Reasonable Nuts

Sometimes nuts. Always reasonable. We are REASONABLE NUTS.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Logic bomb of the day

Among the myriad referenda before Californians this fall in a special vote is this logical doozy:
Proposition 73 - "Parental Notification" would require that a physician notify a parent or legal guardian of a pregnant minor at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed. Currently, parental consent is required to use a tanning booth or get pierced ears.
I am beginning to realize one of the predominant distinctions between conservatives and liberals is one's ability to live beyond the premise "out of sight, out of mind." Liberals - or should I merely say "non-conservatives"? - make their policy based almost fully on an inability or refusal to investigate matters beyond immediacy - that is, they are unable or refuse to examine the past (history) or otherwise make preparation for the future based upon what they cannot (for whatever reason(?)(!)) see.

Almost needless to say (to respecters of logic), these are not the sort of people you want setting policy for years to come. But since many of their ilk are inclined to "make a difference", we (conservatives and other respecters of logic) should develop a series of really time consuming activities with which to assist liberals in making a difference.

A few ideas spring to mind. Here's one:

  • Now that the Chinese control the Panama Canal, we need another such Central American crossing. There have been proposals to construct one in Nicaragua for some time. Let's put it under the direction of the Peace Corps and enlist the help of conscientious sorts. We will advertise it as a "fully environmentally friendly" operation, which means the workers will be issued one shovel and one bucket each. This should take 1,000,000 do-gooders about 100 years.

Perhaps you can think of additional projects of this sort?

Beast's lunch

The title of this post sounds like a possible sequel to the William S. Boroughs' classic, Naked Lunch. The content of this post, I assure you, is far more reasonable, though nearly as nutty.

So I just returned from buying my lunch at the deli downstairs. It's Halloween, right? No lie - the price that rang-up on the cash register was $6.66. I looked at the cashier, smiled, and she quickly added $0.01 to bring the total to $6.67.

It occurs to me that the price would have been more like $6.50, save for the fact the city of Richmond raised taxes (again) on food sales. So it reasonably follows that it is the city of Richmond to blame for causing my meal to invoke visions of the Apocalypse.

In other news, the chicken sandwich was OK. And no - my keyboard has not started talking to me. Gotta run. I have an appointment with Dr. Benway. Wish me well. I've never quite liked his office since moving to Interzone.

Democrats to gain in '06?

Even with the difficulties in Republican camps, it's not looking good for Democrats:
According to those familiar with the strategy session, the Democrats have already settled on a new slogan for the 2006 midterm elections, “Read our lips – tons of new taxes,” and that most of that new tax revenue would be used to promote the legalization of crystal meth.

The slouching Supreme Court sits up straight

I am greatly heartened to learn that President Bush quite obviously reads Reasonable Nuts. After all, if you pull up the entry from last Thursday ("The (long) list"), you'll see his Supreme Court justice nominee, Samuel Alito, mentioned first on that list. Knowing the President has a short attention span, it is reasonable to assume this is precisely how he arrived at the choice of Alito.

Actually, I need to render a mea culpa for my commentary last Thurday. I was flat-out wrong in my assumption that Bush would nominate another woman - going so far as to state that no one could even imagine him not doing so. Well, at least I have my day job.

In any event, it is good to see a strong choice now made for this very important position. I hope he is prepared for the scrutiny and wish him and his family the best. I read the comment of one Senate Democrat who called the choice "needlessly provocative". I would agree that the choice was indeed provocative, though I would disagree with the needless comment. Rather, it was needfully so.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Truth or Consequences - Part 1

While universities are supposed to be open forums of debate and learning, we see more and more leftist protectionism. Further, the leftist tilt is leaning more and more into the range of the extreme. The ‘open forum’ charter is used only to tolerate hyper-leftist psychobabble, while all things moderate, conservative, or Christian are boycotted as ‘intolerant’ with the buzzword of ‘hate’. There is a double standard in the reaction to the issue of racism – and the media coverage of it. At Howard University and other parts of DC, people revolted to the streets in protest when one city administrator allegedly used the word 'niggardly' (which has nothing to do with race) in a sentence during a meeting. He resigned under the pressure and ended his civil service carreer, even though he had actually said nothing racist at all. Yet, hardly more than a couple newsbytes come out when an NC State professor speaking at Howard University called for complete genocide in America as ‘the only solution’ to their problem - and people in the audience applauded. (Hmmm… His classist rantings of blame sound just like someone else in Germany who called for genocide as the ‘final solution’ to their problems.)

What would the Leftist and media reaction have been if the races where reversed in these two examples?

IMHO, as long the unbalanced racism of the latter sub-sub-group (who really only represent a minority of the minority they claim to represent) is allowed to rant their poisonous indoctrination to our children unchallenged, we with neither have equality nor social stability in America. We saw on 9/11 what happens when mainstream societies just look the other way and tolerate poisonous doctrine with no opposing debate. Just as much as the Muslim community needs to challenge and cull poisonous doctrines in their societies, we must challenge and cull the poisonous doctrines in ours. [Please note that I am not advocating censorship, but rather public rebuttal.] Some people, especially the young, need the truth – what we see as obvious - spelled out for them. They at least need to know that there is another side to consider; to think without blind acceptance. Come, let us reason together. Otherwise, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo were just the beginning.
- Spoomonger (the Coconut)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Did the blog do him in?

Daniel Drezner was denied tenure in the political science department of the University of Chicago, despite a pretty decent CV. Did his blog do him in? Perhaps. If you take a gander at his faculty-mates at the U of C, you'll possibly notice what I did - that the directorship of his department likely swings to the left considerably (though they doubtless are unaware of their own bias... typical). Anyhow, I wish him the best. Were the Reasonable Nuts a paying gig, I'd offer him a fellowship. Peace, brother.

The face of evil

Stare deeply into my eyes. I am the face of evil.

Seldom does a principal character on the world stage present himself as a clear image of the face of evil, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has done precisely that, revealing the true hatred and aims within his and the hearts of many in his twisted world with the following words:

"no doubt the new wave [of attacks] in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot from the face of the Islamic world."

This sort of state-organized shiite occurs seemingly all the time. What does not typically occur is the visible participation of the leadership of those states. Apologists are attributing this to Ahmadinejad's inexperience, the newness of his position. This is, by far, the worst effort at explaining-away a horrific thought-crime since John Kerry's clearing up how he "voted for the $87 billion before" he "voted against it".

If nothing less, Ahmadinejad has given those calling for regime change in Iran their best ammunition in months.

H5N1

Tech Central Station is typically a source of careful analysis of things science-y. That is, the site many more times than not takes the cautious approach to the claims of scientists - and their governmental lackeys - regarding issues of potentially catastrophic worldwide import. Thus, I do not know quite how to read their special report section devoted to the Avian Influenza. Have they jumped on a bandwagon or are they sounding a reasonable alarm? Perhaps hits are down at the site or perhaps this is the real deal. What say you?

One man's Stability is another man's Hell-on-Earth

Clifford May brings up a good point:

"For decades, the desire for stability has led us to support not Arabs and Muslims who advocate freedom and democracy -- but their oppressors. That led many in the Middle East to conclude – with some justification -- that they had nowhere to turn except to the Islamic Fascists."


That we in the opinionated news-publishing First World have experienced 50 years without war on our own soil has made some of us (those blind to history) foolishly believe we can forever maintain that peace... and even more foolishly call it stability when many elsewhere (anywhere else, it would seem) live in a state of constant oppression and / or conflict. Out of sight is out of mind for many. Stability is a euphemism for preserving the status quo; it strongly depends upon which end you sit, how much you desire "stability".

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The (long) list

From the AP, a list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court the President may be considering and why:

BTW, it is interesting to note the compiler(s) of this list have sorted the candidates by sex, with the women last. In fact, one might remove the men from the list altogether, as no one can even imagine the nominee not being a woman at this point.
Samuel A. Alito, 55: A strong conservative voice in his 15 years on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considered to be among the most liberal. He has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to that of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Emilio Garza, 58: Sits on the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was considered for a Supreme Court seat by the first President Bush. He has become best known for his views that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and that abortion regulation should be decided by state legislatures.

Alberto Gonzales, 50: U.S. attorney general and former White House counsel. Critics contend a memo he wrote on treatment of terrorism detainees helped lead to abuses such as those seen at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Conservatives have urged Bush not to nominate him.

