October 31, 2005
— Dr. Reo Symes The N.Y. Times, today, comes out with their profile of Judge Alito.
In short, its a love letter. At the end, you half expect them to invite him in to meet the parents, ask the guy if theres any brothers left at home for their friend Maureen. The portrait is that of a man whos brilliant, measured, thoughtful and, most of all, nice.
Its that last one thats probably making the lefts strategists grind their teeth the hardest. You can spin a lot of stuff to the Oprah crowd, but nice? They sniff out nice pretty damn good and once they do well, at that point its, Why are they saying mean things about that nice man?
Sure its early, and sure, we can expect harsher 'analysis' pieces down the line. But so far it looks good. Real good.
No arrogance. No goatees. Weve got the nominee we want. Were equipped for the fight. Lets do this thing.
— Harry Callahan Then the Democratic National Committee needs you! When they start sliming Alito with a "not for attribution" hack job that still has their fingerprints all over it, you know they need help.
I'm guessing that the DNC and the United Nations hire out of the same shallow techie pool.
At least they didn't fax it from the Kinko's across the street. Hey, it's a start!
— Ace I'm beginning to get annoyed by Pluto. If it keeps this crap up, yank its status as a planet.
Yeah, thrill of discovery and all that, but 1) I hate unlearning things I learned in third grade and 2) it's disappointing we're still discovering stupid moons in our own solar system. That's the exploratory equivalent of finding you have an extra salad spoon in your kitchen. Yayyyy.
— LauraW. Iran Cracks Down on Mannequins
A spokesman for the city's judiciary, who asked not be named, explained the drive would tackle problems of "public chastity." He said 65 mannequins have been impounded so far.
He explained the crack-down on tailors' dummies was part of a larger offensive against anti-social behavior such as vandalism and biker gangs.
Frankly I'm surprised it has taken this long.
Wood and plaster need to be reined in, people.
The way they...look at you. With their faces painted like hooors.
Something had to be done.
— Ace Not going to work this time, but thanks for trying.
1. A lot of the liberal media thinks that conservatives are salivating for a fight, just to have a fight. (Funny how they don't seem to say the same about the unhinged left.)
That's not true, really. If Alito sails through, I'd be quite happy. That said, this is a big enough issue to be deserving of a fight, and the nation shouldn't fear a public debate on the role and mission of the third branch of government.
Schumer is an idiot, but he's quite right-- ideology does matter, thanks, of course, to the relentless politicization of the courts by the left. All this sneaky "stealth" shit always seems dishonest and cowardly to me. Let's not be afraid to say what we really believe. Let's leave that for the liberals.
2. One of the problems with Harriet Miers was that, putting it charitably, she did not have the sort of strong record that would recommend her highly as a Supreme Court justice. That didn't bother me so much, except that it would make her very difficult to confirm.
Liberals like to pretend that judicial law-making by the Courts is dictated by the Constitution. That the made-up pretend fakey "penumbras and emanations" they're always discovering in a fairly brief, and fairly well-known, 216 year old document are not the result of political decisionmaking, but simple (though methodical) research into this venerable charter.
But the Credential Issue is important because of that lie. If liberals are going to contend that how they read the constitution is all but inevitable -- simply reading the words and putting them into action -- then the American public can say, "Well, if all of this interpretation so unavoidably flows from simply reading the Constitution, why can't a well-qualified and intellectually-capable judge of a conservative bent do just as good a job as Ruth Ginsberg?" That is, if, as liberals claim, Constitutional interpretation allows for precious little political shenanigans -- which they claim when they say the Constitution commands this or that -- then there's little harm of letting a conservative, well-qualified judge with a long appellate history interpret it. After all, isn't the Constitution terribly clear about the right to abortion, for example?
Now, that's sort of fighting dishonesty with dishonesty, but hey, there's nothing dishonorable about using one's opponent's bullshit against him.
So while the Qualification Question didn't seem to much matter to Bush, I think it matters a lot to many citizens. "He knows constitutional law cold" is a strong rejoinder to those on the left seeking to bork Alito -- if he knows his beans, then he'll get his decisions mostly right, right? Because everything liberals say the Constitution says is right there in black-and-white, right?
— Ace Okay, I'm sure everyone's already seen this, but just in case.
I've heard of a picture's eyes following you around a room, but a hand?
The poor son is doing all he can to keep from slapping the "mouse" russling the back of his hair.
