Friday, September 30, 2005

Ginsburg Comments at Wake Forest


"Judge Roberts was unquestionably right," Ginsburg said. "My rule was I will not answer a question that attempts to project how I will rule in a case that might come before the court."
"A judge on a collegial court should never forecast how he or she would vote on particular issues" because during the decision-making process a justice is exposed to briefs, lawyers' arguments and discussions with other justices, she said.
I still find her a touch flaky (and very far left), but most of what is reported of her talk is reasonable. Though these exact comments were hard to find in print.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Blanco's Testimony - or Lack Thereof

What am I missing here? The only news I see on Blanco's testimony is that she didn't wish to respond to criticism. Good for her, but doesn't this really place some context on the whole Brown inquisition?

This pretty much is final proof of what a waste of time this whole thing is. The politicians strap Brown to the wrack, and Blanco gets the comfy chair. Did anything of any value come out of either testimony? Well, other than showing politicians are completely incompetent at fact finding.

Brown obviously did himself no favors. I suppose I could understand his answers, since sitting there being lambasted by a bunch of politicians looking to score points with the public couldn't have been pleasant. But then just blaming everyone else makes him look foolish. Not that the assessment may not be accurate with regard to the details of the faults of others.
Brown defended his handling of Hurricane Katrina. And he laid blame for what went wrong on Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and even the White House.

Blanco took strong exception to a charge by Brown that she waited until the eve of the storm to order an evacuation of New Orleans.

Brown's comment clearly demonstrates what, she says, is the "appalling degree" to which he's "out of touch with the truth or reality."

It's too early to get into, "name-blame" but Nagin said "a FEMA director in Washington trying to deflect attention is unbelievable."

He may have been out of touch, but Blanco isn't even in the same galaxy. His statement is factually correct. No compulsory evacuation was called for until Sunday. I'd love to know when she believes she called for the evacuation.

Nothing of any use will come out of this circus. But then again I can complain about it.

WTC Memorial Ousts the International Freedom Center

Well, finally.
Bowing to pressure from Sept. 11 families, Gov. George Pataki on Wednesday removed a proposed freedom center from the space reserved for it near the planned World Trade Center memorial, saying the museum project had aroused "too much opposition, too much controversy."

Pataki initially said the state would help the International Freedom Center find another home, but center officials said they weren't interested and considered the project dead.

The decision followed months of acrimony, with some Sept. 11 families and politicians saying the freedom center would overshadow and take space from the separate memorial devoted to the 2,749 World Trade Center dead and would dishonor them by fostering debate about the attacks and other world events.

"Freedom should unify us. This center has not," Pataki said. "Today there remains too much opposition, too much controversy over the programming of the IFC. … We must move forward with our first priority, the creation of an inspiring memorial to pay tribute to our lost loved ones and tell their stories to the world."

Controversy? It was just bloody stupid. You give the WTC memorial a postage stamp and this farce of a museum the lion's share of space and think this is fair to the memory of that event? I won't even go into the discussions on why such a "museum" would dishonor the victims. That has been gone through plenty already.

Pataki is such a politician. (Say that last word like something really loathesome that you have just found stuck to the bottom of your shoe.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Brown's Beating as told by Salon

Now I understand Granted reads this rag, but articles like this one sour my stomach. Is this a news organization of just unadulterated editorializing?

Find any relevant information in this lead in:
The official inquisition of former FEMA director Michael Brown began just as Democrats had predicted -- with a whitewash. Clearly mistakes had been made after Hurricane Katrina. Thousands had suffered. Others died. But the Republican leadership was not going to place all the blame on one man and his agency of 2,500 employees.

"This is not the movies," said Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who chairs the House committee investigating the Katrina response. "There is no Tommy Lee Jones character who comes in and takes charge of everything."

But no one at the hearing seemed to mistake Brown for a tough-guy taskmaster. Sitting Tuesday before the committee in a powder-blue tie, Brown looked more like an overdressed shipping clerk. He had an earnest voice and a plain face. When he became emotional his cheeks flushed and his eyes widened.

Well I suppose the fashion statement and the number of employees is information, but otherwise crap. Inquisition is accurate if for no other reason than that is how all goverment investigations by politicians go.

Let's be honest. The only reason they brought in Brown was to put him on the rack and publicly humiliate him. Does anyone honestly believe the hearing was trying to find information. The sections I saw were definitely speeches of derision and nothing more.

Then there is this:
In other words, Brown's only regrets appeared to be the behavior of others. "I don't want to make this partisan," Brown said, delivering the day's most disingenuous line. "I can't help it if Alabama and Mississippi are governed by Republican governors, and Louisiana is governed by a Democratic governor."
Stupid statement, yes. Disingenuous, I don't think so. Strikes me as his candid assessment if not completely and rudely stated. If he is such a political crony as they keep yelping, I would be he is fully informed on those personnel that he speaks too.

Personally, this article is a waste of pixels and the whole set of hearings a waste of oxygen. Leaving the investigation to a politician, of any affiliation, is a complete disservice to the public in general. I once believed that politicians weren't 90% mouth and 5% brain, but this is the end proof that they are. (The last 5% is unmentionables.)

Journalistic Low in NOLA

I've seen a couple very poor reports on the idiot box about the reporting of rumors and the like by the MSM during Katrina. (The report on the Abrams Report was pathetic. Abrams spent more time patting the press on the back than actually looking at reports based on nothing but rumors. The transcript isn't out at this time but I'll link it up when it's out.)
Following days of internationally reported murders, rapes and gang violence inside the stadium, the doctor from FEMA — Beron doesn't remember his name came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalled the doctor saying.

The real total?

Six, Beron said.

The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees mass murders, rapes and beatings— have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.
The MSM as expected are defending their reporting as appropriate. Personally, I didn't see any news agency that didn't have some reporter flipping out over the situation. Aren't journalists supposed to report on the facts? Maybe I'm holding the bar too high?

Of course there is the other side with the Talk Show Queen reporting on her show.
In interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Compass reported rapes of "babies," and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of "hundreds of armed gang members killing and raping people" inside the Dome. Other unidentified evacuees told of children stepping over so many bodies "we couldn't count."

The picture that emerged was one of the impoverished, overwhelmingly African-American masses of flood victims resorting to utter depravity, randomly attacking each other, as well as the police trying to protect them and the rescue workers trying to save them. The mayor told Winfrey the crowd has descended to an "almost animalistic state."

But at least here position is defensable. She was interviewing people, some of whom should have known better. Compass is one of them. Probably fortunate for the city, he resigned yesterday. If you're the local police authority, you shouldn't be putting out rumors as fact. That makes you look stupid, not to mention makes the citizens of your area look like animals.

Which gets me to this point:
"I think 99 percent of it is [expletive]," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong bad things happened. But I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything ... 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."
The vast majority of people were well-behaved. But would you have gotten that from the reports at the time? I don't think so. And the rest of the world now only knows rumors that were reported as truth and have made a judgement on the US overall based on those rumors. Unfortunately now the poor of NOLA are branded unjustly with being "animalistic" because the mayor and his ilk couldn't keep their mouths shut.

But then, the crowds screaming and wailing at the cameras didn't help their case either. To some extent I can understand them being anxious to get assistance, but they were no where near starvation, and the only real threat was that of disease. I just don't understand the atraction to play for the camera, though this seems to be the reality of existance whether here or in NOLA or Iraq.

