Monday, December 26, 2005

the difference between DC Republicans and DC Democrats

Of course, I could be overly generalizing, and to a degree I am. Nevertheless, I have been doing some thinking over the Christmas break about why things are so messed up and my conclusion is that those in power in DC (the heads of the GOP) fundamentally see government differently than those out of power (the heads of the Democratic Party). Bush, Cheney, Frist, DeLay, Blount, Cunningham...all down the line of leadership posts, those folks see government as a bad thing. Or at least they did before they got the strings in DC. So they have combined their idea of the government will always to do wrong with the idea that we might as well use the government to our advantage. Since the government has no real place in civil society, the federal government should just been a tool to enrich ourselves and our allies, while punishing our enemies.

By constrast, the Clinton administration saw the government as a tool to help the People of the US and the world. They saw the federal government as a well meaning but at times bumbling agency that could in some areas do more good if it turned things over to the private sector.

Bush and his friends saw the government as something that was never really well meaning and that since it never can do good, we might as well use it to be good to us. Privization was not to make the things government does now work better (like deliver the mail) but to enrich donors and other supporters (see Cunningham, DeLay, and the expanding Abramoff scandal). There was no need to place experts in any field in a department, but better to get jobs for folks that helped you get into power (see FEMA and Katrina).

Bush did a great job getting the private aid set up for the South Asian Tsunami and Katrina disasters via his father and his father's old nemisis Bill Clinton. But Bush couldn't and wouldn't get the federal government to do anything to actually help people.

What I am not saying in this piece is that Republicans in general are all theiving scoundrels, but that their leaders are. And that the idea of the federal government is your enemy--an idea that is the foundation of the modern conservatism movement does have a logical link to the cronyism, the war/disaster profiteering, and actual bribery that defines the GOP establishment in our Nation's Capital.

That is not to say that Democrats don't have their own profiteers and scoundrels, but those folks are not power positions, either in government or in the party superstructure, nor do such Democrats exist in such numbers.

The devaluation of what government has led to the situation we find ourselves in now.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Chalabi:Kucinich::Hatch:Lieberman

What do they all have in common? They are losers in the eyes of the electorate.
Preliminary results in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad indicate that Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress scored a minuscule 0.36 percent of the votes.
Out of almost 2.5 million voters in Baghdad, only 8,645 voted for Chalabi.
In the Shiite city of Basra, the results indicate he had an equally dismal showing of 0.34 percent of the vote.
In the violent Sunni province of Anbar, 113 people voted for him.

Ouch! that's got to hurt more than Joe Lieberman finishing fifth in New Hampshire with 9% (and that was his best finish outside Delaware and Connecticut).

Atrios wonders if Rummy et al will start defending Chalabi's claims of massive election fraud. Idiots like Doug Feith and the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee crew might, but they are the biggest jokes out there.

ID and its place in schools

This follow up is a response to commenter "Joe" from the previous post. He made two points, 1) any discussion of philosophy invariably involves a discussion of God or some sort of supernatural explanation for the way the world works and 2) there has to be gaps in the fossil record even assuming what science tells us is true--namely, that the Earth is billions of years old and is very dynamic. I will deal with the second one first as it is the easiest to dispense with.

Joe, when I talked about gaps in the fossil records, I am referring to ID proponents claims that there seems to be sudden changes that cannot be explained by gradual change, ergo creatures must have been created by some intelligent designer (which ID people won't say is the Judeo-Christian God, but let's face it, that's to who they are referring).

Undoubtedly, we cannot trace the evolutionary development of every single species from the dawn of life until present day, due to volcanoes, meters, earthquakes, erosion, etc. But the Plaintiff experts certainly convinced Judge Jones (and me) that none of these "gaps" necessitate that the theory of evolution is flawed. "Dr. Padian’s unrebutted testimony demonstrates that Pandas distorts and misrepresents evidence in the fossil record about pre-Cambrian-era fossils, the evolution of fish to amphibians, the evolution of small carnivorous dinosaurs into birds, the evolution of the mammalian middle ear, and the evolution of whales from land animals." Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board at 85.

In short, the judge analyzed each and every critique of evolution and every critique of ID and came out in the favor of evolution as good science and ID as non-science.

To your first point, that discussions of God and the supernatural are long traditions in philosophy. In the ancient days, philosophy and science were inseperable, they both sought to discover the way the universe works. That's why Aristotle was both a botanist and a ethicist (other than the fact that he was really smart).

In my courses on philosophy (one taught in a German college prep school, another taught at Brown University), we talked about supernatural explanations of things, but never about God or the will of God. That was for religion classes.

Personally, I think scientists do what they do not because they want to be or think they are God(s) but because they are trying to understand God's work. God could have very well created the rules that we call physics, how chemicals react, etc. This still seems consistant with the beginning of the Gospell according to John [which by the way really should be "In the beginning was the idea..." because the word John actually used Logos does not necessarily mean "Word"]. To me, there can still be a creator and Lord of us all without having to disprove or discount evolution. Natural section could be God's way. I truly belive that "everything happens for a reason."

Philosophers, like theologians, are involved in figuring out how one should live their life. But ethics is completely independant of evolution, notwithstanding ID supporter's statements that evolution contridicts "every word in the Bible." Philosophy no longer muses about the origin of life, that is again left to either biology or theology.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Utah legislature: (un)intelligent design

"That ruling won't affect my bill at all. . . . My bill isn't written in that manner," Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, said about yesterday's ruling on intelligence design in Pennslyvania. Buttars wants ID tought in an humanities or philosphy class. That sounds like making a philosphy class a theology class. But, wait it gets worse.

"It does challenge the school board, that they're going to have to rewrite their position on evolution to some degree," Buttars said. "Let me put it this way: There is no consensus in the scientific community regarding how life began . . . (so) to have a teacher teaching how life began and calling it fact really offends me. . . . I'm going to stop that. That's all I'm going to say right now."

From yesterday's Kitzmiller decision: "Despite the scientific community’s overwhelming support for evolution Defendants and ID proponents insist that evolution is unsupported by empirical evidence...[Plaintiff expert and paleontologist] Dr. Padian’s demonstrative slides, prepared on the basis of peer-reviewing scientific literature, illustrate how Pandas systematically distorts and misrepresents established, important evolutionary principles." Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, --F.3d -- (M.D.Pa. 2005) pp.83-84 of Document 342.

I guess Buttars really didn't have time to read this through debunking of ID as any sort of science and that ID backers distort and misrepresent any dispute amoung scientists about evolution. There are no "gaps in the fossil record" and the book "Of Pandas and People" is bad science, even the Defense experts acknowledged that.

Slate's William Saletan, argues that, "Scientifically, [Judge] Jones settles the issue. Culturally, he fails." Perhaps this is a better explaination for why Buttars insists on going forward, despite there being scientific consensus on how life began and developed. There is still cultural debate about how allegorical or literal the Book of Genesis is. Yet the whole ID movement is premised on the idea that you can either believe in God or Darwin, and not both.

One of the Plaintiff's experts, Brown Biology Professor Kenneth Miller, is an ardent Catholic, yet he is one of the leading defenders of Natural Selection and doesn't see it as conflicting with his beliefs. "Certainty of outcome means that control and predictability come at the price of independence." Miller explained to Brown Alumni Magazine. "By being always in control, the Creator would deny His creatures any real opportunity to know and worship Him. Authentic love requires freedom, not manipulation." That freedom, Miller concludes, "is best supplied by the open contingency of evolution, and not by strings of divine direction attached to every living creature."

Miller has even written books about this very notion, called Finding Darwin's God.

But let's get back to public policy. "The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the board who voted for the ID policy," Jones wrote, "The students, parents and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."

And yet, Buttars was well recieved by his GOP collegues behind (of course) closed doors. This is the same group that thinks it is ok for LDS Institutes of Religion to be across the street from High Schools, and to get course credit for it (this has since stopped). Or who stop everything to ban all High School clubs and groups because of gay-straight alliance clubs. The culture wars are winning issues for Utah Republicans, but a losing issue for the progress of society here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cheney thinks we're all Homer

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock. (Cohen, 1996)


VP Dick Cheney, defending Bush's domestic NSA spying sans FISA warrants: "It's not an accident that we haven't been hit in four years." 12/20/05

the golden rule of presidenial power

Thanks to the power hungry Ford Administration veterans like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, along with the Al Qaeda attacks on 9/11, the hotest area of constitutional law these days in executive authority.

Folks like Bill Kristol and John Yoo are arguing that the president has the authority to go above the law and the constitution when there is a threat to national security. Besides the fact that this is utter lies, I would bet any amount of money that had Gore won the recount, and a president Gore done what Bush did with the NSA, these same folks would be screaming bloody murder.

My golden rule is this, if it is something you would grant Richard Nixon/Ronald Reagan/GW Bush to do, it has to also be something you would grant Bill Clinton/Al Gore/John Kerry to do. For example, I am fine with all of their fingers on the button, but I am not cool with all of them locking people up without charges or access to lawyers. Or spying on Americans in the US without a warrant.

First Bush compared himself to Churchill and FDR, but now he is trying to compare himself to the extraconstitutional actions of Lincoln, who ignored supreme court decisions he didn't like and suspended habeas corpus. Not surprisingly, neither action is viewed today as legal and we only don't talk about it so much because he won the civil war and freed slaves.

During the War of 1812, the president didn't have the powers that our does now. And then we were actually being invaded. Washington, DC was aflame. And Lincoln was at war with the Southern states. Bush is at war with an extreme religious ideology that is transnational and decentralized. The Al Qaeda of 2001 is gone, now we have a Hydra-headed organization whose primary goal is to kill Americans, especially American soldiers in Iraq.