— Ace Whatever. It remains an indication of the hostility of the Bush Administration when someone's mind jumps to such a, errrm, metaphor in the course of asking what would have been a kinda stupid and hostile question anyhow.
I don't think that John Roberts would have asked if Clinton's third choice for AG, Janet Reno, was "sloppy seconds," or "filthy thirds."
Or if, given how late in the process she was chosen, she's the sort of gal who's a "2 at 10 and a 10 at 2."
Or if Reno's nomination was a metaphorical "three bagger" -- one bag over her head, one bag over yours, and one bag over your dog's head so that he can't see what you're doing and won't lose all respect for you.
But just keep in mind that John Roberts was almost chosen as CBSNews' lead national anchor, but lost the job to Bob "Mr. Adrenaline" Schieffer.
So, when Mr. Schieffer retires, and John Roberts is finally considered to have enough "gravitas" to take the helm, we can all ask him if he thinks he was "sloppy seconds" for CBS.
— Ace Thanks to Bill From INDC and Jack M. for suggesting this list.
John Roberts asked if Judge Alito was "sloppy seconds." Here are some less-well-reported reactions from media.
Content Warning. But remember, John Roberts, News Professional, started this. more...
— Ace John Fund's column is a bit of a muddle, skipping from this topic to that, but he notes the power of the Internet (and mainstream punditry, amplified by being disseminated by the Internet) played an important role in the Miers debate:
Establishment figures on both sides tend to focus on the symptom of rancorous nomination fights rather than the underlying cause: a judiciary that too often short-circuits democratic debate and directs ideological heat on itself. Sen. John Warner of Virginia, a Republican, huffs that Ms. Miers was "denied due process." Former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, a Republican, laments that the Miers controversy empowered "the bloggers and pundits far beyond the president and the Senate, which should be the ones that decide on the suitability" of a nominee.
While only a small minority of Americans read political blogs, they tend to attract high-profile readers in media and politics with nonstop access to a computer. Such people influence the influencers. "The Internet processed all the arguments for Miers in record time and rejected them," says Rich Lowry, editor of National Review. "A few days before the Miers withdrawal her supporters had nothing left to say."
Liberals, who were largely bystanders during the conservative family feud over Ms. Miers, are now stepping forward to tar her critics as Grand Inquisitors. "The radical right wing of the Republican Party drove this woman's nomination right out of town," thundered Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Juan Williams, a National Public Radio and Fox News analyst, compared her critics to "a far-right Donner party. They're eating their own."
While the power of the technological forces that helped doom the Miers nomination may give cheer to both liberals and conservatives seeking to head off ideological drift by Washington political leaders, the intensity they can generate also carries the danger of blowing up legislative compromises on such matters as Social Security and stem-cell research.
"The moral hazard of the new media is clear," says columnist Jim Pinkerton, an aide to President George H.W. Bush. "They can turn any discussion into a donnybrook, and any nomination into Armageddon." Such a development isn't inevitable witness the civilized debate over John Roberts's appointment. But President Bush will have to consider that risk in picking a new nominee for the high court, just as Democratic senators will have to weigh how much they respond to Internet sites pressuring them to mount a filibuster against that nominee
Two quick points:
As I've said before, the power of the Internet isn't that there are bunch of scary-smart analysts telling you things you don't already think and persuading you of them. That happens from time to time, but mostly the Internet is useful for channelling political energy that already exists. Most blog-readers already agree with 80% of what their bookmarked bloggers write; the power of the blogospher comes from marshalling inchoate political energies into a drive that can't easily be ignored. Before those displeased with the Miers nomination had to simply mutter to their TV's in frustration, or attempt to get on the line with Rush Limbaugh (no easy task); now they can comment and offer their own opinions online. It's a small venue, to be sure, but the accumulation of single voices in small venues adds up to something nontrivial.
Second, I'm a little embarassed for both Sen. Warner and Jim Pinkerton. The underlying assumption -- I'm sure they'd reject it if it were put to them nakedly, but it seems to undergird their complaints just the same -- is that democracy is too damn important to be left to the voters. Senators, journalists, Officially Licensed Pundits and party hacks -- these are the people whose opinions should be read and believed. The rest of us -- well, we're just not credentialed enough to offer opinions. Sure, we're registered to vote, but hell, you can register a dog to vote. Or a corpse, in Chicago and New Orleans.