Oh, and back to the Abrams Report, here is a bit of mighty whining from his "blawg about justice" on scapegoating the media. Get this:
The latest so-called controversy comes now that the superdome and convention center have finally been cleared out. Officials say only 10 bodies were found— far fewer than many expected. This after the total death toll in New Orleans was far lower than the 10,000 some had predicted.

Rather than celebrating the news, some officials are trying to justify their inaction by pinning the blame on the never quite defined "media." It is particularly ironic when some of the same people who should have acted earlier - response teams, local and federal officials — are saying, "They reported rumors and exaggeration," "They failed to confirm reports etc."

The pictures speak for themselves. Are they suggesting this was somehow not a humanitarian disaster? The FEMA director found out about the lack of food and water from the media! But for the media and the public outcry, those numbers would have been higher. Without broadcasting those devastating photos from the superdome and the convention center, it's unclear how long it would have taken before someone in a position of authority actually responded. Yet today I heard one Congressman complain about the "hysteria of the media coverage"”?

This is laughable at best. Is he actually trying to tell us that FEMA wasn't doing anything and that they only began to react due to the media? What?! Now he's posturing the MSM as the heros of the disaster. As to the histeria of the media coverage, I saw any reporter on the scene flipping out. Some making blatant political rants against the present administration. You don't call that hysteria?

He also seems to miss that by reporting rumors that some agencies did react to those reports and sent resources to places that had no problems. His report last night even pointed to police resources being sent to areas where reported (aka rumored) viloence was going on.

You can read the rest. This his stance is just laughable.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Intelligent Design as High School Science

Well, far be it for me to criticize a really poor decision, but get this,
In a crucial test case, education officials in rural Pennsylvania have defended their decision to require students to learn about an alternative theory to evolution to explain the origin of life.

Lawyers for the Dover area school board argued yesterday that the decision to teach intelligent design - a theory condemned by a majority of scientists as little more than "creationism-lite" - was not an attempt to force a religious agenda but a desire for pupils to keep an open mind.

"This case is about free inquiry in education, not about a religious agenda," argued Patrick Gillen of the Thomas More Law Centre, a non-profit Christian law firm which is representing the board.

You know, I might accept that this isn't trying to force religion into schools. You can easily de-emphasize any direct link to any specific religion. But, this still isn't science. Calling ID and alternative theory to evolutionary theory is preposterous. ID carries just about all of Evolutionary theory and just replaces the random chance causation with a theistic causation.
Eighty 80 years after the Scopes monkey trial in Tennessee - when a teacher, John Scopes, was convicted for teaching evolution - polls show that at least 45 per cent of Americans believe God made man in his current form. Only 26 per cent believe in the central tenet of evolution, that all life descended from a single ancestor, and 65 per cent believe schools should teach creationism as well as evolution.
Those are some disturbing figures.

Mostly, I just fail to see the need for ID. I would even state that it fails to reach the level of a theory. The theistic causation hypothesis is in no way even vaguely demonstrable. Which puts a dent in scientific methodology as applied to ID.

Keyboard Hacking

They claim that they can steal your password by using a microphone and some software to analyze the sound that the keys make when you type. Of course, they can also use it to monitor what you type as well.
Their research is based on the fact that each key makes a slightly different sound when struck, thanks to the angle at which it's pressed and its location above the keyboard supporting plate.

Once the different sounds had been recorded, Tygar and his associates separated them into classes, then mapped them to the most likely keystrokes based on the English language's constraints, including the limited number of key combinations to make words and the limited number of words because of its grammar. Finally, they used spelling and grammar checking software to refine the transcriptions.

"The key insight in our work is that the typed text is often not random," said Tygar.

I don't know about you, but I think I'd notice the microphone or at least it's cable. I'm not totally unobservant. They would probably find it interesting as to what I do with that microphone when I found it as well.

Nice new thing to be paranoid about at a job near you. Nothing like big companies to use such things to monitor the worker.

Subway Profiling: Computer Nerds

Found this one at Schneier. Pretty weird. The guy was acting like your usual technology/computer geek and got pinched in the Tube under the Terrorism Act.

I am told that I am being stopped and searched because:

· they found my behaviour suspicious from direct observation and then from watching me on the CCTV system;

· I went into the station without looking at the police officers at the entrance or by the gates;

· two other men entered the station at about the same time as me;

· I am wearing a jacket "too warm for the season";

· I am carrying a bulky rucksack, and kept my rucksack with me at all times;

· I looked at people coming on the platform;

· I played with my phone and then took a paper from inside my jacket.

Now that is just pathetic. Read the whole article. The US may be more open and less secure, but I'd prefer that to being trodden on by the government for thin excuses.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Congressional Watch Dog Group Reports

This smells odd.
"They all violated ethics rules," Melanie Sloan, the watchdog group's executive director, said of the 13 members of Congress on its list. She criticized both political parties for what she said was a failure to police ethics.

James Pendleton, a spokesman for Burns, dismissed the group's report as "pure politics." Ney's press secretary, Brian Walsh, said: "We don't give Melanie Sloan and her liberal organization an ounce of credibility."

Its report, titled "Beyond DeLay: The 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress," is based on news articles and other documents, the watchdog group said. It made the report available to the Los Angeles Times.
I found the report and here is what they call their methodology.
To create this report, CREW reviewed articles, Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports and audits, sworn testimony, emails, and personal financial and travel disclosure forms. We then analyzed that information to determine whether the information discovered suggested that a Member of Congress'’s conduct violated any federal laws, regulations or congressional ethics rules.
Vague? Yup.
I have an issue with using reports from the MSM though. This makes the assumption that the information is accurate and without bias. I just can't see that as a viable resource. It could very well be used as an indication of where and what should be checked, but it really needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Emails?

If you look at the list, interestingly, eleven of the thirteen are republicans. Now can I honestly say that this report isn't a partisan act?

Certainly someone in the House and Senate should be looking at these accusations. And then they should use the same ruler to investigate everyone. Sounds like something good for the GAO to be doing.


Saw this linked at Say Uncle.

Get this article that lists some of the major Gun Carrying Hypocrites.

Not only does Schumer carry a handgun, the New York City Police Department also provides armed escorts for the good senator. In fact, the Government Accounting Office -- the investigative arm of the US Congress -- slammed Schumer's use of police resources for personal protection. It's clear that Schumer believes he's special. He wishes to ban private citizens' ownership of firearms, while he enjoys layers of protection.

Also, a check of Pistol License records shows that Senator Schumer possesses an "unrestricted" pistol permit, a rarity in New York City. Licenses are distributed in different categories in the Big Apple: Target Permits allow only use of a firearm at a licensed firing range; Premises Permits allow weapons to be kept in a home or apartment; Restricted Permits allow the gunowner to carry their firearms concealed but only within the purview of their job (security, jewelers, armored car guards, etc.). So it's evident that Senator Schumer has two sets of rules -- one for Americans and one for himself.