Destorying it will take creativity, cunning, and people able to infiltrate parts of the organization; data mining Arabs and extreme left groups isn't the ticket.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bush: "Congress"=4 Senators

Bush and Gonzales claim that they met with and consulted "Congress" several times while wiretapping via the NSA without FISA warrants. Of course, he failed to mention that only 4 senators knew about this, Rockafeller is the only one I know of so far that knew about it. Since Rockafeller was told (and not allowed to consult is staff or committee attorneys) the obstructionist yes man Roberts must have known too. So who else? It wasn't Min. Leader Reid, who found out hours before the story broke (which had been held for a year). My guess, two republicans. I wonder if Jane Harmon in the House knew, or was the Senate Intelligence Committee it?

There was no consultation, there was only we will tell you but you can't tell anyone. If these Senators said no, would the Bush administration have stopped? What kind of details were revealed (whom were they listening to)? If the Senators had leaked the information, I am sure the White House would have pushed to expel them from the committee.

Liberals in the House and Senate are seriously talking about impeachment. I wonder if in 2007 Bush's number will be up.

FEC pay for play

The Bush White House will leave no sector of the federal government under utilized as a carrot or stick for its political agenda. Case in point, the FEC, usually a bastion of party hacks, who collectively agree to let the big parties do whatever they want within reason. But now, Bush has appointed a replacement whose wife just testified before Fitzgerald's Grand Jury on the Plame Affair. How much can we really trust her testimony?

Let's hear from anti-campaign finance reform ex-FEC member (appointed by Clinton) Bradley Smith:

"Lenhard’s name has been in play – indeed, more than in play, the presumptive nominee - for two and a half years, not one. The first scare release was issued back in the summer of 2003.

Of course, the plot could be more devilish than we think. Clearly Lenhard was offered the opportunity to serve on the FEC, knowing that his wife would become a player in the Rove scandal, and then was left hanging by the White House for two years while they made sure that his wife lived up to her end of the bargain.

Will the corruption never cease?"

The end line of this line of logic is that Bush will pardon lots of people say January 2009 and resign a tad early to have Cheney pardon him too.

another reason Gonzales should be dismissed

The strength of a good attorney is not coming up with some argument to defend what you want to do anyway, but to honestly look at the law and give their client the best advice they can. And some times that advice is "don't do it" or "ask Congress for more power" or "sue" to get what you want. But to stretch statutes and the constitution beyond recognition doesn't do anyone any favors.

I guess Bush doesn't care about the law, he just wants to know how he can do what he wants to do. Afterall, this is the same guy that said things would be easier if the US were a dictatorship, if only he were the dictator. And that to me sums up his outlook on the Presidency-- I should be able to do whatever I want to becuase I have good intentions.

Who cares if we are a nation of laws and not men, Bush has looked into their hearts and his own and seen that they are good men and knows they will do what is alright. Just go back asleep and don't worry about a thing, I will keep you safe he says. Only, they have made things much much worse. More groups hate us, and more countries are less stable than they were prior to his actions. We have no support from the rest of the non-bribable world.

Despite their illegal and unconstitutional wiretapping of American citizens, we haven't stopped any plots, we haven't been able to convict anyone. The Bush legal team has been a disaster. I know we haven't stopped any plots becuase we would have heard about it, like we heard about that "sleeper cell" near Buffalo, NY whose only crime was traveling to Afghanistan. As far as I know, they never recieved any orders from Al Qaeda or training, even if they ended up in one of the camps. They held Jose Padilla for about three years without any charges and barely access to attorneys, yet they dismissed criminal charges against him and other than their leaked complaint/information, there was no legal action taken against him.

And who are they spying on anyway, radical Islamic folks? People who makes lots of trips to the middle east? Nope, anti-war protestors. That the best part, those fools can barely organize a rally, and you are worried about them? Wiretapping could save lives when dones against real threats, but you could always get rhetroactive FISA warrants 72 hours after the fact and 99% the courts approve it, and ther other 1%, they just amend the warrant.

So please, explain to me why the President must circumvent the constitution and the US Code, because he means well, because he is a war president? Because Cheney wants to move executive powers back to pre-Watergate levels? No president could lawfully do what this guy is doing, and none should. It doesn't help us, it only hurts America.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

burrying the lede

I will admit, I am a dork. I TiVoed Washington Week because I was out at a law school Christmas party and when I watched it this morning, I was aghast (but not all that surprised) that they chose the Iraqi elections as the lede and talked about Bush personally authorizing NSA easedroppings on American citizens as part of the "Congress, especially Republicans in Congress, are staking out their independence of Bush" meme.

Incredible. Here we have a president flagrantly violating the constitution and all they do is show a clip of Bush talking to Jim Lehrer about how he believes in his heart that it is important to the war on terrorism. So? It would be really helpful to pull people off the streets who we have some information that they might be drug dealers to the War on Drugs, but we don't do that, because we need a warrant first. Or, there are plenty of exigent circumstances were you don't even need a warrant...but 4th Amendment be damned, Bush doesn't even bother.

It would be one thing if the congress went along with it, like the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, but here only a few members of Congress signed off on it. Who? The Chairs of the Intelligence Committees? The ranking members too? The entire committtee? The House and Senate Leadership? Who are they to speak for congress on such a vital issue of constitutional law? A handfull of congresscritters in a room does not a qurom make.

I hope historians look back on 2005 and say this was the year that turned the tide, when Americans woke up started demanding a more accountable President, a more responsive, powerful Congress, a solution for Iraq, an end to corruption and cronyism. In 2006, this feeling may help Democrats regain Congress, but it will ultimately help America. Democrats deserved to be kicked out of power in 1994, many who were thrown out were arrogant, out of touch, and corrupt. Some good ones were lost, and some terrible ones held on because of their position and incredibly favorable district. But one gets the feeling that it is 1994 all over again 12 years later. I just hope if Democrats regain control of the chambers that they won't succumb to the lure of power as much or as quickly as Republicans did.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

middle east musings

The first thing that set me off to write today was idiotic statement Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who said that 1) the holocaust was a "fairy tale" and 2) that Israel should pick up and move to Europe or North America. Let's deal with them one at at time shall we? Gen. Eisenhower specifically visited and recorded his visits to consentrations camps because he wanted to make sure the world never forgot and never pertended that 6 million jews just dissipeared. Does Ahmadinejad really need a tour of Dachau and the rooms of shoes, suitcases, and the like? Does he need to go see the ovens, and the bones that are still inside? Does someone need to dig up the mass graves for him to peer into? How much more proof do you need? It would be a pretty amazing stunt to make 6 million people just vanish and have all this archival footage and consistant survivor/perpetrator memories and tatoos etc. and have the massacre not be true.

Maybe Ahmadinejad can't stand the idea of Jews outvictiming Muslims. Most middle east countries with muslim control maintains its power by using the plight of the palistians, and blaming everying on Western Imperalists. True, the British and French are to blame a lot that is wrong in the middle east, including putting the house of Suad in charge, and divving up borders to match up with oil pipeline routes, not ethnic or religious groups.

Secondly, Ahmadinejad is an idiot for saying if the US and EU "believe" in the holocaust so much, we should carve out turf for Israel given all the wrongs that the Germans "purportedly" did to the Jews. While 10 men and a torah equals a congration, a whole bunch of Jews in one spot doesn't equal Israel (it probabbly means Ghetto, notice you never hear of little Israel, but you hear of little Tokyo or Chinatown or little Italy). The idea of Israel is based on the land of Canaan itself. If you were to read almost any part of the Torah Ahmadinejad, you would see reference after reference to that piece of land.

The problem facing the land of Canaan is that both Jews and Palistians have pretty much equal right to be there. One can go back and say my people had it first, but how accurate are these records anyway, and should that really be the basis of a who gets to live where? Somehow both groups need to learn to live together. There isn't much mystery as to the best way to do it--all these peace plans are basically the sam e thing--it just take willingness to sacrifice on all parties the goal of getting it all. Ideally, the country would be one with islamic law and the talmud coexisting and some basic law that apply to both sets of peoples (and the various christians or others that choose to live there). Threatening one side with an atomic bomb will never win the debate.

And on to Lebanon, where moronic Syrian thugs again killed another prominant anti-Syrian politican. The predictible result: 300,000 Lebanese mourners marched through cities denouncing Syria. Just when things had died down and people were forgetting about Lebanon and Syria, Syria makes it worse by trying to rid itself of a foe. Meanwhile, even dumber neo-cons still think Syria is next on the list of nations to invade and occupy. Do they really have no clue how badly things have gone, how stretched US forces are, how little support they have with the American people (let alone the world)?

And finally, Iraq. Today the purple fingers return, and not much will really change. For all Bush's talk about how an artificial time table is bad for withdrawl, we already have one--the crazy election/constitution schedule. After a few months, Bush will claim victory/sucess and get out, say around September or October. Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders are purposely not adaquately arming or training their personel because they hope that will stall US troop withdrawl. Silly Talibani, Bush never really means what he says.


Today is my 700th post, wow, how times fly. On my way to work, I saw a man at a stoplight holding a sign saying "Why are you polluting the air?" and then flipped the sign to show the horrible air quality rating (106 particulates per whatever I think it said) of the Wasatsch Valley these past view days. The funny thing was, I hate driving. I had just dropped off my wife and was going to work via car only because I don't think I should have to take 2 bus lines that never match up in the cold (and on the way back, dark) to get from home to work. We choose where we lived so that we could be close to downtown and the University and I otherwise take public transit most days or walk. This guy picked the wrong motorist.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

southern discomfort

sorry for the long no post period faithful readers. This weekend was one shopping bonanza after another. The Apple Store came to Salt Lake and my wife had her birthday on Monday. In between long errand runs, I have been working on a paper for Judge McConnell's course on the constitution 1793-1861.

