Friday, September 30, 2005

Why did Judith Miller stay in jail?

I think this NY Times article says it all:

Mr. Libby's side says he gave Ms. Miller unequivocal permission to testify about her conversations with Mr. Libby concerning his role, if any, in the disclosure of the identify of the officer, Valerie Wilson, also known as Valerie Plame.

In a letter from Mr. Libby to Ms. Miller this month, he expressed surprise that her lawyers had asked him to "repeat for you the waiver of confidentiality that I specifically gave to your counsel over a year ago." He added that he expected her testimony to help him.
Can’t have that!
Democrats slogan for 2006: “_________

Mort Kondracke writes that the Democrats are going to try to re-create the 1994 Gingrich revolution by offering up a positive agenda right before the 2006 midterms: “Democrats do plan to ‘go positive’ – but not until 2006”:

House and Senate Democrats are delighted with the apparent defeat of Bush's Social Security "privatization" plan - the political equivalent, they think, of the Clinton 1994 health debacle - and Senate Democrats are planning to replicate the tactics and structure of that campaign on other issues for 2006.
This is both pretzel logic and wishful thinking. The Clinton health care plan involved a government restructuring of one-sixth of the entire U.S. economy. Cooked up in secret meetings, the public worried about whether the proposal would make things worse and it was defeated in a Democrat-controlled Congress.

How the Democrats will engineer the 1994 scenario with Social Security escapes me. Most Americans know that the current system is unsustainable, especially workers under 40 who will almost certainly see a portion of their Social Security benefit shrink. In 1994, Republicans said: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In 2006, the Democrats are going to flip that into “it is broke, let’s not fix it.” This is not a blueprint, or even a scribbled napkin, for victory.

Oh, and I don’t believe for a nanosecond that the Democrats will emerge with a new “Contract with America” a month before the midterms. It’s almost bizarre how an American political party can be so paralyzed by special interests that it can’t formulate a coherent position on any topic:

[Democratic pollster Stan] Greenberg and other Democratic campaign strategists have complained for months that their party's leaders, Mrs. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and their leading presidential contenders have been unable to reach a unifying party consensus on a campaign agenda.

After crunching exhaustive voter preference numbers, Mr. Greenberg is telling party leaders that the present "Democratic margin reflects Republican slippage but no subsequent gains for Democrats, who have not yet defined themselves or what changes they would bring."
A lot of bloggers on the Left are salivating over the string of GOP scandals, but mark well these words by Kevin Drum:

I've long been of the opinion that although Democrats are obviously in trouble these days, it's still the case that they're losing elections by only a few points — and even a moderate change in the political climate could turn that around. Well, this is it. If Democrats still can't win in 2006, then we've got serious problems.
Political parties exist to represent an ideology; a road map of government for the public to decide upon. Aside from chronic Bush-hatred, the Democrats don’t seem to have one. Furthermore, if they think opposition to Social Security reform presents the image that they’re fighting for working Americans, they’re even more deluded than I thought. From Howard Dean on down, the Democrats have serious problems indeed.

Follow-up – Mark Kilmer concurs: “The Dems are coughing up blood, running on fumes which double as hot air. They are leaderless and agendaless, powerless to do much more than throw little rocks at Tom DeLay and have their buddies in the press write about how awful the Republicans must be feeling.” Yeah, it sucks being in charge of every branch of the government. Try winning an election.
Air America dropped in Philly - A true “I wouldn’t worry about Boston – it’s not a big college town” moment: the liberal radio network was yanked from WHAT-AM in Philadelphia. It doesn’t get more direct than this: “Ratings were abysmal.”

Extra – Ryne says: “If you can’t make it in Philly, you can’t make it anywhere.”
Morning politics - This morning on C-Span’s Washington Journal the call-in question was “Are the Democrats devoid of ideas?” Almost all the callers to the “Democrats” line said the problem was that the Dems need more “conviction” and “backbone” yet couldn’t name a single idea or position when pressed.
I sense a trend – Check out this mini-poll on Right Wing News of conservative bloggers and who they don’t want Bush to tap for the next Supreme Court slot.

BTW, on the TradeSports Supreme Court market, there are only three candidates who are trading above a 10% probability in a large field: Harriet Miers, Karen Williams and Connie Maria Callahan.
Is there a problem here? – “Strip away "Into the Blue's" perfunctory, agonizingly drawn-out story line about an attempt to salvage a pirate vessel parked beside a downed plane full of cocaine, and one would find maybe 40 minutes of footage brazenly concerned with [Jessica] Alba's topography and underwater lap dance.” Sounds like a great movie!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The paper of record - The NY Times: sloppy, biased and sometimes just plain stupid

Update - Throw “insane” on the fire: “I hope some day somebody writes all this down, because the whole story is unbelievable. Miller never writes a story about Plamegate, but insists she must keep her sources secret, even though the name of her primary source, Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby, has long since been a matter of public record -- and has publicly released her from her pledge of anonymity. She decides to go to jail to protect the principle of source anonymity, and is only weeks away from being sprung (because the grand jury she was refusing to talk to will go out of business in Ocrober [sic]) before she abandons her stand on principle and decides to talk. And all this in relation to a matter that may well not have been a crime to begin with. Weird wacko crazy bananas.”

Extra – OK, “economically illiterate” too.
I should get the punditry silver medal, if such a thing exists

Although I didn’t win the John Roberts confirmation prediction contest, I came awfully close with a guess of 12-6 on the Judiciary committee (actual: 13-5) and 77-23 on the Senate vote (actual: 78-22). Congrats to Bill W and, of course, our 17th Chief Justice, John Glover Roberts.
Reform Thursday - Will Franklin runs the numbers: Longer lifespans + a shrinking workforce = trouble for Social Security
Bluffers and the bluffy bluffs they bluff – Mark Coffey beat me to the post with “Filibuster showdown – I don’t believe it.” Neither do I. Despite the problems for the Republicans, the Democrats are simply too fractured to maintain a judicial filibuster, especially for such a high-profile position.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Tom Delay flashback

From PBS’s News Hour, December 2001:

JIM LEHRER: All right. Another big move today, a big story in the Congress this week was the announcement by Dick Armey that he is not going to run for reelection to his seat in Texas. That means he will no longer be the House Majority Leader. How significant is that, David?

DAVID BROOKS: It's significant because Tom Delay is going to replace him, and that's pretty sure. And it's a great Christmas story because it brings joy to the world.
Democrats love the fact they'll have Tom DeLay to beat up for the next however many years. And Republicans like the fact because although when Tom DeLay's name is mentioned in Washington, you're supposed to hide the women and children because he is such a monster.
He is in fact the best legislator alive on the planet. He delivers vote after vote for the Bush Administration for the Republicans. He holds the Republicans together. He has been a devastatingly effective whip. Not the most attractive guy in the world but incredibly effective, incredibly good at his job.
OTOH, John Hawkins of Right Wing News says: “It’s time for Tom DeLay to go.”
Spiffy - GOP Bloggers is finally re-designed. Much better.
A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich

I’m coming in late to the Tom Delay story, but it doesn’t look good. Combine this with the Bill “Blind trust” Frist, and you have all the makings of an “abuse of power” narrative for the Democrats. Still, there’s a lot of indication that this case is extremely weak and perhaps impossible to prosecute successfully:

Media Blog: “Bottom line: Even people who aren't fans of Tom DeLay should show some intellectual honesty and admit that this is an out-of-control prosecutor and a phony charge.” And this: “I doubt that the case will go to trial.. It would be a difficult and technical prosecution.”
NRO’s Corner: “The more I analyze this, the more outrageous this appears.”
Jeffrey Toobin on CNN: “Conspiracy charges are very hard to prove without an insider.”
PowerLine: “[The indictment] is pathetic. The only time it mentions DeLay's name is when it alleges that he agreed to toll the statute of limitations! The indictment contains no suggestion of what he supposedly did that was illegal.”
Captain Ed: “Don't be surprised to find this indictment quashed within a few weeks.”
And here’s a huge roundup on Michelle Malkin's blog.
It’s all part of my Social Security fantasy

Robert Samuelson argues that the economic plight of Germany and Japan (average growth rate over the past 8 years: 1%) are a prelude to the institutional problems that face the United States:

A successful democracy gives people a chance to protect their interests and lifestyles. But when these protections try to deny unalterable economic realities, they become self-defeating. Still, it's hard to adjust to shifting realities, because changes offend voting blocs that benefit from the status quo. So it is that Americans have a massively complex tax system, because powerful constituencies protect many dubious tax preferences. So it is that huge U.S. budget deficits persist; any combination of spending cuts and tax increases arouses a coalition of the angry.