Edith Hollan Jones, 55: Has served on the 5th Circuit since 1985. The first President Bush considered Jones for a vacancy on the Supreme Court in 1990, but nominated David H. Souter.

J. Michael Luttig, 51: Worked in the Justice Department during the administration of the first President Bush and has served on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. He was a law clerk to the late Chief Justice Warren Burger from 1983-84.

Michael McConnell, 50: A judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He enjoys bipartisan support in the academic community. Based on his reading of the law, he opposed President Clinton's impeachment and the Supreme Court's 2000 ruling in Bush v. Gore that made George W. Bush president.

Theodore B. Olson, 64: Was solicitor general, the president's top Supreme Court lawyer. He argued the Supreme Court case that gave Bush the victory in the 2000 presidential election. His wife, Barbara, a conservative commentator, was killed when terrorists crashed a jet into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Larry D. Thompson, 59: Was deputy attorney general during Bush's first term, making Thompson the federal government's highest-ranking black law enforcement official. Thompson is a longtime friend of Clarence Thomas who sat next to Thomas more than a decade ago during contentious Senate hearings on Thomas' nomination to the Supreme Court.

J. Harvie Wilkinson III, 60: Also on the 4th Circuit. He has been consistently conservative in his rulings since being put on the court by Reagan in 1984. Wilkinson wrote the majority 4th Circuit opinion in 1996 upholding the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that barred gays serving in the military from revealing their sexual orientation.

Priscilla Owen, 50: Owen was confirmed in May for a seat on the 5th Circuit after a drawn-out Senate battle. Democrats argued that Owen let her political beliefs to color her rulings. They were particularly critical of her decisions in abortion cases involving teenagers.

Miguel Estrada, 44: President Bush nominated Estrada, a conservative Hispanic lawyer, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit during his first term, but the nomination was thwarted by Senate Democrats who said Estrada lacked the judicial experience to serve and didn't make clear his views on abortion.

Edith Brown Clement, 57: On the 5th Circuit since 2001, Clement is known as a no-nonsense judge with a reputation for being tough on crime and meting out stiff sentences. Her 99-0 Senate confirmation vote to the circuit court in November 2001 suggests she has broad appeal. She was touted as a top possibility for the vacancy to which Roberts was nominated.

Janice Rogers Brown, 56: Newly confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after a bitter Senate battle and filibuster, Brown is an outspoken black Christian conservative who supports limits on abortion rights and corporate liability.

Alice Batchelder, 61: A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Batchelder has been a reliable conservative vote on abortion, affirmative action and gun control. Bush's father appointed the former high school English teacher to the court with jurisdiction over Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Karen Williams, 54: A former trial lawyer, Williams is known as one of the most conservative judges on the nation's most conservative federal appeals court, the Richmond-based 4th Circuit. In 1999, Williams wrote the 4th Circuit opinion that would have paved the way for overturning the landmark 1966 decision in Miranda that outlines the rights read to criminal suspects. The Supreme Court voted 7-2 to let it stand.

Maura Corrigan, 57: The Michigan Supreme Court justice is a walking billboard for the conservative mantra of judicial restraint — the notion that judges should stick to interpreting the law and not making it. Her resume includes a number of firsts, among them: first woman to serve as chief assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit, first woman to serve as chief judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Maureen Mahoney, 50: Often described as the female version of Chief Justice John Roberts, Mahoney, a lawyer in private practice, clerked for the late Justice William Rehnquist, served as deputy solicitor general under Kenneth Starr and has argued cases before the Supreme Court. Mahoney might upset conservatives with one of her major court wins, the landmark University of Michigan Law School case defending affirmative action.

The Shifting Supreme Court, Part 12

Well, it appears that this particular series of mine is at an end: As most of you probably know by now, Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court.
In a statement, President Bush said he “reluctantly accepted” her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. Bush said Miers withdrew because of a bipartisan effort in Congress to gain access to internal documents related to her current role as counsel to the president. But politics also played a role: Bush’s conservative backers had doubts about her ideological purity, and Democrats had little incentive to help the nominee or the embattled GOP president.
So, time will tell if Bush will make a perhaps wiser choice for a new nominee. Apparently, he had some other women nominees in mind, but they had withdrawn because they didn’t want to be involved in the battles imminent in being a Supreme Court nominee. Let’s hope that a good candidate will be selected and that someone will be brave enough to step up to the plate. Until the next nominee…

To read the text of Miers' resignation letter, click here.

The Slouching Supreme Court: Part 13 - So long and thanks for all the officiousness

This is no surprise. I have parroted the works of Krauthammer and Kristol, who were dead-on with their analyses of the Miers controversy. Who knows what sort of ally the right would have had in Miers, but that was part of the problem.
WASHINGTON — Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice Thursday in the face of stiff opposition and mounting criticism about her qualifications.
An interesting sidenote is the title of the series of posts (The Slouching Supreme Court). I derived the name as a double play on words - first from my condrade Queen Spoo's series of posts here (The Shifting Supreme Court) and second from the title of Robert Bork's excellent book from a few years back, "Slouching Towards Gomorrah". I was last night reading an equally excellent opinion piece by Bork, "Slouching Towards Miers". While I could argue that Bork was influenced by me in the title of his article, I reason it far more probable he was influenced by himself in this regard. ;-)

"Big": selling a Google 4 times a year

Maybe you heard recently that with the stratospheric rise in Google's stock price, the company is hovering around $100 billion of market capitalization. The financial directors of Google would seem to be taking their name quite literally. That said, Google is still a dwarf next to ExxonMobil:
8:09am 10/27/05

Exxon Mobil's revenue tops $100 billion (XOM) By Lisa Sanders
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) , the world's largest publicly-traded oil company, on Thursday reported net income of $9.92 billion, or $1.58 a share, on revenue of $100.7 billion. The quarter included a $1.62 billion gain from a restructuring of the company's interest in the Dutch gas transportation business. A year ago, Exxon Mobil reported net income of $5.68 billion, or 88 cents a share, on revenue of $76.4 billion. Excluding special items, Exxon Mobil would have earned $8.3 billion, or $1.32 a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected Exxon Mobil to earn $1.38 a share, on average.
ExxonMobil is selling a Google 4 times a year!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

McEducation

McDonald's is to begin printing nutritional information on their food-like-substance wrappers. This is a good idea, especially for us information hounds, who like to blankly stare at the table whilst we woof down our food-like-substances. An even better idea, however, is the following; why not begin a public service campaign which prints on wrappers information truly necessary to the proper functioning of a liberal democratic republic? I'll suggest the first several topics:
  1. How to balance your checkbook. Related to this...
  2. How to set up and adhere to a budget.
  3. How to drive with efficiency, courtesy, and safety.
  4. The United States Constitution, in a nutshell (constructionist interpretation).
  5. The United States Constitution, in a nutshell ("living document" interpretation (for comic relief, er, I mean balance)).
  6. The taxes you pay: itemized and totaled. Incensed yet?
  7. Your congressperson and his/her voting record (no-spin version).
  8. Basics of Logic: how to use the law of non-contradiction to determine truth.
  9. Critical Thinking: how not to believe everything that arrives in your e-mail inbox.
  10. Republics and Democracies: essential differences. Guess which you live in.
Any others come to mind?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Shifting Supreme Court, Part 11

Despite all of the criticism around her nomination, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said that Harriet Miers is “‘looking forward’ to answering questions posed to her by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearings,” despite the request for a delay so that she can prepare. Of course, McClellan is supporting the President’s view that Miers is an excellent candidate for the Supreme Court, further stating that


“Harriet Miers looks forward to answering those questions when she goes before the Judiciary Committee. I think that the American people will see that she is someone who is exceptionally well qualified and someone who has a conservative judicial philosophy….She is someone that has deep respect for our Constitution and our laws, and believes that we should look at the law and apply the law; we should not be – judges should not be making law from the bench."
David Limbaugh also wrote a commentary about the importance of this nominee being a true originalist, and how that has lost its meaning in the middle of everything:

Unfortunately, some conservative observers of the Miers nomination have fallen into an anti-elitist trap. They correctly distrust over-intellectualizing – or at least the snooty, pseudo-intellectualism that emanates from the academic Left. They also have a well-placed aversion toward "over-lawyering," including the tendency to make the simple more complex. Thus, they instinctively react adversely to the argument that Ms. Miers doesn't appear to have the optimum background to go toe-to-toe against some of the seasoned liberal justices on the Court, no matter how committed she says she is to the judicial philosophy of originalism.

