Monday, October 31, 2005

Chavez Status Check

Hugo Chavez urges Venezuelans to forgo the "gringa" holiday (otherwise known as Halloween):
"Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches," Chavez said. "That is contrary to our ways." . . . [H]e urged parents to think about whether it was appropriate to dress up their children as part of a foreign custom, calling it "the game of terror." He said that is part of the U.S. culture -- "terrorism, putting fear into other nations, putting fear into their own people."
Chavez Status

Also noticing this Tom-Foolery are Ape-Snake, Cannuckistan, and A North American Patriot.

Previous Status Checks: 10:30am/10.22.05; 7:19pm/08.30.05; 1:46pm/08.28.05 and 10:00am/08.24.05.

Alito Nomination Poll

Hewitt is asking whether folks approve of the Alito nomination and, if so, whether they are prepared to invoke the constitutional option in the event of a filibuster. Register your view.

Soccer Fatwa

Today's Guardian translates an interesting Saudi fatwa on soccer -- interesting in the how-can-anyone-be-so-daft sense. No, this is not a joke, although it would make a mighty fine one:
1. International terminology that heretics use, such as "foul," "penalty", "corner," "goal", "out" and others, should be abandoned and not said. Whoever says them should be punished and ejected from the game.

2. Do not call "foul" and stop the game if someone falls and sprains a hand or foot or the ball touches his hand, and do not give a yellow or red card to whoever was responsible for the injury or tackle. Instead, it should be adjudicated according to Sharia rulings concerning broken bones and injuries.

* * *
6. Do not play in two halves. Rather, play in one half or three halves in order to completely differentiate yourselves from the heretics, the corrupted and the disobedient.

7. If neither of you beats the other, or "wins", as it is called, and neither puts the leather between the posts, do not add extra time or penalties. Instead leave the field, because winning with extra time and penalty kicks is the pinnacle of imitating heretics and international rules.

* * *
9. You should spit in the face of whoever puts the ball between the posts or uprights and then runs in order to get his friends to follow him and hug him like players in America or France do, and you should punish him, for what is the relationship between celebrating, hugging and kissing and the sports that you are practising?

* * *
11. Do not do what is called "substitution," that is, taking the place of someone who has fallen, because this is a practice of the heretics in America and elsewhere.
I'm surprised the mullahs do not mandate use of a cube instead of a ball, the spherical shape being an oppressive symbol of cultural domination employed by heretics to depict the world they work to enslave.

Justice Alito

A very strong pick. As an added bonus, we learn from Harry Reid that Alito "is not one of the names that I've suggested to the president. In fact, I've done the opposite. I think it would create a lot of problems." (via K-Lo). Far from mortal terror over the Problems promised for this nomination, I am downright giddy with delight and anticipation. The reason we want this battle is simple: we have the better of the argument.

Jonah gets the last word for now:
In Washington, conservatives and liberals are quietly loading up on drinking water, D batteries and extra ammo, in preparation for the coming battle over judges. Ralph Neas himself has been seen by the campfire carving notches into the stock of his rifle, muttering, 'Pain don't hurt.' No one knows when the fight's coming, but everyone knows it is.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sailing with the Wind

Judging from the growing angst on the port side of the blogosphere, we're finally back on an even keel and heading in the right direction. From Tennessee Guerilla Women:
The Chicago Tribune reports that Bush has narrowed the list of potential Supreme Court nominees to two. Apparently, the White House cabal is so anxious for us to forget all about that inconvenient little indictment thingy, that they may actually announce Miers' replacement today.

I didn't think fundamentalists worked on Sundays, but what do I know?
The rumored two, of course, are Samuel Alito (3d Circuit) and Michael Luttig (4th Circuit). It seems that money most likes Alito's prospects thus far today. Recall, though, the Clement fake.

As for Luttig, Psychopolitik spits:
No doubt that Luttig would be acceptable to [Bush's] crew. He’s an authority loving jackass always willing to ignore the Constitution when it suits the whims of Bushophiles, they’re gonna love him like monkeys love bananas
On Alito, DCDL, which, happily, is on Judicial Armegedon [sic] Watch, gives us:
Regarding this decision [Alito's Casey dissent] I’ll just say that Scalito’s desire to return society to the Dark Ages matches well with some of his colleagues pining for the days of the feudal system.
Now that's more like it . . .

Shared via Don Surber's ongoing linkfest.

Humanitarian of the Year

Bill Keller. Hands down. Since the introduction of TimeSelect, I have not heard so much as a hint of a whisper of a word that Klugman has written. In fact, the only thing I've garnered about the NYT op-ed page is the vague impression that its other columnist -- Dowdy or some such -- was somewhat less than charitable toward Judy Miller. It's a better world. The sky is a deeper blue, the changing leaves a more firey mix. Perhaps someday Keller will allow his two disgruntled columnists to once again roam free range. Until then, he will remain my hero. What? There was another one? Reich? The hell you say.

And check out StoptheACLU's Halloween Trackbacks. Point Five also has a party going on.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

That Forbes Thing

Via that insta-fellow, Bill Quick comments on a heavy-handed Forbes piece that all but pleads for strong regulation (if not outright governmental registration) of blogs:
Who cares? As usual, this chunk of bunk is hidden behind a big fat registration process, so nobody who matters is going to read it anyway.
Yes and no, I think. Thanks to the Godsend that is Bugmenot, I'm sure many people that matter will read the piece without bothering to wade through a silly registration process. I'm also fairly certain that, to the extent those folks matter, they will not be particularly helpful to Forbes' rather illiberal agenda.

Blue Gene

Blue Gene hits 280.6 teraflops (280+ trillion floating point operations per second). That's a lot, but not near the 100000 teraflops the human brain is capable of. Processing speed is getting faster by leaps and bounds, though. The processor capacity for true artificial intelligence (which I've always thought a contradiction in terms) probably isn't too very far away.

Harper College Caves

Go anywhere near the truth as it relates to Islamic treatment of women and you'll be shouted down as offensive to Islam. However, if you're Harper College (or the World Culture Museum or one of innumerable other so-called bastions of Expression), a shout is hardly necessary. Rather, you will cut and run in a semi-stiff whine. Is this photo offensive? Why? It just serves to remind that, no matter how complete their coverings, they are still people under there. (via lgf, who links to additional photos in the now-banned exhibit at

Let's Play Hardball

SobekPundit stand-in Chris Matthews takes on VodkaPundit. (via, yep, VodkaPundit). I'd ad that little "Live from the Arrogance Ballroom" dig that BJ gave Charles in OR, but I like VodkaPundit too much to accuse them of blowing their own horn.

Time Machines

FTL travel? Worm holes? Gravity-assisted Super-String turns? It's all so relative. In the end, all it takes for me is to hear How Soon Is Now to be instantly transported back to my most surly, purple-jeaned, booted, rebellious, youthful self, knowingly (and ever-so-non- chalantly) requesting a "juice with" at a late-night, black-clad Baltimore dance club, its guts reeking of sweat, cobbled attitude, intentionally-over-fragrant perfume and, from time to time, a little bit of extra good luck. How's that for a time travel.

More: [Now that's one for the Bonfire --ed.]