And so it is that -- despite a gradual aging of the population that will require huge and probably damaging tax increases -- no one has seriously attempted to contain these costs. It is easier to pretend that there will be no ill effects. The Japanese and Germans took the same attitude toward their problems. They hoped there would be no day of reckoning. They were wrong.
Katrina and Rita have only underscored the entitlement mentality that there’s no problem too great or small that cannot be buried under a mountain of spending. The crisis of entitlement spending is that while the Gulf Coast will be rebuilt someday, Social Security and Medicare will go on forever.
9/11 as a corporate philosophy

From a Fortune magazine article on the culture of Korean electronic giant Samsung:

The VIP Center—which stands for Value Innovation Program, not Very Important Person—is definitely a guy’s kind of hangout. The hospital-drab walls are decorated mainly by flow charts, timelines of technological achievement, and above every urinal in the men’s room, a picture of a jet exploding into the side of the World Trade Center in New York City. (The Korean text over the pictures warns of the importance of maintaining top security and reminds the viewer that disaster can strike out of the blue.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Amazing Race: Family Edition – And they’re off!

Yes, yes, it’s time again for a brand-new season of “The Amazing Race” which, for the third year in a row, won the Emmy for best reality show. Instead of eleven teams of two, this season’s race involves ten teams of four family members. There are too many to describe in detail right now, but I’ll get to them in turn.

All teams started out from a park under the Brooklyn Bridge and the first clue directed them to jump into their (sponsor-approved!) GM Yukons and find (sponsor!) the EMS store in Soho where they will pick up camp equipment. Nothing to note here other than the standard scramble that Race fans have seen for years. After teams pick up sleeping bags and such, they’re directed to “find frank” at a hot dog stand on 91st street in New York City. At the hot dog stand are two heavy-set guys with thick accents, ready to hand out TAR clues. Wait a second: it’s Kevin and Drew from season one! They hand over a clue directing teams to Washington Crossing State Park on the Delaware River.

Teams drive out of New York City over the George Washington Bridge, across New Jersey and to the park where rowboats are waiting. Teams must take a boat across the Delaware River, retrieve a 13-star American flag, and return back to the other side. The Aiello family – a father with his three sons-in-law – finish first in a possible signal that the children-heavy teams are going to fall aside. We’ll see.

The next clue after this first task sends teams 34 miles away to Philadelphia where they need to find Fairmont Park and the Beaumont Plateau. This is a mini-pitstop and teams will be camping here for the night before continuing this leg of the race in the morning. The third team to arrive is the Gaghan family with two young children and another team exclaims: “How did the little kids beat us here?” Ah, the vagaries of the Amazing Race. No teams are eliminated at this point, but the departure times in the morning are staggered between 10, 10:30, and 11 a.m.

Heavy rain the next morning and the teams leave in bunches on their way to the next stop: Brubaker Farm in Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania. Here the teams find the first Detour: Build it or Buggy it. Teams must either build an Amish-style waterwheel with materials provided or pull an Amish buggy over 1.5 miles. Several teams start out with the buggy before they realize how far the distance is (plus, the ground it wet and muddy from the rain). Building the waterwheel presents its own problems for those teams who are not mechanically inclined. The teams that finish up are then instructed to head to the Rohrer Family Farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – this is the first Pit Stop of the Race.

The last twenty minutes of this leg is a jumble with teams still building, pulling buggies, or racing to the Pit Stop. Here’s the final order:

#1 – Team Gadlewski – first place and $20,000 bonus
#2 – Team Gaghan
#3 – Team Weaver
#4 – Team Rogers
#5 – Team Schroeder
#6 – Team Paolo
#7 – Team Bransen
#8 – Team Aiello
#9 – Team Linz
#10 – Team Black – ELIMINATED

Next week: Teams are heading to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (or maybe Antietam, Maryland) for a Civil War re-enactment. Also, clever names are assigned to the remaining teams.

Extra – Here’s the review from Zebrality (aka Dummocrats) and Brainster. Clearly, I committed a faux pas by using the word “eliminated” instead of the more appropriate “Phil-liminated.” Also, did you catch Phil’s enormous eyebrow arch at the start? It was unworldly!
The SCOTUS scuttlebutt

Red State says it’s Priscilla Owen (or maybe Alberto Gonzales)
Confirm Them hints at Miguel Estrada (or maybe Diane Sykes)
K-Lo has a thing for Michael Luttig
Viking Pundit continues to stick by Emilio Garza but believes that Janice Rogers Brown would be the most fun.

Update – Now the buzz is back to Karen Williams.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Would you believe…I used to be a huge “Get Smart” fan?

Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, Don Adams has passed away. My favorite bit was when Max was bluffing to get a KAOS agent to give up. It usually went something like this:

Max: “At this very moment there are 50 CONTROL agents on their way.”
Bad guy: “I find that very hard to believe.”
Max: “Would you believe a cop and a German shepherd?”
Bad guy: “No.”
Max: “How about a Boy Scout with a BB gun?”

Classic. More “Get Smart” quotes here.
The most dangerous jobAl-Qaeda/Zarqawi’s #2 killed in Iraq
The Democrats got nothin’ – a continuing series

Here’s NY Times columnist David Brooks on “Meet the Press”:

You look across the party and you see some Democrats who really are working on policy ideas. I think of John Edwards, Steny Hoyer, one of the House leaders who had a foreign policy document come out this week. But most Democrats seem to be acting as if the main problem with the country is that the country doesn't hate George Bush enough. And if we only shout louder, they'll hate him more like tourists in Paris who think they'll understand us if we scream a little louder. And to me, it's led to the brain death of the Democratic Party. I don't know where the party stands on Iraq. I don't know where it stands on entitlement spending. On issue after issue, I really don't know where that party stands.
As if to accentuate this point, liberal columnist Maureen Dowd was asked by Tim Russert what exactly Bush should be doing and she responded with a vapid, ad hominem attack that left Jonah Goldberg fuming: “Dowd once again seemed to revel in her unseriousness.” Now there’s a documentary coming out of John Kerry’s run for the White House (HT: Ex-Donkey); here’s the press release with emphasis added:

A press release claims the movie - which won't be shown publicly until Thursday - "turns a harsh but deeply revealing mirror on the campaign ... a disorganized, contentious, self-absorbed team that thought they could win by 'not making mistakes,' and keeping their candidate in the public eye without clarifying a position on anything."
I’ve long been critical of the Democrats for failing to take any coherent position on that cornerstone of the New Deal, Social Security. The debate and vote over John Roberts will further reveal them as a party that is slavish to George Soros and the MoveOn moneymakers. Move along, no policies to see here.
It’s a lockUSA Today: “John Roberts appears to have at least 64 votes, a clear Senate majority, for confirmation as the nation's next chief justice after Sen. Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, announced Sunday that he will back President Bush's nominee.” It would be nice to think that Salazar voted for Roberts because he was eminently qualified rather than the fact that the Senator is from a very conservative state.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The new math – How many war protesters in Washington this weekend? Silent Running has an illustrative comparison.

