Friday, October 28, 2005

Koran Desecrated

In an orgy of fanaticism and anti-Moslem hate, USA soldiers   a frenzied mob of infidels   Chimpy McHalliburton Bushitler and Karl Rove   someone ripped a whole collection of Korans to pieces, and scattered the pieces around the garden of the mosque that owned them. Howls of outrage have erupted throughout the world, the UN Security Council has called a special session to discuss it, and riots have broken out in Pakistan and Iraq. The White House press secretary has issued an official apology, and Don Rumsfeld has been designated to commit hara-kiri at noon today.

Oops, wait a minute, I think I got that slightly wrong. As it turns out, the books that were destroyed weren't Korans after all; they were only Jewish books, and who cares about those? And they belonged to the Evil Zionist Imperialist Bloodsucking pigs and monkeys Jews of Hebron, so they only got what was coming to them. Never mind.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

If you can't get the real thing...

Instapundit links to R G Combs, reporting on a form letter he received from Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), about an attempt to put some restraint on the pork-barrel process.
I don't know what cuts will be proposed, but it's clearly time for a serious debate, and to jump-start it, I've introduced H. R. 3966, the Simulating Leadership In Cutting Expenditures (or "SLICE") Act.
I thought this was an acknowledgement by Mr Udall that real leadership was not to be had, but he was hoping for at least a simulation; I also wondered whether this was perhaps a not-so-subtle dig at the Bush administration and/or the Republican congressional leadership. Unfortunately, the truth turned out to be much more prosaic - a look at his site revealed that it was just a typo, and the actual title of the bill is "Stimulating Leadership In Cutting Expenditures". Oh well. (Actually, according to both the letter and the press release, it's the SLICE Act; isn't he getting rather ahead of himself, calling it an act instead of a bill?)

UPDATE: Oops, that was embarassing. I didn't finish reading RG Combs's post before posting my response. I now see that he immediately picked up on the same point, and in a subsequent update confirmed that it was indeed a typo. I'd still like some comment on the tendency of congressmen to refer to their bills as acts, as if they'd already passed.

Friday, October 21, 2005

"I like puppies"

...says Glenn

Yes, we know.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

In the Bad Old Days...

...if the MSM reported that something happened, then it happened. If they reported that someone said something, they said it. It didn't matter what actually happened; only those actually involved knew that, and for the other 99.9%, all we had to go on was the word of the MSM.

Things are different now. When the MSM misreport the news, actual eyewitnesses, people who were there and know differently, can tell us exactly what happened. And not just the MSM; bloggers are renowned for fact-checking each other, and when the story spread about the AP photo of a black looter, and the AFP photo of a lighter-skinned couple salvaging stuff they'd found floating in the water, the photographer who took the AFP picture, and wrote the caption, was able to to give his side of the story. Similarly, last week when the AP tried to claim that the President's "teleconference" with some soldiers in Iraq was "staged", one of those soldiers contributed his own eyewitness report.

"It's not like we were trying to pass it off as something it wasn't"

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Why the GOP Keeps Winning

Well, my hope that the GOP might take an awful beating in 2006 or 2008 to teach it a lesson has been dampened by the fact that the Democrats are incapabale from learning from past mistakes. Yesterday unindicted murderer and US Senator Ted Kennedy told the AP he would support John Kerry in 2008. Now, given that John Kerry was by all accounts a terrible candidate, and that he is now universally reviled by many of the big Democratic donors, why would "the Lion of the Senate" back him again? Is it because he really doesn't trust Hillary? Is it because he thinks John Kerry would actually do a better job than any of the other candidates that might come up? I find that unlikely. It's possible, nay likely, that Ted Kennedy's brain is so adled from years of alchohol abuse that he is no longer capable of even the basic patterns of rational thought. Kennedy's next opponent for his Senate seat, be it Republican in the general election or a Democrat in the primary, should trot out Kennedy's continued support of a President Kerry over other Democratic alternatives as evidence that he is no longer mentally capabale of serving in the Senate. Many of known this for years, but a fresh quote always helps.

In other poor ideas from Democrats news, some have asked Al Gore if he intends to run in 2008. Al Gore? Are you kidding me? The guy who should have ran away with the 2000 election, the guy who didn't let the most popular Democrat since JFK campaign for him? This idea has apparently been kicked around at HuffPo and others. Some of the posters there seem smart enough to know Gore isn't the guy they want or need. Still, if he's being touted by ANY Democrats, it's a sign that the party is still too stupid to win anything. Also, Nacy Pelosi is still the House Minority Leader. That hurts any chance the Dems have in 2006. The Left hates the Democratic Leadership Council for various reasons, the most important being that they got one of their founders elected President while the Kos Krowd got all hot and bothered by Howard Dean. Apparently, the Dems are unveiling a Contract With America-esque plan to campaing on in 2006. Read that post and the Kos one, and tell me the people who might support a Dem plan are helpful to their party in general. Guess what? They aren't. Frankly, if the opposition is this pathetic, we're going to be stuck with big-government coservatism for a while. Which kinda sucks. Damn idiot Democrats.

Friday, October 07, 2005

In Praise of the USA Supreme Court

However annoyed we get with the USA Supreme Court, let's remember that we've got off relatively lightly. We could be saddled with the Israeli Supreme Court instead. Compared to it, the worst excesses of the USA judiciary, or even their European counterparts, seem like the very essence of moderation and wisdom. This is their latest insanity.