Friday, October 28, 2005


iTunes? What about Libby, you say. Three words. Dumb, dumb, dumb. There's not much else to say. The indictment looks rock solid. It never ceases to amaze me that, with the casebooks so full of examples, people continue to think that they can get away with it. I'll also say Merry Fitzmas, but only to rub the no-Rove-indictment thing in a little deeper. Inasmuch as I've had very little interest in this kerfluflle, I add only that, if I was giving Libby advice, I'd have simply said: Relax. Don't do it. Oh, wait. Bloody iTunes . . .

iTunes: A Random Disquisition

I finally broke down a few weeks ago and decided to check out this iTunes thing Lileks keeps mumbling about (mumbling, that is, in the most-consistently-interesting-
writing-out-there sense). Next thing you know I'll have an iPod (video, of course, to keep up with Lost (again, thanks Lileks, for that . . . and bloody Carnival as well). At any rate, I just wanted to say that, after spending the last 20 years mining the Grateful Dead's ouevre, I'd almost completely forgotten how much fun Van Halen could be. Love in the third degree, baby. Oh, hold on a minute. What's this? Roam? Why, yes. I think I will. And there's even a little bit of stuff from the The Jam on iTunes. (You remember them -- Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler? English sensation? You don't? That's a shame.). Not much. But some. How 'bout some more Buzzcocks, though? Having sufficiently dated myself (and revealed my time on the dark side of early 80s High School life), that is all.

Linked to Surber's Halloween trackback party, OneBigDog's Trackback Thread, and Adam's Blog. Why? Why not? (Pointers via MacStansbury).

The Juice of the Balloon

John Cole provides the last word on the Miers nomination and its "sycophant" defenders:
Hugh is a bright guy, and knows what happened to Bork. His writings and positions were wildly distorted, and he was the subject of withering attacks before ultimately being defeated in a full vote in the Senate. That is not what happened to Miers.

In the Miers case, everything that was charged about Miers turned out to be TRUE. She has no experience in Con Law, she was enmeshed in a land scandal, she did write sycophantic letters to Bush, she DID give the 93 speech, she was having troubles with the murder boards, she did fill out her questionnaire to the Senate so incompletely that Senators on both sides of the aisle were demanding she re-do them (and then failed to re-do them on time), she did have no paper trail (and what trail she had, they were refusing to release), her writing was muddled and fractured, she was not impressing Senators in personal meetings, and so on and so forth.

Take, read of the whole thing.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hewitt's Final Slap

Today, Hugh states:

I think Ms. Miers has been unfairly treated by many who have for years urged fair treatment of judicial nominees.

She deserves great thanks for her significant service to the country. She and the president deserved much better from his allies.

Sorry, Hugh. Loyalty is a two-way street. The President has had our support through darkest hell and deepest water. On this issue of all issues, we deserved much better from the President. Period.

And I am dreading the inevitable 750,000 word screed that DJ Drummond is sure to post. Hinting at things to come, DJ notes only that "The Bastards Won." Yep. That's me. Bastard. Sad, really, that DJ has been reduced to mumbling a loser's patois.

I'm tired of being insulted by the likes of these guys. And they say we're the ones hurting conservatives.

More: Drummond has amended his earlier snarl, earning his place on a now-two-person list. Feh. And again, I say, feh.


No. Not the Xena episode. The Meirs withdrawal. Its unfortunate that this battle had to be fought -- the President should never have put his most steadfast supporters in this position. K-Lo nails it, too. Nevertheless, its always best to win battles that need fighting. And, perhaps best of all, Patterico can now come in from the window ledge. Now we can get on with the job of putting tried and trusted conservative judges on the Supreme Court.

: Via NRO, here's the withdrawal letter, its prose a final testament to the bullet we have dodged. Put her on the Fifth Circuit. Or, better yet, the Galveston Division of the Eastern District of Texas. They could use so another pro-business judge over Brazoria way (birthplace of the best judicial opinion in the last 25 years).

Linked to StoptheACLU's and the Political Teen's trackback fests.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Miers Speech

Patterico (still on the window ledge) frets over the Miers's approach to the Roe issue in a 1993 speech discovered by the Post.
The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women’s [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion.
Hmmm. That doesn't look like the language of someone committed to abandoning the constitutional travesty that is Roe v. Wade. Hewitt, ever constant, responds, essentially glossing over explicit language that undercuts just about every argument he has made in Harriet's favor. His new line? People change:
Even if Miers was wrong about some important things in 1992-1993, that doesn't mean she is wrong now. Politics can change people. War can change them as well, in dramatic ways. Years with W and his team can change them.
Sure. People change. And, then again, sometimes they don't. My question is this: why the hell are we gambling on this? I'll echo Patterico's AAaaaauuuuuugggggghhhhhh!

As an aside, why are we hearing this from the Post? I helped vet several judicial nominees during my time in the Clinton White House (this was, natch, pre-conversion). It was my job to find things like this and bring them to the attention of the right people. I can't help but believe that the vetting process broke down -- and badly -- with regard to this nomination. Nominees for the Federal Court of Claims received a more thorough going over . . .


That's all. Disgusting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Do They Hate Me?

Advice from the Professor

Glenn Reynolds has some advice for Christians and Jews:
Start blowing things up and beheading people. This will gain you enormous solicitude from the powers-that-be.
Glenn's advice is based on the latest bit of British dhimmitude. First they came for Piglet, yesterday they came for piggy banks. Now, today, they have come for the Three Little Pigs. Tomorrow? Watch out for a ban on the British Sausage (a/k/a the Emulsified High-Fat Offal Tube).

Of course, Glenn isn't serious, but he does suggest we "need to think about the incentive that's being created here, or I fear that others will take the lesson. When you reward behavior, you tend to get more of it." I have long agreed.


Michelle has a post about some guy named Franken. Apparently, he's a liberal or something. At any rate, he's playing around with kicking people in the nuts. And he has a book, or something. As near as I can tell, he's a rather sad case. We now return your attention to something that may matter.

More: Here's someone who seems to know this Franken fellow . . . but can't remember what he's written from day to day.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Back Into the Fray

Hewitt is back from Italy and contributes a very long post. Hugh's tone starts out concilliatory but quickly wanders into something approaching defamatory. For instance, he decries what he perceives as an "implicitly anti-evangelical tone" to much of the Miers criticism. To improve on Jonah Goldberg, that is piffle cubed. No one is attacking Miers's religion. At least no one that I'm reading. Not content with casting that aspersion, Hugh goes on to question Miers's critics' pro-life chops, suggesting that many critics might, in the quiet of their hearts, be "reconciled to abortion on demand but unwilling to announce as much for fear of the political consequences." What?

Of course, the Miers question isn't whether Roe is morally tenable -- and, lest there be any confusion, in almost all circumstances it is not (and it is doubtful more than a handful of critics think otherwise) -- rather, it is whether Roe is constitutionally tenable. And, if not, the question devolves into how does the Court reverse it in a manner coherent enough not to risk yet another brute force reversal some years down the road? For me, this debate isn't about morality. Not at all. Indeed, it is possible -- and constitutionally coherent -- to be strongly pro-choice and strongly anti-Roe at the same time. As I see it, the debate over Roe has nothing to do with abortion qua abortion and everything to do with proper constitutional interpretation and application. The moral debate comes later. That's what legislatures are for.

In the end, Hewitt resorts to trotting out the parade of horribles, i.e., all the bad things that will happen if we don't allow the President the luxury of his mistake:

The continued assault on Miers brings the prospect of Democratic resurgence closer, and the anti-Miers people who deny this put their wishes ahead of facts and hard experience.