And then we have Senator Diane Feinstein on the Left Coast who possesses something more rare than a conservative Republican in San Francisco -- an unrestricted concealed weapons permit. Apparently without shame, she participated in a citywide gun turn-in program that was intended to create some kind of statue from the donated guns that were to be melted down. One of her police body guards let it slip that she contributed a cheap model for the meltdown, while retaining her .357 magnum revolver for her own personal self-defense.[Emphasis Mine]
So these two get both a police body guard, but they also get unusual level of concealed carry permit from where they live.

Get this from
Feinstein is a strong proponent of gun control, yet is known to have carried concealed handguns herself with a normally nearly impossible to obtain California carry permit - few people, other than politicians and celebrities, are able to obtain California CCW permits. At one time, she was the only person in San Francisco to possess a concealed carry permit.
The reason is stated at
Senator Feinstein is a staunch gun control advocate. Despite her stance, in the 1970s, she obtained a concealed firearms carry permit, and carried a handgun with her. A CCW permit was then rare in California, and was the only such permit in San Francisco. At the time, she was the target of a terrorist group that had shot out all the windows in her home. She no longer carries a gun. [Emphasis Mine]
Hmm. Funny that she needs that permit, but those poor proles of the general public shouldn't be allowed to own, let alone carry, a gun.

There are a couple of other names listed of interest, but not many. Would be really interesting to get that NRA black list and find out how many of those people have armed body guards or who have concealed carry permits.

This Annoys Me

Preparing for the Supreme Court fight, pro-lifers were told by White House surrogates to stay out of the light and out of the newspapers, to be quiet so as not to scare the horses. Even before Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement this summer, while liberal reporters worked to connect conservative concern over the Supreme Court with the abortion issue, pro-lifers were measuring their words, beating each other up, and trying not to appear too demanding of the president that, in the small margins that matter, they had elected.

Well, maybe. But maybe he was elected by those people in the middle who sometimes vote Democrat, and I suspect many of those people are pro-choice. After all, what choice does the far right and the strongly pro-life voter have? Those people are NEVER going to go for the Democrat. I believe Bush's reelection had far more to do with people agreeing with his handling on the war on terror, and not much do with people supporting the right's "official" stance on Roe v. Wade.

Ever so smoothly, pro-lifers were corralled and managed, so that if the president appointed yet another Republican disappointment to the Supreme Court, it would be too late after the fact to do anything about it.

If that happened, why would it need to happen unless the majority of Americans are pro-choice?

I resent that Miranda is to be calling for a SCOTUS nominee with a right-wing idealogical agenda, which is no more acceptable to me than a judge with a left-wing idealogical agenda. I want a judge who will fairly and impartially determine the law, regardless of personal opinion, which is what we're getting with Judge Roberts, I believe. Miranda and Senator Kennedy are two sides of the same flawed coin - trying to influence the courts with their personal beliefs.

Single Moms and the Link to Violence

John Leo on studies released by Institute for Marriage and Public Policy last week, that find, among other things, that adolescents in single-parent families are more likely to be involved in violent crime and gangs.

You'd think this information would just be obvious, common-sense stuff to people. And it is for some of us. The troubling question is, how do we change the inner city culture that deems it acceptable, even desirable to make babies without marriage or cohabitating? Bill Cosby can't do it alone. What will happen if it doesn't change?

Brady Bunch Scare Tactics

Found this on Alphecca. Article from the Miami Herald. No it's not an editorial.
Enter Florida at your own risk. That's the message supporters of gun control are sending in an ad campaign designed to warn visitors about Florida's new law allowing victims to shoot first in self-defense without fear of prosecution.

The law, passed by the Florida Legislature in the spring and signed by Gov. Jeb Bush, takes effect Oct. 1. That's the day the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence will start its newspaper ad campaign in London, Chicago, Boston and Detroit and hand out fliers to arriving passengers at Miami International Airport.

The new law ''may lead to the reckless use of guns on the streets of Florida cities,'' the one-page flier reads. The ads will warn that after Oct. 1, visitors ''face a greater risk of bodily harm in Florida,'' said Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Washington-based advocacy group.

The fliers urge tourists to take precautions, such as: ''Do not argue unnecessarily with local people,'' and ''keep your hands in plain sight'' if you are involved in a traffic accident or a near-miss.

And seeing how reasonable the Brandy Bunch is:
''We are not trying to scare people, the Florida Legislature scared people,'' Hamm said.

The Brady Coalition is urging the Legislature to repeal the law, but short of that, ''we think people need to be aware of this new law,'' Hamm said. "They need to act accordingly and they need to make their decision to come to Florida accordingly.''


I went to the Brady Bunch web-site (ugh) but they didn't appear to have anything on topic. I did find their protest over the NRA list of groups and individuals with anti-gun policies. I'm still trying to figure out their outrage over this. I just don't buy their claim of intimidation. Most of the people listed are extremely wealthy and the organizations chose their standing. Why is it intimidation to point out what an organization stands for?

I would conjecture that the list has more people on it that can afford private security, and likely use that security, than the vast majority of NRA members. But, hey, why should people be able to protect themselves? Especially when they have the need.

Canadian Corruption: Gunscam

There also is a piece at Captain's Quarter on this. He also goes into a bit on the "checks and balances" that don't exist in the Canadian government. (I found that bit fascinating.)
Originally expected to be self-financing by 1999-2000, Fraser and her auditors discovered the target for the firearms program to break even was pushed back to 2013 -- an assumption it would collect $419 million in fees in 2002-03 and $828 million by 2007-08.
Now that is an expensive and useless tool. Wonder where all that money is going.

This Editorial goes into the failings.
And as we've all seen - and as the critics predicted - the registry has failed as an effective tool in combating urban street crime, which was how the Liberals sold it to Canadians.

Why? Two reasons.

First, the main purpose of Bill C-68 was to extend gun registration to so-called "long guns" for the first time - rifles and shotguns. Unfortunately, grandpa's gopher gun is not the weapon of choice for violent, urban gangsters.

Their preferred weapons are handguns, which law-abiding Canadians have been required to register since 1934. Yet criminals still manage to get their hands on them, despite the registry. That should have been a big clue for the Liberals 10 years ago about how well the long-gun registry would work.

Which brings us to the second big (and obvious) problem with the registry, which is, as virtually every critic has pointed out over the years, that criminals don't register their guns.

Of course, the Liberals will never admit to this blunder.

I'm still trying to figure out why all the Bush haters keep braying about going to Canada. Putting together very costly useless systems isn't helping with crime and the corruption being shown in the government is appalling, yet they are still viewed as better off than under the present administration.

Go figure.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hillary and the Freedom Center

Well, she's got this right.

"While I want to ensure that development and rebuilding in Lower Manhattan move forward expeditiously, I am troubled by the serious concerns that family members and first responders have expressed to me," Mrs. Clinton said in a statement released to The New York Post on Friday in response to an inquiry.
We've spoken on this before. I wonder if there will ever be enough momentum to get these jerks to make an appropriate memorial.

You can see additional info at Take Back The Memorial.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Iraq = Vietnam At Least the MSM is Still Trying to Make That Point

Must be a slow news day if this is what I'm talking about.

But here is another proud press moment for the MSM. Comparing political speeches of Bush and LBJ.

Of course, the Anti-War Protestors aren't that much different either.

Let's not mention that there are any successes out there.

