that Hayek's greatest contribution to Western civilization was her role in Desperado. Smokin'.

July 21, 2005

Question about men's restrooms in bars

Has anyone else ever been to one of those places where they put ice in the urinals? What's up with that? Is it just because it's fun to pee on ice or is there some higher purpose involved?

John Howard kicks ass

Sounds like Australia's prime minister has little patience for those "they attacked us because we fought back" arguments. Thanks to K-Lo for the transcript.

PRIME MIN. HOWARD: Could I start by saying the prime minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it. My first reaction was to get some more information. And I really don't want to add to what the prime minister has said. It's a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here.

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq -- a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations -- when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don't know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I've cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: And I agree 100 percent with that. (Laughter.)

London bombings

I haven't posted about this yet because it's breaking news, and I'm just sitting here reading the same sources as everything else.

I will point out this, though. Although not always reliable in the past, Debka proved an excellent source of nearly instant news and analysis during the first wave of bombings two weeks ago. Today they seem poised to follow up. I read about the arrest in front of Blair's office there long before it showed up on BBC, for example.

Anyway, for what it's worth.

Kyoto on the ropes in Canda

I'm getting the impression that the whole Kyoto debate will soon be moot. At this rate, how long can it be before there is no real agreement to join? Now Canada is becoming disillusioned.

A team of officials responsible for a key part of the Kyoto implementation plan has been decimated by resignations, raising questions about whether insiders believe the plan can work.
Natural Resources officials won't speak on the record, but some privately mock Environment Canada's Kyoto plan as little more than a fiction filled with soft numbers and wishful thinking.

Hell, we could've told you that.

(Hat tip : Tim)

Roberts as olive branch?

John Yoo, writing for the Washington Post thinks so.

Democrats should recognize an olive branch when they see it.

By choosing John G. Roberts to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, President Bush came as close as possible to finding a non-ideological, consensus nominee who can also lay claim to being a Republican.

Perhaps I'm naive, but I do think that enough Senate Democrats will indeed see it this way to avoid a filibuster. Of course the Kos/DU/MoveOn types will herald the apocalypse, but they would do so no matter who Bush were to nominate, and everybody knows it. In this way, such groups guarantee their own irrelevance, and moderate Senate Democrats can safely ignore them.

Dumbass questions

Heh, who knew Orrin Hatch had it in him?

In the beginning of Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Bush nominee John G. Roberts Jr. Chairman Orrin Hatch praised Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer of New York for asking "intelligent" questions, but then Hatch switched gears.

"Some [of his questions] I totally disagree with," Hatch of Utah said. "Some I think are dumbass questions, between you and me. I am not kidding you. I mean, as much as I love and respect you, I just think that's true."

A stunned Schumer asked if he heard the chairman correctly, to which Hatch said yes. Again, Schumer asked Hatch if he would like to "revise and extend his remark," congressional speak for change his mind.

A former trial attorney, Hatch replied: "No, I am going to keep it exactly the way it is. I mean, I hate to say it. I mean, I feel badly saying it between you and me. But I do know dumbass questions when I see dumbass questions."

Something tells me we'll be hearing a lot of dumbass questions over the next few weeks.

(Hat tip: Trey Jackson)

July 20, 2005

It's uncanny

Todd Snider and I have the same record collection.


I don't normally write much about abortion here, but I have a feeling that's going to change over the next few weeks. In preparation for that, let's get one thing straight.

I use the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" to broadly classify the opposing sides of this debate. Almost every time I do that, I'll get some complaint from somebody somewhere, saying I should really use "anti-choice" or "pro-death" or some other such idiocy.

Look, I realize that neither of these terms aren't exactly judgment-neutral, but I will continue to use them for the following reasons.

  1. It's convenient. These terms are commonly accepted and everyone already knows what they mean.
  2. It does each side the courtesy of calling them what they wish to be called.

And if I were going to abandon this taxonomy for another, I would simply use "pro-abortion rights" and "anti-abortion rights." At the end of the day, everything else is just tendentious bullshit.

Just call this "Troglodyte Nation"

Guess what? I'm on a drive to "resurrect" "ancient" and "discredited" theories. So says the New York Times, anyway, in today's editorial on the Roberts nomination:

One of the most important areas for the Senate to explore is Judge Roberts's views on federalism -- the issue of how much power the federal government should have. The far right is on a drive to resurrect ancient, and discredited, states' rights theories.