There's a lot of politics that goes on before voting, or before official hearings, or before formal bills are proposed. The presidential candidates offered up every four years are already, to a large degree, pre-selected by less-than-democratic processes. There's the money primary-- which candidates can attract the big donors and big donation-solicitors and thus prove they have a chance in hell of getting the nominaton. The media primary-- which candidates do the media take a cotton to (McCain) and which do they plainly despise (George Bush). And the pre-official party primary-- which candidates have the backing of the party's establishment, its spokesmen for grassroots constituencies, its biggest operatives and advisors.
The voters have the ultimate say, of course, in the primaries and in the general election, but many candidates are warned away from running, crippled in their efforts to run, or simply dismissed as nons-serious candidates over the course of a long period of not-truly-democratic winnowing by elites.
With regard to political controversies, the parties, the politicians, the activists, and of course the Old Media were the ones with all the power in the early stages of argumentation and debate. Why is border security not taken seriously by at least one of the parties, despite the fact that a clear majority of Americans favor increasing security at our borders? Well, because that issue has been mooted by the elites before it can ever reach the critical mass needed to actually be put the people in a plebiscite of one form or another (an actual bill, etc.)
So there is already an awful lot of candidate and issue screening going on by elites, championing some causes and rejecting others before American voters get their say, usually very late in the game.
Why should the New Media not be among those weighing in early, when a lot of the decisions are actually made? Especially because, of all the various factions seeking to advance or scuttle a candidate or cause, the New Media is arguably the most democratic of all? The New Media isn't pure democracy, but it's more democratic than, say, pro-business lobbyists meeting with Republican Senators seeking to scuttle a bill proposing stronger penalties for hiring undocumented workers.
Only elected politicans can claim to be more representative of true democracy... trouble is, many of them view the voters as problems to be finessed rather than what they are -- the Board of Directors for their corporation on governance.
Much of the animus directed towards the New Media seems to be self-interested. Those who have thusfar enjoyed an awful lot of power seem none to happy to cede a little bit of it the barbarians at the Gates.
— Ace Uhhh, okay, Chuckie, sure.
The judiciary is, by its traditional nature and historic role, a reactive institution. As it should be, and as it was, until 50 or so years ago.
Judges are not terribly good at "advancing" social policy. Although an argument can be made that more Americans support abortion rights due to the Court's ruling in Roe and subsequent opinions, it is hardly the case that Court's political legislating in this area has ended the debate. Indeed, it's exacerbated it; even people who are pro-choice on policy grounds (like me) find Roe v. Wade to be a horrendous judicial decision.
The same on civil unions/gay marriage. Surely it can't have escaped the notice of the Philospher Kings in our judiciary that it was the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's nakedly political diktat on gay marriage that most raised the hackles of conservatives -- and moderates. States like New Jersey that enacted civil union laws through the constitutional method of doing so -- you know, boring legislators passing boring laws, without the sexy heat and controversy of judges saying "The Constitution demands this, and you must obey" -- are barely mentioned in the various briefs on the culture wars.
The One Big Success of the Court pushing society in a particular direction was Brown v. Board of Ed. But how much of the country's rejection of racism and Jim Crowism and etc-ism was actually due to that decision itself, and how much was due to the political persuasion of the country that such things were malevolent and anti-American? I would say mostly the latter -- had the country not decided that racism as A Big Bad Thing, we would be having disputes over Brown as intense as the disputes over Roe.
The Court has little persuasive power to actually change minds.
And so I find Charles Schumer especially ridiculous today. Does Schumer really think that the only thing keeping whites from maliciously repressing blacks is a line of Supreme Court decisions? Hasn't he sort of noticed that overt racism is nearly gone -- and mercilessly attacked when it shows itself -- and even covert racism is on the steep decline?
What Chuckie Schumer fears, of course, is not that that "rightwing ideologues on the Court" could possibly unsettle conensus national decisions that are so ingrained in America that they hardly need enforcement. There will be no more Rosa Parks, partly due to the fact that no one will ever ask a black woman to give up her seat on a bus to a white man just because she is black and he is white.
What he fears is that highly debatable and dubious "advancements" in civil rights -- a strong "Constitutional" mandate for quotas and the like -- will no longer have five liberal champions on the Court. He tries to scare us with bugaboos about America returning to the Deep South, circa 1953, but it's a ruse. What he really fears is that very questionable policies -- policies which are highly debatable, not mentioned or implied in the Constitution, and which should be subject to the normal process of political persuasion and then either political acceptance or rejection, such as quotas and set-asides -- will have to contend in the political arena on their own merits, without Philospher Kings dictating that the nation adopt them.