Though there is some humor on the topic.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Testing the Waters

Nuclear Power Plants. (H/T QandO)

At least eight utilities, including all the major operators of nuclear power plants, have been testing the regulatory environment to determine how fast a new reactor might get approved by the NRC. Though no final decision on a project has been announced, several companies have indicated they would like to build a new reactor by 2010.

Three reactor vendors — Westinghouse, General Electric, and the French company AREVA — are competing with different new reactor designs.

Under the Nustart plan, the reactor at Grand Gulf would be a GE designed reactor, while the one in Alabama would use a Westinghouse design.

Makes one hope that they are looking at something more innovative than the usual BWR.

Judiciary Vote on Roberts

Got the link from SCOTUS blog.

Yes: Specter (R), Hatch (R), Grassley (R), Kyl (R), DeWine (R), Sessions (R), Leahy (D), Kohl (D), Feingold (D), Graham (R), Cornyn (R), Brownback (R) Coburn (R)

No: (All Democrats) Kennedy, Biden, Feinstein, Schumer, Durbin.

Not really a surprise. Look at the comments. There are some pretty interesting points.

I also wonder if this will set a new manner which republicans will vote with respect to future democratic nominees. This bit of data from a comment:
Rehnquist - nominated by Nixon - approved 68-26
Stevens - Ford - 99-0
O' Conner - Reagan - 99-0
Scalia - Reagan - 98-0
Kennedy - Reagan - 97-0
Souter - Bush - 90-9
Thomas - Bush - 52-48
Ginsburg - Clinton - 96-3
Breyer - Clinton - 87-9
Funny looking votes though. And I'm not saying that it's because democrats nominate more reasonable judges either.

"Stuck on Stupid" Kerfuffle

Let's just start with the quote.

CNN: press conference on Hurricane Rita. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin & Gen. Russel Honore.

Honore: And Mr. Mayor, let's go back, because I can see right now, we're setting this up as he said, he said, we said. All right? We are not going to go, by order of the mayor and the governor, and open the convention center for people to come in. There are buses there. Is that clear to you? Buses parked. There are 4,000 troops there. People come, they get on a bus, they get on a truck, they move on. Is that clear? Is that clear to the public?

Female reporter: Where do they move on...

Honore: That's not your business.

Male reporter: But General, that didn't work the first time...

Honore: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time. This ain't the first time. Okay? If...we don't control Rita, you understand? So there are a lot of pieces of it that's going to be worked out. You got good public servants working through it. Let's get a little trust here, because you're starting to act like this is your problem. You are carrying the message, okay? What we're going to do is have the buses staged.

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.

Now I've seen several write ups of this, and they all crow that the "right" is getting there jollies out of this. Though I haven't run across any as of yet stating that. But it's early and I'll keep looking. I honestly think that there will be some giggling over this.

But for those links that popped up on a Google news search I got one calling the remark "false candor," another stating the general is just calling anyone stupid that asks a question, and how the statement was "not too brite."

I suppose they have some point, though it isn't the sharpest. I think those that read here know I pretty much deride the thought that generals have to be politicians. I much prefer a general who is a soldier. Meaning being honest and thrustworthy in this context. Personally I'd prefer more candor from our politicians as well. You can't get a politician to take a firm stand on the color of the sky on a clear day.

You have to see the video clip though. The exchange obviously got under the general's skin. The whole context of the conference was to get out information on what to do in NOLA if the hurricane came in there causing another mess. The reporters just couldn't let go of the blame game questions. I don't know if I'd have gone where the general did, but I would have probably been close to saying similar things.

And let's be honest, the questions were stupid.

Found some of those perverted conservative types liking the comment. Ok wait, one of them is moderate. Oh, wait, they're also Libertarian.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pork Near You

Interesting site on pork. You can look up what fat there is by state.

Some of it looks baconish to me, but I've looked at some of the listings and I'm not really certain why they would be listed.

More Excellent Media Coverage From Iraq

Now I love timely news, but I'd like some facts about the case not just screaming. I saw the title linked article yesterday and thought it sounded a bit odd. Mind you this is an ABC report.
Iraq denounced British forces on Tuesday over a dramatic rescue of two undercover soldiers that could stoke hostility to the army in increasingly volatile southern Iraq.

British troops used an armored fighting vehicle on Monday to burst into an Iraqi jail in search of soldiers held by police in Basra. The British commander said he learned they had been handed to militia and ordered their rescue from a nearby house.

Nearby house? Why would the Iraqi police have prisoners in a nearby house?

Then there is all the wonderful quotes.
"It is unappropriate for any Iraqi to be insulted by a British or an American or any other occupier, we reject the occupying forces," said Abbas Jassim.
"The British violated the government, police and the sons of this country, which we all reject."
"This is terrorism. All we had was rifles."
Reid said it was not clear whether the Iraqi police were under threat themselves or colluding with local militia.

Lorimer said troops had been sent to the police station where the two men had been detained to help ensure their safety.

All wonderful, especially the last, considering the news this morning on the topic.
The Ministry of the Interior is looking into what led to UK armoured fighting vehicles bulldozing the wall of a Basra police station jail in a bid to free the Special Forces soldiers.

Inside, troops discovered that the two men had been handed over to the militia by Iraqi police and freed them later from a house in the southern city.

Oh, so they were handed over to the militia. Or maybe they were just handed over to the insurgents.
Iraq's government has admitted insurgents have infiltrated its security forces.

The admission comes as an inquiry continues into events surrounding British troops' controversial rescue of two kidnapped SAS men.

Sigh, makes you wonder. Especially when you find articles like this on the web as "news." Read it. It came up under a search of new on the topic. Here's a taste.
A car driving through the outskirts of a besieged city opens fire on a police checkpoint, killing one. In pursuit, the police surround and detain the drivers and find the vehicle packed with explosives – perhaps part of an insurgent's plan to destroy lives and cripple property. If that isn't enough, when the suspects are thrown in prison their allies drive right up to the walls of the jail, break through them and brave petroleum bombs and burning clothes to rescue their comrades. 150 other prisoners break free in the ensuing melee.

Incredible, no? Yet this story took place in the southern Iraqi city of Basra recently. Violence continues to escalate in the breakout's aftermath... just not for the reasons you think.

You see, the drivers of the explosive-laden car were not members of an insurgency group – they were British Special Forces. Their rescuers? British soldiers driving British tanks.

That's right – two members of the British Armed forces disguised as Arab civilians killed a member of the Iraqi police while evading capture. When the people of Basra rightfully refused to turn the murderers over to the British government, per Coalition "mandate," they sent their own men in and released over 100 prisoners in the process.

Winning the hearts and minds, aren't we?

The conclusion of this all is that the US and coalition forces are responsible for the faked terrorist attacks in order to prompt religious war. Brilliant bit of logic there. I'm betting on my Alcoa stock jumping a few notches today.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Pork Busters

Instapundit link brought me here.

I'll be interested to see who/what will actually make some move to try and be responsible.

I won't hold my breath.

Clueless Gun Op-Ed

You can read the fisking of this article at Ravenwood's Universe.

This guy is a complete moron.

