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October 31, 2005

Insert Kerry flip-flop joke here

(Via James Taranto:)

John Kerry in 1999:

Is there no one finding a countervailing proportionality in this case when confronted by our own congressionally created Javert who is not just pursuing a crime but who is at the center of creating the crime which we are deliberating on now?...Think about it. When Mr. Starr was appointed, when we authorized an independent counsel, when the grand jury was convened, the crime on trial before us now had not even been committed, let alone contemplated.

John Kerry last Friday:

Today's indictment of the vice president's top aide and the continuing investigation of Karl Rove are evidence of White House corruption at the very highest levels, far from the 'honor and dignity' the president pledged to restore to Washington just five years ago.

Some things never change. John Kerry's opinions aren't one of them.

The Ritter vs. Ritter debate

It's better than Galloway vs. Hitchens! And Tim Blair has it.

Scott Ritter last month:
[T]he whole world knew [in 1995] ... that Iraq represented a threat to no one when it came to weapons of mass destruction.

Scott Ritter in 2002:
I have never given Iraq a clean bill of health! Never! Never!
Scott Ritter in 1999:
No matter how difficult stopping Saddam Hussein is today, it will become more and more difficult, and extract a higher and higher price, the longer he is left to rebuild his arsenal.

Scott Ritter last month:
I'm a big proponent of bringing the troops home as soon as possible.

Scott Ritter in 1999:
[Iraq] sooner or later will have to be confronted by American military might.

Scott Ritter last month:
[I]f we wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, then we should have had a debate, discussion, and dialogue about the real reasons and not make up some artificial WMD.
Scott Ritter last month:
[B]y 1995 there were no more weapons in Iraq, there were no more documents in Iraq, there was no more production capability in Iraq because we were monitoring the totality of Iraq's industrial infrastructure with the most technologically advanced, the most intrusive arms control regime in the history of arms control.

Scott Ritter in 1999 (extract from Ritter's Endgame):
In 1995 Unit 2001 conducted tests on live human subjects taken from the Abu Ghraib prison, using BW and binary CW agent. Around fifty prisoners were chosen for these experiments, which took place at a remote testing ground in western Iraq. The purpose of these experiments was to test the toxicity of available agent to ensure that the biological agent remained viable. As a result, all the prisoners died.

There's much more. Go read all of it.

Some perspective...

...regarding this whole "Scalito" meme: Take it with a grain of salt. Remember when Anthony Kennedy was referred to as "Bork without a beard?"


No, Hugh. This is a "solid, B+ pick."

(Although Judge Alito did disappoint me in that whole "O.J. Simpson" case.)

Don't you wish...

...that conservatives would fight federal spending with the same ferocity they fought the Miers nomination? I know we're making some progress on this front, but I'd like to see much more, much sooner.

Reid: Sack Rove

Harry Reid thinks Bush should demand Karl Rove's resignation. But if there's one lesson that Bush has learned from the whole Harriet Miers fiasco, it's that Senator Reid gives really, really shitty advice.

October 30, 2005

The Professor opens a can of whup-ass

Last week, I marveled (albeit in an oblique way) that the Wilsons had managed to survive this whole affair with their reputations and careers largely intact (or partially intact in Joe's case, I guess.) Glenn Reynolds is more to the point.

Either way, it seems to me that everyone involved with planning the Wilson mission should be fired.

He explains why, in uncharacteristically harsh (but entirely appropriate) language.

Assuming that Valerie Plame was some sort of genuinely covert operative -- something that's not actually quite clear from the indictment -- the chain of events looks pretty damning: Wilson was sent to Africa on an investigative mission regarding nuclear weapons, but never asked to sign any sort of secrecy agreement(!). Wilson returns, reports, then publishes an oped in the New York Times (!!) about his mission. This pretty much ensures that people will start asking why he was sent, which leads to the fact that his wife arranged it. Once Wilson's oped appeared, Plame's covert status was in serious danger. Yet nobody seemed to care.

This leaves two possibilities. One is that the mission was intended to result in the New York Times oped all along, meaning that the CIA didn't care much about Plame's status, and was trying to meddle in domestic politics. This reflects very badly on the CIA.

The other possibility is that they're so clueless that they did this without any nefarious plan, because they're so inept, and so prone to cronyism and nepotism, that this is just business as usual. If so, the popular theory that the CIA couldn't find its own weenie with both hands and a flashlight would appear to have found some pretty strong support.

Ouch. I don't know what the professor is drinking tonight, but I'm happy to buy him another round.

Next SCOTUS pick

Are the rumors true? That it's going to be either Luttig or Alito? TradeSports seems to be buying it.

Neither of these would be my fantasy pick, but they both seem like reasonable choices based on what little I know.

David Kopel tries to read the Second Amendment tea leaves for these candidates and others. It's hard to infer much from how little information he has, but I don't see anything here that should unduly spook the gun rights crowd.

UPDATE: D'oh! In a pre-edited version of this post I referred to Alito as "Hispanic." He's not, of course. I was thinking "Garza" for some reason.

October 29, 2005

There's just got to be a pony in here somewhere!

How stupid is Scooter Libby? I mean, seriously?

And why are the simplest lessons sometimes the hardest to learn?

After Nixon, Clinton, Martha Stewart and a whole host of lesser cases, have we learned nothing at all?

Never try to thwart a criminal investigation, and never lie to a grand jury. Ever. Period.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for Mr. Libby. Perjury is a serious crime, and he must be made to pay the price (and yes, I'm presuming guilt here, but the indictment does look pretty damning.)

To their credit, though, I've yet to hear any prominent conservative argue otherwise -- that Libby should not have to face the consequences of his misdeeds.

I'm similarly gratified to note the absence of anti-Fitzgerald attacks coming from the White House and its supporters. This is in such stark contrast to the Clinton team's reaction to the Special Prosecutor's office that it makes it all the more striking.

Finally, I'm struck by the relative quiet coming from the Left -- no howls of outrage, at least not yet.

But one has to wonder, why not? After many months of breathless anticipation, and allegations of "treason" at the very highest levels of government, and visions of Karl Rove being "frog marched" from the White House, and rumors of "twenty-three" or more indictments, what did they get?

As far as anything regarding the Plame "outing," they got exactly bupkis. They got one indictment, of a man that 95% of Americans have never heard of, for lying about a "crime" that never took place.

In short, their "Fitzmas" present was a lump of coal.

But they haven't even realized it yet. They're still frantically digging through a huge pile of horse shit. Pretty soon, however, they're going to have to face the fact that there's no pony in there.

Then, mark my words, it's going to get ugly.

October 28, 2005

Merry Fitzmas!

I'm sure you've already heard it by now, but Scooter Libby, the White House's most influential advisor and primary foreign policy architect, has just been indicted on charges of high treason at the very top levels of government, deliberately leaking classified information, and wantonly exposing and endangering a U.S. agent during a time of war.

Oh no, wait. He wasn't indicted for any of that. I guess that didn't happen. Libby was indicted for Bill Clinton/Martha Stewart stuff.

Not that that's not serious! And indeed, I'd like to welcome all our liberal readers into finally regarding perjury as a serious crime. Better late than never, right? Unlike our 42nd president, however, it would appear that Mr. Scooter has the good sense and decency to resign.

This is all significant stuff, no doubt. Still, I'm sure there are many kiddies out there who are disappointed not to find a pony or a shiny new Rove indictment under the Fitzmas tree.

Well, to them I would just like to say the following: Let's please not lose sight of the true meaning of Fitzmas. With all the emphasis on indictments and criminal charges, I fear the holiday's true importance gets lost in the media sensationalism.

Even though you may be disappointed now, I want to you to take a moment tonight, as we all sit with our families to carve the roast beast, to pause and reflect on why we celebrate Fitzmas in the first place. Sure, special prosecutors and reindeer can be fun, but the real meaning is in our hearts. Please don't forget that.

Merry Fitzmas, everybody.

And God bless us. God bless us, every one.

In an alternate universe

In an alternate universe, Al Gore is now in his second term as president. Also in this alternate universe, my wife works for the CIA. She, like many others, is skeptical about the president's current foreign policy regarding Derkaderkastan.

So she arranges for me to go on a "fact finding" junket, to investigate some of the administration's claims that she finds particularly dubious. I return, file an inconclusive report, and then write a scathing Op-Ed piece for the New York Times in which I blast the Gore administration with a bunch of misleading half-truths and outright fabrications, beginning by making the clear implication that I had been dispatched on my mission by Vice President Lieberman's office.

The administration begins to feel the political heat as my Op-Ed piece fills the entire news cycle for several weeks, but is rightly puzzled as to how this dumb-ass blogger got the assignment in the first place.

Well just a little digging was all that was required to discover the truth. When reporters ask the obvious questions, some White House officials tell them the simple truth, on "double super secret background": my wife sent me, even though I angrily deny it.

When busted, however, I display no remorse or contrition, but rather fly into a rage, accusing the White House of "treason!" and express my desire to see leading administration figures "frog marched" across the front lawn.