Extra – Byron York goes “Inside the anti-war demo”: “Stop the war. Impeach Bush. Destroy Israel. Remember Katrina. And don’t forget Florida and Ohio.”
A new day for nuclear

From the Boston Globe: “The pendulum swings back towards nuclear power

Fast-forward to today. In case you hadn't noticed, the price of oil has gone up a lot -- to about $64 a barrel. The price of natural gas -- the most popular fuel source in New England's power plants -- has gone up even more sharply. Utilities that venture out to buy electricity in the spot market are paying three times as much for power as they did a year ago. Consumers could pay about 20 percent more for electricity this winter, largely because of higher oil and gas prices.
On “Meet the Press” this morning, NY Times columnist Tom Friedman explained why an Apollo-style mission for energy independence is critical for our national security. He’s not wrong. Unfortunately, nobody wants to make the sacrifices necessary for genuine independence including building more oil refineries, boosting domestic production of oil and natural gas and, yes, nuclear power plants. If anything, our energy problems will be exacerbated as nuclear plants, which provide 20% of all electricity in America, are decommissioned over the next quarter-century.
What’s a fiscal conservative to do? – Betsy has a mini-roundup of conservative columnists complaining about ballooning government spending. She notes that Ronald Reagan vetoed a highway bill but the veto was overridden by Congress and thus it’s hard to drive pork out of Washington. Perhaps, but President Bush hasn’t made even a token effort to limit spending. I don’t think it’s sufficient or responsible to say that the Democrats would be worse. We need to cut spending with a machete, not tweezers.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Sunday morning - Mark Kilmer has the lineup for tomorrow's talk shows. Mary Landrieu will be on Late Edition so tune in to see if she's off her meds again.
Wonder of wonders - The NY Times public editor defends Geraldo Rivera and condemns Gail Collins and Paul Krugman. (HT: Ace)
Say what? - Tom Maguire surveys the relative influence of left and right bloggers. Apparently we conservatives are all-powerful and highly disciplined in our allegiance to Lord Rove (or not) while the lefties are struggling to get their message across because of a hostile media (or not). Be sure to read the comments also.
Zimbabwe soccer players flee from paradise

Remember this?: “President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, said in an interview with The Associated Press that his people are "very, very happy"…”

From CNN:

Eight Zimbabwean soccer players and two officials deserted their teams after a tour of Britain, joining thousands of fellow citizens who have sought refuge abroad over a serious political and economic crisis at home.
Expect more of this.
Don’t pay the New York Times

A pox on TimesSelect: here’s yesterday’s column by David Brooks:

John Kerry and John Edwards ran for office together and they lost together, and they both gave major speeches about Katrina this week, but there the similarity ends. The two men might as well live in different worlds.

Kerry began his speech by making the point that Bush and his crew are rotten. He then went on to make the point that Bush and his crew are loathsome. In the third section of the speech, Kerry left the impression that Bush and his crew are evil.
Now we all know people so consumed by hatred for George Bush that they haven't had an unpredictable thought in five years, but in Kerry's speech one sees this anger in almost clinical form.

In the first place, not even Karl Rove's worldview is so obsessively Bush-centric as John Kerry's. There are many interesting issues raised by Katrina, but for Senator Ahab it all goes back to the great white monster, Bush. Bush and his crew should have known the levees were weak. Bush and his crew should have known thousands in New Orleans would be trapped. (Did I miss Kerry's own warnings on these subjects?) All reality flows back to Bush. All begins with Bush, ends with Bush, is explained by Bush and is polluted by Bush, cursed be thy name.
Brooks compares the speeches by John Kerry and John Edwards and concludes that it’s Edwards who actually has some ideas while Kerry is stuck in red-meat mode. One thing that always annoys me about Kerry is he’s masterful at proclaiming that “somebody should do something” but he’s spent twenty years in the Senate with nearly no accomplishments to call his own. Some leader he is.

Extra: A heap of scorn is piled on Kerry over at Hub Politics.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Opiate of the people – In Iran, it’s, well, opium. According to a U.N. report, Iran has by far the highest proportion of opiate addicts in the world. (HT: Decision08)
NASCAR – the #2 most popular sport

Of course, the crybabies in baseball claim different: “Baseball says NASCAR’s TV claims are off track”:

Break out the two-digit foam fingers and dueling "We're No. 2!" chants. Major League Baseball officials are beginning to dispute NASCAR's assertion that when it comes to television ratings, stock car racing takes a back seat only to the NFL.
Well, sure, but how many viewers are tuned to baseball strictly as a sleep aid? Subtract those “viewers” and you’re down around WNBA ratings.
A symbolic imperative for both men” - The Boston Globe declares “Kerry and Kennedy misfire” on the John Roberts SCOTUS vote.
Happy first blogoversary to Right Wing Nuthouse!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Is South Africa the next Zimbabwe?

From the BBC: “South African white farm to be seized

South Africa says it will for the first time force a white farmer to sell his land under a redistribution plan.
Here’s a gobsmackingly stupid and unbelievably horrifying quote:

But Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says the pace of reform should be speeded up - as in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where most white-owned land has been seized by the state.

"There needs to be a bit of oomph. That's why we may need the skills of Zimbabwe to help us," she said.
The “skills of Zimbabwe.” This is unreal: Robert Mugabe is a role model for the South African government.
Pundit status (mostly) intact - John Roberts passes out of the Judiciary committee on a 13-5 vote – I was off by one with my prediction of 12-6. Who would have guessed that Pat Leahy would vote “yes”? Now we'll have to see how the whole Senate votes.
The greatest complaint letter ever? – Maybe! (Via Fark)
I'm "it" - See what happens when you stumble over to Spartacus? You get tagged. I’ll try to put something together for the weekend.
Mugabe finds the bottom, starts digging

Ever since I read an Atlantic Monthly article on Robert Mugabe titled “How to Kill a Country” (subscription required), I always check articles on Zimbabwe to see what’s new nadir that country’s dictator has plumbed. From today’s Boston Globe:

In addition, Zimbabwe's $120 million payment to the International Monetary Fund this month left the country starved for foreign currency reserves. The government, said one senior official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, raided US dollar accounts held by businesses at the Central Bank to pay the overdue debt. The government then reimbursed the businesses in Zimbabwean dollars, which sold at 10,000 to $1 US in March and now at 50,000 to $1.
So now that Mugabe has driven out the white farmers and starved the country, he’s now going to send any remaining business owners running for the border, since nobody accepts Zimbabwe’s worthless currency. When gasoline is available in the country, the station owners will only accept U.S. dollars.
We must move upward, not forward, and always twirling towards freedom

The Boston Globe’s Tom Oliphant makes for a tedious read. He’s cut from that Richard Cohen cloth of rambling discourse and liberal navel-gazing. Today he meanders through a rainbow-tinged alternate reality where John Kerry is president: “Kerry’s roads not taken.” In the column, Oliphant makes (I think) an unintentionally humorous reference to the man I refer to as “Senator Splunge”:

Nobody is better qualified than John Kerry to remind us that a choice was made last year. That is especially true given his intention to speak out on major issues in depth in the coming weeks, free now from agitprop about gay marriage and lies about his Navy record. Obviously the big one will be Iraq, about which he gets one more chance to point a clear way forward or out or both.
Heh-heh. Given Kerry’s history of indecision, I’m guessing “or both.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Air America Canada update – Brian Maloney reports that the Air America affiliate in Detroit has disappeared from the Arbitron ratings to be replaced by Canadian station CKLW-AM. Now that's just pitiful.

Follow-upAir America goes panhandling: “Al Franken's liberal radio network, Air America, is now scraping the bottom of the barrel for investors. Having taxed the patience of deep-pocketed liberal sugar daddies, Air America execs have cooked up a new campaign to hit up their own listeners for cash donations.”