Why? Because we still believe in federalism, that quaint notion set forth by those silly framers in which government power is distributed among the central government and smaller, local governments, to prevent its consolidation by an unchecked central authority.

Can you believe how unenlightened these "federalists" were? It's a pity they didn't have the New York Times back then to explain that the best way to protect individual rights is to cede as much power and authority to Washington as possible.

If he is a mainstream conservative in the tradition of Justice O'Connor, he should be confirmed. But if on closer inspection he turns out to be an extreme ideologue with an agenda of stripping away important rights, he should not be.

See, any justice even remotely interested in limiting federal authority vis-a-vis the states wants to "strip away important rights" in Times-land.

Many people will see only one issue at stake with this new nomination -- abortion. That's shortsighted. The Times at least "gets it" about one thing -- there are more important and more fundamental issues at stake than Roe v. Wade. (They relegate a mere two sentences to abortion in the edtiorial's penultimate paragraph.) They recognize the upcoming battle for what it is. They're just on the wrong side of it.

Most days are good days

Warning: this post is going to devolve into uncharacteristic sentimentality, so if you're as offended by that sort of thing as I usually am, you may want to skip this one.

The reason I've been out of sorts for a couple of days has to do with something that happened this past weekend. One of the neighborhood's most beloved doggies, a Pomeranian named Bella, died this Sunday. She didn't expire quietly during a nap on a comfy sofa at the age of seventeen as she should have. She ran into the path of an oncoming car while we all watched, helpless, from the sidewalk. She was three.

I picked her up immediately, but there was nothing to do except hold her while she went to that big comfy sofa in the sky. My dog Zora lost her best friend. Bella lived next door, and there was a hole in the fence big enough to allow her through, but not Zora. She would come into our backyard and visit and play every day. Her mother is inconsolable. Bella was like her child.

Now I know that with all the trouble in the world, a neighbor's dead dog doesn't rank very high in the overall scheme of things, so it's difficult to account for how shaken up my wife and I were over this. I think part of it was watching it happen and not being able to do anything to stop it. It's disconcerting to think how quickly a pleasant Summer weekend can turn tragic in a single instant that no one can take back. It had been such a good day before that happened, I kept saying to myself. I thought back to similar traumatic events in my life, and I remember having said the same thing: "It was such a good day until..."

So I think the lesson here may be this. Most days are good days. It's just that normally we're too stupid to appreciate it, and we take them for granted. That might be something good to keep in mind. I'm going to try.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent, those of you who are still with me. :-)

July 19, 2005

So it's Roberts

Can I be the first to say it?

I could give a shit what he thinks about abortion. I mean it.

He thinks life begins at conception? Fine by me. He thinks abortions should be allowable retroactively until the kid starts college, or at least moves his shit out of the basement? That's fine too.

The point is, I don't care what his personal views are, so long as his jurisprudential philosophy is to intrepret the law as written, without regard to his personal ideology.

Will Roberts do that? Will he be a strict constructionalist? An originalist? A "pragmatist?"

Don't know. Have no idea. Like everyone else, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and waiting for the information to roll in.

Supreme Court blogging

To answer everyone's questions, yes, I'm interested, but I just don't have much to say at this point. I'm waiting, just like everyone else. And in the meantime, I have no inclination to get bogged down in esoteric debates about, say, the relative merits of "orginalism" versus "textualism." I'm not saying such academic debates are uninteresting, or even unimportant. But either a textualist or an originalist would be infinitely preferable to the kind of unrestrained judicial temperaments that have morphed our highest court into a supra-legislature of late.

I guess we'll know something definite later tonight, after which I'll try reading the tea leaves like everyone else. If history is any indication, however, there's no accurate way to evaluate a justice until he has actually sat on the court for at least a year.

Meanwhile, I don't think either side is eager for a bruising confirmation battle. I predict Bush will take a cue from his base and avoid Gonzales, but I also think he's going to try to stay as true to his principles as possible while simultaneously striving to set up a relatively easy confirmation -- no small feat.

On the subject of Gonzales, am I the only one who was amused by the way some liberals, after having recast Gonzales as Torquemada reincarnated during his AG confirmation, practically started praying for a Gonzales nomination to the high court once the trial balloon had been floated? Heh, that was funny.