I firmly believe that for any justice to have a significant impact on restoring the Constitution to its originally understood meaning, it won't be enough that he pays lip service to the popular cliche not to "legislate from the bench." Preferably, he will have developed his originalist philosophy over a considerable period of time, during which he will have considered and "unlearned" some of his law school indoctrination. The universe of potential justices who can be safely relied on to have given the subject enough thought to have unlearned the law school dogma is quite small. True, there may be untold numbers of potentially great originalist justices out there. But we have no way of knowing with the "stealth candidates," and there is simply no reason to take the risk when we don't have to.

But given the crapshoot that choosing judges has proven to be for well-meaning Republican presidents, I just think it would have been far more prudent for President Bush to have chosen among those jurists, practitioners and scholars who have demonstrated their originalist wares in the course of their legal careers. The stakes are too high to gamble on someone with no track record in the things that matter most for such an appointment – no matter how well President Bush may believe he knows Harriet Miers.

As the saga continues about the discontent with Miers’ nomination, some conservative activists have actually gotten together to create a site called http://www.withdrawmiers.org/, calling for her withdrawal and for President Bush to “immediately begin the vetting process of candidates who are stronger alternatives." They also have a petition to sign asking President Bush to withdraw her nomination, if she doesn’t first.

In the case of her withdrawal, especially as she doubts Miers’ qualifications for the job, Barbara Simpson writes about the very real possibility of Alberto Gonzalez being the next nominee.

The O'Connor seat remains open and Miers was named and controversy is rampant: nice woman, not qualified. What happens if she steps down? What if the president withdraws her nomination? Enough pressure from the Senate, the media and the public could make it happen.

What then? Who's next?

I'll tell you who I think it might be and I've thought so from the very beginning. "Trust," my foot. It wouldn't surprise me if this was the intent all along because he was said to be George Bush's first choice for the first vacancy.

His name didn't gain much traction because while the man is well known, he presents many concerns for conservatives. Nominally a conservative, he's a social liberal.

Who? Old friend (crony?) of the president. Texan. And it doesn't hurt he's Hispanic: Alberto Gonzales.

If it transpires he's named to the court, it'll cause more than ulcers among the GOP.

Gonzalez (a long-time attorney) is now U.S. attorney general. Prior to that he was legal counsel to the president (as is Miers), head of the Supreme Court search team, member of the Texas Supreme Court, Texas secretary of state, legal counsel to Gov. George Bush, senior adviser to that governor, Texas chief election officer and Gov. Bush's lead liaison on Mexico and border issues.

It certainly raises the question of the influence Gonzales has on the president's soft border policies and conciliatory attitude toward Mexico.

It's not reassuring that Alberto Gonzales was a member of La Raza, a far left, extremist, frequently militant Latino organization whose name translates "The Race." Its main goal: the return of the American Southwest to Mexico. What's going on? Quien sabe, senor, but hang on, the ride isn't over.

If this is a possibility, things could go from bad to worse. Let’s see what happens with Harriet, and if she does well with the hearings. If she doesn’t work out in the end, either by withdrawal or by non-confirmation, let’s hope that President Bush won’t make the same mistake twice.

The Left's "Anti-" Argument

Dennis Prager submitted a thoughtful commentary on the limiting, but oft-used, oppositional argument of the left/liberals when countering an issue: they simply call the other person "anti-whatever" to prove their correctness on the topic. As he writes:
One of the more appealing aspects about being on the Left is that you do not necessarily have to engage your opponents in debates over the truth or falsehood of their positions. You can simply dismiss your opponent as "anti." ... The "anti" arguments are effective. Conservatives have to spend half their time explaining that they are not bad people before they can be heard. But the Left has paid a great price. Because they have come to rely so heavily on one-word dismissals of their opponents, they have few arguments.
[for example] Anti-education: Those who object to the monopoly that teachers' unions have on public education and to their politicization of the school curricula are labeled "anti-education." Of course, the irony is that if you love education, you must oppose the teachers' unions.
Anti-intellectual: If you object to the dwindling academic standards at universities, or to the lack of diversity in ideas there, you are dismissed as "anti-intellectual." Given the universities' speech codes, the intellectually stifling Political Correctness that pervades academia, and the emotionalism that characterizes most leftist views on campus (American "imperialism," Israeli "apartheid," "war for oil" are emotional outbursts, not serious positions), if any side seems to express anti-intellectualism, it would be the Left.

It appears that the left/liberals need to be able to see perspectives beyond their own and consider what the other "disagreements" have to offer. If they listen, they might even *gasp* change their mind, or at the very least agree to disagree and respect other viewpoints without treating others as their enemies.

The slavery of hatred

Here is a very good commentary I came across today by Mychal Massie, who addresses the touchy issue of the sense of entitlement that many blacks have today based on the slavery and civil rights cards that they pull to explain any type of misfortune or disadvantage. Massie, who is black himself, makes some very good points:
If a white family is denied the purchasing of a particular home, is it because they are white or because they do not qualify due to credit or financing issues? If a white group is unable to effect an agreement for the purchase of a pro-sports franchise, is it because they are white or because there are other mitigating circumstances? If a white woman is unable to obtain a new car loan, is it because she is white and a woman or because there are other issues? For each of the aforementioned questions, the answer would be that there were other issues. Why then would each of the aforementioned refusals be race based if referencing a black person? ... There are more so-called poor who are white than black. There are more white students denied acceptance to the school of their choice than blacks. More white coaches are turned away and more whites are denied loans ad nauseum than blacks. Why is it mitigating circumstances for them and racism for blacks?

It seems that racism is taking a reverse course so that if you're not of a minority, you don't get preferential treatment. Massie also references that slavery has been over for 140 years, and segregation has been over for 40, so using the excuse of having slavery as a part of their history to excuse their state of being--and continuing to harbor hatred for wrongs done by those in the past--he finds downright annoying, and even nauseating.

Vice-President Rice is soon to take the oath of office?

"Excellent, Smithers! My Plans are well afoot and nearly complete!" says C.M. Burns, the real power behind the Republican Party.

As I wrote the other day - really just parroting the good work of Newsmax.com, which was itself just parroting the work of others in the rumor mill - as (VP) Cheney gets caught-up in the Plame mess (I refuse to term it a scandal or apply the "-gate" suffix), someone may have to be tapped to replace him. And who might that be?

Joining the Flock?

Flock, distributed under the Mozilla and GNU public licenses, is aimed mostly at bloggers.

Analysts estimate there are 10 million to 15 million sophisticated Internet users writing Internet journals—the number is growing daily—and Flock believes this is a prime target market.
But not so fast...
"While we are very excited about what we are doing, we want to make sure that you have been fully forewarned that this browser will crash from time to time and that any settings you save in this browser may quite possibly be erased, lost, or overwritten," they wrote.
Sounds interesting, but I'll see how it plays out. Part of the beauty of Firefox is it is fast, because it is stripped-down. Add all this neato stuff to it and... ?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hate-filled hatred

"And so basically, what it looks like is going to happen is that Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed” because “outing a CIA agent is treason,” left-wing author and radio talk show host Al Franken asserted Friday night, to audience laughter, on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman. Franken qualified his hard-edged satire: "Yeah. And I don't know how I feel about it because I'm basically against the death penalty, but they are going to be executed it looks like." Franken later suggested that President Bush is at risk of receiving the same punishment, since Karl Rove likely told him what he did, but he added a caveat: “I think, by the way, that we should never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President."

Our Honest Media Telling It Like It Is

SEVERE FLOODING-Oh My!
WATER RUSHED IN-REALLY MOVING! Oh My!
TOUGH TO CONROL BOAT-REALLY DEEP WATER! Oh?