Both of them?
Another chick on the Court?Confirm Them has an “extremely reliable source” that says Bush is seriously considering Judge Karen Williams from the Fourth Circuit to replace Sandy O.
Compare and contrast – School buses flowing out of Houston in preparation for Hurricane Rita vs. The Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool.
Quick shots

Greedy Corporation To Take Away Jobs From Workers To Increase Filthy Profits
Easy Steps To Moonbat Martyrdom
The Sound and the Fury: How John Roberts drove the Senate Democrats nuts
Setting the criteria for payback

The WashPost calls Harry Reid’s remarks “Words that will haunt”:

Do Democrats really want the American confirmation system to move in that direction? Republicans may still be in the majority the next time a Democratic president nominates a justice. Is it now okay for them to vote against a person who -- as Mr. Reid put it of Judge Roberts -- is "an excellent lawyer" and "a thoughtful, mainstream judge" who may make "a fine Supreme Court justice" simply because the nominee doesn't represent their ideal? When that day comes, and Democrats cry foul, remember what Mr. Reid said about how little deference he believes he owes Mr. Bush concerning Judge Roberts.
I heard much of Reid’s speech on C-Span (XM radio) and, you know, that guy really creeps me out. He has this deliberative, passionless monotone even while he’s accusing you of the most dastardly crimes. It’s not right, I tells ya.
The money pit

Another $67 million of Massachusetts taxes disappears down the Big Dig:

Big Dig officials significantly overestimated the amount of money that could be raised by selling off the project's Kneeland Street headquarters, creating a hole in their financing plan for the megaproject's final stages, officials disclosed yesterday.

The error has forced project officials to withdraw $67 million from a state transportation fund, money that would otherwise pay for smaller highway and transit projects around Massachusetts.
In hindsight, maybe the federal government should have spent $15 billion shoring up the levees in New Orleans instead of cutting the commuting time for Bostonians by ten minutes. Thanks Ted Kennedy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Quote of the day – Presidential loser John Kerry visited the NASCAR race in New Hampshire this past weekend: “One Cup team official, considering the preponderance of conservative Republicans in the NASCAR hierarchy, joked that "NASCAR's 'diversity' program looks like it's starting to pay off.”
Let’s shoot for 50

Now that Senate minority guy Harry Reid has indicated that he will vote against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, it’s probable that he’ll only gain about ten Democratic votes. That the Democrats would vote against such a qualified nominee indicates they’re completely in the tank for their special interests. Reid is utterly insane if he believes this is a threat:

During his floor remarks, Reid said Roberts' nomination does not rise to the level of "extraordinary circumstances," the code phrase used to suggest whether Democrats would employ a filibuster, the procedural tool used to block a nomination from getting a full Senate vote.
Oh-no: not the filibuster threat that was spayed and neutered last year! The “Gang of 14” made sure of that and the Coalition of the Chillin’ smiled. It’s transparent now that the Democrats will reflexively vote against any Bush nominee to replace that critical swing vote of Sandra Day O’Connor. Let’s get Priscilla Owen in there or maybe Michael Luttig. Hell, let’s dig up Robert Bork. There will be no filibuster and Bush’s next nominee only needs 50 out of 55 Republican votes.

Let’s drive the Dems crazy and engineer a tie so that Cheney can break it.

Extra – The days of bipartisan votes are over. 96-3 for Ginsberg? You’ll never see that again.

Bonus – John Cole calls Reid’s decision either “tone deaf or brain dead”: “If someone like Roberts is going to get 30-40 votes against from Democrats, I see no reason why Bush doesn’t appoint a fire-breathing ideologue.”
‘Tis a mighty hack, mateys! – Tonight my kids were playing the Sid Meier’s game Pirates and they reported to me that all the prompts in the game included phrases like “shiver me timbers” and “avast!” The scurvy game programmers appeared to have put in a special Easter egg for Talk like a Pirate Day. Arrrrrrrr!

Monday, September 19, 2005

It’s sacri-licious! – Burger King pulls “Allah” ice-cream cones (HT: Right Wing News)
Roberts vote – As I predicted here, I’m sticking with a 12-6 judiciary vote and a 77-23 floor vote to confirm Judge Roberts as Chief Justice.
The second amendment diary – Day nine

Today I dropped off my $80 fee to attend the required firearm safety course on October 1st. The officer I met with could not have been more polite and I let it slip that I had some previous shooting experience.

“Military?” he asked. I can only assume my muscular build threw him off. An understandable mistake! No, no, just some skeet shooting with a double-barrel shotgun and some rifle time. He said that if I was willing to stick around after class next Saturday, he’ll fill out the required paperwork for my permit. Cool.

(Previous: Day one diary)
The credulous Boston Globe believes Schumer is “conflicted”

From the Globe: “Roberts vote holds risks for Democrats”:

Some of the committee's eight Democrats, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, have strongly hinted they will vote no. But even some liberal stalwarts such as senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California have said they have deep conflicts.
Oh puh-leeze. From Robert Novak on “Chuck Schumer’s defeat”:

Schumer has been against confirmation of every Bush appointee with any significant opposition. He opposed cloture on all 16 nominees blocked by filibuster, and said "no" on all eight brought to a vote.
There is absolutely no chance that Schumer will vote for John Roberts and it’s altogether possible that all the Democrats on the Judiciary committee will vote “no” for a nominee that, in the words of David Broder, is “obviously – ridiculously – well-equipped to lead the government’s third branch.”
Amazing Race wins “best reality show” again – And Kris is happy. Don’t forget: the new “family edition” season starts next Tuesday. There’s a family from New Orleans, another team has a former Miss Louisiana and there’s a black family from Virginia known as, um, the Black family.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure would be a good nominee

Mark Steyn imagines the next Judiciary hearing:

But maybe it'll go better for 'em next time. Or maybe it'll just be another rote slog through "troubling" stuff no normal person or his amigo cares about. Or maybe Bush will nominate Marcel Marceau so the bloviators can talk over the nominee to their hearts' content, hammering away with the Gone-With-The-Windy speechifying until they collapse momentarily exhausted and Marceau does three seconds of his man-feeling-his-way-round-the-inside-of-a-box mime before the infuriated Biden interrupts: ''C'mon, ol' buddy, gimme somethin' to work with here. You know we love ya, but buy us some peanuts an' Crackerjack, amigo.''
Perhaps Bush will nominate “Worker of the Week” inanimate carbon rod. (Hat tip: Country Store.)
An unthinkable headline five years ago – Publius Pundit: “Millions of Afghans head to the polls
The Mao Zedong of Africa

It’s way past time for other African countries (I’m looking at you, South Africa) to put a firm hand on Robert Mugabe’s shoulder and push him out. Not only is he single-handedly destroying what was once the breadbasket of Africa, he’s quite mad:

The African leader some call a hero and others a destructive despot suggests people in his country aren't hungry, they just can't eat their favorite food.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, said in an interview with The Associated Press that his people are "very, very happy" though aid agencies report 4 million of 11.6 million face famine.
Read the whole article: Mugabe once deserved praise for liberating Zimbabwe from colonial rule and creating a vibrant economy. Now he’s systematically dismantling political freedoms and starving his own people with a Marie Antoinette-ish “let them eat potatoes.”

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Confirm John Roberts

So says the WashPost: “John G. Roberts Jr. should be confirmed as chief justice of the United States. He is overwhelmingly well-qualified, possesses an unusually keen legal mind and practices a collegiality of the type an effective chief justice must have. He shows every sign of commitment to restraint and impartiality. Nominees of comparable quality have, after rigorous hearings, been confirmed nearly unanimously. We hope Judge Roberts will similarly be approved by a large bipartisan vote.” The editorial goes on to warn Democrats that opposing Roberts will only send the message that no nominee could meet their approval and “Mr. Bush could conclude there is nothing to be gained from considering the concerns of the opposition party in choosing his next nominee.”

ExtraOpinion Journal: “In a less nasty age, he’d be confirmed 100-0.” If I remember correctly, my original guess was 77-23 on the Hedgehog Report competition.