Prime Minister Singh does Congress

I heard that afterward, Senators Clinton and Schumer both asked him, "Are you headed uptown?"

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Checkin' in

I'm still here. Just not feeling so great. Hope to be back at full force soon.

Rock on... or something...

July 16, 2005

Best analysis I've read yet...

...of Plamegate.

Susan Estrich, harpy

When I first heard that some people were objecting to John McCain's cameo role in some titty movie, I naturally assumed they were conservative religious zealots for whom Senator McCain was a treasonous Rino. But no, the first shots fired were from professional harpy and Democratic harridan Susan Estrich.

You'd think Estrich would welcome evidence that the GOP is not held entirely in thrall by the religious right, but I guess not. With prominent Democrats resorting to this kind of nonsense, it's proof positive that the Rove/Plame "scandal" is panning out to be a major disappointment for their party.

July 15, 2005

Friday dog blogging

Because why not?

All of these were taken during a recent trip to North Carolina's Outer Banks.

"I heard that too."

Chilling words, right? Damning, in fact. Maybe we should just skip the trial and fry him now.

I stayed up last night waiting for the breaking New York Times "blockbuster"... and got this.

Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the person said.

After hearing Mr. Novak's account, the person who has been briefed on the matter said, Mr. Rove told the columnist: "I heard that, too."

So now we're full circle, back to Bob Novak. Does anyone else get the feeling we're back at square one here?

Meanwhile, we have this admission by Joe Wilson himself:

My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.

Now all but the looniest moonbats have abandoned any reasonable hope of a Rove indictment, much less a frog march. A friend of mine, whom I think it's fair to say is about as liberal as you can get without being a cartoon, opined to me that Rove shouldn't even be fired.

But that's not stopping a rabid Democratic lynch mob from braying for Rove's scalp. Let 'em bray, I say. The more they do, and the more attention the average person pays to this story, the more they'll come across as the gibbering lunatics they are. I don't think the MoveOn wing of the Democratic Party has learned a damn thing since Paul Wellstone's funeral.

Audio clip poses questions

All right, I know this audio clip has already been linked all over the internet, but I'm going to do it again. What grabs me more than the content itself (old news to many of us) is the meta-story here. I'm astonished at the MSM's ability to turn on a dime and completely invert the entire Saddam/OBL connection narrative once the White House had a new occupant.

By the way, I wonder whether ABC News ever issued corrections, retractions or apologies for having gotten the story so "wrong" in 1999?

No, I take it back. I don't wonder.

July 14, 2005

Is it just me...

...or is this the worst idea ever?

Joe Wilson on "Today"

I'd just been wondering where media whore Joe Wilson was these days, and then as if on cue, he shows up on the "Today" show speaking with Jamie Gangel. The transcript is here if you're interested, but I can summarize it for you.

Gangel: Gosh, Mr. Wilson, do you think that Karl Rove should be executed now or later?

Wilson: Well, Jamie, I think he should be executed now, and so does my super-duper-top-double-secret-agent-pinky-swear wife. I talked to her about it on the set of her new Vanity Fair photo shoot.

No questions about Wilson's lies regarding his wife's involvement in getting his job. No questions about Wilson's claim to have seen forged documents eight months before they entered intelligence channels. No questions about why he told the New York Times there was no evidence that Iraq had approached Niger about purchasing uranium when Wilson's own report to the CIA said otherwise.

Nope, Wilson was confronted on none of this. The toughest question he faced was whether he was a Democrat (as if that matters), which he dodged bizarrely by claiming to have contributed to both Gore's and Bush's campaigns in 2000.

And some people still wonder why conservatives mistrust the mainstream media.

Virginia's Photoshop Phollies

When Democratic mayoral hopeful Virginia fields published a doctored photograph on a campaign flier, I didn't mention it here because I doubted there'd be much interest outside the NYC area. (Presumably the photo wasn't "diverse" enough, so two white people's heads were cut off and replaced by Asian heads. Digitally, of course.)

But now that I've seen the actual before and after photos, I have to ask... why do the Asians appear to be singing?

July 13, 2005

God save the Republic!

It's an "outrage" "glaringly abusive!" It's "blow[ing] up the Senate to please the American Taliban!" It's the White House's "no-compromise style."