The thesis I have come up with is that all these debates after the first few Congresses were little more than Kabuki theater to protect slavery. It is amazing the lengths to which smart men wasted their brains trying to come up with arguments and rationales for doing something that they belived would preserve their immoral and backwards system. Thousands and thousands of men lost their lives in the Civil War because of this as well.

It seems the U.S. has been placating southerns for quite some time. Our modern version of this is that presidents can't get elected unless they win southern states. Majority leaders in the Senate and House and President Bush all claim former slave states as their homes. How has the south been so sucessful in maintaining its disportionate dominance of the country since the birth of the nation? As big as Florida and Texas are, most of their growth is coming from Middle and South America, and not white flight.

Don't get me wrong, I have been to many parts of the South and have friends from places like Georgia and North Carolina and I like most of it. Heck, my parents in law live in Virginia. Yet I could never see myself living there. And it isn't just the weather that bothers me, no there is some general feeling that I don't belong there, even though I am a red head and from a state that sided with the Confederacy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Western Democrat speaks out

How the West was lost and where it got us: on the need for a separate agenda for Rocky Mountain States

Federal presence:

Unlike other parts of the country, where the federal government is seen regularly only in the form of the post office, the federal government is the biggest landholder in the West. Eighty-eight percent of all the Nation's federal public land (including National Parks, Wilderness Areas, and National Forests) resides in the West. While these lands are managed for the public nationwide, laws, policies and management decisions for public lands disproportionately impact those living, both economically and socially, in the Western states. Western residents and communities depend upon public lands for tourism income and economic support from federal resource-dependent industries, water supplies, flood protection, resource use and/or extraction, wildlife habitat, recreation, hunting and fishing, and aesthetic values. Although the management of federal lands under current statutory authority and policies has generally been effective in assuring resource sustainability while providing for multiple use, it has become inefficient and frustrating to both the public and to land managers.

As a result of a top-down approach to public lands, great antagonism has been directed toward the "party of big government"- Democrats. In fact, some of the most Republican districts in the country lie directly on these same Federal lands.

Instead of siding with either environmentalists or ranchers, farmers, and developers, a Third Avenue is to create solutions revolving around increased state and local control without neglecting legitimate environmental concerns.

Water allocation and rights:

Although the Eastern seaboard of the US is currently experiencing a drought, Western states still receive scant rainfall. The competition for this scarce, life-giving natural resource pits ranchers and farmers against city-dwellers and divides states.

The Endangered Species Act also disproportionately impacts Westerners. The constraints on water use, logging, mining, and other natural resources to protect endangered species such as the suckerfish or the spotted owl has led to conflicts and tensions.

felons and life after prison

There's an ongoing trend of late to prevent ex-felons from reintegrating into society. Many states, like Florida, won't let them vote, most companies won't hire ex-cons, and same goes with most public institutions, whether by statute or in practice. In someways, what is the point of letting them out if you won't let them be part of the outside world?

Some argue that by committing a felony, these people have waived their right to vote, and to work in certain industries etc.

Something we can all agree on though, they shouldn't be attorneys (especially not criminal defense attorneys). In Arizona, a man who shot and killed two people in a drug-related drug robbery tried to get admitted to the bar. The AZ supremes said no thanks. I have to say though, he did pass the bar and did graduate from an ABA acredited law school (oh and he got his bachelor's behind bars too). You can't fault the man for not trying to make himself better. And hey if he can do it, why can't I?

In their opinion, the judges cited ex-cons refusal to take responsibility or appologize for what he did. The article says his sentence was commuted, why?

Monday, December 05, 2005

keep Katrina front page

sorry for the long no posting period, and thanks for the comments on my last post. Iraq vis a vis Vietnam is a tough nut to crack. These last couple days we have been smelling gas from our vents, so we had the gas company out and they traced the leak to our heater on the roof. Since then, it has rained and snowed for several days. Our heat has been shut off and no repairmen will dare climb up and fix it. The home owner's insurance company at least gave us $75 for space heater, but we spent the last couple days at my parents house in the canyon. And as a result of the cold, the lack of food, lack of company, and old age, our pet fish died.

And while we morn our loss and lement our cold, I can't help but think of the hundreds of thousands of homeless people as a result of Katrina. How the federal government failed them by not building the levees past catagory 3, by not getting help and supplies out there for days. For leaving the poor, mostly black populace to die.

It was just Friday that former residents of the lower 9th ward got to visit their homes for a brief moment or two (called a "look and leave") Almost everything was destoryed by the salt water, the mold, and neglect. How come Bush could interrupt his vacation to sign the Terri Shaivo bill, but couldn't be bothered to stop his San Diego sing-a-long to help the victims of Katrina.

A whole city was destroyed. A bustling metropolis of over 1.2 million people now has population of 70,000. My buddy who went to Tulane law isn't going back, he is transfering to BYU law (because Utah Law won't let him transfer), and I imagine lots of people won't move back. There are lots of ideas of how to fix the city, by raising it up, making the levees catagory-5 proof, or Denny Hastert's idea, abandoning it.

Whatever we do, we can't ignore the problem or pretend its been solved by time. There is now a Katrina cough because of the excessive mold spores there. Whole neighborhoods are beyond repair. There is a profound sorrow that makes profiteers like Mike Brown even more disgusting than their incompetence.

Friday, December 02, 2005

binded by the past

Does the Democratic Party's experience during and after Vietnam have any baring on what it should do now? For three years, the DLC has said so. When I was a staffer there, we had an internal meeting with senior staff letting the junior staff ask questions about the then impending war. Will Marshall insisted it was all about the WMD's and how we couldn't take the risk that Saddam might give them to some terrorists. Us youngins said why would he be so stupid to do that, and anyway it doesn't seem like Saddam has any WMDs anyway, why not have inspections with the threat of military strikes?

And then one of them, maybe it was Ed Kilgore, made the point that Ed Kilgore of 2005 says, it looks bad. The DLC was founded after watching democrats fall flat on their face after being hijacked by the overly liberal wings of the party who appeared weak to middle America's eyes. They saw the Iraq war as a chance to show that democrats are tough and they can be trusted with National Security, something they haven't trusted with since about the Cuban Missle Crisis. It was this good faith, honest belief and effort that drove them to support this terrible war.

Maybe it is a generational thing and since I wasn't alive during the late 60s and early 70s I don't have their superior perspective. But unlike their liberal counterparts, I am not stuck in the mode of equating every war to Vietnam either. Having only older collegues, my parents, and scholarly work to rely on about that era, I don't know if the two are that similar or if history is repeating itself. It is easy for baby boomers to equate the two: they were against the one and for the other. It makes them feel like they are gaining back their idealism by opposing the war at this late stage.

Perhaps Kilgore is right in that the only difference between "benchmarked withdrawal from Iraq based on estimated dates, and a timetable withdrawal contingent on benchmarks" is tone and image. But can't we explain that one policy is better than the other and that neither is "cutting and running?" Are Americans so easily brainwashed by repetitive talking points that Democrats aways cut and run?

The fact is, we are getting out of Iraq soon, the GOP can't afford to keep going at this pace without sacrificing their majorities in Congress and eventually the White House for George W. Bush's attempt to reverse his father's faults. The fact that Bush's plan is Sen Joe Biden's and reality might look a lot like the fall of Siagon in 1972 seems to me that the outcome politically will be different.

Democrats fought against themselves for the most part on Vietnam, with Southern conservative democrats supporting the war for the most part, and liberals from the coasts opposing it. Nixon took over the war that he never started it with a "secret plan" to get us out with dignity and while the results weren't very dignified, his party didn't pay the price. Will George W. Bush's? Who supported it ever step of the way, spinning bad facts month after month? Democrats did split over the war but they all seem to agree that it is going badly and we need to get out.

Kilgore says
The lesson is this: So much as many of us might wish to focus on the policy details of proposals about what to do now in Iraq, you can't take the politics out of politics, and the "tonal" or "contextual" implications of various proposals, despite their substantive similarity, matter a great deal.

Or is the lesson that we need a post-Vietnam generation of leadership on both sides, one that won't see everything from this prism? Perhaps he is right, until the voting population is more post-Vietnam than Vietnamers, we will keep having to relive that war through every national security decsion we make.

TX reredistricting illegal

in our latest we should be shocked but somehow we aren't segment, internal DOJ staffers disgruntled with the blatantly partisan hacks above them leaked their memo to the Washington Post.

It was the unnanimous conclusion of the DOJ staff attorney's in the election law section that Tom "indicted" DeLay's power grab violated the law...yet higher ups overrulled them. It even forced these people to sign gag orders to prevent them from talking about it.

All this comes in the wake of the Supreme Court stalling on its announcement of what to do about the TX redistricting case before it. While juries aren't supposed to read newspapers to arrive at their decisions, I sure hope the court's law clerks and justices are. And I hope it turns at least one hard heart around. The last time a redistricting case like this was heard
Vieth v. Jubelirer
[caution, PDF of lengthy opinion] on the Penn. redistricting that was almost as egregious, the court said partisan redistricting is ok by a 5-4 vote. Maybe CJ Roberts will have too much respect for the law and these staff attorneys to look the other way, but it is pretty unlikely alas.

However, one could argue that the two cases are different. Here is not just partisanship for the sake of gaining seats, but at the expense of minorities. Texas went from 30 to 32 seats, but there remained only 11 minorities in their delegation. Moreover, the representation lost 5 democrats in 2004, who supported minorities' interests, even if the representatives are themselves white.