Copy Editors

Kaus lays into John Carroll for insisting to the LA Times's owners that "copy editors were an important part of making a good paper great", and that they didn't have enough at the Tribune. Kaus sides with the Tribune's position, that a paper can be great without that many copy editors. Personally, I think Carroll is right; copy editors are vitally important. When I moved to New York 10 years ago, and began reading the NY Times daily, the first thing I noticed was that it badly needed more copy editors, and their lack was painfully obvious. Forget about the content, the NYT regularly contains embarrassing editing errors. And when it comes to content, however many copy editors the LAT has, it's clearly not enough, as Patterico demonstrates regularly.

On the other hand, Kaus is right that "good copy editors are hard to find". Jo Walton and her commenters expand on this point at length.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Oh, oh, again

I worried earlier about Roberts's attitude to the Commerce Clause, and Congress's power to stick its nose into anything it cares to. This is hardly encouraging.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Cronyism, Hamilton, and Barnett

Randy Barnett argues that the Miers nomination is exactly what Hamilton, in Federalist #76, says the Senate's power to block a nomination was designed to prevent. He quotes Hamilton (the italics are Barnett's):
To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. . . . He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.
He goes on to argue that "Apart from nominating his brother or former business partner, it is hard to see how the president could have selected someone who fit Hamilton's description any more closely". I beg to differ. I think Barnett is missing Hamilton's point. He says that "the core purpose of Senate confirmation of presidential nominees is to screen out the appointment of 'cronies', which Merriam-Webster defines as 'a close friend especially of long standing'". But as I read Hamilton, I see his purpose as "to prevent the appointment of unfit characters...candidates who had no other merit than" being the president's crony.

Qualified cronies, I don't think Hamilton, or the other framers, would have had much problem with. And Miers is clearly qualified. As Barnett himself says, "I imagine she is an intelligent and able lawyer. To hold down the spot of White House counsel she must be that and more." He goes on to say that she "would be well qualified for a seat on a court of appeals". So she is competent to be a judge, just, in Barnett's opinion, not a Supreme Court judge. But I doubt that that's what any of the framers had in mind as far as qualifications.

The other thing the framers were afraid of, obviously, was that the president would nominate someone who was qualified, but was not of good character. In other words, a crook. Abe Fortas, for instance. Barnett says that "the Senate once successfully resisted President Lyndon Johnson's attempt to nominate his own highly able crony, Abe Fortas, to be chief justice", but as I understand it the problem with Fortas was not that he was Johnson's crony, but that there were serious (and subsequently confirmed) allegations against his integrity. There have been plenty of presidential cronies appointed before, with the senate's consent, and I see no reason why Fortas would not have been able to join their ranks, had the senate been convinced of his honesty. And that is indeed what senate confirmations are for. I'm confident that if Miers had any obvious skeletons in her closet (no, I'm not going there) Bush would not have nominated her, since he would know that it would be bound to come out and cause her not to be confirmed. As Barnett quotes Hamilton, "the possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing". So Miers is a fit character, well qualified to be a judge, and that is all that Hamilton is arguing for in Federalist #76.

UPDATE: Beldar made essentially the same points two days ago. I've been offline since Monday evening, and am only beginning to catch up on what's been going on in the world while I wasn't looking.

Monday, October 03, 2005

"Trust But Verify"?

Beldar seems pretty sanguine about the Miers nomination. He doesn't really know her any more than we do, but the President knows her very well, so from his point of view she's a better bet than someone he doesn't know. He promised us a Scalia or a Thomas, and he's confident that Miers will be like them, and will not turn into another Souter.

Well, that's all very well if you trust the President, both to actually want another Scalia or Thomas, and to know how to pick one. If he'd named Kozinski, or McConnell, or someone like that, we wouldn't have to trust either his intentions or his instincts, since we'd know what we were getting. But with Miers, the President is trying to sell us, you should pardon the expression, a pig in a poke. And I'm not sure that he actually wants another Thomas, or that he knows what it is that makes us like Thomas, let alone that his judgement that Miers will fit the bill is sound. And if she isn't, it will be too late. All confirmations are final. We won't be able to return or exchange her.

That said, the Senate ought to confirm her. The constitution leaves the selection of judges to the president. The senate is not asked for its advice, but only for its consent. The senate is not a partner in the process, in any sense, and is not entitled to express its preferences. Its only role is to act as a check on the president, in case he nominates an incompetent or a crook. And the fact that the senate's consent is needed will almost always dissuade the president from doing so, so in almost all cases the senate ought to be a rubber stamp. Miers appears to be honest, she clearly knows the law, and the president chose her, so she should be confirmed.

The framers of the constitution never dreamed that judicial nominees would actually be called to appear before a committee of the senate, and be questioned on their views. That is a modern practise that began during the death throes of segregation, when Southern senators wanted to try to prevent the appointment of anti-segregation judges. Perhaps it's time the practise was abolished.

Not Wild About Harriet

Another Thomas or Scalia? Somehow I can't picture them donating to Gore, Bentsen or the DNC. I doubt we will find out too much about her ideology. I was expecting an important battle of ideas. Is it too much to hope for a small group of 'wingers to join the left and defeat her? But will Bush nominate anyone better? As you can see I am in denial.