Now, here's the question: Assuming this alternate universe is a "sane" one, in which the normal laws of cause and effect and human nature still work as we understand them, which outcome would you think the most likely?

A) My wife and I are in jail, or, at the very least, fired and utterly discredited, or

B) We're posing for our photo shoots in Vanity Fair, while a special prosecutor spends two years investigating whether the White House did anything wrong.

Just wonderin'....

Oh, for God's sake...

Can you believe the current spin? So now Scooter Libby is "one of the administration's influential advisers," and "a chief architect of the war with Iraq."

Unbelievable. But I guess I should've seen it coming. I guess if Fitzgerald had merely indicted some schmuck named Miguel who washed dishes in the White House cafeteria, we'd suddenly be reading stories about how he'd been secretly running the whole show.

Bush's base

Jeff Goldstein asks a damn good question.

Question: how many "bases" does the President have, exactly? I mean, for years we've been hearing from Democrats and the legacy media how James Dobson, Hugh Hewitt, the evangelicals, et al, are Bush's "right wing" conservative base -- but these are the very people who, in addition to GOP party pragmatists, by and large were most supportive of the Miers nomination.

And yet today, all I'm hearing is that Bush caved to his "extremist" "right wing base."

Can we have a bit of a clarification, please? Is Hugh Hewitt part of the Republican base or is he not? Is James Dobson? Or will these Miers supporters now be embraced by Chuck Schumer and Pat Leahy and Barbara Boxer as "moderates"?

Let's review

Mike Kinsley's Plamegate recap reminds me why he's still one of my favorite lib'ruls.

Then there is the aide to the vice president who answers to the call of "Snooker." Or is it Smoky? Or maybe Sunshine? In the typical movie about Washington, a character labeled as an aide to the vice president might just as well carry a sign saying, "I get killed off in the first five minutes." And yet Skipper, or Snappy, starts out as an obscure minor character and floats up steadily to the point where he is the central figure of the entire drama.

Anyway, let's recap. Two and a half years ago, Robert D. Novak published the name of an undercover CIA agent in his column. He then joined Plame offstage, where he has mysteriously remained ever since. Since he has known the answer all along, he may have been murdered to ensure his silence. Although there is no evidence for this, it makes as much sense as any other explanation for his disappearance from the story line.

Enter the liberal media establishment, led by the New York Times. First seen charging up a hill, demanding the appointment of a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of this outrage, it soon was charging back down, complaining that the special prosecutor was asking journalists to finger the leaker. Who else would you ask?

Judith Miller of the Times was the only reporter who declined any deal, at least at first, and went to jail rather than testify. An expert on germ warfare (the subject of her most recent book), she said that revealing her source would inevitably lead to a pandemic that would wipe out all of humankind. Or something like that. My notes are a bit hard to interpret.

Everyone assumed that Miller's source was Snapper. Him and/or Karl Rove (another great name, especially for the official bad guy). He said he didn't mind if she testified. She apparently didn't hear this, so a couple months later he said it louder and she said okay. Then she testified that she couldn't remember who told her that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent, but it wasn't Skippy. And she conceded that much of what she reported in the run-up to the Iraq war, relying on administration leaks, was wrong. So she went to jail to protect a "source" who didn't give her the crucial fact at issue for a story she didn't write, but did give her inaccurate information for other stories.

So much for free speech

But she had it coming, of course, the knuckledragging right-wing bitch.


While I'm eating breakfast, I have to read this....

Today the knuckledragger wing of the Republican party eats the salty boogers of justice. Not a pleasant thing to watch...but watch we shall.

NORML for normal people

I don't smoke marijuana. I haven't smoked it for fifteen years, and I don't plan to smoke it ever again. In spite of this, I believe marijuana should be decriminalized for both medicinal and recreational use.

Consequently, I'm sometimes asked to join groups like NORML, or to sign one of their petitions or something. I guess I'm gutless, but I always politely decline. The truth is, I just don't want to be associated with these people.

I think groups like NORML have an image problem. People dismiss them as just a bunch of potheads who want to smoke up. I'll confess that I harbor this prejudice myself, and it's largely been borne out by my experience. I believe most of them are motivated more by self-interest than by liberty.

So I was wondering... is there a group out there like "Non-Users for the Reform of Marijuana Laws" (call it "NURML")? If not, perhaps there should be. They might be taken more seriously than the current champions of decriminalization.

Too good not to post

I saw this yesterday on Ace's site, but I didn't post it here for fear that it would provide more ammo to the meddlesome nannies who want to regulate our entertainment.

Upon reflection, however, this video is fascinating on so many levels that I think it's actually a work of modern art. Besides, I laughed my ass of for about five minutes.

So here it is. It's a kid arguing with his mom about chocolate milk while playing Xbox Live, apparently with his headset still on. Granted, the chap needs a beatin', but it still cracked me up. I love the way the video synchs with the kid's voice, particularly at the end.

October 27, 2005

Closed circuit to the White House

PLEASE, Mr. President!


UPDATE: Radley would seem to agree.

A lesson in Photoshop

I was just cc'd on an e-mail from alert reader Paul Moore to USA Today: If you're going to Photoshop Condi, at least get it right.


The Night Before Fitzmas


'Twas the night before Fitzmas, and all through the café
The soy lattés were foaming, the mood bright and gay,
The stockings were hung (and so's Peter North)
In hopes that indictments would soon be brought forth

Some Kossacks were sleeping, despite Howard Dean's screams
While a jumpsuited Karl pranced 'round in their dreams.
The mood was electric, suspense filled the air
With tie-dye and "Che" shirts and beaded footwear

But all the excitement was taking its toll
An elderly hippie was sparking a bowl
"I can't fucking stand it!!" Randi Rhodes finally cried,
"What's the big hold-up? They all fucking LIED!!!!"

When on CNN there arose such a commotion
That Atrios dropped his Kleenex and lotion
"We've got big breaking news," the anchorman said
"The Miers nomination is officially dead."

"Shit, fucking shit!!" Kos spit out his soy
"This bullshit is all some Rovian ploy!!
They want us distracted, so no one will see
The Karl and Scooter perp walk on TV!!"

"It won't work this time," Josh Marshall said calmly
"(By the way, that Garofalo chick sure is homely!)
But I've got an exclusive, from a leak overseas
About the Downing Street Memo and WMDs."

Al Franken leapt up and kicked Josh to the floor
"Spare us all that, Josh, we've heard it before!
All of that bullshit that you've ever told us
Has never panned out, it's all just been bogus!"

The tension was broken by a knock at the door.
"I have fifty large pizzas for a Mr. Michael Moore?"
But since the rotund director was not seen to be near
Oliver Willis answered with, "Just leave those here."

But Michael emerged from behind the pastry counter
The trays were all empty, and he a bit rounder
And they all had the munchies, so they started to fight
Merry Fitzmas to all, and to all a good night.

Eat your heart out, Mad Kane ;-)

I swear

Sometimes posters at DU come so close to self-parody that you almost suspect they're actually trolls:

I woke up this morning tingling from excitement over the possibility of indictments; my partner said I had been tossing and turning all night. He too is on edge.

This is too much to bear. If there aren't any indictments I will feel positively suicidal! I'll need to resurrect my post-election support group at the Y. This is gonna be a long 24 hours. Oh God!

An interesting hypothesis

I'll confess that I've had similar thoughts myself, but I've never seen anyone else express it so directly.

For the last few years, the Left in the USA has been saying: It's all about oil, it's all about oil. Now for many Americans, and for most people outside America, fighting a war for mere oil is evil. But what if lots of Americans hear that this war is all about oil, and are pleased? But what if the dime has now finally dropped that actually this war is NOT all about oil?

Could that be what Middle America is getting nervous about? For as long as they were convinced that it was all about oil, they were content. That is our kind of war. Simple, limited, clear, selfish. All the things you want, and not like Vietnam at all. But now that it is dawning on them that this really is about "democracy" and such like, for that exact reason they are getting fidgety. Will it be worth it? When will it end? Where will it end? etc.

It would be entertaining to think that the American Left have been the most energetic de facto supporters of President Bush because of what they regarded as their fiercest criticism of him, but that now that the Left is being defeated in the argument about the true nature and true purpose of the war by the war's most energetic supporters, support for that war is, as a direct result, eroding.

I'm not saying I buy it, necessarily, but it's an interesting hypothesis.

Leak indictments would be a "sad day"

Joe Wilson doesn't seem to have any Fitzmas spirit.

Wilson said he was withholding judgment regarding the claims about Cheney. "I don't know what to think of that, except to say it saddens me deeply. I get no satisfaction from that."

Ah well, there's a Scrooge in every crowd, I guess. Yes, a Rove or Cheney indictment would no doubt send Wilson into a veritable paroxysm of gloom and depression, not to mention ruin his whole day. Fortunately, there are plenty of other moonbats who reject this "Bah, humbug!" attitude and will great the news with the appropriate holiday cheer.


Every now and then, you win one. And I've had a rough week job-wise, so believe me, any good news this morning was more than welcome.