This case needs to say that it was the wrong thing to do on minority rights grounds AND that reredistricting itself is illegal. Otherwise, every time a state legislature changes political hands, parties will be tempted to reredistrict mid-decade, using increasingly inaccurate census data. For example, millions more people live in Texas in 2003 (especially Hispanics) when the reredistricting occured than when the 2000 census was conducted. By relying on old data, you effectily disinfrancizing and weighting some votes more heavily than others. This violates the 1 person, 1 vote holding of Reynolds (which incidently ScAlito seems to want to overturn) set out by the Warren court.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

ScAlito's farce ends

Remember when ScAlito's job application surfaced with his proclaimations that he would like to overturn the Warren court, especially the 1 man, 1 vote rule, and oh by the way Roe was wrongly decided? And then, get this, despite having authored a dissent of the last key abortion case (Casey v. Planned Parenthood), he claimed that he was just saying whatever he could to get a job with the solicitor general's office during the Reagan years? Oh what a laugh. Liberals didn't believe him, but of course, the press had to report it as if it was fact because...well don't ask why.

Then FOIA request by the liberal judicial group People for the American Way uncovered an internal ScAlito memo while in said Reagan solicitor general's office trying to convince his boss to file a Amicus brief in support of an abortion restriction. He thought they should use the brief to promote "the goals of bringing about the eventual overturning of Roe v. Wade, and in the meantime, of mitigating its effects." And more importantly, to "make clear" to the Supreme Court that we "disagree with Roe v Wade," and "would welcome" the opportunity to brief the issue of overturning it.

So the fake lie has been exposed for all to see. Now remember polls said that if ScAlito was in favor of overturning Roe that the Senate should not vote for him/fillabuster him. If he was for restrictions, well that was a closer issue and moderates could agree to some reasonable limitations. It would seem then that this should be all that pro-choice senators need to vote against ScAlito and possibly even fillabuster him.

The showdown begins in little over a month.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

the invisable 2008 primary

Warner made a big spash by prevent Virginia from executing 1,000th person...with help from Ex specical prosecutor Ken Starr and his old oposition for Governor Mark Earley. The merits of case were good for Warner to have it both ways, but appearing concerned about innocence but without really weakening on death penalty, saying clemency should be granted only when the courts have failed to do proper justice. To me this seems like a semi-slap in the face to George Ryan and his mass clemancy of the entire death row in IL.

It was the political play of the week and it is only Tuesday. Warner leaves a good legacy in VA and has a solid base to run from in 2008. His speech on Iraq seemed wanting to many liberals but really inside the Clark-Clinton continum exit policy. This was a great rebound.

the idea free presidency

This week, President Bush is dusting off his immigration policy in typical fashion: all vagueries and platitudes, no specifics. Why no details, it is not as Bush tells the press, because of his view of the constitutional roles that the executitve and legislative branches play, rather, it is a way to sneak in radicial changes and radical policy that would otherwise be unpopular with either his base or the American people. This way he can say one thing to the Pat Bucanan's of his party and another to his Chamber of Commerce friends.

But what is really striking about all this is that the President has done absolutely nothing innovative. Everything he has proposed is either an idea from his 2000 campaign, something he stole from moderate democrats (NCLB, Rx drugs, homeland security, exit plan for Iraq, etc.), or retreads from past presidents (like JFK and the Moon, Reagan and Star Wars).

The only aberation was 9/11, and most of that legislation was created out of the Ashcroft Justice Department and the Cheney West Wing, dedicated to torture, privacy evasion and tossing out the Geneva Convention.

I am all for people doing what they campaign on, but it wasn't like Bush's campaign promises were fulfilled either. Washington has become more corrupt, more partisan, and the White House has been dragged further in the mud by George W. Bush's presidency and tactics than Bill Clinton's. Foreign policy promises of 2000 were banished rapidly and 9/11 was no excuse for the massive military buildup and invasion of Iraq. If anything, the military needed to get more nimble and smarter, not more missles and tanks and planes and helocopters. Environmental promises were banishes, as were all efforts to work with Democrats and concilate.

Instead of having a bold new idea of how to get himself out of his unpopularity, Bush went to the bare cubard and found one dusty can of "immigration reform" which is sure to make the Tom Tancredo's of the world very upset and never really please Hispanics or big business really.

The much ballihooed State of the Union will be a laudry list of fake accomplishments, vagueries and platitudes. I expect nothing new out of this president since he never arrived with any real ideas in the first place.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Post headlines GOP-favored

The Washington Post captions it as McDonnell Wins Attorney General Race, but the real title should be "323 vote win for McDonnell in VA AG race, Deeds requests recount." That would be a better summary and more accurate depiction of what happened.

Here is another example, Medicaid Cutbacks Divide Democrats. Why focus on Democrats when it is also moderate republicans that balk at some of the provisions.

I think it is a good idea for Medicare to make it harder for rich people to hide their assets from the government to gain Medicare coverage, but I think it is a bad idea to
...save $2.4 billion over five years by allowing state governments to impose higher health insurance deductibles, co-payments and premiums on poor Medicaid recipients, including, for the first time, impoverished children and pregnant women. An additional $3.9 billion would be saved by relaxing mandated preventive health care and screening of children and pregnant women.

These savings asume that heath care costs won't be higher at the other end by the inevitable illnesses that children and pregnant women will have that won't be caught by mandated screening. And that $2.4 billion will be coming out of the pockets of those already too poor to afford normal insurance...do we really think that people won't drop out of the program as a result of hiking the premiums?

Why not let those who want to be in medicare via hiding assets buy their way into the system. And how about letting Medicare use its bulk purchasing power to lower the costs of pharmauticles? A good way to save hundreds of billons would be to scrap the prescription drug plan as passed and start over with a real one that will actually cover people and actually cut costs overall.

Here's a third: Rep. Cunningham Enters Guilty Plea, Resigns why not add the big part in there? How about "Cunningham Pleads Guilty to $2.4M in Bribes, Resigns" The first draft of this blog post by Chris Cillizza talked mosly about the tax evasion charges steming from a bribe of a house and boat via various defense industry lobbyists...seemingly an attempt to make the issue confusing and not as damning as bribery for defense contracts during a war. He also tried to equate Democratic Reps. Ballance and Jefferson to GOP Reps. Ney and DeLay. And there is a big difference between a 1st term rep doing something terrible and allegations of a more senior one and what Cunningham, Ney and DeLay, members of the house leadership have done. Cunningham and Ney look to have taken bribes. DeLay and Ney were involved a scheme to push GOPers into K street and Democrats out and meanwhile extort campaign contributions from Native American tribes, and large corporations in exchange for favorable legislation.

That is the the nature of corruption folks. There is no need to muddy the waters but parrotting party talking points. Why not say GOPers compare this to Jefferson and Balance, but here are the differences judge for yourself reader, instead of substituting your opinion or actual facts for dueling press releases? I mean really, how hard is it to report a story?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

greeting the seasons

I go out of town for the week, leaving fall and 40s and 50s to 20s and 30s and winter. My welcome back consisted of snowy skies and sleepy streets.

As much fun as it was to see civil war sites, eat great food, and visit the in-laws, I think we are happy to be back. We love our home and this is such a great city.

I am still pretty sleepy though after getting about 5 hours of shut eye and traveling since 7 AM eastern. It is time to get out the winter coats, sweaters and put away those flimsy coats. And time to get out the Christmas decor. Tonight I am reading a passage from Isaiah [40:1-15] at lessons and carrols; advent has begun.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving roundup

hello there...sorry for not posting this week. I am at my in laws out of state and studying for the various finals I have in the coming weeks.

I was reading the Richmond Times-Dispatch this week and it was interesting to see how they talked about Gov.-elect Kaine, who is fulfilling at least one campaign promise by having town hall meetings about transportation around the state of VA. The writers seemed to suggest that the consensus of the Richmond meeting was that people didn't want higher taxes since no one mentioned it, yet that Kaine wanted higher taxes since he referenced the last time the state seriously addressed the issue and said it was solved with higher taxes.

Personally, I don't think Virginia can built its way out of the traffic mess with more freeways. They really just need to make their cities, especially near DC, more commuter friendly by expanding the Metro, Rapid Transit Buses, and VRE (the commuter rail lines that go all the way to Fredericksburg). It seems like everyone has a car and they all want to drive it on the roads right now.

My daily outrage is Justice Scalia's comments about Bush v. Gore. In typical GOPer fashion of late, he blames someone else for his mistake. "The election was dragged into the courts by the Gore people. We did not go looking for trouble." What was really at stake was not who won rather, "The issue was whether Florida's Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court [would decide the election.] What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough?" How about turn the case down because the Florida Supreme Court got it mostly right.

Gore's people should have challenged statewide and the FL court told them as much but I really don't know why a Federal court should decide state election law.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"I was for medicare before I was against it"

Late last night, those 20-odd GOP congress buckled under pressure and the budget passed, sans ANWAR. Like the 1993 budget, this was a completely partisan affair with no support from one party, which predicited dire results.

This time, the naysayers are right. Why does the GOP-controlled congress feel the need to screw poor people so openly, not to pay for Katrina, but to pay for $70 billion in tax cuts for the rich? There couldn't be a starker contrasts between the parties right now. I am ever so proud of Democrats, conservative and liberal sticking together on this one.