What new abomination of desecration has the Bush administration wrought to trigger such hysteria? Well... nothing, yet. But there is some speculation that (brace yourselves!) Bush may use a recess appointment to send John Bolton to the U.N., thus threatening to unravel the very fabric of our democracy. Or so you'd think, given the frantic, over-the-top rhetoric of some lefty bloggers.

Jazz at Middle Earth Journal is so appalled that he wants to end the president's power of recess appointments altogether, to prevent Bush from "using an obscure, archaic clause in our laws to do an end run around Congressional oversight." Yeah, that sounds pretty bad. Almost as bad as using an obscure, archaic parliamentary maneuver to block judicial nominees who enjoy the support of a clear majority of the Senate.

Ah, how quickly they forget. Anyone remember James Hormel? Bill Clinton used a recess appointment to put him in the job of ambassador to Luxembourg after his nomination ran into opposition from Catholic groups. Clinton also used a recess appointment to navigate around Senate opposition to Bill Lan Lee for his staunch support of affirmative action. JFK appointed Thurgood Marshall during a congressional recess to avoid a confrontation with Southern senators. Dwight Eisenhower placed no fewer than three Supreme Court justices on the bench using recess appointments. Can you imagine if Bush were to do that?

The recess appointment has been used by presidents since George Washington, occasionally out of necessity but more often as a matter of convenience. The only thing new or outrageous about a (still hypothetical) Bolton appointment is the hyperventilation it's causing on the left.

Heh, I particularly enjoyed that ridiculous piece of hyperbole equating it to "blowing up the Senate."

(Hat tip: Tami)

My thoughts on Rove

All right, I have a confession to make.

The other day I drafted a lengthy post in which I argued that President Bush should fire Karl Rove. Now before I get excoriated by my friends on the right, allow me to explain my reasons for doing so.

  • I never much liked the guy. I'm still pissed off by his treatment of John McCain in the 2000 primaries, and I blame him in large part for the Faustian deal the GOP has cut with the religious right.
  • Rightly or wrongly, he has become a political liability and a huge distraction for the administration. (Witness the hapless Scott McLellan's train wreck of a press conference.)
  • Although Rove's actions appear well short of criminal, that doesn't necessarily mean he should keep his job. Even if he were fully unaware of Plame's status, he's still responsible for his words and deeds. Politics at this level is a tough business and some mistakes demand a high price.
  • The argument that Rove did not explicitly use Plame's name in his discussion with Cooper is Clintonian and meaningless hair-splitting, as even Rove's attorney admits.
  • After repeated White House denials of Rove's involvement, and promises of retribution against any administration "leakers," it sets the administration up for charges of hypocrisy if nothing is done.
  • I was probably drunk.

So why didn't I post it? I thought it deserved some more thought. For one thing, my Democratic, Bush-hating wife confided in me that she didn't really see the "big deal" in what we know of Rove's role in this whole soap opera. In attempting to play Devil's advocate, I came to realize the Devil's case is fairly weak. The following are some of the reasons why I'm not quite ready to roll out the tar and feathers.

  • It's all but impossible to read Matt Cooper's account of his discussion with Rove and conclude that Rove was "attacking" Plame, as Joe Wilson alleged. Rather, he was providing background ("double super secret" background no less) to the Time reporter, cautioning him that the circumstances of Joe Wilson's fact-finding mission and the conclusions of said mission were not as Wilson was leading people to believe. It seems unlikely that Rove intended the bit about Wilson's wife to be published.
  • According to Bob Novak, the CIA itself freely confirmed Plame's status as an analyst, but merely asked that Novak not use her name in his column. This means Rove gave up no more information than could be obtained from a simple phone call to Langley.
  • If Plame worked at CIA headquarters in Langley, how "covert" could she have been, honestly? Even Andrea Mitchell (reluctantly) admitted that Plame's status as a CIA employee was common knowledge, which is likely how Rove knew it in the first place. If true, that does make a huge difference.
  • Almost everything in this story is still just about as clear as mud, and many questions remain unanswered. For example, if Rove is the source, who is Judy Miller protecting by going to jail? According to Robert Luskin, Rove signed a blanket waiver, which would apply to Miller as well as Cooper. And who was Novak's source? He was, after all, the journalist who "blew" Plame's cover, yet we have no indication that he ever spoke to Rove on the subject.