Reading the gun's specs proved to be more than intimidating; it was downright scary. According to the product's website, the M82A1 "easily fires the largest commercially available cartridge in the world, the .50 caliber." The weapon doesn't just fire .50 caliber cartridges like a few other weapons, but does so with ease. What sets it apart from other .50 caliber rifles is the fact that it is not bolt action, but semiautomatic with a ten round clip. Instead of having to manually discharge the empty cartridge then load the next, you can snap off ten shots as fast as you can pull the trigger. Ten rounds at a buck from any .50 caliber rifle will leave hunters with very little to mount. I also learned that the gun has an effective range of over 2,000 yards. Hunters generally shoot at targets 150-200 yards away, so accuracy over ten times that distance is understandable, right? No, it really isn't, especially with a weapon so powerful. Unless the gun was designed for hunters planning on shooting game from over a mile away and then walking 15 minutes to go retrieve it, this weapon could not have been made for hunting.
Beyond the wetting his pants because the gun is "scary," I just find it hard to believe that he would even remotely try to logic the Barrett as a hunting rifle. I'd think that the 33.8 pound weight would make it clear that this isn't a hunting rifle for anyone but the most monstrous of individuals. Why he goes toward that discussion is pretty telling. (sarcasm)Obviously no one could have any other reason to own a gun than for hunting. (/sarcasm)

Nothing like having someone who thinks one should only own something if the need it. Don't need lots of things in life, but that doesn't mean I can't own and use them.

Voting Reform and the Evil ID Card

WaPo again making or passing on the ludicrous notion that having to have an ID card to vote is discrimatory.
The problem recommendation -- which drew a dissent from three of the 20 commission members, including former senator Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) -- would require voters to present a government photo identification at the polls. This may not sound particularly burdensome in an age when, as the commission noted, such IDs "are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check." Yet 12 percent of the voting-age population does not have a driver's license, and those without identification tend disproportionately to be minorities, the elderly and the poor. To its credit, the commission urges states to ensure that such IDs are "easily available and issued free of charge." But for those who don't already have identification, the hurdle of assembling the necessary documentation and obtaining the cards could prove a deterrent to voting.
If they are too lazy to get the ID, then I'd say it's likely they are too lazy to vote. The rest of the population had to get sufficient documentation together to get their driver's license and then had to register to vote on top of that. How is this a deterrent, when they would have to do what the rest of the voting population has already done?
Indeed, election administrators agree that absentee ballots pose a bigger risk of fraud, and in that case the commission would guard against fraud by having election officials match a signature on file. As commission member Spencer Overton, an election law expert at George Washington University, asks, why wouldn't the same be sufficient for those who turn up at the polls without ID? Allowing voters to show alternative forms of identification or to sign a sworn affidavit of eligibility could go a significant way toward deterring fraud without imposing the burden of an inflexible photo ID requirement.
If absentee ballots are such a large risk, do something to fix it. Making the system looser doesn't solve the problem of fraud. As for alternate IDs, sure, why not. As long as they meet a predefined criteria of having a name, address, and photo I think they should be allowed. Military ID's are accepted, passports are accepted, I see no reason why local authorities can't have a list of alternates.

Sworn affidavit? Yeah, there is a secure manner to prevent fraud. How about that affidavit and require a photo be attached of the person that swore it out. Oh, wait, that would probably be inflexible and a deterrent as well.

I'm not saying that there wouldn't be false IDs created, but a bar code or magnetic strip on the card certainly would make it so that they can at least be verified as legitimate. You could even take the relevant data and hash the ID with the person's SSN to make it less prone to simple falsification. (It wouldn't eliminate false IDs, but it certainly would make them less likely to be made inexpensively and frequently.)

Blessed Brighid, Jemma is on board with the use of the IDs. How can you argue with that?
"The American people are losing confidence in the system, and they want electoral reform," Mr. Carter said in a statement.

These are the main recommendations:

¶States, not local jurisdictions, should be in charge of voter registration, and state registration lists should be interconnected so voters could be purged automatically from the rolls in one state when they registered in another.

¶Voters should be required to present photo ID cards at the polls, and states should provide free cards to voters without driver's licenses.

¶States should make registration and voting more convenient with innovations like mobile registration vans and voting by mail and on the Internet.

¶Electronic voting machines should make paper copies for auditing.

¶In presidential election years, after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries, the other states should hold regional primaries and caucuses at monthly intervals in March, April, May and June, with the order rotated.

They're railing against a sodding ID card and they have no issue with the voting by mail/Internet suggestion? After all the whining about the risks of voting with various types of machines, you'd think this would be a no go.

Schneier has a blog entry on the Georgian version of this. (Which from what I have read is flawed in that it does require the person to pay for the ID. That is a poll tax as far as I'm concerned.) It is interesting to read through the comments. One comment that slapped me in the face was this:
Could we outsource identification to Blockbuster Video? People don't seem mind proving who they are when they rent a $2 DVD. If they believe voting is more important than that a photo ID shouldn't be an issue.
Rather inciteful that. And a perfect argument on why the voter's ID is a valid recommendation.

If the ID card is such a concern for security, I'd say that many of the other suggestions have worse security flaws. The state maintained voter list could be hacked and altered, the voting machines could be hacked, Internet voting could be set up to strategically alter vote counts. There are methods to make them all secure, they just will never be 100% fool proof. That is asking more than the fates would allow.

The EPIC comments pointed to in Schneier's blog are interesting to look at. Though I would say that some of their assumptions are rot.
As EPIC has previously explained in the analogous context of voter registration, voter registration was designed to deny suffrage to those groups that were deemed not to be worthy of equal participation in the democratic process. From generation to generation the list of the outcasts of American Democracy included women, new citizens, minorities, young adults, first time voters, poor people and immigrants.
Registration in itself is not what limited the vote. It was the requirements or qualifications for registration that did. Poll taxes, proof of literacy, proof of land ownership, proof of race, have all been used. Registration today merely requires proof of residency. I suppose this does limit one's ability to vote, but only by limiting a person to vote where they live and then only once.

Then there is this:
GeorgiaÂ’s Secretary of State Cathy Cox in letter on April 8, 2005 stated her opposition to the proposed changes in voting identification requirements. The state currently has several measures in place to detect voter fraud of the kind alluded to during the debate over passage of the legislation. To date there is no evidence of fraud having been detected and thus no justification for the restriction of voter identification to only certain state and federal issued identification documents. The nature of voter identity fraud would yield complaints from voters who when attempting to vote in that state would have found that someone had voted in their name. In addition this factor not being present to indicate a need for the change in identification requirements. It should also be noted that Georgia has "“severe criminal sanctions"” for the type of fraud suggested by the passage of the new identification requirements. Further, the application of the new voter identification requirement to absentee voting is courteous. Especially in light of the numerous cases of voter fraud related to the casting of absentee ballots that have been noted by the State Board of Election.
I love that part I highlighted in green. Isn't that the old "more laws will decrease crime" concept? Where have we heard that used before? Think hard. [Think gun control.]

I've also seen statements that this is to fix a problem that doesn't exist. I'd say that is a willingly blind assumption. There isn't a huge amount of real data on voter fraud, but there is some. The present system is so freely open to fraud that actually compiling data on the levels of abuse is unlikely to occur. Partisan politics won't help in documenting the issue either.