Especially Utahs most popular politican--Democrat US Rep. Jim Matheson! Well the poll isn't that great becuase the stats are suspect to a degree. The margin of error in each congressional district was 8 percent and the number polled was really low--130-145. So perhaps Governor Huntsman is more popular. But Matheson is much more popular than Chris Cannon or Rob Bishop, who hover around 50 percent. Of course, part of that is a high number of people who don't know who they are. Yet those morrons still get reelected because they are Republicans. Amazingly, Bush has a a disapproval rating of 36 in Utah, which is about his popularity rating in the rest of the county. Below is a more detailed run down.

Someday, I hope Jim runs for Senate, I would love to have him suceed Watergate waterbody Bob Bennett and horrific hypocrite Orin Hatch.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

the corruption of fame

Woodward and Bernstein--it used to be the phrase that meant all that is good about journalism. The kind of team of truth seakers that would be willing to take down a Presidency if that's where the truth lead them.

But the very act of causing Nixon's dismise was the at once the pincle and downfall of Woodward's journalistic career. He became a celebrity, someone to go on Larry King Live and to write bestseller after bestseller, getting in so close to those high up in power.

The price he paid was his journalistic integrity, and in my opinion, his soul. To write a slightly nasty book about the Iraq War, he first wrote a bootlicking love letter to the George W. called "Bush at War." To maintain this access, he was a waterboy for Colin Powell, who wanted to erase over his UN speech or other duplicious acts in support of the War. Woodward was a water carrier for Libby and Cheney, obstructing a grand jury investigation to stay cozy with his sources.

People died and our national security was placed at grave risk so that Woodward could rake in some more money selling books. He even pre-wrote his Deep Throat book to keep Bernstein from co-authoring the book on how they worked with the man and go the story. What a self-serving prick.

Woodward to me symbolizies everything that is wrong with Washington--who you know and can talk to versus what they actually have to say. How much you make versus what you have do to make that money. Opinion and "balance" over truth. Having power versus helping people. I agree with those who say most senators are grandstanding fools who don't know anything beyond what their staff just wrote for them, Woodward is a grandstanding fool who should know better given what he once achieved.

I just hope that the Post fires him and that Bernstein writes the book about what it was like to work with Woodward during the story of the century. Something tells me that Bernstein did all the work, while Woodward did all the ego stroaking.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

notes from a patriot

one of the would be 3Ls at my law school was called up to serve in Iraq. I believe he was Army ROTC in college and he kept telling people that he knew this was part of the deal when he signed up.

For veteran's day, the students have been trying to send out a care package to him. Here are portions of his reply, edits were made to keep him safe:
Fortunately, we don’t need much of anything here. So many people have sent care packages that we have toiletries to last us a decade. The amenities are great too. I’m fortunate enough to be based out of [redacted], a state of the art military camp that even has two swimming pools, a movie theater and [...a] basketball court [...]. Food is plentiful; we have stores; we have everything we need.

Don’t get me wrong. Frankly, Iraq sucks. I much rather take a civil procedure exam from [redacted] than convoy through some of the streets here. (1Ls, you will shortly find out what I mean). But this is a war, and for all its savagery, things aren’t so bad.


Instead of asking for something for himself, our student asked us to do something else:
First, Vote!!! Vote on any election you have the right or privilege to cast a ballot. Whether municipally or nationally, vote. For better or worse, we are here now and we are going to make the best out of it. But having seen the conditions under which most Soldiers are serving here, and having been through two years of Socratic grilling at the U, I can’t help but question whether we came for the right reasons at the right time. At bottom, we reason that the American citizenry voted in support of attacking. However superficial, this logic is the best we got. So vote!

Second, and more pragmatically, instead of sending us stuff, send small toys for us to distribute to the local kids. It’s amazing how far a toy goes. I’ve had the opportunity to travel along on many civil affairs missions and I can tell you that even if only for a minute a toy seems to take these kids away from this ravaged place. These missions have obvious tactical advantages too. But more importantly, they give us the opportunity to put a different face to the coalition. Animal beanie babies are the safest bet, given cultural sensitivities. Hard candy, pens and crayons are also helpful. UofU stickers will also help us broaden our fan base.

Well, I am sure that it is more likely that Sunni and Shia Muslims of Iraq can unite as Ute fans than Cougar fans.

Personally, I have a lot more respect for this student now than I ever did when he was at the law school whining about pens and bubble sheets every 5 emails.

Friday, November 11, 2005

flop of the times

It is the talk of the leftblogosphere: increasing numbers of 2008 Democrats and past staunchly pro-war candidates have said that if they knew then what they know now about pre-war intelligence, that they wouldn't have voted for the Iraq war resolution. The liberal blogs have made such a conversion a litmus test to any Democrat seeking the nomination in 2008, and so far John Edwards, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Dick Gephardt, and a few others have jumped at the command.

Or so it seems. These folks are not reacting to the online activists, rather, they are just politicans looking at the polls. They were in favor of the war when people approved of it 60-40 and now that people are against it 60-40, they are against it to. This latest stance is just a DC consultant correographed pivot.

This is not to say that many of them might actually believe in their stance both times, but their underlying motivation is to do what the masses want or what polls say they want.

Real test shouldn't be how you voted or would have voted in 2002, it should be what your plan is for solving the mess we are in right now. Many faulted Wesley Clark for being vague in his plan, but it was a heck of a lot clearer than George W. Bush's. If someone like Tom Daschle actually wins the nomination, we can count on at least 4 more losing years. But if we get someone like Clark or Warner out there, we at least have a good shot.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Strategery

As happy as I am that Virgina and New Jersey will continue to have competant leadership and hateful campaigning was trounced, I am puzzled about why Bush decided at the last minute to campaign for VA GOP candidate Jerry Kilgore.

I mean, a few months after 9/11, Bush decided not to campaign for Early, was running against Mark Warner. Warner eeks out a victory and Bush saves his political capital for more tax cuts and more war down the road. 4 Years and 2 months after 9/11, and Bush races home from a terrible reception at the summit of the americas to campaign for VA AG Jerry Kilgore in a hanger in Virginina. And yet Bush at this time is WAY more unpopular than he was in 9/11. And Kilgore loses by more than Early.

The math just doesn't add up from a political strategy standpoint. +90% approval, and you pass up getting more Republican governors, especially in states with 9/11 victims as residents commute to NYC and DC. 35-40% approval, and you do a one stop whistle stop campaign.

I guess the Bush team was hoping that Jerry would pull it off, and they could claim credit. And Jerry was glad that it was so close to election day that the majority of Virginians that don't approval of Bush wouldn't notice and those who did would come out and vote. I guess they both were wrong, since Tim Kane is governor elect.

No matter how much Kilgore tried to make it about the death penalty, gays, illegal immigrants, and other wedge issues, people voted for Kaine because they wanted 4 more years of Warner-eque competent government. If only the Virgians of 2005 were the voters of 2000 in swing states across the country, we would be talking about President Al Gore more.

Speaking of presidents, Mark Warner can now begin his presidential campaign. I would say he is my second choice behind Wesley Clark. And if the ticket were Clark/Warner or Warner/Clark, I would be happy.

newer isn't better

Today I walked to my local polling place and voted for Ms. House because "Eric!" failed to respond to an email I sent to his office last year about a problem I had with the trash/recycling. I had enough trouble figuring out the punch card balloting, and eriliy enough in 2000, when voting absentee, I thought to rip off my chad that might have made my vote not count.

But across the country, voters are having difficulties with the Diebolt voting machines. And it isn't just left-wing conspirators, in California, Gov. Schwarzenegger had to cast a provisional ballot for his own intiatives, voters in Virginia couldn't get the machine to let them vote for Democratic candidate for Governor LG Tim Kaine, and Ohio is always problematic. This time, they couldn't find the memory cards.

I think this is going to be a good year across the nation for Democrats: most of the California intiatives will fail (the redistricting scheme was flawed), Most of the reform Ohio Now ballot initiatives will suceeed (I pray that the redistricting one will pass), and we will have Gov. Corzine and Gov. Kaine soon. At least, those are my predictions.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hot lesbian cheerleaders?

In a rare intersection between football, cheerleaders, and gay rights (and it is not a porn movie), two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders were kicked off for having sex with each other in a Tampa Bay bathroom.

A woman was getting upset that they were hogging the stalls and taking so long, and one of the cheerleader punched that woman in the face.

"The cheerleaders were kicked off the team Monday for violating a signed code of conduct, Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said. The two violated a rule that bans conduct that's embarrassing to the team or organization."

What was embarrassing? Engaging in gay sex? punching a woman? Doing it in a bathroom stall? If so, many players should be suspended...like the whole Minnesota Vikings team.

How much do you want to bet either a porn like this has already been made, and if not, will soon? It just goes to show how all those fantasies of players and cheerleaders are just that.

like Bush, like Huntsman

In Utah, this is a compliment still. Yet looking over the longer time range, it is a mistake to hire mostly corporate folks and pay them way more than most government empoyees. The Salt Lake Tribune discovered that
The average salary of a Huntsman staffer is about $10,000 more than what was offered by former Gov. Olene Walker and $13,000 more than the average pay in former Gov. Mike Leavitt's office. These average salaries only count employees paid by the Governor's Office or those who work for the lieutenant governor.

I would just like to think of all the great things these corporate types accomplished for Bush: record spending, record deficits, gross incompetence on matters of life and death, image over substance, etc. Not a good omen to be sure.

And as true fiscal conservatives point out, "The only way that this could be justified is if these new people generate some serious and quantifiable improvements in how the state operates," said Mike Jerman, vice president of the business-backed Utah Taxpayers Association. "Justifying salaries based on the size of government is a built-in incentive to grow government."