I can't help but celebrate Miers' withdrawal, but I do feel a tinge of ghoulish guilt in so doing. I'm sure she's probably a decent lady, who neither asked for nor deserved any of the public humiliation she's endured since her nomination.

Still, I place the blame for that squarely on the White House, which sent an unqualified nominee to the slaughter. Well, if it's any consolation, the public has an incredibly short memory span for such things. In another few months, she'll blissfully have joined Doug Ginsburg in the Land of Quickly-Forgotten Withdrawn Nominees.

Now I guess it's time to re-open speculation for the next pick!


Per CNN and FoxNews, Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the Supreme Court.

October 26, 2005

Extrmism in defense of liberty...

A friend just e-mailed me this quote by Joseph Sobran.

If you want government to intervene domestically, you're a liberal.

If you want government to intervene overseas, you're a conservative.

If you want government to intervene everywhere, you're a moderate.

If you don't want government to intervene anywhere, you're an extremist.




How can they continue to generate such breathless headlines concerning the lack of news?

Who would've thunk it?

The most cogent assessment of the 2000 milestone I've read yet comes from Andrew Sullivan.

If someone had told me three years ago that by October 2005, Saddam Hussein's murderous tyranny would be over for ever, that Iraq would have a new constitution that emerged from a democratic process and that it will soon have a democratically elected parliament and government, I would have been thrilled. If I were further told that the inevitably embittered Sunni Arab minority had decided to throw itself into democratic politics to amend the constitution and protect its interests in a future Iraq, I would be amazed by how swiftly democratic habits can take root in a post-totalitarian country. If I had been told that, despite extraordinary provocation from Jihadist and Sunni Arab terrorists, the country had not dissolved into civil war, and that unemployment was dropping, I'd be heartened. If I had also been told that the United States had not suffered another major terror attack since the fall of 2001, I would have refused to believe it. The fact that the administration has made countless, terrible errors in the aftermath of the invasion and miscalculated badly on how the Baathists and Jihadists would fight back, should not distract us from these underlying realities. In 2002, I feared U.S. casualties approaching 10,000 in a brutal, urban war for Baghdad. The enemy gave us a simmering insurgency instead, shrewdly calculating that that was their best defense. They were right in the short term. But that makes it all the more imperative to prove them wrong in the long term.

It does beg the question...

All right, by now even Drudge has linked to Michelle Malkin's bit about the demonic, Photoshopped Condi.

Look, I'm not going to ascribe sinister motives to this, but you do have to wonder... what the hell were they thinking? I mean, whatever effect they were aiming for, this surely ain't it. Maybe they just wanted to heighten the contrast in her eyes or something, but don't you think they'd have at least looked at the results and said, "Hey, this looks like shit. It was better before I dorked with it."?!

This is THE COOLEST thing I have seen all day!

It's a Lego Rubik's cube solver.

Do you suppose Hillary had a point after all?

About computer games, at least?

Nah, me neither. Still, ya gotta love this guy's excuse.

Tyrone D. McMillian, 33, who was arrested after a high-speed chase through three New York towns in August, told the arresting officers: ''I've been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto and NASCAR on PlayStation. I thought I could get away.''

A less offensive cartoon

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Fitzmas! In the spirit of the holiday, I've decided to reach out and post a less offensive cartoon than the one I did earlier. I know that cartoons by this guy are not offensive, because I've posted them frequently in the past and I've never once been told to go to hell.

Yes, I know that last panel appears to suggest that bin Laden and the Bushies share "common cause," but (*chuckle*) that's just ol' Ted!

What's wrong with Kos?

Am I the only one who gets this message when I try to go there?

Exiting via interrupt: 15

Maybe all the Fitzmas anticipation was just too much for 'em and they blew a fuse.

Pimps and ho's (why not be both?)

When new allegations concerning George Galloway's complicity in the Oil-for-food scandal surfaced a few days ago, I'll confess that I paid less attention than the story deserved. Galloway long ago reached his nadir in my view, and it seemed impossible for him to sink any lower in my estimation no matter what he embezzled, so the story didn't seemed of little significance.

I have to say, however, the evidence looks pretty bad.

--Galloway personally solicited and was granted eight oil allocations totaling 23 million barrels from the Hussein government from 1999 through 2003;

--Galloway's wife, Dr. Amineh Abu-Zayyad, received approximately $150,000 in connection with one allocation of oil;

--Galloway's political campaign, the Mariam Appeal, received at least $446,000 in connection with several allocations granted under the Oil-for-Food Program;

--Illegal "surcharge" payments in excess of $1.6 million were paid to the Hussein regime in connection with the oil allocations granted to Galloway and the Mariam Appeal; and

--Galloway knowingly made false or misleading statements under oath before the Subcommittee at its hearing on May 17, 2005.

Here's more from Chris Hitchens:

For George Galloway, however, the war would seem to be over. The evidence presented suggests that he lied in court when he sued the Daily Telegraph in London over similar allegations (and collected money for that, too). It suggests that he lied to the Senate under oath. And it suggests that he made a deceptive statement in the register of interests held by members of the British House of Commons. All in all, a bad week for him, especially coming as it does on the heels of the U.N. report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, which appears to pin the convict's badge on senior members of the Assad despotism in Damascus, Galloway's default patron after he lost his main ally in Baghdad.

Yet this is the man who received wall-to-wall good press for insulting the Senate subcommittee in May, and who was later the subject of a fawning puff piece in the New York Times, and who was lionized by the anti-war movement when he came on a mendacious and demagogic tour of the country last month.

And then my favorite bit, which inspired this post's headline:

I wonder if any of those who furnished him a platform will now have the grace to admit that they were hosting a man who is not just a pimp for fascism but one of its prostitutes as well.

Yeah, but who cares? He may be a dictator-loving Stalinist felon, but at least he embarrassed Norm Coleman and that's the important thing, right?

(Hat tip: John Cole)

Freudian slip on GMA

On a note that's somewhat related to the previous two posts, did anyone else happen to catch this? I'm going to see if I can track down the video.

I had the local news on this morning when it cut over to Good Morning America at 7am. For the lead in to the latest news on Iraq, Charlie Gibson actually said "And now for the latest poll numbers on Vietnam... I mean Iraq." Diane Sawyer didn't even bat an eyelash.

Programming note

Last night I posted a cartoon on this site that didn't really belong where I placed it. It seems to have touched a nerve, and, since some of my regulars asked so "nicely," I have removed it.

The problem was not just that it offended some people, but that the cartoon itself detracted from my primary point about the lopsided, cock-eyed news coverage of recent major events in Iraq, and the almost ghoulish fascination with the magic number 2000.

I will share one personal anecdote before I leave the subject. On my way home last night, I passed what appeared to be a "2000 Party." I don't really know how else to describe it. I'm sure it was meant to be a candlelight vigil of some sort (there were indeed candles.) But there was also music, drinking, and anti-Bush signs and t-shirts. There was a big banner which read "NOT ONE MORE DEATH, NOT ONE MORE DOLLAR!" or some such, and lots of references to 2000 American dead.

Now granted, this was in Hoboken, so you know right off the bat that it's not necessarily typical or representative of... well, anybody, really, but the whole thing struck me as grossly inappropriate. To be fair, it probably morphed into something its organizers did not intend. I don't expect that any of the attendees were happy about losing 2000 brave men and women, but it was nonetheless obvious that they viewed this milestone as a shot in the arm to help further their anti-Bush agenda.

I didn't have my digital camera, alas, because some of the pictures would have made interesting posts. But later that night, when I saw the cartoon in question, I suppose it struck a chord. That doesn't necessarily mean that it belongs on this site, however. Sorry to those I've offended.

October 25, 2005

News from Iraq

Iraq's new constitution passed...   BUT...GRIM MILESTONE REACHED!!!

Welcome to today's news media.

One court. Two Ginsburgs?

Now that Harriet Miers is looking more and more like yesterday's garbage, David Bernstein has an interesting idea: reappoint Douglas Ginsburg.

I've always been a fan of Judge Ginsburg, and I thought he got a raw deal when he was forced to withdraw his name following an admission of past marijuana use. Those revelations seem almost quaint by today's standards, and I think there would be a certain justice in reappointing Ginsburg if Miers drops out of the picture.

Naturally, I would have assumed that Ginsburg would be a little long in the tooth by now, but he's still only 59! Hell, what was he when Reagan appointed him, like, twelve??

The pick should mollify conservatives by virtue of the fact that he was a former Reagan pick. He'd also be a good antidote for the experience-challenged Miers. He has the same resume he had in 1987, plus twenty years on the Court of Appeals.

I have to say, it's an interesting idea.


Is it just me, or does it seem like there's a new story like this one coming out of Britain every week or so? The current culprit is the hapless piggy bank. British banks are banning them because they offend Muslims.


The first bear of the season in Maryland was bagged by eight-year-old Sierra Stiles. Far out.