Honestly, based on what we know now, the whole brouhaha seems like a third-rate political food fight, nothing more. I continue to believe that Bush could reap some political benefit by sacking Rove, letting his opponents score a point, and putting the whole sorry mess to bed. That's not really the president's style, however, so I don't really expect it to happen.

What I do expect to happen is that the Democrats, smelling blood in the water, will grossly overplay their hand, as is their wont. Already, we have senior Democratic politicians demanding Rove's head on a platter and left-leaning bloggers and pundits calling for Rove to be "frog-marched" into federal prison, even before the investigation has concluded and before a single indictment has been handed down.

There's an excellent chance this will backfire. The more the liberals keep the focus on Plamegate, the more people will begin to realize that their breathless hysteria doesn't really match the severity of Rove's supposed transgression. More importantly, more people will begin to learn what some of us have known for a year now -- that Joe Wilson is a mendacious partisan hack. He falsely implied that he was sent to Niger at the behest of the Vice President's office, he falsely denied his wife had any involvement is his being chosen and, most importantly, he lied about his own findings, claiming to have "debunked" the Niger/uranium claim, although his report to the CIA, if anything, actually bolstered the claim.

Unlike us political junkies, the average man on the street could probably tell you very little about either Karl Rove or Joe Wilson. Democrats should probably think long and hard about whether they really want to change that.

July 12, 2005

Beware of falling deficits

The Wall Street Journal wonders why soaring deficits always make the news while falling deficits don't.

That's easy! Because Bush is president.

The federal deficit is down by at least $100 billion because of (are you ready?) skyrocketing tax receipts -- up almost 15% through June.

But didn't Bush "recklessly" cut taxes for "the rich?" Say, do you suppose there might be something to this whole "supply side" thing after all?

While I'm on the subject, I think there's another important lesson to be learned here: long term deficit projections are bullshit. Not too many years ago, in the late 90's, economists were forecasting balanced budgets and surpluses "as far as the eye can see" -- ten and twenty years into the future. A few short years later, after an economic recession and the September 11 attacks, we had "exploding" deficits "as far as the eye can see."

The problem is the "eye" can't really see that far. Those predictions were bullshit in the 90's and they were bullshit in 2002. And the next time someone tries to predict federal budget deficits more than a year or so out? That will be bullshit as well. Let's try to remember that when it happens.

Liberals more likely to believe in ghosts

"Reality based" indeed.

There's an ideological twist, with 42% of liberals saying they believe in ghosts--but only 25% of conservatives and 35% of moderates saying this.

Chirac more hated than Bush...

...in France!!!

July 11, 2005

Plame leak "frog march" watch

Nikita Demosthenes also wants to see someone frog-marched over the Plame case... but it's not Karl Rove.

Valerie Plame should be frog-marched out of Langley as of yesterday - together with every other person in the approval chain that sent Joe Wilson as the U.S. investigator in Niger for Iraqi uranium purchases.
The reporting I've seen indicates that Joes Wilson's wife is not a foreign spy - she's a desk jockey at Langley (with a cushy place in Georgetown) who's responsible for ... wait for it ... tracking down WMD for our country! Why on earth did someone with that very important responsbility pre-judge the Niger-Iraq-yellowcake story as "this crazy story"? I mean, its only our national security and stuff - no biggie.

How many other WMD leads has Ms. Plame given short shrift? Do you know about any more "crazy" WMD leads, Val? Maybe you should go look at those files again. Does her high security clearance prevent her from getting fired for not giving a whit about national security risks for which she's the responsbile agent?

It gets worse. Not only did Ms. Plame dismiss one of the key pieces of intelligence regarding Iraq potentially creating the Arab bomb - she successfuly recommended her gadfly husband to be the sole investigator to go check out the lead! How many millions of dollars go to the CIA for intelligence gathering each year? And yet the only person we have to send to Niger to see if Saddam is building a nuke is ... the house husband of an agent at Langley?

What's next? Will Valerie Plame send the family golden retriever to look for missle silos in North Korea?

Heh, "golden retriever." Good one.

Advice to liberals: remain calm

Here's another reason why liberals shouldn't freak out over Bush's Supreme Court appointment(s). Republicans are very good at certain things (although I'm not sure what they are), but placing conservative justices on the High Court is decidedly not one of them.