Shocker – The NY Times advocates a “no” vote on Roberts. Whatever. The Times is so intrinsically one-sided now, there’s no point in paying any attention.
Silly Joe Biden – Pejman does a much better job dissecting Joe Biden’s op-ed than I did. The shallowness of the article suggests that the Delaware senator is more concerned about appearing statesmanlike than actually solving problems in Iraq.
Cats and dogs living together

Here’s Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco in the Democrats' weekly radio address:

I want to take this opportunity to thank President George W. Bush. He has recognized that Katrina was no ordinary hurricane and that our federal government will have to help us in extraordinary ways. We are prepared to work as partners.
They must have duct-taped Harry Reid to a chair.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Even the NY Times public editor agrees!Krugman is a mendacious hack.

Don Luskin, call your office, please.
Nice - The Ex-Donkey has a new design over on his blog. Check it out.
We’re boned

It looks like the Republicans are about to run up the white flag on Social Security reform: “Social Security legislation could be shelved”:

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Reynolds will recommend to the House Republican leadership that the party drop its effort to restructure Social Security, at least for this year, House Republican aides confirmed yesterday.
Well, forget about election year 2006 so the next best chance for reform is 2007, which is exactly 65 years after the World War II baby boom. So, in other words, if Washington didn’t have the courage to fix Social Security this year, they’ll never find the courage with millions of American voters receiving their first government checks.

Gah, it’s so depressing. Social Security Choice has more. I’m getting another beer.
Because it’s easy to cut spending!

The explosion of spending in the Bush administration is the one thing I cannot abide. I’m not talking about the war in Iraq, or the response to 9/11 or deficit spending to get the country out of recession. I’m talking about the highway bill, the energy bill, and the prescription drug benefit – and not a single veto from this White House to hold the line. Now Bush says he’ll cut “unnecessary spending” to cover the cost of Katrina. Too late. It’s like we blew our paycheck in Vegas only to come home to a flooded house. That money’s gone. Switching to a cheaper shampoo won’t pay the bills.
Yeah, but it’s cold in Oslo – From the Economist: Human development index: “Norway has the highest standard of living in the world and Niger the lowest, according to the UN's Human Development Index. The index takes into account life expectancy and education as well as income per person. South Africa's AIDS epidemic has left it in 120th place in the rankings, despite its relatively high income. The country has fallen 35 places since 1990.”

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The government can control your cloned arroyo toad

(I hereby nominate the above for the “greatest blog post title ever.”)

Here’s an excerpt from an Opinion Journal article about the medical marijuana case ruled by the Supreme Court this past summer:

As Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his dissent: "If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything, and the federal government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers." By "enumerated powers," Justice Thomas means the idea that the federal government can undertake only such activities as the Constitution explicitly permits.
Now from today’s hearing for Judge John Roberts:

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.
The Commerce Clause is going to get you, my pretty, and your little (cloned) dog too!
Redistribute Paul Krugman’s salary – From the American Enterprise: “Soak the rich…colleges.”
TranscriptPresident Bush’s speech from New Orleans

I was zoning in and out during the speech but here’s what I came away with: an abnormal storm overwhelmed our normal capability to address the problem. So now we’re going to spend piles of money building the world’s largest sump pump to save a city that sits underwater. It would have been a much better speech if the President declared that the pork-laden transportation bill that just passed was going to have all it’s expenditures diverted to the Gulf Coast. [Chris Farley voice] "That would have been awesome." [/Chris Farley]

Follow-up – According to Lorie Byrd, hurricane survivors at the Astrodome praised Bush’s speech and blamed Nagin and Blanco. Uh-oh: an intern at ABC News is bound to lose his/her job for poor screening. (Free Republic caught it too).

More – Here’s the video of the exchange from the Political Teen: “Right after President Bush’s address to the nation last night, ABC reporter Dean Reynolds went out interviewing Katrina victims. He asked Bush-bashing baiting questions, however the woman he interviewed didn’t bite on to it.”
Thank you, DSL! – From the Superficial: “Jessica Alba wears bikinis to beaches” That pretty much says it all, with picture goodness.
It requires an understanding of pi – I can’t do it in less than 17 bites. (HT: Fark)

Update (10:20pm) – Got down to 16 bites and “tied with the previous champion.” I think it takes a degree in geometry to get to 15.
Air EnronMichelle Malkin and Brian Maloney have the latest: AA’s VP of Finance, worked as a finance director at Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club before it “loaned” Air America $875,000. Isn't that special?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Not thinking outside the box

Here’s Ann Althouse on the Roberts hearing: “Joe Biden is hamming it up big time, dramatizing the frustration of not getting Roberts to say how he'll decide specific cases. We've been through this so many times, but Biden seems to think that, if he just emotes more than the others, the American public will finally see the outrage of a judge not committing his vote before hearing the case. Yet every time Roberts explains why he won't answer, he sounds so eloquent and even inspiring about the role of the judge, that it ends up making the Senator look childish.”

I mean, really, how can anybody put up with a guy who doesn’t even know how the strike zone is defined in our great national pastime of baseball? What a maroon!

Extra – More Biden-bashing from Powerline.
Public service announcementAce is liveblogging the George Galloway/Christopher Hitchens debate. (And more from Oxblog).
The Grand Challenge redux

From the NYT: “Robotic vehicles race, but innovation wins

It has been almost 18 months since the Pentagon's research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, first attracted a motley array of autonomous vehicles with a prize of $1 million for the first to complete a 142-mile desert course from Barstow, Calif., to Las Vegas. The most successful robot, developed by a Carnegie Mellon University team, managed all of seven miles.

With the next running scheduled for Oct. 8 - and this time a $2 million purse for the winner among 43 entries - it is clear that many of the participants have made vast progress. For some researchers, it is an indication of a significant transformation in what has been largely a science fiction fantasy.
And here’s the Wired story: “May the best autopilot win” I’ve always said it would be wicked funny if a team hid a midget in one of the trucks and had him drive it across the desert.
Traffic boost? – “Google Inc. unveiled Wednesday a beta version of its search engine for Weblogs, more commonly known as blogs.”

Apropos of nothing: Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Lindsey Lohan, Hilary Duff, Kelly Monaco, Eva Longoria, Jessica Simpson. (Update: OMG, how could I forget Jessica Alba? Yes.)

Update again - Here it is: Google Blogsearch
Least-surprising development today: Britney Spears had a C-section to deliver her baby Cletus boy.

Wait! I stand corrected: “Schumer is the only Senator who is demanding a third round of questioning [of Judge Roberts].”
Today’s timesaver: skip Joe Biden’s article

In today’s WashPost, Senator Biden plays statesman with “For success in Iraq, change course.” Problem is, Biden offers no alternatives other than the squishy “build international support” nonsense that everybody recognizes as empty rhetoric. Biden’s article is indistinguishable from a speech he gave to the Brookings Institute in June; here’s what Mickey Kaus had to say:

The only substantial difference with Bush, that I see, is Biden's call for establishing a "contact group" with "European and regional partners." They'd be given "a seat at the decision-making table." The payoff would be that Shia politicians could make concessions to the Sunnis and then tell their Shia constituents, "'The international community made me do it.'" Arguably, that would go over better than, "The Americans made me do it." But Biden's basic strategy--stand up the Iraqi government and military, wean Sunni support away from the insurgents--is the same as Bush's. He should admit it. ...[But he also calls for "clear benchmarks"!--ed Classic makeweight Kabuki Congressional demand. When you have nothing else to say, call for "clear benchmarks" or a "new compact," or a timetable or some other gimmick. Biden has here arguably violated the Benchmark Proliferation Reduction Act by failing to append a Benchmark Proliferation Impact Statement to his speech.]
You can’t change course from the back seat, Joe.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Air America can’t sell air to America – From the Radio Equalizer: “Today's Santa Cruz Sentinel reports Air America affiliate KOMY-AM in Monterey Bay, California, is having a heck of a time finding sponsors. That's despite being in one of the most liberal cities in the country.” That’s funny because when I listen to Morning Sedition on XM radio, all they play is commercials. It seems like five-minute bursts of Bush Derangement Syndrome followed by 15 minutes of ads.
Overplaying their hand, yet again