Ben Bernanke to head Fed

I confess that I didn't know much about the guy until yesterday, but based on his resume, he's clearly no Harriet Miers. I also noted that the stock market seemed to approve of the choice, so I take that as a positive sign. I also like the fact that he has a beard and wears Hawaiian shirts. Good pick, I'd say.

October 24, 2005


Cindy Sheehan is planning to crucify herself on the White House fence, or some damn thing, to protest the 2000th American death in Iraq. No, it hasn't happened yet, but it probably will soon, so the moonbats have been doing some advanced planning for their protests, vigils, self-immolations and tailgate suppers. These things don't just come together spontaneously at the last minute, you know.

You do have to wonder what's so inherently special about 2000, though. I mean, isn't the 1972nd (or whatever) death just as important? I thought Cindy Sheehan's whole shtick was based on the premise that all lives are equally sacred.

All well, perhaps it doesn't do to read too much rationality into it.

Meanwhile, William Arkin wonders if there could possibly be a more ineffective anti-war voice than Ms. Sheehan.

When Sheehan first arrived at Crawford, I was taken with her from-the-heart action and seeming political virginity. Then I read an interview Sheehan did with the Counterpunch newsletter and I cringed: 9/11 was America's fault, she says. Terrorists are the invention of the government. We gave Saddam the WMD he used against his own people. The military-industrial complex pushed us into war against Iraq. The administration is driven by "imperialism" and "greed."
It isn't just that her utterances are factually incorrect and simplistic, or that they betray unsophisticated views of the world. And I don't want to make the argument that Sheehan somehow is "unqualified" to engage in a complicated debate.
My problem with Mrs. Sheehan is that as a political voice, she is disempowering, and she has no solutions. In condemning the Bush administration, Sheehan seems utterly uninterested in either their thinking or the possibility that there were genuine and unpremeditated missteps that led us to where we are today. In short, she insists on characterizing the political battle over the Iraq war as merely a battle of good (her and her anti-war forces) versus evil (Bush).

I oppose the Miers nomination

Yeah, I know that's not exactly news, but N.Z. Bear is taking a survey of blogger opinions on the matter, so I'm responding with a trackback. The results (so far) are here.

Enforced fiscal sanity

Pete duPont wants to write budgetary discipline into the Constitution. I'm inclined to agree. In a way, isn't this kind of thing really what campaign finance reform and term limits were ultimately meant to address, albeit in a problematic sort of roundabout way? Why not simply address it head-on?

Psychics wanted...

...over at the Democratic Underground. If you have any precognitive gifts, you might want to drop them a line.

(Hat tip: Daily Blitz)

How long til Fitzmas?

And what kind of presents can we expect in our stockings? For what it's worth, John Dean doesn't expect much.

For my part, I would bet Euros to beignets that any indictments handed down will be of the conspiracy/perjury/obstruction variety. I do believe that special prosecutors feel pressure to "show results" in order to justify all the time and money put into the investigation, but if senior administration officials are stupid enough to walk into the "cover-up" trap, they deserve what they get. Sometimes I think nobody has learned anything from Watergate and Whitewater.

On the other hand, Fitzgerald may have learned something from Kenny Starr. Starr was able to pull out some indictments and convictions in the end, but the whole process destroyed his career. That could be a cautionary tale for Fitzy as he weighs whether to issue these nickel-and-dime indictments just for the purposes of "showing results."


So what does one do about squirrels? I've always liked them in the past, but now they're digging up my damn yard. The holes are bigger and more noticeable than one would think. At first I blamed them on Zora, our black lab, but then I busted one of the little bastards in the act. I send Zora out after them, but she just tries to play with them, and the squirrels are so unintimidated! Maybe it's time to see if I can find that Daisy BB gun down in the basement....

October 22, 2005

Fighting pork, by the numbers

The Club for Growth has been all over the recent heroic and quixotic efforts of a handful of senators to roll back a few pork projects for the benefit of Katrina victims.

By their count, there have been 13,997 pork projects in federal spending bills for FY 2005. The Senate has shown itself unwilling to repeal two (2) of them. That's 0.0142887762 percent.

It's enough to make one despair. Maybe it helps to be a "glass half full" kind of person.

A new two-fer at Turtle Bay

It's corruption and ineptitude! I don't think many people were surprised that Syria had a hand in the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and I guess we probably shouldn't be too surprised that the U.N. would try to whitewash the involvement of top-level Syrian government officials. Fortunately, they were as inept with their coverup as they are with everything else, so they got busted.

THE United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday.

The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council.

The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.
The final, edited version quoted a witness as saying that the plot to kill Mr Hariri was hatched by unnamed "senior Lebanese and Syrian officials". But the undoctored version named those officials as "Maher al-Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleyman and Jamal al-Sayyed".

The deleted names represent the inner core of the Syrian regime.
Mr Annan had pledged repeatedly through his chief spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, that he would not change a word of the report by Detlev Mehlis, a German prosecutor. But computer tracking showed that the final edit began at about 11.38am on Thursday -- a minute after Herr Mehlis began a meeting with Mr Annan to present his report. The names of Maher al-Assad, General Shawkat and the others were apparently removed at 11.55am, after the meeting ended.

At a press conference yesterday Herr Mehlis insisted that Mr Annan had not pressurised him into making changes. "No one outside of the report team influenced these changes and no changes whatsoever were suggested by the Secretary-General," he said.

The Jersusalem Post doesn't seem to be buying that last bit, however.

The last-minute alterations made to the Detlev Mehlis report on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri may have been made under pressure by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Israel Radio reported Friday afternoon.

A diplomatic source reported that Annan had an interest in removing the name of Syrian President Bashar Assad's brother and brother-in-law, along with other important Syrian officials, from the list of suspects in the Hariri killing. ...

Annan, according to speculations, was concerned that the harsh report could cause political instability in Syria, perhaps even leading to an overthrow of the Assad regime, and thus preferred a watered-down version of the report.

Par for the course for this bunch, I suppose. But it sure does make you wonder who they're trying to protect... and why.

(Hat top: Ace)

Here it is

It's the long-awaited George Will column on the Miers nomination. Damn, I didn't know they even made cans of Whoop-ass that big! It begins with...

Such is the perfect perversity of the nomination of Harriet Miers that it discredits, and even degrades, all who toil at justifying it. Many of their justifications cannot be dignified as arguments. Of those that can be, some reveal a deficit of constitutional understanding commensurate with that which it is, unfortunately, reasonable to impute to Miers. Other arguments betray a gross misunderstanding of conservatism on the part of persons masquerading as its defenders.

...and never really lets up.

October 21, 2005

Rescind Miers?

Damn! If I'd only trusted my gut and shorted Harriet Miers futures on TradeSports I'd be in the money already. I think people are finally realizing that the nomination is doomed.

National Review is calling for Republican Senate leaders to march to the White House, like Goldwater to Nixon, to tell the president that the jig's up.

I'm not sure I agree. Aside from the fact that it won't work, I'm not even convinced it's a good idea. It seems to me that much of the damage has already been done. Why not let her go down in flames, let the Democrats expend their ammo, and claim the scalp of a "non-qualified" candidate?

"We voted for Roberts," the Democrats will say, "But Ms. Miers simply does not have his qualifications." Bush can then nominate someone with a much stronger CV and deprive his opposition of that argument. If the Democrats go into attack mode again, Bush can claim (with some justification) that they are simply being obstructionist for obstruction's sake.

If Miers gets turboed by the Senate, both sides will feel an increased pressure to confirm the next nominee. On the other hand, if Miers' name is withdrawn, she will simply disappear and be forgotten. Everyone remembers Robert Bork, but who remembers Doug Ginsburg?

Congress gets one right

By a vote of 283 to 144, the House approved a bill to protect gunmakers from massive, crippling lawsuits... and I'm pretty happy about it. I'm typically skeptical of bills that target a specific industry, but our Second Amendment rights and the health of our national gun industry are important enough to justify this legitimate exercise of authority over interstate commerce.

The anti-gun lobby, long frustrated by its lack of legislative success, has been attempting an end-run around the legislative process, pushing its agenda the old-fashioned way -- by suing.

That's not good. Bear in mind that we're not talking about lawsuits for a defective product, one that (say) blows up in the hands of the user. Rather, we're talking about companies being sued for a producing a product that functions exactly as it was intended. Ridiculous.

October 20, 2005

My Senate heroes

If you haven't been keeping up with the Coburn Amendment, here it is in a nutshell. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma proposed repealing some of the more recent, egregious examples of congressional pork and using the savings to fund Katrina-related disaster relief.

I suppose it's little surprise that the measures were voted down 86 to 13, but I want to name names. The thirteen senators who have become my newest (and in some cases unlikely) heroes are:

Allen (R-VA)
Burr (R-NC)
Coburn (R-OK)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Feingold (D-WI)
Graham (R-SC)
Hagel (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
Sessions (R-AL)
Sununu (R-NH)
Talent (R-MO)

All the rest can go to hell. I mean it. Every damn one of them. I hope every single senator that's not on this list goes down to brutal defeat in the next election.

(I should point out that New Jersey's John Corzine did not vote.)