Three SCOTUS nomination processes have resulted in withdrawal/rejections in the modern era: Fortas, Haynesworth/Carswell, and Bork/Ginsburg. Each president involved either abandoned the effort or was obliged to compromise on essential issues, and all three were deeply damaged politically, as would be Bush by a Miers’ withdrawal/defeat. Conservative critics of Miers will not have the luxury of rejecting the responsibility for GOP setbacks, even enormous ones, if they succeed in their campaign against her.

But the results of their success will not be limited to the damage done to Bush. They have to consider the damage done to the GWOT by the loss of GOP majorities in either house of Congress, or of the presidency in 2008. It is simply not credible to reject as unlikely the reality of the consequences of weakening Bush at this moment. There is this pie-in-the-sky idea that, Miers defeated or withdrawn, the prident will nominate a Luttig or a McConnell, and a great battle will be waged and successfully so, and the GOP will go from victory to victory. Perhaps. I mean, it is possible. Really.

But it is much, much more likely that a defeat of the president, combined with the defeat on social security and the DeLay woes and the MSM’s incessant anti-Bush campaign will in fact birth a 2006 like 1986. It wasn’t pretty then. It isn’t inevitable now.

Unpersuasive. I don't care about 2006. I will gladly give up a congressional majority for a Supreme Court that recognizes that the constitution doesn't provide answers to many, if not most, difficult societal issues. The only point that resonates with me is 2008. If I were convinced that the Democrats would win the White House in 2008 if Miers is not confirmed, I'd give in. In the under-stated words of another Bush, allowing the Democrats to control the national security apparatus would not be prudent at this juncture. I'm not convinced, though. And I doubt I can be. A defeat on Miers may hurt the President down the road. A victory on Miers will hurt the country right now. For me, it's that simple.

More Dhimmitude

First they came for Piglet, not we get this from banks of the Sceptered Isle:
British banks are banning piggy banks because they may offend some Muslims.

Halifax and NatWest banks have led the move to scrap the time-honoured symbol of saving from being given to children or used in their advertising, the Daily Express/Daily Star group reports here.

Muslims do not eat pork, as Islamic culture deems the pig to be an impure animal.

Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, backed the bank move.

"This is a sensitive issue and I think the banks are simply being courteous to their customers," he said.

Oh, bother.


It's been a year since I landed in this Island. I've incurred a little suspicion along the way, and hope to incur even more going forward. Thanks to everyone who has stopped in for a visit, especially those I regularly see pop up in sitemeter's visit log and/or those who have tossed a link or two my way. Having made it through year one, I now plan to have the blog re-designed and migrated to a new home. The transition will go smoothly. Here's looking forward to what the next year brings.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Meanwhile, at the Corner

Jonah Goldberg takes down Hewitt's claim that Miers's heavy-handed diversity policies while President of the TBA cannot be considered as evidence of her judicial views on affirmative action.
So now Hugh is telling us not to worry about her private political views, they are meaningless (even as she pushed the White House to go soft on Bollinger). Meanwhile, Miers' supporters have been arguing for two weeks that Miers is privately opposed to abortion and that should be good enough indication about how she'd vote on Roe. So which is it? Why should we believe Hewitt that Miers will keep her private views to herself (even though she hasn't in the past) on race, but she'll take her private views on abortion to the bank?
Allow me to add that, because I know all about Brentwood and the state action doctrine, I consider myself privileged to enter this discussion.

See also: Protein Wisdom, Bainbridge, Below the Beltway, and Patterico (who still has not yet jumped).

For the TTLB Record

I oppose the Miers nomination.

Here's how the rest of the blogosphere breaks down.

And Then There's This

According to Diana West's op-ed, Twisting History, in today's Washington Times:
[A]t the president's by-now-annual Ramadan dinner, President Bush announced, "For the first time in our nation's history, we have added a Koran to the White House Library."

* * *
Is it just me, or does the president's gesture of inclusion sock the rest of us in the head? Fun-loving, peacenik Muslims aside, the Koran is indisputably the favorite book of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab Zarqawi, the killers of Daniel Pearl, Hamas bus bombers, London Underground bombers and anyone who has ever hidden an IED on an Iraqi road to kill or maim an American soldier -- none of which is the best recommendation for White House honors.
Heaven forbid we offend our enemies. Call me crazy, but I doubt that Churchill ever held an annual Burgerbraukeller commemorative dinner during WWII, let alone troubled himself to add an edition of Mein Kampf to the shelves of Number 10 Downing Street.

We shall fete them on the beaches, we shall fete them on the landing grounds . . .

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Of Straws and Men

Hewitt's response to Will's column, (which I commented on here), misses the point in breathtaking fashion:
First, I have to note that Will allowed his love of language to cripple his argument. "Incense defense" sounds wondeful, but is so bizarre in the context of an evangelical nominee as to raise the question of whether Will intentionally set out to offend.

But so do his missiles about "crude" people. Who are they? James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Jay Sekulow, Lino Graglia, Ken Starr? Four out of five are evangelicals. Does Will equate evangelical faith with crudeness?

And what, exactly, does "crudely obsessed with abortion" mean? Rod Dreher of's The Corner thought this Will column quite devastating to Miers' nomination supporters. Does Rod agree that seriousness about abortion is "crude?" Does K-Lo? Does William F. Buckley?

Will's point -- an obvious point -- was that the Administration's effort to garner support for Miers based on her faith (the implication, of course, being she'd vote to reverse Roe) speaks only to individuals for whom ends are everything. Such thinking is crude. And if an obsession over abortion allows one to sacrifice means to the altar of ends, well, then the obsession is itself crude. At bottom, the "incense defense" is an all but explicit endorsement of the notion, heretofore anathema, that aconstitutional policy decisions lie within the province of the Court. It is a rank confession that the only thing that matters is the appointment of Justices who will implement preferred policies by brutish force.

Will decidedly did not say that "seriousness about abortion is crude." Seriousness about abortion is terribly important, most significantly with regard to the legislative battles that will follow Roe's reversal. It is seriousness about constitutional jurisprudence that will bring those legislative battles to pass. Equally important, it is seriousness about constitutional jurisprudence that will prevent a return to Roe eight or nine nominations from now.

Confronted with a powerful argument concerning the nature and role of the judiciary, Hewitt erects a straw man. It is, as Will frankly remarks, not to his credit. I'll also note that Hewitt did not respond to Will's takedown of the "BWAE" (Bos-Wash Axis of Elitism) slurs he has so smugly levied at Miers critics since day one.

I look forward to the day this fight is behind us. I'm guessing Hugh does too.

Suffer the Little Children

Mark Morford writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and well deserves the title of most noisome columnist in the Western Hemisphere (he'd easily take the world category but for a handful of loathsome pundits who work in arabic script). Case in point -- Morford discusses the Duggar family (who, even though they have 16 children, have done nothing, so far as I can tell, to deserve the scorn Mordford heaps upon them) in a 1250-word column entitled God Does Not Want 16 Kids:
Who are you to judge? Who are you to say that the more than slightly creepy 39-year-old woman from Arkansas who just gave birth to her 16th child yes that's right 16 kids and try not to cringe in phantom vaginal pain when you say it, who are you to say Michelle Duggar is not more than a little unhinged and sad and lost?