This really is a valid point. Too bad that people would rather live with fraud or the chance of fraud, rather than have all voters do a little work for that vote.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Egyptian Elections

Juan Cole... Oh, yeah, I guess I should say more stuff, but usually saying his name and shaking your head communicates quite a lot. First off, lest Professor Cole ever read this (fat chance) let me just say, that I'm not a Middle East expert nor do I play one on TV. I don't read the untranslated Koran. I've never been to the Middle East (although I'd love to go on a tour of Crusading sites... Krak de Chevalierss... ooh... where was I). There, now he can feel totally superiour and dismiss out of hand everything else I say without reading (just trying to help out Prof.).

He's right. Partially. The Egyption elections were rigged. However, the interesting thing isn't that they had rigged elections. The interesting thing is that they had to dance through hoops to try to give the appearance of having elections. These guys did everything they could to make it look like they were having an honest to goodness plebescite. In the past these things were incredibly silly farces with one or two candidates, both from the same party, and the miracle of 100% turnout (no sick or injured, everyone goes to the polls). That's a pretty major change. No, it's not enough, but this guy needs to give some credit where it's due. It's the first election since 1954!

Most of the stuff I've read has said right along that Mubarek was only holding this election because he was forced too, not because he was suddenly a believer in democracy. But damn it, the fact that he was forced into a decision he wouldn't have otherwise made means that things are happening there and they're good things.

Other than that, blah, blah, the US stinks, Bush is failing, everyone except Juan Cole is wrong and stupid, blah, blah, blah.

Seperate Schools for Katrina Students?

I think this is a seriously silly kerfluffle over managing schools & students. Let's look at it this way, we have thousands of people in shelters. Their kids need to go to school. We all agree on these two facts. Now things get entertaining. First off, they're technically homeless (far too many are in fact, but some are only in terms of time), therefor a federal law that prevents discrimination against homeless people comes into play. So, they can't be segregated or marked in any way. But, they still have to go to school. So, the school system has to look at how it handles this. It can bus them all over town, from all over town, in order to distribute them accordingly. In doing this though, it can't mark these students so they get back to the correct shelter. That would be bad. Oh, and lots of people don't want to be bused, that smacks of mistreatement and the poor kids can't go to their local school. Of course the local school can't stack chairs in classrooms, so there's only so many they can take, but opening a school, say next to a shelter, in order to give the kids there an education locally would be artificially segregating them... Gods in the heavens, is it more important that these kids go to school or that narrow little rules that really don't apply to this situation get in the way. What is wrong with starting another school to which all these new students can attend. Let's put it this way, if, instead of one week, a school system had this kind of growth over a couple of years. Wouldn't they bus the kids where they needed to go and/or build a new school near the new neighborhood? That's sure what they're doing in our town, but it doesn't seem to be because of segregation, but because, oh, I don't know, they have to manage their resources maybe... Just a thought.

Hanson & Huffington Debate

I haven't seen it yet, but this is what is linked to at VDH site.

It's a video link. I haven't tried it yet, but you can try and tell me how it is. (I'm at work, so can't really try it at the moment.)

Why Wars End

Niall Ferguson article relating to why the world has seen a decline in armed conflicts world-wide.

There are significantly fewer wars in the world today than there were 10 years ago. After a peak in around 1990 - when the end of the Cold War seemed to have unleashed a New World Disorder - the number of wars in progress has fallen to just 20. And many of these are rather small-scale affairs.

According to the University of Maryland's Centre for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM), "global warfare has decreased by over 60 per cent since peaking in the mid-1980s, falling… to its lowest level since the late 1950s". In the past three years alone, 11 wars have ended, in countries ranging from Indonesia and Sri Lanka in Asia, to Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia in sub-Saharan Africa.

The two most striking features of war in our time have been, first, the decline of traditional inter-state warfare and, second, the rise and fall of civil war. Since the end of the Cold War there have been just a handful wars between separate states, and most of these were of very short duration: Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent war to liberate it; the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the various American-led interventions to topple "rogue regimes" in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The most interesting conclusion he makes is:
Yet maybe there's a third explanation for the recent peace "wave". Maybe local people, regardless of foreign intervention, are simply opting for peace because they're sick to death of fighting each other. War, after all, is attractive only to a minority of people: bored young men and the cynical politicians who see violence as a route to power and its perquisites. That's why only a handful of the post-1989 civil wars lasted longer than seven years.
An interesting read.

North Korea Abandoning its Nuclear Program?

Sounds like a start, but you'll forgive me remaining skeptical.

North Korea agreed Monday to end its nuclear weapons program in return for security, economic and energy benefits, potentially easing tensions with the United States after a two-year standoff over the North's efforts to build atomic bombs.

The United States, North Korea and four other nations participating in negotiations in Beijing signed a draft accord in which the North promised to abandon efforts to produce nuclear weapons and re-admit international inspectors to its nuclear facilities.

The draft accord commits North Korea to scrap all of its existing nuclear weapons and nuclear production facilities, to rejoin the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and to readmit international nuclear inspectors. North Korea withdrew from the treaty and expelled inspectors in 2002, after the United States accused it of violating a previous agreement to end its nuclear program.

The United States and North Korea also pledged to respect each other's sovereignty and right to peaceful coexistence and to work toward normalization of relations. The two countries have no full diplomatic relations and did not sign a peace treaty after the Korean War.

It's not a final deal, and this is a country that has failed to live up to such agreements before. So this sounds a bit thin at the moment.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Max Boot on Yahoo's Disgraceful Activity in China

Yahoo, among other high-tech companies have been facilitating political repression in China. I've always been a very strong believer in capitalism being the way to move countries into freedom, but in this case I really believe that Yahoo is letting money overwhelm what is right.
Shi, the victim of Yahoo's shameful behavior, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for "illegally sending state secrets abroad." Shi was a reporter for a Chinese newspaper, Contemporary Business News. His crime consisted of e-mailing to a New York-based website information about a supposedly secret directive his newspaper had received from the state propaganda department telling it how to cover the 15th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. The security services were able to track him down thanks to information helpfully provided by Yahoo's Hong Kong affiliate, whose e-mail service Shi used.
Yahoo isn't alone.
Yahoo, Google, MSN and other Web search engines have agreed to block searches in China involving words such as "Tibetan independence" or "human rights." Bloggers can't post messages involving "democracy" or other "dangerous" concepts. Rupert Murdoch's Star TV has agreed not to carry BBC news or other information that the Chinese government might not like. Cisco has sold Beijing thousands of routers programmed to monitor Internet usage and flag for the secret police any "subversive" sentiments.
I understand fully that these companies have a base interest to make money for there stock holders, but that doesn't mean I need approve of their use of there technology to continue repression.

What to do though? I doubt that legislation as Boot suggests would really work. Unfortunately, the ability to force these companies to be good world citizens through economics won't be very effective. Cisco for one doesn't deal with individuals, they deal primarily with large companies. Yahoo could be battered, but there isn't much likelihood that that will happen, since the fate of those like Shi are pretty much ignored by the MSM and most of the world.

Zombie Test

Ok last one. Couldn't resist this one, though I'd put odds that I'd do better than the guy who wrote this thinks.

Official Survivor
Congratulations! You scored 67%!

Whether through ferocity or quickness, you made it out. You made the
right choice most of the time, but you probably screwed up somewhere.
Nobody's perfect, at least you're alive.
My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 65% on survivalpoints
Link: The Zombie Scenario Survivor Test written by ci8db4uok on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Descendants Test

Ok, So I'm a bit bored.