Time out for local politics

New Jersey's race for governor is now closer than anyone ever thought it would be at this stage in the game, and here's why.

When registered voters were asked what the "top priority of the next governor should be," 29% answered "property taxes," which beat out such perennial voter concerns as "education" (9%), "health care" (9%) and "jobs" (6%). It even beat out "corruption" (14%), which is saying something in the Louisiana of the Northeast. The heavily favored Mr. Corzine was ahead by 18 points a month ago. But now voters say, by 43%-39%, that Mr. Forrester is "more likely" than Mr. Corzine to reduce property taxes. So much for all those Beltway analysts who keep saying taxes have lost their power as a political issue.

Hardly a surprise there. I moved to New Jersey just last year, and it didn't take me long to become horrified by the obscene level of property taxes in the state. It's fun, you know. It seems that throughout my whole life I've been "blessed" to live in states with... "interesting" politics. I suppose Louisiana is next on my list.

Anyway, I have to admit that I find Doug Forrester to be an unappealing candidate overall, and I expect Senator Corzine will pull it out in the end. But for all the Corzine folks who are scratching their heads in honest puzzlement at the latest poll numbers, wonder no more.

For my part, I plan to vote for Pawlowski. He supports a right to carry concealed handguns and the decriminalization of marijuana. What's not to like?

October 19, 2005

Lost in translation?

I take it as a positive sign that the Simpsons will be heading to the Middle East (albeit with a beer-less and bacon-less Homer) but I have to wonder how successful it will be.

Culturally-bound humor is hard to translate. When I lived in Paris, I saw Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle in a small theater once. By the end of the movie, every French person in the building had walked out. The French normally like quirky, indie movies, but some things are just impossible to translate.

I remember one line in particular. It was after Winkie Dinkie Dog had his nervous breakdown and decided to diversify into the ho-cake business. "I'm gonna make ho-cakes!" he said, "cuz ho's gots to eat too!" This bit of ghetto wit was translated in the subtitles as something along the lines of "I shall make crêpes, because prostitutes must eat as well!"

You see the problem with this kind of thing. The audience was utterly mystified.

It makes you think, though. For example, did you ever stop to wonder whether Ingmar Bergmen's films were really so enigmatic and esoteric as we thought? I mean, what if they're actually completely pedestrian and transparent, but simply poorly translated from the Swedish? Maybe all the stuff we interpret as veiled commentary on life and death and God were actually discussions over how best to prepare lutefisk or something.


Is there some stricture in fundamentalist Islam against the teaching of basic physiology? I mean, I don't expect Imams to be MDs, but still, some things just make you scratch your head.

Take, for example, this question from "Ask the Imam" (emphasis mine.)

Q: Is it ok to masturbate wife. If she gets climax during masturbation does she hove to take a bath?

A: If the wife reaches orgasm and releases semen, then only is Ghusl compulsory upon her.

and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Merry Fitzmas!

You'll not catch me mouthing one of those bland, PC platitudes like "Happy Indictment Day." Just give me the plain old traditional "Merry Fitzmas," thank you very much.

So here's the recipe:

  1. An increasingly unpopular second-term president
  2. An opposition party that's almost pathological in its obsessive hatred of said president
  3. A growing aura around the White House comprising five years' accumulation of near-scandals and rumors of scandals
  4. An ambitious, tenacious prosecutor who's loath to come up empty

Sounds like the makings for a great holiday, right? Well maybe. But for all the lefties out there who are already popping the champagne corks, I have one bit of advice:

These things are neither as fun nor as satisfying as you think they're going to be. You should listen to me on this one.

October 18, 2005

No Confidence

Hopefully this post doesn't effect Barry's status as a "Blog for Bush", but I've now lost all confidence in this White House. Now that Harriet Miers has submitted her questionnaire, we learn that the White House considered her for the Supreme Court spot that went to the eminently more qualified John Roberts. After she smartly declined consideration the first time, they didn't ask if she was interested and just offered her the job this time around.

And if the Miers nomination troubles you, just wait. Chairman Alan Greenspan is leaving his post at the Fed after 18 years and this White House gets to choose his replacement. This is the one post where an unqualified crony really could do some lasting damage.

I can't wait to see who gets the nod. I mean, setting Federal Reserve policy really isn't all that different than running FEMA or sitting as a justice on the Supreme Court, right?

Illegals out

People who are in this country illegally should be removed. So says Michael Chertoff.

In a sane world, it's hard to imagine that such a straightforward sentiment could possibly engender much controversy.

Something tells me it will, however.

Why it's hard to trust the MSM

From watching the news channels Saturday morning, it would be easy to conclude that all of New Jersey was under seven feet of water. (By the way, check out this priceless clip if you haven't already.)

My wife and I were watching from Newark airport, minutes before our plane was to take off from a perfectly dry tarmac. Granted, after eight straight days of rain, we were sodden, but not flooded. In fact, no one I know was flooded.

I'm quite certain there were indeed instances of flooding in some parts of the state, but there is also an undeniable attempt on the part of the MSM to sensationalize rather than report accurately. It's just like the whole "New Orleans has descended into barbarism!!!" phenomenon. Christ, wasn't the situation bad enough without having to embellish it with tales of rampant rapes and wanton cannibalism?

It's no wonder that so few people trust mainstream news sources these days. But what I find interesting is how many people I know believe that our news media serves us nothing but sunshine and rosy scenarios. On the contrary, the news media endeavors to portray everything as as big a disaster as possible.

Dramatic content gets ratings, so I guess they're giving us what we want. Then after an hour of "news" about widespread baby-raping and corpse-eating, and info-babes paddling by in ankle-deep water, we'll be treated to an exposé about how drinking coffee from a styrofoam cup can kill you, or some damn thing. Welcome to television news in the 21st century.

October 14, 2005

Still here

Well, our flight was rained out. I looked at the satellite map today just to get an idea of what kind of flight we'd have. The whole country looked clear as a bell, except for one tiny green splotch right over New York. What's up with that? Has the green splotch sat perfectly still for 8 days? Has it been shrinking? How can this be? How can it rain for so long in one place and nowhere else.

Anyway, I guess we'll be leaving in the morning.

I guess.

I'm off!

If the rain lets up long enough for the plane to take off, I'll be flying to Alabama for the weekend. That means there probably won't be much blogging here until early next week. Take care and stay dry.

UPDATE: No, my trip has nothing to do with approaching Roy Moore about a Supreme Court opening. I'm going here.

More inanity at the Beeb

You thought they were just biased? How about scientifically illiterate as well?

Shenzhou VI is in a low enough orbit to be affected by the Earth's gravitational pull.

(HT: Derb)

October 13, 2005

Why bother with elections?

Some gay people are offended that Brian Ellner, the openly gay candidate for Manhattan borough president, is supporting Bloomberg for mayor. That makes him a "sellout," apparently. Why? Good question. I mean, it's not like he's going to work for Rick Santorum or something. Bloomberg's record on gay rights is solid. I guess the simple fact that he has the hated "(R)" after his name is enough to make him anathema to some gay activists.

This kind of thing pisses me off.

I'm reminded of a recent debate I had with two friends. Friend One opened the debate with, "Shame on X for being a gay conservative." Let's set aside the fact that it's far from established that X actually is gay -- so far as I know, this is unsubstantiated rumor perpetuated by those who do not wish him well. (In fact, I'm not fully convinced that X is even a conservative, but that's another issue.)

I find this kind of thinking patently offensive -- namely, that one's race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or some other accident of birth should determine one's political philosophy, and that if you depart from that orthodoxy, you're somehow a "sellout" to your team.

Why can't (or why shouldn't) a gay person be conservative? Also, why is it that these questions are only asked about conservatives? Why does no one ever accost Jon Corzine or Jay Rockefeller with, "Shame on you for being a rich white liberal?"

Well, because it would be stupid, that's why. But no stupider than criticizing (say) Condi Rice or Clarence Thomas or X for being on the "wrong" team.

To my surprise, Friend Two (who is eminently more reasonable than Friend One) pretty much bought into the whole premise that X was somehow shameful.

"What's wrong with being a gay conservative?" I asked.

He replied that he thought of it as kind of a converse to the old Groucho Marx maxim about not wanting to join any club that would have him as a member.

Well, I suppose one could make that argument about Republicanism. But conservatism is not a club. It's something you are, based on what you believe about the proper functioning of government.

What would you call a gay person who, say, supports a flat tax? Or wants to cut federal spending? Or wants to wage an aggressive war against a form of religious extremism that would stone him if it had its way? Or wants to privatize Social Security? Nominate originalist judges? Defend private gun ownership?

Such people exist, let me assure you. You can't really call them liberals, either. And it would be unfair to ask them to change their political opinions just because they're not "appropriate" for someone of their sexual persuasion. So what should they do? Refer to themselves as independents, even though their thoughts and beliefs overlap almost entirely with conventional conservatism? What would be the point in that? I don't mean to claim that such people are typical of homosexuals -- they may even be in a minority -- but I know for a fact that they exist because I count a number of them among my friends.