Going back to Nixon, Republican presidents have placed nine justices on the Supreme Court. Of these, no more than three (Thomas, Rehnquist and Scalia) can be said to be doctrinaire conservatives in their judicial philosophy. That's a pretty piss-poor batting average. Historically, in fact, Republicans are just as likely to appoint principled liberals as principled conservatives. I would throw Stevens, Blackmun and Souter all in that category, with the remainder (Powell, Kennedy and O'Connor) being squishy moderates.

July 08, 2005

Fantastic Four sneak preview

I was talking with my mom the other night about the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. I told her I thought it would probably suck, but I'd have to go see it anyway. She tends to be a bit on the old-fashioned, conservative side, so she responded with something like, "Well, if they're making it this day and age, I'm sure it will be full of sex and bad language." That's her typical response on such matters.

Anyway, it got me thinking....

Yes, I'm hearing the rumors too

I'm talking about the rumors that both William Rehnquist and John Paul Stevens will be announcing their retirement from the Supreme Court.

I don't know if they're true or not, but I have marveled at the fact that Stevens has not entered more into the discussion of late. Yes, I know Rehnquist has cancer, but Stevens is like, what, 130? Didn't Millard Fillmore appoint him or something? Or one of those other "painted" presidents that we don't have actual photographs of? Wasn't he that "I have not yet begun to fight!" guy? No, maybe that was John Paul II.

Anyway, I'm not saying it's true, but no one should be surprised if it is. It would, however, change the entire calculus of the SCOTUS "war," to use Chuck Schumer's term. For all the brouhaha surrounding O'Connor and Rehnquist, it is highly doubtful that Bush could use their departure to move the Court significantly to the Right.

To see why, let's do some arithmetic. Let's assign the justices a "conservative" quotient from 1 to 10 (although I dislike using the term "conservative" to describe judicial nominees, I'll employ it now for convenience.) Rehnquist has probably earned himself a 10 or close to it, while O'Connor would probably muster no more than a 7 on a good day. That means the Supreme Court would lose 17 conservative points by their retirement. In the current political environment, with Schumer declaring jihad even before a nominee is selected, and the various left-wing interest groups having been mobilized for weeks already, it's very unlikely that Bush could push through a nominee more conservative than an 8-and-a-half at the outside. If he gets two such nominees he's back up at 17 and the whole thing's a wash. So the real question was never really about whether Bush could shift the court rightward, but rather whether his opponents could shift it leftward.

But Stevens changes the whole thing. He's got a conservative quotient of about one. Throw him into the mix and SCOTUS stands to lose 18 Conservative Points and pick up 25-plus. That's a net gain of seven-ish Conservative Points, or about one Sandra Day O'Connor. Interesting.

Brits on Galloway

Yes, George Galloway is a vile piece of human filth. It's a pity it took this tragedy for some to recognize it, but better late than never.

...Armed Forces minister Adam Ingram accused Mr Galloway of "dipping his poisonous tongue in a pool of blood".

Mr Galloway hit back by branding the minister a 'thug' but was called to order by the Deputy Speaker, Sylvia Heal.

While Mr Galloway went on to describe yesterday's attacks as "despicable", he faced a hail of criticism last night.

Senior Labour backbencher Stephen Pound said: "I thought George had sunk to the depths of sickness in the past but this exceeds anything he has done before.

"You would think an MP whose constituency borders on Aldgate East's first thoughts would have been with the victims of these horrific attacks and the emergency services. His few remaining friends will turn away in horror from this intervention."

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said: "I think this man is a disgrace to this country and he should not be in Parliament.

(Hat tip: John Hood)

July 07, 2005

In solidarity...

(Image courtesy of ayc)

Do I have to file this blog with the FEC?

I was never a huge fan of campaign finance reform, but I'd always thought that its harshest critics were being a tad paranoid in their predictions of disaster. Increasingly, however, I'm beginning to believe they were right.

Check this out. A Washington judge has ruled that a talk radio discussion of a certain ballot initiative represented an "in-kind political contribution," and as such must be dutifully reported to the powers that be.

Presumably such intangibles aren't (yet) subject to contribution limits, but one suspects the only reason is pragmatic: how would one objectively assess the dollar value of said "contributions?"

Still, it raises a whole host of questions. Would the Kerry campaign have to report the endorsement of the New York Times? If a talk radio host you've never heard of says nice things about your campaign, are you still required to report it if you don't even know about it? How can one ever be sure one is reporting all intangible benefits one has received from all sources, if there is no audit trail?