...BUSTED! (Tip: Never try to stage a fake shot LIVE, you never know who will walk by.)
This is actually one of my pet peeves with American media: The more senior reporters may bust the chops of this junior neophyte, but I doubt they haven't done the same. They may just be a little better at it. Maybe its because I am a visual person, but the nightly news is so shallow and transparent it comes across as nothing but a waste of my time: the same video shots shown over and over - edited or cropped a little differently to stretch it out. What is the point of sending a crew somewhere if all they aren't going to go any further than the nearest parking lot of the 'on location' site. Our photographers and reporters have no interest in bringing the sights and sounds of the world to the people. They just look for a quick shot to back up their preconceived storyline. Flip over to BBC or some other MHz broadcast. The difference becomes obvious between who got out there with a real zoom lens and filmed live action, and who set up a camera and said 'Hey guys- wanna be on TV? Shoot your guns off over there and I'll film you..." How often on American news do you see insurgents/Palastinians/misc-news-subject actually taking cover from a funny thing you don't see much called return fire.
-Spoomonger (the Coconut ...a.k.a. the Right Wing Nut)

The Slouching Supreme Court: Part 12 - Miers nomination soon to be withdrawn

It is coming to pass, just as Charles Krauthammer indicated. The Bush administration has refused to give up confidential internal memoranda penned by Harriet Miers. And thus, we will be starting the process all over again.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights...

Pat Boone commented on the case that has been brought again by atheist Michael Newdow to rule the phrase "under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional and therefore removed from the Pledge. Boone speaks about how ridiculous such a move is, especially when it isn't unconstitutional and there are various national references to God, even in our own founding documents:
Most Americans honor the phrase "under God" and want to keep it in the Pledge. The fact is it's among our few instances of governmentally inscribed homage to the Almighty – which actually are very few. You can listen to the National Anthem at a thousand ball games and never risk hearing of God. After "In God We Trust" on our currency, we can count certain traditional ceremonial moments like "God save the United States and this Honorable Court" and certain inscriptions on marble and … that's it!
"Their Creator" was in the Declaration of Independence, but our present government didn't enact that; a previous arrangement of British colonists did. For our part, yes, our cherished First Amendment says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. But today's righteous rebels against public religiosity always seem to leave out the second part. ...
Why, then, is it so important to have "under God" in that pledge? Because "under God" is the key to the lock that any governing individual or insiders group may place on human rights or personal liberty! And no future generation of Americans should be put at risk of neglecting this recognition: Ours is the only country in history that has said your personal rights come from God. They come to you directly from your Creator, and some of them get loaned to the government by consent of the governed.

America will be at heart either one nation under God or one nation indifferent to God. Where will our highly evolved co-equal rights and powers as individuals come from if we keep God hidden in our public life? In their unending drive to do just that, the Michael Newdows of the world ultimately put human rights and personal liberty at increased risk.
It is amazing how the minority of America push so hard to make the majority take on their views, and how they find certain judges who will rule from the bench in their favor, even at the risk of ruling something erroneously unconsitutional to suit their own views. Even the Supreme Court sheepishly dismissed the first case because Newdow had no legal standing to bring it forward, but did not have the wherewithall to rule whether it was unconstitutional or not. If this goes to the Supreme Court again, let's hope they take a more courageous stand and rule what is constitutional: that such a phrase is allowed in our Pledge of Allegiance.

The Shifting Supreme Court, Part 10

The tone for the Miers' nomination continues to call for her withdrawal from consideration for the Supreme Court. This article in the New York Daily News announces that she has "already failed," as well as in the LA Times, citing that her need to delay for preparation and her answers for the questionnaire that she was to complete before her Senate hearings were inadequate and frankly unacceptable.
The final straw is a plan to delay the start of her Senate confirmation hearings, tentatively set for Nov. 7. It seems Miers has some cramming to do before she can face the Judiciary Committee. She needs, Sen. Chuck Schumer says, "some time to learn" about key constitutional cases. The panel chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), was quoted as saying, "It is unfair to start the hearings before she's ready." Before she's ready? In plain English, they're talking about remedial education. Not since the City University of New York ended the insidious practice ofdumbing down its standards has a government institution stooped so low to accommodate an unqualified applicant.

That it is the Supreme Court at stake is astonishing. It's as if the Yankees said the owner has hired a new star center fielder, but first they have to teach him how to hit a baseball. It wouldn't happen there, and it shouldn't happen in the court....I don't object to Bush looking for a woman. Diversity is important. Excellence is more important. Settling for anything less is a dereliction of duty.

Miers, her supporters say, is honest, loyal and hardworking. And her career path reflects talent and tenacity. But many people fit that definition. I know a few myself - and none of them belongs on the Supreme Court. Neither does Harriet Miers.
Ann Coulter, the spitfire conservative commentator, also is very disappointed with the inadequacy of Miers' qualifications for the Supreme Court:
This week's Miers update is:
1. Miers is a good bowler (New York Times, Oct. 16, 2005, front page – Joshua B. Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget: "She is a very good bowler"), which, in all honesty, is the most impressive thing I've heard about Miers so far;
2. In 1989, she supported a ban on abortion except to save the life of the mother.

We're told she has terrific "common sense." Common sense is the last thing you want in a judge! The maxim "Hard cases make bad law" could be expanded to "Hard cases being decided by judges with 'common sense' make unfathomably bad law."
It seems that Miers has some very good personal qualities, and may be a good lawyer. But it seems that for everyone's sake, including her own, perhaps she should withdraw her nomination, and allow President Bush to nominate a better qualified candidate.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Slouching Supreme Court: Part 11 - Krauthammer nails it

Charles Krauthammer tells us how the Miers brouhaha will come to a close:
Lindsey Graham has been a staunch and public supporter of this nominee. Yet on Wednesday he joined Brownback in demanding privileged documents from Miers' White House tenure.

Finally, light at the end of this tunnel. A way out: irreconcilable differences over documents.

For a nominee who, unlike John Roberts, has practically no previous record on constitutional issues, such documentation is essential for the Senate to judge her thinking and legal acumen. But there is no way that any president would release this kind of information -- ``policy documents'' and ``legal analysis'' -- from such a close confidante. It would forever undermine the ability of any president to get unguarded advice.

Which creates a classic conflict, not of personality, not of competence, not of ideology, but of simple constitutional prerogatives: The Senate cannot confirm her unless it has this information. And the White House cannot allow release of this information lest it jeopardize executive privilege.

Hence the perfectly honorable way to solve the conundrum: Miers withdraws out of respect for both the Senate and the executive's prerogatives, the Senate expresses appreciation for this gracious acknowledgment of its needs and responsibilities, and the White House accepts her decision with the deepest regret and with gratitude for Miers' putting preservation of executive prerogative above personal ambition.

Faces saved. And we start again.

Anyone got Mike Pence's phone number?

I found a new (to me) right-wing rant called, appropriately enough, "The Rant". As I read the editorial by managing editor Frank Salvato, entitled "A Conservative House, Divided Against Itself, Cannot Stand" ("Divided Against Itself" is redundant, BTW), the following statement got my ire:
As for the obscene level that government spending has reached, it needs to be pointed out that Congress approves the budget, not the White House. If real fiscal reform is ever to be attained it will be the appetites of those in Congress that will have to be suppressed. While many waste no time pointing out that President Bush hasn’t once used his veto power where government spending is concerned, it should also be noted that he isn’t the one proposing legislation to pay for the building of bridges that go to uninhabited islands in Alaska.
What is Salvato's argument? He mentions that "many waste no time" (inidicating he's irritated with us) "pointing out that President Bush hasn’t once used his veto power where government spending is concerned", but his counter to this reasonable argument is very weak indeed. The very reasonable point again is that the President has veto power and he has not used it. Perhaps once or twice is forgivable - that is, maybe the Republican leadership assured him that "this is it" insofar as pork or that revenues (taxes) would grow well in-excess of such pork. But this President has signed-off on 6 successive budgets presented to his desk.

Like it or not - the Republican President is the political leader of the Republican party, including the Republicans running Congress. As for Salvato's assertion that fiscal restraint must come from the Congress - this is laughable. Every parent knows a child must be disciplined (led) when he is engaged in foolishness. He will not self-correct. Congress is the child; Bush is the parent. If congress is to present a reasonable budget to the President's desk, the President must demand it.

Jonah Goldberg recently made the rapier distinction that Bush is not Reagan insofar as being anti-state. Bush is rather anti-left and comfortable with the state in its present (or dare i say larger) form. In order for spending to ever be brought under control, the President will need to once again be an anti-state conservative. Anyone got Mike Pence's phone number?

Naive in a different way

Jonah Goldberg has written today a superb article entitled, "Is he one of us?" He addresses the quite reasonable concerns of many conservatives (both social and fiscal) regarding the leadership of President Bush. Says Goldberg:
... the relevant point is that Bush is definitely more of an anti-left guy than an anti-state guy (his valiant efforts at Social Security reform notwithstanding). He's comfortable with a conservative welfare state, hence his expansion of Medicare. Recall that he famously declared that "when someone hurts, government has to move."