Ironic isn't it, that business is attacking its own. Huntsman is the CEO governor like Bush was the CEO governor and then CEO president. Look how well it worked out for Texas and the U.S. Both men's main claim to business fame is that they shared their rich and famous dad's name. Hopefully, Huntsman won't drive this state into the ground like Bush is did in Texas and now is working hard to do on a national scale.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Republican embarressment roundup

ex-FEMA head/current FEMA Consultant, was caught whining about being stuck in the mess Katrina (and he) created saying get me out of here. Not only was he incompetent, but he thought he was more important than the hundreds of thousands of others of people.

Andy Card's people in the white house are talking to the Post, saying Rove needs to go. If Card et al win and Rove is gone, there is no Lazerus left in George W. Bush, these people are too stupid to govern or to spin properly.

Oh and Libby was arraigned. And Karl isn't off the hook.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


A belated Happy Halloween! I said bad stuff about Halloween in my prior post, but at least we learned our doorbell was broken. And the little kid I saw in an Elmo costume was pretty cute. But we bought too much candy. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 31, 2005

McConnell heart Scalito

I learned today that my professor worked with Alito at the Solicitor General's office back in the Reagan days. McConnell had many good things to say about Judge Sam, but you could tell he was a bit sad that it wasn't him.

How sad to see your chance come and be passed up three times. I think he would have been a good nominee in terms of getting the judge the right wanted, while getting an easy confirmation. It must be hard, one must wonder what opinion or article I wrote pissed the white house off. I wonder if he met with anyone at the White House.

I hope everyone will enjoy Holloween, becuase I think it is a dumb holiday for everyone over trick or treating age. It let's women dress like whores, men wear dresses, people get drunk and hook up, teens to scare children and destory property.

Is Scalito Radioactive?

Judge Sam Alito's lone dissent on Casey is about as obvious a signal about abortion as possible. This is really is the time to see just how moderate some Republicans really are. Will Specter vote against him based on "super precedent?" What about Chafee, Snowe, or a handfull of other moderate GOPers?

Some think we will be seeing the nuclear option evoked, some see this nominee losing on the floor of the Senate. For all of those Naderities who said there was no difference between Bush and Gore, I would like to make Scalito my exhibit A.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The mysterious 35%

No matter how bad things get for President Bush, he will seemingly always have a little over a third of the American people behind him.

He can lose one of America's greatest cities by doing nothing. He can surround himself with treasonous men who traffic in slime to accomplish political goals. Or corporate thieves and con men. He can repeatedly lie right to their face about the war in Iraq, the war against Al Qaida, etc. He can call himself a fiscal conservative and be the biggest spender since LBJ (and never veto a single bill). He can even drag us into an optional war with no plan for the aftermath and they will still support him.

Why? Is it that he is the President and the office commands at least 35% of Americans to respect him no matter what? Is it because he is to the far right on cultural issues like gay rights, abortion, creationism, etc.? Is that he is supposedly religious? Because he likes NASCAR and country music? Because he is "from" Texas?

Any time I talk to people from this mysterious 35%, they get so upset with me when I ask them why they support George W. Bush when I present them with the facts. They live in an alternate universe where the reality that we all have to deal with doesn't apply. Somehow, the cost of health care doesn't bother them, or stagnant wages, or unemployment, or the fact that their friends and relatives are being attacked in Iraq and Afghanistan every minute of the day, or the crippling deficit to our chief economic and future geopolitical rival...None of it seems to shake their illogical faith in Bush.

If he is a religious man, all he seems to believe in his political power. He will make any sacrifice to that shrine he can: a CIA agent, the lives 2,000 soldiers, moderate members of congress willing to work with him for the sake of the country, our budget...All of it is secondary to staying on top.

But the fact is 65-60% now believe that Bush is unethical, his people are not telling the truth, the war in Iraq is going poorly, the economy is in the tubes, and about 100% of moderates in Congress won't ever work with him again. His legislative agenda is all but dead. His personal choice for the swing seat of the supreme court was rejected by his own party. Bush is the lamest duck I have ever seen this early in his second term. Yet those 35% pretend otherwise. Please tell me, why?

an old Plame

tons has aready been said about this with far more elequent words and thoughts. But I might have one thing to add. All this talk on conservative blogs and cable talk seem to think that perjury and obstruction of justice are pretty lame charges for all this time, even though that was the main beef against President Clinton.

But the point is, Libby wasn't just saying one date or official he talked to in one appearance before the grand jury and then someone else saying something different. There was a clear pattern of Libby telling one complex lie to the grand jury, and have several reporters and white house officials all say something completely different. It is nearly impossible for someone who has made into the highest echelons of power like Libby to confuse Tim Russert with Dick Cheney as his source. Those 5 counts seem rock solid to me, after reading the entire indictment on the Smoking Gun.

And I would really love to see Bushies try to go after Fitzgerald, who is widely acclaimed as the most non-partisan, most fair, most thorough, best US Attorney out there. All of the people that know him have nothing but the highest praise for the man. The only beef I heard what that he was so into his work that he didn't have a life: he is not married, he hardly ever home, he forgets lasagna in his oven for three months etc. Everyone seems to agree, this is not a guy you want on your butt.

So it is over, or is Karl next? It seems Fitzgerald took the most conservative approach to the whole prosecution, nailing the most flagrant and obivous violator with tons of supporting evidence. Maybe Karl was too clever to have such obviously contradictory statements out there. I think it is probable, but not that likely, that there is more to come. It will not be the vast investigation into John Bolton, AIPAC, Doug Feith, and the Niger forgeries themselves that liberals had hoped for, but Libby could go to jail for a long time if he doesn't flip on his boss.

Although there is little hard facts to support it, in my gut I know that the Niger forgeries were cooked up inside the Rumsfeld-Cheney cabal. Maybe not by them directly, maybe without their direct knowledge or approval. But someone in the administration somewhere got the idea and ran with it. They were influenced by the approach to intelligence that Rumsfeld and Cheney took. And in typical Bush Administration fashion, they were terribly incompetent in the execution of the fraud.

After all, the official whose signature appears on the forgeries had been out of that post for a number of years. Anyone who googled the information would have found that out in a matter of seconds. Rather than disown those who did their dirty work, or the dirty work itself, Cheney et al pushed the evidence until not even neo-cons like Bill Kristol could support it. Then they slowly and quietly backed away, and no one was fired/"quit" until they were arrested/indicted.

That in itself is quite telling. And for all the hawkish liberals out there, this is a great time to say I was duped. The Bush administration gave Congress and the public false or at best incomplete information, and it seems pretty clear that they did so knowingly. The war was sold a lie, a lie Bushies believed or wanted to believe was true.

Saddam is a terrible excuse for a human being, and he behaved like he had WMDs. Hussein did himself no favors by playing tough, obstructing inspectors, and refusing to step down from power. If he really cared about Iraq, he wouldn't have done that. But all he and his sons cared about was raw power, complete control over everyone of his countrymen through fear and loyalty. I am sure he will be executed for his crimes, and although I wish he had been tried internationally and more Iraqis could come and tell the world about what he did to their families, I am glad Saddam will be executed. Few deserve the death penalty more than that man.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

will I have class on Monday?

I ask you that because that is when Prof. 10th Cir. Appellate Judge Michael McConnell's class is held. The chattering class in DC seem to think he will be picked. The Center for American Progress, ABC's The Note, Hotline, etc.

Local conservative bloggers from South Dakota, Minnesota, and of course Utah are hoping it is my professor.

My empression? He is superduper smart, VERY conservative, but nice and respectible. He is like Scalia in that he is very clever and conservative, but unlike Scalia in that he is more intellectually honest.

another distraction

When I previously posted that the White House had run out of distractions and that it was dumb to name their Fed Chair pick prior to Fitzgerald's indictments, I plainly forgot that they could throw Harriet under the bus.

Poor Ms. Miers, she stumbled over and over with senators, with conservatives, with the press and came out looking worse than before she nominated. How she can go back to work as White House Counsel confounds me. I guess it is the best place to hide out when you are a laughing stock.

The White House got Sen. Brownback to blame her nomination withdrawl on the documents when anyone with half a brain knows she didn't stand a chance of getting confirmed on the merits. For once, Democrats suceeded by sitting back and shutting up. Something I know must have been hard for the likes of Joes Biden and Lieberman. Keep listening to Harry Reid, guys. After all, he conned Bush into this pick along with his inner delusional circle of yes-men.

Bush's only trouble now is that is seriously weakens him and the Democrat talking poitn of George being beholdant to the American Taliban seems to be sticking with the press. More immediately, Fitzgerald could foresall the indictments even longer by asking the judge for a new grand jury and seeking more indictments at a higher level (like Cheney himself). What a time to be a Democrat.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

1 in ten

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted October 21-23 (with a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points) said only ten percent of "said they believe Bush administration officials did nothing illegal or unethical in connection with the leaking of a CIA operative's identity". WOW. The old "politics as usual" talking point isn't working apparantly.

39% thought someone in the Administration did something illegal. I would like to see more a breakdown partisan wise and all the rest.

the smell of defeat

It looks like Bush is going to withdraw Miers and nominate a "real" conservative. If my professor Michael McConnell was female, I would say he would be the new nominee. I am betting it is a female judge from the 5th Circuit. Why do I say Bush has given up? Because law bloggers much smarter than me make a great argument based off of Bush's latest commentary on Miers. From Althouse:

Note that he did not express confidence that she would be confirmed or that she would make a fine Justice. He focused on her general excellence, unrelated to the position she's been nomited for, and on the Senate, stepping up the pressure to give her a fair hearing -- right after turning up the heat about the denial of the documents. It seems as though he wants the Democratic senators to make more of a stink about the documents so that he'll look more credible blaming them for forcing him to withdraw her name. I'll bet they are too smart to make that move, though. Let him twist in the wind while they hold their fire until the hearings. Or maybe even -- crazily riskily -- just go ahead and support her and leave Bush to solve his own problems, without using them for leverage.