* * *

[T]his might be the most disquieting photo you see all year, this bizarre Duggar family of 18 spotless white hyperreligious interchangeable people with alarmingly bad hair, the kids ranging in ages from 1 to 17, worse than those nuked Smurfs in that UNICEF commercial and worse than all the horrific rubble in Pakistan and worse than the cluster-bomb nightmare that is Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise having a child as they suck the skin from each other's Scientological faces and even worse than that huge 13-foot python which ate that six-foot alligator and then exploded.

It's wrong to be this judgmental. Wrong to suggest that it is exactly this kind of weird pathological protofamily breeding-happy gluttony that's making the world groan and cry and recoil, contributing to vicious overpopulation rates and unrepentant economic strain and a bitter moral warpage resulting from a massive viral outbreak of homophobic neo-Christians across our troubled and Bush-ravaged land. Or is it?

* * *
Why does this sort of bizarre hyperbreeding only seem to afflict antiseptic megareligious families from the Midwest? In other words -- assuming Michelle and Jim Bob and their massive brood of cookie-cutter Christian kidbots will all be, as the charming photo suggests, never allowed near a decent pair of designer jeans or a tolerable haircut from a recent decade, and assuming that they will all be tragically encoded with the values of the homophobic asexual Christian right -- where are the forces that shall help neutralize their effect on the culture? Where is the counterbalance, to offset the damage?

* * *
Ah, but this is America, yes? People should be allowed to do whatever the hell they want with their families if they can afford it and if it's within the law and so long as they aren't gay or deviant or happily flouting Good Christian Values, right? Shouldn't they? Hell, gay couples still can't openly adopt a baby in most states (they either lie, or one adopts and the other must apply as "co-parent"), but Michelle Duggar can pop out 16 kids and no one says, oh my freaking God, stop it, stop it now, you thoughtless, selfish, baby-drunk people.
Lurking beneath Morford's contempt is a real issue. There's a reason he's frightened of people like the Duggars, a reason he would stop them from having children if he could. He fears that, unless they are stopped, they will breed a substantial and permanent majority of individuals that reject his worldview outright. Hence, the piffle about "vicious overpopulation" in a society that barely achieves replacement. He's right to be scared. He may, however, be better advised to counsel those who share his worldview against exterminating their offspring. The Roe Effect is inexorably catching up with the Left.

Reading Morford always leaves me feeling like a need a shower . . .

Linked to Stop the ACLU's weekend trackback party , My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy's Open Trackback Thread, and Don Surber's linkfest.

Do-It-Yourself Liposuction

Yes, that and other titles, including Coronor by Correspondence, Fast Track to Prison - Exploring the Many Benefits of Life Behind Bars, How to Make your Mother a Porn Star, and The Nutritional Benifits of Nose Picking can be yours for a very low price from Flapart. Actually, the titles are simply fake book jackets. Pick one up for your next visit to the DMV, sit back and watch the reactions. And, if your looking for more personal space, you can't go wrong with:

Via indispensible BookBlog The Millions and submitted to the linkfest of the tireless Don Surber.

A Whiff of Good News

Today's Washington Times reports (h/t Conspirator Kerr):
The White House has begun making contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers as President Bush's choice to fill a seat on the Supreme Court, conservative sources said yesterday.

"White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, 'We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?' " a conservative Republican with ties to the White House told The Washington Times yesterday.

* * *
"The political people in the White House are very worried about how she will do in the hearings," the second conservative leader said. "I think they have finally awakened."
I'm glad to hear it. I do find it a bit funny, though, that, if true, the White House seems to be paying closer attention to the details of the withdraw then it did to the details of the nomination itself. I suppose late is better than never.

And then there's George Will's compelling rejoinder to the anti-anti-Miers Hewitt-niks:
Miers's advocates tried the incense defense: Miers is pious. But that is irrelevant to her aptitude for constitutional reasoning. The crude people who crudely invoked it probably were sending a crude signal to conservatives who, the invokers evidently believe, are so crudely obsessed with abortion that they have an anti-constitutional willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade with an unreasoned act of judicial willfulness as raw as the 1973 decision itself.

In their unseemly eagerness to assure Miers's conservative detractors that she will reach the "right" results, her advocates betray complete incomprehension of this: Thoughtful conservatives' highest aim is not to achieve this or that particular outcome concerning this or that controversy. Rather, their aim for the Supreme Court is to replace semi-legislative reasoning with genuine constitutional reasoning about the Constitution's meaning as derived from close consideration of its text and structure. Such conservatives understand that how you get to a result is as important as the result. Indeed, in an important sense, the path that the Supreme Court takes to the result often is the result.

I've previously expressed the same view. I can't disagree with Will's observation: "Such is the perfect perversity of the nomination of Harriet Miers that it discredits, and even degrades, all who toil at justifying it."

Myopic Zeal has all the latest.

From the Southern Command

What next:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez believes the United States is planning to invade his country and has evidence to prove it, he said in an interview with British radio broadcast Thursday. Chavez said the invasion would never be allowed to happen.
Chavez Status

Tough Stuff

Someone once said that linking to Instapundit is presumptuous. Be that as it may, it looks as though Mr. Reynolds got a bit angry with an emailer this morning. That anger translated into this post offering perhaps his most forceful statement yet on the Bush wars:
If Bush's effort [in the Middle East] fails, it won't be because the antiwar critique of bloodthirstiness and warmongering is correct. It will be because Bush hasn't been vigorous enough in toppling governments and invading countries in the region. What happens with Syria in the next little while may answer that question.
What he said. As bad a miscalculation as the Miers nomination is, I wouldn't hold out the hope that Bush has lost his nerve . . . not if I were Syria, that is.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Marriage Debate

Although I've been reading a few of the posts this week, I've neglected to mention that Maggie Gallagher has been guest-blogging at the Conspiracy on the issue of same-sex marriage. This is Maggie's final post on the issue -- a post that has thus far drawn nearly 400 comments, most of which are civil. I've been somewhat taken aback by the disdain some advocates of same-sex marriage display for people whose conception of marriage is informed by thousands of years of human experience. My sense is that, straws and camel's backs being what they are, they are playing with fire.

Hewitt Descending

Is it just me, or are Hugh Hewitt's Miers-related posts taking on a tone of bitterness? Take, for example:
Judge Bork and the anti-Miers crowd are increasingly defined by their Potter Stewart-like standard for SCOTUS nominees: They'll know a good one when they see it.

I missed that part of the GOP platform or the president's campaign detailing the demand for explicit guarantees on Roe and Bollinger, or a set of resume standards. In fact, I missed any criticism remotely approaching this sort of denunciation when Chief Justice John Roberts was nominated, or Clarence Thomas or David Souter before him. . . .

If other anti-Miers critics would carefully lay out their minimum standards for a future SCOTUS nominee -- not by name, but by credential and case holdings of concern to them -- that would help the non-BWAE [Bos-Wash Axis of Elitism] conservatives get their bearings.

Also, this gratuitous slap at The Corner has something of a nanny-nanny-nyah-nyah flair to it. A bit unbecoming, but I can forgive him. After all, Hugh has been busy being doggedly wrong for weeks now -- that's gotta wear on you after awhile.

DeLay: All Smiles

Even during the most difficult moments, Tom DeLay continues to outsmart his political opponents. And their not happy about it:
The Texas Republican is smiling, dressed in a suit and wearing his House pin. Unlike most mug shots, the photograph being circulated on the Internet does not include written information at the bottom, so it looks more like an ordinary snapshot than a mug shot.