Libertarians spontaneously burst into flames when they say things like that.
This last statement about sums-up the thrust of my last 20 or so posts here at R-Nuts. Goldberg continues:
Then there's disappointment. I don't think it violates my moratorium on writing about Miers if I say that her nomination was a letdown for many conservatives. And, while I don't think it's true of Bork himself, I do think many conservatives are using their legitimate anger about Miers and Bush's overspending as an excuse to jump ship from a lame duck presidency at its low point.
Well, my question is (and will be until it is answered), "Will this president turn it around - abandon his spendthrift ways and strong-arm the Republican leadership to do likewise?" I would forgive his lazy choice of Miers for a seat on the Supreme Court in a heartbeat if he'd take the bull (federal deficit and debt) by the horns and bring it into submission. Goldberg wraps up his piece:
I have been critical of Bush's big-government conservatism for years. So I'm not entirely displeased by the venom being unleashed at that aspect of his presidency. However, Bush ran as a big-government conservative. And it's not fair to call our own buyer's remorse a betrayal by the seller.
This is where I believe Goldberg is unfair in his assessment. Call me naive, but I believe Bush conned me. Or perhaps I should say that I conned myself through misreading Bush. I could not fathom that a Republican could be such a fiscal lightweight. Thus, when Bush spoke of "compassionate conservatism" and using government to help - well, quite frankly I thought he was only doing the normal pandering that politicians do - telling people what they want to hear in order to get elected.

I suppose I should admit my naivete and at the same time applaud Bush for at least being a man of his word. While I now see that at the time I hoped he was lying (what does this say of me?), he was in fact telling the truth - albeit a nonsensical, nonworkable truth (is this an oxymoron?). In any event, he was telling *his* truth, as it is vogue to say in our relativistic and pluralistic society.

Has this not been the case with the entire Bush presidency? He does what he believes. There are no Machiavellian layers of skullduggery to his agenda - hard as we might be looking for them, conditioned to do so through 8 years of duplicity in the Clinton administration. Bush is a man of *his* word. That that word may be skewed from reality is the principal issue bothering my conscience. When he says "the state of the Union is strong", he believes it - just as he believes those weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq when we invaded, that our border with Mexico is secure and that America has a "great friend" in Vicente Fox, that Islam "is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others", that Saudi Arabia is "our friend" (though the 15 Saudis among the 19 9/11 hijackers certainly were not) - he really believes these statements.

I may have been naive in voting for a candidate I believed was not going to follow-through on his statements. But then who am I, but a sometimes reasonable nut? He's the President of the United States and I'm beginning to wonder if he's not just as naive - albeit in a different, more tragic way.

~---~


Editor's note: OpinionEditorials.com agreed to publish this piece in a slightly edited (by the author) form. You can read that here.

"A little family clique" which murders its opponents

Why do I suspect that nothing serious will be done about the finding by a UN investigator that the Syrian government was behind the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri?
The diplomat, describing Syria as a "country run by a little family clique," said the involvement of any one in Mr. Assad's inner circle would be a severe blow to the government.

"There is absolutely no doubt, it goes right to the top," he said. "This is Murder Inc."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

No housing bubble, but...

As I read the recent piece by "Fleck" on Greenspan, I happened across an article of his from a few weeks ago, re: the real estate "bubble". I was glad to see him latch onto something I've been saying for a while now: there is not a real estate "bubble", but a credit "bubble".

Get ready for a credit crunch, meaning, higher qualifying standards, fewer products available, layoffs in the lending industries, and other ill effects of the hangover following the euphoria. The reason real estate prices may well decline in general is the same reason that auto prices may decline: less people will be able to qualify for the terms of loans linked to those products and thus, there will be an initial glut of such products. Prices will (must) fall to levels where consumers can again qualify for loans. This applies to any largely-financed "big ticket" items, such as the aforementioned homes and cars. Oddly, logic breaks down when financing large items such as aircraft carriers, bridges to nowhere, and "ending poverty" are considered. Oh, but that's your federal government working for you. Fiscal logic need not apply there; it must be that "New Economy" I was hearing about back in the late 90s.

Greenspan: Hero or Hack?

If you take your cues from the major news media**, insofar as forming your disposition toward the Federal Reserve leadership of Alan Greenspan, you've undoubtedly believed him a savior of sorts. Bill Clinton certainly loved the man openly (albeit one of many instances of open-love in the Clinton years). Many of my officemates still talk glowingly of the heady days of Clinton and Greenspan: the mid-to-late 90s.

There are those, however, who take serious issue with this supposition - the link between excellent fiscal policy and the name Alan Greenspan. One of those is Bill Fleckenstein, who is a contrarian in more than his choice of hairstyle (C'mon, Bill, ditch the modified-mullet!). Fleckenstein starts out:
Alan Greenspan gave a speech recently titled "Economic Flexibility." It should have been called "Damn, I'm Good," because the world's biggest serial bubble blower -- and most incompetent, irresponsible Fed chairman of all time -- tried to rewrite history. My column today will endeavor to set the record straight.
Check out his article for supporting evidence from this reasonable nut.

** - I rather doubt that if you are reading Reasonable Nuts that you take such cues from the mainstream media.

Protected by a ball of snot

"The part of the animal that is exposed to the seawater is covered in a ball of mucus, so they are quite snotty. That is probably a defence mechanism."
I just loved so much the above quote from this story, that I had to post it. My primary blog is mostly down at present, as I've recently replaced my firewall and apparently have something else to tweak.

Hmmm... perhaps we can take a lesson from this creature and surround the federal receipts (taxes) with a similar ball of mucus, keeping it safe from marauding congresspersons.

More water on the flames...

More ominous news today from MarketWatch:
10:00am 10/20/05
U.S. Sept. leading economic indicators fall 0.7%
By Rex Nutting
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - A gauge of future U.S. economic activity declined in September for the third month in a row, indicating slower growth for the rest of the year, the Conference Board said Thursday. The index of leading economic indicators fell 0.7% in September, as the impact of the hurricanes in the Gulf began to be felt in the economic data. It was the biggest decline since March. Economists were expecting the index to fall 0.5%, according to a survey conducted by MarketWatch. The coincident index fell 0.1% in September, the second decline in a row, while the lagging index rose 0.2%.

Michael Steele

There's a nice piece on Michael Steele (Maryland's African-American Republican Lt. Governor) at NewsMax today. Worth a quick read if you are unfamiliar with this rising star, who appears to hold views in-line with Goldwater/Reagan conservative radicalism (a good thing in this nut's opinion). Here's a cute vingette:
He likes to simplify what he perceives as a world of difference between the two parties by way of an anecdote that has a Republican and Democrat walking together through a poor section of town.

The Republican, upon running into a down-and-out person, helps him to his feet, shakes his hand, and gives him his business card and the lead to a job.

Coming upon the next street person, the Democrat demands his own turn. But the Democrat gives the distressed person directions to the welfare office, and then reaches into the pocket of the Republican and hands over $50.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rice to ascend as Cheney makes way?

So Cheney is set to resign and Rice assume the VPcy? Excellent, Smithers; my plans are nearly complete!

Kristol: ‘Mood is Bleak’ at White House

Uh-oh. This posted at Newsmax.com:
Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, said he expects indictments this week in the CIA leak case involving White House advisers Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

Bush's new "faith"

Here is a commentary that I came across, in which Pat Buchanan wrote about how Bush's prosyletization of democracy has become his new cure to bring "peace" to the world. In particular, he talks about how bringing democracy to Iraq has not necessarily brought peace. Certainly, Saddam's dictatorship was a moral atrocity and, in my opinion, needed to be taken care of. I value democracy being an American. But Buchanan makes a good point that the more open the society, the more room there is for terror to be waged. He noted that nations that have dictatorships or harsh governments rarely have terrorist activities (not considering only Islamic states, since many terrorists are from those countries and would not necessarily attack their own).
Not only does democracy offer no guarantee against terror, writes Cause, democracies are the most frequent targets of terror. Not one incident of terror was reported in China between 2000 and 2003, but democratic India suffered 203. Israel, the most democratic nation in the Middle East, endured scores of acts of terror from 2000 to 2005. Syria's dictatorship experienced almost none. While Saddam's Iraq was terror-free, democratic Iraq suffers daily attacks.... Also challenging the Bush faith is Brian Jenkins, a terrorism specialist at RAND. He cites Colombia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Northern Ireland as countries where democracy has failed to end political violence.