There's no such thing as complete ideological purity. If a gay person can't be (or shouldn't be) a conservative, am I likewise disqualified from conservatism for supporting gay rights? Or abortion rights? Or being an agnostic? All of those all seem like pretty big ticket items, and yet those who know me well politically know it would be absurd to try to pretend that I'm not a conservative.

If we really want to believe that demographic considerations such as race and sexual orientation should determine ideology or party affiliation, then why bother to have elections at all? Let's save all the time and money and just elect people based on census data.

If you're gay, or a minority or a woman, or non-rich, your vote will be counted for the Democratic ticket. I guess that would leave the infamous "richest two percent" of the country for the Republicans. But as I pointed out earlier, rich white people somehow seem to be exempt from the expectations that demographics determine ideology. So since rich white people are allowed to be liberals without fear of criticism or censure, let's split their vote 50-50 between the two parties.

There, that was easy. Now all future elections will be decided for the Democrats by 99 to 1.

Now does the agenda of these people become clear?

Listen, here's my advice. If anyone ever tells you you should vote a certain way
because of your race, your ethnicity, your income level or your sex or your sexual orientation, tell them to take a flying you-know-what at a rolling donut. That's not what America's about. In the end, these people simply frustrated, bitter and pissed off because a majority of voters had the audacity and temerity not to vote how exactly how they wanted them to.

Well too damn bad.

Cool, part two!

Wow, my brother-in-law has been nominated for a National Book Award! In the interest of safeguarding some shred of my wife's secret identity, I won't reveal which nominee he is, but we're all wishing him the best. Congrats, bro-in-law!


On my way into work this morning, I saw a dead snake and a dead bat! The snake looked like he'd been run over about a hundred times.

I didn't take a picture of the bat. It was too gross.

October 12, 2005

Okay, now I believe him

I believe Gore when he says he has no intention of running for president again. Someone who had presidential aspirations would not say crap like this:

When asked how the United States would have been different if he had become president, though, he had harsh criticism for Bush's policies.

"We would not have invaded a country that didn't attack us," he said, referring to Iraq. "We would not have taken money from the working families and given it to the most wealthy families."

"We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media. We would not be routinely torturing people," Gore said. "We would be a different country."

To think I actually voted for this guy in the 1988 primaries.

Stuff like this just pisses me off

Think for a few moments about how many times in your life you've cared enough about something to start a petition. Not many, right? Maybe even zero?

Suppose you had to start one today. With all the grief and turmoil and strife in the world, what issue would you choose to take on? It's hard to know where to begin, isn't it?

I know I should just ignore this, but I find it both infuriating and depressing that no less than 503 idiots (at present) think it's a high priority to ban the sale of Napoleon Dynamite talking pens.

Why? Choking hazard? Lead-based ink? Guess again. According to this story, it's because one of the phrases in the pen's repertoire is "You guys are retarded."

The Wethersfield mother of three, who has a 3-year-old with Down syndrome, recently learned about pens from the popular film "Napoleon Dynamite," which has a recording that says, "You guys are retarded."

"There's a lot of kids starting school [for the first time]; there's enough pressure out there [to fit in]... .kids don't need to be challenged like this," Hart said.

Groups all over the country have been pressuring the makers of the pen to cease production. For her part, she contacted all the schools in town, and she heard back from three already, saying that they would confiscate the pens from children if they were seen with one. Hart notes that the pens violate a zero tolerance policy on student harassment.

Now I know that a talking pen doesn't amount to much in the overall scheme of things, but it's not really about the damned pen. It's about how many people in this country have such repulsive, totalitarian tendencies as to try to ban everything they fine personally distasteful.

I wish I could see the names on the petition. One can always hope that about 490 or so of the 500 belong to "Hugh G. Rection" or the like. That would make me feel a bit better.

(HT: Radley)

Memo to the president

Mr. President, your party is now in open revolt. It's time to end this fiasco.

October 10, 2005

The Socialized Medicine debate

It seems that lately I've been drawn with increasing frequency into discussions about a national health plan, and there's one aspect common to all of these discussions that troubles me.

Now I know that national health care in Finland or France is not remotely the same as in the old Soviet Union, and I know that advocates of a national plan can muster many strong arguments in its favor. But please, let's at least agree to retire one very common argument. Let's purge from the debate this notion that nationalized medicine "can't be any worse" than what we've already got. It can.

Still conferencing...

...but this is worth a link.

Programming note

I'm going to spending the next three days at a conference (gag), so expect blogging to be light to non-existent during this time.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of a fine beer from Maine that I recently sampled. Note the attractive, psychedelic label. It's called "420 IPA." Supposedly, the name derives from the fact that they tried 419 other batches before finally getting it right.

I'm skeptical.

October 08, 2005

Questioning the conventional wisdom

The conventional wisdom seems to hold that Harriet Miers, although a widely unpopular SCOTUS choice, is a likely shoo-in for confirmation. It's not just Harry Reid anymore -- other Senate Democrats are rushing to Harriet Miers' defense.

After all, the Miers nomination is an absolute disaster for the Bush White House -- so how could a disaster for Bush not be embraced by the Democrats?

But I'm not at all sure the conventional wisdom is correct on this one. Granted, Democrats are enjoying the spectacle of conservatives attacking the White House and, for the moment, are content to stand out of the way while their enemies duke it out amongst themselves. But when the confirmation hearings actually begin, I predict you'll see a much different story.

As I have said before, I am far from convinced that Ms. Miers will ever be the kind of justice I wanted from Bush, but I am perfectly willing to believe that she's pro-life. Consequently, if Miers is seated on the Court, there is a very real possibility that she could provide the crucial swing vote to overturn Roe v. Wade in some future decision. Should that come to pass, and should abortion become instantly outlawed in Kansas and Mississippi and wherever, will Democratic Senators really want to go home and face their electorates and explain to them why they voted to confirm Miers? Honestly, I find it hard to believe that Senate Democrats can afford to confirm her. I predict they'll milk it to embarrass the White House as much as they can, but ultimately, I think they will have little choice but to oppose her.

That is my fervent hope, in any case. It would be grossly out of character for Bush to rescind the nomination himself, so if Miers is to be stopped, she must be stopped by the Senate. This will not happen without substantial Democratic opposition. I'm predicting it will materialize when the time comes. Let's hope so.


This may be the most troublesome thing I've read yet regarding the Miers nomination. It's from yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

At issue is a case Miers argued on Bush's behalf in 2000, regarding an obscure provision in the 12th Amendment that was a potential sticking point for the Bush-Cheney ticket in Texas. From the WSJ piece:

Her legal team succesfully persuaded a judge to take what her brief described as a "broad and inclusive" reading of the Constitution....

Mr. Aufhauser, Ms. Miers's co-counsel, suggested that whatever the 12th Amendment might have meant in 1804, the provision's meaning had, in effect, evolved with modern society. "Differences between the year 1800 and 2000 is more than two centuries, it's light years," said Mr. Aufhauser, noting the "rapidity with which each of us have changed addresses from schools and college to various marriages and jobs."

What the hell? I mean seriously, what the hell?! Isn't this exactly the kind of jurisprudence Bush promised to protect us from? Clues as to Miers' Constitutional philosophy are few and far between, and the ones that do exist are not encouraging, to say the least.

Admittedly this is but a single case, but in the absence of supporting evidence, it makes it damned hard for the White House to portray her as some kind of originalist or strict constructionist.

What then, does this whole "wink, wink, just trust me" message mean? That Miers is conservative? Pro-life? I'm perfectly willing to believe that Ms. Miers is politically conservative in her views, but what kind of justice will she make? There is enough reason to cause me to worry that she could emerge as a judicial activist on the Right, practicing exactly the sort of jurisprudence that our side typically disdains.

October 07, 2005

Gay priests?

We recently heard much criticism of the Vatican's reported decision to ban homosexual-oriented priests, even if celibate. It's actually a topic I had intended to write about, but procrastinated until it was no longer topical.

I guess it's just as well. It turns out the initial reports were wrong. I wonder if apologies and retractions will be forthcoming?

Angry (liberal) e-mail

Some people bust my chops in the comments section, but for some reason the people who really want to chew me out prefer e-mail. Lately, these have been more conservative readers, who are taking me to task over Tom DeLay or Harriet Miers or whatever.

Today, however, I have about a half-dozen liberals who are appalled by my glib response to Bush's "conversations" with the Almighty.

Look, it's very simple. I'm just not buying the story. So far, the only source we have for this farfetched narrative is Palestinian officials via the BBC. In addition, we have a White House denial.

You can believe the story if you want to, of course. But kindly stop trying to convince me that you "don't want to" believe it, that you wish you were dreaming, etc. Of course you want to believe it. Based on what we know now, it takes force of will to swallow this one.

UPDATE: Now the BBC itself is backing away from the story. I wonder whether retractions will be forthcoming?

I stoppped taking the Nobel Peace Prize seriously long ago

Which is a good thing, because now I don't have to be offended by this.

Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency that he heads won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei, a 63-year-old lawyer from Egypt, has led the U.N. nuclear agency as it grappled with the crisis in Iraq and the ongoing efforts to prevent North Korea and Iran from acquiring nuclear arms.

It's not just me

Charles Krauthammer is also calling on Bush to withdraw Miers' nomination.

As long as God is talking to the president...

...I wish He would tell him to rescind the Miers nomination.

Subway threat here in New York

Mayor Bloomberg has announced that the city is on heightened alert after receiving a credible, specific threat against the subway system. I guess that could mean either that Karl Rove is about to be indicted, or that, well, there was a threat against the subway system. Depending on your worldview, of course.

October 06, 2005

Playing "Hide the Salami" with Howard Dean

Heh, how did I miss this? An alert reader pointed out in the CN comments section that the DNC chairman cautioned the White House not to play "hide the salami" with Harriet Miers. (There's probably little risk there, Howie.)

DEAN: Well, certainly the president can claim executive privilege. But in the this case, I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called.

Chairman Dean. The gift that keeps on giving.

Every now and then you win one

It looks like this stupid bill has been dropped.

(Hat tip: Jill)

It's not too late

Add Peggy Noonan to the growing list of conservative voices in opposition to the Miers nomination.

It's not too late to rescind the nomination. Anyone remember Douglas Ginsburg? And all he did was smoke a little weed.

Roberts jumps right in

Newly minted Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is jumping straight into the deep end. The high court is hearing a case in which the White House is challenging Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law.

On what grounds, you ask? Well, the Justice Department contends that Oregon's law violates the federal Controlled Substances Act.

A question: Can anyone possibly believe that these federal drug war laws have yielded enough benefits to justify the violence they've wreaked on federalism and genuine civil liberties?

The outcome of the final decision is unclear, but I have to say I'm glad O'Connor's still on the bench for this one. She seems very skeptical of the government's argument here.

Grand jury leaks

Illegal, schmillegal! We love grand jury leaks in this country! Well here's one that seems to reinforce the notion that Ronnie Earle's indictments of DeLay may well have more to do with a political vendetta than the pursuit of justice. Here's another.

Celebrity sex tapes

Heh, that should get me some Google hits. Anyway, I guess we'll soon be treated to visions of a knocked-up Britney Spears getting porked six ways from Sunday by Kevin Federline.

So what is it with these tapes, anyway? How many people

a) Videotape their own sexual exploits, and

b) Have those tapes stolen and distributed over the Internet?

Seriously, what are the odds? And yet it seems to be a routine occurence in the celebrity world. The mind boggles.

Inidictments and rumors of indictments

I keep hearing rumors that a whole mess of indictments are about to come down for Plamegate.

So there was a spy in the White House

I hope he didn't see the big board.

October 05, 2005


Thanks to Hubris for the best laugh I've had ever since this miserable nomination was announced.


Senator John Corzine just called me.

Okay, I think it was pre-recorded.

I hung up on him.

When sloppy journalism kills

When the MSM devolves into irresponsible and downright hysterical rumor-mongering, it's more than just bad journalism. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the dire and breathless reports coming from New Orleans likely slowed and hampered relief efforts. Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecies....

Five weeks after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans, some local, state and federal officials have come to believe that exaggerations of mayhem by officials and rumors repeated uncritically in the news media helped slow the response to the disaster and tarnish the image of many of its victims.

Claims of widespread looting, gunfire directed at helicopters and rescuers, homicides, and rapes, including those of "babies" at the Louisiana Superdome, frequently turned out to be overblown, if not completely untrue, officials now say.

The sensational accounts delayed rescue and evacuation efforts already hampered by poor planning and a lack of coordination among local, state and federal agencies. People rushing to the Gulf Coast to fly rescue helicopters or to distribute food, water and other aid steeled themselves for battle. In communities near and far, the seeds were planted that the victims of Katrina should be kept away, or at least handled with extreme caution.

Unauthorized reproduction?

When I first saw this story linked on Jeff's site, I figured an "Unauthorized Reproduction" bill was probably some intellectual property BS designed to keep people from copying DVDs.

I wish I'd been right.

So is this why Miers was picked?

David Frum:

In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met.


Uh, Mr. President? Might I have a word?

Listen, you didn't hear this from me, but I overhead Janice Rogers Brown talking about you? And she is totally into you, man! She says that you're not only some kind of super-genius, but that you look like some kind of Greek god or something! "Adonis," I believe she said.

Interestinger and interestinger

On the heels of George Will's withering Op-Ed, Senator Sam Brownback is dropping broad hints that might lead conservative opposition to Harriet Miers in the Senate. Perhaps the conservative anti-Miers coalition is beginning to coalesce.

Miers, pro and con

I know everyone else is linking to this, but I'm going to do it again anyway, just because it's so on target.

Senators beginning what ought to be a protracted and exacting scrutiny of Harriet Miers should be guided by three rules. First, it is not important that she be confirmed. Second, it might be very important that she not be. Third, the presumption -- perhaps rebuttable but certainly in need of rebutting -- should be that her nomination is not a defensible exercise of presidential discretion to which senatorial deference is due.

It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks. The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers's name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.

In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to ensure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance that he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, "I agree." Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, "I do."

If George Will is this scathing in his assessment of the Miers nomination, dare I begin to hope that there is at least a chance of blocking it?

Meanwhile, in the pro-Miers camp, John Cornyn is guilty of what I like to call the "Hatch fallacy."

The smoking gun

All right, if I had any lingering doubt that Harriet Miers is the worst Supreme Court pick since Abe Fortas, that doubt has now officially been laid to rest:

Bush Supreme Court Nominee Former Microsoft Lawyer

October 04, 2005

What's your take?

What do you thnk about the Miers nomination?
Really sux
Seriously, is anyone other than Harry Reid actually happy with this pick?

Kelo chickens coming home to roost

Via Ace comes this tidbit about plans to relocate some 6,000 Florida residents to make way for a yacht club.

Well, so much for the New York Times' reassurances that the Kelo decision represented no significant departure from business as usual.

I can think of no better story to underscore the importance of selecting the right nominees for the High Court. I only wish our president attached as much importance to it as the rest of us do.

The religion of race

Let's go ahead and call a spade a spade. You know what crime Bill Bennett stands accused of in the court of public opinion? I'll tell you: heresy.

For many people these days, the whole issue of race is, simply put, a religion, and that's exactly why I hesitated to weigh in on the whole Bennett brouhaha at all.

Many of this religion's adherents are secular folks. Were you to ask them, they would very likely deny having any religious beliefs whatsoever. But that's untrue. They're as devout in their secular religion as any evangelical Christian you're likely to meet.

Moreover, many of these secular religionists are fundamentalists. They cling to certain beliefs about race as an article of faith. They cannot abide having the basic tenets of said faith even questioned. Facts and data that appear to conflict with said tenets of faith are summarily dismissed, and the person who pointed out said facts are anathematized. To me, that's fundamentalism.

And while our society has matured to a point where we can tolerate criticisms of conventional Western religions, woe betide those who blaspheme against the gods of race, for the gods in this pantheon are zero-tolerance deities.

For my part, my training as a scientist has convinced me that the whole concept of "race" in general is little more than a persistent illusion, with little or no basis in genetics for such an arbitrary classification. Consequently, I do not believe that belonging to a certain race predisposes one to (for example) commit more crimes than someone who belongs to a different racial group.

So in that sense, I'm on the side of Bennett's critics. Nevertheless, I find it disturbing that we are still incapable of having a frank, honest dialog about such topics. I find it disturbing that any comment involving race, even a hypothetical debating point, must be made with all the proper obeisance and genuflections toward the race gods, or else the commenter risks being subject to the Secular Inquisition.

Apparently, I'm not alone. Washington Post's Richard Cohen weighs in with similar themes, and wonders why his political party is no longer the party of Free Speech.

[Democrats] abandoned their party's tradition -- I would say "obligation" -- of defending unpopular speech by piling on William Bennett, the former education secretary, best-selling author and now, inevitably, talk show host.

Responding to a caller who argued that if abortion were outlawed the Social Security trust fund would benefit -- more people, more contributions, was the apparent (idiotic) reasoning -- Bennett said, sure, he understood what the fellow was saying. It was similar to the theory that the low crime rate of recent years was the consequence of high abortion rates: the fewer African American males born, the fewer crimes committed. (Young black males commit a disproportionate share of crime.) This theory has been around for some time. Bennett was not referring to anything new.

But he did add something very important: If implemented, the idea would be "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do."

He should have saved his breath. Prominent Democrats -- Harry Reid in the Senate, John Conyers and Rahm Emanuel in the House and, of course, Pelosi -- jumped all over him. Conyers wanted Bennett suspended from his radio show. Emanuel said Bennett's comments "reflect a spirit of hate and division." Pelosi said Bennett was out of the mainstream, and Reid simply asked for an apology.