That bothers many of the bloggers on the Democrat's "Kicking Ass" website.

Some complained that the official mug shot "doesn't look real -- no ID markings, no booking numbers, etc." Others wanted to see the profile shot. "I want a copy of the warrent [sic] for the back of a t-shirt and his mug on the front," one Democrat wrote. Others indicated they'd like to wipe the smile off DeLay's face.
Poor babies. Don Surber and Kokonut Pundits have a bit to add. And what, praytell, are they saying over on the left side of the blogosphere? Well, there's this:
I can imagine the glee on the faces of Shrubbie's inner circle jerk when they yuck it up about how the Dems won't be able to use Delay's mugshot because he was SMILING! DAMN! Those pesky Republicans are just too cagey for us naive and trusting bleeding hearts. One little smile, and they defused the whole bomb.


Except someone forgot to tell them that people are REALLY PISSED right now and are starting to (GASP!) pay attention to reality. Not the the reality created by neocons as they make the world into their image of a rotting cesspool, but ACTUAL real-type reality that is reflected in things that HAPPEN in the world, as opposed to what things look like in Karl Rove's wet dreams.
Those Krazy Kos Kids, always with the erudite masturbatory metaphors.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Senators Lindsey Graham and Sam Brownback have requested that the White House release documents relating to Miers service as White House Counsel. I'm terribly torn by this request. On the one hand, Republican Senators suggesting that such documents are fair game sets an absolutely horrible precendent. On the other hand, there simply is nothing else available. Even an attorney's work product privilege can give way in the absence of any other way to obtain critical evidence. There is no similar caveat, so far as I know, for the attorney-client privilege. Virtually every non-public document Miers has created during her tenure has White House Counsel fall into one or the other category.

So, what to do? Easy. The White House should refuse to release the documents. As Charles Krauthammer explains, this might just be the out everyone is looking for. And what should be done in the real world, where the President appears ready to go down with this sinking nominee? I don't know. My hunch is that, in the end, the White House will turn over certain work product documents that don't trench too deeply on advice given the President. And thus will the President's ability to obtain frank legal counsel from his lawyers be even further diminished. Not a good result.

See also: Daly Thoughts and Project Nothing. As usual, ConfirmThem has all the latest.

Are Indictments Coming?

Will Rove and/or Libby be indicted? I don't know one way or the other. Neither, of course, does anyone else, including the NYT. If there are indictments, I can promise one thing: Very few who pass information today are going to risk imprisonment tomorrow. Government will become an increasingly secretive enterprise.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Culture of the Crapulent

If I hear Nancy Pelosi say "culture of corruption and cronyism" one more time I'll . . . I'll . . . I'll . . . well, I suppose I'll hear it a hundred more times after that. Is it possible that there are people who don't see right through this focus-grouped Lakoff-ian piffle? Judging from the look on her face, I think she's getting ready to Mapplethorpe that whip. Sorry . . .

Wilma Watch

Simply the best site for storm-related information: The Stormtrack. I came across it as Rita was welling up in the Gulf and found its coverage (and explanations) to be superb. Take a look at their new model maps, which make terrific use of Google Maps.

More: Gotta love the trackback url . . . Although others may have seen it before, is a new one on me!

Wallowing in the Miers

The Counsel to the President of the United States can't write. Really. The evidence is now overwhelming. She can't write. Not a lick. Start over at Bainbridge and ride the links. And be sure not to miss this prose nugget (via the Conspiracy):
The passage of this proposed law squarely raises the issues of the special interests laws for the benefit of those who have the wealth and power to cause to be passed self-protective legislation.

* * *
Additionally, I feel confident it will never work and those involved in its promulgation will be smeared with legitimate criticism for a blatant attempt to shield, protect and curry favor with interests that have brought shame on this state, badly hurt our economic development efforts directed at creating jobs and continue to this day to cause our state to be held in disrepute for “justice for sale.”
Later today, I expect Ed Gillespie and Hugh Hewitt will be telling us not to worry because Hapless Harriet will have plenty of talented law clerks behind her. Either that or we'll learn that even poor legal writers deserve representation on the Supreme Court.

My view of Miers has now hit rock bottom. Not only do I believe her unqualified to sit on the SCOTUS (a conclusion I have thus far refrained from drawing), I'm rapidly coming to the view that she's just not a very good lawyer. Frankly, I'm a little bit frightened that the President of the United States has been taking her counsel.

Also check out The Conglomerate, Patterico, and Baseball Crank.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Federalist in the Closet

In today's OpinionJournal, Judge Bork sets forth his thoughts on the Miers nomination. Although Bork makes several good points it is his discussion of the impact of the nomination on young conservative legal-types (such as myself) that I find most compelling:
For the past 20 years conservatives have been articulating the philosophy of originalism, the only approach that can make judicial review democratically legitimate. Originalism simply means that the judge must discern from the relevant materials--debates at the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers, newspaper accounts of the time, debates in the state ratifying conventions, and the like--the principles the ratifiers understood themselves to be enacting. The remainder of the task is to apply those principles to unforeseen circumstances, a task that law performs all the time. Any philosophy that does not confine judges to the original understanding inevitably makes the Constitution the plaything of willful judges.

By passing over the many clearly qualified persons, male and female, to pick a stealth candidate, George W. Bush has sent a message to aspiring young originalists that it is better not to say anything remotely controversial, a sort of "Don't ask, don't tell" admonition to would-be judges. It is a blow in particular to the Federalist Society, most of whose members endorse originalism. The society, unlike the ACLU, takes no public positions, engages in no litigation, and includes people of differing views in its programs. It performs the invaluable function of making law students, in the heavily left-leaning schools, aware that there are respectable perspectives on law other than liberal activism. Yet the society has been defamed in McCarthyite fashion by liberals; and it appears to have been important to the White House that neither the new chief justice nor Ms. Miers had much to do with the Federalists.
I am not (yet) a member of the Federalist Society, but that's because my conversion was still in progress during my law school years. (Being a Deadhead, one must presume there was a conversion at some point -- teenage conservatives don't generally go for the Dead, though Ann Coulter may be an exception). I respect both the means and the ends of the Federalists and agree with Bork that this nomination is something of a slap in the face. This, of course, comes on the heels of the Roberts nomination, during which the administration treated potential membership in the Federalist Society as akin to membership in McCarthy's communist party. With the Miers nomination -- and revelations concerning her studied disassociation from the Federalists -- we now know who was behind that shameful episode.

Other takes at House of the Dog (who apparently shares my disgust with the "she's pro-life hence anti-Roe argument), House of Cakeboy, Captain's Quarters, and the DailyPundit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Oklahoma Suicide

Turns out that the sturm und drang over OU suicide bomber Joel Hinrichs was much ado about nothing. Or it at least looks very much like that. Here's a good recap that, although leaning a bit heavy on Malkin, Powerline and the Jawa Report, is worth reading if you've been suspicious about the media reports. (via that Insta-fellow).

More: Bill Quick still has questions -- good ones. So does Gates of Vienna. This story isn't over.

It's About Time

Finally. That's about all there is to say about today's Michael Chertoff announcement:

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department aims without exception to expel all those who enter the United States illegally.