This is getting tiresome: the monthly declaration that the Bush presidency is “over.” Now WashPost lefty E.J. Dionne, using that Paul Krugman rigor for invective over reason, is declaring the end of the Bush era because of Katrina. Whatever, dude. Hugh Hewitt isn’t convinced – he’s delighted:

The great news about the left is that its capacity for self-delusion is undiminished by the electoral losses of the past few years. It remains eager to believe what it wants to believe, in this case that President Bush is in deep political trouble. Bookmark and save E.J.'s piece. It will be fun to link to whenever the president achieves another political victory.
And, in an excellent post, Academic Elephant opines:

This editorial is pure fantasy on the part of a deeply bitter man who rages against his own impotence.
More from Decision08 and Strata-sphere. Although I complain regularly about the liberal media, it’s clear that it plays right into Republican hands by weaving the cocoon of inevitability around the American Left. All hail the New York Times!
Admitting the problem is the first step

I’ve avoided pointing fingers for the Katrina aftermath and, although I felt the local response was more critical and thus more responsible, the federal response was also deeply inadequate. Today, President Bush stated the obvious:

Bush on Tuesday accepted responsibility for failures in the government's response to Katrina and admitted "serious problems" with the handling of the response to the storm that struck the Gulf Coast more than two weeks ago.
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.
"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.
There’s a reason that President Bush’s job approval rating has maintained a solid floor of around 50% (now around 42%) and it’s the same justification that got him re-elected: above all else, Bush was supposed to be the President to “keep us safe.” New Orleans exposed that the federal response to natural disaster was not what the American public required, expected or deserved. But worse than that, Katrina made it clear that Homeland Security appears to be completely unprepared for the exigencies of a terrorist attack since they couldn’t even address a problem known to be heading our way.

Look at these two quotes from an article (linked below) on NASCAR dads:

I asked him, "So you vote Republican?" "Yep," he replied. "Always?" "Pretty much." "So you like Bush?" "Before or after the hurricane?"

Anyway, I found out he was a big Bush supporter but that he too was sorely disappointed with the president's hurricane response. Two men don't make a Gallup poll, but I found this interesting.
Hey, everybody who reads this blog knows I’m a huge Bush booster. I posted daily on Blogs for Bush every day before the election. But the Gulf Coast demanded an overwhelming influx of men, machines, and material and the federal government dropped the ball. Above all, President Bush needs to make this right.

[Side note: if there’s one saving grace for Bush is that he’s been blessed with a feckless opposition party, from Harry Reid to the completely wacked Mary Landrieu.]
Good news: The government took in more in revenues than it spent in August.
Bad news: The government is still spending too much money.
Upshot: The deficit is still huge, just not as huge as it was before. Hooray.
I only have “I”s for me

From the WashPost:

Yesterday's opening of the John Roberts confirmation hearings was a time for historic firsts.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) made 49 first-person references in a 10-minute statement that was, ostensibly, not about himself.
All humility, that Chuck Schumer. As Bulldog wrote: “Schumer is so egotistical he probably calls out his own name during sex.”

Monday, September 12, 2005

Judge Roberts makes reference to some obscure sport

From Fox News:

"Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Justices are like umpires" in that they call the game as they see it, Roberts said in unwritten remarks that took only six-and-a-half of the 15 minutes allotted to him. "I will remember it is my job to call balls and strikes, not to pitch or bat.”
Huh? He should have formed a metaphor from football or NASCAR, not that old and busted “sport.”
Overheard on C-Span - At the very start of the Judge Roberts hearing, he introduced his family. After naming his children, Josephine and Jack, Roberts quipped: "As you can see, my wife has a tight grip on Jack." I love this guy!
We’re more powerful than the Stonecutters – A blue-stater among the NASCAR dads
What liberal media?Michelle Malkin: “But in their zeal to embarrass the Bush administration, CNN overlooks one very fat and inconvenient fact--and embarrasses only itself.” When will they ever learn?
Get ready for the circus

Here’s Theodore Olson with “John Roberts deserves a dignified process

A political Gresham's law has debased Senate confirmation proceedings so that they now tend to combine the worst features of reality TV, professional wrestling and celebrity criminal trials. And the more lofty the judicial position, the more the process has sunk into an unseemly and demeaning spectacle. The pathway to service on our most prestigious courts has come to resemble a theater of the absurd, during which prospective judges are probed, humiliated, scolded and scorned. Those who somehow make it through the excruciating process may be forgiven for being embittered by the experience.
It’ll never happen but I’d love to see Judge Roberts snap back the same way Brendan Sullivan did in 1987 when he told Senator Daniel Inouye “I’m not a potted plant.” Why should Roberts sit there as Joe Biden eats up 9 ½ minutes of his 10-minute slot giving a speech? It would be priceless if Roberts got up and said: “I’ll be back when you have a question.”

Sunday, September 11, 2005

We will not forget – Keep scrolling on Polipundit for many, many 9/11 links along with Instapundit and Winds of Change. Plus don’t forget that “The Flight that Fought Back” will be on the Discovery Channel tonight.

Follow-up – The Flight 93 movie was good but a little heavy on the “every passenger a hero” angle. And I was annoyed at some revisionist speculation that the passengers breached the cockpit door when, in the words of the official report: “Thursday's report gives no indication that passengers ever broke through the cockpit door, but it makes clear that passengers' actions thwarted the plans of the terrorists.” On this point, the movie relived the final moments from the cockpit voice recorder but not this widely reported line: “"In the cockpit. If we don't, we'll die," a passenger is heard saying.” The staged image of burly Americans barreling into the cockpit kind of ruined it for me.

Aside from that, how funny was the “show them the axe” moment? Nice one.
I can’t resist an article that references a Clash song – “If he runs for president in '08, Rudy can't fail” (Yes, I know it’s “Rudie.” Close enough).

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The 2nd amendment diary – Day one

After a great deal of introspection, I’ve decided to get a handgun. To be honest, I came very close four years ago right after 9/11. But the lawlessness in New Orleans sealed the deal: I’m not going to outsource my family’s safety to shoe-shopping police officers. To recycle a cliché: I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

So today I stepped into the local “sports” shop, the same one I passed for years without giving it a second thought. Right inside the door was a long line of shotguns and rifles, which brought back memories of my younger days when my old man took me skeet shooting on my uncle’s land in Sussex County, New Jersey. Not to brag, but I was a pretty good shot and bagged my first pheasant when I was 16 or so. More proud than I was, the old man had it stuffed and mounted in my bedroom (a rather strange conversation piece for a teenager in suburban New Jersey).

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what the whole process of obtaining a gun in Massachusetts would entail so I struck up a conversation with a clerk at the store. An affable codger, he informed me (with, I thought, a little irritation at my naiveté) that I would have to go to the police station and sign up for a safety course before I could get a gun permit and come back when you have it.

OK…so I headed over to the police station. A woman behind bulletproof glass told me that the next class was October 1st and that I should hurry and sign up because spaces are limited. Already I was getting the unmistakable impression that getting a handgun in Massachusetts would be both laborious and expensive. Here’s the cost I’ve added up in my head so far:

Basic safety course - $80
Firearm identification card & license to carry - $100
Photo ID for LTC - $5
9mm Smith and Wesson - $300-$400

So in my mind, I’m already a half-grand in the hole without even counting ammunition, range time, and assorted other fees. Plus, it will be a month before I can take the course to even touch a gun. But I’m going to keep this ball rolling. I’ve already told the wife that I’m going to put the gun in a lockbox and plaster the box behind a wall in the basement. I may need a sledgehammer when a crisis hits, but at least I’ll be prepared.