And sometimes these tests are kind of fun.

176,570 descendants
- you're more genetically fit than 51% of the current population -
Not bad. You're no Mongol warlord, but to have that many copies of your genetic code running around 800 years from now is pretty impressive.

You're in the lower middle of the scoring spectrum, but, honestly, when you consider that the cheaters, swindlers, and football players of this world are statistically best-equipped to create children, scoring low is something to be proud of. As you'll see below, some of your lines will die out, but nonetheless your genetic material will thrive here on earth for a long time to come.

A close friend of mine created a program to generate family trees for this test. It's based on your unique answers. We accounted for sterility, birth rates, death rates, disease, drug abuse, nitwitism, and accidents and came up with this, for you. Note that you'll have significant offspring with two separate partners; the second of your genetic lines is slighly faded to make the chart easier to read. The second line could represent either a second marriage or an affair:

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 59% on fitnessfactor
Link: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Test written by gwendolynbooks on Ok Cupid

Political Test

Saw this at The Smallest Minority.

Looks pretty accurate to me. Though like TSM I don't understand how Kerry got place dead center. That really doesn't make much sense. Also, why is Adam Sandler on the chart at all?

You are a

Social Liberal
(71% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(68% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Friday, September 16, 2005


The geekwife sent this link to me on a debate between Hitchens and Galloway. Very amusing. Though I did find the New York crowds reaction to 9/11 as disturbing.

This all triggered me to check on commentary on the Hanson vs. Huffington brawl. The news and commentary are shockingly lacking. There was so much trumpeting about this debate on September 14th I would have sworn there would have been a lot about it. This is all I found.


LGF has some comments here. I haven't tried the link to see if there is a recorded version of the debate.

Another UPDATE:
Here is a blog coverage of the Hitchens/Galloway brawl from OxBlog.
If you're especially into pain and aggravation, you can listen to the debate archive at I haven't even gotten into the debate and I'm thinking of turning it off. The exceptional left twist of the pre-debate commentary is just pathetic. Should have expected it when they announced they are from Stop The War Productions.

Oh, and if you need to have visual punishment along with vocal punishment, you can see this mess at C-SPAN (Book TV) Saturday, 9PM EST or Sunday, 12PM EST.

If you are fortunate to be able to fast-forward through the pre-debate analysis, there is some humor in listening to Hitchens slap Galloway around. (He even slaps the crowd down once calling them "booing morons" just before they start booing, at which point they sound like they stop quickly.

Not a very good debate. No debate at all from what I've heard. You need to have two people argue a point. I haven't heard any actual arguments on the point from Galloway.

Roberts Commerce Clause Comments

Glenn Reynolds gets up tight over Roberts' answer to a Schumer question on the commerce clause. I think maybe he should re-read the comment looking at what was actually said. I also find it a bit strange that Schumer didn't catch on that Roberts' undercuts his assumption.

SCHUMER: OK. Let me ask you, then, this hypothetical: And that is that it came to our attention, Congress', through a relatively and inexpensive, simple process, individuals were now able to clone certain species of animals, maybe an arroyo toad. Didn't pass over state lines; you could somehow do it without doing any of that. Under the commerce clause, can Congress pass a law banning even noncommercial cloning?

ROBERTS: I appreciate it's a hypothetical, and you will as well, so I don't mean to be giving bindings opinions. But it would seem to me that Congress can make a determination that this is an activity, if allowed to be pursued, that is going to have effects on interstate commerce. Obviously if you were successful in cloning an animal, that's not going to be simply a local phenomenon. That's going to be something people are going to...

SCHUMER: We can leave it at that. That's a good answer, as far as I am concerned.

Schumer states the assumption that the activity of cloning wouldn't pass over state lines. Roberts then clearly states that congress could determine that it went over state lines and could then regulate it.

I think Reynolds is missing a point that the hypothetical was flawed, and allowed that there is an alternative view on whether interstate commerce is involved. Also missed is that just because congress chooses to regulate under the commerce clause, doesn't mean that a SCOTUS finding couldn't over turn the law if an activity is determined never to be effecting interstate commerce.

Am I missing something here?

Paying for Hurricane Recovery

I caught this from Bainbridge. You should read his derisive remarks about Tom Delay. He's pretty much completely correct.

But the topic leads to a $$$ link at the WSJ. So you have to read Bainbridges quote.

This article, brief though it is, also points to pork that could be trimmed out of the Highway bill to pay for the recovery efforts. Though you'll laugh to see that they think that no one should touch that money.
Keep your hands off the estimated $24 billion in "pork" within the recently approved federal highway bill unless those projects are for national safety.

That is our recommendation to the U.S. representatives and senators whose 6,300 "district" projects are included in the $284 billion bill.

Just a bit irritating that they don't want to contribute with money that is already in place instead of tacking on another huge deficit bill. Of course, they have an alternate suggestion:

Eliminating the pork in the highway bill would be a start. Two other ideas have been floated that deserve discussion: Delaying the Medicare prescription drug benefit plan scheduled to become effective Jan. 1, and calling for across-the-board, 10 percent spending cuts in federal budgets. Conservative groups have said delaying the drug plan would save an estimated $40 billion to $50 billion.
Umm. Yeah, that's a bloody brilliant alternative.

I can think of better alternatives. Take a little look at the Transportation Bill and the Energy Bill. Those two are so laden with lard that it's hard to believe they wouldn't be looked at for a trim. (Entertainingly, neither bill's final content is yet in print.)

Fiscal responsibility was once something you hoped to see from a republican, because you knew you couldn't get it out of a democrat. Now, I'm failing to see much of a difference between the two on spending.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Slate's Nonsensical Rantings on Roberts Hearing

I realize that the judiciary hearings for the supreme court are rather frustrating, but rants like this idiotic piece show a writer with pen engaged and brain off.
Then the increasingly crazed Joe Biden, D-Del., gets involved: "Does the right to privacy include the right to make the difficult decision when to no longer continue using an artificial apparatus to keep your parents alive?" Roberts cannot answer since that is "an area pending before the court."

"Just talk to me as a father," pleads Biden. Roberts says he will not consider this in the context of a father or husband. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., emotes even harder. She can't understand why he was so candid yesterday morning and then totally shut down after lunch. "Did anyone caution you?" she asks worriedly. Or did he spill iced tea on himself at lunch and short-circuit his memory bank? "I guess what has begun to concern me a little bit is Judge Roberts, the legal automaton, as opposed to Judge Roberts, the man," Feinstein says. Then she tries to get him to answer Biden's right-to-die question but pretend it's him dying as opposed to his wife or children. When he begins to offer a legal answer, she urges, "I am trying to get your feelings as a man."

It's like a bad method-acting class. Pretend your puppy's dead, judge. We'll be needing some tears here. Feinstein sticks to the dead-people theme as she names all the children who died due to guns after the court struck down the Gun-Free School Zones Act in Lopez. Silly Rabbit. Doesn't she know Vulcans only get feelings once every seven years? And then only long enough to mate?

I continually get the feeling that articles written by the likes of Slate contributors show frustration, but don't ever bother to point out the precedent of Roberts' refusal to answer and the reasons why this really is proper.