"Our goal at DHS (Homeland Security) is to completely eliminate the 'catch and release' enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions.

"It should be possible to achieve significant and measurable progress to this end in less than a year," Chertoff told a Senate hearing.

Thousands of "Mexicans who are caught entering the United States illegally are returned immediately to Mexico. But other parts of the system have nearly collapsed under the weight of numbers. The problem is especially severe for non-Mexicans apprehended at the southwest border," Chertoff explained.

"Today, a non-Mexican illegal immigrant caught trying to enter the United States across the southwest border has an 80 percent chance of being released immediately because we lack the holding facilities," he added.

"Through a comprehensive approach, we are moving to end this 'catch and release' style of border enforcement by reengineering our detention and removal process."

Although the proof will be in the pudding, so to speak, perhaps now we can call a halt to the utterly nonsensical (and self-destructive) debates over whether illegals should be rewarded for their crimes with driver's licenses, welfare, food stamps, Medi-Care and subsidized higher education. I am not anti-immigrant, although I do think we currently welcome far to many legal immigrants. I am strongly anti-illegal immigrant (and anti-amnesty). Send 'em home. No excuses, no apologies.

I'm sure the end of the 'catch-and-release' policy will draw the ire of those who reflexively cry racism and zenophobia in response to even the merest suggestion that federal imigration law be enforced. Who cares? Their "arguments" have been roundly rejected. Insults are all they have left (and, to be fair, insult has always been the weapon of choice in their intellectual arsenal).

More: The Immigration Blog has a very different take on Chertoff's presser. Oh well, isn't any enforcement better than none?

Monday, October 17, 2005

No Donut for DOJ

Today, the Supreme Court denied cert. in United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., rejecting DOJ's effort to resurrect its claim for $149 billion in disgorgement. Earlier this year, the D.C. Circuit determined that the statute under which the Government brought suit -- 18 U.S.C. 1964(a) -- does not permit a court to order disgorgement but rather is limited to forward-looking remedies such as divestiture.

Although this is a big win for the industry, the Government's lawyers are creative and will no doubt seek to bleed the industry via other more forward-looking means. Congrats all around to the industry's lawyers (Winston, A&P, Jones Day, Thompson Coburn, Kirkland etc.). SCOTUSblog has an update on this and the day's other orders.

BREAKING: Rove's Garage

Can the media get any more pathetic? What did they expect to see? Ballots? Bodies? Bimbos?

NASCAR: The Cracker's Sport

From today's "What Next?" file, David Wright's latest Village Voice column asks readers "Why Does America Love NASCAR? Hint: It's not Black." It is Wright's hypothesis, which he argues (disjointedly) by reference to the movies "3" (ESPN's Dale Earnhardt biopic) and "Friday Night Lights," that NASCAR's popularity is principally due to the racial composition of the drivers, pitcrews and fans:
By saying NASCAR isn't black, I mean it isn't African American. And NASCAR is not at all black: Not in the cockpits of the stockcars; not on the pit crews; rarely, if at all, among the multitudes filling the 160,000-seat speedway stands. It's considered an all-American sport, inclusive and meritocratic, but to see it on TV or in person, it does have a certain flavor.
Not all of America loves NASCAR. It's mostly those who live in the "red" swath of middle America, an area that includes the South and the Southwest and that helped elect George Bush last November. These are the ones who punched Dubya's chad, the ones who did so purportedly as a vote for "values." So significant is this group that television networks are increasingly gearing their programming toward it.
Ummm . . . what??? Later, in the same article, Wright goes on to explain that NASCAR's popularity has something to do with its being free from the affrontery of black athletes. In Wright's world, Dale Earnhardt is the white man's paragon of virtue. In Wright's world, whites view black athletes, from Latrell Spreewell to Barry Bonds, as predatory, showboating, loud-mouthed, ingrates:
Where this idealized "Dale Earnhardt" is Everyman, today's American Sportsman has become, in Sly Stone parlance, Everyday People. That is to say, he's black. Specifically, urban black: hiphop; flamboyantly flashy; naturally gifted but lazy. The American Sportsman/black athlete personifies the opposite of the values that the NASCAR fans seem to hold dear. As opposed to the NASCAR driver presented in 3, a white man who leathers his hands working with tools and relying on his daring to earn victories, the American Sportsman/black athlete squanders his God-given talent and is loud-talking and brash. He is a millionaire whiner who complains about how inadequate is his pay (Latrell Sprewell), or who brawls with paying fans (Ron Artest). He is lascivious, perhaps even a rapist (Kobe Bryant). And there's reason to think he's a cheat (Barry Bonds). The 2004 US Olympic basketball team—which, despite boastful predictions, won only Bronze—represents the worst of the American Sportsman and, like that shamed team, has brought disgrace on the country before the entire world.
This, on its own terms, is stupidity on stilts. If, as Wright argues, whites have no time for sports whose star categories are populated by blacks, how then does he explain the popularity of the NFL, which dwarfs the popularity of NASCAR when the two go head-to-head on Fall Sundays. More to the point, how does he explain that professional hockey (a sport every bit as white as NASCAR) went awol for an entire season and no one other than Gary Bettman acted as if they noticed?

Hmmm. NASCAR is popular. NASCAR is white. NASCAR is popular because it is white. Post hoc ergo propter hoc, anyone? Inasmuch as Wright's argument is nothing more than a wordy logical fallacy, one suspects there must be something else going on here. What is that something else? Oh, the usual -- a gratuitous slam at Jeebus-Land, home of the unthinking crackers who elected George Bush:
The movie that we, as a people, are making to demonstrate who we, as a country, are in the post-9/11 world is regrettably just as shallow and fantastical as 3 and Friday Night Lights. Cast in the leading role is a man who, playing to this all-American narrative, has presented himself as the idealized Everyman, as a sort of politician "Dale Earnhardt:" tough; resolute; a uniter ("One man, one sport, one nation") whose multi-racial (if race-neutral) team is as hard-working and driven as him. For our president/hero, everything is facilely—and falsely—black and white, part of an "axis of evil" or of a "crusade" for righteousness and light, and no adversity will keep him from winning against those who "hate freedom."

Skeptical audience members, here as well as abroad, are disturbed by the movie we are being shown. Unfortunately, none of us can walk out of this theater.
Wright's just here to do some stale Bush-bashing; all the rest is window dressing. I guess Wright figured the only way to get anyone to read his words was to smear NASCAR and its fans. In that conclusion, he was unassailably correct.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Dear God! It's worse than Ohio.

Our guys and gals in Iraq are getting it done. Well, actually they're just giving the Iraqis a little bit of space, which is all they need to get things done themselves. History keeps rolling forward. It's a shame that so many of our countrymen are bound and determined to stand athwart it. But it is their shame, and their's alone. Congratulations, Iraq. And, to our guys and gals, keep up good work.

Iraqi Vote Updates: Bare Knuckle Politics, Publius, Adventures of Chester, and, of course, Iraq the Model.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Space Reporting

BBC reports that the Chinese Shenzhou VI's orbit has decayed more than expected. Chinese media indicates the orbit will be fixed shortly. I hope all goes well for the Chinese (and, given the routine nature of such things, surely it will) but that is not why I posted on this article. Take a look at this passage, which purports to describe what has happened to the craft:
The "orbit maintenance operation" would take place early on Friday morning, said official news agency Xinhua.