I don't think anyone would wish a terrible despotic dictatorship to a country in order to eliminate terrorist threats, but we do need to be aware that with an open society, there is much more freedom to do ill as well as good. Democracy may be good in theory, but it is not utopia. People's free wills (and mindset) are always part of the equation. We just need to hope that this has not set a more catastrophic situation into motion.

The Etiquette of America

I came across some interesting articles today that address different societal behaviors. The first talked about the extreme use of Political Correctness (PC) in England. One example this author used included the following vignette:
Incidentally, one "bobby" asked my "partner" and me to move along. I explained that the "partner" is my wife to which he said, "Sir, we're under strict orders to not discriminate like that." Huh? Must have something to do with not offending nontraditional "domestic partnerships."

The second article discussed the decline of courtesy in our country. It appears that our society has become more and more inconsiderate (or oblivious) over the years. Here is an example that she mentions that I'm sure to which many can relate:
As for cell phones, they've always been the devil's work. They make what's private public and are the height of narcissism: Listen to meeeeeeee!... These people are so self-centered they seem to forget they can set their phones on "vibrate" and still get their calls. Clearly, they're techno-morons.... Confession time: Whenever I see somebody stupid using a cell phone in public and being loud about it, as if they were the only person on the planet at that moment, I want to tell them they may be risking brain cancer. But that would be ... rude, wouldn't it?

If America continues to go the way of Britain, increasing the already ridiculous PC ideology to the extreme, and continues to decrease their sense of courtesy and consideration, where will that leave us?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Living in WoW: redux

My recent commentary here, "Living in WoW" was picked up by OpinionEditorials.com. You can read it here, in it's slightly edited (by me) form.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Slouching Supreme Court, Part 10

According to John Fund:
Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

"Absolutely," said Judge Kinkeade.

"I agree with that," said Justice Hecht. "I concur."

Shortly thereafter, according to the notes, Mr. Dobson apologized and said he had to leave the discussion: "That's all I need to know and I will get off and make some calls." (When asked about his comments in the notes I have, Mr. Dobson confirmed some of them and said it was "very possible" he made the others. He said he did not specifically recall the comments of the two judges on Roe v. Wade.)
Let me state this clearly: I strongly assert that the Roe v. Wade decision was not only morally reprehensible, it was bad law - inserting abortion-on-demand into the Constitution as falling under a "right to privacy". If we were not living in such a politically charged era, such a ruling might readily be redacted - but were we not in such a politicaly charged era, such a ruling would never have entered the panoply of "settled law".

That said, I am disgusted with the assertion of prominent conservatives that Miers should be confirmed simply because she would rule to overturn this abhorrent ruling. It would appear that Dobson could care less whether Miers is an effective jurist on any other matter - or that her opinions are reasoned at all.

This smacks of having the decision drafted already, only to render the supporting opinion in arrears. This is outcome-based jurisprudence and has no place on the High Court.

That these sorts of nefarious judicial machinations are being indulged by current justices (Ginsburg and Kennedy spring to mind) is no excuse for adding a parrot from the right. Don't accuse Scalia or Thomas of this same crime; rather, read their opposing opinions for some of the meatiest arguments you'll find for strict constructionism.

In any event - should Miers be confirmed - she will be crippled as a jurist, the President, as a leader of the conservative movement, and the nation, as a group of once reasonably sovereign individuals who just took a giant collective leap away from freedom.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Living in WoW

Where do you live? I think most of us live in WoW.

Not WoW as in an exclamation befitting a state of reverence - for the gift of life, our manifold blessings, etc. Rather, I think most of us live in WoW, as in a World of Worry.

I started my day today, recovering from a particularly bad cold, by reading Charles Krauthammer's recent piece on the avian and 1918 influenza strains. It is a serious piece, written by a serious man, with serious credentials (he is a medical doctor and psychiatrist in addition to being a level-headed analyst of things political). It is also a scary piece, connecting some dots that, living previously in bliss it would appear, I rather wish had been left unconnected. As I coughed up the previous night's phlegm, I thought of the joking aside I'd been repeating after particularly brutal coughing episodes at home and work: "Dang avain flu!"

Surprisingly, this did not instill in me the grand desire to get cracking on the 6 windows I have to replace in the kitchen before serious work can be done on the floor. Why? I had succumbed to that low-level angst that is living in the World of Worry.

As I drank my Kona Hazelnut coffee and read a few more recent articles at Townhall, I happened across one by Rich Tucker entitled "Now the bad news". While it didn't undo everything that Krauthammer's piece did to me - it couldn't, as there was so much actual truth to that piece - it did remind me that the vast majority of what gets afforded the same level of seriousness as the 1918 piece is absolutely unworthy of that seriousness. One of the hardest personal traits to develop is a granularity of interpretation that allows sensing more than the starkest of contrasts. The news media reinforce this by enhancing the contrast through oversimplification and hyperbole. Says Tucker:
“And you have to wonder, maybe we [the media] make it worse in some respects,” anchor Miles O’Brien added. There’s no need for the “maybe.”

There are serious stories - Krauthammer's piece is one of them. There will be more, though much less frequent than the news media would have you think.

Such is why it's important to step back from time to time - even (especially?) for us social/political/historical/economics/current events junkies - and just tend to our windows.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Everyone has a worldview

I must admit, I like the way David Limbaugh's mind works, inasmuch as his words portray. He seems so thoughtful next to his brother's bombast. He has a very good point here:
Others -- including some conservatives and some liberals, for different reasons -- say that a nominee's faith should not inform his or her jurisprudence. Many secular liberals, for their part, have this pathetically misguided notion that government officials even in the political branches of government should not permit their Christian worldview to inform their policy decisions.

Since they deem the judiciary a political branch as well, they also consider it improper for judges to allow their Christianity to play a role. The liberals' objection here has nothing to do with judicial activism or with government officials of any branch being influenced by their respective worldview. Their objection goes exclusively to the Christian worldview. They are as pleased as pagans if judges become jurisprudential slaves to their secular humanist worldview.
His point - that EVERYONE comes with a governing worldview - is one that needs to be trumpeted loud and often. The left is quick to focus on a Christian's worldview - for it's easy to do so - as it stands often in stark contrast to the values promoted as good and reasonable these days. But the absence of worldview conflict does not mean an absence of worldview; rather, it's that the worldview of the individual is in sync with the aforementioned values.

This is something akin to living in a culture and not realizing you have an accent to your speech (admitting you have an accent would be the second step of awareness). It may not differ from those around you, but travel to another part of the country and you'll sense the conflict. Oh, it may be at first that everyone around you seems to have an accent, but once you're there for a while - perhaps because you have to be for some reason - you'll just possibly realize (and later admit) that you have an accent.

So the question becomes, "how would we best (and most easily) help a man who claims no prevailing worldview guides his actions to see that in fact a very thorough one does?"

Perhaps the answer is in the metaphor above - that we'd have to force him to be in a situation of conflict, that is, living in a situation wherein his worldview is against another set of values.

The Shifting Supreme Court, Part 9

It seems that because of the split between the conservatives/GOP, the President has attempted to "clarify the record" on Miers' nomination. As this article states,

The White House sought to regroup Wednesday by launching a fresh round of political outreach to conservative groups, Republican senators and others who have been critical - or ambivalent - about Miers' nomination. The strategy was designed to "clarify the record" of Miers, which a senior Republican official close to the White House conceded had been "ineffectively articulated" for more than a week - partly because so few people would speak out in support.To get out the message, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared on Wednesday morning television programs and spoke to reporters about Miers, the White House counsel and longtime Bush loyalist, whom he has known for many years from their prior association in Texas. The day before, Bush and wife Laura Bush reiterated their support for Miers.

Behind the scenes, top White House figures such as Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove continued to meet with key Republican constituencies, including bloggers, evangelicals and Senate staffers. But the efforts, both covert and overt, have not quelled criticism. In some cases, the remarks have backfired.