And from Loyola LA Prof. Rick Hasen's electionlawblog:
The excuse for withdrawal appears to be a fight over executive privilege. The president won't turn over documents needed to show Ms. Miers' views on legal issues that arose in the White House. If that is indeed the basis for withdrawal, it is doubly good news for conservatives, because presumably it would take AG Gonzales out of the running too.


I am not the only one high on my Prof. McConnell, so is Hasen: "If Bush is smart and wants a strong conservative who will actually be confirmed, he should nominate Judge McConnell. But it is not clear whether Bush really wants a strong conservative on the Court." Like Hasen, I doubt Bush will risk losing the fight that conservatives want to wage with a Janice Rogers Brown, and would be more happy with a pick that would be friendly to him, especially after this Miers fiasco.

A key rule of politics: when rolling out something big, run it by your allies first and make them feel like they are involved/have a stake in its sucess. Just ask Hillary Clinton about her Health Care Plan.

Monday, October 24, 2005

website of the day

WithdawMiers.org check out the list of the supporters, a who's who of the conservative players, including 9 GOP senators.

Senator Rick Santorum
Senator Sam Brownback
Senator Trent Lott
Senator George Allen
Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator Jeff Sessions
Senator Tom Coburn
Senator David Vitter
Senator John Ensign

Lets see, two of these are on the judicary committee 2+8 Democrats= 10-8 loss in committee. Ed Kilgore sees this as the place to watch any signs of a trend.

This could be Fitzmas eve.

no more distractions left

The bush folks are really off their game. I mean when you have one more distraction left, why spend it on a sleepy Monday when you could save it for two days to ruin Fitzmas? I guess that would be obviously crass, but these are the same folks that distracted us from other problems with John Roberts, a faked Q & A with soldiers, Harriet Miers, etc. Distract and dump are their two favorite political curealls for bad news.

I guess the idea is to have a weeks worth of praise of the new Fed Chair selection. But I think the fact that he is so uncontroversal is just another sign that Bush is weak and such unamimous support means there isn't much for the press to talk about. The press loves to gossip and ponder about what Fitzmas might bring? Rove's head on stick? Scotter's too? Even Cheney's? Oh and the press love to talk about staff shuffles, it is about the only thing they can over well...just ask any one of the 8 Democrats who ran for president.

"Look! Over there!" just isn't going to work anymore. And there aren't enough Fridays left to catch the press and public napping.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

the Miers the merrier

It seems like Harriet can't do anything right these days. The questionniare she filled out pissed off a broad spectrum of Senate Judiciary Committee members. If that wasn't bad enough, election law scholars tore her up over the only mention of constitutional analysis in regards to the Voting Right Act. Then the Post piled on with a quote from Cass Sunstein.

With Turd Blossom and Scooter in the Fitz's crosshairs, it seems like the White House in incable of pulling itself out of this nosedive. I am trying to plan events at the law school about Harriet Miers, but it looks increasingly probable that she will never face the Judiciary Committee. It is sad when you try to distract people from bad news, and then you piss off your only supporters, while making you overall less popular with the people that didn't really like you that much anyway. Sadder still when you stage another phony event with the troops, but get caught. It is like Ameteur month a the White House.

I am going to make some popcorn, this is going to be fun to watch.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

deport colbert report

Thanks to comcast's dvr, I can watch TV anytime I want and without commericals. So I was all excited last night to catch monday's premier of the Colbert Report, especially after hearing all the buzz from the NYTimes way back when and a snippet on Kos.

Boy was I dissipointed. Enough of the ernest, egomanicial, faux-Fox News man! The only time I laughed was when Colbert had a gravitas match against Stone Phillips...and it was more the words they said than anything else. Stephen Colbert was extremely funny on the Daily Show, and left you wanting more. This one left me wanting less, back to the good old days of his crazy commentary or funny interviews followed by "Jon?"

Give me Stephen vs. Stephen (Carrell v. Colbert), that was a fabulous segment. And ROb Cordry is doing an amazing job of stepping up his game in Colbert's absense. I just hope they don't ruin him too by giving Rob his own show. I know Comedy Central has nothing beyond these shows, talking puppets, and "the man show" (which is a shaddow of its former self now that the main attraction has his own late night show on ABC), but come on!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

whither public financing?

I was talking yesterday to a GOPer who is a lawyer (amoung other things) at a firm in DC that prepresents McCain and Romney. He told me that his advice to those 2008 campaigns was not to take public financing in the primaries.

This tells us two things, first that McCain and Romney really are planning on running (not exactly a newsflash) but also that the public finacing system is falling apart. It is a real shame that serious candidates like George Bush, Howard Dean, and John Kerry opted out while joke candidates like LaRouche and Sharpton took our tax dollars. Well those of us who checked the box, and I always have.

Here is a simiple solution to patch it up: anyone who has been convicted or indicted of a felony cannot recieve public financing money. The point of the that money was to a) limit spending b) get candidates to focus on issues, not fundraising and c) give an equal chance for unknowns to win it on issues alone, and not have it be a money race.

Thanks to Dean's use of the internet vis vis his competitors, he was able to emerge out of obscurity into the front runner in 2003 even without public money. But that won't repeat itself, especially when there are other internet savvy competitors like Clark (Edwards is trying out podcasts and blogging too). I think keeping the money out of the jokester's hands will go a long way to helping maintain the system. Because right now, "only losers take public financing."

By the way, it is Republicans in congress that are talking about getting rid of the presidential fund box altogether, but I think that will make things only worse, not better. As a Democrat, I don't want to have to pick a John Kerry just because he can self-finance via his wife. As a Republican, I wouldn't want to pick a Forbes or analogous person just because they are rich or friends of the rich. This way I could pick someone who better fits my values and where I stand on issues, without worrying if they will have enough cash to compete.

Friday, October 14, 2005

All the president's friends

Isn't it funny that two key choices in Bush's political life, he turned to the trusted person who was supposed to be vetting the candidates for him? Dick Cheney, remember, headed up the VP pick selection committee. For Miers, at least she was modest enough to not suggester herself like Cheney sorta did. Rather, it was Andy Card, according to the Journal. Card, that old GM lobbyist, pushed for Miers the whole time and got her underling--who had only been at the job for a short while--to vet her behind her (and everyone else's) back.

Sure enough, the results were self-interested and shoddy. Maybe the B team is indeed operating the White House these days, even that Karl and Scooter have themselves to worry about. If this is true, than it wasn't Laura that pushed this pick like I thought but Andy Card, who has taken a pretty low profile in the past 5 years until recently. Or maybe this is Rove's sliming of Card, who has been taking heat for all the bad things happening to Bush these days.

Maybe the White House is canibalizing itself and seting its own hounds on the "B-team." This is what happens when you don't listen to anyone outside the walls of the White House, the insiders becomes the only critic that can really destroy you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Laura comes out swinging (with help)

Thought my conservatives-are-sexists charge was over the top? What if First Lady Laura Bush says it on the Today Show? Of course, she only said that it's "possible" not fact like I claimed. But how about Eddie Gillespie, once RNC chair and one of the President's top men on the Sumpreme Court vetting team? Ed "raised the sexism issue in a private meeting with conservatives last week, participants said, prompting hot denials that caused Gillespie to say he was speaking generally, not referring to anyone in the room. Since then, other Republican backers of the nominee have raised the possibility that Miers's sex is causing her to be judged by a harsher standard."

Of course, that didn't sit too well with conservatives, who don't like to be called out. "It is striking to me they are spending less time explaining the merits of Harriet Miers and more time . . . using liberal talking points to criticize the critics," William Kristol of the Weekly Standard said. "I think it is going to backfire." Did I just hear Kristol say that the White House is using Liberal talking points? The only worse epithet he could have used against Bush was to say he was acting Clintonian. Jonah Goldberg of the National Review's blog (another super conservative rag) echoed Kristol's sentiments, calling the sexism charge as "horribly disappointing and the sort of thing I normally expect from left-wingers."

This food fight just keeps getting better and better. Appearantly GOP Judiciary staffers are rebelling as well.
"Everybody is hoping that something will happen on Miers, either that the president would withdraw her or she would realize she is not up to it and pull out while she has some dignity intact," a lawyer to a Republican committee member said.


It sounds like they don't want Bush's Senate henchmen to go after them, but Colburn and Brownback's staff are pissed.

"You could say there is pretty much uniform disappointment with the nomination at the staff level," another Republican on the committee staff said. "It is clear there is quite a bit of skepticism, and even some flashes of hostility." Another Republican aide close to the committee said, "I don't know a staffer who approves of this nomination, anywhere. Most of it is outright hostility throughout the Judiciary Committee staff." ...
"I think those staffers, like anybody else, have a right to their opinions and to express them," [Specter] said. "Senators will make independent judgments. You have some pretty strong staffers on the committee, but you have got some stronger senators."


Maybe it is Specter's staffers after all, as Ed Kilgore thinks. "Maybe the White House's well-known injunctions to Specter to get along better with conservatives are producing some unintended and ironic consequences." quoth Ed.

The plot thickens.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Merkle Christmas

Germans love to call their governing coalition by their colors: Red and Blue for SPD and CDU/CSU. Previously there was a Christmas coaliton: SPD and the Greens. Some were hoping for a stoplight coalition: SPD, Greens, and FDP (yellow liberals). But the FDP said no to that. Instead, it ended up being a Blue Red one. I don't know a color analogy for this grand coalition.