— Ace We're still not very serious about fighting this war:
Our elite commitment to multiculturalism also hamstrings us from taking the needed security steps. For 30 years, our schools have pounded home the creed that all cultures are of equal meritor, more accurately perhaps, that no culture is worse than the Wests. Millions of Americans consequently arent sure whether radical Islam is just another legitimate alternative to the dominant Western narrative. Typical of this mind-set, UCLA English professor Saree Makdisi, excusing the London subway terrorism, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that deliberately butchering commuters is no worse than accidentally killing civilians while targeting terrorists in a war zone. American and British media have devoted hours to wondering what would drive a seemingly normal young Muslim to destroy himself and others, Makdisi said. No one has paused to ask what would cause a seemingly normal young Christian or Jew to strap himself into a warplane and drop bombs on a village, knowing full well his bombs will inevitably kill civilians (and, of course, soldiers).
It is a tremendous historical irony that Americas liberal Left, embracing moral equivalence in this fashion, has all but refused to denounce the illiberal ideology of our enemiesan ideology that supports polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, hatred of homosexuals, and patriarchy. Sometimes, the terrorists even win outright praise: perhaps the most popular filmmaker of election year 2004 was Michael Moore, who celebrated the suicide bombers and terrorists of Iraq as minutemen akin to our own Founding Fathers.
If we are not sure as a nation that Islamists really are foes of Western values but instead see them as another persecuted group with legitimate gripes against us (occupied Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, GuantÃ¡namo Bay, colonialism, the Crusades), then it becomes increasingly hard to identify, let alone fight, the practitioners of Islamic fanaticism at home. Even the military bureaucracy seems to be having trouble naming the enemy: witness the rebranding by some Pentagon officials of the war on terrorism into the global war against violent extremism. While the original nomenclature was unsatisfactorywars arent fought against a tactic but rather against those using itthe new name is even less helpful. Our fight against jihadists is different from our struggle with recalcitrant Serbian nationalists or Kim Jong-ils crackpot extremism. We are at war with radical Islam, Islamic fascism, Islamismthe radical Islamic polemic, in the words of Sarkozy. We should never lose sight of this fact. President Bushs October speech describing our struggle against Islamic terrora first for the administrationis an encouraging, if belated, sign.
— Ace More fair and balanced -- and tasteful! -- quetions from our professional information preisthood.
Good Lord All Mighty.
— LauraW. Knock Yourselves Out.
Please don't miss the controversy over at Democratic Underground (I won't link to them).
The smell of Liberal pants-shitting is afloat everywhere. If you can't find the comments on DU funny, I don't know what to do for you.
Ann Althouse thumbnails some of his more memorable decisions
Ideoblog: A business friendly justice.
David Bernstein: A "sweet" Scalia.
David Bernstein (again): Alito Would Give Court A Catholic Majority
October 30, 2005
— Ace New York Times article about "super precedents," a new legal concept of sorts. Super precedents are like normal precedents, except they are very important to the "fabric" of our law, and are thus not entitled to mere stare decisis, but super stare decisis.
Liberals used to call these sorts of precedents "liberal precedents." I don't remember them arguing that Bowers v. Hardwick, or the long list of precedents that one could execute a 17 year old cold-blooded killer, were "superprecedents," or really any sort of real precedent at all.
The New York Times, shockingly enough, tries to make trouble for potential Supreme Court nominee Michael Luttig:
An origin of the idea was a 2000 opinion written by J. Michael Luttig, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, who regularly appears on short lists for the Supreme Court.
Striking down a Virginia ban on a procedure that opponents call partial-birth abortion, Judge Luttig wrote, "I understand the Supreme Court to have intended its decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey," the case that reaffirmed Roe in 1992, "to be a decision of super-stare decisis with respect to a woman's fundamental right to choose whether or not to proceed with a pregnancy."
Let's nip this one in the bud: He was saying it was his opinion that, as a judge inferior to the Supreme Court and charged to apply its precedents as they intended, he thought the Court intended itself to esptablish "super-stare-decisis." Not that he believes in such a thing, necessarily. Just that it was his job to do what the Supreme Court, and that the then-current O'Connor-led goofballs on the Court intended to create this new weapon, a +5 Holy Precedent, double-damage vs. rightwing troglodytes.
As a Supreme Court judge, he'll be deciding himself if he believes in "super-precedents."