Next installment of the 2nd amendment diary: October 1st (maybe)
George Bush hates midgets” – Chris Rock scaring the bejesus out of the producers of the celebrity “Shelter from the Storm” telethon.
The government failed. Therefore we need more government?

Here’s the conclusion of David Brooks’ article in the NY Times: “The Best-Laid Plan: Too Bad it Flopped

This preparedness plan is government as it really is. It reminds us that canning Michael Brown or appointing some tough response czar will not change the endemic failures at the heart of this institutional collapse.

So of course we need limited but energetic government. But liberals who think this disaster is going to set off a progressive revival need to explain how a comprehensive governmental failure is going to restore America's faith in big government.
One of the most disturbing things I heard after-the-fact was that people seeking shelter in the Superdome were supposed to bring their own food and water. I would have assumed, as many did, that the city of New Orleans would at least make some minimum attempt to provide for the evacuees, but it was apparently an afterthought. Maybe the lesson here is that people should prepare with the expectation that the government will not respond, and be grateful if it does.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Howard Dean resurfaces, promptly sticks foot in mouth - I heard this in the car driving home but couldn’t believe it. Rich Lowry confirms: “I think I just heard him [Dean] say, "John Roberts loves the law, but I'm not sure he loves the American people" (quoting roughly).” Karl Rove, your Manchurian Candidate is going overboard.
A quick recovery? - Lorie Byrd of Polipundit lists a series of predictions from reader “Oak Leaf” who is an active duty reservist rounding out almost two weeks in New Orleans. He paints a somewhat more optimistic picture than what the media has presented. Be sure to check it out.

Follow up – “Oak Leaf” predicted: “1. Mayor Ray Nagin (D) estimated that fatalities would be as high as 10,000. While it is conceivable that area wide fatalities could in theory approach 3,000, I strongly believe that fatalities in NOLA, directly attributed to Katrina will be less than one thousand, (1,000).”

From this evening’s NYT web page: “Initial Search Finds Far Fewer Bodies Than Expected in New Orleans
Somebody call the (laugh) riot squad - MoveOn tries to march on the White House and they’re completely flummoxed by a competing protest and two conservatives. Byron York has the story on NRO.
Nowhere to go but up

The Chicago Sun Times has an editorial advocating the resurrection of New Orleans titled: “We can rebuild it, we can make it better.” Judging by the Slate article “Don’t Refloat” we couldn’t possibly make it worse.
A fair-minded analysis from the Economist – “When government fails

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Darn you John Bolton! – From Opinion Journal “Oil for food as usual - The U.N.’s worst critics couldn’t invent what the Volker report shows”: “In other words, Oil for Food is not about some isolated incidents of perceived or actual wrongdoing during the course of a seven-year effort to maintain sanctions on Iraq, monitor its oil flows and feed its people. Oil for Food is a story about what the U.N. is. And our conclusion from reading the 847-page report is that the U.N. is Oil for Food.”
Better late than never – Will Franklin almost missed his Thursday Social Security post. Today he shows how dependence on Social Security has bound Americans to a government program that makes them poorer…and thus more dependent on the government.
Always outraged - Don Surber nails Nancy “Marge Simpson” Pelosi
Post title of the day – “Pork fails to stop floodwater; government still not big enough
It’s screedy – James Lileks on Katrina and the Angry Left.
Idaho says "blame the Japanese"

Weatherman claims Japanese Mafia behind Hurricane Katrina: “Here’s a theory that’s sure to cause a storm of controversy: A meteorologist in Pocatello, Idaho, claims Japanese gangsters known as the Yakuza caused Hurricane Katrina.”

And then there’s this under-reported story also from Idaho: “Last week, Japanese scientists explaced... placed explosive detonators at the bottom of Lake Loch Ness to blow Nessie out of the water. Sir Godfrey of the Nessie Alliance summoned the help of Scotland's local wizards to cast a protective spell over the lake and its local residents and all those who seek for the peaceful existence of our underwater ally.”


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ironic headline of the day: “If Mubarak Re-Elected, U.S. Wants Changes” That’s funny on so many levels.
Quote of the Day

From the Boston Globe article: “Democrats shift strategy on Roberts Plan to use Katrina to highlight racial and economic divide.”

''Trying to connect this nomination hearing for Judge Roberts with the disaster of Katrina, I think, is a stretch." – Senator John Cornyn
No kidding.
The polarization puzzle

Today’s WashPost has an article by Dan Balz titled “For Bush, a deepening divide” that laments the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, esp. in Katrina’s aftermath:

To his critics, Bush is now reaping what he has sown. Their case against him goes as follows: Facing a divided nation, the president has eschewed unity in both his governing strategy and his political blueprint. These opponents argue that he has favored confrontation over conciliation with the Democrats while favoring a set of policies aimed at deepening support among his conservative base at the expense of ideas that might produce bipartisan consensus and broader approval among the voters. His allies and advisers, while acknowledging that polarization has worsened during the past five years, say the opposition party bears the brunt of responsibility. Democrats, by this reckoning, have rebuffed Bush's efforts at bipartisanship, put up a wall to ideas that once enjoyed some support on their side, and, even in the current crisis along the Gulf Coast, are seeking to score political points rather than joining hands with the president to speed the recovery and relief to the victims.
That sounds fair. But then Balz flops over into liberal bias territory with his esteemed expert on political affairs:

"Bush is the most partisan president in modern American history," said William Galston, a professor at the University of Maryland and previously a top domestic adviser to former President Bill Clinton.
Well there’s a neutral observer. Galston continues:

In Galston's view, Bush bears principal responsibility for that condition, saying that on three occasions he passed up opportunities to govern from the center and work more constructively with the Democrats and instead chose a path designed to mobilize conservatives. The first came after the disputed election of 2000, in the early days of Bush's new administration. The second came after the Sept. 11 attacks, when Bush's approval rating rose to 90 percent. The third came after the hard-fought and polarizing election last year.
Well, there you have it. Generalissimo George Bush, who made no secret about his conservative beliefs, won two elections and then (gasp!) proceeded to govern based on that very philosophy! The fiend! GOP chair Ken Mehlman gets the “uniter not a divider” argument right:

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman offered a vigorous rebuttal to that criticism yesterday. "They've got a one-way street of unity," he said. "It's 'Do what we want, or you're not a unifier.' "
Let’s take my favorite topic of Social Security reform. Here’s what Robert Samuelson had to say about preparing for disaster in the larger context of Katrina:

We do not plan, even when the case for planning seems overwhelming. Examples abound. We know that over the next few decades the number of retirees will double and that the costs of federal retirement programs will explode, requiring huge tax increases (at least a third), unsustainably large budget deficits or deep (and undesirable) cuts in other government programs -- or some combination of all three. All of this has been evident for years: indeed, it is the subject of countless government reports. But successive presidents and Congresses have done little to change matters, the current stalemated Social Security "debate" being a case in point.
Since the start of his second term, Bush has been trying to force Washington to admit what is mathematically undeniable: entitlement spending will overwhelm the government unless reforms are put in place now. Bear in mind that there is almost no short-term political gain for Bush; in fact, it would be much easier to cozy up to the AARP and shuffle off the debt to yet-to-be-born children. To a large extent, Bush was simply echoing the same warnings made by Bill Clinton when he was president.

No matter: the Democrats at first denied there was a problem (or couched it by saying “the system is solvent for X years”). When Bush proposed personal accounts as a better way for Americans to improve on the 2% yield on Social Security, the plan was criticized for doing nothing to fix the solvency problem. So the President further proposed Robert Pozen’s plan of progressive indexing where lower-income workers would keep 100% of their benefits while wealthier retirees would have their benefits indexed to inflation such that they would receive the exact same benefit indexed to current dollars. No dice, said the Democrats, because FDR designed the plan so that everybody that pays into the system will receive a promised benefit, even if it's way above the current benefit value.