Gravity has drawn Shenzhou VI too close to earth, the agency said.

Shenzhou VI, which has two astronauts on board, is in a low enough orbit to be affected by the Earth's gravitational pull.
Now, although you doubtless caught it the first time, read that final sentence again. At first I thought this was something that BBC culled from the Xinhua report, but that's clearly not the case. This line is the Beeb's explanation of how the craft could drift toward earth. It has been known since, ohhh Newton, that every object in our solar system, from the massive Sun to tiny Pluto (okay, Mercury -- Newton didn't know about Pluto), is affected by the Earth's gravitational pull. Satellites in relatively distant orbits remain in orbit for only one reason. Yep. The Earth's gravitational pull. Indeed, if an orbiting object were truly far enough out in orbit to be unaffected by the Earth's gravitational pull, the object wouldn't be in orbit.

Is it too much to ask that science reporters have a least a six-grader's understanding of the subject they cover? And if the reporter does know better, why in heaven's name would the simple concept of gravity be dumbed down, so to speak, for the consumption of BBC readers? Although one might argue that I've answered my own question, I think both options -- dumb reporters or dumbed-down text -- are equally useless.

From the Horse's Mouth

Today, safely (or not so safely) protected by the New York Times Reader Prevention Program, David Brooks drives home the folly of the Harriet Miers SCOTUS nomination (h/t Ron James). (David Brooks? He writes for a private, subscription-only website.) Well, it's not so much Brooks who drives folly home, but Miers herself who takes the wheel. See, Brooks's column largely consists of quotations drawn from Miers's writings while President of the Texas Bar Association. The quotes -- culled from a monthly President's column -- are sloppy in their syntax and dowright pedestrian in their significance:

“More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems.”

Or this: “We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism.”

Or this: “When consensus of diverse leadership can be achieved on issues of importance, the greatest impact can be achieved.”

Or passages like this: “An organization must also implement programs to fulfill strategies established through its goals and mission. Methods for evaluation of these strategies are a necessity. With the framework of mission, goals, strategies, programs, and methods for evaluation in place, a meaningful budgeting process can begin.”

Or, finally, this: “We have to understand and appreciate that achieving justice for all is in jeopardy before a call to arms to assist in obtaining support for the justice system will be effective. Achieving the necessary understanding and appreciation of why the challenge is so important, we can then turn to the task of providing the much needed support.”

Brooks's analysis, although a bit mean-spirited, is nevertheless accurate:
Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It’s not that Miers didn’t attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things.
Exactly what we need to see from the Supreme Court -- thoughtless and hollow bromides. More here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The "First Woman" Canard

The time is long past when being the "first woman" to do something was significant in terms of qualifications. And nowhere in American professional life is that time longer past than it is in the legal profession. Look at the courts. Look at the top law firms. Look at the law schools. Today, woman comprise a majority of law students and, perforce, a majority, in most cases, of entering associate classes at the top firms. In those firms, new female associates are paid exactly the same as new male associates and obtain raises in lockstep with their male counterparts. No less is expected of females in terms of quality and quantity of work than is expected of men. In short, even if it exists nowhere else (which, of course, it does) there currently is something of a true parity of the sexes in the legal profession. Why then, is the President behaving as if the opposite were true. Funny, but I don't remember Bush predicating the nominations of Janice Rogers Brown and Priscella Owen on the accident of their sex. But then those nominees had the advantage of having other advantages.

Remember the Cole

Today is the five-year anniversary of the U.S.S. Cole bombing in Yemen. Michelle has some reflections and a round-up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Allah? . . . akbar?

The entire Islamic world overflowed with joy when Hurricane Katrina struck in America, which seemed to reel from the strength of the hurricane and went asking for aid from all the countries of the world. Broken and completely humiliated, George Bush, a fool who is being obeyed, announced his obvious incapability to deal with the wrath of Allah that visited the city of homosexuals.

While Louisiana is trying to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, another hurricane fiercely struck the state of North Carolina, on the Atlantic coast, but so far there have been no casualties or significant damage, as was expected. We hope that Allah will humiliate America with this hurricane to make it a lesson for whoever wants to listen.

Sout Al-Khilafa (Al Qaeda internet broadcast) -- September 2005

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - Three days after the deadly Kashmir earthquake, relief efforts remained chaotic on Tuesday and U.N. officials said scores more helicopters were needed to get food, medicine and shelter to millions of survivors.

Pledges of aid for the victims of Saturday's earthquake have poured in from around the world but little assistance has yet reached desperate survivors on the ground due to blocked roads and a shortage of aircraft, particularly helicopters.

Heavy rain and hailstorms in northern Pakistan further hampered efforts on Tuesday, grounding rescue flights and a planned aerial tour of stricken areas by the prime minister.

Officials in the worst-hit areas of Pakistani Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province said may have claimed up to 40,000 lives. Another 2,000 people are feared to have been killed across the border in Indian Kashmir.

But the official death toll from the quake -- at 7.6 magnitude the biggest to hit the region in a century -- remained at 21,000 in Pakistan and slightly over 1,200 in India.

U.N. officials estimated the quake had left up to a million people homeless and threatened by disease in northern Pakistan, while perhaps three million more were in need of assistance, many of them children.

Reuters -- October 11, 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

On an Altogether Different Topic

Reuters reports that the Egyptian Antiquities Commission has approved another robotic voyage into the mysterious shafts of the Great Pyramid. According to Egyptologist Zahi Hawass:
he w[ill] this week inspect a robot designed to climb the two narrow shafts which might lead to an undiscovered burial chamber in the pyramid of Cheops at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo.

Hawass said the shafts and stone panels which block them could mark the location of the burial chamber of Cheops, also known as Khufu. That would mean none of the chambers already discovered in the pyramid were the pharaoh's real tomb.

The shafts were last probed in September 2002, when a robot drilled a hole through one of the stone panels to reveal a small empty space at the end of which lay another panel, which appeared cracked and fragile.

The new robot, designed by a university in Singapore over two years, would drill through that panel and the stone slab blocking the second shaft.

I find this sort of thing fascinating.

Michael Graham's New Project

My favorite radio host has a new project: Stop Miers Now. As ever, Michael throws around a little hyperbole:
What can you do to stop the Church Lady from getting her inexperienced hands on your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? First, don't call the White House. It won't do any good. A president who never fired Michael Brown, Norm Mineta or George Tenet isn't about to start dumping buddies overboard merely for being incompetent.

No, the people with the ability, duty and political interest to stop Harriet Miers are the 55 Republican members of the US Senate. They swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and it never needed more protection than it does now--from a life-time appointment of an unqualified political hack with no experience or tested judicial philosophy.
Michael wouldn't be Michael without a little hyperbole, now would he?

Perplexing a Professor

Dan Solove, a former colleague during my D.C. days and now a hard[ly!]-working professor of law at GW has this to say on the Miers nomination:

The reactions about Miers certainly couldn't have come as a surprise to the White House. I'm trying to imagine Karl Rove's strategy. There must be, after all, some kind of strategy, unless Rove was taking a lunch break when Bush made the nomination. Could it just be cronyism? Or perhaps there's something more. Here's a nominee who has about as short a paper trail as a nominee can have, yet who is very well known to President Bush and others in the Administration.