These are all interesting questions, but before we invest too much energy into answering them, let's just hope some sane judge will reverse this stupidity.

(Hat tip: The Agitator)

London bombings

In light of today's events, I've decided to shelve the nonsense I'd been planning to post this morning. Doesn't really seem appropriate. And am I the only one who was a bit disheartened this morning to see how anxiously and gleefully both sides of the blogosphere co-opted this outrage as a sounding board for their own political yammerings? Not all, of course, but some.

Look, I know it's a valid subject for policy discussions, but perhaps that can at least wait until they're done sifting through the wreckage, you know? And I'm sure it will only get worse. Perhaps we should take bets on when we'll see the first post alleging that the explosions were engineered by Karl Rove to divert attention from the Plame leak investigation.

July 06, 2005

GOP = Taliban?

A lot of conservatives were offended by kos's ever-so-witty equation of the Religious Right and Islamist fanatics. Call me a Pollyanna, but I sense an opportunity here. This could be our big chance to get the Left to buy into the war: "Let's rally to defeat Zarqawi! He's like a Jordanian Rick Santorum!"

Has anyone else noticed...

...that Howard Dean hasn't said anything stupid in, like, three or four days now? What's up with that? Did someone have a "talk" with him?

Obligatory Plame leak post

Yeah yeah, I know I haven't posted much on this yet, but what am I going to say? I don't know who did it, but then again, neither do a lot of other people who claim to. What's behind this "Rove did it" meme? At the end of the day, it's the unsubstantiated talk-show allegations of one Lawrence O'Donnell, the hyperpartisan, anti-Bush zealot who suffered a complete nervous breakdown live on MSNBC last year, combined with a lot of wishful thinking on the Left.

Now I'm not saying Rove didn't leak the name, mind you, but if he did, I'd be surprised. And he owes Judith Miller a thank-you card for going to jail to cover his ass. By the way, do she and Cooper have different sources? One might presume so, since Cooper claims to have permission from his source to tell all.

I also can't get too worked up over journalists being compelled to testify in a criminal investigation. I know they like to think they're above that sort of thing, but they're not. My wife is a psychotherapist, and even in her profession, client confidentiality is not an absolute.

Anyway, it's all great political theater, and I'll be watching just like everyone else. It'll be keenly interesting to see how it all plays out.

London gets the Olympics

So I guess that's it, then. I guess I can't be disappointed by this. As someone who lives in the NYC metro area, I wasn't particularly looking forward to hosting the games, and I damn sure wasn't enamored of that stupid West Side stadium, so I didn't have much invested in this contest.

Still, it's hard not to feel a bit competitive at times like this. But in the best spirit of the games, we should strive to remember that it's not really important whether New York won or lost its bid to host the Olympics. What's really important is that France lost.

Yes, I'm still alive

...just struggling to ramp back up after an extended holiday weekend. Hope everyone had a great one.

July 01, 2005

Who Bush should appoint

If I were president, I'd replace Sandra Day O'Connor with Glenn Reynolds. Since that ain't gonna happen, however, here's what I think President Bush should do.

O'Connor was the first female Supreme Court justice, so replacing her with a white male is not an option. Bush should research a female or minority jurist with a well-established track record of orginalist or strict contructionist philosophy, but without an incendiary paper trail on hot-button issues such as abortion. When such a justice has been found (let's call him "Mini-Clarence") Bush should appoint... Judge Roy Moore.

This will trigger the "Mother of All Shit Fits," which I predict will last about two weeks. Then, once they've hosed down the walls of the Senate chamber, the war can begin in earnest. There will be endless debates and filibusters, and many, many failed cloture votes. George Voinovich will probably cry. There will be protests and counter-protests, recriminations and name-calling. New 527's will form. Bill Frist will threaten to go nuclear. Bush will blame the Senate for being obstructionist and refusing to fill an important vacancy on the High Court. The Democrats and Air America and MoveOn.org will call Bush and extremist.

Then, after about a month of this impasse, Bush will quietly dispatch John McCain to "negotiate" with moderate Senate Democrats. After a lengthly all-night horse-trading session, they will emerge to announce that a deal has been brokered and the healing can begin. The president will agree (reluctantly) to withdraw Moore's name from consideration and to nominate Mini-Clarence instead. The Democrats agree not to filibuster. America is the winner.