As Social Security currently exists, the government will need to start paying off billions in Treasury bonds in 2017 and when they’re gone in 2041, the program can only pay 73% of promised benefits. Demographics are destiny and whatever problems I’ve outlined here for Social Security, the problems of Medicare are even worse.

On this matter – this crisis – President Bush has proposed solutions and asked that the Democrats admit what cannot be denied. In response, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have demagogued the issue and used it as a cudgel in a million fundraising letters. Yet it’s President Bush who’s the “divider” here. Right.

Extra – Additional comments from Ex-Donk and Ruffini.
Lying liar - Al Franken lies and lies about Air America

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Two quick blog notes

Except to annoy a particular baseball fan, I do not delete comments unless they contain profanity. Please try to make your point without obscenities. I’m trying to keep this site relatively family-friendly.

And sometime over the weekend, Viking Pundit passed 1 million page views. Thanks to everyone for stopping by (repeatedly).
Jeff Spicoli set sail that day for a three hour tour

In a tribute to the late Bob Denver, actor Sean Penn demonstrates the comical aspects of inept seamanship by boarding a boat with a hole in it. As Penn bailed out with a plastic cup, he assumed a high, strained voice and yelled “Skipper! Help!” to the forced laughter of his entourage.

Actual caption: "US actor Sean Penn bales water out of a boat with a plastic cup as he and members of his entourage make an attempt to rescue stranded people in New Orleans. Efforts by Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly Sunday, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak. Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina's flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch."
Question - On the eve of the John Roberts hearings, I need to know: if gay marriage is allowed, is there any compelling reason why Charles Schumer couldn't marry a television camera?
Just for the record - An all-time high of $44 to fill my gas tank today. So this is welcome news: “A major pipeline supplying refined crude products from the Gulf to the East Coast is now running at full capacity and is delivering into all locations along its system.”
Knock me over with a featherCorruption at the United Nations? Say it ain’t so! “A yearlong probe of the Iraq oil-for-food program has concluded that the United Nations allowed "illicit, unethical, and corrupt behavior" to overwhelm the $64 billion operation.” Oh, but John Bolton's the real enemy, natch.
Not the time – Kris on Dummocrats echoes my feelings on the blame game: “Some of us are just political animals. We live and breathe politics. But, there are times when thinking politics first makes us nothing more than, well, animals. I think this is one of those times.” And Ralph Peters in the NY Post laments the “Hurricane of blame” that has followed Katrina.
That’ll get your attention

Demonstrating that the NY Times has at least one good columnist, John Tierney notes that New Orleans should have deployed the “Magic Marker strategy” to sharpen the mind to danger:

Mr. Judkins is one of the officials in charge of evacuating the Hampton Roads region around Newport News, Va. These coastal communities, unlike New Orleans, are not below sea level, but they're much better prepared for a hurricane. Officials have plans to run school buses and borrow other buses to evacuate those without cars, and they keep registries of the people who need special help.

Instead of relying on a "Good Samaritan" policy - the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors - the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Mr. Judkins told The Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified.

"It's cold, but it's effective," Mr. Judkins explained.
Of course, Tierney’s article was met with this sophisticated riposte over at Daily Kos.

Monday, September 05, 2005

NYT Nuts - Is there any sport in taking down Paul Krugman anymore? He’s the original gorilla of Bush Derangement Syndrome, alternating between articles proclaiming President Bush’s fecklessness and, paradoxically, his all-powerful ability to (always) cause wreckage all around us. Anyway, Rick at the Rightwing Nuthouse fisks the former Enron advisor in “The Fulminator.” Here’s a great opening line: “Watching New York Times columnist Paul Krugman plumb the depths of depraved Bush bashing is getting close to becoming something of a guilty pleasure; sort of like viewing pornography but without the edifying inclusion of the undraped model’s vital statistics to offset the charge of prurient behavior.”

Extra – Here’s Daily Pundit: “I used to hate seeing Frank Rich's byline on NYT op-ed columns, but no longer. Like Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman, Rich has become an active embarassment, an unwitting ally in the ongoing destruction of the Times as a respectable news organ.

More from Decision08: “Either Bob Herbert believes what he says, and thus is proven as a delusionary, paranoid mental case, or he intentionally and deliberately engages in a foul, viscious lie, and thus is shown as a despicable moral degenerate.”
Fault lines – After reviewing the blogosphere, it’s obvious I’m fighting an uphill battle here. I’m sure that after the water recedes, there will be plenty of blame to go around from Nagin on up to Bush. I just don’t see the point right now and, as John Podhoretz retells, most Americans understand that human capability to avoid disaster is limited: “You need to look at the world through political glasses to assume that THE key aspect of a natural disaster is the response or lack thereof of the authorities -- whether they be local, state or federal. The president doesn't MAKE hurricanes, therefore he will not be blamed FOR hurricanes. Nor do the governor and the mayor.” The wisdom of crowds shines through again.
The proximate cause

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Dennis Byrne wonders “Why do we always assign blame?”

Maybe the finger-pointing comes from today's mindset that someone else always must be ready and in charge of ensuring our safety and comfort. Or from an arrogance that we can plan in advance for every imaginable catastrophe. Or maybe it is simply partisan and ideological bunk, opportunistically tossed Bush's way.

This is no apologia for the many possible misjudgments and mistakes that might have been made. Rather it is a disagreement with the simplistic view that "they" can prevent or ameliorate every imaginable calamity. And if "they" don't, it's proof of someone's incompetence, greed or callousness.

We can't always blame everything on someone. Sometimes the greatest talent, deepest caring and best intentions can simply be overwhelmed; it's not someone's fault.
This is right in line with my Occam’s Razor post below about sometimes we should damn the hurricane and focus on the rescue efforts. The blame game feeds into moral vanity and political gamesmanship that helps nobody.
Chief Justice Roberts - Bush Nominates Roberts as Chief Justice – Just curious: I keep seeing video of John Roberts leaving his Chevy Chase, Virginia home in the morning. Is he receiving Secret Service protection? Seems to me that somebody about to head the judiciary branch of the federal government would warrant special security. Anyway, much more on Roberts over at Bench Memos.
A kind of revival – Michael Barone notes that the waters will recede but the underlying problems of New Orleans, widespread crime and corruption, will continue: “But New Orleans' heritages of upper-class complaisance and political corruption -- the result of the city's French tradition -- work against a more broadly based commercial and economic revival. Without changes in these attitudes, historic New Orleans may revive, but the city will become little more than a theme park, like Venice, and not the great commercial beehive it once was.”

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A parody of itself - The NY Times angrily demands to know: why did Congress cut the budget for flood protection? Maybe it’s because the NY Times said they should. Must have been one of those Jayson Blair editorials.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist dies at 80 – Rehnquist became an associate justice of the Supreme Court in 1971 which, incidentally, was the last year that the Court had two open positions.

Follow-up – Do you know how conservatives say “No more Souters?” It’s not just because of judicial philosophy: “The Supreme Court released statements by seven Supreme Court justices who paid tribute to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who died Saturday. A statement from Justice David Souter is not expected, the court said.” What a tool.
The anti-9/11

NY Times columnist David Brooks writes that faith in institutions is undermined by the response to Katrina:

On Sept. 11, Rudy Giuliani took control. The government response was quick and decisive. The rich and poor suffered alike. Americans had been hit, but felt united and strong. Public confidence in institutions surged.

Last week in New Orleans, by contrast, nobody took control. Authority was diffuse and action was ineffective. The rich escaped while the poor were abandoned. Leaders spun while looters rampaged. Partisans squabbled while the nation was ashamed.
Brooks suggests that America may be reaching a “bursting point” where cultural and sociological disaffection converge to bring about political change.