After spending years cultivating the far Right, would the Administration suddenly abandon them? Or just make a really big blunder? I don't see it. In the last presidential election, it became clear that Rove was not to be underestimated. I don't totally understand what the Administration is doing here, but there must be a strategy to it. It's hard for me to believe that this appointment was just a thoughtless bout of cronyism.

When you have Dan perplexed on the strategery of the thing, it's likely that there just might not be any. For my part, I think Bush should have understood the limited scope of Roberts's written record as establishing a floor on what he could get away with in terms of so-called stealth nominations (and, foreshadowing the current climate, there were several commentators that demanded the floor be much higher, e.g., Coulter). In the end, conservative acceptance of Roberts's nomination decidedly was not a general endorsement of stealth nominations. The President appears to have mistaken it for such. Dan is perplexed because he seeks a coherent strategy in a nomination that was premised on faulty assumptions.

And it's not just (or even primarily) the so-called "far [r]ight" (which I understand to mean dyed-in-the-wool social conservatives) that is deeply disappointed with the Miers nomination.

More: Undermining Dan's thesis, John Fund today reveals that the Miers nomination was an Andy Card deal. Apparently, Rove had nothing to do with it.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Miers Record

Today, Beldar examines Miers's record via published Westlaw cases. Beldar is impressed. Beldar misses the point. Miers's record as a practicing lawyer is just fine, perhaps even enviable for most. But -- and here's the rub -- it does nothing to distinguish her from thousands of other gifted litigators practicing across the country. So she had Microsoft and Disney as clients. Big whoop. Lots and lots and lots of lawyers have big time clients with big time legal issues. I've represented more than one (okay, two) Fortune 10 clients myself in bet-the-company litigation (think tobacco and lead paint) and have a Westlaw trail that, according to Beldar's anaylsis (stature of client/difficulty of issues/stakes/result), is at least equally impressive.

By way of comparison, the last lawyer I vetted for local counsel had well over 75 published opinions in federal and state courts and was just a terrific Kansas City litigator. Despite the strong record, he was probably not SCOTUS material. And I too have worked in the White House Counsel's office (in fairness, I was not the boss), though you've surely never heard of me. Would I make a good judge. Perhaps. Would I be an Easterbrook-Kozinski-Selya-Posner-Luttig type of judge right out of the box? No way. It would take years of practice and may still never happen. Yes, Beldar misses the point . . . entirely. But still, good work. It would have been nice if this news had come from somewhere else, say, oh, I don't know, the Administration.

This post is not intended to belittle Miers's record as a litigator. I don't know her. For all I know she may have serious trial chops. All well and good. Still, I see nothing in her career to suggest she has ever had any interest in sitting on the federal bench, let alone on the United States Supreme Court. Surveying the Circuit Courts, I see numerous individuals who have worked for many years honing their skills for this opportunity. Is Miers qualified? I've never said she wasn't. Is she the most qualified? Not by a long shot.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Rabble

Hugh Hewitt levies the strangest criticism I've yet seen. It seems to me that Hugh is saying that Miers would be doing fine but for the quick opinions expressed by conservative bloggers -- bloggers who are, by and large, far too influential with conservatives who don't know enough to think for themselves, i.e., the conservative base(!).
Conservatives disappointed by the failure to select Judges Luttig or McConnell reacted with fury that the new news cycle allowed to be instantly communicated to the base that wouldn't know Judges Luttig or McConnell from the fellas at the gas station.
Wow. Who was it that was going on about elitism?


DJ Drummond weighs in with another 5000 words on why those of us who are aghast at the opportunity squandered by the Miers nomination are damaging the party and the nation.
A surprising number of Conservatives are starting out with the assumption that Miers is not qualified. This betrays a serious misundertanding of the process, and a woeful tendency to jump ship when it’s not the style you want. Looking at the reaction, I generally see three groups - those who have worked with Miers approve of her selection [ed. -- this would be the David Frum group?], some of those who do not know her say they would have preferred someone else, and a growing number are saying they will wait until the hearings to see how they will respond.
* * *
But to the main point, while honest Republicans and Conservatives may disagree on the Miers selection, there needs to be a better standard of behavior, or else all you do is damage the party, and the nation.
DJ, who also complains about "whining" on the part of certain commentors, appears unable to seriously engage the arguments of Miers's detractors, opting instead for charicature and argument about the argument instead of argument about the issue. I stand by my predictions. Time will tell whether the Drummond theory (i.e., "Harriet Miers will be confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court [and] [a]ll the name-calling and spiteful feuding will do nothing to change that") proves correct.

Yes, Polipundit drips with irony these days . . .


I've been paying close attention to the Miers blogging during the course of the week and have a few observations.

First, the not-so-thinly-veiled accusations of sexism emnating from the White House and a few other conservative quarters is downright repugnant. This is the other side's game. I thought we despised the type of politics that seeks advantage through crys of bigotry. I guess I was wrong.

, the stuffy claims of elitism lobbed at those opposing this nomination are silly. Moreover, like the sexism charge, the elitist smear betrays a poverty of reason on the part of those seeking to defend this nomination. There is nothing at all elitist about the desire to take advantage of a signal moment in history with a nomination that recognizes and rewards the decades of hard work invested by well-established conservative judges. Nothing.

Third, arguing in favor of this nomination by reference to Miers's non-judicial pro-life activites (e.g., evangelical church attendance, donations, etc.) is to play the very game we detest, i.e., it is to suggest -- indeed, it is to profess -- that Miers's personal beliefs will influence her judicial decisions. The argument, which the administration appears to believe is its strongest, is beneath contempt.

I have not changed my mind on this nomination. It is an unmitigated disaster. I believe it will be defeated, either by the Senate, or, more likely, by the nominee realizing how desperately bad this kerfluffle is for the President to whom she is loyal. Lastly, for evidence of what this nomination is doing, check out the comments to this DJ Drummond thread over at Polipundit (like most of DJ's post, it is quite windy and more than a little condescending -- read the whole thing if you dare):
And what about Miers? I have read comments from supposed Conservatives denouncing her as “unqualified”, or some who grudgingly admit she is qualified, but claim there are “dozens, even hundreds” of better choices. Seriously, does anybody who makes such insulting and ill-considered comments expect them to be taken seriously? Does anyone who throws out such emotional tripe think this advances the discussion? What exactly are you expecting? Do you think you can call up the White House and force the President to pull his choice in favor of yours? That, people, is not going to happen. If Miers is shot down, Bush will send out another nomination, but it’s still going to be someone he chooses, and you should certainly know by now, Dubya is not a man who settles for being bullied. You choose not to trust him, that’s your loss. You chose to screw around with his work, that just hurts the country.
Apparently DJ is of the opinion that only his "insulting and ill-considered comments" are to be taken seriously . . .

Monday, October 03, 2005

Defeat Miers

We've put up with your gargantuan increases in federal spending. We've tolerated your singularly ham-fisted approach to Homeland security. We've accepted your strategic reluctance to go to the mat on important issues. We've acquiesced in your attempts to reach out to the unreachable. We've given you the benefit of the doubt on many dubious appointees. We've unflinchingly backed you in the GWoT and the battle of Iraq.

And, when it comes to the appointment we care about most, what do we get in return for our loyalty ? Harriet Frickin' Miers. Well, no more. Mr. President, you promised to nominate Justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. This nomination is in the mold of Souter and it will not stand. This is too important for any further benefit of the doubt. You deserve to lose this one. Thanks for nothing, a**hole.