Prof. Randy Barnett, a member of the Volokh Conspiracy, splashes cold water on this silly spark of imagination:
"The fact that something is a superprecedent doesn't give us a reason to stick to it if it's wrongly decided," said Randy Barnett of Boston University Law School...
Seems to me Plessey v. Fergussen's separate-but-equal standard was a superprecedent with a long, multiply-reaffirmed history before, it you know, wasn't.
— Ace I have no idea if this one's any good, but the first Saw was one of those zero-expectations impulse-PPV-orders that turned out to be, well, pretty damn good. Kind of a locked-room version of Seven.
— Harry Callahan Larry Niven? Who's that?
— Ace Good news.
They're not going to fully give up supporting terrorism as a tactic. But, as the experience of the IRA tells us, as a "political wing" of a terrorist movement advances, the actual terrorist wing declines in emphasis, and deadliness.
— Tanker You know how the Palestinian terrorists are always saying they have no choice other than suicide bombers? Some crap about it being unfair that the Jews have tanks and they only have donkey carts. Well what is the logic behind beheading school girls?
— Ace SULAWESI, Indonesia -- Muslim warriors scored yet another heroic military victory, this time against a well-trained trio of special-ops teenaged girls from a Christian school.
"Allah be praised for delivering us this magnificent triumph," an unknown brave warrior in a face-obscuring mask announced. "Those 105-pound teenaged girls fought like tigers, using all the weapons and trickery they learned at a Special Forces clinic at the 4-H Club. They also employed advanced martial arts techiques from the legendary fighting form known as 'Jazzercize.'"
The glorious Islamic heroes stated that they identified the co-ed covert operatives by their open display of the famous credo of SOCOM (the special operations command), "N'SYNC = N'STINK."
Having captured the dangerous commandos, the Muslim warriors afforded them with the full panoply of rights granted to them by the Geneva Protocols, including the invioble rights of POW's to have their heads sawed from their still-living bodies, a right which applies only upon capture by Muslims. WARNING: Extremely Graphic Pictures of the International Red Cross-approved treatment of Western prisoners.
The gay-panic murder-cultists of the Muslim world rejoiced that the three operatives had been captured while carrying the weapon most feared in the Muslim world-- vaginas.
Courageous Muslim proudly displayed "high-tech infidel weaponry" recovered from the special-ops babysitters' club, including a cellphone with its ringer set to play Britney Spears' Hit Me Baby One More Time, a "special CIA pen" with purple ink that smelled strongly of artifical grapes, and an eraser shaped like a crazy-haired troll, said by the Muslim warriors to be some sort of "psy-ops" device.
Although the girls were not identified as Jewish per se, at least one was captured with a Barbra Streisand CD in her possession. "Close enough," one glorious Muslim warrior said. "People Who Need People is a notorious propaganda hymn of the Jew Mossad."
Western journalists reacted with shock to the incident. "How dare those infidels tresspass in Muslim lands," British journalist John Pilger seethed. "This is yet another sign of the American neo-con cabal's utter disdain for the principle of freedom of religion."
Robert Fisk, on the other hand, noted that the Muslims had been careful enough to not inflict any "so-called 'collateral damage'" while taking out what he called "legitimate military targets." "Had this attack been conducted by George Bush," he wrote, "we might have expected upwards of 200 dead innocent Muslim sporting-gun enthusiasts, who had peacefully gathered in a mosque to engage in the cherished Islamic holy ritual of indiscriminate sniper fire."
Note: Looks like Tanker and I stumbled on this at the same time. We're just "flooding the zone," as Howell Raines said of his wall-to-wall coverage of women being banned from the Augusta National golf course. A slightly more important story, I admit, but I think this one has some amount of significance as well.
October 29, 2005
— Ace Hussein himself agreed to the plan of peaceful exile to avoid the war. "Leaders" of Arab countries vetoed it. The US indicated its support of the plan (indeed, George W. Bush specifically gave Saddam the option of peaceful exile in his prewar ultimatum).
Under the plan, Saddam & Co. would have departed Iraq for the UAE, with the promise of freedom of prosecution for their myriad crimes.
So if Arabs don't like the war, they can blame the tyrants who rule them.
It is not explained why the deal was rejected. The obvious theory is that the other tyrants in the Arab world did not want the precedent of one of their own being forced into exile by a US ultimatum, and wanted the removal, if unavoidable, to be costly and bloody, so as to make it the last one.
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