Actually, it is Reid and the others who should apologize to Bennett. They were condemning and attempting to silence a public intellectual for a reference to a theory. It was not a proposal and not a recommendation -- nothing more than a possible explanation. But the Democrats preferred to pander to an audience that either had heard Bennett's remarks out of context, or merely thought that any time conservatives talk about race, they are being racist. The Democrats' obligation as politicians, as public officials, to see that we all hear the widest and richest diversity of views was suspended in favor of partisan cheap shots. (The spineless White House also refused to defend Bennett.) Because I came of age in the McCarthy era, I have always thought of the Democratic Party as more protective of free speech and unpopular thought than the Republican Party. The GOP was the party of Joe McCarthy, William Jenner and other witch-hunters. Now, though, it is the Democrats who use the pieties of race, ethnicity and gender to stifle debate and smother thought, pretty much what anti-intellectual intellectuals did to Larry Summers, the president of Harvard University, when he had the effrontery to ask some unorthodox questions about gender and mathematical aptitude. He was quickly instructed on how to think.

Well said.

New DeLay charges

By now you've no doubt heard that there new indictments against DeLay are forthcoming, including money laundering. I'm not a lawyer, but this to me seems more serious than those vague "conspiracy" charges we were talking about last week.

Meanwhile, I apologize for the light blogging. I'm still trying to claw my way out of the stunned stupefaction the Miers appointment threw me into.

October 03, 2005

When do the bars open?

Well, I think I can safely put the tin foil hat away now. If Harriet Miers really did have connections to some homophobic fundamentalist evangelical group, the lefty blogs would have certainly uncovered it by now. I mean, it's lunchtime already! Instead, all I see over at Kos is unrestrained glee. Meanwhile, over at The Corner, I'm hearing stuff like this.

Just talked to a very pro-Bush legal type who says he is ashamed and embarrassed this morning. Says Miers was with an undistinguished law firm; never practiced constitutional law; never argued any big cases; never was on law review; has never written on any of the important legal issues. Says she's not even second rate, but is third rate. Dozens and dozens of women would have been better qualified. Says a crony at FEMA is one thing, but on the high court is something else entirely. Her long history of activity with ABA is not encouraging from a conservative perspective--few conservatives would spend their time that way. In short, he says the pick is "deplorable." There may be an element of venting here, but thought I'd pass along for what it's worth. It's certainly indicative of the mood right now...

Now maybe Bush knows what he's doing. Maybe she's a more saleable Robert Bork in a dress, and this is the shrewdest political move of his career. Until I have reason to believe that, however, I'm going to operate under the assumption that the simpler explanation is correct -- Bush screwed up.

In other words, I'm going to my friendly neighborhood watering hole and getting hammered. Page me if something happens.

Let's see, where's my tin foil hat?

A Republican friend of mine tried to cheer me up this morning after the Miers nomination put me into a bit of a funk. He's convinced that it's a brilliant move by Bush/Rove and that I shouldn't be alarmed.

The theory goes like this. The Democrats have already psyched themselves up to go to the mat in opposing the next nominee, no matter who it may be, to placate their base. Enter Ms. Miers, a charming, inoffensive, grandmotherly type. The Senate will filibuster her and look like cretins and bullies, and moderates and independents will recoil. After the Miers nomination fails, Bush will then appoint Luttig or Brown and a chastened Senate will confirm.

At first I didn't buy the sacrificial lamb theory. I thought it was giving Bush/Rove way too much credit, and that what we're seeing was plain old Texas cronyism, pure and simple. I didn't see how the Democrats could sustain a filibuster of Miers. The Republicans would only need to peel off 5 Democratic senators (or four plus that idiot from Vermont) to force a vote. Unless, of course, there was something about Miers that we didn't know....


Now I'm dusting off my tin-foil hat. From the comments section of The Volokh Conspiracy, I see what may be the smoking gun.

Ms. Miers has evidently done some work in the past for something called "Exodus Ministries." Now is that this group? If so, it's a group dedicated to "minister[ing] the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ to those affected by homosexuality."

Perhaps this is the wrong group. But if not, I'm beginning to think my friend is right, and the White House may be following the advice I espoused here at the beginning of July.

If Miers really is connected to this group, she'll be easy filibuster bait, losing even some Republican votes. Moreover, Ted Kennedy will suffer a massive coronary, and Mitt Romney will replace him with a Republican while Teddy recovers, making the subsequent confirmation Janice Rogers Brown that much easier. (Okay, that Ted Kennedy remark wasn't nice. Sorry.)

Could it be true? Do I believe it? Do I even want to believe it? My gut tells me the nomination is more a product of ineptitude than evil genius, but... who knows?

This time the trial balloon was accurate

Bush has picked Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. Granted, I had a soft spot for Janice Rogers Brown, but the truth is I'd settle for anybody who doesn't believe the Commerce Clause is a license for the federal government to do whatever it wants.

Does that include Miers? Who knows? Who knows anything about her, really, other than the fact that she's a sixty-year-old Bush crony who's never been a judge.

I'd like to think Bush knows something we don't, but my gut feeling here is that Bush has given the Democrats exactly what they wanted -- another Sandra Day O'Connor.

Oh look!

It's another Hollywood idiot whining about Bush. I'll give Donald Sutherland a B+ for hyperbole (Bush will "destroy our lives," "We're back to burning books in Germany!"), a C for crying, and an F for originality.

...but before I go any further... is there any reason I should give a rat's ass what Donald Sutherland thinks about anything?

No, I thought not.

Why HRC voted against Roberts

Check out this recent straw poll over at Daily Kos. This might be a reason why we say Senator Clinton vote against confirming Chief Justice Roberts. Hillary comes out a distant fifth, after Dean, Clark, Edwards, and Feingold(!).

Granted, this poll only reflects the readership of Daily Kos, but that's pretty much Hillary's base. She may well need to take the center to win in the general election, but without her base she'll never even make it out of the primaries.

Hillary has to be alarmed that she fared so abysmally in this straw poll. I think she realizes the she's taken her base for granted in her recent lurch to the right. Triangulation, done properly, is a delicate balancing act, as yesterday's New York Times magazine points out. Look for Mrs. Clinton to tack back to the port side in days to come.

Who needs first class anyway?

My wife and I were driving around yesterday and I was playing a John Fogerty CD. After hearing the song "Centerfield," Mrs. Cynical confessed that it was the first time she'd ever understood the lyrics. She's always heard "Put me in, coach!" as "Put me in coach." As in "No thank you, Mrs. Flight Attendant. There's no need to upgrade me to first class. I'm perfectly happy to be seated in economy."

So is this a boy/girl thing? A red state/blue state thing? What?

Some facts on Bush, race and NOLA

Unlike Deroy Murdock, I found Charlie Rangel's stupid and offensive description of President Bush as "our Bull Connor" to be completely unworthy of a response.

Nevertheless, Murdock does point out some useful data to bear in mind the next time someone spouts off with this Kanye West nonsense about Bush, race and New Orleans.

While Bush has taken responsibility for Washington's disjointed first response to Katrina - notwithstanding the 33,544 hurricane survivors who Coast Guard helicopter and boat crews started saving as soon as winds dropped below 45 MPH - he need not apologize for neglecting the Big Easy's poor before these hurricanes.

Using the Consolidated Federal Funds Report's latest data, Johnson found that, "Across all federal programs, Orleans Parish received $12,645 per capita in fiscal year 2003. At the same time, the national average was $7,089 per capita. Put another way, New Orleans received 78.4 percent more funding per person than the national average."

Johnson also examined 21 low-income-assistance programs. Among them, inflation-adjusted federal poverty spending in Orleans Parish equaled $5,899 per-poor-person in Bill Clinton's final, full-fiscal-year 2000 budget. By fiscal 2003, such outlays soared to $10,222. Under Bush, federal anti-poverty spending per-poor-New Orleanian ballooned 73.3 percent, or an average, annual hike of 24.4 percent over three years!

Johnson discovered, for instance, that spending on immunization grants dropped 80.51 percent, and supportive housing for the elderly fell 25.6 percent during Bush's first three years. However, child support enforcement grew 8.3 percent. Head Start rose 13.8 percent. Food Stamps increased 43.1 percent. Pell Grants advanced 126 percent. Community Health Center funding accelerated 163.6 percent, and so on.

In 1999, under Clinton, Orleans Parish had 135,429 poor people and a 27.9 percent poverty rate. In 2004, under Bush, 102,636 New Orleanians were poor, while the poverty rate eased to 23.2 percent. So, pre-Katrina, the Big Easy's poverty rate slid 16.8 percent during Bush's tenure.

October 02, 2005


They might as well sell Superglue in smaller, disposable containers -- something like a ketchup packet. Because once you've screwed the top back on, you'll never get the sonofabitch back off again later.

Things you only see in Hoboken

All right, maybe I'm just turning crotchety in my old age, but here's the way I see it. If you're a college student and you want to wear a Che Guevara t-shirt, fine. If you're out of college, but still haven't matured past your college days and you want to wear a Che Guevara t-shirt, fine.

But to put one on your 18-month-old? In a stroller? I mean, is it just me, or is that a bit weird?