Many people, as opined here by Crampton, find her steath candidacy a problem. He also further stated that aside from Bush's assertion to trust him, his statement that "I know her heart" is even less basis on which to trust his nomination and don't have any real idea how she would serve as a judge. I'm sure Ms. Miers is a fine person and meticulous at her job. Hopefully her Christian worldview will provide her with good ethics, wisdom, and commitment to such a position as on the Supreme Court. However, Crampton made a good point that we still don't know much based on the President's remarks:

President Bush, in what was intended to be the clincher in winning over his base, assured us he "knows her heart." This phrase is a mushy, modern evangelical expression intended to vouch for an individual's faith. It is not a phrase heard in the Roman Catholic or Orthodox traditions, and for good reason: It is entirely unscriptural. Loose language makes for muddled logic. It clouds our thinking and confuses the issue. Scripture provides a clear example of the utter inability of man to truly know the heart. The good prophet Samuel, sent to anoint the next king of Israel, looked on David's eldest brother, Eliab, who apparently presented an impressive outward appearance, and said to himself, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him." But God chastised Samuel and instructed him that "man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." In other words, man cannot see the heart; only God can.

While President Bush obviously knows Ms. Miers well, even he does not know her heart. He cannot be certain that she will stand firm under the intense fire generated against a Supreme Court justice, or how she will vote on particular issues that arise. His claim to know her heart, then, does not clarify anything; it only confuses the matter further. Reduced to its essence, the president's invitation is to simply trust him – this from a man who rode to re-election on the promise to appoint judges in the mold of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. And whatever else Ms. Miers may be, no one has seriously suggested she is another Scalia or Thomas. (Neither is John Roberts, for all his many good qualities.)

I think people's minds would be put more at ease if they had some idea about Miers, regardless of if they agreed or disagreed with it, because the unknown is man's greatest fear. And unfortunately, we can't make an informed decision on non-information. Let's hope that we don't get shafted again with a turncoat or unpredictable judge as has happened in the past.

The World's Smallest Political Quiz

Queen Spoo (QS) is a perennial fan of online quizzes, as am I. In fact, it's (somewhat) how I met my wife - after completing a 45 minute long mega-quiz at eHarmony.com. But that's another story....

So QS e-mailed a bunch of folks a quiz the other day which looked suspiciously like something I recalled from my days as an active member of the Libertarian Party (LP) - roughly 1995-2001. That test-ette was the World's Smallest Political Quiz. You'll see it linked under QS's recommendations - with which I heartily concur.

Take it and discover where you stand in regard to economic and personal freedom.

By the way, I am no longer a member of the LP or any political party. It is my view that no self-respecting libertarian would so adulterate his ideals by subjecting them to party dogma.

Buckle-up for a bumpy ride?

I typically receive one of the following bulletins from MarketWatch daily - usually related to a particular company's events more than a general announcement regarding the economy. Today, thus far, I have received three of the latter sort:
Bulletin: U.S. retail-level inflation up 1.2%, more than expected
Bulletin: U.S. consumer-sentiment reading declines
Bulletin: U.S. industrial output registers biggest decline since '82
None portends good. The "consumer-sentiment reading"... well, I typically care far less about such figures than I do the more hard facts reported. How my neighbor feels about his financial future is not as important to me as what his employer thinks about continuing to employ him. ;-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The "Out-of-Context" Bait and Switch Tactic

The media has been at it again, taking a snippet from a commentary and running wild with the quote out of context in order to tar and feather the one who said it. Enter the case of William Bennett, who has now famously said (only as far as the media reported) "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." In and of itself, it seems inflammatory and racist. However, if you look at his comments in their entirety, it makes complete sense, and shows how ludicrous that type of extreme reaction would be.

It started with a phone call to his radio show, the caller commenting that if there hadn't been the 45 million abortions over the years, then Social Security wouldn't be in jeopardy because there would be that many more in the workforce to keep it afloat. Bennett warned the caller not to look at solely the economic benefits of eradication abortion, but that there are other benefits and repercussions of ending the infanticide in our nation. He went on to say:


"If you wanted to reduce crime, you could – if that were your sole purpose – you could abort every black baby in this country, and our crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."

Bennett apparently said this to make a point of how ridiculous and morally egregious such a "solution" to other problems, such as crime, would be. Some people wonder why he linked the black population with crime, but as Pat Buchanan stated:


Bennett says the issue has arisen in the wake of Katrina, where not only were the black poor the most visible victims, they appear to have been the great majority of victimizers, shooters, looters and rapists preying on the unfortunate. The "whole issue of crime and race" has been on people's minds since New Orleans, The Washington Post quotes Bennett as saying. And, he added, it is aired frequently in academic settings. No big deal.... Yet, according to The Washington Times, the stereotype is rooted in truth. The Times concludes its Bennett article with this stark paragraph: "A study last year by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said that about 44 percent of state and federal prisoners in 2003 were black, 35 percent were white, 19 percent were Hispanic, and 2 percent were of other races." Now, since the white population is six times the black population in America, but blacks outnumber whites in prison five-to-four, algebra tells us violent crime in black America is seven times as great as in the white community.

Economist Walter Williams went on to expound that Bennett's hypothetical response was a way of illustrating a cause-and-effect situation, albeit in an extreme scenario. He also echoes Buchanan's statistics about the disproportionate number of crimes being committed by blacks:

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports for 2003 [a .pdf document], blacks, who are 13 percent of the population, were 49 percent of murder arrests, 33 percent of arrests for rape, and 54 percent of arrests for robberies. That means Bennett's statement was true. One could make another conditional statement: If male babies were aborted, there would be an even larger reduction in crime. While males are slightly less than 50 percent of the population, according to FBI reports, they constitute 90 percent of the arrests for murder, 99 percent of the arrests for rape and 90 percent of the arrests for robberies. What the crime statistics unambiguously demonstrate is that males, as a group, and blacks, as a group, are disproportionately represented in criminal activity. If making the true statement that males are disproportionately represented in criminal activity doesn't make one a sexist, at least I haven't heard such an accusation, why then would making the true statement that blacks are disproportionately represented in criminal activity make one a racist as Bennett has been charged?

Walters goes on to conclude that

Economists Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner argue in their best-selling book, "Freakonomics," that the legalization of abortion has reduced crime because babies who have been aborted were more likely to have grown up poor and in single-parent or teenage-parent households and therefore more likely to commit crimes. Their hypothesis has encountered criticism within the profession, but so far, no one has charged them with racism, sexism or making inappropriate comments.

This is just another situation in which the media has decided to pick and choose what it releases, out of context, in juicy soundbytes that will get lots of attention--particularly negative--against conservatives that they hope to discredit. Unfortunately, it's a double standard that doesn't apply to the left-leaning individuals of society.

Drunken Sailors: Part 12 - This word: discretion.

From the CATO Institute's "what's new" page today:
Bush Beats LBJ on Spending

In the latest Cato Tax and Budget Bulletin, Stephen Slivinski uses revised data released during the summer by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to make side-by-side comparisons of the spending habits of each president during the last 40 years. While the data show that all presidents presided over net increases in spending, George W. Bush is shown to be one of the biggest spenders of them all, even outpacing Lyndon B. Johnson in terms of discretionary spending.

An excerpt from the report: "The increase in discretionary spending - that is, all nonentitlement programs - in Bush's first term was 48.5 percent in nominal terms. That's more than twice as large as the increase in discretionary spending during Clinton's entire two terms (21.6 percent), and just higher than Lyndon Johnson's entire discretionary spending spree (48.3 percent)."
This word: discretion. m-w.com gives a couple of salient definitions. The one which is intended in the phrase "discretionary spending" is:
power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain legal bounds
But I think the one far more appropriate as of late is:
ability to make responsible decisions
We can debate whether Bush and the Congress are acting "within certain legal bounds", but I don't think anyone can take the serious position that the selfsame powers that be can be thought to be acting in such a way as evidence of their ability to make responsible decisions.

I'll remind you what Alan Greenspan recently said of our spending:
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told France's Finance Minister Thierry Breton the United States has "lost control" of its budget deficit, the French minister said Saturday.

"'We have lost control,' that was his expression," Breton told reporters after a bilateral meeting with Greenspan.

"The United States has lost control of their budget at a time when racking up deficits has been authorized without any control (from Congress)," Breton said.