Precedent, just look at the Ginsburg hearings. Breyer may have spoken more during his earings, but it definitely comes down to the nominee to decide what is appropriate. It should also be noted that the ABA has a doctrine related to all of this.
3) A candidate* for a judicial office:

(a) shall maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office and act in a manner consistent with the impartiality,* integrity and independence of the judiciary, and shall encourage members of the candidate’s family* to adhere to the same standards of political conduct in support of the candidate as apply to the candidate;

(b) shall prohibit employees and officials who serve at the pleasure of the candidate*, and shall discourage other employees and officials subject to the candidate’s direction and control from doing on the candidate’s behalf what the candidate is prohibited from doing under the Sections of this Canon;

(c) except to the extent permitted by Section 5C(2), shall not authorize or knowingly* permit any other person to do for the candidate* what the candidate is prohibited from doing under the Sections of this Canon;

(d) shall not:

(i) with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial* performance of the adjudicative duties of the office; or

(ii) knowingly* misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent;

Slate's contributer then list the questions that he refused to answer with snarky comments.
  • He won't answer questions about any case currently pending before the Supreme Court (abortion, right-to-die);
  • He won't answer questions about any case that might someday conceivably be pending before the Supreme Court (separation of powers, contested presidential elections);
  • He won't answer questions he's decided on the court of appeals (since they may someday conceivably be pending before the Supreme Court);
  • He won't answer questions about prior nominees (Robert Bork) because that is not appropriate;
  • He can't answer questions about general legal doctrine because they are too general;
  • He can't answer questions about specific legal doctrine because they are too specific;
  • He can't answer questions about his early memos because a robot wrote them.
Cases before the court are off limits because should he get on the court he would have to judge them and making statements relative to such a case could prejudice how the case is argued. So not answering is correct. The second and third points are valid for the same reason.

Questions on prior nominees, especially failed ones I'd say is a personal choice. Personally, I can't see any relevance to questions related to failed nominees.

"General" legal doctrine questions get general answers, which opens his answers to interpretation. With the present political environment, I would say his refusal is appropriate. Especially since distorting statements or cherry picking sections of testimony and making commentary is very common. (Yup, just what I'm doing. But I will demand you read the full statements and not just take my word for it. Which is something the MSM is incapable of doing.)

I disagree with the statement on specific doctrine. I haven't seen a question that is specific that doesn't violate the first three complaints. You can't as specific questions in a forced context. Especially when you're intent is to try and dodge the Ginsburg rule.

As to the memos, this statement is just foolish. A lawyer is set to advocate for the client. It isn't an indication that he can't make independent logical conclusions, nor that the conclusions made in the memo are indicative of personal beliefs.

I wonder if there was this much whining going on during the Ginsburg hearings?

Pledge Controversy Revived

I suppose I'm not surprised at this sour grape popping into the mix again. After the ruling of the SCOTUS on the first try, I was pretty much certain this guy would find someone to make him relevant to the case.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton said he was bound by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled that the words "under God," added by Congress in 1954 during the McCarthy era, rendered the pledge unconstitutional.

Michael A. Newdow, the atheist who won the 9th Circuit ruling, ultimately lost his case last year before the U.S. Supreme Court. Without deciding the constitutional question of separation of church and state, the high court ruled that Newdow had no legal standing to sue on behalf of his grade-school daughter because he did not have primary custody.

Newdow still lacks standing, but his new lawsuit may go forward because he has added plaintiffs who are parents with full custody of their children, Karlton decided. The ruling affects the Elk Grove Unified School District, the Eleverta Joint School District and the Rio Linda Union School District in Sacramento County.
The issue is a bit complicated, if you bother to look at it equitably.

First is Newdow's claim that this is unconstitutional because it appears to be an attempt to establish a religion controlled by the first amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I'll say that the original intent of adding the line "under God" wasn't likely to be any attempt to establish a state religion, but most certainly was focused on the Christian God. The change only came in 1954, so I doubt any historical perogative could exist. Personally, I fail to see this as any attempt to establish a religion or prohibition of the free exercise therof.

I would, in fact, point out that if Newdow is using this as his argument, I would say it certainly appears that he is attempting to establish Atheism as the state religion/philosophy. Maybe not. But I do see that as a valid point of view for those who have firm religious beliefs. In fact you could say, that if the SCOTUS finds in favor of Newdow, that they are "prohibiting the free exercise" of religious beliefs.

In my opinion this is forcing the SCOTUS to draw a line in the sand, but a line that will be very difficult to interpret. If they allow the Newdow finding, will it then indicate that Congress can't have a prayer before starting a session?

I just can't find any logic, or anything in the constitution that promotes an Atheistic world view as being more valid than a Theistic view. I fully believe that this is a perfect example where strict reading of the constitution is correct. The government can't create laws establishing or forbidding or restricting religion.

Personally, I'd rather see the pledge in its historically original version. But this case isn't about the pledge.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Roberts Hearing

I watched a bunch of the testimony yesterday and some of the clips, of various earlier section, of the hearings. Pretty much what I expected. Biden and Kennedy were exceptionally combative and couldn't allow answers from the judge to block their political rants. Kennedy was appalling. One of his questions was very long and meandering with a huge number of assumptions, and when Roberts didn't immediately agree with him, he just started talking over him.

Well, most of the senators were polite for the most part. I have to agree with the commentary I've seen at SCOTUSblog and elsewhere, that Roberts showed he was more clever and able than those questioning him.

Of course, abortion/privacy was the primary torture device of the day. Personally I think the relevant subject on this topic was related to precedence.
Roberts told Specter that he respected the doctrine of stare decisis -- letting decided issues stand -- adding, "I do think it is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent." But some long-standing cases deserve to be overturned, he said, such as those that legalized slavery in the 19th century and racial segregation in the 20th century.

Roberts set forth criteria that he said judges and justices should use to determine whether to "revisit" a precedent, saying they include "settled expectations," the court's legitimacy and whether a precedent is workable or has been "eroded by subsequent developments."

"It is not enough that you may think the prior decision was wrongly decided," said Roberts, who during the 1980s signed a memo saying that Roe was "wrongly decided" and should be overturned.

When Specter asked whether the decision's legal legs have been eroded, Roberts replied: "I feel the need to stay away from a discussion of particular cases."

Later, Biden asked whether "there is a right of privacy to be found in the liberty clause of the 14th Amendment?" Roberts replied, "I do, Senator. I think that the court's expressions, and I think if my reading of the precedent is correct, I think every justice on the court believes that, to some extent or another." The answer appeared ambiguous because some of the current justices have made it clear they would support overturning Roe .

I think the WaPo interpretation of what was said isn't correct. It isn't ambiguous to state his belief that all of the justices believe that privacy rights exist in the 14th Amendment, even if some of those justices believe that Roe overstepped the bounds of what the Supreme Court is supposed to do.

Personally, I found the hearings to be frustrating to watch. The senator's grand-standing with their political diatribe and, in some cases, openly antagonistic questioning just sets your teeth on edge. Then there is the Ginzberg dodge, which I can understand, but would still like to know the answers. I understand the reasons why they shouldn't answer, but I still would like to know. Biden's bickering about Roberts not answering some questions, and then stating that they should fall under the Ginzberg principle was just amusing. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that senators believe they are always correct. It's just kind of fun when they run into someone that they can't brow-beat or defeat in the argument.