The whole thing was quite interesting to me as a German-speaker and fan of the country and the people. Personally, I think their social welfare net was almost too good. I met people that weren't in any hurry to get jobs since they were still earning most of the money they was before. Unemployment in the East has been stuck at high levels for about 15 years now and Schroeder clearly couldn't solve the problems.

Schroeder staged an amazing comeback for sure, but his claim that he got to be chancelor still was incredible and fell through. One wonders what will happen to him and why in the world he decieded to push for the election in the first place.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Miers than meets the eye

Today before I went to church, I had the chance to watch a bit of movement conservative Sen. Sam Brownback "vs." Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. Schumer said nothing that interesting or innovative, except adopting a blogger line that James Dobson should testify before the committee about what he knows about Miers. The real news was what Brownback said, since he and Sen. Tom Colburn could conceivably vote against Miers in the judiciary committee and seriously embarrass the president. Brownback and the social conservatives that he represents are pissed not just because they weren't consulted but because they wanted a fight over Abortion and Gay Marriage and other issues. They believe that America will be on their side. Personally, I would enjoy watching them go down in flames, especially Sen. Colburn who cried crocodile tears about the divisiveness that is tearing this country apart at Roberts' hearings (when he wasn't filling out his crossword puzzle).

But another thing that really gets the conservatives upset is that Laura Bush picked this nominee. They both went to SMU, I don't know if their times were contemporaneous. But Laura has always been distrusted despite coming from a true Southern family, and not a Yankee aristocratic one like Bush. In social circles, Miers knew Laura before she helped Dubya keep his duck blind. Miers has been loyal to the Bush family, but not to the movement of conservatism. Conservatives have been waiting for this moment, believing the country is ready to go backwards on every conceivable social progress of the 1960s and 1970s.

Interestingly, conservatism is not some generational thing like Gay marriage is. People of all ages firmly believe that abortion (and sometimes even the Pill) is murder.

But does the fact that Miers is Laura's pick say something about the sexism of the conservative movement? Most social conservatives come from male dominated religions. It was the sexual revolution more than the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s that conservatives still fight against. Maybe some don't like integration secretly, but they don't feel nearly as comfortable sharing it as they do condemning the sexual conduct or perceived conduct of women and gay men. Straight men can have as much sex as they want how they want it, although conservatives would prefer it be only with his wife. At least that is how it seems given the scandals of the televangelists.

There is more going on here than a fight over who gets consulted, it is about who gets to make the choice, and who really has the power. That is what irked them about the Clintons the most, that Bill was perfectly happy to let Hillary be his equal, or even superior.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Harriet Hearsay

My dad talked to a lawyer friend of his in Dallas about Ms. Miers. Appearantly this friend knows Miers quite well, having gone to high school with her and practiced law in the same town as her.

The word? Miers is VERY conservative, VERY smart, and she will charm the crap out of the judiciary committee.

If this is true, the whole line of "she is unqualified," or "she is Souter II" is just a lie. Conservatives are upset that they weren't consulted, and that an obviously religious right-winger wasn't chosen. But they forget that they are in the minority in America. Most Americans favor the right to privacy, including the ability to have control over their bodies. Most Americans favor Social Security, Medicare, rebuilding New Orleans, and environmental protection. Yet Harriet probabbly is against all of these things.

James Dobson, whose vote is more important to push than Sen. Sam Brownback's, got the inside peak on Miers and was pleased with the choice. Sounds like my Dad's friend in Dallas is right.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

movement conservatives and Miers

Americablog is doing some of the best coverage out there on Harriet Miers. They were the first to release this questionnaire [I linked to TIME magazine because they can afford the bandwidth] and have been putting together the pieces of Miers' purposely vacant legal history.

It seems she supported increased AIDS funding and equal civil rights for gay and lesbains in 1989 in Dallas, TX, not exactly the most popular time and place to do so. [Note, she did support the criminalization of gay male sex, which was overturned by Lawrence v. Texas] Maybe Conservatives have a reason to freak out. Afterall, gay marriage and gay men especially are one of their biggest pet peeves. Is this questionniare genuine? I am sure some Senator will ask her about it now.

As the folks on Americablog point out, movement conservatives have been waiting for this moment--2 supreme court vacancies-- since Roe they want God "back" in the class room, evolution out our schools, gays out of society, Abortion criminalized, Death Penalty strengthened so that mental disabled and minors can be executed again, etc. And Bush's response was to put up a very highly qualified but mysteriously blank and vague chief justice John Roberts, and now a not so qualified and not so mysteriously blank and vague associate justice.

The only thing we know for sure about Meirs is that she, like Condi, will defend Bush to her death. I feel like if Condi had a law degree, he would have appointed her. After all, she is smart, African-American, a woman, and loyal to a pyschopathic extent.

Folks on the Dianne Reims show today were wondering if either liberals or conservatives were faking each other out with their initial reactions to Miers' nomination. After reading this questionnaire, I think there is no fake out here. Unless of course, this fax is as doctored as those Texas Air National Guard ones that cost Dan Rather his chair.

Fun fact, Miers handed Bush the "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." memo and briefed him on it:


Funny, shouldn't the intelligence services have done that and not a staff secretary? I guess everyone was on vacation.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Killing her with Kindness?

have democrats stumbled (and the key word here is stumbled) onto a great strategy to defeat Miers? It seems that by having Senate Democrats come out and praise a woman whose only job qualifications are that Bush thought she did a great job on a duck hunting cabin case before he was governor of Texas has sent conservatives scrambling.

Maybe she is Souter II, or maybe she is Scalia II. We have no clue because she has never been a judge and her only policy driven legal writings were when she was Bush's WH counsel since 2004, when Alberto Gonzales left for the AG's office. But conservatives were expecting someone with a clear history of opposing Roes and a host of other conservative bugaboos (like ten commandments etc.) Bush knows he couldn't get such a nominee past the Senate without doing a Fillabuster showdown of epic purportions.

And it seems that the man whom Miers called the most brilliant man she knows realized that with his polling in the high-30s to low-40s, he had no capital to spend. However, the reaction from conservatives has been much more negative than liberals. Kos is hoping she is a Souter, while conservatives are crying cronyism. In my opinion, that ship sailed long, long ago fellows.

Instapundit, the leading conservative legal blogger has the round up:

UPDATE: More here. Perhaps they'll change my mind, but so far I'm underwhelmed.



ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Daniels: "Another stealth nominee?"



GayPatriot has predictions.



Paul Deignan: "Harriet Miers is many things, but she is not a Constitutional scholar . . . She is an unknown and unproven functionary whose chief virtue is the one virtue that we must reject--a strong tie to a particular chief executive."



Baseball Crank: "Color me less than thrilled."



PoliPundit: "Miers is a cipher."



The ACLJ, however,loves her.



Rich Lowry: "After the Roberts pick conservatives swooned and said Bush doesn't care about 'diversity'; it's only high qualifications that matter to this bold, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may leader, etc., etc. Don't we have to take all that back now?"



David Frum: "An unforced error. . . . nobody would describe her as one of the outstanding lawyers in the United States."



MORE: GayPatriot's predictions are already coming true!



Meanwhile, Thomas Lifson thinks that this is a brilliant sucker-punch thrown at the Democrats. But even if that's true, that doesn't make Miers a good pick. In fact, if I really thought that this pick was motivated by such tactical concerns, I'd be appalled, but I think that Lifson is being a bit too clever here. [LATER: Further googling has convinced Lifson that he's wrong. Good!]



John Hawkins: "George Bush's decision to appoint Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court is bitterly disappointing." Not that there's anything wrong with having supported Al Gore in 1988 . . . .



What troubles the social conservatives is the fear that Miers may not be a social conservative. That doesn't bother me, of course. But I don't see what she brings to the table. Granted, you could have said that about other Supreme Court picks who turned out to be great justices. But you could have said that about a lot of other Supreme Court picks who didn't turn out to be great justices, too.



Meanwhile, this won't comfort social conservatives, but it doesn't comfort me, either:



Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had urged the president to consider Miers, according to several officials familiar with Bush's consultations with Congress.



Hmm. (Via Jon Henke, who rounds up lots of other interesting stuff). More on Reid and Miers here.



AnkleBitingPundits (formerly CrushKerry.com): "Ugh. This is what we fought for?"



Bush may have managed a Perfect Storm here. Democrats will still want to beat him on Miers, because they always want to beat him. Republicans may be happy to see her go down, too. So who, exactly, is going to get her confirmed? Harry Reid?



STILL MORE: Hugh Hewitt: "It is a solid, B+ pick.. . . The president is a poker player in a long game. He's decided to take a sure win with a good sized pot. I trust him. So should his supporters."



The Anchoress thinks it's rope-a-dope.



Social conservative Professor Bainbridge is deeply unhappy with Miers. Does that mean I should be happy?



Ed Morrissey: "I find this pick mystifying."



Meanwhile, the GOP just sent out this collection of endorsements -- and number 3 is Harry Reid. I smell some sort of a deal.



Maybe Reid is a genius, maybe the keeping the powder dry strategy worked. I think the real strategy was just to sit back and hope that the GOP destroys itself. It only took 12 years, but it seems to be working.

Delay is under indictment and sounding biter that he got dropped by his collegues; Frist is under investigation for a Martha Stewart-like move; Bush and Cheney's top political advisors are the chief suspects in a criminal investigation; and then there is the Iraq debacle and the Katrina debacle. Someone in Biden's and Liberman's offices are working up a plan to snatch defeat from the jaws of almost assured victory, I am sure.