Wickedly unintelligent buffoonery

Jacob Laskin's screed on the 2005 Nobel Peace prize being awarded to Mohamed El-Baradei and his IAEA bureaucracy is reasonable enough, but it begs the question "Who then is the biggest nincompoop?":
  1. Mohamed El-Baradei.
  2. The Nobel Peace Prize awarding committee.
  3. The mainstream press for reporting the awarding of the prize without giving any background on potential axes being actively ground.
  4. Americans, for accepting the prevailing anti-Americanism inherent in the words and actions of a powerful minority as indicative of the views of the entire informed World, or
  5. Me, for spending too much precious time dissecting such wickedly unintelligent buffoonery.

The Shifting Supreme Court, Part 8 (b)

Well, I wouldn't have expected it, but Laura Bush's remark (even though in response to a leading question) is nearly close to her version of a "vast left-wing conspiracy." Even though most of the criticism has come from conservatives from the GOP, her remark that people's concern about Harriet Miers could be motivated by sexism:

Asked by NBC "Today Show" host Matt Lauer if sexism was behind the attacks on Miers, Mrs. Bush said: "That's possible. I think that's possible. I think people are not looking at her accomplishments. They're not realizing that she was the first elected woman to be the head of the Texas Bar Association, for instance. And all the other things. She was the first woman managing partner of a major law firm. She was the first woman hired by her law firm."

Mrs. Bush said her personal interaction with Miers left her very impressed. "I know Harriet well," she told NBC. "I know how accomplished she is. I know how many times she has broken the glass ceiling. She's a role model for young women around our country. Not only that - she's very deliberate and thoughtful and will bring dignity to wherever she goes - and certainly to the Supreme Court."

Actually, none of the criticisms that I have heard *ever* disparaged Miers' nomination because she was a woman. It had, in fact, everything to do with her merits, credentials, and accomplishments of being qualified to be on the Court, contrary to what the First Lady says. Here is a good commentary that echoes my sentiment about this issue, though a bit more sassily.

On another note, as the Democratic senators are looking at subpeonaing James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, to find out what information he was privy to in his conversation with Karl Rove. He said that he told everything he knows to his radio audience, that there wasn't anything particularly meaty that they were trying to imply he knew (click here for the complete transcript).

The privileged information, Dobson said on the broadcast, was that "Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life.".... Dobson did acknowledge Rove told him something he "probably shouldn't know": people on Bush's short list of candidates who removed themselves from consideration. "What Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter that they didn't want to subject themselves or their families to it," he said.

He may yet be subpeonaed, because it appears everybody wants to know everything about Harriet Miers. Apparently, Democrats are fearful if she is against the Roe vs. Wade decision--even though the President purportedly doesn't even know her position, perhaps to be "safe" on the issue--and worry that she may be a force in overturning it. Time will tell...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Drunken Sail... No... The Shifting Supreme Court: Part 8

Sorry about the entry title. I was so used to posting on a particular subject that I found my fingers getting ahead of me. That said...

Here's an interesting overall summary of the conservative huzzah concerning the nomination of Ms. Miers (it is Ms., right?). This I did not know:
Krauthammer and Weekly Standard publisher Bill Kristol, both of whom are FOX News contributors, have called on Miers to withdraw her nomination. Syndicated columnist George Will said the Senate should either not confirm Miers or give up its authority over the nomination process for all intents and purposes.
Let's remember that Kristol is at his most a neo-con. I can't speak regarding the C-factor (conservativeness) of Krauthammer or Will other than to say they strike me as in-line with conservatives at least on a secular level (that is, not to the extent that they would, say, argue the 10 Commandments would be reasonable enforceable public policy today).

Nobel Prize awarded for best porn in 2004

Well, not quite - but that's the opinion of Nobel jurist Knut Ahnlund, who quit the academy in protest over the 2004 literature prize being awarded to Austrian author Elfriede Jelinek. Ahnlund, a Swedish author characterized Jelinek's works as "whingeing, unenjoyable, violent pornography". But this certainly explains everything to us bourgeois English-writing types:
The choice of Nobel laureate is often dismissed as obscure when the winner hails from outside the publishing mainstream of Anglophone authors.

Partial solution to the illegal immigration problem?

Some policies of President Bush's I agree with, but one of which I don't is his blatant opening of our borders to illegal immigrants, not only allowing people who want to come to our free country without going through the proper legal routes (and so we can get more "cheap labor") to become permanent citizens, but also opening the doors wide open for potential terrorists and other miscreants to slip through unnoticed. I'm not opposed to America's being the "Melting Pot," but there are legal ways to come to our country. It's even more dangerous to have such a policy in this day and age. Evidently, Gov. Rick Perry is also fed up with the potential danger of keeping a relatively open border and has proposed some ideas of his own to enhance security. Here is a potential solution of putting up a fenced barrier, much like those erected to keep out highway noise, that are inexpensive to install and difficult to scale. This would be a good investment on the government's part to help cut down on the illegal residents--and worse--out of our country. Bush is our President, our Commander-in-Chief, and the last thing he needs to do is to enforce illegal activities, even if it is just living in our country with all the benefits without paying any taxes.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A call for new blood? (Drunken Sailors: part 11)

Ankle biting has turned into a full-on feeding frenzy, it would seem. Witness: this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer today:
Back when President Bush was riding high - before the public turned sour on Iraq, before conservatives got mad about his lavish federal spending and his Harriet Miers nomination - it was widely assumed that the 2008 Republican presidential candidates would vie amongst themselves for the right to proudly carry their leader's torch.

But that's not happening.

The Republican hopefuls - as many as a dozen men who already are jockeying for advantage - don't want to be perceived as insiders and heirs to the Bush political establishment. On the contrary, most of them are trying to advertise their independence, to distance themselves from Bush on key issues, to appear as rebels fed up with the wicked ways of Washington.
The author goes on to list a sampling of the myriad of "conservative" contenders for the Republican nod in 2008. As I wrote yesterday, Newt Gingrich fancies himself on that list. And as I wrote yesterday, he'd better get over that notion posthaste.

In any regard, the moribund condition of the U.S. economy (relative to what it could be) will not improve unless both the Executive and Legislature revert to fiscally conservative guidance. That means concentrating somewhat less on the Oval Office and somewhat more on Capitol Hill.

Don't make me eat these words - but - I think I'd rather go back to a Democrat in the White House and fiscally conservative congress than have spendthrifts running the total show.

The Shifting Supreme Court, Pt. 7

Here is an interesting interview with Antonin Scalia, the justice after whom conservatives hoped Bush would form his nominee. He was asked his view on the changes in the Supreme Court in these few months, after having the same 9 on board for 11 years. He had an interesting insight into the nomination process of today and whether or not the Supreme Court has become more politicized over the years:
"I don't know, but I wouldn't want to go through it today [laughs]. I’ll tell you that much. It has become politicized. But the reason it has become politicized is that the Supreme Court has been making more and more political decisions that are really not resolved by the Constitution at all. It took a while for the public to figure out what was going on. I think what has happened is that everybody now understands that courts can make tremendously significant social decisions — whether there should be same sex marriage, whether there should be a right to die, whether there should be a right to abortion, all of those things. None of which, you know, to tell the truth, was covered by the Constitution, but the court can say it is and that gives the court a good deal of political power."

No wonder they are wanting the new nominees to be Constitutionalists.

The Shifting Supreme Court, Part 6

The saga continues as only half the the Senate GOP say they support Miers' nomination, saying that they have "specific doubts about Miss Miers or said they must withhold any support whatsoever for her nomination until after the hearings." It has become interesting that her biggest opposition is coming from the President's party, rather than the Democrats, who appear to be sitting back and let the opposition they would normally be putting forth come from the GOP, letting the house divide itself, as it were.

There are also more criticisms that despite her loyalty to President Bush, Miers has made several donations to notable Democrats, even if indirectly through her law firm. Conservatives also don't know what to make of this information, and see her loyalties as divided.

Pat Buchanan also continues about how he thinks merely "trust me" as Bush's reason to confirm Miers is not enough.
"Why did Bush do it? Is he unaware of the history or savagery of this struggle? Does he not understand the cruciality of this one court appointment to conservatives who vaulted him to the nomination over John McCain and gave him the presidency twice? Does he not care?"

The hearings shall be interesting, indeed. If she is confirmed, let's hope she "possesses the judicial philosophy, strength of intellect, firmness of conviction or deep understanding of the gravity of the matters on which her vote would be decisive to be confirmed as associate justice of the Supreme Court." If she is not confirmed, I wonder who Bush's next nominee will be, and how he will go about choosing them after this nomination has gone differently than he probably expected.